The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is intended as a supplement, not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health-care provider. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional. Do not disregard, avoid or delay obtaining medical or health-related advice from a health-care professional because of something you have read on this site. If you are having a medical emergency, dial 911.

The Healthiest Meals on Earth: A Guide Eating Well and Eating Healthy

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 - 2:30pm

The Healthiest Meals on Earth is the best cookbook I have ever seen.  Before I continue praising this book though, let me shape this statement. Recipe books are ubiquitous. Everyone has ten of them and most never get cracked open.  Dr. Bowden's recipe book though is more than just instructions on how to make savory appetizers and tasty desserts.  It is a guide on how to eat healthy and eat well, with large doses of explanation that tie in the "why" to the "what". We recently chatted with Dr Bowden about the book.

Why this book now?

After the success of "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth", many people wrote to me and suggested a cookbook using the "healthiest foods on earth". So we designed "healthiest Meals" as a companion piece- a kind of hybrid between a recipe book and a nutrition book, explaining not only how to make these incredible dishes, but why they were so good for you- so you could not only eat this terrific food but feel good about doing it as well!

What is a polymeal?

A couple of years ago in the British Medical Journal, a researcher looked at the statistics on food and health and projected that if you could create a meal out of seven well-studied ingredients or foods, and get everyone to eat that meal regularly, you could reduce heart disease by over 70% and give people an average of 9 extra "good" years of life. He called that meal the POLYMEAL. We devised all our recipes and meals using the principles of the polymeal- the best variety of documented health benefits in the most delicious combinations.

Buy The Healthiest Meals on EarthWhat is the myth behind the low-fat diet?

That it's inherently healthy (which it's not) and that it will prevent disease (which it does not). The percentage of fat in the diet has absolutely no relationship to any health outcome. The TYPE of fat (i.e. trans-fats) and the TYPE of carbohydrate (i.e. processed food, high sugar) does indeed make a difference.

Your thoughts on sugar?

See above. It's the biggest problem in the American diet as well as in the diet of all "industrialized" nations. And by sugar i don't just mean table sugar, i mean high-fructose corn syrup and any starch that converts quickly to sugar in the body (which includes the vast majority of commercial cereals, pastas and breads). This stuff should represent no more than a small fraction of our diet, but the dietitians tell us it should be 60% which is patently, utterly absurd- at least if you want to be healthy.

Describe the "perfect meal"?

One that tastes delicious, is cooked at home, eaten with family and is a sensual and textural delight. AND which contains the maximum amount of health giving compounds from omega-3's to fiber to protein to healthy fat to vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Example: Wild salmon, vegetables with extra virgin olive oil, a piece of fruit, some nuts, a piece of fruit, red wine and a square of dark chocolate.

Why should people switch to organic foods? Aren't Americans living longer than ever before?

I'm not sure every single food we eat has to be organic, but many foods that are highly sprayed and contaminated should be- strawberries for example. The advantages of organic go beyond the considerable health benefits- organic soil holds more moisture and actually contributes to saving energy.

"Big Food" has co-opted the term organic in many cases- i'm not sure that "organic cocoa crunch cereal" has any meaning or value, yet I see stuff like that at the supermarket all the time.

Real food grown in organic soil has far more minerals and nutrients and less toxic chemicals. Living longer shouldn't be the only end-point by which we judge the success of a health strategy- you can live long in an assisted living facility or hooked up to tubes. What we're looking for is vibrant, energetic life for many years- living young and long- what I call "youngevity". You're not going to achieve that on a diet of processed food and toxic chemicals.

At the Diet Channel we like to play word association. We'll give you the phrase and you tell us your thought on it:

Child obesity: Sugar, fast food and too much television

Diabetes: Ditto, plus a ridiculous reluctance on the part of the dietary establishment to embrace one of the most effective anti-diabetic strategies in the world- a low-carb diet!

Processed Foods: See above. We need a whole new food sensibility in America. It's going to be slow coming, but we can see glimmers of hope on the horizon.

Fiber: Good stuff. Associated with an awful lot of good health outcomes including weight loss!

Antioxidants: Army. Powerful army of cellular protectors!

Good News for Muscles

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 - 10:29am

By Donna Feldman, MS, RD

Is there anyone who doesn’t want more muscle? From weekend warriors to professional athletes, the quest for 6-pack abs and high def biceps is never-ending. Steroids are a risky way to build muscle bulk, as many athletes discover. Muscles can’t just bulge out overnight.

The muscle-building process is relatively simple: Muscles grow in response to use. The building blocks of muscles are amino acids, found in all protein foods. Exercise + amino acids should equal muscle growth. There are plenty of food supplement products that promise to enhance muscle development, or speed muscle recovery after a workout. Are these necessary?

Milk Anyone?

One of the more surprising findings recently is that good ol’ milk may be one of the best muscle-building foods around. In a recent study, young men did resistance training 5 days/week. Three different post-workout drinks were compared for effect on muscle mass: skim milk, fat-free soy milk, and a carbohydrate drink with the same calories. While the training regimen caused all the men to increase muscle, the milk drinkers gained significantly more muscle.1 Fat-free milk is full of protein: An 8 oz cup has over 8 grams. Muscle mass requires protein. Interestingly, the milk proteins appear to be more effective than soy protein.2

Chocolate Milk?

But do muscles require chocolate? Some sports nutritionists swear by chocolate milk, and a small study of cyclists compared chocolate milk to fluid replacement or carbohydrate-replacement drinks. The chocolate milk drinkers had greater endurance.3 But cycling and resistance training are quite different activities. Cycling burns more calories than resistance training, so the chocolate was providing calories, while the milk part was providing protein. Sadly for chocolate lovers, chocolate alone is not likely to affect muscle growth.

Resistance Training Is Critical

All of these studies have one thing in common—exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine recently updated exercise guidelines issued in 1995. The 2007 version includes specific recommendations for muscle-strengthening resistance training.4 Muscle strength train is recognized as contributing to general health and fitness, as much as aerobic activities. A minimum of 2 times/week for strength training is recommended, along with at least 30 minutes of intense cardio activities 5 days/week. The ACSM website has many tips on activities and advice for novices who are just getting started.

More Is Better

Another addition to the ACSM recommendations is the notion that “more is better”. The minimum exercise recommendations are just that—minimal. More activity provides more benefits and will further reduce risks for chronic diseases. Of course, people should use common sense when it comes to exercise and injury. Older people, or those with health problems, should also be more careful, and should incorporate activities that improve balance. Working with a qualified trainer can help you avoid problems.


Building and maintaining muscle mass is desirable for just about everyone. Protein intake provides the building blocks, and resistance training tells the muscles to grow. Protein does not have to come from fancy or expensive sources, as the recent milk research shows. And if you prefer a chocolate-flavored post-workout beverage, your trainer won’t object.



1 Hartman JW et all. Consumption of Fat-Free fluid milk after resistance exercise AmJClinNutr 2007 Aug;86(2):373-81.
2 Phillips SM et.al. Dietary protein to support anabolism J.AmCollNutr 2005 Apr;24(2):134S-139S.
3 Karp JR. Chocolate milk as a post-exercise recovery aid. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metabo 2006 Feb;16(1):78-91.
4 www.acsm.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home_Page&TEMPLATE=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&CONTENTID=7764

*This article is intended for general information purposes only, is not individual-specific, nor is it intended to replace the advice of your healthcare team.

Exercises for a Stronger Back

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 - 5:10pm

By Michele Silence, MA

Back problems plaque eight out of ten people during the course of a lifetime. Some 80 billion dollars are spent on back pain each year which usually takes hold of 30-year-olds to 50-year-olds, right in the middle of typically busy, active lives.

It is estimated that the majority of back problems can be prevented and alleviated by keeping the musculoskeletal system strong and limber.  Specific exercises and stretches that can help you develop a stronger and more resilient back follow. Do them regularly, several times a week for a strong, limber back. If you feel pain with any of them, discontinue the exercise and ask your physician for variations appropriate for you.


1. Back Extensions
Lie over an exercise ball face down. With hands behind your head, lift your upper body until your spine forms a straight line. 
Safety Note: Do not swing or arch the back excessively.

Back Extension Stretches (click image to enlarge)
Back Extension Exercises (click to enlarge)
2. Pelvic Tilts
Lie on the floor with knees bent. Lift pelvis off the ground and then back down.
Safety Note: Keep back on the ground and only tilt the pelvis upward.

Pelvic Tilt (click to enlarge)
Pelvic Tilt (click to enlarge)
3. Wall Roll Downs
Place ball on a wall and lean against it. Roll down and up.
Safety Note: Make sure the feet are far enough out in front that the knees stay at a right angle at the bottom of the movement.


Wall Roll Down Stretch (click to enlarge)

Wall Roll Down Stretch (click image to enlarge)

4. Abdominal Crunches
Sit on an exercise ball and walk your feet out in front of you until the middle of your back is pressing against the ball. Place hands behind head and lift shoulders off the ball while pressing back into the ball. Return to starting position and repeat.
Safety Note: Do not arch back on the return phase.

Abdominal Crunch Exercises (click to enlarge)

Abdominal Crunch Exercises (click to enlarge)


1. Back Stretch
Lie on your back on the floor. Make your body into a round ball and hold.

Back Stretch (click image to enlarge)

2. Abductor/Gluteal Stretch
Lie on your back with knees bent. Place one foot on the other knee. Lift both knees to the chest. Repeat on other side.

Abductor Stretch (click to enlarge)

3. Lower Back Stretch
Pull one leg into the chest, the other leg bent with foot on the floor. Let top knee drop to the opposite side of the body and hold. Repeat on other leg.
Lower Back Stretch (click image to enlarge)
4. Quad stretch
Lie on floor with knees bent. Widen legs and tilt both knees to the side while trying to get the knees to the floor. Repeat other side.

Quad Stretch (click to enlarge)

5. Abdominal Stretch
Lie flat on the floor and lengthen arms overhead and legs downward.
Ab Stretch (click to enlarge)
Benefits of Back Exercises

By taking care of your back you will not only ward off back pain but improve your posture as well. You will stand taller, look younger, and be strong enough to protect yourself from being injured by day-to-day activities.

*This article is intended for general information purposes only, is not individual-specific, nor is it intended to replace the advice of your healthcare team.

Weight Loss Programs for Men

By Donna Feldman, MS, RD

When it comes to weight loss, men don’t get much sympathy from women. They can lose weight more quickly thanks to higher metabolisms and more muscle mass. They’re free of the scale-tipping effects of monthly hormone swings and pregnancy. They don’t tend to be emotional over-eaters. It’s no wonder promotional materials for diet programs feature women. The Jenny Craig website features 21 pages of success stories from women. From men: A grand total of 3 pages.

Maybe men just don’t need help with weight loss. Well, according to a November 2007 report from the Centers for Disease Control, that’s simply not true. The CDC report shows that obesity rates for men are catching up to women and are in fact almost identical: 33.3% for men and 35.3% for women.

Men Don’t “Diet”

For better or worse, “diets” and women go hand-in-hand. Women focus on appearance and are conditioned from an early age to equate “thin” with “attractive”. Diet plans were designed to appeal to women, emphasizing salads, low-fat foods, and sugar-free sweets. Where’s the beef? Where’s the beer? In the experience of Mary Gregg RD, Director of Nutrition for NutriSystem, men traditionally viewed weight loss as a female concern, and felt embarrassed attending diet classes that were mostly women. Men need more calories and prefer different foods. Clearly programs set up for women were not attracting men.

Trying to lose weight? Start be adding exercise to your daily routine: 

- Get a treadmill and walk while you watch television.
- Get a recumbent bike and ride for 30 minutes after dinner every night.
- Set up a bench press in the garage a la Kevin Spacey in American Beauty (though that did not really end well if you watch the film).

What Men Want

Most weight-loss experts agree that men have different motivations for weight loss. Men aren’t as appearance-oriented as women, and take a lot longer to see the need to lose weight. Medical concerns, whether type 2 diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, or a heart attack, are great guy motivators. Another is fitness. Men will lose weight to get in shape, and they expect that exercise will be part of the program. In fact, they welcome exercise and do better with it.

Weight Watchers and NutriSystem for Men

Armed with more information about the diet divide, major diet programs have now launched men’s programs. Gregg reports that NutriSystem started looking at a men’s program 2 years ago. NutriSystem provides the actual food, delivered right to the client’s door. The meal plans are designed to be high fiber/low sugar. Clients are expected to add their own fresh vegetables, salads, and fruit to the NutriSystem entrée selections.

Weight Watchers has always welcomed men to meetings, and in March, the company announced an Internet-based program aimed at men. The program has features to track food intake and exercise, along with tips on workouts and food choices.

Online Diet Program + Overweight Male = A Great Fit

Online weight loss programs are capitalizing on the fact that, once they decide to tackle weight control, men tend to be more disciplined and goal-driven. Weight control is just another challenge. As Karen Miller-Kovach, MS, RD, of Weight Watchers points out in her book “She Loses, He Loses,” men’s approach to dieting is “just tell me what to do.” This definitely includes an exercise component. NutriSystem has an exercise DVD featuring NFL player Vaughn Hebron, while Weight Watchers offers workout videos that target specific muscle groups and fitness levels.

The most appealing part of all these online plans for men is the flexibility. Men can use the Internet components and exercise videos at their convenience, and pick foods that they like.


These programs can produce significant weight loss results. But can the guys keep it off? Miller-Kovach notes that most men don’t have much basic knowledge about food and nutrition, and tend to depend on one person (i.e., spouse) for support and feedback in their weight-loss efforts. What about men who don’t have that one person? Michelle Berry, MA, LPC, of Denver, CO., spent over a decade as a nutrition therapist in a weight-loss clinic.  She points out that men have trouble with the long-term lifestyle changes needed to maintain weight loss. Traveling, dining out, and cooking all present problems after the structured diet program ends.


The growth of men’s diet programs is a welcome development. Guys can improve fitness and health, while eating foods they enjoy in portions that are satisfying. And thanks to the Internet, they can choose to lose on their own schedule from the comfort of home. No more dainty salads and diet soda lunches: Bring on the real food.



1 http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/07newsreleases/obesity.htm.
2 Gorin A.A., et al. PrevMed 2004 Sep;39(3):612-6.
3 M Kiernan et al. Obesity Res 2001(9):770-777.

*This article is intended for general information purposes only, is not individual-specific, nor is it intended to replace the advice of your healthcare team.

How to Be Successful in Weight Loss

Friday, August 8, 2008 - 3:11pm

By Megan Porter, RD/LD

Understanding the reasons why your doctor recommends weight loss to manage your diabetes may help you in becoming more motivated to do something about it.

Improved Health with Weight Loss

Some of the reasons you may benefit from weight loss include the following:
- Lowered blood sugar levels, especially if your blood sugars are higher than the recommended ranges.
- A decrease in blood pressure, or lowering of your blood pressure medication.
- A decrease in or discontinuation of insulin or diabetes medication.
- A decrease of insulin resistance within the cells.
- Lesser hip, knee, and other joint pain.
- Ease of daily tasks, such as walking, or getting dressed.
- More energy throughout your day.

Am I Really Overweight?

Are you a Type II Diabetic? Check out these useful products:

- Diabetes Monitoring Kits
- One Touch Test Strips
- Insulin Pumps

Media emphasizing “healthy weight” usually links good health to a narrow range of body weights and stresses health with slenderness. But you do not have to become slender to have better control over your type 2 diabetes and thus reap the benefits of being healthier.

The good news is that a loss of 5-7% from your body weight may diminish health risks associated with excess weight, including type 2 diabetes. According to The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), overweight and obesity increase the risk of morbidity from hypertension, dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gall bladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and respiratory problems, as well as endometrial, breast, prostate and colon cancers.


Today, health care providers use a measure called BMI, short for Body Mass Index. That gives them a good measure of your total body fat. Your BMI compares your height and weight, and it gives you a good indication of whether you are underweight, at a healthy weight, or overweight. Check out what your BMI is by using the BMI calculator here at The Diet Channel. Keep in mind that overweight is defined as a BMI of 25.0 to 29.9 kg/m2 and obesity as a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or higher.

Measuring Your Waist Circumference

Just being overweight may not jeopardize your health. But carrying the extra weight around your middle can. If you are an apple shape, it puts you at greater risk of uncontrolled type 2 diabetes and heart disease. By measuring your waist circumference you can distinguish whether you carry your weight around your middle (an apple-shaped body), or around your hips (a pear-shaped body).

Take a tape measure (a flexible one is best) and place it snugly (not tight) around your waist about two inches up from your navel. Compare the length around your waist to the numbers below. If the length of your waist is the same, or bigger than the numbers below, you have too much weight around your middle and your diabetes and overall health would benefit from a loss of weight.

Why Try if I’m Still Considered “Overweight” Even if I Lose 5-7%?

After you lose 5-7% of your initial weight, you may still be considered overweight or obese, but you still gain health. Every day, you are encouraged by a "thin obsessed" society, to set unrealistically low weight goals. While appearance may be an important motivator for you to lose weight, a goal of achieving a healthier weight and lifestyle leaves you in better health.

What you need to keep in mind is that by losing 5-7% of your initial body weight, you can improve your management of type 2 diabetes. And it also sets the stage for further weight loss because it is achievable and is realistic. Also, moderate weight losses can be easier to maintain over time. Besides, maintaining a moderate weight loss, over many years, is far healthier than regaining weight after a significant amount of weight loss.

One Dietary Change Is All It Takes

It could be foregoing that cream in your coffee or tea, or switching from regular to diet cola, or using skim milk instead of whole milk. Whatever dietary change you make is up to you. By making one change to decrease your daily intake of calories, you can lose weight. And these small changes, over the years, can add up to a significant weight loss of 10, 20, or even 30 pounds!

Here are some ideas that can get you thinking about what changes you can make to your daily diet to cut out 150 calories every day:

Forgo the mayo and add spicy mustard instead.
If you usually buy a latte, next time order a non-fat latte and order the smallest size.
Forgo the fries and add a salad with low-fat dressing.
Have vegetables instead of chips.

These are just some ideas to get you thinking. Consider what foods you eat on a regular basis. What small changes, like those mentioned, would work for you?

You may find out that all you need to do is decrease the portion size of what you eat. Eating half a sandwich and ½ cup carrot sticks is far less calories (and carbohydrates) than a whole sandwich with chips. Substituting high calorie foods for lower calorie ones also works. Foods like salad dressings, cream cheese, sour cream, soda, and yogurt all have lower calorie substitutes.

*This article is intended for general information purposes only, is not individual-specific, nor is it intended to replace the advice of your healthcare team.