Saturday, October 21, 2006

Healthy Eating Habits

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Healthy Eating Habits

I read a lot about the topics of health and especially diets. I have been experimenting with diets since 1990 and keep journals about my observations. Over time I tried several very different diets - ranging from the politically correct ones to highly controversial, along with diets of my own design. My general observation is that a healthy diet plays an essential role in the overall scheme of well being.

Why eat healthy?

Eating the natural foods humans are well adapted at utilizing, enhances ones ability to cope with the reality of every day life. This in essence improves the probability of living a longer, healthier life. Quality food consumption becomes especially important in the present world of high stress and pollution - making a healthy diet an essential aspect of modern self health care. (Although food is not the only aspect contributing to health or disease, it is significant enough to consider it's effects seriously.)

I think anybody who seriously tried living healthier through a better diet, proper physical activity, adequate rest, and by addressing mental and spiritual factors have experienced a vast range of natural health benefits. Common benefits are overall better health and a sense of well being, better sleep, improved physical endurance and strength, sharper mental abilities and lower sleep requirements. Further more, no or little time and money and energy is spend on doctors, hospitals and health insurance bills.

What is a healthy diet?

Since this article deals with healthy eating, a question remains to be answered: what constitutes a healthy diet? Unfortunately, there are more opinions about this than there are health experts. To further complicate the matter, dietary concepts change over time, leaving most people confused and uncertain about what or whom to trust. One solution to this problem is to become sufficiently knowledgeable about the relevant subjects and rely on common sense to draw basic conclusions. Along with personal experimentation, such an approach will enable one to establish healthy eating habits. This takes time and energy, but considering the long lasting benefits a healthy diet can provide, the effort is more then well worth it.

In order to determine the minimal basic requirements of a healthy diet, I concluded that it is safe to start with the following two objectives:

1. examine human diet over time - the foods humans consumed since the arrival of our species.
2. examine diets of ethnical groups known for their good health.

Looking at the type of diets humans lived on through out pre-history, provides good insights into the kind of foods human body should be well adapted at utilizing and dealing with. Further, the diets of certain ethnical groups that are well known for good health - the people of Okinawa(Japan), traditional cultures in the Mediterranean region and many hunter-gatherer societies - suggest certain health promoting dietary habits. Upon closer examination, two main denominators emerged:

* diets are based on natural, whole or minimally processed foods in accordance to heritage.
* diets are lower in calories compared to a typical western diet.

In the context of present time, one can therefore make two general assumptions in regard to the question of what constitutes a healthy diet: 1) generally, the less a food is processed the better. 2) eat less - eat what is adequate, do not over eat.

Generally, the less a food is processed the better

The reason for this is simple. For 99.9% of human existence, our species lived on foods that were either raw or minimally processed. The technology needed to increase food processing did not exist until very recently. It is therefore reasonable to assume that our bodies are best adapted at utilizing and dealing with the raw or minimally processed foods which sustained us for hundreds of thousands of years: fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts and seeds.

Often, the more recent the food is, the more likely it is to be less beneficial or even directly harmful - possibly due to lack of full adaptation to such foods. For example, it is estimated that food cooking started about 500 000 - 250 000 years ago (depending on the source, the range may vary). During this time frame, it is likely that human species have at least adapted in some way to cooked animal and vegetable foods. On the other hand, the beginnings of grain consumption are much more recent. Evidence of earliest known, systematical collecting of grains for food goes back to about 23 000 years ago - giving less time for adaptation to grain based foods.

Now, let's fast forward to recent times and consider all the new, human invented, highly processed foods so common today: fast foods, pizza, sweets, chips, convenience foods, canned foods, etc. along with the dramatic rise in heart attacks, high blood pressure, stroke, cancers, diabetes, kidney problems (and all the complications that arose from these conditions) during the past 100 years or so.

Considering the declining health of most western nations as opposed to good health of the ethnical groups described above, it seems reasonable that the most recent food inventions are directly harmful to human health. Further, it has been repeatedly observed that as ethnical groups around the world adopt the modern western diet, their health dramatically declines and they develop the same diseases that are so common to westerners. Not to mention the fact that the above mentioned diseases were far less common among westerners themselves barely 100 years ago.

The more a food is processed - through excessive cooking, pasteurization, homogenization, high heat, mechanical processing, etc, - the less natural and nutritious it becomes to a point of becoming a harmful burden to the body, rather then a useful and health promoting food. Some industrial processing practices deprive food of their nutrients to such a high degree that the food has to be "enriched" by artificially adding some nutrients back into the food. This is especially true of flours where vitamins are added back in after the processing is done.

A good diet is based on natural, whole or minimally processed foods. A large portion of it should consist of foods that can be eaten raw, such as fruits and vegetables. Fermented or cultured, unpasteurized foods such as kefir, yogurt, cheeses, miso, sauerkraut and pickles are considered highly beneficial. Cooking should be minimal and only applied to foods that must be cooked in order to be edible. Ancestral heritage also plays an important role as certain foods may need to be excluded or emphasized.

Eat less - eat what is adequate, do not over eat

During the past several decades, food in the western and westernized nations became increasingly affordable and more readily available then ever before in human history. This very fact combined with the enjoyment food consumption brings, results in all too frequent over eating. Which again leads to the above mentioned health problems.

In the past, as in the traditional way of living among the ethnical groups mentioned earlier, food consumption has always been significantly lower. Food quality, on the other hand, has always been higher. Resulting in a lower food intake, but of nutrient dense foods.

Finally, as an interesting note, it has been repeatedly confirmed through laboratory experiments on animals, including monkeys, that cutting down calories considerably lowers their susceptibility to diseases and prolongs their life up to 50%. It is believed by many, that life long caloric restriction can have similar effects on humans.

Health promoting eating habits

Over time, through reading and experimenting, I gradually arrived at several basic health promoting habits that in my experience are the most important:

Avoid or minimize:

* Avoid all junk, sweets, canned and convenience foods - including all foods with added sugar: most commercial yogurts, kefirs and juices, fruit and soft drinks.

* Avoid all refined or overly heated fats: margarine, any oil that is not cold pressed, leftover fat from cooking, all foods that contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats and trans fatty acids (read the labels). Such fats are considered to be among the most health damaging foods.

* Avoid consumption of fish and water animals unless certain they came from unpolluted waters. Especially predators should be avoided as the toxins accumulate in them in far greater quantities.

* Keep the intake of foods high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) low - mainly nuts and seeds and any products made from them (mostly oils). PUFAs are unstable, they oxidize readily resulting in harmful free radicals. High PUFA intake have been repeatedly linked with cancer, heart and inflammatory diseases.

* Do not cook meat or fat at high temperatures while exposed to air. Such practice will avoid fat and cholesterol oxidation - believed to be responsible for build up of arterial plaque and injury to arterial cells. Grilling and frying is especially harmful. Boiling is probably the safest way of cooking meat.

* Minimize or eliminate consumption of foods frequently contaminated with mycotoxins: alcoholic beverages, wheat, rye, barley, corn and peanuts. Mycotoxins are poisonous substances produced by certain molds and fungi which cause a wide range of health problems including cancer, asthma, multiple sclerosis and diabetes.

Emphasize and do:

* The more natural and less processed the food the better. Emphasize whole, fresh foods. Replace white rice with brown rice; white bread with whole grain bread; sugar with small amounts of raw honey or dry fruit; pasta with millet or whole grain pasta; canned foods with fresh; candy and other sweets with dry or sweet fruit; etc. Organic foods are best as they are higher in nutrients and do not contain harmful pesticides, hormones or antibiotics found in conventional foods. Always choose fresh over frozen, dried or canned foods. Fresh foods taste better, have more nutrients in them, have no added salt, sugar or unhealthy additives.

* Enjoy simple meals. Generally, the simpler the food preparation the more nutrients are preserved and the easier it is to digest. Simple meals are easy and quick to prepare and use fewer resources like electricity and water - thus are more environmentally friendly and less costly.

* Only cook foods that need to be cooked in order to be edible (beans, grains and some vegetables). Foods that are edible in a raw state (fruits, most vegetables, sprouts, nuts and seeds) should be consumed on a daily basis and preferably with every meal. Raw foods are higher in nutrients, which to some degree get lost during cooking, and are easier to digest. At least 50% of the diet, by volume, should consist of raw foods.

* Steam vegetables that need to be cooked - steaming preserves more nutrients which when boiled leech into the water. Do not overcook. Cooked vegetables should be crunchy when you eat them, not soft.

* Chew food well (simply chew it longer) and eat at a comfortable pace. This improves digestion which already starts in the mouth while saliva gets mixed with the food.


Variety in diet is very important - to prevent allergies, malnutrition and to lower exposure to natural and man-made toxins found in many natural foods.

* Always properly wash fruits and vegetables before consumption. This lowers the exposure to agricultural chemicals (used to cultivate conventional plants) and harmful microorganisms. Peel the skin if washing is not sufficient.

* Nuts and seeds should be soaked before consumption - to lower or eliminate natural anti nutrients like enzyme inhibitors. Soaking makes them much easier to digest. Do not eat more then a few handfuls a week as they are high in PUFAs and difficult to digest.

* Grains (except amaranth, millet and rice) and beans must be soaked before consumption. This lowers or eliminates anti nutrients like phytic acid which inhibits mineral absorption that can lead to mineral deficiency.

* Fruits are best eaten alone as a snack between meals. To improve digestion only eat one type of fruit at a time.

* Regularly consume unpasteurized fermented/cultured foods like sauerkraut, miso, pickles, kefir, yogurt, etc. These are pre-digested foods that are high in probiotics (friendly bacteria) and enzymes which provide numerous health benefits. Start with what your ancestors consumed and later experiment with other foods as well.

* Regularly consume enzyme rich foods: sprouts, raw honey, grapes, figs, avocados, bananas, papayas, pineapple, kiwi, mango and fermented/cultured foods (see above). Enzymes obtained from raw foods ease the digestion by reducing the body's need to produce digestive enzymes.

* Consider the diet your ancestors ate for thousands of years - you will most likely do very well on such a diet due to the long period of adaptation to it. For example, the traditional Chinese diet is high in carbohydrates and low in fat and protein; Europeans, on the other hand, have been eating less carbs and more protein and fat; North American Indians did not eat grains.

* Drink adequate amounts of liquid through out the day. Water is best. Under normal conditions, most people need 2-3 liters of liquid/day.

* Unless very hungry, do not eat for 3-4 hours before bedtime. That way the nightly fast can be prolonged considerably. This gives the body more/adequate time and energy to perform the countless nightly tasks that are so essential to good health. (Rather then digesting the just eaten meal)

* Eat only when hungry and do not overeat regardless of food. I found this to be among the most important of all health promoting habits.

Good sources of protein:

* any meat that comes from organic, free range animals that are fed their natural diet (hard to find)
* when not organic: lean poultry meat (high fat cuts are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids which oxidize readily during cooking and in the body; toxins accumulate in the fat)
* beans
* fresh, soaked or sprouted nuts and seeds
* raw fermented milk products: sour milk, kefir, cheeses, etc (hard to find)
* wild game
* eggs

Most commercial meats including pork and beef, unless organic and not fed corn/grains/beans, contain antibiotics, hormones and too many polyunsaturated fats - thus should be avoided.

Good sources of carbohydrates:

* vegetables
* fruits
* whole or minimally processed fresh and mold free grains: rice, oat, amaranth, millet, barley, wheat, etc.
* beans
* potatoes

Good sources of fats:

* avocados
* butter
* fresh, soaked or sprouted nuts and seeds (mostly source of omega 6)
* coconuts or coconut oil
* full fat raw milk products (cheese, milk, cream, etc) from pasture fed cattle
* olives or first cold pressed (extra virgin) olive oil


I always try to find organic foods to avoid harmful substances like hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, etc. The most contaminated fruits are: raisins, cherries, peaches, strawberries, mexican (winter) cantaloupe, apples, apricots, Chilean (winter) grapes. And the most contaminated vegetables are: spinach, celery, green beans, bell peppers, cucumbers, cultivated button mushrooms, potatoes and wheat. Lean poultry is probably the safest meat to eat if not organic.

Meal examples

What follows are weekly meals that closely resemble my diet at the time of this writing. When planning meals, the key idea is to have variety in diet and to rely on food combinations that agree with ones digestion.

TBS = table spoon
tsp = tea spoon
/ = or

* any fruit eaten alone
* 0.5L sour milk, 300g potatoes, fennel
* 0.5L kefir, 50-100g oatmeal, 25g raisins
* 0.5L plain yogurt, 300g grapes/2-3 bananas
* 50-100g oatmeal, 1-2TBS honey, cinammon
* salad head, 1-2 tomatoes/pepper fruit, cucumber/squash, 1-2TBS olive oil
* medium avocado, 1-2 bananas, cinammon
* 50-100g brown rice, 1-2 hardboiled eggs, 2-4 radishes, 25-50g leeks, 1-2TBS ground flax seeds, 50g sprouts
* 50-100g amaranth, 1-2 steamed parsnips, 1 steamed onion, 1-2 steamed carrots, celery stick, 1tsp freshly grated raw ginger, parsley, 1TBS olive oil
* 200g mung bean sprouts, 1-2 carrots, 25-50g leeks, 25g soaked pumpkin seeds/almonds/sesame seeds
* steamed broccoli/cauliflower, 1-2 tomatoes/pepper fruit, squash/cucumber, 150g turkey/chicken breast, 2-3 cloves of minced garlic, 1TBS olive oil
* 100g buckwheat sprouts, 2 carrots, florence fennel stick, 25g sprouted sunflower seeds, 25g raisins
* 50-100g amaranth, steamed onion, steamed asparagus, florence fennel stick, 1tsp freshly grated raw ginger, parsley, 1TBS coconut oil
* 50-100g millet, celery stick, 2-4 radishes, 25-50g leeks, 25g pumpkin seeds

I plan meals loosely, 1-2 days ahead. The meal preparation is very simple: meat and eggs are boiled in water, vegetables that need cooking are steamed. Since certain food vitamins become more bioavailable once exposed to low heat cooking, it is a good idea to alternate between cooked and raw vegetables. For example, Bio-carotene found in carrots becomes more absorbable after light steaming. I adjust the quantity of food according to how physically active I am during the day.

In addition to the above foods I also take vitamin and mineral supplements and drink bottled water. I use spices and salt. Kefir and sour milk are made at home from organic full-fat, unhomogenised pasteurized milk. Sprouts are home grown as well for maximum freshness. Both are very easy to make and require only few minutes of daily attention.

Final thoughts

Although a healthy diet can enormously improve ones health, it is only one essential part of healthy living. The other parts are proper and adeqaute physical activity, mental and spiritual well being, and adequate rest. All need to be addressed in order to achieve better health.

An important thing I learned while experimenting with diets and other health related approaches is to always pay attention to the signals from the body. It is essential to do this - in order to maintain good health - and adjust accordingly. As one gets better at reading the body, it becomes natural to self diagnose a lot of minor problems (which can become major if not paid attention to) and remedy them by simply adjusting the diet or other aspects of life. Finally, we are all different - what works for one person may not work for another - thus it's important to experiment with ones diet to find out what works and what doesn't.

Disclaimer: This article represents personal views and should be treated as such. Implementation of any ideas contained herein can only be done at own risk.

(If you found this article helpful, you may return the favor by buying a poster of one of my images at

Copyright 2005 Dawid Michalczyk. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, contact, creation, information and links intact, without specific permission, when used only in a not-for-profit format. Author's email:

Dawid Michalczyk is a freelance illustrator and an artist. He enjoys learning about health, anthropology and computers. He loves to ride a bicycle and does it almost every day. To see examples of his work and other writings visit his website at He can be reached at

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Government Against Diets

The Government of the Australian state of Victoria has started a campaign aimed at warning people of the dangers of fad diets. The campaign is believed to be the first of its kind in the world.

With Australians second only to the US in both obesity rates and weight loss expenditure, the authorities are getting concerned about more and more people risking not only their money but also their long-term health by following fad diets. Especially low-carb diets like Atkins, and radical deprivation diets like the Cabbage-Soup-Diet, seem to be the target of the warning campaign.

As it is often the case with politicians, the warning message is not accompanied by a positive alternative you could use to lose weight and improve your health. Some general comments about calories reduction are not only unhelpful, but also against the trend of latest scientific research research proving that most overweight individuals actually consume less food than those at normal weight.

The problem for the Government is that any science-based recommendations, for example to reduce consumption of sugar and sweets, could be very dangerous politically, as the producers of those products form strong political lobbies and may be able to swing crucial seats. So for the consumer it is a bit like those warnings on packages that we all hate they tell you what not to do, instead of explaining how to actually use the thing!

In addition to the politics of it, there is also no universally accepted scientific truth about why we put on weight, and how to reverse it. While a lot of bona fide research points towards hormonal imbalance and the foods that create it, the powerful industries that produce those foods are easily able to fund twice as much research proving otherwise. We see the scientists becoming a little like lawyers: if you have enough money, they will prove whatever you want to be the truth.

Just like with all the other questions we have about life, looking up to the politicians is not going to give us an answer.

Darius Mikolajewski is author of books and articles that advocate safe and natural methods of weight loss. For more information about him visit

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Give up the Diet

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Give up the Diet

If you're thinking of going on a diet to lose those extra pounds think again. Long-term weight control through dieting is near impossible, for the simple reason is that diets promote only short term solutions not long term.

After dieting youll certainly look lighter on the scales, but in most cases this is because you've dumped a few pounds of body fluid and muscle, and not because you've lost any significant amounts of body fat.

One of the main reasons diets don't work is because they send the body into starvation mode - a survival mechanism for times when humans faced periods of famine. Cutting back on our energy intake causes the body to lower its metabolic rate, which reduces its ability to burn fat.

At the same time, hunger signals increase and we quickly start to crave high energy foods loaded with fats and sugars - the exact foods we are trying to do without!!!

Alarmingly, research has shown that repeated dieting actually makes it harder to lose weight and easier to put it on!!

This is because when you dump the diet and return to normal eating habits, the drop in metabolic rate caused by the diet means that your old eating habits actually represent an excess in calories. Not only do you regain the fat stores just lost, but you may even gain a bit extra.

"Five more reasons to stop dieting"

Diets sap energy - Too little food means not enough

energy for physical activity.

Diets lower your metabolism - Dieting causes your body

to conserve energy, making results harder to achieve.

Diets are unhealthy - A cycle of rapid weight loss

followed by weight gain can lead to a loss of lean tissue

from your body and calcium from your bones. It also

strips the body of essential vitamins and minerals.

Diets make food the enemy - Food provides nourishment

and comfort. Diets can make you afraid to eat, depriving

you of one of life's pleasures.

Diets cheat your confidence - Going from one failed diet to the next can leave you feeling depressed and create a cycle in which guilt battles against food.

Regular physical activity and a healthy, balanced diet aren't as glamorous as the quick fixes, but they do get better results.

Start with one extra exercise session and one less fatty takeaway meal per week, and gradually work towards a lifelong plan for achieving your best weight.

If you change the way you eat or exercise to lose weight, ask yourself this question. Can I see myself sticking to this routine for life!!

If the answer is "no" then its time to change what you're doing. Any healthy weight loss plan should include the following:

A wide variety of foods.

Regular and enjoyable exercise.

Enough filling foods to avoid constant hunger.

At least 1200 calories a day.

Flexibility for treat foods and social occasions.

A realistic goal of your best weight (not necessarily

your lowest weight.)


A realistic weight loss is around one to two pounds per week. Fast weight losses are not fat loss but glycogen and water. If you lose weight quickly then you will probable return back to the weight at which you started as quickly as it was lost.


Weight loss is quick and simple.

Exercise is not necessary.

Certain exercises can spot reduce.

Carbohydrates (for example, bread, potatoes, rice,

and pasta) are fattening.

So the way to lose body fat and maintain muscle or increase it is to have a food program for life and more energy output. Increase the amount of fruits, vegetables, non-fat dairy products, whole grains and beans that you eat.

Eliminate calorie-dense foods such as cookies, sugary desserts, chips, fries, pizza, candies, crackers etc. Research on people who have successfully lost a lot of weight and kept it off long term, shows that the vast majority succeeded by consuming a low fat diet high in fibre coupled with strength training and cardiovascular activity. These are the basics you'll need to aim for.

A sound weight loss eating plan should:

Be nutritionally sound, providing all the nutrients you need.

Never promise fast weight losses.

Offer an eating plan based on real food.

Allow you to eat out.

Avoid expensive meal plans, products and supplements.

Not avoid carbohydrate foods, e.g. bread, rice, pasta, cereals and potatoes.

Make gradual dietary changes.

Provide knowledge.

Allow you to eat all foods

Recommend physical activity.

Fat calories are more fattening than carbohydrate calories. Your body can easily convert the fat you eat in food into body fat, so to lose weight you need to cut down on fats and foods that contain it.

Consider the following steps to reduce fat in your diet.

Use skimmed or skimmed milk in drinks, cooking and on cereals.

Buy a non - stick frying pan.

Buy a cheese slicer

Cut the visible fat from meat.

Eat very little pastry.

Learn how to read a food label.

Substitute low fat yoghurt for cream.

Remove the skin from chicken and turkey.

Eat fruit as snacks rather than eating chocolate and biscuits.

Eat fewer burgers and sausages.

Gary Matthews is a fitness trainer from "down under" who has been coaching clients from athletes to bodybuilders for two decades. You may contact Gary directly at and visit his website at

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Fruit Diets: Facts For Fitness

Without question, fruit has wonderful natural benefits for the human body. Fruit is packed with vitamins and fiber much like vegetables, but comes in a wide variety of sweeter, more palatable flavors.

Adding fruit to your diet is an excellent thing to do, but there are a few things that you need to keep in mind:

1. Eat fresh fruit instead of drinking fruit juice. Juice is often sweetened, but fresh fruits have natural sugars. Also, you dont receive all of the needed fiber and vitamins from fruit juice as you do from fresh fruit.

2. If you do have a craving for fruit juice, then go for fresh fruit juice instead of those that contain artificial flavors and colors. Or even better, try making your own fruit juice, taking care not to sweeten it with too many calories.

3. Choose fresh fruit over processed fruits. Again, processed and canned fruits do not have as much fiber or vitamins as fresh fruit, and processed and canned fruits are nearly always sweetened.

4. Wherever possible eating locally produced seasonal fruits and vegetable fresh from the garden or grove is preferred.

5. Fresh fruit makes the absolute perfect dessert for any meal. Throw out the cake and add a fresh fruit bowl to the dining table.

6. Fresh fruit also makes the perfect snack. Its far better to grab a banana or apple when hunger pangs strike, than a bag of greasy potato chips. Plus, fresh fruit just tastes better.

7. Its interesting to note that nature produces several varieties of fruits resembling the shapes of the organs of our body, which are useful and beneficial to that specific organ. Here are some examples:

Apricot - Brain
Mango-Papaya - Stomach
Almonds - Eyes
Apple - Heart
Grapes - Lungs
Cashew nuts - Kidney

8. Fruits and vegetables have in them a natural storage of the suns energy. If we make a daily practice of having fresh fruit and vegetables, or one glass of real fruit juice and two or three cups of green juice of vegetables, our requirement for food will be reduced to a minimum. We will have enough energy to maintain the body in a healthy condition.

Overall, just remember that fresh fruit is better for you than canned fruit, fruit juice, processed fruit, or cooked fruit. Eat as much fresh fruit as you like.

Another benefit of adding fruit to your diet is the added water intake. Water is a simple, yet effective tool in the fight against the scale and the emergency room, and is often overlooked by most people.

But that is a whole other subject...

To learn more about the tremendous benefits of water in your dietary routine visit: . Steve Shannon is webmaster at

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Foods and Diets Litigations

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Foods and Diets Litigations

Why is that food processing and commerce are not strictly regulated by law so as to prevent health problems generated by an inadequate diet? Unhealthy products encourage an unhealthy diet, appealing the consumer by their availability within reach and the invading advertising. If the food producers are controlled by health officials, then it must be that the regulations are too lax in as far as marketed foods are concerned.

Everyone knows that, for instance, hydrogenated oils and partially hydrogenated oils are highly unhealthy. Tons of studies and informative material have been published, yet there is a population segment that still falls into traps saying that margarine is a "healthier alternative for butter, full of vitamins", when in fact the trans-fatty acids it contains surpass the "healthy benefits" it offers. For this particular case, all foods containing hydrogentated oils (if the law allows their production, though it shouldn't) should have a health hazard warning (like those on the cigarette packs), saying something like "This product contains trans-fatty acids that increase the risk of heart disease". Thus, people would be constantly reminded of the bad effects of such products on health.

Generally, when it comes to foods and dieting, people should be advised of the potential inconvenience that might occur due to some ingredients or the way the food is prepared.

Take for instance the case of the release of so many diets that are not documented, not officially controlled and approved, promissing great things but not being explicit about the great problems they generate. Such as the very popular Atkins, for instance, which is a real danger to health.

I wondered why such anti-health practices are not forbidden? Oh, pardon me! Why should I wonder? It's obvious: in an ever growing pragmatic course of events, the industrial interests have overpassed the interest for the health of people.

At this point, the role of the well-informed consumer is decisive for his own health. And if people are not fully convinced by so many scientific studies, informative articles and materials, then they surely become when finding out of the multitude of lawsuits against food producers (such as Kraft Foods Inc, the producers of Oreo cookies), fast food chains (McDonald's) or promoters of diets (such as the Atkins diet).

The producers of the popular Oreo cookies, Kraft Foods Inc were sued in 2003 by the attorney Stephen Joseph, who based his accusations on a provision of the civil code of California saying that manufacturers are liable for products if the consumer is not advised of the products' unsafety. He rightfully claimed that the public was not aware of the high content of trans-fats in Oreos. He declared that he sued out of concern for the public health and that no money was requested in the lawsuit, which he finally withdrew, explaining that the publicity on this case had made people aware of the health risks enhanced by the product. Anyway, if the lawsuit was intented as bad publicity for the Oreos, the aim was not reached, as Kraft Foods Inc will continue to produce Oreos in a trans-fat free version.

Another famous case of litigation is the suit from 2002 against McDonald's. The lawsuit was filed by the lawyer Samuel Hirsch on behalf of some obese children. The lawer sustained that the fast food producer mislead the consumers into believing that the products were healthy and safe and claimed that the children developed health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity because of eating McDonald's products. The suit was dismissed on the grounds that no one is forced to eat at McDonald's and that the law has not the role to moderate individuals' excesses.

A recent date "diet trial" is going on in Florida. The suit was filed by 53-year-old Jody Gorran against Atkins Nutritionals on May 26, 2004. The plaintiff claims that after going on Atkins diet his cholesterol level increased so much that he needed angioplasty in order to unblock an artery. In addition to financial damages, there is also the request that the company warns the public of the potential dangers of a diet favoring meats, cheeses and other high-fat proteins by labeling their products. The sequel is yet to come.

Even if some of these lawsuits started out of reasons beyond humanitarian, (as for instance the chase for money from damages that such important companies would pay) they have a positive result, namely, the publicity around such cases arises questionning, gives people the idea of doubt, the "assumption of guilt".

About The Author

Laura Ciocan writes for where you can find more information about diets.

Please feel free to use this article in your Newsletter or on your website. If you use this article, please include the resource box and send a brief message to let me know where it appeared:

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Food Intolerance and Low Carb Diets

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Food Intolerance and Low Carb Diets

Food intolerance is a pharmacological reaction to the consumption of certain foods. In many cases, food intolerance may appear to be the side-effect of pharmacological drugs, but in fact, it is generally caused by the consumption of natural foods products, additives, or the combination of both.

The majority of food products that commonly cause food intolerance are high-protein.

As a low carb dieter, you will have abnormally- high exposure to high-protein food, including dairy products and meats, which means your chance of experiencing food intolerances (if you have any) will increase.

In contrast to food allergies, which are easily identifiable because they affect an almost instantaneous reaction of hives, shock, and a range of other symptoms, food intolerances are somewhat harder to identify.

Food intolerance generally has milder affects, such as minor headaches, general irritation, upset stomach, restlessness, and a loss of sleep. This makes it much harder to identify and treat.

If you are new to your low carb diet, you may have already experienced some of these symptoms, but attributed them to something other than food intolerance.

If you have been exhibiting these symptoms for less than three days into your low carb diet, they are more than likely related to withdrawals from caffeine or carbohydrates. They could also be related to dehydration. Conversely, if you have been exhibiting them for more than three days, they are more than likely the result of a food intolerance.

You should immediately start the process of weeding out foods that could be causing the intolerance.

The following is a list of foods you may be consuming on your low carb diet that are likely perpetrators: eggs, nuts, milk, fish, shellfish, pork, bacon, chicken, cheese, and tomatoes.

You should try to remove one of these from your low carb diet at a time. If you cannot solve your intolerance problem within a week, it would be wise to get off of your low carb diet and contact a physician to determine the source of your intolerance.

This article is for informational purposes only, and is not intended as substitute for medical advice. Before embarking on any diet or fitness program, consult your physician.

Benji Paras runs, specializing in the benefits of the low-carb lifestyle. The site contains a treasure trove of information for losing weight, and includes a list of low carb foods along with informative articles and the latest low-carb headlines.

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Coronary heart disease



Major Depression from Brain Starvation


WASHINGTON, Jun 22, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A coalition of nutrition, public health and consumer groups is calling on U.S. residents to beware of the dangers of low-carb diets.

The newly formed Partnership for Essential Nutrition said Tuesday that low-carb diets are unlikely to lead to sustained long term weight loss, and they can increase the risk for a number of life-threatening medical conditions.

"Low-carbohydrate diets conflict with decades of solid scientific research that clearly encourages us to reduce saturated fat and boost fruit, vegetable and fiber intake," said Barbara Moore, Ph.D., president and CEO of Shape Up America!, which founded the coalition.

The coalition said losing weight on these extreme low-carb diets can lead to such serious health problems as kidney stress, liver disorders and gout.

These diets also increase the risk for coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and several types of cancer, plus side effects: severe constipation, gastrointestinal problems, nausea, repeated headaches, difficulty in concentrating and the loss of energy.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

THE OBSERVER , LONDON Monday, Sep 22, 2003,Page 7 The first official warning about the dangers of the Atkins diet has been issued by the British Government amid concern about the rising number of people opting for the high-fat, high-protein regime.

The Food Standards Agency, which is responsible for all the Government's nutritional guidance, has published a statement alerting the public to the health risks of low-carbohydrate diets, including the Atkins diet, claiming that they are linked to heart disease, cancer and even obesity.

ORLANDO, Florida (CNN) -- The American Heart Association has drafted an advisory paper warning the public about what it says are the dangers of high-protein diets.

"They put people at risk for heart disease and we're really concerned about that," said Dr. Robert H. Eckel, senior author of the paper. "Long-term, the saturated fat and cholesterol content of the diet will raise the ... bad cholesterol and increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, particularly heart attacks."


Eating excessive protein is not the way to reduce insulin!

One of the main goals of the so-called "low-carb" diets is to reduce the amount of insulin secreted into your bloodstream. This is a valid and noble goal. The only problem is that eating a lot of protein is not the answer. Excessive protein in the diet of a human causes all the above and more. If one studies the evolution of the human we can find out that the insulin/glucagon mechanism is a rather well engineered system for allowing the human to survive. As man evolved there would be rather long periods without food. In order to survive these periods man would call his insulin into action and have it store all the energy it could find available in his body. These periods could be as long as several days. Then when he needed to perform some work or forage for more food he would utilize his glucagon to utilize all the energy that the insulin had stored for him. This is evolutionary biochemistry at its best.

Man's biochemistry is still anachronistically Neanderthal.

As man and "civilization" has progressed to the "concept" of three squares and snacks everyday -man's biochemistry is still anachronistically Neanderthal. We have the biochemistry of the evolutionary man "mixed" with the age of fast convenience foods. We may not like the idea but man was "never" meant to eat three squares a day plus snacks. Man will do quite nicely on just one meal a day with no snacks. When you take some rather elegant evolutionary biochemistry like the insulin/glucagon system and abuse it by making it an "insulin only" system you are defying the biochemistry of the human. The "excessive insulin" is linked to many of our lifestyle diseases, especially those listed above. The answer is not to ingest protein to lower insulin -the answer is to ingest less food, reduce the number of daily feedings and make sure to ingest mother nature's balance. That is 75% complex carbohydrate, 15% protein and 10% fat.

The dangers of animal protein are well documented by the "China Study."

Probably the best and easily the longest nutritional study ever conducted is the China Study by T. Colin Campbell. This study demonstrates a linear relationship between animal protein ingestion and cancer, coronary artery disease and stroke. That meat causes osteoporosis is well documented in John Robbins "Diet for a New America." That the brain can only utilize glucose for energy has been well documented. Meat contains no carbohydrate and it is no wonder that so many Atkin's dieters are really depressed.

"In the next 10 to 15 years, one of the things you're bound to hear is that animal protein ... is one of the most toxic nutrients of all that can be considered . Risk for disease goes up dramatically when even a little animal protein is added to the diet." T. Colin Campbell Ph.D.


Just say an emphatic NO to "low-carb."

The MericleDiet is the only diet to restrict simple sugars (what some diets loosely call carbohydrate) and yet keep the brain well supplied with glucose, from complex carbohydrates. The MericleDiet is based on Mother Nature's Balance: 75% Complex Carbohydrate, 15% Protein and 10% Fat. To visit the MericleDiet follow the link below:

Thanks for your attention.

Copyright John Mericle M.D. 2005 All Rights Reserved is devoted to achieving optimal health and peak performance through diet and lifestyle change. Dr. Mericle brings together a unique blend of formal medical education, 29 marathons, 3 Hawaii Ironman competitions and a lot of practical real life experience.

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Fiber in a Nutshell?

There are numerous diets out there that guarantee that they are the ones that will work. We all know who and what they are. There is the no carb, low carb, carb and low fat, grapefruit, and soup diets, to name a few. While I believe that each of these diets can work for certain individuals in the short term, research shows that crash diets dont work. Over the long term, these diets are not sustainable. After returning to normal eating patterns the average person not only gains the weight back but often put on a few pounds more than their original weight.

I would like to suggest an alternative. Make fiber your friend. Research has shown that a daily diet high in fiber can help stabilize blood sugar, lower cancer risk and control the appetite. How does this work?

There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel which coats our intestines. Insoluble fiber speeds up the passage of material through the digestive tract. A diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts will provide us with both types of fiber. The suggested amount of fiber for the average person is 25-30 grams. Most of us, in the United States, consumes less than one half of the suggested amount.

Some easy ways to introduce more fiber in our diets is to try to attain a goal of 90% fresh food to 10% processed. Start out slowly according to what your lifestyle requires. If you now subsist on a diet of wholly processed foods, try 50-50. Fiber has no nutrients. Therefore, high fiber foods which are low in fat are surprisingly low in calories. One of the best and most delicious sources of fiber are berries. Whole foods are better than juices. Try an orange instead of a glass of orange juice. A pear has more fiber than an apple. One ounce of nuts makes a good pick-me-up in the afternoon and has 2 grams of fiber.

A word of warning: Introduce fiber slowly to your diet over a period of two to three weeks to avoid cramping and gas. In addition to making these changes drink plenty of water. This help to create the bulk which, in turn, enhances the positive aspects of a diet rich in fiber.

Constance Weygandt is a balance mentor who specializes in finding answers for those individuals who are seeking an alternative to conventional weight management. For more information or to sign up for Constance's newsletter, visit her website at

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Farewell To The Atkins Low Carb Diet

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Farewell To The Atkins Low Carb Diet

Atkins Nutritionals recently announced that they are filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It seems that the low carb craze was nothing more than just a passing fad. Well my friends I have come to both praise and bury the Atkins Diet.

I first discovered low carb diets about 15 years ago -- well before their recent popularity. My first introduction was by way of a book entitled The Endocrine Control Diet. Like the Atkins Diet and other low carb diets for that matter, it was based on a severely restricted carbohydrate intake - less than 50 grams of carbs per day. You put your body into a state of ketosis and force it to burn fat instead of glucose.

I was amazed at how quickly I was able to drop weight on the diet. If memory serves correctly, I dropped 15 lbs in little over a week. Sure, a portion of it was water and muscle weight, but I also dropped quite a bit of body fat. I could tell it was fat because my waistline shrunk substantially.

The Endocrine Control Diet was strict about keeping carbs low and remaining in a state of ketosis until you reached your weight loss goal. This was tracked on a daily basis by peeing on Keto Strips to make sure you were still in ketosis. I stayed on the diet for about 2 months before reverting back to my former diet. The interesting thing was that I was able to keep my weight down for another 3 months before getting back up to where I was before the diet.

I should mention that during the diet that I was lifting weights and doing cardio exercise on a regular basis. I sincerely believe that this factor was vital in retaining lean muscle mass while dropping as much body fat as possible while on a calorie restricted, low carb diet.

In the intervening years I tried other low carb diets that were all variations on the same theme. The one constant for me was keeping up with my weight training and cardio exercise. Each and every time I was able to drop 15 20 lbs in as little as 3 weeks and keep it off for at least 3 months after stopping the diet.

The biggest problem I have with low carb diets is that Im personally unable to stay on them for more that 3 months at a time. Its just too damn hard! Lets face it I like my carbs. Being of Italian extraction I was raised on pasta and bread. I also love Chinese cuisine with extra rice and have a fondness for potatoes. All of these foods are taboo on a low carb diet!

In the end, a low carb diet is not very realistic or very sociable for that matter. Ive never been too worried about the health effects though. Ive had my cholesterol checked both on and off the low carb diets and there have been no variation in the readings even when Ive consumed extra fat during some of the diets. My total cholesterol has always hovered around 200, which could be lower, but is the cutoff for a normal level.

Now that I know the power of a low carb diet to quickly take off weight, it will always be part of my fitness arsenal. The real secret is to combine the diet, and any diet for that matter, with a program of regular exercise that includes both weight training and cardiovascular exercise.

I think the best approach is to cycle your diet plan like professional bodybuilders do. Target a period for when you want to be at your leanest like the summer months at the beach or a high school reunion or wedding and start a low carb diet about 2-3 months out. Youll hit your peak right when youre ready to go back to your normal eating habits and you can count on staying lean for several weeks afterward.

The real secret is to always stay within 10-15 lbs of your fighting weight and know that you can get there in a hurry with a low carb diet.

Rich Rojas

Elliptical Trainer Reviews and Fitness Ideas

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Fad Diet Popularity

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Fad Diet Popularity

A common question among weight loss professionals...

If fad diets don't work,
why are they so popular?

People are often willing to try anything that promises to help them lose weight because they want to look or feel better. Regardless of what professionals would like to think, dieters want one fit in the clothes they wore two years ago. It rarely has anything to do with improving health. Fad diets exploit this fact and drive a multi-million dollar industry.

Quick and easy weight loss appeals to all dieters. The quick fix of a fad diet draws the attention of dieters almost effortlessly, while professionals struggle to spread the word about weight loss through long-term changes in eating habits and regular exercise. What can we do?

We continue to educate the public on the real science of weight loss and dieting. The diet basics of healthy weight loss must continue to be supported and taught by physicians, nurses, nutritionists, and other health care providers.

The Diet Basics of Healthy Weight Loss

1. Lose weight by losing fat (which excludes all quick weight loss plans)

2. Gain Muscle (keep the resting metabolic rate from dropping)

3. Practice good eating habits (that can keep you thin)

Fad diets also become popular because many of them do work for a short time. In many cases, this is because when you stop eating certain types of food or eat special combinations of foods, you are getting fewer calories than you normally would. You are also paying more attention to what you are eating.

However, its likely that much of the weight you lose is from water and lean muscle, not body fat. Also, most people are not able to keep up with the demands of a diet that strictly limits their food choices or requires them to eat the same foods over and over again. People who use fad diets usually end up gaining back any weight that they lost.

Here are some simple guidelines for recognizing a fad diet:

* Diets that claim to help you lose weight very quickly (more than 1 or 2 pounds per week). Remember, it took time for you to gain unwanted weight and it will take time to lose it.

* Promise that you can lose weight and keep it off without giving up "fatty" foods or exercising on a regular basis. If a diet plan or product sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

* Base claims on "before and after" photos, instead of solid evidence from clinical trials.

* Offer testimonials from clients or "experts" in weight loss, science or nutrition. Remember that these people are probably being paid to advertise the diet plan or product.

If you want real testimonials, ask to read the reference page used when writing the diet.

* Draw simple conclusions from complex medical research.

* Limit your food choices and don't encourage you to get balanced nutrition by eating a variety of foods.

* Require you to spend a lot of money on things like seminars, pills or prepackaged meals in order for the plan to work.

Let's keep fighting for the truth...the diet basics of healthy weight loss. At some point, the truth will be heard...I hope it's not too late for some.

Healthy Living!
Michael A. Smith, M.D.
The Weight Loss Professional

Additional Information is available at Dr. Smith's Healthy Weight Loss page.

Dr. Smith is the primary physician and consultant for the Weight Loss Professional Website. His interests include preventative medicine, the genetic etiology of obesity, and several others too numerous to list. Please visit his Website at and let him know what you think.

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Exercise and Low Carb Diets Make Poor Partners

Over the last twenty five years the most common questioned asked me by frustrated exercisers, has been what exercise routine will get me the body I desire? My answer is always the same. They need to start exercising better judgement and learn that exercise alone will not solve their body composition problem. I believe the number one reason for starting an exercise program is weight reduction, even before fitness and health concerns. Exercise by itself is a poor weight manager and it increases the need for better nutritional requirements. I believe I would receive very little disagreement that a combination of nutrition and exercise is the answer to improvement in weight loss ( fat loss ), fitness and health risk concerns. With obesity reaching epidemic rates and the drop out rate of most health clubs remaining high this article intent is to lay the foundation why exercise and low carbohydrate diets are poor partners.

Over the last three decades I have seen extreme changes in the macro nutrients ( proteins, carbohydrates and fats ) combinations in our quests for the ideal body. Everything from high carbohydrate, low fat, high protein, to the current low carbohydrate craze has bombarded us, though the failure rates in managing our weight continue to rise. The problem lies in our bodies ability to adapt to change, especially extreme change. If your goal is to lose fat you must provide your muscle enough quality fuel without being over fueled. This is especially true if your goal to lose fat includes exercise. The secret is not found in elimination of macro nutrients, but in management of them. Understanding how to fuel your muscles prior to exercise sessions and replacing fuel after workouts is critical or your body will break down muscle for fuel.

Understanding how our muscles use the calories we eat as fuel for muscle contraction is the first step in knowing what to do and not to do. A basic nutritional knowledge tells us that proteins repair and rebuild cells, carbohydrates energize cells and fats provide hormonal foundation for cells.

When we lack balance in protein, carbohydrates and fats are bodies adjust and can use all three as a source of fuel for muscle contraction and cellular energy. Though energy is needed for all cellular function, the focus of this article is muscle contraction and body composition. All muscle contraction derives energy from adenosine triphosphate or ATP. The primary source of ATP comes from glucose, which is stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen ( glucose and water ). Muscle contraction during anaerobic activity ( resistance training ) can use glycogen directly to form ATP. The process is anaerobic glycolysis, meaning it can use the glucose as energy with very little oxygen ( 90% glucose, 5% oxygen and 5% fatty acid ).

Our muscles only store enough ATP for short periods of muscle contraction, when depleted leads to muscle failure. The rest period between weight training sets allows additional ATP to be produced. During early stages of aerobic exercise, ATP is again created primarily from glucose until the heart and lungs provide enough oxygen to the muscles to allow fatty acids to be used to create ATP. So there you have it during resistance training and the beginning stages aerobic training the primary source of fuel is glucose.

This supports my claim that low carb diets and exercise make poor partners. To uncover why, we need to quickly look at the concept behind low carb diets and how they work. Any diet that provides 100 grams or less of carbohydrate daily. This article classifies as low carb diets. This will quickly deplete the glycogen stores in the muscle and liver. This by itself is testimony that our muscles primary source of fuel is glucose. Fatty acids stored in the adipose tissue ( fat cells ) are now released into the blood and processed by the liver and some are turned into glucose ( gluconegenesis ) and some remain fatty acids and both provide ATP for muscle contraction. One of the by products of this process is ketone bodies which can provide energy to brain and nervous system. The problem gluconegenesis ( non glucose turned into glucose ) provides fuel to the muscle less efficiently than glycogenesis ( glucose ). The end result is increased muscle fatigue, decreased muscle power, which leads to poor athletic performance.

A recent study performed at the University of Connecticut showed that exercisers who switched from a balanced diet ( proteins, carbohydrates and fats ) to a low carb diet experience the following drops in athletic performance. There was a 7 - 9 percent drop in muscle power and 6 percent drop in VO2 max of cardiovascular performance. Another factor to consider is the recuperation of muscle between workouts is decreased on low carb diets. So why would someone go on a low carb diet, especially when exercising? Because the initial weight loss that comes from the glycogen depletion is believed to be fat loss. We have become so focused on weight loss, that any weight loss is seen as good. As identified earlier in this article glycogen is a mixture of glucose and water and the majority are stored where? You guessed it, the muscle. A large percentage of the initial weight loss is coming from muscle loss.

I dont think any exercisers desire is to have smaller muscles as a result of their exercising. The goal of exercise should be to improve body composition, the percentage or ratio of muscle to body fat. This can only be accomplished by losing fat without the loss of muscle tissue. Maintaining muscle mass is vital to sustainable weight control. The following steps will protect your muscles as your losing fat, while reaching your ideal weight and ideal body composition.

FAT LOSS COACH Keys to losing FAT without losing MUSCLE

1. Cycle fat burning days with recovery days.

The secret to losing fat without losing muscle starts with not being too aggressive or extreme with your reduction of carbohydrates. You need carbohydrate management, not carbohydrate elimination. Over the last 12 years, with more than 10,000 clients Ive found by reducing carbohydrates by 20% of daily needs and within 48 hours replenishing the glycogen in the muscle by eating 100% of daily carbohydrate requirements, allows for fat loss, without muscle loss. In essence you have two fat burning days, then a recovery day. By doing this youll have the best of both worlds. You will experience fat loss that averages between 1-2 pounds weekly, while muscles are being well fed. You never drastically deplete the glycogen stores in the muscle so athletic performance is not affected like on a low carb diet.

2. Exercise on days where you are receiving more carbohydrates.

Exercising on days where muscle are getting more carbohydrates for fuel and taking days off from exercise when you are being aggressive about fat loss. One of the most difficult thoughts for exercisers to accept is that most of the results from exercise come when we are not exercising. They come after we exercise and in direct response to how the muscles receive nutrition after exercise.

3. Exercise 1.5 - 2 hours after eating when blood sugar levels and insulin levels are slowly declining.

As insulin levels increase in response to a rise in blood sugar after a meal, the cells are in an anabolic state ( receiving nutrients ). Insulin is the hormone that feeds are cells. As blood sugar levels drop, insulin levels drop and the pancreas produces the hormone glucagon and nutrients stored in the fat cells are released to the blood and used for energy. The management of this blood sugar rise and drop is important. If blood sugar levels go to high insulin feeds the muscle cells and deposits excess into fat cells. If insulin levels go too low, the muscle cells are being under fed. A slow rise in blood sugar provides good nutrition to the muscles and a slow drop allows glucagon to take from the fat cells. Timing your exercise to this blood sugar decline allows the muscles to receive from the fat cells more effectively. It is important to never exercise without having at least one meal left in your day so that muscles can recuperate from exercise.

Final Thoughts

Long term success managing weight starts with the right approach. If you are overweight, the real problem is that you have too much body fat for how much muscle you possess. A body composition solution is needed, not just a weight loss diet. Your goal should be to lose fat without losing muscle or sacrificing your health in the process. To maintain your results your eating habits must develop life long character. Low carbohydrate diets provide initial weight loss, but at the high cost of losingmuscle and reducing metabolism. They are inadequate sources of fuel to support exercise activity, which is vital in maintaining good health. The risks to your health long term makes low carbohydrate diet's poor solutions for life long weight management.

About The Author

By Charles Remington
Customized Fat Loss System
1303 Highland Ave
Cheshire, Ct. 06410

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Eat Healthy for Life

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Eat Healthy for Life

Lets not talk about diets. Diets are punishment like being sent to bed without dinner. Diets take some of the fun out of living. Many diets or supplements are harmful to your health or even dangerous, if you have certain risk factors.

Forget any past diet failures and push aside any guilt or shame you harbor about your weight. Its time to look forward; not back. You have the whole future in front of you to get better every day. It's time to eat healthy.

This is not a short term fix. Isnt your health more important than your weight? Lets be sensible and talk about eating healthy for life.

Dont get me wrong diets do help many people lose weight for a time. Almost any restrictive diet can give one a jump start on weight loss; and many people are so encouraged by the rapid weight loss that they are motivated to stay on the diet.

Studies have shown that the only diets that work are the ones you stick to. That why the majority of people who successfully lose weight on a restrictive diet run into trouble when they move to the maintenance phase. So again I say, you need a plan to eat healthy for life.

As with most things in life, theres no ONE solution that suits everyone. When choosing to eat healthy, a plan for the rest of your life, you want to find one that YOU can live with.

If your choice of plan starts with an initial (less than nutritious) restrictive phase, consider what supplements you ought to take during that phase. Also be sure that the maintenance part of the program meets generally accepted nutritional guidelines or that you can make it do so with minor adjustments or supplementation. You definitely need to think long term when choosing to eat healthy.

What Weve Known All Along

With all the diet programs, books, ads and fads these days, its easy to lose sight of some really basic facts of some very convincing long term health studies that can guide us to healthier eating.

1.Calories In vs. Calories Expended

The human body is a marvelous machine. It can be pushed to great lengths, like pre-exam all-nighters, or to perform amazing feats, like running marathons or scaling mountains. But it is a machine. It needs to be cared for and properly maintained.

The more it is abused or pushed to the max, the greater the chance that parts will break down prematurely or beyond natures ability to repair them. Like any machine, it needs fuel to operate. Give it improper or insufficient fuel and it wont run as well, if at all. Give it too much fuel and that will gum up the works. Now heres where the analogy breaks down.

With a man made machine, excess fuel simply overflows and makes a big mess. Unfortunately, the human machine has the amazing capacity to create unlimited new storage tanks for excess fuel even to the point of death. Further, once that excess fuel is stored, it is difficult to dislodge but not impossible. Thats the Calories In part of the equation.

The fuel you take in is burned by every single movement you make: breathing smiling, kissing, walking, dancing, chewing and even digesting your food. The more you move, the more fuel (calories) you burn.

The part of your body that has the ability to move other parts is muscle. Ergo the more muscles you have and the more you use them, the more calories you burn. In fact, every ounce of muscle you add increases your basal metabolism the rate at which your body burns fuel.

One pound of fat contains 3500 calories. If you cut 250 calories from your daily diet and burn another 250 calories with exercise, you can lose one pound in a week!

The most efficient way to eat healthy operates on both sides of the equation. Monitor your fuel intake of course; but just as importantly, get moving to burn that fuel. And better yet, build new muscle to boost your metabolism the rate at which YOUR body burns fuel. This way youll burn more calories every hour of every day for the rest of your life.

2. Secrets of the Worlds Healthiest Populations

Global epidemiological studies have identified some unusually healthy populations and linked their health to diets that differ in significant ways from the typical Western diet.

Japan, which has some of the world's lowest rates of obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes has a diet which is very rich in carbohydrates. The Japanese enjoy rice, vegetables, beans, and fruits at most meals.

They have a diet that is very low in saturated fat and red meats, but high in fish which contain protective omega-3 fatty acids.

Other recent and very interesting studies lead to more healthful eating tips. The Mediterranean food pyramid is based on research showing low rates of heart and other chronic disease in certain countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea compared to the West.

Research has isolated key dietary habits that are believed to account for the difference. (Monounsaturated) olive oil is the preferred fat and fat consumption (at 40% of total calories) exceeds the American Heart Associations recommended max of 30%.

Whole grains and pastas form the base of the pyramid, so this is not a low carb eating style.

The choice of proteins in order of preference is cheese and yogurt, fish, poultry, eggs and (last and least) red meat. Further, proteins are grouped at the top of the pyramid so they account for only about 15% of daily caloric intake.

Its also important to note that the Mediterranean lifestyle incorporates more natural physical activity as distinct from the Western variety of mandatory exercise. You know, the I just gotta get to the gym today or I have to miss my weekly tennis game Saturday. Now what can I do?! variety.

If youre interested in following any low carb plan, limit the time you follow the restrictive phase and take the information above into account when you plan your maintenance program.

3. Health Risks of Long Term Restrictive Diets

In choosing to eat healthy for life, be sure to consider well-founded dietary advice such as recommended by the American Cancer Society for optimal cancer prevention:

Eat five or more (optimally nine) servings of fruits and vegetables daily; include fruits and vegetables at every meal and for snacks. Aside from the fact that many fruits and vegetables are good diet food because they have low calorie density (high water and fiber content), these foods are loaded with phytochemicals which work to prevent illness, cancer, and other diseases.

Choose whole grains in preference to processed grains and sugars. Choose bran, whole wheat bread, brown rice, oats, and whole grain cereals as well as beans and legumes.

Limit consumption of red meats, especially processed meats and those high in fat.

Current estimates are that nearly 33-50% of cancers can be prevented through a eat healthy diet. The recommendations above come from hundreds of research studies which show a link between cancer prevention and a high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Hundreds of studies also support the link between a high fat diet, high intake of red meats and increased incidence of cancer

4. Magic Pills

Dont be taken in by some of the full page ads you see with before and after pictures that promise weight loss just by taking some magic pill. In some of them you can even tell that the same head has been pasted onto the fatter body or the faces look dissimilar enough that you think, Thats NOT the same person.

If youve read this far you know about the calories in, calories out equation. Sorry, but its simple math and simple physics. A pill alone will never do it.

However, that doesnt mean that there are no little magic pills that can help you lose weight in the context of a healthy eating and exercise plan. There is a lot of exciting research showing that certain supplements can boost and sustain your metabolic rate as you age, increase muscle tone and even help the body develop more muscle, such as Green Tea Extract or DHEA.

Weight loss often results when people switch their focus from dieting in order to get thin to choosing foods for health. This is especially true if they also pay heed to the other side of the calories in, calories out equation and get moving.

Common sense strategies, yes, but these are the only ones proven to work long-term. Now, are you ready to Eat Healthy for Life?

This article is for informational purposes only. It does not purport to offer medical advice.

Jean Bowler is a life long fitness freak. She was a ballet dancer and teacher, a private fitness trainer and more. Visit her site, for advice on diet and nutrition, skin care and more.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Do Jet Lag Diets Work?

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Do Jet Lag Diets Work?

Anti jet lag diets have been around for some time now, but do they work?

Perhaps the best know anti jet lag diet is the Argonne Diet, developed at the Argonne National Laboratory in 1982. Over the years thousands of people have downloaded copies of this diet online and it is reputed to have been used by an impressive list of people including the late President Ronald Regan, the US Secret Service, the CIA and the US Army and Navy. In addition, it is purported to have been used by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Canadian swim team.

However, when you realize that the only evidence to support the effectiveness of this diet is a study conducted by the US military, this list of 'supporters' doesn't perhaps seem quite so impressive.

On the surface the US military study does appear to support the effectiveness of the diet, although the report (published in 2002) pointed out a number of problems with the study and stated that "larger and better controlled studies need to be used to verify the usefulness of the Argonne diet".

Perhaps the biggest problem with this study however lies in the reasoning behind the study and in the group of people used for the study.

The US military deploy hundreds of thousands of troops around the world every year and jet lag has a significant effect upon their operations. Preventing jet lag is thus something of a priority issue. However, curing jet lag on this scale can also be a very expensive business and so looking for a simple, inexpensive, convenient and readily available solution, with few if any side-effects was essential. It is not perhaps surprising therefore that they focused their attention of the possibility of using a diet as nothing could be simpler, or cheaper, to implement. It also represented a natural solution, without any of the emotional or medical problems so often associated with the usual pills or injections.

Perhaps more significant though was the group chosen for the study. Volunteers were taken from 186 National Guard personnel being deployed to Korea. Of these, 95 used the diet on the outbound leg of the journey and 39 used the diet coming home.

Two questions seem to arise here.

The first question is whether or not results seen in a group of National Guard personnel could reasonably be expected to appear in the general traveling population. I think most people would agree that this can hardly be said to be a representative sample.

The second question is why only 39 people volunteered to try the diet on the return home when 95 people had used the diet on the outbound journey. Surely, if those using it for the deployment had found it effective then you would expect more than 41 percent of them to have wanted to use it again coming home.

These questions are of course important but perhaps the real question that we should be asking is why a diet should be effective at all as a jet lag cure.

Jet lag results from the inability of your body to adjust its own internal clock fast enough to bring it into line with local time when traveling. For example, when you arrive at your destination and the clock says it nine oclock in the morning and time to start the days work, your internal body clock may still be reading two oclock in the morning (the time back home) and telling you that you should be in bed.

So just how is a diet supposed to help solve this little problem?

Well, the simple answer of course is that it cant. Yes, what you eat and drink can play a part in helping your body to overcome the effects of jet lag and can assist in reducing jet lag symptoms. Diet, however, is only one small element in the equation for solving the problems of jet lag and simply making some adjustment to what you eat and drink before, during and after your journey, along with other preventative measures, is all that is required.

Curing jet lag through the use of so-called anti jet lag diets is a nice idea, but, unfortunately, it's myth rather than reality.

Copyright 2005 Donald Saunders -

Donald Saunders is the author of a number of health related publications including "Jet Lag A Natural Approach". Learn more about jet lag and pick up your free copy of "How To Get A Good Nights Sleep" to discover the secret to curing insomnia.

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Diets - Why Drastic Does Not Work

How was it for you? Did you get through the Christmas Season eating sensibly, taking exercise and avoiding the usual seasonal excesses? Or, are you sitting at your desk reading this and wondering why all of your waistbands are tight?

In the Northern Hemisphere, Winter and Christmas time are traditional periods of social excess and comfort eating. The short days curtail the amount of exercise we would naturally take and the pounds have a horrible habit of piling on.

We make New Year Resolutions to diet and these fall by the wayside, usually within hours. We get on to the wonderful diet merry-go-rounddo you remember the one? The one with horses which go up and down, just like our weight.

Our bodies and their functions are governed by a wonderfully balanced mechanism called the endocrine system which is made up of glands and hormones various. It is this system which governs our metabolic rate and it is this rate which plays a huge role in determining how efficiently we can process the calories we eat.

The balance of the endocrine system can be disrupted by many things - pollutants, artificial hormones, stress and illness. Yo-Yo dieting plays havoc with this system as the famine/feast experience is not tolerated well. During famine (diet) days our metabolic rate is reduced to conserve fuel stores and energy. Unfortunately, this rate does not then immediately increase on the feast days, causing us to put on more weight than ever.

Sometimes glands of the endocrine system cease to function as they were designed. A classic example is the thyroid gland. An underactive thyroid will cause all sorts of problems including weight gain. The ovaries can malfunction, again causing weight gain amongst other symptoms. It is worth getting any unexplained weight gain investigated by your Doctor. If you know you eat sensibly (keep a food diary to check this) and that you take regular exercise but the weight is still increasing I urge you to seek medical advice.

Experience has shown that the conventional schools of medicine are sometimes not as up to date with current thinking on endocrine problems, particularly of the thyroid, as patients would both like and expect them to be. If you suspect you have a problem but find your Doctor unsympathetic there are several excellent complementary practitioners who specialise in this field. Ask around for recommendations; look for books on the subject; do some self-initiated research on the web; do whatever you can to ensure that your knowledge is up to date and that you are in a position to make an informed choice about your medical care.

If you are carrying more than 14lbs of surplus weight it is advisable to have a routine medical check up before embarking on any weight loss programme. This will include checks for diabetes and blood pressure levels.

We know we need to weigh an appropriate amount for our height and age if we are to be healthy and active. The question is, how to achieve such an ideal?

The first thing to consider is not setting up a panic response in any of the automatic systems of your body. By introducing small changes, slowly and carefully, the body will adapt without shutting down. It is important not to make too many radical changes in one go, for two main reasons:

1. Psychologically you are going to feel deprived and will then struggle to maintain the new way of being.

2. Physiologically, if it perceives a threat, your body will alter its systems to protect itself and this will mean converting more of the calories you swallow into fat.

Once you are ready to make a start, implement just one or two changes to your diet each week. Depending on your current lifestyle you may decide on any of the following:

- Cut out all fried food

- Eat a healthy breakfast

- Eat 5 portions of fruit each day

- Incorporate appropriate exercise into your day

- Cut out the take away and ready prepared meals

- Increase the number of grown above the surface vegetables you eat

- Increase fibre levels by choosing wholemeal bread and pasta rather than white

- Determine the amount of chocolate it is OK for you to eat each day and have just that amount

-Drink one litre of water each day

Dont be tempted to radically change your diet overnight. It is like stretching an elastic band - as soon as you relax, even for a minute, you will snap back into old ways of being. Be gentle with yourself and your body, incorporate one new thing each week and wait until that has become comfortable before introducing anything else. Take it one step at a time and improve your chances of achieving and maintaining that perfect weight and enjoying the associated health benefits.

Know that the extra weight you carry did not appear overnight so it stands to reason that it is not going to disappear in a hurry. Be kind to yourself and your body. Take it one step at a time.

Donnie Harrison is a UK Based Coach and Business Mentor. Donnie works with clients who are facing a life transition and who do not want to face it on their own. She describes herself as a companion on the journey of change.

In addition, Donnie specialises in working with individuals who are setting up or building a Professional Private Practice, particularly in the healthcare sector - be it traditional, alternative or complementary. More information is available at

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Any doctor worth their salt will tell you diets don't work. Plain and simple. Surprised?

Well you might be. You can't get away from all the talk about South Beach, Atkins, Low Carb, Zone ... you name it, they're talking about it. It's on TV, in magazines... everywhere you look.

And of course there are the pills, drugs and other expensive methods to lose weight. While they may be appropriate in certain cases, by and large they aren't necessary. Some can actually be dangerous to your health.

What does work, what's been proven to work time and time again is something very simple... a lifestyle change. You may not want to hear it, but it's true.

You can't eat thousands of calories, rich desserts, sugary snacks, excess fat and tons of carbs, get little or no activity and expect to lose weight with a pill!

You'll be surprised to know that you don't need to stop eating or have to exercise for hours every day to lose weight. Just a few simple lifestyle changes added daily can turn your life around quickly. You will start to lose weight within days and feel better as well.

Here are 4 tips you can use to get started today:

- Drink water.

Drinking lots of water is probably the single most important thing you can do for your health. Water delivers nutrients throughout your body, flushes toxins out of your system and aids in digestion. When you get up in the morning, start with a full glass of water before you start your day (add a little lemon if you like). Then get at least 10-12 additional glasses of water in throughout the day.

- Eat slowly.

Chew your food 10-12 times before swallowing. Your saliva starts the digestion process, and if you don't chew enough, your stomach has to work twice as hard and many times you don't get much out of the foods you eat -- except maybe some indigestion :).

- Split your entree.

When eating out, split your entree with your dining companion. Most restaurants now serve portions that are up to 8 times the recommended serving size. Supplement with a salad, soup or vegetable to complete your meal.

- Avoid sodas.

Did you know that an average soda has 14 teaspoons of sugar? Not only are these empty calories and carbs that take you on a blood sugar roller coaster and adds pounds, the sugar also can also cripple your immune system for up to 5 hours leaving your body working overtime and open to infections, viruses and the effects of stress.

Drinking one soda a day alone can pack on 16 lbs of unwanted weight! Skip that soda and watch the weight go away.

Additionally, recent studies have linked increased soda consumption with certain cancers and a loss of essential minerals from our bodies.

Mark Idzik is a health coach with a national clientele who helps his clients lose weight and make better health choices. His new report, Permanent Weight Loss Now, offers a proven way to lose weight naturally, safely and effectively. You can get more information at: Receive 37 Free Weight Loss Tips by sending email to:

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