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healthbriefs


DIY Projects Keep Seniors Moving T


he British Journal of Sports Medicine reports that a gener- ally active daily life that includes do-it-yourself activities and projects like gardening and car maintenance can cut the risks of heart attacks and strokes by as much as 30 percent and prolong life among adults 60 and over. These routine activities may be as beneficial as exercising for older adults because they decrease total sedentary time, the researchers say. Scientists in Stockholm, Swe-


den, tracked more than 4,000 men and women for an average of 12.5 years, starting at age 60. At the start of the study, regardless of exercise habits, high levels of other physical activity were associated with smaller waists and lower levels of potentially harmful blood fats in both sexes, and lower levels of glucose, insulin and clotting factor levels in men.


Those with higher levels of other physical activity were also significantly less likely to experience metabolic syndrome, a first cardiovascular disease event, and early mortality from any cause. The same was true for individuals that undertook high levels of formal exercise, even if it wasn’t routine. Participants that both exercised regularly and were often physically active in their daily life had the lowest risk profile of all.


Coconut Oil Manages Cholesterol, Shrinks Waistlines R


Chemicals Harm Pets, Too T


educed physical activity and increased consumption of carbohydrates and saturated fats fuel increased rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance, plus abnormal lipid content in the blood. Although coconut oil is a saturated fat, its chemical composition appears to prevent it from generating nega- tive effects on lipid profiles, according to a growing body of research. In an earlier study published in Lipids, women that exhibited abdominal obe-


sity consumed supplements of either coconut oil or soybean oil. Throughout the 12- week trial, both groups followed the same weight-loss diet. At the end, the coconut oil group presented a higher level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or protective cholesterol, and smaller waistlines, while the soybean oil group showed lower HDL levels and an increase in total choles- terol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) plus a less desirable LDL-to- HDL ratio. In a later study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consumption of coconut oil was again associated with a


he nationwide health epidemic of chronic diseases afflicting the human population is also showing up among companion animals. Accord- ing to a report by the Environmental Working Group, pets, like a canary in a coal mine, may be the environmen- tal sentinels that are now signaling a clear connection between disease and manmade chemicals. In a study that analyzed blood samples of dogs and cats, 48 of 70 industrial chemicals and pollutants were traced, many recording levels that were substantially higher than previously reported in national studies of humans. Dogs displayed double the concentration of perfluorochemicals (used in stain-proof and grease-proof coatings); cats evidenced 23 times the concentration of polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) fire retardants and 5.4 times the amount of mercury. PBDE levels in hyperthyroid cats have been linked to eating canned cat food and to the increased use of PBDEs in consumer products during the past 30 years. In humans, high levels of flame- retardant chemicals are implicated in endocrine disruption, Type 2 diabetes and thyroid disease.


Suggestions for minimizing exposure include avoiding chemical- laden household cleaners, furnishings and carpet; drinking carbon-filtered water; steering clear of food and bever- age containers made from or lined with plastic (including cans); and eating organic produce and free-range meat.


beneficial lipid profile in pre-menopausal women. Researchers that conducted a concurrent pi- lot study with male and female subjects found that men also experienced shrinking waistlines when supplementing with coconut oil. They explain that coconut oil contains mainly medium-chain fatty acids, which rapidly convert into energy, thereby circumventing the cycle that makes cholesterol and stores fat (Pharmacology).


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