Saturday, June 14, 2014

Bacon-Superfood-or Death on a Plate?

There is a revolution going on in the world of Nutrition. Foods like eggs that were considered dangerous a few years ago are now considered healthy. Saturated fat was declared “the fast lane to a heart attack”. That theory also seems to have been disproven. So what’s the deal with bacon? We know we love the taste, yet of all the demonized foods this one seems to always be at the top of the “naughty” list. So what’s the truth? Is bacon really as bad as they say? Well let’s look at the health issues one at a time and see where it stacks up.
Health issue #1: Bacon is full of Fat
If you remember your “Fat 101” there were good fats and bad fats. I say “were” because the conventional wisdom has changed. Monounsaturated fat (MUFA) was always considered a “good” fat.  MUFAs lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) while increasing HDL cholesterol (the good stuff). Bacon is 50% MUFA, mostly oleic acid, the healthy ingredient in olive oil. Another “good” fat called polyunsaturated fat is found in Salmon and Safflower oil. Omega 3 fatty acids are also included in this group. Bacon is 10% Polyunsaturated fat. That leaves 40% Saturated fat the so-called “bad” fat, historically felt to be associated with heart disease. Several recent randomized control studies have concluded that there is no association between heart disease and saturated fat. That’s important because many of the studies linking bacon to heart disease or cancer came from observational studies which are the least reliable since they may show an association but usually can’t establish cause and effect. In addition observational studies are often confounded by the co-existence of other health problems like smoking or obesity. In summary the fat content in bacon is probably more of a benefit than a liability.
Health issue #2: Bacon is full of Salt
Salt is used as part of the curing process. Salt helps prevent harmful bacteria from contaminating the meat. Excessive salt intake has been associated with high blood pressure. The evidence suggests that for people with normal blood pressure, salt is not a problem. On the other hand in people who have high blood pressure, excessive salt intake could worsen their disease. Interestingly total salt intake has decreased over the last 50 years due to the use of refrigeration instead of salt curing. The bottom line on bacon salt is that it not a health problem for people with normal blood pressure and when eaten in moderation will not likely worsen the condition in those that already have the disease.
Health issue #3: Bacon lacks nutrition
Similar to other meat products, bacon is actually quite nutritious. Bacon is a good source of Protein, Choline, Phosphorus, Zinc, Selenium and Thiamin. Selenium is important in preventing cancer and fighting infection. Choline is beneficial for the heart as well as the brain. The omega 3 fatty acids in bacon act as potent anti-inflammatories protecting against cancer and aging in general. Phosphorous is involved in bone and tooth metabolism as well as, kidney function, cell growth and heart muscle contraction. Oleic acid has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels, insulin sensitivity, and overall circulation. The type and amount of nutrients depends on how the pigs were raised. Farm raised pork for instance has a higher level of nutrients especially Vitamin D. In summary, from a nutritional standpoint bacon stacks up pretty well especially farm-raised bacon.
Health Issue #4: Bacon causes Cancer because of Nitrates
Sodium nitrate and nitrite are two ingredients found in most processed meats including bacon. Sodium nitrate is added as a preservative to help preserve the color and prevent spoilage. Nitrate is converted to Nitrite which inhibits bacterial growth especially Botulism. Actually sodium nitrate is a naturally occurring mineral that is found in most vegetables especially leafy greens like spinach. The problem isn’t the nitrite it’s the interaction of nitrites with proteins in the stomach resulting in nitrosamines. Nitrosamines have been found at least in animals to be carcinogenic when consumed in large amounts. Luckily the formation of nitrosamines can be largely inhibited by addition of antioxidants like Vitamin C and E. The USDA now requires that these vitamins be added to bacon for this purpose. Cooking temperature also affects the production of nitrosamines. Cooking the bacon at higher temperatures results in more production of nitrosamines. On the health side, some of the nitrites are converted to nitric oxide which is a potent arterial dilator. It also helps in nerve transmission and boosts the immune system. In reality the cancer risk in bacon is probably minimal especially if the bacon is microwaved rather than fried.
So there you have it. Bacon probably doesn’t qualify as a “super food” but it is definitely not “death on a plate”. The scientific evidence suggests that bacon can be part of a healthy diet. It just shouldn’t be the whole diet. A couple of strips microwaved for breakfast or crumbled on a salad will supply your bacon fix without the guilt. Bon appetite!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Eating Fat Doesn't Make You Fat

That theory is the focus of a recent article in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. A group of researchers from Cambridge University analyzed the results of 72 separate studies that included over 600,000 participants in 18 different countries. The results challenge longstanding dietary recommendations regarding fat intake and heart disease. Specifically they looked at saturated fat as found in meat and dairy products. but also in non-animal products like Palm and Coconut oil as well as Cocoa butter. Here are some of the findings:
  • Whether measured in the bloodstream or as a component of diet, total saturated fatty acid was not linked to coronary disease risk
  • Omega-3 and omega-6 supplements to diets had no benefit in reducing risk of coronary disease
  • Trans fats, found mostly in processed foods, resulted in a 16 % increased risk for heart disease.
  • One specific fatty acid, margarin acid (a dairy fat), significantly reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease.
This is important research for several reasons. Heart disease is still the number one killer in the world. In 2008, more than 17 million people died from cardiovascular disease related illness. For years we have been lead to believe that eating saturated fat was linked to an increased risk of heart disease. This was largely based on a hypothesis promoted in the 1950’s that has never been proven.

It is important to understand that this new research is not saying that saturated fat is good for you or that you should eat more of it. It is on the other hand saying that it may not be as bad for you as we previously thought. Clearly more research is needed to understand the role for saturated fat in our diet. 

For now even the researchers from this study agree that the best way to prevent heart disease is to:
  • Stop smoking
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet considering not only the fats in our diet but also our intake of salt, sugar and fruit and vegetables.
A good example of a healthy diet is the Mediterranean diet which includes a wide variety of minimally processed, whole foods such as:
  • Nuts 
  • Vegetable and olive oils (which have some saturated fat)
  • Fish
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables 
  • Small portions of animal products such as yogurt and cheese.
We at MDfitness totally agree! In fact these are the principals we follow with most of our recipes.

Friday, February 14, 2014

5 Reasons To Exercise As A Couple

Remember when you first met the person of your dreams? You couldn’t eat, you couldn’t sleep. You just wanted to be together every minute of every day. You dated, you married, and you built a life together. Then life started getting complicated. You had some kids, you bought a house, and you developed a career. That precious time you used to spend together became compromised by outside demands. As you have begun to age it has become more difficult to maintain a healthy weight or stay in good shape. You know you need to exercise but that means more time away from the person you want most to be with. Life is full of conflicts. But there is an answer that will accomplish your goals. Exercise together as a couple. If it seems like a crazy idea, here are five important reasons why you should consider it.

  1. Spending more quality time together: Time is a commodity that there is never enough of. The more quality time you spend together the healthier the relationship. Studies have proved this over and over. It doesn’t mean you have to do exactly the same workout, just do it at the same time and place. And remember, a bike ride or evening walk counts as quality exercise time.
  2. Motivation: Exercise is one of those activities that requires constant motivation to keep it going. As humans we can think of a million excuses to skip it. That’s where your partner and you can work together to motivate each other. If one of you is looking for a free pass, the other one steps up and makes sure the workout happens. It is important to take turns on this role so it isn’t always the same person doing the motivating.
  3. Losing weight: It’s really hard to lose weight by yourself if you are in a relationship. It has been well established that combining diet and exercise works better than either one by itself. As a couple you can set realistic goals for yourselves that will really work. Chart your progress together and make it a team effort. You will see the pounds melt away.
  4. Side benefits: Looking for a way to spice up your love life? The actual act of working out together has been shown to help build a shared passion that extends into every aspect of the relationship, especially the romantic side. Exercise will also help those age-related problems that seem to get in the way. So exercise together and you may be able to throw away the Viagra.
  5. Save each other’s life: Exercise has been shown to be an effective treatment for obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. There are clinical studies showing that exercise can positively affect the prevention, treatment, and recovery of all ten of the most deadly cancers, especially breast and colon cancer.

So this Valentine’s day, instead of candy and dinner why not try a different kind of date? Whether it is at the gym or in your home, try working out together. The benefits will affect every aspect of your life together. What greater gift could you give for Valentine’s Day, than the gift of a better life.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

World Cancer Day

February 4th has been designated as World Cancer Day, and this year is marked by a sobering declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO). In what they are calling an imminent “human disaster”, they are predicting a worldwide surge of 57% of cancer cases in the next 20 years. That will account for approximately 5 million more deaths per year due to a disease that is felt to be preventable 50% of the time. They are calling for governments to take legislative approaches focused on addressing lifestyle factors including three things we should do less of (smoking, alcohol consumption, excess calorie consumption) and one thing we should do more of (exercise).

Of the 3 most common cancers (lung, breast, colon), exercise has been shown scientifically to have both a preventive and therapeutic benefit. Exercise boosts the immune system while increasing muscle mass and decreasing excess fat. This lessens the risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, all diseases associated with cancer. MDFitness is committed to helping stamp out Cancer by introducing more people to the power of exercise. Let’s kick Cancer’s butt.

For more information, visit us at

Source: WMUR

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Exercise and Treatment of Cancer

“You have Cancer”. The three words I never wanted to hear. And yet, there it was. For a second the world goes dark and everything appears upside down and backwards. What seemed like an endless life now has finality and maybe sooner rather than later. How could this happen? Why me? Where did I go wrong? And finally the big question: What can I do about it? Tests are done, consultations sought, and a plan emerges. It might be chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, or all of the above. And so the battle begins. We all want the same thing: Life, quality life, and more of it. I promised myself I would do whatever it took to obtain those precious goals. For me it was surgery, a pretty big one. The recovery was slow and painful but in the end I was deemed “A Survivor”. But that was not the end of the story. The treatment had left me de-conditioned and overweight and at risk for more health problems including potential recurrence of cancer. I had survived the cancer now I had to survive the treatment. For me the solution was simple: Exercise. And that was the beginning of the journey that lead to The Doctors Workout.

When looking at prevention and treatment of cancer it is difficult to isolate exercise from it’s closely related cousins diet and weight management. In fact they are all important and to a certain degree inter-related. That is why at MD Fitness we have added healthy recipes through “Anne’s Kitchen”. Between diet and exercise it is estimated that we could prevent 35% of cancers overall. Let’s look at the 10 deadliest cancers individually and what we have discovered:

  1. Lung and Bronchial cancer: This is still the number one killer cancer in the United States linked to smoking and use of tobacco. An estimated 36% could be prevented with changes in diet and exercise with several studies showing a preventive as well as therapeutic benefit separately from exercise.
  2. Colorectal cancer: This is one of the most studied cancers in regard to exercise. An estimated 50% of cases could be prevented in the United States by diet and exercise with more than three dozen studies showing a reduction by 20% or more by exercise alone separate from the effects of diet and weight changes. In addition, patients who exercised were 28% – 42% less likely to die during or after treatment than sedentary patients.
  3. Breast cancer: Over 70 studies have looked at the association between exercise and breast cancer. Over two dozen studies have shown that women who exercise have a 30% - 40% lower risk of developing cancer. At least one study has demonstrated improved survival rates and less recurrence in women who exercise. Multiple studies have demonstrated improved quality of life reduced loss of bone density and increased muscle strength. This can be particularly important for shoulder girdle strength after breast surgery. 
  4. Pancreatic cancer: It has been shown that obese people with a sedentary lifestyle have twice the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Researchers at Harvard have found that walking or hiking as little as 1.5 hours a week can reduce the risk of this cancer by 50%. Diet and exercise together can result in a 19% reduction in the overall number of cases.
  5. Prostate cancer: Over 3 dozen studies have looked at exercise and Prostate cancer with at least two studies demonstrating a lower risk in patients who exercise. There has been an association found between exercise and less aggressive forms of prostate cancer. It has also been shown that exercise can reduce a prostate cancer patient’s risk of dying from the disease by about 30%.
  6. Leukemia: At least one study published in the Annals of Oncology demonstrated that people who were the most physically active had a lower risk of all hematologic cancers including leukemia. Adults who regularly walked or got any form of physical activity had a lower risk of developing leukemia and cancers that affect the blood and lymph system. Another study from the University of North Carolina showed that physical activity significantly improves symptoms of fatigue and depression, increases cardiovascular endurance and maintains quality of life for adult patients undergoing treatment for leukemia. 
  7. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: The effects of exercise on lymphoma were the same as with leukemia
  8. Liver cancer: The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) estimates that 15% of liver cancer cases could be prevented with better management of diet, activity, and weight management. A recent study concluded that exercise can lower the risk of a type of liver cancer based on a study using mice.
  9. Ovarian cancer: Several studies have demonstrated an association between physical activity and a reduced risk of Ovarian cancer.
  10. Esophageal cancer: the Mayo Clinic recently reported on four studies observing that people who were physically active had a 32% lower risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma with a 19% overall reduction of esophageal cancer risk compared to the least physically active people.

The reasons for such a diverse group of cancers to have similar benefits from exercise include:
  1. Helping with weight control
  2. Lowering blood pressure
  3. Improved cardiovascular function
  4. Improving glucose and insulin tolerance
  5. Improving health of muscles, bones, and joints
  6. Improving digestion with less constipation
  7. Improving quality and length of sleep
  8. Lessening nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy
  9. Improved appetite
  10. Improved mood while decreasing stress and anxiety
  11. Boosting the immune system
  12. Increasing the production of white blood cells
  13. Lowering certain cancer related hormone levels (estrogen in women, testosterone in men)

When you look at such an impressive list of health benefits directly related to exercise it is no wonder that it is rapidly becoming the standard of care in the treatment of most cancers. Imagine if there was a drug that could do all the things that exercise can do. It would be the most prescribed medication in history. So if like me, you are ever given those three life changing words “You have cancer” and are ready to fight for your life, get off the couch and ready to sweat. And we at MDfitness are ready to help the fight and get your life back.