More Health and Nutrition Bites

When is the best time to exercise? 01/18/23
Too much coffee might be bad - for some 01/11/23
Stay hydrated 01/04/23
Lower risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes with a Mediterranean diet 12/28/22
Stay sharp with flavonols 12/14/22
Salting at the table 12/07/22
On time - and Velveeta 11/30/22
Cut calories vs. cut protein intake: the results will surprise you 11/16/22
Mediterranean Diet Improves Symptoms of Depression in Young Men 11/09/22
Weight and vision 10/26/22
When you eat might matter more than previously thought 10/19/22
All Health and Nutrition Bites


There is No Substitute for a Healthy Diet
Pregnant women often ask me, "What brand of prenatal vitamins should I take?" before they ask about a healthy diet. My response is that prenatal vitamins can never replace healthy food.

What is a healthy dinner?
When I was growing up we had the typical diner Blue Plate Special of "a meat and two veg." This isn't too far from what makes sense for a healthy dinner. We know that combining protein with carbs helps you to feel satisfied for longer after a meal. One problem many people have is that they don't know what to actually put on their plate.


Health & Nutrition Bites

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Sometimes It's Just That Simple

If you've been reading my Health and Nutrition Bites for a while, you know they're all about numbers. Quintiles, quartiles, percents, pounds and kilograms... it can all be a little overwhelming when you're trying to figure out what is the best way to live healthier and longer. While the purpose of Dr. Gourmet's Health and Nutrition Bites is to explain current research in easy to understand terms and tell you just what that science means for you in the real world, today I want to share with you some research that is about as simple as it gets.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control worked with scientists at the German Institute of Human Nutrition on a study that included over 23,000 men and women between the ages of 35 and 65 (Arch Intern Med 2009;169(15):1355-1362). At the start of the study, each person received a score of 1 or 0 (yes or no) on four positive health factors:

  1. Never smoked? (Yes or no.)
  2. Had a Body Mass Index under 30? (Yes or no.)
    (Note that a Body Mass Index between 25 and 30 is considered overweight.
    The participants only had to be not obese to receive a positive score.)
  3. Got at least 3.5 hours per week of physical activity? (Yes or no.)
  4. Followed a fairly healthy diet, high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in red meat? (Yes or no.)

The participants were then followed for about 8 years, or until they developed at least one major chronic disease: type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke or cancer.

Here's the simple part: after controlling for other factors such as age, sex, education and alcohol consumption, the researchers compared those with a score of 4 with those who had a score of 0 positive health factors. Those with all four of the positive health factors were 78% less likely to develop one of those chronic diseases than those with none. Specifically, those with all four of those health factors were:

  • 93% less likely to develop diabetes,
  • 81% less likely to have a heart attack,
  • 50% less likely to have a stroke, and
  • 36% less likely to develop any form of cancer.

The researchers recognized that those who smoke can't go back to having never smoked once they quit. Among former smokers, those who had the other three positive health factors were still 69% less likely to develop one of the four chronic diseases (compared with 78% less likely for people who never smoked).

What this means for you

This is the positive effects of a healthy lifestyle writ just about as large as it can be. To live a longer, healthier life, avoid smoking, keep your weight down, get some exercise and eat healthy. Dr. Gourmet is here to help you with the eating healthy and maintaining a healthy weight part. The rest is up to you.

First posted: December 23, 2009