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ifm2016aiclandingbannerv5--webAntony Haynes BA, RNT explores some of the material presented at the 2016 annual conference. Please listen to the linked podcast whilst standing up or moving around. The reasons will become clear in just a minute. Listen here.

From 12th to 14th May 2016, the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM) hosted its 25th annual conference, in San Diego, California[i]. This year the conference title was “Modifiable Lifestyle Factors: Innovative Movement & Restorative Strategies to Optimise Patient Outcomes.”

elderly exercisingEven exercise of short duration and low intensity has life expectancy benefits for the elderly. Such conclusions have been well examined in the general population, where a recommended exercise program of 30 minutes at least five days a week (or 150 minutes per week) has been shown to reduce the average risk of death by 30 percent.

However, such a correlation between the level of physical activity and risk of death has not been so clearly determined in the elderly. Indeed, most physical activity guidelines are the same for the middle-aged adults as for the elderly, even though it is estimated that over 60% of the elderly are unable to achieve this same level of exercise.

logoIt’s always a challenge to take a single, isolated nutrient and try to prove a health benefit within a research study. Unlike drugs, which mostly have a clear mode of action on their own, nutrients generally usually work synergistically with other nutrients and lifestyle factors to generate health benefits. So when a meta-analysis (review of multiple studies) of one vitamin all show a similar clinical outcome, it is a significant finding and offers some clarity on the use of a nutrient in isolation as well as in combination with others.

Athletes, particularly those at the top of their profession appear to be are big winners when it comes to their gut microflora. A recent paper suggests that exercise has a direct effect on microbial composition and related gastrointestinal health. The article ‘Exercise and associated dietary extremes impact on gut microbial diversity’ was published in the international journal GUT.[1]

The relationship among the gut microbiota, exercise and related dietary changes has received much less attention. Loss of community richness/biodiversity has been demonstrated in obesity studies while increased diversity, which has been advocated to promote stability and improved ecosystem performance, is associated with increased health in certain populations. This has led to the suggestion that microbiota diversity could become a new biomarker for health status. It has been suggested that monitoring the gut microbiota annually to determine changes in the composition and stability could be sufficient to detect health status changes.

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A new study by Queen’s University researchers has determined that adults who accumulated 150 minutes of exercise on a few days of the week were not any less healthy than adults who exercised more frequently throughout the week.[1]

Ian Janssen and his graduate student Janine Clarke studied 2,324 adults from across Canada to determine whether the frequency of physical activity throughout the week is associated with risk factors for diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

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I think we all accept that changes in insulin levels over time predispose people to the development of type II diabetes and that this is often accompanied by the central adiposity that distinguishes the metabolic syndrome morphology we have come to look for.

This study, published in PLOS One this year (2010), suggests that besides these clinical indications another slightly less obvious change to body mass affects insulin resistance and increases risk of diabetes.[1]

There are numerous benefits related to maintaining a healthy body mass and apart from personal comfort and self esteem the reduction of excess fatty tissues has been proven to show a great deal of change in circulating markers of inflammation. Pro inflammatory cytokines are understood to be involved with a wide range of adverse health conditions and it is generally accepted that managing to keep these low molecular weight molecules in a state of balance will provide benefits to all tissues in the body – including the brain.

Two types of cytokine in particular are related to obesity – IL-6 and TNF-α and raised levels will undoubtedly have adverse effects and reduce capacity for a healthy life. This study out in GUT demonstrates that excessive weight loss is an effective anti-inflammatory strategy.[1]

Abstract: Exercise promotes longevity and ameliorates type 2 diabetes mellitus and insulin resistance. However, exercise also increases mitochondrial formation of presumably harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS). Antioxidants are widely used as supplements but whether they affect the health-promoting effects of exercise is unknown. We evaluated the effects of a combination of vitamin C (1000 mg/day) and vitamin E (400 IU/day) on insulin sensitivity as measured by glucose infusion rates (GIR) during a hyperinsulinemic, euglycemic clamp in previously untrained (n = 19) and pretrained (n = 20) healthy young men. Before and after a 4 week intervention of physical exercise, GIR was determined, and muscle biopsies for gene expression analyses as well as plasma samples were obtained to compare changes over baseline and potential influences of vitamins on exercise effects.

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