Category Archives: Obesity


r7_brainatrophyalzMRIs of normal and atrophying brains Photo credit Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research

Numerous factors determine which people will develop Alzheimer’s disease and which won’t.  Factors such as age, family history and gender are beyond our control.  Those factors within our control are the pillars of a healthy lifestyle—exercise, good nutrition, an appropriate weight.

The factors that assure our physical health have the same effect on assuring our mental health.

Here are 5 steps to follow to keep Alzheimer’s at bay:

1.  Maintain a healthy weight by cutting back on calories and increasing exercise if you need to lose a few pounds.

2.  Measure your waistline.  A National Institutes of Health panel recommends women maintain a waist measurement of no more than 35 inches and men measure no more than 40 inches.

3.  Eat mindfully.  Eat heartily of colorful, vitamin-packed fruits and vegetables while cutting down on calories from sweets, sodas and refined grains.  Avoid unhealthy fats and mindless snacking.  Pay attention to portion size.

4.  Exercise regularly to control weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.   Walk briskly (4 mph) for 2.5 to 5 hours weekly, or jog (6 mph) for half that time.

5.  Monitor important health numbers.  Ask your doctor about your cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and blood sugar levels and make sure you keep them in healthy ranges.

Source:  Harvard Medical School Healthbeat, August 10, 2013




Christina Shay, PhD of the University of Oklahoma, and her team of researchers studied the data on 4,166 adults, ages 45 to 84, who were initially free of cardiovascular disease.

Over a period of five years, women who drank two or more sugary drinks daily were more likely to increase waist size and gain weight.  They were also more likely to develop high triglyceride levels and impaired fasting glucose than women who consumed less than one sugary drink per day.

Unhealthy changes in heart-disease risk factors were observed, regardless of changes in weight.  Not all women whose waist size increased were gaining weight.

Shay said, “Most people assume that individuals who consume a lot of sugar-sweetened drinks have an increase in obesity, which in turn, increases their risk for heart disease and diabetes.  While this does occur, this study showed that risk factors for heart disease and stroke developed even when we accounted for whether or not the women gained weight.”

The same results weren’t seen in men drinking sweetened beverages.  “Women exhibit lower energy requirements overall and they may be at elevated risk for . . . cardiovascular risk factors when a greater proportion of calories is consumed in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages,” Shay explained.

Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, reports, “This study adds to the data we already have that people should displace sugar-sweetened beverages with non-caloric beverages, preferably water.”

Sources: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, July 8, 2013         Study presented at meeting of the American Heart Association       


19.  Bottled Water
  It’s a bad idea, anyway you look at it.  It’s more expensive than the same thing coming out of your tap, which may be more pure.  The bottles consume exorbitant amounts of fossil fuel to make the bottles and then transport them.  They contribute to both the Pacific Garbage Dump and to the North Atlantic Garbage Dump.

If you have well water that is off-flavor or if you have an infant who needs to drink safe water, buy jugs of distilled water at big discount stores.  A gallon costs somewhere between $.79 and $.99, considerably cheaper than one bottle of water.

20.  Spice Mixes  Check the label, and you’re likely to find that the first ingredient is salt followed by “herbs and spices.”  Then check the internet for recipes for whatever spice mix you’re interested in and make your own from what you probably have in your pantry.

21.  Powdered Iced Tea Mixes or Prepared Flavored Iced Tea  Both are rip off$ full of sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup.  To make a quart of iced tea, use 8 bags of black tea or 10 bags of herbal, green or white tea.  You may want to skip the sugar all together and add fruit juice instead.

22.  Salad Kits  Washed and bagged greens cost about three times as much as buying the same amount of loose lettuce.  Even more expensive is the kit that includes a few croutons and a small bag of dressing.  Make your croutons out of toasted stale bread and your own salad dressing using extra virgin olive oil, proved to facilitate absorption of more vitamins and minerals from the salad than other oils.

23.  Individual Servings of Anything  Way too expensive.  Buy the large bag or box of chips or cookies or crackers and parcel them out in individual, reusable storage bags.

24.  Trail Mix  Again, an overpriced convenience at $10 a pound.  Make your own with a 1-pound can of dry roasted peanuts, 1 pound of raisons, a handful of almonds, dried fruit and candy coated chocolate.   Or substitute your own favorites.

25.  Snack or Lunch Packs  They cost from $2.50 to $4.00 and contain only pennies worth of actual edible, salt-filled ingredients.

26.  Pre-formed Meat Patties  Much more expensive than the 10 seconds it takes to form a patty from bulk meat and put it on the grill.  As most of the recent beef recalls because of e. coli have involved pre-made frozen patties, it makes more sense to make your own.

27.  Gourmet Ice Cream  Way too expensive at $6 a half-gallon.  Either wait till it’s on sale or buy a less expensive brand and garnish with your own bits of chocolate or crushed cookies.

SOURCE:   Reader’s Digest Slide Show


A sudden change in temperature in your mouth when eating something cold will trigger brain freeze, an intense 30-second headache.  When something cold touches the roof of the mouth, blood vessels in the head dilate because the chilled nerve center over-reacts in trying to warm up the brain.

And because sensory circuits don’t always correctly identify an afflicted area, people experience the pain from the roof of their mouths in their foreheads as a referral pain. Some persons are so sensitive to brain freeze that just stepping out into a very cold climate triggers the reaction.

For the majority of us who experience the pain only when eating ice cream, here are some tips to avoid and minimize the pain:

1.  Eat ice cream slowly to break the cycle of sudden chilling and warming in the mouth.

2.  Keep your mouth cold while you’re eating something cold.

3.  Keep cold foods toward the side of the mouth rather than up against the hard palate in the roof of your mouth.

4.  If you sense an ice cream headache forming, use your tongue to take the chill off the hard palate.

5.  Finally, limit your intake of ice cream.  It’s loaded with sugar and fats and can lead to obesity and heart disease.

SOURCE:   Dr Andrew Weil’s Tip of the Day, August 3, 2013 Chemistry


16181270-baking-goods-breadWhole grains are a gut’s best friend.

British researchers at Imperial College (IC) in London found a 17% lower risk of colorectal cancer among those who consumed just an extra three daily servings of whole grains.

Nicola McKeown, PhD and director of Tuft’s Friedman School’s Nutritional Epidemiology Program, says, “Previous observational studies have seen improved health outcomes in people consuming, on average three or more servings of whole grains—for instance, reduced cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes risk and some cancers.”

Dagfinn Aune, PhD of IC, and colleagues conducted the largest analysis ever of fiber consumption and colorectal cancer.  They pooled results from 25 prior studies totaling some 2,000,000 participants and found that for each 5 slices of whole-wheat bread, cancer occurrence dropped 10%.

Whole grains contain all essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed.  If the grain has been cracked, crushed, rolled, extruded and/or cooked, the food product delivers the same rich balance of nutrients that are found in its original grain seed.

The Whole Grains Council lists these sources as generally accepted whole grain foods and flours:  Amaranth, Barley, Buckwheat, Corn, including whole cornmeal and popcorn, Millet, Oats, including oatmeal, Quinoa, Rice, both brown and colored, Rye, Sorghum, aka Milo, Teff, Triticale, Wheat, including varieties such as spelt, emmer, faro, einkorn, Kamut, durum and forms such as bulgur, cracked wheat and wheatberries, and Wild rice.

Aune observed, “Although we did not find an association between fiber from fruit and vegetables and colorectal cancer in this analysis, we have previously shown a protective effect for intake of fruit and vegetables.”

“Most people are consuming refined grain foods and missing out on the fiber and nutrients concentrated in whole grains,” says McKeown.  “So, increasing consumption of whole grains into one’s daily diet is important.

“The first step is to replace some of those existing refined grains with whole-grain equivalents—for example, brown rice for white rice, whole-wheat or whole-rye bread for white bread, whole-wheat pasta for regular pasta, and avoid refined grain products high in sugar and fat.”

Sources: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, July 1, 2013     Study published in British Medical Journal


imagesPhoto Credit CBS News

The Center for the Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) awarded the title of Unhealthiest Meal to Long John Silver for taking a healthful fish and converting it into a fatty, salty “heart attack on a hook.”

CSPI executive director Michael F Jacobson reports that the Big Catch contains 33 grams of trans fat, which is 16.5 times the American Heart Association recommends as the daily limit fats for a 2000-calorie diet.

But wait—there’s more:  19 grams of saturated fat, 3700 milligrams of sodium and a whopping 1320 calories.

And the runners up are . . . .

2.  IHOP’s Country Fried Steak and Eggs, boasting 1700 calories, 3000 milligrams of sodium and 23 grams of saturated fat.  CSPI says it’s the nutritional equivalent of five egg McMuffins covered in 10 packets of sugar.

3.  Smoothie King’s Smoothie with 1460 calories contains more added sugar in one drink than someone on a 2000-calorie diet should consume in more than three days.

4.  Johnny Rocket’s Bacon Cheddar Double weighs in at 1770 calories, 50 grams of fat and 2,380 milligrams of sodium.  Add sweet potato fries and a Big Apple Shake and you’ll have a 3500-calorie lunch.

5.  Five Guys’ fries contain more calories than a burger:  1500 calories and over 70 grams of fat.

6.  Cheesecake Factory’s Bistro Shrimp Pasta dinner has a whopping 3120 calories with 89 grams of saturated fat—the equivalent of six Big Macs.

7.  Cheesecake Factory’s Crispy Chicken Costoletta packs 89 grams of saturated fat and 2720 milligrams of sodium into 2610 calories.  It has as many calories and twice the saturated fat of an entire KFC 12-piece Original Recipe bucket.

8.  Maggiano’s Little Italy’s Veal Porterhouse offers 2710 calories, 45 grams of saturated fat and 3700 milligrams of sodium, more than twice the amount of daily recommended intake for someone on a 2000-calorie diet.

9.  Chili’s Full Rack of Baby Back Ribs has 6490 milligrams of sodium—nearly three teaspoons of salt.  The American Heart Association recommends no more than 1500 milligrams of sodium daily.

10.  Maggiano’s Little Italy’s Chocolate Zuccotto Cake contains 1820 calories and 62 grams of saturated fat.  That’s the equivalent of an entire Entenmann’s Chocolate Fudge Cake, according to CSPI.

Source:  Discovery News, July 8, 2013


ptg01194716Meat and poultry are sources of high-quality protein and vitamins and minerals, but research shows that animal-protein-centered meals are not healthful.   Numerous studies link meat-centered diets to a higher risk of cancer, particularly breast and colon cancer—especially when the meat is processed into bacon, ham, smoked sausages, etc.

As a general rule, it’s best to shift toward a plant-based diet.  When you do eat meat and poultry, limit the portion to about 3 ounces, the size of a deck of cards.

Strategies for consumers who want to limit the saturated fat content of meat:

For the leanest cuts, buy “round” or “loin” cuts of beef, pork and lamb, cuts such as top round, bottom round, top sirloin, and tenderloin.

Buy USDA “Choice” grade meats, which have less fat and marbling for grilling or roasting.  Buy “Select” grade meats, the leanest grade for stews or to marinate.  “Prime” grade meats have the most marbling, meaning they are the most tender because they are the fattest.  And remember that unlike beef, pork isn’t marbled.  Its fat sits in discreet chunks so you can cut it off before eating.

Buy ground beef that’s at least 90% lean.

Buy ground turkey breast as a substitute for ground beef or pork, but avoid ground turkey—it contains fattier dark meat and skin.

Pay extra for special labels, such as “grass-fed” and “no antibiotics/hormones,” only if the designations have significance for you and if there are regulations to support their integrity.

Sources:  University of CA, Berkeley Special Summer Issue, Wellness Letter, 2013