High fructose corn syrup has virtually replaced table sugar as a sweetener in the food industry. It’s cheaper, sweeter and more readily available than table sugar but is it worse for our health? Find out in our latest video blog!
High fructose corn syrup has virtually replaced table sugar as a sweetener in the food industry. It’s cheaper, sweeter and more readily available than table sugar but is it worse for our health? Find out in our latest video blog!
Recently, celebrity chef Paula Deen announced she has type II diabetes. The news reports about it couldn’t stop focusing on the fact that her recipes are high in fat implying that eating a diet high in fat gives you diabetes. This couldn’t be further from the truth! A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates leads to diabetes! Period. See my video below.
We’ve all heard about it, right? Many people have experienced it and the frustrations that go with it. When you’re trying to lose weight there’s nothing more aggravating than not actually losing weight. The scenario can go one of two ways:
There are many reasons a person my actually stop losing weight, but if you follow the steps below it will help you avoid this pesky problem and keep you on your path to a leaner, healthier body.
Yes, eat more. Many times people begin to experience a plateau because they’ve gone months without actually eating enough. At first, this caloric deficit causes the body to burn extra energy (fat) resulting in weight loss. Over time, however, the body’s metabolism slows down to meet the amount of energy one is consuming. We must remember that the human body is designed as a survival machine. If it believes it is not getting enough food, it will slow down the metabolism to meet the energy supply coming in. When this happens, weight loss stops.
For the person that begins a diet program but simply cannot lose a single pound, eating more might be essential. If someone is having trouble losing any weight, it may be because they have been under eating for many years and their metabolism has slowed to a crawl. Trying to lose weight by cutting calories will only compound the problem. Focus on eating healthy proteins, fruits and vegetables and DO NOT SKIP MEALS. Eat every three hours and your calories will go up and weight loss will resume/begin.
Our bodies get used to things. Thank goodness they do or even simple tasks like walking might prove very difficult! But this also means that our bodies get used to our exercise routines and become very efficient at them. The benefit you received initially from your workout program is no longer as high. It’s the classic story of diminishing returns. As you continue to do the same exercise routine, your body finds a way to use less and less energy to do it. This means you get less and less benefit.
An ideal exercise program includes resistance training (i.e. weights) and cardiovascular work. There are ways to incorporate both very easily, but it must be changed on a monthly basis. The change is essential for continuing to make progress.
Didn’t I just tell you to change? Yes, I did. But you must also be consistent with several things. Your diet must be consistent. You must consistently change your workout program and you must remember that weight loss is most permanent when it is done over a long period of time. If you’re overweight, you did not get there in 6 weeks. Similarly, you’re likely not going to reach your goals in 6 weeks.
Consistency in the early stages of a diet are perhaps even more vital. There is little room for error early in a diet plan. This does not mean you have to be perfect. No one is perfect. You should try and be as consistent as possible, however. In the first phase of a new lifestyle your metabolism is resistant to change. It likes the old way of doing things. It may take weeks (or months!) for it to adapt to the new demands you are placing on it. Frequent indiscretions in diet or lack of exercise will prolong the process of shifting your metabolism. And guess what you’re going to do as soon as your metabolism adapts? Change your exercise program!!
The process is actually very simple, but because there’s a lot of misinformation out there regarding diet and exercise many people tend to get confused, frustrated and eventually give up. If you can remember the above steps and keep them in your head at all times, weight loss should be a relatively easy process.
I recently read an article written by Dr. Dean Ornish. He is an integrative medical doctor that preaches lifestyle changes to solve some of health care’s biggest issues. Although he and I disagree on the correct diet, we whole-heartedly agree that our medical system can be fixed with a new approach to how we live our lives.
I’d like to highlight one thing that he mentioned regarding heart disease and coronary angioplasty and coronary bypass procedures. The procedures are performed when patients have blockages in the coronary artery system. This system is what provides blood and oxygen to the heart muscle itself. Obviously, this is an important job!
In his article Dr. Ornish states that “In 2006, according to the American Heart Association, 1.3 million coronary angioplasty procedures were performed at an average cost of $48,399 each, or more than $60 billion; and 448,000 coronary bypass operations were performed at a cost of $99,743 each, or more than $44 billion.”
He goes on to say that in the vast majority of cases the above listed procedures do not prolong life. Yes, that’s right. You read that correctly. These procedures cost Americans over $100 billion per year and are very risky to say the least yet their benefit is suspect. That doesn’t make sense does it?
Most of these procedures could be avoided if people would change their lifestyle and adopt one that incorporated a healthy diet and exercise.
Make no mistake about it – in the vast majority of cases angioplasty and bypass surgery are choices. You may choose to experience the joy of these surgeries by eating a poor diet, not exercising and smoking. Should you make that choice just know that the likelihood that you may need one of these two surgeries one day is high.
Or you may make the choice to live a healthy lifestyle by eating a low glycemic diet, exercising and staying away from cigarettes. This lifestyle has side effects so beware! Side effects include abundant energy, lower rates of depression, lower rates of cancer and an overall vitality not achieved by most!
Finally a large-scale study has concluded what I have been telling patients for years! What you eat is more important than how much of it you eat. A calorie is not a calorie!
If you ask many classically trained dietitians about maintaining a healthy weight they will regurgitate the same old rhetoric they always have – “as long as you don’t eat more calories than you expend you won’t gain weight,” and “there are no bad foods, just bad amounts of food.”
The above statements have never made sense to me. I remember taking ‘advanced biology’ in high school. (There was nothing really ‘advanced’ about it. It was just the second of two courses, the first being ‘basic’ biology.) In this class I remember learning about physiology and how the body responded differently to different types of food. Some foods caused the release of insulin while others caused little or no release of this hormone. The job of this hormone? It basically tells the body to store fat. From that information I concluded that what you ate had to make a difference in your weight.
As I progressed through my eduction in college (as a biology major) and then on to chiropractic school where I truly received advanced training, my view did not change – the quality of food that I ate had to make a difference on maintaining my weight. It could not possibly be as simple as calorie-in/calorie-out.
Yet when you read information online or from other mainstream media outlets you will hear just the opposite. “Eat whatever you want, just be sure it’s in moderation.” Or “It doesn’t matter what kind of food you eat as long as it’s low calorie.”
A new study of just over 120,000 people finally has come up with a conclusion that makes more sense. Hopefully the American Dietetic Association will take notice. Individually there are some very good dietitians out there, but the American Dietetic Association is making people sicker and sicker with their stance on many aspects of health in my opinion.
The researchers analyzed data on three separate studies over a 20-year period, tracking the long-term effects of different foods and lifestyle changes on more than 120,000 men and women. Adults in the study gained an average of 3.35 pounds every four years, for a total average weight gain of almost 17 pounds.
Regular consumption of potato chips, French fries and sugared beverages were most to blame for slow and steady weight gain. However, people who ate yogurt, fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains either lost weight or gained the least.
Now, I will be the first person to tell you that weight is not the be-all, end-all of health markers. It’s a good one, but there are plenty of thin people in this world who are very unhealthy. Also, I generally do not recommend grains be a big part of anyone’s diet. In small amounts they are ok, but they contribute to inflammation which can be problematic for many reasons.
The other foods in this study – yogurt, fruits, vegetables and nuts – are free foods! Eat them as much as you want. I routinely encourage people to eat these foods as much as possible.
Interestingly, nuts are a high calorie food yet they performed very well in helping people lose or maintain their weight. If it truly was about calorie-in/calorie-out then nuts should have performed poorly. It just goes to show you it isn’t about the calories that we’re putting in, it’s about the quality of those calories.
As much as I’d like to say it’s only about the quality of our food that matters, I cannot. The amount matters to a certain extent. If you are regularly consuming 7,000 calories per day you will gain weight. That type of excess cannot be combated with ‘good’ foods. However, to get that kind of extra calorie one would have to consume huge amounts of the ‘bad’ foods like fast food, doughnuts, etc. Those clearly are not quality foods in the first place.
Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian of the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital is the author of the study that appears in the New England Journal of Medicine. He says the calorie-in/calorie-out theory is incorrect “because different foods have a different effect on the body. ‘You can’t just say a calorie is a calorie. It doesn’t address your feelings of fullness, your blood glucose levels, your blood insulin levels and the other biological responses in your body.”
I could not agree more and this has been my point to other ‘experts’ on nutrition when we debate the calorie-in/calorie-out theory.
Let me pose this scenario to you –
Two people are going to embark on an experiment. They are going to eat identical calorie diets for the next year. One person is going to eat 2,000 calories per day in potato chips and the other is going to eat 2,000 calories per day in chicken and vegetables. Who will be healthier and have the most optimal weight at the end of our experiment? Intuitively we would say the person eating the chicken and vegetables would be and I believe this is correct.
There have been many short-term studies that have concluded healthy diets only need to focus on calorie content. The quality of the food was not important for maintaining weight. Finally a study has looked long-term and concluded that the quality of your food is important. Make sure your choices are good choices. If you focus on the quality of your food you will maintain your weight more effectively than counting those calories.
Exercise is the key to staying healthy. Studies show that exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle because it reduces heart disease, cancer, depression, stroke and dementia to name just a few. However, I find that most people do not know what exercise really is. All too often they confuse it with activity. Exercise and activity are cousins, but they are not the same thing.
In all of my new patient appointments I ask each person about their exercise habits. Some people truly exercise, but the vast majority get no regular exercise. Still others think they exercise when in fact they are just active. What’s the difference?
First, let me say that being active is without a doubt better than being a couch potato. However, it does not substitute for regular exercise.
So what exactly do I mean? Doesn’t being active mean I exercise? Not necessarily.
Here are the two scenarios I hear in my office the most.
The first is the busy mother of a small child. Routinely they tell me, “I don’t need to exercise, I chase my small child around all day and pick him up and put him down. That’s plenty of exercise.” Unfortunately that’s incorrect. This person is active, but does not exercise and cannot possibly gain the benefits of exercise by looking after a small child. Unless this mother is repeatedly picking up and putting down their child and squatting down over and over in a short period of time to do so and their heart rate is significantly elevated while doing so, they are not exercising.
Now, I understand that caring for a small child is tiring, but so is sitting at the library and doing research. Activities that make us tired do not always qualify as exercise.
The second scenario I hear most often in response to my question of exercise habits is actually one of two things; people will say, “I walk a few times per week,” or “I like to garden on the weekend.” Both of these again, are activities. Very few people walk fast enough or the distances required for walking to be considered exercise. I have one patient in particular who actually does walk far and fast enough for it to be exercise, but that’s a rarity. Gardening will never be considered exercise. Again, it may be tiring but two things disqualify it as exercise. First, it does not increase the heart rate enough and second it is not done with enough regularity to be exercise.
Again, I want to stress that being active is a great start and is far superior to sitting on the couch and watching television. But it’s just that – a start.
Exercise is something that drives heart rate, builds muscle and changes body composition. It should be done with regularity – at least 3 times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes.
I would ask you to consider this question; If you are a person who falls into one of the above scenarios and believe your lifestyle creates an environment in which you do not need to exercise because you are active consider this.
Are you happy with the results?
Are you tired and/or overweight despite chasing your small child around all day or gardening on the weekend?
If you answered no to the first question and yes to the second you should consider changing your point of view on what you consider exercise.
Remember, activity is a good thing. However, it is not exercise and cannot be used as a substitute. I would encourage you to make time to exercise even if you are busy and active. It will only help you in the end.
Well, it’s not really a pyramid anymore. It’s a plate. And it’s still wrong. But before I get into that let me focus on the
positives about it.
First, the design. I like it. It’s simple and much easier to understand than the old pyramid. It’s also eye-catching. It looks very modern and should attract more attention.
Secondly, fruits and veggies make up half of the new plate meaning that, essentially, half of your diet should be made up of fruits and vegetables. I could not agree more. When I make a meal I always include fruits and vegetables and I strive to have half of my plate at each meal filled with brightly colored fruits and/or vegetables.
That’s it. That’s all I like about this new “MyPlate” setup from the USDA.
Here is what I don’t like.
First and foremost there is no area for healthy fats on this plate. None! That is a major disservice to the American public. Every single cell in the entire body has fat in it. Fat is necessary and essential to life. If we don’t consume fat, we die. Period!
Additionally we know that omega-3 fats from nuts, seeds and fish are exceptionally important for maintaining cardiovascular health. These are only briefly mentioned when you click on the protein section of the new plate. There is also an “oils” section on the main website (www.choosemyplate.gov) that explains a little about oils and their properties.
My point is that the new “MyPlate” design is intended to be something that people can look at quickly and get a gross idea of how they should be eating. When people glance and this plate they will infer that they shouldn’t eat any fat and that’s a major problem. People should consume fat and they need to consume fat.
My second major problem is that grains are still too dominant in this design. Yes, they stress whole grains, but they say that you only need to make half (HALF!) of your grains from whole sources. I would never encourage my patients to eat any refined grain on a regular basis, let alone half of their grains on a daily basis!
In my opinion, grains should be a very small of the diet, even if they are whole grains. They don’t need to be eliminated from the diet, but they should never make up a full quarter of what you eat. A diet high in grain leads to many problems such as inflammation and heart disease. Human beings should consume a paleolithic type diet.
Unfortunately, despite the new design, this is still the same old information regurgitated based on science that is decades old. The USDA needs to get with the times and reduce the grain recommendations and increase the healthy fat recommendations. Until they do that I fear Americans will continue to lead the world in obesity.
New genes have been discovered that seem to be linked to Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). AD currently affects over 5 million Americans and that number is expected to increase substantially by the year 2029.
This year the first baby boomers will reach their 65th birthdays. By 2029, all baby boomers will be at least 65 years old. Ninety-five percent of all AD is in people 65 and older.
The discovery of new genes linked to AD is a step in the right direction. Every bit of information that help scientists unlock the mystery of why this occurs puts us closer to being able to effectively treat AD.
Let’s pretend that we know every gene that is involved in the production of AD. Let’s also pretend a test that exists to specifically detect all of these genes in you. Would you want to find out? What would you do if you had all of the genes linked to AD?
The truth of it is, there is nothing you could do to change your genes. Your genes are your genes. They are there and you can’t remove them. What you can do, however, is change how they are expressed. Just because a person has a specific gene does not mean it has to be expressed. The expression of many of our genes is closely related to our environment. Diet, exercise, smoking, pollution and stress are just a few things that can negatively or positively affect the expression of our genes.
So back to my first question. What would you do if you had all the genes linked to AD? You can’t change your genes, but you can change your risk factors.
There are many known risk factor that increase the risk of AD, independent of your genetic potential. The number one risk is aging. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done about that. We are all going to get older which is not necessarily a bad thing. It is much better than the alternative!
Known risk factors for AD that are controllable are as follows:
You will notice that these risk factors significantly overlap with one another. You will also notice that when you control one risk factor you will impact another. If you can control these risk factors in your life you will significantly reduce your risk of developing AD regardless of your genetic potential.
Cardiovascular health is perhaps the most important. Cardiovascular disease causes a chronic, low grade reduction in blood delivery to the brain. This is known as hypoperfusion. This hypoperfusion is responsible for protein synthesis defects that later result in the classic AD neurodegenerative lesions.
To keep your cardiovascular system as healthy as possible make sure you eat an anti-inflammatory diet and exercise. Fish oil is also something you should consider. Fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, has been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease mortality better than any other substance known.
Reduction of high blood pressure is also very important. When blood pressure is too high it fuels a kind of scarring linked to later development of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Controlling your blood pressure is actually very simple. You must maintain a healthy weight first and foremost. This, of course, means diet and exercise. Increasing waistlines mean more tissue and blood vessels for your heart to push blood through. This puts a strain on the heart and increases the resistance the heart must push against.
Keeping a healthy cholesterol profile is essential. However, the traditional tests from your doctor are probably not enough to tell whether you are at risk or not. Traditional tests examine total cholesterol, HDL (“good”), LDL (“bad”) and triglycerides. These are of some value, but they don’t tell the whole story. What you must find out is the particle size. In a nut shell, large and buoyant molecules of cholesterol are not as problematic as small and dense particles. Your traditional test does not distinguish between the two. Your traditional test might look very good, but a more advanced test may show that you are still very much at risk. See my blog entry from last summer for more detailed information.
Diabetes is also extremely important to control. Some references are referring to Alzheimer’s as Type III diabetes because of the biochemical similarities. Even being borderline diabetic raises the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia by 70%! Diabetes’ hallmark is high blood sugar. This high blood sugar leads to a phenomenon called advanced glycation end products or AGEs. AGEs adversely affect the structure and function of proteins. In combination with oxidative stress brain function is easily affected. Advanced glycation end products have been found to be much more prevalent in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients than in healthy controls. This process begins early on in the course of Alzheimer’s and there is also evidence that AGEs assist in the formation of plaques seen in AD. Diet and exercise are the best ways to prevent diabetes and reduce your risk of AD.
While the study for a purely genetic link to AD will continue, a cure is likely many years away if one can even be found. What we can control, however, are our lifestyle choices that activate our genes. If we choose poorly, we are much more likely to activate unfavorable genes that cause disease. If we choose wisely, we are more likely to activate genes that are favorable and reduce our risk of further disease. The choice is yours. Make the right one.
Agave nectar syrup has gotten a lot of press lately. I must admit that I dismissed most of it and until today had not really looked into whether or not this natural sweetener was good or bad for us.
This afternoon I had a patient call me and ask me if it was ok. I told her that I wasn’t sure, but to be safe, she should stay away from it. I am glad that I did. Here is what I found out about agave nectar syrup.
Agave is marketed as a health food for several reasons. Extracts from the agave plant have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These extracts, however, are NOT in the syrup you can buy in the stores so there’s no value there.
Secondly, agave syrup is low glycemic so it has been marketed as a safe sugar for diabetics to use. This, as it turns out, is only a half truth. We’ll talk about that in a moment.
Thirdly, because it comes from a plant it has been marketed to the vegan crowd as a better alternative to table sugar (because it’s “healthier”) and honey (because vegans don’t eat anything that has been taken from any animal, in this case, bees).
Agave has some slick marketers. The truth about agave, however, is not so great and from now on I will advise my patients not to use it. Here’s why.
Agave is low glycemic because it is made almost entirely of fructose, or fruit sugar. Fructose is, by nature, a low glycemic sugar. Fructose, however, is just about the worst sugar to use as a sweetener.
All sugars are a mix of fructose and glucose. Table sugar is a 50/50 blend. High fructose corn syrup is a 55/45 blend. Agave is usually about 90/10.
But what about fruit? Yes, it is true that fruit is naturally sweet because of fructose. It has very low levels of fructose. An apple for example is only 7% fructose. Plus your apple comes with vitamins, antioxidants and fiber. Agave syrup does not.
Fructose, when consumed in high amounts raises triglycerides (which increases cardiovascular risks) and increases the risk of diabetes. And rats fed a high diet of fructose have been shown to build abdominal fat which is the worst kind.
When agave is processed it takes any health benefit that it might have and throws it away. In the end, agave syrup is no better for us than high fructose corn syrup and may in fact be worse.
Bottom line – stay away from it.
The U.S. is lagging behind other high income countries in life expectancy despite spending more on health care than any other country.
A new report from the National Research Council finds that Americans can expect to live shorter lives than in other industrialized countries. They council blames two things – smoking and obesity.
The popularity of smoking has gone way down in the last 20 years, but it was very popular from the 50’s and into the 80′. The effects of smoking are not realized until much later in life and we are seeing now that it is affecting the life expectancy of the baby boomer generation and beyond.
The other factor, obesity, is an obvious one. The U.S. has the third highest obesity rate in the world. Over two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. The only countries with higher rates of obesity are Kiribati and American Samoa.
See the list below and where the U.S. falls in life expectancy.
England and Wales 81.73
United States 80.78
England and Wales 77.46
United States 75.64