Saturday, February 28, 2009

What Matters Most

At Thanksgiving, Anne, a family friend, looked and sounded great.

Today she is dying of cancer. In the last few weeks she has lost her eyesight. Half her face is paralyzed. And she has refused more chemo, describing the results of last week's MRI as "just horrible."

When I walked into Hallmark, I told the clerk I was looking for a special kind of card.

"It's for someone who isn't well," I said. "And she knows she isn't going to get better."

The clerk nodded, said she knew just what I needed and led me to a special section with headings like "Hope," "Strength," and "Serious Illness."

Standing there reading the messages in those cards, thinking of all the grief-stricken people out there selecting them - or (worse) receiving them - is enough to make you want to sob.

I finally settled on "May you gather strength from the love of those around you," scrawled a note about how I'd love to stop in if she felt like visitors, and dropped it in the mailbox.

When he began teaching at Cornell, the Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov said he knew just two things: One, life is beautiful, and two, life is sad. The reason life is sad, he said, is because it's going to end.

Yet death, our most unwelcome visitor, can also do us a favor. It can remind us, the mourners, what's most important.

As Jack Kerouac observed, "Pondering on death, with or without wine - brings enlightenment."

Too many of us spend our days moving with the hustling crowd, mindlessly doing more or less what everyone else is doing, acting like we have all the time in the world. That is, until we get a wake-up call and learn that someone close to us has had a bad accident or is suddenly very ill.

Increased awareness of our own mortality needn't lead to fear and anxiety, however. We can use it as an opportunity to answer the question posed by poet Mary Oliver, "Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

Do you know? Or are you so consumed with projects, deadlines, and responsibilities that you haven't given it much thought lately?

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. And this realization is a good thing.

Viewed from the prospect of eternity, we are really no more durable than the mayfly. Many spend their time just as frivolously. Others are bored. As author Susan Ertz quipped, "Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon."

Greek mythology, on the other hand, gives us the story of Tithonus, a Trojan who was granted immortality by the gods but grew to hate his life.

Whatever path he chose, he could always take it later. Whatever options he faced, ultimately he could have them all. Time became meaningless, oppressive even. He lost his ardor for life. In the end, he petitions Zeus to release him from eternity. He begs for mortality so that, once again, his choices might matter.

Each of us has been granted an incomparable gift, a brief stay on this little blue ball. How will you spend it? To what end will you use it?

These are the most important questions we can ask ourselves. And the answers can be read in the way we live our lives.

"Death is not the greatest loss," Norman Cousins warned. "The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live."

Doctors generally observe that terminal patients who have truly lived their lives - who have strived and loved and taken risks - generally have an easier time with their dying.

Patients in nursing homes routinely express more regret for the chances they never took than the ones that worked out poorly.

Singer Bono, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and granted numerous awards for his activism for world poverty, said in a recent interview, "I'm tired of dreaming. I'm into doing at the moment."

He is someone who has chosen to live life on his own terms and in service to the values that matter to him most. It is unlikely that you or I will ever accomplish as much. But that's okay.

For most of us, born without the immense talents of a da Vinci or Beethoven or Lincoln, the true measure of our lives is not what we achieve - and certainly not what we accumulate - but rather who we are, the number of people we touch, and what is grieved in our absence.

As the novelist E.M. Forster observed, "Death destroys a man, but the idea of death saves him."

Carpe Diem, Alex Green

Source:  SpiritualWealth

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tuna and Eggs Keep Your Brain Big... Stop Shrinkage from Age Through B12

As if wrinkles weren’t bad enough, turns out our brains tend to shrivel as we age, too. Could eggs and tuna be the key to less shrinkage? 

Research makes it seem so. Why? Because both tuna and eggs are good sources of vitamin B12. And B12 may help keep brain atrophy in check. 

How Low Is Low?
In a 5-year study, people in their 60s and beyond who were low -- but not deficient -- on 
B12 were three to six times more likely to have brain atrophy than did people on the higher end of the normal B12 range. So being even a little low may be bad. Make sure you’re getting enough by taking a supplement or eating B12-rich foods -- like eggs and tuna. 

Why Bigger Is Better
Brain shrinkage is commonly seen in people with Alzheimer’s disease, and more and more research points to a connection between cognitive function and B12 levels. So that may explain the connection with brain shrinkage. 
B vitamins may help ward off stroke, too. 

Want to give your brain a workout?  Boost your verbal dexteity and exercise your mind with word and number games, crossword puzzles, and engaging & provoking conversation.

Vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin. Water-soluble vitamins are stored in the body in very limited amounts and are excreted through the urine. Therefore, it is a good idea to have them in your daily diet. Vitamin B12, the most complex of the vitamins, contains the metal ion, cobalt, in its structure.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include the following:

  • Pernicious or megaloblastic anemia
  • Numbness and tingling of the arms or legs
  • Difficulty walking
  • Fatigue
  • Sore tongue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Memory loss
  • Disorientation
  • Moodiness
  • Damage to the myelin sheath, the protective covering around nerves
  • Dementia

Here are tips to help increase your intake of vitamin B12:

  • Rub a little olive oil, squeeze a bit of fresh lemon, and crack some black pepper and salt on a fresh piece of salmon. Grill on the barbeque or broil it in the oven.
  • Have a bowl of fortified, high-fiber breakfast cereal in the morning.
  • Mix canned tuna with some olive oil, white beans, and salt and pepper. Enjoy with some whole wheat crackers.
  • For an afternoon snack, try a cup of yogurt. Jazz it up with some sliced fresh fruit or crunchy granola.
  • Skewer large shrimp with mushrooms, tomatoes, onion, and zucchini. Brush on a marinade and toss on the barbeque.
  • If you take a multivitamin/mineral supplement, make sure that it contains B12.
Major Food Sources
(Be Aware That Some of These Foods May Have Other Risks)
FoodServing size
Vitamin B12 content 
Clams, steamed3 oz84
Beef liver, cooked3 oz60
Mussels, steamed3 oz20.4
Fortified breakfast cereal¾ cup6
Rainbow trout, cooked3 oz5.3
Salmon, cooked3 oz4.9
Beef, cooked3 oz2.1
Milk1 cup0.9
Yogurt1 cup0.9
Egg1 large0.5
Brie cheese1 oz0.5
American cheese1 oz0.4
Chicken, roasted3 oz0.3
Related Articles:  Why You Don't Want to Run Low on Vitamin B12

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bipolar Disorder: What Is It?

Most Important Risk is Suicide

Bipolar disorder, which used to be called manic depressive illness or manic depression, is a mental disorder characterized by wide mood swings from high (manic) to low (depressed).

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Periods of high or irritable moods are called "manic" episodes. The person becomes very active, but in a scattered and unproductive way, sometimes with painful or embarrassing consequences. Examples are spending more money than is wise or getting involved in sexual adventures that are regretted later. A person in a manic state is full of energy or very irritable, may sleep far less than normal, and may dream up grand plans that could never be carried out. The person may develop thinking that is out of step with reality — psychotic symptoms — such as false beliefs (delusions) or false perceptions (hallucinations). During manic periods, a person may run into trouble with the law. If a person has milder symptoms of mania and does not have psychotic symptoms, it is called a "hypomanic" episode.

Bipolar disorder is now divided into two subtypes (bipolar I and bipolar II). Bipolar I disorder is the classic form where a person has had at least one manic episode. In bipolar II disorder, the person has never had a manic episode, but has had at least one hypomanic episode and at least one period of severe depression. Bipolar II disorder may be more common than bipolar I. A third disorder, closely related to bipolar disorder, is cyclothymia — people with this disorder fluctuate between hypomania and mild or moderate depression.

The vast majority of people who have manic episodes also experience periods of depression. If manic and depressive symptoms overlap for a period, it is called a "mixed" episode. In some people, moods alternate rapidly or it is difficult to tell which mood — depression or mania — is more prominent.

People who have one manic episode most likely will have others if they do not seek treatment. The illness tends to run in families. Unlike depression, in which women are more frequently diagnosed, bipolar disorder happens nearly equally in men and women. Bipolar I and II disorders occur in up to 4% of the population.

The most important risk of this illness is the risk of suicide. People who have bipolar disorder are also more likely to abuse alcohol or other substances.

Source:  Everyday Health

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Is Your Electric Blanket Safe?

Winter is upon you if you live in the northern hemisphere, and with this challenging economy you are probably interested in lowering your thermostat and conserving energy while still staying warm.

An electric blanket seems like a good idea. You can turn the thermostat down at bedtime and stay comfortable throughout the night.

But the central question is:  Are they safe?

It’s true -- electric blankets are convenient and cost effective. But it is important to know that they may also be hazardous to your health.

In addition to the fire danger associated with a defective or an old, worn electric blanket, there is also another health risk to consider -- the electromagnetic field you’ll be sleeping under for several hours every night.

What is an Electromagnetic Field?

An electromagnetic field (EMF) is an invisible zone of energy that surrounds electric devices and wiring.

EMFs are actually comprised of two fields:

  • an electric field, and
  • magnetic field

The electric field is created by voltage, which determines the force with which the electricity is pushed through wires. Most electric fields can be shielded by the design of the appliance, or physically, by walls or other barriers.

The magnetic field is created by the current, which is the amount of electricity being pushed. Magnetic fields, which are the main cause of health concerns, can travel through most barriers and for long distances, and are difficult to block.

All electromagnetic energy falls somewhere on the electromagnetic spectrum, ranging from extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation to microwaves, x-rays and gamma rays.

ELF fields are generated by household appliances, including electric blankets, and overhead power lines, which have been linked to an increased risk of cancer such as leukemia.

The Dangers of Electromagnetic Energy to Your Health

When electricity passes through a wire, it creates an electromagnetic field that exerts force on nearby objects, including animals and humans.

At one time it was believed that low-level magnetic fields were not harmful, but scientists now agree that ELF fields are indeed hazardous to human health. They are now considered “probable carcinogens,” and have been linked to cases of childhood leukemia, lymphoma and other health conditions. The exact mechanism by which exposure leads to cancer has not been established. But one potential mechanism may be due to ELFs ability to alter the expression of certain genes; turning them on and off at inappropriate times, which may cause them to initiate cell proliferation.

Additionally, the BioInitiative Report, published August 31, 2007 by an international working group of scientists, researchers and public health policy professionals, documents serious scientific concerns about the radiation emitted from power lines, cell phones, and many other sources of exposure to radiofrequencies and electromagnetic fields in daily life.

It concludes that the existing standards for public safety are completely inadequate to protect your health. The report includes studies showing evidence that electromagnetic fields can:

  • Affect gene and protein expression (Transcriptomic and Proteomic Research)
  • Have genotoxic effects – RFR and ELF DNA damage
  • Induce stress response (Stress Proteins)
  • Affect immune function
  • Affect Neurology and behavior
  • Cause childhood cancers (Leukemia)
  • Impact melatonin production; Alzheimer’s Disease; Breast Cancer
  • Promote breast cancer (Melatonin links in laboratory and cell studies)

Why Electric Blankets are A Bigger Threat Than Other Household Appliances

Researchers have concluded that you should not only be aware of the potential harm of low-level magnetic fields, you should also limit your exposure as much as possible. This is especially true for appliances held close to the body, as would be the case with electric blankets.

The magnetic fields given off by various household appliances diminish sharply the farther you are from the appliance. In the case of electric blankets, however, a study conducted by Dr. Nancy Wertheimer in the mid-1980’s demonstrated that the reading at any power level (level 1 all the way up to level 9 or 10) was 10 to 20 mG (milliGauss) next to the blanket, and 5 to 10 mG six inches away from it.

These numbers represent the field strength to which you’re exposed when sleeping under an electric blanket. The current is balanced at the center of the blanket, but unbalanced at the outer edges. It is the imbalance that causes a significant magnetic field to be generated.

While there is heated debate as to what EMF level is considered safe, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a safety standard of 1 mG, but many experts believe even this level is too high. As you can see, electric blankets are capable of creating a magnetic field anywhere from 5 to 20 times higher than the EPA’s proposed safe level of exposure. Meanwhile, many scientists warn that the enforced standards for electromagnetic exposures are too lax, and that the safety standards need to be revised in order to protect human health.

Specific Risks Linked to Electric Blanket EMFs

Electric blankets create a magnetic field that penetrates about 6-7 inches into your body -- for hours at a time. This qualifies as chronic exposure.

Epidemiological studies have linked electric blankets with miscarriages and childhood leukemia.

Recent data reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that regular use of an electric blanket may increase breast cancer risk in some women, and according to a 2007 report published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, using electric blankets was associated with a 15 percent higher prevalence of endometrial cancer than never having used one. The same study also revealed that the use of electric blankets for 20 years or more was associated with 36 percent higher prevalence of endometrial cancer.

Other studies have shown that the EMFs generated by electric blankets suppress melatonin production. Melatonin is the most important detox agent for your brain and is also an anti-inflammatory. Electromagnetic radiation can make inflammation worse by creating more potent mycotoxins, so reducing inflammation is vital.

Research included in the BioInitiative Report mentioned above have also found links between melatonin disruption and the promotion of breast cancer.

Electric Blankets and Pregnancy

This clearly is not a good idea and something that is easily avoided. The unborn fetus is likely the most susceptible to this type of EMF radiation. 

Additionally, if you use an electric blanket during early pregnancy, you may increase the risk of

Studies indicate that women who used an electric blanket around the time of conception and during early pregnancy were nearly twice as likely to miscarry than women who did not.

Is There a “Risk Free” Electric Blanket?

In response to EMF concerns, U.S. electric blanket manufacturers now sell blankets that claim to generate no harmful electromagnetic radiation.

Although these “zero magnetic field” blankets reduce or eliminate magnetic fields, they may still generate electric fields.

In my opinion, even minimal exposure poses an unnecessary risk, especially for children, pregnant women, people who are chronically exposed to EMFs from other sources, and those with Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome (EHS).

Safe Alternatives to Your Electric Blanket

  • Flannel sheets
  • An extra blanket
  • Wear socks, or even a hat, to bed
  • A hot water bottle

If you insist on using an electric blanket, turn it on before bedtime and leave the room while it warms your bed. Before you retire for the night, turn off the blanket and unplug it in order to eliminate EMF exposure.

By Dr. Mercola

Friday, February 20, 2009

Eggs May Reduce High Blood Pressure

Researchers in Canada are reporting evidence that eggs — often frowned upon for their high cholesterol content — may reduce another heart disease risk factor — high blood pressure.

They describe identification of egg proteins that act like a popular group of prescription medications in lowering blood pressure. The report appeared in the Feb. 11 issue of ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.

In the new study, Jianping Wu and Kaustav Majumder note that eggs are an inexpensive source of high-quality protein and other nutrients. Egg consumption, however, has decreased during the last 40 years amid concerns about cholesterol. Recent studies do suggest that healthy people can eat eggs without increasing their heart disease risk. Other research hinted that certain egg proteins might have effects similar to ACE inhibitors, prescription drugs used to treat high blood pressure.

Pursuing that lead in laboratory studies, the scientists identified several different peptides in boiled and fried eggs that act as potent ACE inhibitors. The scientists showed that enzymes in the stomach and small intestine produce these peptides from eggs. Fried eggs had the highest ACE inhibitory activity. It will take studies in humans to determine if the egg proteins do lower blood pressure in people, the scientists emphasized. Funding for the research came from livestock and poultry industry groups.

Cooking for the Family

Many moms and dads who have diabetes know how to keep their health in check – but their family might miss the fat and sugar usually found in common recipes. So how does a family chef balance the diabetic-friendly food with some treats for the clan?

For every time you cook a “rich” meal, have them eat a meal low in fat and sugar, recommends the American Diabetes Assoication (ADA). This way, you can work out an agreeable trade-off.

Over time, you can make subtle switches to your favorite meals by substituting healthyalternatives.

Some ideas:

●Use salsa on potatoes instead of heavy butter and sour cream.

●Instead of whole milk, slowly transition to 2%, then 1%, then fat-free. If children in the house need more fat in their milk (your pediatrician will let you know), have a separate carton for them, and use the lower-fat version for cooking and for adults to drink.

●Switch white pasta for whole-wheat pasta a little at a time: first a few noodles, then ¼ of the dish, then half, then the entire plate.

●To switch to whole-grain bread, make kids their sandwiches with one slice of whole grain and one slice of their usual bread for a while. They’ll like the unusual look of a “two-toned” sandwich and will get used to the taste over time.

●Introduce reduced-fat cheese, tortillas, crackers, peanut butter and other options one at a time. Most of the time, your family won’t notice.

Slow changes will be more acceptable to your family and are more likely to stick. In fact, if you fail to mention some of the substitutions, your family is likely not to notice. As you know, however, a diet that’s good for people with diabetes is good for everyone. You’re helping your whole family live a longer and healthier life.

Compiled from 101 Tips for Coping with Diabetes. Copyrighted by the American Diabetes Association. All rights reserved.

Source:  LifeScript


The Six Super Foods Every Woman Needs

The foods you really need to stay you healthy and strong

From the food pyramid to the Internet to your local bookstore, there is certainly no shortage of advice on nutrition and healthy eating. But with all the media hype surrounding many “health foods,” it can be hard for a woman to tell the nutrients from advertising ploys.

“We are sometimes led to believe that a specific food is healthier than it really is,” says nutritionist Elizabeth Somer, MS, RD, author of Age-proof Your Body. “Or that you need some exotic or expensive form of certain nutrients to gain benefits -- and most of the time that’s not true.”

Moreover -- as happened in the '90s when low fat cookies made everyone temporarily forget about calories -- Somer says some of today’s advertising sways us toward one healthy aspect of a food to keep us from noticing other, less healthy attributes. “A product may advertise itself as ‘no cholesterol’" she says, “but it still can be loaded with bad fats or tons of calories. You have to look at the total food to know for sure.”

NYU nutritionist Tara Miller, MS, RD, agrees. “You have to read the whole label, look at all the ingredients and the portion sizes, before you know for sure just how healthy a food is.”

Or you can let us do the work for you! To help you zero in on the healthiest foods that women can eat, we asked a panel of experts for their advice.

What follows is a description of the six super foods they say every woman needs. While these foods won’t cover all your nutrient bases, incorporating them into your diet as often as possible can help give you a wide range of protection.

Super foods for women: What you need

Super Food # 1: Low-fat yogurt

Goal: 3 to 5 servings a week

What it does: As a health food, yogurt is almost as old as, well, good health itself. But experts say evidence continues to accumulate that reveals its benefits in many new and exciting ways. And not just yogurt. Somer tells WebMD that any fermented dairy product -- including kefir -- contains healthy “probiotics” -- bacteria with the power to protect you in myriad ways.

“There is a suggestion [that yogurt] may decrease the risk of breast cancer,” Somer says. ”And there’s very strong evidence it can reduce problems associated with irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory digestive tract disorders -- both conditions that impact women more than men.” Additionally, she says, yogurt can help reduce the risk of stomach ulcers and vaginal infections.

Enjoy a cup of yogurt at breakfast, lunch, or snack to help meet the U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommendation for three servings of low fat dairy each day. “It’s loaded with bone-healthy calcium -- something every woman needs more of at every age,” Somer says. One cup of yogurt has about 448 mg of calcium, compared to just 300 for eight ounces of skim milk.

From the food pyramid to the Internet to your local bookstore, there is certainly no shortage of advice on nutrition and healthy eating. But with all the media hype surrounding many “health foods,” it can be hard for a woman to tell the nutrients from advertising ploys.

“We are sometimes led to believe that a specific food is healthier than it really is,” says nutritionist Elizabeth Somer, MS, RD, author of Age-proof Your Body. “Or that you need some exotic or expensive form of certain nutrients to gain benefits -- and most of the time that’s not true.”

Moreover -- as happened in the '90s when low fat cookies made everyone temporarily forget about calories -- Somer says some of today’s advertising sways us toward one healthy aspect of a food to keep us from noticing other, less healthy attributes. “A product may advertise itself as ‘no cholesterol’" she says, “but it still can be loaded with bad fats or tons of calories. You have to look at the total food to know for sure.”

NYU nutritionist Tara Miller, MS, RD, agrees. “You have to read the whole label, look at all the ingredients and the portion sizes, before you know for sure just how healthy a food is.”

Or you can let us do the work for you! To help you zero in on the healthiest foods that women can eat, we asked a panel of experts for their advice.

What follows is a description of the six super foods they say every woman needs. While these foods won’t cover all your nutrient bases, incorporating them into your diet as often as possible can help give you a wide range of protection.

The key, according to Somer, is to choose a low fat yogurt with live cultures -- like Lactobacillus acidophilus. And do check the label, Somer advises. Some store brands may not have the level of cultures found in more established brands.

Also important: Skip the fruit-on-the-bottom or other flavored varieties. “Too much sugar,” says Somer, who also reminds us that, no, those two blueberries on the bottom of the container do not constitute a serving of fruit!

Super Food # 2: Fatty fish -- like salmon, sardines, and mackerel

Goal: 2 to 3 servings every week

What it does: The healthy factor in fish is omega-3 fatty acids, and specifically two types known as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).

“Fatty fish not only plays a vital role in the health of the membrane of every cell in our body, it also helps protect us from a number of key health threats,” says Laurie Tansman, MS, RD, CDN, a nutritionist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

Some of those threats include heart disease, stroke, hypertension, depression, joint pain, and a number of illnesses linked to inflammation, including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Somer says fish may even offer some protection against Alzheimer’s disease.

While many foods -- such as walnuts, flaxseed oil, and some mayonnaise brands -- claim the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, Somer cautions that only the DHA or EPA forms of omega-3 can be directly used by the body.

“What you get in foods like walnuts and flaxseed oil is an omega-3 acid known as ALA -- alpha-linoleic acid,” says Somer. “And while it’s certainly good for you, it requires a process in the body to convert it to DHA. And that conversion process can be influenced by a variety of individual factors.”

The good news: You are likely to see a wheelbarrow full of new products supplemented with DHA slowly making their way to market in the coming year. Currently, Kellogg is reportedly developing a cereal fortified with DHA, while a company called Nutri-Kids has already launched a DHA fortified ready-to-drink milk product. You can also find eggs fortified with DHA and, says Somer, certain brands of soymilk.

Super Food # 3: Beans

Goal: 3 to 4 servings every week

What it does: Low in fat, beans are a good source of protein and fiber and may have protective effects against heart disease and breast cancer. Beans may also play a role in stabilizing female hormones, says nutritionist Susan Krause, MS, RD.

“Beans have been around so long that most people don’t view them as a fancy new health food,” Krause says. “But in fact, they are among one of the healthiest things a woman can eat.”

In studies published in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers found that beans in general, and lentils in particular, may have some protective effects against breast cancer. In research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, doctors found a relationship between a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and a higher intake of legumes. Well known legumes include peas, beans, lentils, and peanuts.

As a source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, Krause says, beans can help lower cholesterol, while their level of a nutrient known as isoflavone can help in the regulation of hormones and may aid with PMS, perimenopause, or menopause symptoms. Although soybeans have among the highest levels of isoflavones, other sources include red clover, kudzu, mung beans, alfalfa sprouts, black cohosh, and chickpeas.

“Beans also contain something called protease inhibitors, which may help protect against breast cancer,” says Krause. Protease inhibitors help slow the division of cancer cells and in this way may prevent tumor formation.

Last but not least, if you are in your reproductive years, beans can give you a steady supply of folic acid -- essential if you should become pregnant.

Super Food # 4: Tomatoes (or watermelon, red grapefruit, red navel oranges)

Goal: 3 to 5 servings each week

What it does: The powerhouse nutrient in all these fruits is lycopene. And, according to Miller, while the headlines touted its protective effects against prostate cancer, more quiet research has shown it has tremendous health benefits for women as well.

“Research is starting to show that lycopene may protect against breast cancer,” Miller says. "And it’s also a powerful antioxidant that can help a woman fight heart disease.” 

The very latest research shows it may also help keep you looking younger longer by protecting against UV damage from the sun.

Super Food # 5: Vitamin D fortified low fat milk or orange juice 

Goal: At least 400 IUs of vitamin D daily

What it does: “Essential to helping the bones absorb calcium from the gut,” says Somer, “vitamin D helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis and may be vital in reducing the risk of diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and tumors of the breast, colon, and ovary.”

Indeed, recent studies from the University of California San Diego suggest that vitamin D has the potential to prevent up to one–half of all breast, colon, and ovarian cancer in the United States.

Somer tells WebMD that a growing body of research indicates many women may be vitamin D deficient. “A combination of staying out of the sun (which the body uses to manufacture vitamin D) and using sunscreen, which blocks the synthesis of vitamin D, has resulted in many women hitting a dangerously low level of this nutrient,” says Somer.

While Vitamin D is found in salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines, experts say fortified foods, such as milk, are the best source.

Super Food # 6: Berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries)

Goal: 3 to 4 servings every week

What It Does: In a way similar to wine, these fruits may protect your body with powerful anti-cancer nutrients known as anthocyans, which are believed to play a role in cell repair. Krause says research shows anthocyans may decrease the risk of several cancers, including those in the breast and gastrointestinal tract.

“These berries,” says Krause, “are also high in vitamin C and folic acid, which is essential for all women in their childbearing years. And they offer powerful anti-oxidant protection, which not only protects the heart but also may protect against skin aging, from the inside out.” Moreover, she tells WebMD that cranberries may help reduce the risk of urinary tract infections in women, while the nutrient, lutein found in all the berries, can help protect vision.

By Colette Bouche, 

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD 

Source:  WebMD