waistline

  1. Diabetics can go nuts

    Well whaddaya know -- it turns out small changes in your diet can lead to small changes in your health.

    Go figure.

    Researchers asked diabetics to replace a little of their daily carbs with either more carbs or nuts... and found that those who went nuts had slight improvements in blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

    The 117 diabetics were assigned to replace some carbs with either a whole wheat muffin, half a cup of mixed nuts, or a little bit of a muffin and a little bit of nuts.

    After three months, those who got the full nut treatment had a small dip in average hemoglobin A1C levels -- but not quite enough to be considered clinically significant.

    The nutters also saw an average drop in LDL cholesterol from 97 milligrams per deciliter to 89 mg/dL.

    And all I can say is: big deal.

    The answer to diabetes isn't in replacing a small amount of carbs with healthier foods -- it's in sticking to a strict low-carb diet.

    Studies have proven time and again that a low-carb lifestyle can lead to real changes in blood sugar, blood pressure, waistline and more -- to the point where many diabetics can even forget they have the disease and start to live a normal life again.

    And if you love nuts, don't worry -- they can be an important part of this lifestyle. Nuts are packed with healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids and essential nutrients such as vitamin E.

    One study found that in addition to drops in LDL cholesterol, a daily serving of nuts can improve the ratio of good to bad cholesterol by 8.3 percent and slash deadly triglycerides by 10.2 percent. (Read about it here.)

    Another found that in addition to lowering LDL levels, pecans can actually prevent the this form of cholesterol from oxidizing -- robbing it of the ability to hurt you.

    They're so good for you that even the FDA had no choice but to grudgingly approve a health claim for nuts, allowing packages to state that "evidence suggests" they can lower the risk of heart disease.

    So whether you're diabetic or not, get more nuts.

    And do yourself a favor: Skip the muffins of all flavors, unless you want a muffin shape yourself.

  2. Smog makes overweight people sicker

    If you're overweight and suffer from high blood pressure, first look to your waistline... but then look to the skies.

    New research finds that smog -- already linked to a wide range of health problems -- contributes to high blood pressure in obese people.

    Interesting? Yes. But from a practical point of view, you're not going to clean the skies -- so you're going to have to settle for shedding some pounds if you want to get health issues like hypertension under control for good.

    The study, published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, looked at 919 Detroit-area households. People who lived in the smoggiest areas had the highest blood pressure no matter how much they weighed -- but the biggest impact was on those with the biggest bellies.

    Unless you're able to pack up and move at will, though, the bottom line is still your waistline. Of the two factors in this study -- weight and pollution -- the only one completely within your control is your diet.

    That means the answer for you is as clear as a smog-free day: Shed the pounds, and you'll be healthier. It won't just help you to control your blood pressure, but it will also help boost your immune system so that your body is better equipped to fight off the toxins lurking in that smog.

    So sure, while smog has been linked to breathing conditions like asthma, heart disease, diabetes and now hypertension... obesity has been linked to all those things -- and so much more.

    Losing all that weight is not as hard as it sounds, and certainly easier than scrubbing the skies. First, switch yourself over to a more sensible diet -- limit the empty carbs like sugar and white bread and learn to enjoy a wide range of healthy, natural foods.

    Then, start jogging, dancing, jumping, hopping, skipping -- anything at all that gets you moving again, as long as you enjoy it. You don't need to torture yourself -- just get your blood pumping for 25 or 30 minutes a day.

    That's all it takes. Follow those two steps and you'll be thinner and healthier -- and better able to handle not just the smog, but anything else life throws at you.

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