Monday, April 15, 2013

Another Reason to Live an Organic Lifestyle

Did you know the chemicals used in your shampoo, body lotion, detergent, and cleaners don’t need to be tested for safety prior to going on the market? Naturally, we assume these products wouldn’t be allowed to be sold unless they had been proven safe. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with consumer chemicals (pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and industrial chemicals have different testing criteria). The Toxic Substances Control Act hasn’t been updated since it was adopted in 1970. This means criteria for addressing chemicals is seriously outdated.  According to Dr. Richard Denison, senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, “it’s the worst kind of Catch- 22. Under this law, the EPA can’t even require testing to determine whether a risk exists without first showing a risk is likely”. 
We see this same scenario over and over. Before any action can be taken to insure America’s safety, a risk or danger has to be PROVEN! Where is the common sense factor? Prove a product is safe before it is allowed on the market!  Only a minute number of the chemicals on the market today have been independently tested for safety.  The EPA has mandated testing in only a handful of the 85,000 industrial chemicals used in products today on suspicion of toxic or dangerous properties. And since 1970, the EPA has only banned five substances: polychlorinated bisphenols, dioxin, hexavalent chromium, asbestos, and chlorofluorocarbons!
We are exposed to so many more chemicals than we were in the 1970’s. Chemicals are everywhere. There are bisphenols in our water bottles and cans. Our mattresses, sofas, and children’s sleep wear have flame retardants. There are nonylphenols in detergents, shampoos, and paints. We cook with Teflon, use stain resistants on clothes, furniture, and carpet, and put chlorine and fluoride in our water. We are exposed to so many chemicals that they have become ubiquitous. Research is showing that newborn babies have more than 200 identifiable chemicals in their cord blood and many of them are known carcinogens.
Federal reform hopefully will be on the 2013 agenda. Senators Frank Lauten and Kirsten Gillibrand have introduced a bill called the Safe Chemical Act of 2013, which would require proof that chemical is safe in order to be sold. Unfortunately, there is opposition citing this bill would raise costs, limit innovation, and put American companies at a competitive disadvantage.
What can you do to limit your chemical consumption? Eat organic foods whenever possible. When buying mattresses, request a medical note to omit flame retardant (we do this at the office). Use a water purifier to remove chloride and fluoride. Don’t microwave in plastic. Avoid Teflon products.  Wash new clothes prior to wearing. Buy clothes that don’t need to be dry cleaned.  Look for shampoos without sodium laurel sulfate and detergents without phenols, chlorine bleach, and chemical fragrance.  Avoid phthalates and parabens in lotions and cosmetics.  Look around your home, garden, and office and try to eliminate as many unnecessary chemicals as possible.                            

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Is My Orange Juice Better Than Cola?


April 4, 2013
Is my orange juice a better health choice than coca cola? Yes, but barely. Twelve ounces of orange juice has a whopping 37 grams of sugar or almost 10 teaspoons. The same amount of coca cola has 39 grams of sugar.  Although orange juice has nutrients that a coke doesn’t such as vitamin C and potassium, in my opinion it’s not a healthy choice. One reason is because it has no fiber. Fiber is extremely important when eating sweet things. It slows down sugar absorption, which is really important for avoiding weight gain, insulin resistance, and diabetes. Instead of drinking juice, eat an orange. Robert Lustig’s new book, Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease, documents the connection between sugar and high fructose corn syrup and the epidemic of obesity and lifestyle diseases that have become epidemic in the last 30 years.

Do Stress and Lack of Sleep Conspire to Make You Fat?


Barbara Goshorn BSRN MSACN

The Nurse Nutritionist

You bet they do! The trouble with stress is that it seeps into every area of your life- affecting your sleep, mood, and the size of your waistline.  The interactions between these factors were a subject in a recent study in the International Journal of Obesity.  The researchers expected to find a correlation with stress and weight gain but were astonished to see how sleep was an important predictor in the ability to lose weight (and successfully keep it off).
Participants were enrolled in a weight loss program that included weekly group meetings, keeping a food journal, reducing calorie consumption by 500 calories daily, and exercising 6 times a week for 30 minutes.  Participants in the study who reported sleeping less than 6 hours a night were unable to meet a 10 pound weight loss, compared with people who slept 6-8 hours.  Those that reported high levels of stress were also had trouble making a 10 pound weight loss.  Those participants who slept the least and considered their lives stressful not only couldn’t lose weight they actually gained weight on what would be considered a healthy weight loss program.
Another study done by researchers from Columbia University identified stress and sleep deprivation as culprits in weight gain.  They showed that when people are sleep deprived (less than 4 hours of sleep for 6 nights), they ate an average of 329 more calories a day then when they were rested (8 hours a night for 6 nights).  They also found that the increase in calories was usually in the form of simple carbohydrates, sweets, and fast food.
Why do sleep deprivation and stress make us fat?  It appears as if hormones are responsible.  It is thought that lack of sleep and disruptions in our sleep cycles stimulates the hormone gherlin.  Gherlin stimulates our appetite.  Levels of another hormone, leptin go down.  Leptin is the hormone that tells us we are full or satisfied.
Another hormone that appears to be involved is cortisol.  Cortisol is the “stress” hormone that is released by our adrenal glands.  It controls blood pressure, blood sugar, and fat and sugar metabolism for fast energy. The end results of which can lead to elevations in blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight gain.  Cortisol also makes us hungry.  If our bodies perceive physical or psychological stress, cortisol levels rise.  This is a survival mechanism termed “the fight or flight response”.  Unfortunately we have so much stress (and lack of sleep) in our lives today; many of us have chronically elevated cortisol levels.  This leads to elevated blood pressure, sugar levels (diabetes), and weight gain.  Studies have shown that weight gain from cortisol is deposited in the abdominal area not the hips or backside.  This fat is termed inflammatory fat because it elevates inflammatory levels and is shown to increase cardiovascular diseases including heart attacks and strokes.
Getting enough sleep and finding ways to decrease stress are real issues in America today .Exercise, chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, and yoga have all been documented to decrease cortisol levels.  Meditation has also been shown to be effective in lowering stress and cortisol levels.   Slow deep breathing (4 breaths/minute) as well as visualization also decreases cortisol levels.  Aim for between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.  Although stress will always be with us trying some of the strategies can go a long way in how we perceive our stressors.

Small Diet Strategies that Work


Reprinted from: Lori’s Natural Food Newsletter, April, 2013

Barb Goshorn RN, MSACN 

By now many have forgone their New Year’s resolution to lose weight and are back to their old eating habits. Remember, although it’s exciting to make gigantic overhauls in eating, these changes are very difficult to maintain over the long term. When rapid, restrictive changes are made it often makes one feel deprived. This leads to the inability to maintain healthy eating for the long term and by February we are back to our old habits and have regained the weight we lost in January. When it comes to weight loss, it’s important to make small, gradual changes that are realistic and maintainable. Small positive steps help build momentum in achieving permanent weight loss and help improve the lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Pay attention to portion control. Most of us are unaware of how large our portion sizes have become. Years ago a dinner plate was 9 inches, now it is 11 inches. We fill our plates without realizing we are eating two to three times a serving size. When eating out, order an appetizer instead of an entrée, share your meal with a friend, or ask to have half your meal packaged up. Reading labels is important too. Many packaged foods look as if they are one serving but are actually two or more. Another strategy is to leave a percentage of your meal on your plate. Research indicates that our calorie consumption has increased by 20% since the 1970’s. Leaving 10% on your plate is a good way to compensate for this.
Include more vegetables in your diet. Research indicates we only eat an average of 59% of the vegetables we’re supposed to consume daily. You should aim for 2.5 cups a day to lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It’s easy to add vegetables. Add lettuce, tomatoes, and green peppers to sandwiches. Add extra vegetables to canned soup such as spinach and cabbage. Replace a portion of lasagna noodles with thin slices of zucchini. Add onion, mushrooms, and spinach to eggs. If you like protein shakes, add a scoop of dried greens. If you don’t have time to make a salad, utilize bagged salads.
Pay attention to what you are eating. So often we finish a meal and have little recollection of what we’ve eaten. Try not to multitask during a meal. Eating should be a time to slow down. Turn off the television and internet. Take the time to enjoy the taste and aroma of your food. When you relax and take the time to enjoy your meal, you will often feel satisfied for longer periods of time.
Snack with caution. Snacking now accounts for upwards of 500 calories a day. This is up from 200 calories a day in the 1970’s. Snacking should provide healthy carbohydrates and protein instead of the high sugar and fat in snacks that are more the norm today. An example of some good snacks that are between 100 and 200 calories are an apple with almonds, hummus with green peppers and carrots, or a Greek yogurt with a pear.
Eat only while sitting. How often do we stand with the refrigerator door open, snacking, while deciding what we want to eat? We often eat on the run and don’t even remember eating. Often while cooking we snack so much, we aren’t even hungry for dinner. All those snacks add up. If you make it a rule to only eat while sitting you will eliminate a lot of mindless snacking. You will also digest your food better and may feel content longer.
Eat breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. After going all night without food it is a great way to refuel your body. It’s important to include protein and carbohydrates in breakfast to increase your energy levels. Breakfast will give your brain glucose for increased concentration. People mistakenly believe skipping breakfast will help them to lose weight. Unfortunately the opposite is true. Eating breakfast curbs the appetite and keeps blood sugar levels even. Research indicates skipping breakfast leads to more snacking and overeating later in the day.
Stay hydrated. Did you know that being dehydrated mimics hunger and research indicates that as many as 75% of the population is chronically dehydrated? A 2010 study found people who consumed 16 ounces of water three times a day before meals lost an average of five more pounds than those that did not. Every cell, tissue, and organ in the human body is partly composed of water. A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight a day in ounces. Every situation is unique though, for example, exercising outside on a hot day increases your water requirement. Look at your urine. If it is the color of lemonade you are well hydrated. If it is the color of apple juice, you are dehydrated.
Remember slow and steady wins the race and this holds true especially with weight loss. Nothing is more frustrating than to lose 10 pounds in January just to gain back 15 pounds in February. By making slow positive changes, weight loss need not be a roller coaster. In addition, these changes encourage healthy eating, which increases energy and well being. They are also easy to incorporate into a healthy lifestyle.

Is Fiber the Secret to Losing Weight and Keeping It Off?

April 9, 2013 

Possibly, according to Robert Lustig, author of Fat Chance. Paleo- biologists have analyzed the three to ten thousand year old stool samples of our ancestors and determined they consumed approximately 100 grams of fiber a day. The Daily Reference Intake (DRI) for fiber today is 25 grams but the average American consumes roughly 12 grams a day! No wonder we’re always constipated. But, according to Lustig, fiber is much more important than just being “roughage”, it may also be the link between metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and obesity.
Dietary Fiber is the part of vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole grains that our gastrointestinal tract or gut can’t digest. In other words it passes through our bodies without being broken down. There are two types of fiber; soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber, which absorbs water, includes: oatmeal, apples, oranges, pears, nuts, psyllium, asparagus, and carrots. Insoluble fiber doesn’t absorb water and includes: whole grains, bran, seeds, bulgur, brown rice, celery, fruit, and vegetable skins. In order for fiber to do its job, you need to consume both soluble and insoluble fiber. Why? Because soluble fiber slows digestion and absorption, and is fermented by the bacteria in our gut whereas insoluble fiber isn’t digested at all and is what speeds up the passage of food and wastes through your gut.
How then does fiber help with weight loss? Think of the two forms of fiber working together. The insoluble fiber creates a “latticework” of sorts in which the soluble fiber sits on as they travel through your gut. Together they form a gelatinous barrier between the food and the intestinal wall. This barrier slows the absorption of glucose by the gut. In other words, glucose is released slower into the blood stream and consequently the release of insulin is slowed. Besides being the hormone that lowers blood sugar levels, insulin is also a fat storage hormone. Metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and obesity are epidemic today and no wonder, we consume very little fiber and sugar is in everything. Note, that whenever sugar absorption is slowed down, less insulin will be released and less fat will be stored. Make an effort to increase your fiber daily with plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains.