Health and Life Style.
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Does alcohol and tobacco use increase the risk of diabetes?
Yes, alcohol and tobacco use increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Although studies show that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may actually lower the risk of diabetes, the opposite is true for people who drink greater amounts of alcohol. Moderate alcohol use is one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.
Too much alcohol can cause chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), which can impair its ability to secrete insulin and ultimately lead to diabetes.
Tobacco use can increase blood sugar levels and lead to insulin resistance. The more you smoke, the greater your risk of diabetes. Heavy smokers those who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day almost double their risk of developing diabetes, when compared with non-smokers.
Do aromatherapy weight-loss products work?
These scent-based weight-loss products deliver aromas that are supposed to reduce your appetite.
One of the early scent-based products, the powdered food additive Sensa, was withdrawn from the market after the US Federal Trade Commission found that the product made false claims of effectiveness.
A study by Alan Hirsch, M.D., who developed Sensa, is often cited as proof that aromatherapy aids weight loss. That study showed that volunteers who used an aroma inhaler lost an average of 2 percent of their body weight over six months. However, because the study lasted only six months, it didn't look at whether participants were able to maintain their weight loss over time.
A few studies on the effects of odours on appetite have found that smelling sweet food odours, such as vanilla, banana and chocolate, tend to increase appetite, while neutral or non-food odours tend to decrease it.
So, can scent-based weight-loss products lead to significant, sustainable weight loss? The jury is still out. Even some of the makers of these weight-loss products acknowledge that losing weight comes down to diet and exercise.
It makes more sense, then, to skip the scents and focus on what's proven to work reducing the calories you eat and increasing the calories you burn through exercise.
Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behaviour.
Stress symptoms may be affecting your health, even though you might not realize it. You may think illness is to blame for that nagging headache, your frequent insomnia or your decreased productivity at work. But stress may actually be the culprit.
Common effects of stress.
Indeed, stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behaviour. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can give you a jump on managing them. Stress that's left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Common effects of stress on your body.
Common effects of stress on your behaviour.
Act to manage stress.
If you have stress symptoms, taking steps to manage your stress can have numerous health benefits. Explore stress manaement strategies, such as:
When to seek help.
If you're not sure if stress is the cause or if you've taken steps to control your stress but your symptoms continue, see your doctor. Your doctor may want to check for other potential causes. Or, consider seeing a professional counsellor or therapist, who can help you identify sources of your stress and learn new coping tools.
Also, if you have chest pain, especially if it occurs during physical activity or is accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, nausea, or pain radiating into your shoulder and arm, get emergency help immediately. These may be warning signs of a heart attack and not simply stress symptoms.
Heart Disease Risk Calculator
The Mayo Clinic has developed a calculator to work out your risk of developing a heart disease. You can find it HERE.
Metabolism and weight loss:
How you burn calories.
You've probably heard people blame their weight on a slow metabolism, but what does that mean? Is metabolism really the culprit? And if so, is it possible to rev up your metabolism to burn more calories?
It's true that metabolism is linked to weight. But contrary to common belief, a slow metabolism is rarely the cause of excess weight gain. Although your metabolism influences your body's basic energy needs, it's your food and beverage intake and your physical activity that ultimately determine how much you weigh.
Metabolism: Converting food into energy.
Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this complex biochemical process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function. Even when you're at rest, your body needs energy for all its "hidden" functions, such as breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormone levels, and growing and repairing cells.
The number of calories your body uses to carry out these basic functions is known as your basal metabolic rate, what you might call metabolism. Several factors determine your individual basal metabolic rate, including:
Energy needs for your body's basic functions stay fairly consistent and aren't easily changed. Your basal metabolic rate accounts for about 70 percent of the calories you burn every day. In addition to your basal metabolic rate, two other factors determine how many calories your body burns each day:
Metabolism and weight.
It may be tempting to blame your metabolism for weight gain, but because metabolism is a natural process, your body has many mechanisms that regulate it to meet your individual needs. Only in rare cases do you get excessive weight gain from a medical problem that slows metabolism, such as Cushing's syndrome or having an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).
Unfortunately, weight gain is complicated. It is likely a combination of genetic makeup, hormonal controls, diet composition, and the impact of environment on your lifestyle, including sleep, physical activity and stress. All of these factors result in an imbalance in the energy equation. You gain weight when you eat more calories than you burn or burn fewer calories than you eat.
While it is true that some people seem to be able to lose weight more quickly and more easily than others, everyone will lose weight when they burn up more calories than they eat. Therefore, to lose weight, you need to create an energy deficit by eating fewer calories or increasing the number of calories you burn through physical activity or both.
A closer look at physical activity and metabolism
While you don't have much control over the speed of your basal metabolism, you can control how many calories you burn through your level of physical activity. The more active you are, the more calories you burn. In fact, some people who are said to have a fast metabolism are probably just more active and maybe more fidgety than are others.
You can burn more calories with:
Regular aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is the most efficient way to burn calories and includes activities such as walking, bicycling and swimming. As a general goal, include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to increase the time you spend on physical activity even more. If you can't set aside time for a longer workout, try 10-minute chunks of activity throughout the day. Remember, the more active you are, the greater the benefits.
Strength training. Strength training exercises, such as weightlifting, are important because they help counteract muscle loss associated with aging. And since muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does, muscle mass is a key factor in weight loss.
Lifestyle activities. Any extra movement helps burn calories. Look for ways to walk and move around a few minutes more each day than the day before. Taking the stairs more often and parking farther away at the store are simple ways to burn more calories. Even activities such as gardening, washing your car and housework burn calories and contribute to weight loss.
No magic bullet. Don't look to dietary supplements for help in burning calories or weight loss. Products that claim to speed up your metabolism are often more hype than help, and some may cause undesirable or even dangerous side effects. Dietary supplement manufacturers aren't required by the US Food and Drug Administration to prove that their products are safe or effective, so view these products with caution and scepticism, and always let your doctors know about any supplements you take.
There's no easy way to lose weight. The foundation for weight loss continues to be based on physical activity and diet. Take in fewer calories than you burn, and you lose weight.
Our knowledge is increasing about all of the mechanisms that impact appetite, food selection, and how your body processes and burns food. Your health care provider can help you explore interventions that can help you lose weight.
The Atkins Diet: Is it any good?
The Atkins Diet is a popular low-carbohydrate eating plan created in 1972 by cardiologist Robert C. Atkins. The Atkins Diet restricts carbs (carbohydrates) while emphasizing protein and fats.
The Atkins Diet has several phases for weight loss and maintenance, starting out with a very low carbohydrate eating plan. The Atkins Diet, formally called the Atkins Nutritional Approach, has been detailed in many books and is credited with launching the low-carb diet trend.
The purpose of the Atkins Diet is to change your eating habits to help you lose weight and keep it off. The Atkins Diet also says it's a healthy lifelong approach to eating, whether you want to lose weight, boost your energy or help improve certain health problems, such as high blood pressure or metabolic syndrome.
You might choose to follow the Atkins Diet because you:
Check with your doctor or health care provider before starting any weight-loss diet, especially if you have any health conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease.
The main dietary focus of the Atkins Diet is eating the right balance of carbohydrates, protein and fats for optimal weight loss and health. According to the Atkins Diet, obesity and related health problems, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, are the fault of the typical low-fat, high-carbohydrate American diet. The Atkins Diet says that you don't need to avoid fatty cuts of meat or trim off excess fat. Rather, controlling carbs is what's important.
The Atkins Diet holds that eating too many carbohydrates, especially sugar, white flour and other refined carbs, leads to blood sugar imbalances, weight gain and cardiovascular problems. To that end, the Atkins Diet restricts carbohydrates and encourages eating more protein and fat. However, the Atkins Diet says it is not a high-protein diet.
Like many diet plans, the Atkins Diet continues to evolve. It now encourages eating more high-fibre vegetables, accommodates vegetarian and vegan needs, and addresses health problems that may arise when initially starting a low-carb diet.
The Atkins Diet doesn't require calorie counting or portion control. It does require you to track your carbs, though. It uses a system called net carbs, which is the total carbohydrate content of an item minus its fibre content. For example, a half-cup of raw broccoli has 2.3 grams of total carbs and 1.3 grams of fibre, putting its net carb value at 1 gram.
The Atkins Diet says its approach to carbs will burn off your body's fat stores, regulate your blood sugar and help you achieve optimal health, while not leaving you feeling hungry or deprived. Once you're at your goal weight, the Atkins Diet also says it will help you identify your personal carbohydrate tolerance, the number of grams of net carbs you can eat each day without gaining or losing weight.
Although the Atkins Diet originally said that exercise wasn't vital for weight loss, it now acknowledges that exercise is important to weight loss and maintenance, as well as for achieving other health benefits.
Phases of the Atkins Diet.
The Atkins Diet has four phases. Depending on your weight-loss goals, you can start at any of the first three phases.
Phase 1: Induction. In this strict phase, you cut out almost all carbohydrates from your diet, eating just 20 grams of net carbs a day, mainly from vegetables. Instead of getting 45 to 65 percent of your daily calories from carbohydrates, as recommended by most nutrition guidelines, you get only about 10 percent. "Foundation" vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, celery, cucumber, green beans and peppers, should account for 12-15 grams of your daily net carbs. You should eat protein, such as fish and shellfish, poultry, meat, eggs and cheese, at every meal. You don't need to restrict oils and fats, but you can't have most fruits, sugary baked goods, breads, pastas, grains, nuts or alcohol. You should drink eight glasses of water a day. You stay in this phase for at least two weeks, depending on your weight loss.
Phase 2: Balancing. In this phase, you continue to eat a minimum of 12-15 grams of net carbs as foundation vegetables. You also continue to avoid foods with added sugar. You can slowly add back in some nutrient-rich carbs, such as more vegetables and berries, nuts and seeds, as you continue to lose weight. You stay in this phase until you're about 4.5 kilograms from your goal weight.
Phase 3: Pre-maintenance. In this phase, you continue to gradually increase the range of foods you can eat, including fruits, starchy vegetables and whole grains. You can add about 10 grams of carbs to your diet each week, but you must cut back if your weight loss stops. You stay in this phase until you reach your weight goal.
Phase 4: Lifetime maintenance. You move into this phase when you reach your goal weight, and then you continue this way of eating for life.
A typical day's menu on the Atkins Diet.
Here's a look at what you might eat during a typical day on phase 1 of the Atkins Diet:
Breakfast. Scrambled eggs with sautéed onions and cheddar cheese. Acceptable beverages include coffee, tea, water, diet soda and herbal tea.
Lunch. Chef salad with chicken, bacon and avocado dressing, along with an allowable beverage.
Dinner. Baked salmon steak, asparagus, and arugula salad with cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, along with an allowable beverage.
Snacks. You typically can have two snacks a day. Snacks may include an Atkins Diet product, such as a chocolate shake or granola bar, or a simple snack such as celery and cheddar cheese.
Weight loss: The Atkins Diet says that you can lose 7 kilograms in the first two weeks of phase 1, but it also acknowledges that those aren't typical results. The Atkins Diet also acknowledges that you may initially lose water weight. It says that you'll continue to lose weight in phases 2 and 3 as long as you don't eat more carbs than your body can tolerate.
Most people can lose weight on almost any diet plan that restricts calories at least in the short term. Over the long term, though, studies show that low-carb diets like Atkins are no more effective for weight loss than are standard weight-loss diets and that most people regain the weight they lost regardless of diet plan. However, studies have shown that people who continued to follow diet plans, such as Atkins, for two years did lose an average of nearly 4 kilograms overall. Some studies suggest that it's not cutting carbs that leads to weight loss with Atkins, instead, you may shed pounds because your food choices are limited, and you eat less since the extra protein and fat keep you feeling full longer.
Health benefits. The Atkins Diet says that its eating plan can prevent or improve serious health conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. In fact, almost any diet that helps you shed excess weight can reduce or even reverse risks factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. And most weight-loss diets, not just low-carb diets, may improve blood cholesterol or blood sugar levels, at least temporarily. One study showed that people who followed Atkins had improved triglycerides, suggesting better heart health, but there have been no major studies to show whether such benefits hold up for the long term or increase how long you live.
Some health experts believe that eating a large amount of fat and protein from animal sources, as allowed on the Atkins Diet, can increase your risk of heart disease or some cancers, however, it's not known what risks, if any, the Atkins Diet may pose over the long term because most of the studies about it have lasted for two years or less.
Risks. The Atkins Diet acknowledges that drastically cutting carbs in the early phase of the program can result in some side effects, including:
In addition, some very low carb diets restrict carbohydrates so much that they result in nutritional deficiencies or insufficient fibre, which can cause such health problems as constipation, diarrhea and nausea though eating carbs that are high fibre, whole grain and nutrient dense can improve the health profile of programs like the Atkins Diet. In addition, the Atkins Diet has changed over time to help prevent health problems, and it now recommends taking a small amount of extra salt, along with vitamins or supplements.
It's also possible that restricting carbohydrates to less than 20 grams a day, the level recommended for phase 1 of the diet, can result in ketosis. Ketosis occurs when you don't have enough sugar (glucose) for energy, so your body breaks down stored fat, causing ketones to build up in your body. Side effects from ketosis can include nausea, headache, mental fatigue and bad breath.
In addition, the Atkins Diet isn't appropriate for everyone. For example, the Atkins Diet recommends that you consult your doctor before starting the diet if you take diuretics, insulin or oral diabetes medications. In addition, people with severe kidney disease should not follow the diet, and the weight-loss phases of the diet aren't suitable for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.