KRON 4 | Lifestyle Linked to Dementia, Cancer and More

Lifestyle diseases characterize diseases that occur primarily as a result of a person’s daily habits. Some of the main contributing factors include bad food habits, physical inactivity, stress, and an aging biological clock — all of which contribute to visceral (intra-abdominal) fat.

When it comes to your health, where you store your fat makes a difference. Are you shaped like an apple or more like a pear? KRON 4 Morning News Weekend anchor, Marty Gonzalez, and I talk about the difference between the fat that has settled on your hips and thighs versus what you’re carrying upfront.

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All Fat is Not Equal

Fat accumulated in the lower body, such as the hips, thighs, and buttocks (the “pear shape”) is subcutaneous fat. Subcutaneous fat lies under your skin and above your muscles — it’s the “pinchable stuff”. Subcutaneous fat is measured by pinching your skin in a several different locations.

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Your “love handles” are pinchable subcutaneous fat.

Visceral fat, a.k.a. intra-abdominal, belly, or deep fat, (the “pear shape”) lies out of reach and is tucked deep within your abdominal cavity where it pads the spaces between and around your VISCERA — your internal organs like your heart, lungs, liver, and other organs. Related image

It’s also stored in the “omentum” — an apron-like flap of tissue that sits underneath the abdominal muscles and blankets the intestines. As the omentum fills with fat, it gets harder and thicker.

Lifestyle Diseases Linked to Visceral Fat

Research shows that people with “apple-shaped” bodies face more health risks than those with “pear-shaped” bodies. You need some visceral fat to cushion your organs, but too much of it has been correlated with the following health conditions:

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  • Kaiser Permanente of Northern California studied of 6,500 members for an average of 36 years, from they were in their 40’s to 70’s. The study concluded subjects with higher visceral fat had a higher risk of dementia than those with less visceral fat. Possible speculation of the trial is that substances such as leptin, a hormone released by the belly fat, may have some adverse effects on the brain. Leptin plays a role in appetite regulation but also in learning and memory.
  • Researchers are not clear why visceral fat plays a larger role in insulin resistance — which raises risk for diabetes — than other fat.

Why Visceral Fat is a Health Risk

Visceral fat is most dangerous because it is biologically active — that is, it acts like an organ producing hormones and other substances that have harmful effects.

Cholesterol plaque in artery (atherosclerosis) illustrationExcess visceral fat is near the portal vein which carries blood from your intestines to your liver. Substances (e.g., free fatty acids) released by visceral fat enter the portal vein and travel to your liver where they can affect the production of fats in the blood. Visceral fat is directly linked to:

  • Higher total cholesterol
  • Higher LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Lower HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes

How Much Belly Fat is Too Much   

Continue reading “KRON 4 | Lifestyle Linked to Dementia, Cancer and More”

KRON 4 | Why Caffeine Has Long-Lasting Effects

Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night? If so, caffeine could be keeping you awake even though you never consume it at night. That’s because caffeine has a longer-lasting effect than you may think.

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Negative Health Effects of Insomnia

Caffeine disrupts deep (restorative) sleep and the ability to fall asleep which cuts down on total sleep time resulting in:

  • Overeating and binge eating
  • Weight gain
  • Obesity
  • Increased mortality — According to a study by the American Cancer Society (Mortality Associated with Sleep Duration and Insomnia), insufficient sleep can shorten your life. Causes of death associated with sleep duration include heart disease, stroke, and breast/colon cancer.

Why Caffeine Has a Lasting Effect (Half-Life Explained)

Caffeine has a half life of five to six hours. In other words, it takes five to six hours for the amount of caffeine in your body to be reduced to exactly one-half of its concentration. (Translation: the amount of caffeine remaining in your body after six hours is equal to the amount you excrete.)

How It Breaks Down

The half-life of caffeine in a healthy adult is six hours. This does not take into consideration half-life variables (see below) that can influence how fast/slow a person metabolizes caffeine.

  • Excedrin Extra StrengthDue to the half-life of caffeine, caffeine starts accumulating in your body when you consume it throughout the day. This could be in the form of another drink, food, or even medication.
  • For example, if you drink two cups of coffee every day at 8:00 AM, by Day 3 at 2:00 AM nearly 45 gm of caffeine could still be in your system.
  • Caramel frappuccinoTo compound the caffeinated effect, if you drink another cup of coffee at 2:00 PM as an afternoon pick-me-up, by Day 3 at 2:00 AM, nearly 90 gm of caffeine could still be in your system. That’s nearly the amount of caffeine in a 16-oz Frappuccino® — a clue as to why you may not be able to sleep well.

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Your Personal Buzz (Half-Life Variables)

The half-life of caffeine is not a fixed number and can vary based on the individual. Variables include your:    Continue reading “KRON 4 | Why Caffeine Has Long-Lasting Effects”

KRON 4 | Why Sugar Causes Wrinkles and Heart Disease

A 15-year study on “added sugar” and heart disease found that participants were twice as likely to die from heart disease who consumed 25 percent or more of daily calories from added sugar compared to those that consumed 10 percent or less. Weekend anchor Marty Gonzalez on “KRON 4 Morning News Weekend” and I talk about sugar and its link to aging.

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KRON 4 Sugar5    Continue reading “KRON 4 | Why Sugar Causes Wrinkles and Heart Disease”

KRON 4 | How Fiber Lengthens Your Life

For good health, you’ve probably been told to eat more fiber — but all fibers are not alike. If you have risk factors for coronary artery disease and stroke, such as belly fat, diabetes, high cholesterol, or obesity, it’s a good idea to know the difference. Here’s how fiber in general can add years to your life.

Fiber Basics

Dietary fibers are found naturally in plants. They’re types of carbohydrates that don’t break down in your stomach and pass through your system pretty much intact. Fiber refers to carbohydrates, such as:

  • Cellulose
  • Dextrin
  • Inulin
  • Lignin
  • Chitins
  • Pectins
  • Beta-glucans
  • Waxes
  • Oligosaccharides

Fiber is separated into two main types: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. They’re different in how they react with water — and because of that, they have a different effect on your body.

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Soluble Fiber – “The Cholesterol Sponge”

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a viscous gel (soft and sticky) in the intestines which:

  • Helps lower LDL cholesterol* (the “bad” cholesterol). Soluble fiber soaks up cholesterol-laden bile in your intestine and eliminates them with other waste. Per a review and analysis of multiple studies, increasing total dietary fiber by just 7 gm a day reduced stroke risk by 7% and heart disease risk by 9%. Example of 7 gm fiber: 1 medium apple + 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal OR 1/2 cup of cooked pinto beans.
  • Slows down digestion which helps control blood sugar and diabetes. Diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease.
  • Helps control body weight by making you feel full longer. It slows the emptying of food through the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Slows visceral fat gain. A study found that eating an additional 10 grams of soluble fiber per day reduced the rate at which visceral fat accumulated (nearly 4% slower over a 5-year period).

*LDL cholesterol is needed to produce hormones and provide structure to cell membranes, but because excesses can accumulate in the blood vessels and promote atherosclerosis, it’s been branded as the “bad” cholesterol.   

Sources High in Soluble Fiber

Many foods have both soluble AND insoluble fibers with some having predominantly more of one than the other.

  • Oats, oat bran
  • Barley
  • Chia seeds, ground flax seeds
  • Legumes (beans, split peas, lentils)
  • Psyllium husk
  • Apples, avocados, pears, citrus fruits (but not fruit juices)
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Example of 10 grams of SOLUBLE fiber and over 20 grams of TOTAL dietary fiber (both soluble and insoluble)

Insoluble Fiber – “Nature’s Broom”

Insoluble fiber acts like “nature’s broom”. It sweeps through your gastrointestinal tract and helps prevent constipation and colon cancer. Insoluble fiber does NOT dissolve in water, but absorbs water as it travels through your digestive tract which eases elimination, so it:    Continue reading “KRON 4 | How Fiber Lengthens Your Life”

KRON 4 | Salt Affects More Than Blood Pressure

VIDEO: You may think you’re one of the lucky ones who can eat unlimited bags of chips and other troves of salt; and yet, it doesn’t affect your blood pressure. But according to research published in the American College of Cardiology, excess sodium can adversely affect other target organs even if you don’t have hypertension.

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Blood Vessels

Studies show elevated sodium levels can cause the inner lining of blood vessels (called the endothelium) to “malfunction”. The following occurs as a result:

  1. Vessels stiffen. Arteries that become less elastic and lose their contractility (ability to fully contract and relax) make it harder for the heart to pump blood throughout the body. Eventually, the heart wears out (heart failure).
  2. Vessels become sticky. Think of the lining of your blood vessels as being slick like Teflon. An unhealthy endothelium is sticky like Velcro and causes plaque to attach. Plaque builds up in the brain too — leading to Alzheimer’s.
  3. The body breeds dangerous inflammation. Inflammation may cause plaque inside blood vessels to crack, rupture, and dislodge from arterial walls. The body responds like with any other injury by causing blood to clot. Clots clog up vessel freeways and block blood flow to the heart (heart attack) or brain (stroke). Inflammation is also the key reason behind why heart attacks are more likely to occur after getting the flu.

NOTE: Eating too much sugar can have the same effect on the endothelium as an excessive intake of sodium.

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Heart

Research found that elevated sodium levels may increase the wall thickness of the heart’s main pumping chamber (left ventricle). This thickening can lead to cardiac issues, such as:

  • Arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm)
  • Heart attack
  • Sudden cardiac arrest (sudden loss of heart function)
  • Heart failure (inability of the heart to pump enough blood throughout the body)

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for this muscle tissue enlargement, but it was also found in healthy people with NORMAL blood pressure who consumed high amounts of sodium.

Kidneys   

Healthy kidneys remove extra fluid and waste from the blood. Studies found that a high Continue reading “KRON 4 | Salt Affects More Than Blood Pressure”