Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Science of Slumber: Sleep and Health

www.Ask the Scientists.com



BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! An entire night has passed in the blink of an eye. The last thing you remember is your head hitting the pillow in the dark. Now, seemingly seconds later, the incessant, blaring of the alarm clock wakes you. But it does no help in reminding you what day it is, where you are, or perhaps even who you are.

Surely, you’ve experienced a morning like this: groggy, confused, and sleep-deprived. The effort to keep your eyes open feels exhausting. Standing up and leaving your warm bed behind is torturous. The day’s long to-do list awaits you and seems daunting.

Of course, you soldier on and make it through the day. But what does that day look like? It’s surely not smooth sailing, all quiet keyboard clicks and soothing, classical music. No, on days like this, you’re more likely to hear a cacophony of noises—the cell phone ringing, inbox pinging, and doors slamming after you in a hurry. All whilst trying to drown out the chatter in your head— “Don’t forget to do this!” and “I forgot to do that!”

Foregoing solid, quality sleep can affect your day in a big way. It’s important to remember that the effects of sleep deprivation are not just physical, like the physical feeling of exhaustion. Just like the scenario above, low-quality or insufficient sleep can manifest itself mentally and emotionally. That can include a loss of concentration, short attention span, and even anger. Lack of sleep can also mean a lack of motivation and sharp decision-making skills, forgetfulness, and anxiety.

Sleep is important for feeling rested, but it’s more than physical downtime. Sleep is also your brain’s chance to recharge and regroup. Let’s look more in-depth at the physical and mental benefits of regular, quality sleep.

Sleep and Health: The Pros and Cons


Pro of Good Sleep Con of Poor Sleep
Mental Solidifies memory retention and information recall Decreases ability to concentrate
Enhances learning and problem-solving capabilities Poor decision-making skills
Increases alertness Shorter attention span
Boosts creativity Lack of motivation
Promotes adaptability and resiliency Inability to cope with change
Better regulation of emotions Increases risk for feeling down
Physical Maintains cardiovascular health Increases risk for cardiovascular and kidney issues
Helps regulate hormones associated with hunger Increases risk of obesity
Helps maintain normal blood sugar levels Increases risk for blood-sugar issues
Maintains healthy development, muscle growth, and tissue repair Interruption of growth hormone secretion
Supports strong immunity Increases risk of common cold

Science of Sleep: What Happens When You Snooze

Sleep gives your body and mind an opportunity to power down and recharge. It might seem like this period is simply an absence of consciousness, where the body goes into a sort of idling mode. However, during sleep, your body and brain are actually working hard. Sleep activates a process that helps you rest, repair, and recharge. Take a closer look at the processes during the four different stages of sleep.

Stage 1 is the period between wakefulness and sleep. In this stage, everything starts to slow down. Muscles soften, heart and breathing rates decrease, and brain-wave patterns begin to change.
Stage 2 is light sleep. Your muscles loosen even more, heart and breathing rates continue to slow, and your body temperature drops.

Stage 3 is the deepest sleep stage. Here, your heart and breathing rates come to the lowest point of the entire sleep cycle. Your muscles are extremely relaxed and rousing you would prove difficult. It’s this stage that is integral to quality sleep. Without enough time spent in this sleep state, you will not awaken feeling well-rested.

Stage 4 (the final stage of the sleep cycle) is known as REM sleep, or rapid eye movement sleep. The first three stages involve non-rapid eye movement sleep or non-REM (NREM).
In many other ways, REM is also quite the opposite of the preceding three stages. Heart rate increases and breathing rate can quicken and become irregular. Eyes move rapidly behind the eyelids and brain activity livens. Dreaming is commonly experienced during the REM sleep stage. Your body might actually experience temporary paralysis of the limbs, a protective measure to keep the body from acting out movements about which you dream.

These four stages are cycled through in succession until you wake up. It’s necessary for you to experience both NREM and REM sleep to remain sharp through the day. Without both, memory consolidation is harmed. As you’ve surely experienced, after a night of little-to-no sleep, it can be very difficult to recall even simple information quickly.

Factors Impacting Your Sleep

Good sleep can seem like a complex puzzle. Many factors can influence the quality and duration of your sleep. If you have trouble sleeping through the night, try keeping a journal to monitor the factors below. You can jot down notes throughout the day or write a quick summary before bed. Whichever your preferred method, having a daily snapshot of your diet, activity level, and emotional state can give you an idea of which of these things improve or harm your sleep quality:
  • Caffeine: This stimulant usually wakes up the body and can keep you from feeling tired. In fact, caffeine actually blocks the substance adenosine, a chemical that your body secretes to make you sleepy. While this can be a benefit in the morning or during a long day, ingesting too much caffeine in the late afternoon or early evening can affect your sleep.
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  • Alcohol: Drinking too much alcohol too late in the evening can disrupt your sleep patterns. More specifically, it can disrupt your REM sleep, leaving your cycles incomplete. On a simpler level, alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases the urge to urinate more frequently. So, having too much alcohol can also disrupt your rest because you might have to make more frequent trips to the bathroom.
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  • Diet: The timing and content of your last meal can affect your readiness for bed. Think of the blood sugar surge that comes from a meal or snack. The boost in energy late in the day can keep you from winding down easily.
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  • Physical activity: Regular exercise can help you maintain a regular sleep schedule. Just don’t exercise too late in the evening before bed, or your body won’t have time to settle back down before turning in.
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  • Stress level and emotional state: Consider how stressful your day was or your emotional state throughout the day. If you’re feeling especially worn down, worried, or otherwise stressed, it can be very difficult to quiet your mind for bed.
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  • Bright lights: You’re constantly being bombarded by light, with can impact production of your sleep hormone. Make sure your room is dark, and take a break from bright screens (TV, phones, and tablets) before you tuck in.

7 Tips for Better Quality Rest

After journaling for a week, you may notice some patterns. Pay close attention to what these clues are trying to tell you. From these, you can create a personalized wind-down plan to prepare you for bedtime. If journaling isn’t your style, or you need some easy ideas, the seven tips for super sleep are below:
  1. Consider cutting back on how much caffeine you drink, or impose a “caffeine deadline”—a point at which you won’t ingest any more for the day.
  2. Drink alcohol in moderation or impose an “alcohol deadline” so that your body has time to readjust before bed.
  3. Avoid eating a meal or post-meal snack too late in the evening.
  4. Exercise regularly, preferably early in the day. A good starting point is 20 minutes per day—and work up from there.
  5. Plan for at least seven hours of sleep. You may need more than seven. But this is a good target to work up to if you’re currently and routinely getting less than this benchmark. While you may not be able to reach seven hours immediately, start incrementally heading for bed sooner so the change is gradual and more doable.
  6. Set a regular bedtime and waking time—and stick to it, even on weekends. This kind of routine is helpful for keeping your body’s internal clock in rhythm.
  7. Incorporate relaxation or meditation into your wind-down routine. Turn off screens, dim your bedroom lights, play light instrumental music. Light stretching can help your body release tension before laying down.

About the Author

Jenna Templeton is a health educator and freelance science writer living in Salt Lake City, Utah. After receiving a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Virginia Tech, Jenna spent five years as a research scientist in the nutritional industry. This work fueled her interest in personal wellness, leading her to pursue a graduate degree in Health Promotion & Education from the University of Utah. Outside of work, Jenna enjoys live music, gardening, all things food, and playing in the Wasatch mountains.
© 2018 Ask The Scientists. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Immune System: Your Amazing Body’s Guards


Your immune system is in a battle every day. That’s its job.

You’re protected by a coordinated defense. Cells, proteins, and chemical signals join forces against bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other pathogens. And your immune system also helps in wound healing, cellular and tissue turnover, and repair.

A healthy, functional immune system is a complex machine. It contains many layers, subsystems, tissues, organs, and processes. But a basic understanding can help you see what you need to maintain healthy immunity.

Barriers to Entry

Imagine your body as a castle to be defended. The first layer of defense are your physical and chemical barriers. They’re the high, thick walls that turn away many intruders.

Your skin is the most obvious physical barrier. And it’s a good one. Your largest organ is a waterproof covering that protects you against pathogens. Skin’s construction, substances on the surface, and other compounds in deeper layers help it provide protection.

Skin does a good job, but there are other paths into the body. That’s why other physical barriers exist.
Your upper respiratory tract has tiny hairs called cilia. They move potentially harmful material away from your lungs. Your gut barrier blocks absorption of possibly harmful substances. And your excretory (bathroom) functions physically expel pathogens.

Mucus blurs the line between the physical and chemical. Whatever category you put it in, mucus is an effective trap for invaders. It’s produced by membranes throughout your body. This thick, gluey substance is your body’s sticky trap, grabbing microbes and not letting go.

Other chemical barriers include: tears, saliva, stomach acid, and protective chemicals produced inside of cells and in your blood.

Immunity in General: Your Innate Immune System

The innate immune system is sometimes called the non-specific immune system. This subsystem of your larger immune defense is loaded into your genetic code. That’s the innate, or inherent, part. And it provides more general protection, destroying any microbes that enter your body. That’s the non-specific part.

Your cellular defenses kick in if a pathogen survives your physical and chemical barriers—which could also be considered part of the innate subsystem. That’s where phagocytes (a specific type of immune cell) come in. These white blood cells act like guards patrolling your body and destroying invaders.

These cells are found throughout the tissues of your body. They kill pathogens through a process called phagocytosis. It’s complicated, but there’s a simple way to understand it.

Phagocytes eat the invading microbes. They were named phagocytes for a reason—phago comes from the Greek for “to eat.” Phagocytes ingest or engulf the invaders. While trapped, several killing mechanisms are deployed to destroy the pathogen.

Some phagocytes have receptors that distinguish between healthy cells and potentially harmful substances. (They also deal with turnover of dead and dying cells.) Other pathogen eaters are chemically signaled to sites where they can be most useful. Phagocytes even help with the cleanup and repair after the invaders are destroyed.

Adaptive Immunity

Your adaptive immune system is like an immunity database. After encountering a specific pathogen, you have immune cells that can recall the best way to destroy it. That’s why it’s also referred to as specific or acquired immunity.

The original pathogen exposure can be intentional or accidental. That doesn’t matter. A normal, healthy response starts with an antigen. Think of an antigen as the bar code of each cell. Just like every item in the grocery store has a unique bar code, each cell type has a unique antigen code to identify it.

These antigens—mostly proteins—can also identify pathogens. Our immune system has learned to read these antigen codes. When they recognize something as being foreign, they initiate an immune response.

Each unique antigen triggers the creation of a unique antibody. The y-shaped antibody binds back to the corresponding antigen and marks the invader for attack by other immune cells. Some antibodies can even take care of business for themselves.

Lymphocytes (another specific type of immune cell) are the main cells involved in your adaptive immune system. Two types of white blood cells—T and B cells—are produced in your bone marrow. They can attack and kill pathogens on their own, or assist other white blood cells in the responses.

T and B cells form the basis for your body’s immunity memory bank. B cells present antigens and create and release antibodies. Memory T cells—those that survive previous attacks—quickly and effectively respond to known pathogens. Together, they help your immune system efficiently and effectively destroy known bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens.

Defend Your Immune System

Above, you’ve read about the way a normal, healthy immune system functions. But your defenses can be impacted by your environment, diet, stress, sleep, travel, and other lifestyle factors.

Healthy immune function is a whole-body effort, and maintaining it takes a holistic approach. Here’s a few things that can help:
  • Get at least seven hours of sleep a night—and avoid pulling any all-nighters.
  • Exercise regularly to promote memory cells, enhance skin immunity, and mobilize immune cells.
  • Minimize stress as much as possible or practice healthy coping strategies, like exercise.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins to provide essential micro- and macronutrients and important phytonutrients. A healthy diet (that includes healthy amounts of fiber) will also provide your microbiome with what it needs to maintain good gut barrier function(In addition, I take the Usana Health Sciences CellSentials, ProBiotics and Digestive Enzymes)
  • Practice good hygiene, including frequent handwashing, so your body doesn’t have to deal with as many pathogens in the first place.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Team USANA Number Two for Olympic Medals Behind Norway







 Team USANA (athletes who use the USANA products) captured 34 pieces of transition metal—13 Gold, 14 Silver and 7 Bronze. That’s four more than what was collected in 2014.

If you’re wondering how that stacks up against the overall official standings, it stacks up nicely. If Team USANA were a country, USANA athletes would’ve had the second highest tally, right behind Norway.


USANA was founded on science by a microbiologist who loves the periodic table. Which has provided hundreds of thousands of people with top-rated supplements for more than 25 years. But what does the chart of elements, a diagram that most of us haven’t seen since high school, have anything to do with USANA’s sponsored-athletes?

Well, depending on how you look at it, that question could truly be answered in several ways with nutrition being the base of them all. We by no means are indicating or suggesting that the periodic table brought on any of the below accomplishments. But if we narrow it down to three transition metals that sit in column 11—Au, Ag and Cu—and add in the global sporting extravaganza that took place last month in East Asia, you should hopefully get what we’re trying to do here.

KEEPING UP IN KOREA
For 18-days, nearly 3,000 athletes glided, jumped, flipped and twirled for a chance at top honors. Tears of joy and disappointment were shed, historic moments were captured and for some, retirement from the sports they’d dedicated their entire lives too were celebrated.

And in the process, Team USANA captured 34 pieces of transition metal—13 Au, 14 Ag and 7 Cu. That’s four more than what was collected in 2014.

If you’re wondering how that stacks up against the overall official standings, it stacks up nicely. If Team USANA were a country, USANA athletes would’ve had the second highest tally, right behind Norway.

Now the big question. Who made history, who double-dipped and who celebrated their final run on the world’s biggest stage?

PODIUM BREAKDOWN
  • USA Luge’s Chris Mazdzer captured silver and the first medal in US history in the men’s singles event.
  • U.S. Freeskier Alex Ferreira took home silver in his debut in freestyle halfpipe.
  • US Speedskating’s Brittany Bowe secured bronze in the team pursuit, while John-Henry Krueger took silver in the men’s 1,000m.
  • Teammates Meaghan Mikkelson, Natalie Spooner and Rebecca Johnston earned silver in women’s hockey.
  • Canadian bobsledder Alex Kopacz went gold in the two-man event.
  • US Ski and Snowboard brought home an additional 14 hunks of metal—7 gold, 4 silver, 3 bronze.
  • Speed Skating Canada collected seven—2 gold, 2 silver, 3 bronze—three of which were captured by short tracker Kim Boutin.
  • USANA’s Korean speedskaters walked away with seven honors—3 gold, 4 bronze.
NOTABLE HIGHLIGHTS
  • U.S. freeskier Devin Logan became the first female to qualify for two disciplines—slopestyle and halfpipe—finishing 10th and 15th.
  • USA Nordic’s Bryan Fletcher completed his second and final Olympic appearance with a top 10 finish in the team event and top 20 finishes in two individual competitions.
  • Taylor Fletcher made his third appearance and finished 10th in the team event alongside his brother Bryan, and 35th in the normal hill event.
  • Two-time Olympian Matt Antoine finished 14th in the men’s skeleton event.
  • Canadian speed skater Ivanie Blondin took to the ice in four events, finishing in the top six in three of them.
  • Ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson celebrated her second Olympics with a 19th place finish.
  • Elise Christie of Great Britain Short Track was just shy of a podium with a 4th place finish in the 500m event. 
  • Korean ice dancers Yura Min and Alex Gamelin helped added to a 9th place finish in the team event.
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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

How These Healthy Breakfast Choices Fuel Your Brain and Body



A Healthy Breakfast, a Healthy Starthealthy breakfast

 www.askthescientists.com

After a good night’s rest, you’re recharged and ready to take on a new day. It’s important to fuel your body with the energy it needs to get work done. Eating a healthy breakfast is your best bet and sets you up for your entire day ahead.

Even if you aren’t hungry in the morning, it’s a good idea to eat a healthy breakfast. And it can come in many shapes and sizes. But there are a few things you can do to maximize your morning meal.

Amp up the Protein

Protein is an important component of a healthy diet. Many scientific studies have shown that consuming a high-protein breakfast reduces the urge to snack on high-fat and high-sugar treats. Eggs, yogurt, and lean meats provide the fuel your body needs to make it through the day. These foods are rich in protein and provide long-lasting energy.

Your muscles also need protein to stay in shape. Your recommended amount of protein per day depends on your weight. It’s 0.8 grams per kilogram of weight (or 0.36 grams per pound). To find your number, multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.8 or your weight in pounds by 0.36. For example, if you’re 70 kilograms (155 pounds), you need to get at least 56 grams of protein each day to supply energy and maintain muscle mass. Divide your daily protein requirement by your number of meals to find how much protein you need for breakfast.

Plugging protein into your healthy breakfast can help throughout the day. You can fight your snack cravings and maintain your muscles by starting each day with a protein-packed breakfast.

Choose Low-Glycemic Options

The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly your body absorbs sugar. Sugar, or carbohydrates, are an important and essential part of a healthy diet. But you have to be deliberate in the carbohydrates you chose.

When you opt for high-glycemic options, your blood sugar quickly spikes. This isn’t healthy and your body knows it. As a response, it dumps a lot of hormones into our blood stream (the major one of course is insulin) to coax your cells to absorb it—quickly.

As a result, even more quickly than your blood sugar rises, it comes crashing down. This can result in low blood sugar (also an unhealthy circumstance). When this happens, you can feel tired and lose focus. The response is your brain telling you to eat something—and anything—quickly. As a result, you reach for the closest thing (snack), which tends to be an unhealthy option.

To break this high-glycemic rollercoaster ride, choose carbohydrates that are absorbed more slowly to keep your blood-sugar levels low. This will also help you keep feeling full for longer and will provide a longer-term source of energy for your body (and brain) to use. And because your blood sugar won’t come crashing down, you get hungry slowly and this gives you time to make healthy food choices for your upcoming meals.

It has also been shown that people who eat breakfast—and especially low-glycemic breakfasts—tend to eat fewer calories through the day.

Choose Whole Grains for a Healthy Breakfast

Now that you have the protein taken care of, let’s help you chose the healthy carbohydrates in your breakfast. Here you want to focus on fiber. That’s because it aids in digestion and keeps you feeling full after a meal.

Whole grains have higher fiber content than their refined counterparts and are better for you. By choosing whole grains, your body can help maintain steady blood sugar and avoid sudden spikes or drops. Whole grain foods help maintain healthy cholesterol already in the normal range and support heart health.

Phytonutrients (nutrients derived from plants) are also abundant in whole grains. They’re important because your body can’t make these essential compounds. Eating whole-wheat toast, or whole-grain cereals can increase the fiber and phytonutrients in your diet and will help you stay full throughout the day.

Skip the Juice, Go with Fruit

Fruit juice is a tempting choice when preparing breakfast. Unfortunately, these drinks are high in sugar, low in fiber, and associated with negative health effects.

So, juices aren’t the best choice for a healthy breakfast. Going with whole fruit is more nutritious. Whole fruit can satisfy a craving for sweets and has the added benefit of fiber, which helps support healthy digestion.

Some of the best fruits to eat at breakfast are berries, grapefruit, and bananas. Berries are loaded with antioxidants and help maintain cellular vitality. Grapefruit is full of fiber and can fill you up faster than pastries and sweet drinks. Bananas are packed with potassium, vitamin C, and other vitamins and minerals. These micronutrients help maintain a healthy body and sustain you throughout the day. And bananas are easy to grab and take with you when you’re in a hurry.

Be Smart About Your Fat Selection

Fat isn’t a bad word. It’s one of the essential macronutrients and provides a great source of sustained energy. Fat can even help you feel full longer. But you have to be selective about the type of fat you choose and be careful about the extra calories they add.

That’s because not all fats are created equal. Trans fats—like margarine—should be avoided altogether. For other fats, you should first consider the source.

An avocado and a pork sausage patty both contain fat. But it’s pretty easy to guess which one is better for your body. As a general rule, fats that come from plants are usually healthier and fats that come from animals are usually less healthy.

So, don’t skip the fat. Just be smart about your selection.

What You Drink Matters

When you find yourself in need of a morning beverage, look to water, coffee, and tea instead of caffeinated soda, juice, or energy drinks—even so-called “diet” options. These sugary beverages can spike blood sugar, dehydrate your body over the course of the day, and in the case of diet beverages, even trigger you to snack more.

Water provides lasting hydration and helps your body function optimally. Tea and coffee are natural sources of energy boosting caffeine and have been shown to activate the areas of the brain that keep you alert and focused. Green, white, black, and herbal teas are also valuable sources of phytonutrients and antioxidants. These compounds are important for supporting healthy cell and immune function.

Pair Your Favorite Healthy Breakfast with Nutritional Supplements

Even when you try to eat right, your nutrient supply can fall short of your daily needs. Multivitamins are quick, easy ways to ensure your body has all the vitamins and minerals it needs to keep your engine running smoothly.

Nutritional supplementation, as recommended by your healthcare provider, helps close the gap between what your body needs and what your diet provides. Supplements can optimize the efficiency of your cellular communication, help support your immune system, and help you turn the macronutrients you just ate (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) into the energy your body needs for the day.

Start your day with a healthy breakfast and a multivitamin to put your body in the best position for success.

Easy Ways to Make Better Breakfast Choices

Eating a healthy breakfast doesn’t have to be difficult. Small changes and substitutions to your current breakfast routine could be enough to improve your morning nutrition.
Here are some simple ways to have a better breakfast today:
  • Substitute white bread with a whole-grain alternative.
  • Try to avoid most cold cereals. Even what looks to be the healthiest choice tends to be high glycemic.
  • Drink tea or other healthy beverages instead of juice. If you need to sweeten, use natural sweeteners like stevia or agave nectar.
  • In a hurry? Make sure your on-the-go breakfast includes a fruit/vegetable, protein, a smart fat, and whole grains. A piece of fruit, hard-boiled egg, and whole-wheat bagel will fill you up, fuel your busy day, and help you make smart eating choices later on. Or alternatively, a low-glycemic meal replacement shake can be quick, healthy, on-the-go option.
  • Take a multivitamin at breakfast each day. After you make it a habit, taking your vitamins will be easy to remember.
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About the Author

Sydney Sprouse is a freelance science writer based out of Forest Grove, Oregon. She holds a bachelor of science in human biology from Utah State University, where she worked as an undergraduate researcher and writing fellow. Sydney is a lifelong student of science and makes it her goal to translate current scientific research as effectively as possible. She writes with particular interest in human biology, health, and nutrition.

References

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/whole-grains/
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07315724.2003.10719307
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/28/protein-breakfast-prevent-snacking_n_2971476.html
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/15/healthiest-foods-breakfast-superfoods_n_3275476.html?slideshow=true#gallery/297224/6
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17514538
https://www.nature.com/articles/ejcn2010247

From Deanna:  I start my day out with a Usana nutritional shake, called Nutrimeal, sometimes adding berries.  I love the balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats. 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

What Makes a Superior Children's Vitamin Over Gummies?







Making a Top Quality Children’s Multivitamin/ Mineral Supplement – A Perspective   www.askthescientists.com


Nearly 70 percent of children’s multivitamins come in gummy form. While this may make them appealing to kids, that may not be a good thing as hundreds of parents rush to the emergency room each year with children who ate the whole bottle.

We have been asked many times over the years why we don’t make our children’s vitamins in a gummy form because “kids don’t like ours.” 

First of all, just like all of our products, we hold our children’s supplements to very high standards (which gummies cannot meet), and second, they really shouldn’t be seen as candy or a treat. Give them with a meal, don’t make them a treat or a chore.

Very few people truly understand how difficult it is to make a children’s chewable vitamin that is complete, palatable, low in sugar, and without any artificial sweeteners or flavors. There are many companies that provide products with some of these characteristics, but very, very few have the whole package.

The easiest way to make them taste better is by adding more sugar or artificial flavors and sweeteners. In order to satisfy our own philosophy and that of most of our customers, we do not use artificial sweeteners or flavors. 

And, we keep the sugar content to an absolute minimum at about 0.75 grams per tablet.

What makes this most difficult, and what sets us apart from the vast majority of other children’s vitamins, is that we add higher amounts of magnesium, calcium and other minerals. And, we provide trace minerals like selenium, manganese, copper, chromium, and molybdenum that aren’t found in most competitors. If they are important for adults, why wouldn’t they be important for children?
children's multivitamin

Here is something you probably won’t hear anywhere else. But, the primary reason most children’s chewable have lower and less complete mineral dosages is because they taste NASTY. Covering the flavor without adding tons of sugar or artificial ingredients takes some talented food scientists.

I distinctly remember sitting around a table in the lab many years ago before a reformulation. In front of us were little plates of mineral raw materials that we each had to taste. The purpose was to determine which of the minerals was resulting in the bad flavor we were attempting to overcome. 

I can tell you from experience that it is a minor miracle the Usanimals taste as good as they do with the level of minerals and the restricted flavors and sweeteners we use.

Gummies, on the other hand, typically contain 2 or more grams of sugar per gummy. And, even if they are providing natural flavoring, they are never as complete in nutrients, especially minerals, as the Usanimals. 

The next time you are at the store, or looking online, compare the label of the Usanimals to different brands of gummy vitamins and you’ll see what I mean.

We’ve always said food first to get your recommended daily dose of vitamins, but the reality is that most diets are deficient in many areas. And, in many ways, nutrition is even more crucial in children that are actively growing and developing.

Yes, we could make the Usanimals taste better, put them in a different form, or simply leave out the nasty tasting nutrients. But then, who would we be? Everybody else.

About the Author

Russ Barton earned his MS in Nutritional Science from Brigham Young University in 1993 where his research emphasis was analysis of individuals who successfully maintain a significant weight loss. He has a BS degree in Zoology with a minor in chemistry also from Brigham Young University (1988).

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Are You Getting the Essential Nutrients for Your Brain's Health?


Your brain is powerful. You can even use it to think about how the brain itself works. Crazy, right? But this power doesn’t make your brain immune to factors that impact the rest of your body. Lifestyle and environment can affect your brain health. Luckily, there are nutrients for brain health shown to support cognitive function.

Lipids

For a long time, dietary fats (lipids) have been connected to brain health. Originally, lipids’ effect on the cardiovascular system was thought to facilitate that connection. But more recent research shows dietary fats have more direct actions on the brain.

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (like DHA from fish oil) normally make up cell membranes throughout your body. And like other saturated fat, they’re fundamental building blocks for your brain cells. That’s part of the reason fish is often called a brain food.

Flavonoids

The antioxidant effects of flavonoids are well-established in a test-tube setting. But these plant compounds—like cocoa, ginkgo, and grape-seed extracts—have more complex actions in the body that is continually being researched.

Some flavonoids show promising results in maintaining healthy brain function. Quercetin—a flavonoid that’s a major component of ginkgo biloba extracts—has been shown to maintain memory and learning abilities in some studies. Further research on the subject is needed.

B Vitamins

Adequate levels of the B vitamin folate are essential for brain function. The proof? Folate deficiency can lead to neurological disorders, like depression and cognitive impairment.

Clinical trial results have deepened the connection between folate and cognitive function. These studies have shown folate supplementation—by itself or in conjunction with other B vitamins (B6 and B12)—to be effective at maintaining healthy cognitive function during aging.

Other Nutrients

There are more nutrients for brain health. Here’s a short list of the other nutrients with researched roles in brain health:
  • Alpha lipoic acid has been shown to maintain memory and cognitive function.
  • Vitamin E, or α-tocopherol, has also been implicated in cognitive performance. Decreasing serum levels of vitamin E were associated with poor memory performance in older individuals.
  • Curcumin is a strong antioxidant that seems to protect the brain from lipid peroxidation and nitric-oxide-based radicals.
  • Several gut hormones or peptides—like leptin, ghrelin, glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1) and insulin—have been found to support healthy emotional response and cognitive processes.

Energy Production

The brain runs your body. And it takes a lot of energy to literally be the brain of the operation. Healthy macronutrients are necessary to fuel your brain and provide the energy it needs.
The mechanisms involved in the transfer of energy from foods to neurons are likely to be fundamental to the control of brain function. Processes that are associated with the management of energy in neurons can affect brain plasticity.

Far-Reaching Impacts

Lifestyle and diet have long-term effects on your health. That means they are likely underestimated for their importance to public health—especially when it comes to healthy aging. But they’re important to your brain. The gradual and sometimes imperceptible cognitive decline that characterizes normal aging can be influenced by the nutrients you feed your brain through a healthy diet.

These impacts go beyond your life, too. Through epigenetics, you pass on traits to your children and their children. Newer studies back this up. They indicate that these nutritional effects on your brain might even be transmitted over generations by influencing epigenetic events.
Gómez-Pinilla, Fernando. Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008 Jul; 9(7): 568–578.

From Deanna: As the years go by, I am especially aware of how important it is to nutrient my brain!  I don't want to get overly forgetful or fall to Dementia or Alzheimer's.   That's why I have trusted the Usana products for over 23 years.  In addition to a healthy diet (as much as possible) I appreciate the optimal nutrition provided by the Usana supplements and nutritional shakes.   

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Worst and the Best Foods for Your Waistline



Newsflash! Potato chips still aren’t good for you. That’s probably pretty obvious. And you already know a healthy diet and activity are important for maintaining your weight. But one large, long-term study got very specific about the worst foods for your waistline.

Researchers spent 20 years studying over 120,00 healthy people. Evaluations every four years helped the study pinpoint foods and behaviors that have the biggest impact on weight gain over time.

A More Complex Remedy

 

You probably already have some guesses. But before we start naming names, there were some interesting overall conclusions. They may reinforce what you know and add information to shape your healthy lifestyle.

Let’s start with the one you might guess. Highly refined or processed foods, liquid carbohydrates, and alcohol consumption were found to contribute to weight gain. But fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains showed the opposite effect—limiting weight gain.

That’s kind of a no-brainer, but the next one is less obvious. Mostly because it’s common to hear “eating less and exercise is all you need.” It’s an easy way to describe the change to a healthy lifestyle. But the study adds some nuance.

Their analysis suggests “dietary quality (the types of foods and beverages consumed) influences dietary quantity (total calories).” So it shifts the conversation from “less is more” to “the right amounts of the right foods.” Overall, it means choosing better, healthier options help keep your overall energy balance in check.

Weight Gain Can Sneak Up on You

 

Weight management is inextricably tied to the laws of thermodynamics. It all comes back to the conservation of energy—total energy in a system remains constant. Basically, you can’t make energy disappear. If you eat calories and don’t use them, they’re stored.

That reality makes weight gain easy over time. While a cheat meal won’t pack on five pounds of fat, constant calorie overruns impact your weight and health. And it doesn’t take much.

The study found that consistently having an extra 50–100 kcal per day is enough to add weight. Those small increases stack up over time. That’s how the average study participant gained 3.35 pounds during each four-year interval.

Findings like this underline the importance of daily dietary diligence. And shows the wisdom of taking the long-term approach of lifestyle change over quick-fix, fad diets.

Top 6 Worst Foods for Your Waistline

 

Now the part you’ve been waiting for—time to see how close your guesses were. Here are the worst offenders:
  • Potato chips: The absolute worst—of the foods in the study, at least. Increased servings of these snacks contributed a four-year average gain of 1.69 pounds.
  • Potatoes: You can’t have potato chips without potatoes. It’s probably no surprise that increased servings of the starchy root tacked on a four-year average of 1.28 pounds.
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages: Exactly one pound was added for study participants who increased sugary-drink intake.
  • Unprocessed red meats: The study found an 0.95-pound average gain for those who increased red-meat servings over four years.
  • Processed meats: You hear about how bad these are for your health. And the study found processed meats accounted for 0.93 extra pounds on average.
  • Alcohol: An additional drink each day meant participants added 0.41 pounds, on average, over four years. Again, that’s almost half a pound for each drink you add per day.
How did you do? Hopefully the clues above about starches, refined grains, and processed foods helped you out. Or maybe you were tipped off by other studies that have found similar results about these types of food.

The authors suggest the satiating inability of starches and refined grains may be to blame. Since they don’t make you feel as full, you eat more to fill yourself up. That could account for the constant extra calories that can really add up.

Foods to Stock Up On

 

The study didn’t just have bad news for carb cravers. It also identified some of the food types that showed positive effects on weight over each four-year period. Here’s what they found:
  • Yogurt: Kind of surprising that this was the study’s best of the best. The authors admit it could be confounding factors or maybe the bacterial benefits could be to blame. Other research over two decades has linked calcium-rich foods and weight. Whatever the cause, the results showed a four-year average of -0.82 pounds for participants that increased servings of yogurt.
  • Nuts: Nothing crazy about this one. Nuts are constantly mentioned as a part of a healthy diet. The study showed an average of -0.57 pounds for these protein-packed snacks.
  • Fruits: Those who ate more fruit ended up -0.49 pounds, on average over four years. The study didn’t find the same results for 100-percent fruit juice.
  • Whole grains: Unlike their processed cousins, whole grains showed a four-year average of -0.37 pounds.
  • Vegetables: This large variety of this category might explain why vegetables only accounted for an average of -0.22 pounds. But that’s still another reason to eat more vegetables.
The results probably reinforce your ideas about what a healthy diet looks like. The authors list some reasons why this group of foods showed benefits for keeping weight gain in check. And it goes beyond simple calories.

The study suggests satiety may to blame again. With higher fiber content and slower digestion speeds, these foods make you feel full. And if you’re eating more whole grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables, you may not feel the need to fill up on other more processed, higher calorie foods.

Time to Start Healthy Habits

 

Diet is only a piece of a healthy lifestyle. And this study took a look at behaviors and habits that impacted weight gain over time, as well.

Health isn’t as simple as diet and exercise. But physical activity did have a huge, positive impact. Across all groups, physical activity accounted for a four-year average of -1.76 pounds. So, those who got moving fared well in the battle against weight gain.

A sedentary activity—watching television—had the predictably opposite effect. Study participants added 0.31 pounds per hour, per day. Some of this was tied to the snacking that happens during television session. Either way, it gives binge watching a new meaning.

For most of us, sleep is a pretty physically idle experience. But your sleep was tied to positive outcomes. Those whose nightly sleep averaged less than six hours or more than eight hours showed more weight gain.

The study’s advice might sound familiar—eat a fresh, healthy diet, sleep, and get off the couch. But it adds some complexity to the common “just eat less and lose weight” idea.

And whether your guesses about the foods were right, it’s a nice reminder. Checking your progress towards a healthy lifestyle can have an impact. The authors say repeated assessment over time is important. So use the information to make changes and build your health lifestyle.

Mozaffarian, Dariush, M.D., Dr.P.H; Hao, Tao, M.P.H.; Rimm, Eric B., Sc.D.; Willett, Walter C., M.D. Dr.P.H.; Hu, Frank B., M.D., Ph.D. Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men. N Engl J Med. 2011 Jun 23; 364(25): 2392–2404.
© 2017 Ask The Scientists. All rights reserved. 



From Deanna:  Take action on everything in this article!  My other suggestion is to jumpstart your weight management program with Usana's healthy meal replacement program.  The RESET 5 Day Jumpstart Program followed by the 28 Day program of health shakes, optimal supplements and ProBiotics.  The program gives you ideas for healthy snacks and low glycemic meals.