Tag Archives: weight

Managing children’s weight, blood pressure & cholesterol protects brain function mid-life

Highlights:

  • Having high blood pressure, high cholesterol and/or obesity from childhood through middle age were linked to poorer brain function by middle age.
  • These cardiovascular risk factors were linked with low memory, learning, visual processing, attention span, and reaction and movement time.
  • Strategies to prevent heart disease and stroke should begin in childhood to promote better brain health by middle age.

Managing weight, blood pressure and cholesterol in children may help protect brain function in later life, according to new research published today in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation. This is the first study to highlight that cardiovascular risk factors accumulated from childhood through mid-life may influence poor cognitive performance at midlife.

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Previous research has indicated that nearly 1 in 5 people older than 60 have at least mild loss of brain function. Cognitive deficits are known to be linked with cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes, smoking, physical inactivity and poor diet, as well as depression and low education level.

Many diseases that cause neurological deficits, such as Alzheimer’s, have a long preclinical phase before noticeable symptoms begin, so finding links between childhood obesity and other cardiovascular risk factors is important for cognitive health. The researchers noted that there are currently no cures for major causes of dementia, so it is important to learn how early in life cardiovascular risk factors may affect the brain.

“We can use these results to turn the focus of brain health from old age and midlife to people in younger age groups,” said the study’s first author Juuso O. Hakala, M.D., a Ph.D. student at the Research Centre of Applied and Prevention Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Turku, in Turku, Finland. ”Our results show active monitoring and prevention of heart disease and stroke risk factors, beginning from early childhood, can also matter greatly when it comes to brain health. Children who have adverse cardiovascular risk factors might benefit from early intervention and lifestyle modifications.”

The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study is a national, longitudinal study on cardiovascular risk from childhood to adulthood in Finland. Researchers followed the participants’ cardiovascular risk factor profiles for 31 years from childhood to adulthood. Baseline clinical examinations were conducted in 1980 on approximately 3,600 randomly selected boys and girls, ranging in ages from 3 to 18, all of whom were white. More than 2,000 of the participants, ranging in ages from 34 to 49, underwent a computerized cognitive function test in 2011. The test measured four different cognitive domains: episodic memory and associative learning; short-term working memory; reaction and movement time; and visual processing and sustained attention.

Researchers found:

  • Systolic blood pressure, total blood cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, as well as body mass index, from childhood to midlife are associated with brain function in middle age.
  • Consistently high systolic blood pressure or high blood total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol were linked to worse memory and learning by midlife when compared with lower measures.
  • Obesity from childhood to adulthood was associated with lower visual information processing speed and maintaining attention.
  • Having all three cardiovascular risk factors was linked to poorer memory and associative learning, worse visual processing, decreased attention span, and slower reaction and movement time.

These results are from observational findings, so more studies are needed to learn whether there are specific ages in childhood and/or adolescence when cardiovascular risk factors are particularly important to brain health in adulthood. Study limitations include that a definite cause-and-effect link between cardiovascular risk factors and cognitive performance cannot be determined in this type of population-based study; cognition was measured at a single point in time; and because all study participants are white, the results may not be generalizable to people from other racial or ethnic groups.

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Boosting body heat production: A new approach for treating obesity

A receptor that helps conserve energy when food is scarce may be the key to a safer approach to treating diet-induced obesity, research led by the Garvan Institute of Medical Research has revealed.

In a study using experimental models and fat tissue biopsies from obese individuals, the team revealed that blocking a specific receptor of the molecule neuropeptide Y (NPY), which helps our body regulate its heat production, could increase fat metabolism and prevent weight gain.

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“The Y1 receptor acts as a ‘brake’ for heat generation in the body. In our study, we found that blocking this receptor in fat tissues transformed the ‘energy-storing’ fat into ‘energy-burning’ fat, which switched on heat production and reduced weight gain,” says Dr Yan-Chuan Shi, Leader of the Neuroendocrinology Group at Garvan and co-senior author of the paper published in Nature Communications.

“Most of the current medications used to treat obesity target the brain to suppress appetite and can have severe side effects that limit their use. Our study reveals an alternative approach that targets the fat tissues directly, which may potentially be a safer way to prevent and treat obesity.”

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Walnuts May Lower Cholesterol

A review and analysis published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that eating walnuts could improve blood lipid levels (cholesterol and triglycerides) without causing weight gain or increasing blood pressure.

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How about some good luck foods for Friday the 13th?

Feeling blue on Friday the 13th? Perhaps you are triscadecaphobic, which is to say, fearful of Friday the 13th.

The publication Environmental Nutrition offers the following 5 foods that are super nutritious and might bring you good luck at least in terms of your general health.

Amazing avocados, is their first offering. “Ounce for ounce, they contain more blood-pressure lowering potassium than bananas. Avocados are rich in good-for-you monounsaturated fats, and cholesterole-lowering beta-sitosterol and cancer-protective glutathione, along with Vitamin E, folate, vitamin B6 and fiber.”

Brain-boosting blueberries come in second. “These little blue marvels are the antioxidant leaders, plump and nearly 4 grams of fiber per cup and a good dose of vitamin C. They also have cancer-protective ellagic acid, and may boost your brain health and vision.”

Anti-cancer Brazil nuts come in third. “This hearty tree nut is a ‘trigger food’ that may cause cancer cells to self-destruct. It’s a super source of selenium, a promising anti-cancer trace mineral that also promotes DNA repair and boosts immunity. Just two medium nuts contain enough selenium to perhaps reduce the incidence of prostate, colon and lung cancers.”

Good old Broccoli is number four. “Here’s an easy way to get two cancer-blockers that modify natural estrogens into less damaging forms and increase the activity of enzymes that fight carcinogens. Aim for three servings a week of broccoli or its cruciferous cousins.”

Number five is Butternut Squash. “This tasty fruit (yes, fruit) is an exceptional source of beta-carotene, the antiooxidant tyour body converts to vitamin A. But it’s also an overlooked source of bone-building calcium.”

So, look on the bright side and focus on the great nutritional benefits you can derive from these five super foods and forget about the fact that today is Friday the 13th. Just don’t walk under any ladders.

Tony

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Intermittent fasting yields broad range of health benefits – Study

As a guy who likes to eat and snack, I had a weight problem for most of my life, so the idea of fasting – prolonged and intermittently – isn’t so appealing. Nonetheless, this study from Texas State University shows positive effects.

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Intermittent fasting may provide significant health benefits, including improved cardiometabolic health, improved blood chemistry and reduced risk for diabetes, new research conducted in part at Texas State University indicates. Continue reading

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Use of diet pills, laxatives for weight control linked with later eating disorder diagnosis

Among young women without an eating disorder diagnosis, those who use diet pills and laxatives for weight control had higher odds of receiving a subsequent first eating disorder diagnosis within one to three years than those who did not report using these products, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Boston Children’s Hospital.

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“We’ve known that diet pills and laxatives when used for weight control can be very harmful substances. We wanted to find out if these products could be a gateway behavior that could lead to an eating order diagnosis,” said senior author S. Bryn Austin, professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard Chan School and director of STRIPED (Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders). “Our findings parallel what we’ve known to be true with tobacco and alcohol: starting harmful substances can set young people on a path to worsening problems, including serious substance use disorder.” Continue reading

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Some tips for biking (or any exercise) in cold weather …

“The hawk is back.” That’s what we Chicagoans say when temperatures turn cold here. I woke up to 25F degrees the other morning with a big wind. But if you want to ride your bike, you deal with it. By the way, when temps fall to sub zero, the expression here is, “The hawk is back … and he brought his whole damn family.”

So, winter seems to have come early to Chicago.

Whether you ride a bike or not, I think you will find some useful info here.

From the Toronto Star

The Wall Street Journal a while back had a cleverly written item on Your Outdoor Sports Survival Guide, by Jason Gay. He aptly describes “the maniacal joy of Survival Season,” and observes “Nobody looks suave playing sports in the freezing cold. If you are doing it correctly, you look a little unhinged and suspicious. Are you going to play golf…or rob the Bank of Alaska?”
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5 Weight loss tips from Tufts

Try these tips to avoid some common weight loss myths, according to Tufts Health & Nurtrition Letter.

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-Avoid refined starch and sugar, not all carbs. Cut back on or eliminate white bread, white rice, refined breakfast cereals and crackers, potato and corn chips, fries, bakery desserts, sweets, and soda.-Fill up with minimally processed, high fiber, phytochemical-rich foods. Seek out fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and less processed whole grains (steel-cut oats, cracked wheat, barley, millet). These healthy choices help stave off hunger.

-Enjoy healthy fats. Nuts, seeds, avocados, and plant oils (olive, avocado, soybean, canola, etc.), as well as fish and unsweetened yogurt, are all great choices for weight and your overall health. Moderate consumption of cheese, eggs, and poultry is also better than choosing starchy and sugary foods.

-Maintain or build muscle. Keep active and eat adequate protein to preserve or even increase muscle mass. This will help to achieve healthy, long-term weight loss and maintenance.

-Combine diet and exercise. Physical activity is important for weight maintenance, but on its own isn’t likely to have as much impact as when you also change your diet.

-Time MEALS right. The ideal meal frequency is the one that fits your lifestyle and makes you feel and perform your best.

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Why you should avoid marathon running …

I have stated previously in these pages that I while I respect and admire the exercise of running, I have even considered taking it up to get more weight-bearing exercise, I think that on-balance marathons damage the body and should be avoided. Since October is the beginning of marathon season, I wanted to put this out.

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Dr. Mercola
says, “Several recent studies have indicated that conventional cardio, especially endurance exercises such as marathon running can pose significant risks to your heart. It can result in acute volume overload, inflammation, thickening and stiffening of the heart muscle and arteries, arterial calcification, arrhythmias, and potentially sudden cardiac arrest and stroke—the very things you’re trying to avoid by exercising. 
”

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How about a reduced calorie version of Jamba Juice’s Orange Dream Machine?

I have to confess that the taste of the Jamba Juice Orange Dream Machine takes me all the way back to the joy of my childhood instantaneously. Even though I know that I now have far fewer taste buds functioning in my mouth than I did when I was a child, the Jamba Juice flavor is identical to what I remember the original Orange Dreamsicle starburst of flavor tasted like in my mouth as a child. I know I had one before I was a teenager, so it was many years ago.

Whenever I pass a Jamba Juice I will stop in and order an Orange Dream Machine and savor it for the next quarter of an hour or so. I think it costs around $5.00. I wondered if it would be possible to duplicate that flavor at home on my Vita-Mix machine.

It seems simple enough. There is the taste of orange and the mellowing flavor of milk. This is the kind of ingredient list made to order for Mr. Lazy Cook.

After a number of ‘close calls’ I have come up with the following recipe:

1/2 cup of vanilla soymilk
1/2 cup of orange juice
1/2 cup of vanilla non-fat yogurt
2/3 cup of orange sherbet
1/2 cup of ice cubes

Place it all in the Vita-Mix container and close the lid. Begin on the lowest speed and build to the top. I did not shift into the top speed as I did not want to make it solid. Blend just till smooth.

By my taste buds this is an exact match as far as taste goes to the Jamba Juice product. I specified taste because nutrition-wise, Mr. Lazy Cook’s is far superior.
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The Importance of Portion Control – Rush

I think the first lesson I learned when I started writing this blog 10 years ago was the importance of portion control and serving size. If you aren’t paying attention to portion size and serving size for the food you eat, you are just kidding yourself about getting control of your weight. Here’s what the Rush Health and Wellness Bulletin has to say:

Are you having trouble losing weight even though you’re making healthier lifestyle choices — sacrificing sweets, swapping French fries for a side salad and sweating bullets at the gym? Do you continue to mount the scale, week after week, only to discover the same stubborn number staring back at you?

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The problem might not be what you’re eating, but how much you’re eating. In fact, portion control is often the most challenging hurdle on a person’s path to weight loss. Continue reading

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You can cut your ice cream calories

I scream, you scream. We all scream for ice cream.

Okay, summer season has officially arrived. Even here in Chicago where we have experienced the coldest spring in my memory. So, let’s talk about ice cream.

Ice cream was one of the highlights of my childhood summers and I can’t deny still feeling attracted to it at this time of year.

A waffle cone can double the calories in your ice cream treat.

A waffle cone can double the calories in your ice cream treat.

For the most part, ice cream is empty calories, but with a little foresight, you can still enjoy some without getting into trouble. Just don’t overdo it. Continue reading

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The Sweet Truth About Chocolate

In view of Valentine’s Day tomorrow and tons of chocolate being consumed in honor of it, I thought it might be useful to get a taste of chocolate’s impact on our health.

Medical News Today says, “Throughout the years, chocolate has been on the end of a lot of bad press because of its fat content, and its consumption has been associated with acne, obesity, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and diabetes.

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“However, ‘the recent discovery of biologically active phenolic compounds in cocoa has changed this perception and stimulated research on its effects in aging, oxidative stress, blood pressure regulation, and atherosclerosis. Today, chocolate is lauded for its tremendous antioxidant potential.’
The potential benefits of eating chocolate may include:
▪ lowering cholesterol levels
▪ preventing cognitive decline
▪ reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems. Continue reading

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Formula for Success

I haven’t watched Dr Phil in years, but I always admired his down to earth advice. Here are some good examples. strive-for-progress

 

Our Better Health

Do you have what it takes to get what you want?

The winners in life know the rules of the game and have a plan. Whether you want to begin a new career, shed pounds or find the love of your life, consider these characteristics which Dr. Phil says are common to people who succeed:

Have a vision.

Champions get what they want because they know what they want. They have a vision that keeps them motivated and efficiently on track. They see it, feel it, and experience it in their minds and hearts. What is success for you? You won’t get there without knowing what it feels and looks like.

Make a strategy.

People who consistently win have a clear and thoughtful strategy. They know what they need to do and when they need to do it. They write it down so they stay on course and avoid…

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Here are the benefits of walking 5, 30 and 60 minutes – Video

Regular readers know that I am a big fan of walking. I call it the Cinderella of the exercise world because it is so unappreciated. If you want to learn a lot more about the benefits of walking – after you watch this less than five minute video – check out my Page – Why you should walk more.

Tony

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Some tips for biking in cold weather …

Baby, it’s cold outside! (So, sue me.)

I am reblogging this because the Weather Channel said that more than 20 million people are under cold weather conditions today.

Health Secrets of a SuperAger

“The hawk is back.” That’s what we Chicagoans say when temperatures turn cold here. I woke up to 22F degrees the other morning. Mid November is a bit early for such temps, but if you want to ride your bike, you deal with it. By the way, when temps fall to sub zero, the expression is, “The hawk is back … and he brought his whole damn family.”

So, winter seems to have come early to Chicago.

Whether you ride a bike or not, I think you will find some useful info here.

From the Toronto Star The Wall Street Journal a while back had a cleverly written item on Your Outdoor Sports Survival Guide, by Jason Gay. He aptly describes “the maniacal joy of Survival Season,” and observes “Nobody looks suave playing sports in the freezing cold. If you are doing it correctly, you look a little unhinged…

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