15 Fat-Burning Foods

Nutrition 101: Eat To Burn Fat

Your one-week, fat-burning meal plan, plus the 15 best fat-burning foods.

The 15 Best Fat-Burning Foods

1. Walnuts

All nuts do contain some amount of the omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid, but most only contain trace amounts.

The real fat hero in most nuts is mono-unsaturated fats. Walnuts are actually a rich source of omega-3s.

One ounce provides almost 3g of alpha-linolenic acid.

2. Ginger

Used for centuries to help relieve digestive upset/disturbances, ginger can also help reduce inflammation, boost blood flow to muscles and aid muscle recovery.

It has also has been shown to boost calorie burn when eaten.

3. Oatmeal

This very slow-digesting carb keeps blood sugar and insulin levels low, so fat burning can stay high.

In fact, research has shown that athletes who consume slow-digesting carbs in the morning burn more fat throughout the entire day and during workouts than those consuming fast-digesting carbs.

4. Avocado

The mono-unsaturated fats found in avocados are burned readily for fuel during exercise and actually encourage fat burning.

Avocados also contain a very interesting carb called mannoheptulose, a sugar that actually blunts insulin release and enhances calciumabsorption, both of which are critical for encouraging fat loss.

5. Salmon

This fish is one of the richest sources of the omega-3 essential fats EPA and DHA. Unlikeflaxseeds, which provide a type of omega-3 that has to be converted into EPA and DHA, salmonprovides your body a direct supply of them with no conversion required.

This way you know you’re getting a direct supply of the fats that turn on fat burning and block fat storage.

6. Soybeans (Edamame)

Soybeans are the direct origin of soy protein, which has been shown to build muscle as efficiently as other forms of protein like whey and beef.

Soy has also been shown to aid fat loss, possibly by decreasing appetite and calorie intake.

7. Water

This just may be your best ally in fighting bodyfat. Studies have shown that drinking 2 cups of cold water can boost metabolic rate by 30%.

It has been estimated that drinking about 2 cups of cold water before breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for a year can burn 17,400 extra calories, which translates into a little more than 5 pounds of bodyfat!

 

Water just may be your best ally in fighting bodyfat
Water just may be your best ally in fighting bodyfat. 

8. Flaxseeds

They contain the essential omega-3 fatty acid alpha linolenic acid. These omega-3 fats have been found to turn on genes that stimulate fat burning and turn off genes that increase fat storage.

9. Grapefruit

A study from the Scripps Clinic (San Diego, California) reported that subjects eating half of agrapefruit or drinking 8 oz of grapefruit juice three times a day while maintaining their normal diet lost an average of 4 pounds over 12 weeks – and some lost more than 10 pounds without even dieting!

Results were likely due to grapefruit’s ability to reduce insulin levels and to a chemical in grapefruit known as naringin, which prevents fat from being stored in the body.

10. Honey

Yes, it’s a sugar, but it’s fairly low on the glycemic index. Keeping insulin levels low and steady is critical for maintaining a fat-burning environment in your body.

Honey is also a rich source of nitric oxide (NO) metabolites; ultimately, that means it actually encourages fat release from the body’s fat cells

11. Peanut Butter

Another source of helpful mono-unsaturated fat that can actually aid fat loss. What’s funny is that many food manufacturers make low-fat peanut butters!

Of course, they replace these healthy mono-unsaturated fats with carbs, namely sugar. Avoid these and stick with natural peanut butters that don’t add the type of fat you surely want to avoid – trans fats.

12. Eggs

Yes, we listed eggs in the muscle-building foods. So how can it also be a fat-burning food?

Research supports the notion that those who start their day with eggs not only eat fewer calories throughout the day, but also lose significantly more bodyfat.

13. Chili Pepper Flakes

Hot peppers contain the active ingredient capsaicin, a chemical that can enhance calorie burning at rest as well as reduce hunger and food intake.

The boost in calorie burn is particularly enhanced when capsaicin is used with caffeine.

14. Broccoli

This fibrous carb doesn’t provide many net carbs or calories, but it can make you feel full – one reason why it’s a great food for getting lean.

Broccoli can make you feel full - one reason why it's a great food for getting lean
Broccoli can make you feel full – one reason why it’s a great food for getting lean. 

Broccoli also contains phytochemicals that can help enhance fat loss.

15. Olive Oil

Like avocados, olive oil is a great source of monounsaturated fats.

Not only do they lower levels of the “bad” type of cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health, but they’re also more likely to be burned as fuel, which means they’re less likely to be sticking around your midsection.

The Fat-Burning One-Week Meal Plan

The following plan is designed for a woman weighing 140 pounds. When trying to lose weight during a rigorous exercise program, a good rule of thumb is to shoot for an intake of about 12 calories per pound of bodyweight.

So for a 110-pound woman, total daily calories would be approximately 1,320; for a 150-pound woman, about 1,800. See muscleandfitnesshers.com for your supplements on workout days.

Monday

Nutrition:

Calories: 1,565
Protein: 185g
Carbs: 65g
Fat: 65g

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Nutrition – Eating Filling Food, Not High Calorie Food

PRECISION NUTRITION BLOG

What are your 4 pounds made of?

by RYAN ANDREWS | September 9th, 2009
I don’t know what you had for lunch today, but I had 18 apples.

What do you think of that? You probably think I’m a glutton and have the GI tract of a gorilla.

But check this – a typical fast food value meal has the same amount of calories as 18 apples. 18! So I wanted to see what would happen if I downed the same amount of calories from apples.

Not pretty.

Yet I’ve had buddies knock back 2 value meals while watching Monday Night Football.  And no, I haven’t seen any of them go through a bag of red delicious by the 4th quarter.

What does this tell me?  Well, it tells me that Mother Nature has got your back.

Fast food and apples What are your 4 pounds made of?

Remember:

  • Real food regulates appetite – so you don’t overeat
  • Real food controls blood sugar/insulin – so you can avoid energy swings and diabetes
  • Real food provides the best nutrition – so you can remain healthy for life
  • Real food has a sane amount of energy – so that you can’t accidentally overeat
  • Real food has a longstanding relationship with our body – so that our bodies know what to do with it

Energy density

This leads me to the world of energy density. Are you familiar with it? It’s the amount of energy (calories) per unit of food. Let me explain.

200 melons What are your 4 pounds made of? 200 cheese What are your 4 pounds made of?
This is 200 calories of melon. This is a lot of melon.
This is 200 calories of cheese. This isn’t very much cheese.
200 celery What are your 4 pounds made of? 200 chocolate bar What are your 4 pounds made of?
This is 200 calories of celery. Good luck eating this.
This is 200 calories of a candy bar. Good luck NOT eating this.

Seeing a trend? It’s hard to rack up excess energy (calories) from whole, real, calorie-dilute foods.

Food poundage

Interestingly, research shows that most humans eat around 3-5 pounds of food per day.  Indeed, as we approach 4 pounds of food intake for the day, most of us are feeling pretty satisfied.

Now, this can be 4 pounds of celery.  Or it can be 4 pounds of candy bars.  It’s not the food or calorie content that matters.  It’s the volume/poundage that counts.  And obviously, there are some big nutrient differences between celery and candy bars, right?

Now, let’s take some extreme examples of this…

  • 4 pounds of raw veggies will provide 400 calories
  • 4 pounds of raw fruits will provide 1000 calories
  • 4 pounds of cooked whole grains/legumes provides 1600 calories
  • 4 pounds of nuts/seeds provides about 10,000 calories
  • 4 pounds of Lucky Charms, Pop Tarts, Cheese provides about 10,000 calories

Note: I’m showing calories only as a measurement unit to help illustrate a point. Don’t get wrapped up in the numbers.

People that struggle with body fat management tend to fill up on energy dense, processed foods. This means stored energy for later.

Translation: Fatness.

If we eat 4 pounds of energy-controlled, whole, real food – we get lots of nutrition with a calorie count that our body can handle.

What’s our poundage portion?

Most people in the U.S. are consuming (on average) the following amounts of food each day:

2.0 pounds of meat, dairy and eggs
1.5 pounds fruits and veggies
0.5 pound grains
0.5 pounds added sugars, fats and oils
= 4.5 pounds
= about 3,700 calories per day

What if we switched this around?

2.5 pounds of fruits and veggies
1.0 pounds of grains and legumes
0.3 pounds nuts/seeds
0.3 pounds meat, dairy and eggs
0.1 pounds added sugars, fats and oils
= 4.2 pounds
= about 2,075 calories per day (this isn’t really that much, especially if you’re physically active.)

Putting it to the test

I’m curious: what does a day of my food weigh?

How much my day of food weighs 1024x768 What are your 4 pounds made of?
How much my day of food weighs = 3.7 pounds

Foods – Clockwise, starting in upper right

2 lentil burgers, steamed broccoli
Peaches & blueberries
Raw buckwheat granola with hempseeds and flax
Roasted garbanzos & goji berries
Sprouted grain bread with peanut butter
Lettuce & kale
Celery, carrots, zucchini

Note: I was surprised it didn’t weigh more. The actual food weighs less than 3.7 pounds, as the food containers contribute to the total weight. I left out condiments like salad dressing and mustard.

Oh, and this was just a random day of eating. Some days I eat more, some days less.

What have we learned today?

If we prioritize and eat nutritious, real, controlled energy foods – there isn’t much room left for the energy dense, fake foods. You only have about 3-5 pounds to work with each day.

So… think about it…what are your 4 pounds made up of?

Learn more

To learn more about making important improvements to your nutrition and exercise program, check out the following 5-day video courses.

They’re probably better than 90% of the seminars we’ve ever attended on the subjects of exercise and nutrition (and probably better than a few we’ve given ourselves, too).

The best part? They’re totally free.

To check out the free courses, just click one of the links below.

Women Smokers Who Quit Before Age 30 Could Evade Early Death

Women Smokers Who Quit Before Age 30 Could Evade Early Death

Smoking increases a person’s risk of dying early. Now a new UK study of one million women finds those who quit smoking by age 30 can almost completely eliminate the increased risk of
dying early compared to never smokers, while those who quit by the age of 40, can cut it by 90%.

smoking3_250

The most important result of this new study is that the risks posed by smoking are bigger than previous research suggests, and, quitting smoking has a bigger effect on reducing those risks than previously thought.  The researchers found that female smokers in the UK die about 10 years earlier on average than never smokers. But by giving up the habit before the age of 40, and preferably well before then, they can cut more than 90% off the risk of losing those 10 years.

Their analysis shows that most of the difference between smokers and nonsmokers, as far as cause of death is concerned, is smoking-related. It shows that two-thirds of smokers in the study who died in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, did so as a result of a smoking-related disease such as lung cancer, chronic lung disease, heart disease, and stroke. But women who quit by the age of 30 avoided 97% of the increased risk of smoking-related premature death.

women smokers

Release of the study coincides with the centenary of the birth of Sir Richard Doll, renowned epidemiologist and an early pioneer of research linking smoking to lung cancer. He died in 2005 aged 92, and was Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University from 1969 to 1979. Many of the researchers involved in this latest study worked with Doll and have continued building on the methods he developed in using large epidemiological studies and randomized trials in medical research.

Lung-Cancer-in-Women

Professor Sir Richard Peto of the University of Oxford, is one of the lead authors of the study. He worked with Doll for 30 years and says in a press statement that Doll’s work has helped
millions of people worldwide escape an early death. Peto also explains why we have had to wait until now to discover these latest revelations: “Both in the UK and the USA, women born
around 1940 were the first generation in which many smoked substantial numbers of cigarettes throughout adult life. Hence, only in the 21st century could we observe directly the full
effects of prolonged smoking, and of prolonged cessation, on premature mortality among women,” he adds, but also points out that for both men and women, “smokers who stop before
reaching middle age will on average gain about an extra ten years of life.”

c38

The Million Women Study recruited 1.3 million women in the UK aged 50 to 65 over the period 1996 to 2001. On entry to the prospective study, they completed a detailed survey of their smoking status, lifestyle, medical conditions and social factors, and then again three years later. On enrollment to the study, 20% of participants were current smokers, 28% were former smokers, and 52% had never smoked. Then for an average of 12 years after enrollment, the researchers used NHS records to find out which of the participants died and the cause of death.

When they analyzed the results, they found the women who were still smoking when surveyed 3 years after enrollment, were nearly three times more likely to die over the ensuing 9
years than non-smokers. The results also showed that risk of dying rose steeply with the number of cigarettes smoked, and even “light” smokers (who had between 1 and 9 cigarettes
per day) had double the risk of dying in the following 9 years as nonsmokers.

600-00824013

Source: Copyright 2005-2012, WebMD, Inc.

Wellstyles Newsletter, by Rebecca McGonigle, Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT)

18 foods that fight common ailments

18 foods that fight common ailments
Try healthy eats that help fight diabetes, heart disease, migraines and more.
Tue, Aug 09 2011 at 12:00 PM
leafy greens

POWER PLANTS: Vitamin-rich greens like bok choy can help prevent illness. (Photo: Philippe Put/Flickr)

Woman's Day logo
Did you know that falling asleep easier, preventing PMS and easing the aches and pains of arthritis could be as easy as stocking your kitchen with the right foods?
Take 47-year-old Sarah. When I first met her, she was 50 pounds overweight and had high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Together we created a plan that incorporated the best foods into her diet. After just three months, Sarah’s cholesterol dropped by 60 points and she had lost 30 pounds. Even better, she was able to say goodbye to her diabetes and blood pressure meds!
Another client, Eleanor, had long suffered from debilitating migraines. But within two weeks of adding 1 to 2 cups of spinach to her diet daily and eliminating trigger foods (like cheese and wine), she saw a dramatic improvement.
These are just two stories that inspired my book, “Joy Bauer’s Food Cures,” which shows how you can radically improve your health with some simple nutrition upgrades. Obviously food can’t always take the place of medication, but it can be a part of your better-health solution. Here, some of my best findings. Dig in!
What’s ailing you: Arthritis
Ginger
Why it’s good: This spicy root contains compounds that work similarly to some anti-inflammatory medications. However, ginger can also act as a blood thinner, so if you’re taking a blood-thinning medication, ask your doctor if it’s safe to eat ginger.
Eat up! Ideally you want to get a hit of ginger every single day. Steep a few slices of the root in hot water to make tea, grate it into stir-fries or add ground ginger to smoothies.
Pumpkin
Why it’s good: Research has shown that certain antioxidants may help prevent arthritis, slow its progression and relieve pain by reducing inflammation associated with this condition. And pumpkin’s bright-orange hue is a clue that it’s rich in two of these antioxidants: beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. In fact, researchers from the UK found that people whose diets were high in beta-cryptoxanthin were half as likely to develop a form of inflammatory arthritis as those who ate very foods containing it.
Eat up! Try to eat one can of 100 percent pure pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling!) every week. I make a “pudding” by stirring a dollop of pumpkin purée into vanilla yogurt along with a dash of cinnamon. You can also add a scoop of the puree to ground turkey meat sauce, taco filling or chili (the puree doesn’t altar the taste).
Red bell pepper
Why it’s good: Red bell peppers contain an impressive amount of inflammation-fighting carotenoids, but they also have more than 250 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C. Research suggest that people who eat a diet low in vitamin C may be at greater risk for developing certain kinds of arthritis.
Eat up! Aim to have three red bell peppers a week. Mix pepper with cucumber, chickpeas and feta for a quick and easy lunch.
What’s ailing you: Type 2 diabetes
Beans
Why they’re good: Whether they’re kidney, pinto or navy, beans provide a winning combination of high-quality carbohydrates, protein and fiber that helps stabilize your body’s blood sugar levels and keeps hunger in check. (People with type 2 diabetes have trouble keeping their blood sugar levels stable because their bodies can’t produce or properly use insulin, which helps move glucose from your bloodstream into your cells.)
Eat up! Have beans as often as you can. Protein-rich beans and lentils are a smarter side dish than carb-filled pasta, rice or potatoes. Turn chickpeas (garbanzo beans) into a crunchy snack. Pat cooked beans dry, sprinkle with paprika, cumin or other spices, and roast in a 400°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned and crunchy.
Egg whites
Why they’re good: Egg whites are the perfect base for a diabetes-friendly meal because they’re low-calorie (17 calories apiece) and rich in high-quality protein, so they can help keep your weight and blood sugar level on an even keel. And they’re cholesterol-free, since all the cholesterol is in the yolk.
Eat up! Aim to have at least three or four egg-based meals a week. An omelet with 4 egg whites (or 1 whole egg plus 2 or 3 egg whites), plenty of vegetables and some reduced-fat cheese for breakfast will set you up for a day of even-keeled blood sugar.
Nuts
Why they’re good: Nuts — all types, including peanuts, walnuts, pistachios, pecans and cashews — are primarily composed of heart-healthy fats and protein, two ingredients that keep blood sugar stable by slowing down the rate at which your body absorbs carbohydrates. Nuts also contain monounsaturated fat and, in some cases, omega-3s, both of which improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Since having type 2 diabetes also puts you at a higher risk for heart disease, nuts are a win-win.
Eat up! Snack on an ounce (one small handful) of your favorite nut daily — they all contain healthy fats.
What’s ailing you: Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Cheese
Why it’s good: Studies have found that women with PMS have lower levels of calcium around ovulation than women who don’t experience PMS symptoms, so amping up your intake of cheese and other dairy products is worth a shot if you’re prone to cramps and mood swings.
Eat up! Make sure you’re getting at least the recommended amount of calcium daily — experts say only 10 percent of us are getting it through diet alone! Women younger than 50 need 1,000 mg; if you’re 50 or older, 1,200 mg. Aim for three servings of calcium-rich foods like cheese and yogurt daily; women older than 50 should tack on a fourth serving. If you don’t think that’s possible, talk to your doctor about taking a calcium supplement.
Pineapple
Why it’s good: This fruit has three things going for it. First, it’s one of the best sources of manganese, and one study found that women with low manganese intakes were more likely to experience premenstrual mood swings, breast tenderness and cramping. Second, pineapple and other water-rich fruits and vegetables (think berries, citrus fruits, melon, cucumbers, bell peppers) can help banish bloat associated with your monthly cycle because their high water content helps flush out excess fluid. Lastly, deliciously sweet pineapple is a healthy way to indulge sugar cravings, which often intensify as your period approaches.
Eat up! In the seven to 10 days leading up to your period, have 1 cup of fresh pineapple daily. If it’s too expensive or underripe, see if your store carries frozen chunks or canned pineapple packed in 100 percent juice.
Almonds
Why they’re good: Almonds are an excellent source of magnesium, another mineral that may provide some PMS relief. Studies have found that magnesium — in addition to helping relieve PMS headaches — can improve mood and lessen water retention in the week or two before you get your period.
Eat up! Enjoy an ounce of almonds (about 22 nuts) a day, and enrich your diet with other magnesium-rich foods like quinoa, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, dark leafy greens, edamame and green beans.
What’s ailing you: Osteoporosis
Broccoli
Why it’s good: Broccoli gives you four bone-building nutrients in one convenient package: vitamins C and K, potassium and some calcium. Studies have found that getting enough of vitamins C and K is linked to having high bone density. Potassium (and other compounds found in produce) may reduce bone loss by acting as a buffer against metabolic acids, which some studies suggest contribute to the breakdown of bone tissue.
Eat up! Serve broccoli at least three times a week, and if you need extra incentive to dig in, sprinkle your florets with a bit of grated cheese (which adds more calcium!).
Skim milk
Why it’s good: Skim milk is an obvious choice for strong bones, since 1 cup contains 300 mg of calcium — about a third of the daily recommended amount.
Eat up! Work it into your daily diet by making oatmeal with a cup of skim milk instead of water, including 1 cup in a fruit smoothie, or having a mug of low-fat cocoa made with 1 cup of nonfat milk. Feel free to substitute soy or almond milk (as long as the carton says it’s fortified with calcium).
Yogurt
Why it’s good: If you don’t get enough calcium in your diet your body will start “borrowing” what it needs from the calcium stored in your bones. What’s great about yogurt is that it’s a good source of calcium and protein — and both are necessary for bone strength. Studies show that people who don’t get enough protein have lower bone density.
Eat up! Opt for Greek varieties over traditional yogurt to get twice as much protein (and go for non-fat).
What’s ailing you: Heart disease
Oatmeal
Why it’s good: It’s rich in soluble fiber, which latches on to cholesterol compounds and helps carry them out of your body. Research shows that people who eat an average of 2.5 servings of whole grains (like oats) daily have a 21 percent lower risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke than people who hardly eat any.
Eat up! Enjoy oatmeal at least three times a week, and spruce it up with berries, nuts, dried apricots, even peanut butter.
Sweet potato
Why it’s good: Sweet potatoes deliver more heart-healthy fiber than their white cousins, along with a hefty dose of potassium, a mineral that helps offset sodium’s negative effect on blood pressure.
Eat up! Try to eat at least two of these spuds a week. I like to mash them with a drop of skim milk, a pat of whipped butter and a bit of cinnamon.
Wild salmon
Why it’s good: Wild salmon is one of the most concentrated sources of omega-3 fats, which can help lower triglycerides, raise levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and help reduce inflammation in the body — a factor that’s been linked to an increased risk of diabetes as well as heart disease. What’s more, numerous studies have found that people whose diets are high in omega-3s have a substantially lower risk of coronary heart disease, as well as sudden death from arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat).
Eat up! Aim to eat salmon at least twice a week. Although wild and farmed salmon contain similar levels of omega-3s, wild is lower in contaminants and has as much as four times the amount of vitamin D. But wild salmon is more expensive and not as widely available as farmed. If you can’t make room for it in your budget, you’re better off eating farmed salmon than going without it completely.
What’s ailing you: Migraine headaches
Quinoa
Why it’s good: Magnesium deficiency has been linked to migraines, and 1 cup of whole grain quinoa, a protein-rich seed, provides 30 percent of the daily recommended amount of magnesium. Getting enough of this mineral seems to be particularly helpful in preventing menstrual migraines.
Eat up! Have a helping at least three times a week in place of rice, pasta or other starches. Turn quinoa into a pilaf with chopped carrots, enjoy it as a hot cereal (like oatmeal), or use it as a base for a stir-fry or chili.
Ground flaxseed
Why it’s good: Studies have shown that omega-3s — found in high amounts in flaxseeds — can help reduce the frequency, duration and severity of headaches, probably by reducing inflammation.
Eat up! Add a tablespoon a day to yogurt, oatmeal, cereal or smoothies. You can also mix ground flaxseed into meatballs or combine with whole-wheat bread crumbs for a crispy coating for baked chicken tenders.
Spinach
Why it’s good: Spinach contains a good amount of magnesium as well as riboflavin, a B vitamin that may help reduce headache frequency and severity.
Eat up! Squeeze in at least three servings of spinach a week, and try to get more of other riboflavin-rich foods like lean beef, whole-grain cereals, mushrooms and asparagus. Also, speak to your doctor about whether riboflavin supplements might help.

Appendix Turns Out to Be Useful After All…

Appendix Evolved Over 30 Times, May Perform Useful Function, Researchers Say

  |  Posted: 02/14/2013 10:33 am EST  |  Updated: 02/15/2013 4:24 pm EST

Appendix Evolved

By Colin Barras

The appendix may not be useless after all. The worm-shaped structure found near the junction of the small and large intestines evolved 32 times among mammals, according to a new study. The finding adds weight to the idea that the appendix helps protect our beneficial gut bacteria when a serious infection strikes.

Charles Darwin was one of the first scientists to theorize on the function of the appendix, which in his day had been identified only in humans and other great apes. He hypothesized that the distant ancestors of these animals survived on a diet of leaves, and so they required a large cecum, a portion of the gut that houses bacteria that can break down stubborn plant tissue. Later, he speculated, these ancestors shifted to a largely fruit-based diet that was easier to digest. A large cecum was no longer necessary, and it began to shrink; today our cecum is tiny. Darwin thought the appendix, which juts off of the cecum, is one of its former folds that shriveled up as the cecum shrank. Consequently, he thought it carried no function.

But some scientists have challenged the idea that the appendix serves no purpose. It’s been clear for about a century that the structure contains a particular type of tissue belonging to the lymphatic system. This system carries the white blood cells that help fight infections. Within the last decade, research has shown that this lymphatic tissue encourages the growth of some kinds of beneficial gut bacteria. What’s more, careful anatomical study of other mammals has revealed that species as diverse as beavers, koalas, and porcupines also have a structure jutting off of their guts in exactly the same place as our appendix—in other words, the feature is much more common among mammals than once thought.
appendix evolved
The appendix is traditionally seen as a portion of the gut that withered when apes began eating fruit.

Now, an international team of researchers that includes Heather F. Smith, an evolutionary biologist at Midwestern University in Glendale, Arizona, and William Parker, a surgeon who studies the immune system at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, says it has the strongest evidence yet that the appendix serves a purpose. In a new study, published online this month in Comptes Rendus Palevol, the researchers compiled information on the diets of 361 living mammals, including 50 species now considered to have an appendix, and plotted the data on a mammalian evolutionary tree. They found that the 50 species are scattered so widely across the tree that the structure must have evolved independently at least 32 times, and perhaps as many as 38 times.

By plotting the dietary information onto the evolutionary tree, the researchers could work out whether the appendix appears when a particular group of mammals changes its diet. In most cases, there was no sign of a dietary shift, suggesting appendix evolution doesn’t necessarily proceed as Darwin thought. He may have correctly identified the origin of the ape appendix, though, which the analysis confirms did appear when our ancestors switched diets.

Randolph Nesse, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, is impressed by the new study. “I salute the authors for creating an extraordinary database,” he says. “The conclusion that the appendix has appeared 32 times is amazing. I do find their argument for the positive correlation of appendix and cecum sizes to be a convincing refutation of Darwin’s hypothesis.”

“I agree with the general assertion that the appendix evolved numerous times in mammals, but I think the exact count is still up for debate,” adds Olaf Bininda-Emonds, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oldenburg in Germany. There is some uncertainty over whether all 50 species considered to have an appendix really do possess one. When just the clear-cut cases are included, the appendix evolved 18 times, he says.

Even that figure suggests the appendix performs a useful function, and the hunt is now on to identify what that function is. The research team may already have the answer. In 2007, Parker and his colleagues suggested that the appendix has an immunological role, acting as a “safe house” for beneficial gut bacteria. These bacteria help train the immune system and can prevent diseases by outcompeting dangerous pathogenic bacteria—but there are times when the dangerous microbes gain the upper hand and overrun the gut. The researchers reasoned that when this happens, the beneficial bacteria could retreat to the safety of the appendix, which remains unaffected. Once the immune system has beaten the infection, the beneficial bacteria emerge from the appendix to quickly recolonize the gut.

The “safe house” idea makes sense, says Indi Trehan, a pediatrician at the Institute for Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis who recently studied the importance of maintaining gut bacteria when treating people with malnutrition. “The appendix has a unique anatomical location that is out of the way,” he says. “Bacteria can be kept safe there for repopulation as needed.”

The safe house hypothesis is reasonable, Nesse agrees, but he points out that just 50 of the 361 mammalian species included in the analysis have an appendix. “One wonders why such a trait with such a function would not be universal,” he says. That suggests it is possible we still haven’t completely cracked the mystery of the appendix, he says.

ScienceNOW, the daily online news service of the journal Science

Editor Disclaimer – Whether you believe God created the species or you believe in the Theory of Evolution, either way, the Appendix seems to have use in several species.  This repost is an endorsement of that fact, not whether it evolved 32 times, or was created.coli

VSEBT Offers WellCard Program!

VSEBT Offers WellCard Program!

The Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) has teamed up with the Arizona Association of School Business Officials (AASBO) to offer school district employees the opportunity to participate in the WellCard Program.  This is an outstanding opportunity for school district teachers and other staff to enjoy additional discounts in their medical, dental and pharmacy programs.  If you are interested, please contact Sheri Gilbert, Director of Marketing and Business Development at VSEBT at 623-594-4370.  Below is a Power Point presentation describing this exciting new opportunity.  Farther down is an implementation explanation.

Implementation Guidelines

Benefits Concepts will work directly with Valley Schools Trust as your partner to answer any final questions prior to the decision being made to activate the ASBO WellCard Health program.  This usually entails a webinar teleconference with Valley Schools Trust and the School District set up by Account Manager.  Once the decision to activate the program has been made, Benefit Concepts will work directly with Account Manager.  Discussions will center around the Agreement which needs to be signed, will the WellCard Health website be linked to the District website(s).  All materials including the cards, worksite posters, card stands and links to the website are at NO COST to the District.  We like to start the first District implementations with the Districts of the Board Members.  The Board Member can direct the Account Manager to the person at the District level who would oversee this type of program.  The Account Manager will use the excel spreadsheet provided or one similar capturing all of the same pertinent information for each School District.  The Account Manager will submit to Benefits Concepts all of the information gathered including the excel spreadsheet so that Benefits Concepts can complete the submission order form and remit same to the PBM to begin the printing of materials and assignment of unique Group ID #’s.

logo vsmg

Distribution of the WellCards

Educational materials can be customized with the School Districts logo as well as a unique identifier called a Group ID.  This Group ID will be printed on each hard copy card and be reflected on the printable card from the WellCard Health website should the link to the WellCard Health website be requested.  I have attached a sample of a suggested implementation plan which was developed by Jeri Ward of Pendergast Elementary School District who works with Brian Mee ASBO President.  This implementation plan provides the necessary information for ordering cards, card stands, worksite posters and where the materials are to be placed.  Continuing support and education of the WellCard Health program will determine the program’s success.  There are several prime times to distribute the card and the informational pieces.  One is when the parents are registering their child(ren) for the upcoming year.  Another is during the annual open enrollment season or health fairs.  This could be part of the enrollment packet.  Also, there are several prime locations to post the worksite posters along with card stands.  These include but are not limited to, School Nurses offices, District offices, Central Registration, Warehouse offices, Maintenance offices, Food Services, Transportation, Learning Centers, etc.  Some Districts have a public learning center open to everyone which is also ideal.   The Account Manager and their staff will assist with the regular updating of these materials.   One final thought.  Education and more education along with continued support of the program is the key to its success.  Benefits Concepts will work with each of you to help the ASBO WellCard Health program be a meaningful and successful program to benefit the people in your States.

Benefits Concepts LLC is a privately held company domiciled in Tucson, Arizona.  Greg Reece and Mike Kalsched are the principal owners with over 30 years’ experience each working with School Districts providing guidance.  You can contact them at:

mike@benecepts.com  or 480-361-4933

greg@benecepts.com  or 520-237-6758

Additional information needed.

  1. District name and logo in either pdf, jpeg or tif format and how they will appear on the card.
  2. IT contact information; name, phone and email address.
  3. Shipping address where cards, posters and stands will be sent and to whom.
  4. URL address for website link.

First artificial retina approved in U.S.

First artificial retina approved in U.S.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved first artificial retina. The device is meant to aid people with a disorder called advanced retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disease that slowly damages cells on the retina that give the eye sensitivity to light. Over time, this reduces the eye’s ability to distinguish light from dark, and eventually leads to blindness.

The newly approved artificial retina, dubbed the Argus II system, involves a surgically implanted retina and a pair of eyeglasses with a small video camera and video processor. Images from the video camera are transmitted to the brain through 55 electrodes on the implanted retina, which then translates the images into something the patient can see.

The Argus II system was approved in Europe in 2011 and costs about $100,000. The device’s manufacturer hopes to have the artificial retina covered by Medicare and available in the U.S. later this year.