Category Archives: Physiology

Good Posture: A Stance for Better Health

Healthy posture is important for your well-being, but achieving it can be an uphill battle in a high-tech, high-heeled world, experts say.

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“People who have better posture tend to appear more confident and knowledgeable to others. It makes them feel confident internally as well,” said Alynn Kakuk, a physical therapist at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program in Rochester, Minn.

Simple exercises and stretching can help your posture, she said.

One way to practice healthy posture is to stand with your upper back, shoulders and bottom touching the wall, with your feet a couple of inches away from the wall, she said in a Mayo news release.

There should be a slight space between your lower back and the wall, just large enough to fit your hands. Then, step away from the wall and try to see if you can maintain that posture.

It’s also important to remember that strengthening your muscles will make it easier for you to maintain that healthy posture, Kakuk noted.

Frequent use of cellphones and keyboards can sabotage posture and place stress on the upper back and neck, leading to rounded shoulders and a lowered head. Try to keep your cellphone at eye level so that you’re not bending forward, she suggested. Also, do exercises that strengthen your upper back and shoulders, such as chest exercises that strengthen your pectoral muscles and diaphragm-centered breathing techniques that release tension, she added.

Kakuk said maintaining good posture can help you walk, sit, stand and lie in positions that cause the least stress on your muscles and ligaments.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, September 2015

Click here for a handout: Good posture and spinal rolls
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What is Body Composition Analysis?

Body composition analysis through bioimpedance (bioelectrical impedance analysis / BCA) determines the electrical impedance, or opposition to the flow of an electric current through body tissues which can then be used to calculate an estimate of total body water (TBW). TBW can be used to estimate fat-free body mass and, by difference with body weight, body fat. The BF-350 is a professional grade machine with more accurate results than found in products available to the general public.

BCA is considered reasonably accurate for measuring groups, or for tracking body composition in an individual over a period of time, but is not considered sufficiently accurate for recording of single measurements of individuals.

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Why is body composition important to your health?

A normal balance of body fat to lean body mass is associated with good health and longevity. Excess fat in relation to lean body mass, a condition known as altered body composition, can greatly increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and more. BCA enables early detection of an improper balance in your body composition, which allows for earlier intervention and prevention. BCA also provides the measurement of fluid and body mass that can be critical assessment tool for your current state of health.

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BCA serves to measure your progress as you work to improve your health. Improving your BCA measure, or maintaining a health BIA measurement, can help keep your body functioning properly for healthy aging and reduced risk of illness. With your BCA results, we can recommend a personalized dietary plan, nutritional supplements, and exercise to help support optimal health and well-being for a lifetime.

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Backpack Safety Checklist

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A Short Summary of Everything Science Knows On How To Slow Ageing

Ageing is related to metabolism

The authors of this study have identified 9 key aspects of ageing on your metabolism. Metabolism isn’t some organ or group of organs but it is a complete system created by the working of billions of cells inside our body. This system is responsible for converting the fuel or food we take into to energy so that our body can function.

With age, the metabolic process slows down. DNA gets damaged and this introduces errors and inefficiency is the entire workings of the cells. The process of destroying old and worn out cells (autophagy) also slows down and this failure has detrimental effect on our whole body. Our body experiences so much stress during the course of its life that it becomes difficult for it to perform well with age.

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Ageing cannot be stopped but it can be slowed down

If ageing is all about metabolism, then it wouldn’t be surprising for you that the food we eat has a lot of affect on the ageing process. It is suggested that a Mediterranean diet can help extend your life. So what exactly is a Mediterranean diet? It is a diet high in healthy fats like olive oil, vegetables, whole grains, fish etc. However, it involves very little amount of red meat and sugar. Apparently replacing proteins with complex carbohydrates is healthier for us and aids in a longer life.

It doesn’t end here. Calorie restriction is also necessary. Overeating is not to be done and studies also suggest that introducing periods of fasting in your diet is also beneficial for some people. And the last one should not be a surprise to us; regular exercise. This helps all nine aspects that were identified in the paper that cause ageing.

Our unhealthy Lifestyles are slowly killing us

Improvements in health facilities, sanitation etc may have aided in increasing the life span but there are still problems that exist. Diets that are high in sugar, unhealthy fats and red meat create a lot of stress for metabolism and makes it inefficient. This increases the chances of obesity.

As most of us know, America is a place that has been struck with the problem of obesity. Americans have failed to consume healthy diets and spend far too many hours in activities that do not allow a lot of movement. The problem is serious and the authors have tried to call the people to immediate action if they wish to live a healthier and a longer life.

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I liked this study as it brings together dozens of studies on ageing and combines them together to create a more knowledgeable source for us. Most of the researches that have been done in the past are mostly done on lab animals, whereas, only a fraction of these studies are based on human trials. This study combines various studies and tries to bring out a broader aspect to the previous unclear studies and now it can only be hoped that people recognize the importance of a healthy lifestyle after reading this paper.

Science Alert.  Full article here.

12 Reasons to increase Water

  • Fluid balance. Roughly 60 percent of the body is made of water. Drinking enough H2O maintains the body’s fluid balance, which helps transport nutrients in the body, regulate body temperature, digest food, and more.
     
  • Calorie control. Forget other diet tricks—drinking water could also help with weight loss. Numerous studies have found a connection between water consumption and losing a few pounds . The secret reason? Water simply helps people feel full, and as a result consume fewer calories.
     
  • Muscle fuel. Sweating at the gym causes muscles to lose water. And when the muscles don’t have enough water, they get tired . So for extra energy, try drinking water to push through that final set of squats.
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  • Clearer skin. Certain toxins in the body can cause the skin to inflame, which results in clogged pores and acne . While science saying water makes the skin wrinkle free is contradictory, water does flush out these toxins and can reduce the risk of pimples.
     
  • Kidney function. Our kidneys process 200 quarts of blood daily, sifting out waste and transporting urine to the bladder. Yet, kidneys need  enough fluids to clear away what we don’t need in the body. Let’s drink to that!
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  • Productivity boost. In order to really focus, a glass of water could help people concentrate and stay refreshed and alert.
     
  • Fatigue buster. Move over coffee—water can help fight those tired eyes too . One of the most common symptoms of dehydration is tiredness. Just another reason to go for the big gulp! (Not the 7-11 kind.)
     
  • Hangover help. If booze has got the best of you, help a hangover with a glass of water to hydrate the body and stop that pounding headache.
     
  • Pain prevention. A little water can really go a long way. Aching joints and muscle cramps and strains can all occur if the body is dehydrated .
     
  • Keep things flowing. Nobody wants to deal with digestion issues. Luckily, drinking enough water adds fluids to the colon which helps make things, ahem, move smoothly.
     
  • Sickness fighter. Water may help with decongestion and dehydration, helping the body bounce back when feeling under the weather. Just beware—drinking fluids hasn’t been scientifically proven to beat colds in one swoop, so don’t swap this for a trip to the doctor or other cold remedies.
     
  • Brain boost. A study in London found a link between students bringing water into an exam room and better grades, suggesting H2O promotes clearer thinking. While it’s unclear if drinking the water had anything to do with a better score, it doesn’t hurt to try it out! 

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How Exercise Keep Us Young

4/18/2017: New York Times, see article here.

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Active older people resemble much younger people physiologically, according to a new study of the effects of exercise on aging. The findings suggest that many of our expectations about the inevitability of physical decline with advancing years may be incorrect and that how we age is, to a large degree, up to us. Aging remains a surprisingly mysterious process. A wealth of past scientific research has shown that many bodily and cellular processes change in undesirable ways as we grow older. But science has not been able to establish definitively whether such changes result primarily from the passage of time — in which case they are inevitable for anyone with birthdays — or result at least in part from lifestyle, meaning that they are mutable. This conundrum is particularly true in terms of inactivity. Older people tend to be quite sedentary nowadays, and being sedentary affects health, making it difficult to separate the effects of not moving from those of getting older.

In the new study, which was published this week in The Journal of Physiology, scientists at King’s College London and the University of Birmingham in England decided to use a different approach. They removed inactivity as a factor in their study of aging by looking at the health of older people who move quite a bit.  “We wanted to understand what happens to the functioning of our bodies as we get older if we take the best­case scenario,” said Stephen Harridge, senior author of the study and director of the Centre of Human and Aerospace Physiological Sciences at King’s College London. To accomplish that goal, the scientists recruited 85 men and 41 women aged between 55 and 79 who bicycle regularly. The volunteers were all serious recreational riders but not competitive athletes. The men had to be able to ride at least 62 miles in six and a half hours and the women 37 miles in five and a half hours, benchmarks typical of a high degree of fitness in older people. The scientists then ran each volunteer through a large array of physical and cognitive tests. The scientists determined each cyclist’s endurance capacity, muscular mass and strength, pedaling power, metabolic health, balance, memory function, bone density and reflexes. They also had the volunteers complete the so-called Timed Up and Go test, during which someone stands up from a chair without using his or her arms, briskly walks about 10 feet, turns, walks back and sits down again.

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The researchers compared the results of cyclists in the study against each other and also against standard benchmarks of supposedly normal aging. If a particular test’s numbers were similar among the cyclists of all ages, the researchers considered, then that measure would seem to be more dependent on activity than on age. As it turned out, the cyclists did not show their age. On almost all measures, their physical functioning remained fairly stable across the decades and was much closer to that of young adults than of people their age. As a group, even the oldest cyclists had younger people’s levels of balance, reflexes, metabolic health and memory ability. And their Timed Up and Go results were exemplary. Many older people require at least 7 seconds to complete the task, with those requiring 9 or 10 seconds considered to be on the cusp of frailty, Dr. Harridge said. But even the oldest cyclists in this study averaged barely 5 seconds for the walk, which is “well within the norm reported for healthy young adults,” the study authors write.

Some aspects of aging did, however, prove to be ineluctable. The oldest cyclists had less muscular power and mass than those in their 50s and early 60s and considerably lower overall aerobic capacities. Age does seem to reduce our endurance and strength to some extent, Dr. Harridge said, even if we exercise. But even so, both of those measures were higher among the oldest cyclists than would be considered average among people aged 70 or above. All in all, the numbers suggest that aging is simply different in the active. “If you gave this dataset to a clinician and asked him to predict the age” of one of the cyclists based on his or her test results, Dr. Harridge said, “it would be impossible.” On paper, they all look young. Of course, this study is based on a single snapshot of an unusual group of older adults, Dr. Harridge said. He and his colleagues plan to retest their volunteers in five and 10 years, which will provide better information about the ongoing effects of exercise on aging. But even in advance of those results, said Dr. Harridge, himself almost 50 and an avid cyclist, this study shows that “being physically active makes your body function on the inside more like a young person’s.”

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It’s good for every body!

A version of this article appears in print on 01/13/2015, on page D4 of the NewYork edition with the headline: A Prescription for Youth. © 2017 The New York Times Company

July 11 – National Rainier Cherry Day

In 1952 at Washington State University, Harold Fogle created a new cherry by cross-breeding the Bing and Van cherry varieties.  This new cherry was named after Mount Rainier.  Now, each year on July 11, it is National Rainier Cherry Day.

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Not only are cherries delicious they are so good for you!

Everyone’s favorite Bing cherry can significantly decrease concentrations of inflammatory biomarkers in the blood. And decreased biomarkers may reduce risk or modify the severity of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and cancer.

So that beautifully sweet, fat-free, cholesterol-free northwest cherry can benefit your body as well as your taste buds.

Study demonstrates that cherry consumption selectively reduced several biomarkers associated with inflammatory diseases.