Posts Tagged ‘obesity’







I encourage you to look at the checklist below and make note if you have any of the follow conditions:


1.  High Triglycerides – 150 mg/dL or more.

2.  Low HDL Cholesterol – below 40 mg/dL for men and below 50 mg/dL for women.

3.  Abdominal Obesity – a waist circumference of 40” or more for men and
35” or more for women.

4.  High Blood Pressure – 130/85 or higher (or if you are taking high blood pressure

5.  Elevated Fasting Blood Sugar – 100 mg/dL or more.

If you checked off three or more of these conditions, you have what is called “metabolic syndrome.” Those with metabolic syndrome are at a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases including plaque buildup in the arteries, stroke, and heart attack.

The association of metabolic syndrome and increased risked of cardiovascular disease is confirmed with research from the Pritikin Center for Longevity reporting that one out of four adults, or 64 million Americans, have metabolic syndrome, and the Centers for Disease Control stating one out of four deaths in the United States is caused by coronary disease.

Most often, metabolic syndrome is a result of being overweight, physically inactive, eating a large proportion of calories from simple carbohydrates, and is a result of our lifestyle choices.

This is the good news – we can reduce our risk of cardiovascular diseases by making some better lifestyle choices. It may be difficult to make all the lifestyle changes as once, so tackle one at a time if that works better for you.

Lower triglycerides by limiting alcohol consumption, avoid white flour products, limit sugar to 4 teaspoons a day or less, limit fruits to 2-3 servings a day, and begin walking – even beginning at 10 minutes a day helps.

Raise HDL cholesterol by exercising, lose extra weight, and stop smoking.

Replace high caloric foods with fruits and vegetables to reduce waist circumference. Include strength training in your exercise regime.

Reduce blood pressure by eliminating salt. Remember salt comes not only from the salt shaker, but from processed foods also. Increase potassium in your diet which can be found in Swiss chard, Romaine lettuce, celery, crimini mushrooms, and celery.

Reduce blood sugar levels by replacing simple carbohydrates (white flour, white sugar) with complex carbohydrates (brown rice, whole grain pasta, oats, millet, beans). Fiber found in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans will prevent unwanted spikes in blood sugars. Eliminate processed foods and beverages that contain high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners.

By following these recommendations, you will feel better and the conditions associated with metabolic syndrome, as well as the risk of having cardiovascular diseases, will be greatly reduced.
erages that contain high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners.

By following these recommendations, you will feel better and the conditions associated with metabolic syndrome, as well as the risk of having cardiovascular diseases, will be greatly reduced.


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Overweight 1According to Business Week Magazine, dieting in America is a $40 billion a year industry. For a majority of Americans, these diets don’t work and are a waste of money. People are looking for a quick fix, and when it comes to permanent weight loss, a quick fix won’t fix the problem of overweight.

In fact, the quick fix diet can do more harm than good. When too few calories are eaten, muscle mass is reduced and much of the weight loss is water. Once off the diet, the body can go into a starvation response, leading to a weight gain of only fat. The American Psychological Association reviewed 31 diet studies and after two years, found up to a third of the dieters weighed more than when they began the diet.1 Repeated failure at weight loss gives us a sense of failure and little hope of successful weight loss.

Successful Weight Loss

Weight loss is more complex than calories in – calories out. Here are some strategies that work:

1. Remove the Chemicals – Environmental toxins including pesticides, toxic metals, and solvents disrupt hormones that regulate our sex hormones, insulin, thyroid, stress, and appetite. Chemicals also create stress on the body, shifting metabolism to store fat rather than burn fat. Toxins are stored in fat cells. An assessment of toxins in the body can be done through urine testing, hair analysis, or whole blood samples. Eat organic foods whenever possible. Because toxins are stored in fat cells, losing weight will reduce toxins stored in our body. Alkalinizing foods including fruits vegetables, miso, cooked grains, and healthy oils will help the body detoxify. Avoid fried foods and process foods, and eat less acid-forming foods like meat and dairy.

2. Rebuild and Rebalance – Metabolism can be damaged by rapid weight loss, stress, too many refined carbohydrates, stimulants, or not enough sleep – slowing down metabolism. Hormones become imbalanced and causes stress to our body. Eating the proper ratio of protein, carbohydrates, and fats will “reset” damaged metabolism. Also including plenty of water to eliminate toxins and booster foods to increase energy and antioxidants and aid with detoxification should be included in the diet. Without proper nutrition, dieters will “plateau” and not be able to lose additional weight.

3. Exercise – It is difficult to lose weight without including exercise. Exercise increases metabolism, burns fat and builds muscle where most of our energy is burned. Interval training – switching from high intensity to low intensity then back to high intensity – burns fat. Resistance training increases lean body mass and increases insulin sensitivity. Find an activity you enjoy whether it be brisk walking, biking, tennis, basketball, jogging, or going to the gym, and do it for 45 minutes to one hour three to five times a week. If you have not exercised for a while, get approval first from your doctor. Start slow and build your way up.

4. Manage Stress – When under stress, the hormone cortisol is released. This can lead to muscle loss and insulin resistance. Weight become difficult to lose and often times weight gains occurs around the mid-section of our body. Absorption of nutrients is compromised, as is the making of enzymes. Remove yourself from stressful situations when possible. Get adequate sleep. Exercise releases stress. Eat foods that include B vitamins (crimini mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, strawberries), vitamin C (cantaloupe, parsley, lemon juice, kale, Brussels sprouts, papaya), magnesium (Swiss chard, pumpkin seeds, spinach, summer squash), and potassium (Romaine lettuce, celery, Swiss chard, tomatoes, broccoli).


Nutrients Supporting Weight Loss:

❒ Fiber – Fiber is found in all plant foods which are low in calories and fat. Fiber will make you feel full without consuming large quantities of calorically rich foods. Women should get 21-25 grams of fiber a day, men 30-38 grams of fiber a day.

❒ Green Tea – Green tea boosts metabolism and fat burning. Drink 12 oz. or more of green tea per day.

❒ Almonds – Almonds contain healthy monounsaturated fats which are needed for balanced hormones and nerves. Almonds are high in calories, so don’t eat more than one once at a time.

❒ Chromium – A mineral that helps regulate insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the metabolism and storage of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Sources of chromium are broccoli, whole wheat English muffin, Romaine lettuce, and onions. There is not an Upper Tolerable Level of chromium, as it has few side effects. Those with liver or kidney disease do need to limit their intake of chromium.

❒ Calcium – Calcium helps break down fat rather than store fat. Yogurt, tofu, soybeans, kale, and turnip greens are good sources of calcium. The Recommended Daily Allowance of calcium for men and women over age 25 is 800 mg/day.

❒ CoQ10 – Required in all cells to – converts fat, carbohydrates, and protein into energy. Sources of coQ10 are pistachio nuts, and whole grains. Recommended dosage is 30-100 mg/day.

❒ Tryptophan – An amino acids that makes HTP- 5, which converts to serotonin in the brain. If serotonin levels are low, people will have an increased appetite and sugar cravings. Tryptophan increases serotonin levels. It can be found in crimini mushrooms, spinach, tofu, and soybeans. Suggested dosage is 3.5 mg per kilogram of body weight.

❒ Siberian Ginseng – Is a root adaptogen that helps the body adapt to stress. Recommended dosage of Siberian ginseng dried powdered extract is 250-500 mg one to three times per day. Do not take if on blood thinning, anti-inflammatory, or antidepressant medications.

❒ Zinc – A mineral that helps regulate the rate our body uses up energy. Zinc can be flown in spinach, crimini mushrooms, summer squash, collard greens, and pumpkin seeds. The Recommended Daily Allowance for zinc is 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men.

❒ Lipoic Acid – helps convert carbohydrates and fats into energy. Spinach, oollard greens, and broccoli are sources of lipoic acid. It is difficult to get a toxic level of lipoic acid from foods. 

1. Foxcroft, L. (2011).  Calories and Corsets: A History of Dieting Over Two Thousand Years.  London, England:  Profile Books LTD.


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2014 Numbers With Fireworks Representing Year Two Thousand And FThis year drew quickly to an end.  I don’t know about you, but for the last two weeks of 2013, my inbox was inundated with appeals to make last minute tax-deductible donations to charitable organizations that will help among other things preserve the arts, stop cruelty towards animals, improve the environment, save the bees, advance living conditions in third world countries, and support cancer research. Giving to a nonprofit organization at year end is the final opportunity for us to give to meaningful causes and at the same time do what we can to reduce our tax bill.  I have taken the time review my checklist once again – can I add to a deductible IRA account?  Do I have records confirming my business costs so they can be deducted? What else can I do to reduce the amount of taxes I owe? As with all of us, I want to maximize deductions to minimize my tax burden. (Yes, this is a blog on health and wellness – read on!)

As we review how we can minimize our tax obligations, let’s not forget to take to the time to review how we can maximize our health. Although doing both can be a painful process, both need to be done.

While we presently plan for financial wellness in the future, presently planning for our physical wellness in the future is even more critical.  After all, a comfortable retirement is not very comfortable when it is plagued with health problems.  Do you know our health habits of today have an overwhelming impact on the state of our future well being? Chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, overweight, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol don’t happen overnight – they have a tendency to creep up on us.  These conditions are most often are a result of a lifetime of our habits.

So ask yourself these questions.  What did I do in 2013 to maximize good health?  What more can I do in 2014?  What are my strengths?  What do I need to do for improvement, and how do I get there? Just as with our taxes, we need to create our road map for 2014 now. Take an inventory of what you are (or are not) doing on a daily basis. Below are some thoughts to get started in 2014 for better health today and in the future.

How many times a week do you eat fast food? Do these meals include fried foods and soft drinks? There are many restaurants that offer tasty, healthier meals at a reasonable price. Take a pass on the fried foods and soft drinks. Instead try a burrito without the calorie-laden toppings like sour cream and cheese. Adding salsa will give the burrito great flavor and you will be making a healthier choice without making a big sacrifice.

Loading up on the greens, beans, and veggies at a salad bar is very satisfying. These foods have lots of fiber and will fill you up without filling you out.

Are you drinking enough water?  Sometimes being hungry is confused with being thirsty.  Be sure to drink plenty of water.

Are you getting enough exercise?  Finding the time can be difficult.  So grab a co-worker and go for a brisk walk during your lunch hour or break.  Studies have found taking two 10 minute walks a day provide the same health benefits as one 20 minute walk.

When was the last time you ate broccoli, sweet potatoes, pineapple or had an avocado?  Be adventurous! Make it a point to bring these vegetables and fruits back into your diet. Build the courage to venture into “unknown territory,” and try new vegetables and fruits in 2014.

Don’t cheat yourself out of investing in your health.  You will be doing your arteries, waistline, and your family a favor.  It is the best investment you can make for yourself now and for your future!

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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pink is everywhere from the NFL field to Walk for a Cure events. The idea is to raise awareness of breast cancer, remind women to get their mammograms, and to raise money to find a cure.  Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States (lung cancer is #1).

Cancer kills more people worldwide than Aids, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.  According to the American Cancer Society, men in the United States have a one in two probability of developing cancer in their lifetime and women have a one in three probability of developing cancer. More than 1.6 million Americans will receive a cancer diagnosis in 2013. According to the Rockford Health Council’s 2010 Healthy Community Study, Winnebago and Boone counties, like the national statistics, reports cancer is the #2 cause of death in the region and is responsible for 24% of all deaths (2007). Nearly all of us have lost a friend or family member from this pervasive disease.

There is hope.  More and more lives are being saved.  Survivorship is increasing in part to more advanced treatments and new imaging technology. Millions of dollars continue to be spent on research to find a cure.

We, as individuals need to do more.  Our health system is designed to be reactive – we get sick, we go to the doctor.  What if we took a proactive approach to this disease and do our part to reduce the risks of getting many forms of cancer?  According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, 38% of all breast cancers are preventable. Three out of every five new cases of endometrial cancer could be prevented, 45% of colon cancers are preventable, and 47% of stomach cancers.  How? By improving our lifestyle. The American Institute for Cancer Research reports one third of all cancers are preventible if we do three things (I would add don’t smoke) –

1.  Maintain a Healthy Weight – Our fat cells are not dormant. They produce estrogen which promotes cancer cell growth.

2.  Eat a Healthy Diet – Focus on eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans and legumes.  Limit the consumption of red meat, avoid processed meats (bacon, hot dogs, sandwich meat, sausage), and sugar.  Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, kale, cabbage), apples, berries, green tea, whole grains, beans and legumes, dark leafy vegetables, ground flaxseed, and walnuts are foods that fight cancer. Focus on whole foods and stay away from processed foods which are full of sugar, fat, salt, and additives. They do more to promote disease than prevent disease.

3.  Keep Moving – Get 30 minutes of exercise a day. Not only is exercise good for overall health, daily activity keeps our hormones in check and helps keep a healthy immune system and weight.

Your health is not completely dependent on your doctor.   Let’s not wait to get the diagnosis.  Be proactive. We need to fight cancer on all fronts – through research, treatment, and prevention.

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imagesThe State of Illinois recently released the Chronic Disease Burden Update from the Division of Chronic Disease and Control.  The update reports that compared the to rest of the nation, prevalence of chronic diseases and risk factors for acquiring chronic diseases in Illinois are not much different from the rest of the nation.  Even so, the picture is not pretty.

Illinois residents tied with the rest of the nation at 77% of the population when it comes to eating an unhealthy diet.  (An unhealthy diet for this report is defined eating less than five servings of fruits and vegetables a day).  Over 37% of Illinoisians’ have high cholesterol, 28% of us are obese, 27% have high blood pressure, 25% are physically inactive, and 17% smoke.

These and other chronic diseases have a cascading effect. For example, smoking, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diets increase the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.  These in turn, increase the risk of certain cancers and diabetes. Of those diagnosed with coronary artery disease:

  • 49% are physically inactive
  • 84% eat an unhealthy diet
  • 74% are overweight
  • 73% have high blood pressure
  • 74% have high cholesterol

Over 56% of diabetics are physically inactive, eat an unhealthy diet (80%),are overweight/obese (86%), have high blood pressure (67%) and have high cholesterol (63%).  See a pattern here?  Chronic diseases kill us, accounting for seven out of ten deaths.

Ouch! Sometimes the truth hurts. These are really not individual diseases – they are, for the most part, indicative of an unhealthy lifestyle. The good news is we can do something about it. You deserve to put your health first and foremost. This means making a conscious effort of eating more fruits and vegetables and less processed foods. An impossible task you say? Make it fun. Visit the local farmers’ markets. It is a great activity to take the kids to and can be a lesson on where our food comes from. Together decide what you want to try. Talk with the vendors.  They are most willing to answer your questions about what they have grown and can offer ideas of ways to prepare the food. Still too much to take on at once? Work on just one goal at a time and start small, ie, I will eat two vegetables a day, I will replace the afternoon bag of chips with a piece of fruit, I will go for a 10 minute walk  –  you set the goal.

Improving our health habits means enjoying a better quality of life and relief on our healthcare checkbook.  You have nothing to lose (but weight) by tackling one unhealthy habit at a time.  You can do it! Don’t give up.  Get the family involved. Soon you will see some real progress.

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Recently the United Health Foundation shared the findings of their 2012 National Health Rankings study. Some of the criteria used in determining the rankings included tobacco and alcohol abuse, crime rates, exercise, infectious diseases, public health funding, high school graduation rates, uninsured population, availability of primary care physicians, cancer and heart disease rates, premature birth rates, and immunizations.

How did Illinois fare?  Illinois ranked 30th out of the 50 states. The report was broken down into various categories and here are some grim Illinois statistics: Up to 29% of the people in Illinois have sedentary lifestyles, 22% of the population smokes, and up to 41% of the population is obese.

And locally? According to the County Rankings Report and Roadmap 2013, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Winnebago County ranks 82 out of 101 counties in Illinois.  Nearly one quarter of our adult population smokes, 29% are obese, and 27% have a sedentary lifestyle.

What do these statistics have in common? They have nothing to do with the quality of healthcare. In fact, no country spends more on healthcare than the United States.

Australia spends just half of what the US spends on healthcare, yet they have a longer life expectancy than the United States. Treating cardiovascular disease alone in the US accounts for 18% of total healthcare costs and 30% of Medicare costs.

What these statistics have in common is our lifestyle, which is driving up disease and health care costs. It shows much of what affects our health takes place outside of the doctor’s office.

Why is this important to know? A healthier community is a more vibrant community.  People are more engaged and productive when they are healthy. Healthcare costs are an employer’s second largest expenditure.  A healthier workforce means more dollars are available to invest to keep a business competitive and to hire people. Individuals who spend less on medical bills have more discretionary income to spend on goods and services in our community. Who knows? Maybe the government would pay our schools, municipalities, and social agencies what they are due in a more timely manner if they didn’t have to spend 17 cents of every dollar on our healthcare costs.

Having a healthy community benefits everyone. Each one of us needs to do our part. Good health begins at home. Keeping fruit within easy reach on the kitchen counter makes a quick and heathy snack. Take a pledge not to buy snacks in crinkly bags. Grocery shop from a shopping list. Read nutrition labels and chose only products that are low in sodium and saturated fat. Do activities as a family. Ride bikes, walk in the neighborhood or on one of our beautiful bike paths. Find tasty and healthy recipes in a cookbook or online to add to what is made for dinners throughout the week. Slowly replace these dinner recipes with those dinners that are not as healthy.

We can make a difference.  Let’s do a Spring clean-up, and chose to engage in “best practices” for our health.

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Remember when we sat down at the table as a family for dinner? When we bought local food?  When we knew the shop keepers?  When food was prepared by a person and didn’t come out of a box? 

Maybe not all of us remember these times from not so long ago.  Somehow we have gotten away from our relationship with our food.  We have almost become alienated with our food and food sources. Often times we don’t know where our food came from or who (or what) made it. 

This is a radical change from just a generation ago. Food today often is many times removed from its source. Ingredient lists on packaged processed food have become a challenge to read and have unrecognizable ingredients listed.  Not only do we not recognize the ingredients, often times neither does our body.  Food now is fast to prepare and fast to consume. Here are some startling statistics from Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser.

  • The typical American now consumes three hamburgers and four orders of French fries every week.
  • 30% of adults eat out lunch on the weekdays.
  • The average business lunch is only 36 minutes long.
  • Nearly 10% of all food purchased in restaurants is consumed in the car.

At the same time, over 60% of Americans are overweight or obese, it is estimated one out of three babies born will develop type II diabetes in their  lifetime, 10% of the Medicare budget is spent on stent procedures, and 75% of healthcare spending is for chronic diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seven out of 10 deaths are attributed to preventable chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.  Our lifestyle, including what we eat and how much we exercise, play a substantial role in our wellbeing. 

Here’s the challenge – Whether you cook Thanksgiving dinner yourself or family and guests bring a dishes to pass, ask it be made from scratch.  Nothing from a box.  Bake sweet potatoes, make mashed potatoes, cook fresh vegetables, create a salad. Not only will it taste better, it will no doubt have less sodium, fat, and calories and will be free from artificial flavor enhancers and food dyes. By refraining from eating fast food and food from a box on a regular basis, we can experience an overall improvement in our health.


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