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The Paleo Diet, touted for weight loss, has a growing number of followers. What is this diet? Is it right for you? The Paleo Diet, also known as the Caveman Diet or Stone Age Diet, refers to foods available during the Paleolithic Age, when early ancestors weren’t farmers but hunters and gatherers. They depended on food caught or gathered from open fields and forests.

According to Paleo enthusiasts, the diet includes lean meats, shellfish, eggs, fruits and vegetables, and healthy oils (olive and coconut). Restricted foods include dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, salt, refined vegetable oils (such as canola), grains, and all processed foods.

A recent study of older women on this diet caught my attention. The study included thirty-five post-menopausal women who followed the diet for two years and lost significant weight. A researcher not involved in the study pointed out that those conducting the study veered from a true Paleo Diet to one that mimicked much of the Mediterranean Diet, an acceptable plan for healthy eating. A study of only thirty-five subjects concerned me.

What can we believe? In January 2016, the U. S. News & World Report listed scores of the most common diets based on a scale from 0 to 5. The Paleo diet had a 2.0 overall score. On weight loss, it scored 1.9. The score for healthy eating was 2.1, and the magazine ranked “ease to follow” at 1.7.

The magazine rated thirty-eight diets, divided into nine categories. How did the Paleo Diet fare? For Best Overall Diet, it ranked number thirty-six, tied for next to last place with the Dukan Diet, and came in last for Best Weight-loss Diet. Not only that, to follow this diet requires more home preparation, thus more kitchen time ― a sparse commodity for busy families. It also tends to cost more.

Supporters of this diet claim it leads to a healthier, fitter, disease-free life. In actuality, it fails to provide a number of needed nutrients. Exclusion of dairy makes it difficult to get recommended levels of calcium and vitamin D. Limited grains and pulses (legumes) restrict needed fiber in the diet.

Before we embark on any diet plan, it’s wise to learn the pros and cons. When tempted to follow popular diets whose claims sound too good to be true, think again. They probably are.

Do we bother to check labels on foods we eat? Those labels can help us make informed Comparison of Old and New FDA Nutrition Facts Label Formatchoices about what goes into our bodies. In May 2016, the U. S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced changes to update food labels, the first revision since 1993. Changes intend to make them more user-friendly. Except for smaller food industries, new labels will go into effect on July 26, 2018. What changes can we expect?

  • The updated design will showcase “calories” and “servings.” Manufacturers will print these two categories in bold and use larger font sizes.
  • Serving sizes will more readily reflect what people actually eat instead of what is healthier to eat. As an example, the previous ½ cup serving size for ice cream is changing to 2/3 cup.
  • A new addition to labels will identify “added sugars” to help consumers follow the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans which recommend no more than 10 percent of total daily calories come from added sugars.
  • Package contents that fall between one and two servings will be labeled as one serving since that is what most individuals will consume, i.e. 20 ounce soft drinks will be considered as one serving since most will drink the entire beverage.
  • Updated daily values (DV) of some nutrients (sodium, dietary fiber, vitamin D) will reflect recommendations of the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Institute of Medicine. DV refer to amounts of nutrients the body needs daily, and in many cases, the amount one should not exceed. Labels use %DV to represent the amount in food, and a footnote will help consumers better understand what that means.
  • Levels of Vitamin D and potassium will include actual gram amounts and the %DV. Calcium and iron will remain on labels with grams and %DV listed. Vitamins A and C, however, will no longer be required since these two vitamins are rarely deficient in the American diet. Nevertheless, food manufacturers may choose to list these two as well.
  • “Calories from Fat” will be deleted, but types of fat―“Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat”―will remain. Evidence suggests that the type of fat is more significant than the number of calories derived from fat sources in a given food.
  • Dietary supplements will also reflect the same label changes.

The new label design and revamping of information should make it easier to read and understand the contents of the foods we eat. It remains up to us to use this information to choose the types and amounts of foods to promote healthier lifestyles.

A designated “day” seems to exist for everything imaginable. June 10, 2016 is National Iced Tea Day.

The history of tea goes back some 5,000 years. Recipes for cold spiked punches, made mostly from green tea, surfaced in the late 1700s. Nearly 100 years later, recipes of the iced tea we love today appeared in cookbooks. While iced tea is great unsweetened, early versions were mostly sweetened and often served  with lemon.

Iced tea became a national favorite after Richard Blechynden, a tea merchant, decided on a hot day at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis to distribute free iced tea instead of his usual hot tea. This iced beverage immediately became a hit and has become one of the most popular drinks around the world. Some 85 percent of tea drinkers want theirs iced.

Celebrate this national day with a tall glass of refreshing and healthful iced tea.

I am a longtime hot tea fan. For decades, anytime has been tea time for me. While others order a different favorite brew, as I do occasionally, I prefer black tea. Now comes evidence of my reward for my beverage choice. As little as one cup per day may improve health.

Tea contains flavonoids which have antioxidant properties. Flavonoids come from a broad category of non-nutritive phytochemicals found only in plants. These substances help to maintain health in varied ways. Other familiar phytochemicals include carotenoids, isoflavones, phenolic acids, and many more. It is estimated that hundreds of phytochemicals are yet to be identified. Tea has one of the highest concentrations of flavonoids of any plant. The type and amount in tea varies depending on several factors.

While antioxidants are in a different category, some phytochemicals have antioxidant properties, meaning they can help prevent or delay damage to cells and tissues. Antioxidants are found in both plant and animal sources.

Green tea has more of the flavonoid called catechins. Black tea, which has been fermented or oxidized, contains more of the flavonoids theaflavins and thearubigins. Both are water-soluble and readily absorbed into the body. For maximum concentration of flavonoids, steep tea for at least one minute. The longer the brew time, the higher the concentration of flavonoids and increased health benefits.

How is tea effective in health promotion? Research shows several conditions affected by flavonoids and perhaps other unidentified phytochemicals.

  • Heart disease: Tea drinkers may be more than one-third less likely to have a heart attack. Calcium deposits are linked to heart disease and other cardiovascular events. Buildup of these deposits, associated with plaque development in coronary arteries, is less in those who drink tea.
  • Dementia: Older adults with high levels of calcium plaques in their arteries are more likely to develop dementia earlier than those without calcium buildup. As in heart disease, tea seems to decrease the accumulation.
  • Neurological conditions: Antioxidants in tea have possible neuroprotective agents and may prove to reduce risks for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Other diseases: Researchers have found favorable, but not conclusive, evidence of lower risks of skin disease, cancer, excessive weight, and other maladies in tea drinkers.

But is it the tea or something else? Although researchers have not found a direct relationship, tea drinkers tend to live healthier lifestyles. Whatever current and future findings, tea is a wholesome, inexpensive drink that contributes to a healthy diet.

Drink up!

Projected new cancer cases in 2016 will exceed 1.5 million. What can we do to avoid being oneWord cloud for Healthy Eating of those statistics? Excessive body weight is a definite link for increased risk of certain cancers. Two-thirds of U. S. adults are overweight or obese. According to the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR), one-third of all cancer cases hinge on three weight-related factors.

Eat Smart:    AICR recommends vegetables, fruits, and whole grains make up two-thirds of the meal. More than one-third of people surveyed by AICR claimed cost influenced their failure to eat healthy. The following include AICR suggestions to lower food costs plus my own thoughts.

  • Choose lower-cost fresh produce such as carrots, cabbage, sweet potatoes, bananas, apples, oranges and foods in season. Many of these foods, especially vegetables, keep for longer periods of time so stockpile them when grocery stores run specials.
  • Stock up on canned foods. Canned fruits and vegetables are convenient and economical. Grocery stores also run specials on many canned items. To save on costs, choose store brands that in most cases are as nutritious as name brands.
  • Keep frozen foods on hand if space permits. Frozen foods are quick and easy to prepare and retain nutrients found in fresh fruits and vegetables.

Move More:    Many claim a lack of time as their reason for failing to exercise. Easy ways to move more  include:

  • Take five-minute walking breaks. Sitting all day at work or at a desk is detrimental to health. Short breaks will improve physical well-being while giving your brain a break as well.
  • Include the family. Use TV commercial breaks for activity challenges for the entire family. Children often relate well to simple family games that involve movement.
  • Try new activities or resurrect old ones. Often sedentary past-times have replaced previously active ones. Find a family member or friend to join you in former active interests or join a class involving your favorite activity.

Maintain a Healthy Weight. Next to smoking, excessive weight is the single most important factor in lowering the risks of at least ten different kinds of cancers. In April 2016 the AICR released an updated report relating stomach cancer to extra body weight bringing that number to eleven. The report confirmed other food-related issues that also increased stomach cancer―consuming three or more alcoholic drinks per day and eating bacon, hot dogs and other processed meats.

More than half of the American population are unaware that weight is linked to their risk for cancer. Many find losing weight difficult and don’t know where to begin. The AICR “Cancer-Fighting Fridge” makes other recommendations in addition to those already stated.

  • Swap white processed grains for whole grains.
  • Make fruit and vegetables front and center
  • Replace sweetened drinks with water and unsweetened beverages
  • Keep easy-to-grab healthy snacks and meal options visible

May 8-14, 2016 is National Women’s Health Week. This is a great time to consider―not only for women but men as well― what you will do to lower your risk of cancer. Women can find additional age-related guidelines to help make more informed choices.

Knowing that too much weight leaves us more susceptible to unwanted cancer, why do we take losing weight so lightly (no pun intended)? Weight-loss is a challenge, but most of us can do it.

And one last suggestion from AICR worthy of note, support and encourage those making an effort to lose weight. Even small amounts of weight-loss benefit health. Don’t wait another day to begin the road to a healthier you and at the same time help others in their quest.

http://womenshealth.gov/nwhw/by-age/ (paste into browser if link fails to work)

The tsunami of obesity refuses to let up. Pills and potions may prove worthless or harmful.Appetite, Barbeque, Beef, Calories Cutting out favorite sweets and fatty foods taxes self-control, and special diets may work only for a brief time. What to do? How can we curb the continuing expansion of our waistlines?

We often overlook a major cause of obesity. It’s so easy, yet few practice what it takes. What is this magic bullet? Portion control! Yep, we put too much on our plates and lap up every morsel. My mother would say about my sister, “Her eyes are bigger than her stomach.” She thought she could eat more than she could. That doesn’t seem to be the case with most of us. We fill our plates, and even if we do begin to feel full, we keep eating. It takes our brains about 20 minutes to catch up with our stomach and sense a feeling of fullness.

How do we resolve this problem? Most of us fail to recognize what a serving is. We don’t eat servings, we eat portions. They are different. A serving is a specified amount of a given food from nutritional guidelines. Labeled products list serving amounts. If a product says it contains two servings and we eat the whole thing, then in actuality we have eaten two servings. Foods may vary slightly by products or categories, but a serving size is close to the following scale.

  • Fresh fruit—–1 small to medium whole piece
  • Cooked fruit——½ cup
  • Raw vegetables—–1 cup
  • Cooked vegetables—–½ cup
  • Meat/poultry/fish—–a piece about the size of a deck of cards
  • Cereals—–about ½ to 1 cup (see the box for exact amounts)
  • Breads—–1 slice, buns and similar breads are 2 servings
  • Milk—–1 cup (preferably skim)
  • Nuts—–1 ounce (12 almonds/7 walnut halves)

To keep that scale from climbing, take a look at how much you eat. If you are a hearty eater and tend to pile your plate high, keep serving sizes in mind and consciously eat less. Measure exact amounts of foods eaten at home until you can visualize how much of a certain food is a serving. Below are other tips to help that scale go down.

  • When you eat out, consider sharing your meal with another person in your group. Or ask for a take-out box and remove half the food before you begin eating.
  • If you choose high-calorie foods such as pizza or sweetened beverages, order the smallest size.
  • When you begin to feel full, stop eating.
  • Resign from the “clean-plate-club.”
  • Discipline yourself not to return for seconds.

A portion size is how much we choose to eat at one time. It may be a half serving, but often it is one and one-half or more servings. Many other factors relate to losing weight such as changing sugary beverages to no-calorie drinks or choosing low-fat dairy products. But serving size is often a culprit that slips up on us. Conquer this bully and watch weight slowly dwindle. What have you got to lose except weight?

Suggested References:

http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-1/a-closer-look-inside-healthy-eating-patterns/#table-1-1

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Caregiver/Replenish/WhatisaServing/What-is-a-Serving_UCM_301838_Article.jsp#.VvBH_jHmqUk

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyKids/HowtoMakeaHealthyHome/Portion-Size-Versus-Serving-Size_UCM_304051_Article.jsp#.VvBI7zHmqUk

 

Healthy Heart Month

Now that we’ve enjoyed too much chocolate candy for Valentine’s, wStethoscope Heart Clip Art hat next? February shares the heart of romance with another important event―the human heart. This is American Heart Month. One in four will die from heart disease. It remains the number one cause of death for both men and women with African-Americans the most susceptible. Many of these fatalities can be avoided by choosing a healthier lifestyle, including what we eat.

Small changes in diet make a difference by keeping the circulatory system healthier. These major changes may help keep you alive and well.

  • Decrease saturated fats and trans fats: Fats in whole milk, butter, sour cream, and similar products plus skin of chicken or turkey increase risks for blood clots. For better health, switch to unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These are abundant in salmon, mackerel, trout, walnuts, soybean products, corn oil, sunflower oil and some seeds. Unsaturated oils can help off-set heart problems by lowering coronary heart disease and stroke.
  • Decrease salt intake: The Institute of Medicine recommends no more than 2400 milligrams of sodium each day. Table salt is about 40 percent sodium. Excess intake can increase fluid retention and is a major factor in hypertension (high blood pressure). Foods exceptionally high in salt/sodium include processed foods, luncheon meats, canned and instant soups, pickled products, salted nuts and snacks, and most fast foods. Common words to look for on labels include sodium bicarbonate, sodium caseinate, sodium citrate, sodium saccharin, sodium phosphate, sodium glutamate (MSG) and others.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity increases risks for heart disease. Reducing weight a few pounds can make a big difference.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables: These foods have limited or no sodium or fat.

In addition to healthy foods, remember other lifestyle practices can make a difference. Aim toward at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least three times per week. Nix all tobacco products. Take care of your heart. It’s the only one you have.

 

 

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