wellness

Fat Cells: Why Re-Gaining Weight Can Be So Easy

Fat Shack

Good news, bad news. Fat cells can be shrunk, but they rarely disappear. Once fat cells form, they might shrink during weight loss, but they do not disappear, a fact that has derailed many weigh.

Young mice fed a high-fat diet fail to produce fat cells within a day of starting a high-fat diet. “In studying what happens before these animals become obese, we found that this fat-producing response occurs unbelievably quickly,” said Matthew Rodeheffer, assistant professor of comparative medicine.

Weight gained is caused by the creation and expansion of white fat cells, or adipose tissue. Eating healthy and exercising can shrink fat cells but not eliminate them, which is why people can gain weight back so quickly.

So the next time you have a snow day and consider going on a 36-hr pizza and ice cream binge, definitely think twice. The body creates fat cells very fast and losing (or shrinking?) them can be a much more prolonged process.

Choline: It's What's For Breakfast

Breakfast Choline Eat

If you need another reason to have breakfast for dinner, look no further than everyone’s favorite vital nutrient that they’ve never heard of: Choline!

• Choline is a vital nutrient found in eggs, meat, and dairy products.

• But researchers find many people aren’t getting enough of the nutrient.

• Vegans and vegetarians have more risk for lower choline levels, but experts say people can take steps to supplement their diet.

Present in eggs, dairy, and meat, choline was recognized by the Institute of Medicine as an essential nutrient in 1998.

For the last 21 years, the institute has recommended daily choline intake of 550 milligrams (mg) per day for men and 425 mg per day for women, increasing to 450 mg during pregnancy and 550 mg for women who breastfeed.

That amount of choline intake doesn’t seem like it would be too difficult, considering that one hard-boiled egg has about 113 mg of choline.

But according to National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data, 90 percent of children (but not infants), pregnant women, and adults aren’t getting enough.

The takeaway: If you’re routinely skipping breakfast, make sure you’re getting enough choline in your diet.

Big Presentation? Final Exams? Try this!

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Big test coming up?  Or maybe you have an important class presentation first thing and you need to be at the top of your game?  Try a cold shower first thing in the morning.  Cold showers are any showers with a water temperature below 70°F.  Cold water therapy (i.e. hydrotherapy) has been used for centuries to take advantage of our body’s tendency to adapt to harsher conditions. As a result, after a cold shower our bodies become more resistant to stress and allows us to increase alertness and overall mental awareness.  Check out the benefits of a cold shower below.

Increases endorphins

Depression affects at least 10 percent of American adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  One holistic method of treatment that’s gaining popularity is hydrotherapy. Taking a cold shower for up to 5 minutes, 2 to 3 times per week, was shown to help relieve symptoms of depression.

The cold water sends many electrical impulses to your brain. It jolts your system to increase alertness, clarity, and energy levels. Endorphins, which are sometimes called happiness hormones, are also released. This effect leads to feelings of well-being and optimism.

Helps improve metabolism

People that are obese can’t simply start taking cold showers to lose weight without changing other lifestyle habits. But taking a cold shower 2 or 3 times per week may contribute to increased metabolism.  The research about how exactly cold showers help people lose weight is unclear. Still, it does show that cold water can even out certain hormone levels and heal the gastrointestinal system. These effects may add to the cold shower’s ability to lead to weight loss.

Improves circulation

It can feel uncomfortable to immerse our bodies in cold water, but it can also be invigorating. That’s because water that’s colder than our natural body temperature causes the body to work slightly harder to maintain its core temperature. When taken regularly, cold showers can make our circulatory system more efficient. Some people also report that their skin looks better as a result of cold showers, probably because of better circulation.

Athletes have known this benefit for years, even if we have only recently seen data that supports cold water for healing after a sport injury.  By bringing the temperature of an area of the body down, we speed up the delivery of warmer, freshly oxygenated blood to that area. And that speeds up recovery time. Some people may benefit from cold showers as a way to help their blood move through their body more quickly. These include people with poor circulation, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Helps fight off common illnesses

Our bodies are designed to become resistant to the elements we are exposed to. For example, leukocytes help fight infection in the body. The shock of cold water in the bloodstream stimulates leukocytes. This means that taking cold showers can help your resistance to common illnesses, like colds and the flu.

One study even indicated that cold showers could make the body more resistant to certain types of cancer. And a clinical trial in the Netherlands showed that people who took cold showers called out of work less.

People that are preparing for surgery or other disease treatment that could lead to decreased immunity might want to start taking cold showers in preparation.

Outlook

The ideal way to take a cold shower is to ease in to the habit.

Start by slowly lowering the temperature at the end of a usual shower. Get the water cold enough that you start to feel uncomfortable. Then, stay underneath the water for 2 or 3 minutes. Breathing deeply will help decrease your discomfort in your mind. The next time you try this exercise, make the water slightly colder. Try to last for another minute or two in the colder water. After performing this activity 7 to 10 times, you’ll find that you might even look forward to turning the hot water down.

What is a Microbiome and Why Is It Important?

The human body carries trillions of bacteria, viruses, and other tiny microbes.  Think of your body as a living/breathing rain forest.  Scientists call these resident bugs and all of their genes the “human microbiome.”

Some of these microbes can be harmful, but most have lived and evolved with humans for thousands of years.  They help train our immune systems to attack only foreign invaders, not our own joints and organs, and they pull essential nutrients out of the food we eat.

Today, people in the Western world have far fewer kinds of these helpful bacteria than their cousins in developing countries and that might be connected to rising rates of autoimmune diseases, such as asthma, and metabolic ones, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.  

Throughout our lives, we help shape our own microbiomes — plus they adapt to changes in our environment. For example, the foods you eat, how you sleep, the amount of bacteria you’re exposed to on a daily basis and the level of stress you live with all help establish the state of your microbiota.

Microbiome
Microbiome

Ten Nutrition Tips That We (Almost) All Agree With: Part 5

When Is the Royal Wedding

Between the Pinterest boards full of protein diets, the endless weight loss tips we see online and the countless low-carb diet foods we see in the grocery store, it’s getting more difficult to determine what we should and shouldn’t be eating.  VarCity HQ did a little leg work for you and scoured the internet for the common themes we saw from nutritionists throughout the internet. 

Below is VarCity’s top 10 list of nutrition rules that almost all experts agree with: 

9. "Diets" Don't Work — a Lifestyle Change Is Necessary

"Diets" are ineffective. That is a fact.

They may provide short-term results, but as soon as the diet ends and you start eating junk food again, you will gain the weight back. And then some.  This is called yo-yo dieting and is extremely common.

Most people who lose a lot of weight on a diet end up gaining it back whenever they "stop" the diet.  For this reason, the only thing that can give you actual long-term results is to adopt a lifestyle change.

SUMMARY
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is the only way to ensure long-term weight loss and a lifetime of improved health.

10. Unprocessed Food Is Healthiest

Processed food is generally not as healthy as whole food.

As the food system has become more industrialized, the health of the population has deteriorated.  During food processing, many of the beneficial nutrients in the food are removed.

Not only do food producers remove healthy nutrients like fiber, but they also add other potentially harmful ingredients like added sugar and trans fats.  Additionally, processed foods are loaded with all sorts of artificial chemicals, some of which have a questionable safety profile.

SUMMARY
Basically, processed foods have less of the good stuff and a lot more of the bad stuff.  The most important thing you can do to ensure optimal health is to eat real food. If it looks like it was made in a factory, don't eat it!

Ten Nutrition Tips That We (Almost) All Agree With: Part 4

When is the royal wedding

Between the Pinterest boards full of protein diets, the endless weight loss tips we see online and the countless low-carb diet foods we see in the grocery store, it’s getting more difficult to determine what we should and shouldn’t be eating.  VarCity HQ did a little leg work for you and scoured the internet for the common themes we saw from nutritionists throughout the internet. 

Below is VarCity’s Part 4 of our top 10 list of nutrition rules that almost all experts agree with: 

7. Refined Carbohydrates Are Bad for You

There are a lot of differing opinions about carbs and fat.  Some think fat is the root of all evil, while others believe carbs are the key players in obesity and other chronic diseases.

But what pretty much everyone agrees on is that refined carbohydrates are not as healthy as unrefined carbohydrates.

Unrefined carbs are basically whole foods that are rich in carbs. These include whole-grain cereals, beans, vegetables and fruits. Refined carbs, on the other hand, are sugar and refined flour.

Whole foods contain numerous beneficial nutrients and antioxidants.  However, when high-carb foods such as grains are processed, the most nutritious parts are stripped off. What is left are massive amounts of easily digestible starch.

Those who base their diets on refined carbs may be lacking in fiber and many other healthy nutrients. As a result, they are at an increased risk of chronic disease.  Eating refined carbs will also cause rapid spikes in blood sugar. While high blood sugar levels are unhealthy for all people, they are a much greater concern in people with diabetes.

It is clear that whole grains and unrefined carbohydrates are a lot healthier than their refined, processed counterparts.

SUMMARY
Refined carbohydrates like processed grains are unhealthy. They are lacking in nutrients and eating them may lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin, which can cause all sorts of problems down the line.

8. Supplements Can Never Fully Replace Real Foods

"Nutritionism" is the idea that foods are nothing more than the sum of their individual nutrients.  But it’s also a trap that many nutrition enthusiasts tend to fall into.

Nuts, for example, aren't just shells loaded with polyunsaturated fat. In the same way, fruits aren't just watery bags of sugar.  These are real foods with a massive variety of trace nutrients.

The vitamins and minerals, the ones you can also get from a cheap multivitamin, are just a small part of the total amount of nutrients in foods.  Therefore, supplements cannot match the variety of nutrients you get from real foods.

However, many supplements can be beneficial, especially those that contain nutrients that are generally lacking in the diet, like vitamin D.  But no amount of supplements will ever make up for a bad diet. Not a chance.

SUMMARY
It is much more important to eat real, nutritious foods than to count on supplements to provide the nutrients you need.