Your Anti-Senility Prescription

senility

This post is for everyone out there with a loved one over the age of 50.

.New research shows that our lifestyle choices (nutrition and physical activity) have a powerful effect on age related cognitive health.

Translation: Senility is mostly preventable with diet and exercise.

And guess what?

The same lifestyle choices that have created an epidemic of obesity in the Western world are also responsible for much of the dementia in today’s senior citizens.

Here’s the science:

Study #1

Researchers from the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain found that maintaining steady blood sugar levels, even in the absence of disease (diabetes, metabolic syndrome) is an important strategy for preserving cognitive health.

For many of us, senior moments are a normal part of aging. Such lapses in memory, according to this new research, can be blamed, on rising blood glucose levels as we age.

Whether through physical exercise, diet or drugs, our research suggests that improving glucose metabolism could help some of us avert the cognitive slide that occurs in many of us as we age,” reported lead investigator Scott A. Small, M.D.

Although it is widely known that the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease cause damage to the hippocampus, the area of the brain essential for memory and learning, studies have suggested that it is also vulnerable to normal aging.

Until now, the underlying causes of age-related hippocampal dysfunction have remained largely unknown.

In previous studies, Dr. Small et al had discovered that decreasing brain function in the dentate gyrus region of the hippocampus is the main contributor of normal age related cognitive decline.

In this new study, researchers used medical imaging devices to “help us better understand the basic mechanisms behind hippocampal dysfunction in the aged.”

Their research looked at measures that typically change during aging, like:

  • rising blood sugar,
  • body mass index,
  • cholesterol and
  • insulin levels.

The research found that decreasing activity in the dentate gyrus only correlated with levels of blood glucose.

“Showing for the first time that blood glucose selectively targets the dentate gyrus is not only our most conclusive finding, but it is the most important for ‘normal’ aging- that is hippocampal dysfunction that occurs in the absence of any disease states. There have been many proposed reasons for age-related hippocampal decline; this new study suggests that we may now know one of them,” said Dr. Small.

Conclusion

Control your blood sugar and prevent senility

How?

Read this and this and this and this.

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Study #2

In this study, researchers found that as we age, a slow, chronic starvation of the brain appears to be one of the major triggers of Alzheimer’s disease.

When the brain doesn’t get enough glucose, “a process is launched that ultimately produces the sticky clumps of protein that appear to be a cause of Alzheimer’s”. During this process, a key brain protein (eIF2alpha) increases the production of an enzyme which, in turn, flips a switch that produces the sticky clumps of protein.

And what causes this reduction in blood glucose to the brain?

Cardiovascular Disease

And how do we prevent cardiovascular disease?

But don’t take my word for it.

“This finding is significant because it suggests that improving blood flow to the brain might be an effective therapeutic approach to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s,” said Vassar, a professor of cell and molecular biology at the Feinberg School.

A simple preventive strategy people can follow to improve blood flow to the brain is getting exercise, reducing cholesterol and managing hypertension.

“If people start early enough, maybe they can dodge the bullet,” Vassar said.

For people who already have symptoms, vasodilators, which increase blood flow, may help the delivery of oxygen and glucose to the brain. It also is possible that drugs could be designed to block the eIF2alpha protein that begins the formation of the protein clumps, known as amyloid plaques.

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References

  1. EurekAlert
  2. EurekAlert

Diet Book Confidential…The Oprah Winfrey / Bob Greene Edition

best-life-diet-revised-updated-bob-greene

What makes a personal trainer successful?

.

OR

Having your clients

  • Transform their bodies
  • Maintain that transformation
  • Understand their own personal prescription for fitness
  • Refer you to all of their friends, eventually leading to
  • many best selling fitness books, an appearance on Oprah, etc…
How did America's Personal Trainer, Bob Greene "let this happen again?"
How did America's Personal Trainer, Bob Greene "let this happen again?"

So, is Bob Greene a successful personal trainer?

OR

Is he simply another well meaning? diet guru / snake oil salesman?

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Well, according to this email that I found in my inbox this morning, Oprah’s longtime trainer Bob Greene is about to reveal his foolproof, back-to-business plan….just in time for your New Year’s Resolution Diet Extravaganza!!!

oprah-bob-greene-diet-email

And what is that foolproof, back-to-business plan, you might ask?

Bob Greene Pearl of Wisdom #1

In the 25-plus years that I’ve been helping people slim down, I’ve noticed a few common traps that cause people to fall off the wagon. (Incidentally, they’re similar to the reasons we fail to lose weight in the first place—and I’ll tell you about them in my “Back to Business” Plan.)……

Science, too, is starting to help us understand why certain people may be wired to relapse.

Recently, in fact, experts have started comparing the struggle to slim down with the difficulty of breaking an addictive habit. Research suggests that it often takes a number of attempts before people are able to kick cigarettes or give up alcohol for good; this might also be true for weight loss.

The National Weight Control Registry is conducting an ongoing study of more than 5,000 men and women who have succeeded in maintaining an average loss of 66 pounds for more than five years—and among them, 91 percent had tried and failed before. The average total number of pounds lost (and re-lost) by a participant through various diets is a whopping 565!

So here’s the good news: Instead of thinking, “I’ve failed over and over again, why bother trying again?” take your relapse in stride and stay positive no matter how many attempts it takes you. Each new effort brings you closer to the one that might really work. The key is to stick with it until you achieve your weight and health goals—that’s my definition of a true success story.

Health Habits Translation

  • Weight loss is not easy for a lot of people.
  • Food addiction exists – the hows and whys are under debate
  • The diet that works for me may not work as well for you
  • So, be prepared to try a few different diet plans and don’t get discouraged if you don’t get the results that you were hoping for.
  • Oh, and buy all 3 of my new books…available just in time for your 2009 New Year’s Resolutions

best-life-diet-revised-updated-bob-greenebest-life-diet-daily-journalbest-life-diet-cookbook

But what if your bank account is running a little low after your most recent Christmas present spending orgy?

Don’t worry.

Bob Greene and Oprah are going to tell you exactly what you need to know about whipping that doughy body of yours into shape starting January 5, 2009.

But, if you can’t wait until then, Bob has a preview for ya.

Bob Greene Pearl of Wisdom #2

If we follow the link over to Bob’s “Back to Business” Plan, we see three 12 week diet and exercise plans geared towards beginner, intermediate and advanced dieters.

Let’s look at the beginner plan.

Weeks 1 & 2:

Food Switch: Replace soda with water, unsweetened iced tea, or fat-free milk. Diet soda is okay, but limit the amount, as it may encourage cravings for sweet foods.

Cardio: Fifteen minutes of activity such as walking or riding a stationary bike five times a week. You should be working hard enough so that you can talk, but not for very long.

Strength: None. Starting a strength-training program can stimulate hunger. That’s why I recommend waiting until you get a few healthy diet changes under your belt.

Traps to Avoid: Don’t be tempted by a shortcut (a fat-burning pill, a fad diet). It may work for a while, but to lose weight permanently you need to move more, eat less, and figure out the emotional reasons you turn to food.

Health Habits Review – Weeks 1 & 2

Replacing soda with lower calorie beverages is a great way to eliminate empty calories from your diet. The loss of caffeine may be a problem for some Coca-Cola junkies.

Starting with some low intensity cardio exercise is a prudent start for a beginner. Diving right into a complicated program of diet, cardio and resistance training can sometimes overwhelm a newbie.

Overall, a safe and sensible start to a weight loss program.

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Weeks 3 & 4:

Food Switch: Trade in your white bread for 100 percent whole grain, in addition, try incorporating whole grain pasta and brown rice into your diet.

Cardio: Add five more minutes to each workout session, for a total of 20 minutes, five days a week.

Strength: None at this time.

Traps to Avoid: Exercise is tough. You can shed pounds by just cutting calories, but among successful long-term weight losers, 90 percent exercise regularly. Physical activity also improves mood, sleep, even sex.

Health Habits Review – Weeks 3 & 4

Dumping the Wonder bread in favor of 100% whole grain increases your intake of fiber, slowing digestion, increasing fullness, decreasing hunger and reducing your chances of developing colon cancer. Another no-brainer. Way to go Bob.

Gradually increasing the volume of cardio training is smart. Nothing like a case of shin splints to derail a beginner’s cardio program. Take it slow and easy and let your body get used to these new demands.

I can’t believe that Bob is still avoiding resistance training.

A program designed around natural body movements – squatting, pushing, pulling, lunging, reaching, climbing, twisting, etc.. is vital to increasing the beginner’s quality of life.

Overall, I would still give Weeks 3 & 4 a passing grade.

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Weeks 5 & 6:

Food Switch: Cut out trans fat (look for it on labels—or for “partially hydrogenated oil”). Find baked goods and spreads without it, or make your own, using healthy fats, such as olive and corn oil.

Cardio: Add five more minutes of cardio to each workout, for a total of 25 minutes, five days a week.

Strength: Start with eight moves that work the major muscle groups—triceps extensionbiceps curlsquat. Do one to two sets of eight to 10 reps for each, three times a week. Get all of Bob’s fitness moves!

Traps to Avoid: Have you thought about the emotional reasons behind why you overeat? You’ll keep relapsing if you don’t. Try keeping a journal to help get at the deeper issues you need to address.

Health Habits Review – Weeks 5 & 6

Cutting out trans fats – another no-brainer. No one needs to eat this junk.

A little more cardio…good

And finally some strength training…oh no…Bob, what are you doing?

You finally introduce strength training, and this is what you give to a beginner interested in burning off body-fat?

  • A bodybuilding style program designed for hypertrophy
  • Exercises that require a gym membership
  • Exercises that are the opposite of functional training
  • Exercises that are mislabelled…Oprah’s incline crunch looks suspiciously like an incline sit-up

Oh, Bob.

Overall, I have to give Weeks 5 & 6 a failing grade

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Weeks 7 & 8:

Food Switch: Switch from fried foods to roasted, sautéed, or baked. Try roasted potatoes, baked (and lightly breaded) chicken, and vegetables sautéed in olive oil.

Cardio: Add five more minutes of cardio to each workout session, for a total of 30 minutes, five days a week.

Strength: Continue with your strength training routine.

Traps to Avoid: Your initual enthusiasm may be wearing thin—so sudden work demands or an injury can throw you off your program. Figure out now how you’ll respond to such setbacks.

Health Habits Review – Weeks 7 & 8

Eating less fried foods…good

A little more cardio…good

Same resistance training program…bad

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Weeks 9 & 10:

Food Switch: Skim the fat from dairy: Go from whole or 2 percent milk and yogurt to 1 percent or fat-free versions. Also try calcium- and vitamin D-enriched soy milk with no more than 100 calories per cup.

Cardio: Add five more minutes of cardio to each workout, for a total of 35 minutes, five days a week.

Strength: Add another set of eight to 10 reps to each of the moves in your routine.

Traps to Avoid: You’re beginning to appreciate the work involved in weight control. Many people set out to lose 20 to 30 percent of their total weight, but 10 percent is more realistic You may want to revisit your initial goal.

Health Habits Review – Weeks 9 & 10

Reducing your saturated fat intake by switching to 1% or skim milk products….

At first glance, this seems like a good idea…less saturated fat equals less calories equals less junk in the trunk…right?

Maybe not. The fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E and K) found in milk require fat for digestion. And considering that most Americans are deficient in Vitamin D, switching to skim milk may not be the healthiest thing to do. Stick to 1% at least, or go and get your Vitamin D elsewhere.

Regarding the exercise program, Bob increases the cardio a little more and continues with the same sad old strength training program.

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Weeks 11 & 12:

Food Switch: Consider cutting out alcohol as a way to eliminate calories. Instead of beer, wine, or a cocktail, order sparkling water with a splash of fruit juice (or another low-calorie drink) and see if it doesn’t make a big difference.

Cardio: Add five more minutes of cardio to each workout, for a total of 40 minutes, five days a week.

Strength: Continue with  your strength-training program.

Traps to Avoid: The pounds have come off—great. But now you find yourself skipping a workout and allowing a second helping here and there. Remember, weight loss is not a finish line but the beginning of a process in which you learn about yourself and improve your life. The longer you persist, the easier it gets.

Health Habits Review – Weeks 11 & 12

Less alcohol…some more low hanging fruit here.

Cutting back on booze is a quick way to reduce calories. For some of us, it also reduces our “fun factor”, but that is another story altogether.

And, Bob’s added another 5 minutes of cardio for the final 2 weeks of his Back to Business weight loss plan.

..

The Final Verdict

Don’t waste your time following this plan.

In fact, don’t waste your time, buying Bob Greene’s books.

Even better, don’t buy any diet books….

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And don’t believe what Oprah and Bob are going to tell you next week.

It won’t work.

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And this is coming from one of the few men willing to admit that he admires Oprah.

That’s right, I said it.

I admire Oprah.

She is one of the few television personalities that makes her audience think. You may / may not like what she and her guests are saying, but most of the time, her topics are thought provoking.

And that has to be a good thing.

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But when it comes to sustained weight loss, she and Bob don’t know what the &$@#* they are doing.

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oprah-cover-january-2009-how-did-i-let-this-happen-again2Think about it.

Without Oprah, Bob Greene is an anonymous personal trainer in Chicago.

With Oprah, Bob Greene is a multi-millionare personal trainer with a burgeoning health and fitness empire.

He should be highly motivated to keep Oprah as fit as a fiddle.

And yet…the weight came back.

And if Oprah can’t keep the weight off, who can?

Oprah has:

  • Access to the best trainers in the world (Bob Greene)
  • Access to the best nutritional gurus in the world
  • Access to America’s doctor, Dr. Oz
  • A fully equipped home gym(s)
  • A personal chef
  • Access to the best selling spiritual gurus
  • Access to the most popular personal coaches
  • Access to the psychiatrists who have devoted their practices to weight loss
  • Access to the President-Elect, and
  • More money than God

With all of this equipment and money and advice and healthy eatin’ and healthy livin’, how could she gain 40 lbs. in one year?

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Because just about everything that the experts have been telling us about weight loss (since WW2) is wrong.

  • Counting calories doesn’t work
  • Cardio-vascular exercise doesn’t work
  • Eating more fiber doesn’t work
  • Eating off of smaller plates doesn’t work
  • Drinking a glass of water before eating doesn’t work
  • Fat burners don’t work
  • Cleansing your colon doesn’t work

So what does work?

Stay tuned.

Over the next month, I will be giving you everything you need to lose that weight for the last time.

Nothing to buy.

No email lists.

No signing up for anything.

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best-life-diet-daily-journalI will also be uploading pdf versions of the diet and training journals that I use with my clients.

Feel free to modify and share them as you see fit

And save the $15 you would have spent on Bob’s Diet Journal.

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Mediterranean Veg Soup with Turkey Meatballs

Mediterranian Veg Soup

Ah yes, it’s the day after Christmas–are your pants feeling a bit snug? Perhaps you were snowed in–did you find yourself knee deep in a tray of gingerbread men while trying to keep warm with hot toddies? Well then it was a happy Christmas after all! But now it’s time to regroup and get back to health. Nothing warms you more than a hearty soup and this is just the ticket. Healthy to boot, this soup is loaded with fresh veggies and even your left over turkey from Christmas dinner.

RECIPE:
1 cup zucchini – small dice
1 cup yellow squash – small dice
1/2 cup red onion – small dice
1 cup carrot – peeled and small dice
6 oz shitake mushrooms (any type will do really) – sliced
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic – minced
2 x 15 oz cans tomato sauce (not ketchup)
2 quarts chicken / veg broth
2 tbsp. fresh basil – fine chop
1/2 lb. ground turkey breast (rolled into bite size meatballs)

DIRECTIONS:
In a preheated soup pot add olive oil for 20 seconds and follow by adding zucchini, squash, onion and carrot on medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes. Add minced garlic and mushrooms and continue cooking for two minutes or until veg are softened. Add in tomato sauce and broth, stir. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook over moderate heat  for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes add in the raw meatballs and give it a good stir. Don’t worry about putting them raw, they’ll poach in the broth and absorb the flavors.
To finish, add in the chopped fresh basil and season with S&P to taste.

To see more of my recipes and learn about me and my healthy food philosophies head over to thehealthyirishman.com

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How Your Diet Can Wreck Your Waist to Hip Ratio

According to some of the luckiest scientists on earth, a woman’s waist to hip ratio may be the most important factor in determining her physical attractiveness.

Along with a variety of other factors, a relatively small waist and large hips is one of nature’s tricks to guarantee the evolution of our human race. To be blunt, a woman’s curves tells any available men that she is young and healthy and capable of makin’ babies.

So there you have it: Men are genetically programmed to be attracted to a woman’s curves.

salma_hayek

So, how come America’s women have added an average of 6″ to their waistlines since the 1950s?

Where has the hourglass shape gone?

Why are more and more women looking less like this?

http://www.nzgirl.co.nz
photo credit: http://www.nzgirl.co.nz

and looking more like this:

fat-belly-woman

Well, according to a whole lot of research:

It’s your diet.

More specifically, it’s all of the processed carbs in your diet. Like this:

greasy-burger

and this:

donuts-glazed

and this:

slurpee

But, don’t believe me.

Researchers from McMaster University found that the ratio of protein to carbs in your diet will determine your waist to hip ratio.

Eat more protein and less carbs…and you have curves.

sophia_loren

Eat less protein and more carbs…and you will turn into a sausage

belly-fat1

Want more info?….Here’s the study.

Physical Attraction, Sexiness and Health…The Female Edition

karolina-kurkova
Karolina Kurkova

What makes a woman sexy?

According to Wikipedia, physical attractiveness is the perception of the physical traits of an individual human person as pleasing or beautiful. It can include various implications, such as sexual attractiveness and physique and blah, blah, blah, blah and blah.

Who would have thought that a discussion of what makes a woman sexy could be this boring? But wait, it gets better.

Judgment of attractiveness of physical traits is:

  1. partly universal to all human cultures
  2. partly dependent on culture or society or time period, and
  3. partly a matter of individual subjective preference

So, what part is universal to all human cultures?

That’s what we’re really talking about.

karolina-kurkova-feetPersonally, I couldn’t care less about your “individual subjective preferences” I know a guy with a serious thing about feet.

But somehow, I don’t think most people are going nuts about Karolina Kurkova’s little piggies….but then again

And, in regards to culture, society and time period: like it or not, American/Western culture has spread all around the globe. Individual languages and cultures are being swallowed up each and every day. The same probably holds true for our global definition of sexiness.

So, I ask again, what makes a woman sexy?

According to the sexperts:

  • It all comes down to makin’ babies. Somewhere deep in our ancient, lizard brains, there is a blueprint for the ultimate Baby Mama.

And that blueprint includes:

  • Facial Symmetry – a marker of good health
  • Full lips – a marker of youth
  • Waist to Hip Ratio – more good health
  • Upper Arm Circumference – granny arms do not qualify as sexy
  • Body Mass proportion – another marker of good health
  • Smooth Skin – youth & health
  • Clear Eyes – youth & health
  • Lustrous Hair – youth & health
  • Muscle Tone – youth & health
  • Breast Size – there are a whole hosts of theories on this one
  • Erect Posture – another health marker
  • Height – men prefer women shorter than themselves…must be an ego thing

2008 World’s Sexiest Women

(according to E!)
1. Karolina Kurkova
1. Karolina Kurkova

Waist to Hip Ratio – check-mark

2. Bar Rafaeli
2. Bar Rafaeli

Erect Posture – check-mark

3. Angelina Jolie
3. Angelina Jolie

Facial Symmetry – check-mark

4. Gisele Bundchen
4. Gisele Bundchen

Clear Eyes – check-mark

5. Scarlett Johansson
5. Scarlett Johansson

Breast size – check-mark

6. Adriana Lima
6. Adriana Lima

Full Lips – check-mark

7. Heidi Klum
7. Heidi Klum

Muscle Tone – check-mark

8. Penelope Cruz
8. Penelope Cruz

Smooth Skin – check-mark

9. Manuela Arcuri
9. Manuela Arcuri

Body Mass proportion – check-mark

10. Shakira
10. Shakira

Lustrous Hair – check-mark

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And what does all of this have to do with health & fitness?

Glad you asked

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When it comes to physical attractiveness, none of these women are relying on just one of characteristics listed above. They pretty much won the genetic lottery as it applies to physical beauty.

But, like all of us, they will get older.

And since so much of beauty is tied to the appearance of youth and health, unless they work at it, their beauty will fade.

And what about us mere mortals?

We all weren’t born to be fashion models or sex symbols.

True, but you can all take advantage of the new research being done to keep us looking better, feeling better and living longer than ever before.

And in the next few posts, I will outline some of that research and show you how you can incorporate it into your lifestyle.

Stay tuned.

(and ladies…I will be doing a Male Edition)

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Dr. Dan’s Paleo Diet Saves Christmas

blood-cells
With Christmas just around the corner, I felt that it was time for a “feel good” story here at the old Health Habits blog.
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And not the typical “Yes, Virginia there is a  Santa Claus” , happy ending, Merry Christmas, Bing Crosby kind of story. I am talking about a body-fat melting, blood profile improving, getting super healthy kind of feel good story.
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And thanks to Daniel Basset, or Dr. Dan to his readers, we have just that type of story.
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So, here we go.
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In the past few months, Dr. Dan has made some drastic improvements to his health and appearance.
Dr. Dan - Sept. 29/08...Oct. 29/08...Nov. 29/08
Dr. Dan - Sept. 29/08...Oct. 29/08...Nov. 29/08
And while the physical transformation has been impressive, what I am most impressed with are the changes that Dr. Dan has made in his overall health.
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To be fair, Dr. Dan isn’t your typical Joe Six Pack trying to drop a few pounds because he can no longer look down and see his feet.
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Here’s his bio in his own words.
I am 34 and have dieted on and off for my whole life. I have done the usual large lists of low calorie diets with little success. Only with extreme measures did I manage to lose any weight, and this was not healthy.
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To add to this I have a genetic disorder known as Thalassemia. This is not a serious disorder but in short it results in a reduced rate of synthesis of one of the globin chains that make up hemoglobin. This reduced synthesis rate results in abnormal hemoglobin molecules been produced and this causes anemia. Basically, the hemoglobin can not hold on to or bind iron very well (iron falls off the molecule) and so you tend to have a very low iron count.
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For my whole life I have been unable to give blood because of the resulting anaemia and this has always been the case with every blood test I have ever had.
So Dr. Dan is perpetually anemic. Apart from not being able to give blood, what does this mean?
Here are some of the side effects of anemia:
  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • shortness of breath
  • lightheadedness
  • palpitations (feeling of the heart racing or beating irregularly)
  • looking pale

I don’t want to put words into Dr. Dan’s mouth, but if I felt like that all the time, I don’t think that I would be very motivated to hit the gym.

But, like I said, this is a “feel good” story, so things are obviously going to get better for Dr. Dan. Let’s listen in:
At the age of 34 I discovered the Paleo Diet.
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The Paleo Diet is based on the premise that the human body has evolved to eat foods that were eaten by our paleolithic ancestors and not those introduced by the agricultural revolution.
This cuts out dairy, saturated fats, grains, legumes, beans. You are left with vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish and nuts. Essentially, it is a low carb diet but without any processed foods and packed full of nutrients.
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As a research scientist and a zoologist I am passionate about evolution, and its constraints and effects on our biology, thus this diet appealed to me greatly.
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Since I started this diet I have dropped from 115.8 kg (255 pounds) to my current weight of 103.8 kg (228 pounds). It has been simple and I have not felt hungry.
Here’s where it gets really interesting…to me at least. Not only had Dr. Dan lost a bunch of weight, he was feeling less anemic…or in his case, less Thalassemic.
On November 14, I decided to get my blood tests done to confirm the health benefits. All was good and my blood profile was amazing. But something happened in this blood profile that I did not suspect. For the first time in my entire life the negative effects of Thalassemia had disappeared.
What???
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According to my conversations with Dr. Dan, this wasn’t possible.
The Doctors told me that there was nothing I could do about the Thalassemia… that it was a genetic disorder and I would just have to live with a low iron count. So I had pretty much given up on that. That’s why I was so damn suprised when I saw the results.
Here is Dr. Dan’s blood test results:

Iron Profile                                   My Results             Desired Range

Ferritin:                                            323                         10-300

Iron:                                                  15                          10-30

IBC:                                                   53                          45-75

Sat:                                                  0.28                      0.15-0.50

Ferritin – The serum ferritin level correlates with total body iron stores; thus, the serum ferritin level is the most convenient laboratory test to estimate iron stores. This is similar to the way the body stores excess energy in the form of fat. If ferritin is high, as in my case, there is iron in excess, which would be excreted.

Iron – The amount of iron in the blood stream.

IBC – Iron binding capacity

Sat – Iron saturation. An indication of the total body iron

So, as you can see my iron count is normal and my ferritin count above the normal range.
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In essence all these factors in the blood test suggest that I am binding, storing and utilising iron just fine.
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Of course I still have Thalassemia as it is a genetic disorder and it will never be ‘cured’. But this paleo diet has given my body something that I have never had before, and something completely unexpected – a normal iron count.
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I can now say that I am no longer anaemic.
I told you it was a “feel good” story.
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Dr. Dan and his Paleo Diet Save Christmas!!!
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If anyone wants any info on the Paleo Diet, they can check out this post, or go straight to the horse’s mouth and pester Dr. Dan with all of your questions.

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Herb Crusted Beef Filet

Herb Crusted Beef Filet

In my last post I told you that Pork has some great lean cuts but did you know that Beef also has a lot of lean protein? Now 29 cuts of beef meet government guidelines for being “lean”. So how does it stack up against skinless chicken breast in terms of fat content? When comparing 3-oz cooked servings, all 29 cuts of beef have on average, only 1.2 grams more saturated fat than a skinless chicken breast. Beef is also a great source of vitamin B12, B6,  zinc and iron.

So with that said, here’s a simple and delicious recipe using the lean & mean Filet Mignon.

RECIPE:

5 lb beef filet – trimmed if needed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

CRUST RECIPE:

2 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp fresh thyme – chopped
2 tbsp fresh rosemary – chopped
1/2 tbsp cracked black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat grill pan (you can use a saute pan as well) on high heat for 2-3 mins. While that’s getting hot, season beef filet with S&P. Drizzle olive oil into your hot pan and sear filet for 2-3 minutes on each side. You’re aiming for a nice golden brown color. Set aside on sheet pan to cool. Next, grab a small mixing bowl and mix together the thyme, rosemary and cracked black pepper and sprinkle onto a cutting board in an even layer. Once beef has cooled smear Dijon mustard on all sides and then roll the beef in the chopped herbs, making sure all sides are coated.
TIP: This can be done up to 12 hours ahead. Just cover and refrigerate until needed.
Herb Crusted Beef Filet

Pre-heat oven to 400F.
When ready to serve pop beef in the oven for 25 mins approx or until internal temp. 120 C. This will be medium rare. Let beef rest for additional 10 minutes which will ensure all the juices are re-distributed within the meat. As you can see in my photo at the top I roasted the filet on top of some baby carrots and shallots. I also made some pureed turnip. I grew up eating turnip in Ireland but people are not into it too much over here. I figured I’d introduce it to some of you.
I used a yellow turnip, also known as a Rutabaga, which is what I’m used to. However, over here the main turnip du jour is white. Both types can be cooked the same way and both types are excellent sources of vitamin C.

TURNIP RECIPE:

1 1/2 lb. turnip (yellow or white) – peeled & rough chopped
1/4 cup broth (chicken / veg)
1 tbsp. olive oil
S&P to taste

DIRECTIONS:
Place prepped turnip in pot of salted water and bring to a boil on high heat, covered. Once boiling reduce heat to medium and continue cooking for 20 mins. approx or until turnip is fork tender and mashable (a word, not sure but you catch my drift). When ready drain in a colander in the sink and return to same pot. Add broth, olive oil and season with S&P to taste. As simple as that. Turnip for me has a very rustic earthy flavor which I love and I think it goes great with steak.
Do yourself a favor this weekend and try this for some friends. I guarantee you’ll come up trumps.

Herb Crusted Beef Filet-Finished

To see more of my recipes and learn about me and my healthy food philosophies head over to www.thehealthyirishman.com.

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Insulin, Insulin, Insulin

It’s official:

Hell has frozen over.

The MSM (Main Stream Medical) Community has actually come around and agreed that diet and lifestyle changes have been successful in preventing Type 2 Diabetes in high risk populations.

  • Not DRUGS.
  • Diet and Lifestyle.

And wait, it gets better.

They are also beginning to realize that anti-hyperglycemic medications (designed to improve glycemic control in type 2 diabetes) may not be the cardiovascular superstars that their manufacturers make them out to be.

sugar-lips

That realization is growing thanks to research like this:

Effect of a Low–Glycemic Index
or a High–Cereal Fiber Diet on Type 2 Diabetes

David J. A. Jenkins, MD is the man credited with developing the Glycemic Index.

The goal of his new study was to assess the effect of a low–glycemic index diet in an adequately powered study of patients with type 2 diabetes controlled by oral medications with HbA1c concentrations between 6.5% and 8.0%. At these levels, a reduction in glycemia and associated risk factors for diabetes complications are likely to be observed more clearly.

He selected a high–cereal fiber diet treatment for its suggested health benefits for the comparison so that the potential value of carbohydrate foods could be emphasized equally for both high–cereal fiber and low–glycemic index interventions.

And here are the low-glycemic-vs-high-fiber-diet-menus.

These are the only differences between the two diets:

  • High Fiber v.s Low Glycemic
  • Weetabix v.s Red River cereal
  • Whole wheat bread v.s Quinoa bread
  • Margarine v.s Peanut butter
  • Cantaloupe v.s orange
  • Brown rice v.s Spaghetti, al dente
  • Grapes v.s. Apple
  • Baked potato v.s Lentils
  • Margarine v.s Tomato sauce
  • Whole wheat toast v.s Finland rye pita

The Results

Dr. Jenkins was most interested in the dietary effects on A1c blood levels (A1c reflects long term blood glucose levels)

After 6 months, the low GI group lowered their A1c by 0.50% while the high fiber group lowered it by only 0.18%

Additionally, The low GI group saw an increase in their HDL (the “good” cholesterol), while the high fiber group saw a decrease.

Their conclusion:

In patients with type 2 diabetes, 6-month treatment with a low–glycemic index diet resulted in moderately lower HbA1c levels compared with a high–cereal fiber diet….or in English

Low-glycemic index diets may be useful as part of the strategy to improve glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes taking (glucose-lowering) medications

My conclusion:

It’s the insulin, stupid.

  • Control your insulin and you regain some control over the chronic diseases and conditions so many of our neighbors are plagued with – obesity, diabetes, metabolic disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc…
  • Control your insulin by controlling your carbohydrates.
  • Control your insulin by following a Mediterranean style diet or a Paleo / Caveman diet or an Atkins / low carbs diet.
  • Or, control your insulin by replacing processed foods with natural, home-made versions.
  • Or, control your insulin by eating less bread
  • Or…

 

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The New Non-Diet Mediterranean Diet

autumn-fall-produce-vegetables

Let’s be honest, diets don’t work.

Sure, at first, you’re all gung-ho to drop some weight. So you log on to Amazon and buy the latest bestselling diet book. You are psyched. When it shows up at your door, you feverishly rip open the packaging and devour the entire book in one sitting.

And then, you’re off to the supermarket. Loading up on whatever miracle foods your new Diet Bible has told you to buy.

You bring all that stuff home and boom!…you’re dieting. And for the next two weeks, you are a spartan.

But eventually you get bored of following the rules. So, you cheat…a little….then a little more…And the next thing you know, you’ve re-gained all of the weight you just lost, plus an extra 5 pounds just to be ironic.

So yeah, diets don’t work. For long lasting weight loss, you have to think long term. You have to think lifestyle.

And for most people, that is easier said than done. Until now

A new study by researchers at the University of Michigan Health System has been successful in helping women double their fruit and vegetable intake as well as dramatically increasing their consumption of “good” fats.

The six-month study of 69 women divided the participants into two groups.

greensIn one group, registered dietitians used an “exchange list” of foods that are common in a Mediterranean diet to make a plan for each participant.

The new plan maintained the caloric and total fat intakes that the participants consumed at the beginning of the study.

The list included suggested servings, or exchanges, of several categories of foods—such as dark green vegetables, such as spinach, or high-monounsaturated fats, such olive oil.

The dietitians also provided counseling on the telephone to help the participants to make the dietary changes, as well as in-person sessions at the start of the study and three months later.

Women in the comparison group continued their usual diet and did not receive any dietary counseling, though they were offered one free dietary counseling session after they completed their part in the study. If their intake of any vitamin or mineral was less than two-thirds of the recommended levels, they were given a list of foods that are rich in that nutrient. They also were given the National Cancer Institute’s “Action Guide to Healthy Eating.”

Researchers found that the group that followed the exchange-list plan reached the goals of the Mediterranean diet within three months, and maintained the change for the six-month duration of the study.

But the comparison group that did not use the exchange list or receive dietary counseling made few dietary changes.

“That tells us that the exchange list was helpful in assisting women to make major changes in their diet, without changes in their caloric or total fat intake,” says lead author Zora Djuric, Ph.D.

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NO COUNTING CALORIES

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So Why did the Researchers Choose the Mediterranean Diet?

Mediterranean diets have been associated with health benefits such as lower risks for cardiovascular disease and cancer. Recent studies also have suggested that such a diet can increase longevity, but this data is from observational studies of Europeans who followed a traditional Mediterranean dietary pattern.

The new research is the first time a method has been devised to achieve the major Mediterranean nutrient intakes using American foods, and American women were able to follow this diet.

Eating patterns in Greece and other Mediterranean countries traditionally have been high in monounsaturated fats, compared with the saturated fats and polyunsaturated fats that are more common in the United States. The Mediterranean diet is also rich in fruits and vegetables.

In this new study, specific suggestions in the exchange list included:

  • 8-10 servings (or exchanges) each day of high monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA), such as olive or hazelnut oil, avocado and macadamia nuts
  • Limits on fats that are low in MUFA, such as corn oil, margarine, tahini, pine nuts and sesame seeds.
  • One or more servings a day of dark green vegetables, such as broccoli, peas and spinach
  • At least one exchange per day of garlic, onions and leeks
  • One tablespoon or more per day of green herbs, such as basil, cilantro, peppermint and sage
  • One or more servings a day of red vegetables, such as tomatoes, tomato sauce and salsa
  • One or more servings a day of yellow or orange vegetables, such as carrots, red bell peppers and pumpkin
  • One or more servings a day of other vegetables, such as artichokes, cucumber, green beans and sugar snap peas
  • One or more servings a day of vitamin C fruits, such as oranges, mangoes and strawberries
  • One or more servings a day of other fruits, such as apples, bananas and grapes

Conclusion

It’s almost January 2009. Most of you will be making New Year’s resolutions. Most of those peoples will resolve to finally lose those 20 extra pounds that are quickly turning into 40 pounds.

Please….I am begging you. Don’t go out and buy another diet book.

Go online, search my blog, whatever…but look for all of the info you can find on Mediterranean or Paleo or Caveman Diets (I really hate that word diet)

  • And take a really hard look at your lifestyle.
  • Think about the foods you like to eat.

And start (slowly) removing some of the junkiest junk foods in your diet and replace them with healthier options…but be critical. Are these foods that you could see yourself eating 20 years from now. If not, find something else.

Personally, I am not a big squash lover. Even though I know there is lots of good stuff in squash, I don’t like squash. So, I don’t eat it. But, instead of chowing down on pizza night after night, I find healthier options that I like. And then I start playing in the kitchen. And I learn how to make those “sorta like” healthy foods taste a heck of a lot better.

You can do this people.

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Reference

  • Eurekalert
  • Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Dec. 2008, Vol. 108 Number 12, “Design of a Mediterranean Exchange List Diet Implemented by Telephone Counseling.”

New York’s OBESITY TAX…social engineering or prudent fiscal policy?

New York state Governor David Paterson is introducing a new 15%  “Obesity Tax” on high-calorie soft drinks. Milk, fruit juices, bottled water and “diet” soft drinks will be exempt from the new tax.

When reached for comment, executives from Coca Cola and Pepsi were quoted as saying:

“that son of a bi#ch Paterson! Who the fu*k does he think he is? Does he really want to go to war with us? If he thought The Sopranos were tough, wait until I get my hands on him, I’ll rip him a new as#h@le! bleep… bleep…bleep

They went on like that for about 20 minutes. Eventually, I just gave up on the interview. And they weren’t the only ones losing it:

  • Noted Fat Acceptance guru Kate Harding had a few choice words on her blog.
  • Right wing blowhard Rush Limbaugh claimed to have predicted this 14 years ago. Must have been when he was hooked on the Oxycontin.
  • Kevin Keane, senior VP-public affairs at the American Beverage Association, said the organization has reached out to New York Gov. David Patterson’s office regarding the proposed tax on full-calorie sodas. “It looks like a money grab. [Mr. Patterson] is trying to grab money anywhere he can find it,” Mr. Keane said. “This is a time when the government, just like families, needs to tighten its belt.” Mr. Keane went on to question the validity of an ‘obesity tax‘ on full-calorie soda, given data that show that obesity rates are rising even as soft-drink sales are flat. He also said the soft-drink industry provides the state with plenty of jobs, including union jobs. PepsiCo is based in Purchase, N.Y., and major bottlers are also based in New York.blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah……

Let’s Recap

  • New York state is having trouble balancing it’s budget. No big surprise. Apparently the U.S. has been in recession for a full year now.
  • Governments raise taxes to increase their revenues.
  • Fat people are an easy target…no pun intended
  • New York city and other various levels of government have already enacted legislation in order to curb obesity.
  • Slapping a tax on a product linked to obesity is a no-brainer in the current political, economic and social environment.

But will it work?

  • cornSoft drink companies are heavily subsidized through their use of HFCS as their main ingredient. So what we have here is one level of government taxing a product and another level of government subsidizing it….SMART
  • Soft drinks are cheap!    If a 2 liter bottle of Coke costs $2.00, the new “fat tax” will add 30 cents to the bill. 30 cents!!! Who can’t come up with another 30 cents? Do they really think that this extra expense is going to cause obese New Yorkers to forgo their purchase of a vanilla Coke?   Hmmm, let’s see, buy that bottle of Pepsi or pay the rent. What to do, what to do…

My Conclusion

This tax is designed to bring more money into the state’s near empty coffers. Period.

It is not going to entice anyone to drink less pop.

It will however, make it easier to add new taxes or even slap bans on other forms of junk food. And won’t that really tick off the fat Acceptance crowd.

Is Sugar Addictive?

Researchers from Princeton University have found that SUGAR is ADDICTIVE

The Research

Professor Bart Hoebel and his team in the Department of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute have been studying signs of sugar addiction in rats for years. Until now, the rats under study have met two of the three elements of addiction.

They have demonstrated a behavioral pattern of increased intake and then showed signs of withdrawal.

His current experiments captured craving and relapse to complete the picture.

i love sugar

“If bingeing on sugar is really a form of addiction, there should be long-lasting effects in the brains of sugar addicts,” Hoebel said. “Craving and relapse are critical components of addiction, and we have been able to demonstrate these behaviors in sugar-bingeing rats in a number of ways.”

The Sad, Sad Story of Dr. Hoebel’s Sugar Addicted Lab Rats

As part of his experiment, Dr. Hoebel got a bunch of lab rats hooked on the white stuff. They would binge on that sweet powder like it was going out of style.

Then Dr. Hoebel would take away their sugar for a prolonged period of time….the bastard.

Then, like any good pusher, he returned with a brand new supply of that junk. And the rats went nuts. They consumed more sugar than they ever had before, suggesting craving and relapse behavior. Their motivation for sugar had grown.

“In this case, abstinence makes the heart grow fonder,” Hoebel said.

And it gets worse. He got them drunk.

The rats drank more alcohol than normal after their sugar supply was cut off, showing that the bingeing behavior had forged changes in brain function.

These functions served as “gateways” to other paths of destructive behavior, such as increased alcohol intake. And, after receiving a dose of amphetamine normally so minimal it has no effect, they became significantly hyperactive.

The increased sensitivity to the psychostimulant is a long-lasting brain effect that can be a component of addiction, Hoebel said.

Dr. Hoebel’s research has been submitted to the Journal of Nutrition for publication.

And the rats are serving time for the break and enters they committed in order to feed their addictions. Dr. Hoebel; I hope that you are proud of yourself.

But seriously, SUGAR is ADDICTIVE

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Pandering For Your Vote

vote-for-me

Today’s post is all about me.

More specifically, it’s about what YOU can do for ME.

I am asking/begging/pleading for you to vote for me in Wellsphere‘s 1st Annual People’s HealthBlogger Awards.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE,

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But remember, if you don’t vote for me….the terrorists win.
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Sweet Spiced Roast Pork Loin with Curried Parsnips

Pork Loin

I’m racking my brain trying to figure out what to make for Christmas dinner. You see, the typical Irish Christmas dinner is basically what is eaten over here on Thanksgiving and let’s face it, I’ve eaten my share of gobblygoo to last until the new year. So I decided to spice up “the other white meat” and give it a go with a touch of sweet.

Bet you didn’t know that pork is actually a great choice for a lean protein.

What’s more, pork tenderloin is now as lean as skinless chicken breast. That’s excellent news for those of us who eat chicken on a regular basis.

The “extra lean” pork tenderloin is joined by five other common cuts that meet label guidelines for “lean”. All of the cuts have less fat than a skinless chicken thigh: Top loin chop and roast, center loin chop, rib chop and sirloin chop.

A world of options has just opened up so remember, Loin Means Lean.

RECIPE: Serves 4-ish

1 x 2 1/2 lb. boneless pork loin
1 cup broth (chicken or veg)

MARINADE RECIPE:
Roast Pork Loin
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. agave
1 tbsp. fresh thyme – chopped
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. garam masala
1/4 tsp. chili flakes

DIRECTIONS:

To make spicy marinade, combine all above ingredients in a mixing bowl. Rub into pork loin and place loin in zip-loc bag. Marinate pork for between 4 – 24 hrs in the fridge.

Remove pork from fridge 1 hour before cooking so meat will return to room temperature. If you cook meat directly from the fridge, by the time the heat penetrates the center of the meat the outside will be over-cooked.
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Fire up your grill pan on high so it’s hot–smoking hot literally.

Add a drizzle of olive oil to coat the bottom of the grill pan. Sear the loin for 3-4 minutes on all sides. This will not only make those beautiful grill marks on the loin but more importantly it’s searing in all the juices and adding flavor to the loin.

Place on a roasting tray and add the broth if desired.

Roast pork for 30 mins approx or until internal temperature of 135F.
TIP: I like to add some broth (chicken or veg) to my roasting pan during cooking as this helps keep the meat moist. This is even more important with very lean meats like Chicken, Turkey and Pork where there is minimal fat content.
Let meat rest, loosely covered in foil for additional 10 mins. This enables the meat to relax and re-distribute the juices throughout the meat. In other words, the juices won’t run out all over your cutting board when carving.

Of course I couldn’t leave out all of my Irish-ness this holiday season. Parsnips are a pretty good bet any time of year back home and my guess is that a lot of you over here have never had them before. (Do they sell parsnips in Canada, I wonder?) If so, you’re in for a treat–they’re brilliant!

Curried ParsnipsCURRIED PARSNIP RECIPE:

3 parsnips – cut into wedges
1/2 tsp. agave
1/4 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

DIRECTIONS:

In medium mixing bowl, toss all ingredients together and lay on foiled roasting tray. When the Loin is about 20 minutes into cooking, pop these in the oven on middle shelf for 20 mins. approx or until golden.

I was thinking this Roast is a great idea for a small buffet or smack dab in the middle of the table, perhaps surrounded by the parsnips. I have it here as my dinner with some sauteed asparagus. The business!
Sweet & Spicy Pork Pork
For more healthy recipes and cooking tips visit thehealthyirishman.com

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Is Oprah a Big Fat Hypocrite?

oprah-cover-january-2009-how-did-i-let-this-happen-again

Forget about the war in Iraq, or that the world’s economy is imploding, or the fact that Heroes has totally sucked this year, the big news the last couple of days is:

Oprah went and got fat again.

Think about it.

This is a big deal.

If Oprah can’t keep the weight off, who can.

Oprah has:

  • Access to the best trainers in the world
  • Access to the best nutritional gurus in the world
  • Access to America’s doctor, Dr. Oz
  • A fully equipped home gym(s)
  • A personal chef
  • Access to the best selling spiritual gurus
  • Access to the most popular personal coaches
  • Access to the psychiatrists who have devoted their practices to weight loss
  • Access to the President-Elect, and
  • More money than God

With all of this equipment and money and advice and healthy eatin’ and healthy livin’, how could she gain 40 lbs. in one year?

Well, according to Ms. Winfrey herself:

emotional_eatingWhat I’ve learned this year is that my weight issue isn’t about eating less or working out harder, or even about a malfunctioning thyroid. It’s about my life being out of balance, with too much work and not enough play, not enough time to calm down. I let the well run dry.

Here’s another thing this past year has been trying to teach me: I don’t have a weight problem—I have a self-care problem that manifests through weight.

As my friend Marianne Williamson shared with me, “Your overweight self doesn’t stand before you craving food. She’s craving love.”

Falling off the wagon isn’t a weight issue; it’s a love issue.

It’s a love issue?

Oprah isn’t loved?

Have you ever seen those women in her audience?

They loooooooovvvvvvve Oprah.

And what about Stedman?

Okay, seriously – Oprah contines:

When I stop and ask myself, “What am I really hungry for?” the answer is always “I’m hungry for balance, I’m hungry to do something other than work.” If you look at your overscheduled routine and realize, like I did, that you’re just going and going and that your work and obligations have become a substitute for life, then you have no one else to blame.

Only you can take the reins back.

That’s what I’m doing. These days I’ve put myself back on my own priority list; I try to do at least one hour of exercise five or six days a week.

As I work out, eat healthfully, and reorder my life so there’s time to replenish my energy, I continue to do the spiritual and emotional work to conquer this battle once and for all.

My goal isn’t to be thin. My goal is for my body to be the weight it can hold—to be strong and healthy and fit, to be itself. My goal is to learn to embrace this body and to be grateful every day for what it has given me.

To be strong and healthy and fit.

Sounds good to me.

But how is she going to do it?

Once again, here’s Oprah:

In July I was able to take a break. I went to sleep and woke up whenever I pleased. I sipped soy milk, downed vitamins, snacked on flaxseed, and allowed my body to restore itself. Some days I exercised by walking with my dogs in the hills of Maui; gradually I started working out on the treadmill, at first with a heart monitor to make sure there were no palpitations (it was a black box smaller than a BlackBerry, which I wore on my belt). By the end of the summer, I felt I could do a full hour of cardio without dropping dead.

Next I tackled the food addiction, which is ongoing. As far as my daily food choices go, I’m not on any particular program. I’ve gone back to the commonsense basics we all know: eating less sugar and fewer refined carbs and more fresh, whole foods like fish, spinach, and fruit. But in order not to abuse food, I have to stay fully conscious and aware, of every bite, of taking time and chewing slowly. I have to focus on being fully alive, awake, present, and engaged, connected in every area of my life. Right now.

Let’s recap:

  • Slow things down – Life isn’t a sprint
  • Sleep
  • Walking in nature with someone (her dogs) she loves
  • Gradually increasing exercise demand
  • Not following a “DIET”
  • Eating the foods, we know are healthy
  • Be aware – stop and observe your life

So What Do You Think?

  • Is Oprah fooling herself?
  • Is this just a big load of new agey, sell another self-help book B.S.?
  • Or is Oprah on to something?
  • Is Oprah going to drive her considerable audience away from diets and being perfect and having perfect kids and a perfect job and towards a life focused on health & happiness?

What Do I Think?

I think that we are at a very unique period in history.

  • We are entering / have entered a worldwide recession
  • A lot of people / cultures around the world really hate each other and are willing to fly planes into buildings full of other people
  • A good portion of the world’s population is starving and unhealthy
  • A larger portion of the world’s population is fat and unhealthy
  • Apparently, we are running out of oil – the lifeblood of our society
  • Apparently, the environment is screwed unless I start walking to work and slap some solar panels on my roof
  • And according to the nightly news, 95% of the newsworthy events really, really suck.

However, because of all of these things, we have the opportunity to make massive changes.

And while Oprah (and me) probably won’t have a huge impact on turning around the economy or world peace or global warming, we can have an effect on people’s health.

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The End of MAN?

ken-doll-naked

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Bad News for all the XYs out there:

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Slowly, but surely, we are becoming EXTINCT

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According to a new study, published by the charity CHEMTrust, “evolution is being distorted by pollution, which damages genitals and the ability to father offspring”.

POLLUTION DAMAGES GENITALS

Great….

All of us “dudes” are turning into real life Ken dolls.

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The research – found in this report – shows that a host of common chemicals is feminising males of every class of vertebrate animals, from fish to mammals, including people.

Backed by some of the world’s leading scientists, who say that it “waves a red flag” for humanity and shows that evolution itself is being disrupted, the report comes out at a particularly sensitive time for ministers. As a result, Britain will lead opposition to proposed new European controls on pesticides, many of which have been found to have “gender-bending” effects.

It also follows hard on the heels of new American research which shows that baby boys born to women exposed to widespread chemicals in pregnancy are born with smaller penises and feminised genitals.

“This research shows that the basic male tool kit is under threat,” says Gwynne Lyons, a former government adviser on the health effects of chemicals, and lead author of the report.

Did you catch that???

“the basic male tool kit is under threat”.

Wildlife and people have been exposed to more than 100,000 new chemicals in recent years, and the European Commission has admitted that 99 per cent of them are not adequately regulated. There is not even proper safety information on 85 per cent of them.

Many have been identified as “endocrine disrupters” – or gender-benders – because they interfere with hormones.

These include phthalates, used in food wrapping, cosmetics and baby powders among other applications; flame retardants in furniture and electrical goods; PCBs, a now banned group of substances still widespread in food and the environment; and many pesticides.

The report, which focuses mainly on animal populations, provides some startling facts:

  • Males of species from each of the main classes of vertebrate animals (including bony fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals) have been affected by chemicals in the environment…Us included
  • Half the male fish in British lowland rivers have been found to be developing eggs in their testes
  • Research at the University of Florida earlier this year found that 40 per cent of the male cane toads – a species so indestructible that it has become a plague in Australia – had become hermaphrodites in a heavily farmed part of the state
  • Male alligators exposed to pesticides in Florida have suffered from lower testosterone and higher estrogen levels, abnormal testes, smaller penises and reproductive failures
  • Wildlife around the Great Lakes has been found to be contaminated with more than 400 different chemicals
  • bald-eagleBald eagles have had difficulty reproducing in areas highly contaminated with chemicals…Bald Eagles, damnit people, seriously…The Bald Eagle can’t get it up!  The symbol of America! The shame
  • Deer in Alaska and Montana have been found to have undescended testes, genital abnormalities and deformed antler growth
  • And if things weren’t bad enough, researcher have been finding  hermaphroditic polar bears

And when it comes to humans:

  • Research at the University of Rochester in New York state shows that boys born to mothers with raised levels of phthalates were more likely to have smaller penises and undescended testicles
  • They also had a shorter distance between their anus and genitalia, a classic sign of feminisation.
  • And another study showed that boys whose mothers had been exposed to PCBs grew up wanting to play with dolls and tea sets rather than with traditionally male toys.
  • Communities in Canada, Russia and Italy have given birth to twice as many girls than boys. This may offer a clue to the reason for a mysterious shift in sex ratios worldwide. Normally 106 boys are born for every 100 girls, but the ratio is slipping.
  • It is calculated that 250,000 babies who would have been boys have been born as girls instead in the US and Japan alone.
  • And sperm counts are dropping precipitously. Studies in more than 20 countries have shown that they have dropped from 150 million per millilitre of sperm fluid to 60 million over 50 years.
  • Hamsters produce nearly three times as much, at 160 million. Think about that. The typical male hamster is 3x as potent as you are…beyotch!

So, what do we do about this?

How about we stop exposing ourselves to chemicals which cause penile shrinkage and hermaphrodism?

Duh!

And how do we do that?

We yell at our politicians.

In Europe, there is an EU regulation on industrial chemicals, called REACH. This program was designed to ensure that chemicals with endocrine disrupting properties are phased out.

Predictably, this legislation is pretty toothless.

Industrial and agricultural lobbyists have a lot of money to throw around.

In the U.S., as of August 28, 2008, according to the EPA:

The EPA has made a great deal of progress in implementing the three major parts of the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP):

  • Developing a battery of validated assays to screen chemicals for their potential to interact with the endocrine system,
  • Identifying the initial group of chemicals for testing, and
  • Describing procedures for issuing test orders.

EPA is working to resolve all outstanding issues so that the screening program can move ahead as quickly as possible. However, the Agency has concluded, and informed Congress, that additional time is needed to complete the necessary steps before it can begin issuing orders. EPA expects to begin issuing test orders for Tier 1 screening of the initial list of chemicals under the EDSP in early 2009.

Let’s review: By 2009, the EPA to issue orders to BEGIN testing the INITIAL list of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals.

Fellas, you can kiss your bal*s goodbye.

And what about my homeland, Canada?

According to Environment Canada:

Leader in Addressing the Endocrine Disruptor Issue

Endocrine disrupting substances (EDS) are a complex problem that requires a co-ordinated response from government agencies, universities, industry and the public. Environment Canada has made EDS a research priority to produce the knowledge necessary for informed policy and regulatory decisions.

In partnership with Health Canada, Environment Canada manages the Toxic Substances Research Initiative, which includes support for research on EDS. In addition, Environment Canada has included research on EDS in each of the major Regional Ecosystem Initiatives, and has established a national multidisciplinary research program in collaboration with other government agencies, universities and industry.

To address this emerging global issue, Environment Canada is working with international organizations such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and others.

Research on this question will produce sound scientific assessments of the potential impacts of EDS on the Canadian environment. Such assessments are essential for the development and implementation of effective regulations and controls.

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah……

Conclusion

It’s possible that I am blowing this all out of proportion.

Maybe, groups like CHEMTrust are stirring up trouble only to justify their own existence.

Maybe we’re not turning into girly-men

But then again.

The Duke v.s. Zac Ephron
The Evolution of Man: The Duke v.s. Zac Ephron

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In Defense of Lard

After decades on the nutritional blacklist, lard may be ready to make a comeback.

That’s right…lard.

  • The same product that the AHA, AMA and USDA blackballed for fear of an epidemic of elevated cholesterol and heart disease.
  • The same product that we replaced with hydrogenated vegetable fats.
  • The same product that has become synonymous with obesity.

lard

So, how come lard is on the comeback trail?

2 Reasons

  1. Because chefs are re-discovering the culinary benefits of cooking / baking with lard
  2. Because the scientific case against lard is beginning to fall apart…just like a nice flaky pie crust made with 100% leaf lard.
Pie Crust by Angelique B
Pie Crust by Angelique B

Lard Tastes Better

Way back in the day, lard was the fat of choice in North American households.

It was cheap, plentiful, great for frying and without peer when it came to shortening a tender pastry crust.

However, shortly after WW2, American research into nutrition came to the conclusion that saturated fats were the cause of increased cholesterol and heart disease. And since lard and other animal fats are higher in saturated fats than vegetable oils, they became the ugly nutritional stepchild and fell out of favor.

And in it’s place, stepped Crisco and various other hydrogenated vegetable oil products.

crisco-ad-1

And we all know how well those hydrogenated oils worked out.

Hydrogenation, the process of adding hydrogen atoms to unsaturated oil, makes vegetable shortening shelf stable and solid at room temperature, but it also turns good fats into that evil man made creation…trans fats.

Although hydrogenated vege­table shortening doesn’t look like a saturated fat under a microscope, it acts like one, raising bad LDL cholesterol levels in the blood.

Even worse, it can also lower your levels of HDL cholesterol.

Not good.

With this new tidbit of knowledge, food manufacturers around the globe have been desperately searching for a replacement for their hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Most of the large food producers have reverted back to industrial grade palm oils. Many smaller producers and most professional chefs went another route.

Artisnal Butter
Artisnal Butter

They went back to animal fats.

Initially, they went back to butter. But not just any butter. Fancy schmancy, organic artisnal butters. Butter like your great grandma used to churn by hand.

And after the use of butter became mainstream, a few brave souls began to experiment with lard.

But of course, they didn’t tell their customers. Most chefs simply neglected to mention that their dishes contained lard.

Some, like celebrity chef, Mario Batali, opted to simply avoid lard’s bad public image by re-branding it with an Italian sobriquet: Prosciutto Bianco

lardo-lard-prosciutto-bianco
Prosciutto Bianco

It should also be noted that, like the artisnal butters used in the best kitchens, the chefs and bakers using lard in their recipes do NOT use the bricks of highly processed lard that you might find in your grocery store.

lard-hydrogenated

They are either producing their own lard or are buying their supplies from small producers or organic butchers eager to service this niche market.

lard-organic

Okay, enough with the gastronomical history lesson, what about the science?

THE SCIENCE

As I mentioned previously, way back in the day, the medical powers that be told us to stop cooking with saturated fats and replace them with vegetable fats high in polyunsaturates.

With this stamp of approval, clever advertisers created ad campaigns designed to decrease the consumption of lard & butter and increase the consumption of their clients’ products

anti-lard-ad
Anti-Lard Advertisement

Lard Habit???…The next thing you know, Maury Povich is going to be doing a 2 week special on unwed mothers addicted to lard.

shortening-ad

 

Obviously the advertising campaigns were successful.

But what about the science?

  • Are animal fats the killer ingredient that Ancel Keys et al said they were?
  • What about olive oil and the Mediterranean Diet?
  • What about canola oil and coconut oil and…?

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Dr. Dean Ornish: The world now eats (and dies) like Americans

obesity-china

While I am not a believer in Dr. Ornish’s “Fat is Bad” approach to nutrition, I thought he gave a thoroughly entertaining lecture on the globalization of America’s obesity epidemic.

Dr. Ornish delivered his lecture at the TED conference in April of 2007

The Lecture

During his talk, Dr. Ornish hits the following points:

  • He considers the worldwide spread of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension to a pandemic of global proportion
  • He believes that these conditions to be completely preventable for at least 95% of people, just by changing diet and lifestyle

africa-western-diet-mcdonalds-cokeTo illustrate the growth of this pandemic, Dr. Ornish relates the following data:

  • In one generation, Asia has gone from having one of the lowest rates of chronic disease to having one of the highest
  • Cardiovascular deaths equal HIV/AIDS deaths in most African countries

And why is this happening?

Along with Western (primarily America) culture, the spread of the Western Diet is making it the de facto World Diet. Or as Dr. Ornish says:

  • People are starting to eat like us, live like us, and die like us

And, believe it or not, fast food giants like Burger King are proud of this fact.

Check out this new new advertising campaign:

The Whopper Virgins

So, where do we go from here?

According to Dr. Ornish, that’s up to us.

Just like we have helped to globalize the Western Diet, we can also help to globalize Health Habits.

Dr. Ornish credits some of America’s large food producers for trying to “make it sexy, hip, cool, sexy, and fun to eat and live more healthfully”

Disclaimer: Dr. Ornish chairs the advisory boards to McDonald’s, PepsiCo, Conagra, Safeway, and Del Monte.

To back up his claims that the big guys are trying to “healthify” their menus, he notes that:

  • Last year, McDonald’s sold 800 million salads
  • 67% of revenue growth at PepsCo last year was from healthier foods”)

Conclusions

Dr. Ornish believes that “if we use diet and lifestyle changes to prevent and treat chronic diseases, we can reverse the spread of chronic “lifestyle” diseases as well as free up precious resources for treating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and TB and preventing avian flu”

And what happens if we don’t listen to Doc Ornish?

What happens if we continue to graze on junk food while watching endless hours of t.v. and internet porn?

The De-Evolution of Man

de-evolution of man

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The World Eats (and Dies) like America

obesity-china

While I am not a believer in Dr. Dean Ornish’s “Fat is Bad” approach to nutrition, I thought he gave a thoroughly entertaining lecture on the globalization of America’s obesity epidemic at the TED conference in April of 2007.

The Lecture

During his talk, Dr. Ornish hits the following points:

  • He considers the worldwide spread of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension to a pandemic of global proportion
  • He believes that these conditions to be completely preventable for at least 95% of people, just by changing diet and lifestyle

africa-western-diet-mcdonalds-cokeTo illustrate the growth of this pandemic, Dr. Ornish relates the following data:

  • In one generation, Asia has gone from having one of the lowest rates of chronic disease to having one of the highest
  • Cardiovascular deaths equal HIV/AIDS deaths in most African countries

And why is this happening?

Along with Western (primarily America) culture, the spread of the Western Diet is making it the de facto World Diet. Or as Dr. Ornish says:

  • People are starting to eat like us, live like us, and die like us

So, where do we go from here?

According to Dr. Ornish, that’s up to us. Just like we have helped to globalize the Western Diet, we can also help to globalize a healthier way to eat and live.

Dr. Ornish credits some of America’s large food producers for trying to “make it sexy, hip, cool, sexy, and fun to eat and live more healthfully”

Disclaimer: Dr. Ornish chairs the advisory boards to McDonald’s, PepsiCo, Conagra, Safeway, and Del Monte.

To back up his claims that the big guys are trying to “healthify” their menus, he notes that:

  • Last year, McDonald’s sold 800 million salads
  • 67% of revenue growth at PepsCo last year was from healthier foods”)

Conclusions

Dr. Ornish believes that “if we use diet and lifestyle changes to prevent and treat chronic diseases, we can reverse the spread of chronic “lifestyle” diseases as well as free up precious resources for treating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and TB and preventing avian flu”

And what happens if we don’t listen to Doc Ornish? What happens if we continue to graze on junk food while watching endless hours of t.v. and internet porn?

de-evolution of man

Like this article???

If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

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Lentil Loaf with Spicy Citrus Squash

Lentil Loaf
Lentil Loaf with Steamed Broccolini & Spicy Citrus Squash

Being that the Missus is a fishetarian (which is what she likes to call herself) we experiment with quite a lot of vegetarian recipes often using meat-substitutes or seafood as our proteins. Lucky for her I’m not afraid to try it all and more often than not, I’m pleasantly surprised with the outcome. I suppose it’s not abnormal for vegetarians to crave the idea of ‘meat balls’, ‘burgers’, ‘meat loaves’…so this is a recipe we use to fulfill her craving for the latter. The beauty about this recipe is not only the taste but it’s also full of nutrition. As found on lentilfest.com, lentils are an important source of iron. Eating lentils with foods rich in Vitamin C, such as tomatoes, green peppers, broccoli, and citrus fruits or juices, helps the body absorb iron more efficiently. They are also protein rich. They lack only one essential amino acid, methionine. Adding grains, eggs, nuts, seeds, meat, dairy products, or egg will provide a complete amino acid profile.

RECIPE:

2 cups cooked lentils
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup red peppers – small dice
1/2 cup red onion – small dice
1/2 cup fresh tomato – small dice
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
4 tbsp. tomato paste
3 tbsp. fresh parsley – chopped
2 tsp. fresh basil
1 tsp. fresh oregano
1/4 tsp. hot sauce
2 tsp. water
1 egg

(layer of ketchup for the top)

DIRECTIONS:

This recipe couldn’t be easier!
Preheat oven at 350 degrees.
Combine the above ingredients in succession (except for ketchup) into a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.
Line a 10′ loaf pan with parchment paper and fill with mixed ingredients. Smooth a layer of ketchup over the top and then pop into the oven. Bake for 45 minutes.

Lentil Loaf

Once cooked, flip the loaf onto a cutting board and let stand for 5 mins.

TIP: Set the cutting board on top of the loaf then flip everything over.

Serving suggestion:

I served this with steamed brocollini and Spicy Citrus Squash.

Depending on how many people you’re serving, this makes brilliant leftovers as well.

If you try this out let me know how you got on. And remember don’t hesitate to give me a shout if you have any suggestions or food related questions.

For more healthy recipes and cooking tips be sure to head over to the healthyirishman.com.

Beans, beans, the musical fruit

Whatever you want to call them, Beans, Legumes or Pulses are nutritional superstars.

  • They are a rich source of folic acid
  • They have low glycemic index / glycemic load ratings
  • They are loaded with dietary fibre
  • They are a good vegetarian source of iron
  • Their Lysine content allows vegetarians to prepare meals with all of the essential amino acids
  • They are an effective tool against insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
  • The insoluble high fibre content make them a recognized tool against cancers of the digestive tract.
  • Their soluble fibre has also be recognized for it’s ability to lower LDL cholesterol.
  • They promote a feeling of fullness. This may lead to a reduction in calories and weight loss.

But they’re not perfect…

  • They give you GAS

Beans, as well as such gassy goods as cabbage, soybeans, peas and onions, are naturally sweetened with a family of sugars called oligosaccharides.

These sugars are big, clumsy molecules — too big to slip into your body through the lining of the small intestine.Normally enzymes in the small intestine would rush in and snap these molecules apart like Legos.

But due to a gross oversight, an anti-oligosaccharide enzyme is not standard equipment in a human being.So these complex sugars pass unmolested through the small intestine and enter the large intestine still bearing valuable nutrients.

Unabashed at digging into leftovers, the less reputable bacteria among the 200 strains in your large-intestine start to chow down. Their population grows as they divide into new generations to take advantage of the bounty.

And as they gulp in the big sugars, they let out gas.In essence, your gut accumulates millions of wee bacterial farts.

Nice.

beano1But there is hope out there for those of you who want to reap the benefit of beans without turning yourselves into big, swollen bags of smelly gas.

That help comes in the form of the bean digesting enzyme – alpha-galactosidase.

Otherwise known as…Beano.

Sprinkle a few drops of enzyme on your beans and enjoy.

The enzyme will snap apart those big sugars into handy little sugars, like sucrose, glucose and fructose, your body can use.

The bacteria in your large intestine will go hungry, and your gas will be a thing of the past.

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Beans & the Culinary Arts

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Beans have been a staple in the cooking of cultures all around the world.

Today, a quick search on Amazon turned up 8,816 different books just waiting to show you how to cook with beans.

I would like to recommend some of these to you, but that is a little outside of my area of expertise.

So, I will leave it up to the pros.

In tomorrow’s post, The Healthy Irishman will be serving us a helping of his:

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lentil-loafLentil Loaf with Spicy Citrus Squash

This is a great recipe to try out on those family members who aren’t very “pro-bean”.

Personally, I am going to try out this recipe over the weekend.

And if my other experiments with Gavan’s recipes are indication, I am fast becoming a cook that doesn’t suck.

Another ringing endorsement!

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If you want further nutritional info on beans, go here.

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Santa Claus is Clinically Depressed

santa_claus_is_coming_to_town

Poor ole Santa.

For all these years, we thought that he was jolly and full of Christmas (sorry, Seasonal Holiday) Cheer.

Little did we know, he has a dark secret.

Santa suffers from obesity, type 2 diabetes, clinical depression and may even have a drinking problem.

drunk-santa

But how could we have known?

It really isn’t too surprising.

In a recent study, scientists in the Netherlands have proven that a link exists between abdominal obesity and depression.

And Santa does have a bit of a belly.

How about you?

The Research

In this 5 year study, Dutch researchers found that “older adults with symptoms of depression appear more likely to gain abdominal fat”. Interestingly, in this study, the link applies only to abdominal fat, not overall body fat.

This study builds upon previous studies ( here, here, and here ) that suggested a link between general obesity and depression.

santa-cokeSo, let me get this straight…not all fat people are jolly?

Well, that certainly messes with Coca-Cola’s Christmas marketing plan, doesn’t it.

What are we supposed to do with a depressed Santa Claus?

Get him a prescription for antidepressants?

Buy him some personal training sessions?

Lap Band surgery?

Study Conclusions

According to the experts, “There are several mechanisms by which depression might increase abdominal fat. Chronic stress and depression may activate certain brain areas and lead to increased levels of the hormone cortisol, which promotes the accumulation of visceral fat”.

“Individuals with depression may have unhealthier lifestyles, including a poor diet, that could interact with other physiological factors to produce an increase in abdominal obesity”.

My Conclusions

Depression may indeed be a cause of abdominal obesity.

Depression may lead to increased cortisol which may lead to increased abdominal obesity.

However,

  • A typical 21st century lifestyle is loaded with stress
  • Stress is linked to anxiety and depression
  • The typical Western diet is a primary cause of systemic inflammation
  • Inflammation is linked to abdominal obesity
  • Depression often results in physical inactivity and unhealthy lifestyle choices

Perhaps, it isn’t the depression causing the obesity.

Perhaps it isn’t the obesity causing the depression.

Perhaps it is the combination of a stressful lifestyle, combined with a whole host of poor lifestyle choices that is causing the obesity and the depression.

But then again, what do I know?

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Why Do We Get OLD?

Harvard researchers may have just found the “root cause of aging”: A group of proteins called sirtuins.

For a decade or so, scientists have known that these sirtuins are somehow involved in the aging process. But their interest in these sirtuins only took off when they discovered that…

…would stimulate the sirtuins into having a positive effect on aging.

So What Exactly Do Sirtuins Do?

sleeping-guardSirtuins are like a genetic watch dog.

They keep an eye on select genes to see which are turned on and which are turned off. Kind of like a security guard keeping an eye of the security video monitors.

Here’s why:

  • While all genes are present in all cells, only a select few need to be active at any given time.
  • If the wrong genes are switched on, this can harm the cell.
  • For example, in a kidney cell, there are liver genes present, but they are switched off. If these liver genes were to become active, that could damage the kidney.

The sirtuins guard the genes that are supposed to be off and ensure that they stay that way.

To do this, they help preserve the molecular packaging—called chromatin—that shrink-wraps these genes tight and keeps them idle.

But that’s not all. Sirtuins have another important job.

When your DNA gets damaged by UV light or free radicals, sirtuins stop their security guard duties and rush to the site of the damaged DNA and join in on the repair.

All of this leads us to…

The Latest Research

In this stnew udy, the researchers found that when the sirtuins left their guard posts and rushed towards the damaged DNA, the chromatin wrapping (or shrink-wrap) covering the sleeping genes could start to unravel, and the genes that were meant to be inactive (or regulated) could in fact become active (or un-regulated).

Apparently, this isn’t a good thing to have happen.

spider-web-prey-sirtuins-genes
A Sirtuin re-wraps a Gene and puts it back to sleep

Luckily for us, the sirtuins are usually able to return to their post in time to get the awakened genes back under wraps before they cause any permanent damage.

However, in this latest study, the researchers found that as their little lab mice age, their rates of DNA damage increases.

This means that the sirtuins are being pulled away from their guard duties more and more often.

As a result, more and more sleeping genes wake up, break out of their shrink-wrap and break free before the sirtuins can return and put them back to sleep.

Once again, not a good to have happen. And it gets even worse,

  • Scientists found that many of these haplessly activated genes are directly linked with aging, and that
  • They also found that older mice had higher numbers of these unregulated genes.

But don’t despair, my news eventually gets better:

The Good News

Discovery of the mechanism behind all of this bad news has led to a hypothesis on how to reverse this action and potentially reverse signs of aging.

Scientists began wondering what would happen if they put more of the sirtuin back into their aging test mice.

They believed that with more sirtuins on the job, DNA repair would be more efficient, and the aging mouse would maintain a youthful pattern of gene expression into old age.

And that’s precisely what happened.

Using a mouse genetically altered to model lymphoma, researcher Philipp Oberdoerffer administered extra copies of the sirtuin gene, or fed them the sirtuin activator resveratrol, which in turn extended their lifespan by 24 to 46 percent.

Conclusions

Because of this research, we now know that while DNA damage increases the rate of aging, it isn’t the actual cause of aging.

Un-regulated genes are the cause of aging.

And, because of this research, we also know that if we can help the sirtuins keep regulated genes from becoming un-regulated, the elements of aging can be reversed.

Big news people, big news. At least for the little lab mice. Tests on humans have yet to be scheduled.

So, for now, you can either wait for the science to come to a proper conclusion, or you can load up on some resveratrol.

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References

EurekAlert

Autumn Tagine with Spiced Couscous

Autumn Tagine with Grilled Chicken
Autumn Tagine with Grilled Chicken

Sick of turkey yet? Need a little breather from the winged one? Then you must try this recipe out. Not to worry, it’s still in line with the season since it’s full of autumn veg and cinnamon accents, which are just brilliant at this time of year. And it’s a great dish to warm your bones, esp. for all of you experiencing signs of winter. Wonder when that will kick in here in Los Angeles….

What exactly is this dish you ask? A tagine is a North African dish (typically Moroccan) of spiced meats and vegetables prepared by slow cooking ingredients together usually in a tagine (clay pot). Of course a saute pan works as well. By using this method of slow cooking the flavors will marry together and you’ll end up with a fantastic flavorful dish.

RECIPE: Serves 8
2 cups butternut squash – peeled, seeded & diced into 1″ cubes
3 cups Japanese eggplant, sliced diagonally into 1″pieces
2 cups red onion – diced into 1″ pieces
3 garlic cloves – minced
2 tbsp. fresh ginger – grated
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups fresh cauliflower florets
2 tbsp. olive oil
S&P to taste

3 cups vegetable broth
1 stick cinnamon or 1-2 tsp.
2 tbsp. agave / honey
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. lemon zest
2 tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro

1 tbsp. chopped mint for garnish

TAGINE DIRECTIONS:
Combine the squash, eggplant, onion, cauliflower, peas, garlic, ginger, cumin, chili powder, S&P and olive oil in a large mixing bowl and toss together. Mix well.
Pre-heat a large saute pan. In 3 batches, saute the veg mix until lightly browned, approx 3-4 mins. per batch. Remove each sauteed batch to another mixing bowl and repeat browning process until completed. When all the veg have been browned return the entire batch back to saute pan. Add broth, cinnamon (stick or powdered), agave, lemon juice and zest and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 mins. stirring occasionally. Taste and season with S&P. Just before serving remove cinnamon stick and stir in cilantro.

COUSCOUS RECIPE:
1 cup dry couscous
2 1/2 vegetable broth / water
1/2 tsp. saffron treads
1 stick cinnamon or 1-2 tsp.
1/2 tsp. salt

COUSCOUS DIRECTIONS:
Follow the method on the box for cooking instructions. Add the cinnamon, salt and saffron as the liquid is heating. You would typically add the saffron in along with the broth at this stage, which allows the flavor and color to emit into the liquid. The Missus was in charge of making the couscous and didn’t realize this and added in the saffron along with the dry couscous. By doing it this way, you won’t get the color or the full flavor of the saffron so she learned the hard way! That of course, is the beauty about cooking–trial and error is the only way to learn.

Autumn Tagine with Tofu
Autumn Tagine with Tofu

Once the dry couscous has been added it’s very important not to play around stirring it until you’re ready to use otherwise you’ll have lovely big lumps of couscous in your dinner. Fluff very gently with a fork when ready to serve.

PROTEIN OPTIONS: Here’s where you can make it your own and vary it the next time you make it.

Vegetarian: Add diced tofu
Non-vegetarian: Add chicken or shrimp or even sliced turkey if you’ve still got a hankering for it.

If you guys have any suggestions for recipes or even want to request I use a particular ingredient in a recipe give me a shout. For more healthy recipes and cooking tips be sure to head over to the healthyirishman.com.

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Obesity, Diabetes, Insulin Resistance and Vitamin K

vitamin-k

Ain’t science great?!!!

Researchers at Tufts University were investigating the effect that Vitamin K supplements have on the bone mineral density and vascular calcification of a group of 355 non-diabetic men and women aged 60 to 80.

However, during the course of their 3 year study, they found that the participants who received the Vitamin K supplement had a noticeable improvement in their insulin resistance.

And as you already know, insulin resistance  is one of the major factors driving America’s obesity epidemic.

And if you didn’t know: read this, this and this.

STUDY DETAILS

Among the participants given vitamin K, both men and women took daily multivitamins containing 500 micrograms of vitamin K, five times the Adequate Intake (AI) recommended by the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board, with instructions to maintain normal diets without any additional supplementation.

They also received a calcium and vitamin D supplement.

Men and women in the control group received no vitamin K supplementation but did receive the multivitamin and the calcium and vitamin D supplement.

For the present study, insulin resistance was assessed by the homeostasis model (HOMA-IR).

Additionally, participants’ blood glucose and blood insulin levels were measured following a minimum 10-hour fast.

In addition to improved insulin resistance, the supplemented men had lower blood insulin levels compared to the un-supplemented men at the conclusion of the study.

CONCLUSIONS

The researchers concluded that Vitamin K supplementation for 36 months may reduce progression of insulin resistance in older men.

And why would Vitamin K have an effect on insulin resistance?

The researchers theorized that vitamin K may improve insulin sensitivity through suppression of inflammation.

Aaahhh, our old friend inflammation.

Isn’t it funny how our Western diet, inflammation, obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes keeping showing up in the same places

So, Where Do I Get The Vitamin K?

new-chapter-multiDuring the study, the participants took daily multivitamins containing 500 micrograms of vitamin K, five times the Adequate Intake (AI) recommended by the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board, with instructions to maintain normal diets without any additional supplementation.

Checking my multi, I see that I am taking 80 mcg of vitamin K.

So, where can I get more Vitamin K?

According to the USDA:

vitamin-k-foods

And if you want more info on Vitamin K:

Check out the Linus Pauling Institute page on Vitamin K

or watch this video:

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Diabetes care

vitamin-k-health-healthhabits-nutrition-diet

What You Don't Know About Vitamin K Might Be Making You Sick & Fat

Ain’t science great?!!!

Researchers at Tufts University were investigating the effect that Vitamin K supplements have on the bone mineral density and vascular calcification of a group of 355 non-diabetic men and women aged 60 to 80.

However, during the course of their 3 year study, they found that the participants who received the Vitamin K supplement had a noticeable improvement in their insulin resistance.

And as you already know, insulin resistance  is one of the major factors driving America’s obesity epidemic.

And if you didn’t know: read this, this and this.

STUDY DETAILS

Among the participants given vitamin K, both men and women took daily multivitamins containing 500 micrograms of vitamin K, five times the Adequate Intake (AI) recommended by the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board, with instructions to maintain normal diets without any additional supplementation.

They also received a calcium and vitamin D supplement.

Men and women in the control group received no vitamin K supplementation but did receive the multivitamin and the calcium and vitamin D supplement.

For the present study, insulin resistance was assessed by the homeostasis model (HOMA-IR).

Additionally, participants’ blood glucose and blood insulin levels were measured following a minimum 10-hour fast.

In addition to improved insulin resistance, the supplemented men had lower blood insulin levels compared to the un-supplemented men at the conclusion of the study.

CONCLUSIONS

The researchers concluded that Vitamin K supplementation for 36 months may reduce progression of insulin resistance in older men.

And why would Vitamin K have an effect on insulin resistance?

The researchers theorized that vitamin K may improve insulin sensitivity through suppression of inflammation.

Aaahhh, our old friend inflammation.

Isn’t it funny how our Western diet, inflammation, obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes keeping showing up in the same places

So, Where Do I Get The Vitamin K?

new-chapter-multiDuring the study, the participants took daily multivitamins containing 500 micrograms of vitamin K, five times the Adequate Intake (AI) recommended by the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board, with instructions to maintain normal diets without any additional supplementation.

Checking my multi, I see that I am taking 80 mcg of vitamin K.

So, where can I get more Vitamin K?

According to the USDA:

vitamin-k-foods

And if you want more info on Vitamin K:

Check out the Linus Pauling Institute page on Vitamin K

or watch this video:

References

Want To Be Happier?…Part Two

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about a recent study (by researcher Dr. Steven Toepfer) which showed that the SECRET to HAPPINESS is GRATITUDE.

All that research got me thinking…Which scenario is better for your health / longevity?

  1. To be overweight, but happy, or
  2. To be lean but unhappy

After an informal poll, I discovered that an overwhelming number of people think that happiness is more important than a healthy bodyweight when it comes to your overall health and longevity. And I would have to agree with the majority.

In response to my findings, I thought that I should present a little more information about the psychology of happiness.

Here are some of my favorite speakers on the psycology of happiness:

Tal Ben Shahar – Positive Psychology

Shawn Achor – Positive Psychology

Robert Holden – The Happiness Project

happiness-now

Martin Seligman – The Father of Positive Psychology

Link to Dr. Seligman's talk at TED

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Want To Be Happier?

HAPPINESS

We all want it and most of us have no idea how to get it. Until now???

According to researcher Dr. Steven Toepfer, THE SECRET TO HAPPINESS IS GRATITUDE.

I can hear you asking…Gratidtude for what? The economy is going down the tubes, we are running out of oil, I am working harder and longer than ever before and I still may lose my job, and on top of that, there’s the threats of terrorism and global warming.

According to Kent State University’s Dr. Steven Toepfer, we have been going about it all wrong.

“Everyone is pursuing the American dream. We are wealthier than previous generations, consuming more and experiencing more, but yet so many of us are so unhappy,” Toepfer says.

“The question of ‘is there something simple we can do to be happier?‘ is one that he has been thinking about for many years and one that has interested people for much longer.”

With that question in mind, Toepfer enlisted a group of students to explore the effects of writing letters of gratitude to people who had positively impacted the students’ lives.

Over the course of a six-week period, students wrote one letter every two weeks with the simple ground rules that it had to be positively expressive, required some insight and reflection, were nontrivial and contained a high level of appreciation or gratitude.

After each letter, students completed a survey to gauge their moods, satisfaction with life and feelings of gratitude and happiness.

“I saw their happiness increase after each letter. The more they wrote, the better they felt,” says Toepfer, who also witnessed improvement in participants’ life satisfaction and gratitude throughout the study.

“The most powerful thing in our lives is our social network.

It doesn’t have to be large, and you don’t always need to be the life of the party, but just having one or two significant connections in your life has shown to have terrific psychological and physical benefits.”

In all, 75 percent of the students said they planned to continue to write letters of gratitude even when the course was over.

“We are all walking around with an amazing resource: gratitude,” says Toepfer. “It helps us express and enjoy, appreciate, be thankful and satisfied with a little effort.

We all have it, and we need to use it to improve our quality of life.”

An Extra Bonus

And if that wasn’t enough, there is a growing body of research showing that positive emotions such as happiness are linked to good health and increased longevity.

This 2006 study showed that a PES (Positive Emotional Style – or happiness for the non-science geeks reading this) was associated with an increased resistance to the common cold and the influenza virus.

Conclusion

I must admit that when it comes to making health claims, I need proof. But when it comes to happiness, or examining the impact of happiness on my health / longevity, proof is a little hard to come by.

It is difficult to distinguish between the effects of positive and negative emotions. For example, do elderly living on their own or with family live longer because they are happy or because they are not sad?

It’s not a simple equation. However, modern medicine has no problem stating that emotional stress is a very real threat to our health.

So, why shouldn’t happiness be a very real benefit to our health?

Want to Be Happier – Part 2

References

Cornish Game Hen with Orange Balsamic Glaze

Glazed Cornish Game Hen

The holidays are just about here and for most of you that means one thing, turkey. By the time Christmas gets here most of you will have had turkey soup, turkey sandwiches, turkey stew, need I go on? I thought it might be nice to give you an alternative as well as making the flavor a little different. I served this with baked yam wedges and steamed broccoli for a nutritious simple meal.

RECIPE: Serves 6-8
4 Cornish game hens
1 orange (4 quarters)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
S&P

Glaze recipe:
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp.ground ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp. agave (natural sweetener)

Yam recipe:
2-3 yams
drizzle of olive oil
1/2 tsp. paprika
squeeze of lemon juice
S&P

Broccoli (add a squeeze of lemon juice when cooked)
DIRECTIONS:Glazed Cornish Game Hen
Begin by putting all the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and on medium low heat, reduce it to about half, about 20 minutes. Be careful not to have the heat too high as the sauce will evaporate too quickly and you won’t get the intense flavor desired. Once the glaze is ready, put it in a bowl and refrigerate until needed. I always try to have the glaze done ahead of time so that when it’s cooling the flavors with marry together better. The glaze should be completely chilled before basting the chicken.

Next pre-heat oven to 380 degrees.
Rinse and pat dry the chicken. Season with S&P inside and out and stuff bird with 1/4 fresh orange. Lay chickens on roasting tray and brush with glaze all over the flesh. You’ll be basting again so use about 1/2 and keep the remainder for the next session. Pop them in the oven. Once the tray is level on your oven shelf pour enough broth into pan with the birds, coating the bottom of the pan without overflowing. This is a technique I love to use with all white meat i.e. chicken, turkey, pork. You’ll find that these meats in particular are very lean so there isn’t enough fat to keep the meat moist. By using this broth technique the broth will evaporate while roasting and create steam in the oven to help keep the meat juicy.

You’ll be cooking the birds for approx. 1 hour or until internal temp. of 160 degrees but note you’ll be re-glazing at the halfway mark with the remainder of the glaze, approx. 30 minutes into cooking.
The way I check to see if the bird is cooked all the way through is to cut the skin between the breast and the drumstick and if the juice runs clear you’re in good shape.

While the birds are cooking, prepare the yams by cutting into wedges. Think steak cut chips. In a mixing bowl toss yams in a tbsp of olive oil, S&P and paprika. Spread onto foiled oven tray. These will take about 20 minutes so time accordingly with the birds. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over potatoes just before serving. NOTE: Always let the cooked birds rest for 10 min after cooking. This allows the meat to relax after the intense heat of the oven and ensures the juices will stay in the bird (and not on your cutting board) when you carve them up.

I love using game hens for a couple of reasons mainly due to the light flavor and the fact that they cook relatively quickly. I’m a breast man myself (now now) and both turkey and chicken breast are packed with protein 26 grams and 24 grams per 3 oz skinless portion, respectively and both are also low in calories and cholesterol. Perhaps that’s why I eat so much of them on a daily basis, alternating of course!

Cornish Game Hen
Orange Balsamic Glazed Chicken with Baked Yam Wedges and Steamed Broccoli

To see more of my recipes and learn about me and my healthy food philosophies head over to www.thehealthyirishman.com.

New Diabetes Treatment Also Effective against Vampires

vampire-garlic-jar

trueblood_posterResearchers from the Suzuka University of Medical Science have discovered a drug that can treat both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.

And as an extra special bonus, it has the ability to ward off vampires.

Based upon a natural chemical present in garlic (Allaxin), this drug has the ability to drastically reduce blood glucose levels.

And it gets even better.

The drug works for both versions of Diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2.

Even better.

The drug works as an oral treatment.

NO MORE NEEDLES.

I think I just heard the world’s 728, 240 Type 1 Diabetics all cheering at once.

THE RESEARCH

  • The drug is a combination of allaxin and vanadium
  • Allaxin is the compound found in garlic
  • Vanadium is a light weight mineral similar to calcium and phosphorus
  • The drug was tested on mice
  • New tests are being scheduled with human test subjects.

So What Now?

For better insulin sensitivity and protection from vampires:

Eat More Garlic

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A BAN on Fast Food TV Advertising Would Reverse Childhood Obesity Trends

fat_kid_tv

In the past few years, childhood obesity has grown from being a personal health issue to a public health issue.

And today, it is fast becoming a political issue.

the-goonies-chunkWay back in the 1980s, this is what a fat kid looked like.

(Bonus points to anyone who recognizes Chunk from “The Goonies”)

Today, Chunk would almost be slim by comparison.

Not only are today’s fat kids fatter than ever, their numbers are swelling as well.

In 2006, the CDC said that “the prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 more than doubled in the past 20 years, going from 6.5% in 1980 to 17.0% in 2006.

The rate among adolescents aged 12 to 19 more than tripled, increasing from 5% to 17.6%“.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, research also shows that there is an 80 percent chance an overweight adolescent will become an obese adult.

But maybe, you’re not a numbers person.

If that’s the case, and this data isn’t enough to grab your attention, take a look at this train-wreck:

Clearly, we have a problem.

What to do, what to do…

Well, according to researchers from the National Bureau of Economic Research, a ban on fast food advertisements in the United States could reduce the number of overweight children by as much as 18%.

brain_socialistShould the U.S. pursue that path, they would follow Sweden, Norway and Finland as the only countries to have banned commercial sponsorship of children’s programs.

This new research builds onto the findings of the 2006 report issued by the Institute of Medicine.

That report:

  • Indicated that there is compelling evidence linking food advertising on television and increased childhood obesity
  • Recommended congressional regulation of television food advertisements aimed at children
  • But also said that the link that would definitively prove that children had become fatter by watching fast food commercials could not be made.”

Michael Grossman, co-author of the NBER study, say that “our study provides evidence of that link.”

The Link between Fast Food TV Advertising and Childhood Obesity

Alright, problem solved.

TV fast food advertising is the villain.

So, what now?

Now we just need a champion to step in and kick a little corporate butt.

Let’s see, who can we get….hmmmmm, who would be a good choice?

Wait, I know!!!

Tipper Gore

fat-kid-loves-cakeThat’s perfect!

Let’s unleash Tipper on those evil fast food and television executives and our childhood obesity problem will disappear faster than the cake at a fat kid’s birthday party.

Okay, I just happen to have her private number right here….dialing……it’s ringing…….someone’s answering…..and…but….but….I see….well..but….ok…thanks anyway…

Sorry people, Tipper’s too busy helping her husband eliminate global warming to help us eliminate childhood obesity.

We’re on our own.

So what do we want to do?

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Vitamin C Puts Out the Fire of Inflammation

A new study researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, shows that vitamin C can lower your levels of C-reactive protein (CRP).

C-reactive protein is a central biomarker of inflammation that has been shown to be a powerful predictor of heart disease and diabetes. This TIME magazine article provides a good overview.

The U of C-B study, which will be published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine,  shows that for healthy, non-smoking adults with an elevated level of CRP, a daily dose of vitamin C lowered levels of the inflammation biomarker after two months compared with those who took a placebo.

The researchers said that for people with elevated CRP levels, the amount of CRP reduction achieved by taking vitamin C supplements in this study is comparable to that in many other studies of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins.

They noted that several larger statin trials lowered CRP levels by about 0.2 milligrams per liter; in this latest study, vitamin C lowered CRP by 0.25 milligrams per liter.

“This finding of an effect of vitamin C is important because it shows in a carefully conducted randomized, controlled trial that for people with moderately elevated levels of inflammation, vitamin C may be able to reduce CRP as much as statins have done in other studies.”

Vitamin C / CRP / Inflammation & Obesity

This study also found a strong link between obesity and elevated levels of CRP.

The researchers found that elevated levels of CRP were found in:

  • 25% of the normal-weight people test subjects
  • 50% of the overweight subjects, and
  • A whopping 75% of the obese test subjects participants.

“The low-grade inflammation that characterizes obesity is believed to contribute to a number of disorders, including atherosclerosis and insulin resistance,” said Nina Holland, co-investigator on the study.

And it’s not just the scientists expressing concern over CRP.

The American Heart Association and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that clinicians measure CRP levels in patients who have a moderately elevated risk of cardiovascular problems, as determined by other established risk factors such as high cholesterol levels and smoking.

“Major studies have found that the level of CRP in the body predicts future risk of cardiovascular disease, including myocardial infarction, stroke and peripheral artery disease, as well as diabetes. Some believe CRP to be as important a predictor of future heart problems as high levels of LDL and low levels of HDL cholesterol.”

What To Do If You’re Worried

Obviously, talk to your doctor.

But keep in mind that your doctor may not want to test for CRP. Most still just want to look at your levels of cholesterol. But it is possible to have high CRP and normal levels of cholesterol.

I would suggest that you print out this article and bring it along to your appointment, but somehow I don’t see many medical professionals listening to little ole’ me.

Instead, print out this Q & A about CRP that the Cleveland Clinic put together.

Here is a more clinical look at the CRP test itself.

How To Prevent / Reduce CRP & Inflammation

According to the Cleveland Clinic:

Inflammation should be treated by lifestyle change, such as:

  • Antithrombotic medications such as aspirin or clopidogrel may provide protection.
  • Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs and ACE inhibitors may also reduce CRP.

Note: Your doctor will prescribe the correct medications and dosage to treat your condition.

And if you don’t want to go the pharma route, you can investigate dietary solutions such as:

For even more info on natural solutions to inflammation / CRP, take a look at some of the work done by Dr. James Duke. His book, “Beyond Aspirin” is a good place to start.

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References

Mainstream Medicine Is Starting To Wake Up

fat-belly
NOT a self portrait

Yesterday, media outlets around the world ( here, here and here) discussed a new scientific study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine,  which reaffirmed the notion that a large waist can almost double your risk of premature death.

This shouldn’t come as news to anyone who takes an active interest in their health.

Us health nuts have known for years that visceral fat is a killer.

Because of this, I usually just skim these articles to make sure that I am not missing any new breakthroughs.

Surprisingly, in this case, I did find something interesting.

But it wasn’t the research.

It was the response to the research.

I noticed two things:

  1. The Main Stream Media can be pretty stupid, and
  2. Doctors have drastically improved their understanding of how our lifestyle (physical activity, nutrition, thoughts and feelings) impacts our health

So, why do I think that the MSM is stupid?

.

To explain this, I need to tell you a little story.

Yesterday afternoon, a client of mine asked me if I had heard about this new study which claimed that having love handles doubled your risk of premature death.

Love handles?

I told him that he was be mistaken.

Belly fat or visceral fat is bad news.

But love handles?

love-handles-vs-visceral-fat

Love handles may not look very sexy, but they aren’t a killer.

But he was pretty adamant and pointed me to this BBC headline:

Love handles’ raise death risk

Whoops, the BBC screwed up.

The study looks at waist circumference and visceral fat, not love handles.

Love handles, in colloquial or slang speech, are a layer of fat that is deposited around a person’s midsection, especially visible on the sides over the abdominal external oblique muscle. They are called “love handles” because they provide a soft place to rest one’s hand while one’s arm is around a person, or perhaps because they can serve as places to hold on while copulating.

So, before anyone else starts thinking that their love handles are out to get them:

Love Handles: Squishy / Not a Killer

Visceral Fat: Less squishy / Big Time Health Risk

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Interesting Observation # 2

Doctors have drastically improved their understanding of how our lifestyle (physical activity, nutrition, thoughts and feelings) impacts our health.

Just check out this video.

What I want you to notice is the doctor’s closing statement.

As he discusses treatment options for patients with a large waist (caused by visceral fat), he says:

“We can ask them to consider exercising more, reducing their carbohydrate intake, taking more fruit and vegetables in their diet, and by that way, we can help them reduce the risk and live longer and happier.”

He doesn’t say:

He says:

And considering that fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates, I think it’s fair to assume that the good doctor is telling us to reduce our consumptions of GRAINS.

Tell me it’s not true.

Eat less bread, corn, pasta and rice…how will I ever survive?

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Pan Seared Sea Bass with Herbed Quinoa & Baby Carrots

Pan Seared Seabass with Quinoa

4 servings
RECIPE:
4 x 4oz portion sea bass or firm white fish
S&P

QUINOA:
1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken/vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic – minced
1/4 cup shallot – finely diced
1/4 cup red pepper – finely diced
2 tsp. fresh chives – finely chopped
1 tsp. fresh thyme – chopped
zest of 1/3 lemon
1 bay leaf

BABY CARROTS:
2 bunches baby carrots (approx 6 per person)
1/2 tsp. agave
1/4 tsp. curry powder
2 tbsp. olive oil
S&P

This is a fantastic recipe which is quick and easy and most importantly healthy. It’s made with one of my favorite ingredients, quinoa, which is packed full of nutrients and is cooked very much like rice although it has more protein than most other grains.

DIRECTIONS:
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Begin by pre-heating your saute pan on full heat for 2 minutes to sear fish. In another pre-heated saute pan add 1 tbsp olive oil and saute shallots, red pepper and garlic on medium low heat for 3-4 mins or until softened. Add quinoa and saute for another 2 minutes. I like to cook it this way as it brings out a sweet nutty flavor. Add broth and bay-leaf and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 20 mins. approx or until grain is tender, stirring occasionally.

Making QuinoaQuinoa

Next, wash and de-stalk baby carrots. Place in a bowl along with agave, curry powder, drizzle of olive oil and S&P to taste. Roast in oven for 15-20 minutes or until caramelized and tender.

While quinoa is cooking, add a drizzle of olive oil in your other pan and sear seasoned fillets for 2-3 mins. each side or until golden brown. Remove to an oven tray for roasting. (You can actually sear the fish ahead of time and refrigerate until needed.) You’ll want to put your fish in the oven when the quinoa has been cooking for about 15 mins. and is almost tender. The fish will take about 6-7 min. in the oven and that’s it.
Hopefully everything will be ready around the same time but if it’s not don’t worry, after all it’s only food!

I hope those of you who are new to quinoa will branch out and try something new. My objective with cooking is to simplify and ‘healthify’ every day meals. Finally, eating healthy doesn’t mean eating cardboard any more! To see more of my recipes and learn about me and my healthy food philosophies head over to www.thehealthyirishman.com

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Why Do We Crave Carbs?

  • Why do I crave carbs?
  • Why does the smell of baking bread or chocolate cake or cookies or  hot chocolate or popcorn or…well, you get the idea…why does that stuff make me so hungry?
  • Why don’t I crave broccoli or tuna fish or butter?
  • Why am I such a slave to sugar?

Insulin, my friends, insulin. And here’s why….

The Science behind Insulin and our Addiction to Carbs

  • Insulin is secreted by the pancreas.
  • It’s job is to take glucose from your blood, store it in your liver and muscles as glycogen and stop the use of body-fat for fuel.
  • It’s your storage hormone.

This you may know. You probably also know that the glucose in your blood comes from eating carbohydrates.

  • Carbs = Sugar.

What you may don’t know is that insulin isn’t being secreted all the time. It is produced in waves or pulses.

In Fact:

  • The first insulin pulse comes just seconds after you eat carbs
  • This insulin pulse occurs before the sugar in the food even reaches your bloodstream
  • This burst of insulin lasts for 20 minutes before dying down
  • As the first insulin pulse fades away, a second, more gradual injection of insulin is released by the pancreas
  • This pulse lasts for several hours

So what does this all mean?

This means that:

  • The first insulin pulse is designed to prime your body for what is about to happen.
  • Your mind tells your pancreas that sugar is about to be released into the bloodstream and that it had better get ready
  • Ergo, it starts squirting out the insulin

Why does the pancreas need advance notice?

It takes 20 minutes for insulin to have any significant effect on blood-sugar.

Without the advance notice, and the pancreas’ early warning system, a heavy carb meal could result in symptoms of hyperglycemia:

  • A feeling of nervousness or jitteriness
  • A racing heart and pulse
  • Sweaty palms
  • And also a headache

So, is this is a good thing?

  • Yes and no.

Here’s the bad news.

This first wave of insulin secretion has also been described as increasing the “metabolic background of hunger.” As the insulin grabs hold of the blood-sugar and stores it away for later use, it also shuts down the release of body-fat as fuel.

Temporarily, this leaves your body starved for nutrients. You can’t use the energy from the meal or the fat from your love handles. Ooops.

As a result of this, you get hungry!

As a result of this, that meal starts to look better and taste better. And that’s why you keep making trips to the buffet. Your body is searching for energy. More importantly, it’s fuel of choice is sugar…fast absorbing sugar.

After some time, your metabolic system does balance out, and nutrients are released to be used as fuel and your hunger decreases.

So What Does This Have To Do With My Carb Addiction?

  1. Our diet is based on carbs – wheat, corn, rice, sugar
  2. When we eat meals based on carbs, our insulin spikes
  3. When we eat meals based on carbs, our appetite increases
  4. When we eat meals based on carbs, food (carbs in particular) tastes better
  5. When we eat meals based on carbs, we overeat trying to fuels our cells
  6. As a result, when we eat meals based on carbs, we force our bodies to crave carbs

And this is a best case scenario.

I am not even going to discuss how this pattern of overeating carbs can and does lead to Type 2 Diabetes. I will save that discussion for another day.

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Resistin: The Best Test for Heart Disease

homer heart attack

One of my clients was at the doctor last week for a check-up.

He has been stressed out a lot lately and experiencing some headaches.

The doctor checked him out and found that his blood pressure was running higher than normal.

As a result, she sent him on his way with a requisition for a bunch of blood tests.

Pretty standard stuff:

  • Glucose
  • TSH
  • Creatinine
  • Sodium
  • CBC
  • Potassium
  • etc, etc, etc…

At this point, the doctor thinks that the blood pressure is caused by his stress levels, but she just wants to keep on top of things.

But what if things aren’t okay?

Will these tests alert the doctor in time?

Maybe they should be checking his levels of Resistin.

Resistin

Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine have found that blood levels of resistin, a hormone produced by fat cells, can independently predict an individual’s risk of heart failure.

“This is one of the strongest predictors of new-onset heart failure we’ve been able to find, and it holds up even when you control for other biomarkers and risk factors including high blood pressure and diabetes,” says Javed Butler, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine and director of heart failure research at Emory University School of Medicine.

Although scientists don’t know the exact function of resistin, it appears to be associated with both inflammation and insulin resistance.

“Recent laboratory studies have also shown that resistin decreases the ability of rats’ heart muscles to contract,” she adds.

That doesn’t sound good.

In the Health ABC study, the risk of new onset heart failure increased by 38 percent for every 10 nanograms per milliliter increase in resistin levels in blood.

Resistin was a stronger predictor of heart failure risk than other inflammatory markers linked to heart disease, such as C-reactive protein.

“Considering the increasing number of people who are obese or have diabetes, very many of them are going to be at some level of risk for heart failure later in life.

The value of a marker such as resistin may be in accurately identifying among this large population of at-risk individuals who is at the highest risk and then targeting interventions to those people.”

Now, I am sure that my client is going to be okay.

But we are not taking any chances. No matter what the blood tests tell us, he has decided to treat this as a wake up call.

In addition to his healthy eating and thorough fitness program, he is making some lifestyle changes and is about to start a mindfulness meditation program to address his rising levels of stress.

Better safe than sorry.

Too bad he can’t get his resistin levels checked.

Oh well, that’s socialized Canadian medicine for you.

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Crestor: Don’t Believe The Hype

crestor

According to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and Fox News and the AP and so on and so on, Crestor is the best thing to happen to mankind since, well, hmm let’s see….oh yeah, I got it, it’s the best thing to happen since Lipitor!!!

.Yay, Big Pharma to the rescue.

We are going to live forever.

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CRESTOR: Hype v.s. Reality

We all know that the marketing of a new drug sometimes involves stretching the truth.

So let’s try and make some sense out of what they are saying.

THE HYPE

The New York Times says:

Cholesterol-Fighting Drugs Show Wider Benefit

A large new study suggests that millions more people could benefit from taking the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins, even if they have low cholesterol, because the drugs can significantly lower their risk of heart attacks, strokes and death.

The Wall Street Journal says:

Cholesterol Drug Cuts Heart Risk in Healthy Patients

AstraZeneca PLC’s cholesterol drug Crestor sharply lowered risk of heart attacks among apparently healthy patients in a major study that challenges longstanding heart-disease prevention strategies. The findings could substantially broaden the market for statins, the world’s best-selling class of medicines.

Heart experts said the findings, presented Sunday at the annual scientific meeting of the American Heart Association in New Orleans, could reshape cholesterol-treatment guidelines used for more than a decade to fight cardiovascular disease, the world’s leading killer. They also could help AstraZeneca boost its 9% share of the global cholesterol-drug market, which exceeds $15 billion and is now dominated by generic statins and by Pfizer Inc.’s Lipitor.

And not to be outdone, Fox News says:

Cholesterol Drug Causes Risk of Heart Attack to Plummet

People with low cholesterol and no big risk for heart disease had dramatically lower rates of heart attacks, death and stroke if they took the cholesterol pill, Crestor, a large study found.

The results, reported Sunday at an American Heart Association conference, were hailed as a watershed event in heart disease prevention. Doctors said the study might lead millions of more people, as many as 7 million more in the U.S. alone, to consider taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, sold as Crestor, Lipitor, Zocor or in generic form.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

So what did the study actually prove?

THE REALITY

At the time of study termination (median follow-up, 1.9 years; maximal follow-up, 5.0 years):

  • 247 of the 8901 people unlucky enough to get stuck with the placebo DIED.
  • Only 198 of the 8901 people taking Crestor DIED

Okay, this is good news. Crestor saved the lives of 49 people.

crestor-death-chart

Maybe, I am wrong. Maybe we all should be taking Crestor as a preventative.

Just look at the following graph.

Do you see the difference between the two lines in the chart in the upper right corner.

Just look at the difference.

That’s the difference between life and death my friends.

crestor-death-stats

Wait a second.

What’s that single line on the lower graph mean?

Hold on a second….I need to zoom in on that…What the…

That’s not a single line…that’s 2 lines….

In fact, that’s the exact same graph as the upper right graph, except that they used different scales.

Son of a bi*ch!

Now I am mad. Just how stupid do they think I am?

Stupid enough not to notice this:

According to the researchers, the study volunteers were a group of normal people, just like you and me.

We randomly assigned 17,802 apparently healthy men and women with low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels of less than 130 mg per deciliter (3.4 mmol per liter) and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels of 2.0 mg per liter or higher to rosuvastatin, 20 mg daily, or placebo and followed them for the occurrence of the combined primary end point of myocardial infarction, stroke, arterial revascularization, hospitalization for unstable angina, or death from cardiovascular causes.

Not being a scientist, I was willing to accept that everything was on the up and up.

Until I read a critique of this study from Dr. Michael Eades. You can read his post here.

Dr. Eades knows his stuff. I would recommend his blog for anyone interested in their health.

So what did the good doctor have to say…

Let’s look at the sort of fishy aspects of this study.

First, the patient population is most unusual.

How many subjects are there out there who have both normal LDL-cholesterol levels (defined as 130 mg/dl or below) AND elevated C-reactive protein levels.

Not very many.

Especially if you eliminate anyone with any history of inflammatory disorders, which the researchers did.

Most people who have an inflammation arising from the metabolic syndrome, obesity or other common inflammatory disorders will have both elevated lipids AND elevated C-reactive protein levels.

They are typically found together.

The authors of this study had to use 1315 sites in 26 different countries to get the 17,802 subjects involved.

Simple division tells us that there were an average of about 13 subjects per center.  Not many.

To paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald who said “the rich are different from you and me.”

Well, these subjects are different from you and me.  And what may work for them may not necessarily work for you and me.

Dr. Eades continues:

Second, when you look at Table 1 showing the baseline characteristics of the participants, you can see that in virtually all respects the two groups of subjects look identical, which is as it should be in a randomized study.

table1

But closer evaluation indicates that there not identical in a couple of parameters.

In the category Family history of premature CHD (coronary heart disease) we see that there are 51 more subjects with a family history of premature CHD in the placebo group than in the Crestor group.

Since a family history of premature CHD is probably the strongest risk factor for developing premature CHD, do you think a few more of the subjects in the placebo group may have developed it?  And maybe died as a result?

Third, looking at this same table and checking the very next category, Metabolic syndrome, we find that 71 more patients in the placebo group with metabolic syndrome than we do in the Crestor group.

Since the metabolic syndrome is another strong risk factor for development of CHD, do you think some of that difference in deaths could have come from this disparity in the groups?  As I say, not conclusive, but fishy.

Dr. Eades goes even further and questions 3 other “really fishy” aspects of this study:

  1. At the time the study was terminated, 75% of the participants were taking their study pills. What happened to the other 25%?  What percentage of the deaths came from the 75% taking the pills and the 25% not taking the pills?
  2. The placebo group and the Crestor group both reported the same number of side effects. What? Crestor is a potent statin, known for causing side effects, and the group taking this drug reported no more side effects than those taking the placebo.  That’s real fishy.
  3. Finally, the fishiest thing of all.  They stopped the study right in the middle of it.  When studies are done that might put people at risk by giving them potentially dangerous drugs, it is typical for an outside group to take a peek at the data at certain milestones to make sure the study medication isn’t killing people.  When this data is evaluated, and it is found that subjects on the experimental medicine are dying at unacceptably high rates, the study is often halted.  I’ve never seen a study halted because the placebo group was dying at higher rates. That really makes me wonder.

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So What Does This All Mean?

If we look at the data and ignore the spin, this study shows us that people with low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels of less than 130 mg per deciliter (3.4 mmol per liter) and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels of 2.0 mg per liter or higher should see a slight decrease in mortality by taking Crestor.

And what about the rest of us?

Who knows?

Personally, I am sticking with a healthy diet of animal protein, fruits, and vegetables, and supplementing with a quality multi-vitamin/mineral, fish oils and Vitamin D come winter time.

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2009 Fitness Trends

generation-xxl

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has released their annual survey of the top fitness trends for the coming year.

So here it is…with some commentary from yours truly.

Top 20 Worldwide Fitness
Trends for 2009

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1. Educated and experienced fitness professionals

Because of an increase in the number of organizations offering fitness certifications, it’s important that consumers choose professionals certified by programs that are accredited by the National Commission for certifying agencies, such as those offered by ACSM.

Now, you don’t suppose that this trend was ranked so high to help with the ACSM bottom line, do you???

2. Children and obesity.

This trend – and designing exercise programs to reverse it – is high in the minds of fitness professionals not only because of the number of children who are currently overweight and obese, but because these children are more likely to become obese adults.

All you have to do is take a look around your neighborhood to see that childhood obesity has become adolescent obesity is becoming adult obesity.

3. Personal training.

Education, training and proper credentialing for health and fitness professionals who act as personal trainers has become increasingly important, and is an integral part of staffing for health and fitness facilities.

While good personal trainers are becoming harder to find, a certification, while important, doesn’t guarantee quality. Like any other service, referrals and word of mouth is probably your best bet when you are looking for a trainer.

4. Strength training.

Strength training is an essential part of the ACSM’s guidelines. Lifting weights isn’t just for bodybuilders; it’s crucial to maintaining bone mass density with aging and is used in a variety of rehabilitation settings.

Physical strength is vital to our quality of life as we age. Not to be too graphic, but it makes no sense for a senior citizen to require assistance to get off of the toilet. Strength training will ensure that you have the strength to maintain your daily activities well into your senior years.

5. Core training.

Different from strength training, this type of training emphasizes conditioning the back and abdomen muscles and improves spine stability.

Core training is essential to overall strength. Where I disagree with most trainers is with the use of Bosus and stability balls and other gimmicks as a way to develop core strength. There are better ways.

6. Special fitness programs for older adults.

With more and more of the baby boomer population reaching retirement age, health and fitness professionals are designing age-appropriate fitness programs to keep older adults healthy and happy well into their golden years.

The boomers have been driving our economies for years. this is just the next phase.

7. Pilates.

Pilates incorporates a great deal of core training, while still strengthening and toning the entire body. Part of its appeal is that many exercises can be done with a simple mat – no extra, expensive equipment required.

While it’s popularity may be on the wane, Pilates is still a much better fitness model than the bodybuilding model promoted in most fitness magazines.

8. Stability ball.

Because the size of stability balls varies so greatly, many different exercises can be performed with them. It can teach balance and strength in addition to stability.

It’s one tool in your fitness arsenal. Don’t overuse it; don’t ignore it.

9. Sport-specific training.

This trend distinctly relates to young athletes. High school athletes are incorporating training into their off-seasons in order to stay in top shape for their sports.

Athletic coaching and sports science have entered the main stream market with sport-specific training. However, remember that a sport-specific program is only as good as the coach that created it.

10. Balance training.

Numerous activities feature balance training, including yoga, foam rollers, BOSU balls, and more. This trend has risen to the top 10 after not making the trends list in 2007 and being listed at no. 14 in 2008, possibly because of the increased emphasis on its importance for older adults.

Balance training should make up part of any fitness program. But, you don’t need to spend money on silly infomercial balance training equipment. Unilateral exercises are the easiest and best way to improve your balance.

11. Functional Fitness

This is a trend toward using strength training to improve balance, coordination, strength, and endurance to improve one’s ability to do activities of daily living. Exercise programs reflect actual activities someone might do during the day.

Functional fitness is sport-specific training without the sport. You are training to improve how you function in day to day life. A very sensible way to train. I would have ranked this much higher.

12. Comprehensive Health Promotion Programming at the Worksite

This is a trend toward a range of programs and services provided to improve the health of workers integrated with systems to support the evaluation and reporting of their impact on health, costs, and productivity.

Insurance companies are pushing employers to institute fitness programs as a way to avoid ever increasing premiums.

13. Wellness Coaching

This is a trend to incorporate behavioral science into health promotion programs. Wellness coaching uses a one-on-one approach, with the coach providing support, guidance, and encouragement. The wellness coach focuses on the client’s values, needs, vision, and goals.

This trend to incorporate physical fitness with mental, emotional and spiritual fitness is beginning to assert itself. This is the way it should always have been.

14. Worker Incentive Programs

This is a trend toward creating incentive programs to stimulate health behavior change as part of employer-based health promotion programming and health care benefit design.

See #12

15. Outcome Measurements

This is a trend toward accountability. After many years of just talking about outcomes, there will be efforts to define and track outcomes. Measurements are necessary to determine the benefits of health and fitness programs in disease management and to document success in changing negative lifestyle habits. The proliferation of technology will aid in data collection to support these efforts.

See #12. Insurance is driving this bus.

16. Spinning (Indoor Cycling)

As an instructor describes the terrain, this group fitness program has been described as pedaling outdoors without changes in temperature, humidity, or other environmental changes. The pedal tension on the stationary bike is like riding uphill or through valleys. Often, upbeat background music helps to motivate people through this relatively high intensity workout.

Spinning is as popular as ever.

17. Physician Referrals

This is a trend toward a growing emphasis being placed on partnerships with the medical community, resulting in seamless referrals to the health and fitness facility.

See #12…again.

18. Exercise and Weight Loss

This is a trend toward incorporating a sensible exercise program in all weight loss programs. Most sensationalized diet programs incorporate some kind of exercise program into their daily routine. However, in 2009, the coupling of a diet (or diet pill) and exercise will become more important.

Our kids aren’t the only chub-chubs. As well, this is also being driven by insurance companies.

19. Group Personal Training

This trend expands the Personal Trainer’s role from strictly oneon- one training to small group training. The Personal Trainer works with two or more people (but in a small group) and offers discounts for the group.

A great way to get the services of a fitness professional at 1/4 the cost. Great idea.

20. Reaching New Markets

This is a trend that identifies new markets in all aspects of the health/fitness industry. With an estimated 80% of Americans not having a regular exercise program or a place to exercise, commercial, clinical, corporate, and community programs will reach out to tap this huge market.

These are my clients. In home training…more convenient and more affordable

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Well there you go…the fitness trends for 2009.

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Diet Pills Suck

diet-pill-horizontal

Fenfluramine, the appetite suppressant drug banned in the US in 1997 due to fears over its links to heart conditions, has been shown to have serious long-term effects.

In a report published today in the journal BMC Medicine, researchers have shown that people who stopped using fenfluramine eleven years ago had damaged heart valves up to seven years later.

In this study, Charles Dahl from the Central Utah Clinic led a team of researchers who studied the heart condition of 5743 former fenfluramine users. He said, “Valve problems were common in individuals exposed to fenfluramines, more frequent in females and associated with duration of drug use in all valves assessed”.

Heart valves, such as the aortic, mitral and tricuspid valves, ensure that your blood flows in the correct direction around the heart.

When they fail, blood back-flows (termed regurgitation).

If the regurgitation is severe enough, congestive heart failure and/or the need for heart valve surgery may occur.

Dahl said, “We found clear evidence for a strong, graded association between duration of exposure to fenfluramines and prevalence of aortic regurgitation and for mild or greater mitral and tricuspid regurgitation”.

Let’s get this straight.

We take a drug that causes this…

Aortic Regurgitation

aortic-regurgitation

So that we can eat like this…

fatkidatmcds

And look like this…

jessica-alba-david-beckham

What???

Sorry to break the news to y’all, but…

bigfatburger

+

poppin-pills

=

homerheartattack

Thus endeth the rant.

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Eat Whatever You Want And NEVER Gain A Pound

 

Here we go again.

Researchers at Sirtis (owned by Glaxo-SmithKline) are testing a new diet drug that would allow the couch potatoes of the world to eat whatever they want and never gain an ounce.

Wait, it gets better. It would also rid the planet of Type 2 Diabetes.

It gets even better. They are developing other versions that promise to extend the average life span while preventing heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Wow!

This sounds great…Tell me more.

OK – This particular drug, SRT1720, fools the body into thinking food is scarce and it has to burn off fat to survive.

It does this by triggering a protein called SIRT1 that plays a key role in regulating the body’s supply of energy.

So how did they come up with the idea for this wonder drug?

Researchers discovered the importance of the SIRT1 protein by studying the metabolic effects shown by the natural supplement, Resveratrol.

But where Resveratrol affects many other systems in the body, SRT1720 targets “only the SIRT1 pathway, making it more selective and potent for achieving these metabolic benefits”.

Oh, and because it is a synthetic substance, designed by a pharmaceutical company, it can be patented. And make billions and billions of dollars..

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Does Your Diet Make Your Skin Look OLD?

skin-care

The global skin care market is estimated to be USD $43 billion per year.

$43,000,000,000

That’s greater than the GDP of 120 of the world’s 190 countries.

And how about all of the money being spent on Botox, Restylane, chemical peels, laser treatments, goat placentas, human sacrifices, etc…

What if I told you that a big reason for the success of the skin care industry is all of the sugar found in the now global “Western Diet“.

frappuccinoWhat if I told you that even if you kicked your cravings for Big Macs and Venti Mocha Frappuccino® Blended Coffees with whipped cream, and began eating a diet based on the USDA’s Food Pyramid, you would still be doing major damage to your skin.

food-pyramid

Here’s Why…

Your skin is 75% collagen.

Collagen is the body’s major structural protein. It makes up 33% of the protein found in your body. It supports tissues and organs and attaches muscles to bones. In fact, your bones are made up of a combination of collagen and various minerals such as calcium and phosphorous.

So, what does that have to do with keeping my skin wrinkle free?

Like I said, collagen makes up 75% of your skin. But what I didn’t say is that the smooth, plump appearance of young, healthy skin is due in large part to the presence of healthy collagen levels.

This is why beauty seekers around the world search for new ways to boost collagen levels and repair past collagen damage—some go so far as to inject collagen proteins into the skin to plump wrinkles and add volume to the lips.

This is where it gets interesting.

It has always been believed that the breakdown of healthy collagen and the decline in collagen production was a natural and unavoidable side effect of aging. Because of that, we are doomed to wrinkles, age spots and thin, drooping skin.

Maybe Not

We all know that sun damage and cigarettes are not conducive to healthy skin.

What we didn’t know was that a diet based on carbohydrates was an even bigger threat to healthy, youthful skin.

Here’s Why

  • Eating a diet based on carbohydrates raises our blood sugar
  • Raised blood sugar increases the production of Reactive Oxygen Species and Advanced Glycation End-Products
  • Advanced Glycation End-Products or AGEs are linked directly to the aging process (hence the acronym)
  • Collagen is especially prone to damage caused by AGEs
  • It is the collagen that has been damaged by AGEs that causes the loss of elasticity in your skin.

And it’s not just your skin.

The same diet that causes your skin to droop and wrinkle does the same type of damage to the rest of the collagen in your body…in your joints, arteries, heart and lungs.

So What Should You Do?

This isn’t going to sound very revolutionary, but:

  • Stop eating a diet based on processed and refined carbohydrates
  • Start eating more vegetables
  • Don’t avoid fruit, but treat it more like a dessert and not a main course.
  • Eat meat – beef, chicken, pork, etc…
  • Don’t be afraid of natural fats…animal fats, olive oil, the less processed the better
  • Basically, stop eating processed junk and start eating foods that come without labels and long lists of ingredients

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Fibromyalgia: A New Test Leads To A Cause And Maybe A Cure

For years and years and years and years, people suffering with fibromyalgia have faced a battle on two fronts.

  1. They battle chronic pain and all of the associated physical, mental and emotional problems that come with chronic pain.
  2. They fight a public and medical perception that fibromyalgia is not a real medical condition. That the pain is all in their heads.

A new study, published in the November issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, may help fibromyalgia patients on both battle fronts.

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The Study

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Using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), researchers in France were able to detect functional abnormalities in certain regions in the brains of patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia, reinforcing the idea that symptoms of the disorder are related to a dysfunction in those parts of the brain where pain is processed.

“Fibromyalgia is frequently considered an ‘invisible syndrome’ since musculoskeletal imaging is negative,” said Eric Guedj, M.D., and lead author of the study. “Past imaging studies of patients with the syndrome, however, have shown above-normal cerebral blood flow (brain perfusion) in some areas of the brain and below-normal in other areas. After performing whole-brain scans on the participants, we used a statistical analysis to study the relationship between functional activity in even the smallest area of the brain and various parameters related to pain, disability and anxiety/depression.”

In the study, 20 women diagnosed with fibromyalgia and 10 healthy women as a control group responded to questionnaires to determine levels of pain, disability, anxiety and depression. SPECT was then performed, and positive and negative correlations were determined.

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The Results

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The researchers confirmed that patients with the syndrome exhibited brain perfusion abnormalities in comparison to the healthy subjects.

Further, these abnormalities were found to be directly correlated with the severity of the disease.

An increase in perfusion (hyperperfusion or excessive blood supply) was found in that region of the brain known to discriminate pain intensity, and a decrease (hypoperfusion or inadequate blood supply) was found within those areas thought to be involved in emotional responses to pain.

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Conclusions

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In the past, some researchers have thought that the pain reported by fibromyalgia patients was the result of depression rather than symptoms of a disorder. This study strongly refutes that belief.

According to the lead researcher, “Interestingly, we found that these functional abnormalities were independent of anxiety and depression status.”

This study also gives researchers a diagnostic tool to help predict a fibro patient’s response to a specific treatment and evaluate brain-processing recovery during follow-up.

“Fibromyalgia may be related to a global dysfunction of cerebral pain-processing,” Guedj added.

“This study demonstrates that these patients exhibit modifications of brain perfusion not found in healthy subjects and reinforces the idea that fibromyalgia is a ‘real disease/disorder.‘”

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What This Means For Fibromyalgia Patients

.

This research does 3 important things for fibromyalgia patients:

  1. It gives legitimacy to their condition. No longer will family doctors, friends, family, employers, etc.. be able to tell fibro sufferers that their pain is not real, that it’s all in their heads.
  2. It gives researchers a tool to test treatment modalities.
  3. And now that they ‘know’ which areas of the brain are affected and how they are affected, they should be able to chart out a more direct route to a cure…or at least a treatment.

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Wanna Lose Weight?…Here Comes Big Pharma’s Newest and Bestest Magic Bullet

Back in May of this year, I told you about Tesofensine, a new diet drug being developed by the Danish drug company, NeuroSearch. Well, it’s back in the news.

A new study, published in the online version of the Lancet, is singing the praises of Big Pharma’s latest attempt at weight loss in a pill.

Following up on their initial tests, this latest study claims that “Tesofensine produces a weight loss of approximately 10 percent more than placebo and diet in obese patients,” said lead researcher Dr. Arne Astrup, from the Department of Human Nutrition, Faculty of Life Sciences, at the University of Copenhagen.

Other drugs produce only about 5 percent weight loss, Astrup noted.

The researchers seem to be pretty excited about tesofensine’s ability to compete head to head with gastric bypass surgery for the title of medical weight loss champion.

According to the researchers, “This drug could replace the need for gastric bypass surgery in some obese patients”.

“There is an enormous gap between the existing weight-loss compounds and gastric surgery,” Astrup said. “Tesofensine could close that gap.

“If you combine the drug with an effective diet, you could probably reach the 20 percent weight loss seen in gastric surgery.”

This is my favorite part of the quote:

“Tesofensine could compete with gastric surgery and be offered to those who are below the threshold for surgery or for patients who do not wish [to have] gastric surgery,” Astrup said.

“There are also patients who cannot tolerate gastric surgery.”

So let me get this straight.

Finally, there is a solution for all of those poor unfortunate overweight individuals who happen to be below the threshold for gastric surgery, cannot tolerate surgery or foolishly do not wish to have gastric surgery.

And that solution is:

Tesofensine

Perhaps there is another solution.

How about a little less of this:

And a little more of this:

Instead of:

Relying on a pharmaceutical solution which:

  • Alters levels of three key brain chemicals – serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline

Professor Steve O’Rahilly, a Cambridge University obesity expert, said: ‘If we could treat obesity, like we treat high blood pressure, with safe, effective and affordable drugs this would be an enormous boon to health care.

‘To date, obesity drugs that have been effective have not been safe, and conversely those that are safer, are relatively ineffective. The results with this new drug demonstrate that, over a six-month period, it is quite effective.

However, as the drug is likely to have actions on parts of the brain not involved in weight control, the risk of serious side effects on longer-term administration will need to be watched very carefully.’

  • Stops working as soon as you stop taking it.

Once starting the drug, people would need to keep taking it to maintain the benefit, Astrup said. “There is no treatment that is working beyond its taking. This is true for all anti-diabetic medication, hypertension medication and everything, including anti-obesity drugs,” he said. “It’s a long-term treatment, and, in some cases, a permanent treatment to keep body weight down.

  • And has numerous short-term side effects:
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Mood changes, such as anger and confusion
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Increased Blood Pressure

The choice is yours.

Sources:

Fit After Fifty: Does Workout Nutrition Make A Difference?

Researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University have found that taking a mixed carbohydrate and protein supplement before and after a workout could boost muscle performance and slow muscle wastage in people over retirement age.

This will not come as a surprise to many of you fitness junkies out there. Pre and post workout nutrition has been recommended for enhancing performance and recuperation for years.

But the fact that this concept is being applied to our aging population is significant. With the leading edge of the Baby Boomer generation entering their senior years, maintaining health and fitness is about to become a major demographic concern.

Need Proof?

Chocolate Milk is now being marketed as a workout wonder food.

Check out this commercial.

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In my next post, I will provide a more detailed explanation of the science behind workout nutrition.

Until then…

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Supercharge Your Brain On A Low Carb Diet

It is generally believed that our brains need sugar to operate at peak efficiency.

This argument has been one of the strongest indictments of low carb diets such as the Atkins Diet. It may also be totally false.

In fact, according to a new study published in the October 2008 edition of The FASEB Journal, your brain, just like your muscles, works harder when fueled by lactate instead of glucoseThe Study
In this study, researchers subjected their volunteers to strenuous exercise while looking at the blood running to and from their brains.

Specifically, they were trying to see what happened to the large amounts of lactate that are produced in the body as a by-product of exercise.

Analyzing the blood entering and exiting the brain, the researchers found that “the brain was not storing the lactate which had come from the muscles during exercise, but rather using it as fuel”.

In fact, the brain helped to clear lactate from the body, shifting the supply of glucose towards the hard working muscles.

In addition, the data also showed that brain activity increased significantly during the study. The brain was thriving on the diet of lactate.

If our prehistoric ancestors had not been able to think and react while evading four legged predators, they might literally have lost their heads.

Being able to use lactate as “brain food” allowed our ancestors to survive and evolve.

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Binge Eating: Is Your Brain Making You Fat?

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered that “overeating throws critical portions of the brain out of whack, leading to a malfunctioning hypothalamus, metabolic inflammation, insulin resistance, leptin resistance, obesity and type 2 diabetes”.

The study, published in the October 3 issue of Cell, attempts to expand on previous research which showed that over-nutrition is associated with chronic inflammation in metabolic tissues.

Specifically, they wanted to see whether metabolic inflammation compromises the brain’s metabolic regulatory systems and therefore promotes over-nutrition associated diseases.

Translation:

They wanted to see if a trip to the “All You Can Eat Buffet” would mess with your brain, causing an impaired metabolism and increased obesity.

The Results:

A trip to the “All You Can Eat Buffet” will mess with your brain, causing an impaired metabolism and increased obesity.

The Details:

There is a substance in your brain called IKKβ/NF-κB.

IKKβ/NF-κB is a mediator of metabolic inflammation. Most of the time, it just sits there, inactive.

However, a single session of overeating activates the IKKβ/NF-κB found in your hypothalamus.

Once activated, the IKKβ/NF-κB increases inflammation in your metabolic pathways and interrupts the normal signaling of the obesity regulation hormones, leptin and insulin.

When this happens over and over and over again, your body becomes resistant to insulin and leptin.

And you become fat.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the increased obesity leads to even more inflammation. Which leads to more leptin / insulin resistance and so on and so on.

This all results in quite the little vicious circle of inflammation, hormone resistance and obesity.

Conclusion

The researchers have concluded that “their findings could lead to treatments that might stop this cycle before it gets started”.

If they can inhibit the IKKβ/NF-κB pathway in the hypothalamus, they may be able to eliminate the inflammatory response to over-eating and the resultant hormone resistance and obesity.

They also noted that “if realized, such a strategy would likely offer a safe approach given that the critical pathway appears to be unnecessary in the hypothalamus under normal circumstances.”

APPEARS TO BE UNNECESSARY

Hmmmm, I don’t know about you, but being told that part of my hypothalamus “appears to be unnecessary” doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.

Instead, I think that I will just skip that second trip to the trough…errr…buffet table and avoid the entire problem altogether.

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HIIT – The "Aerobic" Version…or Part 6 of the "Why Can't I Lose This Fat" Saga

For those of you that need to catch up on this “how-to” weight loss opus, here are the links:  Part 1, Part 2Part 3 , Part 4 , HIRT Exercise Videos and Part 5.

And now that you’re all caught up, on with Part 6.

HIIT – The “Aerobic” Version

So what is “Aerobic” HIIT training?

Well, to be honest, if you perform it correctly, there is very little aerobic about this type of training. Like Part 5, these HIIT workouts are anaerobic in nature. They will be as intense as the workouts in Part 5, but unlike Part 5, I will be using traditional aerobic exercises and pieces of traditional aerobic exercise equipment instead of the dumbbells and rubber bands.

And like Part 5, this HIIT workout will provide the same benefits:

 

  • Increase your metabolism for up to 36 hours
  • Burn maximum fat in minimum time
  • Increase strength
  • Increase muscular endurance
  • Give you lean, firm muscles
  • Improve your anaerobic endurance
  • Shorten your workout times, and
  • Increase your free time

HIIT Theory

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Like I said in Part 5, if you want a thorough explanation of the theory behind HIIT training, check out this earlier post.

Here are the basics of this HIIT – Aerobic Training Program

  • With HIIT, you try to work as hard as possible for the assigned time period.
  • Each HIIT- Aerobic workout is made up of an equal number of short duration sprints and longer duration recovery periods.
  • During each sprint, you try to pedal / run / climb as fast as you can.
  • I usually start beginners with a 10 minute workout. That 10 minute workout is usually made up of 10 – 10 second sprints and 10 – 50 second recovery periods.
  • The program can be modified by:
  • Lengthening or shortening the duration of the sprint portion.
  • Lengthening or shortening the duration of the recovery period.
  • Lengthening or shortening the duration of the entire HIIT workout.
  • Increasing or decreasing the intensity of the exercise
  • Increasing or decreasing the number of workouts per week
  • Changing exercises

Here is a chart I designed to help my clients create their own HIIT – Aerobic workouts.

And here is a workout designed for a HIIT beginner.

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Schedule

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Week 1: (1) 10 minute HIIT workout

Week 2: (1) 12 minute HIIT workout

Week 3: (1) 14 minute HIIT workout

Week 4: (1) 16 minute HIIT workout

Week 5: (1) 18 minute HIIT workout

Week 6: (1) 20 minute HIIT workout

The Exercises

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Just about any “aerobic” exercise can be modified to perform a HIIT workout.

Due to safety concerns however, some exercises are a little less desirable than others. For example, HIIT training on a treadmill does have the potential for a very embarrassing and potentially painful accident.

For Example:

And now a proper HIIT treadmill workout:

HIIT on an Exercise Bike:

HIIT on an Elliptical Machine:

HIIT Hill Sprints – Sprint Up and Walk Down

or HIIT Hill Bounding for those with too much time and energy

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In addition to these exercises, you can also:

  • Perform your sprints running or swimming in a swimming pool
  • Sprint indoors or outdoors on a flat surface
  • Sprint outdoors on a bike, or
  • Sprint on a Versaclimber

You are limited only by your imagination.

The Beginner’s Workout

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SAMPLE HIIT – AEROBIC WORKOUT

WEEK – WORKOUT

EXERCISE

RESISTANCE

RECOVERY TIME

SPRINT TIME

TOTAL TIME

1-1

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

10 MIN

2-1

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

12 MIN

3-1

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

14 MIN

4-1

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

16 MIN

5-1

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

18 MIN

6-1

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

20 MIN

7-1

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

12 MIN

7-2

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

12 MIN

8-1

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

14 MIN

8-2

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

14 MIN

9-1

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

16 MIN

9-2

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

16 MIN

10-1

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

18 MIN

10-2

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

18 MIN

11-1

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

20 MIN

11-2

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

20 MIN

Here is a pdf copy of the sample workout –hiit-workout-aerobic

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Good luck; and if you have any questions, do not hesitate to comment..

 

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Obese Women Face Unique Barriers To Exercise

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photo credit – http://fatwonderwoman.blogspot.com/

Researchers from the Center for Obesity Research and Education and the department of kinesiology at Temple University found that obese women face a significant number of barriers when it comes to exercise, more so than their normal weight counterparts.

The Study

278 women, both normal weight and obese, were enrolled in a 12 month physical activity encouragement study.

Throughout the study, the women were questioned to determine what factors might be keeping them from exercising.

Some of those factors were:

  • Feeling self-conscious;
  • Not wanting to fail;
  • Fearing injury;
  • Perceived poor health
  • Having minor aches or pains
  • Feeling too overweight to exercise

Results

Throughout the study, the obese women reported more barriers to exercise than the “normal” weight women.

Additionally, the obese women with the most barriers to exercise were the least likely to be exercising at the conclusion of the study.

Conclusion

Whether or not those barriers to exercise were real or imagined, they present a real problem.

Exercise may or may not be an effective treatment for obesity. But there is little doubt that exercise provides numerous health benefits to those willing and able to put in the effort.

If obese women (or other groups – disabled, seniors) are less likely to exercise due to perceived barriers, they are more likely to suffer from various chronic conditions above and beyond obesity.

Finding a way to minimize these barriers to exercise is vital if we are going to continue to market exercise as a method of health promotion / disease prevention.

Reducing these barriers to exercise may explain why the Curves chain of fitness centers has been such a huge success. While Curves may not be the most sophisticated health club chain, they do present an atmosphere that is “female-friendly”.

In a similar vein, “senior-friendly” health clubs are beginning to pop up around the country.

Who knows, in a few years, niche fitness clubs may be as popular as fast food restaurants.

But then again, maybe if we had fewer fast food restaurants, we wouldn’t need the niche fitness clubs.

Oh well…

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Related Posts

Say Goodbye To Lower Back Pain with Band Training

An effective way to prevent lower back pain is to stretch and strengthen all of the muscles in the lower back and core region.

One of the best ways to accomplish both of these modalities is with band training.

Here are a couple of videos from Dick Hartzell, the founder of Jump Stretch.

Dick has been at this for years. His training methods may seem a little unorthodox at first. But that’s okay. because they work.

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Lower Back Stretch & Strengthen

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Lower back Traction

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Like this article???

If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

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Related Posts

Cross Training Best For Cardiac Patients

A new study, published in the ACSM’s journal, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, shows that coronary artery disease patients should replace their existing aerobic exercise programs with a combined resistance / aerobic training program.

The study looked at various markers of health important to individuals suffering from coronary artery disease.

These markers were:

  • Vo2 peak
  • Body Composition
  • Anaerobic Endurance
  • Muscular Strength
  • Muscular Endurance

The cross training (combined Resistance and Aerobic training) group demonstrated greater improvements than the aerobic group in every single marker of health.

After 29 weeks:

  • Vo2 peak – Improved 18% in the Cross-Training (CT) group and 11% in the Aerobic (AT) group (data)
  • Lean Body Mass – The CT group gained close to 4x more muscle mass than the AT group (1.5 kg v.s 0.4 kg) (data)
  • Body Fat – The CT group lost 2% body-fat while the AT group lost 0.1% (data)
  • Anaerobic Endurance – Insignificant changes in both the AT and CT groups (data)
  • Muscular Strength – The CT group increased their leg strength by 18%, while the AT group increased leg strength by only 6% (data)
  • Muscular Endurance – Muscular Endurance (tested by Leg Press) improved 100% in the CT group and only 15% in the AT group (data)

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Scientific Conclusion

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The major findings of this study are that replacing two aerobic training (AT) sessions with two Resistance Training (RT) sessions (creating a Cross Training (CT) workout) each week elicited similar or higher changes in cardiovascular fitness (V⋅O2peak) than AT alone (5 sessions per week) with the added benefits of significant gains in muscle strength, local muscle endurance, lean mass accretion and reduction in percent body fat in CAD patients.

These data support the hypothesis that combined RT/AT training (or CT) was superior in eliciting physiological adaptations, with more substantial gains seen with increased volume of RT for lean muscle mass, lower body muscular endurance, VAT, and V⋅O2peak.

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If you like what you see here, click here for updates or Share this Post with the rest of the world.

Thanks in Advance.

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Related Posts

1. Aerobic and Resistance Training in Coronary Disease: Single versus Multiple Sets, Susan Marzolini; Paul I. Oh; Scott G. Thomas; Jack M. Goodman

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Turn Back the Clock with Leucine

Leucine is an essential amino acid. It’s designation as essential means that is it an amino acid that cannot be made by humans and so is essential to the human diet. But according to a growing body of scientific research, leucine may be essential to preventing age related muscle loss.

Age Related Muscle Loss

Muscle in adults is constantly being built and broken down. When we are young, our bodies keep these two processes in balance. But as we age, the balance starts to shift towards the breakdown side of the equation. This process is similar to the situation that many women face with osteoporosis. However, numerous studies are showing that the addition of the amino acid leucine to the diet of aging individuals can reverse this condition.

The Science

According to the research:

  • Leucine stimulates new muscle growth
  • Leucine is the major amino acid responsible for the muscle producing capability of food
  • Adding leucine to a meal increases muscle growth by 50 to 70 percent
  • Leucine works best when taken with a mixed carb / protein meal. This is due to:
  • The insulin surge that comes from the carbohydrates in the meal, and…
  • The other essential amino acids are present.
  • Leucine does not work as well with carb-only or protein-only meals
  • The change in leucine levels in the blood seems to be more important than the overall amount. Therefore, it is better to take a small serving of leucine with a meal (level of leucine increases), wait a few hours (let the leucine levels drop), and then take another serving with some food (levels increase again).

Leucine supplementation has also shown to be effective as a supplement for athletes interested in adding functional muscle mass.

Conclusion

I am usually very hesitant to recommend any form of supplements. In most cases, I feel that our nutritional needs can be met with whole foods.

However, in this case, the upside of leucine supplementation is very strong and, to this point, there doesn’t seem to be any downside. I will be “guinea-pigging” this supplement on myself and a few of my clients. I will report back with the results..

  1. Norton LE and Layman DK. Leucine regulates translation initiation of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle after exercise. J Nutr. 2006; 136(2):533S-537S.
  2. Stipanuk, Martha H. Leucine and protein synthesis: mTOR and beyond. Nutrition Reviews. 2007;Mar;Vol. 65, No. 3:122-9.
  3. Paddon-Jones D, et al. Amino acid ingestion improves muscle protein synthesis in the young and elderly. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Mar;286(3):E321-8.
  4. Tipton, KD, et al. Postexercise net protein synthesis in human muscle from orally administered amino acids. Am J Physiol. 1999 Apr;276(4 Pt 1):E628-34.
  5. Rasmussen BB, Phillips SM. Contractile and nutritional regulation of human muscle growth. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2003 Jul;31(3):127-31.
  6. Rieu, Isabelle. Leucine supplementation improves muscle protein synthesis in elderly men independently of hyperaminoacidaemia. J. Physiol. 2006;575;305-15.
  7. Blackwell Publishing Ltd.. “Feeling Old? Supplement Diet With Leucine Prevents Muscle Loss Linked To Aging.” ScienceDaily 4 December 2005. 3 October 2008
  8. University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. “Eating Proper Foods At Right Time After Exercise Can Speed Recovery.” ScienceDaily 13 July 1999. 3 October 2008