Living Lite

What Eggsactly is the Story About Egg Safety

March 27, 2019

The media thrives on hype and its latest target is the egg, a low calorie, inexpensive, source of protein and hard-to-get nutrients.* It is now being blamed for heart attacks and premature death.

Happily, the overwhelming evidence from many well-respected studies show that it is ok to eat an egg.

The media has focused on a single new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that concluded: "Among US adults, higher consumption of dietary cholesterol or eggs was significantly associated with higher risk of incident CVD [cardiovascular - heart - disease] and all-cause mortality [all causes of death] in a dose-response manner."

However, a well-regarded  review of 17 studies found that: "Higher consumption of eggs (up to one egg per day) is not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke."

Further, the recent JAMA study has been criticized for its weak design. Indeed, the authors admitted that they could not rule out other foods or lifestyle issues causing the spike in CVD and death rates. For instance, did the subjects eat eggs with buttered white toast or bacon, as people often do? If so, there is a large body of evidence showing that buttered white bread or bacon would be the more likely offenders in spiking CVD or early death.

JAMA study results stated that there is this flaw. It said: "The associations between egg consumption and incident CVD ... and all-cause mortality ... were no longer significant after adjusting for dietary cholesterol consumption.

In other words, eggs may have had little or nothing to do with increasing CVD risk, while cholesterol may have.

Besides the admitted weakness, in the JAMA study, there are other unanswered questions:

Did the researchers analyze red meat intake? It is well-established that red meat is associated with increased CVD risk and all causes of death, and red meat happens to be high in cholesterol. Could the cholesterol in red meat have been responsible? The JAMA researchers said themselves that they could not tease out all factors leading to the increased CVD and death rates they observed.

Did they analyze saturated fat content? Saturated fat is a more established culprit behind heart disease, according to a Harvard study (among many others) and the American Heart Association.

Cholesterol is in all animal foods. And, we know that foods like red meat are strongly linked to CVD and all causes of death - and are also high in saturated fat.

In short, the JAMA study did not shed any further light on what foods are responsible for increased CVD. While any number of well-respected studies show that it is ok to eat an egg.

* Here are some ways you may benefit from eating eggs...

Protein. Eggs are considered the gold standard against which other proteins are measured. Because of the superior amino acid mix, an egg’s seven grams of protein are absorbed easily and efficiently used by the body. The egg is also low-calorie (74 calories).

Choline. Yolks are one of the best sources of this essential nutrient. Choline is needed for brain development in a growing fetus and may also be important for brain function in adults.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin. These two, important, beneficial nutrients found in egg yolks (as well as kale and spinach) help prevent eye diseases, especially cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. While eggs contain less lutein and zeaxanthin than greens, they are more absorbable because of the presence of fat in the yolk.

Vitamin D. Eggs are one of the few natural sources of Vitamin D, important for the bones, teeth, and possibly reductions in heart disease, cancer and a myriad of other diseases.

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Spring Training: Strength Train for Knee Pain

March 21, 2019

I have knee issues like about everyone else I know. In fact, "about 60 million Americans have knee osteoarthritis and this number will increase by 50% over the next decade," according to The Journal of Injury, Function, and Rehabilitation. I started feeling little twinges by my early 30's. Perhaps being a gymnast and a dancer growing up led to early symptoms. No matter, working with physical therapists and trainers over the years averted any serious pain - until recently.

Three years ago, a torn meniscus required arthroscopic surgery, but my knee pain is back. After some research, I found a review of studies in the journal, BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, and I learned that certain knee arthroscopic surgery is controversial  because apparently, it can hasten knee degeneration. That can lead to the need for knee replacement within just a couple of years. So I can't help wondering: Should I have undergone the arthroscopic surgery to begin with? There are really no answers. And I can't look back now.

Walking (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge Collections) Walking

But I'm feeling hopeful these days. Lots of interesting research is showing that exercising certain muscles with heavier weights, fewer repetitions (meaning you exhaust your muscle within 8 to 12 reps) can successfully decrease pain while increasing function, and that includes longer and stronger walking.

I'm especially convinced about these recommendations because a body of evidence is building that "power training" with heavy weights is most effective at building muscle in older people. That's because it improves the functioning of the nerves that power muscle, according to a study conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The degradation of these nerves is a major cause of muscle impairment in older people, causing disability and loss of independence.

"Improvements in symptoms and function are directly related to exercise intensity and that higher intensity (if maintained over time) would sustain muscle strength and preserve functional abilities," according to the knee arthritis study. The study continued to state that even with more severe knee arthritis, intense strength training enhances postoperative recovery if knee replacement is necessary.

Quadriceps Muscle Group (Photo by: Quadriceps Muscle Group

Quadricep strength is particularly important.

To that end, I'm working with a physical therapist and trainer (periodically), and have invested in (used) weight machines (Craig's list). I'm exercise biking, and do mat pilates from a YouTube video. It's amazing how much more easily - and with significantly less pain - I can walk after I exercise.

I urge you to do the same!

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Your Container Garden's Spring Hydrangea Spruce Up

March 17, 2019

Winter's end is a time for gardeners to hustle, kind of like Spring cleaning - in the dirt. My container garden was drab all winter, except for a few evergreens. So I'm eager to enjoy some color and vibrance again.

My hydrangea buds waking up after their winter slumber (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) My hydrangea buds waking up after their winter slumber

Thankfully, my five hydrangeas - some of which have been in pots for 11 years - are awakening with tiny buds, which inspired me to get to work so that my garden will blossom as soon as possible.

The beauty of my garden is thrilling; it makes this city girl happy; my neighbors love it, too, and we often gather around it chatting. And, as I mentioned in November 20's article: "Create Your Holiday City Garden in Pots!being among nature, plants and trees, improves your well-being.

Horticulturist and Garden Designer, Luis Mármol, pruning my Hydrangea (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) Horticulturist and Garden Designer, Luis Mármol, pruning my Hydrangea

I advise my clients to get outside into the fresh air because "The benefits of nature span a remarkable breadth of health outcomes with evidence for ... reductions in ... all diseases ... from cardiovascular disease, improved healing times, self-perceived general health, reduced stress, reduced respiratory illnesses and allergies... a reduced risk of poor mental health, improved social cohesion, and improved cognitive ability," according to the American Journal of Public Health.

I took the opportunity of this perfect weekend to prepare my hydrangeas for a flourishing spring display, with the advice of my garden guru, Luis Mármol, Dumbarton Oaks Horticulturist and Garden Designer.

Luis Mármol loosening some of the hydrangea’s compacted roots before planting it in the new pot (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) Luis Mármol loosening some of the hydrangea’s compacted roots before planting it in the new pot

First, the pruning, the scariest part for me. In my hydrangeas' 11 years, I didn't dare cut them for fear of losing blossoms. But Luis said pruning is necessary. It adds fullness and increases blooms. He said to cut off the ends of the most brittle branches. If they snap off easily when you bend them, those are the branches you can lose.

Secondly, prepare the new, larger pot by creating drainage. I drilled new holes in the bottom of the pot, and filled it with a layer of old aluminum cans. Luis added an additional thin layer of leaves and then potting soil. 

Third, remove the plant carefully from its container, and pull apart some of the roots with your hands or a garden fork.

Finally, place the plant in the pot so that it is centered. Pour potting soil around the plant to fill in the container. Be sure there are three "fingers" of space between the top of the soil and the top of the pot. This way, when you water, the water stays in the pot and actually waters the hydrangea instead of spilling onto the ground.

Luis Mármol filling potting soil around the plant, then patting it down gently (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) Luis Mármol filling potting soil around the plant, then patting it down gently

BEFORE: My front porch container garden after winter pruning, waiting for its Spring awakening (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) BEFORE: My front porch container garden after winter pruning, waiting for its Spring awakening

AFTER: My front porch container garden in spring. Definitely worth the effort! (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) AFTER: My front porch container garden in spring. Definitely worth the effort!

Now, for the hardest part: Waiting!

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