Thursday, September 18, 2014

Can Small Weight Gain Impact Blood Pressure?

Recent research has shown that even small weight gains, between 5-11 pounds of abdominal weight, has shown to increase an individual’s blood pressure. The fat inside the abdomen, also called abdominal visceral fat has been specifically linked to an increase in blood pressure. The research did not find a significant elevation of cholesterol, insulin or blood sugar levels among the participants. Many adults find that their weight fluctuates, especially around holiday seasons. Even though 5 pounds can be a modest weight increase, changes still occur in your body, including the increase in work of your blood vessels to carry oxygen to your body, causing an increase in blood pressure.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

FDA Approves 3rd Weight Loss Drug

Over the last two years the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two weight loss drugs and now has approved a third one. The new drug, called Contrave, follows the approval of Belviq and Qsymia. All three of these drugs work by decreasing appetite, but not without side effects. Contrave is approved for people who are overweight and obese and is made of a combination of two drugs. These drugs have previously been used to help people stop smoking and treat drug and alcohol dependence.  

Weight loss from taking a pill sounds good in theory, but is it really worth it? Contrave will come with a warning that it might increase suicidal thoughts. It has also been shown to increase heart rate and blood pressure both of which can be detrimental to your body over long periods of time. In trials, participants who took Contrave lost 2% - 4.1% more body weight than those participants taking the placebo. This is a minimal difference. Finally, weight loss pills are expensive, $200 or more per month, and insurance does not typically cover the cost.

Weight loss is a difficult process and can often be frustrating. Hard work, eating right, and exercising are the keys to successful weight loss. A registered dietitian is a great resource to help with weight loss. Find one in your area at

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Did you know September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month?

The CDC reports that “about 1 of every 5 (17%) children in the United States has obesity and certain groups of children are more affected than others.” Childhood obesity is a major public health concern. Children who are obese are more likely to have obesity as adults, have increased risks of certain cancers and diseases and face lifelong physical and health problems.
As a community we can help fight this public health problem. Here are some tips to encourage healthier lifestyles among our youth!
  • ·          Live a healthy lifestyle! By demonstrating healthy habits to children they will look up to your values and imitate them.
  • ·         Support the federal government in helping low-income families get affordable, nutritious foods through programs.
  • ·         Schools can help students be healthy by putting into action policies and practices that support healthy eating, regular physical activity, and by providing opportunities for students to learn about and practice these behaviors.

With the help of states, communities, schools and parents, we can work to shape a healthier generation for tomorrow.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Be Mindful of Vitamin and Mineral Recommendations

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) is released to provide nutrition recommendations and information for health professionals and the public. These are revised every five years and are currently being discussed as the 2015 guidelines are being written.

Committees for the DGA have stated that Americans do not meet the recommended levels for vitamins A, D, E, C, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, fiber, and that most women do not meet iron needs. In turn, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CNR) is suggesting that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans should include taking multivitamins/minerals in order to fill nutrient gaps because these needs are not being met through food. The CNR is composed of individuals from vitamin/mineral supplement companies, so these recommendations are being suggested to increase the public’s intake.

Ultimately, these suggestions cannot be universal. Each individual’s needs are unique, and a multivitamin/mineral supplement may not be appropriate for everyone. Seek first advice from a Registered Dietitian or your primary care Physician who will be able to make personal recommendations for your vitamin/mineral needs. A well balanced diet should be consumed in order to reach your daily needs of vitamins and minerals. Taking a vitamin/mineral supplement does not necessarily mean that your body can utilize all that it contains. Ingesting toxic levels of certain vitamins and minerals can be detrimental to your health as well. Just remember, more is not always better when it comes to vitamins and minerals.   

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What you Watch May Affect What you Eat

Do you enjoy watching action packed movies? A new study from Cornell University shows that with increased action in movies there is an increase in snacking by the viewer. Three different groups of student participants were observed while watching 20 minutes of TV. The first group watched an action packed movie, the second group watched a talk show, and the third group of participants watched the same action movie as group one, but without sound. The participants were provided with snacks and investigators kept track of how much each group consumed during the 20 minute period. It was found that participants in group one, who watched the action movie, consumed 98% more than those watching the talk show. Those watching the same movie but without sound ate 36% more than those watching the talk show. Researchers suggest that it is the fast paced camera cuts that make you concentrate more on what you are watching and less on what you are consuming. To avoid over consumption during a movie, portion out snacks before sitting down to watch the show. It will also benefit to choose healthy snacks such as vegetables, or fruits.  

Thursday, September 4, 2014

How to Keep your Food Safe and Save Money

September is National Food Safety Education Month and the ConAgra Home Food Safety Program, as well as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, want to keep you safe. Most of the food waste stems from improper storage and misreading labels. Here are some ways that you can keep your food safe & cut grocery costs:

Proper Storage- Keep a refrigerator thermometer in your refrigerator to ensure that your perishable foods are being stored at or below 40°F in the refrigerator and at or below 0°F in the freezer. Produce should also be stored correctly in order to maintain and lengthen the duration of freshness. Some fruits and vegetables should be stored in the fridge, and some at room temperature.

Check out the Produce Storage infographic to learn more.

Reading Labels- Be sure to read the dates on the label to reduce your food waste. Did you know that 90% of Americans may be throwing out their food too early because they misread the food label? Check out the descriptions below to learn what the key terms on labels mean:

  • The "sell by" date tells the store the last day they should sell that specific package. Buy the product before the 'sell by' date passes and cook or freeze the product before it expires.
  • The "best if used by" date is the recommended date for best flavor or quality.
  • The "use by" date is the last date recommended for use of the product at peak quality.
You can’t always tell if a food has spoiled just because its appearance, smell or taste seems okay. The “use by” date should be followed closely. If you notice that a “use by” date is approaching, feel free to store this food in the freezer for future use.

For more information, check out the Is My Food Safe? app for a list of the shelf life of common foods.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Healthy "Skin Glow" from Fruit and Vegetable Intake

In many places tanned, or high-melanin, skin is considered attractive. Recently a study was conducted in the UK that suggests diets high in carotenoids produce a “healthy glow” that is also considered attractive. In the study researchers did three different comparisons with subjects. In the first, they created 27 digital images of faces. Two versions of each face were created. One with high-melanin skin and one with low-melanin skin. Participants were asked to rate which face color was “more attractive”. 78.5% of participants said the high-melanin skin faces were “more attractive”. A second group of participants were asked to compare high-carotenoid skin with low-carotenoid skin faces. 86% of participants found the high-carotenoid skin “more attractive”. Finally, high-melanin skin faces were compared to high-carotenoid faces and it was found 75.9% of participants found high-carotenoid skin faces “more attractive”. Not everyone finds the same traits attractive but this study does suggest that high-carotenoid skin is seen as attractive. Foods with orange or yellow color are contain carotenoids such as, sweet potatoes, carrots, apricots, oranges, mangoes, etc. This study does not suggest levels of carotenoids that should be consumed in the diet and rather focuses on the attractiveness of skin pigmentation. While more research needs to be done on this subject before recommendations are made by health professionals, it does support that consuming a healthy diet affects the whole body.