Category Archives: Weight Control

Lifestyle Interventions in the Midst of Three Health Crises

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas Healthy Lifestyle in Right direction_CPD-Clipart combo

As a nation, we are facing three health crises: (1) Chronic diseases, (2) Obesity, and (3) Opioid epidemic.

The facts and figures below tell a sad story.

Impact of three health crises in the U.S. (estimated in 2016)

 

 

Morbidity

 

Mortality

% of All Death

Chronic diseases 25% of adults had two/more chronic health conditions. 595,690 deaths (cancer);  610,000~ deaths (heart disease) 48%
Obesity epidemic 36.5% of adults were obese; 35.6%, overweight. 300,000+ deaths (obesity attributable) 18%
Opioid overdose   59,000 – 60,000 deaths  

*Data compiled from CDC, NIH and other health institutes.

Chronic diseases not only affect health and quality of life, they also add economical and social burdens. Specifically, about 86 percent of all health care spending goes towards treating individuals with one or more chronic conditions.

On the bright side, just eliminating three risk factors – poor diet, inactivity, and smoking – would prevent: 80% of heart disease and stroke, 80% of type 2 diabetes, and 40% of cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It’s clear that poor lifestyle choices are key contributors in developing preventable chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, several types of cancer, and obesity. Lifestyle modification or intervention is not something new. However, it’s quite challenging to achieve and sustain success. So, here I will emphasize some key strategies and points you can use to fight these health crises personally.  

1. Keep a healthy diet. Intake a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, fish, beans, whole grains, nuts and other nutrients.

-          Reduce fats, sugar and salt in your diet, which may be packed as hidden ingredients in processed foods.

-          Reduce red meat, animal meats consumption too.

2. Participate in physical activity. Aim for a minimum of 150 minute exercise each week.

A combination of diet and exercise is effective in maintaining healthy weight. Take advantage of summer outdoor activities (e.g. swimming, walking, or playing at beach).

3. Quit or avoid addictive behavior such as tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use.

-          Tobacco smoking takes more than 480,000 lives each year.

-          Rather than seeking substances as a mean for momentary pleasure, living a healthy lifestyle is an excellent regimen for meeting one’s physical, emotional, and social needs.

4. Maintain healthy weight. Weight control is about energy balance, i.e. Energy In = Energy Out. When energy intake exceeds energy expenditure, weight gain occurs.

-          Do eat good breakfast, and consume enough fibers and proteins.

-          Avoid emotional eating.

-          Yes, it’s not easy to make a big change. One step at a time. Don’t go it alone, lock arms for support and motivation.

5. Manage stress. There are many techniques to relieve stress, but the best ones are enjoyable, self-help ways that work for you.

-          Importantly, keep counting your blessings, because gratitude is a secret to happiness.

6. Get a good night’s sleep. Many people overlook this issue.

-          Lack of sleep for a long time may increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

-          Sleep hygiene is essential to getting sound sleep (see previous article)

All of above healthy habits will effectively reduce triglyceride levels, cut blood sugar levels, minimize waist circumference, and lower blood pressure. As a result, most chronic conditions and obesity are preventable, and some can even be reversed.

So, go for a healthy, vibrant lifestyle!

 

Image credits: https://openclipart.org/; CPD

Rethink Powerful Strategies for Cancer Prevention in 2017

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

LoveHope 2017_Std.The holiday season is over and the new year started. Many of you probably have set some exciting goals or resolutions already. In reality, early or later, some folks would probably fall “off the wagon”? How would you do differently?

CancerPreventionDaily has provided plenty of practical advice, resources, and useful links on powerful strategies for cancer prevention over the years. Instead of reiterating those strategies here, I’d like to highlight a tool of “RETHINK”.

First, let’s cherish HOPE by celebrating recent scientific and medical advances in cancer treatment! Cancer Immunotherapy has been put on the spotlight – a therapy based on the principle of unleashing the body’s immune system to attack cancer. In addition, remarkable advances in other therapies (e.g. chemotherapy, targeted therapy, surgery and radiation therapy) all improved clinical outcomes, especially lives of people battling cancers.

Equally significant is advance in cancer prevention, specifically, HPV vaccine. As the human papillomavirus (HPV) is the major cause of cervical cancer – infected by passing the virus during sex, and the disease is preventable.

Now let me dive in a bit deeper on “Rethink”.

Consider Uber or Zipcar. Whether through Uber (providing you with a car and a driver) or Zipcar (providing you with a car), you can reach your desired destinies – a different approach from using traditional or old fashion rental cars. Note: These are good examples of innovation or rethinking, not paid Ads! :)

Next, how to rethink with regard to health?

Take weight loss as an example. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the top powerful strategies for cancer prevention, as scientific evidence clearly indicate that obesity is a risk factor for several types of cancer in both men and women, needless to say risk for diabetes and heart disease.

Many folks are struggling with losing weight for various reasons. If one lesson we can learn from “Santa” to apply here, it is to lighten our load.

So, get motivated, get rid of all unhealthy baggage in all possible ways – dispose of fats, throw away junk foods, abandon extra sugar and extra salt, dispense or burn off some calories, thereby getting rid of “unwanted” pounds, consequently you will reach your goal of weight management. Certainly, you can discover creative ways that work best for you along the journey.

Rethink about cancer and prevention: Instead of fearing “Big C”, treat it as a life or health project with “small pieces”. This is because cancer is the mass (of tissues) on the surface but a collection of complex and multiple diseases in the hub, therefore, you need to tackle it with multiple approaches from genetic medicine, lifestyle to environment and early detection.

So, you got the idea.

In summary –

Rethink, Re-envision, Re-tweet, Re-evaluate and/or Re-calibrate, whatever works for you, so that you gain new perspectives and new approaches, which will help your new year’s resolutions stick, and reap your health benefits in the long run.

May more happiness and better health be all of yours throughout the year 2017!

 

Image credit: mozakdesign.com and CancerPreventionDaily

How to Consume Enough Daily Fiber for Cancer Prevention

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Imagine a fiber’s tale. “I am a fiber, and my nickname is “Tough Carb”. Together with my sibling soluble and insoluble kinds, I am largely wrapped up in foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Passing through your body, I bind with fats, help nutrients get better absorbed, move the bulk through the intestines, and promote a faster traffic to eliminate the waste your body doesn’t want. At the end, I still survive – remaining unbroken.”

What a fabulous job done by a “personal healthcare agent”! Well, I have more good news for you – Research indicates that a diet high in fiber can lower colon cancer risk. Specifically, every 10 grams of daily fiber intake reduces the risk of colon cancer by 10%.

Now the questions are how much fiber you need each day and how you can meet your goal to prevent colon cancer? Here I offer 5 meal-strategies that can help you effortlessly incorporate fiber into your daily diet and support the healthier, happier colon.

How much fiber do we need?

It is recommended that we eat 25-35 grams (g) of fiber per day. Sounds impossible or difficult? Don’t worry. A rule of thumb is – consume at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables and 3 servings of whole grains each day. This is based on the fact that fiber is abundant in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes.

Fiber-rich breakfast ideasHow do you integrate 25-35 g of fiber into your diet on a daily basis?

Here are 5 meal-strategies to get your 25-35 grams each day with ease:

1. Breakfast: Have oatmeal or high-fiber cereal, fiber-rich breads or English Muffins, and more desirable, add fruits.

Breakfast is the most important meal of a day. However, many people skip it. Think about this. A cup of rolled oats (dry) contains nearly 10 g of fiber, and Quaker Instant Oatmeal (3 g of fiber per pack) is also available in all grocery stores. So, if you have 2 packages of oatmeal (6 g of fiber), a slice of whole wheat bread (5-6 g of fiber per slice; depending on brands), and add some fruits like berries, bananas or raisins to your cereal or oatmeal (extra 1-2 g fiber), you’ve got a nice jumpstart, and it’s not hard. Plus, a bonus gain – fiber can boost your energy for a fantastic day ahead!

Broccoli_10972132. Lunch: Eat plenty of veggies and beans. Use whole wheat or whole grain bread to make your sandwiches. Have an apple as a part of salad or desert. Broccoli, one of anti-cancer foods, holds a good supply of fiber; 4.0 g per ½ cup (raw), 5.0 g in 4 spears (frozen) and 9.3 g per cup (fresh, cooked). Beans and fish (esp. salmon) are also excellent protein sources to replace animal meat.

3. Dinner: Eat whole-wheat pasta, brown rice or potato (with skin), plus a variety of vegetables and olive oil. Add beans to your soup. Do you know cooked black beans contain 19.4 g of fiber per cup? How about whole-wheat pasta with chicken and colorful veggies?

whole-wheat-fig-bar4. Snacks: Take All-bran, Multi-grain crackers or high-fiber bars, fresh or dried fruits, as well as nuts and seeds, when you on the go. Fig is one of the highest fiber sources. Try Nature Bakery’s Whole Wheat Figgy Bars or Whole Wheat Blueberry Figgy Bars, they are individually-wrapped, delicious, and reward you another 2-4 g of fiber (2 g fiber per serving, 2 serving per pack). (But I’m not paid for “Ads”. :) )

5. Drinks: Drink more fruit/Veggie juice (fiber-rich) or soy milk (1-1.5 g of diary fiber in per 8 oz cup). See Martha Stewart’s recipes of making delicious green juice at home, which are affordable too.

Eventually, it’s your choice to include foods you desire. But the key is to eat a lot of fiber-rich foods (i.e. plan-based food).

Some folks consider that healthy foods taste boring, especially those from the grocery stores. I sympathize that, and the fix is – to get fresh fruits and vegetables from your local farmers’ market; those foods are yummy and refreshing!

As a final note, a balanced, fiber-rich diet is not the only tool to prevent colon cancer; exercise should go hand-in-hand with it.

 

Image credit: By aaronsg, quakeroats.com, rachelg, lockstockb, and naturesbakery.com

Seven Simple Steps to Weight Loss

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Obesity represents a pressing public health problem. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the seriousness of the problem. It’s fine for people to feel comfortable with their body. However, it’s dangerous to feel comfortable with obesity since it significantly increases the risk of developing type-2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and several types of cancer, and it also contributes to chronic diseases like dementia. In all of these ways and more, obesity can lead to quality of life being seriously compromised.

Weight control is challenging for some folks, and there is no magic pill or drug therapy that works. And actually, it’s better not to resort to a pharmaceutical solution, because doing so can result in drug dependence with significant adverse side effects. It’s better to manage weight the old-fashioned way, with self-understanding and self-discipline. If controlling weight is a challenge for you, here are seven simple steps to help empower your efforts.

1. Raise you awareness and will power. 
Know that you are not determined by your genes alone. Even if you have a family history of obesity, you have the power to make a healthy change. Obesity is preventable.

2. Identify one or two key factors that cause your weight gain.
Uncontrolled food intake? Sedentary lifestyle? Too much junk in your diet? Busy schedule causing an unbalanced diet and no time for exercise?

3. Know how to measure your results (using a simple equation/formula). 
Weight control is based on energy balance. The simple yet important formula is:

Energy IN = Energy OUT

Which means:
Calories IN (most by food intake) = Calories OUT (most by daily activity or exercise)

This is critical to understand. The average daily energy expenditure for adult men is 2000 to 3000 calories. Therefore, the recommended daily food consumption for men is 2000 to 3000 calories, depending on activity level and base metabolism. Similarly, the average daily energy expenditure for women is 1600 to 2400 calories. So for women, the recommended daily food consumption is 1600 to 2400 calories, depending on energy expenditure and base metabolism. However, most Americans exceed the calorie intake needed to balance their energy expenditure and so live in a state of energy imbalance. This is why about 65% of Americans are overweight or obese.

A common way to measure your results if you are attempting to lose weight is to use pounds lost as a measurement. Remember, to lose one pound, you need an expenditure of approximately 3500 calories more than your food intake. You can achieve this by either decreasing food intake or increasing daily exercises or doing both.

4. Have a lifestyle modification plan in the short term. 
-          Make it personalized. Include a specific daily diet (type and amount of food consumption) and specific physical activity or exercises (routines, time, and duration).
-          Make it measurable, with a specific number of pounds to lose.
-          Make it attainable. Whether it’s losing 5 pounds or 50, make sure it’s doable and within your capabilities.
-          Make it realistic. Can you completely give up your sweets-pleasure? Would it be better just to limit it? Don’t set any unrealistic goals, which will only frustrate and discourage you.
-          Have a timetable, say two or three months. Accomplishing short-term goals is an effective enabler. It will give you satisfaction and the confidence to achieve more.
The bottom line is to have a road map for your healthy-weight journey. And then stick to it.

5. Follow the golden rules.
There are some rules not only effective for weight loss but also beneficial for well-being and longevity. Particularly,
Rule #1 Always eat to a maximum of 70-80% full.
Rule #2 Never eat a big meal one or two hours before your bedtime.

6. Get armed with antioxidants by reinforcing a lifestyle change.  
Recent research shows that oxidative stress plays a role in obesity-related health problems. Obesity is characterized by lowered antioxidant defense and enhanced levels of free radicals. In part, this can be attributed to the fact that obese individuals may have a lower intake of antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods, while also being relatively physically inactive. To boost your antioxidant status, keep moving! In addition, modifying type of food intake is one of the most effective strategies for weight control.

7. Get a helpful hand.
Find a coach or a buddy to work along with you. This might also be a family member or a friend, but it should be someone who can hold you accountable, monitor your progress, and send you an alarm when you’re drifting off course.

Related topic: Dos and Don’ts to Control Weight and Defend Colon Cancer

Image credit: By lockstockb

Dos and Don’ts to Control Weight and Defend Colon Cancer

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Obesity_DT_1341867955b7W3ZfLet’s face the facts first.

An estimated over 60% of Americans and about 2.3 billion people worldwide are overweight and/or obese.

Growing scientific evidence supports a strong link between obesity and colorectal cancer. Obese individuals (BMI > 30) have a 20-40% greater risk to develop colon cancer than those with normal weight (BMI < 25).

Most people don’t realize that obesity increases the risk of colon cancer, though knowing that obesity causes serious health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.

To defend colon cancer, it’s critical to maintain a healthy weight. The following Dos and Don’ts are your guide for strategic weight management:

Do eat plenty of vegetables, fruits and a balanced diet.
Antioxidants, particularly carotenoids, zeaxanthin, and resveratrol are your best defense against colon cancer and other cancers as well. These cancer-fighting nutrients and vitamins can be obtained from a diet high in vegetables, fruits, and whole wheat, and low in red or processed meats, sugar, and refined grains.

Do intake high-fiber food.

Do drink sufficient water daily.

Do drink tea, e.g. green tea.
Catechins from Green tea can promote weight management through its effects on metabolism and metabolic enzymes. While increasing your metabolism, tea catechins also support fat oxidation to facilitate natural fat-burning process in the body, thereby contributing to its cancer-fighting property. See more Tea and Cancer Prevention.

Do exercises at least 30 min a day, 5 days a week.
Exercising doesn’t mean that you have to work out hard at a gym or run for miles daily. There are many simple ways to get exercises into your day and keep you physically active. Check out these gym alternatives 10 Joyful Moves to Boost Your Physical Activity and Walk to Reduce Colon Cancer Risk.

Don’t eat high-fat, high-sugar, or high-calorie diet.
Research has shown that a high-energy, high-processed meat, high-animal fat diet is associated with colon cancer development.

Don’t consume red meat and processed foods.

Don’t eat a big meal.

Don’t drink sugar-loaded beverages.  

Don’t drink alcohol.
Alcohol is high in calories, when combined with a high-fat diet, it may lead to weight gain. Overweight or obese individuals should watch out.

Don’t be physically inactive.
Physical inactivity has been linked to increased risk of several types of cancer. To keep energy balance, just remember this simple equation:  Calories in = Calories out

Don’t stress out! 
Stress can mess up your diet and daily active routines, making your weight management out of control.

The bottom line is:
Obesity is very preventable with a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercises. And colon cancer is preventable!

Image credit:  By Travelling-light