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.


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.


Stop Heart Disease with HIIT?

  • HIIT workouts are great for fat loss
  • HIIT workouts save your time
  • HIIT workouts are way more fun than slogging away the miles on a treadmill
  • HIIT workouts make you fitter faster

But…they sometimes scare the crap out of newbies….who wonder if such high intensity workouts are going to cause their de-conditioned hearts to explode inside their chest cavities.

And since I am not a cutting-edge cardiologist, I find it best to check with the experts before shooting my mouth off about the awesomeness of HIIT.

Luckily for us, some of the big brains at the Montreal Heart Institute have just published another study extolling the virtues of HIIT workouts for the rehabilitation of their patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction.

In this study, they compared the circulatory (hemodynamic) respones to:

  1. a 8 min HIIT workout
  2. 22 minute moderate-intensity continuous exercise (aka cardio) style of workout

Their findings?

  1. The HIIT workout was well tolerated by the test subjects and produced no significant ventricular arrhythmias and (or) abnormal blood pressure responses
  2. Compared with the cardio workout, the HIIT workout produced a similar circulatory response (blood pressure, stroke volume, etc) to the cardio workout
  3. Both workouts also produced similar C(a-v)O2 responses. This is a measurement of how much oxygen is absorbed from the arteries into the rest of the body.

Their Conclusion

HIIT may be an efficient exercise training modality in patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction.

What does this mean to you?

If the leading edge cardio researchers are looking at HIIT as an effective treatment for HEART DISEASE patients, then it might just be good for you too.


HIIT is Good for Your Heart

For decades, doctors have been telling their obese & out-of-shape patients that they need to do long, slow & boring cardio workouts if they want to lose weight and get healthy.

Luckily, science is finally catching up to the awesome health-improving aspects of HIIT workouts.

In a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers concluded that a 6 week program of both moderate (10 s work : 20 s rest) and heavy (30 s work : 60 s rest) intensity interval training…

  • Reduced Carotid Arterial Stiffness in both groups
  • Improved Heart Rate Dynamics in both groups
  • Improved VO2 Max in the HEDIT group only
  • Improved Lactate Threshold in both groups




  1. HIIT workouts are good for your heart
  2. This study is only scratching the surface of HIIT research. Besides the limitations of such a small study, the conclusions probably raise more questions than they answer – but since that’s the nature of good science, I am cool with that.
  3. The researchers believe that the HEDIT group (30 s work : 60 s rest) saw improvements due to “mitochondrial biogenesis while the MEDIT (10 s work : 20 s rest) duty cycle induced a vascular stimulus, but had little impact on mitochondrial proliferation”.


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Childhood Obesity is Making Your Kid Stupid

Today’s parents live insanely busy lives.

And this means that sometimes….their kids eat microwave pizza & ice cream while staring at a screen instead of eating of eating a healthy home-cooked meal with the entire family.

Unfortunately, these “sometimes” are quickly becoming “all-the-times” and more and more of our kids are being diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome  – obesity (especially belly fat), insulin resistance, hypertension, low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, researchers have discovered that adolescents diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome are not only at higher risk for:

  • heart disease,
  • type 2 diabetes,
  • stroke,
  • kidney disease,
  • and poor blood supply to the legs

They also have:

  • smaller hippocampal volumes,
  • increased brain cerebrospinal fluid,
  • and reductions of microstructural integrity in major white matter tracts

Which results in…

  • impaired mathematics performance
  • impaired spelling performance
  • impaired ability to pay attention
  • impaired mental flexibility
  • and a trend towards lower overall intelligence

And if this isn’t scary enough…

The researchers have no idea if:

  1. these brain abnormalities & cognitive deficiencies will continue to get worse as our kids age,
  2. these brain abnormalities & cognitive deficiencies are reversible with weight loss and reversal of the other Met Syn symptoms.


Childhood obesity is no joke…We are thoroughly screwing up our kids.


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Reduce Blood Pressure & Lose Weight with Green Coffee Bean Extract

Earlier in the year, I wrote an article about the fat burning effects of Green Coffee Bean Extract (GCB).

Since then I have found out a little more about GCB…and it’s all good.

Not only does…

  1. It look like a more effective fat burner than the two pharma fat-burners (Qysmia/Qnexa & Belviq) recently approved by the FDA,
  2. It seems to have a blood pressure lowering effect

And it’s this positive effect on blood pressure that makes Green Coffee Bean Extract unlike any other fat-burner (drug or supplement) on the market today.

And considering that a lot of my clients who come to me for help losing weight also have high blood pressure, I may finally have a supplement that I recommend…even after talking to their doctor.

Here’s some of the science:

And when we combine all that with another 2012 study which showed how GCB  lowered body weight, BMI, percent body fat while producing a small decrease in heart rate (BPM), we end up with a product worthy of significant interest from the medical community

  • Cheap
  • Healthy
  • Effective

Sounds like a great fat burner to me

NOTE: There is more research to be done on GCB. If you are going to experiment with it as a fat burner, I HIGHLY recommend talking with your doctor and paying close attention to how your body responds. Just because the science looks good up to this point, doesn’t mean that they won’t find a problem next year

NOTEYou can buy Green Coffee Bean Extract here.


Make Insulin Your Friend… and Get Leaner, Stronger & Healthier

Over the next few months I am going to be conducting an experiment about the interaction between nutrition, exercise, blood sugar, insulin, body composition and overall health.

Here’s the plan…

Using a blood glucose monitor (supplied free of charge by Roche Diagnostics), I am going to have one of my clients measure his blood sugar, blood pressure and body composition again and again and again…. and we’re going to see how it reacts to different types of diets and training modalities.

Starting next week, he will begin taking his measurements upon waking, pre-meal, post-meal, pre-workout, post-workout and before bed.

I will track all the data and (fingers crossed), we should generate some pretty interesting data.

We will be testing how his body responds to:

  • a Standard American Diet (aka junk food)
  • a meat & potatoes diet
  • a vegetarian diet
  • a low fat diet
  • a high fat – Atkins style diet
  • a Paleo diet
  • a Mediterranean diet
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Cardio workouts
  • Health Habits workouts…. lots of HIRT
  • Heavy lifting – power bodybuilding style of workout
  • No workouts
If you have any suggestions, leave me a comment.

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?

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.

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?




The Top 9 Potassium Foods

  • Potassium has been shown to lower hypertension.
  • Potassium has been shown to stave off cardiovascular disease
  • It does this by balancing out the harmful effects of high levels of sodium

And considering that 1/3 of us of have hypertension and 103% of us eat too much salt, I decided to put together a list of the most potassium rich foods you can find.

Image from Angie at Food Musings – click on the image for the recipe

Drum roll please…

      1. Potatoes – 1 medium baked potato with skin – 1081 mg
      2. Halibut – 1/2 fillet – 840 mg
      3. Sweet Potatoes – 1 medium baked with skin – 694 mg
      4. Bananas – 1 medium – 422 mg
      5. Milk – 1 cup – 382 mg
      6. Cantaloupes – 1/4 medium – 368 mg
      7. White Beans – 1/4 cup – 297 mg
      8. Tomatoes – 1 medium – 292 mg – Tomato Paste – 1 tbsp – 166 mg – Tomato Sauce – 1/2 cup – 405 mg – Tomato Juice – 1 cup – 556 mg
      9. Oranges – 1 medium – 237 mg – Orange Juice – 1 cup – 496 mg

In choosing these foods, I tried to make it a usable list, with foods that people are fairly likely to buy and in quantities that actually make sense.

For example, the top 3 potassium foods as listed by the USDA are as follows:

      1. Tomato products, canned, paste, without salt added -1 cup – 2657 mg potassium
      2. Orange juice, frozen concentrate, unsweetened, undiluted – 6-fl-oz can – 1436 mg potassium
      3. Beet greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt – 1 cup – 130 mg potassium
From this list, tomato paste looks like an amazing source of potassium…until you realize that the tested portion size was 1 cup.
What are the odds you’re going to eat 1 cup of tomato paste for dinner tonight?
But a nice plate of pan-fried halibut with some mashed potatoes and a glass of tomato juice (Bloody Mary) might be do-able.


    • USDA – Top Potassium Foods

Is High Intensity Exercise the Fountain of Youth?

In a study presented today at European Society of Cardiology Congress, researchers have made a bold claim.

If you want to live a nice long healthy life, the intensity of your workout is more important than the duration.

During their research, they found that men who cycled with fast intensity survived 5.3 years longer than slow cyclists. Average intensity male cyclists survived 2.9 years longer than the slow cyclists.

For women, the averages dropped to 3.9 years for fast cyclists and 2.2 for average speed cyclists.

For both sexes, these numbers were even more pronounced for coronary heart disease mortality.

According to Dr. Peter Schnor, “this study suggests that a greater part of the daily physical activity in leisure time should be vigorous, based on the individuals own perception of intensity”. And it’s not just cycling. Dr. Schnor has published similar results for all-cause mortality in relation to walking.

So there you go….another great reason to cut back on mindless treadmill workouts and embrace my  HIIT and HIRT workouts.


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This is Why You Need to Take Astragalus

Astragalus Membranaceus has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine.

And even though us Westerners are a few thousand years late to the game, our scientists are working hard to get us up to speed.

In particular, an interesting study just came across my desk which showed how a decoction of the dried root of the Astragalus plant was very effective in:

  • reducing body weight
  • improving insulin sensitivity, and
  • improving the severity of fatty liver disease

Which is kind of a big deal considering that excessive body weight, type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease is fast becoming the new normal in North America and Europe.

So, I decided to do a little more research into Astragalus and it’s effect on insulin sensitivity et al.

And I found a pile of research.

Research which showed how Astragalus was effective at:

  • boosting immune system function – cold, flu, infection, fever, allergies
  • reducing hypertension via a diuretic effect
  • eliminating free radicals
  • improving cardiac function
  • improving chronic fatigue
  • improving heart function
  • improving kidney function
  • improving symptoms of asthma
  • improving stomach ulcers
  • reducing inflammation
  • improving your body’s ability to handle stress

as well as…

  • reducing body weight
  • improving insulin sensitivity, and
  • improving the severity of fatty liver disease

All with no chance of toxicity.

Which is kind of important when you start messing around with herbs and roots.

So…where can you get this Astragalus stuff?

health fitness exercise healthhabits

HIIT is better than Cardio for your Heart

Let’s say you’ve got high blood pressure…and stiffness in your arteries.

Whatcha gonna do?

Well….if you’re like most people, you just found out about your problem from your doctor. And you’re about to get a prescription for a bunch of drugs and a recommendation to hop onto the nearest treadmill and do lots and lots of low intensity / long duration cardio-vascular exercise.

But, what if your doctor is wrong?

  • What if…instead of spending hours glued to the seat of an exercise bike, you could be doing 2 x 40 minute interval training sessions per week.
  • And what if…by doing those 2 x 40 minute interval training sessions per week, you were lowering your BP just as well as your cardio cousins.
  • And what if you were improving your arterial stiffness even better than those cardio junkies.

According to this study, that’s exactly what you would be doing.



Common Sense Conclusion(s)

  • If you have hypertension & arterial stiffness, talk to your doctor before you start any exercise program. It just makes sense.
  • Tell your doc about this research.
  • Find out how good/bad your heart really is.
  • And maybe consider doing both types of workouts.

And do some more reading – high blood pressure is no joke.


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Low Carb beats Low Fat once again.

According to researchers, low carb diets are better than low fat diets for:

  1. Lowering diastolic blood pressure
  2. Lowering triglycerides
  3. Lowering very-low density lipoprotein cholesterol
  4. Increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol

Isn’t that strange.

A low-carb diet consisting of (20 g/d for 3 months) in the form of low–glycemic index vegetables with unrestricted consumption of fat and protein turns out to be healthier than the universally accepted low-fat diet consisting of limited energy intake (1200 to 1800 kcal/d; ≤30% calories from fat).


Vegetables & meat are healthier than grains.


Who would have guessed that???

BTW, this study was funded by the National Institutes of Health – no Atkins money in sight.


Fructose = High Blood Pressure

According to this study, people who eat a diet high in fructose (aka 93% of America), are at an increased risk of developing high blood pressure.

Analyzing data collected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the researchers studied 4528 adult Americans with no history of high blood pressure.

Median fructose intake was 74 grams of fructose per day, corresponding to 2.5 sugary soft drinks each day.

After adjustment for demographics, comorbidities,physical activity, total kilocalorie intake, and dietary confounders such as total carbohydrate, alcohol, salt, and vitamin C intake,those test subjects with a fructose intake of more than 74 grams per day were much more likely to have higher blood pressure levels.

In fact, the heavy fructose users were:

  • 26% more likely to have a BP of 135/85
  • 30% more likely to have a BP of 140/90
  • 77% more likely to have a BP of 160/100

And remember, 120/80 is supposed to be a normal BP reading.


If you’re trying to lower your high blood pressure, cut back on the fructose.

And while you’re at it, don’t think that replacing fructose (HFCS – corn syrup) with plain ole’ cane sugar is much better for your BP..

Beets Lower Blood Pressure

Last summer, I told you about an interesting study that showed that drinking beet root juice boosts your stamina and could help you exercise for up to 16% longer.

At that time, the theory was that the nitrate contained in beet root juice leads to a reduction in oxygen uptake, making exercise less tiring.

Beetroot Juice

The researchers weren’t sure of the exact mechanism that caused the nitrate in the beet root juice to boost stamina, but they suspected that it could be a result of the nitrate turning into nitric oxide in the body, reducing the oxygen cost of exercise.

And they were right.

In a study published today, researchers were able to demonstrate that the nitrate found in beetroot juice was in fact the cause of its beneficial effects upon cardiovascular health by increasing the levels of the gas nitric oxide in the circulation.

And it goes beyond improving athletic performance.

According to the research, test subjects who consumed either 250 ml of beetroot juice or an equivalent inorganic nitrate supplement were able to lower their blood pressure within 24 hours. And considering that cardiovascular disease is the world’s biggest killer, having a natural solution to hypertension is pretty damn awesome.




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The War against Salt

.First, we had a war against drugs.

Then we started a war against obesity.

Now, we have a war against salt.

The Combatants?

On the anti-salt / salt reduction side, we have New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, First Lady Michelle Obama and starting this morning…..Health Canada.

Their weapon of choice?

A salt reduction plan where they ask industry to reduce the amount of salt in their processed foods.

  • Health Canada is asking industry to follow voluntary reduction targets aimed at slashing the average Canadian’s daily consumption of sodium from 3,400 mg to 2,300 mg by 2016.
  • Bloomberg’s National Salt Reduction Intiative is hoping to reduce Americans’ salt intake by 20% over five years.

Both of these initiatives are modeled on the salt reduction campaign that the Brits kicked off in 2003.


Hmmmmm…..a voluntary salt reduction.


And why would our processed food producers want to “voluntarily” reduce the amount of salt in their products?

  • Salt makes food taste better
  • When food tastes better, we eat more of it
  • When we eat more food, we have to buy more food
  • When we buy more food, food producers make more money
  • When food producers make more money, their CEOs get bigger bonuses
  • And when CEOs get bigger bonuses…they are happy.

So, I ask once again…why would food producers “voluntarily” reduce the amount of salt in their products?

Apart from a public shaming campaign (boo salt), I can’t think of a single reason.

In fact, food giant Cargill is fighting back with a p.r. campaign featuring Food Network star – Alton Brown.

double click the image to see the pro-salt website



The anti-salt side is about to get their butt kicked.


(for more info, read the NY Times article on Cargill’s “Hard Sell on Salt”)


If you like what you see here, click here for updates




Related Posts

21st Century Disease

Back in the olden times, humans died of scarcity.

Scarcity of:

  • Food (starvation)
  • Medical Knowledge (infant mortality, germs, viruses, infections, etc)
  • Cleanliness (germs & cooties)
  • Technology (hunting dinner could quickly turn into being hunted for dinner)

Luckily for us, our ancestors were hard workers and developed strategies for solving most of these problems.

  • Food (agriculture)
  • Medical Knowledge (Gregory House M.D.)
  • Cleanliness (washing your hands with soap)
  • Technology (food production, medicine, transportation, etc)

Unfortunately for us, our hard working ancestors may have been just a little too smart for our own good.

In our desire to live longer & better, some of our “lifestyle improvements” have turned around and bit us squarely on the butt.

We have gotten so good at:

  • Food (calories) production
  • Labor saving devices (automobiles, microwaves, roombas)
  • Entertainment
  • Information delivery (computers, internet)
  • and so on…

That we are now dying due to excess:

sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Scientists call this condition by a host of different names – Metabolic Syndrome, syndrome X, insulin resistance syndrome, Reaven’s syndrome, and CHAOS (Australia).

I prefer the name 21st Century Disease.

Despite the different names, the scientists all agree that this “syndrome”  is caused directly by the very lifestyle that our ancestors worked so hard to create.

Ironic, ain’t it?.

Note – It’s obvious that there is a still lot of scarcity in the world. It just doesn’t happen to most of us. Without getting all preachy, there are lots of ways we can share some of our abundance with others who weren’t born into abundance. One of my favorites is Kiva.

Obesity Isn't A Disease…It's Only A Symptom

I read an interesting study the other day.

In this study, the researchers argued that when it comes to Metabolic Syndrome (hypertension, dyslipidaemia, glucose intolerance, hyperinsulinemia, central adiposity {big belly}, high blood sugar) obesity may actually be a good thing.

Here’s why.

  • Metabolic Syndrome is a result of our Standard American Diet
  • The S.A.D. combination of too many calories and the over-consumption of sugar + fat-centric meals causes…
  • An increase in the secretion of insulin. When this happens on a regular basis, we end up with…
  • hyperinsulinemia, which…
  • Causes the expression of the lipogenic transcription factor SREBP-1c and its target enzymes and so on and so on and so on until we end up with Metabolic Syndrome and all of the wonderful ailments I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Sounds pretty grim, doesn’t it?

And the first thing that your doctor is going to tell you if she suspects you have Metabolic Syndrome is to lose weight.

As if obesity is the cause of Metabolic Syndrome….But, it ain’t.

  • We know that our bodies respond to our Standard American Diet by increasing the amount of circulating insulin.
  • This leads to an increase in body-fat.

Common sense tells us that this is bad.

These researchers disagree….

  • They propose that this new body-fat delays, rather than causes, the metabolic syndrome induced by chronic caloric surplus.
  • They argue that subcutaneous fat in general exerts a positive effect on insulin sensitivity. Subcutaneous fat is the body-fat that exists between your muscles and your skin – we’re not talking that solid “beer belly” kind of fat.
  • This “healthy” type of adipose tissue is genetically determined and has a strong sexually dimorphic component as well. Females, at any given body mass index, are protected against insulin resistance more than males.

And if we prevent insulin resistance…we prevent Metabolic Syndrome.

To test this hypothesis further, the researchers bred obesity resistance mice with with db/db mice, which normally become obese and develop severe metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes (T2DM) by the age of 8–10 weeks.

  • They ended up with some mice who stayed lean despite their voracious appetites.

Unfortunately, these mice developed Metabolic Syndrome in 4 weeks instead of the typical 8-10 weeks.

The researchers concluded that body-fat is a normal response designed to permit stockpiling of fuels while simultaneously protecting our lipid-intolerant organs.

  • Metabolic syndrome appears only after the storage capacity of the adipocyte compartment has reached a maximum, at which point a gradual accumulation of ectopic fatty acids begins.

NOTE – Ectopic means “not where it’s supposed to be”. It accumulates in the abdominal region (beer belly), the liver, muscle tissue including the heart, the pancreas, and perhaps in lipid-rich deposits in the arteries.

Obesity should therefore not be regarded as a pathology or disease, but rather as the normal, physiologic response to sustained caloric surplus without which the advent of metabolic syndrome is accelerated.


  • Obesity isn’t a disease
  • It’s a symptom of another disease – Metabolic Syndrome
  • It’s better to have squishy, subcutaneous fat than the big, hard beer belly kind of fat

My Suggestion

Stop thinking of obesity as a health issue unto itself. If obesity is a result of something else, you need to know what that cause is and then take action to reverse the problem.

You can start by dumping the Standard American Diet and replace it with a Paleo Diet for the 21st Century

Play v.s. Exercise

Researchers have found that in just 3 short months, a group of inactive men with high blood pressure were able to drastically lower their BP, resting pulse rate and body-fat % by playing soccer.

That’s right – soccer. In fact, the results were significantly better than results achieved via the typical medical advice on healthy diet & exercise.

The researchers found that “a regular game of soccer affects numerous cardiovascular risk factors such as maximal oxygen uptake, heart function, elasticity of the vascular system, blood pressure, cholesterol and fat mass far more than e.g. strength training and just as much if not more than running”.

More than running? But, isn’t that what soccer is? You run and chase the ball over here…and then you chase the ball over there…etc, etc….

So, why is playing soccer better than just running around a track?

What’s the difference?

But, maybe you don’t like soccer. The activity doesn’t matter.

Find some physical activity that:

  1. Gets your heart beating, and
  2. You think you may enjoy

Maybe you join a running club, or go dancing, or lift weights with a buddy, or go swimming with the old ladies at the community center, or play softball or volleyball or basketball or…

It doesn’t matter what the activity is.

Fun + Exercise = Good for You


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Can Potassium Reverse High Blood Pressure?

  • High blood pressure is a killer….we all know that
  • Eating a diet high in sodium can lead to high blood pressure….we all know that

And because we know these things, a lot of people have been told by their doctors to stop eating this…

Salty Snacks

…and to start eating this…


And they aren’t happy about it……….but maybe there is another way.

Maybe, instead of labeling salt as a BAD FOOD, and banning it from our diets altogether, we can balance out the hypertensive effect of sodium with the hypotensive effect of potassium. If only we had some proof…

The Proof

Earlier this year, researchers found that “the ratio of sodium-to-potassium was a much stronger predictor of hypertension and cardiovascular disease than sodium or potassium alone”.

“There isn’t as much focus on potassium, but potassium seems to be effective in lowering blood pressure and the combination of a higher intake of potassium and lower consumption of sodium seems to be more effective than either on its own in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Paul Whelton, senior author of the study in the January 2009 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In this study, researchers determined average sodium and potassium intake of their test subjects.

They collected 24-hour urine samples intermittently during an 18-month period in one trial and during a 36-month period in a second trial.

The 2,974 study participants initially aged 30-to-54 and with blood pressure readings just under levels considered high, were followed for 10-15 years to see if they would develop cardiovascular disease.

The Results

  • The highest salt consumers were 20% more likely to suffer strokes, heart attacks or other forms of cardiovascular disease when compared to the lowest of the low sodium eaters.

20% more likely to suffer a stroke. That sounds great…time to ditch that salt shaker…..right?  Maybe not…

  • The participants with the highest sodium-to-potassium ratio in urine were 50 percent more likely to experience cardiovascular disease than those with the lowest sodium-to-potassium ratios.

According to this study, the ratio of potassium to sodium in your diet is more important to the health of your heart than the overall consumption of sodium.

According to Dr. Whelton, healthy 19-to-50 year-old adults should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day — equivalent to one teaspoon of table salt.

NOTE: More than 95 percent of American men and 75 percent of American women in this age range exceed this amount.

What does this mean to you?

Odds are that you are part of the majority whose sodium : potassium ratio is out of whack.

  • How much potassium do you need to help balance out the salt?

To lower blood pressure and blunt the effects of salt, adults should consume 4.7 grams of potassium per day unless they have a clinical condition or medication need that is a contraindication to increased potassium intake.

Most American adults aged 31-to-50 consume only about half this amount.

  • And how do we get more potassium?
  • Good potassium sources include fruits, vegetables, dairy foods and fish.
  • Foods that are especially rich in potassium include potatoes and sweet potatoes, fat-free milk and yogurt, tuna, lima beans, bananas, tomato sauce and orange juice.
  • Potassium also is available in supplements. However, most potassium supplements come in dosages of 50mg . To get your daily 5 grams, you would need to take 100 pills.

So, maybe we should listen to the good doctor and “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”Hippocrates

Click here for the USDA’s list of foods high in Potassium..

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Addicted to Salt?



To our doctors, it’s a four letter word.

They tell us to cut back on our consumption of salt.

They tell us that if we don’t cut back on our salt, we’re at risk of developing:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack

But, they don’t tell us how difficult it’s going to be kicking our salt habits.

And they sure as heck didn’t tell us that:

Salt might be ‘nature’s antidepressant’


nature's original anti-depressant


Psychologist Kim Johnson and colleagues found in their research that when rats are deficient in salt, they shy away from activities they normally enjoy, like drinking a sugary substance or pressing a bar that stimulates a pleasant sensation in their brains.

“Things that normally would be pleasurable for rats didn’t elicit the same degree of relish, which leads us to believe that a salt deficit and the craving associated with it can induce one of the key symptoms associated with depression,” Johnson said.

The researchers can’t say that a lack of salt can induce clinical depression, but a “loss of pleasure in normally pleasing activities” is a key feature of psychological depression.

So, I’m sad because I cut back on the salt?


“The idea that salt is a natural mood-elevating substance could help explain why we’re so tempted to over-ingest it, even though it’s known to contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and other health problems”.

So why does salt make me happy?

Evolution might have played an important part in the human hankering for salt.

Humans evolved from creatures that lived in salty ocean water. Once on land, the body continued to need sodium and chloride because minerals play key roles in allowing fluids to pass in and out of cells, and in helping nerve cells transfer information throughout the brain and body.

But as man evolved in the hot climate of Africa, perspiration robbed the body of sodium. Salt was scarce because our early ancestors ate a veggie-rich diet and lived far from the ocean.

“Most of our biological systems require sodium to function properly, but as a species that didn’t have ready access to it, our kidneys evolved to become salt misers,” Johnson said.

Behavior also came to play a key role in making sure we have enough salt on board. Animals like us come equipped with a taste system designed to detect salt and a brain that remembers the location of salt sources — like salt licks in a pasture. A pleasure mechanism in the brain is activated when salt is consumed.

So the body needs salt and knows how to find it and how to conserve it.

But today scientists are finding evidence that it’s an abused, addictive substance — almost like a drug.

So now I’m hooked on salt?


When the researchers examined their salt-addicted lab rats, they found that the brain pathways linked to salt addiction were related to the brain pathways linked to drug addiction.


  • I can’t eat salt because I might get high blood pressure.
  • But, if the thought of a potential stroke is depressing, I should increase my salt consumption,
  • Unless I am concerned about becoming addicted to salt, using too much, getting high blood pressure and having a stroke.

Now I’m really confused.

How about you?

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