Sunday, July 4, 2010

5 min biking helps weight control

Despite the general belief, a new study suggests that biking for as little as five minutes per day can help women in their 30s and 40s control their weight.

"A lot of information on physical activity provided to women is very general, encouraging daily activity, but not specifically what kind," said Keri Gans, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

According to the study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, biking and walking are among the easiest exercises that one can incorporate into his/her everyday life in order to maintain weight. "Bicycling is an answer to weight control," said lead researcher Anne C. Lusk.

Compared to women who did not take up biking, those who biked for just five minutes per day gained about 680 fewer grams over the course of the study.

Women who increased physical activities including brisk walking and bicycling for 30 minutes per day managed to maintain their weight and even lose a few pounds over the time. While brisk walking helped overweight and obese women lose weight, slow walking was not associated with such effects, the study found.

"This is not suggesting that if you bicycle for five minutes you will immediately go back to the weight you were when you were 18," added Lusk, stressing that more infrastructure or facilities should be dedicated to bicycling so that individuals could comfortably bicycle.

Tight glucose control cuts eye problems

While intensive glucose control can not prevent cardiovascular events, it protects the individual against diabetic eye, nerve and kidney disease.

Previous studies had reported that aggressive drug treatment to lower blood sugar can effectively reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels in diabetic patients. Strict control of blood sugar, however, is associated with an increase in the risk of dying from heart problems or experiencing episodes of severely low blood sugar.

According to the study presented at the American Diabetes Association meeting, lowering a diabetic's blood sugar to near-normal levels would prevent certain complications commonly reported in diabetics.

Diabetic retinopathy, the chief cause of vision loss in working-age individuals worldwide, develops more slowly among individuals who had their blood sugar lowered aggressively along with those who received fibrate and statins simultaneously. Intensive control of blood glucose levels also lowered the levels of protein in the urine, a sign of kidney disease.

It also improved peripheral nerve health and function. Individuals on tight control, on the other hand, gained more weight and were at risk of very low blood sugar. The treatment also did not reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease for those with long-term type 2 diabetes who are at risk of heart problems.

"The observed benefits associated with intense glycemia management should be weighed against higher total and cardiovascular-related mortality, weight gain, and severe hypoglycemia in patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease," scientists concluded.

High-fructose (sugar)diets impair memory

Adopting a diet rich in fructose, a form of sugar commonly found in processed foods and beverages, may result in impaired spatial memory.

Previous studies had reported various health problems such as insulin insensitivity, type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease following the use fructose, the sweetener commonly found in table sugar, fruit juice concentrates and high fructose corn syrup.

According to a study conducted in Georgia State University, high fructose intake can also impair memory in consumers. It, however, does not influence an individual's ability to learn. Unlike glucose, high levels of triglycerides are produced during the digestion process of fructose within the liver.

This fat can subsequently interfere with the insulin signaling mechanism of the brain, affecting not only the survival of brain cells but also their ability to change based on new experiences. Scientists concluded that the high content of fructose can impair memory.

Fructose-rich foods up hypertension risk

Following a diet rich in fructose places the individual at a greater risk of developing high blood pressure and subsequently cardiovascular events, a new study finds.

Fructose is a key ingredient in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Added sugars are commonly found in processed foods such as candy, cookies, cakes, and soda.

According to the study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, the dramatic increase in the consumption of fructose-rich foods and beverage during the last decades can explain the similar trend reported for hypertension. Individuals eating or drinking 74 grams or more of fructose from added sugar per day (equal to 2.5 sugary soft drinks per day) are at an increased risk of high blood pressure, the study found.

"Limiting fructose intake is readily feasible, and in light of our results, prospective studies are needed to assess whether decreased intake of fructose from added sugars will reduce the incidence of hypertension and the burden of cardiovascular disease in the U.S. adult population," said lead researcher Diana I. Jalal. She added that eating fructose-rich fruits, however, is less troublesome as they contain healthful substances such as antioxidants and fiber.

Officials from the Corn Refiners Association, on the other hand, stressed that fructose is not the only sweetener used in caloric soft drinks, adding that "the authors miscalculated the number of beverages represented by 74+ grams of fructose/day."