No matter your age, you’ve probably heard that a healthy breakfast is the best way to start the day. Adding credibility to that statement, a study has found that kids who eat breakfast have better academic performance as well as higher test scores. The study was published in Public Health Nutrition and included 3,055 students, ages 9 to 11. Students reported everything they ate for a period of just over 24 hours (which included two breakfasts) and indicated when they ate each food. Researchers analyzed the students’ answers for healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, and unhealthy foods, like sweets and potato chips. Then, they compared the dietary data to the students’ test scores, taken 6 to 18 months later. After adjusting for gender and access to free school meals, the researchers found that:
- Students who reported eating breakfast performed better academically and got higher test scores.
- Eating unhealthy foods was not associated with academic performance, indicating that just eating breakfast was more important for performance than eating a healthy breakfast.
This study adds to the growing body of evidence that associates healthy lifestyle choices among students with better academic performance. However, more research is needed to understand exactly how health and educational outcomes are linked, and to pinpoint the best ways we can encourage kids to keep up healthy habits.
Source: Public Health Nutrition
Adding a few teaspoons of ginger to your cooked fish or veggies every day may be a recipe for heart health. A study found that eating ginger daily reduced the risk of hypertension and coronary heart disease in adults. Published in Nutrition, the study included 4,628 participants, ages 18 to 77. Researchers conducted face-to-face interviews with the participants to collect dietary and health data. They also reviewed the participant’s health records for diagnoses of diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, and other chronic diseases. Researchers then analyzed participants’ data, looking for relationships between ginger intake and the prevalence of chronic diseases, and found:
- In participants between 18 and 60 years old, daily ginger intake was associated with an 8% lower risk of hypertension and a 13% lower risk of coronary heart disease, compared with not eating ginger daily.
- In participants over 60, daily ginger intake was associated with a 16% lower risk of coronary heart disease, but no difference in risk of hypertension.
These findings are early evidence that developing a ginger habit may do your heart good. Previous research has linked ginger to nausea relief, improved blood sugar control, and osteoarthritis relief. If you’d like more ginger in your life, options abound with this versatile root: along with being a stellar fish and veggie topper, it also shines when added to savory soups and sauces and sweet baked goods.
Every parent wants to help their child reach for the stars. But what about reaching the highest shelf in the closet—is there anything you can do to help them reach those heights? Possibly! Research suggests that zinc supplements paired with multivitamins may help children at high risk of nutrient deficiencies to grow taller. The study was published in Pediatrics International and included 70 healthy children, ages 4 to 13, who attended a public school in central Thailand, where zinc and vitamin deficiencies are common. The children were randomly assigned to two groups: one group received a zinc bis-glycinate supplement providing 20 mg of elemental zinc, plus a multivitamin with B vitamins, and vitamins A and D, five days a week for six months; the other group received a placebo for the same amount of time. At the beginning and end of the six months, the children’s height, weight, BMI (body mass index), waist and hip circumference, and waist-to-height ratio were measured. At the end of the study, researchers discovered that:
- Regardless of their height and weight at the beginning of the study, two months after the children began treatment, the zinc/multivitamin group started to experience a statistically significant increase in height compared with the placebo group.
- By the end of the study, children in the zinc/multivitamin group grew 3.6 to 6.2 cm, while the placebo group grew 2.7 to 4.5 cm.
- There were no further differences in other measures of body growth during the study.
These findings support previous research that shows zinc and other vitamins are essential for normal growth during childhood. If you want to boost your child’s zinc intake, food sources include oysters, crab, sesame and pumpkin seeds, nuts, lentils, beans, beef, and fortified cereals. A zinc supplement may also be a good choice; just be sure to talk with your child’s pediatrician before adding supplements to their healthcare regimen.
Source: Pediatrics International
Drinking lemon-infused water to boost weight loss is touted by some celebrities as their preferred way to shed pounds, but is it backed by science? The answer is, not really—at least according to Time magazine. While research is limited, there is no evidence currently showing a connection between lemon water and weight loss. One 2008 study did find mice on a high-fat diet who were fed lemon polyphenols gained less weight than mice on the same diet who didn’t receive the polyphenols. However, this study applies to mice, not to lemon water-sipping humans. In addition, the mice received the polyphenols via large amounts of lemon rind, where polyphenols are concentrated, and it’s highly unlikely you’d get a similar amount from the juice and other parts of lemon that may be in your glass of lemon water. That said, here are a few ways lemon water may indirectly help you lose weight:
- Replacing sugary drinks with lemon water could reduce your overall caloric intake, thereby bolstering weight loss.
- Dehydration can slow down metabolism, which may lead to weight gain in the long-term. So, if you’re more likely to hydrate with lemon water, you may see some benefits.
- Drinking water before meals has been shown to increase weight loss, possibly because it helps you feel full faster. If adding lemon makes that pre-meal glass of water more appealing, it could help you maintain this possibly weight-reducing habit.
The bottom line is that, while lemon water isn’t a proven weight loss aid, if you enjoy drinking it—bottom’s up!
Nothing puts fitness goals on the back burner like an injury. So it’s important to play it safe when you’re working out—especially if you’re just starting a new activity. Here are some tips from several fitness experts, interviewed by the Washington Post, to help you break a sweat safely:
- Winning warm-ups. Warming up gets your blood flowing and preps your muscles for exercise. This is especially important as you age, since muscles and tendons tend to get less responsive. A solid warm-up should last at least ten minutes and include gentle dynamic stretching and range-of-motion exercises that gradually increase your heart rate.
- Active awareness. Stay mindful of your posture and form while exercising. Good form is especially important when doing drills like dead lifts and other hip hinge movements which require you to keep your back straight for support. Also, be aware of your body’s limitations and go easy on troublesome areas to avoid injuries; for example, people who sit at a computer all day could have tight chest muscles, hunched backs, or shortened hamstrings and may need to take extra care when using those muscles.
- Slow starts. If you’re at the beginning of your fitness journey, it’s important to start slow. At first, plan to exercise three times a week for one to two months to get into basic shape. Body-weight exercises, light resistance, low repetitions, conditioning of the core and other stabilizing muscles, as well as some cardio are a great way to start. Then, if you’re interested in moving on to something more intense, like heavy weight-lifting, work up to it over six months to a year.
- Balanced body. Your body’s muscles are all connected, so it’s important to avoid weak links that can lead to injury. For example, weak back muscles could lead to rotator cuff issues, and a weak core and hip section could lead to torn or inflamed Achilles’ tendons or sprained ankles. Aim for a balanced workout that strengthens muscle groups evenly.
Source: Washington Post
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