Your Road to Wellness

Research

Feel more relaxed, improve your focus and be more stress resistant by controlling your breathing.

Posted by on 8:43 am Blood Pressure, Breathing, General Health, Happiness, Health, Pain, Research, Stress | 0 comments

The way you breathe has a strong effect on how you feel and function. Research has shown that the amount of times you breath and also how you breathe is important.

The following study included 47 healthy college students which implemented different breathing patterns (Lin IM, et., al., 2014). Anxiety and relaxation levels were measured as well as heart rate variability (HRV).

The reason HRV was measured is because research has shown a relationship between low HRV and worsening of depression or anxiety. A low HRV has even been associated with an increased risk of death and cardiovascular disease. People who have a high HRV may have greater cardiovascular fitness and be more resilient to stress.

In this study the researchers showed that breathing at a rate of 5.5 breaths per minute and with an equal time used to breathe in and out resulted in a higher HRV and an increased feeling of relaxation. The other breathing patterns were not as effective.

A breathing frequency of 6 breaths per minute has been the frequency found to be most effective in most of the studies.

Using your diaphragm when breathing is also important. Implementing that with slow breathing increased sustained attention and lowered cortisol levels–cortisol is a stress hormone– in another study (Ma X, et.al., 2017).

When you use your diaphragm in breathing, you will see your abdomen raising when you breathe in.

This type of breathing has even shown to improve sleep when practiced before bed time (Tsai HJ,et.al., 2015).

 

References

Lin IM, Tai LY, Fan SY,Breathing at a rate of 5.5 breaths per minute with equal inhalation-to-exhalation ratio increases heart rate variability, Int J Psychophysiol. 2014 Mar;91(3):206-11.

Ma X, Yue ZQ, Gong ZQ, Zhang H, Duan NY, Shi YT, Wei GX, Li YF, The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults,Front Psychol. 2017 Jun 6;8:874. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00874.

Tsai HJ1, Kuo TB, Lee GS, Yang CC,Efficacy of paced breathing for insomnia: enhances vagal activity and improves sleep qualityPsychophysiology. 2015 Mar;52(3):388-96. doi: 10.1111/psyp.12333.

 

 

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How much do you have to exercise to improve your endurance and aerobic fitness?

Posted by on 7:28 am Exercise, Health, Intensity Training, Research, Sports performance, Vigorous Activity, Weight loss, Wellness | 0 comments

 

A lot of people don’t exercise because they think they have to spend a lot of time doing it every week, and that does not appeal to them.  Let’s see what research has found.

Several years ago research was conducted on what was called high intensity short interval training. Since the start of that, a lot of research has been published on that topic, experimenting with different durations of exercise.

The original research started using a stationary bike doing 30 seconds intervals, peddling as hard as possible, then resting for up to 4 minutes. This was then repeated 4 to 6 times.

This regime was very effective documenting that just 2 minutes of actual exercise time produced the same results as an hour of regular intensity aerobic exercise.

So how little can you exercise and still improve your performance? Is 30 seconds interval as low as you can go?

The following research tested six sub elite triathletes comparing them with 6 endurance-trained sub elite athletes maintaining their normal training routine .(Jakeman J, et.al., 2012).

These athletes were already in good shape. It’s harder to improve the performance at that level, compared to starting with people out of shape.

6 of the participants did 10, 6 seconds sprints on a stationary bike with a resting period of 1 minute in between, 3 times a week for 2 weeks. The resistance on the bike was set to 7.5% of the body weight.

Two weeks of the high intensity short interval training resulted in a 10% decrease in a 10-km time trial.

The time taken to reach the onset of blood lactate accumulation, defined as the point where blood lactate reaches 4 mmol·L⁻¹) was significantly increased. This is another way of measuring improved aerobic fitness.

The actual exercise time was only 1 minute 3 times a week.

It is amazing, spending only 3 minutes a week for 2 weeks can improve aerobic performance.

If you want to improve cardiovascular fitness, but want to spend as little time as possible exercising, this is the way to do it.

You need a stationary bike to implement this protocol, but if you have that at home, you don’t necessarily even have to do the 10 sprints at one time. You can split them up throughout the day depending on what’s most convenient for you.

Other studies has documented that it is more beneficial to be active several times a day compared to exercising longer only once a day.

Lack of time is no longer a valid reason not to exercise. Most people would most likely have 3 minutes a week to spend on exercise considering the benefits.

Reference

Jakeman J, Adamson S, Babraj J.Extremely short duration high-intensity training substantially improves endurance performance in triathletes. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2012 Oct;37(5):976-81.

 

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Do you want a bigger brain and better memory?

Posted by on 7:33 am Alzheimer’s, Anti-Aging, Cognition, Dementia, Exercise, General Health, Memory, Research, Stay healthy, Wellness | 0 comments

 

Is it really possible to increase the size of the brain later in life?

Data from a randomized controlled study of 155 older women, who participated in 52 weeks of resistance training showed reduced cortical white matter atrophy on MRI scans when compared with the control  group (Best JR, et.al., 2015).

This means that they ended up with a bigger brain than they would have had if they had not done the resistance exercise.

Twice-weekly resistance training also promoted memory and increased peak muscle power when they were followed up after 2 years.

The control group did balance and toning.

If you instead prefer aerobic type of exercise, that may also improve your cognition.

Research showed that an individual’s cardio-respiratory fitness was a better predictor of cognitive gains than the exercise dose (Vidoni ED, et.al., 2015).

To improve cardio-respiratory function you can do regular aerobic exercise, or you can do high intensity short interval training which will save you time.

This study compared the effects of long slow distance training with high-intensity interval training in rowers (Ní Chéilleachair NJ, et.al., 2017).

High intensity short interval training was more effective than long and slow distance training in improving performance and aerobic characteristics.

References

Best JR, Chiu BK, Liang Hsu C, Nagamatsu LS, Liu-Ambrose T.Long-Term Effects of Resistance Exercise Training on Cognition and Brain Volume in Older Women: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2015 Nov;21(10):745-56.

Vidoni ED, Johnson DK, Morris JK, Van Sciver A, Greer CS, Billinger SA, Donnelly JE, Burns JM,Dose-Response of Aerobic Exercise on Cognition: A Community-Based, Pilot Randomized Controlled TrialPLoS One. 2015 Jul 9;10(7):e0131647.

Ní Chéilleachair NJ1,2, Harrison AJ2, Warrington GD,HIIT enhances endurance performance and aerobic characteristics more than high-volume training in trained rowers.J Sports Sci. 2017 Jun;35(11):1052-1058

 

Research has shown that sitting for a long time can be bad, but you don’t have to be active for very long to reap huge benefits.

The program Exercise for Maximum Benefits incorporates the latest research to be sure that you really get maximum benefits.

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Osteoarthritis in women associated with deposits in Arteries

Posted by on 12:33 pm Asthma, Calories, Eating, Energy, Exercise, General Health, General Health, Health Risk, Heart disease, Muscles, Nervous System, Research, Wellness, Women, Womens health | 0 comments

Research sometimes find interesting connections we usually don’t think about.

A study including 3278 women found an association between plaque in the carotid artery and osteoarthritis in the knee and hands in women (Hoeven TA, et.al., 2013).

We know that inflammation is involved in osteoarthritis, even if it is less severe than in rheumatoid arthritis.

We also know that inflammation increases the risk for cardiovascular disease. Inflammation is an important factor in depositing cholesterol and fat into the inner lining of the vascular wall.

 

Another interesting connection found lower magnesium levels in rheumatoid arthritis patients compared to controls (Chavan VU, et.al., 2015).

Lower magnesium levels were also correlated with higher cholesterol and LDL, the so called bad cholesterol, and higher magnesium levels with better HDL cholesterol, the good cholesterol. This was in cases of rheumatoid arthritis.

 

Magnesium has also been found to be inversely associated with osteoarthritis documented on x-rays and joint space narrowing (Zeng C, et.al., 2015).

Glucosamine sulfate another nutritional substance has been used to treat osteoarthritis for many years.

When osteoarthritic chondrocytes (cartilage cells) and glucosamine sulfate were tested in different ways in a culture, it was found that glucosamine sulfate reduced the synthesis of proinflammatory mediators (Largo R, et.al., 2003).

Taking magnesium and glucosamine sulfate could according to this possibly benefit both your cardiovascular system and your joints.

The best form of magnesium is an amino acid chelate like magnesium glycinate.

The most common form of magnesium is magnesium oxide, but that is a gastrointestinal irritant and can give you diarrhea when taken in higher amounts.

 

REFERENCE

Chavan, V. U., Ramavataram, D. V. S. S., Patel, P. A., & Rupani, M. P. (2015). Evaluation of serum magnesium, lipid profile and various biochemical parameters as risk factors of cardiovascular diseases in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Journal of clinical and diagnostic research: JCDR, 9(4), BC01.

Hoeven, T. A., Kavousi, M., Clockaerts, S., Kerkhof, H. J., van Meurs, J. B., Franco, O., … & Bierma-Zeinstra, S. (2012). Association of atherosclerosis with presence and progression of osteoarthritis: the Rotterdam Study. Annals of the rheumatic diseases, annrheumdis-2011.

Largo R, Alvarez-Soria MA, Díez-Ortego I, Calvo E, Sánchez-Pernaute O, Egido J, Herrero-Beaumont G. Glucosamine inhibits IL-1beta-induced NFkappaB activation in human osteoarthritic chondrocytes.Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2003 Apr;11(4):290-8.

Zeng C, Li H, Wei J, Yang T, Deng ZH, Yang Y, Zhang Y, Yang TB, Lei GH. Association between Dietary Magnesium Intake and Radiographic Knee Osteoarthritis. PLoS One. 2015 May 26;10(5):e0127666.

 

 

 

 

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New and interesting research on the risk of heart disease.

Posted by on 9:30 am Cardiovascular Disease, Research | 0 comments


You have probably heard recent statements that saturated fat is now healthy and does not increase the risk of heart disease as previously believed. You should, for that reason, eat a lot of butter and dairy products as well as fat from other animal sources.

If you happen to read information like that, look for the references and if any are provided read carefully to see how the research was conducted.

Here is the latest on the topic of saturated fat intake compared with unsaturated fat and sources of carbohydrates as it relates to cardiovascular risk (Li Y, et al. 2015).

84,628 women and 42,908 men were followed for 24 to 30 years.

It was found that by replacing 5% of the energy intake from saturated fats with especially polyunsaturated fat, but also monounsaturated fat (these are the types of fat we find in vegetables, nuts and seeds), the cardiovascular disease risk was significantly reduced.

This was also found, but to a lesser extent, when saturated fat was replaced with carbohydrates from whole grains.

When saturated fat was replaced with refined carbohydrates and added sugars, it was not lowering the cardiovascular risk.

Most of the studies of this kind treat all carbohydrates the same, they don’t differentiate between very high glycemic index carbohydrates or low glycemic index carbohydrates.

The results would for that reason not be accurate.

Whole grains have a lower glycemic index than white flour and sugar, but they still don’t have a really low glycemic index the way we eat them.

Think of what you could accomplish if, instead of eating saturated fat, you ate fat from vegetable sources, nuts and seeds and a really low glycemic index source of carbohydrates like legumes instead of the grains.

This can be a very effective approach to not only lower the risk for cardiovascular disease, but also the risk for most other chronic conditions.

It can easily be accomplished with some planning and the right tools.

 

Learn to Eat:  Recommendations that work. This is not a regular diet program.

 

Li Y1, Hruby A1, Bernstein AM2, Ley SH1, Wang DD1, Chiuve SE3, Sampson L1, Rexrode KM4, Rimm EB5, Willett WC5, Hu FB6. Saturated Fats Compared With Unsaturated Fats and Sources of Carbohydrates in Relation to Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: A Prospective Cohort Study. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015 Oct 6;66(14):1538-48. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2015.07.055.

What to believe: Why do we have contradictory research?

Posted by on 8:46 am Research | 0 comments

There are several reasons why some studies are contradictory.
Research can purposely be designed to be misleading.
The following is a good example of that. The study investigated the effects of egg consumption on endothelial function (Njike V, et al. 2010).

The participants were men and women with high cholesterol, they had an average cholesterol level of 244 mg/dl.
They were first assigned to either 3 medium hard boiled eggs or a sausage/cheese breakfast sandwich. In the second part of the study after a washout period of 4 weeks, they were assigned to either 2 medium hard boiled eggs or ½ cup of egg substitute.

Endothelial function measured as flow mediated dilatation was assessed in all of the participants before the start and at the end of each phase. They also had a blood test measuring the cholesterol.
The researchers found that egg consumption had no effect on endothelium function when compared to the sausage/cheese sandwich.

They also found that the egg substitute significantly improved endothelial function when compared to eggs and also lowered total cholesterol and LDL levels.
The researchers concluded that egg consumption was found to be non-detrimental to endothelial function and cholesterol in adults with high cholesterol, while egg substitute consumption was beneficial.

The impression you get from this study is that eating eggs are not going to increase your cholesterol level, not negatively affect the health of your blood vessels and therefore is not going to hurt you.
What’s wrong with this picture?

First they chose participant who already had high cholesterol and it would most likely take a lot to increase it further.
Second they compared eggs with a sausage/cheese sandwich. Both the sausage and the cheese contains high amounts of fat and would increase cholesterol. The bread which is a high glycemic index food would most likely also increase the cholesterol.

So even if the eggs increased cholesterol, they would not increase it more than the sausage/cheese sandwich.
Does this mean that eggs would not be detrimental to endothelial function and not increase you cholesterol?
Of course not. If you don’t have high cholesterol it certainly would increase your cholesterol.

That would not sell many eggs and this study was purposely designed to promote the sales of eggs.
There are many way to do similar things so you get the study results you want.
Something else which also is taking place is to compare studies with very different designs, that would of course not be very accurate either.

The popular press which only are interested in sensations and big headlines picks up this and presents it as truth.
When you see a sensational headline always look for the original research and see what conclusion you would come up with if you were a little bit critical.

 

 Njike V1, Faridi Z, Dutta S, Gonzalez-Simon AL, Katz DL. Daily egg consumption in hyperlipidemic adults–effects on endothelial function and cardiovascular risk. Nutr J. 2010 Jul 2;9:28. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-9-28.