Posts Tagged ‘lifestyle changes’

Just Eating Healthier Trims Diabetes Risk

Improve your overall diet quality and you will lower your risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, independent of adopting other healthful behaviors, including increased physical activity and body weight loss, according to the results of a new study.

In an analysis of 3 large cohort studies of men and women by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, those who improved their diet quality index scores by 10 percent over 4 years reduced their risk for type 2 diabetes by about 20% compared to those who made no changes to their diets.

“We found that diet was indeed associated with diabetes independent of weight loss and increased physical activity,” said lead author Sylvia Ley, PhD, RD, a post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, at the American Diabetes Association’s 74th Scientific Sessions®.

“If you improve other lifestyle factors you reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes even more, but improving diet quality alone has significant benefits.”

She noted that it is often difficult for people to maintain a calorie-restricted diet for a long time.

“We want them to know that if they can improve the overall quality of what they eat – consume less red meat and sugar-sweetened beverages, and more fruits, vegetables and whole grains – they are going to improve their health and reduce their risk for diabetes,” Dr Ley said.

Lifestyle changes, including individually tailored, macronutrient composition focused, calorie-restricted interventions, can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes among those at high risk, according to randomized controlled trials.

However, it is unclear whether improving overall diet quality by itself is associated with reduced risk of diabetes among healthy adults.


Dr. Ley and colleagues investigated the association between diet quality changes during a 4-year period and subsequent 4-year type 2 diabetes risk, and simultaneous changes in multiple lifestyle factors on that risk (Abstract 74-OR).

They prospectively followed more than 148,000 participants without diabetes at baseline in the Nurses’ Health Study (1986-2006), Nurses’ Health Study II (1991-2011), and Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2010).

The Alternative Healthy Eating Index score was used to assess diet quality.

Associations between changes in diet quality, physical activity, and body weight and diabetes risk were evaluated simultaneously.

The researchers documented more than 9,000 incident cases of type 2 diabetes during the more than 2.3 million person-year follow-up.

Greater than 10% decrease in diet quality scores over 4 years was associated with higher subsequent diabetes risk with multiple adjustments, while at least 10% improvement in dietary scores was associated with lower risk, Dr Ley said during her presentation at the ADA meeting.

When simultaneous relationships among 4-year changes in diet quality, physical activity, and body weight were assessed, improvement in each behavioral factor was independently associated with lower incident diabetes.

“Regardless of where participants started, improving diet quality was beneficial for all,” she noted.

10 Steps to Treating and Preventing Prostate Disease

If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer or benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), you may have more options than you think.

In addition to traditional pharmaceutical drugs, surgery, and radiation therapy there are a number of dietary and lifestyle changes you can make, says Aaron Katz, MD, Vice-Chairman of Urology and Director of the Center of Holistic Urology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.

Dr. Katz is the author of Dr. Katz’ Guide to Prostate Health: From Conventional to Holistic Therapies.

In the May issue of American Legion magazine, I provide Dr. Katz’s 10 dietary strategies and lifestyle choices for treating and preventing prostate disease.

Dietary Strategies

1. Cut the fat.

Studies suggest that dietary fat intake and prostate cancer incidence are intimately related.

Eat a diet composed of less than 30% fat and favor unsaturated fats such as olive and canola oils over saturated and trans fats.

2. Improve your omega-6/omega-3 ratio.

Omega-3 fats (found in fatty deep-water fish and flax seeds) appear to protect the prostate, while omega-6 fats (found in vegetable oils) may have a disease-promoting effect.

Eat lots of salmon, sardines, cod, and ground flax seeds, and avoid foods made with vegetables oils like corn and soy.

3. Go organic.

Your best chance of avoiding contaminants in your food is to eat a largely organic and vegetarian diet.

Organic foods are raised, grown, and produced without the use of chemical pesticides, hormones, or drugs.

4. Fill up on fiber.

Research shows an inverse relationship between prostate cancer incidence and intake of dietary fiber.

Up your fiber intake by eating one big green salad every day, breakfasting on a bowl of steel-cut or slow-cooked oats, and switching from refined to whole grains.

5. Eat your antioxidants.

Free radical damage to DNA has been linked to many cancers, including prostate cancer.

Eat lots of foods rich in antioxidants – which protect cells against free radicals — such as leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and deeply colored fruits, especially berries.

Lifestyle Choices

1. Reduce your stress.

Stress amplifies the production of free radicals, hampers the function of the immune system, and has been linked with premature aging.

Try stress reduction techniques such as progressive relaxation, deep breathing, visualization, or meditation.

2. Laugh.

Researchers at UCLA are currently studying the ability of humor to blunt stress-induced physiological changes.

Laughter also releases the body’s natural opiates into the bloodstream, dulling pain and improving mood.

So head to the video store and pick out some funny movies.

3. Exercise regularly.

Moderate exercise increases the body’s production of antioxidant substances and mildly boosts immune function.

Try to fit in three or more workouts per week.

Men undergoing treatment for cancer or BPH may be better off sticking with very gentle exercise like yoga, tai chi, or chi kung.

4. Detoxify your home.

Trade out your conventional cleaning products for non-toxic alternatives, your garden pesticides for pest-eating bugs, and your synthetic carpets for natural ones like wool.

5. Design your space.

When colors, light, decoration, sounds, objects, and overall design are pleasing to our senses, it’s much easier to relax and enjoy yourself.

Feng shui is an effective tool for making your surroundings less stressful and more health-promoting.

Make Lifestyles Changes That Last with a Wellness Coach

A new breed of health professional – wellness coaches – appeared on the healthcare scene about a decade ago.

Thousands of wellness coaches now serve as partners with their clients to elicit agendas and co-discover solutions.

The clients of wellness coaches learn how to lose weight, exercise more, and change their lifestyles with lasting results.

Wellness coaches differ from life coaches, personal trainers, or therapists because they use science-based techniques to enhance motivation, self-confidence, and self-regulation, says Margaret Moore, founder and CEO of Wellcoaches Corporation.

“Studies show wellness coaches help instill long-lasting habits that, over time, become part of the brain’s hardwiring,” says Moore, who is also co-director of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and a founding advisor of the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

With more than a dozen years’ worth of wellness coaching experience, Moore has guided thousands of coaches and hundreds of clients to make the changes toward leading healthier lives.

On a CBS TV broadcast last week, Moore said “the coach is really trained to help you take a bigger picture of you, over all aspects of your health and wellness and then come up with a formula that combines all of these things together.”

And “the coaching world has come up with skills to help people make changes that last,” she said.

The TV report noted that the National Consortium for Credentialing of Health & Wellness Coaches is currently working to develop a national certification for wellness coaches.

In collaboration with the American College of Sports Medicine, Wellcoaches is helping to lead this initiative.

Gastric Bypass Helps the Whole Family Lose Weight

One of the biggest risks for becoming an obese child is having an obese parent.

But what happens if an obese parent makes the changes necessary to lose weight?

What if that includes undergoing gastric bypass surgery?

A new study shows that the obesity rate in children of mothers who have had Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is 52% lower after surgery compared with the obesity rate in children born to the same mothers before surgery.

“If one member of the family makes drastic lifestyle changes following surgery, it is possible that other family members will adopt similar healthy habits,” writes Gavitt A. Woodard, MD and colleagues from Stanford University School of Medicine in the October issue of Archives of Surgery.

The Stanford doctors observed the weight and lifestyle changes of 35 patients who had gastric bypass surgery as well as 35 adult family members and 15 children under age 18.

As expected, one year following surgery the patients undergoing gastric bypass surgery lost a typical amount of weight, the doctors say.

What’s more, all adult family members dropped an average of 22 pounds, from 220 to 198 pounds.

And obese children had a lower body mass index than was expected for their growth curve at the one-year follow-up.

How did the family members lose weight?

A year following surgery, both patients and adult family members made significant changes in their eating habits.

The gastric bypass patients also significantly increasing cognitive control of eating while decreasing uncontrolled and emotional eating.

Adult family members significantly decreased uncontrolled eating and emotional eating.

Additionally, children of the surgery patients were twice as likely to report being on a diet to lose weight one year post-surgery.

Children also benefited from fewer daily hours of television watching and increased hours of physical activity after a parent underwent gastric bypass surgery.

“Obesity is a family health concern,” say the Stanford doctors.

“This study demonstrates that performing a gastric bypass operation on one patient has a halo of positive effect on the weight, eating habits, activity level, and health behaviors of the entire family.”

In addition to purchasing food for the family, parents serve as role models for healthy behavior.

Parents who examine their own habits and make healthy changes, even ones as drastic as gastric bypass surgery, can play a significant role in the battle against childhood obesity.