Depression May Cause Increased Belly Fat

06/22/2010

A recent study in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health evaluated a possible link between depression and extra inches around the waist.  Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham examined data from the CARDIA study, a 20 year longitudinal study with over 5,100 men and women.

They discovered that over a 15 year period everyone had put on some weight, but the depressed people gained weight faster. People reporting high levels of depression gained weight fast. The interesting finding is that being overweight initially did not lead to changes in level of depression.  The stress hormone cortisol plays a role in both depression and abdominal obesity, so increased levels of this hormone may be the reason why the depressed people gained the belly fat faster.

This study shows the importance of recognizing and treating depression not only for its psychological consequences, but also for physical reasons.  In order to control obesity and obesity related diseases, it is important to also make sure depression is appropriately recognized treated.

 Depression is a modifiable risk factor – prompt treatment can prevent permanent health problems. To find out more information about risk factors you can control to prevent heart disease, stroke and diabetes visit www.heart-strong.com


You Are What You Drink

11/21/2009

So you are probably wondering…..do the beverages I drink really make that much of a difference? They are only liquids, right? Liquids “go right through me” so how much of an ill effect can they have?

You have probably heard the old saying “You are what you eat?”  Well, it is true, but “You are what you drink” also!

 Beverage Guidance Panel

 The Beverage Guidance Panel is a group of nutrition experts from the United States, which formed several years ago.  The purpose of this group was to review the existing research to determine which beverages are considered healthy.  They based their recommendations on the number of calories, energy and nutrients provided and health benefits of different beverages.  The winner hands down was water.  But that doesn’t mean this is the only beverage we should drink.  The Beverage Guidance Panel developed a six-level pitcher for beverages similar to the food pyramid.  (Published in the March 2006 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Available online at www.beverageguidancepanel.org)

 The average adult should aim to drink 8 glasses of fluids every day.  The Beverage Guidance Panel recommends:

 Water: at least 4 (8 ounce) servings a day for women and 6 (8 ounce) servings a day for men

Unsweetened coffee or tea (iced or hot): up to 8 servings of tea or 4 servings of coffee per day

Low-fat Milk: up to 2 (8 ounce) servings per day

100% fruit or vegetable juice, whole milk, or sports drinks: up to 1 (8 ounce) serving per day

Carbonated soft drinks: up to 1 serving per day

Diet beverages with sugar substitutes: up to 4 (8 ounce) servings per day

Alcoholic beverages: up to 1 drink a day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men

Liquid or Empty Calories

In the United States about 20% of our daily caloric intake comes from beverages.  The Institute of Medicine recommends men have 13 cups (3 liters) of fluid every day and women have 9 cups (2.2 liters) of fluid every day. 

 Most experts now believe that part of the obesity problem in this country comes from the increased consumption of calorically sweetened beverages.  A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (April 2009 issue) suggests that cutting back on liquid calories may actually result in greater weight loss.  The study evaluated 800 adult men and women for fruit and beverage intake and weight changes.  The results were interesting:

Cutting 100 calories a day from liquid intake lead to about a 0.5 pound weight loss at 6 and 18 months

Cutting 100 calories a day from solid food intake lead to about a 0.1 pound weight loss at 6 and 18 months

Eliminating one 12 ounce sugar-sweetened beverage a day lead to the greatest weight loss = 1 pound at 6 months and 1.5 pounds at 18 months

 If you are trying to lose weight you must remember to count your liquid calories!!

Should you drink wine?

Is it healthier to drink decaffeinated coffee or tea?

Does grapefruit juice really interfere with some medications?

Can diet soda really make you fat?

Is grape juice as good as red wine in preventing heart disease?

Can vegetable juice help promote weight loss?

Is organic milk really healthier?

These are just some of the questions we answer in our eBook….

 The above is the introduction to our new eBook called “You are What You Drink: A Healthy Beverage Guide” available on smashwords at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/4830

This eBook contains information on the health benefits and adverse health effects of water, coffee, tea, milk, calorically Sweetened Beverages (soft drinks), non-calorically sweetened beverages (diet soda), fruit and vegetable juices, alcoholic beverages, sports and energy drinks, how to read a nutrition label on a beverage and lots more…

You can visit www.heart-strong.com for more info (Cheers)


Premature Heart Disease Common in Indians and South Asians

10/21/2009

Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States.  The prevalence of heart disease varies among ethnic groups.  Immigrants from India (South Asia) have a four times greater risk of developing heart disease than other Americans.  Indians are also more likely to develop premature heart disease, have heart attacks at an earlier age and develop diffuse disease due to a genetic predisposition and a multitude of lifestyle risk factors.  This includes both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.

 Genetic risk factors include: high lipoprotein (a) levels, elevated triglyceride levels and lower levels of less protective HDL (healthy) cholesterol.  Indians are also more prone to have abdominal obesity, diabetes, sedentary lifestyles and diets high in fat and starches which can increase the risk of developing heart disease.  The traditional Indian diet includes deep-fried foods (re-use of vegetable oil when cooking), coconut milk, roti, naan and other white breads, white rice, paneer (cheese), whole milk and high fat yogurt.

 Even though Indians have a strong genetic risk for heart disease they can lower their risk by making healthy lifestyle changes. 

 Below are some tips that may help reduce the risk of heart disease:

  • Avoid deep frying, try to broil, bake, steam instead
  • Use low fat milk and dairy products
  • Increase fruit and vegetable and fiber intake
  • Use olive oil or canola oil, do not re-use cooking oil
  • Avoid ghee (clarified butter)
  • Increase intake of fish, nuts
  • Decrease intake of starches like white rice, roti, white potatoes and naan
  • Avoid eating all or majority of carbohydrates at one meal, do not skip meals
  • Increase activity level (walking 30 minutes a day counts as exercise)
  • Weight loss (lose abdominal fat, waist circumference goal men <36 inches, women <32 inches)

 Lipoprotein (a) is a sub-class of LDL (Bad) cholesterol, when levels are elevated in the blood the risk for heart disease and stroke are increased.  Elevated lipoprotein (a) levels are associated with premature heart disease and have little to do with diet or lifestyle, they are usually hereditary.  All Indians/South Asians should have a lipoprotein (a) level checked at least once in their lifetime, preferably when they are younger since it is a marker of premature heart disease.

“Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” discusses how women can help control their cholesterol and other risk factors to prevent a heart attack, stroke and diabetes. “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthier Heart” is due to be released Fall 2009. For more info visit www.heart-strong.com


Increased Testosterone (Not Decreased Estrogen) Causes Weight Gain in Menopausal Women

10/06/2009

For years we have believed that pre-menopausal women were protected from heart disease and stroke by estrogen and when estrogen levels decreased after menopause this lead to the increased risk for heart disease.  A new study published in the August 2009 issue of Obesity suggests that changes in testosterone levels may play an important role.  The SWAN (Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation) study examined the relation between testosterone blood levels and visceral fat in women at different stages of menopause.  They found that higher testosterone levels were more likely to be associated with increased visceral fat (belly fat) than lower estrogen levels.  Previous studies have reported an increased incidence of the metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes) in women with higher testosterone levels.

 These are early results but suggest that increased levels of male hormones (testosterone) may be contributing to the weight gain, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol that occur around menopause. 

“Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” discusses how women can help control their cholesterol and other risk factors to prevent a heart attack, stroke and diabetes. “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthier Heart” is due to be released Fall 2009. For more info visit www.heart-strong.com


Large Thighs Protect Us from Heart Disease and Premature Death?

09/11/2009

measuring hips

 Over the past year we have heard a lot about the increased risk for heart disease and diabetes with belly fat.  But now we may also have to start measuring our thighs??

 A recent study published on the British Medical Journal website (September 2009) states that adults with a thigh circumference less than 60 cm are at a higher risk for heart disease and premature death.  This is the first study I came across reporting health problems related to thigh girth.  This study followed 1463 men and 1380 women from Denmark for 10 years.  The researchers found that adults with smaller thigh size were more likely to experience an early death and heart disease, even after taking body fat and other high risk factors (such as smoking and high cholesterol) into account.  The authors suggest that the increased risk in men and women with narrow thighs may be related to too little muscle mass in this region which could contribute to problems with insulin sensitivity and lead to the development of diabetes and heart disease.  The increased risk was observed in both adults with and without belly fat.

 We will have to await future studies to see if these results are validated in other groups.  For more heart healthy info visit www.heart-strong.com


Is Obesity Becoming an Epidemic?

08/19/2009

 

Obese woman

 We keep seeing in the news that more American adults (and even kids) are becoming overweight.  Is this trend heading towards an obesity epidemic?  The Centers for Disease Control recently released new statistics.  Their latest survey reports that 26.1% of US adults in 2008 were obese compared to 25.6% in 2007.  In Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia 30% or more were obese.  NJ (our home state) is below the national average at 22.9%.  Colorado was the only state with an obesity rate <20%.  Now some really sad news: no state in the US showed a significant decrease in obesity between 2007 and 2008.  Obesity increases a person risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke.  What does the future hold for the health of Americans?!?

Our new book “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” discusses risk factors for heart disease and stroke and offers tips for women to decrease their risk and their family’s risk for future heart problems. Please visit www.heart-strong.com for more info.


Is Obesity Hereditary?

08/12/2009

obese girl

A recent study by Plymouth’s Peninsula Medical School found that obese mothers were 10 times more likely to have obese daughters.  Obese fathers were 6 times more likely to have obese sons.  An interesting finding was that children of the opposite sex were not affected.  The researchers suggest that the increased obesity risk may be related to similar lifestyles rather than genetics.

This suggests the need to target parent’s eating and exercise habits in order to promote healthy lifestyles for adults and their children.  We know children learn from their parents, this includes both good and bad habits.  Parents need to become positive role models.

For more heart healthy info please visit www.heart-strong.com