Tuesday, January 10, 2017

US News Ranks Top US Diets

US News evaluated 38 of the most popular diets and identified the best. Find which top-rated diet is best for your health and fitness goals.

Best Diets Overall:
1. DASH Diet: DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), was originally developed to prevent and lower high blood pressure. This diet promotes the foods we've always been told to eat (fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy), while shunning those we've grown to love, (calorie- and fat-laden sweets and red meat). This healthy eating pattern is key to deflating high blood pressure and may also promote weight loss. The DASH diet is also ranked #1 for Diabetes and Heart Healthy Diets.

2. Mediterranean Diet: It has generally been accepted that the folks in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea live longer and suffer less than most Americans from cancer and cardiovascular ailments. The not-so-surprising secret is an active lifestyle, weight control, and a diet low in red meat, sugar, and saturated fat and high in produce, nuts, and other healthful foods. The diet claims to promote weight loss, then maintenance, and to promote heart and brain health, cancer prevention, and diabetes prevention and control.

3. MIND Diet: The MIND diet is a new hybrid of two balanced, heart-healthy diets (DASH and Mediterranean) that may lower your risk of mental decline. The emphasis is on eating from 10 brain-healthy food groups: green leafy vegetables, all other vegetables, huts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and wine. MIND adherents avoid foods from the five unhealthy groups: red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheeses, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.

Check out the full results

Have you tried any of these dietary approaches? What has been your experience with them? I hope your new year has had a great start. Please contact me if you'd like any more information.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Boomers are Fitter Than Ever

People are considered to be in their "prime" during their 20s, and they often accept that their physical fitness and health are meant to decline as they age. Contrary to this belief, a recent report says that many people aged 50 and older feel healthier than ever. The research found that 17% of the 1,500 respondents "over 50" believe they are more fit now than they were in their 20s. More than half believe they look younger than their age. This group also says that they eat more fruit and vegetables than they did in their earlier years. The study was conducted by Engage Mutual, a financial institution in the United Kingdom.
"This study challenges many of the preconceptions around aging and is good news when we consider that in light of increased life expectancy, many more of us will be spending a larger portion of our life 'over 50,'" says Engage Mutual's spokeswoman Louise Withy.

Do you feel you may fit into this group? As the year draws to a close, recognize your past year fitness successes! Making New Year's "resolutions" can be as simple as some small positive changes you can incorporate into your life next year. Contact me if you'd like any assistance and please pass along my information if you know someone who might.

What type of Exercise helps most with Sleep

While you may know that that physical activity improves sleep quantity and quality, new research indicates that the choice of activity plays a role. Studies have found that people who get less than 7 hours of sleep are at greater risk for poor heath and functioning and that physical activity is associated with healthy sleep. Researchers recently teased out the differences between specific types of activity and sleep quality.

The investigators used data on sleep and activity from 429,110 adults from the 2013 Behavioral Risk Surveillance System, a survey collected every year by the CDC. The respondents gave information on amount of sleep and types of physical activities they engaged in.

Data analysis showed that while walking was beneficial, activities like aerobics/calisthenics, bicycling, running, weightlifting, and yoga were even more likely to be associated with healthy sleep.
"Not only does this study show that those who get exercise simply by walking are likely to have better sleep habits, but these effects are even stronger for more purposeful activities, such as running and yoga, and even gardening and golf."

"Sleep, fitness, and diet are the three pillars of health. When any one of them is out of balance with the other, the body is not able to do what it needs to do to maintain optimal functioning. That also means that these three pillars all support each other."

How has increasing your physical activity levels affected your sleep? Can you or your loved ones relate to the findings of this investigation?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

New Nutrition Facts Label Coming Soon!

On May 20, 2016, the FDA announced the new Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods to reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. The new label will make it easier for consumers to make better informed food choices. FDA published the final rules in the Federal Register on May 27, 2016. Food manufacturers will be required to comply with the new food labeling by July 26, 2018.
Highlights of the Final Nutrition Facts Label

1. Features a Refreshed Design
  • The type size will be larger for Calories, Servings per container and Serving size, and the number of calories will be in bold. 
  • Manufacturers must declare the actual amount, in addition to percent Daily Value of vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium. 
2. Reflects Updated Information about Nutrition Science
  • “Added sugars,” in grams and as percent Daily Value, will be included on the label. Scientific data has shown an increasing link between added sugar and heart disease.
  • While continuing to require “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” on the label, “Calories from Fat” is being removed.
3. Updates Serving Sizes and Labeling Requirements for Certain Package Sizes
  • By law, serving sizes must be based on amounts of foods and beverages that people are actually eating, not what they should be eating.
  • The servings sizes listed on most products will increase to more accurately reflect how much people are eating in one serving. This will help consumers avoid confusion when eating what they expected was one serving, but was actually 2.
Will these new labeling rules make you more or less likely to read nutrition labels? How will it influence your choices? If you'd like any further help understanding the nutrition label, please view the infographics below, consult the FDA website, and ask me for help or advice.



Friday, September 23, 2016

Adults Benefit from Short Bouts of Exercise

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that adults aged 65 and older should aim to achieve at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week. This is in addition to at least 2 or more days of muscle-strengthening exercise per week. However, many individuals in this age group don't fulfill the recommendations. The good news is that even small amounts of physical activity can be beneficial.

A study presented at the EuroPrevent 2016 meeting suggested that just 15 minutes of daily exercise can yield a positive response. The conclusion was based on data from two studies involving more than 123,000 subjects. The researchers looked at weekly physical activity records and death rates, and found that as activity levels increased, death rates declined. Subjects classified as highly active had a 35% lower risk of death during the study. However, subjects at the lower end of the activity spectrum--who exercised for just 15 minutes per day--still saw their risk decrease by 22%.

These two studies show that the more physical activity older adults do, the greater the health benefit. The implications of this research are also likely true for adults younger than 65.

Do you meet these activity recommendations currently? If not, you can start by adding in short bouts of exercise until you are achieving the recommended amount of time. If you are meeting these recommendations, congratulations! Keep up the good work and keep in mind that going over the recommendations only yields greater benefits.

Do you know others who are not currently meeting the minimum exercise requirements that could benefit from incorporating more exercise into their lives? Please pass along the findings of this research. If you or anyone you know would like help in achieving the health benefits of exercise, I'd be be happy to meet and discuss some solutions.

The study appeared in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (2015; 49 [19], 1262-67).

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Spin into health

Cardiovascular exercise is vital to keeping our organs healthy, for example, heart, lungs, circulatory system, etc. Cardiovascular or Aerobic exercise is physical exercise of low to high intensity that depends primarily on the aerobic energy-generating process. Aerobic literally means "relating to, involving, or requiring free oxygen", and refers to the use of oxygen to adequately meet energy demands during exercise via aerobic metabolism. Generally, light-to-moderate intensity activities that are sufficiently supported by aerobic metabolism can be performed for extended periods of time. When practiced in this way, examples of cardiovascular/aerobic exercise are medium to long distance running/jogging, swimming, cycling, and walking.

Spinning is a convenient indoor version of cycling that may be more convenient. While attending a spin class is the best way to keep motivated to maintain a high intensity session, there are also online resources that can help you make your own personal spin class. The Global Cycling Network has a YouTube channel, where they have posted 16 spinning workouts ranging in length from 13 to 60 minutes.

Train with Global Cycling Network

Benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise:
  • Improved hormonal profile: ease symptoms of depression and fatigue and release hormones that decrease appetite
  • Increased metabolism: can lead to weight loss
  • Improved heart health: decrease in blood pressure, decrease in bad (LDL and total cholesterol, increase in good (HDL) cholesterol
  • Improved recovery ability
  • Diabetes management: increased insulin sensitivity

Monday, August 29, 2016

Fridge Makeover

We all know that when the healthy choice is the easy choice, we're a lot more likely to make the healthy choice. On the other hand, if the unhealthy choice is right there in our face, we're a lot more likely to go with the unhealthy choice. It's not just about willpower, it's about being human and going for what's easy. Studies have shown that 70% of the food eaten in the home is food that the nutritional gatekeeper purchases for the home. So, it's about going to the store and making healthy purchases and then positioning those healthy options in an easy to see and grab location to actually eat them. One way to do that is through a fridge makeover.
  1. Clean it all out: how does what you've got line up with your meal plans for the week and the way you want to be eating.
  2. Take inventory of what you need and what you have and strategically restock your refrigerator.
  3. Make fruits and veggies highly visible: when you open up the fridge, they're the first things you see. Move fresh items to the front and have them easy to grab and snack on. They're very easy to see and they won't go to waste because you forgot about them in a bottom drawer. 
  4. Move sweets to the back: if you're not always seeing it, you're less likely to eat it as often. You're creating a visual environment to make healthy eating easy and attractive.
  5. Have healthy, low calorie options at the front of your drink shelf: water, milk, unsweetened iced tea; push the soda and sugary drinks to the back of the drink shelf.
  6. Move the condiments to the bottom drawers: This creates an easy to find place for fruits and vegetables in the side shelves. When they're easy to see, it'll make it easier to grab an apple instead of a soda or sugary snack. 
Ultimately an easy way to make your family choose to eat healthier is by changing the environment in which you live, so that the healthy foods are easily accessible, easy to get to, and the unhealthy foods and less healthy things aren't even in the house, or if they are, they're a little bit harder to find.