Sep
01
2008

Runners Live Healthier Lives

It has been known for some time that exercise is healthy for you. But how do runners do on the long-term? This has been investigated in a recent study spanning 21 years from 1984 to 2003 published in the August edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine. 538 members 50 years or older of a nationwide running club were compared to a sample of 423 healthy controls. In the beginning of the study the members (all males) were 50 years or older. Disability levels were assessed with a health questionnaire and classified into a scale from 0 (no disability) to 3 (unable to perform). Death rates were also determined.The results showed that disability scores were always lower in runners (0.17) than in controls that did not run (0.36), which translated into 39% less disability. In 2003 the death rate was 34% in the controls, but only 15% in the runner group, in other words a 38% better survival of runners compared to the controls. In 2005 a further follow-up showed that the survival curve was still increasing for the runners who had now entered their eighties.

Runners Live Healthier Lives

Runners Live Healthier Lives

The authors of this study pointed out that length of life, health status and disability status can all be significantly improved with regular moderate exercise such as running. Other studies have suggested this as well, but none has followed this up over such a long period (21 years). Increasing healthy lifestyle behaviors will also reduce health care costs and prevent disabilities from chronic diseases.

Choose your fitness activity as reviewed here: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/fitness/

Reference: Arch Intern Med. 2008;168:1638-1646

Last edited November 5, 2014

Jul
01
2008

Genetic Difference Influences Sweet Tooth

Environmental factors and ethnic customs can influence us to have certain likes and dislikes of foods, but researcher Ahmed El-Sohemy has found in his studies that there is also a biological and genetic basis for some of our food preferences. Researchers from the University of Toronto have discovered a genetic difference in people who consume extra sugar in their diet. The specific genetic constellation which the researchers have called GLUT2 does not only work in the pancreas, but it also is responsible for turning on satiety signals in the brain. It seems to have an impaired ability to notice high blood sugar levels that ultimately send “stop eating” signals to the brain. The habit to eat more sweets has been researched in persons with diabetes, but Dr. El-Sohemy does not believe that diabetes is directly connected with gene GLUT2. On the other hand he does not suggest that the presence of the gene should be an excuse to overindulge in sugar high foods. He states that food habits in humans are often connected to the availability of foods: if there is a birthday party and birthday cake, the people with a liking of sweets will be the first to get a slice of cake. On the other hand, if there are no sweets available, they will not make an extra trip to the store just for a piece of cake. The most logical approach is to minimize the availability of foods that are high in sugar, which is especially important for individuals who have GLUT2, the ”sweet tooth gene”, so they are not tempted to overindulge.

Genetic Difference Influences Sweet Tooth

Genetic Difference Influences Sweet Tooth

Much was learnt from two separate studies that involved 100 older adults on the one hand who were overweight or obese and 587 healthy younger adults who were mostly lean. Foods and beverages that were consumed were carefully recorded. In both investigations blood was drawn for DNA analysis and the presence or absence of the variation of the GLUT2 gene was compared to the food intake data. The older obese group with the variant gene consumed 112 grams of sugar per day versus 86 Grams per day for the non-variant gene group (normal control). The younger population carrying the variant gene consumed 131 Grams of sugar per day, while the non-variant control of young people consumed 115 Grams of sugar per day. This illustrates how genetic influences have an effect on our eating habits and also that younger people ought to be careful that they do not overuse sugar containing foods.

It also points to the solution of controlling your weight, if you belong to the higher risk group with the GLUT2 gene: you must exercise more to burn up the extra calories you tend to eat. A brisk walk on a treadmill will consume about 300 or 350 Cal in 30 minutes depending on the slope and the miles per hour setting.

Reference: Medical Post Vol 44, No. 16, June 16, 2008: page 19 (based on May issue of Physiological Genomics)

Last edited December 4, 2012

Jul
01
2008

High-protein, Low-refined carb diet useful in controlling diabetes

Diabetes type 2 is often associated with obesity (body mass index higher than 30.0 kg per meter squared). At the 16th European Congress on Obesity in Geneva Dr. Neil Mann presented a study of 99 patients. Half were put on a high protein diet, the other half on a high carbohydrate low glycemic index diet and followed for one year with periodic blood tests and examinations by their family doctors. The study population’s age ranged from 30 to 75 years and their body mass index varied from 27 to 40. The hemoglobin A1C level that is a measure of severity of the diabetic condition ranged from 6.5% to 10%.

The high-protein diet was structured so that 30% of calories came from protein, 40% came from carbohydrates and 30% came from fat. With the high-carbohydrate low glycemic index diet 15% of the calories came from protein, 55% from low glycemic index carbs and 30% from fat. In both groups the total calorie intake per day was restricted to 1500 calories and the carbohydrates were given as low glycemic index carbohydrates (less processed). In both groups the diabetes was better controlled with hemoglobin A1C, triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels normalizing. Both groups also showed an equal amount of weight loss that stayed down as long the patients adhered to the diet. However, the high-protein group was able to reduce diabetes pills (metformin) and insulin achieving the same results as the high-carbohydrate low glycemic index group that could not reduce their medications. The conventional approach is to use a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet along with medication. However, this diet tends to lead to higher triglyceride levels, higher blood sugar levels and a reduction in the good cholesterol (HDL).

High-protein, Low-refined carb diet useful in controlling diabetes

High-protein, Low-refined carb diet useful in controlling diabetes

Dr. Mann who is a professor and head of the department of nutrition and food science at RMIT University, Melbourne, explained the people get confused when they hear the term high-protein diet as they think of the Atkins diet where the protein component was much higher. The diet that was investigated here is a more natural diet consisting of slightly higher protein and less processed carbohydrates. By containing more fat than in the conventional diabetic diet the patient is not getting hungry and finds it easy to stick to the diet, which leads to weight loss and improvement of the metabolism. Many patients can normalize their blood values and often even get off their diabetic medication (under careful supervision by their treating physician). The physician will address the three components of diabetic control (energy balance, glycemic control, and vascular complications) by recommending to the patient this high-protein/low-carb diet. This likely will replace the conventional approach of using a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet.

More information about a Mediterranean type diet in firefighter’s, which is very similar to this study: http://nethealthbook.com/news/mediterranean-diet-benefits-us-workers/

Reference: 16th European Congress on Obesity, Geneva June 23, 2008

Last edited November 4, 2014

Nov
01
2006

Body Can Fight Weight Loss

Embarking on a weight loss program needs long-term commitment and persistence. Many dieters have experienced the yo-yo effect of good initial results in losing weight, after which the weight loss stopped, and gradually the weight was gained back. Often dieters blame themselves for their lack of success or are criticized for a lack of self-control.
The “plateau effect” has been discussed and documented before, and now an Australian study has found that “it is not just you”. After initial success and weight loss the human body is designed to strongly resist attempts to lose weight. Dr. Neil King from Queensland University of Technology does research on appetite regulation and energy balance. He conducted studies on groups of people who were overweight and obese people. He found that weight loss from exercise and calorie restriction stops at a certain point, and this plateau remains firmly in place for a prolonged time, despite continuing dieting and exercise.

In the first study 30 obese men and women from Britain took part in a 12-week, laboratory based exercise program in which they exercised five times a week. The second study observed the weight loss in 200 Australian men who were enrolled in a commercial weight loss program, which involved both an exercise program and dietary advice. Although both groups followed different plans, their weight loss still plateaued. The first group averaged a loss of 3 kg during the first 8 weeks, and weight loss in the next 4 weeks was markedly reduced (0.7 kg). The second group had a variable pattern of weight loss, but it, too, showed a plateau.

Body Can Fight Weight Loss

Body Can Fight Weight Loss

Researchers believe that the human body is designed to cope with famine. As a result there is a built-in mechanism responsible for weight loss resistance. It may be a source of frustration to people on a weight loss program in a society where there are no food shortages, but it is meant to be a lifesaver in times when there was a shortage of food.
For the person who wants to lose weight it involves taking a closer look at the caloric output. Longer exercise times, higher intensity or cross training can combat the plateau effect, but patience is also needed along with the determination to carry on with the program.

More information about weight loss: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/weight-loss-and-diet/

Reference: The Medical Post, October 10, 2006, page 19

Last edited November 1, 2014

Jun
01
2005

Lose Fat With Omega-3 Fish Oil And Exercise

Omega-3 fish oil has been recognized to have significant benefits for healthy blood vessels and heart health. Ideally fish, which is rich in omega-3 fats, should be eaten several times per week, and salmon, mackerel or sardines are excellent choices. Some individuals are not fond of these choices and do not get enough of omega-3 fats. There is still the alternative to take fish oil. Most people would cringe at the idea of swallowing a spoonful of cod liver oil, but fish oil, which can be taken encased in a gelatin capsule is no longer a “yuck” experience.
It is certainly worthwhile to take a closer look at omega-3 fish oil, as new research from Adelaide, Australia has come into the forefront, associating fish oil with health benefits. Dr. Peter Howe, PhD from the South Australian University’s School of Health Sciences supervised research on patients with metabolic syndrome. They were overweight, had high blood pressure, a high insulin level and high blood fat or triglyceride levels. The patients participated in a 12-week program, which not only included moderate aerobic exercise three times per week, but also the intake of fish oil or sunflower oil. A control group received sunflower oil combined with exercise. The difference was quite significant: those on a regimen of exercise and fish oil supplementation lost more body fat mass than those who were using sunflower oil and adhered to an exercise program.
Exercise alone and fish oil alone did not produce these effects. It was the combination that made the difference! The researchers state that omega-3 fatty acids cause a switch to enzymes that burn fat, but exercise is the driver, which increases the metabolic rate, so fat loss becomes possible. It was also found that the winning combination of fish oil and exercise promoted a decrease in blood pressure and triglyceride levels.

Lose Fat With Omega-3 Fish Oil And Exercise

Lose Fat With Omega-3 Fish Oil And Exercise

Dr. Howe noted that not only did it reduce body fat (weight loss mostly noticeable in the abdominal area), but also it was beneficial to the patients’ general health. It is the protective effect of omega-3 fish oil on blood vessels, which is making them more elastic and more efficient in transporting nutrients to the muscles.

More information of good and bad fatty acids: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/nutrition/fat-good-bad-fatty-acids/

Reference: The Medical Post, May 3, 2005, page 15

Last edited October 28, 2014

Mar
01
2005

Asian Diet To Manage Menopause

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) has not only benefits. The potential side effects have become evident, and as a result, doctors have cautioned their patients, that HRT may not be the answer for every menopausal woman. However, lately natural hormone replacement therapy has become popular as an alternative. According to statistics only 20% of Asian women are plagued by hot flashes during menopause as compared to 80% of Westerners. A lifestyle intervention trial from Australia taught 120 women to adapt Japanese diet and lifestyle habits. The participants of the trial also started an exercise program for women, drank lots of water, increased calcium intake and increased the intake of plant-estrogens. Researchers had chosen this model, as Japanese women average five more years of healthy living than their sisters in the West. The spotlight of the research continues to focus on plant-based estrogens. Isoflavone precursors are found in soy (which is widely consumed in Asia), but it is also present in fruits, vegetables, legumes and seeds such as flax. We do not know too much about the long-term effect of manufactured or isolated soy products, and so it is best to stay with the natural soy foods such as edamame (soy beans), tofu, tempeh and miso. Beside soy foods, lots of vegetables, beans and fruit are beneficial, and ground flax seed has also shown to decrease menopausal symptoms. Research in Chinese women has shown a modest association between post-menopausal soy intake and increased bone density.

Asian Diet To Manage Menopause

Asian Diet To Manage Menopause

Compared to this, the “typical” North American diet isn’t an accessory to good health; being high in white flour, sugar, trans fat and providing saturated fat of meat and dairy products this is also bad news for menopause. In addition there is a correlation between an increased body mass index and one to five alcoholic drinks per week with increased hot flashes in peri-menopausal women. Research from Simmons College at the Harvard School of Public Health has shown that Western food habits of red meat and processed meats (hot dogs, bacon) put especially women’s health at risk.

Diabetes Risk Increased With Western Diet Over 14 Years (modified from Archives of Internal Medicine)

Diabetes Risk of Western Diet Over 14 years

Diabetes Risk of Western Diet Over 14 years

Some experts say that the health of Asian women is more robust due to their life-long soy intake, in which case it would make sense to not even wait for all the dreaded symptoms of menopause to appear, but make way for healthy diet choices early. Soy products have become immensely popular and are readily available in today’s market, and so it will be interesting to see if the next generation of women has an easier time going through menopause.

More info on menopause: http://nethealthbook.com/hormones/hypogonadism/secondary-hypogonadism/menopause/

References: 1.The Medical Post January 25, 2005, page 17     2. The Medical Post, February 1, 2005, page 17

Last edited October 27, 2014

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Mar
01
2005

Sleep More For Healthy Body Weight

Sleep deprivation is a common problem in a society governed by stress and hurry. Less hours of sleep may give us the illusion of being more effective, but it seems to be at the expense of our health. Lack of sleep affects our brain metabolism in various ways, and researchers at Columbia University recently examined data on 6115 people, ages 32 to 59 from a U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The findings were presented at a recent meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity. Of those who slept less than four hours per night 73% were more likely to be obese. Those who slept six hours per night were 23% more likely to be obese. The findings further suggested that in people who sleep less than eight hours per night (about three quarter of the 1024 participants), body mass index was inversely proportional to sleep duration.

The researchers also reported the reasons for that. Sleep deprivation lowers leptin, a blood protein that suppresses appetite and sends the signal, when the body had enough food. Lack of sleep also raises ghrelin levels, a polypeptide hormone from the stomach wall, which makes people want to eat. Laboratory tests of one study showed that making do with only four hours of sleep resulted in an 18% reduction of the leptin (the “appetite stopper”) and a 28% increase of the ghrelin (the “appetite animator”). Translated into plain text, it means that the breaks were removed and the signal given to eat by 46% more than in persons with a sufficient dose of sleep.

Increase of obesity risk due to sleep deprivation

obesity risk with sleep deprivation

Obesity risk with sleep deprivation

In addition sleep deprived healthy persons in their 20’s also craved more sweets and starchy foods than well-rested individuals and these added calories are stored as body fat. These hormonal changes are the biochemical evidence pointing to the connection of a sleep-deprived lifestyle with obesity and the associated health problems like diabetes and cardiovascular illness.
Drastic diets don’t seem to hold the answer. Part of the entire picture may be as simple as sleeping more and as a result weighing less.

Reference: The Medical Post, February 1, 2005,page 17

Last edited December 7, 2012

Jan
01
2005

Doctor Recommended Diet Against Obesity

After overindulging over the holidays, new years resolutions often have diets and life style choices high on the list.
These concerns are not something new. Doctors have had concerns about heart disease, diabetes, bulging waistlines and elevated cholesterol. For over three decades there have been concerns that elevated insulin levels may be associated with heart disease, and the constellation of symptoms was called “syndrome X” and later the “insulin resistance syndrome”.

Most recently the evils that are associated with body fat have been called the “metabolic syndrome”.The problem has assumed epidemic proportions: by 2001, 30% of US adults were considered obese with a body mass index of over 30, and 50% were overweight with a body mass index over 25. The form of type 2 diabetes (the adult onset of the disease) is predicted to double in the next 20 years. Physicians are reporting that they are seeing increasing numbers of children who are obese and suffer of type 2 diabetes. The major concern with an accumulation of body fat is the area of the abdomen (think of the “apple shape” with fat around the abdomen). This visceral fat tissue is not just innocently sitting there stopping you from closing buttons and zippers. It is very metabolically active and the substances it releases are a threat to your health. These fat cells secret pro-inflammatory substances called “cytokines.”

They also form substances that influence blood-clotting, factors that increase insulin resistance, substances like angiotensin, which are signing responsible for high blood pressure as well. Among the host of damaging substances is also the C-reactive protein, which is recognized as a risk factor for heart disease.

Doctor Recommended Diet Against Obesity

Doctor Recommended Diet Against Obesity

There is only one solution: to reduce the risk, excessive weight has to be shed. A sensible diet to achieve that goal has to contain less saturated fat, more fiber, and low glycemic index carbohydrates. Proper dietary habits are only one part. The other as important measure is life style intervention, which includes 2.5 to 3 hours of moderate exercise per week.
Many of the current diets promise weight loss without compromising health. All of them promote weight loss, provided they are strictly adhered to.
The high protein diets (Atkins, Protein Power Plan) are useful for rapid initial weight loss, however due to the overload of protein long term use is highly questionable. Kidney dysfunction as a consequence is a threat to health and no benefit at all!
Moderate carbohydrate diets, moderate fat, as well as moderate protein will remain the answer for long-term life style changes. It is also of significance that the glycemic index of carbohydrates plays a major role. Food intake, which favors carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, is associated with less heart disease. It has also been documented that insulin levels are more stable. Low glycemic carbohydrates include most vegetables, beans, lentils, as well as fruit like apples, pears and oranges. In contrast, high glycemic carbohydrates result in a fast insulin release, which ultimately leads to insulin resistance. Among these items are potatoes, crackers and other flour products, rice, puffed or flaked breakfast cereals, and tropical fruit (papayas, pineapple, melons).

For short-term dieters, it is an option to embark on any of the current diets without deleterious effects, no matter whether they are high-carb or low-carb. But at this point only the diets with moderate carbohydrates have shown to have some benefits on heart health.
Ultimately the wiser choice is to consume foods with a low to moderate glycemic index, by increasing the intake of vegetable proteins and oils and by choosing increased servings of vegetables and fruit instead of highly processed items. So, when you next walk through your supermarket, remember that most of the good stuff is in the periphery, namely the area where all the fresh, unprocessed or minimally processed foods are found.

More info about Mediterranean diet: http://nethealthbook.com/news/mediterranean-diet-benefits-us-workers/

Reference: Metabolic Syndrome Rounds, Oct. 2004, Vol. 2, Issues 8, St. Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto/On/Canada

Last edited October 27, 2014

Jan
03
2004

Any Diet A Winner Research Says

 

Dr. Michael Dansinger reported at a recent annual meeting of the American Heart Association about a study where he compared the effect of 4 major diet plans on the lowering of risk factors for heart disease.

Dr. Dansinger is the director of obesity research at the Tufts New England Medical Centre’s Atherosclerosis Research Lab in Boston. Originally, the objective was to see whether any of the following four diets investigated would be superior: the Atkins diet, the Ornish diet, the Zone diet and the Weight Watchers diet. In the table below there are links for each of these diet plans. Briefly, the Atkins diet is a high protein/low carbohydrate diet; the Ornish diet is a vegetarian/low-fat diet; the zone diet is a low-glycemic load/balanced protein/low fat diet; weight watchers is a calorie restricted diet.

160 obese patients were divided into 4 groups and assigend to one of these four diet plans. They were instructed in the type of diet plan they were to follow in 4 couselling sessions in the beginning of the weight loss program. The participants ranged in age from 22 to 72 years of age (average age 50) and had on average starting weight of 220 lbs.

Any Diet A Winner Research Says

Any Diet A Winner Research Says

They were to follow the diet plan for 2 months strictly and were allowed to follow less supervised for another 10 months. To the surprise of the research team under Dr. Dansinger they all lost about the same amount of weight (average of weight loss 10 lbs or 5% of body weight), in other words they were all successful with any of these programs and none was superior. Below are the results in modified tabular form.

Dr. Dansinger indicated that the focus would now have to shift from “which is the best diet plan” to “which is the best diet plan for a particular patient”. The doctor should attempt to fit the weight loss programs that fit patients’ food preferences best and that patients can easiest fit into their lifestyle. This will hopefully lead to the lowest dropout rate. This trial showed that the Zone diet and the Weight Watchers diet had the least dropout rates. But those who stayed on the Atkins or Ornish diet were successful with their weight loss program also, as these may have been fitting these patients best.

Comparison of various diets with regard to weight loss effectiveness
Diets that
were compared:
Reduction of
heart risk (Framingham score):
Dropout rates
over 1 year:
Atkins diet
12.3% 48%
Ornish diet 6.6% 50%
Zone diet 10.5% 35%
Weight Watchers
diet
14.7% 35%

In other words, if the one diet plan does not work satisfactorily, try another one. The common denominator with all food plans was some form of calorie restriction despite all of the differences.

Based on The Medical Post, Dec. 16, 2003 (p. 15).

Here is a link to the Net Health Book’s weight loss and diet chapter.

Last edited December 8, 2012

Mar
01
2003

Do Diet Drinks Make You More Hungry?

There were some articles recently that stated that diet drinks would make you hungry. However, they lacked proper controls. For this reason the gastroenterologist, Dr. Khursheed Jeejeebhoy, from the University of Toronto/Ontario designed a well controlled 10 week trial where several parameters were measured while patients were either snacking on diet drinks or on sugar containing soft drinks on top of their regular food intake, which was also closely monitored. The only requirement in the beginning of the study was that the subjects had to be overweight (body mass index of 27 to 28). Participants of the study were then divided randomly into subjects drinking soft drinks with either sugar or sugar substitutes. The drinks were blindly given, but meticulous records were kept of what was consumed. In addition the subjects were allowed to eat as many snacks as they liked with either sugar in it or sugar substitutes. Below  is a tabular summary of the findings.

The surprising findings were that the sugar group had an increased appetite and wanted to eat more and more. Sugar also raised the blood pressure significantly.

Do Diet Drinks Make You More Hungry...

Diet Drinks Make You More Hungry

The result was a significant weight gain during the 10 weeks of the trial while the other group (AS) had lost a significant amount of weight without any hunger pangs. The researchers also measured body fat versus muscle mass and found that the sugar group (SG) had gained fat mass without changing the muscle mass. On the other hand the atrtificail sweetener group (AG) had lost only fat mass, not muscle mass.

Dr. Jeejeebhoy concluded according to the article in The Medical Post (Jan.14, 2003 edition, page 27) that sugar in snacks and drinks should be kept to a minimum to prevent obesity from developing or getting worse. Patients with high blood pressure should avoid sugar as much as possible and stick to a low glycemic-index diet. Drinks should be diet drinks or fluids without sugar content. Do diet drinks make you more hungry? The answer is: “NO!”

Artificial Sweeteners And Weight Loss(10-Week Study)
Findings: Comments:
Additional Calories
from drinks per day:
AS: 250 Cal.       SG: 870 Cal.
total caloric intake over the 10 weeks: AS:decreasing steadily
SG:increasing
steadily
appetite sensation: AS:no appetite
complaints
SG:sugar stimulated
appetite
weight gain or loss: AS:significant weight loss SG:significant weight gain
activity level(exercise) no change in either groups (AS or SG)
blood pressure
AS:no change
SG:sugar increased
blood pressure significantly
AS=Artificial sweetener group SG=Sugar group

Comment: Not every diet drink is medically safe. Aspartame and Sodium cyclamate are brain excitotoxins. One of the safest alternatives to sugar is Stevia. Read this review about  sugar alternatives.

Last edited December 10, 2012