anthocyanins

  1. Flavonoids can prevent diabetes

    Know which nutrients can REALLY fight diabetes

    You can always count on the media to get it wrong.

    I'm sure you've seen the headlines that claim eating chocolate and drinking wine can help control blood sugar and prevent diabetes.

    Too good to be true?

    You bet it is -- because the study didn't really find that at all. What it found is that people who get the most flavonoids from their diet have lower insulin resistance and better blood sugar control.

    And with that, they may have a lower risk of diabetes.

    But the secret isn't wine and chocolate, as the headlines might lead you to believe. It's in two types of flavonoids in particular: flavones and anthocyanins.

    You'll find anthocyanins in berries, especially blackberries, blueberries and strawberries, while top sources of flavones include herbs such as parsley, thyme and oregano as well as celery and chili peppers.

    Tea is also a terrific (and delicious) source of flavonoids.

    That said, you will find some in both wine and chocolate -- but that doesn't mean you should load up on booze and candy bars.

    The problem with wine is the alcohol. A glass of wine every now and then probably won't hurt you, but a wine habit regular enough to be considered a source of nutrition -- even a moderate one -- will come with risks, including an increased risk of cancer and cognitive decline.

    Chocolate is a little better for you. It's not only a terrific source of flavonoids, it's also proven to be good for both the heart and brain -- and, despite the fact that it contains sugar, chocolate can even help to control blood sugar and prevent diabetes.

    But you won't get those benefits if you gobble down candy bar after candy bar. Stick to a small square or two of chocolate per day.

    Just bear in mind that the best way to get a wide range of these great nutrients isn't with a single food, but a wide variety of healthy foods -- especially brightly colored fruits and vegetables, since most of the healthy flavonoids come from pigments.

  2. Cherries and gout

    Gout is on the rise -- here's your cure

    I don't need to see a new study to know that gout is on the rise. All I have to do is look out into my own waiting room, where I've got more patients limping in than ever before. But I am interested in a different study of eating cherries and gout prevention.

    One new study finds gout cases in the U.K. have doubled inside of a decade, increasing by an average of 7.2 percent per year in that time. On the other side of the globe, in New Zealand, gout has increased by an average of 5.5 percent in that same decade.

    And here in the United States, other recent numbers show that 8.3 million adults are battling gout -- and if that sounds like a lot, just wait. More than 43 million Americans have high levels of uric acid, a marker that means many of them will be fighting their own battles with gout pain in the not-too-distant future.

    We're facing so many new cases of gout that they're literally rewriting the rules on this, issuing a new set of guidelines for patients and doctors alike.

    Those guidelines do a good job of pointing out that dietary changes and restricting or eliminating alcohol can help prevent flare-ups -- but after that, they read more like Big Pharma marketing material.

    You can see them here if you need some bedtime reading. You'll find they mention just about every possible drug for gout despite the fact that many of these meds are barely effective, take far too long to kick in, and often come with unacceptably high risks.

    There are much safer and far better alternatives -- and another new study of cherries and gout confirms the effectiveness of one of the gout treatments I recommend most - You've guessed it, it's cherries.

    In the cherries and gout study of 633 gout patients tracked for a year, researchers found that those who ate either 30 delicious cherries a day or drank a daily cup of cherry juice had a 35 percent lower risk of flare-ups than those who were told to avoid cherries.

    Cherries are rich in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients called anthocyanins. I know that's not exactly a word most people will remember, so just keep this in mind: This compound in cherries can dissolve uric acid crystals. When the crystals dissolve, they can get kicked out by your kidneys.

    And when they get kicked out by your kidneys, they don't build up in your joints, especially your foot, where they can bring on the pain.

    One note here on cherries and gout: Not all cherries are equally effective. I've found that sour cherry works best -- and you can find it in supplement form, as an extract, or even a juice. If you want to give the juice a try, be sure to read the ingredients closely to make sure it's all cherry and not a blend with sweeteners and other ingredients.

    Other natural ways to beat gout include increasing your vitamin C intake and either eating more celery or taking a celery seed supplement. And since high blood sugar levels often go hand-in-hand -- or foot-in-foot -- with gout, make sure you keep them under control.

    Finally, don't forget to make dietary adjustments -- because even small changes can make a big difference. You can read more about those changes for free right here.

  3. The right way to beat gout

    I don't know what's worse: Gout, or the drugs prescribed to treat this painful condition.

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