HHS, USDA release updated dietary guidelines with pleasant changes.

Important changes in the dietary guidelines. Reducing “sodium intake was the major push of the 2010 guidelines, and that document recommended that those most at risk of heart disease, or about half the population, lower their intake to 1,500 mg.” However, “the new guidelines delete that lower amount as part of the top recommendations. “The guidelines were also notable for what they did not say.” Although “draft recommendations had suggested all Americans adopt more environmentally-sustainable eating habits by cutting back on meat, that advice was dropped from the final guidelines.” Meanwhile, “longstanding limits on dietary cholesterol were also removed.” Bill Chesnut, MD

HHS, USDA release updated dietary guidelines

The CBS Evening News (1/7, story 9, 2:10, Pelley) reported, “Today the government revised its advice for a healthy diet. The headlines: Lean meat and eggs may now be okay, but sugar and salt still bad.”

USA Today (1/8, Szabo) reports that the new guidelines, from the US Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Health and Human Services, recommend “limiting the amount of added sugars in our diet to no more than 10% of daily calories,” which is approximately “12 teaspoons of sugar a day.”

The Los Angeles Times (1/8, Healy) reports, “Essentially, the latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans nudges the country’s nutritional policy toward a traditional Mediterranean diet.”

The AP (1/8, Jalonick) reports that reducing “sodium intake was the major push of the 2010 guidelines, and that document recommended that those most at risk of heart disease, or about half the population, lower their intake to 1,500 mg.” However, “the new guidelines delete that lower amount as part of the top recommendations.” But, “the report says those with high blood pressure and prehypertension could benefit from a steeper reduction.”

However, according to the New York Times (1/8, A3, O’Connor), “the guidelines were also notable for what they did not say.” Although “draft recommendations had suggested all Americans adopt more environmentally-sustainable eating habits by cutting back on meat, that advice was dropped from the final guidelines.” Meanwhile, “longstanding limits on dietary cholesterol were also removed.”

MedPage Today (1/8, Brown) reports that in a statement, Steven Stack, MD, AMA president, said, “The AMA applauds the Committee for recommending that our nation’s children and adults should focus on achieving a healthy overall diet rather than focus on consuming only specific nutrients.” Dr. Stack added, “With obesity and its associated health consequences – namely type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease – on the rise throughout our country, the AMA also is extremely pleased that the new recommendations call for significantly reducing the amount of added sugars and sugar sweetened beverages from the American diet.”

 

Complaint filed with HHS to force all states to offer bariatric surgery coverage under ACA

“This is a complicated issue and the wise choices will be slow to gain control. I can say in the last two months the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery has published that bariatric surgery before total knee replacement is beneficial. The patients who benefit are carefully defined. I hope this will be considered by those who evaluate if surgery is cost effective for a patient.” Bill Chesnut, MD

Complaint filed with HHS to force all states to offer bariatric surgery coverage under ACA

 MedPage Today (11/17, Boyles) reports that “earlier this month,” the Obesity Care Continuum, comprised of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, the Obesity Society, the Obesity Medicine Association, and the Obesity Action Coalition, has filed “a discrimination complaint” with the Department of Health and Human Services “with the goal of forcing all states to offer bariatric surgery coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).” In particular, “the complaint…charges states not offering coverage for bariatric surgery with violating the provision of the ACA prohibiting the denial of coverage to people due to existing disability and with discriminating against women.” MedPage Today also points out that the American Medical Association classified obesity as a disease in 2013.

 

Caffeinated products may not cause heart palpitations, research suggests

This is important information because of the longstanding conventional knowledge that caffeine is forbidden for patients with atrial fibrillation and such.” Bill Chesnut, MD

Caffeinated products may not cause heart palpitations, research suggests

On its website, NBC News (1/26, Fox) reports that research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests “drinking coffee, tea or chocolate does not appear to cause heart palpitations, heart fluttering and other out-of-sync heartbeat patterns.”

HealthDay (1/26, Preidt) reports that the research “included nearly 1,400 healthy people whose coffee, tea and chocolate consumption was assessed.” Participants “wore a portable device that continuously monitored their heart rhythm for 24 hours.” Investigators found that participants “who consumed higher amounts of the products didn’t have extra heartbeats.”

AMA Journal 1.27.16

 

Americans eat up to 15 hours a day, study says

“This data does not prove that frequent eating contributes to obesity, but common sense concludes it does. I noticed my personal habits more carefully after reading this in September. Our frequent consumption may be associated with many other health maladies.” Bill Chesnut, MD

Americans eat up to 15 hours a day, study says

 The Los Angeles Times (9/25, Healy) reports a study by researchers at the Salk Institute in La Jolla “that detailed the consumption patterns of just over 150 nondieting, non-shift-working people in and around San Diego for three weeks,” showed “that a majority of people eat for stretches of 15 hours or longer most days – and fast for fewer than nine hours a night.” The study suggests that “Americans’ erratic, round-the-clock eating patterns…have probably contributed to an epidemic of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.”

AMA WIRE 9.26.15

The Best Bodyweight Exercises for Travelers

“This is an excellent post from the Cleveland Clinic in the last three months. My personal favorites are Move1, the high knees, and the bird dog plank, Move 6. I do that one on the toes, not the knees. I like doing this every day with the intention to do them twice a day,  in addition to being in the gym. I say this to “benchmark,” encouraging  you to a higher and more frequent simple exercise program. The author has good pictures I recommend at their site, http://www.clevelandclinicwellness.com/DailyDose/archive/2015/07/03/The-Best-Bodyweight-Exercises-for-Travelers.aspx ” Bill Chesnut, MD

The Best Bodyweight Exercises for Travelers

by Ryan Sidak, B.S. Exercise Science

From business travel to family getaways to European vacations, we live in a culture that’s on the go — often! But all that moving from place-to-place doesn’t mean you have to stop exercising. All you need is your body — some of the best “equipment” available! I’ve outlined here a bodyweight circuit routine with six of my favorite moves and simple instructions you can pull up on your phone — no matter where you are. Even better: It won’t take hours out of your busy schedule to stay fit. You can adjust the circuit to the amount of time you have available. Happy travels!
Move 1: High Knees

Stand upright with good posture and raise your right knee up toward your chest as high as you can. Return your right foot to the ground and repeat with the left foot and leg. To crank up the intensity, increase the pace so that you are running in place with high knees.

Move 2: Squats
Begin with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and toes pointing forward. Lower your hips while also pushing them back. Stand back up pressing through your heels. If you have difficulty with squats, stand in front of a bench or chair and simply sit down into the chair all the way before standing back up.
Move 3: Mountain Climbers

Make sure that your chair is heavy enough to hold you, or to further secure it, push it up against a wall or desk. Begin in a push-up position with your hands under your shoulders and a straight line from the top of your head to your heels. Raise one knee as close to your chest as you can and return to the starting positing. Repeat with opposite leg. To make this move more difficult, remove the chair or bench and place your hands on the ground. Complete one knee raise with the left foot and the right foot for a full rep.
Move 4: Glute Bridge

Lie in your back with knees bent and feet on the ground, toes pointed toward the ceiling. Press through your heels to raise your hips so that your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds squeezing your glutes as hard as possible.

Move 5: Plank

With your hands or elbows under your shoulders, create a straight line from head to heel. Squeeze your glutes and brace your stomach (think about flexing as if someone was about to punch you in the stomach) — and breathe. If this move feels too challenging for you, try a plank position from your knees.

Move 6: Bird Dog

Begin on your hands and knees with a flat back. Simultaneously raise your right hand and left leg. Straighten both and hold 3 to 5 seconds. Return to starting position and raise your left hand and right leg (opposite sides).

 

 

Even foods you consider “healthy” contain shocking amounts of hidden sugar! Important!

We get too much sugar in our pursuit of low-fat foods. The fats removed are replaced with sugar for better taste. I recommend reading Dr. JJ Virgin, The Sugar Impact Diet. She has good news about wonderful tasting food that avoids the sugar overload.  Surprising tasty advice.” Bill Chesnut, MD.

http://www.amazon.com/JJ-Virgins-Sugar-Impact-Diet/dp/1455577847/ref=sr_1_1/178-3733271-5632900?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1454642768&sr=1-1&keywords=jj+virgin+sugar+impact+diet

 

October 28, 2015
Not so sweet: Even foods you consider “healthy” contain shocking amounts of hidden sugar.
Americans just love sugar. In fact, we love it so much that we eat three and a half times the American Heart Association’s recommended maximum. To be fair, we probably don’t even know how much we’re eating. Added sugar is found in approximately 80 percent of all supermarket foods. But a new documentary, That Sugar Film, will have you reading food labels like a detective. The movie shows an Australian man (Damon Gameau) consuming 40 teaspoons of sugar per day (what the average Australian consumes) for two months. He avoids the usual evils — soda, ice cream, candy, and other obvious sources — and instead eats foods often thought of as “healthy,” such as low-fat yogurt, fruit juice, health bars, and cereal — all of which are actually loaded with added sugar. Can you guess what happens? (If you’ve been reading our tips, you’ll know the punch line.) Well, it ain’t pretty: He gains a lot of weight very quickly, even though his calorie intake stays the same. He also starts to develop fatty liver disease (in just three weeks!), and by the end of this two-month experiment, he incurs early type 2 diabetes and increases his risk of heart disease. (Spoiler alert!) The good news is that once Damon stops eating the processed foods, his symptoms disappear. That’s why it’s never too late to start eating a more nutritious, whole foods diet. Not only is eating this way tastier, but it will also give you something even sweeter than all those processed items — a longer, happier life!
You may also want to know:

No sugar allowed 

Lower your diabetes risk by taking a short walk after meals

Tools and tastes for the healthy cook 

 

 

We eat too much sugar in our pursuit of low fat foods.

“We eat too much sugar in our pursuit of low-fat foods. The fats removed are replaced with sugar for taste. I recommend reading Dr. JJ Virgin, The Sugar Impact Diet. She has good news about wonderful tasting food that avoids the sugar overload.  Surprising tasty advice.” Bill Chesnut, MD.

http://www.amazon.com/JJ-Virgins-Sugar-Impact-Diet/dp/1455577847/ref=sr_1_1/178-3733271-5632900?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1454642768&sr=1-1&keywords=jj+virgin+sugar+impact+diet

 

Cleveland Clinic Wellness, October 28, 2015
Not so sweet: Even foods you consider “healthy” contain shocking amounts of hidden sugar.
Americans just love sugar. In fact, we love it so much that we eat three and a half times the American Heart Association’s recommended maximum. To be fair, we probably don’t even know how much we’re eating. Added sugar is found in approximately 80 percent of all supermarket foods. But a new documentary, That Sugar Film, will have you reading food labels like a detective. The movie shows an Australian man (Damon Gameau) consuming 40 teaspoons of sugar per day (what the average Australian consumes) for two months. He avoids the usual evils — soda, ice cream, candy, and other obvious sources — and instead eats foods often thought of as “healthy,” such as low-fat yogurt, fruit juice, health bars, and cereal — all of which are actually loaded with added sugar. Can you guess what happens? (If you’ve been reading our tips, you’ll know the punch line.) Well, it ain’t pretty: He gains a lot of weight very quickly, even though his calorie intake stays the same. He also starts to develop fatty liver disease (in just three weeks!), and by the end of this two-month experiment, he incurs early type 2 diabetes and increases his risk of heart disease. (Spoiler alert!) The good news is that once Damon stops eating the processed foods, his symptoms disappear. That’s why it’s never too late to start eating a more nutritious, whole foods diet. Not only is eating this way tastier, but it will also give you something even sweeter than all those processed items — a longer, happier life!
You may also want to know:

No sugar allowed 

Lower your diabetes risk by taking a short walk after meals

Tools and tastes for the healthy cook 

 

 

 

How to take your blood pressure correctly!

“How to take your blood pressure correctly, from the AMA newsletter.” Bill Chesnut, MD

The one video you need for accurate blood pressure readings

Verify that you’re getting the most accurate blood pressure readings from your patients by using this quick video.

Share the video on Facebook or Twitter with your practice team and patients so they understand how seemingly minor factors can affect their blood pressure measurements.

Here are some additional resources to help you improve your practice’s hypertension management:

Why you should take action

The number of hypertension-related deaths in the United States increased by 66 percent over the past decade, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To put that in perspective, the number of deaths from all other causes combined increased only 3.5 percent during that period.

The AMA’s Improving Health Outcomes initiative is taking steps to reverse this trend. Through this initiative, the AMA and participating physicians and care teams are working with researchers at the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality and the Johns Hopkins Center to Eliminate Cardiovascular Health Disparities to develop and test evidence-based blood pressure recommendations and provide practical tools for physician practices.

 

Surprising Do’s and Don’ts for a Healthier Heart


“I am sharing information from the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Clinic, international experts in good health. You may not agree with everything but it’s a good thing to know, that thing you don’t agree with. I strongly agree with Don’t be a Pessimist.” Bill Chesnut, MD

Surprising Do’s and Don’ts for a Healthier Heart

By Cleveland Clinic Wellness Editors 
Published 10/16/15

You’ve probably heard (most likely from us!) that a healthy diet, regular exercise and a good handle on stress is the best prescription for a healthy heart. But we’ll bet you haven’t heard these tips about heart health. Here, 10 surprising do’s and don’ts for keeping your heart healthy.

Do Get Plastic Smart

Bisphenol-A (BPA), a common plastic additive that has been suspected of contributing to hormonal disruptions and neural development issues in children, has now been linked to heart disease. Recent studies have begun to look at the health effects of BPA in adults — in 2009, researchers at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom found that adults with high levels of BPA in their urine had a significantly higher risk of developing heart disease and suffering from impaired liver function. Despite these dangers, more than 90 percent of the American population has detectable levels of BPA in their bloodstreams. To minimize your exposure, avoid plastic water bottles, discard any plastic containers that have scratches, and don’t microwave or place hot liquids or food in plastic containers. Because BPA is also found in the lining of cans, consider cooking with dried beans and frozen vegetables instead of their canned counterparts.

Do Get Up From Your Desk

Most of us lead a very sedentary lifestyle. Even if we work out regularly, all this downtime takes a toll on our health. Turns out, people who sit on their duff all day without taking breaks are at greater risk of a slew of health issues than those who get up and walk around regularly. Sitting for prolonged periods of time is linked to larger waistlines, higher blood pressure, lower levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, increased levels of triglycerides, and higher levels of inflammation. And that even goes for gym rats. According to the study’s researchers, 30 to 60 minutes of activity a day can’t undo the effects of sitting for eight to 12 hours at a time. But standing up and walking around periodically throughout the day can help. They recommend standing during phone calls and meetings, walking over to a person’s desk instead of e-mailing them and making frequent visits to the watercooler and bathroom.

Do Avoid Secondhand Smoke

Too polite to ask someone to stop smoking? You won’t be after you learn this: According to a study in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, being exposed to 15 to 30 minutes of secondhand smoke a week increases the risk of stroke by 56 percent and peripheral artery disease by 67 percent over the course of two years. Another study found that one-third of nonsmokers with a high exposure to secondhand smoke had early signs of lung damage, representing very mild forms of emphysema.

Do Drink Beer

You’ve probably heard that drinking red wine in moderation can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. (Moderation is no more than one serving of alcohol per day for women and two for men.) Beer has these same beneficial effects. According to research, the antioxidants in beer significantly improve the capacity for an artery to dilate, which just could have a positive impact on cardiovascular and heart health. Beer, along with tea, coffee and cocoa, provides antioxidants (specifically phenolic compounds) that reduce damaging free radicals in the body. One great benefit? Beer and other spirits can help raise HDL (healthy cholesterol) levels. But beer (much like red wine) can also prevent LDL (lousy cholesterol) levels from becoming even worse.

Do Have More Sex

You can boost your health without even getting out of bed — by having more sex! Studies show frequent sex promotes longer life and fewer heart attacks. Not only does a good roll in the hay reduce stress, studies also show that people who have sex frequently (generally twice a week, although individual studies vary) live longer, have lower blood pressure and are less likely to suffer heart attacks. So grab your main squeeze and get busy tonight.

Do Watch Your Mouth

Several studies have linked gum disease to heart disease. While the connection is not totally understood, preliminary research suggests the more bacteria crowding your mouth, the higher your chances of developing heart disease. The thinking is that because people with gum disease have higher amounts of harmful bacteria in their mouth that adhere to the gingival lining (pockets just inside the gums), the bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause inflammation in arteries that results in arterial disease. A new study that analyzed the oral hygiene habits of 11,000 people found that people who didn’t brush their teeth regularly had a 70 percent greater risk of heart disease than people who brushed twice a day. And that was after accounting for other risk factors like smoking, obesity and family history. Reduce bacteria’s head count by brushing twice a day, flossing regularly, and using ADA-approved antimicrobial mouthwash with fluoride.

Don’t Be a Pessimist

A study in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association found that optimistic women had lower rates of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, diabetes and death than pessimistic women. Researchers aren’t sure whether a positive outlook motivates us to take better care of ourselves or if it has direct health benefits. Either way, being upbeat has upsides for your health. If you tend to see the glass as half empty, try this: Once a week for a month or more, list three things you’re grateful for and spend time contemplating what makes them possible, suggests Thomas Morledge, MD, of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. Thankful for your health? Think about what keeps you healthy. Thankful for a strong relationship? Think about how you manage that. Evidence suggests that this simple act to cultivate gratitude can be a powerful antidote for anxiety and depression.

Don’t Overdo Sweets

The added sugars (glucose, sucrose, fructose) in soft drinks, candy, cookies and muffins can cause a low grade of inflammation in your body, which can affect your blood vessels. Research over the past decade has pointed toward inflammation as being the trigger that causes most forms of coronary heart disease. Americans consume an average of 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day; the American Heart Association recommends a maximum of six teaspoons for women and nine for men. Drink club soda instead of a 12-ounce cola and you eliminate eight teaspoons right there. (And a bonus: You get a big sodium savings!)

Don’t Be a Couch Potato

Every hour spent watching TV is associated with an 18 percent increase in death from heart disease! That’s no joke. According to a study in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, the more time you spend in front of the TV, the higher your risk of dying from heart disease. The real shocker? Whether you’re overweight or not doesn’t matter. Sitting for long periods of time can have a negative impact on blood sugar and lipids. Exercise, on the other hand, has an antiaging effect, all the way down to the cellular level. If you can’t seem to part with your favorite shows, find a fitness routine you can do while watching or during commercials.

Don’t Be Mean

Got a mean streak? Time to learn how to play nice. People who are overly aggressive or competitive may be at greater risk of heart attacks or strokes, according to a study in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association. As we age, the lining of our arterial walls starts to thicken, which has correlated with a greater risk of heart disease. The more antagonistic a person is, the thicker their arteries tend to be — even at a young age. If you blow your fuse often, consider a course in anger management. Losing weight, quitting smoking and engaging in regular physical activity can be beneficial and decrease the rate of arterial thickening. Physical exercise is also great for stress reduction.

Recipe for Healthy Memory

Memory improvement. “Recipe for Healthy Memory: Make Every Bite Count”

By Maureen Connolly 
Published 9/7/2009   Cleveland Clinic Wellness newsletter.

One of the best ways to boost brain performance and recall? “Eat,” says David Grotto, RD, LDN, author of 101 Simple Foods That Could Save Your Life and 101 Optimal Life Foods. Sounds simple enough. But despite this advice from nutritionists that we must fuel our bodies and brains with a steady supply of food, many of us still skip breakfast, go too long between meals and eat too much at one sitting. All of these habits set us up for brain drain. Without proper fuel (aka glucose, the main sugar the body makes from the foods we eat and that fuels all the cells in our body), our brains have to work that much harder to complete something as simple as counting change. “The brain fuels itself on glucose, which we need to replenish from food every three to four hours,” Grotto says. “Research on breakfast eaters shows that those who eat it perform better on cognitive function and recall.” Essentially, a morning meal helps your brain function better when it comes to thinking, learning, reasoning and remembering.

Conversely, eating a large amount of calories, carbs and fat at one sitting can make you feel sluggish afterward (thanks to temporarily elevated blood sugar levels, followed by a drop-off — which people can experience as low energy, sluggishness or brain fog). If eating three large meals leaves you with brain drain, consider eating four to six mini-meals over the course of the day.

Eat This
What you eat is as important as how often you eat. Here are some brain-friendly foods you won’t want to miss out on:

Eggs. The protein-packed egg is rich in vitamins E and D and is considered the optimal brain food by many nutritionists, thanks to its connection with improving memory function. Plus, the yolk is rich in the B vitamin choline, which converts to acetylcholine in the brain, a neurotransmitter that is also critical for memory function. Worried about cholesterol found in egg yolks? Some docs and nutritionists consider whole eggs such an optimal food that they suggest cutting out cholesterol in other areas of your diet (such as butter and cheese) rather than lose out on all of the benefits of whole eggs. You can also keep cholesterol to a minimum by eating one whole egg and adding egg whites to round out an omelet or scrambled eggs.

Oats. “Whole-grain oats are my go-to grain because they’re rich in B vitamins, which reduce oxidative stress to the body’s tissues,” Grotto says. When we’re stressed, our body pumps out the hormone cortisol, which causes an inflammatory response that impairs memory. Getting your whole grains is like putting a bucket of water on the hormonal fire. Slow-cooking, steel-cut oatmeal is a great choice since the grain is still intact and it tastes super yummy. Top oatmeal with walnuts for brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids and milk or soymilk fortified with docosahexaenoic acid (or DHA) and you’ve got a home-run breakfast for your brain. Other smart choices: whole-grain breads, quinoa and whole-grain cereals such as Total.

Omega-3-rich fish. Salmon is considered one of the best sources of two types of brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These two fats are critical to brain, heart and eye function. But since we don’t manufacture DHA and EPA ourselves, we need to get them from our diet. The general recommendation is to aim for two to three three-ounce servings of omega-3-rich fish per week. Sardines, cod, haddock, tuna and halibut also contain omega-3 fatty acids. However, many fish farmers are feeding corn and soybeans to their stock, which actually lowers their overall omega-3 levels. Michael F. Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer of the Cleveland Clinic and co-author of the best-selling YOU seriesrecommends sticking to wild salmon and lake trout as your main source of DHA/EPA-rich fish. He also sees benefits to aiming for 13 ounces per week.

Not a fish fan? Or can’t quite meet the recommended fish servings? Incorporate flaxseed, canola oil, walnuts and soybean oil into your diet. These foods are rich in the omega-3 alpha linolenic acid (ALA). You don’t get quite the same brain benefit as you do from DHA/EPA-rich sources, but it’s better than not getting any.

While food sources allow for the best absorption of omega-3s, you can also get them in a fish oil supplement. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that while some initial studies look promising, it won’t have an official recommendation on omega-3 supplementation with regards to cognitive health until more research can be done. However, because omega-3s contribute to overall health and “appear to be safe for most adults at low to moderate amounts,” says the NIH, those who aren’t getting adequate amounts of omega-3s from their diets should consider supplements. Some health organizations say healthy adults can reap overall benefit from 220 mg of DHA per day or one gram total combined of DHA and EPA. Dr. Roizen would up this amount but says to consider first what you’re getting from your diet. His general guide: If you’re eating no fish, take one 600 mg supplement of DHA per day or two grams of omega-3 fish oil capsules. If you eat half the recommended amount of omega-3-rich fish on a regular basis, then you can cut that dosage in half. Vegans can get DHA from algae-based supplements  that average about 200 mg per day(though DHA and EPA are more effective in combination).

It’s important to know that fish oil supplements may cause stomach upset and bloating. In super-high doses (more than three grams per day), fish oils can cause bleeding. Omega-3s can also interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners and high blood pressure drugs, so be sure to check with your doctor and/or pharmacist before taking supplements.

Chocolate. Chocolate contains cocoa that helps improve blood flow to the brain by boosting nitric oxide levels that in turn allow blood vessels to function more efficiently. Chocolate is also packed with flavonols, which reduce blood clots and fatty buildup in the arteries, and antioxidants, which lessens inflammation in the body. In one study at Northumbria University in Newcastle, England, participants who were given chocolate drinks with 500 mg of flavonols could complete math calculations more quickly and accurately than those who had nothing. Unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably organic, non-alkali) offers the most antioxidants and flavonols. Dark chocolate is the runner-up, followed by milk chocolate. Keep in mind that chocolate contains saturated fat and sugar — so don’t overdo it. Two ounces per day or two teaspoons of cocoa powder will allow you some benefits without overloading on calories, fat and sugar. And until manufacturers develop a uniform system for measuring flavonol levels, rely on percentage of cocoa content — the higher the better.

Spinach. This dark-green leaf is packed with antioxidants, flavonols and folic acid, which is a win-win food when it comes to brain health. Same goes for kale and collard greens. Aim for three servings a day (the amount you’d get in a good-size salad) and your brain will thank you.

Any fruit ending in erryBlueberry, cranberry, raspberry, blackberry and pomegranate-erry (okay, we snuck that last erry in there). These fruits slow the aging of the brain, thanks to their high antioxidant level. Sprinkle a handful on your cereal or oatmeal each morning, add them to yogurt or mix them in a smoothie. Just find a way to eat some berries each day.

Drink This
Coffee.
 In animal studies, caffeine (the equivalent of two cups of really strong coffee) helped improve memory in mice and even improved it in mice that were bred to have the equivalent of Alzheimer’s disease. The caffeine cut in half the levels of beta-amyloid, a protein that clumps in the brain and causes memory loss.

Green tea. To produce the effects of coffee, you’d need to drink 14 cups of tea. But even in smaller amounts, black and green tea contains brain-boosting antioxidants and theanine, an amino acid that can calm you. But be sure to let that tea bag steep. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that tea brewed for seven minutes had 60 percent more flavonoids than tea brewed for only three minutes. Tea devotees are also raving about Matcha, a stone-ground powdered form of green tea that packs a serious nutritional punch, thanks to antioxidants and vitamins C and A.

Red wine. Red grapes contain resveratrol, a substance that counteracts the free radical cell damage that’s associated with aging and normal wear and tear on our bodies and brains that comes from stress, pollutants, etc. Red wine is also packed with polyphenols, which may stop brain-cell-destroying plaques from building up. Why does red wine get all the glory? Red grapes are just naturally higher in resveratrol and polyphenols than green ones are. “Part of this is also due to the red wine making process, which allows for the skin of the red grape to stay in longer contact with the fruit, and further up levels,” Grotto says. White wine has some resveratrol, but not as much as red. Docs recommend one glass of wine per day for women, one to two glasses for men. Not a wine drinker? Pour yourself a glass of Concord grape juice instead.

Just Say No . . .
To high amounts of fructose, a sugar found in concentrated juices, table sugar and processed foods made with high-fructose corn syrup. A new study out of Georgia State University says that when rats were fed a diet high in fructose they had a hard time remembering previously learned tasks. Fructose can up your triglyceride levels, and consequently impair memory.

Lentil Arugula Salad.

“Good food is a modern blessing of tastes that did not exist a few decades ago.” Bill Chesnut, MD

LENTIL ARUGULA SALAD.     by Cleveland Clinic Wellness Editors

At the heart of this salad is a near-perfect food — lentils. Not only are they quick and easy to prepare, these little legumes are packed with dietary fiber, which helps stabilize blood sugar levels. But that’s not all: They’re a terrific source of key minerals and protein (think: more energy!). Lentils don’t work alone here. They’ve got a cornucopia of colorful veggies and a tangy vinaigrette to keep them company, which means a gorgeous, delicious plate filled with satisfying crunch.
Developed by Sara Quessenberry for Cleveland Clinic Wellness

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients:
¾ cup dried French lentils, rinsed
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
8 cups wild arugula
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
8 radishes, thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
4 hardboiled eggs, halved

Instructions:
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the lentils and cook until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain into a strainer and pass them under cold running water to cool. Shake out excess water and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, oil, pepper, and parsley.
Divide the arugula among four bowls. Top with the lentils, fennel, carrots, radishes, scallions, and eggs. Drizzle with the vinaigrette.

Nutrition Info Per Serving: (1/4 of the salad) 240 calories, 13 g total fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 12 g protein, 19 g carbohydrate, 7 g dietary fiber, 5 g sugar, 210 mg cholesterol, 140 mg sodium

GO! Foods for You is not just another diet! It’s about learning how to cook and eat for a longer and healthier life. Our guided, online program provides an eating assessment, weekly lessons and demos, customizable activities and daily encouragement. Learn more about GO! Foods for You.

*Note: The photo displayed is representational only and does not show this exact recipe.

 

Coffee, Tea and Heart Health

Coffee, Tea and Heart Health 

by Marc Gillinov, M.D. and Steven Nissen, M.D.

Cleveland Clinic Wellness

Coffee has a bad reputation when it comes to heart health, while tea is generally accorded special healing properties. We have good news for both coffee and tea drinkers: Neither is bad for the heart.

Among people who are nothabitual coffee drinkers, the caffeine from two cups of coffee increases blood pressure by 2 to 3 mm Hg. This effect is short-lived and is usually absent among those who drink coffee regularly.

Coffee can cause a temporary increase in heart rate, but it is an uncommon cause of abnormal heart rhythms.

Boiled or unfiltered coffee contains oils that may increase total and LDL cholesterol levels, but these chemicals are removed by the filtering process, so most coffee has no effect on cholesterol.

Finally, some studies suggest that coffee contributes to arterial stiffness. However, other research suggests that two cups of coffee per day actually causes arteries to relax.

Coffee does not cause high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure and you like coffee, you can continue to drink it.

Large studies demonstrate no increased risk of coronary heart disease among coffee drinkers, whether they prefer regular coffee or decaf.

While we have no prospective, randomized comparative studies examining cardiac outcomes over ten to twenty years among people assigned to drink coffee or another beverage, there is enough evidence for us to conclude that coffee does not cause heart disease and that it can be part of a heart-healthy diet.

What about tea? It is difficult to compare coffee and tea because tea drinkers tend to have healthier diets and lifestyles when compared to coffee drinkers. So we can’t really tell you which one is better. But like coffee, both black tea and green tea have been associated with reduced risk of developing coronary heart disease in observational studies. However, the potential cardiac benefits of tea require drinking five to six cups per day.

What should you drink? The data suggest that neither coffee nor tea is bad for the heart and the possibility that both may confer cardiac benefits. Choose your drink based upon your taste preference. And if you must add a sweetener or cream, use low-calorie and low-fat varieties.

 

 

Ten Ways to Start Exercising. You’ll be proud you did.

“To be what you want to be, start here and let it grow you.” Bill Chesnut, MD

 

10 Ways to Start Exercising

By Cleveland Clinic Wellness Editors 
Published 7/13/2011

Walking, strength training, running, swimming, biking, yoga, tai chi — the possibilities for exercise are endless. The good news is that it doesn’t matter which one you choose — it just matters that you do some form of exercise. “If you have a choice between not moving and moving — move,” says Heather Nettle, MA, coordinator of exercise physiology services for the Cleveland Clinic Sports Health and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation Center. “Ultimately it will help with overall health and well-being.” So go ahead, find an activity you love and get moving with these 10 do’s and don’ts for starting an exercise routine.

  1. Do Anything — It’s Better Than Nothing
    Experts are quite clear on this point: Get 30 to 60 minutes of exercise three to five days a week for improved energy, as well as to help prevent heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. But if you can’t hit that target for whatever reason, just do something. “One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is having an all-or-nothing mentality,” says Caroline Dawson, MBA, a certified fitness trainer and instructor at Town Sports International in New York City. “If you can realistically only commit to working out three days a week, remember that three is better than zero! Even if you can devote only 10 or 20 minutes to exercise, you’ll always feel better afterward.” To widen your activity horizons, keep a pair of walking shoes in your car or at your desk, and drive or walk to a scenic locale for your walks. On rainy days, the mall makes a great indoor track.
  2. Do Keep Track
    Tracking your steps with a pedometer is one key to success if you like to walk, says Michael F. Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic. Another is recording some basic health information before starting a new routine. “Keeping track of how your body changes inside and out over the weeks and months gives you proof of the healthy changes you’re making,” he says. A few ways to do it:
  • Before your first workout, check your blood pressure at your local pharmacy. Then recheck once a month.
    • Time yourself at a track or on a treadmill. See how many minutes it takes you to walk or run one mile. Retest yourself after one month of consistent exercise.
    • Measure your waist circumference and your weight. Take these measurements once a week.
    • Schedule a visit with your physician and request these tests: lipid panel, vitamin D and C-reactive protein. Check these levels again after six months of consistent exercise.
  1. Do Weight-Train
    There’s no question: You’ll shed pounds faster if you lift weights. That’s because strength training builds muscle, and the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism will be. And women, hear this: You will not bulk up! What you’re doing by lifting weights is preventing muscle loss. Strength training also improves overall body composition, giving you more lean muscle tissue in relation to fat, so you look toned and trim. To experience the most benefit, lift more weight than you think you can. Dashing through your repetitions doesn’t take as much effort because it allows your muscles to rely on momentum. Instead, focus on your form by practicing slow and steady movements on both the contraction and the release. This will help you strengthen every muscle fiber.
  2. Do Head for the Hills
    Do you follow the same flat path day in and day out when you go for your walk or run? Look for hills along your route that you can slip into your routine. If it’s too much for you to tackle all at once, start by going only halfway up. Walking or running up inclines boosts the intensity of your workout: It burns more calories and helps build muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance. Switching between flat surfaces and hills is a form of interval training, a type of workout that involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise in between moderate activity. This kind of exercise, practiced by elite athletes, can supercharge your workout. It can also help keep boredom at bay. If you have joint problems, go easy on the downhill — slow your pace and shorten your stride.
  3. Do Think Outside the Box
    Even if you can’t engage in rigorous, high-intensity sweat sessions, there are plenty of other ways to improve your physical health. According to a review in the American Journal of Health Promotion, mind-body practices like tai chi and qigong may help promote bone health, cardiorespiratory fitness, physical function, balance, quality of life, fall prevention and emotional well-being. Described as “meditation in motion,” tai chi and qigong involve a series of flowing, gentle movements — similar to but much slower than yoga. Interested? Get the Gaiam tai chi for beginners DVDin our clevelandclinicwellness.com wellness store.
  4. Don’t Do It If You Don’t Love It
    The perfect exercise is something you enjoy, according to Gordon Blackburn, MD, director of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at the Cleveland Clinic. He recommends doing something you can fit in on a daily basis and something you can continue doing. Walk briskly, run, bike, use a program like Wii Fit. As the saying goes, it’s all good. Once you find what you love, aim to gradually increase the duration and intensity of your activity. As you get more fit, your functional capacity increases, so you really can do more. If you love your daily walk, add distance and build up speed. If you love bicycling, add another few miles or tackle that big hill. It all adds up, and getting going today will keep your heart going in the long run.
  5. Don’t Stretch Too Soon
    You probably learned to stretch before exercise in elementary school PE. But science has determined that holding stretches for 20 to 30 seconds prior to the start of a workout actually makes it more difficult for your muscles to perform. A University of Nevada study found that athletes who performed traditional hamstring stretches before working out generated less power from those muscles than athletes who did no stretching at all. For a good-for-you warm-up, do moves that raise your heart rate and promote flexibility, such as a straight-legged march: Kick your right leg straight out in front of you, keeping your toes pointed up. As you kick, reach your left fingertips to touch (or nearly touch) your right toes. Step your weight forward onto your right leg, then repeat on the left side, bringing your right hand to touch your left toes as you kick. Keep going for eight to 10 steps. As for those static stretches from your school days, there’s still a time and a place for them — after you’re done with your workout.
  6. Don’t Forget Your Core
    It’s no coincidence that core training and balance training are often grouped together. A strong core — which consists of your abdominal, back and pelvic muscles — can function like an insurance policy against balance-related injuries. “When your core is strong, then your protective stabilizing muscles kick in and protect you,” explains Dallas-based Pilates expert Karon Karter, author of Balance Training: Stability Workouts for Core Strength and a Sculpted Body. Studies have shown that taking a holistic view of balance training is probably the most effective route. That means changing up your exercise routine to challenge both strength and balance, and pairing it with core training. Use balance exercises to warm up for things like walking, running or biking. After establishing your balance on one foot (just holding still is a good first step), try raising and lowering your body on one leg, keeping your torso erect while bending at the knee and waist. As you get more confident, add repetitions, go lower, or move your free leg into different positions.
  7. Don’t Walk With Weights (Amen) 
    Though it may feel like you’re working harder, strapping on hand or ankle weights while you walk won’t give you the extra burn you’re looking for. And it may just increase your risk of joint problems or injuries. To burn extra calories, you would need to carry at least three- to five-pound weights — and that’s a definite no-no. When you swing the weights, it exponentially increases the force on your shoulder and elbow joints if using hand weights, or knee and hip joints if using ankle weights. For people with heart disease or high blood pressure, using weights can also cause a temporary spike in blood pressure. Leave the weights at home and boost your burn by walking up hills instead.
  8. Don’t Focus on Appearance
    If you can’t seem to muster the motivation to hit the gym, it may be time to rethink your reasons for going. Working out for the sake of how you look can actually discourage you from exercise. Instead of viewing physical activity as a means to a better-looking body, think of it as a way to stay healthy and feel great. Though you will burn calories, melt fat and build muscle, regular physical activity can also reduce stress, banish bad moods, ramp up energy levels and boost self-esteem.

Fantastic fast food!

January 11, 2016
Fantastic fast food! Make grab-and-go work for you and your health.
Fast food has spent decades earning its bad name. But fast in terms of grab-and-go can be nutritious if you do it right. Even if you love spending time in the kitchen and working magic with your favorite nutritious foods, it can be hard to make time every day. Use these ideas and have nourishing snacks and meals at your fingertips in no time at all:

Keep fruit and veggies at the ready. Wash and chop berries, kiwis, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, and celery — and store them in easy-to-grab batches. Also keep some zero-prep produce: peel-and-eat bananas, oranges, tangerines and clementines, as well as apples and pop-in-your-mouth cherry tomatoes.

Go nuts. Mix your favorite nuts with unsweetened dried fruit and dark chocolate bits, and store in an airtight jar for a filling and nutritious snack. You can also measure out quarter-cup portions of trail mix in advance for the perfect snack. This is a project that children love to do with you!

Turn the freezer and pantry into your friend. A can of chickpeas or pinto beans, frozen edamame or broccoli, and whole grains such as quinoa and brown rice (easy to cook and freeze) offer fiber and nutrients galore — in the same amount of time it takes to heat a can of SpaghettiOs.

Seek out real-food power packs. Individual packs of guacamole and hummus are nutritious choices for when you have an early morning meeting to get to and only a minute to fill your lunch box.

Invest in the right “stuff.” Reuseable containers of various sizes — for salads, sandwiches, dressings, dips, and snacks — can keep nutritious food fresh, organized and tasty.

 

Have you heard of the Bird Dog Plank? It is great for your core!

I love  this quick energy-generating exercise.  The plank is part of my daily routine.  Have you heard of the Bird Dog Plank?  Do the plank exercises on your wrists and toes while holding one straight leg up higher than your back. You look like a Bird Dog! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHkBmfwTjN8 ” Bill Chesnut, MD    
Brrrr! When it’s cold outside, keep your inner fire burning with plank pose.
The yoga posture known as plank pose proves that exertion comes in many forms — not just running distances and pumping iron. Plank pose builds strength and vitality year-round, and, at this time of year, it can serve as an efficient “winter warmer,” says Judi Bar, Cleveland Clinic’s yoga program manager. Here’s how it’s done: Get down on the ground, face down, and come up onto your hands and knees. (If you feel pain or strain in your wrists, rest your weight on your entire forearms, with your elbows directly under your shoulders for support.) As you exhale, stretch one leg back so the knee is almost straight. On your next exhale, stretch and place the other leg beside the first, hip distance apart, with your toes curled under. Engage your torso muscles, from belly to spine, and allow your head, shoulders, hips and heels to form a straight line, like a plank. Hold the pose for three to five breaths, or more. Come out of plank pose by bending your knees to the ground and then sitting comfortably. Repeat this pose up to three times. Are you warm yet?