Sunday, October 26, 2014

Surprising News About Weight Loss and Diabetes

Interesting news this week for those interested in losing or maintaining their weight. A surprising study out of Scotland about the benefits of sunlight on our health. 
  •       Sunlight and Childhood Obesity and Diabetes – Scottish researchers reported that sunlight can be important in preventing diabetes and helping to avoid childhood obesity.  We all know spending time outside is healthy for exercise, fresh air and to get our vitamin D.
a.       Sunlight and weight:  But now they have a new finding about sun.  “A natural gas, nitric oxide, is released by our skin after exposure to sunlight.”  (Sunlight key to fighting childhood obesity and diabetes).  This helps us control our metabolism and slow weight gain. 
b.       Sunlight and diabetes – because one gains less weight, one is less likely to get diabetes.  Exposure to sunlight also seems to reduce the risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes.  Sunlight exposure resulted in less resistance to insulin and more normal glucose levels.  This effect seems unrelated to the benefits we get from sunshine and vitamin D. 
c.       Professor David Ray stated, “These findings support the idea that a healthy lifestyle should include time outside in the sunshine, not only for exercise but also to benefits from sunlight on skin.”  (Sunlight key to fighting childhood obesity and diabetes)

So take some time today to be outside for exercise, vitamin D, to help prevent Type 2 diabetes and to help maintain your weight.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Can you eat healthier fast food?

We have all heard fast food is bad for our health.  And mostly it is.  High in fat and high in calories.  But can you enjoy some fast food without it being a belly buster or clog our arteries?  Yes, you can enjoy fast food and eat fairly healthy if you make wiser choices. 
  • Rule #1:  Skip the fried foods – I always tell my students, to avoid the fried foods.  So high in fat and calories.
  • Rule #2 – Skip the sugary soda – opt for milk, juice or just a black cup of coffee.
MSN health and fitness featured a video on healthy fast food this week Can You Really Order Healthy From a Fast-Food Restaurant?   Foods to Choose:  
1.  McDonald’s  
  • Grilled chicken sandwich – skip the mayo
  • Apple slices or side salad
  • Milk 
   2.  Subway
  • Choose the whole grain bread – 9 Grain Wheat or 9 Grain Honey Oat
  • Turkey Breast or Grilled Chicken – skip the mayo
  • Vegetables – load up on vegetables, choose the healthier spinach, olives
  • Chips – if you want chips choose baked or Sun Chips
  • Milk
  • Apple slices 
   3.  Kentucky Fried Chicken – KFC doesn’t like to be known as Kentucky Fried Chicken so now they are KFC
  • Go for the Kentucky Grilled Chicken – still very tasty and you avoid the fried chicken, chicken breast would be the healthiest choice
  • Sides – green beans, mashed potatoes (no gravy)
  • Milk  or unsweetened tea 
     4.  Domino’s Pizza – pizza can be so high in fat, especially saturated fat.  But Domino’s has some new options.
  • Veggie or Veggie and Chicken pizza - thin Crust pizza – ordering thin crust saves a lot of calories, their veggie, chicken pizza is only 140 calories a slice.   Have a couple of slices with a garden salad and you have a pretty health meal.
Most fast food restaurants post their nutrition information online.   Focus on lower fat options, especially try to reduce the saturated fat.  But I enjoy Fast Food, who doesn’t?  Last night we had Subway.  I chose the Roasted Chicken on 9 Grain bread, 6 inch, lots of veggies, chose Sun Chips and came home and added a glass of skim milk.   A pretty healthy meal.   You can eat healthier at Fast-Food restaurants, it just takes some planning and making healthier choices.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Afternoon slump? Recharge with these foods.

Who hasn’t had an afternoon when they needed some extra energy, something to give their energy a boost?  Well rather than hit the snack machine for some high sugar, high salt food or grab a left over donut in the break room, what are some foods that can give you an afternoon pick me up?  Men’s Health has some good ideas on  Foods That FIght Off an Afternoon Slump.
  •  Green Tea – Coffee is great in the morning and who doesn’t like their morning coffee?  But in the afternoon a good choice is a cup of green tea.  It contains theanine and some caffeine to help stimulate your reaction time and creativity.  The theanine will stimulate your brain cells without the jitteriness of coffee.  Keep some packets of green tea in your desk at work and be ready for an afternoon pick me up.
  • Almonds – a handful of nuts a day is a great health habit.  Almonds are a great mix of heart healthy fat, protein and fiber.  A study from Purdue University indicated almonds could aid in weight loss rather than promote weight gain.  Almonds can boost your energy levels without spiking your blood glucose levels.  Rather, almonds provide a “smooth shot of energy”.
  • Greek yogurt – or any yogurt.  Yogurt provides a good amount of protein for a steady state of energy.  It also provides calcium and vitamin D which many people are lacking these days.  Greek yogurt is higher in protein than other yogurts but also lower in calcium so women may prefer other yogurts.
  • Dark chocolate – who doesn’t love chocolate?  It is the dark chocolate that has health benefits.  The phenyethylamine in dark chocolate helps release dopamine, the feel good hormone in your body.  But don’t over do it.  As I wrote previously:    Portions – keep them small as chocolate has calories and fat. One ounce of chocolate has about 168 calories and provides 12 grams of fat.  Can Chocolate be Good for Your Heart?

Image Source:  Green Tea 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

New Soda/Pop coming your way

A few years back I saw the CEO of PepsiCo being interviewed on CNBC.  She said her goal was to make snack foods healthier.  Yeah, right.   Not too long after I noticed Sun Chips.   A whole grain chip made with a heart healthy oil.  Back then Frito Lay also began producing Doritos and Fritos that were whole grain.  But for some reason they no longer are.  But she continued to produce Frito-Lay chips with hearth healthier oils.  So now what is Indra Nooyi the CEO of Pepsi up to?  She now wants to cut down on the sugar in the sodas Pepsi produces so that Americans who are soda drinkers will get  less sugar in their diets.  Time magazine said she is putting “PepsiCo on an innovation diet”.  
Pepsi  True – a new lower sugar Soda, coming to stores in October.  Good bye high fructose corn syrup and hello sugar (sucrose).  But less sugar as Stevia will also be added.   And good bye 12 ounces, the new soda will come in a 7.5 ounce can.   Calories, 60 calories a can compared to 250 calories in the 20 ounce Pepsi that people drink. 
Good for You? No sugared soda is good for you, but lessening the added sugar in your diet would be a good thing.  And, there is no high fructose corn syrup in Pepsi True so that is another bonus.
Bad for You?  If you can do without sugared sodas, that would be the best.  But if you regularly drink Pepsi or Coke then Pepsi True would be a healthier choice.
Pepsi True is already on Pepsi’s website and they state:
                Coming Soon….A new kind of cola made for True carefree enjoyment. All the fun you love about Pepsi with 30% less sugar than regular Pepsi and no artificial sweeteners.”
They say it doesn’t have any artificial sweetener.   True, Stevia comes from leaves of a shrub but it is a sugar substitute. 

Some are praising Pepsi for at least attempting to cut back on the added sugar many Americans consume with soda.  Others, say this is just a ploy to stem the tide of falling soda sales.   But I do have to hand it to her, she is making an attempt at making the junk food healthier.  Yes, fresh fruit, low fat milk, lean meat, vegetables are all much better to eat for one’s health.  But if you eat chips, Frito-Lay chips can be a healthier choice.  If you drink sugared sodas, then Pepsi True would be a healthier alternative than regular Pepsi. 

Sources:  Indra Nooyi, The Big Soda boss is pledging a less sugary future.  Time, October 13, 2014  Image Source:  Pepsi True