Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Grim effects of lack of sleep.

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As I have detailed many times, sleep issues are very common - and we at HMHB also have our own problems. It happens to many, and it feels like you are trapped sometimes.

Now, an expert has warned that a lack of sleep leads to heart disease, weight gain, and even interferes with our DNA. It was spelled out in a survey that concluded that just one in six of us is getting the recommended eight hours of rest a night - I know I am not!!!

When you are sleep deprived you are at risk of raised blood pressure, higher cholesterol and damage to the immune system. This is according to Professor Paul Gringas, who works in the field of sleep medicine in London.

"Just one night's bad sleep changes epigenetic signals to our DNA, that cause weight gain and loss of muscle mass and can affect thew way that memories are laid down in the hippocampus - part of our brains."

44 per cent of people get under 6 hours of sleep a night.
85 per cent of people found their sleep improved when they exercised during the day.

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Sleep deprivation can also result in an increased risk of new and advanced respiratory diseases. A lack of sleep can affect body weight. Two hormones in thee body - leptin and ghrelin - control feelings of hunger  and satiety, or fullness. The levels of these hormones are affected by sleep.

Your central nervous system is the information highway of your body. Sleep is necessary to keep it functioning properly, but chronic insomnia can disrupt how your body usually sends information. During sleep, pathways form between nerve cells (neurons) in your brain that help you remember new information you have learned. Sleep deprivation leaves your brain exhausted, so it cannot perform its duties as well.

Without sleep, it negatively affects your mental abilities and emotional state. You can feel impatient or prone to mood swings. It compromises your decision making and creativity. It takes away your focus.

HMHB says:
We firmly see the link between mental health and sleep. Anxiety, stress, depression eat away at you, and at night, when things are generally quiet, this is when our brains seem to go into overdrive, concentrating on all that is bad. There is no easy answer. No easy solution. All we can do is try and address issues affecting us, try and change that mindset and push ourselves on. It is tough.

Electric shocks to stop obesity!!! - a genuine study here!!

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Okay, I know we have to stop an obesity epidemic, and part of that is controlling the urge to eat - and I know all about that as I constantly have to watch my weight.

But it is reported that obese volunteers will get an electric shock when they think about binge-eating in a new medical trial. Seriously???  Apparently, electrodes will be implanted in their brains so they can be zapped when they feel compelled to over-eat!

US Scientists (I guess this had to stem from America) say experiments on overweight mice show it is possible to identify brain signals that administer electric shocks to stop it. (I would point our the mice cannot complain!!).

It has to be said it was successful. Food bingeing by the mice was reduced by 75 per cent. Researchers at California's Stanford University are still seeking human volunteers. They say the human guinea pigs' brain activity will be studied for months before the shocks are turned on to ensure they can accurately detect when patients crave unhealthy food.

Study leader Doctor Casey Halpern said: "we do not know what a binge looks like or what food craving looks like in a human - so we need to define that first."

HMHB says:
Look, anything that can help people control their overeating and build to a healthier lifestyle and eating habits is great. But giving people electric shocks, in our opinion, seems a little excessive.
We realise they will not be too harsh. When we saw this story online there was a mock up picture of a bloke whop seemed to have stuck his finger into a plug socket. We are sure it wont feel anything like that.
But surely there are better ways to look at eating habits??  The mice were not able to tell scientists just how uncomfortable any of this was. Even though I have yoyoed in weight, and am still on a weight loss regime, I do not think I would want to sign up to this research.  Let's see what happens?

Monday, 19 August 2019

How can I start to be more physically active?

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We all know how important it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It negates certain health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and even some cancers. It improves the blood and osygen delivery around our bodies, and lifts confidence and mood.

This includes a healthy diet, as well as more exercise. That can be a scary word - "exercise".  It conjures up images of working in a gym, sweating for an hour, lifting weights, running hard, etc.

But it does not have to be that way. We can all find ways to improve our activity levels.

This is two fold. Firstly, when do we exercise. We fee like we have to find an hour's gap in our schedule. But that does not have to be the case. I recall chatting with someone who told me, in all seriousness, that her week was so busy there was never time for her to exercise. None. The whole week!!!
The other side is how long we need to exercise for. Again, some people think if they cannot get to a gym and spend an hour running and stretching and using weights then there was no point in start to do any fitness.
How about a brisk ten minute walk - can be to the shop, or to work,, or round the local park.  Do this two or three times a day. Small increases in activity are easier to maintain and will give you a regular feeling of success.  Create little targets for you to hit. Put down the phone, turn off the television, and give your body a chance to sweat and push itself.  We even had a lady who would do five mins of exercise during the adverts of her favourite show. If you want to do it, you will find the time. So ask yourself; how badly do you want to reach your targets?

Enjoy it
Even the thought of exercise can be daunting. Not everyone like to run, or cycle, or swim.
But there has to be something you enjoy.  If you say no to this, then maybe you are suffering from depression or anxiety - if so, go and get some professional help.
Some might like to dance, others a ball game, and others just walking a dog. If you find an activity fun, you are more likely to keep doing it again and again.

Get outdoors
Yes, you can exercise at home. It is a terrific way to keep fit. But getting outdoors can be rewarding. Our planet is astonishing. It has so much to offer you. Yes, many stay stuck indoors in front of televisions and screens. Find a natural resort like a park. Outside activities like jogging, walking, cycling, even gardening, can improve well being, and even give you a sense of grounding and perspective.  Fresh air into your lungs - but try, with exercise, to get yourself slightly breathless. This opens the lungs more, you take larger breaths, improving oxygen intake.

Take your time
One of the reasons people give up on New Year Resolutions is that they want instant success and feel they have to go all in, or there is no point.  They go from no activity to wanting to do two hours a day, and when they naturally fall at an early hurdle they then don't get back up and carry on.
Build up gradually. Go from an extra ten minutes a day, to twenty, to thirty, but change it up over weeks and months.
Too much exercise can make stress worse or even cause injury. Find something that motivates you, set challenges, and achievable goals - but then keep adding to them.

Find friends to motivate you and work with
This could be the biggest advantage. Find people who appreciate your goals, but also want to change their lives too. They can walk with you, jog with you, exercise with you. It will help you maintain and reach your  targets. Maybe look our for local clubs and groups that you enjoy. It's a terrific way to meet new friends, which again combats isolation and loneliness, and both of these can quickly cripple you.

Positive mindset
Finally, this is the most important of all. Celebrate progress. Understand that it will be a rocky road and you will undoubtedly fail sometimes, but this does not mean you should give up. See obstacles as something to overcome, and not something to block your path. Set realistic goals and go for them 100%. Get professional help if you feel you need it, but try and surround yourself with people who know your targets.

HMHB says:
At HMHB, we have all had to overcome situations that had the potential to seriously derail us. Staying physically active is paramount to helping you move on in life. It keeps you energised and confident. It is very easy to slip into a rut. But it is your responsibility to make the best choices possible to give you every chance of a better healthier life.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Obesity raises Bowel and Breast cancer risks;

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There are many people overweight or obese - and they say they are "comfortable" with their weight, and that people should mind their own business.  But study after study suggests that they are causing themselves more and more problems, especially with preventable disease.  It also costs the NHS a huge amount of money. You can choose!!!!

Now it is reported that being too fat dramatically raises the risk of dying from bowel and breast cancers. In fact, they report that every year spent overweight between the age of 20 and 50 raises the risk of fatal bowel cancers by four per cent, and for breast cancer by three per cent.

But the worst news is for people who consistently remain overweight for many years - the risk of fatal bowel cancer rises to an incredible 224 per cent, and for breast cancer by 143 per cent.  Although experts studied 47000 women, they expect similar results for men.  So remaining overweight, and doing nothing about, can end your life!!!! Why would you not lose weight???

Two thirds of adults are now reported to be overweight or obese. Two thirds!!!!!! It can raise key hormones, damage DNA and trigger inflammation. All of these are linked to tumour growth

Researcher Doctor Isabella Soerjomataram, of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, said: "our research shows that effective prevention of overweight and obesity must start at an early age." More than 55000 Brits are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, with 11,500 dying - and many of these cases are preventable with lifestyle choice changes.  Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK. There are 40,000 new cases annually, with 16000 deaths.  It is thoughts that at least ten per cent are caused by being overweight or obese.

HMHB says:
For many people, being overweight is self-inflicted. Yes, there are certain medical conditions that can affect your size, but most cases are down to overeating, little exercise, and sedentary lifestyles. The fact that many of these deaths are preventable is shocking. You can do something about it. You do not have to do it on your own. There are many organisations and free interventions that can help you lose weight. It can save your life!!!! Where is the choice?? What do you want???

Saturated Fat: High levels are dangerous - research here.

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Fats are made of long chains of Carbon atoms - in the periodical table, the symbol for Carbon is C. Some carbon atoms are linked by single bonds - for example: C-C-:  others are linked by double bonds - for example: C=C=.  Double bonds can react with Hydrogen to form single bonds. Thet are called "saturated", because the second bond is broken and each half of the bond is attached to (or saturated) a hydrogen atom.

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Most animal fats are saturated. The fats of plants and fish are generally unsaturated.  Guidelines released by many medical organisations, including the World Health Organisation, have advocated for reduction in the intake of saturated fat to promote health and reduce the risk from cardiovascular diseases.

Now, a study by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition has warned that too much saturated fat - commonly found in milk, cheese, butter, biscuits etc. - raises cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. Instead people should switch to unsaturated oils, found in avocados, and oily fish.

The dietary body reported we should be aiming to get just ten per cent of our calories from saturated fats. The current average is around 13.5 per cent.

Some people have suggested warning people off butter and steak is counterproductive, as they would turn to alternatives such as white bread and sugar.

Not all the research days the same thing. Last year a study of more than 218,000 found those eating the most dairy and red meat saw chances of an early death fall by 25 per cent.  But many scientists said that this was okay if people limited their intake.  Professor Naveed Sattar, an expert in metabolic medicine at Glasgow University, said: "the evidence continue to suggest saturated fats increase cholesterol and the risk of heart disease remains clear."

A former obesity Czar (there are such things), Susan Jebb, said that saturated fats intake must be reduced. By doing that it would also cut total calorie intake, and less sugar in the diet too, bringing with it much wider health benefits.

Monday, 5 August 2019

Are "fat genes" an excuse for being overweight?? Why are we fat???

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Everyone knows that some people appear to eat ice-cream, cake, and other tasty fattening foods, and never seem to gain weight. Others, like myself it feels, just have to walk past Greggs and their waistlines start to grow.

Why is this? What are the causes of obesity? What allows one person to remain thin without effort but demands that another struggle to avoid gaining weight or regaining the pounds he or she has previously lost?

On a simple straightforward level, your weight ultimately depends on the number of calories you consume, how many of these you store, and how many you burn up. However, these factors can be influenced by a combination of genes and environment. Both can affect your physiology (such as how fast you burn calories), as well as your behaviour (the types of food you choose to eat, for instance). This interplay between these factors continues throughout your whole life.

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The balance of calories stored and burned depends on your genetic makeup, your levels of physical activity, and the resting energy expenditure (the number of calories your body burns while at rest). If you consistently burn all the calories you consume in the course of the day, you will maintain or lose weight. If you consume more energy (calories) than you expend you will naturally gain weight.

Excess calories are stored throughout your body as fat. Your body stores this fat within specialised fat cells (adipose tissue) - either by enlarging fat cells, which are always present in the body, or by creating more of them. if you decrease your food intake and consume fewer calories than you burn up, if you exercise more and burn up more calories, your body will reduce some of your fat stores. When this happens, fat cells shrink,  along with your waistline.

To date, more than 400 different genes have been implicated in the causes of overweight or obesity. They can affect appetite, satiety (the sense of being full), metabolism, food cravings, body-fat distribution, and the tendency to use eating as a way to cope with stress.

But a recent study by the National Taiwan University, who analysed the DNA and lifestyles of 18,424 volunteers, aged between 30 and 70, suggested having "fat genes" is no excuse for being overweight, as exercise can help to keep you trim.  Scientists found even people with a high genetic risk of obesity stayed slim if they exercised regularly. They said that jogging appeared to be the most effective.

Professor Steve Jones, from University College London (they do seem to get involved in a lot of these kind of studies), said: "for some, too many cakes and a lazy life makes them fat.m A regular run will solve that problem."

HMHB says:
Lazza is someone who has used food as a way to deal with stress, so we do come at this from a good angle.  To say, it is easy to control your weight if you exercise more and eat less, is probably a trueism, but it is of course not that straight forward.

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Ultimately, any overeating must be reviewed. If it is just a love of food - then people need to be educated on how to stay healthy and fit, but also enjoying their meals.
However, if there is an underlying mental health reason behind gluttony, that needs to be addressed at the same time. But people need to ask for help, and recognise the problem before they get too large and other health issues start to compound the problem.

Obesity can cause many other health problems. It is preventable in most cases, but costs the NHS huge amounts of money. There is almost an entitlement from people who are vastly overweight, where they resolve themselves of responsibility. I recall a fat man recently in the paper saying he was doing all he could to lose weight. Meanwhile he had an oven next to his bed so he could heat up takeaways when they were delivered.

Ultimtately it is up to as as individuals to look after the miracle that is our body. It is an amazing construct, that should be an impossibility, yet we treat it with such disdain and complacency.