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Cutting Just 300 Calories Per Day Has Many Health Benefits, Study Shows
Losing weight, improving heart health and decreasing your chances for metabolic diseases like diabetes may be as simple as cutting back on a handful of Oreos or saying no to a side of fries, according to a new study published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.
The researchers behind the study found that just a moderate reduction in calories, just 300, led to a host of health benefits.
During the course of two years, study participants who restricted their calories lowered their blood pressure and their LDL cholesterol. They also had a 24 percent drop in their triglycerides, as CNN reported, and less inflammation. In fact, they saw improvements on all six primary factors associated with heart health, along with improved insulin resistance and metabolic rates.
The study participants who consumed 300 fewer calories per day also lost 16.5 pounds on average.
"We expected there to be [some] improvement on cardiometabolic factors because of weight loss," said William Kraus, the study's lead author and a distinguished professor of cardiovascular genomics at Duke University, as NPR reported. "But ... we didn't expect the degree of improvement we saw."
While the weight loss was desirable, it was not the cause of the hear benefits. Further analysis showed that the weight loss was responsible for only one quarter of the improved measurement in heart health, which suggests that dropping a few calories from your diet has benefits beyond those normally associated with weight loss, according to NPR.
"Exercise and diet are the two most profound and easily implemented interventions we have in our environment that can reduce our cardiovascular risks," said Dr. Kraus, as CNN reported. "There aren't five drugs on the market when combined that could approach what we saw in this study from moderate calorie restriction."
The study participants, aged 21-50, were either assigned to cut 25 percent of their calories from their regular diet for two years, or they were told to not to change anything at all for the same timeframe.
The half on the restrictive diet received training on how to portion control, like eating a smaller cut of meat. Both groups then met with researchers once every six months to track their blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome risk, as MarketWatch reported.
Cutting calories for the duration of the study proved to be a challenge for the study participants. Few were able to maintain the 25 percent reduction. Over the course of two years, the calorie restricted group averaged a 12 percent fewer calories, or 300 calories.
Hitting 300 calories is doable by simply subbing out soda and replacing it with seltzer water, using olive on your salad instead of creamy dressing, and having a slice of toast instead of a muffin, according to MarketWatch.
Yet, as any dieter knows, keeping up a deprivation habit is a challenge. The long-term effects on longevity and chronic diseases remain unknown since the participants would have to keep up the habit for a long time, which can be an enormous challenge.
"We are living in an obesogenic environment with an abundance of energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods that are cheap, accessible and heavily marketed," said Frank Hu, the chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who was not involved in the research, as the New York Times reported.
However, he did say that calorie restriction might be doable if it is combined with other popular dietary strategies like the Mediterranean diet, intermittent fasting or reduced carbohydrate intake.
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By Tracy L. Barnett
Sources reviewed this article for accuracy.
For Sicangu Lakota water protector Cheryl Angel, Standing Rock helped her define what she stands against: an economy rooted in extraction of resources and exploitation of people and planet. It wasn't until she'd had some distance that the vision of what she stands for came into focus.
Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.
The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.
"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.
"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."
Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.
If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."
Leaked documents show that Jair Bolsonaro's government intends to use the Brazilian president's hate speech to isolate minorities living in the Amazon region. The PowerPoint slides, which democraciaAbierta has seen, also reveal plans to implement predatory projects that could have a devastating environmental impact.