If you are middle aged and overweight, you can still be fit, if you ensure your do four hours of exercise daily and/or exercise regularly. This emerges from research carried out by Dr. Klodian Dhana at the Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam in a study of 5,300 subjects aged 55 and over with an average age of 70. These individuals have been observed over 15 years. Overweight inactive people, on the other hand, had a one-third higher risk of heart attack or stroke. The study was recently published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
Dr. Dhana does not deny that fat deposits can have negative effects such as increasing the formation of blood clots. This is well known to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. But regular physical activity seems to counteract this risk by reducing the number of thrombocytes and the heart’s oxygen demand. The result of his study should therefore not be interpreted as a carte blanche for a risky diet, emphasizes Dr. Dhana. Instead, it reinforces the health benefits of plenty of exercise.
This view is confirmed by a scientific paper recently published in the renowned medical journal The Lancet, which then made headlines in the international press. Between 2004 and 2015, Prof. Hillard Kaplan from the University of New Mexico/USA and his team used computer tomography (CT) and X-ray scanners to examine the health status of over 700 adult members of an Indian tribe virtually untouched by civilization, the Tsimane, in the Bolivian Amazon jungle and compared it with the health data of 7,000 North Americans.
The Tsiman tribe comprises about 13,000 individuals scattered in over 80 small villages on the banks of the Maniqui River. It withstood all missionary attempts by the Jesuits. The Tsimans spend almost the whole day hunting and fishing (with bow and arrow) and collecting herbs and nuts. So they are almost constantly in motion. Animal proteins account for only about 14 percent of their daily food intake. The majority of the rest consists of high-fibre carbohydrate carriers such as rice, plantain, manioc and maize. Added to this are nuts and fruits. The Tsimans also brew beer from manioc, which adds to their conviviality.
The scientists were amazed at the good condition of the arteries of older Tsimans. Nine out of ten people examined had clear arteries. Some 80-year-olds had arteries as good as the 50-year-old North Americans. Most members of the tribe also had a comparatively low pulse rate and low blood pressure as well as low cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The fact that the blood of about half of all tribe members has elevated levels of inflammation markers doesn’t seem to fit into the overall picture to the same extent. But I’m not surprised. If I had blood taken immediately after going to the gym, my inflammation values would be up as well. My GP would know this and would advise me to have my blood tested before going to the gym. However, the high levels of inflammation in Tsimans can also be related to their frequent contact with pathogens of all kinds.
While the background of Dr. Dhana’s study suggests that the good state of health of the Tsimans is primarily due to their active lifestyle, Prof. Kaplan sees this as confirmation of the currently politically correct hypothesis of the beneficial effect of a low-fat diet. For some time now, the Green wings of all parties have been preaching the renunciation of meat – allegedly in order to protect the climate (what climate?). In Germany, medical statisticians even went so far as to falsify a meta-study on the relationship between obesity and life expectancy by removing data about almost two-thirds of the subjects, i.e. smokers, ex-smokers and chronically ill people (especially diabetics and people suffering from heart failure). Physicians have known for some time that these groups of people in particular benefit from layers of fat, provided they do not reach extreme proportions. “A fat stomach supports a weak heart,” headlined the Ärzte-Zeitung in 2012. “Fat people can cope better with a second stroke,” the Ärzte Zeitung reported a few months later. “Slender type 2 diabetics are at greater risk,” reported the German Diabetes Society in 2012: “Obese heart failure patients live longer,” wrote the German Medical Journal in 2015, just a few examples from a whole series of similar reports in medical journals.
In a recent lecture in Frankfurt, the qualified nutrition scientist Uwe Knop pointed out that it is not really possible to derive nutritional recommendations from epidemiological studies. This is because only correlations between data series are determined, not any causal relationships. If the number of storks fluctuates at the same rate the number of births, it’s not yet proven that the storks bring the babies. And if the number of cases of cardiovascular disease increases at a parallel rate to sugar consumption, this is far from proving that sugar consumption is responsible, says Knop. In reality, the aim is to justify the introduction of a “sugar tax” and/or to advertise expensive diets.