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Our Healthy February Findings

A New Surprising Risk Factor for Those With Obesity

A CNN article reported a surprising finding for individuals living with obesity. Loneliness has emerged as a significant risk factor for poor health outcomes, with socially isolated individuals being 32% more likely to die prematurely compared to those who are not isolated, as per a June 2023 study. Chronic loneliness can act as a form of stress, impacting the body negatively through stress hormones, according to Turhan Canli, a professor of integrative neuroscience at Stony Brook University. Factors contributing to the link between loneliness and health include reduced access to medical care and unhealthy habits like smoking and alcohol use.

Despite the prevalence of online networks, individuals may still feel lonely, emphasizing the importance of genuine connections and integration within communities. Rachael Benjamin, a licensed clinical social worker, highlights the significance of quality relationships where individuals can be themselves and feel respected. Overcoming isolation involves introspection to identify self-imposed barriers, along with a willingness to connect with others regularly, even if uncomfortable. Benjamin emphasizes that forming meaningful relationships takes time and effort, urging individuals not to rush the process but to persist in cultivating genuine connections for improved well-being.

NBC: Dietitians reveal foods they avoid 

Want to know what foods dietitians avoid in their real lives? Health experts, including doctors, dietitians, and nutrition professors, avoid processed foods high in sugar and salt, particularly during the holiday season. They prioritize whole foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in their diets. Sweet drinks, laden with added sugar, are nixed in favor of alternatives like sparkling water and infused waters. Alcoholic cocktails, often sugary and caloric, are replaced with simpler mixes such as club soda and fruit garnishes.

Foods high in sodium, like cured meats and canned soups, are treated as occasional treats due to their impact on heart health. High salt intake is linked to high blood pressure and obesity. Experts emphasize home cooking and limiting restaurant outings to control sodium intake. Additionally, they promote plant-based, Mediterranean-style diets rich in vegetables, nuts, and whole grains to reduce health risks.

Health experts also avoid fatty snacks and ultra-processed foods, which are linked to various health issues including obesity, heart disease, and cancer. They advocate for prioritizing vegetables, cooked in appealing ways, to improve gut health and prevent chronic diseases. Overall, experts stress that healthy eating varies for individuals and suggest seeking medical advice to tailor diets to personal health needs. They also emphasize moderation rather than complete avoidance of certain foods, following dietary guidelines for balanced nutrition.

Is It Actually Bad to Eat Late-Night?

Late-night snacking, while common, can have adverse effects on health, experts caution in a New York Times article. Research, including a 2019 study of 900 adults in the U.S., indicates that our bodies are naturally inclined to process nutrients during the day and conserve energy at night. Eating close to bedtime may worsen heartburn and disrupt sleep quality. Studies suggest a correlation between late-night eating and weight gain, obesity, and metabolic health issues like diabetes. Even eating 100 calories too close to bedtime to affect these issues.

Studies have found that eating late may lead to increased hunger, lower levels of the satiety hormone leptin, and higher levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. Carbohydrates consumed in the evening can result in elevated blood sugar levels due to the suppression of insulin secretion by melatonin.

Experts recommend avoiding eating three to four hours before bedtime to promote better long-term health and alleviate acid reflux symptoms. While challenging for shift workers, prioritizing larger meals earlier in the day is beneficial. For those who must eat late, choosing smaller, nutritious snacks without excessive fats or sugars is advisable. Though more research is needed, evidence suggests that regulating meal timing can positively impact overall health and sleep quality.

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