About Your Biometric Numbers: False Positives

goldfish with shark fin is example of a false positiveBiometric screenings provide numbers that are important for understanding your health status. But unfortunately sometimes the objective data can give what are known as a “false positive”. This means that your data may show that you have medium or even a high risk level for a chronic disease like obesity, cholesterol, or hypertension. But even though the data are correct, the interpretation is not.

Below are three examples of biometric screening data that can give you false positives, leading you to believe that you may have a chronic condition when you may not at all. As with all medical topics, always consult your doctor for any questions or clarifications that you need.

 

The Body Mass Index (BMI)

The BMI is a measure of overweight and obesity. However, this biometric has a serious flaw because it basically compares your height to your weight, gets a ratio of one to the other, and uses that determine whether you are of normal weight, overweight, or obese.

On the face of it, it seems completely commonsensical. For example, if two people are both exactly the same height at six foot tall, but the first one weighs 200 pounds while the other person weighs 180 pounds. Clearly, the first one should be more overweight.

But the problem with the logic is that our muscle weighs more than our fat. So people who lift weights or even those who have more muscle tone will read higher on the BMI scale. Athletes who are obviously fit and healthy can have a BMI reading that puts them into the overweight or obese category.

This is a clear false positive.

 

Cholesterol

Many things can impact your cholesterol levels and produce a temporary change in your body’s chemistry. If you get your screenings down during a swing in your cholesterol, the number read may not reflect the actual value. Here are some ways that could happen:

Short term reductions in lipid levels:

  1. If you have had a recent cardiac event like a heart attack or stroke.
  2. If you have had recent surgeries or infections.

Short term increases in lipid levels: 

  1. Corticosteroids and estrogen hormones can temporarily raise your lipid levels. If you have been prescribed these medications, let your doctor know.
  2. Pregnancy can increase cholesterol levels. In fact, tests for cholesterol are not considered reliable until 3 months after the baby is born.

Short term changes:

  1. Eating before you get your blood drawn can create these alterations in cholesterol. The safest way to take your cholesterol reading is to fast for 12 hours beforehand so there is no food on board to muddy the waters.
  2. Along this line, drinking alcoholic beverages also can change the cholesterol readings.

 

Blood Pressure

Your blood vessels have tiny muscles around them like little sleeves. And when these mini-muscular sleeves contract, it can pinch down the bore of the blood vessel. When the vessel squeezes in on the blood, suddenly the space inside gets much smaller, even though the amount of blood stays the same!

When that happens, the blood presses harder on the walls of the vessels and this causes your blood pressure reading to increase. When the vessels relax again, the pressure comes back down as well.

In addition to constriction of the blood vessels, many things cause temporary changes in blood pressure: when you wake up in the morning, go from sitting to standing, walk a flight of stairs, and even when you are nervous. All these variables can cause false positives as well, as when the reading is correct but the interpretation is not.

Consult your doctor of course, but also understand that you can have the most confidence in your blood pressure reading if you take it multiple times in the same way each time. Be calm, not winded, and sitting down. Also, having those multiple readings taken to confirm your values can provide more certainty in your actual blood pressure.

Cauliflower with Mustard Sauce

A unique side dish to complement some grilled or baked fish.

You’ll Need

  • 1 medium cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ lemon (juice only)
  • Paprika

Directions

  • Remove the stem and leaves from the cauliflower.
  • Steam the cauliflower whole until it is barely tender.
  • Drain and keep warm.
  • Whip the cream and set aside briefly.
  • In a mixing bowl combine the mayonnaise, salt, mustard and lemon juice.
  • Whip until blended; fold in the whipped cream.
  • Pour sauce over cauliflower or serve it separately.
  • Sprinkle with paprika.

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French Onion Soup

This easy to prepare soup seems so gourmet!

You’ll Need:

  • 1 Medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 Quarts chicken stock
  • 2 Tablespoons (about) Emmenthal or Swiss cheese per person
  • 1 Baguette toast round per person

Directions:

In a skillet, sauté onion and butter over a gentle, medium flame until it softens (about 15 minutes). Sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of flour and stir for another 2 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Let simmer with the lid on and allow this mixture to bubble for another 40 minutes.

As the soup comes along, grate the cheese, and then toast the bread (baguettes, not surprisingly, work best for this).

Ladle the broth into oven-safe bowls, top with the toast, and sprinkle with enough cheese to just cover the bread. Broil until the cheese is golden and the soup bubbles up along the side of the dish.

Tricks of the Trade:

As in other matters of the skillet, time and flavor trade off. Leave the onions on medium heat and let them slowly sauté, to mellow the floury taste.

Likewise, after the stock goes in, allow the soup its full 40 minute covered cook time. You’ll appreciate the results in the end.

 

Play With Your Food!

There’s a lot you can do with this soup. Throw in some sliced mushrooms, or even chicken meat, just after the flour addition. The smokiness of the mushroom and the heartiness of the chicken are truly delicious and make this soup its own meal.

Follow @willclower

For more information: Click here to visit Will Clower’s website.

 

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About Your Biometric Numbers: Nibble Away At Those Bad Values

You cannot simply eat your way to health, because proper nutrition alone is not enough. A true lifestyle approach includes mindfullness and activity as well.

That said, healthy eating habits is a great place to start to improve your numbers. When thinking about what to do to improve your nutrition, consider two aspects: quantity and quality.

Quality

Healthy Lunch Portions

Nutritional research demonstrates that a Mediterranean style diet is associated with lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. To eat in this manner, even if you do not live there, here are some tips:

  • Choose whole foods and limit foods that contain artificial ingredients.
  • Make vegetables the building blocks of your diet, with at least two servings at lunch and dinner.
  • Choose monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, almonds and avocados.
  • Eat a diet that is primarily plant-based by choosing: fruits, beans, nuts, whole grains and seeds.
  • Animal products such as red meat and processed meats should be the smaller portion on your plate.
  • Choose seafoods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, and halibut.
  • Plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, pine-nuts and soybeans.
  • Limit consumption of high sugar drinks and, on occasion, choose the all-natural dessert options.

 

Quantity

Do you need a rule to help you become healthier? Here’s a key rule that applies to any nutritional approach: Eat Small, Be Small. Eating more food than your body needs can move your biometric profile into the at-risk range. All healthy dietary cultures, regardless of the specific cuisines they consume, eat meals in control.

Portion Distortion ComparisonUse these tips to aid you control portions.

  • If you eat faster, you will be more likely to overeat. So slow down, and take smaller bites when you eat.
  • Sugar consumption can create cravings, leaving to overeating. Cut sugar from your diet where you can.
  • Start with just a bit less than you think you want, then go back for more afterwards if you are still hungry.
  • Train your cravings. The amount you are hungry for can be trained. If you eat large, that will be what your body expects. So eat small, to be small.

By controlling quantity and quality, you can get all the nutritional benefits of the healthier food options, but without eating so much that those same food become bad for you. Win win!

Marinated Carrots

A fabulous side dish that is soooo easy to make!

You’ll Need

  • 1 pound carrots
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

  • Peel the carrots, and cut them into thin rings.
  • Put the wine, water, vinegar, crushed garlic, bay leaf and oil into a pan.
  • Bring to a boil and; add the carrots.
  • Boil for 8 minutes.
  • Pour the ingredients into a bowl and; stir in the mustard.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Leave to stand for at least 6 hours.
  • For the fullest flavor, let it stand for a couple of days.

 

 

Chicken Stir Fry

This recipe is an easy way to enjoy in veggies and a great way to use up leftover cooked chicken.

You’ll Need

  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts
  • 28 ounces drained bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup bamboo shoots
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups cooked chicken cut in large bite sized pieces
  • 4 large celery stalks cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Ground pepper
  • Cooked rice or noodles

Directions 

  • In a large skillet, heat oil and cook onions until slightly soft.
  • Add celery, mushrooms and 1 1/2 cup chicken broth.
  • Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring a few times.
  • Add water chestnuts, bean sprouts and bamboo shoots.
  • In a small bowl, make a mixture of cornstarch, soy sauce and 1/2 cup chicken broth and stir until smooth.
  • Add mixture to the large skillet, along with the cooked meat.
  • Add freshly ground pepper and mix well.
  • Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Serve over rice or noodles
  • Switch up the vegetables as you see fit.

About Your Biometric Numbers: Why Are They Important

Employees often do their worksite wellness screenings, get their numbers, and walk out of the door feeling like this whole exercise was one big FYI. “Huh, yeah that’s interesting or whatever.” But it is important to understand your biometric numbers for a couple of reasons.

Chronic Diseases Sneak Up On You

Dr Explaining to PatientMost chronic diseases do not have any symptoms. In other words, you won’t realize that the condition is progressing until it is too late. That is why knowing your numbers helps you to be proactive with your health. Those biometric numbers may be the only warning sign you have.

Then, once you know your values and see that you are in the Medium Risk category, or the High Risk category, you can do something to head off an incident before it happens. For example …

  • If your blood glucose is elevated, this indicates a risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
  • High triglycerides, blood pressure or cholesterol indicates a risk for heart disease.
  • High BMI is a predictor of heart disease and diabetes as well as certain types of cancers

The good news is that common lifestyle habits can help you target the numbers that put you at risk.

 

You Can See Your Own Improvement

Good Better Best signsThe other important aspect of biometric numbers is that you can see your trend over time. Not all solutions are equally effective for everyone. If you are working to improve your numbers through a special kind of dietary intervention or exercise regimen, how do you know if it is working?

If you have your first biometric numbers, and then applied your own solution, you can compare those numbers over time. Then when you test again, you can see which variables have improved and by how much!

During this month we will talk about biometric numbers, why they’re important, when you should be skeptical enough to ask your doctor, and what to do about them.

Train Your Brain in August: With Nutrition

All month we will explore the brain. Specifically, we’ll walk you through the methods for training your brain to be stronger, smarter, and faster!

Brain Food chalk board sign with food in backgroundYour blood vessels (arteries and capillaries) carry oxygen and nutrients into your brain and then deliver them to the neurons to keep them healthy. If your blood vessels are unhealthy, they can clog up, or break open. Both of these are called strokes (the first is ‘ischemic’ and the second is ‘hemorrhagic’). When this happens inside your brain it can lead to permanent impairment or death.

So it’s critical to keep blood vessels as healthy as they can be. One easy way to do this is through nutrition, and the Mediterranean dietary approach is associated with healthier hearts for exactly this reason.

It starts with a focus on real foods that are minimally processed. This includes fruit (rather than fruit-flavored jolly ranchers, rollups, Fruity Pebbles cereal, etc), vegetables (other than the fried potato), nuts (without nougat, sugar encrusted products), meats that lean on fish and chicken, and desserts that are small and naturally lower in sugar.

The nutritional impact of this approach is that the omega-3 fatty acids found in the fish and nuts and veg you consume turn out to be healthy for your blood vessels, keeping them elastic and strong. Likewise, other parts of this traditional dietary approach include the walnuts, high-cocoa chocolate, olive oil, berries, and green leafy vegetables that make sure blood pressure stays under control.

Finally, as with anything, moderation is key. In healthy cultures they eat all these wonderful foods, but they eat small. Truly following a Mediterranean diet requires that we control food quality AND quantity, and can help move the needle of health in a positive direction by giving your arteries their best chance to stay healthy for life.