Can the Secret to Weight Loss Be Found in Your DNA?

March 15th, 2010

Research being done in conjunction with Stanford University is showing that your success with different types of weight loss diets may depend on your genetics.

There’s a wide variety of weight loss diets to choose from, and while they all make big claims about delivering results, the diets are often drastically different. Furthermore, each of these diets typically have their share of glowing success stories as well as reports of making people feel miserable. Although there are many factors that contribute to the success or failure of a weight loss diet, perhaps the most obvious conclusions that can be drawn from these discrepancies are that we each respond to food in different ways and that the type of diet that works extremely well for one person may very well cause problems for another. Could genetic testing be the solution to this uncertainty?

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More Reason to Not Count Calories

February 26th, 2010

Like most people, you’re probably conscientious of the amount of calories that you eat. Perhaps you even count how many you consume each day. If so, what would you do if you discovered that the calorie data you’ve been using is unreliable?

Researchers from Tufts University analyzed the calorie content of a variety of supermarket and restaurant foods and found themselves asking the same question. In many cases, the actual calorie content of the food varied considerably from number of calories listed by the manufacturer or restaurant. This has significant implications for people who count calories to lose or maintain weight.

The entire basis of calorie counting is dependent on accurately assessing and adjusting one’s daily caloric intake based on their caloric needs. People looking to maintain their weight will generally consume about the same amount of calories that they need for the day, and those who want to lose weight will typically try to eat slightly less. Inaccurate calorie data could easily cause someone to consume more calories than intended and result in them gaining weight instead of losing or maintaining it.

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Why Skim Milk Isn’t as Healthy as You May Think

February 22nd, 2010

We’ve been told for years that skim milk and low fat milk are healthier choices than whole milk, but is this really the case? While this advice is mostly based on avoiding saturated fat, there are other important factors to consider as well.

Milk is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals before they’re able to eat and digest other types of food. It’s an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, all of which are critical to proper development. This applies to the fat content of milk as well. When the fat is removed, so is a portion of its nutritional quality and its ability to support healthy development. The recommendation to avoid milk fat is not only based on questionable science, but is also influenced by the profit based motives of the dairy industry.

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Discomfort Now or Misery Later?

February 18th, 2010

When faced with a challenge, whether good or bad, many people have a long list of excuses why they don’t fully dedicate themselves to overcoming it. While the need to make changes may seem unpleasant or overwhelming, the long term consequences of not doing so are often far worse. There are few things that this applies to more so than your health.

Regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs, you only have one chance to make the best of the life you’re currently living. If you fail to address the many challenges that modern life poses to our health, you may find yourself physically or mentally incapable of living the type of life that you’d like to live. In short, you have the choice of dealing with discomfort now or increasing your chances of having to endure misery later.

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In-GREED-ients: Do You Know What Hydrogenated Oil Is?

February 15th, 2010

Hydrogenated oil is an ingredient in an overwhelming number of foods, and despite the fact that it’s a serious health risk, most people don’t know what it is or that it even exists.

David Burton, a cardiac nurse, was shocked when he learned that hydrogenated oil is trans fat and that it’s a major risk for heart disease. As a nurse who treats patients suffering from heart disease, he was disappointed and frustrated by the fact that his training didn’t provide him with this information and that his fellow nurses and doctors weren’t aware of it either. Most unsettling was the realization that he was feeding this dangerous ingredient to his two year old daughter. He responded by making an informative documentary about trans fat that everyone should see.

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Learn from Andre Agassi’s Search For Meaning

February 11th, 2010

Andre Agassi’s autobiography, appropriately and cleverly titled Open, is about much more than his historic tennis career. In fact, it’s more about his search for meaning than anything else. Whether you’re into tennis or not, there’s plenty of inspiration and deep insight to take from Andre’s story and apply to your own.

I was looking forward to reading Andre’s autobiography because he slowly won me over as a fan towards the end of his career, and of course, because I love tennis. I greatly respect how he reinvented both his attitude and career, but what I really wanted to learn more about was how he trained and developed his game. Although the book didn’t offer much in this regard, I was still glued to it because of Andre’s fascinating story and his inspiring perspective on life in general. As such, this isn’t only a great book for tennis fans, but also for athletes or anyone else looking to find more meaning in their lives.

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Why Calorie Counting is a Bad Way to Lose Weight

February 8th, 2010

Almost everyone knows that doing more exercise and reducing calorie consumption will promote weight loss. But if weight loss is this simple, then why are so many people failing miserably despite their desperate efforts? While it may be a result of laziness for some, it’s more often a result of calorie restriction and exercise being used inappropriately.

Despite how many people make drastic but temporary changes to lose weight, long term success is highly dependent on making less drastic changes that are permanent. It’s common for people to be overzealous with calorie restriction or exercise, and although it may initially be effective, these practices are eventually likely to lead to fatigue, a raging appetite that can no longer be resisted, compromised health, and an eventual return to old habits. This is why so many people regain the weight they’ve worked so hard to lose and continue to repeat this cycle until they eventually give up and choose to accept being overweight.

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A1 Beta Casein: The Devil in Your Milk

February 4th, 2010

Although milk is one of the most common foods in the modern diet, pasteurization and modern dairy farming practices pose a number of concerns. In addition, many people are unable to properly digest dairy and it’s also one of the most common sources of food sensitivities which can cause a number of seemingly unrelated symptoms. As if this isn’t enough to worry about, there’s unfortunately another important and potentially harmful aspect of milk to consider.

Two varieties of proteins exist in milk. The most prominent is casein which represents 80% of the protein in milk, and the other, which is much more widely recognized, is whey. The digestion of a specific type of casein has been found to produce an opioid byproduct that can be very problematic for humans as well as animals. There’s strong evidence that links this casein and its opioid derivative with heart disease, mental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, type 1 diabetes, and a number of other autoimmune disorders. Fortunately, there are simple ways to avoid these risks.

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Mis Vacaciones a Riviera Maya, México

February 1st, 2010

To celebrate my wife’s birthday, we decided to go on our first all inclusive resort vacation. We stayed at the El Dorado Royale in Riviera Maya, Mexico which is about a 20 minute drive from Cancun. As always, I returned home with some observations about healthy living.

The picture to the left is the view from the balcony of our room. The thin strip of blue above the palm trees is the Caribbean Sea. It may not be an ocean front view, but it was excellent nonetheless. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it including falling asleep each night to the sound of the waves crashing along the shore.

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Agave Nectar: Healthy or Hype?

January 27th, 2010

Agave nectar has been marketed as a natural and healthy alternative to common table sugar and is becoming a popular ingredient in many so called health foods. Unfortunately, many of the marketing claims associated with agave nectar aren’t true, and it’s arguable that this trendy sweetener actually poses more of a health risk than the sugar that it’s used to replace.

Given the health concerns associated with sugar and its tendency to cause weight gain, many people are going out of their way to avoid it. Those who are conscientious about their health are less likely to use artificial sweeteners, and as a result, are more likely to be influenced by the misleading marketing that depicts agave nectar as a healthier and more natural alternative to table sugar. Although agave nectar is commonly found in health food stores and is an increasingly common ingredient in so called health foods, this is by no means an indication of its safety or nutritional quality.

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