Tag Archives: heart disease

Is intermittent fasting beneficial?

If there is one thing we could all do to significantly extend our lifespan, it would be restricting calories by eating less. This seems to imply that fasting could improve health. Or does it?

According to the J Nutr Biochem(2005), Beneficial effects of intermittent fasting and caloric restriction on the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems:

Abstract

Intermittent fasting (IF; reduced meal frequency) and caloric restriction (CR) extend lifespan and increase resistance to age-related diseases in rodents and monkeys and improve the health of overweight humans. Both IF and CR enhance cardiovascular and brain functions and improve several risk factors for coronary artery disease and stroke including a reduction in blood pressure and increased insulin sensitivity. Cardiovascular stress adaptation is improved and heart rate variability is increased in rodents maintained on an IF or a CR diet. Moreover, rodents maintained on an IF regimen exhibit increased resistance of heart and brain cells to ischemic injury in experimental models of myocardial infarction and stroke. The beneficial effects of IF and CR result from at least two mechanisms–reduced oxidative damage and increased cellular stress resistance. Recent findings suggest that some of the beneficial effects of IF on both the cardiovascular system and the brain are mediated by brain-derived neurotrophic factor signaling in the brain. Interestingly, cellular and molecular effects of IF and CR on the cardiovascular system and the brain are similar to those of regular physical exercise, suggesting shared mechanisms. A better understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which IF and CR affect the blood vessels and heart and brain cells will likely lead to novel preventative and therapeutic strategies for extending health span.

Source

Laboratory of Neurosciences, National Institute on Aging Intramural Research Program, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA. mattsonm@grc.nia.nih.gov

It looks like fasting could help many people, but do not do it without getting the okay from a medical professional since it can be dangerous for people with certain conditions. Safer than fasting would be to simply restrict calories by eating less.

You could of course just eat a lot less of what you normally eat, but perhaps a better way of doing this would be to adopt a healthier diet, like adopting a Mediterranean or whole foods vegetarian diet(or better yet, a Mediterranean vegan diet). These diets have almost the same health benefits as caloric restriction since they exclude or minimize many foods with high calories.

Primary Prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet:

Among persons at high cardiovascular risk, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts reduced the incidence of major cardiovascular events. (Funded by the Spanish government’s Instituto de Salud Carlos III and others; Controlled-Trials.com number, ISRCTN35739639.).

Health Effects of Vegan Diet(2009):

Abstract

Recently, vegetarian diets have experienced an increase in popularity. A vegetarian diet is associated with many health benefits because of its higher content of fiber, folic acid, vitamins C and E, potassium, magnesium, and many phytochemicals and a fat content that is more unsaturated. Compared with other vegetarian diets, vegan diets tend to contain less saturated fat and cholesterol and more dietary fiber. Vegans tend to be thinner, have lower serum cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, reducing their risk of heart disease. However, eliminating all animal products from the diet increases the risk of certain nutritional deficiencies. Micronutrients of special concern for the vegan include vitamins B-12 and D, calcium, and long-chain n-3 (omega-3) fatty acids. Unless vegans regularly consume foods that are fortified with these nutrients, appropriate supplements should be consumed. In some cases, iron and zinc status of vegans may also be of concern because of the limited bioavailability of these minerals.

Source

Department of Nutrition and Wellness, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI, USA. wcraig@andrews.edu

Nanotechnology and fitness

Nanotechnology is an exciting new field of science and technology that will likely lead to all sorts of major advances in medicine, and technology in general. It is still in its infancy, but is already being used for drug delivery and in medical diagnostics. That said, it is not without risks. New nano-materials need to be carefully examined to limit toxicity and harm.

Nanotube. Source: Public domain

Carbon nanotube. Source: Public domain


Nanotechnology involves building and manipulating things at the atomic and molecular level, which would allow all sorts of unprecedented advantages over older technology(nanotubes and nanomaterials built from carbon at the atomic level are ultra-strong while being very light), especially in the field of medicine. It could revolutionize medicine as we know it.
According to: Nanotechnology and nanomedicine: going small means aiming big

Abstract

Nanotechnology is an emerging branch of science for designing tools and devices of size 1 to 100 nm with specific function at the cellular, atomic and molecular levels. The concept of employing nanotechnology in biomedical research and clinical practice is best known as nanomedicine. Nanomedicine is an upcoming field that could potentially make a major impact to human health. Nanomaterials are increasingly used in diagnostics, imaging and targeted drug delivery. Nanotechnology will assist the integration of diagnostics/imaging with therapeutics and facilitates the development of personalized medicine, i.e. prescription of specific medications best suited for an individual. This review provides an integrated overview of application of nanotechnology based molecular diagnostics and drug delivery in the development of nanomedicine and ultimately personalized medicine. Finally, we identify critical gaps in our knowledge of nanoparticle toxicity and how these gaps need to be evaluated to enable nanotechnology to transit safely from bench to bedside.

It sounds very promising when it comes to medicine, for treating and preventing heart disease and cancer. However, could nanotechnology help make those of us who are already fit and healthy even fitter? Could nano-engineering or nano-machines going through our bloodstream, or in our muscles help make us stronger, faster, more coordinated or even smarter? There’s also the possibility of nanotechnology leading to the creation of Iron Man suits. Just imagine armies of “Super Soldiers”!

This also leads to all sorts of ethical questions, especially in light of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, but also when it comes to athletic competition in general. What kind of restrictions will there be on nanotechnology in athletic competition? Will they ban as-of-now inconceivable nano-devices that could strengthen the heart muscle and make it beat faster? What would be considered “cheating”? I realize this is all speculative and sounds like science fiction, but technology is moving so fast it is never too early to ask such questions.

Just think of a future in which athletes can have spare body parts if they badly damage a leg or arm, or use nanotechnology combined with biotechnology and stem cells to regrow bad knees. Or why stop there, maybe create hybrid cheetah/human legs for sprinters to help them run faster. Aging itself could even be haulted or reversed through repairing DNA and aged, cross-linked protein structures throughout the body. In a way, it will be like eugenics through technology.

Sounds impossible now, right? Just remember that so much of the technology we have today would have been unimaginable to people living 40 years ago, never mind 200 years ago. People 50 years from now will look upon and laugh at our most “advanced” tablet computers the same way we look at computers from the 1950s.

In some ways the future looks promising, in other ways it looks bleak. Let us hope that along with the billions of dollars being invested in nanotechnology, a lot of wisdom is also being invested in it.

Sitting may be dangerous for your health

Sitting may be dangerous for your health, according to some studies. I know, I know, you’re probably sick of hearing how certain everyday habits may cause disease, but this is a health and fitness blog so it’s totally on topic.

Anyway, sitting is associated with an increased risk for many different diseases, even in people who exercise every day yet sit a lot during work or leisure. Excessive sitting may play an important role in the obesity epidemic and may also partially explain the Tofi phenomenon, people who are Thin on the Outside but Fat on the Inside.

The simple solution is to simply move around more, and if you must sit, to get up every now and then to stretch or do some quick exercises. I often stand at my desk when blogging or browsing, but not always. Sitting on an exercise ball may be a little better; stand up desks or treadmills seem like a great solution. It’s disturbing how sitting seems to be as bad as smoking when it comes to health, at least according to some research.

Whatever you do, keep moving!

Is Sitting a Lethal Activity?

Are you a Tofi?

Many people who look fit may be anything but. There is a growing phenomenon of “Tofis”, people who are “Thin on the Outside, Fat on the Inside”. It’s like a more insidious form of obesity, since even the sufferer may be under the illusion that they are healthy when they are actually very fat on the inside. This outwardly hidden excess fat is stored in and around many vital organs which can clog the arteries and lead to heart disease, besides causing many other serious health problems associated with obesity.

This underscores the reason everyone needs to exercise, which is by far the best way to ensure our metabolism doesn’t go awry(besides eating healthy). It still amazes me how often I encounter people who believe “skinny people shouldn’t exercise”, which is usually aimed at me due to how slim I am. 

Above all, and it deserves repetition, fitness should be a lifestyle, not an activity.