New Under the Sun:
Volume 1, Issue 8
Greetings!! We are in the midst of the summer heat and humidity and they are putting our bodies under a great deal of stress. One of the best ways to combat this stress is to make sure we stay as healthy as possible: eat right, exercise appropriately, and get plenty of sleep. Then the living will be easy.
News Updates: The major focus of this month’s topics is heart disease and the ways to prevent it. In addition, there is a Book Review; a new, occasional feature.
Preventing Heart Disease: Heart disease is THE major killer of both adult men and women. According to the National Institutes of Health, over 7 million Americans suffer from coronary heart disease, and over 500,000 Americans die each year from sudden heart attacks. If we want to increase our chances of living a long, healthy life, it is important that we minimize our risk of heart disease.
Adequate Sleep and Heart Health: Researchers in Japan found that men who worked over 60 hours per week had a doubled risk of having a heart attack compared to men who worked less than 40 hours per week. Those who worked longer hours also slept for shorter periods of time. Men who slept for less than five hours for two or more days each week increased their risk of heart attacks by two to three times compared to those who obtained adequate sleep. In addition, men who took few days off from work and/or had few vacations were more prone to having a heart attack. The researchers concluded that the heart attacks were the result of increased blood pressure due to inadequate sleep combined with the increased stress caused by overwork. Liu Y, Tanaka H. Overtime work, insufficient sleep, and risk of non-fatal acute myocardial infarction in Japanese men. Occup Environ Med 2002 Jul;59(7):447-51.
Research presented at the Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies showed that women who slept for less than eight hours each night had an increased risk of suffering a coronary event. This risk increased as hours slept decreased, with those sleeping five hours each night having an 82% greater chance of having a coronary event than did those who had eight hours of sleep. The population studied was women aged 45 - 65 enrolled in the US Nurses’ Health Study who did not have coronary heart disease at time of enrollment (71,617 women). Ayas N. Sleep Duration an Independent Predictor of Coronary Heart Disease in Women. 2002.
Tree Nuts and Heart Health: Eating tree nuts reduces the risk of sudden cardiac death. Researchers analyzed data from 21,454 men enrolled in the US Physicians’ Health Study and found that those men who ate tree nuts two or more times per week had a reduced risk of a sudden cardiac death compared to men who never or rarely ate tree nuts. Tree nuts are rich in nutrients associated with heart health including omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin E, potassium, and magnesium. It is probable that those men who ate tree nuts regularly also had generally superior diets to those men who did not. Albert CM, Gaziano JM, Willett WC, Manson JE. Nut consumption and decreased risk of sudden cardiac death in the Physicians' Health Study. Arch Intern Med 2002 Jun 24;162(12):1382-7.
Consumption of tree nuts is also associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a known risk factor for heart disease so preventing type 2 diabetes plays a major role in preventing heart disease. Analysis of research on a group of women (83,818) aged 34 – 59 with no prior history of heart disease or diabetes showed that the more frequently women ate tree nuts, the lower their risk for type 2 diabetes. Women who ate tree nuts five times per week had the lowest risk compared to women who never or rarely ate tree nuts. Jiang R. Nuts May Lower Risk of Diabetes. 2002. Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association: Abstracts 1644-P.
Exercise and Heart Health: A varied group of scientists compared/contrasted activity levels and health outcomes between those of us living in the 21st century and our pre-agricultural ancestors. They were primarily concerned with the factors associated with the current obesity epidemic. Their not-too-surprising conclusion was that our bodies are designed for the fairly high level of activity found in foraging populations. When we do not get the necessary level of activity, there is a disruption in the normal homeostatic mechanisms that may result in obesity. “… a sedentary lifestyle leads to a breakdown in the body's biomedical system and a failure of genes leading to chronic disease.” In terms of exercise and heart health, those who exercise have lower blood pressure. Inactivity is associated with congestive heart failure. A moderate activity level could help prevent 250,000 deaths each year from heart disease, heart attack, angina, and coronary artery disease. Exercise encourages weight loss thus limiting the development of type 2 diabetes, a major factor in stroke. Therefore, moderate daily exercise results in a healthier heart. Booth F.W, Spangenburg E.E., Chakravarthy M.V., and Gordon S.E. Waging War on Physical Inactivity: Using Modern Molecular Ammunition Against an Ancient Enemy. Journal of Applied Physiology, July 2002.
Preventing Heart Disease the AnthroHealth way: Adults should sleep at least 8 hours each night. Eat an ounce of tree nuts (such as walnuts or almonds) each day. Exercise each day by walking or swimming. In addition, eat 8 – 10 servings of richly-colored fruits and vegetables each day; and eat fatty fish such as salmon and sardines several times each week.
Book Review: This will be the first of an occasional series of brief reviews of books that should be of interest to readers of this newsletter. The inaugural book is Women and the Leadership Q by Shoya Zichy, 2001, McGraw-Hill. Although the focus is on women, the information provided in the book applies to men, too, so, Men, don’t be put off by the title. The core of the book is a personality test (based on the Myers-Briggs test) that divides the population into four major groups. These groups are color-coded: Gold, Red, Blue, and Green. I will not go into detail on the traits associated with each group because that is the fun of the book: finding out which group most closely fits you. Then, of course, it is worthwhile, and fun, to have those closest to you find out their personality type. Besides the fun involved in “colorizing” your personality, the knowledge you gain on personality types could help you reframe conflicts. Reframing conflicts helps diffuse tensions and may more easily lead to a resolution. When you realize that someone is not being deliberately antagonistic, that their personality type causes them to see the situation from a different perspective, it is easier to laugh and say, “Oh, you are a Red and I’m a Blue,” and move past the disagreement to a resolution.
The book also includes profiles of successful women who are said by the author to exemplify the traits of one of the four groups. Although these profiles can be interesting to read, they are not critical to the book. They seem to have been included to pad out the book and to allow the author to “name drop”. Women and the Leadership Q is a different spin on the usual “beach” read: it is not only fun, it may help improve your life.
AnthroHealth Tip of the Month: In the heat of the summer, dehydration can easily occur. It is a particular problem for the elderly and the very young. The very young may have trouble calling attention to their thirst, while the elderly sometimes develop less sensitivity to the signals indicating thirst. However, anyone is at risk for dehydration. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you drink plenty of water during the day, and even more if you are exercising. A good policy is to always carry some drinking water with you wherever you go. Having the water on hand makes it easier to stay hydrated. Keep a half-filled water bottle in the freezer. Prior to leaving the house, fill the remaining space with fresh water. While out and about, the ice water will slowly melt keeping the water at a drinkable temperature. A well-hydrated individual is more energetic and alert than one feeling the effects of dehydration. Drink water to your health!
© 2001-2009 Kathleen E. Fuller, PhD. All rights reserved.