Category Archives: Do Your Research

Health Guidebook

A few months ago, my manager asked me to set up a Health Challenge at work. Unfortunately, it took me so long to write the extremely detailed guidebook I created that we lost momentum and it never really took off.

Regardless, I don’t want all the work I put into creating this document to go to waste, so I’ve uploaded it here in the hopes that somebody will find it useful. ¬†It lists each of the categories that we determined we would be tracking for the challenge as well as a little information about each one, then includes a section with advice on some of the challenges that my teammates said they struggle with when trying to live healthier lifestyles.

There’s even a table of contents, so there’s no need to read the entire thing. ūüôā Just click on the link below!

Health Challenge – Guidebook

How to Hydrate

I ran six miles this morning. It took me about an hour. It was HOT. Like, 93¬ļ but feels like 105 hot. I lost 0.8 pounds.¬†In an hour. From running. And no, running is not some magical exercise that can make you lose a pound an hour, though I wish it were.

The weight that I lost was water weight. And that was still¬†after I had already drank back 16 oz (about a pound). So let’s talk about drinking water!

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Nutrition Fact/Fiction?: Organic Food is Healthier

Whether or not organic food is healthier than conventionally grown food is a big topic of debate in science, which is interesting, because it seems to me that most people (whether they buy organic or not) just assume that it is, in fact, healthier.

As it turns out, science doesn’t know! But here’s a really great article from Vox summarizing a recent study and some background in the broader research and its challenges.

In short: Is organic healthier? We don’t know, and we may not ever. But eating more fruits and vegetables definitely is good, so eat more produce – whether you buy organic or not!

Nutrition Myth: The Less You Eat, the Faster You’ll Lose Weight

I already wrote a post about how losing weight is only about consuming fewer calories than you burn in a day. So a lot of people will take that fact to its “logical” conclusion and think, “oh! That means if I barely eat, I’ll lose a ton of weight really quickly!” which is also recognizable in various fad/product diets such as the Special K Diet. This is really bad. DO NOT DO THIS.

These diets, which from here on out I’m going to accurately refer to as starvation diets, are common – especially among women. But they’re also only minimally effective, super bad for you, extremely difficult to follow, and ultimately counterproductive. Here’s why:

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Nutrition Myth: GMOs Cause Cancer (Or a Variety of Other Horrible, Scary Things)

Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs, are probably one of the most controversial, not-actually-controversial-at-all topics out there when it comes to food and food safety. It’s not uncommon to see websites or articles touting the claim that GMOs are inherently bad, unsafe, or unhealthy and that science has proved they aren’t fit for consumption. Many brands have started labeling themselves as “non-GMO,” and some states have considered passing laws that would require foods to label whether or not they contained GMOs.

So it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that this is a hotly debated issue. But the truth is, every major scientific organization has officially stated that research has conclusively shown genetically modified food poses no significant health risk to humans. In other words, the anti-GMO movement is about as scientifically credible as anti-vaxxers. (Hint: Not even a little bit credible.)

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Nutrition Fiction: Low-Carb Diets Are Best (/Carbs Are Evil)

I have to start this post with a biology lesson. You probably already know that there are three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. These are our bodies’ sources of fuel, but they are not all treated equally.

The article I linked to above explains this quite well, and in more detail than I’m going to, but the short version is that carbohydrates are your body’s primary fuel source, largely because they are the easiest to break down. While your body can and will break fats and proteins down into energy, it takes longer than breaking down carbs and therefore, as a less efficient process, is not preferred by your body in most cases.

Fat contains the most energy potential per gram, so it is also commonly used by the body as a source of fuel Рeither in low intensity exercise where it has the time to break the fat down, or during endurance exercise in an attempt to preserve glycogen (sugar), which comes from carbs and is used by your body to create energy.

Finally, the least preferred source of fuel is protein. It is used in late stages of endurance exercise, when glycogen (sugar) runs really low and the body is forced to break protein into amino acids for fuel. However, this is not ideal because protein is much better used for other purposes – specifically muscle build and repair functions.

So that brings us to how low carb diets work.

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Ok Internet, We Need to Talk.

So as I’ve been increasing my interest in both cooking and healthy eating, I’ve spent a fair amount of time searching the internet for healthy recipes I can try. As a result, I’ve noticed something: a significant portion of the internet has no idea what healthy means.

Now in some cases this is understandable; for example, I recently found an entire¬†blog¬†dedicated to healthier recipes for baking. She does a really great job making recipes that are significantly healthier than a typical, comparable recipe, and I intend to make a huge number of things on her site, but there is a limit to how healthy things can be when you’re baking. And that’s fine.

What’s not fine is when people post things like “extra super cheesy bacon squash mac and cheese” and pretend that it’s healthy because they used squash instead of wheat pasta. I’m sorry, internet, but that’s just not how it works. You don’t get to pretend that unhealthy dishes are suddenly healthy just because you took out the gluten; gluten isn’t even bad for you, unless you have celiac disease.

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