Top Tips from the 2013 Nutrition & Health Conference

My favourite time of the year is when I get to bask in the knowledge of experienced integrative health doctors, scientists, clinicians and chefs at the annual Nutrition & Health Conference presented by the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.

I wanted to share some top tips that you can easily incorporate into your daily life to give you an added nutritional boost.

Tip # 1: Garlic – crush and leave for 10 minutes garlic

Garlic is already an established “health food” as it has cardio-protective properties  and has been found to reduce the incidence of certain cancers (mostly of the digestive system) in those that consume the most. It also exhibits anti-oxidant and anti-microbial effects.

The trick is that after crushing the garlic you must let it rest for 10 minutes before heating or consuming. Crushing the clove releases an enzyme that catalyzes to form allicin.  Allicin then breaks down to form a variety of heart-healthy organosulfur compounds. So crushed or chopped garlic, is reportedly better for cardiac health than whole cloves.

Tip # 2: The Menace of SSBs  (sugar sweetened beverages) 

There is no doubt that SSBs (which includes juice) is one of the chief drivers of the obesity epidemic and type 2 diabetes particularly in young people. It is also a key causative factor in tooth decay, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.

Portion sizes are out of control. In 1950 a 16 ounce serving was intended to serve 3 people. Now we have 64 ounce Double Gulps intended to serve one person, usually an adolescent boy. That equates to 54 teaspoons of sugar in one go! An adult male should have no more than 9 teaspoons of sugar a day.

If you have any doubt that SSBs are harmful to health, consider the organizations calling for action to reduce them:

American Academy Pediatrics, American Heart Assn, American Public Health Assn, Marican Medical Assn, Institute of Medicine, USDA, Child Obesity Foundation, Public Health Assn of BC and Ontario – the list goes on.

Consider this…

Are SSBs the new tobacco? Tobacco SSBs
Public health menace
Unnecessary for survival
Heavily marketed to children and adults
Contribute to disease & drive up health care costs
Industry looking for young consumers
Product is price elastic
Addictive Probably


Tip # 3: Lettuce – rip and store

At top tip from Jo Robinson of  Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health, is to wash, dry and rip your lettuce once home from the supermarket (or ideally farmers’ market).  Store the lettuce in an air-tight bag in the fridge. The ripping of the leaves causes stress which releases the anti-oxidants. While the lettuce is stored these anti-oxidants multiply four-fold compared to eating the lettuce straight after preparation.

Tip # 4: Powerhouse Herbs – not just a garnish!

Herbs provide a host of powerful phytochemicals that may have strong preventative effects in the fight against chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.

The Lamiaceae family includes mint, thyme, marjoram, oregano, basil and rosemary. These herbs have strong anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-microbial properties. Buy or, better yet, grow and use liberally in your meals. Ensure you enjoy a variety to maximize the benefits.

Tip # 5: Curcumin each day keeps the doctor away.

Curcumin is the active ingredient in the spice turmeric which is yellow and often used in Indian cooking.  It has powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti- microbial properties. In fact, turmeric has outperformed many pharmaceuticals in its effects against several chronic, debilitating diseases, and does so with virtually no adverse side effects. The diseases included Alzheimer’s, cancer and arthritis.

Curcumin may be preventative against cancer as it acts as a weak phytoestrogen which can be protective against breast cancer and it has been shown to induce cell death of colon cancer cells.

If that’s not enough, it has also been shown to suppress inflammation of the gastro-intestinal tract associated with inflammatory bowel disease.

The tip – curcumin or turmeric needs black pepper to activate its compounds. So liberally add turmeric to your soups, stews and chili but make sure you give a few good grinds of pepper as well.


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