Thursday, May 24, 2012
If you love dark chocolate, then you’re also going to love how dark chocolate can positively affect your health, including how it can reduce insulin sensitivity, increase feelings of fullness and reduce stress and cortisol levels.
Here’s what researchers found out about the sweet relief of dark chocolate. It can:
Reduce insulin sensitivity. You may wonder why this is significant. Insulin is released by the pancreas when blood sugar rises and helps push blood glucose into the cells. When this process is repeated too much due to high sugar intake, however, the cells become resistant to insulin and that prevents insulin from doing its job. It also steals needed nutrition from cells. As if that weren’t enough, the body also gets signals that it’s starving, which calls for more food intake and causes the body to store fat to protect itself. All of this, of course, results in weight gain and other unhealthy outcomes.
Fortunately, dark chocolate has a positive effect on insulin. For example, a 2012 meta-analysis of 42 studies of chocolate and cocoa was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The results supported the connection between dark chocolate consumption and significant reductions in serum insulin, which resulted in resistance to insulin to decrease. What’s more is that the researchers found that dark chocolate consumption correlated to consistently lower blood pressure.
Help quell food cravings. A Denmark study reviewed in Science Daily found that dark chocolate, compared to milk chocolate, effectively lessened unhealthy food cravings and was also more filling. Study subjects were given either dark chocolate or milk chocolate, and over the next several hours, they responded to how hungry those tested were. The researchers also recorded caloric intake for each person and discovered that those who had eaten the dark chocolate consumed 15 percent less than the other test subjects. Likewise, the dark chocolate eaters had fewer cravings for unhealthy snacks.
Reduce stress and cortisol levels. Many of us know what stress and cortisol can do. Stress triggers the release of cortisol. Cortisol, in turn, causes the body to secrete more insulin. That leads to overeating. It’s a vicious and unhealthy cycle. Dark chocolate helps, though. A study published in the Journal of Proteome Research highlighted that anxiety sufferers who consumed 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate daily for two weeks showed reduction in cortisol excretion. That finding prompted the scientists to conclude that chocolate has the ability to alter human metabolism—at least as it pertains to cortisol.
It’s also important to point out that dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants, which, of course, are believed to help the body's cells resist damage caused by free radicals, formed by normal bodily processes such as breathing or environmental toxins. When the body lacks adequate levels of antioxidants, free radical damage can get out of hand.
Some of the protective properties of dark chocolate are found in its flavonoids, which are pigments in plants and fruits that act as antioxidants to protect against damage from free radicals. In the body, flavonoids enhance the beneficial activities of vitamin C and, therefore, can help keep the body strong. Tests have shown that the flavonoids in chocolate are particularly potent antioxidants. Additionally, dark chocolate also contains some plant sterols, B vitamins, magnesium, copper, potassium and other heart-healthy substances.
Now that’s some pretty sweet relief.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
It’s no secret that we live in a stress-filled society and often lead stressful lives. And while we can rationalize it as “just a part of life,” our bodies tell the tale. In fact, if you’ve heard it said that you can’t fool Mother Nature, it’s true because there are natural biochemical responses to stress. Period.
Pioneering stress researcher Hans Selye, M. D. notes a consistent pattern of responses to stress in three primary stages: the alarm reaction, the stage of resistance and the stage of exhaustion. Initially, the body’s biochemistry tends to react to stress in an orderly fashion. Stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system (part of the autonomic nervous system) activates the secretion of hormones from endocrine glands and constricts both the blood vessels and the involuntary muscles of the body. When the endocrine glands are stimulated, then heart rate, glucose metabolism and oxygen consumption increase. Likewise, the pituitary gland responds by releasing a variety of hormones throughout the body, and that influences the defensive and adaptive mechanisms.
The adrenal glands are responsible for the production of and distribution of at least 50 hormones, including epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline). These hormones are released in direct response to the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the fight-or-flight response to stress or physical threats. The adrenal cortex, the outer layer of the adrenal gland, is responsible for the production of corticosteroids (also called adrenal steroids), including cortisol. Under conditions of stress, high amounts of cortisol are released—and chronic stress eventually depletes the body’s resources and its ability to adapt.
Obviously, today when we’re under stress, we don’t run or fight, yet we have adrenaline coursing through our blood system. This is what leads to a number of stress-related outcomes including anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heart problems, insomnia and adrenal fatigue.
The difficulty with adrenal fatigue is that it is often overlooked, but the effects can greatly interfere with life and health. Some of the effects include: fatigue, mental fogginess and struggling with memory; moodiness; hormonal imbalance or depletion; dizziness or light-headedness when standing suddenly; compromised immunity, strong cravings for sugar, salt and unhealthy fats; continual muscle tension leading to unhealthy blood pressure levels; and an inability to relax completely.
There are some steps to take to manage adrenal fatigue, however. Eating a healthy diet and avoiding sugar, sugar substitutes, junk foods, alcohol and stimulants is a good starting point. You’ll also want to make sure your diet includes enough vitamin B12, vitamin B5, and the entire B-complex vitamin spectrum as well as enough vitamin C and magnesium. Additionally, lifestyle changes that include regular exercise and getting enough sleep can help to diminish the effects of too much cortisol resulting from incessant stress.
There are other stress-busting tactics that may help, such as unplugging from stressful situations when possible, removing from your schedule any unnecessary activities that drain you and finding productive ways to unwind.
One thing’s for sure: you don’t want to be a victim of 21st century stress syndrome.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
A new study finds that as men age they are likely to experience hormone related conditions similar to females going through menopause. The hormone imbalance is linked to unwanted weight gain, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases. In the study, hormone-deficient men that were given testosterone experienced long-term sustainable weight loss.
Testosterone is a hormone that is found in the body that primarily differentiates male physical characteristics compared to females. This naturally occurring hormone is used in the production and growth of lean muscle and is utilized in the burning of fat.
The study that was announced at the European Congress on Obesity demonstrated that taking testosterone supplements caused significant weight loss. Men lost an average of 16 kg over five years with the balancing of testosterone levels.
These findings are not intended to be a quick fix according to health professionals. Professor Richard Sharpe from the University of Edinburgh Centre for Reproductive Health said: “It is far more sensible and safer for men to reduce their food intake, reduce their obesity, which will then elevate their own testosterone.”
Testosterone Causes Weight Loss
Testosterone imbalance will impact numerous bodily systems creating unwanted health conditions to develop over time. One of the primary indicators of diabetes, mortality risk and overall longevity is one’s waist circumference and blood pressure. Raising testosterone levels have been found to reduce the risk of complications and naturally reduce size and blood pressure.
Dr Farid Saad, lead author of the study said: "When we analysed the data we found that every year, for five years, they had lost weight. It may be that the increased testosterone restored their energy levels and led to a behavioural change of being more physically active."
Many health experts have linked low testosterone to numerous symptoms that include poor sleep habits, poor concentration, depression and anxiety. These symptoms indicate a greater concern that includes poor or inadequate healing and lack of physical activity. The relationship between obesity and testosterone appears to be a vicious cycle.
Stimulating Testosterone Production
One of the most powerful ways to raise natural testosterone levels is exercise. As we age we commonly become less physically active and exercise less. This is the primary link to the development of hormonal imbalances over time. Testosterone and other hormones such as insulin and thyroid will contribute to the development of obesity, diabetes and other chronic health conditions.
Exercise is not commonly described as fun especially if a person is currently overweight or experiencing health conditions. Prevention and accepting overall responsibility for your health is the primary way of not developing most health conditions, decreased testosterone and obesity. Regardless of your age, we will describe the best forms of exercise for testosterone production that is fun, sustainable and result oriented.
All Exercise Not Created Equal
There are two forms of exercise called aerobic and anaerobic. Simply those two terms mean “with oxygen” and “without oxygen”. The type of exercise that utilizes large amounts of oxygen includes walking, jogging, running, biking and any form of exercise that is 15 minutes or more in duration. “Without oxygen” exercises are higher intensity and shorter duration exercise that will create a different health response in the body.
“With oxygen” exercises have been found to be good for your heart and circulation but overall bad for your body. Low intensity, long duration exercises such as jogging will lower resting heart rate, blood pressure but will also cause an increase in stress hormones. Stress hormones such as cortisol will stimulate appetite, increase fat storing, slow recovery from exercise and is catabolic (breaks down muscle).
This form of exercise also plummets testosterone and human growth hormone that is necessary for building lean muscle and improves fat burning. “With oxygen” exercises have also been found to decrease one’s immune function post exercise.
“Without oxygen” exercises that are higher in intensity and shorter in duration have a very different effect on the body’s physiology and hormone response. When this form of exercise is applied properly it is not only good for your heart and circulation but also your body.
High Intensity, Short Duration Exercise
Human growth hormone and testosterone is released in the body in direct proportion to the intensity of the exercise. Human growth hormone is a hormone that builds lean muscle and burns fat. If you desire to lose weight in and around the muscles and organs – high intensity exercise is the best form.
One of the best characteristics of high intensity, short duration exercise is that it builds muscle. Muscle has an increase in metabolic activity compared to fat and will fend off weight gain. It’s the amount of muscle – not age, gender or genetics that is the greatest determining factor for metabolism, future muscle development and fat loss.
Upper Body Exercises
Pushups -- The beginner can do pushups on your knees or even against a wall to help build strength.
Dips – Move to the edge of your chair and grasp onto the seat. Move your feet away from the chair. Beginners will have their feet closer to the chair and advanced will have straight legs with their feet far away from the chair. Bend your elbows and lower yourself towards the floor and then raise yourself until your arms are straight.
Helicopters – Bring your arms straight out from your sides with your palms down and arms parallel to the ground. The movement is making circles in the air in the clockwise direction first and then counterclockwise. The goal is to keep the circles small.
Straight Arms – Bring your arms straight out in front of you with your palms down. The movement is similar to making up and down alternating scissor actions.
Lower Body Exercises
Squats – Start with your feet shoulder width apart. Bend knees, push butt out and keep your shoulders back. The key is to keep your knees over your feet and bend down to approximately 90 degrees and then come up.
Jumps – Start by standing and bend your knees to prepare for a jump. Jump off the floor.
Running – Run in place.
Circle Run – Place a towel on the floor. Run around the towel in clockwise and counterclockwise directions. The key is to always face one direction and just move your feet.
Ensure that you stretch and warm up the areas that you are going to work out. This will reduce your risk of injury and improve the response to the work out. Never exercise without a minimum of a two minute warm up and cool down after.
Twenty seconds of full-on exercise to get your heart rate up. Twenty seconds of rest. Repeat three times per exercise. Take a one minute break in between the different exercises. Lower and upper body exercises should be done on different days. Do a minimum of four times per week. This form of exercise saves times, saves money, gets you fit and restores your health.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Can you read the following? Yy u r yy u b I c u r yy 4 me.
Too wise you are, too wise you be, I see you are too wise for me.
From Round Table email
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
..."Sunshine" Vitamin Boosts Brain Function
The study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine1 and first reported at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease.
The authors of this study examined the blood levels of vitamin D in 3,325 adults over the age of 65. Then they compared these numbers to the participants' scores on a series of tests and exams designed to measure memory, orientation in time and space, and ability to maintain attention.
The researchers classified the subjects as "cognitively impaired" if they scored in the worst 10 percent among those in the study.
The results showed that the risk of cognitive impairment was 42 percent higher in those who are "deficient" in vitamin D. That's a significant finding. But the real shocker was the rate of impairment in those who were "severely deficient" in the sunshine vitamin. These patients exhibited a 394 percent higher likelihood of impairment!
"The odds of cognitive impairment increase as vitamin D levels go down," says study author David Llewellyn. "Given that both vitamin D deficiency and dementia are common throughout the world, this is a major public health concern."
The same group of researchers also worked on an earlier related study. It also offered evidence supporting this simple truth: seniors who get their daily dose of "sunshine" maintain stronger cognitive functioning. Conversely, as vitamin D levels fall, the risk of mental impairment rises.
Sources of the "Sunshine" Vitamin
Vitamin D can be found in some foods. The best sources are oily fish, such as herring, mackerel and sardines. However, the quantities in food are much, much smaller than what you need for optimal health.
In fact, according to noted vitamin D researcher, Dr. Michael Holick, the average light-skinned person will produce up to 10,000 IU of vitamin D within just half an hour of summer sun exposure. You would have to eat 58 cans of sardines to get the same amount of vitamin D.
This indicates that "nature knows best" and the optimal way for us to achieve appropriate vitamin D levels is through exposure to sunlight.
However, many of us live in climates where it is just not possible to get enough sunlight for most of the year. Others spend too much time indoors and are not able to enjoy the sun as much as we should.
In addition, we gradually lose our capacity to produce Vitamin D from sunlight as the body ages - a time when we need it most. According to Dr. Iain Lang, one of the authors of the Alzheimer's and vitamin D study, "Getting enough vitamin D can be a real problem, particularly for older people, who absorb less vitamin D from sunlight."
The only way to know if your vitamin D levels are putting you at risk for cognitive impairment - and a host of other diseases - is to have your levels tested. The test is inexpensive and can be performed with a simple blood draw.
The optimal level of vitamin D ranges from 50-70 ng/ml. If your levels fall below this range, you should make plans to enjoy some time in the sun more often (without burning). If that is not possible or practical, consider supplementing your diet with Vitamin D3. Then check your levels again after a few months to ensure that your levels are within range.
Vitamin D is one of the most powerful and important compounds to your health. We already know that it can reduce your risk for cancer and promote a strong immune system. And now we know that it can protect your brain too. So preserve your mind and precious memories by making plans to enjoy some time in the sun each week.
Scientists and medical researchers have associated vitamin D levels with virtually every degenerative disease known to man. The risk of cancer, in particular, is strongly related to vitamin D levels. In fact, one study found that 30% of ALL cancer deaths worldwide could be prevented year with higher levels of this compound...
From NHD Health Watch email.
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