Friday, February 26, 2016

Fiber is Your Friend

Dietary fiber is not exciting, but it is important.  Research shows adequate fiber intake is an essential part of health for more reasons than ever.  The average American diet includes 10- 14 gm of fiber from food, but recommended amounts are double that: 25 to 38 grams daily.  

There are two types of fiber; soluble and insoluble.  Soluble fiber is found in greater amounts in oats, dried cooked beans and peas, fruit and psyllium husk (the fiber used in Metamucil® products).  Insoluble fiber is found in greater amounts in whole grains and vegetables.
Increasing fiber helps ease constipation, because of its primary effect of increasing stool size and weight.  But do you know other ways fiber affects your health?
Weight Loss
Two recent studies show that increasing fiber is a simple method to help encourage weight loss.

Lower Cholesterol and Inflammation Levels
Soluble fiber has been shown to help the body lower the “bad” cholesterol level, and reduce the risk of heart disease development.  Insoluble fiber intake is also linked to lower levels of heart disease.  Both types lower inflammation levels in the body, which may help other chronic diseases as well, such as arthritis.

Protection Against Diabetes, Stroke and Cancer
The DASH diet- which is proven to lower blood pressure & so reduce stroke risk, is a high fiber diet. The Ornish Diet, which has been proven to actually reverse heart disease and type 2 diabetes, is a high fiber diet.  Research published in January 2016 links higher fiber intake as a teen to a lower risk of breast cancer later in life.

How to Increase Fiber

  1. Gradually.  Add one high fiber food every few days, as the body needs to get used to the increased intake slowly.
  2. Drink extra water when you add fiber, as the fiber needs to absorb fluid to do its work.
  3. Compare labels. Buy higher fiber breads and cereals and look for whole grain as the first ingredient.
  4. Eat whole fruits rather than juice or canned fruit.
  5. Eat a large serving (1 to 2 cups) of vegetables every supper meal.
  6. Add dried cooked beans to your meals. Beans contribute 7-9 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup.  Eating a small amount of beans regularly will help the body adjust and decrease any gassy side effects.

Call Topeka Pharmacy if you would like a table of the fiber in foods or for high-fiber recipes.  We are here to help!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Why Exercise is Not the Key to Weight Loss

When I owned a small fitness center, people would come in to join and often say “I joined to lose weight.”  If they were not interested in understanding how to change their eating habits also, invariably they would not have any success, feel discouraged and stop coming in to exercise.

Exercise cannot undo overeating
It is a fact that exercising alone is linked to only small amounts of weight loss in most studies. The fact behind this is based on simple math: We can easily eat 500 extra calories in 1 piece of cake or pie or other dessert.  To use up 500 extra calories, most of us would need to walk an extra 5 miles (10,000 steps). 
I know very few people, including myself, who walk 5 miles a day in addition to our normal activities.  Yet I know a lot of people who eat dessert or other high calorie foods (pop, chips, fries, ice cream) almost every day. 
In fact, most Americans eat more calories than we burn up every day, evidenced by the fact that most of us continue to gain weight every year.

Exercise is essential for health
While exercise alone will not cause weight loss, it does have benefits which are essential for human health.  Walking or other aerobic activity improves the metabolic health of the body.  It helps avoid high blood pressure, avoid insulin resistance leading to diabetes, and helps the heart stay stronger.
Strength training keeps the muscles from wasting away slowly as we age and lead sedentary lives.  Muscle keeps us physically strong, and as we age, helps us keep our independence to live alone safely.
This metabolic health and physical strength causes a feeling of well-being and provides a higher quality of life.

Exercise increases metabolism and helps keep muscle during weight loss
A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that young men who were put on a low calorie, high protein diet while exercising vigorously 6 days weekly, not only lost weight and body fat, but actually gained muscle.  On the other hand, research shows when dieting without exercise, people lose muscle as well as fat.
A pound of muscle burns more calories than a pound of fat.  Losing muscle will slow the metabolism.  But if we can gain muscle while we lose weight, we will set ourselves up for keeping the weight off.
If we diet alone without exercise, studies have shown that we will lose muscle and gain all the weight back once we stop dieting.

Exercise is the key to keeping weight off
So if you want to lose weight and keep the weight off, exercise is essential to add to the dietary changes you are working on.  The guidelines for all adults are to include 150 minutes weekly of aerobic activity and 2 days weekly of strength training.  If you combine this with working to eat less junk food, eat out less often and add fruits and vegetables, you should see some positive changes and feel a lot better as well!