From the June 2018 Issue

The Scoop: Sugar and Cancer Risk

It’s true that glucose, the form of sugar that circulates in your blood, is fuel for cancer cells, but healthy cells need glucose too. The rapid growth of cancer cells means they need more fuel than normal cells. Thus, some people have suggested that avoiding all sugar could “starve” cancer cells and prevent them from growing.

Current Issue

Small Diet Changes Yield Big Results

Every day another diet book hits the shelves, and a new food fad populates social media. And with that, more and more people become confused about how they should revamp their eating habits to reach their desired health or weight goal. Should you go Paleo or vegan? Should you be eating coconut oil by the spoonful or spiking your smoothie with superfood powder?

Don’t Join the Clean Plate Club to Fight Food Waste

Are you a member of the Clean Plate Club? Odds are good that you are, as research suggests that the average adult eats 92 percent of what they put on their plate. The Clean Plate Club made sense when the country’s food supply was limited after the Great Depression and World Wars, but for most Americans today, food is not scarce and portion sizes are large. Over time, cleaning our plates when we are no longer hungry can lead to unintentional weight gain, which doesn’t put a stop to the overall food waste problem.


A homegrown favorite, zucchini is pleasantly prolific in home gardens. Fortunately, zucchini’s versatility—it’s as tasty in savory sautéed, grilled, stuffed,” or “zoodled” recipes as in baked goods—keeps step with high yields. Commonly known as Italian squash in the U.S., it’s also known as zucchini (Italian for small squash) in Italy, and courgette in France.

Slicing into the Best Gluten-Free Breads

Gluten-free is certainly a buzz-word these days in the supermarket aisle. Gluten is a mix of proteins found in certain grains, like wheat, rye, and barley, and products made with these grains, including bread. If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, avoiding gluten is essential. However, unlike popular media claims, avoiding gluten isn’t necessary (or even healthful) for those without such medical conditions. Avoiding gluten needlessly can make it challenging to obtain enough fiber and other minerals found in gluten-containing grains.

Fiber’s Many Gut Benefits

Fiber may be one of the most important factors in maintaining gut health, and a healthy gut is a key player in protecting us from disease. “Ninety-five percent of Americans are lacking in this key nutrient,” says Mascha Davis, MPH, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “It's the 'roughage' or indigestible portion of a plant. Whole grains, nuts, seeds and fruits and vegetables are high in fiber.”

Can Diet Help You Lower Cortisol?

Several blogs and websites claim that with the right diet, you can eat your stress away. So, is that true? Well, not exactly, although good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle can reduce levels of cortisol, a steroid hormone that the body produces in response to stress. The more life stresses you experience, the more cortisol your body produces. It’s a natural response, but a constant release of cortisol can have dire health consequences, including weight gain, elevated blood sugar, high blood pressure, and gastrointestinal problems.

Healthful Vegetarian Diets Linked with Benefits

Interestingly, the latest research on plant-based diets has explored the effects of quality within vegetarian diet patterns—essentially a highly processed (refined carbohydrates, fried foods, sugary products) diet vs. a pattern based on whole, unprocessed foods (whole grains, pulses, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds). As you might expect, the latter diet pattern showed greater benefits. There’s never been a better time to consider a plant-based diet, and the more it focuses on whole plant foods, the better.

Fonio Whole Grain; Vitamin Toxicity

Fonio, also known as “hungry rice,” has been cultivated in West Africa for thousands of years, and is said to be one of the oldest African grains. Fonio is becoming more popular stateside, due to its delicious flavor, as well as its agronomic and nutritional virtues.

Connections Between Fibromyalgia and Diet

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain and tenderness throughout the body. Other common symptoms include sleep difficulties, fatigue, depression, anxiety, cognition and memory problems (known as “fibro fog”), migraine headaches, and digestive problems. A significant percentage of fibromyalgia sufferers alter their diet to relieve symptoms, despite a lack of conclusive evidence that dietary choices can help manage the condition.

Ultra Processed Foods Linked to Cancer

Eating ultra-processed foods—drinks, sugary products, fats, and sauces that include many ingredients and tend to be high in fat, saturated fat, sugar, and salt—may increase cancer risk, according to researchers.

Research Roundup: June 2018

Long-term intake of fish oil, rich in EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and blueberries rich in anthocyanins has cognitive benefits, research shows. Elderly adults with cognitive complaints took daily fish oil or blueberries or both for 24 weeks. Both the fish oil and the blueberry groups reported fewer cognitive symptoms, and the blueberry group improved memory, which indicates improved cognition.

Download the Full June 2018 Issue PDF

Despite the stories based on cells in laboratories, good quality research does not show that avoiding sugar can lower your risk of getting cancer. Overdoing on high-sugar foods and drinks could put you at increased risk, but not for the reasons you probably hear about.

About EN

Environmental Nutrition is the award-winning, independent newsletter (no sponsors, no advertisers) that opens your eyes to what you put in your mouth. Are you floundering in the swamp of conflicting advice on low-carb diets, vitamin E, eating fish, genetically modified foods? EN offers authoritative, reliable, practical guidance on what works and what doesn't in balancing your diet to protect... More.

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