Category Archives: Dieting/Healthy Living

Jet Lag Could Make You Gain Weight

Ever wonder what effects jet lag really has on you? We all know that feeling of being dragged down, tired, but there is a third pain. All that junk food you also tend to eat when you’re jet lagged, it’s because the bacteria in your gut is also tired. They help you to keep everything on schedule. The bacteria in your gut helps you to digest and keep things balanced. When your bacteria isn’t happy, you’re not happy, and your pants aren’t going to fit so well.

Eran Elinav MD, PhD of the Weizmann Institute of Science and lead author of the most recent study says, These findings provide an explanation for a long-standing and mysterious observation, namely that people with chronically disturbed day-night cycles due to repetitive jet lag or shift work have a tendency to develop obesity and other metabolic complications.

Elinav has high hopes for the future, that this will lead to future treatments for jet lag and obesity. Specifically, he wants to be able to help people with more erratic schedules to be able to lose or control their weight. Until that time that we have a cure, here are a few basic tips on how to handle your jet lag:

  1. Keep It Simple: Stick to a simple regimen. Rule out as many complications as you can. Ruth Sorotzkin MD, an internist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA says, If it doesn’t have to be done then don’t do it. This could be things varying from complicated work meetings to large meals with family and friends or elaborate meals you have to cook. Give your body some time. Some people do better than others. But don’t get into too much too fast.
  2. Drink More Water: You can stay hydrated on the plane, before, and after your flight. Drink plenty of water throughout, and eat small, light, frequent meals to keep your digestive system functioning, but not overworked. Also don’t be afraid to take short naps. Your body needs it.
  3. Get Some Exercise: Exercise can be amazing. It gets your blood flowing, lets you beat it out, and it actually helps your body to reestablish its timelines. Sorotzkin explains, As soon as you land try and take a walk outside in the fresh air and where you can see the light and feel the sun. According to experts, one of the most powerful tools we have to reset our internal clocks is natural sunlight.
  4. Get a Probiotic Supplement: Probiotic supplements can help you to rebalance and fortify your immune system by balancing out the gut bacteria. Taking them during your trip can help you to avoid a lot of the unpleasant tummy side effects of jet lag.

The Problem With Hidden Eating Disorders

When you think of an eating disorder, you think of a skinny little girl who looks like a walking skeleton. There are people who don’t fit that mold though. Maybe they’re not skinny enough to be sick. Maybe they were obese before, and now you think they’re finally getting healthy. As Brittany Miles, a woman who had struggled with a less obvious eating disorder, puts it, Just because my bone structure stopped me from being the size 00 everyone pictures, doesn’t mean that I wasn’t in an incredibly unsafe and unhealthy place.

A person’s weight or physical appearance is not the only thing that can indicate an eating disorder, but it’s often the default thing we look for. It can cause incidents like that of Frances Chen being nearly expelled for being unable to gain weight when her family is actually naturally thin. There are also some who actually gain weight with bulimia.

Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) says, Weight can be an indicator of an eating disorder, but it certainly isn’t the only one or even the best one.

Our society faces some serious misunderstandings and confusions about what we see as an eating disorder, and it’s not just our family or friends. Your doctor can, and sometimes does, miss the signs. Grefe adds, It used to be that a girl had to miss her period for a certain amount of time to be considered anorexic, but that is no longer true. The most important thing in diagnosing an eating disorder is the mental part of it. It is the obsession with food, the nagging thoughts, the consumption.

There are those hidden eating disorder stories that end happily. Someone recognizes them, they get help, and they are able to recover. Unfortunately, especially when they don’t fit our expectations of what an eating disorder is, there are many more who fly under the radar until it’s too late.

When Green Tea Is A Bad Thing

Green tea has been talked about as some miraculous supplement. Year after year, they have talked about all of the benefits, saying that it can help you to lose weight, lower your cholesterol, and so on down the line. However, in other news, the benefits of green tea have been downplayed to a considerable degree, and more than that, there are some who suggest that it may not be as safe as they want you to think.

The American College of Gastroenterology and offered new recommendations about green tea, suggesting that it could actually cause toxic liver failure.

Catechins are key here. Yes, they have been called out for being healthy, fat burners, cholesterol lowering antioxidants even. The problem that many don’t realize is that it’s very possible to have too much of a good thing. Catchins target the mitochondria powerhouse cells, and they stop them from metabolizing your food for energy according to research, which could lead to jaundice, hepatitis, or liver failure according to study authors including Herbert Bonkovsky MD.

The National Institutes of Health estimate that unregulated supplements have a direct connection to 20% of drug-related liver injuries. Despite what you may think, it takes a surprisingly small dose to do this much damage. So it’s best to tone it down. You should limit yourself to a maximum of 500mg per day, if even that. Proceed with caution as some supplements researchers tested had 700mg in just one capsule.

Bonkovsky says, There isn’t any need to take these supplements, and when you look at the actual scientific evidence, the benefits of green tea are small to nil. A bit harsh? You would think, but then again, I tend to trust the research of a qualified doctor over the commercials simply designed to sell you something.

Does Green Coffee Help You To Lose Weight?

Alongside green tea, green coffee bean has become quite the hot commodity in the weight loss world. The caffeine increases natural fat burning and metabolism while healthy antioxidants reduce inflammation and improve health. You can buy both at Starbucks, and the fact that it fights tiredness and fatigue certainly doesn’t hurt. There are even some who say that it doesn’t have the same side effects as some other forms of caffeine, even normal coffee.

As far as the energy based benefits, I think that’s pretty obvious. Green coffee bean has plenty of caffeine. What about the rest of it though? Does green coffee bean really have any weight loss or health benefits?

There are plenty of supplements ranging from big brands like Hydroxycut down to a generic brand you might find at Costco or Walmart. There are studies, all of which have been funded by companies who are interested in selling green coffee bean products (surprise!). These studies do often find that people were more likely to lose weight when they used a higher dose of green coffee bean such as 400mg, but is this actually true, or are the results simply biased?

The caffeine in the green coffee bean used in these studies has an effect on energy, but it wouldn’t have actually been enough on its own to explain the substantial benefits and weight loss supposedly found. Scientists explain this by saying that green coffee bean has an ingredient known as chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant that changes how the body responds to sugar. This ingredient may help to reduce the risk of diabetes (as coffee is known to).

It’s something that is still under investigation, and I would like to see an independent trial funded by the government (or someone who isn’t trying to sell us green coffee bean, a miracle supplement….). However, only time will tell if this is actually going to happen.

Getting Out of a Bad Relationship Could Help You Fight The Battle of the Bulge

There are plenty of reasons why you should get out of bad, or even abusive relationships. The chronic stress that an abusive relationship can cause could affect you for the rest of your life, and even short term, an unpleasant relationship can make you unpleasant, hard to be around, and in general unhappy. According to science, there’s another side effect. A bad relationship could make you fat.

Researchers from Ohio State University have studied the idea, finding that a contentious relationship increases your risk of obesity, because it changes the way your body reacts to fatty foods. Who knew it could change your body chemistry that much.

Researchers took this question seriously, and the idea seriously. They brought in 43 couples who had been married for at least 3 years, and they asked them about psychological history such as depression and mood disorders as well as their marriage satisfaction. They then fed the subjects high-fat meals and asked them discuss or resolve one of the issues they had. They watched and broke it down into psychological abuse, distress maintaining conversations, hostility, or withdrawal.

Those with a history of mood disorders who also experienced hostile interactions in these confrontations burned fewer calories in the fatty meals they ate, and they also had more insulin in their blood. So it’s not just eating more fat. It’s actually not being able to process it as effectively.

Martha Belury, co-author of the study said, Insulin stimulates food intake and the accumulation of fat tissue in the abdomen. And adding that on top of the lower energy expenditure creates a higher likelihood for obesity. But it doesn’t stop there: Elevated triglycerides lead to heart disease. Along with high insulin, elevated triglycerides indicate metabolism of sugars and fats is impaired. These are hallmarks of increased risk for heart disease and diabetes.

In short, if you live in an unhappy relationship, it may be time to cut the ties and get out. More than 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese, and it’s not all because of bad relationships. But for those who are experiencing this phenomenon, it seems obvious. Get out of the relationship.

Obese Women Are Different Than Men

Over and over, we’re given options to lose weight this way and that, and they spread them across the board. There are those who blame women’s habits for women having a harder time losing weight than men, but it’s more than that. For one thing, testosterone is a natural fat burner that women just don’t have as much of.

Women actually gain weight for different reasons than men, and it’s not just the basic hormones. Obese women, according to a study in the journal Cell Biology, have a specific, food related learning deficit as they call it that is not observed in obese men or people of healthy weight. This may explain why they gain so much weight.

Researchers looked at this by presenting men and women with different colored squares and then pictures of rewards (food or money). They were then asked to predict the likelihood of a reward after a certain color or pattern. It was only obese women who struggled to accurately predict when a food picture would come, but they easily predicted the money suggesting a different learning curve when it comes to food.

Co-author Ifat Levy PhD, neuroscientist at Yale University says, I must admit that we did not expect a gender difference. She explains that it might be that obese people have additional cognitive loads when it comes to food. Levy continues, Women are generally more concerned about being obese or their appearance, and therefore this load may be heavier for women.

Of course, they will need to conduct more studies to determine if the learning deficit is actually the cause or the other way around. Levy posits, It could be that obese individuals – or at least obese women – fail to flexibly adjust their valuation of food. For example, when we are hungry, food is perceived as highly rewarding. But when we are full, the food is less rewarding and can even be aversive. It is possible that some obese individuals fail to recognize the change in their internal environment, and thus keep regarding the food as highly rewarding even when it should not be.

Levy hopes for her research to help move the field of obesity research along and break into more of the actual causes to find better treatments.

The Benefits Of Being A Part Time Vegan

Low carb and low fat have dominated the diet scene, especially when it comes to weight loss. There has been a lot of talk about the health benefits of being vegetarian or vegan, but there have been just as many who claim that you can’t possibly get things like protein from anything but meat, because of course we don’t eat tofu, beans, nuts, or other non-meat based protein sources. This said, the more people talk about GMO and other issues, the more people are turning to a more natural diet plan, which could be at least partially vegan, which may not be such a bad thing.

If you’ve ever tried a vegan diet, most of us aren’t disciplined enough to do it all the time. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from it. New York Times columnist Mark Bittman suggests that by being a part time vegan, you could largely eliminate the GMOs and antibiotics in your food, lower your carbon footprint, eat healthier, and substantially cut back on sugar.

Eat fruits and veggies with every meal, and drop the meat in 1-2 of your meals, and you’re doing great.

There are some who are recommending a vegan diet until 6PM for both weight loss and good health. Bittman in particular has become a significant proponent of the diet approach finding, We should all be eating more plants and you don’t have to give up anything to do that. I probably eat 60% less meat than I used to. I almost never cook meat at home, and at dinner I’m usually either vegetarian or I eat fish.