Self Tracking Is Easy and an Effective Way to Lose Weight

Being overweight or obese is associated with several risks such as developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and even mortality. Despite these well documented risks federal statistics indicate that obesity in America has increased from 35% in 2007-08 to being 40% in 2015-16 and that number is still climbing.

This doesn’t mean that Americans are not making an effort to lose weight as a report by the Boston Medical Center suggests around 45 million embark on diets every year, spending over $33 billion annually on the pursuit of dropping extra weight. The sad reality is that only a small portion of those dieters will reach their goals, as for many the process is too difficult and what they can and can’t eat proves to be too much of a struggle for them to sustain long term.

Weight loss doesn’t have to be unsustainable and an unachievable dream, research is showing that self tracking methods such as an app or diary are the most effective ways to successfully lose weight. Some may feel that self tracking is time consuming, but research from the University of Vermont has found that it can be quick and easy, taking about 15 minutes a day.

As published in the journal Obesity results were examined from 142 self tracking participants. The most successful participants spent on average 14.6 minutes per day online based on their logged in activity in the behavioral weight loss program in which they recorded calories, fat, portion sizes, and preparation methods for all food and beverages consumed; and met weekly for 14 weeks in an online group session with a trained dietician.

The most successful dieters were determined to be those that lost at least 10% of their body weight, who spent 23.2 minutes a day logged in for the first 6 months, then on average 14.6 minutes logged in afterwards. Successfulness was not revolved around how much time was spent logged in, rather it was the number of times they logged in to report what they ate.

“Those who self-monitored three or more times per day, and were consistent day after day, were the most successful, explained lead author Jean Harvey, chair of the Nutrition and Food Sciences Department at the University of Vermont. “It seems to be the act of self-monitoring itself that makes the difference — not the time spent or the details included.”

The key to weight loss success may well be to start a food journal or download a self monitoring app in which to briefly, but no less than 3 times a day report the details of the food and beverages which have been consumed. 

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Source: WorldHealth.net

Study Links Junk Food To Age Marker In Chromosomes

According to a study recently published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, presented at an online medical conference, those who consume a lot of industrially processed junk foods are more likely to exhibit a change in their chromosome that is linked to ageing.

Scientists at the European and International Conference on Obesity reported that those who consumed three or more ultra-processed foods per day were found to have doubled their odds of their DNA and telomere proteins being shorter when compared to those from people who rarely consume such foods.

Shorter telomeres are a proven marker of biological ageing at the cellular level, this study suggests that diet is a factor in driving cells to age faster. It was noted that although the correlation is very strong, the causal relationship between consuming highly processed foods and shrinking telomeres is speculative, additional research is required.

Every human has 23 pairs of chromosomes that house our genetic code. While telomeres don’t carry any genetic information, these are the protective end caps that are vital for preserving the stability and integrity of our chromosomes, and the DNA that all the cells within the body rely on to function. With age, telomeres shorten naturally as each time a cell divides a part of the telomere is lost, and this reduction in length is recognized as a marker of biological age.

Scientists from the University of Navarra Spain wanted to investigate the suspected connection between shrinking telomeres and regular consumption of highly processed junk food. Previous studies pointed to a possible link, but the findings were inconclusive.

Ultra-processed junk foods are industrially manufactured substances that are composed of some mix of oils, fats, sugars, starch, and proteins that contain very little if any whole or natural foods. The items will typically include artificial flavourings, emulsifiers, preservatives, colourings, and other additives to increase shelf life and profit margins. But these same compounds also mean that these types of foods are very nutritionally poor compared to less-processed options.

Previous studies have shown strong correlations between ultra-processed foods and obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, depression, and some types of cancer. Such conditions are often age-related as they are linked to oxidative stress and inflammation which are both known to influence the length of telomeres.

In this study health data for nearly 900 people who were 55 years of age or older were involved in this study who provided DNA samples in 2008 and provided detailed data about the eating habits at that time as well as every two years after. Participants were equally divided into 4 groups depending on their consumption of ultra-processed foods from low to high.

Those in the high intake of ultra-processed foods group were found to be more likely to have a family history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, abnormal blood fats, and snacked more in between meals. This group also consumed more fats, saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, sodium, cholesterols, SSBs, fast food, and processed meats while intaking fewer carbs, protein, fibre, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, and other micronutrients. Those who consumed more ultra-processed foods were observed to be less likely to adhere to a Mediterranean style diet.

As the consumption of ultra-processed foods increased the likelihood of having shortened telomeres increased dramatically with each quartile above the lowest having a risk increase of 29% for the medium-low group, 40% for the medium to high group, and 82% for the high consumption of ultra-processed food group for having shortened telomeres. Consumption of ultra-processed foods was also associated with the risk of depression, hypertension, being overweight, obesity, and all-cause mortality, especially in those with low levels of physical activity.

“In this cross-sectional study of elderly Spanish subjects, we showed a robust strong association between ultra-processed food consumption and telomere length. Further research in larger longitudinal studies with baseline and repeated measures of TL is needed to confirm these observations,” concluded the authors.

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Source: WorldHealth.net.

Why You Should Consider Chia Seeds

Chia seeds may be small, but they are loaded with a wealth of important nutrients that can help to support a healthy and nutritious diet.

These versatile and nutritious tiny seeds are commonly ground, stirred, or sprinkled into smoothies, yogurt, pudding, salads, and oatmeal making them great for those on the go. The gel produced from the ground seeds can even be used as an egg substitute in pancakes and bake goodies.

One of the big pluses to chia seed is that although they are rich in nutrients they are very low in calories. Just two tablespoons contain 18% of the daily recommended value of calcium, 137 calories, 30% of the RDV for manganese and magnesium, as well as 27% of the RDV for phosphorus. They are also rich sources of zinc, potassium, and vitamin B, for all of these reasons, it makes them an extremely efficient source of nutrients.

To go along with the nutrient profile, chia seeds are a good source of fibre-containing 11 grams in that same 2 tablespoons. As most people don’t reach the DRV of 30 grams, adding chia seeds to your diet is a good option to help reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, and regulate blood sugar levels.

Those looking to up intake of anti-ageing antioxidants that can help to prevent or delay certain types of cell damage may want to consider chia seeds as well as they are a rich source of antioxidants due to the presence of chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol which are believed to help protect the heart and liver as well as having anti-ageing and anti-carcinogenic characteristics.

Those looking to add more plant-based protein to their diet may find chia seeds to be a good option as they are approximately 14% protein, and they are a complete protein containing all of the essential amino acids that are required for human nutrition including isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, histidine, and valine which help build proteins, grow muscle, and transport nutrients.

Another plus is that gram for gram chia seeds contain more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon does which has various anti-inflammatory properties and may also help to support better brain and heart health as well as improve stress response.

The rich calcium, magnesium and protein content will also help to support healthy bones which again is good news for those looking to increase intake of more plant-based options as 25 grams of chia seeds contains 157 grams of calcium which is more than the content of 100 ml of dairy milk.

Studies suggest that regular consumption of chia seeds could significantly reduce blood pressure for those with hypertension, and the rich omega-3 content can work as a blood thinner reducing overall blood pressure. The reductions can support overall heart health and may help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. It is worth noting that those taking medications should consult with their physician as very large quantities of chia seeds could potentially interact with certain blood pressure or blood sugar medications.

The body digests chia seeds slowly which will provide slow-release energy and help to keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the day, while the fibre content can slow the absorption of sugar into the blood and decrease overall blood sugar levels.

Additionally, the high concentration of soluble fibre makes chia seeds expand in the stomach which can help to keep you feeling fuller for longer and reduce snacking which can help to support healthy weight loss as part of a healthy diet when combined with exercise.

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Source: WorldHealth.net.

AKG Supplement Promoted Healthy Aging & Longevity In Animal Study

Mice given alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG) supplements were reported to be healthier as they aged, and female mice lived longer than those not given the supplement, according to the researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.

“The big thing about this is that its safety profile is so good,” says the University of North Dakota aging researcher Holly Brown-Borg, who was not involved with the study. “It has potential and should be explored further, for sure.”

AKG is naturally made in both mice and human bodies, and it is already considered to be safe by regulators. It is part of the metabolic cycle that cells use to make energy from food; sometimes it is used to treat osteoporosis and kidney disease, along with some bodybuilders to bulk up.

In 2014 researchers discovered that this molecule may have an anti-ageing possibility when a study published in Nature reported that it helped to extend the lifespan of C.elegans by more than 50%; and other studies showed it improving lifespan in fruit flies.

AKG levels will gradually decline with age, as such the researchers are looking for ways to restore levels to those seen in younger years. In this study published in Cell Metabolism 18-month-old mice, which is the equivalent of around 55 human years, were given AKG as 2% of their daily feed until they died or for up to 21 months, recording all changes.

Within a few months: “They looked much blacker, shinier, and younger” than control mice, says Azar Asadi Shahmirzadi, a postdoc at the Buck Institute who did the experiments as a graduate student. Animals in the AKG group also scored on average 40% better on tests of frailty as measured by 31 physiological attributes including walking gait, grip strength hearing, and hair colour. Additionally, female mice in the AKG group lived a median of 8-20% longer than the controls. It was noted that the mice in the AKG group did not perform better in tests for heart function or treadmill endurance, and they did not test for cognitive improvement.

Female mice in the AKG group were found to produce higher levels of a molecule that fights inflammation. Although these effects on health and longevity were smaller for AKG than for some other anti-ageing compounds, some of the other compounds have had safety issues, for example, rapamycin can suppress the immune system and may promote diabetes.

The researchers plan to test AKG in human volunteers in the near future, possibly in a group of people between the ages of 45-65 to investigate whether the molecule will improve ageing-related biomarkers such as inflammation, arterial hardening, and chemical signatures on DNA that are associated with ageing.

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Source: WorldHealth.net.

Medicinal Herbs Found to Have Antioxidant & Anti-Tumor Effects

A study published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine has revealed that medicinal plants including ginkgo biloba, jujube, ginseng, and astragalus have antioxidant and anti-tumor properties.

The mentioned medicinal plants have a history of use in traditional medicine, are commonly available, and are said to not have any adverse effects when consumed. Clinical studies have shown polysaccharides from plants to have antioxidant, anti-inflammation, cell viability promotion, immune regulation, and anti-tumor effects in disease models.

Researchers from Shenzhen Third People’s Hospital and Jinan University investigated the antioxidant and antitumor properties of the polysaccharides from these medicinal plants, and identified the signaling pathways involved in the initiation and progress of diseases that are associated with cancer and oxidative stress.

These plant polysaccharides were found to have potential to fight oxidative stress and cancer related disorders in both animal and cell models as well as in clinical cases. The polysaccharides treat oxidative stress and cancer through ROS centered pathways and transcription factor related pathways with or without further involvement of inflammatory and death receptor pathways; some may also affect tumorigenic pathways to have their antitumor roles.

A review suggesting using polysaccharides as anti-cancer agents published in Carbohydrate Polymers focusing on research within the last 5 years, proposed mechanisms of action, and anti-cancer activity compared to conventional anti-cancer drugs found them to have exhibited good anti-cancer activity across a variety of cancer cell lines that could be used as alternatives to existing chemotherapeutic cancer agents which had selective activity against tumor cells with minimal toxic side effects.

The polysaccharides in the review were isolated from plants, microorganisms, fungi, and marine sources that have been shown to act on cancer cells by inducing programmed cell death, and kills cancer cells via preventing their spread by acting on DNA damage, cell cycle arrest, disruption of mitochondrial membrane, and production of nitric oxide.

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Source: WorldHealt.net

Breathing Technique Can Calm You Down – Box Breathing

A simple breathing technique used by first responders and Navy SEALs in stressful and life threatening situations called box breathing can help to de-stress and calm you down in just a few minutes.

Box breathing is a form of present, deep, conscious breathing in which each exhaled breath is drawn out to last longer than the inhalation. This type of breathing signals the brain to tone down the sympathetic nervous system, which stops the adrenal glands from releasing adrenaline and other hormones responsible for the fight or flight responses to danger. Box breathing also stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system that releases relaxing chemicals to counterbalance stress responses of the sympathetic nervous system.

Special forces commandos and first responders are just some of the pros who use box breathing to stay calm even in the toughest situations they may encounter, and they have vouched for its effectiveness at managing stress levels whenever hard decisions need to be made on the fly with people’s lives on the line.

Humans have two responses to danger: to either stand their ground and fight; or flee the situation for their lives. This is called fight or flight response, and it has not changed much over the course of time; it will trigger when anything stressful is encountered be it a dangerous situation or a message from a lover announcing a break up.

Fight or flight responses main purpose is to keep a human alive in the presence of deadly danger, and it exerts powerful effects on the body which can increase strength and rate of the heart beat and raise blood pressure. Such changes ensure the body will have enough energy to either run for your life or fight off an attacker.

Once stressed the body can take up to three quarters of an hour before it winds down to a normal state. Modern society seems to have an endless supply of all sorts of trigger that can work to keep a person locked in stressful states for long periods of time.

Box breathing can offer a natural way to prevent stress, and interrupt the fight or flight response that normally overrides normal functions of the mind and body. Box breathing is a deep form of breathing that triggers alpha waves linked with constructive activity in the brain that are emitted when a person experiences an inspiration.

This form of deep breathing is almost as simple as counting. Simply inhale with the diaphragm while counting to 4 and fill the lungs to maximum capacity, hold the breath for 4 and then exhale slowly to a longer count of 4.

Ensure to avoid the kind of agitated breathing that shoves the shoulders into the ears as that is shallow stress breathing and will keep the body in fight or flight mode rather than relaxing the stressed mind and body.

When filling the lungs try to expand your stomach, as filling the stomach with air opens up space in the belly for the diaphragm which will move down in order to make room for the expanding lungs.

Once the five count box breathing technique is down pat you can alter the ratio between inhalation and exhalation to trying to exhale to a longer slow count of 8. After that move to deep breathing ratios of 8:16; 10:20; 22:44; or 30:80.

One needs not to be a highly skilled professional to benefit from box breathing, everyone has stress. All you need to do is to remember to take deep calming breaths whenever you feel stressed to regain your calm within minutes. Relax, unwind, and enjoy.

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Source: WorldHealth.net

Any amount of running linked to significantly lower risk of early death

Any amount of running is linked to a significantly lower risk of death from any cause, finds a pooled analysis of the available evidence, published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

If more people took up running – and they wouldn’t have to run far or fast – there would likely be substantial improvements in population health and longevity, conclude the researchers.

It’s not clear how good running is for staving off the risk of death from any cause and particularly from cardiovascular disease and cancer, say the researchers. Nor is it clear how much running a person needs to do to reap these potential benefits, nor whether upping the frequency, duration, and pace — in other words, increasing the ‘dose’ — might be even more advantageous.

To try and find out, the researchers systematically reviewed relevant published research, conference presentations, and doctoral theses and dissertations in a broad range of academic databases.

They looked for studies on the association between running/jogging and the risk of death from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

They found 14 suitable studies, involving 232,149 people, whose health had been tracked for between 5.5 and 35 years. During this time, 25,951 of the study participants died.

When the study data were pooled, any amount of running was associated with a 27% lower risk of death from all causes for both sexes, compared with no running. It was also associated with a 30% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and a 23% lower risk of death from cancer.

Even small ‘doses’ – for example, once weekly or less, lasting less than 50 minutes each time, and at a speed below 6 miles (8 km) an hour, still seemed to be associated with significant health/longevity benefits.

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Source: ScienceDaily

Early retirement can accelerate cognitive decline

Early retirement can accelerate cognitive decline among the elderly, according to research conducted by faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Plamen Nikolov, assistant professor of economics, and Alan Adelman, a doctoral student in economics, examined China’s New Rural Pension Scheme (NRPS) and the Chinese Health and Retirement Longitudinal Survey (CHARLS) to determine the effects of pension benefits on individual cognition of those ages 60 or above. CHARLS, a nationally representative survey of people ages 45 and above within the Chinese population, is a sister survey of the U.S. Health and Retirement Survey and directly tests cognition with a focus on episodic memory and components of intact mental status.

With a higher life expectancy and decline in fertility in developing countries, the elderly population has become the largest demographic source in Asia and Latin America, generating an urgent need for new, sustainable pension systems. However, research suggests that these retirement plans can be detrimental, as retirement plays a significant role in explaining cognitive decline at older ages.

“Because of this large demographic boom, China introduced a formal pension program (called NRPS) in rural parts of the country. The program was introduced on the basis of an economy’s needs and capacity, in particular to alleviate poverty in old age,” said Nikolov. “In rural parts of the country, traditional family-based care for the elderly had largely broken down, without adequate formal mechanisms to take its place. For the elderly, inadequate transfers from either informal family and community transfers could severely reduce their ability to cope with illness or poor nutrition.”

The researchers discovered that there were significant negative effects of pension benefits on cognition functioning among the elderly. The largest indicator of cognitive decline was delayed recall, a measure that is widely implicated in neurobiological research as an important predictor of dementia. The pension program had more negative effects among females, and Nikolov said the results support the mental retirement hypothesis that decreased mental activity results in the worsening of cognitive skills.

“Individuals in the areas that implement the NRPS score considerably lower than individuals who live in areas that do not offer the NRPS program,” Nikolov said. “Over the almost 10 years since its implementation, the program led to a decline in cognitive performance by as high as almost a fifth of a standard deviation on the memory measures we examine.”

“For cognition among the elderly, it looks like the negative effect on social engagement far outweighed the positive effect of the program on nutrition and sleep,” said Nikolov. “Or alternatively, the kinds of things that matter and determine better health might simply be very different than the kinds of things that matter for better cognition among the elderly. Social engagement and connectedness may simply be the single most powerful factors for cognitive performance in old age.”

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Source: ScienceDaily

When It Comes To Chocolate Darker Is Healthier

Those with a sweet tooth will be happy to know that in moderation, dark chocolate is good for cardiovascular health, according to a study collaborative study between Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra and the University of Gothenburg that was published in the journal Nutrition.

A few squares of dark chocolate, especially those containing 90% cocoa content can help to greatly improve blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to this study.

30 healthy participants between the ages of 18-27 were divided into 2 groups: one group eating 20g of chocolate containing 55% cocoa content, and the other eating 20g of chocolate with 90% cocoa content. Participant blood pressure was taken at baseline, then again after 30 days.

Eating chocolate was found to improve blood pressure, but those in the 90% group had more dramatic results; those in the 90% group after one month showed an average reduction of 3.5 mmHg in systolic and 2.3 mmHg in diastolic blood pressure, while those in the 55% group had an average reduction of 2.4 mmHg in systolic and 1.7 mmHg in diastolic blood pressure.

Based on their findings the team concluded that eating small amounts of dark chocolate can be of benefit to the cardiovascular system regardless of age, but they noted while the findings provide a positive correlation between dark chocolate and cardiovascular biomarkers how they affect other factors of a healthy lifestyle requires further research.

“The extent to which cocoa may interact with other healthy lifestyle strategies remains to be explored, and further research is needed to clarify the underlying mechanisms and to define optimal amounts of regular cocoa-rich dark chocolate intake,” says lead author Dr. Telmo Pereira.

A study published in Heart investigating the health benefits of chocolate involving 21,000 participants taking note of eating habits also observed cumulative evidence between chocolate intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Flavanols found within dark chocolate may be responsible for a lot of these health benefits as multiple studies have shown direct links between eating flavonoid rich foods and human health. Many foods contain flavonoids which have been explored for antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antitumor properties.

Choose your chocolate with scrutiny as not as types of chocolate have flavanols, which are also what gives chocolate the slightly bitter taste. Many commercially available chocolates have been stripped of the beneficial flavanols in favor of more mellow taste.

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Source: WorldHealth.net

Fitness Programme: OCR Obstacle Course Racing Programme, 8 Weeks

Workout.TrainingProgramme1Introduction

  • This is a an intense training programme that targets the whole body.
  • It spans over eight weeks (add a Max Week as week 3 and 7).
  • Bodyweight exercises make up most of the programme.
  • The number of sets and reps are suitable at an intermediate level. Scale basis your current form.
  • The programme is perfect preparing for an obstacle course event.
  • You will be in the best shape of your life after completing the programme. Promise!
  • Good luck and have fun!

Download

Click to download the programme and start an intense period: Obstacle Course Racing Programme