Fitness, Health News Headlines for 8/23/14

 Aging, Diet, Headlines, Obesity, Sleep  Comments Off on Fitness, Health News Headlines for 8/23/14
Aug 232014
 

Why Sleep Breaks Down With Age

Sleep Trackers Made Me More Interested in My Sleep

The Diet Coke Weight Gain Paradox

The One and Only Way to Get Healthy

The Man With Breasts

Sea Lions and Seals Likely Spread Tuberculosis to Ancient Peruvians

California Trees Source of Mystery Infections

Most Expensive Coffee Comes From Elephant’s No. 2

 

Fasting Improves Your Health

 Diet, Heart Health, Obesity, Sleep  Comments Off on Fasting Improves Your Health
Jun 192014
 

The Salk Institute published a report two years ago showing that mice who fasted for 16 hours every day were leaner, more energetic and healthier than mice who didn’t fast. Now the Intermountain Medical Center finds that the same may be true in humans.

One explanation for the Salk mice study is for two hours after eating your liver converts the nutrition in your meal into fat for later use. If you don’t eat for at least two hours, your liver then stops making fat molecules, and starts making molecules for cellular repair. However, if you keep eating every two to three hours, your liver keeps making fat molecules, and spends little time making molecules for cellular repair.

The researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center add that fasting forces your body to use up stored fat cells for energy. And fasting may trigger action from the human growth hormone (HGH) to protect lean muscle and metabolic balance.

The net result of periodic fasting are lower triglycerides, weight and blood sugar levels. And your liver is allowed more time to help repair damaged tissue throughout your body.

But why do some people find it difficult to not snack throughout the day and night?

Researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University speculate that our modern lifestyle and out-of-balance circadian system may be to blame. Artificial light helps us to sleep less and eat more. And the modern lifestyle encourages larger calorie intake at night.

Unfortunately, this may lead to obesity and poor long term health. Ideally, we should eat the most calories at breakfast, and the least at dinner. Combine this with sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night promotes the health benefits indicated in this new research results.

Think about it. If you’re sleeping 7 to 8 hours each night, that’s 7 to 8 hours you’re not eating. And if your can avoid eating for at least two hours before bed time, that’s a total of 9 to 10 hours of fasting. That gives your body 9 to 10 hours to repair your body tissues, rather than producing fat molecules.

This may be one of the reason that people who sleep 7 to 8 hours a night are healthier than people who sleep less.

Try these suggestions to increase your ability to fast for 10 to 12 hours each day.

  • Eat a large breakfast of proteins, healthy fats and whole grains.
  • Make dinner your smallest meal of the day.
  • Don’t reduce your calorie intake, but try to eat them within a 12 hour period during the daylight time period.
  • Try to get a good dose of natural sunlight during the day.
  • Don’t eat 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
  • Snack during the day with high protein snacks, such as nuts and seeds.
  • Limit your sugar intake, and stay away from low fiber carbohydrates.
  • Don’t drink high caffeine drinks after 2 pm.

If you can fast for 10 to 12 hours each day, you’ll significantly reduce your risks of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

New Research Shows How a Genetic Mutation of the Obesity Gene Increases Your Risk of Being Overweight

 Obesity  Comments Off on New Research Shows How a Genetic Mutation of the Obesity Gene Increases Your Risk of Being Overweight
Jul 162013
 

Results of a new study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation show that a mutation in the FTO gene

  • Makes fatty foods more tempting
  • And increases the level of the hunger hormone, ghrelin

People who get a mutated or high-risk version of the FTO gene from each parent are 70% more likely to become obese compared to those with the low-risk version of the gene.

Those with the high-risk version of the gene have higher levels of the hormone ghrelin. Past studies have shown that high levels of this appetite hormone make high-calorie foods more appealing. It is thought that ghrelin may influence our eating behavior by stimulating our brain’s reward systems.

This latest study confirms that people with the high-risk version of FTO find pictures of high-fat foods more appealing than people with the low-risk version. They are “biologically programmed to eat more,” according to Dr. Rachel Batterham of University College London.

A few ways that high-risk people can lower their ghrelin levels is with exercise, and eating more protein. Eventually, there may be ghrelin-blocking drugs that will help people with the high-risk versions of the FTO gene.

We now know that people with two copies of the high-risk version of the obesity gene FTO have an inherited risk of becoming obese. Their bodies produce more of the hunger hormone ghrelin, which induces them to eat more and eat high calorie foods. Exercise and protein rich foods help reduce the amount of ghrelin in our bodies. Eventually, however, a ghrelin blocking drug may be the answer in helping high risk people to avoid obesity.

For more information, read “Fat-boosting gene mystery solved” by BBC News, and “Hormone Ghrelin Raises Desire for High-Calorie Foods” by WebMD.

How an Intestinal Bacteria Prevents Obesity

 Diet, Gut Flora, Obesity  Comments Off on How an Intestinal Bacteria Prevents Obesity
May 142013
 

It is becoming increasingly clear that the type of bacteria we have in our gut plays an important role in determining if we are healthy or not. Maintain a healthy gut flora, and you may live a long and healthy life. But if you develop an unhealthy composition of gut bacteria, you may become prey to heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

And how do we maintain a healthy gut flora? With a healthy diet, of course.

A recently published study titled “Cross-Talk Between Akkermansia muciniphila and Intestinal Epithelium Controls Diet-Induced Obesity” concludes that a complex interaction between the  bacteria A. muciniphila and our intestines plays an important role in obesity and type 2 diabetes. And diet plays a large role in determining if we have a healthy amount of A. muciniphila in our intestines.

In genetically and diet-induced obese mice, the levels of A. muciniphila decreased dramatically, according to the researchers.  But why is this important to our health?

A. muciniphila resides in a mucus layer that covers our intestinal wall. This study shows that this bacteria plays an important role in maintaining that mucus layer and controlling inflammation. The mucus layer where this bacteria lives is part of our intestinal barrier. The intestinal barrier is our first line of defense against unwanted intruders trying to invade our bodies. It provides nutrition to healthy bacteria, and has high concentrations of the antibody IgA. In obese mice, not only is the population of A. muciniphila low, but the thickness of the mucus layer where it resides is thinner than normal.

It is still unclear how a healthy population of A. muciniphila and a normal intestinal barrier thickness affects obesity and diabetes, but the correlation is strong. Obese mice have lower than normal numbers of A. muciniphila and a thin mucus layer, while non-obese mice have normal numbers of the bacteria and normal mucus thickness.

So how do we maintain a healthy population of A. muciniphila which in turn gives us a healthy and functional intestinal barrier?

The researchers found that a prebiotic called oligofructose restores the population of A. muciniphila, and improves the function of the intestinal barrier.

But what is oligofructose?

Oligofructose is a synonym for fructo-oligosacchariede or FOS. FOS is part of a dietary fiber complex with inulin. Both have been shown to increase levels of healthy gut bacteria. Even though FOS can be taken as a supplement, the best way to get FOS and inulin is with a healthy diet. High concentrations of inulin and FOS are found in chicory and Jerusalem artichokes. But more common food sources are asparagus, leeks, onions, bananas and garlic.

Once again, science is showing us that to maintain our health, we need a healthy composition of bacteria in our gut. Not only can gut flora determine if we have a high risk of heart disease or cancer, but the composition of gut bacteria can also affect our weight and our risk of developing diabetes. This recent study concludes that the bacteria A. muciniphila plays a vital role in maintaining a functional intestinal barrier. A complex interaction between this bacteria, the protective mucus layer and our intestinal wall determines our risk for obesity and diabetes.

And the best way to grow and maintain a healthy colony of A. muciniphila is to eat a healthy diet low in unhealthy fats, and high in chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, leeks, onions, bananas and garlic.

Eat healthy, live long and prosper.

Sources:

Function of the Intestinal Barrier
Inulin and Oligofructose Are Part of the Dietary Fiber Complex
Prebiotic Canada – Inulin

Documentary: 10 Things You Need to Know About Losing Weight

 Diet, Exercise, Obesity  Comments Off on Documentary: 10 Things You Need to Know About Losing Weight
Mar 302013
 

In the “10 Things You Need To Know About Losing Weight” video, these weight loss topics are discussed:

  • Hunger mentally increases your urge for high calorie foods
  • Use a smaller plate size to decrease the amount of food you eat at each meal
  • You can eat a larger volume of low calorie foods to help you feel full
  • Keep a journal of everything that you eat
  • Proteins help you fell fuller longer
  • Exposing yourself to a large variety of food choices at each meal will make you eat more
  • Calcium in low fat dairy blocks fat absorption
  • Exercise afterburn effect
  • Stay physically active most of the day

 

 

How You Can Reduce Stress And Be Healthy

 Brain Health, Heart Health, Obesity, Sleep  Comments Off on How You Can Reduce Stress And Be Healthy
Feb 062013
 

We Americans like to chime about being part of the greatest nation in the world, and having the best work ethic anywhere. However, we pay a heavy price for our greatness and productivity. When it comes to worldwide life expectancy, we Americans don’t even make the top 40. According to the Central Intelligence Agency, the United States ranks 51 in a country comparison of life expectancy.

One of the reasons may be high stress levels. Stress levels that are a results of constantly wanting to be high achievers, and maintaining our expensive lifestyles. The price we pay is a less healthy and shorter life, even though we have the most expensive and perhaps the most advanced health care system in the world. This just proves that you can’t buy good health.

When we put ourselves under constant stress, we overexpose ourselves to cortisol and other stress hormones. Our body’s normal processes get disrupted by these hormones, and we increase our risk of health problems including:

  • Heart disease
  • Sleep problems
  • Digestive problems
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Memory problems
  • And skin problems

A new 5 year study conducted by the University of Buffalo, Stony Brook University and Grand Valley State University, has shown that helping others can buffer the bad effects of stress. Routinely doing something beneficial to others not only reduces stress levels, but also reduces mortality risks. Help others and you are less likely to die anytime soon.

Research has also failed to find any health benefits in receiving help. This may prove that giving is indeed better than receiving.

The researchers studied that stress levels and helping behavior of 846 participants from the Detroit, Michigan area. The participants in this study reported the amount of time they spent in the past 12 months helping friends, neighbors or relatives who did not live with them by

  • Providing transportation
  • Doing errands and shopping
  • Performing housework
  • Or providing child care and other beneficial tasks

The conclusions of this study showed strong evidence that helping others reduces your mortality risks by buffering the association between stress and mortality. This supports the conclusions of other studies that found people with long and healthy life spans have strong social associations with family and friends. So let’s provide a helping hand as often as we can and live long and prosper.

Sources:

University of Buffalo: Study Finds It Actually Is Better (and Healthier) to Give Than to Receive

Central Intelligence Agency: Country Comparison: Life Expectancy at Birth

Mayo Clinic: Stress: Constant Stress Puts Your Health at Risk

The “Obesity Paradox” Reexamined

 Obesity  Comments Off on The “Obesity Paradox” Reexamined
Jan 022013
 

The obesity paradox is a problematic statistically indication that slightly overweight people tend to live longer than people who weigh less than they do. This is a conclusion by a study published in the recent issue of JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association – January 2,2013).

This study compared people with various BMI’s or Body Mass Indexes. The study compared overweight BMI (25 to 30), grade 1 obesity BMI (30 to 35) and grades 2 and 3 obesity BMI (greater than 35) relative to the lower BMI level of 18.5 to 25.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), BMI is “a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. BMI is a fairly reliable indicator of body fatness for most people. BMI does not measure body fat directly, but research has shown that BMI correlates to direct measures of body fat.”

However, two problems with associating your BMI with health is that BMI

  • Doesn’t differentiate between fat and muscle mass
  • And BMI doesn’t take into account where the fat tissue is located in your body.

For example, if you have more healthy muscle mass than normal, you can have a BMI that indicates being overweight. However, you can be healthier than the average population of people who weight less than you do. Or, if most of your fat tissue is located just below your skin in your thigh and butt areas, you can be healthier than lighter people who have mostly abdominal or belly fat, also called visceral fat.

Visceral or belly fat is associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and various cancers. Visceral fat tends to accumulate deep in your abdominal cavity and surrounds your vital organs. On the other hand, fat located just below your skin in other areas of your body has no association with developing life threatening diseases.

In addition to not knowing what type of fat that you have and where it is located, some people with healthy BMI’s may be thin due to a chronic and life threatening illness.

The specific conclusions of this new study show statistically that grades 2 and 3 obesity, which have BMI’s greater than 35, were associated with significantly higher all-cause mortality. In other words, people with BMI’s greater than 35 have a significantly higher chance of dying prematurely than those with BMI’s between 18.5 and 25.

The problem with the Obesity Paradox is that overweight people with BMI’s between 25 and 30 have a significantly lower mortality rate than those with the presumably healthier BMI’s between 18.5 and 25. But as mentioned earlier, you have to take into account how much muscle mass you have relative to fat tissue, where the fat tissue is located and what type of fat tissue you have, and why you may have a lower BMI.

People with a lot of muscle mass and very little visceral fat will tend to be healthier than someone who weighs less but has more visceral fat relative to their muscle mass. And some people who weigh less may be suffering from a severe and life threatening illness.

That is why people must be careful with the conclusions of this study. The authors stress that their conclusions do not mean that we should gain more weight. We should have the proper diet and exercise program that allows us to develop more muscle mass and burns away visceral or belly fat.

In conclusion, BMI is an inexpensive way to determine your general state of health. However, it needs to be used in conjunction with other factors, such as how much muscle mass do you have relative to fat tissue, and how much visceral fat that you have relative to other types of fat.

References:

JAMA: Association of All-Cause Mortality With Overweight and Obesity Using Standard Body Mass Index Categories

CDC: About BMI For Adults