Obesity, weight gain, diabetes, stroke, heart disease; the headlines are everywhere.  “I’ve got to lose some weight” has come from the lips of many of my clients. For years, typical advice was to eat everything in moderation, eat fewer calories, avoid fatty foods, and exercise.  A well-written article by Paula Owens, M.S., in Scottsdale Health magazine (9/11), cited a study published in the June 23, 2011 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, revealed that certain foods and lifestyle behaviors lead to weight gain and belly fat. This four-year study involved 120,877 well-educated men and women who were healthy at the start of the study. On average, participants gained a pound every year; however, some gained much more-about four pounds in one year, while a few managed to stay the same or even lose weight. According to the lead author of the study, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health, the factors that influenced changes in weight include:

Eating fat does not make you fat-weight loss was greatest among people who ate more healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, salmon, olive oil, and coconut oil).

Highly processed or refined foods are nutritionally bankrupt-they actually increase your appetite, as well as pumping you full of fat, salt, and sugar.

Sleep-people who got less than six hours of sleep gained the most weight, due to hormonal irregularities.

Physical Activity-people who increased physical activity gained less weight than non-exercisers. However, even if you are fairly active, if you fail to think about what you put into your mouth, you will still gain weight. Also, those who did high-intensity, interval type training and resistance exercises had the best fat-loss results.

Eat Your Veges-participants who lost the most ate at least three servings of dark leafy greens or other veges every day.

Food choices The top foods for promoting weight gain, in order, are: french fries (3 lb.), potato chips (1.7 lb.), potatoes (1.28 lb.), sugar-sweetened beverages (1 lb.), unprocessed red meat (0.95 lb.), processed red meat (0.93 lb.), sweets and desserts 90.41 lb.), refined grains (0.39 lb.), other fried foods (0.32 lb.), 100% fruit juice (0.31 lb.). Not a vegetable on the list.

Bottom line is what you eat DOES make a difference. Eating everything in moderation, eating fewer calories and avoiding fatty foods is NOT the best approach. It’s just an excuse to eat whatever you want. If you want to gain health and lose weight, you have to make sacrifices.

RESVERATROL. A review published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research concludes that resveratrol, a nutrient found in the skin of grapes, could indeed possess an ability to help retard the development of some of the conditions associated with aging in humans. In addition to resveratrol’s anti-inflammatory benefits, the compound’s role as an antioxidant could be partly responsible for its numerous benefits.

Selenium deficiency can increase the risk of age-related diseases. In the June 2011 FASEB Journal, Dr. Bruce Ames and Dr. Joyce C. McCann reveal why modest deficiencies of any vitamin or mineral can increase the incidence of age-related disease. (FASEB J. 2011 Jun; 25(6):1793-814).

Dr. Ames proposes that the human body evolved to allocate frequently scarce micronutrients to short-term survival or reproductive functions rather than to those that are protective of long-term health. This results in damage to the tissues during nutrient deficiency states.

This review looked at the effects of selenium deficiency on 12 selenoproteins. Five of these selenium-dependent proteins are considered essential from an evolutionary perspective. It was found that even modest selenium deficiency results in mutations in selenoproteins characteristic in common with diseases that occur with aging. Selenium is an important part of immune function. Selenium sources are crab, liver, wheat, fish, and poultry. Selenium supplements are also available.

A recent study of persons with acute low back pain (muscular) showed that massage may trump drugs, physical therapy, and manipulation, if done ASAP. Also important: make sure you go to a qualified massage therapist.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.