Apples, as you know, this is a pro-fat health site – pro-fat meaning we recommend eating beneficial fats, of course, not getting fat. There are a lot of issues to consider when it comes to fat – heart disease, inflammation, arthritis, obesity and prevention, to name a few – and I’m going to weigh in (I know, I know) on some of the latest findings.
Increasingly, the medical community is focusing on the interrelatedness of health conditions like obesity, diabetes, arthritis and heart disease. These prevalent health problems have a common component – inflammation – and mounting evidence suggests that a wide range of lifestyle habits aimed at preventing inflammation is clearly the better avenue for public health. Soaring health care costs, unequal distribution of nutritious food, Americans’ sedentary lifestyle, grievous drug side effects, and inaccurate food and health information are all factors in a health crisis that I believe has hit critical mass – it’s time for a smarter solution.
Case in point: arthritis costs alone are over $120 billion dollars every year and growing. Just a few years ago, we were spending about $80 billion. By 2010, about 50 million people will suffer from arthritis. In my opinion, this is utterly unacceptable. Arthritis can occur for many reasons – I myself manage osteoarthritis from years of professional sports competition. Excessive levels of stress like hardcore athletic training or lack of any physical exercise are common culprits. Though there is a genetic predisposition to arthritis in some folks, the majority of people suffer from arthritis to a much greater extent than they need to, given the availability of easy prevention options (that are a lot cheaper and less painful than drugs, surgery and daily suffering). Personally, I’m rarely bothered by my arthritis because I maintain a good exercise routine, I don’t eat junk, and I am ruthless about preventing inflammation.
How to prevent inflammation:
- Douse yourself in antioxidants
- Consume “good” fats with reckless abandon
- Limit both physical and emotional stress
- Absolutely avoid anything that contributes to oxidation: smoking, excessive drinking, lack of activity, processed and prepared food, trans fat, and sugar
Add Another Test to the List
There have been several new heart disease markers identified this month (and a few thrown out as doctors realize basic prevention is worth a lot more). A Japanese study found interesting results for a specific set of women with particular heart conditions; and this study will help doctors determine how people who already have heart disease can avoid a second incident. In the same vein (there I go again), a few studies released this month are too fraught with questions and conflicts of interest to be of much insight (though no doubt Big Pharma will still bandy them about).
Look, heart disease is the biggest killer of men and women. And it goes beyond that – those suffering from heart problems also tend to suffer from other big health problems like diabetes, obesity, and arthritis. These health problems are often complicit because they are either caused or exacerbated by your old enemy, inflammation. That’s why I think it’s critical that the health community shift the focus from statins, surgeries and stents to prevention, prevention, prevention. There are so many reasons why: soaring costs, debt, quality of life, current inequalities in care along socioeconomic and racial lines, and simply, common sense. Our government may be indebted to Big Pharma and the lobbyists; no matter. We can solve our health problems ourselves – Uncle Sam will get the message. Which brings me to:
The National Healthcare Quality Report finds that, based upon 40-odd “core quality measures”, health care has improved by 3.1%. All right – I guess that’s supposed to be impressive. But here’s what caught my eye:
“However, the use of proven prevention strategies is lagging behind other gains…”
2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese, putting them at risk for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Health care is in crisis, and until it gets straightened out (and I applaud the recent efforts of politicians and states to fix the mess), how do we get prevention information to hit home? Information isn’t in short supply; some of it (a lot of it) is inaccurate, but sites like yours truly here and some of the great folks linked at right want to help. How do we spread the news that prevention is easier, and safer, and better than you think?
I’m not quite sure why the Navy thinks a goat is a compelling image when it comes to avoiding desserts, but it’s better than Labelman.
Worker Bees’ Daily Bites
Hi, Apples! Here’s the daily roundup:
1) Now that’s just rude!
Dr. Joe Mercola informs us that many of his fellow physicians ignore their patients’ obesity and sleep troubles, especially older patients. He provides a list of great resources to help with sleep, too. Check it out!
Fun fact: wearing socks to bed seems to help sleep.
Yum fact: Eat a bit of protein with a bit of fruit before bed. Protein helps produce L-tryptophan, which stimulates serotonin and melatonin production, and fruit helps L-tryptophan cross your blood-brain barrier.
2) Muscle Matters
Slashfood highlights the trouble with relying too blindly on the BMI for weight management. It’s especially important to check out if you have little ones at home.
3) At least it’s healthier than a candy bar…
We’re really not sure about this one. Click for a good laugh – humor is healthy!
4) Now that’s tenacity!
The world’s smallest baby – only 1.5 pounds at birth.
5) Could go either way…This is the sort of decision that has potential to be misused by food manufacturers. For instance, many junk foods like so-called “milk and cereal bars” claim to be healthy because, among other things, they contain “real” as opposed to fake milk. Similarly, many sodas which are full of empty sugars claim health benefits because of a little added vitamin C. We’re watchin’ you, FDA. Don’t tell the Fuming Fuji about this one.
6) A preventable epidemic
While a pill is better than a shot (and we all knew this was coming), diabetes is often totally preventable through a healthy diet and regular exercise. Check out this article Mark wrote over at Gabrielle Reece’s health site to learn more about sugar.
Did you know almost a third of people who break their hip bones will die from complications?
It’s astounding – and it’s just one more example of how the commonplace is also the unexpected. We panic about bird flu, when the usual flu is really the killer. Movies sensationalize bear and shark attacks when we’re far more likely to get fatally hurt by the neighbor’s dog.
I don’t think this is cause for holing up in your bedroom (after all, you’re much more likely to die falling out of bed than being in a plane crash or getting shot). I don’t even think it’s cause for yet another worry. It’s simply a good reminder that we humans aren’t so good at risk assessment. We have irrationally huge fears about things that will probably never affect us, and we underestimate the garden-variety threats. (Check out my post “Risk Schmisk” using the search option at right to learn more about our quirky brains.)
What this means: We are far more likely to be hurt by everyday encounters – and a lot of these can be prevented with some reasonable lifestyle measures. Call me a silver-lining type of guy – I think this is pretty good news. For the most part, we don’t have to worry about catastrophic or unpredictable health threats. We are lucky in that we can prevent most health problems. In the case of hip bone fractures, which plague far too many Americans, there are some very simple ways to stop this unexpectedly dangerous occurrence.
Regular weight-bearing activity like weight lifting, walking, hiking or jogging is a great way to maintain and build bones. Avoid soda, take a multivitamin containing calcium, and remember to take it easy by avoiding stressful situations as much as you can.
As we have noted, there is a new trend in the world of training. No, it doesn’t involve some new fangled fitness contraption or hip new exercise program. In fact it doesn’t involve much physical activity at all. Use your head and you just might figure out what we mean. Yes, that’s right! This craze is all about training your brain.
Maintaining brain fitness through diet, exercise, and now mind-workouts has become one of the latest health movements. Nintendo’s video game Brain Age released early last year made the idea of boosting brain power through mental calisthenics widely popular. Since then brain gyms and brain health programs have been cropping up across the nation.
The notion of brain training simply takes the philosophy behind physical exercise and applies it to the mental realm. Hitting the gym can help build strength and endurance. Spending time focusing your mind on specific mental tasks should keep your mind sharp and agile. So goes the theory of brain training.
Proponents of brain training say that structured mental activity can be as good for your mind as physical activity is for the rest of your body.
But can you really train your brain to work better?
Although the science is still out on exactly which behaviors can effectively improve brain fitness there is evidence, and popular wisdom, that suggests that an active mind is a healthy mind.
With this in mind (pun intended) two websites aim to please those interested in improving cognition and brain power: Happy Neuron and My Brain Trainer. Both sites offer (for a fee) daily challenging exercises, games and other cerebral activities that are designed to stimulate your mind and improve your memory and ability to focus. These sites also highlight other mental capacities like reaction time, critical thinking skills, and visual and spatial perception. Additionally, they both give you the ability the track your progress over time to see if your mind really is becoming sharper.
In the near future expect to see a lot on the topic of brain health; specifically, ways to slow cognitive degeneration and improve mental skills.
The Top 10 Tips for: fighting the free radicals that destroy the body
10. Take the world’s most potent antioxidant supplement.
9. Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke (and stop smoking!).
8. Don’t eat deep-fried anything. Fried is not your friend.
7. Drink alcohol in moderation.
6. Meditate, journal or pray for a few minutes every day. This helps your body regulate its stress hormones better, which keeps everything running smoothly, including your immune system and the body’s inflammatory response.
5. Exercise several times a week. This stimulates feel-good hormones, the immune system, and the metabolism. Exercise also helps reduce hormonal stress, inflammation, stress to your liver, and yes…oxidation.
4. Eat clean: Try to eat organic meat and dairy products. Wash produce thoroughly.
3. Consume good fats with reckless abandon. (Things like grass-fed meat, wild fish, DHA-enhanced eggs, nuts, avocados, Smart Butter, and olive oil.)
2. Eat foods containing antioxidants every day: vegetables, fruits, berries, nuts…yum!
1. And the number one way to reduce inflammation and oxidation (and thereby prevent or reduce most health problems and diseases)? Lay off the sugar! Just say no to processed, refined, empty calories from things like soda, white bread, white pasta, sugary cereals, pastries and other starchy snacks. Yes, these foods are pretty…pretty evil.
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© 2014 Mark's Daily Apple