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
Most people know eating fruits and vegetables is good for their health, and better for keeping pounds off than, say, a cheeseburger. But this conventional wisdom is nuanced: some fruits and vegetables are better for weight loss than others, and some are even associated with weight gain. Published in PLoS One, the research examined data from 133,468 men and women who took part in three separate studies over a 24-year period: the Nurses’ Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study II, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. During the 24-year period, participants were asked to complete a food-frequency questionnaire covering 131 separate food items, including a range of fruits and vegetables, every four years. After taking into account various lifestyle factors such as smoking and physical activity level, here is what the researchers found when they evaluated the amount of fruits and vegetables consumed by the participants:
- In general, each extra serving of fruit per day was associated with an almost 0.50 lb weight decrease over a four-year period. The association was strongest for berries, apples, and pears.
- In general, each extra serving of vegetables per day was associated with a 0.25 lb weight decrease over a four-year period. The association was strongest for cruciferous vegetables (such as cauliflower and broccoli) and green leafy vegetables (such as kale, spinach, and romaine lettuce).
- Starchy vegetables, such as corn, peas, and potatoes, had the opposite effect: more servings were associated with weight gain. However, there was one exception to this trend: starch-containing tofu and soy products were associated with weight loss.
These findings indicate that simply eating more fruits and vegetables may not be enough for weight loss—choosing the right fruits and vegetables is key. The high-fiber content and low-glycemic load of some fruits and vegetables could explain why this is the case—high-fiber foods tend to increase feelings of fullness, and contribute fewer calories to a meal. And while potatoes and corn do contain fiber, they also contain more calories than other types of vegetables. However, more research is needed to determine if starchy vegetables actually contribute to weight gain directly, or whether people who eat more starchy vegetables tend to share unhealthy habits which are responsible for any weight gain.
Source: PLoS One
A study found probiotics may help improve mood characteristics associated with an increased risk of depression and anxiety. Published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, the study provided a multistrain probiotic supplement to 20 healthy, depression-free young adults for four weeks, while giving a placebo to the other 20 participants. The probiotic supplement contained Bifidobacterium bifidum,Bifidobacterium lactis,Lactobacillus acidophilus,Lactobacillus brevis,Lactobacillus casei,Lactobacillus salivarius, and Lactococcus lactis. Before and after the supplementation period, all participants took two social cognitive tests and filled out a questionnaire aimed at determining symptoms of and risk factors for depression and anxiety. At the end of the four weeks, researchers discovered that:
- The probiotics group had a greater reduction in aggressive and ruminative thoughts, as compared to the placebo group. Ruminating—responding to a sad mood by dwelling on the causes and consequences of the sadness—has been associated with transforming a sad mood into a depressive episode.
Research on the relationship between probiotics and mood is still in its infancy, and more clinical trials are needed to confirm these findings, as well as to clarify which probiotic strains (and under which conditions) produce the best results. Nevertheless, the findings are consistent with some other animal and human studies which have dicovered probiotics may positively influence a wide range of mood states, including depression, anxiety, and stress.
Source: Brain, Behavior, and Immunity
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