Fertility and Diet

April 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Biotechnology, Obesity

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It’s National Infertility Awareness Week. According to the National Infertility Association, about 30% of infertility can be attributed to female factors, 30% to male factors, 20% is unexplained and 10% is caused by a combination of problems in both partners.

While there are many potential causes of infertility, weight may play a role. Women who are very thin or obese are less likely to conceive than those who are in a healthy weight range.

According to The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) 12% of all infertility are a result of a woman weighing either too little or too much. Too much body fat results in overproduction of estrogen and too little body fat leads to underproduction of estrogen. Both result in hormonal changes in the body that disrupt ovulation and reduce likelihood of conception.

When it comes to fertility and diet, ASRM states that there is no evidence to support diet changes in women with a healthy body weight (body mass index 19-25) who have regular periods.

There are however a few dietary considerations that may be linked to infertility, regardless of BMI:

  • A diet high in mercury (found in seafood)
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol consumption (more than 2 drinks per day in women)
  • Heavy caffeine intake
  • Recreational drug use

If you are considering pregnancy, reducing alcohol and caffeine intake and avoiding smoking and recreational drugs are the dietary considerations that you should be making. To learn more about fertility take the Fertility Myths quiz from www.myfertilityfacts.com.

Does Your Shape Matter More Than the Number on the Scale?

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For individuals struggling with overweight and obesity, focusing on body mass index (BMI) or the number of the scale may be the wrong health indicators.

An emerging body of literature suggests that an older measurement, the waist-to-hip ratio may be more valuable when assessing the impact of weight on health.

A new study published in the journal Obesity found that participants with a high waste-to-hip ratio had a higher risk of heart attack.

People with a high waist-to-hip ratio are often described as being “apple” shaped. Apple shaped individuals hold fat around their important vital organs. This type of fat leeches into the bloodstream easily and causes a negative effect on cholesterol and other blood fats.

The World Health Organization states that a healthy waist-to-hip ratio is less than 0.9 for men and less than 0.85 for women. It is important to note that there are no particular exercises you can do to reduce fat in one particular area of your body. “Spot reducing” does not work; rather, cardiovascular and strength building exercises can help convert fat to muscle and lower overall body fatness. For tips on calculating your own waist-to-hip ratio, click here.

How Does Your Daily Water Intake Rate?

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Ever wondered exactly how much water per day you should be drinking?

Well the truth is, there is no hard and fast rule about an exact amount of water that each individual needs. You hear recommendations like, “Drink 8 cups of water a day” or “Aim for 2 liters of water per day”, but those guidelines have no evidence based foundations and aren’t a perfect fit for all people.

Most health practitioners agree that the best way to regulate your water intake is to keep an eye on the color your urine. If your urine is light yellow or close to clear, then you are well hydrated. If it tends more towards dark yellow or orange, then you need to drink up!

A recent analysis of national data shows that the both males and females in the US consume on average, slightly more than the amount of water recommended by the Institute of Medicine. Males consume an average of 117 ounces (about 15 cups) while females drink 93 ounces (about 12 cups) per day.

The problem with most people’s water intake is that it’s not from straight water. Of those national numbers, about 30% of total water consumed by males was plain water with 34% for women. The rest of the water values are made up of water from other foods (which is fine) and drinks (which probably isn’t). Most drinks that aren’t straight water are likely to be beverages that have added sugar.

If you’re looking to make the wise water choice, you don’t need anything fancy. Despite recent concerns about water supply in some areas, most municipal tap water sources are entirely safe. There’s no need to buy fancy vitamin-enhanced waters because these provide the types of vitamins that we all already get enough of and they contain added sugars.

If plain old drinking water isn’t your bag, spice it up by adding citrus like lemon or lime or cucumber for some added flavor. The proliferation of countertop carbonation machines makes it possible for you to add bubbles to water without sugar or calories.

However you prefer to pour your beverages, aim to make water the mainstay of your drink decisions. Avoid drinks with added sugars or vitamins and keep an eye on the color of your urine as your personal guide to optimal hydration.

Turning the Truth Inside Out – The Reality about Popcorn

April 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

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As a consumer we trust that the food products we are buying are safe for ourselves and our families. However, there may be less than desirable ingredients in one of your favorite snack foods. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a little popcorn as a quick snack or evening treat. It always seems to hit the spot and provides a light snack packed with fiber and whole grains. In fact, one ounce of popcorn provides almost 4g of fiber to help you feel fuller longer. But beware, if you are not air-popping this tasty treat yourself the risks may outweigh the benefits.

Microwavable varieties of popcorn, such as Jiffy Pop or Jolly Time, contain toxic perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), cell damaging diacetyl (DA), and heart harming trans-fats. PFOA is the same toxic substance that is used on Teflon pots and pans. This chemical is used in many microwavable brands to line their bags which protects from oil leakage and provides non-stick sides that produce a perfectly popped product. However, according to Emory University scientists, this toxin has been associated with both kidney and testicular cancer in individuals who work or live near PFOA plants.

Also toxic to your body, DA is the butter flavoring chemical which has been found to break down cell layers that protect an extremely vital organ, your brain! What’s more, if consumed in larger quantities for a long period of time, DA can also cause a respiratory disease known as “popcorn lung”. In fact, one consumer who ate two bags of microwaveable popcorn daily for 2 years was awarded $7 million by the manufacturer after developing this condition.

Finally, trans-fats are oils that have been artificially partially hydrogenated and are known to increase bad cholesterol (LDL) and decrease good cholesterol (HDL). Trans-fats also increase you risk of developing heart disease and stroke and have been associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. One serving of microwavable popcorn contains 3g trans-fat which is almost 200% over the recommended daily value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Not to mention trans-fats are typically the second ingredient listed on the ingredient list of most packaged popcorn. Yuck!

So grab this deceiving delectable and pop it in the trash. Buying just the kernels and making your own popcorn recipe will be better for your body and your long term health.

Special thanks to Dietetic Intern Amanda Cravinho for her contributions to this post.

A Vegan Diet May Help to Fight Global Warming

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Did you know that switching to a diet free of meat, dairy, and eggs saves 50% more carbon emissions than driving a Prius. Imagine choosing a diet that is not only healthy and tastes great but helps to protect our planet. The first study to look at a plant-based diet and estimate both its health and climate impact supports the idea of moving toward the elimination or reduction of meat in the diet. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, highlights the fact that what we choose to eat greatly impacts the global environment and our personal health. Choosing a diet that provides less meat and more fruits and vegetables could help to prevent 5.1 million deaths per year by 2050 and substantially decrease planet-warming emissions.

Oxford researchers modeled the effects of four different diets: A diet in which no guidelines are adopted; one that follows minimum global guidelines, a vegetarian diet, and a vegan diet. They found that in a world where everyone consumed a vegan diet 8.1 million fewer people would die due to complications from chronic disease per year, and food-related emissions contributing to climate change would be cut by an astonishing 70%. This was compared to a 29% decrease in emissions from a diet following dietary recommendations and a 63% reduction from a vegetarian diet.

What’s more, if the population were to adopt more vegan-based eating habits the countries that would have the greatest impact are the developed nations due to higher rates of meat consumption and obesity. Raising animals for food now uses a staggering 30% of the Earth’s land mass, in addition to using almost 80% of deforested land in the amazon as cattle pasture. So next time you are reaching for a meat-based protein do your body and the planet a favor and try substituting soy instead, as producing just one pound of meat compared to one pound of soy requires 12 times as much land, 13 times as much fossil fuel, and 15 times as much water.

Special thanks to Dietetic Intern Amanda Cravinho for her contributions to this post.