Chronic Disease: Can Your Lifestyle Make a Difference?

 

Lately in the literature, lifestyle medicine has been mentioned as an effective practice that influences our overall health and risk of diseases in general. Many of the  leading causes of death in developed countries have been referred to as chronic diseases and ways to prevent these diseases is to practice a “healthy lifestyle”. But what does that exactly mean? Some research has suggested that our susceptibility to Covid-19 may even be altered by our lifestyles, obesity being named a risk factor.

In 1999, a Harvard-trained cardiologist, James E. Rippe published a textbook entitled Lifestyle Medicine in which he expressed his hope for a “new emphasis in medicine related to the links between daily behaviors and outcomes”. The idea slowly took root. In 2006, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, a Seventh Day Adventist institution in California, debuted the country’s first lifestyle medicine education program. A few years later the School of Medicine Greenville at the University of South Carolina went a step further, integrating lifestyle medicine into every facet of the curriculum and requiring prospective physicians in medical schools to spend 50 hours over two years covering the ways in which diet, nutrition and exercise impact the various organs and systems. Several other medical school programs have followed, that have been dedicated to the principals that healthy food, rich in nutrients, healthy fats, and lean protein, can be a potent weapon in the doctor’s bag.”

“How much a role does nutrition play in health? “It is the thing, says Jennifer Trilik , an associate professor at USC Greenville who directs the schools lifestyle medicine program. “if we’re talking about obesity, cardiovascular disease,  cancer, there’s so much evidence that saturated fat and trans-fat cause chronic inflammation, damaged the DNA and create growths in an adult body that shouldn’t be there. On the other hand, apples and blueberries have so many healthy antioxidants. We were made to eat whole foods and plant based foods, not processed ones out of a bag.

CLICK HERE.

Wearing a Mask?

FYI: What does wearing a mask have to do with FOOD, FACTS & FADS? Absolutely nothing! However,  I thought it was prudent to pass it along,  You may not agree, but there has been a lot of controversy recently as to whether to wear a mask or not due to the virus that continues to plague our lives. Sometimes it’s easy to just think that since there is less talk about COVID in the news, the virus magically will disappear – but alas, it is still out there, last I heard.

I don’t consider myself to be an infectious disease expert or public health official – but I do have a strong background in microbiology/immunology due to the fact I have a Masters Degree in Microbiology and I taught a course titled “Etiology of Infectious Disease” for several years. I also have  worked in academia in the department of Microbiology/Immunology at another major university where I participated in organizing and preparing for publication a textbook titled “Basic Medical Microbiology.

I have read several articles about the success of the Japanese with the viral spread, which in my opinion. gives a lot of credit to the benefits of wearing masks. Therefore, the following article just makes sense.  Stay safe!

Sally Feltner, MS, PhD

CLICK HERE.

 

 

 

 

Is Vitamin C a Valid Treatment for COVID19?

Just read an extensive article concerning the claims that intravenous vitamin C  therapy could be a valid treatment for COVID19. This therapy has been around for decades or at least since the 1970’s when the Nobel Prize winner, Linus Pauling promoted its oral use for curing or preventing the common cold and even as a cancer treatment. Proponents have once again emerged with the same claims concerning COVID19 virus treatment and/or cure with Intravenous vitamin C.

Bottom Line: There is no evidence that this occurs. According to one physician of Orthomolecular Medicine: “if you test people with pneumonia, Influenza or COVID19, you can measure and see that their vitamin C levels are low”; this tells us little if nothing.

Orthomolecular medicine promotes the premise that extremely high doses of natural substances help the body to address illness. For example, the Daily Value for vitamin C is only 90 mg/day (more than enough to prevent scurvy).  In orthomolecular medicine, at least 1500 mg/day would be required and more is better. Fortunately, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and is commonly excreted from the body in urine. However, there are side effects at high doses that include diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues.

A clinical trial in China is investigating the claim of intravenous vitamin C therapy and COVID19;  and it will be interesting if we hear any positive results when the study concludes next year.

Here are the facts as we know them.

CLICK HERE.

Vitamin D: An Anti Inflammatory Vitamin?

Vitamin D Foods

Study: Patients Low In Vitamin D Twice As Likely To Develop Severe COVID-19 Symptoms

Here are some facts about vitamin D.  It is important to remember that just one study is only an observation but can be used to form a hypothesis for further research.  Actually vitamin D is now thought of as a hormone that is involved with helping to build strong bones. Also as a hormone, it plays key  roles in combating chronic inflammation. It does this by entering cells and turning genes that produce Inflammatory substances “off” and those that produce substances that reduce inflammation “on.” In our days of living with the pandemic, we need to pay attention to the dietary factors that may help curtail the effects of the coronovirus or COVID-19.

Inadequate vitamin D status is common.

How to Improve your vitamin D status:

  • Substitute a cup of skim milk for a sweetened beverage at one meal or snack a day.
  • Eat salmon once a week at dinner.
  • Select a vitamin D-fortified orange juice.
  • Buy or select and consume vitamin D-fortified breakfast cereals.
  • Exercise or walk in sunshine for 10 minutes three times a week. Best to wear shorts or short sleeves for better exposure (weather dependent, of course). Vitamin D is manufactured from a form of cholesterol in skin cells upon exposure to ultra-violet rays from the sun. You cannot get too much vitamin D from sun exposure.
  • Take a vitamin D supplement (400-600 IU) daily until you are able to get enough vitamin D through dietary means. NOTE: Please get your doctor’s permission to take vitamin D supplements since it is classified as a fat soluble vitamin and can be toxic at high doses (4,000 IU/ is the upper Tolerable Level) or 100 ug/day.  Check labels carefully. Source: Nutrition Now, 7th Edition, Judith E. Brown

CLICK HERE.

Pseudoscience and COVID – 19

Haven’t we all heard of the days of the “snake oil salesmen?” Those days are not gone – they just take on new disguises.

We are bombarded with health claims and nutrition information – some of what we hear is accurate and based on science and some of it is incorrect or exaggerated to sell products or make news headlines more enticing.

As Timothy Caulfield, author of the following article puts it:

“Cow urine, bleach and cocaine have all been recommended as COVID-19 cures — all guff. The pandemic has been cast as a leaked bioweapon, a byproduct of 5G wireless technology and a political hoax — all poppycock. And countless wellness gurus and alternative-medicine practitioners have pushed unproven potions, pills and practices as ways to ‘boost’ the immune system.”

Haven’t we had enough conflicting information about the coronovirus pandemic – so why do some so-called “experts” add to the misinformation?  The following article from Timothy Caulfield titled “Pseudoscience and COVID-19  – we’ve had enough already” explores this issue.

Sorting out Health Information

  • Does it make sense? Does it pose a risk? Is it too outrageous to believe?
  • What’s the source?  Avoid anecdotal evidence or personal experiences.
  • Is it selling something? This is a strong red flag of motives. Was it based on good science? If a study, does this meet these standards?
  • Was each variable studied? Was it randomized? Was it double-blinded? Was the information interpreted accurately? Was there obvious bias reported by the authors, i.e. conflicts of interest?
  • Has it stood the test of time? Has the finding been shown repeatedly in different studies, not just one?

CLICK HERE

The Rising Rate of Obesity and Its Consequences

“The headlines this week broadcast the following research:  Doctors at NYU Langone Health center conducted the largest study so far of US hospital admissions for COVID-19, focused on New York City. They found obesity, along with age, was the biggest deciding factor in hospital admissions, which may suggest the role of hyper-inflammatory reactions that can happen in those with the disease.”

Just what are the latest facts and implications about our obesity epidemic in the U.S.?

This data is from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in February 2020 and presented in Life Extension Magazine, May 2020.

  • A startling result is that 42.4% of adults are obese. Additionally, 31.8% were overweight.
  • This situation is expected to not improve statistically. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine estimates that by 2030, the percentage of obese American adults will rise to 48.9%. These percentages reflect a total of $446 billion dollars of medical costs annually.
  • Women, African Americans, and those with a low socioeconomic status are affected at a significantly higher rate.

What are the medical implications?

  • Excess body weight increases the risk of developing and dying from a broad spectrum of cardiovascular diseases, cognitive disorders (e.g. Alzheimer’s) and at least 13 different types of cancers.
  • Obesity has been determined to be the underlying cause of approximately 20% of deaths in the United States.
  • An analysis of 57 studies encompassing 900,000 individuals published in Lancet found that for every 5 point increment in Body Mass Index was associated with a 30% increased mortality risk.
  • Additional negative effects of excess weight include fatty liver disease, sleep apnea, chronic pain syndromes like low back pain, IBS, osteoarthtis, depression, negative pregnancy outcomes, and chronic inflammation.

Foods that Kill

There are many factors that contribute to the rise in obesity rates; however, diet and lifestyle have recently been identified and collectively referred to as components of the Standard American Diet (SAD). One of these is processed food.

  • Processed foods tend to be high in added sugar, salt, oil and unhealthy fats are often mentioned as well as ultra-processed foods that are so altered that they hardly resemble their original whole-food state.
  • The food industry refers to them as an “industrial product” loaded with additives that attempt to enhance the food’s characteristics such as food stability, shelf life, textures, colors, and flavors. They are often referred to as emulsifiers, humectants, and sequestrants or others that have barely recognizable names.  Ultra-processed foods are often ready-to-eat, require minimal preparation and are highly marketed. Ultra-processed foods account for more than 60% of dietary energy in the U.S.
  • Populations that have the lowest intake of processed foods exist and have been recently studied and known as the Blue Zones. These are groups of individuals that live an average of 10 years longer than those in cultures who consume the SAD, otherwise known as the Western diet. These areas are found around the globe in Sardinia, Italy, Ikaria, Greece, Okinawa, Loma Linda, California, and Nicoya, Costa Rica.
  • An observational study of Spanish university graduates followed participants for a median of 10.4 years. Consumption of an average of 5.3 servings of ultra-processed food per day, compared to an average of less than 1.5 servings per day, was associated with a 62% increase for all-cause mortality. For each additional serving, this risk increased by 18%.

What Is the Optimal Diet?

There are numerable reports on the health benefits of vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based diets. However, there is one diet that has been studied extensively for its healthy effects called the Mediterranean Diet. There is no one Mediterranean diet; however, it is usually associated with the intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, extra-virgin olive oil, fish, seafood, moderate amounts of poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Red meat and sweets are limited as well as a low intake of processed foods.  A moderate intake of wine is acceptable. (moderate = 1-2 glasses).

Conclusions:
A possible molecular explanation for why overweight is harmful has been discovered by researchers. They suggest that overeating increases the immune response. This response causes the body to generate excessive inflammation  during the COVID-19 infection and that inflammation is at the core of many other chronic diseases.
University of Oslo. “Being overweight causes hazardous inflammations.” ScienceDaily, 25, August 2014.
If current trends continue and we find that 50% of our population is in the obese weight category, there will be alarming rates of catastrophic health consequences. Our health care costs will become unsustainable. It is a common belief that as long as you are not obese, you can be overweight and still be healthy. This is not always true. Many studies have found that a higher weight was associated with a higher risk of dying; however, this has remained  a major debate issue among obesity experts.

Pandemics? A History

An excellent essay from the New England Journal of Medicine (March 13, 2020).

“Epidemics eventually resolve, whether succumbing  to societal action or having exhausted the supply of susceptible victims”. Viruses depend on us living to stay “alive”.

If history repeats itself, other pandemics can show us that Covid-19 will most likely follow the same paths. However, there are no magic bullets – it takes time.

CLICK HERE.

How to Boost Your Immune System

In our current environment of the coronavirus, we are told to stay healthy and take precautions such as hand washing, avoiding large crowds, cleaning surfaces, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, etc. No one seems to mention that  every second of every day the body is working to protect us from armies of hostile bacteria, fungi and viruses that swarm on our skin; yet we usually remain amazingly healthy most of the time.

The body has evolved to approach these foes – if you’re  not with us – you’re against us! So the components of the immune system work together to destroy any foreign invader. To implement that stance, it relies on two built-in defense systems, the innate defense system and the adaptive defense system that act both independently and cooperatively. However, it is extremely important to support this system with a healthy lifestyle for optimum functioning and its ability to keep us well. 

Innate defenses include:

Surface barriers (skin, mucous membranes)

Internal defenses (phagocytes, natural killer cells, inflammation, antimicrobial proteins, fever

Adaptive defenses include:

Humoral immunity (B cells, plasma cells, antibodies, memory cells)

Cellular immunity (Helper T cells, cytotoxic T-cells, memory cells)

These two systems are deeply intertwined and when operating effectively, they protect us from most infectious microorganisms, cancer cells, and (unfortunately) organ transplants and grafts.

CLICK HERE.