Monday, 17 September 2018

Which Sport Increases Your Longevity the Most?

For most people, turning off Netflix, getting off the couch, and slipping in to their running shoes is a major challenge. But we keep trying to do it, because we all know that regular exercise has major health benefits. The biggest one? Those who participate in physical activity usually live longer than those who are sedentary. Pretty compelling reason to lace up, no?
A recent study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found nothing to contradict that. Exercise increases longevity much more than a sedentary lifestyle. However, how much of a boost does it give you? Does running offer the same life-extending benefits as biking or tennis?
It seems to be highly dependent on the activity. They results aren’t what you would expect. 


Here are the average life span increases the study determined for a number of different sports:
  • Running: + 3.2 years
  • Cycling: + 3.7 years
  • Soccer: + 5 years
  • Badminton: + 6.2 years
  • Tennis: + 9.7 years
Conclusion: Forget getting new running shoes. Picking up a racquet can help you gain quite a few extra years.


But why are those participating in racquet sports so much better off in terms of longevity? According to the study authors, “Interestingly, the leisure-time sports that inherently involve more social interaction were associated with the best longevity—a finding that warrants further investigation.”
Could more social interaction in your workouts hold the secret to increasing longevity? It’s very likely. Study after study has shown the benefits of strong relationships and social connectedness.  Not only do those with solid social networks generally feel happier and less stressed, but they are also healthier.
Social support has been linked to lower blood pressure, and a diverse collection of contacts is associated with better immune system functioning,” According to Scientific American. ”The list continues to grow, now encompassing other bodily processes such as wound healing and inflammation.”    
In fact, it seems that having a solid social network, both on and off the court, can increase your life span by as much as 50 percent! But bad news, social media “friends” don’t count. We need non-digital connections to reap benefits.
This is especially well demonstrated in Blue Zones: areas of the world where people live the longest and have strong social relationships. But you don’t need to live in a particular area of the world to experience the lifespan-boosting benefits of a strong social network. Just make more time for the good friends in your life!
So, if you love running or cycling, it might be wise to find a social group (or even just a friend) to run and ride with on a weekly basis. Or, just find a great tennis partner. Longevity and physical fitness aren’t about just raising your heart rate—they’re about social connectedness.

Are You Sensitive to Salicylic Acid?

Are you eating veggies, legumes, and other healthy whole foods, yet still suffering from baffling health issues? The salicylic acid in the plants may be to blame. 
A phenolic chemical that protects plants from bacteria, disease, and insects, salicylic acid is a common but often-overlooked sensitivity trigger. Salicylates, which include tannins, are found in certain beans, and nuts, berries, grapes, avocados, broccoli, spices, and many other foods. They are also a key ingredient in aspirin. Symptoms can range widely; they include asthma-like breathing issues, digestive woes, and migraines.
“Salicylate sensitivity and tannin intolerance are not allergies, because they rarely involve the immune system,” explains integrative physician Leo Galland, MD, author of The Allergy Solution. “They probably result from the ability of salicylates and tannins to inhibit enzymes.”
The most common culprit for salicylate sensitivity is red-wine tannin, followed by the tannin in black tea and coffee, raisins, and nuts, he says. Artificial salicylates are used as a preservative in some fruit juices, chocolate, processed meats, beer, and wine.
Just over one percent of people suffer salicylate sensitivity, Galland says, and there are no simple, reliable tests for identifying it. He recommends an elimination diet to track down offending foods — but he also warns that this is an inexact test because foods contain multiple ingredients, any of which could be the culprit.
He also offers these tips for pinpointing and managing a salicylate sensitivity:
  • Keep a food journal noting which foods containing salicylates and tannins affect you, and steer clear.
  • Find low-salicylate alternatives. White wine is much lower in tannins than red wine; white beans have less salicylic acid than red or black beans; and cashews have lower levels than almonds. For a handy reference of food salicylate levels, see Salicylate Intolerance: The Complete Guide, by Christine Sexton, MPH, RD.
  • Enhance your digestive and detox capabilities. Salicylates and tannins inhibit our digestive enzymes and block absorption and detoxification, Galland explains. If your sensitivity is not extreme, he suggests eating foods containing salicylates and tannins separately from other foods to aid your digestion.
He also notes that you can build your overall “ability to detoxify by eating a nutritionally dense diet, maintaining a nontoxic home environment, and eating foods that enhance detoxifying ability, like broccoli sprouts.”

If You Take Dietary Supplements, Beware of This Ingredient

New research warns of supplements containing the potentially harmful cardiovascular stimulant known as higenamine.
The idea of dietary supplements is undeniably attractive: Silver bullets made from natural ingredients that promise to enhance certain functions and boost health. With this in mind, here in the United States we spend $40 billion a year on vitamins, herbs, minerals, and botanicals. The problem is that many of them don’t deliver on their claims, and even worse, may contain harmful ingredients. In the U.S., supplements do not require FDA approval before hitting the shelves; and in fact, the FDA has to prove a supplement is not safe before they can remove it from the market. 
Which may be the reason why some 23,000 people a year end up in the emergency room after taking a supplement.
Earlier we wrote about 15 harmful supplement ingredients to avoid, but now we have another one to add to the list.
A new peer-reviewed study of weight-loss and sports/energy supplements found “unpredictable and inaccurately labeled dosages” of the potentially harmful cardiovascular stimulant, higenamine – which also goes by the names “norcoclaurine” and “demethylcoclaurine.” Two years ago the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited higenamine for use in sports.
The independent study was conducted by scientists at the global public health organization NSF International, Harvard Medical School, and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in the Netherlands.
“We’re urging competitive and amateur athletes, as well as general consumers, to think twice before consuming a product that contains higenamine,” says John Travis, Senior Research Scientist at NSF International and a co-author of the study. “Beyond the doping risk for athletes, some of these products contain extremely high doses of a stimulant with unknown safety and potential cardiovascular risks when consumed. What we’ve learned from the study is that there is often no way for a consumer to know how much higenamine is actually in the product they are taking.”
The researchers analyzed 24 readily-available supplements, mostly sold for weight loss and energy, that included higenamine in their ingredients. Of the 24 products tested, only five of them listed a specific amount of higenamine on the label; none of those quantities were accurate. Based on the labeled directions for use, consumers could be exposed to up to 110 mg of higenamine daily, the researchers explain.
“Some plants, such as ephedra, contain stimulants. If you take too much of the stimulants found in ephedra, it can have life-threatening consequences. Similarly, higenamine is a stimulant found in plants,” says Dr. Pieter Cohen, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a co-author of the study. “When it comes to higenamine, we don’t yet know for certain what effect high dosages will have in the human body, but a series of preliminary studies suggest that it might have profound effects on the heart and other organs.”

Is there Lead in Your Protein Powder?

In a recent study, 70 percent of protein powders tested contained detectable levels of lead.
If you’ve been mixing protein powder into your smoothie, you may be getting more than you bargained for. Seventy percent of the 134 powders tested by the nonprofit Clean Label Project in January 2018 contained detectable levels of lead; 74 percent tested positive for cadmium; and 55 percent contained bisphenol A (BPA). 
Certified-organic powders, surprisingly, contained more than twice the amount of heavy metals, on average, as nonorganic products (though 40 percent less BPA). Plant-based powders had higher heavy-metal levels than animal-based ones.
At first glance, these results may seem alarming. Lead toxicity can cause infertility, nerve disorders, and cognitive difficulties. Consuming unsafe amounts of cadmium could lead to kidney damage or cancer, and BPA has been linked to metabolic syndrome, thyroid dysfunction, and heart disease.
Still, it’s important to exercise caution when reviewing studies by consumer advocacy groups: This research was not peer reviewed and is just one lab analysis of the powders.
“Heavy metals exist naturally in our environment, and our produce absorbs them through the soil,” explains Paul Kriegler, RD, nutrition program manager for Life Time* in Chanhassen, Minn. A “detectable level” of lead isn’t necessarily unsafe, though Kriegler points out that many people may consume multiple servings of protein powder per day, and such toxins could accumulate in the body.
For those who choose to use protein powder, Kriegler recommends investing in a product with high-quality ingredients. Of all the products tested, powders that used egg as the primary protein source were deemed “cleanest.” “It’s a good reminder to revisit what’s in your supplement cabinet and why,” he adds. (For more on the study, go to
*Life Time’s protein powders were not included in this study. Kriegler affirms that every batch of Life Time’s products is tested to verify that contaminant levels are well below acceptable limits.

Dark chocolate is not as healthy as you think (but you should enjoy it anyway)

Who hasn't clicked on an attention grabbing headline espousing the benefits of dark chocolate consumption, then catalogued it as mental evidence of your pursuit of wellness next time you cracked off a row or three?
Milk and white chocolate are now firmly out-of-favour with the health-seeking set, seen as sugar-laden "sometimes" foods that provide little benefit other than thatmouth feel.
Dark chocolate, though, is a different story. 
Thanks to pervasive "cocoa is good for you" headlines, we now practically congratulate ourselves for eating chocolate, believing its potent flavonoids and magnesium is probably doing our heart and broader health a world of good. 
From preventing blood clotting to reducing blood pressure to potentially preventing heart attacks and strokes, it's comforting to know that chocolate could be as helpful as it is delicious. 
But before you feel all super-fooded by your 70 percent-plus dark chocolate choice, it's worth bearing in mind that the chocolate industry has poured millions into research into cocoa's health benefits to convince you it's a health food.
And while that doesn't mean that there aren't antioxidants in dark chocolate, dietitians say it's hardly a tonic. 
So should we keep consuming chocolate? Of course! Just don't do it for the health benefits – do it for that decadent taste.  
"We all love chocolate and yes dark chocolate does have some flavonoids — but it's very calorie-dense," Jane Freeman, accredited practising dietitian and Dietitians Association of Australia spokesperson, tells Coach.
"If you're really serious about boosting heart health, it's much more beneficial to focus on eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds and lean meats, then enjoy chocolate as a treat food."
Freeman says that in order to get enough of the heart-healthy antioxidants in chocolate, you'd need to eat up to 100g, which brings with it a fair whack of calories largely via ingredients like butterfat and sugar.
"[If you love chocolate], enjoy it as an occasional treat food and a serve is probably a row of chocolate," Freeman says.
In order to really maximise your nutrition while enjoying your chocolate, she  suggests combining it with another food so you're filled up and your chocolate craving is satisfied.
"Drizzle it on some lovely fresh strawberries or have a hot chocolate with skim milk so you get some protein and calcium and a few more nutrients."

Daily aspirin unnecessary for healthy older people, new study finds

Older people in good health may be taking aspirin unnecessarily, new research suggests.
The study, which involved 19,114 people, mostly over the age of 70, also found that aspirin was linked with an increased risk of serious bleeding, in line with previous findings. 
Researchers who worked on the study believe that a low dose of the blood-thinning medicine, taken everyday, has limited benefits for older people who are hoping to prolong their good health.
The study’s authors found that aspirin taken daily by healthy adults over 70 did not significantly reduce the risk of non-fatal heart attacks, coronary heart disease and strokes.
The results of the Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) trial were published in three papers in the New England Journal of Medicine
Professor John McNeil, of Monash University, Australia, said that the findings show that many older people may be taking the medicine “unnecessarily”.
But he stressed that the results do not apply to people who have existing conditions, such as those who have had previous heart attacks, strokes or angina.
Aspirin is recommended for these conditions to prevent further illness.
Around half the people taking part in the study were told to take a 100mg low dose of aspirin every day and the other half were given a placebo.
Researchers followed up on on the study’s impact after around five years. 
They found similar rates of heart attacks, strokes, dementia and disability between the two groups.
3.8 per cent of aspirin takers experienced serious internal bleeding, compared with 2.8 per cent in the placebo group. 
Previous studies have linked aspirin to an increased risk of stomach bleeding in the over 75 age group.
The ASPREE study also found that the aspirin group were at a slightly increased risk of death, with 5.9 per cent of the group dying during the study compared with 5.2 per cent of the placebo group. But researchers say the deaths may be coincidental and require further investigation. 
“Despite the fact that aspirin has been around for more than 100 years, we have not known whether healthy older people should take it as a preventive measure to keep them healthy for longer,” said Professor McNeil.
“Aspirin is the most widely used of all preventive drugs and an answer to this question is long overdue. ASPREE has provided this answer.”
“It means millions of healthy older people around the world who are taking low dose aspirin without a medical reason may be doing so unnecessarily, because the study showed no overall benefit to offset the risk of bleeding,” he added.
The research was led by Monash University in Australia and the Berman Centre for Outcomes and Clinical Research in the US.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

These Common Products Contain Formaldehyde, a Known Carcinogen.

According to Politico, the current EPA is suppressing and delaying the release of a “report that warns that most Americans inhale enough formaldehyde vapor in the course of daily life to put them at risk of developing leukemia and other ailments.”


The agency completed the drafted report in late 2016, yet it continues to stonewall. This is hugely problematic, because even though we have long known about the hazards of formaldehyde, this new report paints formaldehyde as much more dangerous and carcinogenic than we previously believed.
The report links formaldehyde inhalation with a greater risk of developing nose and throat cancer, leukemia, and other diseases.
Unfortunately, formaldehyde is one of the most commonly used chemicals in the country. “The new assessment would give greater weight to warnings about the chemical’s risks and could lead to stricter regulations from the EPA or class-action lawsuits targeting its manufacturers, as frequently occurs after these types of studies are released.” 
Essentially, this new report could lead to stricter regulations, which would be a win for all consumers. It’s been a long time coming. The National Toxicology Program has already deemed formaldehyde a known human carcinogen. Yet, companies continue to use it widely in manufacturing. And eventually, it winds up off-gassing into the air of our homes.


Until the EPA gets its act together and starts putting stronger regulations on formaldehyde, educate yourself. Here are some of the most common household items that contain formaldehyde and tips for reducing your daily exposure.

Mattresses and Pillows

Most mattresses are made out of polyurethane foam, which is petroleum-based—yes, even your beloved Tempur-Pedic. This foam is often infused with formaldehyde resin. The same is usually true for foam pillows.

Bed Sheets

Any sheets that are “wrinkle-free” or “permanent press” are usually treated with a formaldehyde resin. Since you are spending a third of your life in bed, you probably don’t want to be breathing in carcinogens every time you get snuggly. Instead, look for organic bedding. There are plenty of conscious, chemical-free brands out there, though they do tend to cost a little extra.


Formaldehyde is widely used in the glue that holds particle boards together. Choose furniture made from real wood, or choose used furniture which has likely already off-gassed the bulk of its formaldehyde. And if you’d like to avoid toxic flame retardant chemicals while you’re at it, look for new furniture with this helpful label.

Air Fresheners

Artificial fragrances are loaded with chemicals, including formaldehyde. Do you really want to be spraying carcinogens into your bathroom air? Instead, opt for natural essential oil-based options, like clean soy or coconut wax candles or wonderful, non-toxic sprays like punny Poo-Pourri.

Conventional Nail Polish and Remover

Unless you’re actively buying clean, chemical-free nail polish brands, you may be inadvertently painting your nails with a cocktail of toxic chemicals. Nail polish contains the highest density of formaldehyde of any consumer products—up to five percent. And the same goes for nail polish remover, which is practically paint stripper. Always go the non-toxic route.


If your fabric is shrink-resistant (especially wool), color-fast, stain resistant, or waterproof, it has most likely been treated with a formaldehyde resin.


Currently, formaldehyde is nearly unavoidable in your daily life. So, take extra precautions around your house to keep the air fresh.
Keeping your house low-humidity, freshening the air with open windows for a few minutes each day, and using a quality air purifier that reduces VOCs (volatile organic compounds) like formaldehyde are good practices to adopt.
And on the whole, be a more conscious consumer, because sometimes regulation come too late.