Search Results for: Eat Well to Be Well

Eat Well to Be Well: The harms of going gluten-free when you don’t have to

In case you haven’t noticed, the gluten-free market has exploded within the past five years. This tidal wave of gluten-free popularity took off with endorsements from food blogs and social media hash tags. Even the food industry has played a significant role. Extensive labeling of foods as gluten-free or not has amassed such a following, an estimated one in five Americans include gluten-free foods in their diet.

Yet, most people pulling gluten-free foods off grocery store shelves do not have sensitivity to wheat, barley or rye. In fact, experts estimate that only about seven percent of Americans benefit from avoiding gluten. That means many of us eating gluten-free really don’t need to. Despite this fact, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, gluten-free alternatives to traditional foods accounted for nearly $1.6 billion in sales in 2015. Most of this growth is driven by consumers believing gluten-free is healthier and may aid weight loss. So, who should go gluten-free and who should not?

Who benefits from following a gluten-free diet?

Any person diagnosed with celiac disease through an intestinal biopsy will need to follow a gluten-free diet for the rest of their life. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder caused by an abnormal immune response to gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye that can damage the lining of the small intestine by causing inflammation. When the damage occurs, it reduces the ability of the intestinal lining to absorb nutrients, which can lead to problems such as anemia, osteoporosis, or growth delays in children.

A food label shows this product is not gluten free: Wheat flour and whole wheat flour are derived from gluten-containing wheat. USDA graphic.

Another form of celiac disease called dermatitis herpetiformis (DH), also warrants going gluten-free. DH can trigger the immune system to attack the skin, causing a chronic, itchy bumpy rash that can be quite painful.

One other reason to avoid gluten is to reduce symptoms of gluten sensitivity. Gluten sensitivity is not an autoimmune disease; instead it’s the inability to process gluten, resulting in unpleasant symptoms such as diarrhea, gas, bloating, and constipation.

Anyone who believes they may benefit from a gluten-free diet should be evaluated by their family physician and a gastroenterologist to determine if they have celiac disease, DH or gluten sensitivity. If they do, following a gluten-free diet will help them feel better with fewer symptoms.

Eat Well to be Well: Build brainpower with brain-healthy foods

“To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” This very wise and aptly spoken quote from Buddha makes perfect sense in the world today when a greater percentage of our population is developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

We always hear talk about heart health but what about brain health? Our brain needs our attention too. It needs to be nourished and fed the right kind of foods to keep us thinking clearly, focused, feeling energetic and functioning at our best.

As dementia and Alzheimer’s disease continue to rise in the United States with no cure in sight, the earlier we begin making healthy food choices, the better. Currently, Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death with 5.3 million Americans living with this condition. It is predicted that unless a cure is found, 16 million Americans will have the disease by 2050.

The brain needs adequate blood flow to enhance memory and cognitive thinking. Many studies have been conducted demonstrating how a healthy diet with proper food choices does indeed make a remarkable difference in how we think and feel, giving us a brain boost we can benefit from. By adding in foods to boost brain health, this is one way we can participate in keeping our brains healthy. Here are five foods for protecting, promoting and preserving brain health:

Eat Well to Be Well: Hormones in beef – Should you worry?

When it comes to food, everyone has an opinion and each of us has many questions. Take beef for instance. It seems you either eat it or you don’t. And if you choose not to, one concern for avoiding it could be the fear of hormones in beef.  How do we know beef is safe to eat and why are hormones used anyway?

The ‘beef’ over eating meat

The sensationalism surrounding beef being filled with hormones is just that – an over exaggeration.  It’s important to understand all living things – plants, animals, and people – produce hormones. Hormones are special chemical messengers necessary for controlling most major body functions from hunger to reproduction. The hormones used in beef production are only those that are also naturally produced by cattle. They include estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, as well as synthetic versions of them.

Why are hormones used?

The simple answer why cattle are implanted with hormones is to help the cattle grow faster. These growth-promoting hormone pellets, about the size of an Advil tablet, contain a small amount of hormones and are put under the skin on the backside of the ear – cattle ears are never used in food production, thus they do not end up in the food we eat.

If you’re worried about the amount of hormones in these pellets, don’t be. The amount is a fraction of the natural production of mature bulls or heifers. A 1,300 pound steer is implanted with 30 milligrams of estrogen to last 150 days and that’s it. Compare this to the amount of ingested hormones a woman on birth control pills takes for months or years. Also, hormones don’t build-up in the cow’s system so there is no residue from the pellets in your meat.

These hormones not only help the animal gain weight faster, but they also have less of an impact on the environment than a non-treated animal. This means less time, food, and water are used to finish the animal, making them less expensive to produce, a cost-savings passed on to us as consumers. Research from Iowa State University found that hormone implants have no effect on beef quality or safety.

Eat Well to Be Well: Eat right or exercise? Which to choose when in a pinch

A few weeks ago, my sister asked me this question, “If you had to cut corners, which is better to choose – eating healthy or exercise?” My initial response was “Trying to cut corners should be kept to a minimum. To achieve health and fitness, making wise food choices and engaging in consistent exercise are both necessary – they go hand-in-hand.” But I understood what she was asking. There are times in our lives when things get busy and we find ourselves doing one thing but not another.

Which one should we choose if we have to make a decision when in a pinch? Healthy eating wins hands down. Here’s why:

If you focus only on exercise without making changes in your food choices, you won’t see much of a weight loss. Those who exercise with the goal of losing weight but without cutting back on portion sizes or choosing healthier food will see minimal weight reduction in 6 to 12 months, compared to combining exercise with healthy eating.

Eat Well to Be Well: Plant 6 seeds of health into your diet

In case you haven’t noticed, seeds are everywhere and I’m not talking about the kind you buy at a greenhouse. I’m talking about the kind you buy at the grocery store to feed yourself. These tiny nutritional superstars come in all shapes, sizes and colors, and need to be a part of your daily diet. Once mainly relegated to health food stores, seeds are being recognized as a wholesome dietary addition offering a wide range of nutrients, textures and flavors. A spoonful or two each day is all you need to reap the vast nutritional benefits they provide in keeping us healthy and possibly decreasing risk of diseases.

Eat Well to Be Well: It’s okay to ‘go nuts’ a little each day

If you feel a little nutty some days, go ahead be that way – as in terms of adding them to your diet. In the past, nuts were often considered taboo – not any more. These nutritional standouts have risen to the top of the good-for-you food list ranking up there with fruits and vegetables as a nutrient dense food. Once considered too high in fat and calories to be good for us, nuts have done a nutritional turnaround. Years of research has turned the once frowned upon indulgence into a nutritional powerhouse and are now encouraged to be added to our daily diet.

Nowadays we know the composition of fat in nuts is a good type of fat which is quite healthy for us. Nuts are rich in the healthy oils of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, along with omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts comes from plants therefore they contain no cholesterol; in addition they are free of trans fats and very low in saturated fat. The healthy fats combined with fiber, phytosterols and flavonoids also found in nuts, all make contributions to lowering blood cholesterol and improving heart health.

Nuts’ high fat and calorie content have made people fearful of weight gain. A half cup of pistachios contains 160 calories while a quarter cup of walnuts or almonds each contain 180 calories. However, no need to abstain as nuts’ high protein and fiber content counteract making us feel full, and studies have shown eating nuts can actually be associated with a reduced risk of weight gain. A medium-sized handful a day is the perfect portion to eat.

Eat Well to Be Well: Food fallacies – separate fact from fiction on diabetes

Diabetes is becoming more of an epidemic than ever. The number of individuals diagnosed and undiagnosed with diabetes is estimated to be at 29.1 million people or 9.3 percent of the population in the United States. We all know of someone with this disease and how hard it can be to follow the pattern of eating meant to keep diabetes in control. Diet, or the way a person eats, is the cornerstone of treating this condition but sometimes there is conflicting advice on how to go about that. Let’s dispel some of those myths regarding diabetes:

Eat Well to Be Well: Dr. Samadi challenges women to take a role in men’s health

Men, when was the last time you’ve had your PSA test done? PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen, which is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland. The PSA test is simply a matter of getting a blood sample to measure the level of PSA in a man’s blood and it is recommended to get a baseline PSA at age 40.

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness month and Dr. David Samadi, chairman of urology and chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, has a Samadi Challenge for all women to encourage the men in their lives to have their PSA levels checked.

“Helping men live longer healthier lives is my passion. Through the years I have realized that if you want to get something done ask a woman to do it,” Dr. Samadi said. “It was with that frame of thought that I launched the Samadi Challenge for Prostate Cancer. By educating women on the importance of having the men in their lives get tested, taking preventative measures such as with their diet, and being open to discussing treatment options if necessary, I believe we can really make an impact on men’s health.”

Eat Well to Be Well: Why zinc and lycopene may help prevent prostate cancer

September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and there’s no better time than now to talk about two nutrients that may possibly reduce your risk of developing this disease. Before we get to that, let’s review facts on prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in American men other than skin cancer. Here are key statistics from the American Cancer Society on prostate cancer for the year 2015:

  • About 220,800 new cases will be diagnosed.
  • About 27,540 deaths will occur.
  • About 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with it during their lifetime.
  • It mainly occurs in older men with the average age at the time of diagnosis around 65.
  • It is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, only behind lung cancer.
  • It is a serious disease, but most men do not die from it and the cure rate is high.

Eat Well to Be Well: Vitamin D – a key to preventing falls in the elderly

We all hope that as we age, our ability to live in our own homes independently is a dream that will be a reality. Unfortunately one of the more common reasons why the elderly have to give up that dream is the increased risk of falling, leading to fractures, disability and loss of independence. However, the sun and a vital nutrient in our food can possibly change that. Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, appears to play a significant role in helping to prevent falls. Studies have shown this fat-soluble vitamin seems to maintain muscle strength, which is critical in preserving confidence in day-to-day activities and lessening the fear of falling that could result in significant physical injury.

The problem of falls in the elderly is common. For people aged 65 or older, one out of every three will experience falling at some point. In 2013, 2.5 million nonfatal falls occurred in elderly adults that often resulted in head traumas, lacerations and hip fractures, and around 25,500 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries. Hip fractures occur at a rate of more than 258,000 each year with over 95 percent being caused by falls. The majority of falls are preventable, and when the elderly have sufficient vitamin D, it could be a major key to help lower this risk.

Eat Well to Be Well: Minimize portion size to maximize weight loss

Over the years, if there was one thing that grew right along with the American public’s waistline, it was the portion size of our food. Or should that statement be reversed?

Either way, as our waistlines and portion sizes expanded, the number of people diagnosed with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension has swelled to epidemic proportions.

Some will say the weight gain is due to not enough exercise or sitting at a desk all day or snacking on processed foods. Those things can certainly be part of the problem, but as a dietitian, I’ve always felt what really got the ball rolling was increasing portion sizes of our food. From the popularity of all-you-can-eat buffets to free refills of soda, trying to keep your weight reasonable while living in an obesity-promoting environment is tough.

“Portion control is arguable the simplest and easiest habit you could adopt as part of a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a healthy weight, especially soon after you’ve lost weight,” said Dr. David B. Samadi, chairman of urology and chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “You know what they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way. The key is to trick your brain into loving portion control.”

The portion size of our food has gotten to the point where most people don’t know what a normal portion size should look like. We just willingly accept that when you place an order for a small pizza for yourself it arrives looking like it could feed a family of four.

Eat Well to Be Well: A prescription for prediabetes – be proactive

We’ve all heard of type 1 or type 2 diabetes, but what about prediabetes? The prevalence of prediabetes is a major problem in this country. It’s estimated 79 million Americans have it, with about 35 percent of adults aged 20 and older and 50 percent of adults aged 65 and older. It is an under diagnosed and under treated condition that is affecting our economy and the cost of medicine. The cost of prediabetes increased by 74 percent to $44 billion from 2007 to 2012 – in 2012, diabetes exceeded $322 billion due to high medical costs and lost productivity. The progression of prediabetes to diabetes needs to be delayed or reversed before it causes major health problems in individuals and collapses our healthcare system.

“Obesity has significantly increased the diagnosis of prediabetes in America,” said Dr. David Samadi, chairman of urology and chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 79 million American adults have prediabetes. As you might guess, prediabetes can develop into diabetes.”

Prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as full-blown type 2 diabetes. There are often no signs or symptoms of prediabetes but if you experience any of the following or other unusual symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor: fatigue, frequent urination, blurred vision, or increased thirst.

Eat Well to Be Well: 6 anti-inflammatory foods to ease rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease affecting about 1.5 million Americans with three times as many women being affected than men. Women often get diagnosed between ages 30 and 60 while men tend to be older when diagnosed. With RA, the body’s immune system attacks the joints of the hands, feet, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles, causing inflammation and resulting in swelling and pain. Over time, it can damage cartilage, causing joints to become unstable, loose, painful and deformed.

“Inflammation is your immune system’s reaction to irritation, injury or infection,” said Dr. David Samadi, chairman of urology and chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “It’s quite a normal response and a natural part of healing. But chronic inflammation for a long period of time has a negative effect on the body and often leads to chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and even arthritis.”

The high levels of inflammation associated with RA not only affect the joints but also can contribute to blood vessel damage leading to heart disease. A Mayo Clinic study found that people with RA have twice the risk of heart disease than the general population. In fact, people with RA have a 60 percent increased risk of a heart attack within one to four years after diagnosis. The combined risk of joint and cardiac problems related to RA make it extremely important to follow an anti-inflammatory diet to reduce inflammation and the health issues associated with it.

“Inflammation is often associated with diseases like cancer and skin conditions but many people are unaware of its effects on the muscles, joints and long-term bone health,” Dr. Samadi said. “The combination of heat, pain, redness and swelling that happens inside the body creates a hostile environment, setting the tone for rheumatoid arthritis to develop.”

Eat Well to Be Well: Protein’s the power in preventing sarcopenia

Sarcopenia – a funny sounding word for a condition that affects 30 percent of people over the age of 60 and 50 percent of people age 80 and older. This word was coined in 1989 by a Dr. Irwin H. Rosenberg and is defined as the involuntary, gradual loss of muscle mass and strength as we age. All of us are at risk no matter our gender, ethnicity or where we live. The effects of sarcopenia can be devastating – increased falls and fractures, frailty, difficulty with walking, decrease in activities and a loss of physical function and independence.

This progressive condition can begin as early as age 30 and can reduce muscle tissue by 3 to 8 percent per decade. Between 50 and 60 years of age, muscle strength declines annually by 1.5 percent and by 3 percent after the age of 60. The muscle we lose as we age is slowly replaced with fat, even if body weight remains unchanged. That’s why even thin people can still have a high percent body fat content if they do little to maintain muscle mass leading to sarcopenia.

Think you can’t spot sarcopenia? It’s easy if you know what to look for. As the muscles weaken and get smaller, we have more difficulty in lifting heavy objects, walking far distances, reaching for something on a high shelf, bending over to pick objects up and a decline in stamina. And we just simply lose our muscle tone. Where we once enjoyed flexing muscles we could see, now they have gotten, well … flabby!

Eat Well to Be Well: Seven ways to rev up your metabolism for weight loss

Have you ever wondered why some people can lose weight effortlessly while others struggle with it their whole lives? For those in the latter, they may blame it on their metabolism.

Metabolism, also known as basal metabolic rate (BMR), or simply metabolic rate, is the rate in which the body uses energy or calories to support keeping you alive – it’s all those involuntary things our bodies do without us even having to think about it – our heart beating, blood circulating, respiration, temperature maintenance, and nerve activity.

If you are someone who has tried numerous diets over the years yet still find it difficult to reach the weight you desire, it’s possible your metabolism might need a bit of a jump start. First realize there are various factors that can affect your metabolism:

Eat Well to Be Well: Don’t suffer in silence with binge eating disorder

Eating disorders, often not discussed, really should warrant more attention and research into the causes, complications, and appropriate treatment, but ideally, prevention before they can begin. These serious, potentially life-threatening conditions affect all aspects of a person’s emotional and physical health and should not be thought of as just a fad.

“This stems from one’s relationship with food,” said Dr. David Samadi, chairman of urology and chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “Eating disorders occur when people have extreme emotional and behavioral issues with food and their weight. Developing an eating disorder can have serious physical and emotional effects on a person, which can even become life-threatening.”

There are many forms an eating disorder can take. Probably the most well-known eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia. However, another eating disorder is actually more common among adults in the United States than anorexia and bulimia combined, affecting both women and men – binge eating disorder.

Eat Well to Be Well: Two nutrients everyone needs for a sharp mind and clear eyesight

When it comes to nutrients protecting and maintaining eye and brain health, there are two words everyone should be familiar with – lutein and zeaxanthin. This twosome are key nutrients that have substantial evidence-based science indicating the role they play in keeping two very important organs – the eyes and the brain – healthy and working their best.

“Eye health is one of the most undervalued but important aspects of our overall health,” said Dr. David Samadi, chairman of urology and chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “It’s important for patients not to neglect their vision health, as eye disorders can be quite debilitating, such as inflammation of the eyelids, blurry vision and even cataracts. There are many things you can do to keep them healthy and make sure you’re seeing your best.”

Eat Well to Be Well: Life after cancer remission – 9 ways to keep the odds in your favor

Surviving cancer is quite a feat and should be commended. The chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, a stem cell transplant or whatever else it took to get in remission is a tough road to follow. When all of that is done and the doctor says “You’re cancer free,” those are probably some of the sweetest words you’ll ever hear.

According to the American Cancer Society, a cancer survivor is someone who has finished active treatment with the goal of prolonging survival and having the highest quality of life possible. Because of increasing awareness, earlier detection and improved treatments, the majority of cancer survivors (64 percent) were diagnosed 5 or more years ago and 15 percent were diagnosed 20 or more years ago.

“Of course, the most positive aspect of cancer remission is the fact that the cancer is gone,” said Dr. David Samadi, chairman of urology and chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “But a good oncologist will help their patients focus on ways to reach an optimal quality of life during any cancer recovery and remission period. Each patient has individual needs and there’s always a slight worry in the back of their mind that the cancer may return.”

But now what? Now that you’re in remission, how do you keep yourself cancer free and reduce the risk of it coming back again?

Eat Well to Be Well: The unsugar-coated truth about high fructose corn syrup

For a substance that’s been in our food supply since the 1970s, it wasn’t until 2004 that it came under intense scrutiny when an article titled “Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity” popped the tab off its relative obscurity. Ever since, high-fructose corn syrup has ridden a not-so-sugary-sweet tidal wave of bitter criticism.

“It seems American food culture is at a real crossroads, because consumers are finding out more and more about the dangers of many of the ingredients in our food, especially processed foods,” said Dr. David Samadi, chairman of urology and chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “The laundry list of ingredients on the back of these packages is incredibly alarming. High fructose corn syrup is one of the most concerning ingredients, and countless studies have shown the effect it can have on the body, especially if highly consumed in one’s diet.”

What is the truth on high-fructose corn syrup? Is it as bad as for our health as some say; why is it in our food supply; what foods contain it; and can it be reduced?

Eat Well to Be Well: Fast food and eating healthy? It’s possible with a little help

Fast food and eating healthy – seems like such a dichotomy doesn’t it? Yet when you realize that every day, 1 in 4 Americans eats at a fast food restaurant and that French fries are the most eaten vegetable in this nation, we need help. Help as in making better, healthier food choices at these restaurants. It’d be nice if we all cut back on our consumption of fast food but reality tends to dictate. Reality being that fast food is still relatively cheap, satisfying and, well, fast – exactly what many people are looking for.

“Fast food is woven into the social fabric of America,” said Dr. David Samadi, chairman of urology and chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City. “We’re living in a country where the economy of food plays a huge role.”

Only one problem though. A recent Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index showed that the percentage of U.S. adults who are obese rose to 27.7 percent in 2014, which is a disappointing upward trend considering that in 2013 the obesity rate was 27.1 percent and in 2008 it was 25.5 percent. The age group where obesity increased the most was among Americans aged 65 and older. Interestingly, the percentage of Americans who are underweight has remained steady at 2.0 percent.

Eat Well to Be Well: Men, have you lost that loving feeling? 6 ways to find it

Okay men, here’s the deal. You’ve reached a certain age, you’ve put on some weight, your cholesterol levels are elevated, your doctor said you’re pre-diabetic, and you are experiencing erectile dysfunction. Which problem do you want to work on first? Uh-huh, that’s what I thought – erectile dysfunction. For men, having erectile dysfunction, is an assault on their manhood and can deflate their libido at the same time.

“Erectile dysfunction is a very real problem,” said Dr. David Samadi, chairman of urology and chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City. “I see hundreds of men in my practice who face this, and it can have a massive impact on their quality of life and their relationships.”

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is defined by the Cleveland Clinic as “the inability to achieve and sustain an erection suitable for sexual intercourse.”

There are several treatments being used to treat ED – we’re all familiar with the medications Cialis and Viagra, then there are mechanical devices that physically pump blood into the penis and psychological counseling if it is stress related.

“The key is not to resort to Viagra, Cialis or Levitra right away, as a knee-jerk reaction for treatment,” said Dr. Samadi.

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