Category Archives for "Diet News"

December 13, 2018

Depression and Your Diet

how your diet affects depression

I was browsing through the news today and I came across this article that had some pretty eye-opening tidbits in it. The first is the opening sentence where it states that depression is the leading cause of disability among American adults aged 15-44. It impacts more than 16 million adults. I guess I didn’t quite think of depression as a disability, per se, but then again I’m racking my brain to think of something else that would outnumber this issue.

Secondly, the crux of the article was quite intriguing as it describes how the foods that you eat, or don’t eat, can have an effect on depression. As I’m all about learning as much as I can about health topics, and sharing this wisdom with my readers, I present the findings and my analysis below.

The Link Between Diet and Depression

The article cites new research that studied the results of 41 various studies that examined food and depression. The first thing that is noted, and it popped out at me considering all of the time I’ve spent writing about this topic on this site, is how a Mediterranean diet exhibited a 33% lower risk of developing depression over following a regular diet. The key factor in this result is the high amount of omega-3 fatty acids that are consumed in this diet with lots of fish and plant-based foods.

On the other side of the results, which should come as no surprise, is the finding that eating a lot of processed foods, sugars, and saturated fats can increase the chances of having depression.

It is advised to also stay away from products that contain flour, sugar, hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners.

It is theorized that these kinds of foods interact with the bacteria in your gut. This can cause inflammation in the body, an unhealthy and unattractive physique that can lead to depression.

Alternatively, there are foods that can help boost your mood and reduce the risk of depression. These include berries, tomatoes, avocados, cruciferous leafy greens like spinach and kale, seeds, walnuts, and beans. To be honest, it reminds me a lot of the items I listed in another post about Paleo diet foods.

On top of making sure that you get enough of the above-mentioned foods in your diet, it is recommended to get enough exercise. Not only does this help keep your body in shape and at a healthy weight, which can boost your self-esteem, it also releases endorphins which are the “feel good” hormones.

December 13, 2018

Low Carb Foods for the Paleo Diet

low carb foods for the paleo diet

I wrote elsewhere on this site about the Paleo Diet (hlcomic.com/paleo-diet), which is a throwback to eating like our hunter-gatherer ancestors used to eat. They couldn’t just drive down the street and head to McDonald’s, or order some delivery from UberEats or get a meal delivery service – all those conveniences that we have today.

No, they ate what they could grow and they could kill. But you know what? They were quite healthy, relative to the amount of technology and medical science that was available in those days.

While I went into detail on the Paleo Diet in the post I linked to above, I felt it would be helpful to provide a cliff notes post of the types of foods that you can eat if you want to adhere to this diet.

Paleo Diet Low Carb Food Examples

Paleo Diet Low Carb Food Examples

The main principle of this diet is to stay away from refined carbohydrates that you find in a lot of grains, pasta, bread, etc. However, you can eat simple carbohydrates like fruits that provide healthy energy sources. If you are looking to cut carbs out of your diet as a means to throw it back to the Paleolithic Era for weight loss, here are a number of foods you can safely eat and stick to this meal plan.

Raspberries

This delicious fruit is lower in carbs and sugars compared to other fruit options. It tastes great and is so versatile. You can eat it as a snack alone or add it to other dishes for a fruity flavor. They are low-glycemic and high in fiber, both of which are helpful for weight loss and overall health.

raspberries are a great option on the paleo diet

Strawberries

These berries are some of my favorites to add to my bran cereal in the morning. They are rich in fiber and antioxidants that promote overall health and wellness.

Strawberries have also been linked to cardiovascular health, have anti-cancer agents, and can help stabilize your blood sugar levels.

eat strawberries to stick with the paleo diet

Not to mention, like raspberries, they are so versatile and make a great addition to a salad.

Avocados

Unfortunately, you will have to say goodbye to avocado toast on the Paleo diet because of the bread, but that doesn’t mean you have to bid farewell to avocados.

They are high in fiber, low in carbs, and rich in healthy fats. They are deemed a “superfood” due to their high content of essential vitamins and minerals.

Blueberries

Linked to cardiovascular health, eye health, cognitive enhancement, antioxidant benefits, and tons of other health benefits, blueberries are a true superfood.

They are also high in fiber and low in sugar relative to other fruits. They are a great source of energy and can also regulate your blood sugars.

blueberries are amazing antioxidants and low in carbs

Spinach

There is a reason why Popeye loved this leafy green! It is a tremendous source of minerals that support bone health, reduces inflammation, and combats cancer. It is also high in fiber to keep your digestive system healthy. On top of that, it is one of the best protein sources among vegetables.

health benefits of spinach

Kale

It’s been a trend for the last few years for great reasons. Kale is powerful in detoxifying the body, improving your immune system and lowering the risk of cancer. It also is anti-inflammatory, which is great for weight loss.

Additionally, it has high water content, making you feel full faster, with lower caloric intake, so you are less prone to overeat.

December 13, 2018

Top Diet Trends of 2018

most searched diets on Google in 2018

As they do at the end of every year, Google released their annual “Year in Search” where they highlight the top 10 searches for a variety of categories during that year. Included in that review is a list of the most searched diets in 2018. A few of these I have written about on this site. Others, I have never heard of before.

So what was trending in the diet industry in 2018, at least according to search traffic? Continue reading below to see what was buzzing this year.

Most Searched Diets of 2018

I’ll list these from the least searched to the most searched. There is no surprise, to me, about what was #1, though some of the others are absolutely foreign to me. Perhaps I’ll have to dig into them and put some new content on the site to describe what they’re all about. Maybe I’m missing out on something great!

The Shepherd’s Diet


This one makes the Paleo Diet look outdated and highly restrictive, by comparison. This program uses what they call “God’s Guidelines” to make their food choices, which consists of basically fish and loaves of bread. Sounds like a good way to go hungry all the time. However, it is high fat and low carbs, so it jives pretty closely to the keto diet that has become all the rage lately.

FODMAP Diet


This one started as a meal plan for those who have irritable bowel syndrome. The acronym stands for fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. Yeah, I’ll stick with the name FODMAP. What it entails refraining from foods that have specific carbs that cause gassiness and bloat in the intestines.

Fasting Diet


This is based on the principle of intermittent fasting, which is a cycling of phases of hunger and indulgence. This throws your metabolism a curveball so it doesn’t get used to a normal eating pattern. While you can lose weight in the short term, it takes a lot of discipline to stick to it in the long-term and may not be for everybody. Can you really dedicate yourself to this plan for the rest of your life?

Dr. Gundry Diet


Started by Steven Gundry, the man behind The Plant Paradox, this diet consists of removing lectins from your diet as a way to fight against immune system issues. However, there is very little scientific evidence behind the danger of lectins, so the strength of this diet is pretty inconclusive.

Optavia Diet


This is a diet foods program that works like a home delivery meal plan. You are sent small meals to eat through the day as a way to lose weight.

The kits are pretty expensive, costing hundreds of dollars. You also get assigned a personal coach with this program.

There is a lot of convenience to this program if you can afford it – it takes away grocery shopping and meal planning. However, it can be tough to stick to the rigidity of this plan.

Mediterranean Diet


This one has been popular for many years, and new research continues to come out that supports the health benefits of this eating plan. It consists of eating like those in the Mediterranean area, with plant-based foods, fish, poultry, healthy fats, whole grains, olive oil, stuff like that. You’re also encouraged to have a little bit of wine!

Carnivore Diet


Yeah, I love to eat meat, but going on an all-meat diet just sounds like overkill to me. You need to balance things out with a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables. You are missing out on way too many important nutrients otherwise. There isn’t a lot of scientific basis behind this diet, and it can be hard to sustain eating just one type of food in the long-term.

Noom Diet


They call this one “Weight Watchers for Millennials”, as it uses an app that teaches you healthy habits and smart eating choices. You can keep track of your meals, your exercise activity, blood pressure, weight, etc. It also has a lot of health resources and connects you to a health coach.

Dubrow Diet


Named after Heather Dubrow of Real Housewives of Orange County and her husband Terry Dubrow, a plastic surgeon and host of Botched, this diet is a spin on intermittent fasting. They instead call it “interval eating.” Seems like a fad to me, quasi-celebrities trying to cash in on their social media following.

Keto Diet


This comes as no surprise to me that the Keto diet is the top of the list. It is everywhere these days. It involves eating lots of healthy fats and minimal carbs to force your body into ketosis. This is a process in which your body burns fat for energy, as opposed to sugars (carbohydrates). It is pretty restrictive but can be a great way to lose excess fat and tone your physique.

December 12, 2018

Foods to Avoid for High Blood Pressure

avoid these foods to decrease the risk of hypertension

There are so many different foods that you can have in your diet, and there are likewise so many differing opinions on whether certain foods are healthy or unhealthy. Take eggs, for example. How many times have the experts flipped back and forth on how good they are for you? I don’t even know what to believe anymore.

I came across an article today that talks about foods that you should avoid if you want to decrease your risk of high blood pressure (hypertension). For me, it is not an issue as I am actually on the opposite end of the scale with low blood pressure. But, as I like to keep informed on all health topics, and spread it to my readership, I thought I’d pass these findings along.

Avoid These Foods and Drinks for Hypertension

First of all, for some background, high blood pressure affects a decent percentage of the population. It is estimated nearly 32% percent of the adult population in the US, which accounts for around 75 million people, have this condition. It is one of the leading causes of death, as it contributes to heart disease and stroke by putting extra pressure on your blood vessels and vital organs. HBP can be brought upon by two factors – a poor diet and lack of exercise.

If you’re not getting enough exercise, I have plenty of resources on this site to help you get more active. But that’s not what this post is about. As for what to avoid in your diet if you don’t want to raise your chances of hypertension, stay away from the foods and drinks listed below.

Salt

This is one of the biggest culprits in increasing your chances of developing high blood pressure.

It is hard to stay away from as it has become such a staple in our diets. On that note, it is found in so many foods that we commonly eat. For instance, you may not think that bread could raise your blood pressure.

salt increases the risk of hypertension

However, salt is often used in the baking process as well as sprinkled on the top of finished loaves.

As a rule of thumb, try to stick to less than six grams of salt each day. This is about the size of a teaspoon. To keep track, always read the nutrition information on the foods you buy. Try to use it sparingly to season your food.

Breakfast Cereals

The main reason why the cereal you may enjoy for breakfast may lead to hypertension is also the reason why it tastes so good! The culprit is sugar. It is added to many kinds of cereal to sweeten the taste but does not provide any nutritional value. Aside from increasing the risk of getting hypertension, the added calories can lead to weight gain.

This, in turn, causes the heart to work harder to pump blood and can increase your blood pressure.

This isn’t to say to avoid breakfast cereal altogether, just make smart choices for the type that you eat.

Alcohol

It has been found that even consuming just one drink of alcohol can increase your chances of developing HBP, with consuming three or more drinks raising your levels even more.

Binge drinking over the long-term can have a great impact on your blood pressure and your health. 

how alcohol can raise blood pressure

Alcohol also contains calories that can contribute to weight gain which, as described above, also puts undue stress on your heart. Alcoholic drinks can also interfere with blood pressure medication, leading to adverse side effects.

Diets for Cardiovascular Health

Want foods that can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease? Check out this previous post about the Mediterranean Diet and cardiovascular health.

December 12, 2018

Red Meat and Heart Disease

I talked in an earlier post about how over 25,000 women were studied and it was found that there is a significant reduction in risk factors of heart disease with the Mediterranean diet. If you have cardiovascular issues in your family history or are exhibiting some of the warning signs, that is a meal plan that you should definitely take a look at.

On the other side of the equation, new research has indicated a culprit that can increase your risk of heart disease. I’m talking about red meat. I love a nice lean steak just like most people, but apparently, it should be enjoyed in moderation if you want to keep your risk factors of cardiovascular issues low. Let’s get into what the new study reveals.

Red Meat Increases Risk of Heart Disease

The main culprit behind this increased risk is a compound called TMAO. Two recent studies that were published this week examined people who were vegetarians, individuals who only eat white meat like poultry, and people who consumed red meat. It was found that the former two groups (vegetarians and white meat eaters) had much lower production of TMAO. Furthermore, it was found that once consumption of red meat was stopped, your body stops making this unhealthy compound.

Not only does this compound have an effect on your cardiovascular system, but it also showed a dramatic effect on kidney function. According to a researcher, it actually changes the function of the kidney.

TMAO, which is short for trimethylamine N-oxide, is produced by bacteria in the gut when food is digested. This is particularly true when eating red meat, which causes the gut bacteria to produce a precursor that is then metabolized into TMAO. There are a number of kinds of bacteria that boost production of TMAO, all of which are prominently found in red meat as well as eggs and dairy products.

studies find link between red meat and heart disease

This compound can lead to blood clots, which are associated with heart attacks and strokes. Furthermore, it can also raise the risk of colorectal cancer and early death.

The good news is that, while TMAO levels spike with the consumption of red meat, these levels can be normalized again after discontinuation of eating this type of protein for four weeks.

My Takeaway


Surely, not many of us have the discipline to cut out red meat from our diet altogether. The article that I read on this topic didn’t have any conclusion on what is a healthy amount, rather it cites examples of individuals who have cut it out of their diet altogether. I’m not sure that I could do that. There has to be a healthy level that doesn’t spike your TMAO levels too much.

It goes without saying, watch what you eat. Follow a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat foods, proteins from plant sources, and limit your red meat according to these studies. Also, while supplements are great, it is best to get your nutrients through your regular diet by eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals.

Mediterranean Diet and Heart Disease

the Mediterranean Diet can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases

With so many different diet plans available today, and so many of them becoming a rage (it’s like a cycle) and then dying off, how do you know which one to choose? Which one delivers the best results?

I put together a list of all the best weight loss diets, though the information in there is rather short-sighted. Sure, all of them can help you lose weight in the short-term. But many of them have become recent fads, and there isn’t a lot of data on how permanent the results can be.

One diet in particular, however, has the benefit of longevity and now has some science behind it on whether or not it can improve your health and help you lose weight. Continue reading below to see what effect it had more than 25,000 women over a 12-year study.

Long-Term Results of the Mediterranean Diet

To start off, let’s get into what the Mediterranean Diet is. I go into far more detail in my post here, but the gist of it is it mimics the eating habits of those in the Mediterranean area (yes, I know that is obvious). It is very plant-heavy and also incorporates healthy fats and a bit of red wine. As compared to other diet fads, it actually makes for some pretty delicious meals that offer a lot of variety.

As for the new findings, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public health recently published a study on more than 25,000 women tracked over 12 years. If you want me to cut to the chase, it was found that those who followed the Med diet most closely exhibited a reduced risk of heart disease, with results comparable to those who take prescription medicine for heart issues.

The women were given a questionnaire with a list of foods and answered it based on their diet.

Each food had a numerical value relative to how close it was to being part of the Mediterranean diet. The women were then given scores on how closely the followed this diet plan.

Out of the nearly 26,000 women, around 6,000 were scored as being very closely following this diet. At the beginning of the study, a number of biomarkers were recorded and it was found that these ~6,000 women had a nearly 30% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Women who were in the middle range of scores, somewhat following the Med diet, also showed a 23% reduction in risk factors for heart issues.

Key Takeaways


What this says is promising for those who follow this eating plan, and provides hope for those who have a family history of cardiovascular disease or stroke. It is never too late to change your nutrition to have better health, and this could be a simple way to mitigate the risk. It could also make a huge impact on our healthcare system, as more than 600,000 people in the U.S. die from cardiovascular issues.

If you’re interested, you can find the entire study published here.

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