Monday, February 22, 2010

"Change or Die," the Book, and Resolutions | The Fast Company Blog | Fast Company

"Change or Die," the Book, and Resolutions | The Fast Company Blog | Fast Company

Of course, any kind of profound change is very challenging. The fact that got me started on this two-year project was that 90 percent of patients with severe heart disease fail to change their unhealthy lifestyles even after their doctors tell them that they're in a "change or die" situation.

What can we do to improve the odds and make those New Years resolutions stick?

Start by realizing that it's hard to do away with our "problems" when those "problems" are actually our attempted "solutions" to deeper issues. For example, you might think that overeating is your problem, and so your New Years resolution is to go on a diet and lose weight. But what if overeating is the way you try to solve more fundamental problems such as stress, anxiety, loneliness, and existential despair? Overeating is an "attempted solution" to those deeper troubles. It's a bad solution, because ultimately it can undermine or ruin your health. But it's the "solution" that you know and trust.

In this case the way to change is to find other, better solutions to the underlying problems of stress, anxiety, and loneliness. Instead of going on a diet, you might want to take up yoga or meditation, or to get more involved in a social group or church. Instead of going back to the same "solution" that has failed you year after year when you make New Years resolutions--in this case, dieting--why not try a new solution?

The paradox, of course, is that these new solutions don't occur to us because of how we've framed the problem to begin with.

If you're interested in looking further into these issues, please pick up a copy of my new book "Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life." I also strongly recommend the writings of Dr. Richard Fisch, a pioneering psychologist. Fisch hit upon this fascinating approach of reframing problems and solutions back in the 1960s along with his colleagues at the Brief Therapy Center in Palo Alto, where he still practices.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Protective Role of Vitamin D on the Cardiovascular System

USPharmacist.com; Protective Role of Vitamin D on the Cardiovascular System

Heart disease is a broad term that describes a range of diseases that affect the cardiovascular system and result in approximately 630,000 deaths annually in the United States.1 Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death of both men and women above the age of 35 among all racial and ethnic groups.2 While risk factors such as increased age, male gender, and family history are nonmodifiable, others, such as smoking, high cholesterol, hypertension, physical inactivity, obesity, diabetes mellitus, and stress are preventable.2 Another possible modifiable risk factor, vitamin D deficiency, has been identified and has caused debates in the literature as the protective role of vitamin D on the cardiovascular system continues to be investigated. This article will expand on this proposed phenomenon, providing deeper insight into recently published literature, as well as discuss the pharmacist’s role in preventing vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D: The Basics

Vitamin D refers to two biologically inactive precursors: vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), produced mainly in the skin post exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), produced exogenously and entering the circulation solely after gastrointestinal absorption.3 Both vitamin D2 and D3 require hydroxylation reactions in the liver and kidney, closely regulated by the parathyroid hormone (PTH), to form the biologically active metabolite of vitamin D, 1,25(OH)2D (calcitriol).4 Vitamin D status is best measured by 25(OH)D concentrations or levels and not calcitriol levels for several reasons, including longer half-life (~3 weeks compared to ~8 hours for calcitriol), higher circulating serum concentrations, and tight regulation of calcitriol by PTH, resulting in falsely elevated calcitriol levels despite vitamin D deficiency.5 Currently, there is no universally accepted “normal” measure of 25(OH)D levels; however, it has been suggested that concentrations above 30 ng/mL are associated with decreased fracture rates and maximal parathyroid suppression.6

Although the classic function of vitamin D has been to increase the intestinal absorption of calcium for proper bone health, its role in health maintenance is beginning to expand with the finding of vitamin D receptors (VDRs) in many cells throughout the body, including cardiomyocytes, vascular smooth muscle, and endothelium.5,7 Additionally, recent studies have found that individuals with vitamin D deficiency have increased incidence of CVD.7

Article mentions Vitamin D and its effects on:
Atherosclerosis and Inflammation
Hypertension
Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome

Monday, February 15, 2010

Movement comes with appetite: Insulin supresses orexin

domain-b.com : Healthy eating: Movement comes with appetite:

A body that is provided with food too often gets caught up in the maelstrom of a lack of exercise, obesity and ultimately diabetes. The trigger is a molecular switch that is controlled by insulin, a new study by scientists from ETH Zurich has revealed.

[...]

The key switch player in this is a transcription factor called Foxa2. Transcription factors are proteins that make sure other genes are activated and converted into proteins.

Foxa2 is found in the liver, where it influences fat-burning, but also in two important neuron populations in the hypothalamus - the region of the brain that controls the daily rhythm, sleep, intake of food and sexual behavior. The control element for Foxa2 activity is insulin, in both the liver and the hypothalamus.

If a person or animal ingests food, the beta cells in the pancreas release insulin, which blocks Foxa2. When fasting, there is a lack of insulin and Foxa2 is active. In the brain, the scientists have discovered, Foxa2 assists the formation of two proteins: MCH and orexin.

[...]

These two brain messenger substances trigger different behaviour patterns: the intake of food and spontaneous movement. If mammals are hungry, they are more alert and physically active. In short, they hunt and look for food. "If you watch a cat or a dog before feeding it, you can see this very clearly", says Stoffel.

Explanation found for lack of movement
The researchers discovered a disorder in obese mice: in these animals, Foxa2 is permanently active, regardless of whether the animals are fasting or full. This explains a well-known but until now unaccountable phenomenon: the lack of movement in obese people and animals.

To prove this, the researchers used a genetic trick to breed mice, in the brains of which Foxa2 is always active, regardless of whether they have just eaten or are fasting.

These mice produce more MCH and orexin and move five times more than normal animals, in which insulin deactivates Foxa2 after eating or which are obese. The genetically modified mice lose fatty tissue and form larger muscles. Their sugar and fat metabolism works flat out and their blood values are considerably improved.

Three meals a day suffice
For Stoffel, the study clearly shows that, "The body needs fasting periods to stay healthy." Moreover, you should make sure you have a good body weight. He therefore doesn't think much of eating many little meals spread out over the day; it is better to eat less frequently but well, and leave room in between to get hungry.

After all, because insulin is released during every meal, thus suppressing Foxa2, the motivation to do physical exercise and burn sugar and fat visibly decreases.

(Original: Silva JP, von Meyenn F, Howell J, Thorens B, Wolfrum C, Stoffel M. "Regulation of adaptive behaviour during fasting by hypothalamic Foxa2". Nature. Epub 2009 December 3, doi: 10.1038/nature08589."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Magnesium and inflammation | The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D.

Magnesium and inflammation | The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D.

As the inflammatory hypothesis becomes more accepted, more and more physicians will be checking C-reactive protein levels—along with a few other inflammatory yardsticks—to determine the inflammatory status of their patients. If the C-reactive protein level is found to be elevated, then steps can be taken, not just to reduce the C-reactive protein, but to treat the underlying inflammation so that the C-reactive protein—a marker of this underlying inflammation—will normalize.

One easy step in the inflammation reduction process is to make sure magnesium intake is high.

The most recent issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition contains an article showing that as consumption of magnesium fell, the levels of C-reactive protein went up.

The paper points out that the majority of adults in the US (68%) don’t consume even the RDA of magnesium, which is, as far as I’m concerned, woefully low. Magnesium is an unbelievably important mineral for all sorts of body processes. Some 300+ enzymes use magnesium as a cofactor; magnesium helps regulate potassium status; magnesium acts as nature’s own calcium channel blocker, helping blood pressure stay down and blood vessels stay pliable; magnesium builds bones; magnesium is anti-inflammatory. The list of magnesium’s virtues goes on and on.

In fact, there exists an entire school of thought that posits that the entire Metabolic Syndrome is nothing but a manifestation of a a magnesium deficiency. Which isn’t as crazy as it sounds since virtually all the components of the Metabolic Syndrome—diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and lipid disorders—are associated with low magnesium.

Why are so many people deficient in magnesium? Because there are no single foods that contain huge amounts of magnesium, and because there is no single food containing large amounts, there is no magnesium lobby. Look at calcium. Thanks to the dairy industry, we are constantly told that we need to get enough calcium, and we’re told right where we can get it. Milk and cheese. Same with vitamin C. The orange juice people never let us forget. Not so with magnesium, so no one really thinks of it.

[...]

Magnesium is just about our favorite supplement. In fact, if we just had one supplement to recommend, and no other, it would be magnesium. Take it at bedtime because it helps you sleep.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Features of a successful therapeutic fast of 382 days' duration

Features of a successful therapeutic fast of 382 days' duration

Features of a successful therapeutic fast of 382 days' duration. Man fasted and loses 276 lbs.