Friday, December 31, 2010

Keep a Food Diary for Weight Loss Success

(Article first published as Food Journal is Key to New Year Weight Loss Success on Technorati.)
Millions of people struggle with weight loss each year and most will be unsuccessful in their goal. With the New Year almost upon us, many will yet again make a well-intended resolution to drop weight gained during the past year and reach their ideal weight range. Making the decision to lose weight is an important first step, yet 95% of those with the desire to drop pounds will fail because they don’t have the appropriate tools to accomplish the task.

Making a Plan to Lose Weight
The reason most weight loss programs don’t succeed is because there is no firm plan in place that will deliver the desired results. Many people rely on fad diets that exclude different food groups or rely on pills or other unnatural supplements that only work in the short term. In order to permanently lose weight, you must have a viable and demonstrated methodology in place. This includes a reduced calorie, well-balanced meal plan, regular physical activity and a way to keep track of your progress.

Keeping a Food Diary Helps Many Achieve Weight Loss Goal
The best laid plan to lose weight can quickly become unraveled the first time you make an inevitable dietary stumble. It’s been shown that dieters are much more likely to stay with a dietary regimen when they keep a food journal to track their daily progress.

After years of working with overweight and obese patients, weight loss management specialist Dr. Christopher J. Mosunic from Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut has found that people keeping track of daily food consumption in a journal are considerably more likely to remain with their plan and keep weight off for good. He provides essential tips from his experience to achieve successful weight loss using a food journal.

Tip 1: Keep Your Journal Simple
One of the keys to maintaining a good food journal is to keep your entries simple. If it becomes a burden to record your daily details you are much less likely to keep it up for the long run. One of the biggest mistakes is to rely on complex internet-based programs that over analyze data and can take a half hour or more each day to maintain.

Try using a simple journal that you keep by hand. Record the date, time and food eaten with quantity before each meal. Also include a simple detail of physical activity for each day including the type of exercise and duration.

Tip 2: Be Thorough, Don’t Cheat
It’s important to be responsible for every item you eat, including each handful of chips or piece of chocolate. Every item adds up, as between meal snacks and unrecorded food binges can make up 30 to 50% of your daily caloric intake.

Tip 3: Share Your Food Journal
A food journal is not like a personal dairy. You want people to be able to take a look and see your progress. It should be an accurate reflection of your personal journey to achieve a very special goal, and you should be proud to share your accomplishments with family and friends.

After you have charted your food and fitness progress for 30 days, you will be able to quickly see the reasons for success or failure. If you are losing weight more or less than the recommended 1 to 2 pounds per week, you will need to adjust calories and physical activity up or down to compensate. Once you have made the resolution to lose weight, ensure your success by maintaining a daily food journal.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mediterranean Diet Shown to Improve Health and Boost Weight Loss Results

(Article first published as Think Mediterranean to Drive Your New Year Weight Loss Goal on Technorati.)
Overweight and obesity are known to dramatically increase the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer and dementia. Excess body fat fuels the flames of systemic inflammation and the release of dangerous chemical messengers or cytokines that damage the delicate inner lining of our arteries and set the stage for vascular dysfunction. As we pass age 35, there is a natural tendency to gain weight due to slowing metabolism, unchanged calorie intake and less physical activity. Following a Mediterranean style diet can help to curb weight gain, improve health and boost your weight loss efforts.

Alarming Study Projects 42% Obesity Rate by 2050
Researchers have been encouraged that the obesity rate has stabilized at 34% over the past 5 years. The number of overweight and obese individuals has also remained steady at just under 70% for the same period. New research released in the journal PLoS Computational Biology uses statistical projections from the Framingham Heart Study to suggest that the upward trend will continue over the next 40 years to peak at 42% of men, women and children registering as clinically obese.

Obesity Explodes Over the Past Century
In the early 1900`s 1 in 150 people were obese. By 1971 the obesity rate climbed to 14%. 40 years later that number has jumped to 34%. Something has changed during this time period to create such an explosion in body fat accumulation. We are still the same genetically diverse people we were 100 years ago, yet our metabolism has been dramatically altered toward fat storage. While physical activity may play a small role in the increase, there is one much more compelling reason we`re exposed to every day.

Understanding the Real Cause of Obesity
Our diet has been altered considerably over the past 100 years. Natural foods eaten raw or minimally processed have given way to fast convenience items scientifically altered in a lab to appeal to our innate taste for sugar, fat and salt. Fast releasing carbs cause blood sugar to remain high most of the day. Eventually insulin becomes resistant to excess glucose and is no longer able to effectively usher sugar from the blood and into cells. Our grandparents didn`t have this problem, and while they did put on small amounts of weight as they aged it didn’t lead to early onset obesity commonly seen today.

Mediterranean Diet Could Hold the Key to Controlling Weight
The results of new research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition show that a Mediterranean style diet can help to keep unnatural weight gain in check. Study participants that adhered closest to a diet consisting largely of vegetables, fruits, fish, nuts, seeds and monounsaturated fats such as olive oil were 10% less likely to become overweight or obese and had 26% lower odds of packing on more than 11 pounds over the course of 4 years. This is because the Mediterranean diet is much higher in fiber and provides a feeling of satiety while eliminating sugary junk foods that raise blood sugar and cause dangerous belly fat.

Overweight and obesity is one of the leading preventable causes of chronic disease and death. The past century has seen the problem grow to the point where it will threaten nearly half of the adult population. The solution is a low sugar and carbohydrate diet based on the Mediterranean way of eating, monitoring calories and ensuring adequate physical activity. Small changes to diet and lifestyle today will result in many healthy years later in life.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Food Additives You Must Avoid

(Article first published as Top Food Additives You Really Need to Avoid on Technorati.)
When was the last time you closely looked at the ingredients inside of your favorite packaged food? The vast majority of foods bought at your local grocery store are the creation of food chemists, not Mother Nature. Most include a long list of synthetic chemicals and modified food components that are designed to enhance shelf life and provide flavorings that appeal to your sense of taste for sweetness, salt and fat.

The vast majorities of processed foods are packed with calories and have been stripped of any nutrients that we require to maintain optimal health. Over the course of years and decades, the lack of vitamins and minerals from natural foods slowly leads to chronic disease conditions such as diabetes, cancer, dementia and heart disease. The artificial chemical compounds in processed foods (all those items in the ingredients lists with names you can’t pronounce) become packed away in your fat tissue and lead to systemic inflammation and depleted antioxidant resources.

Food Additives Lead to Chronic Illness
There are more than 3,000 food additives approved for use in the US and considered ‘Generally Regarded as Safe’ (GRAS) by the FDA. More than 90% of the typical diet is composed of processed foods, meaning that very little food is eaten in its natural form providing nutrients that are properly absorbed by the body.

Food additives include preservatives, sweeteners, artificial colors and flavors as well as flavor enhancers, all designed to provide maximum calories with very little nutrition. The publication Food Matters lists the top food additives you must avoid to preserve your health.

Artificial Sweeteners: Most commonly found in diet or sugar-free drinks, gum, baked goods and even toothpaste, foods that contain aspartame have been shown to contribute to brain aging. Aspartame is neurotoxic and causes loss of memory and difficulty learning new tasks. Researchers believe it may be linked to increased incidence of brain tumors and diseases like lymphoma, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

High Fructose Corn Syrup: High Fructose Corn Syrup has been infused into most processed foods since its inception in the early 1970’s. Extensive scientific research has linked the sweetener to increased levels of obesity due to the way fructose is metabolized in the body and lipid abnormalities that cause diabetes and increased risk of heart disease.

Monosodium Glutamate: MSG is used in many processed foods as a flavor enhancer. It is known to cause neural excitation as it overloads neurons through increased electrical stimulation. The most common side effects are depression, disorientation, eye damage, fatigue and headache. MSG is rarely listed by its common name, and frequently hides as a ‘natural flavoring’. It is far from being natural and should be avoided.

Trans and Hydrogenated Fats: Trans fats have been chemically altered through hydrogenation or cooking at high heat. These synthetic fat molecules are unnatural and cause problems at the cellular level when being used as a component for cell wall synthesis. The most common foods are deep fried, processed and commercially baked products. They are known to increase the risk of death from a heart attack by 25%.

Health minded individuals are experts at deciphering food nutrition labels. The best way to avoid these dangerous additives is to eat nothing that has more than one ingredient on the label, or has no label at all (fruits, vegetables and minimally cooked meats). Reading nutrition labels to avoid a wide array of unnatural food additives will lower your risk of chronic illness and extend your natural lifespan.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Acai and Blueberries Promote Health, Protect Against Brain Aging and Heart Disease

(Article first published as Acai and the Berry Family Promote Health for the New Year on Technorati.)
Each day our cells are bombarded with negatively charged ions known as free radicals that cause damage leading to accelerated aging and increased risk of heart disease, cancer and dementia. It`s estimated that each of our trillion or so cells is assaulted by up to 10,000 free radicals each day.

This damage must be repaired by our body to prevent disease and slow the aging process. Free radicals are a natural part of metabolism and represent the byproducts of respiration, digestion and physical activity. Fortunately nutritional research has confirmed a host of natural compounds found in berries. Start your New Year off on a healthy note with a bowl full of tasty berries.

The Free Radical Theory of Aging
One well accepted theory of aging explains how free radicals cause cellular degeneration and damage to nuclear DNA. As we age our ability to repair this damage becomes limited due to poor diet and lifestyle choices over the course of decades. Researchers have found that as we age, as many as one in three proteins have become dysfunctional due to free radical damage.
Proteins are the backbone of life and essential to health. 

Loss of protein function results in many of the outward signs of aging including wrinkles and grey hair and leads to cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and dementia. Any nutrient that can neutralize free radicals will help to lower risk of disease and extend natural life.

Acai Berry is the Top Ranked Antioxidant Food
Acai berry has been shown to exhibit the highest antioxidant capacity of all natural food sources demonstrating the ability to attract and neutralize free radicals before they can cause cellular damage. Scientists at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center have developed a standardized index known as ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) designed to measure the ability of antioxidants to absorb free radicals. Acai berry has the highest recorded ORAC score of 18,400 providing validation for its ability to provide protection to cellular mitochondria that are most susceptible to free radical damage.

The results of a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that people who supplemented with acai berry increased the antioxidant capacity of their blood threefold. Supplementing with acai provides a significant shield to our genetic foundation as well as the protein structures that we rely on for disease free health and natural aging.

Blueberries Improve Cognitive Health
Blueberries rank in the middle of the ORAC spectrum at 3,200 yet have been shown to enhance cognitive function due to their unique ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. Blueberries target the area of the brain associated with learning and memory and protect neurons by absorbing free radicals that limit the activity of neurotransmitters and electrical impulses necessary for optimal brain function.

Bilberries are Good for the Heart
A relative of the blueberry, bilberries have a demonstrated efficacy in lowering risk factors for heart disease. This berry significantly inhibits the angiotensin-converting enzyme that contributes to blood vessel constriction and high blood pressure. A major class of drugs has been developed by Big Pharma to accomplish this same task with many dangerous side effects. Bilberries are powerful antioxidants that naturally lower blood pressure and improve vascular health.

Acai and virtually all members of the berry family are potent antioxidants that promote vibrant health by neutralizing age-inducing free radicals. Health conscious individuals will want to include a variety of different colored berries as part of their diet to reap a multitude of life extending benefits and start the New Year with vibrant health.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Weight Loss Tips to Jump Start the New Year

(Article first published as Six Tips to Jump Start Your New Year Weight Loss Resolution on Technorati.)
As another year draws to a close, many people begin to think about making New Year Resolutions. As the number of overweight and obese individuals continues to skyrocket in epidemic proportions, many resolutions will evolve around the pursuit of an elusive weight loss goal. Reducing calories and exercising more are well known strategies to pursue. In addition, nutrition experts at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have compiled the top research-based weight loss tips designed to help you jump start your new journey to a slimmer waistline.

Tip 1: Keep Moving Each Day
Research confirms that physical activity is essential to human health and is also an important catalyst in your weight loss efforts. Exercise doesn’t have to be in the form of a grueling 5 mile run or lifting heavy free weights. The key to using exercise to fuel your weight loss efforts is that you need to do something to stay moving each day.

Set 30 to 60 minutes aside each day for some type of aerobic or resistance activity. The best part is that your time can be broken down into convenient 10 or 15 minute segments and you’ll still receive the same health and weight loss benefits.

Tip 2: Keep a Detailed Food and Exercise Journal
This may be one of the most important tips that many people on a weight loss mission fail to undertake. Keep a detailed record of each bite of food and drink, including the time and amount consumed. Don’t cheat. Record every food item including between meals snacks and sneaking a bite of your favorite chocolate bar. Write down your physical activity also, including type of exercise and the duration of each segment during the day. Many people are amazed to find out the number of calories eaten outside of normal meal time.

Tip 3: Set Realistic Goals
Often in our zest to reach an imaginary weight goal, we set an unrealistic target and time frame. When it becomes clear that the goal can’t be met, our best intentions are forgotten and any lost weight returns with a few extra pounds to discourage us from trying again. Permanent weight loss must be accomplished slowly, with a plan to drop no more than 1 to 2 pounds per week. This allows our body time to adjust naturally and make the necessary metabolic changes to maintain our lower weight.

Tip 4: Set Specific Goals
Make a plan to achieve your weight loss goal. Chart your day to include 3 well balanced meals and develop a calorie controlled menu that will allow you to hit your target. Schedule physical activity at a specific time as you would a business appointment. Avoid generalizations about diet and exercise, and be specific with regard to intent and end result.

Tip 5: Allow Yourself Room for an Occasional Slip
Everybody is human and inevitably you will make a small slip in your dietary plan. Fortunately your body is very forgiving and does not assess caloric intake for a single meal or even an entire day. Allow yourself an occasional treat when you really need it to keep yourself moving forward toward your weight loss goal.

Tip 6: Take Up Yoga
There’s more to yoga than just burning calories through physical activity. Researchers from the Hutchinson Cancer Center have “found that regular yoga practice is associated with the prevention of middle-age spread in normal-weight people and the promotion of weight loss in those who are overweight.” Yoga practice leads to mindful eating and healthy weight loss.

The New Year is approaching quickly and health conscious people will be thinking about losing weight gained during the past year. The best way to drop excess pounds is make a structured plan and set appropriate goals that will help you reach your weight target and improve your health and quality of life.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Carb Restriction is the Key to Permanent Weight Loss and Health

(Article first published as Cut Carbs, Not Fat to Lose Weight and Live Longer on Technorati.)
We’re having trouble changing our mindset about the best type of diet to promote health and weight loss. For decades we have been told that fat is bad and whole grain carbohydrates are good. Food manufacturers cleverly cut all the fat from many of their offerings and pumped up sugar and carbs to compensate. We merrily went along eating massive quantities of `healthy` low fat foods with the thought that we would avoid fat, get skinny and avoid the number one killer, heart disease.

Unfortunately just the opposite has happened. American obesity rates are at epidemic proportions and heart disease still unnecessarily claims the lives of millions each year. Fortunately it’s not too late to make changes that can save your life and help you to lose weight permanently.

Fat is Not the Problem
Current dietary advice from the USDA food pyramid promotes the idea that the bulk of our daily calories should come from carbohydrates. Fat is to be used sparingly and there is no differentiation between different fat sources. Information provided by medical researchers and published in the Los Angeles Times explains that we have been misled over the years and that fat is actually a vital component to cellular structure. Carbohydrates and sugars are the real culprit that influence how body fat is stored and can wreak havoc with normal metabolic activity.

Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health explains "If Americans could eliminate sugary beverages, potatoes, white bread, pasta, white rice and sugary snacks, we would wipe out almost all the problems we have with weight and diabetes and other metabolic diseases." Refined and processed carbs have become the core of our diet. Eventually, carb overload leads to insulin resistance, diabetes and heart disease and has a major impact on our ability to lose weight.

Carb Warfare: The Battle of the Bulge
Over time, our body becomes tired from processing large amounts of carbohydrates. The pancreas exhausts its natural ability to secrete insulin and counter the massive amount of sugar that is continually dumped into the bloodstream. The body preferentially burns carbohydrates for energy, and stores the remaining calories as fat. When given the opportunity, our body prefers to burn fat, but there must be an absence of carbs for this to happen.

The typical American diet provides a never ending flow of carbs and corresponding blood sugar spikes. We like to snack regularly between meals, so there is rarely an absence of carbohydrates. Our body is never able to tap into our fat stores because we continually provide a ready source of energy in the form of high carb consumption. The only way to trigger fat metabolism is to drastically limit our carb intake.

Cut the Carbs for Weight Loss Success and Health
Humans have not evolved with the ability to consume and metabolize huge quantities of carbohydrates. The typical American diet is 60% carbohydrate and the direct cause of the obesity calamity, as well as a significant trigger for many inflammatory diseases.

Drop carb intake to no more than 20% of calories and substitute healthy monounsaturated uncooked fats and protein sources with each meal. Fats and proteins are more difficult for the body to break down and slow the release of glucose from carbohydrates. Try drastically lowering your carb intake for 2 weeks and you’ll be on the road to successful weight loss and improved health.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Vitamin C and Pomegranate in the Fight Against Heart Disease

Heart disease claims the lives of nearly 900,000 Americans each year, caused largely by a diet of processed junk food, excess calories, obesity and smoking. Many people are under the false impression that heart disease is inevitable and once diagnosed can only be controlled by a low fat diet and a cocktail of prescription drugs.

This belief has been fostered by a medical profession that makes large profits by perpetuating patients in a never ending cycle of disease progression. Nature has provided powerful tools that can effectively prevent and treat heart disease by correcting the root cause of the affliction.

Inflammation Initiates Heart Disease
Systemic inflammation is one of the primary metabolic processes underlying heart disease as it causes instability in the delicate inner endothelial lining of the coronary arteries. Chronic inflammation causes elevated blood levels of C-reactive protein and studies have shown that the protein is an important marker for heart disease risk.

The flames of inflammation are fanned by a processed diet high in hydrogenated fats and refined carbohydrates. This in turn generates excess triglycerides and oxidized LDL cholesterol in the blood and promotes fat storage in the adipocytes around the abdomen. Metabolically active fat cells secrete chemical messengers known as cytokines, C-reactive protein and the hormone cortisol. This is a protective action evolved by our body to handle short term damage and stress that becomes destructive when levels are chronically elevated.

Vitamin C Lowers Inflammation Markers
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient known to prevent scurvy. Evolutionary scientists know that in our distant past, we were able to synthesize the vitamin internally but lost the capability likely due to plentiful supply from our diet. The importance of vitamin C to our health was highlighted by the work of Nobel Prize winning researcher Linus Pauling who showed the nutrient could be combined with the amino acids lysine and proline to create a powerful agent capable of removing arterial plaque.

The results of a study conducted by the University of California Berkeley and published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine demonstrate the power of vitamin C to lower inflammation by moderating levels of C-reactive protein. Study participants supplemented with 1000 mg a day of vitamin C and were able to reduce C-reactive protein levels by 34%. Vitamin C provides a significant reduction in C-reactive protein levels that translate to lowered risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack.

Pomegranate Improves Blood Flow to the Heart
Blood flow to the heart becomes slowly constricted over time as our arteries stiffen and become thicker due to increased blood pressure and metabolic imbalance from high blood sugar and insulin resistance. Arterial hardening is recognized as a significant cause of heart disease as the muscles that line the endothelial wall constrict meaning the heart has to pump harder to force blood to all parts of the body. Eventually hardened arteries lead to heart failure and death.

Pomegranate has been shown to reverse the signs of arterial stiffening as it relaxes the endothelial muscles that control blood flow to the heart. The results of a study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition shows that after 3 months of supplementation with pomegranate extract, arterial wall thickness decreased by 35% and dangerous LDL cholesterol oxidation was reduced by 90%.

Nature has provided us with powerful nutrients which we can use to prevent the ravages of heart disease. Combined with proper diet and physical activity, vitamin C and pomegranate can help us to live long and productive lives.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Vitamin K Protects Against Cancer and Heart Disease

(Article first published as Vitamin K Necessary to Stop Cancer in its Tracks on Technorati.)
The second leading cause of death in the US is a preventable disease caused by a damaging diet of processed foods and poor lifestyle choices. Many people view cancer as inevitable having seen family members and friends succumb to the disease and believe there is little they can do to protect themselves from the `Big C`.

Our body is continually under assault from rogue cancer cells that are detected and controlled by our innate immune system. Eventually a diet of sugary processed foods and regular contact with household toxins wear down our natural defenses allowing cancer to proliferate. Vitamin K is a critical nutrient that has been shown effective in preventing a number of cancer cell lines with no toxic side effects.

Typical Diet is Grossly Deficient in Vitamin K
Since its discovery nearly 80 years ago, Vitamin K has been viewed merely as a nutrient necessary for proper blood coagulation. Research over the past decade has shown that this vitamin is essential to many functions necessary to promote ideal health.

Vitamin K1 is the most common form of the vitamin found in fresh vegetables such as broccoli and leafy greens. K1 must be converted to K2 in the intestines to be available for use by our cells. K2 is only found in naturally produced cheeses and natto. Since most diets are deficient in vegetables, very little is available for conversion to the active type shown effective in cancer prevention.

Study Confirms Cancer Fighting Power of Vitamin K
Small quantities of vitamin K are required for normal blood clotting. New research is emerging to confirm the amazing cancer prevention and treatment benefits associated with larger doses of this super nutrient. The results of a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition show that those individuals with the highest intakes of vitamin K2 had the lowest risk of developing cancer and a 30% reduction in cancer mortality. Due to poor availability in the diet, most people will need to supplement with K2 to achieve full benefit.

Ensure You Have Sufficient Vitamin K2 to Lower Heart Disease Risk
Experts warn that nearly 100% of those tested have low Vitamin K levels circulating in their blood. In addition to the cancer fighting ability associated with the vitamin, research has shown that K2 lowers the risk of heart disease and heart attack as it helps clear plaque-forming calcium from the blood. Millions of people are at increased risk of cancer as well as cardiovascular disease. 

Eating plenty of raw vegetables and greens will ensure you have plenty of vitamin K1 that`s needed to form clots. K1 can be converted to K2 by bacteria in the digestive tract, although this process is inefficient and doesn`t reliably increase blood saturation. Pre-formed K2 is found naturally in only a handful of foods such as cheese curd and fermented natto. Many people find these foods difficult to tolerate and need to take an inexpensive supplement with food to attain optimal health benefits.

Researchers note that vitamin K and vitamin D work synergistically to promote health and prevent disease. Both nutrients work together to increase the production of a protein (Matrix GLA Protein) that helps protect blood vessels from calcification. Therefore it`s important to obtain both vitamins through diet, sun exposure or supplementation and dramatically lower your risk of cancer and heart disease.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Diet and Exercise Key to Age-Related Weight Gain

(Article first published as Physical Activity Limits Age-Related Weight Gain, Diet and Exercise Key to Weight Loss on Technorati.)
Physical activity level is an important part of a successful weight loss regimen. Physical activity duration has been shown to be predictive of weight gain over the years, and can influence critical health biomarkers that predict risk of disease. Research indicates that while regular exercise is important to weight loss and maintenance goals, it cannot be used as a sole means to avoid age-related weight gain.

Study Finds Physical Activity is Part of the Weight Gain Solution
People naturally tend to gain weight as they age due to lowered metabolic rate without a corresponding reduction in calories. The results of a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association show that women who attain a high level of physical activity when young are significantly more likely to avoid excess weight gain during mid and later life.

The study followed more than 3,500 women over a period of 20 years. Participants were evaluated for weight, BMI, waist circumference and dietary habits at the beginning of the trial and at six intervals thereafter. Women with the highest levels of physical activity that exercised for at least 150 minutes each week gained 20 pounds over the 20 year period, while those with the lowest levels gained more than 33 pounds.

Television Watching Linked to Excess Weight
Spending too much time in front of your television is not good for your health or your waistline. In addition to weight gain, television watching has been shown to increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease. The lack of physical activity means calories are burned at a low base rate and we usually pack on extra calories with processed snack foods.

Information revealed in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise journal confirms that television watching causes metabolic changes in the body that cause cardiovascular disease. Further, the amount of time spent watching TV is directly related to weight gain. Time in front of the TV is time you aren’t physically active and burning calories.

Get Moving and Eat Less!
We have all heard the importance of exercising more and eating less for the benefit of our health and waistline. Research studies repeatedly confirm the importance of staying active. Exercise causes important metabolic changes in our body that determine how we burn and store fat. Physical activity naturally releases sugar from the blood into our cells and muscles to be burned as fuel and prevents insulin resistance and the road to diabetes.

While exercise is part of the answer to prevent age-related weight gain, reducing calories is also essential. Women with the highest activity levels still put on an average of one pound per year by mid-life. As those women reach their senior years, they could be carrying an extra 50 to 75 pounds, placing them at greatly increased risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes and dementia.

The answer to the age-related weight problem is a healthy balance between regular physical activity and lower caloric intake. Plan 150 minutes of exercise each week, turn off the TV and limit calories from processed foods, sugary drinks and refined breads, pasta, rice and desserts. With a little discipline you can win the age-related weight loss battle and lower your risk of disease.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Resveratrol and Grape Seed Activate Longevity Genes

(Article first published as Resveratrol and Grape Extract Shown to Extend Healthy Lifespan on Technorati.)
The benefits of calorie restriction have been known for the past 75 years and provide an important means to increase lifespan. Scientists continue to uncover the evolved biological mechanisms that have been shown to extend life and improve health in animals and mammals alike. 

Eating too much burdens our ability to properly metabolize such a large number of calories and raises the risk of disease. Excess energy from food also influences our genes that regulate aging. The good news is that you can experience the health benefits of calorie restriction by supplementing with targeted nutrients that mimic the effects of lowered calorie intake.

Reducing Calories by 25% Increases Lifespan
Our body is very sensitive to the amount of energy we consume from food each day and scientists have discovered a highly evolved set of genes known as silent information regulators (SIR) that control metabolism and influence our health in an effort to secure our survival. Reducing calories by a quarter has been demonstrated to increase lifespan and improve all aspects of aging including gene expression, DNA repair, oxidative stress and systemic inflammation.

The problem is many people are unable to reduce their food consumption enough to trigger the health boosting effects of calorie restriction. High calorie processed foods have become a large part of our diet that negatively impacts our genes through wild blood sugar swings, insulin resistance and lipid abnormalities. Researchers have found that natural chemical compounds which have evolved to protect fruits and vegetables are able to activate our SIR genes and replicate many of the age reversal effects of caloric restriction.

Resveratrol is a Powerful Antioxidant
Extensive research has documented the antioxidant properties of resveratrol as this polyphenol substance has been shown to prevent oxidative damage that fuels the aging process. The results of a study published in the journal Cell show how resveratrol improves the function of cellular powerhouses known as mitochondria by up regulating the action of the SIR genes. Researchers found that this provided protection against metabolic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease by decreasing oxidative stress on the cell.

Grape Seed Extract Absorbs Free Radicals
Every time you eat, walk or breathe you create free radicals as part of normal metabolism. These tiny particles wreak havoc on the cellular matrix of our cells and are particularly damaging to our brain. Grape seed extract has been shown to decrease free radical induced protein oxidation that affects the electrical conductivity of neurons in the brain. Information published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry document the ability of grape seed extract to modify genes which control brain inflammation and may improve cognitive function and memory.

Quercetin Reduces Systemic Inflammation
Quercetin is super nutrient found in many fruits and vegetables that has been shown to exert influence on our genes that control the release of inflammatory chemicals known as cytokines in our body. Cytokines increase levels of inflammation and are known to cause damage to the vascular system and play a role in cancer initiation. A diet high in fresh vegetables and leafy greens will ensure that you consume this valuable nutrient in your diet, although it may be necessary to supplement to attain optimal benefit.

Nature has provided us with a host of nutrients that directly influence our genes and cellular function. Calorie restriction is a proven method to alter our genes toward improved health and longevity. While everyone may not be able to control calories, we can take advantage of natural nutrients that provide similar benefits.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Depression Slows Weight Loss Efforts, Fish Oil Can Help

(Article first published as Avoid Depression for Successful Weight Loss, Omega-3 Fats Can Help on Technorati.)
Clinical depression rates are rising in America almost as quickly as the number of overweight and obese individuals. It makes sense that people who may be depressed are less likely to be concerned over weight issues as they become less involved with physical health issues and their external environment.

While researchers are unable to say whether depression leads to excess weight or if the extra pounds contribute as an underlying cause of depression, those individuals who fall into the obese classification (BMI above 30) are 50 to 150% more likely to suffer from depression than normal weight individuals. Clearly there is a close relationship between the physical and psychological manifestations that contribute to excess weight and clinical depression.

Depression Closely Linked to Body Weight
Depression is a devastating condition that can have a detrimental effect on many aspects of a person’s life. Depressed people are more likely to eat a poor diet of processed junk foods and become less physically active. The results of a study conducted at the University of Washington and reported in the journal General Hospital Psychology demonstrates that treating obese individuals for depression can have a significant impact on their weight loss efforts.

Study Confirms That Treating Depression Leads to Weight Loss
The study involved 203 obese women for a period of 12 months who had been diagnosed with clinical depression. All participants were placed on a reduced calorie diet and broken into 2 groups. Both groups were monitored for caloric intake with food questionnaires and physical activity. Half of the participants were also treated for their depression and their progress was marked using a traditional symptom checklist.

Women who demonstrated the most marked improvement of their depression symptoms were able to lose the most weight. Researchers found that 38% of the women who experienced improved mood lost 5% of their body weight, compared with only 21% in the non-treated group. The study found that depression is closely linked to decreased physical activity, and most of the weight loss was due to an increased level of exercise.

The study authors could not determine if improving depression symptoms led to greater physical activity or vice versa, but concluded, "among women with co-occurring obesity and depression, short-term improvement in depression is associated with weight loss." They suggest that depression screening should become a normal part of any permanent weight loss program.

Omega-3 Fats Used to Treat Depression
A good alternative to the traditional pharmaceutical therapy for depression is omega-3 fats from fish and fish oils. The human brain is composed largely of long chain Omega-3 fats and when deficient, neurons malfunction and clinical depression manifests. Researchers from the University of Illinois combined the results from 15 independent studies and confirmed that Omega-3 fats are effective at improving mood and may potentially eliminate the need for many people to take antidepressant drugs. Researchers found that the Omega-3 component EPA exerts the most benefit in alleviating the symptoms of depression.

Mood disorders and clinical depression affect nearly 21 million American adults and ranks as the fourth leading cause of morbidity and death. Undoubtedly overweight and obesity are confounding factors that dramatically increase the risk of disease and untimely demise. Research confirms that improving symptoms of depression with traditional therapy and using fish oil supplementation may be the key to relief from clinical depression and successful weight loss.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Curcumin Prevents Cancer, Heart Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and Obesity


Curcumin is one of a small number of super nutrients which has the demonstrated ability to dramatically lower the risk from cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer`s disease while influencing the storage of body fat by altering lipid metabolism. Curcumin is a natural polyphenol which is extracted from curry powder and has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. You can experience a multitude of health benefits by eating the spice in its natural form or by supplementing with a concentrated extract of active curcuminoids.

Curcumin in the Fight against Cancer
Curcumin has been shown to be a powerful tool in the fight against cancer as it helps to restore immune system function which begins to weaken in many people as a result of decades of poor diet and environmental factors. Curcumin works to bolster immune function by restoring the function of key immune cells known as CD4 and CD8 T cells. According to a study published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry, curcumin increases the production of proteins which are needed for immune cell proliferation while reducing the development of proteins which destroy immune cells.

Curcumin Prevents Clogged Arteries While Lowering Heart Attack Risk
Curcumin influences the formation of dangerous coronary artery plaque by lowering levels of systemic inflammation which are known to cause the foamy substance to become unstable and rupture leading to a heart attack. This super nutrient regulates the action of our genes to inhibit the release of chemical messengers through the body in response to stress, poor diet and our environment. The result of a study released in The Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine indicates that curcumin prevents platelet coagulation which can result in a life threatening blood clot.

Curcumin Shown to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Researchers have noted that the incidence of Alzheimer`s disease among the elderly Indian population where curry is regularly eaten with most meals is significantly lower than their western counterparts. Curcumin exhibits strong antioxidant properties and is known to cross the crucial blood-brain barrier where it acts to limit the accumulation of damaging plaque and also reduces the neuronal response to existing plaque tangles. By inhibiting amyloid plaque formation at the synapse where electrical impulses connect different parts of the brain, memory is preserved and symptoms of this devastating disease are minimized or eliminated.

Curcumin Assists Weight Management Goals
Curcumin helps to prevent obesity and assists natural weight loss due to its ability to inhibit the formation of new blood vessels which are required to form new baby fat cells. This polyphenol also influences how the body regulates triglycerides (blood fats) which are then stored as body fat or burned as a source of energy. A study published in The Journal of Nutrition details how curcumin prevents excessive accumulation of triglycerides in the blood and shifts our metabolism away from fat storage. The study authors conclude that curcumin ‘may have a potential benefit in preventing obesity.’

Very few natural nutrients exhibit such a wide array of health benefits as curcumin. Extensive research confirms the powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects which provide protection against many of today`s most devastating illnesses. Whether you choose to add curry to your diet or supplement with a concentrated form of this amazing spice, you can be assured of lowered disease risk and improved quality of life.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Food Visualization Can Aid Weight Loss Efforts

(Article first published as Mind Imagery May Lead to Weight Loss Success on Technorati.)
It’s important not to discount the power that our mind has over our conscious efforts to lose weight, as well as our subconscious desire to control the foods we eat. Our brain exerts a powerful influence over our actions and research indicates that thinking about eating a favorite food can actually help us to consume less of that food and save the calories as a bonus.

We are truly creatures of habit, and tend to eat the same foods in similar quantities on a regular basis. For most people this means we over consume calories without much conscious thought, and are unable to lose weight despite our short lived efforts at dieting. Sooner or later we slide back into the same dietary model and caloric consumption, slowly gaining extra pounds as our metabolism slows with age. It may be possible to harness the power of conscious thought toward a slimmer waistline.

Using Your Brain to Lose Weight
A common assumption is that thinking about our favorite food increases our craving for it and ultimately leads to consumption. The results of a study conducted at Carnegie Mellon University and published in the journal Science shows that when we imagine eating a food, our appetite for that food actually decreases. This study demonstrated that mind imagery has a much greater influence over our desire to eat than our physiological cue to eat.

Study participants were asked to imagine eating a large handful of M&M candy entirely in their mind, while a control group was asked to think about a different task, such as inserting quarters into a laundry machine. Both groups were then allowed to eat freely from a large bowl of M&M’s. The group members that envisioned eating the candy ate significantly less than the control subjects who had been asked to think about a non-food task.

Study Demonstrates Importance Beyond Weight Loss
The results of this research indicate that we may be able to control our desire for our favorite unhealthy food choices by mind imaging. It may be possible to change our habitual nature and lower the desire to eat foods in excess that perpetuate our weight. The study authors believe that there may also be implications for other habitual acts and conclude “we think these findings will help develop future interventions to reduce cravings for things such as unhealthy food, drugs and cigarettes, and hope they will help us learn how to help people make healthier food choices."

Using Mind Imaging to Avoid Unhealthy Food
You can use mind imaging to help avoid foods that you know will contribute to weight gain. Start by choosing one food item that you know you will be eating either at your next meal or commonly as a between meal snack. Create a vivid mental image of the food item. Next picture yourself consuming a large portion and imagine the taste sensation you normally experience as you enjoy every last morsel. Repeat this imagery in your mind several times. You should find a decreased desire to eat that food, or possibly you will be able to pass on the item entirely in the future.

Harnessing the power of the mind when trying to lose weight may be a great benefit to those who have tried other methods and failed. Mental imagery can be a powerful tool that can break the cycle of food habituation. Include food visualization as part of your total program to achieve successful weight loss.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Exercise Helps Prevents Disease and Aging, Assists Weight Loss

(Article first published as Regular Exercise is Key to Life Extension, Weight Loss Goals on Technorati.)
Did you know that regular exercise is the most important lifestyle habit that has been shown to dramatically lower the risk from more than 20 different physical and mental health conditions? It’s likely you do know that exercise is important for health and weight loss goals, yet few people come close to exercising 150 minutes per week, as recommended by health researchers and medical experts.

Exercise plays an essential role in fat metabolism that can safely help with weight loss for many people, and it can be pivotal in preventing many conditions including cancer, heart disease, dementia, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, obesity and high blood pressure. Exercise has been shown to slow down the rate of aging, and provides the closest example of a real life fountain of youth we may ever experience.

Study Finds that Exercise Extends Cell Life
Researchers are beginning to understand that the process of getting older that we call aging is not a normal process. The rate which cells age is much more a function of diet and lifestyle factors, rather than a straight line chronological event. The results of a study published in The International Journal of Clinical Practice demonstrate that accelerated aging is a function of modifiable lifestyle choices including diet, physical activity level, smoking and obesity.

Each of these factors affects our genes and in turn determine metabolic rate and provide protection against many of the modern lifestyle killer diseases. The study focused on exercise and provided evidence how 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day can lower the risk of 25 diseases including heart disease, stroke and cancer in men.

Exercise Improves Insulin Response
Regular exercise has been shown to help normalize insulin response, paving the path toward improved blood sugar control, lower risk from metabolic disease and natural weight loss. Insulin is a powerful hormone that is essential to life, but can wreak havoc throughout your body when excess amounts are allowed to circulate in the blood, or when insulin becomes ineffective in ushering sugar from the blood to the cells and muscles for energy.

Plan Exercise as Part of Your Daily Schedule
The most common excuse people use to avoid exercise is they simply don’t have the time. Plan exercise like you would any other important daily event. Carve out a minimum of 30 minutes each day for moderate physical activity. You don’t need to exercise intensely to reap the health benefits, but it is important to increase your heart rate by at least 25%.

This can be done with aerobic exercises such as walking or jogging or with resistance training techniques including free weights or power band equipment. For maximum results, include both type of exercises to cross-train all major muscle groups.

We are in control of many of the lifestyle habits that affect our risk of disease and longevity. Genetic predisposition plays a small role in our health. Diet and physical activity exert a significant influence over our genes and how we are protected against chronic illness. Plan regular exercise into your healthy lifestyle to fuel weight loss and dramatically lower your risk of an early demise.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Carbs Linked to Weight Gain and Shortened Life

(Article first published as Cut Carbs from Diet to Aid Weight Loss and Extend Life on Technorati.)
If you knew that the key to successful weight loss and adding extra years to your life was a matter of making simple changes to your diet, would you want to know more details? There is no doubt that the type of foods we eat every day affect the way our body burns or stores calories, and new research indicates that carbohydrates may be critical to the development of disease and how long we live.

Scientists have discovered that the human body can sustain 120 healthy years before our cellular matrix simply wears out and we die. Yet the average life span is only 80 to 85 years. And for many the last decade of life is far from pleasant, as declining health, excess body weight and disease devastate the lives of so many productive people. Learn how you can control the genes that promote longevity and lose weight naturally.

Study Finds Insulin Dysfunction Triggers Most Lethal Diseases and Obesity
The results of a study conducted at the University of California show that insulin is a major accelerant of the aging process and is the main reason that obesity and diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and dementia are so prevalent today. Insulin is released primarily as a response to excess blood sugar and consuming excess carbohydrates.

After a large meal of breads, pasta and sugary treats, large amounts of insulin are needed to mop up the massive amount of glucose in the blood. After years and even decades of carb overload, insulin becomes resistant and unable to perform effectively, allowing high levels of sugar to remain in the blood. Sugar is known to feed cancer cells, and damages the inner lining of the arterial walls increasing risk of heart disease and heart attack.

Carbohydrates Affect Genes That Control Lifespan
Research from this study demonstrates that carbohydrate consumption directly affects two key genes that govern longevity and youthfulness. Aging has always been viewed as a natural process that is inevitable and to be accepted as part of getting older. We now understand that our genetics determine how quickly we age, and that carbs influence the action of those genes responsible for regulating key metabolic processes that promote disease.

Processed Carb Diet Leads to Obesity
For decades the medical profession has promoted the low fat diet as a preventive measure for heart disease and lower weight. A low fat diet means high carb consumption, and the statistics show that heart disease and obesity have both soared since the conception of the low fat mantra. Researchers have demonstrated that fat is essential to health, and processed carbs cause metabolic alterations that promote fat storage. The best way to lose weight is to adopt a moderate fat diet (no hydrogenated or trans fats) and eliminate all processed and refined carbs.

This study provides another example of how our junk food diet of fast and convenience foods is damaging the health of our nation and is behind the obesity epidemic. Excess or resistant insulin are shown to be the primary cause of premature death by promoting lethal chronic disease and contributing to excessive fat storage. Control your insulin by limiting carbs and eating healthy fat sources that help prevent illness and lead to successful weight loss.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fructose is Behind the Diabesity Epidemic

(Article first published as Why You Can’t Lose Weight: Study Finds Fructose Behind the Diabesity Epidemic on Technorati.)
Fructose is fast becoming a new type of four-letter word among people trying to lose weight and those health conscious individuals concerned about excess dietary sugar and increased risk of metabolic diseases including diabetes. The medical profession has coined the phrase ‘diabesity’, as diabetes and obesity frequently coexist. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was introduced into our food supply in the early 70’s and obesity rates have steadily increased in tandem with fructose consumption since that time. 

Diabetes cases have similarly grown over the past 40 years and it is now expected that more than half of the US population will be prediabetic or diabetic by 2020. There’s no mistake making the connection between increased dietary fructose from sweetened beverages and processed foods to the explosion of overweight, obese and diabetic Americans.

Fructose Rapidly Breaks Down and Becomes Belly Fat
Researchers have demonstrated that calories from drinks and foods containing fructose are metabolized differently than the same calories from table sugar. While both sugars contain empty calories, fructose is converted to fat in the liver and doesn’t register as an available energy source that the body can use to power metabolic activities. This means that the proper hormonal signals aren’t transmitted to the brain telling you to stop eating, as is the case with traditional sugar sources. The tendency is to overeat and fat is quickly stored from fructose metabolism.

Study Links Fructose to Obesity and Diabetes
Due to government subsidies, inexpensive HFCS has found its way into virtually every processed food source. It’s nearly impossible to avoid the sweetener unless you eat a raw, natural diet, as HFCS is added into everything from baked goods and breads to hot dogs and condiments The results of a study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology makes the link between fructose consumption and the dramatic rise in obesity rates over the past 40 years. The study also cited a connection with hypertension and renal disease.

Controlling Weight by Understanding the Impact of Fructose
Most people known that fructose is a form of sugar derived from fruit. While some people may need to limit fruit due to existing metabolic problems, this form of fructose is not the cause of the obesity and diabetic dilemma. Fructose from fruit is tightly bound with fiber and releases slowly. Refined fructose, especially in the form of HFCS has been processed to optimize sweetness.

Once you get a taste for fructose, even table sugar doesn’t seem as sweet. The important point is that fructose has the same number of calories as any sugar source, but it doesn’t register properly with our brain and leads to overeating and excess fat production and storage.

Nutritional researchers continue to make the connection between fructose, obesity and increased risk of diabetes. The best way to avoid fructose is move away from processed foods and drink, favoring foods in their natural form. Read all nutritional labels diligently, as manufacturers are allowed to use a variety of different terms to indicate the presence of the sweetener. Cut your dependence on fructose and its derivatives to hit your target weight goal and prevent metabolic disease.