Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Anorexia of Aging Debunked

            The phrase “anorexia of aging” refers to the decreased appetite experienced by older adults, and is common among 15-20 % of the elderly. A decreased appetite may sound like a good thing to some, but the unintentional weight loss may be especially detrimental to the health of seniors. Previously, it was believed that the anorexia of aging was due to a decrease in the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates the feeling of hunger, but new research suggests the appetite reduction may stem from an increase in a satiety (fullness) hormone peptide YY. In this study older adults demonstrated a greater production of PYY compared to a younger age group, while the levels of GLP-1 and ghrelin remained similar between the two groups. Based on this study, it can be hypothesized that greater levels of PYY contribute to undernutrition and weight loss among older adults. Knowing which hormone to target can potentially be useful in treating, or managing the anorexia of aging.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

College Linemen Heavier than Ever!

            A recent study has shown that college linemen, even in a lower division, are larger than ever with weights 38 % greater than their 1956 counterpart, according to Tufts University. This is a potential issue for the athletes after their career has ended. Tufts University professor Dr. David Greenblatt released a statement that American football should develop ways for players to integrate back into a normal lifestyle after their football career is over. The big push on being “bigger, faster and stronger” among athletes at all ages has lead to hyper-nutrition and larger linemen as a potential result (other positions not so much). It is important for these athletes to be aware of the health risks associated with carrying that much weight later on down the road.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Heat Safety

It is officially summer and the days of high temperatures have just begun! Many people take these sunny days as opportunities to enjoy nature, go for walks, jogs, or just simply lay on the beach. While basking in the sun can be a very enjoyable experience, it can also cause physical harm, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke, so here are some tips on preventing, and protecting against, sun and heat related illness.

Be aware of the weather forecast. Keeping an eye on the predicted temperatures can help you make educated decisions on your exercise choice for the day. Both exercise and high temperatures can raise your core body temperature. While sweating is your body’s way of keeping cool, in high humidity perspiration doesn’t evaporate as quickly from the surface of your skin, making it more difficult to cool down and subsequently raising your heart rate. If the forecast shows high humidity, it would be smart to scale back on the workout, or switch it to a day that is less humid.

Pick weather appropriate clothing. Sun protection begins when you wake up and get dressed. Light colored and sweat-wicking clothing helps keep you cool in hot weather, whereas dark, heavy clothes can make you even hotter.

Sunscreen isn’t just for the beach! Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before heading out on those particularly sunny days to protect against sunburn, which can decrease your body’s ability to self-cool. Opt for water-resistant sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 for the best results.

Replenish, replenish, replenish. Hydration is essential all year round, but it is particularly important during the summer months when you can be losing water through perspiration, perhaps without you realizing! You can easily lose a few pounds of water weight while sweating. Fortunately, you can replenish this loss through drinking more water. One tip is to weigh your self before and after workouts, replacing each pound lost with 3 cups of water.

Sometimes it’s too late for prevention, so it is important to know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which are caused by exposure to high temperatures and dehydration.  Signs of heat exhaustion include, but are not limited to: heavy sweating, muscle cramps, dizziness, headache and cool, moist skin. If untreated, heat exhaustion can progress into heat stroke, a more serious heat-related illness. With heat stroke, look for the following symptoms: dry, hot skin without sweating, confusion, a body temperature of above 105*F, rapid and weak pulse, seizures and unconsciousness.

Hopefully this information will help to prevent heat related illness. Just remember, making smart choices with high temperatures will help make a more enjoyable summer experience!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Bug Munchin'

            With all the cicadas flying around it seems more than appropriate to talk about eating bugs. “No, that’s gross” my family and friends tell me, but there are around 2 billion people worldwide that eat bugs as a staple in their diet according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Entomophagy, or eating bugs, is very common in other nations with beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, locusts and crickets being the most common insects eaten. There are actually over 1900 edible insects, so I guess goat meat isn’t that strange after all. The authors of this article go on to explain how eating insects could combat obesity, but the more important message is to be open to new foods and find a way to create a varied diet. When given an opportunity to try something new don’t shy away! Metaphorically grab the beetle by the horns and give it a try.

            One last thing.. I don’t want to ruin your view on the sweet delight that is chocolate, BUT below you’ll see that, according to the Defect Levels Handbook by the FDA, a little bug is good:

            The organization states that it is acceptable for 100 grams of chocolate to contain up to 60 "insect fragments" within six 100-gram samples, while peanut butter can contain up to 30 insect fragments per 100 grams.

So, enjoy that chocolate peanut butter cup.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Think Fast: The Deal on Intermittent Fasting

            There has been a lot of celebrity attention and support in favor of intermittent fasting, but before you jump on the bandwagon, it may be best to know what this wagon ride is like. Intermittent fasting involves fasting for a variable amount of time, then feeding during preselected times. The kick is that the fast can be for hours, or even days. One common practice is to “fast” during the work week, and then feed during the weekend, while others may chose to fast for 16 hours and feed during the 8 hour eating window. For example, 8 PM to 12 PM exists as a fasted window and 12 PM to 8 PM is the allotted time to eat. During a fast, some choose to drink water only, while other may eat, but only 500 calories or so.

            It sounds a bit outlandish, but intermittent fasting may have some benefits such as decreasing LDL cholesterol and inflammation, and increasing insulin sensitivity. As Valter Longo, PhD, explains, during the fasting periods many cells die, and stem cells are “turned on” and give way to the production of new, young, and better functioning cells.

            One issue that arises with intermittent fasting is that individual’s focus primarily on the calories they consume rather than to quality of food being consumed. This is often because low calorie foods such as egg whites and black coffee or tea can be consumed during fasting periods, while during the eating window it’s a reason to splurge on oodles of calories and less desirable foods. The hunger that one may experience before the eating window may also cause a large binge on the less desirable foods. Fasting for long periods may also impact mood and functioning - especially if not acquainted to this eating pattern. 

            So, yes, intermittent fasting can be beneficial for some folks and even produce weight loss, but it’s important to recognize that this may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Warning: Before considering intermittent fasting it is important to speak with your doctor or healthcare provider!