Friday, February 26, 2016

Fat Comes in Colors?

We all know that muscles need a source of energy when they exercise. They get that energy from burning fat and sugar. Scientists have recently discovered that when a muscle exercises, it releases a hormone called irirsin that travels through the blood to fat cells. Irirsin is one of many benefits of exercise.

There are three types of fat cells: white, brown and beige. White fat cells store fat. Brown & beige fat cells burn fat. If your goal is to lose weight, you want to increase the number of your brown fat cells and decrease the number of your white fat cells. That's exactly what irisin does: It turns white fat cells into brown fat cells. And those newly created brown fat cells keep burning calories even after exercise is over.  Irisin also helps prevent insulin resistance, a condition that leads to Type Two diabetes. This reduces risk of stroke and heart disease.

Eating too few calories prevents white fat from turning brown, while eating just enough to satisfy hunger—prompting the action of the hunger-control neurons—turned white fat to brown. Other research shows that over-consumption increases white fat and also interferes with brown fat's ability to burn calories. Control your portions and eat consciously.

Eat an apple! Ursolic acid, found in apple peels, boosted brown fat in mice—even when they were fed a high-fat diet.

You may have heard that chilling your body activates brown fat burn. A Japanese research team found that half of subjects under age 38 showed signs of brown fat activation in a 66°F setting. Unfortunately, results were less impressive for people older than 38. This does not look like a helpful tool for the general population.

Exercise improves health in an untold number of ways, many of which I have discussed in my blog over that last couple of years. Now we know that exercise releases the hormone irirsin, which helps our bodies burn fat and maintain a healthy weight.

Enjoy Exercise This Week and Savor Your Food

Friday, February 19, 2016

Snack Attack Strategies

Even if you eat healthy meals, you can't always pack in all the vitamins, minerals, fats, protein and produce that your body needs everyday. Your snacks need to work hard to fill in any nutritional holes. To help you break out of your hummus-and-carrots rut, here are a few fun nibbles to get into your weekly rotation.

Savory Yogurt
Mix a pinch of sea salt into six ounces of plain yogurt and top with thinly sliced radishes and cucumbers. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh dill.

Tahini & Cranberry Celery Sticks
We've all had "ants on a log". Update it by filling celery sticks with tahini and topping with dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots.

Italian Guacamole
Give the avocado a Mediterranean twist by adding chopped sun-dried tomatoes and basil. Use sliced cucumbers for dipping.

Cheesy Dates
With their intense sweetness & satisfying chewiness, just a few dates can satisfy a sugar craving. Stuff with a salty cheese like goat or feta to amp up the flavor.

Whenever you snack on fruits & vegetables, add some protein and a little healthy fat to keep you satisfied and help you eat less later on.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and Enjoy Your Food!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Not All Sugar Is Sweet

A friend of mine recently shared some YouTube videos with me regarding sugar consumption. I was interested to learn more about how the body processes fructose in particular. The first video is a very informative hour-long lecture. The second is very short but shocking.

Much of the food we eat is converted by our digestive system to glucose. Glucose is the substance our bodies use for energy. The system is disrupted when we consume fructose, specifically high-fructose corn syrup. HFC is found in many processed foods and can be a "hidden sugar", meaning it can be found in things that do not taste sweet such as ketchup and salad dressing. Fructose is metabolized exclusively in the liver in a very similar process as to how alcohol is processed. As a result, damaging by-products are made in the liver and the accumulation of these by-products can cause cirrhosis. 

One of the by-products in the liver is uric acid. An overabundance of uric acid leads to hypertension. I always knew drinking soda caused high blood pressure but I did not know about the specific bio-chemical process that made that happen. Of course, too much uric acid is also the cause of gout.

Fructose consumption can sabotage your hard work to lose weight. HFC changes the way our brain signals hunger. It does not stimulate the hormone ghrelin, which tells our bodies we have eaten enough. Our brains and bodies do not get the satiety signal so we want to eat more. Eating more fructose continues the process. Chronic fructose exposure can lead to all the symptoms of metabolic syndrome - hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Not only that, but fructose is stored as fat instead of glycogen! So you are eating more because your satiety signals are not stimulated and the calories you consume immediately turn to fat. Yikes - not where we want to go.

Just a note, fruit naturally contains fructose. In this form, it is unlikely you will consume too much fructose because is not concentrated, as in HFC, and it is combined with fiber, vitamins and minerals.

The second video shows a healthy blood sample before the client eats sugary foods and a second blood sample after sugar consumption. It looks like the sugar causes the cells to clump together, preventing oxygen and energy flow to the muscles. Wow! Might not want to drink that artificial fruit-juice drink before exercise class.

Read labels, choose wisely and be aware of what you are drinking and eating. 
It can literally save your life.

Stay Active and Enjoy HFC-Free Food