Brain Size and Alcohol Consumption

Random alcohol stat of the day courtesy of Best Life, Sept. 2007:

According to a group of Neuroscientists at Wellesley College, in Massachusetts, people who have more than 14 drinks per week (2-drinks per day) have on average a 1.6 percent smaller brain that their moderation adhering friends.

I don’t know if this is causation or correlation but it is interesting. Maybe those with smaller brains are more likely to lack the ability to moderate alcohol consumption or maybe the alcohol causes a reduction in brain size… who knows. We do know however that more than 2-drinks a day has a direct negative effect on life expectancy so let this be another warning to keep the alcohol intake to 1-2 drinks a day.

Starting The P90X Exercise Program

Excerpt taken from Best Life, Sept. 2007:
Ten percent of deaths in America are caused by a sedentary lifestyle, according to Harvey Simon, MD, editor of the Harvard Men's Health Watch. He says that fewer than 25 percent of Americans get the exercise they need and suggests that walking one to three miles a day can give you the same health benefits as a cardio-heavy aerobic workout.

For this reason I have been giving thought to trying my hand at daily exercise. I generally eat well and am healthy otherwise but I haven't been a good role-model or caretaker of my own body when it comes to exercise. I got my hands on the P90X workout DVDs and (starting this week) I plan on venturing out into this 90-day program to better my physical health.

Obviously this plan is a bit more strenuous than walking one to three miles as the good doctor was quoted above as saying but in this case more is better in my opinion. After all studies have shown that if you exercise vigorously at least three days a week you will be decrease your risk of death from any and all causes by 32 percent over the following seven years.

Has anyone ever looked into the P90X system? Do you have any opinions or concerns about it before I get started with the program? Let me know in the comments.

Best Life, Sept. 2007

Cold-Eeze Zinc Lozenges: Do They Work?

For the past couple days or so I’ve been fighting through a minor cold and last night when I was getting ready for bed I found myself sucking on a Cold-Eeze zinc lozenge while flipping through some magazines. My wife, being a third year medical student, has medical journals laying all over the place so I picked on up and found the first story to be an essay on zinc so naturally I flipped open to the story as I was sucking on zinc at that very moment.

Zinc as a Cold Remedy

For those that don’t know zinc is touted to be a natural cold remedy. The box of Cold-Eeze even says "clinically proven to reduce the duration of the common cold." The box then goes on to cite two clinical studies conducted at the Cleveland Clinic and at Dartmouth College and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (July 15, 1996) and the Journal of International Medicine Research (June 1992). According to the manufactures of Cold-Eeze these two studies showed that the product reduces the duration and severity of the cold by 42 percent or 3-4 days.

The funny thing though is that the journal I read last night, American Family Physician (May 1, 2009), found that zinc lozenges show no evidence of a statistically significant reduction in duration of upper respiratory infections (URI) other wise known as colds. Having read this I was dumbfounded. How could the box be preaching incorrect truths and here I was stuck sucking on a lozenge that was proven to have no benefit whatsoever. Then my wife chimed in and reminded me of the placebo effect.

The Placebo Effect

I wrote about this yesterday as some doctors are prescribing placebos in lieu of drugs. Apparently according to American Family Physician zinc lozenges do statistically improve URI symptoms and duration and frequency for the malnourished or those coming from third-world backgrounds. They also pose no threat to over consumption. Therefore the power of the placebo takes over in the well nourished people of the world like myself. It’s not exactly the zinc that makes you better quicker, it’s your mind.

Zinc and Macular Degeneration

Anyway, the journal did reference one benefit to zinc supplementation or lozenges which pertained to the worsening of age-related macular degeneration. There is 27 percent less risk of worsening macular degeneration when a sufferer supplements with zinc and no correlation to the prevention of the condition in the first place. The downside comes with a slight increased risk of urinary tract infections. There are some other methods of preventing the worsening of macular degeneration which are dietary in nature.

So now, this Friday morning, I continue sucking on Cold-Eeze for no good reason. Thanks science for explaining to me why this isn’t helping; I guess I'm just going to have to try and get more sleep.

Have a good weekend everybody!

American Family Physician, May 1, 2009

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Insulin Resistance & Sleep Habits

Poor Sleep Habits Can Lead to Insulin Resistance

Healthy patterns of sleep cause longevity and general well-being especially in cases where regular sleep between seven and eight hours a night are common. Now there is further research which backs up these well accepted truths on the benefits of sleep by getting specific with specific sleep patterns and their association with type-2 diabetes and insulin resistance.

Insulin Resistance

Researchers from the University of Chicago Medical Center found that "suppressing deep sleep for just three nights causes a 25 percent drop in insulin sensitivity. The researchers say that the decrease in insulin sensitivity after three nights of bad sleep is equivalent to gaining 20 to 30 pounds." Increased insulin resistance can also lead to increased insulin production which can cause type-2 diabetes.

Best Life magazine also went on to add the following:
Routinely missing out on a few nights of good sleep increases your risk for type-2 diabetes. Deep, restorative sleep, also called slow-wave sleep, is important for regulating blood sugar.

While there’s no surefire indicator that you’re getting enough slow-wave sleep, it’s a good sign if you’re sleeping at least seven hours a night, you wake up feeling refreshed, and you don’t suffer from sleep apnea or daytime fatigue.
There are other methods to keep your insulin levels in check such as eating leafy greens and doing high intensity exercise, and in my opinion if all three are done in tandem (including sleeping at least seven hours) then you should be off to a pretty good start.

Update: I've recently written an expanded post on this same topic titled 11 ways to reduce insulin resistance. If this topic resonates with you I'd encourage reading it and possibly this even more recent post on following a better insulin resistance diet.

Additional Dangers of Poor Sleep Habits

Furthermore, getting poor sleep because of restless leg syndrome has also been known to increase the risks associated with cardiovascular disease while generally poor sleep habits and even basic immune function leaving you prone to sickness and catching the common cold in particular. Sleep is an integral part of staying healthy and promoting longevity… and who can argue against the feel-good comfort of relaxing under the covers.

Best Life, Apr. 2008

Grapeseed Oil Will Make You Feel Fuller Longer

To add to my last post on the benefits and problems with various cooking oils such as olive and coconut, I thought I'd make mention of another oil, Grapeseed Oil, which contains significant amounts of the omega-9, oleic acid.

A recent study in the journal Cell Metabolism cited research findings from the University of California at Irvine which found that infusing oleic acid into the intestines of rats enabled the release of oleoylethanolamide (OEA), a lipid that activates nerves in the small intestine that are responsible for signaling the brain that the stomach is full.

Oleic Acid is found in olive oil but to a greater degree (about 7 times as abundant) in Grapeseed oil so you might want to try sauteing your meals in Grapeseed oil periodically to help increase the feeling of fullness between meals.

Additional benefits associated with Grapeseed oil are abundant including a possible boost to memory and mental function as well as an association with lowered blood pressure. In fact it may be the oleic acid which causes blood pressure drops which are associated with olive oil; however, this is not completely substantiated.

Of course if you decide to try using Grapeseed oil in your cooking simple measures can be taken to further increase your task of weight management. Eating slowly is by far the easiest of them all as there is a major association with speed eaters and being overweight.

Cell Metabolism

Lose Weight Using Coconut Oil

Can You Lose Weight Using Coconut Oil Instead of Olive Oil?

lose weight with coconut oilThanks to olive oil's heart-healthy attributes it has generally led the praise of those conscientious of health issues and is a staple of the Mediterranean diet however, if you are looking to lose weight, coconut oil might be a a better choice for your diet

Benefits of Coconut Oil

Best Life magazine had this to say about coconut oil in a recent issue:
"Coconut oil is made up of more than 50 percent medium-chain triacylglycerol (MCT), a fatty acid that increases fat oxidation, enhancing weight loss, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers had people consume four or five teaspoons of MCT oil or olive oil a day for 16 weeks, either baked into muffins or used in a stir-fry. The MCT group lost almost four pounds more than the olive oil group."
In my household we use olive oil almost universally; it would be an interesting experiment I think to put this to the test and change absolutely nothing with our diet or activity patterns but substitute olive oil with unrefined coconut oil and see if we lose 10 pounds or no pounds. It couldn't hurt I guess... the only problem I see is finding coconut oil and paying for it. I also can't help but wonder what it's like to cook with it as as far as I can tell it is a solid much like lard.

The Problems with Coconut Oil

Obviously if you are cooking with coconut oil then that means you are not cooking with grapeseed oil, which has been shown to signal the body you are fuller sooner. If you make the switch to coconut oil you'll have to place greater emphasis on portion control. Also, another serious complication with this is the saturated fats in coconut oil. Even if this oil promotes weight loss it has also be shown to "reduce flexibility in the arteries and caused harmful changes in cholesterol levels, both of which increase the likelihood of clogging arteries" and neither of which lead to longer life... just something to thank about.

Does anyone have any experience with this stuff? What are your thoughts/opinions?

Best Life, Aug 2008
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) Could Be A Warning Sign For CVD

According to a recent Harvard Medical School study you are twice as likely to suffer from Coronary Artery Disease and Cardiovascular Disease if you suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome. Restless Leg Syndrome affects approximately 12 million Americans or about 4 percent of the population.

What is Restless Leg Syndrome

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke define Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) as:
"A neurological disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move when at rest in an effort to relieve these feelings. RLS sensations are often described by people as burning, creeping, tugging, or like insects crawling inside the legs. Often called paresthesias (abnormal sensations) or dysesthesias (unpleasant abnormal sensations), the sensations range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful."
Treatment for RLS is problematic because often the cause of the syndrome is unknown, however, if an underlying disorder can be diagnosed, such as peripheral neuropathy or diabetes, treatment of these conditions can bring relief to RLS sufferers.  Check out this article for more ideas on how to treat restless leg syndrome symptoms if underlying disorders are not diagnosed.

If you suffer from RLS then you should look into getting a diagnosis and treatment plan scheduled because RLS could be a sign of deeper problems, and at the very least it is a sign of increased risk for Cardiovascular Disease… maybe, in my opinion, due to the poor sleep patterns and stress associated with the syndrome.

UPDATE 6/19/2009: Heartstrong recently posted about this same RLS finding over at Healthy Hearts. The study cited was along the same lines but is more recent and published in the journal Neurology. I would encourage you to take a look at Heartstrong's post and see the similarities for yourself.

Best Life, Apr 2008
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Type-2 Diabetes And Coffee

Is Coffee Bad for People with Type-2 Diabetes?

Monica over at NutritionData posted the other day about a new study that was published in the journal Diabetes Care, June 2009 which concluded that people who were suffering from Type-2 Diabetes had nothing to worry about when it came to drinking daily coffee.

For some time there has been inconsistent information on whether or not the caffeine in coffee causes blood sugar spikes. Monica writes:
"Drinking coffee before or with breakfast can lead to a much higher rise in blood sugar than breakfast without the coffee"
This study however shows that despite normal blood sugar spikes, the long-term effect of caffeine on the diabetic is nill. The researchers showed that drinking four or more cups of coffee per day made no difference to overall mortality rates, early death, and cardiovascular diseases in diabetic men were not affected by the caffeine.

Thumbs Up For Diabetes And Coffee
This is good news for all in my opinion. Though I am not a diabetic man, I am a heavy coffee drinker. Of course I take mine black which keeps the calorie and fat content to near nill, but it is still good news because as this finding suggests caffeine doesn’t increase the threat level for those who have diabetes already then it is unlikely to cause disease in those who do not have type-2 diabetes. Caffeine has been shown to increase metabolic rate and increase the burning of fat stores in the body due to it’s stimulation of lipolysis, the breaking down of fat stored in fat cells.

For this reason alone it seems to me to be more indicative of life sustaining effects to diabetics due to their increased tendency to be overweight, however the study do not show conclusive evidence that mortality was effected significantly in any way.

Let's all go out for coffee, huh? Thanks to Monica for pointing this out!

Also, click through for more information on how to lower insulin levels and the relationship between diabetes and testosterone and if you like what you're reading I would also like to invite you to subscribe to my feed and read what I have planned for publication in the days ahead. Thanks for reading!

NutritionData -
Diabetes Care -
Journal of Nutritional Sciences and Vitaminology -

Drug-Coated Stents May Decrease Your Risk for a Second Heart Attack

Picture of a drug coated stent

Brief History of Stenting

Stenting became common in the nineties based upon the work of various people throughout the seventies and eighties. The purpose of stenting originated from the cardiologist’s angioplasty procedures. The ballooning of the coronary arteries sometimes caused the arteries to collapse after surgery. The stent was developed to keep this from occurring.

What is A Stent

A coronary stent is essentially a wire-mesh tube which is placed into the artery after surgery to keep the artery from closing. Over the years this stent has been updated to be more versatile. One such method of versatility is the advent of the drug-coated stent used as a method to treat the artery so that scar tissue formation is minimized.

Benefits of Drug-Coated Stents

As stents have been around now for roughly a couple decades much research is surfacing on the performance of stenting and the benefits of stenting. One recent study of roughly 7,000 people published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that drug-coated stents are more effective at preventing heart attacks and surgeries two years after insertion than bare metal stents.

This finding is significant because over the last few years there has been concern over drug-coated stents causing an increased risk in blood clots in the patients they were used in. The drug-coated stent may indeed increase the likelihood of clots, this much is not substantiated, but the findings of drug-coated stents lowering heart attack risk is important. This shows that even risks for clots are higher the risk of the heart attack is lower and thus life is more likely to be extended.

Your Doctor Knows Best

Certainly your doctor knows more about this than I do and they will know the correct anti-clotting medication for you in any event. Simple Aspirin might even help; who knows. What is true though is that should you ever go through angioplasty and require a stent, it is OK to be open minded to the drug-coated stent as it has been shown to lower your risk for repeat heart attacks in patients. Be positive as this helps in recovery and think about starting a diet that is a natural defense to heart disease.

New England Journal of Medicine

7 Ways To Live Longer By Avoiding Bad Things

Living long implies a few things. First it implies that you have been lucky over the course of your life. You manged not to get hit by a car or run off the side of a cliff but more importantly it implies that you did not happen to get one of the many ailments that cause early death in the first place such as heart attack, stroke, cancer, or any of the other significant diseases that generally hit the elderly and middle aged demographic.

Decrease Your Risk of Dieing Before Your Time

Assuming you want to reach a ripe old age, or at least assuming you want to live a normal length of life, I wanted to offer to you a short concise list of a few of the major items you should avoid and that that you have control over. If you know what these items are and actively avoid them you should have a significant advantage in your quest to reach the tender ages that average lives are expected to reach.

Healthy people achieve these ages more often than unhealthy people so, obviously, many of these items are under your control and have to do with not doing something that shortens your life span. This list is probably one of the easiest to follow of the human longevity lists I could compile because not doing something that harm you will typically be easier than actively doing things that extend life.

Life Expectancy is Finite

Additionally, the concept of extending life adheres to the law of diminishing returns. Life expectancies can almost always be lengthened but the action required to achieve the desired result is more and more costly and difficult to do. It eventually becomes a task of mania. Eventually the reward is not worth the effort or cost. This list however is the opposite end of the spectrum. The tasks presented here offer the most benefit for the least cost and therefore are the most important of all anti-aging tasks.

Let's start the list.

Seven + Ways to To Live Longer By Avoiding Bad Things

Dieing young can happen to anybody for any reason. Though I don't feel it's possible for you to completely control it, it can at least be partially in your control if you take the right steps.
  1. Develop a routine sleeping schedule that nets between seven and eight hours of sleep every night. Getting more than eight or less than seven increases your risk for early death by about 25 percent.
  2. Eat fish and seafood regularly to decrease your risk of dementia and stroke. This is supported by the Mediterranean diet which focuses on fish as the primary meat component.
  3. The Mediterranean diet focuses on veggies, legumes, nuts, and seafood. It provides resistance to Cardiovascular Disease (which is likely due to increased Omega-3 intake) in that these dieters are roughly 25% less likely to die of the disease. Try eating like this diet preaches if not exact find a comfortable zone.
  4. Routine exercise of any kind has also been shown to decrease your risk of early death by anywhere from 19 percent to 32 percent depending on the intensity of exercise.
  5. Stay close to defibrillators and keep one in the house. People who have heart attacks are more likely to survive if a defibrillator is used on them within two minutes. Hospitals don't even get them to patients on time more often than not; you're actually better off in a casino! Home defibrillators are available so get one as the years pass by.
  6. Do not eat too many eggs. More than seven a week is associated with a 23 percent chance of early death.
  7. Avoid binge drinking to limit your risk of stroke. Those who drink too much are much more likely to have a stroke and die.
  8. Lastly let me advise you to wear your seat belt and stay under the speed limit. I haven't written about this on this blog yet but it is vastly important in limiting death by accident; one of the biggest killers in the under 50 crowd.
That's it! There's not much too it. These longevity secrets generally won't make you live longer (except for maybe eating the fish regularly) but they will keep the average person from harming themselves, which is the first step to longevity and anti-aging.

Does Soda Cause Alzheimer’s Disease?

a cause of alzheimers disease
A Cause of Alzheimer's Disease
There are some significant research backed findings that have recently been released which show that sugary drinks such as sodas and sweetened juices can lead to Alzheimer’s Disease or other diseases of cognitive impairment. Read that again: It's possible that soda will cause Alzheimers Disease... because of the sugar.

Sugar Causes Alzheimers Disease

"According to a recent study from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, researchers fed mice 10 percent sugar water for 25 weeks and found that their learning and memory retention declined and the amyloid plaque deposits (a hallmark of Alzheimer’s and sometimes caused by inflammation) in the brains doubled compared with mice that drank water [alone]. Soft drinks may have a similar effect in humans."
What’s more interesting is that the mice that were fed sugar-water, which is pretty much what soda and many juices are, also gained about 17 percent more weight, had higher cholesterol levels, and developed insulin resistance, a sign of diabetes.

A Cuase of Alzheimer's Disease
It’s hard to look at these findings and not draw the correlation with humans especially since we know that people have started developing these conditions more frequently since soda became a mainstay in our refrigerators. There are many people who are proponents of drinking diet sodas or using artificial sweeteners as supplements to sugar but there is further evidence that these artificial sweeteners are no better than the real stuff.

Alcohol & Alzheimer’s Disease

Personally, I have nearly eliminated soda from my diet and rarely if ever purchase sugary juices that are not of natural ingredients. Water works really well for meals. It has no calories and helps with digestion and hydration. Like other drinks it fills you up too so you don’t eat too much. Of course come evening I typically enjoy a beer, wine, or gin on the rocks. Not too much but just enough to enjoy my evening and meet my healthy quota of alcohol. …and to recap a finding I blogged about last month; alcohol in moderation can actually help in fighting off Alzheimer ’s disease while improving your HDL Cholesterol levels can do the same. Crazy, huh?

If you have anything to add to the train of thought I’d love to hear it. Leave me a line in the comments below and consider subscribing to my feed if you liked this post. Thanks!

Best Life, Apr 2008
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
The Saturday Evening Post, Jul-Aug 2008

Physically Fit and Overweight – No Problem

If you have a routine of regular exercise that you do week in and week out but you still are overweight I implore you not to get discouraged and to continue on. The physical benefits of routine exercise are general fitness, bodily health, and increased mortality, not necessarily lower body weight. We all are made differently and the normal body weight for some is simply higher than that of someone else. In fact new research has shown this to be the case in relation to premature death rates.

The study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that overweight people who are physically fit are 50 percent less likely to die prematurely than those who were thin yet not physically fit. The study looked at roughly 22,000 men between 30 and 83 and determined their fitness on a treadmill. Eight years later that men who died were more often than not the men who were thin or normal sized and unfit. The cutoff in this study for overweight used a BMI score of 28 to identify the overweight subject.

This study offers a good deal of hope to those who can’t seem to shed any more pounds despite being physically active and fit and it also should pose a good deal of caution to the thin folk of the world who think they’re just luck and don’t have to work out. Your chances of early death are greatly diminished by being in shape and are not just based on weight alone.

This study also brings up a point I made in an earlier post about BMI scores and Heart Attack risk. In that post I posed an opinion relating to the study which said that those with high BMI scores who were extremely fit probably skewed findings. I assumed that if you stripped these people out then findings associated with those who had high BMI scores would have been more pronounced. Well, this study probably provides some backing to my earlier thesis in that those with high BMIs who are also fit do not die younger than their thin peers. Click through to the BMI and heart attack post to get all of the details and let me know what you think in the comments.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 1999

Chances of Death by Heart Attack at Hospitals Are Greater than at Casinos

You would think that if you were going to have to have a heart attack and were able to choose the location where you'd have it you would probably choose a hospital, but statistics show that if that were the case you amazingly wouldn't have the best chances of surviving.
"A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that only 34 percent of patients who have a heart attack in a hospital survive... a previous study in the same journal found that your chances of surviving a heart attack in a casino are 53 percent."

Amazingly if you were to chose a place to have a heart attack the casino is the better choice because of the presence of defibrillators all around for emergency situations. In hospitals people are busy, everybody is in need of care, but in a casino once someone hits the ground clutching their chest they are caught on camera and by people nearby with not much to do. Defibrillators arrive early and these lives are saved more times than not.

It is said that one of the most common reasons for death in hospitals due to heart attack is delayed defibrillation (assuming you disregard the heart condition in the first place). 30 percent of patients do not receive defibrillation within the recommended two minutes. The study additionally found that the worst response times to heart attacks are between 5pm and 8am and on the weekends meaning that if you have one during these times your chances for death are even greater.

Best Life, April 2008
New England Journal of Medicine

Exercise Lowers Near-Term Chances of Death From All Causes

I found an interesting stat on longevity this morning. It’s actually more regarding mortality and not dying early but hey; it’s close.

There was a recent study from the National Cancer Institute published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, which found that if you exercise moderate five days a week for at least 30 minutes you will be 27 percent less likely to die of all causes within the next seven years. They further found that if you exercise vigorously three days a week for at least 20 minutes then you will be 32 percent less likely die of all causes in the next seven years. This backs up what I have blogged about before regarding exercise promoting longevity.

What I find interesting about this study is that it was tailored to AARP members, people who were between 50 and 71 years of age. Middle aged people and older people alike were involved and combined those who exercised were less likely to die from any and all causes. You would think that those who were closer to 50 years of age had even more pronounced results. The study even said the small amounts of exercise were associated with a 19 percent decrease in expected mortality meaning that even if you do any amount of exercise you should be more likely to be alive in seven years. This coupled with the declining mortality rates associated with eating a Mediterranean diet should be a very exciting reinforcement to the values of those who seek to stay healthy and life long.

It would be interesting to see if the subject’s life spans were extended by consistent percentages of their typical remaining life expectancies rather than just intervals of seven-more-years alone. I would assume seven years for a 70-year old person is much more significant that seven years to a 50-year old. Of course if it was a consistent percentage across the board at any age increasing their mortality rate then I guess that’s good too. In any event this should be further encouragement for you to get out and exercise routinely. Your chances for early death will statistically drop.

Archives of Internal Medicine
National Cancer Institute

Decrease Risk of Death from Cardiovascular Disease

As people live longer lives it is well known that age related diseases begin killing us more so than in the decades past. Heart disease is one of those diseases that affect many people these days as opposed to a few generations back. The causes of this are mainly because of our changes in behavior moving to a more sedentary lifestyle, our increasing length of life, and our poorer eating habits as we find convenience food more appealing than quality food.

Declining Mortality Rates

If you are capable however of changing your diet, however, there are multiple studies that show that the Mediterranean Diet guides many people to longer healthier lives. Another recent study of roughly 380,000 people came out further backing up these claims. As published in the Archives of Internal Medicine those that follow a strict Mediterranean Diet are roughly 22% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease due to the diets focus on fruits, veggies, nuts, and seafood. The study further went on to identify an overall lowering of mortality rates for both men and women on this diet from all causes.

My take on this finding is similar to what I’ve said previously, that I believe the diet promotes longevity due to it’s focus on fish and veggies but not from it’s aversion to beef. I believe beef is fine in moderation. I eat it a couple times a week at least but I never over indulge in it. Small portions are key.

I also wanted to point out the obvious as it related to cardiovascular disease. If you are 22% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease on this diet then you are more likely to die from something else at an older age. This diet, no matter what does cause the results, promotes a longer healthier life.

Archives of Internal Medicine

Women and Heart Attacks at the Carnival of Healing

The weekend is coming to an end as I write this. Often my weekends are quite eventful but this weekend I found myself staying home quite a bit and spending time with my wife and my best fried. In between relaxing and stepping out with friends I found myself finally making the move to bring this blog to it's own domain.

For those that have been following along for a while you have probably noticed that I was publishing on Blogger; well, I'm still there but now you can enjoy not having to see the Blogspot in the address. I hope this adds a little bit more professionalism to the site and I hope it's appreciated.

This weekend, in addition to doing the work to transfer this site over, I also had the pleasure of being included in the latest edition of the Carnival of Healing hosted this week at Tri-freedom. I actually tried to get into this carnival a couple weeks ago but wasn't included for one reason or another. Because of that I wanted to make sure to thank Brad for his choosing to to include me and would like to encourage my readers to make their way over there and take a look around.

My featured post in the carnival was regarding the immune system benefits of mushrooms and I hope you'll read that if you haven't already. But of the many other entries to the carnival I found particular interest in Heartstrong's post on Women and Heart Attacks. The post highlighted a very recent study presented at the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine conference. It showed that women were not getting the same attention to heart attack symptoms as men by EMS. The information as presented is a little shaky due to the study size and the localized nature of the study but it is interesting nonetheless. I'd encourage you to take a look at the full post and make your own opinions.

Anyway, as always I like to try and highlight some of my favorite work in the carnivals in which I take part in so if you make your way over to Heartstrong's blog I hope you'll let him know you came over from here. Aside form that I hope everybody had a nice weekend and I hope this week coming up treats you well.

Live Long!

BMI Relationship with Risk of Heart Attack

If you are at risk for a having a heart attack then your BMI or Body Mass Index could lend a hand in estimating when it might occur. According to a statistic published in Best Life magazine (2/09), if your BMI is measured to be between 25 and 30, your heart attack is likely to occur 3.5 years earlier than if your BMI was below 25. If your BMI is measured to be above 30, then you are likely to suffer your heart attack 6.8 years earlier.

Obviously this is a fairly vague stat because we don't know if we're actually going to have a heart attack or not but it does suggest that lower BMI scores will delay a heart attack if you are knowingly or not knowingly at risk for them.

This stat also fails to note the difference between high BMI scores due to the extremely fit and those who are high due to being unfit. From my non-academic mind I would suppose that the possibility of fit people with high BMI's skews the results to be less impressive than they really are. I would expect the 'years earlier' likelihood of heart attack to be sooner rather than later if you are unfit and have a high BMI but of course I have no basis for this but of opinion and speculation.

Most importantly though if you have a heart attack hopefully you'll be able to recover from your heart attack. I would imagine the higher the BMI, the more stressful it will be. I would actually advise not having one in the first place but sometimes it even happens to the fit people of the world.

Anyway, I don't have any specific studies to back up these facts or my own opinions so I'll let this post be a sounding board for others to weigh in with their opinions. Does anybody have any additional thoughts on this subject?

Best Life, Feb 2009

The Best of Longevity, Nutrition, Health, & Fitness

As author of How To Live a Longer Life I wanted to take some time to offer first time readers a place where they can find the many posts that I am most proud of. I believe these posts highlight the essence of this site and prove to you that this site is worth bookmarking, revisiting, and subscribing to.

The Best of How To Live a Longer Life

The following list of posts are all authored and published here on How To Live a Longer Life and feature some of what I feel is my best work. I hope you find these posts interesting enough to stick around and become a regular reader and contributor in my comments sections.

Lastly, if you feel another post of mine should be featured in this 'Best Of' section then let me know in the comments, email, or via Twitter.

Topics on Longevity

  1. Easy Ways To Live A Longer Life - The destructive behavior people take part in sheds an average of 20 years off their lives. Don't do these four things and you'll live a longer healthier life.
  2. Longevity and Resveratrol - A short essay on Resveratrol and how it works to lengthen life and prevent disease.
  3. Mediterranean Diet Extends Life - There is now conclusive academic evidence that suggests that this diet extends life and protects against disease.
  4. Eat Fish To Extend Your Lifespan - An analysis of longevity patterns around the world and what we can learn about them. Seafood (fish) clearly stands out as an obvious outlier promoting a longer life.

Preventing Disease

  1. Finish Your High Fat Meals With Walnuts for Your Arterial Health - Eating walnuts after a high-fat meal might protect your heart better than olive oil does.
  2. CTC Scan versus Colonoscopy - Studies have shown that CTC Scans might be an alternative option for Colonoscopies, however, I believe the time has not yet come for this alternative to go mainstream.
  3. Lower Your PSA Score and Maybe Your Chances of Prostate Cancer - As essay on the statistical lowering of PSA scores due to the consumption of Aspirin. It's not only for the heart.
  4. How To Increase T-Cell Count and Support Your Immune System - A rundown of the merits of cooking with mushrooms more often. They could keep you from getting sick more often than you'd think.

Food & Diet

  1. Food Pairings | Optimize Your Diet - The emdicinal benefits of pairing everyday foods properly for better nutrition.
  2. Argument for the Vegan Diet - A guest post.
  3. CRON (Calorie Restriction) - Eating less of everything without cutting any foods from your diet may be the ultimate longevuity diet.

Mental Health

  1. Think Positive! - The power of positive thinking can help improve mortality rates and assist in disease prevention and disease recovery.
  2. Alternative Treatment for Depression - Exercise has been shown to be just as effective in treating depression as medication.


  1. Most Popular Longevity Books
  2. Holmes HEPA Filter
  3. Low Radiation Cell Phones

An Invitation To Subscribe!

For now I'll leave this post as is but I plan on linking to this page from my main menu bar above. This page will be continually updated and expanded to include a true representation of the 'Best of' How To Live a Longer Life. I hope you find the articles valuable and interesting and once again I encourage you to get involved, leave me comments, ask me questions, and connect with me on Twitter.

And lastly I invite you to subscribe to my feed to receive future posts as they are published! It's free and easy.

Live Longer!

Extend Life with the Mediterranean Diet

A recent review of 12 studies, ranging between 3 and 18 years in length, covering 574,299 subjects was published in the British Medical Journal in September 2008. The studies revealed that the traditional Mediterranean Diet can indeed increase your health, mortality, and life expectancy by substantial figures.

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

Jennifer Murray at Suite101 gives us a good rundown of the basics of what the Mediterranean Diet consists of:

Read more of what Jennifer had to say about what the Mediterranean Diet is over at Suite101.

Study Findings

What then specifically can you achieve by adhering to this diet. The researchers found that you can statistically expect:

"a significant improvement in health status, as seen by a significant reduction in overall mortality (9%), mortality from cardiovascular diseases (9%), incidence of or mortality from cancer (6%), and incidence of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease (13%). These results seem to be clinically relevant for public health, in particular for encouraging a Mediterranean-like dietary pattern for primary prevention of major chronic diseases."

These finding associated with the Mediterranean Diet suggest correlation with smaller and more specific studies previously noted such as eating fish routinely, avoiding over-eating, drinking red wine, among many others. What the diet doesn’t associate with however are findings such as the benefits of eating Beef (specifically) for the Vaccenic Acid or Omega-7 trans-fats and getting regular sleep and exercise.

My Conclusion

Having said that one could easily assume that poor sleep habits and erratic exercise habits are built into this group of studies as they were not controlled for these factors. If you were to further refine the diet to include regular beef (in moderation), exercise, and good sleep habits the results pointing to increased longevity and decreased mortality would probably be even better than reported.

I am a strong proponent of eating everything and this diet doesn’t discriminate much but I feel Beef is a good food and shouldn’t be left out. Just eat it in moderation like you would (should) anything else.

  • British Medical Journal

  • Suite101

Study Shows Dementia Risk is Three Times Higher in The Obese

Do you have big stomach or waistline? Do you carry your weight near your belt? Are you middle aged? If you answered yes to these questions then you might be three times as likely to develop dementia as the thin waisted person sitting next to you.

Obesity & Dementia

A recent article published in 2008 in the journal Neurology shows that researchers from Kaiser Permanente linked central body obesity (a fat gut) to dementia. The researchers evaluated the medical records of 6,583 elderly people from the 60’s and 70’s and found that those with severe abdominal obesity (the highest quintile) of those studies had a three-fold increase in their risk for dementia. The researches concluded that “central obesity (a fat gut) in [your] midlife increases risk of dementia independent of diabetes and cardiovascular comorbidities. Fifty percent of adults have central obesity; therefore, mechanisms linking central obesity to dementia need to be unveiled.”

Considering so many people (50 percent) have central obesity, according to the researches you might be able to flip this stat on it’s head and say that if you are slim in your gut (lowest quintile of central obesity) you will have third to a quarter chance of getting dementia as the centrally obese. Let this be a motivating factor for shedding some pounds and working out because a mind is a terrible thing to lose.

For Those Who Are Obese

Exercise and diet is obviously the number one and two treatments for obesity and while I’m not here to tell you haw to lose the weight I am here to tell you what else can be done. In addition to exercise and monitoring what you eat you can make sure to eat fish at least three times a week to further minimize your risk for the dementia as well as sport a generally happy and social lifestyle.

  • Neurology

Prostate Cancer Screening: A Lower PSA Score

Prostate cancer screening is a preventative measure that all men are advised to do regularly beginning in their thirties with increasing frequency as they years go by. The cancer itself is a slow growing tumor and thus if you find it early on you’ve got a lot of time to figure out what to do about it. Often the prescription for treating prostate cancer is a ‘wait-and-see-what-happens’ approach from your doctor or at least a variety of cancer - prostate treatment options for you to complete at home while you wait. For those however who have not yet found any cancer and are in the process of getting their PSA scores checked on a regular basis an interesting observation has been found and noted academically in the journal Cancer.

Aspirin and Low PSA Scores

The study published in Cancer reviewed 1,319 men and found that those men who were taking daily aspirin for their hearts actually had “consistently lower” PSA levels. "While researchers aren’t sure if pain relievers lower the risk for prostate cancer or just skew the test, previous research has linked high doses of daily aspirin (1,000 to 3,000 milligrams) with false results in thyroid and glucose tests."

The testing for PSA scores, or Prostate-Specific Antigen scores, works by testing the blood for these Prostate-Specific Antigens which enter the blood after semen that has congealed after ejaculation is turned back into liquid. The PSA (the enzyme used to break down the congealment) is natural but it is often elevated in the case of a swollen prostate which may be why anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen may skew the test. If the prostate is treated with anti-inflammatories than maybe the lower PSA scores are accurate… but then again maybe they simply decrease the quantity enzyme found in the blood but not the presence of slow growing tumors. If this is the case then you might be surprised by cancer even with a lower PSA score.

Definitely more research needs to be done in this area but this certainly should be a point that aspirin takers should keep in mind when talking to their doctors about their routine prostate caner screenings. Of course there are other ways to lower your chances of developing prostate cancer. Eat your fruits and veggies regularly and especially have some cauliflower or broccoli at least once a week; your odds can be cut in half.

  • The Journal Cancer
  • Best Life, Feb 2009

CTC Scan vs Colonoscopy

Which Scan Is Better?

ctc scan versus colonoscopy
The colonoscopy is the dreaded cancer screening that so many people avoid altogether when they reach their fifties. It is widely regarded is invasive and uncomfortable but it is effective tool for the screening of precancerous polyps.

Lately there has been a movement of sorts to find an alternative technique that will bring more people to get their screenings done. Currently a CTC scan or CT-colonography is being touted as the replacement to the colonoscopy scan as it is less invasive and catches many of the same polyps that the traditional colonoscopy would find. The following stat was even quoted a few months back in the February issue of Best Life:
"90 – Percentage of precancerous growths detected by a CTC scan of the colon. This scan is a noninvasive technique compared with the colonoscopy, an uncomfortable (but necessary) cancer screening that many people avoid."

Is The CTC Scan Really A Better Option

Considering the potential benefits to getting a CTC scan, you would think this is a winning technique but over at The Bellingham Herald Blog the comparison between the CTC scan and colonoscopy was more fully examined. The conclusion they came up with was that the cost was too high for the CTC scan to be a common replacement due to its large number of false positives, the large miss rate of the scan, and the multiple tests that would have to be run on those who needed a follow-up colonoscopy.

They are right too; with a miss rate and false positive rate so high most insurance plans would not pay for this test and if they did they would drive health care premiums up as resources are further spread thin due to an increase in procedures.

However, my take is this: There are many people out there that will not get a colonoscopy for one reason or another. For these people who refuse screening due to personal reasons the CTC scan will at least offer them an alternative screening tool which might catch something (or might not) that would otherwise go unfound. This would cost them a fair amount in dollars but at least it’s an option for those who currently refuse care. I think it’s a good plan-B and I think it can only improve in accuracy as technology continues to develop.

Also Notable
Another routine cancer screening that many men put off is their prostate screenings. It has been found that those people who consistently eat veggies high in glucosinolates (i.e. cauliflower, broccoli, etc.) cut their risk for prostate cancer in half. The glucosinolates end up boosting the production of cancer-fighting enzymes… maybe these enzymes can help in the fending off of colon cancer as well. At least it couldn’t hurt.

  • Bellingham Herald Blog
  • Best Life, Feb 2009

Some Trans-Fats are Good For You - Vaccenic Acid

Trans-fats have become the equivalent of the shunned step-child for some time now and generally for good reason but I stumbled upon a little known fact lately that identifies one type of trans-fat which is actually the opposite. Incidentally this reminds me of my post last week which featured an antioxidant that is bad for you… and we all thought this health stuff was black and white didn’t we.

Vaccenic Acid – A Good Trans-Fat

According to recent research coming from the University of Alberta, Vaccenic Acid, an Omega-7 trans-fat found in dairy and beef may actually be good for you. The researchers found that Vaccenic Acid can "reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Rats which were fed Vaccenic Acid lowered their Total Cholesterol by 30 percent, LDL by 25 percent, and Triglycerides by more than 50 percent. The way Vaccenic Acid works is by reducing the production of fat and cholesterol particles called Chylomicrons, which form in the small intestine after a meal."

This reminds me of my earlier post on Saturated Fats Having an Immediate Effect on the Blood. That post and finding argued that after eating the Chylomicrons immediately form and are traceable in blood tests. However this finding related to VA suggests that if those saturated fats are in fact found along with the trans-fat Vaccenic Acid then the formations do not as readily occur. This could explain why it has recently been shown that high-protein foods and whole milk / dairy produce favorable metabolic effects in people. In fact your risk for Metabolic Syndrome actually increase 56 percent when dairy is not part of your daily diet. Of course this makes you wonder if you can actually replace dairy for VA supplements… but that, however, is a different topic.

  • Best Life, Aug 2008

  • The Journal of Nutrition

  • University of Alberta

A Longer Life Is Now On Twitter!

Twitter Blog Birds

For my readers who haven't found out already, How To Live A Longer Life is now on Twitter! I hope you'll take some time to click through and follow me there. I'll be posting updates on what I'm working on here on the site as well as links to other interesting health and nutrition related posts from around the web. Plus I'd like to get to know my readers a little bit more and this will be a natural avenue for that. You can follow me at @alongerlife .
Follow Me On Twitter

Longevity and Resveratrol Supplements

Today being Monday I was included once again in the Total Mind and Body Fitness Blog Carnival over at FitBuff. I submitted my post on exercise supplements that could be damaging your heart.

This post detailed the fact that some nutritional supplements contain an antioxidant which actually damages the heart by making it think you’re not getting enough oxygen. If you haven’t read it I encourage you to click through and take a look.

More On Longevity & Resveratrol

This week the carnival featured a number of good posts but one in particular stuck out as me as fascinating; a true must read. Darwin over at Darwin’s Finance posted Will Resveratrol Benefits Create the Biggest Blockbuster Drug Ever? This post went into great depth describing the science behind resveratrol as well as the hype behind the supplement.

He tied the concept of this supplement into longevity and why it works and even tied the workings of the supplement to many of the same longevity secrets that we already know such as practicing calorie restriction and drinking red wine. Scientists have actually determined that both calorie restriction and drinking wine (a natural source of resveratrol) both activate a gene which promotes healing in the body. It’s not the supplement that does it nor is it the low caloric intake; it’s the gene that produces the anti-aging benefits and until now there are few known ways to activate this gene in our bodies.

I'll definately be looking into trying this supplement out.  I've singled out one supplement in particular to try, Jarrow Resveratrol Synergy, as I have heard good things about it in the press and it can easily be found on Amazon.  Anyway, I highly recommend reading Darwin'r in depth article on the benefits of Resveratrol and then passing the info along to others. Good stuff. Thanks Darwin!

Around The Web
In related news, I’ve been included this weekend in the blog carnival of Observations On Life over at Anja Merret’s blog. My included post was my post on plaque build-up in the arteries. Check it out if it’s new to you and take a look at the many quality posts in this carnival; let them know I sent you. :)

Lastly, I’d encourage you to subscribe to my blog, comment, and link to me when appropriate. I appreciate my readers and hope you feel free and welcome to contribute to the site. Thanks!

Dendritic Cells Increase T-Cell Count

Increase Dendritic Cells With Wite Button MushroomsFor those interested in promoting a healthy immune system and increasing dendritic cells or raising low T-cell counts, you might find some benefits to adding or increasing plain-jane white button mushrooms to your routine diet. Your immune system function will thank you.

White Button Mushrooms, T-Cells, & Dendritic Cells

A recent study published in The Journal of Nutrition found the following:
"White Button Mushrooms promote the maturation of dendritic cells, enhancing immune function and increasing T-cell count, the white blood cells that protect the body from harmful microbial invaders. Adding these earthy-tasting [mushrooms] to your diet can strengthen your immune response and may even help guard against tumor development."

Dendritic Cells?

For those that don't know what dendritic cells are they are cells which "are potent antigen presenting cells (APCs) that possess the ability to stimulate naïve T cells... they are critical for the induction of T-cell responses resulting in cell-mediated immunity (CMI)." This means that for T-cells to work properly the dendritic cells must fully develop so that they can stimulate the T-cells resulting in a better working immune response system and increased white T cell count..

For those that don't typically cook with white button mushrooms just think about dicing them up with your onions and garlic when you saute veggies for sauces and sides. It's really easy and it gives you a nice flavor as well. :)

Dendritic Cells Strengthen Immune System Response

There are additional vegetable methods to increasing immune system response. Try adding your raw crushed garlic to your recipe at the end of cooking rather than the beginning to take advantage of all it's immune system benefits.

Additionally there are significant clinical findings which show that you can increase immune response greatly if you simply beat depression . It definitely behooves you to keep a positive outlook in any and all situations

Update 8/5/09: I have recently posted an additional dietary method for increasing T-Cell count with selenium, which has been studied by the University of Miami and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. This in addition to eating more mushrroms may help slightly in improving HIV T cell count when proper medical treatment is also followed.  Check it out!

Update 11/12/09: This post has received a fair amount of traffic over the last few months and I have come to realize that this post really only covers half of the process of Increasing T Cell count. Not only that but it makes the process of activating T Cells seem quite easy to do. I recently added a new post to the archives which describes the other half of the process. The half where science really is still experimenting and trying to understand how T-cell function works, how to manipulate it, and how to fix it. The second half of the T cell activation process is important to understand. Check it out.

A Longer Life Invitation

If you liked this post I'd encourage you to subscribe to the feed and read the many upcoming health and human longevity articles I have planned for the site. Thanks for visiting and reading How to Live a Longer Life!

Best Life, Aug 2008
Journal of the Royal College Surgeons of Edinburgh
The Journal of Nutrition

Cold Showers Might Benefit Treatment for Depression

"Apparently, cold showers do more than relieve sexual tension. They also alleviate the symptoms of, and could even prevent, depression, according to a recent study in Medical Hypothesis. The study authors believe that the blues might be triggered by a lack of physical stressors. Because our skin contains three to ten times more cold receptors than those registering warmth, cool water is the equivalent of mild electroshock therapy. It activates the sympathetic nervous system, causing the brain to release noradrenaline, a chemical with antidepressant effects. The study authors recommend spending two to three minutes in 68-degree water."
In my personal opinion this is pretty crazy mostly because I have a strong tendency to avoid cold water... but that's just me.

Of course you can also work on alleviating depression through other more active ways such as going for a walk or doing virtually any other form of exercise as this has been proven to be virtually as effective at treating depression as drugs have. Thinking about this a little more however I can't help but think that we all take nearly daily showers. It probably wouldn't hurt to take a minute or three of this time at a low temperature. A good mood for the day might just be worth the time.

Best Life, Aug '08

Promote Longevity With Aerobic Exersice

The British Journal of Sports Medicine recently published a study that found that one could add 12 healthy years to their life expectancy by staying aerobically fit. Activities such as jogging, swimming, and biking will condition your heart to pump blood more efficiently, allow you to take in more oxygen, expand you blood vessels, and release endorphins, helping you to live longer and healthier.

This finding falls in line with the general theory of exercising to stay fit and healthy but it adds the dimension of identifying the longevity effects of the same practice. Obviously don't push it too far if you're just starting out and keep in mind that a healthy sleep schedule will keep your odds of living life to it's full extent at it's maximum. Sleep won't increase your lifespan but it will diminish it if you don't optimize the daily duration.

More Ways To Promote Longevity
If you are new to this site I would like to encourage you dig into the archives for longevity secrets and ideas all supported by clinical research and common sense.  You can promote longevity in many ways; don't limit yourself. :). 

British Journal of Sports Medicine

Your Job’s Effect on Dementia

To continue on with the dementia theme I’ve got going today let me present yet another stat that seems to decrease your risk for cognitive decline. This stat however isn’t something most of us can do much about unless we’re up for a career change.
"You’ll have a 34 percent decrease in your risk of dementia if your job requires you to have frequent interactions with people, according to a new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Teachers seemed to have the greatest protection, followed by nurses, doctors, farmers, and office clerks."
Aside from changing careers just practice good habits by reducing caloric intake, drinking responsibly, and combating inflammation periodically.

American Journal of Epidemiology
Best Life, Aug ‘08

An Ibuprofen - Alzheimer’s Disease Finding

Inflammation has been generally associated with the plaque that builds up in the brain when a person begins developing Alzheimer’s disease. There have been studies that suggest that cutting calories from one’s diet can decrease some of the inflammation that might be the cause of cognitive decline and now there is more evidence that treating inflammation can decrease your risk of Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline. By popping the occasional ibuprofen, Alzheimer's disease risks might just diminish.

Ibruprofen & Alzheimer's Disease

As written in Best Life, Aug. ’08:
"Common over-the-counter pain drugs known as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as ibuprofen or Advil, might protect against Alzheimer’s disease. A Boston University study identified 49,000 US veterans older than 55 with Alzheimer’s and more than 196,000 veterans without the disease. They found that those who used NSAIDs for periodic pain relief were 44 percent less likely to have developed the disease. The researchers think the drug’s anti-inflammatory effects could suppress the formation of amyloid plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s."

Additionally the simple act of flossing your teeth can decrease inflammation in your body system-wide and spare damage to the brain’s white matter. You can also look into your soda intake as a warning sign for future cognitive impairment.

Best Life, Aug ‘08

Increase Your Risk For Early Death by Eating Too Many Eggs

eating too many eggs
Eating too many eggs may be detrimental to your health:
"Seven - Number of eggs eaten per week that can increase a man's risk of early death by 23 percent, according to a 20-year study of 21,327 men that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Although eating fewer than seven eggs a week had no effect on either cardiovascular health or mortality, consuming seven or more a week increased LDL particle size, leading to less than favorable lipid profiles."
This research on eating too many eggs is actually quite interesting because it is so broad and covers such a large amount of people. 21,000 men, adjusted for nothing but how many eggs they ate per week. With no change up to seven eggs per week and then an increased risk for early death at seven and above. This seems to suggest that there is something that ties lifespan to this dietary tendency but we don't really know what it is. The cholesterol is an obvious candidate thus you might be moved to lower LDL cholesterol levels in your diet in general but the tie-in might just boil down to the simple fact that if you're eating too many eggs then maybe you're more likely to be eating too much of everything else as well. Eggs by themselves are not bad but actually quite good for you in moderation so maybe this signifies a tendency for people to slip away from moderation and thus reduce their life expectancies. Who knows but it is quite interesting.

Related to my previous post about eggs being a carrier of carotenoids which decrease your risk for AMD, this research, though very vague and blurry around the edges, should tell us that eggs alone are not the solution for AMD prevention. You really should mix in leafy greens into your daily diet. There is no substitute for variety; that's why we have so many options.

I would also suggest brushing up on the most typical and obvious way to increase your lifespan: Drink Less Alcohol.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Best Life, Aug '08

High Blood Pressure and Exercise - Take It Easy

This is fairly obvious information to most (I think) but if you've got arterial hypertension (high blood pressure) or some form of heart disease or other similar ailment you should definitely start exercising but you should also ease into it. Exercising too excessively at first can be damaging to your system if your body is not able to take the strain.

The following information and study published in the journal Hypertension and referenced in Best Life magazine backs up a lot of this general thought process:
"While exercise can decrease heart disease risk, if you're one of the 72 million American's with high blood pressure, there's a fine line as to how hard you should push yourself. A recent study, published in the journal Hypertension, found that excessive exercise causes structural abnormalities in the hearts of those with high blood pressure-aberrations such as enlarged hearts and decreased pumping ability. Your doctor can tell you how much exercise is too much."

From my perspective though no matter what your health is exercise is a good thing and it should be practiced even if at a very low intensity. At the very least it is good for the mood and for treating depression.

Best Life, Dec '07

First Calendar Month Completed

I thought it would be nice to update my readers on this site’s stats as I’ve completed my first calendar month of blogging for ‘How To Live A Longer Life’. Now, this site only went live on the 11th of May so it’s not even been a full month of operations yet but it has been a solid 20+ days of posting, networking, and laying the groundwork for increased traffic, credibility, and readership in future months.

Folowing this text are my basic stats thus far and I’d like to thank a few people who have helped me along the way. These people likely have no idea they helped but I figured a shout out to them is in order anyway. Amanda at BloggerBuster helped out immensely in teaching me many of the site design techniques that I used in creating this site, Shaun at Hobo for helping me understand a lot about SEO and site organization, and Griz at Make Money with Adsense for his teachings on incorporating Adsense into web projects.

For the month of May, this site’s first month of operations I managed to:
  • Set up this site hosted on Blogger/Blogspot

  • Designed the (hopefully SEO friendly) site template from scratch

  • Listed ‘How To Live A Longer Life’ with Technorati

  • Published blog feed with Feedburner

  • Posted 41 entries

  • Received 53 unique visitors to the site

  • Was found in search results 8 times

  • Was included in 3 blog carnivals

  • Signed up 4 subscriber to the blog feed

I understand my results 20 days in are quite modest but I feel a lot of work should be done up front before any significant results can be expected. For now I will celebrate early accomplishments and take it one day at a time.

Thanks to my readers and especially to my few early subscribers! I hope you’ll take the time to help publicize this site. Email it to your friends, link to articles, post to Facebook, and leave comments… and feel free to pose questions to me for future topics or items to feature on the site. Thanks, and here’s to a great June!

***For those backlinking into this post please take some time to read more about 'How To Live A Longer Life' and subscribe to future posts. Welcome!***

Nutritional Supplements That Could Be Damaging Your Heart

Antioxidants are generally though of as a ‘good thing’. We try to eat foods that contain them in mass without much thought as to what these antioxidants actually are. Researchers from the University of Virginia however have identified one antioxidant which is commonly found in many nutritional and bodybuilding supplements which can potentially damage the heart and lungs if prolonged usage exists.

The Dangers of N-acetylcysteine

”Antioxidants are supposed to fight cancer and slow the aging process, but according to researchers certain supplements such as ‘SuperPump250’ and ‘Amp’d’ contain an antioxidant called N-acetylcysteine that damages the heart and lungs. Animal studies showed that the substance fools the body into thinking it isn’t getting enough oxygen, causing the arteries in the lungs to thicken, blood pressure to rise, and the right side of the heart to swell.”

Despite the findings this antioxidant is commonly used in drug therapy for various ailments such as acetaminophen overdose, excessive mucus, and certain forms of renal failure. The finding is really only associated with high doses of N-acetylcysteine and the long-term effects of moderate to small doses are undetermined. For those however who err on the side of caution, check with your supplement’s label or manufacture and make sure N-acetylcysteine is not present.

Findings such as these might make one wonder what is present in the various foods they eat or drink, for instance the antioxidant properties of wine or blueberries. We all speak of antioxidants as if they were interchangeable or as if they were one thing when in fact they each are different and could be responsible for very different reactions in the body. Though most of these reactions are positive it might be noted that the reactions of some of them could affect some people differently based on their body’s unique variability.

  • The Journal of Clinical Investigation, Sept. 2007

  • Best Life, Dec ‘07

Saturated Fats Have An Immediate Effect on the Blood

If you’re thinking about having a nice meal this evening keep in mind this very interesting finding of a group of Australia researchers. They fed two groups of people two meals consisting of a piece of carrot cake and a milk shake. In one meal the cake was made with coconut oil, which is high in saturated fat; in the other meal the cake was made with polyunsaturated safflower oil. Blood tests revealed that eating the cake made with coconut oil (saturated fat) as opposed to the cake made with safflower oil (unsaturated fat) reduced flexibility in the arteries and caused harmful changes in cholesterol levels, both of which increase the likelihood of clogging arteries.

One-Meal Tipping Point

The findings suggest that even one meal or dose of saturated fats has an immediate effect on the body and increases the likelihood of fatty plaque buildup in the arteries. If you are living on the cusp of coronary disease then you might think twice about ingesting even one dose of saturated fats until at least your condition improves. This also suggests that healthy individuals might want to consider spreading their saturated fat intake out rather than binging on it in a random day or two. Instead of eating poorly all weekend long, give yourself a treat for one meal but not the whole weekend. It doesn’t take long for the body to react to the fats you ingest.

Cholesterol Association

In a related note it has also been found that those suffering from Sleep Apnea ate on average, an additional 88.16 milligrams of cholesterol a day. The study felt that sleep apnea caused the overeating so this suggests that those with sleep apnea should be more concerned about what kind of fats they take in because they statistically are more likely to ingest more of them. Take a look at this guide for tips to treat sleep apnea symptoms while you work on correcting the underlying problem.

Best Life – Dec ‘07
University of Arizona College of Medicine

Eating Less of Everything - CRON

the calorie restriction diet - cron
Eating Less of Everything is Still the Best Diet
An interesting stat: You’ll likely consume 131 percent more calories at a restaurant if your meal is labeled as a "healthy option".

Binge Eating vs Calorie Restriction

Researchers from Cornell University found that not only do people tend to overindulge in beverages, sides, and desserts when they choose a "healthy option" meal but the meal’s themselves often contain 50 percent more calories than many of the standard menu choices. It’s not that the main dish is unhealthy; it’s that generally either the side dishes or the sauces used to dress up healthy items increase calorie counts quickly or the quantity of food is large enough to offset the lower calorie count per ounce. Steamed vegetables just aren’t the norm it seems.

Keep this in mind when you’re trying to keep your calorie count down. Healthy dieting is not always about what you eat it is often about who much you eat. You don’t really have to change your eating habits or what it is that you eat… just eat less of what you have normally been eating otherwise.

Calorie Restriction - CRON

CRON is a term that stands for Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition, otherwise known as the calorie restriction diet. Though the eat-whatever-you-want mantra doesn’t quite fit with CRON, the eating less of whatever-you-want mantra certainly supports the idea of lengthening life through calorie restriction, so feel free to try it and learn to split your restaurant meals into two, one for now, and one for tomorrow. Of course you could skip the restaurant altogether and prepare a nice CRON friendly meal at home for far less money out of pocket.  Regardless of how you do it chances are good you will live longer by eating less.

Best Life, Dec ‘07

Leading Causes of Death

Heart Disease is easily the leading cause of death in America. One of the major contributors to heart disease is cholesterol. See the following posts for more on lowering your risk for heart disease:

How To Lower LDL Cholesterol Levels Naturally

Welcome to How To Live A Longer Life! This site focuses on human longevity and shows you how you can live longer by improving health and nutrition and by preventing disease. If you want to learn how to live longer then consider subscribing.