Need to lower blood pressure? Here’s a tastier option

Over a million Americans developed high blood pressure overnight–and, no, it wasn’t the latest headlines.

The American Heart Association just lowered the bar on what is considered to a healthy blood pressure reading. Instead of anything under 140/90, you now need to shimmy under 130/80 to get the all clear.  That means that a whole bunch of people who had normal blood pressure yesterday are hypertensive today.

Diet and lifestyle change is the standard prescription in this situation. The time-tested DASH diet, in particular, has a great track record for lowering blood pressure.  But if the thought of giving up red meat and cheese leaves you feeling a bit bereft, I have good news.

Recent studies have found that modified versions of the DASH diet that include red meat and full-fat dairy products are just as effective as the more austere original.  The details are outlined in this episode of the Nutrition Diva podcast: The DASH Diet Gets an Upgrade.

What’s your biggest weight loss struggle?

A. Can’t stick to a diet long enough to lose weight.

B. Lose weight but then gain it all back.

C.  Can’t figure out which dietary approach is best

I posted this question to my Facebook page recently and comments poured in almost immediately. Apparently,  a LOT of us are struggling.

Interestingly, there was no clear “winner” in terms of the biggest challenge. Votes were roughly equally divided among all three, with a fair number of people choosing “all of the above.”

We struggle to figure out which diet we should follow. Then, we struggle to stick to it long enough to lose weight. And if we do manage to lose any weight, we eventually end up gaining it all back.

I think all three of these struggles are due to a single cause: Dieting.

Diets are not the solution. They’re the problem.

We have been taught that solution to being overweight is to go on a diet. When we fail, we’re told that we picked the wrong diet. Fortunately, there is always another diet to try. And around and around we go.

But if dieting worked, we’d ALL be thin by now. And it’s not about finding the “right” diet or the will power to stick to it.  It’s about finding your healthy weight and the life that goes with it. 

Lets try something different

It’s time to stop dieting and start weighing less. And I don’t mean “Once you weigh less, you can stop dieting.” I mean, “If you want to weigh less, you have got to stop dieting.”

For lifelong dieters, I know that’s easier said than done. I have supported hundreds of people through the process of “diet withdrawal” and helped them find their path to sustainable weight loss.  It doesn’t happen overnight. But, like any journey, it does start with a single step. Why not take it today?

Click below to learn more about a proven program that has already helped hundreds of people escape the endless cycle of failed and yo-yo diets.  You have nothing to lose…except the struggle (and the weight).

Sugar and Cancer: What’s the Connection?

Whenever I talk about cancer and diet, I try to debunk the myth that eating sugar makes cancer grow faster. I explain that all cells, including cancer cells, use glucose (sugar) to fuel their metabolism. Cancer cells often have an accelerated metabolism and utilize blood glucose at a faster rate than other cells. But it’s a gross over-simplification to say that consuming sugar will make cancer grow faster or that eliminating sugar will slow the growth of a tumor.

So imagine my surprise to see a recent headline in Newsweek about a new study published in the prestigious science journal Nature.

Despite the provocative headline, however, this study has absolutely nothing to do with how sugar from foods affects cancer cells. The research explores how some cancer cells differ from healthy cells in the way that they metabolize glucose. This is undoubtedly important to cancer researchers. But it does not add to, subtract from, or change in any way what we know about the interaction of diet and cancer.  

The link between sugar consumption and cancer risk is more indirect.  Excessive sugar consumption often leads to obesity, which increases cancer risk. But it’s the excess body fat that is the problem, not the source of the calories that caused it. 

This is important to cancer researchers, but it doesn't change what we know about diet and cancer. Click To Tweet

There are a lot of good reasons to limit our consumption of added sugars.  Limiting these empty calories can make it easier to maintain a healthy weight. A diet that’s lower in added sugars is also likely to be higher in nutrients. Both can help to reduce your risk of cancer and/or improve your chances of beating it.

But the last thing a cancer patient (or survivor) needs is to stress about whether eating too much sugar may have caused their cancer or made it more aggressive. Neither is true.

See also:

Can the Right Diet Prevent Cancer?

Diet Recommendations for Cancer Survivors


Despite billions spent on dieting, obesity rate hits new high

Americans are spending more on dieting than ever before--more than $60 billion a year.  The percentage of obese adults is also at an all time high of 40%. 

Do you think there might be a connection between these two trends?  I do.

Clearly, dieting  is not the solution to the obesity problem. In fact, I think it's a big part of the problem.  

Problem #1:  Even the most "responsible" diets encourage you to lose weight far faster than your body can actually lose fat. As a result, you end up losing a little bit of fat and a lot of water and lean muscle tissue.

Problem #2: Diets teach you how to lose weight but they don't teach you how to weigh less.  (There's a big difference.)  As a result, most people will eventually regain all the weight they lose...or more.

Problem #3: When you regain the weight, you don't gain back the lean muscle that you lost while dieting. You replace it with fat, which makes it even harder to lose weight the next time.

It's time to try something different

Last summer, my colleague Brock Armstrong and I launched Weightless TM, a program that shows people how to stop dieting and start weighing less. Weightless is not a diet or exercise program. It's a structured lifestyle change program that combines nutrition science, behavior modification, professional guidance, and community support.

The results have exceeded even our high hopes. It's been absolutely exhilarating to see people escape a lifetime of yo-yo dieting and find the path to sustainable weight loss.  I'm more convinced than ever before that diets are not the answer to our obesity epidemic. (They're a big part of the problem.)

If you think you might be ready to stop dieting and start weighing less, we'd love to send you some details about the Weightless program plus some free resources that can  help you lose weight without dieting.  Just enter your email below. (Your email is safe with us; we hate spam as much as we hate diets!)

Onyx Sorghum: Superfood or Nutrient Zapper?

Photo by Jennifer Blackburn for the National Sorghum Producers

Q. I’ve been seeing ads for Onyx Sorghum, specifically its use in certain cereals. This supposed “miracle” grain apparently contains a lot of antioxidants. However it looks like the high tannin content might affect iron absorption. Could this whole grain fit into a healthy and balanced diet or might it do more harm than good?

A. Sorghum is a whole grain that we’ve hearing more about lately.  Onyx (or black) sorghum is a special type of sorghum that is a dark red or black color intead of the usual pale beige.  It was created by plant geneticists at Texas A&M, who used traditional cross-breeding techniques and not genetic modification to create the richly hued grain.

As with berries and other plants, the pigment that gives onyx sorghum its distinctive color also happens to be rich in antioxidants. However, some of those antioxidants are in the form of tannins, bitter compounds that are also found in tea, coffee, wine, and other plants.  Tannins, in addition to acting as antioxidants can interfere with the absorption of iron and other minerals. Do the benefits outweigh the potential downsides?


Continue reading “Onyx Sorghum: Superfood or Nutrient Zapper?” >

Losing weight will shorten your life? Not exactly.

A new study finds that people who lost more than 15% of their body weight over a five year period were actually more likely to die than those who didn’t lose weight. What’s more, the biggest losers were more likely to die than people who gained 20% during the same period.

How can this be? We’re constantly bombarded with headlines about the obesity epidemic and how it’s shaving years off our life span. Are you really better off remaining overweight than losing weight? 

Poor health causes weight loss, not the other way around. Click To Tweet

This latest study does not distinguish between intentional and unintentional weight loss, nor did it take into account the cause of death. People who are terminally ill tend to lose weight. But there's a world of difference between losing weight due to serious illness and intentionally losing weight.

Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss

One way to see this quite clearly is to distinguish between the loss of total body weight and the loss of body fat. The loss of total body weight may be associated with increased mortality. But the loss of body fat is associated with increased life span.

Another way to separate out the effect of wasting disease is to distinguish between intentional and unintentional weight loss. Previous studies have shown that while unintentional weight loss is associated with increased risk of death, intentional weight loss can reduce mortality by 15%

The Bottom Line(s)

Actually, I have three bottom lines for you

Bottom Line #1. Losing excess body fat will improve your health.

Bottom Line #2. Losing weight slowly will increase the percentage of body fat you lose.

Bottom Line #3. Losing a modest amount of weight and keeping it off will do more to improve your health than repeatedly losing and gaining large amounts of weight.

Need help with sustainable weight loss? That’s what the Weightless program is all about. Enter your name and email below, and I’ll send you an email when registration for the next group opens!

Is the 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade Right For Me?

Still not sure whether the 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade program is for you? Here are answers to some of the questions I got about the program this week. If others are wondering, maybe you are too! And if you have a question that I haven’t answered here, feel free to email me.

Q. I can’t make the live kickoff session. Can I watch it the next day?

Q. I’m not ready to start the program right now. Can I just register when I’m ready to start and watch the recording then?

Q. I have a vacation/work trip/special celebration coming up.  Won’t this interfere?

Q.  I live in Europe/England/Australia/etc.  Is the program geared around things only available in the States or is it suitable globally?

Q. What foods do I have to give up to succeed with this program?

Q. My diet is already pretty healthy. What do I have to gain from this program?

Q. I’m pregnant/breast-feeding. Would it be safe for me to do this challenge? Will I have trouble getting the calories I need?

Q. I’m vegan/vegetarian. Will this program work for me?

Q. Can I do the challenge if I don’t use Facebook?

Q. How do I know this will be worth the money? Continue reading “Is the 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade Right For Me?” >