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Eating Habits

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Basics

Most of us intake food without giving much thought to it. We have become so accustomed to the food we eat that we hardly pay attention to its effect on our body. 

According to the Ayurvedic texts there are certain rules to be followed regarding the arrangement of food, eating habits, basic cleaning habits etc which a person if follows will lead a long and disease free life. 

All these come under upayoga samstha or the rules governing the intake of food. The procedure one constitutes the dietetic rules that are usually determined by the strength of digestion of a person. Apart from that a person should not take food 

  • Without taking bath, or 
  • Without putting on any clothes
  • Without offering oblations to fire
  • Without offering food to Gods

Person should take food at a suitable place and time. Face and mouth should be well cleaned and he should eat food that is not used by others, heated only once, not very hot and overcooked. In general, the person should eat food with relish for better results. 

Foods that should be consumed considering the digestive capacity and habituation are

  • In the beginning, foods which are either watery or hard to digest, sweet and fatty should be consumed. 
  • Next you should have those, which are sour and salty and lastly you should consume foodstuff that are dry, non-fatty, liquid in nature and of other tastes.

Those who have poor digestive capacity should consume liquid and warm foods in the beginning. Then it becomes easier to digest the other foods, which are eaten later, in a proper way as the digestive activity gets stimulated by the heat.

Arrangement of food on the table

  • Bhaksya (eatables) are to be arranged on the right side of the table. 
  • Peya (drinks) and lehya (lickable items) and foodstuff that require hard chewing are to be placed on the left side. 
  • Bhojya (staple or the chief food) should be placed in the centre. 

Some basic food recipes, which are good for our health and basic constitution, are 

Dhana (fried paddy and other grains) is made by frying paddy that is soaked in water. 
 
Benefits

  • Stays long in the stomach, 
  • Is satisfying, 
  • Hard to digest, 
  • Cures diseases of the throat, and eye; 
  • Relieves hunger, thirst, exhaustion, vomiting and ulcer. 

Saktu is flour (like fried corn flour) raw or fried, mixed with water and consumed. 

Benefits

  • These are easily digestible and are usually taken as a drink, 
  • It gives strength immediately, 
  • It is also made into a hard ball known as Saktupindi, which becomes hard to digest, 
  • Its soft balls are easily digestible. 

Avalehika is saktu mixed with water and made into a semisolid mass. Flour is likewise made into Saskuli, modaka etc., by different methods.

They should not be eaten

  • with drinking water in between (30 min before and after meal is recommend.)
  • twice a day
  • at nights
  • solely i.e. without other kinds of foods
  • after meals
  • by cutting with teeth
  • in excess quantity

Low-Fat Diet Myths and the Advantages of Coconut Oil

By Brian Shilhavy, Tropical Traditions

Low-fat diets don't work

Before looking at the specific properties of coconut oil, it is helpful to understand that modern nutrition counsel has made a huge mistake in teaching that low-fat diets are healthy and lead to weight loss. For decades now, we have been told to cut back on fat in our diet if we want to lose weight. Marketers of low-fat foods have championed this concept.

So what has been the result? According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control:

  • In 1999-2000, an estimated 30 percent of U.S adults aged 20 years and older--nearly 59 million people--were obese, defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more

  • In 1999-2000, an estimated 64 percent of U.S adults aged 20 years and older were either overweight or obese, defined as having a BMI of 25 or more

(Source: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999 -- 2000)

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson states, "We've seen virtually a doubling in the number of obese persons over the past two decades and this has profound health implications. Obesity increases a person's risk for a number of serious conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and some types of cancer."1

Obviously, low-fat diets have not helped Americans lose weight, as today nearly two-thirds of all adults in the United States are classified as overweight. We've been told for years that we should avoid fat as much as possible. Some people have been on a torturous low-fat regimen, trying to avoid all fat in their diet. Now we are learning about the dangers of low-fat diets.

Certain fats are necessary and even healthy, but which ones?

Fats in history

Fats have always been a part of human nutrition. Rex Russell, M.D. writes, "It was 1944, and World War II was roaring. A young mother was wasting away with an infection diagnosed as tuberculosis. Antibiotics were unavailable. Her doctor prescribed:

  1. Isolation
  2. Bed rest
  3. Exercise (eventually)
  4. A diet high in fat

Surprising, but true! High-fat diets were often recommended by the medical profession during those years. Before you scoff, you might want to know that this lady recovered. She is my mother, and she has stayed on this diet through the years. Presently, she is enjoying her great-grandchildren."2

So, while the experts claimed "fats are good" prior to World War II, now we're hearing just the opposite!

So what actually constituted a "high-fat" diet back in the 1800s until the 1940s? Basically butter, eggs, nuts and animal fats such as lard and beef tallow. Margarines, which were introduced in the 1860s, were butter substitutes made with animal fats such as lard and tallow or the saturated vegetable oils from coconut oil and palm oils.

These high-fat diets, considered then to be healthy, were rich in saturated fats. Today, they are seen by many as the worst possible fat one can consume. However, drastically reducing saturated fats from the modern diet has not solved any health problems, and statistics show that obesity rates are at an all-time high.

The low-fat advice is losing credibility

Fats and oils are technically known as "lipids." If a lipid is liquid at room temperature, it is called an "oil." If it is solid, it is called a "fat." Fats can be found in many food sources in nature:

  • Animal meats such as tallow and lard
  • Marine animals (fish oil)
  • Vegetables and fruits such as olives, avocados and coconuts
  • Nuts and seeds/legumes, including soybeans, sesame seeds, peanuts, cashews and grape seeds

A diet rich in natural foods will be a naturally high-fat diet! It is virtually impossible to eliminate fats from our diet. And we wouldn't want to! Fats are an essential part of life. Without them, we could not survive.

Four vitamins--A. D, E, and K--are soluble in fat; fat carries fat-soluble vitamins. When fat is removed from a food, many of the fat-soluble compounds are also removed.

Fat also adds satiety to our meal--a feeling of having had enough to eat. Fat-free and low-fat foods are one of the reasons some people over-eat carbohydrates, which really packs on the pounds. They just don't feel like they've had enough to eat, even when the volume has been more than enough.

Fats for animal feeds

One interesting way to study the role of fats and their affect on weight loss or gain is to look at the animal feed industry. If ever there was a group of people with economic interest in weight gain, it is the livestock industry.

Back in the days when fat was "in," the fatter the pig you could raise the better. Lard was a basic staple for cooking in the days of our forefathers. It was found that feeding pigs polyunsaturated fats (primarily soybean and corn oil) would put more fat on them. This is the reaction of the longer chain fatty acids found in vegetable oils, and is well documented in the scientific literature.

Today, however, we've come full circle with our new low-fat mantra, and the consumer demand is now for low-fat meats. So how does one produce a leaner pork?

Well according the Department of Animal Science of North Carolina State University, during the "finishing time" before slaughter, you stop feeding them polyunsaturated oils and start feeding them saturated fats.3 They used beef tallow in their experiment, which they found was a bit hard for the pigs to digest. So some farmers are now actually starting to use coconut oil, a plant-based saturated fat, instead.

So what are the fats found on the shelves of grocery stores today, that make up the majority of the U.S. diet? Polyunsaturated fats: mostly soybean oil, which commonly is referred to as vegetable oil.

These are the same fats that have been known to fatten livestock in the animal feed business. The saturated fats, which made up most of the fats in the diet of our forefathers, have been almost banned by modern nutrition advice. The result: Lean pigs and obese people.

Low-Carb Diets: Half the Story

Gary Taubes wrote a startling article in the New York Times in 2002, titled "What If it Were All a Big Fat Lie!" In it he stated:

The cause of obesity [is] precisely those refined carbohydrates at the base of the famous Food Guide Pyramid--the pasta, rice and bread--that we are told should be the staple of our healthy low-fat diet, and then add on the sugar or corn syrup in the soft drinks, fruit juices and sports drinks that we have taken to consuming in quantity if for no other reason than that they are fat free and so appear intrinsically healthy. While the low-fat-is-good-health dogma represents reality as we have come to know it, and the government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in research trying to prove its worth, the low-carbohydrate message has been relegated to the realm of unscientific fantasy.

Over the past five years, however, there has been a subtle shift in the scientific consensus. It used to be that even considering the possibility of the alternative hypothesis, let alone researching it, was tantamount to quackery by association. Now a small but growing minority of establishment researchers have come to take seriously what the low-carb-diet doctors have been saying all along.

Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, may be the most visible proponent of testing this heretic hypothesis. Willett is the de facto spokesman of the longest-running, most comprehensive diet and health studies ever performed, which have already cost upward of $100 million and include data on nearly 300,000 individuals. Those data, says Willett, clearly contradict the low-fat-is-good-health message "and the idea that all fat is bad for you; the exclusive focus on adverse effects of fat may have contributed to the obesity epidemic."4

This started the current low-carb tidal wave because people generally have found that it is true: If you cut out refined carbohydrates, you will lose weight.

But while these new low-carb diets are now challenging the low-fat hypothesis, there still seems to be mass confusion as to which fats and oils are actually healthy, and which ones aren't.

And no wonder. Probably no other food group has been politicized more in American nutrition than fats. With all the books and literature written on the subject, and each one practically contradicting each other, there is really only one book written by a lipid expert with no commercial ties to anyone in the edible oil industry.

That book is "Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils, and Cholesterol" by Dr. Mary Enig, a nutritionist/biochemist with her Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Maryland. Much of her work is featured in the Weston Price Foundation that studies traditional foods.

Let's face it. The low-fat dietary dictum is a multi-billion dollar industry built upon a foundation of sinking sand.

Not only does scientific research show that the polyunsaturated vegetable oils promote weight gain, it also shows that they are not good as an animal feed either. While they do promote weight gain in livestock, they do so at the expense of another essential fatty acid: Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).

CLA is found primarily in beef and dairy products and cannot be produced in the human body. Research has shown that animals grazed strictly on grass--their natural diet--can have levels of CLA hundreds of times higher than animals raised on grain feeds. Also, a study done by the Department of Animal Science at Southern Illinois University in 2003 found that beef finished off on soybean oil directly reduced the amount of CLA produced by ruminant animals.5

What are the known benefits of CLA, now that we have almost lost it from our meat and dairy sources? Among its benefits:

  • Destroys cancer cells
  • Reduces tumors
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Increases muscle growth

So while many people are seeing weight loss on low-carb diets because they are cutting back on refined carbohydrates, many do not see weight loss because they are still lacking proper fats in their diet. And most of the popular low-carb diets are giving mixed messages about which fats are healthy and which ones are not.

If you choose the wrong fat and consume large quantities of it, such as hydrogenated polyunsaturated fats full of trans fatty acids, not only will you not have much success in losing weight, you will probably develop a whole host of other health problems.

Flawed "Science"

When a dietary philosophy has been promoted as long as the current low-fat dogma has, and a multi-billion dollar industry feeds off it, we can expect it to die a slow death with much opposition, as America gets fatter and fatter because the popular media continues to propagate the low-fat myth.

It is amazing to read new studies conducted that start with this myth as fact, and then construct their whole study to support it, never once questioning the "wisdom" behind the myth that is just accepted without question as fact.

In a study published by British Journal of Nutrition, titled "Effects of including a ruminally protected lipid supplement in the diet on the fatty acid composition of beef muscle," here's how the abstract begins:

Enhancing the polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) and decreasing the saturated fatty acid content of beef is an important target in terms of improving the nutritional value of this food for the consumer. With this "truth" declared without any supporting evidence whatsoever, it goes on to show how one can increase the PUFA content of beef while decreasing the saturated fat content by feeding cows soybean, linseed and sunflower-seed oils.6 And because this entire generation has been brainwashed into believing saturated fats are bad and polyunsaturated fats are good, this is seen as positive!

But wait, it gets even worse. Have you noticed all the news lately about the epidemic of obesity among children? A study was published in 2003 by the Journal of the American Diet Association titled "Soy-enhanced lunch acceptance by preschoolers."

The objective: "To evaluate acceptance of soy-enhanced compared with traditional menus by preschool children. Soy-enhanced foods were substituted on a traditional cycle menu, and the amount eaten, energy, and nutrient values for traditional and soy-enhanced lunches were compared."

The conclusion? "Soy-enhanced foods were successfully substituted for 23 traditional foods included in the cycle menus. Soy-enhanced foods tended to be higher in energy, protein, and iron. Traditional lunches tended to be higher in fat, saturated fat, and vitamin A." Therefore, "Preschool programs can substitute soy-enhanced for traditional foods, which will add variety to the diet without sacrificing taste, energy, or nutrient value."6

Great! So since we start with the presupposition that saturated fats are bad and polyunsaturated fats are good, we can now design a study to "prove" we should be feeding preschoolers soy instead of "traditional foods." And people continue to ask why children are so overweight today...

Other concerns about soy and children are not even addressed in this study, such as how large amounts of plant hormones (phyto-estrogens) in soy are equal to adult levels and can cause severe damage to the endocrine system of children.7

Traditional Fats are Best

While we wait for science to catch up with the truth, here is a better idea.

Let's go back and eat the traditional fats our forefathers and other traditional societies have consumed for hundreds and even thousands of years, and were known to be healthy. These fats are rich in saturated fats, and include healthy traditionally raised meat, dairy and eggs. In tropical climates, it includes coconut oil and palm oil. Coconut oil is unique in nature with medium chain fatty acids that are also found in human breast milk, with volumes of research showing that it leads to greater metabolism and weight loss.

Researchers now know that weight loss associated with coconut oil is related to the length of the fatty acid chains contained in coconut oil. Coconut oil contains what are called medium chain fatty acids, or medium chain triglycerides (MCTs for short). These medium chain fatty acids are different from the common longer chain fatty acids found in other plant-based oils.

Most vegetable oils are composed of longer chain fatty acids, or triglycerides (LCTs). LCTs are typically stored in the body as fat, while MCTs are burned for energy. MCTs burn up quickly in the body. Coconut oil is nature's richest source of MCTs that increase metabolic rates and lead to weight loss. MCTs promote what is called thermogenesis. Thermogenesis increases the body's metabolism, producing energy.

People in the animal feed business have known this truth for quite some time. If you feed animals vegetable oils, they put on weight and produce more fatty meat. If you feed them coconut oil, they will be very lean.

There are many studies proving this concept of thermogenesis and MCTs in scientific literature. In 1989, a study was done by the Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University, at Nashville, Tenn. Ten male volunteers (ages 22 to 44) were overfed (150 percent of the estimated energy requirement) liquid formula diets containing 40 percent of fat as either MCT or LCT.

Each patient was studied for one week on each diet in a double-blind, crossover design. The results: "Our results demonstrate that excess dietary energy as MCT stimulates thermogenesis to a greater degree than does excess energy as LCT. This increased energy expenditure, most likely due to lipogenesis in the liver, provides evidence that excess energy derived from MCT is stored with a lesser efficiency than is excess energy derived from dietary LCT."8

In another recent study conducted at the School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, McGill University, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec, Canada, the effects of diets rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) or long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) on body composition, energy expenditure, substrate oxidation, subjective appetite and ad libitum energy intake in overweight men were calculated.

Twenty-four healthy, overweight men with BMIs between 25 and 31 kg/m(2) consumed diets rich in MCT or LCT for 28 days each in a crossover randomized controlled trial. Their conclusion: "Consumption of a diet rich in MCTs results in greater loss of AT compared with LCTs, perhaps due to increased energy expenditure and fat oxidation observed with MCT intake. Thus, MCTs may be considered as agents that aid in the prevention of obesity or potentially stimulate weight loss."9

Studying the Weight-Loss Effects of Coconut Oil's MCTs

Scientific studies have reported the fatty acids from MCTs in coconut oil are not easily converted into stored triglycerides, and MCTs cannot be readily used by the body to make larger fat molecules.

One animal feeding study evaluated body weight and fat storage for three different diets:

  • Low-fat diet
  • High-fat diet containing long-chain triglycerides (LCTs)
  • High-fat diet containing MCTs

All animals were fed the selected diets for a period of 44 days. At the end of that time, the low-fat diet group had stored an average of 0.47 grams of fat per day. The LCT group stored 0.48 grams/day. However, the MCT group deposited only 0.19 grams of fat per day, a 60 percent reduction in the amount of fat stored. The authors concluded "The change from a low-fat diet to a MCT-diet is attended by a decrease in the body weight gain."10

This study points out two important facts: First, when MCTs are substituted for LCTs in the diet, the body is much less inclined to store fat. Second, when we eat sensibly, a diet containing MCTs is more effective than a low-fat diet at decreasing stored fat.

In a human study, researchers compared the metabolic effects of 400-calorie meals of MCTs and LCTs by measuring metabolic rates prior to and six hours following the test meals. The results showed that the MCT meals caused an average 12 percent increase in basal metabolic rate as compared with a 4 percent increase with the LCT meal. The authors concluded that replacing dietary fats with MCTs could "over long periods of time produce weight loss even in the absence of reduced [caloric] intake."11

Coconut oil is nature's richest source of MCTs. Not only do MCTs raise the body's metabolism leading to weight loss, but they have special health-giving properties as well. The most predominant MCT in coconut oil, for example, is lauric acid.

Lipid researcher Dr. Jon Kabara states, "Never before in the history of man is it so important to emphasize the value of Lauric Oils. The medium-chain fats in coconut oil are similar to fats in mother's milk and have similar nutriceutical effects. These health effects were recognized centuries ago in Ayurvedic medicine. Modern research has now found a common link between these two natural health products--their fat or lipid content. The medium chain fatty acids and monoglycerides found primarily in coconut oil and mother's milk have miraculous healing power."12

Outside of a human mother's breast milk, coconut oil is nature's most abundant source of lauric acid and medium chain fatty acids.

References

1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "Obesity Still on the Rise, New Data Show," Tuesday, October 8, 2002 Published on the Centers for Disease Control website.

2. Rex Russell, M.D. What the Bible Says About Healthy Living (Regal Books, Ventura, CA 1996) p.125

3. M.T. See and J. Odle, "EFFECT OF DIETARY FAT SOURCE, LEVEL, AND FEEDING INTERVAL ON PORK FATTY ACID COMPOSITION" 1998-2000 Departmental Report, Department of Animal Science, ANS Report No. 248 - North Carolina State University

4. Gary Taubes "What If It Were All a Big Fat Lie!" New York Times July 7, 2002.

5. Griswold KE, Apgar GA, et. al. "Effectiveness of short-term feeding strategies for altering conjugated linoleic acid content of beef." Journal Animal Science, 2003 Jul;81(7):1862-71.

6. Scollan ND, Enser M, et. al., "Effects of including a ruminally protected lipid supplement in the diet on the fatty acid composition of beef muscle." British Journal Nutrition. 2003 Sep;90(3):709-16.

7. Endres J, Barter S, Theodora P, Welch P., "Soy-enhanced lunch acceptance by preschoolers." Journal American Diet Assoc. 2003 Mar;103(3):346-51.

8. Hill JO, Peters JC, Yang D, Sharp T, Kaler M, Abumrad NN, Greene HL "Thermogenesis in humans during overfeeding with medium-chain triglycerides." Metabolism. July.1989;38(7):641-8.

9. St-Onge MP, Ross R, Parsons WD, Jones PJ "Medium-chain triglycerides increase energy expenditure and decrease adiposity in overweight men." Obes Res. 2003 Mar;11(3):395-402.

10. G. Crozier, B. Bois-Joyeux, M Chanex, et. al. "Overfeeding with medium-chain triglycerides in the rat." Metabolism 1987;36:807-814.

11. T. B. Seaton, S. L. Welles, M. K. Warenko, et al. "Thermic effects of medium-chain and long-chain triglycerides in man." Am J Clin Nutr, 1986;44:630-634.

12. J. J. Kabara "Health Oils From the Tree of Life" (Nutritional and Health Aspects of Coconut Oil). Indian Coconut Journal 2000;31(8):2-8.

An Ancient Diet to Restore Health, Community and Spirit

If you are concerned with the degenerative state of society and the rising number of cases of debilitating diseases such as cancer and diabetes, it is critical to understand the history and role of nutrition. The root of the nutritional dilemma of the Western world stems from individuals’ abandonment of nutritious traditional foods and adaptation to a modern diet filled with refined carbohydrates.

In the essay, which you can read from the link below, Nels Stemm describes the decline of health of Western civilization and details the eating habits of our ancestors that protected them from diseases and contributed to their strong physical development.

We Are What we Eat

Stemms explained that the kind of food we put into our bodies could determine our mood and personality, which could be in turn severely altered by nutritional decline. Stemm cited the example of the child who consumed enormous amounts of sugar a day and was then expected to act calm and appropriate.

The lethargic parent would be another example of how sugar negatively affects the body and acts as the main contributor to malnourishment. This is the result of a diet consisting of mainly "empty calories," also known as refined carbohydrates.

Basis of Nourishing Traditions

The book Nourishing Traditions summarized the discoveries of Dr. Weston A. Price and explained how individuals have gotten away from eating traditional foods--the kinds that kept our ancestors nourished hundreds of years ago--and how these changes have contributed to the degeneration of our health.

The eating habits of our ancestors should serve as a model of how to eat healthy and break the unhealthy habits of the modern technical age. The book also stressed the importance of severing the ties from the dependence on food manufacturers. The book is based on the "paleo-diet" or "cave-man diet," which centers on incorporating the knowledge of our ancestors into contemporary eating habits.

"Paleo Diets" of Our Ancestors

  • The Irish ate blood in a jellified form or combined with butter, oats or salt
  • The Native Americans ate animal intestines
  • A common Scottish dish that is thought to be highly nutritional is baked cod’s head stuffed with oats and liver
  • An Eskimo diet consisted of rancid raw fish

The Consumption of Raw Milk in Traditional Societies

In the past, all traditional societies ate raw milk as a necessity. Raw milk helped protect ancestors for thousands of years and contributed to the prevention of dental decay and diseases otherwise associated with the consumption of pasteurized milk. Pasteurization has been described as a process that not only destroyed important vitamins and enzymes, but also eliminated the friendly bacteria found in milk, which is used to guard against illnesses.

The costs of pasteurized milk are cheaper to the customer because their process allows for more leniency regarding cleanliness and the way the milk is handled.

The Moneymaking Food Industry

The food industry is the biggest in the world and the success of it depends on what is deemed as healthy or unhealthy. Whole nutritious foods don’t use heavy marketing tactics, therefore aren’t considered a high profit-maker for the food industry.

Key Study From the Book "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration"

As part of a study for his book Dr. Weston Price traveled to different areas of the world to find societies that had good nutrition.

Features of The Study

  • The two characteristics he used to determine the quality of nutrition were the examination of dental decay and facial palates.
  • It was discovered that people who lived on a primitive diet showed either no or very minimal dental decay and had fully developed facial structures, which allowed for more than enough needed space for teeth to grow in evenly.
  • Significant noticeable physical development and dental differences could be seen in the pictures taken of people who lived on a primitive diet compared to the people who lived on a modern diet.

LewRockwell.com June 2, 2004

America's Processed Food Diet Influences Immigrants' Eating

First generation Mexican-American children have healthier eating habits than their third-generation counterparts, who tend to abandon their traditional Latin-American diets in favor of high-fat American cuisine, according to a recent U.S. study.

The study assessed the eating habits of 449 first-generation (born in Latin America) children, 1,568 second-generation (born in the U.S., parents born in Latin America) children, and 1,165 third-generation children (Mexican-American children born in the U.S. whose parents were also born in this country).

Results indicated that the longer a child's family has lived in the U.S., the more likely the child was to eat an unhealthy diet. A traditional Latin American diet includes fruits, beans and vegetables, but the later generation Mexican-American children ate diets with less fruit and more fat.

Researchers found that first-generation children between the ages of 2 and 5 years had the healthiest diets. At the other end of the spectrum were third-generation teenagers, who had the least healthy eating habits.

Researchers suggest encouraging children with Latin American roots to maintain their traditional diet.

85th Annual Meeting of the American Dietetic Association (ADA) in Philadelphia October 28, 2002

Americas' Eating Habits Are Awful

According to the National Cancer Institute, in the US between 1970 and 1994, per person consumption of fruits rose by 22%, vegetables by 19%, and grain products by 47%. Fat and alcohol intakes are lower than they were at the beginning of the 1990s. That is the good news. The bad news is that more than 50% of potatoes -- the most popular vegetable -- are eventually eaten as French fries.

Cancer 1998;83:1278-1281, 1425-1432.

Are Your Grandfather's Eating Habits Making You Sick?

Can the effects of nutrition be passed down from generation to generation? In a new study, Swedish researchers set out to determine whether childhood overeating influences descendants' risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

It has been theorized that a child who grows up with inadequate nutrition will become programmed to accept the atypical diet later in life. Does this "programming" reach further than a lifetime? Study findings say yes.

Three generations-born in Sweden in 1890, 1905 and 1920-were included in the study. Historical data was used to determine how much food was available during the 19th and 20th centuries, a time when meager crops made famine common.

It was found that when little food was available to fathers during their "slow-growth" period (SGP), which occurs before puberty, descendants had a low rate of mortality from cardiovascular disease. Having a paternal grandfather who had little food during his SGP was associated with a decreased risk of diabetes. However, when paternal grandfathers had a surplus of food during their SGP, descendants' rate of mortality from diabetes increased nearly four times.

Causes for the associations were not determined, but the study suggests that childhood nutrition, particularly among males, seems to have influenced the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease and diabetes in later generations.

European Journal of Human Genetics October 31, 2002;10:682-688

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