Snack’s Bad Reputation


Original Image by jeffreyw via Flickr
Original Image by jeffreyw via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

It’s become more common and socially acceptable to deviate from the mainstream three meals of debates.  There are even debates on whether one should eat five “snacks” throughout the day instead of over sized portions of the common three meals.  While the debaters figure it out for us, I’m going to zero in on snacking today.  You know there’s a concept of “bad” snacking, right? I hope I’m not introducing a foreign concept today.

This blog post came about as I was at school the other day, passing the vending machine. For those that don’t know, I carry food with me everywhere I go. I’m not talking about a carrot, but full on meals. I like to defend my load of food as being prepared and boy has those meals helped me get through my current dietetic internship and master’s program. I digress. Walking past the vending machine, I asked myself, what if God forbid I forgot to back food with me and had to resort to vending machine food? I went through the vending machine options and I really couldn’t find any foods that I saw “worth” the cost. The healthiest snack might have been pretzels, yet how long would that sustain me? Not very long!

With that said. if you’re still with me, I don’t recommend or endorse vending machines.  Those prcocessed treats may have to be used in the dire need of emergencies, but not for day to day energy needs! Please don’t resort to those types of foods as many are filled with empty calories, full of sugar, sodium and fat! Who needs that?!

Original Image by Zdenko Zivkovic via Flickr
Original Image by Zdenko Zivkovic via Flickr

Bad snacking can become a vicious cycle of overeating oversized portions, with many Americans easily eating 600 calories from snacks alone.  As you know, too much unhealthy foods can lead to inflammation, oxidative stress, elevated triglyceride and cholesterol levels, which can directly impact one’s weight and development of heart disease.

Continuous eating also can contribute to the development of dental caries.  With increased exposure to food, the enamel has more opportunities to produce damaging acids. One should be espeically careful with sticky foods or those that leave particles behind (i.e. dried fruit, granola and/or crackers). If you’re not sure about the foods you’re eating, when in doubt, use the travel toothbrush you have handy!

Be honest, do those processed leave you feeling ready to tackle the next task?  I doubt it! Snacks on the go are a great way to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your day! Yes, keeping healthier snacks on hand does require some planning, but investing in your health is a facet of our lives we should all aspire to do.

Sources: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/bad-effects-snacking-3832.html

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/best-and-worst-snacks

http://www.today.com/health/why-snacking-night-bad-you-1C8505702

http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/meal-planning/healthy-snacking-benefits.aspx

http://www.eufic.org/article/en/expid/review-eating-between-meals-health/

Metabolic Syndrome (MetS)


Original Image by U.S. Army via Flickr
Original Image by U.S. Army via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Metabolic syndrome is not an actual syndrome, but a cluster of risk factors that can raise one’s chances of heart disease, diabetes and/or stroke.  While, the name may be misleading, it’s called metabolic syndrome due to the impact the risk factors have on one’s biochemical processes and the ability for one’s body to function normally.  Other common names for MetS include Syndrome X, Obesity syndrome, insulin resistance syndrome, hypertriglyceridimic waist and/or dysmetabolic syndrome.

While one can have only one of the following risk factors, it’s common for someone to encounter multiple risk factors simultaneously.  One’s considered to have metabolic syndrome if at least 3/5 risk factors pertain to them:

  1. Large waistline:  Also known as “apple shape”; with abdominal obesity, excess fat in the abdominal area increases chances of heart disease, then on hips; for men: 40 inches or larger; for women: 35 inches or larger
  2. High triglyceride levels:  Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood; or if you’re already on triglyceride medications; 150 mg/dL or higher
  3. Low HDL cholesterol level:  When low HDL levels are low, it means the cholesterol from arteries isn’t being removed at ideal rate;for men: 40 mg/dL or lower; for women: 50 mg/dL or lower
  4. High blood pressure: With high blood pressure over time, it can damage the heart and lead to plaque buildup; blood pressure of 135/85 mm Hg or higher
  5. High fasting blood sugar:  Can signify early diabetes; 100 mg/dL or higher

For those living with MetS, it can lead to diabetes, yet the follow recommendations for those with MetS may help:

Original Image by Department of Foreign Affairs via Flickr
Original Image by Department of Foreign Affairs via Flickr
  • Increase  physical activity: while it may be hard at first, start by walking 5 minutes a day and increase time gradually; it’s doctor recommended to do at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise daily
  • Losing 5-10% of your body weight can make a world of difference! It can decrease blood pressure, insulin resistance and one’s risk for diabetes
  • Adopting the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet or Mediterranean diet can help one eat healthier: limits intake of unhealthy fats, while highlighting whole grains, high intake of fruits and vegetables and low sodium foods
  • Stop smoking!: Smoking increases one’s insulin resistance and
  • If prescribed, don’t forget to necessary medications to help control blood pressure and cholesterol levels

The more risk factors one has, for example, 4/5 risk factors, the more likely one will develop heart disease and or develop diabetes than someone who doesn’t have metabolic syndrome.  While the above risk factors are often looked at as indicators of heart disease, they’re not the sole risk factors, physical inactivity, smoking, insulin resistance, age and gender can also play a role in one’s heart health.  With 35% of the American adults with MetS, be proactive and talk to your physician.

Sources:http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ms/

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MetabolicSyndrome/Metabolic-Syndrome_UCM_002080_SubHomePage.jsp

http://www.webmd.com/heart/metabolic-syndrome/metabolic-syndrome-what-is-it

http://www.healthnowmedical.com/blog/2012/06/22/are-you-apple-shape-or-pear-shape-learning-your-risk-of-metabolic-syndrome/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/metabolic-syndrome/basics/definition/con-20027243