New cancer prevention guidelines
When it comes to tipoffs, Shaq is king. He’s credited with winning 814 jump balls during his career, and often they were game changers. Clearly, there’s nothing like a good tip — and the American Cancer Society has delivered a new set of them to help you avoid cancer. Developed by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, and Health and Human Services and several global cancer research organizations, they cover physical activity, diet and alcohol consumption.
Physical Activity: Adults should engage in 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity weekly; achieving or exceeding the upper limit of 300 minutes is optimal. This is an increase from previous recommendation for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week. They’re finally catching up with data that the Sharecare RealAge app has known since 1999!
Diet: A healthy diet limits or doesn’t include red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages or highly processed foods and refined grain products. It does include a variety of vegetables — dark green, red and orange; fiber-rich legumes, like beans, peas and others; fruits, especially whole fruits with a variety of colors; and whole grains. Catching up here, too. Soon they’ll include only healthy fats and time-restricted feeding. At least six studies show it inhibits cancer cell growth.
Alcohol: It’s best not to drink alcohol. People who do choose to drink should limit their consumption to one drink per day for women and two for men. Advising against any consumption is new.
Poor sleep habits can lead to heart disease
In 1964, 17-year-old Randy Gardner went 11 days without sleeping. That’s the outer edge of what a person can endure without inflicting lasting damage. In contrast, it turns out you assuredly inflict lasting harm if you repeatedly have lousy sleep patterns — can’t fall asleep, wake up and can’t get back to sleep easily, wake up too early or have sleep apnea.
A study published in PLOS Biology shows that disrupted sleep patterns trigger bodywide inflammation that leads to overt cardiovascular disease. Researchers measured what was going on in the bloodstream of 1,500 folks, and found those with disrupted sleep had higher counts of white blood cells that drive inflammatory pathways. Erratic sleepers also have higher levels of coronary artery calcium, which contributes to clogged blood vessels. Those plaque-congested vessels are vulnerable to increased inflammation, which can cause plaque rupture, leading to a heart attack or stroke.
So if you have trouble falling and/or staying asleep, get help from knowledgeable sleep specialists, like those at the Cleveland Clinic’s or Columbia University’s sleep disorders centers. The most effective treatments for disrupted sleep include:
■ Using cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia and using restriction therapy and stimulus control therapy to improve sleep quality and quantity.
■ Making sure to get 30+ minutes of aerobic exercise daily.
■ Establishing a good sleep routine: Hit the hay at the same time nightly; make sure the bedroom is cool, dark and quiet; detach from digital devices an hour before bed.
You’ll be protecting your heart while you improve your mood, cognition and relationships.
Thinking away immune dysfunction
The children’s novel “Matilda” by Roald Dahl is about a precocious girl ignored by her parents and bullied by a tyrannical school principal. Matilda feels hopeless, but soon learns she possesses an unusual talent — telekinesis. She can move objects with her mind, so she figures out how to beat the bad guys. “Matilda” is a story about mind over matter.
Though it’s unlikely you can move objects with your thoughts, your brain can influence the health of your immune system and help tamp down symptoms associated with everything from depression and anxiety to heart disease and some cancers.
A new study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, looked at 56 randomized clinical trials to identify the effects of different types of “psychosocial interventions” on physical and mental health. The researchers found cognitive-behavioral therapy — a solutions-based talk therapy that helps a person change dysfunctional emotions and behaviors — was most effective for improving immune system function, and benefits persisted for at least six months following treatment. The researchers say it accomplishes this by causing a decrease in the load of pro-inflammatory cytokines or markers and by increasing immune cell counts.
The study also points out that an estimated 50 percent of all deaths worldwide are attributable to inflammation-related diseases, including obesity and depression. So if you’re struggling with your mental or physical health, you may want to add a round of short-term CBT therapy to your treatment mix. You may find by thinking away immune dysfunction, you also ease negative mental and/or physical symptoms.
Are you fueling your own obesity epidemic?
James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano) had a fatal heart attack after eating a meal that included fried king prawns and a plate of foie gras. The 275-pound actor opted for an artery-clogging feast and paid the ultimate price. That same year, 2013, 801,000 fellow Americans also died from heart and cardiovascular disease.
A study published in PLOS One reveals that high-income countries have the highest levels of adult obesity (22.72 percent) — and in North America, it’s hit 30.46 percent. Seems as a country’s GDP increases, so do waistlines (we do not expect the current economic crisis to change that). On average, Americans gained 1.25 pounds a year from 1990 to 2015. That’s a whopping 31.25 pounds — enough to tip the scales from a normal weight to heart-threatening obesity.
So here are two suggestions to help you become aware of and reshape your diet.
■ Keep a food diary. Write down everything you eat or drink. A 2008 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that keeping a daily food diary doubles weight loss.
■ Plan your menus; evaluate their balance of veggies, fruits, whole grains and protein. Aim for two to three servings of veggies per meal; whole grains twice a day; keep animal protein (no red or processed meat) to a 3-6 ounce serving once a day.
■ Eat only when the sun is up and more before 2 p.m. than after 2 p.m. People who did that lost 25 percent more weight than those who ate the same amount of calories, but later in the day.
How a vegan diet can give you more muscle power
Kyrie Irving is one of several NBA players who have adopted a vegan diet. The 28-year-old Brooklyn Nets guard told the press that since switching to a plant-based diet, his energy is up and “my body feels amazing.” And Irving and other athletes, such as teammate center DeAndre Jordan, are clearly onto something.
Research has emerged that finds vegan diets can be especially beneficial to athletes. A study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition involved 56 active women who were either on a vegan or omnivorous diet for two years. Over that time, researchers tracked participants’ body composition, oxygen levels, athletic performance and endurance. They found that the women who adhered to a vegan diet performed better when it came to endurance and aerobic activity than women on the control (meat-eating) diet.
The researchers suspect that increased complex carbohydrates in a vegan diet led to more efficient energy storage in muscles. Another possibility is that vegan diets prevented strength-draining inflammation in the cardiovascular system, joints and muscles that is often associated with eating a lot of meat and dairy.
So, for optimal training benefits, consider a plant-based diet. If you don’t want to go all vegan, consider following a vegan diet on some days — especially for the meal you have right before you’re going to undertake a major exertion. The best bet is to make that meal complex carb-centered, with 100 percent whole grains, a few fruits and vegetables aplenty. Then leave the carnivores in the dust!
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.