Monday, January 21, 2013

Over 75? You CAN have your cake and eat it as a poor diet makes no difference to your health

Epidemiological evidence is good for disproving theories and this is an example of that

Many of us spend decades trying to overcome our food demons by avoiding fast food restaurants and resisting the dessert tray.

But you may as well call a ceasefire in the battle of the bulge when you hit 75, say scientists from Penn State from Pennsylvania, as a diet is unlikely to make much difference after this.   Researchers found elderly people who followed a high-fat or high-sugar diet were no more likely to suffer from conditions such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes than those following a healthy diet.

They followed 449 pensioners for five years, who were around 76 years old at the start of the study.

They called each five times during a 10-month period and asked them about their diet over the previous 24 hours.

The authors then placed them in three broad dietary groups. The 'sweet and dairy' pattern included those who got the most energy from baked goods, milk and dairy-desserts. The 'health conscious pattern' included higher intakes of rice, whole fruit, poultry, fish and vegetables. The 'western pattern' included higher intakes of bread, fried foods and alcohol.

Using outpatient electronic medical records, the researchers identified whether the participants developed cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome during the five-year period.

They found the participants were no more likely to suffer from these conditions whether they followed the 'sweets and dairy',  'western' or 'health conscious' diets.

The one link they found was a slightly higher risk of hypertension among 'sweets and dairy' followers.

Study author Gordon Jensen said: 'The results suggest that if you live to be this old, then there may be little to support the use of overly restrictive dietary prescriptions, especially where food intake may already be inadequate.

'However, people who live on prudent diets all their lives are likely to have better health outcomes.'

The research, published in the Journal of Nutrition Health and Aging is one of the first studies to examine the health effects of poor diets on the elderly.

Prof Jensen added that the traditional 'elderly person' was less likely to be 'tiny and frail' and more likely to be overweight or obese.  He said: 'Recent reports suggest that there may be survival benefits associated with overweight and mild obesity status among the elderly.'


Why rest is as crucial as exercise in keeping fit: Breaks allow muscles to recover and makes the body get fitter faster

This is a tiny study of an unrepresentative group so cannot be relied on

If your resolution to exercise more is leaving you tired out, put your feet up.  Research suggests that short rest periods are just as important as the exercise itself.

Taking it easy now and again not only allows the muscles to recover, it also makes the body fitter faster, Stirling University sports scientists believe.

Their study was of keen cyclists but they think that men and women who are simply trying to get a bit fitter could also benefit from building periods of rest into their exercise programme.

In the study, 12 cyclists were split into two groups. One did bursts of high intensity exercise, interspersed with short rest periods, three times a week.

In each session, they pedalled hard, but below sprint pace, for four minutes, then stopped for two minutes, before repeating the pattern five times.  The second group rode continuously for an hour at a slightly easier pace, three times a week.

After four weeks, the two groups swapped programmes.

Tests showed the first programme, which involved a mixture of tough training and taking it easy, to be the most beneficial, leading to twice as big an improvement in power and performance.

Researcher Stuart Galloway, an exercise physiologist, said: ‘It is a case of training smarter.

‘We found in these cyclists that if you can make the hard sessions harder and the easy sessions easier, then you will likely see better progress.

‘Amateur athletes tend to spend a lot of their training in the moderate intensity bracket which in our study showed smaller improvements.

‘For the wider public, most people were advised to do moderate intensity exercise for around three hours a week.

‘More recently, high-intensity bouts of exercise such as spin cycling classes or interval running have been presented as the best option.

‘We would suggest that while high intensity is still important, it’s the combination with low intensity which has the biggest impact.’

It is thought that muscles find it harder to recover from long periods of exercise, than from short bursts, even if they are physically tougher.

Dr Angus Hunter, co-author of the study which appears in the Journal of Applied Physiology, said: ‘Your muscles may be fatigued more quickly when you work at high intensity but they recover more quickly too.’

This could leave people feeling less tired in between exercise sessions.

Dr Galloway said: ‘Often everything merged into the middle, so the hard sessions aren’t hard enough and the easy session aren’t easy enough.

‘If you feel fatigued after exercising and are taking too long to recover, it is probably because you have done a session of continuous, moderate intensity exercise.’

The study is one several to extol the virtues of short, sharp bursts of exercise.

Aberdeen University research suggests that short, sharp burst of exercise are better at warding off heart disease than much longer, but less strenuous, sessions.

Concentrated effort may also burn off more calories - as well as being easier to fit into a hectic day.


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