Saturday, December 21, 2013

Enough is Enough - Supplement Concerns in the Media

Yesterday, the media was full of stories about an editorial (simply the opinion of a few doctors) about the usefulness of a multivitamin by the general, well-nourished public. However, the media has shortened and oversimplified the editorial so the public thinks they are being told that we should not take a multivitamin. 

What's the real deal? Yes, you should be taking a multivitamin, if you are in need of additional nutrients in your diet. Who needs more nutrients? People who have illnesses that put them at risk for low nutrient levels (such as digestive absorption problems, etc.), vegetarians/vegans, pregnant and breastfeeding women, elderly with limited diets, 'picky-eaters' children, stressed-out adults...the list goes on and on. 

Did you know that the foods we eat today have very little nutrient value compared to the foods we ate 50 years ago? And, I'm not just saying that - there are studies out of Canada and the UK showing that we need to eat over 50 peaches today to get the same amount of some nutrients we would have gotten in eating just one peach half a century ago.

It's worth reading more about all of this. I've re-read the studies the editorial discusses - these are very general, large studies talking about some very major diseases (cardiovascular disease and cancer) that have multiple risk factors and reasons for developing. If you had asked me before the studies were published, what I thought they would find, I would say, "No, in this type of study design I don't think a multivitamin is going to statistically have a significant result saying it prevents these disease."But, please note that smaller, more focused studies have found supplements help cardiovascular disease and prevent cancer. 

All in all, do your research. Decide for yourself what supplements you should or should not be taking. Talk to a nutritional expert (including RDs, NDs, RHNs and even some MDs). Don't let the reporters of your local 6 o'clock news channel dictate what is best for your health - they are NOT the experts. 

My Confession - in my family all take a multivitamin and I'm an expert in this stuff yet, that news report even made ME wonder if we should stop. It bothered me so much I went and dug up the articles and read them for myself. What did I decide? Our household will continue to take the supplements we have determined are beneficial for our health needs with confidence.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Holiday Stress: How not to gain weight over the holidays

One thing you can't forget this holiday season - stress won't just keep you up at night, it'll also add weight to your waistline.

It sucks! I totally agree. But, when you're feeling stressed about getting all the people on your list crossed off, baking three dozen cookies for the holiday party, and getting all the trim and decorations up your body is producing coritsol. Cortisol is a hormone that helps you get through a stressful situation. Originally, it was designed to help you out run a bear back in the days when we lived in caves, but today's stress isn't as easily found and lost again. Lifestyle stress, including holiday stress, just seems to linger and linger. Phew! My stomach is getting into a knot just thinking about it.

When your body is stressed it is in a state of hyper-awareness for survival and, it stores fat as a precaution in case their won't be food later. But, over the holidays is there ever NOT a plate of delicious, high calorie food around? So, you end up putting more and more weight on. Talk about the need for a diet plan after the holidays (Ah, ha! Maybe that's why we are all drawn to weight loss resolutions in the New Year?!).

Take a break! Get to a yoga class. Read a book. Go for a walk. Or, even just take a few deep breaths while you read this. Love yourself - try not to stress too much and enjoy the holidays!

My Confession - I'm not sure if it's stress, shortbread or an evolutionary drive to put weight on when it gets cold outside but, I'm always finding my waistline a little tighter after the holidays. Either way - those shortbread sure are delicious! Yum.