Vitamin D Boosts Muscle Strength, Power & Velocity While Lowering Body Fat

Sunrise

A new study reports that Vitamin D effects certain genes which are involved in muscle and fat mass and function. This could mean there is an important yet simple solution to the natural decline of muscle as we age, which could have many benefits – decreasing disease, falls, broken bones, and subsequent hospital and nursing home stays.

As we age, muscle mass and strength decrease, to the point where our muscles actually become “marbled” with fat (think bacon!), reducing their ability to function and our ability to live independent lives, according to the National Institute on Aging. That’s because muscle mass is essential for movement, balance, and even immune function. So if we don’t strength train as older adults, we’re more likely to lose our independence and end up in nursing homes, creating a massive public health burden, according to the study published in the journal PLOS ONE, and partly funded by the National Institutes of Health.

That said, we’ve known for years, and I’ve written about, the importance of working out, eating the right amount of protein, carbohydrate and fat, eating an anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative diet filled with plant nutrients like polyphenols, (found in tea, fruits & vegetables), and living a low stress life. But there are other factors which come into play that scientists are studying. One may be Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin.

In the past several years, researchers are finding that Vitamin D may be instrumental in preventing diseases from colds, heart disease to cancer. Even multiple sclerosis, parkinson’s disease and insulin dependent diabetes. And now, Vitamin D seems to be correlated with an increase in muscle mass and a decrease in body fat. Yet the most needy population, the elderly, is usually deficient. That’s because Vitamin D is produced by being exposed to sunshine. Today, many of us don’t go outdoors and when we do we’re wearing sunscreen. That particularly pertains to the aging population, whose muscle mass can mean independence – or the loss of it.

How much Vitamin D does improving muscle mass require? That should be up to your doctor. But, the usual recommendation from Vitamin D scientists is 1,000 IU per day but up to 4,000 daily is safe (Vitamin D can be toxic at much higher levels)… Most of us will need to get Vitamin D from a supplement because it’s in very few foods (egg yolks, salmon) and most of us don’t get enough sunlight. This level is much higher than authorities at the National Academy of Sciences’ Food and Nutrition Board have been recommending for decades. That’s because they determine how much Vitamin D is needed to prevent rickets (a Vitamin D deficiency disease which softens the bones), as opposed to how much is good for your overall health. The NAS believe that more definitive research needs to be done to change their recommendation. In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt for healthy people to increase their vitamin D intake to up to 4,000 IU daily.

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A New Diet Strategy for the New Year: Semi-Fasting

PowerPackedALmondMapleOatmeal

When it comes to dieting, I’ve heard everything, tried everything and studied everything. The challenge is always: How do you eat fewer calories than you need to lose weight and avoid starving? I’ve discovered in my 25+ years of practice that for weight loss to last, the diet must be enjoyable, flexible, healthy, and fit into busy lifestyles. That means fad diets or extremely strict or punishing diets are best avoided. The results just can’t last. And the studies back me up.

Instead, I’ve found certain personalized “strategies,” can really work for lasting results. One of my favorites right now is what I call a “semi-fast.” How it’s done depends on my clients’ lifestyle, abilities and preferences.

I used to believe that fasting was to be avoided as it lowers metabolism and could lead to bingeing. But new studies and my clients’ experiences have changed my opinion – 180 degrees. Nutrition and solving weight problems is a constantly evolving science and I’m always looking for easy ways for people to manage being at their ideal weight and be happy – and healthy, of course.

I first heard about the success of the “semi-fast” at an American Institute for Cancer Research conference. Cancer researchers are always looking for successful weight loss techniques since body fat is one of the most potent cancer risk factors. A British study divided women into two groups: One group was on a consistently low calorie plan. That is, they ate the same amount of calories daily, about 1,200. The other group ate more daily calories – say, 1,500 –  but they cut their calorie intake in half twice a week. The study results were amazing. The group that fasted twice a week were more successful. They enjoyed their diet more, were more likely to stick with it, and achieve lasting results.

I always give my clients the option and we decide the best way to go about it together. One of the most successful ways is to fast in the evening. The way I recommend doing it is to eat about 2/3 of your calorie needs before the evening and then skip dinner, or stick with something very low calorie such as a veggies, yogurt or fruit. The two nights of fasting allows you to eat a more enjoyable diet, it can undo damage done during the week, and a growing body of evidence shows calorie restricting reduces disease and extends life. There are many theories to explain this and one is that a lower metabolism causes less oxidation, cell proliferation (cancer), and decreases harmful chemicals and hormones in your body.

There have also been studies showing that eating most of your calories during the day and less at night is more likely to aid weight loss. One of the keys to the semi-fast is to find two nights when fasting would be easier. One of my clients fasts on nights her husband is traveling, when she isn’t faced with eating a full meal with him. Another has just decided that every Monday and Tuesday night she doesn’t eat – and she lost 50 pounds before her wedding and has kept it off.

I personally have used this strategy most of my adult life, before knowing about the studies. My motto since the 1980s has been “Light at Night,” and it works!

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Meal Timing’s Influence on Weight Loss

400px-biological_clock_human-svg

I’ve written a lot about how factors beyond calories – such as meal size, balance, and timing – affect your ability to lose weight and improve your health. A new study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirms what I’ve observed during the 20-plus years of my personalized nutrition counseling practice. And that is, having your larger meal at dinner or at lunch can make the difference between losing and not losing weight, even if the same food – and the same calories – are eaten.

This clinical trial – the gold standard type of study, because it controls all conditions so it can determine a cause and effect – took 80 randomly assigned healthy overweight or obese women and fed one group a larger meal at lunch and a smaller meal at dinner for twelve weeks. The second group was given the opposite condition: a smaller meal at dinner and a larger meal at lunch.

The groups experienced significantly different results. While both groups lost weight, the small dinner group lost more weight. They also achieved a lower fasting insulin and improved insulin resistance, a precurser to diabetes. Your insulin level is important for your health. Higher insulin levels correlate with a higher rate of heart attack and colon cancer – and possibly other cancers – as it is considered a “growth factor,” which increases cellular proliferation in the body.

“Light at night” has been my mantra since I first started working with clients, though it was poo poo’d by so many of my colleagues and doctors through the years. Well, science is finally starting to catch up with my recomendations!

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A Lethal, Cancer-Causing Bacteria Killed by Yogurt and Kefir

Inhibition of F. nucleatum by natural kefir, probiotic yogurt, commercial yogurt and commercial kefir samples

Inhibition of F. nucleatum by natural kefir, probiotic yogurt, commercial yogurt and commercial kefir samples

You’ve all heard about the health benefits of the probiotic bacteria found in yogurt and other similar fermented dairy products such as kefir. This recently published study provides more evidence of yogurt cultures’ actions against serious disease-causing pathogens, such as Fusobacterium nucleatum.

F. nucleatum can cause diseases in the mouth, teeth, brain, pleura, lungs and liver. It induces fetal death in pregnant women and can lead to colon cancer by binding to the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, according to a recent study in the journal, Functional Foods in Health and Disease.

In this study, when yogurt and kefir were added to a petri dish filled with F. nucleatum and incubated for 3 days, there appeared clear zones where the yogurt and kefir were placed. Thus showing inhibition of the growth of F. nucleatum. Interestingly, the plain milk used for the yogurt and kefir did not show an inhibitory effect, but the higher the concentration of the kefir and yogurt probiotic bacteria, the more F. nucleatum’s growth was inhibited.

“Previous studies have indicated that fermented dairy products can cause probiotic effects such as improvement in digestive system health, serum cholesterol reduction, and improvement in lactose tolerance, improved immune function, control of irritable bowel symptoms, as well as anticarcinogenic properties. Kefir is known to have positive effects on health and especially intestinal health. Therefore, these findings are important for showing an inhibition effect of fermented dairy products against a pathogen and possible carcinogen. These results suggest that regular consumption of natural fermented dairy products especially kefirshould be included in a functional diet. The impact of these cultured dairy products could be promising and warrants further investigation with in vivo studies,” according to the authors of the study.

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Fresh Kale and Summer Peach Salad with Toasted Almonds and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Kale Peach Salad - bestThe local peaches at this year’s farmers’ markets are exceptional: sweet, juicy, flavorful. This recipe is a perfect way to feature them at any gathering. And it’s always a favorite! Excerpted from my book: Diet Simple Farm to Table Recipes: 50 New Reasons to Cook in Season!

Serves 6

 Vinaigrette:
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

 Salad Ingredients:
6 Handfuls of fresh Kale (or other greens), washed, tough stems removed, and torn into bite-sized pieces
2 Cups Fresh Sliced Summer Peaches and/or any seasonal Berries
2 Ounces toasted slivered Almonds
½ Sweet Onion, peeled and sliced

In a large bowl, add the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Whisk together. Add the kale, onion, almonds, and peaches and toss together. Serve immediately.

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13 Steps to Survive the Summer Heat

Intravenous Feeding is Often Needed to Recover From Heat Stroke

Intravenous Feeding is Often Needed to Recover From Heat Stroke

I was alarmed the other day when a client texted me that he had lost 5 pounds after running. He is an athletic 200 pound man, but heavy water loss, caused by running in this heat, could have serious consequences. The worst: death by heat stroke.

Before a heat stroke occurs, people show signs of exhaustion, weakness, perhaps headaches and dizziness. My client was so weak, he couldn’t finish his run.

How does your body’s system break down to cause heat stroke?

Normally, water carries heat away from your internal organs. The heat travels through your bloodstream to your skin, causing you to sweat, preventing serious damage to occur. As the sweat evaporates, this allows you to cool off and maintain a safe body temperature, optimal functioning, and health.

But when the fluid in your blood runs out of water, your body’s core literally starts cooking, you stop sweating and organs begin to breakdown.

Daily water intake must be balanced with losses to maintain total body water. Once you start feeling thirsty, you’ve probably lost about 1 percent of your body water and are dehydrated. With a 2 percent water loss, you could experience serious fatigue and cardiovascular impairments. It’s important to note that individual fluid needs differ depending on your sweat rate, the environmental temperature, your clothing, humidity and other factors.

Hydration tips

As summer temperatures hit, here are a number of important tips.

– Drink enough water to prevent thirst.

– Monitor fluid loss by checking the color of your urine. It should be pale yellow and not dark yellow, too smelly or cloudy.

– For short-duration (less than 60 minutes), low-to-moderate-intensity activity, water is a good choice to drink before, during and after exercise.

– Any time you exercise in extreme heat or for more than one hour, supplement water with a sports drink that contains electrolytes and 6 percent to 8 percent carbohydrates. This prevents “hyponatremia” (low blood sodium), which dilutes your blood and could also lead to serious impairment and death.

– Begin exercise well-hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids the day before and within the hour before, during and after your exercise session.

– Avoid alcohol the day before or the day of a long exercise bout, and avoid exercising with a hangover.

– Consider all fluids, including tea, coffee, juices, milk and soups (though excluding alcohol, which is extremely dehydrating). The amount of caffeine in tea and coffee does not discount the fluid in them, even if they have a slight diuretic effect, according to the most recent report by the National Research Council’s Food and Nutrition Board.

– Eat at least five cups of fruits and vegetables per day for optimum health, as they all contain various levels of water and the all-important nutrient potassium.

– During exercise, for those who experience high sodium losses, eat salty foods in a pre-exercise meal or add an appropriate amount of salt to sports drinks consumed during exercise. Orange juice is high in potassium. Dilute juices, such as V-8 or orange juice, 50/50 with water so that the drinks are 6 percent carbohydrate solutions (the same as sports drinks), which will empty from your stomach quicker than 100 percent juice (juices are naturally 12 percent solutions), allowing the electrolytes and water to quickly reach your heart and organs.

– Following strenuous exercise, you need more: Protein to build muscle, carbohydrates to refuel muscle, electrolytes to replenish what’s lost in sweat, and fluids to help rehydrate the body. Low-fat chocolate milk is a perfect, natural replacement that fills those requirements.

– You can also replace fluid and sodium losses with watery foods that contain salt and potassium, such as soup and vegetable juices.

– For long hikes, when you’ll need food, dried fruit and nut mixtures contain high amounts of potassium, sodium, protein, carbs and calories — though continue to drink plenty of water.

– To determine your individualized need for fluid replacement: During heavy exercise, weigh yourself immediately before and after exercise. If you see an immediate loss of weight, you’ve lost valuable water. Drink 3 cups of fluid for every pound lost; use this figure to determine the amount of water (or sports drink) you’ll need to drink before and during your next exercise session to prevent weight/water loss in the future.

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Cured Red Meats Increase Risk of Many Cancers

 

 

You might want to cut back on the cold cuts, bacon and other processed meats. The World Health Organization is out with a new report that says cured meats and red meat increase the risk of colon and stomach cancer.

A group of 22 scientists from the IARC,The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, evaluated more than 800 studies from several continents about meat and cancer. The studies looked at more than a dozen types of cancer in populations with diverse diets over the past 20 years.

Based on that analysis, the IARC classified processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans,” noting links in particular to colon cancer. It said red meat contains some important nutrients, but still labeled it “probably carcinogenic,” with links to colon, prostate and pancreatic cancers.

 

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A Creamy Peach & Ginger Surprise

Peaches & Cream

Peaches & Cream

Fresh, juicy peaches are in season and I have a new peach recipe you’ll love. Surprise: It’s made with Greek Yogurt (though it tastes like cream). Try it and your taste buds will zing! This amazing recipe was developed by the CHOBANI Company’s French-trained chefs, and I got a chance to watch a demonstration with a tasting. This is a lovely dessert containing all the health benefits of yogurt and peaches! Your family and guests will be delighted!

CHOBANI

Peach + Ginger

Yields four, 4 oz servings

INGREDIENTS

2 cups Chobani Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
2 tsp. candied ginger, small dice 4 tbsp. toasted almonds, sliced
2 tsp. fresh thyme, picked
2 tbsp. honey
1 cup Peach and Ginger Compote

PEACH AND GINGER COMPOTE INGREDIENTS

4 yellow peaches, peeled, cored, small dice
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar

METHOD

  1. Cook peaches, ginger, lemon juice, and sugar for 20 minutes or until tender. Let cool completely.
  2. Scoop 1/2 cup of yogurt into each of 4 bowls. Top each bowl of yogurt with 1/4 cup peach
    and ginger compote, 1/2 tsp candied ginger, 1 tbsp toasted almonds and drizzle with 1/2 tbsp of honey. Garnish with thyme.110 calories per serving, 0 Fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 35 mg sodium, 17 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 8 grams protein

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Your Eating Routine Affects Your Metabolism, Appetite, Body Fat and Blood Glucose

Photo: American Dietetic Association

Photo: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Would you say you’re an organized or disorganized eater? You know, are you a regular 3-square-meals-a-day person? Or, do you eat at different times, depending on your schedule or how you feel? New research has found that your answer to these questions can change the rate at which your body burns calories (metabolism), your appetite, and even your blood sugar levels, all of which affect the amount of calories you eat and your ability to maintain or lose body fat.

The study, published in this month’s American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, gave two groups of women either a regular meal pattern or an irregular meal pattern, then reversed the conditions for each group. What they found confirmed what I have observed over my 25-plus years of clinical practice: A regular meal pattern, ie, three meals and 3 snacks per day, increased metabolism, lowered appetite, and even reduced blood sugar levels after meals.

As I’ve said for many years, planning and eating regular meals is one of the most important factors contributing to weight loss success. Conversely, undereating and poor planning are major causes of overeating. Eating on a whim – or catch-as-catch-can – sets you up for failure in so many ways. And now, according to this study, it’s official and not just my own observation!

Read more about how to fix your disorganized eating in my book, Diet Simple…

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What is a “Healthy” or “Natural” Food? Katherine Explains on NBC News

What is a “healthy” food? Everyone has their own opinion! “We used to believe sugary cereals were fine, as long as they were fortified with certain vitamins and minerals [according to the Food & Drug Administration’s definition],” I told Tom Costello, NBC Nightly News Correspondent on the NBC Nightly News on May 11.

But that definition was based on 30-year-old standards when “low fat” was the science of the day. And today, “some of the healthiest foods on the planet are high in fat,” I told Costello on The Today Show on May 12.

The FDA sets standards for labels indicating the food’s fat, saturated fat, sodium, cholesterol and nutrient content, and whether or not a food qualifies, and can be labeled as: “Healthy.” Since nutrition is an evolving science, some of those standards have changed, and the FDA is in the process of revising them.

For instance, when a company produces a product, say, a granola or a snack which contains nuts – which we know today are healthy, but high in fat – the word “healthy” cannot be on the label, as the FDA guidelines have not caught up with today’s science that some fats are actually good for you.

But that does not mean that we should trash everything we ever learned about. It is still important to balance our lives with fruits and vegetables, exercise, and keeping our calorie needs in mind. Healthy fats, such as those in nuts, avocadoes, olive oil, salmon, and certain fried foods and dressings, are important, but that isn’t a license to binge, or … to fear and abstain from any foods containing sugar – fruit, 100% fruit juice, sweet vegetables like carrots, milk, and yogurt (even with fruit on the bottom!).

Balance is everything! Eating sugar-free is just as unhealthy as eating fat-free. Avoiding foods containing any hint of sugar, and even natural sugar, I believe, will be the next diet fad you’ll want to avoid!

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