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Archive for » April 12th, 2012«

Prevent eye problems with a healthy diet

More women than men are diagnosed each year with eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a progressive eye disease that is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in the elderly. According to the National Eye Institute, women are more predisposed to eye diseases due to hormonal factors and because women generally live longer.  

We may think that declining eye health and vision are inevitable with age, but that’s not necessarily so. Women (and men) can take steps to help delay or even prevent eye diseases, including AMD.  One important way is to eat a diet rich in foods that contain nutrients our eyes need for optimum health.

Fill your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables

The National Eye Institute’s age-related eye disease study found that foods rich in beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc, are important for good eye health.  So are foods containing the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which promote healthy eye tissue and slow the progression of macular degeneration by raising pigment density in the macula. Our body doesn’t produce lutein naturally so we need to get it from food sources, primarily dark green leafy vegetables, but we should also get it from fruits and vegetables in various colors, such as broccoli, orange peppers, corn, peas and tangerines.

Eat omega-3 rich fish

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish have also been shown to help protect against age-related macular degeneration.  Using data from the Harvard Women’s Health Study, which tracked nearly 40,000 women for more than a decade, researchers found that women who ate the greatest amounts of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish, lowered their risk of developing AMD by thirty-eight percent.  The study also found that women who ate one or more servings of fish per week compared to women who ate fatty fish once a month, decreased their risk of AMD by 42 percent. Great fish sources of DHA, omega-3 fatty acid are salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines.

For more information about AMD and ways to protect your eyes and maintain healthy vision, check out the Healthy Vision page on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  website.

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a nationally known registered dietitian based in New York and the creator of a proprietary high-fiber nutrition program for weight loss, wellness and for treating various medical conditions. Tanya authored the bestselling weight loss book The F-Factor Diet, and she is the first dietitian with a national line of high-fiber foods, which are sold under the F-Factor name. Become a fan of Tanya on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn, and visit her website Ffactor.com.

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Vegetarian Diet for a Better Mood?

Can eating meat be detrimental for your mood and mental health? Is there a reason that your vegetarian friend is so energetic and cheerful all the time? The latest nutrition research suggests there may be scientific validity to these observations.

According to a recent study published this February by Bonnie Beezhold in Nutrition Journal, a randomized group of omnivores reported improved mood states after only two weeks of eliminating meat, fish and poultry from their diets.

The study consisted of three groups. The omnivores were randomly assigned to either a control group, which included consuming meat, fish and poultry daily, a second group assigned to consuming fish 3-4 times a week but avoiding meat and poultry, and a third group that avoided meat, fish, and poultry altogether. At baseline and at the end of the two weeks, the participants completed a food frequency questionnaire, a “Profile of Mood States” questionnaire, and a “Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale.” According to the self-reported results, both the omnivore’s and the fish eater’s moods remained unchanged, while the vegetarian group showed significant improvements in their mood scores at the end of the two week trial. (1) This and other studies conducted by Beezhold suggest that vegetarianism is associated with overall healthier mood status.

So what is it about meat and poultry that may have adverse affects on our mood? Omnivorous diets are high in arachidonic acid (omega-6) in comparison to vegetarian diets. Past research has shown that high intakes of arachidonic acid, found mainly in red meat, poultry, and some fish, promotes changes in the brain that can negatively disturb our mood. High blood levels of arachidonic acid, in relationship to eicosapentaenoic acid (omega-3), have been linked to clinical symptoms of depression. (2) While omega-3s, especially fish oil, have become the poster child for brain function and lowering oxidative stress, the high levels of omega-6 in our modern omnivorous diets may be doing us more harm than good. A possible solution to this imbalance of omegas in your diet could be the addition of several amazing plant sources of omega-3s such as walnuts and flaxseed, that provide the benefits of omega-3s with lower levels of omega-6s.

These findings challenge what we have come to learn about the beneficial effects of fish our brain and, according to Beezhold, suggest an unrecognized benefit of vegetarian diets that are naturally lower in omega fatty acids. While vegetarians typically have lower levels of both omega fatty acids, they also have much higher circulating concentrations of antioxidants due to their increased plant consumption. (3) Vegetarians therefore may not need as many omega fatty acids to protect them from oxidative stress.

While there is still debate about the ideal diet for optimum brain function, this field of research certainly raises another interesting argument that points to how cutting down on our meat and poultry consumption can have beneficial impacts on our overall health and well-being.

(1) Beezhold and Johnston: Restriction of meat, fish, and poultry in omnivores improves mood: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Nutrition Journal 2012 11:9 (http://www.nutritionj.com/content/pdf/1475-2891-11-9.pdf)

(2) Adams, Peter B., Sheryl Lawson, Andrew Sanigorski, and Andrew J. Sinclair. “Arachidonic Acid to Eicosapentaenoic Acid Ratio in Blood Correlates Positively with Clinical Symptoms of Depression.” Lipids 31.1 (1996): S157-161. Print. (http://www.springerlink.com/content/u028h00453272554/about/)

(3) Beezhold et al., Vegetarian diets are associated with healthy mood states: a cross- sectional study in Seventh Day Adventist adults Nutrition Journal 2010, 9:26 (http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1475-2891-9-26.pdf)

For more by Riley Rearden, click here.

For more on mental health, click here.

Flickr photo by Martin Cathrae

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Chicago Fat Loss is the Goal of One Renegade Boot Camp Trainer

(PRWEB) April 12, 2012

Craig Kastning, an owner at Chi-Town Boot Camps has developed a program to help clients reduce fat, tone muscles and condition for overall health. By following Craig’s customized eating shortcuts and tips clients at Chicago fat loss boot camps, Chi-Town Boot Camps, are guaranteed to reach their fat loss goals. Programs are developed step by step and fully individualized by the trainers at Chi-Town. Nutrition plans formulated by Chicago fat loss trainers do not include packaged meals, starvation diets, pills or fads. Craig and his staff of personal trainers claim to eat the same foods and use the same boot camp programs as their clients.

Brian Pinon of Elgin, Illinois states, “I can’t thank the Chi-Town boot camps team enough. When I first met Jamie, Dustin and Craig, I was tired – I was tired of eating wrong, I was tired of trying fad diets, and most importantly, I was tired of being overweight.” Brian and Craig sat down together and Craig developed a plan of exercise and nutrition specifically for Brian. There are no generalized workout plans or cookie-cutter diets; everything is personalized.Brian further states, “After I started going to Chi-Town, I’m now 55 pounds lighter (and counting), stronger, and more energetic than I’ve been in my life! They really know what they’re doing, and if you let them, they can change your life too.”

Chi-Town personal trainers and Chicago fat loss programs claim that losing fat is a mathematical process. Craig Kastning at Chi-Townemphasizes toclients that adding more exercises and healthy foods to fat loss programs is the best way to achieve fat loss. Craig highlights that eating familiar foods from the local grocery store can help in fat loss goals. He urges, “Use mathematical skills and begin to subtract those foods that cause fat. Minus white carbs, continue to eat the good foods that are already a part of each client’s daily intake and subtract greasy fatty foods. Yes, stay away from fast foods.” Subtracting sugar drinks from personalized diets and avoiding diet sodas has been proven to help with weight loss and stop fat production.

In addition to subtracting fat-producing foods from diets, Chi-Town and Chicago boot camp clients have been asked to shop in the vegetable aisle of local grocery stores to find the best weight loss foods. Craig, Jamie and Dustin underline that clients must add greens to personalized diets. “It has been scientifically proven that the more greens eaten, the less likely fatty carbs will be a part of diets, and fat loss programs will be successful, “ Chi-Town trainers.

To summarize, Craig Kastning underscores that Chi-Town and Chicago fat loss systems are not designed to starve you. “Don’t worry; we don’t believe in fad diets, packaged meals or starvation diets. We like to eat just like you do.” Craig urges clients to use their math skills and subtract all fat causing foods from their diet. Chi-Town personal trainers will give you a personalized diet cheat sheet that lists healthy foods.


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Diets Are Like Antacids: It’s Time for a Paradigm Shift

Diets are like antacids. Let me explain…

When I was in medical school just a few decades ago, peptic ulcer disease (PUD) was believed to be caused by stress and excess stomach acid. The treatment was a bland diet and antacids, which didn’t work very well. Later powerful acid blockers were developed. These treatments worked better, but the ulcers frequently relapsed and required repeated or chronic treatment.

Despite these ultimately ineffective therapies, the discovery by Barry Marshall and Robin Warren that most cases of PUD were caused by a bacterial infection was initially met with great skepticism, defensiveness and criticism. They continued to challenge the dogma, even going so far as to intentionally infect themselves with H. pylori. It was well over a decade before it was widely accepted that PUD could be cured with a single round of triple therapy.

Aha! No wonder the old PUD treatment didn’t work: We were treating the symptoms, not the cause. Marshall and Warren won a Nobel Prize in 2005 for their persistence, and millions of PUD sufferers have finally been cured.

We’re at a similar crossroads with dieting, the antacids of our day. Diets temporarily treat symptoms, not causes; diets temporarily change behaviors, not the source of those behaviors. The “treatment” paradigm is flawed, yet so pervasive that millions of people are trapped in outdated beliefs and behaviors, despite all of the evidence that it’s not moving the majority toward healthier, happier, more vibrant lives.

There’s endless, tiresome debate about which diet works better, but none have shown a permanent cure. Some even resort to blaming or subtly shaming dieters (or themselves) when they quit the diet or regain weight, even though that is the known outcome for the vast majority of people.

I’ve been speaking and writing about a non-restrictive, “non-diet” approach since 1999 when I founded the Am I Hungry® mindful eating workshops. In the book based on this program, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat and my latest book, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, I guide readers through this paradigm shift one step at a time. I’ll be the first to admit that although the concepts are simple, it’s not always easy. Paradigms are notoriously difficult to see through, much less break through. Yet countless workshop participants and readers have changed the way they think about eating — even after decades of recurrent or chronic yo-yo dieting.

I’ve seen many other hopeful signs that the shift is finally taking place. Many of my colleagues are now helping their patients and clients learn mindful eating skills rather than teaching restrictive rule-following and preaching willpower and motivation.

In fact, the mantra, “diets don’t work,” is growing louder. However, in an effort to catch the rising tide, many diets now claim they are “not a diet.” But to the trained eye, they clearly are. Just saying so doesn’t make it so, and therefore the results will be the same.

It’s understandably difficult to see the need for a radical shift, particularly if your reputation, life’s work and, in some cases, financial security depend on keeping people trapped in the eat-repent-repeat cycle. I don’t think that most who promote various forms of dieting are malicious or ignorant; it’s just that restrictive eating is so deeply embedded in our cultural norms that they can’t see the difference.

Below are some of the telltale signs that a plan, program, or “lifestyle change” is actually a diet, even if it says it’s not. If you feel skeptical, defensive or critical as you read this list, take note; your paradigm is showing.

  • The focus is on weight loss rather than health
  • You’re supposed to write down everything you eat
  • There is weighing, measuring or counting involved: calories, exchanges, points, grams, pounds, etc.
  • You have to plan your meals days in advance or follow a predetermined meal plan
  • Foods are labeled as good/bad, or allowed/not allowed
  • “They” say you can “eat what you love,” but then they tell you what, when or how much
  • Food is provided for you
  • You eat substitutes for real food (shakes, bars, supplements)
  • Some are based on an addiction model and require restriction or avoidance
  • Alternatively, you’re “allowed” to “eat whatever you want,” but the diet or expert determines the limits for you
  • Certain foods are considered indulgences, treats or splurges, and therefore are made special and even more desirable
  • There are “cheat” days
  • There are arbitrary rules, like “don’t eat after seven” or “eat every three hours”
  • Minutes of exercise are converted to calorie or food equivalents
  • Exercise becomes punishment for eating; it is used to earn food or pay penance for eating something “bad”
  • There is a weight loss phase and a maintenance phase (in other words, you’ll be on this diet for the rest of your life)
  • Rules, willpower, incentives, tricks and motivation help temporarily, but repeated “treatment” is necessary to maintain the results
  • While you are “on” it, you find yourself thinking about food frequently
  • You feel guilty for certain choices
  • You crave or miss certain foods
  • You have to avoid certain places, people or events because of the “temptations”
  • When you eventually “give in” and eat the foods you miss or crave, you find yourself overeating those foods
  • You resort to eating differently in private than you do in public to avoid comments, judgment and criticism
  • You overdiet the way you overeat: thinking and talking about food all the time
  • There are subtle implications that you can’t be trusted with food so you need these externally-imposed limits

In short, diets fail because they exert external control on what was once a natural, internal process. (Think of the way a baby eats.) Diets focus on what people should eat without addressing why they eat in the first place. Dieters often don’t learn to recognize their non-hunger eating triggers or effectively meet their true physical, emotional and social needs. As a result, the overeating cycle is never really broken.

This outdated and ineffective diet paradigm is a result of dichotomous thinking that presumes that if we don’t control behavior, it will be out of control.

But there is a third radical option: People can relearn to be in charge instead.

When nutrition, fitness, and self-care are approached with a non-diet, mindful eating paradigm, people are able to relearn to balance eating for enjoyment with eating for health, rediscover joy in physical activity and meet their true needs in more fulfilling, satisfying ways. Mindful eating requires awareness, intention, trust, new skills, practice — and revolutionary thinking.

What’s the alternative? Argue for an outdated paradigm that obviously doesn’t work? Just continue to treat the symptoms? I’ve moved on. How about you?

For more by Michelle May, M.D., click here.

For more on diet and nutrition, click here.


Books by this author


This Blogger’s Books from



Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes: A Mindful Eating Program for Thriving with Prediabetes or Diabetes

Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle

8 Gluten-Free Things That Won’t Help You Lose Weight Like Miley Cyrus

Yesterday, TheGloss posted about Miley Cyrus‘ dubious announcement that she has a gluten allergy—which she says explains her recent weight loss (not an eating disorder or crash diet, like some people-with-too-much-time-on-their-hands have been speculating). Whether she’s jumping on a diet trend for weight loss or health, we can’t be sure—but Miley’s tweets about gluten were less than illuminating for people who are confused about why so many people are suddenly going gluten-free. So here’s a crash course on the topic, and the trendy foods to avoid—whether you want to lose weight or improve your health.

First, it’s important to understand the main problems people have with wheat and gluten:

  1. Gluten Sensitivity—can range from mild to extreme reaction to gluten, but won’t show up on blood tests for Celiac Disease (this is also often referred to as a gluten allergy).
  2. Celiac Disease—an autoimmune disorder by which eating gluten causes an immune reaction that destroys the lining of the lower intestine, causing an inability to absorb certain nutrients and, in worst cases, can cause deficiencies that severely damage the nervous system and vital organs.

“Gluten intolerance” is a vague term that indicates a wide spectrum of reactions to gluten, including gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.

According to recent research, gluten sensitivity and celiac have both increased dramatically in recent years. Gluten allergies in particular have increased exponentially—some believe as many as 5 to 10% of Americans suffer some form of it—while it’s less clear whether celiac has grown as rapidly. One study last year indicated that it’s five times more common than it was in the 1950′s, but researcher’s aren’t sure if that’s because of increased awareness and diagnosis, or an actual change in our immune systems.

And explanations abound: While some researchers claim that the increase in celiac is because we have become “too clean,” causing a weakening of our immune systems, many doctors claim the rise in gluten sensitivity is due to the genetic modification of wheat in recent years (like many plants, wheat has been altered for higher crop yields, and different taste and texture to suit modern tastes and food product needs).

But whatever the statistics and explanations, many don’t believe the hype; in fact, a study published earlier this year basically called bullshit on anyone claiming gluten sensitivity who doesn’t test positive for celiac disease.

The skepticism, at least in part part, is probably due to the simultaneous boom in “gluten-free” foods on the market. A New York Times article published last fall cited statistics claiming the volume of products sold went up 37% in 2011, making the gluten-free market a $6.3 billion industry and growing. With that kind of market opportunity, it’s not just niche health food companies who are jumping on the bandwagon; corporations like General Mills are also looking for a way to get in on what seem to be recession-proof profits.

But many of the doctors urging patients to ditch gluten for improved health don’t want you to take part in those products at all; common sense says that replacing empty calories like white bread, crackers, and pastries with lean protein, vegetables, and whole grains will help most people lose weight and feel better. But swapping out processed junk for gluten-free processed junk isn’t likely to improve your health or change your body much (although those products do help people suffering celiac disease get their fix of cookies now and then).

If you’re considering jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon for health or weight loss, try to avoid foods like these:

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