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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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.

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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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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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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
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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.

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  • 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.

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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

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

health fitness exercise healthhabits

Our Health Care System is Completely Backwards

Earlier this evening, I was reading a business book entitled Breaking the Time Barrier. The book is written for small business people (like me) in service industries who bill their clients on an hourly basis. Written as a pseudo-fable, the author tries to hammer home the lesson that I should be billing my clients based on the value I bring to them…not by selling blocks of time to them at an hourly rate.

The author recommends that I…

  1. determine the goals of a potential personal training client – ie a 20 lb weight loss or a 10 pt. drop in systolic blood pressure,
  2. identify the value of their goals to them. How much do they value their health, fitness, appearance?
  3. Offer solutions designed to achieve their goals
  4. Charge them a percentage of the value of their goals in return for my solution

…as opposed to selling them hour long chunks of my day..with the implied promise that those hours are going to add up to their goals…of a 20 lb weight loss or a 10 pt. drop in systolic blood pressure.

And that got me thinking about other personal trainers…and the fitness industry…and then the entire health care system. And by the end of my pondering, I concluded that our health care system is completely backwards.

Our Current Health Care System

Currently, we have a society where rates of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, dementia, depression et al increase year after year after decade. And instead of the health care system offering solutions to help us achieve our goal of good health, it offers us products & services designed to…

  1. mask the symptoms of disease
  2. extend life after the medical condition has become critical

poppin-pills

We’re not paying for health…we’re paying to manage pain, disability and disease.

[colored_box color=”green”]If I was a cynical man, I might start thinking that our health care system is a bit of a racket. Why focus on keeping their patients healthy when they can sell them lots of stuff when they get sick?[/colored_box]

But what if doctors could make a good living and keep us healthy at the same time?

  • What if our health care system taught us how to eat for health?
  • What if our health care system taught us how to be active for good health?
  • What if our health care system taught us how to shop for and cook healthy meals?
  • What if our health care system made healthy food inexpensive?
  • What if our health care system made health & fitness cool like Hollywood makes really bad movie sequels seem cool?
  • What if our health care system made access to exercise facilities universal?
  • What if our health care system focused most of it’s efforts on keeping us healthy?

And what if you paid for these services in advance…like you do everything else?

For example…

  • If you want shelter from the elements, you buy a house or rent an apartment.
  • If you want to get rid of hunger, you buy food
  • If you want to travel from home to work, you get a bike or a car or a transit pass.
  • If you don’t want to be lonely, you talk to people, go on dates, nod and smile at the stuff they find important…

We all pay a price in some form or another to achieve the goals that are important to us.

So why don’t we do that with our health care system?

Why don’t we pay doctors to keep us healthy? Isn’t that what we want? To be healthy…and fit…and strong…and attractive.

seniors exercise fitness

So why do we pay the health care system to mask our illnesses and keep us alive in hospital beds while our family goes bankrupt trying to keep us alive just a little bit longer?

Can anyone answer that question for me?

The Secret Behind Your Addiction to Junk Food

Pulitzer prize winning journalist Michael Moss spent four years researching the scientific research that goes into each bag, box or bottle of processed / junk food.

And what he found, should freak you out.

Teams of scientists spending millions of dollars researching bliss points and maximum bite force and sensory specific satiety…all with the aim of keeping you eating ‘food’ that is high in calories, sugar, salt & fat and virtually devoid of actual nutrition.

And they are very, very good at it.

And because…

  1. They are very, very good at their jobs.
  2. Their lobbyists are good at influencing politicians
  3. Government heavily subsidizes their industry
  4. They spend billions on marketing to both adults & children
  5. And most of us are equal parts lazy and uneducated about nutrition

…the sales of ‘real food’ continue to drop while the sales of ‘processed food’ continue to rise.

Also rising are….

  1. The rate of childhood and adult obesity
  2. The rate of type 2 diabetes
  3. The rate of heart disease
  4. The rate of obesity-related cancers
  5. The rate of Alzheimers
  6. Healthcare costs associated with these conditions

Something to think about the next time you go to the supermarket.

You really should buy Salt Sugar Fat. Or at least take it out from the library

Reference

Excess Sugar Linked to Cancer

I’ve got some bad news for everyone who started off their morning with a big bowl of sugary cereal…or a couple of donuts…or cinnamon-raisin bagels…or a giant coffee shop muffin…or a high-cal-caffeine-sugar bomb from Starbucks.

In a new study, Dr. Custodia Garcia-Jimenez has discovered that “high sugar levels increases the activity of a gene widely implicated in cancer progression”.

Dr Garcia Jimenez’s research investigates “how cells in the intestine respond to sugars and signal to the pancreas to release insulin, the key hormone that controls blood sugar levels. Sugars in the intestine trigger cells to release a hormone called GIP that enhances insulin release by the pancreas.

His research showed “that the ability of the intestinal cells to secrete GIP is controlled by a protein called β-catenin, and that the activity of β-catenin is strictly dependent on sugar levels.

sugar-diabetes-cancer

What Does This Mean To YOU?… 

  • Increased activity of β-catenin is known to be a major factor in the development of many cancers and can make normal cells immortal, a key step in early stages of cancer progression.
  • Dr Garcia Jimenez’s study tells us that high (but not normal) sugar levels induce nuclear accumulation of β-catenin and leads to cell proliferation.
  • Ergo…high sugar = increased activity of β-catenin = normal cells become cancerous

Which means…if you are eating the Standard American Diet (high in processed carbs & sugar)…not only are you increasing your odds of obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes…you ARE increasing your odds of dying from pancreatic cancer or colon cancer.

If this bothers you, and you want to make a change, might I suggest you download my FREE eBook – A Paleo Diet for the 21st Century.

Reference

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UNCLE SAM EXERCISE health-healthhabits-fitness

Exercise or Die

I know that this sounds like the crazed rant of a wheat-grass swilling fitness-nazi, but hear me out…

In a recent paper published in the Annals of Clinical and Laboratory Science, Dr. Joseph Knight crunched all of the available scientific data and came to the conclusion that “inactivity significantly increases the risk of numerous diseases/disorders, including several forms of cancer, diabetes, hypertension, coronary and cerebrovascular diseases, overweight/obesity, and all-cause mortality, among others. Unless there is a reversal of this sedentary lifestyle, the incidence of these diseases/disorders will increase, life expectancy will decrease, and medical costs will continue to rise”.

  • This means that you probably won’t get to retire the South Pacific to live out your golden years, bounce your grand-kids on your knee or grow old and grey with your spouse.
  • And before you die, you will spend years and years dealing with all of the fun stuff associated with cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and morbid obesity.

Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?

But maybe you think this is just speculation…maybe you’re a “show me the facts” kind of person.

Here are some Facts

  • In 2004, the CDC concluded that 300,000 to 400,000 Americans died from poor diet and physical inactivity – that 16% of all deaths.
  • In 2002, the World Health Organization estimated that there are 2,000,000 deaths w0rldwide each year from physical inactivity.

If that isn’t scary enough, we can look at the studies which show that “long-lived species are more efficient in cellular maintenance than short lived species, suggesting that enhancement of the body’s maintenance systems may slow the aging process. Since aging results from the accumulation of cellular damage, interventions in poor lifestyles may prevent damage, promote repair, and thereby increase life expectancy. In fact, about two-thirds of the major causes of death are, to a significant degree, lifestyle related.” And as noted by Mokdad et al, the major “actual causes of death” in the year 2000 were physical inactivity and poor nutrition.

  • Tobacco (435 000 deaths; 18.1% of total US deaths)
  • Poor diet and physical inactivity (400 000 deaths; 16.6%)
  • Alcohol consumption (85 000 deaths; 3.5%).

Other actual causes of death were microbial agents (75 000), toxic agents (55 000), motor vehicle crashes (43 000), incidents involving firearms (29 000), sexual behaviors (20 000), and illicit use of drugs (17 000).

What does physical inactivity actually do to your body?

According to Dr. Walter Bortz, “our cultural sedentariness, recently acquired, lies at the base of much human ill-being. Physical inactivity predictably leads to deterioration of many body functions. A number of these effects coexist so frequently in our society that they merit inclusion in a specific syndrome, the disuse syndrome. The identifying characteristics of the syndrome are cardiovascular vulnerability, obesity, musculoskeletal fragility, depression and premature aging’.

And since this way-too-easily reproducible syndrome affects the young as well as the old, we can not blame “normal aging” for the onset of the diseases related to the Disuse Syndrome.

And as we know, health care doesn’t come cheap. What do all of these lifestyle diseases cost us?

In 1987, “the direct and indirect costs of sedentary lifestyle to chronic health conditions were reported to be in excess of $150 billion (cost in 2000 dollars for 1987 incidences) (Pratt, Macera & Wang, 2000). As health care costs are $1.3 trillion/year in the US, a rough approximation is that physical inactivity accounts for approximately 15% of the US health care budget.

But it doesn’t have to be this way

The NIH reported in 2009 that…

  1. Exercise improves quality of life
  2. Quality of life improvements are dose dependent on volume of exercise. Small amount of exercise = small improvement to Q of L. Large amount of exercise = large improvement to Q of L.
  3. Q of L improvements were independent to weight loss.

And if that wasn’t enough proof for you, we can look at another pile of research which shows that while quality of life, physical balance, flexibility, mental health, etc naturally decline over the years, being physically active significantly slows down these “natural” signs of aging.

In fact, it has been shown that seniors can significantly reverse the severity of these conditions after taking up an exercise routine.

Conclusion

Thanks to advances in technology, modern humans no longer have to live the physically punishing lives of our ancestors.

  • This is good – it allows us to develop our minds, live longer, live better, etc..
  • Unfortunately, it has also made us sick, fat and lazy.

Your takeaway from this research?

  • Exercise or die.

UNCLE SAM EXERCISE health-healthhabits-fitness

Reference

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Why do Health Insurance Companies Cover Weight Loss Drugs but not Fresh Fruit and Vegetables?

Last month, Reuters reported that America’s third-largest health insurer, Aetna Inc would provide coverage for weight loss drugs sold by Vivus (Qsymia / Qnexa) and Arena Pharmaceuticals (Belviq).

WBB Securities LLC analyst Stephen Brozak commented that “this is probably the simplest business decision on Aetna’s plate in all of 2012, because to not reimburse this would have put them in the crosshairs of every single healthcare decision maker in the United States. Everyone acknowledges that we have a pandemic obesity problem, and to not be a part of a solution even if its a marginal solution, means you are part of the problem,” he added.

Hmmmm…marginal solution???

Why would Aetna choose to cover their costs of a marginal obesity solution while ignoring weight-loss / disease prevention solutions that actually work?

  • Like a diet high in fresh fruit & vegetables

Maybe it’s like my Twitter buddy @powerfulhunger said…that it’s too impractical to administer.

But then again…maybe it isn’t.

Maybe it isn’t impractical for Aetna et al to partner with America’s  food retailers to provide an instant percentage discount on all fresh/frozen fruit and vegetables.

Let’s use an imaginary Aetna client to test my hypothesis…

  1. Aetna client walks into WalMart, Kroger, Costco, etc…
  2. Aetna client picks up prescription from pharmacy
  3. Aetna client presents Aetna insurance card to pharmacist
  4. Aetna client pays discounted price for their prescription
  5. Aetna client walks over to the WalMart, Kroger, Costco fresh/frozen produce section
  6. Aetna client loads up their cart with produce
  7. Aetna client presents Aetna insurance card to cashier
  8. Aetna client pays discounted price for their produce

Doesn’t seem that impractical to me.

But then again…what the heck do I know about HEALTH insurance?

Reference

A Really, Really, Really, Really Good Reason to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Early this morning…while waiting in line for my morning cup of joe, I watched an overweight mom buy her obese daughter a giant chocolate chip muffin.

About two hours later, I read this study which examines how obesity promotes the growth of cancerous tumors.

THE SCIENCE

In the first part of the research, the scientists found that tumors grew much faster in obese mice than they did in lean mice. They also observed that there were far more white adipose tissue cells (called adipose stromal cells) in obese mice than in lean mice and thus turned their focus on the role of these cells.

In the second part of the research, they found that these adipose stromal cells were being incorporated into tumor-associated blood vessels. And since tumor-associated blood vessels serve to increase tumor growth by feeding them oxygen and nutrients…this isn’t a good thing.

The researchers noted that “the ability of adipose stromal cells to contribute to the formation of tumor-associated blood vessels is likely one of the main reasons that the excess of these cells in tumors was associated with increased malignant cell proliferation and tumor growth”.

Or in other words….your body takes cells from your fat tissue and uses them to feed cancerous tumors.

Not good….and just another reason why it drives me nuts when otherwise caring parents let their kids become obese.

[box type=”important”]If you know any parents who need a wake-up call regarding the health of their little butterballs….please forward them this article[/box]

Reference

Childhood Obesity: Bruised Feelings v.s. Logic

Childhood obesity is a significant health issue in America and around the world.

Unfortunately for America’s little butterballs, they live in a world where….

  1. Everyone want quick fixes to complex problems
  2. Gov’t & NGOs think that education is the cure-all for obesity & related diseases
  3. Way too many people feel that their bruised feelings trump logic & common sense.

Exhibit #1

Minnesota Blue Cross released the following two videos as part of their ‘Better Example’ anti-obesity campaign. The gist of the videos is that parents need to start setting a better example for their kids by making healthier food choices.

Makes sense to me….parents eat junk food…kids eat junk food…parents eat healthy food…kids eat healthy food…parents are lazy…kids are lazy…parents are physically active…kids are physically active.

Monkey see Monkey do….Unfortunately, not everyone sees it this way.

Some people see this anti-obesity campaign as:

  • A personal attack directed at them

I know no one will ever believe me when I say this, so fine. Whatever. But since, apparently, this isn’t evident even among health professionals churning out ad campaigns, I do not fucking eat chocolate cereal and buckets of ice cream. Here is what I actually do: Pretty much every morning before work I walk 1.1 miles uphill to a coffee shop, which is across the street from the organic co-op where I do all my grocery shopping. I eat normal, human amounts of unprocessed, fresh, largely local foods. I have no mobility problems. I have flawless cholesterol and blood pressure. I never get colds, I have never been hospitalized. I have a great job, I make a good living, I’m in an incredibly happy relationship. Sometimes I eat dessert, sometimes I don’t. I pay taxes. I take care of my family. I do not commit crimes. I’m nice to strangers. In general, I think you could say that I contribute more to the world than I take out of it.

And I’m a fucking epidemic? I’m a problem?

You have the gall to make generalizations about my life because, in your eyes, I superficially resemble a massive, diverse swath of the population whose lives you’ve also deigned to generalize? Whose complex, painful, messy, joyous lives you’ve boiled down to, “Har har too many Cheetos”? Please.

Even if I did eat a bucket of pancake-flavored ice cream for breakfast, burrito ice cream for lunch, and salisbury steak ice cream for dinner (OMPH GROMPH GROMPH), I still shouldn’t have to justify my existence to the world in the way I just did. But the fact that I exist, and I am not the sinister straw-fatty pictured in the above commercial—doesn’t it seem likely that there are other fat people like me out there who also aren’t lying about their lifestyles? And in that case, isn’t this commercial FUCKING USELESS NONSENSE? Congratulations! You guys totally “got serious” and took down not-the-problem-at-all.

Lindy West – Jezebel

  • Systemic prejudice against obese people

There have always been fat people. There are fat people like me, who hardly ever eat any processed foods. There are fat people with glandular issues. There are disabled fat people who would love to exercise but can’t. There are healthy fat people. And sure, there are fat people who—fuck it—just really really like Cheetos. Guess what? Those people are allowed to exist too! There are a million different kinds of fat people in the world because FAT PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE. And kids are people. And if your solution to this “problem” is telling already vulnerable fat kids that they’re an epidemic that’s ruining the world, then fuck you.

Sheeeeesh…what a cry-baby.

She actually makes some cogent arguments about how America’s food production & distribution companies need to accept responsibility for creating an obesogenic marketplace, but she totally blows it by whining about how mean everyone is being to her.

The Facts…as I see ’em

  • Obesity is caused by a mixture of nature & nurture
  • We can’t do anything about nature – your DNA is your DNA – deal with it
  • We can do something about nurture – develop Health Habits
  • The world is full of a-holes who like to insult people based on their obesity, skin color, sexuality, height, lack of hair, abundance of hair, clothing, musical preferences, etc…

Quit acting like a victim, take responsibility for your life and grow a thicker skin

Reference

America’s Great Big Fat Problem…is getting worse

America has a big, big, big problem.

According to the report F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012, “if obesity rates continue on their current trajectories, by 2030…

  • 13 states could have adult obesity rates above 60 percent,
  • 39 states could have rates above 50 percent,
  • and all 50 states could have rates above 44 percent”.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, this could lead to a 10x increase in the number of “new cases of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, hypertension and arthritis between 2010 and 2020—and double again by 2030”.

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.

But maybe you’re like me and take your health/fitness seriously and you don’t need to worry about these health warnings.

Unfortunately, this rise in obesity rates is going to affect you financially.

By 2030, medical costs associated with treating preventable obesity-related diseases are estimated to increase by $48 billion to $66 billion per year in the United States, and the loss in economic productivity could be between $390 billion and $580 billion annually by 2030.

Although the medical cost of adult obesity in the United States is difficult to calculate, current estimates range from $147 billion to nearly $210 billion per year.

This means….

  • Your health insurance rates will increase
  • Social healthcare costs increase
  • Federal & state tax revenues are reduced due to lost productivity

And we all know what happens when government revenues can’t keep up with government spending…

  • Your taxes are increased, and
  • The quality & quantity of government services are decreased

so…what do YOU think…is it time that we did something real about reducing obesity across the board???

Reference

America’s Free Market Health Care System Sucks

When it comes to the America’s healthcare system… the free market sucks.

Here’s why:

  • Health care is a very complex marketplace.
  • An unfortunate result of that complexity is an economic condition called information asymmetry  in which consumers do not have the information required to determine which product/treatment is best.
  • Because of this imbalance in information, it is ONLY at a systemic level that WE can figure out which healthcare decisions work best and which are not worth the money.

And while that may sound a little Big-Brotherish…it’s true.

Heck…even Novartis chairman Daniel Vasella thinks so:

In America, no one has incentives to make quality and cost-effective outcomes the goal. There are so many stakeholders and they each want to protect themselves. Someone needs to ask, ‘What are the critical elements to increase quality?’ That’s what we’re going to pay for, nothing else.

It pains me to say this as a free-market advocate, but you have to have [the] government act in this case. Health care is very complex. Only at a systemic level can you figure out what works best based on the evidence, and what procedures and treatments are not worth the money

And unfortunately for my American cousins, their free market system of healthcare focuses on selling products & services…not producing the best healthcare outcomes for the American population.

For example:

  • Smoking rates are higher in France than in the United States, so the French population has higher rates of lung disease. Yet the French system is able to treat the disease far more effectively than happens in the United States, with levels of severity and fatality three times lower than those in this country. And yet France spends eight times less on treatments per person than the U.S. system.
  • Or consider Britain, which handles diabetes far more effectively than the United States, while spending less than half of what we spend per person. Studies have shown that the British system is five times more productive in managing diabetes than is the United States.

Successful healthcare occurs when the focus is on results and not on sales figures.

And until that shift in philosophy happens, Americans…and Canadians..and French..and British…and Brazilians… and every other person in the world will be receiving sub-standard healthcare.

[box type=”note”]As a Canadian, I can report that my non-Free Market healthcare system also fails badly when it comes to looking at the big picture. Instead of focusing on results, Canada’s system focuses on treatments and wait times and availability. We spend less than 1% of the healthcare budget on disease prevention even though the costs associated with poor lifestyle choices are going through the roof.[/box]

 Reference

Childhood Obesity Leads to Heart Disease

Dutch researchers have found that 2/3 of severely obese children (aged 2–18 yrs) have been diagnosed with at least one cardiovascular risk factor:

  • 56% of the kids had hypertension,
  • 14% had high blood glucose,
  • 0.7% had type 2 diabetes,
  • 54% had low HDL-cholesterol

Even scarier….62% of severely obese children aged ≤12 years already had one or more cardiovascular risk factors.

Study Highlights

  • The definition of severe obesity started at a body mass index (BMI) of 20.5 for a 2 year old, at 31 for a 12 year old, and at 35 for an 18 year old.
  • Only one child’s obesity was attributable to medical rather than lifestyle factors.
  • Nearly one in three severely obese children came from one parent families.

Study Conclusion

“The prevalence of impaired fasting glucose in these children is worrying, considering the increasing prevalence worldwide of type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents,” write the authors. “Likewise, the high prevalence of hypertension and abnormal lipids may lead to cardiovascular disease in young adulthood,” they add. And they conclude: “Internationally accepted criteria for defining childhood obesity and guidelines for early detection and treatment of severe childhood obesity and underlying ill health are urgently needed.”

My Conclusion

Childhood obesity isn’t cute… and parents who enable it are doing their kids a HUGE disservice. 

 

Reference

Does Personalized Cancer Treatment Signal The End of Cancer?

As a giant health & fitness geek, I am always reading scientific journals…looking for ways to help people live longer & better lives.

But when my Mom was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, my point of view changed. I have been spending a ton of time looking at the most recent, bleeding edge science being conducted by cancer researchers.

And a lot of that research kept pointing to the type of personalized cancer treatment being done at the Princess Margaret Hospital here in Toronto.

What is Personalized Cancer Treatment?

In it’s most basic sense, Personalized Cancer Medicine is a multi-faceted approach to care that focuses on the unique nature of each patient: finding the right treatment for the right patient at the right time.

That means, instead of the current “one size fits all” approach to cancer, doctors will base cancer treatment on a better understanding of the unique character of each cancer and each patient, and as a result…will be able to provide people with more effective and less toxic treatments.

And considering how crappy my Mom felt during her most recent round of chemo…the idea of more effective and less toxic treatments has spurred me to write this article and start working at getting her enrolled into this type of treatment program.

Why isn’t my Mom receiving this treatment already?

This was the question I had for her oncologist…and the answer is that most of the techniques and technologies needed to implement Personalized Cancer Medicine are currently at the research stage. The only way to get this treatment now is to qualify for a clinical trial.

And you can’t get into a trial until you have already undergone the current standard of treatment.

That means 2 more rounds of chemo for my Mom before she has another CT scan to see if her cancer has shrunk.

What’s Next?

We’ve all been touched by cancer. Maybe it was a parent or grandparent. For some of us, it was a spouse or a child.

Either way, we’ve all been scared witless by a diagnosis of cancer. As a result, cancer research receives a ton of money in the form of donations and government support – we love our families & we hate cancer.

Unfortunately, a lot of that money keeps being plowed into finding ways to improve the effectiveness of the current approaches to cancer treatment. Maybe it’s time to shift our thinking and shift some of that money towards a new approach to cancer treatment…to a more personalized approach.

[box type=”note”]If you think that this idea of Personalized Cancer Medicine is a good idea, please help to spread the word by sharing this article.[/box]

If you really, really think that Personalized Cancer Medicine is a good idea, the Princess Margaret Hospital is on the cutting edge of this research and have just kicked off a BILLION DOLLAR CHALLENGE to make personalized cancer medicine the gold standard around the world.

And they would be happy to take your donation and apply it directly to Personalized Cancer Research.

[box type=”important”] It must take some big cojones to ask for a billion dollars. Especially with so many people people being unemployed right now. If you can donate something, that would be awesome (me and my Mom thank you in advance). But if you can’t spare the cash right now, please, please, please share this post online – Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linked In, Email…[/box]

REFERENCE

exercise-is-medicine-health-fitness-healthhabits-

Exercise Is Medicine

I am a big believer in the power of social media as a tool to share information, affect public opinion and empower the little guy.

I am also a big believer in the power of daily exercise as a tool to keep you healthy, fit and looking super-sexy.

To that end, I would like to suggest that we all begin using the hashtag #ExerciseIsMedicine whenever we’re tweeting or re-tweeting a story about exercise.

Thanks in advance.

Doug 

22 Recommendations for a Healthier Ontario

Earlier today, Cancer Care Ontario and Public Health Ontario released a report detailing 22 recommendations to improve the health of Ontario.

And some Ontarians are losing their minds over some of the “recommendations”

What do you think?

http://2071264.polldaddy.com/s/22-recommendations-for-a-healthier-ontario?iframe=1

Childhood Obesity : A Primer for Parents

Having an obese child doesn’t make you a bad parent.

  • Uninformed : MAYBE
  • Bad : NO
  1. Processed food producers spend an ungodly amount of money learning what type of foods encourage overeating…and over-purchasing. Sugars, fats, processing techniques, flavor enhancing chemicals, etc.
  2. In addition to the bio-chemsitry, then spend big bucks on neuro-psychology to determine how your eyes and brain can be manipulated while you shop. Believe it or not, there is a lot of science behind product placement and purchasing decisions.
  3. Moving on to the science of manipulation, our food producers also spend huge amounts of money creating and delivering marketing campaigns aimed directly at your kids….knowing that if they get them while they’re young, they will have them for life. Creepy – YES…but also very effective.
  4. And if that wasn’t enough, they also spend a lot of money employing lobbyists to protect their interests within government, generate massive food subsidies and to block any legislation limiting their influence over our kids.

Put it all together and it’s not too surprising that our kids keep getting fatter and fatter.

Luckily, there are solutions.

  • Informed parents can make better food and activity choices for their kids.
  • Informed parents can tell their government that they don’t like advertising directed at their pre-pubescent children.
  • Informed parents can bring attention (thank you social media) to the political manipulation that makes a mockery of the Free Market.
  • Informed parents can talk to other parents and local government to improve access to healthy foods in their neighborhood.
  • Informed parents can take advantage of existing grants and support organizations to improve the walkability and “playability” of their neighborhoods

And how does a parent get informed?

Here’s a good place to start.

Other Resources

Canada's Health Ranking Falls Like a Fat Guy Through an Wicker Chair

Canadians love to talk about their healthcare system.

  • We love to brag about how much better it is than the American system, yet
  • We also love to complain about the long wait times and the imminent bankruptcy of the system.

Lately, it’s been more complaining than bragging.

  • We blame the nurses’ union for being greedy.
  • We blame the hospital bureaucrats for their big salaries and “obvious” incompetence.
  • We blame illegal immigrants and the poor for clogging up the emergency room instead of going to their GP.

We blame. We blame. We blame.

Problem is….we should be blaming ourselves.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, the real problem with the Canadian healthcare system isn’t the system…it’s the Canadian public and their lazy lifestyle that is ruining the healthcare system.

Canada’s 2012 Health Report Card

The Conference Board of Canada takes an annual look at 17 industrialized nations and compares them using 11 different markers of health.

  • In the 1990s, Canada was ranked 4th.
  • Today, Canada has fallen to 10th.

What gives? 

According to the research, while top-ranking countries like Japan, Switzerland & Norway have invested in programs designed to promote a healthy lifestyle, thereby lowering the economic impact of chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, depression, dementia, osteoarthritis, and heart disease, Canada has virtually ignored health promotion.

And according to the Conference Board of Canada, “most top-performing countries have achieved better health outcomes through actions on the broader determinants of health such as environmental stewardship and health-promotion programs focusing on changes in lifestyle, including smoking cessation, increased activity, healthier diets, and safer driving habits.

Leading countries also focus on other determinants of health—such as education, early childhood development, income, and social status—to improve health outcomes”.

It’s a novel concept…spend a small amount of money preventing disease instead of spending a large amount of money treating disease.

What now?

The cynic in me believes that nobody is going to pay attention to this report and that the status quo will rule the day.

However, just last week, the federal government announced $4 million in additional federal money for Health Canada’s Healthy Eating Awareness and Education Initiative.  And while $4 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the total spending on healthcare, it’s a start and may represent a shift in government thinking.

Time will tell.

What can we do NOW?

You could write a letter to your MP or MPP or the appropriate federal/provincial Health Minister….and they might send you a nice form letter telling you how they take the health of Canadians seriously…yadda yadda.

Or you could use your Twitter and Facebook accounts to put a little heat under their seats.

  • Canada – Leona Aglukkaq – Federal Minister of Health and Long-Term Care – Facebook – Twitter
  • Alberta – Fred Horne – Minister of Health and Wellness – Facebook – Twitter
  • British Columbia – Michael de Jong – Minister of Health – Facebook – Twitter
  • Manitoba – Jim Rondeau – Minister of Healthy Living, Youth and Seniors – Facebook
  • New Brunswick – Madeline Dubé – Minister of Health – Facebook
  • Newfoundland – Susan Sullivan  – Minister of Health and Community Services – Facebook – Twitter
  • Northwest Territories – Tom Beaulieu – Minister of Health and Social Services  – website
  • Nova Scotia – Maureen MacDonald – Minister of Health and Wellness  – FacebookTwitter
  • Nunavut – Keith Peterson – Minister of Health and Social Services – website
  • Ontario –  Deb Matthews – Minister of Health – Facebook – Twitter
  • Prince Edward Island – Doug Currie – Minister of Health and Wellness – Facebook – Twitter
  • Quebec – Yves Bolduc  – Ministre de la Santé et des Services sociaux – Facebook
  • Saskatchewan – Don McMorris – Minister of Health – Facebook – Twitter
  • Yukon – Minister of Health and Social Services- Facebook – Twitter

NOTE – this problem isn’t unique to Canada. Other countries (like the US of A – #17 of 17) could use with a healthy dose of health promotion.

The reason why big government "healthy lifestyle" programs don't work is…

…because they think education is the answer.

And while I am a big fan of education, I am pretty sure that the majority of us know that:

  • Exercise is healthier than watching tv
  • Vegetables are healthier than pizza
  • Meditation is healthier than obsessing over that idiot who cut you off in traffic
  • Drinking a glass of wine with dinner is healthier than downing a bottle by yourself
  • Socializing with friends is healthier than being a loner
  • Stretching tight muscles is healthier than sitting all night after sitting all day at work

We already know this stuff…..and yet, we eat junk food, watch too much tv and barely get any exercise.

EDUCATION IS NOT ENOUGH

Education by itself didn’t reduce the number of smokers.

It took education + higher taxes + municipal bylaws restricting public smoking + a whole lot of shaming from non-smokers who finally felt empowered enough to tell someone to butt out.

And if we want to reduce the healthcare costs attributable to poor lifestyle choices – obesity, diabetes, heart disease, alzheimers, cancer, etc…. we need to do more than education.

Image: http://www.glasbergen.com

 

The Economics of Obesity

Billions of dollars are spent every year on treating obesity and it’s related health conditions. Unfortunately, only a teeny tiny fraction of that money is spent on OBESITY PREVENTION.

Which is weird considering that obesity is largely a result of poor lifestyle choices.

For example….

  • In Canada, it’s estimated that the cost of obesity (2008 numbers) rose to a staggering $7.1 billion.
  • Based on population data, the province of Ontario’s share of that cost is approximately $2.75 billion
  • And yet, it’s department of Health Promotion & Sport has a total annual budget of $470 million
  • Of which, only $4.3 million is spent on nutrition & healthy eating.

Hmmmmm

  • Obesity cost to Ontario:  $2, 754,8000,000
  • Amount spent by Ontario gov’t to encourage healthy eating:  $4,324,400

Does this make sense to you?

Back in the olden days, my Grandma used to tell me that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. As a six year old, I had no idea what the heck she was talking about.

My guess is that whoever’s paying for these obesity costs still hasn’t figured it out.

.

BTW, it’s us paying the cost

.

Reference

Truly Terrifying Obesity Statistics

Bad news everyone.

By the year 2020, America is going to be really, really fat and really, really sick.

  • 83% of American men will be overweight or obese
  • 72% of American women will be overweight or obese
  • 77 % of men will have dysglycemia (either diabetes or pre-diabetes)
  • 53 % of women will have dysglycemia (either diabetes or pre-diabetes).
If you don’t want to be part of the majority, click, read and take charge of your health.

Reference

 

ADIPOTIDE : Snake Oil or Miracle Weight Loss Pill?

The anti-obesity industry is all abuzz about a bright & shiny new weight loss drug called Adipotide.

In a recent study, obese rhesus monkeys….

  • lost 11% of their total body weight, and
  • 27% of their belly fat mass

….in just four weeks of Adipotide treatment.

And while that’s pretty impressive, what really gets me excited about Adipotide  is how it works.

Where other miracle “fat pills” have tried to reduce obesity by:

  1. controlling appetite
  2. increasing metabolism
  3. or preventing absorption of dietary fat

Adipotide works by:

  1. cutting off the blood supply to fat cells by means of a “homing agent that binds to a protein on the surface of fat-supporting blood vessels
  2. and a synthetic peptide that triggers cell death

The result of this is that when the supporting blood vessels have died and withered away, the offending fat cells are starved, reabsorbed and metabolized.

And the fat monkeys become fit monkeys

And it’s not just fat loss.

In this latest study, the obese monkeys saw a drastic improvement in insulin sensitivity and metabolic syndrome symptoms.

What about side effects?

Monkeys in the studies remained bright and alert throughout, interacting with caretakers and demonstrating no signs of nausea or food avoidance. This is potentially an important finding since unpleasant side-effects have limited the use of approved drugs that reduce fat absorption in the intestines.

The principal side effects were noted in the kidneys. “The renal effect was dose-dependent, predictable and reversible,” Barnhart noted.

What about human studies?

It turns out that Adipotide is not the first drug developed using this research.

The researcher’s original work focused on cutting off the blood supply of prostate cancer cells. During this cancer research they found that “blood vessels are more than a uniform and ubiquitous “pipeline” that serves the circulatory system, but differ depending on the organ or tissue that they support” .

This allowed them to design a method of screening peptides – small bits of proteins – and to identify those that bind to specific vascular cells among the many possible “ZIP codes” present in a human vascular map.

For blood vessels that support fat cells, the target protein is prohibitin, which they found in unusual abundance on the blood vessel cell surface.

Based on this discovery, the researchers are preparing for a clinical trial in which obese prostate cancer patients would receive daily injections of Adipotide for 28 consecutive days.

The goal of the study is to see if their prostate cancer becomes better as their body weight and associated health risks are improved.

Future studies focused solely on weight loss are in the planning stage.

So what does this mean to you?

For now…not a whole heck of a lot.

If Adipotide does turn out to be a miracle weight loss pill, it’s going to be a long time before you’ll be able to get a prescription.

But….it is the first sign of ingenuity I have seen coming from weight loss researchers in a long time.

Kinda funny that they’re actually cancer researchers.

Reference

America's Lifestyle Diseases Cost the Economy over $153 Billion per Year

Lifestyle diseases such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and depression are costing the American economy $153 billion per year in lost productivity.

Based on data collected via the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, researchers concluded that chronic health conditions such as obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, cancer, diabetes, asthma, depression and recurring physical pain resulted in 449,847,652 days missed from work… and an estimated productivity loss of $153,398,049,221 per year.

And it gets worse.

  • This calculation doesn’t include productivity lost when employees show up at work but are less productive because of their poor health.
  • As well, the Gallup people didn’t speak with part-time workers.

Previous research which included these factors found that America’s chronic lifestyle diseases cost the nation up to $1.1 trillion per year.

And that’s a lot of money.

.

Maybe enough money for the government to start throwing some cash into health promotion programs?

.

Reference

 

Childhood Obesity, Junk Food Profits and the U.S. Congress

Earlier this year, an interagency working group, made up of the Federal Trade Commission, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, announced that they would be recommending that America’s food producers should voluntarily end all food advertising to children unless they were for healthy choices, such as whole grains, fresh fruits or vegetables.

Key words: recommending, voluntarily, children and healthy.

This first draft of voluntary guidelines set  maximum levels of fat, sugars and sodium, among other requirements, and asks food companies not to market foods that go beyond those parameters to children ages 2 through 17. The guidelines would apply to many mediums, including ads on television, in stores and on the Internet, in an effort to stem rising obesity levels.

Under the original proposal, salty, fatty or very sweet foods or foods with trans fats would no longer be advertised to children, defined as age 17 or under.

Once again… Key words: recommending, voluntarily, children and healthy.

In response, the food industry, backed by House Republicans, has aggressively lobbied against the voluntary guidelines, saying they are too broad and would limit marketing of almost all of the nation’s favorite foods, including some yogurts and many children’s cereals. Though the guidelines would be voluntary, food companies say they fear the government will retaliate against them if they don’t go along.

Officials from the Federal Trade Commission, the Agriculture Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who jointly wrote the guidelines, will on Wednesday face the Republican-led House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has already made its distaste for the proposal clear. In a letter last month, Republicans on the committee wrote the agencies and called the (voluntary) guidelines “little better than a shot in the dark.”

Following the industry objections, the congressional pushback and a public comment period on the proposal, the government agencies involved appear to be softening their approach.

In testimony released by the committee before the hearing, David Vladeck, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said the coalition of government agencies is “in the midst of making significant revisions to the original proposal.

Among the changes he suggested are narrowing the age group targeted and focusing on children aged 2 to 11 instead of up to age 17 and allowing marketing of the unhealthier foods at fundraisers and sporting events. Vladeck also said that his agency would not recommend that companies change packaging or remove brand characters from food products that don’t qualify, as was originally suggested in the guidelines.

“Those elements of packaging, though appealing to children, are also elements of marketing to a broader audience and are inextricably linked to the food’s brand identity,” Vladeck says in prepared testimony. Tony the Tiger is well-known as the mascot for Frosted Flakes and Toucan Sam for Froot Loops, both Kelloggs’ cereals.

So, there you go. Democracy in action.

  • Companies market questionable food-like products directly to children.
  • Parents and special interest groups bring attention to this business practice
  • Government investigates and prepares a series of voluntary recommendations
  • Lobbyists for the affected food producers work hard in an attempt to dilute the voluntary recommendations
  • Congress supports the position of the food lobby
  • Recommendations are watered-down
  • Food producers resume original marketing practices
  • Children influenced by said marketing grow up to be obese adults still affected by said marketing practices
  • Continuing increases in systemic obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome et al drive healthcare costs up and quality of life down

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Reference

 

Outdoor Fitness Equipment : How NOT to Waste Your Tax Dollars

A few years ago, I wrote about the benefits of municipal governments installing public fitness equipment in public parks.

By eliminating the cost and improving the accessibility to exercise equipment, public fitness parks are increasing activity levels in communities around the world.

Which is good, because a physically active community is a healthy community, and a healthy community spends less  on health care, misses fewer days of work, earns more money, pays more taxes, etc…

Outdoor Fitness Equipment - Uneven Bars

It’s a win:win.

Or at least it should be.

The Problem is that city bureaucrats have no idea how to design an effective outdoor fitness park. So, they rely on the salespeople from the equipment suppliers to tell them what they need.

And fitness equipment salespeople are in the business of making money.

And that’s fine for them, but not so good for the city’s coffers.

So, as a public service, I thought I would compare & contrast two different pieces of outdoor fitness equipment. A set of Uneven Bars (very old-school) and a Combo Lat Pulldown / Chest Press Machine.

Feel free to email this article to your local city councilor as a reminder of how you prefer to see your tax dollars spent.

Uneven Bars

Cost: $1200  + shipping/taxes/installation

Exercises:

  • Chin Up
  • Pull Up
  • Chest Press / Push Up
  • Lat Row
  • Tricep Dip
  • 2 Leg Squat
  • 1 Leg Squat
  • Hanging Leg Raises
  • Hanging Windshield Wipers
  • Handstand Push Ups
  • Bicep Curls
  • Plank / Bridge
  • Calf Raises
  • Balance training
  • Wide variety of Flexibility / Stretching Exercises
  • Wide variety of Strength Band Exercises
  • Wide variety of Suspension Trainer Exercises
Pros:
  • Lower Price
  • Less Maintenance
  • Wider variety of exercises
  • Greater range of exercise intensities
  • Reduced chance of breakdown
  • Longer lifecycle
Cons:
  • Less “sexy” than Lat Pull / Chest Press teeter totter machine
  • Would require an instruction board for all the different exercises

outdoor fitness equipment - lat pull chest press

Lat Pull – Chest Press Combo Machine

Cost: $3450 + shipping/taxes/installation

Exercises:

  • Chest Press
  • Lat Pulldown
  • Some strength band exercises (vertical pole attachment only)
Pros:
  • More fun looking than a set of boring old  Chin Up bars
  • Beginners love the simplicity of single purpose exercise machines
  • Less than body-weight resistance good for beginners
  • Exercise instruction chart comes included
Cons:
  • Higher Price
  • Bearing maintenance cost
  • More complex design = greater chance of breakdown = more downtime = crappy fitness park
  • Reduced exercise options
  • Less effective for more advanced trainees
  • Shorter lifecycle = costs even more money to replace
Conclusion
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Fancy-schmancy exercise equipment looks better in a photo-op than a set of uneven bars. And we all know how much politicians love photo-ops.
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But…it’s your tax dollars. Let them know how you want to see them spent.

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Fiber + Exercise Melts Away Visceral Fat

In a study published in the journal Obesity, researchers found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber eaten per day, visceral fat was reduced by 3.7 percent over five years.

They also found that an increase in moderate activity resulted in a 7.4 percent decrease in the rate of visceral fat accumulation over the same time period.

Why Should You Care?

“We know that a higher rate of visceral fat is associated with high blood pressure, diabetes and fatty liver disease,” said Kristen Hairston, M.D., lead researcher on the study.

And since you probably are not interested in having high blood pressure, diabetes and fatty liver disease, you may want to figure out how to increase your physical activity and soluble fiber consumption.

FYI – 10 grams of soluble fiber can be achieved by eating:

  • two small apples,
  • one cup of green peas
  • one-half cup of pinto beans
  • 3 tsp Inulin fiber supplement

What about the exercise?

What do they mean by moderate activity?

According to the researchers, moderate activity means exercising vigorously for 30 minutes, two to four times a week. Personally, I think that number is a little low.

My research indicates that you need an average of 40 minutes per day or 280 minutes per week to receive noticeable benefits from physical activity.

And don’t go telling me that you can’t find 40 minutes to exercise…Those butt indents in your couch are giving you away.

Bike Wrappers : For cyclists who like to keep their brains inside their head

In March, I almost ran over a cyclist.

I was driving on a busy Toronto street. It was dark. The street lights were on. One second he wasn’t there…the next second he was….right in front of me….dressed in dark clothes….with no visible bike lights.

I swerved….he lived….and I swore like a sailor.

Fast forward to May 23

BikeWrappers Dusk

 

The creator of Bike Wrappers emails me and asks if I would like to review his product.

Initially, I was going to turn down his proposition as I didn’t think his product was a great fit for Health Habits.

  • But then I thought about that goof on his bicycle.
  • And then I went to the Bike Wrapper website and watched this video.

Awesome.

With those light sabers attached to his bike, there is no way that goofball sneaks up on me and almost gives me a heart attack.

So I decide to do the review.

Fast forward a few days…and I get my set of Bike Wrappers in the mail. That same evening, I slap them on my bike and go for a ride up and down my relatively dark residential street.

Holy crap.

I glowed in the dark. It was amazing. The video doesn’t do it justice. Pedestrians walking on the sidewalk stared at me. I spent half an hour talking about my glowing bicycle with my neighbors. People asked to take a spin.

And I didn’t get run over by a car. (technically, no one was driving on my street…but you get the point)

  • Great product.
  • Can’t recommend it highly enough.
  • Seriously.

If you or someone you loves rides their bike at night, it’s money well spent.

Here’s a link to the online store.

 

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Choose My Plate…The Paleo Version

Bye bye Food Pyramid…..and hello Choose My Plate.

In an effort to encourage healthy eating, Michelle Obama and the USDA have tossed out the dreaded Food Pyramid and replaced it with a simple, clean graphic of a dinner plate.

According to the First Lady, all parents have to do now is “take a look at our kids’ plates. As long as they’re half full of fruits and vegetables, and paired with lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, we’re golden. That’s how easy it is.”

The symbol is part of a healthy eating initiative that will convey seven key messages from the government’s dietary guidelines, including:

  1. enjoy food but eat less;
  2. avoid oversized portions;
  3. make half your plate fruits and vegetables;
  4. drink water instead of sugary drinks;
  5. switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk;
  6. compare sodium in foods;
  7. and make at least half your grains whole grains.

And for the most part, even cranky old Health Habits gives it a qualified “thumbs up”.

It’s much easier to understand and is a huge improvement over the old pyramid.

Too bad that it still favors the interests of industry over the health (and waistlines) of the nation.

If only Michelle had returned my phone calls. Americans could have had a food pyramid / plate like this:

BTW, please forgive my lack of graphic design skills. If I had USDA money, I could afford an actual copy of Photoshop.

Speaking of money, if you’re wondering what Paleo is, go ahead and download my free ebook – A Paleo Diet for the 21st Century

 

Is Senobi Breathing the Cure for Depression, Obesity and Asthma?

The Senobi Breathing Exercise has been shown to:

  1. Reduce the symptoms of asthma
  2. Reduce the symptoms of depression
  3. Reduce levels of obesity

Not too shabby for a simple breathing exercise that takes all of 30 seconds to do.

What is the Senobi Breathing Exercise?

The Senobi Breathing Exercise can be performed in a 4 different ways:

  • Standing
  • Sitting
  • Hands together & fingers intertwined
  • Hands apart

In the standing position, the exerciser stands still with the feet at shoulder width. The arms are extended firmly, initially without uniting the palms. The neck is bent into the back, and the upper body is bent so as to face the ceiling (Fig. 1). The exerciser must take care to avoid overexertion.

  • Air is inhaled for 5 seconds, then exhaled for 5 seconds.
  • This respiration pattern should be done three times;
  • therefore 30 seconds are spent in the posture described.

During this posture, the scapulas shut automatically, so breathing occurs mainly from the abdomen.

To achieve thoracic respiration, we can switch to the hands held together – fingers intertwined –  and the palms turned to the ceiling version. In this posture, the scapulas are open, so the breathing that unites the palms is thoracic respiration.

The seated posture is identical to the standing posture, except for the fact that you’re sitting instead of standing.

Check out this Senobi – Obesity Study

After 1 min of the “Senobi” breathing, substantial up-regulation of sympathetic nerve activity and increased urinary hormone secretion were observed in the overweight women but not in the healthy controls. Moreover, after repeating the exercise for a month, the obese patients showed significant loss of body fat. The “Senobi” breathing exercise was found to be effective for weight loss in obesity possibly by regulating the autonomic nervous system and the hormone secretion.

Senobi – Asthma Study

After 1 month of regularly performing this exercise, most patients showed a decrease in the frequency of asthma rescue medication use. They also showed a recovery of forced expiratory volume in 1 second. These results suggest that the Senobi stretch is a useful exercise for asthmatic patients to perform to achieve a desirable improvement in symptoms.

Senobi – Depression Study

After one minute of SBE, significant up-regulation of sympathetic nerve activity and increased concentrations of catecholamines, estradiol, and growth hormone were observed in OWD (depressed) group. After 30 days of SBE, the sympathetic nerve activity and hormone levels had recovered in OWD group, and the depressive state, as evaluated by the Hamilton Depression Scale, had ameliorated. The “Senobi” breathing exercise was found to be effective for amelioration of depression in obese women possibly through up-regulation of sympathetic nerve activity and hormone secretion.

Conclusion

While the Senobi Breathing Exercise seems a little too good to be true…..it only takes 30 seconds, it’s free and if you’re asthmatic, overweight & depressed…what do you have to lose?

Reference

Cure for Adolescent Obesity

Believe it or not….the latest medical research shows that adolescents (aged 15-19) who enrolled in a 12 month program of:

  • Aerobic training combined with
  • Resistance training

were able to significantly improve their levels of:

  • Body Mass
  • Body Mass Index
  • Fat Mass
  • Visceral Fat
  • % Obesity
  • Total Cholesterol
  • Waist Circumference
  • Blood Glucose
  • Adiponectin

fat kid boy teen boobs-1

 

Conclusion

This ain’t rocket science. If your teenager is overweight & out of shape, they NEED to exercise. And cleaning up their diet wouldn’t hurt either.

BTW, this advice doesn’t just work for adolescents.

Reference

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THOR vs Dr Pepper

Q: Whaddaya get when you combine an Asgardian superhero with an unfortunate Hollywood product placement agreement?

A: You get an obese superhero with depressed testosterone levels, Type 2 diabetes and an unquenchable thirst for Dr Pepper.

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Reference

What advice do we give to the Paleo-Curious?

Earlier in the week, I received a comment about one of my Paleo articles that argued the point that following a Paleo Diet or Paleo Lifestyle is a strict black or white proposition.

In the commenter’s own words, “Don’t be a poser. Either live the life or shut the hell up, because those of us actually doing instead of talking are living healthier, more productive lives. If you are too, great! Congrats, how do you feel? If you aren’t? Get off the bandwagon”.

After I finished wiping up my giant puddle of tears, I started to think about how our tiny little Paleo community has changed & evolved over the past year or so.

Still clinging to it’s anthropological roots, Paleo (or Primal for the Sissonites amongst us) has ever so tentatively begun to shift towards the mainstream. And as more “normal” people begin to investigate the benefits of eating ala Paleo, some Paleo diehards are freaking out.

  • Maybe it’s out of concern that the strict Paleo menu of  meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruit is going to be watered down and spoiled by the newbies.
  • Maybe it’s because they like being in an exclusive club and they don’t want to share with others.
  • Or, maybe they’re just assholes who think they’re better than everybody else.

Who knows?

But it got me thinking.

How do us Paleo eaters want the message of Paleo to be distributed to the rest of the world?

  • Currently, they are three big voices in the Paleo universe – Cordain, Wolf & Sisson. Do we crown one of them king and proceed to proselytize their version of Paleo?
  • Do we blend their messages into a hybrid Paleo?
  • Do we promote an ultra-orthodox version of Paleo that doesn’t allow for my morning Starbucks Venti Bold with a splash of cream?
  • Or do we adopt a more universal “coat of many colours” version of Paleo that leads people towards eating Paleo at most meals with occasional Neolithic baked delights?

Seeking some feedback, I posted a link to the above mentioned comment on my favorite Paleo facebook group – International Paleo Movement Group – to see what they had to say abot the comment and how they envisioned the evolution of the Paleo Diet.

The word zealot came up a few times.

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What’s your opinion?

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  • Should Paleo remain an exclusive club?
  • Should we welcome newcomers into the club?
  • If we do welcome newcomers, do we insist on 100% compliance to Paleo doctrine?
  • Or is 90% okay…or 80%…63%
  • Or are we happy when the people we care about eat fewer Pizza Pockets and more real/Paleo food?

As I said to the IPMG group, I realize that the vast majority of people are highly unlikely to ever give up grains, dairy, french fries, etc

What they may do, however, is to learn from us that Paleo eating is the healthiest way to fuel our bodies….and that while 100% adherence is unlikely, they may be able to be 90% or 80% or 60% Paleo…thereby…

  • improving their nutrition,
  • improving their health,
  • reducing the spread of lifestyle disease (diabetes, etc),
  • reducing the cost of healthcare around the globe,
  • improving economic health,
  • reducing taxes and
  • ultimately improving the quality & quantity of life for all us “modern” humans.

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Thus endeth the rant.

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Fat Men Can Be Fit Men

Researchers have found that obese men (who have been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome) can keep their arteries healthy and prevent cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke by maximizing their cardiovascular fitness.

The Study

Scientists looked at a group of men with varying levels of cardiovascular fitness and metabolic syndrome.

  • Cardio fitness was measured by peak oxygen uptake during a standard treadmill test
  • Risk for heart disease was measured by their level of arterial stiffness.

Not too surprisingly, the researchers found that the men diagnosed with metabolic syndrome had ,on average, higher levels of arterial stiffness.

However, when the men were separated according to their levels of cardiovascular fitness, they found that all of the men in the highest quartile of fitness had significantly lower levels of arterial stiffness than those men in the lowest quartile of fitness.

That included fit guys who had been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

In fact, the fit and fat guys had the same levels of arterial stiffness as their skinny yet exercise-adverse brothers.

Conclusion

It is possible for fat guys to be fit guys.

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Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that those fat & fit guys will ever be as fit as their lean & fit workout buddies.

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My Emotions Made Me Fat

About 3 months ago, I tested my body composition.

  • Total body-weight was = 243 lbs
  • Lean body mass (bone, muscle, organs) was = 216 lbs
  • Body-fat was = 27 lbs
  • Body-fat percentage was = 11%

And since winter is my time to focus on strength and ignore body-fat, I was pleased with the numbers.

I was strong as a horse and would worry about the excess blubber in the spring.

And then my Dad went into the hospital.

At first, he seemed to be responding to treatment and we were expecting him home in a few days. Unfortunately, he picked up a couple of drug resistant infections in the hospital and things started to go downhill.

But since my Dad has always been a fighter, he went to war against the drug resistant staph & c-difficile. One day he would be getting better and we would feel hopeful. The next day, he would crash. This went on for over two months.

Until, on Feb 9, 2011, my Dad passed away.

Since that time, I have had the pleasure of organizing services, looking after my Mom and attending memorials and family remembrances.

I also went a little mental during the 3 months and gained 24 lbs of body-fat.

  • Total weight as of yesterday is = 267 lbs
  • Lean Body Mass (bone, muscle, organs) is still = 216 lbs
  • Body-fat weight is = 51 lbs
  • Body-fat percentage is = 19%

And it’s not like I went on some sort of cheesecake bender.

Instead of my normal Paleo diet of meat and vegetables, I was eating more like a normal North American.

  • A giant cookie with my Starbucks coffee
  • Sandwiches instead of salads or stir-frys
  • A can of Coke in the hospital cafeteria.
  • Hard candies and potato chips from my wife’s stash
  • Bread
  • Rice
  • and the occasional giant bowl of ice cream

Combine all this junk with my skyrocketing levels of cortisol and a bad case of the blues – and I have managed to pack on an extra 24 lbs of blubber and a newfound fear of my bathroom mirror.

And if that isn’t the perfect example of how emotions can make you fat, I don’t know what is.

Luckily for me, between my muscle mass and my ultra-casual personal trainer wardrobe, it’s hard to tell that I packed on the weight.

But, I know it’s there.

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But not for much longer.

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FYI – More info on Emotional Eating

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New York City vs Sugar

New York’s Department of Health has released another anti-obesity PSA designed to reduce your consumption of sugar.

And just like their previous PSA, it’s pretty gross.

So here’s my question for you:

Will ads like this get you to cut back on your soda, sweet tea, frozen coffee, fruit punch, energy drinks, etc, etc, etc???

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You Are What Your Father Ate

Attention all fathers to be!!!

Researchers from the U of Mass have found that the food you eat is going to make a big difference upon the health of your future children.

So, before you inhale another bucket of popcorn chicken, be aware that your diet will influence the genetic makeup of your children.

In the UMass study, researchers found that adult mice fed a low protein diet produced offspring with an increase in the production of cholesterol synthesis genes.

And while this doesn’t mean that the wee baby mice are doomed to a lifetime of high cholesterol and prescriptions for lipitor, it does mean that a parent’s diet has a big impact on their kids –  in the form of changed epigentic information.

In the UMass experiment, scientists fed two different diets to two different groups of male mice – a standard diet and a low-protein diet. All females were fed a standard diet.

And as nature took it’s course and little mice babies were born, the researchers observed that the low-protein offspring showed an increase in the genes responsible for lipid & cholesterol production in comparison to the standard diet mice.

The observations are consistent with two human studies (1 & 2) which showed that a poor adolescent diet in one generation resulted in an increased risk of diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease in second-generation offspring.

However, since these previous human studies were retrospective and involved dynamic populations, they were unable to completely account for all social and economic variables.

Hence this study with lab mice.

According to lead researcher Oliver Rando, “Our study begins to rule out the possibility that social and economic factors, or differences in the DNA sequence, may be contributing to what we’re seeing. It strongly implicates epigenetic inheritance as a contributing factor to changes in gene function.”

Co-author Hans Hofmann continues by saying that “the results also have implications for our understanding of evolutionary processes. It has increasingly become clear in recent years that mothers can endow their offspring with information about the environment, for instance via early experience and maternal factors, and thus make them possibly better adapted to environmental change. Our results show that offspring can inherit such acquired characters even from a parent they have never directly interacted with, which provides a novel mechanism through which natural selection could act in the course of evolution.”

So, what does this mean?

According to Dr. Rando, “we often look at a patient’s behavior and their genes to assess risk. If the patient smokes, they are going to be at an increased risk for cancer. If the family has a long history of heart disease, they might carry a gene that makes them more susceptible to heart disease. But we’re more than just our genes and our behavior. Knowing what environmental factors your parents experienced is also important.”

What’s next for this research?

Drs. Rando et al will begin to explore how and why this genetic reprogramming is being transmitted from generation to generation. “We don’t know why these genes are being reprogrammed or how, precisely, that information is being passed down to the next generation,” said Rando. “It’s consistent with the idea that when parents go hungry, it’s best for offspring to hoard calories, however, it’s not clear if these changes are advantageous in the context of a low-protein diet.”

What does this mean for you?

It means that not only will that bucket of popcorn chicken screw up your health, it will probably screw up your kid’s health as well.

Reference

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Soda Tax v.s. Corn Syrup Subsidy

In a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers have concluded that imposing higher taxes on soda and other sweetened beverages will:

  1. Generate a lot of money for government
  2. Have minimal effect on weight loss for the middle class and,
  3. Have almost no weight loss effect on either those consumers in the highest and lowest income brackets.

Regarding the tax income side of the equation, the researchers estimated that if the federal government were to impose a sales tax that raised the price of sugar sweetended beverages (SSBs) purchased by 20 percent, this would generate about $1.5 billion per year in tax revenue in the U.S.;

If they imposed a tax that raised prices by 40 percent, this would generate $2.5 billion per year, at a cost to the average household of about $28.

And what would America’s soda drinkers get for their $1.5 to $2.5 billion?

According to Dr. Finkelstein et al, results of the study showed that due to the high likelihood of consumers switching from SSBs to other beverages, the effect on total calories consumed would be negligible.

A tax that raises SSB prices by 20 percent generates a daily average reduction of 6.9 calories. Over the course of a year, this equates to a weight loss of no more than 0.7 pounds per household member.

A 40 percent tax would reduce daily calories by 12.5 calories and generate annual weight losses of up to 1.3 pounds per person per year.

The researchers also found that nearly all of the weight losses were generated from middle income groups.

“Higher income groups can afford to pay the tax so they are unaffected, and lower income groups likely avoid the effects of the tax by purchasing generic versions, waiting for sales, buying in bulk, or by other cost-saving strategies,” Finkelstein said.

However, he notes that there may be a secondary benefit of the tax, even for lower income households, if the revenue is used to fund obesity prevention efforts.

Hmmmm, now that may be an idea.

The tax itself may be ineffective in reducing obesity, but if it funds more effective weight loss programs, we may be on to something.

Of course, it still means a new federal tax of between $1.5 and $2.5 billion.

And no one likes new taxes.

But, what if instead of a new tax, the government were to reduce/eliminate the subsidies they give to the farming industry which cause the price of high fructose corn syrup and traditional sugar to be artificially low?

And what if they took all of that corn syrup/sugar subsidy money and redirected it towards healthier food choices and public parks and walkable neighborhoods and public school phys ed programs and…?

What we would/could end up with is:

  • Soda being sold at fair market prices
  • Junk food being sold at fair market prices
  • Healthy food being sold at artificially lowered prices
  • Greater access to healthy lifestyle choices
  • More livable neighborhoods
  • Healthier children
  • Reduced national obesity
  • and No New Taxes

So, what do you think?

Soda taxes or a repeal/reduction of the pro-junk food agriculture subsidies?

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Reference

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Mainstream Medicine is Insane

Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

If this definition is true, then I have to conclude that mainstream medicine is insane.

Insane because even though our modern lifestyle is the single biggest threat to our health and vitality…our medical experts keep dispensing the same tired lifestyle advice.

  • Low intensity cardio 2-3 x per week
  • Reduce your calories
  • Eat less fat

And yet, as a species, we keep getting fatter and weaker and sicker.

All the while, there are outlier theories producing amazing results….while being ignored and/or disparaged by the  “experts”.

  • New dietary theories
  • New psychological theories
  • New pharmacological theories
  • New exercise theories
  • New spiritual theories

And while most of these new theories will most likely turn out to be just as ineffective as our love affair with everything fat free, aren’t we doing ourselves a disservice by not investigating each of them with an open yet critical mind?

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FAT BRITANNIA

British Government Sells Out to the Fast Food Industry

As part of it’s continuing effort to destroy it’s healthcare system, the British government has invited fast food companies including McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken to help write government policy on obesity, alcohol and diet-related disease.

In addition to Ronald and the Colonel, representatives from PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, Unilever, Mars and Diageo are also among the businesses that have been asked to contribute to the five ‘responsibility deal’ networks set up by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

And while the details aren’t expected to be released until the government presents it’s public health white paper in the next few weeks, it’s believed that:

  • the Food Responsibility Deal Network will be chaired by one of the above mentioned companies, while the
  • the Food sub-group on calories is to be chaired by PepsiCo
  • the Behavior Change Responsibility Deal Network is to be chaired by the National Heart Forum
  • the Physical Activity Responsibility Deal Network is to be chaired by the Fitness Industry Association, and
  • the Alcohol Responsibility Deal Network is chaired by the head of the lobby group Wine and Spirit Trade Association

WTF!!!

In America, they’re banning the sale of Happy Meals.

In the U.K., they’re asking Ronald McDonald to design national policy on food consumption and obesity.

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Is it any wonder why nobody trusts politicians any more?

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Note – If any of my U.K. readers would like to express their displeasure over this decision to the british Secretary of Health, Andrew Lansley, here is his contact info.

Constituency Office
153 St Neots Road
Hardwick
Cambridge
CB23 7QJ
Tel: 01954 212 707
Fax: 01954 211 625

Email: lansleya@parliament.uk

Which Health Care System Is The Best?

Today, we’re going to take a brief macroeconomic look at healthcare systems around the world.

COST

BENEFIT

COST

BENEFIT

So, what can we learn from these colorful charts?

Well, we could learn that the U.S. health care system (pre 2008), was

  1. The most expensive, and
  2. Also one of the worst as it pertains to life expectancy and potential years of life lost.

We could also learn that countries with public health care systems can simultaneously achieve high life expectancy rates with relatively low health costs.

We could learn those things.

However, we could also recognize that these charts don’t tell the complete story…and that there are a bazillion different factors that influence health & life expectancy.

And maybe we should remember that the next time we get into a debate/argument over health care.

The answer isn’t as simple as the political pundits make it out to be.

http://cloudfront.mediamatters.org/static/flash/player.swf

(h/t Media Matters)

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Putting the "Health" Back in Healthcare

Canada’s healthcare system may be on the verge of a massive change.

Instead of continuing to spend billions of dollars simply treating the symptoms of disease, Canada’s health ministers have agreed that:

the promotion of health and the prevention of disease, disability and injury are a priority and necessary to the sustainability of the health system.

They also agreed that the main causes of death, disease and disability in Canada today are chronic diseases and injuries, and that a large proportion of chronic diseases, disabilities and injuries can be prevented, or at least delayed.

They continued by saying that more emphasis needs to be placed on the promotion of health and on preventing or delaying chronic diseases, disabilities, and injuries.

Doing this will improve the quality of life of Canadians while reducing disparities in health and the impact these conditions have on individuals, families, communities, the health-care system and on society.

OMG … A healthcare system that focuses on health.

Fingers crossed people. Fingers crossed..

Reference

Obesity Costs the U.S. $215 Billion

According to a new study, obesity costs the U.S. economy $215 billion per year.

That’s 18% of the projected 2010 U.S.  federal deficit.

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Isn’t it ironic that during a time of recession, the American public is unable to tighten their belts because they’re too damned fat.

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Health v.s. Fitness

Today, I don’t feel very healthy.

Beginning on Sunday, the seasonal allergies that had plagued me for the past 4 years returned with a vengeance.

My symptoms?

Headache, exhaustion, sneezing, coughing, red eyes, teary eyes, painful burning eyes, general “itchiness” and a ton of mucus.

In general, I feel like crap.

And that got me thinking about the difference between health & fitness.

I am still fit enough to:

  • Lift a ton of weight and….
  • I could sprint hills with guys half my age and half my size and…
  • I out cardio Jane Fonda on a good day

But, I feel like crap and I don’t want to do anything except crawl back into bed.

All because of allergies.

Luckily for me, I have a very odd, but very effective allergy treatment booked for Thursday.

Until then, I have to suffer.

And that got me thinking.

What if I was really sick?

Would I give a damn about running an extra mile or lifting a little heavier than the last workout?

Probably not.

As they say, “if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.”

Belly Fat = Type 2 Diabetes = Too Much Carbs

Most days, I enjoy sifting through the latest research into weight loss, health, fitness, etc… But not today.

Today I read a study that dooms Mr. Balloon Belly here to a lifetime of popping diet pills and undergoing gastric bypass surgery.

The Research

In this study, researchers used an MRI machine to determine each participant’s level of belly and liver fat along with a blood test to determine insulin sensitivity.

Then, they put all 243 of the test subjects on a nine month lifestyle intervention program which reduced fat intake to a maximum of 30 percent of total calories (including less than 10 percent in the form of saturated fat) and had them engage in moderate physical activity such as walking for at least three hours a week.

Eat less (fat) & move more….classic.

The Results

The patients who started with the most belly fat & were the most insulin insensitive and who were most at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes did the worst on this lifestyle intervention program.

“The participants who improved their health status as a result of diet and exercise started out with lower baseline levels of abdominal and liver fat.”

Their Conclusion

The researchers concluded that patients with a high level of belly fat & a high level of insulin insensitivity were unlikely to ever be successful at improving their situation with lifestyle modification.

Ever.

Ergo…to lose weight, they would need the help of pharmaceuticals and/or weight loss surgery.

My Conclusion

The lifestyle modification plan used in this experiment is crap.

If you want to improve insulin sensitivity, you don’t modify fat intake…you modify carbohydrate intake.

  • Carbs = sugar
  • Too much sugar = insulin insensitivity
  • Insulin insensitivity = belly & liver fat
  • Insulin insensitivity = type 2 diabetes

So, before the medical community tells Mr. Balloon Belly that he is doomed to a life of gastric bypass and anal leakage, perhaps they should retire their old school food pyramids and learn something from us non-experts.

 

Thus endeth the rant…thanks for listening.

Reference

Dieting or Healthy Eating

Health Habits Workout – Week 20 – Day 3

Workout Goals:

Alright, workout #3

Let’s get to work….

WARMUP

Feel free to substitute warm-up exercises.

The goal of the warm-up is to get your joints to release your natural joint lubrication (synovial fluid) and to warm up your muscles.

The individual exercises don’t matter.

I chose these exercises because I think they are very efficient and get me ready for the workout as quickly and efficiently as possible

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1.  Circles – Starting with the ankles and moving all the way up to your neck, gently make circles with all of your joints – 10 revolutions each joint in each direction

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2.  Dead Bug – Push your lower back into the floor and articulate your arms & legs as in the video. 1 set of as many reps as possible with your lower back pushed into the floor. When your back starts to arch…STOP

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3.  1 Arm Swing Snatch – 25 reps per arm  – Dumbbell or kettlebell – choose a light weight – the goal is to warm-up

and now for the….

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WORKOUT

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Each workout will consist of 4 circuits.

Each workout is designed to last 45 minutes (not including warm-up).

If you complete the 4 circuits before the 45 min is up, repeat one of the circuits.

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Circuit # 1

  • 2 exercises performed back to back
  • 10 sets of each exercise
  • No rest between sets
  • 2  minutes rest between circuits

Exercise #1

Bulgarian Split Squats/Lunges

  • 10 sets
  • 10-30 reps per leg per set…
  • Bodyweight or a DB(s) held in hands at thigh height
  • This exercise focuses primarily on quads

Exercise # 2

DB Pullovers – cross bench or stability ball

  • 10 sets
  • 5-8 reps per set…
  • This exercise focuses primarily on the chest & lats

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Circuit # 2

  • 2 exercises performed back to back
  • 10 sets of each exercise
  • No rest between sets
  • 2  minutes rest between circuits

Exercise #1

Standing Pulldowns

  • 10 sets
  • 5 reps per set…
  • This exercise focuses primarily on back (lats) & biceps – secondary focus on core

Exercise # 2

Shuffle Lunge

  • 10 sets
  • 20 reps per set…
  • This exercise focuses primarily on legs & the anaerobic energy system

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Circuit # 3

  • 2 exercises performed back to back
  • 10 sets of each exercise
  • No rest between sets
  • 2  minutes rest between circuits

Exercise #1

1 Arm DB Incline Chest Fly (ball or bench)

  • 10 sets
  • 5-8 reps per arm per set…
  • This exercise focuses primarily on chest & core

Exercise # 2

2 Arm DB Incline Reverse Fly

  • 10 sets
  • 5-8 reps per set…
  • This exercise focuses primarily on the rear deltoids (shoulders)

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Circuit # 4

  • 2 exercises performed back to back
  • 10 set of each exercise
  • No rest between sets
  • 2 minutes rest between circuits

Exercise #1

Partial Turkish Get-Ups

  • 10 sets
  • 5 reps per side per set…
  • TGUs  hit your core

Exercise # 2

1 Leg Hip Thrusts

  • 10 sets
  • 10 reps per side per set…
  • This exercise focuses primarily on the hamstrings & glutes
  • Substitute a ball for the bench he is laying on…and if that’s too complicated, you CAN just do them from the floor

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Just discovered these workouts???

Start here or check out the workout archives

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A Common Sense Solution to Rising Health Care Costs

(Nick Ray / The Times)

Around the world, health care costs are going up and up. And with the massive baby boomer population bulge entering their senior years, some governments / businesses / insurance companies are looking for new & creative ways to reduce health care costs.

One of those creative solutions is the construction of public (free) fitness parks (playgrounds) aimed at adults. In England, a new Senior Playground has recently been built by a coalition of community activists (Knightsbridge association) and two levels of government agencies.

And this isn’t England’s first “senior playground”. They are popping up all over the country.

And England certainly isn’t the first country to take this sort of initiative. Parks such as these can be found throughout China, Hong Kong, Macau, Korea…

Credit: Christopher Wanjek

And yet, in my home country of Canada, all three levels of government ignore initiatives such as this in favor of spending millions on marketing campaigns urging Canadians to exercise more and billions on treating lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Instead of giving Participaction $3,000,000 per year for a website and some online commercials…

…they could build 50 fitness parks per year.

Or, if they were really serious, they could siphon off 1/1000th of the approx. $183 billion (2009) spent nationally on health care and build 3,050 new fitness parks per year.

($183 B ÷1000 ÷$60,000 per park = 3050 new fit parks)

And who knows, maybe the cost of the new fit parks will actually result in a net savings for government as the costs associated with obesity and related lifestyle diseases decrease.

As your Grandma used to say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

Aaaarrrggggghhhhhh

Yesterday, the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) and ParticipACTION unveiled a series of new physical activity recommendations to encourage Canadians to become more physically active.

And that’s good.

I am a big fan of health promotion / disease prevention.

Problem is… these recommendations are toothless.

They’re just talk.

What’s the point of setting new exercise guidelines if you don’t support them up with initiatives to convert those guidelines into actual physical activity?

  • We already know that we “should” exercise
  • We already know that we “should” eat healthier
  • We already know that we’re fatter than ever
  • We already know that our kids are fatter than ever
  • We already know that we should reduce stress, sleep 8 hours, take our vitamins…

We already know this stuff

What we need is:

  • Legislation & funding to re-introduce phys-ed classes into our schools
  • A re-organization of gov’t food subsidies to improve our food supply
  • A non-partisan discussion about applying “sin” taxes to junk food
  • Marketing campaigns designed to promote a healthy lifestyle
  • Tax credits designed to reward individual behaviors that promote health, prevent disease and reduce healthcare costs
  • Tax credits for community fitness groups

And the only way we’re ever going to get what we need is to pressure/embarrass our politicians  into doing what we want.

sad but true

So, in that spirit, I am asking you to apply some pressure on your politicians by sending them an email (include a link to this article) asking telling them that we need to get serious about health promotion / disease prevention.

To make things a little easier, I am including a list of state/provincial government departments responsible for health promotion.

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Canada

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United States of America

(apologies to my American friends, but there are just way too many states and I have clients to train)

More Resources: