Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kellogg's Makes Unhealthy Cereals Less Unhealthy

Source: Bakery and Snacks.com (Summary by NIM)

I always laugh when I see cereal makers attempt to spin unhealthy, food-coloured, sugar-coated cereals as offering some kind of health benefit. The one that gets me every time is the fact that Froot Loops now contain fibre! Yay! Everyone go buy them now. Well now you can go out and get yourself some Coco Pops (they have to be healthy with a name like that) because Kellogg's is slashing their sugar content by a whopping 15%. At least they're trying?

Starting in mid-2011 parents will be able to sleep at night because their kids will only be consuming 1.5 teaspoons of sugar per serving of Coco Pops. Instead of adding artificial sweeteners to maintain the flavour kids love, Kellogg's will use starches from grains and glucose syrup. Oh, and they're adding vitamin D, too, so now you have to go buy them!

Forgive me, maybe I'm too into healthy food, but what's wrong with a healthy breakfast? Healthy doesn't have to equal gross or tasteless or unappealing! The amazing thing about children is you're able to teach them to eat healthy from the get-go and set them up for a future of loving what's good for them, in addition to good health! Why would anyone compromise that with Coco Puffs?

Read more at Bakery and Snacks.com (Aug. 6, 2010) in the article called "Kellogg slashes sugar content of its Coco Pops cereal range".

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Popeye Gets Kids to Eat Their Veggies

Source: The Economic Times (Summary by NIM)

Not too long ago, we wrote about the power that cartoon characters have over kids, especially when it comes to consuming junk food. Thankfully, though, according to new research, there are some 'healthy food heroes' that actually get kids to eat - and like - their veggies. Even the green slimy ones.

Enter: Popeye. For decades, this guy has been gobbling down spinach - not too many people's favourite vegetable - and loving it. It makes total sense; spinach turns him into something of a superhero - not the conventional kind, but he fights off the bad guys and gets the girl in the end. And since it's one of nature's superfoods, it can turn your kids (and you!) into superheroes too. An interesting metaphor, but good health is funny like that. Confidence, strength and energy don't go unnoticed.

Popeye is so influential, in fact, that back in the 1930s, he was actually credited with saving the US spinach industry! And according to the study published in journal Nutrition & Dietetics, kids who watched episodes of Popeye before eating their spinach ended up eating twice as much of it as the kids who didn't see the show. Sometimes kids just need a little encouragement (and incentive?) when it comes to eating stuff that they think looks totally gross.

Read more at the Economic Times (Aug 9, 2010) in the article called "Thanks to Popeye, kids eat more vegetables".

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How Young is Too Young for Pole-Dancing Workouts?

Source: The Montreal Gazette (Summary by NIM)

There is no question that physical activity is essential for youth, and that, for the most part, kids are full of energy! Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic, and the push for Canadian kids to get moving has never been stronger. But some teens and tweens are turning to 'alternative' forms of exercise to burn calories and stay in shape, and this has some parents raising their eyebrows.

Pole-dancing fitness classes have been all the rage for the past few years - women just love them, and men love the fact that women are enrolled in them! (Here in Toronto, Flirty Girl Fitness is number one.) Women get a crazy workout plus they get to learn some sexy moves and work on their seduction skills at the same time. The problem is, what if girls - not women - want to give these classes a go? That's exactly what's happening in British Columbia at Tantra Fitness.

Instead of summer camp, softball or soccer, girls as young as just seven are learning to "get up on the pole and try to pull their legs over their head", according to one instructor. The club is getting a lot of flak for teaching kids moves like this, but the owners and instructors swear that kids that young have no sexual association with the pole - its all just fun and a wonderful workout. They say that even the seven-year-olds have "rockin' abs".

Feminist writer Jessica Wakeman understands clearly that the kids are not being taught to be future exotic dancers, but something still isn't right. "I clearly understand that we're not talking about a pole-dancing class for kids; it's an exercise class on a pole,...but there are cultural messages here that people need to be honest about." I completely agree.

Read more at the Montreal Gazette in the article called "Pole-dancing for tweens raises concerns"

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Trampolines For Your Feet? Kangaroos are The Latest Workout Craze

Source: The Globe and Mail (Summary by NIM)

They might look space-age, bouncy and fun, but don't get to thinking this workout's gonna be easy. With a rollerblade-type boot attached to two stiff-yet-flexible arches, 'Kangaroo Jumps' rebound exercise shoes deliver a crazy new cardio experience that feels like you're working out on the moon and make you look superhuman. How cool is that?

Think of this workout as a cross between skipping and trampolining, with much less impact on your joints. It might look like a lot of fun with little effort, but you can be sure to raise your heart rate blast a ton of calories in the meantime. You can quite literally do any type of move in these boots - like running, bunny hopping, jumping jacks and even boxing- and end up with a workout unlike anything you've ever experienced.

They're safe too - you don't even have to wear any extra protective gear and they're easy on your knees. The only downside? They're still kind of pricey in Canada - ranging from about $290 to $360 bucks a pair. Considering most rollerblades go for around $150-200 bucks, plus you need a helmet and extra protective equipment - it's really not that huge of a difference in price! If you don't want to commit just yet, give them a go at a gym like Harmony Fitness in Toronto.

Read more at the Globe and Mail (Aug. 5, 2010) in the article called "Jump up, jump up and slim down".

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Madonna Doesn't Leave Home Without Her Macrobiotic Chef

Source: Contact Music.com (Summary by NIM)

All the stars have their own secret to staying slim - they have to, it's part of their job to look good! It's obvious that Madonna spends a ton of time working out (have you seen those bulging muscles?) but she is equally as devoted to her diet. So what does the Material Mom do when she's gotta travel? Naturally, she brings her chef along with her to make sure that she stays on track.

Of all the celebrity diet stories and food idiosyncrasies I've heard of, perhaps none are as obsessed with their diets to as Madonna is, to go as far as she does to stick to her strict 'macrobiotic' diet. Madge spends thousands of dollars (hey, she's got it, right?) to have her private chef come along and prepare her meals for her en route to her destination. On a recent flight, it was reported that all the flight staff were given special documents and dossiers regarding Madonna's preferences and 'rules'.

Madonna has been on the macrobiotic diet for a while now and she's even got her new boyfriend on board. The diet itself consists of lots of whole grains, fish, vegetables, and beans while excluding dairy products, refined sugars and processed foods. It all sounds perfectly healthy and not at all restrictive, so I'm not sure what's putting Madge in such a mood!

Read more at Contact Music.com (July 28, 2010) in the article called "Madonna Flies With Chef".

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Low-Carb Beats Low-Fat for Cholesterol Benefits

Source: CTV News (Summary by NIM)

When it comes to weight loss, a deficit of 3,500 calories equals one pound of fat lost. How elementary; it's like learning your ABC's - you know this by now. How you choose to cut those calories out is not super important, but the actual breakdown of your diet may have an impact on the pattern of weight loss you experience. According to researchers, low-fat and low-carb diets are equally effective for weight loss, but one of these patterns of eating has benefits that go way beyond mere weight loss.

Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the study followed 307 adults over two years. Half of those people followed a low-carb diet and the other half followed a low-fat diet. In terms of losing weight, both diets worked just fine.

However, if you happen to be concerned about the health of your heart, and even if you're not, a low-carb diet appears to have a 'bonus' effect. A low-carb diet not only helps you lose weight, but it can improve your levels of 'good' (or HDL) cholesterol, according to the research findings. Both diets improved HDL levels, but the low-carb diet worked twice as well with a 23% improvement, versus a 12% increase on the low-fat diet.

In the end, though, losing weight itself appears to have been the main reason for the overall improvement in the health of the participants. According to the study's leader, "It doesn't make a difference for weight loss how you get there," as long as you get there!

Read more at CTV News (Aug. 3, 2010) in the article called "Low-carb diet better at boosting 'good' cholesterol".

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

High Cholesterol May Damage Arteries at as Early as 20

Source: Reuters Health (Summary by NIM)

For the most part, young people don't have to worry about their cholesterol levels. Unless there is a known problem or some family history, cholesterol in moderate amounts is not something to be feared. But according to researchers, damage done as early as the age of 20 can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke later in life.

A new study investigated the diets and cholesterol levels of young adults aged 18-30 for a 20 year time period. It was found that, even at an early age, high cholesterol had a lasting effect on their long term health, even if cholesterol levels later in life were normal. Essentially, the damage is life long.

The researchers went on to say that despite the findings, young people don't have to take medication or monitor their cholesterol levels like older people do - all they have to do is eat right and exercise regularly to keep their hearts healthy. It truly is so much easier to prevent disease and illness early in life when you have the chance, rather than working to undo existing damage later in life. Despite that, it's never too late to make a change for better health!

Read more at Reuters.com (Aug. 3, 2010) in the article called "High cholesterol dangerous in young adults, too".

Friday, August 6, 2010

Bill Clinton Diets For Daughter's Wedding

Source: The National Post (Summary by NIM)

Crash diets are bad. Most people know this. They are not the answer to sustainable weight loss, and yet so many people are so attracted (and addicted?) to them. I guess it all goes back to our society's mindset of 'instant gratification' and perhaps a fear of commitment? It's funny, though because crash diets almost certainly result in weight gain after the fact, even more so than prior to the 'diet'. I bet you most people don't know that - or else why would they do these diets - or maybe they don't care. Well, it seems that perhaps nobody is immune to this pattern of thinking, not even former US President Bill Clinton.

A noticeably thinner Clinton walked his daughter Chelsea down the aisle this past weekend, which sparked an interest in the methods he took to achieve his new weight. Clinton, who was never what you would consider 'thin' reported on his blog that his daughter's one request of him on her wedding day was that he lose weight. Up to 15 lbs, she said.

Rumour has it that Clinton used the Cabbage soup diet to help him reach his goal. Back in April, he was halfway to his 15-lb weight loss goal, so perhaps he followed this diet to shed the last few stubborn pounds. The trouble is that most of the weight lost on this type of diet is simply water, not fat, as would be the goal. If it is indeed the case that Clinton ate nothing but cabbage soup prior to his daughter's wedding, we should be seeing the fast-food lover back to his old weight, and then some, in no time!

Read more at The National Post (Aug 3, 2010) in the article called "Did Bill Clinton use the cabbage soup diet?".

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Gisele Bundchen: Breastfeeding Should Be the Law

Source: USA Today (Summary by NIM)

Happy World Breastfeeding Week! That's right, the World Health Organization kicked of World Breastfeeding Week this past Sunday, and how fitting it is that supermodel and new mommy Gisele Bundchen has just spoken out on the essential practice?

Breastfeeding is hands down the best thing you can do for your child - probably in their whole entire life. Breastfeeding provides infants with the perfect food, the exact composition of nutrients that their growing bodies and brains require. Breastfeeding has been linked to having smarter, healthier, more robust babies, who grow up to be healthy, capable individuals. So why isn't everyone doing it? That's what Gisele wants to know.

Bundchen has recently spoken out saying "Some people here think they don't have to breastfeed, and I think, 'Are you going to give chemical food to your child when they are so little?' I think there should be a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months". And she certainly makes an excellent point, but there's a catch - when it comes to breastfeeding, acceptance, support and instruction (yep - you've gotta learn how) are critical. Some new moms might be naturals, but most are not, and if they do it wrong or get frustrated, they might hurt themselves or simply give up. But don't fear - there are actually lactation specialists in most hospitals that are there to ensure you're doing it right. Or, you can call one. Then...there is also the issue of social acceptance - a lot of people are quite simply intolerant of or uncomfortable with the practice. What's a new mom to do then, if her baby is hungry?

So this World Breastfeeding Week - even if you're not a new mom - support all women out there by encouraging breastfeeding and supporting this human right.

Read more at USA today (Aug 3, 2010) in the article called "Gisele Bundchen: Breastfeeding 'should be a worldwide law'" and the Medical News (Aug 3, 2010) in the article called "World Breastfeeding Week highlights benefits to infant, child nutrition, health".

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Log In to Lose More Weight

Source: LA Times (Summary by NIM)

When it comes to losing weight, there are so many options out there. For the most part, it's basic math. Calories in and calories out. But there's a reason we study exercise science, sports medicine, and nutritional sciences just to name a few programs - they encompass a lot, including psychology. Weight loss can truly be a battle of the body and mind, so ultimately, the majority of people looking to lose weight fail because they don't have a solid, consistent support and motivation system. They are not accountable to anyone but themselves. So where is a person to turn to next? How about the Internet?

Many people think they need to shell out a ton of cash for a personal trainer or for regular meetings with a nutritionist, but studies have shown that this is not the case. One study published last year suggested that even speaking to a nurse or other health care professional regularly over the phone was enough to keep people on track. Others have shown that tweeting your weight loss or publishing your trials and tribulations on facebook holds you accountable to your friends. And now, new research has found that simply logging on and being part of an online weight loss community can help the pounds stay off. What's more - the people who logged on the most frequently actually lost the most weight and kept it off for longer. It's all about having the right support system.

So if you're struggling with your weight but don't know where to turn to, try checking out the web (you're already on it right now for crying out loud) for some great support groups.

Read more at the LA times (July 27, 2010) in the article called "The Internet may be a good weight loss tool -- as long as you log on".

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New Adidas miCoach Apps Can Whip You into Shape

Source: Uber Gizmo (Summary by NIM)

Techno-coaches are nothing new; Nike's + technology and software as well as Adidas' miCoach have both been around for some time now. Both companies offer a chip as well as software to track your workout progress, push you further and even coordinate your music to your running pace to keep you motivated. But while those old coaches were mainly just for runners, Adidas has now introduced a whole new range of apps that can help train you in a host of other sports.

Available today forward, the new Adidas miCoach apps can push you further in your basketball, football, soccer and tennis training, just to name a few of the sports that are supported. The software relies on GPS tracking which can give you real-time feedback as you go along in your training. According to Bernd Wahler, Chief Marketing Officer of Adidas Sport Performance, "Our service approach is unique and sets new standards in terms of personalization in the entire sporting goods industry."

Unlike Nike's exclusive alliance with Apple, Adidas' apps are available for iPhones and smart phones alike. With so much customization and a wide range of options within each program, the new miCoach apps really do look like they can give Nike a run for their money.

Read more at Uber Gizmo (Aug 2, 2010) in the article called "Adidas miCoach app introduced, turns smartphone into personal fitness coach".

Monday, August 2, 2010

'Western' Diet Linked to ADHD

Source: The Toronto Sun (Summary by NIM)

Of all the known types of 'diets', it sure seems that the Western style of eating has the worst reputation. Yes, other parts of the world fry stuff too, and they use the same ingredients that we do here, but somehow, we always manage to muck things up and make ourselves sick. And now there's even more evidence that the way we eat out here in the West affects not only our waistlines, but also our brains.

A new Australian study has just found a link between ADHD and a Western-type diet in adolescents. The definition of 'Western Diet' in this study included lots of fried food, fast food, candy and refined food products. Overall, this type of diet includes more fat, saturated fat, refined sugar and sodium than what is considered healthy by any standard, but lower in fibre and omega-3 fatty acids.

The highest prevalence of ADHD was found in kids who ate a lot of take out meals, processed and meats, candy and high fat dairy products. The thought is that all this fat is swinging the kids' fatty acid profile in the wrong direction. This fits in with previous research that has shown a positive effect on the brain of having lots of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which can also potentially prevent or calm the symptoms of ADHD.

In the end, it is still unclear which causes which - is it diet that causes ADHD or the other way around? Regardless, its undisputed that there is some kind of a link here and it's best if we start cleaning up the way we eat, and especially the way we feed our kids!

Read more at the Toronto Sun (July 29, 2010) in the article called "Study links ADHD to poor diet"