Swap snacks for these nuts and watch your weight benefit
Pistachio nuts are often regarded simply as a salty snack - calorie-heavy and salted to tempt you to drink more. That's unfortunate, as there is a lot more to pistachios than just being a great beer snack.
They are one of healthiest nuts that you can eat, along with almonds and walnuts and Brazil nuts. And they can help you better manage your weight.
Up to 75% of lower extremity amputations are performed on diabetics
When it comes to health advice getting too much leads to indecision and inaction - we don't know what's best to do.
Et cetera. It's confusing, isn't it? I've provided answers to those questions at the end of this post.
I’ve had diabetes for 20+ years — I don’t want you to get it too!
The focus of this post is to provide you with the answer to this one critical question:
Question: What is an easy, reliable way to predict my chance of developing diabetes?
How slow is slow, and is the fat-burning zone even true?
We've all heard about the "fat-burning zone" and that we should exercise aerobically at low intensity to burn the most fat. I've always been sceptical about this advice, so I dug into the science.
Does the science support this advice, and what is low intensity anyway?
For me, the risks far outway the benefits
As economies reopen gyms are reopening, but I won't be taking advantage of the opportunity to reactive my suspended membership.
There will be a second wave of the pandemic, and setting myself up as a high-risk target doesn't appeal to me. It's not that I don't want to go back - I miss the access to the equipment and the discipline of turning up.
If you think that weight loss starts in the kitchen, think again
Would you prioritise fitness or fatness - losing weight or getting fit? If you are like me, you'd say better eating habits and more exercise are both equally important. We'd be wrong.
What is missing from our understanding of the priorities is that research has consistently shown that lack of fitness is a better predictor of mortality than being overweight. Knowing this, we can fine-tune our approach to becoming more healthy.
Each higher level of intensity improves your survival rate
Physical exercise guidelines generally recommend 300 minutes of moderately-intensive exercise a week as a good minimum. Doing any physical activity is better than none. But would you rather try a little harder and live longer?
A research study conducted nearly 20 years ago and since cited by nearly 1000 other studies tested the prognostic capacity of exercise for mortality. The study tracked 6,213 men over 6 years, during which time there were a total of 1256 deaths.
Here's what the data showed, which is exciting. Exercise capacity is the most powerful predictor of mortality, even among those with existing cardiovascular diseases risk factors. Exercise capacity is not relative capacity adjusted for age - that was not found to be a good predictor - but absolute fitness.
In fact, the research assigned a number to the increasing value of exercise capacity. Each 1-MET increase in exercise capacity conferred a 12 per cent improvement in survival. (One MET is the energy expended in sitting quietly, which is equivalent to a body oxygen consumption of approximately 3.5 ml per kilogram of body weight per minute for an average adult.)
More intense exercise requires us to use more energy, and hence rates higher in METS. The useful thing about METS is that we can compare the intensity of different exercises e.g. walking is 3 METS, jogging 6. The study grouped participants into three blocks of exercise intensity:
The average exercise intensity of the Above 8 METS group was 9.7 METS and 80% more of this group had survived compared to those in the low exercise group - the Below 5 METS.
That's worth fighting for!
Consistent with other studies of fitness and longevity
The result is consistent with many other studies:
What this means for you - level-up and live longer
It's a fantastic thing to know that there's a number to motivate you to up your exercise intensity. Especially since is it not too challenging to lift your level of effort by 1 MET.
This chart shows the MET levels of various activities. You might be able to spot something that you currently like doing, and how to lift the intensity to the next level.
Or, for example, here are other suggestions, with METS shown:
If you like classes, join an interval training class. Even the average Boxing class will be a step up if you aren't very active. Lifting your METS by 1 is as simple as not leaning on the handrails when using a treadmill, not taking 2 minutes between a few easy exercises, doing what the instructor asks at Spin, or adding slopes into your daily walk.
Finally, if you are doing Yoga (3-METS) keep it up and add in another more intense exercise. I doubt that HIIT Yoga will help, although it does show how meaningless the phrase HITT has become !
Use your own perceived effort as a measure
Alternatively use your own level of breathing to determine how hard you are exerting yourself, and keep doing the things you love. Just take it up a notch to be a little more breathless as often as you can.
Use the perceived exertion scale (based on the 20-point Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion).
10-Point Levels of Perceived Exertion
Build up from where you perceive yourself to be today, to as many levels above that you can build into your regular exercise - for life. Remember every 1-MET lift in your exercise intensity that you maintain consistently will return you a 12 percent improvement in survival rate.
Good luck, it’s worth it.
PS If you have done the maths and are starting from inactivity, and plan to go to 10 METS of intensity, you might wonder of how you can get a 120 percent improvement in survival rate. Without going into too much detail the research analysis is based on a straight line linear regression. This underestimates the improvement moving from 1-MET of intensity to 2-METS, and overestimates the improvement from say 11 METS to 12 METS.
This is good news both ways. If you are just starting to exercise then you will get disproportionate benefits (many research studies have validated this and it is the basis of public health activity guidelines). If you are already regularly exercising at 11 METS then you are well at the top of your survival statistics anyway.
The main reason is dry eyes, but there is more you can do to help
If your eyes feel like they're burning by 8 pm, you've got screen fatigue. Last week, mine did the same. So I did something about it.
Before the pandemic I was already working mostly at home, going into the city perhaps two days a week. Now I'm spending longer in front of the screen, and my eyes are sore at night.
I researched tips to relieve tired eyes, and I've put the best three into practice myself.
But if you don’t do these three things you're unlikely to keep it off
If you're looking to lose weight and to keep it off, you've no doubt been told to avoid crash dieting. Often The Biggest Loser is cited as the worst example to follow. We all know that the contestants mostly put all their weight back on, and more, right?
What research shows works best is what you've been told not to do. A study just published (March, 2020) confirms yet again that a large rapid rate loss is the best predictor of the long term ability to maintain weight loss.
Felt that slight drift when you walk? Don’t let it get worse
As we age there are two creeping disabilities that have catastrophic consequences, yet can often be dramatically slowed with a little effort. The first one is the loss of balance, and the second is loss of the strength to get up off the floor.
And, of course, the two are related. If you fall from poor balance and cannot get up off the floor, then you could be in dire trouble.
If you suffer from no complicating factors, then here are two simple at-home exercises you can do to improve your balance, and your skeletal muscle strength.
Headline: to maintain a healthy heart and blood pressure, people must limit their coffees
Drinking too many cups of coffee a day is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), e.g. heart disease and stroke, new research from the University of South Australia reveals.
The world enjoys about three billion cups of coffee every day. We'd hope that we're not poisoning ourselves! If you've ever felt jittery or irritable after one cup too many, then you are edging on the dangers found by the researchers.
I don’t feel jittery or irritable but I do drink more than the recommended number of cups daily. All things considered, I probably won’t cut back.
Since I was diagnosed at 50 with Type 2 diabetes I've been learning how to do bone-building fitness training which lowers my age. You can too. It's your choice. Walter