Being Overweight may not be as Harmful to Your Health as Previously Thought

Obesity has long been associated with heart disease and scores of other health maladies. However, a study is beginning to challenge this idea. A researcher has discovered that people of normal weight who develop type 2 diabetes are in fact twice as more likely to die from the disease than diabetics who are overweight.

The study
was done by Mercedes Carnethon who does research for diabetes at Feinberg School of Medicine. Her discovery is being called the obesity paradox. In further twists, multiple studies have shown that those who develop chronic diseases who are also overweight or obese tend to live longer than those who are within their recommended weight range. Separate studies have shown similar results for patients with dialysis and coronary disease; those who were overweight fared better and had an overall lower mortality rate than their normal weight counterparts.

Researchers are scrambling to find an explanation. One theory is that once a disease develops, the body will begin to use more energy and calorie reserves, which overweight people have more of stored in their body. Once those reserves are expended, the person will become malnourished.

Other researchers suspect genetics as the culprit. It is believed that thin people who develop health problems have gene variants that make them more vulnerable to the harmful effects of the illness.

Another study in 2005 showed that those who face the biggest risk of premature death were from the extreme ends of the weight spectrum: those who were either extremely obese or underweight. Those in the overweight category, however, had the lowest mortality rate of all, while those in the moderately obese category were no more at risk than those in the normal weight category.

The findings are truly puzzling and may completely change the way we think about weight and its association with disease and early death. Perhaps having those love handles may not be as bad after all.

Coconut Water may not be Worth the Hype as Previously Thought

Every now and then, a certain type of food makes headlines after research suggests that it is rich in antioxidants and contains nutrients that can fight off disease and premature aging. Some of these foods include pink salmon, wild berries, dark chocolate and flax seeds. For the most part, most of these foods are well deserving of its reputation. However, once in a while, some foods and supplements also make it on the list that could probably benefit from a little more research before it earns a spot among the list of wonder foods.

Coconut water is one beverage that is being touted for its health benefits though some experts are beginning to suspect that most of the claims by manufacturers are mostly fluff and hype. Most brands of coconut water are derived from the liquid in ripe green coconuts. To enhance the flavor, sugar and additional ingredients have been added in some brands.

Coconuts contain a high amount of potassium, so coconut water found on store shelves do actually contain some nutritional benefits. The problem is whether the benefits warrant the high cost. A 14 ounce bottle of the beverage from a popular brand can run as high as $3.50. You have to wonder whether such a beverage is worth that price when other foods like bananas and potatoes contain just as much potassium and are also much cheaper.

At an annual meeting held by the American Chemical Society, researchers submitted findings that showed that coconuts also contain electrolytes, which makes it a useful pre and post workout beverage. It is also a low glycemic food, which means it will not cause your blood sugar to spike.

Coconut is a legitimate health food; as long as you choose a brand of coconut water that is sugar-free and have no issue with the high price tag, then it is something that you can definitely benefit from. Just keep in mind that the nutritional content found in coconuts can also be easily found in most other foods at a much lower cost.

Study Shows that Organic Foods are No More Nutritious than Non-Organic Foods

Organic food has often been touted as being superior to conventional foods, which have been extensively modified through the spray of pesticides and being genetically modified in laboratories. Despite costing more, more people are beginning to spend more on organic produce, dairy and meat for their perceived superior health benefits. However, those perceptions are now being challenged after a study concluded that organic food is no more nutritious than normal foods.

The study was conducted at Stanford University where the nutritional content of organic fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat and nuts were tested and compared with their conventional counterparts. The results showed that in terms of nutritional content, the organic foods were no better than the normal ones.

Does this mean that consumers are throwing their money away by buying organic? Not quite; while organic and conventional foods may be equal in terms of vitamins and nutrition, organic options are free of fertilizers and synthetic pesticides as well as artificial hormones and antibiotics. Organic farms are also required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow their livestock to graze freely in pastures instead of keeping them cooped up in cramped cages and stables.

The study did, however, conclude that most organic foods do have a slightly higher concentration of phosphorus. Organic chicken and milk also had slightly higher amounts of omega 3 fatty acids. Furthermore, conventional produce and fruits did show higher traces of residue from pesticides. In addition, organic meat and poultry were less likely to contain traces of bacteria that were resistant to antibiotics.

The verdict is still out there on the validity of organic foods and whether it is really worth the extra cost. That is something the consumers have to decide for themselves. The study, however, does give shoppers something to think about when they make their next trip to the grocery store.

Eating Eggs as Bad for Your Health as Smoking?

Whether you enjoy them scrambled, hard boiled or sunny side up, eggs are enjoyed by people all over the world. In addition, they are also a good protein source for vegetarians. Eggs are normally vilified for its high cholesterol content though there is some debate whether the cholesterol in eggs really contributes to bad cholesterol in your body. The health implications of eating eggs are being questioned once again as a new study suggests that too much eggs for breakfast can actually be as detrimental to your health as smoking.

The study consisted of over 1,200 participants who were questioned about the amount of eggs they consumed per week. On Average, those who ate two or more showed slightly higher levels of plaque building up around their arteries, a problem that is exhibited by those who regularly light up. Through this study, some would conclude that egg consumption contributes to the hardening of the arteries.

Does this mean eggs should be eliminated from your diet? Not necessarily, according to Alan Aragon, M.S., a nutrition consultant for Men’s Health magazine. He cites that previous research have showed no correlation between egg consumption and heart disease. Aragon also points out that the study was an observational one, which shows that while egg yolk may have some sort of association with plaque formation, it does not mean that they cause plaque in the arteries.

This is sure to be a sigh of relief for egg lovers. In fact, if you love eggs, then you may also be pleased to learn that other studies have shown that eggs may actually contribute to the increase of HDL, which is often referred to as the “good” cholesterol in your body. If you normally crack an egg into the frying pan every morning, then it looks like there is no need for you to stop.

Lance Armstrong Relinquishes Titles Amid Doping Allegations

It has happened so often that every time an athlete blows away the competition, you just can’t help but wonder whether he or she resorted to any form of illegal substance to gain an unfair advantage. Doping allegations have plagued so many star athletes that it is hardly ever a surprise anymore. It certainly wasn’t much of a surprise when Lance Armstrong was hit with the allegations.

After extensive investigations by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and Armstrong fervently maintaining his innocence, the Tour de France bicyclist has finally relented and announced that he will no longer be fighting the allegations.

By giving up the legal battle, Armstrong will be required to relinquish his Tour de France titles, all seven of them. He will also have to give up his bronze medal, which he earned at the 2000 Olympics. On top of that, he will be banned from competition for life.

Armstrong took home seven Tour de France titles, which he won from 1999 to 2005. However, his victories came under heavy scrutiny after fellow cyclists spread stories of doping and steroid use of which they claim Armstrong was a part of. One of his accusers was none other than one of his former teammates, Floyd Landis, who was himself stripped of a title.

Armstrong continues to maintain his innocence and says that he is giving up on the case because of the toll it has taken on his family and on his work for the cancer foundation he is running. He also took a swipe at the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and slammed it for not taking into consideration the many drug tests he submitted and passed with flying colors.

Armstrong was not only a celebrated athlete, but also an inspirational hero to some. He emerged as a champion cyclist despite battling life threatening cancer. His inspirational life story will now be forever marred by the allegations of doping.

Olympic Shot Putter Stripped of Gold Medal in Light of Positive Drug Test

There is a reason anabolic steroids are banned in the Olympic games as well as in all other areas of professional sports. Steroids give the athlete an unfair advantage over other players who are trying to compete completely based on their own natural ability. Furthermore, steroids, if used too often, can have dangerous side effects and cause irreversible damage to the organs.

Just hours after the 2012 Olympics came to a close in London, the International Olympic Committee has already taken measures to weed out the athletes who have tested positive for illegal substances found in their bloodstream.

Nadzeya Ostapchuck, a female shot putter from Belarus, was one of the first to be tested with the results returning positive. Ostapchuck put on an impressive performance at the games and took home the gold medal. However, the revelation of her doping will cost her dearly. The IOC has already announced that Ostapchuck will be stripped of her medal. This means that Valerie Adams of New Zealand now be the official gold medalist winner.

Being stripped of her gold medal is only one of Ostapchuck’s many concerns. The IOC Disciplinary Commission has also decided to revoke her accreditation card and Olympic identity. She will also be required to return her diploma and medalist pin. This is all only the tip of the iceberg; in the coming days, Ostapchuck may face further sanctions.

For Ostapchuck, this was her third Olympic appearance. She came in fourth in 2004 and took the bronze at the Beijing games in 2008. With her testing positive, it may not be such a surprise if she does not return for a fourth time for the games in Rio De Janeiro in 2016.

The IOC is sending a clear message to all the athletes; even though the drug tests may take weeks, anyone using any form of banned substances will be caught and exposed as a cheater.

Telling Lies can be Detrimental to Your Health

It has been drilled into our heads over and over that for optimal health, you should exercise daily and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. A new research now suggests that you can improve your health even further by telling less lies.

Whether it is a big lie or a little white lie, everyone lies from time to time. However, the accumulation of all those lies may have a negative impact on your health, a study finds.

The research was done at Notre Dame University and consisted of 110 participants, half of which were instructed to refrain from lying as much as possible for a period of 10 weeks. The other half were given no such instruction. The findings showed that the no-lie group exhibited fewer instances of anxiety, tension, sore throats and headaches.

Previous research shows that people on average tell about 11 lies per week. This can range from little white lies and minor embellishments to much more serious lies like filing a false complaint or infidelity.

What’s more, the Notre Dame study also showed that those who lied less also reported an improvement in their personal relationships with their spouse, children, friends and coworkers.

All the participants were between the ages of 18 and 71 and were from various ethnicities and income levels. At the end of each week, each subject would report the number of lies they told and the severity of each one. Those in the no-lie group also reported having to devise clever ways to get around lying, such as avoiding questions or answering a question with a question of their own.

There appears to be a lot of internal guilt associated with lying, which can eat you up inside. While no one is expected to be truthful 100 percent of the time, it appears that being honest as much as possible can lead to a more stress-free life.

Study Shows That Nearly Every Health and Fitness Product is Overhyped

The fitness industry releases new products every year. This includes workout apparel, supplements and exercise equipment designed to increase the output of your performance during high intensity workouts. Manufacturers have spent millions of dollars on these products and even backed them up with “scientific research.” However, a recent study reveals that nearly all these items do not live up to their claim when placed under unbiased studies.

The research was headed by Dr. Mathew Thompson, a clinical scientist from the University of Oxford. Thompson examined the claims made by companies that produced fitness products, such as sports drinks, running shoes and exercise clothing. This included websites that advertised such products with claims of improved performance and speedier recovery.

In all, 615 products found in health and fitness magazines were studied. 54 of these claimed that the product could enhance performance output, though only three of them backed it up with reference to scientific research. Even then, most of the research provided was done on laboratory mice and not on human test subjects.

Thompson contacted 42 of the companies that did not contain references for their products. 27 of them replied but only nine of them provided sources to additional material to back up their claims.

What’s more, the ones that had scientific research either funded the study themselves or were conducted by their own team of researchers, which greatly increases the chance of researcher bias. Coca-Cola, for example, also created Powerade and provided the grant necessary for the research in order to support claims that the sports drink can boost the performance of endurance athletes.

What this study appears to show is that all you really need is the common sense to exercise and eat a well-balanced diet if you want to stay fit and healthy. No overpriced sports drink or piece of equipment can do the job for you.

USDA Retracts its Support for Meatless Mondays

Some advocates are lobbying for the country to embrace meatless Mondays. This is an initiative for people to eliminate meat from their diets one day out of the week. With this policy, participating schools and restaurants will remove all meat from its lunches and menus on Mondays. Advocates say this will help the environment tremendously, as the production of meat, especially cattle, creates waste water, fossil fuel and fertilizer, all of which can ultimately have an effect on climate change.

The policy initially received support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but the USDA quickly did a 180 and retracted the support after receiving harsh criticism from cattle farmers who say that such a policy could hurt their livelihood. The USDA has now tweeted that it no longer supports meatless Mondays.

Peggy Nue, who runs Monday Campaigns, an organization that supports Meatless Mondays, says that giving up meat just one day a week can greatly reduce one’s overall intake of saturated fats, which can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. She added that this would also cut down on the production of meat, which can be beneficial for the environment. Cattle and other livestock produce manure that contains methane gas, which emits greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.

Cattle ranchers and republican lawmakers are intervening to put a halt to Meatless Mondays, citing that the production of cattle is vital for most businesses that are involved in meat export and trade. The American Meat Institute has also stepped in and said that the daily consumption of meat by the average American is within recommended dietary guidelines.

Meatless Mondays is turning out to be a complex issue; while people want to help out the environment and improve their health while at it, they also need to be careful about the businesses that could be hurt by their decisions.

Almonds a Healthy Substitute for Weight Loss

When people go on a diet, not only do they need to cut down on the total amount of calories they consume daily, but they also have to be more selective with the type of calories they eat. This means substituting potato chips, cookies and soda for healthier options.

There are plenty of healthy snacks that are just as tasty. Nuts, and particularly almonds, for example, are one such type of snack. A new study was conducted that consisted of 123 obese adults who followed a specific calorie-controlled diet for 18 months.

While all the subjects were given the same amount of total calories, half of them were given two 28-gram packages of almonds to consume every day. The other half were told to avoid any type of nuts completely.

About six months into the study, the group that consumed the nuts had a higher average weight loss than the group that refrained from them. The group that ate the almonds also showed a higher drop in cholesterol levels. After 18 months, the cholesterol levels from both groups have risen though the group that consumed the almonds still showed a slight lower average.

The results seem to indicate that almonds, when eaten in moderation, can be useful for weight loss and have additional benefits as well. Past studies do indicate that nuts play a role in lowering cholesterol and triglycerides, a type of fat that forms in the blood.

Nuts have traditionally been vilified due to its high fat content. However, most health experts believe that nuts can be beneficial for a dieter because of their rich levels of vitamin E, potassium, magnesium and fiber. Researchers also believe that nuts can help fight off cravings due to its crunchy texture and taste. The take-home message here is not to eat all the almonds you want, but that they can be incorporated into any diet plan for healthy weight loss.