After Three Nights of Poor Sleep, Even Caffeine Can't Help

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THURSDAY, June 16, 2016 (HealthDay News) – Caffeine no longer improves alertness or mental performance after a few nights of sleep restriction, according to a new U.S. military study.

“These results are important, because caffeine is a stimulant widely used to counteract performance decline following periods of restricted sleep,” said lead author Tracy Jill Doty. She is a research scientist at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md.

“The data from this study suggests that the same effective daily dose of caffeine is not sufficient to prevent performance decline over multiple days of restricted sleep,” Doty said in an American Academy of Sleep Medicine news release.

The study included 48 healthy volunteers whose sleep was limited to five hours a night for five nights. The participants took either 200 milligrams of caffeine or an inactive placebo twice a day. (An average cup of coffee has 95 milligrams.) In addition, the volunteers were given mental skills tests every hour while awake.

For the first few days, those who took caffeine had better test results than those who took the placebo. But that was not the case over the last few days of sleep restriction, the researchers found.

“We were particularly surprised that the performance advantage conferred by two daily 200-milligram doses of caffeine was lost after three nights of sleep restriction,” Doty said.

Adults should sleep seven to eight hours each night, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The findings, published online in the journal Sleep, were presented this week at a meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Denver.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on insufficient sleep.

Source: Nutrition

Mediterranean Diet May Cut Your Hip Fracture Risk in Old Age

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MONDAY, March 28, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Eating a Mediterranean diet may at least slightly lower an older woman’s risk for hip fracture, a new study suggests.

Women who most closely followed a Mediterranean diet—one high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains— had a 20 percent lower risk for hip fractures compared to women who didn’t follow this regimen, the researchers found.

The study couldn’t prove cause-and-effect, however. And the researchers stressed that the absolute reduction in risk of a hip fracture for any one woman was still pretty slight—only about a third of one percent.

Nevertheless, “these results support the notion that following a healthy dietary pattern may play a role in the maintenance of bone health in postmenopausal women,” concluded a research team led by Dr. Bernhard Haring of the University of Wurzburg in Germany.

The study was published online March 28 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

One expert in the United States believes that diet can be very important to bone health as people age. However, which diet might be best remains unclear, according to Dr. Michael Hepinstall.

Research “generally supports the idea that adequate nutrition has health benefits that may extend to a lower risk of hip fractures,” said Hepinstall, an orthopedic surgeon at the Lenox Hill Hospital Center for Joint Preservation & Reconstruction, in New York City.

“Nevertheless, the results of this study are not convincing enough to confirm that the Mediterranean diet is best, nor do they suggest that an individual adopting a Mediterranean diet can be confident that they have taken adequate measures to reduce fracture risk,” he said.

In the study, the German team examined the link between diet and bone health in more than 90,000 healthy American women, whose average age was 64. They were tracked for nearly 16 years.

While the team found a slight trend in favor of the Mediterranean diet and a lower risk of hip fracture in particular, the diet did not seem to lower the odds for fractures overall.

There was a bit of good news for people already on the diet, Hepinstall noted. While the Mediterranean diet typically has lower amounts of dairy products than other regimens, that did not seem to harm bone health, he said.

What does help to strengthen women’s bones as they age? According to Hepinstall, low-impact, weight-bearing exercise is encouraged, including tai chi.

“Physicians also typically recommend adequate dietary calcium intake, with supplemental calcium and vitamin D for those who are deficient,” he added. Medications are also prescribed when osteoporosis is diagnosed.

Simple safety measures can also cut the odds of fractures linked to falls, Hepinstall said. Regular vision checks are key, and “within the home, we advise patients to keep an uncluttered path to the bathroom, use a night light, remove throw rugs and other potential sources of falls,” he said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on hip fractures in older adults.

Source: Nutrition

Eat This for Dinner to Sleep Better Tonight

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You probably know from experience that getting a poor night’s sleep can cause you to crave more sugary foods (hello, chocolate croissant). But did you know that what you eat before bed can have a direct impact on the quality of your Zs?

A good deal of recent research has shown that eating patterns can either foster or interfere with healthy slumber. A handful of specific foods have been linked to better sleep, and a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that participants with a higher fiber intake (think fruitsveggieswhole grainspulsesnuts, and seeds) actually spent more time in restorative slow-wave sleep at night. On the other hand, people who ate too little fiber, too much sugar, and excess saturated fat (the kind found in fatty red meat and dairy products) experienced more disturbed sleep.

RELATED: Best and Worst Foods for Sleep 

Given the findings to date, you can’t go wrong with the dinners below: Each meal is high in fiber, low in saturated fat and sugar, and contains at least one food thought to bring on a good night’s rest, such as lentils, leafy greens, salmon, kiwi, sunflower seeds, brown rice, and quinoa.

Getting better sleep—starting tonight—could do your body a world of good. Aside from appetite and weight regulation, sleep is also tied to emotional wellbeing, increased productivity, improved mental and physical performance, and decreased inflammation (a trigger of premature aging and disease).

These four recipes, from my book Slim Down Now ($10,, serve one, though you can easily double or triple them. Bon appétit, and sweet dreams.

Moroccan Lentil Soup

In a medium saucepan over low heat, sauté ¼ cup minced yellow onion in 1 tbsp. coconut oil and 1 tbsp. organic low-sodium vegetable broth until translucent. Add 6 tbsp. of additional broth, ½ cup cauliflower, cut into small florets, 1 tsp. each minced garlic, fresh squeezed lemon juice and Italian herb seasoning, and 1/16 tsp. each ground cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, and coriander. Stir for 3 to 4 minutes. Add a ½ cup water, ½ cup fresh baby spinach leaves, and one diced Roma tomato. Bring to a very brief boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 1o minutes. Add ½ cup of lentils and stir to heat through.

Salmon Avocado “Tacos”

In a medium bowl, combine ½ cup of quartered grape tomatoes (about 16), with a ¼ cup each minced yellow bell pepper and white onion, 1 tsp. minced garlic, 1/16 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro, and 2 tbsp. fresh squeezed lime juice. Toss together and marinate in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Fill three outer romaine leaves each with one ounce of cooked salmon, top with the vegetable mixture, and garnish with a quarter of a sliced avocado. (See photo above.) Have two kiwis for dessert.

RELATED: 30 Sleep Hacks for Your Most Restful Night Ever

Savory Turkey Stuffed Zucchini

Trim stems from one whole, large zucchini. Slice lengthwise, scoop out filling, finely chop, and set aside. Pan brown 3 oz. of extra lean ground turkey and set aside. In a medium pan over low heat, sauté ¼ cup minced red onion in ¼ cup organic low sodium vegetable broth until translucent. Add 1 tsp. minced garlic, 1 tsp. Italian herb seasoning, 1/8 tsp. ground cumin, and the chopped zucchini, and sauté 2 to 3 additional minutes. Add ground turkey and 2 tbsp. of sunflower seeds, and stir to heat through. Spoon mixture into zucchini shell, and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Serve baked zucchini over ½ cup cooked brown rice.

Pesto Egg Salad Lettuce Wraps

Dice four hard boiled eggs, keeping only one of the yolks. In a small bowl toss the eggs with ¼ cup finely chopped red bell pepper, 2 tbsp. minced red onion, and 1 tbsp. of jarred basil pesto to coat thoroughly. Spoon 1 tbsp. cooked, chilled quinoa into four outer romaine leaves, and top with the egg mixture.

Do you have a favorite food that helps you sleep? Chat with us on Twitter by mentioning @goodhealth and @CynthiaSass.

Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Yankees, previously consulted for three other professional sports teams, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Sass is a three-time New York Times best-selling author, and her newest book is Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches with Real Food, Real Fast. Connect with her on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.
Source: Nutrition

5 Toxic Thoughts That Get in the Way of Weight Loss

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Many of the clients I work with have a pretty good handle on what they should be eating. They know which foods are the most nutritious, and they have the access and the resources to make good choices. What often gets in the way, however, is motivation; somewhere along the way the intentions to eat clean lose their “oomph.”

You might think it’s just simple temptationthe overwhelming allure of the donuts in the break room, for example. That’s part of it for sure, but in my experience the root of the problem is simply the way we think about what we eat. To lose weight for the long-run, many people have to change their entire relationship with food.

That’s easier said than done, I know. That’s why I put together a list of top food beliefs that interfere, along with the strategies for overcoming each one.

RELATED: 12 Mental Tricks to Beat Cravings and Lose Weight

“Healthy foods are a chore to eat”

I agree that eating bland “diet” foods can be torture, but a healthy, balanced meal can easily be a feast for your senses.

In order to make clean eating a lifestyle rather than a diet, you have to find food you look forward to eating. This means finding foods and recipes that are healthy, but ones you’d enjoy even if they weren’t. Avocado, veggies roasted in olive oil, almond butter, dark chocolate, hummus, and juicy in-season fruits come to mind for me. It might take some experimenting for you to find yours, but it will be worth it once you do, trust me.

“I can’t get full from a healthy meal.”

Many people I counsel don’t actually know what a “healthy” amount of fullness feels like. Because of a tendency to overeat, a lot of people associate the feeling of being too full, or stuffed and sleepy with satisfaction, so meals that result in feeling “just right” seem lacking somehow.

To overcome this, you have to re-calibrate how you define satisfaction. After you eat, you should feel physically well afterwards, like you could go dancing, or for a long walk. At the same time re-classify your former notion of “satisfied” as excessive. This one shift can change what and how much you decide to eat, not due to rules or “shoulds,” but because of how you want to feel afterwards.

When “balanced” is your new “satisfied” you won’t want to overdo it.

RELATED: 17 No-Diet Tricks to Keep Off Holiday Weight

“Food makes me happy”

We are practically taught from birth to use food to feel better emotionally. We use food to bond, show affection, reward, celebrate, and comfort. Many advertisements play up this connection, and it’s completely socially acceptable to gift the people you care about with food, commiserate over it, or eat as entertainment. Food truly is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and that’s totally normal.

What isn’t normal, though, is using food as your primary mood booster. I’ve seen clients pay a lot of money for healthy meal delivery services only to eat extras, not because they were hungry, but because they needed a boost after having a rough day at work. You can’t break this pattern overnight, but you can systematically change it.

Start by focusing on the moments you’re tempted to reach for food when you’re not hungry. Zero in on your emotions, and test out different non-food ways of addressing your feelings, whether that’s reaching for the phone to call a loved one or hitting the gym.

You may find that a total re-haul of your habits isn’t required. One of my clients who loved her ritual of brunching with friends to blow off steam learned to enjoy the experience just as much over healthier, lighter fare when she realized that spending time with friends was really what made her happy, not the stacks of pancakes or extra sides of bacon.

“I don’t have enough time”

I hear this a lot, and I can relate. As much as I love to cook and develop recipes I often only have a few minutes to make a meal. On these days, I don’t think about cooking, I think about how I can “assemble” something healthy and filling by combining a few shortcut ingredients.

One of my go-tos is a quick lean protein (like canned tuna or ready to eat vacuum sealed lentils from the produce section) tossed with a little Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, and dried Italian herb seasoning, over a bed of greens topped with either sliced avocado or chopped nuts and a side of fresh fruit. Even a smoothie can stand in for a meal if you don’t have time to cook. Stocking your freezer and pantry with items that require little prep can prevent you from resorting to pizza.

RELATED: Lose Weight With a Busy Schedule

“It’s too hard to be different”

One of the most challenging obstacles my clients face is feeling like healthy eating makes them an outsider, and it’s totally natural to feel this way. When everyone around you is eating whatever they want, as much as they want, it can feel isolating to be the only one with special requirements.

I’ve been in that boat many times, but what makes it OK is believing that what I’m getting out of the effort is more valuable than the comfort of going along with the crowd. The truth is the typical American diet just isn’t healthy. You don’t have to be the girl harping on that fact at the next get-together, but you can remind yourself in the moment that you are making choices that are right for you.

When you want to be healthy and feel well more than you want to be in “the norm” you won’t mind standing out from the crowd.

What’s your take on this topic? Chat with us on Twitter by mentioning @goodhealth and @CynthiaSass.

Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Yankees, previously worked with three other professional sports teams, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Cynthia is a three-time New York Times best-selling author, and her brand new book is Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches with Real Food, Real Fast. Connect with her on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.
Source: Nutrition

117 Supplement Makers Hit With Criminal and Civil Charges

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WEDNESDAY, Nov. 18, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Criminal charges and civil injunctions have been filed against 117 makers and/or distributors of potentially dangerous dietary supplements, U.S. government agencies announced Tuesday.

One of the targets of the investigation — conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Justice and other federal agencies — was USPlabs LLC of Dallas, which sold popular workout and weight loss supplements.

The government says USPlabs and its executives claimed to use natural plant extracts in products called Jack3d and OxyElite Pro. However, they actually used a synthetic stimulant made in a Chinese chemical factory and knew of studies that linked these products to liver toxicity, the government said.

In October 2013, USPlabs said it would stop distribution of OxyElite Pro because it had been linked to an outbreak of liver damage. However, the company then tried to sell as much of the product as quickly as possible at dietary supplement stores nationwide, according to an FDA news release.

“The criminal charges against USPlabs should serve as notice to industry that if products are a threat to public health, the FDA will exercise its full authority under the law to protect Americans and bring justice,” Howard Sklamberg, FDA deputy commissioner for global regulatory operations and policy, said in the news release.

The chemical in the USPlabs products is aegeline, a synthetic version of a chemical found in a tree that grows in parts of Asia. Liver damage in some people who used the products was so severe that they required liver transplants, and one person died, the FDA said.

The USPlabs defendants were arrested or surrendered to the U.S. Marshals Service on Tuesday, and federal agents seized assets in dozens of investment accounts, real estate and other items.

As part of the investigation, another complaint was filed in federal court against Bethel Nutritional Consulting Inc., along with the company’s president and vice president. The complaint alleges Bethel and its executives distributed tainted and misbranded dietary supplements and unapproved new drugs nationwide, federal officials said.

Some of the products marketed by Bethel contained potentially harmful drugs, including sibutramine and lorcaserin, the FDA said. Sibutramine was the active ingredient in the obesity drug Meridia, which was removed from the U.S. market in 2010 due to the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Lorcaserin is the active ingredient in the obesity drug Belviq, which was approved by the FDA in 2012. Lorcaserin can cause serious side effects, however, particularly when taken with certain depression and migraine medications, and may also cause attention or memory problems, the FDA said.

Within the last year, the FDA has issued warnings to consumers about more than 100 dietary supplements found to contain hidden active ingredients. Many of the products are marketed for weight loss, body building and sexual enhancement, the agency said.

Also over the last year, the agency has sent warning letters to companies selling dietary supplements that contain BMPEA and DMBA, two ingredients that do not meet the legal definition of a dietary ingredient.

Warning letters have also been sent to several companies selling pure powdered caffeine products that pose a risk of illness or injury to consumers, the FDA said.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about dietary supplements.

Source: Nutrition

5 Easy Swaps to Get More Fiber and Boost Weight Loss

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When you think about “slimming” foods beans probably don’t spring to mind. Most people think of green salads and lean proteins as the keys to shedding pounds, while forgetting about how much beans, and the larger food group they belong to called pulses (which also include lentils and peas), can bolster weight loss.

In fact, there’s a ton of research about the ability of these gems to help. Evidence that pulses help boost calorie and fat burning, curb hunger, and reduce belly fat led me to recommend a daily serving as one of the key strategies in my newest book Slim Down Now. And the science just keeps piling up.

For example, a new study from the University of Minnesota found that the fiber in beans can keep you feeling surprisingly full. Researchers asked men and women to test two “meatloaf” lunches, made from either beef or beans. Both meals provided an equal number of calories and fat grams, but differed in protein and fiber, with the meat loaf providing 26 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber, and the bean version 17 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber. Despite the beef meatloaf’s higher protein content, three hours after eating, both groups reported similar feelings of fullness and satisfaction.

This bonus fiber has been proven to help you slim down: each additional gram of fiber consumed can lead to an extra quarter-pound of weight loss, a 2009 study found. Other research shows that every gram of fiber we eat essentially “cancels out” about seven calories, because fiber bonds to some of the calories consumed, and prevents them from being absorbed into the blood.

Fortunately beans (and all pulses) are also gluten-free, affordable, readily available, and incredibly versatileOh yeah, and they’re chock full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Bottom line: eating more beans is a simple and sustainable way to shed pounds and keep them off. Try these five easy (and delicious) ways to work them into your regular eating routine.

RELATED: 16 Ways to Lose Weight Fast

Use beans in place of or with meat

Aside from being far less expensive (extra lean ground beef costs about $9 a pound compared to just $1 for a can of beans) and better for the environment, using beans in place of meat is also a major time-saver. Use black, pinto, or white beans instead of meat in anything from taco salads to chili, or even as the study suggested, “meatloaf.” I use whole or mashed beans in a wide variety of dishes, including burgers, lasagna, and stuffed peppers. Another option is to cut your meat portion in half and fill the rest with beans.

Swap beans for other starches

Because beans provide both protein and fiber-rich carbohyrdrates they serve double dutyyou can use them in place of animal protein, or as a replacement for traditional starches, like rice, corn, or potatoes. They work well as a side dish or incorporated into recipes. For example, in soups I often use beans instead of pasta or noodles, or toss them in a salad instead of quinoa. I’ve even served stir-frys over a small bed of beans rather than brown rice.

Swap dairy for beans

Pureed whole beans or bean flours, like fava, black, or white bean flour, make ideal bases or thickeners for creamy sauces and soups, and using them instead of whole milk or cream, along with water can slash hundreds of excess calories. In many dishes mashed beans can also take the place of cheeses. For example, in veggie lasagna I trade ricotta cheese for mashed white beans, seasoned with garlic and Italian herbs.

RELATED: Best Superfoods for Weight Loss

Eat beans as a snack

In addition to bean dips and hummus scooped up with raw veggies you can also oven roast beans on a baking sheet for a hearty, crunchy snack. Try different combos, like black beans sprinkled with chipotle seasoning, or white beans with rosemary or curry. Bean soups, or chilled bean side dishes, marinated in balsamic vinaigrette with chopped veggies, also make filling and nutrient-rich substitutes for processed options that can zap energy or leave you feeling unsatisfied.

Use beans in dessert recipes

You’ve probably heard of black bean brownies or even bean ice cream, both of which are delicious. It may be hard to believe at first, but trust me, there are plenty of yummy ways to incorporate beans into sweet treats.

I use them in puddings, smoothies, and frozen popsnot only are they undetectable flavor wise, but they add a thick, rich texture that seriously ups the satisfaction factor to a level that rivals traditional versions of these goodies. In baking, you can use bean flour in place of all-purpose to get that same texture. Plus, this makes your treats gluten-free, and is yet another simple (and fun) way to up your fiber intake.

What’s your take on this topic? Chat with us on Twitter by mentioning @goodhealth and @CynthiaSass.

Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Yankees, previously worked with three other professional sports teams, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Cynthia is a three-time New York Times best-selling author, and her brand new book is Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches with Real Food, Real Fast. Connect with her on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.
Source: Nutrition

The Amount of Water You Actually Need Per Day

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Eight, 8 oz. glasses of water a day: it’s a rule that’s been burned into our brains for years as the ideal amount of fluid to drink each day. Yet no matter how many times experts say that’s not quite accurate, many still believe “8×8” is the magic amount.

The truth: How much water you should drink each day really, truly depends on the person, Robert A. Huggins, PhD, of the University of Connecticut explained to Health. “Fluid needs are dynamic and need to be individualized from person to person. Factors such as sex, environmental conditions, level of heat acclimatization, exercise or work intensity, age, and even diet need to be considered.”

What this means is that simply listening to your thirst is the best way to gauge when to drink. Another way to monitor hydration is to look at your pee before you flush. You want it to look like lemonade; if it’s darker than that, you should down a glass.

RELATED: 7 Easy Ways to Drink More Water

But what about exercise?

To gauge how much water you specifically should take in during exercise, Huggins recommends doing a small experiment on yourself.

First, before you work out weigh yourself wearing with little to no clothing. “If you can, [make sure you’re hydrated beforehand] and avoid drinking while you exercise to make the math easy,” Huggins says. But if you get thirsty, don’t ignore it: drink some and make sure to measure the amount.

After you’re done exercising, weigh yourself again. Then, take your first weight and subtract the second weight, and you’ll end up with how much fluid you lost. Convert this to kilograms (if you search it, Google will return the number for you or try a metric converter), then drink that amount in liters. (If you drank some water during exercise, subtract the amount of water you drank from your final total.)

RELATED: 14 Surprising Causes of Dehydration

This is your “sweat rate,” Huggins says. It’s the amount of water you should drink during or after your next workout to replace what you’ve lost. (You can also use an online calculator for sweat rate; just plug in your numbers.)

Complicated much? We agree. Huggins estimates that most people lose between one to two liters of sweat for each hour of moderate intensity exercise. But ultimately thirst should still be your guide.

Why it’s important to get the right amount

You already know that dehydration can be dangerous, but over-hydrating may actually be just as bad.

RELATED: 12 Reasons Why Dehydration Is Bad for Your Body

In fact, a new consensus report in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that many athletes are at risk of exercise-associated hyponatremia, which is an electrolyte imbalance that can be caused by drinking too much liquid. This can lead to nausea and vomiting, headaches, fatigue, and in serious cases, coma and even death.

While it was previously thought to only be a concern for long-distance athletes competing in events like marathons and Ironmans, the paper (which was funded by CrossFit, Inc.) concluded that many athletes are actually dangerously over-drinking during events as short as 10K races and even bikram yoga classes, Tamara Hew-Butler, PhD, lead author of the paper, explained to Health.

Because “it is impossible to recommend a generalized range especially during exercise when conditions are dynamic and changing, there is not one size that fits all!” she adds.

So the best method to keep you in that sweet spot between over- and under-hydrated is, as with many things, to listen to your body.

RELATED: Fat Water Is Now a Thing
Source: Nutrition

Addressing Stubborn Back Pain: 5 Exercises that Address the Deep Anatomy

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Mobility, stability and strength are all important factors in having healthy spinal alignment. When working with sedentary or untrained individuals, b…
Source: Fitness

Leveraging your ACE Certification to Change Lives

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Many, if not most, employers require exercise professionals to hold a current certification. In addition, exercise professionals often include th…
Source: Fitness

What Makes a Great Athletic Coach?

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With 31% of American adults who take part in at least one sport, an expertise in sports conditioning will help you with a wide range of clie…
Source: Fitness