Saturday, October 25, 2014

Apple Cider Vinegar and Health

By Joy Manning

Apple Cider Vinegar and Weight Loss


Have you heard that apple cider vinegar will help you lose weight
The only study to test the idea in people was done in Japan. In the study, 175obese but healthy people took either vinegar or water daily for 12 weeks. Theirdiets were similar. They kept food journals. At the end of the study, those who used vinegar had lost slightly more weight. On average, the vinegar group lost 1-2 pounds over the 3-month period. They gained it all back after the study was over.
The researchers suggest that vinegar may turn on certain genes involved in breaking down fats.
The effect is probably very subtle, says Chicago dietitian Debbie Davis, RD. “It may have some benefits in terms of weight loss and weight management, but it is definitely not a quick fix." 
If you want to lose weight, you’ll still need to exercise and practice portion control.

Apple Cider Vinegar and Blood Sugar

While apple cider vinegar probably won’t make you skinny, it does appear to help with diabetes and blood sugar control.
Carol Johnston, PhD, directs Arizona State University’s nutrition program. She has been studying apple cider vinegar for more than 10 years and believes its effects on blood sugar are similar to certain medications.
“Apple cider vinegar’s anti-glycemic effect is very well documented,” Johnston says.
She explains that the vinegar blocks some of the digestion of starch. “It doesn’t block the starch 100%, but it definitely prevents at least some of that starch from being digested and raising your blood sugar,” Johnston says.
Not every expert feels as confident about apple cider vinegar’s power.
"Trying to use vinegar to treat diabetes is like trying to bail out a flooded basement with a teaspoon," says Michael Dansinger, MD, director of Tufts University’s diabetes lifestyle coaching program.
He advises patients to focus instead on their overall diets -- a strategy backed by a lot more research, he says.
If you have gastroparesis, a common problem with diabetes that slows stomachemptying, be careful. Early research shows apple cider vinegar may make this problem worse.
"I’m concerned that drinking vinegar, even diluted in water, increases acid in your system, which puts a strain on your kidneys and bones,” Dansinger says.
If you have diabetes and want to try apple cider vinegar, let your doctor know, and keep an eye on your blood sugar levels.
Johnston stresses that if you are on medication for diabetes, you shouldn’t stop taking it and substitute vinegar. If you're thinking about using it to help manage your blood sugar, talk to your doctor first.

Friday, October 24, 2014

11 Tips to Cut Your Cholesterol Fast

Got high cholesterol? Learn what you can do to lower it quickly -- starting today.
By David Freeman

How's your cholesterol? If you think that the normal reading you got back in 2004 (or earlier) means you're in the clear, think again: Levels of the artery-clogging substance often rise with age, and cardiologists say everyone 20 or older should be screened for high cholesterol at least once every five years, with more frequent screenings for anyone deemed to be at high risk for heart disease. If it's been awhile since your last cholesterol screening, now's a good time to ask your doctor if you're due for one.
The good news? If your fasting total cholesterol level exceeds the desirable level of 200, or if your low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad”) cholesterol is not at your goal, getting it down to a safer level could be easier than you think. In fact, with simple lifestyle modifications -- and, if necessary, medicine -- people often see significant reductions in cholesterol within six weeks. 
Here are 11 tips from WebMD health experts on how to cut high cholesterol fast:

1. Set a target.

You know you've got to get your cholesterol number down, but how low do you need to go? That depends on several factors, including your personal and family history of heart disease, as well as whether you have cardiovascular risk factors, such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking.
If your risk is deemed high, "most doctors will treat for a target LDL of less than 70," says James Beckerman, MD, a cardiologist in private practice in Portland, Oregon. If your risk is moderate, a target LDL of under 130 is generally OK, Beckerman says. If your risk is low, less than 160 is a reasonable target. "The trend now is to treat people earlier, especially if they have two or more risk factors," he says.

2. Consider medication.

Lifestyle modifications make sense for anyone with elevated cholesterol. But if your cardiovascular risk is high, you may also need to take a cholesterol-lowering drug. Michael Richman, MD, medical director of the Center for Cholesterol Management in Los Angeles, calls drug therapy "the only thing that will work fast" to lower high cholesterol. "Everyone should do the basics, like stopping smoking and losing weight," Richman tells WebMD. "But these things lower the risk only modestly. They're nothing to write home about."
Beckerman agrees. "Lifestyle modifications are important, but we should also be emphasizing the benefits of medication when appropriate," he says.
Several types of cholesterol-lowering medication are available, including niacin, bile acid resins, and fibrates. But statins are the treatment of choice for most individuals. "Statins can lower LDL cholesterol by 20% to 50%" says Pamela Peeke, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

3. Get moving.

In addition to lowering LDL "bad" cholesterol, regular physical activity can raise HDL "good" cholesterol by up to 10%. The benefits come even with moderate exercise, such as brisk walking.
Robert Harrington, MD, professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C., urges his patients to go for a 45-minute walk after supper.
Peeke tells WebMD, "I ask people to get a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps a day. If you work at a desk, get up and walk around for five minutes every hour."
Whatever form your exercise takes, the key is to do it with regularity. "Some experts recommend seven days a week, although I think five days is more realistic," Richman says.

4. Avoid saturated fat.

Doctors used to think that the key to lowering high cholesterol was to cut back on eggs and other cholesterol-rich foods. But now it's clear that dietary cholesterol isn't the main culprit. "Eggs don't do all that much [to raise cholesterol]," Beckerman says. "You don't want to be throwing down six eggs a day, but recent data suggest that it's really saturated fat" that causes increases in cholesterol. And if you cooked your eggs in a slab of butter, don't overlook the fat in the butter.                                            
"One of the first things to do when you're trying to lower your cholesterol level is to take saturated fat down a few notches," says Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, the author of several nutrition books, including the forthcoming Tell Me What to Eat If I Have Heart Disease. "The second thing to do is to start eating more 'smart' fats," Magee says. She recommends substituting canola oil or olive oil for vegetable oil, butter, stick margarine, lard, or shortening while cutting back on meat and eating more fish.

5. Eat more fiber.

Fruits and vegetables, including whole grains, are good sources not only of heart-healthy antioxidants but also cholesterol-lowering dietary fiber. Soluble fiber, in particular, can help lower cholesterol. Beckerman says it "acts like a sponge to absorb cholesterol" in the digestive tract. Good sources of soluble fiber include dried beans, oats, and barley, as well as fiber products containing psyllium.

6. Go fish.

Fish and fish oil are chockablock with cholesterol-lowering omega-3 fatty acids. "Fish oil supplements can have a profound effect on cholesterol and triglycerides," Beckerman says. "There's a lot of scientific evidence to support their use." Fish oil is considered to be quite safe, but check with your doctor first if you are taking an anti-clotting medication.
Magee recommends eating fish two or three times a week. "Salmon is great, as it has lots of omega-3s," she says. But even canned tuna has omega-3s, and it's more consumer-friendly. The American Heart Association also recommends fish as the preferable source of omega-3s, but fish oil capsule supplements can be considered after consultation with your physician. Plant sources of omega-3s include soybeans, canola, flaxseeds, walnuts, and their oils, but they don't provide the same omega-3s as fish. The  biggest heart benefits have been linked to omega-3s found in fish.

7. Drink up.

Moderate consumption of alcohol can raise levels of HDL "good" cholesterol by as much as 10%. Doctors say up to one drink a day makes sense for women, up to two a day for men. But given the risks of excessive drinking, the American Heart Association cautions against increasing your alcohol intake or starting to drink if you don't already.

8. Drink green.

Magee suggests green tea as a healthier alternative to sodas and sugary beverages. Indeed, research in both animals and humans has shown that green tea contains compounds that can help lower LDL cholesterol. In a small study conducted in Brazil, people who took capsules containing a green tea extract were able to reduce their total cholesterol.

9. Eat nuts.

Extensive research has demonstrated that regular consumption of nuts can bring modest reductions in cholesterol. Walnuts and almonds seem particularly beneficial. But nuts are high in calories, so limit yourself to a handful a day, experts say.

10. Switch spreads.

Recent years have seen the introduction of margarine-like spreads and other foods fortified with cholesterol-lowering plant compounds known as stanols.

11. Don't smoke.

Smoking lowers levels of HDL "good" cholesterol and is a major risk factor for heart disease.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

7 Most Effective Exercises

Does Your Workout Really Work?

Done right, these seven exercises give you results that you can see and feel. You can you do them at a gym or at home. Watch the form shown by the trainer in the pictures. Good technique is a must. If you're not active now, it's a good idea to check in with your doctor first.

1. Walking

Woman walking on a treadmill at the gym
Why it's a winner: You can walk anywhere, anytime. Use a treadmill or hit the streets. All you need is a good pair of shoes.
How to: If you're just starting to walk for fitness, begin with five to 10 minutes at a time. Add a few minutes to each walk until you get to at least 30 minutes per walk. Then, quicken your pace or add hills. 

2.Interval Training

Woman jogging on treadmill with speed interval
Why it's a winner: Interval training boosts your fitness levels and burns more calories to help you lose weight. The basic idea is to vary the intensity within your workout, instead of going at a steady pace.
How to: Whether you walk, run, dance, or do another cardio exercise, push up the pace for a minute or two. Then back off for 2 to 4 minutes. Exactly how long your interval should last depends on the length of your workout and how much recovery time you need. A trainer can fine-tune the pacing.. Repeat the intervals throughout your workout.

3.Squats

Trainer demonstrating proper form for squats
Why it's a winner: Squats work several muscle groups -- your quadriceps ("quads"), hamstrings, and gluteals ("glutes") -- at the same time.
How to: Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your back straight. Bend your knees and lower your rear as if you were sitting down in a chair. Keep your knees right over your ankles.  Add dumbbells once you can do at least 12 reps with good form.

4.Lunges

Trainer demonstrating proper form for lunges
Why it's a winner: Like squats, lunges work all the major muscles of your lower body. They can also improve your balance.
How to: Take a big step forward, keeping your back straight. Bend your front knee to about 90 degrees. Keep weight on your back toes and drop the back knee toward the floor. Don't let the back knee touch the floor.

5.Push-Ups

Trainer demonstrating push-up
Why it's a winner: Push-ups strengthen your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core muscles.
How to: Facing down, place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Place your toes on the floor. If that's too hard, start with your knees on the floor. Your body should make a straight line from shoulders to knees or feet. Keep your rear-end muscles and abs engaged. Bend your elbows to lower down until you almost touch the floor. Lift back up by pushing through your elbows, Keep your torso in a straight line throughout the move.

6. Crunches -- Method A

Trainer demonstrating proper form for crunches
Start by lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your head resting in your palms. Press your lower back down. Contract your abdominal muscles (abs) and in one smooth move, raise your head, then your neck, shoulders, and upper back off the floor. Tuck in your chin slightly. Lower back down and repeat.

7. Bent-Over Row

Trainer performing bent-over row with barbells
Why it's a winner: You work all the major muscles of your upper back, as well as your biceps.
How to: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees, and bend forward at the hips. Engage your abs without hunching your back. Hold weights beneath your shoulders, keeping your hands shoulder-width apart. Bend your elbows and lift both hands toward the sides of your body. Pause, then slowly lower your hands to the starting position. Can perform with a bar or dumbbells.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How Much Do I Need to Exercise for Weight Loss?

Do the math: You need to burn 3,500 calories to lose a pound. So if you're burning 300 calories in one workout, it will take you nearly 12 workouts to lose one pound. If you cut your calorie intake by 300 calories in addition to burning 300, it will take you half as long to lose a pound.
If you want to lose weight, shoot for at least 200 minutes (more than three hours) a week of moderate intensity exercise with everything else consistent, says Church. If you cut calories and exercise, he says, you can get away with a minimum dose of 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) a week.
If you're a beginner, says Gaesser, start with 50 minutes of exercise a week and work up to 200.
"You didn't put on that 20 pounds in the last six months; you're not going to take it off in six months," says Church.
"People don't want to hear about the patience aspect," he says. "They want instant gratification. But the cold, hard reality is if you want to lose weight and keep it off, it's work. No one loses weight and keeps it off without trying."
Here are eight tips to help you adhere to a weight loss workout and meet your goals.
  1. Have an exercise buddy or partner. This is a must, according to the experts who spoke with WebMD. Having accountability to someone else, even if it's your Labrador, keeps you honest. "It's much easier to say no to yourself than to someone else," says Gaesser, who goes for bike rides regularly with friends.
  2. Schedule your workouts. Keep a calendar that lists specific times for your workouts, says Gaesser. Make an appointment with exercise ahead of time, and you won't have the excuse of running out of time.
  3. Weigh yourself daily. This is one of the best tools to see if you're slipping up, Church says. Weighing yourself daily can keep you on track so that you don't let 300 extra calories a day or one missed workout set you back.
  4. Don't do too much, too fast. Don't get over-motivated, warns Quist. Lifting weights that are too heavy or starting out with six days a week of aerobic exercise is a mistake, says Quist. "People end up hurting themselves in the first week and then they give up," he says.
  5. Log your steps. Logging the time that you work out will help you achieve your weekly goal, even if you get off track one day, Church says. It will also inspire you at the end of the week, when you can look back and see what you've accomplished.
  6. Cook more often. Portions, and calories, are out of control when you eat out, says Church. You'll almost always consume fewer calories in a meal cooked and eaten at home. Save restaurants for special occasions, and get together with friends for a walk instead of a meal.
  7. Don't turn water into wine. Not only does a glass of wine or beer add a couple hundred extra calories, after a few glasses, you're not as conscious of consuming more calories in your meal. You don't have to give up drinking, says Church, but do cut back.
  8. Beware the one-way valve. You walk past the hors d'oeuvres at a party, grab some cheese and crackers, and quickly consume 300 calories before dinner even starts. "We have no problem randomly over-consuming extreme amounts of calories," says Church, "but we never randomly, sporadically have extreme bouts of caloric expenditure."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Exercise to Lose Weight

What kind of exercise -- and how much -- is best when you're trying to lose weight?

By 

If someone told you right now what the absolute best exercise to lose weight was, would you do it? You might when you read this. Drum roll, please!
The best exercise to lose weight is: "the exercise you'll do," says Timothy Church, MD, MPH, PhD, a professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La.
                             woman power walking
Other experts interviewed by WebMD said much the same thing about weight loss workouts.
"The two things that stop people from losing weight with exercise are either boredom or injury," says physical therapist and strength and conditioning specialist Ben Quist, PhD, NSCA.
The truth is that weight loss is about creating a calorie deficit -- in other words, burning more calories than you take in. So, they say, whilerunning at an 8-minute-mile pace might be a great calorie burner, if you're not going to do it, it's not going to help you. Instead, start with something you can do, like walking or working out on an elliptical machine or exercise bike.

The Beef on Strength Training

In all cases, however, you'll burn more calories with cardio (aerobic) exercise than with strength or resistance training.
"Strength training itself will not lead to an appreciable amount of weight loss because it just doesn't burn enough calories," says Glenn Gaesser, PhD, FACSM, kinesiology professor and department head at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
But what about all that talk that more muscle mass equates to more calories burned, even when you're at rest?
"It's a myth. It's not going to happen," says Gaesser.
The only successful studies to show a significant calorie burn following a weight-lifting workout (afterburn) were done with serious lifters, working out for 60 to 90 minutes at a time and lifting as much as they could on every set.
In fact, Gaesser says, at best, gaining one pound of muscle will help you burn 5 to 10 extra calories a day. You could do that chewing gum.
That's not to say that strength training isn't important for the overall health of the body. But when it comes to burning the most calories, go for cardiovascular exercise. And vary the intensity, says Quist.
"Do aerobic base-building workouts," he says, where you alternate between moderate and higher intensity, either within the same workout or on alternate days.
Quist also recommends cross-training -- that is, doing a range of different activities during your workouts. Not only does this help you keep from getting bored, it's better for your body. Doing different activities recruits different muscle groups. You're also less likely to develop an injury, says Quist, since doing the same thing day after day creates wear patterns on your joints.
Get creative, says Gaesser, whose graduate students teach an entire class on novel ways to burn calories. For example, he says, if you're a golfer, ditch the cart and walk with your clubs. You'll do what you love -- and burn more calories.

Exercise Is Just One Piece of the Puzzle

Keep in mind that exercise is just one portion of a successful weight loss program, say experts.
"Eating and exercise are not separate issues," says Church. "They're intimately connected. Too many people think these large doses of exercise are an excuse to eat whatever you want."
Unfortunately, today food is everywhere. There are candy bars at Home Depot and cheesecakes at Barnes & Noble. Gaesser says his kids can't believe a gas station used to be just a place to get gas. And portions are out of control, says Church -- just look at the size of the plates at restaurants.
"It's so much easier not to eat calories than to burn them off," says Quist.
And keep in mind that the definition of successful weight loss is keepingthe weight off.
"It's not hard to lose weight," says Church. "Anyone can lose weight. What's hard is keeping it off. Those that combine both diet and exercise keep it off."
But what about metabolism? Many people who have struggled to lose weight believe they have unusually slow metabolisms.
Chances are, "you don't have a slow metabolism," says Church. "It is so rare that of all the metabolisms we've checked (and he does this daily), I can't remember one being legitimately slow."
The truth is, he says, "bigger people have a higher metabolism because they're bigger. Metabolism is how much mass you have. The more mass you have, the more energy you burn just sitting around."

Monday, October 20, 2014

Do You Need the Atkins Induction Phase?

"Beginning with Induction is your choice -- you can begin Atkins at any of the four phases. However, Induction will jump start your weight loss as you cut back significantly on carb consumption."
-- Atkins Web Site
In Dr. Robert C. Atkins' original books, he makes it clear that the Induction Phase is an essential part of the Atkins Nutritional Approach (also known as The Atkins Diet). Now, Atkins materials are making statements such as the one above, indicating that the Induction Phase is not absolutely necessary. Is this because Induction seems to draw a lot of criticism from anti low-carb health professionals and other critics? I don't know, but I do have some thoughts on the whole question of Atkins Induction.

The Positive Side of Atkins Induction

This phase is meant to kick start the diet by forcing the body to convert from using carbohydrates for energy to using fat. It also tends to cause a large amount of weight loss. Untold numbers of people have found this to be helpful in starting them onto a new low-carb way of eating, and I am not going to be one to question their experience. Anything that helps people make a healthy change to healthy eating is wonderful in my book.

The Negative Side of Atkins Induction

On the other hand, it's clear to me that Induction isn't for everyone. My heart sinks every time I hear someone say that they tried Atkins but quit because it was "too hard." I think, "there goes someone else who could have been helped by cutting carbs but was turned off by an approach that is very restrictive." The fact is that most people don't need to cut carbs this much to get the benefits, and there is nothing wrong with starting the Atkins Diet at a higher carb level, as the quote at the top of this page attests.
Further, I think that the way Induction is described in some of the books is even more restrictive, and even confusing, than need be. For example, the books usually restrict vegetables to three cups of salad, or two cups of salad and one cup of non-starchy vegetables. Without further explanation, this could be unnecessarily low in carbohydrates, as one cup of shredded lettuce contains about half a gram of net carbs. The new instructions on the Atkins website say to get 12 to 15 grams of net carbs from vegetables, which is much clearer

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Reducing the Embarrassment of Incontinence

Lifestyle changes can sometimes ease your urinary incontinence, or loss of bladder control. For example, many doctors suggest cutting certain foods and drinks from your diet. But everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. The best way to find out what foods trigger your symptoms is to tackle one item at a time.
Here are six changes you can make right now.

Watch the Water

“If you don’t drink enough water, you can get dehydrated,” says Jennifer Anger, MD, MPH, assistant professor of urology at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine. “But if you have incontinence and drink [a lot], that could also pose difficulties.”
“Drinking the often-recommended six to eight glasses of water a day could be a problem,” Anger says. 
On the flip side, if you drink too little water, your urine can become concentrated and may irritate your bladder. This makes you feel like you have to go.
Anger says to ask your doctor what would be a safe amount for you to drink.

Go Easy on Alcohol

“Alcohol has a direct effect on the bladder,” says Amy Rosenman, MD, assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine. It lowers your control over the organ and acts a bit as a diuretic -- meaning you need to go more often.
“It interferes with the neurological signals from the brain to the bladder [telling it when to hold urine and when to go]. If you have alcohol on board, there is less control over that signaling, and you are more likely to have an accident,” Rosenman says.
Most people decide to cut alcohol out completely, Rosenman says, but others can handle a small amount. It’s best to stop altogether, then add it back little by little, so you know how much is too much for you.

Cut Back on Caffeine

Caffeine is found in soft drinks, teas, chocolate, and even -- in small amounts -- decaf coffee. Not only does it make you feel like you have to go, but it also prompts your body to get rid of liquids. Your best bet: Remove caffeine from your diet if you can, and reduce it if you can’t go cold turkey.
Still crave that cup of joe? Have your coffee in the morning instead of at night. Don't drink any coffee past 7 p.m., Anger says. And limit yourself to one or two caffeinated beverages per day.

Cool It on Spicy Foods

If you have an overactive bladder, avoid eating spicy foods like Mexican, Chinese, chili peppers, chili, and horseradish. 
Spicy foods irritate the lining of your bladder just like caffeine does, says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, a doctor and registered dietitian.

Avoid Acid

Citrus foods and juices -- like orange and pineapple -- have acid that can bother your bladder and make you feel like you have to go. Tomatoes are also full of acid. Cranberry juice is known for clearing up bladder infections, but it doesn’t help with overactive bladders, Rosenman says. Plus, cranberries, too, are acidic.

Can Carbonated Drinks

Even if carbonated drinks don’t have caffeine, they may not be a good choice for you, Rosenman says. “The carbon dioxide in the drink can irritate a sensitive bladder, causing you to have the urge to go.”

Other Concerns

Diet isn’t the only thing that worsens overactive bladder symptoms and some incontinence. Other causes include weight gain, diabetes, pregnancy, constipation, aging, and certain cancers. Talk to your doctor about what’s going on, even if you feel embarrassed. You have to start the conversation so you can get treatment.
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