Sunday, October 9, 2016

How Sensitive Is Your Leptin Response?

When looking at the different causes of diabetes, we often have to look at many factors both internally and externally. Several mechanisms and hormones play into the overall picture of whether or not someone develops the condition. One external cue is when someone is carrying an excess of body fat – we know this is a risk factor for the development of diabetes and is fundamentally due to consuming an excess of calories beyond what the body needs to maintain a healthy weight. The excess calories cannot be used as energy if the body has a surplus or expenditure is too low, so they are stored as reserves for later in the fat cells. As this imbalance continues over time, we see the weight increase, body fat percentage rise and the risk of diabetes increases as insulin resistance begins to mount.

The common thought would be that as one sees their weight increasing, they could start cutting back on calories or increasing exercise to shift the body out of the excessive calorie balance. This normally would result in weight and fat loss. But sometimes there are internal factors that may make it more difficult for certain individuals to do that, especially from the eating perspective. This is where leptin comes into play as it relates to hunger. Leptin is a hormone that is released by fat cells and binds to leptin receptors in the brain. The brain responds to the hormone, which normally signals that the body has consumed enough food and we should stop eating. Too much leptin, however, can lead to a condition called leptin resistance, in which the brain stops responding to leptin and therefore doesn't receive the signal to stop eating. Overeating ensues and the weight starts to increase. The problems then multiply as more fat cells are now producing more leptin and this leads to even further insulin resistance, similar to what happens in insulin resistance that leads to diabetes. And as you can see, the two processes actually progress hand in hand.

The best defense to stopping both of these conditions from progressing, or developing in the first place, is to start with the diet. Yes, exercise is just as important, but the calories you burn can’t make up for a diet that is poor in quality and driving things such as insulin resistance. In order for us to feel a sense of fullness or satiety, it all starts with the TYPES of foods we eat. Diets high in processed foods with too much sugar that spikes insulin, refined grains that are lacking in fiber, and food additives that actually stimulate hunger will undermine the best weight management strategies. Therefore, the basic strategy is to focus on whole foods for the majority of your diet. Fruits and vegetables will supply most of your fiber, healthy carbohydrates and many vitamins, and should be the bulk of your diet. Lean meats, beans and nuts and seeds will offer protein, healthy fats, fiber and minerals. Essential fats should come from healthy oils like coconut, olive and grapeseed and foods like avocados, olives and fatty fish. And we should always be consuming at least half of our body weight in ounces of water for proper hydration. Taking these steps will not only give us a natural sense of satiety since the foods will not cause a blood sugar roller coaster, but they will also begin the process of reversing insulin and leptin resistance, making you more likely to stay on track with a better diet that will lead to lower weight and a healthier body.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Glute Blaster Workout!

Ladies, we all know we want to tighten up the glutes. We are getting close to where everyone wears the infamous leggings! What better time than now to utilize these exercises? I compiled four main exercises I’ve been doing, and they are very simple to do at home!

·       Fire Hydrants
o   Get on hands and knees
o   Keep knees bent and lift leg out to side
o   Can either alternate legs, or do a full set then switch


·       Donkey Kicks
o   Get on hands and knees
o   Kick one leg up
o   Can either alternate leg kicks, or do a full set then switch


·       Pulsing Squats (I used a barbell, but it is not necessary to perform this exercise)
o   Pull belly button to spine via the “draw in” maneuver
o   Feet about shoulder width apart
o   Keep back straight to prevent from swaying
o   Squat down (not a full squat) and make sure knees don’t come past the toes
o   Pulse (up and down slightly)


·       Walking Lunges (I used dumbbells, but it is not necessary to perform this exercise)
o   Take a step out in front, to allow the other leg to come down (knee almost to floor)
o   Do not let the knee come out further than your toes

o   Stand up and step back together


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Want To Save $2500 Per Year? Try Exercising!

Some people cite the cost of a gym membership as a deterrent to engaging in regular exercise. Others avoid the gym as it may seem overwhelming or intimidating for those unfamiliar with the equipment or environment. But joining a gym is not the only way to engage in exercise, and regardless of the setting, everyone should be focusing on incorporating regular exercise into their weekly routines. The American Heart Association currently advises engaging in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity five days a week, or at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity three days a week, or a combination of the two. Of primary importance to adding exercise are the health benefits: better cardiovascular health, weight management, blood sugar control, and on and on. But it could also be a tool to help save you money year after year.

A new study finds that the average adult with heart disease who exercises regularly can save $2,500 annually in health care costs. Even healthy people without heart troubles can expect to save about $500 per year by working out regularly, the report found. The study tracked 2012 data from more than 26,000 Americans aged 18 and older. Nearly one-third of those with heart disease and half of those without heart disease said they met standard guidelines for weekly moderate-to-vigorous exercise. As expected, those with heart disease did have higher overall healthcare costs, but those who followed the aforementioned AHA exercise recommendations averaged $2500 less than those who did not. Among people with no heart disease and a maximum of just one heart disease risk factor, the average yearly medical costs were about $500 less than for those who didn't exercise.

Aside from the advantages of improving one’s health with the addition of exercise, the big picture takeaway from the study was the health savings costs that could be lessened over the course of a lifetime. Even the high risk group from the study reported a much lower risk of being hospitalized, having an emergency room visit and or having to use more prescription medications. The researchers estimated that if just 20 percent of inactive heart disease patients met exercise goals, it could save the United States several billion dollars a year in health care costs. For the purpose of the study, moderate exercise included activity such as fast walking, lawn mowing, or heavy cleaning. Vigorous workouts included running or race walking, lap swimming or aerobics.

Health and fitness goals may vary from person to person, but the bottom line is clear: regular exercise can benefit not only your overall health, moods and ability to function on a daily basis, but it can offer a big benefit to your wallet and bank account as well.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

What is Upper Crossed Syndrome?

Upper-crossed syndrome (UCS) is when the levator scapulae, upper trapezius, and the pectoral muscles become very tight, and the muscles at the front (flexors) of the neck, lower trapezius, and middle trapezius become over lengthened. Those that have behind the desk jobs, work out with improper form, and have muscle imbalances are more susceptible to UCS. Below are some signs to look for and ways to correct this issue.

  • Forward head
  • “Hunch back” (upper back)
  • Rounded shoulders
  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Shoulder pain

Ways to fix UCS:
  • Work out with balanced exercises 
    •  For example:
      • If you are going to work out chest, make sure to include just as much for the back
      • If you want more definition in the hamstrings, make sure to work the quadriceps as well
  • Stretch the over tightened muscles
    • Upper trapezius
    • Levator scapulae
    • Pectoral muscles 
  • Strengthen weakened muscles
    • Flexors of the neck (front of the neck)
    • Middle and lower trapezius
    • Rhomboids
  • Concentrate on posture throughout the day

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Does How You Cook Affect Your Diabetes Risk?

Food choices are always important when looking to reduce our risk of major diseases such as cancer, stroke, heart attack and diabetes. Eating more foods daily like vegetables, fruits, beans and fatty fish that have important nutrients to fuel our bodies and protect them properly should always be a priority. But even if you are eating a wide variety of healthy foods, you may be undermining your best efforts by the way you are cooking those foods. A new study is suggesting that changing the way you cook could help reduce your risk of getting one of those major diseases - type 2 diabetes.

When you fry, grill or bake foods, which are all “dry-heat “cooking methods, foods produce substances called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Higher levels of AGEs have been linked to insulin resistance, stress on the body's cells and inflammation, according to the study authors. These are all contributing factors in terms of diabetes risk, especially the insulin resistance. When the cells begin to become resistant to the effects of insulin, less sugar from the foods we eat is able to get into the cells to be used for energy. Too much sugar then remains in the blood, which promotes inflammation and stress on the body, which can manifest in the kidneys, eyes, heart or any other tissue. Therefore, other cooking methods such as boiling, steaming and poaching look like the safest way to go, the researchers say.

"When you look at people with chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes or dementia put on a high-AGE diet or a low one, those on the low-AGE diet show signs of decreasing inflammation," said the study's lead author, Dr. Jaime Uribarri. The researchers wanted to see if a low-AGE diet could offer protection to people already at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. For the study, the researchers randomly assigned study participants to either a high- or low-AGE diet. All were at least 50 years old and they had at least two of the following five health concerns (or were on medications for these problems): a large waist circumference (40 inches for men, 35 for women); high blood pressure; low HDL (good) cholesterol; high triglycerides; or elevated fasting blood sugar levels. Those in the low-AGE group were told to avoid frying, baking or grilling foods. Instead, they were encouraged to boil, steam, stew, cook with water, or poach their meals. Some examples of the changes made included substituting boiled eggs for fried eggs, poached chicken instead of grilled chicken, or beef stew instead of grilled steak, according to the study.

In the low-AGE group, "all the parameters in stress and inflammation we tested for improved. And we showed that insulin resistance came down," Uribarri said. Body weight also dropped slightly in the low-AGE group. So while we need to be paying attention to the types of foods we eat, it may also be beneficial to change the way we cook those foods.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Gluten Free Diets

As you stroll up and down the aisles of your grocery store, chances are you will have seen numerous products with the label “gluten free” on them. Many stores also have entire sections dedicated to products for those looking to eliminate it from their diets. But is this just a trend that will see its way through, or should you be giving it some thought as to how you manage your food selections?

Celiac disease would be the primary reason for someone to adopt a gluten free diet. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which foods containing gluten trigger the immune system to attack and damage the small intestine. Gluten is a protein found naturally in grains like wheat, barley and rye. People with celiac disease have no choice but to avoid gluten in their diet. If they don't, their small intestine is damaged every time they eat something with gluten. Gluten-free diets seem to be the latest fad, yet the number of people being diagnosed with celiac disease hasn't budged, new research shows.

Researchers reviewed data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, a regular survey of American health and diet conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Based on their analysis, the researchers estimated there are around 1.76 million people with celiac disease in the United States. About 2.7 million more people adhere to a gluten-free diet even though they don't have celiac disease, the findings showed. Around a half percent of survey participants reported being on a gluten-free diet in 2009-2010. By 2013-2014, that number was closing in on 2 percent, the investigators found. The number of Americans following a gluten-free diet tripled between 2009 and 2014, but diagnoses of celiac disease remained stable during that same period, the researchers found, which may have been affected by a decrease in gluten consumption the past several years. The study was published as a research letter in the online edition of JAMA Internal Medicine.

Other reasons for going gluten free could be a wheat allergy or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. These people will eliminate their symptoms by keeping gluten out of the diet, and do not suffer the same intestinal damage as those with celiac disease, although it does still produce inflammation and a lesser immune response. For others, wheat is simply a source of carbohydrates and calories that needs to be curtailed if there are concerns about weight, inflammation or insulin resistance. So while it may not be absolutely necessary to keep wheat and gluten out of the diet for most, many people are adhering to the practice to improve their health. We have seen many patients feel better after eliminating it, in conjunction with other dietary modifications to help support better health.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

6 Tips on Starting to Exercise and Keeping Your Promise to Yourself

We all have had something we are trying to achieve, and realize it was harder than we though. When it comes to exercise, it is very important and we need to keep the body healthy. We know it takes more than just saying you promise on Monday you are going to start going to the gym – we all need to be accountable!

· Find a workout buddy – It helps having someone besides yourself to keep you accountable when you try to avoid your workout. Plus, when the workout gets hard, they have your back!

· Look up gym classes – If you start scoping out classes and trying them, you can really find something you truly enjoy. Plus, when you find a class you really like you are more likely to go. Your group fitness instructor will even remember your name – you bet they may call you out if they notice you’ve missed a class!

· Always pack a bag – You never want to use the “well, I don’t have my bag,” excuse. If you always keep a change of clothes with you, the second you have some spare time you can get a couple minutes in at the gym. Who knows when your friend may ask you to join them at the gym!

· Set realistic and attainable goals – We all know it takes time to put weight on, just as it does to lose weight and gain muscle. Setting realistic goals helps you achieve them more successfully. You can always tack goals on, but you want to set yourself up for success. You can do this!

· Be positive – You are making a change, and you can stick to it. You are doing something for yourself that will help keep you healthy. It is worth it, and so are you.

· Stick to it – It takes at least a week to make a habit of something. Keep your workout time part of your schedule. You will get used to your designated time, and the day you miss you will feel thrown off. It just takes time!