Posts Tagged ‘Muscles’
An interesting health article today discussed vitamins and exercise. Though experts are always urging us to eat a well-balanced diet in order to receive all our daily nutrients without the use of supplements, it is not an easy task. I know people who eat healthy, but I really don’t know anyone who eats everything that is recommended in order to get all their vitamins and minerals. Most of us are set in our ways as far as diet is concerned, with very little variation in our meals. When the diet consists of the same thing day after day, it is likely that many nutrients are missing and many others are in excess.
I had never heard of people taking vitamins, especially C and E, after exercising in order to reduce what’s called “oxidative stress”. This oxidative stress is created by harmful chemicals, called “free radicals”, which are released when we exercise. Free radicals are believed to cause cancer and heart disease, amongst other things. Vitamins C and E are antioxidants, which block these free radicals and protect the body from its damage. Interesting, logical concepts, though I had never heard about doing this.
But scientists have now found that antioxidants after exercising may not be good. Apparently, these free radicals can reduce the risk of diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity. Most diabetes caused by obesity is related to insulin insentivity. That is, the body cannot respond to insulin, so the blood sugars remain elevated. Muscles, when they respond to insulin, take glucose up and use that as energy. When they don’t respond, the muscles have to use other sources of energy. Antioxidants block these good effects of free radicals.
As always in health, there is a delicate balance that needs to be preserved. Vitamins are good, but they should not be taken in excess. The study highlights some negative effects of vitamins, but it only talked about vitamins taken after exercising. There was no comment about its effects if taken at other times. Will it help protect against free radicals in cancer and heart disease or harmful in diabetes? Also, it did not discuss threshold levels that can help or harm.
Professor Stephen Hawkings is ill and in hospital. He has been living with ALS for 40 years and one wonders if he is finally succumbing to it. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurological disease that affects motor neurons, the cells in the spinal cord that receive and transmit messages to the brain and back to the muscles. These cells degenerate and die. In the majority of cases, the cause is unknown. ALS became widely recognised in the US when the famous baseballer named Lou Gehrig died from it. It has since been called Lou Gehrig’s disease in the US.
Most people with ALS die within four years of the diagnosis. The fact that Professor Hawkings is still living after 40 years is quite incredible. One wonders if there was some protection conferred due to exercising of the mind and body. Professor Hawkings has continued to live his life without allowing the disease to take over completely. He has managed to accomplish quite a lot in the last forty years. What has he done right? What genetic predisposition has allowed him to last this long? Perhaps, we will never know.
I knew of someone once who was diagnosed with ALS. After four years had elapsed and he did not die as expected, he came to despair and questioned whether he had received the right diagnosis. He and his family had made arrangements and I supposed they worried about the financial responsibilities if he did not die on time. It was rather a sad tale. On the other hand, I had a friend whose father died of ALS only six months after his diagnosis. It happened so rapidly that despite all the preparations, it was still quite unexpected. I think the two should have traded lives.
ALS is a devastating disease but we can all learn from Professor Hawkings’ example. No matter how terrible the diagnosis, we should all try to continue living and learning. Not just sit back and let the diagnosis take over control of our lives. Perhaps, the disease should be renamed in honour of Professor Hawkings.