Friday, November 16, 2012

An Anti-Inflammatory Salmon Dinner

This is a simply fabulous dinner for two or three. You can easily multiply the recipe, make the salsa the morning of the dinner, and cook the carrots for longer than the stated time.  The goal here is to get the house smelling wonderfully, serve up a healthy meal, and have a fantastic presentation that is sure to be an eye-pleaser for your guests.  And if you clean the dishes as you go along, you won't have a huge mess on your hands.  We use the same pot for the carrots twice, and we use the same skillet for the salmon twice also, as we return the dish for more flavor and the finishing touches!  


Salmon with Dill and Olives

Baby Carrots with Dill, Parsley, and Garlic

Papaya and Tomato Salsa with Cilantro


Papaya and Tomato Salsa with Cilantro

1/2 cup fresh papaya, chopped
3/4 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Place all items in a small serving bowl and refrigerate to cool down while the other items are cooking. Sure to be a crowd-pleaser and a great pairing with the salmon and dill. Go ahead and throw away the stems and core of the tomato, cleaning your counter before proceeding with the carrots and salmon.  You'll be glad you did, and the kitchen will look much cleaner. Serves 2 or 3.

Baby Carrots with Dill

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup baby carrots
Dash of salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Do not substitute.
1/4 teaspoon fresh garlic, chopped finely
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped

Bring water to boil and then add baby carrots.  Bring to boil again, then simmer on medium for 40 minutes.  Do not discard carrot water as it contains water-soluble vitamins.  Check for doneness and then remove all carrots to a cutting board.  Reserve water in a cup. While chopping carrots, saute garlic in same pot.  This will make the house smell wonderful and the neighbors will get hungry. Add parsley and dill.  Then add all the chopped carrots.  Simmer and stir frequently; do not leave the pot.  Gradually use all the reserved water to replenish with vitamins.  Carrots will stay hot for some time because of their nature, but you can simmer them for 2 minutes on medium high when it is time to serve. Serves 3 or 4.

Salmon with Dill and Olives

Atlantic salmon, farm-raised                                 4 fillets
Olive Oil                                                               2 teaspoons per fillet
Black and Green Olives, chopped finely              1 teaspoon per salmon fillet
White or wheat flour, unbleached                         1 tablespoon
Half and half                                                         2 tablespoons

Pour olive oil into skillet on medium high. Add salmon filets, then top with chopped olives.  Cover.  Let simmer for 10 - 15 min.  The olives will bake into the top of the salmon.  Turn over carefully and then Cover again.  Let simmer again for 10 min.  Return to original position and cook for 5 more minutes.  You can turn off the skillet and finish dinner preparations for the baby carrots and the salsa, as you will return the fillets to the skillet for sauce and heating up. Check for doneness and allow for additional cooking if desired.  Remove salmon from skillet.

Keep skillet on medium.  Drizzle flour onto leftover oil.  Whisk rapidly, crushing lumps.  Slowly add half and half, simmer.  Sauce thickens. May add water to thin.  For serving, return salmon fillets to skillet and cook on medium high for 2 min. Dot top of fillet with spots of sauce for extra yumminess.

The IF Tracker

by Dr. Margaret Aranda

Just a short blurb here about the IF Tracker.  It assigns an 'inflammatory' the case may be, an "anti-inflammatory' number to each food you eat.  I've been on the Low-Glycemic Index Diet for about two months now, and I don't think that I will ever go back to eating the way that I did before (that was a Pre-Diabetic diet, and No Thank You!)  There are 2,200 foods pre-wired in to the Ap, and it is very user-friendly.  How did I learn about it?  From the Cenegenics Times quarterly Newsletter!

For example, on Day One, I ended up with 1,200 positive points, only because I ate Atlantic salmon for dinner.  Surprisingly, my boiled egg, yogurt, salad, and carrots did not add up to much on the anti-inflammatory roster. None of these foods do much to 'add' to the anti-inflammation aspects of your diet.

On Day Two, I ate salmon, carrots, and salad too, but this time I skipped items that did not land me in the 'positive' range.  So at the end of the day, I could still drink my coffee with half-and-half, and wala! I'm 2,400 + points toward anti-inflammation.

I had no idea that peas, grapes, and papaya don't do much for me here.  It's the Serrano peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil, and fish that add in by adding a huge positive value to the roster.  Especially the fish. Wow, I can't believe how good fish is for you, and after only two days of the IF Tracker, I'm hooked.

Here's my dinner tonight:

Atlantic Salmon, farm-raised
4 oz
Olive Oil
2 tsp
Baby Carrots
¼ cup
Dill, fresh
¼ tsp
Garlic, raw
1/8 tsp
Onions, raw
1/8 cup
Tomatoes, cooked
2 tbsp
Papaya, fresh
1 1/3 tbsp
1 1/3 tsp
White flour, unbleached
¾ tsp

Add to the above: lox for breakfast with cup of coffee; almond snack; tuna salad with lettuce and tomatoes, zucchini, carrots.

My total IF Tracker points for the day? 2,479.
Calories = 1,104
Fat (g) = 72
Protein (g) = 79
Carbs (g) = 39

I'm loving this! I know that I still have a long way to go to really 'get' this, but hey, it's only Day Two!

The kids eat the whole plate, company raves aloud, and everyone feels great after a meal!
Here's the Menu:

Salmon and Olives, with Olive Sauce
Papaya and Tomato Salsa, Cilantro Bits
Baby Carrots, Garlic, Parsley, and Dill Weed

Mmmmm!  This dinner is a keeper!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Ovaries: Reproduction and Endocrine Function

The Ovarian Follicle: Reproductive and Endocrine Organ

The female body is endowed with the uterus and ovaries as reproductive organs.  But having babies is not their only function. Initial breast bud and pubic hair formation occurs because of hormones produced by the ovaries.  Later, a girl will have her first period.

A girl begins to menstruate because her ovaries are producing estrogen and progesterone.  The 28-day menstrual cycle may not begin with the first period.  It may take 2-3 years for a girl to be ‘established’ with monthly periods, as she may have her periods only once or twice in the first year, then more often as time progresses.

Women are born with two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus (See Figure 1).

Figure 1.  The female pelvis.  The uterus is behind the urinary bladder.  1 = Fallopian tube; 2 = urinary bladder; 3 = pubic symphesis; 4 = vagina; 5 = clitoris; 6 = urethral opening; 7 = vagina; 8 = ovary; 9 = fascia; 10 = uterus; 11 = posterior cervix; 12 = cervix; 13 = colon; 14 = rectum.

It is important to understand that the human ovary serves two functions:  reproduction and endocrine.  Both of these functions are tightly coupled, as the release of hormones makes the uterus ready for fertilization of an oocyte that comes from the ovarian follicles (See Figure 2).

Figure 2.  Reproduction:  The Ovarian Follicle and the Cycles of Menstruation.  With the monthly cycle, the ovarian follicle prepares an oocyte for maturation and release to the Fallopian tube, with the possibility of fertilization and reproduction. 

There are three types of cells in the human ovary:  the oocyte or mature egg, the granulosa cells, and the external thecal layers.  The follicle houses the oocyte that is maturing to the time of release.  The granulosa cells are in the follicle, and they surround the oocyte.

Hormone production dictates what happens to the follicle. When testosterone increases, the number of granulosa cells decrease.  When gonadotropins (i.e., protein hormones produced by the anterior pituitary gland) increase, the granulosa cells increase in number, not size.  Pituitary gonadotropins include:  follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and lutenizing hormone (LH).  FSH tells the granulosa cells to make LH receptors on the cell surface so that when LH is produced and binds to the receptors, the end of the cycle proliferation occurs.  This makes the period stop (see Figure 3).

Figure 3.  Endocrine:  The Ovarian Follicle and Hormone Production.  The human ovarian follicle produces estrogen and progesterone during the Follicular Phase and Luteal Phase, respectfully.  At the time of the early menstrual period, estrogen dominates.  Once the egg is released and there is no fertilization, progesterone dominates.

Another human gonadotropin is produced by the placenta, and this is known as human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).  The hCG is the hormone test for pregnancy that is commonly used on pregnancy strips.  If hCG is present, placenta is making it.  As the placenta increases in size during the early stages of pregnancy, the hCG also increases in number.  During pregnancy, the placenta also produces estrogen.

During the nonpregnancy state, the human female ovaries produce estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.  Granulosa cells in the ovarian follicles and the surrounding corpora lutea make estrogen.  Other organ cells participate in estrogen production, but to a lessor extent:  the fat or adipose, liver, breasts, and the adrenal gland.  Postmenopausal estrogen production can still occurs from these extra-ovarian sources, but a woman's individual blood levels must be measured to know what phase her ovaries are in.  In the nonpregnant female, the highest levels of estrogen occur just prior to ovulation, near the end of the Follicular Phase (see Figure 3). 

Figure 4. The metabolism of cholesterol.  A variety of biochemical reactions exist whereby cholesterol is metabolized to progesterone, then on to dehydroepiandrosterone, testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, or estradiol.  Cholesterol is not all bad, and our bodies must produce cholesterol not just in order to procreate, but to develop neurologically. Cholesterol is important to the structure of cells, as well as being a precursor of oxysterols, bile acids, and steroid hormones.  

Cholesterol is the "Mother Molecule" of androgen and estrogen steroids (See Figure 4). Actually, you may be surprised to learn that the cholesterol molecule is a major part of the human brain, and there is no organ in the human body that contains more cholesterol than the human brain (Orth, 2012).  In fact, about 20% of the body’s cholesterol is contained in the brain.  The brain does not have the same metabolic pathway as other organs, and the brain is responsible for what is called de novo synthesis of cholesterol.  This means that the brain makes it freshly. It was Couerbe who, in 1836, described the cholesterol molecule as being “un element principal”, meaning ‘a key element’ in the central nervous system (Couerbe, 1834).

It is important to note that the ovary is uniquely tied into the hormones that they produce.  The ovaries are an organ, and they synthesize and coordinate the lifecycle of a girl and a woman. In old age, the same ovaries dictate how menopause is approached.  

If a woman undergoes a hysterectomy and the surgeon also removes the ovaries, this is 'surgical menopause'. A woman undergoing a hysterectomy gets a 'crash course' in menopause if the ovaries are removed, and she should be offered a discussion of whether or not she should be placed on hormone replacement therapy (HRT).  Backing up for a moment, wait just one moment.  Actually, we must first question whether the ovaries should be removed at all.  Stay tuned for the next article, which will address this issue.

Couerbe JP. Du cerveau, considere sous le point du vue chimique et physiologique. Annales De Chimie Ed De Physique. 1834;56:160-193.

Orth M., and Bellosta S.  Cholesterol: its regulation and role in central nervous system disorders.  Cholesterol, 2012;2012:292598, doi:10.1155/2012/292598. Epub 2012 Oct 17.


Additional Articles by Dr. Margaret Aranda

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Women Helping Women

Women have gone through menopause ever since they could live long enough to pass the usual insults of medieval life ~ death by childbirth or communicable diseases.  While menopause is a natural part of aging and not a disease state or illness per se, it is important to view it as a hormone deficiency state where quality of life needs to be optimized.  Fluctuations in hormones can be erratic, or severe deficiency can occur, making the time ripe for evaluation by a professional.  Did anyone have The Second Talk with you about menopause?  Menopause is associated with significant health risk factors:  heart disease and osteoporosis.

 Many women complain of symptoms of pre-menopause, where periods become heavier, the abdomen is more bloated, and insomnia begins to plague a woman's quality of life.  Ahhh. Quality of Life (QoL).  That is what we are talking about, ladies and gentlemen.

Most women don't really know when they are going through pre-menopause, as the process can take from 1-6 years or longer.  During this time, periods may be missed here and there, and symptoms do not yet include the typical hot flashes, vulvar atrophy, or dysparunia so characteristic of menopause.

Menopause occurs when the ovaries stop functioning, and the menstrual period has stopped for one calendar year.   Women in menopause complain primarly of hot flashes (in Western society), joint pain (in India, Japan, Hawaiian Japanese, Iranians), insomnia, moodiness, irritability, and depression.  Many studies on menopause and QoL exist, and several studies also looked at hormone therapy, finding that hormones had a positive effect on QoL.  So menopause is complete at one year, and Postmenopause begins.

The Postmenopausal period extends for the rest of a woman's life, such that a woman will spend about one third of her life in pre-menopause, menopause, and/or post-menopause.  With 6,000 Baby Boomers entering menopause per day in the USA, it's no wonder that we need to think about menopause, talk about menopause, and consider joining a menopause group.  Women need to help women.


Other Articles by Dr. Margaret Aranda