MountainStar Health - October 08, 2019

The Ogden Regional Medical Center / Heart Center, “Losing It and Loving It” weight loss class and support group newsletter


Happy Autumn! Indeed my favorite month. The colors, scents, sounds and tastes of autumn are so rich and invigorating. Nature is such a good teacher for letting go of the old and embracing the new. She is continually renewing herself. We can follow her example and strive to enrich our life with new experiences and letting go of what is not working. We celebrate Columbus Day and Halloween this month.

In good health,
Jennifer James

Success story

“J” & “P”

I know of a patient in our cardiac rehab program who is very shy about what he has done. This is a bit of different story, as it involves restricting sodium because of heart issues. He and his wife have gone after this like no other patients I have worked with! They purchased low sodium cookbooks, and are always on the lookout for new foods to try that are low in sodium. In the process, their diet has improved, they are eating more produce, their processed food intake has drastically dropped, and he is less constipated. His weight has fewer fluctuations. He feels great! She was a bit overzealous with the diet at first and lost too much weight. Of all things! They had to find a happy medium with it, and are now in cruise mode. BTW he was the person who introduced me to nutritional yeast. This has been my experience with other folks when they restrict the sodium in their diet. Once you eat the higher sodium foods, what’s mostly left is produce (fruits and vegetables), which are naturally low in sodium (with canned vegetables being the exception). I know most of the people I work with focus on calories and food portions. I challenge you to track your sodium, keeping it around 2000 mg per day, and see how your diet changes. You are in for a pleasant surprise. Here is a recipe “J” swears by:



Small zucchini 1
Polar kipper snacks (smoked herring) 1 can (Found at Walmart, 100 mg of sodium per can. Check the label!)
Nutritional yeast  

Dice the zucchini, place in a microwavable bowl, and add the juice from the kipper snacks.
Microwave until tender, 1-2 minutes.
Break up the fish and top the zucchini with it, sprinkle liberally with nutritional yeast.

~240 calories, 120 mg sodium

Thanks J & P! Great work!

Have you tried…balsamic vinegar?

Balsamic vinegar is a condiment staple originally from the Modena region of Northern Italy. It is made from grape must, which is crushed grapes with the skins, seeds and stems. It is never fermented into wine. Quality and price vary widely. It dates back 900 years and was often used as a tonic. The top quality varieties display “aceto balsamico tradizionale” on the label. It can be stored in the pantry and keeps indefinitely. A good choice for those restricting calories and sodium.

Processing fat...

A new randomized, control trial shows convincing evidence that eating a less-processed diet can help with weight loss (with an ultra-processed diet create weight gain). Once processed foods enter a third world country, the obesity rate goes up, quickly followed by diabetes, heart disease and so on. Especially when incomes increase. Ultra-processed foods include most sugary breakfast cereals, fast food, canned soups, frozen microwavable meals, cookies, muffins, pastries, chips, lunchmeat and so on. If you eat a steady diet of these foods, you will likely not consume the full gamut of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Personally, when I eat this way I feel tired and sluggish. To me, it is as if the food’s “soul” has been removed (just go with it). Kevin Hall, with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, is the team leader for a group of scientists, mathematicians and dietitians who study metabolism and weight. They completed a landmark study that points the finger at ultra-processed foods for playing a role in our country’s obesity epidemic. They put 20 people on an ultra-processed diet for two weeks, than an unprocessed diet (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts) for two weeks. The participants were offered double the food they needed, and told to eat as much (or as little) as they wanted. The amounts of sugar, carbohydrates, fat, fiber, salt and protein were about the same for both diets. These participants were a captive audience for a month, they had to stay at the facilities where the study was being conducted. Every bit of food they ate was recorded. The results: when people ate the ultra-processed food diet, they ate, on average 500 calories more per day, and gained two pounds during the first two weeks. When they switched to the unprocessed diet, they lost two pounds during the last two weeks. Granted, it was a small study, but it was very well-controlled. So my friends, if you struggle with your weight, move over to the unprocessed way of eating and ditch the commercial treats, fast food, convenience foods and the sugary beverages. You might even lose a few pounds.

Liebman, Bonnie, Are ultra-processed foods making us fat? A new study shakes things up. Nutrition Action Healthletter, pp. 3-6, July/August 2019.
Chatterjee, Rhitu, (October 8, 2016). Across the globe, our diets are making us sicker, report finds. Retrieved from


Did you know that aside from smoking, being obese is the next greatest risk factor for developing cancer? Only 52% of Americans know this. And on top of this, 7 out of 10 Americans are overweight or obese. The connection between these two often is glossed over or lost in the cracks. Obesity increases the risk for colorectal, prostate, breast, ovarian, endometrium, liver, mouth/pharynx/larynx, esophagus, pancreas, kidney and stomach cancer. Notice how these are linked to reproduction, digestion and elimination? When we are obese, a group of substances called cytokines, insulin and other substances are at higher levels, causing inflammation in the body and stimulating cells to divide, spurring cancer growth. Excess body fat also produces more estrogen, which is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer. Even in men who are obese more estrogen is produced. The visceral fat tissue around our waist is especially lethal, as it produces a higher level of these cell growth-promoting substances. What is really alarming is how the incidence for many cancers has jumped for people in their 20’s and 30’s. Our gut handles everything that comes into our bodies through our mouth. If we do not eat food that supports maintaining and repairing the myriad of tissues and functions that operate in our body, how can we expect it to function at top capacity? It is like dumping trash into a stream, and then scratching our heads when it ends up fouling the river. Where do we expect it to go? Our bodies have to process all we consume: food, beverages, drugs, nicotine, alcohol, pollutants in our air and water, and so on. Also our thoughts and resulting emotions affect our bodies too! The stress hormones, which our emotions can ignite, have deleterious effects our bodies have to handle as well. If we want an unpolluted and healthy body, that works beautifully if we take care of it, why do we treat it so badly?

Who's driving?

I watched a very different horror movie recently. “Pihu” is a movie about a 2-year old girl left to fend for herself at home after her mother ODs and her father is away on a business trip. She does not have the maturity to realize a hot iron, lit gas burners and an open balcony are dangerous. It is excruciating to watch! Which brings me to my topic. I found myself wandering around the kitchen later that evening, sampling this and that, when it dawned on me….I was Pihu! The two-year old inside of me was making my decisions for me. The adult was snoozing. What I hear in the support groups is that people want freedom to do what they want to do, they don’t like restrictions of any kind (the 2-year old). On the other hand, they want to lose weight (the adult). See the problem? We pay money to see a physician, financial advisor, dietitian, what have you (the adult). And continue doing what we have always done by not taking the medication prescribed, smoking, eating processed junk, and going further into debt (the 2-year old). Obviously, when a 2-year old is left to their own devices, it can be catastrophic. Taking care of our health requires time, discipline and effort, but most of us can’t be bothered. Multiple studies show that a very small percentage of Americans live a healthy lifestyle (think 3%). According to one study, 75% of us claim to eat a healthy diet, although 80% of us don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables! According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer claim 52.5% of the deaths in the U.S., which is related to daily choices and habits. We are delusional about how healthy we actually are, ignore sound advice, and get upset when we are diagnosed with diabetes or have a heart attack. It truly is crazy! So my friends, who is in your driver’s seat?

Loprinzi, PD, et al, (April 2016). Healthy lifestyle characteristics and their joint association with cardiovascular disease biomarkers in adults. Retrieved from
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (May 3, 2017). Deaths and mortality. Retrieved from
Aubrey, Allison and Godoy, Maria, (August 3, 2016). 75 Percent of Americans say they eat healthy, with evidence to the contrary. Retrieved from

DIY balsamic glaze

Balsamic glaze is reduced, or concentrated balsamic vinegar, with a sweetener often added. This is the easiest recipe I ever made. I did not add a sweetener to it, but after tasting it, adding a few teaspoons of honey would have been a good idea.



quality balsamic vinegar 1 cup
honey (optional) 2 teaspoons

Pour the vinegar and honey into a small pot.
Bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes or until reduced by at least half, and the vinegar coats the back of a spoon.

Use on cut raw vegetables and salads, roasted vegetables, grilled chicken, ice cream, you name it. It is tart, astringent and sweet. A lovely new condiment to have on hand that is low in sodium and calories.

One teaspoon: ~7 calories
One teaspoon made with honey: ~10 calories

October support groups

Mondays 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Tuesdays 4:30pm - 5:30pm

“When all else fails there is always delusion.” —Conan O-Brian