Mental Well Being and Link to Cardiovascular and Overall Health

The National Institute of Mental Health in 2019 showed data that indicated that almost 51.5 million adults living in the U.S. were experiencing some kind of mental health challenge. And with the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected so many in the U.S., it is now estimated that 40% of adults are experiencing a mental health challenge or a substance abuse disorder. The AHA has now published information that relates to the link between cardiovascular health and overall health, and psychological wellness.

The authors of the information started their work by studying negative psychological health and the connection it may have to cardiovascular disease. Their work included studying research into traumatic and chronic stress, anxiety, pessimism, anger, hostility, and depression.

The author’s analysis of the overall data indicated increases in blood pressure readings, reduced blood flow to the heart, heart rate irregularities, and inflammatory markers which are all linked to the above mentioned mental conditions or traits.

People who have negative conditions or similar traits that affect their mental health are more likely to experience type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, weight issues and high blood pressure. The team also discovered that these particular people had a higher likelihood of engaging in a variety of behaviors which will negatively affect their health such as being inactive, smoking, not taking prescribed medications and unhealthy diets.

The team also looked at a variety of studies in regards to how cardiovascular health is affected by positive psychological characteristics. Participants in the studies who indicated sense of purpose, greater optimism, mindfulness, emotional vitality, life satisfaction, resilience, gratitude, and well being had a much lesser likelihood of having cardiovascular disease or stroke and they also had reduced mortality risk.

People who indicate a positive status in regards to their mental health were more likely to show better glucose control, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and less inflammation. The people who reported a healthy mental status had a higher likelihood of engaging in behaviors that are beneficial such as adhering to prescribed medications, not smoking, engaging in high levels of physical activity, visiting their healthcare professional on a regular basis, and engaging in eating habits that are heart healthy.

Analysts also looked at how interventions that center around psychological symptoms or conditions might impact cardiovascular and overall outcomes of health. The research included interventions such as promoting coping skills, reducing stress, and cultivating a positive state of well-being.

They discovered that these particular studies showed that engagement in body/mind programs and psychological therapy led to greater cardiovascular health and wellness in general. Effective programs that emphasize psychological health include psychotherapy, therapies for stress reduction, meditation, and collaborative approaches in care management.

When it comes to people who are at risk or have heart disease, healthcare providers should address the patient’s mental health wellness in combination with all physical conditions that affect their body such as cholesterol levels, blood pressure, chest pains and more.

And while there is volumes of research data which does reflect a link between negative psychological health and the risk of cardiovascular diseases, the team believes there is plenty of evidence that shows a tangible link between the body, the heart and the mind.

To view the original scientific study click below

Psychological Health, Well-Being, and the Mind-Heart-Body Connection: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association

Stretching Better than Walking for Lower Blood Pressure

A recent study from the University of Saskatchewan (USask) has shown that stretching is more effective and superior to brisk walks for reducing blood pressure in people who have high blood pressure or could be at risk of developing high blood pressure. The team found that just 30 minutes of stretching for 5 days each week resulted in better improvements in blood pressure over a 30 minute walk for 5 days of the week.

The CDC reports that about 45% of adults in the U.S. which equates to about 108 million people have hypertension. In 2018, hypertension was either a contributing cause or a primary cause of almost half a million deaths. And according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, uncontrolled or undiagnosed hypertension can result in a variety of diseases including chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, vascular dementia and eye damage.

Health care professionals will typically recommend aerobic exercise to lower blood pressure. However, earlier research has shown that stretching might lower blood pressure due to improved blood flow and reduced stiffness of arteries. Stretching is not just about stretching muscles. When you stretch you are also stretching the blood vessels that feed into muscle, including all arteries. By reducing stiffness of arteries, there is less resistance to the flow of blood. Resistance to blood flow will increase blood pressure.

The current study by USask researchers is the first to test walking against stretching in a head-to-head comparison in the identical group of participants. The team randomly assigned 40 females and males with a mean age of 61 to two groups for an eight week study period. One group participated in a whole body stretching routine for 30 minutes each day for 5 days per week. The other group participated in brisk walks for the same amount of time and frequency. Every participant had elevated blood pressure or had stage 1 hypertension at the beginning of the study.

The stretching routine consisted of 21 stretching exercises with each participant performing each stretch two times while holding each stretch for 30 seconds and with a 15 second rest period between stretches.

The participants in the walking routine were asked to monitor their pulse and increase their pace if their pulse fell short of 50-65% of the maximum heart rate for their age.

All participant’s blood pressure was measured at both the beginning and at the end of the 8-week program utilizing three different techniques – one with a sphygmomanometer while the person sat down, one using the same meter while the person was lying down, and one with an automatic ambulatory blood pressure monitor which was set to take readings in 20 minutes intervals during waking time and in 45 minute intervals during sleep.

When compared to brisk walking, stretching resulted in greater reductions in blood pressure across all three types of the measurements. The study did show that the walkers lost more body fat from their waist over the 8 week period. The two different groups did not differ in their overall levels of activity outside their 30 minute daily routines. This indicates that the group participants did not compensate by adjusting or changing their usual levels of activity.

People who walk for help in reducing their blood pressure should continue to do so, but think about adding in some sessions of stretching. People should not come away from the research thinking they should not be participating in some kind of aerobic activity such as biking, walking, etc. All these activities have positive effects on blood sugar, cholesterol levels and body fat.

While the research protocol had the participants stretching for 30 minutes each time, the team suspects people can still benefit the same from shorter routines that emphasize the larger groups of muscles in the legs, in particular the hamstrings and the quadriceps. Yoga has been shown to product similar reductions in blood pressure.

The advantage to stretching is that it can be easily incorporated into a person’s daily routine, it doesn’t put people at the mercy of the weather, it is easy on the joints, and does not require a big commitment of time.

The team is currently seeking funding to engage in a larger study that would include more participants. Their goal is to expand the scope beyond measurements of blood pressure to explore possible physiological reasons behind why stretching results in reduced blood pressure – such as changes in the body’s nervous system and arterial stiffness.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Stretching is Superior to Brisk Walking for Reducing Blood Pressure in People With High–Normal Blood Pressure or Stage I Hypertension.

Simple Knee Injection Could Halt Osteoarthritis

A team of scientists have recently found a method for a simple knee injection that could possibly halt the effects of this disease. The team was able to show that by targeting in mice a specific protein pathway then follow with putting it in overdrive, they could halt the degeneration of cartilage over time.

The team then built on this finding by illustrating that by treating mice who had surgically induced knee cartilage degeneration, through the identical pathway through state of the art nano-medicine, they could reduce the knee pain and degeneration of cartilage quite dramatically.

The team’s lab is just one of the few studying EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) signaling in cartilage. From their beginning, they have discovered that EGFR inactivation or deficiency speeds up the progression of osteoarthritis in mice. Therefore, they proposed that its activation might be utilized for osteoarthritis treatment. They have proven that over-activating it within the knee will block the progression of the disease.

Although the tests from a variety of other labs that also work with EGFR have shown controversial and confusing results, the current labs work has consistently shown ties between EGFR deficiencies and osteoarthritis which has formed the foundation of this team’s hypothesis.

The team compared regular mice with mice that contained a molecule that will bind to EGFR which is known as a ligand, that had been over-expressed in chondrocytes which are cartilage building blocks. The over-expression will drive the over-activation EGFR signaling that occurs in knee cartilage.

When the team examined the mice, they found that the mice with over-expressed EGFR ligand consistently had enlarged cartilage. This meant that the cartilage wasn’t deteriorating like the mice that had the normal EGFR activity. Additionally, as these mice entered adulthood, their cartilage was shown to be resistant to degeneration and a variety of other osteoarthritis hallmarks. This occurred even when the meniscus of their knee showed damage.

The team then went further to prove that the mice over-activated EGFR was the cause for the resiliency in these mice. They found that treatments called gefitnib which have been designed to block function of EFGR, removed the protection against degeneration of the cartilage.

Using all this knowledge, the team looked toward possible clinical treatments. Using a new variety of tests, they then created nano-therapeutics using a potent EGFR ligand to transform growth factor-alpha onto nano-particles in synthetic form, to inject into the mice who previously had damage to their knee’s cartilage.

EGFR ligands which are free only have a very short half-life and therefore can’t be retained inside a joint capsule because of their small size. Nanoparticles will help restrict them in the joint, offer protection from degradation, lessen off-target toxicity, and send them deep within dense cartilage in order to reach chondrocytes.

When the mice were given an injection of the nano-therapeutics, the team noted that they slowed down the degeneration of the cartilage and hardening of bone in addition to easing knee pain. They also noted there were no significant side effects experienced in the mice that were treated.

Although there are a lot of technical aspects the team’s application will need to be worked out, the ability to slow down or even stop the direction of osteoarthritis through an injection instead of surgery, would quite dramatically alter how we function and feel after injury and as we age.

Treatments are most likely in the distant future for humans, however the nano-particles that were used have been tested in the clinic and considered safe. This paves the way for quick translation to clinical use.

To view the original scientific study click below

Targeting cartilage EGFR pathway for osteoarthritis treatment.

Comparing Plant-Based, Low-Fat Diets and Animal Based, Low-Carb Diets

A recent study conducted at the National Institutes of Health, compared people who were on a plant-based/low-fat diet and those who ate an animal-based/low-carb diet and found that those on the plant-based diet consumed fewer calories daily, however showed high blood glucose and insulin levels when compared to the other diet. The studies goal was to compare what effects the two diets had on hormone levels, calorie intake, body weight and more.

Foods high in fat have been considered to result in intake of excess calories due to their high calories with each bite. High-carbohydrate foods on the other hand can lead to big swings in insulin and blood glucose which can increase hunger and result in overeating. The current study looked at determining whether high-fat diets or high-carb diets result in intake of greater calories.

For the study, the team housed a total of 20 adults who did not have diabetes for a 4 week continuous period. The participants included 9 women and 11 men and were given either a low-carb/animal-based diet or a low-fat/plant-based diet for a two-week period. After the initial two-week period, the participants were given the alternate diet. Both diets contained minimally processed foods and contained equal amounts of vegetables that were non-starchy. All participants had three meals each day and also snacks, and they could eat as much as they wanted.

The results have shown that the participants who were on the diet low in fat consumed 550 to 700 less calories daily than when they consumed the low-carb diet. And although there were big differences in intake of calories, they reported there were no differences in how they enjoyed their meals, in fullness between the two different diets and no problems with hunger.

Participants were able to lose weight on both diets, however, the diet that was low-fat resulted in a significant loss of their body fat. Although consuming food that has plenty of high glycemic carbohydrates that can result in significant swings in insulin and blood glucose, people who ate the low-fat/plant-based diet showed a pronounced reduction in intake of calories and also loss of body fat. This challenges the thought that diets that are high-carb can cause overeating. On the flip-side, the low-carb/animal-based diet did not cause weight gain although it was high in fat.

The findings have suggested that factors that can lead to weight gain and overeating are much more complex than a person’s consumption of fat or carbs. The team’s lab has shown that last year diets that were high in highly processed foods led to weight gain and overeating when compared to a diet that contained minimally processed foods when matched for at and carbs.

The low-fat/plant-based diet contained 75.2% carbs and 10.3% fat. The low-carb/animal-based diet was 75.8% fat and 10% carbs. Each diet contained close to 14% protein and were identical for total calories, although the diet low in carbs contained twice as many calories for each gram of food than the diet that was low-fat.

The low-fat diet consisted of food items like chickpeas, oranges, baked sweet potato and broccoli. The diet low in carbs consisted of food items like cauliflower rice and beef stir-fry. Participants were allowed to eat as much as they wanted and whatever was available with each diet.

The team notes that their findings do suggest there are benefits to both of the diets at least for the short-term. The plant-based/low-fat diet helped curb the appetite, the low-carb/animal-based diet showed more steady and lower glucose and insulin levels. However, they can’t really say whether the differences can be sustained long-term.

The study had not been designed to recommend diets for weight loss and participant’s results could have been different if they were wanting to lose weight. Additionally, all the meals were prepared and given to the participants in their inpatient setting. This could make results somewhat difficult to repeat in another setting where things such as food availability, food costs, and meal preparation restraints might make adherence to the diets more challenging. The clinical environment was tightly controlled however, which ensured the accuracy of the data and ensured the objective measurement of the participant’s food intake.

To view the original scientific study click below

Effect of a plant-based, low-fat diet versus an animal-based, ketogenic diet on ad libitum energy intake.

Intermittent Fasting and Ketogenic Diet for Joint Pain Relief

You start and end your day with pain. When the weather is humid, it’s worse. You feel older than you are. You wonder if it will ever end. That’s the predicament of joint pain sufferers. This predicament was definitely not the way you planned your life to be. Is there a remedy?

Defining the Joint Pain Dilemma

What It Feels Like
You know the symptoms because you feel them every day. The signs could be slightly different for each person: a mild ache, a severe burning, or a sharp sensation. For some people,it could include joint swelling and stiffness or red and warm skin. Sometimes it could produce weight loss, fatigue, or even fever.(1) Sometimes there is the challenge of lack of coordination and increasing disability.

What are the Causes?
Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, gout, and other forms of arthritis are the most common causes. There are also joint pains from strains or sprains or other injuries. In America, we eat too often,and we overeat. These bad habits cause inflammation, which causes disease.

Are There Different Kinds of Joint Pains?
Most joint pains, except from injuries, are related to some form of arthritis. And there are more than 100 forms of arthritis. Prominent among these 100 forms are Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Juvenile Arthritis, Spondyloarthropathies, Lupus erythematosus, Gout, Infectious and reactive arthritis, and Psoriatic Arthritis.(2)

The Enormity of the Problem
According to a study referenced by Web MD, a survey found that one-third of adults reported having joint pain in the last 30 days. The Arthritis Foundation has estimated that in America, about 50 million adults and 300,000 children have arthritis.(3)

Treating Joint Pain With Conventional Medicine

Medications and Physical Therapy
For both moderate and severe pain relief,non-steroidal medicines are recommended. Advil, Motrin, aspirin, Aleve, and Celebrex are common examples. Sometimes Tylenol works. If these do not produce the proper results, then a more potent form of opioid is prescribed.

Sometimes topical medications like Capsaicin and Ben Gay are used with a beneficial effect.

If the oral and topical medications do not help,you may choose one of several options of steroid injections. These may be effective for 3-4 months.

Sometimes the provider may recommend physical therapy and various home remedies. If a person is overweight, then exercise and losing weight will help.(4)

Preserve Joints
The primary goal of preserving joints, whether it is the shoulder, hip, knee, or elsewhere is to accomplish it without surgery, if possible. The top five non-surgical methods are listed below:

Injections of hyaluronic acid
Injections of platelet-rich plasma
Cellular stem-cell injections
Cartilage Transplant
Partial joint replacement

If the other remedies are ineffective, then a complete joint replacement is recommended.(5)

Are There Successful Proven Alternatives for Treating Joint Pain?

Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting usually means that you eat all your meals during a period of 8 hours and then fast for 16 hours. The usual routine is to fast just two times a week, however some people do this every day as long as the fasting duration is not more than 16 hours. The time spent fasting depends on your choice. Common variations include fasting for ten, sixteen, twenty, and twenty-three hours. You eat your meal(s) in the remaining hours of that day. During the time of fasting you will need to drink an adequate amount of water.

Intermittent fasting helps with weight loss –which lessens the pressure on your joints. It also reduces inflammation in your body. Through weight loss and inflammation reduction, you can significantly reduce joint pain and preserve your joints.

Intermittent fasting is also known to relieve Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms by boosting antioxidants’ blood levels and cutting inflammation.(6)

Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet is high in fat and low in carbs, typically about 70% fat, 25% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. It substitutes body fat and diet fat (what you eat on the ketogenic diet) for carbohydrates to bring you to a natural metabolic state called ketosis.(7) At this point, fat is rapidly burned, causing weight loss. When you lose weight, you reduce the strain, pressure and weight on your joints.

The ketogenic diet is also an anti-inflammatory diet. It reduces ROS -reactive oxygen species which, in turn, reduces inflammation. It also boosts Adenosine –a human body produced chemical that reduces pain and inflammation. This anti-inflammatory benefit reduces joint pain significantly.

According to Healthline, here are some more benefits of the low carb ketogenic diet:
Reduces your appetite
Visible weight loss results occur in the first couple of weeks
A significant portion of fat loss from your abdominal cavity
Triglycerides drop significantly,lowering your heart disease risk
Increases your HDL (good) cholesterol level
Reduces Blood Sugar and insulin levels?May lower blood pressure
Useful in combatting metabolic syndrome –thus lowering heart disease and diabetes risk
Lowers your bad LDL cholesterol level
Healthline concludes their report with this comment: “Few things are as well established in nutrition science as the immense health benefits of low-carb and ketogenic diets.”(9)

What Happens When You Combine Intermittent Fasting and Ketogenic Diet?
(Caution: These methods may not work for everyone. If you have a pre-existing health problem or are pregnant, you should discuss this with your doctor).

The benefits of these health tools or methods are listed earlier in this article.

But when you combine them? WOW!

Each one alone is a powerful tool, but you are headed for some spectacular results when you combine them. You will reach ketosis faster. Fat loss will be more rapid. You may preserve muscle mass,and your energy level will be up. You may reduce hunger and promote a full feeling.(10)

What Are You Waiting For? Get Started Today!

Sources:
1. “Joint Pain Causes and Treatment Options,” Last updated June 19, 2020 https://www.verywellhealth.com/severe-joint-and-muscle-pain-arthritis-22499812
2. “What Type of Arthritis Do You Have,” Last updated December 10, 2018 https://www.healthline.com/health/arthritis-types
3. “Joint Pain,” Reviewed June 17, 2019 (https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/joint-pain#1)
4. Ibid
5. “Joint Preservation vs. Replacement: What’s Your Best Option,” August 22, 2017 https://health.clevelandclinic.org/joint-preservation-vs-replacement-whats-your-best-option/
6. “Popular Diets and Your RA,” Reviewed October 8, 2020 https://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/ra-popular-diets
7. “What Is Ketosis, and Is It Healthy?,” Reviewed October 13, 2020 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-ketosis
8. “Can Keto Help With Rheumatoid Arthritis?,” Reviewed September 12, 2019https://perfectketo.com/rheumatoid-arthritis-diet/
9. “10 Health Benefits of Low-Carb and Ketogenic Diets,” Written and reviewed November 20, 2018 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-benefits-of-low-carb-ketogenic-diets#TOC_TITLE_HDR_11
10. “Intermittent Fasting and Keto: Should You Combine the Two?,” Written November 5, 2018 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/intermittent-fasting-and-keto#benefits

And Many Additional Sources

How Physical Exercise Affects Your Brain

Have you ever wondered how exercise impacts your brain?

I have, and I’m here to tell you that there are more benefits to working out than just getting leaner. In fact, exercise can help build better brains!

Many studies have been conducted on the relationship between physical exercise and brain health. Healthy, rigorous exercise has been shown to help maintain, and even improve brain structure and functionality. Exercise impacts our health through multiple levels of mechanism, and different factors such as age, gender, and health situation may affect the effects of exercise in our bodies. Let’s dive in and take a look at how exercise impacts our brains at different periods of life!

We know that physical activity helps improve our cardiorespiratory fitness and cardiovascular health, bring down our fat stores, and reduce inflammation in our tissues and organs. Exercise has also been shown to have beneficial effects on cognitive functions, as it improves blood circulation and thus brings down your risk of high blood pressure, which may interfere with cranial functions.(1) Exercise may also work as an antidepressant for some; but acute and heavy periods of exercise may do more harm than good.
Endurance and resistance exercises, such as running and weight lifting, may increase circulating growth factors and neurotrophins, both of which aid brain development and maintenance. These same factors can affect neuroplasticity in both children and adults.(1) Neuroplasticity refers to the ability of our brains to learn new things and adapt to new situations.(4)

The strongest and clearest evidence for the correlation between better brain health and exercise comes from studies on animals, young children, and older adults. One study done with school-aged children discovered that evidence points toward positive cognitive results in children when they take part in sports or other physical activities. Not only did time spent doing exercise not result in lowered academic performances, but some of the most active children have actually out-preferred other, less-active children (the control group).(2) After such a study, it was found that the white matter microstructure in children who had participated in rigorous exercise were increased, while white matter in the brain of the children in the control group did not show any growth. Findings following this study suggested that physical activity may lead to stronger, and more agile cognitive functions due to a healthier brain.(2)

In adolescents, studies have shown that the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) of young adults was significantly higher in active adolescents compared to sedentary young people. BDNF is an essential neurotrophin that is directly related to cognition and neuroplasticity, and works to strengthen neural connectivity. BDNF also helps regulate metabolic functions, and assists in cardiovascular processes.(5) More studies and research must be done to understand exactly what relationships BDNF has with the brain and physical movement; but we do know that it is part of how our bodies keep a healthy brain, and that it increases with physical activity. Since young people’s minds are especially plastic, physical exercise can go a long way to improving adolescents’ academic performance, brain health, and overall life.

The human brain tends to lose tissue from the third decade of life and onward.(3) With this tissue loss, cognitive performance also declines. Previous scientific reviews have shown that aerobic exercise can help reduce tissue loss in the brain in adults and older people. Evidence suggests that physical activity, especially aerobic exercises such as running and jumping, can help protect cognitive function and memory.(3) This can be particularly helpful for the elderly and Alzheimer’s patients. Strength training may provide positive benefits as well, and can reduce risks of Alzheimer’s diseases and other brain-related issues.

There has also been studies that show how physical activity can impact neuroplasticity. A particular study(4) suggests that physical activity can undo some of the neurodegenerative effects of Parkinson’s disease through the changes in the brain made possible by exercise-induced neuroplasticity. Basically, regular aerobic exercise increases the level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which helps in the development and upkeep of the brain. Though more research is needed, there are promising studies that point toward the ability of physical exercise to improve and, in some situations, to heal the brain.

In summary, exercise can help keep your brain healthy, and even improve your ability to learn new things, remember them, and use what you know. It doesn’t matter whether you are a grandparent, a businessman, or a young teenager! Physical exercise can help you stay fit and strong, have a healthy brain, and ultimately, help you live a better, healthier, and more productive life.

Here are some action points for you to take away.

Make sure to do at least 15 minutes of exercise every day. If possible, focus on movements that would raise your heart beat and make you sweat. Doing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) sessions of 20 minutes each, three times a week, may be a great way to get some aerobic exercises into your normal routine.

Keep hydrated, and relax as much as possible. Stress, dehydration, and worry tends to negatively affect your thinking processes, so focus on doing something healthy and productive, and think happy, thankful thoughts!

Last but not least, spread the word! Tell your friend about how exercise can help our brains become more agile and strong, and invite them to exercise with you.

Here’s to building a wonderful, healthy brain!

References
(1) Di Liegro, C. M., Schiera, G., Proia, P., & Di Liegro, I. (2019). “Physical Activity and Brain Health.” Genes, 10(9), 720. dio: 10.3390/genes10090720
(2) Chaddock-Heyman, L., Erickson, K.I., Kienzler, C., Drollette, E.S., Raine, L.B., Kao, S-C., Bensken, J., Weisshappel, R., Castelli, D.M., Hillman, C.H. and Kramer, A.F. (2018). “Physical Activity Increases White Matter Microstructure in Children.” Frontiers in Neuroscience, 12, 950. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00950
(3) Ebrahimi, K., Jourkesh, M., Sadigh-Eteghad, S., Stannard, S. R., Earnest, C. P., Ramsbottom, R., Antonio, J., & Navin, K. H. (2020). “Effects of Physical Activity on Brain Energy Biomarkers in Alzheimer’s Diseases.” Diseases, 8(2), 18. doi: 10.3390/diseases8020018
(4) Johansson, H., Hagströmer, M., Grooten, W.J.A., & Franzén, E. (2020). “Exercise-Induced Neuroplasticity in Parkinson’s Disease: A Metasynthesis of the Literature”, Neural Plasticity, 2020. doi: 10.1155/2020/8961493
(5) Azevedo, K. P. M. de, de Oliveira, V. H., Medeiros, G. C. B. S. de, Mata, Á. N. de S., García, D. Á., Martínez, D. G., Leitão, J. C., Knackfuss, M. I., & Piuvezam, G. (2020). “The Effects of Exercise on BDNF Levels in Adolescents: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(17), 6056. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17176056

New Shipping Method for Life Code Orders

For over 10 years Life Code used USPS Priority Mail for most of our shipping. It worked great with detailed tracking and most orders were delivered within 3 business days in the US. During the last few months USPS has become very slow with limited tracking. Some people who used to receive their order within 3 days had to wait 2-3 weeks. In addition the limited tracking made it difficult to estimate when it would be delivered.

As a result we have switched to FedEx which is much faster, more reliable and includes detailed tracking. For people that use a PO box for their shipping address FedEx has SmartPost where they ship to a regional location and then transfer it to the Post Office for final delivery. It is not as fast, but still better than USPS Priority Mail. The cost for FedEx or SmartPost is the same $6.95 as we previously charged for USPS Priority Mail.

Click below to Visit the Life Code store

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Consuming Unhealthy Foods can Diminish Positive Effects of Healthy Diet

It is well known that consuming a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean diet produces a positive impact on health. However, little is currently known about the possible effects of also consuming unhealthy foods along with an otherwise healthy diet. Researchers at the Rush University Medical Center have shown there are diminished benefits of consuming a healthy diet with those who also consume unhealthy foods fairly often.

When a healthy diet that includes fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fish, similar to the Mediterranean diet, is combined with sweets, fried foods, red meat from grain fed animals, and refined grains, benefits will diminish.

The team that conducted the observational study utilized 5,001 older adults who lived in Chicago and were also part of the Chicago Health and Aging Project (a cognitive health evaluation in adults over the age of 65 which was conducted from 1993 to 2012). The study participants were asked to complete a cognitive assessment questionnaire every three years. The questionnaire tested basic information for memory and processing skills. The participants were also asked to fill out a questionnaire in regards to the frequency with which they ate 144 food items.

The team then analyzed how close each of the participants followed a Mediterranean diet which included the daily consumption of vegetables, fruit, olive oil, legumes, potatoes, fish and unrefined cereals and also a moderate consumption of wine. The team additionally assessed how much the participants followed a Western type diet which included refined grains, fried foods, red and processed meats, sweets, pizza, and whole fat dairy products. Scores of zero to five were assigned for each food item in order to compile a total Mediterranean diet score for every participants along a range of zero to 55.

The team examined the association between the Mediterranean diet scores and changes that occurred in participants global cognitive function, perceptual speed, and episodic memory. Participants who showed slower cognitive decline through the years of follow-up were ones who had adhered closest to the Mediterranean diet and also limited foods that are typical with a Western diet. The participants who consumed more of the Western diet showed no beneficial effect of healthy food items in slowing down cognitive decline.

The team noted that there wasn’t any significant interaction between sex, age, education, or race and the association to cognitive decline in either low or high levels of the Western diet foods. Also included were models for body mass index, smoking status, and a variety of potential variables such as cardiovascular diseases, and findings remained the same.

Western diets can adversely affect cognitive health. Participants who showed a high Mediterranean diet score when compared to participants who had the lowest score, were equal to being 5.8 years younger in cognitive age.

The more often people can include berries, green leafy vegetables and other vegetables, fish and olive oil into their diets, the better it will be for aging bodies and brains. A variety of studies have shown that fried foods, red and processed meats, and lower whole grain consumption are linked to faster cognitive decline in aging adults and higher inflammation. In order to benefit from healthy diets such as the Mediterranean diet, people need to limit their consumption of other unhealthy and processed foods.

To view the original scientific study click below

Unhealthy foods may attenuate the beneficial relation of a Mediterranean diet to cognitive decline.

Three Pillars of Mental Health

A University of Otago, New Zealand, study has found that three pillars of health which are exercising, quality of sleep and eating raw vegetables and fruit, promotes better health mentally and overall well-being feeling in younger adults. And the research found that the strongest predictor was better quality of sleep than sleep quantity.

The study was a survey of more than 1,100 young adults that were from the United States and New Zealand about their physical activity, diet, sleep and mental health. The research found that the quality of sleep rather than the quantity of sleep was the largest predictor of well-being and mental health.

This was surprising to the team because the recommendations of sleep usually pertain to quantity instead of quality. And while the team found that both not enough sleep (8 hours or less) and sleeping too much (12 hours or more) were linked to symptoms of higher depression and less well-being, the quality of sleep significantly outranked quantity in predicting well-being and mental health.

The findings suggest that sleep quality should be promoted along with sleep quantity of tools for helping young adults improve their mental health and well-being. Young adults that slept over nine hours every night were the least affected with depressive symptoms and feelings of well-being were increased for those who slept at least 8 hours each night.

In addition to quality of sleep, exercising and consuming raw vegetables and fruits (in that order), were three modifiable behaviors which correlated to increased mental health and well-being in young people. A well-being feeling was the highest for young adults who consumed 4.8 servings of raw vegetables and fruit per day. Those who consumed less than two servings per day and more than 8 servings per day, reported lesser feelings of well-being.

All three pillars, sleep, physical activity and a good diet, could contribute to promoting optimal well-being among young adults. This is a population where the prevalence of mental disorders is high and well-being is unfortunately suboptimal.

The team did not manipulate sleep, activity or diet in the testing of their changes on mental health and well-being. Other research has already done that and has found good results. The current research suggests that a allover health intervention which prioritizes quality sleep, exercise and a diet including raw fruits and vegetables together, could be the next logical step in this research. The team’s study showed that they are all important for predicting which young adults are flourishing versus suffering.

To view the original scientific study click below

The Big Three Health Behaviors and Mental Health and Well-Being Among Young Adults: A Cross-Sectional Investigation of Sleep, Exercise, and Diet.

Plastics Threaten Human Health

Plastics can have and impart to a human a variety of dangerous chemicals including endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that pose a threat to human health. A new report has reported the dangerous health effects of contamination that is widespread from the EDCs in plastics.

The report from the Endocrine Society and the Int’l Pollutants Elimination Network has shown that EDCs such as chemicals that will disturb the body’s hormonal systems and may lead to diabetes, cancer, reproduction problems and also neurological problems of fetuses and also children. This report entails a preponderance of evidence that supports links between chemical toxic additives in plastics and certain negative impacts of health to the endocrine system.

Estimates that are conservative at this time point to more than 1,000 chemicals that are manufactured are being used today which are EDCs. Known EDCs that come from plastics and that are dangerous to a humans health such as bisphenol A and other chemicals, phthalates, flame retardants, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, UV stabilizers, dioxins, and metals that are toxic such as cadmium and lead.

Plastics which contain EDCs are used extensively in construction, packaging and production of food, flooring, children’s toys, cookware, furniture, health care, home electronics, cosmetics, automobiles and textiles.

Some findings in the report are:
144 chemicals or groups that can be detrimental to health which are actively put in plastics use enablers that vary from flame retardants, UV-stabilizers, antimicrobial activity to colorants, plasticizers and solvents.

The exposure of EDC is a problem all over the world. Testing of samples from humans show consistency of problems in nearly almost all people who may have EDCs in their body

Bioplastics/biodegradable plastics which are promoted as more ecological than plastics, contain similar chemical additives as do conventional plastics and also have endocrine disrupting effects.

Microplastics have chemical additions which have ability to come from the microplastic and everyone is exposed. They also can accumulate and bind chemicals that are toxic from the environment such as sediment and seawater, which function as carriers for compounds that are toxic.

Exposure can happen during the entire life span of plastic products – from the manufacturing process to consumer contact, water management and disposal, and recycling.

A large amount of plastics that are used every day inside our homes/work expose us to harmful contaniments of EDC’s. Actions are needed globally to keep human health protected and the threat to the environment.

The need for effective public policy to protect human health from EDCs in plastics is even more urgent given the current amounts of plastic production which are projected to increase roughly by 30-36% within the next 6 years. This projection will greatly promote EDC exposure and increase worldwide rates of endocrine diseases. EDCs in plastics are a health issue internationally that is acutely felt in the south worldwide where plastic waste that is toxic ships from more wealthy countries comprise communities. Furthermore, endocrine disrupting chemical exposure is not only a global problem, but it poses a serious threat to future generations. Animal research as shown that DNA modifications from EDCs can have repercussions across generations.

To view the original scientific study click below

Plastics, EDCs & Health: Authoritative Guide.