More Proof – HIIT Better than Cardio

I-LOVE-HIITAs a personal trainer with 25 yrs of experience AND as a certified fitness junkie, I love HIIT because…

  1. it works really, really well to help my clients get fit really, really fast,
  2. it helps my clients drop excess body-fat really, really fast
  3. and because it is really simple to program HIIT workouts and it fits into the busiest of schedules really, really well.

Unfortunately, not everyone sees HIIT like I do. 

There is a large group of trainers and fitness “experts” who…

  • think that low intensity cardio is superior to HIIT for developing aerobic fitness, and
  • fear that the High Intensity aspect of HIIT is dangerous to the health of their clients.

Their concern is that people with less than perfect cardiac function are at imminent risk of suffering a heart attack if their trainer puts them on a HIIT protocol. Which makes sense….if you haven’t read a medical journal in the past few years and still believe that low intensity cardio is the only safe way to improve cardiac function..

However, if you’re like me and don’t want to wait for our mainstream health & fitness to catch up with modern science, I invite you to…

1. Take a look at some of my articles about HIIT and Cardiac Function

2.  Take a look at the latest research investigating HIIT and building a healthy heart

In a study just published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, researchers tested the effectiveness of HIIT workouts to improve the VO2max/VO2peak of 112 patients with coronary heart disease.

NoteVO2max/VO2peak is considered to be the gold standard for aerobic fitness, and aerobic fitness is believed to be the best indicator of cardiovascular health and a well-established predictor of total and cardiovascular mortality in subjects with and without coronary heart disease.

This means that exercise protocols which drastically improve VO2max/VO2peak are to be seen as powerful tools to help the medical (and fitness) communities prevent coronary heart disease and extend life.

In this study, the participants were divided into three groups based upon exercise intensity – as determined by percentage of HRmax.

  • <88%,
  • 88–92%, and
  • >92% of HRmax

The goal of the study was to determine if higher relative intensity during exercise intervals would elicit a greater
increase in VO2peak…leading to greater & faster improvements in aerobic fitness and in theory improve cardiac related mortality rates.

Here’s what happened

  • No adverse effects occurred during training
  • Overall, VO2peak increased by 11.9 % after 23.4 exercise sessions
  • Higher intensity exercise groups showed the greatest increase in VO2peak
  • 3.1 mL for the <88% group
  • 3.6 mL for the 88–92% group, and
  • 5.2 mL,for the >92% of HRmax group

hiit heart function

These findings build upon previous research which shows that the beneficial cardiovascular effects of aerobic exercise are intensity dependent, with higher intensity exercise showing a superior effect…leading the study authors to conclude that  “CHD patients who are able to perform high intensity training should aim at increasing exercise intensity above 92% of HRmax and thereby possibly achieve even greater improvements in aerobic capacity”.

What does this mean for you?

  • If you’re a CHD patient, you need to talk to your cardiologist about HIIT training…keeping in mind of course that CHD patients need to keep a close eye on how everything they do – exercise, nutrition, lifestyle, stress, etc – can impact the function of their CV system.
  • If you’re not a CHD patient, it means that if you want to improve your aerobic fitness and avoid dropping dead of a heart attack, you NEED to start doing some form of HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training.
  • And if you’re a doctor or fitness expert who still believes that low intensity cardio is the best way to improve aerobic function, you need to put down your preconceptions and pick up a scientific journal every now and then.

Reference

  • Moholdt T, et al. The higher the better? Interval training intensity in coronary heart disease. J Sci Med Sport
    (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2013.07.007
  • Rognmo O, Moholdt T, Bakken H et al. Cardiovascular risk of high- versus
    moderate-intensity aerobic exercise in coronary heart disease patients. Circulation 2012; 126(12):1436–1440.
  • . Kodama S, Saito K, Tanaka S et al. Cardiorespiratory fitness as a quantitative predictor of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events in healthy men and women: a meta-analysis. JAMA 2009; 301(19):2024–2035.

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Make No Little Plans – Ontario to be the Healthiest Place in the World

I have no idea who holds the title right now, but they had better watch their extremely fit backs…because Ontario is about to take the world by storm and become the world’s healthiest people.

Ontario’s public health community recently released Make No Little Plans, the first-ever comprehensive strategic plan for the public health sector. The plan outlines the sector’s five shared strategic goals and eight collective areas of focus for the next three to five years.

Make No Little Plans is a roadmap that will help Ontarians become the healthiest people in the world, calling for strong partnerships across all sectors to work towards:

  • Giving children the best start in life
  • Improving the prevention and control of infectious diseases through immunization
  • Getting more Ontarians to exercise more, eat better, not smoke and drink less alcohol
  • Influencing municipal planning and policy to reinforce the strong link between community planning and health outcomes
  • Strengthening the public health sector’s capacity, infrastructure and emergency preparedness

Sounds great…doesn’t it?

Especially when we consider that 60 % of all Ontario deaths in 2007 were attributable to five factors…

  • smoking,
  • unhealthy alcohol consumption,
  • poor diet,
  • physical inactivity
  • and high stress

…and that Ontarians with all five of these risk factors are losing on average…almost 20 years of life.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, all of this unhealthiness has created an economic problem – 25% of all publicly funded health care costs are due to preventable illnesses – diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc) – with that that number growing year after year after year.

And since no one wants to keep paying higher and higher taxes, the government is getting serious with their No Little Plan plan.

no-little-plans

Fingers crossed that the plan works…because I am sick and tired of seeing my countrymen looking more like the uber-pudgy BEFORE picture than the super-studly AFTER picture.

I am also sick of seeing my taxes go up and up and up…but that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

So…what happens now?

To be honest, I have no idea. The No Little Plan calls for all sorts of sectors to be involved:

public-health-partnerships

Does anyone see a potential problem?

I do….Nowhere amongst all these very smart and dedicated people do I see any mention of the PUBLIC.

I see no mention of parents groups or community associations or social activists or any other the other grassroots organizations that can turn a bunch of strangers into a tight-knit and vibrant community.

For example, I know a LOT of fitness professionals in Toronto who would be willing to donate their time & expertise to help make their city a fitter, healthier place. I also know members of my neighborhood residents’ association who would gladly donate their time and expertise to help create healthier, fitter neighborhoods across the city.

But no one is speaking to them. And that’s a shame.

Because in a world where social media gives power to the individual, governments really need to start moving away from their top-down approach to policy and start incorporating input from (and ceding power to) the grassroots.

– End of rant –

Seriously, I am excited that my provincial government is taking steps to help improve the health of it’s citizenry. It’s a truly noble and truly big plan. Something we could all be proud of.

make-healthy-change-happen

“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.”

Daniel Burnham, Chicago architect. (1846-1912)

Reference

Dwelling On Stressful Events Can Make You Sick

University of Ohio researchers have found that when people “were asked to dwell on stressful events, their levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of tissue inflammation, rose”. This is the first study to directly measure the physical effect that obsessing on negative events has on our bodies. “Much of the past work on this subject has looked at this in non-experimental designs. Researchers have asked people to report their tendency to ruminate, and then looked to see if it connected to physiological issues (ie cortisol levels). It’s been correlational for the most part,” said lead researcher, Dr. Peggy Zoccola.

why-rumination-dwelling-obs

In this new study, Dr. Zoccola et al recruited 34 healthy young women and “asked each to give a speech about her candidacy for a job to two interviewers in white laboratory coats, who listened with stone-faced expressions”.

Half of the group was asked to contemplate their performance in the public speaking task, while the other half was asked to think about neutral images and activities, such as sailing ships or grocery store trips. The researchers drew blood samples that showed that the levels of C-reactive protein were significantly higher in the subjects who were asked to dwell on the speech. For these participants, the levels of the inflammatory marker continued to rise for at least one hour after the speech. During the same time period, the marker returned to starting levels in the subjects who had been asked to focus on other thoughts.

What does this mean to you?

  • C-reactive protein is produced as part of the immune system’s initial inflammatory response. It rises in response to traumas, injuries or infections in the body. In these short-term situations, it’s a good thing.

However, in when elevated levels of C-reactive protein become a chronic, day-to-day kind of thing…it’s not so good. “More and more, chronic inflammation is being associated with various chronic disorders and conditions, such as….heart disease, cancer, dementia and autoimmune diseases.” Conclusions

  1. The result of a single study should always be judged with a critical eye. More research is necessary before mainstream science and medicine will get on board.
  2. You don’t have to wait for mainstream medical approval to make use of this research. We all have stressful situations in our lives…lots of opportunities to obsess and dwell on how we were screwed over by our bosses or that jerk on the highway.

The next time you find yourself dwelling over some crappy event in your life…pay CLOSE ATTENTION to how your body feels.

  • Pay attention to your breathing – are you holding your breath?
  • Pay attenting to your temperature – do you feel warm, cold, normal? Are your hands sweaty, clammy?
  • Pay attention to your heartbeat
  • Look at your face in the mirror…what do you see
  • Pay attention to your muscles – tight or relaxed?
  • Listen to your emotions – anger, sadness, calm, happy?

And after you have collected all that data, ask yourself a question…

  • Is dwelling on this particulary stressful event good or bad for YOU?

 

Reference

 

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UNCLE SAM EXERCISE health-healthhabits-fitness

Exercise or Die

I know that this sounds like the crazed rant of a wheat-grass swilling fitness-nazi, but hear me out…

In a recent paper published in the Annals of Clinical and Laboratory Science, Dr. Joseph Knight crunched all of the available scientific data and came to the conclusion that “inactivity significantly increases the risk of numerous diseases/disorders, including several forms of cancer, diabetes, hypertension, coronary and cerebrovascular diseases, overweight/obesity, and all-cause mortality, among others. Unless there is a reversal of this sedentary lifestyle, the incidence of these diseases/disorders will increase, life expectancy will decrease, and medical costs will continue to rise”.

  • This means that you probably won’t get to retire the South Pacific to live out your golden years, bounce your grand-kids on your knee or grow old and grey with your spouse.
  • And before you die, you will spend years and years dealing with all of the fun stuff associated with cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and morbid obesity.

Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?

But maybe you think this is just speculation…maybe you’re a “show me the facts” kind of person.

Here are some Facts

  • In 2004, the CDC concluded that 300,000 to 400,000 Americans died from poor diet and physical inactivity – that 16% of all deaths.
  • In 2002, the World Health Organization estimated that there are 2,000,000 deaths w0rldwide each year from physical inactivity.

If that isn’t scary enough, we can look at the studies which show that “long-lived species are more efficient in cellular maintenance than short lived species, suggesting that enhancement of the body’s maintenance systems may slow the aging process. Since aging results from the accumulation of cellular damage, interventions in poor lifestyles may prevent damage, promote repair, and thereby increase life expectancy. In fact, about two-thirds of the major causes of death are, to a significant degree, lifestyle related.” And as noted by Mokdad et al, the major “actual causes of death” in the year 2000 were physical inactivity and poor nutrition.

  • Tobacco (435 000 deaths; 18.1% of total US deaths)
  • Poor diet and physical inactivity (400 000 deaths; 16.6%)
  • Alcohol consumption (85 000 deaths; 3.5%).

Other actual causes of death were microbial agents (75 000), toxic agents (55 000), motor vehicle crashes (43 000), incidents involving firearms (29 000), sexual behaviors (20 000), and illicit use of drugs (17 000).

What does physical inactivity actually do to your body?

According to Dr. Walter Bortz, “our cultural sedentariness, recently acquired, lies at the base of much human ill-being. Physical inactivity predictably leads to deterioration of many body functions. A number of these effects coexist so frequently in our society that they merit inclusion in a specific syndrome, the disuse syndrome. The identifying characteristics of the syndrome are cardiovascular vulnerability, obesity, musculoskeletal fragility, depression and premature aging’.

And since this way-too-easily reproducible syndrome affects the young as well as the old, we can not blame “normal aging” for the onset of the diseases related to the Disuse Syndrome.

And as we know, health care doesn’t come cheap. What do all of these lifestyle diseases cost us?

In 1987, “the direct and indirect costs of sedentary lifestyle to chronic health conditions were reported to be in excess of $150 billion (cost in 2000 dollars for 1987 incidences) (Pratt, Macera & Wang, 2000). As health care costs are $1.3 trillion/year in the US, a rough approximation is that physical inactivity accounts for approximately 15% of the US health care budget.

But it doesn’t have to be this way

The NIH reported in 2009 that…

  1. Exercise improves quality of life
  2. Quality of life improvements are dose dependent on volume of exercise. Small amount of exercise = small improvement to Q of L. Large amount of exercise = large improvement to Q of L.
  3. Q of L improvements were independent to weight loss.

And if that wasn’t enough proof for you, we can look at another pile of research which shows that while quality of life, physical balance, flexibility, mental health, etc naturally decline over the years, being physically active significantly slows down these “natural” signs of aging.

In fact, it has been shown that seniors can significantly reverse the severity of these conditions after taking up an exercise routine.

Conclusion

Thanks to advances in technology, modern humans no longer have to live the physically punishing lives of our ancestors.

  • This is good – it allows us to develop our minds, live longer, live better, etc..
  • Unfortunately, it has also made us sick, fat and lazy.

Your takeaway from this research?

  • Exercise or die.

UNCLE SAM EXERCISE health-healthhabits-fitness

Reference

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Stop Heart Disease with HIIT?

  • HIIT workouts are great for fat loss
  • HIIT workouts save your time
  • HIIT workouts are way more fun than slogging away the miles on a treadmill
  • HIIT workouts make you fitter faster

But…they sometimes scare the crap out of newbies….who wonder if such high intensity workouts are going to cause their de-conditioned hearts to explode inside their chest cavities.

And since I am not a cutting-edge cardiologist, I find it best to check with the experts before shooting my mouth off about the awesomeness of HIIT.

Luckily for us, some of the big brains at the Montreal Heart Institute have just published another study extolling the virtues of HIIT workouts for the rehabilitation of their patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction.

In this study, they compared the circulatory (hemodynamic) respones to:

  1. a 8 min HIIT workout
  2. 22 minute moderate-intensity continuous exercise (aka cardio) style of workout

Their findings?

  1. The HIIT workout was well tolerated by the test subjects and produced no significant ventricular arrhythmias and (or) abnormal blood pressure responses
  2. Compared with the cardio workout, the HIIT workout produced a similar circulatory response (blood pressure, stroke volume, etc) to the cardio workout
  3. Both workouts also produced similar C(a-v)O2 responses. This is a measurement of how much oxygen is absorbed from the arteries into the rest of the body.

Their Conclusion

HIIT may be an efficient exercise training modality in patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction.

What does this mean to you?

If the leading edge cardio researchers are looking at HIIT as an effective treatment for HEART DISEASE patients, then it might just be good for you too.

Reference

Brainwashed to be Fat?

I am a big believer in people accepting personal behavior for their own actions…. and in-actions.

Regarding obesity, while a large percentage of obese people do live with conditions (genetic, environmental, financial) that increase their odds of porking out, we can’t ignore the fact that most obese people make horrendous choices when it comes to the food they eat.

But what if you knew that…

  • Large food companies use psychological techniques designed to brainwash us into eating specific products?
  • And that the foods they’re convincing us to buy have contributed directly to the lifestyle diseases that are bankrupting our healthcare systems?

  • And what if you knew that government subsidies have artificially lowered the costs of some foods?
  • And that those artificially inexpensive foods are the main ingredients in those very high-profit / high-obesity foods you are being brainwashed to purchase.

Would it annoy you to know that we’ve combined the worst of free market principles…

  • Companies using psychological manipulation to drive sales

…with the worst of government intervention

  • Billion dollars of subsidies leading to a rapid decline in the health of citizens and exploding healthcare costs.

Would that annoy you?

see-no-evil-speak-no-evil-h

Or have you been brainwashed too?

apple

An Apple a Day DOES Keep the Doctor Away

Grandma was right….An apple a day does keep the doctor away.

Here’s how….

Researchers have found that “consumption of one apple a day for four weeks lowered the blood levels of oxidized LDL – (aka the “bad” cholesterol) – by 40 percent”.  And as we know, high LDL numbers leads to hardening of the arteries, heart disease and an early death.

[box type=”note”]Taking capsules containing polyphenols, a type of antioxidant found in apples, had a similar, but not as large, effect.[/box]

“When LDL becomes oxidized, it takes on a form that begins atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries,” said lead researcher Dr. Robert DiSilvestro.”We got a tremendous effect against LDL being oxidized with just one apple a day for four weeks.”

How tremendous???

The difference was similar to that found between people with normal coronary arteries versus those with coronary artery disease.

All by eating an apple a day for four weeks.

[box type=”note”]This study was funded by an apple industry group. This doesn’t invalidate the science but it bears mentioning.[/box]

Study Highlights

  • Dr. DiSilvestro described daily apple consumption as significantly more effective at lowering oxidized LDL than other antioxidants he has studied, including the spice-based compound curcumin, green tea and tomato extract.
  • For this study, the researchers recruited 16 nonsmoking healthy adults between the ages of 40 and 60 who had a history of eating apples less than twice a month and who didn’t take supplements containing polyphenols or other plant-based concentrates.
  • The test subjects ate a large Red or Golden Delicious apple purchased at a Columbus-area grocery store daily for four weeks; 17 took capsules containing 194 milligrams of polyphenols a day for four weeks; and 18 took a placebo containing no polyphenols.
  • Not surprisingly, the placebo group saw no change in oxidized LDL levels

But what about the group that took the polyphenol capsules…

“We think the polyphenols account for a lot of the effect from apples, but we did try to isolate just the polyphenols, using about what you’d get from an apple a day,” DiSilvestro said. “We found the polyphenol extract did register a measurable effect, but not as strong as the straight apple. That could either be because there are other things in the apple that could contribute to the effect, or, in some cases, these bioactive compounds seem to get absorbed better when they’re consumed in foods.”

Conclusions

  1. Apples are good for you.
  2. Polyphenol supplements are good for you…but may require higher doses to match up to Mother Nature’s version.
  3. It’s apple season here in Canada, and I have a basket of Macintoshes sitting on my kitchen table.

Reference

Childhood Obesity Leads to Heart Disease

Dutch researchers have found that 2/3 of severely obese children (aged 2–18 yrs) have been diagnosed with at least one cardiovascular risk factor:

  • 56% of the kids had hypertension,
  • 14% had high blood glucose,
  • 0.7% had type 2 diabetes,
  • 54% had low HDL-cholesterol

Even scarier….62% of severely obese children aged ≤12 years already had one or more cardiovascular risk factors.

Study Highlights

  • The definition of severe obesity started at a body mass index (BMI) of 20.5 for a 2 year old, at 31 for a 12 year old, and at 35 for an 18 year old.
  • Only one child’s obesity was attributable to medical rather than lifestyle factors.
  • Nearly one in three severely obese children came from one parent families.

Study Conclusion

“The prevalence of impaired fasting glucose in these children is worrying, considering the increasing prevalence worldwide of type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents,” write the authors. “Likewise, the high prevalence of hypertension and abnormal lipids may lead to cardiovascular disease in young adulthood,” they add. And they conclude: “Internationally accepted criteria for defining childhood obesity and guidelines for early detection and treatment of severe childhood obesity and underlying ill health are urgently needed.”

My Conclusion

Childhood obesity isn’t cute… and parents who enable it are doing their kids a HUGE disservice. 

 

Reference

22 Recommendations for a Healthier Ontario

Earlier today, Cancer Care Ontario and Public Health Ontario released a report detailing 22 recommendations to improve the health of Ontario.

And some Ontarians are losing their minds over some of the “recommendations”

What do you think?

http://2071264.polldaddy.com/s/22-recommendations-for-a-healthier-ontario?iframe=1

The Top 9 Potassium Foods

  • Potassium has been shown to lower hypertension.
  • Potassium has been shown to stave off cardiovascular disease
  • It does this by balancing out the harmful effects of high levels of sodium

And considering that 1/3 of us of have hypertension and 103% of us eat too much salt, I decided to put together a list of the most potassium rich foods you can find.

Image from Angie at Food Musings – click on the image for the recipe

Drum roll please…

      1. Potatoes – 1 medium baked potato with skin – 1081 mg
      2. Halibut – 1/2 fillet – 840 mg
      3. Sweet Potatoes – 1 medium baked with skin – 694 mg
      4. Bananas – 1 medium – 422 mg
      5. Milk – 1 cup – 382 mg
      6. Cantaloupes – 1/4 medium – 368 mg
      7. White Beans – 1/4 cup – 297 mg
      8. Tomatoes – 1 medium – 292 mg – Tomato Paste – 1 tbsp – 166 mg – Tomato Sauce – 1/2 cup – 405 mg – Tomato Juice – 1 cup – 556 mg
      9. Oranges – 1 medium – 237 mg – Orange Juice – 1 cup – 496 mg

In choosing these foods, I tried to make it a usable list, with foods that people are fairly likely to buy and in quantities that actually make sense.

For example, the top 3 potassium foods as listed by the USDA are as follows:

      1. Tomato products, canned, paste, without salt added -1 cup – 2657 mg potassium
      2. Orange juice, frozen concentrate, unsweetened, undiluted – 6-fl-oz can – 1436 mg potassium
      3. Beet greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt – 1 cup – 130 mg potassium
From this list, tomato paste looks like an amazing source of potassium…until you realize that the tested portion size was 1 cup.
.
What are the odds you’re going to eat 1 cup of tomato paste for dinner tonight?
.
But a nice plate of pan-fried halibut with some mashed potatoes and a glass of tomato juice (Bloody Mary) might be do-able.
.

Reference

    • USDA – Top Potassium Foods

Are Natural Trans Fats Good For You?

According to this study, America’s health experts may be completely wrong about natural trans fats.

A review of the scientific literature has shown that trans fats from ruminant animals such as dairy and beef cattle may have significant positive health effects.

That’s right…natural trans fats may actually be good for you.

the american heart association loves red meat

The Science

During a review of the current epidemiological and clinical studies into the health effects of trans fats, researchers from Metabolic and Cardiovascular Diseases Laboratory at the University of Alberta found that naturally occurring trans fats have a different fatty acid profile than industrial vegetable based trans fats.

They concluded that this difference in fatty acid profile contributes to its different (ie healthier) physiological effects.

They found that while industrially produced trans fats do indeed show a strong link to coronary heart disease, the same can’t be said for natural trans fat consumption.

However….before all my Paleo and low-carb cousins get too excited, this is just the beginning of the research process.

Clinical studies investigating the cause and effect relationship between industrial and natural trans fats and their effect on our health are essentially non-existent. And who knows when they’ll get around to looking at the difference between factory-farm beef and old-school grass-fed beef.

Either way, the research is promising and gave me a warm feeling in my tummy as I ate my steak & egg breakfast this morning.

.


Reference

Just when you thought that the world couldn't get any fatter….

According to a paper published in The Lancet, there will be 65,000,000 more obese Americans by 2030.

And it’s not just the U.S. of A.

Great Britain is aiming to plop another 11,000,000 obese citizens and their accompanying health conditions onto their already overburdened National Health Service.

And those health conditions don’t come cheap.

fat world fat globe

 

In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that medical costs associated with the treatment of new obesity related disease will increase by $48-66 billion per year. And considering how much of that cost will be borne by the American taxpayer, perhaps American politicians should stop mocking Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program and start thinking up better ways to cut the fat.

And here’s why:

The researchers predicted the following impacts for the U.S. by 2030:

  • Obesity prevalence among men will rise from 32% in 2008 to approximately 50%
  • Obesity prevalence among women will rise from 35% to between 45% and 52%.
  • 7.8 million extra cases of diabetes
  • 6.8 million more cases of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • 539,000 additional cases of cancer
  • Annual spending on obesity-related diseases would rise by 13-16%, leading to 2.6% increase in national health spending.
  • Total medical costs associated with treatment of these preventable diseases are estimated to increase by $48-66 billion/year.

For the U.K., researchers predicted the following developments by 2030:

  • Prevalence of obesity among men would increase from 26% to between 41—48%.
  • Prevalence of obesity among women would increase from 26% to 35-43%.
  • 668 000 more cases of diabetes
  • 461,000 more cases of heart disease and stroke
  • 139,000 additional cases of cancer.
  • In the U.K., annual spending on obesity-related health would increase even more rapidly than in the U.S. due to its older population, rising 25%.

Conclusion

The next 20 years are going to be a great time to be a bariatric surgeon.

Reference

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Is High Intensity Exercise the Fountain of Youth?

In a study presented today at European Society of Cardiology Congress, researchers have made a bold claim.

If you want to live a nice long healthy life, the intensity of your workout is more important than the duration.

During their research, they found that men who cycled with fast intensity survived 5.3 years longer than slow cyclists. Average intensity male cyclists survived 2.9 years longer than the slow cyclists.

For women, the averages dropped to 3.9 years for fast cyclists and 2.2 for average speed cyclists.

For both sexes, these numbers were even more pronounced for coronary heart disease mortality.

According to Dr. Peter Schnor, “this study suggests that a greater part of the daily physical activity in leisure time should be vigorous, based on the individuals own perception of intensity”. And it’s not just cycling. Dr. Schnor has published similar results for all-cause mortality in relation to walking.

So there you go….another great reason to cut back on mindless treadmill workouts and embrace my  HIIT and HIRT workouts.

Reference

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What is MGmin LDL Cholesterol & why does it want to kill you?

What is MGmin LDL cholesterol?

  • MGmin LDL is a version of LDL that has been modified by methylglyoxal (MG)
  • MG is a potent arginine-directed glycating agent that is formed due to high blood sugar and related inflammation
  • As a result, the plasma concentration of MG is increased 2x to 5x in patients with diabetes

But you’re not diabetic…so this doesn’t matter to you.

Or does it?

  • According to this study, minimal modification of LDL by MG decreases the particle size of pre-existing LDL cholesterol (similar to that of sdLDL) and….
  • makes them stick together (increased aggregation) and….
  • makes them stick to the walls of your arteries.

And that ain’t good.

Because if you take a whole bunch of small, dense LDL particles, bunch them together and then glue them to the inner wall of a coronary artery, you end up with:

  • narrowed arteries
  • reduced blood flow
  • increased chance of rupture
  • increased chance of blood clots
  • increased chance of coronary heart disease (CHD)
  • increased chance of heart attack and
  • increased chance of death.

And that, most definitely, ain’t good.

So, where do we go from here?

  1. The researchers will continue researching in an attempt to discover treatments that could help neutralize MGmin LDLs harmful effects on patients’ arteries.
  2. You, however, are not a scientist. Your job is to cut back on the pizza & donuts and download my FREE Ebook – A Paleo Diet for the 21st Century.

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Reference

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Obese Teens and their Hidden Metabolic Abnormalities

In addition to all of the social, mental & emotional crap that goes along with being a fat teenager, researchers have found that even when obese teens ‘feel’ healthy, blood tests show that they are likely to have high levels of:

And it gets worse – high levels of inflammation, insulin resistance and homocysteine means that the process of developing heart disease has already begun to happen.

The Study

Researchers compared the diets and blood test results of 33 obese youths (ages 11 to 19) with 19 age-matched youths of normal weight.

Blood tests revealed that the obese teens had:

  • C-reactive protein levels almost ten times higher than controls, indicating more inflammation in the body.
  • Insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes, with greater amounts of insulin needed to keep blood sugar levels normal.
  • Homocysteine levels 62 percent higher than controls. High levels of the amino acid homocysteine are related to greater heart disease risk.
  • Total glutathione levels 27.9 percent lower than controls, with oxidized glutathione levels 125 percent higher. A higher ratio of oxidized to non-oxidized glutathione indicates oxidative stress, an imbalance in the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the body’s ability to neutralize them. Oxidative stress leads to more inflammation and an increase in blood vessel damage and stiffening.

“Looking at the numbers you would think these children might feel sick, but they did not. They are apparently feeling well, but there is a lot going on beneath the surface.”

Conclusion

Don’t assume that your kid is going to grow out of his or her ‘baby fat’.

Obesity is a medical symptom telling you that their body is not working as well as it should be.

A diet that is high in calories and low in nutrition sets off a whole bunch of metabolic processes that often lead straight to obesity…and inflammation and insulin resistance and heart disease.

So, stop being their friend…and start being a parent.

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FYI – this is the diet your kids are supposed to be eating.

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Reference

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Mainstream Medicine is Insane

Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

If this definition is true, then I have to conclude that mainstream medicine is insane.

Insane because even though our modern lifestyle is the single biggest threat to our health and vitality…our medical experts keep dispensing the same tired lifestyle advice.

  • Low intensity cardio 2-3 x per week
  • Reduce your calories
  • Eat less fat

And yet, as a species, we keep getting fatter and weaker and sicker.

All the while, there are outlier theories producing amazing results….while being ignored and/or disparaged by the  “experts”.

  • New dietary theories
  • New psychological theories
  • New pharmacological theories
  • New exercise theories
  • New spiritual theories

And while most of these new theories will most likely turn out to be just as ineffective as our love affair with everything fat free, aren’t we doing ourselves a disservice by not investigating each of them with an open yet critical mind?

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health fitness exercise healthhabits

HIIT is better than Cardio for your Heart

Let’s say you’ve got high blood pressure…and stiffness in your arteries.

Whatcha gonna do?

Well….if you’re like most people, you just found out about your problem from your doctor. And you’re about to get a prescription for a bunch of drugs and a recommendation to hop onto the nearest treadmill and do lots and lots of low intensity / long duration cardio-vascular exercise.

But, what if your doctor is wrong?

  • What if…instead of spending hours glued to the seat of an exercise bike, you could be doing 2 x 40 minute interval training sessions per week.
  • And what if…by doing those 2 x 40 minute interval training sessions per week, you were lowering your BP just as well as your cardio cousins.
  • And what if you were improving your arterial stiffness even better than those cardio junkies.

According to this study, that’s exactly what you would be doing.

healthy-heart

 

Common Sense Conclusion(s)

  • If you have hypertension & arterial stiffness, talk to your doctor before you start any exercise program. It just makes sense.
  • Tell your doc about this research.
  • Find out how good/bad your heart really is.
  • And maybe consider doing both types of workouts.

And do some more reading – high blood pressure is no joke.

 

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Is Exercise the Ultimate Antioxidant?

 

According to the latest research, strength training is one of your best defenses against oxidative stress.

In fact, after a mere 6 weeks of of workouts, test subjects saw significant improvement in two key markers of oxidative stress

And when you consider that oxidative stress is directly responsible for atherosclerosisParkinson’s diseaseheart failuremyocardial infarctionAlzheimer’s diseasefragile X syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome and aging in general, perhaps we should stop selling gym memberships based on getting a wicked six-pack and focus more on….living healthier, living longer, living better, etc…

The Research

J Strength Cond Res 24(9): 2491-2497, 2010

The purposes of this study were:

  1. to determine whether acute resistance exercise training (RET) induces oxidative stress,
  2. to determine whether chronic RET decreases oxidative stress level at rest condition in previously untrained men,
  3. and also to investigate how the RET intensity influences the training-induced oxidative stress response.

Sixteen young men who did not have RET experience in the past were randomly divided in 2 groups.

The hypertrophy-intensity group performed 3 sets of 12 repetitions at an intensity corresponding to 70% of 1 repetition maximum (1RM), whereas the strength-intensity group performed 3 sets of 6 repetitions at an intensity corresponding to 85% of 1RM.

The workouts  involved 6 exercises, and it was performed 3 times a week on nonconsecutive days for 6 weeks.

Blood samples were obtained just before (pre-RET) and immediately after RET (post-RET) on the first day of the first week, on the last day of the fourth and sixth weeks.

After 6 weeks of training, pre-RET values of malondialdehyde (MDA) significantly decreased and pre-RET values of glutathione (GSH)significantly increased in both hypertrophy- and strength-intensity groups.

These alterations occurred independently of training intensity.

Conclusion

This study indicated that hypertrophy- and strength-intensity whole-body RET performed regularly for 6 weeks, decreased MDA concentration and increased GSH level in healthy young men.

Results suggest that chronic RET has protective effects against oxidative stress similar to aerobic exercises and that these effects seem to be independent of the training intensity.

 

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too many hours sitting down has be proven to shorten your life span - get off your butt and move

Sitting on your butt is going to kill you

Sorry to be the bringer of bad news, but…a new study tells us that the time you spend sitting on your butt is shortening your life.

Yep. You heard right.

  • Watching tv
  • Surfing the net
  • Driving your car
  • Working at your desk
  • Even reading your favorite blog – Health Habits

All of these activities are killing you.

get-up-and-run-get-off-your-ass1

According to the researchers, being physically active doesn’t make up for all those hours spent sitting on your butt.

The Research

Researchers analyzed survey responses from 123,216 individuals (53,440 men and 69,776 women) who had no history of cancer, heart attack, stroke, or emphysema/other lung disease enrolled in the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention II study in 1992.

They examined the amount of time spent sitting and physical activity in relation to mortality between 1993 and 2006.

They found that more leisure time spent sitting was associated with higher risk of mortality, particularly in women.

  • Women who reported more than six hours per day of sitting were 37 % more likely to die during the time period studied than those who sat fewer than 3 hours a day.
  • Men who sat more than 6 hours a day were 18 % more likely to die than those who sat fewer than 3 hours per day.

Associations were stronger for cardiovascular disease mortality than for cancer mortality.

And while being physically active didn’t eliminate the effect of all those hours of sitting, when they compared the combination of excessive sitting with a lack of physical activity, the picture looked even worse.

  • Women and men who both sat more and were less physically were 94% and 48% more likely, respectively, to die compared with those who reported sitting the least and being most active.

So…Let’s Recap

Women

  • With exercise, women who sit were 37% more likely to kick the bucket
  • Without exercise, that number jumps to 94%

Men

  • With exercise, male couch potatoes were 18% more likely to croak
  • Without exercise – 48% more likely

And why do they think that sitting on our collective keisters is so bad for us?

“Several factors could explain the positive association between time spent sitting and higher all-cause death rates,” said Dr. Patel. “Prolonged time spent sitting, independent of physical activity, has been shown to have important metabolic consequences, and may influence things like triglycerides, high density lipoprotein, cholesterol, fasting plasma glucose, resting blood pressure, and leptin, which are biomarkers of obesity and cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.”

Conclusion

Get off your butt and move around a little

Reference

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21st Century Disease

Back in the olden times, humans died of scarcity.

Scarcity of:

  • Food (starvation)
  • Medical Knowledge (infant mortality, germs, viruses, infections, etc)
  • Cleanliness (germs & cooties)
  • Technology (hunting dinner could quickly turn into being hunted for dinner)

Luckily for us, our ancestors were hard workers and developed strategies for solving most of these problems.

  • Food (agriculture)
  • Medical Knowledge (Gregory House M.D.)
  • Cleanliness (washing your hands with soap)
  • Technology (food production, medicine, transportation, etc)

Unfortunately for us, our hard working ancestors may have been just a little too smart for our own good.

In our desire to live longer & better, some of our “lifestyle improvements” have turned around and bit us squarely on the butt.

We have gotten so good at:

  • Food (calories) production
  • Labor saving devices (automobiles, microwaves, roombas)
  • Entertainment
  • Information delivery (computers, internet)
  • and so on…

That we are now dying due to excess:

sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Scientists call this condition by a host of different names – Metabolic Syndrome, syndrome X, insulin resistance syndrome, Reaven’s syndrome, and CHAOS (Australia).

I prefer the name 21st Century Disease.

Despite the different names, the scientists all agree that this “syndrome”  is caused directly by the very lifestyle that our ancestors worked so hard to create.

Ironic, ain’t it?.

Note – It’s obvious that there is a still lot of scarcity in the world. It just doesn’t happen to most of us. Without getting all preachy, there are lots of ways we can share some of our abundance with others who weren’t born into abundance. One of my favorites is Kiva.

The Secret of Senior Fitness

The diet/weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar business.

So is the healthcare industry…

and the pharmaceutical industry…

and the health insurance biz.

Billions and billions and billions and billions.

In contrast, the amount of money being spent on health promotion and disease prevention last year in the United States was $11.78.

But, that’s okay.

Because, according to a group of studies published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers have identified a low cost solution that “not only helps maintain good health, but may even prevent the onset of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, osteoarthritis and dementia”.

And considering that the Baby Boomers have begun to enter their senior years, senior citizen health & fitness is about to become a major social & economic driver in the coming years.

So, we have to decide:

  • Do we want to spend billions & billions attempting to treat the symptoms of heart disease, dementia, osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer, alzheimers….?
  • Or do we want to spend $11.78 and prevent these diseases from happening in the first place?

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The Secret of Senior Fitness

So what is this low-cost secret to senior fitness?

According to these studies presented in this month’s Archives of Internal Medicine, it’s EXERCISE

  • Study # 1 showed that seniors with higher levelsof midlife physical activity experienced exceptionalhealth status among women who survive to older ages (70+) and reinforce the conclusion that physical activity improves overallhealth as we age.
  • A second study looked at the effectiveness of targeted exercise programs on the health-related quality of life of institutionalized senior citizens. Amongst this demographic, exercise produced an improvement in the overall quality of daily activities – walking, continence, nutrition and mental cognition.
  • A third study showed that 1 to 2 resistance training workouts per week produced significant improvements in the cognitive functions of 65 to 75 year old women.
  • A fourth study showed that a exercise program focusing on intensity helped women (65+) improve their bone mineral density, fall rate and cardio heart disease risk factors…with no increase in direct costs.
  • The fifth study showed that people 55+ are much less likely to experience cognitive impairment (dementia, alzheimers) as they glide into their senior years.

These studies back up previous research showing that:

  • High blood sugar levels significantly increase your risk of cognitive impairment (link)
  • Overweight/Obese seniors (60 – 75) were able to increase their physical fitness, increase their muscle mass and lose body-fat…all in 4 months. (link)
  • Daily physical activity is able to counteract  fat genes (FTO) (link)

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So, what are you supposed to do with all this info?

  1. Stay active
  2. Encourage your friends & family to be active. Healthcare costs associated with inactivity & poor diet and lifestyle choices are going to skyrocket as the bulk of the baby boomer population enters their senior years. Everybody ready for another economic meltdown?
  3. Encourage your employer / government to get proactive about rising healthcare costs by spending a little more on health promotion / disease prevention. Public health & fitness facilities and programs need to become a priority.

And, to do my part, I will post an article tomorrow about the type of fitness program seniors should be doing.

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Related Posts

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Billion Healthcare Dollars

Mainstream Medicine may finally be catching on.

In a major shift of emphasis in the battle against cardiovascular disease, the American Heart Association is urging people to embrace prevention rather than just try to avoid risks long associated with the world’s leading killer.

The Dallas-based organization unveiled a list of seven steps people can take to help prevent heart attacks and strokes and live healthy lives well into old age. The recommendations, which include staying smoke-free, eating healthy foods and getting regular exercise, are all familiar.

But leaders hope a more pro-active message comprising the entire package of steps will help blunt the impact of the obesity epidemic and build on four decades of progress against the ravages of cardiovascular disease.

“We’ve always looked at this from the risk side of the equation,” said Donald Lloyd-Jones, head of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago. “It’s important to push the agenda of promoting health, not just avoiding disease.”

Dr. Lloyd-Jones is lead author of a scientific statement being published in the AHA journal Circulation describing the science behind the strategy. The paper doesn’t break any new ground on heart-disease risk. Indeed, in addition to the steps on smoking, diet and exercise, the report urges people to control cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and a measure of healthy weight called body mass index.

Each of the recommendations has long been at the foundation of heart-disease prevention, but Dr. Lloyd-Jones says their impact taken as a whole hasn’t previously been appreciated.

By attaining goals in all seven steps, Dr. Lloyd-Jones said, people would achieve “ideal” cardiovascular health with a likelihood of living healthy lives well into old age.

  • Together, they amount to “a fountain of youth for the heart.”
  • So, here’s my question…. How do we move from telling to doing?

There is a big difference between knowing that you should do something and actually doing it. And, while education about disease prevention / health promotion is important, it still doesn’t get many big ole butts up off the sofa.

Reference

Type 1 Diabetes: The New Lifestyle Epidemic

You can’t watch the news today without hearing about the “obesity epidemic”.

In fact, recent research has shown that obesity is a bigger health threat than smoking.

But wait, it gets worse.

Now, we learn that our lifestyle has lead to an unprecedented increase in the rates of  Type 1 Diabetes.

According to medical journalist Dan Hurley, “the incidence of type 1 diabetes is now twice as high among children as it was in the 1980s, and 10 to 20 times more common than 100 years ago.”

While rising levels of type 2 diabetes are well known (and typically linked to increasing obesity), the corresponding rise in type 1, or “juvenile,” diabetes has rarely if ever been described in the news media, despite a substantial body of scientific evidence.

While widely accepted by leading diabetes researchers, the increase in type 1 has as yet received scant attention from leading diabetes advocacy organizations.

Scant attention???

I had no idea that the rates of Type 1 Diabetes had increased one iota.

Did you?

Hurley thinks that “the media has given so little coverage to the rise of type 1 because it simply doesn’t fit with the conventional wisdom that it’s supposed to be a super-rare disease caused by a genetic predisposition. Obviously, genes haven’t changed, so something in our environment or lifestyle has.”

Hmmmm, ye olde genetics vs epigentics debate.

And, once again, it looks like lifestyle is kicking some genetic butt.

But, what is it about our lifestyle that has caused this spike in Type 1 Diabetes?

In his new book, Diabetes Rising, Hurley examines five leading scientific hypotheses that offer an explanation:

  • The “accelerator hypothesis,” which asserts that the rising weight and height of children over the past century has “accelerated” their tendency to develop type 1 by putting the insulin-producing beta cells in their pancreases under stress.
  • The “sunshine hypothesis,” which holds that the increased time spent indoors is reducing children’s exposure to sunlight, which in turn reduces their level of vitamin D (the “sunshine vitamin”). Reduced levels of vitamin D, and reduced exposure to sunshine, have each been linked to an increased risk of type 1 diabetes.
  • The “hygiene hypothesis,” which holds that lack of exposure to once-prevalent pathogens results in autoimmune hypersensitivity, leading to destruction of the body’s insulin-producing beta cells by rogue white blood cells.
  • The “cow’s milk hypothesis,” which holds that exposure to cow’s milk in infant formula during the first six months of life wreaks havoc on the immune system and increases the risk to later develop type 1.
  • The “POP hypothesis,” which holds that exposure to persistent organic pollutants increases the risk of both types of diabetes. “

The book cites recent studies which show that back in 1890, the reported annual death rate from diabetes for children under the age of 15 was 1.3 per 100,000 children in the United States. “Because any death due to diabetes in those days had to be caused by what we now call type 1, researchers consider the 1.3 per 100,000 figure to be a rough estimate of the yearly incidence of new cases at that time,” Hurley writes. “In Denmark, the rate was fairly similar, about 2 per 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century. From that baseline, things took off.

By the mid-1980s, the yearly incidence of new cases of type 1 had jumped to 14.8 per 100,000 children in Colorado.

By the opening years of the 21st century, the incidence rate in six geographic areas of the United States, as measured in a new study run by the CDC, had climbed to 23.6 per 100,000 among non-Hispanic white children.

The rates were 68 percent higher than those reported in Colorado in the 1980s, and more than twice as high as reported in Philadelphia in the 1990s.”

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Well, that doesn’t sound very good.

Click HERE for articles about diabetes.

Did You Take Your Vitamin D This Morning?

  • Winter is on the way people.
  • And along with the frigid temperatures and slushy sidewalks, winter means less sunshine.
  • And less sunshine means less Vitamin D.

And, according to this study, less Vitamin D means you have an increased risk of stroke, heart disease and death.

vitamin-D

 

The Study

For more than a year, the Intermountain Medical Center research team followed 27,686 patients who were 50 years of age or older with no prior history of cardiovascular disease. The participants had their blood Vitamin D levels tested during routine clinical care. The patients were divided into three groups based on their Vitamin D levels – normal (over 30 nanograms per milliliter), low (15-30 ng/ml), or very low (less than 15 ng/ml). The patients were then followed to see if they developed some form of heart disease.

Researchers found that patients with very low levels of Vitamin D were 77 percent more likely to die, 45 percent more likely to develop coronary artery disease, and 78 percent were more likely to have a stroke than patients with normal levels. Patients with very low levels of Vitamin D were also twice as likely to develop heart failure than those with normal Vitamin D levels.

The researchers concluded “that among patients 50 years of age or older, even a moderate deficiency of Vitamin D levels was associated with developing coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke, and death,” she says. “This is important because Vitamin D deficiency is easily treated.

If increasing levels of Vitamin D can decrease some risk associated with these cardiovascular diseases, it could have a significant public health impact. When you consider that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in America, you understand how this research can help improve the length and quality of people’s lives.”

So, did you take your Vitamin D today?

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Reference

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Researchers Find the Answer to Senior Citizen Heart Health

healthy-heart

Researchers have discovered a cutting edge technique to help senior citizens improve the elasticity of their arteries – thereby reducing their risk of heart disease and stroke.

Led by Dr. Kenneth Madden, the researchers were able to reduce arterial stiffness by 15 to 20% in only 3 months time.

But wait, it gets better.

Unlike most cardiovascular treatments, the cost of this new cure-all is…….nothing, zero, nada, rien…it’s free.

It’s free because the treatment is:

Exercise

Wow!!!

Exercise instead of drugs…who would have thought of that???

The Study

Dr. Madden divided his test subjects into two groups.

  1. The first group performed one hour of vigorous physical activity for one hour, three times a week for three months.
  2. The second group continued to live a sedentary lifestyle.

Subjects were classified as sedentary at the beginning of the study but gradually increased their fitness levels until they were working at 70 per cent of their maximum heart rate, using treadmills and cycling machines. They were supervised by a certified exercise trainer.

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And after three months, the exercise group was healthier, while the sedentary group wasn’t.

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So, as a public service to all of my 65+ readers (and those readers with friends & family who are 65+), I will be posting “no equipment necessary” workouts geared toward trainees who are boomer age and older.

Enjoy

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BTW, this post is for my Dad…who should be outside right now getting some exercise

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If you like what you see here, click here for updates

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Reference

Vinegar is a Fat-Burning, Waist Shrinking, Cholesterol Lowering Superfood

In yesterday’s post, I introduced you to a study which showed that plain ole’ vinegar is effective in suppressing body fat accumulation.

More specifically, the researchers found that laboratory mice fed a high-fat diet and given acetic acid developed significantly less body fat (up to 10 percent less) than other mice.

I was so excited by this low-tech, inexpensive weight loss trick that I contacted the author of the study.

And to my surprise, he emailed an even more recent study which looks at the fat-burning effects of vinegar on actual human beings….no more mice studies.

The Science

In this study, researchers investigated the effects of vinegar intake on the reduction of body-fat mass in obese Japanese students.

The 175 students were randomly assigned to three groups of similar body-weight, BMI and waist circumference.

During the 12 week study, the participants ingested 500ml daily of a beverage containing either 15 ml of apple vinegar (750 mg AcOH – acetic acid), 30 ml of vinegar (1500 mg AcOH) or 0 ml of vinegar (0 mg AcOH, placebo).

In place of vinegar, the placebo group ingested 1250 mg of lactate.

To make them more palatable, all beverages contained the equal amount of flavor and artificial sweetener.

The Results

After only 4 weeks, the vinegar-group participants saw their body-weight, BMI and body-fat percentages improve. These improvements continued  in a dose dependent manner for the entire 12 weeks

Translation: more vinegar = more fat loss

In addition to BF, BMI and BF%, waist circumference, waist-hip ratio, LDL cholesterol and serum TG (triglyceride) levels also fell (starting in week 8).

These results can be considered to be due to the body-fat loss because the VFA (visceral fat), SFA (subcutaneous fat) and TFA  (total fat) values were significantly lower in the vinegar groups than in the placebo group.

Does the vinegar make these
Does the vinegar make these “diet” chips?

Conclusion

15 ml (0.5 oz or 1 tbsp) of vinegar per day is enough to significantly improve your:

  • Body-Weight
  • BMI
  • Body-Fat Percentage
  • Waist Circumference
  • Waist-Hip ratio
  • LDL Cholesterol
  • Serum TG
  • Visceral Body-Fat, and
  • Subcutaneous Body-Fat

And considering that these health markers are associated with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and metabolic syndrome, perhaps it might be wise to consider adding a tbsp or two of vinegar to your daily diet.

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OxyCholesterol…the most serious cardiovascular health threat of all?

homer cholesterol

Researchers have found that a (virtually unknown to the public) form of cholesterol called oxycholesterol may be your most serious cardiovascular health threat.

“Total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), and the heart-healthy high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) are still important health issues,” says study leader Zhen-Yu Chen, Ph.D., of Chinese University of Hong Kong. “But the public should recognize that oxycholesterol is also important and cannot be ignored.

Our work demonstrated that oxycholesterol boosts total cholesterol levels and promotes atherosclerosis [“hardening of the arteries”] more than non-oxidized cholesterol.”

Q.     So, how do we get this oxidized cholesterol – oxycholesterol?

A.     Fried food, processed food, junk food…basically all of the food that makes you fat also has high levels of oxycholesterol. Quel surprise.

Scientists have known for years that a reaction between fats and oxygen, a process termed oxidation, produces oxycholesterol in the body.

  • Oxidation occurs, for instance, when fat-containing foods are heated, as in frying chicken or grilling burgers or steaks.
  • Food manufacturers produce oxycholesterol intentionally in the form of oxidized oils such as trans-fatty acids and partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils. When added to processed foods, those substances improve texture, taste and stability.

Until now, however, much of the research focused on oxycholesterol’s effects in damaging cells, DNA, and its biochemical effects in contributing to atherosclerosis. Dr. Chen believes this is one of the first studies on oxycholesterol’s effects in raising blood cholesterol levels compared to non-oxidized cholesterol.

In the new study, researchers compared the effects of a oxycholesterol rich diet to a diet rich in regular non-oxidized cholesterol.

The oxycholesterol group showed greater deposition of cholesterol in the lining of their arteries and a tendency to develop larger deposits of cholesterol. These fatty deposits, called atherosclerotic plaques, increase the risk for heart attack and stroke.

atherosclerosis

More importantly, oxycholesterol had undesirable effects on “artery function.”

Oxycholesterol reduced the elasticity of arteries, impairing their ability to expand and carry more blood.

In a healthy, elastic artery, expansion allows for more blood to flow through arteries that are partially blocked by plaques, potentially reducing the risk that a clot will form and cause a heart attack or stroke.

Luckily, a healthy diet rich in antioxidants can counter these effects, Chen said, noting that these substances may block the oxidation process that forms oxycholesterol.

Scientists do not know whether the popular anti-cholesterol drugs called statins lower oxycholesterol.

And how do we get a diet rich in antioxidants?

Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices….aka real food.

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If you like what you see here, click here for updates

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Reference

SuperFood: Beet Root

An interesting new study shows that drinking beet root juice boosts your stamina and could help you exercise for up to 16% longer.

The theory is that the nitrate contained in beet root juice leads to a reduction in oxygen uptake, making exercise less tiring.

And while the researchers are not yet sure of the exact mechanism that causes the nitrate in the beet root juice to boost stamina, they suspect it could be a result of the nitrate turning into nitric oxide in the body, reducing the oxygen cost of exercise.

In fact, drinking beet root juice reduces oxygen uptake and improves endurance better than any other known means, including training.

Including training! Obviously, this is big news for endurance athletes.

beetroot

The Science

The researchers gave the test subjects 500ml per day of organic beet root juice for six consecutive days before completing a series of tests, involving cycling on an exercise bike.

On another occasion, they were given a placebo of blackcurrant cordial for six consecutive days before completing the same cycling tests.

After drinking beet root juice the group was able to cycle for an average of 11.25 minutes, which is 92 seconds longer than when they were given the placebo.

Beet root supplementation resulted in a 19% reduction in the amplitude of the pulmonary O2 response during moderate cardio exercise

As an extra added bonus, the group that had consumed the beet root juice also had lower resting blood pressure. (systolic pressure dropped 6 mmHg)

This blood pressure benefit was also found in a 2008 study.

In that study, researchers discovered that within 1 hour of drinking 500ml of beet root juice, volunteers experienced a drop in blood pressure, with the peak drop 3 to 4 hours after ingestion.

Some degree of reduction continued to be observed until up to 24 hours after ingestion.

Researchers showed that the decrease in blood pressure was due to the chemical formation of nitrite from the dietary nitrate in the juice. The nitrate in the juice is converted in saliva, by bacteria on the tongue, into nitrite. This nitrite-containing saliva is swallowed, and in the acidic environment of the stomach is either converted into nitric oxide or re-enters the circulation as nitrite.

The peak time of reduction in blood pressure correlated with the appearance and peak levels of nitrite in the circulation, an effect that was absent in a second group of volunteers who refrained from swallowing their saliva during, and for 3 hours following, beet root ingestion.

This research suggests that drinking beet root juice, or consuming other nitrate-rich vegetables, might be a simple, effective and inexpensive way to reduce blood pressure and maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.

Conclusion

If you are interested in:

  • Lowering your blood pressure
  • Reducing your risk of heart disease
  • Increasing your aerobic endurance
  • and making you cardio sessions feel much, much easier

Drink your beet juice.

And if you can’t get your hands on some fresh beet root juice, there are a number of GreenFood/SuperFood/Antioxidant drinks that have beet root powder as an ingredient.

Related Posts

Reference

High Carb Diet = Heart Attack

IHOPs Butterscotch Rocks Pancake....mmmmmm distended brachial arteries
IHOPs Butterscotch Rocks Pancake....mmmmmm distended brachial arteries

For the first time in medical history, researchers have been able to visualize what happens inside our arteries before, during and after eating high carb foods.

And it ain’t a pretty sight.

Looking inside the arteries of students eating a variety of foods, Dr. Michael Shechter ( Tel Aviv University visualized exactly what happens inside the body when the wrong foods for a healthy heart are eaten.

He found that foods with a high glycemic index resulted in distended brachial arteries for several hours.

Dr. Shechter continues:

Elasticity of arteries anywhere in the body can be a measure of heart health.

But when aggravated over time, a sudden expansion of the artery wall can cause a number of negative health effects, including reduced elasticity, which can cause heart disease or sudden death.

So, let’s recap:

High GI foods (bread, sugar, desserts, pop, pizza, cereal, 99% of the food sold at any fast food restaurant…) leads to distended brachial arteries which can lead to heart attacks which can lead to death.

The Science

Using 56 healthy volunteers, the researchers looked at four groups.

  1. Group One ate a cornflake mush mixed with milk,
  2. Group Two ate a pure sugar mixture,
  3. Group Three ate bran flakes,
  4. Group Four was given a placebo (water).

Over four weeks, Dr. Shechter applied his method of “brachial reactive testing” to each group. The test uses a cuff on the arm, like those used to measure blood pressure, which can visualize arterial function in real time.

The results were dramatic. Before any of the patients ate, arterial function was essentially the same. After eating, except for the placebo group, all had reduced functioning.

Enormous peaks indicating arterial stress were found in the high glycemic index groups: the cornflakes and sugar group.

“We knew high glycemic foods were bad for the heart. Now we have a mechanism that shows how,” says Dr. Shechter. “Foods like cornflakes, white bread, french fries, and sweetened soda all put undue stress on our arteries.

We’ve explained for the first time how high glycemic carbs can affect the progression of heart disease.”

During the consumption of foods high in sugar, there appears to be a temporary and sudden dysfunction in the endothelial walls of the arteries.

Endothelial health can be traced back to almost every disorder and disease in the body.

It is “the riskiest of the risk factors,” says Dr. Shechter.

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So how come my doctor tells me to eat cereal for breakfast?

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Sadly, Mikey never made it past his 25th birthday.

Damn you Life brand cereal, damn you.

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The Atkins Diet for Vegans

flintstone ribs

Quick…What comes to mind when I say… Atkins Diet?

  • Steak?
  • Bacon?
  • Ribs?

How about textured vegetable protein?

Textured_Vegetable_Protein

Or, smoothies made from vegan protein powder?

rice protein vegan

Well, according to this research, test subjects who followed a “low-carbohydrate (26% of total calories), high–vegetable protein (31% from gluten, soy, nuts, fruit, vegetables, and cereals), and vegetable oil (43%) plant-based diet” for 4 weeks, saw improvements in blood cholesterol levels and other heart disease risk factors…including weight loss.

In comparison, the control diet (a high-carbohydrate lacto-ovo vegetarian diet (58% carbohydrate, 16% protein, and 25% fat)), produced improvements in weight loss but little change in the other heart disease risk factors.

Conclusion

A Vegan-Atkins diet is superior to a high carb, Lacto-Ovo, low-fat dairy, whole grain diet.

Question

Is a Vegan-Atkins diet superior to:

  • a traditional “Fred Flintstone” Atkins diet?
  • or a Paleo style diet based on animal protein, fruits & vegetables?
  • or a Mediterranean style diet?

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Can Potassium Reverse High Blood Pressure?

  • High blood pressure is a killer….we all know that
  • Eating a diet high in sodium can lead to high blood pressure….we all know that

And because we know these things, a lot of people have been told by their doctors to stop eating this…

Salty Snacks

…and to start eating this…

celery

And they aren’t happy about it……….but maybe there is another way.

Maybe, instead of labeling salt as a BAD FOOD, and banning it from our diets altogether, we can balance out the hypertensive effect of sodium with the hypotensive effect of potassium. If only we had some proof…

The Proof

Earlier this year, researchers found that “the ratio of sodium-to-potassium was a much stronger predictor of hypertension and cardiovascular disease than sodium or potassium alone”.

“There isn’t as much focus on potassium, but potassium seems to be effective in lowering blood pressure and the combination of a higher intake of potassium and lower consumption of sodium seems to be more effective than either on its own in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Paul Whelton, senior author of the study in the January 2009 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In this study, researchers determined average sodium and potassium intake of their test subjects.

They collected 24-hour urine samples intermittently during an 18-month period in one trial and during a 36-month period in a second trial.

The 2,974 study participants initially aged 30-to-54 and with blood pressure readings just under levels considered high, were followed for 10-15 years to see if they would develop cardiovascular disease.

The Results

  • The highest salt consumers were 20% more likely to suffer strokes, heart attacks or other forms of cardiovascular disease when compared to the lowest of the low sodium eaters.

20% more likely to suffer a stroke. That sounds great…time to ditch that salt shaker…..right?  Maybe not…

  • The participants with the highest sodium-to-potassium ratio in urine were 50 percent more likely to experience cardiovascular disease than those with the lowest sodium-to-potassium ratios.

According to this study, the ratio of potassium to sodium in your diet is more important to the health of your heart than the overall consumption of sodium.

According to Dr. Whelton, healthy 19-to-50 year-old adults should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day — equivalent to one teaspoon of table salt.

NOTE: More than 95 percent of American men and 75 percent of American women in this age range exceed this amount.

What does this mean to you?

Odds are that you are part of the majority whose sodium : potassium ratio is out of whack.

  • How much potassium do you need to help balance out the salt?

To lower blood pressure and blunt the effects of salt, adults should consume 4.7 grams of potassium per day unless they have a clinical condition or medication need that is a contraindication to increased potassium intake.

Most American adults aged 31-to-50 consume only about half this amount.

  • And how do we get more potassium?
  • Good potassium sources include fruits, vegetables, dairy foods and fish.
  • Foods that are especially rich in potassium include potatoes and sweet potatoes, fat-free milk and yogurt, tuna, lima beans, bananas, tomato sauce and orange juice.
  • Potassium also is available in supplements. However, most potassium supplements come in dosages of 50mg . To get your daily 5 grams, you would need to take 100 pills.

So, maybe we should listen to the good doctor and “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”Hippocrates

Click here for the USDA’s list of foods high in Potassium..

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Mediterranean Chicken

Oregano Chicken

A perfect fit for a low-carb lifestyle, olives are loaded with healthy monounsaturates. In general, these fats are considered to be healthier as compared to the others. They have the same amount of energy, but they reduce blood cholesterol levels, which reduces the risk to the heart. The juice of the olive, otherwise known as olive oil, acts to keep cholesterol from sticking to our artery walls and is a delicious source of antioxidants. Olives also contain polyphenols, which is what gives them their taste and aroma. Research indicates that polyphenols may have antioxidant characteristics with potential health benefits such as reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. This would explain why people living in Mediterranean countries, where consumption of relatively high amounts of fat is prominent, tend to have far lower rates of cardiovascular disease than in countries like the United States where similar levels of fat consumption are found.

RECIPE:
Serves 4 (with leftovers)

1 whole chicken, portioned (2 breasts, 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, 2 wings)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup white wine
5 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup capers, drained
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed olives, sliced
6 oz oyster mushrooms
1/4 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped

Oregano Chicken DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 400F.
Preheat skillet on medium high heat for one minute. Season each chicken piece with S&P. Add olive oil to pan, sear chicken for 2-3 mins each side, until golden brown. Once browned, remove to a roasting tray. Deglaze saute pan by adding the white wine and scraping all the caramelized bits from bottom of pan for 30 seconds. Add wine mixture to chicken along with all remaining ingredients.

Cover roasting pan with foil, pop in preheated oven for approx 1-1 1/2 hours. Check chicken after one hour to see if chicken is fork tender otherwise cook for the additional 30 mins.

All recipes are made with the finest quality farmers market whole foods, natural and non-processed ingredients.

THEHEALTHYIRISHMAN.COM

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Fueling your body with healthy food. Fueling your mind with the wealth of health.

Copyright © 2009 The Healthy Irishman. All rights reserved.

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The status-quo is broken…We need a new model for burning fat and getting fit

For decades, we have listened to the nation’s health experts tell us:

  • what to eat,
  • what not to eat,
  • how much to eat,
  • how much exercise we need,
  • what type of exercise we need….

And, after all of that advice, we have become a nation world afflicted with runaway obesity, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, cancer, etc…

And yet, when we want to improve our health or reduce our waistlines, we still turn to the experts.

Why?

Everyday I meet people who are trying to get into shape. For years, they have been trying to follow the rules laid down by the experts.

  • They followed the food pyramid
  • They cut the fat out of their diets
  • They did their 20 minutes of fat-burning cardio
  • They choked down their egg white omelettes
  • They ate their fiber

And they watched their backsides get wider and their blood pressure rise higher and higher.

  • It’s time for a change.
  • The status quo is broken.
  • The top-down approach doesn’t work.

But with the technology available today, we don’t need to rely solely on that expert advice from up above. We can connect those people who are desperate to transform their bodies with those people willing to help. We can create a tribe of people devoted to health, fitness and each other.

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10 more reasons to love High Intensity Interval Training

  1. HIIT was better than the standard  multidisciplinary approach (exercise, diet and psychological support) at helping overweight kids reduce their cardiovascular risk factorsHere’s the study
  2. HIIT can prevent cardiac death in type 2 diabetic individuals. Here’s the study
  3. HIIT should be a required treatment for all Metabolic Syndrome patients. 16 weeks of HIIT training significantly reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease, in terms of improved VO2max, endothelial function, blood pressure, insulin signaling, and plasma lipid composition. Here’s the study
  4. HIIT substantially improves insulin action. Say bye-bye to type 2 diabetes & metabolic syndrome. Here’s the study
  5. HIIT increases levels of HDL cholesterol – that’s the  good cholesterol. Here’s the study
  6. HIIT improves the HRR (Heart Rate Recovery – a measure of how quickly your heart returns to normal post-exercise)) in already well-trained cyclists. Here’s the study
  7. HIIT drastically improves cardiovascular function (V02max) in patients with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Here’s the study
  8. Interval training produced a 302% greater increase inV02max when compared to a long, slow distance training protocol. Here’s the study
  9. HIIT significantly improved the aerobic fitness of a group of prepubescent children (aerobic fitness measured by peak oxygen consumption and maximal aerobic velocity) Here’s the study
  10. HIIT improves the erectile function of hypertension patients  Here’s the study fellas

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The Top 12 PREVENTABLE Causes of Death

According to a new study by Harvard public health researchers, the leading preventable risk factors for premature death in the United States are:

  1. Smoking: 467,000 deaths.
  2. High blood pressure: 395,000 deaths.
  3. Overweight-obesity: 216,000 deaths.
  4. Inadequate physical activity and inactivity: 191,000 deaths.
  5. High blood sugar: 190,000 deaths.
  6. High LDL cholesterol: 113,000 deaths.
  7. High dietary salt: 102,000 deaths.
  8. Low dietary omega-3 fatty acids (seafood): 84,000 deaths.
  9. High dietary trans fatty acids: 82,000 deaths.
  10. Alcohol use: 64,000 deaths.
  11. Low intake of fruits and vegetables: 58,000 deaths.
  12. Low dietary poly-unsaturated fatty acids: 15,000 deaths.

bad-habits-causing-death-both-sexes

This study is the most comprehensive look at how diet, lifestyle and various other chronic disease risk factors contribute to mortality in the U.S.

And it produced some interesting observations:

  • Smoking is responsible for approximately 20% of all deaths in the U.S.
  • High blood pressure is responsible for 1 in 6 deaths
  • Obesity + physical inactivity = 407,000 deaths per year ≈ 17% of all deaths
  • High blood pressure kills 5x as many women as breast cancer
  • 70% of the alcohol related deaths happened to men…way to go guys
  • High blood sugar killed 3x as many people as alcohol
  • 2/3 of the deaths attributed to high blood sugar, obesity and high blood pressure occurred in only 10-33% of the overall population.
  • 1,051,000 deaths can be attributed to poor dietary choices. That’s 45% of all deaths.

Maybe you should print this out and stick it to your fridge.

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Red Meat Kills?

image: Charles Valek
image: Charles Valek

It’s a sad day people.

This morning, I was going through my emails and came upon this study.

This horrible, horrible study.

This decade-long study, involving the 322,263 men and 223,390 women ages 50 to 71 who participated in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study.

This study, which tries to pry the burger from my hand by telling me that red and processed meat intakes were associated with a 20 to 40% increase in total mortality.

20 to 40%!!!

Hmmmm, 20 to 40%?

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Question: Would you drastically reduce (or eliminate altogether) your consumption of red meat if you thought that it would improve your odds of dying from cancer by 20 to 40%?

If not, why?

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The Link between Belly Fat, Depression, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease

sad homer
sad homer

In a previous article, I wrote about the link between belly fat (visceral fat) and depression.

I have also written numerous articles on the links between belly fat and chronic disease:

Today’s post connects all of that research.

Today’s post is based on the findings of this study, which suggest that belly fat (visceral fat) “is an important pathway by which depression adds to the risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.”

The Study

fat
Visceral belly fat is the white stuff surrounding your organs. Subcutaneous fat is the white stuff on top of the muscles but under the skin

Researchers from Rush University Medical Center looked at over 400 women “who were participating in the Women in the South Side Health Project (WISH) in Chicago, a longitudinal study of the menopausal transition”.

They screened the women for depression and measured their visceral fat with a CT scan.

Even after adjusting for variables that might account for the accumulation of visceral fat, the researchers found a strong correlation between depression and high levels of visceral fat.

The women who showed signs of depression (assessed using the CES-D scale) had 24.5% more visceral belly fat than the women with fewer depressive symptoms.

No association was found between depression and subcutaneous belly fat (non-visceral).

So, what does this mean and why is depression linked to increased visceral fat, diabetes and cardiovascular disease?

Lead researcher Dr. Lynda Powell speculated that “depression triggers the accumulation of visceral fat by means of certain chemical changes in the body”.

Some of those changes could include:

Future studies are planned to address the specific glucocorticoid or inflammatory mechanisms responsible for the link between depression, visceral body fat, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

But for now, it’s going to have to be good enough to simply know that the link exists.

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Omega 3s protect men from heart failure

i-love-fish

Attention MEN!!!

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Eat one serving of fatty fish per week and reduce your risk of heart failure

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The Science

According to this new study:

  • Men who eat one serving of fatty fish a week reduced their odds of heart failure by 12%.
  • Men who consume 330 mg of omega 3 fish oils per day reduced their odds of heart failure by 33%

What this means to YOU

If you eat:

You will get your 330 mg of Omega 3s and lower your odds of dying from heart failure by 33%

omega3_fish

Pretty cheap insurance policy if you ask me.

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Weight Loss & Breakfast: Eggs are Better

Need to lose a few pounds?

Try this…tomorrow morning, instead of wolfing down a bagel as you run out the door, scramble up a few eggs with some cheddar cheese and black forest ham.

According to a bunch of new studies, this high protein breakfast will help you manage your hunger while also reducing the amount of calories that you pack away throughout the day.

The Science

University of Conneticut researchers found that adult men who consumed eggs for breakfast:

  1. Consumed fewer calories following the egg breakfast compared to the bagel breakfast
  2. Consumed fewer total calories in the 24-hour period after the egg breakfast compared to the bagel breakfast
  3. Reported feeling less hungry and more satisfied three hours after the egg breakfast compared to the bagel breakfast

This study was presented at Experimental Biology 2009. This research builds upon previous work by Dr. Fernandez which showed how the cholesterol from egg yolks  improves the level of good (HDL) cholesterol.

A second study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, concluded that eating eggs for breakfast as part of a reduced-calorie diet helped overweight dieters lose 65 percent more weight and feel more energetic than dieters who ate a bagel breakfast of equal calories and volume.

And if that isn’t enough proof, you can check out this study which showed that getting your protein with breakfast was more effective at controlling hunger.

But what about the cholesterol?

For years, we have been told to avoid eating too many whole eggs.

We’ve been warned by the experts that the cholesterol found in those egg yolks are going to clog our arteries.

Maybe the experts are wrong.

New research (presented at Experimental Biology 2009) out of the University of Florida State  examined the relationship between cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors such as body mass index, serum lipids and levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), and the degree to which these factors are influenced by dietary intake of fiber, fat and eggs.

The study found:

  • no relationship between egg consumption and serum lipid profiles, especially serum total cholesterol,
  • no relationship between egg consumption and hs-CRP,
  • a positive correlation between dietary trans-fat intake (the margarine on your bagel) and CVD risk factors, as well as a negative correlation between fiber and vitamin C intake and CVD risk factors(6)

In addition, research presented at Experimental Biology, investigators with Exponent, Inc. evaluated egg consumption data from the NHANES III Follow-Up Survey to determine the association between egg consumption and heart health.

The researchers developed a statistical model which showed:

  • no increased risk of death from coronary heart disease with increased egg consumption
  • a reduced risk of mortality among men who consumed one to six eggs/week compared to less than one egg/week
  • a significant reduction in risk of stroke among women who consumed one to six eggs/week and one or more eggs/day<

So, while I am not advocating that you chug back a dozen raw eggs at breakfast a la Rocky, I am suggesting that you replace your morning toast with an omelette.

Your shrinking love handles will thank you.

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Here's why you NEED aerobic exercise

Let’s face it. Cardio is boring. Running laps around a track or pedaling away like some spandex wearing gerbil…..Boring.

But,according to the authors of this new study, “your personal aerobic fitness is not something you will see in the mirror but it is an important predictor of your long-term health,”

“The most important part of physical activity is protecting yourself from diseases that can be fatal or play a significant role in increasing the risk factors for other metabolic diseases.”

The Study

fattyliver
Fatty Liver

For years, we have known that poor aerobic fitness is associated with obesity, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. This new study adds another serious condition to the list – non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

The study also suggests that the resulting liver problems play a crucial step developing obesity-related illnesses. In fact, the study authors think that “Fatty liver disease will be the next big metabolic disorder associated with obesity and inactivity.”

So, to test the link between aerobic fitness and fatty liver disease, the researcher bred a strain of genetically unfit rats. These couch-potato rats could only run an average of 200m compared to over 1500m for the average fit rat.

Leaving both strains of rats to their own devices, the researchers noticed that at 25 weeks, the unfit rats showed clear signs of fatty liver. “By the end of their natural lives, the rats’ livers had sustained damage including fibrosis (the precursor to cirrhosis) and unexpected cell death”.

In contrast, the ‘fit’ group enjoyed heathy livers throughout their lifespans – despite the fact that neither group was getting any real exercise.

The team’s findings provide the first biochemical links between low aerobic fitness and fatty liver disease, and have lead the authors to suggest that NAFLD could potentially be treated or prevented by a suitable exercise program.

Conclusion

  • Aerobic exercise is boring
  • Aerobic exercise prevents fatty liver disease
  • You don’t want fatty liver disease, so
  • Get movin’

Obesity: Insulin trumps Genetics

I have said it before and I will say it again. Genetics isn’t Destiny. Even when it comes to obesity.

And if you don’t believe me:

Purdue University scientists have uncovered evidence that genetically identical cells store widely differing amounts of fat, depending on subtle variations in how the cells process insulin.

They said identifying the precise mechanism responsible for fat storage in cells could lead to methods for controlling obesity.

Although other studies have suggested certain “fat genes” might be associated with excessive fat storage in cells, the Purdue researchers confirmed such genes are expressed, or activated, in all of the cells. Yet those cells varied drastically — from nearly zero in some cases to pervasive in others — in how much fat they stored.

Their findings indicate that the faster a cell processes insulin, the more fat it stores.

It’s the insulin…it’s the insulin…it’s the insulin.

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Spinach Stuffed Sole with Moules Jus

Stuffed Sole with Mussels

Good Friday (today) for us good Catholics means a day of fasting, eating only one full meatless (no animal flesh) meal on this day. Well, I might be a mediocre Catholic then, since eating is what I do best. Lucky for me fish & seafood are considered meatless, which is why growing up we only ate fish on Fridays during Lent. Did you know that’s why McDonald’s created the Filet-O-Fish? Not that I advocate eating such a thing! Instead, I push for healthy fresh fish, packed with omega-3 fatty acids. If you’ve read HealthHabits’ Omega 3s – Why you need them and How to get them, you know how important omega-3’s are for your health. Paired with fresh veg you’ve got one nutritious Good Friday.

RECIPE
Serves 4

4 Pacific Sole filets (rated Eco-OK so eat in moderation)

Filling recipe:
1 zucchini – diced
1 yellow squash – diced
2 cups uncooked baby spinach
S&P
1/2 lemon – zested
Begin by preheating saute pan on medium heat for 1 minute. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and saute zucchini and squash for 3 minutes approx or until soft. Once soft add spinach and saute along with veg for 1 minute or until spinach is cooked. Add lemon zest. Taste and season with S&P. Let cool.

To assemble: Lay the sole filets on a clean surface. Place a spoonful of the cooled filling in each and roll ensuring the filling stays within. Use toothpicks to keep the filets closed.

Moules Jus: (mussel juice)
1 lb mussels
1/2 cup white wine
2 roma tomatoes – diced
1/2 cup fresh fennel – diced
1 tbsp fresh thyme
Before cooking mussels ensure all the shells are closed. Throw away any opened shells. Preheat saute pan on medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add mussels and very carefully add the remaining ingredients. Cover with lid and cook mussels for 1-2 minutes until all the shells have opened. Remove pan from the heat. Remove all the mussels and discard any unopened shells. Place the stuffed sole filets in the mussel juice in the same pan and return to medium heat with lid on. Cook for 4-5 minutes.
Meanwhile as fish is cooking, remove the mussels from the shells and return to the pan along with the sole.
Once fish is cooked through, place in bowl along with some mussels and spoon tomato broth over fish.


Stuffed Sole Filets

Hope you guys enjoy this and give it a go. Don’t be afraid. If you have any requests or questions, please leave a comment! To see more of my recipes and learn about me and my healthy food philosophies head over to thehealthyirishman.com.

.The Healthy Irishman Fueling your body with healthy food. Fueling your mind with the wealth of health.

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Omega 3s – Why you need them and How to get them

Why do you need Omega 3s?

  1. When Omega 3 consumption increases, your risk of cardiovascular disease decreases
  2. High levels of the Omega 3 fatty acid – DHA are required for optimal mental performance and vision
  3. Low levels of Omega 3s have been associated with depression, Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, as well as developmental coordination disorder.
  4. Omega 3 supplements have been shown to improve the condition of chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, various skin disorders, and gastrointestinal disorders such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Crohn’s disease
  5. Omega 3s may help men reduce their risk of prostate cancer.
  6. And if that isn’t enough, various population studies have also shown that diets high in Omega 3s have been effective in preventing:
  • chronic eye conditions (cataracts, dry eye),
  • epilepsy,
  • allergic sensitivity in very young children,
  • pneumonia,
  • lung/breathing capacity and chronic pulmonary disorders,
  • bone health, and
  • fibromyalagia

Now you know why you need Omega 3s.

So, what’s the best way to get them?

Currently, there is a bit of disagreement between Omega 3 experts.

On one hand, we have experts like Dr. David Jenkins who prefer we get our Omega 3s from the plant based Omega 3 – ALA.

Dietary sources of the Omega 3 – ALA include:

  • Flaxseed
  • canola oil
  • English walnuts
  • specialty eggs

Dr. Jenkins believes that ALA is an effective source of Omega 3s and because it can be found in vegetarian sources such as canola, walnuts and soy, it is superior to the fish-sourced Omega 3s -EPA & DHA.

Dr. Jenkins cites the crisis of global fisheries as an important reason to choose vegetarian sources of Omega 3s.

However, critics of Dr. Jenkins position claim that the majority of Omega 3 fish oil supplements rely on smaller, less commercially attractive fish such as herring and anchovies. These fish are available in large numbers due to their lack of market popularity and higher reproduction rate.

In addition, supplement manufacturers are trying to improve the harvesting of algae and krill as potential mainstream sources of Omega 3s.

Dietary sources of the Omega 3 – EPA include:

  • Fish,
  • fish oils
  • marine sources like krill & algae

Dietary sources of the Omega 3 – DHA include:

  • Fish,
  • fish oils
  • specialty egg/dairy products

And if that wasn’t complicated enough

There is significant research that shows that ALA is an inferior source of Omega 3s.

And why is that?

It’s because our bodies require that ALA be converted into EPA and/or DHA for use in our bodies.

And, apparently our bodies do a pretty poor job of making DHA out of ALA.

So, if you want the benefits of DHA:

You should probably go with a combined EPA/DHA Omega 3 supplement.

But, then again, just about every day, there is some new Omega 3 research being published….so stay tuned.

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Obesity Drugs v.s Health Habits

Earlier this morning, Arena Pharmaceuticals announced that the Phase 3 trial results for their new obesity drug Lorcaserin met all efficacy and safety endpoints.

And yet, in just 2 1/2  hours of trading, their share price had dropped by over 32%.

But….they met all their efficacy and safety endpoints.

Why would the market punish a company for meeting all of their efficacy and safety endpoints?

I just don’t get it.

Based on Arena’s data, the average Lorcaserin patient:

  • started out at 219 lbs,
  • lost 12.7 lbs, and
  • ended up at 201.3 lbs.

In contrast, the placebo patient:

  • started out at 213.6 lb,
  • lost 4.7 lbs, and
  • ended up at 208.9 lbs

That means that over the course of 12 months, the Lorcaserin patient lost 8 more pounds than the patient taking the placebo.

8 lbs.

8 lbs over 12 months?

That’s it?

One of my new personal training clients is down 14 pounds in just under 7 weeks.

Another has lost just under 30 pounds since the new year.

Another has lost over 200 pounds over the past few years.

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So, why would anyone want to take Lorcaserin?

For the side effects?

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To be fair, Health Habits isn’t without side effects:

  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Lowered resting heart rate
  • Lowered appetite for sweets
  • Increased strength, endurance, flexibility, confidence, and
  • Inappropriate comments in the workplace

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Fat Britannia

fat-britannia

Back in the 90s, the U.K. was Cool Britannia.

No longer.

Today, I re-brand the U.K. as Fat Britannia.

cool-fat-britannia

And before any of you Brits start dropping F-Bombs and trying to head butt me through your computer, give me a chance to prove my point.

Fat Britannia: The Proof is in the Pudding…and chips and curries and…

According to the new EuroAspire survey,

  • Britons at high risk of heart attack are ‘in denial’ and ignoring doctors’ advice to change their lifestyle.
  • More than three-quarters are obese or overweight – with dangerously big stomachs – and most smokers have refused to give up.
  • More than half have out-of-control blood pressure and 40 per cent have high cholesterol levels.
  • Two out of three refuse to accept they are more at risk than other people their age – despite being given warnings by their GP and lots of prescription drugs.

This means they have a one in five chance of suffering a fatal heart attack unless they change their lifestyle.

But, they’re not changing their lifestyles.

  • Almost 80 per cent of those who were smokers at the time had not given up despite smoking being a major cause of heart disease.
  • Four out of five high risk patients were overweight or obese with dangerously large waists containing deposits of abdominal fat that raise the chances of diabetes and heart problems.
  • Two out of five patients said they did not exercise and had no plans to do so.
  • Around half had diabetes, including seven per cent whose condition was detected when they were taking part in the survey and having various tests.
  • 57 per cent of patients had raised blood pressure despite three-quarters of them being on anti-hypertensive drugs.
  • And last but not least, 40 per cent of patients had high blood cholesterol, even though the UK uses more statin drugs than any other European country except Italy.

And still, they continue to live in denial.

Two-thirds of those surveyed said they did not think their risk of heart disease was higher than a person in the general population of the same age and sex, including 16 per cent who thought it was lower.

Note: ALL of these people have been told by their doctors that they ARE at high risk of dying because of their lifestyles.

Professor David Wood, an expert in cardiovascular medicine at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College, London, said the survey raised concerns that many Britons were in denial about their heart health.

“This is high risk population, diagnosed by their GPs and started on treatment”.

“They should be managed much more rigorously and their lifestyle should be changing”.

Should be changing…but it isn’t.

And here’s where it gets interesting…for me at least.

Do the non-fat Brits have a moral/fiscal responsibility to help/coerce/force the fat Brits into changing their obesity-inducing lifestyles?

  • Do we have the moral obligation to look after others who can’t or won’t look after themselves?

When it comes to mental health issues, we have already accepted that obligation.

  • The Mental health Act of 1983 instructed British doctors to force feed anorexics over the age of 18.

It should be noted that, for force feeding to occur, the anorexic patient must be shown to be incapable of making rational decisions about their condition.

So, is it rational to live in a manner that causes:

And what about the cost of obesity to the rest of society?

  • Does the British taxpayer have to sit back and watch their taxes skyrocket as obesity drives up the cost of their nationalized health care spending?

Around the world, governments have taxed and legislated cigarette smokers almost to the point of extinction.

cigarette-taxes

Why not obesity?

So, here’s my question to you?

What do we do to stop obesity?

  • Tax it to death?
  • Free gym memberships?
  • Legislate it to death?
  • Promote a healthy lifestyle?
  • Subsidize health food?
  • Free weight loss surgeries?
  • Nothing, it’s none of our damn business?

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A Better Way to Health and Weight Loss

In yesterday’s post, I talked about how our Western diet and lifestyle has caused an explosion of obesity, diabetes and various cardio-respiratory diseases.

I also talked about how the health experts of the last 50 years have continued to feed us the same advice even in the face of our growing obesity and chronic disease epidemic.

And after looking at all of that data, I wondered: why do we continue to listen to these experts with their food pyramids and low fat diets and aerobic exercise programs?

We must be insane.

Albert Einsten once said that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

And that’s what we have been doing. The same advice year in and year out. Even as we get fatter and fatter…we listen to the same advice.

I ended yesterday’s post by saying that there had to be a better way. Here’s my idea.

A Better Way to Health and Weight Loss

In the past few years, web 2.0 technology has allowed large groups of people to collaborate and combine their talents to develop new technology, carry out a specific design task , or help capture, systematize or analyze large amounts of data.

This phenomena has a variety of names: crowdsourcing, open source, collective intelligence, wikinomics, social commerce and crowdcasting.

Examples of this activity include:

So, what does this have to do with losing weight and getting fit?

  • Imagine if you could harness the collective intelligence and experience of each and every dieter, obesity expert, personal trainer, weight loss guru, bariatric doctor, psychiatrist, behavioral therapist and obesity researcher.
  • And imagine if you could direct all of that intelligence and experience towards finding a better solution to our twin dilemmas of obesity and chronic disease.

Instead of an environment where snake oil salesmen and government approved health experts sell false hope to the fat and desperate, imagine an environment where all concerned parties can come together to find a solution.

I know, I know, it sounds a little socialist to me too. But, in fact, we are already seeing the first steps toward this concept.

Websites like SparkPeople have created massive communities of people interesting in getting fit, lean and healthy. And those communities are getting larger by the day.

If you look at the numbers, SparkPeople sees 2.1 million American viewers per month.

sparkpeople-data

By comparison, my teeny tiny little blog sees almost 40,000 Global viewers per month.

healthhabits-visits-per-month

Obviously, SparkPeople is doing something right. In fact, they’re doing lots right. But, they’re not perfect.

Earlier today, I entered an imaginary client into their system

The client was a 255lb. man who wanted to lose 40 lbs. He was also concerned about type two diabetes and hypertension.

This is what they recommended:

  • A diet high in starchy carbs & low in fat
  • A bodybuilding style resistance program
  • A moderate cardio-vascular program
  • Stretching at the end of the workout

Same old, same old. Repeating the same diet & fitness advice that hasn’t been working for decades.

Can someone please stop the insanity!!!

  • Where’s the HIIT training?
  • Where’s the Paleo or Mediterranean or Zone eating philosophies?
  • Where’s the mental/emotional strategies designed to keep people from breaking their diets or skipping their workouts?
  • Where’s the discussion of supplements?

I don’t think that the folks at SparkPeople have any idea of what their site could be.

Anyway, that’s my two cents.

Anyone out there have any suggestions? Any website gurus out there eager to build a kick ass health and fitness community/wiki?

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National Heart Health Strategy

healthy-heart

Canada may be on the verge of something revolutionary in the annals of Western Medicine.

Today, in Ottawa, Dr. Eldon R. Smith, chairman of the Canadian Heart Health Strategy and Action Plan steering committee, presented the federal government with a  new nationwide strategy aimed at combating heart disease and stroke.

The CHHS-AP plan would cost an estimated$700 million to implement over the next seven years.

However, by 2020, the plan could save Canada’s health care system over$22 billion in direct and indirect costs.

That’s over $30 of savings for every $1 invested in the plan.

And just how do they plan on saving all of those health care dollars?

According to Dr. Smith, “”We need to find ways to have people eat healthier foods, do more exercise, and we need to have less people smoking.”

“We think that with a combination of education, legislation, regulation, as we did for smoking in the past, and perhaps some incentives, that we’ll be able to create better environments for heart health in Canada.”

jaw-drop-genie-alladin<jaw drops to floor>

Whaaaattt?

Promote a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent disease.

What a truly shocking and inspired idea!

<sarcasm>

The Plan

The plan makes six key recommendations to fight heart disease and stroke, including:

  1. Creating “heart-healthy” environments through education, legislation, regulation and policy.
  2. Helping Canadians lead healthier lives.
  3. Ending the cardiovascular disease crisis within Aboriginal communities.
  4. Continuing to reform health care with improved delivery of patient-centered services.
  5. Improving the surveillance and electronic medical records system to enhance prevention, care and research into vascular diseases.
  6. Developing the right number of health-care service providers with the right education and skills.

Okay, sounds good….a little vague, but good.

“The CHHS-AP will allow us to focus more on prevention, among other key areas, and tackle this health challenge head-on,” said Sally Brown, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, one of three lead organizations involved of the plan.

Still vague.

Seriously, we need some details.

Details

According to the CHHS-AP, implementing this strategy will result in the following benefits:

Health

  • By 2015, working with partners,
    • 20% more Canadians eating at least five servings of vegetables and fruit per day
    • 20% more physically-active Canadians
    • 20% fewer obese or overweight adults
    • fewer obese children (from 8% to 5%)
  • By 2020,
    • decrease annual rate of CV deaths by 25%
    • bring CV diseases burden among Aboriginal/indigenous populations in line with other Canadians
    • decrease prevalence of hypertension in adults by 32%
      • increase awareness by 64% among adults with hypertension
      • Increase by six-fold those hypertension treated to recommended targets
    • decrease (risk adjusted 30-day) hospital mortality rate
      • from heart attacks by 32%
      • from stroke by 25%
    • decrease hospitalizations for treatment of heart failure by 25
    • decrease hospitalizations for treatment of acute stroke by 25%
    • have 90% of Canadians aged 45+ with CV risk assessments
    • decrease (by working with partners) the smoking rate by 25%

The Economy

  • Significant savings in costs of CV diseases by 2020,
    • decrease $7.6 billion in direct costs  (2008 dollars)
    • decrease $14.6 billion in indirect costs (2008 dollars)

Canadians and our Country

  • Canadians will know their CV risk and how to reduce it to lead longer, healthier lives.
  • All regions of the country benefit from more sustainable health care systems.
  • Governments, the health care system, the private sector, communities and individuals work together, making a long-term commitment to change.
  • Patients will be partners in their own health and care.
  • Interprofessional health teams are well equipped to promote health, prevent CV disease, and provide timely, comprehensive, patient-centred care.
  • Canada is internationally recognized as a productive, economically competitive and heart healthy nation.

DETAILS!!!…for the love of god, less rhetoric and more details.

Seriously, two years and $2.5 million to come up with this?

<underwhelmed>

So, where do we go from here?

According to the experts:

What needs to happen?


Work with federal Health Minister Aglukkaq to maintain momentum to:

  • Initiate the processes for change.
  • Develop effective partnerships, within and outside the health sector, to engage citizens, care providers, their professional organizations, non-governmental organizations, industry and the media to enable Canadians to become international leaders in heart health.

ARRRGGGHHHH!!!!!

Please, somebody give me some details.

.

Oh, forget it. I ‘ll do it myself.

Here are some of my suggestions for how to spend the $700 million:

  • Tax refunds for participating regularly in exercise programs
  • Tax credits to private health clubs for administrating these exercise programs
  • Tax credits for private individuals organizing fitness clubs
  • Eliminate inequalities in federal food subsidy programs – quit subsidizing grains and soy at the expense of fruits and vegetables
  • Promote local and organic farming practices
  • Promote exercise and fitness – advertising, contests, athletes, amateur competitions
  • Tax credits to grocery chains to supply local and organic foods
  • Also, let’s stop listening to the same “experts” who have been telling us to follow those stupid healthy food pyramids all these years. Let’s talk to the fitness experts in the “real world” who get “real” changes out of their “real” clients in order to pay their “real” bills and keep “real” food on their “real” tables.
  • We should also structure the funding of these programs to encourage results. There will be lots and lots of experts lining up to collect their share of the $700 million. How many of them are willing to guarantee their work? How about we structure the contracts with a balloon payment to be paid at the end of the contract. The amount of that payment could be directly tied to the results that their program achieves.

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Any other bright ideas?

And not just my Canadian readers.

Us Canucks are not the only overweight, diabetic, just waiting to have a heart attack, couch potatoes out there.

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Your Anti-Senility Prescription

senility

This post is for everyone out there with a loved one over the age of 50.

.New research shows that our lifestyle choices (nutrition and physical activity) have a powerful effect on age related cognitive health.

Translation: Senility is mostly preventable with diet and exercise.

And guess what?

The same lifestyle choices that have created an epidemic of obesity in the Western world are also responsible for much of the dementia in today’s senior citizens.

Here’s the science:

Study #1

Researchers from the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain found that maintaining steady blood sugar levels, even in the absence of disease (diabetes, metabolic syndrome) is an important strategy for preserving cognitive health.

For many of us, senior moments are a normal part of aging. Such lapses in memory, according to this new research, can be blamed, on rising blood glucose levels as we age.

Whether through physical exercise, diet or drugs, our research suggests that improving glucose metabolism could help some of us avert the cognitive slide that occurs in many of us as we age,” reported lead investigator Scott A. Small, M.D.

Although it is widely known that the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease cause damage to the hippocampus, the area of the brain essential for memory and learning, studies have suggested that it is also vulnerable to normal aging.

Until now, the underlying causes of age-related hippocampal dysfunction have remained largely unknown.

In previous studies, Dr. Small et al had discovered that decreasing brain function in the dentate gyrus region of the hippocampus is the main contributor of normal age related cognitive decline.

In this new study, researchers used medical imaging devices to “help us better understand the basic mechanisms behind hippocampal dysfunction in the aged.”

Their research looked at measures that typically change during aging, like:

  • rising blood sugar,
  • body mass index,
  • cholesterol and
  • insulin levels.

The research found that decreasing activity in the dentate gyrus only correlated with levels of blood glucose.

“Showing for the first time that blood glucose selectively targets the dentate gyrus is not only our most conclusive finding, but it is the most important for ‘normal’ aging- that is hippocampal dysfunction that occurs in the absence of any disease states. There have been many proposed reasons for age-related hippocampal decline; this new study suggests that we may now know one of them,” said Dr. Small.

Conclusion

Control your blood sugar and prevent senility

How?

Read this and this and this and this.

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Study #2

In this study, researchers found that as we age, a slow, chronic starvation of the brain appears to be one of the major triggers of Alzheimer’s disease.

When the brain doesn’t get enough glucose, “a process is launched that ultimately produces the sticky clumps of protein that appear to be a cause of Alzheimer’s”. During this process, a key brain protein (eIF2alpha) increases the production of an enzyme which, in turn, flips a switch that produces the sticky clumps of protein.

And what causes this reduction in blood glucose to the brain?

Cardiovascular Disease

And how do we prevent cardiovascular disease?

But don’t take my word for it.

“This finding is significant because it suggests that improving blood flow to the brain might be an effective therapeutic approach to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s,” said Vassar, a professor of cell and molecular biology at the Feinberg School.

A simple preventive strategy people can follow to improve blood flow to the brain is getting exercise, reducing cholesterol and managing hypertension.

“If people start early enough, maybe they can dodge the bullet,” Vassar said.

For people who already have symptoms, vasodilators, which increase blood flow, may help the delivery of oxygen and glucose to the brain. It also is possible that drugs could be designed to block the eIF2alpha protein that begins the formation of the protein clumps, known as amyloid plaques.

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References

  1. EurekAlert
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Vitamin C Puts Out the Fire of Inflammation

A new study researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, shows that vitamin C can lower your levels of C-reactive protein (CRP).

C-reactive protein is a central biomarker of inflammation that has been shown to be a powerful predictor of heart disease and diabetes. This TIME magazine article provides a good overview.

The U of C-B study, which will be published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine,  shows that for healthy, non-smoking adults with an elevated level of CRP, a daily dose of vitamin C lowered levels of the inflammation biomarker after two months compared with those who took a placebo.

The researchers said that for people with elevated CRP levels, the amount of CRP reduction achieved by taking vitamin C supplements in this study is comparable to that in many other studies of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins.

They noted that several larger statin trials lowered CRP levels by about 0.2 milligrams per liter; in this latest study, vitamin C lowered CRP by 0.25 milligrams per liter.

“This finding of an effect of vitamin C is important because it shows in a carefully conducted randomized, controlled trial that for people with moderately elevated levels of inflammation, vitamin C may be able to reduce CRP as much as statins have done in other studies.”

Vitamin C / CRP / Inflammation & Obesity

This study also found a strong link between obesity and elevated levels of CRP.

The researchers found that elevated levels of CRP were found in:

  • 25% of the normal-weight people test subjects
  • 50% of the overweight subjects, and
  • A whopping 75% of the obese test subjects participants.

“The low-grade inflammation that characterizes obesity is believed to contribute to a number of disorders, including atherosclerosis and insulin resistance,” said Nina Holland, co-investigator on the study.

And it’s not just the scientists expressing concern over CRP.

The American Heart Association and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that clinicians measure CRP levels in patients who have a moderately elevated risk of cardiovascular problems, as determined by other established risk factors such as high cholesterol levels and smoking.

“Major studies have found that the level of CRP in the body predicts future risk of cardiovascular disease, including myocardial infarction, stroke and peripheral artery disease, as well as diabetes. Some believe CRP to be as important a predictor of future heart problems as high levels of LDL and low levels of HDL cholesterol.”

What To Do If You’re Worried

Obviously, talk to your doctor.

But keep in mind that your doctor may not want to test for CRP. Most still just want to look at your levels of cholesterol. But it is possible to have high CRP and normal levels of cholesterol.

I would suggest that you print out this article and bring it along to your appointment, but somehow I don’t see many medical professionals listening to little ole’ me.

Instead, print out this Q & A about CRP that the Cleveland Clinic put together.

Here is a more clinical look at the CRP test itself.

How To Prevent / Reduce CRP & Inflammation

According to the Cleveland Clinic:

Inflammation should be treated by lifestyle change, such as:

  • Antithrombotic medications such as aspirin or clopidogrel may provide protection.
  • Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs and ACE inhibitors may also reduce CRP.

Note: Your doctor will prescribe the correct medications and dosage to treat your condition.

And if you don’t want to go the pharma route, you can investigate dietary solutions such as:

For even more info on natural solutions to inflammation / CRP, take a look at some of the work done by Dr. James Duke. His book, “Beyond Aspirin” is a good place to start.

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Resistin: The Best Test for Heart Disease

homer heart attack

One of my clients was at the doctor last week for a check-up.

He has been stressed out a lot lately and experiencing some headaches.

The doctor checked him out and found that his blood pressure was running higher than normal.

As a result, she sent him on his way with a requisition for a bunch of blood tests.

Pretty standard stuff:

  • Glucose
  • TSH
  • Creatinine
  • Sodium
  • CBC
  • Potassium
  • etc, etc, etc…

At this point, the doctor thinks that the blood pressure is caused by his stress levels, but she just wants to keep on top of things.

But what if things aren’t okay?

Will these tests alert the doctor in time?

Maybe they should be checking his levels of Resistin.

Resistin

Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine have found that blood levels of resistin, a hormone produced by fat cells, can independently predict an individual’s risk of heart failure.

“This is one of the strongest predictors of new-onset heart failure we’ve been able to find, and it holds up even when you control for other biomarkers and risk factors including high blood pressure and diabetes,” says Javed Butler, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine and director of heart failure research at Emory University School of Medicine.

Although scientists don’t know the exact function of resistin, it appears to be associated with both inflammation and insulin resistance.

“Recent laboratory studies have also shown that resistin decreases the ability of rats’ heart muscles to contract,” she adds.

That doesn’t sound good.

In the Health ABC study, the risk of new onset heart failure increased by 38 percent for every 10 nanograms per milliliter increase in resistin levels in blood.

Resistin was a stronger predictor of heart failure risk than other inflammatory markers linked to heart disease, such as C-reactive protein.

“Considering the increasing number of people who are obese or have diabetes, very many of them are going to be at some level of risk for heart failure later in life.

The value of a marker such as resistin may be in accurately identifying among this large population of at-risk individuals who is at the highest risk and then targeting interventions to those people.”

Now, I am sure that my client is going to be okay.

But we are not taking any chances. No matter what the blood tests tell us, he has decided to treat this as a wake up call.

In addition to his healthy eating and thorough fitness program, he is making some lifestyle changes and is about to start a mindfulness meditation program to address his rising levels of stress.

Better safe than sorry.

Too bad he can’t get his resistin levels checked.

Oh well, that’s socialized Canadian medicine for you.

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