Super Nutrition for Women: The Award-Winning Guide No Woman Should Be Without, Revised and Updated

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9780553382501: Super Nutrition for Women: The Award-Winning Guide No Woman Should Be Without, Revised and Updated

Winner of the Excellence in Medical Communications Award, SUPER NUTRITION FOR WOMEN is the first scientifically based nutrition program to take into account women's distinct body chemistry and dietary needs—and reveals the best way to incorporate them into any weight-loss or workout plan.

This newly revised edition includes the latest nutritional studies and addresses the unique health and dietary concerns that women are facing today. Whether they're on a vegetarian or a meat-and-potatoes regimen, no matter what their age or lifestyle, SUPER NUTRITION FOR WOMEN will show readers:

* How to evaluate which weight-loss plan is best for them—from low carb to low fat—and how to stay healthy and happy while shedding pounds

* How to prevent and combat a variety of illnesses, including osteoporosis, breast cancer, heart disease, yeast infections, and allergies

* Easy menus, recipes, and Super Female Foods—staples that should be on every woman's shopping list

SUPER NUTRITION FOR WOMEN is a revolutionary program that works with today's popular diet and exercise plans—to help every woman look better, feel better, and live longer.

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About the Author:

Ann Louise Gitleman, Ph.D., Certified Nutrition Specialist, is the award-winning author of the New York Times bestseller The Fat Flush Plan and a weight loss expert with over two decades of experience in public health and private practice. Ann Louise holds a Ph.D. in holistic nutrition, is a Cerified Nutrition Specialist, and has a master's degree in nutrition education and a naturopathic degree in drugless healing. With more than 3.5 million copies of her books in print, Ann Louise has counseled men and women from all walks of life and has appeared regularly on nationally syndicated radio and TV news shows, including Good Morning America, MSNBC, Fox News, The View, and Dr. Phil. Ann Louise lives and works in Liberty Lake, Washington.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

CHAPTER ONE

The Perils of Low-Fat Eating

Discovery consists in seeing what everybody else has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought.

—ALBERT SZENT-GYORGI

Susan is 38 years old and she is dieting—again. She couldn’t count the number of diets she has been on since she first tried to lose her “baby fat” at age 13. A half grapefruit for breakfast, a salad with diet dressing for lunch, and broiled fish for dinner will help her reach her goal, she hopes. It seems to get harder and harder each time. It takes less time to regain the weight and more time to lose it, especially from around her waist. Desserts are her downfall—she rewards her daytime watchfulness with a “little treat” at night, Häagen-Dazs rum raisin ice cream. Susan is a chronic dieter.

Twenty-eight-year-old Pat works at maintaining nutrition despite a hectic lifestyle. She often reads articles on the latest food trends and is quick to incorporate them into her diet. Concerned about fat and cholesterol, she avoids oils, butter, red meats, and eggs. She eats shredded wheat with skim milk and bananas for breakfast, stir-fried brown rice with vegetables and soy sauce for lunch, and pasta with meatless tomato sauce for dinner. Her one food vice is chocolate, which she craves, especially just before her period. Some of her friends call her a “nutrition buff.”

At 18, Maryann is just beginning an independent life. One of the things she brought with her into her new apartment is her style of eating. Maryann is a “grabber”—a snacker who subsists on mini-meals as she rushes from one appointment to another. There are simply not enough hours in the day for her to sit down to three basic meals. Breakfast is a croissant and a cup of coffee, followed within a couple of hours by a diet cola and chips at her desk. Lunch with her coworkers is usually a hamburger, french fries, and a shake at a nearby fast-food chain. Dinner (if it’s not pizza) has more variety thanks to the frozen-food section. Fruit-flavored yogurts are her favorite snack.

These three women have different eating habits but share some common complaints. They feel tired much of the time; they are irritable and often feel cold; they seldom sleep soundly through the night; they have various aches and pains that seem to have no cause; they are the first to get the season’s colds; and vaginal infections, menstrual cramps, and bloating plague them every month. A visit to the doctor rules out a medical problem, so they think it must be “stress,” “that time of life,” “getting old,” or “hormonal readjustment”—in any case, just something to live with. The longer they maintain their diet styles, the greater the likelihood that they will develop anemia, heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, premenstrual syndrome, and arthritis.

Susan, Pat, and Maryann are fictionalized women, but they rep- resent the three basic female eating patterns I have observed while counseling thousands of clients both in person and on the Internet. I spotted these eating patterns repeatedly when I served as the nutrition director at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Santa Monica, California, and while working as a consultant to medical doctors, corporations, and environmental health clinics. By authoring twenty books on nutrition, I have worked to steer women away from these destructive patterns. In the last few years, it has been gratifying to help millions of women worldwide over the Internet via my interactive message board and my Web site, www.annlouise.com.

The chronic dieter, nutrition buff, and grabber are three basic female eating types I have noted over the past decades all over the country. These eating types have also been the focus of attention for USDA nutrition educators and other researchers throughout the country for decades, and they seem to cross economic and age categories. They can be identified in the diet histories of patients I counseled as far back as the early 1990s, spanning from Santa Fe to Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.

Whether in private practice, at hospitals, or in public health clinics, I have always required that my clients keep a food diary, recording what, when, and where they eat and drink, as well as their emotions at the time. By reviewing this record of total food intake over a period of three to seven days, I have been able to gauge their current eating habits.

Through my counseling I have evaluated the health impact of these eating styles and the concerns that have motivated women to adopt them in the first place. I have identified the potential health hazards of such eating patterns, and I have found food solutions that are nutritious, delicious, and convenient, whether at home or on the go.

CHRONIC DIETER

Let’s begin with a little background on the chronic dieter who is dieting (again) for weight loss. A National Health Interview Survey found that almost half of American adult women were dieting at any one time.

In my own counseling experience, the majority of clients who have come to see me over the years have wanted to lose weight. Many had already tried the most popular diets of the day, including Weight Watchers, Slim•Fast, Atkins, and Eat 4 Your Type. Were these women on the right track? The answer is yes and no. Based on conventional wisdom, there are basically only two ways to lose weight: burn more calories with exercise, or take in fewer calories with diet. Most women choose this second way.

Most of my clients tried to speed up the weight loss process by skipping meals, believing that by eating even less they would lose more weight faster.

As you read this, an estimated 124 million Americans are deliberately starving themselves in an effort to conform to society’s and their own ideal body image. A large-scale survey in a popular women’s magazine concluded that 75 percent of young women considered themselves too fat, even though 45 percent of them were actually underweight.1 Twice as many women diet as men—and they are happier about losing weight than about any other success in their work or home lives. Even women who are underweight are trying to eat less. In fact, some health authorities believe only 20 percent of women eat normally, without dieting.

Yet the National Center for Health Statistics estimates that 47 percent of women over age 18 are overweight, with 20 percent being obese. A study by the Centers for Disease Control found that nearly 8 percent of women put on more than 30 pounds between the ages of 25 and 35. Over the past five decades, fatness has been increasing steadily in the United States. We spend a staggering $30 billion to $50 billion annually on diet books, pills, foods, and gimmicks, but at the same time we are consuming candy in record amounts. In the last 25 years, our consumption of soft drinks has increased by more than 114 percent, but we’re eating only 10 percent more fruits and have upped our intake of vegetables by a scant 2 percent. Overall, Americans eat 15 percent less fat than they did a decade ago, but weigh 30 percent more.

I’ve often speculated that fatness is on the increase because of our preoccupation with dieting. Eating, not skipping meals, elevates the body’s metabolic rate. In fact, as my former chronic dieters can testify, simply eating three meals a day can burn up to 10 percent more calories. This translates into 200 more burned calories for most women on a daily basis.

Taking in fewer calories usually means taking in fewer nutrients as well. A 1995 USDA study of food consumption found that women got significantly less than the recommended dietary reference intakes (DRIs) of seven nutrients: vitamins B6 and E, calcium, magnesium, iron, folic acid, and zinc.

YO-YO DIETING RISKS

The effects of these schizophrenic eating habits have recently become the subject of serious research. At the University of Pennsylvania and elsewhere, scientists have studied what has become known as the yo-yo syndrome. Their conclusion—dieting can make you fat!

The yo-yo syndrome refers to cycles of weight gain and loss from dieting. Unable to distinguish between famine and dieting, the body reacts to fewer calories with inherent defenses, biological mechanisms designed to withstand starvation and protect the species. Your basal metabolic rate actually slows down. Since this rate accounts for 60 to 75 percent of the energy used by the body—for routine functions like breathing and cell repair—its slowdown calls a halt to weight loss.

In addition, the body becomes more efficient in storing fat. Enzymes are complex proteins that regulate the body’s chemical processes. One of them, called lipase, predigests dietary fat before it enters the intestine and thus makes the fat easier to digest and store. In yo-yo dieters, this enzyme becomes more active in preparing fat to be stored in fat cells.

These metabolic changes also cause a woman’s body to gain weight faster and hold on to it once calorie intake returns to normal.

Kelly Brownell, Ph.D., and the researchers of the Weight Cycling Project have seen other hazards in yo-yo dieting in their preliminary data:

•Women who yo-yo diet may redistribute their body fat from the thighs and hips (the predominant location on the female body) to the abdomen. The fatter a person is from the waist up, the greater the risk for diabetes and heart disease.

•Yo-yo dieting may increase the body’s ratio of fat to lean tissue. Women may lose considerable muscle tissue while dieting, but tend to regain it as fat.

•Yo-yo dieters may find their desire for fatty foods, many of which are unhealthful, increases.

•Additional risk from heart disease may come from the cycling of weight up and down. The long-term Framingham Heart Study, which has monitored more than 5,000 people for over 50 years, has found that people who raised their body weight by 10 percent increased their risk of coronary artery disease by 30 percent. On the other hand, if they lost 10 percent of body weight, they decreased their risk by only 20 percent, for a net increase of 10 percent in risk every loss-gain cycle.

Now you can understand why every time you diet, it gets harder and harder to lose weight. It is not just common sense, but biochemical fact, that changing eating habits gradually (combined with exercise) is the only effective way to lose weight.

THE CHRONIC DIETER AND ENERGY-SAPPING DIETS

In addition to metabolic slowdown, diets that reduce calories also often exclude entire categories of foods. This sets women up for nutritional deficiencies. Red meat is a good case in point. A diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, and fish and poultry may be high in vitamins A and C and protein, but significantly deficient in blood-building iron, vitamin B12, and the trace mineral zinc. These deficiencies can bring on anemia, asthma, hair loss, and psoriasis.

Women who feel deprived by low-calorie diets are more likely to cheat by devouring high-calorie, vitamin-deficient treats like gourmet cookies and rich desserts. How many times have I noted a coconut chocolate chip cookie, butternut ice cream, or a raspberry tart on the food diary of a chronic dieter who has sworn off red meat but treats herself to a fattening reward? These high-sugar foods may lead to anemia, osteoporosis, menstrual problems, and dry skin and hair by displacing more substantial foods in the diet.

THE NUTRITION BUFF

What about nutrition-conscious women like Pat? I have worked with hundreds of Pats, who make up the second largest group of patients consulting me for health problems. They think they are keeping fit and healthy by their watchfulness. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many of them.

Magazines and Internet sites that regularly poll their readers find that women say they are eating more poultry and fish, reading labels for nutrition information, and snacking on fruit.

Yet industry sales figures and national food consumption studies give a different view. Sadly, the 1995 USDA survey found no significant increase since 1977 in the percentage of women serving fish or fruits on a given survey day. As I pointed out earlier, the same study found women getting less than recommended amounts of vitamins B6 and E, calcium, magnesium, iron, folic acid, and zinc, all critical to a woman’s good health and optimum reproductive function.

FAT DECEPTION

For years, American women have been concerned about fats and, in particular, cholesterol. The late nutrition pioneer Nathan Pritikin, the American Heart Association, the Surgeon General, food editors all over the country, and even many food manufacturers urged a significant reduction of dietary fat as the way to health—to 30 percent of calories, down from the 40-plus percent most Americans consume. The Pritikin diet, with its emphasis on only 5 to 10 percent of calories from fats, convinced millions that fats were bad and linked with various degenerative diseases, particularly heart disease, America’s number one killer.

The American public has been brainwashed with a great big fat lie—a lie that has been told, retold, and told again over the past fifteen years. This lie—that fats are the ultimate dietary killers—has been extended to cover all fats, not just a few harmful ones. In my opinion, this lie has resulted in widespread harm to the overall health of our nation.

For so long, marketing by the nation’s food companies has included phrases like “slash the fat,” “reduced fat,” and “fat free.” The idea was that we could eat whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, as long as the foods we ate were fat free. And many people, especially women, bought into this myth.

Women like Pat are so anti-fat that they have not only sworn off every nut, seed, and avocado on the planet, but they’d rather be caught dead than use a drop of oil on their foods. Some of these women have become too lean from their obsessive dieting.

One of my clients, 33-year-old Gina, was a strong advocate of the low-fat, high-complex-carbohydrate diet because she believed it was the ideal diet for athletes. She ran almost five miles a day. When she consulted me because her periods had stopped, I explained that in addition to her extremely low-fat diet (fat makes hormones, as you will read later), her excessive exercise may have further reduced her body’s fat stores and disrupted hormonal function, which ultimately reduced the circulating estrogen levels in her body. Overexercise causes the body to stop making estrogen and utilize calcium, which is estrogen dependent! I suggested that she decrease her running by one-half, to two and one-half miles a day, and that she gain at least five pounds. I also told her to add one or two tablespoons of flax oil or olive oil to her daily diet. As it turned out, her period returned when she had regained only three pounds.

What advocates of the low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet overlooked was the evidence about the crucial—and positive—role some fats play in the diet. Women like Gina and others, who want to be thin but fertile, suffer the most from this nutritional one-sidedness.

But now other experts are beginning to agree with me about the importance of fats. As Gary Taubes reported in the New York Times in July 2002, “The dietary recommendations—eat less fat and more carbohydrates—may be the cause of the ram- paging epidemic of obesity in America.” Research points out “that there are plenty of reasons to suggest that the low-fat-is-good h...

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