FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health


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Why Dieting Can Make Us Fat

Since we are a nation obsessed by weight loss, it is so important to realize that chronic dieting itself can make some people overweight or obese as a result. There are many reasons why our bodies resist weight loss and more than likely it is due to a fear of starvation. This involves the neuro-endocrine system and we have many mechanisms to prevent this threat to our existence.

This is more than likely involving our set -points defined as “a level at which body fat or body weight seems to resist change despite changes in energy intake or output.” The set point for each of us is largely determined by genes. Signals related to food intake affect hunger and satiety (feeling of fullness) over short time periods while signals from the adipose tissue trigger the brain to adjust to both food intake and energy expenditure for long-term regulation. The  two primary hormones involved are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is a peptide hormone produced  by the stomach that stimulates food intake and leptin is a peptide hormone produced by fat cells that signals information about the amount of body fat. The interactions are complex and better left to more academic discussions than in this blog post.

If you diet frequently, you should understand some of the implications of these interactions. The following article is a long read but it is important to know the facts – the best action is to prevent weight gain if possible so that we do not have to deal with its effects later on.

Weight management is possible by putting into practice the following simple suggestions.

Balance your intake and output, for example, weight yourself once a week; if the number goes up, cut down your calories.

Cut down on calories, e.g. bring your own lunch rather than eating out.

Don’t get too hungry – fill up on high fiber foods.

Increase activity – Take a walk during lunch break or after dinner.

Avoid fad diets – they only lead to the problem.

CLICK HERE.

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The Best Advice for Weight Loss

An article from Women’s Health provides sound and simple advice for weight loss that often gets missed or ignored when one follows fad diets. You have probably heard of most of these tried and true suggestions before, but when you put them all together, they just make a lot of good sense. No fads, just the facts based on evidence.

I might add to be aware of portion sizes. Follow the rules of measuring or estimating portions by using your hands: a fist = 1 cup; a cupped hand = 1/2 cup; a meat serving (3 oz) is about the size of your palm; a tablespoon = your thumb and a teaspoon = the tip of your  thumb. There is no need  to weigh foods on a scale. Keeping a food diary or journal is also a helpful idea to increase awareness of what you actually eat each day.

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Vegans vs. Meat? Some myths exposed.

Interesting discussion about vegan versus meat diets. Some good points were made and references support most of them as far as I can tell. Try to find some common sense on both sides of the debate. When the “facts” are known it becomes easier to decide your own personal diet choices and what is best for you. There is no one diet that fits all.

CLICK HERE.


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Low Carb/Low Fat: Which Diet is Best?

Which diet is best for weight loss? This debate has been a hot topic of nutritionists and dieters that began when Nathan Pritikin (a low fat guru) and Dr. Robert Atkins (a low carb supporter) faced off at a diet conference decades ago.

As People Magazine described it:

“Breakfasting within sight of each other during a recent diet conference, two of America’s leading gurus of weight loss were in no mood to break bread—or chew the fat. At one table Dr. Robert Atkins gobbled down bacon, ham and eggs, but carefully pushed the toast to the side of his plate. Nearby, he says, Nathan Pritikin was munching on nothing but plain toast. “I looked over at him eating his dry bread,” Atkins recalls scornfully. “And he looked so pathetic.” What does Pritikin think of Atkins’ bill of fare? “His diet is a monstrosity,” Pritikin says. “It’s really a malignancy of nutrition.” From People Magazine, December 3, 1979.

Since then, this controversy  has continued relentlessly – until now.  Maybe, just maybe, we can accept one “truth” – it really doesn’t matter for weight loss.

However, the following article does not address that there are some major differences in health affects between the two diets- namely, their effects on heart disease risks (LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol). Those differences in time may help to clarify the debate about the lipid hypothesis of heart disease. Check out my previous post HERE.

Read the article HERE.


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Don’t Diet, Live It

Anyone who has battled a weight problem know what it is like to feel guilty about every bit of food they eat.  They become obsessed with every new diet fad that come along especially those that promise unrealistic results and/or quick fixes. They can resort to eating a single food for days or choose foods that promise fat-burning properties. They follow the latest diet from the last issue of a tabloid from the supermarket. They may lose weight initially for a while, reach a plateau and give up to pursue another ill-fated attempt.  Dieting in itself can promote weight gain since with each attempt, your body adjusts to prevent weight loss.  The following article gives a more common sense and realistic approach.

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What is a Healthy Diet? An Update

The following post is an excellent source for links to the discussion of healthy diets.  It is a brief summary of what nutrition science “knows” at the present time.

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For the complete discussion found in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (March, 2017), click HERE. It is a long article; however, it provides a lot of details on the latest recommendations about “healthy” diets and the research behind them. It can be read as a PDF.


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The Low Processed Food Diet?

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When one looks at the diets of the world, we find that some stand out as part of a healthy lifestyle more than others.  Although these are simply observations of populations or cultures with a history of longevity and low rates of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancers, there are lessons to be learned.  There is merit in looking at these traditional ways of eating that often get lost in the mire of diet advice.  However, they seem  to have one common characteristic – there is hardly any that includes the consumption of highly processed foods.  I know, all foods are processed to an extent, but what we’re talking about here is what they should be called- ultra-processed foods defined as: “Formulations of several ingredients which, besides salt, sugar, oils, and fats, include food substances not used in culinary preparations, in particular, flavors, colors, sweeteners, emulsifiers and other additives used to imitate sensorial qualities of unprocessed or minimally processed foods and their culinary preparations or to disguise undesirable qualities of the final product.” More than half of all the calories consumed in the Standard American Diet (SAD) is provided by these foods.

So the bottom line for heath:  To borrow  from Michael Pollan’s famous advice: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”, we can just simply say: “Eat real food, not too much, mostly unprocessed or minimally processed.

CLICK HERE.