Archive for » June 14th, 2012«

Local couple improves health through Paleo diet

Jackson and her boyfriend, Will Poole, started the Paleo diet in an effort to help Poole deal with Type I diabetes.

The Paleo diet eliminates processed foods and focuses on hunter-gatherer foods, much like cavemen would have eaten during the Paleolithic era. The philosophy is centered on the theory that our bodies respond best to food that is, and has been for thousands of years, naturally available to us.

Breads, cereals, potatoes, legumes and dairy products are prohibited in the strictest versions of the diet. Jackson and Poole have adapted their diets to include more meats, vegetables and nuts.

And eggs, Jackson said. “We eat a lot of eggs.”

Health advantages

Jackson and Poole are convinced that the Paleo diet has improved their health.

Before the Paleo diet, Poole’s food choices were adversely affecting his health.

“I didn’t do a good job,” he said. His idea of managing his diabetes well was, “I wasn’t having to have to go to the ER on regular basis.”

“Will’s diet was a big concern of mine,” Jackson said. “He ate anything. He would eat food that would spike his blood sugar and then treat it with insulin.”

Since starting the diet, Poole has lost about 32 pounds, his acid reflux has disappeared and he has reduced his insulin use by 60 to 75 percent, he said.

Jackson, who competes for the Cape Fear Roller Girls roller derby squad under the alias Violet Outlaw, said she’s seen results, too.

After tearing her left ACL in December 2010, Jackson “got surgery, sat around and gained some weight.” But after three months on the Paleo diet, she’d lost 20 pounds. Recently, she skated through a triple-header with her teammates and expected the inevitable muscle soreness to creep in the next day.

But it didn’t.

“One thing I’ve noticed with Paleo is that my muscles recover much better,” Jackson said. After a bout, “I expect to be sore. It just never happens.”

Other views

Some folks aren’t convinced that the Paleo diet is a life-changing experience.

In a study of 24 diets, U.S. News and World Reports ranked the Paleo diet 24th. The study based its results on the following criteria: “easy to follow, nutritious, safe, effective for weight loss and against diabetes and heart disease.”

The DASH Diet and the TLC Diet were the top two, closely followed by the Mayo Clinic Diet, the Mediterranean Diet and Weight Watchers.

Courtney Simmons, the campus dietitian at University of North Carolina Wilmington, said some of the students on campus are enrolled in the CrossFit exercise program, which encourages the adoption of the Paleo diet.

“I think the basics of it are great,” Simmons said. She likes that the diet promotes the elimination of processed foods and that it encourages eating fruits and vegetables.

Her concern is the lack of grain and dairy.

“Both are important if you’re getting the right types,” she said.

The Paleo diet is a good alternative to an undisciplined everyday diet, she said.

“I think anyone who is eating the typical American diet and switches to the Paleo Diet, yes, they will lose weight,” Simmons said.

Roadblocks

On occasions, Poole and Jackson can’t control what food is prepared for them.

When they attend a cookout, baby shower or a wedding reception, it’s unrealistic to bring entire meals for themselves.

“Those tend to be cheat days,” Jackson said. And that hurts on two levels. “Not only are we cheating and feeling bad about it, but we feel physically bad.”

Poole said he recently attended a wedding in Charlotte where the menu was out of his control.

“(Cheating) does two things,” he said. “It gets it out of your system and it reminds you why you eat this way in the first place. It’s like somebody who drinks too much. You swear you’re never going to do it again.”

Friends and family are generally understanding of Poole’s diets. Even his mother, who raised him on biscuits, gravy and mashed potatoes, serves him meat and vegetables when he visits.

Costs

Jackson and Poole don’t deny that their grocery bill has gone up since they started Paleo. Organic meat and fresh vegetables cost more than a box of macaroni and cheese. But Jackson and Poole say the benefits outweigh the cost.

“It costs more than bags of chicken nuggets and stuff we would have eaten,” Jackson said, “but we’re eating out a lot less.”

“There are so few restaurant and fast-food options, you virtually cut them out of your life,” Poole said.

He has always liked to cook, so he saw Paleo cooking more as a challenge than a chore.

“It does take some effort,” he said. “If you are used to eating everything out of the freezer or pantry, it does take some adjusting.”

Even though the new regimen requires more time and money, after each meal, Poole feels satisfied.

“I’ve never eaten better and more than I have on this diet,” Poole said.

Jackson’s favorite meal is a combination of ground turkey, bacon and onion with fingerling sweet potatoes. Poole loves to grill a slab of beef ribs with bacon wrapped around it. He adds a side of mashed cauliflower to complete one of his favorite meals.

The kids

Jackson has three boys, ages 6, 9 and 12. They bemoan the limited beverage options at their mom’s house. And their mom cringes when she feeds them processed food that she no longer eats.

Though she’s not as strict with the boys as she is with her own regimen, she takes pride in some changes that go completely unnoticed by the boys.

“One Friday night, they asked if they could get into their Easter candy after dinner,” Jackson said.

Even though she’s quite sure that a caveman never ate a chocolate bunny, she reluctantly consented. After dinner, though, the boys asked for kiwi slices and carrot sticks.

As the boys ate their healthy snack, Jackson remembered their request for Easter candy. She allowed herself a Snickers, but didn’t mention it to the boys.

Two months after Easter, those chocolate bunnies remain intact.

Mike Voorheis: 343-2205

Post-Pregnancy Fitness and Wellness Tips That Work

As a new father, I am witnessing firsthand, the struggle my wife, Paula, is having with motivation to get back her pre-pregnancy physique. For many women, the thought of exercise may be the farthest thing from their after giving birth. However, it is worth the effort and it can be accomplished!

The first step is to not be too hard on yourself for the first six weeks postpartum and try not to compare yourself to the many celebrity moms who seem to shed all of their baby weight in a matter of days. Even though I can empathize with my wife, without physically carrying a child for nine months, I will never truly understand this experience and the feeling that you want to get back to your old self as quickly as possible. But, I do know that the slim down process should always be done gradually. The reason being that dropping weight too fast or starving yourself just to fit into your skinny clothes can have a negative impact on your body, which can include both muscle and bone loss. Also, for new mothers who have had a Caesarean section, there will be greater tissue healing that can further delay your entry into a more intense workout program. 

So, what is a post-pregnancy woman to do? Here’s my diet and exercise program that I enlisted the help of Paula (who is a professional chef by the way) to help create.  

* Always check with a medical physician before beginning any fitness program

* Be sure to keep the water flowing. Aim to consume half of your body weight in ounces a day 

* Take your time and start off slowly

1. Kegel, Kegel, Kegel: Pelvic muscles may have weakened during childbirth so it is imperative that we start in this area. Begin by either sitting or lying down and contract (squeeze) the muscles that you would generally use if you were attempting to stop urinating. I recommend performing 15 to 20 sets of contractions. Hold each contraction between three to five seconds resting three to five seconds between sets. 
Coaches tip: If you feel your abdominal region contracting, relax and place your focus on your pelvic region. This may take time and greater concentration but do not become frustrated. 

2. The easiest workout: Standing on one leg while brushing your teeth works deep core muscles. It’s a perfect short workout, creating a degree of instability that engages the smaller muscles essential for core strength. 

3. Eat with your non-dominant hand: You may feel awkward at first but you will eat about 30 percent less and actually pay more attention to your food instead of other things.  Go ahead. Give it a try at your next meal. Since the hormones that signal to the brain that you are full are at the end of your digestive tract, it takes a while for the food to get there. It takes nearly 20 minutes for your brain to realize that you’ve had enough to eat. Switching to your non-dominate hand will have you eating at a slower pace, which in turn will have you ingesting fewer calories. 

4. Confuse your stomach and watch it shrink: Recently, my wife switched from adult sized plates with a 12-inch diameter to saucer-sized plates, which are about 6inches in across. The Reason: it might feel like your sitting at the kids’ table but studies show people who eat food off of saucers believe they are eating an average of 18 percent more calories than they really are. At home, we also purchased blue flatware because the color blue is a natural appetite suppressant and I can personally notice that the switch has helped. 

5. Easiest way to start flattening your belly…work your invisible abdominal muscles: Your transversus abdominis lies beneath your rectus abdominis, the 6-pack muscle, and flattens your waistline when you suck in your gut. Work it with the vacuum. Pull your belly button toward your spine and hold for 10 seconds while breathing normally. Repeat five times. 
Coaches tip: Test out this simple exercise the next time you’re standing in line at the grocery counter. 

6. Dip your fork first: Next time you order salad keep the dressing on the side and dip your fork in it before spearing a piece of lettuce rather than dousing your greens. The average salad dressing has over 300 calories. This way, you’ll add taste without the extra calories.

7. Me and you time: Having a newborn can sometimes create anxiety between a couple, and distance. To help avoid this, my wife and I have set aside a few nights a week where we take our child Max (that’s him in the picture!) on a couple’s walk. Walking not only strengthens, tones, and redevelops muscles that may have been lost during pregnancy but, starting a walking or exercise regimen with your spouse or partner actually increases your chance of sticking to the program by up to 90 percent. 

Western diet can put you at health risk

Certain saturated fats that are common in the modern Western diet can initiate a chain of events leading to complex immune disorders such as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) in people with a genetic predisposition, a new study has claimed.

The findings of the new study help explain why once-rare immune-mediated diseases have become more common in westernized societies in the last half century.

It also provides insights into why many individuals, who are genetically prone to these diseases, are never affected and how certain environmental factors can produce inflammation in individuals already at risk.

Researchers at the University of Chicago found that concentrated milk fats, which are abundant in processed and confectionery foods, alter the composition of bacteria in the intestines.

These changes can disrupt the delicate truce between the immune system and the complex but largely beneficial mix of bacteria in the intestines. The emergence of harmful bacterial strains in this setting can unleash an unregulated tissue-damaging immune response that can be difficult to switch off.

“This is the first plausible mechanism showing step-by-step how Western-style diets contribute to the rapid and ongoing increase in the incidence of inflammatory bowel disease,” Eugene B. Chang, study author, said.

“We know how certain genetic differences can increase the risk for these diseases, but moving from elevated risk to the development of disease seems to require a second event which may be encountered because of our changing lifestyle,” he said.

For the study, the researchers worked with a mouse model that has many of the characteristics of human IBD.

Genetically deleting a molecule, interleukin 10, which acts as a brake on the immune system’s response to intestinal bacteria, caused about 20 per cent of mice to develop colitis when fed a low-fat diet or a diet high in polyunsaturated fats.

However, when exposed to a diet high in saturated milk fats, the rate of disease development within six months tripled, increasing to more than 60 per cent. In addition, the onset, severity and extent of colitis were much greater than that observed in mice fed low-fat diets.

Why would milk fat — a powdered substance that remains when fat has been separated from butter and dehydrated — trigger inflammation when polyunsaturated fat did not?

The researchers traced the answer to the gut microbiome, the complex mix of hundreds of bacterial strains that reside in the bowels.

They found that an uncommon microbe called Bilophila wadsworthia was preferentially selected in the presence of milk fat. Previous studies had found high levels of B. wadsworthia in patients with appendicitis and other intestinal inflammatory disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease.

“That piqued our interest,” Chang said.

“These pathobionts, which are usually non-abundant, seem to be quite prominent in these diseases,” he said.

Indeed, while Bilophila wadsworthia levels were almost undetectable in mice on a low-fat or unsaturated-fat diet, the bacteria made up about 6 per cent of all gut bacteria in mice that were fed a high milk-fat diet.

“Here we show how the trend in consumption of Western-type diets by many societies can potentially tip the mutualistic balance between host and microbe to a state that favours the onset of disease,” Chang said.

As its name implies, Bilophila wadsworthia has an affinity for bile, a substance produced by the liver and released into the intestines to help break down ingested fats.

Milk fats are particularly difficult to digest and require the liver to secrete a form of bile that is rich in sulfur. B. wadsworthia thrives in the presence of sulfur. So when the bile created to dissolve milk fats reaches the colon, it enables wadsworthia to blossom.

“Unfortunately, these can be harmful bacteria,” Chang said.

“Presented with a rich source of sulfur, they bloom, and when they do, they are capable of activating the immune system of genetically prone individuals,” he said.

The byproducts of B. wadsworthia”s interaction with bile also can amplify the effect. They serve as “gut mucosal barrier breakers”, said Suzanne Devkota, first author of the study.

“By increasing the permeability of the bowel, they enhance immune-cell infiltration, and that can induce tissue damage,” she said.

Much of the recent progress in understanding the biology of inflammatory bowel disease has focused on gene variants that can increase risk, beginning with the discovery in 2001 of Nod2 by researchers at the University of Chicago. But the new study puts the focus on changing environmental factors that might trigger the disease in high-risk patients.

“Right now we can’t do much about correcting genes that predispose individuals to increased risk for these diseases and while we could encourage people to change their diets, this is seldom effective and always difficult,” Chang said.

“However, the balance between host and microbes can be altered back to a healthy state to prevent or treat these diseases.

“In essence, the gut microbiome can be ‘re-shaped’ in sustainable and predictable ways that restore a healthy relationship between host and microbes, without significantly affecting the lifestyles of individuals who are genetically prone to these diseases. We are testing that right now,” he added.

The study has been published online in the journal Nature.

Seaweed supplement helps you lose weight

A seaweed-based fiber supplement, taken daily before meals, helped people lose weight in a new study.


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But that was only the case among people who stuck with the diet study over a few months. More than one-fifth of people dropped out when they couldn’t tolerate the supplement’s taste, texture and side effects.

Researchers have explored the potential of seaweed as an appetite suppressant, but so far products haven’t panned out.

“There have been problems in the past to develop something (that tastes) acceptable,” said Dr. Arne Astrup, one of the study’s authors from the University of Copenhagen and a member of the advisory board to S-Biotek, a Danish company that provided funding for the study.

Previous seaweed-based supplements were slimy and caused bloating, and they also had a fishy taste. The new supplement used in this study is less unpleasant — but there’s still room for improvement, said Astrup.

The supplement is based on the seaweed extract alginate, a thickening agent and a common ingredient in foods like soups and jellies. It’s also increasingly used by the weight-loss industry, marketed as an appetite suppressant.

Packaged in powder form and mixed with liquid, alginate expands in the stomach to form a thick gel, mimicking the effect of a large meal.

“This gel is really like a pudding that will last in the stomach for hours, gradually degrading and disappearing,” Astrup said.

For the study, the researchers randomly divided 96 generally healthy but obese people, aged 20 to 55, into two groups.

One group was given packets of the gel supplement, containing 15 grams of fiber, and the other got a seaweed-free placebo drink. Neither the researchers nor the participants knew who was receiving the seaweed supplement.

In terms of calories, flavor and appearance, the placebo and treatment drink were identical.

For three months, study participants drank the supplements, dissolved in two cups of water, 30 minutes before each meal. They were also told to cut back on calories. By the end of the trial, sixteen people had dropped out of the study, including 10 out of 48 from the seaweed group, according to findings published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Among people who stuck with the trial, those on the fiber supplement lost 15 pounds, on average, compared to 11 pounds in the placebo group. But when all 96 original participants were included in the analysis, the researchers found no significant difference in weight loss between the two treatment groups.

Previous studies have shown eating a high-fiber diet can help reduce the hunger pangs that may lead to over-eating and derail a healthy diet plan.

Still, the new results should be treated with caution, according to Dr. Maria Vazquez Roque, who has worked on alginate-based gels at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, but was not involved in the study. Just looking at the effect of the supplement on people who finished the treatment can bias the findings, she said.

For Mette Kristensen, one of the study’s authors, the message seems clear: “If you actually comply with the treatment, you do have the improvement in weight loss.”

However, effects on blood pressure were less promising. Systolic blood pressure — the top number on a blood pressure reading — fell by almost six points on average in the placebo group over the 12-week study, but by just over one point in the treatment group. At times during the trials, systolic blood pressure increased in the alginate group by one to two points.

According to the researchers, the higher sodium content of the alginate drink — a little over one gram per dose, or about half a teaspoon of salt — could have offset any potential blood-pressure reducing effect of the supplement. The American Heart Association recommends that adults eat less than 1.5 g of sodium per day.

Questions remain about the safety of the fiber supplement over the long term. Five people taking the fiber gel left the study due to problems with stomach bloating, nausea and diarrhea. Two people taking a placebo supplement, which didn’t contain the seaweed fiber, experienced similar problems.

There are many different types of alginate, said Richard Mattes, who has studied the effect of alginate fiber on appetite at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana — so the trick is to find the right alginate in the right dose.

And just feeling less hungry due to a supplement won’t make you lose weight unless you eat fewer calories, said Mattes, who was not involved in the new study.

The research group is working on a new supplement that uses 80 percent less alginate, with less sodium, better taste and fewer side effects than the current formula, Astrup told Reuters Health.

Alginate as an aid to weight loss is already commercially available in pill form and costs around $45 for a seven-day supply. These supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, said Vazquez Roque.

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/LSuLvS American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online May 30, 2012.

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012. Check for restrictions at: http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp

Healthy Hollywood

NEW YORK, N.Y. —

Just like most new moms, actress Ali Landry had to work hard to get her pre-baby shape back.

To get on the right track, the actress uses the home delivery food plan, Chefs Diet.

“I did not start working out for two years after Estela was born so the only reason I was able to get my baby weight [off] was because of Chefs Diet’s wonderful meal plan,” reveals Ali, who also has an 8 month old son.

The Chefs Diet is an easy, breezy way to lose weight.

Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, and Steven Tyler are also fans of this eating plan.

“Chefs Diet was founded on the belief that a diet plan should always be healthy, delicious and convenient,” reveals Misha Podlog, president of Chefs Diet.

Customers can choose from various programs, including their premium menu, a vegetarian menu, a diabetic menu and a kids menu. All of the menus offer three balanced meals and two snacks daily.

“No shopping, no cooking and no more calorie counting,” adds Misha.

Plus, the best news is that Chefs Diet is not too expensive. The plan costs between $42 to $45 a day.

“All of the menus offer delicious food options such as pecan pancakes with Vermont maple syrup and grilled Canadian bacon, grilled rack of baby lamb with ratatouille parmesan and mint jelly and baked “deep dish” apple cinnamon cobbler,” reveals Misha.

The Chefs Diets calorie intake ranges between 1300 – 1500 calories a day. The average client loses 8 to 10 pounds during the first month and 6 to 8 pounds per month thereafter.

“Many clients report higher levels of energy and a significant decrease in hunger and fatigue within the first five days,” adds Misha.

Plus, this program teaches folks portion control.

“By seeing the foods groups and portions on a daily basis, you will know how to prepare your meals just by using the eyeball method,” she said.

If you’re motivated to try Chefs Diet, check out www.chefsdiet.com.

– Terri MacLeod

Copyright 2012 by NBC Universal, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

For breaking news and personal commentary from our hosts and producers, follow us on and !

Western diet changes gut bacteria and triggers colitis in those at risk

Certain saturated fats that are common in the modern Western diet can initiate a chain of events leading to complex immune disorders such as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) in people with a genetic predisposition, according to a study to be published early online in the journal Nature.

The finding helps explain why once-rare immune-mediated diseases have become more common in westernized societies in the last half century. It also provides insights into why many individuals who are genetically prone to these diseases are never affected and how certain environmental factors can produce inflammation in individuals already at risk.

Researchers at the University of Chicago found that concentrated milk fats, which are abundant in processed and confectionary foods, alter the composition of bacteria in the intestines. These changes can disrupt the delicate truce between the immune system and the complex but largely beneficial mix of bacteria in the intestines. The emergence of harmful bacterial strains in this setting can unleash an unregulated tissue-damaging immune response that can be difficult to switch off.

“This is the first plausible mechanism showing step-by-step how Western-style diets contribute to the rapid and ongoing increase in the incidence of inflammatory bowel disease,” said study author Eugene B. Chang, MD, PhD, the Martin Boyer Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago. “We know how certain genetic differences can increase the risk for these diseases, but moving from elevated risk to the development of disease seems to require a second event which may be encountered because of our changing lifestyle.”

The researchers worked with a mouse model that has many of the characteristics of human IBD. Genetically deleting a molecule, interleukin 10, which acts as a brake on the immune system’s response to intestinal bacteria, caused about 20 percent of mice to develop colitis when fed a low-fat diet or a diet high in polyunsaturated fats. But when exposed to a diet high in saturated milk fats, the rate of disease development within six months tripled, increasing to more than 60 percent. In addition, the onset, severity and extent of colitis were much greater than that observed in mice fed low-fat diets.

Why would milk fat — a powdered substance that remains when fat has been separated from butter and dehydrated — trigger inflammation when polyunsaturated fat did not? The researchers traced the answer to the gut microbiome, the complex mix of hundreds of bacterial strains that reside in the bowels.

The researchers found that an uncommon microbe called Bilophila wadsworthia was preferentially selected in the presence of milk fat. Previous studies had found high levels of B. wadsworthia in patients with appendicitis and other intestinal inflammatory disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease.

“That piqued our interest,” Chang said. “These pathobionts, which are usually non-abundant, seem to be quite prominent in these diseases.”

Indeed, while Bilophila wadsworthia levels were almost undetectable in mice on a low-fat or unsaturated-fat diet, the bacteria made up about 6 percent of all gut bacteria in mice fed a high milk-fat diet.

“Here we show how the trend in consumption of Western-type diets by many societies can potentially tip the mutualistic balance between host and microbe to a state that favors the onset of disease,” Chang said.

As its name implies, Bilophila wadsworthia has an affinity for bile, a substance produced by the liver and released into the intestines to help break down ingested fats. Milk fats are particularly difficult to digest and require the liver to secrete a form of bile that is rich in sulfur. B. wadsworthia thrives in the presence of sulfur. So when the bile created to dissolve milk fats reaches the colon, it enables wadsworthia to blossom.

“Unfortunately, these can be harmful bacteria,” Chang said. “Presented with a rich source of sulfur, they bloom, and when they do, they are capable of activating the immune system of genetically prone individuals.”

The byproducts of B. wadsworthia‘s interaction with bile also can amplify the effect. They serve as “gut mucosal barrier breakers,” said Suzanne Devkota, PhD, a member of Chang’s laboratory and first author of the study. “By increasing the permeability of the bowel, they enhance immune-cell infiltration, and that can induce tissue damage.”

Much of the recent progress in understanding the biology of inflammatory bowel disease has focused on gene variants that can increase risk, beginning with the discovery in 2001 of Nod2 by researchers at the University of Chicago. But the new study puts the focus on changing environmental factors that might trigger the disease in high-risk patients.

“Right now we can’t do much about correcting genes that predispose individuals to increased risk for these diseases,” Chang said, “and while we could encourage people to change their diets, this is seldom effective and always difficult.”

“However, the balance between host and microbes can be altered back to a healthy state to prevent or treat these diseases,” he added. “In essence, the gut microbiome can be ‘re-shaped’ in sustainable and predictable ways that restore a healthy relationship between host and microbes, without significantly affecting the lifestyles of individuals who are genetically prone to these diseases. We are testing that right now.”