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healthy-eating-path

Reducing Calories May Help You Live Longer


Mounting evidence suggests that we may be able to live a longer, healthier life by strategically restricting our energy intake. For many years the scientific community has known that a surplus of energy intake results in the storage of fat, which is linked to chronic disease, and premature death. However, now emerging evidence suggests that restricting calories may be able to slow the rate in which we age. Aging can be categorized as either primary or secondary. Primary aging is considered inevitable at the date of this publishing and is the biological maturing and eventual breakdown that accompanies the years of age beyond 30.  Secondary aging comes from external influences such as obesity and lifestyle factors that cause cellular damage and is not part of the natural aging process. (2)

What is calorie restriction? Calorie restriction describes a process where one limits the amount of food they consume. The term calorie is a shortened term originating from kilocalorie and is used as a measurement of food energy. When the body has an excess of calories beyond what it needs to function it stores those calories in our body as fat. Despite the diet industry’s most sincere efforts and propaganda, studies still do not support the effectiveness of one fad diet over another for weight loss. (13) This means, weight gain, and weight loss are ultimately determined by the number of calories consumed, and the number of calories expended.

Earlier we identified obesity as contributing to secondary aging. The scientific community has established that being overweight, or obese dramatically increases your risk of cancer, heart disease, and type II diabetes, among other chronic disease, thereby reducing life expectancy. In fact, people that are 100 pounds or more overweight can expect a life expectancy that is nearly 14 years less than the national average. This is a shorter life expectancy than that of someone who is of a healthy weight and smokes cigarettes. (3, 12) A calorie reduction below what your body is expending results in weight loss, and for those who have a higher than healthy level of body fat, can expect a reduction in not just their weight but in secondary and primary aging.

There are many misconceptions of what constitutes being overweight or obese.  A person is classified as being overweight if they have a BMI (body mass index) of 25 or higher, and obese if they have a BMI of 30 or higher. BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your squared height in meters. BMI is likely a fair indicator if you are relatively inactive. If you are engaged in a fitness program or are an athlete, an alternative approach to determining healthy weight is by determining percentage of body fat. A healthy body fat is typically considered to be between 8-22% for men and 20-35% for women (aged 18-34).  A classification of obese may be assigned if someone has a body fat percentage of 26% or higher for men and a body fat of 39% or higher for women. (7) As always if you’re not sure where you fit into these metrics see a credentialed fitness professional or consult with your primary care provider.

It is estimated a calorie deficit of 200-500 calories daily is required to achieve healthy weight loss. Two ways to achieve this deficit are to reduce calorie consumption and increase calorie burn (expenditure). Calorie burn can be increased through additional physical activity; however, it should be cautioned that one can consume calories at a far faster rate than physical activity can burn them. As an example, it is estimated that a 180-pound man burns approximately 14 calories per minute jogging (1). As a point of reference, a single Hershey kiss contains 22 calories.  The lesson here is to use physical activity in addition to a nutritious diet, not in place of a nutritious diet.  (For more information on a nutritious diet visit choosemyplate.gov.) Give special attention to the section on vegetables, especially non-starchy vegetables as they are high in vitamins and minerals and low in calories.

For persons of a healthy weight, calorie restriction appears to offer slowed primary aging. The current school of thought is that primary aging is slowed as a result of a protective cellular reaction triggered by the calorie restriction. There is still much we do not know about the mechanisms responsible for this anti-aging phenomenon and some debate among scientists exists. However, the most common consensus among scientists is that this reaction collectively comes from activating sirtuins, increasing AMPK, impacting MTOR, and an improvement in blood sugar. (8,10,15,16,17,18) If you do not know what any of that means here’s a quick break down but don’t fret if you are not familiar with the lingo.

  • Sirtuins are responsible for DNA expression and control acetyl groups, as well as activate the mitochondrial antioxidant function. (8,16,17) Oxidative damage is believed to play a role in primary aging. Acetyl groups are important because they control the energy that proteins use during cell replication.
  • AMPK (Adenosine Monophosphate Protein-activated Kinase) detects the presence of nutrients or prolonged absence of nutrients, which then triggers the fragmentation/breakdown of damaged mitochondrial components (mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell) that need to be rebuilt, increasing mitochondrial health and efficiency. (4,16,17)
  • MTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin), specifically TORC1 regulates protein building and cell growth. It is theorized a reduction in TORC1 and in turn a reduction of cellular division results in reduced DNA damage, and less inflammation. (11,17)
  • In terms of handling blood sugar, there are two important molecules at work. These proteins are Thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP), and Thioredoxin-1. When TXNIP is stimulated by insulin (which results when we eat) cell stress resistance is reduced resulting in increased oxidative damage to DNA. It is theorized that during calorie restriction, Thioredoxin-1 increases which increases oxidative stress resistance, increases nonoxidative glucose disposal, and increases insulin sensitivity (improves use of insulin and absorption of sugar) as well as reduces damage to DNA (and thus slowed DNA aging) (10,15).

Regardless of how precisely these mechanisms work or interact what we currently believe and have pieced together is a reduction in calories likely:

  • Triggers a protective response in the body that helps:
    • Protect mitochondria from free radical damage (mitochondria are the energy makers of the cells)
    • Increases cell sensitivity to insulin and in turn increases absorption of blood sugar into the muscle
    • Induces cellular stress resistance and cell cleansing, which shuts off cell replication. Think of cell replication like a copy machine, if you do not use the original for each copy, but instead use a copy to make a copy, each time the copy gets blurrier. This is thought to also occur in our cells, therefore the less copies we make or the slower we make them the slower the aging process occurs.
  • Appears to reduce risk of age-related diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
  • Begins at 10%-40% reduction in calories per day (from normal)
  • Starvation is too far! You still need to get the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients required to aid your body in recovery, and immune function otherwise your efforts will be counterproductive, which can be done by increasing your consumption of non-starchy vegetables.
  • Calorie restriction can be accomplished by all types of fasting schemes. For example, fasting can take place daily for 12-16 hours, every other day, or over the weekends only. The important thing is achieving that 10%-40% reduction while still getting the proper nutrition necessary. (5)

The takeaway here is achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is the first step to a healthy lifespan and the incorporation of strategically fasting, may bring additional health and longevity. Fasting has been embedded in our culture in many ways from traditional religious observances as well in the fitness industry, but the question is what scheme and plan will work best for you. Most would agree it’s the health span (length of superior quality of life attributed to good health) more than the lifespan that’s important, and while there is currently no fountain of youth this appears to be a good place to start.

Remember, of course, to consult with your primary care provider before undergoing dietary changes.


Jeremy Kring holds a Master’s degree in Exercise Science from the California University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor’s degree from Duquesne University. He is a college instructor where he teaches the science of exercise and personal training. He is a certified and practicing personal/fitness trainer, and got his start in the field of fitness training in the United States Marine Corps in 1998. You can visit his website at jumping-jacs.com

References

  • American Council on Exercise. (2009). Retrieved from https://acewebcontent.azureedge.net/assets/education-resources/lifestyle/fitfacts/pdfs/fitfacts/itemid_2666.pdf
  • Anstey, K., Stankov, L., & Lord, S. (1993). Primary aging, secondary aging, and intelligence. Psychology and Aging8(4), 562–570. doi: 10.1037//0882-7974.8.4.562
  • Tobacco-Related Mortality. (2018, January 17). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/tobacco_related_mortality/index.htm.
  • Cantó, C., & Auwerx, J. (2011). Calorie Restriction: Is AMPK a Key Sensor and Effector?Physiology, 26(4), 214–224. doi: 10.1152/physiol.00010.2011
  • Derous, D., Mitchell, S. E., Wang, L., Green, C. L., Wang, Y., Chen, L., … Speakman, J. R. (2017). The effects of graded levels of calorie restriction: XI. Evaluation of the main hypotheses underpinning the life extension effects of CR using the hepatic transcriptome. Aging9(7), 1770–1824. doi:10.18632/aging.101269
  • Hadad, N., Unnikrishnan, A., Jackson, J. A., Masser, D. R., Otalora, L., Stanford, D. R., … Freeman, W. M. (2018). Caloric restriction mitigates age-associated hippocampal differential CG and non-CG methylation. Neurobiology of aging67, 53–66. doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2018.03.009
  • Howley, Edward T., and Dixie L. Thompson. Fitness Professionals Handbook. Human Kinetics, 2017.
  • Imai, S. I., & Guarente, L. (2016). It takes two to tango: NAD+and sirtuins in aging/longevity control. NPJ aging and mechanisms of disease2, 16017. doi:10.1038/npjamd.2016.17
  • Jacobs, Patrick L. NSCAs Essentials of Training Special Populations. Human Kinetics, 2018.
  • Johnson, M. L., Distelmaier, K., Lanza, I. R., Irving, B. A., Robinson, M. M., Konopka, A. R., … Nair, K. S. (2016). Mechanism by Which Caloric Restriction Improves Insulin Sensitivity in Sedentary Obese Adults. Diabetes65(1), 74–84. doi:10.2337/db15-0675
  • Jossé, L., Xie, J., Proud, C. G., & Smales, C. M. (2016). mTORC1 signalling and eIF4E/4E-BP1 translation initiation factor stoichiometry influence recombinant protein productivity from GS-CHOK1 cells. Biochemical Journal, 473(24), 4651–4664. doi: 10.1042/bcj20160845
  • Kitahara CM, et al. Association between Class III Obesity (BMI of 40–59 kg/m) and Mortality: A Pooled Analysis of 20 Prospective Studies. PLOS Medicine. July 8, 2014. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001673.
  • Kuchkuntla, A.R., Limketkai, B., Nanda, S. et al. (2018). Fad Diets Hype or Hope?. Current Nutrition Reports 7: 310. doi.org/10.1007/s13668-018-0242-1
  • Mitchell, S. E., Delville, C., Konstantopedos, P., Hurst, J., Derous, D., Green, C., … Speakman, J. R. (2015). The effects of graded levels of calorie restriction: II. Impact of short term calorie and protein restriction on circulating hormone levels, glucose homeostasis and oxidative stress in male C57BL/6 mice. Oncotarget6(27). doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.4003
  • Oberacker, T., Bajorat, J., Ziola, S., Schroeder, A., Röth, D., Kastl, L., … Krammer, P. H. (2018). Enhanced expression of thioredoxin-interacting-protein regulates oxidative DNA damage and aging. FEBS letters592(13), 2297–2307. doi:10.1002/1873-3468.13156
  • Picca, A., Pesce, V., & Lezza, A. (2017). Does eating less make you live longer and better? An update on calorie restriction. Clinical interventions in aging12, 1887–1902. doi:10.2147/CIA.S126458

(-) “When and+ accumulates, such as during scarcity of nutrients especially glucose, sirtuins are activated….”

  • Son, D. H., Park, W. J., & Lee, Y. J. (2019). Recent Advances in Anti-Aging Medicine. Korean journal of family medicine40(5), 289–296. doi:10.4082/kjfm.19.0087
  • Speakman, J.R. & Mitchell, S.E. (2011) Calorie Restriction. Molecular Aspects of Medicine, Jun:32(3):159-221. doi: 10.1016/j.mam2011.07.001

 

 

 

woman-walking-dirt-road

Restoring Health: A Lifestyle Rx

America is in bad shape. According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), 60% of adults are living with one chronic disease and 40% have two or more.(1)  Astoundingly, 12% of adults are living with 5 or more chronic conditions(2) including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, coronary obstructive pulmonary disease and hypertension. A concept people need to understand is that these diseases can be prevented, managed and even reversed with lifestyle choices.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown a bright light on how our level of health can literally be a matter of life or death. A study of thousands of patients hospitalized with the novel coronavirus in the New York City area found that 94% had one chronic disease and 88% had two or more. The most common conditions included hypertension, obesity and diabetes.(3) In May of this year, the CDC reported that people with an underlying chronic illness had six times the risk of being hospitalized and twelve times the risk for dying.(4)

Boost Health & Immunity

Now is the right time to take small steps to improve health and build immune resilience with daily lifestyle choices. While there isn’t one diet, exercise regimen, or stress-relieving technique that is good for everyone, there are principles to follow that can boost health and vitality at any age.

There is a huge misconception that our genes determine our health destiny. This simply isn’t true. The study of epigenetics shows that we have the ability to change the expression of our genes by the way we think, feel, move and eat.(5) Each of our daily decisions and choices can increase or decrease inflammation in the body, moving us towards disease or back to health.

Acute & Chronic Inflammation

Our immune system uses the ancient, biological pathway of inflammation to protect us against injury and infections.(6) When you cut your finger, immune cells are sent to kill invading bacteria and begin the process of wound healing. This is acute inflammation that goes away in days or weeks when the body is healed.

One the other hand, chronic inflammation lasts a long time, from months to years.(2) It’s basically an abnormal immune response that causes damage to cells, tissues and organs. Oxidative stress plays a big role; it occurs when more free radicals are produced within cells than the body can neutralize.(2)  As you can imagine, when more damage occurs than can be repaired, health problems crop up.

It is now widely accepted that chronic inflammation is at the root of most, if not all, chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, cancer, arthritis and joint disease.(2)

Lifestyle Matters

The good news is that deliberate and healthier lifestyle choices can prevent, manage and even reverse chronic inflammatory disease, the most important cause of morbidity and mortality facing people today.(7) It’s empowering to know that if you have, or want to prevent a chronic disease, you can regain your health and vitality by choosing real whole foods, optimizing sleep, reducing stress, being social, and moving more.

You may be thinking, “How the heck can simple lifestyle decisions address the complexities of chronic conditions?”  The body has an innate ability and intelligence to heal itself. You experience it each time you cut your hand; you wash the wound, put a bandage on and don’t have to think about it.

The research also supports it and I have lived it; by utilizing the power of lifestyle medicine I was able to restore my health from the ravages of chronic Lyme disease. You just need to provide the right environment for healing. This is not an easy task, but it can be done with time, effort and a plan.

Taking Action

Changing your lifestyle habits can feel overwhelming. To help you embrace this challenge, think about this analogy, “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!”   Any healing journey begins with awareness, learning and exploration; then gradually taking action, one small step at a time.

Start today by exploring lifestyle behaviors that decrease inflammation and can put your health back on track so you can live with less pain, more energy, and greater vitality. A lifestyle prescription to restore health includes:

  • Reducing stress with deep breathing.
  • Getting good quality sleep by going to bed and rising at the same time.
  • Eating a plant-based diet rich in a rainbow of vegetables.
  • Hydrating with filtered water in the morning and during the day.
  • Nurturing relationships and engaging with positive people.
  • Moving well with good posture when performing daily activities and exercise.

Be proactive, make one hour a week to learn more by reading books, researching on PubMed.gov, listening to podcasts, attending lectures and webinars so you can find the strategies and practices that work best for you. As you begin to feel better, you will naturally be motivated to continue learning and making better lifestyle choices because healthy feels so good!

Find a Fitness or Allied Health Pro Near You

Search the free MedFit Network directory to locate a professional near you! MedFit Network maintains a free directory of fitness and allied healthcare professionals who can work with individuals with chronic disease, medical conditions or the senior population.


Cate Reade, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian, Exercise Physiologist and Functional Medicine Practitioner candidate on a mission to improve functional mobility and health span utilizing the power of lifestyle medicine. She has been teaching, writing and prescribing healthy eating and exercise programs for over 25 years. Today, as CEO of Resistance Dynamics and inventor of the MoveMor™ Mobility Trainer, she develops exercise products and programs that target joint flexibility, strength and balance deficits to help older adults fall less and live more.

 

References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/index.htm
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/
  3. https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/nearly-all-nyc-area-covid-19-hospitalizations-had-comorbidities-67476
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/Novel_Coronavirus_Reports.html June 19, 2020
  5. https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/epigenetic-influences-and-disease-895/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6345337/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23974765/
Trainer-with-senior-client-using-machine

The Roles of a Medical Fitness Specialist: Scope of practice, prevention and interprofessional collaboration

Physical activity has been demonstrated to positively affect over 30 chronic conditions and is considered the best deterrent of chronic disease in primary and secondary prevention. The main goal of a Medical Fitness Specialist (MFS) in the healthcare continuum is to prevent the onset of chronic disease and bridge the gap between clinical intervention and conventional fitness programs. This is achieved by developing exercise programs for those who have or are at risk for chronic disease or dysfunction, have health conditions that may be mitigated or managed by exercise and activity, are newly diagnosed with a disease and need exercise guidance, or have completed a medically supervised rehabilitation program and need to continue to progress. A fitness professional versed in medical fitness protocols, such as an MFS, can work with those who are at risk for chronic disease.

Scope of Practice

Scope of practice refers to boundaries set by knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs), as well as education, experience, and demonstrated competency, such as a program of study, or an exam to measure proficiency. A basic personal training certification suggests the holder can develop exercise programs for apparently healthy clients. Unfortunately, considering the overweight and obesity rate is near 70%, and 50%-60% of the adult U.S. population has at least one chronic disease, adhering to scope of practice becomes increasingly important, yet at the same time many fitness professionals may be providing services outside their scope of practice, and beyond their level of certification. By accepting a client, the trainer is proposing a safe workout will be developed and implemented, and the client will not be at risk of injury. If advice is given that is not within the trainer’s scope of practice, the trainer and the facility may be subjected to a lawsuit.

An MFS who integrates medical fitness into practice has the KSAs, based on education, experience, and demonstrated competency to conduct pre-participation interviews, perform fitness assessments, and design and implement health and fitness programs for disease management to avoid future injury and to improve activities of daily living. Unlike an MFS, unless otherwise educated, a fitness trainer who promotes medical fitness is not a licensed healthcare provider and does not possess the KSAs to diagnose an unknown condition, suggest supplements, design meal plans, physically touch a client or provide behavioral counseling.

Prevention

In the United States, medical care tends to focus on treatment rather than prevention. Whereas treatment is given for a diagnosed disease or injury, the goal of prevention is to avoid, improve or slow down the progression of a probable or possible disease or injury. Prevention can be categorized as primary, secondary, or tertiary. The goal of primary prevention is to foster a life of wellness and therefore avoid or reduce the chance of disease or dysfunction. Primary prevention includes immunizations, targeted types of exercise, balanced nutrition and wellness, and education programs. Secondary prevention is managing a symptomatic disease in the hopes of slowing down or reversing the progression. Examples include treatment for hypertension, asthma, and some cancer treatments. Tertiary prevention involves the management and treatment of symptomatic disease with the goal of slowing progression and severity, as well as reducing disease-related complications. Tertiary prevention includes treatment for late-stage cancer, coronary heart disease, and some types of rehabilitation to include orthopedic, cardiac, and pulmonary. Physical activity has been demonstrated to effectively treat over 30 chronic conditions, mostly in primary prevention but also in secondary and tertiary, making it the number one intervention against chronic disease.


WEBINAR WITH DR. DAN MIKESKA


Interprofessional Collaboration

Due to the growing incidence of obesity and chronic disease, leveraging the skills of various providers who can collaborate to deliver the best possible care, based on clinical needs, is necessary to manage the complex health care demands of a population with an increasing incidence of comorbidities. Due to a worldwide shortage of health workers, in 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognized interprofessional collaboration as means to mitigate the global clinician shortage, strengthen health systems and improve outcomes. Interprofessional collaboration refers to health care teams, made up of trained professionals with various backgrounds, who work alongside patients and their families to provide high-quality care, based on the needs of the patient. Consequently, as medical providers begin to recognize the need to prescribe evidence-based exercise as an intervention in the management of chronic disease, MFSs, who are on the front line of health care, are trained and educated to be part of a clinical team that complements and leverages the strengths of each team member to improve population health. As health science and technology advance, it is imperative for fitness professionals who work with clients who have one or more chronic diseases to remain up-to-date on emerging fitness protocols. An MFS is required to participate in continuing education in areas including cardiopulmonary disease, metabolic disorders, and orthopedic dysfunction.

Although the scope of practice of many allied healthcare fields overlaps, the role of the MFS is to work with the client’s team of other healthcare providers, while staying within the scope of practice, based on KSAs. Regardless of the collaborative health team, the client’s physician is always the center, and as such should be provided regular updates as to the client’s progress.

An MFS is uniquely qualified to work with individuals within the healthcare continuum. Some KSAs associated with MFSs are:

  • Knowledge of basic chronic disease pathophysiology
  • The use and side effects of common medications taken by someone suffering from a chronic disease
  • The knowledge to perform and analyze basic assessments related to movement and anthropometry
  • The knowledge to design a safe and effective workout based on information received via assessment results, and the clinical recommendations from other healthcare providers
  • FITT protocols, exercise progressions, and regressions
  • The implications of exercise and activity for individuals with chronic disease
  • Contraindications of chronic disease, and signs and symptoms of distress related to chronic disease
  • Knowledge of signs and symptoms that require expertise outside of the scope of practice for medical exercise
  • The ability to recognize a medical emergency
  • Current CPR and adult AED are required

Personal Trainers & Fitness Professionals: Prevent & Manage Chronic Disease and Collaborate with Clinicians

Check out MedFit Classroom’s 20-hour online course, Medical Fitness Specialist. This course is designed for fitness and health professionals who want to learn more about using exercise as medicine with clients who suffer from one or more chronic diseases. As a Medical Fitness Specialist, you will be able to prevent and/or manage numerous chronic diseases and collaborate with clinicians.

For a limited time, save 40% on this course by entering coupon code MFNBLOG40 at checkout.


This article was featured in MedFit Professional Magazine. Access past issues or subscribe to read more great content like this!

Dan Mikeska has a doctorate degree in Health Science and a master’s degree in Human Movement, as well as certifications from NASM, ACE, the Cancer Exercise Training Institute and the Exercise Is Medicine credential from ACSM. He currently owns NOVA Medical Exercise and Medical Exercise Academy and is adjunct faculty for A.T. Still University’s Master of Kinesiology program. 

holiday-treats

New-Trition: Cleaning Up Your Act

The winter holidays are often a barrage of non-stop feasting that spans from Thanksgiving to the Super Bowl. Week after week, you indulge yourself with goodies, justifying your poor food choices in the name of holiday cheer. You promise yourself to mend your ways as soon as the excitement dies down, but meanwhile the pounds creep on and bad nutrition becomes the new normal. Cleaning up your act is a process, but you can speed it up by taking some proactive steps.

Let It Go

Gifts of food abound during the holidays, and if you are like me, you still have plenty of sweets, snacks and junk food in your fridge and cupboards. To get your diet back on track, begin by banishing the bad stuff. If you cannot bear to throw perfectly good food in the trash, donate to your local food bank or homeless shelter. Or throw one final bash, featuring your holiday stash of goodies as the main course. Clean and organize your refrigerator to make room for fresh produce, filtered water and whole foods. Rearrange your cupboards so that healthy food options are at eye level.

Clean Routine

Sugary foods and carbohydrate-laden snacks and meals are holiday mainstays that can wreak havoc with your insulin balance. Going cold turkey on the simple carbs can cause discomfort and cravings that last for two or three days, but it is one of the quickest ways to normalize your blood sugar and reset your metabolism. Adding high intensity exercise can speed up the process. Create a menu plan for your week that includes fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy proteins, and stock your fridge with ingredients. Planning and preparing healthy snacks and meals ahead of time will keep you from being tempted to grab fast food.

Self-Defense

The end of the Holiday Season does not necessarily mark the end of the eating season. Valentine’s Day and Girl Scout Cookies loom on the horizon. Prepare for the onslaught by making committed decisions in advance. Instead of preparing special foods for Valentine’s Day, plan a romantic getaway or a movie date night. Ask your sweetie for flowers or jewelry instead of candy. Decide ahead of time to purchase only one box of Girl Scout cookies, and ration them out at the rate of one cookie per day. If you want to help out the Scouts, they accept donations in lieu of a cookie purchase.


Jay Del Vecchio is the Founder and CEO of the World Instructor Training Schools (W.I.T.S.). Jay is an advocate for establishing national standards for the health and fitness training industry. 

 

Female-Trainer-and-older-male-client

The Commodification of Medicine and Fitness: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The need for medical and fitness services/products continues to grow. In the United States, and around the world. The corporate and industrialized delivery of medical and fitness products/ services continues to grow to meet increasing demand. Innovations in medical diagnostic technologies, surgical procedures, biomaterials, and medicines help individuals live longer, and with a higher quality of life. Technology and scientific research are propelling fitness product/service innovation with digital activity monitoring apps . . .

vitamin-bottle

The (Current) Truth About Vitamin D

There are more health claims made about vitamin D than perhaps any other vitamin.  Media stories touting vitamin D for this ill or that are common, particularly in the age of COVID-19. We’re also frequently told Americans don’t get enough vitamin D, with surveys showing as many of 40% of individuals have below optimal amounts in the blood. So how do we get vitamin D and what claims are true and backed by research?  Let’s take a closer look at vitamin D to flesh out what we know for sure and where more research is needed. 

What is Vitamin D and How Do We Get It?

Molecularly, vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble compounds with a four ringed cholesterol backbone. What’s most important to know is that it comes in two forms — as vitamin D2 in food and as vitamin D3 in our skin.

Vitamin D3
Our skin is our primary source of vitamin D, but it begins there as an unorganized and inactive form, requiring UV exposure to convert to usable vitamin D3. Conversion via UV light is exceedingly efficient, and it’s estimated brief exposure of the arms and face is equivalent to ingesting 200 international units day. Conversion varies however with skin type (darker skin converts more), latitude, season and time of day. Infants, disabled persons and older adults often have inadequate sun exposure as well, and the skin of those older than 70 also does not convert vitamin D as effectively. Interestingly, vitamin D also requires temperature to be activated, so you may not get as much of a benefit from sunlight in the winter months as you might expect.  

Vitamin D2
Because it is fat-soluble, dietary vitamin D2 is best absorbed with fat in the diet and fish is a common source. Uptake can be negatively impacted by disorders associated with fat malabsorption such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, pancreatic insufficiency, cystic fibrosis, short gut syndrome and cholestatic liver disease.

Vitamin D in the Body: What We Know It Does

Once activated and in the bloodstream — either by UV exposure or absorption through the diet — the liver converts vitamin D to 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D), and then the kidneys further convert it to 1,25 hydroxyvitamin D, the most active form of vitamin D in the body. For this reason, kidney and/or liver problems can also negatively impact vitamin D levels.

Interestingly, all cells in our bodies have receptors for vitamin D, and this has in part fueled the varying claims as to how it might impact health. What we know for certain is that it helps with calcium absorption in the gut, regulating calcium levels via the kidneys, and regulating parathyroid hormone. Vitamin D’s role in calcium regulation and absorption means it has a direct impact on healthy bone growth and turnover. For this reason, you often see it in calcium supplements.

Research has also shown a clear correlation between Vitamin D and muscle health, including research showing improved lower body strength. Some research has also shown vitamin D can help prevent falls in the elderly.

Notable Areas Where the Jury is Still Out

  • Vitamin D has been thought to lower the risk of cancer, but currently, there is insufficient evidence to support this, though there are many ongoing studies.
  • There is also insufficient evidence showing that vitamin D helps improve autoimmune conditions and respiratory conditions such as asthma, COPD and acute viral respiratory diseases.  In a large study from the UK, no association was found between vitamin D levels and risk of mortality from COVID-19.
  • Although low vitamin D levels have been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in some studies, there is no evidence that vitamin D supplementation improves cardiovascular outcomes.
  • Similarly, a growing number of trials examining the effects of vitamin D supplementation on pregnancy and birth outcomes show conflicting results, with some showing reduction in risk of low birth weight, but more data is needed.

Naomi L. Albertson M.D. is Board Certified by the American Academy of Family Physicians and specializes in the non-surgical management of musculoskeletal problems, sports injuries, concussions, and the treatment of osteopenia and osteoporosis.  A graduate of Tufts University School of Medicine, Dr. Albertson’s interest in bone health, exercise physiology and maximizing performance led her to develop Dr. Ni’s OC2, a bone health and muscle strength supplement for the unique frame support needs of adults over age 35. Visit her website, boneandmuscle.com.

Senior-Woman-Deep-Breath

Weight Loss Happens On The Exhale… The Nasal Exhale

Every person longing to be slim has heard the same advice forever: Eat less and exercise more. So simple, so logical, so what happened? America is the land of the overweight and the frustrated. For millions of people, every road has led to the same locked door. Until now. I’m going to give you the secret to helping you help your clients reach their weight loss goals in a healthy, lasting and fulfilling way.


For reasons ranging from stress to the influence of advertising, the majority of Americans find it difficult to lose the weight and keep it off. In addition, they are famously sedentary. According to the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention, 70% of adults are overweight or obese, contributing to health risks including heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and more (1). Either for health or vanity reasons, many of these overweight men and women try to slim down and usually gain back at least as many pounds as they lost. The secret to effectively losing weight and transforming patterns of behavior happens with breath. 

How Breath Influences Fat Burning

The way we breathe, fast or slow, mouth open or closed, shallow or deep affects our biochemical, physiological, biomechanical and psychological states of being. Nasal diaphragmatic breathing signals our parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system while mouth breathing signals our sympathetic branch.  The difference determines whether you’re fat-burning or sugar-burning. Can you guess which turns you into a fat-burning machine? You guessed, nasal breathing.

Most of our clients are living in a stressed state (or the sympathetic branch of our nervous system). Not only is this the sugar-burning system, it also leads to abnormally high levels of cortisol. High cortisol levels promote weight gain (2).

In addition, nasal breathing increases oxygenation while mouth breathing decreases oxygenation. The speed at which your body burns oxygen or fuel for fat-burning benefits depends on how well your body utilizes oxygen. As we diaphragmatically nasal breathe, we stimulate the vagus nerve. “The vagus nerve regulates metabolic homeostasis by controlling heart rate, gastrointestinal motility and secretion, pancreatic endocrine and exocrine secretion, hepatic glucose production, and other visceral functions.” (4)

How The Fat Leaves On The Exhale

Fats are large molecules made up of oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen. When the oxygen we breathe reaches these fat molecules, it breaks them down into carbon dioxide and water.  The blood then picks up the carbon dioxide – a waste product of our bodies – and returns it to the lungs to be exhaled.  Therefore, the more oxygen our bodies use, the more fat we will burn.  

Nasal breathing is more efficient than mouth breathing in terms of supplying oxygen to the body as well as the transfer of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the lungs and red blood cells. When performing cardiovascular exercise, it is therefore preferable to inhale and exhale through the nose. (3)

Have you ever wondered where the fat goes? If you’re like most of us, you probably think the majority of fat is excreted through bodily fluids. Surprisingly, it’s not. Based on the research from the British Medical Journal, the majority of fat turns into carbon dioxide which is exhaled when we breathe. (5)

See My Interview With Ruben Meerman

Transforming Patterns of Behavior

The person who’s been sedentary for years won’t suddenly be persuaded to run a marathon. Core changes must come first in order to make everything else possible.  Using “breath as medicine” to improve health and the training experience, we cultivate the “choosing mind,” where we can alter lifelong patterns. 

People become sedentary and develop poor lifestyle patterns based on habit, boredom or emotional triggers.  So, there’s more involved than just losing the physical weight. Our issues are in our tissues. We’ve got to transform the emotional and physiological weight which is embedded in our unconscious and subconscious minds.  

Mindful breathing while exercising is being “neurofit” meaning we’re influencing physiological changes in the brain related to behavior. Life is a sensory experience and the body keeps score. Focusing on the breath allows a person to slow down, unwind and look inward. This is crucial for people whose lives are chronically hectic and stressful, who eat without thought, regardless of hunger. With deep, powerful breathing, they can break old patterns while cleansing internal systems. How does this happen?  By stimulating the vagus nerve (which only happens through nasal diaphragmatic breathing), we strengthen the areas of the brain responsible for emotional self-regulation. (6)

The body always lives in the present. It will never crave a Twinkie because of unrequited love, an upcoming review with a cranky boss, or an unhappy childhood. It cares only about what it needs from moment to moment to maintain homeostasis. The typical brain calls for millions of automatic acts in a day – from adjusting endocrine levels to blinking to deploying white cells for battle. As the connection between body and mind is fortified with breath, the choosing mind emerges reconnecting with our body to hear its’ objective voice which discriminates between emotional reactivity and true desire.

All that from a simple breath. 

Continuing Education: Breath as Medicine

Ed Harrold’s Breath AS Medicine breath coach training focuses on breath regulation concepts & strategies by applying the principles and philosophy of yoga breathing (or pranayama) to improve breathing rates and patterns. Breath AS Medicine is a highly effective modality for both the prevention of illness as well as therapy for managing and/or reversing existing chronic illness.

Click here to learn more about Ed Harrold’s Breath AS Medicine e-learning courses. Use coupon MedFit20 for 20% off either the 15 or 25-hour trainings.

A shorter 6-hour course is also available on MedFit Classroom. Click here for details.


Ed Harrold is an author, inspirational leader, public speaker, coach and educator. Ed’s mastery in the science of mindful breathing has guided him to apply conscious breathing practices in corporate performance coaching, fitness & athletic training, healthcare trainings, stress reduction and overall health and well-being.

Today, Ed blends the fields of neuroscience and the wisdom of contemplative traditions into effective strategies to improve well-being in Corporate America, Healthcare, athletic performance and individual health. Ed’s fluency in mindfulness-based strategies combined with the belief in the human potential gives him the depth and understanding to meet individuals and group needs across industries and platforms.

 Ed is the author of  “Life With Breath” and “BodyMindBusiness”; he is a contributing health & wellness editor for Huffingtpost, Thrive Global, MindBodyGreen & PTOnTheNet. Ed’s Breath AS Medicine Training offers CE in the healthcare, wellness coaching, fitness & athletic training sectors. Ed is a Faculty Member of the Medical Wellness Association. Learn more about Ed at www.edharrold.com

 

References

  1. National Center For Health Statistics, Health, United States, 2015.  Table 53.  https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm 
  2. Sominsky, L. & Spencer, S. (May 2014). Eating behavior and stress: a pathway to obesity, School of Health Sciences and Health Innovations Research Institute, Retrieved from http://journal.frontiersin.org 
  3. Novotny, S. (2007, February 1). The science of breathing. Ideafit.com. Retrieved from http://www.ideafit.com/ 
  4. Harada, S., Yamazaki, Y., Koda, S., Tokuyama, S. (April 23, 2014). Hepatic Branch Vagus Nerve Plays a Critical Role in the Recovery of Post-Ischemic Glucose Intolerance and Mediates a Neuroprotective Effect by Hypothalamic Orexin-A, Retrieved from http://journals.plos.org/ 
  5. Meerman, A. Brown (December 19, 2014).  When Somebody Loses Weight, Where Does The Fat Go? The BMJ. Retrieved from http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g7257
  6. Porges SW, Doussard-Roosevelt JA, Maiti AK (1994).  Vagal Tone And The Physiological Regulation of Emotion.  PubMed.  Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7984159