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.”
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.
Build the Healthiest Possible Body with the Primal Blueprint
I get emails every day from people who are changing their lives for the better by following the guidelines I outline on this site. But many are looking for more of what the Primal Blueprint has to offer. That is to say, they want a comprehensive break down of the elements that make up the Blueprint; a Primal primer if you will. In coming weeks I will be going into detail – anthropological evidence, modern research, etc. – regarding this health philosophy, but I first want to offer up this summary of the Blueprint. I think it is a good starting point for what is to come.
In this extended article you will find the basic building blocks needed to discover the Primal side of your life. What does this mean? It means learning and understanding what it means to be human. It means using this knowledge to help you make important lifestyle choices. It means modeling your life after your ancestors in order to promote optimal health and wellness. And, most importantly, it means taking control of your body and mind.
If this article intrigues you be on the look out for a much more thorough explanation of how we can learn from our past to shape and mold our future.
My basic premise is this: The Primal Blueprint is a set of simple instructions (the blueprint) that allows you to control how your genes express themselves in order to build the strongest, leanest, healthiest body possible, taking clues from evolutionary biology (that’s the primal part).
We’ve always been dear friends, staunch allies, and devoted advocates for our edible friends in the plant kingdom. Whatever craziness descends upon our lives and our society, there’s sanity, indeed healthful respite in a bountiful, brimming, vibrant dinner plate of vegetables.
And now there’s even more reason for veggie veneration. Research from Tufts University funded by the Agricultural Research Service suggests that potassium-rich plant foods can help older men and women maintain their lean muscle mass.
“What?! Well, I’ll be damned.” We know! We said it too!
We’ve always loved vegetables (and their fruit compatriots) for their antioxidants, their minerals, their fiber. But this had us bowing down at the cornucopia, we have to say.
A study presented Wednesday at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting suggests that regular physical exercise may offer a protective benefit against mild cognitive impairment.
How cognitively impaired are we talking here? Think forgetting where you left your keys, remembering events, appointments, or to check Mark’s Daily Apple every day (as if you could ever forget that!) or recalling the details of a conversation.
Conducted as part of an ongoing study of aging, researchers from the Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic surveyed 868 people ages 70 to 89 about their exercise habits between ages 50 and 65. Researchers also screened all participants for signs of mild cognitive impairment.
Seriously, how can we not love this stuff? The potent little antioxidant has been hailed for years as anti-inflammatory, anti-atherogenic and even anti-cancer. And, as for the cancer part, the news just keeps getting better. Research out of the University of Rochester Medical Center shows that resveratrol is doubly effective in treating the exceptionally problematic pancreatic cancer.
[Resveratrol] can help destroy pancreatic cancer cells by reaching to the cell’s core energy source, or mitochondria, and crippling its function. The discovery is critical because, like the cell nucleus, the mitochondria contains its own DNA and has the ability to continuously supply the cell with energy when functioning properly. Stopping the energy flow theoretically stops the cancer. …The new study also showed that when the pancreatic cancer cells were doubly assaulted — pre-treated with the antioxidant, resveratrol, and irradiated — the combination induced a type of cell death called apoptosis, an important goal of cancer therapy. In fact, the research suggests resveratrol not only reaches its intended target, injuring the nexus of malignant cells, but at the same time protects normal tissue from the harmful effects of radiation.
via Science Daily
A study published online in this month’s Neurology suggests that people whose waistline expands once they hit age 40 are more likely to develop dementia in their 70s than their slimmer peers.
For the study, researchers measured the abdominal fat of 6,583 people between the ages of 40 and 45 living in Northern California. After an average of 36 years, 16% of participants had developed dementia.
Based on this data, the researchers determined that those with the highest abdominal fat measurements were roughly three times more likely to develop dementia than those with the lowest levels of abdominal fat. These findings held true regardless of whether the individual was of normal weight overall, overweight or obese, although the researchers note that future dementia risk was highest among obese individuals with high abdominal fat measurements. According to researchers, women were more likely than men to have high abdominal fat levels, along with non-whites, those with less than a high school level of education, smokers, and people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.
Last week we heard from reader, primalman08, in response to the Top 10 Reasons to Stay Healthy post:
I would like to encourage you to do more on the sexual benefits of living well. In my practice, I am astonished and saddened to hear about the lack of sex people over 50 are having with their partners. It goes well beyond just ED. It has to do with fatigue, low libido, poor body image and difficulties with positioning due to BMI. I hate to be so frank about it, but it is true and I feel it is very important. I hope that you/we can spend more time addressing this highly personal, highly important topic.
We know by now that we need to work out, need to eat the right foods and do stuff that is “healthy for us,” but sometimes when we’re waking up at 5 am to hit the treadmill before work or shunning the donuts at the breakfast meeting, its easy to lose sight of what we’re doing this all for.
So here’s the quick & dirty, Mark’s Daily Apple top 10 reasons why you need and want to stay healthy. Stick this list up on your fridge, tuck it in your workout bag, heck, have it tattooed on your forehead… whatever it takes to keep you motivated to lead that healthy lifestyle!