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May 11

Weekly review: Women have a harder time losing weight in midlife … – The Daily Briefing

The best and worst diets for heart health, why nurses are leaving contract work for hospital staff positions, and more.

AHA: The best (and worst) diets for heart health (Monday, May 1)

The American Heart Association (AHA) rated 10 types of popular diets based on how well they align with AHA's dietary guidance. See which diet received a perfect score.

Why 'boomerang' nurses are ditching contract work for hospital staff positions (Tuesday, May 2)

During the pandemic, many nurses left hospital staff jobs for more lucrative travel jobs. However, many of these nurses are returning to hospitals for full-time positions, especially as travel pay falls and organizations offer new staff benefits, Melanie Evans writes for the Wall Street Journal.

Have asthma? You may be more likely to develop certain cancers. (Wednesday, May 3)

People with asthma are 36% more likely to develop cancer than people without the respiratory disease, according to a study published in Cancer Medicine, marking the first time a positive association between asthma and cancer risk has been discovered in the United States.

Women have a harder time losing weight in midlife. Here's why. (Thursday, May 4)

Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Sumathi Reddy explains why women in their 40s and 50s are more likely to gain weight than men, the potential health risks of this weight gain, and what women can do to combat these extra midlife pounds.

3 strategies for tackling workplace complaints (Friday, May 5)

Writing for the Harvard Business Review, Alyson Meister and Nele Dael outline four types of workplace complaints and provide three strategies to help leaders "create a positive, high-performing work environment while monitoring and containing the risks and costs of complaining for themselves and their teams."

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Weekly review: Women have a harder time losing weight in midlife ... - The Daily Briefing

May 11

A 102-year-old doctor still does consulting work and plans to live at … – msnNOW

Gladys McGarey Dr. Gladys McGarey says she attended the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania in the 1930s. Gladys McGarey

At age 102, Gladys McGarey has seen a lot of lives begin and end.

As a trained physician and birthing expert, she's witnessed the births of thousands of babies worldwide. She's also lived through the death of her ex-husband, and some of her own five children have diedtoo.

Now, living in a sunny home in her daughter's backyard in Arizona, she has developed a practice that she says will help her accomplish her 10-year plan. She wrote about it in her new book, "The Well Lived Life: A 102-year-old doctor's six secrets to health and happiness at every age," and walked Insider through her daily routine. While the doctor doesn't have a license to practice medicine anymore, "they didn't tell me I had to stop talking," she said.

McGarey begins most days in the same simple way: She gets up, greets the new day with a morning prayer, climbs down the stairs, and enjoys Raisin Bran and prune juice for breakfast.

Later in the day, "I have salad for lunch and some kind of soup or something for dinner," she told Insider. "It's the routine, and I think it works for me. It's important for each one to find what works for us."

To keep herhands busy throughout the day, McGarey continues a regular knitting practice.

"I can't see to knit patterns now because my eyes don't, but I can knit little gifts that I give, and that keeps my hands busy," she said. "If I don't keep my hands busy, I do something on the cell phone and that gets people all uptight, you know?"

She also still consults, and stays true to the "holistic" approach to medicine she helped popularize in the US in the 1970s. McGarey believes that treating the whole person taking into consideration their mental and social state, as well as any physical symptoms of distress is paramount to healing.

When she's not knitting or consulting, McGarey listens to audiobooks or talks to friends something aging experts say is crucial to human happiness and can actually help us live longer.

And, she recently got an infusion of stem cells, which she thinks has made a difference to her vitality though scientists are still gathering evidence to determine whether this technique actually helps slow aging.

"I'm not really robust and sturdy, but I think it's helped me, and I'm looking forward," she said.

Finally, McGarey says, the most critical part of aging well is finding your central purpose, a life "juice" that is your mission and what you will endeavor to do with your time on Earth.

These days, she uses her own "juice" to think about how to create better ways for people to live together and care for each other. Her own 10-year plan something she thinks everyone should have includes creating a village for "living medicine" where elders, babies, and everyone in between can live together and care for each other more harmoniously.

"A 10 year plan makes space for everything," she wrote in the book. "It's a far enough reach that it keeps our life force activated. Yet it's close enough that we can achieve it, dust ourselves off, and plan anew."

She doesn't worry about what her own final "number" of years on Earth may end up to be. Instead, she keeps her eyes trained on what's coming next.

"I still think I've got work to do, and I'm gonna keep on working at it," she said.

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A 102-year-old doctor still does consulting work and plans to live at ... - msnNOW

May 11

Vegan Strength-Training: Don’t Believe These 5 Common Myths – VegNews

Thanks to the tidal wave of progress in the plant-based space, the eye roll-inducing Where do you get your protein? question has finally started to recede from the publics mind. However, there are still plenty of skeptics out thereeven with the impressive rise of the vegan pro athlete (Lewis Hamilton, Alex Morgan, Kyrie Irving, were cheering for you!). As a certified personal trainer and longtime vegan, I am setting the record straight.

Strength training, also known as resistance training, is a form of exercise focused on strengthening the muscles. During strength training, the muscles work against force to further build strength. This typically involves weighted exercise machines, resistance bands, and free weights, but if you have limited access to workout equipment, body weight strength training is another option (think push ups, planks, squats, lunges, and more).

Jonathan Borba/Unsplash

Aside from strengthening muscle, resistance training can also help manage chronic pain, aid weight loss, increase bone density (and therefore reduce the risk of osteoporosis), improve posture, and can sometimes help improve quality of sleep.

Here are five of the most common strength-training myths the nay-sayers bring upbusted!


For sedentary people, this is likely accurate. But if you strength-train, youll need to pay attention to your protein intake. If youre inactive, you need 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. For a 150-pound person, this works out to 54 grams of protein per day. Thats tofu scramble for breakfast, a black bean burrito for lunch, and dry-roasted edamame as a snack. Youve hit your protein goal even before having dinner!

If you strength-train regularly, youll need more protein. Most recommendations for vegan strength athletes range between 1.8 and 2.7 grams of protein per kilo of bodyweight per day. If youre a 150-pound strength athlete, youll need between 122 and 184 grams of protein per day. A days worth of protein for this athlete may include a tofu scramble with seitan strips for breakfast; a smoothie made with hemp hearts, chia and flax seeds, and protein powder for a snack; a lunch of edamame pasta with tomato sauce and veggie ground round, and a black bean burrito for dinner.

Hitting your daily protein goal is definitely attainable as a strength athleteit just takes a bit more thought when it comes to mealtime.

Tyler Nix/Unsplash

Sometimes, athletes who go vegan will lose weight unintentionally. Whole, plant-based foods are very nutrient-dense, but theyre typically not as calorie-dense as most animal products (which is good news if your goal is to lose weight!).

If youre very active, keep in mind that youll likely need to eat a larger volume of food as a vegan to get the same number of calories. Plant foods also tend to be more filling than animal-based foods (hello, fiber!), which can make it difficult to judge your caloric intake based on fullness alone.

If youre concerned about losing weight, it may help to keep track of your calories for the first week or two of your transition. This way, you can know for sure if youre hitting your mark or if youre at a deficit.

Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

Plant-based protein powder can provide a convenient muscle-building boost, but its not a good idea to rely on it as your main protein source. The key to a healthy diet is a varied diet, and only by eating a variety of foods can you obtain the wide range of amino acidsthe building blocks of proteinyou need to thrive. The good news is that all plant foods contain amino acids; theyre just present in different proportions.

For example, pumpkin seeds and seaweed are high in leucine (required for muscle-growth), oats are high in tryptophan (vital to a healthy nervous system), and sunflower seeds are high in methionine (necessary for building cartilage). A protein-shake-and-veggies diet is not going to provide you with enough amino acid variety, so make sure you eat a range of different protein sources. Try to get the bulk of your protein from foods like tempeh, tofu, seitan, black and kidney beans, nutritional yeast, nuts, and seeds. If you need to top off your protein, one or two shakes a day is fine.

Laurynas Mereckas/Unsplash

I know I just suggested not relying on supplements to obtain your daily protein, but hear me out. When it comes to a select few micronutrients, supplementation may be necessary. Theres only one non-negotiable supplement all vegans should take, whether theyre athletes or not: B12. This vitamin is required to make new red blood cells and keep your neurological system functioning effectively, and deficiencies result in serious consequences including nerve damage and cognitive impairment.

Non-vegans get B12 from animal products, but only because those animals themselves were supplemented with B12. In centuries past, humans used to obtain B12 from eating soil particles on our food. Times have changed, so take your B12 supplement! Other supplements to consider if youre a vegan strength athlete are vitamin D and creatine.

Most of uswhether were vegan or notdont get enough vitamin D. Both vitamin D and weight-bearing exercise are essential for healthy bones, so if youre a strength athlete, youre already halfway there. If you dont get 20 minutes of direct sun exposure every day, consider a supplement. Finally, while our bodies make their own creatine, we vegans dont get any from our diets. So while you wont be deficient if you dont supplement, taking creatine can improve your short-duration, high-intensity athletic performancesuch as sprinting or lifting weights.

John Arano/Unsplash

If youre getting the protein you need from a variety of plant-based sources (and youre kicking butt with your training, of course), youll crush your muscle and strength gain goals just as well as any non-vegan.

And there is research to back this up. In April 2023, one study found that mycoprotein, which is made from fungi, is just as effective as animal protein at supporting muscle during resistance training. The study was split into two phases. In the first, 16 healthy adults ate either an exclusively vegan diet, with meat from mycoprotein brand Quorn, or an omnivorous diet.

In the second phase, 22 healthy adults endured a high-volume progressive resistance training program for 10 weeks. Again, some followed a vegan diet, others followed an omnivorous diet. The results showed that those eating the omnivorous diet gained 2.6 kg of whole-body lean mass, while those following a vegan diet gained 3.1 kg. Both groups increased the size of their thigh muscles by the same amount.

We now have a strong body of evidence, perhaps more than is available for any other alternative protein source, to show that mycoprotein is an effective protein food to support muscle maintenance and growth, said lead researcher Alistair Monteyne.

And from a personal standpoint as a plant-based trainer, I know I was able to sweep the floor at my gyms pull-up and chin-up competitionsbeating all the omnivore trainers, including the men. So, can we say #VeganStrong?

Vegan since 2003, Karina Inkster, MA, PTS, is a health and fitness coach, author of three books, and host of the No-B.S. Vegan podcast.

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Vegan Strength-Training: Don't Believe These 5 Common Myths - VegNews

May 11

Im a dietician here are 4 cheap diet hacks BETTER for weight loss than Wegovy and Ozempic jabs… – The US Sun

A MIRACLE weight busting jab used by your fav celebs is coming to a high street near you.

The drug, called Wegovy, will be available on prescription in pharmacies sometime this year, offering hope to millions of Brits caught in a cycle of yo-yo dieting.

The jabs have allegedly helped billionaire business mogul Elon Musk shed the pounds, and are rumoured to have helped Kim Kardashian fit into that Marilyn Monroe dress for the Met Gala.

Previous trials showed people taking the drug lost on average 12 per cent more of their body weight, compared to people on a placebo.

But, the same trials showed that around half of people taking the drug experience gut issues, including sickness, bloating, acid reflux, constipation and diarrhoea.

Many also regained two-thirds of thepounds they shedafter dropping the weekly injections.

Not to put you off any further, but, if you aren't eligible for the drug on the NHS, you'll have to fork out a hefty fee to pay.

With that in mind, is there any easier and cheaper way to shed the pounds?

According to nutritionist, Emma Beckett, from the University of Newcastle, Wegovy works by supressing our appetite - this is why it works for weight loss.

To do this, an ingredient found in the fat-busting drug, known as semaglutide, mimics the role of a natural hormone, called GLP-1.

"This hormone is normally produced in response to detecting nutrients when we eat," Emma wrote in the Conversation.

GLP-1 is part of the signalling pathway that tells your body you have eaten, and prepare it to use the energy that comes from your food.

Energy-dense foods, which tend to be foods high in healthy fats, proteins or simple sugars, triggerGLP-1 secretionin the body, Emma said.

"This means a healthy diet, high in GLP-1 stimulating nutrients can increase GLP-1 levels," she explained.

Foods that help GLP-1 levels:

"This is whyhigh fat,high fibreandhigh protein dietscan all help you feel fuller for longer," Emma added.

"Its also why diet change is part of both weight and type 2 diabetes management," she said.

While diet and the drug both work to shed the pounds, both have their challenges.

Medicines, like Wegovy, have side effects such as nausea, vomiting,diarrhoea, and issues in other organs.

"Plus, when youstop taking itthe feelings of suppressed appetite will start to go away, and people will start to feel hungry at their old levels," Emma said.

Dietary changes have much fewer risks in terms of side effects - but this route will take more time and effort.

"In our busy modern society, costs, times, skills, accessibility and other pressures can also bebarriers to healthy eating, feeling full and insulin levels," the expert explained.

For some people, medication will be the most effective tool to improve weight and insulin-related outcomes.

And for others, food alone is a reasonable pathway to weight-loss success.

It's also worth bearing in mind that althoughWegovy is coming, its not here yet.

The NHS currently only offers Saxenda (a different weight-loss jab) and this is only available on certain weight-management services, which means you have to be referred to weight-management clinics led by experts.

GPs cant prescribe them on their own either.

If you're worried about your weight, speak GP or dietitians to work out what option would work better for you and you needs.

Original post:
Im a dietician here are 4 cheap diet hacks BETTER for weight loss than Wegovy and Ozempic jabs... - The US Sun

May 11

Is Tofu Good for You? Here’s what the science says – ZME Science

Despite some of the myths you may have heard, tofu is a healthy food thats rich in protein and nutrients and has no cholesterol.

Its a very nutritious food, said Dr. Qi Sun, an expert in nutrition and a professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. For the vast majority of people, it should be reasonable to incorporate tofu in their daily diet without any issues, Sun said.

While not all tofu is made equal tofu is almost always a good addition to your diet. Heres what you need to know.

Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a popular protein source made from soybeans. In fact, tofu is mostly soy and water.

Its a vegetarian type of food that was first created in China some 2,000 years ago and has become a staple in many parts of the world since.

To create tofu, soy milk is first extracted from soybeans. Then, a coagulant separates the milk into curds and whey. The curds are then pressed into blocks, forming the tofu you find in grocery stores.

Granted, this process has improved a lot in recent years.

Recently great progress has been made in the manufacturing techniques of soybean protein foods, such as soy milk, tofu, aburaage, textured protein products, and soy sauce, writes Danji Fukushima, an expert on soybeans, in a published study. The quality of soy milk and tofu was very much improved by controlling the action of the biologically active substances, he adds.

There are several varieties of tofu, each with its unique texture.

The nutritional profile of these types of tofu can vary somewhat. In general, the firmer the tofu, the denser it is. Softer tofus tend to have more water. The differences between the types of tofu are not all that major in terms of nutrition, its more the texture thats different.

So, whats the deal with tofu?

Meat substitutes are on the rise. Although tofu is an ancient food thats been consumed in various cultures for centuries, its enjoying a recent increase in popularity. This is primarily because tofu is a good meat replacement and a healthy alternative. It has all the protein without any of the cholesterol. Studies also show that regular consumption of tofu is linked to health improvements.

Soy constituents benefits mostly relate to the reduction of cholesterol levels and menopause symptoms and the reduction of the risk for several chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis, writes Hossein Jooyandeh in a recently published study.

Tofu also contains the essential amino acids your body needs to function. Essential amino acids are not produced by the human body although they are critical to our overall health the only way to source these compounds is from the food you eat. Tofu is rich in minerals and vitamins and often has a high calcium or magnesium content (this depends on how the tofu is produced).

Tofu and other soy foods are also rich in isoflavones. Isoflavones are plant-created chemicals associated with a variety of health benefits.

Another study concludes that:

Recent experimental evidence suggests that phytochemicals in soy are responsible for its beneficial effects, which may also include prevention of osteoporosis, a hereditary chronic nosebleed syndrome, and autoimmune diseases.

In most (if not all) countries,dietary guidelinesrecommend consuming more plant-based foods. The 2021 American Heart Association scientific statementemphasizes choosing plant-based proteins for heart health. In fact, some guidelines specifically mention tofu as part of a healthy dietary pattern. Heres why.

Perhaps the main appeal of tofu is that its rich in protein. Per gram, it doesnt fare quite as well as some types of meat, but the key is that tofu is low in calories. When you look at how it fares per calorie, its one of the best protein sources you can get in your diet.

So tofu is an excellent source of protein. This also explains why, traditionally, tofu has been regarded as the go-to protein source for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet. But more and more, tofu has emerged as a solid option for everyone.

Another benefit is that tofu doesnt have cholesterol. So if youre having cardiovascular health problems, tofu is definitely a good addition to your diet.

In addition to proteins, tofu boasts an impressive nutrient profile, providing a variety of essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Tofu contains all nine essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins that your body needs but cannot produce on its own.

Tofu is a good source of vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamins (such as riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate). Most of that fat is of the healthy polyunsaturated kind the healthy fats.

In addition to protein, tofu is rich in several important minerals:

Keep in mind, this doesnt make tofu a superfood or a magic panacea. It simply means that its a healthy food. In fact, studies have found that regular consumption of tofu and other soy products can have a protective effect against some conditions.

Soy (and consequently, tofu) is rich in isoflavones. Recent research has shown that isoflavones are linked to improved blood vessel function and reduced inflammation. Additionally, the American Heart Association recommends consuming soy protein to help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, which can reduce the risk of heart disease.

A study on some 160,000 people found that a higher intake of isoflavones and tofu was associated with a moderately lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. This effect was more pronounced in women.

However, its notable that tofu consumption was linked to better cardiovascular health in all groups. Furthermore, the people who had the highest intake of isoflavones had the lowest risk of heart disease. This large-scale study adds to the growing literature on the protective effects of soy foods.

Soy products, including tofu, contain phytoestrogens. These phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds that can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. Contrary to some myths, this doesnt make you more woman-like, but it can have health benefits.

Studies have also found that higher intake of soy and soy isoflavones seems to reduce with risk of cancer incidence. This suggests a beneficial role of soy against cancer. Its possible that once more, isoflavones are producing this benefit.

Some studies have suggested that consuming soy may help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, such as breast and prostate cancer. This goes against myths that tofu may be bad for breast health. In fact, soy isoflavones (called genistein and daidzein) have been shown to accumulate in prostatic tissue, where they may be cytotoxic to cancer cells.

However, more research is needed to understand the full extent of the relationship between soy consumption and cancer risk.

Tofu is a good source of calcium and vitamin D both of which are essential for maintaining strong bones. Consuming tofu can help provide adequate amounts of these nutrients which can help maintain good bone health and prevent conditions such as osteoporosis.

In addition to calcium and vitamin D, tofu also contains isoflavones, which have been shown to improve bone density. Amu J. Lanou, an expert on nutrition and professor of health and wellness, and the executive director of the North Carolina Center of Health and Wellness for the University of North Carolina Asheville published a study that concluded:

Soy foods are associated with improved markers of bone health and improved outcomes, especially among Asian women. Although the optimal amounts and types of soy foods needed to support bone health are not yet clear, dietary pattern evidence suggests that regular consumption of soy foods is likely to be useful for optimal bone health as an integral part of a dietary pattern that is built largely from whole plant foods.

Yet again, a familiar culprit comes up: isoflavones.

For women experiencing menopause, tofu may offer some relief from common symptoms. The isoflavones found in soy products can mimic estrogen in the body, helping to alleviate hot flashes and night sweats.

In clinical studies, postmenopausal women who eat high amounts of dietary soy protein had fewer and less intense hot flashes and night sweats than those who eat less soy.

However, the effectiveness of soy isoflavones in reducing menopause symptoms varies from person to person.

Tofu can be a valuable addition to a weight loss plan for several reasons:

Tofu is relatively low in calories, making it an attractive option for those looking to reduce their caloric intake. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of firm tofu contains around 70 to 80 calories, while the same amount of extra-firm tofu has approximately 90 to 100 calories. By incorporating tofu into your meals, you can enjoy satisfying dishes without significantly increasing your calorie count.

Protein is essential for maintaining and building lean muscle mass, which can help boost your metabolism and increase the number of calories you burn throughout the day. Tofu is an excellent source of plant-based protein, as weve discussed. Eating a diet high in protein can help you feel fuller for longer, reducing the likelihood of overeating and promoting weight loss.

In addition, tofu doesnt carry the downsides of some of the other foods that are rich in protein. Its got zero cholesterol and contains healthy fats.

One of the keys to successful weight loss is finding healthy, satisfying foods that you enjoy eating. Tofu is a versatile ingredient that works in a wide variety of dishes, from stir-fries and salads to smoothies and desserts. It readily absorbs the flavors of the ingredients its cooked with. This makes it super easy to create flavorful, nutrient-rich meals that support your weight loss goals.

Remarkably, a study on millennials found that its not the health benefits that make it so popular. People just want something thats simple and easy to cook.

They basically seem to care less about any health benefits of Tofu, said lead Cornell researcher Brian Wansink, They eat it to look good and because its quick to cook and its filling.

Millennials are much more likely to eat Tofu if you simply tell them It cooks like chicken, but doesnt spoil, than if you lecture them about its nutritional value, said Wansink.

Some people are put off by tofu because it has a very mild flavor. But thats exactly what makes it so versatile. You can use it in any type of dish pretty much, from fruit pudding to a stew, and it will suck the flavor from the sauces and foo

Soy often gets a bad rep because of its alleged environmental problems. However, just 7% of soy is used directly for human food products such as tofu, soy milk, edamame beans, and tempeh. In fact, the vast majority of soy production (77%) is fed to animals. Yes, soy is linked to deforestation, but ironically, the main driver for that is meat consumption.

No matter how you look at it, eating tofu (or other soy products) is better for the planet than eating meat. Pound per pound and calorie per calorie, soy produces far less greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation than meat particularly red meat.

In fact, studies show that if everyone switched to a plant-based diet, we would reduce global land use for agriculture by 75%. Tofu requires around 100 times less land than beef, for instance.

In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, tofu also fares substantially better.

All in all, tofu is a product with a pretty good carbon and land footprint. Its definitely not bad for the environment when compared to similar products.

In conclusion, tofu is a nutritious and versatile food that can work in pretty much any diet. It is an excellent source of plant-based protein, essential vitamins, and minerals, and has been associated with a variety of health benefits, including improved heart health, cancer prevention, and better bone health.

Furthermore, tofu can be a helpful component of a weight loss plan, as it is low in calories and high in protein, You can incorporate it into a wide range of delicious dishes.

With so many advantages, its clear that tofu is indeed good for you, offering a tasty and nutritious option for both plant-based and omnivorous diets alike.

Tofu is a food made from soybeans that are soaked, ground, and boiled, then coagulated and pressed into blocks.

Yes, tofu is a nutritious food that is rich in protein, iron, and calcium. It is also low in fat and calories and is a good source of antioxidants.

Tofu is a good source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing muscles. It is also high in calcium, which helps to build and maintain strong bones. Tofu may also help to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Tofu is generally safe for most people to eat. However, some people may be allergic to soy or have an intolerance to it. If you have any concerns, its best to speak to your doctor or a registered dietitian.

Tofu can be used in a variety of ways, such as in stir-fries, salads, soups, or as a meat substitute in sandwiches or burgers. It can also be blended into smoothies or used to make dips and spreads.

There is no set amount of tofu that you should eat, as it will depend on your individual needs and preferences. However, a serving size of tofu is typically around 3-4 ounces.

Thanks for your feedback!

The rest is here:
Is Tofu Good for You? Here's what the science says - ZME Science

May 11

Why nutrition experts say you (probably) dont need that gluten-free diet – The Manual

Just when you thought the experts had spoken and the people agreed that the Mediterranean diet was best, social media whet peoples appetites for more. This year alone, theres been the all-carnivore diet and All-McDonalds diet, which are precisely what they sound like and have received two thumbs down from the nutrition community.

However, another diet trend wont go away: Gluten free.

Gluten is a termused to describe proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale (a wheat-rye cross). There are a ton of foods with gluten, like bread. Gluten helps keep their shape and serves as a glue to hold everything together.

A gluten-free diet is necessary for some people, such as those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. However, do people without these conditions need to stock up on gluten-free foods? Should they go entirely gluten-free?

The short answer is no.

There are no benefits to being gluten-free if you dont need to be, said Anna Mapson, a registered nutritionist and founder ofGoodness Me Nutrition.

Nutrition experts broke down the pros, cons, and misconceptions of living gluten-free (without celiac or a sensitivity).

Before you eliminate an ingredient, its best to get the facts.

Gluten-free diets can be challenging because its in so many foods, including ones you wouldnt expect.Kimberly Gomer, RDN, a private practicing registered dietitian in Miami, says youll find gluten in:

Generally, no.

While a gluten-free diet is essential for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, there is no evidence to suggest that a gluten-free diet is beneficial for the general population, saidNick Zanetti, a nutritional therapist.

However, some people may have issues with gluten, even if they dont have celiac disease or a sensitivity.

There is a percentage of the population that responds to the main protein in gluten called gliadin by producing a protein in the intestine called zonulin, Zanetti said, pointing to a2006 studyon the subject. This is a problem as zonulin can raise the level of intestinal permeability and inflammation.

Many, actually.

There are several potential drawbacks to a gluten-free diet, including nutrient deficiencies, increased cost, and social restrictions, Zanetti said.

Mapson adds that buying gluten-free foods like special bread products can be costly. She also adds that gluten is essential to digestive health in many fiber-rich products like whole grains.

If youre gluten-free, you should eat a lot of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, pulses, wholegrains such as oats (if tolerated), brown rice, and gluten-free quinoa, Mapson said.

The gluten-free craze isnt new, and nutrition experts say its long past time to nix these myths about the gluten-free diet. Experts discussed nutrition and weight loss myths.

That is not true, but the idea that gluten is bad for you is too common.

In reality, gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, and it is only harmful to those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, Zanetti said. But any food containing gliadin one of the main proteins of gluten has the potential of trigger intestinal permeability and an increase in inflammation.

The keyword: Potential.

Seeing gluten-free on a label is not a catch-all sign the food is healthy.

Processed, high-sugar foods like cookies and cakes might be gluten-free, but that doesnt mean consuming only them will lead you to health and wellness.

The main drawback I have seen in my clients is that they add gluten-free processed foods to their diets, assuming it is healthier, Gomer said. The majority of gluten-free products like bread, cereal, cookies, and cakes are even more processed and loaded with more sugar, salt, and processed flours as compared to their gluten-laden counterparts.

If youre going gluten-free, continue to read the whole nutrition label as you meal plan and shop.

It is important when attempting to transition to a gluten-free diet that whole, unprocessed foods are replacing the gluten-containing ones, Gomer said.

Gomer suggests adding more whole grains to your diet, including gluten-free oats, corn, and brown rice.

If only it were that easy.

They may believe that just removing gluten will magically help them lose weight, Gomer said. I have seen many clients actually gain weight when removing gluten.

Gomer noted that there are many lifestyle factors involved.

This means choosing other healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and lots of water, Gomer said. Consistent exercise also leads to better health outcomes with a well-balanced diet with gluten-containing foods.

Bottom line?

We always strive for optimal health and energy both physically and mentally, Gomer said. We need to be careful not to have one scapegoat gluten.

Gluten-free diets are popular but often misunderstood. Though necessary for certain people, namely those with celiac, most experts say the cons outweigh the pros for everyone else. Gluten-free diets may lack nutrients, such as fiber, a component of good digestive health. Gluten-free doesnt mean healthy, and cutting it from your diet wont necessarily help you lose weight. Other lifestyle factors, such as a holistic approach to your diet and exercise, play into weight.

Whats more, youre not the number on the scale. Aim to eat nutritious foods that make you feel good whatever that means to you. Speaking to a primary care physician or dietician about your food choices can be helpful if you are concerned.

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May 11

5 Essential Tips To Lose Belly Fat From Personal Trainers – Fatherly

If you ask 10 people about their health and fitness goals, five will probably mention losing belly fat. But getting rid of belly fat is about so much more than how you look. Excess belly fat poses a serious risk to your health.

After all, the fat in your midsection doesnt just sit under the surface it builds up around your internal organs. And it doesnt just sit there. Belly fat releases immune system chemicals called cytokines, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and other health issues, including diabetes and even some types of cancer. One Oxford study found, for example, that each additional inch of fat around the stomach increases a persons relative risk of heart failure by 11%.

The first step in losing belly fat is acknowledging that you cant spot target fat loss on specific parts of the body. The only way to lose belly fat is to lose fat everywhere with nutrition and exercise. But there are ways to tailor your diet and exercise routine to be more (or should we say less?) belly fat friendly. The crucial point is to not treat losing belly fat as something you do for a short period of time. This is a lifelong fight and therefore you need to find exercise and diet habits that you can stick to, incorporate in your life, and, dare we say, enjoy.

To help us get there, Fatherly spoke with Julia Schaefer, owner of Aspire Athletics gym and vie Ray, owner of JAKTMuscle Training Facility two veterans in the fitness industry for their best tips on fighting belly fat.

Moving your body more is critical to losing fat. And although theres no exercises that can melt away belly fat in particular as opposed to other fat in the body, some exercises offer more bang for your buck when it comes to burning calories and losing fat.

Julia Schaefer, personal trainer and owner of Aspire Athletics gym in Seattle, Washington, prioritizes compound strength exercises that work more than one muscle group at a time, like squats or deadlifts. Compound movements recruit the entire body, maximizing calorie burn over time. Building a routine full of compound strength exercises will help you get in a full-body workout in less time, leading to more calories burned and more fat lost because the more muscle groups worked by a single exercise, the better for burning fat.

Some compound strength exercises include squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, push-ups, cleans, and push presses.

Compound movements arent the only exercises you should include in your workout routine. Evie Ray, master trainer and owner of JAKTMuscle Training Facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado, emphasizes the value of cardio workouts in addition to weightlifting. I recommend higher intensity or interval cardio to lose body fat while conserving muscle mass, she says.

HIIT (high-intensity interval training) increases your metabolic rate more than many forms of steady-state exercise, meaning you burn more calories long after your workout is over. This is commonly referred to as the afterburn effect.

Interval training workouts are typically shorter than steady-state cardio while including bouts of rest and recovery, which helps preserve muscle mass.

Schaefer agrees, Cardio can be an amazing tool for fat loss and body recomposition. HIIT tends to have the largest payoff for myself and clients.

To make your cardio work for your fitness goals, push yourself outside of your cardio comfort zone for 15 to 20 minutes during your workout. Whether running, biking, swimming, or something else entirely, cardio should be challenging enough that you cant go much longer by the time you finish your high-intensity workout or your interval for HIIT.

There are a million and one fad diets that proponents claim lead to miracle fat loss. Theyre fads for a reason, though. You dont need to follow any nutrition trend to hit your health and fitness goals, Schaefer says. Theres no reason to reinvent the wheel. So dont get caught up in complicated diets like Keto or intermittent fasting.

Rather, focus on the basic principles of healthy nutrition: Eat a balanced diet with complex carbs, fruits, veggies, lean protein, and healthy fats from vegetable oils or fish oils. Limit processed foods and added sugars. Consume less calories than the number you burn each day to lose weight. Additionally, Schaefer recommends aiming for meals spaced three to five hours apart throughout the day and including at least a serving of vegetables with two of those meals.

For fat loss, keep your protein intake high, Rays says. Most research suggests eating 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day is ideal. Choose lean protein sources such as fish, egg whites, white meat poultry, and tofu when possible. Protein shakes can also help you hit your protein goals when you dont have access to whole foods or time to cook.

Because every individual is unique with different genetics, lifestyles, and circumstances the ideal protocol for fat loss will look different from one person to another. You may have to use some trial and error to determine what feels right and works for you.

Still, the principles are simple. Dont get overwhelmed with specific, niche advice that might not work for you. Instead, Schaefer recommends tracking your food for three to five days to understand your eating habits and patterns better. From there, you can start to make changes to your diet.

People often think that their health comes down to two main factors: diet and exercise. And although both are essential for weight loss, you shouldnt overlook sleep and stress.

Research shows insufficient sleep is associated with a higher body mass index (BMI), obesity, and poor eating habits. A lack of sleep compromises the bodys ability to regulate hormones that control metabolism. Feeling groggy also hurts your ability to make healthy food choices by lowering your self-control. Several studies show that sleep deprivation makes people more likely to choose higher-calorie foods with more sugar and fat than when theyre fully rested. In other words, youre sabotaging your fat loss efforts if youre not getting enough sleep.

As Ray puts it, Your body cant continue to run well for you if you are not taking care of its basic needs. Strive for seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

Better sleep also helps relieve stress, which facilitates fat loss. Poor sleep habits spike cortisol levels, a stress hormone that tells the body to conserve energy, ultimately leading it to retain more fat.

Many people believe their motivation and willpower are enough to reach their goals. But the truth is: Motivation alone doesnt work. In Schaefers experience, Motivation will come and go, but the habits you put time and energy into creating will keep you chugging forward.

Her biggest tip? Set little benchmarks along the way to stay motivated. Consistency is key. Building habits is key. Even if your main goal is to lose belly fat, Schaefer recommends setting strength goals such as lifting an additional five pounds each week and celebrating those achievements when you hit them. Celebrate other achievements during your journey, too, like having more energy, getting better sleep, or experiencing fewer cravings.

You need a one-day-at-a-time approach to build habits that will set you up for long-term success. Focus on small practices and pick one or two to work on weekly. For example, start with a goal of drinking half your body weight in ounces of water every day. After staying consistent for a week, focus on adding veggies to dinner every night. Dont take on more than you can handle at one time, or else youll end up frustrated and discouraged.

Ray offers similar advice: Dont look at the end goal. Instead, learn to enjoy the process and all the small goals you hit along the way. Above all, you need consistency in your plan and the patience to see it through.

5 Essential Tips To Lose Belly Fat From Personal Trainers - Fatherly

May 11

VCU to Study Effects of Stress on Heart Health – Public News Service

Virginia Commonwealth University will be researching chronic psychosocial stress' effects on heart health as part of an American Heart Association grant.

University researchers will work collaboratively with Ohio State University and the University of California-Davis for the $15 million project.

Dr. Greg Hundley, director of the Pauley Heart Center and chair of the Cardiology Division at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, said while some risk factors for heart disease include smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes, some social stressors can increase cardiovascular events.

"Stress can take many forms," Hundley pointed out. "It can be financial stress, it can be personal stress, it can be an event or series of events that occurs in one's life. And those stressors also promote the cardiovascular events - heart attack, strokes and heart failure."

He noted a central question for the research is examining how something in a person's brain can lead to poor heart health. It goes beyond examining how everyday stress affects the heart. It will also look at stress in cancer survivors who received treatments that can affect heart health.

Amy Ladd, associate director of the Pauley Heart Center, noted the research is still in its infancy, and one particular challenge is coordinating a team to accomplish the goals.

"We've got laboratory experts, so that people that are going to be measuring the molecular changes in patients' blood, and animal studies in the blood," Ladd outlined.

She added behavioral experts will also work with cancer patients to see if an exercise intervention will help reduce stress and affect heart function, and nutritionists will analyze the diets of human and animal participants to see how heart function is affected.

Fadi Salloum, professor and associate chair for Research in the Department of Medicine, said another focus will be how defects in the heart's ability to produce energy can result in early aging. He describes how this can occur.

"The heart is an organ that's constantly working," Salloum emphasized. "It doesn't get a break; it needs a lot of energy. Sometimes, those specific compartments that generate energy become defective. Could be because of inflammation, could be because of something else impacted by stress as well."

Based on the findings of the research from all three schools, the hope is to create a better screening process aimed at preventing more serious occurrences of heart disease in all people.

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As Connecticut addresses health equity, additional work needs to be done, experts warn. From 2016 to 2022, one third of the state's residents did not visit a primary care physician, according to data from Connecticut Health Policy. This is part of a trend throughout the U.S. to address disparities in medical care. A recent study finds cancer care can be subject to similar inequities.

Angela Starkweather, a co-author of the study, said inequities in care stem from the country's long history of racism and discrimination, through policies and structural barriers.

"That trickles down from education of healthcare providers to a lot of the policies that we use in our society for funding these type of things; not allowing people to have time off to get screening tests and things like that," she said.

In Connecticut, some factors of cancer care inequity are the lack of transportation to medical facilities and lack of health insurance. She noted one solution is the National Cancer Institute's Equity and Inclusion Program, and added the program aims to help cancer centers keep their care equitable through a slew of initiatives like community engagement and outreach.

On a state and federal level, Starkweather said increased public funding is one way to make cancer care more equitable. Along with reducing disparities, she added this funding can increase accessibility of cancer care across all areas.

"Investment in our cancer centers and being able to provide those types of services such as patient navigation, free services, expanding some of the hours for our screening services, things like that, " she explained.

Starkweather added helping people working throughout the week to have alternative options for getting a cancer screening could prove beneficial. In 2022, the U-S Department of Health and Human Services made $5 million dollars in grants available to community health centers to improve equity in cancer care screenings.

The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show Kentucky continues have among the worst cancer rates in the nation - with lung, colorectal, breast and cervical cancer making up the majority of cancer deaths.

More than 30,000 Kentuckians will be diagnosed with cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society.

Groups that are part of the Kentucky Partnership for Health Improvement say they're working to identify gaps and barriers that may cause people to miss recommended cancer screenings.

Allison Adams - chief operating officer of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky - said lack of insurance and high co-pay costs, along with transportation, pose challenges.

"Some people don't live near medical offices," said Adams. "That makes it more difficult to get cancer screenings. And also, locations are usually only open during traditional workday hours."

The CDC says the number of Americans screened for cancer decreased from, about 27% in 2012 to around 21% in 2020 - a more than five percentage point decrease that represents nearly 4 million people.

Adams pointed to policies that should help increase screening, including a new law establishing biomarker-testing coverage requirements for health-benefit plans - tests that help doctors customize cancer treatment.

"Breast cancer, colorectal cancer and lung cancer, cervical cancer," said Adams, "those cancers that are caught earlier have the best opportunity for treatment. The Partnership for Health Improvement wants to focus on those barriers."

The American Association for Cancer Research estimates the nation's total cancer-care costs will reach more than $245 billion by 2030.

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Caregivers in Connecticut are calling on state officials for better conditions and higher pay.

They're seeking a $25 an hour minimum wage, paid time off, affordable healthcare, and a pension for retirement planning.

Chase Bolling is a Personal Care Attendant and member of 1199 Service Employees International Union Northeast.

Originally, he was a machinist, but became a PCA because it wasn't easy to juggle caregiving for his mother-in-law with his full time job.

Bolling said any improvements to caregiver's working conditions must begin with better funding.

"I think the foremost thing would be increasing our budget," said Bolling. "You know, nothing happens in this world without money and you kind of can't take any steps forward or any initiatives towards improving our conditions without first improving our pay, and providing access to benefits."

He added that better funding will be able to provide long-term job security.

Along with PCA's, unpaid family caregivers are facing similar challenges.

According to an AARP report, unpaid family caregivers across the U.S. provided care valued at $600 billion in 2021. That's a $130 billion increase over 2019.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, PCA's - like many of Connecticut's healthcare workers - were dealing with strained working conditions.

During the first few months of the pandemic, there was a shortage of personal protective equipment.

While many healthcare providers have fought for and seen changes in their working conditions, Deidre Murch - vice president and homecare director for SEIU 1199 Northeast - said it hasn't been the same for PCA's.

"What we see is that there are a lot of examples where PCA's have been treated, literally, as invisible," said Murch, "without any of the same recognition or support in wages and benefits as other healthcare providers have."

From here, Murch added that it's now up to state elected officials to take bold steps in uplifting this workforce out of poverty-inducing wages and lacking benefits.

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May 11

Intermittent Fasting and the Mediterranean Diet: The Ultimate Guide – Fitness Volt

The concept of intermittent fasting is not new. It has been around for ages, with almost all cultures practicing it in one form or another. However, the term was coined by Anton Carlson and popularized by BBC broadcast journalist Dr. Michael Mosleys TV documentary Eat Fast, Live Longer in 2012. [1]

On the other hand, Mediterranean fasting is a traditional diet that has existed for more than five thousand years. It entered the mainstream in the 1950s when people from the Mediterranean region were observed to have much better health than their Western counterparts.

Though widely different, intermittent fasting and the Mediterranean diet have unique benefits and complement each other in powerful ways. This article will take you through the science behind intermittent fasting and the Mediterranean diet and how combining these approaches can help you achieve optimal health and wellness.

Intermittent fasting is a weight loss strategy that involves alternating between periods of eating and fasting. Its not a diet in the traditional sense but rather an eating pattern that specifies when to eat instead of what to eat.

There are several intermittent fasting methods. Still, the most popular methods involve fasting for a set period, typically between 1624 hours, followed by a period of eating.

Regardless of the method, intermittent fasting helps reduce overall calorie intake and promotes weight loss by burning stored fat for energy. Additionally, intermittent fasting offers numerous health benefits, notably improved insulin sensitivity, lowering your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. [2]

The fasting approach enhances brain function, boosts energy levels, and extends life. Moreover, it reduces inflammation, a critical factor in many chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimers. Studies have shown that fasting can stimulate the production of new brain cells and improve cognitive function. [3]

Otherwise called a heart-healthy diet, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes a plant-based diet with some seafood and healthy fats. Meat and dairy foods are generally consumed in small quantities.

As the name indicates, the diet is based on the traditional way of eating in the Mediterranean region. With a Mediterranean diet, you eat mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and healthy fats such as olive oil and fatty fish. The diet also comprises animal protein in the form of fish and seafood. However, dairy and poultry are consumed in moderation. Unlike most other diets, you can consume red wine in moderation.

The core of the Mediterranean diet is its balanced approach to eating. It emphasizes whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods with fresh fruits and vegetables. Processed foods, sugary treats, and beverages have no place in the Mediterranean diet. Above all, a heart-healthy diet favors herbs and spices to flavor meals rather than salt.

Being primarily plant-based, the Mediterranean diet offers all the necessary vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and phytonutrients. It is known for its anti-inflammatory and disease-fighting properties. Several studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. [4] [5]

While the diet is not designed for weight loss, it also promotes weight loss. This is due to filling, high-fiber foods that keep you full for extended periods.

The short answer is yes! You can follow intermittent fasting and adopt a Mediterranean diet simultaneously. Incorporating a Mediterranean diet with intermittent fasting is a match made in heaven. The two dietary approaches complement each other rather perfectly.

Focus on consuming nutrient-dense, whole foods in line with your Mediterranean diet during your eating window. This ensures you get the necessary nutrients to support your health and well-being and maintain a healthy weight.

Intermittent fasting and the Mediterranean diet have several health benefits, including weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, and increased longevity. It also helps improve your health and reduce your risk of chronic diseases.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in nutrients such as fiber, antioxidants, and healthy fats (including monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids). Though the diet involves more fat than other dietary approaches, it is high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, aka good cholesterol, rather than low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or bad cholesterol.

Furthermore, with abundant plant-based foods, nuts, and extra virgin olive oil, the human body will absorb sufficient nutrients such as vitamin B12 and vitamin D, which affect weight loss. [6]

Among the many types of intermittent fasting, 16:8 works best with the Mediterranean diet. It involves eating in an eight-hour window, followed by a 16-hour fast.

Reducing your eating window to eight hours gives you ample time to have a diet with diverse foods packed with nutrients. The best part is that you get to eat your favorite foods while also shedding excess weight.

Intermittent fasting is crucial in assisting the Mediterranean diet since it helps you adhere to it long-term, leading to improved health outcomes. Furthermore, with its definite eating and fasting windows, intermittent fasting promotes structure and discipline. This makes it easier to stick to the Mediterranean diet and curb cravings for unhealthy food.

While intermittent fasting helps, the success of the Mediterranean diet doesnt depend on it. The diet is rich in nutrient-dense foods, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats. Since it has no processed foods, it contains no added sugars, sodium, or saturated fats.

Furthermore, due to time-restricted eating, intermittent fasting can cut calorie consumption by as much as 60%.

The Mediterranean diet has several benefits, including weight loss and a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and Alzheimers. And when combined with intermittent fasting, you can potentially enhance their health benefits.

Here are the health benefits of combining the Mediterranean diet with intermittent fasting:

When combined with a Mediterranean diet, intermittent fasting is a powerful tool for promoting weight loss, improving cardiovascular health, and supporting cognitive function. Here are some tips for incorporating both into your lifestyle:

One of the fastest ways to lose weight on intermittent fasting is to adopt a Mediterranean diet. With its emphasis on fresh, whole foods, the Mediterranean diet promotes slow and steady weight loss as long as you choose the right foods.

Though highly effective, intermittent fasting is not for everyone. Avoid intermittent fasting if you are:

Essentially, you must avoid intermittent fasting if you have high caloric needs.

The Mediterranean diet comprises unprocessed whole foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats. However, you may not lose weight if you do not watch the portion sizes. It may also be because:

You can skip breakfast on a Mediterranean diet, especially if you have type 2 diabetes. [9] Instead, you can indulge in a large Mediterranean-type lunch of fish, salad, and olive oil. According to researchers, it has the same effect on glucose levels as a low-fat diet. [10]

Intermittent fasting and the Mediterranean diet, though vastly different approaches, can complement each other. Together, they provide various health benefits, including weight loss, reduced risk of chronic diseases, improved heart and brain health, and increased longevity.

The Mediterranean diet is a rich source of nutrients and antioxidants. Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, reduces inflammation and improves insulin sensitivity. The combination of the Mediterranean diet and intermittent fasting offers a holistic approach to promoting health and wellness.

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May 3

Food For Thought with Kat | Mind food | Arts And Culture … – The Manchester Journal

May. Its the month of flowers, spring showers and the maypole. May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. This month spotlights the importance of focusing on the many factors that can sponsor better mental health. While a multitude of diagnoses fall under the umbrella of mental health, certain foods and their nutrients have been found to contribute to positivity and mood elevation.

A clich to be sure: our food is our mood. Steering clear of ultra-processed foods in favor of healthier ones may be helpful for those of us who suffer from anxiety or depression, clinically diagnosed or otherwise.

Fad diets have been all over the board. Dr. Atkins 90s regime focused on the too-good-to-be-true weight loss approach of eating saturated fat and lots of it. The South Beach Diet deprived us of carrots (carrots!!!). Most of these diets take away one food group only to focus on others (thereby bringing our focus solely to the food group weve been denied).

Going Keto holds the same ring that going vegan once did. Its a trendy diet that many have adopted in the name of weight loss. Restaurants and food companies are all too happy to offer keto options or have named themselves keto-friendly.

Weve discussed the roots of keto here before; it was a diet offered as a short-term solution for kids who suffered from epilepsy. It gave them good results. They suffered fewer seizures and had a better quality of life, but no one knew exactly why this low-carb, high-fat regime did that. As it limits fruits, veggies and grains, epileptic children on the ketogenic diet are carefully monitored for nutritional deficiencies.

All fad diets work. For a while. Until they dont. You know my stance. Eat real food and limit the rest. The American Heart Association has recently weighed in on which diets are the healthiest, scoring them according to their heart-healthy elements and have acknowledged how confusing eating heart-healthy can be.

The factors the association took into consideration in its evaluation included blood glucose, cholesterol and other lipids, blood pressure and body weight all of which are indicators of metabolic and cardiovascular health. It focused on heart healthy regimes rather than specifically on weight loss.

The top two regimes that were found to be most heart-healthy were the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and the Mediterranean diet. Both DASH and the Mediterranean diets are more of a lifestyle and are therefore more sustainable. While DASH limits sodium and alcohol, the Mediterranean diet allows (and even promotes) wine as part of meals, focusing on the benefit of polyphenols like resveratrol in red wine. Bringing with it a European vibe, the Mediterranean diet focuses mainly on seafood, whole grains, fruits, veggies and healthy fats.

When it comes to food and our mood, the Mediterranean diet has been said to help. In 2017, a study whose acronym is aptly SMILES (Supporting the Modification of Lifestyle in Lowered Emotional States) showed that clinically depressed participants who changed their diets experienced positive effects on their moods. Subjects who followed a modified Mediterranean diet for 12 weeks experienced remission from their depression and even became less anxious. The crazy thing is that they didnt just feel a little bit better they were no longer depressed! JUST THROUGH FOOD!

One key factor here is to get these nutrients from food. We dont assimilate synthetic vitamins and minerals as well as we do by eating them in our diet, so taking a handful of pills will likely not have the same effect on us that real food will!

B vitamins, especially B12, have been connected with enhanced mood. Seafood, specifically shellfish like clams and oysters, are great sources of B12. The Mediterranean diet is chock-full of leafy greens and brightly colored fruits and veggies. Healthy fats like olive oil and avocado and seafood are on the Mediterranean menu. Even a little dark chocolate is said to help our mood by way of polyphenols called flavonoids.

Our gut has been deemed our second brain. When you think about the fact that the majority of our serotonin is produced there, its a no-brainer (or second brainer,) that our mood is related to the health of our gut. Taking care of our gut flora and good bacteria is essential for overall health, and mental health is no exception.

Focus on fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut and kombucha to enhance good gut health! Our good gut bugs need to be fed and fiber is one way to do that. Prebiotic fiber aids the work that probiotics do, so adding fibrous foods and foods like ground flax is helpful in settling the gut.

Mental health and psychiatric conditions should not be taken lightly. Unless allergic to specific foods or suffering from certain health conditions, making positive dietary changes will do nothing but help your overall physical and mental health. Never change medications without the advice of your physician.

Katharine A. Jameson, a certified nutrition counselor who grew up in Williamsville and Townshend, writes about food and health for Vermont News & Media. For more tricks, tips and hacks, find her on Instagram: @foodforthoughtwithkat

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