Dr Dingle's Blog / heart

Essential Sleep (Part 7). Sleep fatigue and accidents

Essential Sleep (Part 7). Sleep fatigue and accidents

Fatigue

Sleep deprivation also contributes to the physiological state known as fatigue.  A fatigued person is accident prone and judgment impaired.  After approximately 20 hours of no sleep, reaction times are comparable to having a blood alcohol reading of .08.  Staying awake for 24 hours leads to a reduced hand‑to‑eye coordination that is similar to having a blood alcohol content of 0.1. An example of a sleep deprivation accident occurred when a space shuttle mission was aborted 30 seconds before lift‑off because a technician who had worked several consecutive l2hr shifts accidentally released 18,000 pounds of liquid fuel just minutes before the scheduled flight. An investigation of the Challenger space shuttle disaster attributed ground crew fatigue as one of the factors contributing to the disaster. An incident such as this shows the seriousness of the situation and the potential loss of life through human related errors in technical fields. Even operating simple machinery such as forklifts can become extremely dangerous if the operators are not filly alert. Other examples of work related sleep deprivation include a flight which flew 100 miles out over the Pacific before controllers on the ground were able to wake the pilots up using chimes, piped into the cockpit audio. It is common practice for flight attendants to check in on pilots to ensure they do not fall asleep. The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred on a ship with a crew that had had very little sleep, with the accident happening in the middle of the night.

Pain

45 to 80% of all nursing home residents suffer from chronic pain and this pain is strongly linked to insomnia (Dodla and Lyons, 2006). In Japan a survey conducted by Tanaka and Shirakawa (2004) found that one in five Japanese people suffer from insomnia, and within the elderly population one in three suffer, because of this the Japanese government increased the needs of insomnia patients at community health sites and names insomnia a refactory disease of the 21st centuary. A similar Honk Kong based study found 11.9% of Chinese people living in Honk Kong suffer from insomnia approximately three times a week and the females were 1.6 times more likely to show symptoms of insomnia than males (Li et a!. 2002). 

Accidents, errors and Risk taking

Studies using card games have found that with little sleep, players get stuck in a strategic rut. Sleepy people keep taking risks, even though it’s obviously not working for them.

A study of musicians who practised a new song had improved in speed and accuracy compared with before a night’s sleep. a good night’s sleep can also improve motor performance.

In a study of 1891 male employees compared with those working 6-8 h day(-1) with good sleep characteristics, positive interactive effects for workplace injury were found between long work hours (>8-10 h day(-1) or >10 h day(-1) ) and short sleep duration (<6 h). This study suggests that long work hours coupled with poor sleep characteristics are synergistically associated with increased risk of workplace injury. Greater attention should be paid to manage/treat poor sleep and reduce excessive work hours to improve safety at the workplace (Nakata 2011).

A study looking at the effect of working “standard shifts” (that is, the traditionally accepted long, sleepless shifts) for hospital interns showed that the interns made 36 percent more serious medical errors during a standard work schedule compared to during an intervention schedule that eliminated extended work shifts.  The errors included significantly more serious medication errors and 5.6 times as many serious diagnostic errors.  As a consequence, the overall rates of serious medical errors were significantly higher during the standard schedule than during the intervention schedule (Landrigan, 2004).  Fortunately, most serious medical errors were either intercepted by people who were awake and concentrating or did not result in clinically detectable harm to the patient.  How does this affect you?  It might be all right if you could always go into hospital at the beginning of the shift or be operated on only by doctors who had just started a shift. 

One study found that interns who worked 24-hour shifts made 36 percent more medical errors than those working 16-hour shifts and five times the number of diagnostic errors, and were 61 percent more likely to accidentally cut themselves during procedures.

The study found that the rates of serious medical errors in two intensive care units “were lowered by eliminating extended work shifts and reducing the number of hours interns worked each week.” By asking interns to work less, the hospitals improved their performance.

A number of studies have highlighted the increased number of motor vehicle accidents associated with young adults driving fatigued. It’s conservatively estimated that at least 112 lives could be saved in Australia if fatigue and falling asleep at the wheel were eliminated.

Several studies have highlighted the increased number of motor vehicle accidents associated with young adults driving while fatigued.  Fatigue is estimated to be responsible for 35 percent of road accidents.  It’s conservatively estimated that at least 112 lives could be saved in Australia every year if fatigue and falling asleep at the wheel were eliminated.  In the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that fatigue and sleep deprivation contribute to about 100,000 highway crashes each year, causing more than 1,500 deaths annually (Sullivan, 2003).  At a grander level the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska, the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the Chernobyl nuclear accident have each been attributed to human errors in which sleep deprivation played a role (Grunstein, 2000). 

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Soft drinks hard facts. A slow death from sugar sweetened drinks

Soft drinks hard facts. A slow death from sugar sweetened drinks

Chronic overconsumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) is amongst the dietary factors most consistently found to be associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes (T2D) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in large epidemiological studies. Studies have shown that SSB overconsumption increases intra-abdominal obesity and ectopic lipid deposition in the liver, and also exacerbates cardiometabolic risk. Similar to the prevalence of obesity and T2D, national surveys of food consumption have shown that chronic overconsumption of SSBs is skyrocketing in many parts of the world,

SSB overconsumption is also particularly worrisome among children and adolescents. SSBs typically include carbonated soft drinks, juice drinks (with added sugars), sports drinks, energy drinks, milkshakes, and iced tea or coffee. 

The epidemics of obesity, type 2 diabetes (T2D), and cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are affecting most if not all developed countries around the world. While the prevalence of overweight, obesity, and T2D remain high in North America and Western Europe, obesity rates and T2D rates are increasing at a stunning pace in developing countries. In Mexico City inhabitants aged between 35 and 74 years, the excess mortality associated with previously diagnosed T2D accounted for one third of all deaths between 1998 to 2004.

In some countries such as the Unites States, sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) account for almost half of the added sugar consumed nationally and consumption around the world has reached unprecedented proportions, and the rise in the prevalence of cardiometabolic risk factors in children such as abdominal obesity and insulin resistance has increased in parallel.

A recent modelling study performed by the Global Burden of Diseases Nutrition and Chronic Diseases Expert Group (NutriCoDE) estimated that up to 184,000 deaths per year could be attributed to the chronic overconsumption of SSBs [9]. Similar to the prevalence of obesity and T2D, studies analysing national surveys of food consumption have shown that the chronic overconsumption of SSBs is also skyrocketing in many parts of the world.

SSBs are the single greatest source of added sugars in most Western countries. SSBs are typically sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in the US or sucrose. Sucrose, also often referred to as table sugar, is a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose linked via a glycoside bond.

One study showed in a six-month parallel intervention study of 47 overweight individuals that the consumption of 1 L/day of sucrose-sweetened beverages (cola) significantly increased visceral adipose tissue and hepatic fat accumulation compared to the consumption of 1 L/day of semi-skimmed milk or water. Although not associated with increases in body weight or total fat mass, the consumption of cola was linked with increases in plasma triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Interestingly, daily total energy intake did not appear to differ across subgroups, thereby suggesting that energy included in beverages could have been compensated for by reductions in energy from other sources.

HFCS is produced by industrial processing of corn starch. It contains two monosaccharides, free fructose, and glucose in various proportions. Both fructose and glucose have different metabolic fates, an observation that has encouraged many to suggest that fructose may have a unique role in the pathogenesis of cardiometabolic diseases. This hypothesis has been supported by well-designed controlled studies

In a 10-week randomized clinical trial fed an ad libitum diet with 25% of calories originating from glucose- or fructose-sweetened beverages. Although both diets increased body weight, only participants in the HFCS group had increased visceral adipose tissue accumulation at the end of the trial. Insulin levels during a 3-h oral glucose tolerance test increased by 27% in the fructose group (significant) and by approximately 14% in the glucose group (nonsignificant). Similarly, 24-h post-meal triglyceride and fasting apolipoprotein B levels, as well as small, dense low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels and triglyceride levels all increased in the fructose but not in the glucose group following the intervention.

About a dozen large prospective epidemiological studies have documented the association between SSB consumption and the risk of cardiometabolic diseases such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, T2D, and CVD.

A meta-analysis on 2013 that included 25,745 children and adolescents from 15 prospective studies and 174,252 adults from in seven prospective studies suggest that a one serving per day increase in SSB is associated with a 0.06 unit increase in body mass index (BMI) per year in children and adolescent and with a 0.12 to 0.22 kg yearly weight gain in adults. The same group also published evidence that SSBs overconsumption is linked with the onset of the metabolic syndrome (a constellation of CVD and T2D risk factors associated with abdominal obesity and insulin resistance) and T2D.

 

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Supplements for the Heart

Supplements for the Heart

Vitamins for the heart

The science is overwhelming. We can reverse heart disease, unblock arteries and lower blood pressure with good nutrition and lifestyle changes and it can be improved even further with supplementation. There are now thousands of articles in all levels of scientific journals—on the benefits of supplementing, not only for the general population but also for cardio vascular disease conditions. Unfortunately, these do not seem to get media attention despite the fact that they may show dramatic reductions in the incidence and severity of diseases such as heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. However, we may need to re-evaluate our expectations when investigating nutrients used to treat serious chronic disease because it is unrealistic to expect a vitamin to undo a lifetime of unhealthy behaviours on there own and in a short period of time.

In fact, most people do supplement, especially those who know the most. Our own research shows us that people who supplement are usually people who have higher levels of education, enjoy a healthier diet and lifestyle and are more interested in health; these are people who are taking responsibility for their own health. The increasing use of dietary supplements in general is one example of better health through preventative measures, which is a result of consumers wishing to take charge of their wellbeing.

Far too much credit is given to the Recommended Daily Intakes (RDIs) of nutrients, the information on the side of your breakfast food box, as a guide to healthy nutrition. These guides are based on precluding acute nutrient shortages, not preventing or treating modern day chronic disease epidemics. There has been a big shift in thinking from the concept of “adequate nutrition,” being all that is required, to “optimal nutrition” needs, the nutrients that help us flourish and be free of disease. Our early nutrition models were great for preventing scurvy and pellagra but not for the chronic illnesses that afflict so many now. Current evidence suggests that optimising nutrition and metabolism will delay ageing and the diseases of ageing in humans, including CVD. The proof however is in the pudding. I have seen so many people, literally in the hundreds, who have told me how they have personally benefitted from supplementing. Most commonly though, I see people who have a new lease on life: they feel better and have more energy and libido both good indicators of cardiovascular health.

A 2010 Swedish study of 31,671 women found that multivitamin use was associated with a reduction in the rate of heart attack (myocardial infarction), especially long-term use among women with no CVD. During an average of 10 years of follow-up, the women without any history of CVD who took multivitamin supplements had 27% fewer heart attacks over the period. That is better than any drug to lower cholesterol and has no negative side effects. The use of multivitamins over a five-year period—that is, those who took them the longest—saw a reduction of 41%.

Vitamin C supplementation has been shown to benefit many of the underlying mechanisms of the development of atherosclerosis (plaque build up) and hypertension, including preventing oxidation of cholesterol and improving endothelial dysfunction in patients with proven artery disease.[1] A 2011 study found that adequate intake of vitamin C was associated with longer survival in patients with heart failure.[2] The study of 212 patients, average age of 61, found that heart failure patients with low levels of vitamin C had the highest levels of inflammation markers and had more major heart attacks and higher death rates. The heart failure patients in the study with low vitamin C were also about twice as likely to die from heart disease within one year of follow-up.

A meta-analysis of 29 clinical trials with a median dose of 500 mg per day for eight weeks showed a reduction in systolic blood pressure of 3.84 mm Hg and 1.48 mm Hg for diastolic blood pressure. In trials in hypertensive participants, corresponding reductions in SBP and DBP were 4.85 mm Hg and 1.67 mm Hg [3] and higher doses of vitamin C also produced greater reductions in blood pressure. In a meta-analysis of 29 randomised, controlled, clinical trials investigating vitamin C intake, researchers found that taking an average of 500 milligrams of vitamin C daily reduced blood pressure by 3.84 mm Hg in the short term.[4] Among those diagnosed with hypertension, the drop was nearly 5 mm Hg. Patients who take blood pressure medication such as ACE inhibitors or diuretics can expect a roughly 10 millimetre of mercury reduction in blood pressure.

A number of studies have demonstrated that high dosages of vitamin E or supplementation are associated with a significant reduction in cardiovascular diseases [5] with relative risk reductions up to 65%. The Cambridge Heart Antioxidant Study (CHAOS) examined the effects of vitamin E supplementation on 2,002 patients suffering from coronary atherosclerosis, the buildup of arterial plaque, over a period of three years. Patients with advanced coronary heart disease were able to significantly reduce their risk of suffering a heart attack if they supplemented with vitamin E at the levels of 400 international units (IU) to 800 IU per day.[6] Patients receiving supplementation of vitamin E were less than half as likely to suffer a heart attack than those receiving the placebo. Two additional large prospective studies also found that persons who supplement with vitamin E for at least two years display approximately 40% lower incidence of coronary heart disease than those not taking vitamin E supplements.[7]

In a study of 39,910 US male health professionals 40 to 75 years of age who were free from coronary heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol, researchers found a lower risk of coronary disease among men with high intakes of vitamin E. Researchers found that men who took at least 100 IU per day for at least two years had a risk reduction for coronary disease of 37%. The maximal reduction in risk of around 40% was seen among men consuming 100 to 249 IU per day with no further decrease at higher levels. In a study of 87,245 female nurses followed for up to eight years, both vitamin E supplements and multivitamins were associated with a lower risk of major coronary disease and the relative risk from multivitamins was a result of the vitamin E content.[8] The use of vitamin E for two or more years was associated with a 41% decreased risk. Researchers found that a dose of less than 100 IU per day was associated with little or no apparent benefit.

Vitamin D is a pro-hormone that plays an essential role in the vasculature and in kidney function not to mention dozens of other functions including immune health. Low vitamin D concentrations appear to significantly associate with left ventricular hypertrophy, increased arterial stiffness, hypertension, endothelial and renal dysfunction [9] in normal subjects and in patients with chronic kidney disease and type 2 diabetes. Low vitamin D reduces calcium levels in the blood, causing weak heart muscle contraction and strength. Arteries become stiff and blood flow is poor. D3 allows the immune system to address infection that creates build up of plaque in arteries. Large recent populations studies have shown that up to 75% of people are D3 deficient and 40% are severely depleted.

In a study of 12,644 US civilians, systolic BP was inversely and significantly correlated with 25(OH)D levels.[10] Other large international studies have reported similar results.

A growing number of studies suggest that exposure to sunlight improves health overall, because the benefits of reducing blood pressure far outweigh the risk of developing skin cancer. Heart disease and stroke linked to high blood pressure are estimated to lead to around 80 times more deaths than those from skin cancer in the UK. Production of nitric oxide rises after exposure to sunshine. In a study of the blood pressure of 24 volunteers who sat beneath tanning lamps for two sessions of 20 minutes each, the results showed that blood pressure dropped significantly for one hour following exposure to UV rays, but not after the heat-only sessions.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an essential cofactor (helper) of enzymes involved in the process of energy production. Coenzyme Q10, or ubiquinone, helps to convert fats, carbohydrates and protein into energy. Coenzyme Q10 is an obligatory member of the respiratory chain in the mitochondria of all cells. Cells that make up tissue with higher energy demand, such as muscles, have a higher number of mitochondria present. These tissues include the tissues of the heart, where CoQ10 plays an important role in protecting the heart. Coenzyme Q10 has been extensively researched for its ability to strengthen the heart muscle, specifically in patients with heart failure. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is naturally produced in the body and is the only antioxidant that humans synthesise in the body, but levels drop off as we age.

In a controlled study, researchers found that supplementing with CoQ10 (100mg twice a day) and selenium (200 mg) reduced heart attack risk in the elderly by around 50%.[11] In the study, researchers gave 433 people, aged from 70 years upwards, the supplements or placebo pills every day for five years. Other heart failure medications block, rather than enhance, cellular processes and may have side effects. Supplementation with CoQ10, which is a natural and safe substance, corrects a deficiency in the body and blocks the vicious metabolic cycle in chronic heart failure called the “energy starved heart.”

B vitamins have been associated with a 24% reduction in heart disease risk in women who take four to seven multivitamins a week.[12] There was a significant inverse relation between dietary intake of folate and vitamin B6 and mortality and morbidity from cardiovascular disease in the Nurses’ Health Study of 80,082 women over 14 years.[13] Each 100-microgram-per-day increase in folate was associated with a 5.8% lower risk of coronary heart disease. In a retrospective cohort study of 5,056 men and women aged 35 to 79 years, there was a 69% increase risk of coronary mortality among those in the lowest levels compared with the highest blood levels of folate.[14]

In a study of 38 patients with atherosclerosis of the carotid arteries, supplementation with folic acid pyridoxine and vitamin B12 was associated with regression of the arterial plaque—that is, reversing the plaque in the arteries.[15] WOW. The benefits of folic acid supplementation are further emphasised by a 1996 meta-analysis that calculated that around 56,000 deaths due to heart disease could be prevented yearly with adequate folic acid supplementation alone.[16]

One study reported a folate intake of 400 micrograms per day reduced total homocysteine (a major risk factor for heart disease) to the lowest level.[17] A controlled study of 46 people (42 men, average age 73) found that even a low-dose folic acid supplement (400 micrograms) could lead to significant reductions in hyperhomocysteinemic elderly people.[18] The researchers report that, while the low-dose folic acid supplements had no significant effect on homocysteine concentrations in the general study population, levels did significantly decrease in hyperhomocysteinemic subjects by 1.8 micromoles per litre.

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin also known as phylloquinone or phytomenadione. Increased intake of vitamin K reduces the buildup of calcium in arteries that leads to hardening of the blood vessels. A study found that higher intake of vitamin K2 (menaquinone), but not K1, was associated with a 20% reduction in calcification of the arteries (atherosclerosis). On the other hand, another study found that supplements of K1, also known as phylloquinone, might slow hardening of the arteries in people already suffering from the condition.[19] In support of the clinical human studies, in a study of rats high doses of vitamin K led to reduced arterial calcification.[20] The study found that high vitamin K intake not only prevents calcification but also even regresses arterial calcification. After six weeks of treatment with warfarin (supposed to reduce risk), researchers reported that the rats showed signs of significant arterial hardening. However, in both high-dose groups (K1 and K2) no continued calcification occurred, and the existing hardening was found to be reversed by about 40% after six weeks of supplementation. The reduced calcification was also accompanied by improved arterial elasticity in the high vitamin K groups to a similar level as in the control rats. Similar results have been shown on improving elasticity and reversing calcification of the skin with vitamin K supplements.[21]

Time to look at supplementing with more vitamins to lower your risk of heart disease.

References

1        Gokce et al. 1999; Vinta et al. 1998; Ting et al. 1997; Huang et al. 2000; Fonorow and Till 2003; Sakuma et al. 2001; Fernandez 2001.

2        Song et al. 2011.

3        Juraschek et al. 2012.

4        Miller et al. 2012.

5        Stampher et al. 1993; Rimm et al. 1993; Knekt et al. 1994; Kushi et al. 1996.

6        Stephens et al. 1996.

7        Stampher and Rimm 1995.

8        Stampher et al. 1993.

9        Liu et al. 2013.

10      Reis 2007.

11      International Journal of Cardiology (2012).

12      Harvard Heart Letter 1998.

13      Rimm et al. 1998.

14      Morrison et al. 1996.

15      Peterson et al. 1998.

16      Boushey et al. 1995.

17      Selhub et al. 1993.

18      Journal of Nutrition Research Vol. 26.

19      American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2009).

20      Schurgers 2006.

21      Gheduzzi et al. 2007

[1] Gokce et al. 1999; Vinta et al. 1998; Ting et al. 1997; Huang et al. 2000; Fonorow and Till 2003; Sakuma et al. 2001; Fernandez 2001.

[2] Song et al. 2011.

[3] Juraschek et al. 2012.

[4] Miller et al. 2012.

[5] Stampher et al. 1993; Rimm et al. 1993; Knekt et al. 1994; Kushi et al. 1996.

[6] Stephens et al. 1996.

[7] Stampher and Rimm 1995.

[8] Stampher et al. 1993.

[9] Liu et al. 2013.

[10] Reis 2007.

[11] International Journal of Cardiology (2012).

[12] Harvard Heart Letter 1998.

[13] Rimm et al. 1998.

[14] Morrison et al. 1996.

[15] Peterson et al. 1998.

[16] Boushey 1995.

[17] Selhub et al. 1993.

[18] Journal of Nutrition Research Vol. 26.

[19] American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2009).

[20] Schurgers 2006.

[21] Gheduzzi et al. 2007.

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The Good Oil: Olive oil

The Good Oil: Olive oil

A liberal sprinkle of olive oil on your food may be good for your health and even slow down ageing. Many of the beneficial effects of olive oil on human health were originally thought to be the high concentrations of monounsaturated (omega 9) fatty acids, in particular oleic acid, was considered as the major healthful characteristic of virgin olive oil. Unlike saturated and omega 6 (vegetable oil) fats these don’t compete with the beneficial omega 3 fatty acids. However, more recent research has shone light on some of the minor ingredients particularly oleuropein (OL) and hydroxytyrosol (HT). There are more than 200 ‘minor components’ in the olive oil, which represent about 2% of the total weight. However, “extra virgin” olive oil, contains among the others, some peculiar antioxidant compounds which are not present in other oils and in other foods. These antioxidant compounds also contribute to the long oil shelf-life and influence characteristics including smell and taste (e.g. bitter, astringent, pungent, throat-catching) and color. Numerous benefits of these olive oil compounds have been shown with cardiovascular, metabolic and neurological diseases, cancer, weight loss and much more. Truly a health product to add to your daily meals.

When used with vegetables the oils increase the absorption of important antioxidants such as lycopene, the red colour found in tomatoes. When cooking tomato sauce the traditional way in olive oil the lycopene's leaches out from the tomatoes into the oil because it's very fat soluble. Lycopene has many health benefits but is well know for its protection from prostate cancer.

Olive oils have been found to have particularly high levels of anti-oxidants and anti inflammatory compounds and regular consumption of extra virgin olive oils. The studies also show the more you consume the lower the oxidative stress and inflammation, the 2 leading causes of chronic illness. The most bioactive of these compounds are OL and HT. In particular, OL is abundant in high amounts in unprocessed olive leaves and fruit, while higher concentration of HT may be found in the fruit and in olive oil. You can also get olive leaf extract from the local health food shop.

OL and HT are particularly effective as they show many different types of antioxidant activity including stimulating a process called Nrf2 (pronounced Nerf 2) which increase our body’s own production of antioxidants right in the cells where they are really needed. This is one of the major reasons they are so beneficial for people with diabetes type 2.

One of the more critical properties of these compounds is that they help prevent the formation of plaque in the arteries, known to cause heart disease or atherosclerosis. In particular, OL, in the average daily intake of olive oil or olive pieces of the Mediterranean diet, remarkably reduced (50% in average) LDL-cholesterol oxidation in fat rich meals (i.e. French fries) and increased the production of certain anti-oxidative enzymes (glutathione-related enzymes), preventing oxidation of LDL’s before plaque formation could occur in the artery. Studies in both rabbits and rats have also shown OL has multiple other cardio-protective effects to do with deterioration of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy).

Numerous studies have now found a strong link of the anti-diabetic action with the antioxidant effects of OL particularly lowering of blood sugar (hypoglycemic). In human studies OL and HT have also been shown to improve insulin action and production in overweight middle-aged men at risk of developing metabolic syndrome a precursor to diabetes. This effect was comparable to that seen with drugs used to treat diabetes and much more platable.

Large population based studies have reported that uptake of olive oil is associated with a reduced risk of cancer in different organs. In a study of 13,800 people high olive oil consumption was associated with a 36% lower risk of developing breast cancer and a 30% lower risk of developing cancer of the digestive system. Among other studies, OL has been shown to inhibit tumor growth and spreading human breast cancer in mice studies.

HT, OL and some of the other derivatives have also been shown to be effective in age-related disorders such as neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease. Supplementation with an olive extract decreased pain and inflammation, and improved the quality of life of people suffering from arthritis. In addition, other studies have shown to lower inflammation-induced bone loss (osteopenia) in rats and found that bone loss was reduced as a result of supplementation. HT has also been shown to protect against age-associated macular degeneration (AMD) which is the leading cause of legal blindness for people over 55 years of age in the Western world.

So it is time we changed our main oils over to olive oil and consumed more of it every day. Unfortunately, much of the so-called olive oil sold in stores today is not actually olive oil, but rather a deceptive blend of inferior oils that may or may not include traces of actual olive oil. Both overseas consumer reports and studies have shown as much as 50 percent or more of all the olive oil sold commercially does not pass the stringent testing standards used to qualify the authenticity of real olive oil. A good reason to buy local extra virgin olive oil.

Some olive oil hints

  • Only buy oils in a dark glass bottles.
  • Only buy local extra virgin olive oil
  • Store oils in the fridge or dark, cool places. If heat and sunlight break them down, they’ll form free radicals that damage your body.
  • Heating oil makes even the best oil toxic. Cooking with oil destroys some of its nutritional components and causes other toxic components to form. So add oils at the last minute to avoid heating them for too long.
  • Cold pressed oils have higher levels of nutrients and toxins are not added or formed during the extraction process.
  • Don't worry about colour. Good oils come in all shades, from green to gold to pale straw.
  • Ensure that your oil is labelled "extra virgin," since other categories—"pure" or "light" oil, "olive oil" and "olive pomace oil" – have undergone chemical refinement.
  • Don’t buy olive oil in a spray can and
  • To get extra benefit mix it with a good quality vinegar to add to every salad (I will explain that later).

 

Read more →

The Good Oil: Olive oil

The Good Oil: Olive oil

A liberal sprinkle of olive oil on your food may be good for your health and even slow down ageing. Many of the beneficial effects of olive oil on human health were originally thought to be the high concentrations of monounsaturated (omega 9) fatty acids, in particular oleic acid, was considered as the major healthful characteristic of virgin olive oil. Unlike saturated and omega 6 (vegetable oil) fats these don’t compete with the beneficial omega 3 fatty acids. However, more recent research has shone light on some of the minor ingredients particularly oleuropein (OL) and hydroxytyrosol (HT). There are more than 200 ‘minor components’ in the olive oil, which represent about 2% of the total weight. However, “extra virgin” olive oil, contains among the others, some peculiar antioxidant compounds which are not present in other oils and in other foods. These antioxidant compounds also contribute to the long oil shelf-life and influence characteristics including smell and taste (e.g. bitter, astringent, pungent, throat-catching) and color. Numerous benefits of these olive oil compounds have been shown with cardiovascular, metabolic and neurological diseases, cancer, weight loss and much more. Truly a health product to add to your daily meals.

When used with vegetables the oils increase the absorption of important antioxidants such as lycopene, the red colour found in tomatoes. When cooking tomato sauce the traditional way in olive oil the lycopene's leaches out from the tomatoes into the oil because it's very fat soluble. Lycopene has many health benefits but is well know for its protection from prostate cancer.

Olive oils have been found to have particularly high levels of anti-oxidants and anti inflammatory compounds and regular consumption of extra virgin olive oils. The studies also show the more you consume the lower the oxidative stress and inflammation, the 2 leading causes of chronic illness. The most bioactive of these compounds are OL and HT. In particular, OL is abundant in high amounts in unprocessed olive leaves and fruit, while higher concentration of HT may be found in the fruit and in olive oil. You can also get olive leaf extract from the local health food shop.

OL and HT are particularly effective as they show many different types of antioxidant activity including stimulating a process called Nrf2 (pronounced Nerf 2) which increase our body’s own production of antioxidants right in the cells where they are really needed. This is one of the major reasons they are so beneficial for people with diabetes type 2.

One of the more critical properties of these compounds is that they help prevent the formation of plaque in the arteries, known to cause heart disease or atherosclerosis. In particular, OL, in the average daily intake of olive oil or olive pieces of the Mediterranean diet, remarkably reduced (50% in average) LDL-cholesterol oxidation in fat rich meals (i.e. French fries) and increased the production of certain anti-oxidative enzymes (glutathione-related enzymes), preventing oxidation of LDL’s before plaque formation could occur in the artery. Studies in both rabbits and rats have also shown OL has multiple other cardio-protective effects to do with deterioration of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy).

Numerous studies have now found a strong link of the anti-diabetic action with the antioxidant effects of OL particularly lowering of blood sugar (hypoglycemic). In human studies OL and HT have also been shown to improve insulin action and production in overweight middle-aged men at risk of developing metabolic syndrome a precursor to diabetes. This effect was comparable to that seen with drugs used to treat diabetes and much more platable.

Large population based studies have reported that uptake of olive oil is associated with a reduced risk of cancer in different organs. In a study of 13,800 people high olive oil consumption was associated with a 36% lower risk of developing breast cancer and a 30% lower risk of developing cancer of the digestive system. Among other studies, OL has been shown to inhibit tumor growth and spreading human breast cancer in mice studies.

HT, OL and some of the other derivatives have also been shown to be effective in age-related disorders such as neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease. Supplementation with an olive extract decreased pain and inflammation, and improved the quality of life of people suffering from arthritis. In addition, other studies have shown to lower inflammation-induced bone loss (osteopenia) in rats and found that bone loss was reduced as a result of supplementation. HT has also been shown to protect against age-associated macular degeneration (AMD) which is the leading cause of legal blindness for people over 55 years of age in the Western world.

So it is time we changed our main oils over to olive oil and consumed more of it every day. Unfortunately, much of the so-called olive oil sold in stores today is not actually olive oil, but rather a deceptive blend of inferior oils that may or may not include traces of actual olive oil. Both overseas consumer reports and studies have shown as much as 50 percent or more of all the olive oil sold commercially does not pass the stringent testing standards used to qualify the authenticity of real olive oil. A good reason to buy local extra virgin olive oil.

Some olive oil hints

  • Only buy oils in a dark glass bottles.
  • Only buy local extra virgin olive oil
  • Store oils in the fridge or dark, cool places. If heat and sunlight break them down, they’ll form free radicals that damage your body.
  • Heating oil makes even the best oil toxic. Cooking with oil destroys some of its nutritional components and causes other toxic components to form. So add oils at the last minute to avoid heating them for too long.
  • Cold pressed oils have higher levels of nutrients and toxins are not added or formed during the extraction process.
  • Don't worry about colour. Good oils come in all shades, from green to gold to pale straw.
  • Ensure that your oil is labelled "extra virgin," since other categories—"pure" or "light" oil, "olive oil" and "olive pomace oil" – have undergone chemical refinement.
  • Don’t buy olive oil in a spray can and
  • To get extra benefit mix it with a good quality vinegar to add to every salad (I will explain that later).

 

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