Thursday, July 23, 2009

Getting Rid of Belly Fat

Sit-ups will not get rid of belly fat because you cannot get rid of fat in a certain area just by exercising the muscles underneath that fat. You will lose the most belly fat by exercising intensely in any sport (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, November 2008). Three groups of overweight, middle-aged women who suffered from Metabolic Syndrome completed 16-week programs of: (1) continuing their existing levels of activity with no change; (2) low-intensity exercise training five times a week at a level that did not cause breathing hard; and (3) high-intensity exercise training with three days a week hard enough to become short of breath and two days a week at an intensity not becoming short of breath. Cat scan X rays and air displacement plethysmography studies showed that the high intensity exercisers lost belly fat, both underneath their skin and inside their bellies. The low-intensity exercisers lost no measurable belly fat.

Storing extra fat in the belly causes people to become diabetic. Full fat cells produce hormones that prevent the body from responding to insulin so that blood sugar rises too high, causing sugar to stick to cells and damaging cells anywhere in the body. Those who store fat primarily in the belly are the ones most likely to suffer high rises in blood sugar. If you store fat primarily in your belly, have high blood levels of triglycerides and sugar, and low levels of the good HDL cholesterol, you meet the definition of Metabolic Syndrome and the odds are that you are diabetic, or will become diabetic soon. You are likely to suffer a premature death unless you make major lifestyle changes: lose weight, exercise, avoid refined carbohydrates (except during exercise), and make sure you get enough vitamin D.

Exercise can cause heart attacks in people with blocked arteries, and intense exercise increases the risk. Almost 80 percent of diabetics die of heart attacks. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program or increasing the intensity of your existing program.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Caffeine May Help to Prevent Alzheimer's

Two studies in the July 2009 issue of Journal of Alzheimer's Disease show that the equivalent of five cups of coffee a day reverses memory loss in mice with Alzheimer's disease. The coffee also reduced blood and brain levels of beta-amyloid,the abnormal protein that may cause Alzheimer's disease in mice and people. Other studies by the same researchers at the University of Florida show that caffeine lowers blood levels of beta-amyloid in elderly non-demented humans, and when given in early adulthood, prevents memory loss in mice bred to develop Alzheimer's disease in old age. Previous studies on rabbits also showed that caffeine may help to prevent Alzheimer's.

Researchers at the Florida Alzheimer's Disease Research Committee plan to start studies in humans to evaluate whether caffeine can prevent memory loss of early Alzheimer's disease. Other experiments by the same group show that caffeine may prevent memory loss by blocking the enzymes that make beta amyloid.

The amount of caffeine in two to five cups of coffee (200 to 500 milligrams) is probably safe, but more than five cups a day may cause insomnia, nervousness, irritability, nausea, anxiety, a fast or irregular heartbeat, headaches, breast pain or muscle tremors. People who have high blood pressure or narrowed arteries leading to the heart may be advised to restrict caffeine. However, the Nurse's Study showed that heavy coffee drinking is not associated with increased risk for high blood pressure. Unfiltered coffee raises blood levels of the bad LDL cholesterol and blood sugar levels after eating. Pregnant women are advised to restrict caffeine since it may cause miscarriage or low birth weight.

Many studies show that caffeine can improve mood, alertness and energy, prevent diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and liver cancer, decrease the risk of stroke and may help prevent skin cancer. It also increases endurance in athletes.