1. Lifestyle to blame for diabetes epidemic

    Ask most diabetics if they would have made changes to their lives earlier if they knew they could have stopped the disease, and the answer is always yes.

    It's always yes, but far too many people don't make those changes until it's too late.

    A new study shows the direct – if obvious – connection between lifestyle and diabetes.

    The study, published in a recent issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, followed nearly 5,000 seniors over 10 years and looked at four key lifestyle habits: physical activity, diet, smoking, and drinking alcohol.

    The researchers found that folks who get their exercise and eat well had a 46 percent lower incidence of diabetes. Folks who did well in all four areas and weren't overweight were 89 percent less likely to develop the disease.

    On the one hand, this study offers little new information. The risk factors for diabetes are as obvious as an approaching tornado, regardless of age.

    On the other hand, we know this, yet – like that approaching tornado – as a nation we've been powerless to stop it. This study at least helps lay out that direct impact of our lifestyles on the condition, because we're really not powerless when it comes to avoiding diabetes.

    Part of the problem, of course, is that many people make their bad lifestyle decisions entirely on their own.

    But that's not the whole story.

    Even folks who want to eat and live right often make terrible decisions, and that's because almost everything we've been told about eating is flat-out wrong.

    For generations, the conventional wisdom has been that all fat is bad. No distinction was made between healthy and necessary fats – like those that contain essential omega 3 fatty acids – and bad fats.

    As a result, we've been programmed to look for low-fat foods that are high in carbs and low in nutritional value – the main ingredients in what I call the Torture Chamber Diet.

    And that, more than anything, is responsible for the epidemics of obesity and diabetes, along with our rising levels of heart disease and overall poor health.

    Stop killing yourself inside that torture chamber. Don't wait until it's too late – if you find you're gaining weight, eating poorly and not moving around as much as you should, make some changes now.

    The alternative is waiting for that tornado to hit.

  2. Keeping your brain sharp may be easier than you think

    by Dr. Alan Inglis

    You can get a sneak peek at an elderly person's future mental health if you know something about their lifestyle, outlook and exercise habits.

    That was the message from a couple recent studies that looked to predict our likelihood of developing cognitive decline as we age.

    One study by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that older people who are outgoing and relaxed are less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer's disease. These are people who don't sweat the small stuff, an attitude that appears to be healthy.

    The study authors asked 506 elderly people about their lifestyle and personality traits. Then, checking back after six years, the researchers found that more relaxed people were 50 percent less likely to show symptoms of dementia.

    A second study, this one from Canada, demonstrated that exercise helps the brain as profoundly as it helps the body. A group of regularly exercising Canadian women above the age of 65 scored 10 percent higher on a cognitive function test. These women also had better blood pressure in the brain, and it's not too much of a leap to believe that better blood flow makes you a little quicker on the uptake.

    The message here is simple, and not that earth-shattering – take care of yourself, and you'll be less likely to develop degenerative conditions as you age. Get some exercise, manage your stress and cut out the junk food.

    Study after study is proving the truthfulness of what I consider the golden rule of medicine – if you take good care of your body, your body is going to return the favor.

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