PFTL News December 2018

NUTRITION MISFIRES (excerpted from IDEA Food and Nutrition Nov. 2018)

There is so much conflicting information about food and nutrition, it is a challenge to determine what is the correct information.  Stamp out misunderstandings by learning how top nutrition professionals set their clients straight on five all-too-common nutrition misfires.

Misfire #1 Sugar is bad; therefore, all carbs are bad.

“All carbs are not created equal,” advises Kathy McManus, MS, RDN, director of the Department of Nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “There are some unhealthy sources, like white bread, white rice, white potatoes, and foods containing added sugar (cake, cookies, candy and sugar-sweetened beverages). These foods raise blood sugar and can lead to diabetes and weight gain. But “The right types of carbohydrate foods, such as intact whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and other legumes, are the foundation for a healthy diet.” (Intact whole grains include all layers of the original kernel: bran, germ and endosperm.)

Focus on reducing added sugar, not on reducing sugar that occurs naturally, as in fruit or all carbohydrates. it is added sugar or refined grain, limit intake. If it’s in whole foods, dig in, though be mindful of portion control even with healthy foods.

Misfire #2 Vegetarian diets are healthy, so I should avoid all animal foods.

Vegetarians have lower rates of overweight and obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers compared with those on a typical American diet (Appleby & Key 2016). That sounds pretty compelling, but it doesn’t necessarily mean animal foods (meat, poultry, fish, dairy products) have no place in a healthy diet. In addition to protein, meats are sources of well-absorbed minerals, including iron and zinc, while milk and other dairy products are great sources of calcium.

Misfire #3 Gluten is bad for some people; therefore, everyone should avoid gluten.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. “The fact that gluten is a protein surprises people, since today’s food conversation is very positive about protein,” says Kim Kirchherr, MS, RDN, a nutrition consultant.  People with celiac disease react to gluten in a way that damages the lining of their small intestine, leading to digestive symptoms like bloating, diarrhea and malabsorption of nutrients.

Wheat sensitivities are not always related to gluten. “Some people with irritable bowel syndrome are intolerant to the carbohydrate portions of wheat called oligosaccharides. But the majority of us are totally okay to consume wheat and gluten,” says Denise Barratt, MS, RDN. She says gluten-free products may have less iron, fiber and B vitamins, so reconsider switching unless you need to avoid gluten for health reasons.

The message shouldn’t be to avoid gluten; it should be to choose more nutrient-dense breads made with whole-grain flours and, especially, more intact whole grains like barley and quinoa, which don’t raise blood sugar as much.

Misfire #4  Juicing is the best way to get your fruit and veggies.

Recent research has shown that juices are an effective way to increase vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients in the diet (Zheng 2017). In the U.S., most people don’t eat enough fruit or vegetables and may miss out on the nutrients they provide: vitamins A and C, potassium, fiber, phytonutrients, and more.

Juicers, however, usually remove fiber, and fiber is important for digestive health and cholesterol reduction, and it helps keep blood sugar under control.

Calories are another consideration. You are probably consuming a lot more calories from juice than you would if you were eating the whole fruit.

Misfire #5  Vitamins and minerals are essential for health, so I should take a lot of them.

Vitamins and minerals are critical for good health, but “bigger isn’t always better. We can’t easily get rid of excess vitamins stored in fat, such as fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. The B vitamins and vitamin C, on the other hand, are water-soluble, and we excrete what we can’t absorb, so taking an excess of those may mean you are essentially flushing the money you paid for them down the toilet.

While a multivitamin and mineral supplement containing around 100% of the Daily Values may be low risk and could make up for nutrients missing in the diet (Ward 2014), we have little research on the long-term effects of large doses of vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements. In the U.S., laws do not require the Food and Drug Administration to verify safety or effectiveness before dietary supplements are marketed to consumers (NIH 2011).

 

ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS.  DON’T FORGET TO EXERCISE,  EAT HEALTHY,  AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, BE NICE AND SMILE A LOT.

PFTL News October 2018

10 BEST FOODS TO REDUCE ANXIETY (HEALTH 09/27/18)

We all know the saying, “You are what you eat.” But recent research makes the case that this adage applies not just to your physical body but your mind as well. The foods you put on your plate really can make a real difference when it comes to mental health issues, including anxiety disorders—the top cause of mental illnesses in the United States.

How does food help with anxiety? Anxiety is caused in part by an imbalance of neurotransmitters, explains Ali Miller, RD, an integrative dietitian and author of The Anti-Anxiety Diet. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers believed to play a role in mood regulation. A diet that features nutrients from whole food ingredients helps create neurotransmitter balance by improving the gut microbiome.

When it comes to dialing down anxiety, what you don’t eat is just as important as what you do, says Nathalie Rhone, RDN. “Foods that are processed, high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, fried, or loaded with additives can all heighten anxiety since they are inflammatory in your system, which can eventually affect your brain.”

Here, 10 foods to add to your meal prep routine now.

Turkey – Tryptophan, an amino acid in turkey, has a relaxation effect can also ease anxiety. “Tryptophan helps the body produce serotonin, the happy, calming neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep,” says Rhone.

Salmon –This versatile and satiating fish is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain health and a well-functioning nervous system. Opt for wild salmon over farmed varieties.

Dark chocolate – Nutritionists sing the praises of dark chocolate because it has more healthy antioxidants than other kinds. “The antioxidants in dark chocolate trigger the walls of blood vessels to relax, which boosts circulation and lowers blood pressure.” Make a small chunk of 70% (or higher) dark chocolate a part of your mid-day diet.

Asparagus – In 2013, the Chinese government proclaimed that asparagus extract is a natural functional (aka, medicinal) food for its ability to reduce stress and promote relaxation Bonus points go to asparagus for being a prebiotic food, meaning it serves as a food source for probiotics, which are also thought to have positive effects on mood.

Sauerkraut -Speaking of probiotics, fermented products such as sauerkraut are considered probiotic foods, and consuming more of them on a regular basis appears to have a mood-boosting effect.

Citrus fruits – “Our adrenal glands are the most concentrated storage tissue for vitamin C and they use the nutrient in the regulation of cortisol,” says Miller.

Broccoli – Dark green veggies like broccoli contain magnesium, “a calming mineral that can help with relaxation, as well as with keeping things moving through your digestive system,” notes Rhone.  Other top sources of magnesium include almonds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds.

Avocado – Avocados are packed with monounsaturated fats and antioxidants that help optimize circulation, says Sass, which contributes to better blood flow to the epicenter of your anxious thoughts: your brain.

Oats – Like leafy greens, oats contain high levels of soothing minerals like magnesium. They also provide steady, even energy and are packed with antioxidants and nutrients involved in mood regulation.

Chamomile tea – Chamomile tea might help reduce your anxiety. According to a report from Harvard Medical School, chamomile tea has been shown to be an effective alternative treatment for anxiety.

SURPRISING NEWS ON DIABETIC SYMPTOMS  (IDEA Fit Tips, Vol 16, Issue 9)

Research published online in The Journals of Gerontology turned up some unexpected findings about type 2 diabetes.

Just two weeks without much activity can have a dramatic impact on health, according to researchers who studied overweight older adults at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And unfortunately, it may be difficult to recover from this negative effect.

Not only did an abrupt, brief period of inactivity hasten the onset of the disease and elevate blood sugar levels among prediabetic patients, but some study participants did not fully recover when they returned to normal activity for 2 weeks.

“We expected to find that the study participants would become diabetic, but we were surprised to see that they didn’t revert back to their healthier state when they returned to normal activity,” says Chris McGlory, a Diabetes Canada Research Fellow in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University and lead author of the study.

If people are going to be off their feet for an extended period, they need to work actively to recover their ability to handle blood sugar.

For pre-diabetic older adults to recover metabolic health and prevent further declines from periods of inactivity, strategies such as active rehabilitation, dietary changes and perhaps medication might be useful,” says McGlory.

Research has shown that within days of the start of inactivity, there are notable reductions in skeletal muscle mass and strength, along with rapid onset of insulin resistance, a common feature of type 2 diabetes.

STILL WALKING – We are still walking at 5:30pm, Mondays and Wednesdays, in Gillson Park. Everyone is welcome.

PFTL News July 2018

WALKING CLINIC JUNE 18 – September 30

All are Welcome

This will be the fourth year that PFTL will offer a free walking clinic to our clients and the public.  We will meet Mondays and Thursdays, from 5:30-6:30pm, at the Wallace Bowl in Gillson Park, Wilmette.  Includes warm-up, stretching, intervals, stair climbing, core strengthening and a great way to get some extra exercise.  Contact Julie at 847-251-6834 or [email protected] for more information.  Let us know if you want to be put on our email list for the walking clinic, as walkers are notified when the class is cancelled.

BONE BASICS (from IDEAfit.com)

  • Calcium, vitamin D, dairy and physical activity are critical to preserving and building bone mass.
  • Bone mass peaks in the early 20s.
  • BMD = bone mineral density (measured in T-score, a negative number because it quantifies bone loss).
  • Osteopenia is the onset of bone loss (T-score -1 to -2.5).
  • Osteoporosis is the most serious bone loss (T-score below -2.5).
  • Walking has limited effect on bone health. However, if combined with impact and resistance training, walking can help maintain BMD in the hip region and in the lumbar and sacral spine (Karaguzel & Holick 2010). In people over 65, increasing daily steps by 25% has been associated with an increase in hip BMD (McMillan et al. 2017).
  • Progressive resistance training helps to maintain and improve BMD.
  • High-impact activities (jumping, hopping, skipping) help the most with bone growth.
  • Posture and balance training are essential to fall prevention.
  • Heavy resistance training is safe and improves bone, function and stature.
  • Women over 50 have the highest risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

NOT ALL VITAMIN D IS CREATED EQUAL (excerpted from IDEAfit.com)

We live in a part of the world where getting enough Vitamin D from the sun is almost impossible, yet we need to keep our Vitamin D levels up throughout the year.  After all, the sunshine vitamin is not only important for bone health but has also been tied to a lower risk for certain cancers, heart conditions and depression.

That said, where you get your vitamin D matters. Researchers from Australia and the United Kingdom reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (July 2017) that when study volunteers received 600 IU of vitamin D daily via fortified juice or biscuits for 3 months, vitamin D3—the form found in animal foods like fish and eggs, as well as some supplements—was nearly twice as effective at raising blood levels of the nutrient than was vitamin D2, a plant-based form typically used to fortify vegan foods like dairy-free milk and vegetarian-friendly supplements.

A separate study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2015, discovered that after supplementation stopped, vitamin D levels declined less rapidly when participants had been taking D3 than when D2 was the supplement of choice.

DOES SLEEP HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT (from ACE Health eTips)

Sleep has the potential to help people lose weight, but not just any sleep will do. It’s important to get an adequate amount of deep sleep every night, as it is the most restorative, providing both mental and physical recovery benefits, which supports the weight-loss journey.

Most research indicates that less than 7 hours of sleep correlates with being heavier, gaining weight, risk of disease, cancer and struggling to lose weight. Other research suggests than 6.5 hours is a sweet spot and anything more increases inflammation, depression and mortality rates (Walker, 2017). Many experts believe that a range of six to eight hours or seven to nine hours is ideal for most people.

The right amount of sleep depends on each individual’s unique physiology. Devote time and attention toward finding what works for you, because it could make or break your weight-loss efforts. “Take away the bedrock of sleep, or weaken it just a little, and careful eating or physical exercise become less than effective,” writes Matthew Walker, Ph.D., author of Why We Sleep.

How Sleep Influences Weight Loss

Sleep is the foundation needed to support exercise and healthy eating habits. When people don’t get enough sleep, it can become more challenging to control behavior and inhibitions. They might be more likely to seek pleasure in foods and replace exercise-related activities with those that offer a “quick fix” reward, such as surfing the Internet or watching television.

Lack of sleep strengthens the desire for rewards, which usually leads to unhealthy eating. More specifically, leptin (which decreases hunger), ghrelin (which increases hunger) and endocannabinoids (which are linked to snack cravings) are hormones that regulate appetite. When sleep volume is low, these hormones stimulate a craving for carbohydrate-rich foods.

Without enough sleep, the body is essentially in a state of duress, which can lead to eating more calories to deal with the “threat” it perceives. Also, the more time spent awake, the more time there is to consume snacks.

Another hormone, cortisol, ideally spikes in the morning, providing energy for the day, and reduces at night, encouraging sleep. When sleep habits are poor and stress is high, cortisol levels remain elevated, which may inhibit weight loss and disrupt sleep. A cycle of stress and sleep disruption results. Stress affects sleep and sleep affects stress, which once again makes it challenging to implement even the most well-designed program for weight loss.

Getting enough sleep and rising at a consistent time every day supports hormones to regulate appetite and food choices. Take small steps toward better sleep and be gentle with yourself. In other words, don’t let stressing about not getting enough sleep add more stress. You don’t need to (and probably cannot) fix your sleep habits overnight. Progress slowly.

 

ENJOY YOURSELF THIS SUMMER – NOW THAT IT IS FINALLY HERE!

PFTL News June 2018

NEW WALKING CLINIC STARTS JUNE 18

This will be the fourth year that PFTL will offer a free walking clinic to our clients and the public.  We will meet Mondays and Thursdays, from 5:30-6:30pm, at the Wallace Bowl in Gillson Park, Wilmette.  Includes warm-up, stretching, intervals, stair climbing, core strengthening and a great way to get some extra exercise.  Contact Julie at 847-251-6834 or [email protected] for more information.  Let us know if you want to be put on our email list for the walking clinic, as walkers are notified when the class is cancelled.

USE MYOFASCIAL RELEASE AFTER A WORKOUT  (from ACE Fit Tips May 2018)

You have seen them in our studio:  foam rollers, compression balls and rolling-pin-like sticks all help reduce muscle tightness, and at least one of them should be a part of your regular recovery program. If a muscle doesn’t experience a proper cool-down, or is held in a shortened position for an extended period of time, collagen, which are inelastic fibers that are a component of the connective tissue surrounding each muscle, can bind between layers of muscle and create adhesions or knots. Traditional massage therapy works by manually manipulating muscle tissue to break up adhesions, allowing the layers of muscle to slide against one another without restrictions. The pressure and motion of a muscle moving on a foam roller can help break up adhesions and realign muscle tissue to be able to function normally.

In general, foam rollers provide the greatest response when an individual places a body-part directly on top of the roller and moves rhythmically to apply pressure to the underlying muscle and elastic connective tissue. Breaking up adhesions can help reduce muscle tightness and improve joint range of motion. Because it is not practical to hire a massage therapist after every workout, foam rollers, rolling sticks or compression balls can be used to apply the necessary pressure to break up collagen and promote optimal muscle recovery.

Do not, however, try to “roll out” your low back or neck with a foam roller, as you will be putting unnecessary pressure on the vertebrae.  Instead, use compression balls to apply pressure to the muscles only, not the bones.

BRAIN GYM ACTIVITIES – (from IDEA Fitness Journal May 2018) These are short, intentional exercises used in workplaces to release stress and enhance learning and work productivity. Here are two to try:

Cross-crawls. Stand or sit and march in place, touching one hand to the opposite knee, then doing the reverse (alternate). Continue for 4-8 complete breaths to activate both brain hemispheres. This exercise engages the brain and coordinates visual, auditory and kinesthetic abilities.

The owl. Grasp the R shoulder with the L hand near the neck and squeeze firmly. Inhale deeply, and then exhale, turning the head to look over the R shoulder. Inhale and return to center. Drop the head forward and exhale, then inhale and raise head. Repeat for 3 or more breaths and then switch sides. The owl relaxes the neck muscles and increases listening comprehension.

FIVE FOODS YOU WANT TO SKIIP TO STAY SLIM  (from ACE Healthy Living May 2018)

More than 20,000 new food and drink items hit our grocery store shelves each year and, with so much conflicting information about health and nutrition floating around, it can be challenging to know what you should and should not be putting in your body. Here are five foods with unwarranted health halos that aren’t doing your body any favors, especially if you’re trying to reduce or maintain your weight.

Fruit Juice – skip the juice to stay slim. Eat your fruit—don’t drink it. Juice adds calories in a concentrated form without any of the fiber found in real fruit, which is one of the best reasons to eat fruit. When you juice fruit and discard the pulp or don’t include the peel, you’re getting rid half or more of the fiber. If you like the idea of juice for the flavors it offers, add fresh fruit to your water.

Granola Bars – Granola bars aren’t so good for your waistline. If it looks like a cookie and it tastes like a cookie…it’s a cookie. At its core, granola is just a grain with added sugar and fat. Package it up in bar form and it gets even less healthy. Most commercial granola bars are made with refined grains and contain added sweeteners and fat, and they rarely feature whole grains, fiber or protein, which should be key components of a better-for-you bar. You can find great recipes for homemade granola bars that are full of fiber and flavor. Bypass the granola bar aisle and save yourself from what are clearly just cookies in disguise.

Flavored Yogurt – flavored yogurt is bad for your waistline. If you can tolerate dairy, there is nothing wrong with plain yogurt. Unfortunately, not all yogurts are created equal, and most are packed with added sugar. Fruited and flavored yogurts are the worst, as they pretend to feature fruit. If they actually did include real fruit, it would also contain fiber, which yogurt products don’t. If you like fruited yogurt, make it yourself by adding real fruit to real yogurt and leave the flavored stuff on the shelf.

Veggie Chips – veggie chips aren’t a healthy food. Veggie chip bags show pretty pictures of real vegetables, but the ingredient list tells a different story. Most vegetable chips are a variety of fried and salted versions of potato starch. While a potato is technically a vegetable, when you fry and salt it, you negate its nutritional value. In other words, veggie chips are glorified potato chips. You want real veggie chips? Cut up vegetables, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with a modest amount of salt and bake them. If you want potato chips, buy them, but don’t pretend your veggie chips aren’t French fries in disguise.

Pretzels – pretzels aren’t good for staying slim. Somewhere in the fat-free frenzy of the 1990s, people got the notion that pretzels were a health food. Sure, they have no fat, but neither does white bread. And pretzels are just white bread with a little more crunch and salt. What about whole-grain pretzels, you say? You’d be hard-pressed to find a pretzel in which the first ingredient is actually a whole grain. Even pretzels made with whole grains are mostly refined white flour that contains no fiber. If you want a satiating snack, choose nuts over pretzels. Nuts contain fat, fiber and protein, and are a much more satiating snack.

PFTL NEWS April 2018

MOMENTUM OR NO-MENTUM  (from ACE Healthy Living 3/28/18)

It’s easier to continue doing what you’ve been doing most consistently. If you have been successful with health behaviors, it easier to keep eating healthfully and integrating enjoyable physical activity and exercise into your life. You’ve got momentum. Likewise, if you have been in a pattern of moving less, skipping workouts, and eating poorly, it is also easier to keep doing that. You’ve got no-mentum—an increased likelihood of continuing to not follow health behaviors.

Blame it on inertia—expressed as resistance to change—which means a body at rest tends to stay that way while a moving body tends to keep moving. It’s Newton’s first law of motion, and it’s just as applicable to a ball rolling downhill as it is to your life.

Further, the law says the body will continue in its present state until it is acted on by an outside force. An outside force is like an external motivator, and could be anything from bad results from a blood test, a spouse or partner who wants you to lose weight, or someone making fun of you for being out of shape. These external factors might get you started, but they almost never keep you going over the long-term. To do that, you need to use your internal force. It’s your inner motivation and strength.

Gather Your Inner Forces  –   Answer these questions to help identify the internal forces that keep you motivated:

Identity: What kind of person are you? What do you stand for?  Your sense of who you are as a person and what you stand for gives you a connection to what is truly important to you. For what matters most, you often find it easy to do what you need to do. When you care enough, the effort becomes almost effortless. Whatever your best qualities are, consider using them in the area of health behaviors. When health is something you “should” do—a chore, task or obligation—you will be more likely to struggle. When you make health a part of your identity, you will more easily follow through on it.

Strength: What is something you excel at doing?  You’re awesome at something. Perhaps even multiple things. All of the qualities that make you a terrific parent, manager, business owner, hard worker, community leader, etc., can also be used to ensure success with health. It is not unusual to meet people who own successful businesses, work in very demanding fields and successfully manage family needs, and yet are crippled when it comes to following through on a health plan.

You already have a lot of skills and abilities to organize complex and challenging tasks and achieve them—just use those same skills to improve your health instead of compartmentalizing them to the areas in which you are successful.

Meaning: What do you most care about in life?  Why bother? Why do any of it? Why work hard at anything? What and/or who truly motivates you in this life? Whatever you care most about in life, you will enjoy it more and do it more effectively if you do it in a healthy body. Whoever matters most to you in life—your friends, partner, spouse, pets—whatever time you spend with them will be richer and more enjoyable when you live in a healthy body.

Health has an almost magical ability to elevate almost all other experiences you have and to expand your view of the world. As the saying goes, “A healthy person has many goals; an unhealthy person has one.”

Enjoyment: What is something you have done (or would like to try) that puts a smile on your face while you are exerting yourself physically?  Stop engaging in forms of exercise, physical activity or classes that you do not enjoy. Just stop. Forcing yourself to do things you don’t enjoy because you think you should never works. Haven’t we been trying this for long enough to know this? No one naturally hates physical activity (or vegetables). We learn it. There are no fish born that hate swimming in water.

Find healthy foods you enjoy and don’t eat the ones you don’t enjoy. Try different forms of physical activity until you find some you enjoy. Consider getting back into a sport or activity you used to love but stopped when you got married/had kids/got busy at work (i.e., lost yourself in other things and people) or try an activity that you have always wanted to.

The hardest part of health is getting started. If that’s where you are, let’s make this the last time you ever start again and turn “no-mentum” into momentum.

MUSCLE LOSS IN OLD AGE LINKED TO FEWER NERVE SIGNALS (from BBC News-Health March 2018)

Researchers say they may have worked out why there is a natural loss of muscle in the legs as people age – and that it is due to a loss of nerves. In tests on 168 men, they found that nerves controlling the legs decreased by around 30% by the age of 75. This made muscles waste away, but in older fitter athletes there was a better chance of them being ‘rescued’ by nerves re-connecting. The scientists published their research in the Journal of Physiology.

As people get older, their leg muscles become smaller and weaker, leading to problems with everyday movements such as walking up stairs or getting out of a chair. It is something that affects everyone eventually, but why it happens is not fully understood.

Prof Jamie McPhee, from Manchester Metropolitan University, said young adults usually had 60-70,000 nerves controlling movement in the legs from the lumbar spine. But his research showed this changed significantly in old age.

“There was a dramatic loss of nerves controlling the muscles – a 30-60% loss – which means they waste away,” he said. “The muscles need to receive a proper signal from the nervous system to tell them to contract, so we can move around.”

The research team from Manchester Metropolitan University worked with researchers from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, and the University of Manchester. They looked at muscle tissue in detail using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and they recorded the electrical activity passing through the muscle to estimate the numbers and the size of surviving nerves.

The good news is that healthy muscles have a form of protection: surviving nerves can send out new branches to rescue muscles and stop them wasting away. This is more likely to happen in fit people with large, healthy muscles, Prof McPhee said.

Although it is not known why connections between muscles and nerves break down with age, finding out more about muscle loss could help scientists find ways of reversing the condition in the future.

Happy Spring!  Soon you can get outdoors again, and enjoy all the things that nice weather allows.