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

Advertisements

Going Gluten-Free

05/29/2010

from HealthyWomen’s e-newsletter, HealthyWomen Take 10

What’s up with gluten? You might not have even heard of gluten until recently when foods without this grain protein started being promoted on store shelves.

People with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder, suffer difficult gastrointestinal symptoms that are triggered by gluten. Those individuals must avoid eating or drinking any gluten, which isn’t easy.

Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye and spelt. (Never heard of spelt either? It’s a grain from ancient times that’s highly nutritious.) Gluten occurs in a wide range of foods. Some of these you might expect, such as baked goods and pizza, and some you might not, like ice cream (gluten is commonly used as a thickening ingredient). Food labels now must state if a product contains gluten or was made in a facility that processes wheat.

In addition to those with celiac disease—which is being diagnosed more frequently as doctors become more aware of the condition—others don’t have celiac but do have a heightened sensitivity to digesting gluten. They, too, are helped by avoiding gluten foods.

Fortunately, there are many naturally gluten-free foods, such as fruits, vegetables, poultry, eggs and more. Grains and starches that can be eaten on a gluten-free diet include corn, amaranth, flax, buckwheat (not a wheat), rice, quinoa, potatoes, soy and teff (an Ethiopian grain used for flour).

When eating gluten-free, it’s helpful to consult a registered dietitian to achieve a good nutritional balance in your food selections. Your healthcare provider or a local hospital’s nutrition counseling department should be able to refer you.

For more on nutrition, visit: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/diet-and-nutrition

References

Harvard Medical School . “Getting Out the Gluten.” Harvard Health Letter. http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Health_Letter/2009/June/Getting-out-the-gluten.

American Dietetic Association. “Do I Need to Follow a Gluten-Free Diet for Life?” http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=10594&terms=gluten. Accessed April 20, 2010.

American Dietetic Association. “Celiac Disease.” http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=5542&terms=celiac. Accessed April 21, 2010.

American Dietetic Association. “If You Have Celiac Disease: Grains and Plant Foods to Include on Your Grocery List.” http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=4294967395. Accessed April 21, 2010.

© 2010 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll-free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.


Healthy Habits for College Students: Your Guide to Better Nutrition, Without Giving Up the Midnight Munchies

05/11/2010

Despite the national initiative to eat better and cleaner, the stereotype of the pizza-gnawing, beer-guzzling college student still exists. And it’s not just because all college students are irresponsible or don’t care about their health or their weight. There are lots of factors working against you, students, when it comes to proper nutrition. Most young kids spend all week waiting for pizza night, and when you get to college, you’re allowed to eat it every night if you want. Also, college kids are on tight budgets and opt for fast food and frozen meals when they spend their own money off campus. Finally, students have little control over what they eat in the dining hall: if their school hasn’t stepped up and offered them a healthy, well-balanced meal plan, they still have to eat whatever is served in front of them.

But just because you face nutrition obstacles every day as a college student doesn’t mean you have to accept weight gain, health problems, bad skin, and low energy as a necessary part of your college experience. Below are several simple tips for winning back some of the control over the fight for your wellbeing.

 Get enough sleep: Weird sleep schedules can contribute to even weirder cravings and weight gain. Think about it: the longer you stay up at night, the more you’re likely to eat. Doctors also believe that not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain.

Keep a food journal: You don’t have to share it with anyone, so be as honest as you can by writing down every single snack, meal and beverage you eat or drink for one week. Writing it all down will help you discover which food groups you’re ignoring and which times of day you’re more likely to overindulge.

Pay attention to your emotions when you eat: Are you eating because you’re tired, stressed or sad? What kinds of foods to you eat when you feel happy vs. anxious? Identifying your food habits will also help you make proactive, healthier choices.

Only keep healthy snacks in your dorm room: If it’s inconvenient to find ice cream, you’ll be more likely to eat the whole-grain cereal or banana that’s already in your room. Empty out your refrigerator of the junk and keep good food stocked.

Stay nourished all day: You’re more likely to give into cravings if you go too long without food. Keep healthy snacks like fruit, yogurt and nuts in your book bag so that you can keep your mind and body nourished between meals. Always make time for breakfast, too.

Still confused about what to eat? Keep reading for healthy snack ideas when you get the midnight munchies, as well as smarter dining hall choices you can make.

  • Skim-milk string cheese: Great for mindless snacking, since you can pull apart the cheese as you study.
  • Go for grilled: Instead of fried chicken or fish, opt for the grilled version.
  • Get a side salad or side of veggies with lunch and dinner: Eat the veggies first, and limit dressing to a couple of tablespoons of light dressing or vinaigrette dressing.
  • Peanut butter: It’s great comfort food and contains good fats and protein. Just make sure you spread it on fruit, crackers or whole wheat bread and don’t eat it out of the jar.
  • Fruits and veggies: Grapes, baby carrots, watermelon and cherry tomatoes are great study snacks that are low in calories and good for your energy and overall health.

By-line:

This guest post is contributed by Tim Handorf, who writes on the topics of online college rankings.  He welcomes your comments at his email Id: tim.handorf.20@googlemail.com.


You Are What You Drink Blog Talk Radio Show

11/23/2009


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)


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


Sleeping Improves PostPartum Weight Loss

09/08/2009

sleeping woman

We’ve probably all heard our mothers say at one time or another that ever since they gave birth to us they haven’t been able to lose those extra pounds they put on during pregnancy.  Several recent studies have found a direct correlation with inadequate sleep and difficulty losing pregnancy weight.  Sleep deprivation is a common problem new moms experience, due to having to care for a newborn, take care of other children at home, juggling multiple responsibilities or postpartum depression.  Sleep deprivation causes hormone fluctuations that can affect appetite and metabolism.  

 One recent study found that new mothers who slept less than 5 hours a day for several months after giving birth were three times more likely to have difficulty losing weight than mothers who were able to sleep 7 or more hours a day.  Sleep experts believe that sleep duration is an independent risk factor for weight retention.  This is true for new moms but also adults in general.  

Getting the proper amount of sleep on a regular basis should be an important part of any weight loss program.