Nurses World Magazine Review Total Nutrition Cooking

John R. Wilson, PhD (published in Nurses World Magazine, April 2007)

Larrian Gillespie is nothing if not forthright. She recommends “Nutrition Queens,” i.e., eating nutrition-dense foods included in the USDA Food Pyramid of 2005, and thirty minutes of “exhilarating exercise” each day. Then everyone (most of us, some of us) can say goodbye to heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cancer. (I don’t wonder at the book’s disclaimers: This book “is sold with the understanding that the author and its publishers are not engaged in rendering professional services. … If a reader requires personal assistance or advice, a competent professional should be consulted.”)

That said, I am so glad that Gillespie wrote this book.

Her recipes are reasons to live! How about an appetizer of smoky cilantro and lime shrimp, or some “cranky crab” soup with spinach? Care to try the Portobello mushroom, tomato and basil sandwich or a tarragon chicken, raisin and almond sandwich on fresh, warm sourdough bread? Then there’s the tuna-curry pasta with cashews, scallops with peppered bacon and shallots, and butternut squash and cinnamon brown sugar, not to mention the apricot-honey and mustard pork tenderloin (Oh, my God!). If it’s desserts you crave, then try the almond-chocolate pudding, the coconut custard baked in acorn squash or Auntie Em’s comforting rice pudding.

What’s particularly refreshing is that this book doesn’t assert an umbrella diet for everyone. It does suggest that the relationship between diet and health is complex, that nutritional needs vary, and that dietary discretion, regular exercise, stress management and abstention from tobacco can prolong good health.

Who needs heaven? All I need is a copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Total Nutrition Cooking and maybe a pinch of restraint.

reprinted with Permission, Nurses World Magazine


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Good Carbs Lead to Weight Loss

You read that correctly. Consuming good carbs can lead to sustained weight loss, according to a study in The American Journal of Epidemiology. People who ate more refined grains, starchy vegetables, white flour and similar carbohydrates were significantly heavier than people who ate foods with “good carbohydrates” such as whole grains, non-starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds. It wasn’t the total amount of carbohydrates that made the difference, it was the type of carbohydrates eaten that tipped the scales. “There are many factors involved in obesity, but our study found a clear association with eating certain carbohydrates and body weight,” said Yunsheng Ma, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at UMMS, and lead author of the study.
Dr. Ma’s team analyzed data collected from 572 people in Worcester County from 1994 to 1998, as part of a National Institutes of Heath-funded blood cholesterol study conducted by Ira S. Ockene, MD, the David J. and Barbara D. Milliken Professor of Preventive Cardiology and professor of medicine at UMMS. Each subject was followed for one year, with his or her eating patterns charted at five different times during that year. Ma’s team also examined the physical activity of the subjects to control for the variables of exercise and energy consumption, thereby focusing the analysis solely on the connection between eating various food containing carbohydrates and body weight.

The carbohydrates were classified based on their glycemic index (GI) which is a measure of how much and how fast a food raises a person’s blood sugar level. Foods with a high GI value rapidly spike blood sugar, while foods with a low GI value can help control blood sugar levels. Several other studies have shown that blood sugar levels are related to fat deposition in tissues because, when blood sugar spikes, insulin is elevated and that prompts the body’s fat and muscle cells to absorb the sugar in the blood and store it as fat.

Carbohydrates are the foods that most severely affect the GI of a person’s diet. Items like potatoes, refined grains, pasta, overly processed breads, starchy vegetables and ingredients such as refined sugars and flour, have the highest GI values. For example, a baked potato has a GI of 85 and an ear of corn’s GI is 60. Other carbohydrates such as whole grains, nuts, many fruits and most vegetables, have lower GI values. A cup of broccoli, for example, has a GI of 0.

Based on the population in Dr. Ma’s study, people weighed 9.6 pounds less for every 10-point reduction in the combined glycemic index of their diet. In other words, a person with a GI of 95 typically weighed nearly 10 pounds more than someone in the study with a GI of 85, all other factors being equal. “Nearly 10 pounds is a clinically significant difference,” said Barbara Olendzki, RD, MPH, an instructor in medicine at UMMS and a co-author of the study. “One of the takeaway messages of these findings is that if people can lower the GI of their diet by choosing the best carbohydrates to eat, they should be able to lose some weight. Those lower GI foods can also be helpful for appetite control.”

Recent national studies have shown that the number of Americans who are obese has jumped 61% since 1991. Today, some two-thirds of Americans are overweight (BMI of 25 to 30), with nearly 30 percent of the country’s adult population now considered obese. The rise in obesity is believed to be a key factor in the dramatic increase in type 2 diabetes in the United States. During the same time frame, several studies have documented a significant drop in the overall fat content of the American diet. That data, coupled with the findings published this month from Dr. Ma’s study, suggest that it is the type of carbohydrate in a person’s diet, along with proper exercise and overall caloric intake, that is most relevant in affecting body weight. “We must continue to examine all the factors that play a role in obesity. In the meantime I hope these findings will help people make better choices in their diet and help those who are motivated, to lose weight and improve their quality of life,” Dr. Ma said.

So, don’t think you need to avoid eating carbs in your life. Just make wise choices and your waistline will thank you.

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