Reprogram your fat cells?

03/18/2014 7:01 AM

08/08/2014 10:22 AM

When Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion, we wondered how a simple communication app (maybe it’s not so simple) could be worth more than half of all the NFL teams combined. (The average NFL team is worth $1.1 billion.) But it’s easy to underestimate the value of something if you haven’t seen it in action.

A couple of years ago, published lab research revealed that mice secreted a hormone during exercise that reprogrammed their adipose tissue (fat cells). This allowed the critters to burn calories at a souped-up rate even when they were resting. We were a little skeptical that the results would apply to humans, but what’s improbable yesterday …

Turns out you, too, can turn on fat cells so that they burn instead of store calories. Say hello to irisin – a powerful anti-aging hormone that helps you achieve a younger RealAge. It’s released from skeletal muscle and turns white fat cells into metabolism-boosting brown fat cells, after you’ve stopped exercising.

For example, the calories burned while following our walking program don’t account for all the weight loss and improvements in glucose and lousy LDL cholesterol levels. The irisin afterglow contributes to the added health boost.

To get your bonus boost, try our complete 12-week walking program at www.sharecare.com. You can start slowly (week one: 15-20 minutes, two to three times a week) and build up to 30-60 minutes, four to six days a week. You’ll be amazed at how you easily you earn your burn. And that’s worth more than any app.

Hit the bacto-lacto trifecta

The chances of hitting a trifecta – that’s betting correctly on which horse will finish first (win), second (place) and third (show) – are slim, but the payoff is huge. A $2 bet on the trifecta at the Kentucky Derby last year paid $6,925.60. Not bad. But putting your $2 toward three winning probiotics – Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Lactobacillus reuteri – well, that delivers a payoff every day.

Making sure you have the right balance of these good-for-you bacteria in your intestines (that’s where they live) can help you lose weight, lower cholesterol and reduce your risk for Type 2 diabetes and its complications while keeping your cardiovascular system healthy. They thrive in foods you love (really!), and you can take them as supplements.

Lactobacillus acidophilus is in probiotic yogurt and fermented soy products like miso and tempeh. Most often thought of as a digestive aid, it’s also good for treating vaginal yeast infections.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus acts as an anti-inflammatory in your gut and helps fight obesity and insulin resistance. You can enjoy it in probiotic yogurt, fermented soy and fermented milks. Remember: Dairy products help probiotics survive through stomach acid, but make sure you choose non-fat, no-added-sugar dairy.

Lactobacillus reuteri reduces lousy LDL cholesterol and your risk of coronary heart disease. You can get it in supplements, and it’s in breast milk (just FYI) and even chewing gum designed to control dental plaque and gingivitis.

We’re betting this lacto-trifecta will show you good bacteria in the right place and that’s a big health win.

Reacting to Crohn’s disease

NFL quarterback David Garrard was sidelined two years into his pro career by a gut check that caused him agonizing stomach pains. Diagnosed in 2004 with Crohn’s disease – an inflammatory bowel disease that attacks the lining of the digestive tract – he had 12 inches of his intestines removed. Garrard then started taking the biologic infliximab. It decreases gut inflammation, eases symptoms and may lead to remission. Remarkably, he continued as a Jacksonville Jaguar quarterback until 2010, and his current position as a backup quarterback for the New York Jets is a testimony to how effective treatment can be when done promptly and aggressively.

However, most of the more than 600,000 folks in North America with Crohn’s are advised to try “conventional” treatment, including corticosteroids and aminosalicylates, such as sulfasalazine, before opting for more aggressive and potentially more risky biologic therapies. Traditionally, they’ve been prescribed only if severe symptoms don’t respond to other medications. That may be changing.

A study of 2,000 people with Crohn’s has triggered new treatment recommendations called accelerated step-care. The REACT (Randomized Evaluation of an Algorithm for Crohn’s Treatment) study shows that taking a monoclonal antibody, such as infliximab, along with an antimetabolite such as methotrexate, even before symptoms are severe, produces positive results. After 12 months, more folks were in remission, and after 24, there were fewer surgeries and hospitalizations than in a group given standard treatment.

If you have Crohn’s, ask your gastroenterologist if this new approach makes sense for you.

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