For those who worry about “bad” cholesterol levels, make sure to grab some avocados the next time you’re in the grocery store.
Eating avocados may be a way to tackle high cholesterol.
Researchers found that eating an avocado every day – as part of a heart healthy, cholesterol-lowering moderate-fat diet – can actually improve bad cholesterol levels for people who are overweight or obese.
The research, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that people on a moderate-fat diet who ate an avocado every day had lower bad cholesterol than than those on a similar diet who didn’t eat an avocado a day or were on a lower-fat diet.
This doesn’t mean everyone should break out the chips and guacamole.
Corn chips are high in calories and sodium. A better way to eat avocados is to put them in salads and sandwiches and eat them with chicken or fish – lean protein foods.
Researchers used Hass avocados in their study. They tested the effect avocados had on traditional and novel cardiovascular risk factors by replacing saturated fatty acids from an average American diet with unsaturated fatty acids from avocados.
People in the study followed three different cholesterol-lowering diets. The results found that those who ate an avocado every day and followed a moderate fat diet had the biggest drop – 13.5 mg/dL – in low-density lipoprotein, also called “bad cholesterol.”
This same group also had more favorable blood measurements on the avocado diet for total cholesterol, triglycerides, small dense LDL, non-HDL cholesterol and others.
Avocados, which contain monounsaturated fatty acids – MUFAs -, also provide other important nutrients such as fiber and phytosterols, which help keep the body from absorbing cholesterol.
According to researchers, many heart-healthy diets recommend replacing saturated fatty acids with MUFAs or polyunsaturated fatty acids to reduce the risk of heart disease. This is because saturated fats can increase bad cholesterol levels and raise the risk of cardiovascular disease, the news release states.
The Mediterranean diet, includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, and foods rich in MUFAs such as extra-virgin olive oil and nuts. Like avocados, some research indicates that these not only contain better fats but also certain micronutrients and bioactive components that may play an important role in reducing risk of heart disease, according to the AHA.
+ Discover how nutrition can benefit good health. Meet with a Registered Dietitian at Bon Secours InMotion for Nutritional Analysis.
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Exercise may help people with Parkinson’s disease improve their balance, mobility and quality of life but it should be started early on after diagnosis.
About 60 percent of patients who have Parkinson’s suffer a fall every year. Two-thirds of them fall repeatedly.
“The resulting injuries, pain, limitations of activity and fear of falling again can really affect people’s health and well-being,” said study author Colleen G. Canning, PhD, of the University of Sydney in Australia.
For the study, 231 people with Parkinson’s disease either received their usual care or took part in an exercise program of 40 to 60 minutes of balance and leg strengthening exercises three times a week for six months. This minimally-supervised exercise program was prescribed and monitored by a physical therapist with participants performing most of the exercise at home. On average, 13 percent of the exercise sessions were supervised by a physical therapist.
Compared to those in the control group, the number of falls by participants who exercised was reduced in those with less severe Parkinson’s disease, but not in those with more severe disease. Those who had less severe disease and exercised, experienced a 70-percent reduction in falling.
“These results suggest that minimally-supervised exercise programs aimed at reducing falls in people with Parkinson’s should be started early in the disease process,” Canning said.
Overall, those who took part in the exercise program performed better on tests of ability to move around and balance, had a lower fear of falls and reported better overall mood and quality of life.
The study was supported by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and the Harry Secomb Foundation.
Source: American Academy of Neurology news release
+ At Bon Secours In Motion our physical therapy clinic at DePaul Medical Center offers a non-invasive treatment program for Parkinson’s patients struggling with the activities of daily living. “BIG” is the treatment of Parkinson’s through an evidenced based intensive amplitude-based exercise program for the limb motor system and re-education of the sensorimotor system. The goal of the BIG program is to help these patients perform their activities of daily living with greater ease.
Exercise and healthy eating are essential for successful weight loss. But here’s a strategy for losing weight you won’t find in the gym or the health food section.
Try to make sure you get a good night’s sleep every night.
Research shows that sleep isn’t just essential for the brain, according to the National Institutes of Health.
“Sleep affects almost every tissue in our bodies,” said Dr. Michael Twery, a sleep expert at NIH. “It affects growth and stress hormones, our immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure and cardiovascular health.”
A lack of sleep increases the risk for obesity, heart disease and infections. While a person sleeps, their body releases hormones that are important for repairing cells and controlling the body’s use of energy. These hormone changes can also affect a person’s weight.
“Ongoing research shows a lack of sleep can produce diabetic-like conditions in otherwise healthy people,” said Dr. Merrill Mitler, a sleep expert and neuroscientist at NIH.
To have a good night’s sleep, a person needs four to five sleep cycles. Each cycle includes periods of deep sleep and rapid eye movement sleep when we dream.
“As the night goes on, the portion of that cycles that is in REM sleep increases,” Twery said. “It turns out that this pattern of cycling and progression is critical to the biology of sleep.”
Adults need seven to eight hours of sleep every night.
To improve your sleep, try the following sleep tips from the National Sleep Foundation:
- Exercise regularly. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of your sleep.
- Create a sleep environment that is quiet, dark and cool with a comfortable mattress and pillows.
- Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual, like a warm bath or listening to calming music.
- Go to sleep and wake at the same time every day, and avoid spending more time in bed than needed.
- Use bright light to help manage your “body clock.” Avoid bright light in the evening and expose yourself to sunlight in the morning.
- Use your bedroom only for sleep to strengthen the association between your bed and sleep. It may help to remove work materials, computers and televisions from your bedroom.
- Save your worries for the daytime. If concerns come to mind, write them in a “worry book” so you can address those issues the next day.
- If you can’t sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired.
- If you are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness, snoring, or “stop breathing” episodes in your sleep, contact your health care professional for a sleep apnea screening.
Source: NIH News in Health, National Sleep Foundation press release, National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 Sleep in America® poll.
Every year, one of the top New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight by eating a healthier diet.
If you’re one of the thousands of people searching the internet for diet clues, authorities at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have some important advice. Make sure you seek information from someone qualified to give it – a Registered Dietitian.
“Whether it’s weight loss, functional foods, food allergies or menu and food labels, nutrition is one of the hottest topics in the country today,” said Academy spokeswoman Lauri Wright, who is also a registered dietitian nutritionist. “Just like seeking a doctor’s advice when looking for medical information, it is vital that consumers understand the importance of where they get their nutrition information. Misinformation from individuals who are uneducated, untrained or unqualified in nutrition can, at the least, be a waste of time, and at the worst be fatal.”
Seek a Weight Loss Expert
To help consumers find a qualified food and nutrition expert, here are some of the accomplishments a registered dietitian nutritionist has completed:
- a bachelor’s degree with course work approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.
- an accredited, supervised practice program at a health-care facility, community agency or foodservice corporation.
- a passing score on a national exam administered by the Commission of Dietetic Registration
- continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.
“There is no magic bullet or one-size-fits-all approach to healthy eating,” Wright said. “After meeting with consumers on an individual basis to learn about specific tastes, lifestyle needs and health concerns, RDNs will use their expertise to develop a personalized lifestyle plan consumers can stick with to meet their goals.”
Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics news release
+ Learn about the Nutritional Analysis program offered at Bon Secours In Motion. Learn firsthand from our Registered Dietitians how to meet your nutritional needs and weight loss goals.
Holiday cookies. Adult beverages. Grandma’s fudge.
This time of year leaves a lot of people wondering how to get rid of the dreaded belly fat.
If you ask the researchers at Harvard School of Public Health for advice, they’re likely going to tell you to head to the nearest weight room and work on your weight training.
In a new study of healthy men who had varying ranges of body mass index, researchers found that weight training appears key to controlling belly fat.
Men who performed 20 minutes of daily weight training had less age-related belly fat compared with men who spent the same amount of time doing aerobic activities.
To achieve optimal results, researchers suggest combining weight training and aerobic activity. The study appears in the Dec. 22, 2014 issue of the journal Obesity.
“Because aging is associated with sarcopenia, the loss of skeletal muscle mass, relying on body weight alone is insufficient for the study of healthy aging,” said lead author Rania Mekary, a researcher in the HSPH’s Department of Nutrition. “Measuring waist circumference is a better indicator of healthy body composition among older adults. Engaging in resistance training or ideally, combining it with aerobic exercise could help older adults lessen abdominal fat while increasing or preserving muscle mass.”
Unlike previous studies – which have been short-term and focused on strictly overweight individuals or those with type 2 diabetes – this study was long-term with a large sample of more than 10,000 healthy men.
After following the men for 12 years, researchers found that those who increased the amount of time spent in weight training by 20 minutes a day had smaller waistlines compared to men who increased the amount of time they spent doing moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise.
To no surprise, those who spent more time watching TV had a larger gain their waistline.
“This study underscores the importance of weight training in reducing abdominal obesity, especially among the elderly,” said Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH and senior author of the study. “To maintain a healthy weight and waistline, it is critical to incorporate weight training and aerobic exercise.”
Source: HSPH news release
+ Get fit in the New Year. Learn about Bon Secour In Motion’s Fitness and Weight Loss Program.
Can you balance on one leg? New research suggests it may reflect a person’s brain health and their risk for having a stroke.
Struggling to balance on one leg for 20 seconds or longer was linked to an increased risk for small blood pressure damage in the brain and reduced cognitive function in otherwise healthy people.
“Our study found that the ability to balance on one leg is an important test for brain health,” said Yasuharu Tabara, Ph.D., lead study author and associate professor at the Center for Genomic Medicine at Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Kyoto, Japan. “Individuals showing poor balance on one leg should receive increased attention, as this may indicate an increased risk for brain disease and cognitive decline.”
Nearly !,600 people whose average age was 67 participated in the study. They were each asked to stand with their eyes open and one leg raised. The maximum time for keeping the leg raised was 60 seconds. People in the study performed this test twice and the better of the two times was used in the study analysis. Cerebral small vessel disease was assessed using brain magnetic resonance imaging.
Researchers found that the inability to balance one one leg for longer than 20 seconds was associated with cerebral small vessel disease – small infarctions without symptoms.
While previous studies have looked at the connection between gait and physical abilities and the risk of stroke, this study closely examined how long a person can stand on one leg as an indication of other overall brain health.
“One-leg standing time is a simple measure of postural instability and might be a consequence of the presence of brain abnormalities,” said Tabara.
Source: American Heart Association
+ Learn about recovering from injuries and conditions through the physical therapy program at Bon Secours In Motion.
+ Read about balance and fall prevention techniques taught at In Motion.
Chronic, low-back pain – a common problem that’s often difficult to treat – may be eased with the practice of yoga, according to two studies.
But before anyone rolls out their yoga mat for the first time, they should understand that yoga does not replace conventional medical care. It should also not be used to postpone seeing a doctor or health care provider for any pain.
Current research suggests that yoga poses can reduce low-back pain and improve the ability to walk and move, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Studies also suggest that practicing yoga regularly may also reduce heart rate and blood pressure and help relieve anxiety and depression. Yoga has also been shown to improve overall physical fitness, strength and flexibility.
- One study of 90 people with chronic low-back pain found that after six months of practicing yoga, they had significantly less pain, disability and depression.
- A 2011 study found that people who did yoga and conventional stretching exercises had better results than when they followed a self-care book for chronic low-back pain.
Studies on how yoga affects osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis have been inconclusive.
Before taking a yoga class, it’s important to make sure the instructor is well-trained. Some yoga teacher programs require hundreds of hours of training while others require very little. Professional organizations can often recommend certified instructors.
Hot yoga, which has become a popular trend in recent years, is when the room is heated as high as 105 degrees.
People interested in trying hot yoga should consult their physician first. People who have heart disease, lung disease and a prior history of heatstroke may want to avoid this type of practice. Many hot yoga classes recommend drinking water before, during and after a hot yoga class.
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
+ Do you suffer from arthritis? At Bon Secours In Motion, individualized treatment programs for arthritis care and rehabilitation are developed based on each patient’s initial evaluation. Our multidisciplinary treatment team of experienced physical therapists relies on a variety of non-invasive treatment options.
If you feel like you need to take a nice, long nap after Thanksgiving, don’t blame it on eating turkey.
Yes, turkey does contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid which is associated with inducing drowsiness, but that’s not what’s really making us so sleepy.
It’s actually from overeating, according to the American Chemical Society.
When people overeat, blood is diverted from the brain and the rest of the body to the stomach and digestive system. Big helpings of carbohydrates such as those found in bread, yams with marshmallows, and pie lead many people to head for a nap on the couch.
In fact, many people consume more calories during their Thanksgiving meal than they do throughout a typical day.
It’s a good reminder to remember that holidays are wonderful for celebrating but portion control is important.
Avoid Overeating with Portion Control
One way to limit how much you eat is to use your plate as a guide for a balanced meal, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Half of your plate should be reserved for vegetables, a quarter for grains, and a quarter for lean meat or protein, such as turkey.
“Remind yourself that you can always have leftovers the next day and don’t have to eat a little of everything on Thanksgiving,” said Jackie Browning, a Registered Dietitian for Bon Secours Surgical Weight Loss Center.
Sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Chemical Society news release
+ Make sure your leftovers are safe to eat. Check out these tips for storage and reheating.
+ How healthy are your meals? Find out with Nutritional Analysis, a program at Bon Secours In Motion where you work with a Registered Dietitian to make sure you’re getting the right nutrients for your body.
Carrying groceries. Lifting children. Pulling doors open.
Building strength and muscle mass in your arms – specifically your biceps – isn’t just for show. It’s important to have strong biceps for everyday activities.
But which exercise is best for targeting the biceps?
A recent independent study, commissioned by the American Council on Exercise, evaluated which of the most popular exercises for biceps most effectively strengthened the biceps brachii.
After analyzing data, the researchers observed that the concentration curl elicited significantly higher muscle activity in the biceps than any of the others. Concentration curls are performed with the upper arm pressed against the leg, resulting in better isolation of the biceps muscle, according to a news release from ACE.
“Part of our mission is to ensure people have the science-based information they need to safely and effectively achieve their health and fitness goals. For many people, that means selecting the most effective exercises for targeting the biceps,” said ACE Chief Science Officer Cedric Bryant, Ph.D. “This study helped us identify which exercise produced the highest degree of biceps engagement.”
Led by John Porcari, PhD, researchers fromthe University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse, recruited 16 healthy female and male volunteers to evaluate the cable curl, barbell curl, concentration curl, chin-up, EZ curl (both wide and narrow grip), incline curl and preacher curl.
Using data from electrodes attached to the biceps brachii, anterior deltoid and brachioradialis of each subject, muscle activity was measured during each exercise.
During the other exercises movements, the upper arm is able to sway and contribute the movement as indicated by a higher level of anterior deltoid muscle activity. According to Bryant, “It’s important to note, however, that several of the other exercises elicited more than adequate biceps muscle activation and can serve as viable options for improving biceps muscle strength and function.”
Source: ACE news release
+ Did you know building lean muscle helps people lose weight? Learn more about the fitness and weight loss program at Bon Secours In Motion.
Is it possible to control a craving for cupcakes, pizza or pie by the way you think about food?
Researchers believe we can. In fact, they say they may have found an effective strategy for people who want to stop acting on food cravings.
In a recent study, researchers used functional MRI scans to watch the brains of people as they viewed pictures of enticing foods such as pizza, French fries and ice cream. The researchers discovered that if the participants thought about the long-term negative impact of eating those foods, it could reduce their appetite.
“We found that simply thinking in a different way affects how the brain responds to tempting food cues in individuals with obesity,” said Dr. Kathryn Demos, assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the Miriam Hospital at Brown University. “Through the MRI scans we identified that thinking about the long-term negative impact of eating unhealthy foods increased activity in a region of the brain involved in inhibitory control and self-regulation. Our results show the promising possibility that focusing on the long-term consequences of consuming unhealthy foods could help diminish cravings and, as a result, potentially enhance weight-loss efforts.”
During the study, participants were asked to use four different strategies for combating food cravings:
- distraction – thinking about something else other than enticing food.
- allow – accepting one’s thoughts and recognizing they are just thoughts that need not be acting upon.
- later – focusing on negative long-term consequences of eating the food.
- now – focusing on the immediate reward of the food.
Strategy to Reduce Food Cravings
Using the MRI scans, researchers found that the “later” strategy reduced the urge to eat the most. It also increased brain activity the most in areas that are associated with inhibition of overeating.
Source: The Obesity Society news release
+ Need help losing weight? Learn about the Bon Secours In Motion Fitness and Weight Loss Program.
+ Are you eating the right foods for your activity level? At Bon Secours In Motion, our Registered Dietitians help clients live healthier lives through nutritional analysis.