What is the relationship between physical exercise and health?

There is a direct correlation between physical exercise and overall health. If you get a bit of regular exercise and don't totally "junk out" regarding your diet, you will, in general, be healthier than someone who doesn't exercise. There is no medical practitioner or physiologist alive who will disagree with this idea. Not a single one.

 It is not necessary to become a triathlete to improve your health, your quality of life, and your longevity. But your body responds to exercise in a unique way, a way that it will not respond to anything else. To cite a single example, you don't get 6-pack abs on any kind of diet with no exercise. But the good news is that you can eat some really good foods and not have to bust your buns in the gym to improve your health and your shape.

Connect with your health care practitioner and share your thoughts with him or her. And connect with family or friends who might want to make some changes. Think through the issues regarding exercise, diet and overall body health. Find your own "spot" in the spectrum, and make whatever changes you need to in order to get there. You absolutely have the power to do this, and, equally as important, only you can do it for yourself. But there is a caution.

There are no miracle pills or magic mechanisms that will substitute for "sensible" dieting and bit of regular exercising. Do not let anyone sell you any pie in the sky. Oh, it would be nice, but you just ain't gonna bag a healthy physique without a bit of personal effort. That includes a bit of sweat, and a bit of restraint and "retraining" of your taste buds. Anyone in disagreement is selling something, and is actually selling smoke and mirrors. Be smart about this one.

Your consciousness has been installed inside a biochemical machine, and the more you know about the machine and its workings, the better you can take care of it. You can shape and sculpt it, and tune it to razor sharpness. But pick a healthy lifestyle that is a good fit, and go for it. Little changes are generally more successful than wholesale overhauls. And you can totally do this.

Raghda Sawas

Study Shows Dietary Nutrients Associated With Certain Sleep Patterns

A new study showed for the first time that certain nutrients may play an underlying role in short and long sleep duration and that people who report eating a large variety of foods - an indicator of an overall healthy diet - had the healthiest sleep patterns, according to FNA.       

"You are what you eat," the saying goes, but is what you eat playing a role in how much you sleep? Sleep, like nutrition and physical activity, is a critical determinant of health and well-being. With the increasing prevalence of obesity and its consequences, sleep researchers have begun to explore the factors that predispose individuals to weight gain and ultimately obesity.

 The new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is published online, ahead-of-print in the journal Appetite.

 "Although many of us inherently recognize that there is a relationship between what we eat and how we sleep, there have been very few scientific studies that have explored this connection, especially in a real-world situation," said Michael A. Grandner, PhD, instructor in Psychiatry and member of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at Penn. " In general, we know that those who report between 7 -- 8 hours of sleep each night are most likely to experience better overall health and well being, so we simply asked the question "Are there differences in the diet of those who report shorter sleep, longer sleep, or standard sleep patterns?" 

To answer this question, the research team analyzed data from the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NHANES includes demographic, socioeconomic, dietary, and health-related questions. The sample for the survey is selected to represent the U.S. population of all ages and demographics. For the current study, researchers used the survey question regarding how much sleep each participant reported getting each night to separate the sample into groups of different sleep patterns. Sleep patterns were broken out as "Very Short'' (<5 h per night), ''Short'' (5-6 h per night), ''Standard' (7-8h per night), and ''Long'' (9 h or more per night). 

NHANES participants also sat down with specially trained staff who went over, in great detail, a full day's dietary intake. This included everything from the occasional glass of water to complete, detailed records of every part of each meal. With this data, the Penn research team analyzed whether each group differed from the 7-8 hour "standard" group on any nutrients and total caloric intake. They also looked at these associations after controlling for overall diet, demographics, socioeconomics, physical activity, obesity, and other factors that could have explained this relationship. 

The authors found that total caloric intake varied across groups. Short sleepers consumed the most calories, followed by normal sleepers, followed by very short sleepers, followed by long sleepers. Food variety was highest in normal sleepers, and lowest in very short sleepers. Differences across groups were found for many types of nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.


Vitamin D levels could halve diabetes risk

Adequate levels of vitamin D during young adulthood may halve the risk of adult-onset type 1 diabetes, according to a new research.

The findings by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) could lead to a role for vitamin D supplementation in preventing this serious auto-immune disease in adults, when the immune system starts damaging tissues.

"It is surprising that a serious disease such as type 1 diabetes could perhaps be prevented by a simple and safe intervention," said Kassandra Munger, research associate at HSPH, who led the study, the American Journal of Epidemiology reports.

In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks and permanently disables the insulin-making cells in the pancreas. About five percent of the estimated 25.8 million people in the US suffer from this condition, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Although it often starts in childhood, about 60 percent of type 1 diabetes cases occur after age 20, according to an Harvard statement.

Identifying 310 individuals diagnosed with type 1 diabetes between 1997 and 2009, the team examined blood samples taken before onset of the disease, and compared the samples with those of 613 people in a control group, not having the disease.

Source: American Diabetes association                 


Health Benefits of Quiet

Numerous studies have linked unwanted sound to increased levels of stress. Even low-level noise has been associated with increased aggression and other mental health problems, as well as poor sleep, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Janet Luhrs, pioneer of the Simplicity Movement, offers the following tips for increasing moments of silence in your daily life so that you will feel better and be healthier:

Start your day with silence. Before running headlong into another day, do something relaxing for twelve minutes when you wake up. That could be stretching, reading something inspirational, or meditating. Hormone levels are highest when you first get out of bed. Most people have coffee and turn on CNN. That’s the worst thing you can do.

Eat at a table, without TV or reading. Mindful eating helps you enjoy your food more, prevents overeating because you are tuned in to your body’s satiety signals, and allows your body to metabolize food more efficiently.

Try driving in silence. The car is a wonderful place to get in touch with your thoughts and be with yourself. Silence is rejuvenating.

Create a silence retreat at home. Set aside an evening at home when you will not talk. Turn the ringer off the phone and don’t answer it; turn off the TV. Don’t run any extra machines. If you have a cooperative family, try to do it together, or trade nights with your spouse taking the kids out to dinner and a movie.

Practice silent exercise. When you exercise, try it without the iPod and magazines. If possible, exercise outdoors. Silence helps you pay attention to everything your body is doing—your breathing, your muscles, your posture. Silence helps you listen to the healthy signals your body is giving you—to slow down, to go faster, to straighten up.

Raghda Sawas

The 6 Healthiest Berries for Women’s Hearts

Berries are bright, flavorful and sweet superfruits that have a long list of health benefits.

These colorful fruits are high in antioxidants and polyphenols, which help fight chronic disease and cancer. And their health benefits just keep getting sweeter!

A recent study in the journal Circulation suggests that sprinkling just a few more blueberries in your yogurt or blending strawberries into your morning smoothie may help reduce heart attack risk.

Here are the top six berries for women's health.


These tasty berries are rich in polyphenols, which may help prevent cardiovascular disease and even cancer. They contain high amounts of fiber compared to other types of fruit: One cup has about 7 grams of fiber. (The recommended daily intake of fiber is 25 to 35 grams.) What's more, they're rich in vitamin C and contain a bit of iron, calcium and vitamin A, too. Bake them in a pie, spread them in a jam on whole-grain toast, or just eat them by the handful!


Eating blueberries may help your memory, and they have high levels of compounds that help widen arteries, which helps blood to flow smoothly. Rich in antioxidants, blueberries are also low fat, free of saturated fat, and a good source of fiber and vitamin C. No wonder they're linked to a lower risk of heart attack!


Strawberries are heart-healthy and packed with vitamin C. They are also an excellent source of folate, which is a nutrient that's suspected (but not proven) to help protect your heart. Like blueberries, they contain compounds that help widen the arteries, which may prevent plaque buildup. Another benefit? They whiten your teeth naturally!


These sweet berries are rich in heart healthy fiber; just half a cup delivers 4 grams. You also get 25% of your recommended intake for vitamin C and manganese too. Raspberries are low in fat and have high levels of polyphenols, which help reduce heart disease risk. Try to sneak these into your diet whenever you can.

Acai Berries

When it comes to antioxidants, this Brazilian fruit smashes rivals like blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries. The berries are a good source of fiber, but are tart. Mixing them in smoothies, oatmeal, and yogurt helps temper the bitterness.


These tart little berries are popular around the holidays, but given the health benefits (especially for women), you should try to eat them year-round. Among other benefits, cranberries may increase HDL, or good cholesterol, and may also help prevent urinary tract infections, so they are a win-win!