More Money Spent in Restaurants than in Groceries this March

According to the Commerce Department, this March, consumer spending was higher in restaurants than in grocery stores for the first time ever. This is especially true for the younger population, since dining out is seen as a social event. This trend could be dangerous, since calorie and portion control is much harder to do away from home. Additionally, alcoholic intake is higher in bars and restaurants than in the home, leading to a wide range of possible health problems in the future.

Stress Linked To Teens Being Overweight

A new study published in Preventive Medicine  found that family stressors, specifically financial problems, a mother’s poor health, and family disruption, may increase teens’ obesity and being overweight. Boys and girls responded differently; boys weight increased more when the stressors involved their mother’s poor health, while girls weight status was linked more with finances and family disruption.

Most weight programs focus on diet and exercise, and do not take stress or family situation into consideration. This study shows that these programs may need to be broader and include more social services, such as helping families find access to mental health programs, financial assistance or family counseling.

Ginger

What is ginger and where is it found?

Ginger is an herb with numerous therapeutic qualities including the ability to decrease inflammation. It has antioxidant properties and has been shown to be effective in alleviating gastrointestinal distress. The stem (rhizome) can be used fresh, dried, powdered, or as a juice or oil. Not only is ginger used as a medicine, but ginger is also used as a spice and as a flavoring agent in the food and drink industry. Additionally, ginger is often an ingredient in fragrances and cosmetics.
What are the benefits?

Ginger is used to treat morning sickness, motion sickness, dizziness, osteoarthritis, and nausea and vomiting after surgery and from cancer treatment. Ginger is also utilized for decreased appetite, stomach upset, colic, flatulence, and the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections. Some people take ginger to treat chest and back pain, menstrual pain, muscle soreness, and migraine headaches. Topically, the juice can be used to treat thermal burns while the oil is used as an analgesic.

 

Are there interactions with food, medications or herbal supplement?

Caution should be taken with medications that slow blood clotting, like warfarin. Additionally, there may be minor interactions with antidiabetes drugs and medications for high blood pressure. Consult with a doctor before starting ginger.

 

Are there side effects?

Side effects are rare but may include abdominal discomfort, heartburn, diarrhea, mouth irritation, and drowsiness.

The Skinny on Stress

Have you ever tried to lose weight and found it impossible….even when your diet was perfect and you were exercising like a madman? Well, that’s because weight is not always all about the calories. Sometimes, other factors in our lives, like stress and sleep, affect our ability to lose weight and stay fit.

Stress is defined as your body’s way of responding to any kind of physical, emotional, or mental demand.  It is any real or perceived threat to your mind or body.  When our bodies are stressed, our sympathetic nervous system slows everything down. Our metabolism decreases, which increases our hunger and increases fat storage Further, blood sugar levels increases and because food isn’t moving properly, we may experience reflux or
constipation

Stress also causes hormonal imbalances that affect weight status. It decreases testosterone, which is related to muscle loss and fat increase. Additionally, it increases cortisol, otherwise known as the “stress hormone.”  Cortisol is responsible for stimulating insulin and effecting blood sugar levels,  which affects fat and carbohydrate metabolism.  Levels of cortisol vary at different times of the day. It is usually highest in the morning to increase appetite and energy levels and lowest at midnight to help sleep and repair.  During psychological and physical stress, the normal amount of cortisol in the blood is disrupted and may promote weight gain, especially around the abdomen. This fat around the midsection is typically linked to increased diabetes and heart disease. Increased cortisol is also responsible for increasing cravings for unhealthy food, especially carbohydrates. Increased carbohydrate intake increases insulin, which then stores fat. Additionally, cortisol may decrease sensitivity to leptin, a hormone that makes you feel full. Therefore, increased cortisol is dangerous in 2 ways: it decreases metabolism and increases hunger…both contributing to weight gain.

The most important thing you can do to decrease your stress levels is learn to relax! Relaxing increases your metabolism, increases your insulin sensitivity and helps you lose weight.  You can train your body to relax through yoga, meditation, prayer, hypnosis, deep breathing, mindfulness, acupuncture and saunas or steam baths.  Adequate sleep is necessary to decrease stress level as a lack of sleep is linked to an increase in cortisol levels. Exercise is also great for stress because it helps the body relax while burning calories. Physical activity helps to keep insulin and blood sugar in control.

Diet is another key factor to controlling stress and weight.  In order to decrease insulin production and eventually reduce cortisol levels, it is important to keep your blood sugar levels steady by eating a balanced diet.  Never skip breakfast and try to consume six small meals a days with a variety of foods.   Avoid refined sugars and simple carbohydrates, which increase insulin and contribute to stress inside the body. There are many supplements you can add to your diet which have been shown to help the stress response. These include B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, vitamin c, vitamin E, lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, ginseng, rhodiola, aswaganha, licorice, and passion flower extract.

Don’t get frustrated if you are having trouble reaching your ideal weight.  Take a closer look at how stress may be affecting you. If you use the above tips to help mange your stress levels, you may soon find yourself closer to reaching your weight loss goals.

Food Emulsifiers Linked to Obesity

Digestion and the immune response begin in the gut, and studies have shown that a healthy gut equals less inflammation throughout the body, which leads to better health and less obesity.  This is one of the reasons that  health experts have praised probiotics; they improve gut flora and keep the gut balanced. While it has been suspected that processed foods interfere with gut health, a new study in Nature confirms this by showing that the emulsifiers found in food may be contributing to micobiota disturbances, which cause an increased incidence of inflammatory bowel disease, obesity and metabolic syndrome. It is important to remember that what we eat may be just as important, if not more important, than how much we eat! The take home message is to stay away from processed foods as much as possible and eat a natural diet low in sugar. Eat natural!

Beta Alanine

What is Beta-alanine and where is it found?

Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid which can be made by the body. It is converted into carnosine in the body, which acts as an acid buffer by controlling the pH in cells. A high pH/acid accumulation in cells contributes to fatigue. Carnosine is also an anti-oxidant and anti-aging compound. Decreasing fatigue may contribute to increasing physical performance and exercise capacity.

What are the benefits?

Beta-alanine may improve athletic performance and build lean muscle mass, particularly during weight training and high-intensity exercise because it slows muscle fatigue.  It also may help improve performance and delay muscle fatigue of older adults and therefore decrease injury. Some studies show that beta-alanine may enhance the benefits of creatine combining the two supplements together may increase lean body mass and decrease body fat.

Are there interactions with food, medications or herbal supplement?

None.

Are there side effects?

Side effects are rare, but the most common side effect is parathesia, include flushing and tingling like pins and needles.

Heart and Sole

February is Heart Health Month, so it is a great time to think about eating foods that make your heart healthy! Fish, which contain omega-3 fatty acids, benefit the hearts of both healthy people and those with cardiovascular disease. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fish (especially fatty fish) twice a week. This is because fish is high in protein, low in saturated fat, and as stated before, is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating fish baked or broiled instead of fried is important since fried foods may cancel out the benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids.

 

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fatty acid with three common forms: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and ALA (alpha-linoleic acid). DHA and EPA are found in fish and seem to have the strongest health benefits. ALA is found in vegetable oils, flaxseed, walnuts and dark green leafy vegetables. Our bodies do not produce omega-3 fatty acids, so we must get them through our food. Omega 3 fatty acids are also sold as supplements over the counter.

Omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation throughout the entire body, including the blood vessels, where inflammation may lead to heart disease.  Omega-3’s also decrease the risk of arrythmias, decrease trigylcerides, lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting, decrease stroke, and slow the growth of plaque formation in the arteries.  They may also improve pain and stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis, decrease depression, decrease dementia, and decrease ADHD.

It is important to note that some fish contain high levels of mercury, PCBs and other environmental contaminants. Fish that are larger and predatory, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish have higher levels of these substances. Fish with lower levels of mercury include sole, shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish. Eat a variety of fish, limiting the amount of predatory fish, to keep your mercury intake low.  Pregnant women and children should be especially careful and avoid eating fish high in mercury since there may be adverse affects.

If you find you are not eating the recommended amount of fish each week, omega-3’s are available at  http://wywnutrition.com/supplement-essentials/.

Fish is easy to prepare and can be made in a variety of ways, so be sure to get your minimum two servings a week. Your heart will thank you!

BCAAs

What are BCAAs and where are they found?

BCAAs stand for branched-chain amino acids, which include the amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine. These amino acids are essential nutrients found in proteins, such as meat, dairy and legumes.  They are considered “branched-chain” because of their chemical structure. BCAAS appear to stimulate protein synthesis and reduce muscle breakdown. They are unique because they are the only amino acids used directly by the muscle for energy during exercise, and therefore, they can be depleted quickly.

What are the benefits?

BCAAs are used to improve exercise performance and reduce the breakdown of muscles during intense exercise. They are also used to prevent fatigue, decrease muscle soreness, improve concentration, and to treat various medical conditions, such as anorexia, cancer, liver disease, mania, ALS, McArdle’s Disease, spinocerebellar degeneration, tardive dyskinesia, and kidney failure in elderly patients.

Are there interactions with food, medications or herbal supplement?

BCAAs may interact with diabetes medications because they may decrease blood sugar.  They also may interact with Levodopa, steroids, and diazoxide. Consult a physician when taking any of these medications before starting BCAAs.

Are there side effects?

BCAAs have few side effects; sometimes they may cause fatigue or loss of coordination. Consult a doctor before taking BCAAs if you are pregnant, have ALS, or chronic alcoholism. BCAAs should be stopped 2 weeks prior to any scheduled surgery.

It Matters What Men Think

A new study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science showed there is a link between women’s beliefs about what men look for in females and how satisfied women are with their own bodies.The research showed that that women were happier with their own weight when they were told that men preferred large-bodied women.  These women were had a better body image, higher levels of self-esteem, ate better, were more active and had and lower levels of depression. Many women believe that men desire extremely thin model-like women like those portrayed in fashion magazines and the media. This study shows that despite the popular media, women can increase their self-esteem if they believe that the men they are attracted to aren’t comparing them to a Barbie Doll and actually prefer a woman with some substance.