Health-E-News. November 2009
empowering you to optimal health
Does Exercise Reduce Your Cancer Risk?
Finnish researchers recently concluded that, if you wish to ward off lung or gastrointestinal cancer, you might want to spend your leisure time jogging instead of picking berries, mushroom gathering or fishing. In the study, published in late July on the Web site of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, scientists studied the health of a group of 2,560 middle-aged Finns over the course of about 17 years. The subjects, all men living in eastern Finland, kept diaries of their daily activities for a year and then went about them.
It seems fair and just that conscientiously working out should confer disease-fighting benefits, especially against cancer, and an accreting body of research suggests that under certain conditions and against certain forms of cancer, fitness may be remarkably protective. A major review article published in February on the Web site of the British Journal of Cancer synthesized the results of more than two decades’ worth of studies and concluded that the most active people are 24 percent less likely to develop colon cancer than sedentary people are, regardless of their diets, smoking habits or body weight. Another study, this one presented in May at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine reported that women over age 30 who defined themselves as "highly competitive" by disposition and who exercised more than the average for the group had much less risk of developing breast cancer than women who worked out for less than 60 minutes per week.
"At least moderately intense physical activity is more beneficial than low intensity physical activity in the prevention of cancer," the authors conclude. The takeaway, in other words, is that jogging trumps berry picking."
Self-Care Strategies for Your Busy Lifestyle
According to Jack LaLanne, who still works out for two hours a day and eats at least 10 fresh, raw vegetables daily, "Exercise is king, nutrition is queen, and if you put them together you build a kingdom!" Here are a few ways you can build your own "kingdom" even in the midst of your hectic, stressful life.
Challenge Your Body: Higher levels of physical fitness reduce the risk of heart disease and early death. Try to achieve a burn rate of greater than 10 calories per minute. If you go to the gym two to three times a week and spend 30-60 minutes per session, you can focus on 10-minute high-intensity sessions on your off days.
Feed Your Body: Nine servings of vegetables are recommended per day. (If you can do 10, like Jack does, go for it!) Boost the health benefits by eating different colors of produce. This is called the "technicolor" plan. Additional healthy eating suggestions include:
- Eat more cold-water fish like salmon for the benefits of omega-3s. These lower the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, improve mood and concentration, and are good for the brain.
- Drink red wine or eat grapes. The resveratrol in dark grapes is being studied for its effect on extending life, which it seems to do for almost every species studied. If you wish to drink wine, all that is needed is 1, maybe 2 glasses.
- Eliminate sugar. Sugar's effect on hormones, mood, immunity, weight, and possibly even cancer cells is enormous – and it's all negative. To the extent that you can remove sugar from your diet, you will be adding years to your life and life to your years.
Rest Your Body: Insufficient sleep depresses the immune system, making you susceptible to colds, upper-respiratory infections, low energy, weight gain, a tired appearance, and other complaints like feeling irritable. Proper sleep hygiene involves getting uninterrupted sleep, in the dark, without the television on, in a relaxing environment.
Tips to recover from exercise - play to win
Whether you're an All-Pro running back or a weekend warrior, the goal is the same: You undoubtedly want to lower your chances of incurring an injury while participating in your favorite sport. Fortunately, there are some general rules for injury prevention that apply to all sports, which is important because sports scientists suggest injury rates could be reduced by 25 percent if athletes took appropriate preventative action.
The #1 Rule: Don't Overdo It: Studies have shown that your best direct injury predictor may be the amount of training you completed last month. Fatigued muscles do a poor job of protecting their associated connective tissues, increasing the risk of damage to bone, cartilage, tendons and ligaments.
The point isn't to avoid exercise, but rather to appreciate that overdoing it can lead to injury, and that when your muscles are fatigued, they need rest. It's about knowing what your body can handle at any particular point in time.
If You Can Predict an Injury, You May Avoid an Injury: If you have been injured before, you are much more likely to get hurt again than an athlete who has been injury free. After recovery, if you re-establish your desired training load without modification to your biomechanics, your knees are likely to be injured again.
The second predictor of injury is probably the number of consecutive days of training you carry out each week. Scientific studies strongly suggest that reducing the number of consecutive days of training can lower the risk of injury. Recovery time reduces injury rates by giving muscles and connective tissues an opportunity to restore and repair themselves between workouts.
Other Injury Prevention Tips:
- Match increases in training with increases in resting. (Rest is how the body regenerates.)
- Precede any increase in training load with an increase in strengthening.
- Treat even seemingly minor injuries very carefully to prevent them from becoming a big problem.
- If you experience pain when training, stop your training session immediately.
- Never train hard if you are stiff from the previous effort.
- Pay attention to hydration and nutrition (water before exercise, electrolyte drink during exercise and water after exercise).
- Use appropriate training surfaces.
- Introduce new activities gradually and make sure you are clear on how to perform them safely.
- Allow lots of time for warming up before your workout/activity and cooling off after your workout/activity.
- Monitor daily for signs of fatigue; if in doubt, ease off your workouts for a day or two.
- Receive regular Chiropractic adjustments to ensure your joints are moving freely, without injury.
Every year just before the weather turns colder, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention begins an advertising campaign geared toward motivating the masses to get the flu vaccine. They talk about the number of deaths each year that are attributable to the flu and the number of missed work days that cost employers hundreds of thousands of dollars. This year, that campaign will likely be even more urgent due to outbreaks of the "swine flu" virus, which have spread from one country to the next in the past six months or so.
Should you get yourself and your children vaccinated against the flu? Just like all vaccines and medications, there are potential side effects associated with the flu shot. Minor side effects can include but are not limited to soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site, low-grade fever and other aches and pains. More severe, life-threatening complications have proven to be rare, but the danger still exists that someone can suffer severe effects from this alleged beneficial vaccine. The most common dangerous side effect is an allergic reaction. Since the vaccine is grown in eggs, it is more dangerous for those who have had an allergic reaction to other vaccines in the past. These reactions can include breathing problems, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, and a fast heartbeat or dizziness.
An even more serious side effect is Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). This is a disease in which the body damages its own nerve cells, resulting in muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis. While most people eventually recover, some have permanent nerve damage and 5 percent to 6 percent of those who develop GBS will die. The CDC would remind you that only six of every 1 million people injected with the flu shot will develop GBS. That's small comfort if you're one of the six, of course.
After careful consideration of the risks associated with the vaccine, it's wise to weigh those risks against those of the flu. The CDC talks about the benefits of being vaccinated, but are those benefits backed up with the facts? The flu vaccine is always changing because the flu strains change from one year to the next. (The swine flu is once such variation.) The manufacturers of the vaccine take a shot in the dark and hope they'll hit the right strain each year, but the fact is the flu shot is only 70 percent to 90 percent effective.
The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (and probably your Mom when you were growing up) advocate simple health habits to prevent the spread of illnesses like the flu. Taking these steps can help people avoid the flu without having to get a flu shot in the first place:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough/sneeze; throw the used tissue away.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water as soon as possible after coughing or sneezing.
- Keep yourself and any babies and children in your care away from people who are coughing or sneezing.
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth if you in close contact with people who are sick or have been sick.
Consider these suggestions, along with the above information regarding risks vs. benefits, before getting a flu shot this year.
Who's NOT getting the vaccine:
- Dr Oz's children are NOT getting the vaccine. Link
- President's daughters are NOT getting the vaccine. Link
13 Ways to Super-Charge Your Immune System
- Optimize your vitamin D level - research shows that adults need to take as much as 5,000 IU and children 1,000 IU.
- Get adequate sleep.
- Get adequate exercise. This keeps you robust.
- Take actions to lower your stress levels.
- Wash your hands frequently but not excessively
- Avoid sugar and processed foods as they decrease your immune function dramatically.
- Eat phytonutrient rich meals (lots of colorful salads and dark greens).
- Eat lots of garlic, it works as a broad spectrum antibiotic.
- Take a probiotic daily (look for one with 10-20 billion organisms). A strong immune system relies heavily on having a strong foundation in the gut.
- Keep a supply of antiviral herbal supplements on hand.
- Take 1-2 grams of fish oils daily - it's beneficial for immune function.
- Take 2+ grams of vitamin C daily, yes it does help.
- Get adjusted on a regular basis - Chiropractic adjustments boost your immune system 60%-200%!
Osteoarthritis Inflammation Affects Your Nerves
Pain is more than a symptom of osteoarthritis, it is an inherent and damaging part of the disease itself, according to a study published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism. More specifically, the study revealed that pain signals originating in arthritic joints, and the biochemical processing of those signals as they reach the spinal cord, worsen and expand arthritis. In addition, researchers found that "crosstalk" nerve pathways carrying pain signals transfer inflammation from arthritic joints to the spine and back again, causing disease at both ends.
Specifically, the research team genetically engineered a mouse where they could turn up on command the production of IL-1β in the jaw joint, a common site of arthritis. Experiments showed for the first time that turning up IL-1β in a peripheral joint caused higher levels of IL-1β to be produced in the dorsal horns of the spinal cord as well.
Using a second, even more elaborately engineered mouse model, the team also demonstrated for the first time that creating higher levels of IL-1β in cells called astrocytes in the spinal cord caused more osteoarthritic symptoms in joints.
The study’s authors explain that astrocytes, non-nerve cells (glia) in the central nervous system that provide support for the spinal cord and brain, also serve as the immune cells of CNS organs. Among other things, they release cytokines like IL-1β to fight disease when triggered. The same cytokines released from CNS glia may also be released from neurons in joints, possibly explaining how crosstalk carries pain, inflammation and hyper-sensitivity back and forth.
"Until relatively recently, osteoarthritis was believed to be due solely to wear and tear, and inevitable part of aging," explains study researcher, Stephanos Kyrkanides, DDS, PhD. "Recent studies have revealed, however, that specific biochemical changes contribute to the disease." Our study provides the first solid proof that some of those changes are related to pain processing, and suggests the mechanisms behind the effect."
Arthritis & Rheumatism - October 2009;60:3100-3109.