Putting the pieces together

Reflecting back on my recent posts, it’s clear my focus is on living healthy as a preventative measure. It is my belief that a balanced life which includes proper nutrition, exercising and taking care of your mental and emotional health can lead to a better quality of life.

A recent study published in the Cancer Research journal brings me full circle in my journey so far on this blog.

Researchers found that weight loss of postmenopausal women by caloric restriction and regular exercise can lower biomarkers for inflammation which are associated with increased risk for several types of cancer.

Biomarkers called high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin were analyzed after a 12 month period where 439 overweight or obese women ages 50 to 75 were separated into four groups: a control group, only diet, only exercise and diet plus exercise, participated in interventions.

“The study found that a 12 month caloric restriction weight loss diet intervention, with or without exercise, produced large, significant reductions in several biomarkers of inflammation.”

They also found that, “direct comparisons of diet versus no diet groups showed significant reduction in all inflammatory biomarkers in the diet groups.” Hs-CRP decreased the most in women who lost five percent or more of their baseline weight in any group tested.

The researchers observed a 40 percent reduction in hs-CRP in the diet and diet plus exercise groups and expected that such a decline would result in a reduction in cancer risks.

I like emphasizing this type of data because it points to how beneficial nutrition and exercise can be for our bodies, even in older age.

Imagine the possibilities of health benefits if young adults were increasingly vigilant about their health from the start. The best medicine can be preventative medicine in the form of natural, whole foods and in strengthening our bodies through exercise.

It is my goal to be constantly aware of how what I am doing to my body will affect me 10, 30 or 50 years down the road. Hopefully by sharing these types of studies, I can inspire that same concern in others.

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Study published in the May 2012 issue of Cancer Research

Weight loss supplements losing credibility?

Weight loss supplements and aids flood drug store shelves promising to help burn fat, increase metabolism, block fat absorption, or suppress your appetite.

These claims are often enticing and, “In 2008 around 34 percent of overweight or obese individuals in the United States reported using a dietary weight-loss supplement,” according to a scholarly review by Melinda Manore from the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.

The review also cites that, “In 2010 U.S. consumers spent over $2.4 billion on dietary supplements and meals replacements aimed at weight loss.”

“Dietary weight-loss supplements vary in the evidence supporting their claims. Some products have been extensively tested and show modest effects, but many have had either no or limited RCT trials examine their effectiveness.”

Types of supplements are categorized as absorption blockers (fat and carbohydrate), stimulants, changing body composition (nutrient partitioning) and appetite suppressants.

“A number of supplements such as green tea, fiber, and low-fat dairy products may complement a healthy lifestyle to prevent weight gain over time.”

The modestly effectively results obtained from supplements can usually be found in the ingredients of foods you can buy yourself. Organic low-fat milk, green tea and whole grain fiber all have the properties sought after in supplements, but are naturally occurring.

 “It is the responsibility of the health profession to educate the public on diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes for weight loss or maintenance,” Manore says.

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This scholarly review was published in the April 2012 issue of the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism