Exercise & AntiOxidants

 

An interesting health article today discussed vitamins and exercise.  Though experts are always urging us to eat a well-balanced diet in order to receive all our daily nutrients without the use of supplements, it is not an easy task.  I know people who eat healthily, but I really don’t know anyone who eats everything that is recommended in order to get all their vitamins and minerals.  Most of us are set in our ways as far as diet is concerned, with very little variation in our meals.  When the diet consists of the same thing day after day, it is likely that many nutrients are missing and many others are in excess.

 

I had never heard of people taking vitamins, especially C and E, after exercising in order to reduce what’s called “oxidative stress”.  This oxidative stress is created by harmful chemicals, called “free radicals”, which are released when we exercise.  Free radicals are believed to cause cancer and heart disease, amongst other things.  Vitamins C and E are antioxidants, which block these free radicals and protect the body from its damage.  Interesting, logical concepts, though I had never heard about doing this.

 

But scientists have now found that antioxidants after exercising may not be good.  Apparently, these free radicals can reduce the risk of diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity.  Most diabetes caused by obesity is related to insulin insensitivity.  That is, the body cannot respond to insulin, so the blood sugars remain elevated.  Muscles, when they respond to insulin, take glucose up and use that as energy.  When they don’t respond, the muscles have to use other sources of energy.  Antioxidants block these good effects of free radicals.

 

As always in health, there is a delicate balance that needs to be preserved.  Vitamins are good, but they should not be taken in excess.  The study highlights some negative effects of vitamins, but it only talked about vitamins taken after exercising.  There was no comment about its effects if taken at other times.  Will it help protect against free radicals in cancer and heart disease or harmful in diabetes?  Also, it did not discuss threshold levels that can help or harm.

Fiber for Bowel Movement

 

Following on my issues about constipation.  I remember a colleague called in the maintenance man because the toilet was plugged up and she couldn’t unplug it.  He joked about the women in the office and suggested they added fiber to their diet.  She countered with, “But that would make it worse!”

 

Strange isn’t it that they recommend fiber for constipation?  There are reasons for it, but sometimes it seems counter-intuitive.  I guess it really depends on what the constipation problem is.  If someone produces large, hard stools, but has a hard time passing it, fiber might not be a good option.  Fiber bulks up the stool and helps the bowels move.  However, if you already have bulky stools, you wouldn’t want to bulk it up some more.  If you have small, hard stools, fiber might help.

 

If stools are hard, some use stool softeners.  They are not laxatives in themselves, but because they sometimes soften stools too much, some people complain they get diarrhea.  Perhaps, the best suggestion for some of these people may be to drink more water.  Or even juices.  Some people feel apple or grape juice can induce diarrhea.  But, the one juice most people associate with bowel movements is prune juice.  Prune juice is probably ideal because it contains fiber and liquid. However, it does not work for everyone, either.  Of course, nothing is ever 100% guaranteed to work.  I’ve tried prune juice and sometimes, it can cause cramping when it takes effect.

 

I know lots of people who resort to over-the-counter laxatives.  Some people actually abuse them, because they wrongly assume they have constipation when it may not be.  Then, there are those anorexics who abuse them for the sole purpose of remaining thin.  However, you look at it, laxative abuse is dangerous.  For that matter, many doctors hate it when people use laxatives, especially when they don’t inform their doctors about their use.  It may interfere with other medications or cause other problems that may be misdiagnosed.

 

Regular exercise is also supposed to be good as it keeps the body fit and functioning properly.  Yet, how to gauge the effect of exercise is difficult.  I’m not a couch potato, but neither am I excessively active.  But, summer is here, so I should make a conscious effort to engage in real exercise every day.

Brain Starts Declining Earlier Than We Thought

 

Having passed the age of 27 some years back, it was disheartening to read that the brain starts to decline from then. In some odd research study on brain power in people from 18-60, they found that brain power peaked at 22 and started to decline at 27. Though I have serious doubts as to the validity of the study and its findings, it is nevertheless a worrying case.

Now, I probably suffer from what some colleagues like to refer to as Sometimer’s Disease, as opposed to All timers (a colloquial way of saying Alzheimer’s), but I’d like to think my Sometimer’s is related to not focusing attention to the matter at hand. For, if you don’t focus, you tend to forget in the next second and have to ask someone to repeat what they said.

 

But this new study has me wondering. Scientists say this may help them to better understand dementia and Alzheimer’s. But how? Dementia is not necessarily an old age problem, but many elderly suffer from it, and it usually occurs later in life. Less frequently, it can occur in the younger population and is referred to as precocious dementia. This may also occur in some neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s and most especially, Huntington’s disease. But on the whole, it is something that is restricted to the elderly. However, if the findings of this new study are true and valid, it means that dementia should usually start occurring by age 30. At this rate, I should well be on way to full-blown dementia. (Hmmm…It might explain a lot.)

 

The study was performed over 7 years and involved 2000 participants. Now, unless they give the brain test to the same person at different stages in their lives, I cannot see how they can determine that brain power peaks at 22 and starts to deteriorate at 27. Perhaps the 22-year-olds in their study are particularly brilliant and the 60-year-olds are obviously not going to be as quick. Comparing the mind of one 27-year-old to a 22-year-old has to take into account everything about their backgrounds. If you show me that the 22-year-old performed well one year and five years later his performance declined, then I might be inclined to give you some credit, provided the circumstances of the test are identical – fully rested, no illness, etc.

 

Oh, well, brain decline is an inevitability, just like death. Though I’d hate to think I’m on the edge of the cliff.

Unexpected Link Between Cancer & Vegetables

 

In the promotion of healthy eating, we are all told to have 5-7 servings of vegetables and 3-5 servings of fruits a day. In addition, we are warned to decrease our consumption of meat, especially red meat. This is most likely due to the high quantity of fat found in red meat. On the other hand, the consumption of fish is good for you. All the health experts are constantly inundating us with new findings indicating the link between a poor diet and poor health. No surprise. They further report that red meat is linked to many different cancers.

 

So it is no surprise that yet another study has shown that those who follow a strictly vegetarian diet have lower rates of cancer than those who eat red meat. It is also no surprise that the consumption of fish reduced the rates of cancer. But wait! There is a surprise. The new study showed that despite the lower risk of overall cancer, those who followed the vegetarian diet had a higher risk of colorectal cancer than those who eat red meat. This goes against prior preachings on eating more vegetables and less meat to prevent colorectal cancer.

 

It has stupefied scientists, who will now need to look further into this unexpected link. So, it appears that there will need to be a shift in our thinking. I would not suggest that vegetarians eat meat. However, I would caution them to beware lest they are complacent in their belief that all is well for them in health. Perhaps, the best diet would be one that is high in fruits, vegetables and fish, and less in red meat. We will need to wait and see.

Secrets To A Long Life

 

So, what is the secret to old age? Well, nobody really knows. Health experts are continually pushing on the exercise, eat a balanced meal, don’t smoke, and only drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. And, of course, The Healthy Blogger advocates all of this. Yet, it is not the magic prescription, for people still die at young ages from many different causes. On the other hand, some may live to be over 100 and never followed this advice.

 

When we hear of someone reaching the 3-digit mark, we make general assumptions about that person based on where they come from. These general assumptions are always about food – you know, “Oh, it must be…

 

1.) …the olive oil“: if they are from the Mediterranean area.

 

2.) …the fish”: if they are on an island.

 

3.) …the rice”: if they are from the Orient.

 

And the list goes on.

 

But what do the centenarians really attribute it to? The answers can be rather funny at times. Most of them also attribute it to food, but some just say it is healthy habits, such as exercise and not smoking. Of course, we’ve all heard some of them make jokes, such as quitting smoking about 5 years previously. As for food, again, we hear some extreme tales that can be hard to prove or disprove. According to the BBC Magazine page, some claim their longevity is due to things such as custard, salt, and donkey’s milk. I heard someone once say they had 4 eggs a day.

 

Of course, we have to take all this with a “grain of salt“. Maybe it is true that these unusual dietary habits did sustain these people. But, we need to be careful not to assume that it will work for us. There is no one special secret to old age. Each of us requires a different formula and only some of us are fortunate enough to discover that formula.

Choosing the Right Food

 

I was placed on hold talking to customer service and instead of just playing music, there were infomercial ads.  This particular one focused on eating healthy.  I was not able to hear all of it, but a couple of the advice given was sensible and reiterated some things I said previously.

 

If you’re concerned about your weight and would like to lose some, or if you just want to maintain a healthy diet, it can be very difficult to follow through when you’re dining out.   And, let’s face it, most of us get tired of eating the same things day in and day out or struggling to come up with a good meal to fix every night.  So, occasionally, we do need to dine out.  But, there are ways to keep to your resolutions.

 

The first suggestion is to order a soup like minestrone as a starter.  As I’ve mentioned before, eating a hearty soup does fill you up and the effect lasts longer than eating dry food and washing it down with water.  In effect, having this soup first prevents you from eating more in your main course.

 

The other suggestion is a little more interesting.  It involves eating seafood.  Of course, we know that fatty fish contains the good fat, omega-3, which is heart healthy.  But, according to this ad, omega-3 also boosts hormones in your brain to help with depression.  I’m not sure of the science behind this, but I guess it would be healthier than the typical comfort food.  So, if you’re feeling down, grab some mackerel sushi.