Eggs – Good Bad or Indifferent?
The push to cut down on eggs, particularly yolks, has tapered, with eggs now shown not to have the impact on cholesterol as previously thought. Most of the cholesterol in our bodies is produced naturally and does not come from our food. Eggs (especially those that are pastured & local) are a great source of essential amino acids. These unique building blocks of proteins cannot be produced by the body and must come from food.
Two caveats on the benefits of eggs… Though some recommend yolks as part of a brain-healthy diet when consumed more than moderately, eggs (particularly yolks) and poultry (with skin) have been shown to correlate with a higher incidence of prostate cancer recurrence or progression. Men, particularly those who fall in higher-risk categories, beware.
In addition, some people have unknown food sensitivities. Sensitivity to eggs – which often exists below the pain threshold but can have adverse physiological and biological effects – is more common than many realize. Those with such a sensitivity who consume eggs (especially frequently or in greater volume) may see they adversely impact cognition, or exacerbate headaches, upset stomach, etc. If you notice persistent symptoms or those that fluctuate along with things you eat, it might be a good idea to be tested for food sensitivities.
One of the more distinctive and restrictive anti-inflammatory diets is The Bulletproof Diet. It replaces sugars with healthy fats, incorporates a focus on organic food, is gluten-free and does not allow beans. Eliminating all processed foods and grains limits sugars dramatically, as does moderating natural sugars by limiting fruit intake. Ghee (pictured above), which is butter minus the milk solids and water, leaving only butterfat, is another healthy fat that is a staple of this program. Bulletproof Coffee can keep you feeling full and focused. I’ve gotten first-hand reports!
There is much advice out there regarding diet, some of it conflicting. However, there are some commonalities.
Getting the most attention for what are often termed heart healthy diets are the Mediterranean and DASH diets. Each has been shown to be effective and personal preference may play a role in which to choose if you if you want a specific food program. A Mediterranean Diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, olive oil, beans, legumes and herbs and leans more toward fish for protein. In this diet, dairy, poultry and then lean meat are at the top of the food pyramid, to be eaten in measured amounts. It is a plan that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
The DASH diet (DASH stands for Dietary Approaches To Stop Hypertension) has some similarities but is less restrictive of low fat dairy. Here is a comparison between the two.
Both diet plans, like the generic anti-inflammatory and brain-healthy recommendations, include a lot of fiber from vegetables and fruits. All heart healthy food plans limit sugar and salt. Sodium, which can cause water retention, may result in an increase in blood pressure, placing greater strain on the heart and blood vessels. High blood pressure is one of the common cardiac risk factors.
Many of these diets limit intake of red meat, though pastured grass-fed meats are recommended as a staple of the Bulletproof Diet. Red meats (particularly processed meats) are often restricted in other diets because some research has tied larger consumption of it to increased risk for colon cancer. However, it has been shown that these studies were unable to control for other poor dietary or health habits that were confounding factors influencing outcomes.
One high fat, low carb diet is that recommended by Gary Taubes, who wrote The Case Against Sugar, Why We Get Fat. He and Fred Pescatore, MD, creator of The Hampton Diet, advocate low carb, higher fat eating plans that do not place as much restriction on red meat. I’m a fan of Dr. Mark Hyman, who wrote Eat Fat Get Thin (amongst other books)and whose recommendations make a lot of sense. Like all the authors mentioned here, he explains why prior studies led to inaccurate conclusions and points to newer research supporting the fact that a heart healthy diet can include grass fed beef without adverse consequence.
What They Said About Vegetable Oils (Like Canola)? Never Mind. All Oils Are Not Created Equal
Stick to extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil. Especially when cooking. Heating vegetable oils alters their structure causing oxidation and the formation of aldehydes. Oxidation results in free radicals (which were addressed in Part One), which then result in cell damage that causes a host of adverse effects on the body. High levels of aldehydes have been shown to correlate with an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.
Olive oil has the lowest oxidation rate of the cooking oils and has also been shown to raise HDL and lower LDL cholesterol, changes that are good for heart disease prevention.
Another healthy cooking note is to avoid charring foods (particularly meats/fleshy foods) because that too can have a carcinogenic effect.
Part Three, the final blog of this nutrition series, covers specific food recommendations and nutritional issues related to brain health and post-concussion care, for those with gastric issues (Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Gastric Reflux), as well as nutritional guidance for eye health.