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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Intermittent Fasting: Feast AND Famine?

“Drink this expensive protein shake, and you’ll drop 3 sizes in 10 days!” “Take these pills, and in just 1 month you’ll lose 50 pounds; no exercise required!” Juicing cleanse. Water fasting… The dreaded “boiled egg diet.” We are constantly bombarded with new products, diets, and promises of better health, more energy, and longevity. How can we possibly navigate through the media and determine which claims are worth a try, and which ones are total bunk? Well, the first rule I always remind myself of is if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. That can knock out quite a few fads right off the bat. But what about the ones that sound like they may actually have some truth behind them? One diet in particular that seems to be peaking everyone’s interest is “intermittent fasting,” but why? Let’s take a closer look.
             Intermittent fasting (IF) has been around for centuries as a part of certain religious practices, but it has recently been gaining popularity in the media as a potential weight-management solution. IF is any diet that incorporates a period of voluntary caloric restriction; i.e. purposely avoiding food or beverage (other than water) for a given amount of time as a way of controlling caloric intake. The most commonly studied types of IF are as follows:
  •        Alternate-day fasting – eating regularly some days, but alternating with days where zero calories are consumed.
  •        Modified fasting – rather than consuming zero calories on fasting days, calories are restricted to 20-25% of an individual’s needs. These fasting days are still alternated with “regular” or unrestricted days of eating.
  •        Time-restricted feeding – each day contains a fasting period where zero calories can be consumed. The remaining “window” allows for unrestricted caloric intake. The most common type of time-restricted feeding is to incorporate an extended fast overnight.

So, how does it work? That hasn’t been completely figured out yet, but there are some viable theories. Essentially, it is believed that people become predisposed to obesity and associated diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease when their lifestyle behaviors, sleep patterns, and gut microbiota (healthy, naturally occurring microorganisms) are out of balance. Current advocates of IF suggest that by practicing IF, an individual can reset these imbalanced issues. This results in decreased insulin, less inflammation, weight loss, and ultimately lower risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer. For some individuals, a certain type of IF may not be far from what their current eating schedule is like, so it may seem like a sustainable, long-term possibility. That may not be true for everyone though. As with any diet, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. In fact, it could even be dangerous for some.

IF is a restrictive eating pattern and should not be attempted by anyone that either has or is at risk of developing an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, or other specified feeding and eating disorders). It can trigger old habits or cause someone with no former eating disorder diagnosis to suddenly develop inappropriate and unhealthy eating behaviors. IF may also be unsafe for individuals with diabetes as they have not been studied specifically. Diabetes causes irregularities with insulin levels, and since it has been suggested that IF reduces insulin, it could potentially cause someone with diabetes to develop dangerously low blood sugar levels.

In general, it appears IF may have some health benefits, but more human studies need to be conducted before that can be officially proven. The studies that have been conducted seem promising but have either contained a small number of participants, lacked controls, or had mixed results. Actually, IF may not be any better than a typical calorie restricted diet when it comes to short-term weight management. Also, many claims are based on findings from rat studies which we can’t just assume translate to human subjects. Only time will tell. Whatever you choose, play it safe, and consult your healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.

Callie Shaw is a Dietetic Intern in the combined Dietetic Internship and FCS Master’s degree program at NMSU with a B.S. in Nutrition/Dietetics from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She believes that knowledge is power, and she is dedicated to sharing nutrition education in community settings to improve public health throughout the region. 

References available upon request.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

What is an anti-inflammatory diet?

It seems like every time we turn around there is a new diet to follow. You may have heard of one that has been gaining popularity, the anti-inflammatory diet. This diet is based on the idea that certain food decrease inflammation and that other foods increase it. But what exactly is inflammation? Which foods are limited and which are encouraged on this diet? This article will help you understand the difference between acute and chronic inflammation, how it affects your health, and the role diet plays.

Simply stated, inflammation is the immune system's response to illness or injury. Think of the last time you stubbed your toe. Immediately after the injury, you probably noticed pain, swelling, and redness. This is acute inflammation and is a result of the body sending blood and fluid filled with cytokines, proteins involved in cell signaling, to the sore toe. Cytokines signal the body to send immune cells, such as white blood cells and prostaglandins, to the site to fight off infection or heal damaged tissues. Acute inflammation is the body's response to immediate threats, but chronic inflammation is a steady release of immune cells even when there is no infection to fight or injury to repair. This state of constant, low-level of inflammation has been linked to several diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's. Chronic inflammation can be triggered by autoimmune diseases, but it can also be a result of lifestyle factors, such as excess body weight or lack of physical activity.

So, how does anti-inflammatory diet help? The diet includes foods that will combat chronic inflammation and limits foods that can contribute to it. Fried foods, highly processed foods, and foods high in sugar are thought to increase inflammation and should be avoided. Foods that are encouraged are minimally processed, whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has many health benefits, and fighting inflammation is one of them. Plant-based foods contain nutrients called phytochemicals. These contribute to the health benefits of these foods.

These are thousands of different types of phytochemicals, each with a different function and a different health benefit. Anthocyanins give the deep blues, reds, and purples to fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries or red cabbage. They also help to reduce stimulation of cytokines that lead to inflammation. Capsaicin is what gives red and green chiles their signature heat, and it decreases the activity of inflammatory immune cells. Gingerol gives ginger its unique flavor, and in some studies has helped to reduce pain and swelling of joints in rheumatoid arthritis. Carotenoids give bright orange, red, and yellow coloring to carrots, tomatoes, and apricots, and they have been shown to inhibit secretion of inflammatory cells. Bromelain is derived from pineapple and helps keep immune response in check, decreasing immune response when there is no threat and enhancing it when needed. Phytochemicals are found in all plant-based foods, which include spices, olive oil, and teas. Oleocanthal, found in virgin olive oil, and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), found in green team decrease the effects of cytokines. Tumeric, properties because it is a good source of curcumin.

Hopefully, the guidelines of anti-inflammatory diet sound familiar. After all, it boils down to minimizing processed, fried, and sugary foods, and emphasizing fruits and vegetables. These guidelines are also included in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines developed by the United States (U.S.) Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. If you follow the Dietary Guidelines, you are very likely already following an anti-inflammatory diet. Below is a table of the phytochemicals written about in the article. Remember these are just one type. Strive to eat a wide variety of plant-based foods to gain anti-inflammatory benefits of phytochemicals as well as the benefits of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber contained in these foods.

Reference available upon request

Rebecca Kidd is a Dietetic Intern in the Combine Internship and FCS Master's degree program at NMSU with a B.S. in Nutrition/Dietetics from UNM. She is passionate about improving public health through evidence-based nutrition education.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Debunking Top 10 Nutrition Myths Cont.

Cutting Down To The Chase
  • Nutrition Myth #6: You can eat as much natural sugar as you like. 
    • Fruit sugar is broken down in the body in a similar manner as other forms of sugar. Now don't misunderstand, getting your sugar from eating a bowl of berries is significantly better than that delicious fudge brownie you indulged in last night at 1 a.m. after binge-watching a whole season of your favorite show. But, when it comes down to it, you can still over-do the amount of sugar you consume through fruits, especially fruit juices. Enjoy your fruit because of the numerous health benefits such as the fiber and antioxidants but be mindful and eat portion sized according to MyPlate.
  • Nutrition Myth #7: Eating small meals every 3 hours is the best way to lose weight.
    • Finding the time to eat every 3 hours can be near impossible. Especially, with the hectic schedules most Americans have all week, this makes finding time to eat healthy a challenge. Therefore, it is great news to find out research is being done on intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is fasting for a selected number of hours before eating a meal. According to a study done on the effects of an 8-hour time-restricted feeding, participants that fasted lost body weight and had lower systolic blood pressure. This provides evidence that intermittent fasting can aid in weight loss. Although intermittent fasting may not be for everyone, it could possibly be a great option for people struggling with weight loss and not having the time to eat numerous small meals throughout a day. Just be sure not to overheat after a fasting period.
  • Nutrition Myth #8: Eating sugar causes diabetes.
    • Contrary to popular belief, consuming sugar does not cause diabetes. Diabetes results from genetics and numerous other factors involved with lifestyle choices. Eating too much of any source of calories can cause obesity. Obesity is a risk factor for diabetes. 
  • Nutrition Myth #9: Eating after 6 p.m. will cause weight gain. 
    • It would be great if the laws of nutrition were that simple. Stop eating at this time and you will stay healthy. Sadly, it is not that simple. Many factors come in to play when it comes to what time you should be eating. The biggest indicator of weight gain or loss is calories out. If you did not consume more energy then you exerted, you will not gain weight no matter what time you eat. If you are eating late night snacks and you have had the adequate number of calories needed for that day, this will cause weight gain. When looking at a magical time to stop eating, it will be beneficial to pay attention to the amount of food you have consumed throughout the day rather than, the times the food was consumed. 
  • Nutrition Myth #10: Crash diets are a great way to lose weight.
    • From going on 3-day juice cleanses to eating nothing but salads for 3 weeks, we have all heard these weight loss claims. When it comes to weight loss, research suggests losing more than one to two pounds of fat per week does not have long-term weight loss results. In fact, crash dieting usually causes chaos within the bodies hormone cycle, resulting in massive eating binges leading to gaining more weight than lost. When it comes to successful weight loss, incorporating healthy lifestyle choices every day is key. Mindful eating and exercise need to become a conscious part of a person's life. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Debunking Top 10 Nutrition Myths

You have come to the decision that you want to change your eating habit. You may be wanting to regain energy and mental focus, or you have just found out you have a food intolerance. Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that it can be a confusing and challenging task to understand nutrition. You may be feeling overwhelmed with every new artice and magazine giving the latest diet fad or nutrition advice. Where can you find the truth?

Evidence-Based Nutrition
When reading through articles, blogs, or any other source and trying to find reliable nutrition information, it is important to find out if the nutrition information, it is important to find out if the nutition claims are backed up by scientific evidence. Evidence-based nutrition is nutrition that has been researched, and the research has shown significant proof that the nutrition claim is accurate. The following nutritional advice is designed to help debunk some of today's top nutrition myths.

Cutting Down to The Chase 

  • Nutrition Myth #1: Fresh fruit and vegtables are always better than frozen 
    • FALSE! Numerous studies have shown that purchasing forzen fruit and vegetables can have the same nutrition content as fresh produce. In fact, a study done in California, examined four vitamins in eight different fruits and vegetables, and compared the vitamin content. Suprisingly, results showed higher amounts of alpha tocopherol, a form of the vitamin commonly refer to as Vitamin E, in the frozen produce. Don't shy away from buying frozen when a fruit or vegetable is out of season. Just remember to read food labels, and make sure they haven't been heavily processed before the freezing. Simple check the vitamin and mineral levels on the labels and compare the percentages of each vitamin on different brands to help you decide which is the better purchase.
  • Nutrition Myth #2: Organic means healthy
    • While buying organic fruit, vegetable, dairy, and animal products does provide some health benefits, many processed foods that are labeled as organic are not as healthy as believed. The issue that comes into play, is that these organic processed foods can have sugar, salt, fats, and can be high in calories. Remember that the nutritional content within food is equally important to it being organic. 
  • Nutrition Myth #3: At the first of a cold, better load up on the vitamin C to recover faster
    • I'm going to have to stamp this with a big fat "I WISH". Although it would be nice to have a simple magical cure to help shorten your cold, a systemic review has shown that vitamin C supplementation alone will not prevent or reduce duration of a cold. One study tested the regular use of vitamin C supplementation in subjects, and it only made an 8% difference in chances of getting a cold. Save yourself the time and money; don't run to the nearest drug store for that vitamin C cold cure. Instead, get rest and let the cold run its course. 
  • Nutrition Myth #4: Stay away from eggs if you have high cholesterol 
    • Current research suggest that consuming foods in high cholesterol is not as harmful as made out to be. Without cholesterol, we wouldn't have life because cholesterol has many viral functions within our bodies. A study done in Korea, provided evidence that eating 4-7 eggs per week showed a reduction in cholesterol levels. Eggs are also a great source of protein anc certain nutrients difficult to find in other foods. 
  • Nutrition Myth #5: If you want to lose weigh eat a low-fat diet
    • This is ill-advised because fats are key macronutrients in countless physiological mechanism within the human body. In fact, the human brain is virtually 60% fat. Not only are low-fat diets not the best weight loss strategy, but not consuming the daily recommended amount of fats can have a negative impact on health. Fats are esstential for cell membrane structure and other functions, namely tranferring fat-soluble vitamins throughtout the body. Digging into the researc, a review comparing 53 studies on low-fat diet intervention compared to other weight loss approaches was organized. The results concluded that higher-fat interventions had greater long-term weight loss results. Understand that avoiding fats altogether is not the healthiest option. Choosing healthier fats such as, unsaturated fats in fish, avocados and nuts can be beneficial. Keep in mind, that the average American diet is vastly high in saturated fats. Rather than avoiding fats keep an eye out for the type of fat and amount consumed. 

Mandy Johnson is a senior at the New Mexico State University studying Human Nutrition and Dietitics. She is the president of the Student Association of Nutrition and Dietitics. 

References can be made available upon request

Friday, August 3, 2018

Sin Miedo...

Todos le tenemos miedo a algo, ya sea a las arañas o al cucuy. Hay personas que tienen miedo de ir al doctor, ya sea por miedo a lo que les digan, a que los regañen o por miedo a hacer preguntas. Estos miedos a veces surgen a raíz de que se haya tenido una experiencia mala en alguna visita al doctor. También podría ser por que nunca ha ido a ver a un doctor y no sabe que esperar o piensan que les va a dar malas noticias. Para poder llevar una vida saludable, se recomienda que se visite a un médico al menos una vez al año. Como paciente, usted tiene derecho a recibir información completa acerca de su estado de salud, así como recursos que le pueda ayudar a vivir una vida saludable. Pero para esto, es importante que le haga preguntas a doctor, sin miedo.

Si es la primera vez que va con un doctor o si ya va con regularidad, siempre hay que ir preparados. Algunos consejos para prepararse para ir con al doctor son:
  •        Cargar con su tarjeta de seguro médico o comprobante de seguro, junto con una identificación.
  •        Llevar su historial de salud y una lista con los antecedentes de enfermedad que hay en su familia.
  •        Si toma cualquier medicamento, apunte los nombres o lleve las medicinas para que el doctor las vea.
  •        Lleve una lista con las preguntas o dudas que le quiera hacer al doctor.
  •        Tome notas durante la consulta.

Ir preparados para una consulta médica ayuda tanto a usted como al doctor. Al llevar todo apuntado, será más fácil recordar lo que le necesite decir al doctor, ya sea actualizarlo con algún síntoma nuevo o hacer preguntas acerca de su tratamiento. Los doctores y otros profesionales de la salud están para ayudarlos a vivir una vida sana. No tenga miedo de preguntar.

Para más información de cómo prepararse para una cita médica, siga el siguiente enlace:

También puede contactar al agente de Extensión de su condado para más información de salud y bienestar.

Isela García estudia la maestría en salud pública en la Universidad Estatal de Nuevo México (NMSU) y obtuvo su licenciatura en laboratorio clínico de la Universidad de Texas en El Paso (UTEP). Isela se crío en El Paso y en Ciudad Juárez. Después de haber trabajado haciendo análisis clínicos en varios hospitales, decidió estudiar la maestría en salud pública para poder ayudar las comunidades fronterizas a vivir una vida saludable. Su meta es ayudar a crear programas educativos que puedan ayudar a las comunidades a prevenir enfermedades, especialmente para aquellos que hablan en español.