B-Safe from Heart Disease
Heart disease remains this nation's number one killer, with more than 700,000 deaths annually. High cholesterol is usually cited as the culprit, but studies of heart-attack victims often reveal normal levels of cholesterol. Now there may be a better clue to what causes heart disease--and a way to lessen the risk.
A trigger could be homocysteine, a natural amino acid. Researchers began investigating the link after a rare disorder called homocystinuria--characterized by a very high level of homocysteine--was diagnosed in Ireland in 1962. About 50 percent of those afflicted with homocystinuria suffer strokes or heart attacks if they are not treated. Evidence now suggests that even mildly elevated levels of homocysteine lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Last year The New England Journal of Medicine called elevated homocysteine a "strong predictor" of death from heart disease.
These findings are both predictive and preventive. Research has shown that homocysteine can be lowered by the vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid, which a diet rich in vegetables or vitamin supplements can supply.
The Air Up There
On the heels of the oxygen-bar craze comes another breathing device. The Hypoxic Room System is a transparent chamber that simulates a "mountain" atmosphere at a 9000-foot altitude. The air is low in oxygen and filtered to minimize dust and bacteria. Work out in this chamber, and Hypoxico says you'll increase your endurance by 40 percent and burn more calories in less time than a normal workout takes. If you would rather snooze than sweat, try Hypoxico's "bed tent," which surrounds you with clean, thin air, making you stronger while you sleep. Sound too good to be true? Some people think the chambers are as useful as Mir, but regular users swear by them. To find out for yourself, look for the chambers in health clubs such as Crunch Fitness in New York and Los Angeles.
So you want to be strong and muscular but don't have endless hours to spend in the gym? Super Slow may be just what the trainer ordered. It's a strict protocol for fast-results strength training that will have you raising a weight to a count of ten, then lowering it to a count of ten or five, depending on whether you lift with free weights or with machines. The fullbody workouts are brief, intense, infrequent and--this is where the good news ends--painful.
"Exercise isn't supposed to be fun," it says on the Super Slow Web site, www.superslow.com. To build muscles, you have to fatigue them completely. That's the painful part. You succeed by failure, and when you lift and lower in slow motion, totally focused, you can cause many muscle groups to fail in just 30 minutes. Two 30-minute sessions a week are all you need, promises Manhattan trainer Fred Hahn, president of the Super Slow Exercise Guild. "It may not be fun," Hahn concedes, "but the payoff is tremendous. Super Slow really works."
It works if you work. It's best if you exercise with one of the several hundred certified Super Slow trainers in the country. The cost ranges from $30 to $80 per session. If you want to try it on your own, consult Ken Hutchins' detailed handbook, Super Slow: The Ultimate Exercise Protocol. For the book, call 407-260-6204. You may talk at regular speed.
It's not just for women anymore. These days, more men are opting for cosmetic surgery. Here are the most popular procedures, according to Dr. Brian Novack, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon: eyelid lift, ultrasound-assisted liposuction, facial rejuvenation by fat injection and laser hair removal. Lasers and ultrasound, says Dr. Novack, have made operations more efficient and have reduced the recovery time. Eyelids generally cost around $3500; liposuction costs about $5500.
An excellent book, Welcome to Your Facelift, by Helen Bransford (Jay McInerney's wife), explains everything for men.