Tummy Talk

For many of us, dieting is an eternal battle. Now new research is showing it may also be an internal battle: Your eyes look at the chocolate, your brain says you want it, and then your stomach conspires against you.


Your stomach produces an appetite hormone called ghrelin, which increases your appetite and tells your brain it’s time to eat. Worse yet, high levels of ghrelin appear to make high-calorie foods look more appealing.


Plus, the more weight dieters lose, the higher their level of ghrelin. The hormone seems to prompt your body into regaining some of the weight you’ve lost.


But you can lower ghastly ghrelin levels by increasing exercise, getting more sleep, and filling your stomach with healthy foods. Those will keep your stomach from talking so much trash to your brain.


Find more information on this and many other health topics, when you log onto

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Benefits of Coffee

After so many studies touting the health benefits of tea, you may feel like your coffee isn’t worth beans. But this may perk you up – coffee delivers a lot more than a boost to your day.


That to-go cup contains a significant amount of antioxidants. Plus, research ties coffee to a reduced risk of diabetes, some types of cancer, and other diseases. And about that caffeine—moderate amounts have been shown to improve athletic performance and even slow down the loss of muscle strength as you age.


Of course, too much caffeine can be detrimental, and negatively affect some pre-existing medical conditions. But if coffee is already part of your routine, you have a latte’ to celebrate.


Find more information on this and many other health topics, when you log onto

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Childhood Obesity

Here’s the skinny on your child’s health–the food kids crave is loaded with fat, sugar and calories. But are their eating habits just “kids being kids,” or the beginning of destructive lifelong habits?

The latest studies are food for thought: one in five young children is overweight to obese, putting them at higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other serious medical problems.

The three main causes of childhood obesity are unhealthy diet, poor sleep, and a lack of exercise. Genetics can be a factor, but family lifestyles weigh much heavier.

That means parents need to lead by example…serve healthy meals, exercise with your children—and junk the junk food except as a rare treat. Healthy habits don’t need to have an age restriction.

If you have a comment or question for the New Shine.FM wellness expert Dr. Walt Larimore, visit the wellness expert page at Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Hot Chocolate May Be Good For Your Brain?

I have some great health news for you—hot chocolate may be good for your brain!

According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, a new study has found that hot chocolate may help improve brain health and thinking skills—particularly in older people.

The researchers looked at older people who had reduced blood flow to their brains and had performed poorly on a memory and reasoning test.  They had them drink two cups of cocoa a day for 30 days and then tested them again.  After drinking the hot chocolate for a month, they found significant improvement in their mental functioning.

In addition to the memory and reasoning tests, the researchers used ultrasound to indirectly measure the blood flow to the elderly people’s brains, as well as an MRI to examine their white matter — the nerve fibers that connect different parts of the brain.

At the end of the 30 days, the team found that drinking hot chocolate benefited only the people who had poor brain functioning to begin with.  Those individuals showed an 8% improvement in blood flow and a roughly 1 minute faster reaction time on the memory test.

There was barely any improvement among those who started out with normal blood flow and cognitive skills.

Although the study results may tempt you to add chocolate to your diet, the lead researcher notes that food intake was strictly regulated to offset the extra fat and sugar in hot chocolate.

For people seeking to keep their brains healthy, she recommends something already known to improve brain function: exercise.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Does Calorie Information On Restaurant Menus Cause People To Eat Better?

When you order food at a restaurant, would you make different choices if there was calorie info on the menu?  The answer might surprise you.

HealthDay is reporting a new study done by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.  It found that making general calorie consumption guidelines available to restaurant customers doesn’t change their eating habits.

As you may know, a number of cities and states are now mandating that chain restaurants post calorie info on menus or menu boards.  But some government types think that’s not enough—they believe restaurants should also post guidelines for daily calorie intake—or even how many calories we should consume per meal.

Researcher Dr. Julie Downs decided to test that theory, and she says “We found it didn’t help at all.”

Currently, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle – as well as the entire states of California and Oregon require calorie labeling.  And soon we may see that across the country, as part of the federal health care reform act.

The study found that providing calorie guidance did NOT seem to help consumers make better use of calorie labeling.  It also failed to prompt a drop in the total number of calories informed patrons purchased.

Instead, those who received daily or per-meal calorie guidance chose to eat slightly more calories, not fewer.

Dr. Downs speculates that people see the calorie recommendations and compare them to the number of calories in a given item.  The number of calories in the one item seems low, so they actually get a bigger dish and add side items to it.  As a result, they go over the recommended guidelines for one meal.

For more on healthy food consumption guidelines, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website at

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Shine Family Expert

Americans Are Exercising More, But It’s Not Making A Dent in Our Nation’s Epidemic Of OBESITY

Americans are exercising more, but it hasn’t made a dent into the epidemic of obesity in this country.  LA Times writer Noam Levey is reporting on new research on physical fitness in the US, and he says the news is mixed.

In more than two-thirds of the nation’s counties, men and women became more physically active over the last 10 years.

Women made the most progress, with a 5% increase in the number of females who got sufficient exercise each week.  The number of guys who increased their level of fitness went up just one percent.

But researchers at the University of Washington say these improvements haven’t done much to reduce obesity.  In fact obesity rates for men and women fell in just nine counties.

Dr. Christopher Murray, lead author of the study, says : “To tackle obesity, we need to do this. But we probably also need to do more. … Just counting on physical activity is not going to be the solution.”

Today, more than one-third of U.S. adults and approximately 17% of children are clinically obese.  Many health experts believe that changing diet may do more to bring those numbers down than increasing exercise.

A separate paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, identifies poor diet as the No. 1 factor contributing to America’s poor health compared to other industrialized nations.

In fact, Americans living in Appalachia now have shorter live-spans than people in Vietnam, Yemen and Sudan.

By the way, for this study, researchers defined sufficient physical activity as 150 minutes of moderate activity a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week.

For some great advice on exercise and eating healthy, go to the American Heart Association’s website at

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Shine Family Expert

How NOT To Talk To Your Teenager About Weight Loss Or Dieting

Is your child overweight?  A new study provides some guidance on what NOT to do about it.

The LA Times is reporting on research that has found that talking to an overweight teenager about diets or weight loss can actually backfire.

In the study, which appeared in the journal Pediatrics, parents of over 2,000 teens were asked how they talked to their kids the issues of food and weight loss.  About half of the kids were either overweight or obese.

About 60 percent of the parents of overweight teens said they regularly had conversations with their child about dieting and weight loss.  15%  of the parents kept the focus on healthful eating and about 20% of the parents kept their mouths closed on the subject.

The overweight kids whose parents stressed healthy eating were less likely to engage in unhealthy forms of weight loss like fasting or using laxatives.

Fathers’ voices on the diets versus healthful eating issue seemed to carry particular weight.  Teens whose dads talked about weight loss and diets showed an even greater likelihood of engaging in unhealthy forms of weight-loss.

The researchers say that the findings suggest that parents should avoid conversations that focus on weight or losing weight and instead focus on healthy eating, without reference to weight issues

The researchers say that dads need to be particularly careful what they say about weight, regardless of whether their kids are overweight or not.  They say “It may be important to educate fathers to avoid any form of weight-related conversation with their adolescents.”

One more reminder to us dads that our words have a powerful influence on our kids.

To learn more about helping a child who is overweight or obese, go to and enter “obesity” in the search engine.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Shine Family Expert

America’s Doctors Weigh In On The Dangers Of Obesity

The American Medical Association has taken a tough new stand on obesity.  They now classify it as a “disease” requiring medical treatment.

CBS News reporter Ryan Jaslow says the new definition is aimed at getting doctors to tackle obesity as if they were treating a disease instead of simply a “lifestyle condition” that should be changed.

The AMA issued a statement that states “Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans.”

According the latest stats, more than 35 percent of U.S. adults and 17 percent of children and teens meet the criteria for obesity.

Multiple research studies have linked obesity to a variety of medical conditions.  These include heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, liver disease, sleep apnea, breathing problems, osteoarthritis and joint pain, infertility, sexual side effects and cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus, pancreas and kidneys.

Also, this years’ “Annual Report on the Status of Cancer” found significant rises in obesity-related cancers over the past three decades.

So what does the new classification mean for obese people as patients?

Dr. Louis Arronne, obesity specialist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, says it could have a tremendous impact on health care legislation in Washington and with insurance companies.

Bariatric surgeries including lap-band procedures or gastric bypass surgeries may now be covered by more insurers based on the AMA’s new classification

There are also two recently-approved obesity drugs, Qsymia and Belviq, that can be prescribed to obese patients.

To learn more, go to the American Medical Association’s website and enter “obesity” in the search engine.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Shine Family Expert

Could Too Much Coffee Cause You To Have A Mental Disorder?

Do you drink coffee?  A LOT of coffee?  Could your caffeine habit cause you to have a temporary mental disorder? reports that the DSM-5, the latest edition of the psychiatric mental health manual, lists “caffeine intoxication” among the many disorders known to psychiatry.

If you must know, DSM stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Check out this list of symptoms: Restlessness, nervousness, excitement, red face, gastrointestinal upset, muscle twitching, rambling speech, sleeplessness, and rapid, irregular heartbeat.

According to the DSM-5, if you experience five or more of these symptoms during or shortly after consuming caffeine, you could be diagnosed with caffeine intoxication. Oh yeah, the symptoms must also impair your ability to function in some way.

This condition appears in both the old and new editions of the DSM, but the new version adds a related diagnosis: caffeine withdrawal, which describes the effects of stopping or dramatically reducing your consumption of caffeine.

Withdrawal symptoms include headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, depressed mood and other issues.

Typically, caffeine is used as a performance-enhancing substance. It speeds up the central nervous system, typically making us feel awake, alert and energetic. It’s found in coffee, tea and chocolate, and some energy drinks, and is even added to some types of headache medication and bottled water.

Caffeine is the most widely used, behaviorally active drug in the world, and according to the DSM-5, some people may be unaware of their physical dependence on it.

For more on this story, go to and enter “caffeine” in the search engine.  I’m gonna go there right after I have my non-fat double mocha, no whip.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Shine Family Expert