Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness

1 Comment

The Key to Weight Loss Is Diet Quality, Not Quantity, a New Study Finds

Anyone who has ever been on a diet knows that the standard prescription for weight loss is to reduce the amount of calories you consume.

But a new study, published Tuesday in JAMA, may turn that advice on its head. It found that people who cut back on added sugar, refined grains and highly processed foods while concentrating on eating plenty of vegetables and whole foods — without worrying about counting calories or limiting portion sizes — lost significant amounts of weight over the course of a year.

The strategy worked for people whether they followed diets that were mostly low in fat or mostly low in carbohydrates. And their success did not appear to be influenced by their genetics or their insulin-response to carbohydrates, a finding that casts doubt on the increasingly popular idea that different diets should be recommended to people based on their DNA makeup or on their tolerance for carbs or fat.

The research lends strong support to the notion that diet quality, not quantity, is what helps people lose and manage their weight most easily in the long run. It also suggests that health authorities should shift away from telling the public to obsess over calories and instead encourage Americans to avoid processed foods that are made with refined starches and added sugar, like bagels, white bread, refined flour and sugary snacks and beverages, said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

“This is the road map to reducing the obesity epidemic in the United States,” said Dr. Mozaffarian, who was not involved in the new study. “It’s time for U.S. and other national policies to stop focusing on calories and calorie counting.”

The new research was published in JAMA and led by Christopher D. Gardner, the director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. It was a large and expensive trial, carried out on more than 600 people with $8 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Nutrition Science Initiative and other groups.

Dr. Gardner and his colleagues designed the study to compare how overweight and obese people would fare on low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets. But they also wanted to test the hypothesis — suggested by previous studies — that some people are predisposed to do better on one diet over the other depending on their genetics and their ability to metabolize carbs and fat. A growing number of services have capitalized on this idea by offering people personalized nutrition advice tailored to their genotypes.

The researchers recruited adults from the Bay Area and split them into two diet groups, which were called “healthy” low carb and “healthy” low fat. Members of both groups attended classes with dietitians where they were trained to eat nutrient-dense, minimally processed whole foods, cooked at home whenever possible.

Soft drinks, fruit juice, muffins, white rice and white bread are technically low in fat, for example, but the low-fat group was told to avoid those things and eat foods like brown rice, barley, steel-cut oats, lentils, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, quinoa, fresh fruit and legumes. The low-carb group was trained to choose nutritious foods like olive oil, salmon, avocados, hard cheeses, vegetables, nut butters, nuts and seeds, and grass-fed and pasture-raised animal foods.

The participants were encouraged to meet the federal guidelines for physical activity but did not generally increase their exercise levels, Dr. Gardner said. In classes with the dietitians, most of the time was spent discussing food and behavioral strategies to support their dietary changes.

The new study stands apart from many previous weight-loss trials because it did not set extremely restrictive carbohydrate, fat or caloric limits on people and emphasized that they focus on eating whole or “real” foods — as much as they needed to avoid feeling hungry.

“The unique thing is that we didn’t ever set a number for them to follow,” Dr. Gardner said.

Of course, many dieters regain what they lose, and this study cannot establish whether participants will be able to sustain their new habits. While people on average lost a significant amount of weight in the study, there was also wide variability in both groups. Some people gained weight, and some lost as much as 50 to 60 pounds. Dr. Gardner said that the people who lost the most weight reported that the study had “changed their relationship with food.” They no longer ate in their cars or in front of their television screens, and they were cooking more at home and sitting down to eat dinner with their families, for example.

“We really stressed to both groups again and again that we wanted them to eat high-quality foods,” Dr. Gardner said. “We told them all that we wanted them to minimize added sugar and refined grains and eat more vegetables and whole foods. We said, ‘Don’t go out and buy a low-fat brownie just because it says low fat. And those low-carb chips — don’t buy them, because they’re still chips and that’s gaming the system.’”

In a new study, people who ate lots of vegetables and whole foods
rather than processed ones lost weight without worrying about calories or portion size.

Dr. Gardner said many of the people in the study were surprised — and relieved — that they did not have to restrict or even think about calories.

“A couple weeks into the study people were asking when we were going to tell them how many calories to cut back on,” he said. “And months into the study they said, ‘Thank you! We’ve had to do that so many times in the past.’”

Calorie counting has long been ingrained in the prevailing nutrition and weight loss advice. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, tells people who are trying to lose weight to “write down the foods you eat and the beverages you drink, plus the calories they have, each day,” while making an effort to restrict the amount of calories they eat and increasing the amount of calories they burn through physical activity.

“Weight management is all about balancing the number of calories you take in with the number your body uses or burns off,” the agency says.

Yet the new study found that after one year of focusing on food quality, not calories, the two groups lost substantial amounts of weight. On average, the members of the low-carb group lost just over 13 pounds, while those in the low-fat group lost about 11.7 pounds. Both groups also saw improvements in other health markers, like reductions in their waist sizes, body fat, and blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

The researchers took DNA samples from each subject and analyzed a group of genetic variants that influence fat and carbohydrate metabolism. Ultimately the subjects’ genotypes did not appear to influence their responses to the diets.

The researchers also looked at whether people who secreted higher levels of insulin in response to carbohydrate intake — a barometer of insulin resistance — did better on the low-carb diet. Surprisingly, they did not, Dr. Gardner said, which was somewhat disappointing.

“It would have been sweet to say we have a simple clinical test that will point out whether you’re insulin resistant or not and whether you should eat more or less carbs,” he added.

Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, said the study did not support a “precision medicine” approach to nutrition, but that future studies would be likely to look at many other genetic factors that could be significant. He said the most important message of the study was that a “high quality diet” produced substantial weight loss and that the percentage of calories from fat or carbs did not matter, which is consistent with other studies, including many that show that eating healthy fats and carbs can help prevent heart disease, diabetes and other diseases.

“The bottom line: Diet quality is important for both weight control and long-term well-being,” he said.

Dr. Gardner said it is not that calories don’t matter. After all, both groups ultimately ended up consuming fewer calories on average by the end of the study, even though they were not conscious of it. The point is that they did this by focusing on nutritious whole foods that satisfied their hunger.

“I think one place we go wrong is telling people to figure out how many calories they eat and then telling them to cut back on 500 calories, which makes them miserable,” he said. “We really need to focus on that foundational diet, which is more vegetables, more whole foods, less added sugar and less refined grains.”

By ANAHAD O’CONNOR      FEB. 20, 2018


Whole-Grain, Multigrain, Sourdough: Which Bread Is The Healthiest?

In the quest for healthy eating, bread seems to be a food staple many struggle with.

And with so many choices lining the grocery store shelves, it can be difficult to know the nutritional difference each bread has to offer, and if the choice you are making is actually benefiting you in the way you hope.

Registered dietitian Andy De Santis breaks down each option and reveals which type of bread you should be reaching for if you want maximum health benefits.

Multigrain bread is often made from white flour and includes some added grains.

In order for a bread to be labelled “multigrain,” it must contain at least two different grains that each represent at least two per cent of the total product, De Santis says.

Grains can include barley, oats, wheat and flax, among others.

Multigrain is also low in fat, introduces more fibre into our diet, and includes 26 per cent of the daily recommended intake of manganese, Livestrong reveals. It also provides 12 per cent of your daily selenium intake, which is nutritionally essential for humans, the National Institute of Health says.

This type of bread is made with whole-grain flour.

“Technically speaking, whole-grain flour must include all parts of the original seed (bran, germ, endosperm) and be very minimally refined.

Make sure to look for the term “100 per cent whole-grain” on the label, the Cleveland Clinic warns, or “100 per cent whole wheat.”

Be cautious, however, of terms such as “wheat” and “multigrain” that don’t list a percentage on the package. This, the clinic says, often means the bread is made with partially, or mostly refined, white flour.

Eating whole-grains has been found to reduce inflammation in the body, which can help fight type 2 diabetes, a 2017 study out of the Technical University of Denmark found.

People have also been found to eat less when they consume whole-grains because it causes satiety and can help in weight loss, the same study found.

Any type of bread that is made through fermentation using yeast and lactobacilli (naturally occurring bacteria) is a sourdough bread. That naturally occurring bacteria is what actually gives the bread its taste.

The nutrition found within the bread depends on the type of flour that was used to make it, Healthline explains – wholegrain versus refined.

On average, however, its benefits resemble that of many other breads. But because of the fermentation process, the bread is considered to come with additional benefits.

For example, it makes it easier for your body to absorb the good amount of minerals like potassium, phosphate, magnesium and zinc – four nutrients often hindered by the presence of phytic acid in other breads (which is minimally present in sourdough bread), Healthline says.

Wholemeal is the British version of saying whole wheat, De Santis says.

Whole wheat, however, does not mean whole-grain. In Canada, whole wheat flour has some of the germ and bran removed (which contains nutrients and fibre), he adds.

According to the Telegraph, one slice of wholemeal bread provides about 15 per cent of an adult’s daily recommended fibre intake.

A product that is labelled “rye bread” contains at last 20 per cent rye flour, which may or may not consisted of the whole rye grain, De Santis says.

Eating rye bread can make you feel more full, which is great if you’re looking to lose weight, Livestrong says. It can also help with managing blood sugar.

Low GI
This is not an official designation used on Canadian food packages, De Santis says.

“GI is short for Glycemic index, a measure of how much and how rapidly a given food increases your blood sugar after you eat it,” he says. “Less refined usually means lower GI.”

And the winner is…
According to De Santis, the healthiest option is whole-grain bread.

“Because whole-grains have been very minimally refined and have not had any healthy components of the seed removed, they are the best for us,” he says. “If we look at the scientific research, we understand that those of us who eat whole-grains tend to be at a lower risk of a variety of chronic diseases.”

Whole-grains are high in B vitamins like niacin and thiamin, minerals like zinc and iron, protein and antioxidants like phytic acid and sulfur compounds, Healthline says.

This type of bread can also lower your risk of heart disease between 22 per cent and 47 per cent, depending on the amount you eat, according to several studies. Whole-grains also lowers the risk of stroke and helps with digestion.

Breads to avoid
If you want the maximum health benefit from your bread, stay clear of breads that have had much of the original grain removed during processing, De Santis says.

This includes white bread, which is considered the least useful to us.

“Although they have some nutrients added back after process (i.e. enriched), they are still lower in fibre, nutrients and other healthy compounds that are contained within the whole-grain,” he says.

And despite the negative reputation bread has in general, De Santis says he fails to see a “downside” to any type of bread.

“The only real drawback I can see of eating too much bread is eating too many calories in total – if you happen to be a bread lover – and missing out on the benefits of enjoying other healthy whole-grain foods like oats.”


By Dani-Elle Dubé    National Online Journalist, Smart Living     Global News     January 22, 2018
source: globalnews.ca

1 Comment

Organic Food Provides Significant Environmental Benefits To Plant-Rich Diets

The study of more than 34,000 people is the first to investigate the environmental impacts of both food choices and farm production systems

A study of the diets of 34,000 people confirms that a diet high in fruit and vegetables is better for the planet than one high in animal products. The study also finds that organic food provides significant, additional climate benefits for plant-based diets, but not for diets with only moderate contribution from plant products. This is the first-ever study to look at the environmental impacts of both food choices and farm production systems.

A major new study confirms that a diet high in fruit and vegetables is better for the planet than one high in animal products. The study also finds that organic food provides significant, additional climate benefits for plant-based diets, but not for diets with only moderate contribution from plant products. Published today in open access journal Frontiers in Nutrition, this is the first study to investigate the environmental impacts of both dietary patterns and farm production systems. It is also the first to investigate the environmental impact of organic food consumption using observed diets rather than models.

Many organizations, including the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, advocate the urgent adoption of more sustainable diets at a global level. Such diets include reduced consumption of animal products, which have a higher environmental impact than plant-based products. This is mainly due to the high energy requirements of livestock farming as well as the very large contribution of livestock to greenhouse gas emissions. Intensive livestock production is also responsible for significant biodiversity loss due to conversion of natural habitats to grass and feed crops.

The method of food production may also influence sustainable diets. Organic agriculture is generally considered more environmentally friendly than other modern production techniques. However, while many studies have investigated environmentally sustainable diets, these have rarely considered both dietary choices and the production method of the foods consumed.

“We wanted to provide a more comprehensive picture of how different diets impact the environment,” says Louise Seconda from the French Agence De L’Environnement Et De La Maitrise De L’Energie and the Nutritional Epidemiology Research Unit one of the article’s authors. “In particular, it is of considerable interest to consider the impacts of both plant-based foods and organic foods.”

To do this, researchers obtained information on food intake and organic food consumption from more than 34,000 French adults. They used what’s called a ‘provegetarian’ score to determine preferences for plant-based or animal-based food products. The researchers also conducted production life cycle environmental impact assessments at the farm level against three environmental indicators: greenhouse gas emissions, cumulative energy demand and land occupation.

“Combining consumption and farm production data we found that across the board, diet-related environmental impacts were reduced with a plant-based diet — particularly greenhouse gas emissions,” says Louise Seconda. “The consumption of organic food added even more environmental benefits for a plant-based diet. In contrast, consumption of organic food did not add significant benefits to diets with high contribution from animal products and only moderate contribution from plant products.”

However the researchers caution that the environmental effects of production systems are not uniform and can be impacted by climate, soil types and farm management.

“We didn’t look at other indicators such as pesticide use, leaching and soil quality which are relevant to the environmental impacts of productions systems,” says Louise Seconda. “Therefore future studies could also consider these as well as supply chain and distribution impacts of food production.”

The authors also say it will be important to conduct further studies to confirm these results and to expand our understanding of how the entire food production lifecycle impacts sustainability.

Journal Reference:
Camille Lacour, Louise Seconda, Benjamin Allès, Serge Hercberg, Brigitte Langevin, Philippe Pointereau, Denis Lairon, Julia Baudry, Emmanuelle Kesse-Guyot. Environmental Impacts of Plant-Based Diets: How Does Organic Food Consumption Contribute to Environmental Sustainability? Frontiers in Nutrition, 2018; 5 DOI: 10.3389/fnut.2018.00008



Three Things to Boost Your Immune Health

Are you trying to get through flu season without catching a cold or getting sick? Make sure to follow these three habits as part of your immune boosting care kit:

1. Eat well

Having a well-balanced antioxidant rich diet is the most effective immune-boosting nutrition strategy. Carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats are great to fill up on immune boosting nutrients like vitamin C, D, iron, zinc and magnesium.

Consider adding at least two to three antioxidant rich foods at each meal. These can be citrus fruits, whole grains, nuts/seeds, and dark coloured vegetables such as spinach or peppers.

The body’s immune cells feed on carbohydrates, and with the natural drop in blood sugar that occurs during exercise, having good pre- and post-training nutrition is key to keeping your immune system fuelled. Aim to have a snack before and after your training. If you’re running for longer than an hour, consider having a gel or sport drink.

2. Love friendly bacteria

Friendly bacteria in your gut or “probiotics” have been shown to have a positive effect on immune health. Before heading to buy a probiotic supplement, try to first increase probiotic intake through the diet.

Many foods are naturally high in probiotics such as yogurt, aged cheeses, Kefir, Kombucha, miso, tempeh and kimchi. Aim to have two to three probiotic rich foods per day to populate your gut friendly bacteria.

3. Spice up your diet

Many herbs and spices like ginger, turmeric, mint and cinnamon have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties contributing to a healthy immune system. Aim to include herbs and spices daily, for example add cinnamon to peanut butter toast, smoothie or an oatmeal bowl.

Choose fresh ginger, as it is best consumed uncooked, and grate into soups. Add turmeric to curry stews or make homemade spiced roasted nuts. Try adding fresh mint leaves to your salad or infusing the leaves to make tea.

The list is endless, get creative and spice up your diet.

by Melissa Kazan MSc, RD,  SportMedBC’s registered dietitian and sport nutritionist 
February 4, 2018

Leave a comment

The Childhood Foods That Increase IQ

The more of the foods they consumed, the higher their IQs.

A diet low in sugars, fats and processed foods consumed at a young age may increase your intelligence, research finds.

Children under 3-years-old fed diets that are packed full of nutrients and vitamins have higher IQs.

The more healthily they eat, the higher their IQ.

The study followed the wellbeing and health of 14,000 children born between 1991 and 1992 in the UK.

What they ate was tracked up to the age of 8, when they were given an intelligence test.

The results showed that children who ate a health-conscious diet including more salad, rice, pasta, fish and fruit had higher IQs at age 8.

Those consuming more junk food high in fats and sugars had lower IQs.

The study’s authors conclude that:

“…a poor diet associated with high fat, sugar and processed food content in early childhood may be associated with small reductions in IQ in later childhood, while a healthy diet, associated with high intakes of nutrient rich foods described at about the time of IQ assessment may be associated with small increases in IQ.”

There was little effect on IQ from what children ate between ages 4 and 7.

The authors say:

“This suggests that any cognitive/behavioural effects relating to eating habits in early childhood may well persist into later childhood, despite any subsequent changes (including improvements) to dietary intake.
It is possible that good nutrition during this period [under 3 years-old] may encourage optimal brain growth.”

The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (Northstone et al., 2011).

source: PsyBlog     JANUARY 14, 2018

1 Comment

Mediterranean Diet May Help Protect Older Adults From Becoming Frail

An analysis of published studies indicates that following the Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of frailty in older individuals. The findings, which are published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, suggest that a diet emphasizing primarily plant-based foods — such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts — may help keep people healthy and independent as they age.

Frailty is common among older people and its prevalence is increasing as the population ages. Frail older adults may often feel low in energy and have weight loss and weak muscle strength. They are more likely to suffer from numerous health concerns, including falls, fractures, hospitalization, nursing home placement, disability, dementia, and premature death. Frailty is also associated with a lower quality of life.

Nutrition is thought to play a crucial role in developing frailty, a team led by Kate Walters, PhD and Gotaro Kojima, MD, of University College London, in the UK, looked to see if following a healthy diet might decrease one’s risk of frailty.

The researchers analyzed evidence from all published studies examining associations between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and development of frailty in older individuals. Their analysis included 5789 people in four studies in France, Spain, Italy, and China.

“We found the evidence was very consistent that older people who follow a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of becoming frail,” said Dr. Walters. “People who followed a Mediterranean diet the most were overall less than half as likely to become frail over a nearly four-year period compared with those who followed it the least.”

The investigators noted that the Mediterranean diet may help older individuals maintain muscle strength, activity, weight, and energy levels, according to their findings. “Our study supports the growing body of evidence on the potential health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, in our case for potentially helping older people to stay well as they age,” said Dr. Kojima.

Although older people who followed a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of becoming frail, it’s unclear whether other characteristics of the people who followed this diet may have helped to protect them. “While the studies we included adjusted for many of the major factors that could be associated – for example, their age, gender, social class, smoking, alcohol, how much they exercised, and how many health conditions they had — there may be other factors that were not measured and we could not account for,” said Dr. Walters. “We now need large studies that look at whether increasing how much you follow a Mediterranean diet will reduce your risk of becoming frail.”

Story Source:
Materials provided by Wiley. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.    Date: January 11, 2018

Journal Reference:
Gotaro Kojima, Christina Avgerinou, Steve Iliffe, Kate Walters. Adherence to Mediterranean Diet Reduces Incident Frailty Risk: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/jgs.15251


Leave a comment

7 Signs You May Not Be Getting Enough Potassium

Potassium is a crucial electrolyte that helps your muscles, but if your levels are too low, you could be in trouble. If you match many of these signs, you might want to ask your doctor about a potassium deficiency. Better safe than sorry!

The scoop on potassium

Like calcium or magnesium, potassium is an electrolyte that helps your body function—it’s also one of the nutrients that nutritionists can’t get enough of. Potassium lowers your blood pressure and helps with digestive and muscular function, so keeping these levels steady and knowing when to get tested for a potassium deficiency can keep you out of the hospital.

You have a poor diet

It’s easy to reach for cookies, chips, and comfort snacks, but if your day-to-day diet isn’t balanced, you could end up with a potassium deficiency. “If this is someone not good at eating fruits and vegetables, eating a lot of processed foods, junk foods, they’re at risk for lower potassium levels,” says Manuel Villacorta MS, registered dietitian and founder of Whole Body Reboot in California. Here are some potassium-rich foods to add to your diet instead.

Your muscles feel weak

When you’re low on potassium, you’ll feel it in your muscles because potassium is an electrolyte needed for muscle construction and contraction. “Potassium is an electrolyte needed by your muscles,” says Villacorta. “One of the first symptoms people feel is muscle contraction.”

Your muscles are cramping

Because your muscles need healthy potassium levels, if you dip below a certain point, you could get muscle cramps. “People experience muscle cramps when their potassium is too low,” says Villacorta.

You’re taking diuretics or fluid pills

According to nutritionist Alyse Levine, MS, RD, of Nutritionbite in California, the most common reason for potassium deficiency is prescription water or fluid pills such as diuretics. The pills cause excessive potassium loss of potassium in urine. “Only rarely is low potassium caused by not getting enough potassium in your diet,” says Levine.

Your heart rate is abnormal

Severely low levels of potassium can mess with your heart rate, and even cause arrhythmias if potassium levels dip critically low. Monica Auslander, MS, RD, LD/N, founder of Essence Nutrition in Florida, says that potassium electrolyte imbalances can even be fatal, which is why they’re so important.

You’re dehydrated

Auslander says that electrolyte imbalances like lowered potassium usually only occur with dehydration, eating disorders, or athletes, but they can be helped. “Coconut water is an excellent re-hydrating method for serious sports,” she says, “but honestly, water has been proven to be almost as good.”

You have dry skin or acne

Megan Lyons, health coach and owner of The Lyons’ Share Wellness in Texas, says a potassium deficiency can show up with easy-to-spot symptoms like dry skin, acne, or digestive discomfort. “Of course, these symptoms are indicated in many different conditions, so it’s important to get tested if you suspect you have a potassium deficiency,” says Lyons.

source: www.rd.com