Category Archives: Healthy Lifestyle

Lose abdominal fat, get smarter and live longer. A fast-mimicking diet might just do the trick!

Scientists-say-five-day-fast-mimicking-diet-is-safeRemember all those crazy fad diets from when you were a teenager? The grapefruit diet. The cabbage soup diet. The 7 day fast diet. Most of us happily tried those and more. Of course we lost weight. We put it right back on though. And we were, most likely, grumpy and irritable through the process. There’s been some research that points to the idea that fasting may have a place in a healthy lifestyle. (Of course, no one’s mentioned anything about fasting on cabbage soup!) New Information is linking a fast-mimicking diet to many important health benefits.

New research led by USC’s Valter Longo shows that periodically adopting a diet that mimics the effects of fasting may yield a wide range of health benefits.

In a new study, Longo and his colleagues show that cycles of a four-day low-calorie diet that mimics fasting (FMD) cut visceral belly fat and elevated the number of progenitor and stem cells in several organs of old mice — including the brain, where it boosted neural regeneration and improved learning and memory.

The mouse tests were part of a three-tiered study on periodic fasting’s effects — testing yeast, mice and humans — set to be published by Cell Metabolismon June 18.

Mice, which have relatively short life spans, provided details about fasting’s lifelong effects. Yeast, which are simpler organisms, allowed Longo to uncover the biological mechanisms that fasting triggers at a cellular level. And a pilot study in humans found evidence that the mouse and yeast studies were applicable to humans.

Bimonthly cycles that lasted four days of an FMD which started at middle age extended life span, reduced the incidence of cancer, boosted the immune system, reduced inflammatory diseases, slowed bone mineral density loss and improved the cognitive abilities of older mice tracked in the study. The total monthly calorie intake was the same for the FMD and control diet groups, indicating that the effects were not the result of an overall dietary restriction.

In a pilot human trial, three cycles of a similar diet given to 19 subjects once a month for five days decreased risk factors and biomarkers for aging, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer with no major adverse side effects, according to Longo.

‘Strict fasting is hard for people to stick to, and it can also be dangerous, so we developed a complex diet that triggers the same effects in the body,’ said Longo, Edna M. Jones professor of biogerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute. Longo has a joint appointment at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. ‘I’ve personally tried both, and the fasting mimicking diet is a lot easier and also a lot safer.’

The diet slashed the individual’s caloric intake down to 34 to 54 percent of normal, with a specific composition of proteins, carbohydrates, fats and micronutrients. It decreased amounts of the hormone IGF-I, which is required during development to grow, but it is a promoter of aging and has been linked to cancer susceptibility. It also increased the amount of the hormone IGFBP-, and reduced biomarkers/risk factors linked to diabetes and cardiovascular disease, including glucose, trunk fat and C-reactive protein without negatively affecting muscle and bone mass.

Longo has previously shown how fasting can help starve out cancer cells while protecting immune and other cells from chemotherapy toxicity.

‘It’s about reprogramming the body so it enters a slower aging mode, but also rejuvenating it through stem cell-based regeneration,’ Longo said. ‘It’s not a typical diet because it isn’t something you need to stay on.’

For 25 days a month, study participants went back to their regular eating habits — good or bad — once they finished the treatment. They were not asked to change their diet and still saw positive changes.

Longo believes that for most normal people, the FMD can be done every three to six months, depending on the abdominal circumference and health status. For obese subjects or those with elevated disease risk factors, the FMD could be recommended by the physician as often as once every two weeks. His group is testing its effect in a randomized clinical trial, which will be completed soon, with more than 70 subjects.

‘If the results remain as positive as the current ones, I believe this FMD will represent the first safe and effective intervention to promote positive changes associated with longevity and health span, which can be recommended by a physician,’ Longo said. ‘We will soon meet with FDA officers to pursue several FDA claims for disease prevention and treatment.’

Despite its positive effects, Longo cautioned against water-only fasting and warned even about attempting the fasting mimicking diet without first consulting a doctor and seeking their supervision throughout the process.

‘Not everyone is healthy enough to fast for five days, and the health consequences can be severe for a few who do it improperly,’ he said. ‘Water-only fasting should only be done in a specialized clinic. Also, certain types of very low calorie diets, and particularly those with high protein content, can increase the incidence of gallstones in women at risk’.

‘In contrast,’ he added, ‘the fasting mimicking diet tested in the trial can be done anywhere under the supervision of a physician and carefully following the guidelines established in the clinical trials.’

Longo also cautioned that diabetic subjects should not undergo either fasting or fasting mimicking diets while receiving insulin, metformin or similar drugs. He also said that subjects with body mass index less than 18 should not undergo the FMD diet.

For the study, Longo collaborated with researchers and clinicians from USC as well as from Texas, Italy and England. The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging.

FoodFacts.com is once again impressed by the power of diet in our health. This information is an impressive example pointing to the importance of diet on our longevity and function. It does sound as though the study authors will be pursuing further research and hopefully seeking out FDA approval for the fast mimicking diet as a preventive measure for disease and a boost for longevity. Food might be the real fountain of youth, after all.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150618134408.htm

New York City proposes new sodium rules for restaurants

image3Salt is in the news often these days. And even if you don’t have any apparent reasons to be careful of your sodium intake, it’s probably a good idea to become more salt sensitive. It’s definitely a culprit in health problems that can “sneak up on you.” Honestly, we’re all eating too much salt, even if we don’t know we are.

And that’s where New York City comes in. New York is no stranger to proposing regulations surrounding food and beverages. New York City has banned trans fats at restaurants, posted calorie counts on menus and tried, unsuccessfully, to limit the size of sodas. Now the city is taking aim at a new edible adversary: sodium.

Under a plan to be presented by the de Blasio administration on Wednesday, many chain restaurants would have to post a warning label on the menu beside any dish that has more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium, the daily limit recommended by many nutritionists.

The amount is akin to a teaspoon of salt, and foods that contain it — like a half-rack of ribs at T.G.I. Fridays (2,420 milligrams), or the chicken fajitas at Applebee’s (4,800 milligrams) — would be denoted by a small icon of a saltshaker.

The measure, which requires approval by the Board of Health, could take effect as soon as December. It is the first foray by Mayor Bill de Blasio into the kind of high-profile public health policies championed by his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg.

“It’s quite difficult for consumers to understand which products might have too much sodium in them,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, a deputy commissioner at the city’s Health Department, who pointed to links between high sodium intake and a greater risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

Attempts by the city to regulate New Yorkers’ eating habits have often been resisted by restaurant groups, which call such rules onerous and an infringement on consumer rights. Mr. de Blasio’s sodium proposal was no exception.

“Restaurants in New York City are already heavily regulated at every level,” said Melissa Fleischut, president of the New York State Restaurant Association. Pointing to various federal and local rules, she added, “The composition of menus may soon have more warning labels than food products.”

If passed, the proposal, which was reported by The Associated Press, would affect mainly restaurants with 15 establishments or more in New York City, along with some movie theaters and ballpark concession stands. Officials said about 10 percent of menu items would require labels.

Still, many fast-food staples would escape the labeling threshold, like a Whopper with cheese at Burger King (1,260 milligrams of sodium) or KFC’s chicken potpie (1,970 milligrams).

“It’s a rather conservative choice of benchmark,” said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nutrition group. “It seems pretty generous to the restaurant industry: Up to a whole day’s worth of sodium, and you don’t have to put an icon on your menu,” Mr. Jacobson said. But, he added, “Hopefully it will guide people away from these kinds of meals.”

This is not the first time that a New York City mayor has taken on salty foods. Mr. Bloomberg introduced the National Salt Reduction Initiative to encourage chains to lower the amount of sodium in their products voluntarily.

By the end of this year, Mr. Bloomberg’s effort to print calorie counts on menus is going national: The Food and Drug Administration is to require calorie counts in national restaurant chains, movie theaters and pizza parlors.

Those rules could pose a legal wrinkle for the city’s sodium plan, since states and localities would be forbidden to add their own nutrition labels to places covered under federal rules. City officials said their plan would pass muster because the saltshaker functions as a “warning label,” not a nutritional one.

There are a few things that FoodFacts.com takes issue with – like someone saying that soon there will be more warning labels than food items listed on menus. Here’s a thought. Perhaps restaurants should commit to preparing and serving foods with livable sodium levels. Then they wouldn’t have to “litter” their menus with small salt shaker images. The health of consumers should be a significant concern for all kinds of restaurants – fast food, fast casual, and sit down establishments alike. Consumers are responsible for the popularity and profitability of all of them. You’d think they’d be more concerned about helping consumers stay healthy, and able and capable of patronizing their locations for years to come. Until they are, it’s probably a good idea to use those images of salt shakers on their menus (not just in New York City, but everyplace else as well) so we know what we’re eating.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/10/nyregion/de-blasio-administration-wants-high-sodium-warnings-on-menus.html?_r=1

Really good food news: more chocolate, less heart disease

CS79798816FoodFacts.com is well aware that healthy eating is often associated with the idea of “getting used to something.” In other words, healthy foods sometimes require a learning curve … kale chips, anyone? Sometimes, those of us who pursue healthy lifestyles are rewarded from the heavens. Dark chocolate is actually good for your body.

A surprising number of studies have found that dark chocolate can reduce the risk of death from a heart attack, decrease blood pressure and help those with chronic fatigue syndrome.

The question for many chocolate lovers has been at what point are you having too much of a good thing. That is, is there an optimal “dose” for chocolate eating?

A new study published in the journal Heart on Monday looked at the effect of diet on long-term health. It involved 25,000 volunteers and found that the answer to how much chocolate can be good for you is – a lot. Study participants in the high consumption group – those who ate 15 to 100 grams of chocolate a day in the form of everything from Mars bars to hot cocoa – had lower heart disease and stroke risk than those who did not consume the confection.

A hundred grams is equivalent to about two classic Hershey’s bars or – if you’re going fancy – five Godiva truffles. In terms of calories you’re looking at 500-535. To put that into perspective, the Department of Agriculture recommends men consume 2,000 to 3,000 calories a day depending on their height, body composition and whether they are sedentary or active.

This association in the study was valid even after researchers adjusted for a wide range of risk factors, such as age, smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity and other dietary variables.

“The main message is that you don’t need to worry too much if you are only moderately eating chocolate,” Phyo Myint, a professor at the School of Medicine at the University of Aberdeen and one of the study’s lead authors, said in an interview.

Higher levels of consumption were associated with a large number of other positives in the study: lower BMI, waist:hip ratio, systolic blood pressure, inflammatory proteins. As compared with those who ate no chocolate, those who ate high amounts saw a 11 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and 25 percent lower risk of associated death.

The study also noted that more of the participants in the study ate milk chocolate versus dark chocolate which has long been considered healthier. This might suggest that beneficial health effects may apply to both, the researchers said.

“Our results are somewhat surprising since the expectation was that benefits of chocolate consumption would be mainly associated with dark chocolate rather than the commercially available products generally used in a British population which are high in sugar content and fat,” the study’s author wrote.

So what’s the theory behind how this works?

Myint explained that chocolate is full of flavonoid antioxidants and that previous studies have shown that intake of chocolate results in improved function of the endothelium, or inner lining of the blood vessels. Chocolate has also been shown to increase HDL or “good” cholesterol and decrease LDL or “bad” cholesterol.

He also said many chocolate bars that were probably consumed by study participants contained nuts which are known to be good for heart health.

While Myint said it seemed clear that there wasn’t a big risk to chocolate eating for the study participants, he said that the results of the study should be read with a few caveats. First, it looked at people ages 39 to 70 and nearly all the study participants were white. He also emphasized that in a sample size this large, there were also a number of participants who ate a lot of chocolate but did not see the same benefits as others.

“Indeed some people had worse outcomes when eating that amount of chocolate so the findings need to be taken with extreme caution,” he said.

While the study provides evidence that there’s no need to avoid chocolate in your diet to protect your cardiovascular health, it probably is too soon to run out and gorge on chocolate bars.

Charles Mueller, clinical assistant professor of nutrition at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, points out that there’s no definitive conclusion about cause and effect and that it’s possible that chocolate eaters engage in other behaviors or eat other foods that are good for the heart.

“Cocoa beans are not unlike red peppers, green peppers and broccoli and stuff like that. They are full of phytochemicals that are good for you. But if you are overweight, and you are thinking of protecting yourself by eating chocolate you are being kind of silly. Chocolate is just one small element in a full range of a good diet,” Mueller said.

Once again, it appears that “chocolate happiness” goes beyond the general euphoria most people experience while eating it. Unlike the previously mentioned kale chips, there’s no learning curve here. With common sense and moderation, we can really enjoy chocolate understanding we’re actually doing something good for our bodies.

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/health/2015/06/21/study-chocolate-lower-risk-heart-disease/29085213/

Ice cream for the greater good from Ben & Jerry’s

Save Our SwirledPolitically correct ice cream. Ice cream with a cause. Socially conscious ice cream. Ben & Jerry’s may have defined a new category of our favorite sweet treat with Save Our Swirled.

The Ben & Jerry’s website describes the new flavor as follows: “It’s a swirled-class flavor you can’t resist, & a climate change message you can’t ignore.” Save Our Swirled boasts Raspberry Ice Cream with Marshmallow & Raspberry Swirls & Dark & White Fudge Ice Cream Cones. Sounds pretty decadent. And it may just be the first ice cream with a message. Save Our Swirled invites you to join the AVAAZ climate movement, and sign a petition that calls on world leaders to tackle climate change at the upcoming summit in Paris with the goal of working towards 100% Clean Energy by 2050.

FoodFacts.com can get behind the ice cream with a cause concept — can’t we all? It’s a tremendous idea. But what’s this new Save Our Swirled flavor all about anyway? Let’s take a look.

Every half cup serving of Save Our Swirled, carries these nutrition facts:

Calories:                            250
Fat:                                    12 grams
Saturated Fat:                  8 grams
Sugar:                               27 grams

Fairly typical ice cream nutrition facts. Nothing out of the ordinary here. A bit high in sugar, but it is ice cream — a small indulgence every now and again. But let’s find out what’s really in there.

CREAM, SKIM MILK, WATER, LIQUID SUGAR (SUGAR, WATER), CORN SYRUP, SUGAR, RED RASPBERRY PUREE, COCONUT OIL, EGG YOLKS, DRIED CANE SYRUP, RED RASPBERRY JUICE CONCENTRATE, COCOA (PROCESSED WITH ALKALI), EGG WHITES, NATURAL FLAVORS, PECTIN, VEGETABLE JUICE (COLOR), XANTHAN GUM, GUAR GUM, COCOA, MILK, SOY LECITHIN, SALT, VANILLA EXTRACT, CARRAGEENAN.

It’s not perfect yet. We’ve still got carrageenan listed as the last ingredient. We’ve certainly seen worse though and do want to point out that most of the ingredients used aren’t controversial.

So if you’re craving social consciousness and you’re looking for a treat, Ben & Jerry’s Saved Our Swirled may be the way to go. Just don’t eat the whole pint in one sitting. We’re looking to solve the world’s problems, not add to them!

http://www.benjerry.com/flavors/save-our-swirled-ice-cream

DASH diet expands with lean pork as a substitute for chicken or fish

pilafIf you know anyone following the DASH diet for blood pressure control, or if you are yourself, you may be able to add lean pork to your diet as a substitute for chicken or fish as part of your healthy eating style, according to research from Purdue University.

‘This study supports that the DASH diet can include lean, unprocessed red meats in the appropriate serving sizes,’ said Wayne Campbell, a professor of nutrition science.

The study, which compared lean, unprocessed pork with chicken and fish as the predominant protein source in a DASH-style diet, is published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The research is funded by the National Pork Board, the National Institutes of Health’s Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute and Clinical Research Center, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

This study applies only to cuts of unprocessed lean pork, such as tenderloin and fresh, uncured ham trimmed of visible fat. Each serving size was three ounces. These findings should not be extrapolated to other pork products with higher fat and salt content, Campbell said.

The effectiveness of the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, limits red meat to reduce total and saturated fat as well as sodium. The DASH diet is often recommended to reduce blood pressure and is focused on the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, whole-grains, low-fat dairy, nuts, poultry and fish, while reducing fats, red meats, including pork, and added sugars.

Many cuts of red meat, including beef or pork tenderloin and fresh ham, meet the USDA guidelines for lean, which is less than 10 grams total fat and less than 4.5 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams. Extra lean is less than 5 grams total fat and less than two grams saturated fat per 100 grams.

‘If people have to rely only on fish and chicken their diet choices can be limited, and our findings support that lean pork may be a viable option for people who are consuming a DASH diet without compromising the effectiveness of the diet plan,’ said Drew Sayer, a doctoral student in nutrition science and a co-author on the study.

Hypertension, which is high blood pressure, is a risk factor for cardiovascular and kidney disease. About 30 percent of American adults live with hypertension and 65 percent of those 60 years and older have high blood pressure.

The 19 participants in the study had elevated high blood pressure and their average age was 61.

‘The people in the study were at risk for hypertension, and they represent the 60 percent of Americans with prehypertension who are on the road to clinically high blood pressure,’ said Sayer.

The study’s participants consumed a DASH-style diet for two, six-week periods, and they either ate lean pork or chicken and fish as the main protein source. They had a four-week break then consumed the alternate meat. Blood pressures were taken throughout the study, including at the beginning of each six-week period and at the end of the study.

Pre- and post-intervention manual and 24-hour blood pressures were not different between either DASH option of pork or chicken and fish. Consumption of these DASH-style diets for six weeks reduced all measures of blood pressure with no differences in responses between DASH with chicken and fish and DASH with pork.

FoodFacts.com is a fan.  The DASH diet offers a non-medicated approach to lowering blood pressure. It’s great for the heart. It lowers cholesterol. It takes off weight. And it has nothing to do with anything except food. Like it’s medicine. There’s that old saying from Hippocrates again. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” In action.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150611114409.htm

Can milk proteins protect us from cardiovascular disease?

Milk-proteins-may-protect-against-cardiovascular-diseaseDrink your milk, it’s good for your bones and your teeth. How many times did you hear that when you were growing up? We’d bet it was pretty often. Then there were the tag lines … “Got Milk?”. “Milk, it does a body good.” Today we found out that milk proteins may do a body more good than previously thought.

The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that results in browned foods like seared steaks and toasted bread. When proteins and sugars are mixed together and heated, new chemical compounds are formed. Some are responsible for new flavors and some, according to a new study published in the Journal of Dairy Science®, may protect us against cardiovascular disease.

Researchers at the R&D Center, Seoul Dairy Cooperative, the College of Life Science & Biotechnology, Korea University, and the BK21 Plus Graduate Program, Department of Animal Science and Institute Agricultural Science & Technology, Chonbuk National University in South Korea, have determined that dietary compounds formed in milk-based products lowered serum total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels and triglycerides in mice. These compounds also protected against acute pulmonary thromboembolism as well as aspirin, but without the possible bleeding consequences often observed in aspirin therapy.

Whey protein concentrate and sodium caseinate were heated with lactose to form whey-protein Maillard reaction products (wMRP). Lactic acid bacteria were then used to produce fermented MRPs (f-MRP). Sodium caseinate alone was also reacted to form Maillard-reacted sodium caseinate (cMRP) and further fermented to f-cMRP.

To determine antithrombotic effects, 60 mice were divided into four treatment groups of 15. Group 1 received phosphate buffered saline (PBS) (negative control), group 2 received aspirin (positive control), group 3 received wMRP, and group 4 received f-MRP in addition to a normal diet. Assessment of antioxidant activity and cholesterol reduction effect of fermented cMRP was done with another group of 60 mice fed various diets with and without f-cMRP.

“This is the first report describing the verification for the impacts of MRPs and their fermented product in cardiovascular risk using animal model,” explained lead investigator Younghoon Kim, PhD, of the Department of Animal Science, Chonbuk National University, Republic of Korea, “In addition, our findings represent a real advance in the area of milk proteins and indicate that f-cMRP and cMRP could be recommended for use as potential antioxidants and cardioprotective ingredients for various functional, pharmaceutical, and dairy applications.”

Matt Lucy, PhD, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Dairy Science, and Professor of Animal Science, University of Missouri, added, “We are beginning to understand that dairy products provide benefits to human health beyond the traditional nutrients. This study performed in laboratory animals demonstrates the potential for milk proteins found in naturally fermented foods to improve human cardiovascular health.”

FoodFacts.com likes the idea that we’re expanding our definitions of hearty healthy foods. Strong, healthy hearts are a great goal for everyone and understanding how our diets can help us achieve that goal is empowering for us all.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150611144053.htm

American kids aren’t getting enough hydration

Girl-drinking-water-homepageThe human body needs water to function. We can actually survive for a longer period of time without food than we can without water. It’s such a simple thing and something we can easily take for granted in our daily diets. What are you drinking every day? What are our kids drinking? Surprisingly, for our kids there may not be enough water on the beverage menu.

More than half of all children and adolescents in the U.S. are not getting enough hydration–probably because they’re not drinking enough water–a situation that could have significant repercussions for their physical health and their cognitive and emotional functioning, according to the first national study of its kind from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The study also found racial/ethnic and gender gaps in hydration status. Black children and adolescents were at higher risk of inadequate hydration than whites; boys were at higher risk than girls.

The study appears online June 11, 2015 in the American Journal of Public Health.

“These findings are significant because they highlight a potential health issue that has not been given a whole lot of attention in the past,” said lead author Erica Kenney, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard Chan School. “Even though for most of these kids this is not an immediate, dramatic health threat, this is an issue that could really be reducing quality of life and well-being for many, many children and youth.”

Drinking enough water is essential for physiological processes such as circulation, metabolism, temperature regulation, and waste removal. Although excessive dehydration is associated with serious health problems, even mild dehydration can cause issues, including headaches, irritability, poorer physical performance, and reduced cognitive functioning.

The researchers looked at data from 2009-2012 on more than 4,000 children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 years who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a study of the health of U.S. children and adults conducted each year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They used urine osmolality–a measure of how concentrated a person’s urine is–to determine whether or not participants were adequately hydrated.

They found that a little more than half of all children and adolescents weren’t getting enough hydration. Boys were 76% more likely than girls, and non-Hispanic blacks were 34% more likely than non-Hispanic whites, to be inadequately hydrated.

Notably, nearly a quarter of the children and adolescents in the study reported drinking no plain water at all.

“The good news is that this is a public health problem with a simple solution,” said senior author Steven Gortmaker, professor of the practice of health sociology. “If we can focus on helping children drink more water–a low-cost, no-calorie beverage–we can improve their hydration status, which may allow many children to feel better throughout the day and do better in school.”

Nearly one quarter of the kids included in this study were not drinking any plain water at all. That’s an incredible statement. It begs a serious question. What are they drinking? Unfortunately, we probably all know the answers … sodas and other sugary drinks. Beverages we’d all be better off not drinking appear to be replacing essential hydration for far too many kids.

FoodFacts.com wants us all to remind ourselves that while we’re figuring out the healthiest diets we can feed our children — devising ways we can sneak vegetables into meals creatively, avoiding artificial colors and other ingredients we know are detrimental to their health and unnecessary in their diets and ensuring that they’re getting the nutrients that will help them grow and flourish — let’s not forget about their beverages. Let’s remember the importance of hydration to the growth and development of our children. Our diets aren’t just about the foods we eat. We need to drink healthy too.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150611174200.htm

Late night eating and the effects of sleep deprivation

Man Trying to SleepCan’t get to sleep? It might be best not to snack during your sleepless hours. We already know that late-night eating is an unhealthy idea. We tend to eat bad food during those hours — junk is far more appealing than healthier options in the early hours. We put on weight due to the extra calories we consume. Overall it’s not the best idea to replace our sleep with food. And new research is confirming that idea.

Eating less late at night may help curb the concentration and alertness deficits that accompany sleep deprivation, according to results of a new study from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania that will be presented at SLEEP 2015, the 29th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.

“Adults consume approximately 500 additional calories during late-night hours when they are sleep restricted,” said the study’s senior author David F. Dinges, PhD, director of the Unit for Experimental Psychiatry and chief of the division of Sleep and Chronobiology. “Our research found that refraining from late-night calories helps prevent some of the decline those individuals may otherwise experience in neurobehavioral performance during sleep restriction.”

The study gave 44 subjects, ages 21 to 50, unlimited access to food and drink during the day, followed by only four hours of sleep each night for three nights. On the fourth night, 20 participants received continued access to food and drinks, while the 24 others were allowed only to consume water from 10:00 p.m. until they went to sleep at 4:00 a.m.

At 2 a.m. each night, all subjects completed a variety of tests to measure their working memory, cognitive skills, sleepiness, stress level and mood.

During the fourth night, subjects who fasted performed better on reaction time and attention lapses than subjects who had eaten during those late-night hours. In addition, subjects who ate showed significantly slower reaction times and more attention lapses on the fourth night of sleep restriction compared to the first three nights whereas study subjects who had fasted did not show this performance decline.

While countless studies associate numerous physical and mental health benefits with a healthy night’s sleep, the Centers for Disease Control Prevention reports that “insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic” in the United States, including the estimated 50 to 70 million U.S. adults suffering from sleep and wakefulness disorders.

The new study results serve as a book end to other research on the links between eating and sleep deprivation. A 2013 study from the same Penn team found that individuals with late bedtimes and chronic sleep restriction may be more susceptible to weight gain due to the increased consumption of calories during late-night hours.

The research team also includes Andrea Spaeth, PhD, and Namni Goel, PhD.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01 NR004281, F31 AG044102); the Penn Clinical and Translational Research Center (UL1RR024134); and the Department of the Navy, Office of Naval Research (Award No. N00014-11-1-0361).

In a related study (Abstract #0332), the same team of Goel, Spaeth and Dinges, found that adults who are chronically sleep restricted may need to compensate for decreased morning resting metabolic rate by reducing caloric intake or increasing physical activity to prevent weight gain. That research was led by senior author Namni Goel, PhD, a research associate professor of psychology in Psychiatry and the Unit for Experimental Psychiatry.

“Short sleep duration is a significant risk factor for weight gain and obesity, particularly in African Americans and men,” Goel said. “This research suggests that reducing the number of calories consumed can help prevent that weight gain and some of the health issues associated with obesity in Caucasians and particularly in African Americans.”

The NIH reports that 69 percent of U.S. adults are overweight or obese. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, sleep apnea, and other health problems.

In the study, 36 healthy adults, ages 21 to 50, slept for their usual amount for two nights. Next, they spent four hours in bed each night for five nights, followed by one night of 12 hours of recovery sleep. The control group of 11 subjects received 10 hours in bed each night for six nights. Resting metabolic rate, or measure of the amount of energy used in a relaxed condition, and respiratory quotient, or the ratio of the volume of carbon dioxide to oxygen used in a time period, were measured after overnight fasting.

In the experimental group, resting metabolic rate decreased after five nights of sleep restriction and returned to baseline levels after recovery sleep. No changes in resting metabolic rate were observed in control subjects.

Sleeping is better than wakefulness at night. But if you can’t get to sleep, FoodFacts.com thinks that there are plenty of good reasons NOT to give in to late night food cravings. While all of us wrestle with bouts of sleeplessness from time to time, it’s important to keep in mind that our first response to that sleeplessness might not be the best for our health.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150604141905.htm

Help for diabetics may come from cactus, chia and soy decreasing high glucose in the blood

article-1337720587450-133c9df3000005dc-751131_304x285Diabetics have a difficult time with diet. There’s a lot of dietary avoidance that can become cumbersome and challenging. Today FoodFacts.com found some information regarding foods that diabetics SHOULD eat that can actually help their condition.

The so called functional foods such as cactus pads, chia and soybean, when included in a balanced diet, help reduce obesity and control diabetes, says Nimbe Torres y Torres, from the Institute of Biomedical Research at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

Functional foods are those that provide other benefits to the body in addition to the original nutrient foods, such as cactus pads, chia and soy mainly, besides spinach, oatmeal, yogurt, fish rich in Omega 3 and fortified margarines.

Torres y Torres, researcher, recommends consumption of 300 grams of raw, or 250 of cooked, cactus pads because eating as garnish significantly lowers glucose peaks, allowing a good function of the pancreas.

During her participation in the first symposium: “Initiative for a correct diet: yogurt effects on health” held in Cancun, in the Caribbean coast of Mexico, she said it is important to cook food thoroughly, but not overcooking in order to retain its nutrients.

“Mexicans tend to overheat food diminishing nutrients, in the case of the cactus it should not be cooked more than 10 minutes. It is very important that the viscous part is retained because that contains the soluble fiber that works as a prebiotic .”

She mentioned that the consumption of these foods has to be constant. “People with diabetes who include cactus in their diet reduce glycated hemoglobin, triglycerides and free fatty acids.”

Nimbe Torres y Torres also analyzed the effect of soy in animal models and found that it decreases the secretion of insulin, blood pressure, triglyceride and cholesterol by up to 20 percent since it contains a low glycemic index and has six grams of protein in a portion 250 milligrams.

She also stated that the use of chia seeds has health benefits because it is a source of acid Omega 3 and antioxidants, while should also be included in the diet in raw oatmeal or soy milk and green banana porridge.

Currently the UNAM specialist develops a combination of chia seed with cactus and soy protein to control diabetes and a recipe book on the combination of these foods.

Any time you can add something to your diet (as opposed to taking something away) that will improve your health conditions, you’re actually simplifying your life. Adding dietary options for health doesn’t require restrictions, it opens up healthier options. And that is always a welcomed improvement.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150527180414.htm

Low protein, high-carb diet as effective as calorie cutting?

protein and carb intakeWhen you’re looking for weight loss, which diet style do you follow? There are many out there these days from the traditional calorie cutting diet to the high protein, low carb diet to the high-carb, low protein diet. Each of these (and other eating styles) have their fans. Most people, however, who are attempting weight loss, try to restrict their calorie intake for a period of time. It’s simple to follow and calculate and it’s been proven to work. Cutting calories has also been proven to have other health benefits as well. But what about those other dietary styles?

Cutting calories through dietary restriction has been shown to lower cholesterol, improve insulin sensitivity, and even prolong life in mammals. Now, new research publishing on May 28th in Cell Reports shows that, at least in mice, low protein, high carbohydrate diets can provide benefits similar to those obtained with calorie restriction.

“We’ve shown that when compared head-to-head, mice got the same benefits from a low protein, high carbohydrate diet as a 40% caloric restriction diet,” says senior author Stephen Simpson, Academic Director of the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre. “Except for the fanatical few, no one can maintain a 40% caloric reduction in the long term, and doing so can risk loss of bone mass, libido, and fertility.”

The investigators compared three 8-week diets varying in protein-to-carbohydrate ratio under conditions where food was restricted or food was available at all times. Of the three, low protein, high carbohydrate (LPHC) diets offered when food was always available delivered similar benefits as calorie restriction in terms of insulin, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels, despite increased food intake.

Even though the mice on LPHC diets ate more when food was always available, their metabolism was higher than that of mice on the calorie-restricted diet, and they did not gain more weight. Calorie restriction did not provide any additional benefits for LPHC mice.

Additional research is needed to determine how LPHC diets affect long-term metabolic health and survival, as well as to what extent the type and quality of proteins and carbohydrates matter. “An important next step will be to determine exactly how specific amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, contribute to overall health span and lifespan,” says lead author Samantha Solon-Biet, also of the Charles Perkins Centre.

If the study’s results apply to humans, adjusting protein and carbohydrate intake could lead to healthier aging in a more realistic manner than drastically cutting calories. “It still holds true that reducing food intake and body weight improves metabolic health and reduces the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, and fatty liver disease,” says Simpson. “However, according to these mouse data and emerging human research, it appears that including modest intakes of high-quality protein and plenty of healthy carbohydrates in the diet will be beneficial for health as we age.”

This interesting information will, no doubt, be surprising for some. FoodFacts.com understands that high carbohydrate intake has not been a popular dietary option for quite some time. In fact, the opposite has been far more widely embraced. While dietary trends will always come and go, studies like this will give us a better view of the eating styles that are beneficial for our weight and our overall health.Getting guidance from medicine and science is a helpful tool that can better direct our dietary decisions.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150528124202.htm