Popular Diet Plans : Pros and Cons

There are no shortage of books and websites devoted to eating healthier. Keep in mind that the experts say that a healthy eating plan is one that includes a wide variety of foods from all of the food groups. This is how you get that good for you balance of carbs, protein and fat, plus essential vitamins, minerals and fiber too. It sounds simple, but clearly it isn’t… you can’t eat healthy if the foods lack flavor, the plan is hard to follow or the diet just costs more than you can spend.

The good news is that Consumer Reports conducted a review of the pros and cons of five very popular eating plans and laid everything out for you. Here’s the scoop:

1: DASH incorporates fresh foods and limits fat, sodium and sugar. It’s known to be good for your heart, and is loaded with veggies, fruit, whole grains and no fat or low fat dairy along with lean protein. As you might expect, saturated fat is restricted, as are added sugars and salt. This diet is plenty nutritious, meeting the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Pros: DASH is backed by ample, solid research that shows it can bring down blood pressure, and LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. Things still taste good.

Cons: DASH portions need to be very carefully monitored, and keeping to that under 1,500 milligrams a day of sodium can be tough for some.

2: Mediterranean includes good for you meals eaten with family, friends… and wine. A good way to see if a food would be allowed under a Mediterranean meal plan is to ask if your great grandmother would recognize the item. If she would, then it’s likely on the plan. This means fresh fruit, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, healthy fats (from canola or olive oil) and seafood at least twice per week. Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt are eaten in moderation and both sweets and red meat no more than a few times each month.

Pros: The Mediterranean diet is also research backed, and has been found to cut the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers.

Cons: You need to work out your own Mediterranean menu, and what you’ll do to stay active. This plan is a lifestyle more than a diet plan.

3: Paleo is considered a meat lovers dream, meaning that if cave people didn’t eat it, you can’t either. You can have lean meat, fish, seafood, fruit and non-starchy veggies. You stay away from cereal grains, legumes, dairy and processed foods. In truth, proceed here with caution say the experts.

Pros: The plan is low in salt and sugar, and the emphasis is on fruit and veggies, so you easily meet your goals for dietary fiber.

Cons: Getting the recommended amount of some nutrients is hard, and anyone following this plan runs the risk of nutrient deficiencies as whole food groups are eliminated.

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Popular Diet Plans : Pros and Cons Continued…

4: Vegetarian diets are plant based and the term is often used to describe any plan that doesn’t allow meat, chicken or seafood. The good news is that if you’re serious about adopting this way of eating, a well-planned diet can have just as many health benefits as any other eating plan.

Pros: Studies, including one appearing this past June, have found that following a vegetarian diet can help bring down cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Cons: Menu options are limited when you eat out, and meeting your recommended daily allowance of some vitamins can be tricky. You might bulk up on the many starches you can eat.

5: Volumetrics is based on the feelings of satiety (fullness) you get at the end of a meal, and how this impacts hunger and eating behavior. The staples of this plan are water rich foods (broth soups, fruit, veggies, whole grains, low fat dairy, lean meats, fish) to fill you up and do so with fewer calories.

Pros: This eating pattern is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Meals are filling and nothing is forbidden.

Cons: If you don’t like to cook, meal preparation under this plan can take some time and effort.

To your good health,

Osteoporosis : Nutrition Guidance

Here’s a great example of how nutrients can benefit the body, keep it strong and healthy. If you aren’t giving your body the right amount of calcium and vitamin D, through the foods you eat or supplements you take, you’re raising your risk of osteoporosis. Science knows that vitamin D and calcium supplements help cut the risk of broken hips in older folks who are considered frail. Calcium is a building block for strong bones; while vitamin D helps the bones absorb the essential calcium. You need them both.

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, best absorbed from exposure to natural sunlight. The dangers of the sun have gotten us all slathering on sunscreen or staying in the shade, which means we get less vitamin D the way nature intended. Getting beneficial nutrients in their natural state is always best, because foods or drinks are the most complete source of nutrients in the right amounts and combined to work best with the body.

These foods outperform supplements…

-
Fortified foods like cereals and orange juices

-
Leafy green veggies like spinach and broccoli

Beyond the sun, vitamin D isn’t one of those nutrients readily available in the average diet. The few natural sources are…

-
Salmon, tuna fish and sardines

-
Fortified orange juices/cereals

What’s more, eating and drinking are activities that happen every day of our lives, and aren’t likely to be forgotten like a pill can be. Milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy are natural sources that bring you lots of calcium and other important nutrients for healthy bones, things like phosphorus and protein,

If your doctor has told you that you need vitamin supplements, taking them is a smart move, a great way to keep your bones healthy and to fight debilitating osteoporosis. You’ll be directed to use either calcium citrate, calcium trisphosphate or calcium carbonate. Your bones don’t care which type you take, the only difference is how these calcium supplements are ingested. Calcium carbonate should be taken with meals, but the other two don’t need to be taken with food. Most of the calcium supplements out there also have vitamin D so you can get both bone essential nutrients in one pill.

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Osteoporosis : Nutrition Guidance Continued…

It’s important to know that your body can only absorb so much of anything at one time, and as we get older absorbing of nutrients isn’t as easy as it once was. Be sure to follow the directions on the label, or the instructions of your healthcare provider when it comes to dosing. More is not better. According to the NHS those who are at most risk of vitamin D deficiency are people who can’t get outside easily or stay covered up in the sun, those who are very frail or who have a poor diet, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Be sure to check the label of any supplement you do decide to take. They all have differing amounts of calcium and vitamin D per serving. If you ever switch brands, be sure you check out the amount of nutrients you’re getting per dose with the new product.

To your good health,

9 Myths And Facts About Your GI Tract

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t know a whole lot about your digestive process and the gastrointestinal tract that makes it all happen. Myths are often repeated as fact by people who seem to know what they’re talking about. It’s only when you start to have uncomfortable (embarrassing) digestive symptoms that you have to search out the truth so that you can help yourself feel better.

So let’s de-bunk 9 of the most common myths…

1: Digestion
happens in the stomach
. False, the biggest portion of the digestive process actually happens in the small intestine. The stomach takes in food, churns it and breaks it into smaller particles, unappealingly named chime. This is then released in batches to the small intestine where a good deal of the digestion and absorption of nutrients occurs. Foods don’t digest in the order you eat them – rather it’s all mixed together and sent along its way.

2: Cut your food intake, you’ll shrink your stomach. False. Once you reach adulthood, your stomach is pretty much the same size, unless you have surgery to shrink it. Eating less will not shrink your stomach. Eating less will help you reset your appetite thermostat so you may not feel as hungry and it’s easier to stick to healthy eating goals, resist snacking.

3: Thin people have naturally smaller stomachs. False. It might seem hard to imagine, but the size of the stomach is not related to weight or dieting. You can be naturally thin and have the same size (or larger) stomach than those who fight the battle of the bulge for a lifetime.

4: Exercise cuts the size of your belly. It doesn’t. Exercising does not reduce one area of fat alone, though it does help burn fat all over the body. It’ll also help tighten the abdominal muscles so that you’ll look leaner.

In truth, the most dangerous part of fat is the kind you can’t see, the fat in the omentum, a sort of sheet that lies over and all around your internal organs. If you’re really overweight you probably have a lot of fat over and around your organs. The danger with so much weight lies in that the liver can be so packed with fat that a form of hepatitis can develop.

Luckily making changes to a more healthy way of eating can really help in shedding the weight you see, and the stuff you don’t.

5: Foods
with insoluble fiber cause less gas and bloating
. False. Gas and bloating actually come from intestinal organisms that are needed to digest soluble fiber. What you may have thought to be an easier form of fiber (soluble) can actually cause more gas and bloating than insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber isn’t digested, thus no involvement with intestinal organisms – so no embarrassing gas or uncomfortable bloat.

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9 Myths And Facts About Your GI Tract Continued…

6: Ease acid reflux symptoms by losing weight. True. Losing just a bit of fat in the abdominal area makes a difference in your symptoms. Less fat means less push against internal organs, less heartburn, a bit of relief. Since most people lose weight in the tummy area first, you’ll see some change in your symptoms in just a few weeks after you start trying to lose weight.

7: Eating before bed makes you gain faster than if you ate the same
foods during the day
. False. Gaining weight comes down to taking in more calories than we burn, and weight gain isn’t based on the 24-hour clock as we understand it. There isn’t any science that says eating at a specific time can influence weight gain all by itself.

But you should know that eating before bed, especially if you’re stressed, can make digestion more difficult. You might experience gas, bloating and painful heartburn. Later in the day, the digestive system, like the rest of us, is tired, so it contracts less, moving food through the system more slowly.

8: A
200-calorie snack of peanut butter and crackers is better able to control your
appetite than eating a 200-calorie serving of crackers
. True. Fats digest more slowly than carbs, and they stay in the stomach longer which leaves us naturally feeling fuller, longer after eating a snack that has a bit of fat. By contrast, simple carbs give you a quick increase in blood sugar, but can have you dropping just as fast.

9: Beans cause everyone to make gas, and there’s nothing you can
do
. True. Beans are naturally loaded with a kind of sugar that needs a certain enzyme to digest. Some of us have more of it, some less and the less you have the more gas will be made during your digestion of beans. Over the counter gas remedies or charcoal tablets can help if you take them before you dig in.

To your good health,

For Bone Health, Increase Your Level Of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is often called the “sunshine” vitamin and is essential for keeping bones strong and healthy. Now it appears that doses closer to 1,000 IU a day may be needed to ease bone loss in postmenopausal women according to a new study out of the UK. In fact, bone loss over a 12 month period dropped significantly in women who got a daily dose of vitamin D in the 1,000 IU range, but there were no such improvements at the 400 IU dose, or for those taking placebos each day.

The latest recommended daily amount for vitamin D is 600 IUs for those 1-70 years old, as well as women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The daily recommendation goes to 800 IUs per day for those over 71 years old. A safe blood level of vitamin D is 20 nanograms per milliliter (abbreviated nmol/L), which is typically achieved through daily exposure to the sun. A blood level over 50 nanograms per milliliter may bring unpleasant side effects.

The most natural way to get vitamin D is to simply expose your bare skin to sunlight for about half the time it would take you to burn without sunscreen. If you can’t (or choose not to) do this, you can use supplements as this nutrient isn’t a natural part of many foods – it’s pretty much impossible to get the amount your body needs just from what you eat. Supplements are a smart choice and they come in many forms; soft gels, capsules, tablets and even liquid in strengths from 50-100 international units (IU for short).

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Bone Health, Increase Your Level Of Vitamin D Continued…

.
The research on vitamin D levels was led by a team from Scotland’s University
of Aberdeen, and appears to support the Institute of Medicine’s choice to up
the recommended daily allowance for vitamin D from 400 IUs to 600 IUs for those
from one to 70 years old. But, the new work appears to agree with a 2007 editorial
by some respected researchers in the area that contends the best level of vitamin
D in the blood was at least 75 (nanograms per milliliter) nmol/L. To get levels
from 50 to 80 nmol/L, the daily dose of vitamin D is in the 1,700 IUs per day
range.

The UK researchers recruited just over 300 postmenopausal white women who were from 60 to 70 years old to participate in their double blind placebo controlled study. The subjects were randomly assigned to get daily vitamin D supplements at either a dose of 400 IU or 1,000 IU or be given a placebo for one year. Data from the 265 subjects who finished the study showed that over the year the concentrations of vitamin D in the blood increased by an average of 31.6 nmol/L for the 400 IU group, 42.6 nmol/L for the 1,000 IU group. The placebo group had vitamin D levels drop to 4.1 nmol/L.

What’s more the loss of bone mineral density at the hip was tiny for the 1,000 IU taking group but for the others at the lower dose or placebo the losses were larger. There were no big changes in bone metabolism observed as part of the research.

The work appears in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

To your good health,

Good Omega-3s With Organic Milk

As you pour your next glass of milk, think about this. U.S. researchers, in the first large, nationwide study in this area, have found that organic milk has far higher concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids, known to be good for your heart, than does milk that comes from conventionally tended dairy cows. The team was led by Washington State University scientist Charles Benbrook and saw that on average the organic milk had lower levels of omega-6 fatty acids while also having higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids than did regular milk.

Having a high ratio of moega-6s to omega-3s has been associated with troublesome health problems like autoimmune disease, heart disease and cancer. But over the last century, our intake of omega-6 has risen dramatically, while omega-3 intake has fallen.

To be considered organic, cows producing milk for the USDA National Organic Program must take in at least 30% of their dry matter each day from pasture grasses and legumes, both naturally high in omega-3. Cows that provide milk to non-organic diaries eat diets of mostly corn, and this vegetable is naturally high in omega-6s and low in omega-3s.

The organic variety of milk used for the work had an average of 62% more omega-3 fatty acids than did regular milk. It also has 25% fewer of the more dangerous omega-6 type. The findings show us where we are today and how we might improve the fatty acid composition of milk and other dairy products.

The team, led by research professor Charles Benbrook from the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University, examined 378 samples of both organic and conventionally tended milk that came from 14 processors located all across the U.S. over a period of 18 months. The regular milk was found to have an average ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 of 5.8. The average ratio for the organic samples was a far lower 2.3.

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Good Omega-3s With Organic Milk Continued…

The recent work, published in the journal PLOS One, confirms earlier research that found milk from cows eating an organic diet have less linoleic acid and other omega-6 fatty acids and more alpha linoleic acid, conjugated linoleic acid and the long chain omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid compared to cows that don’t have access to pasture.

The current study findings on the nutrient content of organic milk runs counter to work last year from Stanford that found little evidence that organic food might be better for us. Clearly the debate will go on, and experts continue to disagree on if omega-3s are better for you than omega-6 fatty acids.

An industry shift to organic milk production could bring better health for everyone, especially pregnant women, infants, young children and anyone with a high heart disease risk. The benefits would be best for those who avoid foods that have high levels of linoleic acid and increase the intake of dairy that’s more organic.

If we all did so, not only would we be taking in products that are better for us, but we’d also be supporting a very earth friendly form of agriculture that helps to ensure the health and future productivity of both the animals and the land.

To your good health,

80% Of Antioxidants Lost With Chilled Fruits

Here’s important news on fruits, nutrients and preparation. While we know that heat destroys most of the antioxidant in berries, it appears freeze-drying may actually preserve nutrient value. Strawberries that were freeze dried were found to keep all their vitamin C and polyphenols as well as 92% of their antioxidants, preserving more beneficial nutrients than when chilled according to research conducted at the UK’s Sheffield Hallam University with Hull, UK based fruit maker Chaucer Foods. Besides strawberries, the work also used freeze-dried limes, oranges, blackcurrants, broccoli and red bell peppers.

When a fruit is refrigerated, the temperature variations from its original state impact the antioxidant potential. When it’s freeze-dried, a process that often takes place soon after harvesting, nutrients in fruits and veggies are preserved using a combination of dehydration and cold. After being frozen, the water is removed by cutting the pressure so that the frozen water moves right from a solid to a vapor.

The research project measured levels of vitamin C, total antioxidant capacity (TAC) and total phenolic content (TPC) in fresh, chilled and freeze dried strawberries. TPC is a measure of polyphenols, the substances that have health benefits we’re all talking about that are a natural part of tea, wine, fruits and veggies. The biggest group of polyphenols is called flavonoids and they also contribute to the quality and feel in your mouth of foods.

The process of freeze-drying had no impact on the nutrient content of the berries, but the refrigerated fruit saw large losses. This shows the benefits of freeze drying for both fruits and veggies. In the fruit that was chilled for seven days the total phenolic content was cut by 82% from fresh, vitamin C was down 19% and 23% of total antioxidant capacity was lost as well.
.

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80% Of Antioxidants Lost, With Chilled Fruits Continued…

Another study also supports freeze-drying. A team from Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center looked at the effect of freeze dried black raspberries on genes that were altered by a chemical carcinogen intended to mimic esophageal cancer. In just a week, some of the genes were restored to normal action in animals that ate freeze-dried black raspberry powder as part of their regular diet. It appears that freeze-drying berries concentrates the beneficial substances naturally a part of them about ten times, making them nutrient powerhouse.

We know that fruits, most especially the berries, are loaded with antioxidants that are so incredibly good for your body. The dried versions of these fruits are smaller, but they still contain antioxidants and some people enjoy the taste or texture of these foods. If you do choose dried fruits, be sure to check the label for added sugar, and keep the portion small.

More work will need to be done before we’ll know if freeze-drying beats chilled fruits and vegetables. Future studies will look at the nutrient retention of freeze-dried foods compared to those that have been dried using another method. Research into the impact of packaging and storage on nutrients is also planned.

To your good health,

Low Levels Of Vitamin B12 And Fracture Risk

While the news is often full of stories about women and bone health, this time we’re focusing on men and their bones. Most of our bones are surprisingly strong, able to stand up to hard impacts or forces without breaking – it’s only when the force is too strong, or there’s something wrong with the bone that a fracture happens. New research finds that low blood levels of B12 might just be linked to a higher risk of fractures in older men. An extensive study that appears in Osteoporosis International is part of a worldwide research project started by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The research includes 11,000 men in all.

In one portion of the project, a Swedish team examined 1,000 men who were of an average age of 75. They used a number of different methods to analyze the blood concentrations of a specific B vitamin, B12 as well as folate both found naturally in the foods we eat. B12 in meat, shellfish, milk, cheese and eggs and most people who eat a normal diet aren’t likely to become deficient in the nutrient unless the body can’t absorb B12 from food. Strict vegetarians are most at risk of not having enough and may need supplements.

Catharina Lewerin of the University of Gothenburg led this portion of the study, and reports the risk of a break six years out from the study start was higher for men who had low B12 levels than for men who had normal B12 levels. The team used a new method (holotranscobalamin is the scientific term) that measures the amount of vitamin in the cells of the body, a far more accurate way to diagnose B12 deficiency.

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Low Levels Of Vitamin B12 And Fracture Risk Continued…

During the study follow up, 110 men had a fracture verified by X ray, this number includes 45 who had clinical vertebral breaks. Risk of a break was raised for every standard deviation drop in cobalamins and holoTC. In fact, in the bottom quarter of men with the lowest B12 in the blood, the risk of breaks was raised by almost 70% when compared to others. The risk was especially great for fractures that happened in the lumbar region, the increase was an astonishing 120%.

The higher risk of fractures remained even after accounting for other facts that contribute to risk. Things like age, smoking status, BMI, bone mineral density, earlier fractures, activity level, the D-vitamin content in the blood and the amount of calcium subjects consumed.

So, can older men prevent fractures by taking in more B12? Though not an established fact now, research to confirm this idea is already being done. This includes a large Dutch study where older people over 65 are being treated with vitamin B12, folic acid and vitamin D to see if these substances impact the risk of fractures in this population.

If you are healthy and eating right, there’s no reason for you to take in more B12. But for those who have confirmed deficiencies (or at risk for deficiency) it might be a smart idea to get more B12 by eating foods rich in this nutrient (meat, shellfish, milk, cheese, eggs). If you are concerned about bone health, or think your B12 might be on the low side, talk with your doctor about supplements. And as always, stay informed and be your own advocate.

To your good health,

The Veg With Many Health Benefits

Carrots are considered one of the best foods you can eat, healthy, crunchy and naturally tasty. Purple, yellow, red and white carrots were cultivated long before the now popular orange variety that didn’t come to be grown until the 16th and 17th centuries. Today, carrots are worth an estimated $300 million a year to growers in the United States, with more than half grown in California. A medium carrot or a half cup of chopped carrots is what’s considered a standard serving, providing 25 calories, 6 grams of carbs, 3 grams of sugars and 1 gram of protein.

Carrots bring you a full 30% of the vitamin A in the U.S. diet, while also being a source of vitamin C, calcium and iron, as well as the antioxidant beta-carotene, which is responsible for the wonderful orange color. The human body converts beta-carotene in to vitamin A, taking only as much as it needs. This vitamin is essential for healthy skin and mucus membranes, strong immunity and healthy eyes. A carrot is also a natural source of fiber, vitamin K, potassium, folate, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, vitamin E and zinc.

The idea of carrots being good for your eyes traces it’s roots to Word War II and the British Royal Air Force ad campaign that said the secret to the sharp vision of fighter pilots was that they ate carrots. The idea took root and is still widely repeated today, though the benefits to the body of eating carrots go way beyond healthy eyes. Experts now understand that unless you have a vitamin A deficiency, eating carrots will not result in any positive changes in vision.

There is an amazing amount of evidence that carrots help regulate blood sugar, delay aging and help boost the functioning of your immune system. Cancers of the lung and colon, prostate, or the blood cancer leukemia as well as cardiovascular disease are just some of the diseases that might also be prevented by eating antioxidant rich fruits and veggies, including carrots.

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The Veg With Many Health Benefits Continued…

So how do you get more carrots into your diet? You can eat them raw, steamed
(both offer the most in terms of nutrient punch), boiled, roasted and as a part
of recipes for soups or stews. Carrot sticks and baby carrots are a delicious,
healthy snack and are great with dips and hummus. They are a popular choice to
juice because of their sweet, pleasing flavor.

Carrots are available fresh, frozen, canned or pickled, and can be found in the market year round, as well as at farm stands in either the spring and fall.

To store carrots, place them in a sealed plastic bag, removing the greens that may still be attached. Peel and wash them before eating or cooking. Shredded carrots can be used in coleslaw or in a salad or wrap, because of their sweet flavor they work great as a part of baked goods like as cakes and muffins.

Overconsumption of vitamin A, the chief nutrient in carrots, can be toxic to people, but it’s unlikely to be achieved by just eating carrots. Supplements are typically the source of such problems and should never be taken in higher than recommended doses. If you eat too many carrots, your skin may have a slight orange tinge, but there is no other harm done to the body.

To your good health,

Things To Know About Irritable Bowel Syndrome

For those who’ve been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS for short) you know first hand how uncomfortable and disruptive the symptoms of this condition can be. Luckily there are steps you can take to help yourself feel better and get back to doing the things you like to do. And though it doesn’t feel like it, experts are sure that your painful symptoms are not doing any permanent damage to your digestive tract.

Here are some of the most common triggers for flares of irritable bowel syndrome…

-
Eating while you work or drive

-
Eating too fast

-
Chewing gum

-
Not exercising enough

By addressing these common triggers you can help ease your uncomfortable symptoms. Taking time to enjoy what you eat, and be sure to get enough exercise (30 minutes each day) are both proven strategies that will help you feel better.

Triggers and symptoms that come in reaction can vary based on the type of irritable bowel syndrome you have. Some foods are known to make IBS related constipation worse, things like refined breads/cereals, refined crisps/biscuits, coffee, fizzy drinks, alcohol and high protein diets. While the pain and discomfort might have you feeling like you can’t eat a thing, it’s important to try and eat a variety of good for you foods. What you can do to ease symptoms is to gradually up the amount of fiber you’re getting each day, drink eight glasses of water and try some ground flaxseed that can be sprinkled on salads or cooked veggies.

If you have IBS with diarrhea you’ll probably be so uncomfortable and edgy that eating isn’t your top priority. You need to pay attention to the foods you eat, watching that your diet doesn’t include too much fiber (insoluble like in the skin of fruits/veggies), foods/drinks that have chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, fructose or sorbitol, fizzy drinks, over large meals, fried/fatty foods, food/drinks with dairy and foods with wheat as sometimes this symptom can signal an intolerance or allergy to gluten rather than IBS.

To help yourself, eat a moderate amount of soluble fiber (whole wheat breads, oats, barley, brown rice, pasta, dried fruits and the flesh of fruit). Try not to eat things served at extreme temperatures like ice cold or steaming hot in the same meal. Cut out foods like broccoli, onions and cabbage if they make your symptoms worse. Eating smaller portions, drinking six to eight glasses of water a day, an hour before meals when possible, will also be helpful.

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Things To Know About Irritable Bowel Syndrome Continued…

There are also medications known to trigger IBS symptoms or spasms of the colon. Prolonged use of antibiotics, antidepressants or medications with sorbitol (cough syrup) have also been known to cause problems. If this happens to you, talk with your doctor about a change in medications that won’t make your symptoms worse but will still be beneficial. Sometimes antidepressants are a problem, but this is more likely with older drugs known as tricyclic antidepressants.

Research as also found that women who have IBS tend to have worse symptoms during their period. Oral contraceptives can help. Premenstrual dysphonic disorder (PMDD) medications can also cause problems, so work closely with your doctor to find the solution that’s best for you. Beyond food and medications, stress and anxiety can also be triggers for I BS. These stressors can come from work, home, commuting, school, financial issues or a sense that things in your life are out of your control.

One of the most important things for IBS is to work with your healthcare team to be sure your symptoms are irritable bowel syndrome and not something else.

To your good health,

If You Are Diabetic Protect Your Heart

Diabetics take note – heart disease is a serious threat to your life. If you have diabetes, or even higher than normal blood sugar readings, you need to be aware of the potential risk to your heart according to endocrinologist Leann Olansky, MD from the Cleveland Clinic. If your only heart health risk factor is type 2 diabetes, the chances of you experiencing heart failure are two fold for men, three (or even four) fold for women based on research conducted at UC Davis and appearing online in the journal Nature. Those are some serious numbers. Numbers that should get your attention.

Doctors know that heat disease is fairly common in the general population, but the risk is four times bigger for those with diabetes, with estimates from the American Heart Association having at least 65% of those diagnosed with diabetes dying from heart disease or stroke. This is why this area is of such keen interest to researchers.

So although the link between diabetes and heart failure is no surprise to experts, the reasons for the connection have remained a mystery, until now. The team from UC Davis Health Systems conducted detailed molecular experiments in both rat and human proteins and tissues and uncovered a biological pathway that’s activated when blood sugar levels are at a moderate to high level. This interaction brings on irregular heartbeats (known as cardiac arrhythmia) that have been associated with heart failure and sudden death due to cardiac events.

Researchers are hopeful that this discovery might lead to new treatments for diabetic cardiovascular disease. There may also be therapies to deal with glucose toxicity in other tissues, like the retina, the nervous system and kidneys.

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If You Are Diabetic Protect Your Heart Continued…

In the meantime, Dr. Olansky cautions not to focus solely on elevated blood sugar, as this is only one part of the heart disease link. Watching your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers (high triglycerides and low HDL, good cholesterol) is also important, as these can be markers for metabolic syndrome. High blood pressure is especially dangerous in terms of higher risk of heart attack.

The key for diabetics is to work with your doctor to keep your glucose (and other) numbers in the target range for you. Much of this depends on how well you are taking care of yourself, following a diet suited to your diabetes. A heart healthy diet is usually a good choice for diabetes too, so limit the foods you know are loaded with unhealthy fats and cholesterol, limit solid fats and processed meat, sweets and other foods. Choose instead lean proteins, fish, fresh fruits and veggies, low fat (or non fat) dairy and unsaturated fats.

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, often a precursor to full blown diabetes, the news may be just the wake up call you needed – a chance to take control of your health before a condition like diabetes strikes. Diet, regular exercise and taking any medications your doctor prescribes are all key to reversing course and getting your body back to a healthy state, and in the safe zone in terms of heart attack risk.

To your good health,