Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Spice Up Your Food For Healthier Living

Sadly there seems to be a direct correlation between bland and healthy - the less taste it has, the better it is for you.  This off course becomes a major roadblock towards eating healthier.  After all, the reason that so much restaurant food is so loaded up with "bad stuff" is that they are focusing on taste not health, as that is what you are paying for and what will keep you coming back for more.  Thus, successful "losers" know to stay away from restaurant food - occasional is OK, but frequent is bad.
But who wants to eat boring stuff at home?  The trick is to start with the healthiest ingredients that you can, then enhance the flavor by adding in "extras" such as spices to turn the dish from dull to distinctive.  And when it comes to natural spices, you have plenty of stuff to choose from that is not only low (or no) calorie, but also may have other benefits such as well.  Here are some examples:
Cinnamon - This popular spice can help to stabilize blood sugar, which is excellent for those with type 2 diabetes.  In addition, if you balance blood sugar you control appetite so there are possible benefits for those seeking to eat less.  Cinnamon may also help to lower cholesterol levels, especially LDL.  There are even studies that suggest cinnamon can improve brain function and improve memory.   And finally cinnamon has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties similar to that of nutmeg.
Nutmeg - Being anti-bacterial, Nutmeg has several interesting benefits.  For one, it can reduce bad breath since it specifically attacks that type of bacteria.  Once it gets deeper into the body, that same benefit can wipe out some intestinal bacteria, which in turns decreases "flatulence".  Nutmeg can also help with insomnia as it causes some people to grow sleepy, so adding it too food or drinks consumed before bedtime can have beneficial slumber effects.
Cloves - When consumed in higher quantities, cloves can help reduce iron which may help with diarrhea, intestinal parasites, infections, thyroid problems, and lymphoma.  All this and low calories too.  Plus its one of the strongest antioxidants known to man.
Ginger - Ginger is so versatile in terms of flavoring and has plenty of excellent benefits such as reduction of motion sickness, heartburn, erectile dysfunction, morning sickness and menstrual cramps.  Plus it has been shown to help against the common cold.
This is just a small sample of the spices available for enhancing food and improving health. 
To learn more, visit this site where you can find an alphabetized list of spices and seasonings, with links to specific details about each.
Then head to the grocery store to spice up your life on a path to better health.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Do Weight Loss Pills Really Work? - Qsymia

I think I made it pretty obvious in my last post that I am not a fan of using drugs for weight loss or pretty much anything else.  A key point to be really clear about is that weight loss turns into weight management once you drop those initial unwanted pounds.  Getting them off is one thing, keeping them off is another.  Thus, whatever methods you use to burn it off, you need to continue to use (forever) to keep it off.  Do you really want to be pumping chemicals into your body for the rest of your life?  Be in control, and lose weight the right way - naturally!
Ok, I'm off my soapbox...for now.
Qsymia is a new weight-loss medication that is available through prescription.  It is a combination of two drugs - phentermine and topiramate.  (Both are FDA-approved and thus considered safe??)  The phentermine helps to reduce appetite by increasing levels of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter,  in a certain part of the brain which reduces hunger while increasing satiety (a feeling of fullness).  The topiramate, which is typically used to prevent migraine headaches, is thought to affect another neurotransmitter in the brain, though its not exactly clear on how it reduces food intake.
In at least two different trials, approximately 62% of the participants who took Qysmia along with proper diet and exercise lost at least 5% of their body weight.  And while that might sound successful to some, it sounds very weak to me.  5% is not that much!  Is it worth flooding your body with chemicals to drop that small amount?  Remember,  the participants also engaged in proper diet and exercise, so it wasn't the pill alone that generated the weight loss.
Qysmia like many other drugs,  carries with it certain risks with birth defects being at the top of the list.  It's been shown to increase the risk of cleft lip and palate.  It can also slow down brain function and increase heart rate.  In fact, the effects on potential heart attack and stroke aren't clear at this point.  And though its been approved by the FDA, its worth noting that it has not been approved by European Regulators.
But who am I to judge, I understand the desperation that many feel when it comes to losing weight.  However, it doesn't make sense (to me) to take on potentially new health problems while trying to fix an existing one - unless of course a well-versed Physician is guiding the process.
Think about this - if you weigh 350 pounds and lost 5% of your weight over one year it would only be 17.5 pounds.  Is a drug worth that? 
On the other hand, if you cut out 250 calories of eating per day and increased your calorie burn by 250 calories per day (via a 2 mile walk) you could easily lose a pound a week which could potentially turn into 52 pounds in a year. (In theory...)
I know it works, because I have done it on a bigger scale.  So my point is simply that you must always look beyond the allure of a so-called magic pill and focus on the big picture when it comes to weight loss.  Most people have failed because of unrealistic expectations and bad choices.  When done the right way, its not nearly as difficult as it might seem right now.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Do Weight Loss Pills Really Work? - Belviq

I truly am not a fan of any drug of any kind and cringe with the thought of adding chemicals into my body.  Thus I was adamant that I would lose weight using lifestyle changes, good eating, and routine exercise to make it happen.  Slow, steady and successful.  Forget magic pills - the best way to lose weight and keep it off forever is to depend on yourself and do it naturally. 
But with that out of the way, so you know I have a jaded opinion, I figured it might be resourceful to share some medical studies about some new weight loss drugs.  I'm not a Doctor or researcher, just someone passing on the findings of others. 
Today's weight-loss drug is Belviq.
Belviq (lorcaserin) activates a serotonin receptor in the brain that may help a person eat less and feel full after having eaten smaller portions of food than normal.  During clinical trials, patients on average lost 5% of their body weight, even after taking the drug for a year.  This was a combination of drug, decreased food intake and increased exercise. 
There are some concerns in the medical community that the drug could potentially damage heart valves, especially since a similar type of drug (Fenfluramine) was taken off the market in 1997 due to concerns of heart damage.  Plus there are long term unknowns such as an increased risk for heart attack or stroke when used with other diet medications.
Side effects include potential headache, dizziness, fatrigue, nausea, dry mouth and constipation.
So all that potential negative for a lousy 5% reduction in body weight over a year?  And it still required modifications in diet and exercise to achieve even that.  Makes me wonder what they were eating and how they were exercising.  For a 300lb person, that yields a 15 pound loss.  I started at 297 pounds and dropped 50 over 5 months without any extremes or pills...just sayin... you can read about it here on my website.