Making the Case for Eating Fruit By SOPHIE EGAN

20130801-062848.jpg

Experts agree that we are eating too much sugar, which is contributing to obesity and other health problems. But in the rush to avoid sugar, many low-carb dieters and others are avoiding fruits. But fresh fruit should not become a casualty in the sugar wars, many nutrition experts say.

Dr. David Ludwig, the director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, said that sugar consumed in fruit is not linked to any adverse health effects, no matter how much you eat. In a recent perspective piece in The Journal of the American Medical Association, he cited observational studies that showed that increased fruit consumption is tied to lower body weight and a lower risk of obesity-associated diseases.

Whole fruits, he explained, contain a bounty of antioxidants and healthful nutrients, and their cellular scaffolding, made of fiber, makes us feel full and provides other metabolic benefits. When you bite into an apple, for example, the fruit’s fiber helps slow your absorption of fructose, the main sugar in most fruits. But fiber is not the full story.

“You can’t just take an 8-ounce glass of cola and add a serving of Metamucil and create a health food,” Dr. Ludwig said. “Even though the fructose-to-fiber ratio might be the same as an apple, the biological effects would be much different.”

Fiber provides “its greatest benefit when the cell walls that contain it remain intact,” he said. Sugars are effectively sequestered in the fruit’s cells, he explained, and it takes time for the digestive tract to break down those cells. The sugars therefore enter the bloodstream slowly, giving the liver more time to metabolize them. Four apples may contain the same amount of sugar as 24 ounces of soda, but the slow rate of absorption minimizes any surge in blood sugar. Repeated surges in blood sugar make the pancreas work harder and can contribute to insulin resistance, thereby increasing the risk for Type 2 diabetes.

“If we take a nutrient-centric approach, just looking at sugar grams on the label, none of this is evident,” Dr. Ludwig said. “So it really requires a whole foods view.”

Read more here: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/31/making-the-case-for-eating-fruit/?_r=1&

Are You at Risk for Silent Heart Disease? by: Cindy Kuzma

20130724-065055.jpg

Better rush to shrink that gut. The more years of young adulthood you spend obese, the greater your risk of coronary artery calcification—early, “silent” heart disease with no symptoms—in middle age, says a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In fact, each extra year of obesity between ages 18 and 30 boosts your risk by 2 to 4 percent. Though you don’t notice it, the calcification predicts your risk of future heart problems.

“While 2 to 4 percent per year doesn’t seem very high, this risk adds up over many years and therefore becomes more and more substantial over time,” says study author Jared P. Reis, Ph.D.

Read the rest here: http://news.menshealth.com/are-you-at-risk-for-silent-heart-disease/2013/07/23/

The Skinny on Losing Weight While Fattening Your Wallet by Angela Brandt

20130723-204517.jpg

While the thought of squeezing into a bikini or taking your shirt off at the pool might be enough to prompt some review of the extra pounds you’re carrying around, the impact that being overweight has on your pocketbook is an even better reason.

Obese and overweight people have higher living expenses. To compound the problem, heavier women tend to earn less than slimmer counterparts. Also, being overweight can contribute to higher health care and insurance costs.

Losing pounds could easily save you hundreds — even thousands – of dollars. That should halt any rationalizing that you’re too broke to get fit.

Most of us know what it takes to lose weight: Train, say your prayers, take your vitamins — wait, those are Hulk Hogan’s words. Exercise and proper nutrition are a good start, though.

I’m not fat – I’m big-boned
Odds are you’re overweight. That’s not an insult – just a fact. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say 69 percent of Americans are overweight or obese.

Even more startling: If the current trajectory continues, 50 percent of us will be obese by 2030.

If there’s any question if you’re normal, overweight or obese, enter your weight and height here.

Underweight — BMI is less than 18.5.
Normal weight — BMI is 18.5 to 24.9.
Overweight — BMI is 25 to 29.9.
Obese — BMI is 30 or more.

Now that you have your body mass index number, let’s do a little math regarding tonight’s dinner.

I can’t afford to eat healthy

Read more at http://www.moneytalksnews.com/2013/07/23/the-skinny-on-losing-weight-while-fattening-your-wallet/#7vbgMDZWvXzxb5v3.99

Bad’ carbs stimulate brain region involved in addiction – by Sharon Kirkey

20130630-095559.jpg

Boston Children’s Hospital researchers who scanned the brains of men after they drank milkshakes containing rapidly digesting, highly processed carbohydrates found the men experienced a surge in blood sugar followed by a sharp and sudden crash four hours later.

That plummet in blood sugar activated a powerful hunger signal and stimulated the brain region considered ground zero for addictive behaviour.

“We showed for the first time that refined carbohydrates can trigger food cravings many hours later, not through psychological mechanisms — a favourite food is just so tasty, you need to keep eating — but through biological effects” on the brain, said lead author Dr. David Ludwig.

The study was small and focused exclusively on men. As well, the notion of food addiction is highly controversial and “vigorously debated,” the team writes.

Still, the findings suggest that limiting foods high in highly processed, “high glycemic index” carbs such as white breads, white bagels, white rice, potatoes and concentrated sugars could help overweight and obese people control the urge to overeat, they said.

The research was inspired by the work of renowned University of Toronto researcher Dr. David Jenkins, who, in 1981, together with colleagues, first proposed the concept of the glycemic index — a measure of how fast, and by how much, foods raise blood sugar and insulin levels.

In the new study, the Boston team wondered whether the sudden rapid surge then crash in blood sugar from eating high GI foods could directly affect the brain.

“Overweight people, by definition, overeat. They’re consuming too many calories to keep themselves at a healthy body weight,” said Ludwig, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital.

“Despite many people’s best efforts they’re unable to stick to a reduced calorie diet over the long-term,” he said. People tend to regain whatever weight they lost, “and then some,” after six months or a year.

“We wondered whether that could, in part, be driven by changes in brain function caused by refined carbohydrates.”

Earlier studies have shown that tasty, high-calorie foods can trigger the pleasure centre in the brain, raising the notion of “food addiction.”

But Ludwig said those studies typically compared “grossly different foods,” such as cheesecake versus boiled vegetables.

His team performed functional MRI brain scans — machines that capture the brain at work in real-time — on 12 overweight or obese men aged 18 to 35 after they consumed two liquid test meals that looked and tasted identical, and contained the same amounts of calories and carbohydrates.

The only difference was that one shake contained fast-digesting, high-GI carbs, the other slow-digesting carbs.

After the high GI liquid meal, blood sugar surged initially, but then crashed four hours later. The men not only reported greater hunger, their MRI scans also showed intense activation in the nucleus accumbens, the part of the brain involved in reward and craving.

“Humans need food to survive,” Ludwig said. “But in the last few decades, our food supply has been transformed by highly-processed, hyper-palatable food products.” As a result, the glycemic load of the typical diet has risen substantially, he said.

“Our research suggests that some of these foods might hijack the reward systems of the brain and produce symptoms related to addiction.”

The study appears in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Currently, about 62 per cent of the Canadian adult population is overweight, and the heaviest weight classes are growing the fastest.

skirkey@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/sharon_kirkey

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/touch/story.html?id=8598082

Top 10 Fitness Trends in 2013

The top 10 fitness trends predicted for 2013 are:

1.Educated, certified and experienced fitness professionals: This claimed the top spot in 2013 for the sixth consecutive year. Fully accredited education and certification programs for health/fitness professionals are on the rise.

2.Strength training: Remaining in the No. 2 spot for the second year in a row, this trend is important for men, women, young and old to improve or maintain strength.

3.Body weight training: This is the first appearance of this trend in the survey. Body weight training uses minimal equipment, making it more affordable.

4.Children and obesity: With nearly 1 in 3 children ages 10-17 considered overweight or obese, childhood obesity continues to be a serious public health problem. A growing number of commercial and community-based programs are teaming up with schools to fight the obesity epidemic.

5.Exercise and weight loss: Incorporating diet and exercise is of growing interest among fitness professionals. More fitness programs are offering everything from meal planning to onsite nutritionists to regular lessons on nutrition.

6.Fitness programs for older adults: The baby boom generation is growing older and living longer. With this group typically having more discretionary money and time than others, fitness programs for older adults will remain a strong trend for 2013.

7.Personal training: As more professional personal trainers become certified, they are more accessible and available in a wide variety of settings from corporate wellness programs to community-based programs to medical fitness programs.

8.Functional fitness: Functional fitness uses strength training to improve balance, coordination and endurance so participants can do their daily activities without stress. Often, this program is created for older adults.

9.Core training: Core training stresses strength and conditioning of the stabilizing muscles of the abdomen, thorax and back. It typically includes exercises of the hips, lower back and abdomen, all of which provide support for the spine and thorax.

10.Group personal training: This trend, fueled by the economic downturn, allows the personal trainer to provide individualized service catered to groups of two to four people. This allows groups to have a discounted rate, while still giving the trainer a full schedule of clients.

SOURCE: American College of Sports Medicine annual survey completed by 3,346 health and fitness professionals worldwide.

http://www.natureshealingfoods.com/the-blog/13-exercise-weight-loss/100-top-10-fitness-trends-getting-back-to-basics.html

9 Sneaky Ways to Eat Less

20130311-182026.jpg

by Chris Garcia

Eating too fast is making your waistline expand, suggest two new studies presented at the annual meeting of the Obesity Society.

Men who consider themselves fast eaters have significantly higher body mass indexes (BMIs) than slower eaters, one study found. Men also eat faster than women, downing 80 calories a minute compared to just 52 for the fairer sex.

Researchers also found a connection between periods of emotional turmoil and faster eating, says University of Rhode Island professor Kathleen Melanson, Ph.D. When you are emotional, you pay less attention to what you are eating than you would normally. You desire the satisfaction of tasting food, which may drive you to eat fast, Melanson explains.

Eating fast doesn’t allow the nerve endings in your stomach—called stretch receptors—time to recognize when the stomach is full. You then overeat, leading to weight gain, researchers say.

So what can you do to keep yourself from shoveling down food?

Relax before you eat. Being stressed will make you feel like you need to eat quicker, said Melanson. One solution: Remember a vacation or time when you felt particularly relaxed. This tricks your mind into remembering the sounds, tastes, and feelings of being de-stressed.

Use smaller utensils, especially smaller spoons or chopsticks. Those who do consume 70 less calories per meal, according to a University of Rhode Island at Kingston study.

Savor the first three bites. When you pay attention and analyze the texture and the taste of food, you trick your mind into believing your stomach is fuller, says Jeffrey Greeson, Ph.D., a health psychologist at Duke Integrative Medicine.

Place your utensil in your non-dominant hand (if you are right-handed put it in your left, and vice versa). You will be more deliberate with each bite, making it easier to enjoy your food.

Sip water between bites. You will stay hydrated, keeping you from confusing dehydration with hunger and slowing the bites you take.

Talk to others at the dinner table. By expanding the conversation, you take longer between bites. Researchers at Flinders University found stimulating your mind keeps you from overindulging.

Add spice or hot sauce. Spice signals receptors in the brain and wakes it up to the fact that you are eating, said Greeson. It will also make you pay attention to flavor and drink more water.

Avoid soda and other sweet drinks made with high-fructose corn syrup. A University of California at San Francisco study found that the corn syrup blocks a key hormone that tells us when we are full.

Try black tea. A study in the Journal of American College of Nutrition found that black tea decreases blood sugar levels by 10 percent for 2 1/2 hours so you’ll feel fuller faster and avoid hunger later on.

http://news.menshealth.com/9-ways-to-eat-slower/2011/11/15/

Osteoarthritis

What is it?

Arthritis is a complex family of musculoskeletal disorders consisting of more than 100 different diseases or conditions that destroy joints, bones, muscles, cartilage and other connective tissues, hampering or halting physical movement. Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the oldest and most common forms of arthritis and is a chronic condition characterized by the breakdown of the joint’s cartilage. Cartilage is the part of the joint that cushions the ends of the bones and allows easy movement of joints. The breakdown of cartilage causes the bones to rub against each other, causing stiffness, pain and loss of movement in the joint.

Today, an estimated 27 million Americans live with OA, but, despite the frequency of the disease, its cause is still not completely known and there is no cure. In fact, many different factors may play a role in whether or not you get OA, including age, obesity, injury or overuse and genetics. Your OA could be caused by any one or by a combination of any of these factors.

What causes it?

Common risk factors for osteoarthritis include.

Age. Incidences of OA increase as you age. Since “wear and tear” does play a part in the development of OA, the older you are, the more you have used your joints. Although age is an important risk factor, it doesn’t mean that OA is inevitable.

Obesity. Increased body weight is a serious factor in the development of OA, particularly in your knees, which carry the brunt of your weight day in and day out. For every pound you gain, you add four pounds of pressure on your knees and six times the pressure on your hips. Recent research suggests that excess body fat produces chemicals that travel throughout the body and cause joint damage, which would mean obesity plays a systemic, not just a mechanical, role in osteoarthritis onset.

Injury or Overuse. Athletes and people who have jobs that require doing repetitive motion, such as landscaping, typing or machine operating, have a higher risk of developing OA due to injury and increased stress on certain joints. OA also develops in later years in joints where bones have been fractured or surgery has occurred.

Genetics or Heredity. Genetics plays a role in the development of OA, particularly in the hands. Inherited abnormalities of the bones that affect the shape or stability of the joints can lead to OA. Just because you have one of these inherited traits, doesn’t mean that you are going to develop OA. It just means that your doctor should check you more closely and more frequently for signs and symptoms of the disease.

Muscle Weakness. Studies of the knee muscles not only show that weakness of the muscles surrounding the knee can lead to OA, but that strengthening exercises for thigh muscles are important in reducing the risk.

What are the effects?

Most often, OA develops gradually. It may start as soreness or stiffness that seems more a nuisance than a medical concern. Pain may be moderate, intermittent and not interfere with your day-to-day existence. Some people’s OA will never progress past this early stage. Others will have their OA progress to a point where it interferes with daily activities, and the pain and stiffness make it difficult to walk, climb stairs or sleep. Rarely, a person with OA will experience sudden signs of inflammation such as redness, pain and swelling, known as inflammatory or erosive osteoarthritis.

The most common signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis are:

- Joint soreness after periods of overuse or inactivity.
- Stiffness after periods of rest that goes away quickly when activity resumes.
- Morning stiffness, which usually lasts no more than 30 minutes.
- Pain caused by the weakening of muscles surrounding the joint due to inactivity.
- Joint pain is usually less in the morning and worse in the evening after a day’s activity.
- Deterioration of coordination, posture and walking due to pain and stiffness.

Osteoarthritis most commonly occurs in the weight-bearing joints of the hips, knees and lower back. It also affects the neck, small finger joints, the base of the thumb and the big toe. OA rarely affects other joints except when injury or stress is involved.

How is it diagnosed?

The most important thing you can do if you suspect you have any form of arthritis is to get a proper diagnosis and begin treatment. Your doctor will use four main tools to determine your diagnosis: your medical history, a physical exam, X-rays and joint aspiration. The medical history and physical exam will be what he or she bases the diagnosis on, using tests such as X-rays and joint aspirations to confirm the diagnosis.

What are the treatment options?

You are the key factor in living successfully with OA. In addition to, and maybe more important than, medications you may take, making healthy lifestyle changes, managing stress and depression, avoiding joint damage, and balancing rest and activity will play a key role in battling the pain and limitations that can come with OA.

The goals of any treatment plan for OA include:

- Controlling pain and other symptoms
- Improving your ability to function in daily activities

Most treatment plans will include a combination of the following elements:

- Exercise
- Weight control
- Joint protection
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Medications

In severe cases, when the therapies above don’t work, surgery may be considered.

What resources are available?

The Arthritis Foundation leads the way in helping people with arthritis live better today and create better tomorrows through new treatments, better access and, ultimately, cures. We do this by:

Read more here: http://www.arthritis.org/conditions-treatments/disease-center/osteoarthritis/