Coffee and Heart Disease
The Swedish Heart Epidemiology Program has followed for eight years 1,369 people who had their first heart attack between 1992 and 1994. 276 participants died during the study. After a multivariant analysis, coffee consumption showed a "strong inverse relationship with mortality."
People were categorized by the number of cups consumed per day: less than 1, 1 to 3, 3 to 5, 5 to 7 and greater than 7. Compared with those who drank less than 1 cup a day, mortality was 32 percent lower for those who drank 1 to 3 cups, 48 percent lower for those who drank 3 to 5 cups, and 42 percent lower for those who drank more than 7 cups. Sorry, I cannot find a link to the study, but my source is the Internal Medicine News, Dec. 1, 2008, page 40.
Then, if you like coffee, you simply must read this delightfully illustrated op-ed piece from today's New York Times online
Posted 11:22 AM
A Wonderful Link for You
Here is a link to a wonderfully written weekly post about a better, more sane life.
"Spiritual Wealth" is a soul-satisfying, stress-reducing, life-affirming essay, a reminder of what is important. Please check it out; it's free and without advertising.
Posted 11:32 AM
What Part of Preventive Medicine Do We Not Yet Understand?
Americans are less healthy today than four years ago.
That is the astonishing conclusion of a report
of 23 measures of America's health done by the huge health insurer United Health Group. The leading problems are the number of uninsured, the exploding obesity epidemic, and the 20 percent who still smoke.
What part of preventive medicine do we not yet understand?
"An investment of $10 per person per year in programs to increase physical activity, improve nutrition, and prevent smoking would cut national healthcare costs by $16 billion annually within five years, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. That is a return of $5.60 for each dollar spent." That quote is from the Minneapolis Star Tribune article
, which captures the problem nicely.
Click through these CDC obesity maps
to watch the obesity epidemic explode over the past 28 years. (I am talking about obesity, not overweight.) Then consider that obesity causes 90 percent of all type-2 diabetes, 20+ percent of cancers of the breast and colon, that obese teenagers have the arteries of 40- or even 50- year-olds. Then remember that 90 percent of all lung cancers and maybe 50 percent of oral cancers are caused by cigarette smoking. Think about the fact that Americans spend more on health care than any other nation, but rank only about 50th in life expectancy.
Ouch. We can, and indeed must, do better.
Posted 12:56 PM
The Drip, Drip, Drip of Stress in 2008
Recently, I read an article saying that Americans are more stressed today than in 1980. Like that's a newsworthy article?
Give me a break — we're drowning in a constant ourpouring of stress hormones right now. Every evening, the broadcast news breathlessly reports that there is a new war in Darfour/the Congo/Zimbabwe/the Thai airport/Mombai/Kandihar/Baghdad, or a family five states away was murdered, and, oh, by the way, the stock market is still in free-fall, and the number of unemployed is rising — including maybe, just maybe, us too. Your Blackberry is demanding your attention, the television is reporting your neighbor's foreclosure, and your teenage daughter wants to marry a 38-year-old biker dude with more tattoos than you care to count, and your 12-year old has just announced that he/she wants to be goth.
The Creator gave us stress hormones to increase our chances of survival when the tiger was prowling right outside the cave: Fight or flight. Historically and evolutionarily, we spent the vast majority of our time quietly picking berries, catching fish, making babies, looking at the stars. Until the tiger appeared and then our stress hormones kicked in.
But today we are bombarded with constant and stressful and instantaneous announcements of pending doom (tigers outside the cave). Our stress response is not a once-a-year thing, it is a minute-by-minute thing. Our stress hormones are dripping constantly into our blood.
Constant stress is not healthy. We have to learn to chill.
Here is my recipe for refuge from stress:
Make and take 30 minutes for yourself every day. Just you, no one else. Turn off the cell phone, turn off the television, turn off the iPod, turn off the world. During this time, do something that is just for you in a manner that would appeal to your great-great grandparent. Take a quiet walk in the park, bake bread, meditate, chop wood (Grandpa's version of exercise), or practice abdominal breathing.
What? Grandpa did not do abdominal breathing? Well, maybe not, but he should have. Abdominal breathing resets your inner biological rhythms by calming the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
Here is the deal: Start by lying down and put your hands on your belly. For the next 10 minutes, you are going to raise those hands on your belly every time you inhale and lower them when you exhale. Concentrate on making each exhale and each inhale the same length. Concentrate on your breathing. Feel the air go in and go out.
Once you get the action, you can do this sitting up; but do start lying down. Now, do this twice a day for 10 minutes each time. Do this for 3 or 4 minutes before a stressful meeting. Do this to reset your biological stress level.
I don't quite understand why, but I can almost guarantee that abdominal breathing works.
What is your secret for lowering your stress levels? Write me and we can share ideas.
Thank you. Stay well.
Posted 2:54 PM
What Diet is Best to Lower the Risk of Heart Disease?
I recently saw a young, delightful gentleman, who was in perfect health — except for a sky-high coronary calcium score (an indicator of severe coronary artery disease). He was fully medicated with all of the correct medications and his lipid values were enviable. He exercised 45 minutes five days a week. He had never smoked.
We got into an energetic discussion about the best diet for him. He was following an American Heart Association diet that emphasized low fat, low carb, fish (he ate salmon but preferred fresh water fish like tilapia and walleye), a couple of vegetables and fruits, a whole grain cereal every morning, and 2 glasses of red wine a day.
Thinking of the Lyon Heart Study here
(look at the graph on slide 3), and here
, I proposed that a Mediterranean diet would be healthier. This diet, nicely described in this Wikipedia article
, and the Old Ways Web site
emphasizes olive oil, deep water fish, legumes, fruits and veggies, and nuts; while de-emphasizing saturated and omega 6 fats, and processed foods.
The articles all support the healthful benefits of this diet, and conclude with requests or suggestions for more research on the topic. I agree. And until then, I will continue to promote the Mediterranean diet. Stay tuned because the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet will be a major topic of this blog.
My dinner tonight was two handfuls of nuts as an appetizer, pork tenderloin sauteed in olive oil, green beans with rosemary dressed lightly with olive oil, a salad of mixed greens dressed with, you guessed it, olive oil and apple cider vinegar, red wine to drink, and a pear claufoti for dessert. Something like sauteed monk fish would have been better, but I did pretty well.
Eat well to stay well.
Dr. Bob Gleeson
Posted 4:33 PM
Eat Well, Live Better
The Mediterranean diet wins again
— and again and again. In fact, I have never read an article or scientific report where the Mediterranean diet was even remotely linked with higher mortality. Most studies show a 30 percent decrease in mortality for people and populations who eat a Mediterranean diet.
The western diet of steak, hot dogs, and french fries promotes disease, while a Mediterranean diet of fruits, vegetables, and olive oil promotes health. The choice is simple, and the results clear.
In future blogs, I will work to define this diet. Suffice it to say, anytime you choose vegetables and fish over fish and chips you move to a healthier place.
Make life simple, choose health.
Posted 9:10 AM