Downsizing to an Early Death? Why Exercise is So Important as You Age

Exersize Photo by Justin Clark on Unsplash

well-documented that regular exercise is good for us. Being active can reduce your risk for a variety of diseases such as heart disease and cancer, as well as improving psychological well-being.

Current guidelines from the World Health Organization recommend getting 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week. This works out to about 20 to 30 minutes per day of activity like brisk walking, swimming or playing tennis.

It’s not much of a time commitment yet most people don’t achieve it. Barely 20 per cent of Canadians are considered physically active according to national guidelines. And if things in Canada are the same as in the United States, this number likely hasn’t changed in the past 15 years.

The good news is that the very best time to start exercising is now. Research from the United States and the United Kingdom reveals that middle-aged and older adults can reduce their risk of death by becoming more physically active, irrespective of past physical activity levels.

Why we exercise less as we age

Hidden among these statistics on physical activity is how much it decreases with age. As an adult, our activity usually peaks in our 20s. After that, there is a steady decline in vigorous activity (exercise that increases heart rate) throughout life, while light physical activity (such as easy walking) stays relatively constant until around 60 years of age and then declines. In addition, sedentary time increases.

Many will argue this is part of the ageing process: we get weaker as we age and therefore we can’t do as much vigorous activity.

However, the physiological changes in our body with age likely only account for a small portion in the decline in activity. People who remain active see only a fraction of the decrease in fitness compared to their inactive counterparts.

Much of this decrease in activity is due to conscious and unconscious changes in life circumstances. In our 20s, we’re more likely to have been engaged in competitive and recreational sports, rely more on transit and active transportation as we cannot afford our own car. Our entry-level jobs are more active, but as we progress up the career ladder, we’re likely to spend more time sitting at a desk.

Downsizing to an early death?

Retirement is also another significant stage at which time most people experience a further decrease in activity. Even if one’s job was sedentary, it usually provides a small amount of activity and unless a conscious effort is made to make that activity up in retirement, it will be lost.

Many people also downsize their home in retirement, perhaps moving to a one-story apartment and losing their yard. While there may be good reasons for downsizing, it also results in further decreases in activity as there are no stairs to take or yard to manage. Some people downsize purposely thinking they should be doing less activity.

As activity decreases, so does our fitness and strength levels. Because of those changes, we become even less capable of doing activities we did when we were younger, so we further decrease our activity, and the cycle continues.

As a result, risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity and high blood sugar may appear — increasing our risk for disease and early death.

It’s how much you exercise now that matters

However, it’s not all bad. Our body can also adapt to increasing activity. And when it comes to exercise and health, what you have done lately is more important than what you did years or decades ago.

A study of more than 300,000 men and women aged 50 to 71 living in the U.S. divided participants into maintainers (high level of leisure activity throughout life), decreasers (high activity in teens and low in later life) and increasers (low activity in teens and high in later life).

Of the three groups, maintainers had the lowest risk for early death, but the increasers had a similar benefit. The decreasers didn’t fare much better than people who were inactive their entire life.

What matters is how much activity you do now.

When looking at total physical activity (leisure activity combined with occupational activity), similar results were reported among 15,000 people in the U.K.

Again, what mattered most was how much activity people were doing most recently, not 25 years earlier. Those who increased their activity had the lowest risk for early death, even if their previous activity levels were high to begin with. In addition, people with heart disease or cancer also benefited to the same extent as those without.

Walk for 20 minutes a day

Beginning, or even restarting, an exercise program in middle-age or later can be daunting. From time to time we’ll hear inspiring stories of people starting their first marathon in their 70s but these people are the exception and not everyone needs (or wants) to be exercising that much.

We demonstrated that as little as 20 minutes of brisk walking per day can result in a 20 per cent reduction in early death over seven years. If you increase to 90 minutes of walking or 25 minutes of running, you get a 35 per cent reduction.

However, the greatest gains come from doing nothing to doing something. And every little bit helps throughout the day, not just the time you go to the gym or do a run. Taking the stairs, going for a walk on your lunch or parking farther away all add up.

Scott Lear writes the weekly blog Feeling Healthy with Dr. Scott Lear.

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Some Vitamin Supplements Can Increase Risk of a Stroke, Study Finds

No one should EVER supplement with Calcium, it causes us to leach calcium from the bones as it is toxic to organs. But combining it with Vitamin D can cause problems.

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Vitamin supplements taken by millions of people can increase the risk of heart disease, a large study suggests .

New research has found links between certain types of daily pills combining calcium and vitamin D and an increased risk of stroke.

US scientists believe the combination may be responsible for atherosclerosis, a disease whereby plaque builds up in the arteries.

Such pills are commonly marketed as necessary to preserve bone strength and aimed at middle-aged and elderly people, whose risk of stroke is already higher.

Overall, it is estimated that around 45 per cent of UK adults take some form of vitamin supplements every day, supporting an industry worth roughly £430 million a year.

Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the new data forms part of a wider set of results suggesting that few nutritional supplements protect against cardiovascular disease or death .

Based on a review of 277 randomised controlled trials comprising nearly one million people, the study also questioned the effectiveness of a Mediterranean-style diet for improving resilience against heart disease.

Dr Safi Khan, who led the research at West Virginia University, said: “A combination of calcium and vitamin D was associated with a higher risk of stroke.”

He added: “Other supplements did not seem to have significant effect on mortality or cardiovascular outcomes.”

The research looked at the effect of 16 different nutritional supplements and eight dietary interventions on mortality and cardiovascular outcomes in the adult participants.

It concluded that cutting down on salt and eating omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in oily fish, offered some protection against heart disease, meanwhile folic acid offered some protection against stroke.

Supplements combining calcium and vitamin D appeared to increase the risk of having a stroke by 17 per cent.

However, scientists have urged caution in interpreting the results as establishing cause and effect is the field of nutrition is notoriously difficult.

“We found out only a few of the 16 nutritional supplements and one of the eight dietary interventions evaluated had some protective effect in cardiovascular risk reduction,” said Dr Khan.

Supplements that did not appear to have any significant effect on mortality or cardiovascular outcomes included selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D alone, calcium alone, folic acid, and iron.

NHS advice states that most people do not need to take vitamin supplements because they should receive all the vitamins and minerals they need by eating a balanced diet.


Garlic Powder vs. Whole Garlic

Garlic HeadPhoto by Mike Kenneally on Unsplash

Honestly, Just Use Garlic Powder    I came across this article that says we should give up the hassle of chopping garlic and just use garlic powder. White there are several dishes where garlic granules (I like the texture and flavor way better from granules) are better we difinetly need to use fresh garlic often for it’s health benefits.

  1. Garlic Contains Compounds With Potent Medicinal Properties–  Garlic is a plant in the Allium (onion) family.  Scientists now know that most of its health benefits are caused by sulfur compounds formed when a garlic clove is chopped, crushed or chewed. Perhaps the most famous of those is known as allicin. However, allicin is an unstable compound that is only briefly present in fresh garlic after it’s been cut or crushed.  Other compounds that may play a role in garlic’s health benefits include diallyl disulfide and s-allyl cysteine.  The sulfur compounds from garlic enter the body from the digestive tract and travel all over the body, where it exerts its potent biological effects.

Garlic is a plant in the onion family that’s grown for its distinctive taste and health benefits. It contains sulfur compounds, which are believed to bring some of the health benefits.

2. Garlic Is Highly Nutritious But Has Very Few Calories  Calorie for calorie, garlic is incredibly nutritious. A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of garlic contains: Manganese: 23% of the RDA, Vitamin B6: 17% of the RDA,Vitamin C: 15% of the RDA, Selenium: 6% of the RDA, Fiber: 0.6 grams,  Decent amounts of calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B1. Garlic also contains trace amounts of various other nutrients. In fact, it contains a little bit of almost everything you need. This comes with 42 calories, 1.8 grams of protein and 9 grams of carbs.

3. Garlic Can Combat Sickness, Including the Common Cold–  Garlic supplements are known to boost the function of the immune system.One large, 12-week study found that a daily garlic supplement reduced the number of colds by 63% compared to a placebo. The average length of cold symptoms was also reduced by 70%, from 5 days in the placebo group to just 1.5 days in the garlic group. Another study found that a high dose of aged garlic extract (2.56 grams per day) reduced the number of days sick with cold or flu by 61%.

4. The Active Compounds in Garlic Can Reduce Blood Pressure–   Cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes are the world’s biggest killers.High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of the most important drivers of these diseases. Human studies have found garlic supplements to have a significant impact on reducing blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.  In one study, 600–1,500 mg of aged garlic extract was just as effective as the drug Atenolol at reducing blood pressure over a 24-week period.  Supplement doses must be fairly high to have the desired effects. The amount needed is equivalent to about four cloves of garlic per day.

5. Garlic Improves Cholesterol Levels, Which May Lower the Risk of Heart Disease–    Garlic can lower total and LDL cholesterol. For those with high cholesterol, garlic supplements appear to reduce total and/or LDL cholesterol by about 10–15%.   Looking at LDL (the “bad”) and HDL (the “good”) cholesterol specifically, garlic appears to lower LDL but has no reliable effect on HDL .  High triglyceride levels are another known risk factor for heart disease, but garlic seems to have no significant effects on triglyceride levels . 

6. Garlic Contains Antioxidants That May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia–  Oxidative damage from free radicals contributes to the aging process. Garlic contains antioxidants that support the body’s protective mechanisms against oxidative damage.  High doses of garlic supplements have been shown to increase antioxidant enzymes in humans, as well as significantly reduce oxidative stress in those with high blood pressure .  The combined effects on reducing cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as the antioxidant properties, may reduce the risk of common brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

7. Eating Garlic May Help Detoxify Heavy Metals in the Body–   At high doses, the sulfur compounds in garlic have been shown to protect against organ damage from heavy metal toxicity. A four-week study in employees of a car battery plant (excessive exposure to lead) found that garlic reduced lead levels in the blood by 19%. It also reduced many clinical signs of toxicity, including headaches and blood pressure.  Three doses of garlic each day even outperformed the drug D-penicillamine in reducing symptoms.

8. Garlic Is Easy to Include in Your Diet and Tastes Absolutely Delicious–  The last one is not a health benefit, but is still important. Garlic is very easy (and delicious) to include in your current diet. It complements most savory dishes, particularly soups and sauces. The strong taste of garlic can also add a punch to otherwise bland recipes. Garlic comes in several forms, from whole cloves and smooth pastes to powders and supplements like garlic extract and garlic oil.  However, keep in mind that there are some downsides to garlic, such as bad breath. There are also some people who are allergic to it. If you have a bleeding disorder or are taking blood-thinning medications, talk to your doctor before increasing your garlic intake. A common way to use garlic is to press a few cloves of fresh garlic with a garlic press, then mix it with extra virgin olive oil and a bit of salt.  This a healthy and super satisfying dressing.

The Bottom Line–  For thousands of years, garlic was believed to have medicinal properties. Science has now confirmed it. HEALTHLINE CHALLENGES


Want To Live Longer? Do These Four Things Daily

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By Jason Wachob

We all want to optimize our time on this planet and live the healthiest, longest lives possible. Joel Dudley, Ph.D., and Chris Mason, Ph.D., the founders of Onegevity, an AI-driven health care service, are committed to empowering people to better understand and take charge of their health through data-driven and customized solutions.

Dudley and Mason joined me on the mbg podcast to talk about what they believe doctors should be testing for, what we should be doing daily for our microbiome, and why prevention is critical for the future of health care.

A big topic here at mbg is longevity, and with advancements in genetic, microbiome, and blood testing, we know more than ever before. In this episode, we delve deeper into all that, but here, they offer four things we can all be doing right now, today:

1. Present your body with new challenges.

A simple, cost-effective way to try to reverse the effects of aging is to present your body with new challenges. “Maintaining your body’s ability to respond dynamically to the environment is important,” explained Dudley. This could be why things like HIIT and cold exposure are linked with greater longevity. It boils down to flexing your body’s ability to respond to challenges that will, in turn, build resilience.

2. Get quality sleep.

When asked about one of the key factors in living a long life, Mason responded that sleep is crucial. As for how much? He says somewhere from six to eight hours is optimal and reminds us that some essential processes occur only during sleep. We discussed the new research on the glymphatic system that connects the brain with our immune system, and he suggested that sleep may be the only time the body can drain unwanted things out of our brains.

3. Move, move, and move.

The scientists point out that while certain diseases such as Huntington’s disease and cystic fibrosis are genetic and may be difficult to prevent, through lifestyle changes such as exercise, a good diet, and a healthy microbiome, we may be able to move the needle on things like cardiovascular risk, longevity, and cognitive clarity. Dudley says while intense exercise such as HIIT may improve longevity, taking time each day to walk is a great option. It’s less about what exactly you’re doing and more about getting out and moving in some way.

4. Get baseline testing.

Mason and Dudley recommend getting testing (genetic, microbiome, blood work) done so you can have a baseline of what things look like now, so down the line you and your provider have something to compare to. Whether you have health issues or not, having more information pieced together can help create a picture of what’s going on inside you and may mean more effective care.

Whether it’s longevity or cardiovascular, gut, or immune health, it’s important to remember that every part of our health story is connected. Mason and Dudley explain that it takes the whole picture to understand what’s going on inside, and they have us excited about what the future of health looks like.


Nutrition Class with Millie Barnes in Riverside beginning January 16th!

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I am offering a 6 Weeks Nutrition Class beginning January 16th at Riverside Park United Methodist Church. We will study the basics of nutrition; how to meet your nutrient needs, how to lose weight, how to shop, eat out and many tips as to meal planning and cooking. Class is limited to 12 students, so sign up today!

I will review food diaries between classes to help you get on track.

Here is the link to register- (sign up before the 9th and get $5.00 off.   https://riversideparkumc.com/ministry/community-classes


Millions of Americans take vitamin D. Most should just stop.

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By Julia Belluz,

Americans love a quick health fix in pill form: something to protect against illness, with minimal effort. For years, one of the go-to supplements has been vitamin D, thought to do everything from preventing cancer to strengthening bones.

Some bad news: Yet another big meta-study adds to the pile of evidence that it’s useless for most people.

The new research, published in Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, looked at 81 randomized trials on whether vitamin D prevents fractures and falls, and improves bone mineral density in adults.

The findings of the review were unequivocal. “There is little justification for the use of vitamin D supplements to maintain or improve musculoskeletal health,” the authors wrote, except in rare cases when patients are at high risk of or being treated for rickets and osteomalacia.

“Something like 40 percent of older adults in the US take vitamin D supplements because they think it’s going to prevent against fractures and falls or cancer,” said Alison Avenell, the clinical chair of health services research at the University of Aberdeen and an author on the Lancet study, “and we’re saying the supplements for fractures and falls aren’t going to do that.”

This new research builds on previous meta-studies and the large-scale randomized trials that have shown the fat-soluble hormone doesn’t prevent fractures and may not have a role in preventing cancer, but can increase the risk of kidney stones when taken along with calcium.

Of course, there are some cases when supplementation can be helpful: During pregnancy, for example, or for people who have been diagnosed with health conditions that may lead to vitamin deficiencies, like liver disease or multiple sclerosis. People who don’t get into the sun at all, like the homebound or institutionalized, may also be prescribed a supplement.

But for a health boost in people with no symptoms of deficiency, the tablet shows so little utility that doctors are even questioning why we bother measuring vitamin D levels in people who aren’t at risk of deficiency. Most of us actually get enough vitamin D without even trying.

So why all the hype about vitamin D?

The hype about the vitamin during the past two decades started with early vitamin D science. Before researchers run randomized controlled trials, they often look for links between health outcomes and exposures in large-scale population research called observational studies. And early observational research on the benefits of vitamin D uncovered associations between higher levels of vitamin D intake and a range of health benefits.

But the studies could only tell about correlations between vitamin D exposure and disease outcomes, not whether one caused the other. Still, they were enough to fuel media hype. Dr. Oz called the supplement “the number one thing you need more of.” And the vitamin D industry helped create a craze by paying prominent doctors to expound on the benefits of testing and supplementation for everyone.

But more recent randomized trials — that introduce vitamin D to one group and compare that group with a control group — have shown little or unclear benefit for both vitamin D testing and supplementation in the general population. And reviews that take these trials together to come to more fully supported conclusions, like the new Lancet paper, are similarly lackluster.

In 2010, the Institute of Medicine (now known as the National Academy of Medicine) brought together an expert committee to review the evidence on the vitamin and figure out whether there was a widespread deficiency problem in North America. According to the 14-member panel, 97.5 percent of the population got an adequate amount of vitamin D from diet and the sun. (Vitamin D occurs naturally in fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks. It’s also found in fortified foods such as milk, orange juice, and cereal.)

“You are at risk of D deficiency only if you have no sun exposure, live above 55 degrees latitude, and do not eat vitamin D-fortified foods or fluids [like milk],” said Chris Gallagher, a professor of Medicine at Creighton University, who wrote a comment about the new Lancetpaper. “About 80 to 90 percent of vitamin D comes from sunlight, and even 15 minutes in the midday will boost vitamin D levels to a good level.”

Still, testing and supplementation have exploded in the US. Between 2000 and 2010, the amount Medicare spent on vitamin D testing rose 83-fold, making the test Medicare’s fifth most popular after cholesterol. All that screening also led to an explosion in vitamin D supplement use, and millions of Americans now pop daily vitamin D pills.

When I asked Avenell what she thinks about the fact that so many people are diagnosed with deficiencies, she said, “It can’t be the case that just about the entire population is deficient in Vitamin D. It’s such an important nutrient, the body must have ways of making sure it doesn’t get short.”


Exercising Just *THIS* Much Can Help Prevent Depression

exercise may prevent depression

Depression is one of the most common—and most stigmatized—illnesses of our time. To help people understand it, cope with it, and heal from it, Well+Good Council member and practicing psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, MD, regularly talks about prevention and treatment. Now, emerging research finds even more evidence that exercise can help ward off depression in some people. Here, Dr. Ramsey explains why these findings are so promising…and why you might want to lace up your running shoes today.

Exercise is one of those recommendations everybody loves to dish out. It’s easy to say, but sometimes hard to do. Yet nothing makes us feel healthier, than, well, being healthier. When I evaluate patients struggling with their mood, understanding a person’s relationship with exercise is key. Why? Turns out that if you want to prevent clinical depression, exercise might be the most effective “treatment.”

Now there’s even more evidence to support that idea. A new piece of research sheds some light on the subject, and it’s made me double down on my prescriptions for planks, burpees, and pull-ups. (Yeah, pull-ups! A 75 year old woman I treat just did her first.) The HUNT Cohort Study (Nord-Trøndelag Health Study) followed over 33,908 people for over 11 years. When researchers started the study in 1985, participants were screened to ensure that they were healthy, had no history of depression, and were not acutely depressed.

About 10 to 12 percent of clinical depression could be prevented if all adults exercised for a little over an hour a week.

The investigators also measured individual exercise habits, then continued to follow the individuals over the next 30 years. Over the course of the study, about 7% of participants became depressed.

Here’s what researchers found: Exercising for an average of only 90 minutes per week had a significant effect in preventing depression. They estimated that compared with sedentary people, people who exercised an hour or more a week were 44% less likely to become depressed. The researchers estimated that about 10 to 12 percent of clinical depression could be prevented if all adults exercised for a little over an hour a week. Separately, a 2015 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that after 10 months, twice as many people got and stayed better when exercising as compared to those just taking the SSRI sertraline (Zoloft).

How about that for motivation? Next time you need inspiration to get moving or to push it to the next level, remember that you are fighting one of the most pernicious and disabling illnesses of our time: clinical depression. So exercise this week—and even better, get a friend to join you. You’ll be making planet Earth a more connected and less depressed place. And by the way, don’t stress too much about the type of exercise you get. Studies have shown several different kinds of exercise are effective, from weight lifting to interval training to running.

I want to be clear: Exercise alone is not a replacement for good mental health treatment. I’ve exercised my entire life, but I’ve also gone to therapy, psychoanalysis, eaten brain food, and worked on my mental health. Exercise can’t prevent depression in all cases, and certainly telling people struggling with depression simply to hit the gym is misinformed and stigmatizing.

With that said, in my clinical work as a psychiatrist, I see exercise as a reliable intervention to help people improve their mood and mental health. It’s also a great way to connect with others and yourself. What’s my ask of you? Use this science as a motivator to take care of your brain and be more resilient against depression, because the most beautiful thing about you is your brain.