" The patients in the study had "previously failed to lose weight in multiple medically supervised attempts, and were given a standardized form with instructions on the amylase-free diet (Jancin, 2001)." There was no exercise program provided, as the patients were unable to exercise without extreme difficulty.
The results showed that "three-quarters of participants who were compliant with therapy averaged a 4.6% loss in body fat and a 3.1 pound gain in lean body mass in 12 weeks (Jancin, 2001)." Researchers are hopeful this program will work for individuals who have not achieved results from a low-fat diet and exercise.
Overweight individuals have an increased risk of contracting diabetes. Some patients are now being diagnosed with 'pre-diabetes', which "indicates a partly elevated blood sugar level that will likely develop into full diabetes within 10 years if nothing is done to stop it. Scientists now have proof that something can: a healthy diet and exercise (Wahlberg)."
Although it has been known for quite a while that type 2 diabetes occurs gradually with weight gain, it was unknown until recent years if this trend could be diminished. Researchers found in 2002 that "diet, exercise and certain medications can slow or even reverse the progression of pre-diabetes to diabetes. That can prevent diabetes complications such as blindness, kidney disease and amputation (Wahlberg)." Doctors are using this study to compel their patients to diet and exercise. While some people realize they need to take better care of their health, the diagnosis of pre-diabetes often gives them extra incentive to eat a better diet and exercise.
In 2002, the "Diabetes Prevention Program study tracked 3,200 people with pre-diabetes. Those who exercised half an hour, five days a week, and lost 7% of their weight through a low-fat diet were 58% less likely to progress to diabetes after three years (Wahlberg)."
Age and Stress in Women
Middle aged women who gain weight do so due to stresses of life, and not necessarily because of consuming more food or exercising less. A psychologist in Chicago states that "under stress, people conserve more fat (Elias)." A study was conducted on "premenopausal women from their 40s through menopause, and information was gathered on their diet, exercise habits, smoking, menstrual periods and unhappy life events they had experienced in the past year (Elias)." After four years, the women who had experienced more stress found they had gained more weight than those less stressed. Researchers are quick to point out, however, that "this doesn't mean diet or exercise don't matter (Elias)."
It is felt that the additional weight was also contributed to the women's diets. When an individual is stressed, "they do not just crave carrots, but comfort foods that are high in fat and sugar (Elias)."
Exercise has been found to be a "great stress reliever. It not only reduces stress, but helps an individual lose weight, making it a two-for-one (Elias)."
As women get older, their chances of heart disease increase due to a number of factors including weight gain and LDL levels. A study found, however, that "middle-aged women can largely avoid menopausal weight gain and adverse lipid changes through premenopausal adoption of a low-fat diet coupled with moderate physical exercise (Jancin, 1999)."
The study of premenopausal women noted that those who had a change in LDL and did not experience weight gain had a noticeably decline in "not only coronary heart disease, but also breast and colon cancer. The women who had a mean age of 47 years were assisted in adopting a low-fat diet along with 3-4 hours per week of brisk walking or its equivalent. Dietary goals included intake of about 1,300 kcal/day with 25% of calories from fat, 7% from saturated fat, and 100 mg or less of cholesterol per day (Jancin, 1999)." The results showed that these women did not experience as great an increase in plasma glucose and triglycerides as those who did not participate in the diet and exercise program. The study proved that women are "not physiologically destined for cardiovascular disease once they reach menopause. Risk factors can be blunted significantly be feasible lifestyle modifications. Researchers feel that prevention is the key, and state it is much more difficult to treat obesity and high cholesterol once they occur (Jancin, 1999)."
After a woman goes through menopause, her estrogen levels are greatly reduced. Since "estrogen causes more fat to be stored in the hips, it is considered a double whammy, because they not only gain, but they gain in a more dangerous place. They go toward the male pattern in fat-storing (Elias)."
Exercise vs. Estrogen
Women who are postmenopausal find they are at a greater risk of heart disease, and studies have shown that "hormone replacement therapy may not reduce heart disease as well as expected, prompting some researchers to conclude that the 'E' in 'ERT' should stand for 'exercise' as well as 'estrogen'. Doctors point out that lifestyle factors are extremely important, especially physical activity and diet. Physical inactivity and excess body weight, both highly prevalent in U.S. women, are each associated with a two- to threefold increase in risk of coronary heart disease in women (Goldman)." While it is recognized by the medical community that "estrogen-replacement therapy has definite cardioprotective effects, primarily because it raises the level of high-density lipoproteins and reduces the level of low-density lipoproteins, it is no substitute for a low-fat, vegetable-rich diet and regular exercise (Goldman)."
Women are encouraged to participate in moderate exercise at least 30 minutes a day, minimally four to six days a week. One of the best forms of exercise is walking briskly, however any woman who has had a heart attack should consult her physician for specific guidelines. Women can obtain the same results by either exercising continuously for 30 minutes a day, or breaking it into three 10-minute segments.
Just as diet and exercise is beneficial to older women, so it is for older men. A study conducted by UCLA "suggests that a low-fat, high-fiber diet and regular exercise can slow prostate cancer cell growth by up to 30%. It was the first study to directly measure the effects of diet and exercise on inhibiting prostate cancer cell growth. Researchers used a new method to evaluate how effectively these lifestyle changes might help slow the growth of prostate cancer cells and are extremely encouraged by the results (Unknown, Urology Times)."
While the study has not yet determined if the development of prostate cancer can be prevented, or slowed in already diagnosed cases, it "strongly suggests that a low-fat diet and exercise regimen appear to favorably affect the levels of hormones or growth factors that influence prostate cancer growth (Unknown, Urology Times)."
In a study on older dogs, researchers found that "good diet and exercise are important in warding off the mental decline that comes with aging. The study suggests that aging humans might benefit from improved diets and habits, too, because dogs and people experience remarkably similar cognitive declines as they get older (Crenson)."
In the study, dogs that ate a better diet and exercised more were more likely to perform the tasks presented to them. There have been "studies which suggested that people can ward off or at least delay the mental effects of aging by eating a diet rich in antioxidants and other compounds found in fruits and vegetables. Other studies have found that exercise and mental stimulation may also have a protective effect (Crenson)." However, the study concerning dogs is "unique in looking at diet and behavior together. Researchers point out that what is interesting and different about the study is the combination. The combination effect is better than either thing alone (Crenson)."
The study began on dogs that were middle-aged, which "suggests that similar lifestyle change can improve the cognitive abilities of humans even when adopted fairly late in life. Researchers point out there is the indication that it is never too late, which is a very important implication (Crenson)."
Exercise and the Elderly
While moderate exercise is beneficial for the elderly, physicians and family members may find it difficult to motivate them to get started with an exercise program.
Subtle encouragement can go a long way toward getting a reluctant senior to give up a sedentary lifestyle. Most physicians are well aware of the many health benefits -- "from lowered blood pressure to preservation of bone mineral density -- "that exercise brings to older patients, however patients tend to focus more on their overall quality of life than on specific health indicators (Zwillich)."
Exercise can prolong a person's life, provide a better sense of well-being, and allow one to live independently. Researchers have found that a 65-year-old woman has a life expectancy of 81, and can delay moving to an assisted-living facility by remaining active.