Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cucumbers: More Than Just a Spa Treament

Cucumbers are part of the botanical family, Cucurbitaceae,  which also includes cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelons. Cucumbers have often been thought of as having a low nutrient profile. While cucumber is typically enjoyed because of its mild taste and as a great addition to a salad, there are a few other health benefits that often get overlooked.

Cucumbers are made of 95% water, providing many important electrolytes and hydration when consumed. Another health benefit is the improvement of bone health. Low vitamin K intake has been associated with increased risk of bone fracture. By increasing vitamin K intake, risk of bone fracture decreases because vitamin K improves calcium absorption. In 1 cup of cucumbers with the skin on, 11% of daily vitamin K needs are met. Finally, cucumbers, along with other plant foods, have been shown to decrease the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

To incorporate more cucumbers into your diet try adding some to a Greek style salad with tomatoes and feta cheese.  Cucumber is also great dipped in hummus or added to water. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Turn Down the Thermostat to Improve Metabolism & Insulin Sensitivity

Recent research found that participants who slept in a 66 degree room over a one month time period doubled their brown fat adipose tissue (BAT) stores. What is brown fat? Brown fat actually converts the energy you eat into a heat source, which helps control your body temperature. Brown fat can help maintain your weight because it burns calories and maintains your body temperature. Studies have also shown that brown fat helps insulin work well in your body which can lower your risk of diabetes. Lower bedroom temperatures can also help you to have a deeper night sleep. 

To read more about this topic, or to sign up for the Cleveland Clinic Daily Wellness Tip, check out the link below. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Exposure to Gestational Diabetes and Development of Type II Diabetes or Impaired Glucose Tolerance

A recent study has shown that offspring who were exposed to gestational diabetes while in utero have a significantly higher chance of developing type II diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance. Participants were recruited from the Yale Pathophysiology of Type 2 diabetes in Youth Study. The new study found that 82.3% of their participants were not exposed to gestational diabetes while 17.7% were. At baseline all of the participants were considered to have normal glucose tolerance. At follow-up, 8.6% of the group that was not exposed to gestational diabetes developed either type II diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance. Compare this to 31.1% of the group who was exposed to gestational diabetes that developed either type II diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance. This study shows evidence that along with obesity, being exposed to gestational diabetes significantly increases the risk of developing health risks related to high glucose levels.

To read the full study please visit: http://www.diabetologia-journal.org/files/Holder.pdf

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 http://www.eatright.org/programs/rdnfinder/

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.