The Deadly Tomato?

The Deadly, Deadly Tomato.

“Botanically speaking, tomatoes are a fruit; technically, they’re a berry and legally a vegetable. In 1893 a ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court, the tomato became legally classified as a vegetable because it’s used as one. More recently, tomato ketchup was named a vegetable in the school lunch program.”

In the late 1700’s, a large percentage of Europeans were afraid of the lowly tomato. It was literally called a “a poison apple” because the higher classes of consumers at the time and place were thought to have died from eating them. An explanation? Wealthy Europeans use pewter plates high in lead content and the tomato got all the blame.

Early herbalist and religious references botanically named it also a mandrake (AKA as an aphrodisiac) and classified it as a poisonous nightshade called Solanaceae thought to contain toxins called tropane alkaloids. Other foods in this classification include the eggplant. Currently, some people consider them a problem especially if you have arthritis pain – cutting nightshades out of your diet may be worth a try; however, there is no reliable evidence to support this claim.  

The best tomatoes are seasonal – many of you may remember waiting for them to be at their flavor peak in the late summers (dependent on what part of the country you lived in like the northeast and upper Midwest states.) There, the weather is ideal for tomato growth with hotter days and cooler nights. It is best to buy tomatoes from local farmers and getting vine-ripened whenever possible. They taste the best and their flavor is at peak time.

” The fruit’s origin began in the Americas and eaten by Aztecs as early as 700 AD where it was known as the “tomatl.” It wasn’t grown in Britain until the 1590’s. It was associated with hotter climates and for this reason in cooler climates was only used as ornamental instead of food.”

“The first known reference to tomato was in 1710 in the British North American colonies and places the tomato in the Carolinas where it began to be accepted even with its ominous background.  Recipes appeared in American cookery manuscripts, but fears and rumors lingered. Around 1880, the tomato grew in popularity in Europe due to the invention of the pizza. Presently, the United States has become the world’s largest tomato producer.

Nutritional Information

Tomatoes have considerable vitamin C and some vitamin A.

Tomatoes are claimed to be an anticancer weapon. It contains lycopene, the plant pigment makes the fruit red. It is particularly associated as a prostate cancer fighter. 

However, it is best consumed when heated with oil for this effect.

Tomatoes also have a compound called lutein that may help prevent macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in older people.

Source:

The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, Smith, 2007

The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S

What Healthy Eating Means Now

After years of research on the subject, the consensus appears to be that there is no single diet that’s right for all of us. However, we have learned that we have a better idea of what healthy eating looks like.

The key is your overall eating pattern, not so much how many grams of carbohydrate, fat or protein you eat, or whether it is animal or plant protein. The choices are many: vegetarian?, vegan?, low fat?, low carb? Or perhaps flexetarian ( a little of both?)

The general healthiest pattern is emerging that consists mostly of nutrient dense whole foods that come from nature and includes few, if any highly processed foods. A closer look at this pattern recommends lots of vegetables and avoid sugar and refined grains.

When assessed for weight control, studies show that when individuals are divided into two major groups either low fat or low carbohydrate ,both groups lost weight – an average of 12 pounds, though some lost as much as 50 pounds. The participants also ate healthier and greatly improved their risk factors for heart disease and diabetes: body fat, waist size, blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin levels all of which can contribute to heart disease and diabetes.

A most important recent finding is that eating healthy can make a difference in how well your immune system functions, so important now as it is greatly needed to fight COVID-19. 70 percent of our immune system resides in the gut; therefore we must become more aware of providing nutrients that feed these gut bacteria. Packaged foods create inflammation and hamper immunity. These include not only sweetened drinks, but breakfast cereals, refined bread and pasta. Look more toward whole grains. “A poor-quality diet loaded with sugar, saturated fat, salt, and chemicals is second to only to smoking in terms of its negative effects on health and lifespan,” says, Dr. Steven Heymsfield, professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, who was part of the development of the 2020 USDA Dietary Guidelines.

The best diet is the one that you choose after looking at the evidence that provides healthy benefits. Dr. Heymsfield says: “You could even try a diet for several weeks while keeping track of how it affects your weight, level of hunger and fullness, your mood, blood pressure and level of energy. Then try another for a few weeks and compare the results.”

Source: Nutrition: Your Healthiest Diet, Special Health Edition. 2021

Living Longer with Carbohydrates: The Okinawan Way

“The traditional Okinawan diet was about 80% carbohydrate. Before 1940, Okinawans also consumed fish at least three times a week together with seven servings of vegetables and maybe one or two servings of grains a day. They also ate two servings of flavonoid-rich soy, usually in the form of tofu. Dairy and meat represented about 3% of their calories. They didn’t eat much fruit; they enjoyed a few eggs a week” They particularly had/have an affinity for sweet potatoes.

The Okinawan Clues to Longevity

Have a purpose in life – i.e. a reason to get up in the morning .

Rely on a plant-based diet .

Get gardening .

Eat more soy .

Maintain a social network.

Enjoy the sunshine.

Stay active.

Plant a medicinal garden with beneficial herbs.

Enjoy simple pleasures.

Source: Dan Buettner, The Blue Zones Solution, 2015

The following article explains much of the recent research as to why this culture has had so much success in living a relatively speaking healthy lifestyle – it is worth a read. It does not mean we all need to go buy pounds of sweet potatoes; however I think I may have one for dinner. (SJF).

CLICK HERE.

Big Food?

“Robert Goldstein, a hedge fund manager in New York, was getting huge cravings for sweets when he came across a tropical plant called Gymnema sylvestre that works a little like methadone for heroin addicts.” What does that have to do with “big food”? Too much, I’m afraid.

CLICK HERE.

UNHEALTHY PROCESSED FOOD AND SNACKS CAN LEAD TO OBESITY

The Mind-Gut Connection

A new developing science states: The connection between the mind and gut is bidirectional; the gut talks to the brain and the brain talks to the gut. Major health problems can appear when this system is disturbed; One way to minimize this is to keep your microbial “self” happy and working properly. The connection can affect mood and overall health.

HOW TO FEED YOUR GUT MICROBES

Try to maintain a variety of diverse gut microbes by maximizing your consumption of naturally fermented food and probiotics (these foods “feed” your own intestinal microbes.)

For reduction of gut inflammation, try these:

Cut down on animal fat in your diet.

Avoid when possible, mass-produced ultra-processed foods.

Reduce stress and practice mindfulness of what you’re eating..

Avoid eating when you are stressed, angry or sad.

Enjoy foods and eat with family and friends.

Listen to your gut feelings and signals.

CLICK HERE.

Diary of a Dieter

How does the Human Body Regulate Food intake and Body Weight?

Body weight remains fairly constant for long periods of time. To regulate weight and fatness at a constant level, the body must be able to respond both to changes in food intake over the short term and to changes in the amount of stored body fat that occur in the long term. We have hunger and satiety signals that act over the short-term time frame (meal to meal) whereas signals from the fat tissue trigger the brain to adjust both food intake and energy expenditure for long term regulation. Sounds simple, right? That’s what some weight loss plans keep telling us (especially if we are following their claims).  Here is partly the reason why it is NOT easy.

For example, there are two major hormones that participate in this process. The first one is called ghrelin which is a hormone produced by the stomach that stimulates food intake (often called the “hunger hormone”).

The second one is called leptin which is a hormone produced by fat cells that signals information about the amount of body fat.  I will spare the details, but it is important to keep in mind that weight regulation is determined by the body in conjunction with the brain and is It is actually not simple but very complex. And keeping the lost weight off is a special challenge that requires a great deal of mindfulness and vigilance. The body tends to not want us to starve for obvious reasons.

The following article presents us with a realistic experience that many people are forced to take on when they finally address their repeated weight gains and suggests ways that must be followed to make this time a success (for health, not vanity).  There is a lot of wisdom in her article.  In my opinion, she finally gets it. I wish her success fighting the dueling hormones, ghrelin and leptin.

It’s Time To Diet Again, Dangit

For health, not hopes of hotness.

By Cheney Meaghan

Jul 19, 2018 · 3 min read

I’ve lost count of how many times in my life I’ve been on a diet, and now it’s time to do it again.

I hate dieting.

Dieting consumes my entire life.

To track what I eat, to count calories, to more thoughtful food shopping, to prepping food, meal planning, tracking weight — all of it — I hate it.

But today I went to the doctor because I have been having more knee pain than usual and my right foot has been swelling every day for a week, and even before lab work returns, the news is not good.

I’ve gained thirty pounds in the last six months, my blood pressure is a steady 140/100ish (I’ve been checking it at home for two weeks), the doctor is worried that the swelling is due to hypertension, she’s testing me for diabetes, and she’s sure that the crunching and squishing and pain I am feeling in my right knee is bone on bone arthritis.

Basically, I’m turning into my mother, and quickly falling apart as I spread across the couch one pound at a time.

I guess this time, the dieting really matters.

All the extra weight isn’t good for my knee, and, well, all the extra weight just isn’t good, period.

But did I mention I hate dieting?

When you weigh as much as I do (over 250 pounds now, and holy s… I can’t believe I just admitted that on the internet) losing weight isn’t just a small shift in eating healthier and getting more exercise.

It means scrutinizing every morsel you put into your mouth and weighing (ha!) in your mind whether that bite is worth it compared to all the other bites left you have that day.

It means weighing and measuring your food to make sure you stay under your calorie goal, it means fewer meals out with friends, it means less ice cream.

I hate dieting.

But, like, I’m kind of dying.

My doctor looks like she weighs around the same amount as I do and joked with me during the appointment about how hard it is to get healthy.

When she mentioned that I should give up coffee with cream and sugar, which happens to be one of my only remaining addictions, I wanted to cry, but she said it was her favorite thing in the world and the thing she had the hardest time giving up, too.

It’s hard, I know it’s hard, I have a hard time doing it myself, obviously, she told me as we laughed and groaned over the benefits of dieting to prevent diabetes and the pain of cutting back on sugary treats.

She also shook her head and talked about how crazy it is that America is such a fat country in general. She said it was because we’d become such a busy society focused on getting stuff done, we’ve stopped focusing on taking the time to rest, eat healthy, and do good things for our bodies and lives like so many Europeans do.

It’s harder in America to be healthy than it is in a lot of other places in the world, and “they say” that over half of Americans are overweight now, and yet I can’t take any comfort in being on the side of the majority here.

Now I wait for results to see how things are — my thyroid, my sugar levels, my cholesterol and all that fun stuff — oh, and my creaky, decrepit knee.

Meanwhile, I’ll be updating my new weight and goals on the MyFitnessPal app and start logging everything I put into my body — my own personal science experiment as I try to shrink and not disappear.