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Our nation’s top killer? The iconic American diet

Terrorism, gun violence, and police brutality take up well-deserved space in the presidential debate, but America’s leading cause of death—our food choices—are nowhere to be found in talks leading up to the Nov. 8 election.

Dietary risk factors remain the leading cause of death in our country, but neither candidate has talked about food policy. We know about their personal food preferences, but where do the candidates stand on reforming legislation, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)?

We hear about funding and restrictions, but we don’t hear about transforming the system. What foods are in? Which food-like substances are out? What position will the candidates take? Nobody knows.

Why should we care?

SNAP is a hot-ticket $74 billion item and can transform our nation’s health care system. It feeds 45 million people and accounts for 80 percent of the Farm Bill, slated for review in 2019.

Here’s why we should bring it into the debate:

States are asking for change.

Nearly half of the country’s state leaders want to modify the SNAP program. At least 22 states have introduced local legislation or petitioned the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to modify the program. Requests include prohibiting junk food purchases in Maine, banning soda and candy buys in New York, and allowing benefits to apply only to nutritious options in Tennessee.

The bills stalled. The delegates’ voices remain unheard.

Here’s why: With a good portion of $1 trillion at stake, lobbyists, like the meat, dairy, and sugar industries, have a lot to lose if federal funding for SNAP resembles the supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infant, and Children (WIC), which receives less than $7 billion each year, and aligns with scientific policy.

WIC delivers results and is cost effective: Participants increase their nutrient profiles without extra calories and improve iron-deficient anemia, without red meat in the program.

While WIC serves a smaller population, it provides us with data to create a pilot study to assess how we can strengthen our nation’s largest food assistance program.

More than 70 health organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Heart Association, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and chairs from leading universities, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Johns Hopkins agree: They sent a letter to the USDA in 2013 requesting support for SNAP pilot programs.

Similar to the policymakers’ requests, these medical researchers are still waiting to hear back.

Food banks are asking for change.

Outside of SNAP and WIC, community organizations, like churches, food banks, and soup kitchens, steadily provide nourishment to communities in need, but they are starting to change their policies.

Historically, anti-hunger groups have been part of the problem since they are not selective about which foods they distribute. This keeps nutrient-poor, calorie-rich foods in demand since local grocers donate unused varieties. This year we’re seeing change. The Capital Area Food Bank takes sheet cakes and less-than-healthful options back to grocery stores and requests donations for the healthy basics.

Ross Fraser, a spokesman for Feeding America, notes: “If people are going to rely on a significant amount of food coming from us, we had better be sure we are not contributing to illness.”

If food banks, staunch opponents of SNAP restrictions, are starting to see the unethical link between feeding people in need with foods that cause their blood sugar to spike, why isn’t our federal government?

Leading scientific experts are asking for change.

To align our country, let’s start by aligning our nutrition policies. Diabetes will soon affect one in three children and remains the sixth leading cause of workplace disability.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends following plant-based dietary patterns to reach optimal health and reduce the risk for chronic disease. Several farmer’s markets and online marketplaces, like Thrive, have altered their system to encourage people of all income levels to gain access to whole, plant-based foods.

SNAP should follow suit and eliminate funding for “junk food” turned away from food banks and WIC, and purge carcinogenic varieties, like processed meats, which comes with a warning label from the World Health Organization.

Hippocrates first introduced the concept of “Let food be they medicine,” and “Let medicine be thy food,” but after countless centuries, we’re waiting to integrate this into our agricultural and health policies.

Let’s bring the Farm Bill into the presidential debate. What message are we sending to our country if we leave it off the table? Will the health of our nation or industry interests prevail during the next term? Will leading voices remain ignored?

As voters, we deserve to know.

Agustina Saenz, M.D., M.P.H., is the director of nutrition education and policy for the nonprofit Physicians Committee.

The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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Diet fad sweeping social media could be dangerous

DENVER — Registered dietitians say more and more people are asking them about drinking apple cider vinegar for health purposes.

Drinking vinegar has ancient roots, but it’s taking on new life thanks to its popularity on social media.

Dietitians say there are three things you should remember if you are trying to lose weight or improve health with apple cider vinegar.

1.       People swear by apple cider vinegar claiming it helps you lose weight, detox your liver, helps with diabetes prevention, digestive help, and even gives you higher energy levels. But there is no evidence based research to backup such claims. Some studies do support improved health without medical evidence.

2.       Drinking too much apple cider vinegar can cause heart arrhythmia, dangerously low potassium levels, and throat irritation. It can also react negatively to certain medication.

3.       Taking small doses of apple cider vinegar will not hurt you. If you chose to use it dietitians recommend one tablespoon into a large glass of water once a day.

When it comes to diet and health detains say there is no magic elixir or replacement for a balanced diet and exercise.  

Learn how to make the apple cider vinegar drink below.

Follow Adam Hammond on Facebook here. 



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Diet Doc Explains Why Fasting Diets Should Be Monitored by Medical Professionals

JACKSON, MS–(Marketwired – August 25, 2016) – The Fast Diet, also referred to as the 5:2 diet, works by intermittent fasting or very low-calorie dieting two days per week, while eating normally during the remaining five days. Creator of the Fast Diet, Dr. Michael Mosley, believes that when individuals intermittently fast, it tricks the body into thinking it may be experiencing a famine. The body then begins to switch to survival mode by burning long-stored fat for energy. Two days per week, one is to cut their caloric intake down to about 25 percent, with men able to consume just 600 calories, and 500 calories for women. The creators of the diet suggest that participants go as long as possible without eating during fasting days. However, during the remaining five days, there are no limitations on calories or restrictions on certain types of food.

Intermittent fasting has in fact been shown to have positive effects on weight loss as well as on metabolic syndrome. However, Diet Doc, a nationally recognized medical weight loss program, has researched the genetic processes involved with metabolism and have found that they are very adaptable and can change rapidly. Due to this reason, sudden calorie restriction causes genes to change their expression to “starvation mode” causing the body to become incredibly sparing about how it burns calories. The body attempts to instead conserve calories by storing everything as fat. This is why successfully losing weight by restricting caloric intake can be challenging. Starvation or crash dieting can be dangerous as these types of fasting diets can cause a loss in muscle mass, significant mood changes and declines in hormone levels. Those interested in fasting for weight loss purposes should always be closely monitored by doctors and coaches who are trained in the science of weight loss.

Diet Doc offers individualized diet plans that take into account all medical conditions and health considerations in order to stimulate fast, yet safe weight loss. For those looking to drastically reduce their caloric intake, our team of experts can ensure that individuals are doing so while also maintaining a proper nutritional balance in order to keep weight off for good. Diet Doc’s weight loss supplements, which also help to combat incessant hunger pangs and curb emotional eating may also be conveniently delivered straight to one’s home or office.

New Diet Doc patients can call or easily and effortlessly visit https://www.dietdoc.com to complete an initial comprehensive, yet simple, health questionnaire and schedule an immediate personal, no-cost consultation. Diet Doc Physicians all received specialized training in nutritional science and fast weight loss. Diet Doc reviews each patient’s health history to create a personalized diet plan geared for fast weight loss, or that addresses life-long issues causing weight loss to slow down or stop. Nutritionists work personally with each patient and use their own algorithm to craft meal and snack plans that are compatible with each patient’s age, gender, activity level, food preferences, nutritional needs and medical conditions. They combine these state of the art diet plans with pure, prescription diet products that enable their patients to resist the temptation to reach for sugary snacks, eliminate fatigue and curb the appetite. Over 97% of Diet Doc patients report incredible weight loss results with the majority losing 20 or more pounds per month.

At Diet Doc, all patients gain unlimited access to the best minds in the business. Their staff of doctors, nurses, nutritionists and coaches are available 6 days per week to answer questions, offer suggestions, address concerns and lend their professional guidance and support. Because of this, more and more people are turning to Diet Doc for their weight management needs. Diet plans are tailored to be specific to the needs of those of any age, gender, shape or size and for those who are struggling to lose that final 10-20 pounds to those who must lose 100 pounds or more. Call today to request a private, confidential, no-cost online consultation.

About the Company:

Diet Doc Weight Loss is the nation’s leader in medical, weight loss offering a full line of prescription medication, doctor, nurse and nutritional coaching support. For over a decade, Diet Doc has produced a sophisticated, doctor designed weight loss program that addresses each individual specific health need to promote fast, safe and long term weight loss.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DietDocMedical

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DietDocMedicalWeightLoss/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/diet-doc-weight-loss?trk=biz-brand-tree-co-logo

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What not to say to help your teen lose weight

If you want your teen to lose weight, the American Academy
of Pediatrics has some advice: Don’t tell them that.

Doing so may raise their risk of developing unhealthy habits or even an eating disorder, the
AAP states in new recommendations published online this week.

“The focus should be on a healthy lifestyle rather than on
weight,” the report, which will appear in the September issue of the journal Pediatrics,

About 35 percent of 12- to 19-year-olds in the U.S. are classified as
overweight or obese, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, eating disorders are also a big problem. In fact,
they are the third most common chronic condition in adolescents after obesity
and asthma, the AAP points out. And overweight teens can be more at risk than parents might think.

Young people who lose large amounts of weight through unhealthy eating behaviors such as extreme low-calorie fad diets, purging after meals, or abuse of laxatives, can end up facing an array of health problems. Dangerous consequences can include hypothermia (lower-than-normal body temperature),
bradycardia (an abnormally slow heart rate), hypotension (abnormally low blood pressure), acute
pancreatitis, and gallstones.

In the new recommendations, the AAP says that commenting on
weight – their appearance or the number on a scale – when talking to teens can be harmful and may even lead to these very behaviors.

“Understanding that poor body image can lead to an ED [eating disorder],
parents should avoid comments about body weight and discourage dieting efforts
that may inadvertently result in EDs and body dissatisfaction,” the AAP says.

To combat this, pediatricians – and parents – should focus on instilling healthy habits in teens.

Kristi King, a senior dietitian at Texas Children’s Hospital
and spokesperson for the American Academy of Dietetics, said that the AAP
guidelines are very much in line with what she sees play out in pediatricians’ offices on a daily basis.

“I frequently find in practice that when families and/or a
pediatrician is very weight-focused, the child or teen tends to become very
fixated on reaching a certain weight point,” she told CBS News. “Most of the
time, it is a weight point that they think sounds ‘good’ and isn’t necessarily
what may actually be healthy for their height, age, activity level, etc. 
This can lead to very unhealthy lifestyle habits in order for them to reach
that weight point.”

In contrast, the patients she sees who tend to have the
best outcomes are the ones whose families focus on overall healthy habits.

King recommends encouraging a positive body image, asking kids
how they feel about their bodies, and discussing the importance of all food
groups in their daily lives.

Avoid using words like “diet,” “fat,” and “goal weight.”

“Focusing on weight – even little comments such as ‘Ooh, I see
a little tummy pouch there’ – can be damaging,” King said.

She offers the following tips for parents to encourage a healthy lifestyle in teens:

  • Watch
    your words.
    Kids and teens are very perceptive. If they hear parents say
    from an early age things like “I hate my fat thighs,” they will be more attuned
    to looking for the negatives in themselves. Words can leave emotional
    scars, so be cautious of saying things such as “you’re lazy” or “you’re fat.”
  • Aim for
    at least one family meal per day. 
    If you find family dinner isn’t
    always feasible due to extracurricular activities or an otherwise busy schedule,
    aim for family breakfast. It might mean getting up a few minutes earlier, but
    it still accomplishes the same goals.
  • Have
    fruits and vegetables readily available on the counter or fridge.
    Leave them
    washed and at eye level so it’s easy for kids to grab and go. 
  • Get kids
    involved in the kitchen. 
    Even if you as a parent “can’t cook,” think
    of this as an opportunity to learn together. Start by shopping and picking
    out new healthy foods to try. Get in the kitchen and try a new recipe
    together. Not only will you will be teaching skills, you’ll be making
    great memories together.
  • Take the
    TV out of your kids’ room.
    Many children and teens tend to eat and watch TV
    in their rooms. Taking the TV out will limit their screen time and
    encourage more family time.
  • Schedule physical activity as part of your family’s routine. Make walks, runs, games,
    bike rides, or hikes part of your weekly schedule. This sets a great
    example that being active is part of a healthy lifestyle.
  • Be a good
    role model.
    If you want your kid to eat their veggies that means you need
    to eat them, too. If you want them to exercise​, they’ve got to see you
    doing it. 

Zendaya’s Quirky Vegetarian Diet & Workout Plan: Low-Key Food …

Zendaya is many things – a dancer, actress, fashion icon to many, singer, designer, and even social activist. The 19-year-old Disney star is one busy woman, so what keeps her fueled throughout the day?

Keep in mind she’s still a teen, so she can get away with a lot more diet wise than say a 30 or 40-year-old can. Nonetheless, there are some good choices being made. There is talk that Zendaya has been cast as Mary Jane Watson in the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming movie, which might impact her dietary and fitness choices down the road.

A photo posted by Zendaya (@zendaya) on Apr 11, 2016 at 10:51pm PDT

So what does Zendaya’s diet plan look like? To be honest, the young star doesn’t really follow any set plan. Not surprising at her age. Young people’s metabolisms tend to burn faster, and they’re often able to eat anything they want without many repercussions – namely weight gain. Internal health might suffer, but the more superficial type, appearance, doesn’t tend to alter based on what teenagers eat. And Zendaya seems to be no different. Just take a look at this run-down of what she seemingly eats.

For starters, burritos are part of Zendaya’s meal plan; she claims it is her favorite food. Overall, a burrito can be part of a healthy diet if the ingredients within are fresh and lean. To make a nutritious burrito, use lean chicken, lettuce, sodium-reduced salsa, low fat sour cream, and go easy on the cheese. Opt for fresh green peppers and onions as opposed to those sautéed heavily in oil. If you must, a quick sauté in a tiny bit of olive oil is an option. Raw vegetables are far more nutritious than cooked vegetables.

Zendaya is a vegetarian “who doesn’t like vegetables too much” which, as she knows, makes being one challenging. Fortunately for her, she does enjoy a fresh rice salad that has some vegetables in it (recipe below). If you are like Zendaya and don’t have a taste for vegetables, try slipping them in to other dishes, such as a salad, or soups and stews.

A photo posted by Zendaya (@zendaya) on Jul 14, 2016 at 9:43pm PDT

It is important to get a few servings of vegetables a day for proper health. Other foods she loves are ramen noodles in broth and sugary breakfast cereals. Her favorite dessert is coffee ice cream, and she doesn’t like syrup on her pancakes (so we know she eats those for breakfast sometimes).

Below is the recipe for one of the actress’ favorite dishes, rice salad. It’s far better for her than ramen noodles, and by the looks of it, far more flavorful.

Zendaya’s Summer Rice Salad

2 cups instant brown rice
2 cups vegetable broth (can swap for chicken or beef if desired)
1 tbsp. good quality olive oil
1 small onion
1 small zucchini
8-oz. package mushrooms, sliced (can be left out)
2 carrots, julienned
2 tsp. lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the rice using broth in place of water; set aside. Heat olive oil in a skillet, add all vegetables. Sautee for three minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add the cooked rice, and then cook on medium heat for five minutes. Take off the heat. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, then chill for 30 minutes. Best served cold.

Zendaya’s Workout Regime

Her biggest fitness tip to fans is to find something that is fun to do. For her, that’s dancing and doing fight choreography so that’s how she gets her exercise. Her mom, for example, she says, doesn’t like working out at the gym but loves going to spin classes two to three times a day, and even loves taking a hot spinning class (she must be crazy fit!).

Arnet, B., “What You Should and Shouldn’t Eat If You Want to Live like Zendaya,” Spoon University web site, August 3, 2016;
http://spoonuniversity.com/lifestyle/what-you-should-and-shouldnt-eat-if-you-want-to-live-like-zendaya/, last accessed August 22, 2016.
Hall, M., Whiteman, Bobby. “’Eat Like a (Hot, Healthy) Celeb! Get ready to whip up yummy recipes for healthy meals and snacks that your favorite celebs love!” Seventeen web site, March 31, 2014; http://www.seventeen.com/life/food-recipes/advice/g371/celeb-healthy-recipes/?slide=4, last accessed August 22, 2016.

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