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August 22, 2014

Could Pistachios Help Diabetics With Their Heart Health?

Filed under: Diet & Weight loss — Emma @ 10:04 am
Emma
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

People with type-2 diabetes are at higher risk for heart problems than people who don’t have diabetes. A recent study suggests diabetics may be able to lower their blood pressure during stressful situations and improve heart health by eating two servings of pistachios daily.

Participants in the study included 30 adults between the ages of 40 and 70 who had well-managed type-2 diabetes. For the first two weeks of the study, the participants consumed the typical American diet containing 36% fat and 12% saturated fats.

They were then randomly assigned to one of two test diets. The first was a standard heart-healthy diet consisting of 27% fat and 7% saturated fats. The second was a moderate-fat diet with 33% fat and 7% saturated fats and two servings of pistachios per day of approximately 3 ounces.

Following a two week washout period, participants switched test diets.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted that, while laboratory blood pressure was unchanged, real-world measures of blood pressure were significantly lower after the pistachio diet, especially during sleep. They also noted that vascular constriction during stress (in this case, immersing the hand in icy water for two minutes and a difficult math test) was lower after the pistachio diet.

Improvements in heart rate variability were also recorded. Heart rate variability measures how well the nervous system controls heart function.

Researchers from Penn State University conducted the study. It was published in the June 2014 issue of the Journal of American Hypertension.

Pistachios have high levels of protein and antioxidants and have been shown to reduce the risk of macular degeneration (age related vision loss), strengthen the immune system and protect against heart attacks. To maximize the benefits of pistachios and nuts in general, it is important to avoid salted, oil-roasted nuts.



July 17, 2014

Extreme Obesity Drastically Cuts Lifespan

Filed under: Diet & Weight loss — Sarah @ 9:22 pm
Sarah
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Once a relatively rare condition, class III (or extreme) obesity is on the rise in the United States and worldwide. A recent study suggests that being extremely obese could cut a person’s life expectancy by as much as 13.7 years.

Data for this analysis included 20 studies that had 313,575 total participants. Of those participants, 9,564 were classified as extremely obese while the other 304,011 were considered normal weight.

The researchers used body mass index (BMI) to determine obesity. The scale for BMI is:

Normal weight: 18.5-24.9

Overweight: 25.0-29.9

Class I obesity: 30.0-34.9

Class II obesity: 35.9-39.9

Class III obesity: 40.0 or higher

After examining the data, the researchers found that overall risk of dying from the majority of major health issues rose with increasing BMI in the class III group. For people in the BMI range of 40-44.9, there was a 6.5 year loss in life. For those in the 55-59.9 range, there was a 13.7 year loss of life.

To emphasize the seriousness of those numbers, the researchers pointed out that the loss of life is equivalent to or higher than the difference between current smokers and people who have never smoked in the normal weight cohort of the study.

Researchers from the National Cancer Institute conducted the study. It was published on July 8, 2014, in PLoS Medicine.

Obesity has a far ranging negative effect on health. Each year, obesity causes approximately 300,000 premature deaths in the United States. The negative health effects associated with obesity include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, metabolic syndrome and sleep apnea.

Improving eating habits and increasing physical activity play a vital role in preventing obesity. It is recommended that we eat five to six servings of fruits and vegetables per day. It also recommended that we get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity every day.



June 26, 2014

Prebiotics May Positively Alter Gut Bacteria of Obese People

Filed under: Diet & Weight loss — Emma @ 2:26 pm
Emma
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Previous studies have found that the gut microflora of obese people differs from that of individuals who are not obese. Now, a recent study suggests that taking inulin-type fructans prebiotics may increase levels of a beneficial bacteria in the guts of obese people and possibly reduce metabolic risk factors.

Participants in the study included 30 obese women who took either 16 grams per day of the proebiotic or a malodextrin placebo every day for three months.

At the conclusion of the study, the prebiotic group had notable increases of beneficial bacteria as well as a reduction in shorty chain fatty acid levels, which are correlated with BMI. They also had a reduction in insulin levels and the homeostasis model assessment, two markers of metabolic syndrome.

Researchers from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on June 11, 2014, in Clinical Nutrition.

Prebiotics serve as food for probiotics. While probiotics are most commonly linked to improving digestion and gut health, they have also been shown to have other health benefits, including a stronger immune system, and a reduced risk of chronic disease.

Probiotics can be found naturally in many foods, such as yogurt, milk and sauerkraut. You may also consider taking a high quality supplement but make sure it is packaged to block light, air and moisture, which can easily kill probiotics.



June 18, 2014

High-Fat Yogurt May Be Better Than Low-Fat Yogurt for Weight Loss

Filed under: Diet & Weight loss — Sarah @ 5:32 pm
Sarah
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Low-fat yogurt is a great source of protein and is often included in weight loss diets. A recent study suggests, however, that full-fat yogurt may be a better option than low-fat yogurt for people trying to lose weight.

Participants in the study included 8,516 men and women of normal weight. The researchers followed their eating habits for two years and found that eating 125 grams of full-fat yogurt once daily was associated with a 19% lower risk of being obese.

Additionally, the researchers found that eating people who ate full-fat yogurt and followed the Mediterranean diet were the least likely to be obese. The Mediterranean diet contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains but low levels of meats and saturated fats.

The participants who didn’t eat yogurt or follow a Mediterranean diet were 36% more likely to be obese than those who did.

The researchers weren’t entirely sure why the full-fat yogurt was associated with a lower risk of obesity and low-fat yogurt wasn’t, but they hypothesized that it had to do with the amount of sugar that is sometimes added to low-fat yogurt. They also suggested that high-fat yogurt may contain more beneficial bacteria.

Researchers from the University of Navarra in Spain conducted the study. It was presented at the Congress on Obesity, which took place from May 28-31, 2014 in Bulgaria.

Previous studies have shown yogurt to improve bone health, provide good bacteria for gut health, and it may even be associated with weight loss. Previous research has shown that the Mediterranean diet may improve heart health, lower the risk of diabetes, asthma, lower rates of obesity and even decrease the overall risk of mortality.



June 12, 2014

Prunes May Help With Weight Loss Without Negative Side Effects

Filed under: Diet & Weight loss — Sarah @ 5:14 pm
Sarah
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Consumption of dried fruit is usually discouraged when someone is trying to lose weight because it tends to have high sugar content. But a recent study suggests that incorporating prunes into a weight management diet may help with weight loss.

Participants in the study included 100 overweight and obese low-fiber adults with a mean age of 43 and a mean body mass index of 30 kg/m2. Over the course of 12 weeks, half of the group was given prunes (140 g/day for women and 171 g/day for men) while the other have was given advice on healthy snacks.

At the conclusion of the study, the prune group had a mean weight loss of 4.4 lbs and a reduction in waist circumference of 2.5 cm. The control group had a weight loss of 3.3 lbs and 1.7 cm from their waistlines.

Additionally, the prune group showed greater weight loss in the last four weeks compared to the control group. They also had greater feelings of fullness after week eight and reported no negative side effects from consuming the prunes, despite the high doses.

Researchers from the University of Liverpool conducted the study. It was presented at the European Congress on Obesity, which was held in Bulgaria from May 28-31, 2014.

Prunes contain high amounts of fiber, vitamin A, B vitamins, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and some protein. They have been linked to relief from constipation, improved blood circulation and slowing the aging of the brain and body.

Prunes can be eaten on their own, added to baked goods and salads, or consumed in juice form.



June 6, 2014

Eating Carbs Only at Night May Aid in Belly Fat Loss

Filed under: Diet & Weight loss — Sarah @ 2:24 pm
Sarah
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

Abdominal obesity is a known risk factor for diabetes and coronary heart disease. A recent study suggests that consuming a low-calorie diet with the majority of the carbohydrates consumed at the end of the day may change the pattern of satiety and hunger hormones, and potentially result in the loss of abdominal fat.

Participants in the study included 78 Tel Aviv police officers between the ages of 25 and 55, with an average BMI of 30. People with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and those who had followed a diet in the previous year or had been pregnant were excluded from the study. 63 of the original participants completed the study.

The researchers recorded height, weight, abdominal circumference, and body fat percentage for all of the participants. They were then assigned to either a low-calorie diet consisting of 20% protein, 30-35% fat, 45-50% carbohydrates for a total of 1300-1500 calories with carbohydrates only at dinner or the same low-calorie diet with carbohydrates consumed throughout the day.

Fasting blood samples were taken at eight in the morning and then at four-hour intervals throughout the day. On the first day of the study, the participants also filled out hunger/satiety questionnaires every four hours. This process was repeated at the one week, three month, and six month marks.

At the conclusion of the study, both groups had significant losses in weight, reductions in abdominal circumference, BMI, and percentage body fat, although the experimental group had significantly higher reductions. Additionally, after 180 days, the experimental diet group had hunger-satiety scores that were 13.7% higher than they had been at baseline, while the control group reported 5.9% lower score.

The researchers also noted changes in the daily patterns of leptin (the hormone related to satiety), ghrelin (the hormone related to hunger), and adiponectin (the hormonal link between abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome), which they believed contributed to enhanced daytime satiety.

Researchers from a group of The Hebrew Institution of Israel conducted the study. It was published in the 2014 issue of the Nutrition in the Prevention and Treatment of Abdominal Obesity journal.

Abdominal fat is the hardest to lose because it is packed around your organs. Previous studies suggest that probiotics, calcium and vitamin D, and extract from lychee fruit may help people looking to lower their percentage of abdominal or visceral fat.



May 20, 2014

Obese Teens at Risk of Nutritional Deficiencies

Filed under: Diet & Weight loss — Emma @ 3:34 pm
Emma
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

A recent study suggests that both obese teenagers who have undergone gastric bypass surgery and those who have not are at risk for nutrient and vitamin deficiencies.

Participants in the study included 79 obese teens who either underwent weight loss surgery or were evaluated for it but did not ultimately get the surgery between 2001 and 2007. The researchers contacted them between 2011 and 2014 to participate in the study.

An average 8 years after surgery, approximately 28% of the participants had lost and kept off a significant amount of weight. Those who did not get the surgery had not lost weight. Regardless of weight loss, both the surgery and non-surgery teens were found to be at risk for nutritional deficiencies – especially iron and vitamin D.

Researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital conducted the study. It was published in the January 2014 issue of JAMA Pediatrics.

Obesity has a far ranging negative effect on health. Each year, obesity causes approximately 300,000 premature deaths in the United States. The negative health effects associated with obesity include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, metabolic syndrome and sleep apnea.

Improving eating habits and increasing physical activity play a vital role in preventing obesity. It is recommended that we eat five to six servings of fruits and vegetables per day. It also recommended that we get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity every day.



May 15, 2014

Pistachios May Help Heart and Not Harm Waistline

Filed under: Diet & Weight loss — Emma @ 2:55 pm
Emma
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Weight-conscious people tend to eats nuts sparingly because they are a high-fat food. A recent study suggests, however, that a diet where up to one fifth of the calories are in the form of pistachios not only will not lead to weight gain, it may help improve blood lipid profiles.

Participants in the study included 48 healthy young women with a mean age of 21. They were instructed to eat up to one-fifth of their daily caloric intake in the form of pistachios for 10 weeks. This was followed by a 15-week washout period and then 10 more weeks without eating any pistachios.

At the conclusion of the study, the women had no changes in their weight, waist circumference, or body mass index. They did however have a slight decrease in LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure after the pistachio period when compared with the habitual period.

These results seem to indicate that pistachios can be incorporated into a daily diet without necessarily causing weight gain. They also indicate that pistachios may provide heart health benefits.

Researchers from California State Polytechnic University conducted the study. It was published in the April 2014 issue of The FASEB Journal.

This study is not the first to suggest that pistachios may be a heart-healthy snack. Further studies will serve to verify these findings and dig deeper behind the benefits of pistachios.

Previous research has identified a number of other health benefits linked to pistachios. Some of these include high levels of protein and fiber, reduced risk of macular degeneration, and high antioxidant levels. To maximize these benefits, avoid salted, oil-roasted nuts.



April 29, 2014

Whey Protein Shown to Help Lose Weight And Build Muscle Mass

Filed under: Diet & Weight loss — Sarah @ 4:21 pm
Sarah
Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor

People looking to change their body composition by losing weight and adding muscle mass may want to consider adding whey protein to their diet. According to a recent study, consuming calories in the form of whey protein rather than other calorie sources may convey more benefits in body composition.

For this study, the researchers examined the results of 14 trials that included 626 participants in total.

After examining the data, they found that replacing calories from other sources with whey protein was associated with higher losses in body weight of 9.2 lbs. on average and an average 8.1 lb. loss in body fat. When participants consumed whey protein and participated in a resistance exercise routine, there was also an average increase in lean body mass of 4.9 lbs.

Researchers from Exponent, Inc., led the study. It was published online ahead of print on April 14, 2014, in Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Whey protein is one of the two proteins found in milk, but it is only about 1% of the composition of milk. It is obtained as a byproduct of cheese making and can be purchased in powder forms from health food stores. Additionally, it can be found in ricotta cheese, which is one of the only cheeses that do not have the whey removed and also in yogurt.



April 18, 2014

Morning Light Linked to Lower BMI

Filed under: Diet & Weight loss — Emma @ 4:13 pm
Emma
Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor

Previous studies have shown that exposure to light can influence sleep and circadian timing, two things that influence weight regulation. Now, a new study has found that exposure to early morning light helps regulate the circadian rhythm and is associated with lower BMI.

Participants in the study included 54 people with an average age of 30. They wore wrist actigraphy monitors that recorded and measured their light exposure and sleep patterns for seven days. They also recorded their caloric intake in food logs.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that morning light was associated with a 20% and 34.7% change in a person’s BMI. This held regardless of physical activity, caloric intake, sleep timing, age, or season.

The researchers theorize that this effect can be traced back to the circadian rhythm, also referred to as the body’s internal clock. Our bodies are programmed to expect light in the mornings and can get out of sync if not exposed to enough light in the morning. This can have alter metabolism and lead to weight gain.

The researchers emphasized that even people who rise early may not be getting enough light, as most Americans live in spaces that do not have a lot of natural light.

Researchers from Northwestern Medicine conducted the study. It was published on April 2, 2014, in the journal PLoS One.

This is the first study of its kind to examine the correlation between light exposure and BMI. However, people looking to lower their BMI should also consider eating probiotic cheese, dark chocolate, and foods that are high in calcium, as all of those have been linked with lower BMI.



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