How to Sneak Clean Eating Into Your Diet

green vegetables

Written by culinary nutritionist Stefanie Sacks, MS, CNS, CDN

A devout clean eater for 30 years, I chose this path to help resolve illness as a kid—terrible allergies, asthma, recurring bronchitis and pneumonia. After removing everything chemical from my diet including preservatives, artificial color, flavor enhancers like monosodium glutamate, artificial sweeteners, trans fats and even too much sugar, I felt that my health began to improve. Inspired by “Food and Healing” by Annemarie Colbin, PhD, I opted for a diet of whole fresh foods from fruits and vegetables, to grains, legumes, nuts and seeds as well as thoughtful animal foods and healthy fat. Once I made the switch, I knew I’d found my passion for food and the impact it had on health.

So I encourage all of you to opt for clean eating, understanding that even small changes in your diet can make big everyday differences. Here are several steps that you can take to make health your bottom line. Commit to change and start to get an edible education. Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: Emulsifiers, Sleep and Eyelashes

Common food ingredient could be contributing to chronic diseases. Emulsifiers are found in many of the processed foods we eat. They act as a kind of bridge between fats and water-based components to keep them from separating out the way oil separates in salad dressing. But new research has found that these chemicals may be having a serious effect on your health. “Researchers fed mice emulsifiers through water or food. The experiment used polysorbate 80 (common in ice cream) and carboxymethylcellulose, and found that it altered microbiota in a way that caused chronic inflammation. They tested the emulsifiers at levels below those approved for use in food and also at levels modeled to mirror what a person would eat if they eat a lot of processed food. Mice with abnormal immune systems fed emulsifiers developed chronic colitis. Those with normal immune systems developed mild intestinal inflammation and a metabolic disorder that caused them to eat more, and become obese, hyperglycemic, and insulin resistant. The inflammatory response prompted by eating emulsifiers appears to interfere with ‘satiety’–the term scientists use for behaving like you’ve eaten enough–and can lead to overeating. Mice experiencing this inflammation therefore developed more fat.” The findings may help explain some of the rise in these diseases in recent decades. (TIME)

Getting too much sleep could raise your stroke risk. While most recent research has focused on the negative consequences of not getting enough sleep, new research is finding that getting too much may also reflect poor health. “Adults who sleep more than eight hours a night may face a higher risk of stroke. These so-called ‘long sleepers’ were 46 percent more likely to have a stroke than those who got only six to eight hours of sleep a night. However, the researchers don’t know if the long sleep is a cause, consequence or early warning sign of declining brain health. After reviewing previous research on the possible link between sleep and stroke risk, they said they only found an association that they can’t explain.” The team emphasizes that those getting more than 8 hours shouldn’t cut their sleep short. “The researchers suspect long sleeping time is a warning signal and emphasize that the change in sleeping patterns is more the concern. Long sleepers would be wise to monitor their lifestyle, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Adults over the age of 60 or 65 who notice they are sleeping more should make sure their cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol are under control.” (CBS)

Optimum eyelash length determined by researchers. Most women strive to make their eyelashes appear longer, but researchers say the current length has been carefully determined by evolution to maximize eye health. “After measuring the dimensions of nearly two dozen mammal eyes, performing a series of wind tunnel experiments and engaging in some complex fluid dynamic modeling, researchers determined that most mammal eyelashes are one-third the length of their eyes–just the right length to minimize the flow of air over the eyeball. This reduction of airflow is important because less moving air across the eye keeps evaporation at bay and stops irritating dust from getting deposited on the eye surface. Other experiments revealed that thick eyelashes are more effective at blocking airflow from moving across the eye, but they also limit access to light. This may explain why animals like giraffes and kangaroos that live in bright dusty environments have several rows of eyelashes while other mammals do not.” Interestingly, experiments found that the curviness of lashes didn’t affect their function. (LA Times)

Younger Women Often Discount Heart Attack Symptoms

If you were asked to describe a “typical” heart attack, you might describe an older man with his hand on his chest in severe pain. This image, seen so frequently on television and in movies, has become ingrained in the minds of many Americans who often use this idea to decide if their own symptoms indicate a heart attack. The use of this heart attack stereotype may explain the findings of a new study published this week that found that younger women who have a heart attack often discount their symptoms and wait for longer than they should to get help. Read more  »

How to Make Fitness a Family Affair

family-exercising

Making fitness a priority can be tough. We are all overscheduled, overworked and overwhelmed and have many things vying for our attention. It is hard enough for an individual to get into the habit of regular exercise. Coordinating fitness for the entire family might sounds daunting and impossible at first thought. But what if getting the crew together to workout was easier than going it alone? Research shows that it can be! Here’s why: Read more  »

Why Eating Disorders Are Concerning No Matter Who You Are

woman-on-scaleOver the years that I’ve been doing the show, I’ve had a number of guests who have come to bravely share their struggles with eating disorders. I’ve always been struck by how consuming and devastating these illnesses are. Those who suffer from them often struggle with them for decades and, in tragic cases, may die from the illness.

This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week and I wanted to take some time to talk about eating disorders. I think addressing the topic is important not just because these illnesses are so damaging, but also because many people have a distorted sense of who is at risk for developing an eating disorder. Read more  »

Memory and Its Relationship to Sleep

woman-sleeping

We’ve all had the experience of having our memory fail us, whether it’s forgetting a name, struggling to remember what you did the day before, or wandering in search of a pair of keys. Before you ascribe that fuzzy memory to a “senior moment” or to the frenetic pace of daily life, try putting your head to the pillow for a good night’s rest. Sleep–how much you get and how well you sleep–can have a powerful effect on your memory. Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: Late Night Eating, Googling and Anger

Eating when you should be sleeping may affect your brain. After a long day of work or a late night out, you might find yourself reaching for snacks when you should be hitting the sack. New research has found this sort of eating may disrupt learning and memory if it happens often enough. “In the experiment, the researchers allowed one group of mice to eat when they normally would, while mice in a second group could only munch during their normal sleep time. All of the rodents ate the same amount of food and slept the same amount of hours. After a few weeks of this, the mice were given learning tests. It turned out the mice that ate when they should have been sleeping were severely compromised in their ability to remember what they learned. They also had more trouble recognizing a new object and showed changes in their hippocampus, a brain region involved in learning and memory.” The researchers say an occasional slip up probably isn’t a big deal. But their findings add to a growing body of evidence that chronically working nights can have serious health effects. (NBC)

Googling your hospital may give you skewed information. When deciding where to get a certain procedure done, the first place you probably turn is Google. But new research has found that searching for this sort of information online can be misleading. “Researchers took a look at a study about online ads for transaortic valve replacement, or TAVR, a minimally invasive procedure for treating the narrowing of the aortic valve that is common in older adults, particularly men. The study reviewed the online advertisements of all 317 U.S. hospitals that offer TAVR and found that all of them cited the benefits of the procedure — but only one-fourth acknowledged that it had any risk. And fewer than 5 percent of the hospitals quantified the risks in a way that would be useful to consumers. Many of the ads, the researchers noted, are very informational — with graphs, diagrams, statistics and physician testimonials — and therefore not identifiable to patients as promotional material.” The problem with this sort of information, the researchers point out, is that it looks authentic and professional but only really tells a story aimed at selling a product. “Although consumers who are bombarded by television commercials may be aware that they are viewing an advertisement, hospital websites often have the appearance of being an education portal [when, in fact, they are advertisements].” (Washington Post)

Getting angry or anxious can up your heart attack risk. Clenching your fists when your blood is boiling may seem like a good way to let off steam, but researchers have found that getting that angry could have some serious side effects.  “Researchers in Australia found that people’s risk of having a heart attack is 8.5 times higher during the two hours following an episode of intense anger, compared with when people feel less angry. Anxiety is even more threatening, the researchers found. People’s heart attack risk is 9.5 times higher during the two hours following elevated levels of anxiety (higher than the 90th percentile on an anxiety scale) than during times of lower anxiety levels, according to the study.” The study adds to evidence that your emotions can affect physiologic functions in your body, like what your heart is doing. “It’s likely that the increased risk of a heart attack following intense anger and anxiety is the result of increased heart rate and blood pressure, tightening of blood vessels, and increased clotting, all associated with triggering of heart attacks. But both anger and anxiety can be managed with treatment.” The researchers point out that the risk of having a heart attack is still small, but learning to handle your emotions may benefit your heart in the long run. (Fox)

How Your Brain Waves Help You Learn

EEG apparatusThe brain is a complex information-processing computer that uses a combination of chemical and electrical signals to send and receive information. Neuroscientists and physicians have long observed that you can see some of that electrical activity as waves when you put electrodes on a person’s scalp. For years scientists thought these waves were just a side effect of the brain’s activity. But new research has found that these waves are probably playing a key role in learning. Read more  »

Sharecare Top 5: Stress-Relieving Tricks, Expert Heart Health Tips and Your Own Measles Vaccination Cheat Sheet

A doctor with stethoscope examining red heart

This week on Sharecare we’re sharing advice from top cardiologists, giving you tension-soothing tips and helping you stay safe against the measles.

1. Life’s ups and downs don’t have to take a long-term health toll. Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Mike Roizen offer these strategies to manage your stress.

2. Not sure if you’ve received the measles vaccine? Learn what you can do to make sure you’re protected from this recent outbreak.

3. Get the 411 on what Sharecare’s best heart doctors recommend to keep your ticker in tip-top shape.

4. Need to tame your appetite? Watch this video to find out the three liquids that may help suppress your hunger.

5. If you’re struggling with a low libido, you owe it to yourself — and your partner — to find out why. Discover smart ways to open up about sexual issues with your loved one.