Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is one of the most common disorders of premenopausal women, and therefore, there is really no woman on the planet (and neither her partner or family members) that looks forward to those PMS days. In a previous article, I had mentioned the benefits of evening primrose oil for relieving symptoms of PMS. I have since heard from dozens of women who found this natural cure beneficial.
Scientists have now found that high intake of calcium and vitamin D may reduce the risk of PMS. Given that calcium and vitamin D may also reduce the risk of osteoporosis and some cancers in women, the researchers are recommending these nutrients even for younger women.
This is how it works. Studies suggest that blood calcium and vitamin D levels are lower in women with PMS and that calcium supplementation may reduce symptom severity. They also found that intake of skim or low-fat milk was also associated with a lower risk of PMS.
The team of scientists that includes Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson, Susan Hankinson, Adrianne Bendich, Susan Johnson, Walter Willett, and JoAnn Manson have published their findings in a paper entitled "Calcium and Vitamin D Intake and Risk of Incident Premenstrual Syndrome."
How to increase your intake of calcium and Vitamin D?
- Of course, supplements are the easiest to take. You can buy excellent supplements of calcium and vitamin D on many online drugstores.
- You can also increase your intake of calcium and vitamin D from natural sources. Just pick food items, for example milk/yogurt/cheese, that are rich in these nutrients. Other foods are soy nuts, figs, tofu, and soy milk. Unfortunately, very few foods naturally contain vitamin D, but dairy products do have some vitamin D. A few products may have vitamin D added to them and you can look at the label to find that out. Therefore, it is best to take a multi-vitamin pill.
Friday, June 10, 2005
It is indeed fascinating to see those mostly skinny people in Paris while we fight with our weight almost all the time. But French people too, like the rest of world are getting fat, and the reason is that they are abandoning their traditional diet and way of life. The traditional French diet is simple, far from the sophistication that you see in French restaurants outside Europe. So let me discuss some of the key elements of French diet and then you can buy a cook book to start cooking like them. But, unless you make lifestyle changes, French cooking might actually end up making you fat.
- In the traditional French diet, there are lots of fresh foods. Processed foods are not part of any traditional diet. The abundance of fresh, high-quality vegetables, herbs and fruits in Europe make their foods delicious without adding too many calories.
- The traditional French diet is also balanced. Each meal generally includes all the foods groups. The French diet is rich in good fats. It is not low-fat cuisine. It is actually quite rich in olive oil and butter. The French are not obsessed with cutting fat just for the sake of it (particularly if it means that taste has to be sacrificed) or eating margarine and other hydrogenated oils.
- The French also eat bread with their meals. The key is moderation. Usually French breads are high quality and not filled with cheap ingredients. In the US, we have corn syrup added to almost everything because it is cheap. As reported by ABC News, it is cheap because the government subsidizes it. In other words, American people are paying the corn growers so that they can get fat.
- The French also walk a lot. This is normal in Europe. It is very difficult to find parking and is very expensive. So people use public transportation a lot and they need to walk everywhere. Elevators and escalators are not everywhere either. People need to climb the stairs quite frequently and many times with heavy bags.
- The French eat in moderation too. This is perhaps the most important lesson from the French diet. The French restaurants are famous for small portions and the same is true of French kitchens. Like many countries outside the US, the portions are small.
- The French enjoy food and eating. They do not eat in a hurry; they chew their food well, and do not talk while eating. The meals are long and pleasurable. In Zen philosophy, they will call this “mindful eating.” When you are eating, you are conscious of every bite going to your mouth and you are enjoying it – not swallowing it without truly tasting it. The French take up to 2 hours lunches, and do not eat in front of the TV.
- The French eat everything; there are no forbidden foods. They eat desserts too, though in moderation. They have snack time but do not munch while doing other things.
- The French eat at home. Their favorite place to eat is at their own dinner table and meals they have prepared themselves. Every time we eat out in the US, we overeat, because the portions are huge and the fat content is also big. Even worse, in many cases, some restaurants just use frozen or processed foods. In a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, they found that the portion in a Chinese restaurant in Philadelphia were 72% larger than those in a similar restaurant in Paris.
- The traditional French diet is just common sense: eat in moderation and move. You do not need to learn French cooking but certainly the underlying philosophy of the French is to enjoy life and all its little pleasures. That is the foundation of the French diet. French women get their motivation in their desire to look good.
Can you “diet” as the traditional French do or did? Yes you may; the most difficult part for us is portion control and snacking. These are definitely bad habits that Americans have. To correct bad habits is not easy, but it is possible. Many people have done and so can you. The difference in average calorie consumption in the USA and in France is not big. According to one study, in the USA our average is 3642 and in France it is 3551 calories a day. The difference is only 91 calories but it is the accumulative effect and the fact that we walk less means about 5 pounds in six months. 91 calories can be easily burned in a short but energetic workout.
Recommended article: Diet myths that stop you from losing weight
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
A lot of people continue to be overweight because they do not see results with whatever they do. And so they give up. While it keeps the dieting industry profitable, it does not help anyone else. Americans want quick results and unfortunately, when it comes to weight loss, there is no such thing as quick results. But doctors at the Exercise Metabolism Research Group, McMaster University in Canada have some excellent news for you. According to Kirsten Burgomaster, Scott Hughes, George Heigenhauser, Suzanne Bradwell, and Martin Gibala1, just six sessions of sprint interval training increases muscle oxidative potential and cycle endurance capacity in humans. To put it in simple words, short sprint interval training (15 minutes of intense exercise over 2 weeks) may be more than enough to stay fit.
"Short bouts of very intense exercise improved muscle health and performance comparable to several weeks of traditional endurance training," says Martin Gibala, who is an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology of McMaster. "Sprint training may offer an option for individuals who cite "lack of time" as a major impediment to fitness and conditioning," said Gibala. "This type of training is very demanding and requires a high level of motivation, however less frequent, higher intensity exercise can indeed lead to improvements in health and fitness."
So all he is suggesting is just 2 minutes of intense exercise each day. You can do it very easily actually by climbing several flights of stairs or working out in the gym using some the right equipment. Now you really have no excuse for not working out. Don't you have 2 minutes?
How to get a body fit for bikini
Lose weight one ounce at a time
Monday, June 06, 2005
The answer is absolutely no. No matter what spin the media and the apparel companies put, having a weight that is not appropriate for your body is simply unhealthy. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) came up with a controversial finding recently that it was OK to be slightly overweight but once they discovered their mistake, Director Julie Gerberding has been trying to clarify that we cannot afford to be overweight or obese. Recently she answered many questions related to the confusion that has been created.
CDC and other scientists have published several papers describing the association between obesity and death in the US. We can't get accurate estimates of the association because obesity is not listed on death records, so we have to use methods that rely on extrapolations. The studies that have been done have used different methods and different sources of information, and they've come to some different conclusions, and that has created a lot of confusion on the very definition of obesity.
Obesity, which is a risk factor for chronic diseases like diabetes, is typically calculated using the body mass index (BMI) -- dividing weight in kilograms by height in metres squared. A BMI of more than 30 is considered obese, more than 40 is very severe.
Obesity is a critically important health threat in both the United States and many other countries. In the US, where the problem appears to be the worst, two out of three people have a weight problem. Things are gradually getting worse in other countries. An estimated 10-20 percent of men and 10-25 percent of women in European countries are obese. Countries like China, where people have traditionally not been obese are now seeing signs of obesity, particularly among young people.
First of all, we know that over the last 20 years, the rate of obesity in this country has soared astronomically. The chart below (courtesy: CDC) depicts the current profile of obesity among adults in the United States, and, as you can see, there are some states where more than 25 percent of the population is obese.
Even more frightening than that is the fact that 16 percent of the children in the US are obese. That number has increased by at least two times over the last 20 years. Another chart (courtesy: CDC) shows how serious the crisis is.
People who are obese experience an increased rate of hypertension, diabetes, renal failure. They're at increased risk for cancers, including colon cancer, post-menopausal breast cancer, gall bladder cancer, and uterine cancer. People who are obese and overweight have an increased risk of arthritis and mobility problems. People have sleep disturbances and breathing problems. It was also recently found that obese people earn less than their healthy peers.
Another very scary fact for children -- Type II Diabetes, which used to be known as adult onset diabetes, is now increasingly being diagnosed and adding to the cardiovascular risk profile of children. The US has many children now who are not only overweight, but they also have high blood pressure, lipid abnormalities, and diabetes -- all of the factors that increase the risk among adults for cardiovascular disease and stroke.
We also know that obesity is linked to problems with child bearing, premature birth, learning disabilities, and other adverse outcomes for infants. And finally, the economic estimates of the impact of obesity are astronomical. Approximately $75 billion are attributed to obesity in 2003 in the US alone. There's a much higher rate of obesity among African Americans and among Hispanics in the United States. There's also a much higher proportion of people who are native Americans, who have problems with obesity. Treating obesity-related disorders costs as much or more than illnesses caused by aging, smoking and alcoholism. It accounts for 2 percent of the national health expenditure in France and Australia, more than 3 percent in Japan and Portugal and 4 percent in the Netherlands.
What does it mean for you?
While you may have heard contradictory information here and there, the bottom line is that there is simply no reason for you to have more weight than what you need for your height, age, and lifestyle. And you can do something about it. Apart from diet and exercise you can also seek help of plastic surgery to deal with your weight related problems.