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Eating Chocolate and Drinking Wine Helps Lose Weight?

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Chocolate and wine

Those trying to lose weight are often told over and over again to stay away from foods like wine, chocolate, coffee and cheese; however, one expert is out to challenge that commonly held belief, insisting that anyone trying to lose weight shouldn’t avoid such foods.

Wine, chocolate, cheese and coffee, despite having some well-known health benefits, are usually forbidden in most weight loss diets due to their high-calorie content, but Tim Spector of King’s College London believes they are being scapegoated for the failure of most of these diets.

As the author of The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat, the professor of Genetic Epidemiology says many dietitians and health nuts make the mistake of not taking into account the microbes in a person’s gut and the important role they play in one’s overall health, pointing out in an interview with The Independent that these microbes actually outnumber the body’s cells by 10 to one.

These multitudes of microbes play an important role in the body’s various processes, including those that determine weight, with Spector citing an interesting study that found that twins who had the highest levels of flavonoids in their blood, and thus higher microbe diversity in their guts, exhibited lower blood pressure, lower diabetes risk, weighed less and had stronger bones.

Along with fruits and vegetables, wine and chocolates are rich in flavonoids, which are antioxidants that help repair cell damage caused by free radicals.

The study was carried out by Spector and his colleagues and involved 2,000 twins in the United Kingdom. He notes that most calorie-restricting diets usually exclude one major nutrient group such as fat or carbohydrates because of a simplistic and even erroneous view of nutrition and weight.

That is, they only consider the energy that goes into the body and the energy that comes out, with little to no regard for the effects of microbes.

Spector says calorie control on its own is unlikely to work because studies have shown that calories from one type of food generally have a completely different effect on weight than calories from another. One particular six-year study on monkeys who consumed the same amount of energy found that those fed calories from artificial trans gained weight while those given calories from healthy vegetable oil did not.

For Spector, the best diet is one that includes a wide variety of food items, especially those rich in polyphenols, which encourage the propagation of a diverse array of healthy microbes.

A lot of nutritional experts disagree with his dismissive viewpoint on calorie-counting, but most agree on the health benefits of microbes and probiotics. For instance, microbes in the gut promote mental health by easing anxiety and depression, according to Live Science, while the propagation of good bacteria colonies improves the body’s immune response.

Perhaps the best approach would be a combination of Professor Spector’s recommendation of eating a healthier, more varied diet and the calorie considerations of most conventional dieting methods. Why not have the best of both worlds?

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Diet & Health

10 Signs You Are Allergic To Gluten

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Long Bread

Intolerance to gluten has been a running buzz in the healthy living circles for the past decade, and there is no sign of that changing. The condition can lead to detrimental health effects relating to the gut, skin and even nervous system, with the most common symptoms being depression, fatigue, gastrointestinal problems and pain.

Gluten is a protein found in such grains as wheat, rye, barley, spelt and is what makes bread light and fluffy and dough a sticky texture. Wheat and rye are most commonly found in cereal and bread, as well as in pasta in the case of the former and even beer, salad dressings and soups with the latter. Barley is often used in stock feed products.

Not only do all of these grains contain gluten, but they can also cause insensitivity to gluten. Unfortunately, they are a common part of the diets of millions, if not billions, of people around the world.

Gluten intolerance has also been associated with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that can cause damage to the small intestine, making it harder for the body to absorb nutrients. Around 1 out of 100 people suffer from the condition in the United States alone!

Fortunately, symptoms of gluten intolerance subside after removing gluten from one’s diet. Here are 10 of the most usual signs that you may be suffering from it:

1. Unexpected Weight Gain

Caused by malabsorption and gut permeability from the systemic inflammation triggered by the protein, unexpected weight gain is related to gluten intolerance. Sufferers who eliminate gluten from their diet will notice an improvement in their weight.

2. Brain Fog

In an article published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, one titled “Gluten sensitivity as a neurological illness,” researchers found that immunoglobins (AKA antibodies) react abnormally to gluten and the reaction contributes to reduced cognitive function.

3. Abnormal Immune function

The IgA antibodies, which are found in the gastrointestinal tract and saliva, are the body’s primary response to colds, flu or other illnesses. If you are gluten sensitive, these antibodies have a counter effect on your immune system, inhibiting its ability to properly defend against such illnesses.

4. Headaches, Migraines

A recent study discovered that 56 percent of the gluten intolerant participants suffered from migraines, while only 14% of the control group had the condition.

5. Dental Issues

A study published in the BMS Gastroenterology found that there is a connection between gluten intolerance and “aphthous stomatitis”, a condition characterized by the repeated formation of mouth ulcers and canker sores in otherwise healthy individuals. Malabsorption can cause gluten intolerant people to also have low calcium levels, which undermines oral health.

6. Skin Problems

Malabsorption resulting from gluten intolerance has been associated with eczema, acne and dermatitis herpetiformis (DH), with symptoms including redness, itching, rashes, burning and blisters. Described by the Gluten Intolerance Group as “a chronic disease of the skin marked by groups of watery, itchy blisters that might resemble pimples or blisters,” DH is a very difficult condition to have.

7. Joint And Muscle Aches

Researchers have long known that people with autoimmune forms of arthritis are at higher risk for celiac disease, and a growing body of research now finds that here is a possible connection between gluten and non-pathologic joint pain. When a person with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity eats gluten, the immune system jumps into action, causing inflammation.

8. Fatigue And Exhaustion

This symptom is similar to brain fog in that the mechanism involved are still a mystery. There is little scientific research on the the purported correlation between fatigue/exhaustion and gluten intolerance; however, the fact that fatigue is one of the most frequent symptoms mentioned by those with celiac or gluten sensitivity has led medical experts believe gluten intolerance can cause fatigue and exhaustion through inflammation likely because of de-allocation of the energy reserves.

9. Hormone Imbalances

Gluten is a known to disrupt a number of hormones, including estrogen, and has been linked to Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), abnormal PMS, and unexplained infertility. According a article published by the Gluten Free Society, the removal of gluten often resolves hormone imbalance.

10. Anxiety, Depression, ADD, Mood Swings

Depression and anxiety symptoms have been linked to gluten consumption in celiac sufferers, while one small study found that excess gluten possibly depleted the serotonin levels of non-celiac suffers, leading to feelings of depression.

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Diet & Health

Here’s How Much Calories Are In 10 Kernels Of Your Favorite Nuts

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cashew nuts

Nuts are an amazing, nutrient-rich food source that don’t get their due consideration. Besides being packed with protein and fiber, most nuts contain a great source of many heart-healthy substances such as unsaturated fats and Omega-3 fatty acids.

They are also loaded with antioxidants and are beneficial for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Cholesterol and triglycerides? Nuts lower those too.

Assuming you’re not allergic to them, nuts are great for the body, but as with everything in in life, they should be eaten in moderation. After all, too much of anything can lead to undesirable results.

They are very high in calories, so if you’re not careful, you can end up racking up hundreds of calories with only a few bites. And we all know what too much calories does to one’s weight…

To help you moderate just how much calories you consume per handful, we have put together a convenient table that approximates how much calories are in a certain number of kernels of your favorite nuts.

By the way, peanuts are botanically not nuts because, unlike true nuts such as walnuts, almonds, cashews etc. which grow on trees, they grow underground. Peanuts are legumes like beans and peas; however for culinary, research and nutritional purposes, they are traditionally considered a nut and, thus, have a place in our table.

Plus, when people think about nuts, the first thing that usually comes to mind are peanuts.

Nut Number of Nuts Calories
Almonds, raw 14 97
Almonds, dry-roasted, salted 14 98
Brazil nuts, dried 3 93
Cashews, raw 10 98
Cashews, oil-roasted, salted 9 96
Hazelnuts, dry-roasted 10 102
Macadamias, raw 5 102
Macadamias, dry-roasted, salted 5 102
Peanut, raw 10 60
Peanut, dry-roasted, salted 10 86
Pecan halves 10 98
Pine nuts, dried 77 100
Pistachios, dry-roasted, unsalted 29 99
Pistachios, oil-roasted, salted 29 99
Walnuts, dried 13 104

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Diet & Health

Eating Turmeric Could Boost Your Memory And Mood

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Turmeric powder

In the world of superfoods, turmeric is seemingly becoming more and more super by the day. A new study has found that the spice’s active ingredient could boost memory and mood.

The 18-month study — carried out by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry — was the first long-term, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of a bioavailable form of curcumin in non-demented adults. It found that taking a daily dose of curcumin, the compound in turmeric root that gives the spice its yellow color, may not only prevent memory problems from getting worse over time, but actually improve them.

Led by UCLA’s Gary Small, the research team took 40 random people between the ages of 50 and 90 suffering from mild memory problems but not Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia, gave them a twice-daily 90-mg of bioavailable, easily absorbed curcumin supplement or a placebo for 18 months, conducted tests of memory and cognition that included questionnaires to measure mood and depression, and carried out brain scans to analyse the deposition of “brain gunk”—amyloid-beta plaques and tau “tangles,” the two hallmarks of Alzheimer’s.

Because the study was double-blind, even the researchers didn’t know what supplement the participants were given until after the study was over.

They found that those who took the curcumin saw their memory improve by 28% on average over the 18 month trial, while those who took the placebo (the control group) saw their scores rise slightly (possibly because they got more familiar with the tests) and then declined.

The depression scores of those taking curcumin also improved compared to the control group’s, which stayed the same, and brain scans revealed significantly less amyloid and tau accumulation in two of their brain regions — the amygdala and hypothalamus — that control anxiety, memory, decision-making, and emotion.

This lead Small’s team to conclude that taking a bioavailable curcumin supplement daily may lead to improved memory and attention in non-demented adults, which according to Forbes is an exciting discovery considering that it came from a true clinical study and earlier evidence regarding the therapeutic effects of curcumin has been mixed.

Curcuma longa root - Turmeric

It’s not exactly known how curcumin works, but researchers have long observed that people in India have lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, which they think is due in part to the higher intake of turmeric. Small said in a statement:

“Exactly how curcumin exerts its effects is not certain, but it may be due to its ability to reduce brain inflammation, which has been linked to both Alzheimer’s disease and major depression.”

One shortcoming of the study is that it was quite small and the participants were generally healthy, educated, and motivated to complete the long trial, which may not necessarily be a complete reflection of the general population. The team’s next plans to look at whether the supplement may be effective in treating people with major depression rather than memory problems.

The growth of the “food as medicine” movement is evidence of consumers’s growing interest in natural ways to improve their health. And according to Food Dive, while medical foods are still a relatively new category in the food industry, manufacturers have been looking at ways to incorporate curcumin in the formulation of nutraceuticals, dietary supplements, herbals and functional foods and beverages, especially for those consumers who don’t want to cook with turmeric but want ready-to-eat options containing the ingredient.

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