Take 3 vacations a year to boost your longevity, good health

Want to have a long life? Besides leading a healthy lifestyle, taking at least three vacations a year between your work schedule seems to be the key, especially for men, suggested a study. People with shorter vacations worked more and slept lesser than those who took longer vacations, which took a toll on their health and affected their life span.

Compared with those who took more than three weeks, men who took three weeks or less annual leave from their regular work schedule were found to be 37% more likely to die early, the study showed. “Don’t think that having an otherwise healthy lifestyle will compensate for working too hard and not taking holidays,” said Timo Strandberg, Professor at the University of Helsinki in Finland. “Vacations can be a good way to relieve stress,” he added.

The study, presented at the annual conference of the European Society of Cardiology in Germany, included 1,222 middle-aged male executives, and were randomised into a control group or an intervention group. The intervention group received oral and written advice every four months to do aerobic physical activity, eat a healthy diet, achieve a healthy weight and stop smoking.

Men in the control group received usual healthcare and were not seen by the investigators. Shorter vacations were associated with excess deaths in the intervention group. Vacation time had no impact on risk of death in the control group. “However, our results do not indicate that health education is harmful. Rather, they suggest that stress reduction is an essential part of programmes aimed at reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases,” Strandberg cautioned.

Why modern medicine is a major threat to public health

When former airline pilot Tony Royle came to see me last year to seek reassurance that it was OK to participate in an Ironman event, having stopped all his medications 18 months after suffering a heart attack, I was initially a little alarmed.

But after talking to him, I realised he had made an informed decision to stop the medication after suffering side effects, and instead had opted for a diet and lifestyle approach to manage his heart disease.

His case is a great example of how evidence-based medicine should be practised. This is the integration of clinical expertise, the best available evidence and – most importantly – taking patients’ preferences and values into consideration.

But our healthcare system has failed to keep to this gold standard of clinical practice for the most important goal of improving patient health outcomes.

The consequences have been devastating. Modern medicine, through over prescription, represents a major threat to public health. Peter Gøtzsche, co–founder of the reputed Cochrane Collaboration, estimates that prescribed medication is the third most common cause of death globally after heart disease and cancer.

In the UK, use of prescription drugs is at an all-time high, with almost half of adults on at least one drug and a quarter on at least three – an increase of 47% in the past decade. It’s instructive to note that life expectancy in the UK has stalled since 2010, the slowdown being one of the most significant in the world’s leading economies.

Contrary to popular belief, the cost of an ageing population in itself is not a threat to the welfare system – an unhealthy ageing population is. A Lancet analysis revealed that if rising life expectancy means years in good health, then health expenditure is expected to increase by only 0.7% of GDP by 2060.

The greatest stress on the NHS comes from managing almost entirely preventable chronic conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes alone (demonstrated to be reversible in up to 60% of patients) takes up approximately 10% of the NHS budget. A disturbing report from the British Heart Foundation suggests that heart attacks and strokes are set to “surge” in England over the next 20 years as the prevalence of diabetes continues to increase.

Yet rather than address the root cause of these conditions through lifestyle changes, we prioritise drugs that give – at best – only a marginal chance of long-term benefit for individuals, most of whom will derive no health outcome improvement.

The reality is that lifestyle changes not only reduce the risk of future disease, their positive effects on quality of life happen within days to weeks. However, those patients unlucky enough to suffer side effects from prescribed medicines may find their quality of life will deteriorate in order to enjoy small longer term benefits from the medication.

Of course patients may need to use both, but what’s important is that information is presented in a transparent way to encourage shared decision making. The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges’ Choosing Wisely campaign encourages patients to ask their doctor whether they really need a medication, test or procedure.

Prof Luis Correia, director of the Centre of Evidence Based Medicine in Brazil, says if a clinical decision is not in keeping with the patient’s individual preferences and values, “it will not work”.

A report commissioned by thinktank the King’s Fund in 2012 recommended putting patient preferences at the heart of decision making in medicine, suggesting it would not just be a victory for ethics and policy but for finance, too, as the data shows patients given all the information choose fewer treatments. But more than saving money, it will be about redistributing resources within the system to where they are needed most, in acute and social care.

This solution to the NHS financial crisis and giving patients the very best chance of improving their health will require a national public health campaign to reduce the amount of medications the population takes, improving lifestyle and adhering to the true principles of evidence-based medicine that make shared decision making the priority in clinical practice.

A few weeks ago, four years after his heart attack and two years after coming off all medications and dramatically changing his diet, Tony completed his first Ironman at the age of 58, revealing it’s never too late to improve fitness. But the most important message remains clear: you can’t drug people into being healthier.

Dr Aseem Malhotra is an NHS consultant cardiologist and visiting professor of evidence-based medicine, at the Bahiana School of Medicine and Public Health, Brazil

Too much sleep linked to ill health

Sleeping longer than the recommended seven or eight hours a night has been linked with a higher risk of premature death, according to new research.

Researchers looked at data from 74 studies involving more than three million people and found those who slept for 10 hours were 30% more likely to die prematurely than those who slept for eight.

Staying in bed for more than 10 hours was also linked to a 56% increased risk of death from stroke and a 49% increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Poor sleep quality was associated with a 44% increase in risk of coronary heart disease, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers said their study suggests abnormal sleep could be “a marker of elevated cardiovascular risk” and said GPs ought to ask questions about sleeping patterns during appointments.

Lead researcher Dr Chun Shing Kwok, of Keele University’s Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine, said: “Abnormal sleep is a marker of elevated cardiovascular risk and greater consideration should be given in exploring both duration and sleep quality during patient consultations.

“There are cultural, social, psychological, behavioural, pathophysiological and environmental influences on our sleep such as the need to care for children or family members, irregular working shift patterns, physical or mental illness, and the 24-hour availability of commodities in modern society.”

The study, which also involved researchers from the universities of Leeds, Manchester and East Anglia, said the research was limited as duration of sleep was self-reported and that underlying mental or physical conditions may have had an impact on “extreme sleep patterns”.

A Modest Dose of Ginger Improves 8 Markers of Diabetes Type 2

A promising study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition reveals that the popular kitchen spice may be an effective treatment for the prevention of diabetes and its complications.

The trial participants were divided randomly into a ginger group and control group, receiving either 1600 mg ginger or a 1600 mg placebo daily for 12 weeks. The patients were measured before and after the intervention for blood sugar levels, blood lipids, C-reactive protein, prostaglandin E2 and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα).

As a result of the intervention, ginger treatment reduced the following parameters significantly compared with the placebo group:

  • Fasting plasma glucose
  • HbA1C (aka glycated hemoglobin) – a measurement of how much damage is being caused by sugars to red blood cells in the body, reflective of body wide damage caused by chronically elevated blood sugar
  • Insulin
  • Triglycerides
  • Total cholesterol
  • C-reactive protein (CRP) – a marker of inflammation
  • Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) – a marker of inflammation

No significant differences in HDL, LDL and TNFα between two groups (p > 0.05).

The researchers concluded:

Ginger Already Proven To Have Anti-Diabetic Properties

This is, of course, not the first study to establish the value of ginger for diabetes. Simply dropping the two search terms “diabetes” and “ginger” into Pubmed.gov will draw up 63 results. Our database of abstracts on ginger contains a number of gems on its benefit for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes which can be viewed here: Ginger Health Benefits

How Much Was Used?

The amount of ginger used in the study amounted to 1.6 grams, which is a non-heroic, ‘culinary’ dose of approximately a quarter of a teaspoon. In the study, participants were given two doses of 800 mg, delivered twice daily, orally through capsules. This dose scheme points to the fact that higher doses does of complex plant extracts within the spice category are not necessarily better, and in fact, in some cases, may actually have effects opposite to the expectation. This study, for instance, found that rosemary at a lower dose (750 mg) improved cognition whereas a higher dose (6,000 mg) interfered with it. The point is that lower doses, as used traditionally in culinary applications, passed down to us through previous generations as ‘recipes’ (literally: ‘medical prescriptions’), may be more effective than higher ones; a perspective that obviously turns conventional pharmacological wisdom and practice on its head. .

Other Essential Resources for Type 2 Diabetes

The GreenMedInfo.com database now contains 350 abstracts on 180 natural substances that have been researched to have potential value in the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes, and which can be viewed on our Type 2 Diabetes Research page.  The resource also includes Problem Substances (e.g. fructose, BPA), Therapeutic Actions (e.g. yoga, low carb diets) and Problematic Actions (e.g. vaccination, microwave cooking) linked to this condition in the published research. We also have a curated health portal on Blood Sugar Problems which aggregates both our research sections on type 1 and type 2 diabetes and our reporting on various studies related to these conditions in greater depth.

Additional References

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.

92 Alkaline Foods That Fight Cancer, Inflammation, Diabetes and Heart Disease

 

Human life, just like all life on earth, depends on appropriate pH levels in and around living organisms and cells. For us, a tightly controlled pH level in the serum of about 7.4 – that’s a slightly alkaline range – is needed in order to ensure survival.

Increasing industrialization, especially in developed nations like the United States, has lead to increasing CO2 deposition – resulting in the pH of the ocean dropping from 8.2 to 8.1, a change which has had a negative impact on marine life. Even the pH balance of the soil we grow our food in has an impact on the mineral content of that food – minerals are, after all, used as buffers to maintain pH balance.

When it comes down to it, the alkaline diet is simply a diet that relies heavily on nutrients derived from vegetables and other natural foods. Anyone can benefit from such a diet, so with that in mind, here are several alkaline foods that you can start adding to your diet.

1. Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is an incredibly healthy food – not only is it alkaline, it also has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, and is full of much-needed antioxidants(2).

2. Melon

With a pH level of 8.5, these fruits are super alkaline, but they’re also loaded with fiber to help cleanse your digestive tract, and water to help hydrate you.

3. Berries

Loaded with fibre and antioxidants, berries are one of the best type of fruits you can eat.

4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is loaded with vitamin E and monounsaturated fatty acids, making it a great addition to any diet.

5. Flax seeds

High in fiber and vitamin E, flax seeds are a very alkaline food – but they also have other benefits: they can reduce hot flashes in women(3) and help fight inflammation.

Other Foods To Include In An Alkaline Diet

The previously mentioned five foods are a good place to start when building any diet, but if you’re looking to alkalize your body, there are plenty of other alkaline foods to look to as well.

Alkalizing Vegetables

  • Alfalfa
  • Barley Grass
  • Beets
  • Beet Greens
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chard Greens
  • Chlorella
  • Collard Greens
  • Cucumber
  • Dandelions
  • Edible Flowers
  • Eggplant
  • Fermented Veggies
  • Garlic
  • Green Beans
  • Green Peas
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Mustard Greens
  • Nightshade Veggies
  • Onions
  • Parsnips (high glycemic)
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkin
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Sea Veggies
  • Spinach, green
  • Spirulina
  • Sprouts
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Watercress
  • Wheat Grass
  • Wild Greens

Alkalizing Fruits

  • Apple
  • Apricot
  • Avocado
  • Banana (high glycemic)
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries, sour
  • Coconut, fresh
  • Dates, dried
  • Figs, dried
  • Grapes
  • Grapefruit*
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Lemon*
  • Lime*
  • Orange*
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Pineapple
  • Rhubarb
  • Tangerine*
  • Tomato
  • Tropical Fruits
  • Umeboshi Plums
  • Watermelon

*Although it might seem that citrus fruits would have an acidifying effect on the body, the citric acid they contain actually has an alkalinizing effect in the system.

Alkalizing Protein

  • Almonds
  • Chestnuts
  • Millet
  • Tempeh (fermented)
  • Tofu (fermented)

Alkalizing Spices & Seasonings

  • Cinnamon
  • Curry
  • Ginger
  • Mustard
  • Chili Pepper
  • Sea Salt
  • Miso
  • Tamari
  • All Herbs

Alkalizing Others

  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Bee Pollen
  • Molasses, blackstrap
  • Probiotic Cultures
  • Green Juices
  • Veggie Juices
  • Fresh Fruit Juice
  • Mineral Water

Alkaline Foods

sources:
[1]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3195546/
[2]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16167740
[3]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17761129

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