If you think diet soda is a cure for weight gain, think again. A new study suggests that it not only doesn’t protect against obesity, it might actually be driving you to eat more junk food. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign looked at the dietary habits of more than 22,000 U.S. adults, and discovered that the more diet beverages you consume, the more of your daily calories come from foods high in salt, sugar, fat and cholesterol. And it’s not because you don’t know any better: oddly, the more educated you are, the more likely you are to fall into the trap, the study found. Although diet-beverage drinkers consumed fewer overall calories each day than people who drank sugary drinks, a larger percentage of their calories came from junk foods. The diet sodas seemed to be driving them to eat more bad-for-you foods, according to University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Ruopeng An. To get a definitive answer on the virtues and vices of diet soda, the editors of Eat This, Not That! looked at the research and discovered the truth about zero-calorie beverages. DIET SODA SECRET #1 IT TRICKS YOU INTO THINKING YOU’RE HEALTHY Because choosing a zero-calorie beverage gives you an instant health halo, you may be more likely to feel justified reaching for a bag of chips or a carb-heavy muffin, An says. “If people simply substitute diet beverages for sugar-sweetened beverages, it may not have the intended effect because they may just eat those calories rather than drink them.” In fact, people who consume diet beverages tend to be less healthy, overall, than people who do not, according to an earlier study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. DIET SODA SECRET #2 IT SENDS YOUR BODY SEEKING CALORIES “Artificial sweeteners affect our sense of satiety,” says Isabel Smith, MS RD CDN, of Isabel Smith Nutrition. “Our bodies have evolutionarily developed to expect a large amount of calories when we take in something exceedingly sweet, and those artificial sweeteners are from 400 times to 8,000 times sweeter than sugar. It causes a couple things to happen: The muscles in your stomach relax so you can take in food, and hormones are released. With artificial sweeteners, your body says, ‘Wait a minute, you told me you were going to give me all this high-calorie food.’ It can actually send some people searching for more food, out of lack of satisfaction.” DIET SODA SECRET #3 IT TRAINS YOUR TASTE BUDS TO CRAVE SWEETS Consuming super-sweet beverages — even if that sweetness comes without calories — may lead to a high preference for sweetness overall. That means you’re more likely to choose the bread with more sugar, the peanut butter with more sugar, the ice cream with more sugar… And the effect may be more pronounced from diet drinks than from sugar-sweetened drinks, because artificial sweeteners are so much sweeter than real sugars. DIET SODA SECRET #4 IT CAUSES YOU TO STORE FAT A University of Texas study found that people who drank two or more diet sodas a day had waist-size increases that were six times greater than non-drinkers. Diet drinks are loaded with deceptively sweet artificial sweeteners, which, researchers say, trick the metabolism into thinking sugar is on its way, spike insulin levels, and shift the body from a fat-burning to a fat-storing state. DIET SODA SECRET #5 IT MAKES YOU MISS OUT ON NUTRITION While diet drinks are calorie-free, they’re also nutrition-free. That means you’re making the choice to get nothing when you could be getting something from healthy beverages like smoothies or teas. In fact, when Taiwanese researchers studied more than 1,100 people over a 10-year period, they determined that those who drank green tea had nearly 20 percent less body fat than those who drank none. By Eat This, Not That! via Yahoo Beauty
Diet advice is a lot like fashion. Trends come—wedge sneakers, drop-crotch pants, those skirts that are short in the front and long in the back—and a year or two later they seem hopelessly out of date. But the truly stylish always look smart; you’ll never see a photo of Pharrell Williams wearing crocs or Victoria Beckham in a meat dress. Here at Eat This, Not That! we see the same thing with the lean and fit: Those who stay slim don’t follow diets or nutrition trends. They follow common sense eating strategies that keep them looking fit for life. Giving up gluten, throwing back shots of apple cider vinegar, juicing everything in sight—try them if you think they make sense. But when those of-the-moment diet fads are gathering dust in the back of your metaphorical closet, the simple, smart, sensible approaches will be there like a favorite pair of jeans or a perfect little black dress—look-great staples guaranteed to never go out of style. NUTRITION TIP #1. Hide your weakness. If you see it, you’ll eat it. If you don’t see it, you’ll still eat it—but not so much. That’s what a study at Google’s New York office, dubbed “Project M&M” found. Office managers discovered that placing the chocolate candies in opaque containers as opposed to glass ones, and giving healthier snacks like nuts and figs more prominent shelf space, curbed M&M intake by 3.1 million calories in just seven weeks. A similar study published in the Journal of Marketing found that people are more likely to overeat small treats from transparent packages than from opaque ones. Out of sight, out of mind, out of mouth. NUTRITION TIP #2. Use the 1 in 10 rule. For every 10 grams of carbohydrate listed on the label, look for at least one gram of fiber. Why 10:1? That’s the ratio of carbohydrate to fiber in a genuine, unprocessed whole grain. The recommendation comes from a study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition that evaluated hundreds of grain products; foods that met the 10:1 ratio had have less sugar, sodium, and trans fats than those that didn’t. NUTRITION TIP #3. Boost flavor to cut calories. Ever notice how everything inside a McDonald’s—the burgers, the fries, the shakes—smells exactly the same? That sameness of scent is actually a tactic that can inspire you to consume more calories. A study in the journal Flavour found that the less distinctive the scent of a particular food, the more you’ll eat of it. Adding herbs and sodium-free spice blends is an easy take advantage of sensory illusion that you’re indulging in something rich—without adding any fat or calories to your plate. Furthermore, a recent behavioral study that taught adults to spruce up meals with herbs instead of salt led to a decrease in sodium consumption by nearly 1000 mg a day (that’s more salt than you’ll find in 5 bags of Doritos!). NUTRITION TIP #4. Chill pasta to melt fat. You can gain less weight from a serving of pasta simply by putting it in the fridge. The drop in temperature changes the nature of the noodles into something called “resistant starch,” meaning your body has to work harder to digest it. Cold pasta is closer in structure to natural resistant starches like lentils, peas, beans, and oatmeal, which pass through the small intestine intact and are digested in the large intestine, where—well, it gets kinda gross from there on out. A study in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism found that adding resistant starch to a meal may also promote fat oxidation. Suffice it say, colder noodles = hotter you. But you’ve got to eat it cold: Once you heat the pasta up again, you destroy the resistant starch. NUTRITION TIP #5. Dim the lights to get lighter. A study of fast food restaurants published in the journal Psychological Reports found that customers who dined in a relaxed environment with dimmed lights and mellow music ate 175 fewer calories per meal than if they were in a more typical restaurant environment. That may not sound like a dramatic savings, but cutting 175 calories from dinner every night could save you more than 18 pounds in a year! NUTRITION TIP #6. Eat, Don’t Drink, Your Fruit Juicing may be the rage, but like a certain Mr. Simpson, some juice can do more harm than good—including OJ. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that people who consumed one or more servings of fruit juice each day increased their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 21 percent. Conversely, those who ate at least two servings each week of certain whole fruits— particularly blueberries, grapes, and apples—reduced their risk for type 2 diabetes by as much as 23 percent. NUTRITION TIP #7. Eat before you eat. Eating an appetizer of a broth-based soup or even an apple can reduce total calorie intake over the course of the meal by up to 20 percent, according to a series of “Volumetrics” studies at Penn State. Consider that, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the average restaurant meal contains 1,128 calories. A 20 percent savings, just once a day, is enough to help you shed more than 23 pounds in a year. NUTRITION TIP #8. Choose paper, not plastic. Here’s a simple way to improve the health of your shopping cart: A series of experiments by Cornell University looked at the effects of payment method on food choice. When shoppers used credit cards, they bought more unhealthful “vice” foods than they did “virtue” foods. Researchers suggest that you’re less likely to impulsively buy junk food if it means parting with a hundred dollar bill than swiping plastic. NUTRITION TIP #9. Water down the calories. You’ve been told to drink 8 glasses of water a day, but why bother? Well, what if staying hydrated could strip pounds off your body? According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, after drinking approximately 17 ounces of water (about 2 tall glasses), participants’ metabolic rates increased by 30 percent. The researchers estimate that increasing water intake by 1.5 liters a day (about 6 cups) would burn an extra 17,400 calories over the course of the year—a weight loss of approximately five pounds! NUTRITION TIP #10. Remind yourself to lose weight. A recent study published online in Health Promotion Practice found that people who received weekly text reminders of their daily “calorie budget” and motivational emails made healthier meal and snack choices. A simple hack to help you slim down: set up reminders on your smartphone, so when 6 a.m. rolls around, it’s: You make 1200 calories-a-day look so good! And at lunchtime: Salad for the six-pack, baby! By Yahoo Health via Yahoo Beauty
Blemishes and scabs increase the antioxidants in some fruits.When people see a tomato that's sprouting five miniature tomatoes from its stem, or a carrot that looks like the foot of Sasquatch, it seems like a Little Shop of Horrors situation. But NPR says at least some scientific evidence suggests that weird-looking fruits and vegetables will not hurt you, but that they could actually deliver greater nutritional value than the prettier stuff. Here's what some of the more recent findings discovered: One study showed that an apple covered in scab has more healthy, antioxidant phenolic compounds, called phenylpropanoids, than a scab-free apple peel. Another study showed that apple leaves infected with scab have 10 to 20 percent more phenolic compounds. Similar research has found high levels of resveratrol in grape leaves infected with fungi or simply exposed to the stress of ultraviolet light. A study of Japanese knotweed, a plant with a long tradition of use in Chinese and Japanese herbal medicine, found that infection with common fungi boosted its resveratrol content as well. As NPR notes, it's already been pretty well established that organic produce contains more antioxidants. It can't rely on pesticides like conventional produce can, so it ends up doing most of the dirty work. Research suggests organics end up with 20 to 40 percent more antioxidants than regular stuff and that those tend to contain a lot of compounds typically produced when plants are attacked by pests (flavonoids, phenolic acids, carotenoids, etc.). Blemishes and gashes are sort of like kids playing in the dirt, or taking vaccines — it may make that piece of fruit a serious survivor. And it could even taste better: One apple grower says she's found she can make a more delicious hard cider using scarred Parma apples because they have 2 to 5 percent more sugar than undamaged apples from the same tree.
The reality is you have more control over your lifespan than you may think. Genetics only play a small role in how long you live. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average life expectancy is 78.8 years. If you want to live to the average, or surpass it, you should start making changes in your life now. The secrets to living longer go far beyond the obvious acts of eating healthy and reducing stress. Simple things such as improving your oral hygiene, making new friends and getting enough sleep all play a role in how long you will live. Did you know that having a positive attitude can actually add years to your life? It’s true, individuals with that have positive emotions encounter more happiness in their lives and happiness is strongly related to how long you will live. Start today and take action; use these tricks to make positive changes to your life and further your longevity.
Meet the dietary pattern, a style of eating with a proven record of success. Diets are out; dietary patterns are in – at least, that's what the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans seems to say. That's big news for those of us who like to incorporate the report's nutrition advice into our personal eating habits when it comes out every five years. This time, the government suggests we abandon diets that glorify or shun single foods and nutrients (think butter, eggs, fat and fiber – past years' targets) and shift our attention to overall eating patterns, or the sum total of what, how often and how much we eat, as well as what we eat it with. Why the move away from "good food/bad food" diets? For one, nutrition science is continually evolving and we are learning from our mistakes. Back in the 1980s, for instance, the guidelines told us to cut back on "bad fats" to lower our risk of heart disease – the No. 1 cause of death for Americans. But people who followed that recommendation filled the void on their plates with simple carbohydrates, such as pasta, bagels and fat-free cookies. In time, we learned those foods weren't any better for our hearts (or waistlines) than the high-fat fare they replaced. So in 2000, we tried again. The guidelines issued that year redeemed fats – as long as they were "good fats." This recommendation was based on newer research linking populations that regularly ate olive oil, avocados and almonds with a lower incidence of heart disease. We followed suit, dipping our bread in olive oil, adding sliced avocado to our burgers and making almonds our go-to snack. But so far, the only thing that has improved is sales of those foods. Our single-minded pursuit of the perfect food (or fat) to fight heart disease has kept us from seeing everything else that contributes to its lower rates in people with different dietary patterns. Now, after spending more than two decades rationing just three eggs into our weekly menus, we're being told cholesterol isn't as bad for us as we once thought. Does that mean it's time to order the broiled lobster tail with drawn butter to celebrate? Not so fast. What it means is precisely what the latest Dietary Guidelines concluded: When it comes to diet, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Put another way, when you eat foods together, their health benefits are greater than a single food could produce on its own. For example, eating eggs every day can lower your risk of heart disease if you are also eating plenty of vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, whole grains, fish and olive oil. On the other hand, eating eggs every day along with regular servings of fatty meats, refined grains and excess sodium from highly-processed foods can increase that risk. That's because the connection to heart disease isn't just about the eggs – it's also about everything else we consume with them. Another advantage of adopting a healthy dietary pattern is that the benefits are cumulative, like compounded interest. So, people who have been eating a Mediterranean-style pattern all their lives, for instance, get an immediate return on investment by meeting their nutritional needs early in life to support optimal growth and development. Later, they receive a long-term dividend by preventing, or greatly reducing, their risk of suffering from the noncommunicable diseases of adulthood, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, macular degeneration and the ubiquitous heart disease. But this payoff requires making consistent contributions to your healthy eating plan, just like building retirement wealth depends on making consistent contributions to your 401K. Both are more effective the sooner you get started. Choosing a healthy dietary pattern over a diet also leaves more room for the occasional holiday food exemption. (Sorry, but weekends don't count as "occasional.") That approach is different from the can-eat-can't-eat diet style, in which we're open to every loophole that might give us a free pass. Have you ever rushed off to work without eating breakfast so you feel entitled to partake in the office pastries? How about arriving home from work too tired to chop vegetables, so you eat pizza (without a salad) for dinner? What about the Sunday you finally get the whole family together for brunch and end up eating eggs benedict and a Belgian waffle to celebrate? You get the picture: Food choices can change with the seasons, but a dietary pattern remains the same. Convinced yet? If so, the highly-regarded Mediterranean and DASH plans are a great place to start. Those patterns offer the best of what is known about the food-health connection when put together right, so you won't have to upgrade to something new in another five years. You also won't have to worry about getting caught up in the next fad diet that promises to solve all your health and weight issues because history has shown us they don't work in the long term. Think gluten-free, low-glycemic index, high-protein, low-carb, antioxidant-rich, paleo and probiotic diets, to name a few. It's time to move on something more sustainable. You can start transitioning to a healthier pattern by following some of these simple tips. The goal is to make the right choice a habit so it becomes your default option. Eat at least one piece of whole fruit daily. Order “whole wheat” as your bread choice for sandwiches, toast and pizza crust. Choose fish over meat or poultry for an entree at least once a week. Drink one full glass of water with each meal. Add a layer of fresh or grilled vegetables to every sandwich. Use nuts or seeds instead of croutons on salad. Make chili with more beans and less (or no) meat. Have brown rice with all Chinese takeout. Include some vegetables whenever you grill. Use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream in cooking and baking. Make your meat portions no larger than the palm of your hand. Choose vegetables to top pizza, fill an omelet, stuff a potato or stretch a soup. Keep hummus, salsa and sliced vegetables on hand as your go-to snack. Be more inclusive of fruits and vegetables by including fresh, frozen, canned and dried varieties in your repertoire. Copyright 2016 U.S. News & World Report