The Fat Wars: What's A Health-Conscious Consumer To Do?

Posted by Jennie Ann Freiman MD on

The recent release of the American Heart Association (AHA) advisory on dietary fats and cardiovascular disease is a call to action, but exactly what that action should be is debatable. The AHA recommends replacing dietary saturated fat with unsaturated fat, especially polyunsaturated fat (in an overall healthful dietary plan) as a strategy to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. The panel offers a one-size-fits-all recommendation, specifically the goal of lowering LDL, AKA “bad” cholesterol, as the primary, actionable risk-reducing measure. Their controversial comment that got health partisans in an uproar was: “we advise against the use of coconut oil.” Reactions ran the gamut from support to outrage, and as expected, resulted in sensational clickbait:

“Coconut oil isn’t healthy. It’s never been healthy.” Ashley May / USA Today

The internet is rife with opinion, so what’s a health-conscious consumer to do? The AHA based their recommendations on a review of population studies and randomized trials but those do not speak to any one individual’s personal risk. Regardless of your dietary bias, laboratory testing is an objective way to get a handle on cardiovascular risk and the potential need for dietary intervention.

Traditional cholesterol testing is not the most accurate way to assess cardiovascular risk. A quick screen that only checks total cholesterol can be very misleading. Total cholesterol measures the aggregate of HDL (“good” cholesterol) and LDL (“bad” cholesterol) in your bloodstream, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. For example, a high cholesterol superficially suggests an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease, but in fact, the risk is low if a very high amount of HDL (“good” cholesterol) is responsible for upping the total number. On the other hand, a normal total cholesterol may be falsely reassuring, if LDL makes up most of the value. Including a more complete “lipid profile” in annual medical testing is the minimum required for actionable information, but even that isn’t enough.

The generally accepted recommendations for cholesterol values come from the  National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Triglycerides, one of the very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease fully independent of cholesterol levels. Excess calories are converted to triglycerides and stored in fat cells. VLDL are precursors in the production of LDL cholesterol. Risk assessment based on cholesterol and triglycerides is far more accurate than basing it on either of those values alone. It should be noted that cardiovascular disease also rises when total cholesterol is too low; there is a sweet spot.

basic lipid profile to assess cardiovascular risk oobroo.com

To dig deeper and uncover even more valuable cardiovascular risk information, it’s necessary to fractionate LDL and HDL into their respective subtypes. Both particle number and size influence risk. Large, fluffy, buoyant LDL particles are cardio-protective. The bad guys, the ones that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease as much as threefold, are the small, dense, sticky LDL particles which promote inflammation, and increase blood clotting and plaque formation. As many as one third of those with low LDL levels, which seem superficially favorable, actually have increased risk because of elevated levels of hazardous, small LDL particles. Interestingly, low-carbohydrate diets selectively lower small particle LDL more than overall LDL, thus lowering cardiovascular risk. The NMR LipoProfile test evaluates lipoprotein particle size and number along with markers of insulin resistance to derive a more comprehensive view of cardiovascular risk.

NMR lipoprofile advanced lipid testing oobroo.com

The VAP (Vertical Auto Profile) test goes even further in assessing cardiovascular risk by breaking down LDL into four measurable risk sub-factors: total LDL cholesterol, real LDL cholesterol, lipoprotein-a and intermediate density lipoproteins. The results generate very different dietary and supplement/pharmaceutical interventions that can be tailored into a treatment program targeting each individual’s specific results. Generic recommendations including low carb intake or a low fat diet, omega-3 supplements, niacin, statins and exercise do not optimize individual risk reduction.

VAP lipid test cardiovascular risk oobroo.com

The AHA recommendations for dietary actions to reduce cardiovascular risk are flawed:

  • The AHA advises against the dietary use of coconut oil while simultaneously admitting, “clinical trials that compare direct effects on CVD (cardiovascular disease) of coconut oil and other dietary oils have not been reported.”
  • All of the studies supporting the AHA conclusions were performed in North America and Europe, on populations whose diet is not based on coconut oil.
  • Avoiding a more nuanced look at cardiovascular risk factors is simplistic and reductive, in no way reflecting the best interest of consumers serious about improving health.
  • The 2015-2020 US Dietary Guidelines no longer recommend lowering cholesterol and place no limit on dietary fat or cholesterol intake.

When deciding whether or not to include coconut oil, which is about 90% saturated fat, as part of a heart healthy diet, consider these facts:

  • Coconut oil raises total and HDL cholesterol.
  • Coconut oil lowers triglycerides and central, abdominal fat, both independent risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
  • Coconut oil reduces insulin resistance, another independent cardiovascular risk factor.
  • Countries with highest dietary intake of coconut oil are among those with lowest incidence of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular risk rises when refined vegetable oils, specifically those recommended by the AHA, are introduced to these populations.

For those choosing to incorporate coconut oil in an overall health plan, stick to organic, unrefined, virgin coconut oil.

Health can’t possibly be promoted by any one-size-fits-all recommendation because those don’t take into account the infinite variety in our diet and lifestyle. To find out what’s right for you, a good start is to assess cardiovascular risk based on laboratory results but don’t forget these values are only one part of an overall lifestyle that should include exercise, sleep hygiene and stress management to reduce cardiovascular risk. Before dismissing coconut oil as risky, remember current AHA recommendations come from the same group who previously endorsed the now-disavowed low-fat-high-carb diet approach and didn’t recognize the risks of trans fats in a timely manner. The rate of cardiovascular disease in Western populations has skyrocketed over the last fifty years or so, in tandem with what they and other governmental and health professional organizations told us to do.

Disclaimer: This article was created for informational purposes only, is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Oobroo™ Inc or its staff.

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"Barbaric Relic" Is Modern Cure

Posted by Jennie Ann Freiman MD on

Blood-letting, the practice of removing blood to prevent or cure illness, was standard-of-care for thousands of years until it was marginalized as “pseudo-science” in the late 19th century. It’s not the barbaric relic it sounds like: a body of modern science supports adding this practice to the wellness toolbox.

bloodletting blood donation phlebotomy wellness prevent disease oobroo

Like so many other health measures, iron levels are subject to the Goldilocks effect, in which too little or too much is harmful, and the just-right amount is the sweet spot for health. Blood-letting is used to treat hemochromatosis, a genetic iron overload disorder, but it’s also a great solution for the too common, non-genetic iron overload that results from our modern lifestyle. Donating blood is a simple way to lower the risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart and other chronic diseases, and of course, build good-karma points.

“Only the dose keeps any substance from being a poison.” -Paracelsus

Iron is an essential mineral, a nutrient required for life-sustaining functions that must be sourced through diet because it can’t be produced by the human body. Healthy adults absorb 1 - 2 mg of iron daily through the small intestine. On average, total body iron is 4 grams for males and post-menopausal females, and 3.5 grams for pre-menopausal females, the result of a tightly controlled balance between intake through the gut and loss through sweat, exfoliated skin cells and stool. The human body has no natural process for removing excess iron, so if the amount absorbed exceeds what’s needed, the surplus is stored, causing “iron overload.”

It’s common knowledge that low iron levels trigger anemia and downstream effects, from the typical tired-weak-pale triad to the more extreme: rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pain, headache, lightheadedness and dizziness. On the other end of the spectrum, iron overload is a less well known, toxic source of organ damage that can lead to a number of chronic disorders. While  heredity iron overload affects between 1 in 200 to 1 in 400 people, the incidence of the lifestyle-related form was found to be 1 in 10 in 2007, and is likely even higher now, affecting all ethnic groups. Absent proving otherwise, consider yourself at risk.

Non-heredity risk factors for iron overload:

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Dietary iron intake (animal protein)
  • Iron supplements
  • Vitamin C supplements
  • Cooking in iron pots/pans (especially slow cooking and acidic food)
  • Occupational iron exposure (foundry, welding, mining)
  • Metabolic syndrome / insulin resistance
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Chronic hepatitis B and/or C infections
  • Chronic hemolytic anemias
  • Therapeutic blood transfusions

The most common presentation of iron overload is no presentation at all: most of those affected are symptom-free and learn of the disorder through blood tests. However, blood tests for iron overload are not part of the standard screening ordered with annual checkups and routine doctor visits, which contributes to delayed diagnosis. When they exist, early symptoms are general and can be confused with many other disorders.

Early Signs Of Iron Overload:

  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Memory Loss
  • Vertigo
  • Hair Loss
  • Palpitations / abnormal heart rhythm
  • Abdominal pain
  • Joint pain/arthritis, especially hands (knuckles of 2nd/3rd fingers)
  • Impotence / decreased libido / infertility / irregular menses
  • Hyperpigmentation of the skin (“bronzing”)
  • Spoon nails (nails become flat or concave)

Iron overload leads to deposition of iron in organs, causing damage mainly through oxidative stress and the production of toxic free radicals which attack cellular DNA, lipids and proteins. Iron can accumulate in any bodily tissue, but excess stores are mainly found in the liver, heart, pancreas, brain, thyroid, sex organs and joints. Detectable symptoms usually require significant iron accumulation, tending to express after age 40 in men and post menopause in women. Overall, men present at a younger age because they lose, on average, 1 mg of iron daily, whereas women during childbearing years shed approximately 500 mg of iron per pregnancy and 40 mg per natural menstrual period. Monthly blood loss from birth control pills is generally less than the natural amount.

Serious Disorders Associated Iron Overload:

  • Liver cirrhosis / fibrosis
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes / insulin resistance / metabolic syndrome
  • Alzheimer’s disease / dementia
  • Heart failure/cardiomyopathy
  • Progressive polyarthritis (wrists, spine, knees, hips)
  • Cancer of the liver, pancreas
  • Testicular failure / shrinkage
  • Amenorrhea (no menses)
  • Osteoporosis / osteopenia
  • Sepsis / bacterial and viral infections
  • Accelerated aging / premature death

Regular blood donation, also known as “iron reduction therapy,” is a fast, efficient way to optimize iron levels and is especially important for  for men and post-menopausal women. Eligibility rules are simple, requiring adult blood donors to be healthy and minimally weigh 110 pounds; more specific details, including medication exclusions, are available from the American Red Cross. Each donation of one pint (about 500 ml) of whole blood represents 8 to 10 percent of the total amount of blood in the body and can be repeated as often as every two months. A doctor’s prescription for “therapeutic phlebotomy” allows blood donation for those who are ineligible due to age, weight, use of excluded drugs or other reasons. Federal law mandates blood donation centers remove blood if prescribed as therapy, in which case it’s discarded rather than donated. There are many short and long term benefits to blood donation.

Short term benefits of blood donation:

  • Burns 650 calories per unit donated

A routinely performed panel of blood tests is free and you can request results:

  • Blood type, Rh and antibody screen
  • Liver enzymes
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV types 1 and 2
  • Syphilis
  • Human T-lymphotrophic virus types 1 and 2
  • West Nile virus
  • Chagas disease

Some donations are also tested for:

  • CMV (cytomegalovirus) if blood will treat immunocompromised recipients
  • Malaria
Long Term Benefits Of Blood Donation:
  • Lower cancer risk and mortality (lung, colorectal, prostate, lymphoma, liver, others)
  • Reduces heart disease (88% reduced risk of acute MI)
  • Improve metabolic syndrome (markers of cardiovascular risk and glycemic control)
  • Lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders
  • Improve longevity and healthspan

The best test to determine iron overload is through a blood test called “serum ferritin.” Ferritin is a protein that carries iron inside cells, making it an excellent proxy for measuring stored iron where it causes the actual damage. Laboratories recognize the normal ferritin range as 20 - 80 ng/ml, but it’s optimal at 40 - 60 ng/ml. For point of reference, pre-menopausal woman and highly conditioned athletes typically have ferritin levels around 25 ng/ml. If too low, iron replacement should bring the levels up. Iron overload is directly related to how high the ferritin level is, generally starting at 100. Almost everyone with long term levels over 300 will sustain serious organ damage. For most, each pint of blood removed drops ferritin by 30 - 50 ng/ml and removes about 250 ml of iron. Twice-weekly, aggressive bloodletting is recommended for for those with ferritin levels over 1000 ng/ml until its brought below 1000, at which point the donation schedule can be readjusted.

These steps also lower iron overload:
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Reduce animal protein / iron fortified food (breads, cereals, pasta) consumption
  • Mediterranean, vegetarian or vegan diet
  • Increase fiber intake
  • Consume turmeric / green or black tea / coffee / milk thistle
  • Reduce or eliminate iron and vitamin C** supplements
  • Cook/bake with stainless steel / ceramic / glass
  • Reverse osmosis filtration system if water high in iron
  • Eliminate tobacco products / nicotine gum
  • Daily aspirin
  • Physical exercise

**Note: Megadosing vitamin C through supplements creates a risk that is not generally seen with normal dietary intake.

Regular blood donation is a no-brainer for improving health, wellness and longevity. That it helps qualify you for superhero status, is an extra, added bonus.

Disclaimer: This article was created for informational purposes only, is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Oobroo™ Inc or its staff.


 

 

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Aging Is Officially A Disease

Posted by Jennie Ann Freiman MD on

The search for eternal life isn’t new, but how far we’ve come from the Holy Grail, the Fountain of Youth and the hidden valley of Shangri-La, is truly a sign of the times. Today, the crossroads meet between the natural tendency to find an easy way out, and the seductive promise of profits. The quest is on for how to put longevity in a pill.

CLASSIFYING AGE AS A DISEASE MEANS INSURANCE COMPANIES WILL COVER TREATMENT. THE FDA JUST PAVED THE WAY.

Two years ago, investigators convinced the FDA to green light a human lifespan study of Metformin, a drug currently used as first-line treatment for blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes, and off-label for polycystic ovary syndrome, weight control and cancer prevention. If successful, Metformin will be the first drug to be FDA-approved for the indication of aging, but it won’t be the last. With a potential audience of 7½ billion people worldwide, pharmaceutical companies will race to fund clinical trials for discovery of new, more expensive drugs.

High levels of blood sugar and insulin are important factors in degenerative disorders, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and aging. Metformin lowers blood sugar, which in turn, lowers insulin levels and insulin resistance. The drug intrigues researchers because its protective effect on aging goes beyond the power to control sugar and insulin.

EVERYTHING METFORMIN CAN AND MIGHT DO FOR HEALTHY AGING CAN BE ACHIEVED WITH LIFESTYLE CHOICES.

The TAME Study (Targeting Aging With Metformin) began in 2016, aiming to enroll 3,000 seniors, ages 70 - 80, and study them for 5 - 7 years. Study subjects can have or be at risk for any or all of 3 common aging conditions: cancer, heart disease, and dementia. The question is whether Metformin can delay or prevent cancer, heart disease, cognitive impairment, diabetes and death in non-diabetics. If it does, the obvious next step is to test it for use in much younger people.

Clues about Metformin's role in anti-aging come from studies of fruit flies, roundworms and mice. Most of the credit goes to an enzyme few people have heard of, AMPK (adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase). AMPK regulates how cells process energy, which, when working well, helps prevent all of the chronic diseases associated with aging, and aging itself. The goal is to activate AMPK to gain its benefits and live a healthier, longer life.

AMPK Benefits For Healthspan And Lifespan:
  • Increases metabolism
  • Burns fat and sugar / Weight loss                
  • Improves body composition
  • Increases blood flow
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Cell detoxification and renewal

IS METFORMIN THE ANTI-AGING MIRACLE DRUG RESEARCHERS HOPE FOR, OR WILL IT GO THE WAY OF OTHER FDA "MIRACLES" BEFORE IT? FEN-PHEN, VIOXX, MERIDIA, BAYCOL AND DES ARE JUST A FEW THAT COME TO MIND.

There is good reason for skepticism:

    ~Aging is a chronic, inflammatory process that leads to a loss of structure and function, impairing both healthspan and lifespan. Aging is best addressed with health and longevity promoting strategies, not disease prevention.


    ~Aging is multifactorial. Elements that benefit or harm longevity work together in synergy. The magic bullet approach, focusing on one aspect of disease, works for simple problems like treating a strep throat with penicillin, but disappoints for complex chronic disorders and aging. It has failed over and over, but investigators refuse to let it go.


    ~Every drug has side effects and risks that must be weighed against its benefits. Metformin carries a black box warning for the rare, but real, risk of developing lactic acidosis, a potentially fatal build up of lactate in the blood, especially for anyone with reduced kidney function. More common side effects are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache and drowsiness. Let's don't forget the "inactive ingredients" that act as toxic counterweights to any drug benefits. Metformin's inactives include titanium dioxide, polyethylene glycols and synthetic black iron oxides, among others.


    ~Metformin may promote Alzheimer's Disease. Type 2 diabetes is a risk factor for Alzheimer's, so researchers assume drugs that treat diabetes will prevent dementia. Unfortunately, studies link long term Metformin use to a greater risk of developing AD and worsening its progression. One study proposed this occurs because the drug increases production of beta-amyloid, a protein universally recognized as a hallmark of Alzheimer's.


    ~Metformin may accelerate existing cancer and cancer-related mortality by promoting AMPK-induced cellular uptake of glucose, which effectively feeds the tumors cells. Aspirin, a more widely used drug than Metformin, also activates AMPK and may be a safer choice if going the drug route.

    Generally, when something sounds too good to be true, it is. Activating AMPK promotes longevity, but isolating one strategy from the context in which it normally occurs is like a game of Jenga: disrupt the delicate balance and the whole thing falls apart.

    There is a better way.

    NATURAL ANTI-AGING APPROACHES EXIST AND HAVE BEEN SCIENTIFICALLY VALIDATED. THEY TAKE COMMITMENT AND THEY'RE NOT EASY, BUT THEY AVOID THE INEVITABLE DOWNSIDE OF CHRONIC DRUG USE. THEY ACTIVATE AMPK AND ITS INTERRELATED SYSTEMS.

    Calorie restriction is the most successful method of slowing and reversing markers of aging. The idea is to lower calorie intake a moderate amount to induce a healthy level of stress that strengthens cells and organs, but not so much as to cause malnutrition. The ongoing CALERIE study is monitoring healthy individuals committed to a 25% reduction in caloric intake. So far, results are promising.

    Intermittent fasting (also known as "time-restricted feeding") is an alternative to calorie restriction. Confining eating to an 8 to 12 hour daily window reduces inflammation and free radical damage, and has been shown to fight dementia, cancer and promote longevity.

    Exercise uses up energy, which activates AMPK. High intensity, short interval exertion is especially effective. Muscle contraction during both aerobics and weight training stimulates AMPK and increases insulin sensitivity.

    Cold water immersion after exercise enhances AMPK and cellular renewal. Going from the sauna into the plunge pool, or taking an ice cold shower after a workout are easy ways to practice cold shock.

    Healthy eating habits activate AMPK. Go for a well rounded diet of unprocessed, organic, highly colorful foods including:

    • turmeric
    • legumes
    • green tea
    • red wine
    • blueberries
    • EVOO

    Get good sleep. Impaired quality and/or quantity of sleep is incompatible with long term health. For example, obstructive sleep apnea is related to a 20% reduction in life expectancy, weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, earlier than average age of onset of memory disorders and cognitive impairment. Melatonin, the sleep hormone, activates AMPK and cellular rejuvenation, protecting against cardiovascular and other sleep deprivation related disorders.

    Acupuncture is effective in treating obesity and improving cognitive function. It upregulates AMPK in the hippocampus, the brain center for short term memory and ground zero for the development of Alzheimer's Disease.

    These and other natural anti-aging strategies are consistently practiced in Blue Zones, unrelated regions around the globe where the most long-lived people are found. Drugs and "longevity genes" are not the reason this Guinness World Record-worthy group boasts a large number of centenarians. Their way of life is the secret sauce for extending healthspan and lifespan.

    Whatever your age, it's never too late for a healthy system reboot. Start now by adopting a lifestyle game plan that promotes healthy longevity.

    Next stop, Methuselah.

    Disclaimer: This article was created for informational purposes only, is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Oobroo™ Inc or its staff.

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      Don't Fear The Reaper: Lessons From The Epigenetic Clock

      Posted by Jennie Ann Freiman MD on

      Epigenetics is the study of how lifestyle, environment and other factors can flip the switch on genes, allowing them either to express or be silenced. To model this effect and quantify healthy aging, researchers use the epigenetic clock, which predicts chronologic age by measuring DNA-based markers of biologic age. When epigenetic markers predict a chronologic age that’s higher than true age, the DNA is said to be "age accelerated." Age acceleration increases the risk of chronic diseases and shortens lifespan. The epigenetic age of centenarians, as a group, is lower than their chronologic age by almost nine years, making them superstars of successful aging.

      The Horvath Clock is a highly accurate tool for measuring how well epigenetics is working. It predicts life expectancy and has been applied to multiple tissues and organs to develop strategies to optimize healthy aging. It links age acceleration to the development of cancer, immune disorders, obesity and Alzheimer’s Disease. Stress, by producing steroid hormones, is an epigenetic factor that makes the clock tick faster.

      Epigenetics debunks the genes-are-destiny dogma and can be used to shape a healthy aging action plan. For example, menopause, which is known to accelerate epigenetic aging, is commonly characterized by weight gain, sleep disturbance and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. The action plan for menopause should include regular physical activity, proper nutrition, and 6 - 8 hours of daily sleep, all of which are modifiable epigenetic factors. The trick is to harness the benefits of robust behaviors, lifestyle and environmental inputs that drive epigenetics to lower biologic age, protect health and promote wellness.

      Some people look great for their age, others are mistaken for someone much older. Some people “feel” their age, others don’t. Why not act to beat the clock?

      Disclaimer: This article was created for informational purposes only, is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Oobroo™ Inc or its staff.

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      3 Common Aging Myths

      Posted by Jennie Ann Freiman MD on

      Guest Blog by Steven Carney

      Almost daily, we hear media outlets repeat myths about aging, health and disease. And often, these aging myths are based on old studies, assumptions and unproven beliefs. Sadly, many adults have adopted these myths as well.

       

      These media stories simply assume that age itself automatically brings a decline in health and vitality (as opposed to daily lifestyle and health practices). It’s believed that aging is a cause health problems and disease. As you will soon see, these are largely false beliefs. Here are 3 common myths about aging, health and chronic disease:

      1. It’s normal to gain weight with age

      This is an important myth to address first because it’s so pervasive. Many people assume that adding a few pounds a year after age 35 or 40 is inevitable. It’s not! Consistent weight gain reflects an unhealthy, unbalanced lifestyle, including key areas like nutrition, a lack of activity, chronic stress, poor sleep, etc. Gaining pounds reflects a lifestyle that is not aligned with an individual’s physical and emotional needs.

      What’s more, excess weight can increase the risk for a whole range of health conditions and chronic diseases. That extra weight, especially at the waistline and abdominal area (visceral fat), is metabolically active. Those fat cells want more food, and they also pump out inflammatory chemicals (cytokines). They also increase insulin resistance (insulin is less effective at moving glucose to cells, keeping blood sugar high), and alter a range of critical hormonal balances, from insulin to estrogen.

      For women, these problems increase the risk for a host of diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer (especially breast cancer). The risks are similar for men, with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and hormonal changes that are less masculine.

      Although age can bring a gradual decrease in various hormones starting in the 30s, it’s mostly because people don’t keep their hormones at a more youthful level. Without adjusting an individual’s lifestyle with age, those hormonal imbalances can increase over many years. Unfortunately, too many adults don’t make the right adjustments to their diets, activity and other lifestyle habits until they are overweight and develop bad screening tests or symptoms.

      Put simply, unhealthy lifestyle choices are the primary driver for weight gain and other chronic health problems. And the biggest offenders are processed junk/fast foods that are so pervasive now. Many have added sugar, refined-carbs and cheap, highly processed veggie oils (omega-6 veggie oils, which increase inflammation), and a list of additives and preservatives.

      Sugar and refined carbs (bread, rolls, pasta, donuts, cookies, cake, candy, etc.) will digest quickly because they lack fiber and micro-nutrients like vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. Sugar and refined carbs will often reach the bloodstream in under an hour, causing blood sugar spikes and triggering the release of insulin to lower those toxic levels of glucose.

      High glucose also raises triglycerides, triggers inflammation, and small, dense LDL particles (think atherosclerosis). They also cause significant swings in energy and mood. For many adults, this becomes a daily pattern of ups and downs: Sugar and refined carbs cause more cravings because they increase neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine which drop with the release of insulin.

       When glucose levels drop, people feel tired and crave another quick fix: more carbs. It’s a vicious cycle of cravings and withdrawal as your energy jumps and crashes! Sugar is toxic in the amounts many people consume daily. Sugar is destructive to stable energy, hormones, brain function, inflammation and long-term health!

      To manage better glucose levels, reach for more whole, healthy foods and snacks, such nuts/seeds, veggies, greens, whole, unprocessed fruits, lean proteins (chicken and fish), healthy fats (olive or coconut oil), and switch to tea, water or coffee instead of sodas of juice. Add a quality, bioavailable, multi-vitamin/mineral and you’ll be doing yourself a big favor (did you know that you need vitamins and minerals to properly digest and metabolize food and boost energy levels?). Add additional supplements as needed. By making better choices, you will start to drop excess weight and boost energy!

      1. It’s normal to be less active with age

      Another myth! As I mentioned above, an unhealthy diet will often add extra pounds, cause serious hormonal imbalances, inflammation and bring down energy levels. Unhealthy nutrition will have you feeling more listless and tired. You’ll be less active, adding another cycle to declining health. Excess weight also brings additional stress on knees, hips and other joints, increasing inflammation and pain.

      And when you are less active, your muscles lose tone and your body gets progressively weaker. Key organs like the heart and lungs become less efficient (can you walk a mile briskly? Can you jog a mile?). Your tissues have gradually less oxygen and nutrients, affecting your entire metabolism and health down to a cellular level! As your muscles lose tone and size, they become more permeated with fat cells. Without enough activity, muscles and joints will lose flexibility. You’ll become weaker and more prone to losing your balance, falling or getting injured. And don’t forget, inactivity also weakens your bones (yes, they know when they are not being challenged)!

      Experts have claimed that with age, you will lose about 1% of your muscle mass each year. But that loss is largely due to people not maintaining their strength and stamina. Aging doesn’t cause muscle loss by itself. That 1% may not sound like much but in 5 years, it’s a 5% loss. Because muscles are a big part of your metabolic engine, a 5% loss will also contribute to weight gain if you continue eating all those refined carbs, junk foods and sugar.

      Research has shown that a healthy diet, plus good activity 4-5 days a week can activate hundreds of genes that keep you healthy. Conversely, an unhealthy diet and inactivity activates numerous disease genes (for heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, etc.)! So improving your lifestyle with a combination of healthier nutrition (more simple, unprocessed foods), and fun activity will have a profound influence on keeping you healthy and disease free!

      I usually recommend starting with diet, making a few changes or substitutions to help stabilize blood sugar by choosing healthy alternatives (an open-faced sandwich will cut half the bread, use lettuce wraps instead of tortillas). These changes tend to drop some excess pounds and boost energy in a week or two. That way, energy returns and it will be easier to start a walking or activity program! I recommend that you build on activities you already like (walking, gardening, yard work, etc.), so it’s pretty easy!

      1. It’s normal to have chronic health problems with age

      Another myth! I mentioned inflammation in the previous sections (excess abdominal fat drives it, as do junk foods high in sugar, refined carbs and cheap, omega-6 veggie oils). It turns out that inflammation is now a contributor to, and a driver of nearly every common health problem and disease people develop over time, including:

      • Heart disease/atherosclerosis
      • Cancer
      • Stroke
      • Alzheimer’s
      • Diabetes
      • Arthritis
      • MS/autoimmune disorders

       All of those chronic problems are related and they’re all tied to unhealthy eating, inactivity, smoking and other unhealthy lifestyle habits. Those bad habits drive weight gain and low-grade, systemic inflammation, along with hormonal imbalances. These are not changes you can always feel, but they are destructive to health. And if you are female, guess what? These unhealthy lifestyle habits will increase the hormonal changes you may be noticing, whereas healthy habits and better nutrition can help minimize the changes that occur around menopause.

      The truth is that most health problems we assume are cause by age are largely driven by unhealthy lifestyle choices. Many health experts agree that about 80% of all chronic disease is caused by lifestyle! That’s why taking drugs for conditions like hypertension, cholesterol, blood sugar and pain never cures the problem (but will cost you money, bring unwanted side-effects and erode your quality of life).

      There is a whole field called epigenetics, which is the study of how genes are activated or silenced by the environment and lifestyle (an average meal can trigger thousands of genes for digestion, absorption, metabolism, organ and cellular repair, etc.). Epigenetics is relatively new and many people don’t know much about it, including many doctors and dietitians. But when you make unhealthy lifestyle choices, you turn off health-promoting genes and you activate disease genes. So understanding epigenetics is important for maximizing healthy aging and preventing disease.

      Remember, you have the power to change your health and take a few steps to initiate those changes! You can start to make better choices today, and begin the journey to improved health. You can choose to live a long, healthy life, largely free of the common aches, pains, and chronic conditions many adults and medical practitioners think are age related when they are not!

       

      About Steven Carney: Due to a serious childhood illness, I’ve had a passion for health and wellness for decades. I’ve researched and written numerous articles about nutrition, fitness, alternative health, prevention and aging for Articlebase, Self Growth and other sites since 2011. My own blog (www.endsicknessnow.com) now has over 130 articles with thousands of source links. I love helping clients improve their lives and health through a mix of coaching, support and encouragement (I’m certified through 4 coaching programs). 

      Disclaimer: This article was created for informational purposes only, is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Oobroo™ Inc or its staff.

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