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A “Sleep Diet” Is the Number One Way to Your Healthiest Body Yet

This is the diet that has absolutely nothing to do with eating — but that’s proven to be way more effective in getting you healthy than any other regimen.

According to a study published in The Lancet, sleep is crucial for metabolic function and hormone stability. Hormones and metabolism play a pivotal role in health, affecting everything from diabetes prevention to heart disease risk.

When participants’ sleep was restricted, they experienced an increase in stress hormones and a decrease in the speed of their metabolism.

Another study found that a lack of sleep contributed to a sharp decrease in leptin — the hormone responsible for regulating fat storage. They also witnessed an increase in ghrelin — a hormone that increases appetite.

If you’re not sleeping enough, you’re obviously going to be tired. Your body is going to get stressed and start sending signals to your body to put on weight. The weight, from your body’s perspective, is there as a reservoir of energy. When you feel tired, it’s suspicious that it might need it.

You don’t have to cut the carbs off your hamburger, start drinking “wellness shots” that taste more like grass than juice, or choke down harsh sips of apple cider vinegar to foster a better relationship with your body.

All you have to do is simple: Sleep.

Not before you eat, not excessively, not five times a day, or whatever other wild ideas are ricocheting through your mind.

Just sleep enough. And sleep well.

Of course, this is easier said than done. That’s where the concept of the diet comes in. Diets are often seen as temporary — a short-term set of rules to carry you through a healthy change or two that hopefully sticks after it’s over, when the clock strikes midnight and boom you can eat pasta again.

With food, diets don’t work. They’re often extreme, restrictive, and leave you drooling desirously over a cupcake you never even blinked at before. That doesn’t happen on a sleep diet. You don’t crave consciousness when you start to get enough sleep. If you’re somehow taking it to the extreme (i.e., getting too much sleep) you’ll just wake up. It’s the equivalent of accidentally eating a doughnut if you’ve gone too far and prohibited dessert.

The sleep diet, if done effectively, works. It’s just not easy. Here’s how to do it:

1. Set a time frame for the diet. One week is a good place to start.

2. Set your own rules. How much sleep do you want to get each night? Figure out the bedtime you would need to follow to accomplish the desired number of hours. Write it down.

3. For the time frame of your diet, stick to your bedtime. That’s the only rule to which this diet adheres. It’s easy to remember, but surprisingly difficult to do.

But before you say, “No, I can’t do that,” think about it for a second. Is it any harder than a typical diet? With those, you often have to eliminate entire sectors of your life. Happy hour with your coworkers? No drinking. Birthday cake with the kids for their birthday? Not for you!

Why do we perceive sleep as more extreme than those other restrictions — restrictions that aren’t even all that good for you?

Sleep, on the other hand, is great for you. With a few extra hours of rest under your belt, you’re likely to gravitate naturally towards your healthiest weight — and feel much better, too.

If you’re having trouble actually falling asleep once you’ve turned the lights out, try one of these natural remedies to help you sleep well.

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Jamie-Lynn Sigler Reveals How She Changed Her Diet for Her Son: He ‘Was Always Looking at My Plate’

Jamie-Lynn Sigler admits she didn’t have the best eating habits growing up.

In the current issue of PEOPLE, the Entourage and Sopranos star opens up about how, as a mom, she had to go against the grain of her own childhood palate for the sake of her son Beau Kyle, 4 this month.

“I would drink a lot of soda and eat sugary things,” explains Sigler, 36. “Vegetables and fruits were never things I reached for.”

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RELATED VIDEO: Jamie-Lynn Sigler Opens Up About Baby Bedtime Battles that End in Tears


But about a year after welcoming Beau with husband Cutter Dykstra in August 2013, the actress realized her son was looking to her for guidance on how to model his own food choices.

He “was always looking at my plate to see what I was eating, so I made a conscious effort to change,” Sigler tells PEOPLE.

FROM PEN: Former Bachelorette Deanna Stagliano is Already Dreading her Infant Son’s Future Wedding


RELATED: Jamie-Lynn Sigler on Parenting with Multiple Sclerosis: My Son “Gives Me a Reason to Look Forward to Every Single Day”

The star — who announced last month she’s expecting a second son — says Beau likes to help, so she found something they could make together: smoothies.

“I just hold the blender and he throws the ingredients in,” says Sigler. “Beau feels so involved and has a nutrient-dense, filling meal before he goes to school — and I have some of it too!”

For more from other celeb parents about fun activities to do with your kids, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

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Animals at the Philadelphia Zoo the latest beneficiaries of PECO’s tree trimming maintenance program

PHILADELPHIA The twigs, leaves and branches collected as part of PECO’s preventable tree trimming program are headed to the Philadelphia Zoo where they will now be devoured by giraffes and other animals.

PECO and the Philadelphia Zoo have launched a new initiative dubbed the Philadelphia Zoo Browse Program, where PECO provides the Zoo with weekly deliveries of leaves, twigs and branches – collectively referred to as ‘browse’. The trimmings will serve as a portion of the animal’s daily dietary selection, and offer substantial nutrients and a variation to their normal food options.

The kickoff event featured remarks from Craig Adams, president and CEO of PECO, and Dr. Andrew J. Baker, COO of Philadelphia Zoo. Following the announcement, both men fed the giraffes fresh browse delivered by PECO.

Philadelphia Zoo currently houses 330 species of animals 40 of which has browse formulated into their diet, ranging from the eight ounce degu to the 1,750 pound giraffe. Animals that benefit from browse are gazelles, kangaroos, tortoises and numerous primates including the gorillas.

Vegetation growth causes about one-third of all electric outages, and PECO’s comprehensive vegetation management program is vital to safely keeping the lights on for our customers. The partnership will allow PECO to ship browse weekly – of what would have previously been turned into mulch – to Philadelphia Zoo.

Currently, the Zoo receives its browse from multiple partners throughout the region, including the Zoo’s own browse farm, Variety Club Camp; and Koala Browse, a Florida-based farm.

As the only corporate browse-providing partner of Philadelphia Zoo, PECO has contracted with Asplundh Tree Expert Company and assigned a dedicated crew manager who will coordinate the browse cut and delivery for the Zoo.

“We’re looking forward to continuing our longstanding partnership with Philadelphia Zoo, one of the area’s foremost conservation organizations, through our new Browse Program,” said Adams. “When trees and branches come in contact with overhead powerlines, they can cause extended outages. Now, we are not only providing a benefit to our customers, we are also creating a positive impact for the animals at one of the region’s most premier attractions.”

Incorporating browse into animals’ diets provides additional nutritional value including fiber, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. What’s more, browse allows the Zoo to offer foods that are more consistent with what animals would likely consume in the wild, which encourages natural behavior and provides organic enrichment as both mammals and reptiles eat the leaves, play with sticks, or peel bark off branches. Zoo animals experience healthier teeth and digestive tracts, improved cognitive function, increased activity levels, and enhanced overall wellbeing, as a result.

“We are happy to partner once again with PECO on the Zoo’s Browse Program,” says Vikram H. Dewan, president and CEO of Philadelphia Zoo. “Browse provides a valuable food supply for our animals by offering substantial nutrients, a high level of animal activity and a variation to their diets. It is a fantastic program and we are thankful to PECO for their participation.”

PECO has been a proud partner of Philadelphia Zoo since 1999 when they joined forces to create the reimagined PECO Primate Reserve, which shares stories of primates from around the world and helps spread the important message of how energy efficiency protects wildlife.

The PECO-Philadelphia Zoo partnership is just one of many steps PECO takes to give back to the community as a responsible corporate citizen. To learn more about PECO’s commitment to the communities it serves, visit www.peco.com/community.

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Pancreatic cancer and diet link: How THIS energy dense food could affect you

However, now experts have revealed food high in energy – the dietary energy density – can contribute to cancer risk.

Experts have said being overweight has been linked to thirteen types of cancer.

These include cancers of the breast, bowel, womb, oesophageal cancer, pancreatic, kidney, liver, upper stomach, gallbladder, ovarian, thyroid, myeloma, and meningioma – a type of brain tumour.

Experts found consuming high DED foods was linked to a ten per cent increase in obesity-related cancer.

How Netflix changed David Johnson’s diet

11:07 AM ET

GLENDALE, Ariz. — There’s a fad spreading through the NFL, and Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson is among the latest to pick it up: a plant-based diet.

After watching two food documentaries on Netflix, Johnson and his wife, Meghan, both adopted a plant-based diet about a month ago. Thus far, according to Johnson, an All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection a year ago, he feels better since (mostly) removing meat from his diet.

But he’s had to make slight alterations to his diet.

Johnson realized quickly as training camp began in late July that sticking with a strict plant-based diet caused him to lose more weight than he intended. He reported to training camp at 223 pounds, lighter than he had been in the past. His lower weight made him more agile, which Johnson said benefited him as a receiver, but he needed to maintain a certain weight to be effective, so he began adding meat in his meals.

By and large, he’s cut most meat out of his diet and has noticed he has more energy and less fatigue.

“It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be,” Johnson said. “I thought it would definitely be hard just because, as Americans, we’re taught to eat a whole bunch of meat. It’s not even just eating meat, it’s the portions. What I’ve learned is that we’re taught eating like 24 ounces of steak is a manly thing, when really you’re only supposed to eat 8 to 10 as a portion.”

Johnson changed his diet after watching two documentaries on Netflix: “What the Health” and “Forks Over Knives.” Both films expound on the benefits and virtues of a plant-based diet, using support from research papers and experts. Those documentaries, plus their own research, led the Johnsons to make the switch.

“We just kind of both did it at the same time,” David said.

Plant-based diets have spread throughout the NFL. Former Cardinals defensive tackle David Carter adopted a plant-based diet in 2014. According to the animal rights group PETA, at least five players have credited their switch to a plant-based lifestyle to seeing “What the Health.” Among the current NFL players known to have converted to either a completely or partially plant-based diet are Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, according to PETA.

Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu began eating a plant-based diet last season and lost 16 pounds, but the difficulty of sticking to the restrictions during road trips caused him to begin eating meat again. He felt better with a plant-based diet, he said, and he might try it again after the season.

Johnson curbed any concern about maintaining his caloric intake by shrinking the size of his meals and increasing their frequency. He now eats about six small meals a day instead of the three or four he had when he wasn’t following a plant-based diet. Between meals he snacks on nuts, mainly cashews.

“That’s another way to get my calories,” he said. “Some of that stuff also has protein in it.”

Johnson’s venture into the plant-based world given him a new perspective on meat and its effect on people. “We’ve learned that meat is bad for you,” he said. “But it’s really where you get the meat from and how much you eat of that meat in each sitting, because most Americans eat lunch, dinner, supper and it’s always meat and it’s always a huge portion. We’re just learning about that stuff.”

Can Your DNA Determine the Best Diet for You?

From fad diets to surgeries, Americans are constantly seeking the newest “cure” to what ails us.

In fact, we spend billions of dollars each year searching for this key to health and happiness.

The weight loss business alone spurs countless diet plans, books, apps, shakes, pills, and more.

It’s no wonder, then, that every time a new solution shows up on the health stage millions flock to it for answers and guidance.

Like many health and nutritional options before it, one of these newest solutions, DNA testing, is raising eyebrows.

DNA testing has been increasingly popular in recent years as a way to understand your genetics, your family history, and your origins.

A DNA diet?

But can these DNA tests be used for so much more?

What if, in addition to telling you where you’re from or that you’re related to a famous historical figure, your genes could be used to make you healthier today?

That’s exactly what Ahmed El-Sohemy, the founder and chief scientific officer of Nutrigenomix, says his product can do.

Nutrigenomix uses nutrigenomic testing to provide you detailed dietary information based on your DNA.

Nutrigenomics is the area of science that looks at the effects of food on gene expression. In other words, these tests can tell you how your unique set of 23 pairs of chromosomes determines what you should and shouldn’t eat.

“We have known for a long time that some individuals respond differently from others to the same foods, beverages, nutrients, and supplements they consume. That is, a one-size-fits-all approach to optimal nutrition is ineffective,” El-Sohemy told Healthline.

“We now know that genetic differences — variations in the sequence of a gene — can explain some of these different responses. We wanted to provide tests consisting of genetic markers related to several important lifestyle factors, including weight management and body composition, nutrient metabolism, eating habits, cardiometabolic health, food intolerances, and physical activity.”

Skeptics, however, say a DNA test might reveal gene variants, but they’re not a source of reliable nutritional advice.

“When companies use the nutrigenomics model for ‘food sensitivities,’ that’s when I get a bit hesitant to accept all the science based on individual screenings,” Stella Metsovas, a clinical nutritionist and author of “Wild Mediterranean,” told Healthline. “It’s still too complex of a science to apply overall, especially when lifestyle factors are concerned.”

How the DNA diet works

Some of these DNA tests use blood samples, but many products like El-Sohemy’s Nutrigenomix rely on saliva tests because they’re convenient.

Plus, human spit contains all the genetic material testers need to produce your detailed DNA nutritional map.

Once the sample is collected, the test is shipped back to the companies.

In several weeks, you’re sent a packet of information about your specific genetic markers — a guide to your nutritional DNA makeup.

“Clients are often surprised by the number of genetic markers available to guide dietary choices beyond macronutrients such as fat and protein,” El-Sohemy said. “We can determine what type of fat an individual is most likely to benefit from in terms of weight loss and cardiometabolic risk.”

Once you have the results, you can decide what you do with them.

Some companies, like Nutrigenomix, require clients to work with a doctor in order to interpret the results and apply them to their daily food choices.

“We believe that providing our service through a qualified healthcare professional is the most responsible and effective way to communicate this type of health information,” El-Sohemy said. “A healthcare practitioner — a doctor, dietitian, etc. — works alongside a client to interpret and communicate their individual test results. Together, they create goals to mitigate risk of nutrient deficiencies and optimize body composition. As one-size-fits-all approaches tend to be impractical, this approach allows a trained healthcare professional to work closely with their client to ensure that their dietary goals are met.”

If the results show you’re sensitive to starch, you might cut out potatoes, corn, and other starch-heavy foods.

If the results show you’re sensitive to saturated fat, you might limit your intake to lower your risk for cardiovascular health issues.

“Due to the variety and number of genes tested, clients can also prioritize which goals to address first, such as reducing sodium to lower their risk of high blood pressure. And once they are able to adopt these strategies successfully, new goals can be made based on other genetic risks they have,” El-Sohemy said.

Should you spend the money?

Unlike books or apps, nutritional DNA tests wear a hefty price tag.

Each test can set you back several hundred dollars, and you may need to partner with a doctor or genetic coach in order to decipher the results. That’s even more money out of pocket.

Athletes are among the many clients for these nutrigenomics companies. With a greater emphasis on athlete performance through dietary approaches, DNA nutrition tests can help athletes and coaches find new ways to maximize performance.

People facing mysterious dietary challenges are also turning to these tests.

When typical allergy tests and elimination diets provide no insight, these DNA-based nutrition tests may be a last-resort option for people looking for answers to undiagnosed problems.

Metsovas doesn’t believe the average person should be forking out the dough for these tests just yet, however.

“DNA companies refer to these tests as ‘personalized dietary advice,’ which stems from the theory that human needs vary considerably from diet to diet,” she said. “For example, ketosis might work wonders on Jane, helping regulate insulin levels and thereby [helping her with] losing weight, while maintaining lean muscle tissue. Susie might respond unfavorably due to various health factors such as hypothyroidism, an indication that there might be other issues in the body, including the microbiome.”

“The tricky part of the model is that your lifestyle plays a huge role on how your genes are expressed,” she added.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics said in a statement regarding these tests, “The use of nutrigenetic testing to provide dietary advice is not ready for routine dietetics practice.”

A study in the British Medical Journal found that people who knew their DNA-based health risks were no more likely to change their dietary behaviors.

For her part, Metsovas says a microbiome analysis is the way to go before you pick up a DNA kit.

However, this type of testing faces a great deal of skepticism by many in the medical community, too.

“Keep in mind this is a test for genetic modifiers of diet,” El-Sohemy said. “The test we developed does not diagnose or predict the likelihood of developing any disease. But, it does tell an individual how they respond to various aspects of their diet.”

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