Monthly Archives: April 2016
Five Ways One Has To Pay the Price for Obesity

Obesity causes poorer health, which in turn translates into higher medical and health care costs. For example, the obese are more likely to suffer from ailments such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. On top of that, there are also other ways in which obese people have to, quite literally, pay the price for their size. A recent Newsweek article published in August 2008 has outlined five main ways in which obesity results in tangible financial costs.

Financial Costs of Obesity

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people being overweight, as well as the related health problems of obesity, put a significant economic strain on the US health care system.

Broadly speaking, being overweight or obese involves direct and indirect costs. The former includes preventive, diagnostic and treatment services, while the latter includes morbidity costs and mortality costs. Mortality costs measure the value of future income which is lost because of premature death, while morbidity costs take into account the value of income lost because of factors such as bed days, restricted activity, absenteeism, as well as decreased productivity.

Using data from the 1998 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) and the National Health Interview Surveys (NHIS) of 1996 and 1997, a study had found that medical costs relating to being overweight or obese formed 9.1% of the total medical expenditure in the US in 1998, a figure which could have been as much as US$78.5b. This translates to about US$92.6b in 2002 dollars. Medicaid and Medicare paid for about half of the amount.

Here are five ways in which obese people have to bear the financial consequences for their condition.

1. Higher Medical Costs

The most direct and obvious financial cost of being obese is, of course, higher medical costs. “The Fattening of America” by Eric Finkelstein and Laurie Zuckerman estimates that an overweight male’s annual medical cost is $170 more than one who is lighter, while the corresponding figure for females is $495.

In addition, hospitals incur higher costs in treating obese patients. For example, an oversized wheelchair can cost about $2,500, which is a whopping eight times the cost of a normal one. Also, an operating table which is sturdy enough to take the weight of a severely obese person can cost $30,000.

2. Lower Average Income

According to a study conducted at Stanford University, obese men and women earned an average income which was $3.41 per hour lower than their peers. This adds up to over $7,000 a year.

The income gap was found to be smaller when comparing young workers, although it gets bigger over time.

It is a possibility that this difference may be partly linked to higher health care costs – researchers said that employers have a tendency pay less to obese workers while footing their insurance bills. It could thus be a subconscious reaction by employers for having to pay higher insurance premiums for heavier employees.

3. Loss of Work Hours

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, an obese worker tends to lose, on average, about a week of work every year, because of health conditions which are related to them being overweight.

The Fattening of America estimates that a company with 1,000 workers loses about $285,000 every year due to obese workers, and that about 30 percent of this figure can be attributed to higher levels of absenteeism.

4. Use of More Gasoline

The heavier one is, the more gasoline one’s car or transport vehicle would have to use. In 2006, the journal The Engineering Economist published a study which stated that Americans used 938 million more gallons of fuel annually when compared to 1960, by virtue of their now bigger frames. Translated to concrete costs, this works out to about an additional gas expenditure of $3.55b per year.

5. Higher Cost of Air Travel

Then there are higher air travel costs. Budget airlines such as Southwest require passengers who are obese or who may need more than one seat to purchase a sufficient number of seats on the flight.

Further, just like for cars and ground vehicles, planes also have to burn more fuel to ferry heavier passengers. In the 1990s, the average weight of an American increased by 10 pounds. This, according to a 2004 CDC report, translated to $275m spent on an additional 350 million gallons of fuel needed to carry all that extra weight.

The Road Ahead – We Need to Cut Down on Obesity

Obesity in countries which consume a lot of fast food and processed foods is fast becoming an epidemic. Recently, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reported that, unless the eating and exercise habits of Americans change, a staggering 86% of Americans will be overweight or obese come 2030. According to the CDC, over one third of adults in the US, or more than 72 million people, were obese in 2005 and 2006.

The numbers do not look good at all and it is clear things need to change.

Is obesity preventable, as well as “curable”, so to speak? There are, after all, some parties who believe that being overweight has its roots in bad genes, and thus nothing can be done about it.

Of course genes play a part. Obesity, like all health conditions, has a genetic element. Some people, for example, are more susceptible to cancer than others, while some are more prone to diabetes.

But to suggest that nothing can be done about being overweight or obese is not in line with the overall principles of natural health. In natural health, all diseases and conditions are grounded in nutritional / dietary and lifestyle factors, which include elements such as the presence of environmental toxins.

For example, if an obese person leaves pizzas, sodas, candy bars, potato chips, burgers and fries behind, and begins to undertake a diet full of raw fruits and vegetables, it is virtually guaranteed that he or she will lose weight. Throw in some daily exercise, and the effects are magnified.

Of course, if one has a bodily constitution which is of the heavier or bigger side, then one would have to work harder and exercise more commitment in keeping fit and trim. This applies to every aspect of life. Some people have to train harder to run as fast, some have to work harder for the same output in the office, while some people need more sleep.

If you are already overweight, doing your bit to cut down on your weight will go a long way in benefiting not just your health, but also your wallet.

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Sweet potato nutrition – six amazing facts you need to know

One of the most nutritious foods on the traditional Thanksgiving menu is the sweet potato. These orange-skinned root vegetables offer a host of health benefits (especially when cooked without the unnecessary sugar and marshmallows). If you want to raise health consciousness around the dinner table this holiday season, try throwing some of these six sweet potato facts into the conversation:

1. High nutritional value

A 7-ounce (1 cup) serving of sweet potatoes contains 65% of the minimum necessary daily amount of Vitamin C. Sweet potatoes are also high in calcium, folate, potassium and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant which converts to Vitamin A in the body: one serving of sweet potatoes can provide you with as much as 700% of the US RDA for Vitamin A. The Center for Science in the Public Interest rates sweet potatoes as the number one most nutritious vegetable because they such are so nutritionally rich.

2. Low glycemic index

If you are unfamiliar with this term, the glycemic index indicates the impact a food substance has on blood sugar levels. A high glycemic index means blood sugar levels can spike. Diabetes and others who monitor their blood sugar levels seek to avoid foods with a high glycemic index or load. Sweet potatoes have a glycemic load of only 17. (By way of comparison, a white potato has an index of 29.)

3. Accessing sweet potatoes’ nutritional benefits is easy

To gain the maximum health benefits from eating sweet potatoes, avoid discarding their skins — much of their healing potential resides in this portion of the tubers. Also, following the common dieters’ fallacy of avoiding all fats reduces your ability to access sweet potatoes’ benefits: beta-carotene absorbs more thoroughly into the body when consumed with a small amount of fat. Recent research seems to indicate that steaming or boiling sweet potatoes rather than roasting them helps preserve their low glycemic index.

4. Good for your skin

Their high levels of Vitamin A and beta-carotene means sweet potatoes are a skin superfood. The substances on many pricey skin-care products like retinol and retinoic acid are actually derived from Vitamin A. Plus beta-carotene combats the free radicals which result skin aging.

5. Sweet potatoes are like yoga

Their high potassium content means sweet potatoes can alleviate muscle cramps which are often related to potassium deficiency. During times of stress, the body uses more potassium, so eating sweet potatoes can help protect you from the negative health effects of tension.

6. Easy to grow in your garden

Starting a vegetable garden is a great way both to reduce your grocery bill now, and to reduce your dependency on grocery stores for the long-term. Sweet potatoes make a good beginner’s garden crop. Although originally native to South America, this type of tuber only requires 100 frost-free days in order to grow, so you do not have to live in the tropics to harvest some of these nutritionally valuable tubers. Sweet potato plants have fewer diseases than other types of potatoes, and they are relatively undemanding plants, requiring little in the way of water or fertilizer.

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The true history of camu camu, nature’s most potent source of natural Vitamin C

A nutritiously dense superfruit from the Amazon rainforest, camu camu (Myrciaria dubia) is the most potent botanical source of Vitamin C in the world. With 30 to 50 times more vitamin C than an orange, ounce for ounce, this purple cherry-sized fruit has a sour taste, which is why the people of Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, and Colombia where it grows, usually make it in to jams, jellies, drinks, and sweet treats such as ice cream or candy.

Local common names for camu camu include, “rumberry,” “guavaberry,” “cacari,” or “camu camu” in Brazil or Peru, “guayabo” in Colombia, and “guayabato” in Venezuela, though some of these may actually be different species. Grown from a tropical lowland tree that likes water, it is found in the western and central regions of the Amazon Basin, next to rivers and oxbow lakes, or in swamps and flood plains. It has small, white, sweet-smelling flowers and bushy foliage.

In addition to the high amount of vitamin C, camu camu has amino acids, beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, B vitamins, and phosphorous as well as flavonoids and hydrolyzed tannins. It also has fiber and protein, giving it a wide variety of health benefits.

History of camu camu

The berries of the camu camu tree have been used by Amazonian Indians for hundreds of years. A highly nutritious food source rich in phytochemicals, it is also easily transportable. Traditional uses, besides food, include use as a pain reliever, treatment for infection, and to promote long life. Poultices were also made from the bark of the tree to treat rheumatism or as a topical treatment for wounds.

Rainforest peoples make camu camu into a hair tonic also, using it to repair split ends and restore shine, strength, vitality, and silky texture.
In the 1950s, the Ministry of Public Health of Peru conducted the first nutritional analysis of the native fruit, discovering its amazing vitamin C content. Almost overnight, camu camu became an indispensable fruit internationally.

Still, due to the difficult nature of harvesting from canoes during the wet season, it was the 1990s before it was widely exported as a viable commercial agro-forestry crop. In the last few decades, many camu camu trees have been planted as part of a reforestation program by the Peruvian government, with the idea that increasing the export market, conserving forest, and providing income for local peoples would be a win-win situation.

They also hope to keep it off the endangered species list, which is being caused by over-harvesting of wild camu camu. There are still some issues with this plan coming to fruition, such as the local people getting loans to get set up and effects on the different environmental areas. For example, camu camu is an important food source for the wildlife too, including the fish, and there is concern over pests and plant disease.

Modern uses of camu camu

In Japan, camu camu has become very popular. It is used as a component for multivitamins, energy drinks, sports drinks, and candies. Most countries outside the Amazon Basin use a dried powder made from the dehydrated juice of the fruit. The powder must not be heated or stored for more than a year to maintain its vitamin C potency.
South Americans have used camu camu successfully in treating Herpes Simplex, Shingles, and Eppstein-Barr viruses. The high vitamin C content helps to counteract the stress that causes flare-ups, and helps to reduce them quickly. It has no known side-effects or contraindications and can be used safely in combination with antidepressants and other prescriptions.
The phytonutrients of camu camu promote health and fight disease by building the immune system. Biological actions include the following properties: anti-inflammatory, astringent, antidepressant, and anti-viral. Some studies suggest it may relieve infertility in men, promote fertility in women, and relieve chronic diseases such as Crohn’s and Parkinson’s. Camu camu’s high amount of phytochemicals also indicates it can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and neutralize free radicals.

Most of the documented benefits of camu camu center around its high vitamin C content. Camu camu itself has not been widely studied, but those that are studying it are finding that its beneficial health properties extend far beyond just those of its vitamin C content.As with most nutrient-dense plants, there is much scientists don’t yet understand about not only the chemical constituents, but also their synergistic relationship, and how they work to fight disease and promote human health. Studies are ongoing.

Only recently available in the United States, you can find camu camu as an affordable supplement in some health food stores or online. It is often found in powder form to add to smoothies or a bottle of water.

Camu camu is a superfood. Superfoods, by definition, improve health and help you resist disease. The disease prevention benefits and high density nutrition of camu camu makes it a supplement worth adding to your diet.

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How to hide nutrition in your kids’ meals

Kids can be picky eaters. If your little ones balk at anything green, then you’re likely concerned that they’re not getting the nutrition they need. Camouflaging food takes a little kitchen finesse, but you’re covered with these proven tricks of the trade.

Reshape their Food

Do your children’s noses turn upward at the sight of fresh fruits and vegetables? Make them look twice with fun-shaped alternatives. Use a cookie cutter or knife to rework watermelon, apples, carrots and other nutrient-rich foods into shapes your children will love. Create entire figurines by using different shapes of fruits and veggies to assemble fun characters. Foods cut into fun shapes help them appear more inviting to youngsters, increasing the chance that those foods will end up in their mouths.

Be a Blender

Blend the nutrient-rich foods your kids usually snub into smoothies, popsicles and other fun treats. Apples, bananas and other fruits can easily be pureed into pulp and juices that can then be frozen into delicious popsicles. Blend a mixture of fruits, vegetables and protein powder into smoothies the youngsters will savor until the final drop. From veggie-rich sauces to nutrient-packed drinks, blending the foods your kids despise into meals they love is a cinch.

Substitute Ingredients

Do your children love macaroni and cheese? Give them what they love without the processed ingredients by making the meal from scratch at home. Whole wheat pasta, real cheese and whole milk blend to create delicious homemade mac and cheese that your kids are sure to prefer to the boxed stuff.

Begin replacing white bread with whole wheat versions and always opt for whole wheat pasta when making spaghetti. Small substitutions such as these accumulate to bring major nutritional improvements in no time at all.

Remake Sweets

When a child sees a cookie, they most often associate that cookie with being sweet and delicious. Little do they know that cookies can be both delicious and nutritious. Start replacing a portion of the fat content in cookies, cakes and other sweets with applesauce.

Fruit juices, natural sugars and other sweeteners are effective replacements for refined sugar. Zucchini and other nutrient-rich foods can even be shredded and added to your kids’ favorite baked goods without them being any the wiser.

Make it a Breakfast Affair

Breakfast is often when kids are the hungriest and groggiest. Capitalize on this time of day by hiding fruits and veggies in their favorite breakfast items. Whip up a batch of blueberry pancakes lathered with pure maple syrup (not the processed kind) or bake some whole wheat muffins.

As your kids chow down on their wholesome breakfasts, you’ll be smiling with ease knowing the day is starting out right. Those nutritious breakfasts will also feed the kids’ brains and will offer the energy needed to power through their days.

Getting your kids to eat nutrient-rich foods often requires a little kitchen know-how. From fun-shaped veggies to nutritious and delicious shakes, put your mind at ease by finding creative ways to fill little ones with the goodness they need.

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Add tomatoes to your diet for numerous health benefits

If you are a tomato lover, whether you chop them up for a salad, eat them whole as a juicy snack or cook them for a sauce recipe, you can be assured you are boosting your overall health in addition to enjoying their yummy goodness. Studies show that tomatoes fight the formation of free radicals (known to cause cancer, decrease your chances of getting prostate and colorectal cancer, and even reduce your blood pressure.

Let’s take a look at the many ways tomatoes can make you healthier.

Tomatoes are packed with antioxidants – and this is great news for health seekers!

Antioxidants are substances that inhibit oxidation, and this may prevent or delay some types of cell damage. What’s more, tomatoes are packed with them!

In a study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, it was found that “Regular consumption of tomatoes has been associated with decreased risk of chronic degenerative diseases. Epidemiological findings confirm the observed health effects are due to the presence of different antioxidant molecules such as carotenoids, particularly lycopene, ascorbic acid, vitamin E and phenol compounds, particularly flavonoids.”

Lycopene in tomatoes – another fantastic health booster

Tomatoes are super-rich in lycopene, a carotenoid pigment found in tomatoes – it is what gives them their beautiful, deep-red color. Lycopene is great for bone health, and can also play a crucial role in preventing prostate, lung and stomach cancers.

Enjoy some delicious tomatoes for help in lowering your blood pressure

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the American Heart Journal, it was demonstrated that short-term treatment with antioxidant-rich tomato extract can reduce blood pressure in patients with grade-1 hypertension!

Study participants first had a four-week placebo period, followed by an eight-week treatment period with tomato extract – 250 mg Lyc-O-Mato – and a four-week control period with placebo. The results? Systolic and diastolic blood pressure decreased during the treatment period, while no changes in blood pressure were shown in the placebo periods.

So grab some yummy, juicy, delicious tomatoes and get cooking – it is for your health, after all!

Join our weight loss program and lose upto 16-20 pounds in just 26 days. Call us at +92 345 8580969 to speak to our weight loss expert or email us at wecare@vitatious.com.

 


How to boost your nutrition intake and your health with smoothies

Depending on what you put in your smoothies, they can boost your daily nutrition and vitamin count considerably. Some smoothies contain foods loaded with health benefits, such as kale, flax and ingredients with omega-3 fatty acids that are highly recommended for good health.

Omega-3s don’t just come from fish

Nutritionists recommend you get omega-3s from fish, fish oils and supplements, but there are other sources. One is by drinking milk and eating dairy products made from the milk of cows that are fed only a grass diet. In addition to dairy products from grass fed cows, beef from cows that have been raised on the diet nature intended for them – grass – is also a solid source of omega-3s. Another source for omega-3s is walnuts. One smoothie recipe contains two kinds of fruit, almond milk, cranberry juice and walnut oil and is loaded with omega-3s. So, if you don’t like the taste of fish, there are other ways to get those same health benefits. A smoothie made with milk from grass fed cows or almond milk with a tablespoon of walnut oil added will be loaded with omega-3s.

Get your daily recommended servings of veggies

Other smoothie recipes are designed to help people get their recommended vegetable intake. If you have trouble eating all the vegetables that health experts and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommend we eat each day, which is three to five servings a day, you can get all of them in one smoothie. Even if you like the taste of vegetables, you may still have trouble eating all that is recommended, so a veggie smoothie is the way to go. One such recipe starts with a cup of filtered water, a carrot, a cucumber, a handful of spinach leaves, a slice of a beet, and a tomato. This one contains the entire rainbow color spectrum that is also recommended by nutritionists.

Veggie smoothies for those who don’t like vegetables

Kids and adults who don’t like the taste of vegetables can also get their recommended daily vegetable intake while disguising the taste of the vegetables with other ingredients. Some smoothie recipes of this type mix the vegetables with fruits and honey or other natural sweeteners, utilizing the Mary Poppins’ principle that “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” These smoothies still pack a healthy load of vitamin power and get vegetables in the diets of those who simply refuse to eat them.

Breakfast smoothies when you’re on the go

Some people drink smoothies as a way to eat breakfast on the go, such as drinking from a travel mug in the car, on the bus or on the subway. Breakfast smoothies are a way to get someone to eat breakfast who isn’t particularly hungry in the morning, and doesn’t like to take time to eat anything. Nutrients contained in a breakfast smoothie made from milk (almond or milk from grass fed cows), a ripe banana, cocoa powder and peanut butter has everything you need for a healthy breakfast. Add a few ice cubes to the blender to make the consistency more like that of a milk shake.

Join our weight loss program and lose upto 16-20 pounds in just 26 days. Call us at +92 345 8580969 to speak to our weight loss expert or email us at wecare@vitatious.com.

 


Study shows nutritional supplements can cut hospital readmission rates

Eleven years of groundbreaking research and data analysis on hospitalized Medicare patients is to be presented at the 35th annual meeting of the Society for Medical Decision Making in Baltimore, Maryland. The analysis has found positive evidence showing how nutritional supplements effectively lower hospital readmission rates. This is big news for the American medical industry, primarily because Medicare patients are typically given prescription drugs instead of nutritional supplements.

And that prescription drug system must not be working, for in the current Medicare system, one in five patients are readmitted to a hospital in the same year, costing American taxpayers estimates exceeding $17.5 billion.

Affordable Care Act prompting something good?

One provision of the Affordable Care Act imposes fines on hospitals whose patient readmission rates exceed national averages. Fines estimated around $227 million are projected to hit over 2,000 hospitals in the next year. The fine, currently at one percent, is set to double going into 2014, punishing those hospitals that can’t get their Medicare readmission rates under control.

This may pressure hospitals administrators to change their Medicare outpatient care completely, as health care professionals look for alternatives to help elderly patients recover.

Instead of welcoming readmissions and collecting Medicare insurance funds, hospitals may actually be pushed to help their patients recover! Entirely new outpatient programs and follow-ups may birth, helping seniors get the nutrition and energy they need to avoid readmission.

The most common medical readmission issues Medicare patients face are acute myocardial infarction and congestive heart failure. With the right nutritional outpatient care, these vascular problems could subside. If powerful nutritional supplements including the likes of chlorella, hawthorne, and flax seed were utilized, many patients wouldn’t have to be readmitted.

For example, if follow-up doctor visits encouraged dietary advice and the provision of organic whole food supplements, then patients could heal more efficiently by getting the right enzymes, probiotics, essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins in their body. This is the best way to cut down on hospital readmission rates – real whole food nutrition.

Nutritional supplements cutting down hospital readmission rates

The new 11-year study provides clear evidence on how nutritional supplements effectively cut hospital readmission rates.

The research, conducted from the University of Southern California and Stanford University, shows how oral nutritional supplements help hospitalized Medicare patients, reducing 30-day hospital readmission rates, lowering patients’ length of stay and bringing down taxpayer medical costs.

  • The study showed a 10.1 percent reduction in readmission rates for congestive heart failure patients.
  • The study relayed a 12 percent reduction in readmission rates for those suffering from acute myocardial infarction.
  • Overall, it showed an 8.4 readmission reduction for all patients, regardless of diagnosis!

Imagine the quality of life that elderly patients could regain well into their old age if simple nutrition was utilized in basic supplement form. On top of quality living, time and and cost savings were reported as well.

  • There was an observed 16 percent reduction in patients’ length of stay.
  • This equated to an average savings of 1.65 days per person.
  • There was a 15.8 percent cost savings, translating to $3,079 saved in health care expenses per person.

Breaking the norm

The norm has portrayed nutritional supplements as unnecessary and overpriced, but this 11-year study defies that myth. Nutritional supplements can and do save the medical industry thousands of dollars per patient, helping them recuperate faster and reduce their readmission probability. Cost savings are especially important in the Medicare system, because the whole thing is funded by the American taxpayers themselves.

Giving the right nutritional supplement instead of the right prescription drug is the future of health care in the United States. There is a mass awakening that will translate to real health care change.
The norm must be defied, and whole food nutrition must replace the current system of thought.

Peoples’ lives and their quality of life hang in the balance.

Join our weight loss program and lose upto 16-20 pounds in just 26 days. Call us at +92 345 8580969 to speak to our weight loss expert or email us at wecare@vitatious.com.

 


Researchers say nutrition and diet essential for improving mental health

It’s no secret that a healthy dietary lifestyle goes hand in hand with improved physical health. Certain foods can help stave off cancer recurrences, keep diabetes at bay and lead to weight loss.

However, many foods also play a role in mental health. How certain foods impact mental well-being has continually been studied, and now, researchers from the University of Melbourne and Deakin University have reinforced the strong link between nutrition and good mental health. It’s so important that the experts say equal importance should be placed on both the physical and the mental aspects of a healthy diet.

According to lead author Dr. Jerome Sarris, who works at the University of Melbourne and is a member of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research, attention to the nutrition-mental health connection is critical. “While the determinants of mental health are complex,” he said, “the emerging and compelling evidence for nutrition as a key factor in the high prevalence and incidence of mental disorders suggests that nutrition is as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology, endocrinology and gastroenterology.

Nutritional deficiencies can jeopardize good mental health

The team assessed previous “scientifically rigorous” materials that homed in on the ability of nutrients to alter mental health.

Ultimately, the researchers concluded that diet does indeed provide insight into mental illness and that ignoring this component when it comes to related research can negatively impact advancements in the field. They make it clear, for example, that even maternal nutrition is vital when it comes to mental health outcomes in children, as are the foods that youngsters eat. Serious nutritional deficiencies, especially during early childhood development, can pave the way for psychotic and depressive disorders.

The research, titled “Nutritional medicine as mainstream in psychiatry,” was published in The Lancet Psychiatry.

It states, “Evidence is steadily growing for the relation between dietary quality (and potential nutritional deficiencies) and mental health,” concluding in its summary that the researchers “advocate recognition of diet and nutrition as central determinants of both physical and mental health.”

Healthy diet plays significant role in mental wellness

Sarris maintains that “it is time for clinicians to consider diet and additional nutrients as part of the treating package to manage the enormous burden of mental ill health.” His statement reinforces the need to incorporate more of a focus on diet throughout one’s life, something he hopes becomes more commonplace when medical professionals assess one’s mental state.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, proper nutrition is essential for good mental health. “Simply put,” their site states, “healthy eating is one of the best things you can do to improve wellness.” It goes on to say that a diet which includes fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans is ideal.

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Trans fats in junk food impair brain function, cause memory loss

It’s no secret that eating junk foods contributes to weight gain and can lead to health complications, but new information about dietary trans fats (dTFA) — which exist in most junk foods — shows that consumption of such items is also destroying people’s minds. Specifically, memory function among men aged younger than 45 years has been shown to worsen with consumption of foods loaded with dietary trans fats.(1)

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, discovered that men falling within the aforementioned age bracket were able to recall 86 words during a word recall test. However, for every additional gram of trans fats eaten every day, their recall fell by 0.76 words compared to men who did not consume trans fats. In simpler terms, what this boils down to is that men who had the highest levels of dTFA remembered 12 fewer words than those who did not eat trans fats.

Problematic for people who need to focus on productivity, workplace performance

Experts note that the age impacted unfortunately involves men who are typically in the midst of their career, where focus and effectiveness in the workplace is of utmost importance. “Trans fats were most strongly linked to worse memory in men during their high productivity years,” said Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD, and lead author of the study.

While women were involved in the study, and analyses involving them were similar to those of the men, “women were too few in number to draw separate conclusions.” Therefore, the findings home in on men, who make up half of the population.

The researchers also noted that this study, which was published in PLOS ONE, was among the first of its kind. “Trans fat consumption has previously shown adverse associations to behavior and mood—other pillars of brain function,” Golomb said. “However, to our knowledge a relation to memory or cognition had not been shown.”

Physical, mental benefits of eliminating trans fats from diet

As stated in PLOS ONE, the benefits of removing trans fats from diets are plenty:

These findings, in which greater dTFA consumption is linked to worse word memory in adults during years of high productivity, adults [younger than 45], add to evidence for unfavorable health correlates of trans fat consumption. They extend findings to a third pillar of central nervous system function, cognition—complementing evidence for adverse dTFA relations to behavior (aggression/irritability) and mood.

Through the years, there’s been a rise in awareness regarding the detrimental health aspects of junk food consumption. Everything from obesity and inflammation to insulin resistance and an increased risk for cardiac problems is linked to eating the likes of potato chips, donuts and vending machine snacks. While lack of exercise and stress are also factors that lead to the onset or worsening of such health problems, it’s clear that the excessive amounts of sugary foods laden with unpronounceable additives and loads of trans fats have fallen under the watchful eye of health-minded people.

Today, it’s not uncommon for restaurant chains and food corporations to voluntarily announce plans to create healthier menus and eliminate harmful ingredients.

Thankfully, a large-scale effort to get trans fats out of processed foods is in place

In 2013, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made a preliminary announcement about trans fats, saying they’re not generally recognized as safe anymore. Flash forward to recent news this year in which the FDA came down even harder on such fats, saying that food makers have three years to stop using trans fats. Microwave popcorn, pie crusts and frostings are just a few examples of foods that would need to eliminate them.

These fats are used to enhance flavoring, prolong shelf life and maintain a product’s appearance. However, the eye and taste appeal simply isn’t worth the possible health consequences. “As I tell patients,” said Golomb, “while trans fats increase the shelf life of foods, they reduce the shelf life of people.”

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Nutrition is the basis for happiness

Happiness comes easy for some, but for many it’s a daily struggle. Some carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, while others see beauty in all things. Unhappy people deal with internal strife, fears, early-life trauma, genetic predispositions, major injuries, losses, etc. Our set points for happiness differ, as do our circumstances. Yet, what we do about our circumstances makes all the difference. So does what we eat, because nutrition is the foundation of wellness.

Vitamin D

Happiness starts by getting some sun. Vitamin D is produced in the skin from sunlight, and available as a supplement. Upwards of 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily is optimal for bone and muscle strength, cancer prevention, cardiovascular function, autoimmune disease prevention, and infection resistance. It also enhances a sense of well-being, improves sleep, reduces inflammation, and relieves depression, which contribute to happiness.

Omega-3s

Equally important for happiness are omega-3 fatty acids, which support heart, brain, mood, joint, skin, immune, allergic, digestive, metabolic and vision health. Our eyes and brains contain high levels of DHA – the mature form of omega-3 – which improves nerve-cell growth and communication. Omega-3s reduce inflammation, a process that fuels depression, anxiety, cognitive dysfunction, heart disease and cancer. Low omega-3 is linked to cognitive dysfunction, while omega-3 supplementation benefits depression, anxiety, bipolarity, ADHD, and behavioral problems. Fish oil keeps prisoners from rioting, and makes for happy mothers and babies. Omega-3 deficiency is a risk factor in major psychiatric and personality disorders, despair, homicide and suicide. Omega-3s also protect against the dumbing-down caused by sugar. Arthritis relief is also worth a few smiles. Animal sources include fatty fish, grass-fed meat an dairy, and fish and krill oil supplements. Vegetarian sources include algae, flaxmeal, walnuts, hemp and chia seeds. Other healthy fats found in olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and leafy green vegetables also decrease depression risk.

Antioxidants

Many fats are prone to oxidative damage (rancidity), which contributes to aging and chronic diseases. Omega-3s are protected by several antioxidants, including carotenoids, vitamin E, curcumin, CoQ10, olive oil and extracts, fruits, vegetables and green tea. Yellow carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin) protect omega-3s in the brain and eye to prevent dementia and blindness, which can lead to dependency, depression and unhappiness. Neural tissue is difficult to regenerate, and needs antioxidant protection.

Adults with higher antioxidant levels are more optimistic. Carotenoids from fruits, vegetables, or supplements are especially effective. High carotenoid intake is linked to numerous health benefits and longevity, based on a 62-study review. Sadly, most Americans fall into the moderate to high disease risk category, based on their low carotenoid consumption.

Serotonin

Raising serotonin improves mood. Serotonin is made from tryptophan. 5HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) has been shown to raise serotonin levels. Vitamins B6 and B12 help maintain serotonin levels, and help reduce irritability, weakness, insomnia and calm nerves. Vitamin B6 increases omega-3s in cell membranes. SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) also promotes mood-elevating neurotransmitters.

Other happy pills

Theanine from green tea is calming and promotes sleep. Phenylethylamine (PEA) is an antidepressant found in chocolate and blue-green algae. Magnesium calms muscles and nerves, improves mood, and fosters sleep. Fiber makes for happy gut bacteria, which return the favor by removing toxins from our bodies. Sweets and carbs are among the most comforting foods, despite some serious drawbacks. Nevertheless, a little raw honey daily is healthy, and will boost tryptophan in the brain to increase serotonin. The list goes on and on. Experiment a little with these mood-elevating foods and supplements. You’ll be happy you did.

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