How fast you can run when you're in your 40s or 50s may say more about your risk for heart disease than your cholesterol levels, blood pressure, smoking history, and whether or not you have diabetes. This finding, from two separate studies at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, showed that 55-year-old men who can run an eight-minute mile, regardless of other contributing factors, have only a 10 percent lifetime risk of developing heart disease, while those who need 15 minutes or more to run a mile have a 30 percent lifetime risk. To reach their conclusions, the investigators reviewed data on more than 11,000 men who had treadmill exercise tests before 1990. The study was published in the April 12th, 2011 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
The second study found that fitness levels were also helpful in identifying the long-term risk of heart disease in women. Here, the research team followed more than 66,000 men and women ages 20 to 90 for up to 36 years (or until they died) and again found that adding fitness to the traditional risk factors for heart disease significantly improved the ability to classify the participants' lifetime risks. This study was published in the April 5th, 2011 issue of Circulation.
My take? This is welcome news. It reinforces the importance of aerobic exercise for cardiovascular health and shows that keeping fit does more for cardiovascular health than focusing on cholesterol levels or even blood pressure. Aerobic exercise conditions our hearts and arteries and respiratory systems, increases stamina and general fitness and promotes cleansing of the blood by stimulating circulation and perspiration. This type of activity increases the flow of oxygen to all organs, enabling them to work more efficiently. It also burns calories, undoing some of the damage we do by eating too much. In addition, it strengthens the immune system, reduces stress, lowers serum cholesterol and tones the nervous system.
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Protein-Rich Breakfast May Cut Cravings
Teens are notorious for skipping breakfast and then snacking on high calorie, high fat and high sugar junk foods. They also tend to overeat, especially at night. A small study from the University of Missouri suggests that a protein breakfast of cereal and milk or of high-protein waffles, syrup and yogurt is filling and reduces hunger throughout the morning. The higher protein waffle breakfast also changed the appetites of the teenage girls participating for the better so that they were less hungry. The researchers divided 10 girls into three groups that:
- continued skipping breakfast
- ate portions of cereal and milk containing normal quantities of protein
- ate a high-protein waffle breakfast
At the end of each of three weeks, the teens filled out appetite and satiety questionnaires and had brain scans using functional MRIs to look at brain activation in regions controlling food motivation and reward. The researchers concluded that a high protein breakfast is a simple strategy for satisfying the appetite and quelling the urge to snack. However, because the study was so small, they described their findings as preliminary. The study was published online May 5th by the journal Obesity.
What Makes the Anti-Inflammatory Diet Healthy?
From the best grains and oils, to which fish to enjoy (and which to avoid), eating for your health can seem challenging - but it doesn't have to be. Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging has simple yet informative lists for shopping, preparing and cooking. We cover the anti-inflammatory diet from A-Z! Start your free trial today.
Selenium for Graves' Disease
Taking a dose of selenium twice daily seems to improve quality of life and relieve eye symptoms among people with Graves' disease, an autoimmune condition that can affect the thyroid and eyes. These findings, from the University of Pisa in Italy, showed that the selenium proved effective when tested against both the drug pentoxifylline and a placebo. The Italian researchers recruited 159 people with mild Graves' ophthalmopathy, a condition that can cause the eyes to protrude and lead to dry eyes, puffy eyelids, double vision, sensitivity to light, pressure or pain in the eye and trouble moving the eyes. There are no known effective treatments. Participants were randomly assigned to take two daily doses of 100 micrograms of selenium, 600 mg of pentoxifylline or a placebo. After six months, only the selenium was associated with improved quality of life, a slower progression of Graves'-associated eye disease and reduced symptoms. These positive effects persisted for at least six months after the conclusion of the study. Because the area where the study was conducted tends to be selenium deficient, the researchers noted the results may not hold true in places where people get enough selenium. Results were published in the May 19, 2011 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Vitamins A to Zinc
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Making Dinner: Lentil Soup
Lentils are a staple in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking and make a thick, rich and delicious soup. They're also a good source of fiber and magnesium and the quickest legume to cook. With cracked-grain bread and a spring-mix salad, this soup makes a tasty and easy mid-week meal.
View this recipe: Lentil Soup
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