There's a new way to lower your risk of diabetes: If you're a night owl, tell the boss you'll be in late. That's just one of the benefits of living in sync with your natural internal clock. Some of us are early birds, some are night owls, and it's risky to change.
It's obvious that all of us humans don't have our body clocks in sync because of some internal force. In my own family, my brother was literally up with the birds. I suspect he's the one who told the rooster to get a move on it. As an adult, he liked to head into work at 4 a.m. to beat the traffic. I pull the blanket over my head and hold out as long as possible. We both had the same childhood schedules, the same breakfast, school, and bedtime routines. But we have remained different all our lives.
Society hasn't made it easy for us to accommodate our different clocks, however. Ever since Benjamin Franklin observed that early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise, night owls have borne a slightly unsavory reputation. School hours favor people like my brother. Ditto most workplaces. Nightclubs are for night owls. So are parties, concerts, and most baseball games.
Whichever style you are, you now have science to make your case that you should follow your own clock. A Harvard study almost says it all in the title: “Mismatch of Sleep and Work Timing and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes.” The only word missing word is “causes,” but the report hints as much.
Harvard found that late chronotypes, or night owls, had higher rates of diabetes after several years of shift work that ran counter their natural schedule. Early birds were slightly affected by a mismatch, but not as much.
The work world is catching on. In Germany, a Thyssenkrupp steel factory put its morning people on the day shift and gave its night owls the evening shift. As a result, everyone got extra sleep, about an hour's worth per day on average.
“They got 16 percent more sleep, almost a full night’s length over the course of the week. That is enormous,” Till Roenneberg, a chronobiologist at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, told the New York Times.
Dr. Roenneberg believes that inefficiencies caused by workers laboring out of sync with their own clocks may cost society about 1% of GDP.
As the New York Times put it, “if you rely on an alarm clock to wake you up, you're out of sync with your own body”.
And your body will fight back.
Isn't it just a little weird? Sixty-second commercials for ED
run on family television channels.
But we don't talk about constipation--a problem that is so common almost everyone suffers it occasionally.
Chronic constipation affects 15% to 20% of Americans—42 million people according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institute of Health.
That should give you a clue that those dry runs in the bathroom are not just uncomfortable and embarrassing. It's serious enough for the government to study.
Most of the time, constipation has innocent causes: too little exercise, the wrong food, not enough water, a medication that binds you up, pregnancy, and just plain bad habits like resisting the urge when it's not convenient to go.
It can be a sign something more serious is wrong. You should see your doctor if you have blood in your stools, excessive pain, unexplained weight loss or this is new and unusual for you. But for the rest of us, constipation is usually a problem we can solve ourselves.
Constipation really isn't funny. It's miserable. Fortunately, there's a lot you can do. Here is some of the best and most respected advice, with a little extra insight.
1. Hydrate—Why this matters: not what you probably think. As we get older, our bodies hold water. Also, our thirst signals become less reliable as we age. So drink plentifully whether you feel thirsty or not. You may not be as well hydrated as you think you are. You don't have to glug down a quart of pure water at a time to stay healthy. Multiple small additions of beverages that you like throughout the day are ideal. It will make all your systems function better. Proper hydration benefits your skin, blood pressure, heart rate and metabolism. And helps soften stools, too.
2. Move—exercise helps speed up your digestive system and supports the muscles involved in pushing food through your system. Your colon is a muscle. Although doctors often advise constipated patients to exercise more, there is surprisingly little actual research on the topic.
• Strain #1 prevents harmful pathogens from entering your bloodstream
• Strain #2 promotes lactose intolerance, a very common problem
• Strain #3 gets past the stomach to prevent loose stools—AND CONSTIPATION!
• Strain #4 promotes regularity and overall immune system strength
• Strain #5 encourages your gut to produce lactase again, to naturally aid in digesting dairy products (including things like whey found in cookies and protein bars)
• Strain #6 seeks out and destroys toxins and helps maintain the correct pH in your gut
But the star of the show—Strain #7—is Saccharomyces boulardii... It's a powerful agent in restoring a healthy balance of gut bacteria. And this is the missing ingredient you won't find in cheap, grocery store products.
In science, nothing is ever final. Brain training is still under investigation.
Several studies between 2010 and 2013 reported to our joy that doing crossword puzzles might delay mental aging and preserve memory and cognitive function. Maybe even hold back the onset of Alzheimer's disease.
That proved less than gospel. Next came “scientific brain training” exercises.
Companies like Luminosity attracted thousands of paying subscribers who did daily exercises. And then the doubters came. Luminosity ended up paying a $2 million fine for false advertising. Later, a large-scale study showed that games of the sort online training companies were touting didn't work.
Still, the feeling remains that “use it or lose it” must have some truth to it. We all had classmates who weren't mental giants in high school, didn't get any sharper as they aged, and seemed old before their time.
We also know people who stay interested and interesting all their lives. The proverbial grandmother who is sharp as a tack, the elderly professor who misses nothing...
Our instincts may have a basis. A new paper in the British Journal of Medicine explains why people who don't work their brains overly hard seem to go downhill faster while the curious and mentally active remain alert much longer.
Playing problem-solving games and learning new things help people stay mentally sharp longer. In effect, they are a sort of insurance policy on mental acuity. In the words of the study's lead researcher, Dr. Roger Staff:
"These results indicate that engagement in problem-solving does not protect an individual from decline, but imparts a higher starting point from which decline is observed and offsets the point at which impairment becomes significant."
No doubt, there will be more scientific research on this topic ahead. But for now, your instincts are right. Using your brain is good for your brain.
In fact, there are activities that have proved even better than solving crosswords or Sudoku puzzles.
Try learning another language. In a group of Alzheimer's patients, scientist Ellen Bialystok at the University of York found that those who were bilingual experienced the onset of Alzheimer's about four years later than patients who never learned a second language. Another study on 648 patients in India found that learning a second language delayed Alzheimer's by 4.5 years.
The patients in these studies had been bilingual since childhood. But Thomas Bak, who led the Indian study, thinks that learning a second language later in life may have the same benefits. Researchers at Lund University in Sweden found that learning a language when older actually led to brain improvements. They took MRI's that proved it.
And if crosswords, Sudoku, and a second language aren't your thing—try music.
Because the other activity that is especially good for brain health is learning a musical instrument. If you always saw yourself as a rock guitar star, or sedately strumming a heavenly harp, you have a good excuse to get started.
For a health company, the very idea of rethinking organic seems blasphemous.
If this were still 1977, I wouldn't consider backing off from a quest for as much organic food in my family's market basket as possible.
But extremely dangerous chemicals have been outlawed. Chlordane was banned years ago. Ditto DDT. Paraquat is still around, but even its use is highly regulated.
We also have the Environmental Working Group (EWG) watching our food supply. It constantly tests the levels of pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables.
The EWG is a great example of how time has moved on for organic produce and food safety.
EWG compiles a new “Dirty Dozen” list of produce every year. These are the foods most likely to be tainted with pesticides when they reach the market. You should always buy organic (or grow your own) if the food appears on EWG's Dirty Dozen list.
For the record, the current Dirty Dozen are spinach, strawberries, nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, and potatoes. Buy organic. Always.
On the other hand, and back to our original question, EWG also has a “clean” list each year. These are fruits and vegetables that rarely have pesticide residues. You can safely buy conventional (non-organic) produce from this list.
EWG's “Clean 15” includes avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melons, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower, and broccoli. Save your money and feel free to buy conventionally grown produce from this list if you wish.
But now there's another twist on our original question—should we reconsider organic?
This one is a real gut-wrencher. Unhappily, organic crops are not as climate-friendly.
Scientists researching the issue calculated that organic peas have a 50% greater impact on the climate than conventionally raised ones do. For some crops such as winter wheat, the organic version has as much as a 70% greater impact.
The reason for this is land use. Fields of crops raised organically have lower yields. And that means that more deforestation must take place to create larger growing areas.
The bottom line is this—yes, it is time to rethink organic. You can argue that buying some produce, like conventional broccoli, from the Clean 15 list is environmentally responsible. So is sustainable-raised or harvested seafood, and swapping out beef for chicken and pork, which have a lower carbon footprint.
At least it's good to know that Maine lobster and non-organic guacamole are righteous choices.
The 1944 classic winter song, “Baby It's Cold Outside,” has stirred plenty of controversies lately.
The thing is, whether you choose to stay in where it's warm or venture out, you need your immune system in crack shape during the winter months.
But are you really more likely to get a cold in winter? Doctors usually say this is a myth. You don't come down with a cold because you got cold. Except that in a roundabout way, you do.
The viruses that cause colds multiply faster at somewhat lower temperatures. In winter, as you inhale colder air outdoors, it temporarily reduces the temperature in your nose, which encourages the viruses to multiply more rapidly and infect you more easily.
Another study that confirms we're prone to more colds in winter comes from a different angle. It turns out that your genes change seasonally. In winter, our DNA dials up the activity in our genes that control inflammation. Thus we are more likely to respond to germs around us with swelling, mucus, achiness, low-grade fever, and other signs of inflammation at work to fight off cold germs.
This is an interesting reaction that seems to apply no matter where you live... with some local variations. That's what makes it even more likely that our bodies prepare to get more colds when it's cold outside. The scientists collected data on about 1,000 people distributed across six countries: the US, the UK, Australia, Germany, Iceland, and the Gambia, in West Africa.
People's immune systems and inflammatory processes revved up during the winter in the countries that had cold winters. But the Gambia is hot all year. In the Gambia, DNA dialed up the inflammatory readiness in the summer rainy season when mosquitoes abound.
You can increase your immunity by simply not doing the things that lower it. Get enough sleep, eat well, exercise moderately.
The other good thing you can do for yourself is to try Isoprex this winter. Inflammation to fight germs is a good thing—until the system goes into overdrive and fails to turn off. Then it causes havoc throughout the body. One way that shows up in middle age and later is in the pain of arthritis. It can also mean a stuffier nose and more fever than your body really needs to fight a cold.
Isoprex supports the body to keep the right balance—allowing your genes to do what they should, then helping them remember to shut off.
Your cold could thank you. If you even get one.
(Type 2) is the health risk constantly in the news, but our awareness doesn't
seem to be helping much.
American Diabetes Assn predicted there would be a 165% growth in the number of people with diabetes from 2000 to 2050. We're on track to prove that prediction correct. Even more worrisome, it is estimated that 90% of the people who are pre-diabetic right now don't know it.
The hot question in the medical field right now is whether Type 2 diabetes can be cured.
Most doctors say, no. That includes mainstream opinion from WebMD to the American Diabetes Association.
But other equally respected sources say there's hope and a cure may be possible.
The Lancet, published in England, is the most respected medical journal in the world. In December 2017, Lancet published results of the DiRECT study on 306 people in Scotland and England with Type 2 diabetes. The news was good.
All the patients in the study had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes within the past six years. All of them had a body mass index of 27 (decidedly overweight) or higher. The team put half the recruits on a strict diet and took them off all their oral anti-diabetic and anti-hypertension medicines at the outset. That was a precaution because sudden calorie restriction can send blood pressure down too rapidly. If needed, the blood pressure drugs were reintroduced... but they usually were not needed!
Scientists are shy about making bold statements. At least until an idea has been proved many times over. That's what makes the DiRECT conclusion so unusual and so promising. To quote:
“Our findings confirm that type 2 diabetes of up to 6 years' duration is not necessarily a permanent, lifelong condition. Weight loss sufficient to achieve remission can be attained in many individuals by use of an evidence-based structured weight management programme delivered in a non-specialty community setting by routine primary care staff”.... almost half had remission of diabetes, off diabetic medicine.
In short, losing enough weight can put type 2 diabetes into remission. Caught early enough, that could amount to a cure.
To make the proof even more convincing, the DiRECT results were highly consistent from person to person. There was a clear, systematic relationship between how much weight patients lost and how well they did. For patients who met the goal of losing 15 kg (33 pounds), 86% saw their diabetes go into remission. Not one of the patients in the study who gained weight saw their diabetes improve.
That makes losing weight the first thing you should consider if you are pre-diabetic or have type 2 diabetes already. It also has the beauty of being one of the safest things you could try. But coordinate with your doctor before and during your mission to be sure your medications are correct and all is well.
The DiRECT finding is consistent with more drastic means of weight loss, such as bariatric surgery, that has helped some patients manage their diabetes.
Cleveland Clinic is doing substantial work in that area. It has said that for some patients with more recent and milder symptoms, gastric bypass surgery has even led to “complete resolution of diabetes mellitus.” Overall, in a study on 80,000 patients who had a gastric bypass, 84% “experienced a complete reversal of their type 2 diabetes.”
There's also the possibility of zapping diabetes into submission.
GE and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) are now conducting a $2.9 million study on neuromodulation for type 2 diabetes. Essentially the idea is that electrical stimulation of the right nerves might accomplish the same things as drugs—without the side effects and with much greater precision. Neuromodulation is often used for pain management, so this treatment is an expansion on a practice with considerable success behind it.
A fourth avenue that might pay off is stem cell therapy. This is still in very early exploration. So far, studies using stem cells haven't been helpful for type 2 diabetes, but there are hints that experiments using pancreatic stem cells to treat type 1 diabetes may work. And if that approach works, it may help type 2 patients as well.
Meanwhile, if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, the information we have today says that diet is your first line of defense. And the sooner you shed pounds the better.
Second, if you are thinking about bariatric surgery, you should know that it is no longer a rare or extreme measure, and it has been extremely successful. Bariatric surgery is now considered to be safer than gall-bladder removal or a hip replacement. The risks are certainly lower than living with active diabetes. Type 2 diabetics who have a gastric bypass may get positive results within hours to days after surgery, including ditching insulin.
Until DARPA can zap you into good health our options are limited, but they're good.
If you're thinking about starting (or expanding) your family and would like an excuse to go to a taping of "The Dr. Oz. Show," come to NYC and you might get a two-fer. It seems that sperm counts everywhere (researchers also looked at Los Angeles; Palo Alto, California; Houston; Boston; and Indianapolis -- the Brit publication Daily Mail reports the same holds true in Europe) are plummeting, except in the Big Apple. The reason for decline in the West? Exposure to chemicals and increasingly sedentary lifestyles.
But why is NYC exempt? As Dr. Peter Schlegel -- president-elect of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and New York resident -- said: "The exceptionalism of New York sperm donors is intriguing, but maybe not so surprising. New Yorkers tend to be physically active [walking culture] and our water system provides some of the cleanest and highest quality water in the U.S." He also added that NYC has the best pizza and the best bagels, both of which could owe their superiority to the water, too. In Boston, while total sperm count didn't decline, there were declines in categories such as average concentration and total motile sperm.
So men, to keep your swimming-sperm count up to speed (that's the motile count), get in your 10,000 steps a day (New Yorkers do it regularly), stay away from pesticides and processed foods, and bring your bride to "The Dr. Oz Show." Then stop for a slice and a whole-wheat bagel with lox, too. You'll be glad you did.
(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
Scientists have found a group of people in their 70s who have
muscles and aerobic capacities that would be the envy of healthy 20-somethings.
In fact, when they compared them to a group of 20-year-olds, they were just as
The simple anti-aging elixir they used was one we can all access—regular exercise. The catch is that these super-fit 70-year-olds kept it up for five decades.
To find these fitness superstars, researchers at Ball State University went looking for senior men and women who had begun exercising vigorously in the 1970s when jogging and fitness were a big trend. They located 28 people who began exercising in the 1970s and continued to work out at a high level every day for the next five decades.
When researchers brought them into the lab to test muscles and aerobic capacity, the older crew had muscle strength as good as the youngsters. Their aerobic capacity was slightly lower but still impressive. Compared to a control group of people their own age who had not been as active, however. The high exercisers were fitness heroes. They had 40% greater lung capacity compared to their inactive peers.
Five decades of steady, strong exercise is a difficult prescription for those of us who already let a few decades go by. But there is hope.
Even starting exercise later in life does pay off. Strength training is effective in keeping youthful muscle mass and balance to any age.
Your aerobic condition benefits from exercise as well, but it seems to need a bit more help. That's where nutrition comes in.
Adding natural life-enhancing herbs such as baikal skullcap to your daily routine could be your smartest move to keep up easy breathing. This herb derived from a flowering perennial that has been widely used in traditional medicine in Korea and China. It is used for upper respiratory tract infections, allergic rhinitis, and bronchial diseases.
Baikal skullcap is not easy to find. It doesn't even make the list of 100 most popular medicinal herbs, but it is an important ingredient in Renown Health's Isoprex.