Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Study shows that to build more muscle, older adults should double their protein.

It's no secret that consuming protein assists your body when it comes to building muscle.  As you age your body's ability to build muscle declines especially if you also eat less protein.
It goes without saying that maintaining and building muscles is especially important for older individuals.

And if that's you, you'll be interested in new research that was recently presented in the American Journal of Physiology -- Endocrinology and Metabolism.

To set the stage, the current US recommendation for protein intake per day is 0.8 grams/kilogram of body weight (roughly 62 g of protein per day for a 170-pound person).  (An easy way to determine how many grams of protein you need each day is to times your body weight in pounds by .36.)

Researchers at the Center for Translational Research in Aging and Longevity at the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences studied 20 healthy adults between the ages of 52 and 75.  Half the participants ate the recommended daily amount of protein each day.  The other half ate double the amount.
The researchers noticed that they...

observed a definitive effect of a higher amount of protein intake in mixed meals on whole body net protein balance and muscle protein synthesis.  Whole body net protein balance was greater with protein intake above recommended dietary allowance."

In other words, if you double your protein, you'll build more muscle.

Although it's a relatively small study, other studies now also conclude that as you age your body needs more protein to maintain its muscle mass.  (Before making any alterations to your diet, check with your doctor.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Is binge-watching bad for your health?

Have you ever set aside an entire day and dedicated it to watching multiple episodes of your favorite TV show?

With the availability of DVD packages that contain entire seasons of shows and online streaming services, it's becoming more common.

Is binge-watching harmless?
A recent study conducted by the University of Texas at Austin found that the lonelier, more depressed you are, the more likely you are to binge-watch. 

They also found that people who suffer from a self-regulation deficiency are more likely to binge-watch more often -- viewers who, even though they had tasks to accomplish, were unable to stop clicking "next" when the time came to decide whether to watch another episode.

One of the co-authors of the study Yoon Hi Sung had this to say about binge-watching...

"Even though some people argue that binge-watching is a harmless addiction, findings from our study suggest that binge-watching should no longer be viewed this way.  Physical fatigue and problems such as obesity and other health problems are related to binge-watching and they are a cause for concern. When binge-watching becomes rampant, viewers may start to neglect their work and their relationships with others. Even though people know they should not, they have difficulty resisting the desire to watch episodes continuously. Our research is a step toward exploring binge-watching as an important media and social phenomenon."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Is the sunscreen you use putting your health at risk?

In their 2014 guide to safe sunscreens. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reviewed over 2000 sunscreens and over 257 brands and found that more than 75% of the sunscreens contained toxic chemicals.  Chemicals that increase your risk of cancer and potentially lead to other health issues such as skin irritation and allergic reactions.

The following is a list of some of the unsafe, toxic chemicals found in sunscreen that you’ll want to watch out for: 
para amino benzoic acid; octyl salicyclate; oxybenzone; cinoxate; dioxybenzone; phenylbenzimidazole; homosalate; menthyl anthranilate; octocrylene; methoxycinnamate; retinyl palmitate and parabens.

Oxybenzone is the most common ingredient found in sunscreens.  Oxybenzone has been linked to hormone disruptions and cell damage that may incite cancer.  Many sunscreens also contain retinyl palmitate (a form of Vitamin A) which scientists suspect may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight.

There are two types of sunscreens: mineral and non-mineral.  Non-mineral are the kind that penetrate the skin, and may potentially cause hormone disruption and result in an allergic reaction.  Mineral sunscreens contain zinc and titanium and are usually not absorbed - so they don't disrupt your body's hormones.  Plus they are not allergenic.

Another way to go is to make your own.  Simply take 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, 4 ounces of organic all natural hand lotion and two table spoons of zinc oxide; mix them all up together in a bowl and you've got a non-toxic sunscreen solution.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The surprising and welcome health benefits of dark chocolate.

Red wine has a much deserved reputation of containing antioxidants that protect your heart against heart disease.

According to researchers at the University of Southwestern Texas Medical Center in Dallas, the same heart-protecting antioxidants properties are also found in dark chocolate.
Which is great news if you are a chocolate lover.

Here are the specifics.  As nutrition expert John Robbins points out in his book No Happy Cows, the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol is considered to be a major factor in the promotion of coronary disease.  When it oxidizes it tends to stick to your artery walls, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.  However, the polypenols in chocolate inhibit the oxidation which also reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, a disease where plaque builds up in your arteries.
And there's more good news...
Robbins writes that consuming a small bar of dark chocolate each day can reduce the blood pressure of people who suffer from mild hypertension.

Plus, research done at the Department of Nutrition at the University of California found that dark chocolate thins the blood.  It essentially performs the same function that taking a baby aspirin each day does for people with the risk factors for heart disease.
How much do you need to eat to enjoy these benefits?  According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition only a half an ounce a day.

Two other selling features of dark chocolate?

It contains substances (such as phenethylamine) proven to put you in a better mood.  Plus it contains less sugar than milk chocolate.