Eating and Living to Keep Your Eyes Young and Healthy

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 19, 2014

A variety of lifestyle changes can help improve your eye health.

Today’s blog post comes from Dr. Donald B. Levy, Medical Director of the Osher Clinical Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of visual loss in older adults. Your risk of developing AMD is related to genetics, diet, blood pressure management, smoking, and other factors.

Diet and Exercise

A healthy diet, especially one rich in green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, Swiss chard, and collard greens, along with whole grains, nuts, and some fish, is good for eye health. Regular physical activity and avoidance of tobacco products also is recommended to avoid or slow the progression of AMD.

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Smart Snacking for the Athlete

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 19, 2014

It's important to eat and drink enough before, during, and after your workouts.

Today’s post was contributed by Registered Dietitian Kate Sweeney, manager of the Nutrition Consultation Service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and a key member of the Women’s Sports Medicine Program at BWH. Kate is an accomplished triathlete and is ranked among the top 18 female triathletes, ages 30-34, in the country.

Whether you are training for a marathon or just working on improving your fitness level, making sure you eat and drink enough before, during, and after your workouts is an important part of optimal sports nutrition. If you’re under-fueled for training, you may experience hunger in the middle of your workout or feel sluggish. You also may feel that you’re working hard but not seeing improvement in your strength or endurance.

To be adequately fueled for each workout session, snacking between meals and eating during training is often required. Being consistent with your nutrition before, during, and after training sessions also is key to training and success on athletic event days.

Here are some guidelines:

Pre-Workout Nutrition

Pre-workout snacks provide energy, add to glycogen stores, and decrease risk for low blood glucose levels. If you are planning a workout lasting one hour or more, or your workout is of high intensity, a smaller meal of 50 grams carbohydrate two to three hours before, or a snack of 15-25 grams carbohydrate one hour before can be consumed.

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What’s the Big Deal about Salt?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 28, 2013

Excess sodium intake not only increases blood pressure, but also increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.

Today’s post is written by Kathy McManus, MS, RD, LDN, Director, Department of Nutrition and Nutrition Director, Program for Weight Management. The post originally appeared in the Healthy 850 Newsletter, published by the Osher Clinical Center for Integrative Medicine.

Some consumers believe that dietary salt (sodium) is only a concern if they have high blood pressure; not true. Excess sodium intake not only increases blood pressure, but also increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in the US. The American Heart Association (AHA) reports that 97 percent of children and adolescents eat too much salt, putting them at greater risk for cardiovascular disease as they age.

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Eight Tips for Eating Less

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital June 19, 2013

Research shows that folks who shop for food when they're hungry tend to buy higher-calorie items.

The following post was adapted from our Health-e-Weight enewsletter.

Summer is a few weeks away, and many of us are looking for ways to slim down.  The challenge is that food is everywhere, making it easy to overeat. Often hunger and taste appeal are further down the pecking order of why we eat. Much has been written and studied regarding the concept of mindless eating. Here’s a summary of tips to help us not overconsume calories.

  • Pay attention to plate/bowl and utensil sizes. Using smaller items generally results in smaller amounts.
  • Keep calorie-dense foods less visible. If it is around, you are more likely to eat. On the other hand, keep lesser-calorie items like fruits and vegetables more handy. Read More »

Not So Sweet – Sugary Drinks Linked to Kidney Stone Risk

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital June 18, 2013

Drinking soda, even at modest levels, may lead to a higher risk of developing kidney stones.

The copious consumption of sugary drinks already has been linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. And now, new research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital suggests that consuming sugar-sweetened beverages, even at modest levels, could put folks at greater risk for developing yet another health issue, a quite painful one – kidney stones.

“Our study found that the relation between fluid intake and kidney stones may be dependent on the type of beverage consumed,” explains Gary Curhan, MD, ScD, a physician in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH and senior author of this study. “We found that higher consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks was associated with a higher incidence of kidney stones.”

After analyzing the data of nearly 200,000 participants from three large-scale studies – the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, the Nurses’ Health Study I, and Nurses’ Health Study II – researchers found that people who consumed one or more sugar-sweetened cola servings per day had a 23 percent higher risk of developing kidney stones than those who consumed less than one serving per week. Similarly, drinking other types of sugar-sweetened beverages, such as fruit punch, were found to carry just as great a risk as soda for developing kidney stones. On the other hand, there also was strong evidence that some beverages, such as coffee, tea and orange juice, were associated with a lower risk of stone formation.

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Does Pre-Surgery Diet Affect Post-Surgery Recovery?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 16, 2013

Dr. C. Keith Ozaki (center) and his research team suggest that your pre-surgery diet can affect your post-surgery recovery.

Dr. C. Keith Ozaki (center) and his team suggest that a patient's pre-surgery diet can affect their post-surgery recovery.

Does it matter what a patient eats before surgery?

According to a new study led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers, the type of food that patients eat in the days leading up to surgery, as well as their long-term dietary habits, may have a significant impact on their recovery. Partners from the Center for Cancer Computational Biology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and from the Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases at the Harvard School of Public Health also contributed to the findings.

Specifically, the research team found that consuming a high-fat diet, as compared to a low-fat diet, leads to higher levels of post-surgical inflammation in the fatty tissue traumatized during major surgery. This inflammation, in turn, may drive complications such as heart attacks and wound problems.

The pre-clinical study suggests that patients who habitually follow a low-fat diet may fare best in minimizing post-surgical fat inflammation. Importantly, the researchers also observed that short-term behavior modification can reap benefits. Their findings revealed that in the setting of a high-fat diet, patients might significantly lower their levels of post-surgical inflammation simply by shifting to a low-fat diet for a short time frame before surgery.

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Watching the Clock: An Effective Dieting Tool?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 19, 2013

Should you be concerned about when you eat?

A well-known saying suggests that timing is everything when it comes to success in life’s pursuits.  The results of a study by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), in collaboration with the University of Murcia (Spain) and Tufts University, suggests that’s also the case when it comes to losing weight. They found that it’s not simply what you eat, but also when you eat, that may help you successfully lose or manage your weight.

To study the role of food timing on weight loss, the researchers studied 420 overweight subjects in Spain during a 20-week weight-loss treatment program. The study subjects were divided into two groups: early eaters and late eaters, according to the timing of their main meal. (In Spain, the main meal is usually lunch, when people may consume as much as 40 percent of total daily calories.) Early eaters ate lunch anytime before 3 p.m. and late eaters, after 3 p.m. The researchers found that late eaters lost significantly less weight than early eaters and experienced a much slower rate of weight loss.

“This is the first large-scale prospective study to demonstrate that the timing of meals predicts weight-loss effectiveness,” said Dr. Frank Scheer, director of the Medical Chronobiology Program and associate neuroscientist at BWH and senior author of this study. “Our results indicate that late eaters displayed a slower weight-loss rate and lost significantly less weight than early eaters, suggesting that the timing of large meals could be an important factor in a weight loss program.”

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Worried about Workplace Weight Gain?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 7, 2012

Make healthy eating a workplace priority.

Is your workplace making it more difficult to manage your weight? If so, you are not alone.

According to a survey by Career Builder, forty-four percent of workers have experienced weight gain at their current job. Reasons include sitting at a desk most of the day and eating lunch and snacks there; stress-related eating; workplace celebrations; temptation of the office candy jar or food-filled break room; and pressure to eat food that co-workers bring in.

Here are tips on ways can you handle these numerous opportunities to consume more calories than needed:

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No More Excuses for Skipping Breakfast

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 7, 2012

What you choose for breakfast is just as important as eating breakfast.

With school back in session, eating breakfast is more important than ever  for adults as well as children. Studies examining dietary habits suggest that eating breakfast can reduce the risk of obesity and high cholesterol, improve performance on memory-related tasks, minimize impulsive snacking and overeating at other meals, and enhance school performance in children and young adults. And, with a little creativity, the first meal of the day can be one of the best.

What you choose for breakfast is just as important as eating breakfast. It’s the perfect time to start working toward your recommended five daily servings of fruits and vegetables and three daily servings of whole grains. Choosing high fiber foods (such as nuts or whole grain cereals) have the added benefit of warding off mid-morning hunger by creating a feeling of fullness. Likewise, adding some protein such as seafood, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry, egg, or egg substitute can also aid in suppressing hunger.

If you’re pressed for time, make a grab-and-go breakfast. Wrap a whole-grain tortilla around peanut butter and a banana, or spread peanut butter and jam on whole grain bread and take along a piece of fruit and a carton of low-fat milk. Or stuff a whole-wheat pita with low-fat cream cheese or low-fat cottage cheese and canned sliced peaches.

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