Monday, June 27, 2011

Controlling Fat Effects Your Liver

Having too much liver fat is known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. The researchers report online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Early Edition) that when fat collects in the liver, people experience serious metabolic problems such as insulin resistance, which affects the body's ability to metabolize sugar. They also have increases in production of fat particles in the liver that are secreted into the bloodstream and increase the level of triglycerides.

"We don't know exactly why some fats, particularly triglycerides, will accumulate inside the liver and muscle in some people but not in others," says first author Elisa Fabbrini, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine. "But our data suggest that a protein called CD36, which controls the transport of fatty acids from the bloodstream into different tissues, is involved."

Senior Investigator, Samuel Klein, M.D., says those who are obese but don't have high levels of fat in the liver should be encouraged to lose weight, but those with elevated liver fat are at particularly high risk for heart disease and diabetes. He says they need to be treated aggressively to help them lose weight because dropping pounds can make a big difference.
"Fatty liver disease is completely reversible," he says. "If you lose a small amount of weight, you can markedly reduce the fat content in your liver. 

Summary from article: Fat in the Liver,, Aug 25, 2009

Other related articles:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Asparagus - A High Quality Anti-Inflammatory Food

Asparagus is a perennial plant belonging to the Lily family (Liliaceae). There are approximately 300 varieties of asparagus, but only 20 are edible. In terms of commercial production, China (587,500 tons) and Peru (186,000 tons) are currently the world's largest producers and exporters of asparagus. Next are the United States (102,780 tons) followed by Mexico (67,247 tons).

It's not surprising to see asparagus being heralded as an anti-inflammatory food because it provides a truly unique combination of anti-inflammatory nutrients. The medicinal qualities of asparagus have been associated with the phytonutrients present in its roots and shoots, especially one type of phytonutrients called saponins. Saponins have repeatedly been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, and have also been associated with improved blood pressure, improved blood sugar regulation, and better control of blood fat levels.

In conjunction with these anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, asparagus provides a wide variety of antioxidant nutrients, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, and the minerals zinc, manganese, and selenium. Asparagus is comparable to vegetables in the cabbage and cauliflower family, while ranking lower than some of the green leafy vegetables like spinach, on the list of foods high in antioxidants.

Asparagus is widely recognized as providing health benefits for our digestive tract as well. The health benefits involve a special area of digestive support called "prebiotics" offered by a compound known as inulin. Asparagus contains concentrations of inulin, a unique type of carbohydrate called a polyfructan. Unlike most other carbs, inulin doesn't get broken down in the first segments of our digestive tract. It passes undigested all the way to our large intestine. Once it arrives at our large intestine, it becomes an ideal food source for certain types of bacteria (like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli) that are associated with better nutrient absorption, lower risk of allergy, and lower risk of colon cancerAnti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients are some of the best risk reducers known for chronic health problems.

Preliminary research has found health links between asparagus and type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Asparagus emerges as an excellent source of folic acid and a very good source of vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6. Asparagus also contains the B vitamins choline, biotin, and pantothenic acid. Because B vitamins play a key role in the metabolism of sugars and starches, they are critical for healthy blood sugar management. And because they play a key role in regulation of homocysteine, they are critical in heart health has well. (Homocysteine is an amino acid, and when it reaches excessive levels in our blood, it is a strong risk factor for heart disease.)

Along with its impressive list of B vitamins, asparagus provides us with about 3 grams of dietary fiber per cup, including more than 1 gram of soluble fiber. Intake of soluble fiber has repeatedly been shown to lower our risk of heart disease, and our risk of type 2 diabetes can be significantly lowered as our intake of dietary fiber increases.

Asparagus should be used within a day or two after purchasing for best freshness, flavor and texture. Store in the refrigerator with the ends wrapped in a damp paper towel to minimize the "respiration rate" (the speed at which the metabolic breakdown occurs). 

The information in this summary was provided by

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Growing A Garden

This year as we tilled up our small garden area, my husband asked what vegetables are 'safe' (anti-inflammatory) for me to eat. I responded by saying let's plant vegetables everyone can eat. His favorite are fresh tomatoes, mine is zucchini. Our kids and grandkids will eat everything! What a delight to be able to offer them a few fresh options.


So often in the city, children do not get to experience growing their own food. They get used to convenience foods as they get rushed here and there for activities or errands. As I watch my daughter prepare to take her kids to the park (or any outing), she always takes along healthy snacks and drinks for everyone. It seems so natural for her to do - and it just amazes me. She works hard to integrate all the food groups into her children's lives and she is mindful of what I can and cannot eat. 

This year we hope to involve the grandkids in caring for our garden. When the time comes to harvest, I will enjoy the look on their faces as they squish into a bright red sweet cherry tomato! You can imagine that freshness, can't you?

One step at a time, we can pass down the tradition of eating a variety of nutritious, FRESH foods that help our bodies grow, develop and THRIVE. My motivation is to build a foundation for these little ones now in their early years, so they won't have to suffer serious health issues in their lifetime. If by chance they do, at least they will understand the importance of having fresh foods in their diets.

Hope you have the chance to plant some vegetables or herbs where you live. Potted plants can thrive quite well too with adequate water and care. Blessings to you and your family. Take care!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Healing Foods - Oh, Yum-Yum

INFLAMMATION is the body's first response to injury, infection or excess weight. Often ice or heat are applied to an injured area to relieve pain and swelling. When we EAT inflammatory foods, our fatty tissues are triggered to secrete metabolic hormones to help regulate our immune system's response to the inflammation. By choosing to eat different foods, we can 'cool down' our immune response to aid in healing. 

Some of the foods in the anti-inflammatory group include:

Apples, Avocados, Berries, Cherries, Citrus     

 Bell Peppers, Broccoli, Cauliflower                    

Chard, Garlic, Green Beans,                              

Leeks, Olives, Spinach, Sweet Potatoes      

Halibut, Salmon, Snapper, Trout, Tuna        

Cinnamon, Ginger, Licorice, Turmeric    

And WATER, WATER, WATER                              
(For a more expanded list of foods, go to

FOODS to AVOID - Inflammatory No-No's:
Flour, sugar, processed foods, soda     

Nightshade veggies: potatoes, tomatoes  
(For more information and an expanded food list, see my two prior posts about Nightshade Vegetables.)

If you suffer from chronic inflammation, you might consider changing your diet and see if it helps your health and well-being.
I appreciate your visit today - and wish you all the best this day has to offer! Blessings -

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Nutrient Factors

Often times we would like to find out the nutritional information of a specific food or perhaps analyze a recipe. has an extensive database with thousands of foods allowing you a unique opportunity to select a food and query as to it's nutritional values.  By clicking on the food summary, you will see the ever familiar nutritional fact label, breaking down per serving calories and percentage of daily nutritional needs. There are colorful diagrams for Fullness & Nutrition Factors along with a Caloric Ratio. Included in the analysis is a Glycemic Index load and an Inflammation Factor for the food. The final two diagrams offer the visual impact of the percentage of essential nutrients in the form of proteins, fats, and vitamins  and the quality of the essential amino acidsBecause this is such a colorful visual presentation, it is very impressive. Click on this link to view the nutritional value of an avocado:

Another unique feature of is the ability to enter a recipe and find out it's nutritional value. This helps to analyze the breakdown of calories, fats and carbohydrates. After entering your ingredients and the amounts, you can save and analyze the recipe. If you wish to make substitutions at this time you can go back and change ingredients, making healthier substitutions and then view the nutritional changes. Click here to see my (anti-inflammatory) recipe for Chicken Chile:

A final enjoyable feature of the website is the "Topics" menu offering current articles on: Dieting & Weight Loss, Heart Health, Diabetes, Better Choices Diet, Glycemic Index, Fullness Factor, Fatty Acids, Food Additives, Effects of Processing Foods, Recipes and Nutrition News.

The Nutrition Data website is centered around making wise choices for eating healthier foods. You can choose to track your daily food journal and at the end the day view the complete analysis (as listed above) and see if the foods you are eating are a source of inflammation in your body. You can learn to explore new foods by selecting one of the epicurious recipes and immediately know whether it fits into your food plan or not, by the list of nutrients given with the recipe. You can make food planning fun again by visiting this website and clicking on the various buttons. Enjoy your day by treating yourself to this new tool.