Don’t Turn Up the Thermostat!

This winter has been especially cold in the Northeast. Everyone is looking for ways to keep warm and to stay cozy. However, recent Dutch research shows that our attempts to stay warm may be thwarting our weight loss efforts.  A Dutch researcher found that reducing external temperature causes the human body to burn more calories in order to keep up body heat. So, adaptation to the cold increases energy expenditure.  Colder temperatures brings on shivering, which is a biological response that increases body temperatures to protect the body from hypothermia.  However, shivering also occurs in milder cold temperatures; humans experience non-shivering thermogenesis (NST), which increases heat output, but without the risk of freezing to death.  Therefore,  it seems that keeping the thermostat down in homes and offices may be a great tool to increase metabolism and aid in weight loss. Of course, continue to diet and exercise…but you may save both pounds and dollars if you keep the temperature in your home a little lower!

Exercise of the Week: Straight Leg Deadlift

Proper form is very important with the deadlift. Avoid rounding the back, and don’t bounce at the bottom of the movement.  Taking a shoulder width, overhand grip on the barbell, bend forward at the hip and keep the knees and back straight until the hamstrings become tight. Next, extend at the hip and return to a standing position.

Chocolate, Berries and Tea May Protect Against Diabetes

Flavonoids are compounds found in many fruits, vegetables, and beverages that have antioxidant properties. There are over 4000 flavonoids, including anthocyanins and flavones.  A recent study in the Journal of Nutrition found that a high intake of anthocyanins and flavones, especially in berries, tea, and chocolate, was associated with lower insulin resistance and better glucose regulation.  This study also showed lower chronic inflammation from eating these food groups. It is unclear exactly how much of these compounds is necessary to protect against diabetes, but people who ate these foods were less likely to develop the disease.  Don’t go out and binge on chocolate or red wine – berries and green tea are definitely better choices. However, when you have a sweet tooth, definitely choose chocolate over cheesecake!

Sensa Based on Faulty Science

The FTC just ordered Sensa Products to return $26.5 million dollars to consumers since the company used faulty science in order to market their weight loss supplement to the public.  Sensa is a powder that you sprinkle on your food; the company claimed it was a safe and effective weight loss tool based on 25 years of scientific research on the science of smell and taste.

Sensa was supposed to work by enhancing the aroma of the food in each bite thereby activating the part of the brain that regulates appetite and making you to feel full faster. This would then cause you to eat less and lose weight.

Sensa is not admitting wrongful conduct for deceptive advertising. But the company did state that it would change its advertising campaign to complywith the FTC.

Just remember that there is no quick fix and no substitute for a proper diet and exercise. If it seems too easy, it probably doesn’t work!!!

Fast Food is Still Unhealthy

Despite the new food choices and attempt to offer healthier options at fast food restaurants, research shows that fast food is no healthier than it was 14 years ago.

Menus from 1997-1998 and 2009-2010 from McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, KFC, Arby’s Jack in the Box, and Dairy Queen were analyzed to evaluate the nutritional quality. Researchers used the US Dept of Agriculture’s Healthy Eating Index to determine the nutrient contents. The Healthy Eating Index has a maximum of 100 points. Based on the menu, the scores only modestly increased from 45-48 in that time period.  Additionally, scores for milk and sodium decreased and were unchanged for fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.  On a positive note, scores improved slightly for meat, saturated fat and calories from fat and sugar.

From the American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Don’t Go Food Shopping When You’re Hungry!

Evidence published in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that shoppers who went to the grocery store on an empty stomach selected more high calorie foods than those shoppers who were more sated.  Both sets of shoppers purchased a similar amount of food, but those who had been fasting for 5 hours chose many more high calorie products. The number of low calorie foods selected was the same.  This may be related to increased brain activation in areas associated with reward.

Most Americans Not Meeting Exercise Guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only 20.6% of Americans are meeting the national guidelines for both aerobics and strength training.  The current exercise guidelines recommend a minimum per week of 2.5 hours of moderate intensity aerobics in addition to a minimum of two days of muscle-strenghtening activities on all major muscle groups. The study showed that 51.6% of Americans are meeting only the aerobic guidelines while 29.3% of Americans are meeting only the strength training recommendations.  Additionally, women, Hispanics, the elderly, and obese adults were less likely to follow the exercise recommendations. There were also variations based on state.

Regular activity has been shown to lower health risks, including controlling weight and decreasing depression and the onset of diabetes and heart disease. The results were published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Elbow Pain Can Be Linked to Posture

The cause of elbow pain, commonly called “tennis elbow,” is often difficult to diagnose because there are so many factors involved. In fact, only about 5% of cases of tennis elbow are caused by playing tennis.  Further, in 65% of the cases there is nothing wrong with the elbow at all.  Elbow pain can be caused by any activity with repetitive wrist motion, by continuous computer use, and by excessive lifting and carrying.  Radiating neck pain can also cause elbow pain, even if the neck doesn’t hurt.  Elbow pain is usually due to prolonged irritation over and over for a long period of time, like repeatedly sitting with poor posture hunched over a desk.  To help prevent elbow pain, make sure to incorporate gentle stretching and postural awareness into your daily regimen.  To improve postural awareness, do chest stretches, external rotation, and shoulder retractions.

Melatonin

What is melatonin and where is it found?

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the brain, which controls sleep and wake cycles. It can be found in very small amounts in some foods such as meats, grains, fruits, and vegetables. It is also sold as a dietary supplement.

What are the benefits of melatonin?

Melatonin is used as a sleep aid to treat insomnia and jet lag. It is also used to treat shift-work disorder, circadian rhythm disorders in the blind, and nicotine withdrawal, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and decreasing cluster headaches. Some people use it for Alzheimer’s disease, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, epilepsy, some cancers, and neuropathy.

Are there interactions with food, medications or herbal supplement and melatonin?

Melatonin may decrease blood pressure, so it should not be taken with hypotensive supplements or medications. It should also not be taken with anticoagulant/antiplatelet supplements or medications because melatonin may increase the risk of bleeding in some people. There are also possible interactions with caffeine, St. John’s Wort, sedative medications and herbs, anticonvulsants, Echinacea, and vitamin B12.

Are there side effects and melatonin?

Melatonin is well tolerated but may cause daytime drowsiness, headaches, and dizziness.  Before taking melatonin, consult a healthcare provider if you have diabetes, depression, high or low blood pressure, epilepsy/seizure disorder, a bleeding or blood clotting disorder or if you are using any medicine to prevent organ transplant rejection.

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