Fat Consumption is the Only Cause of Weight Gain – Study

Back in 2010 when I started writing this blog, it was all about gaining and losing weight. Since then the focus has broadened out to general good health, exercising and keeping one’s brain functioning. Nonetheless, I thought this study on fat and weight gain worth reporting.

Scientists from the University of Aberdeen and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have undertaken the largest study of its kind looking at what components of diet – fat, carbohydrates or protein – caused mice to gain weight.

Since food consists of fat, protein and carbs, it has proven difficult to pinpoint exactly what aspect of the typical diet leads to weight gain.

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The mice were fed these diets for three months, which is equivalent to nine years in humans. In total over 100,000 measurements were made of body weight changes and their body fat was measured using a micro MRI machine. NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.

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Biking linked to lower cardiovascular disease risk – AHA

Can I get an Amen?

People who bike regularly, either for pleasure or as a way to commute, appear to have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, according to two separate studies published simultaneously in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation and Journal of the American Heart Association, the AHA/ASA’s Open Access Journal.

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My dog and me rounding a turn on Northerly Island, just south of the Chicago Loop.

While structured cycling as part of a formal workout routine is already known to guard against cardiovascular illness, little is known about the effects of habitual biking done for leisure or as a way to commute. Together, the findings from the newly published studies suggest that leisure and commuter biking may be an important public health strategy in large-scale efforts to reduce cardiovascular risk.

In the Circulation study, 45,000 Danish adults (aged 50 to 65) who regularly biked for recreation or to commute had between 11 percent and 18 percent fewer heart attacks during a 20-year follow-up (1993-2013).

The analysis showed that as little as half an hour of biking per week provided some protection against coronary artery disease. Additionally, people who took up biking during the first five years the authors followed them had about a 25 percent lower risk of developing heart disease, compared with those who remained non-bikers in the subsequent 15-year period.

Researchers caution that their findings do not prove definitively that riding a bike for leisure or to and from work can prevent heart attacks. However, they say, the lower number of cardiovascular events observed among those who biked on a regular basis is a strong indicator that such activity can boost cardiovascular health.

“Finding time for exercise can be challenging for many people, so clinicians working in the field of cardiovascular risk prevention should consider promoting cycling as a mode of transportation,” said Anders Grøntved, M.Sc., M.P.H., Ph.D., senior study author and associate professor of physical activity epidemiology at the University of Southern Denmark.

Researchers also tracked participants’ overall exercise habits, activity levels and frequency of bicycle riding, along with heart disease risk factors, such as blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, smoking, diet and alcohol consumption. Participants were asked to provide information about cycling habits at the onset of the study and once more in five years.

In all, there were 2,892 heart attacks during the 20-year follow-up. Researchers estimate that more than 7 percent of all heart attacks could have been averted by taking up cycling and keeping it up on a regular basis.

“Because recreational and commuter biking is an easy way to make physical activity part of one’s routine in a non-structured and informal fashion, based on the results, public health authorities, governments and employers ought to consider initiatives that promote bicycle riding as a way to support large-scale cardiovascular disease prevention efforts,” said Kim Blond, M.Sc, lead author and research assistant at the University of Southern Denmark.

The Journal of the American Heart Association study revealed that middle-aged and older Swedish adults who biked to work were less likely than non-bikers to be obese, have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or pre-diabetes — all critical drivers of cardiovascular risk.

Researchers followed more than 20,000 people in their 40s, 50s and 60s over 10 years and monitored their commuting habits, weight, cholesterol levels, blood glucose and blood pressure.

At the beginning of the study, active commuters (biked to work) were 15 percent less likely to be obese, 13 percent less likely have high blood pressure, 15 percent less likely to have high cholesterol and 12 percent less likely to have pre-diabetes or diabetes, compared with passive commuters (used public transportation or drove to work).

During a follow-up exam 10 years later, the portion of study participants who switched from passive commuting to active commuting also had an improved risk profile. They were less likely to be obese, have diabetes, hypertension or elevated cholesterol, compared with non-bikers.

Collectively, at the 10-year follow-up, those who maintained biking or took up biking at some point had a 39-percent lower risk of obesity, 11 percent lower risk of high blood pressure, 20 percent lower risk of high cholesterol and 18 percent lower diabetes risk.

“We found active commuting, which has the additional advantages of being time-efficient, cheaper and environmentally friendly is also great for your health,” said Paul Franks, Ph.D., senior study author, professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences at Lund University in Sweden and guest professor at Umeå University in Sweden. “The multiple advantages of active commuting over structured exercise may help clinicians convey a message that many patients will embrace more readily than being told to join a gym, go for a jog or join a sports team.”

Researchers noted that there was no minimum amount of time or distance required to reduce one’s risk, even though people who biked longer or more often experienced small additional gains in risk reduction.

Because the study was observational, it is difficult to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between improved cardiovascular health and commuter biking, but the findings do indicate a strong cardio-protective effect from cycling.

Based on their findings, researchers also estimated that maintaining biking habits or switching from passive commuting to biking may have prevented 24 percent of obesity cases, 6 percent of hypertension diagnoses, 13 percent of high cholesterol diagnoses, and 11 percent of the cases of diabetes.

“The really good news here is that it’s never too late to benefit from an active lifestyle,” Franks said. “People who switched from passive to active commuting saw considerable gains in their cardiovascular health.”

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Suffering from Triskaidekaphobia?

Feeling blue on Friday the 13th? Perhaps you are triskaidecaphobic, which is to say, fearful of Friday the 13th.

Wikipedia says, “Triskaidekaphobia (from Greek tris meaning “3”, kai meaning “and”, deka meaning “10” and phobos meaning “fear” or “morbid fear”) is fear of the number 13 and avoidance to use it; it is a superstition and related to the specific fear of the 13th person at the Last Supper being Judas, who was said to have stabbed Jesus Christ in the back (metaphorically). It is also a reason for the fear of Friday the 13th.”

The publication Environmental Nutrition offers the following 5 foods that are super nutritious and might bring you good luck at least in terms of your general health.

Amazing avocados, is their first offering. “Ounce for ounce, they contain more blood-pressure lowering potassium than bananas. Avocados are rich in good-for-you monounsaturated fats, and cholesterole-lowering beta-sitosterol and cancer-protective glutathione, along with Vitamin E, folate, vitamin B6 and fiber.”

Brain-boosting blueberries come in second. “These little blue marvels are the antioxidant leaders, plump and nearly 4 grams of fiber per cup and a good dose of vitamin C. They also have cancer-protective ellagic acid, and may boost your brain health and vision.”

Anti-cancer Brazil nuts come in third. “This hearty tree nut is a ‘trigger food’ that may cause cancer cells to self-destruct. It’s a super source of selenium, a promising anti-cancer trace mineral that also promotes DNA repair and boosts immunity. Just two medium nuts contain enough selenium to perhaps reduce the incidence of prostate, colon and lung cancers.”

Good old Broccoli is number four. “Here’s an easy way to get two cancer-blockers that modify natural estrogens into less damaging forms and increase the activity of enzymes that fight carcinogens. Aim for three servings a week of broccoli or its cruciferous cousins.”

Number five is Butternut Squash. “This tasty fruit (yes, fruit) is an exceptional source of beta-carotene, the antiooxidant tyour body converts to vitamin A. But it’s also an overlooked source of bone-building calcium.”

So, look on the bright side and focus on the great nutritional benefits you can derive from these five super foods and forget about the fact that today is Friday the 13th. Just don’t walk under any ladders.

Tony

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Weekend funnies …

I hope you are ready for a really fun weekend. If you are any kind of a francophile you may be celebrating Bastille Day.

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You can tell it’s not leap year.

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Tony

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How much do you know about birth order?

As an older brother in a family with two boys, I have always been fascinated by birth order stories. Which child you were certainly influences how you relate to others.

Here is my understanding of birth order. As a first born, I related initially up to parents and adults. So, I have been respectful of authority. My brother, as a second born, initially related across to his sibling. So, he tended to be less concerned about authority figures. First borns generally follow the rules while second borns tend to be more rebellious. Many of the great discoveries were made by second born children, like Darwin and Pasteur.

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Here is what Wikipedia has to say about birth order: “Birth order refers to the order a child is born in their family; first-born and second-born are examples. Birth order is often believed to have a profound and lasting effect on psychological development. This assertion has been repeatedly challenged. Recent research has consistently found that earlier born children score slightly higher on average on measures of intelligence, but has found zero, or almost zero, robust effect of birth order on personality. Nevertheless, the notion that birth-order significantly influences personality continues to have a strong presence in pop psychology and popular culture.”

Web Md has a neat quiz on it. Here is the first question:

Can birth order affect your job choice?

Answer:  A first-born or only child may be more likely to become a doctor or lawyer. Younger siblings more often turn to the arts or the outdoors. In part, you can credit parenting. Parents may over-protect oldests or onlies. So they tend to follow more brain-based interests. When later children show up, parents can be more relaxed and hands-off.

I hope you enjoy the quiz no matter where you fall in your family’s order.

 

Tony

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Exercise Creates Optimal Brain State for Mastering New Motor Skills

As I have said numerous times here, I love it when fresh news meets my bias. The one I am thinking about is how physical exercise benefits brain function. You can check out my post – Can exercise help me to learn? And, don’t forget my Page – Important facts about your brain – and exercise benefits.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If you want to learn to walk a tightrope, it’s a good idea to go for a short run after each practice session. That’s because a recent study in NeuroImage demonstrates that exercise performed immediately after practicing a new motor skill improves its long-term retention. More specifically, the research shows, for the first time, that as little as a single fifteen-minute bout of cardiovascular exercise increases brain connectivity and efficiency. It’s a discovery that could, in principle, accelerate recovery of motor skills in patients who have suffered a stroke or who face mobility problems following an injury. Continue reading

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How Shift Work Disrupts Metabolism

This time it’s personal. A hundred years ago, it seems (actually it was 1977), I worked for Reuters News Service. I had the good fortune, I thought, of being sent to London to experience the international news desk. That turned out to be a wonderful educational as well as professional experience. However, part of my deal was that since I was the Yank who was only there for a year, they used me to fill every staffing vacancy that came up. As a result I often worked two or three different shifts in a week. I have to tell you that I have never felt so discombobulated in my life. I would wake up and not know if it was morning or night. All my body rhythms got fried. So, I really related to the following study.

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Researchers report metabolic disruptions often seen in shift workers are not influenced by the brain’s circadian rhythm, but by peripheral oscillators in the liver, gut and pancreas. Source: Washington State University.

Working night shifts or other nonstandard work schedules increases your risk of becoming obese and developing diabetes and other metabolic disorders, which ultimately also raises your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Exactly why this happens has been unclear, but a new study conducted at Washington State University (WSU) has brought scientists closer to finding the answer. Continue reading

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Virus May Boost — Not Weaken — Our Immune Systems

Finally some good news about being a senior comes from these University of Arizona researchers.

Lifelong cytomegalovirus infection may boost the immune system in old age, when we need it most, according to a study led by University of Arizona researchers.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Our immune system is at its peak when we’re young, but after a certain age, it declines and it becomes more difficult for our bodies to fight off new infections.

“That’s why older people are more susceptible to infections than younger people,” explained Dr. Janko Nikolich-Žugich, co-director of the University of Arizona Center on Aging and chairman of the Department of Immunobiology at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.

In search of a way to rejuvenate the immune system of older adults, Nikolich-Žugich and Megan Smithey began researching cytomegalovirus, or CMV. The virus, which is usually contracted at a young age, affects more than half of all individuals. Because there is no cure, the virus is carried for life and is particularly prevalent in older adults. Continue reading

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It’s Official – Spending Time Outside is Good For You

As a guy who feels like going to the health club feels like being to prison, I can’t tell you how happy I was to run across this study.

Living close to nature and spending time outside has significant and wide-ranging health benefits – according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

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A new report  reveals that exposure to green space reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure.

Populations with higher levels of green space exposure are also more likely to report good overall health – according to global data involving more than 290 million people.

Lead author Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “Spending time in nature certainly makes us feel healthier, but until now the impact on our long-term wellbeing hasn’t been fully understood. Continue reading

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Time Spent Sitting Linked to Higher Risk of Death from 14 Diseases

I confess, I love it when new discoveries meet my bias. I created the Page – Do you know the dangers of too much sitting? nine months ago. What follows is the latest information on prolonged sitting from the American Cancer Society (ACS).

14-1-114A new ACS study links prolonged sitting time with a higher risk of death from all causes, including 14 of 22 measured causes of death and 8 of the 10 most common causes of death. The link existed even after adjusting for levels of moderate-vigorous intensity physical activity. The study appears early online in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Advancements in technology have led to a significant increase in the amount of time spent sitting. In addition, sedentary time increases with aging, a time when the risk of chronic disease also increases. In the United States, most leisure time is spent in sedentary behaviors such as television viewing. In one Australian study, it was estimated that 90% of total non-occupational time was spent sedentary, and that 53% of sedentary time was spent on screen time (computer or television). Continue reading

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Filed under cancer, coronary heart disease, diabetes, prolonged sitting, sedentary lifestyle, sitting, sitting too long, stroke

Weekend funnies …

I hope you are all adjusting to this crazy week with a national holiday in the middle of it. I woke up Thursday convinced it was Monday and the start of a new week. Have a great weekend!

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Deer me …

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Texting away …

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Feeling young could mean your brain is aging more slowly

As a 78-year-old writing blog on diet, exercise and living past 100, I am keenly interested in everything that reflects on the brain and its part in aging, as well as the actual aging of the brain itself. Remember, I have three cases of dementia in my family including one certain one of Alzheimer’s.

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This is a shot of my dog and me riding on the Chicago Lakefront last year.

While everyone gets older, not everyone feels their age. A recent study finds that such feelings, called subjective age, may reflect brain aging. Using MRI brain scans, researchers found that elderly people who feel younger than their age show fewer signs of brain aging, compared with those who feel their age or older than their age. Published in open-access journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, this study is the first to find a link between subjective age and brain aging. The results suggest that elderly people who feel older than their age should consider caring for their brain health.

We tend to think of aging as a fixed process, where our bodies and minds change steadily. However, the passing years affect everyone differently. How old we feel, which is called our subjective age, also varies between people—with many feeling older or younger than their actual age. Continue reading

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Filed under aging, aging brain, aging myths, Exercise, exercise benefits, successful aging, summer biking, Uncategorized, youth

How the Brain Processes Temperature Information to Alter Behavior – Harvard

In view of the current heat wave, I thought this study would be of particular interest.

Researchers report on how specific neurons can process sensory information about temperature and facilitate a change in behavior to adapt to the climate.

Do you pause what you’re doing to put on a sweater because you feel chilly? Do you click the thermostat up a few degrees on a winter day? What about keeping a fan on your desk, or ducking into an air-conditioned room to beat the heat?

If so (and, let’s face it, everyone has), then you’ve used sensory information about your environment — the temperature — to alter your behavior.

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Haesemeyer said he plans to work on getting a more detailed picture of the neural circuit in the hind brain that translates heat information into behavior. NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.

But exactly how the brain processes that information has largely remained a mystery. To shed light on that, a team of researchers led by Martin Haesemeyer, a research associate in the labs of Florian Engert, professor of molecular and cellular biology, and Alexander Schier, the Leo Erikson Life Sciences Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, turned to an unlikely subject: zebrafish. Continue reading

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For my readers interested in bike riding …

I just ran across this infographic and thought it might be of interest to cyclists, but wait, maybe folks who don’t ride might enjoy it, too.

What do you think?

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Tony

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Weekend funnies

Herewith my contribution to your having a fun weekend.

Enjoy!

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Tony

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How to Beat the Heat

I wanted to reblog this item from last year on dealing with the heat as we seem to be entering another hot spell.The Weather Channel reported that 90 million of us will be under heat warnings this weekend. Please check this post out for suggestions on staying healthy and alive without maybe risking your life during extreme heat. Discretion is the better part of valor.

Tony

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

I personally prefer extreme cold to extreme heat, because you can always add layers and go out, but with heat, no matter how much you take off, you are still uncomfortable once you are outside.

I cruised the web and wanted to share some of the suggestions of others in the same situation.

Our friends overseas at the Daily Mail offered some very down to earth ones, including: “Eat small meals and eat more often. The larger the meal, the more metabolic heat your body creates breaking down the food. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat.”

A similar concept came up in my blog item The Brain is an Oxygen Burner explaining why we often feel sluggish after eating a big meal because digestion requires a lot of oxygen that would be going to the brain, but is diverted to the gut.

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