Friday, February 27, 2015

Sugarcoating the Problem

Coconut Sugar: What Is It, and Is It Good for You?

Is sugar the root of all evil? 80% of food in U.S. grocery stores contain added sugar. This “hidden sugar” found in processed foods adds up quickly and increases the glycemic index, a measure of how quickly food raises blood sugar. Higher glycemic foods increase body fat and central obesity more than lower glycemic foods.

A recent study from University of California San Francisco found increased sugar in a food supply was linked to higher rates of type 2 diabetes, independent of obesity.

Researches in Japan found sugar to be the greatest predictor of weight gain in men. Every 5g of sugar a man consumed daily resulted in 1/2 lb weight gain that year.

The World Health Organization recommends less than 5% of discretionary calories coming from added sugar. That looks like 6 tsp of sugar or less per day. 1 tbs of ketchup has 1 tsp sugar, 1 can of soda has 10 tsp sugar, 1 packet of maple & brown sugar instant oatmeal has over 2 tsp sugar, and 1 cup of honey nut cheerios has 3 tsp sugar. As you can see sugar intake can add up quickly!

Carbs convert to sugar in the body, so a balance of healthy carbs, healthy fat, and lean protein is needed. It is not healthy to avoid carbs completely. In fact studies consistently show people who eat at least 3 whole grains daily have a reduced risk of diabetes as well as heart disease.

Fruit is natures candy and is part of a healthy balanced lifestyle. A study published in 2008 following 187,382 participants found those who ate whole fruit regularly had a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. Those who consumed 1 or more servings of fruit juice daily increased their risk of type 2 diabetes as much as 21%.

Enjoy carbs in moderation, cut way back on processed foods, and enjoy fresh vegetables, beans, fruit, quinoa, brown rice, lentils, etc. regularly.

The relationship of sugar to population-level diabetes prevalence: an econometric analysis of repeated cross-sectional data. Basu S, Yoffe P, Hills N, Lustig RH. PLoS One Epub Feb 27, 2013.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Why Chicken Soup Improves Your Immune System

Why Chicken Soup Strengthens Your Immune System

You are a pillar of health. You regularly work out and keep your body in top physical condition. Yet you seem to always be fighting an illness. Fortunately, chicken soup may be the answer. Read the rest on STACK

Friday, February 13, 2015

Protect Your Heart this Valentine’s Day

February is American Heart Month, and nothing is more important than staying heart healthy for yourself and for your family. 70% of cardiovascular disease can be prevented or delayed with diet and a healthy lifestyle. We can’t change all factors, like age and genetics, but the following are strategies we can change to better our heart health.

Meet with your health care team: Knowledge is power, and preventative visits with your health care team helps identify risk factors before they become big problems. Visit your doctor, have your cholesterol screened, and blood pressure checked regularly.

Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. Start creating a caloric deficit  by eating smaller portions and increasing your activity level. Studies show losing 10% of your current body weight can significantly improve your health, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, increase insulin sensitivity, and decrease inflammation. 

Increase fiber intake: 38 g for men and 25 g for women daily is recommended. 10 g should come from soluble fiber sources to help reduce cholesterol naturally. Great sources are beans, oatmeal, lentils, apples, pears, berries, flaxseeds, and peas.

Exercise regularly: Moderate-intense exercise 30 minutes 5 days per week is recommended. This includes fast walking, hiking, water aerobics, and biking on level ground. Higher intensity exercise provides even greater health benefits and burns more calories helping with weight management.

Eat less sodium:  The American Heart Association recommends most people limit their sodium intake to 1500 mg daily. This is about 1/2 tsp and includes “hidden” sources such as sodium in vegetables, bread, lunchmeat, condiments, and restaurant food. 

Eat the right fat: Adopt a Mediterranean style diet which includes a moderate amount of healthy fat (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) while limiting unhealthy fats (saturated and trans fats).

Eat fatty fish regularly: Regularly eating two servings (3.5 oz per serving) of fatty fish (salmon, tuna, trout, herring, sardines, and mackerel) weekly  is associated with 30-40% reduced risk of death from cardiac events.

Reduce processed foods: Foods that have been altered from their nature state are processed. They take up the majority of space in the grocery store and come in a box or bag. These convenient foods are often high in sugar, salt, fat, and artificial ingredients. Try not to be deceived by “organic” and “natural” packaged foods; these words should not imply the food is healthy for us. The majority of the food you eat should be REAL food in its unadulterated natural state. Try to limit your intake of processed foods to help lower inflammation, empty calories, and harmful added ingredients.

Don’t smoke: Smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death in our country. Smoking increases your risk of heart disease by damaging arteries, making your blood thicker, and can increase plaque formation.

Limit alcohol use: Moderate consumption may have protective benefits against cardiovascular disease, but high intake can be deadly. Men should limit intake to one or two drinks per day and women should limit intake to one drink or less per day.