Holidays are a time for celebrating life and for bringing families together. They also mean many opportunities for socializing, over-eating and drinking. Remember, the “holidays” are only 3 days, not every day between Thanksgiving and New Years! And, isn’t looking and feeling your best your priority? How about the praises from friends and family you haven’t seen since last year? Or even your doctor, who is thrilled with your improved health and blood test results…
Overcoming the 6 Saboteurs with Katherine’s 6 Slimming Strategies for Surviving the Holidays Without the Bloat
1. Variety: It is the single most important factor determining how much you eat. Variety? Think about it: You’re at a party where there are seven types of cookies on the table. How many will you have? One of each? Maybe a few more of your favorite? What if there were only one type of cookie? You’d have one, maybe two at the most. When there are three pies on the holiday table – pumpkin, apple and pecan, won’t you have a slice of each? What if there were only one type of pie, say, apple? Wouldn’t you just have one slice?
Why? Studies show our instinct for variety evolved over millions of years so that we would get enough nutrients to survive. But today, because we are exposed to a variety of fattening foods – especially at restaurants, buffets, or parties – variety is a significant factor contributing to overeating and the obesity epidemic.
Bottom Line: How can you use variety to lose weight? Serve a variety of healthy foods to yourself and your family, have them accessible, ready-to-eat. Would you prefer a bowl of sliced apples or a fruit salad with a variety of fruits? Why do we love salad bars so much? Because there is a beautiful array of colors, flavors, textures and shapes from which to choose. Diet Simple’s menu plans are filled with variety to help you stay on your plan and lose weight. Having trouble? Email Katherine for Personalized Coaching...
2. Volume…Eating more to eat less: As long as the volume of the food is high, people can feel full with fewer calories. In one study, researchers varied the amount of water in a food eaten as a first course and found subjects who ate soup before a meal consumed 26 percent fewer calories at the main course. In another study, the researchers served salads before a main course, and found people ate about 100 calories fewer at the following meal.
Why? A large food volume caused by water incorporated into the food – as in vegetables, fruits and soups – even without added calories, improves your feelings of fullness in a variety of ways. (1) It causes stomach stretching and slows stomach emptying, stimulating the nerves and hormones that signal feelings of fullness, (2) Visually seeing a large volume of food can increase your ability to feel satisfied by it, and (3) The larger a meal and the longer a meal goes on, you lose interest in completing it. Water in food keeps calories low and has the largest influence on how much you eat. These studies show eating a high-water-content, low-calorie first course enhances satiety and reduces calorie intake at the next course.
Bottom Line: If you eat a low calorie soup or salad before every meal, you could save 200 calories daily and lose 20 pounds in a year with this simple change alone. Diet Simple, and Diet Simple Farm to Table are filled with delicious soup and salad recipes you and your family will love. Having trouble? Email Katherine for Personalized Coaching..
3. Serving Size: Simply the amount of food you are served will affect how full you feel and how much you eat. When people are served varying amounts of the same food, they will feel satisfied with the smaller portion. But when served more, they eat more without realizing it, sometimes 300 to 800 more calories. If the effect persists beyond two days, those extra calories, added daily over the course of a year, would pack on 30 to 80 pounds in one year.
Why? We humans find portion size difficult to judge, and don’t adjust our intake. Also people tend to eat in units. If we’re given a bag or a portion of something, there’s a compulsion to finish it, especially if it’s a tasty, high calorie food. So, when served larger portions, we adjust our level of satiety to accommodate greater calorie intakes. Fortunately, studies have also found that the reverse is true.
Bottom Line: Control the food that is put in front of you. When good-tasting, lower-calorie foods or portion-controlled meals are available, we will eat those and feel just as satisfied. If that saves 300 calories at lunch and dinner – that’s 60 pounds lost in one year. Diet Simple, and Diet Simple Farm to Table are filled with wonderful ideas and recipes to help you stay on your program. Having trouble? Email Katherine for Personalized Coaching…
4. Food Pushers: To be fair, “food pushers,” as I call them, aren’t necessarily bad people. Your mom, your spouse, your friends-they just want to please you. They are people who think they have your best interests at heart. My clients and I have tried various tactics through the years, most of them utter failures. I’ve tried explaining that I wasn’t hungry. I even went through a phase of telling people I was allergic to this or that. That didn’t work, either. And I learned that the worst thing you can say to a food pusher is, “No thanks, I’m on a diet” or “Thanks, I’m watching it.”
Why? You might as well say, “Talk me into it!” (1) Your excuse is giving the food pusher a double signal – that you really want it but have to refuse, (2) It might also sound insulting, implying that the food isn’t good enough for your refined tastes, (3) And finally your response might make the pusher feel guilty, as if he or she should be “watching it,” too. All of these things challenge the food pusher to seduce you.
Bottom Line: I finally began to make headway when I learned the most basic rule of all: Never give excuses. I’m delighted to say that one of the foremost authorities on etiquette told me that this approach is both appropriate and wise. ”The best answer is a simple but firm ‘No thank you,’” declared Judith Martin, the syndicated columnist who writes as Miss Manners. “Once you give an excuse, you open yourself to argument.” Save at least 200 calories per day by saying “No thank you” to your food pusher and lose 20 pounds in one year! Katherine shares many ideas for handling food pushers in Diet Simple. Having trouble? Email Katherine for Personalized Coaching...
5. Sweets: are everywhere during the holidays. People have an inborn attraction to sweets. If you don’t believe it, simply watch an infant’s response to something sweet versus, say, a vegetable. There’s an automatic acceptance, even joy, after eating something sweet. On the other hand, vegetables are an acquired taste, which may take 10 – 20 tries before acceptance.
Why? This is partly explained by evolution. We’ve been eating naturally sweet foods such as breast milk and fruit for millions of years. They contain life-sustaining nutrients, and a love for those foods helped keep us alive. Also, during evolution, an attraction to scarce calorie-dense foods, such as sweets and fats, improved our chances for survival.
Bottom Line: Because we have a natural urge for sweets, include something naturally sweet at every meal, such as fruit (remember the importance of variety?). My clients who try this find their cravings for high calorie, super-sweet foods reduce. Another strategy would be to go ahead and eat a tiny sweet each day, say, 10% of your daily calories. Or, splurge once a week on a large dessert. Eat a 150 calorie treat instead of a 300 calorie treat daily and lose 15 pounds in a year! In Diet Simple, Katherine has many ideas for having your sweets and eating them too! Having trouble? Email Katherine for Personalized Coaching…
6. Physical Activity: Simply put, during the holidays you’re so busy, you may feel you have less time to exercise. This is why I and all my clients wear pedometers, a tiny device which measure your steps. We find the pedometer encourages us to walk just a little more here and there.
Bottom Line: Just 2,000 steps – or one mile – more per day (only 15 to 20 minutes) will burn about 100 to 200 more calories and that saves 10 to 20 pounds in a year! In Diet Simple, Katherine gives you many creative ways to increase your physical activity – to fit your unique needs for weight loss – so you barely notice you’re exercising! Having trouble? Email Katherine for Personalized Coaching…
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Click the video above or watch on CNN
Our attraction to sweets is primal. We’ve been attracted to sweets for millions of years. During our evolution, sweet foods kept us alive: breast milk, fruit, which are also relatively concentrated calorie sources, got us through regular famines and kept us alive. We are descended from those survivors!
Sweets light up the pleasure centers of our brain, similar to addictive substances. Have you ever noticed, the more sweets you eat, the more you crave? Are you more attracted to sweets during certain times of the year?
With the holidays looming, clients are streaming in desperately worried about how to handle their sweet cravings and prevent the predictable five to ten pound weight gain over the holiday season. Watch my CNN video (above) for 4 surprising strategies to reduce sweets’ addictive hold on you. And, believe it or not, you can have your sweets and eat them too! For more detailed information on sweets and cravings, read the article on my blog, originally published in The Washington Post, with updates in my more recent articles in Livescience.com and The Huffington Post.
And please visit me for personalized coaching this holiday season… Or, invite me to give a presentation to your organization…
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BRAIN MAY FLUSH OUT TOXINS DURING SLEEP
An NIH-funded study suggests sleep clears the brain of damaging molecules associated with neurodegeneration. A good night’s rest may literally clear the mind. Using mice, researchers showed for the first time that the space between brain cells may increase during sleep, allowing the brain to flush out toxins that build up during waking hours. These results suggest a new role for sleep in health and disease. The study was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the NIH.
“Sleep changes the cellular structure of the brain. It appears to be a completely different state,” said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, and a leader of the study.
For centuries, scientists and philosophers have wondered why people sleep and how it affects the brain. Only recently have scientists shown that sleep is important for storing memories. In this study, Dr. Nedergaard and her colleagues unexpectedly found that sleep may be also be the period when the brain cleanses itself of toxic molecules.
Their results, published in Science, show that during sleep a plumbing system called the glymphatic system may open, letting fluid flow rapidly through the brain. Dr. Nedergaard’s lab recently discovered the glymphatic system helps control the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), a clear liquid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
”It’s as if Dr. Nedergaard and her colleagues have uncovered a network of hidden caves and these exciting results highlight the potential importance of the network in normal brain function,” said Roderick Corriveau, Ph.D., a program director at NINDS.
Initially the researchers studied the system by injecting dye into the CSF of mice and watching it flow through their brains while simultaneously monitoring electrical brain activity. The dye flowed rapidly when the mice were unconscious, either asleep or anesthetized. In contrast, the dye barely flowed when the same mice were awake.
“We were surprised by how little flow there was into the brain when the mice were awake,” said Dr. Nedergaard. ”It suggested that the space between brain cells changed greatly between conscious and unconscious states.”
To test this idea, the researchers inserted electrodes into the brain to directly measure the space between brain cells. They found that the space inside the brains increased by 60 percent when the mice were asleep or anesthetized.
“These are some dramatic changes in extracellular space,” said Charles Nicholson, Ph.D., a professor at New York University’s Langone Medical Center and an expert in measuring the dynamics of brain fluid flow and how it influences nerve cell communication.
Certain brain cells, called glia, control flow through the glymphatic system by shrinking or swelling. Noradrenaline is an arousing hormone that is also known to control cell volume. Similar to using anesthesia, treating awake mice with drugs that block noradrenaline induced unconsciousness and increased brain fluid flow and the space between cells, further supporting the link between the glymphatic system and consciousness.
Previous studies suggest that toxic molecules involved in neurodegenerative disorders accumulate in the space between brain cells. In this study, the researchers tested whether the glymphatic system controls this by injecting mice with labeled beta-amyloid, a protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease, and measuring how long it lasted in their brains when they were asleep or awake. Beta-amyloid disappeared faster in mice brains when the mice were asleep, suggesting sleep normally clears toxic molecules from the brain.
“These results may have broad implications for multiple neurological disorders,” said Jim Koenig, Ph.D., a program director at NINDS. “This means the cells regulating the glymphatic system may be new targets for treating a range of disorders.”
The results may also highlight the importance of sleep.
“We need sleep. It cleans up the brain,” said Dr. Nedergaard.
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Body Fat – It’s Not Just A Matter Of Appearances
It Can Also Be Toxic
We used to think that body fat was inert. But new research has found that fat tissue produces toxic chemicals, causing inflammation, oxidation, insulin resistance, and cancer-promoting cell growth caused by an increased level of “growth factors.” These chemicals circulate through the body and correlate with many cancers (including aggressive prostate, breast, and colon cancers), heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, muscle weakness, bone loss and other disastrous conditions. Why? But, more importantly:
But, Take Heart! Even if you’re overweight, there are many things you can do to improve your odds of avoiding these diseases! Read on…
Inflammation, caused by excess body fat among other things, contributes to illnesses which are chronic, costly, and corrode our quality of life. Inflammation is a silent killer. You don’t see it or even feel it until after many years when it blossoms into full-blown diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, muscle weakness or bone loss.
How could inflammation contribute to so many seemingly unrelated illnesses? Inflammation is your natural defense against disease-causing pathogens and it can happen anywhere in your body. When you cut your finger and it becomes red, swollen and painful, that’s inflammation at work. It’s your body’s way of fighting infection and it’s a lifesaver. Once healing begins, inflammation ceases and the body resumes normal functioning. But that immune response – which is constantly on patrol preventing diseases throughout our body, in our blood vessels and organs – can be a double-edged sword. Sometimes, it doesn’t shut down and inflammation becomes chronic. In the blood vessels, inflammation causes fatty plaque to rupture, form blood clots and leads to heart attack or stroke.
Inflammation may also contribute to insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. And emerging research is finding that inflammation may produce genetic mutations which cause and spread cancer. It’s even a culprit in weakening muscular strength and reducing bone mass as we age. There is also evidence that in the brain, inflammation attacks nerve cells, and may contribute to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The cause of chronic inflammation can be genetic or environmental. Scientists have found that excess body fat, a sedentary lifestyle, eating a poor diet, smoking, and high blood pressure, all increase various inflammatory biomarkers and contribute to chronic inflammation and disease.
Your doctor may be able to measure your level of inflammation with a test measuring your blood’s “C-Reactive Protein” or CRP.
What exactly is oxidation? Oxidation, caused by excess body fat among other things, is similar to rusting. An example of oxidation is an apple slice turning brown when exposed to air (oxygen). But simply adding lemon or any citrus juice, an antioxidant, keeps the apple’s flesh fresh, and prevents the browning or oxidation from occurring. Our bodies are constantly “rusting” or experiencing oxidation. Oxidation is responsible for many of the conditions of aging including, but not limited to, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, bone loss, muscle weakness, neurological impairments affecting cognition and balance.
Oxidation is constantly occurring in your cells due to excess body fat, unhealthy diets, environmental pollutants, smoking, the sun, the heat generated through basic metabolic functioning/digestion, and other factors. It takes a large supply of antioxidant-rich foods, and regular amounts at every meal, to counter this.
High Glucose and Insulin
Excess body fat causes high glucose and insulin in your blood stream. High glucose has serious consequences for your cardiovascular system, can lead to blindness, kidney disease, impotence, and is a precurser to diabetes. High insulin levels are associated with heart attack and colon cancer, uncontrolled cell growth and their “growth factors” contributing to various cancers and other diseases.
What To Do About Body Fat?
Exercise Type: Many people believe that a hard work-out in the gym will lead to weight loss: NOT! I have so many clients who have done this for years and their fat hasn’t budged. You’ve seen them in the gym yourself: People who’ve come in year after year after year, and they’re still as overweight now as they were when they started. I know it’s frustrating. Just ask Joe, Elizabeth and Grace. They’re major athletes. Elizabeth is a champion rower, Grace is close to being a pro tennis player, and Joe “works out more intensely than men half his age!” So, what gives?
While strength training and yoga are wonderful for your body and mind, they do very little toward losing weight, no matter how hard your workout is. You need cardiovascular exercise – simply moving – to lower body fat. What do I mean by moving? Walking is ideal! Yes, simply walking. I and all my clients use pedometers to determine if we’re getting enough cardiovascular activity, or walking, daily.
My goal for weight and health maintenance is about 10,000 steps daily (average). That’s about 5 miles or 1.5 hours accumulated through the day. If you want to lose weight, usually it takes about 12,000 steps. If you’re in a hurry to lose weight, or want to get off – or lower – medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, try 15,000 steps per day (average). It will transform your health and your life! Just ask Joe, Elizabeth and Grace – who have lost body fat for the first time in years – and are now true believers in simply WALKING!
Minimizing the Damage if You Are Overweight
Cardiovascular activity seems to be, by all accounts, the fountain of youth! It naturally clears glucose from your bloodstream and that keeps insulin levels low. It lowers blood pressure, clears fat and bad cholesterol quickly and efficiently after meals, and increases good cholesterol, thus reducing your risk for heart disease. People who are more active have less disease and live longer. Although obesity increases the risk for insulin resistance and type II diabetes, a study reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that cardiovascularly fit obese people with a BMI above 27 cut their diabetes rate in half. The study showed even obese people received an independent effect from exercise.
Nutrition: Eat plenty of antioxidant-rich and ant-inflammatory foods. Eat in a way which minimizes blood sugar and insulin spikes, and cholesterol clogging your arteries.
To accomplish this, eat more…
Antioxidant-Rich and Anti-Inflammatory Foods: Plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains should be eaten at each meal to counteract the negative effects of oxidation and inflammation. Berries and Deep Green Leafy Vegetables have been found to have some of the highest antioxidant scores of all fruits and vegetables. But every fruit and vegetable will provide healthy anti-oxidants and health benefits. Supplement your diet with nuts, fresh olive oil, tea, and consistent, small amounts of alcohol.
Anti-inflammatory Foods, such as…
Fish: The omega 3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, found in fish, are the compounds most consistently found to reduce inflammation. It’s been confirmed in large observational studies as well as controlled clinical intervention trials that fish and fish oil reduce heart disease by decreasing inflammation, arrhythmia, blood clotting, CRP and other inflammatory markers. High fish diets have also been found to reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Marine-derived omega-3’s may also reduce cancer risk, arthritis, asthma, psoriasis, and other inflammatory diseases.
Flax Seeds and Walnuts: New research has found that the plant version of omega-3 fatty acids, ALA, found in flax seeds, walnuts, and canola oil reduce inflammation. A clinical intervention study published in the Journal of Nutrition found ALA reduces multiple cardiovascular disease risk factors, including the reduction of CRP and other inflammatory markers. The researchers also found that as CRP lowered, good (HDL) cholesterol increased, a double benefit and an added protection from heart disease.
Vitamins E and C-rich foods: A study found that supplementation with vitamins E and C reduced inflammatory markers and improved asthma, an inflammatory condition, in children. Vitamin E is high in nuts, seeds, and oils, especially wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, and almonds. Vitamin C is high in fruits and vegetables, especially strawberries, oranges, cantaloupe, tomato juice, mangos, cauliflower, broccoli and sweet potatoes. Another study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that when people ate regular doses of vegetable soup causing high vitamin C levels in their blood, biomarkers of inflammation decreased.
Fruits and Vegetables: Food high in antioxidants play an important anti-inflammatory role since oxidation is part of the inflammatory process. Studies show people who eat diets low in antioxidants – that is, low in fruits and vegetables – have more inflammatory diseases, like heart disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The Mediterranean Diet: A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people eating a Mediterranean style diet had significantly reduced CRP and other inflammatory biomarkers. They also had reduced insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. The Mediterranean diet group ate at least nine to eleven ounces of fruit, four to six ounces of vegetables, one to two ounces of walnuts, 14 ounces of whole grains or legumes daily, and increased their consumption of olive oil. While the control group ate the same level of carbohydrates, protein and fat, they didn’t eat as much complex carbohydrates, fiber or olive oil and ate more saturated fat and cholesterol.
Vegetarian Diets: A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that long term vegetarians had markedly lower CRP levels (and their blood vitamin C levels were higher).
Reducing refined sugar, sweets and flour will help reduce blood sugar and insulin
Red meat and processed meats are correlated with heart disease and various cancers
Additional Behaviors for Minimizing the Damage of Being Overweight
Keep calories at low but healthy levels while still feeling full (in Diet Simple you can determine your personalized calorie needs). Increase consumption of high- fiber, high-water- containing, nutrient- dense, low-calorie foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Reduce consumption of nutrient-poor, calorie- dense processed and refined foods such as chips, crackers and sweets.
Overall Calorie Reduction: Calorie restriction reduces oxidation, a contributor to inflammation. Calorie restriction also reduces inflammatory markers.
Ideally, Lose Body Fat. It will reduce oxidation, inflammation, negative hormone levels, cancer-promoting growth factors and cell proliferation. Most scientists will agree that weight loss is probably the most effective way to reduce inflammation, oxidation and cancer-promoting cellular proliferation. We used to believe that body fat was inert. But new research has found that adipose tissue produces pro-inflammatory compounds which may help explain why obesity is correlated with heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and other inflammatory diseases.
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Nutrition makes a difference!
by Viggy Parr with contributions by Katherine Tallmadge
When men move to the United States or adopt a more westernized diet, their prostate cancer rates increase dramatically.
Based on international comparisons of prostate cancer rates in different countries and over time, studies where researchers examine the lifestyle and health of a group in one location and compare that to the lifestyle and health of a group in a different location—have shown that Asian men, who have some of the lowest worldwide rates of prostate cancer, increase their risk of that cancer when they adopt a Western (American) diet with more animal foods. A recent study (Ahmedin et al, 2010) found that rates of prostate cancer are rising in countries with formerly low rates, such as Japan and Singapore because of westernization, including a sedentary lifestyle, diets filled with animal fats, and rising rates of obesity. These results prove that there is not necessarily a genetic protection against prostate cancer in Asian men, but rather a strong environmental factor.
I hope that the following lifestyle advice can benefit all men and help them to significantly reduce their risk of prostate cancer and help them to live a long and healthy life! (1) Learn more about PSA testing controversies..
1. Body fat: The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day to reduce body fat and help prevent cancer in general. This recommendation is particularly important for prostate cancer.
“Although most men will develop prostate cancer if they live long enough, the cancer often remains dormant and never impacts their health. Only a small minority of men will develop the aggressive form of prostate cancer that can be fatal,” ccording to Karen Collins, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian and nutrition advisor for the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR).
Overweight men are more at risk for aggressive prostate cancer than men of normal weight. The reasons behind this are not entirely clear; Collins suggests that the hormone changes involved in weight gain or even obesity-caused chronic low-grade inflammation could be the culprit. Inflammation is associated with many cancers for reasons that are not fully understood. Collins explains that inflammation could set off changes in cell signaling pathways that could lead to changes in cell growth and reproduction and the cell’s ability to self-destruct, ultimately leading to cancer.
- Bottom line: You don’t have to spend hours at the gym to get the cancer-preventing health benefits of exercise—a simple walk through the neighborhood can do wonders for your health. Exercise can be fun, too—try an active game of golf or badminton with friends, yoga, kayaking, paddle boarding, volleyball, swimming—any activity that gets your heart pumping is perfect!
- Body fat: 8 Steps to Determine – Are YOU dangerously overweight? Learn more about PSA testing controversies!
2. Lycopene (Red fruits such as tomatoes, watermelon, guava): Many studies have shown that lycopene-rich foods reduce the risk of prostate cancer, but the mechanism behind that reduction was not well understood until now. A recent study found that lycopene has a substantial protective effect against prostate cancer by interfering with the genes that would allow the prostate cancer cells to grow and survive. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends that men take advantage of lycopene’s cancer-preventing effects and fill their diets with foods such as tomatoes, watermelon and guava.
- Bottom line: Fill your diet with lycopene-rich foods such as tomatoes, watermelon, and red grapefruit. Remember—the cancer-fighting properties of lycopene in tomatoes are much stronger when the tomatoes are cooked, such as in marinara sauce or tomato soup.
- Source: Rafi, MM, S Kanakasabai, MD Reyes, and JJ Bright. “Lycopene modulates growth and survival associated genes in prostate cancer.” Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 2013.
3. Selenium: The AICR recommends incorporating selenium-rich foods into your diet to help decrease your prostate cancer risk. Selenium is essential to proper immune system and thyroid functioning, and it has been shown to be anti-carcinogenic. In addition to its powerful preventive effects, selenium may also slow prostate tumor growth. One of the best sources of selenium is the Brazil nut. Besides being a great selenium reservoir, Brazil nuts are high in protein, fiber, magnesium, and phosphorus, along with vitamin E, vitamin B6, calcium, and iron, just to name a few. These nutrient powerhouses can also help lower cholesterol.
- When paired with vitamin E, selenium packs an extra punch in preventing prostate cancer. Almonds are a great source of vitamin E and have a host of other health benefits, as well.
- Bottom line: Enjoy selenium-rich foods such as brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, eggs, mushrooms, grains, and onions to help lower your risk of prostate cancer.
- Source: Yang, Jun. “Brazil nuts and associated health benefits: A review.” LWT-Food Science and Technology 42(10): 2009.
4. Cruciferous vegetables: Consumption of vegetables in the crucifer family, including broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage has recently been linked to a decrease in prostate cancer risk. Chemicals in vegetables like broccoli can suppress the growth of prostate cancer cells and therefore prevent development of the disease.
- Source: Watson, GW, LM Beaver, DE Williams, RH Dashwood, and E Ho. “Phytochemicals from Cruciferous Vegetables, Epigenetics, and Prostate Cancer Prevention.” The American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Journal: 2013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23800833
- Bottom line: Even if delicious, nutritious foods like broccoli and cauliflower don’t definitively reduce your risk of prostate cancer, they are still incredibly healthful foods with a huge variety of proven benefits. Toss some broccoli into your salad or replace the mashed potatoes with some smashed cauliflower!
5. Vegetable fats: A long-term study of men with prostate cancer found that men who ate more vegetable fats (think nuts, avocados, and nut oils) had a significantly reduced risk of dying from any cause. Simply swapping ten percent of daily carbohydrates for vegetable fats lowered the men’s risk of death by 26 percent, and swapping vegetable fats for ten percent of daily animal fat reduced the men’s risk of death by a whopping 34 percent.
- Bottom line: Instead of cooking foods in trans-fatty oils or bacon fat, use olive or peanut oil. Foods such as nuts, avocados, peanut butter, and olives are good sources of vegetable fats, as well.
- Source: Richman, Erin L., Stacey A. Kenfield, Jorge E. Chavarro, Meir J. Stampfer, Edward L. Giovannucci, Walter C. Willett, and June M. Chan. “Fat Intake After Diagnosis and Risk of Lethal Prostate Cancer and All-Cause Mortality.” JAMA Internal Medicine 2013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23752662
6. Animal fats: Frequent meat-eaters beware: studies have shown that diets high in animal fats can increase your risk for prostate cancer. Studies of the often vegetarian Seventh-Day Adventists show decreased rates of prostate cancer in that population compared to the national average.
- Source: Le Marchand, Loic, Laurence N. Kolonel, Lynne R. Wilkens, Beth C. Myers, and Tomio Hirohata. “Animal Fat Consumption and Prostate Cancer: A Prospective Study in Hawaii.” Epidemiology 5(3): 1994. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8038241
- Milk: A recent studyfound that whole milk, which is high in animal fat, is associated with more aggressive, fatal prostate cancer. Skim/low-fat milk was associated with less aggressive prostate cancers. Some researchers believe that the calcium in milk may be behind milk’s association with prostate cancer, while others believe that natural growth factors in milk are the true cause. Men are urged to be careful about calcium supplements—as with many types of foods, it’s necessary to find the middle ground between too much and too little calcium. Whereas excessive calcium (1200-1500+ mg/day) is associated with increased prostate cancer risk, adequate calcium consumption in general is pretty clearly associated with lower risk of colon cancer. According to Collins, “You’d hate for men to get the idea that they should totally minimize their calcium intake, since some calcium in moderate amounts doesn’t seem to increase prostate cancer risk.”
- Source: Song, Y, JE Chavarro, Y Cao, W Qiu, L Mucci, HD Sesso, MJ Stampfer, E Giovannucci, M Pollak, S Liu, and J Ma. “Whole milk intake is associated with prostate cancer-specific mortality among U.S. male physicians.” Journal of Nutrition 143(2): 2013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23256145
- Bottom line: It’s not a bad idea to reduce your meat intake. If you do eat meat, opt for leaner meats such as chicken and fish instead of fatty beef. It also wouldn’t hurt to cut back on milk or switch to skim milk.
7. Soy: Stanford researcher Dr. David Feldman has found that soy can have protective effects against prostate cancer. Genistein, a soy phytochemical, can boost calcium absorption by protecting a vitamin D-derived chemical, calcitriol, against breakdown. A study involving rats found that when placed on a high-soy diet and given supplements of calcitriol, the rats were much less likely to grow prostate tumors.
- Bottom line: This doesn’t mean that you should load up on soy and vitamin D—some of the mice in the soy-vitamin D study developed hypercalcemia, a condition that occurs when there is too much calcium in the blood. Enjoy minimally processed, nonfermented forms of soy every now and then, such as tofu and soy milk.
- Source: Studying D, Soy and Prostate Cancer. AICR Newsletter. http://www.aicr.org/publications/newsletter/2013-winter-120/studying-d-soy-and-prostate.html
- Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/craig-cooper/soy-and-chocolate-too-muc_b_756604.html
8. Fried foods: A new study from the University of Washington has found that regularly eating fried foods such as French fries and fried chicken could increase your prostate cancer risk. The high heats involved in deep-frying create new molecular compounds that may be carcinogenic. You don’t necessarily need to swear off doughnuts and fries forever—the study also found that men who ate fried foods one to three times a month did not have an increased risk for prostate cancer.
- Bottom line: Try to replace fried foods with fresh foods whenever possible, but if you simply have to have a doughnut or fries, limit yourself to one or two indulgences per month.
- Source: Stott-Miller, Marni, Marian L. Neuhouser, and Janet L. Stanford. “Consumption of deep-fried foods and risk of prostate cancer.” The Prostate 73(9): 2013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23335051
9. Omega-3 fatty acids: A recent study by Dr. Theodore Brasky and colleagues found that high blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. However, the study suffers from several serious methodological flaws. The study did not examine any aspects of diet in the volunteers, nor did they ask if the men were taking fish oil supplements. All assessments of omega-3’s were performed by measuring omega-3 blood levels. Karen Collins of AICR cautions that the real issue is all about balance; the balance of omega-3’s and omega-6’s (another type of essential dietary fat) seems to be very important for inflammation. People who eat little to no fish and fill their diets with processed foods may have inadequate consumption of omega-3’s, whereas someone else could go too far in the other direction and throw off that delicate balance by eating a low fat diet with omega-3 supplements. There is likely a tipping point at which omega-3’s cease being helpful and start to be harmful due to the imbalance that too many omega-3’s can cause, much like calcium and milk. It’s important to recognize that although omega-3’s are important, the rest of the diet and lifestyle must also be taken into account. For example, the Inuits, the native people of Greenland, have a diet rich in fish, giving them plenty of omega-3’s. The Inuits also have incredibly low rates of prostate cancer.
- http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/12/health/salmon-cancer-time/index.html (Brasky research)
- Brasky, TM, AK Darke, X Song, CM Tangen, PJ Goodman, IM Thompson, FL Meyskens, Jr., GE Goodman, LM Minasian, HL Parnes, EA Klein, and AR Kristal. “Plasma Phospholipid Fatty Acids and Prostate Cancer Risk in the SELECT Trial.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute: 2013. http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/07/09/jnci.djt174.abstract
- Dewailly, E, G Mulvad, H Sloth Pedersen, JC Hansen, N Behrendt, and JP Hart Hansen. “Inuit are protected against prostate cancer.” Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention: 12(9): 2003. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14504206
By eating in accordance with the most up-to-date scientific evidence, you could help reduce your risk for prostate cancer. Start by filling your diet with lycopene-containing foods like tomatoes, watermelon, and grapefruit, selenium-rich foods like brazil nuts, eggs, and mushrooms, vegetable fats like nuts and avocados, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. What you add in is just as important as what you leave out—try to cut back on red meat, whole milk, and fried foods. Top everything off with at least 30 minutes of exercise each day and you’ll be doing both yourself and your family a whole lot of good. Collins points out that “for cancer overall, we are discovering so many protective compounds in food that we should focus on variety rather than a few superstars to eat over and over again.” Take her advice and mix it up once in a while. If you follow all of the tips in this article, you’ll be taking full advantage of the most up-to-date prostate cancer prevention science and improving your overall health along the way!
Jemal, Ahmedin, Melissa M. Center, Carol DeSantis, and Elizabeth M. Ward. “Global Patterns of Cancer Incidence and Mortality Rates and Trends.” Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention 2010. http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/19/8/1893.long
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After reviewing thousands of studies, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Report on the Screening of Prostate Cancer was highly critical of the dependence on PSA testing for prostate cancer screening. The study concluded PSA screening and the resulting treatment can do more harm than good, and doesn’t prevent deaths from prostate cancer. The report was published in the scientific journal, The Annals of Internal Medicine last year.
“A high PSA test does not mean a man has prostate cancer or is at very high risk of developing it…The large majority of men with an elevated PSA blood test do NOT have prostate cancer,” said Timothy Wilt, a taskforce member and professor of medicine at the Minneapolis VA Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research “Science now shows us that screening for prostate cancer with the PSA blood test is very unlikely to help men live longer or prevent prostate cancer death,” said Wilt.
“In addition, PSA testing leads to considerable harms not only with the blood tests but with downstream consequence of testing. This is true even in the group of men (ages 55-69) who may be at greatest possible benefit,” added Wilt.
A Personal Story
This report concerns me as recently, men in my life went through prostate cancer scares. Their experiences led me to investigate the real story behind prostate cancer’s prevention and treatment protocols. I was surprised to find that these men, and many like them, were needlessly exposed to life-threatening procedures and lived with their miserable consequences simply because of a higher than usual PSA test.
The saddest story is of my 80-year-old friend, John, who went through a prostatectomy. He was dead a few years later from heart failure, but after the prostate cancer surgery, his psychological and physical health rapidly deteriorated; his last years were pure misery, plagued by incontinence and impotence caused by (unnecessary?) prostate surgery. In the second case, my 60-year-old friend Mark was found with a higher PSA level than usual this year. He went through a biopsy – which found no cancer. He and his family were frightened, then relieved. My other 59-year-old friend, David, went through a biopsy last year because of a higher than usual PSA, with a finding of no cancer, but with complications from the biopsy. A year later, David’s PSA was back down to his usual level.
Did Mark or David need to be exposed to the dangers of a biopsy because of a higher than usual PSA? Should John have been advised to take such extreme measures during his final years? Probably not, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Report on the Screening of Prostate Cancer.
Task Force Analysis and Recommendations
“Prostate biopsies result in serious harms in about 1 in 3 men including: pain, fever, bleeding, infection, transient urinary difficulties, and need for hospitalization,” said Wilt, task force member and co-author of a follow-up study, “Long Term Harms After Treatment for Prostate Cancer,” in the January 2013 British Medical Journal.
The task force reported: “Convincing evidence demonstrates that the PSA test often produces false-positive results (approximately 80% of positive PSA test results are false-positive when cutoffs between 2.5 and 4.0 μg/L are used) (4). There is adequate evidence that false-positive PSA test results are associated with negative psychological effects, including persistent worry about prostate cancer. Men who have a false-positive test result are more likely to have additional testing, including 1 or more biopsies, in the following year than those who have a negative test result (5). Over 10 years, approximately 15% to 20% of men will have a PSA test result that triggers a biopsy, depending on the PSA threshold and testing interval used (4). New evidence from a randomized trial of treatment of screen-detected cancer indicates that roughly one third of men who have prostate biopsy experience pain, fever, bleeding, infection, transient urinary difficulties, or other issues requiring clinician follow-up that the men consider a ‘moderate or major problem’; approximately 1% require hospitalization (6).”
“Periodic digital rectal examinations could also be an alternative strategy worthy of further study. In the only randomized trial demonstrating a mortality reduction from radical prostatectomy for clinically localized cancer, a high percentage of men had palpable cancer (17). All of these approaches require additional research to better elucidate their merits and pitfalls and more clearly define an approach to the diagnosis and management of prostate cancer that optimizes the benefits while minimizing the harms.”
“Older age is the strongest risk factor for the development of prostate cancer,” and while most men have prostate cancer, they rarely die from it.
“The Task Force recommendations provide up to date high-value, science-based health care recommendations, encourage patients and providers to know the facts, and choose wisely,” said Wilt. “I discuss these recommendations with confidence with my patients knowing it helps provide them with optimal patient-centered, science-directed health care. No major health organization recommends PSA testing. At best PSA testing results in a small benefit for a few but all are subject to testing and possible treatment harms.”
“While the task force did not consider cost, PSA testing and subsequent treatment are expensive, cost ineffective, low value care, according to an American College of Physicians recommendation,” said Wilt.
Solutions From the Task Force
“We must do better. We need better tests, more effective and less harmful treatments, and more selective use of current options. In the case of PSA testing and treatment for prostate cancer, less testing and treatment results in better health outcomes, and lower costs, a winning combination,” said Wilt.
“One approach for men and their physicians still wanting PSA testing would be to test PSA less frequently – every 2 to 4 years – rather than every year, and not to begin testing until age 55. Also, stop testing in men with a life expectancy less than 15-20 years (age 70 or earlier if with serious other medical conditions) and to raise PSA levels that define abnormal, for instance, from 3 or 4 to approximately 8 to 10,” said the Task Force.
“Other suggested but not proven strategies are to evaluate abnormal PSA values with noninvasive tests like a special type of MRI looking for ‘hot spots’ to biopsy that may be more likely to signal aggressive cancers and if absent hopefully avoid unnecessary biopsies, detection and treatment of “low risk” disease (these men comprise 60-80% of men currently diagnosed). Treatment harms include: immediate risks of surgery or radiation and longer term bowel, urinary and sexual dysfunction. Therefore for most men choosing not to have the PSA blood test …and choosing observation rather than early treatment if detected with PSA testing is a wise health care choice,” said Wilt, based on the report results. “Health care providers should convey and support this information. We need better tests and treatment options and wiser use of available methods.Genetic testing is not of proven value yet,” said Wilt.
“We could also work to try and not label ‘low risk disease’ as cancer because it has a very benign long term natural history but doctors and patients fear cancer and treat almost all aggressively resulting in harm without benefit,” said Wilt.
“In addition, despite evidence that more expensive ‘advanced’ therapies (robot surgery, IMRT or photon raidotherapy) are not more effective or safer than traditional therapies or observation – especially for low risk disease – new research shows they are increasingly used and very profitable-thus driving up the cost of care to patients and society without benefit,” added Wilt.
Obviously, more research into prostate cancer screening is needed to help men make the best decisions about their health. Learn more about prevention through diet and lifestyle!
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Any change in your life: Leaving home for college, Getting a new job, Getting Married, Moving… Disrupts your healthy routine. It’s important to be aware of these habit changes so you can protect your health and healthy weight!
Melissa is 19 years old and spent her first year at college gaining about 15 pounds. She was pretty miserable when I first met her in June. But, thankfully, we spent the summer working together to lose the weight and she’s exactly where she wants to be before returning. At 5 foot 1, she now weighs in at a very reasonable 115 pounds. Melissa is thrilled with her new body. She feels more confident, more energetic, and happier than she did before—and she can finally wear skinny jeans!
But Melissa’s weight gain is not unusual. A 2003 Cornell University study found that college freshmen gain an average of 4 pounds in just the first 12 weeks. Some contributing factors include: all-you-can-eat buffets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; late-night study sessions, which beget late-night snack fests; alcohol—and lots of it; a heavy course load that leaves little time for physical activity; and on and on.
Some factors adding to this weight gain are…
- Being faced with all-you-can-eat buffets at breakfast, lunch and dinner,
- Late-night studying – and the snacking and eating late which inevitably goes along with it… fattening take-out dinners of pizza or Chinese food,
- Alcohol- and lots of it,
- Pressure to take too many classes so precluding physical activity in the regular routine,
- Skipping breakfast or lunch time, then overeating between meals and later in the day and into the night.
I understand the struggle: I’ve been there. My weight gain occurred during my sophomore year—my first year away from home. I ate all my favorite foods any time I wanted (ice cream, pastrami sandwiches, chocolate chip bars, chips). And I went from being very physically active in high school—cheerleading, dancing, and more—to doing virtually nothing in college. I was getting flabby—and fast. I distinctly remember complaining to my grandmother how tired I felt. Her unsympathetic admonition,”You’re too young to feel this tired!” shocked me into action and I immediately started changing my ways.
For Melissa and other students going back to school this fall, the temptation to return to unhealthy habits will arise. You’re up to the challenge. Try these tips:
• Figure out when to fit in a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Skipping meals can promote overeating.
• Determine when you can be physically active. For instance, will you be able to get your physical activity by walking to and from classes on certain days? Will you need to hit the gym on others?
• Wear a pedometer to ensure you’re getting at least the daily 10,000 steps it takes to maintain your weight—and more if you want to lose weight.
• Sign up for an exercise class for credit. During my later college years, I took scuba diving, rescue diving, deep diving, tennis, fencing—basically, anything that allowed me to get credit for staying active and learning a new and interesting sport. This is also a way to meet other people with similar interests.
• Schedule your routine so that you are not hungry at night. If you must study late into the night, drink diet sodas or green tea (my favorite is Jasmine scented), and munch on fruits and veggies.
• Dump friends (subtly, of course) who push you to overindulge.
• Cultivate friendships with healthier folks who share your commitment to staying in shape.
You don’t have to undo your hard-earned summer results.
College weight gain is not inevitable!
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One of my 50-something clients, who lost twenty pounds with a few “Diet Simple” tricks, increased pedometer steps, and weight training, confided in me that she feels sexy for the first time in years! On the tennis court, she performs better, is more flexible, stronger and quicker. Who could ask for more in your 40s, 50s, 60s – or even older?
My clients regularly ask me, “How do I maximize my workouts to gain muscle as quickly and effectively as possible?”
My answer: “What you eat and when you eat it profoundly improves your ability to build muscle mass and strength, and new surprising studies show an ancient beverage and a simple stretching routine can make a huge difference, too. Let me explain…”
1. Your Workout
While nutrition is important, the quality of your strength training workout is a key factor for building muscle mass. The National Institute on Aging recommends strength training all of your major muscle groups at least three times a week for 30 minutes. I encourage all my clients to get some kind of strength training so that when they lose weight, they not only look more toned and have more strength (who wants to be a flabby skinny person?), they’re healthier. This can be accomplished by working with a skilled trainer, but also through vigorous yoga and pilates - whenever there is resistance and you work your muscles to exhaustion – that is, you can’t do just one more pushup – you’re building muscle.
It’s also important to build muscle because the more lean muscle you have, the more calories your body burns because muscle mass increases metabolism. That’s why a man who weighs the same as a woman can eat so much more, and will lose weight more easily. He has relatively more muscle so he burns more calories, even at rest!
Studies of 80-year-olds show muscular strength can mean the difference between independence and a nursing home… it improves balance, walking, and reduces falls.
But it’s not easy to build muscle for a variety of reasons.
First, muscle mass declines as you age, starting in your mid 30s. An average person will lose five to seven pounds of muscle between age 35 to age 50 due to disuse. For every pound of muscle lost, you lose the capacity to burn 35 to 50 calories per day. That means if you’ve lost seven pounds of muscle by the age of 50, at 50 calories per muscle, that’s 350 calories you can’t eat just to prevent weight gain, let alone lose weight.
Second, weight loss causes muscle loss. When you lose weight, about half of what you lose is muscle -though you can minimize muscle loss by eating right (so read on!). This makes it even harder to keep the weight off because you’re reducing your muscle and therefore your metabolism as you lose pounds.
This brings us to the obvious: Building muscle as you age, eating the right kinds of foods to make that happen – and to minimize muscle loss as you lose weight – is essential to keeping lean.
Now for the nutrition…
Protein is essential for healthy living. It is one of the most important nutrients in the human body, second only to water. Bone health, muscle function, muscle strength, muscle mass and immune function — all are impaired with a low protein intake. But how much protein do we need?
New research has found that eating the right amount of protein - and at the right times – is essential not only for your health, but also for effective muscle gain and weight loss. Eating enough protein while losing weight is more likely to minimize muscle loss and maximize fat loss. Keeping muscle stores high is critical as losing muscle decreases resting metabolic rate, making it harder to maintain a healthy weight and lose body fat.
The National Academy of Sciences, in a recent report, recommended Americans eat at least 15% of their calories as protein but never exceed 35 percent, as that may be when adverse symptoms begin to appear (Low carb diets are often as high as 80% protein, and have many adverse health consequences).
If you’re losing weight or are worried about muscle or bone loss, consider increasing your protein.
How Much Protein? A personalized formula: The studies of aging populations find about 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of (2.2 lbs is 1 kg) helps to reduce age-related muscle – and bone – loss. This amount should also be adequate for you to maximize your workouts, especially if you are in your mid-30s or older. Though some in the body-building community believe you can go as high as 1.6 grams of protein per kg of body weight. You may also need this higher amount if you’re sick or bed-bound to minimize muscle loss.
Example: So, if you weigh 150 pounds, this means the amount of protein you should eat is: 150 lbs (divided by 2.2 lbs per kilogram) = 68 kg; 68 kg X 1.2 grams of protein per kg of ideal body weight = 82 grams protein daily. For the maximum amount of protein, multiply 68 kg X 1.6 grams of protein per kg = 109 grams of protein per day
Where Do I Get Protein? Protein can be found in a wide range of foods. Animal protein is in seafood, dairy, meat, poultry and eggs. Vegetarian protein can be found in legumes, soy, vegetables and grains. And while it’s true that high-protein foods often bring fat and calories along as uninvited guests, it doesn’t have to be that way. The lowest-calorie animal protein sources are the leanest. Go for seafood, poultry with no skin, lean veal cuts, pork tenderloin, lean beef cuts such as the round or tenderloin or 95 percent lean hams (less than 3 grams of fat per ounce). Skim milk, nonfat yogurt, lowfat cheeses are also great options. Soy products also provide great low-calorie options and are high quality proteins similar to meat.
Toss four ounces of lean beef, chicken or seafood or 12 ounces of spiced tofu into your salad and gain 28 grams of high-quality protein and no more than 150 to 200 calories.
8 ounces milk/yogurt: 8 grams protein
1/2 cup cooked beans/tofu: 8 grams protein
1 ounce meat/fish/chicken/cheese (the leaner the meat,the more protein and the fewer calories): 7 grams protein
1 large egg: 7 grams protein
1/2 cup cooked or one ounce dry (1 slice bread) grain: 3 grams protein
1/2 cup cooked or one cup raw vegetables: 2 grams protein
3. Timing is Everything!
Eat a food or beverage high in protein 20 minutes before, and again, immediately after your strength training workout or after a vigorous cardiovascular workout, such as tennis, swimming, or kayaking, or even just a long walk. When you work out, you break down your muscles. Taking in protein when your muscles are being broken down and are metabolically active will build your muscle mass and strength more effectively. You also need to make sure you hydrate yourself properly!
My personal regimen includes drinking some skim milk before my workout – all you need is about 1/2 cup – and eating yogurt immediately after my workout or after yoga. If I forget the yogurt, I’ll run to the nearest coffee shop after my workout and buy a skim latte for my protein, which contains milk, or soy milk. But, I like yogurt the best: It contains important probiotics which keep your gastrointestinal tract healthy. It also contains high quality protein, carbohydrate, calcium, potassium and magnesium – important nutrients which you need to replenish your muscles. Eating immediately after your workout could have other benefits: It prevents the “extreme hungries” some people feel after heavy exercise, and it could prevent muscle cramps, according to a client who used to have muscle cramps regularly until she started eating yogurt after her exercise.
Current thinking among protein researchers is that protein is most bioavailable for your muscles (and your cells and organs) if eaten in relatively small quantities through the day. For women, 20 grams per meal is what the body can utilize efficiently. For men, that can go up to 30 grams per meal. So, with my personal protein goal being 60 grams per day, I’m sure to have about 20 grams in the morning, 20 grams mid-day and about 20 grams in the evening, as my body may not benefit from more at one sitting.
If you’re a man who needs 100 grams per day, you could spread out your protein intake through the day to 4 meals – separated by at least two hours – of about 25 grams each. So an 8 ounce steak at night, containing 56 grams of protein, just won’t cut it!
A new study found tea improves muscular strength. Tea? Apparently, as we age, oxidative stress and inflammation cause age-related muscle and bone breakdown. Tea’s healthy compounds, called “polyphenols,” reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, preventing this breakdown, and even improve muscular strength and bone mass. In a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, when post-menopausal women with osteopenia (the beginning of osteoporosis – brittle bones) were given tea and/or Tai Chi exercises, after six months, the tea alone caused an improvement in muscle strength and bone-building biomarkers. Learn more about the health benefits of tea… So did the Tai Chi alone – certainly not a rigorous or impactful exercise, which we’ve been taught all along was necessary for muscle and bone building! Apparently, Tai Chi also reduces inflammation and oxidative stress.
With the amazing results of this study in mind, it makes sense that any foods high in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, such as fruits and vegetables, may help improve bone and muscle strength. And, if Tai Chi helps improve bone and muscle mass, shouldn’t other forms of meditation or meditative exercise, such as yoga? More research is needed to establish the facts, but these results certainly are promising.
See more specifics of my own personal regimen below!
In the meantime, I’m drinking tea every day, doing vigorous yoga at least 2 to 3 times a week, working with a trainer once a week, walking A LOT to keep body fat down, at least 10,000 pedometer steps is a daily average, in my posture-improving MBT shoes, from Comfort One Shoe Store (ask for Manager, Shawn O’Neill), eating plenty of yogurt, and my own delicious batch recipes filled with healthy foods found in Diet Simple and Diet Simple Farm to Table Recipes (only $4.95) to keep my muscles and bones strong, and my body in shape!
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My clients regularly ask me: Could the height/weight charts in doctors’ offices be correct?
My answer: That depends…
(This article was also published in The Huffington Post)
Don’t use height/weight charts alone to determine your ideal body weight. Researchers designed the latest body mass index (BMI) charts for use in combination with additional personal information. A group of scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) who specialize in how weight affects health crafted the guidelines after reviewing hundreds of studies conducted over the past several decades — only then did the experts make their recommendations to health professionals.
The guidelines help physicians, and registered dietitians like me, evaluate and make recommendations for clients. But you can also use the BMI charts, along with your doctor’s advice, to help you decide what your appropriate weight should be.
- Determine your Body Mass Index (BMI), or the relationship between weight and height that researchers have associated with body fat and health risk. BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by height in meters squared (kg/m2). But there is a BMI chart (below) so you don’t have to make the calculation yourself!
- If you are categorized as “overweight,” it is ideal for you to lose weight. That said, weight loss treatment is particularly important – and recommended – when you have two or more health risk factors, such as smoking, inactivity. I would define “inactivity” as under 10,000 pedometer steps daily (averaged over a week), or any of the following: High blood pressure, low HDL (good) cholesterol, high LDL (bad) cholesterol, high triglycerides (blood fat), impaired fasting glucose, a family history of premature heart disease, or a high waist circumference – measured at the belly button – of greater than 35″ for women or 40″ for men. The presence of abdominal fat is correlated with disease risk. We used to think body fat was inert, but it isn’t, it’s toxic! Fat tissue produces hormones and pro-inflammatory chemicals, which regulate metabolism, the immune system, inflammation, the progression of artery hardening, and the development of cancers, so that when you have less body fat, you get many biological benefits.
- If you are categorized as “obese,” weight loss treatment is recommended,
- Your initial weight loss goal should be to reduce body weight by about 10% from your starting weight. This should take about six months, depending on how much you have to lose. You can lose one-half to three pounds per week safely (assuming your calorie intake is appropriate, the more cardiovascular exercise you do, the faster you can lose),
- If more weight loss is needed, another attempt at weight reduction can be made,
- After the desired weight loss is achieved, a weight maintenance program consisting of dietary therapy, physical activity, and behavior therapy should be continued indefinitely,
- You will need to follow lifestyle therapy for at least six months, according to the NIH guidelines, before your doctor prescribes drug therapy or surgery. Though the safety of drug therapy has not been established and 50% of surgery patients re-gain the weight,
- For the very obese, with a BMI over 40, or a BMI over 35 with significant adverse health conditions, obesity surgery may be an appropriate option.
NOTE: Highly muscular people, usually professional athletes or body builders, may register as “overweight,” but that may be because of high muscle mass, instead of fat. More muscle is not generally thought of as unhealthy, so if you’re categorized as “overweight” because you have more muscle, weight loss would not be recommended in these cases.
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I was asked by the newly launched Washington Post TV’s ”On Background” to discuss last week’s news reports of the first decline in childhood obesity in decades. Childhood obesity decreased in 19 states, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control data. This modest decline is nothing short of miraculous because overall, America’s food and physical activity environment seems worse than ever. Calorie-dense snack foods and fast foods are everywhere – easily and cheaply available. Children and adults spend even more time sitting in front of computers, televisions, in classrooms and cars than just a few years ago. This reversal means families, parents, caretakers, teachers, and schools are making huge efforts to overcome these negative influences.
Reversing obesity in our culture, where overweight is the norm (2 out of 3 adults and 1 out of 3 children are overweight or obese), takes effort ; it’s not an accident! Adults are making better – harder – choices for children. Americans may be slowly internalizing the need for healthy eating and exercise. Just as smoking was once considered normal adult behavior, we’re gradually realizing that mindful meals and physical activity must be made a societal norm. And that’s great news… for children, for their families, and for our country, which spends billions of dollars annually on obesity and its related diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more.
“Obese children are more likely to become obese adults and suffer lifelong physical and mental health problems,” according to the CDC. “Obesity rates in low-income preschoolers, after decades of rising, began to level off from 2003 through 2008 and now are showing small declines. However, too many preschoolers are [still] obese,” continued the report.
Some reasons given for the successful reversal of obesity:
It seems small, simple changes have been responsible for this amazing improvement in the health of children. The power of small changes is described in my Diet Simple chapter: “Easy Solutions for Your Kids,” with tons of ideas easily integrated into your family life. Just adding fruits and/or vegetables at each meal or 15 extra minutes of daily physical activity can make a huge difference in a child’s health and weight. For fun, easy recipes and tips, buy Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations, and for more recipes, buy Diet Simple Farm to Table Recipes.
Katherine Featured on CBS Evening News, 2010