Exercise protects against heart disease in many ways. One important mechanism is by elevating HDL, a.k.a. the “good” cholesterol. It is well established that high levels of HDL are protective against cardiovascular disease and the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) has emphasized increasing HDL levels to help reduce CHD risk. [2-4] However, not only HDL levels are important. Emerging research in showing that HDL quality and function is as important, if not more important for health promotion and prevention of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases…[5-7]
A hotly debated recent study, the SELECT trial, has casted doubt on the well documented health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. This study found that a higher content of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA+DPA+DHA) in blood plasma was associated with a with a greater risk of low-grade (44%) and high-grade (71%) prostate cancers over a 5-year follow-up 1. Associations were similar for individual long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Higher linoleic acid (omega-6) was associated with a 25% reduced risk of low-grade and 23% reduced risk of total prostate cancer 1 .
This has understandably generated confusion among the general public and intense discussions among health professionals and researchers. However, a deeper look at the data and study methodology reveals a different picture…
Will Brink and Dr Lopez have previously commented on the notorious omega-3 / prostate cancer study:
Here is my take on it…
If you’re following the health news, you know that vitamin D currently is in the media spotlight, and rightly so. Will Brink just did a great podcast “Vitamin D3 – scam or panacea?“, giving an overview on the importance vitamin D. In this article I will expand upon some key points taken up in the podcast, and back up the case with a solid reference list of recent studies on the topic. I will also present some revealing prevalence stats on vitamin D insufficiency, in order to convince you to get your blood levels checked to find out your vitamin D status.
Vitamin D is interesting for several reasons:
1. The role of vitamin D for health promotion has undergone a paradigm shift. While traditionally thought to only be important for development and maintenance of strong bones, an impressive body of scientific research has accumulated over the past decade, showing that adequate vitamin D levels are necessary to prevent many diseases, especially cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, endothelial dysfunction, diabetes (both type-1 and type-2), the metabolic syndrome, chronic inflammation, cancer, osteoporosis (including falls and fractures), muscle weakness, cognitive dysfunction and mental illness, autoimmune diseases (e.g. multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis), infectious diseases, as well as infertility and adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes [1-24].
Vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency is associated with all-cause mortality , and supplementation has been shown to decrease mortality rates [25, 26]. It has been estimated that doubling vitamin D levels in the general population (from 21 ng/mL to 44 ng/mL) would reduce vitamin D-related disease mortality rate by 20%, and increase life expectancy with about 2 years .
2. Insufficient levels of vitamin D also have direct implications for fitness enthusiasts and athletic performance, due to the importance of vitamin D for muscle function (I will cover this in much more dept in an upcoming article) [28-39].
3. In contrast to other vitamins, vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency is very common (more on that below).
4. The vitamin D requirement for health promotion and protection against the mentioned diseases and muscle dysfunction is much higher than the dietary recommendations (RDA) for bone health [4, 40-45].
Having heard about all the vitamin D benefits you might wonder what is the optimal vitamin D level? How low is too low and how high is too high? How much vitamin D does one have to consume to reap all the benefits? Let’s find out…
Part 1 of 3 on the deleterious effects of too much sitting
Are you struggling to lose that extra flab and all those nasty calories that seem to be glued to your waistline? Do you ever wonder why, despite your hard training and dieting, you still have those annoying love handles? Then maybe you should try to implement the NEAT way to fat loss…
If you are following the anti-aging media news, you’ve heard about the alleged benefits of calorie restriction (also known as food restriction or diet restriction). Studies in numerous species have demonstrated that reduction of calories 30-50% below ad libitum levels of a nutritious diet slows the aging process, increases lifespan, reduces the incidence and delays the onset of age-related diseases, improves stress resistance, and decelerates functional decline.
In a previous article http://www.brinkzone.com/general-health/calorie-restriction-vs-the-bodybuilding-lifestyle/ Will pointed out that practicing calorie restriction counters the bodybuilding lifestyle. Here I will explain that it not only counters the bodybuilding lifestyle, but also is makes it impossible to implement and reap the benefits of other healthy lifestyle habits, and in addition brings along several pitfalls and negative health consequences in humans.
While animal studies can and do shed light on what’s going on at mechanistic level, we have to be very careful and resist the temptation to extrapolate results from animal experiments to humans. Here I will make the case for that we can age gracefully and successfully and increase our health span and “youngevity” without having to starve ourselves for life.
The mere word cholesterol gives many goose bumps. We have been indoctrinated since the well-known Framingham Studies that the higher the blood cholesterol level, the higher the risk of heart disease 1-3. However, much has been discovered in medical research since then. Today there is compelling evidence showing that strict reliance on the traditional cholesterol test that is routinely run in the clinic can falsely tell you and your doctor that you’re fine, even if you aren’t. Here you will find out what to look for…
Nitric oxide (NO) boosting “pre-workout” supplements based on L-arginine have been – and still are – quite popular among many fitness enthusiasts and athletes. While it’s true that arginine is a nitric oxide (NO) precursor and NO is a potent vasodilator [1, 2], most studies in healthy adults have not unequivocally supported the marketing hype that arginine supplementation increases muscle blood flow and/or performance [3-5]. In my previous article “The Arginine Paradox” I explained why.
In this article I will cover the less well known, albeit highly significant, NO generating process, the nitrate-nitrite-NO pathway. This new NO producing pathway holds a lot of promise and supplements that target it will probably replace the current arginine based NO boosters in the near future.[6, 7] The nitrate-nitrite-NO pathway is especially interesting in that it not only has performance enhancing effects in healthy folks – as well as in people with risk factors – but also offers cardiovascular protection, regardless of baseline health status.[7-10]
In a previous article I reported the controversial results of a study that compared the muscle (myofibrillar) protein synthetic response of a traditional “bodybuilding” high-load low rep workout (90FAIL) to a higher rep low load workout (30FAIL), both taken to failure 1. If you haven’t read that article, here’s a lowdown:
The workout with higher rep lower load sets (30FAIL) was equally effective in stimulating muscle (myofibrillar) protein synthesis as a workout with low rep high load sets (90FAIL) 1. But more notably, the high-rep low load workout (30FAIL) resulted in a more prolonged muscle protein synthetic response and a greater elevation of muscle protein synthesis rates than the low rep high load workout (90FAIL) 24h after exercise, and also induced a greater stimulation of anabolic signalling pathways 1.
However, this study was an acute study with measurements taken for only 24 hours after one single workout bout. This doesn’t tell us whether higher rep sets would lead to long term increases in muscle mass, which is what we are ultimately interested in. Well, the same research group just published an actual 10 week training study 2 to find the answer to this nerve-itching question….
Risk factors and chronic diseases often get more attention among the middle-age and elderly population. And rightly so, since that’s when the manifestations of chronic diseases start to show up, and when people get reminded about their chronological age. An integral component of successful aging (also known as healthy aging) is the freedom of physical disabilities and debilitating chronic diseases 1-3. While it is true that it is never too late to become health conscious and reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle 4,5, the fact remains that the sooner we start the better off we will be as we get older. If you are in your 20s or 30s, or have kids, read on…