These Health Facts Aren’t As Clear Cut As You Might Have Thought

The health world is a very complicated place. What’s in one minute can be out the next and with little to no warning, you might feel like you have to completely uproot your everyday routine. There are a number of health tips out there, however, that seem to be grounded in fact, having been put in place for a number of years. What we know is always subject to change and as new developments are unearthed each day, so are new insights on the healthy tips we had been living by. These health facts might seem set in stone but in fact, they aren’t as clear cut as you thought they were. Sometimes, myths are called myths for a reason.

Milk Is Good For You

While you do need a certain amount of dairy in your diet, it can be found in a whole variety of different foods. By drinking milk in addition to the dairy that you’re eating naturally, you can put your health at additional risk, leading to all sorts of problems in the future. Research into milk consumption has shown that going in too heavy with the stuff can be a problem for both men and women, after having been associated with a higher mortality rate. Drink milk from time to time, of course, but don’t gulp down at every meal.

Chocolate Gives You Acne

If you’re an acne sufferer, you’re probably more than aware of the one that says you shouldn’t be eating chocolate as part of a healthy diet. Chocolate has long been associated as a cause of acne, with professionals believing that it caused clogged pores and oily complexions. It turns out, however, the facts might not be quite as concrete as we had thought. Recent research has unearthed the fact that chocolate has no effect on acne, neither contributing to nor increasing its presence. Eating chocolate from time to time won’t affect your skin in any way, even if you already have acne.

Vitamins Will Keep You Healthy

The vitamin industry is huge, founded on the fact that by taking daily supplements, you can help to keep your overall health in better knick. Things might not be as simple as that, however. Recent scientific research into the subject has unearthed the fact that vitamins might be virtually ineffective at preventing any kind of disease, potentially bringing about more harm than good. In fact, too-high doses of vitamin E, A and beta-carotene can lead to accelerated death rates when taken over a significant period of time.

Sugar Is Addictive

The case against sugar has never been more active than it is at this point in time. Does the anti-sugar campaign have all the facts, though? Research into the subject is still in its infancy but everything that has been discovered so far has not shown anything nearly as dramatic as the health world would have you think. While sugar does indeed light up the same areas of the brain as drugs like cocaine, there is no evidence to support the fact that it has addictive properties. A need for sugar might be down to other lifestyle factors, such as stress and an existing poor diet.

High Sugar Intake Causes Diabetes

We are so often told that by eating high quantities of sugar, we put ourselves at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, in which our bodies cannot control our blood sugar levels. In reality, diabetes is a hugely complex disease, put in place by a number of intricate reasons. High weight gain and incessant sugar consumption do have a correlation with diabetes but eating sugar in general will most likely not put you at risk. You can continue to eat small amounts of the stuff without the risk of developing diabetes in later life.

Cracking Your Knuckles Gives You Diabetes

An old wives tale practically as old as time itself, this health related fact has been making the rounds all over the world. Despite its popularity, however, there is nothing to suggest that it is based in fact. Research posted by the Journal of the American Board of Medicine has unearthed no link between cracked knuckles and arthritis, showing even the oldest of knuckle crackers had no signs of developing the condition.

5 Surprising Health Benefits of Coffee

Do you worry that your coffee habit is getting out of hand? Don’t put down that cup of joe just yet. Numerous research studies in recent months point to ways in which coffee may actually improve your health. Here are their findings:

It reduces your risk of premature death.

People who drink a moderate amount of coffee daily (fewer than five cups per day) have a lower risk of death from heart disease, neurological disease, type 2 diabetes and suicide, according to researchers from Harvard University. In a study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, the scientists looked at the effects of drinking caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. They observed health benefits from both. This led them to believe that coffee’s protective effects come not from caffeine, but from other chemical compounds.

“Bioactive compounds in coffee reduce insulin resistance and systematic inflammation,” said study author Ming Ding, MD, in a news release from the American Heart Association. “They might be responsible for the inverse association between coffee and mortality.”

It reverses the effects of liver disease.

Scientists in Europe recently studied the effects of coffee on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). When mice with a high fat diet were also given a daily dose of coffee, there was significant improvement in several markers for NAFLD. They also experienced less weight gain than other mice fed the same diet. The dose of coffee given was equivalent to 6 cups of coffee for a human weighing 155 lbs. The scientists concluded that coffee protects the liver from NAFLD because it reduces the permeability of the gut.

It prevents type 2 diabetes.

Three to four cups of coffee per day could reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In a report in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Natural Products, scientists revealed that two naturally occurring compounds in coffee have an impact on insulin levels in the body.

Insulin is a hormone that the body produces to convert glucose from food into energy. People with type 2 diabetes develop a resistance to insulin. The pancreas then makes more insulin to overcome this resistance, but eventually it just can’t make enough. When there’s not enough insulin, the glucose can’t be converted to energy and remains in the blood. High blood glucose levels are dangerous and can lead to blindness, nerve damage, and other health issues.

The researchers discovered that two compounds in coffee, cafestol and caffeic acid, both increase insulin secretion when glucose was present. They also found that cafestol increased glucose uptake in muscle cells, leading to lower blood glucose levels.

It’s rich in antioxidants.

When researchers from Monash University in Australia observed the behavior of free radicals in coffee, they discovered that coffee acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are compounds found in food that keep free radicals in check and prevent them from inflicting damage on cells and DNA.

Free radical reactions may be responsible for most degenerative diseases, such as atherosclerosis, cancer, inflammatory joint disease, asthma, diabetes, senile dementia and degenerative eye disease. By stabilizing free radicals, the antioxidants in coffee may help to prevent these diseases and slow the aging process.

It lowers your risk of dying from heart disease.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States, where it’s responsible for one in every four deaths. Drinking coffee may prevent this deadly condition. Researchers from the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee report that three to five cups of coffee per day may reduce your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by up to 21%.

Article sources:

Centers for Disease Control – “Heart Disease Facts”

Florence, TM. “The Role of Free Radicals in Disease.” Aust N Z J Ophthalmol. 1995 Feb;23(1):3-7.

News release: American Chemical Society

News release: American Heart Association

News release: European Association for the Study of the Liver

News release: Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee

News release: Monash University

 

 

 

Healthy Habits – How Many Do You Have?

Recent research reveals that 97% of Americans don’t have all four of these basic healthy habits.

What are the most important things you should be doing for your health? While there’s a ton of advice out there, most doctors agree that it boils down to four basic habits: watch what you eat; exercise moderately and regularly; keep an eye on your body fat percentage; and don’t smoke.

Just doing these four things lowers your risk of many health issues, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Seems simple, right? But according to recent research, only 2.7 percent of American adults adhere to all four habits.

When researchers from Oregon State University and the University of Mississippi looked at the behavior of 4,745 adults from across the United States, they were shocked to discover how few people had all four habits. Ellen Smit, senior author on the study and an associate professor in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences, remarked on the findings in a news release. “This is pretty low, to have so few people maintaining what we would consider a healthy lifestyle,” she said. “This is sort of mind boggling. There’s clearly a lot of room for improvement.”

Not smoking was the most popular healthy habit, with 71 percent of subjects avoiding cigarettes. 46 percent of subjects hit or exceeded their activity level goal. 38 percent ate well. A mere 10 percent had a body fat percentage in the normal range.

Rather than simply asking the subjects about their behavior and relying on self-reported data, the study also used actual behavioral measurements. Each subject wore an accelerometer, which is a device that measures movement. The goal was 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity per week. Smoking status was confirmed by blood samples. X-ray absorptiometry was used to determine body fat percentage. Subjects who were in the top 40 percent of people who ate foods recommended by the USDA were considered to have a good diet.

Some other remarkable findings of the study were:

  • Having a normal body fat percentage appeared to be the most important factor in achieving healthy levels of HDL and total cholesterol.
  • While only 2.7 percent of the subjects had all four healthy habits, 11 percent had none, 34 percent had one, 37 percent had two, and 16 percent had three.
  • There were differences in habits according to gender. Women were less likely to get enough exercise, but were more likely to avoid smoking and eat well.
  • Mexican Americans scored higher on the healthy eating scale than non-Hispanic white or black adults.
  • While adults over 60 had fewer healthy habits than adults ages 20-39, they were more likely to be non-smokers and eat a healthy diet.

While the findings of the study were alarming, hopefully they will serve as a wake-up call to the many American adults who have unhealthy habits. Experts agree that more research needs to be done to discover the best ways to help people incorporate healthy behaviors into their daily lives.

 

Article Sources

News release: Oregon State University

 

 

 

5 Easy Ways to Squeeze Exercise into Your Day

 

You already know you should exercise more. You’ve heard that it’s good for your heart, helps maintain a healthy weight, strengthens muscles and bones, improves mental health and mood, reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers and could increase your life span. Even knowing all this, it still can be tough to find the time to exercise when your day is jam-packed with work and family obligations.

The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise to improve cardiovascular health and decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke. That works out to approximately 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week.

Michael Jonesco, DO, a sports medicine physician at the Ohio State University (OSU) Wexner Medical Center, suggests that shorter spurts of intense exercise could be just as good for your health. “More intense activity is equally effective at preventing premature morbidity,” he says. “The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggests 20 minutes of vigorous activity 3 days per week as a less time-intensive alternative.”

Jonesco goes on to say that, according to the ACSM, “duration matters little, meaning 10 minute bursts of activity several times a day are equivalent to one longer duration of exercise.”

If you’ve been skipping exercise altogether because it feels impossible to fit in long sessions at the gym, this is great news. Scattering short bouts of exercise throughout your day feels more manageable than carving out 30 minutes to hit the gym. Several mini workouts can add up to a huge impact on your health.

We asked health and fitness experts for simple ways to squeeze exercise into a busy day. Here are their suggestions.

  1. Walk to work

You have to get to the office somehow, so why not exercise on your way to work? Ditch the car, subway or bus, and lace up your walking shoes instead. Walking is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise that people of all shapes, sizes and ages can do.

What if it’s too far to walk the whole way? Brad Thomas, a fitness trainer, wellness expert and founder of Brad Thomas Mind Body in New York City, suggests you “stroll the final forty [city] street blocks. This distance is equivalent to 2 miles. The average man or woman would burn over 300 calories walking just one-way.” If you don’t live in the city, park your car a reasonable distance from your workplace and walk the rest of the way.

  1. Take the stairs

Once you’ve made it to work, “take the stairs instead of the elevator”, says Dan Inglis, director of Sports Performance at the OSU Wexner Medical Center. Climbing stairs has numerous benefits. It increases aerobic capacity, raises the amount of HDL (“good”) cholesterol in the blood, strengthens the legs, and improves bone density in post-menopausal women.

  1. Core work on the couch

You don’t have to be a couch potato when you’re lounging around watching TV after a long day. Exercise your core muscles while catching up on your favorite shows. Mindy Kim, a yoga instructor at TruFusion in Las Vegas, NV, suggests the following exercise: “Sit up and lean back, back long, belly button to spine. Lift legs onto the coffee table and do toe taps up and down with the option to alternate legs. You’ll start to feel the burn!”

  1. Cut loose with the kids

What could be better than spending quality time with your kids while reaping the health benefits of exercise at the same time? Activities that kids do all the time just for fun are also excellent workouts for adults. Playing hopscotch, jumping rope, running around the yard, riding bikes, doing jumping jacks, and splashing in the pool are all ways to increase your heart rate and burn calories.

From Dr. Jonesco: “I use my toddler as my own personal kettlebell.  I lift her overhead, let her ride my back as I do pushups, or add some knee bends when I’m rocking her to sleep.  She sleeps, I sweat. It’s a win-win.”

  1. Strengthen at the supermarket

While walking up and down the aisles of the supermarket, use your groceries to strengthen your arms. Cristina Osorio, a kettlebell instructor at TruFusion, suggests using baskets instead of a cart. Baskets full of food act as weights to challenge your arm muscles.

The trip home from the market is an opportunity for exercise too. “Pile up as much as you can carry and walk home (if you can) with bags in-hand,” says Osorio. “Two miles with about 10-15lbs of groceries in your hands leaves you sweaty by the time you get home.”

 

Article Sources:

Dan Inglis, director of Sports Performance at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Michael Jonesco, DO, sports medicine physician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Mindy Kim, yoga instructor, TruFusion

Cristina Osorio, kettlebell instructor, TruFusion

Brad Thomas, ACSM, MFA, MA, fitness trainer & wellness expert

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “The Benefits of Physical Activity”

American Heart Association: “Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults”

Duke University: “Benefits of Taking the Stairs”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Fiber

Fiber – You’ve probably heard the word millions of times. Health experts continuously urge people to eat more fiber. Despite their recommendations, most adults still don’t usually get enough of it. An average adult needs about 25 grams of fiber a day. Adults currently only get about half of that amount each day. This can lead to many health problems. The following can help you see how important fiber is in your diet.

You Become Constipated

Everyone is different when it comes to bowel movements. Some people have one every day, while others have it only every two or three days. The problem is when someone goes from having daily bowel movements to only having one every few days – this is constipation.

Fiber helps you stay your regular. Since your body can’t digest fiber, it must clump to stool to get out of the body. This causes the stool to stay flexible making it easier to find its way out of the body.

Some people will suffer from hemorrhoids because of constipation. This is just another sign that they are not getting enough fiber in their diet.

To ensure you don’t have to deal with the uncomfortable and painful effects of constipation, eat a diet high in fiber every single day. In time, you will know whether you’re getting enough based on your bowel movements.

You Feel Hungry

Have you ever had a meal and then a few minutes later feel hungry? It’s likely because you didn’t eat enough fiber.

When you eat fiber, it swells up in your stomach. This takes up much more space than foods that do not contain it. This will keep you satiated for longer, since it takes longer to digest fiber.

You Increase Your Risk for Heart Disease

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. For many people, it’s because they don’t eat enough fiber.

Fiber helps you keep your cholesterol in check. Experts say that it’s because cholesterol sticks to fiber since it doesn’t break down in the body. When you have a bowel movement, the cholesterol leaves the body along with the fiber.

Since people who eat a lot of fiber are at lower risk for high cholesterol, their chances of heart disease are also decreased. What’s even better is that most people who get enough fiber also maintain a healthy weight. This further protects their heart.

Your Blood Sugar Levels Spike

Any sharp rises in sugar levels often result in a crash. That crash is what makes you feel so sluggish later in the day.

Foods high in carbohydrates are mostly to blame for sugar spikes. It’s important to stay away from them as much as possible.

Getting more fiber in your diet will help you stabilize your body’s sugar levels. This way you can feel alert and energized throughout the day.

What’s even more important to know is that fiber can not only help people suffering from diabetes, but it can prevent it as well. If your sugar levels remain constant, you’ll be less likely to end up with diabetes later in life.

How to Get More Fiber in Your Diet

It’s not too hard to get enough fiber in your diet. Raspberries have a lot of fiber with 8 grams in just one cup. You can add raspberries to yogurt, in a smoothie, or just eat them as they are because they are great for a sweet treat.

Oranges are another great fiber food. Not only that, they are loaded with vitamin C, which can keep you healthy. You can also add oranges to a salad, eat them alone, or squeeze yourself some fresh orange juice.

For all of the nut lovers out there, almonds can help you get the fiber you need. It also has magnesium, which is important in moving stool through your intestines. Almonds are great alone, in salads, or choose almond flour next time you’re baking.

One cup of beans has a whopping 15 grams of fiber for black ones. You can throw beans in just about anything or eat them right from a bowl. If you don’t like black, eat other types of beans because they all have a good amount of fiber in them.

Start making changes to your diet to ensure you get enough fiber. It’ll make you feel good AND protect your health.