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Exercise and Your Body: How Your Internal Organs Are Affected

     In this Blog I will explore how the human body benefits from exercise, and discuss my personal lifetime of experience with exercise-related activities. I will raise important questions people sometimes have when they initiate a new (exercise) program, and finish with the specifics as to how exercise affects various diseases we all know about, and their effect on the various systems and organs in the human body. If one is contemplating starting a new exercise program I highly recommend you first consult with your doctor or primary care physician.

It’s long overdue for a more precise understanding of just what impact exercise does, in fact, have on the human body, specifically our internal organs. All too often we hear one should exercise and that it is good for us. But most catch phrases are generalities at best. That is the primary question I am going to answer. Therefore, I am initiating a Blog on Exercise and Your Body: How Your Internal Organs Are Affected.

Connections

     I used to play a lot of sports when I was growing up. When I graduated from high school I was in the best shape of my life. In my late 20s I did scuba diving taught by a U.S. Navy Seal and in my 30s did some bodybuilding with weight training, and played on an adult softball team and a couple’s volleyball team. For a short time a buddy of mine and I did a 100 mile program of swimming at the local YMCA. During my 40s I no longer exercised regularly but, in my 50s, I played golf every week for 5 solid years going from a 30 handicap to a 14. In my early 60s I had a good walking program but was inconsistent in terms of how often or how long I walked.

In 2010, at the age of 67, I joined USA Track and Field and competed in the Master’s Program for two and a half years (4 gold medals, 6 silver medals, 3 bronze medals and a number of 4th through 7th place finishes) in local, regional and national master’s track and field events. My events included the shot put, hammer throw, weight throw, discus and javelin. The highlight of all my track & field meets was an honor to participate in the 2011 Master’s World Games as a member of Team USA. My Olympic type events at the Master’s World Games included Shot Put, Weight Throw, and the Javelin. I came in 6th in the world in the javelin, 12th in the weight throw, and 17th in the shot put. I was in the 65-69 year old age group at the time I competed.

In 2013, I had to drop-out of USA Track & Field due to a bad case of Sciatica. With good physical therapy I was able to regain my balance and ability to walk in a normal way; however, I was a long way from regaining full strength and physical fitness and my readiness to once again compete in track & field. Over my lifetime I would best describe myself as a kind of a sporadic athlete, not one normally committed to a regular and consistent program of exercise.

After some procrastination my wife and I finally made a commitment to join a health and fitness club. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of our lives. In fact, I became very angry with myself for having NOT joined a fitness club 10-20 years earlier.

On November 15, 2013 we started to work out for 1 hour and 45 minutes, three times a week, exercising 35 minutes of cardio (stationary bike or treadmill) and 1 hour 10 minutes doing weight training (machines and free-weights).

Here are some personal tips regarding how diet, and other personal choices, can help your body become healthier even if you can’t fully commit yourself to an intense, regular exercise program. For the last three years I have been a vegan. The vegan diet is great for providing nutritional needs for your body and includes: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fiber.

However, recently I added fish back into my diet (wild salmon, tuna, and sardines). The fish, besides being a great source of protein (for building muscles), provides Omega-3s in ample supply, particularly where salmon is concerned. Also, I am no longer taking any artificial sweeteners, caffeinated coffee, carbonated drinks, or any form of over-the-counter pain killers. Follow these dietary/other suggestions and your strength and vitality will return in no time.

What about Exercise?

Because of my background as a researcher I always have lots of questions about everything. Exercise was no exception. We know exercise is good for one’s health. However, I’ve already said that’s fine as a generality. But what are the real, specific internal benefits on the various systems and organs of the human body? All of us are different with different needs. Some of us have medical conditions and some of us do not. Should one engage in certain types of exercise, but not others? In the weight room, what exercises are better for a particular muscle, or major muscle group? For example, which exercises are best for the abdominals, deltoids, oblique muscles, trapezius, biceps, or quadriceps? Is blood flow better when one does cardio or when one does weight training, or is the blood flow simply different in different parts of the body? Is there an optimal level of sets and reps for exercising different types of muscles?

My quest for answers has taken me in a lot of different directions in a very short period of time; all of the questions I’ve posed are important for you to answer if you want to get the most out of any full-body exercise program.

In this blog, I am committed to answering what I think is the most important question of all: What Impact Does Exercise Have on the Internal Organs of the Human Body?

If you want justification to help motivate you to get out of that easy chair and starting exercising, answering the above question just might do the trick.  But first there is something everyone needs to know.

First Things First—Those First Few Weeks of Exercise

Many people have different goals when they start to exercise, such as lose weight, look better, or maintain or improve one’s health. For those of you who have weight reduction as a goal, here are some hints to understanding why you should not become disappointed at first when you’ve worked so hard but that scale of yours doesn’t seem to cooperate. You’ll come to understand the term hydration and its importance. I found an article on the SparkPeople website (in the section Ask the Experts). This question was asked of the experts: I just started exercising to lose weight, but I’ve gained weight. Why did this happen?

According to Dean Anderson, Certified Personal Trainer, “When you start doing more exercise, your body begins storing more fuel in your muscle cells, where it can be used easily and quickly to fuel your workouts. The process of converting glucose (carbohydrates) into fuel that your muscles actually store and use (glycogen) requires three molecules of water for every molecule of glucose. As your muscles are building up glycogen stores, your body has to retain extra water for this purpose. That’s what causes most of the initial weight gain or lack of weight loss. This is a good thing—not something to worry about.

However, despite what the scale says, you are actually losing fat during this time. The extra water retention will stop once your body has adjusted to the new activity level. At that point, the scale should start moving down. You’ll end up with less fat, and muscles that can handle a larger amount.”

The following is an article written by Judith Blake, a staff reporter, for the Seattle Times.

Full-body workout: Exercise benefits mind, organs, resistance to disease

“Need another reason to exercise? We’ve dug up a bundle of ’em.

Of course, there’s always that old standby, a sleeker body. It’s the reward that lures legions to the jogging trail, the health club or the aerobics class.

But did you know that exercise might alleviate depression, help keep cancer out of your colon, increase the number of cells in your brain (or at least in a mouse’s brain) and boost your immune system?

People have always believed that exercise is good for them, says Dr. John O’Kane, University of Washington sports-medicine expert and lead physician to the UW’s athletic teams. The latest research shows just how good for us it is.

Health experts also say you don’t have to run marathons or hit the gym for endless hours to gain significant benefits. Probably the best-known benefit is heart health, and for that, a program of regular, moderate exercise will do just fine, O’Kane said.

‘If you can just get yourself to start walking 30 minutes a day, that’s a good start,’ he said.

‘You do get benefits from more vigorous exercise,’O’Kane added. You burn more calories and gain endurance, for instance. And one study suggested that men who exercised vigorously had lower rates of prostate cancer.

Exercise does its best work when teamed with healthy eating. But studies now show exercise has its own beneficial impact, even when you’re not also following an ideal diet, he said.

The same is true with weight loss. A study at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas showed that even when individuals remained obese, exercise was linked to fewer heart attacks.

Exercise gets points today not only for health maintenance but for recovery. Jack Berryman, a UW medical historian, says that ‘for thousands of years we realized that exercise was healthy.’ Yet until the 1950s, complete bed rest was prescribed for many conditions, including heart-attack recovery.

That changed, he said, when President Dwight Eisenhower had a heart attack while in office. Well-known cardiologist Dr. Paul Dudley White soon had him up walking and playing golf.

‘That was the beginning of the important movement of cardiac rehabilitation’ employing controlled exercise, Berryman said. Today, exercise is part of the recovery program for many conditions.

Here’s some of the latest research on health and exercise:

Cancer

Breast cancer: Regular physical activity may lower risk. Of about two dozen studies on breast cancer and exercise, about two-thirds have found reduced risk of up to 30-40 percent with exercise, says Dr. Anne McTiernan, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Possible reason: Exercise may reduce production of estrogen (a possible cancer promoter) by the ovaries and by fat cells.

Exercise may also boost the immune system, possibly helping fight cancer. McTiernan and others are researching exercise’s impact on both the immune system and on estrogen levels in women.

Colon cancer: Exercise appears to reduce risk by up to 50 percent, based on about three dozen observational studies around the world, says McTiernan. She and others will try to learn more about the protective mechanism in a new study. They’ll take biopsies from the colon and rectum of exercising and nonexercising participants at the start and finish of the study to observe how cells are growing, dividing and dying. They’ll also check the balance of “good” and “bad” prostaglandins, body chemicals thought to be involved in colon cancer.

(For information on participating in the study, call 206-667-6444. Researchers are recruiting men and women who are basically sedentary and who have had a colonoscopy, a type of colon exam.)

The Brain

Mental sharpness: Exercise may help preserve it as you age. A recent study found that among women 65 and older, the least amount of cognitive decline over eight years occurred in those who exercised the most (walking 18 miles per week), while decline was greatest in those who exercised the least (walking half a mile per week). Decline decreased with each added mile. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, and others studied 5,925 women 65 and older without cognitive impairment or physical limitations.

Brain cells: Physical activity may increase their numbers. In one study, researchers found that adult mice doubled their number of new cells in the hippocampus — a brain area involved in memory and learning — when they had access to running wheels. Whether exercise increases brain cells in humans has not yet been demonstrated.

Depression: Studies suggest exercise reduces symptoms, possibly by releasing mood-altering brain chemicals, such as endorphins.

The Rest of the Body

Impotence: Exercise may reduce risk. A study of nearly 600 men over eight years found that physical activity amounting to least 200 calories a day — the equivalent of walking briskly for 2 miles — may reduce a man’s risk of developing erectile dysfunction. Possible reason: Exercise boosts blood circulation, which may aid erectile function.

Enlarged prostate: One study showed a 25 percent lower risk of noncancerous prostate enlargement in men who walked two to three hours a week than in men who seldom walked.

Diabetes: Many studies show regular physical activity helps prevent or control diabetes. Exercise works on diabetes in two ways: By burning energy in the form of blood sugar and by reducing body fat (fat contributes to Type 2 diabetes by impairing the body’s ability to process insulin).

Bones: Many studies indicate that weight-bearing exercise such as walking and weight-training helps prevent the porous, fracture-prone bones of osteoporosis.

Regular exercise, including strength training, may also help older people avoid falling and breaking their bones. In one study, older women assigned to a home-based strength-and-balance exercise program had fewer falls than women who didn’t exercise.

In another study, researchers at Oregon State University and the University of Utah asked women ages 50 to 75 to wear weighted vests while performing lower-body strength and power exercises. Results after nine months: Improved lower-body muscle strength and balance — especially balance to the side. ‘This has been very exciting for us to find, because falling to the side raises the risk of breaking a hip 20 times over falling forward,’ said Christine Snow, the study’s co-author.

Arthritis: Both aerobic exercise and strength training, in moderation, can reduce joint swelling and pain and extend mobility.

The Heart: Perhaps the best-known effect of regular exercise is its benefit to the heart. Many studies indicate lower heart-disease risk with regular exercise, which boosts oxygen supply. Exercise also helps bring down high blood pressure, reducing risk of stroke.

And that’s not all: Studies also point to the power of exercise to help prevent or control sleep disorders, gallstones, diverticular disease (an intestinal disorder) and more.”

Sources: University of Washington medical faculty; Oregon State University; the Society for Neuroscience; Seattle Times files. This article includes information from the Associated Press, the Washington Post and Nutrition Action Health Letter.

 

The following is an article by Catherine Field of Demand Media.

What Major Organs of the Body Benefit the Most From Exercising?

Exercise benefits major organ systems and the body as a whole.

“The health benefits of general exercise are well-known. Those who exercise, in general, feel better and suffer from fewer health problems. Even those with chronic health conditions — like diabetes — can manage their conditions better with exercise. But depending on the type of exercise, some of the human body’s major organs benefit the most from exercise. And it’s this reaction that helps the exerciser obtain results such as weight loss, lower blood pressure and reduced blood sugar.

The Heart & The Cardiovascular System

The cardiovascular system is primarily comprised of arteries, veins, and, at the center, the heart. The heart is the system’s muscular power house that needs to be exercised to keep in top form. Exercises that increase the heart rate exercise the heart muscle and pump blood more efficiently throughout the body.

Running, jogging, aerobic exercises are just a few examples that will work the cardiovascular system. As the cardiovascular system improves the resting heart rate will decrease, circulation will improve and blood volume will increase. In addition, blood pressure will decrease, ‘bad’ cholesterol can decrease while good cholesterol can increase, and less plaque will build in your arteries.

The Muscular System

Through a process known as hypertrophy — an enlargement of cells — muscles, when exercised, not only become bigger but become stronger. Activities that create new muscular proteins, like weight training and non-bearing weight exercises such as lunges and squats, increase muscle activity and encourage muscle growth. Eating protein after a workout targeting strength training will encourage muscle growth.

Lungs & The Respiratory System

The lungs are exercised through normal respiration. The simple act of breathing exercises the lungs and the diaphragm. Performing aerobic exercises that increase heart and respiration rate, the amount breathed in at one time, will exercise the lungs. As the lungs are exercised, the body will take in more oxygen and be able to use it efficiently.

 

 

The Brain & The Central Nervous System

The central nervous system involves the brain and the spinal cord. The central nervous system is responsible for maintaining the human body’s autonomic functions, or the functions that are outside our control. These are, for example, breathing and heart rate. When the body exercises, it produces hormones. The brain produces its own hormones called neurotransmitters: serotonin, epinephrine, adrenaline, and endorphins. These can reduce pain and provide a euphoric feeling that can help those who suffer from mild, non-clinical depression. The release of these neurotransmitters can also improve sleep and help curb appetite.

 

The Role of Inflammation and the Effect of Exercise on it

Back in January, 2013 I wrote a Blog called: Update on Type II Diabetes in America [Epidemiology and New Research Findings]. During the course of researching for that Blog, I found out and reported that Inflammation (both low-grade and chronic) may be a causal variable in Heart Disease, Cancer, Stroke, Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, Alzheimer’s Disease, forms of arthritis such as Rheumatoid and Lupus, Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome, Sepsis (blood poisoning or the body’s inflammatory response to infection), Multiple Sclerosis, and allergies. And, it may be linked to all conditions ending in “itis.” Because this blog is about the effect of exercise, I found an article about exercise and inflammation.  This article was written by researchers at the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Arizona State University, Mesa, AZ.

Lifestyle Measures to Reduce Inflammation

 

Abstract

Chronic low-grade inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes (T2D) may be ameliorated with exercise and/or diet. High levels of physical activity and/or cardiorespiratory fitness are associated with reduced risk of low-grade inflammation. Both aerobic and resistance exercise have been found to improve inflammatory status, with the majority of evidence suggesting that aerobic exercise may have broader anti-inflammatory effects. In particular, aerobic exercise appears to improve the balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory markers. Improvement in inflammatory status is most likely to occur in persons with elevated levels of pro-inflammatory markers prior to intervention. A number of dietary factors, including fiber-rich foods, whole grains, fruits (especially berries), omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidant vitamins (e.g., C and E), and certain trace minerals (e.g., zinc) have been documented to reduce blood concentrations of inflammatory markers.

Anti-inflammatory foods may also help mitigate the pro-inflammatory postprandial state that is particularly evident after ingestion of meals high in saturated fat. Intensive lifestyle interventions involving both exercise and diet appear to be most effective. For the most part, anti-inflammatory effects of exercise and diet are independent of weight loss. Thus overweight and obese men and women, who are most likely to have a pro-inflammatory profile, do not necessarily have to normalize body mass index to improve inflammatory status and reduce risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

                       

The following is an article written by Sarah Klein of the Huffington Post in their HUFFPOST Health Living section.
This Is What Happens To Your Body When You Exercise

“Whether you do it to lose weight, to reach a fitness goal or — dare we say it? — Just for fun, exercise changes you.

There’s the red face and the sweating, the pounding heart and pumping lungs, the boost to your alertness and mood, the previously nonexistent urges to talk about nothing but splits and laps and PBs.

But while we all know that staying physically active is essential to a long, healthy, productive life, we don’t often understand exactly what’s happening behind the scenes.

We asked the experts to take us through — from head to toe — what happens in the body when we exercise. Neuroscientist Judy Cameron, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine, Tommy Boone, Ph.D., a board certified exercise physiologist, and Edward Laskowski, M.D., co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center spill the beans on what gets and keeps you moving.

Muscles

The body calls on glucose, the sugar the body has stored away from the foods we eat in the form of glycogen, for the energy required to contract muscles and spur movement.

It also uses adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, but the body only has small stores of both glucose and ATP. After quickly using up these supplies, the body requires extra oxygen to create more ATP. More blood is pumped to the exercising muscles to deliver that additional O2. Without enough oxygen, lactic acid will form instead. Lactic acid is typically flushed from the body within 30 to 60 minutes after finishing up a workout.

Tiny tears form in the muscles that help them grow bigger and stronger as they heal. Soreness only means there are changes occurring in those muscles, says Boone, and typically lasts a couple of days.

Lungs

Your body may need up to 15 times more oxygen when you exercise, so you start to breathe faster and heavier. Your breathing rate will increase until the muscles surrounding the lungs just can’t move any faster. This maximum capacity of oxygen use is called VO2 max. The higher the VO2 max, the more fit a person is.

Diaphragm

Like any muscle, the diaphragm can grow tired with all the heavy breathing. Some argue that as the diaphragm fatigues, it can spasm, causing a dreaded side stitch. (Others argue a side stitch is due to spasms of the ligaments around the diaphragm instead, while others believe the spasms to originate in the nerves that run from the upper back to the abdomen and are caused by poor posture!) Deep breathing and stretching can alleviate the discomfort in the middle of a workout, and preemptive strengthening in the gym can ward off future issues.

Heart

When you exercise, heart rate increases to circulate more oxygen (via the blood) at a quicker pace. The more you exercise, the more efficient the heart becomes at this process, so you can work out harder and longer. Eventually, this lowers resting heart rate in fit people.

Exercise also stimulates the growth of new blood vessels, causing blood pressure to decrease in fit people.

Stomach & Intestines

Because the body is pumping more blood to the muscles, it takes some away from the systems and functions that aren’t top priority at the moment, like digestion. That can result in tummy troubles. Movement, absorption and secretion in the stomach and intestines can all be affected.

Brain

Increased blood flow also benefits the brain. Immediately, the brain cells will start functioning at a higher level, says Cameron, making you feel more alert and awake during exercise and more focused afterward.

When you work out regularly, the brain gets used to this frequent surge of blood and adapts by turning certain genes on or off. Many of these changes boost brain cell function and protect from diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or even stroke, and ward off age-related decline, she says.

Exercise also triggers a surge of chemical messengers in the brain called neurotransmitters, which include endorphins, often cited as the cause of the mythical “runner’s high.”

The brain releases dopamine and glutamate, too, to get those arms and legs moving, as well as gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, a prohibitive neurotransmitter that actually slows things down, to keep you moving in a smooth and controlled manner.

You’ll also likely feel better thanks to a bump in serotonin, a neurotransmitter well known for its role in mood and depression.

Hippocampus

This part of the brain is highly involved in learning and memory, and it’s one of the only sections of the brain that can make new brain cells. Exercise facilitates this, thanks to the extra oxygen in the brain.

Even when you stop exercising, those new brain cells survive, whereas many other changes in the brain during exercise eventually return to their normal state should you become less active.

Hypothalamus

The hypothalamus is responsible for body temperature, as well as salt and water balance, among other duties. As your body heats up, it tells the skin to produce sweat to keep you cool.

Pituitary Gland

This control center in the brain alerts the adrenal glands to pump out the hormones necessary for movement. It also releases growth hormones. As the body searches for more fuel to burn after using up your glycogen stores, it will turn to either muscle or fat, says Cameron. Human growth hormone acts as a security guard for muscle, she says, telling the body to burn fat for energy instead.

Kidneys

The rate at which the kidneys filter blood can change depending on your level of exertion. After intense exercise, the kidneys allow greater levels of protein to be filtered into the urine. They also trigger better water reabsorption, resulting in less urine, in what is likely an attempt to help keep you as hydrated as possible.

Adrenal Glands

A number of the so-called “stress hormones” released here are actually crucial to exercise. Cortisol, for example, helps the body mobilize its energy stores into fuel. And adrenaline helps the heart beat faster so it can more quickly deliver blood around the body.

Skin

As you pick up the pace, the body, like any engine, produces heat — and needs to cool off. The blood vessels in the skin dilate, increasing blood flow to the skin. The heat then dissipates through the skin into the air.

Eccrine Glands

At the hypothalamus’s signal, one of two types of sweat glands, the eccrine glands, get to work. These sweat glands produce odorless perspiration, a mixture of water, salt and small amounts of other electrolytes, directly onto the skin’s surface. When this sweat evaporates into the air, your body temp drops.

Apocrine Glands

This second type of sweat gland is found predominantly in hair-covered areas, like the scalp, armpits and groin. These sweat glands produce a fattier sweat, typically in response to emotional stress that can result in odor when bacteria on the skin begin to break it down, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Face

The capillaries close to the skin’s surface in the face dilate as well, as they strain to release heat. For some exercisers, this may result in a particularly red face after a workout.

Joints

Exercising puts extra weight on the joints, sometimes up to five or six times more than your bodyweight, says Laskowski. Ankles, knees, hips, elbows and shoulders all have very different functions, but operate in similar ways. Each joint is lined with cushioning tissue at the ends of the bones called cartilage, as well as soft tissue and lubricating fluid, to help promote smooth and easy motion. Ligaments and tendons provide stability.

Over time, the cushioning around the joints can begin to wear away or degenerate, as happens in people with osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis.

The final article (actually a Blog from My 24, 2012) relates to exercise and dental health. The Blog was called 5 Ways Exercise can improve Dental Health and was written by Janet Lynch.

“The health of your teeth and gums is directly linked to your overall health. The link is a two way street because people who have healthy habits tend to have good dental hygiene habits and people with a healthy lifestyle have an easier time maintaining a healthy mouth. A healthy diet is essential for a healthy mouth, but what most people do not think about is how important a role exercise plays in oral hygiene.

Burn off excessive carbohydrates

Sugar and refined carbohydrates are responsible for a great deal of the tooth decay we see today. While it is true that exercise does not keep the carbohydrates out of your mouth, it does help keep blood sugar in check. This can also keep you at a healthy weight. Being overweight is a known risk factor for tooth decay.

Reduce inflammation

Exercising is a good way to reduce the body’s inflammation response. Keeping the inflammation response in check can help reduce periodontal disease.

Help the body use vitamins and minerals more effectively

Exercise helps the body digest and use food more efficiently. Your body will be able to better absorb the vitamins and minerals you need for a healthy mouth.

Prevent Diabetes

Diabetes is another known risk factor for oral diseases. Regular exercise can prevent and even help reverse diabetes.

Improve circulation

Exercising helps make your cardiovascular system healthier. Better circulation overall means better circulation to your mouth. This will help your mouth stay healthy and help stop tooth decay.

It is important to realize that exercise should be part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Exercise should be part of a regimen that includes regular exercise, healthy diet and regular oral hygiene care. Diet is as important as exercise. While exercising can help burn off extra carbohydrates, it is even more helpful to take in fewer carbohydrates. This is especially true of refined carbs and sugar.

When you eat grain you should be eating whole grains that are high in fiber. At least half of the grains you eat should be whole, but it is even better if you stick to all high fiber, whole grains. You can kick the health benefits up a notch by limiting yourself to 2-3 servings of grains per day. The rest of your carbohydrates and fiber should come from fruits and vegetables.

Vegetables contain a high amount of fiber for a low amount of carbohydrates and low amount of sugar. Fruit is good as well, and is even better if you choose low sugar fruits. The best choices are melons and berries. Melons and berries provide you with a great deal of nutrition for low amounts of sugar. Once you stop eating sugary snacks you will find that these fruits can satisfy your sweet tooth without compromising your oral health.

Maintaining a healthy weight is important for oral health. Exercising daily is important to help maintain weight, but if you need to lose weight to get to a healthy weight then you need to reduce your calorie intake. Substituting vegetables and fruits for starches can help you a great deal with just this one change. Other healthy steps include drinking water and measuring foods.

It is easy to overeat when you do not measure your food. Buying a food scale and a set of measuring cups is inexpensive and can help you properly measure your food intake. Measure everything you eat and track those numbers with a computer program or even a notebook.

Drinking water is important. Not only does water not rot your teeth the way sugary drinks do, it also keeps your mouth moist. A dry mouth is a perfect place for tooth decay, so keeping it moist with water can prevent oral problems. Drinking plenty of water keeps you hydrated and this is especially important if you are exercising.

Oral care is essential to improving dental health. In addition to exercising daily you should be brushing twice a day. Brushing after meals and snacks is better. You should be flossing once a day as well. Regular dental visits are important too. You should be seeing your dentist every 6 months.

There you have it. Exercise is important for your health and the health of your mouth. There are several benefits to regular exercise that have a direct impact on your teeth, gums and mouth. Make exercise a non-negotiable part of your day and you will start to see benefits in your body and your mouth as well. Take care of your body and your body will take care of you. 

POST SCRIPT

I hope from this Blog you are able to take away some knowledge on how exercise can improve one’s level of fitness, help improve most kinds of medical conditions and, above all, help you feel and look better in the process.

What you do with this knowledge is up to you. But remember this: Our culture these last 100+ years has made it easier to live life in so many ways. And yet, such easy living has made us fatter and less physically capable, and dare I say it, less mentally fit as well despite all the technological improvements.

Bottom line: Our culture has inadvertently created the conditions whereby we are killing ourselves with little fanfare as the nation, including our children, become more obese, and less physically fit (physical education has been dropped in many high schools throughout the country or reduced substantially from five days a week).

The writing is on the wall. Be tenacious and start exercising your body on a regular basis. Encourage your children to do the same. Good luck!

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Part I

Update on Diabetes in America
[Epidemiology and New Research Findings]

Introduction

This is Part I of a two-part series on diabetes in this country. Part I will be an epidemiological look at this disease in terms of statistical estimates disaggregated by age, race, and gender.

Part II of the series will concentrate on presenting some of the new research findings as they relate to Type II diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity, and a new factor that is emerging as important—Inflammation.

2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet

Diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes in the United States, all ages, 2010

Total: 25.8 million people, or 8.3% of the U.S. population, have diabetes.
Diagnosed: 18.8 million people
Undiagnosed: 7.0 million people

Estimation Methods

The estimates in this fact sheet were derived from various data systems of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Indian Health Service’s (IHS) National Patient Information Reporting System (NPIRS), the U.S. Renal Data System of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. Census Bureau, and published studies.

The estimated percentages and the total number of people with diabetes and prediabetes were derived from 2005–2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2007–2009 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), 2009 IHS data, and 2010 U.S. resident population estimates.

The diabetes and prediabetes estimates from NHANES were applied to the 2010 U.S. resident population estimates to derive the estimated number of adults with diabetes or prediabetes. The methods used to generate the estimates for the fact sheet may vary over time and need to be considered before comparing fact sheets. In contrast to the 2007 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, which used fasting glucose data to estimate undiagnosed diabetes and prediabetes, the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet used both fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1c (A1c) levels to derive estimates for undiagnosed diabetes and prediabetes. These tests were chosen because they are most frequently used in clinical practice.

Diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes among people aged 20 years or older, United States, 2010

Age 20 years or older: 25.6 million, or 11.3% of all people in this age group, have diabetes.

Age 65 years or older: 10.9 million, or 26.9% of all people in this age group, have diabetes.

Men: 13.0 million, or 11.8% of all men aged 20 years or older, have diabetes.

Women: 12.6 million, or 10.8% of all women aged 20 years or older, have diabetes.

Non-Hispanic whites: 15.7 million, or 10.2% of all non-Hispanic whites aged 20 years or older, have diabetes.

Non-Hispanic blacks: 4.9 million, or 18.7% of all non-Hispanic blacks aged 20 years or older, have diabetes.

Sufficient data are not available to estimate the total prevalence of diabetes (diagnosed and undiagnosed) for other U.S. racial/ethnic minority populations.

Diagnosed diabetes in people younger than 20 years of age, United States, 2010

About 215,000 people younger than 20 years have diabetes (type 1 or type 2). This represents 0.26% of all people in this age group. Estimates of undiagnosed diabetes are unavailable for this age group.

Racial and ethnic differences in diagnosed diabetes

National estimates of diagnosed diabetes for some but not all minority groups are available from national survey data and from the IHS NPIRS, which includes data for approximately 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States who receive health care from the IHS. Differences in diabetes prevalence by race/ethnicity are partially attributable to age differences. Adjustment for age makes results from racial/ethnic groups more comparable.
• Data from the 2009 IHS NPIRS indicate that 14.2% of American Indians and Alaska Natives aged 20 years or older who received care from IHS had diagnosed diabetes.

• After adjusting for population age differences, 16.1% of the total adult population served by IHS had diagnosed diabetes, with rates varying by region from 5.5% among Alaska Native adults to 33.5% among American Indian adults in southern Arizona.

• After adjusting for population age differences, 2007–2009 national survey data for people aged 20 years or older indicate that 7.1% of non-Hispanic whites, 8.4% of Asian Americans, 11.8% of Hispanics, and 12.6% of non-Hispanic blacks had diagnosed diabetes. Among Hispanics, rates were 7.6% for both Cubans and for Central and South Americans, 13.3% for Mexican Americans, and 13.8% for Puerto Ricans.

• Compared to non-Hispanic white adults, the risk of diagnosed diabetes was 18% higher among Asian Americans, 66% higher among Hispanics, and 77% higher among non-Hispanic blacks. Among Hispanics compared to non-Hispanic white adults, the risk of diagnosed diabetes was about the same for Cubans and for Central and South Americans, 87% higher for Mexican Americans, and 94% higher for Puerto Ricans.

New cases of diagnosed diabetes among people aged 20 years or older, United States, 2010

About 1.9 million people aged 20 years or older were newly diagnosed with diabetes in 2010.

New cases of diagnosed diabetes among people younger than 20 years of age, United States, 2002–2005

SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth is a multicenter study funded by CDC and NIH to examine diabetes (type 1 and type 2) among children and adolescents in the United States. SEARCH findings for the communities studied include the following:
• During 2002–2005, 15,600 youth were newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes annually, and 3,600 youth were newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes annually.

• Among youth aged

• Non-Hispanic white youth had the highest rate of new cases of type 1 diabetes (24.8 per 100,000 per year among those younger than 10 years and 22.6 per 100,000 per year among those aged 10–19 years).

• Type 2 diabetes was extremely rare among youth aged 9%) were 2.9 times more likely to have severe periodontitis than those without diabetes. The likelihood was even greater (4.6 times) among smokers with poorly controlled diabetes.

• About one-third of people with diabetes have severe periodontal disease consisting of loss of attachment (5 millimeters or more) of the gums to the teeth.

Complications of pregnancy
• Poorly controlled diabetes before conception and during the first trimester of pregnancy among women with type 1 diabetes can cause major birth defects in 5% to 10% of pregnancies and spontaneous abortions in 15% to 20% of pregnancies. On the other hand, for a woman with pre-existing diabetes, optimizing blood glucose levels before and during early pregnancy can reduce the risk of birth defects in their infants.

• Poorly controlled diabetes during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy can result in excessively large babies, posing a risk to both mother and child.

Other complications
• Uncontrolled diabetes often leads to biochemical imbalances that can cause acute life-threatening events, such as diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperosmolar (nonketotic) coma.

• People with diabetes are more susceptible to many other illnesses. Once they acquire these illnesses, they often have worse prognoses. For example, they are more likely to die with pneumonia or influenza than people who do not have diabetes.

• People with diabetes aged 60 years or older are 2–3 times more likely to report an inability to walk one-quarter of a mile, climb stairs, or do housework compared with people without diabetes in the same age group.

• People with diabetes are twice as likely to have depression, which can complicate diabetes management, than people without diabetes. In addition, depression is associated with a 60% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Preventing diabetes complications

As indicated above, diabetes can affect many parts of the body and can lead to serious complications such as blindness, kidney damage, and lower-limb amputations. Working together, people with diabetes, their support network, and their health care providers can reduce the occurrence of these and other diabetes complications by controlling the levels of blood glucose, blood pressure, and blood lipids, and by receiving other preventive care practices in a timely manner.

Glucose control
• Studies in the United States and abroad have found that improved glycemic control benefits people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. In general, every percentage point drop in A1c blood test results (e.g., from 8.0% to 7.0%) can reduce the risk of microvascular complications (eye, kidney, and nerve diseases) by 40%. The absolute difference in risk may vary for certain subgroups of people.

• In patients with type 1 diabetes, intensive insulin therapy has long-term beneficial effects on the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Blood pressure control
• Blood pressure control reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease or stroke) among people with diabetes by 33% to 50%, and the risk of microvascular complications (eye, kidney, and nerve diseases) by approximately 33%.

• In general, for every 10 mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure, the risk for any complication related to diabetes is reduced by 12%.

• No benefit of reducing systolic blood pressure below 140 mmHg has been demonstrated in randomized clinical trials.

• Reducing diastolic blood pressure from 90 mmHg to 80 mmHg in people with diabetes reduces the risk of major cardiovascular events by 50%.
Control of blood lipids
• Improved control of LDL cholesterol can reduce cardiovascular complications by 20% to 50%.

Preventive care practices for eyes, feet, and kidneys
• Detecting and treating diabetic eye disease with laser therapy can reduce the development of severe vision loss by an estimated 50% to 60%.

• About 65% of adults with diabetes and poor vision can be helped by appropriate eyeglasses.

• Comprehensive foot care programs, i.e., that include risk assessment, foot-care education and preventive therapy, treatment of foot problems, and referral to specialists, can reduce amputation rates by 45% to 85%.

• Detecting and treating early diabetic kidney disease by lowering blood pressure can reduce the decline in kidney function by 30% to 70%. Treatment with particular medications for hypertension called angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) is more effective in reducing the decline in kidney function than is treatment with other blood pressure lowering drugs.

• In addition to lowering blood pressure, ARBs and ACEIs reduce proteinuria, a risk factor for developing kidney disease, by about 35%.

Post Script

In Part I, data were presented on diabetes in order to give the reader an epidemiological look at this disease. In Part II data will be presented on some of the research looking to understand, or at least better treat, this dreadful disease. It is hoped that as each year passes, researchers will eventually find the cure for diabetes.

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On the Horizon: A Real Cure for All Cancers?

Introduction

The world of medicine is changing and nanotechnology is leading the way. The future of cancer diagnosis and treatment does indeed look bright.

Where cancer research and treatment is concerned there is clearly a need to develop new innovative diagnostic and therapeutic methods. During the last 10 years tremendous progress has been made in the development of new molecular imaging probes and therapeutic agents targeting cancer. One such field that has contributed greatly in the area of diagnostic and therapeutic methods is the field of nanotechnology (technology for use on the atomic or molecular level.)  For example, there are now nanoparticle enabled technologies that do a better job of detecting and treating cancer than ever before. There appears to be three goals of these newer technologies:

(1)   Early detection of the disease

(2)   Enhance the ability to monitor therapeutic response, and

(3)   Enable the ability to target delivery of therapeutic agents, like cancer killing drugs.

There are other uses of nanotechnology, but the purpose of this Blog is to focus on the use of nanotechnology in the treatment of the devastating disease of cancer. In my grandmother’s day a diagnosis of cancer was a death sentence. From personal experience, I know that in today’s world that is not necessarily true.

 

Connections

In 2004 I lost a kidney to kidney cancer. I nevertheless was one of the lucky ones because I am a kidney cancer survivor for 8 years now. Consequently, I have a personal stake in finding a cure for cancer (and reoccurrences of same). I was astonished recently (and got goose bumps all over) when I read about a 17- year old high school senior from Cupertino, California who may have found a way to cure cancer.

Her name is Angela Zhang. She has received a $100,000 scholarship for her science school project because of the extraordinary nature of what she was trying to put forth—a comprehensive self-contained way to use nanoparticles to isolate and treat all cancer tumors, while leaving healthy tissue and cells alone. The $100,000 Zhang earned comes with the first prize award in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology.

In my opinion, Angela Zhang is not necessarily a super-genius. But she is a very bright, precocious, and persevering young person who demonstrated an uncanny ability to logically synthesize existing research data, and ideas from specialized scientific fields. In this case, she researched the field of nanotechnology, and more specifically she emphasized synthesizing information from the sub-field of medical nanotechnology.

But, of course, what she did wasn’t only a clever assimilation of research ideas from the scientific literature. There was that hands-on 1,000 hours creating the nanoparticle, and figuring out how to integrate a drug delivery system at the micron level that could be closely monitored for its effects. And, she achieved a very important aspect of cancer treatment—delivering a cancer drug without damaging healthy cells and tissues.  Young people like Angela will one day be at the forefront of research trying to solve many of the complex health problems facing large populations of citizens everywhere. I am excited as an individual that serious medical problem-solving is now transitioning to the next generation who possess innovative ideas and who have the perseverance to build a scientific consensus around the most effective ways to diagnose and treat serious diseases.

Complex medical problems like cancer deserve a bit more in-depth reporting.  Therefore I will present this particular blog in three sections: (1) a review of worldwide and national statistics on the prevalence of cancer, (2) describe Angela Zhang’s science project and concepts, and (3) describe a promising future where nanotechnology is concerned.

Section 1

Cancer Statistics from the World Health Organization

Q: Are the number of cancer cases increasing or decreasing in the world?

A: Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide and the total number of cases globally is increasing.

The number of global cancer deaths is projected to increase 45% from 2007 to 2030 (from 7.9 million to 11.5 million deaths), influenced in part by an increasing and aging global population. The estimated rise takes into account expected slight declines in death rates for some cancers in high resource countries. New cases of cancer in the same period are estimated to jump from 11.3 million in 2007 to 15.5 million in 2030.

In most developed countries, cancer is the second largest cause of death after cardiovascular disease, and epidemiological evidence points to this trend emerging in the less developed world. This is particularly true in countries in “transition” or middle-income countries, such as in South America and Asia. Already more than half of all cancer cases occur in developing countries.

Lung cancer kills more people than any other cancer – a trend that is expected to continue until 2030, unless efforts for global tobacco control are greatly intensified. Some cancers are more common in developed countries: prostate, breast and colon. Liver, stomach and cervical cancer are more common in developing countries.

A number of common risk factors have been linked to the development of cancer: an unhealthy lifestyle (including tobacco and alcohol use, inadequate diet, physical inactivity), and exposure to occupational (e.g. asbestos) or environmental carcinogens, (e.g. indoor air pollution), radiation (e.g. ultraviolet and ionizing radiation), and some infections (such as hepatitis B or human papilloma virus infection).

Key risk factors for cancer that have been identified are:

  • tobacco use – responsible for 1.8 million cancer deaths per year (60% of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries);
  • being overweight, obese or physically inactive – together responsible for 274 000 cancer deaths per year;
  • harmful alcohol use – responsible for 351 000 cancer deaths per year;
  • sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV) infection – responsible for 235 000 cancer deaths per year; and
  • occupational carcinogens – responsible for at least 152 000 cancer deaths per year.

Cancer prevention is an essential component of all cancer control plans because about 40% of all cancer deaths can be prevented.

CANCER STATISTICS IN THE UNITED STATES

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided the following statistics on cancer prevalence in the United States:

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease. In 2007, more than 562,000 people died of cancer, and more than 1.45 million people had a diagnosis of cancer, according to United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2007 Cancer Incidence and Mortality Data.

The cost of cancer extends beyond the number of lives lost and new diagnoses each year. Cancer survivors, as well as their family members, friends, and caregivers, may face physical, emotional, social, and spiritual challenges as a result of their cancer diagnosis and treatment. The financial costs of cancer also are overwhelming. According to the National Institutes of Health, cancer cost the United States an estimated $263.8 billion in medical costs and lost productivity in 2010.

Racial and Ethnic Differences

Cancer can affect men and women of all ages, races, and ethnicities, but it does not affect all groups equally. For example, African Americans are more likely to die of cancer than people of any other race or ethnicity. In 2007, the age-adjusted death rate per 100,000 people for all types of cancer combined was 216 for African Americans, 177 for whites, 119 for American Indians/Alaska Natives, 117 for Hispanics, and 108 for Asians/Pacific Islanders.

Effective Cancer Prevention Measures

Opportunities exist to reduce cancer risk and prevent some cancers. Cancer risk can be reduced by avoiding tobacco, limiting alcohol use, limiting exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun and tanning beds, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, and seeking regular medical care.

Research shows that screening for cervical and colorectal cancer at recommended intervals can prevent these diseases by finding lesions that can be treated before they become cancerous. Screening also can help find cervical, colorectal, and breast cancers at an early, treatable stage. Vaccines also can reduce cancer risk.

The human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine helps prevent some cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. The hepatitis B vaccine can reduce liver cancer risk. Making cancer screening, information, and referral services available and accessible to all Americans can reduce cancer incidence and deaths.

Where You Live Matters

The following looks at Cancer Death Rates (2007) for each of the states. The death rates found in various states may simply reflect differences in the number of deaths by ethnicity reported earlier. However, explaining death rates in terms of ethnicity per se is a lot more complicated involving personal habits of diet and exercise, access to effective cancer treatment and health care, exposure to carcinogins, and differential genetic make-up, attitudes toward disease prevention, and tobacco use.

U.S.Cancer Death Rates,* 2007

127.9–170.7 171.1–180.7 181.0–191.9 193.3–213.7
Arizona Iowa Alaska Alabama
California Kansas Georgia Arkansas
Colorado Maryland Illinois Delaware
Connecticut Massachusetts Maine District of Columbia
Florida Montana Michigan Indiana
Hawaii Nebraska Missouri Kentucky
Idaho New Jersey Nevada Louisiana
Minnesota Oregon New Hampshire Mississippi
New Mexico Rhode Island North Carolina Ohio
New York South Dakota Pennsylvania Oklahoma
North Dakota Washington South Carolina Tennessee
Texas Wisconsin Vermont West Virginia
Utah Wyoming Virginia

* Rates are per 100,000 people and are age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. standard population. Incidence rates are for about 99% of the U.S. population; death rates are for 100% of the U.S. population.

Source: United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2007 Cancer Incidence and Mortality Data, available at http://www.cgc.gov/uscs.

Section 2

Angela’s Concept

Many times in the past I read of some promising new cure for cancer by the medical or scientific community.  When the public reads such articles relating to the “cause(s)” of cancer or some special “new technique” of treatment, there is always an emotional reaction and the hope that maybe this time a real cure for this devastating disease has at last been found. Too many times in the past the media would blow any new ideas on causation or treatment all out of proportion. Reality would soon take hold again, and in a heartbeat the public would once again get its hopes dashed.

So why am I so enthusiastic, and not just reserved, scientifically conservative, and cautiously optimistic this time? Everything in my gut tells me this time it may be for real. Am I’m only reacting to all this emotionally, or do you feel something important is occurring that warrants further consideration? Either way, please read on.

This is what Angela, doing a first class piece of research, came up with:

She basically created in the laboratory a nanoparticle that kills cancer. The nanoparticle is delivered to tumors via the drug salinomycin where it kills cancer cells and deposits gold and iron-oxide materials to help with MRI imaging.

The key word to remember is nanoparticle. Angela’s project was named, “Design of Image-guided, Photo-thermal Controlled Drug Releasing Multifunctional Nanosystem for the Treatment of Cancer Stem Cells.” It was apparently as complex, thorough, and revolutionary as it sounds.

Zhang’s achievement is impressive due to the level of understanding required to create such a nanoparticle in the first place and also because she is only 17 years old. She had spent over 1,000 hours since 2009 researching and developing the particle, and wants to go on to study chemical engineering, biomedical engineering, or physics. Her dream job is to be a research professor. Because cancer stem cells are so resistant to many forms of cancer treatment, Angela felt that this was an area worth focusing on. Her nanoparticle is award-winning due to the fact it has the potential to overcome cancer resistance while providing the ability for doctors to monitor the effects of the treatment using existing imaging techniques.

More specifically, Zhang developed a nanoparticle that can be delivered to the actual site of a tumor. Once there it kills the cancer stem cells. However, Zhang went further and included both gold and iron-oxide components, which allow for non-invasive imaging of the site through MRI and Photoacoustics. What makes this innovative approach so important is that normally cancer stem cells are very resistant to many forms of cancer treatment.

This can be a little difficult for non-scientists to understand, so I’ll do the best I can to explain her ideas and keep it simple. Angela’s basic idea was to mix cancer medicine in a polymer that would attach to nanoparticles. The nanoparticles in turn would then fasten themselves to cancer cells and show up on an MRI allowing doctors to know exactly where tumors are. An infrared light aimed at the tumors would then melt the polymer and release the medicine, killing the cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed. When tested on mice the tumors almost completely disappeared. Although it will be years before scientists will be able to run tests on humans, the results do seem very promising.

 

I needed to understand some of the terminology myself particularly with reference to two important questions: What is a nanoparticle and what is a polymer?

What is a Nanoparticle?

A nanoparticle is an ultra fine unit with dimensions measured in nanometres (nm; billionths of a metre). Nanoparticles possess unique physical properties such as very large surface areas and can be classified as hard or soft. They exist naturally in the environment and are produced as a result of human activities. Owing to their submicroscopic size, they have unique material characteristics, and manufactured nanoparticles may find practical applications in a variety of areas, including medicine, engineering, catalysis, and environmental remediation. Examples of naturally occurring nanoparticles include terpenes released from trees and materials emitted in smoke from volcanic eruptions and fires. Quantum dots and nanoscale zero-valent iron are examples of manufactured nanoparticles.

What is a Polymer?

Polymers are made up of many molecules all strung together to form really long chains (and sometimes more complicated structures, too).

What makes polymers so interesting is that how they act depends on what kinds of molecules they’re made up of and how they’re put together. The properties of anything made out of polymers really reflect what’s going on at the ultra-tiny (molecular) level. So, things that are made of polymers look, feel, and act depending on how their atoms and molecules are connected. Some polymers are rubbery, like a bouncy ball, some are sticky and gooey, and some are hard and tough, like a skateboard.

Advances in polymer science have led to the development of several novel drug-delivery systems. A proper consideration of surface and bulk properties can aid in the designing of polymers for various drug-delivery applications. Biodegradable polymers find widespread use in drug delivery as they can be degraded to non-toxic monomers inside the body.

Novel supramolecular structures based on polyethylene oxide copolymers and dendrimers are being intensively researched for delivery of genes and macromolecules. Hydrogels that can respond to a variety of physical, chemical and biological stimuli hold enormous potential for design of closed-loop drug-delivery systems. Design and synthesis of novel combinations of polymers will expand the scope of new drug-delivery systems in the future.

Section 3

A Bright Future Ahead for Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

The upshot of this Blog is to report that the future of cancer diagnosis and treatment looks very bright and promising. The thrust of this article is really about nanotechnology in medicine. The use of nanotechnology in medicine offers some exciting possibilities. Some techniques are only imagined, while others are at various stages of testing, or actually being used today.

Nanotechnology in medicine involves various applications of nanoparticles that are currently under development. Long term research involves the use of manufactured nano-robots. Their purpose is to make repairs at the cellular level (How exciting is that idea!).

// // Whatever you call it, the use of nanotechnology in the field of medicine could revolutionize the way we detect and treat damage to the human body and disease in the future, and many techniques only imagined a few years ago are making remarkable progress towards becoming realities.

Nanotechnology in Medicine Application: Drug Delivery

As I said earlier, one application of nanotechnology in medicine currently being developed involves employing nanoparticles to deliver drugs, but also heat, light or other substances to specific types of cells (such as cancer cells). Particles are engineered so that they are attracted to diseased cells which allow direct treatment of those cells. This technique reduces damage to healthy cells in the body and allows for earlier detection of disease.

// // Tests are in progress for targeted delivery of chemotherapy drugs and their final approval for their use with cancer patients is pending, as explained on CytImmune Science’s website. CytImmune has published the preliminary results of a Phase I Clinical Trial of their first targeted chemotherapy drug. For example, nanoparticles that deliver chemotherapy drugs directly to cancer.

Many researchers attach ethylene glycol molecules to nanoparticles that deliver therapeutic drugs to cancer tumors. The ethylene glycol molecules stop white blood cells from recognizing the nanoparticles as foreign materials, allowing them to circulate in the blood stream long enough to attach to cancer tumors. However, researchers at the University of California, San Diego believe that they can increase the time nanoparticles can circulate in the blood stream. They are coating nanoparticles containing therapeutic drugs with membranes from red blood cells and have shown that these nanoparticles will circulate in a mouse’s blood stream for almost two days, instead of the few hours observed for nanoparticles using ethylene glycol molecules.

Researchers are also continuing to look for more effective methods to target nanoparticles carrying therapeutic drugs directly to diseased cells. For example scientists are MIT have demonstrated increased levels of drug delivery to tumors by using two types of nanoparticles. The first type of nanoparticle locates the cancer tumor and the second type of nanoparticle (carrying the therapeutic drugs) homes in on a signal generated by the first type of nanoparticle (I thought this was brilliant).

If you hate getting shots, you’ll be glad to hear that oral administration for drugs that are currently delivered by injection may be possible in many cases. The drug is encapsulated in a nanoparticle which helps it pass through the stomach to deliver the drug into the bloodstream. There are efforts underway to develop oral administration of several different drugs using a variety of nanoparticles. A company which has progressed to the clinical testing stage with a drug for treating systemic fungal diseases is BioDelivery Sciences, which is using a nanoparticle called a cochleate.

Nanotechnology in Medicine Application: Therapy Techniques

What are some of the applications of nanotechnology related to therapy techniques? The following are some of the greatest scientific therapies currently being worked on:

  • Buckyballs that are used to trap free radicals generated during an allergic reaction and block the inflammation that results from an allergic reaction.
  • Nanoshells may be used to concentrate the heat from infrared light to destroy cancer cells with minimal damage to surrounding healthy cells. Nanospectra Biosciences has developed such a treatment using nanoshells illuminated by an infra laser that has been approved for a pilot trial with human patients.
  • Nanoparticles, when activated by x-rays, generate electrons that cause the destruction of cancer cells to which they have attached themselves. This is intended to be used in place of radiation therapy with much less damage to healthy tissue. Nanobiotix has released preclinical results for this technique.
  • Aluminosilicate nanoparticles can more quickly reduce bleeding in trauma patients by absorbing water, causing blood in a wound to clot quickly. Z-Medica is producing a medical gauze that uses aluminosilicate nanoparticles.
  • Nanofibers can stimulate the production of cartilage in damaged joints.
  • Nanoparticles may be used, when inhaled, to stimulate an immune response to fight respiratory viruses.

Nanotechnology in Medicine Application: Diagnostic and Imaging Techniques

Quantum Dots (qdots) may be used in the future for locating cancer tumors in patients and in the near term for performing diagnostic tests in samples. Invitrogen’s website provides information about qdots that are available for both uses, although at this time the use “in vivo” (in a living creature) is limited to experiments with lab animals. There can be a concern for toxicity based on the material quantum dots are made from. Because of this there is restriction involving the use of quantum dots in human patients. However, work is being done with quantum dots composed of silicon, which is believed to be less toxic than the cadmium contained in many quantum dots.

Iron oxide nanoparticles can also be used to improve MRI images of cancer tumors. The nanoparticle is coated with a peptide that binds to a cancer tumor, once the nanoparticles are attached to the tumor the magnetic property of the iron oxide enhances the images from the Magnetic Resonance Imagining scan.

Nanoparticles can attach to proteins or other molecules, allowing detection of disease indicators in a lab sample at a very early stage. There are several efforts to develop nanoparticle disease detection systems underway. One system being developed by Nanosphere, Inc. uses gold nanoparticles. Nanosphere has clinical study results with their Verigene system involving it’s ability to detect four different nucleic acids, while another system being developed by T2 Biosystems uses magnetic nanoparticles to identify specimens, including proteins, nucleic acids, and other materials.

Gold nanoparticles that have antibodies attached can provide quick diagnosis of the flu virus. When light is directed on a sample containing virus particles and the nanoparticles the amount of light reflected back increases because the nanoparticles cluster around virus particles, allowing a much faster test than those currently used.

Nanotechnology in Medicine Application: Anti-Microbial Techniques

One of the earliest nanomedicine applications was the use of nanocrystalline silver which is as an antimicrobial agent for the treatment of wounds, as discussed on the Nucryst Pharmaceutical website.

A nanoparticle cream has been shown to fight staph infections. The nanoparticles contain nitric oxide gas, which is known to kill bacteria. Studies on mice have shown that using the nanoparticle cream to release nitric oxide gas at the site of staph abscesses significantly reduced the infection.

Burn dressing that is coated with nanocapsules containing antibiotics. If an infection starts the harmful bacteria in the wound causes the nanocapsules to break open, releasing the antibotics. This allows much quicker treatment of an infection and reduces the number of times a dressing has to be changed.

A welcome idea in the early study stages is the elimination of bacterial infections in a patient within minutes, instead of delivering treatment with antibiotics over a period of weeks. You can read about design analysis for the antimicrobial nanorobot used in such treatments in the following article: Microbivors: Artificial Mechanical Phagocytes using Digest and Discharge Protocol.

Nanotechnology in Medicine Application: Cell Repair

Nanorobots could actually be programmed to repair specific diseased cells, functioning in a similar way to antibodies in our natural healing processes. Work is currently being done in a fantastic area of medicine. And that is the use of nanorobots in chromosome repair therapy.

Conclusions

These are exciting times to live in. Twenty years from now many of you reading this Blog may not be alive. But those of us who are older can take comfort in the knowledge that the health and well-being of our children and grandchildren does indeed look very promising. The scientific revolution rolls on, and society will certainly be a beneficiary from all of it.

 

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The Vegan Diet—One Year Later

Discussion and Results

 

Lobbyists in Washington are working very hard, on behalf of certain industries (dairy, cattle, fast foods, etc.) to keep things as they are and maintain a policy of praying at the altar of the all-mighty dollar. Your health and well-being isn’t even a tertiary consideration among lobbyists or industry executives.

—RVL

 

Introduction

In this Blog I will present information on what a Vegan diet is all about, its benefits, and my personal experience and results of following this diet for one year.

One January 7, 2011 I launched a nutritionally sound, true Vegan Diet (no beef, chicken, fish, or dairy). One of the things that led me to this diet is medical problems I’ve encountered in my life. It was my firm belief that the Vegan diet would improve my health.

Before immediately getting to the results, I’ll tell you that I’ve been engaged in a 20+ year battle with Type II Diabetes. Also, in June 2012 I will be an 8 year survivor of kidney cancer.  I’ll report below in Connections my background with diabetes and, in a final section, report my overall results.

First, I will refresh everyone’s memory as to what a Vegan diet is—and its benefits. Secondly, I will discuss my background in Connections. I will then provide details on what did and did not result from my Vegan diet. Being objective, I can clearly report that the Vegan diet has both plusses and minuses.

 

 

What is a true Vegan Diet?

 

So, what is the Vegan Diet in a Nutshell?

 

FOODS TO AVOID

 

Meats

Poultry

Fish

ALL Dairy Products

     Eggs (Yolks and Whites)

     Milk, Yogurt, Cheese, Cream, Sour Cream, and Butter

     Oil, Mayo, Margarine, Cooking Oils

    Fried Foods (French Fries, Onion Rings, Potato Chips, Avocadoes, Olives, and Peanut Butter

 

All High Glycemic Foods (Rated over 70) i.e., no White Bread or White Potatoes

Keep Rated Glycemic Foods, 55 or less on the Glycemic Index

 

 

WHAT TO EAT

 

Grains

 

One should eat Whole Grain Pasta; Brown Rice; Bran Cereal; Oatmeal; Pumpernickel or Rye Bread; Couscous; Bulgur Wheat; Millet; and Barley.

 

Eight servings per day are recommended.

 

 

Legumes

Beans (black, pinto, or kidney beans; Chickpeas; Baked beans; Soy beans, Peas, Split peas, Lentils, Fat-free soy products; Fat-free unsweetened soy milk; Fat-free veggie burgers; Textured vegetable protein; and Fat-free Tofu.

 

 Three suggested servings per day

 

 

Vegetables

Sweet potatoes; Broccoli; Cauliflower; Spinach; Kale; Collards; Squash; Green beans; Bok Choy; Artichokes; Choose those with a low GI.

 

Four suggested servings per day.

 

 

Fruits

Apples, bananas, grapes, pears, peaches, oranges, kiwifruit, berries, etc. Choose those with a low GI.

 

Three suggested servings per day.

 

 

 

Risk Factors

 

The old stereotype of the person vulnerable to developing diabetes for many years was the notion that only young people developed Type I diabetes (called juvenile onset diabetes) and older, middle-aged and overweight individuals who led sedentary lives usually developed Type II (adult onset diabetes), sometimes thought to be a less serious form of the disease than Type I. Today we know that both Type I and Type II Diabetes can strike anyone and both types are serious. You can have an 11 year old with Type II Diabetes and an adult who is first diagnosed Type I at 42

In the following section I will describe what the benefits are from eating a true Vegan diet.  

57 Health Benefits of Going Vegan

Vegans are frequently misunderstood as fringe eaters with an unnatural passion for animal rights. While many vegans do feel passionately about animals, its time for others to see that a vegan diet and lifestyle go way beyond animal rights. Following a healthy, balanced vegan diet ensures a host of health benefits as well as prevention of some of the major diseases striking people in North America. Read the following to find out  the health benefits of going vegan.

Nutrition

All of the following nutritional benefits come from a vegan diet full of foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, and soy products.

  1. Reduced saturated fats. Dairy products and meats contain a large amount of  saturated fats. By reducing the amount of saturated fats from your diet, you’ll improve your health tremendously, especially when it comes to cardiovascular health.
  2. Carbohydrates.  Carbohydrates provide energy for your body. When you don’t have enough carbohydrates, your body will burn muscle tissue.
  3. Fiber. A  diet high in fiber (as vegan eating usually is) leads to healthier bowel movements. High fiber diets help fight against colon cancer.
  4. Magnesium.  Aiding in the absorption of calcium, magnesium is an often overlooked vitamin in importance to a healthy diet. Nuts, seeds, and dark leafy greens are an excellent source of magnesium.
  5. Potassium.    Potassium balances water and acidity in your body and stimulates the  kidneys to eliminate toxins. Diets high in potassium have shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
  6. Folate. This B vitamin is an important part of a healthy diet. Folate helps with cell repair, generating red and white blood cells, and metabolizing amino acids.
  7. Antioxidants. For protection against cell damage, antioxidants are one of the best ways to help your body. Many researchers also believe that antioxidants help protect your body against forming some types of cancer.
  8. Vitamin C. Besides boosting your immune system, Vitamin C also helps keep your gums healthy and helps your bruises heal faster. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant.
  9. Vitamin E.  This powerful vitamin has benefits for your heart, skin, eyes, brain, and may even help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. A diet high in grains, nuts, and dark leafy greens is full of Vitamin E.
  10. Phytochemicals.  Plant-based foods provide phytochemicals, which help to prevent and heal the body from cancer, boost protective enzymes, and work with antioxidants in the body.
  11. Protein. That protein is good for your body is no surprise. It may be a surprise to learn that most Americans eat too much protein and in forms such as red meat that are not healthy ways of getting protein. Beans, nuts, peas, lentils, and soy products are all great ways to get the right amount of protein in a vegan diet.

Disease Prevention

Eating a healthy vegan diet has shown to prevent a number of diseases. Find out from the list below what you could potentially avoid just by switching to a healthy, balanced vegan way of eating.

  1. Cardiovascular disease. Eating nuts and whole grains, while eliminating dairy products and meat, will improve your cardiovascular health. A British study indicates that a vegan diet reduces the risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Vegan diets go far in preventing heart attack and stroke.
  2. Cholesterol. Eliminating any food that comes from an animal and you will eliminate all dietary cholesterol from your diet. Your heart will thank you for that.
  3. Blood pressure. A diet rich in whole grains is beneficial to your health in many ways, including lowering high blood pressure.
  4. Type 2 diabetes.  Not only is a vegan diet a weapon against Type 2 diabetes, it is also “easier to follow than the standard diet recommended by the American Diabetic Association.”
  5. Prostate cancer. A major study showed that men in the early stages of prostate cancer who switched to a vegan diet either stopped the progress of the cancer or may have even reversed the illness.
  6. Colon cancer. Eating a diet consisting of whole grains, along with  fresh fruits and vegetables, can greatly reduce your chances of colon cancer.
  7. Breast cancer. Countries where women eat very little meat and animal products have a much lower rate of breast cancer than do the women in countries that consume more animal products.
  8. Macular degeneration. Diets with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes, can help prevent the onset of  age-related macular degeneration.
  9. Cataracts. Much the same way macular degeneration is headed off by a vegan diet, cataracts are also thought to be prevented through the intake of the same fruits and vegetables. Produce high in antioxidants are also believed to help prevent cataracts.
  10. Arthritis. Eliminating dairy consumption has long been connected with alleviating arthritis symptoms, but a new study indicates that a combination of gluten-free and vegan diet is very promising for improving the health of those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
  11. Osteoporosis. Bone health depends on a balance of neither too much nor too little protein, adequate calcium intake, high potassium, and low sodium. With a healthy vegan diet, all four of these points set a perfect scenario for preventing osteoporosis.

Physical Benefits

In addition to good nutrition and disease prevention, eating vegan also provides many physical benefits. Find out how a vegan diet makes your body stronger, more attractive, and more energetic.

  1. Body Mass Index. Several population studies show that a diet without meat leads to lower  BMIs–usually an indicator of a healthy weight and lack of fat on the body.
  2. Weight loss. A healthy weight loss is a typical result of a smart vegan diet. Eating vegan eliminates most of the unhealthy foods that tend to cause weight issues.
  3. Energy. When following a healthy vegan diet, you will find your energy is much higher. T he blog post in Happy Healthy Long Life describes how NFL tight-end Tony Gonzalez started eating vegan and gained energy–while playing football.
  4. Healthy skin. The nuts and vitamins A and E from vegetables play a big role in healthy skin, so vegans will usually have good skin health. Many people who switch to a vegan diet will notice a remarkable reduction in blemishes as well.
  5. Longer life. Several studies indicate that those following a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle live an average of three to six years longer than those who do not.
  6. Body odor. Eliminating dairy and red meat from the diet significantly reduces body odor. Going vegan means smelling better.
  7. Bad breath. Vegans frequently experience a reduction in bad breath. Imagine waking up in the morning and not having morning breath.
  8. Hair. Many who follow vegan diets report that their hair becomes stronger, has more body, and looks healthier.
  9. Nails. Healthy vegan diets are also responsible for much stronger, healthier nails. Nail health is said to be an indicator of overall health.
  10. PMS. When switching to a vegan diet, many women tell how PMS symptoms become much less intense or disappear altogether. The elimination of dairy is thought to help with those suffering with PMS.
  11. Migraines. Migraine sufferers who go on vegan diets frequently discover relief from their migraines.
  12. Allergies. Reduction in dairy, meat, and eggs is often tied to alleviation of allergy symptoms. Many vegans report much fewer runny noses and congestion problems.

Too Much in the American Diet

The typical American diet not only consists of too much food, it also relies on too much of unnecessary food products or toxins. The following list explains how a vegan diet can eliminate these problems.

  1. Animal proteins. The average American eats twice as much protein as necessary for a healthy diet and much of that is from red meat. Getting protein from beans and grains is much healthier and reduces the risk for osteoporosis (see above).
  2. Cow’s milk dairy. The human body is not designed to digest cow milk and cow milk dairy products, yet the idea of milk being healthy is pushed through advertising. As many as 75% of people in the world may be lactose intolerant and many people suffer from undiagnosed milk allergies or sensitivities. By eliminating cow’s milk from your diet, you are improving your overall health.
  3. Eggs. Many nutritionists believe that the number of eggs in the American diet is too high. While sometimes disputed, it has been shown that eggs can raise cholesterol levels.
  4. Mercury. Most of the fish and shellfish consumed have mercury in it. While some fish have less than others, it is almost impossible not to be putting mercury in your body when you eat fish.
  5. Sugar. Most people have heard that Americans consume way too much sugar. Relying on other sweeteners that are not synthetic, processed, or derived from animal products is a healthier way to eat. Many vegans do not eat processed sugar due to the fact that most of the cane sugar is refined through activated charcoal, most of which comes from animal bones.

 

Other Benefits

In addition to the health benefits above, following a vegan lifestyle and diet also provides these benefits as well. From helping the environment to avoiding serious bacterial infections, learn other benefits to eating the vegan way below.

  1. Animals. Many people begin a vegan diet out of concern for animals. Whether opposed to the conditions of animals intended for food or eating animals in general, going vegan will help your conscience rest easily.
  2. Environment. Growing plants takes much fewer resources than growing animals. By eating vegan, you can help reduce the toll on the environment.
  3. E. coli. E. coli comes from eating contaminated red meat and is the leading cause of bloody diarrhea. Young children, those with compromised immune systems, and elderly people can become extremely ill or die from E. coli. Eating vegan means completely avoiding the risk of E. coli infection.
  4. Salmonella. Another gastrointestinal illness from animal products, salmonella food poisoning is closely related to E. coli. The most frequent way people contract salmonella food poisoning is through contact with raw eggs or raw chicken meat from chickens infected with salmonella. Again, going vegan means eliminating this risk altogether.
  5. Mad cow disease. It’s safe to say that most people would want to avoid contracting a fatal, non-treatable disease. One way to ensure you don’t get Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is by not eating animals infected with mad cow disease. While the incidence of mad cow disease is not reportedly so high inNorth America, it does exist.
  6. Global food supply. Feeding grain to animals meant as food sources reduces the amount of food that is available to underdeveloped nations. Many people will go hungry while that same food they could be eating is given to animals raised for slaughter. Eating vegan ensures that you have removed yourself from the participation of this imbalance.
  7. Hormone consumption. Eating animals that have been given hormones to speed growth (a common practice in the meat industry) means those hormones go into your body. Not only can this disrupt the natural balance of your hormones, but some of the hormones given to animals have shown to cause tumor growth in humans.
  8. Antibiotics. Antibiotics are frequently given to feed animals, which can lead to bacterial resistance. Many of the antibiotics used to treat human infections are also used in feed animals.

Healthy Eating

A vegan diet can be a much healthier way to eat. Find out how to combine the vegan diet with other ways of eating for an even more healthy way to go, or discover ways to keep your vegan diet healthy but more convenient with the resources below.

  1. Raw. A raw diet lends itself to veganism by the very nature of its design. Find out how to combine live and vegan diets with Raw Inspirations.
  2. Organic. Eating organic and vegan is super easy to do. Search for websites that will explain how to eat vegan and organic.
  3. Fat-free. Vegan eating is typically pretty low in fats anyway, but the FatFree Vegan Kitchen shows you how to make some delicious vegan food that is always fat free.
  4. Gluten-free. Due to allergies, Celiac’s Disease, or whatever your reason you avoid gluten, find out how to combine the best of gluten-free with vegan cooking in the Glutin-Free Vegan blog.
  5. Eating out. Eating out isn’t usually associated with eating healthy, but a vegan diet ensures there will be a lot less of the bad things in the food you choose.
  6. Lunch. Maintaining a vegan diet means you are likely to take your lunch more often than most people. Vegan Lunch Box offers recipes, tools, and ideas for carrying great vegan lunches every day.
  7. Dinner. Coming up with new dinner ideas are challenging for everyone–regardless of what type of diet you follow. Check out this amazing selection of vegan dinner recipes accompanied with mouth-watering photos of each preparation on Dinner with Dilip.
  8. Dessert. While not all the recipes on My Sweet Vegan are for dessert, you will find a large selection of sweet vegan recipes with the most delicious-looking photos.
  9. Wine. Pairing vegan food with wine may be challenging for those who rely on the old standard of “white with fish and red with meat.” You can combine with a vegan diet with no difficulty. You might want to avoid the sweet wines however.
  10. Fun. These ladies know how to kick it with vegan cooking. Post Punk Kitchen offers some great recipes with a ton of fun infused in them. Be sure to go through the archives for more yummy food ideas.

 

Connections

I have a family history of diabetes.  My father had diabetes (he died at 57 in 1963) and my older brother (age 74) still has diabetes. In terms of pre-diabetes, I was 37 years old when a test for glucose tolerance first revealed there was something wrong with my body’s ability to control blood glucose, i.e., blood sugar. This news gave me ample warning that one day I might develop diabetes. Nevertheless, I was slow to react to the news. I didn’t do anything in response to it like suddenly engage in daily exercise, or convert immediately to a more healthy diet. Instead, I continued on my “Fat-food Buffet of Life” with my own special, “See Food diet” i.e., whenever I saw food— I ate it. Eleven years later in 1991 at the age of 48, I paid the ultimate price—I was officially diagnosed with Type II diabetes.

 

I cleaned up my act for six weeks then fell back upon old habits. In the early to mid-1990s I struggled with seriously coming to grips with my own “up and down” approach to diet and exercise. I had all the excuses, and was lying to myself regarding my efforts to fight this disease. I was constantly struggling with inconsistency in both proper diet and exercise. And such inconsistency led to improvement one month, only to be followed by less successful control the next. As a result, in 1999, I finally had to go on medication (oral hypoglycemics) to get my blood sugar under better control. And, indeed, the medications actually did a very good job in helping me to maintain better blood sugar control. In August 2002 I did have to go on insulin—a real pain in the ass, but absolutely necessary to maintain good blood sugar control.

By this time I was actively engaged in utilizing the American Diabetes Association’s standard diet which emphasized a low-fat, more complex carbohydrate diet. That was a step in the right direction (along with the medications) as it brought my HA1c down from a range of 8.5 to 9 to a better level, 7.5. However, animal protein was still part of the menu (generally, lean cuts of meat, as well as fish and chicken). And, in many recipes it still called for dairy products like eggs, cheese, yogurt and milk (my preference 1%).

In 2006, I started a low carbohydrate diet and would eat in restaurants a lot less often. I started to lose weight 8-12 lbs and was feeling I was really on the right track. My HA1c was bouncing up and down between 7.0 and 7.3. Nevertheless, up until August of 2009, I was still a couch-potato. I started a program of walking 30 minutes a day 5-6 times a week. Where I live there is a beautiful park so it was very pleasant to use the park as my walking course. In January 2010, I began to expand my exercise horizons. That is, I became a member of USA Track & Field and became actively involved in the Master’s Senior Olympics. I still continued, despite the low-carb diet, to use recipes that called for animal protein and fat along with additional fat consumption via the dairy products that I loved so much.

At the end of 2010 I was getting in good physical condition, but I was still eating a less than optimal diet that included meats, chicken, fish, and dairy products. I bought and read a book on reversing diabetes from a vegan diet. At the beginning of 2011—I became a Vegan. It was new to me, but it is a very ancient approach where plant protein sources are the mainstay of eating, not animal sources of protein. Instead of using the old food pyramid—the Vegan diet utilizes just four food groups: grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits.

A Vegan diet is a stricter form of Vegetarianism, as the latter is a matter of degree to which certain foods are included or excluded regarding animal protein and various dairy products. Typical might be the ovo-vegetarian where all meat, fish, and fowl are excluded, however, milk, cheese, and eggs might still be included in the diet.

The name of the book I read in late 2010 was, “Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes.” This book will provide one with all the detail one needs (including the valuable research on which the book’s recommendations is based) in order to get started with a Vegan diet. And, as always, see your physician before embarking on any serious changes to your diet or activity level.

I want to add that it is also important for the general public as well (not just diabetics) to consider making dietary changes to the Western diet and way of eating. The health of the nation may well depend heavily upon making changes to the way we approach eating food.

Lobbyists in Washington are working very hard, on behalf of certain industries (dairy, cattle, fast foods, etc.) to keep things as they are and maintain a policy of praying at the altar of the all-mighty dollar. Your health and well-being isn’t even a tertiary consideration among lobbyists or industry executives.

For hundreds of years diabetes was thought to be a very mysterious disease whose causes were unknown. Doctors, other health professionals, and those affected by the disease (including close family members) saw the havoc diabetes had on the lives of millions of people; but understanding how this disease comes about and how the human body works was quite another matter. However, in the last 10-15 years our knowledge on the causes of diabetes is beginning to form a picture. As said before, research is the major key to unlocking the mystery of diabetes. While not all pieces of the puzzle are known at the biochemical, cellular, and genetic levels, research continues to unravel the complexity of this disease.

 

 

Results of the Vegan Diet One Year Later

 

During my first year experience with the Vegan Diet, I went from 268 lbs (I’m 6’-3”) down to 250 lbs—a net loss of 18 lbs. My weight fluctuated up and down during the year as expected, but overall the direction was primarily down. The primary reason for the weight loss was severe restriction of the saturated and overall fat content in my Vegan diet, and a corresponding increase of lean body mass through exercise (4 days a week) in my track and field USA Master’s program.

 What I’d prefer to do with the rest of the Blog is, as they say, cut to the chase.

 

For me, I lost about 1+1/2 lbs a week for the first four months, or approximately 22 lbs. overall. Then my weight seemed to stabilize for most of the rest of the year, losing a few more lbs then gaining them back.

There were two criteria I used to evaluate whether my health was improving and whether this journey into becoming a Vegan was reversing my diabetes: My Lipid Profile and the HA1c.

Often my doctor orders, among many other tests, a Lipid Panel in order to develop a profile of different types of fat in my bloodstream. This consists of obtaining measures of total cholesterol, triglycerides, low-density (LDL) and high-density (HDL) cholesterol.The health standard they use for the general population is as follows: Cholesterol should be below 239 mg/dl, Triglyceride should be below 199 mg/dl, HDL greater than 40 mg/dl in males, and greater than 45mg/dl in females, and LDL should be less than 129 mg/dl. For diabetics and heart patients one’s LDL should be less than 100, preferably down into the 70s. And, total cholesterol in diabetics should be at 200, or less.

At the beginning of 2011 my Lipid Profile was already outstanding, exceeding the above standards of the medical community. My Total Cholesterol was 139, HDL was 45, LDL was 67, and Triglycerides were 135. This Lipid Profile was not much different from my profile in 2010. However, you must understand that diet alone does not explain these numbers by themselves since exercise, insulin I take twice a day, and hypoglycemic medications all influenced the results. They are what we call in the research trade “confounding variables.” One would have to conduct a controlled experiment (isolating the effects of the independent variable (meaning diet alone) to get really definitive answers. I am just one person; there is no way to be certain here. So view all of this for what it is: just a biographical sketch of one person’s experience with the Vegan diet. So, please don’t try generalizing these results to the larger picture of the Vegan diet.

My Personal Evaluation

The Vegan diet has been a wonderful experience, and I will continue with it for the rest of my life.

I’m happy with the loss of 18 lbs. However, it must be remembered that a healthy increase in lean body mass can actually increase one’s weight as the muscles get larger, but in my case the Vegan Diet more than compensated for any off-setting increases in lean muscle weight due to my exercise regimen.

I experienced at a personal level great satisfaction with the vegan foods. I suspect the increase in fiber content of my Vegan diet produced a more satisfying, pleasant experience. Eating lots of beans, peas, lentils, and rye bread with soy butter is just one example. During the summer months there is no better food on the planet than a perfectly sweet cantaloupe that is ripe with lots of juicy flavor. The meals I made were not only satisfying but filling as well. This impacted me in the late afternoon when I typically had a need to snack. With the increased fiber my brain and body wasn’t telling me that I was hungry at say,4:00 p.m.in the late afternoon.

While I never gave a single thought to doing without beef, chicken, or fish, giving up eggs and milk seemed difficult at first. However, in less than two weeks I gave little thought to giving up my 1% milk because I discovered I really like soy and almond milk (both chocolate and vanilla). Eggs I eventually stopped missing, but I have to warn you. You must read the labels on packaged or canned foods at all times.

 

You’d be surprised how many times egg and milk by-products surreptitiously slip into a food. Even in the so-called health food section—you must keep your wits where reading labels and selecting foods is concerned. Also, just because the section is the health section, it doesn’t mean the foods are all calorie-free. One can gain weight even with a healthy diet. Portion control is still important.

I also took the opportunity during this last year to give up artificial sweeteners.

RESULTS

 

Lipid Panel

Nine months into my Vegan diet my results were as follows:

Total Cholesterol was 161

Triglycerides were 102

HDL was 49

LDL was 92

On my Vegan diet Total Cholesterol and LDL was actually higher than at the beginning of 2011. Two areas where the Vegan diet was better for me were Triglycerides at 102 versus 135 and HDL at 49 versus 45. My scientific guess here is that the marked decrease in Triglycerides was due to the strict restriction of saturated fats and other fats.

HA1c

The average HA1c for 2010 was 7.24. The average HA1c in 2011 was 7.70. It is clear that my Vegan diet while helping me to lose weight, and maintain a decent Lipid Profile—did not reverse my diabetes.

Conclusions

Thus, for me, this diet has its plusses and minuses. I lost a fair amount of weight, and maintained a very good Lipid Profile. Reducing saturated fats in a diet will tend to produce the positive nature of my results. To that extent the Vegan diet was good for me. Why it did not reverse my diabetes I do not know at this time. Diabetes is, of course, a very complex disease. The many factors generally involved include diet, genetics and family history, exercise and medication. And there are many other factors including age, type of diabetes, and how long one has had the disease.

The fact that it did not result in reversing diabetes means a lot remains to be learned about diabetes and perhaps the need for massive studies (like the famous Framingham Heart Study) or the DCCT (Diabetes Control and Complications Trial).

Read Full Post »

 

INTRODUCTION

 This is Part II of a two part series on Diabetes in America. Part I looked at types of diabetes, my personal experience with the disease, epidemiology of diabetes including its prevalence in various population groups, and the root causes of the disease. In Part II the nature of the Vegan Diet will be explored, how it differs from other types of vegetarian diets, and most importantly—the benefits of a Vegan diet. Changing eating habits can be a difficult job; please keep an open mind to the idea and process of change.

 

THE VEGAN DIET IN A NUTSHELL

The following provides the particulars of the diet:

 

FOODS TO AVOID

Meats

Poultry

Fish

All Dairy Products

     Eggs (Yolks and whites)

     Milk, Yogurt, Cheese, Cream, Sour Cream, and Butter

     Oil, Mayo, Margarine, Cooking Oils

Fried Foods (French Fries, Onion Rings, Potato Chips, Avocadoes, Olives, and  Peanut Butter

All High Glycemic Foods (Rated over 70) i.e., no White Bread or White Potatoes

WHAT TO EAT

Grains

 

One should eat Whole Grain Pasta; Brown Rice; Bran Cereal; Oatmeal; Pumpernickel or Rye Bread; Couscous; Bulgur Wheat; Millet; and Barley. Eight servings per day are recommended.

 

Legumes

Beans (Black, Pinto, or Kidney beans; Chickpeas; Baked beans; Soy beans, Peas, Split peas, Lentils, Fat-free soy products; Fat-free unsweetened soy milk; Fat-free veggie burgers; Textured vegetable protein; Fat-free Tofu; Three suggested servings per day

 

Vegetables

Sweet potatoes; Broccoli; Cauliflower; Spinach; Kale; Collards; Squash; Green beans; Bok Choy; Artichokes; Choose those with a low GI. Four suggested servings per day.

 

Fruits

Apples, Bananas, Grapes, Pears, Peaches, Oranges, Kiwifruit, Berries, etc. Choose those with a low GI. Three suggested servings per day.

 

Keep Glycemic Foods that are rated 55 or less (provided they contain no fat).

 

TYPES OF VEGETARIANS

There is a lot of confusion among the general public as to what vegetarianism is all about. This widespread confusion seems to arise primarily because there are so many types of vegetarians, some of whom are not well known. Some of these include: Flexitarians (people who like vegetarian foods, but eat meat occasionally), raw-food diet enthusiasts where food isn’t cooked above 115 degrees Celsius, and Pescatarians (they avoid meat and all animal flesh but they eat fish). There are also the macrobiotic diet followers where sea vegetables and Asian vegetables are promoted, while all sugar and refined oils are avoided. I would be content if you remember just three basic types of vegetarians: Lacto-vegetarians, Ovo-vegetarians, and Vegans.

When most people think of vegetarians, they think of lacto-ovo-vegetarians: People who do not eat beef, pork, poultry, fish, shellfish or animal flesh of any kind, but do eat eggs and dairy products. “Lacto” comes from the Latin for milk, and “ovo” for egg. This is the most common type of vegetarian in North America.

Lacto-vegetarian is used to describe a vegetarian who does not eat eggs, but does eat dairy products. Many Hindu vegetarians are lacto-vegetarians who avoid eggs for religious reasons while continuing to eat dairy.

Ovo-vegetarian refers to people who do not eat meat or dairy products but do eat eggs. Some people are ovo-vegetarians because they are lactose-intolerant.

Vegan-vegetarian refers to people who do not eat meat of any kind and also do not eat eggs, dairy products, or processed foods containing these or other animal-derived ingredients such as gelatin. Many vegans also refrain from eating foods that are made using animal products that may not contain animal products in the finished process, such as sugar and some wines. There is some debate as to whether certain foods, such as honey, fit into a vegan diet. If you are a diabetic vegan you must consider the effect of honey on your blood sugar. The diabetic should look to the Glycemic Index to see where honey fits in. If a vegan is not diabetic, he or she may well consider the use of honey in a vegan diet.

What follows are the benefits one might obtain from going Vegan.

 

57 Health Benefits of Going Vegan

Vegans are frequently misunderstood as fringe eaters with an unnatural passion for animal rights. While many vegans do feel passionately about animals, its time for others to see that a vegan diet and lifestyle go way beyond animal rights. Following a healthy, balanced vegan diet ensures a host of health benefits as well as prevention of some of the major diseases striking people in North America.

Nutrition

All of the following nutritional benefits come from a vegan diet full of foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, and soy products.

  1. Reduced saturated fats. Dairy products and meats contain a large amount of saturated fats. By reducing the amount of saturated fats from your diet, you’ll improve your health tremendously, especially when it comes to cardiovascular health.
  2. Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide energy for your body. When you don’t have enough carbohydrates, your body will burn muscle tissue.
  3. Fiber. A diet high in fiber (as vegan eating usually is) leads to healthier bowel movements. High fiber diets help fight against colon cancer.
  4. Magnesium. Aiding in the absorption of calcium, magnesium is an often overlooked vitamin in importance to a healthy diet. Nuts, seeds, and dark leafy greens are an excellent source of magnesium.
  5. Potassium. Potassium balances water and acidity in your body and stimulates the kidneys to eliminate toxins. Diets high in potassium have shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
  6. Folate. This B vitamin is an important part of a healthy diet. Folate helps with cell repair, generating red and white blood cells, and metabolizing amino acids.
  7. Antioxidants. For protection against cell damage, antioxidants are one of the best ways to help your body. Many researchers also believe that antioxidants help protect your body against forming some types of cancer.
  8. Vitamin C. Besides boosting your immune system, Vitamin C also helps keep your gums healthy and helps your bruises heal faster. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant.
  9. Vitamin E. This powerful vitamin has benefits for your heart, skin, eyes, brain, and may even help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. A diet high in grains, nuts, and dark leafy greens is full of Vitamin E.
  10. Phytochemicals. Plant-based foods provide phytochemicals, which help to prevent and heal the body from cancer, boost protective enzymes, and work with antioxidants in the body.
  11. Protein. That protein is good for your body is no surprise. It may be a surprise to learn that most Americans eat too much protein and in forms such as red meat that are not healthy ways of getting protein. Beans, nuts, peas, lentils, and soy products are all great ways to get the right amount of protein in a vegan diet.

Disease Prevention

Eating a healthy vegan diet has shown to prevent a number of diseases. Find out from the list below what you could potentially avoid just by switching to a healthy, balanced vegan way of eating.

  1. Cardiovascular disease. Eating nuts and whole grains, while eliminating dairy products and meat, will improve your cardiovascular health. A British study indicates that a vegan diet reduces the risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Vegan diets go far in preventing heart attack and stroke.
  2. Cholesterol. Eliminating any food that comes from an animal and you will eliminate all dietary cholesterol from your diet. Your heart will thank you for that.
  3. Blood pressure. A diet rich in whole grains is beneficial to your health in many ways, including lowering high blood pressure.
  4. Type 2 diabetes. Not only is a vegan diet a weapon against Type 2 diabetes, it is also “easier to follow than the standard diet recommended by the American Diabetic Association.”
  5. Prostate cancer. A major study showed that men in the early stages of prostate cancer who switched to a vegan diet either stopped the progress of the cancer or may have even reversed the illness.
  6. Colon cancer. Eating a diet consisting of whole grains, along with fresh fruits and vegetables, can greatly reduce your chances of colon cancer.
  7. Breast cancer. Countries where women eat very little meat and animal products have a much lower rate of breast cancer than do the women in countries that consume more animal products.
  8. Macular degeneration. Diets with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes, can help prevent the onset of age-related macular degeneration.
  9. Cataracts. Much the same way macular degeneration is headed off by a vegan diet, cataracts are also thought to be prevented through the intake of the same fruits and vegetables. Produce high in antioxidants are also believed to help prevent cataracts.
  10. Arthritis. Eliminating dairy consumption has long been connected with alleviating arthritis symptoms, but a new study indicates that a combination of gluten-free and vegan diet is very promising for improving the health of those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
  11. Osteoporosis. Bone health depends on a balance of neither too much nor too little protein, adequate calcium intake, high potassium, and low sodium. With a healthy vegan diet, all four of these points set a perfect scenario for preventing osteoporosis.

Physical Benefits

In addition to good nutrition and disease prevention, eating vegan also provides many physical benefits. Find out below how a vegan diet makes your body stronger, more attractive, and more energetic.

  1. Body Mass Index. Several population studies show that a diet without meat leads to lower BMIs–usually an indicator of a healthy weight and lack of fat on the body.
  2. Weight loss. A healthy weight loss is a typical result of a smart vegan diet. Eating vegan eliminates most of the unhealthy foods that tend to cause weight issues.
  3. Energy. When following a healthy vegan diet, you will find your energy is much higher. This blog post in Happy Healthy Long Life describes how NFL tight-end Tony Gonzalez started eating vegan and gained energy–while playing football.
  4. Healthy skin. The nuts and vitamins A and E from vegetables play a big role in healthy skin, so vegans will usually have good skin health. Many people who switch to a vegan diet will notice a remarkable reduction in blemishes as well.
  5. Longer life. Several studies indicate that those following a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle live an average of three to six years longer than those who do not.
  6. Body odor. Eliminating dairy and red meat from the diet significantly reduces body odor. Going vegan means smelling better.
  7. Bad breath. Vegans frequently experience a reduction in bad breath. Imagine waking up in the morning and not having morning breath.
  8. Hair. Many who follow vegan diets report that their hair becomes stronger, has more body, and looks healthier.
  9. Nails. Healthy vegan diets are also responsible for much stronger, healthier nails. Nail health is said to be an indicator of overall health.
  10. PMS. When switching to a vegan diet, many women tell how PMS symptoms become much less intense or disappear altogether. The elimination of dairy is thought to help with those suffering with PMS.
  11. Migraines. Migraine suffers who go on vegan diets frequently discover relief from their migraines.
  12. Allergies. Reduction in dairy, meat, and eggs is often tied to alleviation of allergy symptoms. Many vegans report much fewer runny noses and congestion problems.

Too Much in the American Diet

The typical American diet not only consists of too much food, it also relies on too much of unnecessary food products or toxins. The following list explains how a vegan diet can eliminate these problems.

  1. Animal proteins. The average American eats twice as much protein as necessary for a healthy diet and much of that is from red meat. Getting protein from beans and grains is much healthier and reduces the risk for osteoporosis (see above).
  2. Cow’s milk dairy. The human body is not designed to digest cow milk and cow milk dairy products, yet the idea of milk being healthy is pushed through advertising. As many as 75% of people in the world may be lactose intolerant and many people suffer from undiagnosed milk allergies or sensitivities. By eliminating cow’s milk from your diet, you are improving your overall health.
  3. Eggs. Many nutritionists believe that the number of eggs in the American diet is too high. While sometimes disputed, it has been shown that eggs can raise cholesterol levels.
  4. Mercury. Most of the fish and shellfish consumed has mercury in it. While some fish have less than others, it is almost impossible not to be putting mercury in your body when you eat fish.
  5. Sugar. Most people have heard that Americans consume way too much sugar. Relying on other sweeteners that are not synthetic, processed, or derived from animal products is a healthier way to eat. Many vegans do not eat processed sugar due to the fact that most of the cane sugar is refined through activated charcoal, most of which comes from animal bones.

Other Benefits

In addition to the health benefits above, following a vegan lifestyle and diet also provides these benefits as well. From helping the environment to avoiding serious bacterial infections, learn other benefits to eating the vegan way below.

  1. Animals. Many people begin a vegan diet out of concern for animals. Whether opposed to the conditions of animals intended for food or eating animals in general, going vegan will help your conscience rest easily.
  2. Environment. Growing plants takes much fewer resources than growing animals. By eating vegan, you can help reduce the toll on the environment.
  3. E. coli. E. Coli comes from eating contaminated red meat and is the leading cause of bloody diarrhea. Young children, those with compromised immune systems, and elderly people can become extremely ill or die from E. coli. Eating vegan means completely avoiding the risk of E. coli infection.
  4. Salmonella. Another gastrointestinal illness from animal products, salmonella food poisoning is closely related to E. coli. The most frequent way people contract salmonella food poisoning is through contact with raw eggs or raw chicken meat from chickens infected with salmonella. Again, going vegan means eliminating this risk altogether.
  5. Mad cow disease. It’s safe to say that most people would want to avoid contracting a fatal, non-treatable disease. One way to ensure you don’t get Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is by not eating animals infected with mad cow disease. While the incidence of mad cow disease is not reportedly so high in North America, it does exist.
  6. Global food supply. Feeding grain to animals meant as food sources reduces the amount of food that is available to underdeveloped nations. Many people will go hungry while that same food they could be eating is given to animals raised for slaughter. Eating vegan ensures that you have removed yourself from the participation of this imbalance.
  7. Hormone consumption. Eating animals that have been given hormones to speed growth (a common practice in the meat industry) means those hormones go into your body. Not only can this disrupt the natural balance of your hormones, but some of the hormones given to animals have shown to cause tumor growth in humans.
  8. Antibiotics. Antibiotics are frequently given to feed animals, which can lead to bacterial resistance. Many of the antibiotics used to treat human infections are also used in feed animals.

Healthy Eating

A vegan diet can be a much healthier way to eat. Find out how to combine the vegan diet with other ways of eating for an even more healthy way to go or discover ways to keep your vegan diet healthy but more convenient with the resources below.

  1. Raw. A raw diet lends itself to veganism by the very nature of its design. Find out how to combine live and vegan diets with Raw Inspirations.
  2. Organic. Eating organic and vegan is super easy to do. Search for some great ideas on how to live and eat organic and vegan. My suggestion—search the internet.
  3. Fat-free. Vegan eating is typically pretty low in fats anyway, but the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen shows you how to make some delicious vegan food that is always fat free.
  4. Gluten-free. Due to allergies, Celiac’s Disease, or whatever your reason you avoid gluten, find out how to combine the best of gluten-free with vegan cooking in the Gluten-Free blog..
  5. Eating out. Eating out isn’t usually associated with eating healthy, but a vegan diet ensures there will be a lot less of the bad things in the food you choose. Many restaurants post their menu on the outside. Before you enter check out the restaurant’s menu in detail. If in doubt—ask questions when ordering.
  6. Lunch. Maintaining a vegan diet means you are likely to take your lunch more often than most people. Vegan Lunch Box offers recipes, tools, and ideas for carrying great vegan lunches every day.
  7. Dinner. Coming up with new dinner ideas is challenging for everyone–regardless of what type of diet you follow. Check out this amazing selection of vegan dinner recipes accompanied with mouth-watering photos of each preparation on Dinner with Dilip.
  8. Dessert. While not all the recipes on My Sweet Vegan are for dessert, you will find a large selection of sweet vegan recipes with the most delicious-looking photos.
  9. Wine. Pairing vegan food with wine may be challenging for those who rely on the old standard of “white with fish and red with meat.”
  10. Fun. These ladies know how to kick it with vegan cooking. Post Punk Kitchen offers some great recipes with a ton of fun infused in them. Be sure to go through the archives for more yummy food ideas. 

 

Post Script

Part I and II of this series looked at Diabetes in America. Converting to a Vegan diet will be one of the best things you’ve ever accomplished. Change is always difficult and requires effort. Given that scientific research has found tremendous benefits from a Vegan diet, including three to six years of additional life expectancy, I think it’s fair to say that making that effort to a more healthy Vegan diet will be time well spent.

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