Is The Obesity Gene A Reality?

When it comes to obesity, both genetics and environment are thought to play their parts. A new study appearing in the journal Nature suggests that a genetic mutation may give rise to a obesity gene that could be the reason some people are at higher risk of becoming obese when they eat the all too typical western high fat diet.

Study co author Gozoh Tsujimoto, a professor in the department of genomic drug discovery science at Japan’s Kyoto University is hopeful that testing for this mutation could become more readily available, and those who have it could be warned away from high fat foods or perhaps treated with yet-to-be-developed medications.

We know that obesity happens when you consistently take in more calories than you burn each day. The right balance of calories in/calories out is different for everyone – some things that impact this balance include your genetics, overeating or eating lots of high fat foods and not exercising on a regular basis.

If you’re not sure where you stand in terms of your weight, a visit to the scale is in order. There are online body mass index calculators you can use to give you that all-important BMI number.

If your BMI is higher than it should be, you’re at higher risk of diabetes, stroke, heart disease, arthritis and even some pretty dangerous cancers. Carrying that extra weight also makes it harder to move about… keeps you feeling sluggish and uncomfortable.

In this latest work on genetics and obesity, the team examined a part of the body’s communication system that regulates appetite and the production of fat cells. They found that mice who did not have the component were 10% fatter than other mice were when both groups were fed the same high fat diet. These mice also had a higher intolerance to glucose.

Taking things one step further, the team saw that Europeans who had the genetic mutation, called GPR120, were more often obese than those who didn’t. Tsujimoto believes that this study is the first one to show the gene responsible for diet-induced obesity. He believes that over 3% of Europeans have the mutation and is planning to study how many in the Japanese Chinese and Korean populations have it as well.

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Gene Mutation Might Make It Easier For Some To Gain Weight… Continued…

There is a test to detect the mutation, costing almost $200 available currently only in Japan. There are no current medications to reverse the effects of the mutation.

As we’ve said here before, research on animals doesn’t always work out to something useful for people. Much more study in this area is needed before we’ll know anything for sure. Most experts agree that genetics is only part of the puzzle when it comes to obesity, but given that this study had consistent findings in the mice and people, the genetic mutation idea does have a firmer footing. Also researchers have a new and potentially exciting area to investigate, working to understand both the physiology and biology of obesity.

Today two thirds of the U.S. population is either overweight or obese. Our modern world offers an abundance of calorie-laden foods and drinks, not to mention few opportunities to be active. Still, the thing to understand is that genetic changes take far longer than the few decades any of these factors have been around. Experts believe that genes do play a part in whether we become obese, including the so-called obesity gene, but it may simply be because they help to regulate how our bodies naturally capture, store and use energy.

Swap To Diet Drinks To Lose Weight

Watching your weight? It’s smart to pay attention to what you choose to drink. New research finds that those who drank water or diet drinks to lose weight instead of more calorie laden beverages (sports drinks, coffee drinks, regular sodas) lost 4-5 pounds over a six-month period.

The research, known as CHOICE, or Choosing Healthy Options Consciously Everyday, appears in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and is the first controlled trial to employ no calorie drink substitution as a weight loss strategy for overweight or obese adults.

Figures from the beverage industry suggest that 10.4 billion gallons of sugar-laden drinks are produced per year – enough to give every single American a 12 ounce can of soda every day of the year. And while nutritionists agree that a sugared beverage is fine as a treat once in a while, they point out that most of us drink far more than is good for us.

The average can of soda or fruit drink has 150 calories, most coming from high fructose corn syrup – the equal of about ten teaspoons of regular table sugar. If you drank just one can of these drinks a day, and didn’t cut back on calories in other areas of your diet, you’d gain up to 15 pounds in a year.

The research on switching from sugar laden drinks involved 318 overweight or obese subjects that were broken into three groups – those who switched to water from high calorie drinks, those who switched to diet soda and those who made no changes in what they drank but were given information. All subjects went to monthly group meetings and had access to a website specifically dedicated to the group during the entire study period.

During the six months of the study, all three of the groups had a small drop in weight and waist measurements, but those who were drinking the calorie free drinks were two times more likely to lose 5% of more of their body weight.

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Swapping Out Soft Drinks Linked To Modest Weight Loss… Continued…

What’s more, the researchers found that those who drank mostly water had lower fasting blood sugar levels and better hydration. This is important because percentage of weight loss and lower blood sugar are associated with improvements in the risk factors for obesity as well as other chronic diseases. Done on a larger scale, this might impact the growing epidemic of obesity.

Study author Deborah Tate, Ph.D., an associate professor of nutrition and health behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health says that people who like the sweet taste, carbonation or caffeine in regular soda or other drinks will likely do best with a change to diet varieties over changing to water. Water however does bring some important health benefits – besides hydration it may also help improve blood sugar levels.

And while the weight lost using diet drinks to lose weight was less than more intensive, clinic based lifestyle changes, making this single change is easy to stick with, and brings results to boot. Changing what you drink on a regular basis is a small, do-able change that’s easier to maintain over the long haul. Tale points out that this approach only works if you don’t make up the lost calories in some other way i.e. eating more calorie dense foods.

12 Natural Tips To Stay Awake

When energy flags, many of us rely on tried and tested tips to stay awake – reaching for an energy drink or cup of strong coffee when fatigue starts to invade our waking hours. The trouble is, using caffeine to hold of sleepiness begins a vicious cycle… that jolt can take up to 8 hours to wear off which can reduce the time you spend sleeping, change the natural stages of sleep and even impact the quality of the sleep you manage to get. Waking tired and dragging fuels the need for caffeine.

Can you combat fatigue without caffeine? You bet! Here are a dozen great, all natural tips that are sure to keep you up and functioning at your best.

1. Get up and move around - a well-publicized study conducted by a professor at California State University, Long Beach examined if subjects were more energized by eating a candy bar or taking a brisk walk for ten minutes. The candy gave a quick boost, but participants ended up being more tired an hour later. The walkers got an energy boost for two hours, because exercising like this causes oxygen to pump through your veins, brain and muscles.

2. Take a short nap - so long as you only take one, and you don’t take it too close (more than 6-7 hours) to your normal bedtime, a 5 to 25 minute nap can do wonders for your flagging energy. Even resting quietly, with your eyes closed for ten minutes can be enough.

3. Rest your eyes - looking at a screen for hours on end can cause eyestrain and make you sleepier. Your best bet is to look away from the screen for a few minutes every so often to rest your eyes and fight eyestrain.

4. Eat a healthy snack – while sweet snacks give you a quick energy boost, followed by a crash, a healthy snack will bring you longer lasting energy. Try peanut butter on a whole wheat cracker or celery, yogurt with a few nuts or a piece of fruit, baby carrots with a low fat dip are all good choices.

5. Start an engaging conversation – as this will wake up your mind. Talk to someone about business, or another engaging topic, as this is a strong behavioral stimulator, especially if the topic is one you’re particularly passionate about.

6. Turn up the lights - places with dim lighting make feelings of fatigue more pronounced, while studies have found that exposure to bright light can cut sleepiness and improve alertness.

7. Do breathing exercises - that is practice deep breathing, as this raises the oxygen levels in your blood, slows you heart rate, lowers blood pressure and improves your circulation. Ultimately this helps your energy level and mental performance. You need to inhale to the abdomen (not the chest), breathing deeply though your nose and so that the breath pushes your belly out, not your chest. Breathe out though pursed lips (as though you were whistling) and repeat the exercise ten times.

8. If driving, pull over – if you operate a motor vehicle when sleepy, you are just as dangerous as if you were driving under the influence of alcohol. Opening the windows or turning up the radio doesn’t work for long, so your best bet is to let someone else drive, or pull over and nap until you don’t feel so tired. Also on long drives, stop every two hours to take a walk, stretch and get some fresh air.

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The “secret” to losing belly fat…

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-> Losing fat is a slow & steady process

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12 All Natural Ways To Fight Fatigue… Continued…

9. Avoid monotonous tasks – Finnish researchers who studied those working 12-hour night shifts found that monotonous work is just as harmful to alertness as not getting enough sleep. Try to reserve your most stimulating tasks for times when you’re tired, or switch to something more engaging if you feel yourself flagging.

10. Drink plenty of water – dehydration can cause fatigue, so you need to be sure you’re drinking lots of fluids or eating foods (fruits and veggies) that are naturally full of water.

11. Get out in daylight - the circadian rhythms, the natural regulators of our sleep-wake cycle are impacted by daylight, so you should try to spend at least 30 minutes each day outside in natural light. Even just a few minutes outside in the fresh air will restore your energy, revive your senses.

12. Exercise regularly - a study by University of Georgia researchers saw that exercise was more effective in improving energy and eliminating daytime fatigue than drugs used to treat sleep issues. Regular exercise also improves the quality of your nighttime sleep. Try for 30 minutes a day, but be sure to finish your workout a few hours before bed, so you’re not still energized as you try to fall off to sleep.

If you’re finding that you can’t stop nodding off when you should be alert and the tips to stay awake aren’t working, talk to a doctor or a sleep specialist. Your symptoms could be a sign of a sleep disorder that will not improve unless you take steps to help yourself.

Gluten Sensitivity Symptoms – Hype Or Reality?

Is gluten a miscast villain in the diet world? Perhaps. A new analysis raises the question about gluten sensitivity symptoms and challenges the benefits of a gluten free diet for most people who have not been carefully and properly diagnosed with celiac disease.

Despite what you might see on the labels of all manner of foods in the grocery store, or hear from enthusiastic celebrity spokespeople, gluten free is not the right choice for everyone. An estimate from pediatric gastroenterologist Alessio Fasano, MD who runs the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland, has from 5% to 6% of us, some 18 million Americans, having some level of sensitivity to gluten.

Let’s start with the basics; gluten is a protein that’s a natural part of wheat, rye and barley used to make beer, bread, pasta and lots of processed foods.

For about 1% of us eating glutens brings on a condition known as celiac disease that damages the wall of the small intestine so that the body is unable to absorb nutrients from food. The disease is properly diagnosed by tests on blood and bowel, but there is no widely accepted test to diagnose gluten sensitivity.

Symptoms that have been attributed to gluten sensitivity include some of the same ones attributed to celiac disease – diarrhea, cramping of the abdomen, bloating, headache, fatigue and possibly attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But until there’s a test that identifies gluten sensitivity, diagnosing this condition will remain a challenge.

In an essay appearing in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers who specialize in celiac disease, Antonio Di Sabatino, MD, and Gino Roberto Corazza, MD from the University of Parvia in Italy discuss what we know about gluten sensitivity and delivered common sense recommendations about the much hyped gluten free eating. They suggest that the discomforts that accompany eating foods with gluten happen because these foods are believed to cause a problem. This is known to science as the nocebo effect, if you presume the worst health wise, that’s just what you’ll get.

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Straight Talk On Going Gluten-Free… Continued…

Many symptoms attributed to gluten might really be sensitivity to other parts of wheat flour or another ingredient in wheat based foods. And then, a gluten free diet is not bad for you, and will help even if you have other wheat allergies. That’s what food makers are counting on, and why you see so much gluten bashing on labels.

Of course gluten free diets (and products) aren’t going anywhere. The truth is, there are many, many people who are truly suffering with terribly troubling symptoms that do improve when they follow this eating plan.

The danger of misdiagnosing gluten sensitivity symptoms, according to president of the North American Society for the Study of Celiac Disease, Stefano Guandalini, MD, is that going gluten-free when you don’t need to deprives your body of fiber and gives it too much fat. Close monitoring of what you eat is important, as we know that for those who live with properly diagnosed celiac disease eating gluten-free eases the discomfort of symptoms and restores the digestive system to health.

Fructose In Foods To Blame For Obesity?

We may want to blame fructose in foods for all those pounds we’re carrying, but a new review of the literature suggests we not be so quick to cast the blame on one thing and one thing alone.

The review, appearing in the Annals of Internal Medicine, finds that extra calories, not some unique property of fructose itself, are more likely to blame for us all being overweight or obese. Other experts agree, obesity and being overweight are the result of physiological, psychological and environmental factors – blaming one food is shortsighted.

The review looked at studies of two types – one type isolating fructose intake and examining its impact on weight; the other 10 involved adding calories to a subjects’ diet.

A full 31 of the projects involved participants being divided into two groups, each ate the same calories; but one ate fructose while the other consumed a different carb. This helped the researchers isolate fructose to see its effects on changes in body weight. There were no changes.

The remaining ten studies that were a part of the review involved adding calories; with half the subjects eating their usual diet while the others added fructose to what they ate. The fructose adders did gain weight, but no more than you might expect from the amount of added calories, not because of what the calories were.

Energy (Calories) appears to be most important; fructose did not have an effect on weight.

Researcher John Sievenpiper, MD, PhD. of Canada’s McMaster University believes that fructose is not the source of metabolic evil we all have been taught to think. It may well be like any other carb. But since many of the studies the team used in the review had shortcomings (length of time, methodology), they are unlikely a representative sample of the real world.

The work is likely to stir controversy because higher fructose (particularly high fructose corn syrup) intakes have been targeted as a leading contributor to obesity. The review authors feel that the controversy has taken the focus away from over eating, and these findings also suggest that fructose is as much responsible for that as any energy dense substance would be. It all comes down to total intake of calories.

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Is Fructose To Blame For Increases In Obesity..? Continued…

Other experts agree – when it comes to weight loss, total calories should be your focus, not just avoiding one type of sugar. Fructose from natural sources (fruits and veggies) is never a problem and keeps you from consuming more than you should. Remember too that calories in fluid form (sports drinks, lemonade, ice tea, regular soda) don’t satisfy hunger as well as foods do, and can encourage overindulgence.

When it comes to weight loss, experts recommend that you keep your total carb intake to no more than half of your daily calories, and be sure most of the carbs you do eat come from fiber rich foods like whole grains and veggies rather than processed foods and whole sugars. Reading labels is a smart way to limit how much added fructose in foods you take in. Avoid any product that has an ingredient ending in “ose” as one of the first three items on the label.

Benefits Of Exercise On The Heart

We all know regular exercise is good for the body… now new research appearing in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology finds benefits of exercise on the heart could help hold off heart disease even if you’re carrying more weight than you should be.

Fitness level may, in fact, be more important than the number on the scale. No one is saying that being careful about weight gain isn’t still important to keeping your heart healthy, but so is keeping fit according to study author Duck-chui Lee who is a research fellow at the University of South Carolina.

Doctors have said for years that being heavy and inactive has a profound impact on your heart disease risk factors. This latest study is the first to look at how a change in your fitness level, your weight, or both impacts the development of disease risk factors later on. The study authors allowed for fitness level and weight to be adjusted for each other – something not accounted for in many studies.

The research involved following 3,148 healthy adult subjects who were already enrolled in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study who were given three extensive medical exams between the years 1979 to 2006 conducted at the Cooper Clinic located in Dallas.

The team looked for any of three heart health risk factors – high blood pressure, high cholesterol or metabolic syndrome (a group of symptoms that up your risk for diabetes and heart disease).

The fitness level of the study subjects was measured using a treadmill test; weight was assessed using body mass index (BMI) and skin fold testing.

By the end of the study, 752 subjects had been diagnosed with high blood pressure, 426 met the criteria for metabolic syndrome and another 597 had high cholesterol numbers.

Those who either maintained (or improved) their fitness level over time had a reduced risk of having any of the three risk factors. Those who kept their fitness level the same had a 24% lower risk of hypertension, a 38% lower risk of metabolic syndrome and a 25% less chance of having high cholesterol. Those who had improved their fitness levels saw the same gains, or more.

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Even If You’re Overweight, Exercise Is Good For Your Heart… Continued…

Subjects who had gained weight were more likely to develop one of the risk factors than those who lost fat. Adding fat put men and women at a 24% higher risk of high blood pressure, 52% higher risk of metabolic syndrome and 41% higher risk of high cholesterol.

For those who maintained or improved their fitness, they were able to modify, but not eliminate, the higher risk of the extra fat. Dropping fat appeared to offset part of the higher risk of not being as fit as you once were.

The best scenario is to lose the weight and become more fit. This brings the lowest risk of all three potential troublemakers. Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a Lenox Hill Hospital cardiologist and spokesperson for the American Heart Association agrees that if you’re going to be overweight you’d best be fit. If you can’t pay attention to both healthy lifestyle choices – at least pick one.

And remember, making physical activity fun (rather than a dreaded chore) goes a long way toward having you doing it more often, and seeing the many benefits of exercise on the heart.

Links Between Sunshine And Health

There are lots of statistics on stroke, but here’s one that will get your attention – every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. has a stroke. A pair of studies on sunshine and health presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2012 offer some fascinating insights into the risk of stroke. More than half of those who have a stroke are able to recover and live as they did before, the remainder are left unable to take care of themselves, making stroke a leading cause of serious, lasting disability.

The first study presented examines the link between sunlight and stroke, and was conducted by Leslie McClure, PhD, of the University of Alabama who had seen work showing a strong link between cognitive impairment and stroke and wondered about the impact of sunlight on stroke.

While we’ve come to believe sunlight is bad for us because of skin cancer risk, sunlight may also offer some positive benefits.

The University of Alabama study included over 16,000 adults already taking part in a long-term research project examining racial and geographical differences in risk of stroke.

The subjects completed detailed questionnaires on where they’d lived during their lifetime as well as undergoing physical exams and had no history of stroke or heart disease.

Participants were contacted once every six months to check on their health, and over the 5-year study, 351 of them had a stroke.

Next the data was analyzed by a bit of software developed by NASA that accounts for clouds, smog and other things to figure out the sunlight exposure at a particular longitude and latitude. In short, the software calculated how much monthly sun exposure study participants had based on where they lived.

When all the data was analyzed, and other factors that can affect stroke risk also accounted for, the greater the sun exposure had been, the lower risk of stroke. And those who lived in locations with less than average sun exposure had a 60% higher risk of stroke.

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Intriguing Information On Sunshine And A Lower Stroke Risk… Continued…

McClure is making an observation, and can’t be sure about the reason for the relationship. But she points out, we do know that exposure to the sun is our most natural way to get helpful vitamin D. The “sunshine” vitamin has been associated in other studies with heart and blood vessel health – but there’s no evidence that vitamin D (natural or in supplement form) prevents strokes or heart attacks.

A second study, led by Suzanne Judd, PhD, also from the University of Alabama, found a link between vitamin D and the brain. Over 30,000 subjects were broken into three groups based on their vitamin D (diet and supplements) intake.

Those who had the highest intakes were 13% less likely to have a stroke, 25% less likely to suffer cognitive impairment than those who had the lowest intakes. Here too, the team accounted for other risk factors when examining the data, but still found that eating plenty of vitamin D rich salmon, tuna, eggs and fortified foods may offer protection against stroke and memory loss.

While both studies on sunshine and health were presented at a medical conference and should be considered preliminary until further review, they do suggest that more attention and investigation be put into what connection exists between sunlight, vitamin D and stroke.

Lower Blood Pressure With Food By Eating Purple Potatoes

Here’s an unexpected suggestion to lower blood pressure with food… two servings of purple potatoes a day.

When subjects in recent research conducted by Joe Vinson, a chemistry professor at the University of Scranton included two servings of these regal, richly colored potatoes in their diet for a month, they not only brought down their blood pressure, but they didn’t gain any weight. The research appears online in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

In fact, the royally colored spud has many of the same beneficial plant pigments as purple fruits do – rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins, carotenoids and phenolic acids that may bring down chronic inflammation associated with both stroke and heart disease. These potatoes also have high levels of chlorogenic acid, a substance that animal research has shown to bring down high blood pressure.

For the research, the team kept track of 18 middle aged adults, half asked to eat the skin and flesh of 6-8 small Purple Majesty potatoes at both the midday and evening meals for four weeks; the other half didn’t eat the veggie.

During the second four-week period, the groups switched – purple potato eaters not eating them, and the non-eaters adding them to both mid-day and evening meals.

The potatoes were microwaved and eaten with their skin on.

Those who ate the purple potatoes had a drop, on average, of just over 3% in systolic (top number, while the heat beats) and just about 4% in diastolic pressure (bottom number, while the heart rests).

A total of 14 of the participants in the study were diagnosed with high blood pressure, and continued to take medication for it during the research. The good news is that even a small drop in a blood pressure reading can reduce the odds of dangerous heart disease.

And though the subjects eating potatoes did take in more calories, their weight didn’t go up. This is good news considering several of the study participants were obese or overweight.

White potatoes are a popular vegetable, with the average American eating the equal of one medium sized potato per day. These veggies are a great source of potassium and vitamin C, and eating the skin gives you more fiber as well. The fat and calorie content goes up when you take this veggie and mash it, fry it or serve it au gratin or topped with lots of sour cream and butter… as you might expect.

Experts don’t know if the white variety of potatoes, with fewer plant pigments and antioxidants, would do the same for blood pressure as the less popular purple variety does. More work will be needed; still Vinson feels that this is some evidence that purple potatoes may bring some benefit.

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These Purple Vegetables May Lower Your Blood Pressure… Continued…

Estimates from the American Heart Association have one in three U.S. adults with high blood pressure, many undiagnosed. Normal blood pressure is any reading below 120/80. Readings between 120/80 and 139/89 are considered pre hypertension, and a reading of 140/90 or over puts you in the high blood pressure category.

Since high blood pressure has no outward symptoms, damage to your body can be happening without you even knowing, or feeling, a thing. Your first step therefore, if you don’t know your reading, is to find out.

If your numbers are higher than they should be, you run an increased risk not only for heart disease, but kidney disease, hardening of the arteries, damage to your eyes and debilitating stroke. Getting treatment right away, and making the lifestyle choices (eating a balanced diet to lower blood pressure with food and exercise) necessary to keep your body healthy are the best ways to ensure you don’t suffer any of these unwelcome complications. Purple potatoes are optional.

Eating Functional Foods For Health

Eating functional foods for health is all the rage, and we’re hearing a lot about breads, snack bars, yogurt, juices and even eggs that include extra nutrients thought to be beneficial to the body. In a perfect world, you’d get these essential nutrients from a balanced diet that included whole foods like veggies, fruit, whole grains, fish and low-fat dairy, but in the real world the diet of most Americans falls far short in most of the important nutrients, and functional foods seem to be a way to get all that nutrition in a single, healthy package.

Let’s look at the nutrients in functions foods that might be beneficial…

Plant stanols and sterols – these substances are a natural part of fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds and chemically resemble cholesterol. But when they go through your digestive system, they get in the way of the real cholesterol and keep it from being absorbed into your bloodstream.

If you eat butter, margarine or oil based spreads, this nutrient will be a good addition to your diet. You should try to get two grams of plant stanols and sterols a day.

Vitamin D - is a nutrient that, together with calcium, keeps bones strong and the immune system working well. There’s research that suggests this vitamin might also help prevent some cancers, high blood pressure and even depression. The trouble is most of us don’t get nearly enough. Infants need 400 IU a day, kids between 1 and 16 need 800 IUs daily, adults 19 to 70 need 600 IUs and seniors should be getting 800 IUs of vitamin D a day.

With our diets, and indoor lifestyles (vitamin D is made naturally when we’re exposed to sunlight), it’s easy to see why we don’t get enough.

Calcium - is a mineral that helps build bones, transmit nerve impulses and keep your heart beating, though most of us don’t get enough according to the UDSA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. If your body doesn’t have the calcium it needs from foods, it may leach the mineral out of bones, which can bring on osteoporosis.

If you eat three servings of low-fat dairy each day, you’ll probably get the amount of calcium your body needs. But if you’re not a fan of dairy products, functional foods can make up the shortfall. One note, calcium from fortified foods might not be absorbed as well by the body as it is from dairy.

Babies need 210-270 mg of calcium, while kids under 8 need 500-800 mg. After 9 a child’s need for calcium jumps to 1,300 mg, while most adults should be getting 1,000 mg of calcium per day.

Fiber - is a non-digestible carbohydrate that’s naturally a part of plants and helps us feel full, keeps our bowels working properly and might even bring down the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Most people don’t get enough according to the UDSA guidelines. Women need 25 grams of fiber a day; men should get 38 grams a day.

While most of our fiber should come from whole foods like beans, veggies and whole grains, fiber added to bread or cereal can be a good option, though it’s not clear if this has the same benefits as if it came from the natural sources.

There are two types of fiber, soluble (in beans, nuts and grains) which slows digestion and insoluble (veggies and whole grains) that helps food pass through your body.

Continues below…


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Functional Foods Top 5 Nutrients… Continued…

Omega-3 fatty acids - include the DHA and EPA your body needs so that your brain works properly and nerves develop, while research suggests they might also be helpful in improving memory and your mood, while cutting the risk of heart disease. While they are naturally a part of fish like salmon, cod, tuna and sardines, and in smaller amounts in nuts and seeds.

Omega-3s are added to all kinds of functional foods, from eggs to cereal to soy, though the most commonly added one, ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) may not have the same benefits to health as DHA and EPA. Many functional foods just don’t have enough omega-3, so it might be a good idea to take supplements to increase your levels.

You’ll want to get 7 to 11 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per week and there are 2 grams in a 4-ounce serving of salmon.

Experts agree, that before you start stocking up on functional foods for health, you should remember that most of the nutrients you need should come from whole grains, low fat dairy, fish, lean meat, fruits and veggies – not functional foods. The combination of micronutrients that come from whole foods are still considered the best, healthiest way to keep yourself healthy. If you feel you need a boost, adding functional foods to an already balanced diet can’t hurt.

Caloried Burning Brown Fat Cells Fueled By Heart

Everyone knows that exercising helps you lose weight because the activity draws on fat stores that muscles use as fuel. Now it seems the heart might be involved in producing calorie burning brown fat cells.

You’ve probably heard something about brown fat, a type of fat that burns calories rather than storing them as extra weight. Adults naturally don’t have all that much brown fat in the body, but new research appearing online in the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggests that the hormones produced in the heart might help your body make more of this beneficial type of fat.

The hope is that effective treatments for weight loss can be developed by increasing how much brown fat a person has, or making your body burn more fat.

Up until recently only rodents and newborn babies were known to have significant stores of brown fat, it’s primary purpose being to regulate body temperature – brown fat cells burn sugar and release that energy as heat. As we age, the body is better at maintaining temperature and the brown fat stores shrink while white fat appears instead.

Study author Sheila Collins, PhD from Florida’s Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute has found that hormones called cardiac natriuretic peptides known to be involved in fluid regulation actually caused white, storing energy fat cells to turn into energy burning brown fat cells in mice. If this were to be found in humans as well, the heart hormone might become an effective weight loss treatment.

Collins and her colleagues have been studying how the adrenaline system in the body is involved in the storage of fat and weight loss. In the latest research they demonstrated that the heart hormones activate the very same fat burning process as the adrenaline pathway, and the two systems can work with each other.

When the researchers exposed the mice in their lab to cold, the creatures showed elevated levels of natriuretic peptides circulating in their systems, and this turned on the fat burning brown fat.

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Heart Hormone Linked To Calorie Burning Brown Fat… Continued…

A separate study in humans that was published in January 2012 suggests that cold rouses the calorie burning potential of the brown fat. In this bit of research, six volunteer subjects were put in a chilled room while scientists tested to measure their fat metabolism.

When they got cold, but not enough to shiver, the metabolic rate of the subjects went up by 80%, burning an added 250 calories over a three-hour period. This was caused by the brown fat burning ordinary fat.

David Katz, MD, the director of the Yale Prevention Research Center believes the hype around brown fat isn’t backed by science, and treatments using it may not be possible. If the brown fat can be stimulated and if it is effective when it comes to loosing weight are two very big ifs. Also, the chance that this would cause other, unintended consequences is great.

We’ve been down this road before according to Katz, and he feels the focus on finding a “quick fix” for weight loss takes attention away from the fact that we’re eating too much and exercising too little. Every time science has tried to work with the rather intricate, overlapping metabolic defenses of the body- trying to shut off our natural defenses – it hasn’t worked. Watch for further research on brown fat cells, and in the meantime, stick to the tried and true for weight loss -less calories, more exercise.