Thursday, June 25, 2015
Monday, June 22, 2015
Load up on health-boosting superfoods that combat breast cancer, heart disease and more
If you’re tired of reading about must-eat superfoods that are hard to find—and even harder to pronounce; (hello, açai berry and quinoa)—take heart:
Your pantry may hold more superpowered wonders than you realize!
From chocolate and coffee to red wine and walnuts, the following eight amazing everyday foods can help improve your health.
Good news for all the chocoholics out there: Cocoa just might be one of the heart-healthiest foods around!
A 2011 Harvard study found that organic compounds called flavonoids that are contained in cacao (the bean used to make chocolate) are associated with reduced blood pressure as well as improved blood vessel health, cholesterol levels and general blood flow.
"All of these things are protective against heart disease," says Eric Ding, PhD, conductor of the study and a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.
"But the HDL findings—the increase in good cholesterol—nobody knew about that until our study, as well as the improved blood flow."
As good as that news is, it’s not a green light to eat any and every chocolate bar you come across.
"Eighty percent of the chocolate we consume in this country is not healthy," says Joseph Maroon, MD, professor of neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh and author of The Longevity Factor.
"It's pure sugar and doesn't have the flavonoids in it from the original cacao tree and bean."
The experts we spoke to recommend snacking on two to four squares per day of dark chocolate that has at least 70% to 75% cacao, because it has more flavonoids.
If you're not a chocolate fan, Dr. Ding and Dr. Maroon both recommend taking a 400 to 450 mg cocoa flavonoid supplement in lieu of eating squares.
Photo: Martina Vignatelli/iStock
While coffee has been widely touted for its health benefits, a recent study amounted to a small victory for male coffee drinkers.
According to a 2011 Harvard study, coffee consumption has been linked to decreased rates of prostate cancer.
In the study, men who drank six or more cups of coffee per day were found to have a 20% lower risk of developing prostate cancer and a 60% lower risk of developing lethal prostate cancer, according to researcher Lorelei Mucci, PhD, study author and associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.
"We saw the same lower risk whether the men only drank decaf, only drank caffeinated or drank both, so it's something other than the caffeine," Dr. Mucci says.
Though downing six cups of joe every day is probably too much for most people, rest assured that the study still found lower rates of prostate cancer in men who only drank one to three cups per day, compared to those who drank none at all.
Get him in the habit by making a double batch when enjoying your morning brew.
Photo: Michael Flippo/iStock
While it may not be the most popular leafy green, watercress has been associated with one very positive health impact for women: It may inhibit the growth of breast cancer tumors.
Though only a small study was conducted, scientists at England’s University of Southampton reported in 2011 that a compound in watercress can "turn off" the signal that sends blood flow to a tumor, in essence stopping the tumor in its tracks.
"All cancers develop new blood vessels, so if you interfere with the development of new blood vessels, you effectively impede the blood supply to the tumor," Dr. Maroon says.
"A lot of the drugs [that treat breast cancer] prevent the tumors from making new blood vessels, and in that way, can slow, impede or eradicate the growth of some tumors."
Although more research is needed, it’s safe to assume that adding this leafy green to your diet, whether as a sandwich topping or in salads, couldn’t hurt.
Most nuts are recognized as superfoods, thanks to a high concentration of unsaturated fatty acids, like omega-3s, which help lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease.
However, a 2011 study indicates that walnuts might be the most super nut of them all.
According to study author Joe Vinson, PhD, professor of chemistry at Scranton University in Pennsylvania, walnuts contain twice the amount of antioxidants per ounce as peanuts and almonds, two popular types of nuts consumed in the U.S.
His research found that all nuts in general were better sources of antioxidants when compared to pure vitamin E (a type of antioxidant).
But when walnuts were compared to peanuts and almonds, they were found to be better in terms of the "quality and quantity of antioxidants."
According to Kari Kooi, RD, corporate wellness dietitian at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, that means walnuts can not only help improve cholesterol levels but also help manage your weight by providing satisfying heart-healthy fats and protein.
Olive oil has long been associated with the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet, but it may benefit more than just your ticker.
In a 2011 study, researchers analyzed the olive oil consumption of 7,625 French people 65 or older and found that those whose use of olive oil was "intensive" were 41% less likely to suffer a stroke compared with those who never consumed olive oil.
"We can't infer which aspects of olive oil may prevent stroke," says study author Cécilia Samieri, PhD, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Bordeaux in France.
However, Dr. Samieri says, it’s possible that the oleic acid in olive oil decreases the absorption of saturated fats—and, ultimately, the chance of stroke.
It looks like an apple a day really can keep the doctor away—especially when it comes to heart health.
A 2011 study conducted by researchers at Florida State University compared postmenopausal women who ate 75 grams of dried apple a day to women who ate other types of dried fruit.
The result? Women who ate the dried apple saw a 23% drop in their LDL ("bad") cholesterol, as well as a 4% increase in their HDL ("good") cholesterol.
What’s more, the additional 240 calories derived from the dried apple slices didn't cause participants to gain weight—the apple group actually lost an average of 3.3 lbs over the course of the year in which the study was conducted.
Although dried apples were used in the study, eating the equivalent amount of fresh apples is believed to produce similar results.
New research may make you think twice before buying that loaf of white bread.
Foods that contain whole grains and bran, like stone-ground whole-grain bread, brown rice and old-fashioned oatmeal, can help protect against coronary heart disease and aid in digestive health.
They also improve insulin sensitivity, which can help better control your sugar levels—a vital factor for diabetics.
A 2010 study found that the intake of whole grains was associated with a 16 to 31% overall reduction in the risk of dying from any cause in participants with type 2 diabetes.
"Whole grains can slow the absorption of cholesterol, just like some of the drugs that you take [for high cholesterol] do,” says Dr. Maroon.
In essence, by improving your overall cholesterol count, you can help lower your risk of heart disease.
What could be better than chocolate being good for you? Red wine! (In moderation, of course.)
According to a 2011 report from the University of Florida, which reviewed several studies on resveratrol—a polyphenol compound that is naturally found in red wine—it may have "anti-aging, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties."
It is important to note that the studies were conducted on laboratory animals, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to support the claim.
The key is in the polyphenols, which Dr. Maroon says, “can reduce inflammation…increase HDL and lower LDL [cholesterol levels], have a mild to modest effect on blood pressure, dilate blood vessels to improve blood flow to the brain and heart, and lower insulin resistance," which helps prevent type 2 diabetes.
However, that doesn't mean you can drink a bottle of wine every night with dinner. "I don't encourage people to drink alcohol who haven't in the past [or who suffer from alcoholism]," says Dr. Maroon.
"What I do say is one glass of wine for women and no more than two for men [per day] is healthy.”
Though wine is no fountain of youth, it can help delay the body's aging process.
Sunday, June 21, 2015
By Dr. Mekola
Don’t Fall for the Latest 'Designer Water' Fad...
As a general rule, I advise using water as your primary form of beverage. Many simply do not drink enough water these days. But don’t be fooled by slick marketing.
There are a number of “designer water” products available, and none of them can really beat plain, pure water.
For example, on April 1, Coca-Cola released its latest enhanced water product called “Fruitwater,” described as “a great tasting, naturally flavored zero calorie sparking water beverage.”7 Despite its name, the product does NOT contain any juice.
Rather it’s sweetened with sucralose and “natural fruit flavors.” Sucralose (Splenda) is an artificial sweetener that, like aspartame, is associated with a host of side effects, including:
• Gastrointestinal problems
• Seizures, dizziness and migraines
• Blurred vision
• Allergic reactions
• Blood sugar increases and weight gain
Artificially Sweetened Water is a Recipe for Poor Health
Different artificial sweeteners have been found to wreak havoc in a number of different ways. Aspartame, for example, has a long list of studies indicating its harmful effects, ranging from brain damage to pre-term delivery.
Sucralose has been found to be particularly damaging to your intestines. A study8 published in 2008 found that sucralose:
• Reduces the amount of good bacteria in your intestines by 50 percent
• Increases the pH level in your intestines, and
• Affects a glycoprotein in your body that can have crucial health effects, particularly if you're on certain medications like chemotherapy, or treatments for AIDS and certain heart conditions
In response to this study, James Turner, chairman of the national consumer education group Citizens for Health issued the following statement:9
"The report makes it clear that the artificial sweetener Splenda and its key component sucralose pose a threat to the people who consume the product. Hundreds of consumers have complained to us about side effects from using Splenda and this study ... confirms that the chemicals in the little yellow package should carry a big red warning label."
That was nearly five years ago, yet many are still in the dark about these health risks.
Having healthy gut flora is absolutely vital for your optimal health, so clearly, any product that can destroy up to half of your healthy intestinal bacteria can pose a critical risk to your health!
Many are already deficient in healthy bacteria due to consuming too many highly processed foods.
This is why I recommend eating fermented vegetables every day, or at the very least taking a high quality probiotic.
Believe me, if you continuously destroy up to 50 percent of your gut flora by regularly consuming sucralose, then poor health is virtually guaranteed.
So please, do not make “Fruitwater” a staple drink thinking you’re doing something beneficial for your health...
Remember, pure water IS a zero calorie drink.
You cannot find a beverage that contains fewer calories.
If you think about it, why on earth would you choose artificially sweetened water over regular mineral water? If you want some flavor, just squeeze a little bit of fresh lemon or lime into mineral water as they have virtually no fructose in them.
Unfortunately, most public health agencies and nutritionists in the United States still recommend these toxic artificial sweeteners as acceptable and even preferred alternatives to sugar, which is at best confusing and at worst seriously damaging the health of those who listen to this well-intentioned but foolish advice.
Contrary to popular belief, research has shown that artificial sweeteners can stimulate your appetite, increase carbohydrate cravings, and stimulate fat storage and weight gain.
In fact, diet sodas may actually double your risk of obesity. So much for being an ally in the battle against the bulge...
The Case Against ALL Bottled Waters...
While we’re on the subject of commercially available water products, let me remind you that bottled water in general is a bad idea.
Not only are you paying about 1,900 percent more for the same or similar water you get straight from your tap, water stored in plastic bottles have other health risks as well.
The plastic often used to make water bottles contains a variety of health-harming chemicals that can easily leach out and contaminate the water, such as:
• Cancer-causing PFOAs
• PBDEs (flame retardant chemicals), which have been linked to reproductive problems and altered thyroid levels
• The reproductive toxins, phthalates
• BPA, which disrupts the endocrine system by mimicking the female hormone estrogen
If you leave your water bottle in a hot car, or reuse it, your exposure is magnified because heat and stress increase the amount of chemicals that leach out of the plastic.
So the container your water comes in needs to receive just as much attention as the water itself, and plastic is simply not a wise choice from a health perspective … not to mention the extreme amounts of toxic waste produced!
What’s the Healthiest Beverage You Can Drink?
Sweetened beverages, whether it’s sweetened with sugar, HFCS, naturally-occurring fructose, or artificial sweeteners, are among the worst culprits in the fight against obesity and related health problems, including diabetes, heart- and liver disease, just to name a few.
Remember that sweetened beverages also include flavored milk products, bottled teas, and “enhanced” water products.
Ditching ALL of these types of beverages can go a long way toward reducing your risk for chronic health problems and weight gain. So what should you drink?
Your best most cost effective choice is to drink filtered tap water.
The caveat though is to make sure you filter your tap water.
I've written a large number of articles on the hazards of tap water, from fluoride to dangerous chemicals and drugs, to toxic disinfection byproducts and heavy metals, so having a good filtration system in place is more of a necessity than a luxury in most areas. Remember, nothing beats pure water when it comes to serving your body’s needs.
If you really feel the urge for a carbonated beverage, try sparkling mineral water with a squirt of lime or lemon juice.
Another option to consider is to bottle your own water from a gravity-fed spring.
There's a great website called FindaSpring.com where you can find natural springs in your area.
This is a great way to get back to nature and teach your children about health and the sources of clean water.
The best part is that most of these spring water sources are free!
Just remember to bring either clear polyethylene or glass containers to collect the water so no unsafe chemicals can contaminate your water on the way home. If you choose to use glass bottles, be sure to wrap them in towels to keep them from breaking in the car.
SOYAPLUS PROVIDES A CREDIBLE AND VERITABLE PROTEIN RICH SUBSTITUTE FOR ALL SUGARY AND ARTIFICIALLY SWEETENED DRINKS
Thursday, June 18, 2015
There's no magic bullet or secret pill — sustainable weight loss does not happen overnight.
If want to take off weight and keep it off for good, some major healthy lifestyle changes need to occur in order for your results to last.
Here are the 10 rules to live by every day.
1. Thou Shalt Eat Breakfast
Healthy foodie trends may come and go, but breakfast is a must.
People who eat breakfast regularly lose more weight, since it jump-starts your metabolism, helping your body to burn more fat.
With that said, any old breakfast won't do! Follow this nutritionist-approvedweight-loss breakfast formula to choose yours wisely and start seeing results sooner.
2. Thou Shalt Keep It Clean
One of the very fastest ways to see and feel results is to cut out processed foods and fill up on fresh foods straight from the Earth.
Whenever possible, opt for whole, natural foods and follow our clean eating dos and don'ts.
Once you clean up your diet and cut out the junk, you'll start feeling and seeing enormous changes.
After a few weeks, you'll wonder how you ever ate any other way.
3. Thou Shalt Control Portions
Even when you choose healthy foods, overeating these good-for-you choices can sabotage your weight-loss goals, and you might not even realize you're overdoing it.
Use this handy printable chart to start learning about just how much constitutes one serving, or instead of eyeballing your meals, pick up some portion-control products so you can be as precise as possible.
4. Thou Shalt Welcome a Sweaty Workout Session
When it comes to working out and losing weight, 15 minutes a few times a week is simply not enough.
For her clients who want to lose weight, Michelle Bridges of The Biggest Loser Australia recommends working out "six days a week, ideally for 50 to 60 minutes at a time," and you can't be afraid to go intense, feel the burn, and build up a sweat.
Your clothes should not be dry when you leave the gym! Not every workout has to be a crazy sweat session, but Michelle says three of your workouts every week should be "hard" exercise like interval training in order to see results.
5. Thou Shalt Set Minigoals
As you move along on your weight-loss journey, there is so much more to revel in beyond a tiny number on the scale.
Setting specific and personal minigoals like training for a race, slipping into the old pair of jeans, or grabbing heavier weights will help you stay connected and realize just how much progress you're making every day.
These may seem like small wins, but they're absolutely worth celebrating.
6. Thou Shalt Drink (More) Water
You'd be surprised just how many people confuse hunger with dehydration.
Keeping your water bottle full all day long keeps your body in tip-top shape and helps you steer clear of unnecessary snacking.
To maximize your water intake for weight loss, dietitian Julie Upton, MS, RD, recommends "drinking about half of your body weight in fluid ounces of water (or other calorie-free beverages).
Cold water provides a brief shock to your metabolism, raising it by about 30 percent so that over the course of a day, your body will burn about 100 more calories."
7. Thou Shalt Plan Ahead
Occasionally enjoying a sweet treat or special meal out are essential parts of any sustainable weight-loss plan, but it only works when you're realistic about your indulgences and learn to plan ahead.
Heading to the beach next weekend? Keep your diet extra clean leading up to your getaway.
This way you have a little more wiggle room to enjoy as you please.
We're big believers in the 80/20 rule over here; eighty percent of the time you keep your diet clean and the other 20 percent of the day you're able to indulge freely.
The math is simple: if you eat three square meals a day, three of those meals are the 20 percent of your week up for grabs.
8. Thou Shalt Strength Train
If you were fed the myth that strength training impedes weight loss and messes with results, it's time to change your tune.
Strength training builds muscle mass while boosting your metabolism.
You might not tip the scale, but strength training is where the real resculpting of your body happens.
Once you start lifting and moving through bodyweight moves at home, you'll be hooked.
9. Thou Shalt Rest Well
Getting adequate sleep every night makes sure you have the energy to power through your workout, but it's also been proven to help curb a ravenous appetite, since those who get adequate sleep eat an average of 300 calories less than those who don't.
Sleep also surprisingly fights against "fat" genes. In one study that looked at twins, the twin who slept longer had a lower BMI than the twin who did not. In short?
Wind down and get to bed earlier.
Your body thanks you in advance for supporting all its hard work in the kitchen and the gym.
10. Thou Shalt Remain Positive
When you treat yourself with kindness, you're able to bounce back faster and stay on track for longer.
Keep a healthy sense of humor, leave room to laugh, and take it day by day.
Every experience won't be perfect, but when you're kind to yourself and keep a positive outlook, this whole weight-loss thing will feel a lot easier.
When people feel down, browsing social media profiles of people they consider less attractive, not-so successful, or less well-off can provide a pick-me-up.
That’s per a new study on social media schadenfreude from Ohio State University.
Researchers asked 168 college students experiencing either good or bad moods to browse a made-up social networking site and look at user profiles, with varying levels of “hotness” and “career success.”
People who weren’t feeling their best spent a lot more time on lower-ranked profiles, perhaps in an effort to elevate their egos.
Personally, I find that browsing Facebook and Instagram gives me serious domestic anxiety—the pumpkins and mums on our front porch seem downright pathetic in comparison to other people’s Halloween decor extravaganzas.
Mostly, I experience the schadenfreude effect from reading online news stories.
Or, rather, the “Today Is A Good Day Because I Wasn’t Attacked By Killer Bees” effect.
That’s how I felt last week when I read about a poor landscaper in Arizona who died after a 10-year-old hive with some 800,000 bees went wild.
And I felt the same thing when yet another story about bees attacking a man, this one in Texas, hit my news feed. (Killer bees: trending!)
That’s the thing about our online existence: Every day, we’re exposed to countless local stories and videos, along with international tidbits, about various freaky things that befall other people. (I do not mean gloating over avoiding major disasters or epidemics—this is about sidestepping random incidents and situations).
Sad to say, it regularly gives me perspective on how relatively good my life is. Phew, don’t have to deal with mountain lions prowling our neighborhood! Whoa, at least I wasn’t on a plane stuck on a tarmac for a bazillion hours!
At least my partner doesn’t like to endlessly quote Lord of The Rings, like that woman’s boyfriend in that viral video!
Who needs shrinks when you have a daily dose of web therapy?
On an average day, 30 percent of American adults walk for exercise and with good reason.
Walking doesn’t require special equipment or athletic skills, yet it offers a host of health benefits -- from helping you lose weight and lifting your mood to controlling diabetes and lowering your blood pressure.
In fact, a showed that adding 150 minutes of brisk walking to your routine each week can add 3.4 years to your lifespan.
Here are 10 surprising ways to use walking to boost your health, along with tips to make starting and sticking to a walking routine more fun.
Avoiding weight gain might be as simple as taking a walk.
Researchers at Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston for more than 13 years.
They found that, over time, the women who ate a standard diet and walked for an hour a day (or did some other similar moderate-activity exercise) were able to successfully maintain their weight.
Buddy up for fitness -- walk with a friend, neighbor, or a four-legged pal. A found that dog-owners walked more each week and were more likely to reach the recommended levels of physical activity than those who do not own dogs.
A heart-pumping walking routine can help lower your blood pressure, studies show.
A found that moderate-intensity walking was just as effective as jogging at lowering risk of high blood pressure.
Can’t find a full 30 minutes to walk? Spread it out throughout your day -- 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there will add up if you stick with it.
According to the , breaking your workout into several shorter workouts throughout the day is just as effective as one longer workout session, while also making it easier to fit exercise into your schedule.
According to the 2014 World Alzheimer’s Report, regular exercise is one of the best ways to combat the onset and advancement of the disease.
In addition, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and found that walking at least six miles a week was linked to less brain shrinkage.
Download upbeat music you love to listen to on your iPod, and take it with you while you walk.
An found that music not only makes exercise more enjoyable, but it can also boost endurance and intensity.
Walking is a great form of weight-bearing exercise, which helps prevent the bone-thinning condition osteoporosis, as well as osteoarthritis, the degenerative disease that causes joint pain, swelling and stiffness.
Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, such as walking have the healthiest knees because walking can help maintain healthy cartilage.
Reward yourself. After you stick to your new walking routine for a few weeks, treat yourself to a new pair of shoes, a manicure, or something else that will keep you motivated.
Walking may reduce your chances of developing some cancers.
Research published in found that women who walked at least seven hours per week were 14 percent less likely to develop breast cancer.
Similarly, a study conducted by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco and Harvard University, at least three hours a week reduced their chances of a recurrence.
Explore. Try a new route around the neighborhood, pick a different trail at the park, or go walking in a new location altogether to keep it interesting.
“A 20- to 30-minute walk can help lower for 24 hours,” says Tami Ross, RD, LD, a spokesperson for the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Plus, The Diabetes Prevention Program,, found that even a small weight loss -- for example, 10 to 15 pounds for a 200-pound person -- can delay and possibly prevent the onset of the disease.
Adding a brisk walk to your daily routine is one of the easiest ways to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
Dress for the occasion. A good pair of walking shoes and comfortable clothes that are easy to move in are essential for a successful workout.
Walking may help lower your cholesterol and, in turn, your risk for heart disease.
According to the , walking just 30 minutes per day can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
And since regular walking can keep cholesterol and blood pressure in check, it is a great way to boost your overall .
Challenge yourself to walk more steps every day and make fitness more fun, by using a pedometer or other fitness tracking device to chart your progress.
You can set new step goals each week and even join challenges with friends and family to motivate yourself to get moving.
A brisk walk can boost your mood and may even help you treat depression.
A published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that depressed adults who walked for 30 to 45 minutes five times a week for 12 weeks showed marked improvements in their symptoms when medication alone did not help.
Get outdoors! When the weather permits, take your walk outside, for a dose of vitamin D and an even bigger mood boost. revealed that group walks in nature were associated with significantly lower depression and perceived stress, as well as enhanced mental well-being.
It might seem counterintuitive, but to reduce pain from arthritis, start moving.
The study, published in Arthritis Care & Research, determined that 6,000 steps was the threshold that predicted who would go on to develop disabilities or not. Plus, found that walking significantly improved mobility loss among patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition where clogged
arteries in the legs can cause pain and fatigue while walking.
Add some healthy competition to your walk. As you move down the sidewalk or trail, imagine the people in front of you are rungs on a ladder.
Then, focus on walking fast enough to overtake them one by one.
Researchers credit this to walking's ability to help lower high blood pressure, which is a strong risk factor for stroke.
Join or start a regular walking club with friends or coworkers and make fun fitness plans for your outings.
published in the British Journal of Sports and Medicine found that participants were enthusiastic, less tense and generally more relaxed after regular, organized walking groups.