Tag Archives: diet

Diet and Blood Cholesterol Levels – Tufts

We cannot survive without cholesterol in our bodies. It is an essential part of cell walls, is used to make bile acids (which are critical in fat digestion), and is necessary for the production of vitamin D and a number of hormones according to Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter. But too much LDL cholesterol and not enough HDL cholesterol in the blood is associated with increased risk for heart attack and stroke. While the liver can produce all the cholesterol the human body needs, we also consume it in the form of animal-based foods like meat and dairy.

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Question #1: What is cholesterol? Cholesterol is a lipid (fat), and, like other lipids, it does not mix with water. It therefore needs to be ‘packaged’ before it can move around the body in our (largely water-based) blood. These packages, called lipoproteins, vary in density, hence the now-familiar terms low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) may be a less familiar term, but VLDL cholesterol is emerging as an important health measure.

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Healthy Diet: Eating with Mental Health in Mind – MHA

You’ve probably heard the expression, “you are what you eat,” but what exactly does that mean? Put simply, food is fuel, and the kinds of foods and drinks you consume determine the types of nutrients in your system and impact how well your mind and body are able to function according to Mental Health America.

Drinks

Avoid: Sugary drinks and excessive amounts of caffeine. Sugary drinks have empty calories and damage tooth enamel. Caffeine should also be avoided in excess, as it can trigger panic attacks in people who have anxiety disorders.

Try to: Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day (about 2 liters) to prevent dehydration. Studies show that even mild dehydration can cause fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and mood changes1, in addition to physical effects like thirst, decreased or dark urine, dry skin, headache, dizziness and/or constipation. Limit caffeine if you have an anxiety disorder. If you feel like you need some caffeine, try tea. Tea has lower amounts of caffeine than coffee and has lots of antioxidants-chemicals found in plants that protect body tissues and prevent cell damage.

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Urine test reveals quality of your diet — and whether it’s the best fit for your body

Scientists at Imperial College London in collaboration with colleagues at Northwestern University, University of Illinois, and Murdoch University, analyzed levels of 46 different so-called metabolites in the urine of 1,848 people in the U.S.

Metabolites are considered to be an objective indicator of diet quality — and are produced as different foods are digested by the body, say the research team, who published their findings in the journal Nature Food.

The work was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Health Data Research UK.

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What Happens to the Body When we Diet?

The body starts to respond to healthy dietary changes as soon as they are made. This can be advantageous, because a diet can then eventually reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, as well as improve a person’s overall sense of well­ being.

Control of blood glucose level

Eating carbohydrates increases the blood sugar level, but the extent of this rise depends on a food’s glycemic index. The glycemic index is a ranking system, based on a score of 1 to 100, that determines the effect of a food on blood sugar levels.

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Diet and Alzheimer’s – Tufts

Herewith another entry in our arsenal against that destroyer of lives – Alzheimer’s Disease, from the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter.

Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of the loss of memory and other cognitive abilities collectively known as dementia. There is no known food or diet that can prevent or cure Alzheimer’s dementia, but diet may help delay onset and slow progression.

What sets Alzheimer’s apart from other forms of dementia is the excessive buildup of beta-amyloid protein fragments into plaques, as well as defective tau proteins that form tangles in the brain. These changes lead to the death of the nerve cells responsible for everything from memory to movement. There are currently no known dietary factors that can impact the formation of these plaques and tangles, but diet may act in other ways to influence Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

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How diet affects mental health …

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“We have found that there is increasing evidence of a link between a poor diet and the worsening of mood disorders, including anxiety and depression. However, many common beliefs about the health effects of certain foods are not supported by solid evidence”.

The researchers found that there are some areas where this link between diet and mental health is firmly established, such as the ability of a high fat and low carbohydrate diet (a ketogenic diet) to help children with epilepsy, and the effect of vitamin B12 deficiency on fatigue, poor memory, and depression.

They also found that there is good evidence that a Mediterranean diet, rich in vegetables and olive oil, shows mental health benefits, such as giving some protection against depression and anxiety. However, for many foods or supplements, the evidence is inconclusive, as for example with the use of vitamin D supplements, or with foods believed to be associated with ADHD or autism.

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What, Exactly, is a Mediterranean Diet? – Tufts

I have been hearing about and reading about the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet for as long as I have been writing this blog (10 years in case you are new here). But, I don’t know a heck of a lot about it. Here is the skinny from Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter.

More than a diet plan, this health-promoting food pattern allows room for preferences.

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A Mediterranean diet can be as varied as the countries and cultures that surround the Mediterranean Sea.

This large and diverse region includes 22 countries located within Europe, Africa, and Asia, including Greece, France, Spain, and Italy, but also Turkey, Morocco, Libya, and Egypt. “It is important to recognize that these countries encompass a wide array of cultural and culinary traditions, which means there is no single version of the ‘Mediterranean’ diet,” says Alice Lichtenstein, DSc, a professor at Tufts’ Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and executive editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter. “The good news is, that means a Mediterranean-type dietary pattern can be adapted to many different tastes and preferences.” Continue reading

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Tufts on 2019 New Year’s health resolutions

It’s that time of year, so here goes. I don’t have a lot of confidence in New Year’s resolutions, because I try to live that way year ’round. If, however, you feel that you have been slipping, here are some wonderful positive tips from the Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter:

“According to surveys, the two most popular New Year’s resolutions involve losing weight and getting fit—and for good reason. Moving toward a healthier dietary pattern and being more physically active are crucial steps toward achieving well-being—with or without weight loss.”

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Try these tips for making New Year’s resolutions last:

  • Set SMART goals. Make New Year’s resolutions Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
  • Take small steps. Choose incremental changes that seem do-able to you. For example: someone who habitually drinks soda twice a day may find that cutting back to one soda a day for a few weeks, then switch to flavored seltzer, is easier than quitting “cold turkey.”
  • Introduce physical activity slowly. To avoid injury, start with short, less intense activity sessions and gradually increase intensity and duration.
  • Plan. Put time to be physically active on your calendar; shop ahead to have ingredients for healthy meals and snacks on hand; try cooking ahead and freezing so healthy choices are available when time and energy are short; andavoid buying those foods and beverages you have resolved to cut down on.
  • Track your progress. Use a notebook, fitness tracker, or smartphone app to monitor your dietary intake and/or physical activity progress.
  • Team up. Find a friend or online community to help with accountability and commitment. Something as simple as sending each other daily “did you exercise today” texts can be effective.
  • Make it fun. No one is going to stick with something they hate. Find an activity that gets you moving and brings you joy. Take a healthy-cooking class, cook with family or friends, or experiment with new foods to make eating enjoyable.
  • Cheer yourself on. Celebrate each little achievement. Throwing your fist in the air, patting yourself on the back, or literally saying, “good job” out loud may create an association between the new behavior and positive feelings.

 

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Nutrients in Older Adults’ Blood Linked to Better Cognition and Brain Connectivity – Study

Summary: Investigating 32 key nutrients in the Mediterranean diet, researchers report aging individuals with more abundant key nutrients in their blood had better functional connectivity and improved cognitive performance than those lacking the nutrients. Source: University of Illinois.

A new study links higher levels of several key nutrients in the blood with more efficient brain connectivity and performance on cognitive tests in older adults.

The study, reported in the journal NeuroImage, looked at 32 key nutrients in the Mediterranean diet, which previous research has shown is associated with better brain function in aging. It included 116 healthy adults 65-75 years of age.

“We wanted to investigate whether diet and nutrition predict cognitive performance in healthy older adults,” said University of Illinois postdoctoral researcher Christopher Zwilling, who led the study with U. of I. psychology professor Aron Barbey in the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.

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The analysis linked specific patterns of a handful of nutrient biomarkers in the blood to better brain health and cognition. NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.

The analysis linked specific patterns of a handful of nutrient biomarkers in the blood to better brain health and cognition. The nutrient patterns included omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in fish, walnuts and Brussels sprouts; omega-6 fatty acids, found in flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts and pistachios; lycopene, a vivid red pigment in tomatoes, watermelon and a few other fruits and vegetables; alpha- and beta-carotenoids, which give sweet potatoes and carrots their characteristic orange color; and vitamins B and D.

The researchers relied on some of the most rigorous methods available for examining nutrient intake and brain health, Barbey said. Rather than asking participants to answer food-intake surveys, which require the accurate recall of what and how much participants ate, the team looked for patterns of nutrient “biomarkers” in the blood. The team also used functional magnetic resonance imaging to carefully evaluate the efficiency with which various brain networks performed.

“The basic question we were asking was whether diet and nutrition are associated with healthy brain aging,” Barbey said. “And instead of inferring brain health from a cognitive test, we directly examined the brain using high-resolution brain imaging.”

Functional MRIs can indicate the efficiency of individual brain networks, he said. Continue reading

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Connecting the Dots Between Physical and Emotional Health

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I have written time and again about the connection between exercise and the brain. Here is a further connection between our emotions and our bodies.

Tony

Our Better Health

There’s a link between your emotional health and your physical well-being, so take time to nurture both.

To be completely healthy, you should take care not only of your physical health, but your emotional health, too. If one is neglected, the other will suffer.

What’s the Connection Between Emotional and Physical Health?

There’s a physical connection between what the mind is thinking and those parts of the brain that control bodily functions. According to Charles Goodstein, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry at New York University’s Langone School of Medicine in New York City, the brain is intimately connected to our endocrine system, which secretes hormones that can have a powerful influence on your emotional health. “Thoughts and feelings as they are generated within the mind [can influence] the outpouring of hormones from the endocrine system, which in effect control much of what goes on within the body,” says Dr…

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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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Physical Activity May Influence the Health of Future Offspring

It just keeps getting better. The mantra of my blog is eat less; move more; live longer. That has always referred to yourself, present and future, mind and body. Now comes a fascinating study from Germany that suggests that the exercise you do today may well influence the health of your future offspring. What could be better than that?

Physical and mental exercise is not only beneficial for your own brain, but can also affect the learning ability of future offspring – at least in mice. This particular form of inheritance is mediated by certain RNA molecules that influence gene activity. These molecules accumulate in both the brain and germ cells following physical and mental activity.

Prof. André Fischer and colleagues from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) in Göttingen and Munich and the University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) report these findings in the journal Cell Reports.

 

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It is known that physical activity and cognitive training also improve learning ability in humans. However, it is not so easy to study in humans whether learning ability can be inherited epigenetically. NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.

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HOW TO LIVE A LONGER AND HEALTHIER LIFE

There are some excellent insights here on the eating aspects of living a long and healthy life.

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Biochemist Valter Longo has devoted decades to discovering connections between nutrition and successful aging. He runs the Longevity Institute at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, where the focus is on extending healthy life spans and finding ways to prevent and treat conditions like cancer and cardiovascular disease that growing older makes us more susceptible to developing. Longo is also a professor of biological science at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Armed with results from the lab — including clinical trials showing that cycles of a five-day fasting-mimicking diet can reduce risk factors for many life-threatening diseases — Longo is calling for change in the kitchen. In this Q&A, he reveals the role that food can play in keeping us youthful and tackles some common misconceptions related to how, what and when we should eat.

How important is food to our health and aging?

Other…

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Diet, exercise and fitness funnies

Here are some more diet, exercise and fitness funnies from around the web.

 

Mark Twain said, “Ride a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live.

Have a great weekend!

Tony

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Healthy eating may reduce risk of dementia – AAIC Conference

Because of the Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia in my family, I have been an avid student of ways to protect myself as I age. Check out my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits) for more. Regarding our general physical health I know that diet contributes about 70 percent and exercise 30 percent. It turns out that diet also provides important elements of brain health, too.

Results from four large population-based studies support a connection between good dietary practices and better cognition in old age. Study results were reported at the 2017 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC 2017) in London.

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A group of U.S. scientists found that, among nearly 6,000 older adults in the Health and Retirement Study, those who consistently followed diets long known to contribute to cardiovascular health were also more likely to maintain strong cognitive function in old age. They found that sticking to the specially designed MIND diet and Mediterranean diet was associated with 30 to 35 percent lower risk of cognitive impairment in healthy older adults. In fact, the investigators discovered that those with healthier diets exhibited meaningful preservation of cognitive function.

  • The Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets were originally developed or codified to help improve cardiovascular health.
  • A hybrid of these diets, called the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, or MIND diet, is gaining attention for its potential positive effects on preserving cognitive function and reducing dementia risk in older individuals. A 2015 study found that individuals adhering to this diet exhibited less cognitive decline as they aged (Morris et al. Alzheimer’s Dement. 2015; 11:1015-22).

Other diet-related studies reported at AAIC 2017 included:

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4 Ways to eat your way to lower cholesterol – Harvard

Following is one of those helpful email I get from Harvard from time to time. I thought you might find it interesting.

Many people can reduce cholesterol levels simply by changing what they eat. For example, if you are a fan of cheeseburgers, eating less meat (and leaner cuts) and more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains can lower your total cholesterol by 25% or more. Cutting back on saturated fat (found in meat and dairy products) and trans fat (partially hydrogenated oils) can reduce cholesterol by 5% to 10%.

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Here are four steps for using your diet to lower your cholesterol.

Stick with unsaturated fats and avoid saturated and trans fats. Most vegetable fats (oils) are made up of unsaturated fats that are healthy for your heart. Foods that contain healthy fats include oily fish, nuts, seeds, and some vegetables. At the same time, limit your intake of foods high in saturated fat, which is found in many meat and dairy products, and stay away from trans fats. These include any foods made with “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.”

Get more soluble fiber. Eat more soluble fiber, such as that found in oatmeal and fruits. This type of fiber can lower blood cholesterol levels when eaten as part of a healthy-fat diet. Continue reading

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