Health Digest #4: Diet & Exercise

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

*Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.

Mark Twain


According to Quick Studies in the Nutrition Action Healthletter, Oct. 2010, a large study of 1200 participants in the Nurses Health Study showed that people who with higher levels of Vitamin D in their bodies have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. While there is yet no evidence that Vitamin D actually lowers the riskof diabetes, the article recommends 800-1000 IU daily for people over 60 and 400 IU if you are younger.

My note: Because so many people use sunscreens, vitamin D levels that are generally higher,  because of more exposure to the sun in warmer weather, may be lower. You may want to have your vitamin D level checked with your next blood test.

Related to the above: In an e-newsletter from Susan Silberstein, PhD and creator of CACE (Center for Cancer Education), Silberstein writes an excellent article on sun exposure and vitamin D. Here is the first paragraph:

Don’t believe the myth that the sun is dangerous and that sunscreen is protective! There is little scientific evidence to justify the many health campaigns that urge you to avoid unprotected sun exposure.  The potential of natural sunlight to harm you has been greatly blown out of proportion by doctors, health officials, and sunscreen manufacturers, all of whom would have you believe that you need to stay out of the sun because the sun will hurt you. This simply isn’t true. In fact, numerous studies show that the sun is healthy for you, and that appropriate sun exposure could actually save your life!

Go to www.beatcancer.org for more information. The article also points to Dr. Mercola’s suggestion for natural sunscreens. That website is: www.mercola.org.

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One of my favorite condiments/foods is seaweed, either as Nori sheets or as kelp sprinkled onto my food. In the Summer 2009 Wise Traditions, a publication of The Weston A. Price Foundation, there is an article about iodine and breast cancer. Author Sally Fallon Morrell notes that Japanese women have very low rates of breast cancer (in Japan) and consume high level of iodine from their diet rich in seaweed & seafood. (My Note: Since the nuclear accident in Japan, seaweed around Japanese water are probably contaminated, so not sure if the diet has changed.)

The article explains why 15% of adult females have a moderate to severe iodine deficiency and that same percentage will develop breast cancer (one in seven women). Please ask your doctor about your intake of iodine and whether you need more. Dried kelp, iodized salt, saltwater fish, blackstrap molasses, catfish, spinach, veggies, dairy and eggs are some of the sources of iodine (in descending order) listed in the article.

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Source: Excerpted from Nutrition Action Magazine, Dec. 2009

Seven Facts About Exercise

1.   Exercise can curb your risk of cancer. Brisk walking is correlated with reduced colon cancer, but more vigorous exercise is recommended for breast cancer protection.

2.   Exercise creates new brain cells. In lab animals, it increases blood flow to the brain and stimulates the growth of new brain cells, as well as new synapses (connections) between the cells, and new capillaries to distribute the blood and its nutrients.

3.   Exercise boots insulin sensitivity. As we age or when we are overweight, our bodies tend not respond less to insulin’s role of allowing sugar to enter our body’s cells to be used as food or stored as needed.  Thus, insulin resistance may result and this is linked to risks of heart disease and type II diabetes, if blood sugar levels keep rising.

4.   Creatine helps build muscle. Creatine is a compound that makes energy available to muscles during times of high demand, such as weight training. Since vegetarians don’t get as much creatine from their foods, it seems to work better for them, while meat eaters may not notice as much impact on their muscles from creatine.



5.  Sitting Can Kill You. Mortality rates are higher among people who sit for the majority of the day. To counteract this, exercise cannot be occasional, but needs to be a regular part of their lifestyle. If you have a sedentary job, stand up often to get the blood flowing and increase activity of your muscles in your lower limbs.

6.   You’re Never Too Old to Build Muscle. Women may not increase their muscle mass as much as men, but their muscle quality improves, that is, the amount of force they can exert per unit of muscle. The article recommends building muscle through weight training, three times per week.

7.  Exercise Prevents Visceral Fat Gain. This is the fat that accumulates around the organs deep inside the belly and is linked to insulin resistance, heart disease, and diabetes. (Visceral fat is not the same as subcutaneous fat, which lies closer to the skin and is not harmful.)

The article lists moderate-intensity exercise as ones that noticeable increases your heart rate and breathing rate and may make you sweat. (You can still talk but not sing.) They include: ballroom or line dancing, biking on level ground, doubles tennis, canoeing, ball throwing sports, brisk walking and water aerobics.


Vigorous exercise, that is exercise that is noticeably faster and gets you sweating and makes talking difficult includes: aerobic or fast dancing (ex. Zhumba), hiking uphill, fast biking, jogging, jumping rope, martial arts, race walking, running, singles tennis, running sports (ex. soccer), swimming fast or swimming laps.

American Cancer Society recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity, although 45-60 is preferable.

P.S. I recently read that you need at least one hour of exercise per day in addition to dieting in order to lose weight.


*Not sure where I read this quote, but it’s a good one!

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