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Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Child And Teen Obesity Soars Tenfold Worldwide In 40 Years: WHO Report

GENEVA (Reuters) – The number of obese children and adolescents worldwide has jumped tenfold in the past 40 years and the rise is accelerating in low- and middle-income countries, especially in Asia, a major study said on Wednesday.

Childhood and teen obesity rates have leveled off in the United States, north-western Europe and other rich countries, but remain “unacceptably high” there, researchers at Imperial College London and the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

“Over 40 years we have gone from about 11 million to a more than tenfold increase to over 120 million obese children and adolescents throughout the world,” lead author Majid Ezzati of Imperial’s School of Public Health, told a news conference.

This means that nearly 8 percent of boys and nearly 6 percent of girls worldwide were obese in 2016, against less than one percent for both sexes in 1975.

An additional 213 million children aged 5-19 were overweight last year, but fell below the threshold for obesity, according to the largest ever study, based on height and weight measurements of 129 million people.

The researchers called for better nutrition at home and at school, and more physical exercise to prevent a generation from becoming adults at greater risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancers due to excessive weight.

Clear food labels on salt, sugar and fat content are needed to help consumers make “healthy choices”, the study said.

Taxation and tough restrictions on marketing of junk food should be considered, it said. WHO has already recommended a 20 percent tax on sugary drinks to reduce consumption.

RAPID TRANSITION

South Africa, Egypt and Mexico which had “very low levels of obesity four decades ago” now have among the high rates of obesity in girls, between 20-25 percent, Ezzati said.

“The experience of east Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean show that the transition from underweight to overweight and obesity can be rapid,” the study said.

If current trends continue, in 2022 there will be more obese children and teenagers worldwide than underweight ones, who now number 192 million, half of them in India, the study said.

Polynesia and Micronesia had the highest rates of child obesity last year, 25.4 percent in girls and 22.4 percent in boys, followed by “the high-income English-speaking region” that includes the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Britain.

Among high-income countries, the United States had “the highest obesity rates for girls and boys”, 19.5 percent and 23.3 percent, respectively.

“Children are not getting physical activity in the school days, there is poor food opportunities in many schools, walking and cycling to school is going down in many countries, unsafe in many other countries, and parents are not being given the right, sufficient advice on nutrition,” said Fiona Bull of WHO’s department of non-communicable diseases.
“It’s the changing environments, food, behaviors, portions, consumption patterns have completely changed over the last 40 years. Highly processed food is more available, more marketed and it’s cheaper,” she said.

 

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay Editing by Jeremy Gaunt     OCTOBER 10, 2017 
source: reuters.com
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The Science Behind Why Breaking A Bad Habit Is So Hard

Engaging the goal-directed side of your brain can help you override the part that controls your bad habits.

Habits are your brain’s version of autopilot. They allow you to get ready for work, navigate your way to the office, and find your way home without having to reinvent the wheel every day. They save time and energy . . . except when they involve grabbing a candy bar from the vending machine every afternoon at 3 p.m. In cases like this, bad habits can feel like a battle of wills.

To find out why some habits can be hard to make or break, researchers from the University of California performed experiments with mice and found that the brain’s circuits for habit- and goal-directed action compete for control in the area of the brain that makes decisions.

“Neurochemicals called endocannabinoids allow for habit to take over by acting as a sort of brake on the goal-directed circuit,” writes Christina Gremel, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of California San Diego who headed up the study that was published in the research journal Neuron.

Endocannabinoids are chemicals that are naturally produced by humans and animals, and receptors are found throughout the body and brain. This system is involved in a variety of physiological processes, such as appetite, pain sensation, mood, and memory.

Earlier studies found that the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is the part of the brain that relays goal-directed information. When researchers increased the output of neurons in the OFC in mice using optogenetics–a technique that involves flashes of light–goal-directed actions also increased. And when they decreased activity in the OFC using chemicals, the mice acted on habit.

A good balance of habitual and goal-directed actions helps with everyday functioning and task management. “We need to be able to make routine actions quickly and efficiently, and habits serve this purpose,” writes Gremel. “However, we also encounter changing circumstances, and need the capacity to ‘break habits’ and perform a goal-directed action based on updated information.”

The brain shifts from habit to goal-directed behavior when we need to drive to a different location, for example. The decision to make or break a habit also relies on goal-directed behavior in the beginning. Healthy mice had no problem shifting from one type to the other, but people with conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and addiction may have a physical problem that inhibits goal-directed action, the study suggests. “It does appear some things we think of as more maladaptive like addiction seem to have a bias toward habit system,” Gremel says. “The goal-directed system is still there, and you can still rescue it. Treatment could be pharmaceutical or might involve behavioral therapy. Further research is needed.”

So what does this mean for that afternoon trip to the vending machine? It’s time to engage the goal-directed side of your brain. If you walk by the vending machine every day on your way back from a meeting, for example, alter your path.

“If you change the context or go about things in a different behavioral pattern, it can help you break out of habit,” says Gremel.

BY STEPHANIE VOZZA        06.20.16


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Smelling green apples and bananas can help you lose weight.

  • Deja Vu occurs when your brain tries to apply a memory of a past situation to your current one, fails, and makes you feel like it’s happened.

 

  • Daydreaming is said to help people focus on what they want in life.

  • Crying is good for your health – Flushing unhealthy bacteria out of your body, strengthening the immune system and relieving stress.

 

~ Happy Friday!~


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Give Yourself More Credit for Doing These Things

Let’s do a roll call: who here has been giving themselves a hard time lately? If this is you, it’s time to cut yourself some slack! You may not realize it, but there are countless things you accomplish every day that are absolutely praiseworthy.

No, really! If we don’t give ourselves credit for the small stuff, how can we feel comfortable patting on ourselves when we accomplish something massive?

The next time you start doubting yourself and your capabilities, reflect on this list as a reminder of all that you do that is right as rain. And give yourself some credit – you really deserve it.

1. Catching Some ZZZs

Getting enough sleep every night is not an easy feat! Whether we’re a working parent of triplets or someone who is struggling with managing their anxiety levels, the fact that we get as many ZZZs as we can is a huge accomplishment.

2. Facing Small Challenges

When is the last time you had a day with absolutely nothing worth worrying about? No deadlines or housework or difficult social interactions to manage? Take as much time as you need… but you’ll probably find that most days contain these minor challenges. The fact that we get through a handful of them each and every day is a bigger deal than you think.

3. Taking a Much-Needed Break

When those minor challenges start to add up and we decide to take a well-deserved break, that is called self-care. It is absolutely essential that we establish boundaries for ourselves and what we can handle – just like how it’s essential we establish the same kinds of boundaries in relationships. Reward yourself for not putting too much on your plate to handle.

4. Being a Good Friend

Did you let a friend use you as a support today? Did you offer a kind word to a loved one having a crummy day? Did you text a funny meme to a friend who needed a pick-me-up? These small signs of affection and caring mean a whole lot to the person on the receiving end.

5. Letting Someone Else be a Good Friend to You

Were you the person who needed that pick-me-up today? Being open to help and support is just as important as offering it to the important people in our lives who need it.

6. Thinking a Positive Thought about Yourself

Disappointment, judgment, and criticism are such powerful factors in our self-talk every day. But, if we are able to find one nugget of positivity in the way we speak to ourselves, consider it a victory. Even if it’s simply “I tried today”, take it as a win. You were nice to yourself when you needed it.

7. Having patience with your growth

Living in such a demanding and busy society can take its toll. We can end up expecting a whole lot more from ourselves than we can reasonably give. It is important to remember this fact when we take the time to reflect on our overall progress with personal goals or development. Consider a person you really admire: did they obtain the traits you love overnight? No! They struggled and stumbled and learned along the way – just like you are doing. It’s all a part of the process.

By: Katie Medlock      October 7, 2017
 
source: www.care2.com


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Boost Bacteria to Bolster Your Brain

How can boosting bacteria in your body improve your brain health? Called the “second brain” by leading scientists, a healthy balance of flora in the gut helps to determine whether you’ll have a great memory and a strong resistance to brain disease.

And what happens in the gut plays a significant role in your brain health.  Restoring beneficial bacteria and some healthy yeasts in your intestines (yes, some yeasts are beneficial, just not the ones that cause yeast infections) can go a long way toward protecting your mental faculties and preventing brain diseases altogether.

Frequently when I tell people about this connection between intestinal and brain health—what is known as the gut-brain axis, they tell me that they are covered because they eat yogurt on a regular basis.  While yogurt may (or may not) help boost intestinal flora depending on whether it contains any live cultures at all, we need to give our guts a lot more than yogurt to help us establish a strong and healthy brain for life.

Let’s explore some of the exciting research into the link between beneficial microbes in our gut and our overall brain health.

Some probiotics actually function as antioxidants within the body, which can not only reduce the effects of free radical damage and aging, it is especially good news in the prevention and treatment of brain diseases.

That’s because the brain is vulnerable to free radical damage. Additionally, research at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) found that consuming certain strains of probiotics could actually produce many brain health benefits, including improved sensory and emotional processing.

Since the brain plays a significant role in whether we suffer from mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, probiotics may also be helpful in addressing these serious health concerns. In animal studies conducted by the Department of Medicine at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and published in the medical journal Gastroenterology, the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum eliminated anxiety and normalized behavior.  It appeared to work by reducing the excitability of the nerves in the gut that connect through the vagus nerve to the central nervous system, and in doing so, eliminated anxiety.

Hungarian researchers found that intestinal inflammation is one of the key factors involved in depression and that treating the inflammation with probiotics (along with B complex vitamins, vitamin D, and omega 3 fatty acids) reduced depressive symptoms.

Additional French research demonstrates the power of boosting specific strains of probiotics to boost mood and psychological health.  They found that healthy study participants experienced reduced psychological stress, depression, anxiety, and anger and hostility, as well as improved problem-solving skills when taking the Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum for 30 days.

While you can still enjoy yogurt if you are already doing so, please keep in mind that the above strains are not typically found in yogurt.  I’m not aware of any yogurt that contains the best brain-boosting strains.

Take a probiotic supplement containing proven strains of brain-boosting probiotics such as  Lactobacillus plantarum, Bifidobacterium longum, and Lactobacillus helveticus on a daily basis.  Store your probiotics in the refrigerator, and take them on an empty stomach. First thing in the morning with a large glass of water tends to work well for most people.

Additionally, kimchi—the national dish of Korea which is typically a fermented mixture of cabbage, chilis, and garlic—frequently contains a much more diverse group of beneficial microbes than yogurt, making it an excellent choice as a brain boosting food. Some types contain fish sauce so if you’re vegan be sure to choose a fish sauce-free option. It is delicious on sandwiches, over brown rice, or as a side-dish to many foods.  Be sure to choose kimchi that hasn’t been pasteurized to ensure the cultures are still intact.

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook           October 5, 2017
source: www.care2.com


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Celiac Disease Goes Undiagnosed In 90% Of Cases, Canadian Researchers Find

Detection complicated by popularity of gluten-free diet among many who don’t have illness

Celiac disease is common but mostly goes undiagnosed, say Canadian nutrition researchers who studied the blood work of nearly 3,000 people.

For those with celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune reaction in the small intestine that, over time, causes signs of damage that can be measured in the blood. Symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, anemia and weight loss can result.

Ahmed El-Sohemy, a professor of nutritional science at the University of Toronto, wanted to see whether celiac disease results in subpar nutrition because of poorer absorption of vitamins and minerals. Iron deficiency, for example, can cause fatigue; too little vitamin C can lead to bleeding gums; and a shortage of calcium and vitamin D can cause brittle bones.

But to find out, he needed Canadian data on the frequency of undiagnosed celiac disease.

To that end, El-Sohemy and his colleagues checked blood samples from more than 2,800 individuals in Toronto. One group had an average age of 23, and the other 45.

Findings consistent with other countries

Their results bore out findings from other countries, showing celiac disease occurs in about one per cent of the population, the researchers said in Friday’s issue of the journal BMJ Open.

However, the vast majority of people who may have the disease don’t even know it.

“The prevalence of it being undiagnosed is incredibly high: 90 per cent,” El-Sohemy said in an interview with CBC News.

This too is consistent with what’s been reported in other countries such as the U.S. and the U.K., the researchers said.

“What I guess was a little bit surprising is just how common [undiagnosis] still remains given that gluten-free started becoming popularized well over a decade ago,” El-Sohemy said.

Info ‘essential’ for health care planning

Celiac disease has a strong genetic component. About 30 per cent of the population has the version of a gene needed to develop celiac disease, but that alone doesn’t mean an individual will develop it, he said.

Estimating the frequency of celiac disease in the Canadian population is important, said Dr. Maria Ines Pinto Sanchez, a physician specialist in gastroenterology and nutrition at McMcaster University’s celiac clinic. She was not involved in the study.

“This [study] will give us an idea of the magnitude of the problem in our country, and is essential for health care planning.”

Studies in the U.S., Europe, Middle East, North Africa and South Asia also suggest about one per cent of people are positive for celiac disease based on blood tests for antibodies.

Gastroenterologists say diagnosing celiac disease can be difficult in part because symptoms such as fatigue are common in many other medical conditions.

There are two antibody tests to measure markers in the blood to evaluate someone for celiac disease.

Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease in which people are unable to fully digest certain proteins from wheat.
The partially digested products that remain trigger inflammation and can damage the lining of the small intestine.
(Health Canada)

“It is very important to highlight that blood samples and biopsies to confirm celiac disease should be tested while the patient is consuming gluten, to prevent false negative results,” Pinto Sanchez and clinic co-director Dr. Premysl Bercik said in an email. “A great proportion of the population is following a gluten-free diet even though celiac disease was not confirmed, which makes the diagnosis difficult.”

A biopsy of the duodenum, the first section of the small intestine, is the gold standard to confirm the diagnosis.

False positives can occur, for instance, in people who have other autoimmune disorders, said Dr. Sheila Crowe, a  Canadian professor of medicine working in the gastroenterology division at the University of California, San Diego.

“We call that latent celiac disease,” Crowe said in an interview. “This study does not differentiate whether they have latent celiac disease or actually have celiac disease.”

Nonetheless, Crowe called the study interesting and important for raising awareness.

Researchers will need to conduct studies in other provinces to clarify whether or not the findings are representative of the whole country.

El-Sohemy also points out that gluten-free foods are more expensive, and in some cases less nutritious, than their gluten-containing counterparts, and he worries that some people are spending money needlessly.

One potential conflict of interest in El-Sohemy’s research is that he is the founder and chief scientific officer of Nutrigenomix Inc., which provides genetic testing for nutritional issues, including gluten intolerance.

The research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

With files from CBC’s Amina Zafar

Oct 06, 2017
source: www.cbc.ca


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5 Delicious Health Benefits Of Pumpkin

The phytonutrients found in pumpkin show a lot of promise when it comes to protecting our noggins.

If you’re like a lot of people, Thanksgiving and Halloween are probably the only times you really give pumpkin a second thought; something to make a pie with and cover it with whipped cream or as a front-porch decoration, carved and lit with a candle. Both a traditional tribute to autumn, but pumpkin is so much more than that!

Rethinking the plump orange fruit

Yup, pumpkin is a fruit, not a vegetable! Pumpkins belong to the family Cucurbitaceae, which includes cucumbers, melons, squash, and gourds. Pumpkin is an extremely nutritious food with lots of health-promoting properties. Going beyond pumpkin pie, there is no shortage of mouth-watering pumpkin recipes, so getting more pumpkin nutrition in your diet is easy, whether it’s in salads, soups, desserts, preserves or baked goods like muffins or quick breads. To make it easier, nothing could be more straightforward than seasoning it with a little butter and cinnamon and baking it like you would a sweet potato.

Pumpkin nutrition. Check it out…

Pumpkin is rich in fibre, iron, vitamin B3/niacin, alpha and beta-carotene, vitamin E, lutein and zeaxanthin, and potassium.

One cup of cooked pumpkin [baked, boiled, and roasted] has an impressive:

  • 52 calories (very low)
  • 3 grams of fibre
  • 13 gm of carbohydrate
  • 1.48 milligrams of iron
  • 595 mg potassium
  • 5.4 mg beta-carotene
  • 7 mg alpha-carotene
  • 2.5 mg lutein & zeaxanthin
  • 2 mg vitamin E

 

No doubt the first food that comes to mind when potassium is mentioned is bananas, thank you banana marketing boards, kudos. But there are loads of other potassium-rich foods out there, not the least of which is pumpkin. The same one-cup measure has a whopping 565 mg of potassium, more than a large banana. Potassium is an under-appreciated mineral; more potassium and less sodium = healthy blood pressure and less cardiovascular disease risk. In fact getting more potassium is more important than lowering sodium intake.

Carotenes are awesome in so many ways too. As a group, they give several plants their respective colours, lycopene is red (tomatoes), lutein is yellow (corn, avocado), and alpha and beta-carotene are orange (pumpkin, mango, peaches, carrots etc).

Carotenoids are anti-cancer and anti-inflammation superstars. They help to reduce the risk for several cancers and the carotenoid lutein helps to reduce the risk for age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause, and one of the most preventable forms, of blindness in those over 50 years of age.

One cup of pumpkin has a boat-load of these awesome carotenoids: 5.4 mg beta-carotene and 7 mg of alpha-carotene and 2.5 mg lutein & zeaxanthin. Take my word for it — that’s a lot.

5 delicious health benefits of pumpkin

Cardiovascular disease: Eating more plant foods has been shown over and over to reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease — high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease — because plant foods provide a plethora of protective compounds like phytonutrients and blood vessel-loving minerals like potassium and magnesium. Get more heart-loving pumpkin with this warming Pumpkin Soup with Almonds and Sage.

Immunity: Plant foods help the immune system stay strong so that it can respond quickly and adequately to fight off invaders like viruses and bacteria. The immune system is even responsible for killing different types of cancer cells as they form, however, to be vigilant, the immune system needs good nutrition to keep it in tip-top shape. Phytonutrients such as beta and alpha-carotene help it do just that. For something different, try this Pumpkin Pie Smoothie for a twist on the classic Thanksgiving dessert.

The phytonutrients found in pumpkin such as alpha & beta-carotene and lutein show a lot of promise when it comes to protecting our noggins.

Eye health: As an antioxidant, beta-carotene appears to protect the lens from oxidation, helping to reduce the risk for cataracts. Lutein, on the other hand, is concentrated at the back of the eye in the macula where it helps to reduce the risk for macular degeneration by filtering out harmful blue light. The more lutein in your diet, the more lutein in the macula and the better protection your eye has. Nourish your eyes with this amazing Pumpkin Lasagna.

Dementia and cognition: Nutrition plays a huge role in the health of the brain. What we eat and drink affects the structure of the brain which, in turn, affects its function and this is no truer than with dementia and cognition. Several nutrients have been shown to nourish the brain and the phytonutrients found in pumpkin such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein show a lot of promise when it comes to protecting our noggins. Loving your brain is easy with this simple Roasted Pumpkin and Garlic side dish (personally, I’d load it up with rosemary as well).

Blood pressure: As mentioned above, higher intake of potassium is crucial for a blood pressure-lowering diet. To be specific, the ratio of potassium to sodium appears to be more important than the amount of sodium in your diet, a ratio that is naturally found in diets that include a lot of plant foods and little processed foods. Because most of us don’t get enough potassium, a focus on getting more plant foods is the best place to start and these Pumpkin Bran Muffins make it easy to do so.

by Doug Cook Integrative & Functional Nutritionist, Registered Dietitian       10/06/2017 

Doug Cook RD, MPH is a registered dietitian and integrative and functional nutritionist. Doug’s practice at the Donvalley Integrative Digestive Clinic focuses on digestive and mental health.He is the coauthor of Nutrition for Canadians for Dummies (Wiley, 2008),The Complete Leaky Gut Health & Diet Book(Robert Rose 2015) and 175 Best Superfood Blender Recipes (Robert Rose, 2017). Learn more by checking out his website www.dougcookrd.com