The amount of nitrate in vegetables varies from state to state. Celery grown in New York State has fewer nitrates than celery from Los Angeles. Thunderstorms influence nitrate concentration. Lightning changes the nitrogen in the air into nitrous acid. Rain carries that into the soil, bacteria in the soil convert it to nitrate, and plants use it to make protein.
Bacteria in the mouth help convert nitrate into NO. People who use mouthwash twice a day have less bacteria in their mouths, thus less NO (and often higher blood pressure).
As we age, our ability to generate nitric oxide declines. By age 40, we make 50 percent less NO than we did when we were 20, and far less then when we are 70. This decline is associated with blood vessel changes that lead to cardiovascular disease, mental decline and even erectile dysfunction.
NO improves blood glucose uptake. Therefore, people with diabetes (as well as all of us) will benefit from a nitrate-rich diet, so eat your veggies!
The wave of the future is genetic testing for personalized nutrition guidance. Your genetic make-up (as identified by collecting DNA from saliva or a cheek swab) can give a snapshot of how you could eat for optimal health. The test generates a personal profile regarding susceptibility to disease. For example, some people can eat eggs yet have low cholesterol; others need to avoid eggs to prevent high cholesterol. One size does not fill all when it comes to dietary recommendations.
We currently know that some people have a genetic variation that makes them more susceptible to heart disease if they drink more than four cups of coffee a day. We also know 50 percent of us are "slow caffeine metabolizers" who have trouble sleeping if we consume caffeine in the afternoon. Genetic variation can also determine who should limit salt intake to reduce risk for high blood pressure, and who has undiagnosed celiac disease.
Should you jump on the bandwagon and spend $400 or more to get your genetic profile? The 2013 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Position Stand on Nutritional Genomics states:
"The practical application of nutritional genomics for complex chronic disease is an emerging science and the use of nutrigenetic testing to provide dietary advice is not ready for routine dietetics practice."
Yet, many people are curious and have found the information to be helpful. It motivates them to change their eating habits and take nutrition guidance seriously. Figure out if you want to wait for more robust data to be collected and for health professionals to be better trained in interpreting the data.
Ditch the Diet
Despite popular belief, you should not assess your health based solely on your weight—and certainly not on your Body Mass Index (BMI), which is based on body mass. Many very lean and muscular athletes have a high BMI, and they perform well, despite their higher weight.
Health At Every Size (HAES) is a national non-diet movement that encourages people to think twice before going on a reducing diet because we know that diets don't work in the long run. In fact, diets may inadvertently promote weight swings, disordered eating and body hatred.
The non-diet approach encourages you to accept and respect the fact that humans come in diverse body shapes and sizes. No one idealized shape is best—not even for athletes. Perhaps you can let your body be "good enough"?
HAES encourages everyone to fuel for well being and choose meals based on hunger, satiety, nutritional needs and pleasure. Eat mindfully and intuitively, and stay attuned to the portion your body actually requires (often more than offered by a Lean Cuisine). Intuitive eating is the opposite of eating according to how much popular diet apps say to eat.
While exercise is an important part of a weight-management program, HAES encourages health-enhancing movement that is enjoyable and suits your interests. Maybe you'd really prefer more yoga and less running? Make sure the "E" in your exercise and eating programs stands for "enjoyment."
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