Don’t believe everything you hear

It seems we constantly hear about new studies telling us one thing or another is good or bad for us.  Then months or years later, we hear that the research now indicates just the opposite of what was reported earlier.  So what do should you believe?

One study does not conclusively prove anything.  The question is can those findings be proven again?  With that said, new information does comes to light as new research unfolds.

Below are some myths and truths about nutrition and fitness that the research has invalidated or confirmed.

  • Eating late at night causes weight gain.  Weight gain is a result of consuming more calories than you burn, no matter what time of day you eat.
  • Low carbohydrate/high protein/no fat diets are the best for weight loss.grilled chicken  You may lose weight quickly, but these restrictive diets are hard to maintain long-term.  Weight is commonly regained and most importantly, you miss out on healthy nutrients.
  • Skipping meals is a good way to lose weight.  Skipping meals slows your metabolism and leads to overeating at other times of the day.
  • It is better to eat six meals a day instead of three.  Weight control is about balancing calories consumed vs. calories burned.  Do whatever works best for you.
  • Grapefruit will speed up your metabolism.  There are no foods that will help you burn calories.  Only way to increase your metabolism is to exercise your metabolism is to exercise and build muscle.
  • Rapid weight loss can be maintained.  Extremely restrictive diets generally can’t be maintained.  Most of the weight lost is water and lean tissue.
  • You have to stop eating your favorite foods to lose weight.  Embrace healthy eating, regular activity, and all foods in moderation.  Deprivation often leads to overeating those favorite foods.
  • A vegetarian or vegan diet negatively impacts workout performance.  As long as you consume adequate amounts of a variety of quality plant-based proteins sources, vegans and vegetarians can get all of the protein needed for optimal physical performance.
  • Chocolate milk is a great post-workout recovery drink.chocolate milk  Several studies have shown that both plain and chocolate milk is as effective, it no more effective, than many sports drinks for post-exercise rehydration.
  • Caffeine enhances your workouts and helps you lose weight.  If you regularly consume drinks containing caffeine, drinking additional caffeine may cause more health problems and benefits would be minimal.
  • Weight-lifting makes you bulky.  Unless you eat a tremendous amount of calories and lift extremely heavy weights, you don’t have to worry about looking like the Hulk any time soon.
  • You should weigh yourself everyday to measure progress.  Your weight can fluctuate based on hydration, salt intake, time of day, and the scale you’re using.  Pay more attention to how your body feels.
  • You can spot train to fix one specific area of your body. pushups You need to workout your whole body by consistently weight train and perform cardio.
  • You don’t need to exercise if you eat well.  Exercising daily keeps your mind health and helps prevent disease, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

For more information about deciphering published research:  Understanding Medical Research


Foods and nutrients to increase

The Dietary Guidelines suggest that Americans are most likely to get the nutrients needed and manage weight by eating nutrient-dense foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seafood, eggs, and legumes.  Nutrient-dense foods are those that provide high levels of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other substances that benefit health relative to calorie content.fruitandveggies

The Dietary Guidelines stress three reasons to eat more vegetables and fruits:

  • They contain high levels of vitamins and minerals, especially those that are typically Americans do not consume enough.
  • High vegetable and fruit consumption ( at least 2.5 cups per day) is associated with decreased risk of chronic disease such as cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
  • Vegetables and fruits are high in fiber and relatively low in calories.

Fewer than 5% of Americans get the recommended amount of whole grains per day.  Whole grains are nutrient rich and contain iron, magnesium, selenium, B vitamins, and dietary fiber.  When choosing whole grains, the grain should be the first ingredient, or second ingredient after water.  Foods that are partially whole grain should contain at least 8 g of whole grain per 1-ounce equivalent.

Milk products contain nutrients including calcium, vitamin D, and potassium – nutrients inadequately consumed by much of the population.Skimmed_milk_quark_on_spoon  Some research indicates that milk intake improves bone health in children and adolescents and contributes to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension in adults.  The Dietary Guidelines suggest that you should consume 3 cups of low-fat and fat-free milk products, or foods with equivalent nutrition such as fortified soy products or other foods high in protein, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin D, an vitamin A.

Seafood, nuts, and seeds are high in protein and B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc, magnesium, and healthy oils.  Seafood in particular is high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Dietary fiber increases feelings of fullness, promotes normal bowel function, and helps decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.  Women should consume 25 g per day and men, 38 g per day.

Potassium helps lower blood pressure, decrease risk of kidney stones, and helps prevent blood loss.

Calcium is important for bone health, nerve function, blood vessel constriction and dilation, and muscle contraction.

Vitamin D helps to reduce the risk of bone fractures.


Foods in your diet to reduce

The Dietary Guidelines is a document published and revised every five years by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services.  These guidelines are the government’s advice to Americans on how to eat to promote health. Donut_(1) These guidelines include the advise to consume less sodium, solid fat, added sugars, and refined grains.

Saturated fats are solid fats and are associated with increased total and LDL cholesterol, which increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.  Your diet should contain <10% of total calories from saturated fat.

Trans fats are solid fats that increase LDL cholesterol and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.  Your diet should contain no trans fat.

High dietary intake of cholesterol may contribute to cardiovascular disease by increasing LDL.  But this effect is reduced if saturated fat intake is low.  Your daily dietary intake of cholesterol should be <300 mg.

Solid fats are foods that are made up of mostly fat that is solid at room Western-pack-buttertemperature.  These include butter, beef fat, chicken fat, pork fat, margarine, shortening, and milk fat.  Solid fats contribute to about 19% of total calories in the typical American diet.  Foods high in solid fats include pizza, cheese, sausage, hot dogs, bacon, and french fries.  Processed meat high in solid fats are associated with an increased risk of colon rectal cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Natural sugars include fructose (fruit sugar) and lactose (milk sugar).  But most sugars in the typical American diet are added sugars, making up about 16% of total calories.  The body metabolizes natural and added sugars in the same way, but most foods high in added sugars have very little nutritional value. energy drink Common examples include soda, energy drinks, candy, and sugar-sweetened fruit drinks.

Refined grains naturally contain little to no nutrients.  Refined grains include cakes, cookies, many desserts, white bread, tortillas, and pizza.  Refined grains are best replaced with whole grains.  At least half of grains consumes should be whole grains.

High alcohol consumption increased the risk of breast cancer, cirrhosis, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, injury, and violence.  The Dietary Guidelines suggest that men consume two or fewer, and women one or fewer, alcoholic beverages per day.

Sodium intake is directly related to blood pressure for most people.salt  Maintaining a healthy blood pressure decreases the risk for cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease.  The recommended intake is less than 2300 mg for low risk individuals and 1500 mg for higher risk individuals.

For more information:


Reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s disease

The big question – can Alzheimer’s be prevented?  The research is in progress and it looks promising.  The following are habits that may warn off many neurological disorders, not just Alzheimer’s.

  • Minimize your consumption of saturated and trans fats.  These unhealthy fats increase blood cholesterol levels, which increase the production of the brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s.
  • Vegetables, legumes, fruits, and whole grains should be the foundation of your diet.  They contain vitamins and minerals that protect the brain such as vitamin B6 and folate.ARS_tropical_fruit_no_labels
  • Consume ~5 mg of vitamin E daily.  Foods such as nuts, seeds, mangoes, papayas, avocados, tomatoes, red bell peppers, spinach, and fortified breads and cereals contain this antioxidant.  You need to stick to food sources, as taking a supplement doesn’t have the same benefit.
  • Take a B12 supplement to reduce levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to cognitive impairment.
  • Avoid multivitamins with iron or copper unless directed by your physician.  Most people get enough through their diet, and ingesting them in excess can cause cognitive problems.
  • Avoid cooking with aluminum pots and pans.  Use stainless steel or cast iron cookware.  Early studies are indicating aluminum may contribute to cognitive problems.
  • Walk briskly three times a week for at least 40 minutes.  Conditions known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease also increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.Women Walking in Vasona Lake Park

For additional information on Alzheimer’s visit the Alzheimer’s Association.