Archive for the ‘Lifestyle’ Category

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Brain Shrinkage and Cognition Linked to Common Lifestyle Factors

October 24, 2011
Six Lifestyle Factors Lead to Cognitive Decline and Brain Shrinkage

Six Lifestyle Factors Lead to Cognitive Decline and Brain Shrinkage

The result of a new study published in the journal Neurology (the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology) has found that poor lifestyle habits and related health disorders such as smoking, overweight and obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure cause brain shrinkage and cognitive decline.

Researchers determined that these conditions when present during middle age predicated lower brain volume and precursor markers for dementia up to a decade later. Identifying and controlling these risk factors early is a critical step in preventing loss of cognitive function and memory in later life.

Detrimental Lifestyle Practices Directly Impact Brain Health

Correcting High Blood Pressure Readings Help Lower Dementia Risk

Correcting High Blood Pressure Readings Help Lower Dementia Risk

To conduct the study, researchers examined a cohort of 1,352 people with an average age of 54 from the Framingham Offspring Study. The participants were weighed and body mass index and waist circumference were established along with blood pressure and cholesterol tests and blood glucose readings to detect for diabetes. Additionally, MRI brain scans were completed over the course of a decade with the first test performed seven years after the original biomarker benchmark.

Researchers found that those participants with high blood pressure developed a condition identified as `white matter `hyperintensities` or small areas of damage to the delicate vessel structure of the brain. Hypertensive participants were much more likely to demonstrate worsening scores on tests of executive function compared to those with normal blood pressure readings. The study authors found that this single factor negatively affected planning and decision making processes and corresponded with five to eight years of premature chronological brain aging.

Smoking Cessation and Controlling Diabetes and Obesity Key to Improved Cognition

Smoking is a Significant Lifestyle Action Leading to Loss of Cognition

Smoking is a Significant Lifestyle Action Leading to Loss of Cognition

Diabetes in middle age was associated with loss of brain volume in the memory-forming hippocampus region at a much faster rate than non-diabetics. Smokers were found to experience both accelerated brain volume shrinkage and white matter hyperintensities at a much faster rate than non-diabetic participants that did not smoke. Obese individuals were in the top quarter of those most likely to display loss of executive function and rapid rate of cognitive decline.

The lead study author, Dr. Charles DeCarli concluded that the four studied risk factors “provide evidence that identifying these risk factors early in people of middle age could be useful in screening people for at-risk dementia and encouraging people to make changes to their lifestyle before it`s too late”. Poor lifestyle choices are well known to contribute to a host of potentially lethal conditions and this body of research continues to add to the existing evidence. Health-conscious individuals will insist on a well balanced reduced calorie, low-refined carbohydrate diet along with regular physical activity to prevent obesity, hypertension, diabetes and cognitive decay.

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Key Lifestyle Changes Prevent Chronic Diseases

May 2, 2011
Diet and Lifestyle Modifications Prevent Most Chronic Diseases

Diet and Lifestyle Modifications Prevent Most Chronic Diseases

Lifestyle therapies that include proper nutrition, stress management, regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy body weight are key elements in the prevention and treatment of many chronic diseases. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke and dementia are all strongly influenced by fine tuning diet with plenty of raw organic foods and taking advantage of regular moderate physical activity.

Once referred to as alternative medicine, health conscious individuals now embrace a natural lifestyle approach to health maintenance. Important research confirms that following four simple behavior patterns can help prevent chronic disease development and progression by more than 90%.

Lifestyle Therapy Proven Effective in Chronic Disease Prevention

Maintaining a Healthy Weight Is Key to Disease Risk Reduction

Maintaining a Healthy Weight Is Key to Disease Risk Reduction

Health minded individuals are opting for lifestyle interventions to control chronic disease. Big Pharma alternatives promote existing disease and all have side effects that can be more severe than the symptoms they are supposed to mask. The results of the EPIC study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine show that adherence to four simple lifestyle pillars can dramatically lower the risk from virtually every major chronic illness.

This significant study followed 23,000 people for nearly 8 years and examined smoking behavior, food consumption, exercise and maintaining a health weight. The researchers found that those participants who didn`t smoke, consumed a diet high in fresh vegetables and low in meat, exercised at least 3.5 hours per week and maintained a normal weight (BMI less than 30) reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 93%. Heart attack risk was reduced by 81%, stroke risk was cut in half and 36% of all cancers were prevented. Allopathic interventions only perpetuate chronic disease and are ineffective at reducing disease risk.

Traditional Allopathic Statin Therapy Increases Diabetes Risk

Many Natural Foods Help Prevent Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome

Many Natural Foods Help Prevent Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome

Many traditional physicians hand out statins as if they were candy and some even joke that this Big Pharma sanctioned form of poisoning should be added to our public water supply. Statins are known to cause a wide variety of side effects. Muscle deterioration and cognitive decline are two of the most commonly reported detrimental effects of those on long term statin therapy that result from an unnatural suppression of cholesterol.

The results of research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association show how using a dietary approach including fiber, almonds and natural plant sterols can lower cholesterol as much as dangerous statins. Another side effect of statin therapy is increased levels of insulin. Following a natural diet protocol does not raise insulin and has been shown to lower blood pressure, increase HDL cholesterol, lower triglycerides and alter the ratio of atherogenic dense LDL particles toward the harmless large buoyant variety.

American Life Expectancy Drops, Lifestyle Therapies Needed

Americans have enjoyed a steady increase in life expectancy over the past century. A report from the CDC now indicates that this trend may have finally come to an end as more people suffer the effects of poor diet, decreased physical fitness and obesity. Despite a never ending supply of pharmaceuticals prescribed by medical professionals, lifestyle disease such as Alzheimer`s, kidney disease and hypertension experienced a marked increase. Following a natural lifestyle approach as detailed in the EPIC study would dramatically increase life expectancy.

The importance of following a natural lifestyle cannot be underestimated and is a powerful tool to prevent chronic disease. Pharmaceuticals such as statins are ineffective and are known to affect insulin levels that can lead to the development of diabetes. Lifestyle therapies have been repeatedly shown to cut disease risk and extend healthy lifespan.

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The Keys to Successful Weight Loss

October 15, 2010

(Article first published as Successful Weight Loss Requires More Than Counting Calories on Technorati.)

You’ve made the big decision to lose weight and this time you want your achievement to be permanent. Traditional weight loss wisdom indicates that you need to cut 3500 calories through calorie restriction or exercise to burn a pound of fat. While the physics of this conversion are correct, the body is an adaptive metabolic machine that has evolved sophisticated means to utilize energy to ensure our survival in times of famine. Researchers have discovered that an occasional increase or decrease in calories has little effect on day to day body weight and doesn’t hamper our weight loss efforts.

An Occasional High Calorie Splurge is Normal
Many people will indulge occasionally when beginning a new weight loss program. This is natural and emerging evidence confirms that it not a cause for alarm as our body does not calculate calories consumed on a daily basis, but rather averages intake over a longer term. The key to weight loss success is to manage calories over a period of days and weeks, rather than monitoring day by day.
Averaging Calories Eaten Over Time

The result of studies performed at the National Institutes of Health show that eating as much as 600 additional calories each day had little effect on body weight over the long term, as long as the average calories remained even during any given period. This is good news for people who get an irresistible urge to overeat one day, as long as you compensate with reduced calories on a future day. The study authors were careful to note that this research doesn’t mean you should splurge often, as increasing average food intake over time leads to weight gain.

You Still Need a Calorie Goal
While the results of this research may be encouraging for those trying to lose weight that occasionally have difficulty maintaining a strict daily calorie goal, the bottom line is you still need to monitor total calories consumed over a longer period of time. Women should target 1200 to 1500 calories average per day, while men need 1500 to 1800 calories, depending on physical activity. 
If you exceed your goal one day, you should make a conscious effort to limit calories another day during the next week. The best way to keep track is to maintain a food journal or you’ll quickly lose track of the over and under calorie days and your weight will slowly creep up. The NIH study was clear that overconsumption should be an occasional occurrence, probably limited to one day a week.
Food Balance is Still Important

A common mistake made by many people attempting to lose weight is to believe that all calories have a similar effect on how our body processes calories for energy. A diet high in refined carbohydrates, sugar, and hydrogenated fats tips our metabolism toward fat storage as it increases blood sugar levels, triglycerides and leads to insulin resistance. Even when consumed as part of a reduced calorie diet, this evil trio commonly found in most junk food will encourage fat storage. Weight loss is best achieved with a diet consisting of plenty of fresh vegetables, lean protein and healthy unheated fats.

Over the long run, it still takes a net loss of 3500 calories to burn a pound of excess weight. Our body doesn’t monitor calories as we eat, but rather views a much longer timeframe to determine whether fat should be stored or burned for energy. It’s still important to monitor calorie consumption and eat a well balanced menu void of processed foods. Our body relies on a complex metabolic mechanism to ensure our survival and we can use this to our advantage to achieve our permanent weight loss goal.
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Lifestyle Changes That Deliver Weight Loss Results

October 14, 2010

(Article first published as Lifestyle Changes Can Aid in Weight Loss on Technorati.)

There are a number of lifestyle modifications that can help people lose weight to improve health and live a longer and healthier life. Permanent weight loss involves much more than simply reducing calories and exercising more. While these are necessary elements in the weight loss battle, there are many other compounding factors which must be addressed before starting a weight reduction program. Stress, mindset and support play an important role in determining the success of your best weight loss efforts.

Lifestyle Changes Shown Effective for Obesity

Obesity continues to be one of the most pressing health issues which threaten the longevity of millions of people, and the numbers continue to grow unabated each year. While many overweight and obese people understand they are carrying too much weight, the majority doesn’t realize the extent of their weight problem and can benefit from a structured program which centers on lifestyle changes.

he Obesity Society and published in The Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that obese individuals who were provided prepackaged meal replacements and placed on a 5 day per week exercise schedule were able to achieve successful and permanent weight reduction. The participants were monitored with regular telephone calls, support and encouragement, and after 12 months lost a total of 27 pounds. This study highlights the importance of structure and positive mindset in addition to calorie reduction and physical activity when beginning a weight loss program.
The Beginning: Making a Weight Loss Plan
While not everyone who needs to lose weight will be able to participate in a structured study to accomplish their goal, it is possible to develop a plan which will help you achieve the same results. The most important first step is to make sure you have a positive mindset. Don’t begin a weight loss journey if you aren’t fully committed to the idea. Permanent weight loss is one of the most difficult tasks many people will ever undertake and the only way you’ll succeed is to be mentally prepared.
Next Step: Planning for Results

Next you will need to develop a charting system which you faithfully maintain each day. It’s important to keep track of every food and drink item you eat as well as daily exercise, and include a section for your emotional state or other comments which help or hinder your progress. The best strategy is to plan and complete your food diary for each day a week ahead of time. Enter each food and drink item along with the amount eaten into your log at the beginning of the week and shop accordingly. You have now removed the thought and emotional aspects of eating. This is part of the reason commercial diet plans such as Jenny Craig are so successful.

Diet Basics: Eating to Boost Fat Loss
The type of foods you eat are just as important as the number of calories in your diet. Foods that are highly processed break down into glucose quickly and encourage the buildup of fat around the abdomen. Additionally, refined carbohydrates offer your body very little in the way of nutrition which means you remain hungry and more apt to eat as you are subconsciously driven to find essential vitamins and minerals required by your body. To lose weight, eliminate all wheat, bread, pasta and sugary treats and drinks. Substitute with fresh vegetables, nutritious nuts, seeds, lean protein sources, healthy monounsaturated fats and drink green tea.
For many individuals, weight loss is a significant challenge. Less than 1 in 20 people are able to achieve and maintain their goal because they don’t properly plan and prepare to lose excess fat. Once you have developed the correct mindset and charted your daily meal plan, natural weight loss will be within your reach.
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Reverse Aging with Diet and Lifestyle Changes

October 11, 2010

(Article first published as Reverse the Effects of Aging with Natural Diet and Lifestyle on Technorati.)

Medical researchers have made great strides over the past decade toward understanding the intricate process we know as aging. In an article published in U.S. News and World Report, nutritionist Dr. Jonny Bowden identifies the four main causes of aging in the human body as free radicals, inflammation, glycation and stress.

While DNA and genetics play a minor role, poor diet and lifestyle directly contribute to the leading causes of mortality, coronary artery disease, cancer, stroke, and dementia. Fortunately we can steer our destiny toward optimal health even after years of dietary and lifestyle abuse by addressing each identified aging factor.
Neutralizing the Effects of Free Radicals

Free radicals are unstable electrons produced during the normal course of metabolism, causing damage to the delicate cell nucleus and mitochondria. Free radicals can wreak havoc with DNA, altering its structure and causing mutations during cell replication. While free radicals are unavoidable, there are a number of changes you can make to offset the dangerous effects.

Consuming a natural food diet packed with organically grown fresh vegetables, leafy greens, nuts and seeds is the best way to combat free radicals. These foods are loaded with antioxidants which act to neutralize the free radicals before they penetrate our cells. Choose from a wide variety of brightly colored vegetables to benefit from an assortment of antioxidants.
Damping Systemic Inflammation

Heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease are all linked with inflammation, a condition where the body’s immune system begins to target healthy cells and tissue for attack. In an effort to stabilize inflammation, the body releases hormones such as cortisol and raises the core temperature in an effort to combat this invisible invader.

Following a Mediterranean-style diet of whole grains, olive oil, fatty fish, vegetables, and minimally cooked meats has been shown to dramatically lower the effects of inflammation. It’s important to limit refined carbohydrates and sugar with this diet, as these cause dramatic spikes in blood sugar and lead to insulin resistance that are known to promote inflammation.
Prevent Damaging Glycation
Sugar mixes with proteins in our body to create non-functional structures call advanced glycation end products (AGE’s) which accelerate the aging process. AGE’s enter our body either pre-formed from over cooked, browned foods or as a result of chemical reactions in the blood. Regardless of how they form, AGE’s result in cellular damage and cause disease.
You can fight the effects of glycation with a two-step approach. Steam vegetables instead of stir frying and avoid grilling or blackening foods. Limit or eliminate sugar in your diet to prevent the cross-links which bind proteins and fats, making useless molecular garbage which inhibits normal cellular function.
Lower Your Stress Level
Continual stress forces the release of stress hormones in the body which help us cope under pressure. Stress which remains unresolved leads to excess cortisol circulating throughout the body, and is linked with shrinking of the hippocampus and accumulation of belly fat. Combat stress by identifying and removing the root cause, and try practicing meditation or yoga which are known to reduce stress. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night to further lower stress hormone production.
Alternative health practitioners have come to understand that aging is a disease that is accelerated by poor diet and lifestyle. Each of the identified factors which promote poor health and disease are preventable by following a natural diet of fresh vegetables, healthy uncooked fats, nuts, seeds and protein sources. The body has an amazing capacity to reverse the aging process caused by decades of dietary abuse by following the path to life extending, natural health.
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Choosing the Best Diet for Health and Weight Loss Goals

October 5, 2010

(Article first published as Low Carb vs. Low Fat Diet: Your Best Choice for Health and Weight Loss Goals on Technorati.)

The choice between a low fat and low carb diet has been a battle of epic proportions among health conscious individuals for decades. The medical profession has been advocating low fat for cardiovascular health in the belief that fat is bad and excessive carbs promote health. Low carb has been popular since the late Dr. Robert Atkins made a diet of bacon, cheese and meat popular in the 1970’s. Which dietary lifestyle reduces your risk for disease and assists with weight management goals?

Low Carb vs. Low Fat Diet for Weight Loss?
When weight loss is your only goal, do you choose a low fat or low carbohydrate diet? A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concludes that it really makes no difference. The study followed 300 obese participants split between the two dietary patterns and found that both groups lost about 7% of their body weight or roughly 15 pounds over the course of two years. The primary source of calories didn’t count with regard to the final weight loss result. The important element is to determine which diet is better for your health.
Low Fat Diet Promotes Heart Disease

The low fat diet which is regularly touted by medical professionals and pharmaceutical manufacturers is dangerous to your health and is the driving force behind the rampant rise in heart disease. By substituting high carbohydrate foods which are low fat or no fat, dieters set the stage for wild swings in blood sugar and metabolic dysfunction. This ultimately leads to diabetes and heart disease as insulin becomes resistant to continually high blood sugar and the inner lining of the arteries are damaged by high blood pressure, oxidized LDL cholesterol and hormonal imbalance.

Choosing the Right Low Carb Diet for Health: Atkins?
There are primarily two different types of low carbohydrate diet. The first is the Atkins menu plan which initially limits fruits, vegetables and most carbohydrates in favor of a diet full of meat, cheese and processed foods which have been manufactured to reduce sugar and available carbs.
By limiting carbs this diet promotes rapid weight loss initially, but many people report difficulty remaining on the diet and find that weight loss stalls after losing 20 to 25 pounds. Additionally, many people include processed meats with the Atkins program which are known to increase cancer risk due the high level of preservative nitrites.
Best Diet for Weight Loss and Health: Naturally Fresh Vegetables and Greens

The second type of low carb diet centers on fresh vegetables and leafy greens, nuts, seeds, lean meats and monounsaturated fats. Research confirms that eating a low carb diet that eliminates all sugar and processed carbs is not only best for weight loss, but also promotes overall health. A low carb lifestyle prevents excess sugar from remaining in the blood after each meal and reduces levels of dangerous triglycerides that convert to fat reserves.

The low fat vs. low carb debate will likely continue as people try to make the right choice for their health and weight loss goals. Both have been shown effective in promoting weight loss, but evidence abounds that the low fat approach is dangerous to health and should be avoided. Low carb alternatives are the best strategy but the Atkins approach may not promote health, depending on how it is followed. A diet filled with fresh vegetables in their natural form is best for optimal health and weight loss success.
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Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention with Natural Lifestyle

September 29, 2010

No other disease stirs more fear than Alzheimer’s disease. This mind robbing affliction is presently the sixth leading cause of death in the US and rising at an alarming rate. Estimates are that by the year 2030 nearly 1 in 4 adults will be affected by this cruel form of dementia. At present there are no drugs or procedures which can treat or even effectively slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s possible to significantly lower your risk of developing this insidious disease by understanding the underlying causes and following a natural lifestyle with targeted nutritional supplementation.

Extreme Lifestyle Changes Trigger Dementia

Modern medicine has no explanation for the explosion of Alzheimer’s cases over the past half century. Before 1950, cases of senile dementia as it was called were virtually unknown. Something significantly changed since that time to alter the course of this disease, and many researchers point to diet, chemical and environmental toxic exposure and a sedentary lifestyle.

We weigh considerably more than we did just 20 years ago, our diet is pumped with artificial food substitutes, sugar and hydrogenated fats and we’re exposed to a never ending assault of chemical toxins in our air, household chemicals and cosmetics.
The Cause of Alzheimer’s Disease
Our body has an amazing capacity to adapt to the changing world around us, but we’ve challenged our ability to cope with toxic overload. The brain remains well protected from the outside world, but eventually our poor lifestyle penetrates the blood-brain barrier as our metabolism breaks down and blood sugar and insulin swing out of control.
Messenger chemicals used by our body to protect us become our enemy, causing proteins to clump together in the brain and inhibiting normal electrical signaling. Memory capacity is slowly reduced and the stage is set for Alzheimer’s’ disease.
Alzheimer’s Treatment Through Prevention and Targeted Supplementation

The only way to combat Alzheimer’s disease is to adopt a natural lifestyle which is free of foods which promote metabolic dysfunction and chemicals which slowly accumulate in the body until they initiate disease. Food manufacturers remove most of the nutrients in the processed foods we eat, leading to a critical shortage of vitamins and minerals that are required to perform the billions of cellular functions needed for life.

Information reported in Reuters from an Oxford University study provides amazing results which confirm the power of natural nutrients to our health. The study found that B vitamins were able to prevent brain shrinking by up to 50%, allowing participants to retain cognitive function compared to a second group receiving a placebo. B vitamins are known to be essential to proper brain function with folic acid, niacinamide and vitamins B6 and B12 proving critical to memory retention and brain volume.
Diet and Nutrition for Brain Health
Our brain is a complicated network of neurons which must fire in perfect order to allow us to learn, form memories and function optimally. It is particularly sensitive to blood sugar swings and insulin which has become resistant, both controllable by eliminating sugar and refined carbohydrates from the diet. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds and organic meats which are supplied in their natural form, free of manmade contaminants and toxins known to deteriorate brain health.
Supplement with a high dose B vitamin complex specifically developed to support brain function, and don’t rely on inexpensive multi vitamins which provide little or no bio-available nutrients. Additional support is provided by the Omega-3 fat DHA, resveratrol, curcumin and grape seed extract. Lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by adopting a natural lifestyle and include targeted nutritional supplementation.