kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

About 46 percent of the U.S. population used one or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days, according to a survey from the National Center for Health Statistics. With almost half the U.S. population taking drugs, it may be surprising that this figure is a slight improvement from 10 years prior. From 2015-to 2016, prescription drug use increased with age, from 18.0% of children under age 12 years to 85.0% of adults aged 60 and over.

The types of prescription drugs Americans use vary by age group. Medicine used to treat asthma was most common among the youngest participants of the survey. For adolescents, between 12 to 19 years old, stimulants to treat attention deficit disorder were most widely prescribed with about one in 16 adolescents with a prescription. Both young and middle-aged adults used antidepressants the most frequently in the past 30 days. One in nine adults, 20 to 59 years old, has an antidepressants prescription. Older adults, aged 60 and above, had the highest share of drug use at 85 percent. Nearly half of the older population used prescription drugs to combat high cholesterol, while more than one in five use anti-diabetic drugs.

In addition, a survey of 17,000 Medicare beneficiaries conducted in 2007 found that two of every five patients reported taking five or more prescription medications. This same survey also revealed that older patients often have more than one prescribing physician, making it difficult to track the total number and types of medications elders take. At the same time, physiological changes related to aging affect the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion of drugs, as well as food.

With these statistics in mind, it is important to review your prescriptions and consider your diet and supplements.
Are you aware of these drugs interactions?

Warfarin is a blood-thinning medication that helps treat and prevent blood clots. There are certain foods and beverages can make warfarin less effective in preventing blood clots.

One nutrient that can lessen warfarin’s effectiveness is vitamin K. It’s important to be consistent in how much vitamin K you get daily. The adequate intake level of vitamin K for adult men is 120 micrograms (mcg). For adult women, it’s 90 mcg. While eating small amounts of foods that are rich in vitamin K shouldn’t cause a problem, avoid consuming large amounts of certain foods or drinks, including:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Collards
  • Mustard greens
  • Chard
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Green tea

Certain drinks can increase the effect of warfarin, leading to bleeding problems. Avoid or consume only small amounts of these drinks when taking warfarin:

  • Cranberry juice
  • Alcohol

ACE inhibitors deplete zinc and sodium and interact with potassium by increasing levels.  (This is important if you are on potassium – sparing diuretics.)

Beta-blockers deplete Vitamin B12, folic acid, and Coenzyme Q10. Beta-blockers also might increase potassium levels. A chemical in black pepper called piperine increases blood levels of propranolo (brand name Inderal) which could increase the activity and risk of the drug’s side effects.

Antiacids reduce the absorption of sotalol (brand name Betapace). This interaction can be avoided by taking the medications 2 hours apart.

Bile Acid Sequestrants like Colestid and Questran deplete Vitamins A, B12, D, E, K, folic acid, beta-carotene, and iron. These drugs impair normal fat digestion, causing impaired absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, including vitamin K2 which is a vital heart-healthy nutrient. These drugs can also cause GI symptoms, especially constipation. AND, they slow the absorption of other drugs, including beta-blockers, antihypertensives, and antibiotics.

Calcium Channel Blockers deplete potassium. Calcium channel blockers are prescribed for high blood pressure. A natural element found in grapefruit latches onto the intestinal enzyme called CYP3A4, which alters the breakdown of the calcium channel blockers, possibly resulting in excessively high blood levels of the drug, along with an increased risk of serious side effects.

It doesn’t take a huge serving of grapefruit to produce a deleterious effect either. For example, a single 6-ounce glass of juice can reduce levels of CYP3A4 by nearly 50%. This effect dissipates slowly. One study indicated that one third of the impact on CYP3A4 from grapefruit juice was still evident a full 24 hours later.

The interaction between grapefruit and calcium channel blockers is strongest, for example, with felodipine (Plendil), nicardipine (Cardene), and nisoldipine (Sular) and weaker with amlodipine (Norvasc), diltiazem (Cardizem), and nifedipine (Adalat).

Tangelos, a cross between a tangerine and grapefruit-like pomelo and Seville oranges, a bitter citrus fruit used to make marmalades, can have the same deleterious effects as grapefruit on both statins and calcium channel blockers.

There is an interaction with high levels of calcium supplementation that might reverse the blood pressure-lowering actions of some calcium channel blocker drugs. Vitamin D and St. John’s Wort may interfere with the effectiveness of verapamil (brand name Calan). Grapefruit and grapefruit products increase the adverse effects of calcium channel blockers.

Centrally acting anti-hypertensives like Catapres, Duraclon, and Aldomet will deplete Coenzyme Q10. Hyroton and Thaliton will decrease absorption of phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin is a type of winter squash that is native to North America and particularly popular around Thanksgiving and Halloween. In the US, pumpkin typically refers to an orange type of winter squash but in other regions, such as Australia, pumpkin may refer to any type of winter squash.

While commonly viewed as a vegetable, pumpkin is scientifically a fruit, as it contains seeds. That said, it’s nutritionally more similar to vegetables than fruits.

One cup of cooked pumpkin contains:

  • Calories: 49
  • Fat: 0.2 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Carbs: 12 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Vitamin A: 245% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) !!!
  • Vitamin C: 19% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 16% of the RDI
  • Copper: 11% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 11% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B2: 11% of the RDI
  • Vitamin E: 10% of the RDI
  • Iron: 8% of the RDI
  • Small amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folate and several B vitamins.

Besides being packed with vitamins and minerals, pumpkin is also relatively low in calories, as it’s 94% water.

Pumpkins are very high in beta-carotene, a carotenoid that your body turns into vitamin A. Studies show that vitamin A can strengthen your immune system and help fight infections. Conversely, people with a vitamin A deficiency can have a weaker immune system. Research shows that vitamin A deficiency is a very common cause of blindness. Pumpkin is plentiful in nutrients that have been linked to strong eyesight as your body ages. A bonus of eating pumpkin is that studies show that carotenoids like beta-carotene can act as a natural sunblock.

In an analysis of 22 studies, scientists discovered that people with higher intakes of beta-carotene had a significantly lower risk of cataracts.  Pumpkin is also one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, two compounds linked to lower risks of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Additionally, it contains good amounts of vitamins C and E, which function as antioxidants and may prevent free radicals from damaging your eye cells.

Free radicals are molecules produced by your body’s metabolic process. Though highly unstable, they have useful roles, such as destroying harmful bacteria. However, excessive free radicals in your body create a state called oxidative stress, which has been linked to chronic illnesses, including heart disease and cancer.

Pumpkins contain antioxidants other than beta-carotene, such as alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin. These can neutralize free radicals, stopping them from damaging your cells. Test-tube and animal studies have shown that these antioxidants protect skin against sun damage and lower the risk of cancer, eye diseases and other conditions.

Pumpkin is also high in vitamin C, which has been shown to increase white blood cell production, help immune cells work more effectively and make wounds heal faster. Pumpkin is also a good source of iron and folate, all of which have been shown to aid the immune system as well.

Pumpkin is considered a nutrient-dense food. That means it’s incredibly low in calories despite being packed with nutrients. In fact, pumpkin has under 50 calories per cup and consists of about 94% of water. Pumpkin is also a good source of fiber, which can help curb your appetite.

Because pumpkin is high in carotenoids, eating them might also protect against certain cancers. An analysis of 13 studies showed that people with higher intakes of alpha-carotene and beta-carotene had significantly lower risks of stomach cancers. Many other human studies have found that individuals with higher intakes of carotenoids have lower risks of throat, pancreas, breast and other cancers.

It’s high in potassium and studies have shown that people with higher potassium intakes appear to have lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of strokes.

Pumpkins’ antioxidants may protect “bad” LDL cholesterol from oxidizing. When LDL cholesterol particles oxidize, they can clump along the walls of blood vessels, which can restrict your vessels and raise your risk of heart disease.

Pumpkin is very healthy and considered safe for most. However, some people may experience allergies after eating pumpkin.

It’s also considered mildly diuretic, which means eating a lot of pumpkin may induce a “water pill”- like reaction, increasing the amount of water and salt your body expels through urine. This effect may harm people taking certain medicines such as lithium. Diuretics can impair your body’s ability to remove lithium, causing serious side effects.

Although pumpkin is healthy, many pumpkin-based junk foods (such as lattés, candies and pie fillings) are loaded with added sugar. They do not offer the same health benefits as consuming the fruit.

How to Buy

The best pumpkins for cooking are the small pie pumpkins, which have a nicer texture and flavor than the larger ones. Look for pumpkins with firm and smooth orange skin and that feel heavy for their size. Avoid pumpkins with cracks and bruises.

The best pumpkins for Halloween carving and decorating are large but not too heavy. You want a pumpkin with thin walls to make carving easier. Look for pumpkins that have a strong stem and a nice round shape that will stand properly.

How to Store

Whole pumpkins can be kept in a cool, dry place for several months. Once you cut up your fresh pumpkin, store it in the refrigerator and use within five days. Cooked pumpkin can be frozen for up to 10 months.

How to Cook

Pumpkin is very versatile and easy to add to your diet in both sweet and savory dishes. Pumpkin’s sweet flavor makes it a popular ingredient in dishes like custards, pies and pancakes. However, it works just as well in savory dishes such as roasted vegetables, soups and pastas.

Pumpkins have a very tough skin, so it requires some effort to slice. Once you cut it, scoop out the seeds and any stringy parts, then slice the pumpkin into wedges.

Pumpkin is also available pre-cut or canned, giving you flexibility with your recipes and preparation. When buying canned, be sure to read labels carefully, as not all products will be 100% pumpkin and you may want to avoid added ingredients, particularly sugar.

The easiest way to eat pumpkin is to season it with salt and pepper and roast it in the oven.

Pumpkin seeds make a tasty and healthy snack. Wash them to remove any bits of flesh, then spread on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until golden brown and crunchy. Make cooked pumpkin or seeds taste great by using any or a combination of these flavours: allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and cumin.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Bowl

Loveleaf Co.

2 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 frozen banana

  • 1 cup frozen riced cauliflower or 1/2 an avocado

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (plus more if needed)

  • 2/3 cup pure pumpkin puree

  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds or flaxseeds

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 2 dried Medjool dates, pitted

  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

  • big pinch of sea salt

  • toppings of choice (granola – recipe on 4/17 , nuts and seeds, coconut flakes, coconut whipped cream, spirulina)

Instructions

  1. Place all the ingredients except for toppings in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Add more non-dairy milk if needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, to get the blender going being careful not to use too much (you want it to be thick!).

  2. Pour into two bowls and top with desired toppings.

Resources

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