Five Habits That Stave Off Diabetes
Want to avoid diabetes? A new analysis quantifies how much five different healthy-lifestyle habits—diet, weight-management, physical activity, smoking, and alcohol use—can cut the risk of developing the disease, whether implemented alone or in combination. "For each one, there was a significant reduction in risk for developing diabetes," study author Jarad Reis, a researcher from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, told HealthDay. "Having a normal weight by itself reduced the risk by 60 to 70 percent." Researchers tracked about 200,000 people for 11 years. They found that healthy eaters cut their diabetes risk by about 15 percent, while nonsmokers lowered their risk by 20 percent. The more lifestyle tweaks the participants made, the lower their risk fell, according to findings published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study authors recommend getting at least 20 minutes of exercise three times a week, limiting alcohol to two drinks a day for men and one for women, and eating a diet that's high in fiber and good polyunsaturated fats, and low in trans and saturated fat, as well as refined or sugary carbs.
Food and Mood: 6 Ways Your Diet Affects How You Feel
You are what you eat? Maybe not, but you do feel what you eat. Research suggests that certain foods affect mood—for better or worse. Dietary changes can trigger chemical and physiological changes within the brain that alter our behavior and emotions. "Most people understand the link between what they eat and their physical health," says registered dietitian Elizabeth Somer, author of the 2010 book Eat Your Way to Happiness. "But the link between what you eat and your mood, your energy, how you sleep, and how well you think is much more immediate. What you eat or don't eat for breakfast will have at least a subtle effect by mid-afternoon, and what you're eating all day will have a huge impact today and down the road."
Here's a closer look at how your diet could be affecting your mood.
1. You don't eat regularly. Food is fuel; skip a meal and you'll feel tired and cranky. "It's like trying to run a car without gas," says registered dietitian Keri Gans, author of The Small Change Diet. When you go too long without eating, your blood sugar sinks and mood swings ensue. Aim for a meal or snack every four hours. Breakfast is particularly important—especially for children: Studies show it helps kids perform better and get into less trouble at school. And breakfast makes both kids and adults less prone to cravings and more likely to maintain a healthy weight. But remember: All morning meals aren't equal. "We're not talking about a doughnut and coffee here," Somer says. She recommends high-fiber cereal with a handful of fruit, or a cup of oatmeal with some milk and berries. [Read more: Food and Mood: 6 Ways Your Diet Affects How You Feel.]
Best Foods to Eat for Your Mood—and a Few Bad Ones
As Virginia Woolf once said, "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." Indeed, what we eat (and drink) affects more than just our waistline and cholesterol numbers. Even small choices, like what kind of lunch meat you slap on your sandwich each day, could influence your disposition. Here's a roundup of mood-boosting foods—along with some mood busters to keep off your plate.
Mood booster: Seafood. Lobster, oysters, clams, and other sea creatures contain hefty amounts of selenium, a mineral that helps combat mental decline, anxiety, and depression. In a 2000 study published in the Lancet, researchers wrote that a selenium deficiency is "linked to adverse mood states," and urged people to get the federal government's recommended 55 micrograms a day. An older study, published in 1998 in the Journal of Trace Elements in Experimental Medicine, found that men who got the most selenium were clearheaded, confident, and composed, while those who got the least were more confused, unsure, and anxious. Aside from seafood, selenium sources include Brazil nuts, seeds, lean meat, whole grains, and low-fat dairy, Gans says.
Mood booster: Spinach. Although it may not produce Popeye-like muscles, spinach could lift your spirits. The leafy green stuff is filled with folic acid, antioxidants, and magnesium, all of which are linked to a good mood. Researchers observed that people who got the least folic acid were 67 percent more likely to suffer from depression than those who got the most, according to findings published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2003. Two cups of spinach will satisfy half your daily folic acid needs—so eat up. (The federal government recommends 400 daily micrograms.) [Read more: Best Foods to Eat for Your Mood—and a Few Bad Ones.]
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