A healthier hot dog?

With lots of hot dogs out there, it should be easy to choose a relatively healthy one, right?

Not necessarily. Even "healthier" hot dogs may not be better for you, says Carolyn Brown, a registered dietitian and nutritionist at Foodtrainers, in New York City. "It comes down to the quality of the meat, the processing, and the other added ingredients."

Brown recommends hot dogs with less than 150 calories and fewer than 14 grams of fat (with no more than 6 grams saturated). Sodium should not exceed 450 milligrams. Here's our list of the best-and worst-hot dogs.

By Anne Harding

Paleo Diet Article in Sound Consumer

I recently wrote an article for my local natural foods grocery store, PCC, about the "Paleolithic" diet.  You can read it online here.  I explain the basic rationale for Paleo diets, some of the scientific support behind it, and how it can be helpful for people with certain health problems.  I focused in particular on the research of Dr. Staffan Lindeberg at the University of Lund, who has studied non-industrial populations using modern medical techniques and also conducted clinical diet trials using the Paleo diet.
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How to choose effective workout machines to tone yourself?

You enter a gym and see rows of cardiovascular equipments - treadmills, stair steppers, elliptical machines, rowing machines, cross chain trainers and many more. Almost immediately you assume these are all lean machines your body needs. But, how far do you think your assumption is right?

When you are out to choose a machine to get in shape, there are three things you need to consider:
  • a machine that will get you fit,
  • that will help you burn most calories
  • And a device designed to do so without impacting your joints.
Although these are the key concerns, the fact is the most effective workout machines are the ones you choose weighing just one question -which is the machine that I would really want to workout on?

Not all of us hunting for a workout machine get inspired by the one our neighbour got hooked on to, and hence, it is the worst thing to do if we pick workout machines on mere peer pressure / recommendations. Just like your clothes, and the food we eat, workout machines need a personal choice much over what others vouch for. However, here's a quick glance into all the background information needed before you pick what suits you best:

The reason why you find this machine almost in every gym is because of its effectivity and comfort. It burns most calories than any other cardiovascular machines. It is the best pick if you are someone who takes up brisk walking, you can expect burning about 100 calories per mile.

Also, treadmill is a very adaptable workout machine which can help you from walking to running straight or on the incline.

However, if the machine doesn't feel right for you, it could be for the possible chances to burn out your knee joints. And if you are new on the exercising block, it can possibly throw you off balance. But treadmills are the mainstay for fitness and weight loss.

Ellipticals and Stair steppers
These are known as less risk alternatives to the treadmill as they are kinder on the joints. And, the rigorous use of muscle mass helps to burn high amount of calories.

Look for variations like ellipticals with arm components that can push you to burn more calories.

Stationary Bikes
These are the best pair of wheels you can get to burn all you excess fat. These work on problem areas like the hips and thighs. Contrary to the popular sentiment that these bikes affect the knee joints, this workout machine can have the least impact on joints if the bike is adjusted according to your body. Once, the seat height matches your body, this machine though a less intense calorie-burner can burn up to 100 calories if you pedal four miles.

Flex Belts and Trx training
Flex belts are gaining popularity due to its ease of operation. All you need to do is wear the belt around your waist and go about doing your work. It automatically burns calories and helps in weight loss. Flex belt is an ab toner and when you wear it you'll feel a sense of rhythmic vibration that will make your muscles contract and relax helping you in burning calories.

Trx training is very popular in military training to keep people fit. Nowadays there are several fitness centres that have adopted this technique for weight loss.

Trap Table
Used in traditional Pilates, the stretches at trap table can tone your body by burning around 100 calories in 30 minutes. This is a simple machine to get more than just cardiovascular workout. It is a multitasking workout machine that helps to reach difficult areas like abs, inner thighs and rear.

Author Bio - As a health and fitness writer, Latasri is passionate about fitness and weight loss. Besides she also writes about candida symptoms and threelac review for yeast infection cure.

Insulin and Obesity: Another Nail in the Coffin

There are several versions of the insulin hypothesis of obesity, but the versions that are most visible to the public generally state that elevated circulating insulin (whether acute or chronic) increases body fatness.  Some versions invoke insulin's effects on fat tissue, others its effects in the brain.  This idea has been used to explain why low-carbohydrate and low-glycemic-index diets can lead to weight loss (although frankly, glycemic index per se doesn't seem to have much if any impact on body weight in controlled trials). 

I have explained in various posts why this idea does not appear to be correct (1, 2, 3), and why, after extensive research, the insulin hypothesis of obesity lost steam by the late 1980s.  However, I recently came across two experiments that tested the hypothesis as directly as it can be tested-- by chronically increasing circulating insulin in animals and measuring food intake and body weight and/or body fatness.  If the hypothesis is correct, these animals should gain fat, and perhaps eat more as well. 

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Symptoms of depression

Stress can lead to you to feeling 'down' and 'miserable'. What is different about a depressive illness is that these feelings last for weeks or months, rather than days.

In addition to feeling low most or all of the time, many other symptoms can occur in depressive illness (though not everybody has every one).
  • Being unable to gain pleasure from activities that normally would be pleasurable.
  • Losing interest in normal activities, hobbies and everyday life.
  • Feeling tired all of the time and having no energy.
  • Difficulty sleeping or waking early in the morning (though some feel that they can't get out of bed and 'face the world').
  • Having a poor appetite, no interest in food and losing weight (though some people overeat and put on weight  'comfort eating').
  • Losing interest in sex.
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate and think straight.
  • Feeling restless, tense and anxious.
  • Being irritable.
  • Losing self-confidence.
  • Avoiding other people.
  • Finding it harder than usual to make decisions.
  • Feeling useless and inadequate - 'a waste of space'.
  • Feeling guilty about who you are and what you have done.
  • Feeling hopeless - that nothing will make things better.
  • Thinking about suicide - this is very common. If you feel this way, talk to somebody about it. If you think somebody else might be thinking this way, ask them about it - it will not make them more likely to commit suicide.

Stress Related Back Pain is a Relatively Modern Diagnosis

Stress-related back pain is a relatively modern diagnosis although the concept of muscular pain caused by tension is not a new one. Stress of both the physical and psychological sort can make the painful symptoms of any injury worse but 'stress-related back pain' is a term used for pain caused by stress above all other factors.

For many the idea of thoughts and feelings causing a physical problem seems unlikely, but this is well established in medicine. Stress causes many changes in the body and predisposes to conditions such as gastritis, high blood pressure and heart disease. In addition, it causes a build up of tension throughout the body.

Stress-related back pain is thought to relate to this tension. You may have read that back pain can be caused by muscle spasm in the back. This spasm is worsened by tension in the muscles and is a target for interventions such as stretches to the back and physiotherapy.

Stress could trigger pain in the back by creating tension and spasm in the back muscles but then can also be a part of a vicious cycle of worsening back pain. Individuals suffering from daily stress are more likely to avoid gentle exercise and relaxation. As the back pain manifests itself, some people will choose to withdraw from exercise altogether or work longer and harder as the pain limits productivity.

The key to beating back pain is identifying the vicious cycle and taking action to break it. Key to this is reducing stress levels but also increasing light activity, stretching and other exercises. For many people, stress starts at work. When trying to make a change at work thinking beyond just the workload and the obvious psychological stress, ensure you also consider the physical stress your job. If you work at a desk - ensure you're on a good ergonomic chair, perhaps you need a footrest, perhaps your computer screen is too high or too small?

Almost all pain is made worse by stress and back pain in particular can respond to a concerted effort to beat this vicious cycle. Make lots of small changes to your work and lifestyle and you'll be on your way to beating back pain.

Visit my blog for more information on beating back pain at The Back Surgery.

What Causes Insulin Resistance? Part VII

In previous posts, I outlined the factors I'm aware of that can contribute to insulin resistance.  In this post, first I'll list the factors, then I'll provide my opinion of effective strategies for preventing and potentially reversing insulin resistance.

The factors

These are the factors I'm aware of that can contribute to insulin resistance, listed in approximate order of importance.  I could be quite wrong about the order-- this is just my best guess. Many of these factors are intertwined with one another. 
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Why Count Calories? Because Health is Wealth

Many people try to avoid counting calories when trying to achieve weight loss. There are so many new weight loss methods today that it might seem like this is actually possible, especially when some diets specifically advertise that you won't have to count calories at all. In my opinion, this is like a financial self-help book that claims you can get rich without paying any attention to how much you earn or spend. Would you be tempted to believe such a claim?

Calorie counting is budgeting for the body
Even if you have no idea exactly what percentage of your income you spend on your rent, chances are you do keep a budget in your mind, if you're the average responsible adult. This means having a rough idea of how much you can splurge before it's going to land you in trouble. You've probably experienced both sides of the equation-getting into debt as well as having a savings account. The more experience you accumulate, the better equipped you are to judge how much you can spend and how much you need to save. You just can't get away from the basic truth that earning more than you spend equals savings, and that spending more than you earn equals debt.

Weight management is just like that. You have total freedom in deciding what, when, and how to eat your food, but you can't escape the basic truth that eating more than you burn equals weight gain and that burning more than you eat equals weight loss. It's not a theory, a special dieting method, or something someone invented to make you miserable-it's just plain physics.

Calorie counting is NOT a weight loss method
Surprised to hear that? Well, it's true. It could help you lose weight, gain weight, or maintain your weight, but calorie counting is not a weight loss method the same way budgeting is not a way to get rich-it is simply the foundation and basis for weight management the same way budgeting is the basis of money management. It's a tool you can use to see where you can improve your lifestyle choices to achieve what you want to achieve. Feel free to try any diet that sounds good to you-calorie counting still applies. Feel free to try out the latest fitness routine-calorie counting is as important as ever. While you can change your diet and fitness habits without counting calories, you'll be at a loss if for some reason they stop working. You won't know where it went wrong. At the end of the story you could have twenty diets that "just don't work" for you without having any idea why they failed. To use a financial analogy again, it's like buying and selling stocks without ever looking at the stock market. If you wouldn't entrust your finances to Lady Luck, why entrust her with your health?

Calorie counting is not an extreme last-resort measure
If the word "budget" revives in you traumatic memories of math class in grade school, consider this: you probably budget without ever realizing it. Unless you go through life blissfully unaware of the cost of foods, furniture, clothes, and so on, you probably frequently make choices based on what you think you can afford. If you ever treat yourself to something, whether it's an ice cream or a spa treatment, it's because you know that doing it on a daily basis would break the bank. That's budgeting!

Similarly, calorie counting can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Some people, like athletes and body-builders, want to know exactly where each calorie is going. They may spend hours planning the week's menu or reading and calculating fat percentages. For other people who have no issues with their weight, it may be enough to know that some foods, like chocolate-covered donuts, are very high in calories and low on nutrition. However, most people fall somewhere in the middle. We need to have a rough idea of how much we are actually ingesting per day and compare it to a rough idea of how much we are burning. If you fall into that group, there's great news in store for you.

Calorie counting is so much easier today
Even just a generation ago, no one had mobile devices that could keep track of calories in and calories out. There was no "app" for anything-a notebook and a pencil were your best bet. Besides that, calorie counting usually meant reading nutrition labels, doing the math, and looking up exercises in some kind of chart to calculate calories burned. Today, there are online calorie counters with huge databases of food items and activities so all you have to enter is how much you ate or exercised. That's it! In return, you get all kinds of charts and graphs showing you your progress and what you need to do to achieve your goals. It doesn't get much simpler or easier than that.

It's been said that "Health is wealth," but I would go even further to say that health is our greatest wealth. Responsible money management is all well and good, but your weight management is far more important. By budgeting for your body, you can avoid the high health risks associated with being overweight, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. A few minutes every day on your computer or mobile device to make sure you're nutritionally on track-wouldn't you say it's worth it?

About the author: Varsha Aditya is a writer for the popular calorie counter website CaloriesAndMore.com which promotes healthy and sustainable weight loss without all the impossible rules of fad diets. Visit us to find more articles about sustainable weight loss, and see how CaloriesAndMore.com's huge database of foods and activities can make calorie counting a breeze.

Three Announcements

Chris Highcock of the blog Conditioning Research just published a book called Hillfit, which is a conditioning book targeted at hikers/backpackers.  He uses his knowledge and experience in hiking and conditioning to argue that strength training is an important part of conditioning for hiking.  I'm also a hiker/backpacker myself here in the rugged and beautiful Pacific Northwest, and I also find that strength training helps with climbing big hills, and walking farther and more easily with a lower risk of injury.

Richard Nikoley of the blog Free the Animal has also published a book called Free the Animal: Beyond the Blog, where he shares his strategies for losing fat and improving health and fitness.  I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but Richard has a reasonable perspective on diet/health and a sharp wit. 

Also, my friend Pedro Bastos has asked me to announce a one-day seminar at the University of Lisbon (Portugal) by Dr. Frits Muskiet titled "Vitamins and Minerals: A Scientific, Modern, Evolutionary and Global View".  It will be on Sunday, Feb 5-- you can find more details about the seminar here.  Dr. Muskiet is a researcher at the Groningen University Medical Center in the Netherlands.  He studies the impact of nutrients, particularly fatty acids, on health, from an evolutionary perspective.  Wish I could attend. 

Gallbladder Problems during Pregnancy

Many women experience gallbladder problems during pregnancy. We will describe some of the most common gallbladder problems that can occur during and after pregnancy. Various changes take place in a woman's body during pregnancy. Hormonal activity will change, which will affect other activities in the body. HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is produced by a woman's placenta. This hormone will help in the embryo development during the early stages of pregnancy. This hormone is responsible for fatigue and early sickness during pregnancy. Estrogen is another hormone created by the placenta and ovaries that increases during this period. It is responsible for normal development of baby's lungs, reproductive organs, and kidneys. Progesterone is created by the placenta and ovaries, and it is involved in the implantation of the ovum. This hormone is responsible for breast tenderness during pregnancy, but it can also cause headaches, constipation, as well as mood swings.

As you can see, many changes take place in the body during pregnancy. Some of the hormones affect the gallbladder, too.

Gallbladder Problems after Pregnancy

Gallbladder symptoms can be very similar to normal symptoms of pregnancy. First, let us describe the most common symptoms of gallbladder disorders.

Gallbladder disorders are usually characterized by symptoms like:
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Belching
  • Bloating
As you can see, many of these symptoms are very similar to those of pregnancy. During pregnancy, most women have symptoms like abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Therefore, it is very hard to tell whether these symptoms indicate a gallbladder problem, or they are simply caused by pregnancy. It is important to go to your doctor regularly and control your health, especially if you are pregnant.

Generally, women are more prone to gallbladder disorders than men are, and pregnancy puts women at higher risk. The risk of gallbladder problems is increased during pregnancy because of the hormones.

Here is how some hormones affect your gallbladder. Progesterone levels in a woman's body will be increased during pregnancy. This hormone relaxes the muscles, so it also affects the gallbladder, reducing its contractions. That can stop the gallbladder from releasing the bile, and that can lead to various complications.

Gallbladder disorders will likely occur in the 3rd trimester. Most of these problems won't affect the baby's health; however, the consequences can cause problems to the baby's health. Gallbladder infection can prevent the mother's body from nourishing itself – and the baby.

Gallbladder problems should be treated in time. Proper treatment will prevent various complications, so it is important to have your gallbladder examined frequently during pregnancy.

In serious cases, gallbladder removal can be done. Even if you are pregnant, the risk of compilations after the surgery is quite low. However, it is very important to follow your doctor's instructions.

Certain problems may also occur after pregnancy. The body will experience certain changes once again; hormonal chances will take place, and this can also cause gallbladder problems. Weight loss after pregnancy may cause gallstones.

A pregnant woman must take care of her diet, especially if she has gallbladder problems. As you know, pregnant women are always advised to eat healthy foods. If you have gallbladder problems and you are pregnant, you must avoid alcohol, caffeine, fatty foods, junk foods, artificial sweeteners and hydrogenated oils. These foods are unhealthy anyway, so it will be wise to avoid them. Consuming plenty of fruits, vegetables, natural juices, whole grains, lean meat and non-fat dairy products will be healthy for both you and your baby, and this diet will also help you prevent gallbladder problems.

The author of the above article Jonathan Carter writes about Symptoms of Gall Bladder and other problems it can cause

What Causes Insulin Resistance? Part VI

In this post, I'll explore a few miscellaneous factors that can contribute to insulin resistance: smoking, glucocorticoids/stress, cooking temperature, age, genetics and low birth weight.


Smoking tobacco acutely and chronically reduces insulin sensitivity (1, 2, 3), possibly via:
  1. Increased inflammation
  2. Increased circulating free fatty acids (4)
Paradoxically, since smoking also protects against fat gain, in the very long term it may not produce as much insulin resistance as one would otherwise expect.  Diabetes risk is greatly elevated in the three years following smoking cessation (5), and this is likely due to the fat gain that occurs.  This is not a good excuse to keep smoking, because smoking tobacco is one of the most unhealthy things you can possibly do.  But it is a good reason to tighten up your diet and lifestyle after quitting.

Read more »

The Fertility Smoothie Recipe

Today, many women are relying on the free sperm donation online as their last resort of getting pregnant. Well, if one can really get pregnant with these sperm donations online, then, this is probably the best how to get pregnant fast tips that one can apply.

However, if the problem lies on the husband due to lack of sperm count, they should stop worrying now and start making their delicious fertility smoothie. You read it right! A delectable beverage is the answer. The man behind this wonderful creation is Trent Arsenault.

Trent is a 36-year old computer engineer. He has been donating his sperm since 2006. According to him, he had already fathered 14 healthy children. Included in those 14 children is a set of twins.

To make sure that he gave his client the healthiest and the most potent product, he followed a strict physical regimen. Other than the physical regimen, he is also into organic diet, where he eats organic foods, which include a homemade fertility smoothie. He drinks his deliciously made smoothie twice a day.

He said that, his smoothie has all the ingredients from anti-oxidants to amino acids, to fructose and more. Arsenault thinks that all the ingredients he has for the smoothie has an important role to play to improve sperm count and fertility. These ingredients made Arsenault hopeful enough to produce healthy babies. Arsenault is not a medical practitioner but he firmly believes that his sperm count is approximately four times higher than an average person is.

Of course, you definitely would want to try this if you are trying to get pregnant but have no luck. If you are tired of following those how to get pregnant fast tips that actually did not work, then this could be your chance to conceive.

Fertility Smoothie Recipe
  1. 4.4 oz Organic Blueberries
  2. 1 medium sized Organic Banana peeled
  3. 1/10 Fresh Pineapple
  4. 5 Medium sized fresh or frozen Cherries
  5. 2 tbsp Organic Flax seed (ground in coffee grinder) or 1 tsp organic flax oil
  6. 3/4Cup Organic Almond milk
  7. 3/4Cup Organic, Raw Cow's milk or skimmed Milk
  8. 1/2tbsp Raw/Organic Cocoa powder
  9. 1/82 tsp total of Raw, Lolcal, Organic Honey and/or Organic Manuka honey
  10. 1 medium-sized Organic Lemon juice
  11. 1/4tsp Raw, Organic Vanilla bean powder
  12. 1 medium-sized Organic Kiwi (peeled)
  13. Pinch of Raw, Organic Ground Cinnamon
All you have to do is to blend ingredients for about 20 seconds in your blender. You can also substitute fruits when in season or when locally available like blueberries with raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, and more. Drink the smoothie twice a day, once in the morning before exercise and once in the evening.

What Causes Insulin Resistance? Part V

Previously in this series, we've discussed the role of cellular energy excess, inflammation, brain insulin resistance, and micronutrient status in insulin resistance.  In this post, I'll explore the role of macronutrients and sugar in insulin sensitivity.

Carbohydrate and Fat

There are a number of studies on the effect of carbohydrate:fat ratios on insulin sensitivity, but many of them are confounded by fat loss (e.g., low-carbohydrate and low-fat weight loss studies), which almost invariably improves insulin sensitivity.  What interests me the most is to understand what effect different carbohydrate:fat ratios have on insulin sensitivity in healthy, weight stable people.  This will get at what causes insulin resistance in someone who does not already have it.

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Missed Naps Could Put Toddlers at Risk for Mood Disorders

Toddlers who miss daytime naps may be at increased risk for mood disorders later in life, a new study indicates.

Researchers looked at toddlers aged 30 months to 36 months and found that depriving them of a single daily nap resulted in more anxiety, lower levels of joy and interest, and reduced problem-solving abilities.

"Many young children today are not getting enough sleep, and for toddlers, daytime naps are one way of making sure their 'sleep tanks' are set to full each day," study leader Monique LeBourgeois, an assistant professor in the integrative physiology department at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said in a university news release.

"This study shows insufficient sleep in the form of missing a nap taxes the way toddlers express different feelings, and, over time, may shape their developing emotional brains and put them at risk for lifelong, mood-related problems," she explained.

The researchers videotaped the emotional expressions of toddlers while they worked on solvable and unsolvable picture puzzles on two different days. One day, the test was conducted an hour after the toddlers had their normal 90-minute daytime nap. On another day, the toddlers were deprived of their naps and tested an hour after their normal nap time.

When they were nap-deprived, the toddlers had a 34 percent decrease in positive emotional responses after completing the solvable puzzles, a 31 percent increase in negative emotional responses when they were unable to complete the unsolvable puzzles, and a 39 percent decrease in the expression of confusion when they tried to complete the unsolvable puzzles.

"Confusion is not bad - it's a complex emotion showing a child knows something does not add up," LeBourgeois noted. "When well-slept toddlers experience confusion, they are more likely to elicit help from others, which is a positive, adaptive response indicating they are cognitively engaged with their world."

Overall, according to the release, the study shows that missing a daytime nap may make it more difficult for toddlers to take full advantage of exciting and interesting experiences and to adapt to new frustrations.

"Just like good nutrition, adequate sleep is a basic need that gives children the best chance of getting what is most important from the people and things they experience each day.

Affects Women Differently Than Man

Recent research has shown that the effects of alcohol have some significant difference on women when compared to men.

Some of the physical effects noted had been dead women become addicted and develop illnesses that are related to alcohol at a much higher rate. These include: malnutrition, anemia, liver damage, hypertension, ulcers, heart damage, and brain damage. It has also shown to be true that women who drink heavily developed cirrhosis of the liver earlier on in their drinking and with lesser levels of alcohol consumed, when compared to men.

One study followed 100 women and discovered that 11 years after they had been put in the hospital for alcoholism discovered that fully one third of them had died. Causes of death were, in the name, alcohol related diseases, accidents, and violence. The lifespans of this group of women averaged 15 years lower than the average population.

Drinking heavily can also alter a woman's endocrine system leading to irregularities of the menstrual cycle, amenorrhea, ( which is the absence of menstrual cycles), early menopause, and infertility. These endocrine system defects can occur in any age including the teen years.

In general, heavy drinking or alcoholism has significant impact on a woman's physical body.