Harvard Researchers Connect Whole Grains With Longer Life

January 23, 2015 7:55 am 0 comments

Two good things aboimagesut whole grains: they actually taste like something; and they could keep you alive a little longer. It’s true. A new study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health has found that eating more whole grains is associated with up to 15 percent lower mortality—particularly cardiovascular disease-related mortality. A news release from the school reports that the study linked bran, a component of whole grain foods, with up to 6 percent lower overall mortality and up to 20 percent lower cardiovascular-related mortality. The researchers, who studied data from more than 74,000 women and more than 43,000 men who filled out questionnaires about their diet every two or four years from the mid-1980s to 2010, found that whole grain intake was associated with up to 9 percent lower overall mortality and up to 15 percent lower cardiovascular-related mortality. For each serving of whole grains (28g/day), overall mortality dropped by 5 percent. Wait, there’s more: the researchers are convinced that swapping just one serving of refined grains or red meat per day with one serving of whole grains was linked with lower cardiovascular related mortality: 8 percent lower mortality for swapping out refined grains and 20 percent lower mortality for swapping out red meat.

For Heart Health, One Drink A Day, Yes One

January 22, 2015 7:58 am 0 comments

eisch-breathable-wine-glass-1Still more evidence of the health benefits of moderate drinking: The New York Times reports that a study just published in the European Heart Journal found that moderate drinkers have a lower risk of heart failure than either heavy drinkers or abstainers. The study, which followed 14,629 people for 24 years, starting at an average age of 54, revealed that, when compared with abstainers, men who drank up to a drink a day — a glass of wine, a 12-ounce beer or a shot of liquor — had a 20 percent reduced risk of heart failure. Women had 16 percent reduced risk. And yes, that health benefit dropped as people drank more.

Research Suggests That Exercise Cuts Breast Cancer Risk

January 21, 2015 7:53 am 0 comments

imagesCan exercise really help to ward off breast cancer? Researchers at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque think so. The Wall Street Journal, reports that scientists at the school have been studying the cancer fighting effects of irisin, a hormone that is released from muscles after vigorous exercise. When the researchers tested genetically engineered irisin on aggressive breast-cancer cells and on nonmalignant breast cells, they found that irisin treatment reduced the number of malignant cells by 34 percent compared with untreated cells, but had no effect on nonmalignant cells. Cell migration, the Journal reports, the movement of cancer cells to new sites, was reduced by 51 percent, suggesting that irisin may prevent or slow metastasis. Wait, there’s more: cell death was 22 times greater in irisin-treated cancer cells than untreated cells. All of which could explain why women who exercise are reported to have a 30 percent to 40 percent reduced risk of breast cancer and improved survival if they have the disease. The Journal reports that irisin is currently being tested on two aggressive strains of malignant prostate cells and on healthy prostate cells. It also points out that all of these tests took place in the lab, and none involved human trials.

The Beet Juice Conundrum: Does It Boost Blood Flow?

January 20, 2015 8:28 am 0 comments

For years, athletesimages-1 have been drinking beet juice before working out to increase blood flow to muscles and boost performance. Now comes a study from researchers at Penn State suggesting that the beet juice strategy was all for naught. A Penn State news release reports that while beetroot juice is in fact rich in nitrates, it did not enhance muscle blood flow or vascular dilation during exercise. The good news, although not necessarily for athletes, is that the researchers found that it did “de-stiffen” blood vessels under resting conditions, potentially easing the workload of the heart. How to they know? When the  researchers gave subjects either a placebo drink containing beetroot juice minus the nitrate or a relatively high dose of nitrate-rich beetroot juice, they found that the latter did not enhance the natural rise in blood flow to the forearm muscles during graded handgrip exercise. The researchers did notice, however, a direct correlation between nitrite levels in the blood and the slowing of participants’ arterial pulsation velocity, an indication that the supplement did indeed have a biological (artery de-stiffening) effect. That finding has encouraged the researchers to look into the effects of beet juice/nitrate supplementation on vascular function in older adults, including those with elevated blood pressure and impaired muscle blood flow during exercise.

Sitting Is The New Smoking

January 20, 2015 8:06 am 1 comment

Yes, it’simages yet another study on the health risks of too much sitting, which is now described, in some circles, as the new smoking. This study, a meta-analysis of others, comes from scientists at Toronto’s University Health Network (UHN) and Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, and like others, identifies a definite relationship between the amount of time a person sits everyday and heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and death. Wait, there’s more unsurprising news.  Science Daily reports that study found that the negative effects of sitting are more pronounced among those who do little or no exercise than among those who do more exercise. What to do? The researchers recommend trying to reduce sedentary time by two to three hours a day. Makes sense.

Get Up. Stand Up. Stand Up For Your Health

January 16, 2015 8:09 am 0 comments

If sitting is the new smoking, is standing the healthful alternative? The Boston Globe reportsimages-1 that many experts think it is. The Globe cites a recent Harvard study of more than 92,000 women that found that the more time participants spent sitting at work, driving, or watching TV, the greater their risk of dying from heart disease, cancer, or strokes. Wait, there’s more, such as a Canadian study involving 17,000 people that found that those who reported the most time standing had a 33 percent lower risk of dying from any cause over 12 years compared to those who stood the least. That study also found that people who exercised at least two hours each week got the same life-extending benefits as those who stood the most. The Globe reports that “the Harvard researchers, on the other hand, found in their study that regular exercise didn’t erase the increased death risk associated with prolonged sitting.” How healthful is standing, exactly? The Globe reports that standing in one place is equivalent to 1.3 MET compared to 1 MET for sitting, and that walking at a 3 mile-per-hour pace is a 3.3 MET activity, while jogging is a 7 MET, which means it burns 7 times the energy than the body at rest.

A 20-Minute Walk Can Cut Death Risk By 30 Percent

January 15, 2015 8:29 am 1 comment

How much exercisewalking does it take to cut the risk of early death? Not much, according to a study by researchers at the University of Cambridge.  A news release reports that researchers at the school are convinced that a brisk 20-minute walk a day could do the trick. The researchers analyzed data from 334,161 men and women, measuring height, weight and waist circumference, and self-assessed levels of physical activity. A followup study done 12 years later found that the greatest reduction in risk of premature death occurred in the comparison between inactive and moderately inactive groups, and that doing exercise equivalent to just a 20-minute brisk walk each day – burning between 90 and 110 calories – can reduce the risk of premature death by between 16 to 30 percent. The impact was greatest for people of normal weight.

What Women Want: To Know That Men Prefer Full-bodied Women

January 14, 2015 7:52 am 0 comments

Finally, one answer to the unanswerable question: Women want to know that men desire women who aren’t rail-thin. It’s true. ScienceDailyimages reports that three studies conducted at Southern Methodist University all support the thesis that a woman’s body image is strongly linked to her perception of what she thinks men prefer. The studies also revealed, unsurprisingly, that most women believe that men prefer very thin women. OK, it’s not hard to see where women get such ideas, but the media gets a lot of things wrong. ScienceDaily reports that the new studies involved 448 women who were asked to look at images of women with different body types, and who were told that some of the women were particularly attractive to men. In all three studies, women who were told that men were attracted to larger women felt better about their own bodies.

Want To Build Muscle? Think About It

January 13, 2015 7:48 am 0 comments

Can just thinking about building muscle actually build muscle? Researchers at Ohio University’s Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institute think so. HealthDayimgres reports that scientists at the institute put 29 people in casts that completely immobilized their hand and wrist for four weeks. Fourteen of those people were told to routinely perform an imagery exercise, imagining that they were intensely contracting their wrist for five seconds with five seconds of rest. Wait, there’s more: As they performed this imagery exercise, they were guided by the following instructions: “Begin imagining that you are pushing in as hard as you can with your left wrist, push, push, push . . . and stop. (Five-second rest.) Start imagining that you are pushing in again as hard as you can, keep pushing, keep pushing . . . and stop. (Five-second rest.)” The instructions were played four times and followed by a one-minute break, and participants completed 13 rounds per session and sessions each week. Yes, the other half of the cast group did not perform any imagery exercise. Ready, the envelope please….After four weeks, all of the participants who wore a cast lost strength in their immobilized hand and wrist, but those who had performed mental imaging lost 50 percent less strength than the group that didn’t do mental exercises.

An Avocado A Day Keeps The Heart Doctor Away

January 12, 2015 7:46 am 0 comments

It’s  not news timgreshat eating avocados can lower cholesterol; health experts have known that for a while. What is news is just how good they are at doing that. A Penn State University news release reports that researchers at the school tested three diets, all designed to lower cholesterol: a lower-fat diet, consisting of 24 percent fat, and two moderate fat diets, with 34 percent fat. The moderate fat diets were nearly identical, however one diet incorporated one Hass avocado every day while the other used a comparable amount of high oleic acid oils — such as olive oil — to match the fatty acid content of one avocado. Note well: Hass avocados are the smaller, darker variety with bumpy green skin and have a higher nutrient content than Florida avocados, which are larger, and have smoother skin and a higher water content. What did they find? The envelope please…. After five weeks, the avocado diet decreased bad cholesterol by 13.5 mg/dL, while LDL was decreased by 8.3 mg/dL on the moderate-fat diet and by 7.4 mg/dL on the low-fat diet. Want more? Read more here.

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