Category Archives: Uncategorized

CALORIE RESTRICTION: FANTASY OR FANTASTIC?

CALORIE RESTRICTION: FANTASY OR FANTASTIC?

Closely related to maintaining a lean body weight is the practice of caloric restriction, or CR. There is now extensive evidence across a wide range of animal species that restricting calories slows down aging and can extend both life and youthfulness. These experiments have not run long enough to demonstrate actual life extension in humans, but studies of humans practicing caloric restriction show the same reduction in disease and aging markers (changes associated with increasing age) that we see in animal populations. More than 2,000 animal studies show the same dramatic results across many different species.
A highly publicized experiment in 1982 involving rats first introduced the world to CR. The control group was fed a normal diet and lived a normal maximum life span of approximately 1,000 days. Typically, the control rats died from the deterioration of their hearts, kidney disease, or cancer. The diet of the experimental group (the CR rats) contained one-third fewer calories than the control group, but otherwise had adequate nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, protein, and essential fatty acid s. The CR rats lived for about 1,500 days, or 50 percent longer.
Equally significant, the researchers noted a slowing of the aging process. Not only did the CR rats live longer, they largely avoided the feebleness, poor health, sluggishness, and grizzled appearance that accompanied the old age of the normal-eating group, even toward the very end of their extended lives. For example, the coats of the normal-eating rodents, which are smooth and white early in life, typically turn gray and oily by 20 months of age. The CR rodents, in contrast, kept their fur white and shiny for 40 months or more. The low-calorie rats were also significantly more successful at running mazes than normal-eating rats of the same age. Rates of diabetes and cataracts and the strength of the immune system were all dramatically better in the CR rodents.
Long after the normal—eating rats had died, the calorically restricted rats continued to have shiny coats, very low rates of cancer and other diseases, and the higher levels of energy and responsiveness associated with youth. When these CR rats finally died, they often appeared to do so for no obvious reason-probably just old age. According to Dr. Edward Masoro, a physiologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, “When we look inside them, they’re completely clean.”
Other experiments have exposed both calorically restricted and normally fed rats to high levels of carcinogens. CR rats showed significant resistance to the cancer-causing chemicals, whereas normal-eating rodents easily succumbed. Even strains of rats that are specially bred to be prone to cancer and to autoimmune and other diseases gained significant protection from a low-calorie diet. Dr. Richard Weindruch, a gerontologist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, comments, “Any kind of screwed-up animal seems to benefit from caloric restriction.
Numerous experiments conducted on a wide range of other animals have shown consistent results. The CR animals live about 30 to 50 percent longer, age more slowly, and are generally much freer of disease, even toward the end of their longer life spans.
How does CR work?
So why does caloric restriction work? Scientists created a genetically modified mouse that lacked a single gene that controls insulin’s ability to enable fat cells to store fat. These FIRKO (Fat-specific Insulin Receptor Knock Out) mice ate substantially more than normal mice—in fact, as much as they wanted, yet they had 50 to 70 percent less body fat. They were also resistant to diabetes, remained healthier longer than the control animals, and lived 18% longer.
Low body fat. Although the diet of the FIRKO mice was just the opposite of caloric restriction, they obtained at least some (although not all) of the benefits of CR anyway. This suggests that at least one mechanism behind CR is simply maintaining a low level of body fat.
Blood glucose level. Both FIRKO mice and low-calorie animals have significantly lower blood glucose levels. That’s because these animals burn glucose for fuel at the same rate as the normal-eating animals; but with less caloric intake, there is less unused glucose left over
Level of free radicals. These highly reactive molecules are by-products of improper metabolism of food. Free radicals cause a gradual deterioration of body tissues, particularly fragile cell membranes. Many researchers attribute some aging processes to the effects of free radicals circulating in the bloodstream.29 The CR animals had substantially lower levels of free radicals (the result of less food metabolism), so they had less free-radical damage to cell membranes. Researchers have also discovered that the levels of a liver enzyme that detoxifies free radicals are about 60 percent higher in low—calorie animals.
DNA repair
Other researchers have discovered that CR animals have more robust DNA-repairing enzymes. Deterioration in the DNA code causes cancer and accelerates other aging processes, so the greater effectiveness of these enzymes would partially account for the slower aging and lower rate of tumors in these animals.
Life calorie limit. It is interesting to note that the total lifetime quantity of food eaten by CR animals and normal-eating animals was roughly the same. The low-calorie animals ate approximately two-thirds as much food per day but lived 50 percent longer, so the total amount of food eaten over their life span was about the same as that of the normal-eating animals. This is consistent with the idea of living cells as heat engines that wear out with the consumption of fuel rather than the passage of time. Hence the wisdom in T. S. Eliot’s quotation: “Our lives are measured, if not in coffee spoons, then in the calories of food that our spoons contain. ”
Each species seems to have a fixed number of calories that it can bum in the course of a lifetime. By eating a little less each day, there will be more days before these calories are used up. Of course, we intend to overcome this and other biological restrictions, but in the meantime we can take advantage of these insights into biology’s limitations.
But there is a limit to the ability of caloric restriction to extend life. Because of the need to obtain sufficient nutrients, we cannot, for example, restrict calories to, say, a third of normal levels and expect to live three times as long. Without adequate vitamins, minerals, protein, and other nutrients, a human or other animal will become ill and
ultimately die if the deficiency is not reversed. It appears that, at least in the case of animals such as rats, the optimal level of calories for longevity is about two-thirds that of what the animals will consume if they are eating freely. Below that, it is difficult or impossible to obtain adequate nutrition.
Applying CR To Humans
There have been a number of human population studies that illustrate the potential of caloric restriction for humans. For example, the people living in the Okinawa region of Japan have 40 times the number of centenarians (people age 100 or older) than the northeastern prefectures, and they have very little serious disease before age 60. Okinawans remain active much longer than their peers in other regions of Japan. The primary difference in their diet appears to be a lower caloric intake.
In applying the animal studies to humans, some researchers have estimated that our maximum life span might be extended from 120 years to 180. Of course, very few of us live to 120 as it is. These estimates refer to a theoretical maximum potential life span Perhaps more significant: this implies that by eating a diet low in calories but otherwise healthy, we are more likely to take full advantage of our current biological longevity.
The benefits of caloric restriction also extend to your remaining life expectancy. If you are 40 and thus have a remaining life expectancy of about 40 years, you will be extending only that remaining period. The earlier you start CR, the greater the benefits. Regardless of when you start, you’ll quickly realize the benefits.
Guidelines For Caloric Restriction
One result of restricting calories is, of course, losing weight. People who follow strict caloric restriction guidelines end up being very thin to the point of looking gaunt, which we don’t recommend. From a recent study, it is clear that at least some of the benefits of CR come from the resultant low level of body fat. Our recommendation, therefore, is to practice a moderate form of CR, not as austere as the 35 percent reduction used in the animal experiments. We suggest the following guidelines:
Eat a minimum of 12 calories per pound of your optimal weight. For example, a man with an optimal weight of 150 pounds should eat a minimum of about 1,800 calories per day; a woman with optimal weight of 125 pounds should eat at least 1,300 calories per day. Depending on your activity level, these figures are 10 percent to 33 percent lower than recommended in the above tables of maintenance calories.
Set your minimum weight at 95 percent of your optimal weight based on the charts provided earlier. For example, if your optimal weight is 200, your minimum weight would be 190 (200 times 0.95). If your weight falls below this minimum number, increase your calorie consumption. Select foods low in caloric density. The best way to reduce calories is to eat low-starch vegetables such as broccoli and summer squash, which are filling and have relatively few calories, instead of potatoes and rice.
Focus on fiber. Another choice is foods rich in fiber, which provides bulk and texture with no digestible calories. Fiber also has health benefits by lowering cholesterol levels, improving regularity, and reducing the risks of colon cancer. Most vegetables are, of course, high in fiber. There are also many foods designed to be carbohydrate substitutes that use fiber (as well as vegetable protein) to replace the bulk and texture of starch, such as low—carbohydrate cereals and breads.
Caloric Restriction Without the Restriction
A birth control pill that worked by suppressing interest in sex would probably find a limited market. People similarly enjoy the sensual pleasure of eating, so they don’t want that enjoyment restrained either. The solution is to eat a diet that has a very low glycemic load, limits carbohydrates, and is generally low in fats. However, it would still be desirable if we could eat more – perhaps as much as we wanted – and nonetheless enjoy the benefits of caloric restriction and remain slim, like the “lucky” FIRKO mice. So, while medications to control appetite will continue to play an important role, the holy grail of diet drugs is one that lets us eat as much as we want while maintaining an optimal weight.
In the Joslin study, blocking the FIR (fat insulin receptor) gene in the fat cells of mice enabled the mice to eat a lot and remain thin. Why? Since insulin is needed to help fat cells store fat, these animals had less fat and were protected against the obesity that occurs with aging or overeating. They also were protected against the metabolic abnormalities associated with obesity, including type 2 diabetes,” said Dr. C. Ronald Kahn, who headed the study.
Drug developers are currently working on translating these results into human drugs. Such drugs would clearly be blockbusters, and so we can be confident that efforts to develop them will be intense. In biotechnology research conducted by Roger Unger and his colleagues at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, a virus genetically engineered to deliver the gene for the hormone leptin, which controls appetite, was injected into the livers of rats. These rats then produced high levels of the hormone and lost weight. Leptin is normally produced by fat cells, but fat cells develop a resistance to their own leptin. Because it was coming from another organ (the liver), the fat cells remained sensitive to it.
Surprisingly, not only were the fat cells of the animals carrying less fat, but they also had an unusually large number of mitochondria. Normally, fat cells have very few mitochondria; muscle cells, which need a lot of energy, have many. Increasing the number of mitochondria in fat cells is remarkable and had not been seen before. Once perfected, this approach would have the effect of permanently increasing metabolism, thereby maintaining a low weight.
Precose, a prescription starch blocker, should be taken with meals. A more recent prescription starch blocker is Glyset. There are a number of “natural” starch blockers available over the counter; however, we have had mixed results with these products in our own informal tests, which suggest that Precose is more effective than nonprescription starch blockers.
These starch blockers do not block sugar because it doesn’t need to be broken down.
Xenicalis, a prescription drug that, like starch blockers, blocks key digestive enzymes called lipases, which break down fat. Xenical blocks about one-third of the fat consumed from being digested.
Another approach is a “natural” polymer called chitosan, a derivative of shellfish and available in health food stores, although it is less effective than Xenical. Chitosan binds to the fatty acids directly. It can bind up to about six times its own weight in fat, which then becomes indigestible and passes through the Gl tract.
A word of caution: fat blockers will inhibit fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin E, so don’t use one within three hours of (before or after) taking fat- soluble supplements. Fat blockers also block the fat-soluble vitamins contained in food as well as healthy fats, such as omega-3 fats and oleic acid If your fat consumption consists primarily of the healthy fats, binding a portion of these fats with a fat blocker may still be acceptable.
More effective calorie blockers, as well as body fat inhibitors, are in the pipeline. In the meantime, there are extensive benefits to restricting calories and maintaining a lower body weight. If you combine moderate caloric restriction with a diet that avoids high-glycemic-load foods, restricts carbohydrates, and is generally low in fat (while emphasizing healthy fats), you will find that you can be slim but still eat plenty of food-and never be hungry.

If my articles interest you, please use the link to check out my website and books:

http://www.politicalnovel.com/articles/

SOME TIPS FOR HEALTHY—AND PERMANENT—WEIGHT LOSS

Caloric Restriction. Your weight reflects your total calorie consumption, how much you exercise, and your metabolic rate, but the composition of the food you eat is also important. Here are some tips.
Reduce carbs. We have found that it’s almost impossible to lose weight and keep it off without eating substantially fewer carbohydrates, particularly those with a high glycemic load (GL). Consumption of high-GL carbohydrates leads to a desire for more carbohydrates. Eating a low-carbohydrate, low-GL diet will help you control your appetite and decrease cravings. You’ll feel full sooner, you’ll And it far easier to stop eating once you’re satisfied, and you’ll find yourself less hungry between meals. If you are trying to lose weight, we recommend you keep total carbohydrates under one-sixth of your calories and eliminate all high-GL carbohydrates such as sugary foods, pastas, and breads.
Reduce fats. Reducing fat in the diet aids weight loss because high-fat foods are more calorically dense: 9 calories per gram versus 4 for carbohydrates and protein.
Go for veggies. Emphasize foods that are low in caloric density (that is, low in calories but high in weight). The ideal category: low-starch vegetables, which have a low glycemic index and are rich in valuable nutrients of all kinds, high in fiber, and filling. Eat fiber. Consume at least 25 grams per day, including at least 10 grams of insoluble fiber.
Don’t switch foods radically. While you are losing weight, we strongly recommend against diets that involve eating in a significantly different way from how you intend to eat when not “dieting.” People count the days until they are released from this type of gastronomic prison. They do not associate the benefit of weight loss with learning proper eating habits— changing tastes, desires, and attitudes—but rather with the artificial eating patterns that they are anxious to leave. Consume the maintenance number of calories for your optimal weight as your starting point. This way you need to make only a single adjustment once. It may take a couple of weeks to adapt, but you will be on a track that you can maintain indefinitely.
Make health, not weight loss, your goal. If you set a healthy lifestyle as your goal, you are more likely to succeed in both improving your health and attaining permanent weight loss. Don’t be too anxious to drop pounds right away. Enjoying the experience is crucial. You want to associate the experience of reaching a healthy weight with that of healthy eating. It may take a few months longer, but it will ensure that you’ll never have to lose weight again.
A major reason people get discouraged and drop out of weight-loss programs is weight: plateaus. Gained muscle mass and blood-vessel expansion due to exercise may temporarily halt weight loss or cause a small gain, but these are actually very desirable phenomena. Since muscle weighs more than fat, you can lose body fat and inches without dropping pounds if you are building muscles at the same time. Changes in medication, menstruation, constipation, water retention, and other factors may also cause weight loss to slow down or even reverse. Remember that your goal is to lose body fat. None of these factors causes an increase in body fat, so do not be discouraged by minor shifts of weight in the wrong direction. Be patient.
Don’t rush weight reduction. One of the most important issues in weight loss is recidivism. Most people who lose weight end up gaining it back. Preliminary research on the ghrelin hormone, which is secreted in the stomach, may explain part of this troublesome problem. Ghrelin stimulates appetite at the same time that it slows down metabolism. Both of these effects contribute to increased fat storage. Levels of this hormone spike before each meal and drop after you’re full. People given injections of ghrelin become extremely hungry and studies show they eat much more when unlimited food is available, such as at a buffet.
A recent study at the University of Washington showed that ghrelin levels increase substantially after a period of rapid weight loss. Dr. David E. Cummings, the lead scientist on the study, thinks this was an evolutionary adaptation to encourage the body to regain the lost fat as protection from possible future famine. This genetic program no longer applies to our modern situation. Research is currently under way to develop medications that block ghrein and its stimulation of appetite and storage of body fat. Slow, gradual weight loss does not appear to cause the same spike in ghrelin levels, however. This is another important reason to approach your ideal weight gradually. Setting your daily caloric level to match your target weight’s maintenance level is the best way to lose weight once and to keep it off.
Get exercise. Physical activity is very important for burning calories lowering your “set point’ (the weight your body gravitates toward), and increasing your metabolic level (rate of burning calories), even while you are not exercising. We recommend burning at least 300 calories daily through exercise.
Raise your metabolic rate. A primary factor in determining your metabolic rate – the rate at which you burn calories – is the number of mitochondria in cells. Mitochondria are tiny energy factories that fuel every cell. The more you have, the more energy you will burn, which will keep you leaner. Unfortunately, we cannot simply take a mitochondria supplement. However, fat cells have very few mitochondria because fat cells store energy rather than burn it, whereas muscle cells have many because they need energy to perform their job. So as you build muscle cells from a regular exercise program, you increase your mitochondria, thereby permanently raising your metabolic rate, even when you are not exercising.

If my articles interest you, please use the link to check out my website and books:

http://www.politicalnovel.com/articles/

YOUR OPTIMAL CARBOHYDRATE INTAKE

It’s not unusual for people to consume 60 percent or more of their calories in the form of carbohydrates. We divide people into “low” and “moderate” carbohydrate groups, although our recommended level for even our moderate-carbohydrate folks is far less than many people normally eat.
Our low-carbohydrate group consists of five subgroups of people who should cut down carbohydrates to no more than one-sixth of their total calories and eliminate all high-glycemic-load carbohydrates.
Low-Carbohydrate Group
The five subgroups of the low-carbohydrate group are:
People trying to lose weight. Eliminating high-GL foods will assure success. By ending carbohydrate cravings, you’ll find that you can control your eating and feel full and satisfied on fewer calories. Failure to make this change will likely doom your chances of successfully losing and maintaining optimal weight.
People with TMS. The metabolic syndrome (or syndrome X), affects about a third of the adult population. People with TMS often have a fasting blood glucose level of 100 or higher, indicating that the body is not able to adequately process carbohydrates. This syndrome results in high blood pressure and greatly accelerates atherosclerosis, which is the underlying process in most heart disease. The most important change you can make to control TMS and prevent it from becoming full-blown type 2 diabetes is to reduce the total amount and type of high-GL carbohydrates in your diet.
People with type 2 diabetes. One of the main characteristics of type 2 diabetes is that the cells have become highly resistant to insulin, so the body’s cells can’t efficiently use the glucose in the blood, which causes blood glucose levels to remain high. In an effort to drive glucose levels down, the pancreas produces very high levels of insulin, which is itself a problem because insulin accelerates atherosclerosis and other aging processes. Eventually, the pancreas may burn itself out and stop generating insulin, worsening the diabetic condition.
People with elevated risk factors for heart disease. Cutting down sharply on carbohydrates will significantly improve your cholesterol and other lipid levels and lower your risk of heart disease.
People who have cancer. Unlike other cells and tissues in our body, cancer cells grow rapidly and have a voracious appetite for glucose. Glucose is the only food cancer cells can eat. By reducing the easy availability of glucose, you will help to prevent latent cancer cells from becoming full-blown tumors. Reducing carbohydrates, particularly of the high-GL variety, is one of the more important steps you can take to prevent cancer.
These five subgroups compose a majority of people in the United States and Europe. Note that our recommended intake of carbohydrates for people in this low-carbohydrate group is still higher than that recommended by other popular low-carb diets, such as the Atkins diet. Specifically, for this low-carbohydrate group, we make these recommendations. Eliminate high-GL foods, including pastries, desserts of all kinds containing sugar and refined starch, breads, bagels, pasta, and high-starch vegetables such as potatoes and rice. Limit total carb to less than one-sixth of your total calories
1) Generally avoid grains and fruit juices.
2) Eat very small quantities of low-GL fruits, such as berries and melons.
3) Eat limited quantities of acceptable carbohydrates such as legumes (beans, lentils) and nuts.
4) Eat larger quantities of acceptable carbohydrates such as low-starch vegetables, particularly fresh and lightly cooked. Good choices:
Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, Kale, mustard greens, Swiss chard, collards, spinach, all types of lettuce (red and green leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, endive, etc.). Chinese cabbage, bok choy, snow peas, celery. Cauliflower, zucchini, cucumbers. Green or “above ground” vegetables in general. Most vegetables that grow underground (“root crops”), such as potatoes, beets, and turnips, typically have many more total carbohydrates and a higher glycemic load than green (above ground) vegetables.

If my articles interest you, please use the link to check out my website and books:

http://www.politicalnovel.com/articles/

USE YOUR NOSE TO SUPPRESS YOUR APPETITE

One approach to weight-reduction drugs is to suppress appetite, the idea behind a nasal spray being developed by Nastech Pharmaceutical. The spray, now in phase I trials, is based on the hormone PYY, which the stomach normally releases when it is full. The drug triggers the feeling of satiety before you have actually filled your stomach.
Research demonstrates that the hormones leptin and ghrelin play a powerful role in appetite control. This may be due to their effects on the enzyme AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase). In mouse experiments, inhibiting AMPK caused the animals to eat less and lose weight, whereas increasing AMPK levels had the opposite effect. The authors of the study describe AMPK as “a ‘fuel gauge’ to monitor cellular energy status.” This finding indicates that drugs to control AMPK levels in humans have the potential to have the same impact. In a study published in the journal Science, researchers reported another mechanism by which leptin and ghrelin affect appetite: these hormones actually cause the brain to rewire itself. Previously it was thought that they acted like other hormones in affecting the behavior of brain cells directly. This research showed that leptin strengthened neural connections that inhibited eating and weakened connections that increased appetite. Ghrelin had the opposite effect and could undo the neural changes from earlier administration of leptin. It is almost as if the brain is developing a memory for the weight it wants the animals to be,” commented Dr. Jeffrey Flier of Beth Israel – Deaconess Hospital in Boston. The research underscores the power of these hormones to affect our eating behavior, so drugs that alter their balance have the potential to reprogram our eating in a healthier direction.
How Omega-3s Promote Weight-Loss:
Most people eat too few foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, walnuts, and flax seeds, and too many processed foods with excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids, including soy, corn, palm, and cottonseed oils. A typical Western diet now contains 20 to 30 times as much omega-6s as omega-3 fats, while a century ago people consumed about equal amounts. This fatty-acid imbalance in the diet may have ill effects on mental health. For instance, low levels of omega-3s have been linked to depression and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and the prevalence of those conditions has risen as omega-3 content in the diet has decreased. As scientists search for an explanation, more evidence suggests omega-3s are essential to normal brain development and function.
Joseph Hibbeln, MD, senior clinical investigator at the Laboratory of Membrane Biochemistry and Biophysics at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, has studied the connection between fish consumption and mental health worldwide. He found that those countries with the highest fish consumption have the lowest rates of depression, bipolar disorder, homicide, and suicide. One explanation may be the omega-3s found in some fish. The Japanese, for example, have the lowest rate of major depression in the developed world and eat about 145 pounds offish annually, while major depression rates in the United States, where people eat about 42 pounds a year, are roughly 30 times higher. Many other studies reinforce the mental health benefits of omega-3 fats. A 1999 study led by Andrew Stoll, MD, author of The Omega-3 Connection, tested the effects of omega-3 supplements on 30 patients with bipolar disorder (manic depression). After just four months, people given high doses offish oil in addition to taking their usual medication had significantly longer breaks between depressive episodes than those taking a placebo. People with ADHD also seem to have lower blood levels of healthy omega-3 fats. And research suggests that children with autism who take fish oil have better concentration, less aggression, and fewer sleep disturbances.
Doctors are also reporting positive results. “I recommend my patients with ADHD and autism supplement with fish oil to get more omega-3s,” says Tucson-based integrative pediatrician Sandy Newmark, MD. “In autism, you often see an improvement in language development and parents report improvement in social skills.”

If my articles interest you, please use the link to check out my website and books:

http://www.politicalnovel.com/articles/

LOSE A LITTLE WEIGHT, GAIN BIG ON YOUR HEALTH

LOSE A LITTLE WEIGHT, GAIN BIG ON YOUR HEALTH

You don’t need to be “the biggest loser,” dropping the most weight and body fat like the winner of the reality television series, to reap the benefits of weight loss. Losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can have a disproportionately positive effect on your health no matter how overweight you may be.
Scientists now know that body fat is not just a storage site, but also acts as an endocrine organ that produces hormones. When people become obese, their fat cells can plump up to three times the normal size, churning out more hormones that promote inflammation, the root cause of many diseases. “This knowledge about fat is revolutionary and enlightening because there are ways to treat obesity and reduce disease risk” says James Nicolai, MD, medical director of the Franciscan Center for Integrative Health in Indianapolis, Indiana, who assists numerous overweight and obese patients with weight management, “The idea of losing 5 to 10 percent of body weight and gaining great benefit from it is validated over and over again in medical research.”
Lowers risk of diabetes. There’s a direct correlation between obesity and type 2 diabetes, and losing weight may delay or prevent the full-blown disease. In the Diabetes Prevention Program, a study of some 3,200 overweight and obese people, researchers found that losing just 7 percent of body weight reduced the risk of diabetes by 58 percent for people with impaired glucose tolerance, which often precedes diabetes. How long diabetes can be delayed past the three-year period studied is unknown, but every year without diabetes can mean a year free of disability and costly health care.
Eases knee pain. Even taking off a few pounds may drastically reduce the burden on your knees. For every pound lost, there’s a four-pound reduction in the pressure that’s exerted on the knees, found a recent study that looked at nearly 150 older adults with osteoarthritis of the knee.
Reduces cardiovascular risk. Studies show that losing 5 to 13 percent of body weight can reduce harmful levels of triglycerides and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Moderate weight loss may also reduce or eliminate the need for blood pressure medication. One study concluded that a person with hypertension who took no medication and lost just 5 percent of 200 pounds, or 10 pounds, could expect a 7-point drop in systolic pressure and a 5-point drop in diastolic. What’s more, participants who lost weight and kept it off for three years showed a persistent reduction in blood pressure and were 65 percent less likely to be hypertensive compared to those who didn’t lose weight.
Taking the First Steps. If learning about these health benefits has renewed your motivation to lose weight, I have put together some advice on how to start losing those extra pounds.
1) Set realistic goals. A reduction of 500 to 1,000 calories a day from your calories maintenance level. That and exercise combined should result in one to two pounds lost a week. To check your progress, measure your waist. Abdominal or visceral fat puts stress on the internal organs and seems to set in motion metabolic changes that favor the development of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers; fortunately, it’s also among the first fat to go when you take weight off the right way.
2) Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. While this diet, which I recommend for everyone, is not specifically a weight-loss plan, eating mainly super low-fat protein, fresh fruit (berries), vegetables, whole grains, fish, and plant proteins helps reduce your risk of age-related diseases. It optimizes health by stabilizing blood sugar, lowering glycemic load, and adding more fiber and omega-3 fats to your diet.
3) Slowly start to exercise. Begin to walk for 20 minutes each day. You should feel like you’re moving briskly, not just strolling. If this is too hard on your joints, try water exercises. As your fitness improves, increase the time you spend exercising and gradually increase intensity.
4) Practice mind-body techniques. Stress is often linked to weight gain. Whether stress brings on weight gain or weight gain causes stress, you need to find ways to relax and tune into your body. Mind-body approaches such as breath work, meditation, yoga, and guided imagery are all helpful.
5) Become a conscious eater. Curb your emotional eating and become aware of situations that cause you to reach for an unhealthy snack or draw your focus away from your meal, such as the television or work. Eat slowly, savoring food’s flavors, colors, aromas, and textures.
6) Happier in the Bedroom. Weight loss may spark your sex life, too. People who lose up to 10 percent of their body weight report significant improvements in the quality of their sex life found Duke University researchers who collected questionnaires during a two-year study. The most significant improvements were seen during the first three months, following an 11 percent weight loss. Despite additional weight loss, improvements in sex life remained relatively stable. Women, the majority of the 187 participants, seemed to have more sexual problems at the start of the study and more benefit midway. One year into the study, the number of women who felt sexually unattractive dropped from 68 percent to 26 percent. And women also felt more comfortable being seen naked and had increased desire and sexual enjoyment. The small number of men in the study reported similar improvements.

If my articles interest you, please use the link to check out my website and books:

http://www.politicalnovel.com/articles/

THE POWER OF TOUCH: TRIMMING YOUR WAIST LINE

Whether It’s holding hands, petting the dog, or getting a back rub – all of these can influence our physical and emotional health. Because skin is our largest and perhaps most sensitive organ, it provides us with ample opportunity to reap the benefits of touch. Studies on touch suggest it may reduce stress, ease arthritis pain, increase airflow in asthmatics, and improve immune function, and remove fat from your stomach and waistline. Other research shows that babies who receive little physical affection develop abnormally. In a touch-deprived culture like ours, I encourage people of all ages to find ways to touch and be touched.
Touching is an easy connection to make because it feels so good. I hug my friends as often as possible and urge you to become comfortable doing so. Tools like hand-held massagers can’t replicate the human interaction, so give a massage or get one, dance with a partner, and create social connections that are physically and emotionally meaningful. In addition to everyday interactions, there are many different touch therapies to choose from. Hands-on approaches such as Reiki and reflexology influence the flow of energy throughout the body, while manipulative techniques, like chiropractic care and massage therapy, affect body structure.
Many benefits of touch are attributed to a reduction in Cortisol, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal gland. Scientists have also observed changes in heart rate and blood pressure after touching certain points on the body and noted changes in brain chemicals thought to affect stress and pain.
Although studies have focused on touch therapy rather than everyday touch, the science likely applies to both. In recent studies, massage at moderate pressure was effective in lowering Cortisol levels, while light pressure showed no effect. This may explain why people prefer a firm handshake, says Tiffany Field, MD, lead researcher and director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine.
Dr. Field is looking for the mechanism behind reactions to touch. “We did research with HIV and breast cancer patients and were very surprised that touch had a positive effect on the immune system. When we looked at the underlying cause, we found that touch decreased Cortisol levels,” says Dr. Field. “We know Cortisol kills natural killer cells, the front line of defense in the immune system. Now it doesn’t seem so surprising.”
Giving touch can be even more beneficial than getting it. A study found that the psychological effects of a massage were greater when volunteer grandparents gave a massage to an infant than when they received one. Other studies involving parents of children with chronic conditions found that the parents reduced their own stress levels by giving their children massages.
The social consequences of our aversion to touch may be far-reaching. Dr. Field thinks there’s a correlation between no-touch school policies created in the 1980s, which are still in effect, and an increase in youth violence. “When baby animals are restrained from touch, they become violent,” says Dr Field.
I agree with Dr. Field that our society has yet to truly evaluate the effects of a lack of touch. But I’m glad that massage therapy is becoming more popular, and I’m curious to see whether aging baby boomers will change our cultural bias against the elderly, who are the largest untouched population.

If my articles interest you, please use the link to check out my website and books:

http://www.politicalnovel.com/articles/

THE REALITY OF A RAW FOODS DIET

THE REALITY OF A RAW FOODS DIET

A raw foods diet is a hot trend in eating, without the kitchen even getting warm. Foods are either eaten raw or prepared using methods where the heat goes no higher than 116′ F. Raw foodists say that higher cooking temperatures destroy the enzymes in foods, making the body work harder to digest them.
What it is. A raw foods diet is also vegan, consisting mainly of fresh fruits and vegetables (ideally organic), along with nuts, seeds, and sprouted beans. Refined sugars, meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products are avoided. Nothing is cooked. Beverages run from juices and purified water to sun tea (brewed by sunlight) and even wine. Not cooking may sound easy, but going raw can be challenging and labor intensive.
To venture beyond eating fresh produce, nuts, and salads, your kitchen may need a juicer / blender or food processor, dehydrator, sprouter to grow your own, and spiralizer to slice vegetables thinly. Ground nuts serve as flour, while vegetable ribbons become pasta. The diet includes both raw foods, meaning fruits and vegetables in their uncooked state, and “living” foods, which are fermented or cultured with good bacteria, dehydrated, or sprouted.
Health claims. Raw food enthusiasts typically lose weight and report having more energy, thinking clearer, feeling better overall, and getting sick less. There’s limited scientific evidence to support these claims.
Mv take. A low-fat, high-fiber diet may fall short in calcium, iron, zinc, omega-3s, and vitamins D and B-12. The argument that raw foods preserve enzyme content is, frankly, nuts. The enzymes in food are destroyed by stomach acid as thoroughly as by cooking. Also, there is nothing unhealthy about cooked foods:
Cooking is one of the greatest inventions for improving health and longevity. Some nutrients like lycopene in tomatoes are more available to the body from cooked foods. Cooking also destroys natural toxins in mushrooms, beans, and other vegetables. The raw foods restaurants I’ve visited use nuts immoderately, and most dishes require far more work to make than I’m willing to do at home.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO EXERCISE AND LOSE THE MOST WEIGHT?

Exercise is good for you any time of day, but science has found certain advantages and disadvantages to working out at different times. Consider these factors before choosing when to work out, and experiment to see how different times affect you.
Morning. An early workout can start your day right by boosting your energy and releasing endorphins (natural mood boosters). There’s also some evidence that early-bird exercisers tend to make fitness a habit and stick with it. Plus, morning exercise may help you sleep better at night. In a study of postmenopausal women with sleep problems, morning exercisers who worked out at least 3.5 hours a week had less trouble falling asleep than evening exercisers. Researchers speculate that morning exercise affects hormone levels in ways that promote better sleep.
Yet, an AM workout may mean getting out of bed earlier, a potential obstacle. Plus, morning exercisers may be more prone to injury: Your body temperature is at its lowest, leaving your muscles less flexible. To sidestep this, move in slow motion for 10 minutes until your muscles are warmed up.
Afternoon. My favorite time to exercise is usually 3 or 4 p.m. Recent research suggests a late-afternoon workout may be the most productive because that’s when your body temperature is highest. Your muscles are more flexible and less prone to injury, your lung performance is at its best, and you have the greatest strength.
If you like to exercise in the early afternoon, such as during your lunch break, I suggest doing so before you eat if you’re trying to lose weight. Since carbohydrates turn into blood sugar, consuming carbohydrate-rich foods before a workout will cause the body to use that sugar as fuel. This prevents the burning of fat calories and keeps fat stores intact. If you want to shed pounds, work out on an empty stomach.
Evening. After a long day, an evening workout helps to relieve stress. But depending on the timing, exercise can be stimulating and interfere with sleep. This is less of a problem if you avoid working out within one to three hours before heading to bed; that’s about how long it usually takes for your body temperature to decrease after vigorous physical activity.

SIX GREAT FOODS

What’s ahead for food and nutrition in the coming years? I hope to see more movement toward an anti-inflammatory diet. This eating plan is not truly a “diet” but rather the nutritional component of a healthy lifestyle. It recommends more fresh fruits (mostly berries) and low Gl vegetables, whole grains, and foods rich in omega-3 fats such as salmon, walnuts, and ground flax and more low-fat animal protein, lower saturated and trans fats, as well as less foods made from refined flour and sugar. Eating this way can help prevent age-related diseases linked with chronic inflammation. I think the low-carb craze is passing. But know the difference between good carbs, which are digested slowly, and lower-quality choices that are digested rapidly, raise blood sugar, and may promote weight gain. For this year, I’ll spotlight six foods to eat more often:
Berries. These small, colorful fruits are loaded with antioxidants that may help protect against cancer and oxidative damage to the eyes, brain, heart, and joints. Berries are easy on calories and brimming with fiber and phytonutrients, and they won’t cause spikes in blood sugar, either. Among them, blueberries top the antioxidant charts thanks to their powerful pigments. I prefer organic varieties.
Black cod. Increasingly available in this country, black cod might also be called butter-fish or sablefish in restaurants and fish markets. Its velvety and mild-flavored flesh is treasured in Japan. With more omega-3 fats than salmon, black cod is a good food for your heart and has low levels of mercury and PCB contaminants. Smoked sable sold at Jewish or Russian delis is black cod, a fish that can also be broiled, steamed, or grilled in miso (soybean paste). Choose black-cod products from Alaska, where it’s a sustainable resource.
Buckwheat: While considered a whole grain, buckwheat is a relative of rhubarb and contains no wheat. A slowly digested carbohydrate that’s filled with fiber, buckwheat has an earthy taste. People with wheat allergies or celiac disease can eat buckwheat grits, groats, and kernels (known as kasha) because they lack gluten. (But products made with buckwheat flour including breads and Japanese soba noodles may also contain wheat flour unless they’re labeled gluten free.)
Sweet potatoes: Let these Thanksgiving favorites grace your table year-round. These yellow- and orange-fleshed vegetables earn praise as excellent sources of vitamins A ( carotenoids that preserve eye health) and C, and for their fiber if you eat the skin. A baked one has about 100 calories. Okinawans enjoy purple-fleshed sweet potatoes.
Turmeric: The color and flavor of curries and American mustard come from this yellow-orange spice that’s a staple in Indian and Asian cooking. Turmeric is being intensely studied for its anti-inflammatory and cancer-protective effects. With evidence growing for the health benefits of curcumin, turmeric’s medically active ingredient, I suggest spicing up your cooking with it now. This spring, make turmeric tea—a refreshing, unsweetened instant beverage commonly served cold in Okinawa.
Walnuts. These plant-based powerhouses of alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) and vitamin E can also supply a sweet and crunchy source of protein and fiber.
Whether you snack on a handful, mix into salads and main dishes, or chop them into baked goods, walnuts are versatile and rank as one of the most popular nuts in the world.

MORE WEIGHT LOSS MYTHS

Losing weight is hard work. People feel they have to count calories, endure hunger pangs, and work up a sweat. It’s no wonder so many give up and regain hard-lost pounds. The reason we are losing the battle of the bulge is that we have bought into some common myths about weight loss. Here are six and what to do instead.
#1 – The less vou eat, the more vou’ll lose. When you starve yourself your body engages a primitive response that compensates for starvation by making you overeat. Also, the brain slows down the metabolism to conserve calories and energy, so losing weight becomes harder and harder. Solution: never go on a diet. Instead eat foods that turn on your metabolism like omega-3 fatty acids, and foods that signal the hypothalamus to shut down the hunger for more food (protein, and nuts).
#2 – It doesn’t matter what kind of exercise vou do. as lona as vou exercise. Weight training not only protects against osteoporosis, but it raises the metabolic rate for up to 48 hours after you are done; whereas aerobic exercise raises the metabolic rate for only 1-2 hours after you are done. Aerobics are fine as a secondary exercise, but weight training should be primary.
#3 – You can control vour weight bv counting calories. A 100 calories of cookies are not the same as 100 calories of carrots. Food is not simply about calories. Everything you eat contains instructions for your DNA, your hormones, and your metabolism. Different foods contain different information. For example, the sugar in soda enters your blood rapidly, increasing insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone that promotes fat storage around the middle and raises inflammation levels in the body, which in turn promotes more weight gain. On the other hand, the same amount of sugar from kidney beans enters your blood more slowly. Because sugar is absorbed over time, your insulin levels remain stable and more calories are burned and fewer are stored.
#4 – Eating fat makes vou fat. Dietary fat does not correlate with excess body fat. Any weight-loss resulting from a low-fat diet is usually modest and temporary. All fats are not created equal. Good fats (omega-3 and monosaturated fats) can help you lose weight. Bad fats – include polyunsaturated vegetable oil such as corn and safflower and most saturated fat in meat and animal products such as butter – clog arteries and stimulate the appetite center. Ugly fat are trans fat often found in snack food and packaged baked goods. Good fats improve metabolism and help you burn fats. Saturated and trans fats turn off fat-burning genes.
#5 – Going low carb will make vou thin. Carbs are just as important as protein for log-term health and weight loss. They are the source of most vitamins, minerals and fiber in our diet. All the phytonutrients come from plants. These are key regulators of our health. Phytonutrients turn on the genes that help us burn fat and age more slowly. Eat complex cars; vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and beans. Keep grains to a minimum. Eat low-glycemic foods as opposed to products where the fiber has been taken out.
#6 – it doesn’t matter what time vou eat. Don’t eat within 2 hours of going to bed, because your body needs time to digest and burn off you food. Eat throughout the day. Breakfast is most important.