Of all the worlds’ ills, Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) is by far a couple of the most insidious diseases. They often take years, even decades to develop and take hold, and oftentimes people fail to take action until it is too late. As a resident of Newfoundland, an island population in which CVD and T2D are particularly prevalent, I often see firsthand the effects these diseases can force an individual to endure.
While there are genetic factors that can predispose an individual to these illnesses, they are treatable and even preventable with the proper education and lifestyle. A study which was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition by Dr. David L. Katz, furthered that education a little more so that people who are at risk of developing these ailments may have another means to improve their quality of life. The study investigated the role of Walnuts on endothelial function in overweight adults with visceral obesity and other characteristics of Metabolic Syndrome, which is a risk factor for CVD and T2D.
It's amazing how many people go about the process of losing weight all the wrong way!
Some people focus on extreme dieting, cutting back on their calorie consumption until their bodies are almost starving.
Some people focus on lifting heavy weights, hoping that increasing their muscles will burn all of the fat around their midriff.
Some people focus on high intensity or long duration cardio, expecting that they'll burn a lot of fat - when all they do is cannibalize muscle.
The key to losing weight is to combine a good aerobic (cardio) workout with weight training and a healthy diet. Only by doing these things will you actually lose weight.
Or will you?
The Damage is Already Done…
The University of Adelaide has shed some interesting light on our body's reactions to diets. PhD student Stephen Kentish is the one responsible for this study, which provides a fascinating insight into how a high fat diet affects the human body.
When one thinks of eating disorders, it instantly conjures up images of young girls starving themselves to live up to some impossible standard of size. The truth is, it is not only females who suffer from these maladies but men as well. While almost everybody will acknowledge the fact, that yes, men can indeed suffer from eating disorders, they remain an underrepresented group.
This is an area which was in need of attention, as it appears men are more like to develop high blood pressure and high cholesterol under these conditions. The research paper was published in General Hospital Psychiatry and investigated the differences in the biological, psychological and social factors of Binge Eating Disorder, between men and women. Binge Eating Disorder is compulsively overeating and individuals who suffer from this disorder feel like there is little they can do to resist this urge. Binge eating sessions can last a couple of hours or entire days.
The study consisted of 190 obese participants in total, all of whom were diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder (BED) and 49 of these participants were men. There was a strict criterion to be met before any of the participants were allowed to continue as a research subject, so all the results you see are not affected in any way by some outlier of mental or physical health.
I cannot really remember the first time I set out to deliberately exercise, in order to get fit, but it must have been some time in high school, because that’s when I found myself preparing to go on my first hike.
Back then, the conventional wisdom about engaging in exercise was that you needed to put in some significant amount of time regularly for the exercise to be of any benefit; at least an hour, but if you could hit two hours, well and good. As far I still know, this is still the guiding principle for many people.
But I am not writing this piece to regale you with tales from the past, I write this because a couple of researchers are threatening my long held principles, suggesting that brief, intense durations of exercise can be better than those long hauls.
Less can be more, according to these fitness scientists who are keen to cut down exercise time to minutes, a whole new level of fitness minimalism.
Type 2 Diabetes is characterized by a disruption in glucose homeostasis in the body. While there are effective methods of addressing this issue, such as daily injections of insulin, these methods are not without their setbacks. It can be tedious, uncomfortable, and can easily be overdone resulting in low blood sugar. Many of you may be all too familiar with these unfortunate routines. Incorporating the appropriate nutrients into the diet can have profound effects on the management of diabetes, which may make each day substantially less taxing and one such nutrient is the amino acid, L-Arginine.
What’s the Big Deal?
It was recently revealed by researchers from the University of Copenhagen, that L-Arginine may act as a potent stimulant for the secretion of a chemical essential to glucose homeostasis, known as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). This chemical increases insulin sensitivity and past studies have revealed that surgical and medicinal efforts to increase the secretion of GLP-1 have been effective in regulating glucose levels in the body. It may be possible to achieve the same results without invasive surgeries or pharmaceuticals by supplementing L-Arginine in the diet.
Sustained physical activity with vigorous intensity can add years to your life and significantly improve the quality in the latter stages of aging, according to the latest results of a long term study into more than 12,000 elderly Western Australian men.
In the study, published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the University of Western Australia researchers found that 150 minutes of vigorous exercise per week added 2-3 years to the lives of the men who remained physically active through the duration of the 13 year study. Vigorous exercise was defined as any physical activity that caused them to huff and puff. Physical activity, survival, and functional status were assessed at the initial recruitment, a follow up period, and at the study exit.
The physically active men demonstrated less depression, more functional independence (e.g. drive, pay their own bills), and less memory loss as opposed to their sedentary counterparts. The study concluded that when safe and feasible, vigorous physical activity promoted healthy aging and longevity. Exercise prevents many of the health problems that come with age.
You may be familiar with food products that boast about being great sources of probiotics and with all the benefits probiotics can offer, it is some welcomed marketing in the world of nutrition. A recent discovery suggests that maintaining the levels of healthy bacteria in our digestive tracts may be more important than we could have ever imagined. Vanessa Ridaura, a grad student from Washington University, and her fellow researchers decided to investigate the link between the composition of gut bacteria and obesity. What Ms. Ridaura found was nothing short of astonishing.
How Gut Bacteria Influences Weight Gain
The gut bacteria from lean and obese mice were obtained and inserted in mice that had been born and raised in sterile conditions so no bacteria were present in their digestive tract prior to the treatment. These germ-free mice were then fed a diet of standard low fat chow and what resulted may have carved a new path in the understanding of obesity. The sterile mice which received gut bacteria from the obese rodents accumulated body fat much quicker than the mice which received gut bacteria from their lean counterparts.
With more than a third of American adults classified as obese, there is no question that there is an obesity epidemic in this country. Despite this, as a medical professional, I remain encouraged by the cultural changes and improved understanding I see occurring in regards to obesity. While I typically encourage obese individuals to implement a medically-supervised regimen for weight loss and health, I also alert them to some of the side effects associated with significant decreases in body mass and what they could do to alleviate their impact.
A common negative side effect of massive weight loss that I often see is the impact on skin. Rapid weight loss can result in stretch marks and loose skin since the sudden change in mass fails to give the skin enough time to compensate with regard to elasticity. For many patients, the result is loose skin that remains after the weight loss goal is reached.
Fortunately, there are means for reducing the impact of significant weight loss on skin elasticity:
I remember when kettlebell training first hit the mainstream. Almost overnight, gyms were rapidly filled with a whole array of kettlebells and we were left to assume that they must be good for us, but nobody was quite sure how to use them effectively or how to incorporate them into their routines.
I only really got into using kettlebells as part of my workout routine about a year ago. I train at an MMA gym and one of the instructors took the time to go through the basics with me. After a little experimentation, and some light reading, I now include one kettlebell session into my weekly training routine.
I love the benefits that a kettlebell session gives me. Kettlebell training is something a little different, which helps keep things interesting, while the direct benefits are great too; you get a strength workout, while also building your endurance levels and developing your core. In addition, if you incorporate the use of kettlebells into your regular circuit training routine, you can reap the benefits of a cardio workout.
We all have our own motivations for running. My mother used to ask me and fellow runners, ‘what are you running away from?’
It’s not something that I can explain to non-runners, but I can say that we all, those of us who run, would like to run better, faster, and reduce the risk of injury.
And that’s why I’m telling you, as a fellow runner, that you need a running app for your android or iPhone right now. A good motivator to expand your current running workout routine or to get started; check out these top apps for runners to see what you’re missing out on!