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Craving for alcohol linked to obesity

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Addiction researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that a risk for alcoholism also may put individuals at risk for obesity. The researchers noted that the association between a family history of alcoholism and obesity risk has become more pronounced in recent years. Both men and women with such a family history were more likely to be obese in 2002 than members of that same high-risk group had been in 1992. “In addiction research, we often look at what we call cross-heritability, which addresses the question of whether the predisposition to one condition also might contribute to other conditions,” says first author Richard A. Grucza, PhD. “For example, alcoholism and drug abuse are cross-heritable. This new study demonstrates a cross-heritability between alcoholism and obesity, but it also says — and this is very important — that some of the risks must be a function of the environment. The environment is what changed between the 1990s and the 2000s. It wasn’t people’s genes.”

Obesity in the United States has doubled in recent decades from 15 percent of the population in the late 1970s to 33 percent in 2004. Obese people – those with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more – have an elevated risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.

Reporting in the Archives of General Psychiatry, Grucza and his team say individuals with a family history of alcoholism, particularly women, have an elevated obesity risk. In addition, that risk seems to be growing. He speculates that may result from changes in the food we eat and the availability of more foods that interact with the same brain areas as addictive drugs. “Much of what we eat nowadays contains more calories than the food we ate in the 1970s and 1980s, but it also contains the sorts of calories — particularly a combination of sugar, salt and fat — that appeal to what are commonly called the reward centers in the brain,” says Grucza, an assistant professor of psychiatry. “Alcohol and drugs affect those same parts of the brain, and our thinking was that because the same brain structures are being stimulated, overconsumption of those foods might be greater in people with a predisposition to addiction.”

Grucza hypothesized that as Americans consumed more high-calorie, hyper-palatable foods, those with a genetic risk for addiction would face an elevated risk from because of the effects of those foods on the reward centers in the brain. His team analyzed data from two large alcoholism surveys from the last two decades. The National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey was conducted in 1991 and 1992. The National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions was conducted in 2001 and 2002. Almost 80,000 people took part in the two surveys.

“We looked particularly at family history of alcoholism as a marker of risk,” Grucza explains. “And we found that in 2001 and 2002, women with that history were 49 percent more likely to be obese than those without a family history of alcoholism. We also noticed a relationship in men, but it was not as striking in men as in women.” Grucza says a possible explanation for obesity in those with a family history of alcoholism is that some individuals may substitute one addiction for another. After seeing a close relative deal with alcohol problems, a person may shy away from drinking, but high-calorie, hyper-palatable foods also can stimulate the reward centers in their brains and give them effects similar to what they might experience from alcohol.

“Ironically, people with alcoholism tend not to be obese,” Grucza says. “They tend to be malnourished, or at least under-nourished because many replace their food intake with alcohol. One might think that the excess calories associated with alcohol consumption could, in theory, contribute to obesity, but that’s not what we saw in these individuals.” Grucza says other variables, from smoking, to alcohol intake, to demographic factors like age and education levels don’t seem to explain the association between alcoholism risk and obesity. “It really does appear to be a change in the environment,” he says. “I would speculate, although I can’t really prove this, that a change in the food environment brought this association about. There is a whole slew of literature out there suggesting these hyper-palatable foods appeal to people with addictive tendencies, and I would guess that’s what we’re seeing in our study.” The results, he says, suggest there should be more cross-talk between alcohol and addiction researchers and those who study obesity. He says there may be some people for whom treating one of those disorders also might aid the other.

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The deadliest diets : 10 year study

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Two specific eating patterns increase the risk of death for older adults, a 10-year study finds.Compared to people who ate healthy foods, men and women in their 70s had a 40% higher risk of death if they got most of their calories from high-fat dairy foods or from sweets and desserts. University of Maryland researcher Amy L. Anderson, PhD, and colleagues monitored the eating patterns of 2,582 adults aged 70 to 79. They found that these diets fell into six patterns or clusters.

After adjusting for risk factors such as sex, age, race, education, physical activity, smoking, and total calories, “the High-Fat Dairy Products cluster and the Sweets and Desserts cluster still showed significantly higher risk of mortality than the Healthy Foods cluster,” Anderson and colleagues found.

The six dietary patterns were:

  • Healthy Foods: Higher intake of low-fat dairy products, fruit, whole grains, poultry, fish, and vegetables. Lower intake of meat, fried foods, sweets, high-energy drinks, and added fat.
  • High-Fat Dairy Products: Higher intake of ice cream, cheese, and 2% and whole milk and yogurt. Lower intake of poultry, low-fat dairy products, rice, and pasta.
  • Sweets and Desserts: Higher intake of doughnuts, cake, cookies, pudding, chocolate, and candy. Lower intake of fruit, fish and other seafood, and dark green vegetables.
  • Meat, Fried Foods, and Alcohol: Higher intake of beer, liquor, fried chicken, mayonnaise/salad dressings, high-energy density drinks, nuts, snacks, rice/pasta dishes, and added fat. Lower intake of low-fat dairy products, fiber/bran breakfast cereal, and other breakfast cereal.
  • Breakfast Cereal: Higher intake of fiber/bran and other breakfast cereals (especially the latter). Low intake of nuts, refined grains, dark yellow vegetables, and dark green vegetables.
  • Refined Grains: Higher intake of refined grains (such as pancakes, waffles, breads, muffins, and cooked cereals such as oatmeal) and processed meat (such as bacon, sausage, ham, and other lunchmeats). Lower intake of liquor, breakfast cereals, and whole grains.

Several of the groups got an unusually large amount of their total calories from just one food group:

The sweets and desserts cluster got 25.8% of its total energy from sweets.The refined grains cluster got 24.6% of its total energy from refined grains.The breakfast cereal group got 19.3% of its total energy from cold cereals other than those full of fiber and bran.The high-fat dairy products group got 17.1% of its total energy from higher-fat dairy foods.

Overall, people in the healthy foods cluster had more years of healthy life and a lower death rate than all other groups. Moreover, their blood tests came back with significantly more indicators of health than the other groups.

But not all of the study findings were so predictable. “Unexpectedly, in this and in several other studies, a [dietary] pattern higher in red meat was not significantly associated with increased risk of mortality,” Anderson and colleagues note. It's also not entirely clear why the Meat, Fried Food, and Alcohol cluster didn't have a significantly higher death risk, as most diets warn people to limit or avoid such foods.

“In our study, the Meat, Fried Food, and Alcohol cluster did have a slightly higher percentage of total energy from vegetables, fruit, and whole grains than both the High-Fat Dairy Products and Sweets and Desserts clusters, which showed higher risk of mortality,” Anderson and colleagues suggest.

This was by far the most common eating pattern seen in the study: 27% of participants were in the meat, fried food, and alcohol cluster. But Anderson and colleagues do not recommend such a diet. Instead, they point to the fact that 14.5% of study participants were in the healthy foods cluster. “Adherence to such a diet appears a feasible and realistic recommendation for potentially improved survival and quality of life in the growing older adult population,” Anderson and colleagues conclude.

The study appears in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
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Diabetes Risk from Dining Out

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A GOURMET meal may be as bad for you as a Big Mac, according to diabetes researchers who are alarmed at the rise in young men diagnosed with the disease.Corporate lunches and dinners at restaurants dishing up rich, fatty foods, coupled with sedentary working lives are being blamed for the trend. Dr Neale Cohen, of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, said many patients were unaware meals at upmarket restaurants were often as high in fat, salt and sugar as fast food. 

''Eating out is really code for eating badly,'' Dr Cohen said. ''Whether it's a fine French restaurant or McDonald's, it's the type of food that causes the problem.'' He said doctors at the institute are seeing men as young as 40 affected by type 2 diabetes, which is often triggered by obesity and linked to poor diet. ''Many of my patients will eat out three or four times a week for work and we are seeing 40-year-old businessmen who are in real trouble. To have diabetes at that age and otherwise be perfectly well with very little family history, is a really worrying thing.''

Dr Cohen recommends his patients only eat out once a week but said the ''MasterChef effect'' was encouraging people to re-create the elaborate dishes at home.

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A reversal on carbs

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A growing number of top nutritional scientists blame excessive carbohydrates — not fat — for America's ills. They say cutting carbohydrates is the key to reversing obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and hypertension. “Fat is not the problem,” says Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. “If Americans could eliminate sugary beverages, potatoes, white bread, pasta, white rice and sugary snacks, we would wipe out almost all the problems we have with weight and diabetes and other metabolic diseases.”

It's a confusing message. For years we've been fed the line that eating fat would make us fat and lead to chronic illnesses. “Dietary fat used to be public enemy No. 1,” says Dr. Edward Saltzman, associate professor of nutrition and medicine at Tufts University. “Now a growing and convincing body of science is pointing the finger at carbs, especially those containing refined flour and sugar.”

Americans, on average, eat 250 to 300 grams of carbs a day, accounting for about 55% of their caloric intake. The most conservative recommendations say they should eat half that amount. Consumption of carbohydrates has increased over the years with the help of a 30-year-old, government-mandated message to cut fat.

And the nation's levels of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease have risen. “The country's big low-fat message backfired,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. “The overemphasis on reducing fat caused the consumption of carbohydrates and sugar in our diets to soar. That shift may be linked to the biggest health problems in America today.”

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Tea can overcome the impact of fast food

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The content of cholesterol and calories are pretty high in fast food is a cause of obesity and various metabolic disorders and heart. These impacts can be slightly reduced if balanced by drinking tea regularly.Obesity and metabolic disorders in people who are too frequently eat fast food due to the number of fat content and the use of oil in the food. While the threat to the heart is generally triggered by the use of salt, but also greatly affect cholesterol.

In a study conducted by experts from Kobe University, revealed that regular tea consumption may prevent damage to blood cells due to elevated levels of bad cholesterol. Consequently the risk for type 2 diabetes can be reduced.

A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that use 2 types of tea which is green tea and black tea. Both can memberikankan benefits, but black tea is said to be heart-protective effect. Benefits of tea that can be obtained according to these studies, among others, to prevent elevated levels of bad cholesterol, blood sugar and insulin resistance. The third condition is the main factor triggering type 2 diabetes caused by unhealthy eating patterns. “Drinking tea may help prevent obesity and blood fat levels settings. The problems are a result of high-fat diet,” says Dr. Carrie Ruxton of the Tea Advisory Panel as quoted from Dailymail, Sunday (19/12/2010).

 

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Food Pyramid to be revised

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This month the federal Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services will release the 2010 dietary guidelines. These guidelines directly impact the eating habits of one in every four Americans whose meals are subsidized by federal programs. The precise timing of the release this month is unknown, according to John Webster, a spokesman for the USDA.

The major question here is whether or not the new guidelines will impact the obesity epidemic that is increasing ever so quickly in our country. Decisions about what to eat are generally made at the supermarket, not while reading federal guidelines. “What we need to do is put more effort into figuring out how to engage people who don’t use nutrition as a major deciding point when buying food,” says Alice H. Lichtenstein, a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. “We really need to learn more about consumer behavior.’’ Some experts wonder if more nutrition information helps or confuses shoppers.

It is arguable that the guidance needs to be much clearer, more like the wildly popular “Eat This, Not That!,’’ a magazine column, which was then reworked into a book and an iPhone app, that made its mark by telling readers which fast food was nutritionally better than others. Dr. David L. Katz, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center and an associate professor at the university’s School of Medicine, is an advocate for more specific guidance. For example, 45 to 65 percent of daily calories should come from foods that contain carbohydrates. But “lollipops and lentils are both carbs,’’ Katz says. And while the current federal recommendations do stress eating carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, he adds, “We need to do a better job of specifically defining highly recommended foods.’’

While no one is talking about the final 2010 recommendations before their release, a June advisory report, open for public comment, gives some clues. Cohen of UMass Amherst expects the final guidelines to place even greater emphasis on physical activity and continue to recommend that people include more fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, foods with Omega-3 fatty acids, and a suggestion to eat three servings of low-calorie dairy products a day (some argue that calcium supplements should be used in place of the third serving).

 

 

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Amount of Alcohol You Drink Greatly Affects Your Diet

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According to a new study by researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the USDA, conducted a study with 15,000 adults in the United States, and found that people who drink too many alcoholic beverages are more likely to eat less fruit and consume more calories from a combination of alcoholic beverages and foods high in unhealthy fats and sugar.

“Heavy drinking and dietary factors have independently been associated with cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and other chronic health problems,” said NIAAA Acting Director Kenneth R. Warren, Ph.D. “This finding raises questions about whether the combination of alcohol misuse and poor diet might interact to further increase health risks.”

“We found that as alcoholic beverage consumption increased, Healthy Eating Index scores decreased, an indication of poorer food choices,” said first author Rosalind A. Breslow, Ph.D., an epidemiologist in NIAAA's Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research.

A previous study by Dr. Breslow showed that the more alcohol people drink, the poorest quality diets they had. In addition to eating less fruits and vegetables, the researchers also found that increased alcoholic beverage consumption was associated with a decreased intake of whole grains and milk among men.

“Our findings underscore the importance of moderation for individuals who choose to consume alcoholic beverages, and a greater awareness of healthy food choices among such individuals,” says Dr. Breslow.

It is very important to control the amount of alcohol you consume. It could greatly affect you health.

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Ethnic, Cultural and Special Food Pyramids

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Many countries around the world have developed their own food guidelines in various forms similar to the Healthy Food Pyramid, many of which are useful in making healthy choices when dining out.

Standard
USDA: Inside the current US food pyramid
CNPP: Original food pyramid
BWH: Comparison of the US food guide pyramid and other food guides

Ethnic/Cultural
American Dietetic Association: Comparison of international food guides
EUFIC: European dietary guidelines
Asian: The Asian food pyramid
Latin: The Latin American food pyramid
Mediterranean: The Mediterranean food pyramid
Native American: The Native American food pyramid
Spanish: The USDA food pyramid in Spanish
Arabic: The Arabic food pyramid
Chinese: The Chinese food pyramid
Cuban: The Cuban food pyramid
Indian: The Indian food pyramid by region
Mexican: The Mexican food pyramid
Portuguese: The Portuguese food pyramid
Russian: The Russian food pyramid
Thai: The Thai food pyramid
Japanese: The Japanese food guide spinning top
Singapore: The Singapore food pyramid
Canadian: The Canadian food guidelines

Special
USDA: Inside the pyramid-what is physical activity?
Keep Kids Healthy: Kid's food guide pyramid
Penn State: Preschooler's activity pyramid
University of Missouri: Nutrition and cancer food guide pyramid
Elderly Nursing: Elderly diet
Dietitians.ca: Food guide for North American vegetarians
VDH: Interactive food pyramid tracker for ages 7-10
Teen’s Health: The food guide pyramid for teens

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School Lunch

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What should a parent do when a child only wants to buy school lunch and it isn't healthy, or a child is bored with the lunches you pack from home? And really, does one meal a day make a difference? Yes. When kids get used to eating high fat food, this can form a long-term habit (fat does taste good). The time to set permanent healthy behavior is early and reinforcing during school is no exception.

Depending on the age of your child, have her help plan lunch or even prepare part of it. This can be done just once or twice a week to get your child involved.

Remember that children love to get out and play and sometimes will eat very little so they can have more time on the school playground. Packing a snack for early or late recess may be a good idea (peanuts and cashews are full of fiber and protein). Don't be upset with them if their lunch is only half consumed. She is just a social butterfly. Offer sliced peaches and plain yogurt when she gets home. Make a fruit smoothie with your son using frozen fruit, vanilla yogurt, and milk.

Talk to your child about the lunch program and help him choose a healthy option. Although it is quite convenient not to pack a lunch, try a bag lunch at least two times a week. For older kids this can help your budget as kids who can go off campus can spend a lot on lunch (of questionable nutritional value).

Healthy things to pack:

  • Edamame (soybean) or sugar snap peas (good source of protein)
  • Cube cheese and offer it on a toothpick
  • Trail mix (nuts, dried cranberries stick pretzels)
  • Sliced mango, kiwi, or apples (use orange juice to help prevent browning)
  • Vanilla yogurt with raspberries and granola or nuts on top (place it in a small plastic container (use an ice pack to keep it cold)
  • Use leftover chicken from dinner last night and make a sandwich vs. processed sandwich meat which is high in sodium (salt)
  • Use a cookie cutter to shape sandwiches into hearts, flowers, etc (young kids love to eat fun-shaped sandwiches)
  • Open faced bagel with cream cheese and a face (use raisin for the eyes, a cashew for the nose etc.)
  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich – apples will work too.
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese in a tortilla
  • Use a thermos in the cold months and fill it up with soup or pasta with a little bit of chicken broth for added taste
  • Cereal. Just make sure it is high in fiber (5 grams) and low in sugar (under 10 grams). Provide a container with a top and a spoon; your child can add the milk provided at school.

This family wellness article is provided by Nourish Interactive, visitwww.nourishinteractive.com for nutrition articles, family wellness tips, free children's healthy games, and tools. Available in English and Spanish.

Copyright ©2009 Nourish Interactive – All Rights Reserved.

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Eating fast foods the healthy way

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There are some tricks that can help make any fast food meal better for you and your family. Follow these tips to cut down on fat, sodium, sugar, overall calories and make your meal healthier:

  • If you are ordering á la Carte items on the menu, find out if there is a child’s size available. Another option is to order the regular size and split the order and share it. Avoid ordering extra large portions just because they are a deal! These deals usually have the words jumbo, giant, super sized or deluxe in the name.
  • Don’t be shy about making substitutions! Children love kid’s meals because it comes with a toy and it is usually in a cool looking box. Let them order it but ask to make substitutions for the fries and soda if possible. Many restaurants will offer milk or water as a beverage and apple slices instead of fries.
  • Talk to your child before ordering a meal and give them a choice of milk, juice or water (make sure it is low fat milk or 100% fruit juice.) Explain to them that soda is high in empty calories that will just fill up their tummies.
  • Let your child know that they can ask for items prepared a specific way. For example, salad dressing on the side, baked or grilled instead of fried, brown rice instead of white rice.
  • Finally, set a good example by ordering a healthy meal for yourself.

What Can Parents Do?

By learning how the food is prepared, you will be able to make healthier choices ordering from a menu:

  • Order foods that are not breaded or fried because they are higher in fat and calories. Foods that are breaded and deep fried include: chicken nuggets, fried chicken, fried fish sandwiches, onion rings and french fries.
  • Order foods that are prepared by being steamed, broiled, grilled, poached, or roasted.
  • Have gravy, sauces and dressings served on the side so you can control the amount you eat.
  • Use salsa and mustard instead of mayonnaise.
  • Use non-fat milk or low fat milk instead of whole milk or heavy cream.
  • Order a salad with ‘lite’ or non-fat dressing instead of regular dressing.
  • Choose a regular, single patty hamburger without mayonnaise and cheese.

Over the last few years, many chain restaurants have been adding healthier menu options. They also started providing nutrition information for all the foods on the menu, but you usually need to ask for it. Try checking their website as well for additional information.

Hamburger fast food restaurants are the most popular with children. However, other options are available such as Asian food, sandwiches, or Mexican grills. Keep in mind that every fast food restaurant has both healthy and less-healthy choices. Here are some pointers to remember that can help you make better choices when eating out at various fast food places:

Mexican food:

  • Choose grilled soft tacos or burritos instead of a crispy shell or gordita-type burritos.
  • Black beans are a better choice because they have less fat than refried beans.
  • Ahhh, the Mexican condiments! Salsa is low in calories and fat and it makes a great substitute for sour cream, guacamole and cheese.

 Deli sandwiches:

  • Choose lean meats such as chicken breast, lean ham or roast beef, instead of salami or bacon.
  • Ask for 100% whole wheat bread for sandwiches. Skip the croissants and biscuits because they are high in fat.
  • Add low fat salad dressings instead of special sauces or mayonnaise.
  • Choose baked chips or pretzels instead of regular potato chips.

 Asian food:

  • Steamed brown rice has more nutrients and less calories than fried rice.
  • Stir fried, steamed, roasted or broiled dishes are healthier choices than battered or deep fried.
  • Sauces such as low sodium soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, wasabi, or ginger are better choices than sweet and sour sauce or coconut milk.

It’s OK to enjoy fast food once in a while, but try to limit the visits to no more than twice a month. An average meal at a fast food restaurant has around 1000 calories and does not have the vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients that your child needs to grow healthy and strong. While fast food consumption has greatly increased over the years there are several contributing factors why childhood obesity is becoming more and more prevalent. While all the above information is important, we need to keep things in perspective by understanding that the weight epidemic in this country is because of how much food children eat, rather than what food children eat.

If your family is going to have fast food for one meal, just make sure the other meals that day contain healthier foods like fruits and vegetables. Perhaps you could take an afternoon with your child and prepare a few homemade meals in advance that can be served quickly to avoid the temptation of getting fast food too often while at the same time teaching them some simple food preparation steps. Either way, just remember, it is not that difficult to eat healthy even when you don’t have much time.

 

This family wellness article is provided by Nourish Interactive, visitwww.nourishinteractive.com for nutrition articles, family wellness tips, free children's healthy games, and tools.  Available in English and Spanish.

Copyright ©2009 Nourish Interactive – All Rights Reserved.

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