Dr. Phil Shares: The Unexpected Reason We Tend To Be Healthier In The Summer

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Seasonal changes in gene activity mean that the immune system revs up inflammation in the winter, researchers found. This may help explain why the symptoms of inflammation-related conditions — such as heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis — often worsen in winter, and why people tend to generally be healthier in the summer.

“Our results indicate that, in the modern environment, the increase in the pro-inflammatory status of the immune system in winter helps explain the peak incidences of diseases that are caused by inflammation, by making people more susceptible” to inflammation’s effects, said study co-author Chris Wallace, a genetic statistician at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

In the study, researchers examined genetic data from blood samples and fat tissue of more than 16,000 people who lived in both the northern and southern hemispheres, in countries that included the United Kingdom, the United States, Iceland, Australia and The Gambia.

The researchers found that the activity of almost a quarter of all human genes — 5,136 out of 22,822 genes tested in the study — vary over the seasons. Some genes are more active in the summer, whereas others are more active in winter, the researchers found. [11 Surprising Facts About the Immune System]

These seasonal changes in gene activity also seem to affect people’s immune cells and the composition of their blood, the researchers found.

For example, during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter, the immune systems of the people living there had pro-inflammatory profiles, and the levels of proteins in their blood that are linked to cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases were increased, compared with their levels during the summer.

This may explain why the incidence and symptoms of some diseases tied to increased inflammation — including cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases such as diabetes and psychiatric disease — peak in winter, according to the study.

In contrast, one gene, called ARNTL, was more active in the summer and less active in the winter. Previous studies on mice have shown that this gene suppresses inflammation, which may also help explain why people’s levels of inflammation tend to be higher in the winter than in the summer, the researchers said.

The seasonal variation in the immune system’s activity may have evolutionary roots, Wallace said. “Evolutionarily, humans have been primed to promote a pro-inflammatory environment in our bodies in seasons when infectious disease agents are circulating,” she told Live Science. This pro-inflammatory environment helps people fight infections, Wallace added.

“It makes sense that our immune systems adapt to cope with variation in infections as these are thought to be the main cause of human mortality for most of our evolutionary history,” Wallace said.

But even though this immune response helps fight off infection, it worsens other conditions related to inflammation.

It is not clear what mechanism brings about the seasonal variation of human immune system activity, the researchers said. However, it may involve the body’s so-called circadian clock, which helps regulate sleeping patterns and is partially controlled by changes in daylight hours, the researchers said.

“Given that our immune systems appear to put us at greater risk of disease related to excessive inflammation in colder, darker months, and given the benefits we already understand from vitamin D, it is perhaps understandable that people want to head off for some ‘winter sun’ to improve their health and well-being,” study co-author John Todd, a professor in the department of medical genetics at the University of Cambridge, said in a statement.

The new study was published today (May 12) in the journal Nature Communications.

By: Agata Blaszczak-Boxe
Published: May 12, 2015 01:05pm ET on LiveScience.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health

Dr. Phil Shares: Are You Fit to Drive?

Have you ever considered how fitness training could be beneficial to your skills as a driver? According to a new study, simple exercises

woman drivingcan enhance your ability to drive, keep you safe on the road, and extend the years that you are able to drive.

The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence and the MIT AgeLab found some fascinating results in their research on the connection between daily exercise and driving. Drivers in the study reported benefiting from some of the most challenging physical aspects of driving:

  • Greater ease in turning their heads to see blind spots when changing lanes or backing up;
  • More rotation in their torsos to scan the driving environment when making right hand turns;
  • Increased ability to get into their cars more rapidly.

The participants ranged in age from 60-74. They followed an exercise program for 15-20 minutes a day over eight-to 10 weeks which focused on four areas:

If you include these types of exercises in your training program, you will surely have new confidence next time you need to parallel park!

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health

Thanks For Sharing Joan Pagano

Dr. Laura’s Electrolyte Replacement Recipes

Working out or exercising outdoors? Have you thought about an electrolyte replacement recipe? If you are active for more than an hour, replacing your electrolytes might help boost your performance, not to mention your health.

Where to start

First and foremost hydrate as your thirst indicates with fresh water. A reminder to use stainless steel or glass to store your water in these hot temperatures because temperature extremes can leach BPA’s (bisphenol A’s)out of the plastic bottles. Even the BPA free ones I don’t totally trust. BPA’s are chemicals that mimic estrogens in the body, only ones the liver doesn’t break down so well, so they end up storing up in body fat and tipping the balance on hormone profiles.

Sometimes a convenient choice is coconut water, if you like it. Some don’t so what else? Water with a pinch of sea salt will work if you’ve had a long work out in hot conditions. If you are looking for something a  little more advanced that is easy to make I have a couple of go-to recipes you may like.

Dr. Laura’s Electrolyte Recipe #1

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (juice of about 1 orange)

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice 1/2 lemon)

2 cups of filtered water

2 -4 tablespoons raw honey

1/8 teaspoon unrefined salt

Mix up ahead and store in the fridge. Best used within a 3-4 days of making it.

Dr. Laura’s Electrolyte Recipe #2

1 liter water

½ teaspoon salt

3/4tsp baking soda

1 c real fruit juice

2-4 tablespoon honey

This one is a little sweeter and not one I would regularly consume. Definitely not recommended for those with insulin control issues or weight issues.

Remember both these recipes are for the long hot workouts or outside jobs that last more than an hour and you are sweating a lot. Consuming 250mL at at every hour of exertion makes sense. If you are out for an hour, a cup should be fine to replace. If you are out for 5 hours, every hour a break to have some would be a reasonable choice. Not a good idea to wait until 5 hours have gone by and then down a litre of it. That is just too much all at once for the body to handle. However that being said, every body’s body is a little different, so some may need a little more, some a little less.

What’s so great about these recipes?

The homemade electrolyte recipes are totally natural and contain no artificial colours or preservatives. Honey is a natural sweetener with antimicrobial factors. Third factor is you likely have these things in your fridge or pantry, so easy access.

Enjoy in moderation!

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND