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Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Four Nutrients You Probably Need More Of

Chances are, you need to boost your intake of at least one or two nutrients. Even the most disciplined eaters can be, unknowingly, skipping out on key essentials, which can eventually drain energy and lead to health problems.

According to Health Canada’s Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), conducted in 2004, many people’s diets don’t provide enough vitamins and minerals. (Results from the 2015 CCHS have yet to be released.)

Haphazard eating and an increased reliance on heavily processed foods can undermine your diet.

Certain eating plans can also shortchange your body of nutrients.

A low-carbohydrate diet (e.g., ketogenic, Atkins-style) can deprive you of gut-friendly fibre, vitamin C and folate, a B-vitamin that repairs DNA in cells. Gluten-free diets can lack fibre and folate, too.

Even if you do eat the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals, you might need more. Aging and certain medications can interfere with nutrient absorption.

Sure, you can take a supplement to bridge nutrient gaps. And, in some cases, I recommend that you do.

Adding whole foods to your diet, though, should be your first line of defence. Along with vitamins and minerals, whole foods deliver fibre, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals.

Nutrients to pay attention to

Vitamin A

It’s necessary for normal vision and immune function. Yet, according to Health Canada, more than one-third of Canadians don’t consume enough.

There are two types of vitamin A in foods: retinol, ready for the body to use, and carotenoids, which are converted to vitamin A in the body. Foods high in retinol include beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, tuna, milk and cheese.

It’s carotenoids, though, that many people need more of. In addition to providing vitamin A, research suggests that a higher intake can help guard against heart attack, stroke and certain cancers.

Outstanding sources include sweet potato, carrots, pumpkin, spinach, collards, kale, dandelion greens and cantaloupe. You’ll absorb more carotenoids if you eat your meal with a little fat.

fruits veggies

Vitamin B12

As many as 35 per cent of Canadian adults don’t consume the daily recommended 2.4 mcg of B12, a nutrient needed to make red blood cells, repair DNA and keep our nerves working properly.

B12 is found primarily in animal foods – meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products. Some foods are fortified with B12, including plant-based “milks” (1 mcg per cup) and soy products. Fortified nutritional yeast, sold in natural-food stores, is also high in B12.

If you’re over 50, you might be getting less B12 than you realize. The absorption of B12 from foods relies on an adequate release of stomach acid. As many as 30 per cent of older adults have atrophic gastritis, a condition that reduces the stomach’s ability to release acid.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), drugs used to treat ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease, interfere with B12 absorption by reducing stomach acid. Metformin, a medication that controls blood sugar, also reduces B12 absorption.

Older adults, vegans and people taking PPIs and metformin long-term should take multivitamin or B-complex supplements to ensure they’re meeting daily B12 requirements.

Vitamin C

More than one-third of our diets fall short of vitamin C, used to make collagen, help the immune system work properly and enhance iron absorption from plant foods. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, protecting cells from free radical damage.

The recommended daily intake is 75 mg (women) and 90 mg (men). (Smokers need an extra 35 mg.)
Include at least two vitamin C-rich foods in your daily diet such as red and green bell peppers (152 mg and 95 mg per ½ medium, respectively), oranges (70 mg per 1 medium), kiwifruit (64 mg each), strawberries (98 mg per cup), cantaloupe, broccoli, cauliflower and tomato juice.

To prevent chronic disease, some experts recommend a daily intake of 200 mg, an amount you can get by eating at least 5 daily servings (2.5 cups) of fruits and vegetables.

Magnesium

As many as 4 out of 10 Canadians consume too little magnesium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure, blood sugar and muscle and nerve function. That’s likely because some of the very best sources – pulses, leafy greens, bran cereal – are not everyday foods for many people.

Eating a diet high in magnesium is also tied to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke and colon cancer.

Adults need 310-320 mg (women) and 400-420 mg (men) each day. Excellent sources include oat bran, brown rice, quinoa, spinach, Swiss chard, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, black beans, lentils, tofu and edamame.

People who are likely to take a proton pump inhibitor long-term should take a daily magnesium supplement (200 to 250 mg) in addition to eating magnesium-rich foods.

Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based private practice dietitian, is Director of Food and Nutrition at Medcan.

November 4, 2018      Leslie Beck
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Can Eating Organic Food Lower Your Cancer Risk?

In a study, those who ate more organic produce, dairy, meat and other products had 25 percent fewer cancer diagnoses over all, especially lymphoma and breast cancer.

People who buy organic food are usually convinced it’s better for their health, and they’re willing to pay dearly for it. But until now, evidence of the benefits of eating organic has been lacking.

Now a new French study that followed 70,000 adults, most of them women, for five years has reported that the most frequent consumers of organic food had 25 percent fewer cancers over all than those who never ate organic. Those who ate the most organic fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat and other foods had a particularly steep drop in the incidence of lymphomas, and a significant reduction in postmenopausal breast cancers.

The magnitude of protection surprised the study authors. “We did expect to find a reduction, but the extent of the reduction is quite important,” said Julia Baudry, the study’s lead author and a researcher with the Center of Research in Epidemiology and Statistics Sorbonne Paris Cité of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. She noted the study does not prove an organic diet causes a reduction in cancers, but strongly suggests “that an organic-based diet could contribute to reducing cancer risk.”

The study, published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, was paid for entirely by public and government funds.

Nutrition experts from Harvard who wrote a commentary accompanying the study expressed caution, however, criticizing the researchers’ failure to test pesticide residue levels in participants in order to validate exposure levels. They called for more long-term government-funded studies to confirm the results.

“From a practical point of view, the results are still preliminary, and not sufficient to change dietary recommendations about cancer prevention,” said Dr. Frank B. Hu, one of the authors of the commentary and the chairman of the department of nutrition at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

He said it was more important for Americans to simply eat more fruits and vegetables, whether the produce is organic or not, if they want to prevent cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends consuming a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains instead of refined grains and limited amounts of red meat, processed meat and added sugars.

Dr. Hu called for government bodies like the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Agriculture to fund research to evaluate the effects of an organic diet, saying there is “strong enough scientific rationale, and a high need from the public health point of view.”

The only other large study that has asked participants about organic food consumption with reference to cancer was a large British study from 2014. While it found a significantly lower risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma among women who said they usually or always ate organic food, it also found a higher rate of breast cancers in the organic consumers — and no overall reduction in cancer risk.

The authors of that study, known as the Million Women study, said at the time that wealthier, more educated women in the study, who were more likely to purchase organic food, also had risk factors that increase the likelihood of having breast cancer, such as having fewer children and higher alcohol consumption.

foods to buy organic

The organic food market has been growing in recent years, both in Europe and the United States. Sales of organic food increased to $45.2 billion last year in the United States, according to the Organic Trade Association’s 2018 survey.

For food to be certified organic by the Department of Agriculture, produce must be grown without the use of most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and may not contain genetically modified organisms. Meat must be produced by raising animals fed organic food without the use of hormones or antibiotics. Such items now represent 5.5 percent of all food sold in retail outlets, according to the organic trade group.

A representative of the Alliance for Food and Farming, a group that seeks to address public concerns about pesticides, said consumers should not worry about cancer risks from consuming conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables. “Decades of peer-reviewed nutritional studies largely conducted using conventionally grown produce have shown that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables prevents diseases, like cancer, and leads to a longer life,” executive director Teresa Thorne said in an emailed statement.

For the study, researchers recruited 68,946 volunteers who were 44, on average, when the study began. The vast majority, 78 percent, were women.

Participants provided detailed information about how frequently they consumed 16 different types of organic foods. The researchers asked about a wide range of foods, including fruits, vegetables, dairy and soy products, meat, fish and eggs, as well as grains and legumes, bread and cereals, flour, oils and condiments, wine, coffee and teas, biscuits and chocolate and sugar, and even dietary supplements. Study volunteers provided three 24-hour records of their intake, including portion sizes, over a two-week period.

The information was far more detailed than that provided by participants in the British Million Women study, who responded to only a single question about how often they ate organic.

Participants in the French study also provided information about their general health status, their occupation, education, income and other details, like whether they smoked. Since people who eat organic food tend to be health-conscious and may benefit from other healthful behaviors, and also tend to have higher incomes and more years of education than those who don’t eat organic, the researchers made adjustments to account for differences in these characteristics, as well as such factors as physical activity, smoking, use of alcohol, a family history of cancer and weight.

Even after these adjustments, the most frequent consumers of organic food had 76 percent fewer lymphomas, with 86 percent fewer non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, and a 34 percent reduction in breast cancers that develop after menopause.

The reductions in lymphomas may not be all that surprising. Epidemiological studies have consistently found a higher incidence of some lymphomas among people like farmers and farm workers who are exposed to certain pesticides through their work.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified three pesticides commonly used in farming — glyphosate, malathion and diazinon — as probable human carcinogens, and linked all three to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

One reason an organic diet may reduce breast cancer risk is because many pesticides are endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogen function, and hormones play a causal role in breast cancer.

By Roni Caryn Rabin     Oct. 23, 2018
 


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Fruit and Vegetables With The Most Water Content

Vegetables With The Most Water Content

Although most of our bodies are made of water, we still need a lot of it to survive on a daily basis. You probably have heard the story that you have to drink eight glasses (or more) of water per day in order to stay hydrated.

This is partly true if you do not take water in any other forms. In fact, 20% of your daily water intake comes from solid food, mostly fruits and vegetables. That’s why you should “eat your water” instead. Water maintains homeostasis in our bodies and it is of utmost importance that we stay hydrated.

Water deficiency is called dehydration and can cause serious headaches, confusion, appetite loss, excessive tiredness and even seizures. It is also bad for you to consume water in excess. You might experience nausea, vomiting, or muscle cramps.

The U.S. Reference Dietary Intake (RDI) of water is 3.7 liters (15.6 cups) daily for men and 2.7 liters (11.4 cups) for women. In the summer or in some extreme cases, these numbers are higher. Vegetables are an excellent source of water in every season and they often contain more than 90% water. Quench your thirst with these vegetables:

Cucumber 
Water content: 96.7%

Cucumber is many people’s summer favorite veggie. It contains the most water of any solid food and you may use it sliced in salads or with hummus. There are also many recipes on how to get hydrated with cucumber. You can try to blend it with mint, nonfat yogurt, and ice cubes to get a good chilled soup for the hot summer days, or at any time of the year.

Iceberg lettuce
Water content: 95.6%

Although not so popular among health experts, this vegetable is full of water. It is not a favorite one because of other green vegetables such as romaine lettuce or spinach, which contain a lot more fiber than iceberg lettuce. However, if you want to get hydrated, this crispy lettuce is the best choice because of the high amount of water. You can use it for making sandwiches, as a tacos wrap, or in burgers.

Celery 
Water content: 95.4%

You must have heard the popular saying that celery has negative calories, but let’s see what you are up for with this vegetable. It is a fact that celery comes with only 6 calories in one stalk and it is also full of fiber. In terms of its nutritional value, it contains folate as well as many vitamins, including A, C, and K. Celery can help in neutralizing stomach acid and relieve heartburn or reflux.

Radishes 
Water content: 95.3%

If you are a fan of a mixture of spicy and sweet taste in your spring and summer salads, radishes can brighten up your day and give you a new colorful meal. These vegetables are full of antioxidants including catechin (which can also be found in green tea). If you would like a crunchy hydration recipe, mix radishes with summer coleslaw, slicing them up with cabbage and carrots, sliced snow peas, and chopped parsley and hazelnuts. Then use poppy seeds, olive oil, lemon juice and add salt and pepper. Enjoy this beautiful mixture!

Tomatoes 
Water content: 94.5%

These vegetables are mostly used for making salads and sandwiches, but it is important to use all of the varieties, including sweet cherry and grape ones, which will help you in the hydration process. You can also mix them with nuts as a snack or some cheese low in sodium. One idea of a recipe is the following: skewer some grape tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil leaves on toothpicks as appetizers or snacks.

Green peppers 
Water content: 93.3%

These types of bell peppers have the highest amount of water and contain many antioxidants as the other types of peppers, such as the red and sweet ones. Peppers are great to use as a snack when you have a craving, instead of falling for something sweet and unhealthy. Plus, you will get hydrated and feel refreshed.

Cauliflower
Water content: 92.1%

This white flower-looking vegetable is full of vitamins and phytonutrients that help in fighting cancer, including breast cancer, and lowering cholesterol. Cauliflower is best used in your favorite salad, in order to make it crunchy and get hydrated.

Spinach 
Water content: 91.4%

Spinach is both green and full of water – a really healthy treat for your body. You can put it in your sandwiches or salads and enjoy its taste. Spinach is not only hydrating but also rich in lutein, fiber, potassium, and brain-boosting folate. One cup raw leaves of spinach can satisfy your daily intake of vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals (damaging molecules).

 

fruit vegetables

 

Fruits with Highest Water Content

Water is as important as oxygen to lead a healthy life. Your body cannot function properly without enough water, which comprises 60 percent of your body weight. Water plays many crucial roles in the body, from detoxification to absorption of nutrients.

Health experts recommend drinking water throughout the day to keep the body hydrated. However, water is not the only way to keep the body hydrated.

Eating more water-rich fruits has other health benefits, too. Such fruits are low in calories and help with weight loss. They are rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and fiber that are important for good health. Water-rich fruits also help flush waste and toxins out of the body.

Aim to eat water-rich fruits with about 85 percent or higher water content. You can eat the fruits raw, or make smoothies or juices.

Eat 2 cups of fruits per day to provide your body with fluids.

Watermelon
Water content: 92%

Watermelon is one of the most water-rich fruits you can eat. It contains essential rehydration salts – calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium – that help keep the body hydrated and largely reduce the chance of dehydration.

According to a 2009 study by University of Aberdeen Medical School researchers, watermelon helps hydrate the body twice as effectively as a glass of water after an intense workout.

In addition, watermelon is a good source of vitamins A and C, beta-carotene and lycopene, which keep your body fit and healthy. Lycopene also protects the body from ultraviolet (UV) light.

You can eat watermelon as it is, or add it to your fruit salads and smoothies. You can even keep a water pitcher in the refrigerator with watermelon cubes in the bottom.

Strawberries
Water content: 92%

All berries are good foods for hydration, but strawberries are the best with 92 percent water. They also contain vitamin C, potassium, fiber and folic acid. The fiber in strawberries has a satiating effect, keeping you feeling full so you do not indulge in unnecessary snacking.

In addition, these berries are a sodium-free, fat-free, cholesterol-free, low-calorie food. Strawberries offer a wide range of health benefits, from anti-aging effects to supporting cardiovascular health.

Adults as well as children like their sweet, slightly tart flavor. Eat a handful of ripe strawberries daily as a healthy snack. You can also blend a few strawberries in your favorite smoothie.

In addition to strawberries, cranberries, blueberries and raspberries also have a high water content.

Grapefruit
Water content: 91%

This juicy, tangy fruit is also one of the most hydrating fruits with 91 percent water content. Grapefruit also contains important electrolytes that help prevent dehydration.

It is high in soluble fiber and vitamin C, and contains smaller amounts of vitamins A, B-complex, E and K. It also has calcium, folate, phosphorus, potassium and several phytonutrients.

Regular intake of grapefruit can lower your insulin level, help control your appetite, protect against the common cold, aid in weight loss, make your skin beautiful and lots more.

Try eating half a grapefruit at breakfast or drink a glass of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice daily.

Note: This fruit may interact with certain medications like blood pressure medications and may not be suitable for women with hormone sensitive conditions.

Cantaloupe
Water content: 90%

Cantaloupe, also known as muskmelon or mush melon, is another high water content fruit with 90 percent water.

Cantaloupe also contains potassium, an important electrolyte that can be lost during sweating and cause dehydration. Other vital nutrients found in cantaloupe are vitamins A, C and K, protein, fiber, folate, calcium and iron.

Regular intake of cantaloupe reduces the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, while promoting healthy skin and hair. It also provides protection against a range of diseases and conditions from the common cold to cancer.

You can add some ice to fresh-squeezed cantaloupe juice for a refreshing drink in the summer. You can also use cantaloupe to make delicious cold soup or tasty smoothies.

Peaches
Water content: 88%

Peaches contain about 88 percent water content, making them a great solution to beat dehydration. Fresh peaches are juicy and taste great. They are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and various other chemical contents.

Peaches contain vitamins A, C and K as well as fiber, potassium, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese.

At the same time, they are low in calories and contain no saturated fats. Peaches help fight obesity and prevent related diseases like diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.

You can muddle ripe peaches into your glass of lemonade, iced tea or water to make a refreshing drink. Another option is to add sliced peaches to your oatmeal, yogurt and cold cereals.

Pineapple
Water content: 87%

Pineapple is another fruit with high water content. It has 87 percent water. It is a powerhouse of nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, thiamin, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, folate and fiber.

Pineapple also contains a proteolytic enzyme called bromelain that has many health benefits. Additionally, it is low in sodium and fat.

This fruit is both juicy and fleshy that helps keep your body hydrated and cleanses your body to get rid of harmful toxins. Moreover, pineapple boosts your immune system, improves digestion, promotes eye health and makes your bones strong.

You can have fresh pineapple juice or make yummy pineapple popsicles during the hot summer. You can also enjoy it as a fruit snack or add it to fruit salad, stir-fry and soups.

 


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Top 10 Immune-Boosting Foods

Keeping your immune system strong and healthy
is one of the essential keys to great health.
Fortunately, doing so is easier than you think.

The immune system is a complex system of organs, cells and proteins that work together to help protect us against foreign invaders, including: viruses, bacteria, fungi and other foreign substances we may come into contact with. We rarely give it a second thought until we’re burning up with a fever or fighting some form of serious infection.

There are many ways to keep your immune system strong and healthy, including:

  • Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke
  • Don’t drink alcohol
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting sufficient sleep
  • Reducing stress as much as possible
  • Washing hands regularly and thoroughly
  • Thoroughly cooking any meat, fish, or poultry in your diet
  • Eating a diet rich in immune-boosting fruits and vegetables

BEST IMMUNE-BOOSTING FOODS

Most fruits and vegetables, as well as other plant-based foods, boost the immune system, but some are better at it than others. Some of the best immune-boosting foods include:

Beets

Rich in the immune-boosting mineral, zinc, beets along with their leafy greens, are a great addition to your diet. Beets are also a rich source of prebiotics, the foods eaten by probiotics, or beneficial microbes, in your intestines. By eating more beets you’ll feed the healthy bacteria and other beneficial microbes that give your gut and immune health a boost. Add them to fresh juice, grate and add to salads and sandwiches, or roast and enjoy on their own.

Blueberries

Blueberries don’t just taste amazing, they are packed with nutrients known as flavonoids that give them their gorgeous color and delicious taste. Research in the journal Advances in Nutrition shows that flavonoids boost the immune system. Eat fresh blueberries on their own or atop salads or added to smoothies. Frozen blueberries that have been slightly thawed taste like blueberry sorbet and make a delicious dessert.

Blueberries

 

Citrus Fruits

Grapefruit, lemons, limes, oranges and other citrus fruit are excellent sources of immune-boosting vitamin C, making them excellent choices to include in your daily diet. Juice them or add them to salads or salad dressings, or in the case of grapefruit and oranges, eat them on their own as a quick snack.

Flaxseeds and Flaxseed Oil

Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil contain plentiful amounts of the essential fatty acids known as Omega 3s that give your immune system a boost and help to keep it functioning well on a regular basis. Add flaxseeds or oil to your smoothie or top previously-cooked vegetables with a splash of flax oil and sea salt.

Garlic

Rich in immune-boosting allicin, garlic helps to stave off colds and flu by giving our immune system a boost. Cooking reduces the potency of garlic but both cooked and raw garlic are still worth eating on a daily basis. Add some garlic to your soups, stews, chili and, of course, combined with chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, olive oil and a touch of salt for a delicious hummus.

Kefir

A beverage similar to yogurt but thinner, kefir comes from the Turkish word “keif” which means “good feeling” probably because let’s face it: we feel better when we’re not sick. Kefir offers immune-boosting health benefits due to its many different strains of beneficial bacteria and yeasts. Make sure the one you choose contains “live cultures.”

Kimchi

The national dish of Korea, kimchi is a spicy condiment that has been found in research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food to offer immune-boosting benefits.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds contain plentiful amounts of the immune-boosting fats known as Omega 3s, along with the essential immune health mineral, zinc, making them an excellent choice to include in your diet. Throw them on top of your salads, grind them and add them to flour for baking, or snack on them as is.

Walnuts

Raw, unsalted walnuts are rich sources of immune-boosting Omega 3 fatty acids. If you don’t like the taste of walnuts, I urge you to try ones that are raw, unsalted and kept in the refrigerator section of your health food store since they are typically fresher than the ones found in packages in the center aisles of the grocery store. The bitter taste most people attribute to walnuts is actually a sign they have gone rancid. Fresh walnuts have a buttery and delicious taste.

Yogurt

Yogurt and vegan yogurt contain beneficial bacteria that boost your gut health, which in turn, boost your immune system health. Make sure the yogurt you select contains “live cultures.”

 

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook            August 1, 2018

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News, the Cultured Cook, co-founder of BestPlaceinCanada, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, & Cooking.  Follow her on Twitter.

source: www.care2.com


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11 Sneaky Things Other Than Food & Exercise That May Affect Your Weight

And how to make them work in your favor

The great recession

What do economics have to do with health? At most universities they’re not even in the same building! But it turns out that a dip in the economy can lead to a rise in our weight according to a study done by John Hopkins. Researchers found that from 2008 to 2012—the period known as the great recession—weight gain was strongly correlated with the rise in unemployment, increasing the risk of obesity by 21 percent. This makes sense as one of the first things to go when our budgets get tight are luxuries like health food and gym memberships, not to mention the loss of health insurance that often accompanies a job loss. However, it may help to remember that there are many low-cost or free ways to protect your health—and an investment in you is the best one you can make.

How high you are

No we’re not talking about the wave of pot legalization sweeping the country (although that probably would affect your weight too) but rather how high up you live. There’s a reason that Colorado is the both the slimmest and the steepest state in the nation. The altitude at which you live is strongly correlated with your weight, with each gain in altitude corresponding with a drop in weight, according to a study done by the U.S. Air Force. But don’t sell your beach-front property and head for the hills just yet—the effect can be balanced out by other factors known to prevent against obesity where you live, like outdoor greenery, strong social ties, and opportunities to go outside. Case in point: Hawaii is the third thinnest state in America, and it’s the definition of sea level.

 

It’s a generation thing

Ever wondered why your grandma never exercised a day in her life and yet wore a tiny wedding dress that you could never hope to fit into even though you run marathons? Some of it may be due to the difference in generations you were both born into. Bad news for young ‘uns: Millennials, Gen Y, and Gen X all need to eat less and exercise more to stave off obesity than their forefathers did, according to a study from York University. And it’s not just the fact that we have Netflix and take out at our fingertips. Rather, the researchers found that the average metabolism of both men and women has slowed, even after controlling for factors like disease, diet, and fitness. Why? We have no solid answers yet but in the meantime, if you’re under 40 at least you can take comfort that you’re not alone in your struggle.

That cursed smog

The effects of environmental pollutants go far beyond wheezing and sneezing. Rats exposed to highly polluted air were not only much more likely to become obese, according to a study done by Duke University, but also had a greater risk of heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. And it’s not just limited to rodents. People who live close to roadways with a high level of air pollution are also more likely to gain weight, says a study from the University of Southern California. Unfortunately air pollution is likely not under your direct control but we can all work together to lobby for and implement clean-air policies where we live, making for both a healthier physical and celestial body.

Your thermostat

Our delightfully warm and cozy homes and offices might be partly responsible for our less-delightful expanding waistlines, say researchers in a study published in the journal Cell. The scientists found that regular exposure to mildly cold weather—as would have been normal in the days before programmable thermostats—helps the human body regulate a healthy weight. The chilly air seems to increase metabolism by making the body work harder to cope with the changing conditions. Some proponents of “cold therapy” take daily ice baths or “shiver walks” but you don’t have to be that extreme to see results, say the researchers. Just lowering your thermostat by a few degrees or turning the shower briefly to cold can help.
scale

How many antibiotics you’ve taken

Antibiotics are one of the biggest miracles of modern medicine, no doubt about it. But those infection-fighting drugs may have unintended consequences. The more antibiotics a person takes during their lifetime, particularly during early childhood, the greater their risk of becoming obese, according to an NYU study. Researchers speculate that it has to do with killing healthy gut bacteria, decimating your microbiome along with the bad bugs, as good bacteria has been shown to help prevent weight gain. But if you were the kid with chronic ear infections, don’t fret, you can rebuild your good gut bacteria by taking a probiotic and eating plenty of fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi.

Fido and Fifi

Owning a pet, particularly a dog, slashes the human companion’s risk of obesity, says the American Heart Association. Why? Dogs need to be walked daily and are often quite persistent, encouraging their owners to walk as well. But it’s not just the extra exercise, especially since 40 percent of dog owners confess to not walking their dog on a regular basis. The researchers add that petting an animal greatly reduces stress and depression, two other known risk factors for weight gain. So if you do have a dog, make sure to walk them daily, and in the meantime soak up all the snuggles, wet kisses, and purrs you can.

The number on your paycheck

Income is one of the biggest factors correlated with obesity, with poor Americans being three times more likely to be obese than richer ones, according to a study published in Nutrition Reviews. Low-income people are less likely to have access to supermarkets with fresh foods (often living in “food deserts”), less likely to have health insurance, and less likely to live in neighborhoods where exercise outdoors is encouraged or even safe. Fortunately this is one area we can all help improve by working to better conditions in our own neighborhoods or helping out others nearby.

Pesticides

Pesticides may help us grow stronger and more plentiful crops but many of the chemicals used in popular formulations are known “endocrine disruptors”: They interfere with your body’s metabolic systems. Pesticides hijack our metabolism by mimicking, blocking, or otherwise interfering with the body’s natural hormones, according to a report issued by The Endocrine Society. Regular exposure to pesticides through food was correlated with an increase risk of both obesity and diabetes. Buying all organic may be one solution but for many people that doesn’t fit in the budget. If money’s tight you can also decrease your pesticide load by avoiding, or only buying organic of, the “dirty dozen“, the most contaminated produce. Or you can always try growing some of your own fruits and vegetables. (Bonus: Gardening is great exercise!)

How many trees you can count from your window

Close proximity to parks, trails, and other types of green spaces is linked with lower body weight, according to research done by the American Diabetes Association. Being able to see, and more importantly walk to, greenery encouraged people to exercise more and made it feel, well, less like exercise. Parks make physical exertion feel like fun but even if you’re not using them to exercise, simply being in the presence of nature has been shown to reduce stress, lower weight and improve your health overall. The vast majority of Americans already live within walking distance of some type of park so get out there and explore your neighborhood.

All that stuff on the food label you don’t recognize

You already know that processed foods do no favors for your waistline but it turns out it’s not just the empty calories and trans fats doing the damage. Some of the most popular food additives are linked with weight gain and obesity, according to a study done by Georgia State University. Emulsifiers, which are added to most processed foods for texture and to extend shelf life, are one of the worst offenders as they interfere with good gut bacteria. But some artificial flavorings, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and even the food packaging have also been linked in research to obesity.

Charlotte Hilton Andersen  
source: www.rd.com


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An Egg A Day Might Reduce Your Risk Of Heart Disease, Study Says

Eating an egg a day may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, a study of more than 400,000 adults in China suggests.

Daily egg eaters had an 18% lower risk of heardying from cardiovascular disease, which manifests as heart attacks and strokes, compared with adults who avoided eggs, according to the research published Monday in the journal Heart.

Commonly called heart disease, cardiovascular disease includes heart failure, arrhythmias and heart valve problems in addition to strokes and attacks. Raised blood pressure, carrying too much weight or obesity, and elevated blood sugar all contribute to the risk of cardiovascular disease, which is triggered by unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, smoking and harmful use of alcohol.

‘Controversial’ nutrition source

In the past, doctors sometimes warned patients to avoid eating too many eggs.

Though eggs contain high-quality protein and other positive nutritional components, they also have high amounts of cholesterol, which was thought might be harmful, explained Canqing Yu, a co-author of the study and an associate professor in the Peking University School of Public Health in Beijing.

Yet “existing studies on the association between egg and cardiovascular diseases are controversial due to small sample size and limited information,” Yu wrote in an email. Past studies have provided only limited evidence from the Chinese population, “which have huge differences in dietary habits, lifestyle behaviors and diseases patterns,” Yu said.

These are among the reasons why he and his colleagues decided to investigate the relationship between eating eggs and cardiovascular disease.

To begin, they used information from an ongoing study of half a million adults living in 10 regions of China. They concentrated on 416,213 participants who’d never been diagnosed with cancer, cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

Slightly more than 13% of these adults, ranging in age from 30 to 79, said they ate about an egg a day while just over 9% reported never or very rarely enjoying an egg. Nearly all the participants ate chicken, not duck, eggs, Yu noted.

Over nearly nine years, the research team tracked this select group. They focused on major coronary events, such as heart attacks and strokes, including hemorrhagic strokes – when a blood vessel bursts in the brain due, usually, to uncontrolled high blood pressure – and ischemic strokes – when a blood vessel feeding the brain becomes blocked, usually by a blood clot.

“Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of deaths in China, which accounted for half of the total mortality,” Yu said. “Stroke, including hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke, is the first cause of premature death, followed by ischemic heart disease.”

egg

During follow-up, 9,985 people died of cardiovascular disease, and an additional 5,103 major coronary events occurred. Nearly 84,000 other participants were diagnosed with heart disease in this time period.

Analyzing the data, the researchers found that eating about an egg a day related to a lower risk of heart disease compared with not eating eggs.

In fact, participants who ate up to one egg daily had a 26% lower risk of hemorrhagic stroke, which is more common in China than in the United States or other high-income countries. Additionally, the egg eaters had a 28% lower risk of dying from this type of stroke.

Finally, egg eaters also enjoyed a 12% reduced risk of ischemic heart disease, which is diagnosed in those who show the early signs of gridlocked blood flow to the brain.

Based on the results, Yu said, eating eggs in moderation – less than one a day – is associated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases, especially hemorrhagic stroke. Even more, the new research is “by far the most powerful project to detect such an effect,” he said.

On the downside, the research team collected only “crude information” about egg consumption from participants, and this prevented them from estimating effects “more precisely,” Yu said. “We should [also] be cautious when interpreting our results in a context of different dietary and lifestyle characteristics from China.”

Part of a healthy diet

Caroline Richard, an assistant professor of agricultural life and environmental sciences at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, said the new study is simply observational and so cannot show a direct cause and effect between eating eggs and risk of heart disease.

“Saying that, this is a very large study, and that in itself is a strength, and the researchers have done the best possible job to control for other factors,” said Richard, who was not involved in the research.
Her own systematic review of studies showed that when participants are provided with between six and 12 eggs a week, no change occurs in major cardiovascular risk factors, including higher rates of blood sugar, inflammation and cholesterol.

“Several studies in our review observed a positive effect of egg consumption on HDL cholesterol,” or “good” cholesterol, she added.

The new study, then, “delivers a similar message” that “egg consumption does not increase the risk of developing a cardiovascular disease,” Richard said.

Some studies have suggested that consuming eggs increases the risk of diabetes, she said.

“In this study however, they didn’t assess the risk of developing diabetes, which may be because diabetes is a newer disease in the Chinese population and there is not good documentation of who has it,” Richard said. Still, she noted, “this will be very important data for helping develop dietary prevention guidelines in China.”

Cardiovascular disease, which takes the lives of 17.7 million people every year, is the leading cause of death and disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Cardiovascular disease causes nearly a third – 31% – of all global deaths each year.

“Overall, I would say that consuming egg as part of a healthy diet does not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, and we now have another carefully done study to support that,” Richard said.

 
By Susan Scutti, CNN      Mon May 21, 2018
 
source: www.cnn.com


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The Numbers That Matter Most for Staying Healthy

Health often seems like a numbers game. What’s your blood-sugar level? How many calories are you eating? And are you getting the right percentage of macros (or macronutrients)? The problem is that sometimes we track, count and obsess over numbers that don’t matter very much for our overall health. Or worse, we ignore numbers that do matter.

I was curious about which numbers my fellow dietitians consider the most important. I sought feedback from 20 experts who work in either hospitals or private practice. Here are the data that have the most clinical importance, and the ones they tell their patients to ignore.

The numbers that matter most:

Half your plate. Instead of counting every calorie, dietitians recommend that clients simplify food decisions by using a plate model, where you choose the right proportions of each food. That means filling half your plate with vegetables and some fruit; one quarter with protein-rich foods such as fish, poultry or beans; and the final quarter with whole grains such as quinoa or brown rice. The Healthy Eating Plate from Harvard University is a great example of a plate model.

25 to 35 grams. That’s how much fibre a day we need for optimal health, but most Americans get just 16 grams per day. Getting enough fibre helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, prevents certain cancers, eases constipation and keeps you feeling full for longer, which is helpful for weight management. Get more fibre from vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains (or just follow the healthy-plate model, mentioned above).

7 to 8 hours. Are you getting that much sleep every night? Lack of sleep has short-term consequences, such as poor judgment, increased risk of accidents, bad moods and less ability to retain information. Poor sleep over the long term has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. So, turn off the TV, power down your devices and get the rest your body needs.

150 minutes. That’s the recommendation for how much physical activity (equivalent to 2.5 hours) you should get each week, preferably spread through the week in increments of at least 10 minutes. This level of activity helps combat heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, dementia and cancer.

100 mg/dl. Your doctor can test your fasting plasma glucose level to check for Type 2 diabetes (a normal reading is less than 100 mg/dl). Often called a “lifestyle” disease, Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable by eating well and getting enough exercise. If you have diabetes, lifestyle changes can actually help you reverse the diagnosis — but first you need to know your number. A diagnosis of prediabetes is 100 to 125 mg/dl., and a diagnosis of diabetes is 126 mg/dl. or higher.

120/80 mmHg. High blood pressure is known as the silent killer because it often has no obvious symptoms. Left untreated, high blood pressure is a risk factor for having a heart attack or a stroke. That’s why you need to get your blood pressure checked and know whether you are at risk. Normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg (millimetres of mercury) or less. Elevated blood pressure is 121 to 129 over 80. High blood pressure is 130 to 139 over 80 to 89.

fat skinny health

The numbers that don’t matter very much:

Size 8. Too many people have a diet goal to be a specific size, but the numbers on clothes are inconsistent and arbitrary. A size 4 at one store may fit like a size 8 at a different store, which makes shopping frustrating — and makes your pant or shirt size a very poor measure of your health. If you don’t like the number on your pants, cut the label out. Focus on how you feel, not the number on the clothing tag.

50 years old. Or 86. Or 31, 75 or 27. Age is just a number. You are never too young to need to take care of yourself, or too old to start an exercise program or change what you eat. A healthy lifestyle is important at every age.

1,800 calories. Or whatever number you choose. You don’t need to count every calorie you eat — it’s tedious, often flawed, and it doesn’t help you choose nutrient-dense foods. If you had the choice between 100 calories of broccoli or fries, you’d probably choose the fries, right? But that wouldn’t provide much nourishment and oversimplifies eating into one silly number. If you are a lifelong calorie counter, there’s no need to give it up, but remember that it’s not the most vital number for your overall health.

40-30-30. Or any other ratio of macronutrients, the umbrella term for carbs, protein and fat. Keeping track of macros is a popular diet, and if it works for you, fantastic! But some dietitians warn that it’s difficult to know the precise macro content of every food you eat, which leads to obsessive use of food diaries and macro-counting apps. This promotes a dieting mentality, rather the concept of enjoying food from a balanced plate. There’s nothing magical about counting macros. It’s just a diet.

Below 25. The body mass index (BMI) is a clinical tool that groups people in categories of normal weight, overweight or obese depending on their height and weight. But BMI doesn’t take age, gender or bone structure into account, and athletes are often classified as overweight because BMI doesn’t distinguish between muscle and fat! So, don’t rely on this number as your primary measure of health.

By CARA ROSENBLOOM       The Washington Post       Thu., July 5, 2018