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Healthy Diet Eggplant Pizza

Eggplant mini-pizzas

If you are on a diet and you are thinking about pizza, here is a dish that will satisfy your cravings and help you limit your calories. This recipe uses eggplant slices instead of bread crust as the foundation for the pizza.
Learn how to make these Eggplant Pizzas and other delicious dishes.

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How to lose weight and keep it off

Our metabolism slows down as we age, and if we keep eating like when we were young, we eventually get fat. Many studies have shown that people over the age of 50 appear to gradually lose muscle mass and gain weight. Paul Williams of the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) investigated the question of whether vigorous exercise can prevent weight gain with age. The study showed that in 4,769 runners between the ages of 18 and 50, weight gain occurred at the same rate regardless of the number of miles run per week. The average six-foot-tall man gained about 3.3 pounds and about 3/4 inches around the waist every 10 years.

So, exercise is not the answer to keeping weight off. But we already knew that. Moderately vigorous exercise burns up only around 400 calories per hour which is about the number of calories in a medium size serving of McDonald's French Fries. We can eat more calories in five minutes than we can lose in one hour of exercise. The way to keep the weight off is to limit what we eat.

I read a recent post in Mary Robinson's CRON Diary. Mary has been a practitioner of Calorie Restriction with Optimum Nutrition (CRON) for many years, but over the past couple of years her life has changed substantially. Her son moved away to go to college, she retired, moved from the Washington, D.C. area to Austin, Texas, and she took in her mother to live with her. All these changes destabilized the predictable routine that made it possible for her to control her diet. The weight gain sneaked up on her. She says:
"I am going to return to square one on CR - well maybe square three. I've just gotten lazy about it and have let the vacation atmosphere of my current situation, my mom's slightly bad influence, Austin cuisine, and being home all day with easy access to the kitchen all derail me to some extent. The level of vigilance that was working reasonably well when I was working in Washington just does not work for me here. I've continued to slowly gain weight and now I weigh 8 pounds more than I did during my "golden" period of 3 or 4 years, when my weight was very stable."

Can you count the number of excuses in that paragraph? Vacation atmosphere, mom's influence, Austin cuisine, being at home all day, access to the kitchen... Weight gain happens so slowly that we hardly notice it. An extra 50 calories per day will result in a weight gain of one-pound in just over two months. That is just one extra slice of bread per day! The 3.3 pounds that the runners gained over 10 years corresponds to a gain of only 1/3 of a pound per year which is really imperceptible. It corresponds to 3.2 extra calories per day or about an extra teaspoon of sugar.

Here is Mary's impression of weight gain:
"What's interesting to me is that I don't seem fatter to myself. I still look slim, as far as I can see. I guess I've gained it so slowly that I am used to it, and my weight is still good for my height. Some of my clothes are a little tight, though, which always provides good incentive to get back on careful CR!"

What is the secret to keeping weight off? The answer is simple: An accurate scale that can show tenths of a pound. Weigh yourself every morning after going to the bathroom and before eating or drinking anything. This is how you can monitor how your diet affects your weight. If you pig out, the scale will show it. If you stay a little bit hungry, the scale will show your weight loss. Don't expect to see big changes from day to day. Variations of half a pound may occur due to water retention or dehydration. It is the trend that matters. You will probably find that you have to be hungry several hours per day in order to maintain a constant weight as you age.

Learn about Weight Control

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One glass of wine per day may cause cancer

Glass of Red Wine

The waffling and inconsistency of medical advice is making us neurotic. Not too long ago, medical science was telling us that we could live longer by drinking one or two glasses of red wine per day. Researchers said that Frenchmen were relatively free from cardiovascular disease in spite of eating fatty foods because they drank wine with their meals.

Scientists then discovered that red wine contained resveratrol which is a compound that increases longevity. Even people who did not drink started a habit of drinking one glass of red wine with supper in order to live longer and avoid heart problems.

The latest research tells us that all of these studies overlooked something awful. Even one alcoholic drink per day increases the risk of cancer.[1] Researchers who studied more than 1.2 million middle-aged women for an average of seven years in the U.K. estimated that alcohol consumption could be responsible for as many as 11% of breast cancers in women. Cancer epidemiologist Naomi Allen, one of the researchers, said:
"There were no minimum levels of alcohol consumption that could be considered to be without risk."

Drinking is not as bad as it seems. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has completed an extensive review of current scientific knowledge about the health effects of moderate alcohol consumption. It found that the lowest death rate from all causes occurs at the level of one to two drinks per day. That is, moderate drinkers have the greatest longevity.

The NIAAA's conclusion that moderate drinking is beneficial to heart health will be included in the next revision of the dietary guidelines to be issued by the U.S. government.

Drinking alcohol may slightly increase the risk of breast cancer. However, Dr. Lorraine Gunzerath of NIAAA emphasizes that women should weigh the small increase in breast cancer risk (one percentage point) against the sharp decrease in heart disease risk (40%) resulting from moderate drinking. Also important is the fact that about 4% of American women die of breast cancer while about 50% die of heart disease.
Learn how to reduce cancer risks through diet and lifestyle changes

[1] Allen, N.E. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, March 4, 2009; vol 101: pp 296-305.

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You may be taking steroids and not know it

Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) has admitted that he took performance-enhancing drugs supplied by his cousin. For many years, Rodriguez denied using performance-enhancing drugs, but Sports Illustrated reported that he was on a list of 104 players who tested positive during baseball's 2003 survey. The New York Yankees star said that he was young and naive when he tested positive in 2003 for Primobolan and testosterone. At least A-Rod has come clean. There are many other professional sportsmen who continue to deny that they used drugs even when there is physical evidence that they did.

In today's world, it is possible to be taking steroids and not realize it. Many steroidal drugs are sold over the counter without the need of a prescription. Some drugs such as DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) are sold as "dietary supplements" that may slow aging, although there is no scientific evidence that they do. DHEA is produced naturally by the adrenal glands and its production decreases with age. DHEA is metabolized to steroids like androstenediol and androstendione, which can undergo further conversion to produce testosterone and the estrogens estrone and estradiol.

If you watch some late night TV shows, you are bombarded by commercials for male enhancement supplements which include prescription medicines like Viagra or Cialis which are non-steroidal drugs. There are also many commercials for ExtenZe that can be obtained without a prescription by mail and is promoted as an herbal pill that may increase penis size by 1 to 3 inches in just a few short weeks. What the commercials do not tell you is that, in addition to some herbs, ExtenZe contains DHEA and Pregnenolone (3B-hydroxypregn-5-en-10-one) both of which are steroidal drugs.

If you consume any pharmaceutical products, nutrition supplements, bodybuilding supplements, or diet aids, you could be taking some steroids without knowing it.
Learn how to read product labels

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Food Contamination can affect Your Health

E. Coli bacteria E. Coli Bacteria

All peanut products processed by the Peanut Corporation of America in Blakely, Georgia were recently recalled because they were contaminated with salmonella bacteria. Hundreds of people got food poisoning from eating peanut products manufactured by the company, and several people died. According to press reports, when the company found a sample that was contaminated, they did not make any effort to remedy the unsanitary conditions that had caused the bacterial contamination. Instead, they would submit a sample to a different laboratory until the sample passed. The contaminated products were then marketed and distributed as usual.

Contamination of food is widespread, but usually it does not cause death or illness. The most common types of contamination in foods are caused by spoilage by fungi and bacteria, by infestation with insects, or by rodent hair and rodent excrement.

It is almost impossible to keep food from being contaminated, so the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established limits above which action will be taken. Contamination below those levels is not considered dangerous for human health. For example, the FDA rules state that apple butter may be eaten safely as long as it has less than 4 rodent hairs per 100 grams, or less than 5 or more whole or equivalent insects (not counting mites, aphids, thrips, or scale insects) per 100 grams.[1] It is interesting that small insects like aphids don't even count.

The story about the contaminated peanuts continues to develop. On February 15, 2009, the Washington Post reported that The Peanut Corporation of America, headed by Stewart Parnell had filed for bankruptcy protection and that Parnell was the target of a federal criminal investigation. According to the report:
"He is accused by federal investigators of intentionally sending into the stream of commerce peanut products contaminated with salmonella bacteria. The government has directly linked Parnell's peanuts to nine deaths and 637 cases of salmonella illness in 44 states and Canada, with thousands more illnesses suspected."

Parnell's lax sanitation practices have forced the recall of more than 2,000 products, many of which affected well-known brands such as Kellogg, Sara Lee, and Little Debbie. Farmers and food manufacturers have suffered great financial losses as a result of the decreased demand for peanut products caused by the fear of food poisoning.

The willful distribution of products contaminated with bacteria could be interpreted as just another example of corporate greed, but the massive scale of this case puts it more in the category of an act of bioterrorism.
Learn more about bacteria

[1] The Food Defect Action Levels. Levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods that present no health hazards for humans.

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The Wisdom of Religious Dietary Restrictions

Fasting has been used as religious penance for thousands of years. The story of Jesus fasting for forty days and nights in the wilderness has served as inspiration to achieve enlightenment through dietary restrictions. Christian churches often required a 40-day fast during Lent consisting of only one meal per day and avoiding meat, fish, and dairy products. In modern times, the restrictions have been relaxed, but many people still fast during Lent in preparation for Easter and eat fish on Fridays throughout the year. Fish provides essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Muslims observe Ramadan, which is the Islamic month of fasting. During Ramadan, Muslims do not eat or drink anything from dawn until sunset. Fasting provides a way for Muslims to purify themselves through self-restraint. Proper observation of the fast is supposed to induce a feeling of peace and calm to redirect the heart away from worldly activities and cleanse the inner soul.

Jewish dietary laws, which are ordained in the Torah, are probably the most complex of all religious food practices. Yom Kippur is the only day of fasting mandated by the Torah. During this day, all Jewish men and women are required to fast for 25 hours while reflecting about atonement and repentance. The Jewish dietary laws, or Kashrut, describe the foods that are permitted for consumption and the way of preparing them. Different sets of pots, plates, and utensils are used for meat and for dairy foods. Pork and shellfish are forbidden. Animals with split hooves and which chew a cud, including sheep and cows, are allowed for consumption. Rabbis supervise the production and handling of food to assure that all the dietary rules are followed. Food that has been approved under rabbinical supervision is marked with symbols to indicate that it is kosher.

Unfortunately, the Torah never anticipated the invention of hydrogenated fats. Many kosher foods have hydrogenated fats with trans fatty acids that are known to double the risks of heart disease. Hydrogenated fats are used because they originate from vegetable oils, rather than from some questionable animal source. The rabbis could improve the health of all the Jewish people by ruling that chemically produced hydrogenated fats are not kosher.
Learn more about fats.

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Resveratrol and Calorie Restriction

A recent program on CBS 60 Minutes described experiments on resveratrol which activates the SIRT-1 Longevity/DNA Repair gene. Resveratrol occurs naturally in red wine and has been associated with the relatively good health enjoyed by Frenchmen in spite of their diet of fatty foods like quiche, brie cheese and Foie gras (goose liver pâté).

The TV program mentioned that being hungry has long been known to activate the SIRT-1 gene, and included interviews with members of the Calorie Restriction Society (CRS) whose goal is to extend life by reducing the amount of food consumed. After the program, some members of the Society commented that the broadcast had not focused on the important scientific facts about Calorie Restriction, and instead had called the green-bean paste served for the CRS interview "baby food" and the comment by Morley Safer about "dying of boredom" from this diet was inappropriate.

In all fairness, the report was about resveratrol and the advances in biochemistry that may make it possible to extend life without having to suffer hunger. Dr. Sinclair, one of the developers, estimates that a commercial product may be available in about five years. Will this be the magic pill that solves all the problems of old age? I doubt it.

Learn more about the Calorie Restriction Diet

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Vegetarian Gorillas

Gorilla profile

Have you ever looked at the stomach of a gorilla? Their abdomen is almost twice the circumference of their chest. They are definitely pot-bellied. One of the evolutionary differences between humans and other great apes was the reduction of the length of the intestinal tract. This was achieved through bipedalism and tool use. By hunting and fishing, humans could get nutrient-dense meats and fish instead of being limited to fibrous, hard-to-digest vegetables.

The introduction of fire for cooking 300,000 years ago also influenced the reduction of the length of the human digestive tract. Cooked foods are softer and more digestible than raw foods, and cooking improves longevity by killing pathogenic bacteria and parasites that can cause diseases. The Neanderthals that preceded us had a bulky mid-section that was advantageous because it kept them warmer during the cold weather of the ice ages. The use of fire by hominids for heating and for cooking was well established by the time that modern humans appeared 160,000 years ago.

If we were limited to eating raw fruits and green vegetables, we would need to eat a lot. To get about 2000 calories, it would be necessary to eat 3 apples, 2 oranges, one whole head of lettuce, 4 medium carrots, 5 figs, 4 large tomatoes, 4 bananas, and 1 cup of walnuts. The walnuts contain about one third of the total calories, but all this food only has 39 grams of protein which is about two thirds of what an average human needs. Modern vegetarian diets reduce the amount of food needed by using beans and grains that must be cooked, but are more nutrient-dense than fruits and vegetables that have a lot of water. The inclusion of eggs, milk, meats, and fish further reduce the quantity of food needed in the diet. Some vitamins, such as Vitamin B12, are found primarily in meat, eggs and dairy products. The proper balance of animal products, vegetables, and fruits provides the complete nutrition required for modern humans.
Learn about Optimum Nutrition

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Oprah Winfrey's diet failure

Oprah Winfrey 1988 Oprah Winfrey 2008
Oprah Winfrey in 1988 and 2008

Oprah Winfrey has a history of yo-yo dieting that has been parodied on Saturday Night Live. In 1988 she lost 67 pounds on a liquid protein diet and appeared on her talk show dressed in size 10 Calvin Klein blue jeans wheeling a wagon loaded with fat representing the weight that she had lost. Recalling the occasion in 2005, she said:
"I had literally starved myself for four months - not a morsel of food. Two hours after that show, I started eating to celebrate. Of course, within two days those jeans no longer fit!"

The talk show hostess now weighs 200 pounds, up from 160 in 2006, according to an article in the January 2009 issue of O magazine. Oprah writes:
"I'm mad at myself. I'm embarrassed. I can't believe that after all these years, all the things I know how to do, I'm still talking about my weight. I look at my thinner self and think, 'How did I let this happen again?' "

Oprah has blamed her weight problems on an out-of-balance thyroid and her fear of working out because of her condition. In 1990, she regained the 67 pounds that she had lost saying:
"I've been dieting since 1977. The reason I failed is that diets don't work. I tell people, if you're underweight, go on a diet and you'll gain everything you lost plus more. Now I'm trying to find a way to live in a world with food without being controlled by it, without being a compulsive eater. That's why I say I will never diet again."

In 1994, she had slimmed down by exercising with the help of a personal trainer and a full-time, in-house chef. She even finished the Marine Corps Marathon. Oprah kept up the fitness regime through 1996, when she posed on the cover of People magazine, in which she described the diet and workout routine that finally worked for her. In 2007, Oprah told viewers that a thyroid disorder had caused her to gain 20 pounds. Oprah feels embarrassed by her current weight of 200 pounds.

The lesson that we can take from Winfrey's experience is that proper nutrition and exercise have to be a way of life. You cannot just say "I am going to lose weight" and stop eating or go on a fad diet. You have to figure out how to meet your nutritional needs for your target weight by eating real foods. You also have to be realistic about your goals. You should not wish to be too thin or too muscular. You have to aim for a normal weight and be happy with that. You also have to limit your consumption, even if you can afford abundance. And you have to be consistent. You have to set your goals and remain steadfast. This requires psychological strength.
Learn how to lose weight safely

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Don't be afraid of Sugar

Teaspoon of Sugar

A teaspoon of sugar has 15 Calories

Many people try to lose weight by cutting down on the amount of sweets that they eat. This is a good idea, but it will not be effective unless the total calories in the diet are reduced.

A study compared two diets containing 1100 Calories.[1] The diets had the same percentages of fat (11%), protein (19%) and carbohydrate (71%). The only difference was where the carbohydrates came from. In one group, 43% of the calories came from white sugar (about 118 grams or 30 teaspoons). In the other diet, only 4% came from white sugar (about 11 grams or 3 teaspoons), and the rest was derived from starches and complex carbohydrates. Both groups experienced the same decreases in weight, blood pressure, percentage body fat, and the same changes in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. The fasting blood sugar was reduced to the same extent in both groups. Each group lost about 7 kilograms (almost 15 pounds) over the 6 weeks of the study. The authors concluded that:

"the use of sucrose in a weight-loss regimen is unlikely to cause problems for the average patient, as long as total energy intake is restricted."

Although white sugar will not make you fat, it is a highly refined carbohydrate that does not have any other nutrients. If you want something sweet, it is better to eat oranges, pears, grapes, dates, raisins, and other fruits which have fiber and natural vitamins and minerals. If you want to lose weight, you have to reduce the total calories in your diet, but you don't have to be afraid of sugar in small quantities.

Learn about Carbohydrates

[1] Surwit RS, et al., Metabolic and behavioral effects of a high-sucrose diet during weight loss, Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Apr; 65(4):908-15. PMID: 9094871

Comments »

Harry Chittenden said,
2009-01-09 @ 19:37:22

All this really shows is that people lose weight when they cut calories. Maybe the spoonfuls-of-sugar diet is "unlikely to cause a problem" in six weeks, but eating that much sugar all the time certainly will. I stick to the mantra that you've written yourself, Tony. First, eat to fulfill all your nutritional needs. Then cut calories. And when comes calorie-cutting time, what better to cut than sugar and refined flour?

Not only will you lose weight, but you will thrive.

Of course you know all that.

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