Thursday, November 13, 2014

2 more HUGE reasons to give up sodas

Via @rodalenews
Need another reason to put down that bottle of soda? We'll give you two. A pair of studies published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests America's beloved fizzy drinks could be doing a real number on women's health.

In the first study, led by Harvard School of Public Health, researchers analyzed 73,000 postmenopausal women and found that regardless of the type of soda they drank (cola, non-cola, caffeinated or caffeine free, regular or diet), a woman's risk of hip fracture increased 14 percent for each additional soda she drank per day.

Statistics pulled from that same study found that the more sodas a woman drinks per week, the more her BMI climbs. (Higher BMI levels are considered a risk factor for breast cancer, among other conditions.)

While hip fractures are painful enough, researchers leading another study suggesting soda could be a pain trigger in women. Another recent soda study investigating soda's impact on women's health found a correlation between women consuming regular, sugary soda and the chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

For each sugar-laden soda consumed, women experienced a 63 percent increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis compared to women who nixed soda. The analysis came from 20 years of data following nearly 200,000 women.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ask Will: Should We Eat 5 Times Per Day?

Dear Will,

Can you advise if eating five times throughout the day is better than eating three meals and no snacks?  

… I’m wondering if I should eat three balanced meals instead.


Dear Catherine, 
Thank you so much for this question ... and your intuition is spot on! 

“Eat every three hours.” Isn’t that amazing advice? At some point, there were people in a room somewhere who said, “Hey, you know what? We have a colossal weight problem in this country with people who vastly overeat all the all the all the time. I have an idea, let’s tell them to eat MORE often!” 

The advice to trade in our traditional 3 meal per day pattern for an eat every 3 hours pattern throws away the habits we practiced when we were much thinner (1958, obesity rate = 11%). Between then and now, we lost our way, distracted by the new theories that pop out of the clown car each January. 

The new ideas can only distract us if they convince us that there’s actually something real there (the mini meals idea is a perfect case-in-point). However, although there’s a kernel of truth in the center of this little dietary sugar pill, that’s about all because the evidence to support it is just not there. 

Who is surprised by this, really? 

Here is the rationale behind the multiple mini meal mistake: 
1. The act of eating revs your body’s metabolism due to something called “the thermic effect of food”, so you’re burning more calories and therefore losing more weight. 
2. If you don’t eat between meals, your body will go into a “starvation mode”, hold onto all the fat it does have on board, and subvert your attempts to one day find yourself in smaller pants. 

Yes, our aging metabolism may be turning into a slug over time, sliding into a complacent stupor day by sedentary day, but not snacking between meals is not what is driving it into the ground. Your metabolism may have 99 problems, but that ain’t one. 

Here’s the kernel of truth 
The thermic effect of food is a real thing, and has been measured. But when you eat, the number of calories burned by consuming that food amounts to about 5 – 15 percent of the total calories of the meal. The idea is that if you eat more frequently, you will keep up that calorie burn! 

This sounds really great until you think about it in common sense terms. It’s like you saying, “There’s a 10% sale on at Macy’s! I’m going to buy more bed sheets and back to school supplies more often so I can save more money!” Said in this way, the idea that you’re going to save calories by eating more often is totally nonsensical. “Spending to save” is still spending, just like adding calories to burn calories is still adding on the calories. 

Even worse for this latest new idea, smaller mini meals have a smaller effect on boosting metabolism as compared to a larger normal meal. And eating multiple mini meals also did not improve your body’s ability to rev up your metabolism over time. 

What about the dreaded starvation mode? 
This is behind door number two – the idea that if you don’t eat every three hours you will slip into this mode where your body thinks you are starving and holds on to all the fat you’re trying to lose. But to achieve such a sad metabolic state of affairs, you would have to consume about 500 calories per day (that’s all) for about 10 days straight in order to make this happen. 

The idea that you can’t make it all the way from breakfast to lunch without your metabolism going full DEFCON1 on you a) makes no sense, and b) has exactly zero research supporting it. 

Not only does the multiple mini meal pattern not prevent the mythical starvation mode beast, but compared head-to-head with the normal 3 squares per day meal pattern, the multiple mini meal pattern does not increase basal metabolism. 


By the way, eating those additional mini meals through the day turns out to be worse than fewer larger meals for lipid profiles in obese individuals and for blood sugar in Type 2 diabetics. 


The bottom line for your bottom lines
What about the effect of this eating pattern on weight loss? There are definitely cases in which an individual lost weight doing this or some other diet du jour, but controlled studies indicate that it doesn’t help most people control weight most of the time. 

Again, yes, it’s possible for one person to lose weight on the Krispy Kreme diet, the eat every 3 hours diet, or any other. However, if you had a ton of people do this diet, and you looked to see whether its weight loss effect was statistically significant (not a fluke), the answer would be … nope. 

So Catherine, your sense of things is exactly correct. People certainly can give this mini meal miracle a shot, and hope that they're the exception to the rule and it actually works for them. 

Alternatively, we can find an eating pattern that we know is associated with weight control. When we were thinner than we are today, no one ate every three hours with mini meals. At that time (in the main, in general, as a rule … you get my point), we ate 3 meals a day, portions weren't gargantuan, and it was real food. 

It's my recommendation that we do that! Hope this helps.

Talk to you soon,

Americans diets are improving a bit (sort of)

The good news is that our diets have improved steadily over the past decade. The bad news, however, is that there is a disparity in overall dietary quality between different socioeconomic, racial and ethnic groups, which continues to grow.

The study, conducted by a research team from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found a modest improvement in diet quality alongside a significant reduction in trans fat consumption between 1999 and 2010.

Diet and nutrition are key health matters. A poor diet is recognized as a cause of many chronic diseases, including heart disease and certain cancers - the two leading causes of death in the US. Maintaining a healthful diet is an important part of optimizing long-term health.
Since the late 1990s, frequent changes have occurred to the economy, policies regarding food and nutrition, public health guidelines and food processing, all of which may have impacted upon the diets of the American public.
Prompted by these changes, the researchers utilized data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in order to assess what impact there was on the quality of the American public's diets.
The researchers utilized data from a nationally representative sample of 29,124 adults from 1999-2010. The participants were aged 20-85 years and were evaluated for the duration of the study with two different dietary quality indexes: the Alternate Healthy Eating Index 2010 and the Healthy Eating Index 2010.
The Alternate Healthy Eating Index 2010 (AHEI-2010) rates overall dietary quality on a score of 0 to 110. A total of 11 components - consumption of whole grains or trans fat, for instance - are assigned scores out of 10, and the sum of these scores equals the overall dietary quality. The higher the score, the more healthful the diet.
In 1999-2000, the average AHEI-2010 of the participants was 39.9. This score increased to 46.8 in 2009-2010, indicating an overall improvement in dietary quality.
Over half of this gain was attributable to reduced consumption of trans fats - fat that raises levels of bad cholesterol and reduces levels of good cholesterol in the body. Trans fats are commonly found in baked goods, chips and fried foods.
Dietary quality was also improved by raised consumption of whole fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts and polyunsaturated fats and lowered consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. In contrast, the consumption of vegetables, red and processed meat and alcohol remained consistent during the study period.
More worryingly, salt intake was found to have increased "despite efforts to reduce this by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as well as initiatives by the American Heart Association and other public health organizations," say the authors.
The study also found a gap in diet quality between people with higher socioeconomic status (SES) and people with lower SES. This gap increased across the duration of the study.
Among ethnic and racial groups, non-Hispanic black people had the lowest quality of diet. The authors attributed this to lower rates of income and education within the group. Mexican Americans had the best dietary quality, which the authors say could be due to dietary traditions and culture.
Prof. Walter Willett, senior author of the study, believes that despite overall improvement in dietary quality, "the widening gap related to income and education presents a serious challenge to our society as a whole."
Source = Medical News Today.

For more information: Click here to visit Will Clower's website.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Okay, THIS is weird. Giving birth is more likely on some holidays than others.

What's going on here? 
  1. Look at the records of 1,676,217 births in the United States that occurred around Valentines Day (1 wk before through 1 wk after). 
  2. Compare these birth records to 1,809,304 births in the United States that occurred around Halloween Day (1 wk before through 1 wk after). 
Do this for 11 years. Then look at the data and something totally weird appears (Study is here).

What Happens On Valentines Day
There was a sudden increase of 3.6% in the number of spontaneous births, and a 12.1% increase in planned births (cesarean births). 

For some reason, on that holiday itself, regardless of whether moms were overdue, not yet due, or hitting their due date on the nose, 3.6% more were born.

What Happens On Halloween Day
Exactly the opposite happened. A sudden drop in spontaneous births, to the tune of 5.3%! 

Something about this day made it less likely that moms would birth a baby, regardless of where they were in their final trimester. The decrease in planned births was much larger too (16.9%). 

I totally understand the planned birth aspect. Unless you have toxemia or other emergency situation, having a c-section is likely going through the new baby drive-thru (my son was a c-section baby). So if you get to choose the birth date of your child, Halloween is associated with negative Jason Elm Street nightmare connotations and Valentines Day is associated with hearts and flowers and Be Mine candies and plump little cherubic archers. 

You vote NAY on the scary day and YEA on the day of love. 

But the spontaneous birth thing? Why on Earth would it be that something as arbitrary like the positive vs negative connotation we assigned to two holidays make a difference? 

The numbers here are so large that you have to assume that the effect is real (p < 0.0001 for you research statistics nerds). My guess is that even subtle emotions can be powerful, powerful enough to hasten or hinder something as seemingly inevitable as the onset of a baby. Our subjective feelings have objective consequences making them just as valid, just as real, just as compellingly consequential as a new born baby. 

Totally surprising. And yet also, not really that surprising at all. 

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