Tag Archive: steps

Fitness: Could your brains ability to harness energy explain age related mental decline?

Everyone seems to assume that your mind must degrade with age. I’ve never seen convincing evidence for that. I simply see that increasing age requires increasing maintenance since our parts and code get old. In otherwords,

You are only as old as the lifestyle you live. 

So it is that I am good at finding evidence that shows this to be true. There is increasing evidence that
Age-related cognitive decline is linked to the energy available to synapses in the prefrontal cortex. The study’s senior author, John Morrison, PhD explains this more clearly

“We are increasingly convinced that maintenance of synaptic health as we age, rather than rescuing cognition later, is critically important in preventing age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease,”

So the experts are finding that our brain structures don’t die off as much as we thought. The real problem is that the brain needs energy to keep its traffic flowing because neurons need energy to transfer signals. As people age our current lifestyles lead them to become inefficient in accessing their available energy stores. So less energy is made available to support brain traffic.

The authors sum up the finding neatly

Working memory requires the energy-demanding activation of nerve cells in the prefrontal cortex through the complex arrangement of the synapses that interconnect nerve cells.

In short. Synapses need lots of energy to work properly. Without that energy they start to fail.

If you have been following this blog you may start to understand why I believe that the health of our bodies reflects an energy economy. Financial economies suffer when money flows slowly. Cashflow is everything and individual businesses fail simply because cash flow isn’t handled properly.

In the same vain life is all about energy flow and individual humans suffer problems when they manage their energy poorly.

The best way to fix problems like this is to be more active. With the mind you need both physical and mental activity. The reason is simple. Your brain loses functionality because it can’t tap into the energy resources around it. This happens primarily because you don’t use your brain enough and so it hasn’t kept up its sharpness. It’s literally become unfit. So you have to train it by using it.

Over time the parts that were slack are forced to get back up to speed. It’s obviously much more technical than that but that is what ultimately why the term use it or lose it was coined.

Functional medicine: an alternative treatment for cancer: Fitter Food Radio episode 11

I’m listening to  Fitter Food Radio episode 11 with Jo Gamble on Embracing Nutrition.

It is quite fascinating. Focusing on Jo Gamble explaining the value of functional medicine for health.

Jo is a nutritional therapist and functional medicine practitioner who specialises in alternative treatment for cancer.

I’m getting to know the show so I can only comment on this episode. I’m always interested in different approaches to help and I like the way Jo tells her story. So I share for reference.

Functional medicine certainly sounds interesting but so do most approaches in the hands of a good promoter. The problems cited with the existing health system we’ve all heard before. I like the holistic approach we hear from Jo.

Though I’m still curious how much we really know and how much relies on the ability of the practitioner. The same can be said for the existing system as much for alternatives.

Jo makes the point that

doctors knowledge of nutrition is often not as good as our own

Given how much Doctors are required to know along with the lack of support to help them gain this knowledge and keep it up to date. I feel it is important to keep considering other ways of achieving the same result. Helping people gain health.

What are the things Jo says are critical to preventing cancer through lifestyle

  • enough sleep: atleast 8 hours
  • stress: too much leads to problems.

These are the things I see across all diseases. The same lifestyle factors leading to disease. Lack of sleep prevents your body fixing itself and dealing with problems. Of course this leads to disease, why would it not.

To much stress overworks you creating too much damage. It also prevents sleep and thus stops any repair.

Thanks to Matt Whitmore and Keris Marsden for an excellent show.

What is Functional Medicine?

Wikipedias introduction is:

Functional medicine reflects a systems biology approach which involves an analysis of how all components of the human biological systeminteract functionally with the environment over time. The Institute for Functional Medicine contrasts this approach with an organ system biology broken down into modern medical specialties.

Functional medicine, in agreement with modern medicine, holds that the entire “patient story” needs to be heard and understood in context in order to truly help the patient.[6] Where functional medicine differs from mainstream medicine is its willingness to employ treatments and drugs which may not be well evidenced by clinical research, including orthomolecular medicine and detoxification of unevidenced toxins.

Related links

Is Gently Cooked Food Better for You?

I just came across Is Gently Cooked Food Better for You? from the excellent Marks Daily Apple. Something I’ve wondered for a long time. Given the chance I prefer gentle cooking. I feel flavours and textures are best with this approach. My wife is the opposite. She prefers quicker cooking and loves well done steak.

The article reminded me of Advanced Glycation Endproducts produced through certain types of cooking that can cause damage. Wikipedia starts by saying:

In human nutrition and biology, advanced glycation end products, known as AGEs, are substances that can be a factor in the development or worsening of many degenerative diseases, such as diabetes, atherosclerosis and chronic renal failure.

Mark has created a lengthy article covering all sorts of angles.  Some key topics covered are

  • Heterocyclic Amines
  • Advanced Glycation Endproducts
  • Oxidized Lipids

I never see these types of articles as a list of stuff you shouldn’t or should do and basically something to reduce fun. I use it to guide my fun. Reminding me to learn more about marinades and other ways to make cooking easier and the results more exciting.

Are home schooled children leaner than traditionally schooled kids?

I saw the article Home schooled children leaner than traditionally schooled kids and just had to share and keep it.

It is just one study but it’s an important consideration. The impact of school on socialisation and health. The study makes clear these results came before the latest health standards were implemented at school but also makes clear the dependence you have on the school system when you’re kids are there.

It’s also important to remember that we haven’t heard the whole story

  • What’s the range and regularity? These are averages 
  • How much leaner? I didn’t see any numbers. 
  • What was classed as traditional
I’m not ripping apart the study. Just something I think of regularly in any study. Every report you get is biased but the bias is always slightly different. You will never get the full story so it’s work thinking a little deeper. 
An interesting question though. 

What pedometer tracks daily life?

I’m looking for something cheap and simple to start tracking the steps in my daily life. I can’t believe I don’t already have one but I was hoping to do this through my smartphone. It’s never really worked out like that for a bunch of reasons so I’m just going to get something and start monitoring my daily activity.

Tracking my steps is the basic unit that seems to fit me so a pedometer is what I need. I’ve never had my own before so I thought I would get a cheap one to test the concept then buy something expensive like a fitbit once I’ve learnt more about what I want.

The idea is to track steps in daily life. Steps in cooking, cleaning, walking dog and playing tennis shopping. Everything. Point out how much activity is out there.
Key features for me:

  • track small activities like pottering in the kitchen with small steps then a stop including
    • cooking
    • cleaning
    • walking the dog
    • playing tennis
    • shopping
  • light
  • waist clip

A quick check on amazon for pedometers less than £20 with feedback of 4 or more revealed a page of results.

Fit the bill

  • Omron Walking Style III Pedometer £20
    • Excellent battery life
    • active mode: You can track specific activities. I hope this is useful for pottering activities
    • 7 day memory
    • excellent reviews

Not appropriate

  • Daffodil HPC650 Multi-function Pedometer £5.15 Won’t track short activities
    •  Accurate Step Counter with 7 day Memory Function, Calorie Counter and Daily Progress Monitor
    • the pedometer will only start to count your steps after seven seconds of movement. So it doesn’t pick up steps if you only travel a small distance – say pottering in the kitchen.
    • no waist clip
    • all reports say it is highly accurate
    • I have had no problems whatsoever with accidental counting, for example when driving (even with a dozen quite severe speed bumps on my commute). And the device being on a lanyard around my neck has not been an issue either, i wear it under my clothes so it is not obvious at work and if i change clothes i don’t have to move it between pockets or waistbands.
  • CSX Walking 3D Pedometer with Clip and Strap £15.99 Won’t track short activities
    • – Accurate Step Counter, Distance Miles and Km, Calorie Counter, Daily Target Progress Monitor, 7 Day Memory, Exercise Time – White – with Tri-Axis Technology
    • Walk Sensor technology – to avoid counting sudden movements as steps, the counter will not count any movement less than 10 consecutive steps.
  • Omron HJ005-E Step Counter Pedometer With Large Lcd Display £6.15 Not accurate enough
    • pendulum driven so not highly accurate.
    • good reviews and very cheap. 
    • Good name


So I bought the Omron walking style III. I did checkout a bunch more but didn’t feel like including every one. For each either accuracy or not tracking short sequences of steps was the problem. I might find the results inaccurate for this reason but I want to track the small activities as much as the large. Going up the stairs and cleaning. Stuff like that. The boring but incidental activities. Do they add up to something useful.

I would prefer a fitbit or similar but they cost and only work with an iPhone. I have Android at the moment but I will be addressing that soon. For now I just want to get used to having a pedomete because I don’t have one at all.