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Are Vegetarian Diets Adequate?

Appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful and nutritionally adequate.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has published its newest position statement on vegetarian diets. It states well-planned vegetarian diets are "appropriate, and they satisfy the nutrient needs and promote normal growth at all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy and lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes." This statement clearly discusses needed nutrition considerations, health benefits, and environmental issues.

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Saturated Fats Again Linked to CHD

It is still better to replace SFAs with healthier choices.

Frank Hu, MD, MPH, PhD from Harvard University published his third paper this year linking saturated fats (SFA) to increased coronary heart disease (CHD) risk. In analyzing 24-28 years of follow-up data in two large prospective studies a strong correlation with all the major saturated fatty acids and CHD was found. The authors calculated that by replacing 1% of daily energy from SFA with polyunsaturated fats from whole grains and plant proteins would lead to a 6-8% reduction in CHD risk. 

PositiveTip: Evidence remains strong for choosing a plant-based diet!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

This holiday don't increase your waste and waist.

With thanksgiving to the Harvard Nutrition Source, here are 6 tips to make your holiday waistline friendly:

  1. Start with a salad to fill you up.
  2. Squeeze in some extra steps.
  3. Offer yourself and guests refreshing infused water.
  4. Serve yourself small portions and don't try everything.
  5. Cook fewer dishes--and make sure they are wholesome.
  6. Serve fruit instead of the standard high calorie fare.

PositiveTip: Here is a novel idea: Show your guests this very short video before you sit down to celebrate

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Timing of Meals Linked to Fatty Liver

What you eat, how much you eat, and WHEN you eat it may be important.

In a plenary session at the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, James Esteban, MD presented evidence for the value of regularity in eating times and distributing caloric intake throughout the day. The research team found the chances of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver was significantly reduced by not skipping morning and midday meals, eating more daily calories in the morning, and avoiding meals between midnight and 4:00 AM.

PositiveTip: Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and supper like a pauper. It makes sense!

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Homeopathic Claims Now Being Regulated

FTC to clamp down on the advertising of bogus homeopathic treatments.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is now requiring the makers of homeopathic "drugs" present reliable scientific evidence of efficacy in order to sell them in the U.S. market. This will be difficult since homeopathy is a pseudoscience. The most exhaustive review of the evidence for homeopathy was done by the Australian government where they concluded it is junk science and the treatments do not work.

PositiveTip: Buyer beware! Avoid products fo which there is no evidence to support the health claims.

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Sleep Deprivation Associated with Excess Weight

Short sleep duration linked to increased body mass index (weight)!

Increasing evidence demonstrates inadequate sleep may significantly influence obesity rates. Researchers with the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study found participants with short sleep (less than 8 hours per night) experienced changes in the appetite regulatory hormones. Leptin (tends to suppress appetite) levels were reduced and ghrelin (tends to increase appetite) levels were increased. Chronic sleep restriction combined with an abundance of food availability contributes to excess body weight.

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Surgeon General Report on Addiction in America

Only one in 10 people with substance abuse disorders receive treatment.

Almost 21 million Americans struggle with substance use disorders. Close to the same number have diabetes, and it exceeds the combined number of those with all cancers. Alcohol accounts for 88,000 deaths in the U.S. annually.  This and much more is contained in the first-ever U.S. Surgeon General's report, Facing Addiction in America

PositiveTip: Community leaders, churches, public health agencies and the healthcare system need to partner together for the well-being of the population.

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How Best to Control Portion Size

Spare the foods that pack a lot of calories in one bite!

A trial of 186 overweight or obese women were randomly assigned to one of three groups: standard advice to eat less, another was taught to choose portions based on energy density, and the other received portion controlled meals. The  last group lost the most at first, but at the end of a year all lost about 10 pounds. Those focusing on types of food did better than those trying to resist larger portions.

PositiveTip: Eat more veggies, fruit, legumes, whole grains--they are lower in calories without sugar and fats.

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Healthy Lifestyle Offsets Genetic Risk

A healthy lifestyle can mitigate a high genetic risk for CAD.

Both genetic and lifestyle factors contribute to an individual's risk for coronary artery disease (CAD). In an analysis of three prospective cohort studies, researchers found those with the highest genetic risk experienced a 91% higher risk for CAD. However, if they followed 3 or more healthy lifestyle habits their risk dropped by 46% compared with those who had 1 or fewer healthy lifestyle habits! The 4 healthy lifestyle habits were not smoking, no obesity, regular physical activity, and a wholesome diet.

PositiveTip: A healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce inherited cardiac risk.

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CVD Risk and Calcium Intake

Dietary and supplemental calcium intake below 2500 mg daily OK.

Inconsistent evidence has suggested there might be an association between calcium supplementation and increased risk for cardiovascular disease. A multi-center, meta-analysis of 4 randomized trials and 27 observational studies has found moderate-quality evidence suggesting that calcium intake (with or without Vitamin D) from food or supplements does not raise the risk of CVD in healthy adults.

PositiveTip: Dietary sources of calcium are preferred over supplemental calcium, and every person needs an adequate intake. Are you getting enough?