Intrigued? Ok, reports out of the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston confirmed previous findings mainly that consumption of the world’s number one stimulant, caffeine is also correlated with lower levels of erectile dysfunction in US men.
Have you ever wondered how many hours you should ideally sleep each night or researched how to time meals for optimal health and metabolism?
The initial response of active people and especially hard core athletes would probably be to sleep more and eat your carbohydrates after you workout. Beyond those basic tips, there’s not much more information available out there. While the true impact of nutrient timing and sleep can fill volumes of textbooks, a couple of recent publications on the subject have drawn some important conclusions we want to share with you.
Often credited with a much stronger Farm-to-Table tradition than the United States, the European Union is undergoing similar problems with the food supply chain. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) stated on March 12, 2015 that nearly 50% of all food products in Europe contain pesticide residue. Further worryingly, pesticides were also found on a small percentage of organic foods.
In general, the health impact of these trace levels of pesticides is low, but with many of the present compounds being proven carcinogens, health conscious individuals are raising the alarm. Almost all products where under the legal limit for pesticide occurrence, but one of the most common violators of legal pesticide limits are strawberries.
Many different factors contribute to increasing mortality risk in a single individual. Genetics are extremely important, but lifestyle can play a much bigger role when it comes to eliminating risk of mortality. On one end, certain behaviors like alcohol and tobacco abuse can accelerate mortality, behaviors like consuming real food, managing stress and cardiovascular exercise can effectively reduce mortality risk. For many people, the difficulty is in finding moderation between extending life and eliminating pleasure.
Most people associate exercise with a healthy lifestyle. While the two are often intimately in twined, sometimes the particular benefits get lost in the fad of exercise. One benefit of exercise, cardio respiratory fitness (CRF), has long been associated with quality of life (QOL), but new research based on the testing of 69,858 individuals aged between 18 to 96 years found that higher CRF is also associated with decreased mortality risks, especially when it was combined with healthy behaviors.
The new research, out of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, found that individuals with a high risk factor score (calculated by measuring age, sex, HDL cholesterol and cholesterol levels, race, systolic blood pressure, smoking, blood pressure medication use and diabetes) and low levels of CRF had a “34% increase in future relative risk for death compared to people who had the lowest risk score and the highest fitness level,” (Steven Keteyian). Furthermore, it was found that, even with individuals that had a high risk factor score (less healthful traits / symptoms), high levels of CRF would reduce the risk of mortality.
While most people seem to understand that having a healthier heart is a good way to live longer with high QOL, understanding what improves CRF is becoming fuddled. Weightlifting and endurance training have drastically different impacts on the heart’s natural physiology. While current training trends blend cardio with lifting, making it difficult to decode what the cardiac future will be for certain exercise enthusiasts, the traditional approach to training finds that a certain extent of endurance style training would be required to obtain the optimal benefits found in the study.
However, the main conclusion here is that exercise can greatly reduce your risk of mortality. While focusing on cardio based training like bike / rowing intervals will arguably have the greatest effect, simply being active and moving about will benefit most individuals if properly applied. So if in doubt, get up and jump.
Risk Factor Calculator:
Public health has long focused on the importance of having enough vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is common in individuals that live in Northern cities such as Chicago, New York, London and Copenhagen. This phenomenon occurs because sun exposure stimulates vitamin D production, and without at least 15 minutes of sun exposure, vitamin D levels are generally not met. Vitamin D is integral in the mineralization of bones and calcium absorption, with adequate intakes set at 5 micrograms per day.
The great importance of vitamin D has been supported by a large volume of recent scientific literature; correlations between vitamin D levels and immune function, athletic performance and fall risk reduction in the elderly are prevalent. However, as with most vitamins and minerals, there is such thing as overdosing.
It has long been known that vitamin D overdosing may cause nausea, elevated blood pressure and may negatively impact the kidneys, but new findings from the University of Copenhagen certainly add another dimension to the debate on vitamin D supplementation.
“If your vitamin D level is below 50 or over 100 nanomol per litre, there is a greater connection to deaths. We have looked at what caused the death of patients, and when numbers are above 100, it appears that there is an increased risk of dying from a stroke or a coronary. In other words, levels of vitamin D should not be too low, but neither should they be too high. Levels should be somewhere in between 50 and 100 nanomol per litre, and our study indicates that 70 is the most preferable level,” explains Peter Schwartz, Professor at the Department of Clinical Medicine at the University of Copenhagen.
This immediately should send up red flags when it comes to vitamin D supplementation. While many individuals might need a slight supplemental boost in vitamin D levels, over consuming the products in a hope to obtain optimal health or athletic performance is apparently dangerous.
“These are very important results, because there is such great focus on eating vitamin D. We should use this information to ask ourselves whether or not we should continue to eat vitamins and nutritional supplements as if they were sweets. You shouldn’t simply up the dose to feel better. We should only consume such vitamins in close coordination with our GP,” Peter Schwartz concludes.
How powerful are sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs)? Powerful enough to cause most girls to have their first menstruation cycle earlier than their non-sugar drinking cohorts. Over the course of the 5 year study through the University of Harvard, researchers found that girls that consumed over 1.5 servings of SSBs daily where 24% more likely to attain menarche in the next month, and generally expected to attain menarche 2.7 months earlier that girls that did not consume SSBs. The 5 year study investigated 5,583 girls across the U.S. between the ages of 9 -14 years, classifying SSBs as non-carbonated fruit drinks, soda or iced tea.
Human Reproduction, 2015.
Men and women have fundamentally different brains say scientists from University of Exeter and Strand Polytechnic. Throughout the brain’s early development, subtle shifts in regulator molecules affect gene activation. This process (known as epigenetics), is the biology behind tissue differentiation – why do tissues become what they are. Understanding this process more in detail will help us understand issues like why autism is more prevalent in males. This might also help explain whey women are from Venus and men from Jupiter.
Spiers, et al. Genome Research, 2015.
Celiac disease is a hot topic on the internet right now. The up-roaring popularity of the gluten-free diet raised a lot of awareness of the immune disorder. While keeping celiac disease in check is a doable (but a daily effort for people with the disease) Indian scientists are saying there is anecdotal evidence indicating diagnosing and treating celiac disease might help with infertility issues. Dr Makharia of the All India institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi found that diagnosing and treating celiac disease with a gluten-free diet aided the women’s infertility issues. Further research is required to find what causes the perceived link, or if it is just a coincidence.
Sometimes the news just makes you want to smack yourself in the forehead and give up hope for humanity. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (), recently announced that Kraft Singles received the “Kids Eat Right” label to help parents select better foods for their children is one such piece of news.
It should be noted that the academy and Kraft are in a three-year collaboration with each other to help promote healthy eating in kids, as reported by the NY Times. The executive director of the academy, Mary Beth Whalen, continued her support of the controversial label practices by stating that “the logo on Kraft Singles packaging identifies the brand as a proud supporter” of her organization, denying that it was not simply an endorsement.
However, a comment from a Kraft spokesperson said that this was the first endorsement from the academy.
The argument behind the academy, which represents 75,000 registered dietitians, is that putting the label on a popular food like Kraft Singles will draw attention to their cause. This isn’t the first time that this specific organization has landed itself in hot water in regards to sleeping with the big food industry. It has previously been reported that at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ annual meetings, education on salt intake has been provided by Frito-Lay, and that a company that makes high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was encouraging the attendees to question the reported relationship between HFCS and diabetes.
All these issues surrounding one of the biggest organizations that claims to represent a large number of health professionals in the United States displays the further need for forward thinking and critical thought. Label marketing is a powerful tool and the best marketed products often end up in your home, but if a little investigation reveals such corporate affairs like Kraft and the academy, it should seriously make you reconsider what a label actually means.
Research (or at least public knowledge) on the importance of gut bacteria for health is becoming common knowledge. Bacteria plays an integral role in a variety of physiological functions. Defects in the gut micro biome play influence the development of inflammatory bowel disease, chronic low-grade inflammation and metabolic syndrome. Even more concerning (or revealing) is a study in 2011 that found that the gut bacteria of obese humans and mice differed from their non-obese counterparts.
Similarly, evidence has been continuously piling up over the past few years stating previously unknown health implications of popular food items / ingredients. Food additives are often vilified by “real-food” advocates, and in many cases rightly so. Research out of Georgia State University, and published in the the journal Nature, uncovered that mice fed dietary emulsifiers developed low-grade inflammation and metabolic syndrome over a 12-week period. Low-grade inflammation in the gut, along with metabolic syndrome, greatly increase the risk of someone developing type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease / stroke.
What caused the increased risk in disease?
Following twelve weeks of consuming the popular dietary emulsifiers (carboxymethylcellulose and polysorbate-80), the mice had significant variations in gut bacterial composition as well as disruptions in the intestinal mucus. The disruptions in the mucus meant that the bacterial colonies were closer to the sensitive colon cells. To make matters worse, the emulsifier fed population also experienced weight gain, increases in fat mass and increased food consumption.
While the researchers agree that a primary cause of obesity is over-eating, this thorough investigation found that modern adaptations to the food supply potentially have drastic consequences.
Chassaing, B. et al (2015). Dietary emulsifiers impact the mouse gut microbiota promoting colitis and metabolic syndrome. Nature. 519. 92-96.
Women should not fear whey protein. Many women are afraid that resistance training and protein powders will result in bulking and increased muscle mass: the equation is not that simple. We have recently learned through research out of Massey University in New Zealand that women who consumed whey protein beverages actually had more hunger suppression, mediated by a natural hormonal response.