260318 Lower your blood pressure

260318 Lower your blood pressure

High blood pressure is often referred to as the silent killer because its effects are rarely felt until the disease has progressed to a dangerous level.

Here is a list of four things that you can do to potentially lower your blood pressure.

If you weigh too much, lose weight.

Look at yourself in the mirror. Can you see the fat hanging off your stomach and sides? Can you pinch more of an inch on your sides? If so, you need to lose weight. Can you see your toes? If not, you need to lose weight. Is your body mass index in the obese range? If so, lose weight.

With a 10% reduction in your weight, you will notice reductions in your blood pressure numbers.

Start becoming more physically active.

If your prime source of entertainment is watching TV, working on the computer, or socializing at the local tavern then it is time to get off your butt and get moving. Being physically active goes hand-in-hand with losing weight and they each complement one another.

Reduce eating foods that are high in salt and sodium.

Began with an inventory of the foods in your house. Look at the labels. Are they high in sodium? Do you have stacks of potato chips in the cupboards? Is there bacon and sausage in your refrigerator?

You can reduce the salt you eat by cooking your own food and not adding salt when you eat at the table. Canned vegetables, according to their labels, contain an overly high amount of sodium. You can eliminate much of this by rinsing the vegetables before you cook them. This removes much of the salty juices that contribute to the high salt content of the food.

Cut back on the alcohol you drink.

Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and generally, when you are drinking, you are with friends socializing and eating crap food. More than likely the food you eat during these times contains a lot of fat and salt.

If you already have high blood pressure and are taking medications, do not stop these medications until you talk with your doctor.

020118 Boosting your insulin response with increased lean muscle mass

020118 Boosting your insulin response with increased lean muscle mass

A brief snapshot of Insulin resistance and why it is important to avoid.

This condition causes the body’s muscles, fat and liver cells to improperly respond to insulin. The pancreas makes the hormone, insulin. This hormone helps the cells take in and use glucose which in turn is a fuel used by the body to function. If there is not enough circulating insulin, excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream and increases the potential for developing diabetes. It is in everyone’s best interest to have as much lean muscle mass as possible to possibly avoid this serious medical condition, especially as you get older.

One of the unwelcome conditions of aging is muscular frailty, also known as sarcopenia[1]. Without strong muscles, coordination and balance problems begin to appear. These problems may be held at bay by greater lean muscle mass. A new study reports that increasing skeletal muscle mass by as little as 10%, is also associated with an 11% reduction in the body’s resistance to insulin and a 12% lower risk of developing transitional, prediabetes or diabetes.

Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles look at the data and 13,644 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Since these people were involved in the study between years of 1988 to 1994, the research is somewhat old. However when the muscle mass of one quarter of the participants was compared between those with the most muscle mass and those at the bottom with the least muscle mass, those with the greatest amount of fat three muscle mass were 63% less liable to get diabetes.

After making adjustments to leave out those with diabetes, the connection between muscle mass and improved insulin resistance became even stronger. According to the study[2], “increases in muscle mass above even average levels were associated with additional protection against insulin resistance and prediabetes.”

Not only is increasing your lean muscle mass important, but also losing weight helps to improve your metabolic health. Most of us already know that the fitter you are, the healthier you are probably going to be.

[1] Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass and coordination that results from the process of aging.

[2] Preethi Srikanthan, MD of the University of California Los Angeles, USA

121217 Balance out your exercise program

121217 Balance out your exercise program

It is well established that exercise benefits us in many areas such as increased self confidence, improvements in our moods, and longer healthier lives. Simply being able to do what you want to do physically and mentally may be made easier by engaging in a long term pattern of running, weight training, stretching/balance, and recreational sporting exertions.

During spring time the runners start hitting the road, especially those who are getting ready to run Bloomsday here in Spokane, Washington. While running is an admirable endeavor, it is not enough to keep your body in top physical condition. Our body needs physical and mental stimulation which is only achievable through the use of a variety of methods.

Cyclic exercise, similar to running, stresses the cardiovascular abilities thereby increasing the capacity to engage in lengthy activities through enhanced oxygen transfer to the working muscles. However, exercising in this manner will not increase the lean muscle mass composition of our body. In order to do that resistance training is necessary.

Weight training helps build strong bones.

Bone density responds directly to increases in intensities of load and site specifically to the greater pressures required to move the load. Adaptations take place within the structures of the bone that make it more resistant to the imposed loads and thus stronger.

Women in particular need this load bearing weight on their long bones, the spine and hips to stave off and help prevent osteopenia and osteoporosis from occurring. Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease that progressively decreases the bone density which in time leaves them weakened and vulnerable to fracture.

 

It is well established that exercise benefits us in many areas such as increased self confidence, improvements in our moods, and longer healthier lives. Simply being able to do what you want to do physically and mentally may be made easier by engaging in a long term pattern of running, weight training, stretching/balance, and recreational sporting exertions.

Flexibility

Getting stronger helps in other ways too. The strength to recover from a slip may prevent a bone damaging fall. Postural muscles that are strengthened through weight training inevitably lead to improved posture and a reduced potential of lower back problems. Even though strength training is high on the list of maintaining a strong fit body other pieces of the equation are important too. For instance being flexible enough to tie your shoes or even scratch your back is an important part of living a full and healthy lifestyle.

Work the joints normal range of motion each day by following a stretching program. But be cautioned that static stretching performed before a strength training session has been found to lower the power output by as much as 8%. If you are a sprinter, thrower or recreational handball or tennis player stay away from these at the start of your activity. The proper place for a static stretch is at the end of the workout when the muscles are warm and receptive to change. Doing so before hand, is an invitation to injury.

Find a good stretching book; read up on the proper way to stretch and start applying these to your exercise program. Brad Walker’s Stretching Handbook or Bob Andersons Stretching are two of the premier ones on the market and each one has stood the test of time. Even though flexibility is important it is not the end of the line. Maintaining your balance becomes harder as we age.

Balance

Prevention begins with daily practice. Standing on one foot or with heel to toe for multiple seconds at a time (60-120) will help stave off this decline in balance. Leaning toward the floor on one leg with arms to the side or rear will change the center of gravity and will change the feel of the exercise. In each instance it is important to have the ability to catch yourself on something solid to prevent a dangerous fall from happening in the event you do lose your balance while doing these.

Of course there are many other ways to practice balance training but this article is not being written to list them all. Suffice it to say balance is a critical part of living a healthy life.

Bodily balance. A physical state or sense of being able to maintain bodily equilibrium

051217 Breakfast Power by Glenn Cardwell, part 2

051217 Breakfast Power by Glenn Cardwell, part 2

Breakfast
Not long ago I was asked to review the science on the benefits of breakfast for a cereal company. Although it is a common truism that “breakfast is good for you” I wanted to know if it remains good advice. So I plunged into 30+ research papers to see what was agreed about the first meal of the day. Here is what I learned.

A large Australian study from last year showed that breakfast was critical for school performance, boosting both literacy and numeracy skills, independent of the socio-economic group. This backed up a review of the previous 50 years of studies in school children. There is no doubt that breakfast is necessary to help you to learn new stuff. Usually not difficult with primary school kids because they wake up hungry. It is the upper high school kids we need to convince.

Breakfast habits changing
Twenty years ago just about every young kid ate breakfast, with only some older teenagers giving it a miss, rising to 15% of 19-24 year olds being breakfast skippers. Now we have nearly 1 in 4 of upper high school students missing breakfast, in Australia at least.

Two decades ago, over three quarters of adults ate breakfast. Now barely 6 out of 10 adults regularly eat breakfast, women being better than the menfolk. Why the decline? The most common excuse is “not enough time”, in other words not enough time to pour out cereal into a bowl, add milk and consume (Gee, that’s gotta take 6 whole minutes) or plonk two slices of bread into the toaster, shave/brush hair/pack lunch while you wait, then add peanut butter. Let’s see, that’s 7.5 minutes.

But then my concept of time and food differs to most people, a fact I accept and have resigned myself to, especially since the day I saw a line of cars outside the drive-thru section of a famous takeaway at 8 am on a school day.

What if you don’t fancy breakfast?
Don’t know how you can do it, frankly. Me? I can’t do without breakfast. No breakfast and I can’t do up shirt buttons, I squeeze Heel Balm onto my toothbrush and drive into oncoming traffic. I have a court order to eat breakfast by 7.30 am or face serving jail time.

You, of course, may be able to get away with it. Can I suggest that you at least have a banana, a yogurt or one of those breakfast drinks as you leave the house? With some glucose racing through your arteries you will make better decisions. Then, when you do feel hungry, eat smart, like choose a sandwich, fruit or a smoothie and not scarf some eye-level, salty, extruded snack from the vending machine. Just the term “extruded snack” should put you off.

What does it all mean?
It means what it has always meaned. Clever people eat breakfast and breakfast eating makes you clever. The evidence is pretty over-whelming.

There are plenty of choices to kick-start the day – breakfast cereals or muesli with milk, topped with nuts or a banana (my choice), wholegrain toast with peanut butter, poached eggs and mushrooms on toast, yogurt and canned fruit and you can think of more. If you buy your breakfast look beyond the cappuccino and croissant because you are worth a lot more than that. A lot more.

Selected references:

  • O’Dea JA, Mugridge AC. Nutritional quality of breakfast and physical activity independently predict the literacy and numeracy scores of children after adjusting for socioeconomic status. Health Education Research 2012; 27 (6): 975-985
    • Hoyland A, Dye L, Lawton CL. A systematic review of the effect of breakfast on the cognitive performance of children and adolescents. Nutrition Research Reviews 2009; 22: 220-243
    • Astbury NM, Taylor MA, Macdonald IA. Breakfast consumption affects appetite, energy intake, and the metabolic and endocrine responses to foods consumed later in the day in male habitual breakfast eaters. The Journal of Nutrition 2011; 141: 1381-1389

080417 Spare tire risks associated with carrying fat around your stomach. (2/2)

080417 Spare tire risks associated with carrying fat around your stomach. (2/2)

Continued from 030417

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.

Risk factors for arteriosclerosis appeared to be linked more strongly to tummy size than to whether a person had insulin resistance, Kahn and his team note.

The current study findings suggest that even people who are not obese can be at risk of arteriosclerosis, the authors note. Seemingly slim people can carry excess tummy fat and be resistant to insulin, they write, and can therefore be at risk for the blood vessel disease.

In an interview, Kahn noted that abdominal fat could play an essential role in people’s risk of future disease. Specifically, he said having a pot belly “is a critical component of metabolic syndrome,” a condition marked by insulin resistance and high blood pressure, and which often precedes diabetes and cardiovascular disease. SOURCE: Diabetes 2003;52:172-179.

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.

100916 Timing your meals to increase the effectiveness of your workouts

100916 Timing your meals to increase the effectiveness of your workouts

Morning workouts may be somewhat better for weight loss. There is some evidence showing that more fat is burned when exercising before eating breakfast. This may be because when exercising later on these sessions will be fueled by the proteins and carbohydrates from meals eaten earlier in the day.

However, if you have any type of a heart disease, working out in the morning may not be your best option because your risk of a heart attack is slightly elevated.

Some of the research is showing that exercise in the afternoon may be better for building strength and endurance. These same studies are showing that your aerobic capacity, coordination, flexibility, muscle strength, and reaction time show the greatest training peak between 1600 and 1900 hrs.

Even though the research is becoming clearer as to the best time to exercise each day, it is not going to make a hill of beans if these times are not good for you.

Each day is special, and each day you have to make a conscious decision as to when you are going to work out. The more habitual this workout time becomes the better the chances are that you are going to stick with it over the long haul.

As for deciding what time to eat your biggest meal of the day, you may want to keep this in mind: stuffing yourself at the local buffet shortly before going to bed will almost guarantee you of a poor night’s sleep because your body is working to digest all the food you ate.

310816 Eggs are OK now

Eggs are OK now[1]

Eggs are OK now, just as they were 40 years ago.

A new study out of the University of Finland confirms what our Mothers and Fathers told us back then (for those of us who were around back then). This study reports that eating an egg a day doesn’t increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, even in those genetically predisposed to a higher than normal effect of dietary cholesterol on their serum cholesterol levels.

This study is a direct contradiction from what we have been told for the last several decades. In fact, over the past few years, several studies have reclassified eggs back into the good to eat category.

Researchers found no association, in the participants of the Finnish study, among those with the APOE4 phenotype. This particular hereditary phenotype affects cholesterol metabolism and is present in about one third of the Finnish population who are also carriers.

[1] American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online February 2016

240816 Eat your Raspberries

Eat your Raspberries

In a review of scientific literature, published in the January 2016 issue of Advances in Nutrition the conclusion is “Raspberries have a number of heart and brain-health protective essential nutrients.”[1]

It seems as though Raspberries contain anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative and metabolic stabilizing activity. All of which are good news to those of us interested in maintaining our health.

Raspberries also have anthocyanins, a known inflammation suppressant. Additional benefits accrue from the high amounts of polyphenol in the berries. Polyphenol may help in preventing platelet buildup and reduce blood pressure too.

There is further good news for those with diabetes; “Raspberries have potential to help reduce factors contributing to metabolic syndrome, which has implications for diabetes development and overall cardiovascular and brain health” says lead author Britt M. Burton-Freeman, PhD, MS, Institute for Food Safety and Health, Illinois Institute of technology.”[2]

[1] DukeMedicine, April 2016, VOL. 22, No.4

[2] IBID

220816 Healthy movement

220816 Healthy movement

Healthy movement is beneficial to your body and at its lowest level, even some activity is better than doing nothing. If you are just starting out then gradually build up your endurance with 5 to 10 minute exercise breaks throughout the day. At the 10-minute level, your body begins to adapt and then noticeable changes become evident.

After you are able to exercise aerobically for at least 10 minutes, it is time to branch out by adding resistance exercises to the daily routine. One way to begin is by doing one 10-minute session of endurance work and then later on in the day doing 10-minutes of resistance training.

Alternate between aerobic and resistance training for at least thirty minutes for the day.

The aerobic exercises can be brisk walking, skipping rope, riding a bike or any other activity that is continuous and places a demand on your breathing and heart rate. After you are finished then cool down with static stretches, holding each one for fifteen to thirty seconds. Do this three to five times for each stretch.

For the resistance training start out with body weight calisthenics by doing 3-5 sets of fifteen to thirty bodyweight squats, push ups, calf raises, prone back extensions, curl ups, leg raises or others of your choosing. You can do these in a circuit or one exercise at a time. Stay with it for the full 10 minutes.

If you are over sixty-five, the health benefits of activity are just as important to you as they are to the younger people. Start slowly and build up your fitness levels over time. If you have chronic health problems, work around them and do what you can.

If you aren’t able to ride a bike or have access to a treadmill or other such equipment, then get one of the hand ergometers available at Costco for about $49.00 and exercise your upper body. Do counter top pushups by standing two or three feet away from a counter top and then doing pushups on it.

Do chair sits. Sit in and stand up from a chair without pushing on your legs with your hands as you stand up. Practice sitting down on a chair; standing up, walking away briskly for 10 feet, and then coming back and sitting in the chair again. Repeat this for a minute or more. This builds up leg strength and helps with your balance.

Practice your balance to help prevent falls by walking sideways, standing heel to toe; practicing the stork stand on one leg with the other bent ninety degrees at the hip and knee or any of the many other balancing exercises.