What’s with all the moral outrage surrounding McDonald’s “better” Chicken McNuggets?

Three weeks ago, McDonald’s released a commercial touting their “better” chicken mcnuggets.

The aim of the commercial was to show how McDonald’s is responding to changing consumer tastes by making their food healthier….because “We all want what’s best for our kids” …so sayeth the commercial’s narrator.

Soon after the commercial aired on tv, people started flipping out.

Panera Bread CEO Ron Shaich claimed McDonald’s is misleading customers about its food.

“I was offended watching this commercial during the Olympics about the preservative-free McNuggets,” Shaich said in a phone interview with Business Insider. “I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ Sure, you’ve got McNuggets that are preservative-free, but what are you dipping them in? Sauces that are filled with that stuff!” (link to article)

“Grossly misleading,” is how Bill Jeffery describes the commercial. The executive director of the Centre for Health Science and Law in Ottawa argues preservatives or no preservatives, deep-fried and salted Chicken McNuggets simply aren’t a healthy choice for children.

“What they’re advocating is so far removed from good nutrition, it’s almost kind of laughable.”

Cue the moral outrage

As a health & fitness professional, this is where I am supposed to jump on the bandwagon and slag McDonald’s for trying to sell us junk food under the banner of health & family & all that good stuff.

And yet…I kinda feel bad for McDonald’s.

Sure, McDonald’s claim/suggestion that their food is healthy is 100% BS. As is their claim that they want the best for my daughter.

mcnuggetsrcrap

What they want is to sell as much “food” to as many people as is possible…just like every other food manufacturer in the world.

And since the fastest growing segment of the food industry is “healthy” food, McDonald’s execs are re-formulating the menu & re-branding their image as quickly as possible.

In regard to their menu, McDonald’s has already stopped using chickens raised with antibiotics prescribed to humans and intends to:

  • switch to cage-free eggs in the next decade,
  • replace the corn syrup in their buns with sugar
  • cook McMuffins with butter instead of liquid margarine, and
  • remove the preservatives from their McNuggets

Which, IMHO, is pretty great for the world’s most popular JUNK FOOD restaurant.

McNuggets-ingredients

Because, we have to remember that since it’s inception, McDonald’s has sold fried meat, white bread, deep-fried potatoes, soft drinks, milk shakes and sugary condiments. And they’ve made billions doing that…because people love that stuff.

Unfortunately, as McDonald’s grew and their restaurants became assembly lines supplied by factory food, the quality of raw ingredients dropped through the floor.

Now, with the public’s shift towards healthier food choices, McDonald’s is responding by improving the quality of their factory food AND introducing healthier new options like kale salads.

Which is a move in the right direction. 

Just don’t expect them to go back to selling beef raised from cattle that eat grass…and fresh potatoes fried in oils that can handle high heat…and milkshakes made with milk from grass-fed cows…and buns baked without preservatives.

brontosaurus-burger

McDonald’s customers aren’t going to put up with a $10 Big Mac. Not going to happen. It would be financial suicide.

McDonald’s sells fast, cheap, sweaty, greasy & salty food…because that’s what humans like best. It’s in our dna.

And as long as McDonald’s is truthful in reporting the nutritional content of their food, even us health & fitness advocates have to cut Ronald some slack and accept that we are the ones responsible for the food we put into ourselves and our kids.

Even if their ads are manipulative & less than honest.

Reference

 

Pre-Workout Caffeine to Get Stronger, Faster, Bigger and More Powerful

A new study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research indicates that the immediate ingestion of caffeine (6 mg·kg−1 body weight) prior to resistance training:

  1. Reduces the level of muscle fatigue and,
  2. Preserves leg power throughout the training session,
  3. With zero increase in muscle damage

Which is awesome if you are interested in getting stronger, faster, bigger and/or more powerful.

In the study, six male handball athletes ingested placebo (PLA) or caffeine (CAF) (6 mg·kg−1 body mass) capsules on 2 different occasions. Sixty minutes after ingestion of the capsules, serum CAF levels were evaluated.

Thereafter, all participants performed a protocol of vertical jumps (VJs). The protocol consisted of 4 sets of 30 seconds of continuous VJs with 60 seconds of recovery between sets.

Blood lactate (LAC) and creatine kinase (CK) levels were determined before and after the protocol.

We found significant differences in serum CAF levels between PLA (0.09 ± 0.18 µg·ml−1) vs. CAF (6.59 ± 4.44 µg·ml−1) (p < 0.001).

Caffeine elicited a 5.23% (p≤ 0.05) improvement in the leg power compared with PLA. The CAF trial displayed higher LAC (p ≤ 0.05) compared with PLA (6.26 ± 2.01 vs. 4.39 ± 2.42 mmol·L−1, respectively) after protocol of VJs, whereas no difference in CK was observed between trials (p > 0.05).

These results indicate that immediate ingestion of CAF (6 mg·kg−1 body weight) can reduce the level of muscle fatigue and preserve leg power during the test, possibly resulting in increase in LAC. There was no increase in muscle damage, which indicates that immediate administration of (6 mg·kg−1 body weight) CAF is safe. Thus, nutritional interventions with CAF could help athletes withstand a greater physiological overload during high-intensity training sessions.

The results of this study would be applicable to sports and activities that require repetitive leg power.

What does this mean to you?

  • To properly follow the protocol used in the study, you need to ingest 6mg of caffeine per 1kg of body weight ( 2.72mg per 1lb of bodyweight)
  • There is approximately 100mg of caffeine in 1 cup of coffee
  • Which means that a 150lb trainee would need to drink 408mg or 4 cups of coffee before training….probably not the best idea if you don’t want to spend your workout in the bathroom.
  • The same caffeine-math applies to tea, Red Bull, 5 Hour Extra Strength Energy Shot (the strongest energy drink with 242mg of caffeine), etc..

As a result, you are going to need to purchase some caffeine pills if you want to take advantage of this caffeinated training boost.

And of course, not everyone’s GI tract is going to do well with all that caffeine.

BUT…if your gut is okay with a big dose of caffeine AND you’re looking to break through a training plateau, supplementing with caffeine immediately pre-workout could be exactly what you’re looking for.

ronnie coleman squat

NOTE: If you try this caffeine protocol, I would love to hear how it works for you. Feel free to contact me on Twitter or Facebook.

Reference

NEW Research : Drinking Green Tea Improves Aerobic Capacity

A new study finds  that daily tea catechin consumption (combined with a twice weekly cycling program) improved aerobic capacity significantly in a group a Japanese males.

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Previous studies found that dietary supplementation with tea catechins combined with exercise improved endurance capacity in mice.

This is the first study (that I could find on PubMed) aimed to test the aerobic capacity of humans supplementing with tea catechins.

This new (8-week) study conducted on sixteen Japanese non-athlete males shows that daily tea catechin consumption (500 ml test beverage with 570 mg tea catechins) combined with a twice weekly cycling program improved aerobic capacity significantly when compared to the placebo group.

  • Aerobic capacity was evaluated by indirect calorimetry and near-infrared spectroscopy during graded cycle exercise.

  • Catechin beverage consumption was associated with a significantly higher ventilation threshold during exercise and a higher recovery rate of oxygenated hemoglobin and myoglobin levels after graded cycle exercise when compared to subjects receiving the placebo beverage.

These results indicate that daily consumption of tea catechins increases aerobic capacity when combined with semiweekly light exercise, which may be due to increased skeletal muscle aerobic capacity.

Disclaimer:

This research was conducted by researchers who work for the Biological Science Laboratories of Kao Corporation….who just happen to sell a green tea fitness supplement beverage.

img58097202

Which doesn’t mean that the science is bogus. Just something to be aware & skeptical of…just like any good scientist.

In green tea’s favor is a ton of science showing a wide range of health benefits associated with green tea catechins.  IMHO, it isn’t unlikely that green tea catechins probably have a positive effect on your aerobic capacity. There just isn’t any science (other than this study) on this subject.

But there will be. If you’re interested, I have set up an PubMed feed for “green tea & aerobic capacity” Click on the link and you will have access to the latest published research on how green tea catechins improve (or don’t) aerobic capacity.

 

Reference

Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry Journal

A Cheap and Effective Diet to Lose Weight Quickly

Recently, one of my clients asked me to assist one of her friends who:

  1. needed to lose weight quickly (in order to be eligible for surgery)
  2. was low on funds

Normally, my training clients are fairly well off, so the diets I usually recommend are loaded with fresh fruits & veg, natural (not factory farmed) meat, healthy oils and a variety of health, performance & weight-loss supplements.

With constraints on time and money, I turned to my good friends…dietary fiber and butyrate.

For those of you that don’t know, butyrate is created as fiber is fermented in your gut. And in addition to a LOT of health benefits generated by this fiber/butyrate process, eating a high fiber/butyrate diet results in:

So here’s what we did

Client Info:

  • 297 lb female
  • Hypertension
  • Exercise limitations
  • No known food allergies or other food constraints
  • Needs to lose weight asap to be eligible for a required surgery
  • No extra income for personal training, supplements, etc

Exercise Plan

Due to her medical issue, the only exercise I could recommend is a daily walking routine (10,000+ steps) and mobility/flexibility training in the evening before bed

Overall Diet Theory

  • Low cost
  • High fiber & butyrate
  • Boring & predictable – making meal prep simple and reducting opportunities to “accidentally” cheat
  • Low time commitment – which is always a bonus

For Breakfast….EVERY day

Oatmeal Custard…..mmmmmmmm good

  • Oatmeal – 1 cup dry large flakes
  • Water – 2 cups
  • 1 XL egg

Recipe here

Optional Toppings

  • Peanut butter & banana – 1 tbsp PB max
  • Raisins & cinnamon – 2 tbsp raisins max
  • Brown sugar & vanilla – 2 tbsp sugar max
  • Frozen berries – big handful
  • Chocolate chips – small handful max

Mix and match toppings as your heart desires…while keeping quantities in line

creamy-oats-4

For Lunch & Dinner….EVERY day

Rice & Lentil Pilaf

This recipe makes enough food for both lunch and dinner combined.

  • 2 cups of dry rice, barley, quinoa, buckwheat, etc
  • 1 cups of lentils (I prefer the French or Puy lentils…great taste)
  • Chopped garlic, onion & spices (to your taste)
  • 1-2 tbsp butter (grass-fed if possible) – added after cooking
  • Ajvar sauce (or similar flavorful sauce) to taste – added after cooking

ajvar_sauce

 

To drink throughout the day

  • Water (at least 8 glasses)
  • Tea and/or coffee – no sugar or dairy (herbal tea counts as 1 glass of water – coffee & tea count as 1/2 a glass of water)

Results

  • After 4 weeks, she has lost 18 lbs…from 297 to 279.
  • The first week, she lost only 2 lbs. Not sure why, but after the first week, the weight loss has been consistent from week to week.
  • She was a “little bit” gassy for the first two weeks, but that side-effect has resolved itself
  • Similarly, her trips to the bathroom have become healthier
  • Her appetite, especially at night when she is relaxing, is nothing compared to how it used to be. She has always been a late-night snacker.
  • She also told me that she thinks her allergies & her skin are much improved since starting the diet.

And while we can’t quantify anything other than the weight loss, none of her observations sound unrealistic…but as a science nerd, I am still going to take them with a grain of salt.

So there you go…A Cheap and Effective Diet to Lose Weight Quickly

 

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xanthohumol hops beer diabetes obesity hypertension cancer

Attention Beer Drinkers: Compound found in Hops lowers cholesterol, blood sugar and weight gain

If you’re a health & fitness nerd like myself, you already know that metabolic syndrome (abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, high serum triglycerides and/or low HDL cholesterol) is fast becoming the #1 health concern around the globe.

img_img_9781587798054_metabolic_syndrome_chartIf you’re a beer lover, you already know that one of the main ingredients in beer is hops.

hops20cones20for20beer20production_0

What you may not know is that, a recent study at Oregon State University has identified specific intake levels of xanthohumol, a natural flavonoid found in hops, significantly improved some of the underlying markers of metabolic syndrome in laboratory animals and also reduced weight gain.

Unfortunately for the beer drinkers out there, while xanthohumol is found in beer, it would take 3,500 pints per day for a 70 kg /  human to get enough xanthohumol as was used in the study.

And I’m pretty sure that the calories found in 3,500 pints of beer would counteract all of the health benefits of the xanthohumol.

big-belly-means-inflammation

What is Xanthohumol and how does it work?

  • Xanthohumol is a natural flavonoid found in hops and beer.
  • As it pertains to metabolic syndrome, xanthohumol has been shown to decrease levels of LDL (the “bad” cholesterol), lower insulin levels and reduce levels of IL-6, a biomarker of systemic inflammation.
  • And if that wasn’t enough, there is research hinting that xanthohumol may be a potent anti-cancer agent.

How cool is that…a substance, found naturally in beer, may turn out to be a potent (and inexpensive) way to prevent obesity, prevent type 2 diabetes, prevent hypertension, prevent cholesterol jammed arteries…and prevent obesity.

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What does this research mean to me…right NOW????

Not a whole heck of a lot.

  • On one hand, you can go online and buy xanthohumol supplements.
  • On the other hand, all of the research conducted on xanthohumol has been done on animals – no human studies. As a result, we have no idea of effective dosage and SAFETY.

My advice?  Stay tuned for more research.

Reference

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Is Lithium Orotate about to become the hot supplement for 2016? Research says…maybe.

In a recent study, conducted on female and male Drosophila – aka fruit flies, researchers found that supplementing with lithium resulted in:

  • Increased life span
  • Improved health over the course of that increased life span
  • A reduction in triglycerides
  • An increase in resistance to stress

According to the researchers, lithium does this by inhibiting glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) and activating the transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor (NRF-2).

The researchers concluded that “the discovery of GSK-3 as a therapeutic target for aging will likely lead to more effective treatments that can modulate mammalian aging and further improve health in later life”.

 

Castillo-Quan et al. Graphical abstract-2

This research builds upon a previous study that:

  1. Tested lithium supplements directly on C. elegans worms, and
  2. Observed how natural lithium consumption (water supply) affected the life span of HUMANS.

In this study, the researchers found “an inverse correlation between drinking water lithium concentrations and all cause mortality in 18 neighboring Japanese municipalities with a total of 1,206,174 individuals. They also found that exposure to a comparably low concentration of lithium chloride extends life span of C. elegans.

They concluded that when taken together, these findings indicate that long-term low-dose exposure to lithium may exert antiaging capabilities and unambiguously decreases mortality in evolutionary distinct species (aka C.elegans worms).

What does this mean to you?

Right now…not a whole lot. For two big reasons:

Reason #1

The most up to date research has been done on worms & fruit flies, and it will be a while before proper human studies have been completed…and even longer before your family doctor starts handing out scrips for lithium orotate.

Reason #2

All of the lithium / longevity research seems to use lithium chloride as it’s source of lithium. Which could be a problem when we come to doing human research.

And as with most drugs, dosage frequently means the difference between a “good” drug and a “bad” drug.

In regard to lithium, dosage for bipolar patients is a true balancing act, between managing the symptoms of mania and it’s negative effects on the central nervous & renal systems. At high enough doses, lithium can be lethal.

Here’s where it gets interesting…

There is one version of lithium that has become popular in the “alternative medicine” world – lithium orotate.

While the research is limited, a 1979 study in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology found that lower doses of lithium orotate as compared to lithium carbonate may achieve therapeutic brain lithium concentrations and relatively stable serum concentrations.

That would mean that we might be able to get all the positives (life extension, better health, etc) of lithium supplementation without the negatives that increased dosages incur.

Of course….the science looking at the safety and efficacy of lithium orotate is very, very, very limited.

Hopefully, as more researchers (and drug companies) get excited about the potential use of lithium as a minor fountain of youth, the quantity and quality of lithium orotate research will increase.

Stay tuned.

 

Reference

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Obesity in Canada

Yesterday, the Canadian Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology released their report on the state of obesity in Canada.

Included in that report is a series of 21 recommendations.

As a health/fitness/politics junkie, this report is like catnip to me, so I was pretty eager to get my grubby little paws on a copy.

Let’s take a look inside….

obesity in canada

The Cost of Obesity in Canada

The committee’s findings show the vast scope of this epidemic:

  • Each year 48,000 to 66,000 Canadians die from conditions linked to excess weight;
  • Nearly two thirds of adults and one third of children are obese or overweight; and
  • Obesity costs Canada between $4.6 billion and $7.1 billion annually in health care and lost productivity

In short: Canada’s obesity problem is way too big to be ignored

How did this happen???

1. Nutrition

In terms of eating habits, the committee was told that since the 1980s, Canadians have decreased their intake of high fat foods and increased intakes of fruits and vegetables, as recommended by the food guide. However, consumption of processed, ready-to-eat and snack foods have shown the largest increase over this period.

Over this period of time (80s – present), a review of Canada’s food guide reveals that Canadians have been told to switch…

  • from a diet of a modest number of daily servings reflecting a balance of whole foods
  • to a low fat diet that permits significantly more servings per day, a large proportion of which should be grain products, or carbohydrates.

The committee was told that, as a result, the food guide may be recommending a diet that is nutritionally insufficient with respect to vitamins D and E, potassium and choline and that only by eating artificially fortified and highly-processed cereals can the diet provide adequate levels of calcium, iron and vitamin B12

  • According to 2012 data only 40% of Canadians are eating even the lower recommended number of fruit and vegetables per day, 5 servings.
  • The food guide recommends that adults should be consuming closer to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

At the same time, Manuel Arango, of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, indicated that as much as 62% of the Canadian diet can be categorized as highly-processed, a percentage that has been rising in recent decades at the expense of whole foods.

As a consequence of the increased intake of highly processed foods, sugar consumption has increased dramatically from 4 pounds annually per person 200 years ago to 151 pounds annually per person today.

The overwhelming consensus among witnesses with respect to food consumption trends was that the consequence of Health Canada’s evolving food guide and the increasing variety and availability of processed and ready-to-eat foods has been a pronounced decrease in consumption of whole foods and alarming increase in the consumption of ultra-processed foods.

As a result, Canadians are eating too much calorie-rich and nutrient-poor food.

In short: Canadians eat too much processed food and not enough real food. 

2. Physical Activity (or lack thereof)

Regarding physical activity, the committee heard that the participation rate in organized sport among Canadians has not declined in recent decades, and may have increased. However, several witnesses emphasized that although participation in such activities is encouraged, it does not by itself ensure that Canadians, especially children, are getting sufficient exercise.

They described how many of these activities include a significant amount of sedentary time and that they tend to lead people into thinking that they are doing more than enough to be considered as being physically active. Members heard, for example, sports such as hockey, soccer or basketball include a lot of instruction time outside of games, and a lot of bench time during games, when participants are idle.

More importantly, several witnesses suggested that it is the decline in active, free play among children and a decline in the activities of daily living among adults that have primarily contributed to an overall decrease in physical activity.

In 2011 the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology  developed separate, evidence-based physical activity guidelines for four age-groups; children, adolescents, adults and seniors.

The physical activity guidelines recommend:

  • 180 minutes per day for toddlers and pre-schoolers,
  • 60 minutes a day for children and youth up to 17 years of age,
  • 150 minutes per week for adults aged 18-64 years including some bone and muscle strengthening exercises,
  • and similar guidance for seniors over 65 years with exercises aimed at improving balance and reducing the risk of falls.

In addition the guidelines recommend that:

  • children under four not be sedentary for more than one hour at a time.
  • Children and youth are advised to limit screen time to no more than two hours per day while limiting sedentary behaviour, indoor activities and motorized transport.

Unfortunately, a minority of Canadians are meeting these goals.

Although 50% of Canadians believe they meet the physical activity guidelines when asked, in fact, when objectively measured, only 15% of adults are actually getting the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week.

On average, Canadian adults obtain only 12 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day.

Similarly, children and youth are largely failing to meet the recommended 60 minutes of daily exercise. According to Elio Antunes, President of ParticipACTION, less than 9% of children and youth are sufficiently active, and the proportion of active kids decreases with age.

The committee was told that only 7% of 5-11 years olds meet the physical activity guidelines and this proportion drops to only 4% for adolescents.

With respect to the sedentary guidelines, the committee heard that less than 15% of 3-4 year olds and only 24% of 5-17 year olds are meeting the recommendations.

In fact, members were told that children and youth are spending 38 to 42 hours per week in front of television, desktops, laptops, ipads and smartphones.

In short:  While we think we have increased our rates of physical activity via structured exercise (sports leagues, gym memberships, personal trainers, etc), we haven’t….our rates of daily physical activity continue to drop while our rates of sitting on our butts staring at screens have continued to rise.

To make it even worse, we are setting up our kids to be even lazier than we are.

So….what are we going to do about it???

In the discussions of what we can do to reverse the trend of obesity in Canada, participants kept coming back to Canada’s anti-smoking strategy.

Despite the obvious distinction that smoking is a completely unnecessary practice while eating is essential, witnesses noted several lessons that we have learned from the anti-smoking campaign:

  1. the anti-smoking strategy employed several different approaches implemented by different levels of government.
  2. the evidence-base of the negative health consequences had to be elucidated and presented clearly to Canadians.
  3. the strategy had to bring about a societal change in terms of how smoking was viewed.
  4. the change in behaviour would take time.
  5. the strategy would not be popular with the industry.
  6. and finally, the federal government provided the leadership for a pan-Canadian approach.

In their comparison of the anti-smoking strategy to any anti-obesity strategy, witnesses continued to emphasize the need for a comprehensive, health-in-all-policies, whole-of-society approach.

The committee was told that policies, wherever possible, should encourage or facilitate the pursuit of healthy lifestyles. In this regard, witnesses suggested that a health lens, should be applied to a range of policy development, across departments and across all levels of government. An effective all-of government platform would encourage the development of provincial and regional initiatives that promote healthy lifestyles. As such, the committee would like to see the federal government take aggressive measures to help Canadians achieve and maintain healthy weights.

In short:  While Canada’s successful anti-smoking strategy can serve as an effective model, we have to remember that obesity is a much more complex problem and as such requires a more comprehensive solution.

In that spirit, the “Obesity in Canada” Committee has come up with 21 suggestions for reversing Canada’s obesity problem.

Here’s the list….

Recommendation 1

The committee recommends that the federal government, in partnership with the provinces and territories and in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, create and implement a National Campaign to Combat Obesity which includes goals, timelines and annual progress reports.

@healthhabits says:  This is exactly the kind of thing government should be good at. Bringing all sorts of disparate stakeholders together to work together towards a common goal. IMHO, this is a necessary step.

Recommendation 2

The committee recommends that the federal government:

  • Immediately conduct a thorough assessment of the prohibition on advertising food to children in Quebec; and,
  • Design and implement a prohibition on the advertising of foods and beverages to children based on that assessment.

@healthhabits says:  Quebec has had a prohibition on the advertising of all food and beverages to children under the age of 13 under its Consumer Protection Act11 for many years. Studying the effectiveness of this program to determine if it should be rolled out nationwide makes sense to me.

Recommendation 3

The committee recommends that the federal government:

  • Assess the options for taxation levers with a view to implementing a new tax on sugar-sweetened as well as artificially-sweetened beverages; and,
  • Conduct a study, and report back to this committee by December 2016, on potential means of increasing the affordability of healthy foods including, but not limited to, the role of marketing boards, food subsidies and the removal or reduction of existing taxes.

@healthhabits says:  Skip the study and just go ahead and slap a tax on sugar-sweetened as well as artificially-sweetened beverages AND take ALL of that money and use it to subsidize un-processed (aka real) food

Recommendation 4

The committee further recommends that the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada immediately:

  • Address the recommendations made by the Auditor General with respect to the Nutrition North program and report back to this committee on its progress by December 2016

@healthhabits says:  Northern communities are much worse off in terms of overall nutrition and the cost of nutritious food in particular. Canada’s north is one giant food desert. As such, it may require special (aka expensive) intervention.

Recommendation 5

The committee further recommends that the federal government conduct assessments of the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit, the Working Income Tax Benefit and the Universal Child Care Benefit with a view to determining how fiscal measures could be used to help Canadians of lower socio-economic status, including our Aboriginal population, choose healthy lifestyle options.

@healthhabits says:  Skip the assessment, ditch the tax credits. They are designed to reward the well off & ignore the poor…which is just plain stupid as the poor are the ones driving Canada’s obesity epidemic. If we want to save healthcare & improve economic productivity, any physical activity incentives need to be directed primarily at the poor & secondarily at more affluent Canadians.

Recommendation 6

The committee recommends that the Minister of Health immediately undertake a complete revision of Canada’s food guide in order that it better reflect the current state of scientific evidence. The revised food guide must:

  • Be evidence-based;
  • Apply meal-based rather than nutrient-based principles;
  • Effectively and prominently describe the benefits of fresh, whole foods compared to refined grains, ready-to-eat meals and processed foods; and,
  • Make strong statements about restricting consumption of highly processed foods.

@healthhabits says:  All of these four recommendations sound great. 

Recommendation 7

The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health revise the food guide on the guidance of an advisory body which:

  • Comprises experts in relevant areas of study, including but not limited to nutrition, medicine, metabolism, biochemistry, and biology; and,
  • Does not include representatives of the food or agriculture industries.

@healthhabits says:  Agree 100%. Economic bias should not be allowed in Canada’s Food Guide…even if food lobbyists support an MPs re-election campaign.

Recommendation 8

The committee therefore recommends that the Minister of Health prohibit the use of partially hydrogenated oils, to minimize trans fat content in food, unless specifically permitted by regulation.

@healthhabits says:  Agree 100%

Recommendation 9

The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health:

  • Reassess the daily value applied to total carbohydrates based on emerging evidence regarding dietary fat and the fat promoting nature of carbohydrates;
  • Ensure that the regulatory proposals for serving size have addressed all of the concerns raised by stakeholders during public consultation, and,
  • Require that the daily intake value for protein be included in the Nutrition Facts table.

@healthhabits says:  Every few years, nutrition experts flip-flop their positions on the relative healthfullness of the different macronutrients. One decade, we are supposed to avoid fat…then it’s carbs…then it’s “too much” protein, then we’re back to fats…and so on…

My suggestion is to avoid making blanket statements on the healthfullness (or lack thereof) of any macronutrient.

There is nothing wrong with eating fat or carbs or protein.

The problems start when people:

  • start eating excessive quantities of overall calories
  • demonize a single macronutrient and replace it with a highly-processed substitution
  • choose poor quality highly-processed food over real food – fruit, veg, seeds, meat, etc.

With all of this said, I think that the consumer needs as much info about the quality of the food they are eating AND the gov’t can help them by requiring a total nutritional profile of every food product be made available on the company’s website

Recommendation 10

The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health assess whether sugar and starch should be combined under the heading of total carbohydrate within the Nutrition Facts table and report back to this committee by December 2016.

@healthhabits says:  Give us sugar totals, starch totals AND total carb totals.

Recommendation 11

The committee therefore recommends that the Minister of Health implement strict limits on the use of permitted health claims and nutrient content claims based on a measure of a food’s energy density relative to its total nutrient content.

@healthhabits says:  Agree 100%. I would also require any nutritional claims require scientific proof. Links to that science should be available from the products page on the company website. Make a claim…back it up.

Recommendation 12

The committee therefore recommends that the Minister of Health:

  • Immediately undertake a review of front-of-package labelling approaches that have been developed in other jurisdictions and identify the most effective one;
  • Report back to this committee on the results of the review by December 2016;
  • Amend the food regulations to mandate the use of the identified front-of-package approach on those foods that are required to display a Nutrition Facts table; and,
  • Encourage the use of this labelling scheme by food retailers and food service establishments on items not required to display a Nutrition Facts table.

@healthhabits says:  If you sell food in a package, you should be required to have a Nutrition Facts table as part of the packaging. As well, a website url pointing to a page with more complete nutrition info about the product should be included as well.

Recommendation 13

The committee therefore recommends that the Minister of Health encourage nutrition labelling on menus and menu boards in food service establishments.

@healthhabits says:  This is a little vague. How about something more specific like…calories, macronutrients, allergens listed in small print on the menu AND a more thorough nutritional analysis for each item on a separate booklet…and on their website as well.

Recommendation 14

The committee therefore recommends that the federal government increase funding to ParticipACTION to a level sufficient for the organization to:

  • Proceed with Active Canada 20/20; and
  • Become the national voice for Canada’s physical activity messaging.

@healthhabits says:  Based upon what I have seen from ParticipACTION in the past few years, I am not sure if giving them more money is the best idea. 

It may be simpler and more effective for Health Canada to hire the same PR flacks that put together Canada’s anti-smoking campaign and get them to focus on a “exercise more : play more : move more” style of message.

I’m not sure why we need ParticipACTION’s added layer of bureaucracy.

Why not…

  • hold a public contest for ad/pr/marketing firms to come up with their best message to get Canadian’s active again
  • have Canadians vote via the contest’s website/FB page/Twitter/etc
  • award the winner the contract
  • promote the heck out of the programs via internet, tv, radio and print.

And while we’re at it, why don’t we throw out a request to Canadian celebrities & athletes asking them to donate their time to film some short PSAs to add to the Health Canada Youtube channel.

Of course, I could be completely wrong about the fine folks who work for ParticipACTION. They may have exactly the kind of expertise to organize the kind of program needed to get Canadians active again.

Recommendation 15

The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health and the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities together use the recently established National Health and Fitness Day to promote the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines.

@healthhabits says:  I didn’t even know there was a National Health & Fitness Day. I guess that’s why they need the promotion.

Recommendation 16

The committee further recommends that the Public Health Agency of Canada provide sustained or bridged funding for pilot projects that have been assessed as effective.

@healthhabits says:  Hmmmmmmm who’s making the assessments? And what happens when they haven’t be PROVEN effective after a year or two of government $$$$ in their bank accounts?

Recommendation 17

The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health in discussion with provincial and territorial counterparts as well as non-governmental organizations already engaged in these initiatives:

  • Encourage improved training for physicians regarding diet and physical activity; • Promote the use of physician counselling, including the use of prescriptions for exercise;
  • Bridge the gap between exercise professionals and the medical community by preparing and promoting qualified exercise professionals as a valuable part of the healthcare system and healthcare team;
  • Address vulnerable populations, such as Canadians of lower socio-economic status including Canada’s Aboriginal population, and pregnant women;
  • Advocate for childcare facility and school programs related to breakfast and lunch programs, improved physical education, physical activity and nutrition literacy courses; and,
  • Engage provincial governments in discussions about infrastructure requirements for communities that encourage active transportation and active play.

@healthhabits says:  All of the suggestions sound great…and yet they are couched in the kind of government bureaucracy speak that makes me lose all confidence. Can we please get a little less talk about what we want to do and a little more talk about how we’re going to do it!!!

Recommendation 18

The committee further recommends that the federal government provide funding under the New Building Canada Fund to communities for infrastructure that enables, facilitates and encourages an active lifestyle, both indoors and outdoors.

@healthhabits says:  If that means more walking paths, more bike paths and more walkable neighbourhoods…I am on board. If that means funding for arenas & pools…I have to disagree. We need to keep a focus on the cost : benefit ratio. Tax dollars don’t grow on trees.

Recommendation 19

The committee therefore recommends that the Public Health Agency of Canada implement a strategy to increase the visibility, uptake and use of the Best Practices Portal by stakeholders across the country.

@healthhabits says:  Never heard of the Best Practices Portal. At first glance, it seems a little meh, but the idea is solid. Give Canada’s docs a dedicated site to source info on reducing obesity & related diseases seems like a great idea.

Recommendation 20

The committee therefore recommends that Health Canada design and implement a public awareness campaign on healthy eating based on tested, simple messaging. These messages should relate to, but not be limited to:

  • Most of the healthiest food doesn’t require a label;
  • Meal preparation and enjoyment;
  • Reduced consumption of processed foods; and,
  • The link between poor diet and chronic disease.

@healthhabits says:  See my comments on funding ParticipACTION above. We don’t need multiple groups coming up with different public awareness campaigns. Have a contest, using the Canadian people as judges, ask Canadian celebrities & athletes for assistance

As well, bring back Home Ec in school.

Recommendation 21

The committee further recommends that Health Canada and other relevant departments and agencies, together with existing expertise and trusted organizations, implement a comprehensive public awareness campaign on healthy active lifestyles.

@healthhabits says:  See above….physical activity, diet and healthy active lifestyles should all be promoted AT THE SAME TIME.

 

What do you think???

Hit me up on Twitter or Facebook if you want to discuss.

canada is the worlds fittest country

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Research Proves Junk Food Advertising Causes Childhood Obesity

Back in the “olden days”, tobacco companies created marketing campaigns like this…

children_49

…and this…

young_35

…and this…

young_07

…in an attempt to make their product seem healthy, family-friendly and to CAPTURE THE YOUTH MARKET.

Because they knew that:

  1. Kids are more susceptible to marketing than adults
  2. People who start smoking as kids are likely to be life-long smokers
  3. Targeting children is the most effective business strategy

“Younger adults are the only sources of replacement smokers” – RJ Reynolds, 1984

“Today’s teenager is tomorrow’s potential regular customer, and the overwhelming majority of smokers first begin to smoke while still in their teens… The smoking patterns of teenagers are particularly important to Philip Morris.” – Philip Morris 1981

“The ability to attract new smokers and develop them into a young adult franchise is key to brand development.” – 1999 Philip Morris report

“They got lips? We want them.” – Reply of an RJ Reynolds representative when asked the age of the kids they were targeting

But of course, that happened way back in the olden days, before we got smart and told tobacco companies to stop giving our kids cancer. Nowadays, we would never let an industry knowingly make profits by making our kids sick….would we?

fat-kid-eating-chips-watching-tv

According to this meta-analysis of all of the available scientific research, we know for a fact that unhealthy food advertising does increase unhealthy food intake in children…but not in adults.

And IMHO, that’s because children are children and lack the awareness & experience to resist the siren call of Madison Ave mind control.

According to lead researcher Dr Emma Boyland : “Through our analysis of these published studies I have shown that food advertising doesn’t just affect brand preference – it drives consumption. Given that almost all children in Westernised societies are exposed to large amounts of unhealthy food advertising on a daily basis this is a real concern.

“Small, but cumulative increases in energy intake have resulted in the current global childhood obesity epidemic and food marketing plays a critical role in this. We have also shown that the effects are not confined to TV advertising; online marketing by food and beverage brands is now well established and has a similar impact.

“On the basis of these findings, recommendations for enacting environmental strategies and policy options to reduce children’s exposure to food advertising are evidence-based and warranted.”

And just in case anyone is confused about the health effects of childhood obesity, here’s what the CDC has to say:

Health Effects of Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being.

Immediate health effects:

  • Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
  • Obese adolescents are more likely to have prediabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels indicate a high risk for development of diabetes.
  • Children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.

Long-term health effects:

  • Children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are therefore more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.6  One study showed that children who became obese as early as age 2 were more likely to be obese as adults.
  • Overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk for many types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix, and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

What does this mean to you?

 

  • Advertisers used to market tobacco to children
  • When enough parents were convinced that tobacco was bad for their kids, they demanded (via gov’t) that advertising tobacco to kids be stopped immediately.
  • Today, advertisers market processed junk food to children
  • Some of us (me, you, World Health Organization, CDC, American Psychological Association, etc) are convinced that (1) processed junk food is bad for our kids and (2) our kids are susceptible to junk food advertising.

Unfortunately, not enough parents are convinced…and until they are, their kids are at a higher risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer,  osteoarthritis, and many types of cancer including cancer of the breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix, and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

What can we do?

Thanks to the wonders of social media & the interweb, all you need to do is share this article on Facebook and Twitter.

All we need is one @KimKardashian retweet and those corporate childhood obesity peddlers are screwed  🙂

Reference

 

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Coronary Heart Disease : New Research Blames Sugar and Exonerates Saturated Fat

For the past 60+ years, doctors have been telling us that saturated fat is responsible for the high number of people dying from coronary heart disease.

These recommendations have been largely based on the observational studies conducted by American scientist Dr. Ancel Keys. In his research, Dr. Keys observed that people who ate higher levels of saturated fat were prone to elevated serum cholesterol and were more likely to expire due to coronary heart disease.

Around the same time that Dr. Keys was presenting his research, another scientist, Dr. John Yudkin, came to a different conclusion – that it was excessive consumption of processed sugars that was driving the increase in coronary heart disease.

And for the next 60 years, both hypotheses have been defended with a succession of studies that:

  1. Observed what people ate
  2. Hypothesized which aspect of that complex diet of carbohydrates, protein, fats, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, etc was responsible for causing coronary heart disease

Unfortunately for us “normal people” who are looking to ways to live longer & better, this kind of science is pretty darn sketchy. Here’s why:

If you have pizza for dinner tonight, Dr. Keys would tell you that the saturated fat found in the cheese & pepperoni is bad for your heart. Conversely, Dr. Yudkin would blame the processed flour used to make the pizza crust.

So…who’s right?

If we rely on observational studies to answer this question, we will never come to a consensus. People don’t eat individual nutritional components…we eat FOOD. We eat meals in which we mix carbs and fats and proteins together.

Observational studies do nothing to separate those components and because of this…this kind of study is next to useless.

Luckily for us health-nerds, in the past fifty years, researchers have added to the observational studies with a giant body of research employing basic science, epidemiology and clinical trial data to provide us with a clearer picture of the relationship between nutrition and CHD risk, CHD events and CHD mortality.

And in their new study, Drs. DiNicolantonio, O’Keefe & Lucan have analyzed the best of that research and concluded that:

  • Saturated fat can raise levels of total serum cholesterol (TC) but TC is only modestly associated with coronary heart disease (CHD) and that some types of saturated fat are actually protective against CHD.
  • Conversely, when saturated fats are replaced with refined carbohydrates, and specifically with added sugars, we see increases in low-density lipoproteins (LDL), increases in triglycerides and decreases in high-density lipoproteins (HDL) that are shown to increase your odds of CHD.

Additionally, diets high in sugar may induce many other abnormalities associated with elevated CHD risk, including elevated levels of glucose, insulin, and uric acid, impaired glucose tolerance, insulin and leptin resistance, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and altered platelet function.

Does this mean that all sugars / carbs are bad?

NO, because while the body of research indicates that “a diet high in added sugars has been found to cause a 3-fold increased risk of death due to cardiovascular disease”, that doesn’t mean that all sugar/carbs are created alike.

Like some saturated fats are cardio-protective, we know that natural sugars found in whole fruits, grains and vegetables are not causing coronary heart disease.

It’s the processed fructose-containing sugars like sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup found in highly processed junk foods that are the problem.

 

 

For a more detailed look at the research, check out the link below.

Reference

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Researchers Find a Link Between Excess Dietary Sugar and Breast Cancer

 

Researchers at the University of Texas – MD Anderson Cancer Center have found an alarming link between high amounts of dietary sugar and an increased risk of breast cancer and metastasis to the lungs.

And we’re not talking crazy-no-one-would-ever-eat-that-much-sugar levels of sugar consumption

In the study, the researchers found that lab mice who ate sucrose (table sugar) comparable to levels of the typical Western diet showed increased tumor growth and metastasis.

Previous research have shown this link between dietary sugar consumption and breast cancer development…with inflammation thought to be the cause.

In this new study, the researchers were able to identify sugar’s effect on enzymatic signaling pathway known as 12-LOX and a related fatty-acid called 12-HETE which is causing the cancer growth.

“The current study investigated the impact of dietary sugar on mammary gland tumor development in multiple mouse models, along with mechanisms that may be involved,” said co-author Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., professor of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine. “We determined that it was specifically fructose, in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, ubiquitous within our food system, which was responsible for facilitating lung metastasis and 12-HETE production in breast tumors.”

Cohen added that the data suggested that dietary sugar induces 12-LOX signaling to increase risks for breast cancer development and metastasis.

What does this mean to you?

  1. This science is brand new, so there is no need to freak out and ban all sugar from your home.
  2. Even though it’s early days for this research, we have seen other studies linking excess sugar consumption and cancer, so while you probably don’t need to purge all sugar from your diet, it may be a good idea to at least limit your sugar consumption.
  3. Maybe avoid the Breast Cancer Sugar Cookies.

Reference

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Green Coffee Bean Extract for Weight Loss

The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar giant with hundreds of companies telling thousands of half-truths to separate you and your money.

Which supplements should you buy?

In an attempt to look past some of the supplement companies B.S., I employed the power of big data (via Google Trends) to identify the top 10 weight loss supplements….as decided by the millions of people who use Google to research weight loss supplements.

  • No marketing B.S.
  • No fraudulent claims from supplement companies
  • No advertorials masquerading as honest information

Just pure data collected by the giant brains at Google.

Supplement #9

Green coffee bean extract is made from coffee beans that have not yet been roasted.

Research shows that the roasting process of coffee beans reduces the amount of the chemical chlorogenic acid found in the bean’s natural “green” state. Therefore, green coffee beans have a higher level of chlorogenic acid compared to regular, roasted coffee beans.

It is the chlorogenic acid in green coffee which is thought to have health benefits for weight loss. 

In addition to these health benefits, there is some research indicating that green coffee bean extract may be helpful for:

How does Green Coffee Bean Extract promote weight loss?

The research is still in the early stages, but the commonly held belief is that green coffee bean extract promotes weight loss via the prevention of calories from carbohydrates being absorbed in the intestines.

In essence, green coffee bean extract is thought to work as a carb blocker...forcing the body to ignore carbs and allow them to leave the body as waste.

Green Coffee Bean Research

Want to learn more about green coffee bean extract & weight loss? Check out the science….

Where can I buy Green Coffee Bean Extract supplements?

Here are the best online sources for Green Coffee Bean Extract:

Note: If you make a purchase from one of these online retailers, I receive a 6-10% “finders fee” …almost enough to pay for this site. Thanks in advance 🙂

Like this article?

The info in this article came from my Special Report – The Top Weight Loss Supplements for 2016.  

The full report is available to @HealthHabits subscribers, so if you want to see numbers 8 – 1, subscribe now by clicking on the button below. Number 10 is available here.

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Chia Seed for Weight Loss

The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar giant with hundreds of companies telling thousands of half-truths to separate you and your money.

Which supplements should you buy?

In an attempt to look past some of the supplement companies B.S., I employed the power of big data (via Google Trends) to identify the top 10 weight loss supplements….as decided by the millions of people who use Google to research weight loss supplements.

  • No marketing B.S.
  • No fraudulent claims from supplement companies
  • No advertorials masquerading as honest information

Just pure data collected by the giant brains at Google.

Supplement #8

chiabanner

Chia (aka salvia hispanica) is a flowering plant from the mint family, native to Mexico & Guatemala.

Most famously known for the Chia Pets flogged on late-night tv back in the day, the chia seed has been found to be a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and as a treatment for:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease, and
  • Stroke

How does Chia Seed promote weight loss?

The fibre found in Chia is mostly insoluble and as such, absorbs a LOT of water as it travels through your digestive tract.

In addition to the relatively high levels of omega-3 fatty acids found in chia, it is this high fibre content that is responsible for chia being touted as a effective weight loss supplement.

  • As the chia fibre expands in your digestive tract, a feeling of satiety is created & hunger is reduced…leading to a reduction in calories consumed.
  • There is some thought that the high-fibre chia bolus traps other food sources and prevents them from being effectively digested…eventually being eliminated as waste.
  • There is also some research which indicates that chia helps to lower the blood sugar response to other carb-hydrates consumed at the same time as the chia. For this reason, chia is being used as an ingredient in traditional carbs foods (bread, pasta, etc) as a way to lower the glycemic index of those foods.

Chia Seed Research

Want to learn more about chia seeds & weight loss?  

Check out the science….​

Where can I buy Chia Seed supplements?

Here are the best online sources for Chia Seed:

Note: If you make a purchase from one of these online retailers, I receive a 6-10% “finders fee” …almost enough to pay for this site. Thanks in advance 🙂

Like this article?

The info in this article came from my Special Report – The Top Weight Loss Supplements for 2016.  

The full report is available to @HealthHabits subscribers, so if you want to see numbers 7 – 1, subscribe now by clicking on the button below. Number 10 is available here. Number 9 is here.

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Can You Be Fit AND Fat : Research Says NO

According to Swedish researchers, the idea that you can be Fat and Fit is 100% false.

In this study, it was found that obese men with a high level of aerobic fitness are more likely to die than normal weight men with below average levels of aerobic fitness.

The Science

Looking at a group of 1,317,713 Swedish men with a median age of 29, researchers investigated the association between aerobic fitness, obesity and death.

Here’s what they found…

  • Men in the top 20% of aerobic health had a 48% lower risk of death from any cause as compared to the bottom 20%.

man runningIn regard to the “fit and fat” hypothesis, the researchers found that men of a normal weight, regardless of their fitness level, were at a lower risk of death compared to obese men who were in the top 25% of aerobic fitness.

In fact, the men with extreme levels of obesity lost all of the benefits associated with aerobic fitness.

is it possible to be fat and fit

What does this mean to you?

  1. Fat and fit is a myth.
  2. While this study focused on men, it would be foolish to believe that overweight women are somehow different.
  3. Going for a run after eating a whole pizza is not a solution.
  4. Obesity is a killer.

Reference

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Caffeine for Weight Loss

 

The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar giant with hundreds of companies telling thousands of half-truths to separate you and your money.

Which supplements should you buy?

In an attempt to look past some of the supplement companies B.S., I employed the power of big data (via Google Trends) to identify the top 10 weight loss supplements….as decided by the millions of people who use Google to research weight loss supplements.

  • No marketing B.S.
  • No fraudulent claims from supplement companies
  • No advertorials masquerading as honest information

Just pure data collected by the giant brains at Google.

Supplement #10

caffeine banner.jpg

 

Caffeine is the 10th most popular weight loss supplement around the world. But weight loss is not all that caffeine is good for. In addition to being an essential part of my morning coffee ritual, caffeine is a chemical found in tea, cola, guarana, mate, etc…

How does caffeine work?

Caffeine works by stimulating the central nervous system (CNS), heart, muscles, and the centers that control blood pressure. Caffeine can raise blood pressure, but might not have this effect in people who use it all the time.

Caffeine can also act like a “water pill” that increases urine flow. But again, it may not have this effect in people who use caffeine regularly. Note – drinking caffeine during moderate exercise is not likely to cause dehydration

In addition to weight loss, caffeine has many other health-promoting uses, including:

  • mental alertness
  • pain reliever
  • asthma treatment
  • gallbladder disease treatment
  • ADHD treatment
  • low blood pressure treatment
  • as a cream to reduce skin redness & itching
  • athletic performance enhancer

How does Caffeine promote weight loss?

Caffeine promotes weight loss via two separate pathways:

  1. Appetite suppression. Research shows that caffeine reduces your desire to eat for a moderate period of time.
  2. Calorie burning. Studies have shown that caffeine stimulates thermogenesis — forcing your your body to generate heat and energy from digesting food.

In short, caffeine supplements promise to make you crave less food and burn more calories regardless of exercise.

 Caffeine Research

 Where can I buy Caffeine supplements?

In addition to your local health food or drugstore, I have listed some of the best online sources for Caffeine.

Note: If you make a purchase from one of these online retailers, I receive a 6-10% “finders fee” …almost enough to pay for this site. Thanks in advance 🙂

Like this article?

The info in this article came from my Special Report – The Top Weight Loss Supplements for 2016.  

The full report is available to @HealthHabits subscribers, so if you want to see numbers 9 – 1, subscribe now by clicking on the button below.

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Fish Oil Switches Fat Storage Cells into Fat Burning Cells

Researchers from Kyoto University have discovered that fish oil can switch your fat storage cells into fat burning cells.

Specifically, they found that consuming fish oil:

  1. Activates receptors in your digestive tract which…
  2. Engages your sympathetic nervous system…
  3. Causing fat storage cells to metabolize your fat

Background Info

Fact #1. You have three types of fat cells 

  • White fat – which stores calories and contributes to obesity
  • Brown fat – initially thought to exist only in babies, brown fat arises from infant muscles and is designed to help keep their little baby-bodies warm. “More recent imaging data suggested that adults, too, maintain some brown fat’.
  • Beige fat – similar looking to brown fat, beige fat doesn’t come from muscle, but is created by the “browning” of white fat in adult humans. It is found in “scattered pea-sized deposits beneath the skin near the collarbone and along the spine in adults”

Fact #2. Previous research has shown that fish oil has a number of powerful health benefits…including fat accumulation.

These two facts led the scientists at Kyoto U to investigate how fish oil and brown fat cells interacted.

The Study

Researchers fed a group of mice “fatty food” while feeding other mice “fatty food with fish oil additives.

The researchers found that mice who ate the fish oil supplement gained 5-10% less weight and 15-25% less fat compared to the non-fish oil eating mice.

 Figure 1: Fish oil intake reduced body weight gain and fat accumulation

srep18013-f1

Fish oil intake decreased body weight (A) and abdominal WAT (B) gain in mice. Mice were fed a control diet (C), control diet containing low-dose DHA-enriched fish oil (LD), control diet containing high-dose DHA-enriched fish oil (HD), control diet containing low-dose EPA-enriched fish oil (LE), and control diet containing high-dose EPA-enriched fish oil (HE) for 10 weeks. 

The scientists also found that the fish oil supplements caused an activation of the sympathetic nervous system, forcing white fat cells to transform into beige fat cells.

Figure 2: Fish oil intake induced UCP1 expression in interscapular BAT (brown fat) and inguinal WAT (white fat)

srep18013-f2

Fish oil intake induced UCP1 protein expression in interscapular BAT (A) and inguinal WAT (B). Fish oil intake also induced UCP1 mRNA expression in interscapular BAT (C) and inguinal WAT (D). Fish oil intake induced beige adipocyte-specific gene expression in interscapular BAT (E) and inguinal WAT (F). 

 

The researchers concluded that it was this transformation of white fat storage cells into beige fat burning cells that protected the lab mice from their “fatty food” diet.

What does this mean to you?

If you’re concerned about gaining or losing body fat…start eating more fatty fish and/or supplementing with fatty fish oils.

Fish Oil Supplements

Which Fish Should You Eat?

The following infographic shows which fatty fish are healthiest (re their good oil) and which fat are the healthiest (re low levels of mercury)

fish-omega3-mercury

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A Better Whey to Boost Your Health

Every year, bazillions of dollars are spent on drugs that promise to lower our cholesterol & triglycerides levels.

Some work, some don’t.

In a recent study, researchers discovered an inexpensive and yummy way to lower LDL cholesterol & triglycerides.

That’s right…I said yummy.

Here’s the plan/recipe

  • 45 grams of whey protein
  • 150 mg of supplemental calcium
  • 0.75 μg of vitamin D3
  • 2.5 g of prebiotic dietary fiber
  • 500 ml of water

Toss all these “healthy” ingredients into a blender with some frozen fruit and some cinnamon (for taste & GI control) and you’ve got a health booster that has been shown to have a significant effect on…

  1. Reducing low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels
  2. Reducing triglyceride levels

…in just 21 days.

And it tastes great too.

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“Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon”

According to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, “eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon.”

As news of this research spread around the web, Vegans reacted like this….

tumblr_lbvabxXijT1qbi71b

But wait…before everyone flips out…

Let’s take a closer look at the study

In this study, the Carnegie Mellon researchers were investigating how three different USDA-esque weight loss plans would impact the environment.

Here are the three diet plans

  1. Reducing caloric intake to achieve “normal” weight without shifting food mix…aka same diet as before, just less of it.
  2. Switching food mix to USDA recommended food patterns without reducing calories…aka “healthy” diet, same calories as before
  3. Reducing calories & switching to USDA recommended food patterns…aka “healthy diet” AND fewer calories

How did they measure the environmental impact?

To compare the three diets, the researchers calculated how…

  • growing,
  • processing,
  • shipping,
  • selling
  • and storing all the foods consumed in the three diets

…impacted energy use, blue water footprint and greenhouse gas emissions.

They crunched all that data to arrive at a series of environmental impact scores (energy, blue water, GHG) per kcal for each food.

From there, they calculated the overall energy, blue water & GHG scores for each of the three diets

Their findings?

Dietary Recommendation #1 resulted in a decrease in energy use, blue water footprint and GG emissions by approximately 9%.

Which makes sense…2000 calories of pizza is going to use less energy than 3000 calories of pizza.

Dietary Recommendation #2 increased energy use by 43%, increased blue water footprint by 16% and increased GHG emissions by 9%

The data showed that eating more fruits, vegetables, dairy & seafood bumped up the global footprint because of their relatively higher resource use and emissions per Calorie.

Even when the researchers dropped the caloric intake of the healthy food for Dietary Recommendation #3, they still saw an increase in energy use of 38%, an increase in blue water footprint of 10% and an increase in GHG emissions of 6%

And that’s where we get our headline…“Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon”

bacon

Even if you starve yourself on healthy food, you are harming the environment more than if you ate the standard American diet of grains & processed food.

This can’t be true, can it?

Yup…it’s true. But here’s why.

Our current food production system is geared towards producing the food most of us eat…processed grains and cheap fats & protein.

We are incredibly efficient at producing crap food. 

From farm to table, our mainstream food infrastructure is an amazing artificial organism.

Conversely, our infrastructure for healthy food is a joke in comparison. Small-scale healthy food producers give us amazing foodstuffs, but at a per-unit cost (financial & environmental) far in excess of their mainstream competitors.

If our healthy food producers had the infrastructure of our less-than-healthy food producers, they would match them for price & crush them in terms of environmental impact.

But they don’t and as a result, we are left comparing apples & oranges.

karl_smile

So cheer up my vegan brothers & sisters. And keep eating your fruits & veggies.

As more and more “normal” people start eating healthier, the financial & environmental costs of healthy food will drop.

Reference

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The Top Weight Loss Supplements for 2016

Unlike a lot of personal trainers, I am not a big fan of weight loss supplements.

In the 20+ years I have been transforming bodies, my clients have sculpted new bodies thanks to:

  1. A total commitment to eating healthy, and
  2. Exercising smarter.

However, there have always been a minority of clients that have needed some help in the form of supplements or pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, in the past 5 – 10 years, that small percentage has been growing and growing.

I don’t know if it’s…

  • genetically modified foods,
  • the chemicals found in processed food,
  • a lifetime of poor food choices manifesting as broken metabolisms

Whatever it is, more and more of my clients NEED weight loss supplements to help boost the effectiveness of their new diet and fitness routines.

Because of this, I have put together a report of the top weight loss supplements for 2016.

Starting with a list of 30 popular weight loss compounds, I used the big data of Google Trends to identify the most popular weight loss supplements as decided by the millions of people who use Google to research weight loss supplements.

  • No marketing B.S. 
  • No fraudulent claims from supplement companies
  • No advertorials masquerading as honest information

Just pure data collected by the giant brains at Google.

With all that data, I was able to identify:

  1. The top weight loss supplements for 2015, and more importantly 
  2. The projected top weight loss supplements for 2016.

SO….HOW DO YOU GET THE REPORT?

  • If you are an email subscriber to @healthhabits, you don’t have to do anything. A copy of the report should be sitting in your inbox right now. If not, shoot me an email, and I will get one to you asap.
  • If you don’t already subscribe to @healthhabits email updates, hit the button below, follow the sign-up procedure and a report  will be flying to your inbox in mere seconds.

Henry Rollins v.s. McDonalds

A lesson in nutrition from an unlikely source – Mr. Henry Rollins

enjoy

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Restaurant Revolution: When Healthier Menus = Healthier Profits & Healthier Kids

In April 2012, Silver DIner, a full-service family restaurant chain with 15 locations in Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey, made three major changes to its children’s menu in order to make healthier items easier to choose.

  • Meals were re-designed to meet or exceed nutrition standards set by the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program (59%, compared to 22% before the changes).
  • Healthy side dishes became the default choice – strawberries, mixed vegetables, or side salads–were automatically included with all kids’ meals by default.
  • And less-healthy choices such as french fries, soda and lemonade were removed from the menu.

NOTE: Fries and soda were still available…upon request.

What Happened Next?

  • Children’s meal prices increased by $0.79 for breakfasts and $0.19 for non-breakfast meals.
  • Restaurant revenue increased with yearly percent change as follows:
  • 2008-2009: +1.5%,
  • 2009-2010: −2.1%,
  • 2010-2011: +11.1%,
  • 2011-2012: +5.1%,
  • and 2012-2013: +5.1%.
  • Orders of healthy meals, strawberry and vegetable sides, milk, and juice increased
  • Orders of French fries, desserts and soda decreased
  • Total calories ordered by children decreased (684 kcal pre vs. 621 kcal post)
  • Except for the kids who requested un-healthy choices (935.0 pre vs. 942.9 post)

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Conclusions

  1. Chain restaurants can create healthier menus without alienating their ‘non-health-food’ patrons,
  2. Kids will eat healthier restaurant meals when menus are designed correctly,
  3. Chain restaurants can increase profits by making their menus healthier

Where do we go from here?

  • If I was a restaurant owner, I would consider taking a look at the Silver Diner kids menu and use it as a template for re-working my own kids menu
  • If I was a restaurant owner, I would consider applying the same menu format for the main menu as well
  • As a parent, I am going to send a link to this article to the restaurants I frequent most often. The number of obese children in our society is truly horrendous and we all need to pitch in to reverse this trend.

Please Help

Most people will never hear about this article, this research, this restaurant.

Please help by tweeting, sharing, pinning, tumbling, stumbling, etc.

Reference

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Junk Food Can Damage Your Metabolism In Just 5 Days

The human body is an amazing machine. Capable of:

  • Climbing mountains,
  • Adapting to environments as disparate as the arctic and the tropical rain forest.
  • Running for hundreds of kilometres at a stretch,
  • Lifting freakishly heavy weights.
  • Amazing technological advances,
  • Creating art that can elevate the soul

Unfortunately, what your body can’t do is consume junk food – aka the Standard American Diet – without starting to fall apart.

Here’s the science:

According to this new study, after just 5 days of eating a diet that included sausage biscuits, macaroni and cheese, and food loaded with butter, healthy college-age students experienced a significant change in how their muscles processed nutrients. And not for the better.

According to the researchers, eating a starchy, fatty diet disrupts how your muscles metabolize glucose, “which could lead to the body’s inability to respond to insulin”, leading to insulin insensitivity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and a reduced quantity & quality of life.

NOTE: In the study, the test diet was designed to have fat make up 55% of the calories – as opposed to a “normal” 30% fat diet – with the inclusion of foods such as sausage biscuits and mac & cheese. And while I agree that a diet in which 55% of the calories comes from fat can be called a “high-fat” diet, I would argue that it would be more accurate to call it a “high fat AND carb” diet or a “high fat AND starchy carb” diet or a “high fat AND high gluten” diet.

To infer that fat is the villain here may not be wholly accurate. We need a bit more research before we start blaming a single macronutrient.

What does this mean to you?

  1. As yummy as sausage biscuits smothered in gravy and bacon smells, you may not want to eat it very often. Your body hasn’t evolved (devolved) to handle this type of food.
  2. If you can’t resist the siren song of Mac ‘n Cheese, space it out with some healthy food, like a Big Salad, to help your muscles sensitive to insulin.
  3. The next time you hear about a study saying High-Fat or High-Carb diets are bad, take a closer look at what the researchers consider high-fat or high-carb.dia

Reference

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A Diet for People Who Can’t Stick to a DIet

No one likes dieting.  Just thinking of…

  • Counting calories, or
  • Eating fewer carbs, or
  • Avoiding white foods, or
  • Cutting back on fat, or
  • Living off of lemon juice, cayenne pepper & maple syrup, or
  • Writing down everything you eat, or
  • Eating nothing but kale, or
  • Drinking 20 glasses of water per day, or
  • Chewing each bite of food 20 times, or
  • Popping fat-burners, or
  • Taking pictures of every meal, or
  • Eating nothing but bacon, or
  • Spending too much bathroom time thanks to laxatives, or
  • Loading up on “natural” weight-loss supplements, or
  • Eating only raw foods…

…fills most of us with an almost unbearable sadness.

Let’s face it. Diets suck. 

healthhabits health fitness fat couple fit couple poster

  • Wouldn’t it be cool someone came up with an weight loss plan for people who can’t stick to a diet?
  • And wouldn’t it be cool if that weight loss plan was based on some solid science?
  • And wouldn’t it be cool if that weight loss plan was 100% free?
  • And wouldn’t it be cool if that weight loss plan gave you the weekends off?

Today is your lucky day!!!

Today I am going to tell you about the research conducted by Dr. Satchidananda Panda of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

Professor Panda and his associates are interested in understanding the molecular mechanism of the biological clock. In his lab, he “uses genetic, genomics and biochemical approaches to identify genes under circadian regulation in different organs and to understand the mechanism of such regulation.”

Luckily for us, two of his recent studies (see References below) have looked at how a time-restricted diet produces weight loss & prevents metabolic disease.

Here’s how it works

In his 2012 study – Time-Restricted Feeding without Reducing Caloric Intake Prevents Metabolic Diseases in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet  – Dr. Panda found that animals who had their food consumption restricted to an 8-hr window were protected against obesity, hyperinsulinemia, hepatic steatosis, inflammation and have improved motor coordination….even though they consumed an equivalent amount of calories compare to the control group which was allowed to eat whenever they wanted during the day.

diet health nutrition obesity healthhabits

Think about that…you can eat just as much as you NORMALLY do, but by restricting yourself to an 8 hour feeding window, you will

  • Prevent obesity,
  • Prevent insulin resistance,
  • Prevent leptin resistance,
  • Prevent type 2 diabetes,
  • Have a healthier liver,
  • Have lower levels of inflammation, and
  • Will be physically more coordinated.

But wait…it gets even better.

In his 2014 study – Time-Restricted Feeding Is a Preventative and Therapeutic Intervention against Diverse Nutritional Challenges – Dr. Panda looks at how time-restricted feed (8-9 hrs per day) works against PRE-EXISTING OBESITY.

health diet obesity healthhabits

What they found is that, even without restricting calories, instituting a 9-12 hour feeding period…

  • Reduces obesity,
  • Reverses the progression of type 2 diabetes,
  • Improves liver function and high cholesterol

…even when the little lab mice were allowed to…

  • Eat whenever they want on weekends
  • Chow down on high-fat, high-fructose, and high-sucrose diets throughout the week

What Does This Mean For You

It means that by restricting your food consumption to a 9-hour window during the work week, you can…

  • Keep eating your “normal” diet,
  • Lose body-fat,
  • Improve your liver function,
  • Lower your cholesterol,
  • Prevent type 2 diabetes,
  • Drink beer & eat nachos on the weekend

NOTE: I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but even though I am super-excited about this research, I want to prepare you for the possibility that further research may expose flaws in the theory. That’s the nature of science. For now, I suggest cautious optimism. Give this plan a try for a 4-6 week period and see how it works for you. After all, you are your own personal lab mouse.

And if you want to let me know how this plan works for you, contact me via social media. All my social media links are in the footer.

Please share this post via your social media platforms. This is great new science that deserves to be spread as far & wide as possible. Please share on all your platforms.

Reference

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John Oliver Bitch Slaps the Sugar Industrial Complex

For years & years & years, health nerds like me have used websites like this to:

  1. inform the public about the health problems caused by the over-consumption of sugar, and
  2. shame the processed food industry into cutting back on added sugars

And for years & years & years, most “normal” people never heard our tiny online cries from the health & fitness wilderness. The fact is, no one likes to be told that everything we eat is bad for us…especially from a bunch of health nazis with six-packs and personal trainers.

But recently, the mainstream media has (finally) caught on to what us health nazis have been saying…that processed foods loaded with extra sugar (and chemicals & crappy fats) are really, really bad for us.

And it’s not just the news networks and the documentary filmmakers. It’s political comedians like John Stewart, Stephen Colbert & John Oliver…

And this is fantastic news for the health of the nation…and really, really bad news for processed food producers who pump loads of extra sugars (and chemicals and crappy fats) into their products.

Because when a guy like John Oliver can…

  1. make you laugh out loud, while
  2. getting you really pissed off at the Sugar Industrial Complex (aka Big Food…aka the people who sell food in boxes with lots of ingredients that no one can pronounce)

…you can bet that a lot more “normal” people are going to get the message.

And as they say, laughter is the best medicine.

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A Technological Revolution for Health and Fitness Nerds

Quick post for all you fitness nerds out there.

Today is the day that I finally get my greedy little hands on a Push Strength workout/fitness tracker. As an early indiegogo supporter, I am one of the first people to have one of these bad-boys and because I love y’all so much, I am going to share the wealth.

Starting tonight, I am going to use my Push Strength band to start testing:

  • The real-world effectiveness of different exercise tools – machines vs free weights vs bands vs body-weight
  • The real-world effectiveness of different training routines
  • The real-world effectiveness of different exercises – pistol squats vs bodybuilding squats vs power squats

And because I love all my fitness friends, I will be sharing all that glorious data here at Health Habits.

But that’s not all….

Later this month, I will be meeting with the CEO of Tell Spec to discuss when I can expect to get my grubby paws on one of the beta units as well as organizing a series of amazing tests with all the other beta testers.

For those of who who don’t already know, Tell Spec uses a handheld scanner in concert with a learning algorithm and a cloud-based database to create a tool that will tell you exactly what is in the food you eat…or don’t eat.

At present, the “TellSpec BETA identifies calories, macronutrients (fats, protein and carbohydrates) and a limited number of ingredients all at reasonable concentrations in food”. And while that would be cool enough, it’s going to get way, way cooler.

As us beta-testers start scanning different foods, we are building the database, pushing the algorithm to evolve…and improving the scope & accuracy of the technology. This means that by the time TellSpec is ready for sale to the general public, it will be able to tell you exactly is in those chicken mcnuggets you scarfed down for lunch.

And while that is amazing enough for us health nerds, what it also means is that the entire processed food industry is going to be in for a rude awakening. Instead of having to deal with a small group of health nuts trying to spread the gospel of healthy eating, they are going to have to deal with a LOT of normal Moms & Dads who are going to be pissed off with the crap they are being sold.

pink-slime-jon-stewart-2

And if that wasn’t cool enough, the Tell Spec could be a actual lifesaver for all those kids with serious food allergies. Instead of trusting labels, kids armed with a Tell Spec scanner can make sure that that nut-free cookie is actually nut free.

How cool is that?

Stay tuned…the technological revolution for us health nerds has just begun.

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LEPTIN

Is Leptin Gene Therapy the Future of Weight Loss?

Every year, millions of “weight loss” dollars are spent by pharmaceutical companies in the search for a drug that can prevent and/or reverse obesity. And every year, billions of “weight loss” dollars are spent by consumers on supplements, gym memberships, pills, potions & lotions.

Unfortunately, every year…almost all of that money is wasted as obesity rates creep higher & higher…pushing up the number of people with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, etc.

But what if instead of looking for a drug or a vitamin or a diet or a workout…the solution to obesity was genetic therapy?

  • What if there was a way to reverse obesity, type 2 diabetes, etc thanks to a combination of leptin genes and a “safe” adeno-associated virus delivered to you via an IV injection?
  • What if researchers were already working on this?
  • What if the research has already seen success in lab mice studies?

Would that get you excited about a scientific cure for obesity & it’s related lifestyle diseases?

Assuming you answered yes to the above question, I will continue with a brief overview of the science for all you weight-loss geeks.

LEPTIN

A Very Brief Overview of the Science

  • Researchers use adeno-associated viruses as a vehicle to deliver leptin into your body
  • The virus/leptin combo is injected into test subjects (mice) via an IV
  • The nonpathogenic virus infects the host’s cells with the leptin gene
  • The expression of the leptin gene is played out over a long period of time
  • Unlike a direct injection of leptin into the host’s brain, the adenovirus delivery method circumvents the “normal” leptin resistance feedback loop

Allowing for a sustained drop in appetite, a sustained drop in food consumption, a sustained drop in body-fat, reduced blood sugar levels, reduced triglyceride levels, improved glucose tolerance, etc, etc, etc…

What does this mean to YOU?

Unfortunately not very much right now. All of this research is being conducted on mice…meaning that you shouldn’t expect to get an anti-obesity injection from your doctor anytime soon.

Still, as a health & fitness nerd, this science is pretty darn cool. If you think so too, pass it on.

Public interest via social media, means more attention via mainstream media, which means an increased chance that someone / some company with deep pockets will fund additional research.

And additional research can’t help but speed up the process and maybe, just maybe…we’ll have a safe & effective treatment for obesity & it’s related diseases.

And that is pretty darn cool too.

Reference

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The Journey from Fat to Fit

Every January, bookstore shelves groan under the weight of the hundreds of brand-new weight loss/diet/exercise/nutrition/snake-oil books.

And every January, millions of people…unhappy with their bodies…spend bazillions of dollars…in the hope that one of those books will contain some magical insight that will allow them to transform their bodies from fat to fit…without having to sweat…eat spinach…or lever their butts off the sofa.

Unfortunately…

The journey from fat to fit is never going to be that easy.

  • You’re going to sweat.
  • You’re going to eat healthy.
  • And you’re going to stop spending every night on the couch watching tv and/or playing XBox.

But in return, you’re going to…

And to help you get there, I have put together the “From Fat to Fit” roadmap…

Consisting of a series of 4 meta-steps, this DIY infographic will make your transformation from fat to fit simpler, faster and much, much, much more effective….I promise.

TheJourneyfromFattoFit

Step 1 – Follow a plan

I don’t really care which plan you follow.

  • If you want to combine an Atkins diet with a yoga routine, go for it.
  • If you want to become a Vegan who does Crossfit, go for it.
  • If you want to count calories and do exercise videos at home, go for it.
  • If you want to join Weight Watchers, perform EFT tapping, go to AquaFit classes with the little old ladies at my gym, go for it.

In my 20+ years as a personal trainer, I have helped people transform their bodies using all sorts of different plans. In my experience, finding a plan that works best with the client’s lifestyle is infinitely more important than the plan itself.

And science finally agrees with me.

According to researchers at McMaster University, all diets work…if you can stick to them.

Conducting a meta-analysis of 48 randomized clinical trials of branded diets – Atkins, Weight Watchers, Zone, Jenny Craig, LEARN, Nutrisystem, Ornish, Volumetrics, Rosemary Conley, Slimming World and South Beach – Mac researchers found that any weight loss differences between these popular diets are minimal and likely of little importance to those wanting to lose weight.

What was important for weight-loss success is the ability of people to stick with the diet.

  • People who stuck with the diet, lost weight.
  • People who didn’t…didn’t.

What this means to you

This means that instead of following the latest & greatest weight loss program, find a program that works best with YOUR current lifestyle.

  • How much time do you have for exercise, meal prep, etc?
  • How much money can you put into the program?
  • What kind of foods do you love/like/hate?
  • Do you prefer group activities or are you a lone wolf?
  • Do you like lifting weights & sprinting or would you rather go for a walk with your dog/spouse?

Be picky. For the plan to work, we NEED it to be a custom-fit it to YOUR lifestyle.

It’s like buying a new pair of shoes. No matter how awesome they look on the shelf, if they don’t have your size, you’re not buying them. 

Step 2 – Cook & eat real food

Back in the olden days, Moms taught their daughters how to shop for, prepare and cook complete, nutritious & yummy meals from scratch. Aside from the obvious gender role sexism, this was a great thing for the health, wealth & appearance of the whole family.

And it’s going to be a great thing for you too.

  • Cooking real food costs less than frozen diet meals
  • Cooking real food costs less than diet-delivery meals
  • Cooking real food lets you modify meals to fit perfectly with your tastebuds
  • Cooking real food will give you complete ownership of your plan and will make you proud of yourself
  • Cooking real food gives you control over the quality of ingredients
  • Cooking real food gives you control over calories
  • Cooking real food gives you control over macro & micronutrients
  • Cooking real food teaches you a skill that you can give to others (kids, friends)
  • Cooking real food can be a very calming, zen experience…helping to reduce day to day stress
  • Cooking real food for friends & family is great for expressing & receiving love…and that’s a heck of a great feeling
  • Cooking real food means no more artificial flavors & colors
  • Cooking real food means you can invent new recipes and try new flavors
  • Cooking real food means that your kids will learn how to cook real food, eat healthy, be healthy, be fit

And that’s just off the top of my head. There are so many more benefits to learning how to cook like Grandma did.

Luckily for you, Youtube has a ton of “How to Cook” instructional videos. Here are a few to check out.

Step 3 – Non-Workout physical activity

On the infographic, I ask the question: After dinner, are you more likely to go for a walk, or sit on the couch and watch tv?

If you answered sit on the couch and watch tv, I am 99.99% sure that you will never achieve your weight loss goals.

There are two reasons why I believe that:

  1. Sitting on the couch at night watching tv (or playing XBox, or surfing the net, or some other form of inactivity) means more calories consumed via snacking & less calories burned as you sit on your keester. Over time, this caloric sabotage is going to make a major difference in your body transformation.
  2. Being inactive during your “leisure time” means much more than just calories in : calories out. It is a symbol that bleeds into the rest of your life, sabotaging your food choices and influencing your decision to skip your early-morning workout or replace your home-made healthy breakfast with a muffin from Starbucks.

On the flipside, being physically active (walking, cycling, cleaning the house,etc) after dinner is guaranteed to have a positive impact on your body transformation.

  • In addition to the calories burned and the snack foods not consumed, going for a walk with your spouse/kids/friend is hugely beneficial to your mental and emotional health.
  • As well, this “non-exercise” exercise has a sneaky way transforming your overall point of view towards leisure time. Watching becomes doing. Instead of staring at a screen, shared experiences become the new normal. The entire family becomes more active and interactive.

Step 4 – What do you do when stress hits?

Nothing wrecks a healthy diet faster than a crappy day at work…or a sick kid…or an overdue pile of bills…or some other emotional catastrophe.

While your logical mind is calmly & rationally telling you how important it is to stick with the plan and eat healthy…your out of control emotions are screaming at you to wolf down a dozen donuts, an extra-large pizza and a six-pack of beer.

Can you guess who is going to win that argument?

Without a pre-existing plan to handle life’s rainy days, your weight loss / getting healthy plans are going to take the occasional beating from your emotions.

Here are a few techniques for controlling your emotions when life punches you in the face

Note: All of these techniques may seem different but they all work on the same principles:

  1. They distract you from the emotional thoughts
  2. They prevent you from obsessing & bring you back into the present moment
  3. They give you time for the emotions to die down & your conscious mind to regain control

My advice: find something that works best for you & your unique lifestyle

  • If you’re religious…pray
  • If you carry a smartphone with headphones…load it up with meditation or brain wave entrainment mp3s
  • If you don’t buy into this new-agey, crunchy-granola stuff…drop to the floor and do push-ups & ab exercises until you are a sweaty mess.

The how is irrelevant…all we care about is short-circuiting your emotions & regaining conscious control of your mind.

Conclusion

Getting lean, fit & healthy isn’t rocket science.

  1. Find a plan that works for YOU
  2. Cook real / healthy food
  3. Increase your “non-exercise” physical activity
  4. Learn to control your emotions

And feel free to contact me with questions (Twitter / Facebook) if you need to chat.

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Truvia is NOT Stevia…but it is a fantastic insecticide

Wait a second. How can Truvia be safe for me to eat and yet it kills fruit flies like Dexter Morgan on crystal meth???

According to study authors Sean O’Donnell and Daniel Marenda, “during an examination of the effects of commonly used non-nutritive sweeteners on the longevity of Drosophila melanogaster (aka the Fruit Fly), they discovered that erythritol, the main component of the sweetener Truvia, was toxic when ingested by fruit flies as compared to similar concentrations of nutritive sugar controls (sucrose, corn syrup) and other non-nutritive sweeteners.”

  • In their study, they found that fruit flies raised in tubes containing Truvia (see above), lived for an average of 5.8 days.
  • The average fruit fly lives 45 to 60 days.

They also found that Truvia-fed flies had difficulty in climbing up a small vial, indicating impaired motor function.

The problem, the team discovered, lies in an ingredient present in Truvia but not in the other six sweeteners: erythritol, a commonly used food additive approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

This is the same erythritol that has been found to be safe for rats, dogs, humans, etc in previous studies referenced by the fine people at Coca-Cola and Cargill.

What does all this science this mean???

  • If you’re a fly, this is bad news.
  • If you’re a human who hates fruit flies buzzing around the bananas on your kitchen counter, it’s good news. According to the science, we now have evidence that erythritol baits could be used as effective insecticide against fruit flies.

However, if you’re a consumer of food products containing Truvia, you have a choice to make.

One of the core assumptions of modern toxicology is “the dose makes the poison.” Drinking a glass of water is good for you – Drinking a barrel of water is toxic to you. Conversely, the most acutely lethal toxin known to science is the botulinum toxin – the same toxin used millions of times around the world to get rid of wrinkles.

Based upon this assumption (and the safety studies mentioned previously), Erythritol, and by extension Truvia, is…

  1. Safe to humans
  2. Deadly to fruit flies

However, not every scientist in the world believes in the infallibility of “the dose makes the poison.”

  • Some scientists question whether doses that are “safe for human consumption” are equally safe for babies in the womb.

For example, this study found that a dose of atrazine (a commonly used herbicide) 20,000 times lower than the lowest level known to affect adult frogs caused 20% of tadpoles to become hermaphroditic in adulthood.

And it’s not just the effect of toxins on our little frog babies. Not all toxins follow the “normal” monotonic curve in which the response to a dose of toxin increases with the size of the dose. Some toxins respond as per the non-monotonic curves pictured below.

For example, this study found that lower doses of BPA (bisphenol A) can have larger impacts upon the proliferation of prostate tumors in adult male humans than higher doses. Weird but true.

At the end of the day, what does all of this mean to you???

  • Should you buy and consume products containing Truvia and/or Erythritol?
  • Should you buy and consume products containing Truvia and/or Erythritol if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant?
  • Should you buy a jar of Truvia and leave it open in your kitchen to kill fruit flies?

Me?

  • I would rather drink water
  • If I had to choose a calorie-free sweetener, I would choose stevia over Truvia
  • I would also advise all potential parents to follow my lead.

What about you?

  • What do you think of the research?
  • Do you consume Truvia?
  • Will you continue to consume Truvia?

Reference

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How to Get a Tan Without Risking Skin Cancer

  • You know that you look better with a bit of a tan.
  • But, you’re worried about getting skin cancer.

What would you say if I told you that there is some pretty solid science showing that a diet high in fruit and vegetables is more effecting at improving skin colour than suntanning?

The study, published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior showed that (Caucasian) people who eat lots of fruit and vegetables have a more golden skin colour thanks to the high levels of carotenoids.

Most widely known for their presence in carrots, carotenoids are a type of antioxidant that helps reverse the oxidative damage we incur in our daily lives. In particular, carotenoids have a powerful effect on our immune and reproductive systems.

Lead author Dr Ian Stephen said: “We found that, given the choice between skin colour caused by suntan and skin colour caused by carotenoids, people preferred the carotenoid skin colour, so if you want a healthier and more attractive skin colour, you are better off eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables than lying in the sun.”

Dr Stephen suggests that the study is important because evolution would favour individuals who choose to form alliances or mate with healthier individuals over unhealthy individuals.

We should note that while this study looked exclusively at Caucasian faces, it may be true that a study of other racial groups would produce similar results.

Previous studies have shown similar preferences for skin yellowness to be found in an African population.

For more info on this study;

If you want to participate in future studies regarding health & beauty, check out The Perception Lab.

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The Best Tasting Fruit You Have Never Tasted

What do you think of when I say the word – FRUIT?

If you’re like the vast, vast majority of North Americans, you are now thinking of…

  • Apples,
  • Bananas,
  • Oranges,
  • Grapes,
  • Watermelon,
  • Strawberries, or
  • Peaches

And that’s okay.

There are lots of reasons why the fruits listed above are North America’s most popular.

  • They taste great.
  • They’re portable.
  • And they have transitioned well to industrial farming techniques.

However….after 40-something years of crunching apples in the fall, slurping watermelon in the summer and blending up berries & bananas in my smoothies year-round, my taste-buds started to become bored with the Top 10 fruits & vegetables.

Luckily for me, the solution to my gustatory ennui was a brisk 20 minute walk down Spadina Ave to Toronto’s Chinatown and it’s vast array of produce vendors and exotic fruits & veg.

Luckily for all of us, if you can’t find the following fruits in your hometown, there are a LOT of online produce peddlers who will pack & ship fresh produce direct to your door. As I have access here in Toronto, I haven’t ordered online and as such, can’t recommend any particular vendors.

Note: This list of my favorite fruit will continue to grow as I try & fall in love with new products. Whenever I add a new fruit, I will re-post the article. If you want to be updated, sign up for an email subscription to the blog and you will get new article updates.

Alright…here we go….introducing the best tasting fruit you have never tasted. 

Durian

durian fruit health nutrition healthhabits

Some of you have already heard of Durian fruit. More specifically, you may have heard about how Durian smells like:

  • rotten onions,
  • pig-shit,  
  • vomit,
  • skunk spray,
  • turpentine,
  • raw sewage,
  • gym socks, etc.

Seriously…this thing is so stinky, it has been banned from hotels and public transportation systems all over Southeast Asia.  But the taste more than makes up for the odor. Durian fruit offers a taste that is unlike any other thing I have ever eaten in my entire life. 

A taste that was best described by a British naturalist named Alfred Russel Wallace way back in 1856:

The five cells within are silky-white, and are filled with a mass of firm, cream-coloured pulp, containing about three seeds each. This pulp is the edible part, and its consistence and flavour are indescribable. A rich custard highly flavoured with almonds gives the best general idea of it, but there are occasional wafts of flavour that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, sherry-wine, and other incongruous dishes.

Then there is a rich glutinous smoothness in the pulp which nothing else possesses, but which adds to its delicacy. It is neither acid nor sweet nor juicy; yet it wants neither of these qualities, for it is in itself perfect. It produces no nausea or other bad effect, and the more you eat of it the less you feel inclined to stop. In fact, to eat Durians is a new sensation worth a voyage to the East to experience. … as producing a food of the most exquisite flavour it is unsurpassed

Because of the stink, I don’t eat Durian as often as I like.

To make life easier (and to keep my wife happy), I prefer to head down to Chinatown and have it prepared for me in one of the nearby restaurants. That way I get all the yummy flavor and don’t have to deal with the prep or the stinky leftovers

Next Page – Sugar Apple (aka Sweetsop and/or Custard Apple)

More best tasting fruit you have never tasted.

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Warning Labels on Sugary Drinks – good idea, bad idea???

Last Friday, California’s State Senate Appropriations Committee voted (5-2) to pass a measure requiring distributors of bottled or canned sugary drinks to put a warning label on their beverage container.

SB1000 would require a warning label to be placed on the front of all beverage containers with added sweeteners that have 75 or more calories in every 12 ounces.

Not too surprisingly, America’s soda pop producers were not amused. The California Beverage Association issued the following statement.

“We agree that obesity is a serious and complex issue,” the group said in a statement, calling the proposed bill “misleading” claiming that “just 6 percent of calories in the average American’s diet come from soda, fruit, sports and energy drinks, compared with 11 percent in sweets and deserts. Moreover, it said most calories are consumed in the form of fats, oils and starches in food”.

Translation: We agree that our product is crap and directly contributes to obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, heart disease and cancer, but…we’re not as bad as the guys who sell candy bars, potato chips, pizza, etc.

What happens next?

  • SB1000 requires a majority vote of the full Senate before it can become law. That vote is scheduled to occur in the next two weeks. In the meantime…
  • Supporters of the bill (California Medical Association, California Center for Public Health Advocacy, the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, the California Black Health Network and supporting Senators) will issue public statements supporting the bill and it’s health & financial benefits.
  • Critics of the bill (California Beverage Association) will defend their position on health promotion, question the effectiveness of warning labels and raise the issue of potential job losses due to the cost associated with placing warning labels on their products.

Will the Bill become Law?

Who knows?  Going up against the processed food industry is no easy task. Pepsico and Coca Cola have lobbied and defeated previous labelling and “soda tax” bills in states across the nation.

Still, proponents of the bill are hopeful. California’s Democrats hold a super-majority in the Legislature and are traditionally more supportive of this type of motion.

Will the Warning Labels Have Any Effect?

Once again…who knows?

In a recent study,  researchers concluded that if the USA had adopted cigarette package warning labels in 2012 (when Canada enacted tobacco labelling legislation), the number of adult smokers in the USA would have decreased by 5.3–8.6 million by 2013….meaning that there would have been 5.3–8.6 million Americans with a reduced chance of dying from lung cancer.

Health warnings on cigarette packages saved lives in Canada and would have saved lives in the U.S. of A. And that sounds like a pretty darn good return on investment.

So….is it really such a jump in logic to assume that health warnings on sugary drinks would also reduce consumption of said sugary drinks…thereby improving American rates of insulin resistance, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, cancer???

Are all Warning Labels equally effective?

After looking at Canada’s gnarly anti-smoking images, I started wondering if California’s proposed sugary drink warning label….

…will be as effective?

Warning Labels on Sugary Drinks

Will a text-based warning be as effective as pictures of cancerous lungs and impotent cigarettes?

Methinks that California’s legislators need to go back to ye olde Photoshop drawing board and bedazzle their warning labels.

Let’s see if we can come up with something better

Warning Labels on Sugary Drinks

Nothing like a little parental awareness (guilt?) to help spark better shopping habits.

Somehow, I doubt that Pepsi will re-work their logo to create this custom sugary drink warning label.

If morbid obesity isn’t a strong enough warning, how about neuropathic foot ulcers and leg amputations???

obesity-warning-fruit-juice

There is nothing like a juice box full of chemicals & high fructose corn syrup to show that you don’t give a shit about your kid.

What do YOU think?

  • Are warning labels on sugary drinks a good idea?
  • Is a text-only label as effective as labels with scary pictures?
  • Can you come up with any better labels?
  • Would you like to see these labels where you live?
  • If so, would you be willing to email your gov’t representative RIGHT NOW and tell them that you want warning labels on sugary drinks?

Reference

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Springtime: Time for Cleansing?

Ahhhhhhh, the first day of spring.

The time of year when we say goodbye to snow and parkas and snow and cold and snow….and turn towards the ugly truth that hibernating for three months has resulted in a few extra pounds of body-fat.

For us northerners, this period of winter-hibernation is pretty natural. Kinda like a bear.

Unfortunately, unlike our ursine friends, you (and I) don’t have the ability to slow down (and speed up) our metabolisms as the seasons change. As a result, homo sapiens need to take some external steps to un-do the damage caused by a winter of sloth and comfort eating.

And because this physique neglect is fairly universal in cold-weather climates, spring-time presents an annual opportunity for health/fitness/nutrition companies peddling products designed to help us reverse the effects of our winter sloth.

Unlike the January onslaught of diet books, spring is dedicated to cleansing.

What is cleansing?

According to Wikipedia, cleansing is alternative medicine “approach that claims to rid the body of “toxins” – accumulated harmful substances that allegedly exert undesirable effects on individual health in the short or long term. Detoxification usually includes one or more of: dieting, fasting, consuming exclusively or avoiding specific foods (such as fats, carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, juices, herbs, or water), colon cleansing, chelation therapy, or the removal of dental fillings.

According to my naturopath, nutritionist, osteopath, alternative medicine pals, cleansing is a practice where you…

  1. Reduce stress on your body by dieting, fasting, colon cleansing and/or eliminating “stressful” foods
  2. Supporting your physical body via herbs, vitamins, minerals, etc
  3. Supporting your mental/emotional/spiritual body by meditating, praying or any other practice that helps you become more conscious of yourself.

Note – most mainstream cleansing programs focus on the diet and supplements. Probably because it’s hard to package meditation and/or prayer in a box. Kidding aside, step #3 can be quite personal and is pretty hard to sell to a mainstream audience. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. It can be as simple as sitting still for 5 minutes a day and paying attention to your breath.

Still Interested in Cleansing?

Before you run out to the health food store and buy a cleansing kit, lets take a close look at what makes a cleanse a cleanse so that you can better understand what type of cleanse works best for you.

Part 1 – Reducing Stress on Your Physical Body

This aspect of cleansing is all about taking a break from your normal patterns of eating, drinking, inhaling, etc. This means…

  • Eating less food – dieting and/or fasting
  • Eating healthier foods – reducing processed foods, reducing harder to digest foods (animal protein), supplementing with vitamins, mineral, herbs, etc to give your body all of the “stuff” it needs to be as healthy as possible.
  • Drinking healthier drinks – say yes to water and tea – reduce or say no to booze, dairy, coffee, energy drinks, soft drinks, etc.
  • Stop smoking (tobacco, etc)
  • Clean out all of the junk you have collected in your colon via a colonic or an herbal/fibre cleanse. I know it sounds gross, but there is a lot of data (scientific & non-scientific) linking leaky gut syndrome to a whole host of inflammatory conditions. And while there is little scientific proof backing up the efficacy of colonic cleansing, I have spoke with far too many people who speak highly on a colon cleanse to dismiss it out of hand. The idea is that you clear out a lot of the residual “stuff” that can line the walls of the colon possibly leading to leaky gut/diverticulosis/etc.

Note: There is no science backing up the claims being made by proponents of colonic cleansing. However, there is no science indicating that an herbal cleanse can cause you any harm. This treatment modality is 100% up to you.

Part 2 – Heal Your Physical Body

In Part 1 of a cleanse, you are removing “harmful” substances, foods, habits from your life. In Part 2, you are giving your body an abundance of healing nutrients to supercharge your body’s ability to maintain perfect health.

We’re talking vitamins, minerals, enzymes, high ORAC fruit & vegetables (whole & supplements), healthy oils, herbs and lots and lots of water.

Note: A lot of cleansing kits focus on supplements designed to support liver function as the liver’s main job is to filter junk out of our bodies. And while supporting liver function makes sense to me, I prefer to take a more wholistic view of the body. The liver doesn’t work in isolation. Your kidneys, lungs & skin also play a role in removing toxins from your body. If we’re cleansing the entire body, shouldn’t we support the entire body.

Part 3 – Supporting/Cleansing Your Mental/Emotional/Physical Body

You won’t find any mention of Part 3 in any cleansing kit you pick up at your local health food store. And I won’t be offended if you skip this part of the article altogether.

But…if you’re going to all the trouble of dieting/fasting/colon cleansing and popping supplements to help your physical body operate better…can’t you find a few minutes in the day to make yourself a little bit calmer…a little bit happier…a little bit less stressed out???

You’re ready to start cleansing…now what?

  • Start by deciding if you want to buy a “cleansing kit” or you want to DIY it. It’s up to you and your personality. Some people do better following a pre-set program (buy a kit at the health food store, buy a cleansing book, do the Master Cleanse, etc) while others would rather come up with a plan that fits THEIR lifestyle and personal likes/dislikes.
  • Know that all cleansing plans are offering some combination of Parts 1 & 2 that I outlined above. All of them. The Master Cleanse reduces calories, keeps water consumption up and claims that the lemon & pepper cleanses your system while the maple syrup provides necessary nutrients. The Cleanse-in-a-box kit from the drugstore tells you to cut calories, eat your veggies and pop their pills with lots of water. What they are telling you to do is very simple. They make their money selling you the associated products/services. Don’t be fooled into thinking they have some secret knowledge.
  • Now that you have looked behind the wizard’s curtain and understand what makes a cleanse a cleanse, take a look at a bunch of cleansing products. Do they make sense to you? Do they jive with your lifestyle? Do they cost too much money? Do you need all the bells & whistles. Be critical. Use that big homo sapiens brain of yours.
  • Find a friend to cleanse with you. Misery loves company and it is easier to stick to a cleanse if someone else is doing it with you.
  • Pick a start date and an end date. Get everything prepared for your start date. If you’re not prepared – food, supplements, tupperware, etc – you’re gonna fail.
  • If you fail to complete your full cleanse, don’t worry about it. However long you stuck to the plan did some good for your body. Be proud of that….and then get ready to start the cleanse again. You can do it.

GOOD LUCK

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Is There a Genetic Cause for Binge Eating?

Before we dive into all the scienc-y goodness of a potential genetic cause for binge eating, I want to address all the people who believe that…

  • Obesity isn’t genetic, and…
  • Obesity is as simple as calories in vs calories out, and…
  • Fat people use genetics as an excuse for their slothful behaviour

Here are the FACTS….as I see them:

  • There is a link between obesity & genetics.

Prader-Willi syndrome is caused by a gene missing on part of chromosome 15. Normally, your parents each pass down a copy of this chromosome. Most patients with Prader-Willi syndrome are missing the genetic material on part of the father’s chromosome. The rest of patients with this condition often have two copies of the mother’s chromosome 15.

The genetic changes occur randomly. Patients usually do not have a family history of the condition.

This doesn’t mean that all cases of obesity are due to genetics. All it means is that there is a confirmed link between obesity & genetics. Whether this current study will establish another link and expand our knowledge of human obesity is yet to be determined.

  • Obesity is not as simple as calories in vs calories out.

A growing body of scientific evidence + over 20 years of helping people get fit has led me to believe that obesity is due to a messy combination of genetic inheritance, eating too much food, eating the ‘wrong’ foods, eating at the wrong time of day, peer pressure, environmental conditions, advertising, etc, etc, etc….

And even if obesity was as simple as calories in vs calories out, it isn’t simple to get people to live the rest of their lives counting calories…thanks to all that peer pressure, environmental conditions, advertising, etc.

  • Fat people quite often use genetics as an excuse for their obesity.

Just like the rest of us who also blame our shortcomings on outside influences. If it isn’t over-eating, it’s over-drinking or over-smoking or over-screwing or secretly being addicted to the music of Justin Bieber. We all BS ourselves. That’s part of being human.

And even if we find that there is a genetic cause for binge eating, that doesn’t mean we will find a “cure”. Obesity isn’t a simple condition with a simple solution…IMHO.

Anyway, them’s the facts as I see ’em….for now. Future science may prove me completely wrong. Let’s try to keep an open mind and we might just find a solution to our weighty problem.

Let’s Get Back to the Science

In this latest study, Dr. Kelly Klump used “two strains of rats, numerous cans of vanilla frosting and a theory to move one step closer to finding a genetic cause for binge eating.”

“Based upon our previous research, we know that binge eating is influenced by genes, but we have been unable to identify in humans which genes contribute to binge eating. With this research, we decided to study two different strains of rats instead of humans,” Klump said. “Unlike humans, animals do not have the cultural, psychological or psychosocial risk factors for binge eating, so they are simpler to study. A rat could care less what it looks like.”

  • Dr. K used two strains of rats (23 Wistar females, 30 Sprague–Dawley females, 30 Sprague–Dawley males) to determine if one/both/neither strain was prone to binge eating.
  • For two week, the rats were fed their normal ‘rat chow’ along with intermittent feedings of vanilla cake frosting.

“We only gave the rats the vanilla frosting every other day because that mimics human binge eating habits,” said Britny Hildebrandt, a grad student in the Klump lab.

What did they find?

  • Dr. Klump et al found that the rate of vanilla frosting binge eating was much higher in female Sprague-Dawley rats.

Wistar females and Sprague–Dawley males had similar responses to the frosting and were classified as binge eating resistant…unlike the female Sprague-Dawley rats…who were classified by Dr. Klump as binge eating prone.

What does this mean & where do we go next?

According to Dr. Klump, “now that we know that the female Sprague-Dawley rats are prone to binge eating, this helps narrow the scope of the thousands of possible genes that could contribute to this disorder. We can now study the strain to identify the genes that might contribute to the disease.

From there, we can map these genes in humans. If we can narrow down to 20 or so genes, then we are one step closer to finding an effective treatment for binge eating.”

Of course, all of this science is going to take time. Even if they find a treatment for binge eating, it’s going to be years from now.

Just enough time for current binge eaters to stop BS-ing themselves and look for ways to help control their own binge eating tendencies….even if their genetics are fighting against them.

Reference

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Junk Food and the Free Market

I wrote an article today for the Medium.com site. Here’s a little taste to whet your whistle. Click through if you want to read the whole enchilada.

An article in today’s Daily Beast (How Washington Dooms Millions of Americans to Premature Death by Nicholas Freudenberggot my brain spinning about food, obesity, junk food, diabetes, the free market, corporate responsibility, politics, personal responsibility and how all this ‘stuff’ has come together to create an epidemic of lifestyle disease.

In his article, NF brings up a number of interesting facts:

  1. Chronic diseases cause 7 out of every 10 deaths in the United States
  2. 49% of Americans have one or more chronic diseases.
  3. In the United States, tobacco, alcohol and diet cause more than 1.2 million annual premature deaths from heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and other conditions.
  4. Chronic diseases account for $3 of every $4 spent on healthcare—about $1.5 trillion annually in the US of A.

So, how is it, that with all of this available data, the US spends less than 10% of total healthcare funding on health promotion / disease prevention?

  • Is it because public health campaigns don’t work?

Nope….while cases of diabetes have increased 176% in the last 30 years, it is estimated that 8 million ‘premature deaths’ have been prevented thanks to anti-smoking PSAs combined with increased taxes on tobacco products.

Public health campaigns can work…if they are well designed, well funded and receive government support.

So why isn’t that happening?

To find out the answer to that cliffhanger of a question, click through to the full article on Medium.com

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Your Unconscious Mind is Making You Fat

There I am.

  • Sitting on the couch watching NHL playoff hockey at the end of a long day.
  • The wife offers me some of her potato chips.
  • I decline

I’m a personal trainer dammit, and personal trainers don’t eat potato chips.

Fast forward 20 minutes…..

I am now sprawled out on the couch…..totally immersed in the game…..screaming at the referees for blowing another call….and absent mindedly reaching over and grabbing a handful of potato chips out of the bag…and then another…and then another

your unconscious mind is making you fat

WTF!!! What just happened?

I don’t eat potato chips….seriously. So what happened? Where did my will power go?

I’ll tell you what happened.

  • When my wife first offered the chips, my conscious mind did a quick pro/con calculation and decided to take a pass on the salty/greasy delight.
  • Soon after, my conscious mind became fixated on the hockey game.
  • Soon after that, my unconscious mind snuck behind the back of my conscious mind, and by using a mixture of sensory inputs, old memories, emotions, brain chemicals and hormones, managed to hijack my body and convince it that eating those chips was suddenly a great idea.

Damn you unconscious mind!!!.

  • This is a big reason why diets fail.
  • Your bad habits live in your unconscious mind.
  • Your bad habits have built up powerful connections within your mind and body.

And if you let your unconscious mind run the show, you WILL return time and again to your old habits…your over-eating, under-exercising, making you fat kind of bad habits…

Next PageThe Unconscious Mind…and why it loves making you fat…

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9 out of 10 Dentists Recommend the Paleo Diet

I am a huge fan of the Paleo Diet style of eating. It’s focus on fruits, vegetables and animal protein is in my opinion, the absolute best way for human beings to eat.

And based upon the explosion of Paleo cookbooks and websites over the past few years, I am not alone in that belief.

Luckily for us Paleo dieters, that explosion in popularity has led to a lot of amazing chefs turning their skills toward creating Paleo-friendly meals that would put a smile on the face of the snobbiest of food snobs.

Unfortunately….a lot of those recipes, while tasting amazing, are modifying the “original” Paleo guidelines to a point where some of the health benefits are being lost.

paleo brownies
Paleo Brownies

And it’s not just my opinion. It’s SCIENCE.

A new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows us that a diet of starchy “100% Paleo” foods led to high rates of tooth decay in a group of our ancient hunter-gatherer ancestors.

Up until now, all of the archaeological/anthropological research indicated that it was the advent of farming that led to human dental disease. And it’s this transition from hunter-gatherer to farming that is central to the entire Paleo diet.

This new research “shows widespread tooth decay occurred in a hunter-gathering society in Morocco several thousand years before the dawn of agriculture.” And while these findings don’t cast doubt on the Paleo “farming causes problems” theory, it does show us that not all Paleo-approved foods are perfectly healthy.

The Science

During an archaeological dig in Taforalt, Morocco, researchers “analysed 52 sets of adult teeth from hunter-gatherer skeletons dated to be between 15,000 and 13,700 years of age.” Based on the archaeological findings, we know that:

  1. These early humans had not adapted to an agricultural lifestyle. They were hunter-gatherers…the original Paleo dieters.
  2. Their diet consisted of “the systematic harvesting and processing of wild foods, including sweet acorns, pine nuts and land snails.”
  3. This reliance on fermentable carbohydrates “is a key factor in the initiation and progression of dental disease.”

How bad were their teeth?

We’re not talking Austin Powers bad, but the researchers found evidence of decay in more than half of the surviving teeth with only three skeletons showing no sign of cavities.

Professor Nick Barton of the Institute of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, and a co-director of the excavations at Taforalt, said: ‘This study reveals for the first time that at both ends of the Mediterranean, hunter-gatherers had started to eat a variety of different foods and were becoming more settled long before the advent of farming.

Dr Isabelle de Groote from the Natural History Museum said: ‘These people’s mouths were often affected by both cavities in the teeth and abscesses, and they would have suffered from frequent toothache.”

What’s wrong with sweet acorns, pine nuts and land snails?

If we’re talking about macronutrients, micronutrients, enzymes, phytochemicals, etc…. absolutely nothing. These are three very healthy, Paleo-friendly foods.

However, as lead researcher Dr Louise Humphrey said: “A reliance on edible acorns as a staple food could account for the high prevalence of cavities in the teeth found at Taforalt since eating fermentable carbohydrates is a key factor in the initiation and progression of this disease.

The acorns may have been boiled or ground to make flour; and cooking the acorns would have added to their stickiness. To make things even worse, abrasive particles from grindstones contributed to rapid tooth wear so that cavities started to form on the roots of the teeth.”

And since our Moroccan ancestors didn’t have access to a tooth brush or fluoride toothpaste, they started getting cavities, abscesses, toothaches and oral infections.

All because they learned how to make acorn flour crepes stuffed with sauteed pine nuts and escargot. mmmmmmmmm good

What does this mean to Paleo Dieters?

  • It means that ALL starchy, sticky foods can lead to disease…even if they are made with Paleo ingredients.
  • It means that eating Paleo isn’t just about ingredients. How you cook / process those ingredients is important…if you are eating Paleo to improve your health
  • It means that Paleo brownies, breads and muffins shouldn’t make up a regular part of your Paleo diet…especially if you aren’t diligent about the brushing and flossing.

What should you take away from this article?

  • The Paleo Diet is still the best thing you can do for your health & waistline (IMHO)
  • After eating starchy/sticky foods (Paleo or not), you need to floss & brush
  • Boiling, steaming, poaching, broiling, microwaving,  stir-frying and no-cooking are your healthiest cooking (and non-cooking) methods
  • Even if you eat sticky Paleo baked goods, 9 out of 10 dentists recommend the Paleo Diet…and we can bring that number up to 10 out of 10 if you cut back on the Paleo brownies and eat an apple instead.

Reference

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10 Ways to Workout Smarter….not Harder

Every day I go to the gym and I see the same people doing the same workouts.

  • Runners get on a treadmill and run
  • Yoginis perform their poses
  • Bodybuilders squeeze & flex their muscles
  • Powerlifters lift heavy stuff
  • Aerobicizers attend their group fitness classes
  • And the dude at my gym who wears Adidas soccer shorts from 1978 stretches out his hamstrings threatening to dislodge his “fellas” from their cotton prison (the horror…the horror)

And while all of these activities are laudable and are infinitely better for you than sitting on the couch eating chips and watching reality tv, they all have their limitations. And since it is a new year, I thought it was the perfect time to outline 10 ways to workout smarter…achieving better results, in less time, with fewer aches & pains.

Tip # 1 – High Intensity Interval Training aka HIIT

There is an ever growing body of evidence showing that HIIT workouts are superior to traditional cardio training in almost every conceivable way.

  • Less time required per workout – I never, ever perform more than 20 min on a HIIT workout
  • Reduced chance of overuse injuries – just ask a runner about their aches & pains
  • Faster & greater improvements to the cardio-vascular system
  • Increased fat loss due to increased levels of EPOC  (Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption)
  • Increased total body strength
HIIT sprints
Before HIIT – After HIIT

To recap, HIIT takes up less of your time, is easier on your body, is better at improving the function of your heart & lungs and will help make you stronger and leaner more efficiently than cardio training. Sounds pretty smart to me.

Here are a bunch of articles I have written on HIIT to get you started:

Next Page : Movements not Muscles…

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Can my friends make me fat?

Can my friends make me fat?

Q:   Can my friends make me fat?

  • A1:   Yes
  • A2:   No
  • A3:   Sort of

According to this meta-analysis of fifteen experimental studies, the type and quantity of food that your peers (friends, family, etc) consume does have fairly strong influence on the type and quantity of food that YOU eat.

  • In short, if your friends eat healthy, you will feel the influence of positive peer pressure to eat healthy.
  • Conversely, if your friends eat piles of junk food and drink gallons of sugary beverages, you will feel that influence as well.

Can my friends make me fat?

Of course, just because your friends choose to re-enact an episode of Man v. Food every time they sit down for dinner doesn’t mean you have to fall victim to their bad habits & peer pressure.

  • You have free will.
  • You have the ability to transcend your unconscious need to “be one of the gang”.

Even if that means your friends get upset, launch into a major guilt trip and unfairly accuse you of judging their poor eating habits and thinking that they are a bunch of fat losers with no willpower. Seriously, I have seen this happen many, many times with my personal training clients.

Let’s take a closer look at the science…

This meta-analysis, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, looked at fifteen different studies from eleven different scientific journals.

What they found is that “if participants were given information indicating that others were making low-calorie or high-calorie food choices, it significantly increased the likelihood that participants made similar choices.”

In other words, if I am presented with a healthy food option and an unhealthy food option, I am more likely to eat healthy if I am told that everyone else is eating healthy. The same holds true if I am told that everyone is choosing pizza over salad.  

And it’s not just the quality of food. The same peer-pressure effect holds true for quantity of food eaten. When participants were told that everyone was pigging out, they were more likely to strap on the feed-bag as well.

According to the psychology researchers conducting the study, “It appears that in some contexts, conforming to informational eating norms may be a way of reinforcing identity to a social group, which is in line with social identity theory. By this social identity account, if a person’s sense of self is strongly guided by their identity as a member of their local community and that community is perceived to eat healthily, then that person would be hypothesized to eat healthily in order to maintain a consistent sense of social identity.”

What happens when you alone?

According to the shrinks, the “analysis also revealed that the social mechanisms that influence what we decide to consume are present even when we eat alone or are at work, whether or not we are aware of it.”

“Norms influence behaviour by altering the extent to which an individual perceives the behaviour in question to be beneficial to them. Human behaviour can be guided by a perceived group norm, even when people have little or no motivation to please other people,” says Dr. Robinson.

“Given that in some studies the participants did not believe that their behaviour was influenced by the informational eating norms, it seems that participants may not have been consciously considering the norm information when making food choices.”

What does this mean to YOU?

It depends.

If you have terrible willpower AND you want to start living a healthier lifestyle, you may want to consider adding some new healthy friends into your posse and hope that their positive peer pressure rubs off on you.

Of course, you should probably also scan through my blog archives for articles on nutrition and exercise. And feel free to include me in your new healthy-eating posse.

obesity-warning-pizza

Reference

 

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4 Really, Really Good Reasons To Stop Eating Factory Farmed Meat and Start Buying Organic Meat

Today’s post was sparked by a chat I had the other day with someone on Twitter.

I had just tweeted an infographic about all that yucky pink slime in America’s hamburgers. Normally, a tweet like this generates a pile of RTs from people who are viscerally grossed out by the existence of pink slime in their hamburgers.

pink-slime-jon-stewart-2

However…on this day, I ran into someone who didn’t care about the existence of pink slime in her McDouble because (in her words) McDonalds burgers taste AMAZING.

After I grabbed my jaw off of the floor, I replied to her and suggested that someone needed to introduce her to a better hamburger joint…because McD burgers ain’t as tasty as she thinks they are…with or without the pink slime.

The conversation went on for a few more tweets, with no real conclusion…she thinks that the Big Mac is the pinnacle of hot beef sandwich…and I prefer a burger made from grass fed beef and a lack of industrial chemicals.

But even though I couldn’t convince her to abandon her love affair with her McBurgers, this little chat got me thinking about the meat processing industry in general and the quality of meat that most of us eat every day.

After about 30 minutes of daydreaming, I came up with what I think are… 4 Really, Really Good Reasons To Stop Eating Factory Farmed Meat and Start Buying Organic Meat.

1.   Your Health

Medical science has come a long way in the last century.

  • Infant mortality rates have dropped.
  • Anti-biotics and anti-virals have saved millions of lives
  • Trauma surgeons put us back together after horrendous accidents

Unfortunately, medical science is having a hard time keeping up with the damage we inflict upon ourselves with our modern diet.

  • Diabetes rates are exploding
  • Obesity rates are exploding
  • Cancers related to diet are exploding
  • Dementia / Alzheimers rates are exploding

All of these conditions are directly related to the food we eat…and unlike the type of medicine we are really good at, these conditions are slow to develop and modern medicine can’t do a thing to cure them.

Here are a few articles if you want to learn more:

2.   Your Kid’s Health

Same reasons as above…but instead of just making ourselves, now we’re talking about your precious little bundles of joy.

3.   Your Tastebuds

Back in the olden days, your great-great-great-great grandparents ate organic…and free-range…and local…and all that other good stuff that costs me extra every time I go grocery shopping

But unlike me, they didn’t call their food organic or free-range…they called it food.

Because that’s what food was.

  • Cows grazed on grass until it was time for the rancher to turn them into dinner for his neighbours and…
  • Farmers used manure from their livestock to grow better vegetable crops and…
  • Chickens pecked around in the dirt eating bugs and seeds and grass and worms and…
  • Crops were rotated and seeds were shared and our produce wasn’t covered in chemicals or grown from genetically modified seeds and…
  • Hunters went into the woods and hunted for game

And not only was their food healthier…it tasted better.

Ever since I switched to free-range, naturally fed meats, I can’t believe how much better they taste, look and smell. The beef I buy comes from a co-op of ranchers in PEI who finish their grass-fed cattle by adding potatoes to their feed…they swear that it makes the beef taste sweeter.

I chuckled when the butcher first told me this…but that night as I was chomping down on a mushroom cheeseburger, I couldn’t stop making noises about how good the beef tasted….seriously, it was like I had never had a burger before…Ahhh-mazing.

FYI – Earlier today I made a meat sauce of grass-fed beef, mushrooms and tomato sauce. Very simple, very basic…but the taste…OMG. Right now, I am baking a spaghetti squash in the oven. In 10 more minutes, I am going to pour the sauce over of the spag and have a serious post-workout dinner. Mmmmmmmmmm good.

Better ingredients = Better tasting meals

4.  You’re not cool with torturing animals

As a self-aware human being and life-long meat eater, I understand and accept the moral implications of killing animals for my dinner.

  • Because I eat meat, I am partially responsible for the death of other animals.

I can live with this…I may not think about it all the time, but when confronted by a rabid vegan in a nutrition forum, I am able to own up to my complicity and still sleep well at night. Nature is bloody and meat consumption is partially responsible for the state of human evolution and our big brains.

What I can’t accept is the cruelty we inflict on the animals trapped in our industrial meat factories.

It is seriously messed up.

For example…in this video expose of Walmart’s pork suppliers, we see…

  • Pregnant pigs confined to gestation crates so small they are unable to even turn around or lie down comfortably
  • Workers slamming conscious piglets headfirst into the ground and leaving them to suffer and slowly die
  • Workers ripping out the testicles and slicing off the tails of piglets without the use of any painkillers
  • Sick and injured pigs with severe, bleeding wounds or infections left to suffer without veterinary care

All so we can save 50 cents on a pound of Walmart’s breakfast sausage.

Like I said…seriously messed up…and it doesn’t have to be this way.

If mega-corporations like Walmart told their suppliers to stop torturing their livestock, it would happen. It might cost you an extra 50 cents per pound of breakfast sausage…but it would happen.

Note – If you live in the U.S. and would like to see Walmart stop sourcing meat from producers who torture their livestock, you can sign this online petition…it takes about fifteen seconds.

Conclusion

I’m sure that there are a lot more reasons for you to stop eating factory farmed meat and start buying organic meat, but since I only thought about it for 30 minutes and I’m not that bright to begin with, I only came up with four really, really good reasons.

Hopefully they are good enough to get you to re-think tonight’s dinner purchase.

 

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The Best Vitamin C Foods

Back in the 1970’s, Dr.Linus Pauling popularized a theory that high doses of Vitamin C would significantly decrease the incidence of the common cold.

This theory spurred a widespread belief that consuming more vitamin C will reduce the risk of catching a cold and reduce its severity. While that theory has taken a beating in the past few years, no one can deny that Vitamin C is a nutritional superstar.

  • Vitamin C is required for the synthesis of collagen – an important structural component of blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and bone.
  • Vitamin C also plays an important role in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter – norepinephrine. Neurotransmitters are critical to brain function and are known to affect mood.
  • In addition, vitamin C is required for the synthesis of carnitine, a small molecule that is essential for the transport of fat into cellular organelles called mitochondria, where the fat is converted to energy.
  •  Research also suggests that vitamin C is involved in the metabolism of cholesterol to bile acids, which may have implications for blood cholesterol levels and the incidence of gallstones.
  • Vitamin C is also a highly effective antioxidant. Even in small amounts vitamin C can protect indispensable molecules in the body, such as proteins, lipids (fats), carbohydrates, and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), from damage by free radicals and reactive oxygen species that can be generated during normal metabolism as well as through exposure to toxins and pollutants (e.g., cigarette smoke).
  • Vitamin C may also be able to regenerate other antioxidants such as vitamin E. One recent study of cigarette smokers found that vitamin C regenerated vitamin E from its oxidized form.

So…which are the best Vitamin C foods?

Most of us get our Vitamin C from a glass of OJ with our breakfast.

And while that glass of liquid sunshine is a great way to get the “C” into your body, it’s also a great way to get a whole bunch of sugar without all the fiber, vitamins & minerals that goes along with most solid-food sources of Vitamin C.

And for that reason, I am giving you 2 different lists of Best Vitamin C foods sources

The JUICE list….

  • 1 cup of Orange juice – has 124 mg Vitamin C…over twice the daily recommended amount
  • 1 cup of Pineapple and grapefruit juice drink has 115 mg Vitamin C
  • 1 cup of Cranberry juice cocktail  has 107 mg Vitamin C
  • 1 cup of Grapefruit juice  has 94 mg vitamin C
  • 1 cup of Grape drink has  79 mg Vitamin C
  • 1 cup of Vegetable juice cocktail has 67 mg Vitamin C
  • 1 cup of Pineapple juice – 1 cup has  25 mg Vitamin C

And the FOOD list…

 

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5 Reasons You Should Go Gluten Free

Hey everybody…today’s post is written by my personal go-to source for all things GLUTEN…Ms. Jaqui Karr blogger, author, public speaker and expert on gluten and it’s impact on your auto-immune system.

A few weeks ago, I asked Jaqui if she would write me an article on gluten that would give my readers all the bullet-points that they need to know about why and how to go gluten free. I didn’t want her to go into all the intricate details…explaining and proving her points with research and quotes from PhDs. What I wanted was a list of simple – do this / don’t do this – instructions for those of us without an encyclopedic knowledge of gluten and how it may be screwing up our health.

And here are the results…enjoy

GlutenDemystified

1) Gluten is killing you slowly and retarding your brain function. We are all intolerant to gluten at varying levels and your DNA will determine the effects it has on you, but have no doubt gluten IS affecting you negatively and the biggest impact is on the brain. Depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s; there are studies showing even people with schizophrenia healed when they go gluten free and adopt a clean pure diet.

grain brain

2) There are over 300 symptoms and diseases medically and scientifically linked to gluten. As you read this you are experiencing several of them like headaches, stubborn weight, foggy brain, depression, mood swings, skin issues, dry scalp, insomnia, sexual malfunction, back pain, joint pain, muscle soreness, bone deterioration (did you know that most women diagnosed with osteoporosis unknowingly had Celiac Disease when tested later?)

3) Your body and brain function more efficiently when you go gluten free. Gluten causes chaos in your system; it is the ultimate cause & effect. Remove the cause (gluten) and you remove the effects

Gluten-Induced-Disease-Chart-

4) It’s easy to make switches and there’s no denying that a more pure diet will help you get to optimal health. It is impossible to say that when you replace over-processed bleached chemically treated fillers like wheat and barley with real pure foods you won’t feel better. There’s not even a question that it will improve your Quality of Life.

5) You want healthier kids. Gluten is medically linked to ADD, ADHD, Autism, stunted growth, muscle atrophy, and of course: weakened or completely malfunctioning auto-immune system. “Celiac Disease” (which 30% of the developed world has the genes for is exactly that: an exhaustion of the auto-immune system until it fails and starts misreading food).

Next PageThe 5 Best Steps to Going Gluten Free

What Happens When Superstar Athletes Endorse Junk Food

  • In a free market, superstar athletes like Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Serena Williams are free to negotiate celebrity endorsement contracts with any company that they choose.

lebron sprite

  • In a free market, parents, pediatricians, anti-obesity advocates and health & fitness nerds like myself are free to be peeved that superstar athletes like Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Serena Williams choose to endorse products with a direct link to childhood obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc.

fat-kits-eating-mcdonalds

  • In a free market, anti-obesity advocates like Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity are free to research which superstar athletes are most likely to trade their celebrity status with children for big endorsement contracts with companies who market  products with a direct link to childhood obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc.

athletes market junk food

  • In a free market, anti-obesity advocates like Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity are also free to distribute that research to the media in an attempt to shame superstar athletes like Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Serena Williams about their decision to endorse products that threaten the health of their young fans.

freeoreos1

  • In a free market, public health experts are free to postulate what would happen if superstar athletes like Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Serena Williams had been exposed to the same kind of celebrity endorsed messages that today’s kids are exposed to.

fat lebron

  • In a free market, we are free to absolve Big Food corporations of any & all responsibility and choose to heap all the blame on the parents who buy their children junk food.
  • In a free market, we are also free to recognize that childhood obesity isn’t as simple as “blame the parents” or “blame the corporations” or “blame the government”, and that parents, government, food producers and superstar athletes like Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Serena Williams have all played a role in the obesification of our children.
  1. Parents feed their kids too much junk food.
  2. Government officials are manipulated by the lobbyists of Big Food producers into placing corporate profits ahead of the health of our children as well as the exploding healthcare costs that threaten the financial health of our countries.
  3. And superstar athletes (and other celebrity endorsers) ignore the reality that the kids who look up to them are being harmed by their financial decisions.
  • In a free market, we are free to use social media to tell our sports heroes that we want them to stop selling junk food to our kids
Click to expand
Click to expand
  • In a free market, we are free to tell our politicians to cut junk food subsidies, promote healthy eating and to force Big Food producers to stop advertising junk food to our pre-teen children.

twinkies1

  • In a free market, we are also free to accept our share of the responsibility and stop feeding our children huge quantities of junk food.

choose-real-food

Childhood obesity is a real threat to the future health of our children and there is more than enough blame to go around.

What Now???

  • If you want to check out the study looking at superstar athletes and their involvement shilling for junk food companies, head over to the Rudd Center website and read it – Athlete Endorsements in Food Marketing – Pediatrics
  • If you want to apply some pressure on the athletes named in the study, go to their social media profiles (Twitter & Facebook are a good place to start) and tell them that you are not impressed. You can also contact the teams that they play for and tell them that you are not impressed with the behaviour of their employee.
  • If you want to apply pressure to the government, write/email/call your representatives directly and tell them that you expect them to start putting the health of young kids ahead of the health of corporate balance sheets.
  • And if you want to apply pressure to the producers of junk food….STOP BUYING JUNK FOOD FOR YOUR KIDS.

.

What do you think?

  • As a parent, do you appreciate Peyton, LeBron and Serena telling your kids to eat junk food?
  • How would you feel if they were advertising cigarettes or alcohol?
  • Should today’s athletes be expected to project an positive image of health & fitness?
  • If an athlete’s image is tarnished for taking PEDs, shouldn’t it be tarnished for marketing junk food to children?
  • Do athletes in team sports have a duty to their team to project an image of sportsmanship, athleticism,etc?
  • Do you consider the modern athlete a positive role model for our kids?
  • Do you appreciate junk food producers running advertisements on programs/websites dedicated to pre-teens?
  • Do employees of junk food producers have an ethical responsibility to not manipulate pre-teens?
  • Tobacco, alcohol and firearm producers are prohibited from marketing to children…why not producers of products that promote obesity, diabetes and heart disease?
  • Should our political representatives be placing the health of our children above the profits of junk food producers?
  • Should our politicians be placing the profits and jobs of junk food producers over the health of our children?
  • Should parents stop their kids from watching tv shows with ads for junk food?
  • Should parents contact tv networks to complain about junk food advertising aimed at their kids?
  • Should parents contact their politicians and demand expanded limitations on marketing products to children?
  • Should parents teach their kids about what advertisers are trying to do by running ads during Sesame Street et al?
  • Should parents be teaching their kids about living a healthy lifestyle?
  • Should parents ignore their kids demands for junk food?
  • Should parents feed their kids healthy food most of the time?
  • Should parents eat healthy and teach their kids by example?
  • Should I take a chill pill and stop stressing about junk food producers trying to brainwash our kids, politicians placing their financial wants over the health of our kids and parents abandoning their responsibilities and feeding their kids junk food every day???

Reference

The Walmartification Of The Organic Food Industry

There was a time in the ‘not so distant’ past, when organic food was just a teeny tiny sliver of the entire food consumption pie. Organic products were bought and sold primarily by hippies and health nuts. Not any more. In fact, since 1990, organic food sales in the United States and Canada have been growing at approximately 20% per year. In 2006, sales of organic food in the United States and Canada topped $18 billion. Numbers these large were enough to catch the attention of the mainstream agri-business industry. As a result, a growing percentage of the new growth in organic food sales is being driven by mainstream supermarketsIn 1998, organic food sales in supermarkets were half the size of the sales in natural food stores. However, by 2006, supermarket sales had grown to be neck and neck with the natural food stores.

click to expand the image

Even as food prices keep rising year after year, the demand for organics keeps rising faster than non-organics year after year, resulting in….

  • the expansion of existing organic food companies – both public and private,
  • the introduction of thousands of new raw & process organic food products,
  • takeovers (and mergers) of small organic independents by large food producers/retailers,
  • the introduction and expansion of private label organic brands by the large food producers/retailers,

Next pageAnimation of the Organic Food Industry and How it Has Changed – 1995-2007

TellSpec answers the question…what is in that food?

Imagine for a second that you are someone who…

  • is trying to lose weight, or
  • is allergic to peanuts, or
  • is lactose intolerant, or
  • doesn’t want to eat foods laced with pesticides, or
  • just wants to know what is in that food that they just picked up at the supermarket.

In 2013…what you would do is take a quick look at the nutritional info on the back of the package, or pull out your smartphone and consult an app that gives you the nutritional info of the average sized apple or serving of pasta salad or the nutritional info claimed by Senor Nacho Grande.

nacho chips label nutrition

In 2014, what you’re going to do is whip out your TellSpec scanner…

  • aim the TellSpec scanner at that bowl of nacho chips,
  • press the button until it beeps
  • firing a low-powered laser at the chips,
  • measuring the reflected light with a nano spectrometer, and
  • sending those measurements up to TellSpec’s cloud servers
tellspec spectrometer
The TellSpec scanner sorts these photons by wavelength and counts them. The resulting numbers, called a spectrum, describe the chemical compounds in the food.

Once in the TellSpec cloud, the data will be analyzed using a proprietary mathematical algorithm. And in less than 20 seconds, TellSpec will send the results of all that number crunching and nanophotonics back down to your smart phone, computer or tablet

tellspec phone1

Letting you know EXACTLY what is in that food you are (or were) about to eat. TellSpec will give you the…

  • Calories
  • Macronutrients
  • Micronutrients
  • Allergens
  • Chemicals
  • Ingredients

tellspec phone2

Letting you make an INFORMED decision about the food you were about to eat…or serve to your child.

  • Which could be kind of a big deal if you have a problem feeding your kid nacho chips laced with Tartrazine – a food dye made from petroleum – known to cause CANCER. (funny how the manufacturer never mentioned the tartrazine in their nutritional info graph)
  • It could also be a big deal if your kid is allergic to peanuts…which is about 99% of all kids nowadays.
  • It could also be a big deal if the reason you keep getting headaches every day is because you are sensitive to gluten or dairy or MSG or any of the chemicals found in processed foods.

tellspec phone3

And because TellSpec can track what you eat, as well as how you feel after eating, it can help identify potential food sensitivities and allow you to make changes to your diet with or without the help of your MD.

It can also track your caloric consumption, your distribution of macronutrients (carbs/fat & protein), which micronutrients are missing from your diet as well as advise you to cut back on the canned tuna sandwiches (Google tuna & mercury levels for more info).

tellspec phone4

How Cool is That?

If you’re anything like me, your mind has just been blown away by the TellSpec scanner.

And it gets even better. TellSpec is developing a software development kit that will provide developers with tools for directly accessing the food analysis data from our servers so that they can create their own amazing applications. The SDK includes source code for iPhone and Android apps, an API for TellSpec’s analysis engine, JSON specifications for data interchange, and access to information about each nutrient, chemical, allergen, and ingredient.

Unlike the fine folks at Apple and most other tech companies, the really fine folks (Isabel & Stephen) want all of the world’s software geeks to push the TellSpec technology even farther to provide even more value for the end user.

Where Can You Get a TellSpec Scanner?

You can’t get one yet 😦 The TellSpec is still in development, and as of October 1, 2013…

  • They have developed the analysis engine, coded it, and tested it, 
  • They have successfully tested three prototype scanners, including one using a nanochip,
  • They have finished the industrial design for the scanner,
  • They are well along with the user interface design;
  • and they have been doing an independent validation of the underlying algorithm.  

Now What?

If you want one of these bad boys, you can get one by supporting their IndieGoGo campaign – hurry up…time is running out.

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3
Use a div tag to center the iframe within the web page. The code below encapsulates the iframe and centers it on your web page.

4
Save the page. Use your web browser to test the new settings. Open the page in a web browser and view the iframe location. It’s now centered on the page.

Read more: http://www.ehow.com/how_5825834_center-iframe.html#ixzz2kMJXJiek

Here’s what they need – $650,000

Here’s what they need the money for:

  • Manufacturing the TellSpec scanner and get all the regulatory approvals needed to ship it.
  • Deploying the food analysis engine on servers that reliably provide quick analysis of the spectra.
  • Developing the SDK for Android and iOS platforms so others can build exciting apps.

Personally, I ponied up $420 to become a beta tester of the TellSpec scanner because I can’t wait for the production models and because I am totally geeked by the potential of this technology. I will be meeting with the founders of TellSpec next week to discuss the beta testing procedure as well as potential future applications for the technology.

Conclusion

For $150, you can grab one of 500 Early Bird Specials – You’ll receive one TellSpec scanner and two years of unlimited analysis of your food scans. Once those 500 spots are gone, the price shoots up to $200 for the next 500 people and then up to $250 for the next 3000 people.

I have no idea what they are going to cost once the IndieGoGo campaign is closed and they go on sale to the general public. But I have a feeling they’ll cost more than $250.

tellspec scanner

Plus, wouldn’t it be cool to have one of these bad boys before they go on sale at Amazon and Best Buy?

Cocoa Tea : Anti-Obesity, Anti-Oxidant, Anti-Cancer

You gotta love Mother Nature. Only she could come up with a plant – Cocoa Tea (Camellia Ptilophylla Chang) that…

  1. Prevents diet-induced obesity,
  2. Has very high levels of polyphenols and antioxidants,
  3. Shows promise as a treatment for liver cancer,
  4. Lowers levels of fat in your blood,
  5. Is a useful chemotherapeutic agent against prostate cancer,
  6. Is caffeine free, and
  7. Tastes of vanillin and jasmine

white_cocoa_tea

What is Cocoa Tea – aka Camellia Ptilophylla Chang?

Camellia Ptilophylla was discovered in 1981, growing wild in southern China. Since then, cocoa tea has been domesticated and rigorously studied by Prof. Chuang-xing Ye, of China’s Sun Yat-Sen University.

Chemically, Camellia ptilophylla is different than the tea you buy (Camellia sinensis) at your local supermarket, with three major differences.

  1. Camellia Ptilophylla aka Cocoa tea is naturally caffeine-free,
  2. Cocoa tea has high levels of the alkaloid theobromine,
  3. Cocoa tea is high in the catechin gallocatechin gallate (GCG) while regular tea is high in the catechin epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG),
  4. Cocoa tea has high levels of the alkaloid theobromine.

cocoa tea chemicals

It is these high levels of theobromine which have resulted in Camellia Ptilophylla being given the nickname of cocoa tea, as cocoa is the world’s most popular source of theobromine.

Different Types of Cocoa Tea

Like traditional tea (Camellia sinensis), cocoa tea is processed using different production methods resulting in white, green, black and oolong versions. The different methods of fermentation results in different flavors and different chemical compositions.

For example, as Camellia ptilophylla is fermented and moves from a green tea to an oolong tea and finally to a black tea…

  • Polyphenols are reduced – 38.58%, 30.41% and 23.6%,
  • Catechins are reduced – 23.51%, 17.68% and 4.02%,
  • Theaflavins are increased – 0.11%, 0.11% and 0.17%,
  • Thearubigins are increased – 4.29%, 5.00% and 9.71%,
  • Theabrownins are increased – 2.75%, 4.90% and 13.52% ),
  • along with increases in water-soluble carbohydrates, flavonoid glycoside and gallic acid.

Interestingly, levels of theobromine (3.52%, 3.43% and 3.71%) did not change with fermentation.

How should you prepare Cocoa Tea?

According to Prof. Chuang-xing Ye, to get the full benefits of cocoa tea, an infusion of Camellia ptilophylla tea leaves (g) with 50 times boiling water (ml) for 3 min is recommended. 

Why should you drink Cocoa Tea?

Even though the research looking into the health benefits of Cocoa Tea has just begun, it’s looking like a legitimate superfood. Here are four studies which highlight the potential awesomeness of cocoa tea as a health food.

Study #1

After testing a water extract of white cocoa tea (WCTE) against human prostate cancer (PCa) in vitro and in vivo, researchers found that oral administration of WCTE (0.1 and 0.2%, wt/vol) to athymic nude mice resulted in greater than 50% inhibition of tumor growth. Based upon these findings, the researchers concluded that WCTE can be a useful chemotherapeutic agent against human PCa….keeping in mind that the science around white cocoa tea is very new and it will be a long time before Big Pharma develops a WCTE pill to combat prostate cancer.

Study #2

A second study aimed to evaluate the anti-liver cancer activities of green cocoa tea infusion (GCTI) in vitro and in vivo using human hepatocarcinoma cell line HepG2 cells and nude mice xenograft model. Study results showed that GCTI significantly inhibited the proliferation of HepG2 cells in a dose-dependent manner  inducing HepG2 cells to undergo apoptosis or programmed cell death . Which is a good thing when we’re talking liver cancer cells. The study authors concluded that tumor growth was effectively inhibited by GCTI in a dose-dependent manner as indicated by the decrease in tumor volume and tumor weight after 4 weeks of treatment and that GCTI may be a potential and promising agent of natural resource to treat liver cancer

Study #3

Another cocoa tea study indicated that a single oral administration of cocoa tea extract suppressed the normal increases in plasma triacylgycerol (TG) levels when mice were fed olive (23% inhibition) or lard oil (32% inhibition).  Under the same condition, cocoa tea extract did not affect the level of plasma free fatty acid. Likewise, the extract reduced the lymphatic absorption of lipids. Also, cocoa tea extract and polyphenols isolated from cocoa tea inhibit pancreatic lipase. These findings suggest that cocoa tea has hypolipemic activity…which might be a good thing for a population with chronically elevated plasma triacylgycerol  levels due to it’s addiction to deep fried chicken nuggets and hot dog stuffed pizzas.

Study #4

To find out whether cocoa tea supplementation can improve high-fat diet-induced obesity, hyperlipidemia and hepatic steatosis, and whether such effects would be comparable to those of green tea extract, researchers studied six groups of mice that were fed with:

  • normal chow (N),
  • high-fat diet (21% butterfat + 0.15% cholesterol, wt/wt) (HF),
  • a high-fat diet supplemented with 2% green tea extract (HFLG),
  • a high-fat diet supplemented with 4% green tea extract (HFHG),
  • a high-fat diet supplemented with 2% cocoa tea extract (HFLC) and,
  • a high-fat diet supplemented with 4% cocoa tea extract (HFHC).

The researchers found that 2% and 4% dietary cocoa tea supplementation caused a dose-dependent decrease in

  • body weight,
  • fat pad mass,
  • liver weight,
  • total liver lipid,
  • liver triglyceride and cholesterol and,
  • plasma lipids (triglyceride and cholesterol).

These findings show that cocoa tea has a beneficial effect on high-fat diet-induced obesity, hepatomegaly, hepatic steatosis, and elevated plasma lipid levels in mice….comparable to green tea.

Conclusions

  1. As cocoa tea is a newly discovered substance, there is not a large body of research into it’s pros and cons,
  2. The research that has been completed looks very promising,
  3. There is a lot of upcoming research looking into the health benefits of cocoa tea,
  4. You can wait for the research, or you can try to get your hands on some cocoa tea and run your own small-scale private experiment,
  5. Unless you live in southern China, it’s pretty hard to get your hands on cocoa tea 😦

Stay tuned – I will update this post as new research is conducted.

Reference

Sustainable Livestock Production is Possible

According to a growing body of research, not only is sustainable livestock production possible, but with growing numbers of consumers expressing concern for improved animal welfare, environmental impact and the overall healthfulness of the meat they purchase, sustainable livestock production may actually soon be economically feasible.

In a recent University of Cambridge study, researchers have identified what may be the future of sustainable livestock production: silvopastoral systems which include shrubs and trees with edible leaves or fruits as well as herbage.

sustainable livestock
Silvopastoral livestock production

Professor Donald Broom, from the University of Cambridge, who led the research said: “Consumers are now demanding more sustainable and ethically sourced food, including production without negative impacts on animal welfare, the environment and the livelihood of poor producers. Silvopastoral systems address all of these concerns with the added benefit of increased production in the long term.”

In a silvopastoral system, animals are allowed to feed on a diverse group of edible plants which:

  • promotes healthy soil with better water retention,
  • makes better use of available farm land,
  • encourages predators of harmful animals,
  • minimizes greenhouse gas emissions,
  • reduces the need for herbicides,
  • minimizes contamination of local land & water,
  • improves job satisfaction for farm workers,
  • reduces injury and stress in animals,
  • improves biodiversity,
  • improves welfare and encourages biodiversity using native shrubs and trees,
  • increases human food supply,
  • produces healthier meat,
  • while enabling a profitable farming business.

And who can argue with healthier animals living in a healthier environment amongst happier ranchers working on profitable farms producing healthier meat for consumers who care about living longer & better.

cow-factory
Modern/factory livestock production

Real World Examples of Sustainable Livestock Production

According to Professor Donald Broom, “the planting as forage plants of both shrubs and trees whose leaves and small branches can be consumed by farmed animals can transform the prospects of obtaining sustainable animal production. Such planting of ‘fodder trees’ has already been successful in several countries, including the plant Chamaecytisus palmensis which is now widely used for cattle feed in Australia. Another success has been in Colombia where a mixed planting of the shrub Leucaena with a common pasture grass resulted in a 27% increase in dry matter for food and 64% increase of protein production.”

In other silvopastoral livestock systems, researchers have seen an increase in growth and milk production…all without the need of milk producing hormones like rBST.

Conclusions

  1. I like eating steaks and hamburgers…and I am not alone.
  2. I like being healthy…and I don’t believe that eating factory farmed meat is conducive to being healthy….and I am not alone.
  3. I don’t enjoy the reality of animals living in inhumane conditions just because we are either intellectually lazy, morally deficient and/or financially greedy…and I am not alone.

And when I find out about a method of sustainable livestock production that may indeed be financially viable…I hope that I am not alone in wanting to help make this possibility become a reality.

What’s Next?

If I am not alone in thinking that the silvopastoral system of sustainable livestock production is pretty darn cool…I am asking that you share this article far and wide. If more people know about the concept, more people will talk about it, and more farmers will look into it, and more people will agree to buy from those farmers and so on and so on and so on.

Reference

What Happens When A Skinny Person Gets Fat

No one ever said the world was fair.

  • Some of us can eat and drink whatever we want…and never gain a pound of body-fat.

Victorias-Secret-vs-Dove-women

  • While some of us eat healthy, eat small portions, exercise religiously…and still have to shop for Plus Size clothes.

NOT FAIR….especially in a society which:

  • Rewards women (and men) who are lean, fit and have no need to squeeze into a pair of Spanx.
  • Punishes obese women (and men) with lower pay, bad jokes and outright hostility by a growing army of douche-bags.

So, what happens when the world goes all Freaky Friday and a 39 year old woman who is naturally tall…naturally lean…while being naturally addicted to potato chips & pizza…suddenly gains 30 pounds in less than 3 months…without changing her diet or level of physical activity?

  1. Does she freak out and start snorting diet pills?
  2. Does she go into denial and pretend that she still fits into her uber-skinny “skinny jeans”?
  3. Does she morph into a rabid Fat Acceptance advocate denying that obesity is a symptom of less-than-optimum health?
  4. Or does she step back, look critically at the situation and start looking for causes, cures and support?

Here’s what happened

About two weeks ago, I got a call from Ms. Skinny/Fat to discuss her recent & unexpected weight gain.

She told me that how, after a brief period of denial (#2), she had become concerned that this weight gain might be an indicator of a hormonal imbalance or some other health issue…and that she had better do something about it (#4). She had already booked an appointment with her family doctor, but since she is friends with one of the world’s greatest weight loss experts (moi), she decided to solicit my opinion.

Over a cup of coffee with her and her husband, we discussed the past six months of her life…what she ate, when she ate it, her work life, her home life, her medical history, her stress levels, her husband, her plans for the next six months, etc…

We looked into every nook and cranny of her physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual aspect of her life…trying to find clues for why her body decided to stop being skinny and start being pudgy.

What we found was that a teeny-tiny dose of mirtazapine (1/4th of the normal starting dose – prescribed for anxiety) was most likely the culprit to have caused a significant shift in her appetite, metabolism, insulin sensitivity, leptin sensitivity and ultimately caused this naturally skinny person to get fat

After a quick consultation with her doctor, Ms. Skinny/Fat made 4 immediate changes to her daily routine:

  1. She started bleeding herself off of the mirtazapine
  2. She started taking a new prescription for anxiety
  3. She started a CBT/Mindfulness Mediatation program for anxiety
  4. She removed ALL starchy carbs from her diet in an attempt to compensate for any potential insulin/leptin sensitivty problems

The Result?

  • Her appetite dropped immediately
  • Her weight gain stopped immediately
  • After one week, weight loss has begun

The Moral(s) of the Story?

  1. It doesn’t take much for a naturally skinny person to get booted out of their excluisive little club. A slight shift in hormones or brain chemicals can have a drastic effect upon body composition.
  2. If you are the type of skinny person who thinks that fatties are fat because they are lazy and without self-control, you may want to put down your prejudices and give your brain a shake.
  3. Obesity IS a symptom of something going on in your body. A perfectly healthy body is NOT obese. Whether the cause of your obesity is easy to find and/or easy to correct is another question altogether. In this case, it was pretty easy to find and seems to be on its way to being corrected.
  4. If you are the type of obese person who blames their metabolism for their obesity, you might be correct in the diagnosis, but you are 100% wrong if you think the situation is hopeless. Obesity isn’t a curse. It’s a symptom of imbalance. Discover the imbalance and try to correct it.

Reference

The Science Behind Ice Cream Addiction

Most of you can look at this picture of an ice cream sundae, appreciate it’s creamy goodness and move on with the rest of the article.

However, for an unlucky minority, just the very sight of this frozen delight is enough to set off a powerful dopamine response in their brain – leading to a burst of neuro-chemical happiness and an almost irresistible desire to find the nearest ice cream parlor.

For those people, the mental association between this picture of an ice cream sundae and the real thing is so powerful (due to the dopamine), that they can already imagine the pleasure they will receive as they dive into that giant bowl of ice creamy goodness….leading to an actual ice cream addiction…or potato chip addiction…or candy addiction…or chocolate addiction…

And, considering we live in a world where ice cream sundaes aren’t hard to come by, a large percentage of those dopamine-flooded individuals are going to indulge in a bowl or two.

And it’s not just ice cream.

Scientists believe that this study points the way to figuring out why some people are more strongly motivated by environmental cues and therefore at a greater risk of compulsive/addictive behavior.

And it’s not just over-eating…this research could apply to all manner of addictions – food, drugs, sex, danger, my blog, etc…

Reference

Is Magnesium a Cure for Insomnia and Restless Legs?

Magnesium deficiency has been linked to a number of clinical conditions including hypertension, myocardial infarction, cardiac dysrhythmias, coronary spasm, premature artherosclerosis and diabetes.

It is also used as a treatment for angina, asthma, gall stones, menstrual cramps, high blood pressure, hyperactivity, glucose intolerance, diabetes, hypoglycemia, fatigue, fibromyalgia, prevention of hearing loss, kidney stones, leg cramps, migraine, osteoporosis, PMS, prostate issues and INSOMNIA.

And according to government data, 68% of Americans do not consume the recommended intakes of magnesium and 19% of Americans do not consume even half of the recommended intakes.

Not good….and up until 5 years ago, that was me.

Until I was introduced to magnesium supplements during a health & fitness trade show.

A rep for Natural Calm gave me a bunch of samples and while I sleep pretty well, I did notice an immediate effect on my sleep. My mind stopped obsessing over what I did or didn’t do that day or what I had to do tomorrow. Just calm.

And it made me wonder…could something as simple as magnesium be a cure for insomnia?

Since then, I have had no qualms recommending this product to clients & friends who are having trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep or just getting their busy minds to quiet so they can relax.

A mug of their lemon flavor drink about an hour before bed does the trick for me every time.

And recently, while searching for a natural treatment for a friend with neuropathy in both legs, I found a bunch of research about magnesium oil helping to relieve muscle spasms, tension and various forms of neuropathy – pain, restless legs, itching, tingling, etc.

Google also told me that Natural Calm makes a magnesium oil.

So, I emailed the fine folks at Natural Calm and told them about my friend and they sent me a bunch of samples – Magnesium Oil & Gel. (being a blogger can have its perks)

And knock on wood, it’s been a great success. Applied on her legs after a  hot bath and just before bed, my friend has seen a significant reduction in pain, tingling and restlessness.

Conclusion

I was a fan before trying the oil…and I am an even bigger fan now.

So, if you think that supplementing with magnesium may be helpful to you, I can honestly & wholeheartedly recommend both the Natural Calm drink and their Magnesium Oil.

NOTE – You can buy Natural Calm and Magnesium Oil at these links

NOTE #2 – I would love to hear about your experiences (good or bad) with magnesium.

Reference

Will Obesity Bankrupt the USA?

Last month, the American Medical Association classified obesity as a disease.

The very next day, representatives of both the Senate and House of Reps introduced bipartisan bills that would require Medicare to pick up the tab for obesity treatments…including prescriptions, counselling and bariatric surgeries.

One of those bills, the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act, presents the following findings:

Congress makes the following findings:

(1) According to the Centers for Disease Control, [highlight color=”yellow”]about 35 percent of adults aged 65 and over were obese[/highlight] in the period of 2007 through 2010, representing over 8 million adults aged 65 through 74.

(2) Obesity [highlight color=”green”]increases the risk for chronic diseases and conditions[/highlight], including high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

(3) More than half of Medicare beneficiaries are treated for 5 or more chronic conditions per year. The [highlight color=”yellow”]rate of obesity among Medicare patients doubled from 1987 to 2002, and spending on those individuals more than doubled[/highlight].

(4) Obese men and women at age 65 have decreased life expectancy of 1.6 years for men and 1.4 years for women.

(5) The [highlight color=”pink”]direct and indirect cost of obesity is more than $450 billion annually[/highlight].

(6) On average, an obese Medicare beneficiary costs [highlight color=”green”]$1,964 more than a normal-weight beneficiary[/highlight].

(7) The prevalence of obesity among older Americans is growing at a linear rate and, left unchanged, [highlight color=” blue”]nearly half of the elderly population will be obese in 2030[/highlight] according to a Congressional Research Report on obesity.

And that’s just America’s seniors we’re talking about.

  • What about the huge glut of boomers just entering their senior years?
  • What about all of America’s children raised on a diet of processed food and soda?
  • What about all of America’s poor who can’t afford to eat healthy food?

What happens when they become seniors and medicare starts footing the bill? What happens when medicare coverage evolves into Obamacare coverage and everyone in America becomes eligible for government funded obesity treatments?

And we haven’t even discussed health conditions related to obesity that are already covered by medicare and Obamacare.

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Certain forms of cancer
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Stroke
  • Sleep apnea
  • Osteoarthritis and joint replacement
  • Liver disease
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Depression
  • Etc, etc, etc…

Because all of these medical conditions are related to obesity and primarily caused by the same “modern” lifestyle that causes obesity….

  • Inactive
  • Stressed out
  • Low nutrition diet
  • High calorie diet
  • High consumption of processed food

And it’s not getting any better. According to the OECD and CDC, 35% of Americans were obese as of 2010…and that percentage is climbing year after year after year.

obesity-rates

What happens if we keep getting fatter?

Projections indicate that if we keep getting heavier at the projected rate, “the number of new cases of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, hypertension and arthritis could increase 10 times between 2010 and 2020—and double again by 2030”.  

This means that America could be looking at “more than 6 million cases of type 2 diabetes, 5 million cases of coronary heart disease and stroke, and more than 400,000 cases of cancer in the next two decades”.

Obesity could contribute to more than 6 million cases of type 2 diabetes, 5 million cases of coronary heart disease and stroke, and more than 400,000 cases of cancer in the next two decades.

And just in case you’re one of those few people who looks after themselves and doesn’t have to worry about obesity, heart disease, etc…

Remember that these health conditions are costing all of us real money…

obesity costs

As you can see in the chart above (look at the SOLID line), total medical expenditure costs per person increase exponentially as individual Body Mass Index rate rise linearly.

Which is not good considering the public cost of obesity is going to keep rising…which means [highlight color=”yellow”]your insurance premiums and tax burden is going to keep rising[/highlight]…even if you’re in tip-top shape.

More Obesity Economic Data

  1. Estimates of the medical cost of adult obesity in the US range from $147 billion to nearly $210 billion per annum.
  2. Obesity costs Medicare $61.8 billion per year
  3. Obesity makes up 8.5% of the Medicare budget
  4. Obesity makes up 11.8% of the Medicaid budget
  5. Based on current trends, the cost of obesity to the US are expected to increase by between $50 and $70 billion per year

And that’s not including indirect costs such as lost productivity, insurance premiums and lost wages. It has been estimated that [highlight color=”yellow”]America could be losing up to $580 billion in GDP per year[/highlight] thanks to lost productivity due to obesity.

The following infographic, created by the Public Health Dept. of George Washington U highlights these financial costs (and future cost estimates). The full infographic is available here.

obesity financial cost

Is there hope for America’s economic waistline?

YES. Analysis of the current data indicates that if the average American BMI was reduced by just 5% by the year 2030, rates of disease would drop significantly and nearly every state in the nation would save between 6.5 to 7.9% in healthcare costs.

For a giant state like California, this would mean an additional $81.7 billion dollars not spent on obesity & related illnesses.

And how do we reduce those obesity rates???

That’s the $81.7 billion dollar question.

  • You’ve got nutrition experts saying that they need to educate the public on how to eat healthfully.
  • You’ve got politicians eager to enact taxes and bans to force us to stop eating junk food
  • You’ve got diet gurus publishing a new crop of diet books every January
  • You’ve got celebrity personal trainers willing to sell you their master plan

And so far, it ain’t working 😦

fat-couple walking 

Reference

Food Addiction: It’s In Your Eyes

As a personal trainer, fitness blogger and all around health & fitness geek, I am constantly reading scientific journals looking for the latest research about nutrition, obesity, exercise science and overall health and longevity. And every now and then, I come across something truly interesting….to my geeky brain.

Something like this research about measuring the pleasure response we get from eating chocolate.

The Science

In this study, researchers from Drexel University found that they could accurately measure our brain’s pleasure response to consuming chocolate with the use of a common, low-cost ophthalmological technique called electroretinography (ERG).

Why is this important?

It’s important because not only is food how we deliver nutrients into our bodies, it’s one of the most powerful ways we generate pleasure in our brains.

woman-eating-chocolate-

Unfortunately, there are a few nasty side effects to eating foods that give us a big boost of pleasure chemicals….calories, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, inflammation, cancer, etc…

And in 2013, it’s quite obvious that we have a pretty serious problem with those side effects.

Processed food manufacturers have found ways to manipulate their products so that our pleasure centers are constantly issuing commands to eat more, more, more. And for those of us without the willpower of a Spartan, we eat more…and more…and more.

With the result being an epidemic of food addiction, obesity, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.

What this new research could do for us is provide a truly “pharmacological approach to the brain’s response to food.” No more airy-fairy talk about cravings and food addiction and willpower and how obese people just don’t try hard enough. If and when this technique is validated by additional studies, mainstream medicine would be able to:

  1. Quickly and accurately measure how different foods impact the pleasure center in our brain
  2. Research ways to make “healthier” foods more pleasurable
  3. Research ways to make “unhealthy” foods less pleasurable,
  4. Thereby boosting our willpower against potato chips and chocolate bars
  5. Eliminating food addiction
  6. And helping us fall in love with broccoli & kale

What does this mean to you?

At this point…nothing.

This is the first study of this technique, and it was a very small study too – only 9 people. But it’s a great start.

There are a ton of ongoing studies looking at how food gives us pleasure in the hopes that we can manipulate these pleasure responses with drugs or medical instruments or diets focused on manipulating macronutrient consumption, etc, etc, etc.

Unfortunately, the gold standard for meauring the effectiveness of these approaches is with the use of a PET scanner…which costs $2000+ per session, is more invasive and takes more than an hour to generate a scan.

With electroretinography, the Medicare reimbursement cost for clinical use of ERG is about $150 per session, and each session generates 200 scans in just two minutes.

ERG

And if you’re a drug company looking to test a compound designed to increase our desire for “healthy” food and eliminate food addiction, the lower financial & time costs associated with this new test is a very big deal. It would allow them to test more products, get successful ones to market sooner and offer them at a theoretically lower cost to the consumer.

And who wouldn’t want a magic pill that makes them think cauliflower tastes better than chocolate?

Reference