October, 2005 Visit Website
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In This Issue

How to Add 20 Wonderful Years to your Life

Melatonin Relieves Migraines

Exercise is Important for Mental Health

Did you know?

How to Add 20 Wonderful Years to your Life

Steven G. Aldana, PhD. - Brigham Young University says that everyone knows that a healthful lifestyle - eating right, exercising, not smoking, etc - is the key to disease prevention. He says that what people may not realize is that each healthful change can add years to your life; by making several changes, you may be able to add 20 years or more. He explains that most chronic diseases are almost entirely due to lifestyle factors; about 7l% of colon cancer cases are avoidable, as are 82% of heart disease cases and 41% of diabetes cases.

Steven Aldana says that people don't have to completely turn their lives around to get significant benefits. For example, someone who exercises for 30 minutes six times a week can gain .4 years of life, even if he/she remains overweight or doesn't adequately control his blood pressure.

Aldana explains that making multiple changes can give exponential (rather than just additive) gains. Studies have shown that if you eat nuts regularly, you add 2.5 years to your life, and if you reduce high blood ensure, you gain 3.7 years. Add that to the 2.4 years you gain from exercising, and the total is 8.6 years - but the increase in life span can be even greater.

Not smoking is probably the most important change. Men who smoke a pack a day lose an average of 13 years of life, while women lose 14 years. The earlier in your life that you start to make changes, the better-but it is never too late.

Aldana names the following as the most important steps:


Studies show that eating one-quarter cup of nuts five times a week can add years to your life. Tree nuts and peanuts (though technically a legume) are high in beneficial fats, antioxidants and other protective phytochemicals. One study found that women who ate peanut butter five or more times a week had a 21% reduction in diabetes risk.

A nut-rich diet can lower LDL cholesterol by about one-third-the same amount achieved with some stain drugs. He suggests eating a variety-walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc-to get a greater number of protective chemical compounds.

This lengthens life by... 2.5 years.


People who increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables from two to five servings a day can reduce by half the risk of many cancers-including pancreatic, colorectal and endometrial cancers. Produce also greatly reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and Alzheimer's disease.

The fiber in produce binds to potential carcinogens in the intestine and prevents them from entering the bloodstream. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of antioxidants and other phytochemicals that inhibit oxidation and inflammation-triggers that cause normal cells to become cancerous.

Aldana suggesting having a serving of fruit with breakfast every day...snack on a handful of dried fruit... eat carrot sticks at lunch... and have a vegetable salad with dinner.

This lengthens life by...2 to 4 years.*


For every 10 grams (g) of fiber you consume per day, your risk of heart attack goes down by 14% and risk of death from heart disease drops by 27%. People who eat as little as two servings of fiber-rich whole grains daily can reduce their risk of stroke by 36%.

Fiber-rich foods also reduce colon cancer risk. Fiber speeds digested food through the intestine and reduces the time that the colon is exposed to carcinogens. It also binds to excess estrogen and promotes its excretion in stooI-this is important for preventing estrogen-dependent breast cancers. Fiber causes a drop in LDL cholesterol and reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, blockages in the arteries that promote heart disease.

Aldana suggests getting at least 25g to 30g fiber daily. Whole grains are good sources. For example, two slices of whole-grain bread plus one cup of whole-grain cereal can provide up to 10g of fiber.

This lengthens life by...2 to 4 years.*


People who increase their intake of mono- and polyunsaturated fats and cut back on saturated fat can achieve drops in cholesterol that are comparable to those achieved by taking statin drugs. Improvements in cholesterol levels translate into a 12% to 44% reduction in the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Mono- and polyunsaturated fats, along with the omega-3 fatty acids in cold-water fish such as salmon appear to reduce blood vessel inflammation that causes clots, the cause of most heart attacks.

Aldana suggests getting 20% of total daily calories from healthful fats (in olive oil, nuts, fish, etc.) and limiting saturated fat (in butter, red meat, whole milk, etc.) to 10% or less.

He also says that it is important to eliminate trans fats (often called "partially hydrogenated" oils which are found in many margarines and commercially baked goods). Americans get an average of 3% of total calories from trans fats. If we cut that percentage to 1 %, the risk of heart disease would be reduced by half-and there would be 347,000 fewer deaths each year.

This lengthens life by...3 to 5 years.*


Excess weight greatly increases the risk of cancer, diabetes and hypertension. A person who is 20 pounds over his/her ideal weight is 50% more likely to develop heart disease-and the risk increases as weight increases.

In addition to regular exercise Aldana suggests:

  • Eat most meals at home. Restaurant food tends to be higher in calories.
  • Drink water instead of soda. The sugar in soft drinks is a main contributor to weight gain---and artificial sweeteners have not been proven safe.
  • Don't eat in front of the TV. Studies show that people who engage in "mind-less" eating take in far more calories.
  • Weigh yourself weekly to track your progress-or identify backsliding.

This lengthens life by..l1 years.
(This is the difference in life span between obese and normal-weight adults.)


Vigorous exercise is ideal, but it's not realistic for many of the 78% of Americans who describe themselves as sedentary. People who engage in moderate exercise at least three to five times a week can reduce their blood pressure by an awing): of 10 points and dramatically lower their risk of diabetes.

Studies show that even mild exercise, such as walking for 30 minutes a day, can increase life span by two to five years. Any kind of exercise, even working in the yard, is beneficial.

This lengthens life by...2 to 5 years.

*Numbers with asterisks are estimates. Numbers without asterisks are based on actual studies.

Melatonin Relieves Migraines

Mario F. Peres, MD, PhD, director, Sao Paulo Headache Center, Brazil, and leader of the study, published in Neurology has found that when people who averaged two to eight migraines per month took 3 milligrams (mg) of the hormone melatonin a day, they had significant pain relief during migraine attacks and a 50% to 100% drop in frequency by the end of the third month. 8 of the 32 people studied stopped having migraines entirely.

Exercise is Important for Mental Health

Exercise is as important for the mind as it is for the body. Studies have shown that it promotes relaxation, reduces anxiety and increases energy. Active people cope with stressful situations better than people who are sedentary. In a Duke University study, middle-aged people who suffered from depression gained as much benefit from 30 minutes of walking three times a week as a comparison group did from an antidepressant.

Exertion spurs the release of endorphins, natural opiate-like brain chemicals that evoke feelings of pleasure. It interrupts the cascade of negative thoughts that are associated with anxiety and depression. Regular exercise also may raise levels of brain chemicals that promote the growth of new brain cells. Exercise intensity matters less than regularity. They suggest aiming to walk briskly, run, cycle or swim for at least 30 minutes a day, three times a week.

Did you know?

  • Overuse of antibiotics really does drive the evolution of superbugs. The Antibiotic Resistance, Prevention and Control project looked al 300 European hospitals and found that those using most antibiotics had the highest levels of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Hospitals with tightest infection control, such as isolating patients with MRSA, had the lowest levels.

In Good Health.
Pamela Nathan

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