by Jane Quincannon Stanchich

You want to stay up to date on the latest research, so here is the way. Relax, let me filter through the mountains of current nutritional studies, data, research, and discoveries. In an effort to keep current on this crucial subject of healthy nutrition, I have created this column entitled, “Vital Signs.” I hope these noteworthy noshes, these tidbits of titillating information will act as your signals to healthier living, safer food, greater longevity, and inspired ecological choices. The food we eat has a tremendous impact on our personal and planetary well fare. In fact, the word “Well fare” even translates literally into synonyms meaning well=healthy and fare=food or “Healthy Food!” In “Vital Signs,” I serve up the latest nutrition news along with time-honored facts, quotes, and quips to stimulate and satisfy both culinary and cerebral tastes. Enjoy in good health!

The Diabetes Diet
Diabetes is the latest epidemic in the United States-one that can be largely prevented. The Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C. reports that the latest research on diabetes treatment focuses attention on reducing dietary fat. As the PCRM website states, “Fat is a problem for diabetics. The more fat there is in the diet, the harder time insulin has in getting sugar into the cell.  Minimizing fat intake and reducing body fat help insulin do its job much better. Modern diabetic treatment programs drastically reduce meats, high-fat dairy products, and oils. At the same time, they increase grains, legumes, and vegetables. One study found that 21 of 23 patients on oral medications and 13 of 17 patients on insulin were able to get off of their medications after 26 days on a near-vegetarian diet and exercise program. During two-and three-year follow-ups, most diabetics treated with this regimen have retained their gains. The dietary changes are simple, but profound, and they work. Low-fat, vegetarian diets are ideal for diabetics.”

The PCRM goes on to write, “Diabetics are shortchanged by the diet most doctors give them. The typical American Diabetes Association (ADA) diet is still high in fat. The ADA diet limits the amount of butter, eggs, and so forth, but it contains about 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day and about 30 percent fat. In most cases, diabetics can manage their disease much better with a food plan that gets most of its calories from complex carbohydrates while minimizing fats. At the same time, regular, vigorous exercise helps insulin work optimally.” Adopting a macrobiotic type diet sounds like an optimum way to both prevent and help treat diabetes. Go to for further information about this epidemic.

Organic Food with “A-peel”
In her latest book, Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating, top scientific researcher and author, Dr. Jane Goodall, known as “The Chimpanzee Lady,” expresses her passionate commitment to organic foods. “People often ask me, ‘What is the most effective thing I can do to make a difference to the health of the world?’ I tell them, Eat organic and locally.” In her research, Dr. Goodall observed that the African chimps always peeled non-organic bananas, yet they ate the peelings of the organic fruits. Smart chimps. Can’t we all just evolve?

Live and Diet
"I know of no subject more confused, emotionally charged, and important in our lives than food and nutrition and their influence on our well-being." -- Andrew Weil, M.D.

Magical, Marvelous Miso
A Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2003 study of over 20,000 Japanese women shows that daily consumption of miso helps prevent breast cancer with daily. When women ate three bowls of miso soup daily, the breast cancer rate was reduced 40%. Miso’s health-giving isoflavones such as genistein, are 20 times higher in miso than in unfermented soy foods. According to The Miso Book by Jan and John Belleme, over fifty studies show that miso consumption reduces total cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins (LDL’s or “bad” cholesterol.) In addition, miso’s isoflavones reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure. Miso is truly “Souper” food! Eat it daily.

Our Incredible Shrinking Nutrients
Help! America’s conventionally grown foods have been steadily declining in nutritive value. Since the 1950’s, the United States Department of Agriculture has revised past nutritional recommendations, increasing the five servings of three vegetables plus two servings of fruits up to nine servings a day. Less than one third of Americans even eat the five servings each day! Now the USDA recommends we increase our consumption to seven cups of vegetables and two cups of fruit daily. In addition, fresh, organic fruits and vegetables are higher in nutrients than conventionally grown foods. Those who follow a balanced macrobiotic or diet high in fresh, whole, organic grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits are likely to meet and exceed the USDA recommendations. Check out the USDA website for nutrition data-and eat your veggies!

Your Diet: A Moving Experience?
Millions of Americans are plagued by constipation daily, resulting in 2.5 million doctor’s visits and 92,000 hospitalizations annually. The American Journal of Gastroenterol reports that about 15% of people in the U.S. suffer chronic constipation. Other reports say 30%. You probably know that constipation is related to serious intestinal disorders and colon cancer, but it also influences development of fibromyalgia, lupus, chronic fatigue, Parkinson’s disease, and psychological distress. While adequate exercise and water are essential for regularity, the most important dietary element in maintaining natural bowel health is fiber, found abundantly in whole grains, beans, fresh vegetables, seeds, and fruits. Natural foods equals natural regularity, one of life’s simple joys. And that’s the latest scoop on poop.

Beans, Beans, Good for Your Heart… and Preventing Cancer!
The phyto-estrogens in legumes or dry beans protect against breast cancer, according to Leonard A. Cohen, Ph.D., of the American Health Foundation. Dr. Leonard’s research points to the dietary patterns between women in America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Hispanic women in Mexico and the Caribbean have lower rates of breast cancer than American women. Dr. Cohen states it is likely because these women eat beans daily or more than twice as often as American women. Afro-American women eat beans on average three times a week while white American women eat beans only twice a week on average. The anti-cancer compounds in beans include protease inhibitors and phytates. Consuming beans also contribute to lower cholesterol and a healthier heart. Beans are delicious and economical sources of protein, calcium, and fiber. Macrobiotic cooking classes teach methods of preparing beans for  maximum digestion, assimilation, and flavor. You can sing, “Beans, beans good for my heart, the more I eat them I’m really smart!”

"If you step back and look at the data on colon cancer, the optimum amount of red meat you eat should be zero." -- Walter Willet, M.D., Harvard School of Public Health

Less Red Meat, Less Cancer
A six-year Harvard study of over 90,000 women (that’s a study!) discovered that no amount of red meat was safe in preventing colon cancer. (Read that last sentence again.) Conducted by Walter Willet, M.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health, this dramatic study found that women who ate a regular serving of five ounces of beef, pork, or lamb daily were 250 percent more likely to develop colon cancer than women eating red meat less than once a month. Even women who ate red meat once a week or even once a month were 40% more apt to develop colon cancer. Dr. Willet states that the results would be equal for men and goes on to relay that he eats no red meat himself. Willet is one doctor who takes the Biblical advice, “Physician, heal thyself” literally.

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