Friday, July 11, 2008

Summer Bounty Promotes Exercise and Nutrition

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I can’t believe that it is mid-July already. Of course, when I look at my flower bed, I note that we have been getting some rain, the weather is warm and the weeds seem to flourish. Guess what kind of additional exercise I’ll be getting this weekend! In fact, I’m going to put my pedometer on and see how many steps I take in addition to the normal exercise.

Whissie is also due for some extra walking and hopefully that will add to my pedometer total. We promised you some picture of my dog, and we will try to get that completed soon. I’ve found that in addition to scheduled exercise, if I just keep moving rather than sitting and vegging, I can afford some of those guilty pleasures.

What is it about the summer that makes us crave vine-ripened tomatoes, okra, butter beans and all those other fresh vegetables? Maybe our agrarian ancestry kicks in and the I-want-fresh-vegetables gene overrides our I-want-chocolate gene. Whatever, the case, fresh stuff sure tastes great, and unless you “doctor it” with too many calorie-rich condiments, they are also good for you.

My thoughts today seem to summarize what I’ve been harping on this week: exercise and nutrition. These are two simple practices we need to embrace to break away from a sedentary lifestyle filled with poor health choices.

Have a great weekend!

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

The summer is far enough along that plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables are available in local supermarkets and produce stands. This is the time to enjoy fresh watermelon, corn, eggplant, peaches, plums and many more local fruits and vegetables. Enjoy them fresh or freeze or can them for later use. These days, we can have a rainbow of colors on our plate, which assures us that we are consuming plenty of protective phytochemicals.

Phytochemicals protect us against oxidative damage caused by the chemical reactions in our bodies or those induced by the sun, drugs, tobacco or alcohol. Think about broiling or grilling the vegetables instead of deep-fat-frying for reducing calories and fat.

If you are eating your vegetables and fruits fresh in salads, take a look at the salad dressings for their caloric content. Most of the low-fat or nonfat salad dressing taste as good as the full-fat ones, so shop carefully and choose the low-fat varieties. A tablespoon of dressing or oil has about 100 calories. Many times we want more than 1 tablespoon on our salad, and the calories build up quickly.

The salad alone likely has less than 100 calories, but the dressing could end up contributing 300 or more calories depending on how much you use. When in a restaurant, always order your dressing on the side so you can decide the portion. When I have forgotten to order dressing on the side, I have been disappointed at the amount I find on the salad. It overwhelms the ingredients and therefore ruins the dish for me.

Freshly picked fruits make excellent desserts during the summer. A bowl of fresh fruit with a touch of frozen concentrated fruit juice for added sweetness makes an excellent and healthy dessert that will not ruin anyone’s diet. Fresh fruits also make excellent calorie-controlled snacks because most fruits are just under or slightly over 100 calories. Vegetables are even lower in calories, but they can be fulfilling because they add texture to meals.

For more information on how to make Smart Choices with fruits and vegetables, check these links:

Heli Roy


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fountain of Youth Discovered

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Hold the presses! Finally someone has discovered the real fountain of youth. And, it seems to be universally agreed upon by many leading researchers. The secret: EAT LESS!

In an article I discovered on the Net, Robert Roy Britt, managing editor of “LiveScience,” reports that in the quest for the fountain of youth, you can increase your lifespan by up to 5 years by simply eating less. Think about it. You also cut the risk of some diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. One of the people quoted, Eric Ravussin, is right here at our own LSU Pennington Biomedical Center.

Even reducing calories as little at 15 percent can add 4-5 years to your life. For example, on a 2,800-calorie maintenance program for a person of my age and weight, that is only a calorie reduction of 420 calories (2,800 x .15 = 420).

But why? The reduction is thought to lower metabolic rate and cause the body to generate fewer damaging free radicals. And there are other theories. The fact seems to be, if you eat less you live longer.

A lot more research needs to be done in this less-calorie theory. But, it makes sense and seems sensible. One researcher noted that you can cut 400-500 calories by simply skipping dessert, or substituting a turkey sandwich for fast food. Eliminating a few of those beers, which are totally empty calories, will not hurt either.

Now if you want to live longer and better, you might as well take care of yourself and add quality to those years. Add a little exercise to a program of making smart choices and eating less. This is so simple, but we often look for that magic pill or that new fad. We humans tend to want make things harder than they are. Eat less, eat right and exercise.

Britt’s article is good read. The title is, “Live Longer: The One Anti-aging Trick That Works.” Do a Web search under “livescience,” the name of the publication. Enjoy!

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

Calorie restriction is the most effective and reproducible intervention for increasing lifespan in a variety of animal species, including mammals. Calorie restriction is also the most potent cancer-prevention regimen in animal models. There is interest in translating the information gained from animal research into humans to prevent and delay chronic disease development.

The benefits of caloric restriction are particularly important today, because obesity, which is an important risk factor for several chronic diseases, including many cancers, is alarmingly increasing in the United States.

The benefits of caloric restriction have been known since the 15th century. Very little work was done in the area, however, until the beginning of the 20th century and particularly in the 1930s. A researcher showed that tumors in mice were reduced with caloric restriction. To date, caloric restriction has been the most widely studied and most effective experimental strategy for increasing the survival of laboratory animals and is also the most potent, broadly acting dietary intervention for preventing cancer development in laboratory animals.

Caloric restriction has been tested in human studies. Many physiological changes take place when one reduces caloric intake. As the chancellor mentioned, the resting metabolic rate is decreased, and insulin, glucose and lipid values drop. Body temperature drops as well.

Caloric restriction is not the same as malnutrition. Caloric restriction is reduction in calories with adequate nutrients. It provides all the essential vitamins and minerals in adequate amounts. The total energy intake is usually reduced by 20 to 40 percent relative to normal.

A mild caloric restriction offers many of the benefits that can be obtained with the more severe restriction. Benefits include weight reduction, reduced lipid levels, increased stamina and energy and a feeling of well-being.

To reduce calories, make sure to consume foods that are low in calories but have the nutrients needed such as fruits and vegetables in their most natural form.

Heli Roy

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Reflections on Commercial Weight-Loss Messages

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I got in an early walk on the treadmill today – 40 minutes at level 4. While walking, I was able to watch early morning TV. I’ve also read a few items over the past day and noticed several messages worth reporting on. First, a lot of diet ads urge you to eat a canned/pre-packaged product and lose weight. Testimonials abound. I do not judge such programs because they certainly help people, so it seems. I wonder, though, what happens after you lose the weight? My experience has been that if you go back to your previous lifestyle, the weight comes back – and more.

Second, I saw one blurb about keeping a food log. Guilt set in because I am terrible about food logging. As I’ve mentioned on several occasions, we consume more calories than we realize, and one way to get a handle on how much we eat is to log every single thing that goes into our mouths – then get a professional dietician to analyze the log and tell you how many calories you are actually eating. My guess is the analysis will destroy the “I-don’t-eat-much-and-still-gain-weight” theory.

And, third, following the food logging note, I came across an item circulating on the Internet regarding the 10 worst foods. It was an eye-opener, since I have in one form or another eaten some of the dishes. One dish contained 2,900 calories. Then I read a little article about heart attacks, and it recommended that we eat fewer calories, more high-fiber foods, more fruits and vegetables, less sodium, etc.

My conclusion on the things I’ve read and seen over the last 24 hours is that we eat too much of the wrong things and are in denial of how bad they really are for our bodies. Lifestyle changes, as I said yesterday, require a commitment, and the key word is change.

My struggle continues, but I have gotten the exercise thing ingrained and know that I’m making smart choices. But, in all honesty, I still eat too much. My weight has stabilized, and now I need that push to get the final few pounds off and complete this year’s experiment successfully.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

It has become increasingly popular to use meal replacements as a way to control weight and lose weight. That is, use a fixed portion of a single product with less energy than normal foods consumed at a given meal. The difference in energy between the replacement meal and the meal that would have been customarily consumed leads to weight loss.

The appeal of meal replacements is that they are palatable, convenient and portions can be more easily controlled. There is evidence to show that meal replacers can lead to weight loss. Whether or not the weight loss is sustained is questionable at this time.

One objection to their use is that they foster reliance on a specialty product. However, this need not be the case. Conventional foods also may be effective if used appropriately such as ready-to-eat cereal. An interesting study was done by Dr. Richard Mattes of Purdue University. He studied three groups: group 1 ate a specified ready-to-eat cereal for two weeks; group 2 ate varieties of ready-made cereal for two weeks; and group 3 received no dietary intervention for the first two weeks.

After two weeks, they all continued on a diet high in fruits and vegetables except for group 3. Mattes found that groups 1 and 2 consumed about 600 fewer calories during the first two weeks on the ready-to-eat cereal meal replacement and lost about 4.2 and 3 pounds, respectively. Hence, cereal can be used as a meal replacement if the portions are controlled.

Many studies show that food logs are not accurate. Studies show that underreporting varies from 11 to 25 percent or more depending on the study subjects. Lean men tend to be more accurate than other groups, while overweight and obese have the highest level of underreporting.

When it comes to snack foods, if people liked the food, they are more likely to report it. Also, those who normally consume a low-fat diet are better at reporting snack food consumption. Men tend to have trouble recalling foods that are not central to the meal, such as snack foods or desserts.

As the chancellor states, “bad foods” are out there. These are foods or meals with a high fat content, high saturated fat and sodium content or high in calories. Watch out for meals that have more fat than you should have in the entire day.

The daily limit of fat for men on a 2,500-calorie diet is 83 grams total fat and 27.7 grams saturated fat. For women on an 1,800-calorie diet, the numbers are 60 and 20. If the meal has more than that, it would be advisable not to eat it unless you are very active the whole day to burn off all the fat and calories.

We should consume between 20 and 35 percent of our calories as fat. To reach the numbers I gave above, I multiplied total calories by the percentage and divided the result by 9 (the number of calories in a gram of fat). For simplicity, I used 30 percent, or .3. For men, the equation reads 2,5000 x .3 = 750. Each gram of fat has 9 calories: 750 calories/9 calories per gram of fat = 83 grams of fat.

For women, the equation reads 1,800 x .3 = 540. Each gram of fat has 9 calories: 540 calories /9 calories per gram of fat = 60 grams of fat.

We should consume no more than 10 percent of our calories as saturated fats. For men the equation is 2,500 x .1 = 250 calories from saturated fat; 250 calories/9 calories per gram of fat = 27.7 grams of fat.

For women, the equation is 1,800 x .1 = 180 calories from saturated fat; 180 calories/9 calories a gram of fat = 20 grams of saturated fat.

Heli Roy


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Spice of Life Applies to Diet and Exercise, Too

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If variety is truly the spice of life, variety might also apply to your exercise and nutrition routine. If you stay in an exercise and nutrition rut, even if you are eating better and exercising more, you might find the boredom leads to serious backsliding. I’m very routine-oriented and personally have to force myself into simple changes in my routine.

During the cooler months, I religiously exercised indoors on the treadmill. Once the weather warmed, I made the change to the outdoors. Now, I find that if I vary the site for my walks, and the time of day I walk, my routine remains fresh. I read an article recently that recommended spicing up your walks and runs with intervals: sprint for a few yards, jog slowly, walk. You use different muscles and add some variety.

I find that I also can get into a nutrition rut. Eating out for professional purposes is an occupational hazard. It is easy to get into the grilled chicken and asparagus rut. After you eat a few hundred chicken breasts, you just have to have some variety. Add variety to your nutrition, and you might find you don’t get bored and revert to the “pig out” mentality.

One important item I continue to remind myself about is the lifestyle change that underlies the program I have been writing about. Choose an exercise and nutrition plan you can continue for a lifetime. Most diet fads might help you lose weight, but can you continue to stay with the plan for years? Similarly with exercise – an intense six-week program might help you get started, but don’t you want to focus on something for the long term? I like my walking because I can do that for many years to come. If I continue to make smart choices, I can eat a variety of tasty foods and maintain my weight and hopefully ward off chronic disease.

Variety is truly the spice of life.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

You don’t need a formal definition to understand what the word “rut” means when you talk about diet and exercise. While some people are routine-oriented, others may get bored if they do the same type of exercise or physical activity on a daily basis.

If you like to walk on the treadmill, for example, you can change the incline or speed to “spice up” your normal routine. Also, if you are exercising on some type of stationary equipment, you may want to try the pre-programmed exercises that most equipment offers. This will add a little variety to decrease boredom.

If you don’t have equipment at home, try some other form of physical activity that you may not think of as traditional exercise. For example, gardening and/or working out in the lawn is a great form of physical activity. Don’t like to garden? Try a game of golf (no carts allowed!) or bowling. For additional ideas, take a look at our Smart Choices fact sheets.


Denise M. Holston

2/10/2009 1:16:32 AM
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