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Nutritionist Belief Systems

What Is a Nutritionist?

In most countries, including the United States, the title “nutritionist” is not as regulated as “dietitian” is. In fact, in the U.S. almost anyone can call him- or herself a nutritionist, since the title is not legally protected nor the profession legally controlled. Being a nutritionist therefore has a broader, more general meaning than being a dietitian because it doesn’t require formal training or a specific licensure process to be completed.

Nutritionists can have a wide range of backgrounds, experience and training. Some consider themselves “health coaches,” nutritional therapists, certified nutrition specialist (a protected title that is explained more below) or other similar titles. Others are even doctors of functional medicine or naturopaths. These titles all differ from one another but require completion of nutrition training modules in addition to passing exams. Some may also involve completion of an internship, an existing four-year degree in a related health care field or even a graduate-level degree.

Most nutritionists are educated in one or more (typically many) of the following diet-related subjects:

  • Functional medicine.
  • Nutrient-dense diets, avoiding processed foods and reducing intake of empty calories.
  • Various dietary theories, such as ancestral/traditional diets, the Paleo diet, vegetarian or vegan diets, low-carb diets, alkaline diets, etc.
  • Disease prevention, including managing diabetes and preventing heart disease or obesity.
  • Stress management, the importance of sleep and circadian rhythms, and appropriate exercise.
  • Coaching techniques, including active listening, and others used to help clients with habit formation and behavioral change.
  • Supplements, herbal medicine and aromatherapy/essential oils.
  • The link between diet and immunity, digestive and gut health, and neurological/mental health.
  • Agriculture and farming practices.
  • Food politics and food marketing/advertising.
  • Specific traditional diets or medicinal practices, such as Ayurveda or Traditional Chinese Medicine.
  • Healthy shopping, meal planning and cooking.
  • In some cases alternative/complimentary treatments like acupuncture, massage, homeopathy, etc.
  • And many other diet-related topics.

Some nutritionists are trained to work with specific populations or in particular setting. For example, types of nutritionists include:

  • Public Health Nutritionists
  • Pediatric Nutritionists
  • Geriatric Nutritionists
  • Sports Nutritionists
  • Clinical Nutritionists
  • Maternal and Family Health Nutritionists

Nutritionist vs. Dietitian

“Dietitian” is a protected title in many countries, just like other health care titles, such as physician, nurse, chiropractor or pharmacist. This means that someone has to meet certain qualifications in order to be referred to as a dietitian, which is not necessarily the case when it comes to being a nutritionist. (2)

Because being a nutritionist doesn’t require proof of qualifications, a nutritionist’s expertise is not always guaranteed. While it is usually more accessible and less time-consuming to practice as a nutritionist, this doesn’t mean nutritionists are devoid of any training or expertise.

Many nutritionists DO in fact have training in the fields of nutrition, diet, holistic health, supplements, alternative care and healthy living. They might not be qualified to work in a hospital, make diagnoses or treat their patients’ diseases, but their knowledge and coaching can be very helpful when it comes to making behavioral changes and transitioning to a healthier way of living.

What are some of the reasons someone might want to work with a nutritionist over a registered dietitian?

One of the greatest benefits of working with a nutritionist is the approach to promoting better health goes beyond just a focus on “good” versus “bad” foods or calories. There’s a much better chance that a nutritionist’s training was not highly influenced by authorities such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion in the United States, both of which promote eating plans like “MyPlate” that are somewhat controversial.

Dietitians have historically been taught to focus on helping clients to manage their “calories in versus calories out,” which means they often tend to promote low-fat, low-sodium, low-sugar and overall low-calorie foods. This isn’t always a bad thing, but it can be when higher-calorie traditional foods are discouraged (such as coconut oil, raw dairy products, grass-fed butter or grass fed beef) despite the fact they are actually healthy.

Additionally, a growing number of health care professionals now believe that dietetics is only one part of a healthy lifestyle. Registered dietitians tend to have a lot of knowledge about food groups, different nutrients and diet plans used to to help manage diseases, but they don’t usually focus on other aspects of healthy living as much nutritionists do — for example, factors like stress, getting enough sleep, physical movement, spirituality, relationships that contribute to happiness and mental health.

To sum it up, nutritionists typically take a “big picture view” of health. They recognize that high-quality ingredients are very important, diets that includes a wide variety of foods are usually best, a lot can be learned from mimicking traditional diets, and other aspects of life are also highly influential when it comes to our well-being, especially movement and stress.

Nutritionist Training and Education

How to Become a Nutritionist:

As mentioned above, nutritionists vary considerably in terms of their exact area of expertise, as well their training. Believe it or not certain nutritionists even have graduate degrees or Ph.Ds in related fields but choose not to become registered dietitians for any number of reasons, such as not agreeing with dietitians’ belief systems or due to the time and financial investment required to become an RD. Depending on the training a nutritionist receives, he or she may have had to pass certification boards or completed an internship-type program.

Qualifications vary from school to school since requirements are not tightly regulated. Therefore the first step in becoming a nutritionist is to determine how much time, money and effort you’re willing to invest into a nutritionist training program. If you plan on being a practicing nutritionist full time, it pays to invest in a quality program. If you hope to practice nutrition coaching/counseling part time or in addition to other treatment approaches you already offer clients (such as personal training, physical therapy, acupuncture, yoga, etc.), then you may want to earn your title more quickly and with less investment.

Sports Nutritionists:

Depending on their degrees, sports nutritionists may also be called sports dietitians. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a sports dietitian “provides individual and group/team nutrition counseling and education to enhance the performance of competitive and recreational athletes, on-site and during travel.” Most work as part of a multidisciplinary sports medical team, and when they are registered dietitians may be employed by professional teams, universities or health care facilities. (5) The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) is considered the world leader and only nonprofit academic society that is “dedicated to promoting the science and application of evidence-based sports nutrition and supplementation.” (6)

In order to be sports dietician, someone must complete a bachelor’s degree in clinical nutrition, food and nutrition, or related area from a U.S. regionally accredited college or university, earn a master’s degree in nutrition or exercise physiology preferred, complete a didactic program in dietetics, and usually have minimum of two years experience in nutrition counseling. Another type of degree, called a Sports Nutrition Specialist (SNS), is also offered by the ISSN to those who don’t have a four-year degree in a related field. Some of the responsibilities that a sports nutritionist/sports dietitian has include:

  • Tailoring diet plans for athletes based on their body composition, energy balance (intake and expenditure), level of training and goals.
  • Optimizing nutrient intake based on different training phases and goals — for example, before or after competitions in order to fuel activity and boost recovery.
  • Helping athletes with weight management, muscle gains and other body composition changes.
  • Training athletes to stay properly hydrated and preventing dehydration or electrolyte imbalance.
  • Improving athlete’s energy levels, immunity, stress response and sleep.
  • Working with athletes who are dealing with disordered eating.
  • Helping athletic teams continue to eat well during times of travel.
  • Offering advice regarding supplementation based on rules and regulations of athletic governing bodies.
  • Providing meal and snack plans that are personalized based on food allergies, gastrointestinal disturbances, deficiencies and preferences.

Keratin Treatment Bad for Your Hair

What Is Keratin?

For humans, keratin is defined as the fibrous structural protein of hair, nails and epithelial cells found in the outermost layers of the skin. For animals, the keratin definition is the same, but animals can also have more keratin-rich parts like their hoofs, horns, wool and feathers. Put more simply, keratin is an essential building block of our hair, nails and skin. Some types of keratin also regulate vital cellular activities like protein production and cell growth.

There are two types of keratin proteins: alpha-keratins and beta-keratins. The keratin found in our skin and hair is alpha-keratin. The identifying trait of keratin is the presence of large amounts of cysteine, a sulfur-containing amino acid. Human hair is about 14 percent cysteine. There is one other type of organic material known to match the the toughness of keratinized tissue, which is chitin. Chitin makes up the exoskeletons of lobsters, shrimp and insects, among other things. When it comes to our hair, keratin is one strong and essential building block of our locks no matter how long or how short.

Is Keratin Treatment Bad for Your Hair?

Brazilian hair straightening is a semi-permanent hair straightening method accomplished by temporarily sealing a liquid keratin complex and a preservative solution into hair strands with a hair iron. This version of hair straightening is typically done in a salon with the whole process taking 90 minutes or longer, depending on hair length. The effects usually last about three months. It’s important to note that if you have fine, straight hair, you shouldn’t even consider a keratin treatment. Most people who are “ideal candidates” for keratin smoothing treatment have frizzy and/or curly and thicker textured hair.

The main complaint and health concern with Brazilian keratin treatments is that so many (if not all) contain formaldehyde and/or formaldehyde-producing ingredients. The International Agency for Research on Cancer as well as the National Toxicology Program classify formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen. According to an interview with Environmental Working Group Vice President for Research Jane Houlihan, the potential dangers of hair straighteners are very valid and widespread: (2)

We surveyed 41 top salons and found that almost all of them are using hair straightening treatments. We look across the industry, and the fact is if you’re using a Brazilian-style keratin treatment, it’s almost certainly releasing formaldehydOur bodies naturally make small amounts of formaldehyde, but it’s the formaldehyde we breathe in that can be dangerous. It’s found in tobacco smoke, in the air around unvented, fuel-burning appliances, like gas or wood-burning stoves and in the air at a salon during a keratin treatment — and it’s one of the reasons that Brazilian hair smoothing treatments are so dangerous, not only for your health, but that of your stylist’s. (3)

The International Agency for Research on Cancer tells pregnant women or those who are trying to become pregnant are advised not to get keratin treatments during pregnancy as, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, formaldehyde exposure can cause fertility and reproductive problems as well as miscarriage. (7)

Repeated exposure to formaldehyde means that salon workers are the likeliest to be affected long-term by Brazilian hair straightening treatments, as they are performing the treatments regularly. But just because you get the treatment done a few times a year doesn’t mean you’re safe. That’s because …

You’ll likely feel the effects of formaldehyde immediately — and months to come. Watery, burning eyes. An itchy throat. Nosebleeds. These are all symptoms of formaldehyde exposure, and they can occur as soon as you breathe in the nasties. If you have asthma, bronchitis or another breathing condition, you are more sensitive to exposure, because formaldehyde irritates your airways, making it harder to breathe. If you have a chronic disease, you might also be more susceptible to the side effects. (8)

The fun doesn’t stop when you’re out of the salon, either. Each time you use a heat styling tool at home, like a flat iron or blow dryer, while you have keratin in your hair, you actually reactivate the chemicals, creating the toxic fumes at home. Though you may eventually become desensitized to the effects, they’re still wreaking havoc on your health. You may find yourself developing allergies as your body attempts to fight back.

Your Brazilian hair straightening probably contains more formaldehyde than is legally acceptable. In the U.S., the maximum safe concentration of formaldehyde in beauty products is anything under 0.2 percent.

One study, however, looked at 10 different treatments and found that seven of them had formaldehyde levels higher than the safe amount; the average concentration was 1.46 percent, well over 0.2 percent. (9) That means both salon workers and clients are repeatedly being exposed to unsafe levels of formaldehyde.

Even if you aren’t getting a Brazilian hair smoothing treatment, if your salon does them regularly, you’re being exposed to the fumes. A report by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that formaldehyde levels in the air at salons that did keratin treatments, even those labeled formaldehyde-free, were higher than what is deemed safe. (10)

And another study found that during the Brazilian hair smoothing process, formaldehyde levels reached unsafe concentrations for salon workers and clients; the brand Brazilian Blowout was the worst offender. (11) And even treatments touted as “formaldehyde-free” degraded into formaldehyde, but that’s no surprise since …

6 Best Natural Treatments for Your Hair

There are so many awesome natural ways to improve your hair from what you eat to what hair products you use on a daily basis. I’m not pretending that these treatments equate to a salon keratin treatment, but they definitely improve your hair without all the dangerous side effects.

1. Natural Hair Products with Keratin

Brazilian keratin treatment isn’t the only way you can topically apply keratin to your hair. You can give your hair an awesome boost of protein by purchasing natural shampoos, conditioners and hair treatments that contain keratin. By using these keratin-rich products regularly, you can get the smoothing, reparative and even straightening benefits of keratin minus the questionable ingredients that are in the majority of salon hair straightening treatments.

2. Homemade Hair Masks

Looking to do your own keratin treatment at home but don’t want any health-hazardous ingredients? There are a lot of awesome recipes out there for nourishing hair masks that can help tame unruly hair. They may not last as long, but they should leave your locks looking silkier and shinier than before.

Some great recipe ideas:

  • Natural Keratin Hair Mask — includes argan or jojoba oil, avocado, coconut oil and liquid biotin
  • DIY Gelatin Protein Treatment for Damaged Hair — features gelatin, an awesome protein for hair and skin health

The list could go on and on. If you’re feeling creative, try different combinations of moisture sources like olive oil, honey or avocado with protein sources like eggs, gelatin or whole milk yogurt. These are ingredients that are affordable and you likely have on hand in your kitchen. You may just find the perfect mask for your hair by testing out different homemade recipes. Once you do, you can use it regularly to keep your hair smooth, vibrant and growing strong..

If you have dandruff or dry scalp, do an overnight treatment twice per week until dandruff is gone. Continue on with weekly treatments or as needed.e.

3. Use Coconut Oil

Hair can easily become damaged from styling and overheating — thankfully, we have coconut oil for hair protection. Coconut oil can prevent hair breakage and improve hair condition. (8) In addition to helping with breakage, coconut oil is an awesome natural remedy for frizzy hair. Start with a tiny amount (1/4 teaspoon to a teaspoon) depending on your hair, warming it in your palms. Smooth from root to tips, and blow dry and style as desired. It takes just a bit longer to dry your hair, but it will be soft, shiny and manageable.

Coconut oil make Health

What’s in coconut oil?
Coconut oil is extracted from the meat of the fruit. It contains mostly saturated fat, which is also found in large quantities in butter and red meat. Like other saturated fats, coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol associated with increased risk of heart disease. In fact, coconut oil has more saturated fat and raises LDL more than butter, according to Willett.
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But coconut oil does a particularly nice job of raising HDL, the “good” cholesterol, especially when replacing carbohydrates in the diet. This may be due to its high content of a fatty acid known as lauric acid.
“Coconut oil is half lauric acid, which is a little bit unique,” Klatt said, as the acid seems to raise HDL more than other saturated fats and is rarely found in such high amounts in foods.
Still, though the increase in HDL seen with consumption of coconut oil may offset some of the disease risk, it’s still not as good as consuming unsaturated oils, which not only raise HDL but lower LDL, according to Willett.
Complicating matters is the fact that we still don’t know for sure what exactly a high HDL translates to in terms of health risk. “There’s been debate about the role of HDL,” Willett cautioned. “Partly because there are many forms of HDL which have different health consequences … which has made the water murky.”
For example, there are different forms of HDL that do different things. One role is to help take LDL cholesterol out of the bloodstream. “But some forms of HDL don’t do that,” Willett said, “so we don’t know for sure that higher HDL is better.”
And while it’s true that an elevated LDL level is only a risk factor for heart disease and doesn’t always translate to heart attacks, it’s still cause for concern. “High LDL is a risk factor, but it strongly predicts negative health events,” Willett said.
There is extremely preliminary evidence that the increase in LDL may not be as pronounced if one consumes extra virgin coconut oil instead of refined coconut oil, according to Klatt. For example, polyphenols present in unrefined oils may help to blunt the effects on LDL. But “the effects of extra virgin compared to refined coconut oil and other common oils require further study,” he cautioned.


Like other oils, coconut oil is calorie-dense, which means consuming large amounts without reducing other calorie sources can lead to weight gain. Just one tablespoon has 120 calories, about the same as a large apple or four cups of air-popped popcor
“Oil is a really easy way to increase the energy density of a food. Things like almonds have a lot of fat, but it’s easier to overeat pure oil than overeat pure almonds,” Klatt said.
In small amounts, however, coconut oil can have a place in one’s diet.
“It’s not that you have to absolutely avoid coconut oil but rather limit coconut oil to where you really need that special flavor, like for Thai food or for baking a special dessert,” Willett said.
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“If you love using butter and need a hard fat, coconut oil may be a better choice and is certainly fine to consume occasionally, when a recipe calls for it,” Klatt added.
But for day-to-day use, vegetable oils such as olive, canola or soybean oil, along with nuts and seeds, should be your primary fats. “These have better effects on blood cholesterol and long-term studies showing reduced risk of heart disease,” Willett said.

Bigger meals

Small frequent meals vs. fewer big meals

 Weight loss can be tied to when, not just what, you eat
Many studies suggest that eating more frequently may offer benefits by decreasing hunger and food intake at subsequent meals. One study involving close to 2,700 women and men found that those who ate at least six times per day ate fewer calories, consumed healthier foods and had a lower body mass index than those who ate fewer than four times over a 24-hour period. Research has also shown that increased meal frequency has positive effects on cholesterol and insulin levels.
But while eating small frequent meals can discourage large swings in blood sugar, decrease hunger and prevent impulsive snacking throughout the day, other studies suggest that eating more often may not be optimal.
And despite the notion that eating more often means more opportunities to burn calories, thanks to the energy involved in digesting, absorbing and metabolizing food’s nutrients, research suggests that doing so does not appear to significantly enhance metabolism or total calories burned.
“In the ’80s, grazing was thought to be an optimal way of losing weight … but human studies did not support this at all,” said David Levitsky, a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University who has researched the topic of meal frequency and its effects on calorie intake. “It was thought that if you ate more frequently, the amount of calories you retain would go down, and more calories would be burned. But controlled experiments in humans show that there is no metabolic advantage to eating 12 smaller meals versus eating three or four meals per day, with the same total number of calories.”
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Other experts agree. “Meal frequency does not affect metabolic rate and thus has no direct effect on weight loss,” said Carla Wolper, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant at the ColumbiaDoctors Executive Health assessment program who spent 25 years on the nutrition faculty at the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center.
In fact, some research suggests that eating even fewer than three meals may be best in terms of controlling calories: In one study, when individuals skipped breakfast, they consumed about 400 fewer calories for the entire day compared to when they ate breakfast.
“If you decrease the number of occasions to eat, your total calorie intake goes down,” said Levitsky, who authored the study. “People think if you skip breakfast, you will overeat later … and that doesn’t happen. Your intake goes up, but not nearly as much as the amount that you skipped.”

The case for small, frequent meals

While some may enjoy sitting down to three meals each day, others may find that it’s just too much food at once.
“Some people don’t have huge appetites. … If they have a 600-calorie sandwich, they may have half at noon and eat the other half at 3 p.m.,” McKittrick said. “Eating large meals may also make them tired … so they’re better off with small frequent feedings because it promotes more stable blood sugar and they get more energized.”
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One’s daily routine may not allow for the opportunity to take a big lunch break — and so a grazing style of eating is a better fit.
For a new mom, eating three meals a day can be particularly challenging. “Lots of mothers spend so much time with their kids that they can’t sit down and have a full lunch … so eating more frequently better suits their lifestyle,” McKittrick said.
Health issues may also dictate which style of eating is best. For example, people who have diabetes or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can feel shaky, tired and weak if they go too long without eating, so six small meals may be best. Those who have other health conditions including gastroparesis, irritable bowel syndrome and acid reflux may feel better by eating small meals spaced three or four hours apart. The same may be true for seniors.
“A lot of seniors can only have a piece of toast and an egg, and then they get full. As you get older, you just don’t have as much of an appetite, and you feel full more quickly,” McKittrick said.

The case for three bigger meals

Experts say that eating more frequently may be problematic for those who have trouble with portion control or something known as stimulus-bound eating, when the sight of a specific food prompts you to eat it, which can lead to weight gain.
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“The bulk of the evidence suggests that humans are opportunistic eaters … and if we are given more chances to eat, the more we will eat,” Levitsky said. “If people did nothing other than eliminate snacks, their total calorie intake will go down.”
A 500-calorie smoothie, for example, will defeat the strategy’s purpose. “If you want to eat small frequent meals, take a look at your calories and really divide them up. If you’re on 1,500-calorie diet, are you really having five 300-calorie mini-meals?” McKittrick asked.
An “all or nothing person” may be better off with three meals per day if a small snack quickly turns into a bigger one, as in the case of nuts. “Nuts are super healthy, but some people can’t stop once they start eating nuts, and that can be a problem,” McKittrick said.
The environment plays a role, too. If your office has a kitchen full of free snacks, it’s a lot easier to go in and grab something like chips or cookies instead of planning your own healthy meals and bringing them in. Working from home, with constant access to the kitchen, can present similar challenges.
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And then there are others who just don’t want to be bothered with making eating an all-day affair. “Some just want to eat and get it done with, so they don’t do well with small snacks. … They’re really busy, and they just don’t have the time to deal with it, and so those people may be better off with three meals per day.”
The bottom line is that either style of eating can offer health and weight-loss benefits. But what matters most is what will work for you.

Helped her fight breast cancer

When a visit to the doctor revealed a surprising breast cancer diagnosis.

“I was only 36 years old, and I was single,” she said. “I just couldn’t process anything he was saying.”
She worked full-time as a special-education teacher in New Jersey, but her most important job was raising her 8-year-old son, Michael.
McLaughlin dreaded the thought of telling people she had cancer.
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“I remember I was laying on my stomach saying to myself, ‘You’re never going to have to tell anyone, because you’re going to die tonight,’ ” she said of the night she got the news.
For someone who was always in control of her life, the diagnosis felt like a fatal blow for McLaughlin. She went through the motions of treatment and had a lumpectomy in her left breast, followed by radiation.
“I hated radiation. It felt like I was in a ‘Star Wars’ movie. You’re in this machine, and then there’s a sound that makes you think you’re going to be disintegrated,” McLaughlin said.

Battling cancer, striving for normalcy

To most people, McLaughlin’s life appeared normal. She continued working full-time and caring for Michael, who was in third grade, as if nothing had changed. The principal at her school set up a room with a cot so she could take naps during her off periods. She did it out of necessity but also because she didn’t want Michael to be affected by her diagnosis.
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“He didn’t understand that I could die,” she said. “That never entered his mind, because I didn’t look like I was sick; I didn’t act like I was sick; I didn’t sit around and cry. I kept doing the things that I was always doing.”
After a few months, McLaughlin was cancer-free. She returned to her normal routine, replacing weekly chemo and radiation treatments with a mammogram every six months.
But on the same date in April three years later, McLaughlin’s doctors found cancer cells in her left breast again. A mastectomy was her only option this time. She had immediate breast reconstruction and repeated the rigorous treatment schedule.
Again, she shielded Michael from as much as possible. He was in sixth grade, seemingly unaware; school-wide prayer calls were the extent of his exposure. “He’d come home from school and say, ‘Oh, Mommy! Sister Laura got on the PA system today and had the whole school say a prayer for you!’ ” McLaughlin recalled.
Unlike with her first diagnosis, McLaughlin knew what to expect. The countless biopsies that followed were the greatest challenge. Her doctors were extra cautious, taking tissue samples at the first sign of a lump or mass in her remaining right breast.
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“I told my doctor, ‘My breast looks like a scenic railroad! Every which way, scars, scars, scars.’ And he said to me, ‘You can have 10 benign biopsies, but the 11th could be the cancer that kills you.’ “

Another diagnosis

Seven years later, McLaughlin felt a lump in her right breast. The mammogram didn’t reveal any inconsistencies. Her new doctor suggested that she wait a couple of months, but she insisted on getting a biopsy.
She remembered lying on the operating table as her doctor read the results. “Usually, I’d be told it looks clean. This time, I saw his face, and he didn’t tell me anything. I knew at that moment I had cancer again.”
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It was her third diagnosis in a 10-year period.
Michael was a senior in high school, old enough to understand her condition for the first time. “I was honest with him about having cancer, but I’d never say ‘I’m going to die.’ I’d just say ‘I saved my life,’ ” McLaughlin said.
Michael struggled with fear about his mother’s condition but was eager to help. He drove her to the hospital for her second mastectomy and breast reconstruction. Leaving little time to sulk, McLaughlin went back to work immediately and enrolled in graduate school to earn her master’s in education.
Cancer-free once again, McLaughlin’s life stabilized. Neither her body nor her behavior evidenced the decade-long struggle she endured. She loved her reconstructed breasts and felt in control again. Throughout all of her diagnoses, “I never cried. I never got emotional about it,” she said.
McLaughlin’s moment of weakness came years later.

Questing for confidence

Eight years after her last treatment, an unexpected staph infection forced doctors to remove her implants. “That’s when I cried,” she said. “They were so beautiful and life-like that I couldn’t believe it was happening to me.” Doctors removed the infected skin, expanded the remaining flesh on her chest, and inserted smaller implants.
But after six weeks, she was rushed to emergency surgery for a second staph infection and lost the option of reconstruction entirely. Flattened, misshapen lumps of fatty tissue and scars from 28 surgeries were all that remained.
McLaughlin struggled with her appearance after losing her breasts. She removed all the full-length mirrors from her home, preferring not to see herself in them, and pined over the lumps on her chest when she caught glimpses of her torso in the bathroom. “Every time I looked in the mirror, you think I’d be mad about the scars; I’d say, ‘Oh God, I hate that fat.’ I hate it, you know, and I was obsessed with it.”
McLaughlin didn’t find solace until years later when Michael, then in his 30s, gave her a tablet computer. With his help, McLaughlin opened a Twitter account. She became fast Twitter friends with Friday Jones, a celebrity tattoo artist and cast member on Oxygen’s “Tattoos After Dark.”
Through Jones, McLaughlin discovered a community of breast cancer survivors and mastectomy tattoo enthusiasts. Jones introduced McLaughlin to Day, a nationwide event in which volunteers connect breast cancer survivors with experienced artists, providing complimentary tattoos to cover their scars during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Apple cider vinegar

 the most popular use for apple cider vinegar? If a simple internet search is any measure, it involves diabetes.
Dietitian Carol Johnston has been studying the effects of the main component of any vinegar, acetic acid, on diabetic blood glucose levels since 2004. She’s conducted 10 small randomly controlled studies and published six papers on the subject.
Her studies indicate vinegar can help lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes; in those who are prediabetic, also called insulin-resistant; and even in healthy control subjects. The improvement was slight for all but those at risk for diabetes, she says.
“In pre-diabetics, it was too good to be true,” says Johnston, who is also associate director of the Arizona State University’s School of Nutrition and Health. “It fell a good bit and stayed that way. It may be this is the group that could benefit the most.”
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But this antiglycemic response can be induced by any sort of vinegar, she says: red and white wine vinegars, pomegranate vinegar or even white distilled vinegar. She suggests adding it to salads, as in the Mediterranean diet, or diluting it in water and drinking it before a meal.
“Basically, what acetic acid is doing is blocking the absorption of starch,” Johnston says. “If my study subjects eat a starch and add vinegar, glucose will go down. But if they drink sugar water and add vinegar, nothing happens. So if you’re having bacon and eggs, don’t bother. It only helps if you are consuming a starch.”
If you choose to use apple cider vinegar, be sure to tell your doctor, says nutritionist Lisa Drayer.
“If you’re taking a diabetes drug, the vinegar could amplify the effects of your meds,” she warns, “and your doctor might want to adjust your dosage.”
Most important, if you’re expecting vinegar to significantly alter or prevent diabetes, science suggests you reconsider.
Johnston notes that there is no evidence, in her studies or others, to establish that connection.
“I simply determine if your glucose level goes up and down,” she says. “If I was to show that vinegar slows progression to diabetes, then I would need hundreds of people and millions of dollars to do the studies, because diabetes has a lot of causes, including genetics.”

Weight loss

Weight loss, or dieting, is another popular use for apple cider vinegar and there is some evidence that it can help.
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The most cited study was done with 175 heavy but otherwise healthy Japanese subjects. The 12-week treatment produced lower body weight, body mass index, visceral fat, waist measurements and triglyceride levels. Sounds great, right?
“People didn’t really lose that much weight,” Drayer says. “Only 2 to 4 pounds in three months over a placebo. That’s only a third of a pound a week.”
Johnston agrees the study showed “a very, very modest weight loss.’
“In fact, I would say most people who are on a diet for 12 weeks and only lose a couple of pounds aren’t going to be very happy,” she adds.
If you are using apple cider or other vinegars as one part of an overall plan, combining it with a healthy diet, portion control and exercise, it might help, Drayer says. She suggested using balsamic vinegar on salads, in a 4:1 ratio with oil, or adding it to sauces for poultry and fish.
“If you were doing all the other things to lose weight, it might give you a slight edge,” Drayer says. “Also, if you’re drinking it in water, that’s good, as water makes you feel full.”
“Sometimes, people get really excited to try something new, and then their other behaviors change, too,” she adds. “So if this helps people be more careful overall, that’s a good thing.”

Teeth cleaning and whitening

“Some people like to use it to remove stains and whiten their teeth,” according to one of many online articles touting apple cider vinegar for this purpose: “To try this, rub a small amount of apple cider vinegar onto your teeth with a cotton swab.”
“I let out an audible gasp when I read about this!” says Chicago dentist and American Dental Association spokeswoman Alice Boghosian. “It made me cringe, to be honest with you. What are people doing?”
“You’re putting acid on your teeth,” Boghosian continues, “the last thing you’d want to do to promote oral health. What would be a healthier option is to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes, with a whitening toothpaste with the ADA seal. That shows it’s been tested to do what it’s supposed to do.”
Other articles promote rinsing your mouth with apple cider vinegar, soaking dentures with a diluted mixture or using it to clean a toothbrush.
“You just have to rinse off your toothbrush, get all the toothpaste out, and let it air out. That’s all you have to do,” Boghosian says. “Cleaning dentures or rinsing with vinegar is not a good idea. It too could put your teeth at risk. And just think how it might affect the metal on partial dentures.”
A pH of 7 is neutral, explains Boghosian; anything less is acid. She said many of today’s popular apple cider vinegars are in the 2 to 3 range — about the same as stomach acid.
“Anything acidic which contacts your teeth will wear out the enamel, the protective coating, and that will cause cavities,” Boghosian adds. “So, this is totally, completely wrong, unless you want to be paying more visits to your dentist.”

Skin, hair and nails

Commonly suggested uses for apple cider vinegar across the internet include it’s use as a treatment for skin infections and acne, fighting lice and dandruff, as a natural wart remover and as an anti-aging treatment.
“It will dry out a pimple, but it’s not an anti-aging method,” says dermatologist Dr. Marie Jhin, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Dermatology. “It might fade dark spots, or maybe you could use it as a skin toner, if you dilute it a great deal. But I wouldn’t recommend it. We have much more effective and safe methods today than this.”
Apple cider vinegar helps blood sugar, body fat, studies say
One use she can agree with: “I do love it for bites, especially mosquito bites. It’s a very underutilized home remedy. If you have a lot of bites, put two cups in a full tub of water and soak. It will help with itching,” she says.
“It can also help with sunburn, although there are so many other good remedies,” Jhin adds. “We don’t usually suggest that to patients.”
Apple cider vinegar might help with dandruff, says Jihn, because the acidity could increase the sloughing of the skin on the scalp, and it does have some antifungal properties.
But don’t turn to it to get rid of head lice. One study found the use of vinegar to be the least effective method among several natural solutions; only petroleum jelly killed adult louse, but it did next to nothing to fight the eggs.
Another use Jhin recommends: “I love vinegar for paronychia, an infection under the cuticle that a lot of people get,” Jhin says. She suggests mixing one-fourth cup of vinegar with three-fourths cup of water and soaking nails.
But what about warts and other home uses?
“Warts are caused by a virus, so there’s no cure,” Jihn explains. “You can dab a diluted version of apple cider vinegar on a wart with a Q-tip, and it’s going to help remove dead skin, which is what we do in the office by paring it down, cutting it out or burning it with liquid nitrogen. But it’s not going to be as fast or effective as what we do in the office.”
American Academy of Dermatology spokesman Dr. Michael Lin, director of the Advanced Dermatology and Skin Cancer Institute in Beverly Hills, has a more negative perspective on home use.
“I’ve had quite a few patients harmed by apple cider vinegar,” Lin explains. “One terrible example was a man trying to treat genital warts. When he came into the office, the entire area was raw, burned by the vinegar.
“I don’t know if he was using it full-strength, but whatever he was doing it was too strong,” he continues. “He probably has permanent scarring from that natural home treatment.”
Lin says he feels more comfortable recommending distilled white vinegar, as it is created to a standardized formulation of 5% acidity.
“With apple cider vinegar, you don’t know what strength you’re getting,” Lin says. “It’s depends on the brand, and even among batches within a brand, you could get different concentrations of acidity.”
“If you do choose to use apple cider vinegar, try to buy a name brand that clearly labels the acidity level. And whatever you do, don’t use it full-strength.”
He suggests a 1:10 ratio.

All-purpose cleaner

Because of apple cider vinegar’s antimicrobial properties, it is often suggested as a natural cleanser for the home.
The acid is effective against mold, but according to the Pesticide Research Institute, an environmental consulting firm, so are salt, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, tea tree oil and baking soda.
Many of those also smell better.
Apple cider vinegar is biodegradable, and because of its low pH, it’s great against alkaline grime such as hard water and mineral deposits, as well as soap scum.
How often you should wash your sheets, bras, hair and more!
But it won’t cut grease. Why not? Just think of a simple oil and vinegar salad dressing. After mixing, the oil and vinegar quickly separate because oil is nonpolar, while vinegar and water are polar, meaning they are not attracted to each other.
Will apple cider or other vinegars sanitize or disinfect your home? Probably not enough to make you feel germ-free.
This 1997 study showed that undiluted vinegar had some effect on E. coli and salmonella, but a study conducted in 2000 showed no real impact against E. coli or S. aureus, the common staphylococcus bacteria responsible for most skin and soft tissue infections.
That 2000 study also showed vinegars to be quite effective against the waterborne bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa, mostly found in hospitals and untreated hot tubs. It was also effective against Salmonella choleraesuis, a rare pig-borne version of salmonella.
If you do choose to use a vinegar to clean your home, never mix it with bleach or ammonia, because it will create toxic chlorine or chloramine gases.

The Sugar Detox

“Sugar makes you fat, ugly and old,” said Brooke Alpert, a registered dietitian and co-author of “The Sugar Detox: Lose the Sugar, Lose the Weight — Look and Feel Great.” “What we’ve discovered in the last couple of years is that sugar is keeping us overweight. It’s also a leading cause of heart disease; it negatively affects skin, and it leads to premature aging.”

Sugar addiction

Here’s more bad news: We can’t stop consuming sugar. “People have a real dependency — a real addiction to sugar,” Alpert said. “We have sugar, we feel good from it, we get (the feeling of) an upper, and then we crash and need to reach for more
 Why sugar intake has increased 02:52
About 10% of the US population are true sugar addicts, according to Robert Lustig, professor of pediatrics and member of the Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California, San Francisco. What’s more, research suggests that sugar induces rewards and cravings that are similar in magnitude to those induced by addictive drugs.
One of the biggest concerns is the amount of added sugars in our diets, which are often hidden in foods. Although ice cream cake is an obvious source of sugar, other foods that may not even taste sweet — such as salad dressings, tomato sauces and breads — can be loaded with the white stuff.
“People don’t realize that seemingly healthy foods are loaded with sugar — and so we’re basically eating sugar all day long, from morning till night,” Alpert said.

How to sugar detox: Going cold turkey for three days

The good news is that even if you’re not a true sugar “addict,” by eliminating sugar from your diet, you can quickly lose unwanted pounds, feel better and have a more radiant appearance.
“There is no one person who wouldn’t benefit by eliminating added sugars from their diets,” Lustig said.
Children can benefit, too. Lustig’s research revealed that when obese children eliminated added sugars from their diets for just nine days, every aspect of their metabolic health improved — despite no changes in body weight or total calories consumed.
But going cold turkey is what works best, at least in the beginning.
How much sugar is OK? Paper adds to debate
“Early on in my practice, when I would notice that people had real addiction to sugar, we’d start trying to wean them of sugar or limit their intake or eat in moderation … but the word ‘moderation’ is so clichéd and not effective,” Alpert said. “It was just ineffective to ask people to eat less of something when they’re struggling with this bad habit. You wouldn’t ask an alcoholic to just drink two beers.
“What was so successful in getting my clients to kick their sugar habit was to go cold turkey. When they would go cold turkey, I wasn’t their favorite person — but the number one positive effect was that it recalibrated their palate,” she said. “They could now taste natural sugars in fruits, vegetables and dairy that they used to be so dulled to.”
So for the first three days on a sugar detox, Alpert recommends no added sugars — but also no fruits, no starchy vegetables (such as corn, peas, sweet potatoes and butternut squash), no dairy, no grains and no alcohol. “You’re basically eating protein, vegetables and healthy fats.”
For example, breakfast can include three eggs, any style; lunch can include up to 6 ounces of poultry, fish or tofu and a green salad, and dinner is basically a larger version of lunch, though steamed vegetables such as broccoli, kale and spinach can be eaten in place of salad. Snacks include an ounce of nuts and sliced peppers with hummus. Beverages include water, unsweetened tea and black coffee.
Though they don’t contribute calories, artificial sweeteners are not allowed on the plan, either. “These little pretty colored packets pack such a punch of sweetness, and that’s how our palates get dulled and immune and less reactive to what sweetness really is,” Alpert said.
Consuming artificial sweeteners causes “you not only (to) store more fat,” Lustig explained, “you also end up overeating later on to compensate for the increased energy storage.”

How to sugar detox: When an apple tastes like candy

Once the first three days of the sugar detox are completed, you can add an apple.
“By the fourth day, an apple tastes like candy,” Alpert said. “The onions are sweet! Almonds are sweet! Once you take sugar away from your diet cold turkey, your palate recalibrates, and you start tasting natural sugars again.”
Starting with day four, you can add one apple and one dairy food each day. Dairy, such as yogurt or cheese, should be full-fat and unsweetened. “Fat, fiber and protein slow the absorption of sugar, so taking out fat from dairy will make you absorb sugar faster,” Alpert said.
 How to stop sugar from sneaking into your child’s diet
You can also add some higher-sugar vegetables such as carrots and snow peas, as well as a daily serving of high-fiber crackers. Three glasses of red wine in that first week can be added, too.
During week two, you can add a serving of antioxidant-rich berries and an extra serving of dairy. You can also add back starchy vegetables such as yams and winter squash.
For week three, you can add grains such as barley, quinoa and oatmeal, and even some more fruit including grapes and clementines. You can also have another glass of red wine during the week and an ounce of dark chocolate each day.
“Week three should be quite livable,” Alpert said.
Week four is the home stretch, when you can enjoy two starches per day, including bread and rice, in addition to high-fiber crackers. Wine goes up to five glasses per week.
“You can have a sandwich in week four, which just makes things easier,” Alpert said. “I want people living. Week four is the way to do it.”
Week four defines the maintenance part of the plan — though intentional indulgences are allowed, such as ice cream or a piece of cake at a birthday party. “Because the addictive behavior is gone, having ice cream once or twice will not send you back to square one,” Alpert said. Additionally, no fruit is off-limits once you’ve completed the 31 days.
“The whole purpose is to give people control and ownership and a place for these foods in our life,” Alpert said.

Healthy’ Foods Really Good

Hydrogen water

So-called hydrogen water–water into which hydrogen gas is dissolved–has become increasingly popular in recent years, with a handful of companies (including one created by physician personality Dr. Nicholas Perricone) selling bottles, tablets you can dissolve into water and even machines to boost water’s hydrogen content. Some claim that adding more hydrogen increases energy, improves workout recovery and reduces inflammation.

 But the science behind those claims is weak, backed only by a few encouraging studies in rats and mice and even fewer–and smaller–trials in people. “We don’t know anything about dosing or the frequency you need to drink hydrogen water to get health benefits,” says Robin Foroutan, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Moreover, the amount of hydrogen in water products varies widely, and there is no regulation to standardize formulas. For now experts say that while drinking hydrogen water probably isn’t risky, the benefits, if any, are also unknown.

Protein powder

There is a variety of protein powders–whey, hemp, soy, pea and more–that you can add to foods that don’t otherwise have the nutrient in high quantities, like smoothies and shakes. Powders can aid muscle recovery after exercise and help you feel fuller–and stay that way

 But in the ways that count most, protein powder is not necessarily an adequate substitute for the real thing. Protein is important for muscle, bone and skin health, and it can provide the nine essential amino acids that the human body doesn’t make by itself. While some protein powders contain the full amino-acid profile, many fall short. In general, animal-based protein powders–like whey, casein or egg-white protein–are more complete than non-animal-based ones.

Additionally, eating a high-protein food can provide other nutrients a person might need. For example, eggs contain protein as well as healthy fat and vitamin D. “When you eat protein from whole foods, you get extra nutrients and fiber that contribute to a healthy diet,” says Nancy Rodriguez, professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Connecticut, Storrs.

Low-calorie ice cream

Halo Top’s low-calorie, high-protein ice cream recently became the best-selling pint in the U.S., in part by billing itself as a healthier alternative to the likes of Häagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s.

That’s technically true, especially for calorie counters. But nutritionists warn that such low-calorie counts typically derive from artificial and zero-calorie sweeteners, which don’t appear to help people lose weight, according to a July report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

As for the added protein, unless you’re following a high-protein regimen, the little extra you get in ice cream could just as easily be gotten in foods like chicken and quinoa. Federal data shows that American adults consume about 15% of their daily calories from protein–well within the recommended amount.

That said, if you’re choosing to indulge, you could do a lot worse than Halo Top. “As far as the ingredients go, there’s nothing there that I would question as a red flag,” says Keri Gans, a registered dietitian in New York

Wholesome snack bars

Granola bars have long been a staple in the health-food aisle, despite the fact that many contain just as much sugar as a candy bar.

That said, there’s been an influx of legitimately healthy snack-bar options in recent years; to pick one, you just have to read the ingredients closely. Dietitian Andy Bellatti recommends looking for bars that rely on sweetness from foods like dates and coconut rather than table sugars (see: brands like RXBAR and Lärabar). That way, he explains, “you are getting nutrition and fiber, without added sugar.” But if you’re looking for a midday snack, a handful of almonds or an apple can often do the trick for fewer calories.

Ideas For Eating All Week

 As another begrudged Sunday activity (perhaps somewhere between folding laundry and balancing your checkbook), we get it. The idea of braving a populous grocery store and spending hours in the kitchen doesn’t quite fit in with your Netflix-and-chill agenda. However, spending a little extra time to prepare healthy food for the week is worth the effort. Not only can it curb the urge to call in your favorite takeout on a nightly basis, it also takes the guess work out of meals, giving you more time to dominate other facets of your week.

We asked some of the top health food bloggers to share their best meal prep tips to ensure your weekend prep—and weekday meals—are as efficient as they are delicious. A busy week has nothing on you.

Take out the trash, empty the dishwasher, and put away stuff on the counter or in the sink. This makes it easier to work efficiently. Also, using a “garbage” bowl (thank you, Rachel Ray) can help you keep tidier counters and floors, and move more quickly, avoiding constant trips to the garbage can.

Invest in quality meal storage containers

Use glass containers to store prepped fruit and vegetables in the fridge. Place them front and center so your eye catches them when opening the fridge doors. It makes the produce more appetizing and research has shown using glass containers and proper placement leads to healthier diet quality.

Cook batch grains

Cook a few batches of whole grains, such as brown rice or quinoa, cool it in the fridge, and then divide the grains into meal-size portions to freeze. When ready to reheat, you have your own healthy “minute” rice! As an added bonus, when rice is cooked, cooled, and reheated, some of the starch is converted to resistant starch, which acts as a prebiotic to feed the healthy bacteria in your gut.

Repurpose leftovers

Consider foods that make a great vehicle for leftovers for the nights later in the week that you might be sick of looking at the same stuff you’ve been eating since Monday. For example, a frittata makes a great vehicle for leftover vegetables when you’re trying to use up odds and ends in the fridge. Serve with a simple side salad and you’ve got a delicious, fuss-free mea

Prepare ingredients that add variety

Cook or prepare several ingredients that could be thrown together in a variety of ways, depending on what you crave later in the week. For example, a large batch of grilled or roasted veggies, a grain (such as brown rice, quinoa, or pasta), and protein (such as meat, beans, or tofu). This gives you the flexibility to easily throw together a variety of dishes (i.e. salads, stir-fries, sandwiches, and even pizza) throughout the week and create quick, satisfying meals that honor your body’s cravings.

Prepare multi-purpose foods

Any sort of soup or chili can be lunch and/or dinner served with a robust salad side, bean dip can fill a wrap, be smeared on an English Muffin, or be scooped up by fresh veggies, and salad dressing can be tossed with greens, used as a dip, or drizzled over roasted veg

Stock up on essentials

Focus on keeping key ingredients stocked in order to be able to put together a balanced meal at a moment’s notice. Do a mental checklist when you grocery shop and aim to have the following in your grocery cart (or already in your kitchen):

  • 2-3 Protein Sources
  • 2-3 Types of Fruit
  • 1 Bag Leafy Greens
  • 2-3 Pre-Cut Veggies
  • Quick-Cook Whole Grain
  • 1 Cheese

And if you’re short on time or prepping for multiple people, take shortcuts when needed

Plan a weekly menu

Even if it’s just 3 ideas for dinner, a weekly menu helps organize your shopping which can save money and time at the store and reduce food waste at the end of the week. Jot it down and post it in the kitchen

Tall Affects Your Health

Some of these health risks have to do with the physiology of being an especially small or large person, and what that means for the body’s organs. Here are a few ways height has recently been linked to health.

 More blood clots
 In a September study published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, researchers investigated the link between height and venous thromboembolism, the third leading cause of heart attack and stroke. They found that, in a group of more than 2 million Swedish siblings, men shorter than 5’3” had a 65% lower risk of developing a venous thromboembolism, a type of blood clot that starts in a vein, than men taller than 6’2”. They also analyzed a group of pregnant women, since pregnancy can be a trigger for these types of blood clots. Those shorter than 5’1” had a 69% lower risk compared to those 6’ and taller.

Why? Gravity may be influencing the link. “It could just be that because taller individuals have longer leg veins there is more surface area where problems can occur,” said lead researcher Dr. Bengt Zöller, associate professor at Lund University and Malmö University Hospital in Sweden, in a news release. Increased gravitational pressure in the veins of taller legs can also increase the risk of blood flow slowing or stopping temporarily.

The CDC estimates that thromboembolisms affect up to 600,000 Americans every year, and that number is increasing—possibly because average height is also increasing, says Zöl

Higher risk of dying from cancer

The risk of dying from cancer increases by 4% for every two and a half inches of height a person has, according to a 2016 review paper published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. Being tall may be a marker of over-nutrition—specifically, eating too many high-calorie animal proteins—during different stages of growth and development, either throughout life or before birth. That could activate growth processes that leave cells vulnerable to mutations, the report states.

There are other theories, as well. “Height may also be an indicator of organ size,” wrote review co-author Matthias Schulze of the German Institute of Human Nutrition in an email to TIME. “The larger the organ, the more cells are at risk of malignant transformation.”

Other studies have also found that tall (and obese) men are at increased risk of developing aggressive forms of prostate cancer, and that tall women are more likely to develop melanoma, as well as breast, ovarian, endometrial and colon cancer.

Less heart disease and diabetes

On the other hand, tall people may have have lower rates of heart disease and diabetes. In the recent Lancet study, for every 2.5 inches of height, a person’s risk of dying from heart disease decreased by 6%. Taller people tend to naturally have bigger lungs and stronger hearts, says Schulze, which may partially explain these effects. Plus, the same over-nutrition phenomenon associated with increased cancer risk may be protective in other ways: It could trigger an increased production of a hormone that helps the body control blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Higher risk of a-fib

There may be another exception to the taller-is-heart-healthier rule. Preliminary research presented at a cardiology conference in April found that taller and bigger women are nearly three times as likely to develop atrial fibrillation, a dangerous heart rhythm disorder.

The larger a woman’s body size as a young adult, the more likely she was to develop the irregularity during the 16-year study. Larger cells in a woman’s heart could interrupt its electrical pathways, the authors suspect, and extra pressure against the lungs (due to a woman’s large size) could cause the heart to distend