Fruit and Vegetable Intake Associated with Extended Lifespan
As we begin to gain a better understanding of epigenetics, or the way our environment impacts our genes, we also begin to clear up some of the mystery behind food and its impact on determining various aspects of our health. According to a recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, fruit, vegetable, and fiber intake are associated with a lowered risk of all causes mortality in people who are considered high risk for developing cardiovascular disease. For the study researchers took nearly 7,000 participants who were considered at high risk for the development of cardiovascular disease and monitored them over the course of six years. Throughout the term of the study diets were regularly assessed by questionnaires to determine fruit, vegetable, fiber, and whole-grain intakes. At the conclusion of the study approximately 425 of the participants had died, and after analyzing the data researchers concluded that individuals who consumed at least 210g of fruit, vegetables, and fiber daily had a 41% reduced risk for all-cause mortality. Although the argument could be made that at risk individuals have the most to gain from an increase in fiber and micronutrients, the fact still remains that diet’s ability to extend the lifespan of those who were considered to be in poor health is a testament to the healing power of proper nutrition.
Dietary Saturated Fat Does Not Increase Cholesterol or Triglycerides
Since the war against dietary fat began in the late 1950’s numerous studies have repeatedly proven the negative correlation between dietary fat intake and heart disease to be completely untrue. Now, a new study published in the online journal Plos One is reporting that not only does dietary fat not increase triglyceride or cholesterol levels, but it actually fails to increase circulating levels of saturated fat in the blood as well. For the study researchers took sixteen participants with metabolic syndrome and gave them varying levels of saturated fat and carbohydrate over six, three week intervals. The study found that no matter how much saturated fat the participants consumed that their blood plasma levels of saturated fat remained relatively stable; and that when saturated fat intake was highest, and carbohydrate intake was lowest, cholesterol and triglyceride actually levels decreased. However, when saturated fat intake was decreased and carbohydrate intake was increased there was a resulting increase in both triglyceride and cholesterol levels. The data shows once again that it is in fact dietary carbohydrate, and not dietary fat, that is responsible for elevating risk factors of cardiovascular disease.
Excess Body Fat Linked to Increased Rates of Cancer
If you’ve been thinking about saying bye-bye to your abs over these next few winter months, and turning yourself into a Grade A slop jockey by justifying it with the “It’s my offseason statement”, you may want to reconsider your strategy. According to a new study released by the journal Lancet Oncology, overweight and obesity accounted the development of approximately 3.6% of new cancers cases worldwide. As body fat increases insulin resistance, or our body’s ability to proper regulate blood glucose levels, decreases. The inability to regulate blood glucose leads to a negative metabolic cascade that causes dangerous levels of advanced glycation end products to accumulate, along with increased produced of pro inflammatory cytokines that do untold amounts of damage throughout the body. Inflammation and elevated levels of AGE’s have been long linked to diseases such as cancer, CVD, hypertension, and type-2 diabetes. So although the idea of eating a quart of fat-free Ben & Jerry’s and calling it carb loading may sound appealing, the truth is that accumulating excessive amounts of body fat has far reaching implications that extend well beyond simply making life a bit more miserable come contest season.
Exercise Wards off Cognitive Decline
According to recent estimates, nearly five million people are currently living in the United States with some form of Alzheimer’s or dementia. In 2013 alone, the cost of medical expenses associated with the care of Alzheimer’s and dementia suffers was estimated to be a staggering $220 billion. And as the baby boomer population continues to age health experts predict a staggering increase in the amount of diagnosis and cost related to chronic brain disease. With a healthcare tsunami on the brink, and an anticipated 15 million cases predicted by the year 2050, researchers have been searching for ways to fight off chronic brain disease and promote healthy cognitive aging - and it appears exercise may be the best medicine. According to data published in the journal Maturitas by scientists at the University of Melbourne, regular physical activity during middle age has a tremendous ability to promote cognitive health. Exercise reduces oxidative damage in the brain, but the way we exercise is of critical importance according to researchers. When it comes to cognitive health - exercise intensity matters. In order to receive the brain benefits of exercise it’s necessary to perform at a moderate intensity, and the act of just going for a leisurely stroll isn’t enough to receive the cognitive enhancing benefits. So, the next time you plan on plodding along at the speed of continental drift on your treadmill with a 3.5 incline, consider cranking up the intensity. Your brain will thank you.
Marital Stress Is Literally A Killer
Anyone who’s been unfortunate enough to suffer miserably through the soul crushing experience of being mired in a bad relationship will attest to the fact that it is indeed both mentally, and physically exhausting. However, researchers from Michigan State University have found that relationship quality actually has a quantifiable impact on heart health. For the study researchers examined five years of data from 600 couples ranging from ages 57-85. They tracked variables such as CVD risk factors and the inflammatory marker C- reactive protein in addition to collecting survey data about marital quality. After analyzing the data researchers found that negative marital quality had a clinically significant impact on heart. Having poor marital quality was found to elevate stress levels, decrease immune function, increase CVD risk factors, and also be more likely to cause feelings of depression. The results seemed to be particularly troubling for women, who were far more likely to suffer from adverse effects than were men.