Category Archives: Nutrition

American Heart Month: A Guide to Heart-Healthy Nutrition

February marks the beginning of American Heart Month, during which healthcare organizations and providers spotlight the significance of public cardiovascular health and aim to raise awareness of risk factors, interventions, and disease prevalence. Today, cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the leading cause of death in the United States, contributing to nearly 660,000 deaths each year. Although patient and provider education, medical care capabilities, and available therapeutics have expanded and improved over the years, the burden of heart disease persists.

While there are many known risk factors that can contribute to cardiovascular diseases – such as smoking, hypertension, obesity, and alcohol use – certain variables are easily modifiable with preventive measures and minor lifestyle interventions. One such important risk component is nutrition.

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Metabolic Flexibility: Retraining the Metabolism for Optimal Health

In an attempt to ease digestion, improve energy levels, and promote weight loss, many popular health recommendations focus on increasing metabolic rates. However, while manipulating metabolic speeds may help burn a few extra calories, the efficiency with which the body expends energy largely relies on age and genetic factors. A critical factor is often overlooked in the pursuit of improving metabolism: metabolic flexibility.

A key to optimal wellbeing, longevity, and chronic disease prevention, metabolic flexibility directly measures the body’s ability to respond and adapt to conditional changes in metabolic demands. Access to high-calorie processed foods as part of the standard American diet combined with increasingly sedentary lifestyles have directly impacted the ability of the metabolism to be flexible, and thus, support sustained energy production. Studies have shown that metabolic flexibility can prevent and treat metabolic diseases like diabetes and insulin resistance and help the body run at its optimal levels.

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The Connection between Hormones and Eating Habits 

While there are over 200 hormones in the body – estrogen, testosterone, cortisol, insulin, leptin, and thyroid hormones are the most commonly known and closely linked to metabolism, fertility, mood, and other vital functions. Changes in hormone production, such as under- or over-production, or interferences in signaling pathways contribute to the development of hormonal imbalances, which can lead to diabetes, weight gain, infertility, and other health concerns if not managed appropriately. Sudden weight fluctuations or changes in energy levels can signal hormonal abnormalities, as can muscle aches and weakness, joint inflammation, and increased temperature sensitivity. There are many possible causes of hormonal imbalances, such as medications, tumors, and underlying health conditions; diet-related hormonal fluctuations, including those spurred by eating disorders, are also prevalent and underscore the connection between the endocrine system and eating patterns.

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