Reading List: Fighting the Flu, Defining Orthorexia & High Blood Pressure News
In this week’s nutrition news: An update on Cheerios' cholesterol claims, battle the flu with healthy habits and a new study shows eating whole grains keeps blood pressure in check.
A flu shot is one way to hold off H1N1 (a.k.a. "swine flu"), but the shots haven’t reached pediatricians in my area yet. To reduce your risks and help stop the spread, experts encourage everyone to wash their hands and eat healthy. This means getting enough fruits, veggies and whole grains that contain plenty of the antioxidants vitamin A, E and C. And don’t forget exercise. Regular physical activity helps us all maintain a healthy immune system.
Orthorexia is the medical term for “health food junkies.” It refers to those who are obsessed with healthy eating and the quality of food they eat. Many will avoid eating foods such as wheat, corn, dairy, sugar, salt and gluten -- even if they have no medical need to. Orthorexics spend more than three hours a day thinking about healthy food and base their self-esteem on eating “healthy.” This, of course, can become unhealthy. Avoiding certain food groups leads to an unbalanced diet; hyper fixation can interfere with social activities and relationships and cause physical complications similar what happens with anorexia. If you think you are at risk, talk with a registered dietitian or doctor.
A while back we told you how the FDA warned Cheerios about the cholesterol claim on their cereal boxes. Cheerios' manufacturer, General Mills is now facing five nationwide lawsuits, which a NJ court has combined into one complaint. Although the company is allowed to claim that the cereal helps lower cholesterol (it fits the FDA guidelines for that), General Mills shouldn't say how much Cheerios might lower cholesterol (their boxes claim to drop cholesterol 4% in six weeks).
Eat more whole grains and you can keep your blood pressure in check, according to a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study followed more than 30,000 men between the ages of 40 and 75 for the past 18 years (the study began in 1986). The men who reportedly ate the most whole grains (about 52 grams per day) were 19% less likely than those who ate the least (about 3 grams per day) to develop high blood pressure. So when the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend half of the daily grains we eat should be whole grains, there’s a good reason behind it!