Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Fiber, GI Health, and Immune Function

New research on the impact fiber has on GI health and immune function has experts encouraging more fruits and vegetables in our diet. 

Old research has shown high fiber diets are linked to lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension as well as lower mortality rates from all causes. We have known for a while that fiber is great for us, but we are still learning exactly how it generates benefits.

One new study surveying the effects of switching from a high-fiber diet to a low-fiber diet high in protein, fat, and sugar in mice shows the impact of fiber on immune function. Within a few days of the diet change intestines got smaller and the mucus layer covering the intestinal walls was thinner resulting in closer bacterial contact. This led to an immune reaction and inflammation. Mice experienced higher blood sugar levels and  began gaining weight. A second group of mice were fed the same diet but also given a fiber supplement resulting in healthy bacteria populations in their GI tract, normal appearing intestines, and less weight gain. 

Scientists speculate low-fiber diets starve healthy bacteria in the GI tract, intestinal cells slow their mucus production, and as   bacteria moves closer to the intestine's the immune system is  impacted. Furthermore, scientists speculate immune response and inflammation occurs throughout the entire body and not just in the GI tract, which could play a role in heart disease, diabetes, and cancer risk.

It has also been speculated different types of fiber from different plants might play a role in how healthy bacteria in the gut functions.

Studies in humans need to be carried out to better understand the impact of fiber on our immune function, but this promising research is only the beginning of linking our GI tract to our overall health.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

New Year, New You

Set those resolutions and turn 2018 into your best year yet! By taking the time today to invest in your health, you will truly be investing in your future for years to come.

It starts with setting realistic and measurable goals that you can build on throughout the year. For example:

· For weight loss aim for 5-10 lbs over the next two months

· To eat healthier commit to grocery shopping at least once per week

· For greater endurance aim for 30 minutes of stationary biking while watching the news or your favorite TV show 5 nights each week

· To help improve heart health commit to eating fish two times per week

· To build strength work on increasing resistance of free weights every 4 weeks

Studies show setting positive goals rather than negative goals may increase success. Having a positive mindset and feeling positive emotion while you work on your goals also helps them become more automatic.

We often think monumental change is required to see results but in reality small changes make a big difference. Losing as little as 10% of your body weight can improve cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, sleep apnea, inflammation, and insulin resistance.

Our office is here to support you in your healthy endeavors to better your future. Schedule an appointment to develop a healthy eating plan and exercise regime that is realistic and fits with your lifestyle. Meet throughout the year to maintain motivation and receive coaching for fresh perspective and personal challenges. Contact us at info@nutritious4life.com to schedule your appointment today. 

Our office wishes you and your family a healthy and happy New Year and we look forward to seeing you in 2018!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Cheers to That!

A new review published in The BMJ found coffee consumption might reduce risk of various cancers, liver, neurologic, and metabolic conditions. 

Data from 201 meta-analyses of observational research with 67 health outcomes and 17 meta-analyses of interventional research with 9 health outcomes were studied. Overall coffee consumption was associated with benefit rather than harm, with the largest reduction of risk coming from consumption of 3-4 cups per day compared to zero coffee consumption. This included all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and cardiovascular mortality. High consumption was also correlated with lower risk of several cancers, liver conditions, metabolic conditions, and neurologic conditions.

The only exception was during pregnancy where high coffee intake was associated with low birth weight, preterm babies, and pregnancy loss.    Outside of pregnancy evidence suggests up to four cups of coffee per day might reduce risk without causing harm. Let’s cheers to that!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

How to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Last month the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, and seven other groups updated the national guidelines for blood pressure goals. The new guidelines define normal blood pressure as less than 120/80 mm Hg and high blood  pressure at or above 130/80 mm Hg. 

While there remains contention among many specialists, the national guidelines encourage lifestyle change for Stage 1 hypertension in the 130/80 to 139/89 mm Hg range unless the patient has cardiovascular disease or is at higher cardiovascular risk; in which case medication may be necessary. For those with blood pressure 140/90 mm Hg or higher medication along with lifestyle change is encouraged.

Lifestyle change encompasses diet, exercise, and behaviors. The diet with the greatest documented health benefits for hypertension is the DASH Diet (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) which has been shown to lower blood pressure in as little as 14 days and one study showed after 4 months dropped blood pressure by 20 mm Hg in some participants.

The DASH Diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, fat-free/low fat dairy, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts. It is low in sodium, sugar, red meat, and saturated fat. By combining foods rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium while limiting sodium, greater blood pressure control is achieved.

To help lower blood pressure it is encouraged to limit sodium to less than 1500mg/day, that is less than 1/2 tsp of salt...including “hidden” sources in soup, restaurant/take-out food, tomato sauce, cheese, bread, and salad dressing. Read food labels and avoid anything over 300mg/serving. If it tastes salty or you can see salt you should avoid it.

On the positive side you can enjoy many foods rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium such as spinach, pumpkin seeds, halibut, almonds, cashews, unsalted beans, low fat/nonfat yogurt, bananas, oranges, and sweet potatoes to name a few.

The DASH diet is not necessarily designed for weight loss, however cutting calories and getting to a healthy weight helps lower blood pressure. One study showed for every 2.2lbs lost a person can drop systolic blood pressure by 1mm Hg.

Living an active lifestyle can help lower blood pressure, especially when engaging in aerobic exercise such as fast walking, biking, jogging, basketball, etc. It is recommended to exercise at least 150 minutes per week at 65% or higher of your maximum heart rate; although if you are new to exercise start out slow and build up to that over a few weeks. 

Avoid smoking and if you consume alcohol frequently cut back; high alcohol intake can increase blood pressure. Interestingly though, drinking less than two drinks per day for men and less than one drink per day for women has been shown to decrease blood  pressure in some studies. It is not recommended to start drinking if you currently do not, but if you enjoy an occasional libation that is likely okay.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Improve Memory with Exercise

Deep within our brain the hippocampus has an important role in controlling our long-term memory, emotions, and spatial navigation. In the first study of its kind, researchers in Australia and the UK examined the impact of aerobic exercise on the hippocampus in humans.

Brain scans from 737 participants were reviewed before and after an exercise program. Participants ranged from 24-76 years of age and included health people, those with mild Alzheimer’s, people with depression, and people with schizophrenia.

Exercise programs included aerobic exercise on a stationary bike, walking, or running on a treadmill 2-5 times per week for 3-24 months. 

While our brain typically shrinks about 5% per decade after the age of 40, researchers found a significant increase in the size of the left area of the hippocampus in study participants. Researchers believe physical exercise is one of the “proven” ways to maintain brain size and function as we get older.

With exercise the body produces brain-derived neurotrophic factor which appears to reduce the deterioration of the brain. Over time this may be why aerobic exercise prevents age-related mental decline.

Indirectly exercise can help you get better sleep, improve your mood, and reduce stress and anxiety; problems which can contribute to mental impairment.

Researches are optimistic regular aerobic exercise might reduce Alzheimer’s and dementia, although more research is needed to establish such benefits.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Maintain Don’t Gain
Thanksgiving Survival Plan

  • Eat a normal breakfast and a light lunch. Avoid skipping meals because it slows down your metabolism and increases hunger causing you to overeat later on.

  • Wake up early and exercise to burn off extra calories you will be eating and to alleviate some holiday stress.

  • Stick to water or sparkling water instead of sweetened beverages. Limit alcohol intake and pick light beer or wine instead of mixed drinks, eggnog, or punch which can be over 500 calories each.

  • Limit appetizers to lower calorie options like fresh vegetables and shrimp cocktail. Make a point not to stand near food to reduce nibbling temptation. 

  • If you know you will not find any healthy choices bring a healthy side dish or salad to share.

  • Survey the entire table before placing food on your plate. Decide which foods are worth eating and which you should ignore. Stick to your decision, don’t waste calories on foods you don’t love. 

  • Put a small portion on your plate. You can go back for more if you love it and are still hungry. 

  • Pace yourself and be aware of what you are eating. Eat slowly to savor the taste and texture of your food. Talk more to eat less. 

  • Eat until you are satisfied but not full. Leave some food behind on your plate, especially if you did not love eating it. Drop out of the “clean plate” club mindset. 

  • 400 calories for a slice of pie can be a big problem. Don’t feel obligated to have dessert if you don’t want any. Avoid “extras” such as ice cream. Try 1-2 cookies or a slice of cake instead of pie, or eat less of the pie crust. 

  • Don’t feel guilty! Holiday’s should be celebrated with family and friends. Treat yourself in moderation and understand one meal has a minor impact when you are good all week.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Splenda and Diabetes Risk

Splenda (also known as sucralose) is a zero calorie sweetener that satisfies a sweet tooth without the guilt...although research shows it may be doing more harm than good.

One study from Washington University School of Medicine found obese people without diabetes experienced 20% higher insulin levels after consuming Splenda compared to consuming water before a glucose-tolerance test. How could this be when Splenda is zero calories? Some findings show receptors in the mouth and in the GI track detect sweetness which stimulate the release of insulin. Over time, excessive insulin secretion could lead to insulin resistance, a hallmark of type 2 diabetes.

Another study from Adelaide Medical School in Australia found healthy normal weight people who consumes sucralose for two weeks had a change in glucose absorption, insulin and gut peptides, and blood glucose levels which increased their risk for type 2 diabetes.

According to a study published in the Diabetes Care Journal daily consumption of diet soda (which includes artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, etc.) was associated with a 67% greater risk of type 2 diabetes compared to non-consumers. Daily consumption also increased risk of metabolic syndrome by 36%. Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions (high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol, and a large waistline) that increase risk of cardiovascular disease.

Other studies have highlighted the negative impact of diet soda and weight. A 10-year study from University of Texas found people who drank two or more diet sodas daily had six-times the waistline compared to those who never drank diet soda. Researchers speculate diet soda may actually stimulate appetite and cause a person to eat more later in the day.

Researches from Boston University School of  Medicine followed over 4,000 people over the course of a decade and found people who drank at least one diet soda daily were three times as likely to develop both stroke and dementia. Consumption of regular soda had no increase in stroke or dementia risk, although researchers are quick to state water is the best fluid to drink instead of sugar or alternatively sweetened beverages.

Splenda carries consequences and is not a good substitute for people trying to live a healthier lifestyle. In fact the research is showing real sugar might be better than artificial sweeteners despite having calories. The best beverages to drink regularly are water, seltzer, and unsweetened tea. When it comes to added sugar men should limit their intake to 3 tablespoons (37 grams) daily and women should limit their intake to 2 tablespoons (25 grams) daily.