Thursday, February 26, 2009

Is it true? Alcohol is not good us anymore.

According to a new study being published March 4 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute even one drink a day, a single beer, glass of wine or any other type of alcoholic drink increases the risk of a variety of cancers.
The study involving nearly 1.3 million middle-aged British women -- the largest study ever to examine alcohol and cancer in women -- found that unlike other studies that suggest alcohol reduces the risk of heart disease or dementia, one drink can do harm. Naomi E. Allen of the University of Oxford led the study and said, "If you are regularly drinking even one drink per day, that's increasing your risk for cancer."
Some counter that there were some flaws in the study, one being that it did not distinguish between heavy drinkers and light drinkers, but others claim the study was well done. At this point it will be incorporated into the body of research and as the federal guidelines are being revised this study will be markedly considered.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Calcium and Vitamin D

Start taking your Vitamin D particulary if you live north of San Francisco or any other place above that horizontal line. The research strongly supports its value as a supplement. Vitamin D helps calcium build bones, but it also acts hormonally and kicks into action when needed. Research shows that Vitamin D decreases the risk of cancer, infections and metabolic syndrome. It does this because it prompts the production of an antimicrobial substance that acts like a natural antibiotic or an antiviral to destroy harmful cells. As well no evidence shows a negative effect of taking as much as 2,000 IU s per day. Calcium is necessary to protect bones, teeth and blood pressure. Food sources of calcium and Vitamin D include fortified milk products, salmon and mackeral and fortified cereals. But take a supplement to ensure enough and enjoy the benefits of good health.Check out Sally Squire's article on Vitamin D in the Washington Post. It is excellent.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Boosting serotonin through diet

Today I started a young client on a Serotonin boosting diet in order to help her lose weight, feel better and avoid binging on carbohydrates. The diet was developed by Judith Wurtman, PhD who studied this phenomenom at MIT in the 1980s. Wurtman works with Nina Frusztajer Marquis, MD and they run a clinic called Adara.
The diet is simple and low in overall calories. The morning meal contains protein, carbohydrates and fruit. The snack is high in carbohyrates eaten one hour before lunch. Lunch contains protein, and vegetables and the next snack eaten 3-4 hours after lunch should be high in carbohydrates. Dinner consists of carbohrates and vegetables and an evening snack is made up of carbohydrates.

So far my client has struggled a bit as she sorted through the options for snacks. She also reported being very hungry. Her dinner was bigger than usual because she prepared a heaping plate of pasta with veggies and a salad and then she was satisfied

We will follow this over time and see if it helps. The first phase as described above is a two week deal.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

one day at a time

Weight control and eating well are things many of us must do for the rest of our lives one day at a time.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Keeping track of what you eat

How do we track what we eat? Our old brains calculate, but we miss things. We ignore anything we drink and we give extra credit to what we chew. We eat to survive and have gotten this far evolutionary because our ancestors had excellent appetites. The weak eaters did not survive. Yet in our wealthy, wonderful America food is plentiful and much of it is full of empty calories. These foods, white and sugary and salty and sweet, trigger our appetites but offer little in return and are best avoided. Generally processed and full of cheap fats, they line the inner aisle of any grocery store and they are easy to eat.
Yet even if we avoid processed foods we often still eat too much. How do we control ourselves? One very successful way is to set goals and track intake by recording in a food journal. Self monitoring allows us to compare actual behaviors to ideal behaviors. We are very motivated to live up to our ideal behaviors particulary if someone is checking on our progress. That is why I love small group work and support groups offer. So set your goals, track your progress and share your progress with someone else. It works.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Resting well

Rest well for good health.
Sleep as much as you need. Most adults need 7-8 hours a night, but you might need more or Well rested adults make hormones in the gut that decrease appetite.

Want to sleep better?
Try these tips
A hot bath with Epsom salts and lavender.
A few drops of jasmine in the bath to help relax. Used as a tea, it's a mild nerve sedative.
Limit caffeine, alcohol and screen time a few hours before bed.
Check your iron level. Iron deficient women tend to have more problems sleeping.
Try using Valerian and chamomile tea.

Bedtime snacks
Snacks high in complex carbs and a bit of protein are great before bed. Try these:
· A bowl of oatmeal or cereal & low-fat milk.
· Yogurt with granola sprinkled on top.
· WW toast or crackers with peanut butter, 1 ounce of cheese or a slice of deli turkey
· Chamomile tea with hot milk, or hot milk with a splash of vanilla or sprinkle of cinnamon.
Hot milk has a protein that may improve sleep quality and alertness the next day.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chef MD

A friend called me tonight with this tip. Check out Chef MD, a site developed by a physician who loves food and nutrition.

John La Pluma MD integrates nutrition, medicine and food. A great recipe for berries and pancakes sites a study that showed that berries can help prevent esophageal cancer in people with Barrett's esophagus, a pre-cancerous condition. He writes in his newsletter, "In the study, women ate 1 ounce and men ate 1.5 ounces of freeze-dried black raspberries every day for 26 weeks. Over half of the patients had less oxidative stress and DNA damage, which can lead to cancer, than before they started. Some people also had more protective enzymes called GSTpi, which help detoxify carcinogens and oxidants."

Good info and a good recipe. I like the idea. Check it out.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Nutrients and Disease

What is the relationship between nutrients and disease? There are some correlations today but when we look at food as medicinal the potential for a relationship is greater than than ever. For example in today's NYT's a clear relationship between a deficiency of Vitamin D and asthma is clarified.

There are many other diet and health relationships with strong scientific support. A low glycemic index diet for epilepsy. There is much information about the effecacy of this and glycemic indexes are readily available online.

Fish oils and flaxseed oil supplements have strong support from the scientific community.

The evidence for the medicinal benefits of berries got Tara Parker-Pope's attention and made the NYT.

Parker-Pope also describes how eating the Mediterranean diet appears to lower risk for mental decline according to research published in Archives for Neurology.

Yet though we know so much, as well as that 30% of American adults are overweight or obese with only 1 of 50 states boasting a lower rate, still insurance companies pay very little for preventative care and health education. Roni Caryn Rabin, of the NYT, reports on a survey that found health scares reduce smoking but not weight. Rabin quotes Sherry Pagoto, an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, who co-wrote an editorial accompanying the paper. Pagoto believes physician counceling does not have much impact and “The evidence for behavioral weight loss treatment suggests an intensive program is necessary."

Oddly, there is little money for prevention but this might end as we change our priorities in America.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Outwitting Appetite

Are you really hungry? Outwit your appetite.

Eat protein for breakfast. It takes about 4 hours for protein to digest so it literally stays with you longer than carbohydrates. Researchers at St. Louis University gave overweight women two eggs and toast and they ended up eating 267 fewer calories during the day than the group given half as much protein.

Get enough sleep. When we are tired we produce a hormone called ghrelin in our gut that increases our appetites. When we are rested we produce leptin, a hormone that decreases our appetites.

Keep foods out of sight. Brian Wansink, PhD and food psychologist from Cornell believes if food is in front of us we eat it. It doesn’t matter if it is a warm batch of chocolate chip cookies or pieces of cabbage when we see it, we eat it, quite unconsciously. Keep foods off the counters, out of sight and out of your house or freeze it.

Do something else so you think about something else. Leave the kitchen, keep your fingers busy, chew gum, take a walk, call a friend… Use a smaller plate. The more food in front of us the more we eat. At a restaurant spilt the meal or pack up half. You can also cover the plate with your napkin so you don’t keep picking while you wait for the bill. Sit down when you snack. . If you use utensils and a plate instead of snacking from a bag you'll eat fewer calories at subsequent meals.Limit your choices. Wansink finds more variety encourages a greater intake of calories which is why so many of us overeat at buffets.
Take a drink of water. Sometimes the feeling of hunger masks true thirst.

Limit the number of food episodes. Remember the taste of cookie dough or the slices of cheese are calories that add up without notice.

Trust your taste buds and eat a varied and diverse diet that is high in nutrients and low in calories.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Are you ever really hungry?

Are You Really Hungry?

Have you ever really been hungry? Hopefully not, because hunger is a dangerous thing which is why we resist it so much despite our abundant lives. Today in America only 1 of 50 states can boast that less than 30 % of citizens are overweight. We clearly eat enough, yet we still worry about hunger and resist it.

What is hunger and how does it feel? There are many kinds of hunger. There is true physical hunger or starvation. There is emotional hunger, a growling stomach hunger, a low blood sugar hunger and hunger for the next meal. Hunger pangs are triggered by the sight and smell of cooking soups or baked bread. They are triggered by habit and time and place. Hunger is triggered by memory and thirst. Sorting it out is crucial to knowing what you need and how much. Determining bad habits, changing them and curbing behaviors is key. Knowing the difference between thirst, emotional hunger and stomach pains helps.

Here are a few facts to ponder. First, in America most of us are over nourished rather than undernourished. Second many times when we know we have eaten enough but still feel hungry we might be thirsty. As well, emotional hunger is a strong pull to overeat, but as we eat our bodies adjust making more stomach juices and readying the system for more to come. Each time we overeat we get better at overeating. Finally, when our blood sugar drops as they do for most of us once in a while, a simple snack of only 10 calories will decrease symptoms. If you are prediabetic or diabetic balancing this mechanism is far more complicated requiring insulin injections or medications to help sugars into the cells.

Hunger is okay once in a while. It is good for our appetites. Food tastes better when we are hungry. Eating is more pleasurable on an empty stomach. So, when you overeat and feel full remember this pain and think of hunger as the reward. There is plenty of food out there waiting to be eaten.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Modifying behavior and changing habits

What is the best way to change behavior and how long does it take? Does it take 21 days or 3 months? The amount of time it takes varies but the stages are well documented. The desire for change crosses your mind, then you make up your mind to do it. You act and then keep acting. Many people make up their minds to lose weight, eat better or increase exercise. But, so many gain it back, revert to old ways and stop going to the gym.

Why do so many lose motivation and revert to old ways?
We know that the longer you do something, and the more often you do it then the sooner it becomes a habit. In fact any setback makes it easier to have another setback. So staying on track is a daily event. That is why I encourage people to find a group with whom they can talk, walk and encourage one another.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The trick....

The trick to life is to like where you are, according to my meditation teacher

The trick is to like where you are.
The trick is to like where I am.
The trick is to like life.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ask the nutritionist?

What do you think about fish oil supplements?

Fish oils contain long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids; most important are the omega-3 fatty acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA and docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA which is believed to play a central role in the development of the infant brain and nervous system. Studies have consistently found that children with A.D.H.D. have low blood levels of DHA, and a small number of recent clinical trials have reported improvements in children’s learning and behavioral problems after fish oil therapy.

A study in Oxford-Durham Britain, published in the journal Pediatrics in 2005, reported remarkable improvements in reading and spelling among children treated with omega-3 fatty acids. The Mayo clinic reports that fish oil supplements also can help lower blood pressure and triglycerides.

Most health care providers suggest 1,000 milligrams of combined DHA and EPA daily for a child, and up to 2,000 milligrams for an adult, but they say they adjust the amounts depending on weight.

Some experts recommend higher doses to get the full therapeutic effect, but there are risks. Fish oil is a blood thinner and can interfere with clotting and cause excessive bleeding, which can be dangerous. Doctors say anyone with a family history of a bleeding disorder should avoid it, so ask your doctor first before taking any supplement.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I matter but I don't

The ego is a telling and powerful thing. The actions presented in honor of the ego are often strong, positive or self defacing depending on how one feels about oneself. The problems we see as incurable, life crippling or woeful are inconsequential to others expect maybe our mothers. Yet since they are so immediately involved in the making of us perhaps it is there egos that react so strongly. With this in mind I wonder at the workings of the world and the simplicity of the statement, "I matter, but I don't." Because frankly we all matter, but we don't. And I think with a small bit of insight most of us recognize it at this juncture on our evolutionary road.

Today as our economy stumbles and erratic weather patterns threaten stability we need all our senses clear and insights tight to save our world. Delayed by 8 years of silliness and money making we are hoisted from our sleep and dragged to the cliff. They say we have 11 years until , the worst happens. Will we starve, die of thirst or crumble? I am sure the 200 year supply of water below the Paragueyan land masses owned by George W and Reverand Moon will exceed their current worth. They made fortunes off our silliness and money spending and stand to make even more since they hold title to land underwhich lies the key to life.

Yet, I anyomously sit here seeing the trends and feeling powerless to really change the slope because I don't really matter. My new favorite lawyer/teacher Elizabeth Warren a professor of law from Harvard who heads the oversight board of the TARP, undertands. She understands the tiny, the inconsiquential. She advocates for the family unit. Barack Obama "gets it" too. Michelle is vouching for him.

But I am most intriqued by Adam Werbach, a lifelong enviornmentalist, who traumatized the green movement when he announced at a Commonwealth club meeting that, "environmentalism is dead." Instead he choose to work with the enemy and to teach Walmart's 1.3 million U.S. employees about sustainability. Wal-Mart became Werbach's lab to make teach this group to make sustainability personal. The program called the Personal Sustainability Project or PSP is simple. People pick one part of their lives that seem "unsustainable" and then develop a plan to fix it. Werbach's message is we all matter and by teaching Wal-Mart workers about sustainability while encouraging personal participation the results can be big changes; changes that matter to everyone.

I take much from his example that I apply to my own life. Limit my personal carbon footprint; encourage others by example and support the larger body through small changes. And I like looking at it this way because then I matter.

See these links for information about Werbach, Walmart and Blue

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Weight Debate

Research now supports a theory long debunked by doctors and dietitians. What we eat versus what we expend does not result in the same weight loss for every person. The idea that burning 3,500 calories equals one pound lost no longer rings true. Jeffrey Friedman, an obesity expert at Rockefeller University believes that balancing our weight is more difficult that we think.

Mathematically, shouldn't it work out that if I walk 20 minutes a day and burn 100 calories, I will lose a pound in 35 days? Science says no. It is very hard to calculate calorie input and output every day since most calorie guides and portion control techniques are estimates. But as we learn about the brain we see how much control it exerts over appetite and intake as well. There are also hormonal and other physiological mechanisms that keep us from losing weight. When we force out bodies to lose weight nature reacts in an attempt to protect us from it. This desire for stability enables us to skip a meal or fast for a while without losing weight. If we burn an extra 100 calories a day we end up making up for it by eating a little more the next day without even knowing it. We resist weight loss as a protective mechanism and Dr. Friedman believes this system, “operates with 99.6 percent precision.”

What do we do? Well, the first step is to understand that willpower alone can not help you lose weight and keep it off. Secondly since we commonly underestimate what we eat keeping a food journal keeps you honest. Finally, find support. You are not alone in this. The rise in overweight and obese adults in the United States rose to 66%. There is good news, however. Once you lose weight and if you continue to monitor it, your body will relax and stay there for a while.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Losing weight is harder than we think

Americans are getting fatter and the conventional wisdom may not be helping. Scientists are clear that the "so-called" facts about obesity are oversimplified. Of course, diet and exercise matter. What goes in and out does influence storage. Yet, scientists now know that body composition, genetic tendencies and hormones influence our waistlines. Willpower is only a piece of the puzzle.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as many as 65 percent of Americans are overweight or obese today. Yet, the risks are growning. The American diet is not without blame but banning junk foods and disclosing caloric values on labels may not be the answer. In fact the rise in obesity may have more to do with our sedentary life styles than diets high in junk food.

But losing weight is harder than gaining so eating well during the process protects our bodies and brains. Below are the suggestions proven my research to help people lose weight.
Eat 5-6 small meals daily. Or eat no more than 4 times a day.
Eat breakfast every morning.

Eat lean protein at every meal.

Eat vegetables or fruit at every meal. Fill ½ your dinner plate with vegetables.

Drink enough fluid. Choose water, sparkling water, and unsweetened iced green, black or herb teas. Add lemon, lime or a bit of berry juice for flavor. Enjoy a cup or two of coffee or tea with low-fat milk. Avoid sweet drinks of all kinds, including juice and sports drinks.

Avoid processed foods made with white grains and white sugar. For a sweet tooth have a piece of dark chocolate and a few nuts. Choose chocolate with 70% or more cocoa butter.

Benefit from red wine or other alcohol by drinking it with meals. Daily recommendation: One 5 oz glass for women and two 5 oz glasses for men.

Take your supplements everyday.

Journal. People who journal lose weight.

Exercise 5-6 days a week. Start slow…

Join a weight loss group or start one with friends.