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Posts tagged ‘physical activity’

Exercise!!

I think by now we all know how good exercise is and the benefits we receive from it, like for example, reducing most people´s risk of developing diabetes and growing obese, but still people don´t do it. So how can we change this? Maybe by giving them more information and making them realize that exercise is not only going to improve their quality of life but also help them in their job.

For some people their job is everything, so if we can show that exercise will help them in their job, then maybe this will make them live a more active lifestyle.

A recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience has seen that physical activity reorganizes the brain, so that its response to stress is reduced and anxiety is less likely to interfere with normal brain function. What this study did was to compare two groups of mice. One group was given unlimited access to a running wheel, while the other group had no running wheel. Usually, a normal mouse will run up to 4 kilometers any given day. After 6 weeks, the mice were exposed to cold water for a brief period of time. And what the scientists were able to see is that the brains of active and sedentary mice behaved differently almost as soon as the stressor (cold water) occurred. What happened is that in the brains of active mice there was a spike in the activity of neurons that shut off excitement in the ventral hippocampus, a brain region shown to regulate anxiety, while in the sedentary mice this did not happen.

This basically means that physical activity reorganizes the brain so that its response to stress is reduced and anxiety is less likely to interfere with normal brain function. This is very important and something we should not forget, but something almost as important is that the brain can be extremely adaptive!! What I mean by this is that the brain may create anxiety in less physical fit people for a reason. Anxiety often manifests itself in avoidant behavior and avoiding potentially dangerous situations would increase the likelihood of survival (Remember that the last 10,000 years only represent 1% of human evolution). So from an evolutionary point of view, maybe anxiety was good to protect the less physical fit people, but now in age we don´t really need it.

So in conclusion:

  1. Exercise reorganizes the brain to be more resilient to stress.
  2. The people who exercise will usually have less anxiety.
  3. Anxiety, from an evolution stand point, was good to protect the less physical fit people, but now in age we don´t really need it.
  4. The brain can be extremely adaptive.

References

Scoenfeld T, Rada P, Pieruzzini P, Hsueh B, Gould E. Physical Exercise Prevents Stress.Induced Activation of Ganule Neurons and Enhances Local Inhibitory Mechanisms in the Dentate Gyrus. Journal of Neuroscience. May 2013.

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International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk

This will be a special blog, since it was not programmed. Yesterday, I went to a conference (A Lifestyle Disease) where they talked about the cardiometabolic risk we as a society are facing right now. It was very interesting, thanks in part to all the scientists at the conference, who talked about the latest scientifically research data available related to these diseases. First, let’s clear up what cardiometabolic risks are.

  • Cardiometabolic risks: Primary deal with obesity and type 2 diabetes. So all the problems that are associated with these diseases are related to having a cardiometabolic risk.

Before I start talking about what was said at the conference, I want to show some stats. Numbers are always easier for people to understand and to memorize. So I think this will have a bigger impact than anything else I say.

  1. Europe as of 2009 has 55.4 million people with diabetes.
  2. Half the people who have diabetes don´t even know it.
  3. In 2030 it is predicted that worldwide 430 million will have diabetes!!
  4. In Europe alone we spend 110 billion dollars annually.
  5. 400,000 kids in Europe are obese.
  6. 34.6% of adults are overweight.
  7. There are 5.1 million deaths from smoking, there are 5.3 million deaths related to inactivity!!
  8. Sugar Sweetened Beverages stand for SSB. People who consume 2 servings of SSB increase the risk of getting type 2 diabetes by 25%.
  9. 2 servings of SSB a day and your chances of having a heart attack increase by 40%!!!

I could go on forever but I think these stats have made their point. Obesity is a worldwide epidemic and the consequences of it are horrible. Most people know that the more fat we accumulate the greater the chance of suffering some kind of cardiovascular disease. But what most people don´t know is that where we accumulate that fat is much more important than anything else. Recent studies have shown the importance of body fat distribution as a key determinant of the health risk. Imaging studies have revealed that excess visceral adipose (fat) tissue at undesired sites (such as the liver, the heart, the kidney, the pancreas) may have detrimental effects on the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In other words, the fat that is in your organs (visceral obesity), is much more important than the overall body fat.

Now, this is where it gets interesting. They have done studies that have shown that obese or overweight people who engage in physical activity on a regular basis, lose visceral fat and decrease their chance of getting a cardio vascular disease, although their overall weight has NOT gone down. Even more interesting and amazing, people who are overweight or obese and do 30 minutes of physical activity per day have a less chance of getting a cardiovascular disease or cancer, than a ¨normal¨ person who does nothing!!!  These recent studies are amazing and I want everyone really to understand the importance of this, so I will try to clarify it even a little bit more.

  • Your overall weight is not that important!! We have always been obsessed with our scale, but in terms of health, weight is not that important. What is important is the fat you accumulate under and around your organs. And by doing physical activity of at least 30 minutes a day, it has been shown that the fat under and around your organs goes away, although you may still weigh the same!!
  • So for all those people who have ever started in a physical activity and gave up because they never lost weight, these recent studies say DON´T STOP!!! Even if you are not losing weight on the scale, it doesn´t matter. You are doing more good to your body than you can imagine!
  • So if you do exercise and produce weight loss that is GREAT. If you exercise and you don´t lose weight that is also GREAT!!! ¨ We must look beyond weight loss as the only indicator of health.¨- attributed to Dr. Ross.

In conclusion. 5.3 million people will die because of inactivity. Meaning that instead of walking to their job, they will take their car. Instead of going up the stairs, they will take the elevator. Instead of going for a walk, they will sit home and watch a movie.

Throughout this blog I have said physical activity, not sports. They are completely different. You can be poor and do physical activity, you may have the busiest life on the planet and still engage in a physical activity. Physical activity is moving and no one in this world can have an excuse for not doing that.

So until next time, eat healthy, drink healthy and MOVE.

The academic evidence at the conference was giving by:

  1. Jean-Claude Coubard- He is the Directo of Research in Cardiology at Centre de recherche de L´institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec.
  2. Ulf Smith- Directo of the Lundberg Laboratory, Vice Chairman of the Departement of Molecular and Clinical Medicien, The Sahlgrenska Academy, Göteborg University, Sweden and Vice President of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes
  3. Luc Van Gaal- A member of the Editorial Board of a series of scientific journals. He is borad member of the Belgian Association for the Study of Obesity (BASO) and Past-President of the Belgian Diabetic Society. He is the running secretary of the Belgian Endocrine Society
  4. Marja-Ritta Taskinen- Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Cardiology Division, University of Helsinki, Finald.
  5. Jean-Pierre Després- Director of Research in Cardiology at Centre de recherche de l´institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec. He is also the Scientific Director of the International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval, Quebec, Canada.
  6. Frank B. Hu- He is Director of the Harvard Transdisciplinary Research in Energetics and Cancer (TREC) Center, Harvard School of Public Health as well as CO-Director, Program in Obesity Epidemiology and Prevention, Harvard School of Publich Health, Boston, MA, United States.
  7. Robert Ross- Director of the Centre for Obesity Research and Education, Queen´s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada; Queen´s University Research Chair, and President of the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology.
  8. Franco Sassi- Senior Health Economist at the Health Division of the OECD and a former lecture at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Is food addictive part 3?

Last week I did two blogs on how certain foods can be addictive and how we have a hereditary predisposition for wanting to eat foods with lots of calories. I also mentioned how we really don´t have strong instincts to engage in physical activity because, before in the past, physical activity used to occur automatically every time we needed to hunt. No one would just go for a run and waste precious calories, we needed all the calories we had. Now, everything has changed. It´s easy to get food and we barely move, and those are two of the reasons why obesity is a WORLD WIDE EPIDEMIC.

Well, in this third part of ´is food addictive´, I’m just going to mention some facts that most people don´t know and should, and that I consider pretty important. So let´s start off.

  1. Did you know that the last 10,000 years of our history only represents 1% of  human history? The body changes and adapts over time but it usually takes thousands of years for that to happen. Agriculture first arrived 9,000 years ago, if you think about it, in terms of human evolution, that´s not a long time ago.
  2. Before agriculture we were hunter-gatherers. Fossils records show that Paleolithic hunter-gatherers lifespan averaged 26 years, but with the invention of agriculture the lifespan went down to 19!!! (1)
  3. In Greece and Turkey, near the end of the Paleolithic hunter-gatherer era, men averaged 5´9 (175cm) and women 5´5 (166cm). By 3000 BC, with agriculture a way of life, the average height had dropped to 5´3 (161cm) for men and 5´ (152cm) feet for women (1,5). This could be because the Paleolithic hunter-gatherers ate hundreds of plants and animals, supplying lots of complete proteins and vitamins. Farmers ate mainly three crops, wheat, rice and corn, because they were the easiest to cultivate, harvest and store without spoiling.
  4. Human milk matches the exact proportions of amino acids and fats used for brain circuits and contains antibodies to prevent infections. Cows milk contains very different proportions of amino acid and much more fat. Babies fed on breast milk average 8.3IQ points higher by the age of 8 than those fed on milk-based formula.(3)
  5. Predators consistently have larger brains than herbivores. You require more cunning to catch prey than to find the next leaf. Omnivores, who must switch between these tasks, tend to have larger brains yet.
  6. Brains and nervous systems are for mobility; plants don´t have brains, animals do. Exercise especially generates neurons in the hippocampus, an organ associated with memory, and these new neurons have been demonstrated to enhance learning. What I´m basically stating here is: MOVE, it will make you smarter.
  7. Dieting, in the long run, almost never works! Maximal weight loss is typically achieved at around 6 months, followed by weight regain.(2)
  8. Evidence has been building up that if you consume less calories, far below that needed to maintain normal weight, but still consume vitamins, protein and other important nutrients, your lifespan could increased by up to 65 percent.. (8)
  9. They have done studies with a low-calorie diet on different animals such as rats, yeast, worms, flies, spiders, fish and several types of rodents, and have seen the lifespan of the animals increase from 25 to 65 percent.(6-7)
  10. The people who live the longest come from Okinawa, Japan. Their diet consists of a higher percentage of fresh vegetables than in most places, and fish and soy make up virtually all the protein. Okinawans consume 40 percent fewer calories than Americans and 17 percent fewer calories than the average Japanese.  (9)
  11. There have been studies that have demonstrated the effect of larger portions on consumption. Did you know that the standard serving portion size for almost everything is larger than it was a generation ago? We sometimes see this in restaurants, especially in the USA, were the servings are huge. The problem with huge serving sizes is that we eat more than we are supposed to. They did a experiment on people, where people were invited to a lab for a ¨taste test¨of soup. Some of  the participants got a bowl that had a tube connected to the bottom of the bowl, so that it was always full. The other participants ate from a normal bowl. All the participants thought they had a ¨normal¨ bowl. Those with the ¨bottomless¨ bowl ate 40 percent more!!

CONCLUSIONS ON ´IS FOOD ADDICTIVE´

Certain foods are addictive, we have a hereditary predisposition for storing fat and we don´t have a strong instinct to engage in physical activity. On top of that we have changed drastically the way we eat, especially the last 80 years. Remember, and I know I have stated this a couple of times but it´s quite important, the last 10,000 years only represent 1% of the human evolution. Before agriculture we were hunter-gatherers and ate hundreds of plants and animals. The animals we ate were animals that were in the wild and had a high content of protein. The animals we eat now, are in farms, fed ¨shit¨ food, and given hormones to grow as fat and as quick as possible.  Another problem is that we eat much more than what we are supposed to. Just bear in mind that the people who live the longest on the planet are the Okinawans and they eat quite less than the average American or Japanese. Also, let´s not forget that the bigger the serving the more we eat (compare the dishes you have now with the ones your grandparents have).

So, with all this said, I think I found a solution to the problem. Instead of moving more, eating well and drinking better……… just buy smaller dishes !!! 😉

My next blog will finally be about sports. It will talk abou the myth of high repetitions. I think we have all heard that if you want to lose weight and tonify you have to do more repetitions, but is this true??  We will see in my next blog…. until then .

      References.
      1. Deirdre B. Waistland. The Evolutionary Science behind our weight and fitness crisis. W.W. Norton & Company. New York, 2007. pg 11.
      2. Mann T, Tomiyamas J, Westting E, Lew A-M, Chatman J. Medicare´s Search for Effective Obesity Treatments. American Psychologist, 2007;220-30.
      3.Lucas A. Breast Milk and Subsequent Intelligence Quotient in Children Born Preterm. Lancet 339,1992; 261-4.
      4. Reuters, ¨Researcher Links Obesity , Food Portions.
      5. Angel. Paleoecology, Paleodemography and Health.
      6. Lawler F-D. Influence of Lifetime Food Restriction on Causes, TIme and Predictores of Death in Dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 226, 2005; 225-31.
      7. Delaney M, Walford L. The Longevity Diet: Discover Calorie Restriction. Marlowe & CO. New York, 2005.
      8.

www.calorierestriction.org

    9. Wilcox B. How Much Should We Eat? The Association Between Energy Intake and Mortality in a 36 Year Follow-Up Study of Japanese-American Men. Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences 59,2004; 789-95.

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