News Roundup: Sleep Awareness Week 2015

March 2-8 is Sleep Awareness Week. Sleep week brings to attention the importance of getting enough sleep for both mental and physical health.  Additionally, sleep week  offers many tips for getting both a better quality and quantity of sleep.

This week’s News Roundup brings you a collection of articles and blog posts discussing Sleep Awareness Week 2015.

How to Get on a Sleep Schedule.  Sleep.org.  “You won’t be able to change your sleep schedule overnight. The most effective tactic is to make small changes slowly. If you’re trying to go to sleep at 10:00pm, rather than midnight, for example, try this: For the first three or four nights, go to bed at 11:45pm, and then go to bed at 11:30pm for the next few days. Keep adjusting your sleep schedule like this. By working in 15-minute increments, your body will have an easier time adjusting.”

Improve Sleep to Improve HealthHuffington Post. “Regularly getting a full night's sleep can reap many health benefits, including weight loss and stress management. In contrast, getting too little sleep can cause us to eat more than we normally would and increase our tendency to choose unhealthy, higher calorie foods, according to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Not surprisingly, this pattern can lead to weight gain.”

The solution to most sleeping problems: mindfulnessQuartz.  “Counter-intuitively, the way that mindfulness may influence sleep is not directly through relaxation—because mindfulness is about waking the body up and becoming more aware. By learning to become more aware of present-moment experiences, we learn not to react to thoughts and worries that can interfere with sleep.”

How Much Sleep Should You Get? New Recommendations ReleasedLiveScience. “Too little sleep has been linked with health problems, including obesity and high blood pressure, as well as decreased productivity and drowsy driving, the NSF says. Too much sleep has been linked with health conditions as well, including heart disease and premature death.”

Decoding the 2015 Dietary Guideline Recommendations

 

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is published every 5 years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  These guidelines are designed to encourage individuals to eat a healthful diet, with a focus on foods and beverages that promote health and prevent chronic disease. 

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee helps to shape the official Dietary Guidelines, and has recently published new recommendations.  While these are not the official Dietary Guidelines, the USDA and HHS tend to adhere very closely to the panel’s suggestions.   Some people may be left wondering what it all means, so this article will help break it all down and offer suggestions on how to apply the guidelines in real life.  

What’s New in the 2015 Dietary Recommendations?

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines have made some clear changes in dietary recommendations from previous years.  The 3 main points of concern and focus this year are:

 

  1. The shift from focusing on individual nutrients to encouraging overall healthy eating patterns
  2. A more lenient recommendation for dietary cholesterol
  3. Stronger focus on reducing the intake of added sugar and less of a focus on dietary fat intake

 

Let’s take a closer look at the specifics in each of these recommendations: 

Eating Patterns

In 2010, the Dietary Guidelines focused on certain nutrients of concern and offered specific recommendations for each.  This year, however, the recommendations encourage Americans to focus less on individual nutrients, and more on overall eating patterns.   The panel stated that the typical American diet does not include enough fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and fish to promote health.  While emphasizing these particular foods, they also suggest that a plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet is most healthful and is associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease.  These foods are also high in fiber, which works to help lower blood cholesterol levels.  Examining the overall food intake and replacing highly processed food with “whole” foods is one key to improving health and reducing heart disease.  “Whole” foods are defined as foods that are as close to their natural state as possible.  A good rule of thumb for eating more “whole” foods is to think how a particular food exists in nature, before any processing occurs, and include that version of the food more often.  For example, strawberry flavored snack cakes are not found in nature, but strawberries are. Therefore, choosing to eat whole, natural strawberries instead of a processed snack would be one way to increase the intake of whole foods.  Eating grilled fish instead of processed fish patties would be another way to apply this recommendation.  The table below gives more examples of whole vs. non-whole foods.

Whole Foods

Non-Whole Foods

Yogurt 

Go-Gurt

Low Fat Cheddar Cheese Slice

Canned Cheese Spread

Cooked Beans (red, pinto, black, etc)

Packaged, Flavored Soup Mix

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Whole Grain White Bread

Cereal and Milk

Milk ‘n Cereal Bars

Strawberries

Strawberry Splash Fruit Gushers

Chicken Sandwich on Whole Wheat Bread

Frozen Microwavable Chicken Panini dinner

Fresh Fruit

Canned fruit in syrup

Skinless Chicken Breast

Chicken Nuggets

Baked Potato

Potato Chips

Whole Grains

Refined Grains (white bread, pasta, rice)

Fresh Berries

Blueberry Toaster Pastry

 

Dietary Cholesterol and Fat

Dietary cholesterol, the cholesterol found in food, is another focus of the 2015 Guidelines.  Previous recommendations have suggested that foods high in dietary cholesterol should be strictly avoided, and individuals should consume no more than 300mg of dietary cholesterol per day.  This year’s Nutrition Panel, however, has eased up on this recommendation, stating that saturated fat and trans-fat are the most detrimental to blood cholesterol levels, as opposed to dietary cholesterol.  Dietary cholesterol is only found in animal-based foods like meat and dairy products, which are typically high in saturated fat as well.  Cholesterol in the body (blood cholesterol) is a waxy substance that is produced BY the body and needed for proper body function.  

In shifting from the strict low-cholesterol diet recommendation of the past, the Nutrition Panel says that years of research and data simply do not support the idea that dietary cholesterol has a direct impact on blood cholesterol levels in most people.  Foods that were previously frowned upon like egg yolks are now deemed appropriate to a healthy diet.  While egg yolks do contain dietary cholesterol (187mg per egg), they also contain healthy unsaturated fats.  Seafood like shrimp, lobster, and crab contain anywhere from 70-180mg of cholesterol per serving, but offer brain boosting omega-3 fatty acids that are an essential part of the diet. 

The key to including these foods in the diet is moderation.  If an individual has high blood cholesterol or is obese and at risk for developing heart disease they would not want to have eggs at one meal, then fried shrimp at the next   Balancing foods with high dietary cholesterol content with plant based foods would be ideal.

The previous recommendation of 35% total fat intake has been dropped, and Americans are encouraged to focus not on the amount of fat consumed, but the type of fat consumed.  Unsaturated fats found in fish, nuts, and vegetables oils should replace the saturated fats found mostly in animal foods like red meat.  Trans fats are found mostly in processed foods that have a long shelf-life, like cookies, potato chips, and snack crackers, and should also be avoided. 

Added Sugar

The other major shift in this year’s Dietary Guidelines is the focus on reducing the intake of added sugar.  Previous year’s recommendations included warnings about a high sugar diet, but for the first time the Nutrition Panel has set a limit of sugar intake to no more than 10% of daily calories.  The large increase in processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and “low fat” foods have caused an increase in the overall sugar content of the typical American diet.  Americans consume 20-30 teaspoons of added sugar a day, most of which comes up sugary beverages.  Additionally, many “low fat” versions of foods have added sugar to replace the fat that has been removed, and the consumption of these foods has increased with the previous focus on eating a low fat diet (hence the new recommendation focusing on the type of fat consumed). 

Under the new Dietary Recommendations, a person consuming 1500 calories a day should consume no more than 150 of those calories from added sugar.  One gram of sugar = 4 calories. So let’s take a look of what this really means:

A 12oz regular soft drink contains 40g of sugar.  That equals 160 calories from sugar in that one soft drink.  So for the person on a 1500 calorie per day diet, this one can of soda makes up the total amount of added sugar recommended in one day!

Ways to Reduce Intake of Added Sugar

  • Limit beverages like soda and fruit drinks and drink water instead
  • Follow the guidelines to eat more “whole” foods like fruit, vegetables, nuts, lean proteins (fish), and whole grains
  • Eat less “processed” foods like packages convenience foods, frozen meals, sugary cereals, white breads and pasta, and processed meats
  • Choose foods that contain healthy unsaturated fats instead of foods with added sugar 

In summary, the Dietary Guidelines from previous years are under review since some Nutrition Panel advisors say that the old recommendations have steered individuals away from whole foods that may contain dietary cholesterol and healthy fats such as meat and eggs, thus encouraging the intake of highly processed refined carbohydrates. 

News Roundup: National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2015

 

This week (February 22-28) marks the 28th Annual National Eating Disorder Awareness week (NEDA). Eating disorders affect women and men, young and old, Soldiers and civilians. The severity of eating disorders also varies greatly and we hope that this year’s NEDA helps bring to light  Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED) which include feeding and eating disorders that are of clinical severity, but do not meet the full diagnostic criteria for more well-known eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.  OSFED’s ultimately affect a higher percentage of the population than full criteria eating disorders. Such disorders are equally as serious as fully diagnosable eating disorders, but often go unrecognized and individuals may suffer for many years before seeking and/or receiving help (or never seek help).  These disordered eating behaviors are life altering and need recognition.

 

This week’s News Roundup brings you a collection of articles and blog posts related to this year’s NEDA. 

 

Facts About Eating Disorders: What The Research ShowsEating Disorders Coalition. “40.8% of active duty Navy men meet criteria for OSFED; 6.8% suffer from Bulimia Nervosa.   97.5% of active duty female Marines meet criteria for an eating disorder. Prior to entering the Marines, they had no previous history of an eating disorder.”

 

Raising Eating Disorder Awareness on a Naval BaseNational Eating Disorders. “Because eating disorders require treatment by someone trained, it is critical for the military to provide access to care, separate from sending those struggling to a PTSD specialist or alcoholic anonymous group.  It is also extremely important that service members can let their command know they are suffering, just like anyone with the above disorders, without fear of being kicked out of the service.”

 

Eating disorders fairly rare among troops, study findsAir Force Times.  “Yet, according to the recent AFHSC report, diagnoses of these disorders among service members remain low overall.  AFHSC researchers said the discrepancy could be the result of patients avoiding medical care for their disorder because they don’t think they have a problem, are embarrassed, or worry that it would jeopardize their military careers.  But the number of diagnoses also could be low because personnel policies ban those previously diagnosed with the condition from serving in the military — and many of these disorders begin in early adolescence, officials said.”

  

Help for Service Members and Their FamiliesMentalHealth.gov. This site offers a multitude of resources for service members and their families who are battling eating disorders. 

 

Athletic Shoes 101

It’s important to have proper fitting footwear to protect your feet, legs, ankles, and most importantly, your back from discomfort or even injury. Chronic activity with ill fitting, or inappropriate shoes can break down joints and tissue, making it more prone to injury. 

First, it is important to choose the right shoe for the sport to protect your feet from the stresses of that sport.   Walking into a shoe store to buy athletic shoes can be confusing when it comes to buying the right shoe for your feet and your sport of interest.   Second, if you are running, it is of the utmost importance that the shoe be appropriate for your arch height (pronated, average, high arch-underpronate), body type (heavy weight, lean), and also how your foot strikes the ground. 

Here are some tips on observations you can make to help you know what to look for in your next pair of shoes: 

Know your foot

Feet come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Your shoes should match the shape of your foot and the way your feet strike the ground.  Look at your last pair of shoes.  Notice where they show the most amount of wear.

1. Overpronation: If your shoe shows the most wear on the inside edge, it means that you have low arches or flat feet and have a tendency toward overpronation, meaning your feet roll inward.  This causes extra wear on the outside heel and inside forefoot.  Choose a shoe with high support, and possibly motion-control, depending on how overpronated you are.

2. Underpronation: If your shoes wear out mostly on the outside edge, then this means you have high arches and tend to underpronate, which means your feet roll outward.  This causes wear on the outer edge of the heel and the little toe.  Choose a cushioned shoe with a soft midsole or neural arch depending upon how underpronated you are. 

3. Neutral:  If your shoes wear out evenly on both sides, then you have a neutral arch.  You are in the majority!  Look for a neutral arch shoe or mild stability (if a little pronation) shoe, which has the right combination of cushioning and support. 

Shop around and get expert advice.  Shoe stores offer many kinds of shoes for active people.  Visit one or more stores you trust.  Try on various styles and brands.  Often, private athletic shoes stores in your area (not chain stores usually) have employees that will watch you walk with your shoes off to get an indication of what your personal needs are in a good fit and function. They can also help you choose the shoe best suited for the kind of activity you do. 

Shop toward the end of the day or after working outYour feet swell at the end of the day or after exercising.  Try on shoes when your feet are at their largest.  Be sure to have your foot measured every time you shop for shoes.  Foot size often changes with age so choose shoes that fit, not by the size that you’ve worn in the past.  

Shop with your socksTry shoes on with the kind of socks you normally wear when exercising.  If you wear orthotics, be sure the shoes fit with them inside.  The salespeople will let you replace the insole of the shoe with your orthotic if you ask so you will know how the shoe really fits you as you will wear it. This is key, particularly if you already have injuries or want to prevent any.

No need to break in!  Athletic/running shoes should be comfortable right away. Try them on and walk around. They should NOT need to “stretch out” later.  There should be one thumb’s width of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe.  The heel should NOT pinch or slip around when you walk, and they should bend easily at the ball of your feet (just behind your toes). Run around the store if you need to make sure. 

Choose the right shoe for your sportEach sport has shoes designed for specific demands made on the feet and ankles.  Look for these features when buying a shoe for your sport:

Note* Athletic shoes should not bend anywhere other than the ball of the foot. If the shoe bends in multiple places, it is likely too flimsy for even a neutral runner and demonstrates poor quality. You would be surprised at how many “fashionable” shoes are flimsy and don’t adequately support the activity.  

 1. Running - Choose a shoe that is light, has a thick, cushioned sole, and supports the foot while moving forward.  You'll need slightly different shoes depending on whether you'll be on the road or on trails. The outsoles of road shoes have just a few grooves in a mostly flat surface. The bottoms of trail shoes have a deeper tread for better traction on dirt or mud. Trail shoes' uppers are often waterproof.  

2. Walking - Choose a shoe that allows your foot to roll and push off naturally while walking.  A walking shoe usually has a fairly rigid arch, a well-cushioned sole, and a stiff heal support for stability. 

3. Aerobics – An aerobic shoe should provide sufficient cushioning and shock absorption and should have good side-to-side stability to withstand forceful impact.  Shoes need an arch support that will compensate for these forces.  It should also have strap support to provide stability to the front of your foot and to prevent slippage.  The upper part of the shoe should be high enough to prevent irritation to your toes and nails.

 4.Cycling – The key to cycling shoes is that they have a hard, completely inflexible bottom. There should be no ability to bend the shoe. Many of the new indoor cycling shoes are very flexible. These are not ideal, particularly for outdoor cycling. The bottom of the shoe should be firm in order to prevent injury to the foot, ankle and even knee and back joints. The upper part of a cycling shoe is the most important part of the fit.  The shoe should fit tightly but not so tight that is can restrict blood flow to the feet.  

5. Cross-Training – Cross-training shoes meet the comfort, cushioning, stability and requirements of many sports and activities.  The bottom soles of cross-training shoes are wide and stable to provide side-to-side support and stability that is needed for a variety of sports.  They are the most economical choice since they allow you to buy a single pair of athletic shoes for a variety of uses.  Cross-trainers, however, are not recommended for those who are on a regular running program. They do not offer enough cushioning and flexibility for runners and are heavier than typical running shoes. 

Consider fit and comfort before priceYou don’t have to buy the most expensive shoe on the market to get the best athletic shoe.  If you want a fashionable shoe or one backed by a celebrity, you’ll probably pay more and it likely won’t be the one you need. Fashionable shoes are usually designed with a neutral foot in mind to fit the majority.  On the other hand, you don’t want an inexpensive pair of shoes that could fail you and cause injury.  Choose a high-quality shoe that fits your foot the best and make sure they are comfortable. 

Know when to replace themAccording to the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, the average pair of running shoes should be replaced after about 350 to 550 miles.  This means that you should probably replace your shoes before they show any signs of major wear.  The shoe will gradually lose its absorption capacity and stability before it shows signs of wear. If it is not a running shoe you are actually running in (average miles or replace every 6 months), a good rule of thumb is to replace your athletic shoes once per year regardless of whether they still “look good”. Sometimes the wear that could create injury is not evident to the eye.

 

News Roundup: Mindfulness

 

 

Not so long ago, mindfulness was not very well known or understood. Thanks, in part, to an ever expanding body of research, we continue to learn more about the many mental and physical benefits of mindfulness. 

 

This week’s News Roundup brings you a collection of articles and blog posts discussing mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness Training Improves Resilience Of Active-Duty SoldiersHuffington Post.  “According to a new University of Miami study, a brief mindfulness meditation exercise aimed at staying focused on the present moment can help active-duty soldiers prepare for combat, improving performance and cognitive resilience.”

 

Escape The Emotional Eating CyclePsychology Today.  “Acceptance techniques teach you how to allow yourself to feel a normal range of human emotions while focusing on engaging in behavior that is consistent with your goals and values, without trying to change or control your emotions. In other words, acceptance skills help teach you how to get a little more comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

 

Mindfulness Meditation Can Help You Fall (And Stay) AsleepHuffington Post.  “"According to our findings, mindfulness meditation appears to have a role in addressing the prevalent burden of sleep problems among older adults," the study's authors wrote.”

 

This is Your Brain on Mindfulness Training. Futurity.  “By understanding how mindfulness training affects different diseases and disorders, researchers will be able to develop better interventions, know when certain treatments will work most effectively and identify people likely to benefit from mindfulness training.”