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Types of Dietary Fat and Mortality Rates

High saturated and trans fat intakes increase mortality.

Over 125,000 male and female health professionals free of CVD, cancer, and diabetes were followed for about 30 years. Saturated fat when replacing carbohydrates raised mortality rates by 8%. A high intake of trans fats was associated with a 13% increase in mortality. On the other hand, higher intakes of polyunsaturated fats (most vegetable oils) and monounsaturated fats (olive oil) reduced mortality rates 19% and 11%, respectively.

PositiveTip: Focus on reducing saturated and trans fats in your diet, while increasing polyunsaturated and monounsaturated choices.

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Your Grip Strength is a Powerful Predictor

Grip strength is a simple and robust predictor of death risk.

A large, international study has revealed that for each 5 kilogram decrease in grip strength, over all mortality risk increased by 16%, cardiovascular mortality by 17%, and a 9% increase in stroke risk. The findings were consistent across nationalities and economic levels.

PositiveTip: Keep up the strength exercises. They could lower your risk of premature death.

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Not So Fast with the Alcohol

Alcohol no longer seen as beneficial for heart disease risk.

Earlier research appeared to show that moderate drinkers lived longer than non-drinkers and heavy drinkers. However, many of those studies included former heavy drinkers who had poorer health than never drinkers. Research from the U.K. which removed the former drinkers from comparison groups did not find the same benefits. The authors note they are skeptical there is any benefit from alcohol.

PositiveTip: Avoid all alcohol as it appears not to protect from heart disease and is a definite risk factor for breast and colon cancer.

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Lifestyle Matters!

Forty years of lifestyle changes in communities reduce morbidity and mortality.

A 40 year community-based effort in a rural Maine (U.S.) county to help residents control elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, stop smoking, eat healthfully, and exercise more appears to have yielded significant benefits. Compared with other counties in the same state, Franklin's residents have lower mortality rates and fewer hospitalizations resulting in savings of $5.4 million in hospital charges annually after adjusting for income.

PositiveTip: Simple, positive lifestyle changes yield big benefits over time!

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Longevity Linked to Plant-rich Diets

Moms are right: Eat your fruits and veggies!

Consuming seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily reduced all-cause mortality, cancer and cardiovascular disease according to a large British study. The average consumption was just under four portions per day. It is not hard to eat seven servings as the standard portion size for most fruits and vegetables is one-half cup. This study also found that canned fruits are linked with increased mortality, possibly because of the high sugar content.

PositiveTip: Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, mostly fresh, for a healthy life.

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The Results Are Not So Sweet

Common levels of added sugar in U.S. diets raises risk of dying from heart disease.

In a 15 year follow-up, consuming 10% to 24.9% of calories from added sugar raised the risk of cardiovascular death by 30%, compared to those with less than 10%. Death jumped to 175% in those who consumed 25% or more from added sugar. Remember: one can of soda equals 7% of the calories in a 2000 calorie diet!

PositiveTip: Avoid sugar sweetened processed or prepared foods such as sodas, desserts, fruit drinks and candy!

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Extra Vitamin E Ineffective

Vitamin E supplements did not reduce mortality.

Researchers combined results from 57 clinical trials of Vitamin E supplementation. In more than 246,000 participants doses up to 5,500 IU per day appeared to have no effect on all-cause mortality. It has been thought that an antioxidant like Vitamin E might benefit diseases associated with oxidative stress. The good news from this pooled data is these supplements seem to be safe and do not increase the risk of death.

PositiveTip: Eating a diet that includes moderate amounts of healthy fats provides all the Vitamin E needed for health.

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Influence of the Day of Week for Surgery

Surgery early in the week lowers mortality rates.

What day of the week is best to have elective surgery? Analysis of 4.1 million inpatient elective surgical procedures in Britain found the 30-day mortality was 6.7 per 1000 procedures. When compared with Monday procedures, the adjusted odds ratio for death was 7% higher for Tuesday surgeries. The rates for surgeries done on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and weekends were 15%, 21%, 44%, and 82%, respectively. Remember, complications are most likely to occur in the first 48 hours, and personnel and services are more limited on the weekends.

PositiveTip: If it is elective surgery, schedule early in the week when possible.

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Quit Smoking Before Major Surgery!

Post-operative outcomes better if patients quit smoking a year before surgery!

Analysis of a large surgical database has revealed that patients who quit smoking at least a year before undergoing major surgery eliminate any smoking-related, post-operative mortality risk. In this study, only current smokers had a significant increase for excessive death within 30 days after surgery.

PositiveTip: You cannot always plan when surgery will be required, so now is the best time to quit smoking, if you smoke!

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Healthful Living Yields Big Benefits

A low-risk lifestyle is shown to decrease mortality rates--again.

More than 6000 individuals (44-84 years old) were followed for 7.6 years. Those who exercised regularly, ate a healthy diet, avoided smoking and maintained a healthy weight had a significantly lower risk of dying over the next decade. These lifestyle factors were also associated with lower coronary calcium and slower progression of coronary calcium resulting improved heart health. 

PositiveTip: The choices we make today yield big dividends later in life. Live it up, live a low-risk lifestyle!