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This Popular Vitamin Is Linked To Weight Loss

High levels of this vitamin are associated with 20 pounds more weight loss.

Higher levels of vitamin D are linked to more weight loss, research finds.

People who are dieting have been shown to lose 20 pounds more when they have high vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D at higher levels in the body is also associated with burning belly fat.

The conclusions come from a study of 4,421 people whose total body fat and belly fat was measured.

Across men and women, higher vitamin D levels were linked to less belly fat, the results showed.

However, women with higher vitamin D levels also had less total body fat.

One reason for the beneficial effect of vitamin D may be its connection with the neurotransmitter serotonin.

Serotonin can affect everything from sleep to mood.

High levels of vitamin D may suppress the storage of fat.

Over half the people in the world may be deficient in vitamin D.

Foods that are rich in vitamin D include oily fish and eggs, but most people get their vitamin D from the action of sunlight on the skin.

That is why levels are typically lower in the body through the winter months in more Northern climes.

Dr Rachida Rafiq, the study’s first author, said:

“Although we did not measure vitamin D deficiency in our study, the strong relationship between increasing amounts of abdominal fat and lower levels of vitamin D suggests that individuals with larger waistlines are at a greater risk of developing deficiency, and should consider having their vitamin D levels checked.”

The study does not prove causation, though, Dr Rafiq explained:

“Due to the observational nature of this study, we cannot draw a conclusion on the direction or cause of the association between obesity and vitamin D levels. However, this strong association may point to a possible role for vitamin D in abdominal fat storage and function.”

About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.

The study was published in the journal Clinical Nutrition (Rafiq et al., 2018).

 

source: PsyBlog

 

vitamin D

Netflix and Eat? Here’s How To Stop Overindulging During Pandemic Isolation

Spending way too many hours in front of the TV?

Indulging in way too many salty snacks?

You’re not alone.

A recent Bloomberg report cited data showing sales were up — way up — for all types of comfort foods, including popcorn (48 per cent), pretzels (47 per cent) and potato chips (30 per cent) compared to a year ago.

This doesn’t come as a surprise to Kira Lynne, a life coach and counsellor in Vancouver. During stressful or anxious times, such as what we’re experiencing right now with the COVID-19 pandemic, people will reach out for things that bring them comfort, whether it be certain junk foods, TV shows or video games.

“It’s a scary time.”

Lynne said its important you don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself giving in to these temptations.

“Be gentle with yourself on that.”

That said, there are some practical things you can do if you’re worried about overindulging. She suggests, for instance, delaying the snacking and the Netflix-watching to the end of the day as sort of a “reward” to yourself.

Another piece of advice: eating “mindfully.” Get rid of distractions, such as the TV. You’ll enjoy the food more and won’t need to eat as much to feel satisfied.

Amy Bondar, a nutritional therapist and certified eating psychology coach in Calgary, agrees.

To slow down the binge eating, she recommends that her clients “see, taste, smell and hear each bite of food,” they take in. In other words, “experience the experience of eating.”

“Unwanted eating behaviours only happen in the stress response and the more heightened your stress and anxiety, the more likely you are to eat unconsciously and stand in front of the pantry or fridge gnawing on your worries,” she wrote in a recent blog post.

With so much uncertainty in the world right now and things that are beyond our control, experts recommend focusing on finding things that you can control. That includes building a daily routine for yourself so you have some predictability and structure to your day.

Lynne says in the first part of her day, she takes her dog for a walk, comes home and meditates, makes breakfast, devotes a couple hours to work and then takes a lunch break.

Adrienne Clarkson, Canada’s former governor general, even weighed in this week on the importance of establishing a routine, tweeting: “It is so good for the morale to dress every day as though going to the office, or a meeting. For heaven’s sake wash your hair and don’t wear pyjamas or a sweat suit all day! And, guys, SHAVE!”

On the question of whether it’s OK to keep the PJs on throughout the day, Lynne prefers not to make a blanket rule. Instead, she might ask her clients, “how do you feel different if you are in PJs?” or “are you glad you got out of PJs?” and then letting their answers guide their clothing choices.

With many people no longer having to deal with commutes and appointments, both experts suggest taking advantage of this free time to try new hobbies or to set new goals.

Go online and find a home workout routine that you like. Start an online business. Catch up with old friends over the phone or video chat. Do some spring cleaning around the house.

“Use this time as an opportunity to redefine your health, not decline your health,” Bondar said.

Lynne also suggests limiting your intake of coronavirus news each day.

“I check it once a day. Just as much as I need to stay healthy — nothing additional,” she said, adding that she’s “asked people in my life not to send me gloom and doom.”

“I need to keep my mental health in a good place.”

Experts say another way to lessen anxiety is to find ways to help others. Make an online donation to a charity, Lynne said. Or help deliver food to people who can’t get out of the house.

“It gives a sense of purpose.”

By Douglas Quan       Vancouver Bureau       Thu., March 26, 2020

 

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How To Combat Weight Gain During The Pandemic
(beyond Diet And Exercise)

Quarantine life is challenging, to say the least, and all of us are struggling mentally, emotionally and physically. And no one would blame you for being tempted to abandon your diet and exercise plan and reach for the tub of ice cream while binge-watching that tiger show that everyone is talking about.But health experts strongly recommend you do your best to prevent excess weight gain during this historic and scary time.

Dr. David Buchin, director of bariatric surgery at Huntington Hospital, is seeing that a large percentage of the patients battling Covid-19 in the medical center’s intensive care unit are obese. Patients who are obese are especially challenging to care for, he said, as treatment involves rolling them from their back to their front regularly to optimize lung function. In addition, a recent study found that in patients under the age of 60, obesity doubled the risk of Covid-19 hospitalization.

I’m not suggesting starting a strict diet or intense exercise program while sheltering in place, but there are some simple things you can do to prevent weight gain and protect yourself not only from Covid-19-related complications, but also from diseases such as diabetes and heart disease that will remain two of the top causes of death after we get through this pandemic.

Shop smart

When it comes to quarantine shopping, it’s important to be organized, especially when it comes to eating enough fruits and vegetables (aim for five servings per day if you can). Buy a combination of fresh, frozen and canned to last you at least a week or more.

Consume fresh products first and then move on to frozen and canned. Rinse canned vegetables to reduce sodium, and be sure to consume fresh or frozen fruit daily as the vitamin C content of canned fruits and vegetables, which is important for immunity health, is lower than fresh or frozen.

Chef Devin Alexander, who has maintained a 70-pound weight loss for decades, has some terrific tips for shopping on a budget and managing quarantine cravings. When buying produce, for example, unlike most other items, she suggested looking for the items on sale.

Watermelon and berries go on sale in the summer because they’re in season and thus very plentiful. That’s also when they taste the best, so you can make amazing desserts without the need for a ton of added sugar.

Alexander also recommended having coleslaw on hand for when the salty cravings hit. Her recipe for Orange Cilantro Cole Slaw, available on her website, satisfies that salty, crunchy hankering in a way that’s actually good for you. It helps get in a serving or two of vegetables, and just might keep you from “needing” to eat a bag of chips. In addition, cabbage and carrots are budget-friendly, last for weeks and are loaded with immune-supporting nutrients.

When you come home from the store, make sure to put the healthier foods in more easily seen locations in your kitchen. Food cravings and hunger can be triggered by just seeing food, so keep more indulgent foods out of sight – and hopefully out of mind – on upper shelves in your cupboard, in the back of the fridge or the bottom of the freezer.

Manage stress

During this global crisis it’s even more important than ever to find ways to conquer stress and manage anxiety.

I know, it isn’t easy. Balancing homeschooling, financial challenges, cabin fever, social isolation and illness is stressful, but stress can contribute to poor eating choices and increase fat deep in your belly (underneath the muscle) that can contribute to heart disease and diabetes even more than the pinchable fat that lies directly underneath your skin.

Practice mindfulness, meaning doing your best trying to live in the present versus worrying too much about the future. That’s the advice from Joanne Koegl, a licensed marriage and family therapist who tells clients to take time out of their day to focus on simple things such as the warmth of the sun, the beauty of a flower, the taste of a bite of chocolate or the laugh of a child.

Koegl recommended apps and websites such as Headspace, Calm, The Tapping Solution (a self-administered therapy based on Chinese acupressure that can help calm the nervous system) and Breathe by anxiety expert Dr. Jud Brewer. These resources and others are offering free services focused on managing Covid-19-related anxiety and stress.

You can also practice basic self-care to manage anxiety and relieve stress. Take a hot bath, find a quiet place in your house and sip a cup of tea, exercise, call an old friend or consider volunteering if it’s safe. Helping others also gives you a sense of purpose and joy.

If you are really struggling with anxiety, there are mental health telemedicine options such as Doctor on Demand and crisis hotlines available in major cities across the country. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to reach out for professional help.

Sleep right

Both excess sleep and inadequate sleep have been linked to weight gain, increased appetite and worsening blood sugar control, so try your best not to completely abandon your sleep schedule by staying up late, sleeping until noon or staying up all night watching television.

Try to stay on a relatively normal sleep schedule, experts recommend. This is much easier to do if you follow basic sleep principles including avoiding excess alcohol before bed, keeping your room as dark as possible and at about 65 degrees Fahrenheit and exercising regularly. And turn off the news (and put down your phones) in the hours before bed.

Move more

Spending so much time at home has another unforeseen consequence. You are burning far fewer calories going about your daily life than you were pre-quarantine, regardless of whether you exercise daily.

Sitting at the computer for hours, whether doing Zoom work calls or socializing, and staying inside on evenings and weekends binge-watching television, along with shopping and socializing online, easily all add up to several hundred fewer calories burned per day through non-exercise activity, which is often higher than intentional exercise for most people. It’s essential to incorporate more movement and less sitting every day.

Buchin tells his patients to commit to a certain amount of exercise to “earn” their television viewing. For example, for each movie they watch they should incorporate 20 minutes of some form of activity which could be cleaning, playing with your family, gardening or even simply standing while talking on the phone or participating in a Zoom call.

I have been using my Apple Watch more than ever lately. I appreciate the reminder to stand up every hour for at least one minute and the ability to track my general daily activity in addition to exercise.
If you don’t have a fitness device, set a timer on your phone or even your microwave to remind you to get up every hour and walk around the house, up and down the stairs a few times or just do some stretching in place before sitting down again.

As we hear repeatedly on the news, we are all in this together, and my hope is that with these tips, you and your loved ones can maintain your weight and stay fit, healthy and maybe even a little less stressed during this global pandemic.

Dr. Melina Jampolis is an internist and board-certified physician nutrition specialist and author of several books, including “Spice Up, Slim Down.”

By Dr. Melina Jampolis, CNN                Thu April 30, 2020
 
source: www.cnn.com


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Don’t Just Focus On Exercises, But Principles Too

Your exercise choice will evolve in tandem with your fitness level, but the principles that get you moving are constant!

Contrary to popular fitness PR mythology, health success is produced from finding, and implementing, principles, not through discovering the “perfect” exercise or workout.

Your exercise choice will evolve in tandem with your fitness level (for example, over time you’ll need a weighted vs. body weight squat), but the principles that get you moving are constant!

Principle One: Create “systems” that protect you from your lesser self

Know your triggers so you can protect yourself from yourself!

When one is motivated, energized, happy, not exhausted, not in a social situation, at the grocery store, etc, it’s easy to say, “I won’t drink at the party,” or, for me, “I won’t eat the entire box of fudge bars.” Now, following through? Not so easy.

In the grocery store I can tell myself, “Buy the bars; have one every few days,” but I know from experience that at 11 p.m. I will eat the entire box. So, I built a system where I can have them — in safe spaces. My mom keeps a box so I can visit her to have a chat and a bar. I save myself from my lesser self, but I don’t feel deprived (deprivation is health death — see Principle Two.)

Basically, create a safety net; don’t give yourself the opportunity to “go there.”

Become aware of your habits; you can’t guard against your lesser being if you’re not aware of your triggers. Journal your food intake and have “mindfulness moments” before eating. Ask, “Why am I eating? Am I hungry? Tired? Bored?” Maybe you always eat while watching TV. Possible solution? Knit instead; keep your hands busy.

One way the past replicates itself is through lack of presence; if you don’t become aware of your thought loops and habits, you will just replicate them.

Live by the equation “awareness + preparation = success!” Know your triggers. Have a plan. Then a back-up plan! Plan doesn’t work? Learn from the experience. Tweak the plan.

Principle Two: Feeling deprived is the kiss of health death

Never replace a “positive” with a negative “have to!”

Find a healthier, yet still enjoyable, substitution, or re-frame the situation.

New habits won’t stick until you figure out what the original habit offered and find a healthier way to get a similar effect

If drinking with friends provides a “social high,” don’t simply state “I am staying home.” If your 3 p.m. treat offers you a moment of peace, don’t just say,”No afternoon treats.” Walk and socialize with friends. Have herbal tea during your afternoon “me” moment.

If you can’t find a healthier substitute, re-frame the new option as a positive.

Instead of being frustrated “having to” have a salad, feel grateful that you “get to” make the choice. Replace “I can’t eat cake,” with, “How lucky am I that I get to eat berries?” This re-framing is empowering since it involves ownership, which helps fight feelings akin to adolescent rebellion; no one likes to feel forced or deprived.

Success

 

Principle Three: Realistic expectations are the seeds of happiness and success

Unhealthy habits were not formed overnight. New healthier habits will not form instantaneously.

Stop setting the bar impossibly high! Give yourself time to establish new patterns.

Set the success bar to an appropriate height. Embrace “little wins.” Expect three weekly workouts, not five. Expect less sugar, not no sugar.

Expecting the impossible, such as overnight success or perfection, simply sets one up for failure. Often it produces a mentality that justifies “snowballing,” where when we deviate even slightly off our impossible course (which is inevitable), we let one small unhealthy choice snowball into multiple unhealthy choices. One cookie turns into five, which turns into a bottle of wine and no workouts for a week. Why wouldn’t we? We have framed the slip as a “failure” rather than an opportunity to analyze our goals, program and expectations.

Let small victories domino into larger victories until all of a sudden you have more healthy habits than last month. Trend positive.

Principle Four: Re-frame “failure” as an “opportunity for growth,” BUT don’t mistake “failure” for simply not trying!

Learn from every experience. Every “fall” is an opportunity for self-reflection and growth. If you overeat or skip a workout, aim to understand why. Did you get too hungry, then scarf down everything in sight? Did you skip a workout because of a lack of advanced planning?

Life is your laboratory. Keep what works. Ditch what doesn’t.

The caveat is, failing and growing is not the same thing as being lazy, sloppy or simply not trying. Don’t justify a “fall” with something akin to, “Kathleen said falling is good.”

You have to care, to learn, to be aware.

Principle Five: Stop finding problems for every solution! Find solutions for every problem

Stop focusing on what you can’t control and what you don’t have. Start focusing on what you do have and what you can control!

If you always focus on what you don’t have and what you can’t control, of course you won’t be successful.

Put another way: stop focusing on if the glass is half empty or half full. Learn how to fill your cup. Take ownership. Take control.

There is always a solution — you just have to be aware enough and care enough to find it!

Can’t get to the gym last minute? Do a 20-minute home interval workout. Missing the gym because of a child’s softball practice? Do squats and lunges on the sidelines. Traveling? Use the band!

Frame every day as your “birthday” — a time to begin again. The day will pass regardless; you may as well do something good (and healthy) with it when you can!

Kathleen Trotter    Personal Trainer             04/10/2018 


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These 5 Preventable Conditions Shorten Lives

More bad news for plus-sized Americans: Obesity is the leading cause of preventable life-years lost in the nation, a new study finds.

Obesity steals more years than diabetes, tobacco, high blood pressure and high cholesterol – the other top preventable health problems that cut Americans’ lives short, according to researchers who analyzed 2014 data.

“Modifiable behavioral risk factors pose a substantial mortality burden in the U.S.,” said study lead author Glen Taksler, an internal medicine researcher at the Cleveland Clinic.

“These preliminary results continue to highlight the importance of weight loss, diabetes management and healthy eating in the U.S. population,” Taksler said in a clinic news release.

Obesity was linked with as much as 47 percent more life-years lost than tobacco, his team said.

Tobacco, meanwhile, had the same effect on life span as high blood pressure, the researchers found.

The researchers noted that three of the top five causes of life-years lost – diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol – can be treated. And helping patients understand treatment methods, options and approaches can have a significant effect, the study authors said.

The findings also emphasize the importance of preventive care, and why it should be a priority for physicians, Taksler’s team said.

However, the researchers acknowledged that some people’s situations may be different than those of the general population. For example, for someone with obesity and alcoholism, drinking may be a more important risk factor than obesity, even though obesity is more significant in the general population.

“The reality is, while we may know the proximate cause of a patient’s death – for example, breast cancer or heart attack – we don’t always know the contributing factor(s), such as tobacco use, obesity, alcohol and family history,” Taksler said. “For each major cause of death, we identified a root cause to understand whether there was a way a person could have lived longer.”

The findings were scheduled for presentation Saturday at the annual meeting of the Society of General Internal Medicine, in Washington, D.C. Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Obesity steals the most years of all, researchers say

By Robert Preidt     HealthDay Reporter     MONDAY, April 24, 2017
Sources: Cleveland Clinic, news release, April 22, 2017     WebMD News from HealthDay


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How Emotional Eating Is a Habit That Can Start in Childhood

The way we feed children may be just as important as what we feed them.

By Claire Farrow, Emma Haycraft, Jackie Blissett / The Conversation May 16, 2016

Food can be an extremely effective tool for calming young children. If they are bored on a long car journey, or fed up with being in the pushchair, many parents use snack foods to distract them for a little longer. Or if children are upset because they have hurt themselves or want something they cannot have, the offer of something sweet is often used to “make them feel better.”

But what are the effects of using food as a tool to deal with emotions like boredom or sadness? Does it turn children into adults who cannot cope with being bored or upset without a sweet snack? Probably not. There certainly isn’t any evidence to suggest that occasionally resorting to the biscuit tin will affect children in this way. But what if we do it on a regular basis? What happens when sweets and biscuits become the tool for rewarding children for good behavior and doing well? Or if food is consistently withheld as a punishment?

There is a growing body of evidence which suggests that using food as a tool or as a reward regularly with children may be associated with a greater risk of emotional eating. In a recent study we explored whether children as young as three preferred to play with toys or eat snack foods if they were feeling stressed.

All the children had just eaten lunch so were not hungry, and were then observed to see what they did in a four minute period – eat or play with toys – whilst waiting for someone to look for a missing final piece of a jigsaw. Children aged three to five did not tend to eat much more in comparison to a control group. However, in a similar experiment when the children were two years older, we found many of the children would eat foods when they were not hungry (emotional overeating), rather than play.

It appears that somewhere between the ages of four and six, the tendency to emotionally overeat may increase in many children. And parents who told us they frequently used food as a reward (or its withdrawal as a punishment) when their children were younger, were more likely to have children who emotionally overate when they were aged five to seven. This suggests that frequent use of food as a reward or punishment in that younger period may predict a greater chance of children using food as an emotional tool later in life.

overweight

Of course you may be thinking that your own exposure to “reward” foods hasn’t had any lasting impact on your current eating behavior. But it is worth considering how society has changed in the last few decades to market and promote high calorie foods to children. Many people believe we live in an “obesogenic society,” where our environment has evolved to promote obesity rather than support healthy eating. The fact that around a third of English school children are overweight or obese is testament to this. With grab-bag sized bags of chocolates being promoted to children, supersized portions in fast-food outlets and even clothes shops selling sweets at children’s eye level in queues, it is clear our children need to adapt to cope with constantly being marketed large portions of high calorie foods.

So how can we navigate this complex environment, juggling the balance of making food enjoyable and sociable, whilst helping children to achieve a healthy and balanced diet? Sweet foods are a fun part of life and not necessarily something we want to remove. Even if we eliminated all links between food, emotion and reward in the home, the reality is that society is full of situations where children will experience being given calorie dense foods as a reward or as part of celebrations. It would be a pity to take away the joy that children find in party bags, birthday cakes, Easter eggs and other celebration foods. Perhaps thinking about not just what foods we give children, but also how and why we give certain foods to children at particular times is a good way to start.

Teaching children how to manage their appetites, to eat if they are hungry and to stop if they are full, is an important lesson which is often overlooked.

Eating patterns can usually be tracked across life, so children who learn to use food as a tool to deal with emotional distress early on are much more likely to follow a similar pattern of eating later in adult life. Around three quarters of children who are obese will continue to be obese as adults. Emotional overeating is one factor that has been linked not only with overeating and obesity, but also with the development of eating disorders. To combat this, the way we feed children, and the lessons we provide about how to use food, may be just as important as what we feed them.


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The Surprising Impact Sunlight Has On Your Weight

Brandi, selected from Diets in Review

For the first time, a study reports the timing, intensity, and duration of your light exposure throughout the day is linked to your weight. A team from Northwestern Medicine led the study which was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The study found people who had the majority of their daily sun exposure to brighter light in the morning had a significantly lower body mass index (BMI) than those who had light exposure later in the day.

Study senior author Phyllis C. Zee, MD said, “Light is the most potent agent to synchronize your internal body clock that regulates circadian rhythms, which in turn also regulate energy balance. The message is that you should get more bright light between 8 a.m. and noon. Those with the study believe around 20 to 30 minutes is enough to impact BMI.

Morning light exposure was found to be independent of an individual’s physical activity level, caloric intake, sleep timing, age, or the season of the year. It also accounted for about 20 percent of an individual’s BMI.

“If a person doesn’t get sufficient light at the appropriate time of day, it could de-synchronize your internal body clock, which is known to alter metabolism and can lead to weight gain,” Zee said. She added that the exact way light affects body fat needs to be examined in further research.

Study co-lead author Kathryn Reid said, “Light is a modifiable factor with the potential to be used in weight management programs. Just like people are trying to get more sleep to help them lose weight, perhaps manipulating light is another way to lose weight.”

Those behind the study suggest getting more light exposure during the day, such as sitting near a window at work or school, if possible. Also, go outside for lunch or on a break. The weather is getting nice since spring is here again, so why not go out and enjoy it?

Light may not be the big weight loss secret, but surely getting a little extra sunshine can be nothing but good.

 


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Canada’s obesity rates triple in less than 30 years

N.L. and N.B. have highest rates of obesity, while rates are lower in western provinces

CBC News Posted: Mar 03, 2014

Obesity rates in Canada have tripled between 1985 and 2011, according to a study from Memorial University in St. John’s.

Dr. L.K. Twells analyzed national and provincial data from a number of Canadian health surveys conducted in that time period. His findings, published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), project that about 21 per cent of Canadian adults will be obese by 2019.

More alarming is the assertion by Twells and his team that health surveys collect information on heights and weights that are reported by individuals. Many people tend to under report and therefore, predictions of Canadians’ body mass index (BMI) are likely an underestimation.


Obesity, defined as a BMI of 30 or higher is associated with health risks such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer and associated with an annual cost in Canada between $4.6 and $7.1 billion.

Normal weight is classified as a BMI 18.5 to 24.9 while overweight as BMI 25 to 29.9.

Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick had the highest rates of obesity, while rates were lower in western provinces.

Researchers say they are especially concerned about the massive increase in the extreme ends of the obesity spectrum – class 2 and class 3.

In terms of obesity:

  •     Obesity class 1 is BMI 30 to 34.9.
  •     Obesity class 2 is BMI 35 to 39.9.
  •     Obesity class 3 is BMI 40 or over.

According to the findings:

  •     Obesity rates surged 200 per cent between 1985 and 2011 (from six per cent to 18 per cent).
  •     For the obesity class 3, New Brunswick reported the highest rate (2.8 per cent) while B.C. and Quebec had the lowest at 1.2 per cent.
  •     There was a 350 per cent increase in obesity class 2 and a 433 per cent increase in obesity class 3 overall.
  •     All the provinces had increases in obesity classes 1 and 2.

“These results raise concern at a policy level, because people in these obesity classes are at a much higher risk of developing complex care needs,” said the study’s authors.

In conclusion, the study points to the various national, provincial and local programs aimed at encouraging healthier lifestyles and weight management, but say that “it’s difficult to know which strategies are effective.”

They encourage an analysis of all the programs across the country and for an “improved understanding of why such substantial interprovincial variations exist” in terms of approaches to the prevention and treatment of obesity. 

source: www.cbc.ca


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6 Great Reasons To Fall In Love With Olive Oil

By Austin Perlmutter      March 11, 2014

As a top importer of the world’s olive oil, the United States has a serious passion for this popular salad topper. America’s olive oil consumption has increased by nearly 1000% since the mid 1900s. With all this hype, you might just ask, why?

If you haven’t already discovered the benefits of olive oil — or if you’re looking for more reasons to love your favorite fat — here are six characteristics of olive oil that have a tremendously positive impact on your health:

1. Olive oil will improve your cholesterol profile.

While increasing research demonstrates that eating fat doesn’t necessarily lead to health issues, follow the science one step further. Eating more monounsaturated fats like those found in olive oil can lower your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol number, with a study in the New England Journal of Medicine showing almost a 20% reduction in LDL levels on this higher fat diet. Even better, olive oil may decrease LDL oxidation, a process increasingly associated with deadly diseases like atherosclerosis and stroke.

2. Olive oil lowers your chances of heart disease.

Considering that heart disease is the top killer of Americans, it’s nice to know that adding a little olive oil to your meal may decrease this risk. Data from nearly 12,000 men showed that those who consumed the most olive oil had lowered risk of death, as well as specifically of dying from heart disease. More recent data from 7,400 people showed supplementation of diet with olive oil was associated with a 30% reduction in risk for cardiovascular disease.

3. Olive oil helps you lose weight.

“But doesn’t eating fat make you fat?” It’s easy enough to jump to this false conclusion with all the “low-fat” hype. After all, there are a lot of calories in oil. But hang on. Olive oil is actually linked with weight loss. This may well be due to olive oil’s unique effect on satiety, which interestingly may be linked to the parts of the oil that give it its characteristic smell. So before you go jump on the low-fat bandwagon, consider this Harvard study showing that over an 18 month-period, overweight people eating moderate amounts of monounsaturated fats like olive oil lost around 9 pounds, while those attempting a low-fat diet gained over 6 pounds. And as an added bonus for those having a hard time saying “no,” a recent study shows olive oil may also help prevent binge eating.

4. Olive oil lowers chances of getting diabetes.

In 2013, around 300,000 American died from diabetes related health issues. What’s more, in the US, diabetes is the top reason for performing an amputation. When you consider that diets high in olive oil can lower your risk of getting this terrible condition, that salad looks even better. For those who are already diabetic, a higher-fat Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil was recently shown to be significantly effective in improving blood sugar. As an added bonus, the people on the olive oil diet also were able to lose weight, while the low-fat participants did not.

5. Olive oil lowers blood pressure.

It’s amazing that 1 in 3 Americans suffer from high blood pressure, a condition that leads to increased risk of stroke, heart attack and death. With this in mind, it’s even more significant to note research showing olive oil intake can lower both your systolic and diastolic blood pressure numbers. This health-promoting effect appears to be linked to oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that makes up the majority of the oil.

6. Olive oil can lower risk of cancer.

There’s even more good news. New information shows olive oil consumption may help prevents certain cancers from developing. Multiple studies show that olive oil may lower chances of developing breast cancer. Keep in mind that this effect does not extend to all oils, as in a study showing olive oil reduced risk of breast cancer by 25%, while margarine increased the risk of breast cancer. While the strongest evidence lies in a protective effect against breast cancer, olive oil may also decrease risk of digestive tract and respiratory tract cancer.

Things to consider:

  •     Virgin, or extra-virgin olive oil is healthier than alternatives, with more antioxidant activity.
  •     Buy organic if you can. Nonorganic olive oil has been shown to be much higher in pesticide content.
  •     Heating olive oil decreases the health friendly antioxidants, so use it raw whenever possible.

Up to 70% of olive oils in the United States may have been adulterated. For best chance of the real thing, buy oils with a harvest date within the last two years, and a PDO (protected designation of origin) or PGI (protected geographical indication) stamp.

source: www.mindbodygreen.com


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Overweight And Healthy: A Combo That Looks Too Good To Be True

by Nancy Shute    December 03, 2013

Overweight or obese people are indeed more likely to die prematurely than people of normal weight, say researchers who’ve analyzed the data. Their conclusion throws cold water on recent studies that have found some excess weight isn’t so bad.

Earlier this year, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that overweight people actually live a bit longer than their skinnier peers.

But the says that overweight people who already have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or insulin resistance don’t live longer and are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Same goes for overweight people without those issues, it turns out.

The CDC study didn’t look at those factors, which are considered major health risks and when lumped together are called .

“Sometimes the message changes when you look closer,” says Dr. Caroline Kramer, an endocrinologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto who led the study. “It’s not OK to be overweight. It’s not OK to be obese, even though you might not have metabolic abnormalities.”

The notion of healthy obesity is appealing to patients and doctors.

If both states could really coexist, it would mean that some of the 38 percent of Americans who are might not have to lose lots of pounds to get or stay healthy. Doctors wouldn’t have to badger patients to lose weight. And the health care system wouldn’t have to invest lots of time and money in weight-loss programs and bariatric surgery.

But figuring out who those healthy obese people are, or even if they exist, has turned out to be a challenge. The CDC study compared people’s , or BMI, to their longevity. It found that obese people died earlier, but that overweight people had a slightly lower risk of death than normal-weight people — about 6 percent.

But that study, which was published in February, was heavily criticized because it didn’t look at the health of the people studied. You can be thin because you’re dying of cancer.

The new study tried to make up for some of those shortcomings by looking not just at people’s BMI and age at death, but at their metabolic status and whether or not they had cardiovascular disease. The findings were published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine.

The researchers conducted what’s called a that evaluated eight previously published studies of 61,386 people. They found that people of any weight who had metabolic abnormalities were more likely to die earlier from all causes. They also were more likely to have cardiovascular disease. And the risk increased as the amount of excess weight increased. And the more risk factors someone had, the higher the likelihood of early death and disease.

People who were obese without having metabolic syndrome also had a higher risk of death, so they weren’t protected by being healthier. That’s because being obese affects many other things including hormones and growth factors, Kramer says, and not just commonly used measures like blood pressure.

But when the meta-analysis looked at overweight people, it found that those who had normal metabolic profiles had no increased risk of death. Still, Kramer says they’re not off the hook.

The overweight people also had slightly elevated metabolic markers. In other words, their blood pressure was on the high end of normal. Over time, Kramer says, their risks will increase, especially if they keep gaining weight. Increased death risks didn’t show up until people had been observed for 10 years or more. About one-third of Americans are .

This study has its shortcomings too, of course. The data used didn’t reveal people’s health behaviors, and didn’t track weight changes over time. Clearly this isn’t the last word on this contentious topic.

But it is further ammunition for the argument that, as an accompanying wrote, “No level of obesity is healthy.”

source: www.npr.org