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Healthy notes: Chocolate milk; pregnancy weight gain; and eye implants

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  • Pregnant woman weighing herself on hospital scale

Runner touts chocolate milk

Althea Zanecosky takes her chocolate milk seriously.

When she traveled to watch her daughter, Rebecca, run in the Pittsburgh Marathon, she didn’t leave anything to chance. Zanecosky packed a cooler with chocolate milk, carted it across the state, stowed it in a hotel room refrigerator and then hauled it to the finish line.

“I am both the sports nutrition mom and the dairy mom,” Zanecosky said. “Everyone in the party knows that I carry the chocolate milk.”

A former sports nutrition professor at Drexel and registered dietitian who represents the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association, Zanecosky used to get funny looks when she trumpeted the recovery benefits of chocolate milk.

“There seems to be this disconnect: If it tastes good it can’t be good for me,” Zanecosky said. “Chocolate milk is the one delicious thing that all of us can have no guilt about because it’s doing the body this wonderful good.”

After a long race, Zanecosky said, runners need carbohydrates and protein in roughly a 3 to 1 ratio. Chocolate milk provides that naturally, along with the necessary fluids and electrolytes. Zanecosky said the trend toward chocolate milk began in the cycling community and migrated to running.

Zanecosky said the first 30 minutes to two hours after the race is the most important time to refuel. She suggests ditching the traditional, carb-heavy pancake breakfast for a meal balanced between carbs and protein, like cereal in milk with yogurt and fruit.

And of course, she has an idea about what to drink: “We’ve got exactly what you need.”


Keep pregnancy weight
gain in check

What’s the big deal about gaining enough but not too much weight during pregnancy? We know now that excess weight gain during pregnancy does more than just harm mom’s chances for fitting in her jeans soon after delivery.

Researchers are beginning to see that babies who are bathed in excess high-fat calories in the womb may be more prone to health problems. They suspect that kids might even be “programmed” to be obese when mom overeats during her pregnancy.

And high fat diets-even when mom is not overweight-may damage baby’s developing organs, some studies suggest. In the long run, this may interfere with the regulation of food intake and blood glucose levels and lead to health problems.

Here are some tips for preventing excessive pregnancy weight gain.

■ Keep your weight gain within a healthy range. And that range is determined by your body mass index (BMI) at the beginning of your pregnancy.

■ Here’s how to calculate your BMI: Multiply your pre-pregnant weight (in pounds) by 703. Divide that total by your height in inches. Divide that total by your height in inches again to get your BMI value. BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered “normal” weight. Women in this category who gain between 25 to 35 pounds have been found to have the best birth outcomes.

BMI of 25 to 29.9 is “overweight.” No more than 15 to 25 pounds is considered optimal pregnancy weight gain for these women.

BMI over 30 is considered “obese.” Women in this category have fewer complications when they limit weight gain during pregnancy to no more than 11 to 20 pounds.

■ Track your weight gain during pregnancy. Of course you should always follow your doctor’s advice. But in general, a woman of normal weight should gain about 10 pounds by the middle (20th week) of pregnancy. An overweight woman should only gain about 5 pounds by her 20th week.

Here’s a cool chart to help you track your weight gain: www.iom.edu/About-IOM/Making-a-Difference/Kellogg/⅞/media/Files/About%20the%20IOM/Pregnancy-Weight/Pregnancyweightzcard.pdf

■ Focus on a diet that is “nutrient dense” and low in saturated fat. That means vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low fat dairy, eggs, lean meats, fish, and poultry. A recent review of pregnancy and nutrition funded by the National Institutes of Health concludes, “The quality of daily food intake is the most important and most ignored factor determining pregnancy outcomes.”


Cutting-edge implant helps patients see clearly

A Sunrise, Fla., surgeon is among the first in the nation to perform a stitch-less implant in the eye to correct both acute myopia and astigmatism, a debilitating pair of conditions that afflict millions of Americans.

The device, called the Ophtec Artiflex Toric Lens and manufactured by a Netherlands-based company with U.S. offices in Boca Raton, Fla., does not yet have Food and Drug Administration approval. But the FDA has afforded Dr. Andrew Shatz a rare “compassionate use exemption” to implant the silicon lens in the eyes of three patients.

Confident that the southern Florida region is home to “several thousand” similarly vision-impaired patients, Shatz is hoping to identify 200 of them for a possible clinical study that could speed up the FDA’s approval.

“There’s no alternative for these patients,” Shatz said. “They can’t wear contacts (well). They can’t use glasses because it causes too much distortion. And they’re not candidates for Lasik (corrective surgery).”

The procedure didn’t come cheap. Because it’s not FDA-approved, insurance won’t cover it. Shatz estimated the implants, which must be done separately for each eye, cost at least $5,000 per eye. Burke took out a credit card to pay for hers, calling the two procedures “my No. 1 priority.”

Lenses like the Ophtec Artiflex Toric have been widely available in Europe and Asia for years, where studies have shown them to be highly effective in treating severe cases of myopic astigmatism, according to the Review of Ophthalmology medical journal.


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