Monthly Archives: August 2016

How Soda Affects for Your Kids

Cavities, weight gain … and violence? Soda may have a shocking new side effect for kids, according to a new study published online today in the journal Injury Prevention.

When researchers surveyed the habits of 1,878 Boston-area high school students, they found that those who drank five or more fizzy non-diet soft drinks a week were more likely to be violent toward family and friends, to carry a gun or knife, and to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes than teens who drank soda less often.

Although most people would agree that soda isn’t exactly healthy — for kids or adults, for that matter — this news may be alarming to parents concerned about this surprising effect on kids’ emotional health. Just how worried should you be? Here, five things you should know about soda and your child’s health:

  1. The sugary soda-aggression link needs more research. The new study is food for thought, so to speak, but it’s still not clear that the soft drinks themselves actually cause violent behavior in teenagers. Could there be underlying social factors in a child’s life, such as a low-income household or lack of parental supervision, that encourages him or her to drink a lot of sugary soda and also predisposes him or her to aggression? More research needs to be done to tease that out. What this study does do is add to the mounting evidence that a diet high in sugary soft drinks is harmful to children — both physically and emotionally. It is clear that, for a variety of reasons, parents need to take steps to limit their children’s consumption of soda.
  2. More alarming are soda’s effects on childhood obesity and diabetes risk. Studies have shown that regular consumption of sugary sodas can increase a child’s risk of obesity, and soda has also been associated with an increased risk of diabetes later in life. Dentists aren’t fans of sodas, not just because of the sugar content, but also because sodas can contain acid, which can erode tooth enamel and increase the risk of cavities. In adults, sugary sodas are linked to these issues and more — studies have shown that regular soda use can lead to a loss of calcium in the urine and may weaken bones over time.
  3. Soda isn’t the only food or drink that may harm kids’ mental health. Soda isn’t the only potential villain in a kid’s diet. Studies have suggested that an overall poor diet — one that’s high in processed foods and lacking in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains — can affect mood and increase the risk of anxiety. More studies need to be done, especially in kids, but researchers believe that diet plays an important role in both physical and mental health.
  4. Soda is okay every now and then — not every day. Ideally, soda should not be a regular part of any child’s diet. Sugary sodas not only contain tons of “empty calories,” but many contain caffeine, which can affect kids’ behavior and sleep patterns. One 12-ounce can of soda contains 6 teaspoons of added sugar; for comparison, the American Heart Association recommends adults consume fewer than 6 to 9 teaspoons a day — and for kids eating fewer overall calories, that number is even lower. Of course, it’s fine for a child to have soft drinks as a treat once in a while, but certainly not daily. Even non-soda sugary drinks such as lemonade, fruit punch, and fruit juices should be limited. Despite what the packaging might want you to believe, fruit juice has little nutritional value and is another source of refined sugar, so children should have no more than 4 to 8 ounces daily.

What Are the Dangers of Food

Many people who are watching their weight — or trying to lose some pounds — turn to their bathroom scale. But that old familiar standby is not the only way to measure one’s size. Another possibility to consider is your body fat percentage.

Body Fat: What Are the Dangers?

When most of us hear the words “body fat” they have immediate negative connotations. However, in the right proportion, fat is actually critical to our diet and health. In the not-so-distant past, the ability to store extra body fat allowed our ancestors to survive in times of famine, when food was hard to come by. Even today it’s essential to keep the body functioning, to preserve body heat, and to protect organs from trauma.

Problems arise when our bodies store too much fat. This can lead to a variety of health issues, including high cholesterol, hypertension, glucose intolerance, and insulin resistance. Especially dangerous is fat stored at the waist, creating what is often called an “apple-shaped” body, as opposed to fat on the hips and thighs, a “pear-shaped” body.

“Normal body fat for men is around 8 to 15 percent of their total body weight and for women approximately 20 to 30 percent,” says Caroline Apovian, MD, associate professor of medicine and pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and director of the Center for Nutrition and Weight Management at Boston Medical Center.

Body Fat: How Can It Be Measured?

There are a variety of ways to measure the amount of body fat a person is carrying. “The most accurate way is ‘underwater weighing,’ which weighs the person on land and then underwater,” says Mary M. Flynn, PhD, RD, chief research dietitian and assistant professor of medicine at the Miriam Hospital and Brown University in Providence, R.I. “But equipment for this is very expensive and not readily available.”

Another fairly accurate option is Bioelectric Impedance Analysis (BIA). BIA consists of electrodes being placed on a person’s hand and foot while a current (which is not felt) is passed through the body. Fat has less water and is more resistant to the current, whereas muscle, which contains more water, is less resistant. The resulting numbers are entered into an equation which figures the percentage of fat and lean tissue.

The easiest method is measuring waist circumference and determining the Body Mass Index (BMI). A waist circumference over 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men is cause for concern.

Figuring BMI involves a little more calculation. BMI is done by multiplying your weight in pounds by 703, then dividing that number by your height in inches two times. If the end result is less than 18.5, the individual is underweight;18.5 to 24.9 is normal; 25.0 to 29.9 is overweight; and over 30 is obese.

“However, you must be aware of this disclaimer. BMI alone is not an indication of body fat, especially in athletes and bodybuilders. Growing children under 18 years old should also avoid using BMI,” says Elizabeth Downs, RD, clinical dietitian at the Montefiore Medical Center at the University Hospital for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y.

One final way of determining body fat is using skin calipers to measure fat at specific places in the body. However, not only is it easy to make errors, but this method also doesn’t measure any interior fat or fat contained in thighs and women’s breasts.

The reason of vegetables is important for good health

If we are what we eat, then many of us must be tripping all over the place due to a lack of balance. That’s because the average American eats about three servings of fruits and vegetables per day — a stark contrast to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new guidelines stating that we should be eating 5 to 13 servings of nature’s best, depending on the number of calories you need.

So if we want to grow to be strong like Popeye, why can’t we just down some supplements instead of devouring a pile of spinach?

Nutrients in fresh fruits and vegetables work together. Kristine Wallerius Cuthrell, MPH, RD, a research nutritionist and senior project coordinator for Hawaii Foods at the Center on the Family at University of Hawaii at Manoa, says that in the past five to 10 years, many large research studies have found that vitamin supplements don’t provide the benefits that foods do. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, created jointly between HHS and USDA and reviewed every five years, say that foods are the best sources of nutrients because they contain naturally occurring ingredients, like carotenoids and flavonoids.

“In addition to the substances we are aware of, there are many present in fruits and vegetables that have yet to be discovered. Food and the nutrients they contain aren’t consumed singly, but with each other. As such, they may act in synergistic ways to promote health,” Cuthrell says. For instance, eating iron-rich plants, like spinach, with an iron-absorbing enhancer, like the vitamin C in orange juice, is great for people who don’t get enough iron (typically young women).

Fruits and vegetables may prevent many illnesses. Eating fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. The Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study examined nearly 110,000 people over the course of 14 years. Part of the study revealed that the more fruits and vegetables people ate daily, the less chance they would develop cardiovascular diseases.

The relationship between fruits and vegetables and cancer prevention has been more difficult to prove. However, recent studies show that some types of produce are associated with lower rates of some types of cancer. For example, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research suggest that mouth, stomach, and colorectal cancers are less likely with high intakes of non-starchy foods like leafy greens, broccoli, and cabbage. Though studies have been mixed, lycopene, a carotenoid that gives tomatoes their red color, may help stave off prostate cancer.

Fruits and vegetables are great for watching your weight. They’re low in fat and calories, and loaded with fiber and water, which create a feeling of fullness. This is particularly helpful for dieters who want more filling calories. Plus, that fiber helps keep you “regular.”

Healthy Drinks That You Need To Know

Sodas are sweet, sparkling and tasty — but don’t confuse them with a healthy drink. Doctors have discovered a ton of health risks connected with drinking soda pop. Worse, you’re robbing yourself of a healthy drink alternative brimming with needed vitamins and minerals every time you chug down a soft drink.

“If you’re choosing a soda, chances are you aren’t choosing a healthy beverage,” says Keri M. Gans, a nutrition consultant in New York City and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. There are a number of healthy drink choices you can make instead.

Why Say No to Soda?

  • Soda is truly worthless to your body. “In my opinion, there’s really one major reason to not drink soda,” Gans says. “It has absolutely no nutritional value. Soda is filled with sugar and calories and nothing else.” Even diet sodas — low to no calories and sugar — don’t have any redeeming virtues, nutritionally. Healthy drinks, on the other hand, have vitamins and minerals the body can use. Even plain water can rehydrate your body without adding extra calories to your diet.
  • Sugary sodas contribute to obesity and diabetes. Soda is loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, a sweetener that has been linked to obesity. Soda consumption also has been linked to the development of type 2 diabetes, both due to its sugar content and its effects on the body’s hormones. And diet soda? It may not be any better. At least one study has linked artificial sweeteners, such as those used in diet sodas, to increased appetite, greater difficulty losing weight, and a harder time maintaining weight loss.
  • Soda damages your teeth. The sugar in soda coats your teeth, combining with bacteria in your mouth to form acid. Both regular and diet soda also contain carbolic acid through carbonation. These acids work to weaken tooth enamel, causing cavities and tooth decay.
  • Drinking soda can weaken your bones. Most sodas contain phosphorous and caffeine, agents that are believed to contribute to osteoporosis. Experts also worry that people consume soda in place of milk or other healthy drinks, depriving the bones of calcium.
  • Soda can harm your major organs. Research has demonstrated that increased soft drink consumption may be linked to chronic kidney disease, development of metabolic syndrome (a group of symptoms that add up to increased heart risk), and fatty liver, a chronic liver disease.

Healthy Drink Alternatives

Luckily, there are limitless options when choosing a healthy drink over a soda pop. Some soda alternatives include:

  • Water. It is the ultimate healthy drink. “It’s free in every sense of the word,” Gans says. “It has no calories and it comes straight from your tap.”
  • Fruit juice. Gans urges you not to drink straight fruit juice, which contains a lot of sugar. “Drink some seltzer with a splash of juice for a little flavoring,” she says. “Rather than drinking juice, eat a piece of whole fruit. You’re also getting the fiber in the fruit.”
  • Milk. This is another essential healthy drink, particularly for kids. “An 8-ounce glass of nonfat milk has 80 calories and nine essential nutrients,” Gans says. “You get a lot of bang for your buck.”
  • Tea. Whatever teas you prefer — green, black, herbal — they all have been shown to contain high levels of antioxidants, which are believed to protect the body from damage.
  • Powdered drink mixes. They contain no tooth-rotting carbonation, and come in sugar-free varieties. They give your sweet tooth a fix without harming your overall nutrition.