We all celebrate holidays with our loved ones and enjoy everyone’s presence and what makes the gathering more special and exciting is the variety and wide range of food we altogether enjoy. But study showed that majority of the food prepared during holiday season is mostly loaded with high fat, refined carbohydrates and sugary beverages with very few whole food, plant based variety. We’ll we all can evidently witness how much calories we eat every time Christmas and New Year comes. It’s the best time to enjoy our favorite recipe and desserts with special people around. But are we also aware that this season was also carefully studied by researchers as they are so concerned about the direct increased incidence of heart attack, stroke, and high blood sugar that follows the season of celebration? Yes, it is indeed the time when excess levels of triglycerides and sugar builds up and cause symptoms in the next few hours after enjoying the pasta, cakes, ice cream and soda.
But you may say “I’ve only got to eat all I want this season!” It might not be our everyday choice of food I agree, but you see, it was also established that every meal really counts. When the body is already at the peak of everything and can just handle a little bit more push before an attack happens, would you even know that the single meal you’re looking forward to would determine your fate? The truth is, we’ll never know.
After ingesting a highly processed, calorie-dense diet, a great spike in blood glucose and lipids happens which is also called post-prandial dysmetabolism. With the increase in oxidative stress brought about by that single meal, a direct proportional increase in glucose and triglycerides immediately follows. The resulting transient increase in free radicals acutely triggers dreadful atherogenic consequences with initial inflammation followed by endothelial dysfunction, hypercoagulability (thickening of blood) and sympathetic hyperactivity thus, the increase risk for heart attack and stroke. We have to take note that this sequence of events doesn’t only happens in patients with diabetes but even with nondiabetic individuals.
Our body has it’s own coping mechanism in neutralizing and adjusting imbalances caused by our practices, diet and lifestyle. It has an amazing capacity to preserve itself more than we ever know. But can’t we also do something to at least help our organs somehow? After ingesting every delicious sugar and cholesterol loaded food, is there anything we plan to take to help our body out so it won’t damage our blood vessels as much?
Since it was already known that a spike in blood sugar after meal causes arterial dysfunction and thus increasing mortality from heart attack and stroke, what can we do after the swallows? Here are some of the reliable studies we can refer to that suggest one best option to lower triglycerides and blood sugar after meal.
A study conducted in Kansas City, Missouri entitled Dietary Strategies for Improving Post-Prandial Glucose, Lipids, Inflammation and Cardiovascular Health showed that the consumption of vinegar with meals can decrease triglyceride level within an hour after meal, including decrease in blood sugar and the potential increase in insulin level offering best adjunct management to blunt high blood sugar complications. The use of vinegar as home remedy for diabetes was found very successful before the advent of antihyperglycemic drugs and was finally put to the test in 1988 by Dr. James H. O’Keefe and his group. The effect is mostly caused by the acetic acid that slows down gastric emptying which delays absorption of carbohydrates and prolongs satiety as 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar is incorporated with the meal.
Another study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics showed that Vinegar ingestion significantly reduced 60 minute glucose response to high glucose meal by 54%. Isn’t it a huge help after all? This study showed that we only need 4 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar diluted in water taken with meal to experience the benefit.
So, the help is also right there at the kitchen. Pick that bottle of vinegar and place it on the table so you’ll not forget to take it after enjoying your favorite dessert this holiday season. But please keep in mind that whole plant based food including grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables are best option to alter effects of high calorie-dense food. Remember that every meal counts… Happy Holidays Everyone!
Culinary medicine seems new to most people and the first thing they ask after hearing the term is “What is that all about?” It is basically a field of practice that recently emerged in the advent of Wellness and Healthy Lifestyle Programs in response to the continuous upsurge of non-communicable diseases worldwide. The World Health Organization has predicted that morbidity will be two thirds caused by faulty lifestyle choices by year 2020. But today, evidences are showing us that about seventy percent of death worldwide are lifestyle related diseases which includes heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. With the advances in medicine, availability of prescribed drugs, and the increasing number of highly qualified medical diplomats, the incidence of non-communicable disease has tremendously gone up leaving morbid individuals no choice but maintain drugs to control their condition and at least retard the eminent complications and somehow live longer. No medical treatment seem to offer cure and reversal of such diseases.
It’s not surprising to see patients who are in a ditch, confused of their health condition, taking one pill to another yet their blood sugar keeps creeping up, the cholesterol is still above target, blood pressure uncontrolled and the weight stayed frustratingly high. Some may go on an expensive carefully planned intensive diet program and experience amazing change as initial effect, but after the diet, the same problem goes back. It seem to be a vicious cycle and “Yoyo” effect is always manifested basically due to a common failure of not addressing the cause of the problem.
More and more evidences are prominently showing the link of FOOD as powerful factor in prevention and treatment of chronic diseases but also an undeniable greater factor in the development of several non-communicable diseases. “Food as Medicine” now a days makes a lot of sense after all. It was not too long ago during the good old days when people eats farm products with a complex combination of plant-based and animal produce but the incidence of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity to name a few were too low compared to what we have today where the incidence and prevalence rate have phenomenal increase. What seem to go wrong? People now are eating the same complex combination of food including fruits, vegetables and animal products. But why the increase was exceedingly high and it keeps creeping up right before our eyes? What could be the difference between the food source, preparation, portion consumption, and preferences that may explain the inevitable development of chronic diseases now a days? There might be a lot of confusion along side of the consumers basing on so much information and claims that the food industry is presenting the public.
Watch out for the release of my book "CULINARY MEDICINE" The book will largely deal on several factors influencing the food sources, choices, preparation, nutrition and related pathogenesis that brought about manifestation of chronic diseases, subjects not commonly discussed in culinary arts nor in medical schools. A comprehensive list of simple and easily prepared recipes will also be included to serve as reference for each stage of reaching optimal dietary practices.
The bottom line is, most people wanted to live longer than the expected life expectancy which is surprisingly so low as what the national statistical data is showing us. But since the culture and practices around us is not encouraging nor leading people to live long, we’ve really got to do something! It’s never too late to educate ourselves and start an optimal lifestyle that will not only benefit us but our family and the next generations to come where we pass not only our genes but mostly our familial practices, disease risks and tendencies.
Mechelle Acero Palma, MD