Low-fat, plant-based vegan diet 'may reduce heart disease risk' in obese children

Low-fat, plant-based vegan diet 'may reduce heart disease risk' in obese children
At the end of the 4-week diet plans, the researchers found the children and adolescents who followed the plant-based diet showed major improvements in body mass index (BMI), weight, mid-arm circumference, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, …
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Diet Plans for 2015: The Best Ways To Lose Weight In The New Year
Approaching your annual New Year's weight loss resolutions might feel daunting, especially if you've had limited success in reaching previous years' goals. One way of getting yourself motivated to tackle these resolutions is to find a diet plan that …
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Low Vitamin D: A Global Concern

Recent studies suggest that vitamin D is much more important in fighting off disease than previously thought. Being deficient in this vitamin puts one at risk of diseases such as cancer, osteoporosis, and multiple sclerosis. Chances are that if you live in a northerly geographic region you do not get enough vitamin D. Persons who live a rather sedentary lifestyle and do not get outside for at least a 15-minute daily walk in the sun are in the same position. Latinos, African-Americans and others with dark skin tend to have much lower levels of vitamin D, as do people who are overweight or obese. All around the world millions of persons suffer from vitamin D deficiency. This phenomenon is so common that it affects persons on every continent, of all ethnic groups, and across all ages. Some surveys suggest that perhaps half of the world’s population has inadequate blood levels of vitamin D. Sadly, physicians, even in industrialized countries, are seeing the resurgence of rickets, the bone-weakening disease that had been largely eradicated through vitamin D fortification.

As with most research findings, there is plenty of debate. Indeed, as opposed to what many people think, there are few certainties in science; its nature is to be open to criticism, discussion, and revision. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report in November 2010 which recommends a daily vitamin D intake of 600 IU per day, for people ages 1 to 70, and 800 IU, for people over age 70—the report referred to persons living in the U.S. and Canada. The report also recognized the safety of vitamin D by increasing the upper limit from 2,000 to 4,000 IU per day, and acknowledged that even at 4,000 IU per day, there was no good evidence of harm.

Some in the scientific community believe the new guidelines are too conservative about the intake, and that they do not give due consideration to the latest findings about vitamin D and health. They contend that the new guidelines are not enough to prevent chronic disease, and they are not sufficient to help those who have problems with their bones. This is an important debate, and in order to understand it better it is necessary to know the origins of vitamin D and how it functions in the human body.

Vitamin D Sources and Function

Our body makes vitamin D and it is also a nutrient we eat. The body produces vitamin D from cholesterol, which itself is triggered by sun lighting on the skin. Yet many persons do not make enough vitamin D from the sun, persons with darker skin, those who are overweight, and persons who use products that block sunlight being among them. Correctly applied sunscreen reduces our ability to absorb vitamin D by more than 90 percent.

To be sure, not all sunlight is of the same quality and intensity: The sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays—the so-called “tanning” rays, and the rays that trigger the skin to produce vitamin D—are stronger near the equator and weaker at higher latitudes. Indeed, persons who live in places prone to considerable cloudiness and rain can suffer from vitamin D deficiency. The other way we get vitamin D is to eat food that contains a lot of it. However, few foods are naturally rich in vitamin D, so the biggest dietary sources of vitamin D are fortified foods and vitamins supplements.

Vitamin D helps the body absorb and retains calcium and phosphorus, which are critical elements for building bone. Laboratory studies show that vitamin D can reduce cancer cell growth, can increase muscle strength, and can help control infections. There may yet be other functions for vitamin D, and scientists continue to explore the many other uses for this important substance.

New Vitamin D Research: Beyond Building Bones

Vitamin D research has proved to be of considerable fecundity. Although there have been many reports issued over the years, there are only a few that offer enough evidence to constitute a clear medical breakthrough. Here we provide the more promising areas of vitamin D research, highlighting the complex role of vitamin D in disease prevention—and the many unanswered questions that remain.

Vitamin D and Bone and Muscle Strength

A number of random trials have shown that high doses of vitamin D supplements help reduce bone fractures. A summary of the evidence comes from a combined analysis of 12 fracture prevention trials that included more than 40,000 elderly people, most of them women. Researchers found that high intakes of vitamin D supplements—of about 800 IU per day—reduced hip and non-spine fractures by over 20 percent, while lower intakes (400 IU or less) failed to offer any fracture prevention benefit.

It has been shown that vitamin D may also help increase muscle strength, which can help prevent elderly persons from falling, a common problem that leads to increased rates of disability and death among them. A combined meta-analysis found that taking 700 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day lowered the risk of falls by 19 percent; the combined studies also show that taking 200 to 600 IU per day offered no such protection. Based on this data, the International Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that adults over age 60 maintain vitamin D blood levels of 30ng/ml. This means that most people will need vitamin D supplements of at least 800 to 1,000 IU per day, and possibly higher, to reach these levels.

Vitamin D and Heart Disease

The heart, as a skeletal muscle, is a receptor of vitamin D. A number of studies have found that lack of vitamin D is linked to heart disease. The Health Professional Follow-Up Study observed the vitamin D blood levels in nearly 50,000 men who were healthy. They followed the same group for 10 years and found that men who were low in vitamin D were twice as likely to have a heart attack as men who had adequate levels of vitamin D. Other studies have linked low vitamin D levels to an increased of heart failure, sudden cardiac death, stroke, overall cardiovascular disease, and cardiovascular death. There is some evidence that vitamin D plays a vital role in controlling blood pressure and preventing artery damage. This goes some ways in explaining the findings above. However, more research is needed before a sounder conclusion can be made.

Vitamin D and Cancer

Nearly 30 years ago, researchers discovered an interesting correlation between colon cancer deaths and geographic location. They found that people who lived at higher latitudes, such as in the northern U.S. or Canada, had higher rates of death from colon cancer than people who lived closer to the equator. The sun’s UVB rays are weaker at higher latitudes, and in turn, people’s vitamin D levels in these high latitude locales tend to be lower. Researchers formed the hypothesis that vitamin D deficiency can lead to an increased risk for getting colon cancer

Some time has passed, but dozens of studies suggest a relationship does exist between low vitamin D levels and increased risks of colon and other cancers. The evidence is strongest for colorectal cancer, with observational studies have found that persons with lower vitamin D levels are at higher risk of getting such diseases. Vitamin D levels may also predict cancer survival, but there is as yet little evidence to support this. However, it is not yet certain that taking vitamin D supplements necessarily lowers the risk of contracting cancer. This latter idea will be tested in the VITAL trial. The VITAL trial will look specifically at whether vitamin D supplements lower cancer risk. However, it is likely to be years before the trial produces any results. Additionally, the VITAL trial could fail to detect a real benefit of vitamin D. There are several reasons for this. First, if people in the placebo group decide to take their own vitamin D supplements, the differences between the placebo group and the supplement group could be minimized. Second, the study may not follow participants for a long enough time to show a cancer prevention benefit; or study participants may be starting supplements too late in life to lower their cancer risk.

In any case, given the evidence now on hand, 16 scientists have circulated a “call for action” on vitamin D and cancer prevention. Given the high rates of vitamin D inadequacy in North America, the strong evidence for reduction of osteoporosis and fractures, the potential cancer-fighting benefits of vitamin D, and the low risk of vitamin D supplementation, these scientists recommend vitamin D supplementation of 2,000 IU per day. The Canadian Cancer Society has also recommended that Canadian adults consider taking vitamin D supplements of 1,000 IU per day during the fall and winter. They also recommend that people who are at high risk of having low vitamin D levels because of old age, dark skin, or geographic location take vitamin D supplements year round.

Obesity: An Expanding Clinical Crisis

400 million obese people worldwide and growing. In recent decades, the consequences of obesity have drastically shifted from a social and cosmetic issue to a serious epidemiological and clinical concern. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are at least 400 million obese people worldwide with nearly 20% of the worlds obese residing in the United States. If present trends continue, by 2015 this population could exceed 700 million people globally.

76 million obese people in the US, or one in three adult Americans. Within the United States, the last 30 years brought a dramatic increase in the obese population. In 1980 a National health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) estimated that 14% of US adults were obese. As of 2004, nearly one in three adult Americans suffered from obesity, with two in three adult Americans being categorized as wither overweight or obese.

The children are our future – and it is NOT pretty. The trends become even more frightening when we see the prevalence of overweight children rising to 17% in 2004 from 5% in 1980. Larger, fattier meals combined with a more sedentary lifestyle are poised to produce damaging and potentially deadly effects. Those who are overweight an obese carry higher risks for serious co-morbidities such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, physiological changes that predispose adults to become obese.

Obesity will have a significant burden on our healthcare system. With the numerous complications associated with weight gain, these numbers highlight the colossal burden that will be placed on healthcare systems of all developed and developing countries, unless action is taken. The direct and indirect annual cost of obesity to the system in the US is already in excess of $200 billion.

Defining the obese patient

The most common formula used in classifying a person as obese or overweight is the Body Mass Index (BMI), which is weight/height2 (kg/m2). The clinical guidelines are as follows:

  • Underweight: BMI < 18.5
  • Normal: BMI between 18.5 – 24.9
  • Overweight: BMI between 25.0 – 29.9
  • Obesity, Class 1: BMI between 30.0 – 34.9
  • Obesity, Class 2 or Clinically Obese: BMI between 35.0 – 39.9
  • Obesity, Class 3 or Morbidly Obese: BMI between > 40
  • Obesity, Class 4 or Super Obese: BMI > 50

Once patients have been defined by a clinical classification of obesity, they can be given more appropriate care depending upon the severity of the condition. Also, with all of the complications stemming from weigh gain, the four different classes of obesity (obese, clinically obese, morbidly obese, and super obese) provide healthcare professionals with a more specific treatment algorithm to address the varying risks for developing co-morbidities.

Benchmarking patient progress

BMI is not perfect, but it is the best yardstick we have. While BMI has proven to be the best way to classify patients, it still has some flaws because it does not directly measure fat. What this means is that a person could be a lean 6’2 couch potato of the same weight.

Success is measured differently for devices and drugs. In order for researchers and patients to effectively compare results of different fat reduction therapies, there are a couple of metrics used for comparison:

  • Percentage excess weight loss (%EWL) reduction has become a common benchmark for surgical procedures and medical devices. The calculation is (weight loss) / (excess weight) X 100. Excess weight is defined as the difference between the actual weight and the “ideal weight”, based on an individual’s height and the weight that they would need to have in order to yield a BMI of 25. For example, a 6’ person weighing 300lbs would have a BMI of 41 (Morbidly Obese) and be carrying approximately an extra 115lbs. Weight loss of 60 pounds would result in a %EWL of 52% (60/115).
  • Percentage weight loss is a metric more used by diet, exercise, and drug therapies. It is calculated by (weight loss) / (original weight) X 100. Alternatively, a 6’ person weighing 300lbs and losing 60lbs would be reported as 20% weight loss.

Weight Control Puzzle

Not only is weight control difficult, it’s not even fair. We are different in genetic makeup, age, gender, physical activity, medical problems and emotional health.

Heredity and Environment
If members of your family are overweight (10-19 percent over ideal weight) or obese (20 percent or more over ideal weight), you are 20-30 percent more likely to become overweight or obese than someone who does not have a family history of weight problems. If a mother is heavy, there is a 75 percent chance that her children will be heavy. If she’s thin, her children are likely to be thin, also.

Genetics is a factor, but the biggest health risk is that people use it as an excuse to deal with the problem. Other people have predispositions to diabetes, cancer or heart disease, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t do everything they can to prevent or delay the onset of a family problem.

Research is finding out that genetics is playing a bigger role than we thought. Studies of identical twins who grew up in separate places have shown great similarities in body shape and weight. Our body shapes (round, angular or athletic) can reflect our capacities to store fat. There is also evidence that people burn calories at different rates, but again, this should not be used as an excuse.

Even though there may be some metabolic predisposition to being overweight, environmental factors are just as important. Some people have just learned to eat too much. Studies comparing portion sizes show that Americans put a lot more food on their plates than Europeans and the sizes in the United States are getting bigger.

Doctor believes that obesity is determined partly by genes (30 percent) and the rest by environment (70 percent). People’s genes haven’t changed since 1930, but now more people are fat. We eat more food, more fat, more sugar, and we don’t exercise.

As we get older, the amount of lean muscle tissue decreases. That makes fat account for a greater percentage of total weight. At the same time, our rates of metabolism slow down with age. These factors can combine to add pounds, and, if the person also reduces the amount of exercise, the three changes make weight gain likely.

Men have more muscle tissue than women, while women have comparatively more fat tissue than men. Because of those differences and because men have a higher resting metabolic rate than women, men may expend 10 percent to 20 percent more calories than women at rest. Women may have to exercise longer and harder than men to lose the same amount of weight.

Nutrition experts emphasize the importance of exercise and its relationship to being overweight. Inactivity does not always cause obesity, but overweight people are less likely to be physically active than people of normal body weight. Which problem comes first is not clear. The effect of exercise is an individual consideration, but it is still a vital component of a total weight control program. Even if a person knows that exercise is necessary, he or she may need further education, physical skills or simply enough time to participate in a program.

Health Problems
Although health problems are frequently blamed for being overweight, the truth is that less than five percent of all obesity is related to metabolic or hormonal imbalances.

With all of the talk about genetics, body types and family history, does will power have anything to do with weight control? Yes, people exhibit discipline in all sorts of physical behaviors — exercising, resting, refusing to use drugs, abstaining from alcohol. Overeating is no different. We may have individual needs, but the ability to show nutritional discipline is another part of the weight control puzzle.

Dieter’s Nutrition

Every year, more and more Americans become overweight – even obese. This unfortunate trend has been linked to a growing number of health issues, including potentially fatal cardiovascular diseases and weakness of limbs and organs. Many people have a difficult time losing weight and then keeping it off – but with the right diet and exercise program, you truly have the ability to make your body significantly healthier.

There are many popular diets. There are diets that recommend decreasing consumption of fats, diets that restrict eating carbohydrates while increasing protein consumption, and diets that carefully balance intake of the different food groups. Interestingly, different people find success with different diets. It is important to find a diet that works for you. Yet the most reliable way to lose weight is the tried-and-true method of decreasing total calorie consumption while increasing the number of calories burned, through exercise and other physical activity. (If you find that your diet-and-exercise plan has no effect after a month of true, prevailing effort, see a fellowship-trained anti-aging practitioner who can look at other possible issues, such as thyroid dysfunction, allergies, gut health, and insulin resistance.

However, good nutrition is as key an aspect of losing weight as cutting calories and intensifying exercise sessions. Being overweight can be dangerous to your health and well-being, but dropping pounds without continued consumption of the proper nutrients can be just as unhealthy. At the same time, these supplements will provide you with the energy you need to successfully continue your diet.

Supplements to take while dieting

• Alpha-lipoic acid
• Ashwagandha root
• Carnitine
• Chromium
• Coenzyme Q10
• Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
• Eleuthero – Do not use if you have a history of heart disease
• Flaxseed oil
• Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA)
• Green tea extract
• Multi-vitamin
• N-acetylcysteine (NAC)
• Selenium
• Vitamin E
• Zinc

USANA RESET program is not about starvation. It is a nutritionally balanced, low-calorie system to help you lose the first few pounds and find the motivation to keep working toward your total weight-loss goal. USANA Reset helps you maintain your ideal weight. Replace your meal with a USANA Nutrimeal shake and eat the low-glycemic meals. Eat USANA bar as a snack. Take USANA vitamins Supplements like USANA Essentials or USANA HealthPak.

Activities and Habits that increase exposure to toxins

Although the human body has the ability to neutralize and eliminate many toxins, an overload of toxic substances can overwhelm the organs of detoxification. One way to prevent his overload is to avoid or minimize the following practices.

• Drinking tap water
• Excessive consumption of processed foods and fats
• Excessive consumption of caffeine
• Excessive consumption of alcohol
• Tobacco use
• Recreational drug use
• Chronic use of medication(s)
• Lack of exercise
• Occupational or other exposure to pesticides, paints, and other toxic substances without adequate protective equipment
• Living or working near areas of high traffic or industrial plants