It may not be menopause that’s making you bark at your spouse. You may be getting angry just because you’re hungry. Researchers at Ohio State University measured couples’ blood sugar in the morning and at night and found low nighttime levels predicted who would lash out at a spouse that evening. Measuring just how angry took a creative approach. All the participants got a voodoo doll representing their spouse and 51 pins and were told to stick in pins each night in a way that showed their level of anger. The researchers found that the number of pins tracked with the blood sugar levels. In addition, with low blood sugar, the participants were also more likely to blast their spouse with loud sounds when they beat them at a competitive game. Eating something sweet can raise blood sugar quickly, so a little desert after dinner may not be a bad thing. But if that shot of sugar calms you down, avoid the blood sugar highs and lows by eating small, healthy snacks through the day, and keep fruit on hand, which can raise your blood sugar and give you some healthy fiber as well.
If everyone ate an extra apple a day, we might save as many lives as statin drugs save for everyone over age 50, say British researchers. No, it doesn’t mean that if you take a statin you should toss out your pills and eat more apples instead. But it does show that even simple changes in diet could do wonders before you have to use costly drugs. The researchers at Oxford University used a mathematical model to show that this simple step toward getting your recommended five fruits and vegetables a day could prevent or delay some 8,500 heart attacks and strokes every year in Britain.
At a time when achieving new heart disease guidelines might mean having nearly a third of all adults take statins, it’s good to remember we could do as much by changing our diets—and by remembering your mother was right when she said, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Thanks, Mom.
1. Genetics do play a big role in obesity, but your genes aren’t your weight destiny. Changing your lifestyle can promote just as much weight loss as the medications used for this purpose today.
2. Reducing your calorie intake can help you lose weight, but trying to go on a specific “diet” doesn’t work well in the long term —it’s the calorie reduction that counts.
3. Exercise makes you healthier, no matter how much you weigh or whether you lose weight.
4. You can’t go on a diet, lose weight, and go back to your old habits. You have to maintain changes to maintain your weight loss.
5. Greater structuring of your meals and use of meal-replacement products promotes more weight loss than simply attempting moderation.
6. Some medications can help you lose a substantial amount of weight and keep it off, but only as long as you take the medication.
7. Weight loss surgery, if it’s right for you, can result in long-term weight loss and keep diabetes and more dire consequences of obesity at bay.
But not too much! The good news keeps on coming about the potential benefits of cocoa flavonols. They may improve your mood, cut through mind fog, and take your blood pressure down a few notches. One of the latest studies on these effects hinted that chocolate with medium and high levels of cocoa flavonols could improve visual attention and verbal skills in elderly people. Cocoa powder, rather than chocolate bars, may be the best way to get your flavonols with the least amount of calories. The short-term visual/verbal study also showed that the chocolate drinkers had decreased insulin resistance (a group of risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease), blood pressure, and lipid peroxidation (which gauges cellular damage).
A recent dark chocolate/blood pressure study, which reviewed all of the reliable studies published, concluded that dark chocolate can bring down blood pressure a few points—2.8/2.2 mm Hg. Even a couple points helps reduce your cardiovascular risk. Overdoing it on chocolate bars can make you gain weight and wipe out the benefits. Just an ounce should do.
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JoAnn V. Pinkerton, MD, NCMP