The Whole Truth

With so many nutrition gurus making health claims, deciding food choices can feel like calculus. But research suggests such complexity is unwarranted if most of your diet is whole foods. To simplify, keep these tips in mind on your next grocery trip:

  • Think more about what you should eat and less about what you shouldn’t. Avoid the sliding scale effect — if you have to convince yourself it’s not that bad, it probably is.
  • If the wrapper has to announce nutrition benefits, the product doesn’t qualify as whole. Fruits and vegetables don’t proclaim their nutrients. Neither do whole grains or beans. And while you still need to limit your saturated fat intake, beef and poultry are straightforward, which is far better than processed animal products like sausage, lunchmeat, or bacon.
  • Aim to feast more on Mother Nature’s banquet and less on products passed through a machine. Before you buy, ask yourself: “Did this live or grow at any point?” A bag of marshmallows certainly never sprouted from the ground.
  • Notice ingredients. If they’re difficult to pronounce, they’ll be difficult to digest. Avoid words like enriched, bleached, refined, or hydrogenated, and anything with additives — they indicate processing. White flour products, candy, soda, and frozen, boxed, or fast foods are good examples.


Calorie Control

The biggest factor in a diet is calories in versus calories out; your total calories will determine if you lose or gain weight. Eating too many calories will lead to fat gain. But if you don’t eat enough calories you will not gain lean muscle. Setting a target calorie intake and counting the amount of calories you eat each day is vital to losing fat and gaining lean muscle.

Macronutrient Manipulation

While your total caloric intake is the most important diet factor, the ratio of protein to carbs to fat can dictate whether the weight you gain/lose is muscle or fat. A diet that contains 80% of calories from carbs, 10% from protein, and 10% from fat will produce different results than a diet containing 40% of calories from carbs, 40% from protein, and 20% from fat.

Stay Hydrated

You should drink plenty of water every day. Try to drink at least eight glasses (or 64 oz.) of water per day. The benefits drinking water provides are optimal hydration as well as a feeling of “fullness” without added calories. Sometimes people will mistake thirst for hunger. Because of this, staying hydrated can also prevent overeating.

Quality Control

Choose fresh, wholesome foods over pre-packaged, processed foods. Packaged foods are loaded with preservatives, especially sodium and saturated fats, and often have high amounts of sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup. You will be amazed at how fast you can lose fat just by packing meals from home rather than purchasing fast food or packaged foods. You also will save a lot of money!

Insulin Control

Insulin is the “storage” hormone. When it is secreted fat burning is blunted. By controlling insulin secretion by choosing low GI carbs you can decrease fat gain/increase fat loss. Stable blood sugar levels also improve energy levels and ones mood. All of our diets as based around insulin control, leading to leaner muscle gains with little to no fat gain.

Adequate Protein

In order to gain lean muscle you need to eat enough protein to sustain the creation of new muscle proteins. You may not be used to eating the amount of protein our prescribed diet recommends, but once you get into the groove you should not have any problems and will enjoy how full and satisfied you feel.

Essential Fats

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are vital to the proper functioning on your body. Dietary fats got a bad rap due to the diet fads of the 80’s and 90’s, which promoted eating as little fat as possible, but in reality EFAs are needed by the body and are part of a healthy diet. Eating fats does not equate to getting fat. In fact, most EFAs help support the fat burning process and maintaining a lean body. Do not be scared to eat good fats. EFAs are not the enemy. Also, be sure to supplement with a QUALITY EFA product, such as Scivation Essential FA.

Caffeine Dreams

Many products are loaded with the stuff, but it might not be so bad for you after all. You probably perk up just at the thought of your morning joe or afternoon soda break, but maybe you feel guilty about downing all of that caffeine. Well, you can relax- unless you’re knocking back coffee by the potful, you might not need to kick your caffeine habit.

Caffeine can actually be good for your health

Yes, it’s true! In addition to making you feel more alert, moderate caffeine intake can actually improve your mental and physical performance, research shows. Caffeine might improve your mood, too. A recent analysis of the long-running Nurses Health Study revealed a reduced risk of depression among drinkers of caffeinated – but not decaf – coffee.

Other perks associated with modest caffeine consumption include protection against gallstones and Parkinson’s disease. But of course, there’s a downside to overdoing it. Too much caffeine can cause jitters and tremors and in some susceptible people can trigger a panic attack. Caffeine can increase blood pressure and aggravate heart arrhythmias but that people who consume caffeine regularly develop a tolerance to most of its side effects.

Still, even if you can down several espressos without getting the shakes, that doesn’t mean you should. Over the long term, excessive caffeine intake can cause you to lose more calcium through your urine than non-indulgers; that calcium loss might weaken bones and increase your risk of kidney stones.

Some people need to be more careful about overdoing it

Up to 300 milligrams of caffeine daily is safe for most people. That’s about what you’ll find in three cups of regular coffee. But some people should use extra caution.

  • People with coronary heart disease should have no more than 200 milligrams of caffeine a day, and they should wait to exercise for at least 5 hours after consuming any. That’s because caffeine might reduce blood flow to the heart, which could increase the risk of dizziness, fainting, and heart problems in people whose hearts are already compromised by disease.
  • Osteoporosis sufferers should talk to their doctor about whether caffeine is safe, especially if they take the bone-building drug alendronate (Fosamax and generic) because caffeine can make it less effective.
  • Pregnant women should consume less than 200 milligrams daily. Higher doses are linked to low birth weights in babies. One study found that drinking more than five cups of coffee daily increased the risk of spontaneous abortion.
  • People with anxiety, heart palpitations, tremors, headaches, or sleeplessness might want to cut back on caffeine to see whether it helps reduce their symptom.

Children are affected more easily than adults

In 2010, of the 3,328 calls to U.S. poison centers about a caffeine product, 62 percent were for people 19 or younger. One culprit, according to government health officials, is energy drinks. The hypercaffeinated beverages – with names like Amp, Monster, Red Bull, and Rockstar – are marketed to appeal to kids and teens, and some can contain more than three times as much caffeine per serving as colas.

The maximum amount of caffeine children and adolescents can safely consume is 100 milligrams daily according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Kids who overdo it risk sleep problems, harm to developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems, and even seizures and death.

It’s not easy to know how much caffeine you’re getting

You might think you’re getting about the same amount no matter what, but coffee-shop offerings vary widely, and so do other similar products. For example, a venti (20-ounce) Starbucks Bold Pick of the Day contains a pulse-revving 415 milligrams of caffeine – 70 percent more than the same size cup of Dunkin Donuts regular coffee.

To make matters worse, manufacturers don’t have to disclose the amount of caffeine in a product. They just have to tell whether it has been added, as in colas or energy drinks. Caffeine that occurs naturally in chocolate, tea, or botanical ingredients such as guarana or taurine doesn’t have to be listed.

If you don’t see caffeine info on a label, check the company’s website or contact customer service.

Caffeine is technically not addictive, really!

But it is tough to kick, you can clearly become physically dependent on caffeine, but that isn’t the same thing as addiction, in which you have a compulsion to use a substance and can’t easily quit even if you need or want to. But you are still likely to experience withdrawal symptoms such as headache and tiredness if you stop cold turkey.

To cut back without feeling miserable, do it slowly. If you’re a coffee drinker, swap part of your regular brew for decaf and gradually increase the decaf. Try replacing highly caffeinated drinks with lower-caf tea.

Java junkies can now blame their genes

Caffeine consumption is linked to two genes – one that governs the desire to consume caffeine and one that determines how it’s metabolized – according to recent analyses of the human genome. That’s probably why some people crave caffeine more than others or can drink coffee after dinner and sleep like a baby.

One way to cut back Order iced coffee in the same size as your regular cup. The more ice, the less caffeine.

How much caffeine?

The nutrition pros took a look at some widely sold foods, drinks, and other products to see how caffeinated they really are. Finding the amounts of caffeine lurking inside wasn’t always easy, which is why it’s tricky to monitor how much caffeine you’re taking in. they looked at labels and websites and called manufacturers when info wasn’t otherwise available. What they found was eye-opening: There can be big differences among very similar products such as cups of coffee, varieties of tea, and cans of soda. They also found caffeine in some places you’d never think to look, like beef jerky and lip balm.

Source: ShopSmartMag

DIY Doctor – Health Screenings

You can test almost anything at home, but should you?

When you feel a weird ache or other mysterious symptom, you want to know right away what’s causing it. That’s why we’re so quick to Google symptoms or grab kinds of self-screening diagnostic and monitoring kits at drugstores and online – and they can seem like a fast, private way to find out what’s going on with your body. But they’re not always a good idea, even though the Food and Drug Administration requires companies to demonstrate that their home tests are safe and effective. Also, a home test should never replace a doctor’s visit. ShopSmart reviewed the latest research and consulted with experts to find out which ones make sense, and which ones don’t.


Blood Glucose Test

Who it’s for People with type 1 diabetes (The benefits are less clear for people with type 2 diabetes)

Why it works Regular readings can help patients adjust their diet, exercise, and insulin doses. That reduces the risk of health problems that stem from poorly controlled blood sugar, including blindness and nerve damage.

Price $20 for the Accu-Check Compact Plus, which topped the most recent tests.

Blood-Pressure Test

Who it’s for People with high or borderline-high blood pressure

Why it works Doing several readings over a week is the best way to stay on top of the condition. Another benefit: no risk of “white coat hypertension”, or elevated readings at your doctor’s office because of nerves.

Price Top-rated in the latest tests: the 7 series BP652 wrist monitor ($60) and the Omron 10 Series BP785 arm monitor ($80).

Fecal Occult Blood Test

Who it’s for Adults 50 and older, 45 and older for African-Americans; 40 for people with a family history of polyps or colon cancer

Why it works This test, which should be done annually between routine colonoscopies, can be even more effective than an in-office test. That’s mainly because the office test analyzes only one stool sample; the FDA and medical experts recommend three tests over a day or two.

Price Around $10 for the EZ Detect Fecal Occult Blood Test

HIV Test

Who it’s for Sexually active adults who aren’t in a long-term, monogamous relationship

Why it works If you’re shy about asking your doc for one, a home kit let you keep it private

Price $44 for the Home Access HIV test, the only one approved by the FDA

Yeast-Infection Test

Who it’s for Women who may have the condition

Why it works The test measures vaginal pH and can detect an infection but can’t necessarily tell what kind it is. Sometimes infection can be treated with an over-the-counter drug. But see a doc if symptoms don’t improve.

Price $17 for the Vagisil kit


HBA1C Test

Who it’s for People with diabetes (type 1 or type 2)

Why you should skip it This test measures glycated hemoglobin, or HbA1c, an indicator of average blood glucose over the previous two to three months. That can be a useful tool for managing diabetes. But “there’s nothing the patient can do with the results at home”. Better to have it done in your doctor’s office, along with tests to monitor kidney function, blood pressure, circulation, and other measures of health.
Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) Test

Who it’s for Women in perimenopause

Why you should skip it If you’re having irregular periods, hot flashes, or other symptoms associated with menopause, checking for an increase in FSH in your urine can help confirm that menopause is underway. But even if yoru FSH level is high and you’re in perimenopause, you are still ovulating intermittently and can still become pregnant.

Cholesterol Test

Who it’s for People who are monitoring their cholesterol

Why you should skip it Your total cholesterol reading – which includes HDL (good) and LDL (bad) numbers – is only one of several factors doctors use to determine whether to prescribe a cholesterol-lowering statin drug. Unlike blood glucose and blood pressure, cholesterol levels don’t change much from day to day and don’t require frequent dosage adjustments.

C-Reactive Protein Test

Who it’s for People looking for any signs of heart disease

Why you should skip it C-reactive protein is a marker of inflammation that’s linked to rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and coronary artery disease. But the tests can be hard to read and haven’t proved to be effective.

Urinary-Tract Infection Test

Who it’s for People who suspect they have the condition

Why you should skip it Home-test results are helpful only if your doctor is willing to call in a prescription for antibiotics without seeing you, which many are not.

Workstation Safety

It is accepted that there are risks associated with working at computers.

As a result regulations and guidelines have been introduced to control these risks, and to provide computer users with information that will help them reduce or avoid their exposure to these risks.

How can you be at risk from your workstation?

There are three main risks to your health associated with working at a computer.

  • Musculoskeletal problems

Musculoskeletal problems are commonly referred to as Repetitive Stress Injury or RSI, and are also known as Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). They show up as discomfort in your muscles or tendons and can occur in different parts of your body, such as

your back



 your neck and shoulders


 your arms and hands




Common signs and symptoms of RSIs are:

limited range of motion

What causes RSI?

Computer Use How much you use the computer
Insufficient Breaks Whether you take enough breaks
Speed and Intensity How intensely and quickly you work at the computer
Posture and Workstation Ergonomics Your posture, and the ergonomics of your workstation setup
Discomfort Previous problems with musculoskeletal or eye discomfort from using the computer
Psychosocial Factors Your workload, work pressures and stress levels
Individual Factors Your age, physical fitness and personal health

Eye-related problems

Using a computer monitor can contribute to various eye-related problems. Some of the common problems are:

blurred vision
sore eyes

Fatigue and stress

Any element of your workstation that is not set up properly may cause stress.

Stress leads to physical tension, which in turn leads to fatigue.
A fatigued person is vulnerable to further stress… …and therefore susceptible to problems arising from poor health due to stress.
…and therefore susceptible to problems arising from poor health due to stress.

Psychosocial Factors

Pressures at work which can cause stress are known as Psychosocial Factors.

Some examples of potential work stressors are:

job dissatisfaction
perception of your workload
perceived lack of support from your supervisor or colleagues

Individual Factors

Also important are Individual Factors which vary with each person. For example:

  • your overall health
  • your physical fitness level
  • Muscle Fatigue

No posture, however correct, should be maintained for long periods of time.

Using a computer requires your body be in a mostly “static” posture (not moving). This reduces blood flow to your muscles and can cause muscle fatigue.

Muscle fatigue can in turn cause discomfort and is a risk factor for RSI.

To avoid this, change your posture regularly and take breaks.

Medical Emergency?

You’re sick or hurt; what do you do? These guidelines can help you decide whether you need the paramedics — or just a pair of tweezers.

Call 911 if… you or someone else has trouble breathing; crushing chest pain; severe bleeding; signs of stroke, heart attack, or shock; or a fall causing immobility or head trauma.

Go to the ER if… the concern requires immediate attention or possible hospitalization, like appendicitis symptoms, extremely high fever, dehydration, eye injuries, or infections that need intravenous (IV) treatment. The CDC estimates that only 12% of emergency room visits are warranted. Take advantage of a nurse hotline to decide. If you choose the ER, be prepared for long waits and high costs.

Check in at an urgent care facility if… it’s clear your condition isn’t life threatening, but it’s after hours or your physician is booked for the week. Some problems may include strep throat, broken fingers, or lacerations. Call ahead — clinics vary in the services they offer. While some perform EKGs, blood tests, and X-rays, others just handle patient exams and prescriptions.

Stay home if… your doctor’s given the green light. Most flus, stomach bugs, light sprains, and noninfected cuts can be cared for with fluids, ice, ointment, and band-aids.

The rule of thumb: When in doubt, call 911 for emergencies, otherwise your doctor.