To my Patients and Friends,
For this installment, I’ve decided to go (mostly) COVID-free because… well… those who have been paying attention to the science already know what must be done until we achieve herd immunity through vaccination (which won’t be for at least a year). Instead, I chose to focus primarily on longevity. I hope you find this information refreshingly positive… besides, now is the ideal time to begin pursuing the healthy goals we’ve been putting off for so long!
Bits and pieces
Check out this fascinating, densely-packed conversation between two very smart guys… they touch upon some important, cutting-edge strategies for the promotion of cardiovascular health and longevity. It’s kind of a long one, so you may want to break it up into sections- but I promise that it will be worth your time. Some of the topics they discuss include:
- How the heart works
- Mechanisms underlying cardiovascular disease
- What blood pressure readings reflect
- The importance of managing blood sugar levels
- The impacts of different forms of exercise on heart health and longevity (endurance athletes and those who participate in “social sports” like tennis, golf, soccer and badminton may want to check this out)
- The relevance of heart rate monitoring, resting heart rate and understanding the importance of heart rate variability
- Effectively managing cholesterol levels
- Some potentially important supplements worth considering
- Ideal dietary patterns and considerations for intermittent fasting
- Novel drug therapies that may impact longevity
45 is the new 50
As much as we’d all like to wait as long as possible before having that first colonoscopy, the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) has recently provided an updated recommendation that colon cancer screening for those at average risk should begin at age 45. Since the 1990s, we have seen a 45% increase in rates of colon cancer in those under age 50. Experts believe that this is due to risk factors such as diabetes, overweight and obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption and the “standard American diet.” Other risk factors include family history. Additionally, blacks face a significantly increased risk for early colon cancer and a higher death rate from the disease. By way of recent example, actor Chadwick Boseman was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 39 and tragically died at age 43. We can expect that over the course of time, insurers will be increasingly willing to cover the costs of a colonoscopy prior to age 50. Talk to your doctors about this. And by the way, the procedure really ain’t no big deal!
The middle section
A recent analysis of 72 major studies looking at body fat and longevity has confirmed what we’ve long believed: regardless of overall body fat content, having excess fat around our middle sections contributes to early death, whereas fat around the hips and thighs is protective. Use this calculator to determine the impact of your current waist circumference on your risk for premature demise… and consider pursuing regular moderate exercise (see above) and a Mediterranean dietary pattern (see above again) to help mitigate your risks (and reduce your waistline).
Blood pressure 101
We all know how important it is to maintain a healthy blood pressure in order to sustain optimal health. Normal blood pressure is considered to be less than 120/80 (measured in millimeters of mercury, or mm Hg). The “top number” reflects the pressure in our arteries during contraction of the heart, and the “bottom number” reflects arterial pressure between contractions. And both are important (listen to the podcast linked above for more on this). New research has shown that foods and beverages that contain compounds called flavanols (like certain fruits, vegetables, tea and coffee) can help to promote optimal blood pressure. Good news for us, because they all happen to be delicious!
Tips and tricks
Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. It’s pure, unadulterated fun; it’s sanctioned silliness. It epitomizes mystery and magic and thrills and creativity and pranks and surprises and joy and community. It offers kids (and young-at-heart adults) a uniquely scrumptious escape from day-to-day conventions. And Halloween’s sweet aftermath lingers for weeks and months under the beds and in the backs of closets and in other secret hiding places of millions of kids (and their thieving parents) every year. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
And yet here we are… with a cosmic monkey wrench having been pitched into our plastic pumpkins and pillowcases this season, how can our kids stay safe while still making the most of these classic fall festivities? This helpful article summarizes some useful tips that may help to guide our kids safely through the tangled web that 2020 has placed in our paths.
I’ll see you soon… have a safe but spooky Halloween weekend!
Larry Leibowitz, MD