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Brierley Wright's Blog

January 7, 2015 - 12:02pm

U.S. News & World Report’s Best Diets 2015, released earlier this week, ranked 35 diet plans. But the No. 1 diet may surprise you. The “Best Diets Overall” winner (for the fifth year in a row): the DASH diet.

The DASH diet—or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension—was developed to combat high blood pressure (hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure). So it certainly doesn’t fall into the realm of trendy diets like Paleo or the Alkaline Diet. To earn a spot on the “Best Diets” list, the diet plan has to help with weight loss and diabetes (research shows the DASH diet does)—as well as be easy to follow and nutritious (check and check). Their panel of experts, which included EatingWell advisors David Katz, M.D., M.P.H., and Brian Wansink, Ph.D., gave it top billing in part because it scored well in the heart health...

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January 7, 2015 - 9:37am

Ooh, the Fitbit. I’m completely addicted to mine. Thanks to my Fitbit, I’ve discovered I’m a bit of a sloth on nonexercise days. So now I’m the first person in my house to offer to run upstairs and grab whatever anyone needs. More steps!

I say the Fitbit—and other wearable trackers—are so worth it because they make you aware of your activity level (or lack thereof) and motivate you to move more.

There’s science to back me up, too: research shows that tracking your activity and/or being motivated to work out helps shed pounds.

Better yet, one study showed that simply wearing a tracker could help you lose as much weight as if you regularly attended in-person weight-loss sessions.

But if you take the calorie-burn number too literally you could end up gaining weight. How is this possible?

Don't Miss:...

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October 29, 2014 - 10:00am

The thinking behind the old saying "feed a cold, starve a fever" goes like this: fasting causes a drop in body temperature, which helps to fight a high fever, while eating raises your temperature, warming you up if you have a cold and keeping your sniffles at bay.

In some regards, starving a fever is sensible: a couple small studies tell us that fasting ramps up the part of your immune system that fights bacteria, which cause some illnesses like strep throat and ear infections. Eating, on the point of feeding a cold, seems to stimulate your immune system to attack viruses like the common cold.

But, unfortunately it’s not that simple: fevers can be caused by both bacteria and viruses. The flu, for example, is a virus. And sicknesses like pneumonia may be fueled by either a virus or a bacterium.

We need a lot more research to turn...

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October 15, 2014 - 1:55pm

Kale’s über-healthy reputation is in part thanks to the cancer-fighting compounds it boasts called glucosinolates. But there’s a compound within glucosinolates that interferes with your thyroid function—and some may worry that eating too much kale could hurt their thyroid and possibly even cause hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). (Why does that matter, you ask? Your thyroid regulates many body functions—and top on the list is metabolism.)

But there’s more to the story.
Dig a little deeper and you’ll learn a chain of reactions has to happen for those thyroid-interfering compounds—called thiocyanates—to be released. Cooking kale stops that chain of reactions from happening. However, chopping raw kale for a salad or chewing it does allow thiocyanates to form. But the quantity of thiocyanates in a few ounces of raw...

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September 12, 2014 - 3:07pm

MSG—or monosodium glutamate—is a flavor enhancer used in savory foods, especially Asian foods. It contains sodium, but only a third of the amount that you’d get from the same amount of salt.

MSG also includes glutamic acid (aka glutamate), an amino acid that’s found naturally in foods like tomatoes, mushrooms and soybeans and is the source of our fifth taste—umami.

In fact, we eat about 13 grams of natural glutamate a day on average, compared to only around half a gram from MSG.

Some people say they have an MSG allergy—or that MSG gives them headaches, worsens their asthma, causes chest pain or palpitations, or causes mild mood changes or other symptoms, all of which are collectively referred to as Chinese Restaurant Syndrome (because MSG is commonly found in Asian-style meals).

Contrary to popular belief, decades of research...

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