Category Archives: Research
From The Doctor will see you now”, link here…
The rate of heart disease in the U.S. has declined steadily over the last 40 years. But even though heart attacks are uncommon in young women, the rate for deaths in women 35 to 44 years of age has remained about the same. Researchers wondered if this could be explained by certain lifestyle choices and set out to test their theory.
What they found is that young women — and presumably men — can avoid many heart problems simply by developing six healthy lifestyle habits that greatly reduce the risk of having a heart attack or developing a risk factor for heart disease as they get older.
Up to 75 percent of heart attacks that occur in women could be prevented had they followed healthy lifestyle practices, the study found. Even those women with a diagnosed risk factor for heart disease who adhered to at least four of the healthy practices had a lower risk of developing the disease.
Researchers defined the six healthy lifestyle practices as:
- Not smoking
- Exercising at least 2 ½ hours per week
- Eating a diet low in red meat, refined grains and sugar, and high in vegetables and whole grains
- Having a body mass index in the normal range
- Watching less than seven hours of television weekly
- Consuming no more than one alcoholic drink per day
The study followed nearly 70,000 women for 20 years who were, on average, 37 years old at the beginning of the study. During the course of the study, 456 women had heart attacks, and over 31,000 women were diagnosed with at least one risk factor for heart disease.
The women in the study who practiced all six healthy habits had a 92 percent lower risk of having a heart attack and were 66 percent less likely to develop a risk factor for heart disease, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol, compared to women who ignored the six healthy habits.
Those women who were diagnosed with a risk factor, yet who practiced at least four of the healthy practices, had a markedly lower risk of developing heart disease as they got older, compared to those who didn’t adhere to any of the practices.
Looking at the healthy practices independently, exercise, not smoking, healthy diet, and lower BMI each were associated with a lower risk of heart disease, and women who consumed one drink a day had the lowest risk, compared to those who didn’t consume any alcohol or those who consumed a larger amount.
A surprise finding was that 140 of the 456 women who suffered heart attacks during the study had a normal body mass index or BMI meaning that a healthy weight isn’t necessarily a protective factor. Their lack of exercise, unhealthy diets, and smoking status are factors that may well have contributed to their heart problems.
Lifestyle plays a huge role in a person’s risk of developing heart disease, and lifestyle changes are often the first recommended intervention when someone is diagnosed with a risk factor. Unfortunately, more often than not, people don’t decide to make changes to their lifestyle until after a coronary event has occurred.
The study sends an important message to young women (men, too). The time to establish healthy habits is early in life — in your 20s. Waiting until something happens to decide to “get healthy” can be a gamble that may not pay off.
The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
4/18/2017: New York Times, see article here.
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.
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.”
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
Thank you to Dr. Hall and Standard Process for this article, link here…
We’ve all been there: tired, irritable, and finding it hard to think clearly. Not getting enough sleep can affect your work, personal relationships, physical abilities, and more. But did you know that if you consistently miss out on quality sleep time you could be harming your health? Insufficient sleep has been linked to the development of many chronic diseases and conditions, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental distress.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of adults do not get the recommended amount of sleep on a regular basis.
“I see patients with sleep challenges at least five to seven times a week,” said Martha Hall, DAOM, ACN. “Sleep is essential for physiological energy in the brain and body. It affects you in so many ways.”
Fortunately, some lifestyle changes may help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. When her patients experience nighttime challenges, Dr. Hall recommends the following helpful tips.
Sticking to a Routine
Create an evening ritual so you can relax and prepare yourself for sleep every night. This winding-down routine may include:
- A cup of herbal tea
- A warm bath
- A bite-sized protein snack (like sunflower butter on celery)
“I often suggest my patients repeat a simple mantra over and over right before bed or while in bed,” said Dr. Hall. “It helps calm the mind and body.”
Sleeping in the Bedroom
The bedroom should be reserved for sleeping only with no television or reading while in bed. Dr. Hall also recommends that you do not listen to music before bedtime unless the music is relaxing or meditative. Make sure the bedroom is dark and quiet or use an eye mask and earplugs.
After 3 p.m. do not consume caffeine, which can be found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, and chocolate. It is also wise to avoid nicotine and alcohol close to bedtime. While alcohol may help you fall asleep, it can interrupt your sleep later in the evening.
Laptops, tablets, and cellphones emit artificial blue light that can throw off the body’s natural circadian rhythm, a 24-hour cycle of physiological processes. A good habit to get into is shutting down devices two to three hours before bedtime.
“Social media can be distressing. One article can lead to more and more articles,” Dr. Hall said. “It’s better to unplug before bedtime.”
Aerobic exercise, strength training, and yoga can all help improve your quality of sleep. If stress keeps you awake at night, the rhythmic stretching and relaxing poses of yoga can help you fall asleep faster.
“When they aren’t sleeping well, my patients often eat more fast food or prepared foods because they don’t have the energy to cook a good meal,” Dr. Hall said. “It’s a bad habit to get into. When you are feeling healthy and well-rested, you tend to eat healthier foods.”
Your diet should include foods that can increase serotonin levels and get your body ready for sleep, such as:
- Complex carbohydrates: whole-grain bread, cereal, pasta, crackers, and brown rice
- Lean proteins: low-fat cheese, chicken, turkey, and fish
- Heart-healthy fats: peanuts, almond butter, walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pistachios
Try some of these healthy lifestyle changes tonight and you may wake up to a brighter tomorrow!
Although books can expose people to new people and places, whether books also have health benefits beyond other types of reading materials is not known. This study examined whether those who read books have a survival advantage over those who do not read books and over those who read other types of materials, and if so, whether cognition mediates this book reading effect. The cohort consisted of 3635 participants in the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study who provided information about their reading patterns at baseline. Cox proportional hazards models were based on survival information up to 12 years after baseline. A dose-response survival advantage was found for book reading after adjusting for relevant differences including age, sex, race, education, comorbidities, self-rated health, wealth, marital status, and depression. Book reading contributed to a survival advantage that was significantly greater than that observed for reading newspapers or magazines. Compared to non-book readers, book readers had a 23-month survival advantage at the point of 80% survival in the unadjusted model. A survival advantage persisted after adjustment for all above stated differences, indicating book readers experienced a 20% reduction in risk of mortality over the 12 years of follow up compared to non-book readers.
These findings suggest that the benefits of reading books include a longer life in which to read them.
Soc Sci Med. 2016 Sep;164:44-8. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.07.014. Epub 2016 Jul 18.
South-east Asian cooking transforms a salad from a side dish to the main event, giving a perfect opportunity to eat more fruit, veg, healthy proteins and nuts. These textures together with the taste explosion of sweet, savoury, spicy and sour dressing mean you won’t miss unrefined, fibreless carbs.
Mangoes are also rich in a protective, soluble fibre that will slow down the digestion of the entire meal. Add chicken left over from a roast for extra thrift.
Serves 2 as a main course
fine green beans a handful
peanuts a handful, toasted and crushed
red onion ½ (or whole shallot), finely sliced
cucumber a handful, finely sliced at an angle
red chilli 1, with seeds
tomatoes a handful, quartered
mint and coriander 1 tbsp of each, chopped, stalks included,
leftover roast chicken torn strips (other good options are prawns, griddled and sliced, or chicken breast)
mango 1 large, under-ripe
For the dressing (the important bit)
garlic 1 large clove
palm sugar 1 tbsp (you can substitute honey or normal sugar)
fish sauce 2 tbsp
lime 1, juiced
extra-virgin olive oil
This salad is easiest to make with a Japanese mandoline, but there are other options if you don’t have one: you could use a combination of a knife and a potato peeler or a cheap julienne peeler.
The beans will need blanching in salted boiling water for around 3-4 minutes until they are tender but retain a little bite. Drain and “refresh” by cooling with cold water – it’s nice if they are warm but not hot in the salad.
Toast the unsalted peanuts in a dry non-stick pan until they have a golden colour. Roughly crush – best done by bashing in a mortar and pestle.
Slice the onion, cucumber and chilli and quarter the tomatoes. Finely chop the herbs and include the fragrant coriander stalks as well as the leaves. Add the chicken (or prawns) and incorporate all together in a large bowl with the sliced mango, green beans and crushed, toasted peanuts.
The dressing is best made in a mortar and pestle, although you can pulse the ingredients in a blender.
Add together the dry ingredients and bash into a smooth paste – the sugar helps with abrasion. Now add the wet ingredients and stir them together.
Dress the salad and allow it to sit for 2-3 minutes for the flavours to marinate. Then pile high on a large serving plate and enjoy.