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.
People who speak more than one language significantly reduce the likelihood of dementia in old age. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t mastered the grammar or spelling of a second language, either (or a first language, for that matter). Simply speaking a second language keeps the brain’s frontal lobe in great shape well into old age. Now, donde esta este estudio? Aqui.
NUTRIENT: Beta Glucans
WHAT IT DOES: For immune system support, beta glucans, a polyssacharide (sugar molecule) offer much potential. Similar to other immune-stimulating nutrients like echinacea and goldenseal, beta glucans, which are derived from yeast, barley, and oats, appear to boost white blood cell count and macrophage activation. Macrophages are literally irritated into action by beta glucan sugars! These processes are key components of healthy immune system activity.
STUDIES SHOW: Beta glucans appear to have immune stimulating properties. Several studies have shown that beta glucans may be able to activate macrophages, help to inhibit tumors, and reduce infection. Beta glucans are generally used for immune system support, although it has been theorized that beta glucans may also serve a role in cancer inhibition because of their stimulatory affects. Beta glucans are thought to work by stimulating white blood cell activity. In laboratory studies, beta glucans have also been shown to stimulate monocyte cytokines, compounds that fight cancer cells in tumors.
However, the most established evidence supports beta glucans’ use as an immune-boosting nutrient.
WHY WE LIKE IT: Beta glucans can be found here. We love them because of the promising immune-stimulating properties. Beta glucans may help reduce or fight infections in the body and improve the general strength of the immune system. Overall immune system health is vital to resisting serious health problems, and beta glucans offer tremendous potential for supporting the immune system.
With the global AIDS crisis, the hard lessons of events like Hurricane Katrina, and worldwide health threats like tuberculosis (yes, it’s coming back) and even the flu, now just might be the time for our government to step up to the plate and find a way to direct more dollars to public health – if not tax dollars, how about better support for organizations that raise funds for such serious health issues? It’s not happening. A report in Time recently revealed some of the funding cuts the government has passed for the CDC (Centers for Disease Control):
Funds for AIDS prevention: cut 19%
Funds for tuberculosis control: cut 16%
Funds for unexpected health emergencies: cut 17%
The CDC is currently in its own quagmire of corruption and ineptitude, and genius budget cuts like the above certainly don’t help. I mention this news simply to highlight the incredible urgency of taking responsibility for your health and well-being. Though ideally we hope to trust our government, our health agencies, and our doctors to look out for our best health interests, the fact is this doesn’t happen all the time – now more than ever. Whether you like the direction health care appears to be heading (Arnold is seeking universal health care and other states are following suit) or not, there are plenty of compelling reasons to do all that you can to take care of your health through as many means as you have at your disposal.
Fortunately, you can achieve significant improvements in health through some very basic, preventive lifestyle measures. It’s my goal to help you choose and implement those health options.
A nutritious diet, stress management, regular exercise, judicious supplementation and careful health decisions are the fundamental steps everyone can take to prevent and even reverse many health problems.
Bottom line: Your health is your choice. Choose it.
Mark’s Weekly Health Challenge to you:
Every day this week, either get yourself outside or to the gym. No excuses (sky falling? Okay). Working out every day, all the time, isn’t totally necessary, but it certainly is good for you – and you’ll feel amazing come the weekend. Commit to at least 30 minutes every day this week.
© 2014 Mark's Daily Apple