Monthly Archives: January 2019

Move more to fight depression …and diabetes

depression. mental health, happy, mood, healthWhen most people start an exercise program, they may be trying to do one of a few things. Most people move more to lose weight, some exercise to gain muscle, and some just want to tone up. However, the benefit from exercise that most may not think of is improved mood. A recent study shows that moving more each day may have prevent depressive symptoms. Not to mention, that research also shows that preventing or improving such symptoms can help improve health outcomes in those with diabetes.

What is depression?

Depression is a mood disorder that can greatly impact daily life. It can make daily activities seem impossible by impacting the way you feel, think, sleep, eat, and work. There are various forms of depression such as persistent depressive disorder, which involves symptoms lasting two years or more.

On the other hand, there are forms of depression that occur as a result of certain environmental changes such as in climate like with seasonal affective disorder, or after pregnancy like with postpartum depression. Some people with depression may also experience other serious mood symptoms like with bipolar disorder or psychotic depression.

No matter what type of depression a person may have, they all share certain serious symptoms for more than two weeks at a time that may include:

  • persistent “empty” mood or sad feelings
  • irritability
  • hopelessness
  • loss of interest in hobbies or daily activities
  • decreased energy or fatigue
  • restlessness
  • moving or talking more slowly
  • difficulty concentrating
  • trouble sleeping or eating
  • digestive problems or headaches without a medical cause
  • thoughts of death or suicide

Not everyone with depression experiences every symptom. However, if you have a few of these symptoms and you feel that daily life has become hard to handle, then it may be time to reach out to a healthcare professional for help.

Antidepressant medications and psychotherapy, like talk therapy are typical primary treatments for depression. However, if these treatments alone are not helping all of your symptoms, then there are some other things you can try. Experts suggest asking for help from a trusted friend, family member, or counselor as well as taking steps to take part in your community for social support.

Another treatment option is to join a study through the National Institutes of Health where new treatments will be tested. If you need help now, then reach out to someone today for advice through one of the resources found on this website. Exercise can also be something you can do now to help improve your depressive symptoms.

Exercise and depression research 

The American Heart Association suggests that most adults exercise at least 150 minutes a week. This means that for most days of the week, you should move at least thirty minutes a day. This doesn’t have to be all at once, but can be a few minutes at a time. And this exercise should be at a moderate pace. Therefore, if you walk briskly for a few minutes here and there for a total of thirty minutes a day, then you can keep your heart strong. Not only that, but you can also keep your mind healthy too.

A recent study shows that exercise may help improve depressive symptoms. This study looked at data from over 600000 adults. Study results show that there is a protective relationship between exercise and risk for major depressive disorder. And what makes this finding stronger is that this data was taken from actual measured movement, not self-reported exercise. Therefore, experts suggest that exercise could be an effective adjunct strategy to help treat and prevent depressive symptoms.

Exercise and diabetes research

If you exercise to help improve your depressive symptoms, you could also help improve your diabetes risk. Experts report that depressive symptoms correlate strongly with a risk of incident diabetes. A study of data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) looked at whether positive behavior could help lower risk of type 2 diabetes in postmenopausal women.

The study looked at data from over 100000 women over 14 years. Study results show that those who were the most optimistic had a 12-percent lower risk of developing diabetes versus those in the lowest quartile of optimism. Also, those who showed more hostile and negative behaviors, were at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Therefore, prevention strategies to help target such negative mood and personality traits may help lower risk of type 2 diabetes in these persons.

Take home message

If you suffer from depression, then there are many steps you can take to help improve your quality of life. The first step is to ask for help.  I know this is not an easy ask, but there are many resources out there where people want to help you take back your life.

And if you have diabetes, it may be worth it to be screened for depression to see if such strategies listed above may help you not only feel better in your mind, but also help improve your diabetes symptoms.

Changes in diet such as consuming more antioxidant-rich foods and taking supplements such as Elevia by Vita Sciences may also help. Elevia contains GABA and 5-HTP to help calm your mind and boost serotonin levels. This could be another tool in your belt to help you improve your depressive symptoms and start feeling better inside and out.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD

References:

American Heart Association (last reviewed April 18, 2018) “American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids.”

Choi KW, Chen C, Stein MB, et al. (Published online January 23, 2019) “Assessment of Bidirectional Relationships Between Physical Activity and Depression Among AdultsA 2-Sample Mendelian Randomization Study.” JAMA Psychiatry, doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.4175

National Institute of Mental Health (February 2018) “Depression.”

Sandoiu, A. (January 27, 2019) “Diabetes: How optimism may influence your risk.” Medical News Today, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324297.php

 


  • Could fish oil lower your risk of stroke?

    fish oil. stroke, healthy fat, health, heart healthStroke continues to be one of the top ten leading causes of death in the United States.  And even if a person survives a stroke, they may face permanent disability from a stroke. In turn, having a stroke could greatly impact a person’s quality of life. This is why it’s so important to keep learning more about how this disease can be prevented. A recent study shows that taking a fish oil supplement each day may help lower risk of stroke.

    What is stroke?

    Stroke is a form of vascular disease that affects the arteries to and within the brain.  A stroke occurs when these vessels become blocked by a clot or bursts. A stroke caused by a blockage is called an ischemic stroke. On the other hand, a stroke called by a ruptured vessel is called a hemorrhagic stroke.

    Since these arteries normally carry oxygen and blood to the brain, this blockage can be deadly. If the brain, or the control center of your body, doesn’t receive oxygen or nutrients, then brain cells can die. This in turn can wreak havoc all over your body.

    Depending on what area of the brain the stroke occurs, different complications can occur. A right brain stroke can cause paralysis on the left side of the body, vision problems, and memory loss. On the other hand, a stroke on the left side of the brain can cause paralysis on the right side of the body, speech problems, and memory loss.

    Either way, these complications can greatly affect quality of life. However, by taking care of your heart health, you can lower your risk of stroke.

    What is fish oil?

    Fish oil is a supplement that contains omega-3 fatty acids. Two of the primary long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements are DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, and EPA, or eicosapentaenoic acid.  These fatty acids are marine-based, hence fish oil supplements.

    The omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are well-known for their role in heart health. Study results show that fish oil works well as a supportive treatment, along with statins, to help lower heart disease risk. The average fish oil supplement provides about 1000 milligram of fish oils, containing about 180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA or more.

    An example of a high quality fish oil supplement is the formula developed by Vita Sciences. This fish oil by Vita Sciences contains 400mg of EPA and 300mg of DHA in a 1000 milligram fish oil supplement.

    Stroke and fish oil research

    A recent study analyzed data from about 55,000 people enrolled in the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health study. They completed dietary surveys and had baseline adipose tissue analysis completed. Then, the individuals had follow-up assessments after 13.5 years to check for ischemic stroke status events, if any.

    Study results show that those with higher adipose tissue content of EPA showed a lower risk of total ischemic stroke.  Also, lower rates of large artery atherosclerosis were seen with higher intakes of total marine n-3 PUFA, EPA, and DHA.

    Other ways to reduce stroke risk

    Besides taking a fish oil supplement each day, here are some other ways you can lower your stroke risk.

    • Quit smoking if you already do. This is because smoking can constrict blood vessels. This, in turn, can raise blood pressure and increase risk of stroke.
    • Maintain heart health by keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels in a healthy range. You can do this by eating a diet rich in fiber and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Also, be sure to move more on a regular basis to keep your heart muscle strong and maintain a healthy weight.
    • Keep your blood glucose levels in a healthy range. This is because those with diabetes are at higher risk for heart health issues than those without diabetes.
    • Visit your doctor regularly. By having your labs done at least yearly (or more often if you have a chronic disease risk), you can track your progress. Early detection of heart health issues can help lower your risk of stroke.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD

    References:

    American Stroke Association (accessed January 23, 2019) “About Stroke.”

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (last reviewed November 28, 2017) “Stroke.” https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/index.htm

    Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (accessed January 23, 2019) “Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution.” https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/types-of-fat/omega-3-fats/

    Hughes, S. (January 17, 2019) “Fish Oil, Particularly EPA, Linked to Reduced Ischemic Stroke.” https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/907950

    National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (last updated November 21, 2018) “Omega-3 Fatty Acids.”

    Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (last updated October 29, 2018) “Reduce Your Risk of Stroke.”


  • A team approach may help diabetes health and your relationships

    diabetes, heart health, team, marriage, relationship, health, exerciseDiabetes can be a difficult condition to tackle on your own. The diet changes, doctor’s appointments, blood glucose checks, and other lifestyle changes that come along with treatment can be overwhelming. Also, in some cases weight loss may be recommended as part of treatment which can be more stressful. Therefore, you may not know where to begin. And in turn, you may be afraid you’re going to fail and make your condition worse. However, a recent study shows that taking a team approach to diabetes treatment may lead to better health outcomes.

    What is diabetes?

    Diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body either does not produce any or enough insulin, or your body is having trouble using the insulin it has. Insulin helps the body use glucose as energy. Therefore, when someone has the condition, the blood often contains more glucose than it should. This is because the insulin is either not present or not able to use the glucose for energy very well.

    There are two major types of the condition. Type 1, which is often diagnosed in children, involves an autoimmune reaction. This reaction stops the body from making insulin. Therefore, people who have this type have to take insulin injections every day to survive.

    On the other hand, type 2 can be diagnosed at any age, but is mostly seen in adults. This type occurs when the body can’t use insulin well. In turn, the glucose levels in the blood are difficult to control.

    Common treatment options

    Treatment options will depend on the type of diabetes you have. For those with type 1, you will need to take insulin every day in the form of an injection or through an insulin pump. However, for those with type 2, weight loss along with healthy eating and exercise is just as important as medication treatment. Furthermore, if someone has prediabetes, which is borderline type 2, these lifestyle changes can prevent a person from developing the full-blown condition.

    Other parts of type 2 treatments may include non-insulin medications. These medications help your blood glucose from becoming too high after you eat. Regardless of what type of diabetes you have, you will likely have to check your blood glucose levels often.

    This is because it will help you and your healthcare provider to keep track of your progress. It will also help your doctor figure out how much insulin or other medications you need to control your blood glucose levels. And for some people, they may have to check their blood glucose levels multiple times a day.

    Team approach to treatment

    Diabetes treatment involves a lot of different lifestyle changes that can be overwhelming for anyone. Therefore, a recent study looked at the impact of a team approach to treatment.

    Researchers looked at the effect of couples calls on health outcomes. The couples calls involved ten calls focusing on partner communication, collaboration, and support. Each couple had one partner with type 2 diabetes. This intervention was compared with those that received individual calls or diabetes education calls.

    Study results show that those who received couples calls had:

    • greater reductions in diabetes distress
    • higher increases in marital satisfaction (at four and eight months)
    • some improvements in diastolic blood pressure.

    Researchers found that “involved partners benefited emotionally” and also felt better about their relationship. This is because the challenges of the disease brought an opportunity for them to work together to deal with the challenges.

    Summary

    Diet, exercise, medications, and blood glucose testing are all necessary for optimal diabetes treatment. But it goes without saying that having a support system through your journey can be very helpful as well.  Also, you could benefit from a supplement like Glucarex by Vita Sciences. Glucarex contains ingredients like chromium, cinnamon, and alpha lipoic acid that can promote weight loss, improved metabolism, and healthier blood glucose levels.  Here’s to improved health this new year and for years to come.

    References:

    Centers for Disease Control (June 1, 2017) “About Diabetes.”

    National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (November 2016) “Insulin, Medicines, & Other Diabetes Treatments.”

    Physician’s Briefing (January 14, 2019) “Couples Intervention May Aid Partners of Diabetes Patients.”

     


  • Eat less red meat in your diet for better heart health this new year

    red meat, health, heart health, beef, pork, processed meatWhen you’re planning your healthy diet this year, don’t forget the protein. However, if you’re following a low carbohydrate, paleo, or keto diet this year, be sure to plan your protein in a healthful way. Many people trying to cut carbs often just eat whatever protein they crave. This can sometimes mean lots of burgers, sausage, and bacon. This type of red meat is ok in moderation. But too much red meat can be harmful to heart health. Recent studies show that red meat can release a chemical in the body that can put you at greater risk for heart disease.

    What is considered red meat?

    Red meat is just as it sounds. A protein is considered red meat when it has red-colored flesh. The reddish color comes from the amount of the protein myoglobin found in the meat. This protein is purplish in color and is fixed in the tissue cells. When it is exposed to oxygen, it becomes oxymyoglobin and produces a bright red color. The protein hemoglobin found in small amounts in raw meat can also contribute to some of the red color of red meat.

    Beef as well as lamb, pork, and veal are red meat animal proteins. Also, any processed products made from such meats count toward your red meat intake. These products can include bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and deli meats like roast beef, salami, and ham.

    Red meat and heart health

    For many years, health experts have been telling us to limit red meat in the diet. Red meat intake can lead to an increase in risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. In fact, a 2017 report shows that the more processed red meat you consume, the greater risk you will be at developing colorectal cancer.

    A more recent study looked at the effect of red meat intake on the health of healthy adults. For one month, these adults consumed either a diet providing protein from white meat, red meat, or non-meat sources. Those on the red meat diet were provided the equivalent of about eight ounces of red meat each day. Study results show that after one month, the blood levels of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) in the blood of those on the red meat diet were about three times higher than those on the other diets.

    During digestion, TMAO forms in the gut after intake of red meat. Researchers suggest that TMAO may increase heart disease risk. When researchers placed the adults on different levels of saturated fat within the groups, those consuming higher levels of saturated fat had similar TMAO levels. Therefore, this research suggests that saturated fat intake is not linked with the heart disease risk associated with TMAO.

    When study subjects switched diets, those switched from a red meat diet to another diet were able to lower their TMAO levels after one month. This shows that it is never too late to make small changes to your diet to help improve your health and lower your heart disease risk.

    Other ways to improve your diet this new year

    Now that you know something that can increase your heart disease risk,  let’s talk about how you can lower your risk. Here are few dietary and lifestyle changes you can make today to help lower your heart health risk this new year.

    • Add more antioxidant fruits and vegetables to your diet. Not only will these foods add gut-friendly fiber to your diet, but the antioxidants can help reduce inflammation in your body. When you reduce inflammation, you lower chronic disease risk. So, load up at least half of your meal plates with these fiber-rich foods.
    • Lower alcohol intake and stop smoking. These new year resolutions can also help your heart health. This is because smoking can constrict blood vessels and increase blood pressure. Also, drinking too much alcohol can lead to weight gain, increased blood pressure, and higher levels of blood fats. So try not to drink more than one standard drink a day for women and no more than two a day for men. A standard drink is either 12 ounces beer, 5 ounces wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.
    • Add a heart health supplement each day. If you are deficient in vitamins and minerals, this can impact overall health. See your doctor on a regular basis to see if you are deficient in anything. If so, you may need to add in a supplement like iron, vitamin B12, or vitamin D to help you feel better. You could also add a heart specific supplement like Alestra by Vita Sciences. Alestra contain ingredients like plant sterols and niacin that help promote healthy cholesterol levels and improved heart health.
    • Move more. This is a no-brainer. If you move more each day, at least thirty minutes a day most days, you can lower your heart disease risk. This thirty minutes can be split into two minute portions throughout the day or all together. It doesn’t matter when it comes to your health. The key is to move so you can strengthen your heart, lower your weight, and improve your overall health.
    • Stress less. It may not seem like a key to weight loss or healthy lifestyle success, but you must manage stress. This is because stress can lead to less energy to exercise, more emotional eating, and higher blood pressure. All of these factors can lead to poor heart health and overall health. So find ways to stress less such as doing yoga, relaxation breathing, meditation, or talking to a counselor weekly.

    References:

    American Institute for Cancer Research (September 20, 2017) “Processed Meats Increase Colorectal Cancer Risk, New Report.” http://www.aicr.org/cancer-research-update/2017/09_20/cru_processed-meats-increase-colorectal-cancer-risk-new-report.html

    National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (June 6-7, 2013) “Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Changes.” https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-healthy-lifestyle-changes

    NIH Research Matters (January 8, 2019) “Eating red meat daily triples heart disease-related chemical.” https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/eating-red-meat-daily-triples-heart-disease-related-chemical

    NIH Research Matters (March 26, 2012) “Risk in Red Meat?” https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/risk-red-meat

    United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (August 6, 2013) “The Color of Meat and Poultry.”

     

     

     

     

     


  • Could sleep help you meet your New Year’s weight loss goals?

    sleep, weight loss, eating, nutrition, healthAs the new year begins, many of us may have weight loss goals on our mind. Diet and exercise are the key areas of focus for many in helping to meet these goals. And although healthy eating and moving more are important in weight management,  sleep is important too. When you’re sleeping, a lot happens in the body that can impact your weight and overall health. In fact, a recent study shows that even one night of sleep deprivation can lead to unhealthy eating. This can make weight loss difficult and could lead to weight gain in the long-term.

    Why do I need to sleep?

    Although some of us may think it is a badge of honor to make it through each day on little sleep, it’s nothing to brag about. That is because while you may feel ok, your body is suffering from your lack of sleep.  And in the long run, you are doing more harm than good when you sacrifice sleep for more work or play.

    The body uses sleep as a time when it can reboot and strengthen itself. Not to mention all of the vital bodily processes that occur during sleep. Short-term memory is converted to long-term memory while you sleep, and many important functions are regulated. While you are grabbing some shut-eye, your body is hard at work regulating blood pressure, body temperature, blood glucose levels, fluid, and hormones. Not to mention that, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, even one night of missed sleep can create a pre-diabetic state in an otherwise healthy person.

    How much do I need to sleep?

    The average adult should try to sleep between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. Growing children require even more sleep, with babies needing 11 to 14 hours, school age children needing 9 and 11, and teens needing between 8 and 10 hours of sleep each night.

    Sleep and weight loss 

    The United States Centers for Disease Control report that one in three Americans does not sleep enough each night. Experts suggest that not sleeping at least seven hours each night can increase risk of obesity and related conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

    A recent study looked at the impact of sleep on healthy, nonsmoking men. The men had blood samples and MRI scans completed after a normal night of sleep at home and after a night kept awake in a laboratory.  The next morning after each night, the study subjects were asked to choose snacks and non-food trinkets. Study results show that only after sleep deprivation were the men willing to spend money on food items even though their self-reported hunger levels were the same after both nights.

    Also, after the night of sleep deprivation, researchers saw increased activity in the brain between the amygdala and hypothalamus. These areas of the brain are involved in food intake. Therefore, these findings suggest that sleep loss increased the desire for food. More research needs to be done to confirm the cause and effect of such brain signals. However, experts suggest that these findings show that sleep can greatly impact behaviors that can impact health.  Therefore, sleep can increase chances of engaging in unhealthy eating patterns that can prevent you from reaching your weight loss goals.

    How can I improve my sleep?

    Since sleep is so crucial to healthy living in so many ways, you may ask how you can improve your sleep. Here are a few tips to help you sleep better at night so you can feel better and have a greater chance at meeting your weight loss goals.

    • Limit screen time. Looking at your phone, computer, or the television before bedtime can throw off your body’s circadian rhythm due to the light emitted from the screen. Therefore, try to turn off the screen about 30 minutes or more before you plan to go to bed.
    • Create a bedtime routine. Just like you set up a time to workout or eat your healthy meals and snacks, a routine can help you sleep better too. Therefore, decide what time you want to wake up. Subtract about 8 hours from that time. Then, at that time, start turning down the lights and screens, stop working, start relaxing, and prepare yourself for bed. This way, you will give your body plenty of time to settle down to sleep and catch your recommended seven hours each night.
    • Try a sleep supplement. If you have trouble falling asleep, a sleep supplement may help. An example of a sleep supplement is melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced naturally in the body, with increased production in the evening when its usually time to sleep. If your body does not produce enough melatonin, or if your circadian rhythm is off a bit due to stress, work schedules, etc., then you may have trouble sleeping. Somnova by Vita Sciences is an example of a supplement that can help you improve your sleep patterns. Somnova contains ingredients like melatonin and L-theanine that help promote peaceful sleep and relaxation.
    • Limit drinking and eating before bedtime. If you eat or drink too soon before bedtime, it can disturb sleep. This is because eating a meal less than two hours before bed can increase risk of indigestion or heartburn. Also, drinking fluids too soon before bed can wake you up out of bed to use the bathroom. Therefore, try to stop drinking and eating two hours before bedtime to prevent such sleep disturbances.
    • See your doctor if sleeping problems persist. If none of these strategies work, then you may have an medical issue that is disturbing your sleep. Sleep apnea and pain are common medical issues that can greatly impact sleep.  In fact, sleep apnea has been linked with obesity, with weight loss helping this medical issue.  Therefore, address your sleep issues with your doctor so you can receive the proper treatment. This is because receiving treatment for sleep issues can help you lose weight, which in turn can further improve weight-related health conditions like sleep apnea.

    So, sweet dreams and may the new year bring you much success in becoming the healthiest YOU that you can be.

    References:

    Cleveland Clinic (September 18, 2015) “What Happens to Your Body When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep.”

    Johns Hopkins Medicine (accessed January 1, 2019) “The Science of Sleep: Understanding What  Happens When You Sleep.”

    National Sleep Foundation (accessed January 1, 2019) “Why Do We Need Sleep?”

    Salamon, M. (December 17, 2018) “Sleepless Night Could Make Morning Pastries Tougher to Resist.” HealthDay.