Monday, November 23, 2015

Metabolism - Are you Helping or Hurting Yours?

Good article from Eat This, Not That! titled "25 Things You Did Today That Ruined Your Metabolism" that gives your a checklist to ensure your are not disabling or degrading your metabolism which not only affects your immune system, but ability to control your weight. Twenty pounds or so that you don't need surely affects your joints, especially the knees, so take note!

Metabolism. It’s the set of life-sustaining chemical transformations within the cells of living organisms. It’s such a big concept that you might believe you’re at the mercy of it. Well, you are! It’s thermodynamics at work, after all. But there are a bunch of simple — even easy — things you can do to boost your metabolism and make your body run more efficiently. Make tomorrow a great day by learning from the common metabolism mistakes you probably made today.

1. You didn’t get a good night’s sleep If you're chronically sleep deprived, don’t be surprised if you gain a few pounds without eating a morsel of extra food. “A lack of sleep can cause several metabolic problems,” says nutritionist Seth Santoro. “It can cause you to burn fewer calories, lack appetite control and experience an increase in cortisol levels, which stores fat.” Lack of sufficient sleep — which experts say is 7 to 9 hours a night for most people — also leads to impaired glucose tolerance, a.k.a. your body's ability to utilize sugar for fuel. “We all have those less-than-adequate nights of sleep,” says nutritionist Lisa Jubilee. “But if it's a regular thing, you're better off lengthening your night's sleep than working out, if fat loss or weight maintenance is your goal.”

2. You started your day dehyrated For Jubilee, one of the best and cheapest ways to give your metabolism a jolt is to drink water (she suggests 20 to 32 ounces) shortly after waking. Why? During sleep, your body’s metabolic function slowed, and unless you woke up in the middle of the night to swig some water, it didn’t receive any fluids. Jubilee suggests completely rehydrating before stressing your body with any other food or drink. “My clients who have implemented this report less bloating, more energy and a smaller appetite,” she says. Her motto for getting your inner furnace stoked and ready for the day: “Rehydrate, then caffeinate!”

3. You drank too much caffeine Plenty of studies indicate that caffeine can boost your metabolism in the AM. But nutritionist Amy Shapiro says that guzzling coffee and other caffeinated drinks all day could actually work against you. Caffeine is a natural appetite suppressant. If you’re constantly consuming it, you may not eat much — or realize how hungry you really are — until you get home for dinner. “Not eating enough throughout the day can make your metabolism sluggish,” she says. “By the time you eat dinner, instead of immediately using that food for energy, your body is aggressively storing it as fat, just in case it will be deprived again.”

4. You sit too much Ideally, we sleep about eight hours for every 24. Most people spend another seven to ten hours sitting at their desk. That means most of us spend the overwhelming majority of our time sedentary. Our bodies weren't designed for this level of inactivity — most of humans’ evolutionary history involved being active, searching for food and fuel. Jubilee says that one way to burn more calories daily is to stand more and sit less. She cites a British study which found that standing at work burned 50 more calories per hour than sitting. If that doesn’t sound like a lot, consider this: If you stand for just three hours of your day, in one year you’d expend more than 30,000 extra calories — which amounts to about 8 lbs of fat! Another good office habit: Set a phone timer to remind you get up every hour and walk around, even for a few minutes, says Jubilee.

5. You didn’t eat organic “Hormones dictate how our body utilizes the energy we give it,” says Jubilee. “Between our reproductive, thyroid and growth hormones, appetite, insulin and hunger hormones — leptin and ghrelin — our bodies have to perform a tricky balancing act to keep us lean, energized and viable reproductive beings.” Those tasks have become much more difficult because of the hormone residues we consume via cage-raised foods. If you want to give your metabolism a leg up, Jubilee says, switch to organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised beef, eggs and dairy products, thereby avoiding those nasty hormones at mealtime.

6. You ate too many calories too late in the day “Not eating enough calories in a day is an easy way to slow your metabolism,” says Santoro. “It’s a common mistake people make.” When you don’t consume enough calories, your body switches into starvation mode, and your brain tells your body to store fat. This can increase cortisol levels, leading to belly-fat storage, which comes with health risks. “Eating a large dinner, especially too close to bedtime, can be detrimental to your metabolism,” says Shapiro. “It’s likely to throw off your inner clock and make you not hungry in the morning, which can ultimately lead to weight gain.” It’s at this point in the day that people are more likely to have an alcoholic beverage, which can bedevil your metabolism even more. “When a person drinks, acetate is formed,” says Santoro. “The body spends time trying to detoxify itself rather than burn calories.” He adds that drinking alcohol can impair protein synthesis and anabolic (muscle-building) hormones. Shapiro suggests that you prepare for busy or unpredictable days by packing healthy snacks to keep you from overeating or making unhealthful food choices.

7. You sprinkle food with sea salt Sea salt has cachet, especially when paired with chocolate or caramel. What it doesn’t have is iodine, a key element that gives your thyroid gland what it needs to get the job done. The thyroid gland helps to regulate your metabolism. If you don’t have enough iodine, it’s unable to produce thyroid hormones, and your metabolism can grind to a screeching halt. Most table salt is iodized; just a half-teaspoon will provide 100% of your RDA for iodine. You can also eat seaweed, cod, shrimp, and eggs, all of which are great sources of iodine.

8. Your home or workplace is too warm If you’re reading this, you’re almost certainly a mammal. It follows that you’re also an endotherm. This means that you can set heat free from within your own body to regulate your body temperature, rather than relying solely on the ambient temperature. It’s not just a neat trick common to both mammals and birds — it also burns calories. So turn down your thermostat and let your body do the heavy lifting. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health found that participants who slept in bedrooms cooled to 66°F for a month doubled the amount of brown adipose tissue they burned. Brown adipose tissue is a type of fat that burns calories rather than stores them. "Brown fat becomes more active in cooler temperatures to help keep us warm," explains Aaron Cypess, MD, an endocrinologist at the NIH. The take-home? Turning down your heat, sleeping in cooler temps, and spending time outdoors is going to help to stoke your metabolism, so chill out to get lean.

9. You've nixed carbs completely Although it’s true that eating too many refined carbs can get in the way of your health and weight-loss goals, eating too few can have a similar effect. That’s because when we exercise, our muscles need carbohydrates’ stores of glycogen for energy; if they don’t get enough, they can’t grow. That’s bad because the more muscle you can get and keep, the more calories you’ll burn at rest. But that’s not all. With your muscles starved of energy, you won’t be able to exercise as intensely as you otherwise would. That means fewer calories burned while active. Have a serving (about the size of once cupped palm) of oatmeal, sweet potato or brown rice prior to working out.

10. Your entire focus is on lifting weights, not lowering them It feels great to work out in an efficient amount of time, but when it comes to cranking your metabolism, haste makes waste. That’s because there are big metabolism-boosting benefits that come from the eccentric (a.k.a. lowering) aspects of these movements. Eccentric movements damage muscles more than the act of lifting them. They require more effort from your body to repair and demand more caloric energy to do so. Greek researchers demonstrated that women who performed one weekly strength workout that focused on eccentric movement increased their resting energy expenditure and fat burning by 5 and 9%, respectively, over a period of eight weeks.

11. You don't snack like a nut A review of research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), particularly those contained in walnuts, could enhance the activity of certain genes that control fat burning, meaning that a nutty snacker may burn more calories throughout the day than one who grabs another type of lower cal snack. One to 1.5 ounces amounts to a small handful of walnuts. Have a snack of this size once daily for better burning.

12. You're not being intense Researchers in Australia found that when women performed a 20-minute HIIT workout three times per week, they shed nearly 6 pounds more than those who exercised for 40 minutes three times a week at a steady pace. Why? Researchers explain that while high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is of shorter duration than a regular cardio workout, it results in greater post-exercise oxygen consumption, meaning that you continue burning calories for a period of time afterward.

13. You're working out at the wrong time Northwestern University scientists have suggested that getting out and about in the early morning sunlight could help to regulate your circadian rhythm. That controls the many functions your body performs, including how much and well you sleep, how much you eat, and how much energy you burn. Try stepping outside for a jog or walk first thing in the a.m. Studies have shown that people who are up-and-at-’em first thing have a lower BMI compared to those who take their sunshine later in the day.

14. You’re eating inconsistent amounts at irregular times Ready to do some simple math? Figure out how many calories you need to achieve your desired weight and evenly divide that number by the 3, 4 or 5 meals and snacks you eat per day. Aim for each of your meals to be roughly this size. Why? Research from John Moores University in Liverpool found that women who fluctuated between eating low- and high-calorie meals were less happy with their bodies than those whose plates contained a similar number of calories from meal to meal. But it's not just a fluctuating size that can derail your weight-loss goals. A Hebrew University study from 2012 found that mice that were fed high-fat foods sporadically gained more weight than mice that ate a similar diet on a regular schedule. Experts suspect that eating at the same times every day trains the body to burn more calories between meals.

15. You’re consuming too many pesticides A Canadian study has found that chemicals in pesticides called organochlorines can mess with your body's energy-burning process and make it more difficult to lose weight. The researchers found that dieters who ate the most toxins experienced a greater-than-normal dip in metabolism and had a harder time losing weight. Dr. Whitney S. Goldner of the University of Nebraska Medical Center has noted that there is growing evidence for a link between exposure to pesticides and thyroid problems. Your move is to buy organic fruits and veggies whenever possible.

16. You’re consuming dietary toxins in processed foods Studies have shown that mice that have had sustained exposure to chemical preservatives develop significant abdominal weight gain, early insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. Limiting your exposure to dietary toxins, sugars, refined carbohydrates and processed foods will help keep your metabolism revved.

17. You’re Drinking Water Containing Fluoride and Chlorine If your thyroid is dragging, your metabolism will slow down and may even become dysfunctional. Drinking fluoridated and chlorinated water supplies have been linked to dysfunction in metabolic processes — both chemicals interfere with normal thyroid function. Drink filtered water whenever possible.

18. You’re taking unnecessary meds We’ve come to rely on various medications to deal with lifestyle diseases. For many people, these medications do for them what bold lifestyle changes have not. For others, drugs for diabetes, cholesterols and high blood pressure have been taken too soon and for too long. That’s bad because in they can interfere with critical metabolic processes, which dramatically reduce the expenditure of energy. It’s well worth talking to your doctor about what can be achieved with non-pharmaceutical interventions, such diet, exercise and meditation.

19. You’re eating too little This one sounds counterintuitive, but bear with us. When you don’t sufficiently fuel your body, it can switch into starvation mode. In effect, your metabolic rate slows and your body clings to the remaining fuel. That’s because in our evolutionary past — before the advent of agriculture — food was often scarce and the body adapted to conserve fuel. Even if you’re cutting calories and creating a calorie deficit, your best move is to eat often and in a way that enables you to be active without getting exhausted.

20. You’re not eating enough protein Protein is a one-stop metabolism shop. It fills you up, making you less likely to forage for less metabolism-boosting food. It can rev post-meal calorie burn by as much as 35%, according to research, and it helps you grow muscle, which is like a calorie-incinerating body cloak that’s hard at work blasting calories while you’re at rest. It ought to be a component in every meal. Eat protein-rich foods such as fish, egg whites, lean meat or nuts daily.

21. You're not catching enough D Vitamin D. Wild salmon has plenty of it. In fact, you can get 90% of your recommended daily value (400 IU) in a 3.5-ounce serving of this delicious fish. Don’t have a taste for salmon? That’s alright, alright, alright: Go all McConaughey and take your shirt off. Exposing your full torso to the sun for at least 30 minutes will produce approximately 10,000 IU.

22. You’re not getting enough calcium Calcium plays a key role in regulating the way your body metabolizes. Specifically, it determines whether you burn calories or sport them as a tire. According to research conducted at the Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, a diet that's high in calcium could help you burn more fat. Consume dairy, Greek yogurt and these calcium-rich foods.

23. You’re eating refined carbohydrates When a carb is complex, the body has to work a little harder to break it down. White bread, pasta and rice are broken down more easily because the complex carbohydrates have been taken out of them and their carb content has been refined. The result? A slower metabolism. Refined carbs don't offer much nutritional value in the first place, so you’re way better off choosing whole-wheat breads, pasta and brown rice.

24. You’re eating too many sweets Avoiding sugary foods is a great idea. Why? Sugar creates a spike in blood glucose levels and is very quickly absorbed into your system. Both of these mechanisms are putting the brakes on your metabolism. Replace candy, chocolate and ice cream with fresh fruit for weight loss. It will help to satisfy your sweet tooth without causing a spike in your glucose levels.

25. You're drinking too much alcohol Sad news, folks: When you have an alcoholic drink, you burn less fat. What fat you do burn, you burn more slowly than usual. That’s because the alcohol is used as fuel instead. Quaffing a couple of martinis can reduce your body's fat-burning ability by up to 73%! That’s a scientific finding that should leave you shaken and stirred.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The 9 Most Nutritious Foods You Can Eat Right Now

I always like these little articles that point out decent foods and snacks that can have a positive effect on your health. This article was written by Josh Axe and published on Yahoo! Health.

The 9 Most Nutritious Foods You Can Eat Right Now

The word “superfood” has gained popularity in recent years, as people are more in pursuit of optimal health and longevity than ever. Superfoods, described as nutritionally rich foods that provide solid overall health benefits, are characterized by having high levels of vitamins and minerals as well as other beneficial nutrients like antioxidants, protein, fiber, and healthy fats — all of which boost health and are thought to ward off illness. Additionally, superfoods are typically plant-based and notoriously versatile, meaning they can be consumed in a number of ways. And given that the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirms that people who consume more fresh fruits and veggies are less likely to struggle with chronic disease, there are ever more reasons to start eating some popular superfoods.

But it’s not enough to grab just any superfood and plop it on your plate. Those that are in season provide even greater nutritional bang for your bite, as they are more likely to be produced locally — not picked well before their peak and subjected to chemical processing in order to withstand a lengthy transit to your local grocery store. And they’re tastier and easier on your wallet too.

So, now that the weather is cooler and the leaves are changing color, it’s time to take advantage of some of the best superfoods that are either in season now or that pair beautifully with autumnal dishes. Check them out below.

A cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower is rapidly rising in the superfood ranks, both for its versatility and its broad range of health benefits. Rich in vitamins and minerals, this colorless cousin of broccoli provides an excellent source of fiber and omega-3s and brings with it countless health benefits, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, it’s thought to have properties that combat or prevent cancer and other chronic diseases. Not a fan of cauliflower? You’re in luck! Its mild flavor means it can be combined with other foods and slipped into the diet in any number of ways, like in this macaroni and cheese.

In addition to making a delicious accompaniment to the standard Thanksgiving dinner, cranberries are a superfood that provide an impressive amount of health benefits. Most widely known for their role in fighting urinary tract infections, cranberries are also rich in antioxidants and play important roles in promoting heart health and, thanks to their high fiber content, digestive health.

Turmeric is thought to be highly effective as an anti-inflammatory agent, helping ease the pain of those who suffer from arthritis or other joint issues. But its reputation doesn’t stop there. In fact, benefit-rich turmeric has been found to help calm heartburn and nausea (though that could also be due to its anti-inflammatory values). Find it in pill form, or grab a jar from the spice aisle of your grocery store and sprinkle it into recipes to enjoy its benefits. The rich spice is delicious in all of fall’s savory soups and stews, or you can sip on this healing turmeric tea to stay warm on cool evenings.

When it comes to superfood lists, people tend to gravitate to more exotic offerings, and the humble apple rarely gets its due. But when it comes to all-around benefit, few foods are as nutritious as apples. Apples are a close runner-up to berries in antioxidant power, and their high fiber content helps heal digestion issues. That fiber also helps lower cholesterol, fight diabetes, and maintain healthy weight. The secret to reaping all of the apple’s health rewards is to eat the whole fruit — most of its nutrients are in the peel.

The new supernut on the block is the nutrition-loaded walnut, a tree nut that has countless health benefits. Its omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial in maintaining heart health and aiding in the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis. And walnuts are a jackpot source of fiber, protein, vitamin E, magnesium, folate, copper, and the ever-beneficial antioxidants.

Butternut squash
Fall is the season of the gourd, and for butternut squash fans, every autumn brings the welcome return of this delicious superfood. Butternut squash is orange in color, meaning it is naturally rich in carotenoids, which are known for their cancer-preventing properties as well as their role in promoting eye health. Additionally, butternut squash plays an important role in heart health, as it’s another plant-based source of omega-3s. Need ideas for how to prepare this super-versatile superfood? These recipes should keep you satisfied for a bit.

If you’re looking for an alternative to quinoa to satisfy your gluten-free needs, meet amaranth. A native crop of Peru, it’s cooked in a similar fashion to quinoa and can stand in for rice in most dishes. Amaranth is highly regarded for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and it is also high in protein, iron, phosphorus, and carotenoids, making it a versatile superfood that aids in digestion while also benefitting heart and bone health. As the weather cools, we typically reach for heavier, more filling meals. Amaranth is the perfect grain-free addition (it’s actually a seed) to fall’s comforting dishes.

Sweet potatoes
I don’t encourage people to eat a diet that’s high in potatoes — white potatoes, that is. But while standard russets are high in starch and a key contributor to weight gain when eaten is excess, sweet potatoes are the exact opposite. In addition to offering a lower glycemic load, sweet potatoes are full of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. That makes them great for weight loss, skin health, prostate health, and even preventing and fighting cancer.

Pumpkin seeds
After you finish carving the jack-o’-lantern for your front porch, make sure to hold on to those pumpkin seeds. Packed with magnesium, iron, protein, and zinc, pumpkin seeds are as tasty as they are nutritious. By saving them from the trash bin and incorporating them into your diet, you’ll maximize bone health and stabilize blood pressure.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

New Information on Blood Pressure

A new study about blood pressure will change the way doctors practice medicine. A single study will change the way I practice medicine, with guidelines from the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health soon to follow, says Marc Siegel in an article written for Slate and posted on Business Insider. Marc Siegel, M.D., is a professor of medicine and medical director of Doctor Radio at New York University’s Langone Medical Center.

It's easy to get confused by the overly dramatic daily news about health and medicine. One day coffee is great for you; the next day it interferes with sleep and leads to illness.

One day the plague is back; the next day it's Ebola or West Nile virus that is capturing attention. Healthcare stories ebb and flow as seen through the skewed eye of TV news.

But every now and then, a story comes along that literally changes the way I and other doctors practice medicine. It is difficult to overstate the importance of such a story.

One of the clues that we are in the medical-research big leagues is when a study is stopped early for dramatic, clear findings. That is what occurred this past week with the National Institutes of Health-sponsored Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial, or Sprint.

Another clue is when the study is prospective (studying patient outcomes looking forward rather than looking backward at past behavior), successfully divides participants into two distinct groups, and provides an important answer to a lifesaving health question.

In this case the question is: What is a healthy blood-pressure goal? Doctors and their patients have long wondered what the magic number is for people at risk for heart attacks and strokes. Convention as well as guidelines have always been to keep a patient's blood pressure below 140 millimeters of mercury systolic.

By systolic I mean that first jet of blood pressure that shoots into the elastic arteries when the heart pumps; it's the first number given of a pair when blood pressure is measured. The diastolic blood pressure, or the lower number, is a measurement of the pressure left in the arteries when the heart rests.

One-third of all Americans suffer from high blood pressure, and everyone has a loved one with high blood pressure, so this concern is relevant to the entire country. Just half of those who are diagnosed with high blood pressure have it under control. Now we are redefining what "under control" means.

The Sprint study looked at more than 9,000 patients in 30 medical centers around the country from 2010 to 2013. When blood pressure was lowered to below 120 systolic as opposed to 140 systolic, there was a 30% decrease in heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes as well as a 25% decrease in death.

The study included the elderly, with an average age of 68. Fortunately, even with aggressive blood-pressure management, side effects did not increase.

In my experience, fear of side effects such as dizziness, impotence, and fatigue keeps many high-blood-pressure sufferers from maximizing their treatment options. Targeted diet, exercise, and weight loss are good first-line approaches, but many people require medication as well.

Now that I know there is a dramatic difference between a systolic blood pressure of 140 and 120 in those I treat, I will be much more proactive in trying to persuade my patients to target the lower number.

A single study will change the way I practice medicine, with guidelines from the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health soon to follow.

That's a pretty good day for a new health report in the media. It's also a solid reminder to me and other medical reporters not to hype the next diet or vitamin study. When a medical home run like this one comes along, I want to be taken seriously when I get excited.

MyAchingKnees comment: My blood pressure was always around 138/96 for the almost 30 years I would get routine checkups. I was routinely flagged for week long BP measurements and tracking. Eleven years ago I started taking high quality nutritinal supplements. My routine BP has always been around 122/82 since then. In fact, nurses taking my BP during vitals triage for medical and dental appointments always remark that I have good BP. Wasn't always that way. If people out there have high BP, I would suggest finding and taking a high quality nutritional supplement to see if they can obtain the same results.

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