Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘heart health’

Drink up, fatsos!

Posted by Richard on November 6, 2006

So, let’s say you’re one of the 65% of Americans who are obese. And let’s say you’re worried about the health consequences of those extra pounds — including double the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and arthritis, and triple the risk of diabetes. So, what are you going to do about it?

Well, you could walk more, join a gym, and start working out. You could forego that plate of ribs and order a nice salad with low-fat dressing.

Or you could just order a nice bottle of Shiraz to go with those ribs:

Good news for gluttons and anyone else who gets old: Scientists are looking for the antidote for age and disease in a glass of red wine.

Harvard Medical School and National Institute of Aging researchers have found that a natural susbtance found in red wine, known as resveratrol, countered the ravenous ways of mice fed a high-calorie diet and even prolonged their lives.

“Resveratrol can excuse most of the negative effects of being obese in the mice,” said Harvard Medical School professor David Sinclair, one of the study’s authors.

The study compared three groups of mice. The first ate a standard (30% fat) diet, the second ate a high-fat (60%) diet, and the third ate the high-fat diet supplemented with resveratrol.

The third group got just as fat as the second, but suffered none of the ill effects. Their hearts, livers, and other organs remained normal (in fact, somewhat healthier than the standard-diet group’s). Their blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity mirrored the lean group’s. And they lived longer:

… After 114 weeks, 58 percent of the normally fed mice and the resveratrol group were still alive, compared with only 42 percent of the untreated, high-calorie-intake mice. Sinclair reports that resveratrol reduced the risk of death from a high-calorie diet by 31 percent, leading to an increase in life span of 15 percent thus far. More accurate numbers will be available when all the mice pass away. "We are around five months from having final numbers," Sinclair notes, "but there is no question that we are seeing increased longevity." The researchers also note that the resveratrol-treated mice not only live longer than their untreated counterparts, but have more active lives, too–their motor skills have actually improved as they have aged.

Of course, there are caveats. To get as much resveratrol as the mice, you’d have to drink a hundred or more glasses of wine (depending on which news report you believe) — clearly, supplement capsules would be a more practical choice. And everybody from the science reporters to the researchers is mouthing the usual warnings that you always hear regarding nutritional supplements:

While resveratrol supplements are available at many health food stores, experts caution that no one knows whether the compound will work the same way for humans and, perhaps more important, whether high doses of resveratrol are harmful in the long run.

It’s worth noting, though, that researcher David Sinclair founded a company to develop resveratrol-related drugs (in which he and Harvard Medical School have a financial interest).

And Sinclair has been taking resveratrol supplements himself for three years already.
 

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World Heart Day

Posted by Richard on September 25, 2006

Today was World Heart Day, and I missed all the festivities. It’s intended to promote awareness of heart disease and its prevention. The World Heart Federation sponsors the annual world-wide event:

World Heart Day is run by the World Heart Federation’s member organizations in more than 100 countries. Activities on the day include health checks, walks, runs, jump rope, fitness sessions, public talks, stage shows, scientific forums, exhibitions, concerts and sports tournaments. Last year in Singapore for example, a World Heart Day heart fair attracted over 60,000 participants who took part in health screenings, aerobics classes, health quizzes, exhibits, school performances, nutritional counselling and food sampling. Similar events will be taking place this year asking participants: "How Young is Your Heart?"

The "How Young Is Your Heart?" theme encouraged people to think about how their lifestyle choices affect the effective "age" of their heart and their heart health. According to the World Health Federation, the three major risk factors — physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, and tobacco use — account for 80% of heart disease and stroke.

Personally, I’m doing OK on two out of three. I’m still an ex-smoker (closing in on two years), and I’ve been walking pretty regularly. Diet — well, that could be better. But I take about 3 dozen nutritional supplements a day to counteract some of the harm from my diet — and from 40 years of smoking.

In honor of World Heart Day, today I ran a 10k, ate an arugula salad with fat-free dressing for dinner, and then worked out on the rowing machine.

Just kidding!

Actually, I cleaned out the garage, ate a pizza, and hit the recliner to watch the Broncos spank the Patriots. Again! We’ve got your number, Brady!
 

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