Category Archives: diet

Diet, Gut Microbes and Cognitive Decline Connected – Study

Researchers from Rush University Medical believe their new study will provide a mechanistic understanding of how our microbiome and diets can impact the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The study will aim to provide evidence of possible diet induced effects on gut bacteria, which could influence age associated cognitive decline.

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The study will recruit 300 volunteers from another study, the Chicago MIND cohort, which aims to show whether a dietary intervention can prevent cognitive decline and age-associated changes in the brain. NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.

Are abnormal intestinal microorganisms a risk factor for developing cognitive impairment? Researchers at Rush University Medical Center are trying to answer that question with a new study that will explore how the intestinal microbiota – the bacteria in the intestine –influence the progression of cognitive decline and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Health care providers and researchers increasing are recognizing that the intestinal microbiota – also known as the microbiome – affects health. The human intestine contains tens of trillions of microorganisms, and humans have developed a symbiotic relationship with these bacteria in. Continue reading

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Saying ‘yes’ to kale, more successful than ‘no’ to cake – Baylor Study

Back more than six years ago, the primary focus of this blog was weight loss pure and simple. In the course of writing about weight loss, I found myself opening up to the concept of good health and long life and the idea of simply losing weight diminished in value. In my mind the positive aim of healthy living easily trumped the negative and short range goal of simply dropping some unwanted pounds. Now, it seems that Baylor University  has determined that looking on the positive side worked far better than the avoidance, or negative side in their studies.

Baylor reported that, many diet plans are doomed from the start.

The reason? Dieters tend to adopt the wrong strategies, often planning to ditch their favorite foods and replace them with less-desirable options, according to new research from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business.

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Conversely, successful dieters focus on adding healthy foods – foods that they actually like, said Meredith David, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing at Baylor. She is the lead author on the study, “Saying ‘No’ to Cake or ‘Yes’ to Kale: Approach and Avoidance Strategies in Pursuit of Health Goals,” published in the journal Psychology & Marketing. Continue reading

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Eventually Something Will Give

I like this simple analogy. If folks were as scrupulous about maintaining their bodies as they are about their cars, we might not have the horrible healthcare situation we do with 60 per cent overweight, 30 per cent obese and teenagers coming down with adult onset diabetes.

Check out my post – What Have You Done For Me Lately? – for more details.

Eat less; move more; live longer.

Tony

Dream Big, Dream Often

Eventually something will give.  I often think about this when I see a car that is obviously being neglected.  Smoking out the tail pipe, bald tires and in need of a tune up.  Why does the owner continue to drive their car into the ground?  Do they realize that the short-term cost of maintenance far outweighs the devastation of long-term neglect?  Also, driving the car in a neglected state can put their life and families’ lives in danger.

credit: genius.com credit: genius.com

Obviously they have never considered these dangers, because it makes no sense to be aware of the danger, yet continue to subject their families to the risk.

And so it is with our health.  We only have one body in which we live.  I am not saying to completely eliminate donuts and lattes.  After all I have been very honest about my love affair with Burger King.  What I am saying is…

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9  Powerful Eating Habits to Protect Your Brain From Alzheimer’s

This post hit home with my having lost two family members to Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Besides these powerful eating habits, don’t forget the role of exercise in brain health. Check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits).

Tony

Our Better Health

Everything from how you cook meat to what you eat for dessert
can play a role in your brain health.

Here, how to eat to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s.

by Kenneth S. Kosik, MD

There is no one best dietary pattern when it comes to eating for optimum brain health. Nor is there one magical food or supplement. Instead, a wide range of eating patterns—Asian eating, the MIND diet, the Mediterranean diet, vegan eating—has been shown to protect your brain. Although those eating patterns vary—for example, some include meat, others don’t; some place a heavy emphasis on fish, others suggest no fish—they all tend to have one thing in common: a preponderance of antioxidant-rich plant foods.

Plants manufacture antioxidant chemicals to protect themselves from ultra- violet light and disease. When we eat these plants—in the form of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and grains—we consume this built-in protection, and their…

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10 Weight Loss Diet Tips – Infographic

None of these are shocking new information, but I think they combine well and maybe remind us of something we aren’t doing right now, or as often as is healthy.

I like the 80/20 rule a lot. Eat natural, unprocessed foods 80 percent of the time and your favorite processed treats 20 percent.

Diet+Tips

Tony

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Diet + Exercise = Success

I wanted to run this because, first of all, I thought it was beautiful and, second, it really got an important message across. It seems most people want to lose weight because they want to look better. Unfortunately, I think that is superficial and one of the reasons that more than 60 percent of us are overweight and 30 percent of us outright obese. The idea is to get healthy. The weight will take care of itself. This picture shows you the ratio. You don’t just tack on some health club time and slim down. You integrate exercise into your daily life, eat intelligently and your weight problems will disappear.

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If you want a good rundown of how to do it, check out my Page – How to Lose Weight and Keep it off. It has worked for me for the past five years. It can work for you, too.

Tony

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Blog-Hopping

When I started writing this blog in March 2010, I was excited at the prospect of sharing what I had learned about healthy eating and losing weight. I hoped to help  other folks avoid the eating mistakes I had made. Now, in the fifth year of blogging, I have made a number of discoveries. First, I had no idea how much I didn’t know about healthy eating and losing weight. I certainly learned more than I thought I knew before I started. Second, I was amazed to learn what interesting things were being created by fellow bloggers. I now look forward to reading the blogs daily rather than just writing my own.

Here are a couple of my favorites:

Shop with Vinny Grette for fun and good food

Shop with Vinny Grette for fun and good food

1. What are you working on?

Cook Up a Story, my food blog, grew out of a book I wrote for kids and their families by the same title. A retirement project, the book was an experiment in creativity and positive thinking.

You see, I spent my career editing and directing the production of scientific material for Canada’s Department of Agriculture. All of that seemed rather dry. Even the work we did getting science discoveries into the schools, although a lot more fun than the usual assignments, was subject to strict approvals at many levels. Most of the fun was edited out in the process.

My first adventure upon leaving the public service was a course on writing for children. It stirred up lots of fun material, all of which mysteriously contained some reference to food… or to food and science. So I decided: why fight it? I’d put together a book focusing on healthy eating for kids and their families, built on the backbone of six of my children’s stories.

2. How does your work differ from others of this genre?

As it turns out, the book is completely different from what is on the bookshelves. No-one publishes books that contain both fiction and nonfiction. Where would you put it in the bookstore? Even the famous Canadian author Yann Martel (who wrote Life of Pi) had the same problem getting his subsequent book published, because he wanted to intersperse his fantasy novel with critical nonfiction.

3. Why do you write/draw what you do?

So I decided to self-publish. I had no problem with the production of the book itself. In fact I was told by publishers it is extremely professional in its finish. But as far as promotion and distribution went, I was at a loss.

Enter the blog. And my life has never been the same since.

What began as a tool to promote my book took off with a life of its own.

I’ve tried to maintain the same fun tone in my blog as I use in the book. My goal is to get kids interested in thinking about how their food choices affect their health.

With newspapers and magazines full of stories about fast foods, processed foods, and sugar leading to rampant obesity in kids as well as their families, I thought my background might be suited to making some small difference in this area. This idea keeps me motivated.

Vinny goes to school

Vinny goes to school!

I began presenting in schools and in the community, in hopes of getting kids into the kitchen where they could learn to choose and make healthy foods for their table.

4. How does your writing/drawing process work?

I begin by choosing a healthy food. Then I give it a silly name and invent some kind of character for it. I try to find songs or nursery rhymes I can use to give more life to the piece. I create a little story to draw families into the recipe. The idea is to give people a reason to try the food, beyond it being good for you. Then I help with some tasty but simple ways to use the food. There is always a recipe :).

Often, I tried making the recipe with the kidlets in my family. That would lead to changes in the recipe or the description. I took lots of pictures. My aim wasn’t so much to show kids how to cook. There are all kinds of wonderful recipes books in the stores that do that very nicely. Rather, I wanted to teach them what to cook… and why they should make the effort to learn how to make these foods taste good.

I’m thinking of doing up a second book using material from my blog. There would be more recipes than I had in the first book, which should be considered the appetizer in the quest for knowledge about healthy eating. The new book would be the main course… the entree, so to speak.

It’s all fun. I may take a breather over the summer to collect my thoughts and see where to go from here. In the meantime, folks, keep on cooking!

Now where was that?

Vinny Grette wonders what to cook for dinner

The second is Rob Gott a genius with a pencil, or whatever it is he uses to draw those delightful characters.

Robin ( Rob) Gott grew up in North London, England, in the house once inhabited by the boy who would grow up to become Boris Karloff. Scared away by the ghost of the famous horror film actor, the family moved to a house in Stansted in Essex, previously owned by Douglas Fiarbank’s Junior’s daughter, and the venue of a Rat Pack party or two.

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Whether all this show business history had any effect on the youthful Robin is food for thought, but he did drift into working in the film and TV animation in London, as an artist and later working with story development. In 1994 he packed his bags, moved to Malmoe in Sweden, fell in love with the lovely Karin, and there he’s been ever since.

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He draws cartoons, acts and writes. He’s written songs, poetry, scripts for graphic novels, two screenplays (one commissioned by Per Holst, a Danish producer) and is now being encouraged by his two boisterous sons, aged 8 and 10, to write a children’s novel. This is very much in the early stages and at the moment he’s gathering all the ingredients for a hopefully wondrous concoction inspired by Anthony Horowitz, Roald Dahl and of course – Boris Karloff!

Rob loves being with his family, especially at their lakeside cabin nestled cozily in a Swedish forest, fishing, running, cooking, playing guitar and flopping about on sofas, drinking English ale and watching old black and white films.

You can learn more about him at www.robingott.com or on Facebook.

Tony

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Daily Sugar Guidelines Lowered – WHO

Here’s some news that doesn’t need sugar coating. The Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO) wants people to restrict their sugar intake to no more than five percent of their daily calorie intake from the current recommended 10 percent. Put into familiar usage, five percent of our calories comes to around six teaspoons of sugar a day, or 24 grams. That’s less than the amount of sugar in a can of soda.

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These guidelines are not directed at the sugar intrinsic in whole foods like fruits and vegetables.

They are directed at glucose and fructose, like table sugar, honey, syrup and fruit juices.

The American Heart Association recommends 25 grams of sugar a day for women and 38 grams for men. I posted What does the American Heart Association say about Sugar for a good rundown on calories from sugar.

Just a reminder McDonald’s Frozen Strawberry Lemonade has 67 grams of sugar in the 16 ounce size. That is 15+ teaspoons full.

Check out Why McDonald’s Shamrock Shake is a sugar monster.

This recommendation from the WHO is not a welcome one in some quarters. In 2004 when the WHO tried to include the ten percent sugar limit recommendation in its Global Strategy for Diet, Physical Activity and Health, the U.S. Congress — under pressure from the sugar industry lobby — threatened to withdraw U.S. funding for the agency. The direct reference to the ten percent figure was removed from the final report.

Sugar contributes to obesity, tooth decay and diabetes to name a few. Check out the tags at the right to read more on these important topics.

I hope you can decide for yourself that you don’t need to consume as much sugar as is offered by fast food and processed food purveyors whether the WHO recommendation is adopted or not.

Tony

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Filed under diabetes, diet, fast food, McDonald's, obesity, sugar, sugary soft drinks, Weight, weight control, weight loss

Insights into Heart Health – Mayo Clinic

Not long ago I posted some logistical suggestions from Harvard on aging. Now comes the Mayo Clinic with some excellent internal insights.

“As you age, your heart rate becomes slightly slower and your heart might become bigger. Your blood vessels and your arteries also become stiffer, causing your heart to work harder to pump blood through them. This can lead to high blood pressure (hypertension) and other cardiovascular problems.

healthy-heart

“What you can do
 to promote heart health:
Include physical activity in your daily routine. Try walking, swimming or other activities you enjoy. Regular moderate physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, lower blood pressure and lessen the extent of arterial stiffening.

Eat a healthy diet. Choose vegetables, fruits, whole grains, high-fiber foods and lean sources of protein, such as fish. Limit foods high in saturated fat and sodium. A healthy diet can help you keep your heart and arteries healthy.

Don’t smoke. Smoking contributes to the hardening of your arteries and increases your blood pressure and heart rate. If you smoke or use other tobacco products, ask your doctor to help you quit.

Manage stress. Stress can take a toll on your heart. Take steps to reduce stress — or learn to deal with stress in healthy ways.”

It’s true that everyone already knows all of these but I think it is good to have them repeated by a reputable source to get us going in the right direction.

These are part of a Mayo Clinic page on healthy aging that covers bones, memory and other aspects of it.

Tony

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Weight Loss Lessons We Can Learn from the Saudis

When I think of the Saudis on the other side of the world from me here in the U.S., I get an image of oil fields, sand and great wealth, not much to do with great health. So, a recent article in The Wall Street Journal opened my eyes about the latter.

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Regular readers know that I have railed repeatedly on these pages against the current state of our health. The following quote has appeared in several posts: “Some 60 percent of us are overweight including 30 percent actually obese. Another 10 percent has Type 2 diabetes, a preventable and ruinous disease that stems from inactivity and poor nutrition.” Lamentable as those facts are, an item in the Saturday edition of The Wall Street Journal makes us sound like a bunch of jocks compared with the Saudis. Unfortunately, the weight loss lessons to learn from them are of the “Don’t let this happen to you” variety.

“As World’s Kids Get Fatter, Doctors Turn to the Knife” The headline reads ‘world’s kids’ but the article focuses on the dire condition of Saudi children. The subhead says, “Obesity rates are soaring in Saudi Arabia and other wealthy Gulf states, leading to a boom in bariatric surgery on children.”P1-BP125_OBESIT_NS_20140214164803

In the U.S. bariatric surgery is not permitted on anyone under the age of 14. In the Journal piece, they had a three-year-old weighing 61 pounds getting it. That 61 pounds is double the normal weight for a child that age.

The article mentions the ‘growing health crisis’ in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East. “Widespread access to unhealthy foods, coupled with sedentary behavior brought on by wealth and the absence of a dieting and exercise culture, have caused obesity levels in Saudi Arabia and many other Gulf states to approach or even exceed those in Western countries.”

The doctor doing the bariatric surgery on the three-year-old has done nearly 100 such surgeries on children under the age of 14 in the past seven years.

Where there is a weight problem you can bet that diabetes is not far behind.

“Some 20% of the Saudi adult population has Type 2 diabetes, a condition linked to obesity, according to the International Diabetes Federation, compared with 8.3% in the U.S., according to the CDC. The cost of diabetes treatment in Saudi Arabia is expected to rise to $2.4 billion in 2015, more than triple that spent in 2010, according to a recent study in the Journal of Family and Community Medicine,” The Journal reports.

The surgeon, Dr. Alqahtani studied at McGill University in Montreal and in Denver. “When he returned home to Riyadh in 2002, he says, he was inundated with pediatric patients so obese they were suffering from advanced stages fatty liver disease, diabetes and sleep apnea, a disorder in which patients repeatedly stop breathing for short periods during sleep—all diseases typically not seen until middle age.”

As quoted above, access to unhealthy foods, sedentary behavior and the lack of an exercise culture are responsible for these health horrors. The weight loss lessons to be learned here are that no matter who you are and how much money you have there is no escaping the basic requirements of good health – eat intelligently and exercise your body regularly. Don’t let this happen to you. Eat less; move more works every time.

Tony

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Filed under diabetes, diet, Exercise, health, healthy eating, healthy living, Saudi Arabia, Weight

Should You Try a Gluten-Free Diet?

A popular diet myth is that everyone can benefit from a gluten-free diet. It can give you more energy and is anti-inflammatory. Sales of gluten-free products increased 16 percent in 2010.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which the body can’t digest gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Less than two percent of the population suffers from celiac disease. So, the odds are that you don’t. Nonetheless, there are hundreds of Gluten-Free products.
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The Mayo Clinic says, “A gluten-free diet is used to treat celiac disease. Gluten causes inflammation in the small intestines of people with celiac disease. Eating a gluten-free diet helps people with celiac disease control their signs and symptoms and prevent complications.”

If you don’t have a medical reason for following a gluten-free diet, there is no benefit, according to Erin McCarthy, MS, RD, LDN at theCenter for Lifestyle Medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

The Mayo Clinic also pointed out, “People who follow a gluten-free diet may have low levels of certain vitamins and nutrients in their diets. Many grains are enriched with vitamins. Avoiding grains with a gluten-free diet may mean eating fewer of these enriched products.

So, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. A gluten-free diet is very difficult to adhere to and you will likely get no direct benefit from it for your troubles.

Tony

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Does Eating Late Make You Gain Weight?

On the subject of popular diet myths, this one ranks weigh up there. Some folks believe strongly that eating much after dinner will pack on the pounds.

Not true, according to Erin McCarthy, MS, RD, LDN, professional dietician at the Center for Lifestyle Medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

McCarthy said, “It makes no difference what time you eat. What matters is how many calories you consume vs how many you burn through activity over time.”
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I must confess this was music to my ears. As a calorie counter, this makes perfect sense to me. You can read further on calorie counting and weight control principles on my page How to lose weight and keep it off.

The following is point eight from that page: “To lose weight you want to create a negative energy balance. Take in less calories than you need in a day and your weight will melt off. Any calorie table can give you that number. Simple math: 3500 calories = 1 pound, never forget that. Cutting 500 calories a day loses 1 pound a week. If you eat 250 fewer calories and burn off an extra 250 calories, it will have the same effect as cutting 500 calories.”

To summarize, it’s not how late you eat, but how much. You don’t have to count calories to lose weight, but it really helps. Maybe you ought to give it a try.

Tony

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Four Insights on Erectile Dysfunction – Harvard

As a sports fan and viewer of ESPN, I have been caught in the deluge of erectile dysfunction (ED) ads that proliferate on these TV venues. Who hasn’t heard the litany of Cialis, Viagra, Levitra, etc.? It seems you can’t help but conclude that a lot of the guys watching sports have a problem with ED.

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Harvard has a publication for sale on the subject.

By way of introduction to it, Harvard offered the following four observations on ED.

“1. ED is often the result of diseases or conditions that become more common with age — or a side effect of the medications used to treat them. Other possible causes of ED include prostate surgery, stress, relationship problems, and depression.
2. Other age-related factors can affect a man’s ability to have an erection — tissues become less elastic and nerve communication slows. But even these factors don’t explain many cases of ED.
3. Cardiovascular disease is a common cause of ED. Clogged arteries (atherosclerosis) affect not only the blood vessels of the heart, but those throughout the body as well. In fact, in up to 30% of men who see their doctors about ED, the condition is the first hint that they have cardiovascular disease.
4. Intriguing findings from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study suggest there may be a natural ebb and flow to ED — that is, for some men, trouble with erections may occur, last for a significant amount of time, and then partly or fully disappear without treatment.”

They conclude with the following positive thought: “Regardless of the cause, ED often can be effectively addressed. For some men, simply losing weight may help. Others may need medications, and there are other options available as well. Given the variety of therapies available, the possibility of finding the right solution is greater than ever.”

From the above list, it appears that age and diet have a lot to do with the problem. Must confess that number four was a surprise. I hadn’t known that ED could come and go, so to speak.

If you want to find out more about the subject, check out the link.

Tony

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