Archive for the ‘Obesity’ Category

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Belly Fat Raises Risks From Heart Disease and Alzheimer’s Dementia

August 10, 2011
Belly Fat Dramatically Increases Heart Disease and Alzheimer's Disease Risks

Belly Fat Dramatically Increases Heart Disease and Alzheimer's Disease Risks

Researchers from the American Academy of Neurology publishing in the journal Neurology have released the result of a study showing that being overweight or obese in midlife significantly increases the risk of developing certain forms of dementia, including Alzheimer`s disease as we age. Worldwide this places 1.6 billion people at risk, including more than half of the US adult population.

Similar research reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that even small increases in body weight during midlife significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Both studies conclude you can dramatically lower your risk of heart disease and many forms of dementia by controlling excess weight and participating in regular exercise.

Overweight and Obese Linked to 80% Higher Risk of Dementia

Body Weight in Mid-Age Linked With Higher Rates of Dementia and Cognitive Decline

Body Weight in Mid-Age Linked With Higher Rates of Dementia and Cognitive Decline

Researchers examined more than 8,500 twins listed in the Swedish Twins Registry and monitored participants height and body weight over a period of 30 years. The twins were placed into groups based on their BMI (Body Mass Index) recorded during midlife. This information was compared with a diagnosis of dementia after reaching the age of 65.

The study determined that participants classified as overweight (BMI range of 25 to 30) and obese (BMI above 30) at midlife had an 80% increased risk of developing dementia, Alzheimer`s disease or vascular dementia (typically caused by mini strokes) compared to those with normal BMI. The researchers found that the study results confirm the growing body of evidence that controlling or reducing body weight in midlife can significantly reduce risk of dementia. The study author, Dr. Weili Xu concluded “This suggests that early life environmental factors and genetic factors may contribute to the link between midlife overweight and dementia.”

Excess Abdominal Fat Increases Risk of Developing Heart Disease by 50%

Excess Body Weight Can Double Risks From Heart Disease

Excess Body Weight Can Double Risks From Heart Disease

Modest weight gain in midlife is shown to play a critical role in developing cardiovascular disease. Scientists from the Mayo Clinic demonstrated that body fat accumulating around the abdomen increases the risk of heart disease and heart attack, even when BMI is in the normal range. Reviewing the results of five studies examining nearly 16,000 individuals with coronary artery disease, researchers found that those with fat stores around the middle were twice as likely to suffer a fatal cardiovascular event, compared with fat found in other body regions.

Researchers found that visceral fat is metabolically active and causes a storm of chemical messengers that fan the flames of systemic inflammation. White abdominal fat stores promote detrimental changes in healthy lipid ratios, blood pressure and blood sugar. Fat stored in other areas of the body such as the legs and buttocks don`t show a significant increase in risk from heart disease.

Extensive research has concluded the negative health consequences of excess body weight. Increased risk of dementia and heart disease can be added to the list of diseases including diabetes, stroke, kidney disease and respiratory conditions. In addition to controlling weight in early and midlife, it is important to limit calories from sugar (including high fructose corn syrup) and wheat food items to discourage fat accumulation around the midsection.

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HFCS Leads to Overweight Health Concerns

June 8, 2011
Fructose (HFCS) is not Metabolized Like Other Macronutrients

Fructose (HFCS) is not Metabolized Like Other Macronutrients

Fructose has been implicated as a driving force behind a number of chronic illnesses including metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Scientists have theorized that the fruit-based sweetener derived most commonly from corn is a primary mechanism that has fueled the obesity epidemic.

Fructose and its evil twin high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are used as inexpensive sweeteners in many processed foods, condiments, baked goods and snacks. Researchers at the Oregon Health & Science University publishing in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism demonstrate that fructose reacts differently than glucose in the brain causing chemical alterations that lead to increased body weight and obesity.

Brain Response to Fructose is Different Than Glucose

Fructose Influences the Brain to Consume More Calories

Fructose Influences the Brain to Consume More Calories

Researchers working with animal models know that the brain responds differently to a variety of different foods consumed, and that these responses have a strong influence on total calories eaten at each meal. Using new functional MRI technologies, scientists are able to examine electrical and chemical brain patterns that occur in response to consumption of different food groups (macronutrients such as fats, carbohydrates and proteins) and nutrients (from vitamins, minerals and antioxidant-rich polyphenol compounds).

The study involved pre and post meal MRI scans of nine individuals receiving an infusion of fructose, glucose or a saline solution. Researchers found no difference in brain activity in the hypothalamus, an area known to regulate food intake. Activity in the cortical brain control areas showed the opposite response from the sugar infusions. Activity was inhibited with the fructose solution and activated in the presence of glucose.

Fructose Does Not Cause Satiety Similar to Other Macronutrients

Cut Dietary Fructose to Lower Body Weight

Cut Dietary Fructose to Lower Body Weight

The cortical areas activated are important to determine how we respond to food taste and smell. The study showed that when glucose is consumed, a normal satiety response is triggered in the brain so we register caloric intake and can react with a satiety response. Fructose has virtually no effect on this automated feedback system we rely on to provide the `full` signal so we stop eating before over consuming.

The study authors found this to be conclusive evidence that fructose and its derivatives are a significant causative agent responsible for the rampant obesity plague affecting people around the world. In conclusion they write “For consumers, our findings support current recommendations that people be conscious of sweeteners added to their drinks and meals and not overindulge on high-fructose, processed foods.”

HFCS has been slowly creeping into the processed food supply over the past 40 years. Health-minded consumers and scientists have theorized that it should be blamed for a contributing role in overweight, morbidity and chronic disease. The best way to avoid high fructose corn syrup is to avoid all processed foods in favor of a raw, natural diet focused on vegetables, lean protein and healthy monounsaturated fats. Your reward will be a healthy, sustainable weight and dramatically lower risk of metabolic disease.

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Almonds Lower Diabetes Risk, Boost Weight Loss Efforts

March 9, 2011

(Article first published as Include Almonds to Lower Risk of Diabetes, Assist Weight Loss Efforts on Technorati.)

Almonds are Shown to Blunt the Effects of High Blood Sugar

Almonds are Shown to Blunt the Effects of High Blood Sugar

It’s hard to imagine that a natural food that tastes as good as an almond can have such a profound beneficial effect on health. Regular almond consumption is shown to lower the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease in part due to the high fiber content and concentration of monounsaturated fats.

Further research demonstrates that almonds contribute to accelerated fat metabolism and can reduce the incidence of overweight and obesity by influencing healthy blood glucose control and insulin response. Just a handful of almonds every day can improve your health profile and lower the risk of serious disease.

Almonds Help to Stabilize Blood Sugar Spikes

Almonds Improve Insulin Resistance, Lower Diabetes Risk

Almonds Improve Insulin Resistance, Lower Diabetes Risk

Post meal blood sugar spikes are known to contribute to the development of metabolic disorders including diabetes and initiate the chain of events that lead to cardiovascular disease. Any intervention that can help to minimize the post meal rush of blood sugar will reduce the risk from these conditions.

The results of a study conducted at the Loma Linda University’s School of Public Health and published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition shows how almond consumption can blunt the effect of high blood sugar, prevent insulin resistance and lower levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol. The study involved 65 prediabetic adults that were broken into two groups to determine the effect of almond consumption. The control group ate a healthy diet low in carbohydrates for 16 weeks and excluded all nuts. The intervention group consumed the same diet but included 20% of total calories from almonds.

Blood analysis showed that the almond group had significantly better insulin levels and improved markers for insulin resistance and beta-cell function. The study authors concluded that the high fiber content and unsaturated fats in almonds “help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Almonds in the Battle Against Obesity

Almonds Help to Satisfy Hunger, Assist Weight Loss Efforts

Almonds Help to Satisfy Hunger, Assist Weight Loss Efforts

Almonds are high in protein, fiber and healthy monounsaturated fats that are all known to influence how our body stores and metabolizes fat for energy. Almonds are rich in complex carbohydrates that require significant energy to be broken down by our body. The International Journal of Obesity published the results of a study that shows almonds are “a feasible option for consideration and have a potential role in the public health implications of obesity.” The study concluded that almonds provide a sensation of satiety and are beneficial for people trying to lose weight.

Almonds are a perfectly balanced food source that can benefit health. This powerful seed has a balanced ratio of proteins, carbohydrates and fats that are in perfect alignment with human macronutrient requirements. Nutritional studies confirm that almonds regulate blood sugar and prevent insulin resistance that lowers the risk from diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, almonds help regulate fat metabolism and can be used as a tool to assist weight loss. Include a handful of almonds every day to reap the many health benefits.

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Warm Indoor Temperatures Linked to Obesity

January 30, 2011

(Article first published as Is Your Warm House The Reason You Can’t Lose Weight? on Technorati.)

Lack of Indoor Temerature Variation Shown to Contribute to Weight Gain

Lack of Indoor Temerature Variation Shown to Contribute to Weight Gain

We are all well aware that eating too much and insufficient exercise are important factors that determine our weight and drive the current obesity epidemic. Weight gain and loss is a product of many other lifestyle factors including stress, sleep and even the temperature of your house. A review published in the journal Obesity Reviews examines the link between reduced exposure to the cold and obesity in the UK and US.

We Burn More Calories When Cold

Modern Heating Over the Past 30 Years Linked to Obesity

Modern Heating Over the Past 30 Years Linked to Obesity

It’s not something we think a lot about when we’re sitting in our favorite easy chair in front of a warm fire in our well insulated house during winter. We can easily control our environment with a turn of the thermostat. In fact, the only deterrent to staying warm for most people is fear of the fuel oil or electric bill at the end of the month.

Historically, humans have lived in cold climates where they had to endure bitter cold for extended periods. Our body must burn calories at a much higher level to keep us warm during these times, and the increased metabolism helps to prevent overweight and obesity. This study review attempts to explain that seasonal cold helps to regulate energy balance and can help maintain normal body weight on a population level.

Indoor Temperatures Have Increased Over the Past Several Decades

Colder Temperatures Increase Metabolism and Weight Loss Potential

Colder Temperatures Increase Metabolism and Weight Loss Potential

Widespread access to central heating and air conditioning contribute to a restriction of the temperature variations experienced under natural conditions. Humans have evolved to acclimate to mild thermal stress, as our metabolic rate can easily adjust to differing temperature zones. When we’re cold, our heart rate and blood pressure increase as blood vessels close to the skin constrict in response to reduced temperatures.

The net effect is more calories burned for a longer period of time and this translates into lower body weight. Researchers have found that we experience a much smaller range of temperature variation than we did just 30 years ago. While this may not fully explain the skyrocketing overweight and obesity rates now seen across the US and UK, it does provide an important clue to how our environment can impact our ability to maintain a normal weight.

External Temperature Can Modify Our Fat Structure

Over the past decade, medical researchers have gained a much better understanding about the two distinctly different types of adipose or fat cells that we accumulate. White fat is metabolically active tissue that accumulates most commonly around the hips and mid-section of the body. Excess amounts of white fat are associated with inflammation, metabolic disease, heart disease and cancer.

Brown fat is a thermally active type of tissue that actually burns calories for energy and is associated with a higher metabolic rate and lower weight range. Researchers from the Obesity Reviews study found that when people spend more time in a climate controlled environment they produce less brown fat and metabolize fewer calories at rest. This was found to result in a tendency to gain weight, especially when coupled with a sedentary lifestyle.

The researchers concluded “Research into the environmental drivers behind obesity, rather then the genetic ones, has tended to focus on diet and exercise — which are undoubtedly the major contributors. However, it is possible that other environmental factors, such as winter indoor temperatures, may also have a contributing role. This research therefore raises the possibility for new public health strategies to address the obesity epidemic.” The bottom line is to carefully control calories and remain physically active. Be mindful that external environmental factors also contribute to your ability to successfully lose weight.

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Mediterranean Diet May be Key to Weight Loss Goals

December 29, 2010

(Article first published as Think Mediterranean to Drive Your New Year Weight Loss Goal on Technorati.)

Mediterranean Diet Alters Body Metabolism to Assist Weight Loss

Mediterranean Diet Alters Body Metabolism to Assist Weight Loss

Overweight and obesity are known to dramatically increase the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer and dementia. Excess body fat fuels the flames of systemic inflammation and the release of dangerous chemical messengers or cytokines that damage the delicate inner lining of our arteries and set the stage for vascular dysfunction. As we pass age 35, there is a natural tendency to gain weight due to slowing metabolism, unchanged calorie intake and less physical activity. Following a Mediterranean style diet can help to curb weight gain, improve health and boost your weight loss efforts.

Alarming Study Projects 42% Obesity Rate by 2050

Researchers have been encouraged that the obesity rate has stabilized at 34% over the past 5 years. The number of overweight and obese individuals has also remained steady at just under 70% for the same period. New research released in the journal PLoS Computational Biology uses statistical projections from the Framingham Heart Study to suggest that the upward trend will continue over the next 40 years to peak at 42% of men, women and children registering as clinically obese.

Obesity Explodes Over the Past Century

Obesity Rates Have Skyrocketed Over the Past 100 Years

Obesity Rates Have Skyrocketed Over the Past 100 Years

In the early 1900`s 1 in 150 people were obese. By 1971 the obesity rate climbed to 14%. 40 years later that number has jumped to 34%. Something has changed during this time period to create such an explosion in body fat accumulation. We are still the same genetically diverse people we were 100 years ago, yet our metabolism has been dramatically altered toward fat storage. While physical activity may play a small role in the increase, there is one much more compelling reason we`re exposed to every day.

Understanding the Real Cause of Obesity

Processed Foods Alter Body Metabolism and Cause Weight Gain

Processed Foods Alter Body Metabolism and Cause Weight Gain

Our diet has been altered considerably over the past 100 years. Natural foods eaten raw or minimally processed have given way to fast convenience items scientifically altered in a lab to appeal to our innate taste for sugar, fat and salt. Fast releasing carbs cause blood sugar to remain high most of the day. Eventually insulin becomes resistant to excess glucose and is no longer able to effectively usher sugar from the blood and into cells. Our grandparents didn’t have this problem, and while they did put on small amounts of weight as they aged it didn’t lead to early onset obesity commonly seen today.

Mediterranean Diet Could Hold the Key to Controlling Weight

The results of new research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition show that a Mediterranean style diet can help to keep unnatural weight gain in check. Study participants that adhered closest to a diet consisting largely of vegetables, fruits, fish, nuts, seeds and monounsaturated fats such as olive oil were 10% less likely to become overweight or obese and had 26% lower odds of packing on more than 11 pounds over the course of 4 years. This is because the Mediterranean diet is much higher in fiber and provides a feeling of satiety while eliminating sugary junk foods that raise blood sugar and cause dangerous belly fat.

Overweight and obesity is one of the leading preventable causes of chronic disease and death. The past century has seen the problem grow to the point where it will threaten nearly half of the adult population. The solution is a low sugar and carbohydrate diet based on the Mediterranean way of eating, monitoring calories and ensuring adequate physical activity. Small changes to diet and lifestyle today will result in many healthy years later in life.

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Limit Carbs to Lose Weight and Extend Lifespan

December 20, 2010

(Article first published as Cut Carbs, Not Fat to Lose Weight and Live Longer on Technorati.)

Carbs Promote Body Fat and Lead to Disease

Carbs Promote Body Fat and Lead to Disease

We’re having trouble changing our mindset about the best type of diet to promote health and weight loss. For decades we have been told that fat is bad and whole grain carbohydrates are good. Food manufacturers cleverly cut all the fat from many of their offerings and pumped up sugar and carbs to compensate. We merrily went along eating massive quantities of `healthy` low fat foods with the thought that we would avoid fat, get skinny and avoid the number one killer, heart disease.

Unfortunately just the opposite has happened. American obesity rates are at epidemic proportions and heart disease still unnecessarily claims the lives of millions each year. Fortunately it’s not too late to make changes that can save your life and help you to lose weight permanently.

Fat is Not the Problem

Healthy Fat Sources Promote Good Health

Healthy Fat Sources Promote Good Health

Current dietary advice from the USDA food pyramid promotes the idea that the bulk of our daily calories should come from carbohydrates. Fat is to be used sparingly and there is no differentiation between different fat sources. Information provided by medical researchers and published in the Los Angeles Times explains that we have been misled over the years and that fat is actually a vital component to cellular structure. Carbohydrates and sugars are the real culprit that influence how body fat is stored and can wreak havoc with normal metabolic activity.

Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health explains “If Americans could eliminate sugary beverages, potatoes, white bread, pasta, white rice and sugary snacks, we would wipe out almost all the problems we have with weight and diabetes and other metabolic diseases.” Refined and processed carbs have become the core of our diet. Eventually, carb overload leads to insulin resistance, diabetes and heart disease and has a major impact on our ability to lose weight.

Carb Warfare: The Battle of the Bulge

Over time, our body becomes tired from processing large amounts of carbohydrates. The pancreas exhausts its natural ability to secrete insulin and counter the massive amount of sugar that is continually dumped into the bloodstream. The body preferentially burns carbohydrates for energy, and stores the remaining calories as fat. When given the opportunity, our body prefers to burn fat, but there must be an absence of carbs for this to happen.

The typical American diet provides a never ending flow of carbs and corresponding blood sugar spikes. We like to snack regularly between meals, so there is rarely an absence of carbohydrates. Our body is never able to tap into our fat stores because we continually provide a ready source of energy in the form of high carb consumption. The only way to trigger fat metabolism is to drastically limit our carb intake.

Cut the Carbs for Weight Loss Success and Health

Restrict Carbs to Lower Blood Sugar and Improve Insulin Response

Restrict Carbs to Lower Blood Sugar and Improve Insulin Response

Humans have not evolved with the ability to consume and metabolize huge quantities of carbohydrates. The typical American diet is 60% carbohydrate and the direct cause of the obesity calamity, as well as a significant trigger for many inflammatory diseases. Drop carb intake to no more than 20% of calories and substitute healthy monounsaturated uncooked fats and protein sources with each meal. Fats and proteins are more difficult for the body to break down and slow the release of glucose from carbohydrates. Try drastically lowering your carb intake for 2 weeks and you’ll be on the road to successful weight loss and improved health.

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Depression Hinders Weight Loss Efforts, Omega-3 Fats Help

December 13, 2010

(Article first published as Avoid Depression for Successful Weight Loss, Omega-3 Fats Can Help on Technorati.)

Improve Depression Symptoms to Assist Weight Loss

Improve Depression Symptoms to Assist Weight Loss

Clinical depression rates are rising in America almost as quickly as the number of overweight and obese individuals. It makes sense that people who may be depressed are less likely to be concerned over weight issues as they become less involved with physical health issues and their external environment.

While researchers are unable to say whether depression leads to excess weight or if the extra pounds contribute as an underlying cause of depression, those individuals who fall into the obese classification (BMI above 30) are 50 to 150% more likely to suffer from depression than normal weight individuals. Clearly there is a close relationship between the physical and psychological manifestations that contribute to excess weight and clinical depression.

Depression Closely Linked to Body Weight

Depression is a devastating condition that can have a detrimental effect on many aspects of a person’s life. Depressed people are more likely to eat a poor diet of processed junk foods and become less physically active. The results of a study conducted at the University of Washington and reported in the journal General Hospital Psychology demonstrates that treating obese individuals for depression can have a significant impact on their weight loss efforts.

Study Confirms That Treating Depression Leads to Weight Loss

People with Depression Tend to Exercise Less, Weight More

People with Depression Tend to Exercise Less, Weight More

The study involved 203 obese women for a period of 12 months who had been diagnosed with clinical depression. All participants were placed on a reduced calorie diet and broken into 2 groups. Both groups were monitored for caloric intake with food questionnaires and physical activity. Half of the participants were also treated for their depression and their progress was marked using a traditional symptom checklist.

Women who demonstrated the most marked improvement of their depression symptoms were able to lose the most weight. Researchers found that 38% of the women who experienced improved mood lost 5% of their body weight, compared with only 21% in the non-treated group. The study found that depression is closely linked to decreased physical activity, and most of the weight loss was due to an increased level of exercise.

The study authors could not determine if improving depression symptoms led to greater physical activity or vice versa, but concluded, “among women with co-occurring obesity and depression, short-term improvement in depression is associated with weight loss.” They suggest that depression screening should become a normal part of any permanent weight loss program.

Omega-3 Fats Used to Treat Depression

Omega-3 Fats Shown to Improve Depression, Boost Weight Loss

Omega-3 Fats Shown to Improve Depression, Boost Weight Loss

A good alternative to the traditional pharmaceutical therapy for depression is omega-3 fats from fish and fish oils. The human brain is composed largely of long chain Omega-3 fats and when deficient, neurons malfunction and clinical depression manifests. Researchers from the University of Illinois combined the results from 15 independent studies and confirmed that Omega-3 fats are effective at improving mood and may potentially eliminate the need for many people to take antidepressant drugs. Researchers found that the Omega-3 component EPA exerts the most benefit in alleviating the symptoms of depression.

Mood disorders and clinical depression affect nearly 21 million American adults and ranks as the fourth leading cause of morbidity and death. Undoubtedly overweight and obesity are confounding factors that dramatically increase the risk of disease and untimely demise. Research confirms that improving symptoms of depression with traditional therapy and using fish oil supplementation may be the key to relief from clinical depression and successful weight loss.