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Summary of articles for December 2015

10 Health Benefits of Potatoes
Cortisol (Stress Hormone)


10 Health Benefits of Potatoes
Author: Nutrition Facts

1 – Potato Juice for Rheumatism

Raw potato juice can help to get rid of the pain and discomfort caused by rheumatism. 2 tsp of raw potato juice should be taken just before meals.

2 – Potatoes and Cancer

Research has revealed that lectins like those present in potatoes inhibit cancer cell growth.

3 – Potatoes and Blood Pressure

A study has suggested that consuming potatoes each day can lower high blood pressure almost the same as oats without resulting in an increase in weight.

Researchers have identified potatoes as being the lowest cost source of dietary potassium, a nutrient lacking in the American diet, and important for reducing the risk of high blood pressure. One medium potato with skin provides 18% of the recommended daily value of potassium.

4 – Potatoes for Healthy Bones

Minerals in potatoes such as phosphorous, iron, magnesium, calcium and zinc help with the maintenance of bone strength and structure.

5 – Potatoes for Cholesterol

Potatoes contain significant amounts of dietary fiber, which can help to lower blood cholesterol.

6 – Potatoes for a Healthy Heart

The potassium, fiber, vitamin B-6 and vitamin C content in potatoes provide support for a healthy heart. Diets which are high in foods rich in vitamin B6 are associated with reduced rates of heart disease. The cholesterol lowering properties of potatoes also help to reduce risk of heart disease.

7 – Do Potatoes Make You Fat?

Research has demonstrated that people can incorporate potatoes into their diet and still lose weight. Researchers studied 86 overweight women and men over twelve weeks to determine how a reduced calorie diet with the addition of potatoes affected weight loss. The individuals were randomly allocated to 3 groups and each one had a diet that included 5 to 7 helpings of potatoes each week. The outcomes showed that all 3 groups lost weight.

The soluble fiber in potatoes can also help with weight loss by providing a longer feeling of fullness.

8 – Potatoes for Healthy Skin

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for collagen, the support system for the skin, promoting the ability of collagen to improve skin texture and smooth wrinkles.

9 – Potatoes for Healthy Nerves

The B vitamins help to support adrenal function, calming and maintaining a healthy nervous system. Vitamin B6 helps in production of neurotransmitters, which are the chemicals that allow brain and nerve cells to communicate with one another.

10 – Potatoes for Healthy Muscles

Carbohydrates are an important part of a post-exercise recovery meal. Glycolysis is the breakdown of carbohydrates and it’s important that enough carbohydrates are consumed to fuel glycolysis during and after activity. The carbohydrates from safe starches such as potatoes can rapidly replenish liver glycogen stores.

The potassium is also vital for helping muscles contract.

Nutrients in Potatoes

Potatoes are an excellent source of several nutrients, such as vitamins C and B6, potassium, pantothenic acid, niacin and dietary fiber. The protein in potatoes contain lysine, an essential amino acid generally absent in grains.

Nutritional value of potatoes per 100g:

  • How many calories in a potato – 77
  • How much protein in a potato – 2g
  • How many carbs in a potato – 17g
  • What is the fat content of a potato – 0.1g

Where do Potatoes Come From?

Potatoes are indigenous to Peru, where they have been cultivated by the Inca Indians since around 200 B.C. They were introduced into Ireland during the early part of the 16th century where they became popular. The tragic Irish Potato Famine took up to a million lives from disease and hunger.

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Cortisol (Stress Hormone)
Author: Society of Endocrinology

Cortisol is a steroid hormone which regulates a wide range of processes throughout the body including metabolism and the immune response. It also has a very important role in helping the body respond to stress.

Alternative names for cortisol

Hydrocortisone.

What is cortisol?

Cortisol is a steroid hormone, known as a glucocorticoid, made in the cortex of the adrenal glands and then released into the blood which transports it all round the body.  Almost every cell contains receptors for cortisol and so cortisol can have lots of different actions depending on which sort of cells it is acting upon. These effects include controlling the body’s blood sugar levels and thus regulating metabolism, acting as an anti-inflammatory, influencing memory formation, controlling salt and water balance, influencing blood pressure and helping development of the foetus. In many species cortisol is also responsible for triggering the processes involved in giving birth.

A similar version of this hormone, known as corticosterone, is produced by rodents, birds and reptiles.

How is cortisol controlled?

Blood levels of cortisol vary dramatically, but generally are high in the morning when we wake up, and then fall throughout the day. This is called a diurnal rhythm. In people that work at night, this pattern is reversed, so the timing of cortisol release is clearly linked to daily activity patterns. In addition, in response to stress, extra cortisol is released to help the body to respond appropriately.

The secretion of cortisol is mainly controlled by three inter-communicating regions of the body, thehypothalamus in the brain, the pituitary gland and the adrenal gland. This is called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. When cortisol levels in the blood are low, a group of cells in a region of the brain called the hypothalamus release corticotrophin-releasing hormone which causes the pituitary gland to secrete another hormone, adrenocorticotropic hormone, into the bloodstream. High levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone are detected in the adrenal glands and stimulate the secretion of cortisol, causing blood levels of cortisol to rise. As the cortisol levels rise, they start to block the release of corticotrophin-releasing hormone from the hypothalamus and adrenocorticotropic hormone from the pituitary. As a result the adrenocorticotropic hormone levels start to drop which then leads to a drop in cortisol levels. This is called a negative feedback loop.

What happens if I have too much cortisol?

Too much cortisol over a prolonged period of time can lead to a condition called Cushing's syndrome. This can be caused by a wide range of factors such as a tumour that produces adrenocorticotropic hormone (and therefore increases cortisol secretion), or taking certain types of drugs. The symptoms include:

  • Rapid weight gain mainly in the face, chest and abdomen contrasted with slender arms and legs
     
  • A flushed and round face
     
  • High blood pressure
     
  • Osteoporosis
     
  • Skin changes (ie, bruises and purple stretch marks)
     
  • Muscle weakness
     
  • Mood swings which show as anxiety, depression or irritability
     
  • Increased thirst and frequency of urination.

High cortisol levels over a prolonged time can also cause lack of sex drive and, in women, periods can become irregular, less frequent or stop altogether (amenorrhoea).

In addition there has been a long-standing association between raised or impaired regulation of cortisol levels and a number of psychiatric conditions such as anxiety and depression. However, the significance of this is not yet clearly understood.

How can I lower my cortisol levels?

Although there are many ways that cortisol levels can be lowered, introduction of these foods can help counter act against the stress hormone. Some of these foods are: 

  • Foods high in Zince such as Oysters, Lean Pot Roast or Short Ribs
  • Microgreens (Greens that are atleast 14 days or youger are full of nutrients)
  • Flax-seeds and Walnuts 
  • Beans & Barley 
  • Spinch 
  • Dark Choclate
  • Citrus Fruits 
  • Holy Basil Tea
  • Adaptive Activities such as Yoa or Pilates (High Impact Activites actually have the ability to raise levels) 
  • 8 hours of Sleep

What happens if I have too little cortisol?

Too little cortisol can be due to a condition called Addison's disease. It has a number of causes, all rare, including damage to the adrenal glands by auto-immune disease. The onset of symptoms is often very gradual. Symptoms may include fatigue, dizziness (especially upon standing), weight loss, muscle weakness, mood changes and the darkening of regions of the skin. Urgent assessment by a specialist hormone doctor called an endocrinologist is required when a diagnosis of Cushing's syndrome or Addison's disease is suspected.

 

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