Monday, 24 September 2012

Sufficient sleep is essential to fuel weight loss efforts



We all understand the importance of sleeping seven to nine hours each night to allow for adequate cellular housekeeping, as the body metabolizes and synthesizes enzymes and proteins that are critical to our survival. In the past, a sound sleep has been shown to lower incidence of heart disease, diabetes and dementia in direct relationship to the number of hours slept each evening.

Canadian researchers publishing the Canadian Medical Association Journal have released the result of a study showing that adequate sleep is an important part of a weight loss plan and should be added to the recommended mix of diet and exercise. In addition to lowering caloric intake and increasing physical activity, the research team led by Dr. Jean-Phillippe Chaput of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa has provided sufficient evidence to show that inadequate sleep is an independent risk factor for overweight and obesity.

Scientists determined that lack of sleep increases the stimulus to consume more food and increases appetite-regulating hormones. Dr. Chaput explained "The solution to weight loss is not as simple as eat less, move more, sleep more... however, an accumulating body of evidence suggests that sleeping habits should not be overlooked when prescribing a weight-reduction program to a patient with obesity."

Seven to nine hours of sleep are needed daily to aid weight loss efforts
Many different factors affect body weight including predisposition to handling stress, depression and genetic individuality. Adequate and sound sleep can improve or eliminate each of these risk factors, and can also regulate the hormones leptin and ghrelin to lower food cravings and naturally promote a normal weight range. Naturally, reducing or eliminating insulin-producing processed carbohydrate foods and cutting sugar from the diet are necessary to stimulate weight loss in many people.

The authors of this study did not provide an exact mechanism to explain how adequate sleep assists weight loss, but they did explain that a lack of sleep affects the parts of the brain that control pleasure eating. Further, the scientists indicate that levels of the hormones leptin, ghrelin, cortisol and orexin, all of which are involved in appetite or eating, are affected by lack of sleep.

Dr. Chaput concluded "An accumulating body of evidence suggests that sleeping habits should not be overlooked when prescribing a weight-reduction program to a patient with obesity." Continuing research studies validate the critical importance of a sound night's sleep of between seven and nine hours each night to protect against chronic disease and to aid weight management efforts.

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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Is Your Kettle Poisoning You?

In light of recent research that shows overweight women with PCOS have higher levels of BPA in their blood than overweight women without PCOS, I thought I should bring to fore one of the 'hidden' sources of BPA commonly found in our kitchens. I'm talking about electric plastic kettles. Could they be contributing to the BPA burden in women with PCOS?

It's common knowledge that some plastics leech into food particularly when heated or when they come in contact with acidic or oily foods. So, imagine drinking several cups of tea a day using water that's heated in a plastic kettle. Perhaps you've decided to up your green tea intake because you read it contains beneficial phenols, or even spearmint tea because it helps lowers testosterone levels. But then you stopped because it wasn't working or your symptoms actually worsened.

Sometimes when women with PCOS say a particular lifestyle change or dietary modification doesn't work,  it's important to examine why and investigate possible saboteurs rather than throwing it away entirely. In this case the saboteur would be boiling the water used to drink said teas in plastic kettles that leach BPA.

Replace plastic kettles with stainless steel or use the good 'ol pot/pan to boil water.

Read more on the safety of different plastics here. Although, generally, you want to avoid plastics number 3, 6 and 7; especially 7!


Inspired by Natural Health Solutions for PCOS

Friday, 7 September 2012

Fats That Can Help or Hinder Your PCOS

Thought I'd share this. 



Did you know that consuming the right fats can actually help to improve the symptoms of your PCOS?

As we discussed last week, bad fats can play a key role in the build-up of PCOS-linked androgens (male hormones) through excess androgen production by your adrenal glands. But replacing bad fats in your diet with good ones could bring about a significant improvement in your condition.

Like carbohydrates and protein in moderate amounts, fat is an essential nutrient, required by your body for key functions such as absorbing the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. It's also an important energy source and vital for keeping skin and hair healthy and smooth.

Consuming the right fats can also actually lower your risk of PCOS-linked conditions like diabetes, heart disease and obesity while improving your cholesterol levels at the same time. That's because all fats are not created equal. In fact, it's not the total amount of fat in your diet that affects how much you weigh and makes you vulnerable to a host of diseases. What matters is the type of fats you choose (and, when it comes to shedding pounds, the total number of calories you eat).

Here's a breakdown of fats:


Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs): Found in plant foods like nuts, avocados, olive oil and canola oil, as well as poultry

MUFAs can actually lower cholesterol levels, and your risk of heart disease. A Journal of the American Medical Association study showed that replacing a carb-rich diet with one high in monounsaturated fats can do both ... and reduce blood pressure, too.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs): Found in fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, as well as corn and soybean oils

Like MUFAs, PUFAs have been shown to improve cholesterol levels and reduce heart disease risk. One type is omega-3 fatty acid, which is plentiful in some kinds of fish and not to be confused with omega-6 fatty acids, found in meats, corn oil and soybean oil. Research has found that Americans eat about 20 times more omega-6 than omega-3. Closer to four times as much is a healthier target. Substitute fish for meat whenever you can.


Artery-clogging saturated fats come from meat and dairy products. Saturated fats have been shown to directly raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Conventional advice has been to avoid them as much as possible.

However, a meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in early 2010 found no link between saturated-fat intake and increased risk of coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease. Still, the Harvard School of Public Health, in a study published in March 2010, found that replacing saturated fats with an equal amount of polyunsaturated fats did indeed reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 19%.

Nevertheless, moderate amounts of saturated fats may not be so bad after all and they are certainly an important source of vitamins and minerals. Plus, some argue that coconut oil and palm fruit oil, which are plant-based sources of saturated fats, may actually be beneficial because their particular fatty-acid make-up means they are metabolized differently in the body. Stearic acid, found in animal products and in some foods such as chocolate, gets a pass because much of it is converted by the body into oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat.

Thus, saturated fats may be more neutral than we think. Yet although there are more and more scientific studies suggesting this is the case, there is, paradoxically, no broad consensus on this yet, especially among those designing dietary guidelines. The advisory committee for the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests a reduction of saturated-fat intake to no more than 7% of daily intake.


This variety of fat is double trouble for your heart health.

Trans fat is the worst type of fat. Unlike other varieties, trans fat - also called trans-fatty acids - both raises your "bad" (LDL) cholesterol and lowers your "good" (HDL) cholesterol. High LDL in combination with low HDL increases your risk of heart disease, the leading killer of women as well as men. It's made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation, leaving the oil less likely to spoil. Using trans fats in the manufacture of foods helps the foods stay fresh longer, have a longer shelf life and have a less greasy feel. Commercial baked goods - such as crackers, cookies and cakes - and many fried foods, such as doughnuts and french fries - may contain trans fats. Shortenings and some margarines can be high in trans fat, which used to be more common. However, in recent years it has been used less frequently because of concerns over the health effects.

Food manufacturers in the United States and many other countries list the trans fat content on nutrition labels, but be careful. In the U.S. A government loophole allows food packagers to label anything with .5 grams of trans fat or less as "0g trans fat". When serving sizes listed are small, and you therefore eat several servings by their definition, this can be a big problem. Look for the words "partially hydrogenated" vegetable oil on the actual ingredients label. That's another term for trans fat.

It sounds counterintuitive, but "fully" or "completely" hydrogenated oil has no trans fat. Unlike partially hydrogenated oil, the process used to make fully or completely hydrogenated oil doesn't result in trans fat. Check your food labels.

Christine DeZarn

Sunday, 19 August 2012

5 Foods That Kill Fertility

Eating the right foods is essential to fertility, but these won't do any good if you keep on eating foods that damage your chances of pregnancy. Conceiving is a delicate process that involves environmental cues, hormonal balance, and physiology. It's so easy for the wrong foods to disrupt these events and prevent the union of an egg and a sperm. By avoiding these five foods, you can boost the fertility of yourself and your partner and increase your own chances of a healthy pregnancy too.


Sugar and refined carbohydrates are a big no-no for fertility, especially if you are suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). According to the Nurses' Health Study, the largest study on nutrition and female fertility, women who eat more refined sugar are more likely to suffer from fertility problems. Our body's glucose levels rise whenever we eat refined carbohydrates or sugar. As the glucose levels rise, the body produces the hormone insulin so the cells can use the glucose for energy. Foods with a low glycemic index allow the body to go through the glucose slowly, but refined sugar (foods with high glycemic index) causes the blood glucose levels to rise too quickly. This makes your insulin levels stretch out too thinly and adds stress to your body. If you keep a regular diet of refined sugar, your body will eventually become insulin resistant. This means that your cells will no longer respond to the insulin produced by your body, skewing the hormonal production required for timely ovulation and interfering with your chances of conceiving. Research shows that up to 70% of women with PCOS are insulin-resistant.
Chips and fries may be crispy and satisfying snacks, but they're also rich in an industrially created fat called trans-fat (trans-fatty acids or partially hydrogenated oils). Trans-fats are found in packaged goods, fried fast food, microwaved popcorn, or vegetable shortening in order to extend their shelf-life. Any commercial good that has "partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil" or "shortening" in the ingredients label probably has trans-fats. The Nurses' Health Study found out that women who ate more trans-fats were suffered from more ovulatory problems than women who did not. In fact, just a 2% increase in trans-fat consumption makes a woman 73% more likely to suffer from ovulation-related infertility. Trans-fats affect fertility by making the body more insulin-resistant and causing inflammation. In men, high trans-fat levels make the membrane of the sperm cell less flexible, decreasing its ability to successfully penetrate an egg cell.
Reports show that too much soy protein can decrease male and female fertility. A study published in Human Reproduction looked at the sperm samples and soy intake of 99 men with unexplained infertility. Researchers discovered that over half of the men had poor sperm motility and low sperm count. The researchers also observed that the men with higher sperm count and better sperm quality had lower soy intake.
Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that high soy consumption can decrease the levels of the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), and increase menstrual cycle length.
Like most hardworking people, you probably like starting your day with a strong cup of coffee. But you might want to cut back on this and other caffeine-laden drinks. According to the Nurses' Health Study, women who consume over 400mg of caffeine a day (one eight-ounce cup of coffee has 100-300 mg caffeine) are more likely to be infertile. Caffeine causes the fallopian tubes to tense up and slow down the movement of a fertilized egg towards the uterus. Once the egg finally reaches the uterus, the endometrium may not be healthy enough to receive it.
You can keep your morning cup of coffee and your fertility too; as long as you consume less than 300mg of caffeine a day, you should be fine. Do take note that soda is also laden with caffeine; the Nurses' Health Study notes that women are 50% more likely to experience ovulation problems if they drink two or more cans of soda a day.
Aspartame and artificial sweeteners
Here's another reason to avoid soda, especially diet soda: they contain an artificial sweetener called aspartame that affects fertility. According to Pediatrician and Professor Dr Louis Elsas, consuming aspartame before conceiving increases the likelihood of neurological problems in the child. When aspartame enters the intestines, it gets broken down into a chemical called phenylalanine and becomes concentrated in the placenta, causing developmental problems in the growing baby. Dr. Maledon Price of the University of Washington also notes that aspartame destroys the neurons that regulate the release of hormones, causing low levels of the FSH, LH, and gonadotropins. Aspartame is also known to impact sperm production and egg quality.

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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Ramblings of A Lazy Blogger

My laptop developed a seizure and decided not to regain consciousness. Now that it's dead - though not yet buried - it's been even harder mustering up the motivation to blog. I tried blogging from my phone, but that's just pointless suffering.


For the past 3 months I've had early pregnancy symptoms. My nipples hurt, bbs swolen and tender even after Bob had been sucking away for 20 minutes, extreme fatigue, bloating, bleeding gums/nose, tender lower abs - however I was still having my periods, though lasting only 4 days. I knew the last time I was preggers my period completely stopped, but then I still thought there was that possibility. Now I know I'm not. All the tests came out negative and weirdly enough last month I took an OPK got a BFP and 14 days later AF showed up. So I'm still OV, Yey!!!

My iron levels were borderline which may have been responsible for the fatigue. I'm eating healthy, I've reduced my calories despite BF and still NOT losing any weight. I'm clearly not one of those lucky bastards women who use up 300-500 calories breastfeeding thus losing all their baby weight in the process.

Anyway, I have to confess, the prospect of being pregnant so soon scared the beshittles out of me. Deep down I wanted to be, and at the same time I didn't want to be. I initially wanted us to start trying when Bob turned 6 months so our kids could be close in age, now, however, I'd rather we wait till he's 1 year before we start trying again (9 months if I notice I'm no longer ovulating regularly). He's such a handful!!!!! That's one reason. The other being I want to love him and savor each moment before another kid comes into the picture. Finally memories of my emergency c-section are still so raw I want to do whatever is within my power to avoid another one. Which may include waiting for up yo a year on order to qualify for a VBAC if I have to.