- Increased total cholesterol level
- Increased LDL (the "bad" cholesterol)
- Decreased HDL (the "good" cholesterol)
- Increased triglyceride level
- Increased inflammation (the source of a host of diseases)
- Increased blood viscosity (increases the risk of blood clots and stroke)
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Increased risk of Alzheimer's disease
- Increased risk of breast cancer
- Increased risk of kidney disease
- Increased risk of type-2 diabetes
- Increased risk of Multiple Sclerosis
- Increased risk of prostate cancer
- Increased risk of lymphoma
The typical American tends to eat a diet characterized by excessive saturated and trans fats due to an overconsumption of fast foods and red meat. Foods high in saturated fat include beef, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, palm oil, butter, cheese, and milk. Foods high in trans fat include crisco oil, margarine, butter, shortening, crackers, candies, cookies, cakes, doughnuts, fried foods, baked goods, nondairy creamers, and meats. This is a recipe for a health disaster! The health consequences of eating this way day after day after day will become apparent soon enough when you go get a medical checkup. Here are just some of the health scares:
An analysis in the journal Stroke looked at the combined data from several observational studies to determine a correlation between increased fiber intake and lower incidence of stroke. Fiber may lessen the risk of stroke by controlling blood pressure and reducing blood cholesterol and blood sugar. So eat your fruits and vegetables!
Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages worldwide so it's really not at all that surprising that researchers have been studying its effects on the human body. As such, much information has been discovered regarding coffee's benefits and possible negative effects.
The Pros of Coffee Consumption:
* Type-2 diabetes
* Some cancers (e.g., oral, colon, skin, esophageal, pharyngeal, breast, prostate)
* Asthma attacks
* Heart rhythm problems
* Liver cirrhosis
The Cons of Coffee Consumption:
For your information, the following is the average caffeine content per cup (in mg):
Indeed, this trend in eating gluten-free foods is a phenomenon to dieting just as mysterious as the trend in crossfit is to exercise. First a little background. Gluten consists of several proteins present in many grains (e.g., wheat, barley, rye, oats) which provides texture to foods such as breads, cakes, muffins, and pasta but has very little nutritional value. Most people are able to digest the proteins which make up gluten although there are some who either have an autoimmune condition known as celiac disease or have an allergic reaction (gluten sensitivity) to these proteins which prevents nutrient digestion. Celiac disease, an immune disorder affecting about one percent of Americans, causes the development of antibodies which attack the body's intestinal tract, preventing the absorption of the proteins as well as calcium and iron. Symptoms include diarrhea, bloating, cramps, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite. Gluten sensitivity has been estimated to affect about six percent of Americans and is due to a lack of intestinal enzymes needed to properly digest the proteins which comprise gluten.
The intention to eat gluten-free foods may be considered smart since most foods which contain gluten are refined-processed foods with very little nutritional value. But I suspect most people avoid gluten-containing foods not because of low nutritional quality but instead due to a psychological phobia towards gluten. In other words, they believe they are allergic to gluten but in reality this is not the case. The media may be to blame for this unnecessary scare because it has perpetuated the myth that eating wheat may become addictive and make you fat. Moreover, eating wheat may cause an increased risk of certain systemic diseases (e.g., heart disease, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, osteroporosis, etc.). There is no conclusive evidence to indicate eating wheat may make you fat and/or cause chronic health problems.
The recommendation is to eat more whole wheat and less refined wheat to lessen any possible risk of incurring chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Good substitutes to gluten-containing wheat, barley, and oat foods are buckwheat, corn, rice, and quinoa. Quinoa, in particular, is a superb substitute since it is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all of the essential amino acids. Quinoa can be cooked just like rice.
BOTTOM LINE: There's no conclusive evidence that eating gluten-free foods is healthier and can effectively cause weight loss. In fact, many gluten-free foods are higher in calories than their regular counterparts. The weight lost from eating gluten-free foods is likely due to eating less refined carbs rather than gluten itself. Since many gluten-free foods are made of refined flour, they lack the fiber found in whole-wheat foods that can aid in weight control. Moreover, wheat gluten may actually have health benefits (e.g., decreases triglyceride levels, provides beneficial intestinal bacteria). Unless you have been diagnosed as having celiac disease or are gluten intolerant, there is no reason to avoid all wheat products. Instead, switch to 100% whole-grain foods and eat less processed foods (e.g., cakes, cookies, pizza, etc.). If you feel better from cutting out gluten foods in your diet, it's most likely due to eating less refined carbs rather than from eliminating gluten.
Even though intuitively we know this can't possibly be a wise move, surprisingly many people do eat within an hour of going to sleep (and sometimes a heavy meal--think the European lifestyle of late-evening family meals). "So what's the big deal?" you may ask. The list of adverse health consequences range from acid reflux (AKA heartburn) to high blood pressure to type-2 diabetes to obesity and so on. Of late is a new study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2011 which found a correlation between sleeping soon (specifically within an hour) after dinner and an increased risk of stroke. Stroke is the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. One theory for the causation may be related to acid reflux disease which causes sleep apnea which in turn is a risk factor for stroke. Yet another theory is that soon after eating blood sugar levels rise along with cholesterol levels which affects blood viscosity and flow, increasing stroke risk.
Whatever the cause, it would be better to have a light snack (e.g., 1/2 cup of cottage cheese, slice of cheese, half of a sandwich, a handful of whole-grain crackers, or a protein shake) rather than a big meal. In this way, indigestion risk will be minimized and glucose levels will not fluctuate dramatically. Remember the old saying, "Eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince, and dinner like a Pauper."