Healthy Choices

News and inspiration for healthy living in Northern California

August 30, 2013
To avoid Type 2 diabetes, choose whole fruit over fruit juice

Thumbnail image for Gala_Apple.jpgApples. Grapes. Blueberries.

Those three fruits are your best bets if you want to avoid Type 2 diabetes, Harvard researchers said this week.

But skip the fruit juice, with its high concentration of sugars.

The news from Harvard says eating whole fruits can lower your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Researchers examined three different long-running studies of the habits of 187,000 people -- 12,198 of whom were stricken with Type 2 diabetes.

Those who ate at least two servings a week of whole fruits -- especially those apples, grapes and blueberries -- reduced their risk for diabetes by as much as 23 percent compared to those who ate less than one serving a month.

Fruit juice didn't score as well. Downing one or more juice drinks a day actually increased the risk of getting diabetes by as much as 21 percent.

Now that's a glass half-empty.

July 30, 2013
Risk of heart disease is greater the longer people are obese

Like compounding interest in a bank account, your risk of getting heart disease compounds with each year you're obese, experts say.

This somber news comes to us by way of a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It was the AMA that recently declared obesity not just a condition but a disease.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health looked at 25 years of data on nearly 3,300 people. They drilled down to what's called subclinical heart disease, which is the buildup of fats inside arteries, starting in young adulthood.

Each additional year of obesity upped the risk of developing subclinical heart disease by two to four percent.

Photo: National Institutes of Health

June 27, 2013
Should red meat be on your Fourth of July menu?

Should red meat be part of your July 4 menu? Naturally, that's up to you. This is America we are celebrating, after all.

But here are some new findings from research on the correlation between red meat and Type 2 diabetes -- all the way from the National University of Singapore.

There's no hard and fast evidence that eating red meat leads directly to Type 2 diabetes. But it looks like the more you eat, the higher your risk of developing diabetes down the road.

An Pan, the lead author of the study, told Reuters in an email: "I think the difference is enough to encourage people at least not to increase red meat consumption, and then think about ways to reduce the consumption."

Type II diabetes occurs when the body either does not produce enough insulin or ignores the insulin it needs to turn food into energy.

About 26 million Americans have diabetes -- and between 90 and 95 percent of those have Type 2 and need to keep a close eye on what they eat.

So you might want to keep your feast down to one burger, instead going for seconds.

May 31, 2013
CDC report say most adults are eating less fast food

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention comes a document with the slightly creepy title of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The MMWRs provide excellent data on the health of the U.S. general population.

One of the latest reports measures how frequently adults ate at fast food restaurants. The report compares figures from the period 2003-2006 with more recent statistics from 2007-2010.

From 2003-2006 to 2007-2010, the percentage of daily calories consumed by adults over 20 from fast foods restaurants declined from 12.8 percent to 11.3 percent. That's good news.

Even better, the numbers show a more significant drop in daily calories consumed by adults aged 40 to 59: from 12.7 percent to 10.5 percent.

However, the youngest and oldest among us are holding steady in their reliance on food sold at eating establishments for quick availability or takeout (CDCs definition of a fast food joint).

During both periods studied, the percentage of daily calories from consumption of fast foods was highest among those aged 20-39 years and those over 60.

If you'd like to know more, go to the source.

May 20, 2013
Sacramento child entrepreneur launches healthy-eating app

Nicolas Cone describes himself as a "picky eater." But at his ripe old age of eight years, Nicolas has found a way to share what he does like to eat with other kids and families.

Turns out, he likes his food straight from the garden, and even enjoys cooking fresh foods.

So he's designed a mobile app and website called Nicolas' Garden to encourage other kids to dive into healthy eating by growing their own food, sharing their favorite recipes, supporting farmers' markets and playing games on the app.

He unveiled his creation at Soil Born Farm's annual "Day on the Farm" event in Rancho Cordova last weekend.

Now he's focusing his efforts on scoring a dinner with the Obamas, having been impressed by First Lady Michelle Obama's well-known fondness for gardening.

May 20, 2013
Sacramento Hunger Coalition offers free screening of documentary film

Sometimes being healthy boils down to the very essentials -- like having access to fresh, locally harvested fruits and vegetables and adequate protein.

That much is obvious.

But an estimated 50 million Americans -- including one in four children -- don't have the security of knowing where and when their next meal will come. Many live in the South Sacramento and other fresh-food challenged neighborhoods locally.

To spotlight this problem, the Sacramento Hunger Coalition is offering a free screening for "A Place at the Table," a documentary exploring that food insecurity. A panel discussion will follow the screening, led by moderator Elaine Corn of Capital Public Radio.

Mark your calendar: Tuesday, May 21, at the Crest Theater in downtown Sacramento.

Let us know what you think of the film in the comments below.
May 15, 2013
South Oak Park neighborhood celebrates fresh local produce

Say goodbye to one of Sacramento's food deserts and say hello to healthy, locally grown produce, which is coming to South Oak Park on Sunday, May 26.

The USDA has designated South Oak Park as a "food desert," a place where produce is scarce and finding healthy, affordable food is harder than it should be.

This means residents had to shop at convenience stores, typically stocked with high-sodium, preservative-heavy foods.

But one local corner market, Sam's Market at 23rd Avenue (and 42nd Street) is turning green (and all the other rainbow colors of fruits and veggies), adding fresh produce to its shelves.

Don't miss out on the celebration as neighbors gather May 26 to celebrate this transition toward a healthier community. Prizes, games, face-painting, free health screenings, cooking and gardening demos will add to the festivities.

A cornerstone of the celebration will be the opening of a summer-long Urban Farm Stand, which will set up every Sunday through September.

May 14, 2013
An apple a day keeps chronic disease away

Gala_Apple.jpgAn El Dorado County reader writes that he's taken to eating four apples a day the past few years. And he hasn't been sick since. Not even a cold.

Research supports the healthy qualities of apples, which originated in the mountains of what is now Kazakhstan.

In the journal Advances in Nutrition, author Dianne Hyson presents: "A Comprehensive Review of Apples and Apple Components and Their Relationship to Human Health."

As Hyson reports, the phytochemical profile of apples -- flavonoids, antioxidants, antiproliferative and cell-signaling -- helps fight against heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's.

Eating apples can also help keep you smart; the fruit halts or slows cognititve decline due to normal aging. Apples also lower your risk of diabetes, strengthen your bones, your lungs and aid in digestion -- not to mention help you maintain a healthy weight.

Four-a-day may be a bit much for some of us, but there's clearly good reasoning behind the saying, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away."

PHOTO: American Heart Association

About Healthy Choices

Cynthia CraftCynthia H. Craft began her reporting and editing career in Columbus, Ohio, after graduating from Ohio State University. She worked at a Dallas, Texas, newspaper as an editor, and then at the Los Angeles Times, as an editor and Capitol Bureau correspondent. After working as editor in chief at the California Journal, Craft went to Lima, Peru, for three years as a visiting professor of journalism at Peruana Universidad de Ciencias Aplicadas. She was a fellow in 2012 at the National Library for Medicine in Washington, D.C. at the National Institute for Health. She's currently The Sacramento Bee's senior writer on health, a position made possible by a grant from The California Endowment.

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Phone: (916) 321-1270
On Twitter: @cynthiahcraft.

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