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June 11, 2008

Healthy Living: Staying Cool this Summer

Jakes_bar_mitzvah_sept_2005_037_5The heat wave in the East broke last night to an awful lightning storm, but compared to the weather troubles in the mid-section of this country, we have no complaints. It's a beautiful breezy morning here in Vermont -- the type that we're renowned for. Will be a beautiful day and I intend to get out in it.

Still, I'm under no illusions that I won't be facing a few more hot, muggy days this summer. We do get a couple of weeks a summer of them here in Vermont...again, nothing compared to the rest of the country. And I'm off to Florida for a family wedding tomorrow, and I'm thanking the heavens there is such a thing as air conditioning.

For those who aren't as lucky as us folks at our women's healthy weight loss center Green Mountain at Fox Run with our Vermont summers, here are a few tips for keeping your healthy living routine in hot, inclement weather . They're taken from a former fitness specialist at Green Mountain -- Sarah of Outside In Fitness in the Washington, DC area. Sarah recommends:

- Wear light-colored loose-fitting clothes made of high-tech breathable fabrics.
- Wear sunscreen.
- Stay out of the sun between noon and 4 pm.
- Stay on shady paths when walking, running, biking or whatever.
- Stay hydrated -- that means plenty of fluid.
- Watch for signs of heat-related illness -- dizziness, nausea, headache, muscle cramps, and get help immediately.

Stay active this summer but stay cool! Here are some other tips for summertime fitness from Green Mountain.

Posted by Marsha on June 11, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 10, 2008

Healthy Eating - Sweet, Sweet Strawberries!

So what’s growing fresh on the vine in California and being shipped to markets all over America? You guessed it – strawberries! Like all fresh fruit, strawberries can be expensive, but not as expensive as some other berries. If you haven’t put a big, fresh, ripe strawberry in your mouth in a while – do it. You may be very surprised how satisfying they are. Dipped in a little dark chocolate and you have a scrumptious healthy treat.354949_chocolate_strawberries_01_2

Strawberries are fragile fruits, and you have to treat them nicely to get the best result. They need to be kept cool once you get them home, and don’t wash or cap them until you’re ready to use them. Not that it really matters, because they’re just good eatin’, but one cup of sliced strawberries has only 50 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, and almost 4 grams of fiber and are filled with high levels of the phytochemicals.

Whenever possible look into buying your produce locally. This way you make sure to get the freshest and best produce. It's helping local agriculture stay viable and adds to our quality of life in your region.

For more on how to buy fresh fruits read what the USDA has to say here.

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Posted by Cindy on June 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 09, 2008

Weight Loss: Serotonin's Role in Weight Loss

A  brain chemical strongly linked to mood and appetite may also directly affect fat gain, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.

They said levels of serotonin, the nerve-signaling chemical targeted by many antidepressants, may also direct the body to put down fat regardless of how much food is eaten.

"It may be one reason diets fail," metabolism expert Kaveh Ashrafi of the University of California, San Francisco, who led the study, said in a telephone interview.

The findings, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, could lead to better diet drugs and treatments for diseases like diabetes.

Serotonin may help the body decide whether to burn off excess calories, or store them as fat, Ashrafi said.

He worked with roundworms for his experiment but said the findings may relate to humans. "These worms, although they are microscopic, they have around 20,000 genes ... and if you compare them side by side they are about 50 percent similar to us," he said.

Genes controlling appetite, fat storage and metabolism are especially similar, he said. The tiny worms can be manipulated to see changes to their metabolism, appetite and weight gain.

"It has been known for a long time that increasing serotonin causes fat reduction," Ashrafi said.

"At the molecular level we are trying to understand what is the mechanism that allows that to happen. What we discovered in the worm is that those mechanisms can be separated from the mechanisms that mediate the effects of serotonin on appetite."

The research found serotonin levels affected the worms' appetite, but they also affected how much fat the worms accumulated, and this was via a separate process.

If the worms detect a food shortage, their metabolisms shift and they store more fat. This could explain why some people get fat more easily than others -- and why dieting can cause more weight gain later.

"Different people may have similar diets, may have similar rates of physical activity, but may have very different body weights," Ashrafi said. "Appetite is only part of it."

But for now the remedy for excess body fat remains obvious. "Nothing in our study says that good nutrition and physical activity are not good for you," Ashrafi said.

Simply raising serotonin levels can have serious side-effects. The diet drug fenfluramine, which has the effect of raising serotonin levels, was pulled off the market in 1997 after it caused sometimes deadly heart valve damage.

(Source: Reuters)

Posted by Laura on June 9, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 06, 2008

Diabetes: Men And Women May Metabolize Fructose Differently

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Men and women appear to differ in how they metabolize high levels of fructose, a simple sugar commonly used to sweeten drinks and foods.

Short-term high fructose intake among young men resulted in increased blood triglycerides (fats) and decreased insulin resistance, factors associated with an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, report Dr. Luc Tappy and colleagues.

Whereas, "women get rid of the excess sugar load in a (likely) less deleterious way," said Tappy, of Lausanne University School of Biology and Medicine in Switzerland.

"Hence, gender has to be taken into consideration in studies evaluating the relationship between nutrition and metabolic disorders," Tappy told Reuters Health.

Tappy and colleagues enlisted 16 healthy, nonsmoking men and women of normal weight and about 23 years of age, to follow two different 6-day diets separated by a 4-week wash-out period.

The 8 men and 8 women did not participate in sports or exercise while following either the "control" diet or the diet that included a lemon-flavored drink containing 3.5 grams of fructose.

"The fructose load used in this study was quite large (corresponding to several liters of sodas per day)," noted Tappy. He and colleagues tested 12 fasting metabolic parameters the day after participants completed each diet, they report in Diabetes Care.

In the men, fructose supplementation caused significant increases in 11 of the 12 factors, including a 5 percent increase in fasting glucose and 71 percent increase in triglyceride levels.

By contrast, women showed a 4 percent increase in glucose and a "markedly blunted," 16 percent increase in triglycerides after the high fructose diet, the investigators said. Overall, the women showed significant increases in only 4 of the 12 factors tested.

Further studies should more accurately identify gender differences in metabolic pathways and confirm these observations in a larger population, the investigators note.

"One burning question is whether fructose may have more deleterious effects in individuals at high risk for metabolic disorders," Tappy surmises.

Posted by Laura on June 6, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 05, 2008

Healthy Recipe: Tunisian Bread Salad

Last week I posted an article about how a healthy eating lifestyle based on a Mediterrean diet can prevent type 2 diabetes. Today's healthy recipe is from the land down under bread salad that's perfect as a side for BBQs and picnics.  G'day, mate!

Makes 4 servings

4 flatbreads (turkish, naan or ciabatta are suggestions, but also try to get mix in high fiber flatbreads)
Sea salt
5 oz. extra virgin olive oil
2 small red onions, peeled and finely sliced into rings
1-2 oz. cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
6 spring onions, sliced
Handful flat parsley, chopped
Small handful basil leaves, torn

Preheat oven to 350 F. Tear bread into pieces and place into a roasting dish. Sprinkle liberally with salt, drizzle over half the oil and toss well. Bake 10 minutes, toss again, then continue to bake until crisp and coloured. Meanwhile, mix red onion rings with the vinegar in a large bowl. Stand 10 minutes then add cherry tomatoes, spring onions, parsley, basil and the remaining oil. Mix in the toasted bread, stand 5 minutes, toss again then serve.

Posted by Laura on June 5, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 04, 2008

Healthy Eating with Fruits & Veggies

MoremattersSummer's almost here and that means lots of wonderful produce that makes planning healthy meals a breeze. Can't beat the taste of in-season produce -- or the great nutrition it offers that supports healthy weights, healthy weight loss and healthy lifestyles. This quick quiz from foodandhealth.com is a fun way to test your healthy eating know-how when it comes to these jewels of the summer.

Test Your Knowledge

1. How many cups of fruits and
veggies should most adults
consume per day according to
a) 1-2
b) 2-3
c) 3.5 to 6.5

2. Gina is making a salad. On her
plate she puts: 2 cups dark
green lettuce, 1/2 cup diced
cucumber and 1/2 cup diced
tomato. How many cups of
vegetables will she eat according
to MyPyramid.gov?
a) 1
b) 2
c) 3

3. Eric eats a bowl of oatmeal
with a sliced banana. Then he
enjoys 1 cup of orange juice.
How many cups of fruit did he
eat for breakfast?
a) 1
b) 2
c) 3

4. One of these snacks has 51
calories; the other has 162
calories. Which is which?
a) 1 ounce potato chips ___
b) 1 fresh orange, peeled ___

5. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables
each day will help protect
you from which of the following
chronic diseases?
a) heart disease
b) diabetes
c) some forms of cancer
d) hypertension
e) stroke
f) all of the above

6. What is in fruits and vegetables
that make them so beneficial
to your health?
a) vitamins
b) minerals
c) fiber
d) phytochemicals
e) all of the above

7. Which of the following forms
of fruits and vegetables does
NOT provide fiber?
a) frozen
b) canned
c) dried
d) juice

8. If you are purchasing canned
or frozen fruits and vegetables,
you should check the label
and ingredient list to avoid
a) fat
b) sodium
c) sugar
d) all of the above

9. Where should most fruits and
vegetables be stored?
a) freezer
b) dark, cool place
c) refrigerator
d) counter

10. To avoid nutrient loss, which
of the following cooking
methods is best for vegetables?

a) steaming in a little water
b) frying in a lot of oil
c) boiling in a lot of water

1. c) 3.5 to 6.5 cups per day
2. d) 2 (the 2 cups of lettuce
counts as 1 cup of veggies.
3. b) 2
4. a) has 162 calories and b) has
51 calories – note how you
get to eat a lot more food
with the orange versus the
potato chips and for far fewer
calories, too!
5. f) all of the above
6. e) all of the above
7. d) juice (this refers to commercially
prepared juices without
the pulp)
8. d) all of the above. Canned
or frozen fruits and vegetables
can be very nutritious and
excellent choices to boost your
fruit and vegetable consumption,
but you have to beware of
added fat, sugar and sodium.
9. c) refrigerator – with the
exception of bananas and tomatoes.
10. a) steaming in a little water
©Communicating Food for Health

Happy healthy living this summer!

Posted by Marsha on June 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 03, 2008

Body Snarking on the Rise

1012237_laughing_at_photosTypically on this blog we talk about changing our own negative self-talk. Many of us have had a life filled with insults, criticism and jokes about our size and/or weight. The sad thing is, most of that haranguing comes from within. It’s the age old cop out, ‘if I say it first, no one will think I don’t know I'm fat, and therefore they can’t hurt me.’

Newsflash, it still hurts.

Negative self talk is dangerous and damaging – and very hard to exorcise the longer you do it. Done enough times, it creates a belief system which is ingrained and based purely on your own false perception of yourself.

Now, on top of our own negative self-talk, we have to contend with a more aggressive form of body bashing - ever heard of 'body snarking'? In a recent Wall Street Journal article written by Hannah Seligson, this new term (at least for me) was being bantered around. In a nutshell, body snarking is what girls have done for decades, make fun of the less attractive, chubbier, shorter, taller, badly dressed and unpopular - behind their backs. Only now, with the huge popularity of facebook and myspace, this offensive and self-esteem murdering behavior can be done for the whole world to see – and apparently with relish.

Apparently, Gawker owned Jezebel is taking a stand against body snarking , which I think is a start. However, hasn’t Gawker been a bashing, rumor mongering site since its inception? I guess you have to start somwhere.

Check out Seligson’s article here. If you’re like me – you’ll cringe.

Posted by Cindy on June 3, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 02, 2008

Fitness: Studies Show a Brisk Walk Can Help Improve Heart Health and Help the Morbidly Obese Begin to Exercise

Researchers who spoke at the recent annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) want the public to know that a healthy lifestyle that includes regular brisk walks can help fight obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Just 40 minutes of walking a day can lower blood pressure in hypertensive individuals, a new Korean study shows. Researchers measured the blood pressure of 22 hypertensive and pre-hypertensive men after a brisk 40-minute walk (some volunteers were checked after four, 10-minute brisk walking intervals). The men walked a pace between 3 to 4 miles per hour. Blood pressure decreased by about the same about each type of exercise session.

"Some people like to work out all at once," says Saejong Park, PhD, of the Korea Institute of Sport Science in Seoul, "but others say they can't comply with an exercise program because they have no time. These findings suggest people with time crunches and busy schedules can fit bits of exercise in throughout the day and reap the same health benefits."

In an American study, 14 morbidly obese patients walked 1 mile at as brisk a pace as possible. Patients were allowed to take a break if necessary, but most completed the walk within 30 minutes, says Thomas Spring, MS, a senior exercise physiologist at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.

"[They all] got their heart rate up to an adequate level to have benefits in term of cardiovascular health," says Spring. "Walking is a great way for the overweight and obese to begin an exercise program, but always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program."

Did you know that walkers have less incidence of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes? It's good to know that whatever your starting fitness level, walking can be a simple yet effective excercise for becoming - and staying - fit and healthy.

Posted by Laura on June 2, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack