AHA > Life’s Simple 7

Life’s Simple 7

My Life Check® was designed by the American Heart Association with the goal of improved health by educating the public on how best to live. … This seven step list has been developed to deliver on the hope we all have–to live a long, productive healthy life.

Manage blood pressure
Control cholesterol
Reduce blood sugar
Get active
Eat better
Lose weight
Stop smoking

Red meat consumption and mortality

Red meat consumption and mortality: results from 2 prospective cohort studies.
Arch Intern Med. 2012 Apr 9;172(7):555-63.
Pan A, et al.

Red meat consumption has been associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases. However, its relationship with mortality remains uncertain.

We prospectively observed 37 698 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2008) and 83 644 women from the Nurses’ Health Study (1980-2008) who were free of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer at baseline. Diet was assessed by validated food frequency questionnaires and updated every 4 years.

We documented 23 926 deaths (including 5910 CVD and 9464 cancer deaths) during 2.96 million person-years of follow-up. After multivariate adjustment for major lifestyle and dietary risk factors, the pooled hazard ratio (HR) (95% CI) of total mortality for a 1-serving-per-day increase was 1.13 (1.07-1.20) for unprocessed red meat and 1.20 (1.15-1.24) for processed red meat. The corresponding HRs (95% CIs) were 1.18 (1.13-1.23) and 1.21 (1.13-1.31) for CVD mortality and 1.10 (1.06-1.14) and 1.16 (1.09-1.23) for cancer mortality.
We estimated that substitutions of 1 serving per day of other foods (including fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy, and whole grains) for 1 serving per day of red meat were associated with a 7% to 19% lower mortality risk. We also estimated that 9.3% of deaths in men and 7.6% in women in these cohorts could be prevented at the end of follow-up if all the individuals consumed fewer than 0.5 servings per day (approximately 42 g/d) of red meat.

Red meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of total, CVD, and cancer mortality.
Substitution of other healthy protein sources for red meat is associated with a lower mortality risk.

Comment in:
Additional ways to diminish the deleterious effects of red meat. [Arch Intern Med. 2012]

Higher red meat consumption is associated with increased risk of all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality. [Evid Based Nurs. 2012]

Holy Cow! What’s good for you is good for our planet: comment on “Red Meat Consumption and Mortality”. [Arch Intern Med. 2012]

journalistic version:
Death By Bacon? Study Finds Eating Meat Is Risky
March 12, 2012

5 or less alcohol drinks per week is healthy

The Addicted Brain.
Coursera, 2014. Emory University.
by Michael Kuhar, Ph.D.

The amount that we can drink safely has been explored.
A weekly intake of no more than five drinks for men and two drinks for women is associated with lowest mortality. This suggests than a low level use of alcohol may be, in fact, healthy.

The NIAAA (National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) recommends:
No more than 14 drinks per week for men
No more than 7 drinks per week for women.

Daily use of over 15 drinks per day for men and 10 for women will likely lead to dependence.


drinks for summer

White rice and type 2 diabetes

White rice consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: meta-analysis and systematic review
BMJ 2012;344:e1454 (Published 15 March 2012)

Objectives: To summarise evidence on the association between white rice consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes and to quantify the potential dose-response relation.

Design: Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies.

Data sources: Searches of Medline and Embase databases for articles published up to January 2012 using keywords that included both rice intake and diabetes; further searches of references of included original studies.

Study selection Included studies were prospective cohort studies that reported risk estimates for type 2 diabetes by rice intake levels.

Data synthesis: Relative risks were pooled using a random effects model; dose-response relations were evaluated using data from all rice intake categories in each study.

Results: Four articles were identified that included seven distinct prospective cohort analyses in Asian and Western populations for this study. A total of 13 284 incident cases of type 2 diabetes were ascertained among 352 384 participants with follow-up periods ranging from 4 to 22 years.
Asian (Chinese and Japanese) populations had much higher white rice consumption levels than did Western populations (average intake levels were three to four servings/day versus one to two servings/week).
The pooled relative risk was 1.55 (95% confidence interval 1.20 to 2.01) comparing the highest with the lowest category of white rice intake in Asian populations, whereas the corresponding relative risk was 1.12 (0.94 to 1.33) in Western populations (P for interaction=0.038). In the total population, the dose-response meta-analysis indicated that for each serving per day increment of white rice intake, the relative risk of type 2 diabetes was 1.11 (1.08 to 1.14) (P for linear trend<0.001).

Conclusion: Higher consumption of white rice is associated with a significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes, especially in Asian (Chinese and Japanese) populations.

Glycemic index

Glycemic Index
The University of Sydney

The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating. Foods with a high GI are those which are rapidly digested and absorbed and result in marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Low-GI foods, by virtue of their slow digestion and absorption, produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels, and have proven benefits for health.
Low GI diets have been shown to improve both glucose and lipid levels in people with diabetes (type 1 and type 2).

Whole grain and refined grain consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of cohort studies.
Eur J Epidemiol. 2013 Nov;28(11):845-58.



Fist bump: A more hygienic alternative

Which greeting is the cleanest?

The fist bump: A more hygienic alternative to the handshake
Sara Mela, BSc, and David E. Whitworth, PhD,
American Journal of Infection Control, Volume 42, Issue 8 (August 2014),

Fist bumping beats germ‐spreading handshake

July 28, 2014 – “Fist bumping” transmits significantly fewer bacteria than either handshaking or high‐fiving, while still addressing the cultural expectation of hand‐to‐hand contact between patients and clinicians, according to a study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Infection Control

researchers performed trials to determine if alternative greetings would transmit fewer germs than the traditional handshake. In this experiment, a greeter immersed a sterile‐gloved hand into a container of germs. Once the glove was dry, the greeter exchanged a handshake, fist bump, or high‐five with a sterile‐gloved recipient.

Targeting Overweight Workers With Wellness Programs

Targeting Overweight Workers With Wellness Programs Can Backfire
by Yuki Noguchi
July 02, 2014

For several years, Ryan Tax Services in Dallas has offered a wellness program to its 2,000-person staff.
The program includes health fairs, free screenings, cooking demos and health club memberships.
Nearly 70 percent of employees participate, and that’s helped curb health care costs, according to the company.

Still, says Delta Emerson, executive vice president, “56 percent of the employees that tested are overweight, which was a little shocking to me because we have a very young population. The average age is in the high 30s.”

Are vitamins good for you?

Nutrition: Vitamins on trial
After decades of study, researchers still can’t agree on whether nutritional supplements actually improve health.
Melinda Wenner Moyer
Nature 510, 462–464 (26 June 2014)

But scientific opinion about the use of vitamin supplements by millions of seemingly healthy people has never been more divided.

“The tools we’ve had in the past have been so crude — it’s like we’ve been looking through a dirty window with the curtains closed,”

one of the many complexities of nutrient metabolism.
Nutrition scientists now recognize that risk curves are J- or U-shaped: nutrients have beneficial effects at low doses and toxic effects at high doses.
The magnitude of the response differs, too, depending on where individuals start on the curve — their baseline status.

Are supplements useless?
The current state of research offers only an equivocal half-answer: ‘maybe yes’ for some individuals, nutrients and doses, and ‘maybe no’ for others.
“Nutrition is complex, and I don’t think we’re necessarily going to find one formula that works for everybody,” says Mayne.

related article on within-cases analysis:

Cardiorespiratory fitness and cognitive function

Cardiorespiratory fitness and cognitive function in middle age
The CARDIA Study
Published online before print April 2, 2014

Objective: To investigate whether greater cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is associated with better cognitive function 25 years later.

Methods: We studied 2,747 participants in the community-based Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study of black and white men and women aged 18 to 30 years at recruitment in 1985–1986 (baseline year 0). Symptom-limited maximal treadmill test durations at years 0 and 20 provided measures of CRF. Cognitive tests at year 25 measured verbal memory (Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test [RAVLT]), psychomotor speed (Digit Symbol Substitution Test [DSST]), and executive function (Stroop Test).

Results: Per minute of baseline CRF, the RAVLT was 0.12 words recalled higher (standard error [SE] = 0.03, p < 0.0001), the DSST was 0.92 digits higher (SE = 0.13, p < 0.0001), and the Stroop Test score was 0.52 lower (better performance, SE = 0.11, p < 0.0001), after accounting for race, sex, age, education, and clinical center. Compared with the lowest quartile of CRF, each cognitive test was 21% to 34% of an SD better in the highest CRF quartile. Further adjustment for lifestyle and clinical measures attenuated coefficients for RAVLT and DSST slightly, while the coefficient predicting the Stroop Test lost more than half its value (p = 0.07). Analysis in the subset of 1,957 participants who also completed the year-20 treadmill test showed that 20-year change in CRF was positively associated only with DSST (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Better verbal memory and faster psychomotor speed at ages 43 to 55 years were clearly associated with better CRF 25 years earlier.

journalistic version:



Cognitive Fitness (online course from Harvard Health Publishing)
accessed: July 2019

High fruit intake -> lower risk of hypertension

High fruit intake is associated with a lower risk of future hypertension determined by home blood pressure measurement: the OHASAMA study
Journal of Human Hypertension 25, 164-171 (March 2011)
M Tsubota-Utsugi, et al.

We investigate associations of fruit and vegetable intake with the risk of future hypertension using home blood pressure in a general population from Ohasama, Japan.
We obtained data from 745 residents aged greater than or equal to 35 years without home hypertension at baseline.
Dietary intake was measured using a validated 141-item food frequency questionnaire, and subjects were then divided into quartiles according to the fruit and vegetable intake.

Home hypertension was defined as home systolic/diastolic blood pressure of greater than or equal to 135/85 mm Hg and/or the use of antihypertensive medication.
During a 4-year follow-up period, we identified 222 incident cases of home hypertension. After adjustment for all putative confounding factors, the highest quartile of fruit intake was associated with a significantly lower risk of future home hypertension (odds ratio 0.40, 95% confidence interval 0.22–0.74, P=0.004). In conclusion, this study, based on home blood pressure measurement, suggests that higher intake of fruit is associated with a lower risk of future home hypertension.