The findings of recent research attracted my attention as we begin another flu season. Over the course of three flu seasons, researchers from the University of Michigan School of Public Health reviewed data from 1,783 men and women in Managua. They also collected swabs from the participants’ noses and throats, which were subsequently analyzed for viral RNA to see if they were shedding the influenza virus. Obese persons required 42 percent longer to get rid of the flu virus than their thinner counterparts, according to the researchers. Obese people took 104 percent longer to recover than those who merely had moderate flu symptoms.
While more research is needed to verify these findings, they provide a compelling reason to begin losing weight if you are overweight. In addition, everyone, especially the elderly, children, and those with weak immune systems, should consider being vaccinated against the flu.
A Gut Feeling: Microbiome News
Thousands of Americans have swabbed their skin, saliva, and even feces and put the samples in the local mailbox over the past six years. They’re participants in the world’s biggest research of the human microbiome, which refers to the about 100 trillion bacteria, fungus, and other microorganisms that live in our bodies, the majority of which are found in the stomach and on our skin. The American Gut Project is a crowdsourced research project that aims to establish the world’s biggest public database on the human microbiome, specifically the intestinal microbiome, with the ultimate objective of informing future studies. It’s also an outstanding example of “citizen science,” which entails data collecting by the general population in conjunction with qualified scientists.
The initiative is already showing signs of success
The first findings, based on stool samples given by more than 10,000 people, were published in May by the study team. Despite its name, the American Gut Project accepts donations from 42 countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States. The volunteers also filled out health and lifestyle questionnaires. Researchers analyzed a genetic marker called 16S rRNA, which is specific to bacteria, to determine the composition of these samples. They discovered interesting tendencies after examining the data.
The More Plants, the better
A varied diet has long been thought to be important for healthy gut microbiota. The findings of the American Gut Project back this up. Indeed, regardless of the exact diet (vegetarian, vegan, etc.), they followed participants who ate more than 30 different types of plants per week had more varied gut microbiomes than those who ate 10 or fewer types of plants each week.
Insight into antibiotics
As expected, participants who reported taking antibiotics medication within the past month had gut microbiomes that were less diverse than those who hadn’t taken these drugs in the past year, What’s more, people who consumed more than 30 plants per week also had fewer plants may instead be eating more meat from animals treated with antibiotics.
Bacteria and the brain
When comparing patients with mental health issues including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder to their friends without mental health issues, the researchers discovered that their gut microbiomes had a similar bacterial makeup.
These and other findings are simply the tips of the iceberg in terms of what the American Gut Project data can reveal. I’m excited to read and report on future discoveries.
The good news regarding colon cancer is this: It develops slowly—precancerous polyps might take 10 to 15 years to develop into cancer—and early detection can frequently result in a full cure. That implies we have a good chance of preventing it through regular tests and preventive actions. Furthermore, research continues to look into the disease’s probable causes as well as new therapies, including those involving the microbiome and the role the gut may have in its progression.
A cancer diagnosis, regardless of the type, is scary. And the numbers are alarming: Colon cancer, commonly known as colorectal cancer, is the third most prevalent cancer in men and women in the United States, and the second-largest cause of cancer-related mortality. Overall, you have a one-in-twenty chance of contracting the disease in your lifetime. Women are at a somewhat lower risk than males. A number of other inescapable variables, in addition to your sex, have a role in your risk of developing colorectal cancer.
For example, if you have a family history of the illness or a history of colon polyps, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis), type 2 diabetes, or some genetic disorders, you’re at a higher risk. Being African-American or older than 50 years increases your chances. Many other risk factors, on the other hand, are controllable, and addressing them can protect you.
Gut Check: The role of the Microbiome
The relationship between colon cancer and the gut microbiome, a term for the billions of microorganisms (bacteria and fungus) that take up home there, is an exciting area of research surrounding possibly modifiable risk factors. Researchers have discovered the presence of numerous types of bacteria in aberrant colon tissue and tumors, and new research has begun to shed light on this connection.
Researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Simon Fraser University in British Columbia separately reported discovering fusobacteria in human colon tumors in 2011. This sparked a drive to further understand the link. However, their findings prompted further questions: do the microorganisms cause cancer directly? Or do the bacteria affect the immunological response of patients or produce substances that promote the development of cancer cells nearby?
Other bacteria, including B.fragilis and a type of E.coli, were discovered in colon cancers earlier this year. The science is a little clearer here: these bacteria, which are widely found in the gut, appear to work together to promote colon cancer growth.
Patients with hereditary risks for colon cancer, such as those with familial adenomatous polyposis, a rare inherited disorder that nearly always leads to the illness, were investigated by researchers from John Hopkins University in Baltimore. Polyps-growths of colon cells that have a mutation or two that might develop cancerous-benign cancer in these people. Sheets of B.fragilis and the suspicious E.coli strain of bacteria had infiltrated the mucous lining of the colon in these subjects, according to the researchers. They came to the conclusion that E.coli produces a toxin that destroys colon cell DNA, whereas B.fragilis damages DNA while also inflaming the tissue. These strains were found in relatively few healthy people’s colon tissue samples. The two bacterial species were also discovered inside the tumors.
In another experiment, researchers gave mice a cancer-causing chemical that causes alterations in colon cell DNA before infecting them with one of these bacteria or the other. What’s the end result? There aren’t many tumors if any at all. When they gave them both kinds, the tumors grew quickly. However, there are still unanswered questions, such as whether bacteria are always or just occasionally responsible for colon cancer in the general population. It’s also too early to apply these findings to cancer prevention directly. Antibiotics, for example, kill germs without discrimination, so using them to target only the types linked to the disease would likely cause more harm than benefit. But I’m hoping that these findings may lead to yet another preventative technique in the future: Doctors may be able to detect these bacteria in the colons of colonoscopy patients; those who process them may require more regular tests. Vaccines against microorganisms may be available in the future for individuals who are at high risk of contracting the disease.
Meanwhile, I see this research as more compelling evidence that you should take good care of your microbiome by practicing stress management, limiting antibiotic use to only when absolutely necessary, embracing probiotics and fermented foods, and following the diet and exercise recommendations below.
“Recent studies have begun to throw light on this relationship, with researchers discovering the presence of many particular kinds of bacteria among aberrant colon tissue and tumors.”
My approach to colon cancer prevention is based on making wise lifestyle changes that address modifiable factors.
DIET: One of the most powerful weapons we have is nutrition. A healthy diet can also help you maintain your weight—excess body fat, especially abdominal fat, is a risk factor for colon cancer—while also revealing your microbiota.
Focus on fiber: According to studies, every 10 grams of fiber consumed daily (about equivalent to a cup of beans) reduces the risk of colon cancer by 10%. This might be due to a number of factors: To begin, dietary fiber aids in the movement of material through the digestive system; as fiber consumption increases, waste toxins spend less time in touch with the colon. Low-fiber diets have also been related to chronic inflammation, which is a cause of cancer, as well as an imbalanced microbiota. Fiber, it turns out, feeds the billions of beneficial bacteria that dwell in our intestines, keeping them healthy and happy. Fiber is abundant in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. In studies, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly spinach, kale, broccoli, and other leafy greens, has been linked to a lower risk of colon cancer; aim for five to nine servings per day.
Eat very little: if any, red meat. Processed meats, as well as animal proteins like beef, lamb, and pork, are linked to a higher risk of colon cancer (like ham, bacon, hot dogs, and luncheon meat). In fact, eating just 50 grams of processed meats per day, equivalent to a few slices of ham, can increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent, while consuming 100 grams of red meat per day can increase the risk by 17 percent. Although the specific mechanism by which red and processed meat increases cancer risk is unknown, we do know that a high-processed-food diet leads to a dysbiotic, or imbalanced, microbiome. When feasible, replace this meat with fish, poultry, or whole soy meals.
Exercise: Colon cancer is one of the most researched diseases in connection to physical exercise, according to the National Cancer Institute. People who improve the frequency, duration, or intensity of their exercises can lower their risk by up to 40%, according to research. Moderate exercise may help you maintain a healthy weight by encouraging regularity. Exercise has also been proven to increase the diversity of microorganisms in the gut, and greater diversity equals better function. On most days of the week, I recommend doing at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity (such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, or dancing).
Supplements: Although you should prioritize lifestyle changes like diet and exercise, a few dietary supplements may help reduce your risk of colon cancer. Before including them in your routine, see your doctor.
Vitamin D: People with greater blood levels of Vitamin D had a lower risk of colon cancer, according to a number of epidemiologic (population) research. However, the findings of research looking into the influence of vitamin D supplementation on the risk of colon cancer have been mixed. For the time being, I recommend that everyone consume 2,000 IU of Vitamin D3 every day.
Folic acid: Some epidemiological data suggests that there isn’t a clear relationship between folic acid and supplements, and a number of studies have indicated that supplementing increases the risk of non-colorectal malignancies in general. For its preventive benefits, I still advocate supplementing with 400 mcg of folic acid daily but only as part of a B-50 B-complex 30 supplement that contains the complete spectrum of B-vitamins.
Turmeric: In animal models, this spice and its major component, curcumin, have been shown to be helpful in preventing and treating colon cancer—in fact, their benefits have been compared favorably to those reported for medicines. Curcumin and turmeric, in particular, may help to prevent colon cancer. Turmeric may be added to your diet by eating curry meals in restaurants or at home, or by drinking turmeric tea on a daily basis. To supplement, seek supercritical extracts in doses of 400 to 600 mg in health-food store tablets and capsules, and take them three times daily or as instructed on the package.
EARLY DETECTION is key to winning the colon cancer battle. Once you reach the age of 50, the following tests should be performed routinely. Screenings should be done earlier when there is a family history of colon cancer or polyps. African-Americans may also consider beginning colon cancer screening early, around age 45.
Fecal occult blood test (to test for blood in the feces) annually if normal.
A flexible sigmoidoscopy every life years if normal, OR
A colonoscopy (if normal, every 10 years), OR
A barium enema every to 5 to 10 years if normal, OR
A digital rectal exam at the same time the sigmoidoscopy or barium enema is performed (up to 10 percent of tumors can be detected by this low-tech test)
“Researchers found a link between high levels of cell phone radiation and evidence of carcinogenic activity in male rats, including the development of a rare type of tumor (Schwannoma) in the heart.”
Put down your remote control if you’re searching for a lifestyle approach to improve your odds. Researchers evaluated data from a health database of almost 500,000 British men and women in a recent examination. Specifically, they looked at how many hours they spent doing sedentary activities like watching TV or using a computer. Nearly 2,400 of these patients got colorectal cancer during the next six years. The researchers discovered that males who watched TV for at least four hours per day had a 35% higher risk of colorectal cancer than those who just watched for one hour per day. In women, no such relationship was discovered. (March 8, 2018; British Journal of Cancer)
This study could not establish cause and effect, and it remains unclear why women’s colorectal cancer risk did not appear to be altered. However, as compared to their less physically active male counterparts, men who engaged in higher levels of exercise had a 23 percent lower chance of acquiring colon cancer.
How safe are cell phones?
Cell phones were largely a curiosity. Many of us would be lost today if we didn’t have one. 95% of Americans now own a mobile phone of some type. According to a Pew Research Report issued in February, 77 percent of Americans own a smartphone, up from just over half in 2011. Cell phones are undeniably useful, and smartphones (defined as phones with Internet connectivity) have revolutionized the way most people interact. But is there a drawback to this device? Cell phones have raised concerns about their safety virtually since their inception. Some concerns are obvious: The National Safety Council, mobile phone usage was involved in more than a quarter of all vehicle accidents in 2014. However, distracted driving is only one problem. People have been wondering for years if the radiation generated by these devices is harmful to their health. Some academics, in particular, are concerned about a possible relationship between cell phone use and cancer. This is because radio waves may be absorbed by tissues near cell phone antennae, such as those in the skull. Furthermore, because many people no longer use landlines, the amount of time we spend chatting on our phones has grown.
The evidence for a cell phone-cancer relationship, on the other hand, is equivocal. For example, a working group of 31 scientists from 14 countries reviewed available research and found “limited evidence” of a positive association between cell phone usage and cancer. The World Health Organization classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields from cell phones as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” in 2011. Despite this, the researchers were unable to identify whether cell phones are to blame for the malignancies. Other big population studies in the United Kingdom and Denmark have shown no relationship between long-term cell phone usage and cancer. In the United States, despite the massive rise in mobile phone use, there has been no increase in the incidence of brain cancer since 1992.
Researchers recently studied the impact of cell phone radiation on rats. They discovered a connection between high levels of cell phone radiation and carcinogenic activity in male rats, including the formation of a rare kind of tumor in the heart (Schwannoma). Female rats and mice, on the other hand, showed no such significant findings. Although research is ongoing, the study’s author claims that his results have had no impact on his mobile phone usage. The US Food and Drug Administration maintains that cell phones are safe.
I urge that you should always use a headset or speaker mode when on a cell phone call, and if feasible, use a landline for extended conversations until we have more convincing proof. Keep your phone away from your body by clipping it to your belt or putting it in your pocket. Also, try to use your phone only when there is a good signal. Radiation exposure rose as the number of bars decreased.
When women reach menopause, they experience various physiological changes, many of which can have a significant influence on their lives. Hot flashes, nightly sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and exhaustion are all common menopausal symptoms. Fortunately, integrative medicine has a lot to offer in terms of treating them.
Mind Over Matter
Regardless of the symptom, your attitude has a big role in how successfully you adjust to menopause. The first point to keep in mind is that menopause is not a sickness. It is a typical part of a woman’s life cycle defined by menopause as a result of the ovary’s normal drop in estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones. Most symptoms are temporary and fade away over two to five years. You’ll be able to accept and adjust to menopause more easily if you think of it as a normal transition to the next stage of life.
It can cause major upsets in your daily routine, as well as the temptation to “fix” the problem with untested therapies that promise eternal youth.
Hot flashes normally start when your periods become irregular and last for one or two years after menstruation has stopped. Some women feel flushing or warmth in their faces and upper bodies while others sweat and get chills. Hot flashes can strike at any hour of the day or night.
While the exact cause of hot flashes is unknown some experts believe it has something to do with confusing signals from the hypothalamus brain area that regulates body temperature and sex hormones. The hypothalamus must be responding to lower estrogen production which might explain why a woman’s hot flashes stop when she takes estrogen replacement. To get relief naturally, do the following:
Avoid Triggers: Hot or spicy foods, alcohol, warm temperatures, hot beverages, and mental stress can all cause hot flashes.
Schedule an acupuncture session: Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina have discovered that acupuncture successfully reduced the frequency of hot flashes with the benefits lasting for six months after treatment ended.
Experiment with different herbs: Although it isn’t helpful for everyone black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) is one of the most well-studied traditional herbs for hot flashes and is a safe alternative. It is thought to interact with neurotransmitters including serotonin and norepinephrine although it has no estrogenic action. Other botanicals that may be useful include chaste berry, licorice root, fennel, and Dong Quai, which are recognized for their capacity to maintain hormonal balance in both China and the West.
Eat whole soy foods: Consume soy foods in their natural state. They may assist because of the phytoestrogens they contain. Two portions of entire (organic) soy foods, such as tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy nuts, or soy milk, should be consumed daily.
During the night, many women experience intense hot flashes accompanied by heavy sweating also called hyperhidrosis. Sweats might wake you up from a sound sleep causing tiredness during the day (see next page for ways to address fatigue.) Night sweats may be relieved by following the hot flashes guidelines above. Consider the following suggestions as well:
Keep your surroundings cool: Don’t underestimate the impact of just keeping yourself and your bedroom cooler than usual. Choose breathable cotton sleepwear. Use fans and keep the temperature low.
Milk thistle is a good option: Milk thistle is “possibly beneficial in decreasing menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats by around 70% when administered in conjunction with extracts of black cohosh, Dong Quai, red clover, American ginseng, and chaste berry.” According to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. While it is usually considered safe it can occasionally produce an allergic response or moderate stomach distress as well as interfere with certain drugs so consult your doctor first. Women with estrogen-related disorders such as uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or a history of hormone-related malignancies should avoid this plant.
Mood swings are a common occurrence
Menstrual irregularity can show as rapid inexplicable shifts in mood ranging from happiness to irritation, rage, anxiety, or melancholy when ovulation becomes unpredictable. While the majority of women do not develop a serious mood problem after menopause when emotional reactions do arise they can be stressful. Mind-body activities like yoga and meditation as well as physical activity can go a long way toward boosting mood. These natural methods might also be beneficial:
Adaptogens should be used: Rhodiola studies suggest that they can assist with mild-to-moderate depression and generalized anxiety. Rhodiola root includes rosavins which appear to increase the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain and may be responsible for the herb’s mood-boosting properties studies have shown that they can reduce anxiety and tiredness.
Take holy basil: For example, This herb (Ocimum Sanctum) often known as tulsi is considered sacred in India. It’s a cousin of our culinary basil, but with a stronger love-like scent and flavor. It’s also good as a tea. It has a calming effect on the mind and can be used alongside antidepressants.
Increase your turmeric intake: The yellow spice that gives curry and yellow mustard their color in animal models has shown promise as an antidepressant. Use black pepper to boost absorption when adding it to meals. If you wish to take turmeric supplements seek ones that contain piperine (Bioperine) the active ingredient in black pepper.
Menopause has no reason to make you less interested in or enjoy sex, although vaginal dryness can make it more difficult. Replens Vaginal Moisturizer and lubricants like Astroglide are two over-the-counter treatments that can assist. A topical estrogen gel, which restores normal vaginal tissue can also be prescribed by your doctor.
You’ve probably noticed that doing regular exercise and eating a nutritious diet gives you more energy and makes you feel better overall. According to a new study, such positive lifestyle practices may also reduce the discomfort associated with osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a condition that causes severe pain, soreness, and stiffness in the joints and surrounding cartilage, making it difficult to conduct daily tasks. Researchers at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom reviewed data from 68 prior studies that looked at self-management of osteoarthritis to see if symptoms react to lifestyle changes.
They discovered that a variety of techniques might assist with osteoarthritis symptoms. They discovered, for example, that taking a gram of fish oil per day was linked to symptoms. For example, they found that taking a gram of fish oil per day was linked to a reduction in pain in those who were afflicted. Their findings also show that reducing weight and participating in low-impact physical exercise might help patients with osteoarthritis reduce pain and lower cholesterol levels, which are often high in persons with the disease. “To maintain joints healthy, a mix of a decent diet and frequent activity is required,” the lead researchers explain. “You can’t have healthy joints if you just have one.”
My take: Conventional medicine doesn’t have many effective treatments for osteoarthritis, so it usually relies on pain medications and, in the end, surgery. Simple lifestyle adjustments can have a substantial influence on symptoms, according to one study.
Legs for Brain Health
It is self-evident that exercise is beneficial to the brain. According to research, exercise aids in the formation of new nerve cells in the brain, a process known as neurogenesis. A new study led by Italian experts offers light on how physical exercise does this. For 28 days, the researchers limited mobility in the rear legs of laboratory mice while allowing another group to walk freely. They looked at the subventricular region of the mouse brain, which is crucial for nerve cell development, towards the conclusion of the research.
They discovered that limiting physical activity lowered neural stem cells (stem cells that develop into nerve cells) by 70%. They also discovered that mice with restricted mobility had more undeveloped neurons and oligodendrocytes, which assist preserve nerve cells. Physical exercise, particularly that involving the lower limbs, appears to be critical for optimum brain growth and function, according to the research.
My take. Although these findings must be verified in people, they provide convincing evidence that exercise, particularly weight-bearing activity, can aid brain function. This should offer you even more incentive to walk, run, dance, or hike for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
Barbecue Smoke and Your Body
Anyone who has ever used a grill or gone to a picnic has breathed a fair amount of barbecue smoke. But, according to experts, what some people associate with summer is really a source of hazardous chemicals, and you don’t have to breathe it in to be impacted. Chinese researchers went to a barbeque and separated 20 people into three groups for their study: The first group ate grilled food and was exposed to grill fumes via inhalation and skin contact; the second group was only exposed to fumes via inhalation and skin contact, and the third group was only exposed to fumes via skin contact. From 17 hours before the barbeque until 35 hours after the event, the participants submit four urine samples. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are known to cause DNA mutations, respiratory illnesses, and lung cancer, were found in the samples.
The bulk of PAHs entered the body through the grilled meal itself, according to the researchers’ findings. The second most common cause was skin absorption, followed by inhalation. They claim that the oils generated during a barbeque may let PAHs pass through the epidermis more easily. My take: In this investigation, clothing provided little protection against PAHs and may allow for prolonged exposure when saturated with smoke. Limiting your intake of grilled foods and grilling to a minimum, as well as changing and cleaning your clothes as soon as possible afterward, is your greatest defense against these chemicals.
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is known as the “silent killer” because it typically goes unnoticed but is connected to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and other health issues. High blood pressure can also harm cognitive function, harm the kidneys, and cause erectile dysfunction, eyesight loss, heart failure, and aneurysm rupture.
Most people’s blood pressure rises with age in industrialized societies like ours. Age-related hypertension is linked to artery hardening and is so widespread that it’s considered a natural part of becoming older. However, it is not found in the few remaining hunter-gatherer societies implying that it is linked to lifestyle rather than the aging process.
Diet, physical exercise, and stress are all important lifestyle factors. Our excessive consumption of sodium-laden processed and manufactured foods, as well as quick-digesting carbohydrates, is a long cry from the natural whole-foods diet of hunter-gatherers, and it is likely to worsen blood pressure. Regular physical exercise helps and according to research, people keep arteries supple and maintain a healthy weight both linked to blood pressure. And, while hunter-gatherers aren’t immune to stress and worry we appear to have more of it.
Although lifestyle plays a role in hypertension, anti-hypertensive medicines remain the most common treatment option. Perhaps this is since taking a tablet is easier than changing behaviors and partially because the most widely prescribed blood pressure medications are relatively inexpensive when compared to other types of medications. Most of them have been on the market for a while and are also available in less-priced generic versions.
“Hypertension may be a silent killer, but it is also usually a very slow one. There is almost always a window of opportunity to experiment with lifestyle changes and other measures before starting on antihypertensive medication.”
A Look At Anti-Hypertensive Drugs
Because blood flow is essential for nearly all tasks, the body carefully regulates it through sophisticated neurological and hormonal mechanisms. Antihypertensive medicines have a variety of effects on these pathways. Beta-blockers for example, affect the neurological system whereas angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors affect hormonal pathways. Diuretics reduce blood volume by increasing urine excretion of water while calcium channel blockers relax the smooth muscle that lines blood vessels. To give a more efficient treatment it is common today to combine numerous drugs with diverse mechanisms of action to treat hypertension. Antihypertensive medications can cause headaches, weakness, tiredness, gastrointestinal issues, itching, visual changes, muscular cramps, dizziness, erectile dysfunction, low blood sugar, dry mouth, anxiety, and sleeplessness. Many patients who use these medications are looking for alternatives, which is understandable.
An Integrative Approach
Although hypertension is a silent killer, it usually kills slowly. There is nearly always a window of opportunity to try lifestyle changes and other measures before commencing anti-hypertensive medication. If these techniques fail to lower your blood pressure to a safe level and medication is required, ask your doctor to begin with the lowest dose of the powerful drug. When you combine medication with lifestyle changes and other therapy you can frequently stay on lower doses of fewer drugs. There are a variety of non-drug methods for preventing and treating hypertension including the ones listed below.
Both the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and the Mediterranean diet have been shown to help control high blood pressure. Weight loss can make a major difference as well. Fiber intake of roughly 3o grams per day (at least 14 grams per 1,000 calories consumed) can also be beneficial. (Note that fiber takes up to eight weeks of consistent ingestion to fully activate.) Hypertension is less likely in people who eat more fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, some recent studies have found that eating unsalted nuts, particularly pistachios but also other nuts helps lower blood pressure; the effective dose is a handful per day. Polyphenols, organic chemicals present in many plants can also aid notable sources to include cocoa and dark chocolate, and grapes. Omega-3 fats which can be found in grass-fed animal foods, fatty cold-water fish, and dietary supplements, are also beneficial. For a long time, salt has been linked to high blood pressure. According to a 2013 study, cutting daily intake from nine to twelve grams to five to six grams has a considerable favorable effect reducing it to three grams, maybe even better. Reduced consumption of processed and manufactured foods is the simplest way to achieve this. However, a lot of studies suggest and several experts agree that salt may not have as much of an impact on blood pressure as previously thought.
Blood pressure is influenced positively by several lifestyle factors. Physical activity, when done correctly can help with virtually any health problem including hypertension. Yoga like tai chi has shown promise in the limited study that has been done so far. A good night’s sleep is also important. We know that insomnia and fewer hours of general sleep at night are linked to a higher risk of hypertension. Finally stopping smoking is one of the most effective ways to lower blood pressure (and overall health). Every cigarette counts; even cutting back by one a day can help.
“Stopping smoking is one of the most effective ways to lower blood pressure (and overall health). Every cigarette counts; even cutting back by one a day can help.”
Relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation and biofeedback appear to lower blood pressure by increasing activity of the parasympathetic nervous system. These approaches can drop the blood pressure number by 10 and the bottom number by seven if practiced regularly. According to research, people who are less isolated and more engaged with others are less likely to be hypertensive.
Hibiscus, coenzyme Q10, garlic magnesium, and the amino acid L-arginine are among the supplements that have shown potential in decreasing blood pressure. Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners successfully manage hypertension in their patients.
When it comes to reaching optimal health, reducing just 5% of your body weight and maintaining it can make a big difference. According to a new study conducted by experts at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, this is the case. The researchers looked at data from 7,670 people who took part in the massive National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which included information on their cardiometabolic health including weight, waist circumference, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. Those who dropped five to ten percent of their body weight were 22% less likely to develop metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. More weight loss was even beneficial for health: those who lost more than 20% of their body weight had a 53% lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome.
My take: Even a little amount of weight reduction – as little as 10 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds – can have a positive impact. That’s excellent news for the two-thirds of individuals in the United States who are overweight or obese since it makes losing weight much more feasible.
Stand Up for Better Health
Long durations of sitting have been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, some malignancies, and even mortality, according to a growing body of research. Although the exact cause of why sitting increases disease risk is unknown, we do know that long periods of sedentary activity are linked to decreased insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. Researchers from Canada and New Zealand evaluated data from 44 previously published studies that looked at the impact of various quantities and types of movement on extended sitting to see if short bursts of physical activity may help reverse these effects. The next measured glucose, insulin, and triglyceride levels, blood pressure, and vascular function after 24 hours of sitting and compared these results to those of patients who had their sitting broken by light to moderate exercise. They discovered that 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical exercise resulted in reduced blood glucose, insulin, and triglyceride levels.
My Take: Although further study is needed, these findings emphasize the need for breaking up sedentary behavior with modest physical activity. So get up from your desk and take a stroll; your body will thank you.
Later Bedtime Leads to weight gain
Being a night owl might be harmful to your health, especially if you have a higher chance of acquiring diabetes. According to researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, this is the result of a recent study. They looked at almost 2,000 men and women with an average age of 64 who had been diagnosed with prediabetes, which is defined as blood sugar levels that are higher than usual but not high enough to be called diabetes. They inquired about their preferences for sleeping late or getting up early, as well as their “social jetlag,” or the variation in sleep time and length between weekdays and weekends. Higher levels of social jetlag were linked to a higher body mass index (BMI) in persons over 60, according to the study. All individuals had a higher BMI when they went to bed late, which looked to be attributable to inadequate sleep.
“People who dropped just 5 to 10% of their body weight were 22% less likely to develop metabolic syndrome, which is a group of risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.”
My take: People with prediabetes are already at an increased risk for developing full-blown diabetes, and obesity can raise those odds. I recommend that everyone get at least seven hours of sleep a night, regardless of what day of the week it is.
Healthy Diet May Help Prevent (MS)
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological illness that affects the central nervous system and can be debilitating (CNS). Although there is still a lot we don’t know about MS, experts believe it starts when the body’s immune system attacks nerves, damaging the myelin sheath that surrounds them, causing demyelination, which causes nerve function to be disrupted. To see if diet had an impact on the risk of developing MS, Australian researchers looked at data from nearly 700 men and women, including information on the foods they ate and how often they ate them. They found two primary eating habits based on this data: One was a Western-style diet low in nuts, fresh fruits, whole grains, and reduced-fat dairy items and rich in full-fat dairy foods and red meat. The other was a diet rich in fish, eggs, poultry, beans, and vegetables, which was more healthy.
A reduced chance of being diagnosed with CNS demyelination, which is frequently the initial symptom of MS, was linked to a higher intake of nutritious foods. People who ate a healthy diet, in particular, showed a 50% reduction in their risk when compared to those who ate the least nutritious items.
Most of us have eaten outside of our homes, whether it was for a nice evening at a fine restaurant, a quick takeout meal, or something in between. While eating out occasionally is acceptable, there are definite benefits to preparing and cooking your own meals.
For example, findings from a recent study show that dining out frequently may expose you to harmful chemicals known as phthalates. Researchers reviewed data from 10,253 men and women and discovered that those who ate more restaurant, cafeteria, and fast food meals had phthalate levels about 35 percent higher than those who ate primarily grocery store food. Phthalates are commonly found in certain types of plastic and food packaging, so it’s not unexpected that those who eat the most fast food had phthalate levels up to 40% higher than those who eat it less frequently, according to an earlier study by the same researchers.
One reason to avoid eating out is to reduce your exposure to possibly hazardous chemicals by cooking more meals at home once a week or not at all.
Cooking your meals also helps you to manage portion sizes, avoid foods to which you are sensitive or allergic, and avoid foodborne disease by ensuring that meals are correctly cooked. Perhaps most importantly, home cooking allows you to involve your children or grandkids in the process, setting the groundwork for a lifetime of good eating.
If you’re not used to being in the kitchen, it might be intimidating. However, preparing your meals is now easier than ever, and you don’t have to be Julia Child to do so. Although I enjoy cooking, the meals I prepare are usually quick and easy to prepare, as well as delicious. I can make a lot of these in under 30 minutes. Use these pointers to quickly become a competent home cook.
The organization is the key to preparing quick and healthy meals. Keep the kitchen equipment you use daily in the drawer closest to your work area, and store the ones you don’t use very often elsewhere. Make sure your pantry staples are in the front of the cabinet, and that your spices are visible and accessible. Arrange your pots and pans. You’ll need a couple of sauteing pans, a soup pot, a small pot, and an eco-friendly nonstick pan daily; make sure they’re all visible. Also, make sure your blades are sharp. You will be slowed down by a dull blade.
Mealtime is easier – and faster – when you prepare ahead of time. Prepare items that require cleaning and chopping ahead of time. (This is best done after you get them home from the market.) Stock your freezer with portion-sized containers of sauces, stocks, roasted almonds, and prepared meals.
Also, keep salad dressing, cooked grains, chopped veggies, and cooked protein in the fridge so they’re ready to use the following week.
Make a recipe collection
Cook a few meals again and over until you’re completely comfortable with them. You’ll be able to apply what you’ve learned to a variety of other recipes. There are lots of quick and nutritious recipes online and in cookbooks, including mine, Fast Food, Good Food: More than 150 Quick and Easy Ways to Serve Healthy, Delicious Food. Before you begin cooking, go through the recipes to get a sense of the changes involved from preparation to cooking and serving. You’ll be better equipped to improvise and stay several moves ahead of the game when you’re familiar with a recipe.
“Because phthalates are commonly found in specific types of plastic and food packaging, it comes as no surprise to me that those who eat the most fast food had phthalate levels up to 40 percent higher than those who eat fast food less frequently.”
“Researchers have found several negative health outcomes for those who have a Type D personality, including a risk of cardiovascular problems that are three times higher than average.”
Do you become irritated easily, especially when things don’t go your way? Do you have a more laid-back personality or are you prone to anxiety? Most of us are familiar with these personality qualities, whether they’re presented as options in an informal internet survey or as serious questions offered by a therapist. However, such characteristics aren’t solely beneficial to your personality. They can have a significant impact on your health as well. An increasing body of evidence suggests that our personality type has a significant impact on our physical and mental health. Take a peek at some of the results.
Type A personality traits include being competitive, controlling, hardworking, and meticulous. They can also be violent and domineering. According to specialists, Type A people may be viewed as workaholics who will go to any length to succeed. Studies have connected this personality type to a higher risk of hypertension, high cholesterol, cigarette, and alcohol use, poor food choices, job stress, and social isolation since it was originally characterized more than 60 years ago. The evidence for a link between a Type A personality and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease is equivocal; nonetheless, the anger and animosity that come with it appear to increase the risk of heart problems.
Type B persons are practically the polar opposite of Type A people, being more laid-back, easygoing, and relaxed than their colleagues. In general, these people are happier, less competitive, less stressed and they love the process more than the result. Type B people may benefit from a variety of factors. According to research, they’re less likely to suffer from stress, anxiety, or depression and they may have a higher quality of life as a result. Being excessively relaxed on the other hand can have unfavorable results. If you’re too laid-back, you can take a cavalier attitude toward your health, dismissing the importance of not seeing a doctor.
According to psychologists, people with a Type C personality may appear to be as relaxed and laid-back as their Type B counterparts, but this is only a ruse. Type C people on the other hand are more prone to have difficulty expressing emotions, particularly negative ones. They may come across as extremely polite, patient, and eager to please while avoiding conflict in general. On the plus side, if you’re a Type C your drive to please others may motivate you to follow your doctor’s directions such as taking your prescriptions exactly as prescribed. The disadvantage of this personality type is a proclivity for feeling helpless and hopeless, especially when confronted with a significant health issue. This apathy may make you want to abandon treatment rather than take an active position in your treatment.
A “distressed” personality is another term for it. Consistent negative sensations, such as despair, anxiety, and loneliness as well as trouble expressing emotions characterize Type D. If you’re Type D, you’re likely to be critical of yourself and concentrate on negative thoughts, both of which have been linked to poor health. Type D people, for example, are more likely to suffer from excessive overeating and substance abuse. A variety of detrimental health consequences have been discovered in studies, including a three-fold increased risk of cardiovascular issues. Although roughly 20% of American citizens have a Type D personality, Type D personality traits are found in about half of heart disease patients. According to other studies, those with Type D personality with coronary artery disease have a four-fold increased risk of death compared to people with other personality types.
Many personality qualities, such as optimism, pessimism, introversion, and extroversion, might have an impact on one’s health. While research reveals that your personality type can have an impact on your well-being, this does not mean that you are doomed to suffer bad consequences. Understanding your overall personality traits can help you get on the road to better health. Once you’ve figured out how you think and respond you may attempt to counteract any negative consequences your personality traits may have on your health. Type A persons, for example, may benefit from relaxing practices such as breathwork, meditation, and yoga whereas Type D people may benefit from focusing on creating a social support network. A therapist or other clinician may be able to assist you if you believe your personality type is negatively affecting your health.
It’s no secret that the typical American diet is unhealthy: red meat, dairy products, and processed and junk foods are all rich in saturated fat and sugar. To be honest, we’d be better off looking to other civilizations for dietary advice. Traditional Mediterranean, Japanese, and Nordic diets, in particular, have strong links to health and lifespan.
The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet has long been hailed as a healthy eating plan by doctors and nutritionists alike. It appeals to me for various reasons: it’s simple to follow, it’s flavorful, and it provides a wide variety of health advantages validated by clinical studies. In reality, I follow many of the general dietary guidelines myself.
The Mediterranean diet combines the traditional cuisine of Spain, Southern France, Italy, Greece, Crete, and portions of the Middle East. It includes everyday essentials like high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, unrefined grains, olive oil, fermented dairy products like yogurt and natural cheese, and fresh seafood. The diet does not completely remove red meat, but it is limited to roughly one meal per month. Similarly, chicken, eggs, and sweets are included, but not regularly; instead, they are consumed once a month. There’s also a small quantity of wine in there.
Eating Globally at home
You don’t have to completely change your diet. Instead, make a few little modifications to start reaping the health advantages.
Go fishing: Most Americans simply don’t eat enough fish high in important omega-3 fatty acids. Because of this, the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids ratio tend to be out of balance, which can lead to balance and which can lead to problems from depression to Dyslexia. Try to enjoy two to six servings of fish like wild Alaskan Salmon, herring, and sardines every week. If you don’t want to consume fish, get a fish oil or algae oil supplement with both EPA and DHA and take two to three grams each day.
Vegetables should be consumed in large quantities: An anti-inflammatory diet recommends eating four to five portions of veggies per day, which these three worldwide diets easily do. Don’t be scared to try sea veggies, which can be found in many health-food stores and Asian markets at this time of year.
Mind Your Oil: Make extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) your primary cooking oil; search for an organic EVOO that is of excellent quality. Also, foods like walnuts and freshly ground flaxseeds are high in additional healthful facts.
Swap in soy and mushrooms: Try meals using tofu and sautéed Asian mushrooms as protein to cut down on meat consumption. I recommend eating one to two portions of whole soy meals every day, as well as an endless supply of Asian mushrooms like shiitake, maitake, and oyster mushrooms (just never eat them raw).
The traditional Mediterranean diet isn’t only about food. However, it is part of a whole cultural package that includes regular physical activity (more than most Americans get) as well as maintaining strong social and family bonds, often developed and enjoyed around shared meals.
Studies say: For decades, researchers have noted that some Mediterranean countries seem to have lower heart disease and cancer rates. Perhaps one of the most important studies to address the diet’s impact on heart health was the 2013 PREDIMED study.
It was shown that a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by around 30% and mortality from cardiovascular disease, even in individuals at high risk. The report was initially published in the New England Journal of Medicine, but it was withdrawn last summer due to mistakes that compromised data regarding a quarter of the trial’s participants.
Although the retraction made headlines, it’s worth noting that the journal also released a corrected version of the study with reanalyzed data that came to the same results. Older research backs up these findings. In 2003, researchers discovered that those who eat a Mediterranean-style diet have a 33 percent reduced risk of heart disease and 24 percent lower cancer death rate than those who follow more Western-style diets. According to research, there is a lower death rate from all causes.
Other studies have found that persons who eat a Mediterranean diet have improved cognitive function and a lower risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, the diet looks to be advantageous to postmenopausal women’s bones and muscles. Brazilian researchers found earlier this year that women who followed the Mediterranean diet most carefully had higher bone mineral density assessed at the lumbar spine and more muscle mass than women who followed the diet less strictly. Whether the subjects had previously used hormone replacement treatment, smoked, or were physically active had no bearing on the findings. Diabetes and Parkinson’s disease are also decreased in people who eat a Mediterranean diet.
The Traditional Japanese Diet
I’ve visited Japan several times and have a deep affection for the country’s culture and traditional cuisine and beverages. Although I eat a Mediterranean diet, I eat a lot of Japanese foods like shiitake mushrooms and tofu meals, and I drink green tea every day—either sencha, the traditional Japanese green tea, or matcha, the powdered form used in the Japanese tea ceremony, which is gaining popularity in the United States.
Fish, entire soy foods (edamame, soy milk, tofu), Asian mushrooms, rice, a wide variety of fresh vegetables (including sea vegetables), fruit, fermented foods like miso and pickles, and very little meat or dairy are all part of the traditional Japanese diet. It also has low sugar content. One disadvantage is the high sodium content. As previously said, green tea is a popular beverage.
In comparison to the West, the Japanese consume smaller portions and eat more deliberately. The average Japanese individual consumes 25% fewer calories per day than the average American. As it is generally served tastefully on ornamental plates and platters, Japanese food is a superb example of “eating with your eyes.”
Numerous studies have been conducted to demonstrate the health benefits of the various foods found in the Japanese diet. Compounds found in shiitake mushrooms, for example, have been shown to lower cholesterol, improve immunological function, and reduce the incidence of numerous types of cancer. Green tea’s primary antioxidant ingredient, EGCG, has been shown in test tubes to kill prostate cancer cells. Whole soy has also been demonstrated to lower cholesterol levels and may lessen the incidence of breast cancer.
However, studies have looked at the diet and found that it is heart-friendly. In one study, middle-aged Japanese men who ate a more Westernized Japanese diet were taught about traditional Japanese cuisine and told to follow traditional eating guidelines for six weeks. At the end of the study, 91 percent of patients had improved in more than one cardiovascular risk indicator. Bodyweight, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels all considerably decreased. (April 1, 2017; Journal of Atherosclerosis and Thrombosis) The diet also appears to reduce the risk of cancer according to researchers. According to researchers, it could be due to the Japanese eating a lot of cruciferous vegetables which contain powerful anticancer chemicals.
Japanese women and men, on average, live longer and are healthier than individuals in any other country. They may expect to live to be 87 and 80 years old respectively compared to 81 and 76 for Americans; they can also expect to live an average of 75 years without handicap. Diet has a factor to play in this longevity. According to a recent study, people who followed Traditional Japanese dietary standards the most carefully had a 15% lower mortality risk than those who didn’t.
“Countless studies have highlighted the health benefits of the individual foods prominent in the Japanese diet. For example, compounds in shiitake mushrooms may lower cholesterol, enhance immune function and reduce the risk of several types of cancer.”
The Nordic Diet
Until recently, Nordic eating didn’t get nearly as much attention as the other two diets. This year, it was all over the news, with some even proclaiming it to be the healthiest country on the planet. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s the healthiest of all diets, it does provide a variety of healthy options.
The diet is influenced by Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, and Icelandic cuisines and shares many similarities with the Mediterranean diet. Vegetables and fruits (particularly root vegetables and berries), legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains including rye, barley, and oats, and fermented foods are all included. It emphasizes fatty seafood like salmon, mackerel, and herring while avoiding processed meals and high-fat red meats like sausage and bacon. When possible, many people in the Nordic countries choose organic and seasonal vegetables, consume more wild or foraged meals, and select high-quality meats that encourage animal welfare.
The Nordic diet differs significantly from the Mediterranean diet in that it emphasizes canola oil over olive oil. Rapeseed, a cabbage family plant, is used to make canola oil. Even though it is mostly monounsaturated fat and hence healthier than saturated or polyunsaturated oils, I do not advocate it in place of olive oil. Canola oil, unlike extra-virgin olive oil, lacks the antioxidant polyphenols that protect against heart disease.
The Nordic diet has been found to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, despite its preference for canola oil over olive oil though not to the same amount as the Mediterranean diet. According to one study, eating a healthy diet protects against metabolic syndrome, a group of symptoms (such as elevated cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure) that raises the risk of heart disease and diabetes. The diet, according to the World Health Organization, may also lower the risk of cancer.
Some of the diet’s broad health benefits may be related to its capacity to aid weight loss. It was discovered to help modulate the expression of genes linked to inflammation in a study conducted by the University of Eastern Finland. Obesity, like many chronic disorders, is linked to inflammation and the advantages extend far beyond physical well-being. Because of their concepts of hygge and lagom, Scandinavians routinely rank among the happiest people on the planet. The former inspires contentment, while the latter supports it by doing things in exactly the appropriate amount rather than restricting yourself or living in excess.