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Beat Diabetes…by Cooking?!

20 Nov

Beat Diabetes…by Cooking?!

It’s November – which means Thanksgiving…and National Diabetes Month.

Health statistics rarely make you take pause, but try this one on for size:

37% of the US population has diabetes or prediabetes.

Think about that: more than 1/3 of American citizens are walking around with compromised blood sugar control. While that might not sound like such a bad thing at first, down the road, diabetes becomes a nasty condition that ravages the entire body.

Uncontrolled diabetes is a leading cause of many complications, including kidney disease, blindness, amputation, neuropathy, stroke, and high blood pressure…not to mention it is #7 on the list of top 10 killers of Americans.

On top of all of that depressing news, the American Diabetes Association now estimates the cost of diagnosed diabetes to the country is $245 billion.

So what can be done to stop this trainwreck called diabetes? Well for starters, you can cook your way out of the abyss.

That’s right – cooking more of your own foods at home (as opposed to eating out or eating packaged and processed junk) can now be considered a primary diabetes prevention tool.

How does that work?

As a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, I see firsthand that diabetes prevention is all about excess weight prevention. And how can you prevent unwanted weight gain?

Cook at home more.

This year’s American Diabetes Month theme is “America Gets Cooking to Stop Diabetes” – an approach that acknowledges the power of at home food preparation and “empowers all Americans to cook nutritious and delicious food, and be more active”.

Cooking food more often at home is a great way to control calories, increase fiber, and include more fruits and vegetables in your meals. You are never going to add as much butter to your meals as that restaurant chef will!

As we head into the holidays, this year do your part to reduce diabetes risk by making restaurant trips more of a “sometimes” thing and home-cooked meals your go-to game.

The State of Obesity: How Does Your State Stack Up?

5 Mar

The State of Obesity: How Does Your State Stack Up?

Is Montana the last and least fat frontier?

A new study on self-reported height and weight called the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being index shows that more than 2 in 10 adults were obese in every state in 2013, except for Montana.

The 10 most obese states were:

  • Mississippi (35.4% obesity)
  • West Virginia (34.4%)
  • Delaware (34.3%)
  • Louisiana (32.7%)
  • Arkansas (32.3%)
  • South Carolina (31.4%)
  • Tennessee (31.3%)
  • Ohio (30.9%)
  • Kentucky (30.6%)
  • Oklahoma (30.5%)

The 10 states with lowest obesity rates were:

  • Montana (19.6%)
  • Colorado (20.4%)
  • Nevada (21.1%)
  • Minnesota (22.0%)
  • Massachusetts (22.2%)
  • Connecticut (23.2%)
  • New Mexico (23.5%)
  • California (23.6%)
  • Hawaii (23.7%)
  • New York (24.0%)

Overall US obesity ticked up to a nationwide 27.1%.

Not surprisingly, those living in the 10 most obese states were also more likely to have higher rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, diabetes, cancer, and heart attacks than were those living in the 10 least obese states.

The only good news? Those in the 10 least obese states report higher healthy eating occurrences and exercise.

Childhood Obesity: Some Good News

26 Feb

Childhood Obesity: Some Good News

A new study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association shines a bright light on a pretty dismal topic: childhood obesity.

Analysis of this data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that obesity rates among 2-5 year olds dropped 43% from 2003-2004 to 2011-2012.

Childhood obesity was 13.9% among 2-5 year olds in 2003-2004 and dropped to 8.4% by 2011-2012.

It’s not all chocolate roses for the bigger picture outside of this age range though: obesity among 2-19 year olds dropped just 0.2% from 17.2% to 17.0% over the same time period.

And don’t forget that parents (who direct the majority of 2-5 year olds’ food choices) still have obesity rates topping 30%.

While the nutrition world is scrambling to explain this unexpected drop in early childhood obesity, a few important points have emerged:

  • Kids who are overweight as children are more likely to become overweight adults – this study bodes well for the future of adult obesity if poor health habits can be curbed earlier in life
  • Preventing obesity is easier than treating it – getting early childhood obesity rates down is a step in the right direction for our entire population
  • While there has been no significant changes in overall obesity rates – hey, at least things aren’t getting worse!

The Best Diets of 2014

7 Jan

The Best Diets of 2014

What’s the best news about US News & World Reports’ just-published Best Diets of 2014?

Refreshingly, the winners aren’t obnoxious, high-priced fad diets – instead, they’re sensible, realistic ways of eating that show real results.

As they have done for the past 4 years, US News & World Report evaluated 32 popular diets, surveying nutrition experts, ranking their results, and deciding which ones were the “best” diets.

The “Best Overall” diets are:

#1 – The DASH Diet
#2 – The TLC Diet

Haven’t heard of either? Well, your taxes paid for the research that funded both of them!

Both the DASH and TLC diets were born out of government research studies that recommend these eating plans designed to lower blood pressure and heart disease risk, respectively.

Don’t care about health but just want to lose weight? According to US News and their experts, the “Best Weight Loss” diets are:

#1 – Weight Watchers
#2 – The Biggest Loser tied with Jenny Craig tied with a Raw Food Diet

So what do the best of the best all have in common?

  • They emphasize eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and high fiber foods
  • They recommend less reliance on packaged, processed, and refined foods
  • Exercise is acknowledged as an important component of weight loss and weight management
  • You don’t have to buy fancy foods or supplements on these plans – cooking at home does a body good!

For more detail on the “Best Overall” category winners, check out this site. And for a full listing of all category winners, click here.

Looking to Get Lean? High-Fiber, Vegan Diet May Hold Key

8 Oct

Looking to Get Lean? High-Fiber, Vegan Diet May Hold Key

If you’re looking to get lean – a high-fiber, plant-based vegan diet may hold the key.

A new analysis from the Adventist Health Study 2 shows that strict vegetarians/vegans have a lower body mass index (BMI) and higher healthy nutrient intake than do other types of food pattern diets.

The cross-sectional study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics looked at over 71,000 Adventist subjects who were classified as belonging to 1 of 5 diet types:

  • Strict vegetarian/vegan (no animal products)
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarians (eats dairy and eggs)
  • Pesco-vegetarian (east fish)
  • Semi-vegetarian (occasionally omits animal foods)
  • Non-vegetarian

Based on dietary recall data from a 204-item semi-validated food frequency questionnaire, the researchers found that:

  • Non-vegetarians had the lowest intake of plant proteins, fiber, and beta-carotene
  • Non-vegetarians had the highest saturated fat and trans fat intake
  • Calorie intake was similar across all patterns at 2,000 calories – with exception of semi-vegetarians who ate 1,700 calories/day
  • BMI was lowest among vegans and only 9.4% of vegans were classified as obese (BMI>30)

What’s the take-away message? Shifting to a plant-based diet is a great way to improve your dietary fiber intake, body weight, and prevent certain types of chronic disease.

For more information on the Seventh-Day Adventist Diet, click here.