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A Sociological Look at Frailty and Aging

[A Three-Part Series]

Part II

Introduction

In Part II of this blog I am focusing on exercise and its impact on frailty and aging. Hopefully you are already in some program where you are exercising on a consistent basis. If not, then what follows in the way of research should give you all the motivation you need.

Background

To be sure, many older Americans continue to lead active and productive lives. However, the nation’s increasing longevity is bringing new challenges for health and social programs. Americans’ life span in 2009 was 78.5 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about three decades more life than in 1900, when the average was only 47.3 years.

“We’ve added 30 years to the human life span, which is an unparalleled success story for public health, medicine and education,” Fried says. “As a result, it is critically important that we help these people who are living longer stay healthy.”

Of those living alone or with families, not in nursing homes or hospitals, about 4 percent of men and 7 percent of women older than 65 were frail, according to the parameters used by Fried and her colleagues in the 2001 study. The researchers, who studied more than 5,000 adults aged 65 and older, also found that the chances of frailty rose sharply after age 85, to about 25 percent. These numbers, the most recent data available, reflected conditions prior to 2001, and leaving “an important but unanswered question as to whether the frequency of frailty is the same, increasing or decreasing” today, Fried said.

Also, women are more likely than men to be frail, possibly because women typically outlive men and “start out with less muscle mass than men and, once they lose it, they may cross the frailty threshold more rapidly than men,” Fried says.

Stephanie Studenski, principal investigator at the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center at the University of Pittsburgh, has been practicing in the geriatrics field for more than 30 years and sees “older people across the full spectrum, from frail 60-year-olds to vigorous 95-year-olds,” she says.

For the younger group, who usually are frail because of multiple chronic conditions, “sometimes medications can worsen frailty with their side effects, so adjustments can help,” she says. ” I tell these patients I can often make you better, give you more reserve and increase your resilience although not totally cure you. We can’t change from black to white, but often can push the black into gray.”

For those in their 80s or older, however, the causes of frailty are sometimes less obvious.

Barbara Resnick, a geriatric nurse-practitioner in Baltimore, remembers an 85-year-old woman, living at home, who “stopped going out to dinner with friends; she would say she was too tired and didn’t have the energy. She wasn’t walking out to get her mail anymore. She was eating less and losing weight rapidly.”

Her adult daughter became concerned and brought her mother to Resnick “and asked us to fix the problem,” recalls Resnick, who chairs the board of the American Geriatrics Society.

But there often is no quick fix. Clinicians checked the woman for underlying disease — they found none — and adjusted her medications. They also urged the woman to increase her physical activity, Resnick says. “That’s really the best way to manage frailty: Engage as much as you can; optimize what you can do. What’s important is resilience.”

Similarly, Kaufman recalls “a wonderful gentleman” in his 80s who had been doing quite well until his wife fell, broke her hip and had to enter a nursing home. The couple had been married 60 years. After she left, he began to slow down physically, and he stopped eating.

“He just gave up,” Kaufman says.” There was no one specific thing. But within a few months, he died. What do you put on a death certificate? If it was a pediatric case, we’d say ‘failure to thrive.’ He died of frailty.”

Researchers also are studying the impact of moderate physical exercise in preventing the most powerful indicator of frailty: slow walking speed. An ongoing study of 1600 people between the ages of 70 and 89 is comparing the effects of a moderate-intensity walking and weightlifting program to a program of health education only.

The exercise group walks for 30 minutes several times a week and uses ankle weights to improve lower-body strength. The education group receives information on diet, managing medications and other health-related matters, but not about physical exercise.

A smaller, earlier phase of the study suggested that physical activity was key, with a 26-percent reduction in walking problems among those who worked out regularly.

“You don’t have to go to an exercise program at the gym,” Kaufman says. “Clean your house. Walk to the mailbox to get your mail, or work in your garden. The greatest common denominator of frailty is muscle loss and slowing of gait, and it’s amazing what physical exercise can do.” Walston agrees. “Growing old may be inevitable, but growing frail is not,” he says.

Benefits of Exercise

One of the Healthiest Things You Can Do

Like most people you’ve probably heard that physical activity and exercise are good for you. In fact, being physically active on a regular basis is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. Studies have shown that exercise provides many health benefits and that older adults can gain a lot by staying physically active. Even moderate exercise and physical activity can improve the health of people who are frail or who have diseases that accompany aging.

Being physically active can also help you stay strong and fit enough to keep doing the things you like to do as you get older. Making exercise and physical activity a regular part of your life can improve your health and help you maintain your independence as you age.

Be as Active as Possible

Regular physical activity and exercise are important to the physical and mental health of almost everyone, including older adults. Staying physically active and exercising regularly can produce long-term health benefits and even improve health for some older people who already have diseases and disabilities. That’s why health experts say that older adults should aim to be as active as possible.

Being Inactive Can Be Risky

Although exercise and physical activity are among the healthiest things you can do for yourself, some older adults are reluctant to exercise. Some are afraid that exercise will be too hard or that physical activity will harm them. Others might think they have to join a gym or have special equipment. Yet, studies show that “taking it easy” is risky. For the most part, when older people lose their ability to do things on their own, it doesn’t happen just because they’ve aged. It’s usually because they’re not active. Lack of physical activity also can lead to more visits to the doctor, more hospitalizations, and more use of medicines for a variety of illnesses.

Prevent or Delay Disease

Scientists have found that staying physically active and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities. In some cases, exercise is an effective treatment for many chronic conditions. For example, studies show that people with arthritis, heart disease, or diabetes benefit from regular exercise. Exercise also helps people with high blood pressure, balance problems, or difficulty walking.

To learn about exercise and diabetes, see “Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes.” from Go4Life®, the exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging.

Manage Stress, Improve Mood

Regular, moderate physical activity can help manage stress and improve your mood. And, being active on a regular basis may help reduce feelings of depression. Studies also suggest that exercise can improve or maintain some aspects of cognitive function, such as your ability to shift quickly between tasks, plan an activity, and ignore irrelevant information.

Some people may wonder what the difference is between physical activity and exercise. Physical activities are activities that get your body moving such as gardening, walking the dog and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Exercise is a form of physical activity that is specifically planned, structured, and repetitive such as weight training, tai chi, or an aerobics class. Including both in your life will provide you with health benefits that can help you feel better and enjoy life more as you age.

Strength Training for a Healthy Heart

Regular exercise is a critical part of staying healthy. People who are active live longer and feel better. But what form of exercise is best? The standard teaching has been 30 minutes per day, five days a week of cardiovascular training, and three days a week of strength training. However, there has been a recent breakthrough in training approaches that focus on strength training for cardiovascular health.

The function of the cardiovascular system is to pump oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout the body and to remove waste products like carbon dioxide. The heart is a powerful muscle that contracts, expands, and hypertrophies, as other muscles do when worked. As the heart gets stronger, blood pressure and heart rate go down because the heart gets more efficient and can pump out more blood per beat.

Strength training, often called resistance training, refers to exercises that require muscles to exert a force against some form of resistance. The most common form of strength training is lifting weights, e.g., free weights, machines, elastic bands, body weight, or any other form of resistance. These types of exercises are known for developing and toning muscles, helping to develop and maintain the integrity of bones, increasing metabolism by increasing lean muscle mass, building stronger connective tissue and greater joint stability, and decreasing body fat. Strength training is beneficial for everyone. It is especially beneficial as we grow older because muscle mass naturally diminishes with age, and strength training will help prevent this muscle loss and rebuild what may have been lost.

Strength training as a component of a cardiac rehabilitation program is well-recognized by clinicians; however, it is now just coming to the forefront of preventive medicine for its profound effect in reducing the risks of cardiovascular disease. There have been several research studies on the effect of high-intensity, short rest weight training and its effect on cardiovascular health and fitness.

The findings are remarkable as strength training has not generally been thought to improve cardiovascular fitness. Aerobic activities that increase heart rate and make one breathe harder— walking, biking, and jogging—have typically been recommended for cardiovascular fitness. We are now learning that maximum increases in strength and cardiovascular fitness can be obtained from one type of exercise—strength training. Properly applied, strength training simultaneously engages both the muscular system and the cardiovascular system. Recommended intervals are three to five times per week for 20 to 30 minutes at a moderate intensity-level, or two to three times per week for 15 to 20 minutes at a high-intensity level.

The American Heart Association (AHA) says that for healthy adults, a regular program of weight training not only increases muscle strength and endurance, it also improves heart and lung function, enhances glucose metabolism, reduces coronary disease risk factors, and boosts well-being. When our muscles are stronger, there is less demand placed on the heart. This allows the lungs to process more oxygen with less effort, the heart to pump more blood with fewer beats, and the blood supply directed to your muscles to increase.

Strength training provides numerous health benefits. It can be very powerful in preventing and reducing the signs and symptoms of numerous diseases and chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, and mild depression.

Additionally, it can help individuals recover from and prevent injury, improve endurance, flexibility, stamina, balance, and coordination. The idea is simple: strength is good. According to the AHA, strength increases “functional capacity,” which is the ability to perform daily activities. Being physically strong will decrease the strain that day-to-day tasks such as lifting, places on the heart.

Prior to beginning any form of exercise program, it’s important to see your physician for a complete physical examination to ensure you are healthy enough to begin an exercise regimen without risk. Share with your doctor your health goals and exercise plan, and seek his/her recommendations, especially those related to nutrition and smoking cessation.

Remember: regular strength training does more than just build better, stronger muscles—it builds a better, stronger, healthier body.

Strength Training for a Healthy Heart is an EHE International publication and is reprinted and distributed with its expressed written permission. EHE International, 10 Rockefeller Plaza, 4th Floor, New York, New York 10020; 212.332.3738; Information@EHEINTL.com.

Comments

Part II provided a general overview of the impact of exercise on frailty and aging. As everyone should recall the late Jack LaLanne was the ultimate guru of exercise and fitness. Jack was 96 years old when he came down with pneumonia and passed away. I can’t guarantee that you’ll live to be 96 years of age. But who knows!!! I’m not being facetious. Maybe with an excellent diet and exercise program, you’ll look back one day to a previous decade when you finally reached 100 years of age. Life is great! Even our “bad” days are “good” days. Why? Because we are alive, silly. Do everything you possibly can to live as long as you can. And while you’re doing that—live well and thrive. Enjoy the journey!

In Part III ahead I present data that summarizes major advancements in our knowledge of the impact of exercise on Frailty and Aging.

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Some Important Tips on Suppressing Your Appetite in the New Year

The purpose of this Blog is to share with my cyberspace audience some important tips on foods or substances that may help to suppress your appetite. As everyone who has ever dieted knows, there are certain times of the day when your power to resist food is hard, especially when hunger pangs give a signal to your brain that you feel empty.

Three Important Concepts to Remember

There are three basic concepts I want you to remember before I discuss the specifics of appetite suppressants:

  • Causes of Hunger
  • The Stability of Blood Sugar Levels and Degrees of Hunger
  • Observations about Types of Food and Recommended Appetite Suppressants

Causes of Hunger

When your stomach is empty, it produces a hormone called ghrelin that causes hunger. Think of ghrelin like the gremlin that is sabotaging your weight loss efforts. If you let yourself go hungry, your cravings will be too intense to resist!

The trick is to stay full. The way to get rid of the “ghrelin gremlin” is to eat wholesome foods that suppress your appetite. No gimmicks, no crash diets, just consistent tools to help you stay full and satisfied. By reducing your calorie intake by 500 calories a day, you could lose 50 pounds in a year. This can be as easy as cutting back on 3 ounces of potato chips or one cheeseburger a day.

The Stability of Blood Sugar Levels and Degrees of Hunger

 

It is important to know that your blood sugar levels (whether you are a diabetic person or not) play an important role concerning hunger. It’s as simple as this: when your blood sugar is more stable so is your hunger!

Observations about Types of Food and Recommended Appetite Suppressants

     One of the basic observations I made during my search for appetite suppressants was more often than not, foods and spices that were recommended as being good appetite suppressants, were quite simply foods that were already considered healthy based on today’s research.

It is almost ironic that the very healthy foods that comprise a healthy lifestyle are the very ones with the greatest natural ability to suppress one’s appetite. What that tells me is, if you transition away from a lifestyle of “fast foods” to a lifestyle that orients eating around healthy foods, you will be on your way toward suppressing all those empty feelings throughout the day or evening that tend to sabotage dieting efforts and the ability to lose weight.

Personal Recommendations

One way to control appetite better is to just eat 5-6 meals a day which consists of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but also 2-3 small snacks around late morning, late afternoon, and late evening. For me personally, the way to add to this approach to eating is to reinforce it with a reasonable amount of protein grams with some carbohydrates at breakfast (e.g. Greek yogurt (8 grams of protein per serving) and cottage cheese (13 grams of protein per serving). The protein will keep you satiated a lot longer, particularly much longer before you feel hungry for lunch. You might want to add berries on top of your Greek yogurt and cottage cheese (e.g., blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries) to add a little sweetness; it will also provide Vitamin C and Omega3’s.

Because of this type of breakfast, many times I don’t desire to eat lunch until 2-3 p.m. In addition, I have found that drinking green tea (as a replacement for my usual coffee) works well as an appetite suppressant, at least for me.

A third idea that works well to curb the appetite is to drink (you should already be doing this) at least 8 ten ounce glasses of water a day to help with hydration of the body; hydration is essential for your health.

These ideas are solid and should help to control your appetite.

A Little Caution

Because of the way the commercial media is allowed to work its magic on unsuspecting members of the public, I ask that you proceed with caution. It is important that you look and evaluate carefully any suggestions for taking appetite suppressants. Do not unwittingly trust everything you read or see demonstrated, or otherwise promoted on television, online, or elsewhere.

Nevertheless, after searching the internet and elsewhere, here are some suggestions for curbing your appetite without getting a doctor’s prescription. Some may work for you while others may not. It is up to you to do a little experimenting with these ideas. If you need professional help from your doctor or nutritionist, then by all means consult with them before embarking on any use of appetite suppressants. In fact, it is best you do consult your primary care physician first because any medications you may currently be taking might be affected by certain foods, substances or drugs in your particular situation.

 

Appetite Suppressants

Here is a list of 29 foods that can act as an appetite suppressant. These are all natural sources (basic foods, spices and certain substances in liquid form).

Almonds

Just a handful of almonds is a rich source of antioxidants, vitamin E, and magnesium. Almonds have also been shown to increase feelings of fullness in people and help with weight management, according to a study presented at The 2006 Obesity Society Annual Scientific Meeting. So what are you waiting for? Nosh on almonds for your next healthy snack!

 

Apples

Apples of all varieties and types help suppress hunger for a number of reasons. First, apples are filled with soluble fiber and pectin, which help you feel full. Apples also regulate your glucose and boost your energy level. Finally, apples require lots of chewing time, which helps slow you down and gives your body more time to realize that you’re no longer hungry. Plus, they just taste good!

Avocado

Full of fiber and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, avocados suppress appetite when eaten in moderation. In fact, the fats in these little guys send signals to your brain that tell your stomach that it’s full!

Bran

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate you can’t digest. This is great news for weight loss because it means fiber has no calories. One of the richest sources of insoluble fiber is wheat bran.

Fill up your stomach with a large glass of water and 1 or 2 tablespoons of bran and you will stop the release of the hunger hormone ghrelin for approximately an hour (results will vary depending on the person). Bran absorbs water and moisture in the stomach, becoming a sponge. It physically expands in the stomach and makes you feel full, so you will eat less. Start off taking small amounts and gradually increase the dose depending on how your body responds. Take bran with meals. Make sure to consume enough fluid to create the sponge effect. Bran is great in shakes or apple sauce, where the liquid is built into the food. Drink lots of liquid because if you don’t, then the fiber can become like cork in your digestive tract and cause painful cramps or constipation. The best time to have wheat bran would be at breakfast, after dinner or before bed. If you’re going to have fiber alone between meals, then accompany it with at least 12 ounces of water.

Note: Wheat allergies are becoming more common. Rice bran will work as effectively as wheat bran.

 

Cayenne Pepper

Get spicy! According to recent research published in the journal Physiology & Behavior, just half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper can boost metabolism and cause the body to burn an extra 10 calories on its own. Not to mention that for those who don’t regularly eat spicy meals, adding cayenne pepper cuts an average of 60 calories from their next meal. Do that at two meals a day for a month and you’ll lose 4 pounds without even trying!

Cinnamon

Next time you have cereal, oatmeal, fruit, or even coffee, sprinkle some cinnamon on it. Cinnamon, like other ground spices such as cloves and ginger, helps lower your blood sugar levels, which—you guessed it—helps to control your appetite!

Coffee

While drinking more than one to two cups of Joe a day can leave you feeling jittery and nervous, a moderate amount of coffee can help boost metabolism and suppress your appetite. Coffee’s secret: Caffeine, along with antioxidants from the coffee beans. Just don’t cancel out those good effects with too much sugar or cream!

Dark Chocolate

Love chocolate but have no self – control with it? Try slowly savoring a piece or two of dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa the next time you crave it. Just a little dark chocolate helps to lower your cravings because the bitter taste signals the body to decrease your appetite.

Not to mention that the steric acid in dark chocolate helps slow digestion to help you feel fuller longer. If dark chocolate is too bitter for you, try having a piece with a cup of black coffee—it’ll bring out the sweetness!

Eggs

Studies have shown that eating an egg or two for breakfast can help dieters feel more full over 24 hours than if they eat a bagel with the same amount of calories. In the same study, those who ate eggs ingested an average of 330 fewer calories over the course of a day than the bagel-eaters. Food for thought, no?

Fennel Tea

To get a jumpstart on warding off morning hunger, drink fennel tea before bed. Fennel is known for its cleansing, clarifying flavor that helps reset taste buds and reduce cravings. It also boosts digestion, facilitating the absorption of nutrients, and reducing fat storage in the body.

Flax Seeds

With a nutritional mix of soluble fiber and essential fatty acids, flax seeds are the perfect addition to your yogurt, smoothie, or salad. In fact, ground or whole, flax seeds help you to stay satiated and fueled!

Ginger

For centuries, many cultures have used ginger root for its amazing digestive powers. Whether it’s in a smoothie or in an Indian dish (sorry, ginger ale doesn’t count!), ginger works as a stimulant that energizes the body and improves digestion, thereby making you less hungry.

Green Leafy Vegetables

If you’re really looking for a highly nutritious food that will fill you up for hours, you can’t beat green leafy vegetables. From kale to spinach to Swiss chard, these fibrous greens (eaten raw or gently sautéed with a little olive oil) are delicious and definitely keep hunger at bay.

Green Tea

If you’re not a coffee drinker and get sick of water easily, try sipping on a cup of hot green tea. Green tea can help you to stop mindlessly snacking, and nutritionists say that the catechins in green tea help to inhibit the movement of glucose into fat cells, which slows the rise of blood sugar and prevents high insulin and subsequent fat storage. And when your blood sugar is more stable so is your hunger!

Hot Sauce

When it comes to hot sauce and appetite suppression, the hotter you can go the better. So get some Tabasco and sprinkle some heat on your burrito, scrambled eggs, or even soup! The spiciness keeps you from overeating and helps you to stay full longer!

Oatmeal

Did this one surprise you? While high in carbs, the type of carbs in oatmeal is slow-digesting and keep you feeling full for hours after breakfast. Why? Because they suppress the hunger hormone ghrelin. In fact, oatmeal is pretty low on the glycemic index—just be sure to make steel cut oats to get the most benefit!

Pine Nuts

Many diets say that fats are to be avoided because they are high in calories, but not all fat is created equal. The omega-6 fatty acid found in pine nuts called pinolenic acid has been shown to increase the release of satiety hormones. This type of fat can actually promote weight loss and reduce food intake. Pinolenic acid appears to be particularly effective at stimulating the release of CCK (cholecystokinin), the hormone that works as a hunger suppressant. Additionally, pine nuts effectively improved satiety and increased CCK in overweight, post-menopausal women.

The satiety effects of pine nut oil lasts at least 30 minutes, but may not carry over into next meal. Some people may experience a longer feeling of satiety as pinolenic acid affects hormone release. In some cases, the sensation of fullness could last up to 2 hours.

Potatoes

According to food scientists, potatoes contain a special type of starch that resists digestive enzymes, making them stay in your stomach longer and therefore keep you full. Plus, they’re full of vitamin A and vitamin C!

Red Vinegar Wine

Many people have heard about the health benefits of red wine. When you ferment red wine long enough, it becomes red wine vinegar. And while you wouldn’t want to drink a glass of red wine vinegar, it’s still a healthy, appetite-suppressing addition to your meal. Acetic acid, the active ingredient in vinegar, helps keep food in the stomach for a longer period of time, so release of the hunger hormone ghrelin is delayed. Vinegar also improves digestion, and it helps you feel full faster and for a longer period of time. Acetic acid also helps prevent spikes in blood sugar following and will lower the glycemic index of many foods. Red wine vinegar contains nutrients such the antioxidant resveratrol that has been shown to protect the heart.

A dose of approximately 2 tablespoons will provide the best results, and blood levels of sugar and insulin remained normalized for at least 45 minutes after women and men ate a meal of vinegar and white bread. If vinegar can help people cope with high glycemic foods like white bread, then imagine how effective it would be if you ate healthy whole grains. You can expect it to fight cravings for 1-1.5 hours, depending on the contents of the meal consumed, but the effects of increased fat metabolism in the liver can extend more than 3 hours after a meal!

One tablespoon of red wine vinegar mixed with sparkling water makes a great cocktail. Drink this with meals to support digestion and regulate your blood sugar. Another study showed that taking vinegar at bedtime helps regulate blood sugar levels the next morning.

Salad

If you want to keep the hunger monster from rearing its food-devouring head, eat a small salad before you sit down for a meal. Just a cup or two of veggies is all it takes to signal to your brain that you’re getting calories and nutrition.

Since it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that you’re full, starting with a small salad before your meal, is a perfect way to get a head-start on that hunger signal.

Salmon

When you eat fish like salmon that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, your body increases the amount of the hormone leptin in your system. Leptin is known for suppressing hunger. Don’t like salmon? Try tuna and herring, which are also high in omega-3s! If fish really doesn’t do it for you, get your omega -3s in supplement form.

Skim Milk

If PMS cravings have your hunger all out of whack during that time of the month, try drinking skim milk. Studies show that women who have at least one serving of dairy a day about two weeks before menstruation significantly decrease their cravings for unhealthy junk foods and processed carbs.

Tofu

A rich plant-based protein source, tofu isn’t just for vegetarians! Tofu is high in an isoflavone called genistein, which has been shown to suppress appetite and lower food intake. For an easy way to introduce tofu in your diet, try adding it to your next healthy stir-fry.

Umeboshi Plums

Have a sweet craving you just can’t shake? Sometimes the best thing to do is to shock it with something sour. Umeboshi plums are basically pickled plums and can be fantastic for squashing sugar cravings. Find them at your local specialty store or Asian grocer.

Vegetable Juice

You probably think that vegetable juice is just a way to get more veggies in your diet, right? That’s true, but veggie juice has also been shown to fill you up. In fact, when people drank vegetable juice before a meal, they ended up eating 135 fewer calories. Now that’s some appetite suppression! Just be sure to drink the low-sodium varieties, which are less likely to make you bloat.

Vegetable Soup

A hot, broth-based vegetable soup can fill you up in a hurry and take the edge off of your hunger with minimal calories. Try having a cup before your next meal or simply have a big bowl as your main course!

Wasabi

Ever notice how when you eat sushi it doesn’t seem to take as much food to fill you up? Well, part of that is because of the healthy fish in sushi, but the other part is due to that spicy green stuff: wasabi! The spiciness in wasabi suppresses appetite and is a natural anti-inflammatory.

Water

Could taming your appetite be as easy as drinking an extra glass or two of water? Science says yes! In one August 2010 study, people who drank two glasses of water before a meal ate between 75 and 90 fewer calories at the meal than those who didn’t drink water. Love that H2O!

Whey Protein

Protein is known for suppressing appetite, but it seems that whey protein is especially good at it. New research shows that after people have a liquid meal with whey protein they consume significantly fewer calories at their next meal than those who had a liquid meal with casein

Final Comments on Appetite Suppressants

   While finding ways to curb one’s appetite is a good thing and should help everyone over the tough spots in dieting, it should nonetheless be combined with a sensible overall exercise and diet plan.

Two previous blogs are available right here on WordPress from yours truly. They were posted last November 12th (Part I) and December 11th (Part II). They are titled, “2015: Losing Weight and Getting into Shape in the New Year [A Two Part Series].

If you haven’t read these articles before, please give them a read through. If you are interested in a comprehensive program to lose weight and get into shape than your time will be well spent.

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Welcome to Part II on “Losing Weight and Getting Into Shape in the New Year.” During Part II, I will cover the exercise component of my program. It will include preliminary information on exercise and losing weight, a sensible cardio program, warm-up exercises, weight training, cool down exercises, and a section on supplementation.

As a reminder I’d highly recommend you obtain your primary care physician’s green light before engaging in an intense program of exercise. First, there are a few preliminary things you need to know about exercise and losing weight.

As we all know life is precious. And, living a long life is highly desirable for all of us. With that thought in mind, it is very important that you realize that research may have found “the fountain of youth” after all!

“The One Thing you can do today to live Longer”[1]

Exercise.

“Yes, there’s that word again. But as you read, more and more research has emerged showing that exercise lengthens life. Consider just one piece of research: a 2012 study in the journal PLOS Medicine showed that 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week (that’s half an hour of brisk walking a day for 5 days) increased life expectancy by 3.5 years. Those in the study upped their exercise intensity increased life expectancy by 4.2 years. Understand that this wasn’t a small group of college students measured over a few weeks. This review looked at data of more than 600,000 people. That’s one thing you can do to extend your life.

Exercise.”

 

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. Here are some hints to understanding why you should not become disappointed at first when you’ve worked so hard yet 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 Spark People 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.”

Realistic Expectations about Building Muscle Mass

The following is an article (posted April 7, 2014) online by Wannabebig.com. This article talks about setting realistic goals in your bodybuilding efforts. The essence of the article is that it takes time to build muscle, so please be patient. It may have taken some time to look like you do now, so it will take some time to alter how you look now.

“We all want more muscle, but packing on the weight isn’t as easy as just showing up. Find out how much muscle you can gain!”[2]

by Wannabebig.com Last updated: Apr 07, 2014

“One frequently asked question which always seems to plague gym instructors, Internet message boards, various magazines and books has to do with muscle gain. Many of us have heard or have overheard the local gym guru or the community fitness expert boasting about how much he/she has gained, or how one of their clients has gained 10 pounds in a month.

When someone hears this, a light goes on inside their head and it kicks off a series of thoughts that quickly translate into a set of unrealistic goals. I will say this: that from whichever mouth it comes, whether a highly regarded coach, trainer or a bodybuilder, the fact of the matter is that it’s physiologically impossible to achieve this muscle status! Later on, I’ll explain why.”[3]

 

mAKING Physical changes takes time

“Often, people making this claim have a faulty perception of how the body either works or are just super-optimistic. Of course, it’s not only the gym (freaks) that espouses this myth; it can be traced to numerous ads in a variety of muscle magazines lining the bookstore shelves. The bodybuilding industry, nowadays, thrives on people who are hungry for a quick change.

They are ready to buy into the notion that a change can be accomplished because a certain ad lays claims by way of an incredible cut and paste transformation. Frequently, it’s a beginner who testifies to the astounding feat of gaining 30 pounds over a period of several months.

This is, no doubt, a great achievement but most have been fooled into believing that a large percentage is muscle when most of it is due to an increase in glycogen stores, body fat and water.

It’s not my intention to dash your hopes or crush your dreams. I’d merely like you to know that the body simply cannot adapt at the speed claimed by many.”[4]

For example, Chris Thibaudeau of Iron Magazine Online states: “making physical changes takes time.”[5] This couldn’t be closer to the truth.

“So be forewarned that in your quest to change or morph yourself into the next Ronnie Coleman; the transformation is going to take more than a few months. Our bodies are equipped with systems that need to adapt together over a period. This is what you should bear in mind while working toward the goal of a more muscular physique.”[6]

So How Much Muscle Can You Gain?

“Sometimes we are our own worst enemy when it comes to gaining muscle. Nine times out of ten, most of us fail in the dedication department. What starts out as a carefully planned and calculated program, ends up hitting some bumps along the way.

However, even if we are dedicated (some may call it obsessed) and diligent about our nutrition with proper training and recuperation practices, we still would not be able to add more than one pound of muscle in a week. That’s right, only one pound per week–and this is assuming you’ve had a darn good week both inside and outside the gym! [7]

Hypertrophy

“Hypertrophy is enlargement or overgrowth of a muscle due to the increased size of the constituent cells. Increased training will result in an increase in the size of cells, while the number of cells stays the same.

Often, people believe that if they take in 3,500 more calories during a week that they will be successful at packing on slabs of muscle. However, the old adage that one pound equates to 3,500 calories is right for fat but not muscle. If you want to gain one pound of fat, then you should be taking in an extra 3,500 calories per week. Now there’s one way of putting on some weight!

As I mentioned earlier, the body’s multiple systems are all intricately interconnected: if one system has not undergone the proper adaptation, then the results will show in the form of a failure to produce optimal hypertrophy of the muscle complex. For example, if we were to look at some of the soft tissues involved in the hypertrophy process of the muscle complex, we’d see that muscle would generally adapt to a load within several days.

Unlike the tendons and ligaments, studies have shown that muscle responds by adapting after a period of several weeks or even months of progressive loading (McDough & Davies, 1984). It also should be noted that the protein turnover rate in collagen occurs approximately every 1000 days.

This clearly shows that even if one were to gain in body weight, the body would only be able to accommodate a certain amount in the form of muscle; otherwise, the muscles would fall prey to injury due to the time span in adaptation rates for various other tissues.”[8]

Those who scoff at this and continue to believe they’ve gained super-size over such a short period forget, as suggested earlier, that much of the increased body weight is largely due to increased body fat stores, glycogen and water. [9]

 

“In the muscles, protein turnover rate occurs approximately every 180 days (6 months).[10]

“Hypertrophy of the muscle complex has, so far, been shown to be controlled by what is known as protein turnover (the breakdown of damaged muscle proteins and creation of new and stronger ones). This process takes time. Just as the many living organisms around us in nature require time to grow, so do our muscles. In our enzymes the protein turnover rate occurs approximately every 7-10 minutes. In the liver and plasma, it’s every 10 days.

And in the hemoglobin it’s every 120 days. In the muscles, protein turnover rate occurs approximately every 180 days (6 months). This lends even more support to the observation that the turnover rate limits the natural body (of the non-drug-using athlete, bodybuilder) in building muscle quickly.

The Colgan Institute of Nutritional Sciences (located in San Diego, Calif.) run by Dr. Michael Colgan PH.D., a leading sport nutritionist explains that in his extensive experience, the most muscle gain he or any of his colleagues have recorded over a year was 18 1/4 lbs. Dr. Colgan goes on to state that “because of the limiting rate of turnover in the muscle cells it is impossible to grow more than an ounce of new muscle each day.

In non-complicated, mathematical terms, this would equate to roughly 23 pounds in a year! Keep in mind that high-level athletes are the subjects of these studies.[11]

Putting It All Together

“Now that I’ve put a damper on your expectations you can step back and take a closer look at your training, nutritional practices and recuperation tactics. There’s no need to beat yourself up because you’ve only been able to gain a pound a week for the last 6 weeks. If anything, assuming your body fat levels has been kept at bay, you’re probably on the right track.

When it comes to muscle gain there is no dramatic technique or quick fix that will allow you to pack on more muscle naturally. It’s better to stay focused and realistic by training hard, eating meticulously and spending time to recuperate properly; this will result in you achieving a more muscular physique. Keep in mind that it’s physiologically impossible to gain more than one pound of lean muscle per week.”[12]

“For most weight-gainers, half a pound per week would be an even more realistic goal, because they reach their genetic limit. Remember that gaining muscle is a long-term project and not something that can be simply turned on. If you’re dedicated and diligent in your efforts, you’ll not be disappointed! [13]

 

Proposed Exercise Program for Strength and Fitness

I am proposing an exercise program that will include all the elements of total fitness: Cardio, warm-up exercises, weight training, cool down exercises and supplementation. There are three phases to my program. In Phase I you’ll follow my plan for three months. During Phase II my exercise program will be at a more moderate yet advanced level. During Phase III one will be at the most advanced level. By the time one reaches Phase III one should already be physically fit.

Later on you can tweak my program by experimenting with keeping the program more interesting. You don’t want to get bored; as you gain more knowledge around the gym (bodybuilding sites on the internet can also assist with knowledge building over time) my program will morph into your program. It is my hope that at the advanced levels (either Phase II or III) you will become hooked on bodybuilding, fitness, and good health. Trying new things is one key to keeping you motivated to continue any health or fitness program.

For the first three months in the gym, I want you to work on building muscle slowly (possibly building just ½ pound of muscle mass per week or, more realistically, only ¼ pounds of muscle or 4 ounces per week). After 52 weeks of exercising 3 days a week for 1 hour and 20 minutes your gain in muscle will likely be 4 ounces times 52 weeks or 13.5 lbs. of lean body mass. Combine this with a well-controlled healthy diet and one will look a much trimmer, healthy and better looking person in the mirror.

Do not get worried about what the scale shows as your weight because, at any point in time, it is the sum of you losing visceral fat and gaining lean muscle mass. As the weeks go by one can rest assured if one is looking better in the mirror, your body is definitely losing weight, even if the scale shows only modest weight loss. Combined with Part I’s discussion of dieting, I know you can succeed! Before I go any further, here is the recommended sequence of your program in the gym in Phase I, and at the advanced levels (Phase II and Phase III):

Cardio*

Warm-up Stretching Exercises

Weight Training

Cool Down Stretching Exercises

 

* Some people in the gym should probably do some stretching exercises before they jump on a treadmill, stationary or elliptical bike. However, most athletes in the gym using cardio machines warm up by simply starting at a slow speed (usually for 5 minutes). After five minutes your upper body and legs are warmed up. If one is doing cardio outside the gym, I highly recommend one do stretching exercises before they walk jog or run. Limbering up before any exercise is good for preventing injury or unnecessary strain.

Cardio Exercise, Warm-up and Cool-down Exercises

Good cardio exercises include walking (slow, medium pace, or power walking), using a treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical bike. Some people like to jog or run in the outdoors. My preference is to work out in a gym. The most important consideration is how long you exercise rather than the method per se or where you exercise.

“The most important lesson for cardio work is that you have to stay with it: Research shows that exercise-induced cardiac protection is lost once regular exercise is stopped. If you stop exercising, the synthesis of those protective proteins comes to a halt. In under a week, you’ll be back to your pre-exercise level.”[14]

I recommend at least 20-30 minutes of cardio three days per week as a minimum. Others prefer 5 to 7 times per week. However, working out more than 3 days a week can sometimes be counter-productive if you don’t allow enough time for your body to recover from all your exercise. Actual muscle building occurs during rest & recovery, not necessarily in the gym or outside when you are tearing down muscle fibers.

The sequence I use in the gym is to do 20 minutes of cardio first, and then I do my warm-up stretching exercises (5 exercises should do it) for 5 minutes followed by approximately 45-60 minutes of weight training. After weight training, I do stretching exercises for another 5 minutes (again 5 more exercises should do it).

These stretching exercises are critically important. Your muscles need to be warmed up before jumping into weight training. At the end of weight training, there needs to be a cool-down with stretching exercises. For both warm-up and cool-down exercises, I like to include stretching exercises for the legs, waist (abs and oblique’s), and upper body including chest and arms. I work out only 3 days a week at the gym. The days usually are staggered throughout seven days. However, one day at home during my recovery time (as said muscle growth actually occurs on your recovery days where rest and good sleep is necessary) I use a foam roller to improve flexibility in my body. A foam roller is a piece of gym equipment that can be purchased in many sports stores for a reasonable amount of money. Using a foam roller on the floor takes less than 15 minutes of your time. Collectively, all elements of a full body fitness program are covered with my program: strength, balance, flexibility and stamina.

Phase I

Phase I is for beginners. At the beginning of a fitness program you may lack balance, flexibility and physical strength if you haven’t been exercising in the months leading up to your decision to join a gym or to undertake a general exercise program.

Phase I is to be followed for three months. If one doesn’t feel comfortable going to the advanced program, then feel free to continue working out at the Phase I level until you are ready to move on. One of the first things in Phase I you need to know is what muscles are involved in a good weight training program.

What Muscles Are We Talking About?

When it comes to exercising, what muscle or muscle groups are we talking about?

The following is an overview of the important muscles or muscle groups in the human body. Here is a quick overview of the Major Muscle Groups: Legs (Quadriceps and Hamstrings), Glutes, Chest (Pectoralis Major and Pectoralis Minor), Back (Trapezius, Rhomboid, and Latissimus Dorsi), and Shoulders (Deltoid—Anterior, Medial and Posterior).

Here is a quick overview of the Minor Muscle Groups: Biceps, Triceps, Abdominals (Abdominal Rectus and Oblique’s) and Calves (Gastrocnemius and Soleus). There are many websites available to show you the physiology of muscles in the human body. Much will depend upon how deeply you want to become knowledgeable. This type of detailed knowledge is out there; you just need to seek it out.

Initial Weight Training Program

The following is an overview of the Major and Minor Muscle Groups and a sub-listing of exercises one could do (at least 2 sets each as a beginner) as your initial program—primarily directed at beginners although at the advanced level some of these same exercises may apply.

If you do not know what these are specifically, go to any of the bodybuilding sites on the Internet because you’ll not only get a written description of these exercises, but also a video of each exercise being performed. This will make learning proper technique and form much easier to absorb. Don’t expect perfect execution of technique and form the first time. Like they say, “practice makes perfect.” Covering all the major and minor muscle groups will take one approximately 4 workout days to go through one cycle of this beginning program. Then repeat same cycle for 3 months. Good luck!

 

Major and Minor Muscle Groups

 

Major Muscle Groups

Legs

     Quadriceps

Leg Press Machine

     Hamstrings

Lying Leg Curls

Glutes

Barbell Squats

Close Stance Dumbbell Squats

Wide Stance Dumbbell Squats (between the legs)

 

Chest

     Pectoralis Major

 Peck-Deck Machine

Dumbbell Fly’s

Dumbbell Press

Low Cable Chest Fly’s

             Incline: Chest Press (Machine)

 

     Pectoralis Minor

Chest Dips

Barbell Bench Press

Dumbbell Incline Bench Press

Cable Crossover

    

Back

     Trapezius

Reverse Lats Pull Down

Lat Pull Down

Bent Over Two Arm Long Bar Row

     Rhomboid

 Bent Over One-Arm Long Bar Row

Bent Over Two-Arm Long Bar Row

One Arm Dumbbell Row

Seated One-Arm Cable Pulley Row

Barbell Deadlift

     Latissimus Dorsi

 Lat Pull Back

Lat Pull Down

Shoulders

    

     Deltoids

         Anterior deltoid

Overhead Barbell

Barbell or Dumbbell Upright Row

Incline Barbell Front Raise

Bent-Over Lateral Raise

Reverse Peck-Deck Fly’s
      

     Medial   deltoid

Arnold Presses (dumbbell)

Front Arm Raises (cable)

Upright Row (barbell)

         Posterior deltoid

Rear Deltoid Lateral (Peck Deck)

 

Minor Muscle Groups

 

Biceps

Reverse Grip Rows

Cable Curls

Overhead Cable Curls

Hammer Curls

90 Degree Preacher’s Curls

Triceps

Rope Pull Down

Dips

One Arm Cable Triceps Extension

Seated Overhead Dumbbell Exercises

Barbell Shrugs

Seated Curl Push Down

 

Abdominals

 

     Rectus abdominals + Oblique’s

 Ab Machine

Oblique Cable Crunch

Bell Tower Crunch

Side Bend with Plate

Standing Oblique Dumbbell

 

 

Calves

     Gastrocnemius and Soleus

Seated Calf Raises

Standing Calf Raises

Dumbbell Calf Raises

Common Question

One of your first questions upon arrival to a weight training room or facility will be how much weight should I try to lift. As times goes by you’ll increase your weights, sets and repetitions (lighter weights—more repetitions; heavier weights—fewer repetitions). However, at the beginning individuals will each have a different answer to this question.

Individuals always vary in their natural abilities. No matter whom you are—start with the lighter weights. You’ll have to experiment to get a precise answer. For example, when doing barbell curls should I start with 20 lbs. or 40 lbs.? When I first started to do leg presses I put on only 50 lbs. I found it much too light for my leg muscles. After my first nine months I reached a weight of 405 lbs. doing 5 reps. At one year in the gym I can now do 405 pounds for 20 repetitions (most people in the gym simply call them “reps”).

 

Phase II

The Advanced Program

During Phase I you were exposed to two different ways to exercises your muscles, that is muscles in isolation and/or compound exercises. An example of muscles in isolation would be to work your biceps or triceps. Compound exercise movements involve several muscles or muscle groups exercised at the same time. While most of the exercises in Phase I are single muscles in isolation, most of the exercises in the advanced program found in Phase II are compound exercise movements with some isolation. [Please remember to give yourself approximately 1 minute rest time between every set regardless of whether one is in Phase 1, II, or III].

The most advanced program (Phase III) increases sets and the program’s intensity. But it still involves both isolation and compound movements. There is some disagreement in the bodybuilding community in what I’m about to say: While compound movements are best at developing strength and muscle mass, isolation and the targeting of specific muscles can help to produce better symmetry, tone and definition. Both types of muscle building nevertheless are important and can achieve all of the characteristics above. It all comes down to what your specific goals are i.e., how you want to look. Often these differences are physically reflected among contestants in the Bodybuilding versus Physique contests.

You can advance to this more advanced level if and when you are possessed with good strength, vitality, balance and flexibility. What I mean by this is that you are really physically fit.

 

Phase II

3-Day Compound Movement’s

Program with some Isolation

When you are ready to start the advanced Phase II program, try the following:

 

[5 warm-up exercises]

Day 1(4×8)

Four sets of 8 reps for the following exercises:

Incline Bench Press Barbell

Lat Pull Down

Deadlifts

Shrugs (Dumbbell or Barbell)

Biceps (Bicep curls)

Calves (Use a machine that exercises several muscles on the leg such as calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps at the same time)

[5 cool down exercises]

_____________________________________________________

[5 warm-up exercises]

Day 2 (5×5)

Five sets of 5 reps for the following exercises:

Incline Bench Press—Dumbbell

Bent over Rows

Squats

Upright Barbell Rows

Triceps (Rope pull down)

Abs (Ab Machine)

[5 cool down exercises]

_______________________________________________________

[5 Warm-up exercises]

Five sets of 5 reps for each of the following exercises:

Day 3 (5×5)

Incline or Decline Hammer

Cable Rows

Romanian Deadlift

Military Seated Press (or standing)

Abs (Bell Tower)

[5 cool down exercises]

Phase III

At about one year into my training program one should be ready for my most advanced level (Phase III). I want to make it clear that after Day 2 one might want to experiment with the Day 3 program. In my case I wanted to do more isolation muscle training involving my biceps. Someone else might need to work toward better symmetry with their calves, chest or back muscles. You’ll know by then which way to go. For now here is my advanced Phase III program:

Phase III Advanced Bodybuilding Program

Primarily Compound Movements

There are a total of 415 reps in this 3 day program

Day 1

[5 Warm-up exercises]

Flat Bench Press   4 sets of 8 reps

Squats                       4 sets of 8 reps

Deadlifts                  4 sets of 8 reps

Clean and Press   4 sets of 8 reps

[5 Cool-down exercises]

Day 2

[5 Warm-up exercises]

Military Press       4 sets of 8 reps

Bent Over Rows   4 sets of 8 reps

Upright Rows       4 sets of 8 reps

[5 Cool-down exercises]

Day 3

[5 Warm-up exercises]                 Additional Isolation Exercises

Five Best Bicep Exercises

Barbell Curl                     4 sets of 8 reps

Incline Dumbbell Curl     4 sets of 8 reps

Standing Biceps Cable Curl               4 sets of 8 reps

Reverse Grip Bent-Over Rows         4 sets of 8 reps

Concentration Curls                           4 sets of 8 reps

[5 Cool-down exercises]

 

Supplementation

The last part of this program involves supplementation. This can sometimes be a “touchy subject” for health and safety reasons, and for reasons related to alleged effectiveness and additional cost.

Most people are aware of the dangers of steroids and bodybuilding. There are lots of supplements being advertised that are supposed to help you as an athlete, no matter what sport or activity one is involved with. My strongest recommendation is first see if you have any deficiencies. My deficiencies turned out to be iron and vitamin D3. I took steps to remedy the situation. Once you address the issue of deficiencies, some supplements may be very helpful to supporting your body’s ability to handle a vigorous exercise program.

I recommend the following supplements based on recommendations in Dr. Life’s Plan:

  • A multivitamin and mineral supplement daily
  • Getting enough fatty acids in the proper amounts (Omega 3, 6 and 9)
  • A probiotic supplement
  • Vitamin D3
  • CoQ10
  • Saw palmetto
  • Lycopene
  • Milk thistle
  • Calcium
  • Pycnogenol/L-arginine [15]

First however, discuss any and all supplements you currently take, and those you are planning to take, with your primary care physician. There may be reasons in your particular medical profile that requires you not take certain supplements. This might be due to possible adverse reactions with any medicines you are already taking.

Individuals have different medical needs; therefore, what you take in supplements must be done cautiously. That said, I do recommend some supplements for good health and as a kind of insurance policy, but also to aid your body during an intense exercise program.

Summary

There are no guarantees in life. If you don’t eat right and exercise there is also no guarantee of a long life. What I’ve offered is a simple road map to meeting any New Year’s resolutions you may have that involve dieting and getting into shape. Many people have good intentions but never follow through. But this will be your year to succeed. As they say, “better late than never.” Good luck!

[1] Jordan D. Metzl, MD., The Exercise Cure, p. 2

[2] Wannabebig.com, April 7, 2014

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] The Life Plan, p.124

[15] Ibid., p. 297-298

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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 II

Update on Type II Diabetes in America

[Epidemiology and New Research Findings]

Introduction

In Part II a short review of new research on diabetes is provided. In the last decade thousands of studies on diabetes have been carried out in a variety of settings including hospitals, medical schools, pharmaceutical research laboratories, and universities involving both private and or public funding. As a person with Type II Diabetes the last 22 years I’ve chosen to review just a few exciting research projects involving Type II Diabetes.

One of the long-standing areas of research over the last several decades has been obesity among Type II Diabetics. Obesity appears to be growing exponentially on a global scale and has correspondingly contributed to the increase in diabetes worldwide. While treatment plans for diabetes normally involve diet, exercise, hypoglycemic medicine and various forms of insulin, there is also a lot of pending weight loss drugs in the wings from the pharmaceutical industry. In recent decades close daily monitoring of blood sugar has also helped diabetics immensely along with the usual standard treatment plans. The future for overweight diabetics is getting better all the time as new strategies are developed. However, many diabetics are not overweight and this has led to other areas of research. Nevertheless, research on why obesity is related to diabetes so intimately is still the focus of major research efforts to find a cure for diabetes.

What everyone has realized for some time is that there is a very close relationship between Type II diabetes, obesity and insulin resistance. This latter relationship between insulin resistance and obesity has been found to be connected in recent years through a new factor that has emerged in the medical research on Type II Diabetes. That factor is Inflammation. But first here is a review of what is known about insulin resistance. 

Insulin Resistance   

 All humans need energy to live. Consequently, every cell in the body needs energy, including cells in our large muscle groups. How do our cells get this energy? Normally, the foods we eat provide that energy. The food is then converted to blood glucose (blood sugar) and leads to circulation in our blood stream. The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin, and sends it into your bloodstream to travel to the various cells of the body. Insulin then attaches to a receptor on the cell’s surface and causes the cell membrane to permit blood glucose to enter. That is the normal process.

However, in Type II diabetes this system doesn’t work very well. The insulin gets to each cell; however, when it arrives, it has trouble unlocking the door to each cell and then the cell fails to permit the glucose to enter. Since glucose cannot get into the cells, it then builds up in the bloodstream. This condition is called Insulin Resistance.

The mystery of Type II diabetes has always been to find out why insulin resistance occurs. We now have a pretty good idea of the cause. So, what is the cause of Type II diabetes? Insulin’s ability to work is blocked in the human cell (like gum jamming up a lock as the metaphor suggests) by actual FAT. The cell’s receptors are blocked or jammed by fat.

Normally small amounts of fat are stored for energy in an emergency in each cell. However, in a diet (like the Western diet high in fat and cholesterol) excessive fat builds up in each cell creating the jamming process that prevents glucose from entering. If fat, called intramyocellular lipid, accumulates inside the cell it interferes with insulin’s intracellular signaling process.

Tiny organelles, called mitochondria, are supposed to burn fat. But their failure to keep up with the accumulating fat may be the origin of Type II diabetes. It turns out fatty foods actually do more than add excessive fat to each cell—they also interfere by turning off the genes that would help them create mitochondria and thus burn fat. The genes become disabled and do not allow the cells to produce the needed mitochondria. Your ability to eliminate fat inside your cells seems to slow down when you eat fatty foods.

Continue this faulty intracellular activity long enough, and guess what—you end up being diagnosed with Type II diabetes. This scenario of explanation is a good one, but new research is suggesting that other variables are involved in connecting obesity to insulin resistance. All of this leads (in this diabetic’s humble opinion) to answering the question why does the excess fat in a cell lead to the disabling of genes? What is the etiology of disabled genes in diabetics.

New Research Findings Emerge

 In November 2007 Science Daily reported that researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine have discovered that Inflammation provoked by immune cells called macrophages leads to insulin resistance and Type II diabetes. Their discovery may pave the way to novel drug development to fight the epidemic of Type II diabetes associated with obesity, the most prevalent metabolic disease worldwide. But, as you will shortly see, inflammation is intimately related or involved in a number of medical conditions and diseases.

 A Quick Definition of Inflammation and Its Relationship to Disease

 A quick definition of inflammation is needed. Inflammation is the first response by the immune system to infection or irritation. It often involves redness, heat, pain, swelling, and dysfunction of the organ involved. Chronic inflammation is an ongoing, low level of inflammation, invisible to the human eye and is associated with many diseases (this was an eye opener to me) including: Heart Disease, Cancer, Stroke, Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, Alzheimer’s Disease, many forms of arthritis such as Rheumatoid and Lupus, Inflammatory Bowel Disease such as Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease, age-related Macular Degeneration, Sepsis which is infection in the blood stream, Multiple Sclerosis, hundreds of diseases ending in “itis” including Meningitis, Acne, and everyone’s favorite—Allergies. The mechanisms of Inflammation are complex, but just understand that it is controlled by fatty acids called prostaglandins. Just like cholesterol there are “good” prostaglandins and “bad” prostaglandins.

 Discovery of Inflammation and Diabetes

In recent years, it has been theorized that chronic, low-grade tissue inflammation related to obesity contributes to insulin resistance, the major cause of Type II diabetes. In research done in mouse models, the UCSD scientists proved that, by disabling the macrophage inflammatory pathway, insulin resistance and the resultant Type II diabetes can be prevented.

The findings of the research team, led by principle investigators Michael Karin, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology in UCSD’s Laboratory of Gene Regulation and Signal Transduction, and Jerrold Olefsky, Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean for Scientific Affairs, were published as the feature article in an issue of Cell Metabolism.

According to Olefsky, “Our research shows that insulin resistance can be disassociated from the increase in body fat associated with obesity.” Macrophages, found in white blood cells in the bone marrow, are key players in the immune response. When these immune cells get into tissues, such as adipose (fat) or liver tissue, they release cytokines, which are chemical messenger molecules used by immune and nerve cells to communicate. These cytokines cause the neighboring liver, muscle or fat cells to become insulin resistant, which in turn can lead to Type II diabetes.

The UCSD research team showed that the macrophage is the cause of this cascade of events by knocking out a key component of the inflammatory pathway in the macrophage, JNK1, in a mouse model. This was done through a procedure called adoptive bone marrow transfer, which resulted in the knockout of JNK1 in cells derived from the bone marrow, including macrophages.

With this procedure, bone marrow was transplanted from a global JNK1 knockout mouse (lacking JNK1 in all cell types) into a normal mouse that had been irradiated to kill off its endogenous bone marrow. This resulted in a chimeric mouse in which all tissues were normal except the bone marrow, which is where macrophages originate. As a control, the scientists used normal, wild-type mice as well as mice lacking JNK1 in all cell types. These control mice were also subjected to irradiation and bone marrow transfer.

The mice were all fed a high-fat diet. In regular, wild-type mice, this diet would normally result in obesity, leading to inflammation, insulin resistance and mild Type 2 diabetes. The chimeric mice, lacking JNK1 in bone marrow-derived cells, did become obese; however, they showed a striking absence of insulin resistance — a pre-condition that can lead to development of Type 2 diabetes.

“If we can block or disarm this macrophage inflammatory pathway in humans, we could interrupt the cascade that leads to insulin resistance and diabetes,” said Olefsky. “A small molecule compound to block JNK1 could prove a potent insulin-sensitizing, anti-diabetic agent.”

The research also proved that obesity without inflammation does not result in insulin resistance. Olefsky explained that when an animal or a human being becomes obese, they develop steatosis, or increased fat in the liver. The steatosis leads to liver inflammation and hepatic insulin resistance.

The chimeric mice did develop fatty livers, but not inflammation. “Their livers remained normal in terms of insulin sensitivity,” said Olefsky, adding that this shows that insulin resistance can also be disassociated from fatty liver. “We aren’t suggesting that obesity is healthy, but indications are promising that, by blocking the macrophage pathway, scientists may find a way to prevent the Type II diabetes now linked to obesity and fatty livers,” Olefsky said.

In a related study, it was found that inflammation-causing cells in fat tissue may explain the link between obesity and diabetes. The findings came from Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers in Melbourne, Australia. The discovery, by Professor Len Harrison and Dr John Wentworth from the institute’s Autoimmunity and Transplantation division, opens the way for new anti-inflammatory treatments that prevent insulin resistance (where the body is unable to respond to and use the insulin it produces) and other complications associated with obesity.

“We have shown that insulin resistance in human obesity is closely related to the presence of inflammatory cells in fat tissue, in particular a population of macrophage cells,” Professor Harrison said.

Once again this research team had similar findings to those of UCSD scientists. That is, macrophages, white blood cells derived from the bone marrow, are immune cells that normally respond to infections. In obese people, macrophages move into the fat tissue where they cause inflammation and release cytokines, which are chemical messenger molecules used by immune cells to communicate. Certain cytokines cause cells to become resistant to the effects of the hormone insulin, leading to diabetes and heart disease.

My hypothesis (as a diabetic, not as a medical doctor) is that these cytokines cause the genes that produce mitochondria in our cells (especially adipose cells) to become disabled. It is only a hypothesis of mine but it would be theoretically very informative if some future research were to experimentally prove this.

 Other Studies of Importance

 It probably should be no surprise that inflammation in the body has an effect on other medical problems, including Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a condition whereby a combination of medical disorders that, when occuring together, increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Some studies have shown the prevalence in the USA to be an estimated 25% of the population, and prevalence increases with age.

Individuals who are obese are at increased risk of developing a combination of medical disorders associated with type II diabetes and heart disease known as the metabolic syndrome. Recent studies have suggested that adipose (fat) tissue obesity induces an inflammatory state that is crucial to the development of the metabolic syndrome. UCLA researchers demonstrated that an over-the-counter dietary supplement may help inhibit development of insulin resistance and glucose intolerance, conditions that are involved in the development of Type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which affect millions worldwide.

In this early preclinical study, a naturally produced amino acid-like molecule called GABA was given orally to mice that were obese, insulin resistant and in the early stages of Type II diabetes. Researchers found that GABA suppressed the inflammatory immune responses that are involved in the development of this condition.

According to study authors, GABA helped prevent disease progression and improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, even after onset of Type II diabetes in mice. Researchers also identified the regulatory immune cells that likely direct GABA activity in inhibiting inflammation.

Researchers note that in the future, GABA taken as a supplement or related medications may provide new therapeutic agents for the treatment of obesity-related Type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome. However, like any substance science does not know what side effects there may be with GABA. Don’t run out to your health store just yet. Wait for the proper medical research to be conducted on GABA efficacy and safety. Nobody wants to wait forever for something that may work but FDA approval and the proper research protocols must be followed first. Does this mean we can’t utilize the new research to our advantage right now? No— not at all. One area we do have control over is the food we eat and the lifestyle we choose for ourselves. It’s time we all come into the 21st C entury folks. Your doctor isn’t responsible for your health—YOU ARE.

Connections

I am a 69 year old diabetic who has had diabetes since August 1991 (I was 48 years old at time of diagnosis). I ask myself, how can this new information help me? I’ve been a Vegan for two years that helped launch me down the road to successfully losing weight (16 lb weight loss in 2011, but virtually very little weight loss in 2012).

In 2012 Sciatica visited the nerves in my lower back and down my left leg, hamstring, thigh, and buttocks. The pain impacted my ability, particularly after my USA Track & Field Meets were over in July, to exercise 4-5 days a week the rest of the year. This in turn helped explain why my weight loss stood still in 2012.

With physical therapy I have been getting better and intend on returning to a good schedule of exercise in 2013. In terms of food consumption, as a tool to fight inflammation, I have decided to integrate my Vegan diet with the Anti-Inflammation Diet. For those interested in understanding the Vegan diet please read some of my earlier Blogs.

People should be asking themselves this question: If inflammation (low-grade or otherwise) plays a role in many other diseases besides Diabetes what dietary changes can I make to increase the success in lessening inflammation in the body? I’m glad you asked. Here is what I’m going to do about it. As always, see your primary care physician before undertaking any program.

Because of what is involved in using the anti-inflammatory diet and the vast amount of information available I simply, with the rest of this Blog, want to accomplish two things: (1) make the reader aware of two books I found valuable with reducing inflammation, and (2) give the reader a preview of the kinds of food one can eat right away to reduce inflammation in the body. These books are: (1) The Idiot’s Guide to The Anti-Inflammation Diet by Christopher P. Cannon, M.D., and Elizabeth Vierck., and (2) The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book by Jessica K. Black, N.D.

 Top 10 Anti-Inflammatory and Inflammatory Foods

The above books listed go into great detail on the Anti-Inflammation Diet. In the meantime, here are some quick suggestions.

 Foods to Consume:

  • Wild Alaskan Salmon
  • Kelp
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Cruciferous Vegetables
  • Blueberries
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Green Tea
  • Sweet Potatoes

 Foods to Avoid:

  •  Sugar
  • Common Cooking Oils
  • Trans Fats
  • Dairy
  • Feedlot-Raised Meat
  • Red and Processed Meats
  • Alcohol
  • Refined Grains
  • Artificial Food Additives

 Final Advice:

      Add lots of fruits and vegetables to your diet, nuts and legumes, whole grains, take a daily multiple vitamin-mineral; and, when in the grocery store—READ THE LABELS.

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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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