In the final event in our 2014 Denver Women & Wealth Series, we partnered with the Center for Women’s Health Research at the Anschutz Medical Campus where we hosted an evening with Dr. Jacinda Nicklas.
Dr. Nicklas practices internal, integrative and weigh loss medicine, and researches health, weight control and disease prevention. In her presentation to our guests, Dr. Nicklas shared her insights into nutrition and discussed how technology is playing an ever greater role in health and wellness.
Here are some of our key takeaways from the evening:
1) Make use of technology
The number of apps and wearable technology available to us is astonishing. Dr. Nicklas stressed the importance of using evidence-based programs to maintain a healthy lifestyle, so she identified a few technologies that are proving to be quite effective.
For those interested in maintaining a health lifestyle, Dr. Nicklas suggested wearable technologies like the FitBit, Jawbone, and FuelBand, or apps like My Fitness Pal.
There are advantages to each, but most of the wearable technologies allow you to monitor your steps, calories burned, food intake, and sleep. Certain technologies like FuelBand can even help track your workout intensity.
Technology can be a great resource, but you have to stick with it. About 1 in 10 people buy an activity tracker, but 1 in 3 people will stop using it within 6 months. If you commit to using it consistently, research is showing that technology can be a really powerful ally for your health.
2) Get your Z’s
While we all feel that there may not be enough hours in the day to get a good 8 hours of sleep, it is very important. Studies show that good sleep contributes to your overall health and wellness, so get 7 to 8 hours each night.
For those who struggle with sleep, Dr. Nicklas did share some interesting and reassuring observations. While she recommends getting 8 hours of sleep, she also noted that there isn’t much research demonstrating the importance of sleep taking place at once. If you do struggle, know that it’s quite common, and you can break up your rest cycle.
Technology again can come in handy to help track and improve your sleep. Wearables like Jawbone are introducing alarms that will wake you up between a range of times when you are likely to be at your most rested. The jury is still out on whether this technology has been perfected, but it’s nice to know researchers are working to optimize our sleep and minimize drowsiness.
3) The diet doesn’t matter – as long as you stick with it
Research has shown that individuals who follow low-fat, low-carb, or other evidence-based diets don’t vary too much in how much weight they’ve actually lost. All that really matters is whether a person could maintain the diet.
Although no diet is necessarily better than another, it does matter which you choose. For example, if you are trying to lose weight but absolutely love pasta, it will be hard to stick with a low-carb diet, so you are much more likely to fail. Look at the dietary recommendations of evidence-based programs and be honest with yourself about what you can cut out. This will help you find greater success.
In addition, before you try some new diet – no matter how interesting it sounds – talk to your primary care doctor. There are new fads every month, but to truly maintain or lose weight, you will want to stick with a program that is backed with solid research and evidence.
4) Consider a Mediterranean approach to eating
For those who love dairy, olive oil, and wine, this will be a great suggestion.
The Center for Women’s Health Research provided a giveaway, comparing the food pyramids from the United States and Mediterranean countries, which we’ve pictured below.
Recent research has shown that those following Mediterranean diet have a variety of advantages, including a much lower incidence of heart disease. So stock up on your fruits, veggies, cheese, and yogurts, enjoy a glass of wine each day, and minimize your red meat intake to start seeing some of the health benefits associated with the Mediterranean.
Learn more about the Center for Women’s Health Research and the work they do around nutrition, heart disease, diabetes and disease prevention.