Wednesday, August 31, 2011

When Diets Don’t Work.

When promises of fast weight-loss results fail to become reality, many body conscious men and women leave themselves open prey to diet and weight loss gimmicks. But, do they really work? Let's take a look:

The process of liposuction literally sucks the fat out of specific areas of the body. Tubes are inserted in half-inch long incisions in the thighs, buttocks, upper arms, abdomen or hips, and the fat cells are vacuumed out.

Support bandages must be worn for two to six weeks after surgery, and the entire procedure, although available on an outpatient basis, is costly.

Contrary to popular belief, liposuction is not recommended for obese individuals. Many doctors require that their patients be regular exercisers and usually not over the age of 35 (skin must be resilient) before undergoing liposuction.

The procedure has proven most useful for individuals who follow healthy exercise and diet guidelines, but are unable to reduce fatty deposits in one particular part of their bodies.

However, if proper eating and exercise habits are not used in conjunction with liposuction, the remaining fat cells will enlarge to replace those suctioned out.

Liquid Meal Replacements.
Do you remember Oprah Winfrey's well-publicized weight loss episode? It brought national attention to liquid meal replacement programs. She was thrilled with her “new body.” Her subsequent weight regain, however, dramatized the high failure rate that most people experience with these liquid fasts.

In theory, an individual drinking two or three shakes (at about 600 calories per drink) and eating one balanced meal a day would lose weight. Available as both physician-supervised (Optifast, Medifast, etc.) and over-the-counter (Slimfast, etc.) programs, these high protein drinks do bring about rapid weight loss, but statistics suggest that weight gain is inevitable, often in amounts greater than what was lost.

Though research is ongoing, liquid diets are also associated with certain health risks including possible loss of lean body muscle and potassium, gastrointestinal discomfort and possible heart damage.

Packaged Foods.
Many commercial weight loss centers sell their own packaged foods. Recently, we’ve seen a rush of pre-packaged meals like Real Meals 360 and My Fit Foods. While the meals are usually nutritionally balanced, and great for convenience the biggest problem with this methodology is that it focuses on caloric restriction and weight loss rather than skill-building.

By fostering dependence rather than independence around making healthy food choices, graduates often find themselves at a loss when they try to live in the real world of multiple food choices. My recommendation: Use these meals for their “convenience” only and not as a way of life.

Our culture's focus on weight has brought about a number of fat-fighting strategies, but the best one involves self awareness. Love who you are and always seek ways to improve your health (physically, emotionally, spiritually). When you do this, a beautiful & healthy body can’t help but become the end result of your actions.

As always – Live Your Life Well,

John Aaron Villarreal

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The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose,
cure, treat or prevent disease. Please consult your physician
prior to starting any exercise or diet program.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Should I be taking a Supplement?

Essential to life, vitamins and minerals cannot be made by the body so we must get them from the foods we eat. However, a well-rounded, low-fat diet will provide the average adult with an adequate supply.

As a wellness coach, I’ve unfortunately come across too many Americans that are infatuated with supplementation. Mega dosing has become a common practice for athletes trying to improve their performances and for fad dieters hoping to compensate for inadequate nutrition.

It has been noted that, in a well-nourished adult, excessive supplementation is ineffective in actually improving athletic performance.

Excess amounts of fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K) may result in vitamin toxicity as they are stored in the body and not easily excreted. Most recently, vitamin B-12 has also been shown to cause toxicity in mega doses.

While most individuals do not need to supple¬ment their diets, women are an exception when it comes to iron and calcium. To counter the loss of bone density associated with osteoporosis, women are encouraged to meet the RDA of 1,000 mgs. However, recent research suggests that youths and pregnant, lactating and postmenopausal women need 1,500 milligrams a day.

Because many women reduce their consumption of dairy products to avoid fat, they unfortunately deny themselves the calcium their bodies need. In these cases, supplementation may be helpful.

Active women lose iron through sweating and the menstrual cycle, making them more susceptible to iron deficiency anemia which causes fatigue, irritability and high resting heart rates.

Experts agree that the best approach is to eat a healthy diet, and, if desired, take an inexpensive time-released multiple vitamin and mineral supplement that offers no more than 100 percent of the recommended daily allowances.

If you're unsure of your nutrition needs, seek the advice of your doctor, registered dietitian or pharmacist.

As always – Live Your Life Well,

John Aaron Villarreal

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The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose,
cure, treat or prevent disease. Please consult your physician
prior to starting any exercise or diet program.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fish Oil Prevents Disease?

“There have been reports that the Omega-3 fats in fish oil/krill oil are beneficial by having anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombogenic and anti-arrhythmic properties in humans. What we haven’t really been able to learn, though, is just how this happens in our body. Well, we may now have our answer as to how.
University of Michigan Biochemists report that fish oil/krill oil significantly lowers the production of various prostaglandins as well as its effectiveness. Prostaglandins are a naturally occurring hormone-like substance that can increase internal body inflammation and thrombosis. Thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot inside a blood vessel, obstructing the flow of blood through the circulatory system. Yes, that is a bad thing.

There are three different mechanisms in which fish oil/krill oil causes the lowering of prostaglandins.

The first one is that there are far fewer prostaglandins produced from Omega-3 fatty acids compared to Omega-6 fatty acids. This makes sense because there is plenty of evidence showing that our current intake of Omega-6 fatty acids is producing increased inflammation in the body. Scientists are also seeing that this increased inflammation is potentially leading to many of the diseases we are seeing today.

Omega-6 fatty acids (Linoleic acid: LA) [found in corn and corn based products] after converted to pro-inflammatory products, such as prostaglandins, thromboxanes and leukotrienes, contribute to plaque formation on arteries, allergic responses, increased blood pressure, and tumor growth.

The second mechanism is that Omega-3 fatty acids compete with Omega-6 fatty acids for the same binding site which is the COX1 enzyme. This COX1 enzyme is what converts Omega-6 fatty acids to prostaglandins, which then increases inflammation. You may have seen the names COX1 and COX2 before, and this is because anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and celebrex target these enzymes to reduce inflammation in your body.

The more Omega-3 fatty acids present to block these binding sites, means that there are less Omega-6 fatty acids that are able to be converted to prostaglandins. Since our current ratio of Omega-6:Omega-3 fats is around 20:1, we could afford to consume plenty more Omega-3 fatty acids such as EFA Icon to lower that ratio and get it to a suggested 3:1 ratio.

The third mechanism in why Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory benefits is because even though they are converted to prostaglandins, they are generally 2-50 times less active than those that are formed from Omega-6 fatty acids.

Understanding the different pathways in which Omega-3 fatty acids convert to prostaglandins helps explain to us why Omega-6 fatty acids do not provide the same benefits as Omega-3s, and why we should really work on lowering our ratio to a more acceptable 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats for our own health benefit and prevention of not just inflammation, but also disease.

For example, researchers have discovered that DHA, which is an Omega-3 fatty acid, converts to a chemical called Resolvin D2, and this chemical reduces the inflammation that leads to a variety of diseases. Unlike other anti-inflammatory drugs, this chemical does not seem to suppress the immune system.

Mauro Perretti, Professor of Immunopharmacology at Queen Mary, University of London, led the UK team and states that researchers have known for some time that the nutrients from fish oil/krill oil can help with conditions like arthritis, which is linked to inflammation. What they have found, though, is how the body processes DHA in fish and krill oil and how it can help relieve inflammation. He states that it seems to be a very powerful chemical and a small amount can have a large effect.

Summary: Scientists have proven internal body inflammation can lead to many different diseases such as arthritis, autoimmune diseases, and various heart diseases. They have also proven that Omega-6 fatty acids actually increase internal body inflammation, while Omega-3 fatty acids can lower this internal inflammation while preventing the risk of disease.

We also know that our current ratio of Omega-6 fatty acids to Omega-3 fatty acids is around 20:1. That means we eat 20 times more inflammation-causing Omega-6 fats than we do Omega-3 fats. We need to increase our Omega-3 intake [and limit our Omega-6 consumption] immediately if we want our body to be disease-free in the years to come.

Live Your Life Well,

John Aaron Villarreal

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** Notice: WARNING: If you are allergic to shellfish, have a blood coagulation disorder, or are taking anticoagulants such as Warfarin (Coumadin), do not use Krill Oil.

The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose,
cure, treat or prevent disease. Please consult your physician
prior to starting any exercise or diet program.


Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (2006, April 4). Anti-inflammatory Effects Of Omega 3 Fatty Acid In Fish Oil Linked To Lowering Of Prostaglandin.
Queen Mary, University of London (2009, October 28). Why Fish Oils Help With Conditions Like Rheumatoid Arthritis How They Could Help Even More. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 26, 2010, from /releases/2009/10/091028142227.htm”

Monday, August 1, 2011

Meatless Monday: Tofu & Gingered Soba Noodles

I love soba noodles. The traditional Tokyo-style soba noodles have a ratio of 8 parts buckwheat to 2 parts whole wheat flour thus making them an excellent pasta choice for the health conscious.

Filled with flavor and super charged with antioxidants, I think this recipe is a keeper! If you don’t like tofu, I suppose you can stray from the “Meatless Monday” theme and substitute a grilled & cubed chicken breast instead.

Prep: 35 minutes, Total: 35 minutes, Serves 4


Scallions (1 bunch), separate greens & cut them into 2-inch lengths, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 inch ginger (about a square inch), peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
Canola oil, for grill pan
1 package (14 ounces) extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed with a couple of paper towels
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper for seasoning
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce, plus more for seasoning
6 ounces soba noodles
1 to 2 heads baby bok choy ( about 4 ounces), trimmed, thinly sliced on bias
6 ounces snow peas, trimmed, halved on the bias
1 red serrano chile, thinly sliced (optional)
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

In a medium saucepan, combine scallion whites, ginger, garlic, and 8 cups water; bring to a boil.
Cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook until aromatic and flavorful, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a grill pan over medium-high; lightly oil. Slice tofu in half and season with salt and pepper. Cook tofu in hot pan, turning to grill all sides, about 12 to 15 minutes total. Once grilled, remove from pan and let cool. Then, using a sharp knife, cut into small cubes and reserve.

Strain the scallion whites, ginger and garlic from broth with a slotted spoon and bring broth to a boil. Add soy sauce and soba noodles and cook according to package instructions.

About 2 to 3 minutes before the pasta is done, add bok choy, snow peas, and chile (if using). Cook until veggies are tender-crisp. Add more soy sauce, if desired.

Serve in shallow bowl with broth and top with tofu, scallion greens, and sesame seeds.

Total Calories: 298 Carb=36g Prot=16g Fat=12g

Until next time, keep Living Life Well!

John Aaron Villarreal

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