HOLIDAY WEIGHT GAIN
I walked into an exercise class the other day and the Instructor announced that
every year most Americans gain 13-15 lbs over the holiday season and end up
retaining 2 lbs of it every year. I thought to myself, “Is that
true?” Turns out, it’s not.
Believe it or not, most of us believe that
we gain more during the holidays than we actually do. In
an NIH study back a few years ago, it was determined that
fewer than 10% of those in the study gained 5lbs during the
holiday season. On average between Sept/Oct and Feb/March
they gained 1.05 lbs, .8lbs or a little more than half was
put on during the holidays. The problem is that this weight
is not lost during the rest of the year and the cycle starts
What is interesting is that the cumulative
weight gain over the holidays is a substantial cause of increased
body weight during adulthood.
Therefore, a clear strategy is to stabilize
your weight during the holidays and you are basically done
for the year! Obviously, we must be mindful for the
rest of the year but it appears that this can really work
to combat age related weight gain. I like this theory
as I think I can do this.... admittedly I love the carmel
popcorn that gets delivered every year in one of those big
tubs… but I think if I keep it to a few favorites
and make sure it disappears as quickly as possible by sharing,
I’m in good shape.
A COUPLE OF TID BITS
These are just two things I came across that I thought I'd
pass on - try to take your vitamins with food. There
is convinceing evidence that the body will better absorb
nutrients at the same time it is digesting other food.
Add rosemary to your burgers to cut down
on the heterocyclic amines (HCAs) in grilled hamburgers.
Studies have linked HCAs to various cancers (not conclusive)
and one scientist found that rosemary extract reduced two
of the HCA compounds when hamburgers were cooked at 375-400
degress. Two other HCA's were not reduced. Hey,
if you like rosemary, like I do - it could only help and
it's a great anti-oxidant besides.
BUY BUY MY LITTLE CUPCAKE
I’m going to make this short and sweet (pun intended) and give you the
411 as I’m running out of room on my newsletter. Remember when everyone
thought margarine was the way to go? This was because we were told to stay
away from animal fat (butter) and margarine is made from vegetable oil. The
problem now is that margarine is hydrogenated oil (a.k.a. trans-fat) which means
that it is an oil that is made into solid fat. They simply use hydrogen
atoms to convert it.
Well, to make a long story short, the body doesn’t know the difference
between butter and something that was turned into butter. Even worse than
saturated fats (animal fat) trans fats raise low-density lipoprotein
(LDL) or "bad" cholesterol levels – and lower the high density
liproprotein (HDL) or “good” cholesterol. Saturated fats do
raise LDL but they also raise the levels of HDL or good cholesterol. So
with trans fats, it’s a double wammy.
The result is a build up of fatty plaque
in the arteries resulting in heart disease. It is now believed
that high consumption of trans-fats can increase chances
of heart disease 50% and reducing trans-fat can decrease
the chance of diabetes by 40%. The real issue is that trans
fats are everywhere – just name it. 95% of cookies,
100% of crackers, 80% of frozen breakfast foods as well as
cereals, candies, baked goods, granola bars, chips, snack
foods, salad dressings, fats, fried foods. Of course,
anything with shortening which brings me back to cupcakes. Shortening
is what cupcakes are all about – it makes them light
an airy and yummy (the same goes for doughnuts). But like
I said – it’s over, except for my new child’s
birthday bashes. You’ll see me gobble one down.
THE NEW FOOD PYRAMID
is definitely a marked improvement and the web site
is actually quite good and useful. As a result, anyone eating as part of a federal program, like
school lunches, should be getting better nutrition soon. Unfortunately,
there are no regulatory measures curbing the sale of junk food in schools
or requiring calorie disclosures at fast-food restaurants – but let’ hope
this is a move that will gain momentum. The new website is www.mypyramid.gov and
it has some useful features like tips for incorporating more
fruit into the diet as well as a chart that constitutes what “a serving” is – comparing
it to servings we usually see in the grocery stores or in cafes and restaurants. It’s
still a triangle with stripes but instead of the old horizontal bars, it
now has vertical ones and a person hiking up the side to show the importance
of exercise. The real value and details are on the website. You
put in your age and sex and exercise amount and it gives you a calorie based
consumption diet that is broken down by food groups. Fruits and vegetables
get the most volume, reflecting what was discussed above. There
is also a push towards whole grains and limiting fats and sugars. Some
are complaining that the new pyramid will be too difficult to follow – it
does limit calories quite a bit. But the reality of the situation is that
we have been super-sizing for way too long and need to pay attention to what’s
on our plate. Take a look, see what you think.
THE LITTLE PINK PACKET
Here’s a joke for you that I got off the web… What’s the difference
between sugar and Sweet ‘n Low? Sugar is when you kiss her on the
mouth! I thought it was cute-- if a little risqué.
Saccharin is the granddaddy of artificial
sweeteners as it’s been around since1879. It
has no calories, and is 300 times sweeter than sugar. It
wasn’t too popular until the late ‘50’s
early ‘60’s when a New York entrepreneur combined
saccharin with another sweetner cyclamate and made it into
little packets for sanitary reasons. Combining it with
cyclamate reduced the “tin like” taste.
But in 1969, cyclamate was banned for
causing cancer in rats and researchers began to take a closer
look at saccharin. While conflicting tests showed it caused
cancer in some laboratory animals, the fact that at least
some of the research was financed by the sugar industry raised
credibility questions. In 1977, based on a study of 200 rats
in Canada, Canadians decided to ban saccharin in food and
beverages. Diabetics were allowed to buy it.
The FDA decided to follow suit and ban
the sweetner which resulted in a public outcry and the hoarding
of diet products. At this point, Americans were in love with
the pink packet and diet soda like Tab. Later that
year, Congress passed a law prohibiting the FDA from banning
saccharin (God bless America) – however, the pink
packet was to carry a warning label.
Depending on what you read, you’d
have to drink 750 cans of diet soda every day to cause an
increased risk of bladder tumors or it could be as low as
6 packets a day. It’s also been “determined” that
the cancer issue is both particular to rats or ingesting
very high quantities of the stuff.
In 2000, President Clinton signed legislation
that allowed saccharin to remove the warning label. So
what’s the general consensus now?
While it’s pretty well determined
that in high doses, saccharin does pose a small risk factor – in
its defense, by far, it has the most studies at over 3,000. The
fear from toxologists is that they don’t want children
to begin using it in high doses early on and then a small
risk may become a big risk later in life. In my humble
opinion, it seems to me that saccharin or Sweet ‘N
Low has the most honest information available and it’s
really not that bad. My gut says to keep them all the
artificial sweetners at a minimum.
My philosophy that bears no scientific basis what so ever,
is to switch them all around. I use Sweet ‘N
Low in my tea (I wish I could do without), Splenda on cereal
and Aspertene in the diet soda! I don’t have
a lot of these or anything, maybe it’s the equivalent
of 6 packets total of all of them per week (okay, maybe a
little more) but I’m still hoping that one day I don’t
IS SPLENDA SO SPLENDID?
I have to admit, when I first heard of it, I thought it was
a natural product. I
was at a Natural Product “Ingredient Show” about 3 years ago and
the Splenda people were there. I got the standard line from the person
in the booth, “It’s made from sugar” – and at a Natural
Food “ingredient show”, I assumed it was a natural product. They
had a big jar of gum balls and I thought they were great! (I had no use
professionally for this ingredient, so I wasn’t equipped to ask the “tough
questions”, but personally I was curious) I later found out that none of
the natural markets like Whole Foods or Wild Oats were carrying Splenda, so I
figured something was up. I haven’t seen them back at the show, (I
was looking for the gumballs!!), it may not have passed the muster for those
who do use this kind of ingredient – regardless, they’ve managed
to capture 50% of the artificial sweetner market. That’remarkable
considering the tough competition from NutaSweet. That’s what got
the press last month – their competitors are complaining about false advertising – that
they imply it’s a natural product. (it’s a Johnson & Johnson
product with a big ad budget) I fell for it…and we know I’m a genius…but
probably like most of us – I knew on some level that it sounded far fetched
that Splenda was “natural” -- but if was ½ natural that’s
better than what we got! Well, it’s a big ‘ol mix of chemicals
like the other ones – but is it safer at all?
If you read their web site, it is very
convincing. There’s no known side effect, not toxic,
no bioaccumulation, non-carcinogenic, no effects on fetal
or neonatal development, no calories or carbs. Splenda
is a compound called sucrolose, derived from sucrose or sugar. They
go on to explain that most ingested sucralose passes through
the digestive system unchanged without any gastrointestinal
side effects. The small amount that is consumed, it
is toxicologically insignificant and is rapidly excreted
in urine. The ingested sucralose is excreted unchanged
in the feces. It’s safe for people with diabetes
because it’s not recognized as a carbohydrate.
What they don’t tell you is how on
their website, is how it’s made, which is a little
suspicious that they don’t mention it. Basically,
what they do is replace hydroxyl groups in sugar or sucrose
with chlorine atoms. In the end, it really doesn’t
resemble sugar at all. Being derived from sugar doesn’t
mean it resembles sugar. There are a couple of things
that are “at issue” here. The first is that sucralose
is a cholorocarbon – and chlorocarbons are known toxic
chemicals. (DDT is a cholorocarbon, although Splenda people
relate it to salt) Of course the FDA has looked into
this and came to the conclusion that these particular chlorocarbons
are not absorbed by the body.
However, that goes to the next issue, which
is how much is really absorbed by the body. The FDA
says that 11% to 27% is absorbed in humans (which kind of
contradicts the first statement that it’s not absorbed),
the Japanese say as much as 40% is absorbed. The absorbed
sucralose has been found to concentrate in the liver, kidney
and gastroestinal tract. It is broken down into small
amounts of 1,6-dichlorofructose, a chemical that has not
been adequately tested in humans. Which leads us to
the final big issue that “nay sayers” have about
Splenda and that is that just about all of the tests have
been conducted by the company that sells it or will profit
from it and there are no long term human trials. The
biggest concern is whether sucrolose decreases thymus weight,
which would ban it forever. In rats, thymus weight
decreased 40% and the FDA addressed this concern claiming
that these effects would not be seen in humans at recommended
In spite of all this, it does have a lot
of support. Not only is it sold in over 27 plus countries
(although not in Europe) it is approved by the World Health
Organization, American Council on Science and Health, among
others like the Health Ministries of Canada and Australia.
It’s also been in use since 1991 but has not been as
widely used as it has been in the last few years.
I personally have high hopes for Splenda
but I think the FDA has shown lately who it really works
for and I don’t feel confident it’s for us. In
the meantime, I will use it but, like salt, sparingly and
not all the time. If I was a diabetic, I wouldn’t
use it at all, yet.
As for Whole Foods and them, read for yourself
what they have to say and why they don’t carry it. They
also give the most balanced review I think. http://www.wholefoods.com/healthinfo/sucralose.html
DEFINING A NET CARB
Just FYI, the FDA does not recognize the difference in carbs,
and requires manufactures to list the total carbohydrates
on food packages. They are receiving a lot of pressure
from food companies and consumers so they are considering
Basically the formula is this:
Net Carbs = Total carbohydrates - Grams of Fiber
(sometimes certain sweetners get deducted)
The idea behind it is similar to "good
fats" and "bad fats". There are "bad"
carbohydrates like white flour and those high in sugar that
digest quickly and spike our blood sugar. Then there's "good"
carbohydrates like whole grains and vegetables that burn slow
and smooth out digestion time. What net carb essentially means
is that only the refined carbohydrates show up as "carbs".
Be aware that many manufactures define all this a little differently.
It sounds like a stretch to me, but I'm not a big Atkins fan
FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA
No sea shines without fish life. I knew this was an issue
but wasn't sure which fish were endangered. Women put organic
produce on the map so I'm sure we could save more of the oceans
by just asking basic questions to restaurant personnel and
store owners, like how they choose their fish. Cod, Atlantic
halibut, bluefin tuna Chilean sea bass and swordfish are all
endangered due to catching methods, coastal development and
pollution. We can bring these species back by simply giving
them a rest like the "Give Swordfish a break" campaign.
Fish that have sustainable stocks include Albacore tuna, Artic
char, Catfish (farmed), Caviar, Clams (farmed) Dungeness crab,
Halibut, Lobster, Mahi mahi, mussels (farmed) oysters (farmed),
wild Salmon, Bay scallops, wild shrimp , stripped bass (farmed)
and Tilapia (farmed). For more detailed information go to:
CALCIUM AND WEIGHT LOSS
Another follow-up. Way back in November of 2002, I told you
about the most interesting finding from a conference on Obesity
that spoke about weight loss and calcium. http://www.oonausa.com/newsl_nov02.html.
I was surprised that this idea didn't get much play in the
media. There wasn't much information at the time about why
calcium played such a major role, but this month I found that
the folks at Alternative Medicine provided an explanation.
The reason calcium is so important for fat burning goes back
to when we were primates. When there was food, our ancestors
seldom had to worry about getting enough of the mineral as
the vegetables, plants and fruits they consumed had particularly
high levels due to the calcium-rich soil of the times. They
also got a lot of calcium from fish and bird bones. When levels
are low, something called "calcitriol" is released
to tell our fat cells to stop breaking down fat and to begin
storing it. This helped our ancestors ward off starvation
but today in Western countries food related threats are generally
something like too many cookies. A high calcium diet prevents
calcitriol from being released and tells our bodies to continue
to burn fat. The optimal amount is 1,000 mg for men and women
under 50, 1200 mg. for adults over 50 and don't exceed 2500
mg. a day. Calcium should be taken with magnesium and Vitamin
D for absorption. For more information go to http://www.alternativemedicine.com
(at the time of this newsletter, their search function is
broken - the article appears in the March 2004 issue. You
can search by issue).
A GOOD REVIEW ON THE SCIENCE OF DIETS
It seems everywhere you turn, there is talk about what, when
and how to eat to promote weight loss. It often seems like
the information is contradictory. My philosophy has always
been: if I want to be a smaller person, I have to eat like
a smaller person. Translation: less calories. (I don't always
follow my own philosophies) It's not what any one wants to
hear and I don't even like saying it to myself but last month
in the Wall St. Journal, Tara Parker-Pope wrote about some
of the things that we do know about the science of loosing
weight. Some highlights are:
- Calories count.
That's what your body really knows. Some quick easy things
you can do is cut out soda, eat whole fruits instead of
juices and lots of low calorie volume food like salads.
- Write down what you eat. We all do a
lot of eating that we don't remember, like that handful
of m&m's when you pass someone's desk.
- Portions are key. Movie stars do this.
I think it was John Travolta who lost 20 lbs in month or
two by having whatever he wanted but ate half.
- Weigh yourself. I hate this one but
it is true that you'll catch yourself sooner and watch it
before the 5 lbs turns into 15.
- Cut out the white stuff. Like white
bread and white rice and potatoes. Your body will burn it
quicker and make you hungry sooner. This is where there
is something to the Atkins diet and many nutritionist encourage
this rule this rule
protein in the size of a fist
with every meal.
For more information go to www.wsj.com
and search "the diet that works". It's a paid subscription
but you can try it for free for two weeks.
BIG HAIR IS OUT, BIG FOOD IS IN
It's not big hair, and I like Jennifer Aniston, but I am looking
forward to the day that hair style is out. Isn't ten years
of JA look a-likes enough? But big food? I'm in. This theory
on food has to do with it's "energy density" defined
as the amount of calories per gram. A food has low energy
density if it has fewer calories relative to its weight or
up to 1.5 calories per gram, 1.5 to 4 are medium and over
4 calories per gram are high density foods. "Big foods"
would be considered those that contain a lot of fiber and
water. The example given was chicken soup has just 0.5 calories
per gram would be just as filling and less fattening than
cheese ravioli at 3.2 calories per gram. Some are obvious
like this one, but others are less obvious like cream of broccoli
soup has an energy density of 0.8 while graham crackers have
a density of 4.2 calories/gram. And there are ways to lower
the density of foods. If for example you really prefer full-fat
salad dressing you can lower the density by adding a lot more
vegetables. The idea behind this is apparently backed by numerous
studies (presented at the North American Association for the
Study of Obesity) that show that we are more satisfied by
the amount of food we eat without regard to calorie content.
The overall effect by eating high density foods is the consumption
of less calories and feeling satisfied. Some guidelines to
lower the energy density of foods are 1. Consume far more
fruits, vegetables, salads and soups - this may include adding
more vegetables to stews and casseroles. 2. Use the blender,
smoothies fill you up the longer they are whipped and 3. Substitute
high density foods when you can like switching to low-fat
dressings cheeses and cooking oils. (This is based on a report
in the Wall St. Journal Tuesday, October 14, 2003 front page
of the Personal Journal by Tara Parker-Pope).
A PRELIMINARY SKINNY ON LOW CARB DIETS
The New England Journal of Medicine published two studies
that looked at severe obesity and low carbohydrate diets such
as Atkins. The outcome is not surprising: that those on the
low carbohydrate diet lost more weight than that low-fat diet.
We are not sure if calorie consumption was compared but we
do know that participants had specific foods to eat and the
low fat participants did not have any advice on how to limit
calories. Most important is that drop out rate was 40%. One
year out, the difference in weight loss was not significant.
The most alarming thing to us is that Atkins diet does not
provide adequate nutrition without supplementation and can
be very hard on the kidneys and liver. It is certainly not
an easy way to live. However, there does seem to be some truth
to the Atkins diet
it appears that there is a benefit
to limiting (not eliminating) carbohydrates if you want to
reduce weight, it's just that one would need to see a nutritionist
to figure out what is the best way to go about doing that
for themselves. There are ways to work within one's lifestyle
and we wish the whole discussion would move beyond low-carb
vs. low-fat. See abstracts for more info on diets effects
on cholesterol and insulin. http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/abstract/348/21/2082,
THE BIG NEWS FROM RESEARCHERS ON DIET
Every year the International Association for the Study of
Obesity (IASO)has a conference that includes 5000 medical
and health professional members through affiliated National
Associations in 30 countries. At this years conference, the
big news was the importance of calcium in the diet for weight
loss. Two well performed studies pointed to calcium as one
very important element for women and managing weight. Taking
1,200 milligrams of calcium (be sure to take with magnesium
for absorption) increased the use of fat as fuel during the
entire day -- whether at rest or exercising.
Other better known points were confirmed
like low-carbohydrate diets seem best for losing weight. (we
didn't say NO carbohydrates) If you work out a lot, increase
your carbohydrate consumption as it is important fuel for
muscular work. One other point worth mentioning was to use
foods high in fiber but low in calorie like apples, pears,
edamame and low-fat yogurt to snack on.
That's it for this month! As always,
check out our website for lots more information at www.oonahealth.com.
In Good Health,
The Oöna Team
Questions or comments? Write firstname.lastname@example.org