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Did the failed food pyramid contribute to rise in obesity in America?

English: insulin resistance model

English: insulin resistance model (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Did the failed food pyramid by USDA contribute to raise in Diabetes in America?

In May 2011, the USDA released a graphic called “My Plate” to help people choose what foods to eat instead of the “Food Pyramid”. The useless and misleading food pyramid, which has been confusing consumers for over 25 years, has advocated a philosophy of eating more grains and other less “fatty” foods. Food Pyramid failed to differentiate simple versus complex sugars and placed undue importance in promoting grain based products. How can the USDA, a government body set up to promote agriculture and promote sale of agricultural commodities be also charged with health recommendations?


Unfortunately, consuming a lot of the grain based “simple carbohydrates” such as breads, potatoes, rice etc. although low in fat, are high in glycemic index and can lead to a phenomenon called “Insulin Resistance”.  Affecting up to one in every three Americans, Insulin Resistance is very common and can lead to difficulty losing weight, pre-diabetes, or type II diabetes, heart disease and other long term health problems associated with obesity.

What is Insulin Resistance?

English: The blue circle is the global symbol ...

English: The blue circle is the global symbol for diabetes, introduced by the International Diabetes Federation with the aim of giving diabetes a common identity, supporting existing efforts to raise awareness of diabetes and placing the diabetes epidemic firmly in the public spotlight. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body produces insulin but does not use it properly. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps the body use glucose for energy. When people are insulin resistant, their muscle, fat, and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin. As a result, their bodies need more insulin to help glucose enter cells. The pancreas tries to keep up with this increased demand for insulin by producing more. Eventually, the pancreas fails to keep up with the body’s need for insulin. Excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream, setting the stage for diabetes. Many people with insulin resistance have high levels of both glucose and insulin circulating in their blood at the same time. Learning about insulin resistance is the first step toward making lifestyle changes that can help prevent diabetes and other health problems. An Obesity medicine physician well versed with medical management of Obesity and Insulin Resistance might be able to help!

 Cause of Insulin Resistance

Scientists have identified specific genes that make people more likely to develop insulin resistance and diabetes. Excess weight and lack of physical activity also contribute to insulin resistance. Many people with insulin resistance and high blood glucose have other conditions that increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and damage to the heart and blood vessels, also called cardiovascular disease. These conditions include having excess weight around the waist, high blood pres­sure, and abnormal levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Having several of these problems is called metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance syndrome, formerly called syndrome X.

What Are The Effects Of Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance can lead to many problems including weight gain, especially around the tummy due to the anabolic effects of Isulin. It also leads to metabolic syndrome as defined below, fatty liver, polycystic ovaries, acanthosis nigricans or dark patch around the neck, axilla, groin or other areas, skin tags, prediabetes, risk of elevated blood pressure, cardiovascular disease etc.

What Is Acanthosis Nigricans?

 What Is Metabolic Syndrome?

 Metabolic syndrome is defined as the presence of any three of the following conditions:

  • waist measurement of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women
  • triglyceride levels of 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or above, or taking medication   for elevated triglyceride levels
  • HDL, or “good,” cholesterol level below 40 mg/dL for men and below 50 mg/dL for women, or taking medication for low HDL levels
  • blood pressure levels of 130/85 or above, or taking medication for elevated blood pressure levels
  • fasting blood glucose levels of 100 mg/dL or above, or taking medication for elevated blood glu­cose levels

What is prediabetes?

 Prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. This condition is sometimes called impaired fasting glucose (IFG) or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), depending on the test used to diagnose it. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that about one in four U.S. adults aged 20 years or older—or 57 million people—had predia­betes in 2007.

 People with prediabetes are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, formerly called adult-onset diabetes or noninsulin­dependent diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is sometimes defined as the form of diabe­tes that develops when the body does not respond properly to insulin, as opposed to type 1 diabetes, in which the pancreas makes little or no insulin.

 Studies have shown that most people with prediabetes develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years, unless they lose 5 to 7 percent of their body weight—about 10 to 15 pounds for someone who weighs 200 pounds—by making changes in their diet and level of physical activity. People with prediabetes also are at increased risk of developing car­diovascular disease.

How do you diagnose Insulin Resistance?

Health care providers use blood tests to determine whether a person has prediabetes but do not usually test for insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can be assessed by measur­ing the level of insulin in the blood. How­ever, the test that most accurately measures insulin resistance, called the euglycemic clamp, is too costly and complicated to be used in most doctors’ offices. The clamp is a research tool used by scientists to learn more about glucose metabolism. If tests indicate prediabetes or metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance most likely is present.

Diabetes and prediabetes can be detected with one of the following tests:

                        Fasting glucose test. This test measures blood glucose in people who have not eaten anything for at least 8 hours. This test is most reliable when done in the morning. Fasting glucose levels of 100 to 125 mg/dL are above normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. This condition is called prediabetes or IFG. People with IFG often have had insulin resistance for some time. They are much more likely to develop diabetes than people with normal blood glucose levels.

                        Glucose tolerance test. This test mea­sures blood glucose after people fast for at least 8 hours and 2 hours after they drink a sweet liquid provided by a doc­tor or laboratory. A blood glucose level between 140 and 199 mg/dL means glu­cose tolerance is not normal but is not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. This form of prediabetes is called IGT and, like IFG, it points toward a his­tory of insulin resistance and a risk for developing diabetes.

People whose test results indicate they have prediabetes should have their blood glucose levels checked again in 1 to 2 years.

 Why is it important to look at glycemic index of foods?

 Glycemic Index of foods is important because it determines how much insulin your body is going to need after the meal. The higher the Glycemic Load, the higher the Insulin Requirements. It is believed that eating high glycemic foods such as Bagels, Doughnuts, white breads, white rice, sweetened beverages etc., the body starts to go into Insulin Resistance. The Insulin Resistance, in turn will lead to higher levels of Insulin circulating in the blood stream at baseline setting the stage for insulin resistance. Since insulin is an anabolic(body building hormone), this can not only lead to weight gain, but also lead to central distribution of weight. Research has shown that central distribution of weight leads to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other health problems.

Tips for Avoiding Insulin Resistance

According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly two million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older in 2010. Since the grossly misleading food pyramid was introduced, the incidence of type 2 diabetes has gone up as much as 400 percent in the United States. Pre-diabetes, also called insulin resistance syndrome or metabolic syndrome, affects about a third of all Americans. If you have some extra weight especially around your waist, you might be insulin resistant! An obesity medicine physician specializing in the medical management of obesity and insulin resistance might be able to help. 

W8MD physicians have specialized obesity medicine training and are well versed with  managing insulin resistance and other metabolic effects of weight. W8MD physicians can help you lose weight safely, effectively using proven non surgical methods. Call (800)W8MD-007 for more information.

§    Get enough protein. If the body gets carbohydrates without enough protein, it goes into insulin resistance. Most people need about 30 grams of protein at each meal. One egg is about 7 grams. As we evolved as hunters and gatherers, we are designed to eat a non-grain based diet rich in protein, fruits, nuts and vegetables.

§    Try to work more physical activity into your day. Both exercise and resistance training can help reduce your risk of diabetes, and also helps to control it once you have it.

§    Eat more fiber. Fiber helps reduce your risk of diabetes by improving your blood sugar control. Try more fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

§    Choose whole grains. When you do eat grains, look for the word “whole” in the ingredient list. Whole wheat, stone-ground whole wheat, brown rice, and oats are all whole-grain ingredients.

§    Eat fewer simple carbohydrates. These foods, with high glycemic index, break down quickly in the body, and can lead to rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Go easy on foods like white rice, white bread, white pasta, refined flours, candy, fruit juice, soda pop, and baked goods made with white flour. The key is to understand glycemic Index of foods and focus on low glycemic foods.

§    Get enough sleep. When you’re sleep deprived, your body drives you to eat more simple carbohydrates. Get at least 7-8 hours a night.

§    Get help from Obesity Medicine physicians. You probably tried them all and still cannot lose weight! You might want to get help from physicians trained in Obesity Medicine that can help deal with the complex issues leading to weight gain.

Vegetarian diet for weight loss

A vegetarian dinner at a Japanese Buddhist temple

A vegetarian dinner at a Japanese Buddhist temple (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eating a more plant-based diet can boost your health, whether you’re a vegetarian or not.

What is it about the vegetarian lifestyle that can protect your health? And are there risks to being vegetarian? NIH-funded researchers are looking for answers. They’re exploring the many ways that diet and other factors affect our health.

Vegetarian meals focus on fruits and vegetables, dried beans, whole grains, seeds and nuts. By some estimates, about 2% of the U.S. adult population follows this type of diet.

People have many reasons for becoming vegetarians. Some want to eat more healthy foods. Others have religious or economic reasons or are concerned about animal welfare. “Vegetarian diets are also more sustainable and environmentally sound than diets that rely heavily on meat, poultry and fish,” says NIH nutritionist Dr. Susan Krebs-Smith, who monitors trends in cancer risk factors.

Most people think of vegetarian diets as simply eating plant foods and not eating meat, poultry and fish. “But in fact, there are many different types of vegetarian diets,” Krebs-Smith explains. “Some are more restrictive than others.”

Strict vegetarians, or vegans, eat plant foods and reject all animal products—meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy and sometimes honey. Those who also eat dairy products are called lacto vegetarians. Vegetarians who eat both dairy and eggs are called lacto-ovo vegetarians.

Some vegetarians eat fish but not meat or poultry. They’re called pescatarians (pesce is Italian for fish).

“Then there are the so-called flexitarians, or semi-vegetarians. These are people who eat a mostly vegetarian diet, but they occasionally eat meat,” says Jody Engel, a nutritionist and registered dietitian at NIH. “They might say ‘I’m a vegetarian, but I need to eat my burgers every Sunday.’  People tend to follow their own rules, which is one reason why it’s hard for researchers to study vegetarians. There’s so much variance.”

Despite the different definitions, “there’s tremendous agreement among nutrition experts and health organizations that a more plant-based diet is beneficial, whether you’re a true vegetarian or not,” says Krebs-Smith. “Most Americans don’t eat enough fruit, vegetables, legumes or whole grains. There’s a huge consensus that eating more of these foods would be a good idea for everyone.” 

Vegetarian diets tend to have fewer calories, lower levels of saturated fat and cholesterol, and more fiber, potassium and vitamin C than other eating patterns. Vegetarians tend to weigh less than meat-eaters, and to have lower cancer rates. “Evidence also suggests that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from certain heart diseases, and that those who follow a vegetarian diet tend to have lower LDL [“bad”] cholesterol levels,” says Engel. 

In some cases, though, it’s unclear if certain health benefits come from plant-based eating or from the healthy lifestyle of most vegetarians. “Vegetarians are generally more physically active and have healthier habits than non-vegetarians. They also typically have a higher socioeconomic status, at least in the United States,” says Krebs-Smith.

Because vegetarians by definition don’t eat meat, some people jump to the conclusion that simply cutting meat from your diet will lead to health benefits. “But it’s actually more complicated than that,” says Fraser. “Differences in life expectancy and other health matters might be related to the extra fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes—including soy—that vegetarians tend to eat. You can’t necessarily conclude it’s based on the absence of meat,” he says.

Experts generally agree that vegetarians who eat a wide variety of foods can readily meet all their body’s needs for nutrients. “At any stage of life, you should be able to eat a healthy diet by consuming vegetarian foods. But it does take a little planning,” says Rachel Fisher, a registered dietitian involved in nutrition research at NIH.

Vegetarians need to be sure they take in enough iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin B12. Studies show that most vegetarians do get enough, in part because so many cereals, breads and other foods are fortified with these nutrients. “Vegans in particular need to be certain to get enough vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids,” says Fisher. Omega-3—found in fish, flax seed, walnuts and canola oil—is important for heart health and vision.

Some vegetarians take dietary supplements to make sure they’re getting everything they need. It’s a good idea to talk to a registered dietitian or other health professional if you’re a vegetarian or thinking of becoming one.

Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, Fisher says, you can benefit from the high fiber, low fat and rich nutrients of a vegetarian diet. “Vegetarian foods can be so delicious, and they’re so good for you,” she says.

Try using a variety of spices and herbs to make things interesting. And make sure not to overcook your vegetables, or they might lose some of their valuable nutrients. 

Adapted from:

How to choose the right weight loss program for you?

Here is a list of commonly searched weight loss terms by people. With so many confusing choices, where do you begin? What is the right choice for you? Are there side effects or complications? How expensive are these so called “diets”. What if my body does not agree with the diet I choose? If any of the above sound familiar, you are not alone. About one in three Americans is trying to lose weight, according to research. bigstock-Reaching-Her-Target-Weight-4961548

With so much confusing and misleading information, you would need a physician familiar with evidence based diets to recommend the best diet for you. The best part is, if you have health insurance, and you are a bit overweight or obese, your insurances might cover the cost of the weight loss physician visit, thanks to the Affordable Care Act of 2010 that mandates insurance coverage for obesity for all adults.

Here are some of the commonly searched weight loss terms that people search? Where do you start? Let W8MD Medical Weight Loss Center’s of America’s unique weight loss and wellness program help you choose the right option for you.

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