Cardiovascular disease and brushing your teeth, strength training benefits, arginine, caffeine training aid

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A column by Mike Furci that brings you research, trends and other info to help you with your fitness, health and nutritional needs.

Furci...inflammation, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and brushing your teeth are all related? A study of 11,869 men and women mirrors previous research and finds a link between gum disease and cardiovascular disease. Participants were asked how often they visited the dentist and how often they brushed their teeth. 62% of the participants reported regular (at least every six months) visits to a dentist and 71% reported good oral hygiene (brushing teeth twice a day). There were 555 CVD events over an 8.1 year average follow-up, which resulted in 170 deaths. 74% of the CVD reported was coronary heart disease. Participants who reported less frequent tooth brushing had a 70% increased risk of a CVD event compared with participants who brushed their teeth twice a day. (British Medical Journal)

...adults who strength train have more muscle mass, function better and experience fewer fall-related injuries than adults who do not strength train? Makes sense, doesn't it? Because there are so many benefits to weight training, one of the American College of Sports Medicine's national health objective for 2011 is to increase the proportion of adults who strength train two or more days per week to 30%. Unfortunately, adults in this country are just too lazy to be active let alone strength train. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) analyzed data that included more than 30,000 subjects every year to determine the annual prevalence of strength training among U.S. adults. The findings of this report established that the prevalence of strength training increased slightly during the years 1998 – 2004, from 17.7% to 19.6%. This is a far cry from 30%. Among the group that needs strength training the most -- people 65 years or older -- prevalence was the least. ("Trends in Strength Training -- United States, 1998--2004", )

...the amino acid arginine is being studied as an important natural supplement for cardiovascular health? Endothelial cells (a layer of cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels) use L-arginine to produce nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels, improves blood flow and possibly reduces blood pressure. A recent study looked at the long-term effects of L-arginine supplementation on 90 participants. Researchers concluded L-arginine supplementation improves the elasticity of large arteries in patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors. This improvement was associated with a decrease in systolic blood pressure, peripheral vascular resistance as well as a decrease in aldosterone levels. Aldosterone is a hormone that increases the reabsorption of sodium and water, which increases blood volume and, therefore, increases blood pressure. The results of the study suggest that long term L-arginine supplementation has beneficial vascular effects in pathologic disease states associated with endothelial dysfunction. (Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology)

Furci...just being overweight, or do I dare say fat, is a risk factor for impaired health? A study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association followed and assessed 17,643 men and women aged 31-64 who were free from cardiovascular disease, diabetes or other major abnormalities. The study was done to assess the relationship of being fat to morbidity and mortality outcomes in older age. The researchers found that fat individuals without other risk factors, as well as those who had one or more risk factors, have a higher risk of hospitalization and mortality from cardiovascular disease and diabetes, compared to normal weight individuals. (JAMA. 2006;295:190-198)

...caffeine is a good training aid because it allows one to train longer without getting fatigued? Researchers at York University in Toronto found in a double-blind study of 10 subjects that caffeine increased the time to fatigue during submaximal contractions. The increase in time to fatigue can be partially explained by caffeine's ability to sustain calcium release in the muscle cells. Calcium plays an integral role in the quality of muscular contractions. (J Appl Physiol 2005; 99: 1056-1063,

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