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.