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Archive for » September 6th, 2017«

Alkaline diet plan: Does it work? – Austin American-Statesman – Austin American

The pH level measures how acidic or alkaline something is. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 14, with 0 being totally acidic, 14 being totally alkaline, and seven being neutral. Your stomach, for example, is very acidic, because stomach acid is needed to break down food, while your blood remains quite constant with a slightly alkaline level (unless you’re extremely ill). Meanwhile, the pH of your urine changes constantly, reflecting what you eat.

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Be a wise consumer of food, nutrition information

Dear Readers: I am committed to providing you the best scientific answers to the questions you ask about diet and nutrition. I admit that with all my experience and training, at times, I struggle to sort out the scientific information from the marketing claims and testimonials about new food and beverage products, diet plans, dietary supplements and approaches to eating healthy. It’s got to be confusing to you. Ultimately it’s up to you — along with your family, doctor, registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) or trusted friend — to decide how the information applies to your life.

My job is a lot tougher today than when I wrote my first column in 1986. You had very little access to nutrition information. At that time the experts were considered the gatekeepers of information and we debated the evidence at meetings and in journals before making pronouncements. Now the results of the smallest study — yet to be replicated — may reach your ears or eyes as proven fact through a blog, a TV or radio or other media program.

A colleague sent me a paper with the title “Researchers: Too much information can be a good thing.” I almost cried. Really? At least the authors acknowledged that TMI — yes they have an abbreviation for “too much information” — can be a serious problem for health care providers.

It turns out that the headline was a bit misleading. The article was about researchers who studied the behaviors of patients responding to the information given by their health care provider. Did the doctor or RDN give them two or three specific recommendations or did the provider give them all the options available to prevent or treat their condition like high blood pressure or diabetes? Not surprisingly, the researchers found that the best number of health behaviors to recommend to a patient, at one time, is dependent on the goal of the intervention.

OK, so if my goal is to help a patient manage his blood pressure using lifestyle strategies I briefly lay out all the options — lose weight if overweight, don’t use tobacco or e-cigarettes, be physically active, follow the DASH eating plan and take prescribed medicine as directed. Then I ask the patient to pick a behavior he is confident he can do. So, in that case, giving the patient too much information is better than me just telling the patient what to do because he is more likely to see some results if he identifies the behavior he will try to change.

In our practice, we like to have patients set a SMART goal based on the known ways lifestyle can improve blood pressure. When the patient selects following the DASH, we will explore the food strategies that can lower blood pressure. They include eating more fruits and vegetables and less meat; consume some low-fat dairy; if you use a lot of salt or salt-containing foods, eat less of them. If you drink alcohol, consume no more than two drinks for men and one for women a day. A drink is 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

Most patients will see their blood pressure go down the fastest by losing some weight. But it takes doing all these eating behaviors every day to effectively manage systolic blood pressure (top number). Most people can’t do that overnight, but each change contributes to lowering blood pressure.

A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely/Trackable. As an example, “for the next seven days, I will eat a piece of fruit for my morning snack.” Hopefully by the end of the week, that behavior will be a habit and the person can add a new SMART goal. Research tells us that success in changing one behavior at a time leads to sustainable changes. For those who work at it and learn to follow DASH most days of the week, they may find they can reduce or eliminate their blood pressure medicines.

I give my patients “too much information” to remember so it’s imperative that I give them a handout. Do yourself a favor: if your provider doesn’t offer you a handout with all your options, ask for one. As for that headline, “Too much information can be a good thing,” be a wise consumer of food and nutrition information. It may be entertaining to read or even try the diets of the celebrities or products touted by experts in infomercials. But you will get bigger dividends if you start with what the scientists know works for most people and see how it applies to you.

Professor emeritus Kathy Kolasa, a registered dietitian nutritionist and Ph.D., is an Affiliate Professor in the Brody School of Medicine at ECU. Contact her at [email protected]

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How to lose weight with a low carb diet in two weeks

In the longer term, removing carbohydrates as a source of energy means your body uses fat and protein as its main source, aiding weight loss.

However, it’s worth noting that the idea of ‘cutting out carbs’ is very broad and not always completely helpful. Carbohydrate is a big food group, consisting of fibre (vegetables, whole wheat, pulses), starch (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes) and sugar (fruit, honey,biscuits, chocolate). For the aspiring slimmer, not all carbs are made equal.

While fibre and  some starches are generally considered ‘good’ forms that provide a slow and steady release of energy, sugar is more contentious, as it provides a huge spike in energy very quickly, which the body is less likely to burn off (unless you’re about to do exercise). 

What are the drawbacks of a low carb diet? 

There are schools of thought that argue against low carb diets.

One of the primary gripes is that it is simply not practical for day to day living. The process of converting fat to energy (when carbohydrate is not available) is much slower, so dieters can be beset by feelings of fatigue.

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Weight and cancer risk

We all know being overweight or obese isn’t healthy. In fact, most of us have tried – at some point in our lives — to shed a few extra pounds. A recent look at weight and its effect on cancer should encourage all of us to keep trying.

Many people think that whether or not you get cancer is just luck of the draw. Or, that your chances are determined by genes you inherit from your parents. Being overweight or obese increases the risk for several types of cancer, including cancers of the colon, rectum, endometrium, liver, kidney, breast (in postmenopausal women), gallbladder, pancreas, and some parts of the stomach, ovary and esophagus. Obesity also raises the risk for developing advanced prostate cancer, according to Dr. Anne McTiernan with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Wash. 

But the good news is that some of these so-called “obesity-related” cancers can be prevented. It’s never too late to reduce your risk for these cancers. When researchers followed people who intentionally lost weight, they discovered that weight loss reduced risk for breast and other cancers, particularly in women. 

Tiermann and colleagues conducted a series of clinical studies, assigning people by chance to weight loss diets, exercise programs, or control groups. They found that reducing weight through either diet or exercise significantly lowers the following cancer risk factors: 

–Estrogens and testosterone, which are risk factors for breast and endometrial cancers. 

–Inflammation-related proteins, which increase risk for colon and other cancers. 

–Proteins that control growth of blood vessels. By lowering these, tumors would have less nourishment to grow. 

–Insulin, glucose, and related metabolic factors, which if left unchecked, cause overgrowth of many cells including tumor cells 

–Oxidative stress, which results in normal cells being attacked, possibly inciting a cell to turn cancerous. 

–Proteins made in fat tissue, which have been associated with increased cancer risk. 

The amount of weight needed was not high — losing just 5 percent of starting weight had a big effect. So, for a person weighing 200 pounds at the start of the study, losing 10 pounds produced a beneficial effect. 

The diet was simple — counting calories and reducing fat intake. Researchers found that participants who wrote down everything they ate, prepared their own meals, and didn’t skip meals lost the greatest amount of weight. They also found that exercise by itself produced little weight loss, but that regular, moderate-intensity aerobic exercise provided additional weight loss benefits when added to the diet program. 

The bottom line? It’s never too late to make health-improving changes. Start with a goal of losing 10 pounds. You might just dodge the cancer bullet. 


We’re all looking for that quick recipe to get a healthy dinner on the table for the family. Try this Chicken Stir-Fry recipe from Tufts University. 

Orange Sesame Chicken Stir-Fry 

1/2 cup orange juice 

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons reduced sodium soy sauce 

1 teaspoon sesame oil 

1/2 teaspoon honey 

1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste 

8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast halves or chicken tenders, trimmed and cut into thin slices 

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch 

3 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided 

1 1/2 cups frozen pepper stir-fry vegetables (onions bell peppers) 

1 tablespoons minced ginger 

2 teaspoons minced garlic 

2 cups frozen broccoli florets 

1/4 cup water 

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds 

Combine orange juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey and hot pepper sauce in a glass measure. Place chicken in medium bowl or shallow glass dish. Add 2 tablespoons of the orange juice mixture; toss to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, add cornstarch to remaining orange juice mixture; mix with a fork or whisk until smooth. Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat until hot. Drain the chicken and add to the pan; stir-fry until lightly browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add remaining 1 teaspoon vegetable oil to skillet. Add pepper stir-fry vegetables, ginger and garlic; stir-fry until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add broccoli and stir for a few seconds. Add the 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook until broccoli is heated through and tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Push vegetables to perimeter of pan. Stir reserved marinade to redistribute cornstarch; add to pan. Cook, stirring sauce in center, until sauce boils and thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir vegetables toward center of skillet and add reserved chicken. Cook, stirring, until heated through, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serves 2 (1 1/4 cup) servings. Serve over brown rice if desired. 

Per serving: 350 calories, 30 g protein, 20 g carbohydrate, 12 g sugars, 15 g fat, 3 g fiber, 570 mg sodium. 

Diet Foods That Are Not as Healthy as You Think

When you want to start eating healthier or are interested in choosing a diet plan, things can quickly get confusing. The internet is full of “eat this, not that” articles backed up by professionals who argue that their diet or definition of “healthy” is correct. Differing opinions, contradictory research, and the latest diet fads make it almost impossible for an average person to tell what’s actually healthy and what’s just part of the latest diet craze.

To start, turn to the basics by learning about those diet foods that most people perceive as healthy, but aren’t.


1. Protein bars

Protein bars seem healthy, but many are not. | iStock.com

You probably think you’re pretty smart when you pull out an energy bar rather than indulge in morning donuts at the office. Before you get too smug, keep in mind that many protein bars have a nutritional profile similar to that of a candy bar. Seriously. While their packaging makes them look healthy with lofty claims about whole-grain content, organic certifications, and high levels of pure protein, many protein bars are packed with sugar. Some bars have an ingredient list of over 50 ingredients and upwards of 30 grams of sugar, which is more than the sugar content in some candy bars. Read the label and choose bars that have low sugar content and minimal ingredients.

Losing weight gets personal: Combining diet and behavioral …

Over the years, Robert Kushner has seen many obese patients get “tripped up” trying to keep pounds off because they rely on fast food, juggle too many tasks and dislike exercise.

So Kushner, an obesity expert, began helping patients plan diet and physical activity around their lifestyles and habits.

“We don’t necessarily put people on any specific diet; it really gets to what is their life, what are their struggles,” he said. “We believe obesity care can’t be inconsistent with culture, family or how you lead your life.”

He recently suggested that a patient split meals with his wife when they dined out, rather than each having large portions or avoiding restaurants entirely. When the man said he was uncomfortable sharing a meal with his wife when the couple was out with friends, Kushner said to do it anyway.

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