A recent AP article pointed to a surprising trend among children as they consume too little milk, sunshine and exercise. Parents' safety concerns– as well as TV and video games – contribute to the trend by keeping kids sedentary and indoors. The article calls it "an anti-bone trifecta," and the result is an ominous occurrence of something we haven't seen much of since the 19th Century: Rickets.
Here, in brief, is the solution:
The Associated Press
updated 4:49 p.m. ET, Mon., Nov. 26, 2007
Building strong bones takes a combination of calcium, vitamin D and exercise starting in childhood. Here are guidelines on how much youngsters need:
-Young children should consume about 800 milligrams of calcium a day. But between ages 9 and 18, when bone growth speeds up, that requirement almost doubles to 1,300 mg. That's about three cups of fat-free or low-fat milk plus additional calcium-rich foods, such as broccoli, cheese, yogurt, or calcium-fortified orange juice.
-Children and adolescents need at least 200 international units of vitamin D. Milk and orange juice often is fortified with the vitamin; a few other foods contain it. Sunlight is a major source. About 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure weekly is enough for many children, although skin pigmentation alters sun absorption so black children need more. The goal is to get just enough sun for vitamin D production while avoiding too much of its skin-damaging rays. Babies who are breast-fed only and older children at risk for vitamin D deficiency should receive supplements.
-Children of all ages need about an hour of physical activity most days, and 10 to 15 minutes at a time can add up. Weight-bearing exercises strengthen bone, anything from team sports like soccer to simply jumping rope or running around. The goal is for the arms or legs to bear all the body's weight.
-The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be screened for calcium-deficit diets and too little exercise, to identify those whose lifestyles put them at risk for osteoporosis later in life.
Here are some excerpts from a recent Newsweek article, entitled "This Is Your Brain on Optimism." It's an important article because it seems to confirm the physiological value of an optimistic attitude....
My emphasis added.
...The optimism bias, as it's called, accounts for the fact that we expect to live longer and be more successful than the average and we tend to underestimate the likelihood of getting a serious disease or a divorce. This tendency is adaptive—many researchers have claimed that a positive outlook motivates us to plan for our future and may even have an effect on our long-term physical health.
Optimism may be so necessary to our survival that it's hardwired in our brains. A new study published in the journal Nature further confirms the idea that having a rosy outlook is a personality trait with deep, neurological roots. Researchers found that the brains of optimistic people actually light up differently on a scan than those who tend to be more pessimistic when they think about future events.
...While we can't say for certain why some people respond more positively to life's events, it's increasingly clear that your mental outlook can have a big effect on your physical health. Optimism motivates individuals to take control of their lives, while depression has been found to have the opposite effect. It is often linked to a sense of hopelessness. "The problem with depression is that people are so pessimistic that they don't engage in actions that could make their lives better," says Elizabeth Phelps, one of the study authors and psychology professor at NYU.
...The exact nature of the relationship between optimism and good health is still unclear. Martin Seligman, who studies optimism and positive thinking at the University of Pennsylvania says that it might be that, optimists, as opposed to pessimists, are more likely to take care of their health because they believe in the potential positive outcomes. Or, it could be that optimistic people are more likeable and build better social networks, which have been associated with longevity. Another possibility is that optimistic people may have had less trauma or difficulty in their lives (a high number of negative events in a lifetime correlates with bad health). "All of these are plausible," says Seligman.
"...eliminate 100 to 200 calories a day from your diet. This “mindless margin” is too small for the body to notice, and cutting 100 calories a day will allow you to lose 10 pounds a year without doing anything else different. Cutting out a 270 calorie candy bar a day would allow you to lose 27 pounds in a year without making any other changes."
You may not have heard, but nationwide, regional branches of the Red Cross blood banks are in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. It amounts to an extreme drought in our blood supply that has forced a quarter of American hospitals to postpone or even cancel nonemergency operations -- including heart bypass procedures -- due to lack of blood. Part of the problem, it seems, is perhaps overstringent screening measures for blood safety that include many overseas travel restrictions levied on would-be blood donors. Those measures, we're told, are being reviewed and revisited. Still, only 5 percent of eligible donors currently give blood, according to the Red Cross. In many of its facilities, the Red Cross has only half a day's supply of blood rather than the three to five day reserve needed to prepare for emergencies. Jennifer Garfinkel, a spokesperson for the American Association of Blood Banks, said that, in disaster situations, "It's the blood on the shelves that saves lives. It has already been processed, tested, given the green light to be transfused." Without that reserve supply, as a nation we're simply unprepared for mass disasters.
The internal "skeleton" (in red) of cells is altered by exposure to high fat. (Image courtesy of Washington University School of Medicine)
This HealthDay article by Kathleen Doheny ran earlier this month after the release of a study on the effects of saturated fat on our bodies. If you haven't been paying attention to saturated fat content in the food you eat and the groceries you buy, now is not too late to start....
Sun Sep 9, 11:45 PM ET
SUNDAY, Sept. 9 (HealthDay News) -- How bad can it be to indulge in an occasional meal or snack loaded with saturated fat?
How about bad enough to diminish your body's ability to defend itself against heart disease.
A recent study by researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia found just that reaction after 14 trial participants, all healthy and between the ages of 18 and 40, ate just one piece of high-fat carrot cake and drank a milkshake.
That fat-laden feast compromised the ability of the participants' arteries to expand to increased blood flow, the researchers found. The sudden boost in what's known as saturated fat hampered the effects of so-called "good" cholesterol, the high-density lipoprotein or HDL, from doing its job -- to protect the inner lining of the arteries from inflammatory agents that promote the build-up of fatty plaques. It's this plaque that, over time, clogs blood vessels and causes heart disease.
"Saturated-fat meals might predispose to inflammation of, and plaque buildup in, the vessels," said study leader Dr. David Celermajer, Scandrett professor of cardiology at the Heart Research Institute and the Department of Cardiology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
Celermajer's team had the volunteers eat two meals, spaced one month apart. Each meal consisted of a slice of carrot cake and a milkshake. But, in one case the foods were made with saturated fat, and in the other case the meal was made with polyunsaturated safflower oil, a much healthier choice.
The high-fat meal, which contained about 90 percent saturated fat, had the equivalent of 68 grams of fat. In contrast, the meal made with polyunsaturated oil contained just 9 percent fat. The fat in the high-fat meal was equivalent to a 150-pound man or woman eating a double cheeseburger, a large order of french fries, and drinking a large milkshake, the researchers said.
Before and after each of the meals, the researchers obtained blood samples from the participants so they could evaluate whether the anti-inflammatory properties of the so-called good HDL cholesterol had decreased.
The anti-inflammatory properties did decrease after the saturated fat meal, the researchers said, but improved after the healthier polyunsaturated fat meal.
The effects may be temporary, Celermajer said. However, he's still concerned because the effect may be occurring over and over, each time a person eats a high-fat meal.
The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
The message is clear, Celermajer said: It's important to limit saturated fat intake as much as possible.
To do that, you've first got to know where saturated fat lurks, said Jeannie Moloo, a Sacramento, Calif., dietitian and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
She suggests cutting down on meat, full-fat milk and full-fat dairy products as a way to reduce saturated fat. Those foods are all major sources of saturated fat, Moloo said. So are processed foods and snacks.
Switching to low-fat or non-fat dairy products can minimize your total saturated fat intake, Moloo said. Choosing foods wisely by reading the Nutrition Facts label can help, too. For instance, Moloo said, an ounce of regular cheddar cheese contains 6 grams of saturated fat, while an ounce of part-skim mozzarella contains less than half that, or 2.9 grams.
Ice cream contains a lot of saturated fat, Moloo tells her patients. For instance, she said, one cup of vanilla soft-serve ice cream has 13.5 grams of saturated fat. But some low-fat ice cream bars contain just 1.5 grams of saturated fat.
How much saturated fat per day is too much? Aim for 10 percent or less of your daily calories from saturated fat, Moloo suggested. The American Heart Association sets the bar for saturated fat at less than 7 percent of daily calories.
For instance, if your total calorie goal is 2,000 a day -- reasonable for moderately active adults -- you should aim for no more than 20 grams of saturated fat to keep your intake to 10 percent or so. While few people will take the time to add up their fat grams, doing so for a day or two can give you an idea of how you are doing.
I clipped this Reuters article last month. The conclusions (the importance of exercising and not eating too much) should come as no surprise; but what is interesting is the scientific rationale and the cause-effect relationships...less insulin in the brain = longer life....
Thu Jul 19, 2007 9:56PM EDT
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Good, old-fashioned diet and exercise might keep you young by reducing the action of insulin in the brain, researchers reported on Thursday.
They created mutant mice that over-ate, got fat and even had symptoms of diabetes, and yet lived 18 percent longer than normal lab mice. The secret: they lacked a certain key gene that affects insulin, the hormone that regulates glucose.
The genetic engineering mimicked the effects of eating less and exercising, the researchers report in the journal Science.
"This study provides a new explanation of why it's good to exercise and not eat too much," said Dr. Morris White, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at Children's Hospital in Boston who led the study.
The findings also raise questions about how desirable it is to use insulin to treat type 2 diabetes, said the researchers.
Doctors know that people who exercise regularly live longer on average. Researchers have also learned that putting animals on a strict diet makes them live longer, although this has not yet been shown to work in people.
So White's team sought to see if the two effects were linked. They looked at insulin, because both fasting and exercise make cells more insulin-sensitive, meaning they respond more efficiently to the effects of insulin.
They looked at the entire insulin pathway -- a series of actions in the cell that control the body's use of insulin.
White's team engineered mice that had no working copies of one of the genes involved in this pathway, called insulin receptor substrate 2, or Irs2.
BEST USE OF INSULIN
Mice with no copies of Irs2 had defective brains and diabetes. But mice with one working copy lived 18 percent longer than normal mice.
"What's more, the animals lived longer even though they had characteristics that should shorten their lives such as being overweight and having higher insulin levels in the blood," White said in a statement.
They were also more active than normal mice, and after eating, their brains had higher levels of a compound called superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant that protects cells from damage.
"Diet, exercise and lower weight keep your peripheral tissues sensitive to insulin," White said. That means the body needs to make less insulin.
"Since insulin turns on Irs2 in the brain, that means lower Irs2 activity, which we've linked to longer life span in the mouse," he said.
One obvious question is whether drugs can mimic the effects of having less Irs2, perhaps by interfering with its action. The researchers note that people who live to be 100 or more often have reduced insulin levels and their cells show better insulin sensitivity.
New diabetes drugs that increase insulin sensitivity may help, too, White said. But, he added: "The easiest way to keep insulin levels low in the brain is old-fashioned diet and exercise."
This 50 Plus.com article by Cynthia Ross Cravit provides a good snap-shot view of what makes us live longer. The study cited relates specifically to men, but it would seem intuitive enough that it would also apply equally to women....
Attention all men: if you want to live into your 80s and beyond, here are nine things you need to know.
Get a grip – and a good education. Get married. Don't gain weight.
These are some of the keys to long life for boomer men, says a new study.
In fact, nine factors in all were identified as good predictors of which 50-plus men would live healthily into their 80s and beyond, according to a 40-year study of nearly 6,000 Japanese-American men living in Hawaii. The study, published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, concluded men were more likely to remain healthy, vigorous and disability-free at older ages, if they avoided certain risk factors.
The ability to avoid these 9 major risk factors in midlife— in particular those linked to insulin levels such as overweight, high blood sugar, high triglycerides (a type of cholesterol) and high blood
pressure— is a strong indicator of whether you will survive to old age and if you do, whether you will be healthy.
9 Predictors of long life
Men who meet the following criteria are more likely to live longer, according to the study:
• Are married
• Are not overweight
• Have low blood pressure
• Possess a strong grip (indicating overall strength and fitness)
• Have attained a high level of education
• Have low blood sugar
• Avoid heavy drinking
• Do not smoke
• Have a low level of bad cholesterol.
The study, known as the Hawaii Lifespan Study, followed the health of participants for up to 40 years to assess overall, healthy, or “exceptional survival”. The men in the study, who had an average age of 54 when the research began back in 1965, were given a baseline exam at the time and found to be free of illness and functional impairments.
As reported by Reuters, men who followed the healthful criteria had an 80 per cent chance of living to age 80 and were more likely to avoid illness. 42 per cent of the participants lived until 85, with 11 per cent reaching the age without serious health problems such as heart disease, cancer or diabetes.
“Your chances were more than 60 per cent of being healthy at that age if you avoided these risk factors, yet if you had six or more of these risk factors you had less than a 10 per cent chance of living in your mid-80s,” said study author Dr. Bradley Wilcox of Pacific Health Research Institute in Honolulu.
This is further proof “that it is important to be physically robust in midlife… consistent with theories of aging that suggest that better built organisms last longer,” the study concluded.
Some great, common-sense advice for the runners among us, and how best to escape injuries that so often plague those who run...
By Jeff Galloway
One of my proudest accomplishments is being free of overuse injuries for almost 30 years. Below you will find the risks and the ways to avoid them.
My advice comes from working with over 200,000 runners in Galloway training groups, one-day running schools, Tahoe retreats, e-coaching and individual consultations. As runners send me the results of my suggestions, I adjust the training and rest schedules. The current injury-free program is listed below, but I continue to look for better ways of avoiding problems and reducing downtime.
Fewer Days of Training Per Week
Those who run three days a week have the lowest rate of injury. I believe that almost all runners, except for Olympic candidates and world record aspirants, can be just as fit and perform as well running every other day. This may involve two-a-day workouts and more quality on each day.
Having 48 hours between runs is like magic in repairing damage. Those who insert a short and slow jog on recovery day (junk miles) are not allowing for complete recovery. When a client complains about lingering aches and pains, I cut them back to every other day and the problems usually go away.
Go Slower on the Long Runs
After 30 years of tracking injuries during marathon training programs, I've found that most are due to running the long ones too fast. You can't run the long ones too slowly--you get the same endurance whether you go very fast or very slow. Slow running will allow your legs to recover faster. The fastest that I want our Galloway Training groups to run is two minutes per mile slower than goal pace. Many run three or four min/mi slower and experience very fast recovery. Be sure to slow down as the temperature increases: 30 sec/mi slower for each 5 degrees of temperature increase above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
More Walk Breaks
The continuous use of any muscle used the same way, increases fatigue more rapidly. Continuing to run continuously, with fatigued muscles, will greatly increase the chance of injury. You'll see on my website the recommended frequency of walk breaks, based upon pace. If you have aches and pains already, it is best to walk more often, from the beginning, than is recommended. The most important walk breaks are those taken in the beginning of the run, for these can erase all of the fatigue. Walk breaks will also tend to produce a faster time in all races from 5K up. The average improvement in a marathon among those who've run several without walk breaks is 13 minutes faster by taking the strategic walks.
Don't Stretch if You Have an Ache, Pain or Injury
Stretching a tight or injured muscle or tendon will increase the damage dramatically. Even one stretch will produce tears in the fibers, resulting in a longer recovery. Stretching a muscle that has been tightened by running can injure it within a minute. Massage is a great way to deal with the natural tightening produced by running. The tightening is mostly a good thing, allowing you to run more efficiently.
Be Careful With Speed Training
Speed workouts produce a lot of injuries. You can reduce the odds of this happening by warming up very well, doing a few light accelerations as described in my books Testing Yourself, Year-Round Plan, Half Marathon and Marathon. Other important injury-reduction factors are the following walking more between each speed repetition and staying smooth at the expense of time. Don't strain to run a certain time. This is most important at the end of a workout.
Never Push Through Pain, Inflammation or Loss-of-Function
If you experience one of the above, stop the run immediately. Continuing to run for another block or another lap will often produce multiples of damage requiring weeks or months off for repair--instead of days.
For more information, see Jeff's books Marathon, Half-Marathon, Running--A Year Round Plan, Walking -- The Complete Book and Galloway's Book on Running, 2nd Ed. These are available, autographed, from www.RunInjuryFree.com. Join Jeff's blog: www.jeffgallowayblog.com