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030417 Spare tire risks associated with carrying fat around your stomach.(1/2)

030417 Spare tire risks associated with carrying fat around your stomach.(1/2)

By Danny M. O’Dell, MA. CSCS*D

According to recent research, those who have a large potbelly appear to have a higher risk of arteriosclerosis. This is the medical term for the fatty buildup on the lining of arteries that researchers now believe increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. SOURCE: Diabetes 2003;52:172-179

People who carried this “spare tire” of fat around their waists are more likely to have increased fat and cholesterol in their blood.

The study by doctors in Seattle also noted that insulin resistant people with excess abdominal fat also appeared to show higher concentrations of a substance known as apolipoprotein B (apoB) and lower levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, a “good” form of cholesterol. Previous studies have suggested that high levels of apoB may encourage the development of arteriosclerosis.

Study author Dr. Steven E. Kahn of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle, Washington, states that he and his colleagues suspect that a potbelly likely precedes insulin resistance. Once both conditions have set in, he noted, people’s bodies are more likely to be primed to develop arteriosclerosis.”We think that the deposition of fat in the inside of the abdomen is the critical determinant of insulin resistance in the general population,” Kahn said. “We think that the fat begets the insulin resistance, which helps produce” risk factors for arteriosclerosis, he added.

Kahn’s is not the first study to identify health hazards of potbellies. Although body fat tends to relocate to the abdomen with age, past research has shown that excess belly fat, compared to fat elsewhere on the body, can increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as up the chances of stroke in middle age.

In the current study, Kahn and his colleagues measured body fat distribution and screened for insulin resistance in 196 people. The authors also determined how much choesterol, fat, and apoB was present in each participant’s blood.

The average age of study participants was 53. They were all seemingly healthy, with no history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

Reporting in the January issue of Diabetes, Kahn and his colleagues discovered that people with bigger potbellies who were more resistant to insulin also had lower levels of HDL cholesterol and higher levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol–the “bad” form of cholesterol.

311216 Fat-the good and bad of it

311216 Fat-the good and bad of it

Just what you wanted to know entering the New Year festivities. Sometimes guilt trips work…

A key component in assessing an individual’s health and physical fitness is knowing the body composition makeup. Obesity (excessive body fat relative to body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or more) and becoming overweight (Adults with BMI between 25-29.9 kg/m2 or with children being in and over the 95th percentile for their age and sex) is at epidemic proportions in the United States and the trend is gathering momentum.

Right now we are at the top of the fat list compared to the majority of the nations in the world-an unfortunate but sad fact.

Being obese brings serious health consequences and reduces life expectancy by increasing the risk of developing serious diseases such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, aka the silent killer, type 2 diabetes, obstructive pulmonary disease, osteoarthritis and even certain kinds of cancer.

Just as too much fat in the body can cause problems, so can too little. Our body needs fat to operate in a normal physiological fashion. For example, the essential lipids such as the phospholipids are vital to cell membrane formation. The non essential lipids such as triglycerides which are found in the adipose (fat) tissue protect the body by providing a layer of thermal insulation. Fat tissue assists in storing metabolic fuel in the form of free fatty acids.

These same lipids are also involved in the storage and transport of the fat soluble A, D, E, and K vitamins and in helping to maintain the functionality of the nervous system. The menstrual cycle in females and the reproductive systems in both male and female rely on these cells, as does the growth and maturation processes of the pubescence child.

Thus, too little body fat as seen in those with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, or someone with an exercise addiction or even certain diseases such as cystic fibrosis can lead to serious physiological health related consequences.

The best option is to be in the normal range for body fat, not over or under the recommendations if you desire to have good health.

Testing the body fat levels

The previous article briefly discussed the near crisis issue of being overweight and the staggering rise of obesity in our nation. Here we are going to look behind the scenes at the testing methods that determine fat or fit.

A classification of the level of body fat relies on the standard relative body fat percentages commonly used across the world. These classifications are in turn then broken up into age, sex, and activity body fat percentages at recommended levels. Across the scale women carry more body fat than males and younger people of both sexes carry less fat than older adults. This is due to the role women have in the reproduction of our species.

What are the body composition measures used for?

Body composition measures are useful in estimating a healthy body weight and figuring out a recommended nutritional plan. Both of these components are essential in designing an exercise program that will be beneficial to the trainee. Athletes who participate in weight bracket sports such as bodybuilding and wrestling need to know their ideal weight in order to be competitive. Pediatricians and other health care professionals make note of these measurements while monitoring the growth of children and to identify those who are at risk of being under or over weight.

The population of our country is getting older and the changes in body composition are important indicators of whether the person is remaining healthy or not. In each case, the assessment of body fat helps to determine the nutritional and exercise prescription intervention strategies that play a prominent role in charting a course of action to improve health and fitness levels.

Background on the measurement procedures

The body is made up of water, protein, minerals and fat substances. Most body fat identification procedures rely upon the two component model which divides the body into two sections: fat free and the fat tissue. The fat free is made up of all the chemicals and the tissues including water, muscle and the bones. The rest is fat. The testing methods separate the water, protein and minerals from the fat and then give a percentage of lean body mass to fat mass. Stay active and healthy in your life.

150816 The metabolic syndrome and what it means to your health

150816 The metabolic syndrome and what it means to your health

The metabolic syndrome is the name given by the medical profession to a group of health risks having a strong potential to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. These unhealthy conditions are for the most part avoidable simply by eating less and getting more exercise.

The five components of the syndrome are:

  • A waist that is larger than 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men. Some men may be at risk even if their waist is greater than 37-39 inches.
  • Low cholesterol readings of the good HDL. Women should have numbers under 50 and men should have their numbers under 40.

Higher than normal, but not necessarily high numbers in the following categories:

  • Systolic blood pressure of 130 or higher and a diastolic reading of 85 or higher.
  • Fasting blood sugar count of 110 or higher
  • Tested triglycerides of 150 or above after fasting.

According to the doctors, a person with three or more of these five categories raises their risk of becoming diabetic and developing heart disease.

The research specialists believe the root cause of this syndrome is an inefficient insulin response.

The metabolic syndrome is the consequence of our body being ineffective in processing fats and sugars. The research shows that belly fat creates increased inflammation and a greater risk of heart disease in those with big bellies. These fat cells also release a product that can drive up blood pressure by reducing the blood vessels ability to relax between strokes. Additional problems with belly fat cells occur because they generate proteins that increase the process of insulin resistance.

In case you are wondering what the term insulin resistance means here is a brief explanation.

The hormone insulin makes it possible to remove glucose, also known as blood sugar, from the blood stream and put into the muscle tissues. The muscle uses this as energy for movement. If too much glucose is in the blood stream it is stored as fat. Therefore, the term insulin resistance means the body is having a hard time delivering the glucose to the muscle tissues (insulin resistance) so the amount of blood sugar rises in the blood stream.

The cause is the waist is too big! Our bellies are too fat, too large, too much over the belt, hanging out too far, you can call it whatever you want to, but the fact remains we are a nation of too much fat. And it is all in the wrong place.

290216 Eating clean

290216 Eating clean

The experts at Tufts University set out the basic principles of eating clean as described in the book Eating Clean for Dummies. These are simple, common sense, guidelines that follow good dietary advice.

Start out with whole foods, preferably right from the farm that produced them. These would include such food items as whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and chemical free meat. Included in this area will be low fat dairy products, unsalted nuts (Costco sells these and they are delicious) and many varieties of seeds.

Some people believe that if the food is frozen, it detracts from the nutrients. This is not so, because by neglecting the frozen food isle in the store, you miss the great food choices such as the countless fruits and vegetables available there. Don’t forget the canned beans either. Rinse the liquid off of them first and then have at it in your salads or other dishes.

The most recommended advice from numerous sources is to avoid processed foods. This means any food with a label on it. If you actually do this, you miss out on many healthful options. For example, sugar is processed but so are the other options that are sugar such as agave syrup, fruit concentrate, or honey. The message here is to lower your intake of sugar regardless of its source.

Eating clean means figuring out what are the best options for your eating habits. Some have success grazing all day with five to six small meals during the day. Others stick to a more traditional three meals, with healthy snacks between them. Just make sure the food you eat is more nutrient dense with fewer unhealthy fats, less sugar, and lower sodium contents.

Whether you like to cook or don’t like to cook, the fact of the matter is if you cook your own food, you decide the contents. This can mean less sugar, less fat and less sodium in each meal all of which contribute to a healthier eating style. Plus you may save money too.

The last bit of advice from the experts at Tufts University is to make healthy food choice every day. Choose from the tremendous options of foods in the stores and make certain to get all three categories in your meals. These include the lean proteins found in fish, chicken, and vegetables. Stock up on whole grains of all sorts and use them in your cooking along with high fiber carbs and unsaturated fats[1].

Alter your eating habits one at a time; soon you will notice the benefits of the changes in your health and overall self-confidence.

[1] http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fat/art-20045550

Monounsaturated fatty acids. This is a type of fat found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that these fatty acids may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.

281013 Increased belly fat raises your risk for heart disease and cancer

Increased belly fat raises your risk for heart disease and cancer

A study of 3000 Americans, recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology on 10, July, concluded that those with excess belly fat had a greater risk of developing heart disease and cancer in comparison to those who had excess fat elsewhere on their body. These citizens, average age of fifty, were followed for seven years during the study.

During this time, ninety of them had some sort of a cardiovascular episode, one hundred and forty one were diagnosed with cancer, and there were seventy-one deaths out of the original 3000 participants. It is unknown what caused these deaths.

Belly fat, the fat surrounding the organs in the abdominal cavity, is associated with raising the risk of both heart disease and cancer. The researchers admitted that this study did not show a clear cause-and-effect but there are strong connections.

Belly fat is also often an issue found in those with the metabolic syndrome, which is a grouping of known risk factors for poor health such as unhealthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels and high blood pressure. Each of these puts one in jeopardy of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes and a strokes.

Changing the diet and getting more exercise each day can have significant influences on these health conditions.

Risk factors that you can control toward keeping your heart healthy

• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol
• High triglycerides
• Diabetes
• Smoking
• Being over weight
• Alcohol consumption
• Excess stress
• Physical inactivity

You can take steps to mitigate each one of these if you have the mind to do so. Some may have to use various forms of medical interventions to help control their high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and diabetes. But the remainder, smoking, being overweight, alcohol consumption, excess stress and physical inactivity are squarely within your ability to change.

231013 An introduction into strength and power training for all ages

An introduction into strength and power training for all ages

It turns out there are effective actions you can do to positively alter your health. They can help improve your blood sugar and cholesterol levels, help improve your mood, make you stronger and more powerful, and at the same time make your bones stronger to help ward off fractures. These are not the only benefits these actions, not by a long shot.

They can potentially help you avoid disability, frailty and retain that precious independence we all want to have as we age.

Strength training can do all of this.

It is a well-known fact that strength training offers all of the benefits previously mentioned, in addition to many others such as are listed in the following section from the Harvard Medical School.

“Practically any regular exercise benefits your health. Strength training specifically helps in the following ways:

• Strengthens muscles
• Strengthens bones
• Prevents falls and fractures by improving balance and preserving power to correct missteps
• Helps to control blood sugar
• Relieves some of the load carried by the heart
• Improves cholesterol levels
• Improves the body’s ability to pluck oxygen and nutrients from the blood stream
• Boosts metabolism even while sleeping and thus helps keep weight within a healthy range
• Prevents or eases lower back pain
• Relieves arthritis pain and expands limited range of motion
• Raises confidence , brightens mood, and helps fight mild to moderate depression
• Wards off loss of independence by keeping muscles strong enough for routine tasks”

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) there is now a heightened awareness of the benefits of strength training. There is also the fact that only a small percentage of the American population have actually started a strength training program. This percentage is estimated at just slightly under 22% for men and 18% of the women in our nation who are strength training twice a week on a regular basis.

This percentage figure is far below the U.S. governments Healthy People 2010 goal of 30% of the adults in America who make strength training a part of their exercise program.

060913 Increase your diabetes protection by lifting weights – part two

Increase your diabetes protection by lifting weights – part two

If you are one who is overweight and/or physically inactive, before beginning any type of exercise program talk to your doctor first because this activity is going to challenge your heart. After you have talked to your doctor and mutually agree that physical exercise is going to benefit you, find a certified trainer to get you started in the right direction.

Certified trainer’s from the NSCA and ACSM know how to demonstrate and instruct you how to do the exercises correctly and have the professional expertise to correctly setup physical fitness programs, including strength training that will take into consideration your present physical fitness. It is easy to be injured and if you are older it is correspondingly harder to recover from an injury suffered in the weight room.

The Dr. Rimm ends by saying it is “not necessary to focus on the number of minutes of weight training to take on each week.” He says, “you don’t have to do 150 minutes a week, although that is a good target. Anything will help. In terms of the biology, building some muscle is better than none at all because that will lower your blood glucose levels. So modest amounts of weightlifting will help retain lean muscle mass.”

When lifting, begin your program exercising the large muscle groups rather than smaller ones such as your biceps. These large muscles burn more energy and make a larger contribution to increases in your lean muscle mass. Exercises such as the military press, pull downs, bench presses, barbell rows, squats and dead lifts will not only increase your strength levels but will also burn calories long after the session is over. Unlike aerobics, which quickly lose their calorie burning after effects within a short time span, resistance training continues to burn the calories substantially longer.

010713 Physical activity guidelines and the benefits of walking

Physical activity guidelines and the benefits of walking

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommends at least two and a half hours of strength training per week working muscle groups such as the shoulders, chest, upper back, lower back, legs, and abdominal muscles. And two and a half hours of moderate aerobic activity spread throughout the week. Exercise time is decreased if the intensity is higher. In this case, DHHS recommends one hour and fifteen minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, again spread throughout the week.

You will note there are no weekend warrior (meaning someone who tries to get all of their exercise time in on one day) recommendations here. Those who try to cram it all in on one-day or over two days frequently end up injured.

If you are not able to set aside 30 minutes each day, then do your exercises in 10-minute bursts over the course of the day.

Participating in a daily regimen of physical activity not only enhances your heart, lungs, and circulatory systems it also eases the pain of arthritis.

This may sound counterintuitive to the arthritis sufferer but the physical act of moving the joints keeps the synovial fluid, the transparent, viscid fluid secreted by the synovial membrane and found in joint cavities, bursae, and tendon sheaths, of the joints equally spread throughout them.

Walking can help you attain and maintain a healthy weight, which is important because numerous studies have found a link between obesity and cancer of the colon, esophagus, kidneys, the breast in postmenopausal women, and the uterus.

Physical activity can also reduce your risk of coronary artery disease, improve the efficiency of your cardiovascular system and boost the high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol and can even help manage or prevent high blood pressure. As a side note, losing excess fat weight also has the tendency to lower your blood pressure numbers and make you feel better about yourself.

Fighting depression can be a lifelong task but scientists find that physical activity can be a useful addition to pharmacology and therapy for treating depression. If you are depressed, see someone and get help. Physical activity helps ease the stress of the day, helps cut back on anxiety, helps you sleep better, and boosts your spirits for facing the day.

Walking, as well as other physical activity can help prevent the risk of type II diabetes. Additionally physical activity may also make it possible to decrease the amount of insulin or other types of medications you may be taking to control your diabetes. It goes without saying, but I am going to say it anyway, see your Doctor before altering your medication.

Osteoporosis is a scary term for those with the diagnosis. Walking puts a load on the bones, which in turn causes them to become stronger, which in the long-term may well prevent fractures. Physical activity combined with a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D may help prevent or slow the progression of osteoporosis.

Summary:

There are many good reasons to exercise and probably 100 times that many excuses for not exercising. The decision is up to you as to whether not you take advantage of the opportunities to exercise and thereby improve your health or simply sit around and complain about it.

300513 Do you need reasons to exercise?

300513 Do you need reasons to exercise?

Some people just naturally seem to be able to stay active every single day with their exercise program. For these folks it’s a daily part of their routine and if they miss a day, they feel terrible for doing so. For reasons unknown, others don’t have that same drive to stay on the fitness path.

If you are one of these people then perhaps, looking at some of the reasons to exercise may encourage you to reconsider your choice of not exercising.

The number one reason on this short list is the fact that exercise reduces the risk of dying prematurely. Notably, this is true of the diseases that are associated with your heart and the circulatory system.

Regular activity reduces the risk of developing colon cancer and diabetes.

Physical activity plays a prominent role in weight control while at the same time building and maintaining healthy bones, joints and muscles.

High blood pressure is often called the silent killer because most people don’t know they have high blood pressure. There are no symptoms until the disease has progressed to a dangerous degree. Get your blood pressure checked on a regular basis. Spend some money and get a home model blood pressure monitor. If you do this, make certain the readings are consistent with your doctors. Take yours in and get the readings at the doctor’s office so you know if yours is reading the same.

Regular exercise can reduce these readings or reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure. Losing weight has a similar effect on some blood pressure numbers.

Exercise produces endorphins (1), the feel good chemicals your body manufactures. These not only help promote a feeling of wellbeing, they may diminish depression and help with anxiety issues.

Recent studies have shown increasingly beneficial results of cardiovascular and strength training for the elderly populations in the prevention of falls, increased balance, confidence and flexibility.

(1) en•dor•phin, noun \en-ˈdȯr-fən\
Definition of ENDORPHIN: any of a group of endogenous peptides (as enkephalin) found especially in the brain that bind chiefly to opiate receptors and produce some pharmacological effects (as pain relief) like those of opiates; specifically : beta-endorphin

030413 Aging and insulin resistance

Aging and insulin resistance (1)

The fact that insulin resistance increases with age is not clear, however it does, and as we get older we must be consciously aware of this fact of life.

Some research scientists believe that it is a problem with the insulin signaling inside of the cell. Glucose transference into each cell depends upon transporters to bring the glucose into the cell. Physical activity including aerobics and strength training increases the activity of these transporters.

A moderate to vigorous intensity workout carries with it beneficial effects for least a day and perhaps even longer. This translates into increased insulin action during these after training periods. Not only does activity increase insulin sensitivity they can also decrease insulin resistance. Brenda Davy, associate professor of nutrition at Virginia Tech, states, “Muscle contraction causes muscle cells to take-up glucose even without insulin. That is one reason why aerobic or resistance exercise is particularly beneficial for individual diabetes. Even if you are insulin resistant, you can still reduce blood glucose levels.”

This is good news if you are on the borderline of being diabetic.

Here is a potential plan to help reduce your chances of becoming diabetic.

As can be seen, both aerobic and resistance training have great benefits. Some people swear that aerobic exercise is more likely to reduce the weight or as other individuals believe just as firmly that resistance training is the key to losing weight. Well both are right, but combining the two potentiates the benefits of both.

This was clearly demonstrated in one study by research scientists who divided 262 diabetics into two groups who participated for nine months: one group did aerobic and resistance training and the second group did nothing. The results found that only those who participated in both forms of exercise actually lowered their long-term glucose levels. The description of the individuals involved did not indicate if they had any type of arthritic conditions that precluded them from some of the activities.

If you decide to do strength training, pick out 8 to 10 major muscle group exercises and aim for 8 to 12 repetitions for 3 to 4 sets 2 to 3 times a week. If your program is designed correctly, you will notice improvements within 2 to 3 weeks.

As for your aerobic training, try to get a minimum of a half hour of brisk activity five times a week. Don’t expect to expend a lot of calories in such a short amount of time because it is not going to happen. The important thing to remember is being active on a daily basis every day of your life.

The downside to aerobic conditioning, especially if you are considering jogging or running and are older, is arthritis. Having arthritis in your joints may cause undue pain if you participate in the aforementioned activities.

(1) Insulin resistance, in which the body cannot use insulin effectively

(2) Nutrition Action Health Newsletter

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