Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Your Brain on Fat

The AARP bulletin has this little tidbit to share:

The brain appears to shrink more and age faster in overweight people.  One study compared the brain images of people who were of normal weight with those of overweight people (body mass index 25 to 30) of the same age.  The overweight people had 4 percent less brain tissue and their brains looked eight years older than the brains of the people of normal weight.  The brains of obese subjects (BMI over 30) had 8 percent less tissue and looked 16 years older.  That loss of tissue depletes brain reserves and puts people at a higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Yipes!  A little more motivation here....


 One big huge deal for me has been to be sugar-free for nearly four months now.  I've done this before on occasion and am always astounded at how my appetite changes when my blood sugar straightens out.  Yesterday I worked as an election clerk all day and some thoughtful people had filled a table with snacks for us volunteers:  assorted donuts, cinnamon buns, candied nuts, cookies, candy, yogurt pretzels, cake, chocolate, big bottles of soda, sweetened juices, and more.  All day that stuff sat nearby and I wasn't even tempted.   My home-prepared snacks featured sugar snap peas, nuts, grapes, ratatouille, a turkey burger, and a bottle of water.  I was quite happy.  This was not always the case.  Before I got off sugar, I would have been browsing that table all day long and wanting more, more, more.

This  morning Mark Bittman wrote a great column in the New York Times called What is Food?  It begins with the effort in New York to set a limit on the amount of sweetened soft drinks that vendors can sell, and leads into a discussion about what food is, what is nutritious, and how sugar is essentially a non-food.  He says "Added sugar, as will be obvious when we look back in 20 or 50 years, is the tobacco of the 21st century"  and adds that sugar is probably the most dangerous part of our current diets.  He also talks about the costs that we all bear because of the enormous health impacts of the massive sugar consumption in our country.  We as taxpayers bear the brunt of "obesity-related health care costs ... at $147 billion and climbing". 

So for today, and I hope for a long time to come, I'm grateful to be sugar-free!

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Keeping On Keeping On

This week marks 3 full months of following the "Ultra Simple Diet" guidelines for food.  Just as a check-in, I am now 20 pounds lighter, have stabilized my blood pressure, and been able to get off of my blood pressure medication completely! I'm so pleased to be able to tick that goal off my list.

I'm feeling terrific.  My clothes are falling off (some of them).  It's not difficult sticking with this food plan.  Even when going out to restaurants to eat, I do a little research ahead of time on what is available to be sure I have good choices.

Several people recently suggested a good film:  Forks Over Knives.  It's about how to prevent and reverse disease with a whole-food, plant-based diet.  While my current diet is not strictly plant-based (I do eat fish, chicken, and eggs now), the notion of using whole foods to get healthier is what it is all about for me, and it is working well.  Daniella has also seen a 110 point drop in her cholesterol since we started eating this way (and she has some new supplements - no statins!).

Here are some future goals.  I plan to lose another 20 pounds.  I'm strengthening my body, especially my core muscles for balance and stability.  I intend to help out my aging kidneys to whatever extent is possible.  And with the food plan, I will just keep on keeping on.  There will be no "return to normal when this is done."