More Exercise is Better

Dr. Paul Williams of the University of California at Berkeley thinks that the American Heart Association's recommendation of "half an hour a day of exercise" is way too little. He has followed more than 100,000 runners for 20 years and has shown that exercising much more than that will dramatically reduce the high incidence of heart attacks, strokes, certain cancers, glaucoma, diabetes, cataracts, macular degeneration, gout, gall stones, diverticulitis, and many other ailments (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, March 2009). Dr. Williams found that running 40 miles per week can lower risk of stroke by 69 percent, heart attacks by 37 percent and diabetes by 68 percent. To prevent progressive weight gain with aging, the runners needed to add 1.4 miles a week each year.

How inactivity kills: Human muscles get their energy by extracting sugar and fat from their blood supply. When muscles are at rest, they need insulin for sugar to pass into their cells. However, when muscles contract, sugar passes into their cells without requiring insulin.

Extra fat blocks insulin receptors so insulin can't do its job of driving sugar into cells and blood sugar rises to high levels. This causes sugar to stick to the surface of cell membranes. Once stuck to cell membranes, sugar can never get off and is eventually converted to sorbitol which destroys the cell to cause all the terrible side effects of diabetes.

The extra sugar outside cells is converted to fat, which blocks insulin receptors even more and prevents insulin from doing its job, leading to more weight gain and eventually to diabetes. Thirty-five percent of North Americans will become diabetic because they exercise too little and eat too much. More on why inactivity shortens life Why more exercise is better: Contracting muscles remove sugar rapidly from the bloodstream, without needing insulin, during and for up to one hour after exercise. The effect tapers off to zero at about 17 hours (American Journal of Clinical Nurtrition, July 2008). You are protected maximally from high rises in blood sugar and fat during and immediately after exercise. Therefore, the more time you spend contracting muscles, the longer you will be protected from the cell damage that leads to cancers, heart attacks, strokes, and other consequences that shorten your life or impair its quality.

Almost All Obese Men Will Eventually Become Diabeic

This month, two studies show that being overweight shortens life. A study from the University of Uppsala in Sweden followed 1800 Swedish overweight men, from age 50 for 30 years and showed that almost all are at high risk for heart attacks and premature death (Circulation, December 2009). The authors showed that overweight men who originally did not have metabolic syndrome eventually suffered from metabolic syndrome, diabetes and heart attacks.

Metabolic syndrome is considered to be early diabetes and includes high blood sugar and triglycerides, high blood pressure, low good HDL cholesterol, and abdominal obesity (40 inches for men, 35 for women). In this study, being overweight without metabolic syndrome increased heart attack rate by more than 95 percent, and being verweight with metabolic syndrome increased the rate by more than 155 percent.

In another study, researchers at the University of Bristol in the UK and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden analyzed more than a million Swedish mother-son and father-son pairs over age 50. They showed that the sons who were overweight tended to have parents who had died prematurely and had an extremely high incidence of heart attacks, diabetes, and some cancers (British Medical Journal, January, 2010).

Fat cells are like endocrine glands. As they fill with fat, they release hormones that turn on your immunity to cause inflammation. An overactive immunity damages artery walls to cause heart attacks and strokes. High blood fat levels block insulin receptors so your cells cannot respond to insulin and your blood sugar levels rise too high. This causes sugar to stick to cell membranes to damage arteries to cause heart attacks and strokes. Since your insulin receptors are blocked, your pancreas releases increasing amounts of insulin which constricts arteries to cause heart attacks.

Storing fat primarily in your belly rather than in your hips means that you already have high insulin levels, which shortens lives and increases heart attack risk. Insulin specifically causes fat to be stored in your belly.

If you can pinch more than an inch of fat in your belly, you are overweight and at increased risk for metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart attacks, and premature death. You should first be cleared by your doctor for exercise and try to exercise every day. Avoid all foods that cause a high rise in blood sugar, particularly sugared drinks, foods made from flour, and sugar-added foods. Eat large amounts of vegetables. Avoid red meat, lose weight, and make sure that your vitamin D3 level is above 75 nmol/L.

Mediterranean Diet Most Healthful

A comprehensive review of the world's literature, covering research in PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials from 1966 to 2008, shows that eating a Mediterranean diet prolongs life and prevents heart attacks, cancer, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease (British Medical Journal, September 2008).

The combined studies included more than 1.5 million people followed for up to eighteen years. The reviewers analyzed total diet, rather than individual components of diet, because "the analyses of single nutrients ignore important interactions between components of a diet and because people do not eat isolated nutrients."

The Mediterranean diet contains abundant amounts of fruits, vegetables (including olives), whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts, fish, and up to two glasses of red wine a day. It does not include red meat and has only small amounts of dairy products (cheese).

In studies analyzing single components in the diet, eating red meat is associated with premature death, heart attacks, strokes, at least 23 different cancers, and arthritis. Not eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts is associated with the same diseases. The more different vegetables you eat, the longer you live. Fish eaters live longer than people who do not eat fish.

It is sad that the Western Diet has reached Greece, where three-quarters of the adult population is overweight and the incidence of diabetes, heart disease and arthritis approaches that found in North America. The Mediterranean populations are sacrificing their health to the convenience and taste of "fast food" instead of following their traditional diet.
List of the most recent (2009) studies supporting the Mediterranean diet