Monthly Archives: September 2012

Want a Great Marriage? – A Book Review

Want a Great Marriage? –  A Book Review

Reference:  The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman

Ever thought of how to improve your marriage?  Well, want more?  Sure!  You have to speak the right “love language”.

Gary Chapman started as an anthropologist studying different cultures.  With that take on the world, he came to marital counseling looking at patterns of behavior. What he found was that many married couples started to lose the luster of their romance after a couple of years, and floundered until they learned how to speak the right messages that their partner could hear, or experience.  Each of us has, by Gary Chapman’s reckoning, a primary “love language” in which we hear love messages.  We don’t feel loved unless we get the message in the right language.  If I was sending this email to you in Polish, you might not understand it.  Or French, or German, or Hindi.  The same way with our most tender and private feelings.  Here is his list of languages:  Acts of Service, Quality Time,  Receiving Gifts,  Physical Touch and Words of Affirmation.

If two of you are living together and speaking different languages, your relationship might be fine, but it might sputter along.  Some of the time you hit the right combination of words and actions, but you might often miss.  For example, if you are a person who likes to do tasks and errands, what you might call “Acts of Service”, you will clean the sink, mow the lawn, fold the laundry and take out the garbage.  Your spouse will feel some gratitude, if his/her primary language is Quality Time those acts might go unrecognized as expressions of love.   You feel frustrated.  If your spouse needs Quality Time, he or she will feel more deeply loved if you make a point of sitting down, make eye to eye contact and share words and thoughts about your feelings and your relationship. That’s real “Quality Time”.   It communicates the message, “You are important enough to me to cordon off this time and focus completely on you, and you alone.”

See where this is going?  It’s a bit hard to learn a new language, but not daunting.  Gary Chapman has an ending to each chapter with ideas and suggestions about how to learn a language that’s not your “native tongue”.    For a person used to “Service”, learning “Quality Time” may be a challenge for a couple of months, but the rewards are wonderful.  If you need “Gift Receiving”, and your spouse speaks “Physical Touch” you might communicate your love better with a reassuring hand on the shoulder, a touch of feet under the table at the restaurant than giving a small present or gift. With just five or six “phrases” in your new language, you can start and develop your own dialect, your own special phrases.

When you look back on what you find out about yourself, you will be delighted and nourished.   Often you will see that what you complained about or got into loggerheads over with each other was simply two languages being spoken, and not heard.  Once you learn the right language, a whole new world of relationship opens up.

WWW. What Will Work for Me.  “It’s been right in front of me for how many years?    And I  just learned it now?!!!”   I’m such a busybody, I do things.  I tidy up.  I mow.  I make beds.  Those are all “acts of service”.   Now I’m learning to speak new languages to a very willing audience, who is delighted to hear the music of clear “love language”.   Folks who stay married in healthy marriages have much lower rates of dementia when they get older.  It’s good for your marriage, and that’s good for your happiness, your stress level, and your brain. And your spouse is bathed in the love he/she deserves.

Written by John E Whitcomb, MD   Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic 17585 W North Ave, Suite 160,  Brookfield, WI 53045  262-784-5300

Archives at www.NewsInNutrition.com

 

 

Vitamin D and the Cure for Baldness

Vitamin D and the Cure for Baldness

Reference:  Wall Street Journal, Sept 12, 2012

Ok, this gets personal so I’m interested.  What is it about baldness and Vitamin D?  Turns out quite a lot.  Mark Hausler has researched the Vitamin D receptor, which he discovered back in 1969.  He has recently published several articles on the importance of the Vitamin D receptor to regeneration of hair growth.  Recent researchers have identified two proteins that appear to activate the receptor, MED and LEF1.

Hair cells and hair go through life cycles in which they go into a dormant phase.  If too many cells go into the dormant phase, and don’t come out of it, baldness results.  The goal of all the research is to turn on the vitamin D receptor, which then sparks the stem cells that are in the scalp and not maturing, into maturing and starting the new life cycle of a hair.  This isn’t going to happen today, but it opens a new door for research for future effective hair inducement.  It might not be in time for me.

The reason I include this article is to raise Paul Stitt’s memory for his Vitamin D advocacy and personal observations.  Paul was a baker of bread from Manitowoc, WI who had a son who broke his leg from osteoporosis.  In his pursuit of knowledge, he figured out that Vitamin D was critical to bone health in much higher doses than the medical world was giving at that time.  Over the last 10 years, his finding that it took at least 5000 IU a day to achieve healthy bones has been gradually coming to fruition with the recent publication that 2000 IU a day is better and reduces fractures more than 800, where our current official recommendations lie.

But that’s not all Paul observed.  When he started his research, he had a shock of silver white hair.  After taking 20,000 IU a day for several years, his hair turned back partially to black so his hair looked peppery.  Had he lived longer, his interest in hair color and Vitamin D would surely have been tweaked by this research.

And just how could Vitamin D add hair growth to its list of impressive benefits? Simple, if you know its basic biology.  Remember, Vitamin D is not a Vitamin but a hormone.  It’s primary function is to turn on stem cells to become mature cells.  Mature cells can do their function. They stop dividing and go through natural cell death when they are done.   That’s how Vit D has so many disparate actions.  From hair follicles to immune cells, from colon cells to blood vessel cells, Vitamin D nudges the immature stem cell into a mature cell.  Plankton that have been dormant at the bottom of the ocean, on exposure to sunlight, make Vitamin D and start dividing, turning into mature plankton.

WWW.  What will work for me?  Winter is now beginning. The angle of the sun is too low to make effective D anymore.  It’s time for those of you who have been using your sun exposure to defend not taking D during the summer to start your winter dose.  It takes months to catch up once you are behind.  I’m taking 5000 IU a day and fondly looking in the mirror to see if it helps my hair.  So far, only in my ears.

Written by John E Whitcomb, MD   Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic 17585 W North Ave, Suite 160,  Brookfield, WI 53045  262-784-5300

Archives at www.NewsInNutrition.com

 

 

 

 

 

Can Love Handles Kill?

Can Love Handles Kill?

Reference:  European Heart Journal

A wee bit of belly fat around your belt?  Your buckle angle to the ground no longer vertical?  Hmmmm.  This could be the strongest clue you have to early mortality.  Dr. Lopez-Jimenez from the Mayo Clinic and eight other physicians have abstracted data from a major CDC study looking at the problem of central belly fat.  They followed 12,785 Americans for 14 years of whom 2,562 died in that period.  What they were focusing on was the waist to hip ratio.  How much fat do you have in the middle? Are your pear shaped, with leg and hip fat, or apple shaped with belly fat?   It’s easy to calculate those ratios.  (Do it here)  Men should have a ratio that is less that .90 and women should be less than .85.  Simple, isn’t it?

Their findings are very sobering!  They split the groups up into normal, overweight and obese, and then high and low waist to hip ratio.   That makes for six groups because in each group, there are some who put their weight around their bellies more than around their hips.  For those of us who thought being obese was dangerous, this is particularly disturbing.   Their findings show that the HIGHEST mortality and risk of premature death goes to those with normal BMI but high waist to hip ratio.  Let me reiterate that.   For those who think they are normal because their BMI is normal (Normal body mass index) this is very disturbing.  Having so-called “normal weight” but a bit of fat around the middle is very dangerous.  If you look at the graph carefully, the premature mortality rate just edges out those who are obese and have some extra weight around the middle.

Just when you thought you were safe by losing weight, we come up with research that shows you are still at risk if you have weight around the middle.  Love handles! What’s the problem?   The authors conjecture a bit but the underlying problem is probably the nature of belly fat.  It’s not, emphasize NOT, just calorie storage.  It’s metabolically very active tissue.  Under a microscope, belly fat is chock full of inflammatory white cells putting out all sorts of inflammatory hormones.  Those inflammatory hormones set of chemical reactions all over the place.  The risk of early death was 210% higher for those with a high Waist to Hip ratio and a normal BMI compared to those in the same weight class, but with a normal WR ratio.  210%!  That’s huge.  Dr. Lopez Jimenez says the extra risk of love handles is about the same as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

How do you get rid of weight around the middle?  You have to have muscle mass to take it up.  There are many of us who have normal BMI but really are obese because we have lost so much muscle.  The only way to measure that is with a DEXA scanner or an InBody machine (gets within 1% of the DEXA with no radiation).

WWW.  What will work for me.  If you have someone you love in your life and your give them a hug and they have love handles, go for a walk first.  The hiking club leaves at 6 pm tonight for a 5 mile walk.  I’ll be there.   You could join us.  Guests are always welcomed.   Just make sure you get there 10 minutes early.

Written by John E Whitcomb, MD   Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic 17585 W North Ave, Suite 160,  Brookfield, WI 53045  262-784-5300

Archives at www.NewsInNutrition.com

 

 

 

Lower Your Risk of Sudden Death 92% with LIFESTYLE Changes

Lower Your Risk of Sudden Death 92% with LIFESTYLE Changes

Reference:  JAMA July 6, 2011Chiuve

When you feel like you are a bit helpless and the grim reaper is going to come and get you some day anyway, you might just cheer yourself up with this article.  To me, this is what medicine should be about.  If you knew this data, it would spur you on to sticking with your resolutions.  Here are the facts that Chiuve has ferreted out of the Nurses Study. Some 81,000 nurses have been followed from 1984 to 2010 with questionnaires every two to four years. This is a long, huge study.  It should be pretty reliable.

Just four questions.  Do you smoke? Is your BMI under 25?  Do you have some sort of exercise every day?  And is your diet focused more on vegetables and whole grains with a Mediterranean pattern of eating?  Just those questions.  And their measure of sudden cardiac death was collapse and death without warning, which is how about 30% of heart attacks present.   If you only had three of those, your risk reduction went down to 67% and if you had two, it was 59% and 46% if you had just one.

What does this tell me?  Lifestyle changes are pretty important.  In fact, you can reduce your risk far more with lifestyle changes than with any medication.  Getting a pill to treat blood pressure has not been shown to reduce heart disease risk when your blood pressure is only in the 140-160 range as just published by the Cochrane Collaboration.   We have been depending on our medications to change our risk and thinking we were safe if we took that pill.  It would be my read of this finding that high blood pressure starts at 115, not 140 and the most reliable way to reduce it is to lose weight. The inflammation put out by our fat cells, particularly the ones in our abdomen that give us central fat, makes for “endothelial dysfunction” and this is what high blood pressure is all about.   It’s not salt as much as inflammation.

The full article had some nuance to it.  Exercise was on a scale with the best being one hour a day.   BMI was worst over 35, followed by under 21.  So being real skinny was not good either.  (Don’t you just like that?)   Likely now, we would measure total body fat instead of BMI if this study was done over, but getting your weight down and firming up with some muscle by exercising in any way you can is going to be helpful.  Never smoking was the best and that also had a scale to it.  Diet is the most controversial as we are still sorting that out.  Likely, the best comes with more and more vegetables and less and less fat, sugar and ground up grain products (cereal, bread, bagels, cookies, cakes….).

WWW.  What will work for me?  Each week I’m trying to learn to like more and different vegetable dishes.  I bought four bunches of beets at the farmer’s market and after boiling them up; I saved the tops and chopped them up.  A tablespoon of butter, some salt, garlic and chili powder, and they tasted pretty good. Surprised me.  Farmer’s markets are bulging with vegetables right now.  They are almost giving their produce away in Sept because the harvest is on.  Give it a try this week. Find one new dish you like and add it to your repertoire.  I’ve done beet greens.  What’s yours?   And remember, walking your dog twice a day for 30 minutes makes an hour of exercise.

Written by John E Whitcomb, MD   Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic 17585 W North Ave, Suite 160, Brookfield, WI 53045  262-784-5300

Archives at www.NewsInNutrition.com