Not getting enough sleep is only one reason why people feel tired all the time

Tired All the Time? 11 Reasons Why (Besides Lack of Sleep)

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the blog here.

NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP IS ONLY ONE REASON WHY PEOPLE FEEL TIRED ALL THE TIME

We’ve all felt exhausted at one time or another, but what if you’re tired all the time? While that’s definitely not good, it may help to know you’re not alone. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control has increased its surveillance of sleep-related disorders in recent years in recognition of the problem.

The issue of inadequate sleep is a national health concern because it is associated with a higher risk of several chronic diseases, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cancer. It also increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents and industrial and occupational errors.

Since no one wants to drag themselves through each day feeling tired and weak, what’s keeping them from getting all the rest they need?

Snoring, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and insomnia are the most common sleep disorders that keep people from getting a good night’s rest. Each can be diagnosed and treated to restore sound sleep to the sufferer and his/her sleeping partner. But many other conditions can leave you feeling sluggish no matter how many hours of sleep you get.

There’s no reason to take feeling run down as the new normal, no matter how long you’ve suffered or how many other people you know who have the same complaint. A simple change of diet or medication may be all that is needed to correct the underlying problem.

11 Reasons Why You May Be Tired All the Time

  1. Allergies – Some food cause sudden sleepiness right after eating them. Allergies to dust, mold, pollen and other things in the environmental can trigger allergic sinusitis, which can cause fatigue.
  2. Anemia – Iron-deficiency anemia is the most common blood condition in the US and a common cause of fatigue.
  3. Thyroid Problems – The thyroid gland regulates metabolism. If it is under active, you will feel sluggish.
  4. Rheumatoid Arthritis – This inflammatory condition can produce extreme fatigue along with pain and joint stiffness.
  5. Diabetes – The cells are deprived of glucose in undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes, so they can’t produce energy.
  6. Depression – The chronic feelings of sadness, worry, and hopelessness that accompany depression can result in feeling sluggish and tired all the time.
  7. Dehydration – When fluids are not regularly replaced, blood volume falls and the heart must work harder to pump the blood the body needs, which can lead to fatigue.
  8. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – There is no known cause for this syndrome which often includes headache, inability to concentrate, and muscle weakness.
  9. Poor Diet – Deficiencies in Vitamins D, B12, and folate or minerals potassium, magnesium and calcium can lead to muscle weakness and fatigue.
  10. Lack of Fuel – Skipping meals or not eating enough can deprive the body of sufficient calories to fuel everyday activities.
  11. Heart Disease – Fatigue while doing things that were once easy can be a symptom of undiagnosed heart disease.

When is the last time you got through the day without running out of energy?

Check these related blogs for more information of feeling tired:

  • Anemia Causes Higher Risk of Death After Stroke
  • The World’s Most Popular Drug: Caffeine
It’s not just what you eat on the Mediterranean Diet plan, but how you eat it

The Mediterranean Diet Plan is About More Than the Food

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the original blog here.

IT’S NOT JUST WHAT YOU EAT ON THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET PLAN BUT HOW YOU EAT IT

What makes the Mediterranean diet plan so special? The cuisines of Spain, France, Italy, Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Malta, Tunisia, Turkey, Algeria, Albania, Greece, Israel, Croatia, Libya and Lebanon – all countries that have a border on the Mediterranean – certainly are not all the same. Some use rice as a staple, others rely on wheat. Some feature pork, while for others it’s forbidden. Some drink wine every day, yet some abstain completely.

Could the health benefits be due to something other than the food?

What Foods Make the Mediterranean Diet Special?

In the 1960s researchers first reported longer lifespans and less chronic disease among people in Spain, southern Italy, and Greece compared to the US, Japan and several European countries. The scientists attributed the health and longevity of the people living along the Mediterranean to their diet.

After 50 years of continuing study into what they were eating, a Mediterranean Diet Pyramid was published in 1995 (we had Food Pyramids before we got My Plate), then updated in 2008.

The current version includes foods recommended for every meal in the first tier: fruits, vegetables, grains (mostly whole), nuts, legumes, seeds, olives, olive oil, herbs and spices. The next level adds fish and seafood, to be eaten at least twice a week. The third tier introduces moderate amounts of poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt, either daily or weekly. Then the top and final space is for sweets and meats, both to be eaten sparingly. Water and wine are the only beverages called for.

The major distinctions from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are the emphasis on foods from plant sources at every meal, using olive oil as the primary fat, choosing minimally processed food, and eating very little red meat. But that’s not all that’s different.

What Else Makes the Mediterranean Diet Special?

As it turns out, the way people eat is as important as what they eat. For folks living the good life along the Mediterranean, mealtimes are social occasions enjoyed in the company of family and friends. That does not mean they eat off their best china at every meal, but rather, they spend time at the table savoring their food without the distractions of their jobs or beeping electronic gadgets.

And that just might be the best way to begin your journey towards a more Mediterranean diet. Yes, the whole wheat couscous, Kalamata olives and fresh fish are important, but who knows what else might happen if you come to the table ready to sit down, log off, and tune in to one another?

How are you going to celebrate National Mediterranean Diet Month this May?

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Soy is good for everyone, not just vegetarians

Soy is Good for Everyone, Not Just Vegetarians

This post was written as a guest blog for Family Goes Strong. You can read the original post here.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A VEGETARIAN TO BENEFIT FROM INCLUDING MORE SOY IN YOUR DIET

Being a vegetarian isn’t the only reason to eat soy-based products. There are benefits for all of us – young or old, vegan or omnivore – to incorporating more soyfoods into our meals. The one I promote the most is that it increases the variety in our diets. That is also the tagline for National Soyfoods Month, which is celebrated in April each year.

I like to focus on variety because it’s the best way to make room on “your plate” for everything you enjoy while keeping any food from taking up more space than it should. And that helps you deal with the hard-to-grasp concept of moderation. Simply put, it means you must control the amount and frequency of everything you eat to have a balanced diet.

Yet with all the news you hear about “super foods,” it’s easy to believe you can eat all you want of some foods (you can’t), or you’d be better off limiting your diet to some top ten list (you won’t). Eating a greater variety of foods is the best bet for optimal nutrition.

So in honor of National Soyfoods Month, here are some reasons why you might want to expand the variety of your family’s diet with the addition of more soyfoods:

12 Reasons to Add Soy to Your Diet

  • Lower dietary cholesterol
  • Enjoy more meatless meals
  • Decrease risk of breast cancer in later life
  • Use instead of peanuts for those with peanut allergy
  • Replace cow’s milk for those with lactose intolerance
  • Provide choice for those with milk protein allergy
  • Reduce saturated fat in diet
  • Increase fiber in the diet
  • Ease constipation
  • Incorporate another vegetable (yes, soybeans are vegetables!)
  • Provide an alternate protein source to a vegetarian or finicky eater
  • Get another source of calcium using fortified soy milk

You can find soy-based products in every section of the grocery store, so why not add a few of these to your shopping list?

Where to Find Soyfoods in the Supermarket

Produce – fresh soybeans, tofu, tempeh, miso

Freezer – edamame, soy burgers, soy nuggets, soy crumbles

Dairy – soymilk, soy yogurt, soy cheese

Snack – soy nuts, soy chips, soy bars

Staples – canned soybeans, soy pasta, soy flour

How many different soy foods do you eat each week?

New research shows good results when diet drinks are part of overall healthy diet

Can Diet Drinks Be Part of Healthy Diet?

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you read the blog here.

NEW RESEARCH SHOWS GOOD RESULTS WHEN DIET DRINKS ARE PART OF OVERALL HEALTHY DIET

Links between the consumption of diet drinks and health problems have been reported in the past, but no smoking gun has ever been found. Now researchers have uncovered the secret weapon. Eating a healthy diet, with or without diet drinks, lowers the risk for chronic disease.

Does this come as a surprise to you? It certainly doesn’t to me. I have always professed that no single food or ingredient, including diet beverages, is responsible for obesity or the diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and cancer that go with it.

Here’s what the latest study found.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill looked at the dietary patterns of more than 4000 Americans who were between the ages of 18 and 30 when the study began in the mid-1980s. Subjects were classified as having a “Prudent” diet made up of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, milk, fish, nuts and seeds or a “Western” diet with higher intakes of fast food, processed food, meat, poultry, pizza, sugar, and snacks.

Over the course of 20 years, 827 participants in the study developed metabolic syndrome. After considering other risk factors, such as body weight and level of exercise, the researchers evaluated the relationship between the use of diet beverages and the two dietary patterns and the risk of metabolic syndrome. This is what they found.

Those who ate a:

  • Prudent diet with no diet drinks had the lowest risk of metabolic syndrome
  • Prudent diet with diet drinks had a slightly higher risk (2%) of metabolic syndrome
  • Western diet with diet soda had the highest risk of metabolic syndrome

The researchers concluded that their study was observational and does not prove diet drinks have a negative effect on health. But there’s another way to look at the results. Those eating a Prudent diet were more likely to consume diet drinks than those eating a Western diet, which suggests a strong link between diet drinks and healthier diets.

How would you rate your diet over the past 20 years?

Parents can play a major role in preventing childhood obesity

Childhood Obesity: 5 Things Every Parent Should Know

This post was written as a guest blog for Family Goes Strong. You can read the original post here.

PARENTS CAN PLAY A MAJOR ROLE IN PREVENTING CHILDHOOD OBESITY

Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the United States over the past 30 years. It affects children in every state and from every socioeconomic group. As of 2008, more than one-third of children and adolescents in the U.S. were overweight or obese.

When a problem becomes that prevalent there is a danger of not taking it as seriously as we should. But the risks of obesity are too great to ignore. Preventing excess weight gain in children may be the most important way we can protect their health and quality of life.

With more than 30 years of experience helping families deal with childhood obesity, I know there is no simple solution to this problem. But there are some things every parent should know as they consider their options.

5 Things You Need to Know About Childhood Obesity

1. Your child’s relationship with food is established in the first five years of life

When solid foods are first introduced to a child between the ages of 4 and 6 months, they begin their relationship with food. For the next year parents must learn to interpret the subtle signals their children use to express how hungry they are and what they like until they can tell you themselves. The goal is to allow the child’s internal sensation of hunger to govern how often and how much they eat. Their evolving taste preferences should allow them to accept and refuse different foods without threat of punishment or reward. If this is done consistently, in an eating environment where no bias or judgment is expressed about any food, children will grow to trust their feelings of hunger and appetite by the time they start school.

2. What is eaten at home is more important than what is served at school

Children spend far more time eating at home or out with their parents than they do in school. What children experience during meals with their family is far more important than the institutional feeding that goes on in schools. If parents don’t like the selections available on school menus, they can pack a lunch for their child to eat instead. But if a child is being exposed to new foods in the cafeteria that are not available at home, they have no choice but to eat what is served at home.

3. Weight loss in parents is the biggest predictor of children’s weight loss

A recent study looked at 80 parent-child sets with an overweight or obese 8-12 year old in each. The participants were assigned to one of three different programs to help their child lose weight. Features of the three programs included having the parents change the home food environment, limit what the child ate, and lose weight themselves. The researchers found parents’ weight loss was the only significant predictor of children’s weight loss. These results are consistent with other research showing how important the example set by parents is to successful weight loss in their children.

4. Genetics are a factor in obesity, but age of onset is more important

There is no test we can take at birth to tell us who will become overweight or obese as an adult. If one or both parents are obese, that does increase a child’s risk of also becoming obese, but it is not inevitable. Research from the Children’s Hospital and Medical Center of Cincinnati found that being obese during the teen years is a stronger indicator of who will be obese in adulthood than being obese in early childhood, regardless of whether the parents were obese. Preventing obesity in adolescents is one of the best ways to prevent obesity in adults.

5. Treat overweight and obesity in your child as a health concern, not an image problem

All children need to learn how the food they eat and their level of activity can affect their health. The conversation should be the same for an overweight child and one who is not, just like talking about the importance of wearing seatbelts and getting immunized. When the focus is on staying healthy, not appearance, your child is less likely to develop emotional issues about their weight.

Sitting less can reduce the risk for many diseases and dying prematurely.

Sitting Too Much Raises the Risk for Dying Sooner

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the original blog here.

STUDY SHOWS THE MORE HOURS SPENT SITTING THE GREATER THE CHANCE OF DYING

If you sit more than you sleep, you may have Sitting Disease. That’s the term used to describe a sedentary lifestyle. And even if you exercise for an hour a day – which very few people do -you’re not off the hook. Sedentary is defined as a lack of whole body muscle movement for extended periods of time. So if you spend most of your day in a chair or a bed after that daily workout, you’re sedentary!

Sitting, or long periods of inactivity, have been shown to raise your risk of developing obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The increased risk for disease associated with sitting is not the same thing as the recommendation to exercise more. Sitting for many hours a day is the problem. Exercise or other forms of physical activity are also important to good health, but for different reasons.

Even your life expectancy is impacted by sitting according to a study done by the American Cancer Society in 2010. Researchers looked at the amount of time spent sitting and being active in 123,216 individuals. They found women who sat the most and were the least physically active had a 94% higher likelihood of dying compared to women who sat less and moved more. For men the increased likelihood of dying was 48% higher.

The extended hours spent sitting have accumulated as jobs moved from field to office and walking was replaced by riding. Modern conveniences in our homes eliminate the need to chop wood, haul water and scrub clothes, so we have more time to sit and watch television. The very presence of so many “screens” in our lives – whether TV, computer or handheld – and the endless programs, movies, games and connections we can see on them keep us sitting even longer.

The problem is our bodies weren’t designed for all this inactivity. Throughout human history survival required that we remain active and alert. The only time our ancestors weren’t in motion was when they were sleeping.

The obesity epidemic has been blamed on too many calories and not enough exercise, but sitting is another contributor to the problem. Once you sit down the rate at which you burn calories drops to about 1 calorie per minute, regardless of how hard you are thinking. Standing increases the rate at which we burn calories by 10% while walking increases it by 150%!

Sitting has been described by some as the new smoking it’s so damaging to our health. It‘s time to stand up and fight back against the Sitting Disease!

To put this information to use, all you need to do is stand up right now while reading the rest of this blog. Then build regular time-outs for standing into your day by doing things standing that you once did sitting. You can stand:

  • Every time the phone rings and remain standing for all calls
  • During all commercials when watching TV
  • In line inside the bank instead of sitting in the car in the drive-through
  • When reading at your desk for 10 minutes out of every hour
  • On subways, in waiting rooms, at the boarding gate in the airport
  • To change the channel on the TV or simply “lose” the remote

Check Just Stand! for more tips and information

See related post on Exercise Can be Fun!

Avoid overeating at Christmas parties to reduce risk for weight gain in the New Year.

Is Overeating at Christmas Just One More Way to Splurge?

AVOID OVEREATING AT CHRISTMAS TO PROTECT YOUR HEALTH

It’s party season and with those parties comes the annual excuse to eat, drink and be merry! Then after splurging on too much food or booze there’s the all too familiar lament, “It was just this one time.” Trouble is, that particular “one time” may have been the annual Christmas party, while the next “one time” may be your birthday or wedding anniversary or you-name-it occasion that is just another excuse to overeat and drink.

Before you know it, those binges are happening on a regular basis. But no matter what the frequency, they are not good for your body or diet. The excess calories, fat, sodium and whatever else you swallow without tasting are nearly impossible to offset by weeks of sensible eating and drinking. Even one big splurge a year can trigger an inflammatory response that can leave permanent scars on your artery walls.

Believing that it’s okay to overindulge once in a while is like believing you can drive over the speed limit without wearing a seatbelt occasionally. Both are very risky behaviors that can have drastic consequences.

The sooner you get those eating and drinking binges under control, the better your health will be. Here’s why.

Our bodies do not rate us on how many “good” days of eating we’ve had against the number of “bad” days. Instead, the value of everything we eat and drink is counted as consumed. The goal is for the high numbers to get averaged down by lower ones so our totals add up right by the end of the week.

For example, if you have a caloric allowance of 2000 per day and eat 2200 calories on Monday, you need to eat just 1800 on Tuesday to average it out. Or you can eat 1900 on both Tuesday and Wednesday to offset the excess 200 calories. Or you can add another 30 minutes of moderate physical activity to your week to cancel them out.

But what if you splurge over the weekend and eat an extra 3000 calories or 80 grams of fat or 5000 mg of sodium? It’s not difficult to consume those values in one sitting, but scaling back on what and how much you eat in order to offset them is nearly impossible. There just aren’t enough days in the week to average those high numbers back into your diet.

The result is slow but steady weight gain, clogged arteries and high blood pressure, along with an increasing risk for numerous other preventable diseases. Splurging for just one day or even one meal is not worth it if you cannot repair the damage.

The best anti-splurging strategy during this holiday party season and throughout the rest of the year is a simple one. Don’t let refreshments become more important than relationships.

  • Connect with the people instead of your plate.
  • Talk and listen more, eat and drink less.
  • Leave with the number for a new contact, not another notch up on the scale.

Read more about the numbers that matter in my post:

Weight Control, Healthy Diet and Fitness Are All a Numbers Game

It is never too late to adopt a healthy diet in retirement

A Healthy Diet in Retirement, Does it Matter?

FOLLOW THESE GOALS FOR A HEALTHY DIET IN RETIREMENT

Hypertension, heart disease and diabetes – three preventable diseases that are the result of modern lifestyles. No matter which one you are diagnosed with, medications are immediately prescribed and dietary modifications are recommended. Unfortunately, few people make the needed changes in their diets while it might still do them some good. Instead, they take the pills and hope for the best.

Then by the time they’re ready to retire, there is little that a change in diet can do to reverse the damage from eating too much saturated fat, sodium and sugar. The most they can hope for is the ability to juggle all the overlapping conditions and restrictions.

So what are the dietary goals for those in retirement?

Aging results in changes in normal digestion and absorption, which impact your nutrient requirements, along with the effects of multiple medications and long-standing diseases. That is why most nutrition research does not typically include subjects older than 55 – there aren’t enough “healthy” people in that age group to study.

Consequently, there is no simple diet plan for the over 60 crowd. But there are three important areas to focus on until you can get a thorough nutritional assessment and individualized dietary plan from a registered dietitian.

Nutrient Density

While there is no one diet that fits all, we do know that a more nutrient dense one is important. That means your diet should be made up foods that provide more nutrients in fewer calories because calorie needs go down with age while nutrient requirements increase. Nutrient dense foods include:

  • Colorful fruits and vegetables, including fresh, frozen, canned, dried and juice
  • Lean cuts of meat, skinless poultry, fish, eggs, beans
  • Low fat and fat free milk, yogurt and cheese
  • Whole grains and cereals and the products made from them, like whole wheat bread and pasta

Expand Variety

Meals can easily become repetitious and monotonous, and that’s not a good. Variety is important both within each food group and throughout the year to be sure all of the nutrients you need are available from the foods in which they are naturally found.

It can be as simple as adding something new to your menu each week. Try a different type of apple or a frozen vegetable medley containing edamame (they’re soybeans!). Have cornmeal polenta as a side dish or black beans in your salad.

Ease Up on Extras

There are many things people enjoy eating and drinking that add little nutritional value to their diets, but do add calories. These extras include cake, cookies and candy and the butter, cream cheese and other spreads added to foods. While it is not necessary to give them up entirely, it is important to eat them less often and in smaller portions or to use lower calorie substitutes for them when available.

For example, a slice of peach pie can be replaced with a dish of sliced peaches (fresh, frozen or canned in unsweetened juice) topped with 2 crushed ginger snaps as a way how to have your pie and eat it, too!

Are you ready to change your eating habits for the better?

Numbers matter for weight control, healthy diet and physical fitness

Weight Control, Healthy Diet and Fitness are All a Numbers Game

MAKING SURE ALL THE NUMBERS ADD UP RIGHT ARE IMPORTANT FOR WEIGHT CONTROL, A HEALTHY DIET AND PHYSICAL FITNESS

I’ve written about some of the important numbers involved in weight control and balanced diets before. Things like the difference between serving sizes and portion sizes and the grams of protein you need each day. But there are more numbers you need to know for good nutrition and physical fitness. Many more.

Unfortunately, self-control and mindful eating are not enough. If you want to lose, gain or maintain your weight or strive for a healthier diet and fitter body, you’ve got to watch the numbers. Here are some that matter most.

Calorie level? This is based on your age, height, and weight and activity level – all important numbers to know. If you do, you can figure out your daily calorie requirement here.

Number of Food Groups? 5 + 1 + “extra calories” are what we get in the latest USDA eating guide, ChoseMyPlate.

Number of servings per day from each group? Varies based on calorie level. The ranges for adults are:

5 – 8 ounce equivalents of Grains, with at least ½ as whole grains

2 – 3 cups of Vegetables, with specific amounts per week for the 4 subgroups

1 ½ – 2 cups Fruit

3 cups Dairy

5 – 6 ½ ounce equivalents Protein Foods

5 – 7 teaspoons oils

120 – 265 Empty Calories

Serving size? Varies with each food and each food group, but includes numbers of ounces, cups, tablespoons, teaspoons and counted pieces, like 3 pancakes or 16 seedless grapes.

Amount of aerobic activity? 2 hours + 30 minutes per week at a moderate level or 1 hour + 15 minutes at a vigorous level based on the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control.

Steps or Miles per day? 10,000 steps a day counted on a pedometer, which is equivalent to approximately 5 miles, can be an alternative way to get your aerobic activity according to Shape Up America!

Amount of strength conditioning? 2 days a week working all the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders and arms), with 8-12 repetitions per activity that counts as one set.

As you can see, there are many numbers involved in reaching all the goals for a healthy diet and fit body. Fortunately, if you make a habit of eating right and staying active you won’t need a calculator to get through your day!

Check these related articles to help you get your numbers to add up right.

Protein in the Diet – How Much is Enough?

Getting Enough Protein from the Foods You Eat

Serving Size, Portion Size and Body Size Are All Connected

Metabolic Syndrome Causes Greater Disease Risk Than Obesity Alone

Metabolic Syndrome is Worse than Obesity

RISK FACTORS FOR HEART DISEASE, STROKE AND DIABETES INCREASE WITH METABOLIC SYNDROME

Metabolic Syndrome is what you have when you are overweight, and most of your excess weight is around your middle. Along with that apple shape you also have to have any two of these other conditions: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high triglycerides and too little HDL, the good cholesterol.

The American Heart Association estimates that nearly 35% of American adults meet these criteria. This means only about half as many people have Metabolic Syndrome as those who are just overweight. But Metabolic Syndrome is far worse. It doubles your risk for heart disease and stroke and increases your risk for diabetes by five times.

How to tell if you have Metabolic Syndrome?

The quickest way to tell if you have Metabolic Syndrome is to use a cloth tape measure to take an honest reading of your waist measurement. Place the beginning of the tape on top of one hip bone and bring it around your back, over the other hip bone, on top of your navel, then reconnect it at the hip bone. The tape should make a circle around you that is the same distance from the floor all the way around. Do this without pulling too tight or holding your breath. Now compare your reading to the values below to see if you are at risk.

Waist circumference: Women greater than 35 inches, Men greater than 40 inches

Medications: You use prescription drugs to lower cholesterol and to lower blood pressure

If your waist circumference is too large but you aren’t on two prescriptions, here are the numbers you need to have to avoid starting on medications and qualifying for Metabolic Syndrome.

  • Triglycerides: less than 150mg
  • HDL Cholesterol: over 50mg for women, 40mg for men
  • Blood Pressure: less than 130/85
  • Fasting Blood Sugar: less than 100mg

How do you treat Metabolic Syndrome?

There is no single treatment regimen for Metabolic Syndrome. Each risk factor – your weight, waist circumference, cholesterol and blood sugar levels and blood pressure – must each be managed in the best way possible to bring them back into a normal range.

The one common denominator to treating all of the risk factors, other than to quit smoking, is a healthier diet and more physical activity. Even if only a small amount of your excess weight is lost, a better diet and more exercise will improve your other numbers, and that’s important.

A study published this month in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that increasing the fiber content of the diet did more to lower the risk for Metabolic Syndrome than reducing the intake of saturated fat and cholesterol. Of course, controlling fat intake is important, but if you want to focus on foods you can add to your diet in place of some other foods you’re now eating, go for more high fiber whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. They belong in your daily diet for lots of other reasons that are good for your health, anyway, so why not get started?

Is your muffin top putting you at risk for Metabolic Syndrome?