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!
According to the American Beverage Association the above title is a true statement. I think most would agree that soda is a major contributor to obesity and diabetes in this country. See more in the 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.
Diet crazes come and go. A quick search of the internet and you’ll see a bunch of them. There’s the all-cookie diet, the one day diet, the three day diet, the Hollywood diet, the lemonade diet, the cabbage soup diet and many more. The point is, most of them are not based on anything scientific other than the fact that significantly lowering calories generally results in weight loss. While that might be true, it does not mean it’s healthy.
The diet that I routinely recommend to my patients is the paleolithic diet. This is not a ‘diet’ in the way that most people think about a diet. This is not designed specifically as a way to lose weight. However, if you are overweight eating this way will likely help you lose weight.
I like to use the word ‘diet’ by its most simple definition – food and drink considered in terms of its qualities, composition, and its effects on health. Think of the word diet simply as the type of food you put in your mouth. Don’t think of diet as something people do when they want to lose weight.
A paleolithic diet incorporates certain types of foods and restricts others. From a scientific and evolutionary standpoint the paleolithic diet makes perfect sense. The paleolithic diet focuses on meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils
The paleolithic era in human history began about 2.5 million years ago and ended about 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture. Over that period human beings evolved with a very specific diet. Up until 10,000 years ago humans were hunter gatherers. They moved with the herds of animals and ate a diet high in animal protein and vegetables and fruit. Grains were nonexistent in their diets because the farming techniques did not exist to grow and process grain.
So what does this have to do with you? Our genetic code has changed very little (if at all) since the end of the paleolithic era, yet our diets have changed substantially. Our bodies were designed to process meats, vegetables and fruits in high amounts. They were not designed to process grains in high amounts.
Current dietary recommendations in which people ‘should get 6-10 servings of whole grains per day’ is in direct conflict with how we’ve evolved over the last 2 million plus years. Diets high in grain products lead to many health concerns including high triglycerides in the blood and diabetes.
You must consider what our ancestors consumed and how that drove natural selection. Prehistoric humans at a diet consisting of lots of protein, fruits and vegetables and virtually no grain. This drove evolution and genes were selected or deleted from the genetic code based on this type of diet and what traits were most advantageous for survival. The ability to process high amounts of carbohydrate is not an ability that was likely to be selected and passed from offspring to offspring because it was not essential.
Today, unfortunately, we have a food guide pyramid that flies in the face of evolution and recommends too much carbohydrate and not enough protein and fat.
My rules for my patients are simple:
1. Eat lots and lots of vegetables.
2. Eat lots and lots of low glycemic fruits (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, apples, pears, etc.)
3. Eat as many nuts and seeds as you want.
4. Keep dairy products to a small part of the diet, but yogurt and/or cottage cheese daily is okay. If you choose to consume milk make it raw milk.
5. Salt your food to taste, but do not eat processed foods as they are extremely high in salt.
6. Have protein at every meal – eggs, steak, pork, fish, chicken, turkey, buffalo, alligator, ostrich, whatever – it’s all good.
7. Eat regularly – eat every 3 hours. Remember, even if you’re not exercising your brain requires tons of energy and in a constant supply. Your brain consumes energy at a rate that is equal to that of the energy used by a human leg muscle running a marathon!
8. Exercise! The importance of regular exercise cannot be over stated. Our ancestors moved constantly! You must move!
If you follow these rules, you will have a healthy life free of the diseases of modern civilization such as diabetes and heart disease. You might just lose a little weight as well!
Even the ancient Egyptians had heart disease. I’m not sure why this is such a surprise, but the researchers who conducted the study seemed to be very surprised.
Traditional medical thinking on heart disease goes like this; heart disease is caused by eating too much fat, mainly from meat, and a sedentary lifestyle. That’s basically it. Yes, there are other risk factors to take into consideration like smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc, but talk to your average medical doctor and they will tell you that eating high levels of animal fat coupled with too much TV is a recipe for disaster.
I couldn’t disagree more and this new study confirms my thoughts. I agree that lack of exercise is a big issue with heart health. That one is not debatable. I also agree that smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes are big players. I disagree that eating too much animal fat is a problem.
Dr. Greg Thomas is part of a team of scientists that recently discovered the earliest known case of atherosclerosis — clogged arteries — in ancient Egyptian mummies.
Dr. Thomas said, “Our hypothesis was that they wouldn’t have [heart disease], because they were active, their diet was much different, they didn’t have tobacco.”
One of the mummies the team scanned was a princess in her 40s, who presumably ate fresh food and wasn’t sedentary. “That she would have atherosclerosis,” Thomas says, “I think we’re missing a risk factor.”
According to scientists the ancient Egyptians had access to meat, but not a lot of it. Their diet consisted mainly of fruits, vegetables and grain.
Perhaps the problem isn’t meat. I would contend that a diet high in grains, as is the case with the pharaohs, could lead to atherosclerosis. Grains are high in the inflammatory group of fatty acids called omega-6. Meats are also high in omega-6s. The difference? When grains are consumed the hormone insulin is secreted which funnels all of the omega-6s in that meal into a very potent pro-inflammatory pathway. It is this inflammation that leads to heart disease. When one consumes animal fat no insulin is secreted thereby allowing those omega-6s to actually be driven into a protective and anti-inflammatory pathway.
I also have a problem with the assumption that a princess in ancient Egypt was not sedentary. If you look throughout history, the upper class has been historically, well, lazy. They’ve had slaves, servants and serfs to do everything for them.
The combination of low activity levels and a diet high in grain leads people to be unhealthy. A person does not need to be overweight to be unhealthy either. There are plenty of people in this country who are considered to be ‘healthy’ in terms of body weight but are actually not very healthy at all.
In my opinion, the fact that an ancient Egyptian princess had atherosclerosis is not earth shattering. Human physiology has not changed over the last 2,000+ years. A diet that is high in grains, whole or otherwise, will lead to a pro-inflammatory state. This pro-inflammatory state will lead to heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s to name a few.
If you want to avoid heart disease, or any other inflammatory disease for that matter, make sure grains are a smaller part of your diet. Get your carbohydrates from fruits like berries and eat plenty of vegetables. Make sure you consume plenty of protein as well. Eat the diet of our ancestors from 10,000 years ago not 2,000. That’s before human beings learned to cultivate grain, mill it and refine it. Once that happened, as was the case in ancient Egypt, inflammatory diseases began to rise including atherosclerosis.
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.