Month: January 2008
There’s been a lot in the news lately about the question of longevity. This past week an article discussed the role of exercise in “biological aging,” the relative age of a person based on biomarkers (determined by telomere length in this study), rather than simple chronology.
To add to this discussion, I want to offer up a medically accepted dimension of biological aging that hasn’t gotten as much press lately. Lean muscle mass in happy tandem with organ reserve are two defining characteristics of both good health and longevity.
Have you ever heard someone say that a person died of “old age” or “natural causes”? Essentially, the person died as a result of the logical end of the aging process, the diminishment of organ reserve and corresponding muscle mass that supported his/her physical functioning.
New research conducted by researchers at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Canada suggests that thinner people are more motivated to exercise than their heavier peers.
In a study initially devised to determine how much rats are willing to pay for an opportunity to exercise, the researchers found that slimmer rats were more motivated to work out than their larger peers. In addition, the more weight the rat lost, the more motivated it was to hop on the wheel, so much so that some of the rats in the study quite literally exercised and starved themselves to death (a phenomenon that also occurs in our society in the form of activity- or exercise-anorexia).
A study in the February issue of Epilepsia suggests that a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet can significantly reduce the number of seizures in adult epileptics.
For almost a century, physicians have prescribed low carbohydrate diets to control epilepsy in children. Among the more popular diets is the ketogenic diet, which requires a period of initial fasting, followed by a diet that severely restricts carbohydrate intake and reduces fluid intake.
In the most recent study to test the value of similar diets on adults, researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore assigned 30 epileptic adults ranging in age from 18 to 53 year to follow a “modified Atkins diet” that restricted carbohydrate intake to about 15 grams per day. In order to qualify for the program, participants had to have tried at least two anticonvulsant medications without success and have logged an average of 10 seizures per week.
This versatile veggie is great in so many ways. Grilled, boiled, baked, broiled, steamed, sauteed, pureed or, if delicate enough, simply raw – it is hard to go wrong with this delectable vegetable.
Used for cooking and medicinal purposes for over 2,000 years, asparagus is one nutritious perennial garden plant! See, and you thought all it was good for was turning your pee green!
Among its many health benefits, asparagus logs off-the-charts levels of Vitamin K (more than 115% recommended daily allowance (RDA) per 1 cup serving!), which is important for heart health and calcium regulation. In addition, asparagus also boasts high levels of folate that, when combined with Vitamins B6 and B12 (as is the case in asparagus), can protect against heart disease and other cardiac ailments. Asparagus also contains a hefty dose of potassium, which combines with an amino acid called asparagines to cause a diuretic effect as well as a healthy type of carbohydrate called inulin that clears the intestinal tract of unhealthy bacteria and promotes good digestive health.
It’s the season for scrubbing, soaping and sanitizing. After all, no one exactly enjoys getting stuck at home miserable with the latest cold or flu strain making its way through all humankind. But is this obsession with absolute cleanliness really the best way to keep ourselves healthy?
We certainly wouldn’t argue with the positives of basic sanitation, and we even agree that washing your hands at strategic points of the day (following restroom use, please) isn’t a bad idea. The fact remains, however, that we live in a sea of germs throughout the year. Viruses, bacteria are everywhere, and they’re generally supposed to be. The chain of life didn’t evolve in a bucket of Lysol.
Our obsession with sanitization, we would argue, is another classic example of self-imposed paradox. The fact is, frequent washing and use of sanitizers end up stripping our skin of healthy oils that actually serve as an external barrier and defense against pathogens. In the most brutal weeks of winter, people often find themselves with rough, even cracked skin, which then becomes an open sewer for every germ it encounters.