As you probably already know, we here at MDA are all about making informed decisions that produce the best results with a minimal amount of effort. For example, what’s the point in running yourself to death when you can achieve better results with a short and intense workout session? In this sense we are all for shortcuts. We love ‘em. Why take the long, circuitous path from A to B when you can get there by walking (or sprinting!) a straight line? But we normally discount the effectiveness of pharmaceutical shortcuts. Why? Shortcuts that involve pills usually never work – especially in achieving long term health or fitness goals. Pharma attempts at wellness almost always have a tough time seeing the forest for the trees. Gene expression is much more nuanced enterprise than a pill can account for. In other words, when it comes to popping a pill it is difficult to know what is going on behind the curtain. So when we read about a new pill being developed that chemically mimics the effects of exercise in lab mice, you can imagine how skeptical we were.
What do you think about the claim that being heavier doesn’t necessarily mean you’re less healthy than someone who’s thin?
Thanks to reader Corey for his question and for sending the New York Times article that highlights recent research.
The article references a study published in this month’s Archives of Internal Medicine.
In the last few months we’ve been highlighting new research that illustrates the power of individuals to influence their genetic expression through basic lifestyle choices, whether through diet, exercise, or avoidance of pollution. The message, as always, is that we aren’t passive victims to aging or any propensities in our genetic heritage. How we live determines when and to what extent certain genes will be activated or turned off, genes that control our immune function and inflammatory response, genes that influence our aging process as well as our chances of developing or avoiding disease.
This groundbreaking area of research now includes evidence that invoking the body’s natural relaxation response can substantially direct the expression of genes related to physiological stress response. It’s a premise that’s been at the heart of many traditional medicine philosophies for thousands of years, now illuminated by collaborative research at the Genomics Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. As Herbert Benson, M.D. and one of the primary co-authors of the study explains, “For hundreds of years Western medicine has looked at mind and body as totally separate entities, to the point where saying something ‘is all in your head’ implied that it was imaginary. Now we’ve found how changing the activity of the mind can alter the way basic genetic instructions are implemented.”
My wife and I tend to receive a lot of chocolate, usually as holiday or dinner party gifts. Friends and business associates know we’re not dessert people but that we indulge in chocolate and red wine on occasion (i.e. those Sensible Vices). As a result, I’ve gotten to try a lot of the best chocolates out there (as well as a few duds). My wife and I each have our running lists of favorites. Hers has a couple Belgian varieties as well as some quality stateside organics. As for me, the more bitter the better. Green and Black’s makes an 85% that I consider kind of my “staple” choice, but there are a lot of good ones out there.
I always hear that I should be drinking eight glasses of water a day, but it takes a lot of unnatural effort to get close to that. Is it just me? What’s your take on the water rule?
As you know by now, my job is to question Conventional Wisdom. One of the classic health paradigms I’ve always had a problem with is the blanket recommendation by the general health community that we all should be consuming copious amounts of water. It just doesn’t make sense to me and it never has. Face it, Grok did NOT walk around with a canteen or an Evian bottle affixed to his loincloth. He and the Grok family thought Nalgene was the name of the tribe across the valley and they never owned a sippy cup with which to gulp down mass quantities of H20. Day after day it was a drop here and a mouthful there – if a source of water other than a dewy leaf was even available. Since Grok and his cadre probably didn’t spend too much time hanging around the water hole. (All those predators you know…) 8 glasses of water a day is unlikely a physiological necessity, not to mention an evolutionarily relevant model. Grok obtained most of his water directly from the food he ate, and I believe that we probably should, too.
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