Monday, August 10, 2009

Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin

By John Cloud

TIME MAGAZINE - Sunday, Aug. 09, 2009

As I write this, tomorrow is Tuesday, which is a cardio day. I'll spend five minutes warming up on the VersaClimber, a towering machine that requires you to move your arms and legs simultaneously. Then I'll do 30 minutes on a stair mill. On Wednesday a personal trainer will work me like a farm animal for an hour, sometimes to the point that I am dizzy — an abuse for which I pay as much as I spend on groceries in a week. Thursday is "body wedge" class, which involves another exercise contraption, this one a large foam wedge from which I will push myself up in various hateful ways for an hour. Friday will bring a 5.5-mile run, the extra half-mile my grueling expiation of any gastronomical indulgences during the week.

I have exercised like this — obsessively, a bit grimly — for years, but recently I began to wonder: Why am I doing this? Except for a two-year period at the end of an unhappy relationship — a period when I self-medicated with lots of Italian desserts — I have never been overweight. One of the most widely accepted, commonly repeated assumptions in our culture is that if you exercise, you will lose weight. But I exercise all the time, and since I ended that relationship and cut most of those desserts, my weight has returned to the same 163 lb. it has been most of my adult life. I still have gut fat that hangs over my belt when I sit. Why isn't all the exercise wiping it out? (Read "The Year in Medicine 2008: From A to Z.")

It's a question many of us could ask. More than 45 million Americans now belong to a health club, up from 23 million in 1993. We spend some $19 billion a year on gym memberships. Of course, some people join and never go. Still, as one major study — the Minnesota Heart Survey — found, more of us at least say we exercise regularly. The survey ran from 1980, when only 47% of respondents said they engaged in regular exercise, to 2000, when the figure had grown to 57%.

And yet obesity figures have risen dramatically in the same period: a third of Americans are obese, and another third count as overweight by the Federal Government's definition. Yes, it's entirely possible that those of us who regularly go to the gym would weigh even more if we exercised less. But like many other people, I get hungry after I exercise, so I often eat more on the days I work out than on the days I don't. Could exercise actually be keeping me from losing weight? (Watch TIME's video "How to Lose Hundreds of Pounds.")

The conventional wisdom that exercise is essential for shedding pounds is actually fairly new. As recently as the 1960s, doctors routinely advised against rigorous exercise, particularly for older adults who could injure themselves. Today doctors encourage even their oldest patients to exercise, which is sound advice for many reasons: People who regularly exercise are at significantly lower risk for all manner of diseases — those of the heart in particular. They less often develop cancer, diabetes and many other illnesses. But the past few years of obesity research show that the role of exercise in weight loss has been wildly overstated. (Read "Losing Weight: Can Exercise Trump Genes?")

"In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless," says Eric Ravussin, chair in diabetes and metabolism at Louisiana State University and a prominent exercise researcher. Many recent studies have found that exercise isn't as important in helping people lose weight as you hear so regularly in gym advertisements or on shows like The Biggest Loser — or, for that matter, from magazines like this one.

The basic problem is that while it's true that exercise burns calories and that you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise has another effect: it can stimulate hunger. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can negate the weight-loss benefits we just accrued. Exercise, in other words, isn't necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder.

The Compensation Problem
Earlier this year, the peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE — PLoS is the nonprofit Public Library of Science — published a remarkable study supervised by a colleague of Ravussin's, Dr. Timothy Church, who holds the rather grand title of chair in health wisdom at LSU. Church's team randomly assigned into four groups 464 overweight women who didn't regularly exercise. Women in three of the groups were asked to work out with a personal trainer for 72 min., 136 min., and 194 min. per week, respectively, for six months. Women in the fourth cluster, the control group, were told to maintain their usual physical-activity routines. All the women were asked not to change their dietary habits and to fill out monthly medical-symptom questionnaires.

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The findings were surprising. On average, the women in all the groups, even the control group, lost weight, but the women who exercised — sweating it out with a trainer several days a week for six months — did not lose significantly more weight than the control subjects did. (The control-group women may have lost weight because they were filling out those regular health forms, which may have prompted them to consume fewer doughnuts.) Some of the women in each of the four groups actually gained weight, some more than 10 lb. each.

What's going on here? Church calls it compensation, but you and I might know it as the lip-licking anticipation of perfectly salted, golden-brown French fries after a hard trip to the gym. Whether because exercise made them hungry or because they wanted to reward themselves (or both), most of the women who exercised ate more than they did before they started the experiment. Or they compensated in another way, by moving around a lot less than usual after they got home. (Read "Run For Your Lives.")

The findings are important because the government and various medical organizations routinely prescribe more and more exercise for those who want to lose weight. In 2007 the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association issued new guidelines stating that "to lose weight ... 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity may be necessary." That's 60 to 90 minutes on most days of the week, a level that not only is unrealistic for those of us trying to keep or find a job but also could easily produce, on the basis of Church's data, ravenous compensatory eating.

It's true that after six months of working out, most of the exercisers in Church's study were able to trim their waistlines slightly — by about an inch. Even so, they lost no more overall body fat than the control group did. Why not?

Church, who is 41 and has lived in Baton Rouge for nearly three years, has a theory. "I see this anecdotally amongst, like, my wife's friends," he says. "They're like, 'Ah, I'm running an hour a day, and I'm not losing any weight.'" He asks them, "What are you doing after you run?" It turns out one group of friends was stopping at Starbucks for muffins afterward. Says Church: "I don't think most people would appreciate that, wow, you only burned 200 or 300 calories, which you're going to neutralize with just half that muffin." (Read "Too Fat? Read Your E-mail.")

You might think half a muffin over an entire day wouldn't matter much, particularly if you exercise regularly. After all, doesn't exercise turn fat to muscle, and doesn't muscle process excess calories more efficiently than fat does?

Yes, although the muscle-fat relationship is often misunderstood. According to calculations published in the journal Obesity Research by a Columbia University team in 2001, a pound of muscle burns approximately six calories a day in a resting body, compared with the two calories that a pound of fat burns. Which means that after you work out hard enough to convert, say, 10 lb. of fat to muscle — a major achievement — you would be able to eat only an extra 40 calories per day, about the amount in a teaspoon of butter, before beginning to gain weight. Good luck with that.

Fundamentally, humans are not a species that evolved to dispose of many extra calories beyond what we need to live. Rats, among other species, have a far greater capacity to cope with excess calories than we do because they have more of a dark-colored tissue called brown fat. Brown fat helps produce a protein that switches off little cellular units called mitochondria, which are the cells' power plants: they help turn nutrients into energy. When they're switched off, animals don't get an energy boost. Instead, the animals literally get warmer. And as their temperature rises, calories burn effortlessly. (See TIME's health and medicine covers.)

Because rodents have a lot of brown fat, it's very difficult to make them obese, even when you force-feed them in labs. But humans — we're pathetic. We have so little brown fat that researchers didn't even report its existence in adults until earlier this year. That's one reason humans can gain weight with just an extra half-muffin a day: we almost instantly store most of the calories we don't need in our regular ("white") fat cells.

All this helps explain why our herculean exercise over the past 30 years — all the personal trainers, StairMasters and VersaClimbers; all the Pilates classes and yoga retreats and fat camps — hasn't made us thinner. After we exercise, we often crave sugary calories like those in muffins or in "sports" drinks like Gatorade. A standard 20-oz. bottle of Gatorade contains 130 calories. If you're hot and thirsty after a 20-minute run in summer heat, it's easy to guzzle that bottle in 20 seconds, in which case the caloric expenditure and the caloric intake are probably a wash. From a weight-loss perspective, you would have been better off sitting on the sofa knitting.

See pictures of what makes you eat more food.

Watch a video about fitness gadgets.

Self-Control Is like a Muscle
Many people assume that weight is mostly a matter of willpower — that we can learn both to exercise and to avoid muffins and Gatorade. A few of us can, but evolution did not build us to do this for very long. In 2000 the journal Psychological Bulletin published a paper by psychologists Mark Muraven and Roy Baumeister in which they observed that self-control is like a muscle: it weakens each day after you use it. If you force yourself to jog for an hour, your self-regulatory capacity is proportionately enfeebled. Rather than lunching on a salad, you'll be more likely to opt for pizza.

Some of us can will ourselves to overcome our basic psychology, but most of us won't be very successful. "The most powerful determinant of your dietary intake is your energy expenditure," says Steven Gortmaker, who heads Harvard's Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity. "If you're more physically active, you're going to get hungry and eat more." Gortmaker, who has studied childhood obesity, is even suspicious of the playgrounds at fast-food restaurants. "Why would they build those?" he asks. "I know it sounds kind of like conspiracy theory, but you have to think, if a kid plays five minutes and burns 50 calories, he might then go inside and consume 500 calories or even 1,000." (Read "Why Kids' Exercise Matters Less Than We Think.")

Last year the International Journal of Obesity published a paper by Gortmaker and Kendrin Sonneville of Children's Hospital Boston noting that "there is a widespread assumption that increasing activity will result in a net reduction in any energy gap" — energy gap being the term scientists use for the difference between the number of calories you use and the number you consume. But Gortmaker and Sonneville found in their 18-month study of 538 students that when kids start to exercise, they end up eating more — not just a little more, but an average of 100 calories more than they had just burned.

If evolution didn't program us to lose weight through exercise, what did it program us to do? Doesn't exercise do anything?

Sure. It does plenty. In addition to enhancing heart health and helping prevent disease, exercise improves your mental health and cognitive ability. A study published in June in the journal Neurology found that older people who exercise at least once a week are 30% more likely to maintain cognitive function than those who exercise less. Another study, released by the University of Alberta a few weeks ago, found that people with chronic back pain who exercise four days a week have 36% less disability than those who exercise only two or three days a week.

But there's some confusion about whether it is exercise — sweaty, exhausting, hunger-producing bursts of activity done exclusively to benefit our health — that leads to all these benefits or something far simpler: regularly moving during our waking hours. We all need to move more — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says our leisure-time physical activity (including things like golfing, gardening and walking) has decreased since the late 1980s, right around the time the gym boom really exploded. But do we need to stress our bodies at the gym?

Look at kids. In May a team of researchers at Peninsula Medical School in the U.K. traveled to Amsterdam to present some surprising findings to the European Congress on Obesity. The Peninsula scientists had studied 206 kids, ages 7 to 11, at three schools in and around Plymouth, a city of 250,000 on the southern coast of England. Kids at the first school, an expensive private academy, got an average of 9.2 hours per week of scheduled, usually rigorous physical education. Kids at the two other schools — one in a village near Plymouth and the other an urban school — got just 2.4 hours and 1.7 hours of PE per week, respectively.

To understand just how much physical activity the kids were getting, the Peninsula team had them wear ActiGraphs, light but sophisticated devices that measure not only the amount of physical movement the body engages in but also its intensity. During four one-week periods over consecutive school terms, the kids wore the ActiGraphs nearly every waking moment.

And no matter how much PE they got during school hours, when you look at the whole day, the kids from the three schools moved the same amount, at about the same intensity. The kids at the fancy private school underwent significantly more physical activity before 3 p.m., but overall they didn't move more. "Once they get home, if they are very active in school, they are probably staying still a bit more because they've already expended so much energy," says Alissa Frémeaux, a biostatistician who helped conduct the study. "The others are more likely to grab a bike and run around after school."

Another British study, this one from the University of Exeter, found that kids who regularly move in short bursts — running to catch a ball, racing up and down stairs to collect toys — are just as healthy as kids who participate in sports that require vigorous, sustained exercise.

See nine kid foods to avoid.

Read "Our Super-Sized Kids."

Could pushing people to exercise more actually be contributing to our obesity problem? In some respects, yes. Because exercise depletes not just the body's muscles but the brain's self-control "muscle" as well, many of us will feel greater entitlement to eat a bag of chips during that lazy time after we get back from the gym. This explains why exercise could make you heavier — or at least why even my wretched four hours of exercise a week aren't eliminating all my fat. It's likely that I am more sedentary during my nonexercise hours than I would be if I didn't exercise with such Puritan fury. If I exercised less, I might feel like walking more instead of hopping into a cab; I might have enough energy to shop for food, cook and then clean instead of ordering a satisfyingly greasy burrito.

Closing the Energy Gap
The problem ultimately is about not exercise itself but the way we've come to define it. Many obesity researchers now believe that very frequent, low-level physical activity — the kind humans did for tens of thousands of years before the leaf blower was invented — may actually work better for us than the occasional bouts of exercise you get as a gym rat. "You cannot sit still all day long and then have 30 minutes of exercise without producing stress on the muscles," says Hans-Rudolf Berthoud, a neurobiologist at LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center who has studied nutrition for 20 years. "The muscles will ache, and you may not want to move after. But to burn calories, the muscle movements don't have to be extreme. It would be better to distribute the movements throughout the day."

For his part, Berthoud rises at 5 a.m. to walk around his neighborhood several times. He also takes the stairs when possible. "Even if people can get out of their offices, out from in front of their computers, they go someplace like the mall and then take the elevator," he says. "This is the real problem, not that we don't go to the gym enough." (Read "Is There a Laziness Gene?")

I was skeptical when Berthoud said this. Don't you need to raise your heart rate and sweat in order to strengthen your cardiovascular system? Don't you need to push your muscles to the max in order to build them?

Actually, it's not clear that vigorous exercise like running carries more benefits than a moderately strenuous activity like walking while carrying groceries. You regularly hear about the benefits of exercise in news stories, but if you read the academic papers on which these stories are based, you frequently see that the research subjects who were studied didn't clobber themselves on the elliptical machine. A routine example: in June the Association for Psychological Science issued a news release saying that "physical exercise ... may indeed preserve or enhance various aspects of cognitive functioning." But in fact, those who had better cognitive function merely walked more and climbed more stairs. They didn't even walk faster; walking speed wasn't correlated with cognitive ability.

There's also growing evidence that when it comes to preventing certain diseases, losing weight may be more important than improving cardiovascular health. In June, Northwestern University researchers released the results of the longest observational study ever to investigate the relationship between aerobic fitness and the development of diabetes. The results? Being aerobically fit was far less important than having a normal body mass index in preventing the disease. And as we have seen, exercise often does little to help heavy people reach a normal weight. (Read "Physical Fitness — How Not to Get Sick.")

So why does the belief persist that exercise leads to weight loss, given all the scientific evidence to the contrary? Interestingly, until the 1970s, few obesity researchers promoted exercise as critical for weight reduction. As recently as 1992, when a stout Bill Clinton became famous for his jogging and McDonald's habits, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published an article that began, "Recently, the interest in the potential of adding exercise to the treatment of obesity has increased." The article went on to note that incorporating exercise training into obesity treatment had led to "inconsistent" results. "The increased energy expenditure obtained by training may be compensated by a decrease in non-training physical activities," the authors wrote.

Then how did the exercise-to-lose-weight mantra become so ingrained? Public-health officials have been reluctant to downplay exercise because those who are more physically active are, overall, healthier. Plus, it's hard even for experts to renounce the notion that exercise is essential for weight loss. For years, psychologist Kelly Brownell ran a lab at Yale that treated obese patients with the standard, drilled-into-your-head combination of more exercise and less food. "What we found was that the treatment of obesity was very frustrating," he says. Only about 5% of participants could keep the weight off, and although those 5% were more likely to exercise than those who got fat again, Brownell says if he were running the program today, "I would probably reorient toward food and away from exercise." In 2005, Brownell co-founded Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, which focuses on food marketing and public policy — not on encouraging more exercise.

Some research has found that the obese already "exercise" more than most of the rest of us. In May, Dr. Arn Eliasson of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center reported the results of a small study that found that overweight people actually expend significantly more calories every day than people of normal weight — 3,064 vs. 2,080. He isn't the first researcher to reach this conclusion. As science writer Gary Taubes noted in his 2007 book Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health, "The obese tend to expend more energy than lean people of comparable height, sex, and bone structure, which means their metabolism is typically burning off more calories rather than less."

In short, it's what you eat, not how hard you try to work it off, that matters more in losing weight. You should exercise to improve your health, but be warned: fiery spurts of vigorous exercise could lead to weight gain. I love how exercise makes me feel, but tomorrow I might skip the VersaClimber — and skip the blueberry bar that is my usual postexercise reward.

See the top 10 food trends of 2008.

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

El Aire Acondicionado de su Vehiculo

Por favor, no encienda el A/C de inmediato al entrar al vehículo.

Primeramente se debe abrir las ventanas y después de un par de minutos encender el aire acondicionado.

He aquí por qué: según una investigación, el salpicadero del vehiculo, sillas, ambiente emiten benceno. Esta es una toxina que causa el cáncer (observe el olor de plástico cuando se calienta en el coche).

Además de causar cáncer, el benceno proporciona venenos a sus huesos, causa anemia y reduce los glóbulos blancos. La exposición prolongada es la causa de Leucemia, aumentando el riesgo de cáncer. También puede causar aborto involuntario.

El benceno es una toxina que también afecta el riñón y el hígado.

Aceptable nivel de benceno en interiores es de 50 mg por pie cúbico, un automóvil estacionado en interiores con las ventanas cerradas contendrá 400-800 mg de benceno. Si está estacionado al aire libre bajo el sol a una temperatura superior a 60 grados F, el nivel de benceno llega hasta los 2000-4000 mg, 40 veces más del nivel aceptable ... Personas que se encuentren en el coche al mantener las ventanas cerradas, inevitablemente, inhalan, en rápida sucesión cantidades excesivas de la toxina.

¿Qué es lo peor? Es sumamente difícil para su cuerpo expulsar este material tóxico.
Así que amigos, por favor, abra las ventanas y la puerta de su vehiculo antes de entrar para dar tiempo al aire en el interior y asi disipar las cosas mortales.

Pensamiento: "Cuando alguien comparte algo de valor con usted y usted se beneficia de ello, usted tiene la obligación moral de compartirlo con otros."
- Proverbio chino.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Remedio Natural contra el Cáncer

Queridos Amigos y Amigas:
Lo que van a leer a continuación salió publicado en el periódico Listín Diario, de Santo Domingo. En verdad les digo que al leerlo no creía mucho en lo que decía el artículo.
Este remedio se le debe a un Fraile Franciscano de origen brasileño, a quien llaman Fray Romano. Actualmente es maestro del seminario de Belén. Su fama se va extendiendo y como él mismo lo expresa: "Yo curo el cáncer y cualquier persona puede hacerlo, sin hacer milagros, simplemente aplicando los productos que produce la madre naturaleza".
Antes que todo, quiero contarles mi experiencia personal sobre la Bendita Receta.
Tengo conocimiento de la curación de varias personas después de beber el brebaje, a quienes, por el padecimiento de diferentes tipos de cáncer, daban menos de un mes de vida.
Luego de enterarme de las virtudes de este medicamento, totalmente natural, me he propuesto hacerlo circular, por esta vía, para que cualquier persona que tenga amigos o parientes que sufran de la enfermedad, prepare la receta y la dé a tomar. Ya verán el resultado a la semana de estar tomándolo, se los aseguro, es algo que trabaja rápidamente.
La Receta es:
* 1/2 kilo o litro de miel pura de abejas.
* Dos (2) hojas grandes, o tres (3) pequeñas, de la planta llamada Sábila (en otros países se conoce como áloe).
* Tres (3) cucharadas de licor fuerte como coñac, whisky, tequila o aguardiente (se usa como vaso-dilatador).
Despúes de lavar y quitar el polvo y las espinas a la hoja de Sábila, se cortan éstas en pequeños trozos, los cuales luego se introducen en la licuadora. Se bate hasta que se forme una pasta viscosa.
Ya está lista para tomar.
Se puede dejar por fuera de la nevera o guardarse en el refrigerador, al gusto de cada cual.
No debe quitarle la cáscara a la Sábila (aloe), ni colar el remedio.
Debe tomarse una cucharada grande, tres (3) veces por día, 15 minutos antes de cada comida .
Esto debe hacerse por 10 días seguidos.
Se aconseja agitar el frasco antes de cada toma.
El fraile advierte que si después de haber tomado la bebida salen abscesos en la piel, esto es buen síntoma.
Continúa diciendo que si después de la primera toma no se han obtenido los resultados deseados, y después de haberse hecho los exámenes pertinentes y el tumor no ha cedido, se debe beber el remedio 4 veces más, o hasta la curación total.
Desde hace seis (6) años el fraile está usando esta receta, gratuitamente, con óptimos resultados. Ha curado a varias decenas de personas en Belén y sus alrededores.
El dice que no sólo cura, sino que, también previene el cáncer.
Cura el cánceres de la piel, del cerebro, del pulmón, de la próstata, leucemia, etc., etc. ...
También cuenta que últimamente ha curado a una religiosa italiana de 29 años, enferma de esclerosis. No sólo curar el cáncer, es también un restaurador de las células y refuerza el sistema inmunológico.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

El Problema con la Fructosa

La fructosa es diferente a la glucosa. El azúcar (la glucosa) va directamente al torrente sanguíneo para que los tejidos y órganos la puedan utilizar como energía, y de ella sólo un 30 a 40 porciento pasa por el hígado."

Mientras más fructosa contenga la dieta, más alto es el subsiguiente nivel de triglicéridos en la sangre" escribe Tauber. Mientras nuestras autoridades de la salud se han enfocado principalmente en los riesgos de los niveles altos de colesterol LDL (de baja densidad), Taubes demuestra que son nuestros niveles de trigliceridos - grasas - en términos del riesgo de ataque cardiaco.

Y específicamente problemático para la gente con diabetes es el hecho que las dietas altas en fructosa nos llevan a producir más insulina, lo que a su vez nos conduce a más resistencia a la misma (insulina). Esto es porque la fructosa parece bloquear tanto el metabolismo de la glucosa en el hígado, como la síntesis de la glucosa a glicógeno, que es la forma como el hígado almacena la glucosa.

Y es aún peor, dice Taubes. La fructosa es quizás 10 veces peor que la glucosa por la manera en que nuestros cuerpos forman las AGEs, o Advanced Glycation end Products. Mientras leía a Taubes, mi Educador Certificado sobre Diabetes preferido me señaló la existencia de una provocativa entrevista con el Dr Lustig. Esta entrevista publicada originalmente en el ABC Ratio National de Australia, confirma los delineamientos del concepto de Taubes contra la fructosa."

El único órgano de su cuerpo que puede utilizar la fructosa es el hígado," la primera cosa que causa la fructosa es aumentar los niveles de ácido úrico. La fructosa inhibe el óxido nítrico, el cual de otra forma reduciría nuestra presión sanguínea. De manera que la fructosa es ahora famosa por causar hipertensión."

Lo segundo es que la fructosa inicia lo que se conoce como 'de novo lipogénesis', exceso de producción de grasas... Y entonces lo último que hace la fructosa en el hígado es que inicia la producción de una enzima... Lo que pasa es que los receptores de insulina de su hígado cesan de trabajar... Eso significa que los niveles de insulina tienen que elevarse en todo el organismo."

Cuando le pregunté al Dr Lustig el nombre de la enzima que la fructosa inicia en el hígado, me contestó que ellos la llaman "c-jun N-terminal kinase-1"o sólo JNK-1 o Junk-1 (basura-1). "Ella fosforila en el suero una proteina llamada IRS-1 (Insulin Receptor Substrate-1), la cual desactiva la proteina. Tal cosa induce la resistencia hepática a la insulina."

El artículo del Dr Lustig puede encontrarse aquí.

Esta maldita cosa!!!. De hecho "nos estamos envenenando mortalmente", concluye el Dr Lustig.

Lo que disparó el problema reciente con la fructosa empezó en 1978, con el sirope de maíz de alto contenido de fructosa. La forma más común, el HFCS-55 es 55 porciento fructosa y 45 porciento glucosa.El HFCS es ahora el endulzante más común en los EE UU. Ha reemplazado la glucosa (azúcar de mesa) especialmente en las bebidas gaseosas, pero también se encuentra en muchos otros alimentos.

Para los que leen en Inglés:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

12 Tips for Better Heart Health

Diet, sleep, fitness, and more -- how to strengthen and protect your heart right now

By Denise Mann
WebMD the Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD
How do you get a healthier heart, right now? The answer sounds too good to be true: “By simply leading a healthier life,” according to Nieca -Goldberg, MD, medical director of New York University’s Women’s Heart Program and author of Dr. Nieca Goldberg’s Complete Guide to Women’s Health.
That’s because even small, steady changes in your life mean a stronger, more efficient heart. “More than half of heart disease is preventable, and studies have shown that 90% of heart attacks in women can be prevented,” she adds. Further, the latest study in Archives of Internal Medicine shows that women who eat loads of veggies, fruit, whole grains, fish, and legumes; drink moderate amounts of alcohol; exercise; maintain a healthy weight; and don’t smoke have a whopping 92% decreased risk of having a heart attack compared with women with less healthy diets and habits.
An added bonus? “So many things we do to help our heart, like quitting smoking, eating more fiber, and moving more, also help other parts of our body, including our bones, colon, lungs, and skin,” Goldberg says. And February is Heart Disease Awareness Month, making this the perfect time to start improving your ticker -- and the rest of you.

1. Know your heart health numbers.
Establish a baseline to help plan every preventive step for the rest of the year. “You need to know if you are at risk before you can take action to lower your risk,” says Lori Mosca, MD, PhD, director of preventive cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and author of Heart to Heart: A Personal Plan for Creating a Heart-Healthy Family. Know your HDL or “good” cholesterol, LDL or “bad” cholesterol, total cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, weight, and body mass index (BMI) numbers. And make an appointment now for a check-in next February to see if your new healthy habits are making the grade.

2. Target your triglycerides.
Shoot for a level of 150 or lower, says Peter H. Jones, MD, an associate professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
“Doctors usually talk about good and bad cholesterol and most folks will have that down, but triglycerides are a better marker for high risk of diabetes and heart disease,” says Jones.
Triglycerides are also much more responsive to lifestyle changes than other types of blood fats. “Your triglycerides can drop 30% to 50% just by reducing saturated fats and reducing your weight,” Jones says.

3. Be a nut about heart health.
Your heart will love you if you eat six walnuts before lunch and dinner, according to Michael Roizen, MD, the chief wellness officer for Cleveland Clinic and chairman of the clinic’s Wellness Institute. Why? Because “walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help to decrease inflammation in the arteries surrounding your heart, so they keep your heart functioning longer and better,” promises Roizen, co-author of the best-selling You: Staying Young: The Owner’s Manual for Extending Your Warranty. “Walnuts will also make you feel fuller faster so you are less likely to overeat at meals.”
You may want to give pistachios a try as well. A recent study shows that a serving or two of pistachios each day may help reduce levels of LDL cholesterol, as long as you are mindful of calories. One cup of pistachio nuts has about 700 calories!

4. De-stress your heart.
Unplug yourself from the news cycle and your email. It’s good for you and your ticker. And that begins with your PDA. “Start turning it off for 15 minutes at a time and work up to an hour a day to reduce stress,” Goldberg says. “Stress raises blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of the stress hormone cortisol,” she says. “These days, people are less and less capable of leaving stress at the office because everyone is connected 24/7.”
Consider swapping your BlackBerry for another handheld gadget -- your iPod. “Put some relaxing music on your iPod, close your office door for 10 minutes, and listen and breathe.”

5. Get heart healthy social support.
You know exercise improves heart health by keeping weight down and raising levels of HDL cholesterol, but doing it with a friend adds benefits.
“Finding an exercise buddy is really important because social support lowers your risk of heart disease and helps you stay motivated,” Mosca says. Build up to 60 minutes of exercise a day, but even 20 minutes is better than nothing.
In fact, being married and having a strong social network may help protect against heart disease, according to a study of nearly 15,000 men and women. It turns out that people who have a spouse, go to church, join social clubs, and have a lot of friends and relatives have significantly lower blood pressure and other heart disease risk factors than loners.

6. Volunteer to fight heart disease.
People who volunteer tend to live longer than people who don’t. It’s that simple, Mosca says. “We think this is because volunteering reduces isolation and increases social connectivity.” Find a charity that means something to you and donate your time now.

7. Take a heart-felt approach to quitting smoking.
Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease, but kicking this nasty habit can be much easier said than done. “If you smoke, talk to your doctor about some of the new therapies that are available,” Goldberg says.
Need an added incentive? Take this advice to heart: “You start to improve your heart health within minutes of quitting,” she says. And the heart health dividends keep growing. “After one year, your heart disease risk is cut in half -- and after 10 years of not smoking, your heart disease risk is the same as for someone who has never smoked.”
Secondhand smoke counts too. A recent study found that women who are exposed to other people’s smoke increased their risk of heart attacks by 69%, strokes by 56%, and peripheral artery disease (PAD) by 67%, when compared with women who did not hang out around smokers. Clogged arteries in the legs, abdomen, pelvis, arms, and neck are linked with PAD. “Tell your friends to quit, too, or make new friends,” Goldberg says.

8. Drink a little alcohol a day to keep heart disease away.
“For women, up to one glass of alcohol a day and, for men, up to two glasses a day can help reduce risk of heart disease,” says Goldberg. “Alcohol may help the heart by increasing levels of HDL cholesterol,” she explains. But keep in mind: More is not merrier. “Alcohol also has calories, and too much can cause high blood pressure, worsen heart failure, and cause heart rhythm abnormalities.”

9. Strengthen your heart with weight training.
“Strength training reduces your percentage of body fat, keeps your weight down, and increases your muscle mass and endurance for aerobic exercise,” says Goldberg. “Do some weight training with free weights twice a week, making sure to focus on both your upper and lower body,” she says. “As your aerobic capacity improves through strength training, your good HDL cholesterol levels will increase.”

10. Measure your waist size to gauge your heart health.
“Take a tape measure and measure your middle,” Goldberg says. “If your waist size is more than 35 inches in women or more than 40 inches in men, this tells you that you are at increased risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.”
The best way to make a dent in that spare tire? “Get serious about being more active and get rid of simple sugar and white-floured foods in your diet,” Goldberg says, adding that these foods tend to take up residence right around the middle.

11. Reduce your blood pressure by reducing your salt.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, and reducing salt intake can help lower blood pressure. Cook with herbs in place of salt, and make sure you read food labels to see just how much salt is in prepared foods. “Aim for less than 2.3 grams [about a teaspoon] of salt per day,” Goldberg says. And keep up the good work when you are dining out, she adds. “Ask for the sauce and salad dressings on the side because restaurant food tends to be heavily salted.”

12. Sleep to your heart’s content.
People who sleep fewer than seven hours a night have higher blood pressure and higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, making the arteries more vulnerable to plaque buildup, says Goldberg. In fact, the latest research shows that people who do not get enough sleep are more than twice as likely as others to die of heart disease. Try to avoid caffeine after noon, and develop a stress-free wind-down ritual before bed. Hint? Take a bath, and don’t pay your bills right before bed.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Jengibre, medicina oriental

Actualmente el auge de la cocina oriental es enorme, y con ella es inevitable que nos lleguen numerosos ingredientes utilizados por ellos desde siempre. Uno de estos es el jengibre, un tubérculo utilizado habitualmente en países como India, China y Japón donde saben usarlo a la perfección en gran variedad de platos.
Su uso en el mundo oriental siempre ha sido como especia, aunque también es cierto que se ha utilizado muchas veces como remedio para tratar males y afecciones. Esta fama de alimento curativo, a la vez que de condimento ideal, es lo que ha propiciado su gran uso y consumo en occidente. Desde Vitónica vamos a hacer un breve repaso a esas propiedades del jengibre.
Este singular tubérculo posee un peculiar sabor mezcla de amargo y picante, por lo que es un buen condimento y combina bastante bien con salsas y sopas, aunque se puede utilizar en todo tipo de recetas sin perder un ápice de sus propiedades. Desde la antigüedad se ha utilizado en la comida de los marineros para evitar mareos y el escorbuto, y en la medicina hindú se usaba para curar enfermedades musculares y reumáticas.
Actualmente se le conoce por ser un potente estimulador de los jugos gástricos, por lo que ayuda a la hora de hacer la digestión. Además nos ayuda a aliviar los efectos de la gripe y la tos. El jengibre es una hierba medicinal que se usa en el tratamiento de la dispepsia, pues evita problemas digestivos como hinchazón, acidez, flatulencia y nauseas. Además, ayuda a proteger las paredes estomacales y a prevenir la úlcera.
Hay que destacar sus propiedades antiinflamatorias que podemos encontrar en sus aceites, que son compuestos activos inhibidores de la biosíntesis de prostaglandinas, que en exceso causan la inflamación. Es por esto que es un buen remedio para la artritis. Además, es una gran fuente de antioxidantes naturales que protegen nuestras células. En estudios recientes se ha descubierto que contiene más dosis de antioxidantes que muchos de los que se comercializan en farmacias.
A consecuencia de su alto contenido antioxidante, el jengibre es un perfecto aliado contra el cáncer de ovario, puesto que elimina las células cancerígenas en los ovarios o reduce la resistencia de estas células a los tratamientos con quimioterapia. Además, es un potente vasodilatador con lo que la temperatura de nuestro cuerpo aumenta cuando lo consumimos.
Podemos encontrar jengibre en numerosos puntos de venta, tanto en tiendas de alimentación oriental como en fruterías… Se presenta como una raíz, aunque se puede conseguir ya elaborado.
El jengibre durante 5000 años era resonado como la "medicina universal" por los ancestros orientales de China e India y altamente buscado después por los comerciantes de especies.
Hoy, el jengibre permanece como un componente de mas del 50% de las medicinas yerbales tradicionales, y ha sido usado durante siglos para tratar la náusea, indigestión, fiebre, infección, y para promover vitalidad y longevidad.
Es aseverado que el jengibre puede salvar miles de vidas y billones de dólares en los días de trabajo perdidos. La especie favorita del mundo tiene la reputación de tener cualidades que pueden prevenir ataques del corazón, dolor de artritis, dolores intestinales, prevenir la gripe, cáncer de la piel, y ayuda la perdida de peso.
El brebaje o té de jengibre de la raíz fresca ha sido usado en china e India por siglos como un bajativo para ayudar a la digestión. Las enzimas del jengibre catalizan rápidamente las proteínas digestivas en el estómago por lo que dejan poco tiempo para la náusea. El efecto es obvio para un vuelo normal de avión, o viaje terrestre, o para los niños y mujeres embarazadas.
Como Antiemetico y anti mareo y movimiento.
El jengibre en polvo has sido comparado con drogas estándares usadas en combatir nausea y mareo postoperativo. Pruebas han demostrado el requerimiento antiemético postoperativo era bajo en los pacientes que recibian jengibre. El jengibre es un profiláctico antiemético prometedor y efectivo, el cual debe ser especialmente útil en casos de cirugía.
Ha sido reportado que el jengibre era efectivo en reducir la nausea y vomito postoperativo en un grupo de 60 mujeres después de una cirugía ginecológica mayor.
Como Antiinflamatorio (Reumatismo).
Un estudio danés ha encontrado que el consumo de jengibre significativamente alivia el dolor asociado a la artritis reumática, osteoporosis, y pacientes con desordenes musculares.
En un estudio 56 pacientes (28 reumatoide, 18 osteo, 10 muscular) fueron estudiados durante periodos de 3 meses a 2 años y medio. Tres cuartos de los 46 pacientes con artritis experimentaron "variar niveles, alivio en el dolor e hinchazón." Todos los pacientes con disconformidad muscular experimentaron "alivio del dolor." Durante el periodo de las pruebas, ningún paciente reporto algún efecto secundario por el consumo consistente de jengibre. Otros estudios han producido similares resultados, donde los pacientes reportaron que el jengibre "produjo mejor alivio del dolor, hinchazón y estiramiento que la administración de drogas anti-inflamatoria no-esteroidal.
Los aceites encontrados en el jengibre, han sido identificados como compuestos activos los cuales son inhibidores de la biosíntesis de prostaglandinas, las cuales en una situación de sobreabastecimiento causaría inflamación.
Como Anti-Ulcera.
El jengibre no solo puede aliviar los síntomas de inflamación, también protege la creación de úlceras digestivas. Paul Scshulick dice, "Cualquier ventaja de las drogas antiinflamatoria no-esferoidal tiene en la fuerza de su antiinflamatorio o termoregulatorio efectos, el jengibre lo compensa con una ausencia de efectos secundarios y alternativos.
Ensayos extensivos de laboratorios frecuentemente involucrando el uso de ratas, han permitido la identificación de aproximadamente 6 componentes anti ulcera contenidos en el jengibre.
El jengibre y el sistema circulatorio
Se ha encontrado que el jengibre es beneficioso para la reducción de agregación plaquetaría lo cual dirige a la enfermedad de las arterias coronarias, mientras no se afecta en los lípidos y la azúcar de la sangre. La gente saludable, pacientes con C.A.D (enfermedad de las arterias coronarias) y sufridores dependientes de no insulina fueron todos sujetos de un experimento Hindú, el cual encontró que una simple dosis de 10 g de jengibre en polvo, "agregación del platlet significativamente reducida." en pacientes con C.A.D.
El jengibre contiene propiedades antioxidantes que comúnmente usan los químicos antioxidantes. "El jengibre en un sin numero de estudios es calificado de poseer un índice inhibidor-radical libre quizá mucho mas grande que los preservativos antioxidantes comerciales BHA y BHT."
Se ha encontrado que el tratamiento de jengibre ha sido usado para la migraña, donde se propone que el alivio del dolor puede ocurrir sin el uso de los tratamientos estándares que producen efectos secundarios. El jengibre también ha sido ensayado en pruebas con 30 mujeres quienes estaban sufriendo de hiperémesis gravidarum, la cual es una nausea severa que puede complicar una gran proporción de embarazos. Después del ensayo se encontró que alivio fue "significativamente mayor" con el tratamiento de cápsulas de polvo de jengibre.
Se ha encontrado que el jengibre es efectivo contra el crecimiento de ambas bacterias Gram-positiva y Gram-negativa incluyendo Escherichia Coli, Protus Vulgaris, Salmonella typhimurium, Staphylococcus aureus y streptococcus viridans. Un estudio Japonés de 1,990 demostró que el aceite de jengibre y los componentes del jengibre podrían matar la larva Anisakis. Anisakis es uno de los parásitos que encuentra hospedaje en millones de personas alrededor del mundo.
Además de las propiedades antieméticas del jengibre hay muchos otros beneficios asociados al sistema digestivo. Por siglos, la medicina china ha incorporado el jengibre en remedios para el sistema digestivo y es regularmente usado como un calmante para malestares digestivos. Otro beneficio digestivo del jengibre es la acción de las enzimas naturales en las proteínas de la digestión, estimulación de la digestión, apoyo prebiótico de la flora intestinal, propiedades anti-diaerrales y protección del hígado.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The 11 Best Foods you are NOT Eating

Nutritionist and author Jonny Bowden has created several lists of healthful foods people should be eating but aren’t. But some of his favorites, like purslane, guava and goji berries, aren’t always available at regular grocery stores. I asked Dr. Bowden, author of “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth,” to update his list with some favorite foods that are easy to find but don’t always find their way into our shopping carts. Here’s his advice.

Beets: Think of beets as red spinach, Dr. Bowden said, because they are a rich source of folate as well as natural red pigments that may be cancer fighters. How to eat: Fresh, raw and grated to make a salad. Heating decreases the antioxidant power.

Cabbage: Loaded with nutrients like sulforaphane, a chemical said to boost cancer-fighting enzymes. How to eat: Asian-style slaw or as a crunchy topping on burgers and sandwiches.

Swiss chard: A leafy green vegetable packed with carotenoids that protect aging eyes. How to eat it: Chop and saute in olive oil.

Cinnamon: May help control blood sugar and cholesterol. How to eat it: Sprinkle on coffee or oatmeal.

Pomegranate juice: Appears to lower blood pressure and loaded with antioxidants. How to eat: Just drink it.

Dried plums: Okay, so they are really prunes, but they are packed with antioxidants. How to eat: Wrapped in prosciutto and baked.

Pumpkin seeds: The most nutritious part of the pumpkin and packed with magnesium; high levels of the mineral are associated with lower risk for early death. How to eat: Roasted as a snack, or sprinkled on salad.

Sardines: Dr. Bowden calls them “health food in a can.” They are high in omega-3’s, contain virtually no mercury and are loaded with calcium. They also contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese as well as a full complement of B vitamins. How to eat: Choose sardines packed in olive or sardine oil. Eat plain, mixed with salad, on toast, or mashed with dijon mustard and onions as a spread.

Turmeric: The “superstar of spices,” it may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. How to eat: Mix with scrambled eggs or in any vegetable dish.

Frozen blueberries: Even though freezing can degrade some of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables, frozen blueberries are available year-round and don’t spoil; associated with better memory in animal studies. How to eat: Blended with yogurt or chocolate soy milk and sprinkled with crushed almonds.

Canned pumpkin: A low-calorie vegetable that is high in fiber and immune-stimulating vitamin A; fills you up on very few calories. How to eat: Mix with a little butter, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Taken from The NYTimes

Monday, January 5, 2009

Diez claves para limpiar de toxinas el organismo

Conviene adoptar, así sea por un tiempo, dietas y hábitos más naturales, que pongan a raya las toxinas.

Desde 1940 hasta la fecha, la industria ha producido alrededor de 87.000 nuevos productos sintéticos; 3.000 de ellos han sido incorporados a alimentos en forma de conservantes y emulsionantes.

Cada año las personas ingieren cientos de miles de kilos de comida que los contienen, eso sin contar con que, a lo largo de la vida, la gente se expone a toda clase de contaminantes: se estima que las personas consumen hoy en día cerca de 100 contaminantes más que hace 50 años.

La mayor parte de los alimentos, valga decirlo, están genéticamente modificados, aun cuando sus etiquetas no lo señalen. Solo en Estados Unidos se cultivan 70 millones de acres con semillas modificadas y 500 mil vacas lecheras son inyectadas con hormonas recombinadas.

Si a todo eso se suman los excesos a los que la gente somete al cuerpo durante las fiestas de fin de año, con el exceso de trago y comida, el consumo de cigarrillo y largas jornadas sin dormir, es natural que el cuerpo se resienta.

Por eso algunas corrientes hablan de la necesidad de darle una pausa al cuerpo y poner en práctica, en forma periódica, algunas medidas para desintoxicarlo.

Es importante saber, en primer lugar, que las toxinas son sustancias que tienen efectos perjudiciales en la función o en la estructura de las células; los daños que causan pueden ser mínimos o fatales, también pueden acumularse a través del tiempo.

El cuerpo tiene un sistema que le permite, por lo general, eliminar esas toxinas. Estas son destruidas, principalmente, en los riñones, en el hígado y en el intestino grueso. Pero si este sistema se sobrecarga, estas partículas tóxicas se acumulan y pueden llegar a afectar a todo el organismo.

Cuando estos órganos dejan de funcionar la medicina occidental recurre a medicamentos para mejorar su desempeño; otras disciplinas combinan ayunos, dietas, meditación y estímulo de la sudoración. Sin entrar a definir cuál método es mejor, es claro que hay algunas pautas sencillas que pueden llevarse a cabo para 'limpiar el cuerpo'.

1. Limite el consumo de alimentos conservados, tratados y enlatados, así como algunos lácteos procesados. Elimine por un tiempo definido (no menor a 30 días) toda alimentación que caiga en la denominación de comida chatarra, pues no tiene valor nutritivo y carece de fibra.

2. Aumente, por tiempos definidos, el consumo de frutas y verduras frescas, en lo posible cocinadas en la casa y sin ningún proceso industrial; consúmalas sin salsas o aderezos que contengan edulcorantes artificiales o glutamatos. Mejor dicho, prepárelas en la casa.

3. Beba agua pura. Cerciórese de que el agua que está consumiendo es lo más limpia posible. Hiérvala y recuerde que la mayoría de la que proviene del grifo puede contener contaminantes, como bacterias y residuos metálicos de tuberías viejas.

4. Incremente el consumo de líquidos: tome jugos recién hechos, pues ayudan a eliminar toxinas; de ser posible consuma caldo y purés de verdura, todo un día al mes; se dice que esto reduce la carga del sistema digestivo.

5. Pruebe el té, los de hierbas y el natural aumentan la micción y mejoran el tránsito intestinal. Con eso pueden eliminarse algunos residuos y bacterias atrapados en el intestino.

6. Si sufre de estreñimiento, trátelo. Incluya en su dieta fibra natural (frutas, verduras, legumbres, salvado, avena y linaza) y si necesita laxantes prefiera uno natural, como el psyllium; eduque el cuerpo para evacuar siempre a la misma hora.

7. El vapor siempre ayuda. Si le es posible, y durante un mes, vaya una vez por semana a saunas o a baños de vapor; estos ayudan a incrementar la frecuencia cardíaca, la sudoración y el metabolismo, con lo que se promueve, de paso, la eliminación de toxinas.

8. Descanse lo necesario. Ajuste sus horarios y haga un esfuerzo por adoptar la sana costumbre de dormir entre siete y ocho horas cada noche. El estrés libera toxinas en el cuerpo, por lo tanto la relajación equilibra el sistema nervioso y disminuye estos efectos.

9. No se exponga. Aunque a veces no es posible protegerse de la contaminación del ambiente, por su cuenta evite el uso, al menos durante un mes, de ambientadores, aerosoles y toda clase de productos para el cuerpo que tengan químicos en exceso.

10. No se automedique. Los fármacos no son inocuos. No los utilice a menos que sea imprescindible, es decir cuando un médico se los recete. Si ese es el caso consúmalos de acuerdo con las dosis y los tiempos recomendados.