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February 16, 2009

Blood Pressure in People with Metabolic Syndrome More Sensitive to Salt Intake

Salt shaker Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of developing  type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  One is five people are affected, and that rate increases as people age. Salt reduction in people with metabolic syndrome may help play a role in early intervention, and more effective treatment.

Now a study from China examines the connection between metabolic syndrome and blood pressure sensitivity.  Metabolic syndrome was defined as the presence of three or more of: abdominal obesity, raised blood pressure, high triglyceride concentration, low HDL cholesterol, or high glucose.

Nearly 2000 Chinese volunteers, who did not have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, were put diets with varying levels of sodium. Compared with those with no risk factors, participants with four or five risk factors for metabolic syndrome had a three-and-a-half times higher risk of high salt-sensitivity during the low sodium phase and a three-fold higher risk of high salt-sensitivity during the high-sodium phase.

"Metabolic syndrome enhances blood pressure response to sodium intake," writes Dr. Jing Chenin, in an online article soon to be published in The Lancet. "Reduction in sodium intake could be an especially important component in reducing blood pressure in patients with multiple risk factors for metabolic syndrome."

Learn more about the metabolic syndrome (also known as Syndrome) and insulin resistance.

Posted by Laura on February 16, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 13, 2009

Healthy Lifestyles: When Your Sweetie Doesn't Sweat

As you can see from our posts this week, love is in the air these days. But relationships are always a tricky combination of contradiction and compromise. How can they affect our motivation to maintain a healthy lifestyle? A recent article in the New York Examiner got me thinking about how a significant other can influence our fitness goals. Maybe you go running together and keep each other on track. On the other hand, maybe your partner doesn't exercise much or is always bringing junk food into the house.

Taking responsibility for your choices is a first step. You don't have to eat the bag of chips left over from the Superbowl party or your husband's stash of candy bars just because they're there. Marsha recently wrote about resisting temptation through mindful eating and tuning into our own hunger. But if you do go for the candy bars just remember, it's your choice, not anybody else's.

Next, "how about focusing on the positive ways partnerships can help you on your way to successful weight loss," writes Examiner dietician Nicole Anziani. "In terms of exercise, this can be a fun way to spark up your relationship." And there are plenty of ways to get fit as a couple other than rocking the treadmill side by side, romantic as it sounds. Anziani suggests dance classes, a walk with the dog or taking up a team sport.

If you have different fitness routines or your partner is still a couch potato, workout with a friend or take it as your alone time to unwind. Just be sure to make it clear to your significant other that physical activity is a priority for you and you'll need their support to stay healthy.

See also: Jane Black's fascinating article about couples with different eating habits in the Washington Post.

Photo by banalities via flickr.

Posted by Emily on February 13, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

This Week on the Web: Yogurt News and Weird fitness Gadgets

Yoplait Yogurt Goes Hormone Free, reports Our Bodies Our Blog.

An active social life protects against dementia, says Consumer Reports' health blog.

A chaotic household contributes to mom's weight, says Science Daily.

Sadly, two women who received cosmetic injections to "enhance" their buttocks are in critical condition, reports Fox. When will we learn?

Check out this vintage 1960s ad: Drink 7-Up while doing yoga? Hmmm...

Posted by Emily on February 13, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 12, 2009

Healthy Recipe: Sesame Squash

Sesame SeedsSesame seeds have been used in cooking for over 5,000 years, and it is still used extensively in all kinds of healthy recipes. The seeds themselves come in many sizes and colors as shown (photo right from seasamegrowers.org). Sesame seeds are not only a very good source of many nutrients, they also contain sesamin and sesamolin. Both of special beneficial fibers (called lignans) have been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect in humans, prevent high blood pressure, and increase vitamin E supplies in animals. Sesamin has also been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage. They're a small, tasty and potent healthy eating food! 

1 1/4 lbs yellow crook neck squash or zucchini, sliced thin (1/8" to 1/4")
1/4 to 1/2 cup sesame oil
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sesame seed
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp Lemon Pepper (or less according to taste)
Cavenders Greek Seasoning to taste (Optional but good!)

Heat sesame oil in skillet over medium heat. Combine flour, sesame seed, lemon pepper, and Cavender's Greek Seasoning in plastic bag. Shake vigorously to mix. Combine egg, milk, salt and pepper; mix well. Place a few slices of squash at a time in egg/milk mixture then place in flour mixture and coat well. Fry in hot oil until both sides are nicely brown. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with more sesame seed.

Posted by Laura on February 12, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 11, 2009

Healthy Eating: The Best Way to Resist Temptation

In one of my many conversations recently about healthy lifestyle management, the question came up about the best way to resist eating foods that we believe might not be the best choice for us at the moment.  To wit, the upcoming chocolate celebration known as Valentine's Day, which Cindy so aptly discussed yesterday. 


Cindy talked about enjoying chocolate in moderation, knowing we can have some again later.  But many of us struggle with just eating one or two.  We have experienced having one, then another, then another....before we know it, it's all gone.

So how do we break this cycle?  The best way is to really not want more.  And just how do we do that? 

Mindful Eating is the Key

Tuning into what we really want is what mindful eating is all about.  When we're paying attention, we're better able to find the point at which we have had enough.  Our bodies were designed to be able to tell us that but weight loss diets have taught us differently.  Weight loss diets either leave us feeling hungry much of the time, or set us up for feelings of deprivation that leave us in a state that a whole box of chocolates may not even really ameliorate.  Especially when we're left feeling guilty for eating the whole thing.

To take care of these two major problems, we teach at Green Mountain two basic principles of mindful eating: regular, balanced eating, and eating what you want. 

Regular, Balanced Eating

This one is relatively simple.  Just feed yourself balanced meals/snacks on a regular basis.  People normally get hungry every 3-5 hours or so (it can vary depending on the person and on how much we eat at any one meal or snack), so if you're not sure when you're hungry, start eating on this 'schedule' for a while, and you'll help yourself get back in touch with what true physical hunger feels like.

Eating What We Want

This one can be more challenging.  For some of us, it's just a matter of giving ourselves permission, to get rid of the negative thoughts that cloud our judgment.  We can tell ourselves it's okay to eat chocolate (or whatever is our 'thing'), and we can go on to enjoy it in moderation.

For others of  us, however, we've been dieting too long.  Or if we haven't been dieting, we've been believing we need to be, so we might as well have been as far as our ability to feed ourselves in a way that satisfies is concerned. We might need to move slowly, giving ourselves opportunities to enjoy foods we fear in a relatively controlled way.  For example, instead of the whole box of chocolates, we might better enjoy a small package that limits how much we have access to at any one moment.  Instead of buying the half gallon of ice cream, we might better manage a trip to the ice cream store to enjoy a cone -- single, double or triple dip, you decide -- or the hot fudge sundae.  A triple dip or a sundae is an improvement over the whole half gallon.

Putting It Together

The first step in mindful eating -- eating regular, balanced meals/snacks -- helps immensely with the second step.  When we're hungry, it takes more to satisfy us.  When we eat foods we fear after a period of feeding ourselves well, it doesn't take as much to satisfy.  So we don't have to deal with the fear that arises if we think we're eating 'too much.'  That assumes, however, that we're eating the food without feelings of guilt, which will interfere with our ability to feel satisfied.

Remember, too, that it took a while to develop the attitudes and behaviors that confound our eating.  Many of us have been dieting -- and binge eating as a result --for years.  Being patient with ourselves, knowing we'll have ups and downs (actually, that's a part of normal eating, not just dieting recovery), will help us move forward instead of returning to old behaviors when we think we're not doing as well as we 'should.'

That brings up one of my favorite sayings:  Let's stop shoulding on ourselves.

Have a happy Valentine's Day!

Posted by Marsha on February 11, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 10, 2009

Healthy Eating: One Chocolate Never Made Anyone FAT!

864671_chocolates_2 Hey, it's that time of year again. Could be good news could be bad news. However you look at it, there's heart-shaped candy everywhere you turn. Some's good, some's bad. Either way, the temptation to indulge is at its zenith. (Ok,  Easter's just around the corner, but it's only February so let's not push it!)

Most of us with significant others have probably told them time and time again, "Don't buy me chocolates!" But, in our Valentine's heart of hearts, isn't a big box of chocolates and a beautiful bouquet of red roses the quintessential gift of love? Give the guy a break and let him do something nice for you!

So whether you have a lover or you're on your own (again), don't let the chocolate factor get you down. Buy yourself your favorite chocolates (none of that waxy stuff!), and indulgeJust take a couple , you don't have to eat the whole box in a fit of depression - they'll be there tomorrow. Give yourself permission. Enjoy. One or two chocolates never made anyone fat.

Besides, there's always Easter...

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Posted by Cindy on February 10, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 09, 2009

Weight Loss: Overweight Kids Benefit from Healthy Lifestyle Change and Family Involvement

University of Michigan Family Exercise Video It may seem obvious to you and me that overweight teens and children can benefit from healthy lifestyle change, but because there are a variety of treatments out there that focus on drug treatment for obesity, researchers wanted to study the specific benefits of behavioral change.

A new review, published in the Cochrane Library, examined the various intervention strategies for helping children and teens achieve healthy weight loss: increased activity, diet, behavioral treatment, and drug therapy.  Researchers did not conclude which method was most effective, but validated that kids who try healthy eating and adding exercise habits as part of their treatment are able to lose weight in more significant amounts than those who don't.

"Evidence from this review shows that family-based, lifestyle interventions with a behavioral program aimed at changing diet and physical activity thinking patterns provide significant and clinically meaningful decrease in overweight in both children and adolescents compared to standard care or self-help in the short- and the long-term," writes Dr. Hiltje Oude Luttikhuis, of the Beatrix Children's Hospital in Groningen, The Netherlands. She and her colleagues also believe it is very important for parents to get involved, especially for pre-adolescent children.

Drugs and diet may achieve weight loss in the short run, but a lifestyle change can help a child maintain a healthy weight for many years into adulthood - perhaps even a lifetime.

Watch a video from the University of Michigan on healthy activities the whole family can enjoy: video icon

Posted by Laura on February 9, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 06, 2009

Weight Loss: Arginine Rich Foods May Help Fight Obesity

Arginine Amino Acid A recent study the effect of arginine, an amino acid, on the reduction of fat in obese rats may hold some promise for helping people lose weight and fight obesity.

"Given the current epidemic of obesity in the U.S. and worldwide, our finding is very important," said Dr. Guoyao Wu, an AgriLife Research animal nutritionist in College Station and Senior Faculty Fellow in the department of animal science at Texas A&M University. 

The Arginine Effect

Supplementing the rats' diet with arginine over a 12 week period apparently decreased body fat by nearly two-thirds of the rodents, and also promoted skeletal-muscle gain.

"This finding could be directly translated into fighting human obesity," Wu said. "At this time, arginine has not been incorporated into our food (but could in the future)." 

arginine-rich foods include seafood, watermelon juice, nuts, seeds, algae, meats, rice protein concentrate and soy protein isolate. 

Findings of this study were published recently in the Journal of Nutrition (http://jn.nutrition.org). 

Read the full article at Medical News Today.

Posted by Laura on February 6, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 05, 2009

Healthy Recipe: Asparagus and Roasted Pepper Salad with Toasted Pecans

pecans for healthy eating Pecans, the only native nut in the United States, can actually double the cholesterol-lowering effectiveness of a traditional heart-healthy diet, according to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition.  That makes two great reasons to enjoy today's healthy recipe from the CA Pecan Growers Association.  Enjoy this vegetable-rich salad with a sprinkle of pecans which as flair and a hearty crunch.

Serves 4

20 thin asparagus spears
12 oz. jar roasted peppers, preferably red and yellow mixed, drained
2/3 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sherry or wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 lb. mixed salad greens

Break off tough ends of asparagus. Heat 1 inch of water to boiling in a deep skillet. Add asparagus and cook two minutes to blanch. Drain and transfer asparagus to bowl of ice water to quickly chill. Drain and set aside or wrap and refrigerate until serving.

In a medium bowl, stir together peppers, pecans, and basil. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, and salt to blend; whisk in oil to make dressing. To serve, mound salad greens in center of serving platter; arrange asparagus in two clusters on opposite sides of greens. Spoon pecan mixture over greens and asparagus; drizzle dressing over all.

Posted by Laura on February 5, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 04, 2009

Healthy Lifestyles: Staying Motivated to Move

I thought I'd entertain myself today and put up on our blog the first version of the FitBriefing Putting the Pizzazz Back into Your Exercise Routine that we posted this week on our women's healthy weight loss website.  Hope some of you enjoy (or even recognize) my attempts at humor.

21597721_38562709 It happens to the best of us.  One day, we’re lovin’ our physical activity routine; the next, frankly, we’re bored, bored, bored.  If we have to do that again (whatever that is), we’d rather not do anything at all.  What’s a fool for fitness to do?

Go to the pros.  Yeah, we know you’re good, but not that good.  We mean go check out instructors and personal trainers at the local health club. You’ll see them revamping cardio on the treadmill or elliptical with five minutes at a steady pace, bumped up for the next five to a challengingly intense level, then bringing it back down again.  Besides mixing it up, cardio interval training increases cardiovascular endurance, too. 

Or, they’re handing out Power Bars (no, not those; the weight lifting kind) and/or resistance tubing.  Bonus: More creativity in movements and more flexibility (ok, we know they’re rubber tubing; we mean you can adjust the degree of resistance just by moving your feet on the band wider or closer together.)

They’re shaking their booty a lot, too.  Kickboxing’s still fun, but sassy dance classes like Hip Hop Funk or Salsa Step get your hips moving like they haven’t since, well, Saturday night.  Do you work up a sweat?  Remember Saturday night?

Go Jane.  You know, Jane Fonda – the technology queen.  (No, we’re not stuck back in the 80s, just couldn’t think of any other way to creatively turn the subject to technology.  Jane was basically responsible for taking exercise videos, the technology of that time, mainstream.  This is sad having to explain all this.  I obviously need to think of another segue.)

All that is lead-up to the fact that there’s a whole new world waiting for us if we’re on to today’s technology.  Like iPods – from tiny ones you barely know are there to ones with touchpads that offer all kinds of extras — that put the beat back into working out.  Jam out to your favorite sounds by building playlists of warm-up, high-intensity and cool-down tunes.  Or, if you’re like me, you use them to listen books on tapes while exercising (maybe doesn’t sound very exciting but, hey, I like books a lot).

Nike+ shoes, along with the Nike + iPod Sport Kit or Sensor, tracks your runs to tell you time, distance, pace and calories burned (but you can forget that last part. We don’t count calories – either eaten or burned – at Green Mountain).  Also gives you that feedback both halfway and in the final approach to your goal.  (That sounds so focused; it was obviously written by someone who puts songs in her iPod instead of audiobooks.  I forgot to mention that Jennifer on our fitness staff provided the meat for this post.)  Then, ta da, you can even load the details into your computer!  So?  You can throw away that old exercise journal, that one over there in the corner.  See it?  The one all covered with dust.

Save money, too!
No, that wasn’t a ploy for your attention.  You really can save money by turning to YouTube to try different forms of exercise without a financial commitment.  YouTube is full of short ‘videos’ of aerobic or strength classes.  They’re not all worth watching, though; some give incorrect advice.  Look for those produced by a certified fitness professional.

The options are many for mixing it up to keep the fun in physical activity to reach your fitness and health goals.  Try something new today!


Posted by Marsha on February 4, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack