Friday, April 30, 2010

Canadians Live Longer than Americans: Study

Source: Health Day (Summary by NIM)

Despite the harsher, colder weather conditions up here, Canadians now have one more reason to be proud to live in the 'true north'. A new study has found that we live longer and healthier lives than our Southern Counterparts.

According to data from the Joint Canada/United States Survey of Health 2002-03, Canadians enjoy almost 3 more years of "perfect health" than Americans. Researchers believe that the difference is due to Canada's universal health care system and lower levels of poverty and social economic inequality.

But the Study's Author, David Feeny, added "distinguishing among the potential explanations for the differences in health between the two countries would require longitudinal data. Perhaps it is time for Canada and the U.S. to contemplate a joint longitudinal survey,"

Find out more about the details of this study by reading the article called "Canadians Leading Longer, Healthier Lives Than Americans" from Health Day (Apr. 29, 2010).

Thursday, April 29, 2010

NIM Video Contest

Send us a video testimonial (that's right we want to see your beautiful faces) of your experience on NIM and you'll be entered to win 10 FREE DAYS of NIM!

Here are some ideas:

Describe your favourite NIM meal

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Tell us why NIM rules!

Contest Rules:

2 winners will be selected randomly on May 17

You can only eneter in once

Email your video to

High-Dose B Vitamins Risky for Some Diabetics

Source: Health Day (Summary by NIM)

B vitamins are important for the metabolism of many nutrients, including fats, proteins and carbohydrates as well as for the proper formation of DNA and healthy cells. So when researchers gave high doses of B vitamins to a particular group of diabetic patients, they thought that this would be beneficial to them. Turns out they found just the opposite of what they expected.

In the study, diabetic patients with poor kidney functioning were given high doses of B vitamins, which ended up making their health worse. The researchers believe that this is due in part to the fact that B vitamins are water soluble, and high doses may accumulate in the kidneys, worsening their ability to function. The patients taking the B vitamins also had twice as many incidents of heart disease and stroke versus those taking placebo.

Before you stop taking your B vitamins, be aware that these dangers have only been found to exist in individuals with poor kidney functioning. If you are healthy, there should be no such problem. Also, be sure to speak with a nutritionist, dietitian or doctor before start or stop taking any nutritional supplements.

Find out more about this study by reading the article called "High-Dose Vitamin B Risky for Diabetics With Kidney Disease"

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

FDA: Beware of 'Fat-Melting' Injections

Source: FDA (Summary by NIM)

We have been warned so many times against taking magic 'diet pills'. As tempting as they sound, not only are they dangerous, but most of them have never been shown to work and their claims are usually not supported or evaluated by the FDA. So why is it that we think that diet 'injections' would be any different? According to the FDA, they're not.

The product in question this time, called lipodissolve, is administered in a series of injections that are said to melt away pockets of fat in a process called injection lipolysis, lipozap, lipotherapy, or mesotherapy. According to the FDA - the claims made by the makers of lipodissolve are not only misleading but they are false.

On their website, the FDA have released warning information regarding lipodissolve, stating that individuals who undergo this procedure are at risk of permanent scarring, skin deformation and painful knots under the skin.

So next time you're looking for a quick fix - just stop. There isn't one. But if you still want to take some kind of diet or nutritional supplement, always be sure to thoroughly research any and all claims made by the company and look up all of the ingredients before you put anything in your mouth.

Find out more about the FDA's warning on lipodissolve by reading the article called "FDA Warns About Lipodissolve Product Claims" from the FDA's website (Apr. 7, 2010).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Skip the Stretch for a Better Workout

Source: MSNBC (Summary by NIM)

We've all heard about the importance of stretching before and after workouts in order to prevent injury, but some researchers believe that this act may in fact be counter-productive and might promote injury.

Sometimes, the actions that we think are stretching our muscles are actually tightening them - for example bending over to touch our toes. Think about it - if you've ever watched or partaken in a yoga class, you would notice that similar motions are used to actually tone and tighten the muscles!

Cold, stiff muscles are far more prone to being pulled or torn than those which have been warmed up. Experts compare this to stretching a cold rubber band to it's maximum. While it is true that stretching helps to lengthen and relax muscles and also protect joints, this only really works if muscles are already warmed up. Otherwise, stretching acts just like any other form or strenuous activity and can damage our tissues.

So what can you do? Try walking or lightly jogging to warm your muscles up so you can move more freely and prevent injuring yourself when you actually engage in exercising.

Find out more by reading the article called "Want a better workout? Don't stretch before" from MSNBC (Apr. 15, 2010).

Chocolate May Help With Depression

Source: Health Day (Summary by NIM)

Yes, there definitely is a time and a place for 'junk' food. Food not only fuels our bodies, it has the ability to soothe our souls and allow us to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Many of us reach for the sweet stuff when we're feeling down since foods that are high in fat and sugar have a sort of 'therapeutic' effect when times are tough.

Thanks to a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers have found that people battling depression, both men and women, eat more chocolate per month than non-depressed people. The researchers believe this is due to chocolate's ability to put us in a better mood. Individuals with depression or non-depressed individuals going through particularly difficult periods in their lives may reach for chocolate as form of "self medication"

According to
Dr. Lorrin Koran, professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral science, at Stanford University School of Medicine, Chocolate has many properties that make it a superior pick me up as compared with other foods. Chocolate "is available, cheap, does not lose its pleasure-inducing quality with repeated use, does not require relating to other people and is culturally approved as a source of legitimate pleasure" he said. I think most would agree!

Find out more about this study by reading the article called "
Chocolate a Sweet Pick-Me-Up for the Depressed" from Health Day (Apr. 26, 2010).

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ricky Gervais Gets Healthy After Sausage Binge

Source: Telegraph UK (Summary by NIM)

What does it take for people to get healthy? Those of us who have made a change for better health either through diet, exercise or both have likely had some sort of 'Aha!' moment - or a turning point that stopped them dead in their tracks and said "I can't do this anymore". For Comedian Ricky Gervais, that's what happened after he gorged on 11 sausages right before Christmas.

In his own words, Gervais said "The two days before I went healthy I had 11 sausages. I couldn't stop eating them, I felt really ill, really bad and I had to lay there for a couple of hours, like a snake just trying to digest it." He was binge eating and just couldn't stop! Now I've heard of people eating a box of donuts or cookies but that is an
awful lot of meat and saturated fat! His poor heart!

Ricky, 48, has struggled with his weight since about the age of 29, but he has always had strong opinions about it. In an interview a few years ago he said "I laugh about being fat but I should be ashamed. I should walk down the street and have people shouting 'Fatty'." As harsh as that sounds, he felt that those words were what he needed in order to make a change. "That's what I want, to get me out of it." he said. Little did he know that eventually it would be sausages that were his catalyst.

In a perfect world for Gervais,"In supermarkets, the really fattening stuff should be behind a really thin door. Shops should be full of salads but if you want to get to the pies and cakes, you've got to crawl through a little tube." Sure, he's a comedian, but he may be on to something!

Find out more about Ricky's struggles with his weight here and here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Walking May Help Prevent Strokes

Source: Reuters Health (Summary by NIM)

Walking may well be one of the best exercises out there. It's not strenuous, it's low-impact and if you walk for long enough, it can blast a ton of fat. Not only is walking an easy way to lose weight and stay in shape, but it also gives your heart a great workout. It's this part that has researchers excited about the benefits of walking when it comes to stroke prevention.

According to a new study, women who walked for a total of two hours or more each week had a significantly lower risk of stroke than those who walked less than two hours a week. That adds up to an easily doable 20 minutes per day!

On the whole, the women who were the most active were 17% less likely to suffer from a stroke than less active women or those who walked at a slower pace. According to Dr. Frank Hu of the Harvard School of Public Health "The bottom line is that this study provides another piece of evidence for why people should move and get off the couch."

Find out more about this study by reading the article called "
Can walking help guard against stroke?" from Reuters Health (Apr. 21, 2010).

Added Sugars Make Us Fatter, Lower Heart Health

Source: Health Day (Summary by NIM)

You may think you don't sweeten much - you like your coffee black and you stay away from desserts as much as possible. What most people don't realize, however, is that they get up to 16% of their daily intake of sugars from processed, packaged foods. That includes your cereals and granola bars, among other things!

According to a new study, these added sugars are threatening our heart health, lowering blood levels of HDL ("good cholesterol") and raising LDL levels (the "bad" kind) and blood triglycerides (fats). The study found a very strong link between amounts of sugar consumed and heart health - the more sugars consumed, the worse off people are.

Now this link is hardly surprising given the fact that too much of anything is bad, and we know sugars aren't great for us. What may be surprising, however, is that many people are blind to the fact that they're even consuming these sugars since they are effectively 'hidden' to us as they're tucked away in processed foods. The authors of the study found that the average American consumes about 3.2 ounces of added sugars each day. That's about 21.4 teaspoons, or 359 calories!

Find out more about what this may mean for you by reading the article called "
Added Sugars in Diet Threaten Heart Health" from Health Day (Apr. 20, 2010).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

People with 'Fat Gene' Variant More Susceptible to Alzheimer's

Source: Reuters Health (Summary by NIM)

More than one third of the US population is burdened with a 'bad' variant of the FTO gene, or the fat mass and obesity gene. These individuals are more likely to put on weight and be heavier than people with the 'good' version of this gene. Weight issues aside, new research has found that these same individuals are prone to brain defects and are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Now, this is not meant to serve as an excuse for overweight or obese individuals - this particular gene variant makes people more likely to be heavier set, however this predisposition, in addition to the increased risk of mental health issues, is not meant to be taken as a sentence. The researchers behind this study have stressed that following a healthy diet combined with regular exercise has been shown to prevent both of these outcomes from occurring.
On the contrary, if individuals do not heed this warning and continue to lead unhealthy lifestyles, then unfortunately, they are increasing their risk of not only the above noted conditions, but others as well.

According to one of the researchers, Paul Thompson, a professor of neurology at the University of California Los Angeles, "In all the maelstrom of activities you do, exercise and a low-fat diet are genuinely saving your brain from both stroke and Alzheimer's,".

Find out more about this study by reading the article called "Gene makes people fat, raises Alzheimer's risk" from Reuters Health (Apr. 19, 2010).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dark Chocolate May Help Liver Patients

Source: Reuters Health (Summary by NIM)

Cocoa beans are amazing little things. In their purest form, they are actually quite good for us! Most of us reap the benefits of cocoa's goodness in the form of chocolate perhaps more often than we should, but if we choose the dark kind, we are doing our health a big favour. It is even helpful for individuals with liver problems.

We already know that dark chocolate is great for our hearts, and Spanish researchers have just found that individuals with liver cirrhosis who consume dark chocolate can actually reduce their abdominal and liver blood pressure, which is helpful in managing their disease. Cirrhosis results in weak blood vessels in the liver, so high or even regular blood pressure circulating through the area can cause those vessels to rupture.

The researchers believe that antioxidants called flavinols in cocoa are responsible for this effect, in that they widen and relax the blood vessels. In the study, participants consumed 85% dark chocolate or white chocolate (contains no cocoa at all), and it was found that those who consumed the dark chocolate with meals demonstrated a significant reduction in liver blood pressure.

One key point to remember, folks, is that you don't need very much dark chocolate each day for better health. Just like with nuts, seeds, oils and other healthy fats, you only need a small amount to see health benefits, as otherwise you're just consuming a whack of calories!

Read the article called "Chocolate may be good medicine for liver patients" from Reuters Health (Apr. 15, 2010).

Friday, April 16, 2010

Celeb Chefs Use Fame To Promote Healthy Eating

Source: (Summary by NIM)

I'm not sure about you, but when I watch the Food Network or visit restaurants, I know that chefs like to use real ingredients (think: butter), and that flavour, not the caloric content of the food, is key. While this may indeed be the case, there does not have to be a disconnect between healthy eating and chef-inspired foods! If you notice that chefs love using fresh, colourful, high-quality ingredients free of additives and preservatives, treating food and cooking as an art, you will quickly find that this sounds an awful lot like what we should strive for in achieving a healthy, balanced lifestyle!

On that note, three of the Food Network's best known chefs, Jaimie Oliver, Rachael Ray and, yes, even Paula Deen (the woman who dressed up as a stick of butter for Halloween) are on board to educate the public about the importance of healthy eating. Celebrity chefs are like rock stars in the kitchen - having the ability to influence what we buy, cook and eat both in and outside of our own homes.

Rachel, Jaimie and Paula want to make 'real' food more accessible and easy to prepare, so that moms, dads and kids alike can learn and benefit for the rest of their lives. All three, however, agree that a healthy, balanced lifestyle also includes foods that are not so 'figure friendly' some of the time, but there is a time and place for everything!

Find out more by reading the article called "Celeb chefs spread healthy eats ethic" from (Apr. 5, 2010)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Gluttony at it's Most Extreme: KFC's Double Down "Sandwich"

Source: The Globe and Mail (Summary by NIM)

Wait a minute, what do you mean it has no bread? I thought it was called a sandwich?...No folks, this is no conventional sandwich. This particular fast-food offering is the latest addition to the revolt against healthy eating and the latest assault on the arteries of the unfortunate (or lucky, depending on what side you're on!) individuals who consume them.

The KFC Double Down sandwich is made up of bacon, cheese and sauce, all melted and squished between two slabs of breaded, fried chicken. Oh and don't forget the sodium. Lots and lots of sodium. This puppy clocks in at a whopping 540 calories, 32 grams of fat and 1380 mg sodium (more than you need in an entire day). According to some food bloggers, the previous sandwich to beat in terms of gluttony was Wendy's Baconator, loaded with multiple beef patties, cheese, and (you guessed it) - bacon. Not to mention a marked lack of bright veggie colours all swimming in a sea of beige and fat. The same bloggers agree that in order to 'one up' KFC's Double Down, one would probably have to serve up a fried ball of cheese, bacon and beef. Wait - don't those already exist?

According to some food experts, it almost seems as though the food industry is creating these products as experiments merely for entertainment purposes, as they clearly aren't good for anything else. Don't get too excited about all this, though - the Double Down is not currently available in Canada (Oh thank God!!).

Check out the article called "Forget healthy – KFC’s Double Down revels in glorious gluttony" from The Globe and Mail (Apr. 13, 2010) and scroll down to feast your eyes on one of the most ridiculous commercials you may ever see.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Swapping 'Bad Fats' for 'Bad Carbs' Won't Help Your Health

Source: Reuters Health (Summary by NIM)

Saturated and trans fats are marketed almost as a death sentence these days. These fats, which are solid at room temperature, add rigidity, not fluidity to our cell membranes, and tend to cause the buildup of plaques in our blood vessels, leading to heart disease or worse. Limiting our exposure to these fats is best, however we must be careful what we substitute them with. If we cut our 'bad fat' intake but take in more refined and processed carbohydrates as a result, we're not doing ourselves any favours, researchers have found.

According to Danish researchers, higher intakes of refined and processed carbohydrates such as white bread and white pasta cause spikes in our blood sugar. Carbohydrates that are quickly converted to glucose in our blood, resulting in blood sugar spikes, have been found to increase blood lipid levels, but decrease good cholesterol, overall increasing the risk of heart disease. This effect is more predominant in women.

Subbing saturated and trans fats for healthy, unsaturated fats, or even unrefined carbs such as whole grains, vegetables and low-glycemic index carbs was shown to improve heart health. Low-GI foods tend to be higher in fibre and are more slowly digested, preventing that 'spike' in blood sugar levels.

According to
Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women and heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, a good way to know if something is high in simple sugars or High-GI is to look at the nutrition label under carbohydrates. Underneath carbohydrates it says 'sugars' - if the number is high per serving size, you should probably skip adding it into your shopping cart!

Check out the whole article called "
Subbing 'bad' carbs for 'bad' fats ups heart risk" from Reuters Health (Apr. 13, 2010).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

You Snooze You Lose...Weight, That Is

Source: Medline Plus (Summary by NIM)

Ever notice that when you're super tired you tend to feel hungrier? Maybe it's not true hunger, but eating food somehow seems to hit the spot those days. Turns out you're not alone - researchers have found that sleep deprivation causes people to eat more - a lot more - in some cases as much as a big Mac's worth of calories.

In the study, 12 healthy young men slept for 4 hours 2 nights and 8 hours the next 2 nights with a control period in between. They were allowed to eat as much as they liked each day. When the men slept for a shorter amount of time, they ate 22% more calories, on average, than when they slept longer. This translates to about 560 more calories per day following a shorter night's sleep.

It seems we all tend to be overworked these days, sleeping less than ever before, but also eating far more. According to the paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, "sleep restriction could be one of the environmental factors that contribute to the obesity epidemic,".

Find out more about this study by reading the article called "People get hungrier when they're starved for sleep" from Medline Plus (Apr. 9, 2010).

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cutting Calories May Lead to Weight Gain

Source: Medline Plus (Summary by NIM)

For those who want to lose weight, cutting calories or 'dieting' brings to mind many unpleasant thoughts such as deprivation, monotony, difficulty, discomfort and so on. This does not have to be the case, but according to researchers, this type of thinking increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, actually making it harder to lose weight.

The researchers in this new study have found that restricting caloric intake tends to be stressful, and as levels of cortisol increase, more fat is stored, especially on the tummy. Since we know that weight loss is the result of a negative energy balance (more calories burned/used than calories consumed), one might wonder how it's possible to lose weight if cutting calories isn't the best answer!

Cutting calories is certainly part of the equation, however the missing piece of the puzzle is physical activity. With physical activity, we burn calories but we also get to eat a bit more food, making us feel far less deprived but also more accomplished. Take someone who needs to consume 2,000 calories per day, for example. They could eat 2,500 and burn 500 through exercise, which not only increases their metabolism but also adds lean muscle mass and definition to their bodies, OR they could just eat 2,000 calories and possibly be more stressed. Option A sounds a lot better than option B!

Everyone wishes there was some magic method of weight loss that isn't at all challenging, but sorry - it's going to take discipline, committment and a bit of hard work no matter how you cut it!

Find out more about this study by reading the article called "Low-Cal Diets May Make You Gain
Weight" from Medline Plus (Apr. 8, 2010).

Friday, April 9, 2010

U.S. Sugar Group: 'Don't Blame Us for Obesity'

Source: Reuters Health (Summary by NIM)

US sugar producers and manufacturers feel that sugar is being used as a scapegoat when it comes to placing the blame for obesity. The Sugar Association Inc. claims that sugar itself is not part of the problem, and that over all, sugar consumption per capita has actually declined in recent years.

According to the president and CEO of the Sugar Association Inc., blaming sweetened products such as soft-drinks and some types of junk food for obesity is misleading because those products actually contain high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and not sugar itself. Not to shift the blame over to HFCS, he was cautious to reiterate that on the whole, the consumption of sweeteners has declined as well. He noted that children are less active than ever and this is likely a bigger contributor to the problem than junk food consumption. In reality, diet is responsible for 80% or more of weight gain or loss when it comes to calories, whereas physical activity plays an important but slightly different role in health.

According to one official for the group, "The data simply doesn't back up that caloric sweeteners are the cause for the obesity epidemic in this country,".

Find out more about this sticky issue by reading the article called "U.S. sugar group says sugar not to blame for obesity" from Reuters Health (Apr. 8, 2010)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sleep Eating: Raiding the Fridge While Sleeping

Source: New York Times (Summary by NIM)

Imagine waking up to a pile of crumbs, food wrappers, a full stomach and bad breath but not remembering how any of it happened? Yes, this may be the case for some people following a night of hard partying, but to others, it's a depressing reality that happens at random for no apparent reason.

According to doctors, sleep eaters make a bee-line for the fridge while sleep-walking, and eat anything high-calorie, sugar- or fat-laden and generally unhealthy. They can sometimes do this up to five times in one night! One woman confessed to waking up to a pile of wrappers from her kids' chocolate Easter bunnies, and having gained 7 pounds over a span of two months. Sleep eaters also run the risk of being seriously injured, as they oftentimes bump into things, get bruised, cut themselves on kitchen knives, or even eat non-food items like nail polish.

While sleep itself is still poorly understood, it's difficult to say why this happens to roughly 1% of the population. If this is something that might be happening to you, speak to your doctor. Some people are too embarrassed to discuss this with anyone, but it's worth a talk!

Find out more about this bizarre condition by reading the article called "Raiding the Refrigerator, but Still Asleep" from the New York Times (Apr. 7, 2010).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fruits and Vegetables Alone May Not Cut Cancer Risk

Source: Science Daily (Summary by NIM)

There are many health benefits to consuming lots of fruits and veggies, but according to researchers, cancer protection surprisingly may not be one of them. In a study of data from 400,000 men and women, it was found that consumption of fruits and veggies alone only mildly reduced the incidence of developing cancer.

I don't know about you, but even a mild reduction in risk for something as severe and life-threatening as cancer is reason enough for me to take note! The researchers found that a higher consumption of fruits and veggies was associated with other factors of a healthy lifestyle such as being physically active, never smoking (or rarely), not drinking too much, and so on. It seems that people who eat healthfully tend to be more mindful of what they do with and put inside their bodies in order to maintain optimal health.

This study was based on existing data and it's not clear exactly what the researchers' definition of 'high intake' was. With everything we know about the health benefits of fruits and veggies, we really do need to make sure we get those 7-10 servings each day, and even more if possible! We simply cannot afford to miss out on all the amazing nutrition that fruits and veggies provide us with!

Find out more about this study by reading the article called "Cancer Protective Effect of Fruits and Vegetables May Be Modest at Best" from Science Daily (Apr. 7, 2010).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

'Healthy' Foods May Blow Your Diet!

Source: Medline Plus (Sumary by NIM)

We've all been there. You know, you resist buying the 'bad' snacks, and get the 'healthy' ones instead, but one thing leads to another and the whole package is gone. You justify your gluttony by reminding yourself that it was the low- cal/sodium/sugar/fat variety of (insert snack name here). At the end of the week, you still can't seem to figure out why you aren't losing any weight! Thanks to a new study, you just might stop yourself from recreating this scenario next time you shop.

Researchers have discovered that when food is marketed as 'healthy', it actually heightens our feelings of hunger and gives us an excuse to eat more than we normally would. In the study, the researchers marketed a chocolate-covered raspberry protein bar by two different names and examined what happens when people eat them, or when they just look at them.

When the bar was labelled as
"a new health bar," containing lots of protein, vitamins and fibre, participants said they were less full and rated their hunger as much higher than the participants who ate it when it was called a "chocolate bar that is very tasty and yummy with a chocolate-raspberry core." In a third scenario, participants were asked to rate their hunger after examining both bars but not eating them. Their hunger levels were on par with the participants who had eaten the 'tasty' bar. This means that those who ate the 'health' bar were even more hungry than people who hadn't even eaten it at all!!

According to one of the researchers,
"One of the challenges in losing weight is that people tend to compensate themselves for partial success by overeating and will end up gaining that weight and more,". In other words, we do well for ourselves by eating a salad, so we overcompensate by loading up on dessert afterwards. If we ate something we believed was 'regular' or somewhat more substantial, we would probably pass up on that dessert.

Find out more about this eye-opening study by reading the article called "
Calling a Food 'Healthy' May Make You Hungrier" from Medline Plus (Apr. 2, 2010).

Monday, April 5, 2010

Lose Weight to Slash Your Stroke Risk

Source: Reuters Health (Summary by NIM)

Being overweight is bad for your health. That shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone and yet some people just aren't getting the message. Overweight individuals are at a higher risk of many life-threatening diseases and conditions, and a new study has confirmed that being overweight also increases the risk of stroke.

This new study from the Frederico II University of Naples Medical School in Naples, Italy has found that the heavier a person is, the greater their chance of suffering a stroke becomes. Strokes happen when the blood supply to the brain is blocked by plaques formed along artery walls due to greater than normal amounts of fat and cholesterol floating around in the blood supply. Since the arteries become so narrow, the blood pressure in those vessels skyrockets. Thanks to that fast-moving blood acting like a power-washer, little pieces of those arterial plaques break off, shooting debris into the brain and blocking it's blood supply. Not a pretty picture nor a pleasant experience.

The study included more than 2.3 million individuals and found that overweight people were 22 percent more likely to suffer a stroke than normal weight people while obese people were a whopping 64 percent more likely to suffer a stroke! According to one of the researchers, Dr. Pasquale Strazzullo, "All of us should keep tight control of our weight and take immediate action in case of weight gain, reducing calories and increasing physical exercise,"

Find out more about this study by reading the article called "Being overweight ups stroke risk, study confirms" from Reuters Health (Apr. 5, 2010).

Friday, April 2, 2010

Avoid Easter Diet Derailers!

Well, folks, that time of year has come upon us yet again. Yes, it's once again a time where we gather with our family and friends and indulge in some stick-to-your-ribs delicious food and treats! Not to mention it's a long weekend for many of us, giving us an extra day to relax (possibly NOT exercise) and squeeze in an extra few (hundred) calories. There's no question that we should most definitely enjoy ourselves and have a taste of everything on the table, but there are ways to make better choices, and here are just a few:

1. Use a smaller plate - an old but very good trick! If you're at a family event and don't want to get funny looks from your relatives or offend anyone, just take enough food to fill half of a normal plate but spread it out all over the plate so it looks full. Your relatives (and your brain) will be fooled and will never know you're eating half the calories they are!

2. Try a little bit of everything, or just take more of what you really like. This way you'll feel like you're indulging and will feel far more satisfied as opposed to feeling restricted or deprived of your favourite foods.

3. Offer to prepare a healthy side-dish of your own. This way, you can load up on it, with a little bit of everything else and you won't feel guilty. Now everyone is happy!

4. Enjoy, but ease up on dessert. If you weren't having dessert prior to this weekend, don't completely fall off the wagon! The sugar and fat in the dessert will spike your blood sugar and insulin levels, making dessert feel like more of a drug than food! You won't be able to stop yourself and it's not your fault - blame your brain's reward system. A better alternative - load up on fruit and take a little bit of your most favourite dessert and call it a day! Don't just eat it because it's there. People might give you funny looks about your tiny sliver (versus their slice) of dessert because they feel guilty about their portion, but before you know it they'll be asking you for diet tips when they see how great you look and feel!

5. Have some chocolate! It's Easter, chocolate is abundant and guess what - it's good for you! But only the extra dark kind and just have one square. It doesn't sound like much and maybe you don't like the dark variety but it's all you need to actually improve your health. Any more or any other kind and it's just another junk food.

Family feasts and long weekends don't have to throw a wrench in your hard-earned and much deserved healthy lifestyle. Don't forget that when it comes to weight loss, an extra calorie not eaten is much easier to give up than a calorie burned through exercise!


Thursday, April 1, 2010

High Cholesterol? Flaxseeds Might Fix That

Source: ScienceDaily (Summary by NIM)

Flaxseeds are one of the world's healthiest foods. Not only are they loaded with fibre, antioxidants and plenty of vitamins and minerals, they're also packed with omega-3 essential fatty acids. In a nutshell, flaxseeds are a superfood you should be including in your diet on the daily; especially if you have high cholesterol.

Previous studies have indicated that consuming 20g of ground flaxseeds per day for 60 days could lower cholesterol just as well as statin drugs can! Now, not everyone wants to take drugs to lower their cholesterol levels, and some people simply can't take certain kinds, so this is definitely a great, natural way to achieve similar results!

According to a new US study, consuming 3 tbsp of flaxseed lignans (antioxidants) per day for 3 months can lower cholesterol levels by 10% in men, but not women. It's the lignans that are responsible for the cholesterol-lowering effects of flaxseeds, the researchers say, and they're not sure why there was no effect shown in women in this study. Nonetheless, for all their other health benefits, flaxseeds should definitely be a dietary staple for anyone who is healthy-conscious and looking to improve their health or prevent disease! Just note that whole flaxseeds are not easily digested, so it's best to grind them up fresh before you use them. Storing them already ground will cause some of those omega-3 fatty acids to oxidize, decreasing their overall health benefits!

Check out the whole article called "Flaxseed Lowers High Cholesterol in Men, Study Suggests" from Science Daily (Mar. 30, 2010)