Living Lite

Are Hours of Sitting Correlated with Chronic Disease & Early Death?

September 25, 2016

A ground-breaking study published in The Lancet medical jpurnal in 1953 found that London bus drivers experienced an increased risk of heart disease compared with conductors. Since then, study after study have confirmed that hours of sitting are correlated with chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, many cancers, and early death. This statistic is frightening as it means that we desk jockies are doomed. 

Today, being sedentary is the norm. Data from high-income countries suggest that the majority of our time being awake is spent being sedentary. That said, high amounts of sedentary behavior has been associated with increased risk for several chronic diseases and early death. This begs the question: if you're active enough, can these negative health outcomes be reversed?

A new review of 16 studies and one million people published in The Lancet looked at hours of sitting and hours of excerise. While this review confirmed the association between sitting and increased death, there was one exception. People in the highest exercise group, who exercised 60 to 75 minutes per day, did not experience adverse effects of sitting, even if they sat 8 hours per day - that is, unless the sitting involved 5 hours ofTV viewing or more per day.

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Keeping Appetite in Control While Losing Weight

September 18, 2016

Trying to lose weight and stay fit seems daunting at times. The proof of our universal difficulties is evident when you consider that most of us -two-thirds of the U.S. population - tip the scales with numbers higher than medical authorities say is healthful.

The origin of the frustrations we're facing today can be traced back 100,000 or more years. By then, our genetic code had been established during millions of years of evolution, and it hasn't changed much since. We evolved in an environment where food was scarce; and we faced regular famines. To overcome these obstacles, we developed a strong appetite for food which enabled us to survive. If you didn't have a strong appetite, you didn't survive through the regular famines. And we, my friends, are descended from the survivors! We have very strong appetites and love our food! Think about it: a loss of appetite is usually a sign of sickness, or even dying.

But in the relative affluence of modern life, our appetites may now cause us grief - and girth.  So how do we lose weight, that is - take in fewer calories than we burn - and not feel hungry? A recent study looked at this question. It pitted increased exercise against a 25% calorie restriction to see which one would made us feel hungrier (that means calorie intake was 25% lower than the level of calories that would maintain weight).

Compared with exercise alone, a 25% calorie restriction "created a greater challenge to appetite," according to the study recently published in the Amerian Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It increased the hunger hormone, ghrelin, which upped appetite, made food more attractive, caused more snacking, and less successful weight loss.

But this study had a major downfall - the severe calorie restriction - 25% - in the calorie restricted group. I don't recommend a 25% calorie reduction as it's much too low to be sustainable.  In fact, I've found if meals are balanced correctly with the right kinds of foods, including foods you enjoy, if the timing of meals is right, and there's at least a minimal amount of physical activity, you can lose weight while feeling satisfied. But, I also agree with the study: if there is no physical activity at all, then a stricter calorie reduction would probably be necessary - making your program impossible to have lasting results.

Interestingly, most diet studies which conclude that diets don't work, use very restrictive regimens (as this one did), that are almost guaranteed to fail. Just something to think about the next time you read another doomsday report about how weight loss doesn't last! As there is plenty of proof that many people lose weight and keep it off successfully.

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September 5, 2016

Ginger has been used for medicinal purposes for 5,000 years; first by the Chinese and Indians, then exported to the Roman Empire more than 2,000 years ago. Queen Elizabeth I of England created the Gingerbread Man, now a popular holiday treat. Ginger can be fresh, dried and candied

There are 115 compounds in various forms of ginger contributing to its distinct flavor and aroma. Many of these compounds are also responsible for ginger's antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticarcinogenic properties. Depending on the form of and purpose for the ginger, the recommended daily dose is about one fifth to one teaspoon per day.

Historically, ginger was regarded as the great medicine or "mahaoushadha" in India. In ayurvedic medicine, ginger is used for digestive issues, fever and respiratory conditions. Modern science has confirmed many of these long-held beliefs. 

Several studies have found ginger reduces nausea. Others show it increases stomach emptying and intestinal motility; characteristics which decrease constipation. New research found that just 1 gram (one fifth of a teaspoon) of ginger reduced 26 percent of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms after 28 days. It also reduces pain during menstruation. 

Three clinical studies showed about 2 grams (About one quarter of a teaspoon) of ginger was effective in treating colorectal cancer. Apparently, the bioactive compounds in ginger reduce cellular proliferation in the colorectal lining. 

My advice? Find ways to add ginger to your diet

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