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Weight Loss: Advertising vs Realities



Have you ever watched a television commercial or read a print advertisement that guaranteed you the ability to lose weight with little to no efforts on your behalf or that appeared to be the magic fix that would enable weight loss? I have, in-fact millions of people worldwide have witnessed advertising and marketing for weight loss products and services. Many of these marketing programs cost extra money (different than a book with a plan to follow, for example) beyond that of what foods cost alone. In this vein, today’s blog-column examines some of these fad-advertising themes with straight, true guidance for you. The guidance for you is meant to assist you in achieving any weight loss goals, except this blog is without hype or the need for you to utilize your credit card for something special in the fight for a skinnier you.


  1. The Cigarette Diet – in the early 1920’s, the Lucky Strike brand of cigarettes marketed their cigarettes as a tool to aid in reducing appetite and for weight loss.
  2. The Tapeworm Diet – Can you believe that at one time, it was advertised to the public to use and swallow tapeworms to aid in weight loss? Tapeworms, when ingested hatch eggs, yield more worms and these worms can live within your small intestines. The tapeworm will expand up to about 20 inches in length. The tapeworm will also eat much of the food that you ingest, allowing you not to absorb all of the calories that you eat, resulting in weight loss. Would you want to use worms and them come out of your body if it aided in weight loss? Most would not. Thus, this weight loss plan fell out of favor.
  3. The Grapefruit Diet – this diet was advertised as a way to help weight loss. The reality is if you eat ½ to 1 whole grapefruit before eating each meal, which it would aid in burning extra calories and in significant weight loss. The reality is, the advertising campaign helped the citrus and farming industries, but not waistlines. Yes, eating at least ½ a grapefruit before each meal can aid in burning extra calories throughout the day, however over time this may not actually translate into much weight loss.
  4. The Master Cleanse Diet – this basic plan uses drinking juices and homemade juices to induce weight loss while imparting wellness. The diet is lower in calorie and the calories come from juices and honey for the most part while missing many classes and types of phytochemicals and nutrients. In fact, many people who have tried this liquid only diet, have quit due to excessive hunger and feelings of body related fatigue. It is a low calorie weight loss plan can lead to many nutrient           deficiencies.
  5. Take this pill for instant weight loss – infomercials and print ads have claimed that if you take some magic substance that only the company has access to in your quest for weight loss, then your results are guaranteed. Can this guarantee be true? Is a sport team mascot really an animal? Meaning no, if something sounds too good to be true, it is! Sure some dietary supplements and select herbals, standardized to contain a certain amount and type of bioactive components have been shown in research to aid in weight loss. These are the types of products to search for. Fad induced weight loss can help for short-term health promotion reasons, however without lifestyle changes (eating a little less than you need and including exercise daily or almost daily basis), the weight loss will only be short-term. The weight gain rebound is worse.


Five tips for true weight loss:


  1. Eat your larger meals earlier in the day – this allows more time throughout the day to burn off what you ate.
  2. Eat ½ the portion(s) that you want or think that you need. Also make the foods and meals that you are going to have be higher in protein and fiber content. If you are still hungry later on in the day, have a protein-rich food.
  3. Talk a 10-15 minute walk after each meal. The added stimulus of activity helps digestion and extra calorie burning.
  4. If wanting to use a dietary supplement for weight loss, realize that there is no magic pill, but the program in whole that seems best, has to include some exercise and smart eating. Think of the supplement as a catalyst that won’t on it’s help own for weight loss.
  5. Avoid anything that seems like it is just popular now or a fad. Fads help spot-weight reduction only – the spot on you that gets reduced is your wallet.


The idea of today’s blog is to share with you that if something sounds too good to be true, then, it probably is! Yes, some dietary supplements for weight control work and can be the spark for you to help the lifestyle change needed to sustain weight loss then maintain the lost weight. In order to determine just which products may fit this type of bill, ask then what direct research has been undertaken. If the company answers you, you can feel a little better about the product, however ask to read the research.


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How to Make More Money Through Nutrition

Flickr/Lindsey Turner

Flickr/Lindsey Turner

There are many health-promoting activities that one can get involved with. From how one eats, to sleep habits as well as exercise and activity are all examples of health-promoting activities. Throughout our lifespans there are ample opportunities to impact learning or earning power. If you think of missed days of school in any of your key learning years as the same once in the work force, and thus a part of the earning power as gain days and days where you missed a day or more of school or work as a loss day, we can put a value together for the “cost savings opportunity”.


A recent study found that consuming probiotics might decrease the duration of common upper respiratory infection significantly as compared to a placebo. Decreased duration of a cold also means less overall sick time. In practical terms, ingesting Lactobacillus and/or Bifidobacterium, which is found in yogurts and dietary supplements can help reduce the duration of the common cold. In the study, those on the probiotics experienced shorter illness episodes and few days absent from daycare, school or work versus those on placebo. Amongst the conclusions was also a referral to a 2011 published meta-analysis as support for the current and now reaffirmed findings.


In the United States, 22 million school days and 20 million workdays are lost due to the common cold and the economic impact of these lost days is estimated at $40 million. Any saved lost days, saves money and also allows greater learning opportunity. Probiotics as found in foods and in dietary supplements support the immune system and now are reaffirmed to be helpful with the common cold.


Some take home tips for staying healthy:


  1. Eat or take probiotics daily
  2. Wash your hands a few times daily
  3. Get adequate sleep
  4. Make protein a part of each meal
  5. Stay hydrated
  6. Enjoy a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables throughout the day
  7. Exercise


Yours in Health!


Douglas Kalman PhD RD


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  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21901706
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24780623


5 Slimming Foods

Chicken and Salad

Can it be true? Are there actual foods that can help you slim? We all know that weight management is an ongoing issue throughout the United States and perhaps other parts of the world too. For keeping a healthy weight the easy part to understand is that one needs to manage the calories in (from food and beverages) versus calories burned (from physical activity and daily living). However, this is not always so easy to eat less and move more. This being said, there are tricks that one can use to help keep the food intake part of the equation in check. The purpose of this article is to point out foods worthy of including in your daily fare to help with maintaining a slimmer you.


  1. Green or Oolong Tea – These two teas are typically found in Japanese and Chinese restaurants. They come from the same plant it is only the aging of the plant that makes the difference in tea color and taste. Studies have shown that when one drinks these teas and especially five glasses per day (total of 40 ounces), it makes the body burn an extra 90-100 calories per day. This is due to the special kind of polyphenols (catechins) that are found in the tea. Drink up to lose weight!
  2. Fiber – Fiber can be soluble or insoluble. Soluble fibers help with cholesterol management while the insoluble help with maintaining regularity. Studies show that meals that include fiber help a person feel full and feel full longer. Thus fiber can help with slimming as it helps you feel full so you will eat less food over a 24-hour period. Fiber intake for men and women is recommended to be 35 and 25 grams per day respectively. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are good sources of natural fiber. Have fiber at eat meal and snack. Read food labels and look for at least 3 or more grams fiber per serving.
  3. Mixed Greens Salad – Research has shown that when people dine out and they have either a salad or a piece of bread (roll) before the main meal, they eat less and feel fuller with a salad as the appetizer or starter. Lettuce and other greens used in salads contain water, some vitamins and minerals. The water content of foods can help with the food having a slimming effect. Aim to have a salad before your meals though do ditch the full fat dressings for more natural “vinaigrette” type dressing if you need one at all.
  4. Chicken and Fish – We are not saying that you must have chicken or fish with every meal, however research shows us that when the diet is higher in protein at the expense of some carbohydrate, that weight loss becomes easier. Diets that contain somewhere between 23 and 28 percent protein aid thermogenesis and satiety, so one burns more calories over a 24-hour period and feels less hungry. The tip is to always include protein in every meal or snack of the day. Protein foods include fish, chicken, turkey, fish, lean red meat, eggs and so forth.
  5. Plectranthus barbatus – is a plant that grows in India and other arid areas of the world. The common name for this food is Coleus Forskohlin (which has many spellings). Coleus (the root) is typically eaten as a pickle. Include it daily in your plan. Believe it or not, many medicines can be made from this plant. People also make tea from Coleus. Look to include this Indian and African botanical in your food meal or as a tea. It is also currently available in dietary supplement form with early evidence showing a weight loss effect.


Some say it is the small things that one does over time that can have a big impact. For slimming or weight management, this most certainly this is true. We believe including the aforementioned foods and themes in your diet is one sure way to help with weight and waist management. For great recipes to get you started see this link: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20678467_3,00.html


To Your Health!

– Douglas S. Kalman PhD RD

For more great health tips and advice, please follow us on Twitter at the following “handles”


@Miami_Nutrition and


Three Tips to Avoid Binging

Wine Glass

Every now and then do you enjoy a glass of wine with your dinner? Or perhaps, do you and your significant other sit, open a bottle of wine, enjoy some food and relax with each other? All of these aforementioned things can be fine and healthy and certainly are commonplace in adult society. So, should one worry if you like to include wine in your lifestyle?


Experts say that when it comes to food, to eat all things in moderation. However, how many moderates do you really know? Look around you with two-thirds of American society either overweight or obese, clearly the word moderation is not well understood. Yes, one can argue that weight status has nothing to do with enjoying the seasonal varietal, however such an argument might be short sighted. Weight status is related to how many calories we eat (consume) and how much we burn throughout the day and more importantly, over time. Can a single night of having perhaps instead of one glass of wine, but now three negatively affect you?


A new research study has found that having three glasses of wine can alter brain chemistry and decision making over the next 24-hours. In this study survey of over 2,000 adults, more than 50% said whenever they had three glasses of wine or more, within the next day, found themselves binging on food. The binge resulted in anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 calories being eaten within the 24-hour period. As you might guess, the majority of people in this study also did not exercise the day after they binged (meaning the day after just having three glasses of wine).


So if you know that you might be having more than three glasses of wine and do not want to suffer all of the consequences possible from this, what might you do?


  1. Do not drink on an empty stomach. Make sure to eat food throughout the day and of course, to keep it low sodium. Extra salt makes you thirstier, salting foods is a great bartenders trick to make you buy more drinks.
  2. For every glass of wine ingested, drink an equal amount of water. Have an extra glass of water before going to sleep. This can help offset the diuretic effects of alcohol and prepare your body for a healthy tomorrow.
  3. The next day, when you awake, have a big glass of water, stretch and have a healthy breakfast. Within an hour, go for exercise or at least a long walk of at least 45 minutes. This helps to maintain a great metabolism and promotes healthier digestion. In addition, the exercise and healthy eating helps set your brain for a great day.


No one purposely wants to overeat when knowing that they can end up overweight and unhealthy. Drinking three or more glasses of wine can affect thinking and other mental processes. Being aware of this when just enjoying a bottle of wine with a friend or a mate can help you prepare for success the next day versus overeating or binging on extra food. These three little steps can help protect you from unwanted next day and longer effects of a nice evening.


To Your Health!

– Douglas S. Kalman PhD RD


For more great health and lifestyle tips, please follow me on Twitter:






1. http://www.bbc.com/news/health-27124357

Five Ways to Burn Extra Calories Without Trying

weight loss

Achieving and maintaining weight loss is not always so easy. Foods, snacks, beverages and more are constantly being advertised. It might now be more of a rarity to drive and not see a fast food restaurant and yet other places that sell or retail foods and beverages. Technology has opened up new ways of working and living to help us be more efficient with our time. One end result of these improvements is we are less active in general than in years past. Frustrations with weight can also result. Thinking about nutrition or health interventions that may be helpful, I examined the most current medical and scientific research as published by the National Library of Medicine. The tips are summarized below.

  1. 36,500 extra calories burned, just like that! One recent study found that by drinking extra tea one may burn about up to an extra 100 calories per day. Try drinking five cups of either green or oolong tea in order to enjoy this benefit (1,2).
  2. Might there be a treatment for cellulite? The answer is yes! In fact, it appears that Johnson & Johnson has a formula in mind, from what they recently tested in France, described as “topical cosmetic slimming product combining tetrahydroxypropyl ethylenediamine, caffeine, carnitine, forskolin and retinol.” (3) Read your favorite product labels, if you see these ingredients, chances are, you have the product that was effective in the referenced study.
  3. Berberine, an alkaloid found in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has weight loss effects while also supporting healthy cholesterol (lipid) levels. (4)
  4. A new B-like vitamin positively influences energy metabolism and reduces inflammation. This vitamin is known as PQQ. Research dosage found to be beneficial in humans was about 20 mg (5).
  5. Whey for weight loss? Whey protein combined with glucomannan fiber aids in feelings of satiety. In fact, the reduction in want to eat correlated with hormonal indicators of the same. The dose needed of both ingredients was small, 8 grams whey plus 1-gram glucomannan (6). This is easy to find in the health food store or online.

Today’s blog goal was to share evidence-based, referenced modern scientific solutions to help you obtain your goals. The evidence shared on this blog is meant to be used as simple tips that may help you in weight loss support. Nutrition is an evolutionary science, we are always learning more. Hopefully this blog serves you well in helping you to achieve your health and fitness goals.


To Your Health!


– Douglas S. Kalman PhD RD



For more great health and lifestyle tips, please follow me on Twitter:






  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=oolong+tea+and+thermogenesis
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20156466
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21564138
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22739410
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24231099
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24319546

Five Things You Did Not Know About Vitamin C


Citrus ImageVitamin C is a very popular vitamin, perhaps even the best known and selling vitamin worldwide. We are told from the time we are children that vitamin C is good for you, that we need to make sure to get enough vitamin C for health, strength and our immune system. Some people claim vitamin C can prevent colds (it cannot), cure cancer (it does not, but under certain circumstances may aid treatment to work better), and that vitamin C is the strongest antioxidant (it also, is not).


Historically vitamin C is best known for its ability to cure scurvy. Scurvy at one time was a prevalent disease in sailors. In probably the first clinical trial to ever happen on the open seas, James Lind in 1747 took 12 sailors who had scurvy and treated them with six different interventions. The only intervention that was effective for scurvy was oranges and lemons. This discovery, later validated via repeat work, was the start of the discovery of one property of vitamin C.


  1. Has vitamin C always been known as vitamin C? NO! In fact, vitamin C was first called “hexuronic acid”. Vitamin C did not become an official name for the vitamer until 1933.
  2. Humans can synthesize their own vitamin C. In fact, this is also NOT TRUE! For humans, vitamin C must be obtained through the diet, through foods or beverages that we eat. The closest things to a human, which synthesizes vitamin C internally and does not need it from the diet, are canines (dogs).
  3. Pasteurization is safe for vitamin C. No, No, No! Not true! Pasteurization while needed for food safety from a public health standpoint, actually destroys any naturally occurring vitamin C in the food that is about to be pasteurized. Any vitamin C you find in a pasteurized food is added after pasteurization, thus is supplemental, not natural.
  4. Smoking depletes the body of vitamin C. Yes this is true. Each cigarette or equivalent depletes the body of about 25mg of vitamin C. This is also one reason why health professionals recommend extra or higher amounts of vitamin C for people who smoke. Another reason smoking is no good for you.
  5. The current recommendations for daily vitamin C dietary levels are from 90 mg per day to no more than 2 grams per day. One orange typically can supply the days need for vitamin C. There are great many foods which are rich in vitamin C, to learn more, click on this link: http://www.whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=109


The above “fun facts” are designed to teach a little about vitamin C while also providing some guidance on how much to aim for daily through your diet or diet plus use of supplemental nutrition.


To Your Health!


-Douglas Kalman PhD, RD, FACN


For more great health information – please follow us on Twitter






  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_C#cite_note-US_RDA-81
  2. http://www.whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=109



Ancient Science for Modern Health

Mountain Tea

Have you ever wondered whether there might be a higher power out there? No, I am not meaning to engage all of us in a discussion of religion, but rather a discussion about the evolution of nutrition. We are all aware that from the dawn of the human race, food was needed for survival. Without food, there is famine and ultimately no life. So, how did our very ancient forefathers and mothers realize just what to eat versus what not to have? As time and the Earth evolved, so did the advent of religion(s) and thus written dietary laws that helped steer people about foods. The point of this article is focused on what foods, herbals and botanicals ingested as food or drinks were commonly used in ancient times that are worth rediscovering now. Be prepared to learn about a few foods, spices and special beverages that might just be able to do more for you than promote generalized health.


  1.      Quinoa – Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) is an ancient grain first brought to nutritional prominence by the ancient Andean population (about 4,000 years ago). This cereal like grain is most popular in Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, with it now becoming a worldwide superstar. Quinoa contains 14% protein (nearly the highest of any cereal-grain), B-vitamins, is high in minerals such as potassium, magnesium and iron, and also is rich in fiber. This is one ancient cereal-grain worth having in your diet. For great quinoa recipes, see http://www.cookinglight.com/food/recipe-finder/cooking-with-quinoa-00412000073996/
  2.      Wheat Berries -A wheat berry is the entire wheat kernel, including the bran, endosperm, and germ, meaning it is a whole grain. The third most abundant crop worldwide, following rice and corn, wheat berries are a great source of healthy carbohydrates. Nutrient count varies depending on the type of wheat berries you select. They can be soft or hard and come in a variety of colors. Overall, wheat berries are high in fiber and protein and contain a variety of nutrients including vitamin E, calcium, B vitamins, folate, and potassium. Eat wheat berries in place of pasta, rice, and other grains, or use them in salads and side dishes. They’re also a great alternative to oatmeal when blended with fresh fruit and nuts. Awesome wheat berry recipes can be found at http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/recipe_slideshows/easy_wheat_berries_recipes?slide=1#leaderboardad
  3.      Shepherd’s Tea – Shepard’s tea is from ancient Greece. It is also known as Mountain tea, since the magic botanicals that are use to brew it only grow in select mountains above certain altitudes. The botanical name for this tea is Sideritis syriaca.  This tea is a stimulant and it is known to aid the immune system, while also promoting digestion. The tea is now being investigated for it’s anti-inflammatory effects, as well as ability to relieve anxiety. The ancient Greeks were certainly onto something with this tea! Learn about this tea here http://greekfood.about.com/od/mezethesdrinks/a/tsaitouvounou.htm
  4.      Boswellia serrata – Indian frankincense is also known as shallaki. It is found almost only in India. This botanical is considered a staple of Ayurvedic medicine. It has a wealth of naturally occurring pharmaceutically active components. Extracts have been studied for osteoarthritis, joint function, chronic inflammatory diseases (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, bronchial asthma, osteoarthritis, ulcerative colitis, and so much more. Boswellia seems like a natural alternative to NSAID medications, which is quite safe and growing in popularity. Look for it to be standardized for the boswellic acids content. This botanical is more popular in dietary supplements versus the spice aisle at your local supermarket. No matter where you get your Boswellia, it is just plain good for you.
  5.      Cynomorium Root – this parasitic perennial flower is also known as the Maltese mushroom and the desert thumb.It grows in dry, rocky or sandy soils as well as in salt marshes. This rare flower is found in Europe, Arabia and throughout Asia. It has no chlorophyll and has to be dug out of the ground to be chosen for food. As this flower is pollinated, it has a sweet like odor. Classic ancient medicine used this flower as a sexual tonic, to treat iron losses and in the 9th century it was also used as a salve for skin conditions. This botanical can be eaten as it is “fruit like” or made into standardized extracts. One great resource is http://www.itmonline.org/arts/cynomorium.htm


It is my pleasure to share nutritional topics and insights that might be of interest to you and certainly this info is meant to be used for health promotion. Today’s blog was written with the goal of sparking your interest in some nutritional aids that you may not have heard of yet or ever tried. We hope that this information is useful to you – as we know you can apply these tips starting today, for a healthier and more diverse tomorrow.


Vida MD – To Your Health!


– Douglas Kalman PhD RD FACN.


For more great health tips, please follow us on @Miami_Nutrition and also @dougkalmanphdrd

Nutritional Tips for Inner and Outer Beauty

beauty skin

As we grow into adulthood and enjoying what life has to bring, we worry about how we look through this journey. As we learn about our bodies in teenage years, embrace the adventures of our 20’s and grow into our 30’s, what we care about changes. We once felt indestructible, had energy all day and night long, but now we get tired midday. We feel aches and pains we never had before, not to mention the change in our skin. As a health professional, many times I observe friends and colleagues paying more attention to their health only when something is bothering them or a scare hits within their family and close friends. As youths, we often go out in the sun without protecting our skin, and use various techniques to promote faster tanning not realizing that we have increased our chances for premature skin aging and cancer later in life.  This got me thinking about some simple inner and outer health tips that can be adopted at any age for health and wellness promotion.


Simple tips:


  1.      Hydrate – that is right, water and any non-alcoholic fluid can help you stay hydrated. A dehydrated and even a sub-optimal hydrated body have negative effects on whole body metabolism and the appearance of your skin. Some health professionals believe a goal for daily hydration (from beverages and the fluids found in fruits and vegetables) is equal to half your body weight (but in ounces). For example, if you weigh 100 pounds, your aim is to get 50 ounces of total fluids per day.
  2.      Eat Fish – Fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and certain types of tuna are rich in omega-three fatty acids (omega 3’s). Omega 3 fatty acids play a huge role in the body for heart health (inner beauty) and as an anti-inflammatory (inner and outer beauty). Research has found that those people with low levels of omega 3’s in their diet often have more mood disturbances than those who include omegas in their diet. Great thing is, taking omega 3’s in as little as two-three times per week offers health benefits.
  3.      Enjoy colorful fruits and vegetables – the more colorful a fruit or a vegetable is, the more diverse amount of phytochemicals and nutrients that it contains. Research shows those with a wide variety of colorful fruits and veggies in their diet have lower levels of heart disease and cancer risk (inner beauty). We, in nutrition often ask people to get a total of five to nine servings of fruit and veggies per day. With so many organic and natural juices on the market, there are many ways of getting fruits and veggies in you.
  4.      Don’t skimp on Protein – Protein is so important to the body, in fact, your immune system is based mostly on protein. Protein is the backbone of your immune system and if you are not eating adequate protein, overtime you can get a weaker immune system. Protein is also essential for muscles maintenance and muscle tone, a person with insufficient protein will have weaker and smaller muscles, making daily activities more challenging. Also, your skin contains proteins, which is used for skin elasticity, skin integrity and appearance. Protein aids inner and outer immunity. One way to make sure you are getting enough protein in your diet is to ingest about half your body weight in grams (e.g., weigh 100 pounds, goal is a minimum of 50 grams protein daily).
  5.      Sleep – Of course, Sleep! Getting enough sleep helps our body renew and reduce adding more stress onto your body. Some health promoters say outside of not smoking that getting adequate hydration and rest are two keys to maintaining inner and outer beauty. Everyone is different, and to determine how many hours of sleep you should need is not easy to say. However, we do know those individuals whom get less than four or five hours sleep per night tend to have more illnesses and obesity in their life. Do not underestimate the need for sleep to promote inner and outer beauty!


Thank you for reading our blog, if you like it please share it.

To your health!

-Douglas Kalman PhD, RD


Please follow us too on Twitter – @Miami_Nutrition and on @dougkalmanphdrd

Weight, what does sleep have to do with it, have to do with it?!?!?!?!


More than 78 million adults (or 35.7%) and more than 12.5 million children (or 16.9%) in the U.S. are classified as obese. By increasing the risk for cardiovascular diseases, Type 2 diabetes and most cancers, obesity contributes to 1 in 10 deaths, making it the second leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. Obese individuals with diabetes or high blood pressure have a 26% greater risk of death than healthy-weight individuals.

You know that old song, “the thigh bone is connected to the leg bone”. Well, with sleep, “the sleep bone is connected to the weight bone”, so to speak.  Interruptions in sleep may contribute to hormonal changes and fatigue, which may result in less exercise, increased appetite, insulin resistance and diabetes.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is calculated from a person’s weight and height and correlates to measures of body fat. A BMI of greater than 30 is considered obese. Two thirds of people with obstructive sleep apnea (a sleep disorder characterized by loud snoring with repetitive blockage of the upper airway causing arousals from sleep) are obese. Interestingly, neck circumference (your shirt collar size) is associated with obesity and appears to be a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea (greater than 16 inches for women and greater than 17 inches for men). Losing 10-20% of total body weight can improve the severity of underlying obstructive sleep apnea

Here’s an interesting tidbit. Did you know the timing of food intake, in relation to our internal body clock and the time we sleep, can predict weight gain and weight loss? In an experiment where mice were forced to eat only during the day, the reverse of their normal nighttime eating habits, the mice gained two and a half times more weight, even when their caloric intake remained unchanged. The message to us as humans:  “If you eat earlier and don’t graze with food and snacks after dinner, you’ll be more likely to lose weight”.   Even the timing of when you go to sleep can affect weight. Studies have shown that even changing your sleep schedule on the weekends, the way many of us do by shifting to a later sleep time on a Friday and Saturday night, can contribute to obesity. Not getting enough sleep can contribute to weight gain. A sleepy brain appears to not only respond more strongly to junk food, but also has less ability fight the impulse to eat more, less healthy foods. Remarkable as well is the observation that sleep disturbances in children with sleep apnea my lead to either weight gain or even a “failure to thrive” with actual weight loss.  

Medical research has recently discovered specific hormones which effect weight and appetite. Leptin comes from adipose cells (fat cells) and normally signals satiety = “makes you feel full”.  Ghrelin is another hormone (from the GI digestive tract), which signals increased appetite, tells you to “eat more”.  Stanford University and the University of Wisconsin looked at about 1,000 volunteers who reported the number of hours they slept each night. Doctors then measured their levels of ghrelin and leptin and charted their weight. The result: those who slept less than eight hours a night not only had lower levels of leptin (felt less satiety or less full) withhigher levels of ghrelin (increased appetite), but they also had a higher level of body fat. What’s more, the level of body fat seemed to correlate with their sleep patterns. Specifically, those who slept the fewest hours per night weighed the most.

Parasomnias are sleep disorders defined as “undesirable physical events or experiences occurring during or around sleep”. The typical example is sleepwalking. Well, there exists a phenomenon known as aSleep Related Eating Disorder” characterized by episodes of involuntary eating and drinking during arousals from sleep with no memory of the events.”  We believe this may be a variant of sleep walking and is more common in women than men. It can occur during any time in the sleep cycle with people often eating peculiar forms or combinations of food. The good news is it’s often very treatable.

Dr. Matthew P. Walker, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley seems to have summed it up quite well when he stated,

“It is increasingly clear from the medical literature that there is not a single tissue in the body that is not beneficially affected by improved sleep.  It’s the single most effective thing people can do every day to reset their brain and body health.”


-Dr. Timothy L. Grant, M.D., F.A.A.S.M.

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