Monday, October 24, 2016

Strenuous Physical Activity May Protect Memory in Later Life

Exercise is a very important part of any healthy lifestyle. Diet and exercise are generally believed to be among the most important elements in weight loss, weight management and general health. But there is always some debate as to which is more important, diet or exercise. Many experts agree, however, that for weight loss, diet is more effective  than exercise -- at least initially. But once weight is lost, exercise is necessary for weight maintenance or weight control. And exercise may be beneficial to memory.

Exercise is already viewed as essential for improving metabolic processes. These include blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, HbA1c and glucose control. And a recent study indicates that physical activity during midlife leads to better cognitive abilities as a person gets older.

The study was done in Finland, and it looked at 3050 twins. The results of the study indicated that moderately vigorous physical activity resulted in better cognitive abilities after 25 years. The results were obtained by comparing the cognitive abilities of twin pairs, where one of the twins engaged in strenuous physical activity and the other did not. Strenuous physical activity did not necessarily improve memory, but the activity did counter memory loss. But the physical activity had to be activity that is more strenuous than walking.

Since physical activity is very important for good health in general, and maybe for some cognitive protection, it would be great if there was a way to obtain the benefits of physical activity without engaging in physical activity -- a pill for example. To this end, a mouse study being done at Deakin University in Australia might eventually lead to such a pill -- an "exercise pill." In the study, the pill does not cause the mice to lose weight, however, it does make them metabolically healthier.
At any rate, physical activity is important for weight loss, weight control, and good metabolic health. And if the study results referenced above are valid, strenuous physical activity in midlife can help us maintain cognitive abilities as we get older. Therefore, the results should be useful to healthcare providers as they counsel patients on healthy lifestyles.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Does Higher Meal Frequency Lead to Wight Loss?

For some time, many people have felt that eating a higher number of small meals per day will likely cause a person to lose weight. And some studies do show that increasing meal frequency from, say, three meals per day to six meals per day, does lead to weight loss and improved metabolic health. But again, some studies show that an increasing meal frequency does not lead to weight loss or improved metabolic conditions.

A 2014 study, published in the International Journal of obesity, investigated the effectiveness of meal frequency on 119 overweight Hispanic children who were 8 to 18 years old. The investigators compared infrequent eaters, or eaters who ate less than three times a day, with frequent eaters, or eaters who ate three or more meals a day. The investigators concluded that "the [meal] frequency is related to decreased obesity and metabolic disease risk in overweight Hispanic youth, despite increases in energy intake."

However, in another study reported in the British Journal of Nutrition, the study's investigators suggested that the higher meal frequency does not show any advantages. In the eight-week study, obese subjects were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group contained subjects who ate three meals per day, where each subject consumed the same amount of calories. And the other group contained subjects who ate six meals a day. Again, each subject in this group consumed the same amount of calories. The investigators concluded that the subjects in the two groups "lost significant and equivalent amounts of weight."

Further, the investigators indicated that "studies have found that increased meal frequency doesn’t appear to significantly enhance diet-induced thermogenesis, total energy expenditure or resting metabolic rate."

So the opinions on the effectiveness of meal frequency are indeed mixed. It might be that for some people, a higher meal frequency may be effective, and for others, a higher meal frequency might not be effective. More randomized controlled studies are warranted. This is the only way that usable evidence can be gained.

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