Benefits of jogging come with going slowly

Jogging in the cityPeople do exercise for different reasons. For example, some people might want to lose weight and other people might want to get fit for specific sports.

I’ve reached the age where I’m thinking it would be nice to live for a bit longer, and be healthier while I’m still alive. It’s for this reason that an article published in a cardiology journal this week caught my eye.

The authors of the article had looked at a study on cardiac health carried out in Denmark over a long period of time. They had compared healthy people who jogged regularly with those who didn’t jog and were fairly inactive otherwise (sedentary lifestyle).

The main thing they were interested in was how jogging affected the risk of someone dying (from any cause).

Most people know about the benefits of jogging, and there is all sorts of medical evidence to back this up. The article this week had some surprising conclusions about how much jogging you need to do. [Read more…]

Why is sugar bad for you?

coffee cup and sugar dispenserWhen I was a child the only bad thing I ever remember hearing about eating sugar was that it would give you bad teeth. Occasionally someone might say you would get fat if you ate too much, but not very often.

Now it seems that sugar is about the worst thing you can eat. We constantly hear about how toxic sugar is, and how it can cause all kinds of health problems, including diabetes, liver disease and cancer.

So what is it about sugar that is so bad for you? Let’s start with a look at some different types of sugar. [Read more…]

Are you going through the Janopause?

Woman holding no alcohol signWell, it’s a week to go until the end of January. So far I’m managing to do what I’ve only managed once before, which is not to drink alcohol for the whole month.

Like a lot of people, I make New Year’s resolutions, and one of them is always to be healthier. To promise to do more exercise, and eat more healthily, but the main one is always to not drink alcohol until the end of January.

There are various names for this no alcohol in January business, but my favourite is “Janopause”. I’m not sure why I like it so much; maybe because it is so stupid.

Other names for no alcohol in January include “Dry January”, “Sober January” (both boring) and “Dryatholon”, (which I’ve just found out about and I love it). [Read more…]

Digestive system basics

Digestive system cartoonA big part of a healthy lifestyle is eating the right things, and avoiding the wrong things.

When talking about diet and nutrition the digestive system is mentioned a lot. So I thought I would provide a brief summary of what happens in the various parts of the digestive system.

At its simplest, you can think of the digestive system as a tube. You put food in one end of the tube.

All the nutrients your body needs are extracted from the food as it passes through, and the waste comes out the other end. [Read more…]

Vitamin B3 (niacin) health benefits

B3 imageI recently found some health-related documentaries on Netflix that are pretty good. You may already know some of them, like “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”, “Food, Inc”, and “Hungry for Change”, all of which are excellent.

Check them out if you haven’t already.

The one that really caught my attention though, is called “Food Matters”. It’s a little more laid-back in approach than the others, with mostly experts talking.

The theme of the film is how much your health could be improved by eating more healthy food, and not relying on the standard drugs and surgery approach to healthcare.

I was aware of several of the topics covered, such as mega-dose vitamin C to prevent and treat various illnesses and infections.

The thing that I hadn’t really heard about before was that Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, can be used to treat depression and lower your blood cholesterol. [Read more…]

Six ways you can start to be healthier right now

Woman with clockWhen we think about trying to be healthier it sometimes seems like it will be a hard job.

You may think of a detox or other strict diet, cutting out alcohol, running for miles, or whatever. It can seem like there’s a lot to do, so you do nothing.

But does it have to be like that?

I don’t know if you follow cycling (I don’t really), but when I was watching the cycle races at the London Olympics a couple of years ago I kept hearing the phrase “marginal gains”.

The British cycling team seemed to win more medals than anyone else and these marginal gains were said to be the key.

The idea behind this marginal gains approach is that rather than producing a big improvement in one aspect of a process, very small improvements in several areas add up to a massive overall improvement.

I’ve been thinking about this as an approach to improving health. Rather than focusing on one thing, why not just do a little better in lots of areas and let all the small health improvements add up?

So what should you be doing to produce these marginal gains in health? How can you start to be healthier today? [Read more…]

High blood cholesterol – why is it bad for you?

burger with stethoscopeWhat is cholesterol anyway?

Cholesterol is a kind of fat that you eat as a normal part of the diet. You also produce your own cholesterol in your liver.

Cholesterol is essential in your body. It is used to produce steroid hormones (testosterone, estrogen, aldosterone, cortisol, and so on), and it is important to make our body cells flexible.

So why does cholesterol get such a bad press?

High levels of cholesterol in the blood, also known as hypercholesterolemia, has been linked with all sorts of health problems, mostly due to blood vessel damage.

You may have heard about “good” cholesterol and “bad cholesterol”, but really there is only one kind of cholesterol (a bit of an oversimplification but we don’t want to go mad here). It is where the cholesterol is found that makes it good or bad, and how much of it there is.

You may also have heard of LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, dietary cholesterol, endogenous cholesterol, and so on. What I thought I might do here is try to make some sense of cholesterol and why too much of it can be bad for you. [Read more…]

Nine popular weight-loss diets and how they work

weight-loss diets doctor with appleI’m always intrigued by the names of the various weight-loss diets that come along from time to time.

You usually hear about them at the beginning of January when everyone is trying to lose a few pounds as one of their new year resolutions, or in late spring/early summer when everyone is trying to squeeze into their swimsuits.

I suppose the intriguing names are designed to draw us in, and make us think that maybe this time it will be different. Maybe this time you will lose weight, and keep the weight off.

Making weight-loss diets less boring

I’m a firm believer that if you want to lose weight you just need to eat less and exercise more, but that’s a bit boring isn’t it? Following a diet with a catchy name and a clear philosophy behind it must help to motivate us. [Read more…]

Should we drink more water?

Woman with waterMost people seem to agree that drinking more water is good for us.

In articles in print and on the web, and on television and radio, we are told to drink at least two litres of water a day, or eight cups of water a day, or some other amount.

But the main message is always that we should drink more water.

Since water makes up between three quarters and just over half of our body weight, depending on age, this water has to come from somewhere.

There is now a “Drink Up” campaign, that encourages us to drink more water, with a website that I really can’t understand. Maybe it’s just saying drinking water is cool (nothing wrong with that, of course), with it’s own #spreadthewater hashtag.

I have no reason not to believe that drinking more water is good for us. After all, everyone seems to be in agreement. But I do wonder what evidence there is to support the idea that we need to drink more water. [Read more…]

Walking for exercise

Woman walking for exerciseSomething that always amazes me is the number of people who drive everywhere, park as close as possible to where they are going, and seem to avoid walking at all costs.

A lot of the people I know who do this also have gym memberships and go there to exercise fairly regularly. They probably drive right up to the gym door too.

So what’s my problem? I’m wondering why these people don’t take the opportunity to exercise by walking, that’s what. Walking is great exercise and it would supplement what they do at the gym.

There are also people who don’t go to the gym, but drive everywhere. Why don’t they walk? Most people without a serious disability can walk, but many of them don’t.

Here we look at some of the potential benefits of walking for exercise. [Read more…]