Henry Rollins v.s. McDonalds

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

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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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How to Wake Up Feeling Great

We’ve all had mornings like Garfield…the alarm goes off…and we feel horrible….like we didn’t get any sleep at all.

And like the fat cat, we…

  • Hit the snooze bar
  • Crawl back under the covers
  • Eventually ooze out of bed
  • Stagger to the bathroom
  • Stand under the shower in a pathetic attempt to wake up
  • Chug down a gallon of coffee
  • And head off to work feeling horrible

Unfortunately, as a personal trainer who…

  1. starts his day with 5:30 am clients, and
  2. needs to be Mr. Motivation…

…I really can’t afford to take 2 or 3 hours to wake up.

And during this latest dark Canadian winter, I hit my limit. Sick and tired of feeling tired, I hopped onto the internet, searched the scientific research on sleep cycles, melatonin, natural waking strategies, etc…and decided to dawn & dusk simulation a try.

For the past 3 months, I have been testing the Philips Wake-Up Light.

And I am glad that I did.

After a week or so, I found myself waking up without the “alarm”. As the light gradually brightened the room, my eyes began to register the light through my eyelids and trigger my body’s natural wake-up cycle, and I started waking up feeling….great.

Without any of the transient period of grogginess (called sleep inertia) that we’re all used to.

Without getting too deep the sciency stuff, the strongest argument for the effectiveness of the “artificial dawn” alarm clock is that instead of being in a deep sleep when the alarm clock rings, the gradually brightening light gradually increases your wakefulness…moving you closer and closer back towards Stage 1 sleep and eventually…naturally…you just wake up….feeling great.

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NoteThe alarm clock also has an “artificial dusk” mode which lets you set the light to gradually get darker and darker. It’s fantastic if you read in bed and tend to fall asleep while reading.

Reference

A Different Kind of Health Habits…..The I CAN DO IT Conference

This weekend, I will be attending the I CAN DO IT conference in Toronto.

Founded by Louise L. Hay four years ago as a forum for kindred spirits to gather, commune, and heal themselves and each other. The I Can Do It! Conference is intended to revitalize your soul, charge your body’s subtle energy centers, and bring a sparkle to your eyes.

And while my friends and family will tell you that I am not the typical sparkly eyes kind of guy, I do have an open mind and an obsession for improving my health, fitness, knowledge, etc…

So, starting tomorrow and running through Sunday, I am going to head down to the Metro Toronto Conference Centre to improve my emotional & spiritual health, boost my energy centers, and perhaps run into Oprah.

Here are some of the speakers attending the conference.

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I hope to see you there.

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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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Attention Loners: Popular People Live Longer

Loners live longer

Popular People Live Longer?

In their study Social Relationships and Mortality Risk, BYU professors Julianne Holt-Lunstad and Timothy Smith have found that your social connections – friends, family, neighbors and colleagues – improve your odds of survival by 50 percent.

In fact, living a life with few social connections is….

  • Equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day
  • Equivalent to being an alcoholic
  • More harmful than not exercising
  • Twice as harmful as obesity

The Study

The researchers analyzed data from 148 previously published longitudinal studies that measured frequency of human interaction and tracked health outcomes for a period of seven and a half years on average.

Because information on relationship quality was unavailable, the 50 percent increased odds of survival may underestimate the benefit of healthy relationships. “The data simply shows whether they were integrated in a social network,” Holt-Lunstad said. “That means the effects of negative relationships are lumped in there with the positive ones. They are all averaged together.”

Dr. Holt-Lunstad said there are many pathways through which friends and family influence health for the better, ranging from a calming touch to finding meaning in life.

.“When someone is connected to a group and feels responsibility for other people, that sense of purpose and meaning translates to taking better care of themselves and taking fewer risks,” Holt-Lunstad said.

In examining the data, Smith took a careful look at whether the results were driven primarily by people helping each other prolong their golden years.

.“This effect is not isolated to older adults,” Smith said. “Relationships provide a level of protection across all ages.”

.Smith said that modern conveniences and technology can lead some people to think that social networks aren’t necessary.

“We take relationships for granted as humans – we’re like fish that don’t notice the water,” Smith said. “That constant interaction is not only beneficial psychologically but directly to our physical health.”

So, what are we supposed to do with this info?

Assuming you want to live longer, you should try to make new friends.

And yes, I know that as “grown-ups”, we all have uber-busy schedules and we just don’t have time to make new friends.

And yes, it’s not like when we were back in elementary school (or university) – where making a new friend is as simple as sharing your blankie during nap time.

Making new friends as an adult can be a little weird.

But have no fear, your ole buddy Health Habits Doug is here to help:

First of all, if you’re like me, you actually don’t have a lot of free time to devote to new friend hunting, so my first piece of advice is to look for friends with common interests. That way you can hunt for friends while you do the “stuff” you already love to do.

For example, I love just about anything to do with fitness – ergo I try to make friends with people who also love fitness. That way I can hang out with my buddies and stay fit at the same time – 2 birds – 1 stone.

But, what if everybody at your health club is plugged into their own little ipod world and have no interest in making friends?

No problem.

  1. Talk to the staff. They know which members are cool and which members are jerks.
  2. Join an exercise class – those people are more social
  3. Go outside the gym and look for a Meetup group in your city
  4. Actually start interacting with all of your Facebook & Twitter friends.
  5. Friend me on Facebook (Health Habits and/or the real Me) & Twitter – I actually talk to people
  6. Don’t feel weird about trying to make new friends…we all need friends…but some of us are just to scared/shy/apathetic to take the first step.
  7. Be brave.

Scientific Reference

The Lazy Man’s Guide to Getting Ripped

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a potential client.

  1. He told me that he would love to get fit, but he just doesn’t have the time.
  2. He’s just too busy with work, kids, internet porn, etc…
  3. B.S.

He’s not busy…he’s lazy. And he’s not alone.

According to the WHO, there are 3.6 billion lazy guys sitting on couches all around the world.

And the trainer who can help those lazy buggers transform their lazy asses from….

FAT TO FIT

…is going to be rich. Filthy…Stinking…Rich

So, here we go. The lazy man’s guide to getting ripped….or as I like to call it – My ticket to becoming filthy, stinking rich.

(BTW, this story is based on a real client. We have been training for one week. He has already lost 5 lbs.)

DIET

Meal # 1 – Breakfast

  • 1 Tbsp of Fish Oil
  • 3 medium sized Apple or Pears
  • 3 fried or hard boiled Eggs
  • Water or Tea
  • 5 grams of Leucine

Meal # 2 – Morning Coffee Break

My client works in an office. Each morning, he has a mandatory group meeting. Coffee & pastries are served.

  • 1 Coffee (with cream)
  • 15 Almonds (brought to work in a little Ziploc baggie)
  • Water

Meal # 3 – Lunch

Big Salad – consisting of

  • Salad Greens (pre-washed, pre-chopped)
  • 1 can of tuna or salmon, or 3 more hard boiled eggs, or leftover meat from last night’s dinner
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice or Vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 5 grams of Leucine
  • Water

Before our hero goes to bed at night, he rips open the bag of greens and dumps it into the tupperware container. Same goes for the protein. In the morning he pours in the oil, lemon juice & salt and pepper. Come lunch time, he shakes the container and presto he has his Big Salad

Meal # 4 – Afternoon Snack

  • 1 Coffee (with cream)
  • 15 Almonds (brought to work in a little Ziploc baggie)
  • Water

Meal # 5 – Workout Nutrition

Meal # 6 – Dinner

  • Another Big Salad or steamed vegetables prepared with a microwave steaming bag
  • BBQ – steak or chicken or fish or pork or lamb or….
  • 5 grams of Leucine
  • 1 Tbsp of Fish Oil
  • Water

TRAINING

I have designed a training program specific to his needs, injuries, muscle imbalances, etc…

But the basic design of the program is:

  • 3x per week total body HIRT workouts
  • 2x per week HIIT/Cardio workouts on his stationary bike
  • 1 x per week active rest – long walks with his wife, soccer with the kids, etc…
  • Dynamic stretching at each workout designed to correct imbalances & prevent injuries

THE RESULTS

As I mentioned above, the client has lost 5 lbs in the first week. And while that certainly is good news, what really excites me is the fact that he has been perfect on his meal compliance.

He said that it was easy…EASY!!!

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Your brain on meditation

Your brain on meditation
Your brain on meditation

We all have stress in our lives.

Job stress, school stress, family stress, economic stress, the stress of your daily commute, etc…

And how we deal with that stress can have a huge impact on our health.

Some of us direct that stress outward.

johnny cash finger

While others turn it back onto ourselves.

stress relief

Well, today’s post is for those self-flagellators who tend to beat themselves up with all of life’s little stresses.

According to a new study, with just 5 days of practice, test subjects learned how to perform IBMT ( integrated body-mind techniques) and were able to:

  • Reduce their levels of cortisol – the stress hormone
  • Improve blood flow and electrical activity in their brains
  • Improve their quality of breathing
  • Reduce their levels of anxiety
  • Reduce their levels of depression
  • Reduce their levels of anger
  • Reduce their levels of fatigue, and
  • “create a state of ah, much like in the morning opening your eyes, looking outside the grass and sunshine, you feel relaxed, calm and refresh without any stress”

christy-turlington-meditation

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So, what is IBMT?

IBMT is a combination of several body–mind techniques including:

  1. body relaxation,
  2. breath adjustment,
  3. mental imagery, and
  4. mindfulness training, accompanied with selected music background.

In the study, subjects followed an instructional compact disc with body posture adjustment, breathing practice, guided imagery, and mindfulness training accompanied by a music background.

The sessions lasted 20 minutes each day for 5 days.

20 minutes x 5 days?

Hmmmm

Where do I sign up?

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For all of you super-geeks, here is a pdf copy of the complete study.

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Reference

Say bye-bye to stress

We all have stress in our lives. Job stress, school stress, family stress, economic stress, the stress of your daily commute, etc…

And how we deal with that stress can have a huge impact on our health.

Some of us direct that stress outward.

johnny cash finger

While others turn it back onto ourselves.

stress relief

Well, today’s post is for those self-flagellators who tend to beat themselves up with all of life’s little stresses.

According to a new study, with just 5 days of practice, test subjects learned how to perform IBMT ( integrated body-mind techniques) and were able to:

Your brain on meditation
Your brain on meditation
  • Reduce their levels of cortisol – the stress hormone
  • Improve blood flow and electrical activity in their brains
  • Improve their quality of breathing
  • Reduce their levels of anxiety
  • Reduce their levels of depression
  • Reduce their levels of anger
  • Reduce their levels of fatigue, and
  • “create a state of ah, much like in the morning opening your eyes, looking outside the grass and sunshine, you feel relaxed, calm and refresh without any stress”

christy-turlington-meditation

So, what is IBMT?

IBMT is a combination of several body–mind techniques including:

  1. body relaxation,
  2. breath adjustment,
  3. mental imagery, and
  4. mindfulness training, accompanied with selected music background.

In the study, subjects followed an instructional compact disc with body posture adjustment, breathing practice, guided imagery, and mindfulness training accompanied by a music background.

The sessions lasted 20 minutes each day for 5 days. Which is a pretty minor time commitment…to make yourself HAPPY.

For all of you super-geeks, here is a pdf copy of the complete study.Say bye-bye to 

Reference

trust me, i'm a doctor-health-healthcare-healthhabits

The status-quo is broken…We need a new model for burning fat and getting fit

For decades, we have listened to the nation’s health experts tell us:

  • what to eat,
  • what not to eat,
  • how much to eat,
  • how much exercise we need,
  • what type of exercise we need….

And, after all of that advice, we have become a nation world afflicted with runaway obesity, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, cancer, etc…

And yet, when we want to improve our health or reduce our waistlines, we still turn to the experts.

Why?

Everyday I meet people who are trying to get into shape. For years, they have been trying to follow the rules laid down by the experts.

  • They followed the food pyramid
  • They cut the fat out of their diets
  • They did their 20 minutes of fat-burning cardio
  • They choked down their egg white omelettes
  • They ate their fiber

And they watched their backsides get wider and their blood pressure rise higher and higher.

  • It’s time for a change.
  • The status quo is broken.
  • The top-down approach doesn’t work.

But with the technology available today, we don’t need to rely solely on that expert advice from up above. We can connect those people who are desperate to transform their bodies with those people willing to help. We can create a tribe of people devoted to health, fitness and each other.

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Reference

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10 more reasons to love High Intensity Interval Training

  1. HIIT was better than the standard  multidisciplinary approach (exercise, diet and psychological support) at helping overweight kids reduce their cardiovascular risk factorsHere’s the study
  2. HIIT can prevent cardiac death in type 2 diabetic individuals. Here’s the study
  3. HIIT should be a required treatment for all Metabolic Syndrome patients. 16 weeks of HIIT training significantly reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease, in terms of improved VO2max, endothelial function, blood pressure, insulin signaling, and plasma lipid composition. Here’s the study
  4. HIIT substantially improves insulin action. Say bye-bye to type 2 diabetes & metabolic syndrome. Here’s the study
  5. HIIT increases levels of HDL cholesterol – that’s the  good cholesterol. Here’s the study
  6. HIIT improves the HRR (Heart Rate Recovery – a measure of how quickly your heart returns to normal post-exercise)) in already well-trained cyclists. Here’s the study
  7. HIIT drastically improves cardiovascular function (V02max) in patients with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Here’s the study
  8. Interval training produced a 302% greater increase inV02max when compared to a long, slow distance training protocol. Here’s the study
  9. HIIT significantly improved the aerobic fitness of a group of prepubescent children (aerobic fitness measured by peak oxygen consumption and maximal aerobic velocity) Here’s the study
  10. HIIT improves the erectile function of hypertension patients  Here’s the study fellas

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What can Brown Fat Do for You?

More specifically, what can brown fat do for you?

Well, according to some new research, brown fat may just turn out to be a very powerful tool in the fight against obesity and type 2 diabetes.

And while I have written previously about the potential fat-melting benefits of brown fat, this latest research:

  • has determined that brown fat does survive our evolution from babies to adults,
  • has pinpointed where those hard to find stores of brown fat are located on our bodies, and
  • has found that your adult brown fat is metabolically active.

And before you say….So What?

Why is this important?

It’s important because, up until now, the general consensus was that brown fat existed only in humans during childhood and that it disappeared as we grew into adulthood.

Brown Fat Distribution Patterns - Adult / Baby
Brown Fat Distribution Patterns – Adult / Baby

For obesity researchers, this is huge.

Now, instead of:

  • trying to discover the new-est and best-est drug to kill your appetite
  • or to speed up your metabolism (without frying your heart – fen-phen),
  • they can look for ways to turn up the re-activate your heat generating / fat burning brown fat.

And they may be closer than you think.

Joslin Diabetes Center researchers are looking at a protein called BMP-7 that they think can promote the development of brown fat.

Check out this post for more info on BMP-7.

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The New Ultra-Longevity Diet

Yesterday, Oprah devoted her show to Extreme Life Extension.

During the show, Oprah and Dr. Oz showcased some of the science and technology devoted to extending human life. And, for a health & fitness nerd like myself, it was fun to watch.

If you missed it, here is a synopsis.

Pretty cool, huh?

But what I found most interesting was the discussion about the Life Extension Diet.

For those of you who don’t know about the Life Extension Diet, here is the abridged version:

  • Restrict your caloric intake
  • Get those calories from highly nutritious foods

Simple.

Except, this is how Oprah’s viewers were introduced to the diet:

calorie-restriction
Click on the image to see a video showing what it's like to eat like our calorie restricting hero.

A skinny, middle aged guy weighing and measuring everything he eats….and if that wasn’t bad enough, he peels an apple for his breakfast.

And what’s so weird about that?

Because he threw out the apple and ate the peel.

Seriously

mmmmmmmmmmmmmm, apple peel.

These people need to hire a better marketing company.

They need to:

  • Down play the caloric restriction – people don’t like being hungry
  • Upsell the sizzle of the steak

herb-crusted-beef-filet

  • Make my mouth water over bowls of luscious fruit

fruitdessert

  • And hire some sexy celebrity(ies) to glam things up a bit.

I mean, seriously, who is more likely to get America hooked onto the Longevity Diet?

mathew_mcconaughey
Matthew McConaughey

or this guy…

and be honest.

You know that sex sells better than brains any day of the week.

So, with that in mind, here’s my attempt at marketing the new and improved…

Ultra-Longevity Diet

  • Endorsed by Matthew McConaughey
  • Loaded with sizzling steaks and fruit smoothies
  • Guaranteed to give you limitless energy & vitality
  • You’ll live longer than you can even imagine
  • And your sex life will be off the charts….

All for the low, low price of $19.99

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A Better Way to Health and Weight Loss

In yesterday’s post, I talked about how our Western diet and lifestyle has caused an explosion of obesity, diabetes and various cardio-respiratory diseases.

I also talked about how the health experts of the last 50 years have continued to feed us the same advice even in the face of our growing obesity and chronic disease epidemic.

And after looking at all of that data, I wondered: why do we continue to listen to these experts with their food pyramids and low fat diets and aerobic exercise programs?

We must be insane.

Albert Einsten once said that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

And that’s what we have been doing. The same advice year in and year out. Even as we get fatter and fatter…we listen to the same advice.

I ended yesterday’s post by saying that there had to be a better way. Here’s my idea.

A Better Way to Health and Weight Loss

In the past few years, web 2.0 technology has allowed large groups of people to collaborate and combine their talents to develop new technology, carry out a specific design task , or help capture, systematize or analyze large amounts of data.

This phenomena has a variety of names: crowdsourcing, open source, collective intelligence, wikinomics, social commerce and crowdcasting.

Examples of this activity include:

So, what does this have to do with losing weight and getting fit?

  • Imagine if you could harness the collective intelligence and experience of each and every dieter, obesity expert, personal trainer, weight loss guru, bariatric doctor, psychiatrist, behavioral therapist and obesity researcher.
  • And imagine if you could direct all of that intelligence and experience towards finding a better solution to our twin dilemmas of obesity and chronic disease.

Instead of an environment where snake oil salesmen and government approved health experts sell false hope to the fat and desperate, imagine an environment where all concerned parties can come together to find a solution.

I know, I know, it sounds a little socialist to me too. But, in fact, we are already seeing the first steps toward this concept.

Websites like SparkPeople have created massive communities of people interesting in getting fit, lean and healthy. And those communities are getting larger by the day.

If you look at the numbers, SparkPeople sees 2.1 million American viewers per month.

sparkpeople-data

By comparison, my teeny tiny little blog sees almost 40,000 Global viewers per month.

healthhabits-visits-per-month

Obviously, SparkPeople is doing something right. In fact, they’re doing lots right. But, they’re not perfect.

Earlier today, I entered an imaginary client into their system

The client was a 255lb. man who wanted to lose 40 lbs. He was also concerned about type two diabetes and hypertension.

This is what they recommended:

  • A diet high in starchy carbs & low in fat
  • A bodybuilding style resistance program
  • A moderate cardio-vascular program
  • Stretching at the end of the workout

Same old, same old. Repeating the same diet & fitness advice that hasn’t been working for decades.

Can someone please stop the insanity!!!

  • Where’s the HIIT training?
  • Where’s the Paleo or Mediterranean or Zone eating philosophies?
  • Where’s the mental/emotional strategies designed to keep people from breaking their diets or skipping their workouts?
  • Where’s the discussion of supplements?

I don’t think that the folks at SparkPeople have any idea of what their site could be.

Anyway, that’s my two cents.

Anyone out there have any suggestions? Any website gurus out there eager to build a kick ass health and fitness community/wiki?

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Want To Be Happier?

HAPPINESS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Extra Bonus

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

Want to Be Happier – Part 2

References

I Smoke, I'm Fat…and it's Your Problem!

According to a new survey from The Vitality Group, most Americans – 82%, think that they are responsible for their health.

  • They also agree that lifestyle choices, like smoking, over-eating and under-exercising, have a direct impact on the health and health care costs.

However, nearly half of Americans – 44%, believe they should not have to pay for their health care. What? Am I missing something here?

How can 82% of people claim responsibility for their health while at the same time expecting someone else to pay when something goes wrong. That just sounds wrong; and I am from Canada, the land of socialized medicine.

What’s Behind the Numbers?

When I first read this story, I was blown away by the hypocrisy. And then I looked a little closer.

Vitality Group is the health promotion branch of Discovery Holdings Ltd. And according to Google Finance:

Discovery Holdings Limited

Discovery Holdings Limited is a South Africa-based holding company that operates in the international health and life assurance markets. The Company operates through five businesses: Health South Africa, Health United States of America, Health United Kingdom, Life South Africa, Life United Kingdom and Vitality. Health South Africa administers and provides managed care services to medical schemes and renders administration services to other business segments within the Company. Health United States of America offers consumer driven health insurance products to employer groups and individuals in the United States of America. Health United Kingdom offers consumer-engaged private medical insurance products to employer groups and individuals in the United Kingdom. Life South Africa offers a range of insurance and financial solutions to the Company’s clients against the financial impact of lifestyle-changing events.
.
155 West Street PO Box 786722
Sandton, 2146
South Africa
+27-11-5292888 (Phone)
+27-11-5392958 (Fax)
Company website:
https://www.discovery.co.za
News Releases, Investor Relations, Financial Information, Corporate History/Profile, Executives, Employment Opportunities

Question: Can anyone think of a reason why an insurance company would encourage an employer to set up a health promotion / disease prevention program for it’s employees.

Hmmmmm….How about reducing claims and increasing profits?

My two cents

Okay, so we have two sides to this story.

  • On one side, we have an American (obviously, not just the U.S.A. – I see lots of fat Canucks every day) public that doesn’t want to actually take responsibility for it’s increase in obesity, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Wrong, so wrong.
  • On the other side, we have an insurance industry that is using guilt along with the economic pressure of America’s employers to increase their own profits. Even wronger.

But looking at this mess, I can’t help but think:

  • What happens if because of this initiative, America’s employees become fit and healthy?

Does that mean that these two wrongs actually make a right?

Note: Here is the original article with all of the details.

4 Steps to Developing Health Habits

We all know someone who is always saying that they are going to “get into shape”.

But, they never do. They know what to do, but they just don’t do it.

Basically, the opposite of Nike

So, how do we get them to do it? Glad you asked.

This study found that individuals who focused on behavior-changing strategies were much more successful than those people forced to endure their doctor’s cognitive approach to behavior change.

Instead of attempting to change their knowledge, beliefs and attitudes surrounding exercise and healthy eating, study participants were successful at increasing their physical activity levels by implementing 4 simple strategies:

Goal Setting

Setting SMART fitness goals involves 5 steps:

  • S – A specific fitness goal could be a walk each morning before breakfast.
  • M – For a goal to be measurable, you should define how far you are going to walk and how often you will perform the workout
  • A – To be achievable, you should start off with a task that you can achieve, knowing that the distance / intensity will increase as for fitness improves.
  • R – To be relevant, your goal should be in tune with your overall fitness goal – weight loss, improved blood pressure, etc.
  • T – To avoid ‘accidentally’ missing a workout, you should arrange a specific exercise appointment in your daily calendar.

Stimulus or Cues

Establish physical reminders to encourage yourself to exercise – Pack your gym bag and leave it by the front door every night, leave yourself notes encouraging yourself to work out, schedule your workout into your electronic schedule with an alarm, ask friends or family to call and remind you…really any reminder will help.

Self Monitoring

Keep a workout and/or food log book. It’s tough at first, but it pays off in the end.

Feedback

Reward yourself with a non-food based treat when you succeed. The rewards should become larger / more important to match the degree of fitness success.

Successfully completing today’s workout deserves a small treat, but not missing a workout for 3 months deserves a really big pat on the back.

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Weight Loss: The Good and the Very, Very, Very Bad

Here are two stories out of today’s news that clearly illustrate the right way to lose weight and the wrong way.

THE GOOD

Joel Marsh and his wife, Dorothy, pose for a photo in Randolph, Maine.
AP/Kennebec Journal, July 18, 2008: Joel Marsh and his wife, Dorothy, pose for a photo in Randolph, Maine.
Associated Press/Kennebec Journal/Fox News

RANDOLPH, Maine — Joel Marsh, a 68-year-old retiree who shed 172 pounds in 20 months has been honored by TOPS Club Inc. as its “International King of Weight Loss.”

Joel Marsh tipped the scales at more than 350 pounds just over two years ago and was on 11 medications for diabetes, high cholesterol and other health problems. He said he is now down to just three drugs and expects to be off those soon.

“After all the doctor warnings, something finally kicked in and I knew I had to do something if I wanted to live any longer,” said Marsh, who heeded the suggestion of friends that he attend a meeting of the local TOPS chapter.

“The whole thing is portion control,” said Marsh, now a slim 178 pounds. “And exercise. I’m on the [Kennebec River] Rail Trail at 5 a.m. every day. I can eat what I want, as long as I get in my three to five miles every day.”

He began by forcing himself to walk 150 feet, a task that left him gasping for breath, and then added another 150 feet each day.

Marsh tells his weight-loss story at TOPS chapters across the state, and the organization occasionally flies him to other states to speak. He does so, he said, to provide incentive for others trying to lose weight.

He usually brings a pair of his old pants with a 58-inch waist that are big enough for him and another person to fit into.

Marsh said his weight was “reasonable” until he retired from his job as a drug and alcohol counselor at Togus in 1994.

“I didn’t keep active or do much of anything except watch television and eat everything in sight,” he said.

Marsh’s wife, Dorothy, also joined the TOPS chapter and has lost about 45 pounds. In addition, she gained a healthier, more active husband.

“I used to have to do all the yardwork and things like that, because he just couldn’t do it,” Dorothy Marsh said. “It’s hard to keep up with him now.”

And now for…

THE VERY, VERY, VERY BAD

SWNS
Dawn Paige with her husband Jeff: She was told to drink 4 extra pints of water a day and reduced her salt intake Photo: SWNS
Richard Savill / Telegraph / SWNS

A UK woman has been awarded £800,000 (1.6 million USD) in damages by Great Britain’s High Court after a nutritional therapist placed her on a radical detox diet that left her brain damaged and epileptic.

By Richard Savill

22 Jul 2008

Dawn Page, 52, a mother of two, claimed she was told to drink an extra four pints of water each day, and reduce her salt intake, after consulting the therapist, Barbara Nash, about losing weight.

Her lawyers said she suffered uncontrolled vomiting within days of being placed on “The Amazing Hydration Diet”, but was assured her sickness was simply “part of the detoxification process”.

She claimed she was later told to increase the amount of water she drank to six pints per day.

However, less than a week after she started the diet, the former conference organizer, of Faringdon, Oxon, said she suffered an epileptic fit brought on by severe sodium deficiency.

She was treated in intensive care, but doctors were unable to prevent permanent brain damage.

So Let’s Compare

Sensible eating and exercise = sensible & healthy weight loss

Losing weight by depleting yourself of sodium = epilepsy & brain damage

But I would never do something so stupid!

Really?

How many people do you know who have tried the Master Cleanse?

I thought so.

The Master Cleanse involves drinking only lemonade made from fresh lemon or lime juice, Grade B maple syrup, water and Cayenne pepper.

No solid food can be eaten for the duration of the cleanse.

Let’s check out the nutritional content of the Master Cleanse recipe.

* 2 Tablespoons of organic lemon juice

* 2 Tablespoons of organic grade B maple syrup

* 1/10 Teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

* 10 oz of filtered water

That recipe is for a single serving of lemonade, and you should drink 6-12 servings a day.Lemon Juice – 12 servings = 24 tbsp/ 1.5 cups = 75 calories (all carbs) and 76.8 mg or 4.2% of your daily required sodium.

Let’s break down the ingredients

Grade B Maple Syrup – 12 servings = 24 tbsp / 1.5 cups = 1233 calories (all carbs) and 42 mg or 2.3% of your daily required sodium.

Cayenne Pepper – 12 servings = 1 1/5 tsp = 7 calories and 0.6 mg of sodium.

Total – 1315 calories and 6.5% of your required sodium intake

.

Yeah, that’s healthy

But, Beyonce did it!!!
But, Beyonce did it!!!

And before you jump all over me saying that salt is bad, read this.

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10 Ways to Burn 1 Pound of Body Fat – Vol. 1

  • A pound of body fat is equal to 3500 calories,
  • There are 7 days in the week,
  • This means that if my Grade 3 math skills are still up to snuff AND you burn an extra 500 calories every day of the week,
  • You should burn 1 pound of body fat per week,

Now if only we new a few ways we could burn an extra 500 calories per day…

excuses dont burn calories

 

THE LIST

Bicycling

  • It will take the average American Male (191 lbs) 115 minutes, or almost 2 hours of Pleasure Cycling to burn 500 calories
  • It will take the average American Female (164 lbs) 135 minutes, or 2 and 1/4 hours of Riding Her Bike to Work to burn 500 calories

old fashioned bicycle

To find out how long it will take YOU to burn 500 calories…

  • take your weight (ex 200 lbs),
  • divide by the average American weight – male or female ( ex 200 lb male / 191 lbs = 1.047),
  • and multiply the result by the average time that I calculated (ex 1.047 x 115 minutes = 120 minutes or two hours)
My calculations are based upon the CDC’s conclusion that the average American man weighs 191 lbs. and the average American woman weighs 164 lbs.

 

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HIIT Workouts – Vertical Jump Training

Recently, I introduced you to “The 4 Steps to a Great H.I.I.T Workout“.

I told you how to select exercises that worked well within a HIIT program. I showed you how to correctly increase the volume and intensity of your HIIT workouts for maximum efficiency. I also explained how modifying an external load can be an effective HIIT tool.

In today’s post I will show you some sample HIIT workouts that I have used on some of my clients.

Different Types of HIIT Workouts

In my business, I work with athletes who are interested in improving their athletic performance as well as the “rest of us” who are mainly interested in improving our overall health and perhaps losing a pound or two.

Lucky for me, HIIT is an effective tool for both groups.

The only differences in designing HIIT programs for these groups is that the level of intensity and resistance is usually higher for the ‘athletes” and that the exercises I choose for them are specifically suited to the needs of their sport.

For example, basketball players need to maximize their vertical jump whereas the rest of us probably have all of the “hops” we need to perform well at our job.

So for all of you aspiring Dwight Howards, or if you are simply interested in improving your vertical jump, while burning off body-fat and lowering your blood pressure, read on:

Vertical Jump HIIT Workout # 1

Exercise Combo # 1

Primary Exercise

Vertical Jumps onto Platform/Bench/Step/Etc.

Active Rest Exercise

Rotation Lunges – walking or static

Exercise Combo # 2

Primary Exercise

Bulgarian Jumping Squats – with added resistance (dumbbells, XVest, etc)

Active Rest Exercise

Bulgarian Squat – bodyweight only – focus on the stretch

Exercise Combo # 3

Wicked Hip Flexor Stretch

Hip mobility & psoas stiffness (or lack thereof) is crucial to generating sick hops

Putting it all together

These are three very specific HIIT workout combinations. They are designed to improve the trainee’s vertical jump while at the same time reaping all of the other HIIT benefits.

Due to their intensity, I usually do not perform all 3 combos back to back. I insert them into the body of a more generic resistance training workout.

As their athletic and jumping abilities improve, I:

  • Increase the Volume of HIIT
  • Increase the Intensity
  • Increase the Load

I also have a few more jumping exercises that I use now and then, but these are my favorites.

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If you are looking for a complete Jump Training program, take a look at this one.

Vertical Jump Affiliate program

HIIT Workouts – Vol. 1 – vertical jump training

Recently, I introduced you to “The 4 Steps to a Great H.I.I.T Workout“.

I told you how to select exercises that worked well within a HIIT program. I showed you how to correctly increase the volume and intensity of your HIIT workouts for maximum efficiency. I also explained how modifying an external load can be an effective HIIT tool.

In today’s post I will show you some sample HIIT workouts that I have used on some of my clients.

Different Types of HIIT Workouts

In my business, I work with athletes who are interested in improving their athletic performance as well as the “rest of us” who are mainly interested in improving our overall health and perhaps losing a pound or two.

Lucky for me, HIIT is an effective tool for both groups.

The only differences in designing HIIT programs for these groups is that the level of intensity and resistance is usually higher for the ‘athletes” and that the exercises I choose for them are specifically suited to the needs of their sport.

For example, basketball players need to maximize their vertical jump whereas the rest of us probably have all of the “hops” we need to perform well at our job.

So for all of you aspiring Dwight Howards, or if you are simply interested in improving your vertical jump, while burning off body-fat and lowering your blood pressure, read on:

Vertical Jump HIIT Workout # 1

Exercise Combo # 1

Primary Exercise

Vertical Jumps onto Platform/Bench/Step/Etc.

Active Rest Exercise

Rotation Lunges – walking or static

Exercise Combo # 2

Primary Exercise

Bulgarian Jumping Squats – with added resistance (dumbbells, XVest, etc)

Active Rest Exercise

Bulgarian Squat – bodyweight only – focus on the stretch

Exercise Combo # 3

Dick Hartzell’s Jump Stretch Hips & Groin Combo

This is a great exercise video. With this exercise combo, you strengthen the lower posterior chain and stretch the hip flexors; all from various angles. Hip mobility is improved, along with hamstring strength and adductor/abductor strength and flexibility.

Great stuff!

Putting it all together

These are three very specific HIIT workout combinations. They are designed to improve the trainee’s vertical jump while at the same time reaping all of the other HIIT benefits.

Due to their intensity, I usually do not perform all 3 combos back to back. I insert them into the body of a more generic resistance training workout.

As their athletic and jumping abilities improve, I:

  • Increase the Volume of HIIT
  • Increase the Intensity
  • Increase the Load

I also have a few more jumping exercises that I use now and then, but these are my favorites.

.

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Scientists Discover New Obesity Gene – Obesity Research Update #4

Obesity researcher, Professor Philippe Froguel and his team have discovered a new obesity gene.

Apparently, this gene ( PCSK1 ) plays a part in the maturation of various hormones that control food intake.

This means that if you have a mutated version of this gene, you are predisposed to severe obesity. Severe obesity, not just regular, run of the mill obesity.

The Details

PCSK1 produces an enzyme called proconvertase 1.

Proconvertase 1 activates several hormones and circulating peptides that are involved in controlling appetite – insulin, glucagon, GLP1, and pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC).

The conclusion of this study is that even apparently minor abnormalities in a proconvertase 1 are enough to significantly increase the risk of severe obesity and to lead to excessive weight in the general population.

So what does this mean?

This means that if your PCSK1 gene is mutated, you are probably obese. Just like if your were born with a congenital leptin deficiency.

So, what percentage of the population is walking around with a deformed PCSK1 gene.

We don’t know, and neither do the scientists.

What causes this gene mutation?

We don’t know, and neither do the scientists.

Can this mutation be corrected?

We don’t know, and neither do the scientists.

Should obese individuals rely on science to provide them with a treatment for a potentially rare genetic mutation that most likely did not cause their obesity in the first place?

NO.

oops, sorry, my objectiveness slipped a little..

We don’t know, and neither do the scientists.

The study is published in the journal, Nature Genetics.

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Scientists discover the Couch Potato gene

A group of researchers, from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, have mapped out 23 specific chromosomal locations that account for 84% of the behavioral differences between low activity (see lazy) mice and high activity mice (see type A super achievers) – sorry, no human tests yet.

Link to Study # 1

Link to Study # 2

Initially, the researchers thought that the difference between the lazy and active mice was due to a genetic effect on the way energy is used by the muscle tissue.

This was proven false. Okay then, moving on.

This led the researchers to look at how genetic differences in brain chemistry might be causing this propensity towards laziness.

Success!

The Studies

The first thing the researchers did was to interbreed the active mice with the lazy mice. Then, they tested the offspring of this ‘unholy union’ for activity using three measurements – speed, endurance and distance.

Genetic tests were performed on the mice and strong correlations were found between the differences in the their genomes and their test results. In fact, the scientists identified 23 genes that were shown to affect activity levels.

While, the scientists have no idea what these genes are doing to cause these differences in activity level, they know that there is a link.

So what does this mean?

This may mean that while some people may be genetically predisposed to enjoy exercise, others may be genetically predisposed to glue their butts to the couch and watch re-runs of Murder She Wrote until they fall asleep in a Doritos induced slumber.

How depressing.

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obesity-genetics-health-healthhabits

Epigenetics & Obesity

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have made a groundbreaking discovery – Overweight moms give birth to children who become even more overweight and who in turn have children who become even more overweight and so on and so on.

And as we know, you can’t beat bad genetics. Those pudgy little kids are doomed.

Or, maybe not. According to this study, researchers found that by supplementing an obese mother’s diet with folic acid and other methyl supplements, they were able to reverse this form of inherited obesity.”

The Hypothesis

Lead researcher, Dr. Robert Waterland, designed this study to test the hypothesis that maternal obesity before and during pregnancy affects the body weight regulatory mechanisms in her offspring. In layman’s terms, does a fat mom produce fat babies?

In regards to reversing this cycle of inherited obesity, Dr. Waterland believes that “DNA methylation may play an important role in the development of the hypothalamus (the region of the brain that regulates appetite).”

The Method

Waterland et al tested this hypothesis on three generations of genetically identical mice, all with the same genetic tendency to overeat. (agouti viable yellow [Avy] mice)

The mice were divided into two groups:

  1. Standard diet group
  2. Standard diet supplemented with folic acid, vitamin B12, betaine and choline. This special ‘methyl supplemented’ diet enhances DNA methylation.

With this special diet, they were attempting to reduce or silence the effect that the inherited gene had over the development of the baby mice.

Can mice that are genetically predisposed to obesity be spared from a life of stretchy pants and motorized scooters?

The Results

  • The mice on the standard diet piled on the body-fat, as expected, and subsequent generations were progressively more obese.
  • Those on the methyl supplemented diet did not gain weight through successive generations.

So what does this mean to me?

Well, according to Dr. Waterland, “the effect of methyl supplementation on body weight was independent of epigenetic changes at the Avy locus, indicating this model may have direct relevance to human transgenerational obesity”.

In layman’s terms, obese mothers who supplement with folic acid, vitamin B12, betaine and choline before & during their pregnancy might help their kids resist the scourge of childhood obesity.

NOTE:  This is only one study, performed on mice. There is more work to be done and just because this study is positive, moms-to-be should check in with their doctors before they start mega-dosing supplements in order to produce babies with six packs.

5 Ways to Get Fit Faster

The Future of Food???

Combining the best and/or worst aspects of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth and Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food / Omnivore’s Dilemma, U.K. author, Felicity Lawrence has written a new book (Eat Your Heart Out: Why the Food Business is Bad for the Planet and Your Health) detailing her investigation into the impact that multinational food chain companies have upon our food supply.

During her investigation, Lawrence arrives at some startling conclusions:

  • A “half dozen heavily subsidized commodities – soya, rapeseed/flax, palm oil,corn, sugar and rice – are broken down into their individual parts and endlessly reconstituted and sold back to us as processed foods or turned into animal feed to produce the factory meats that have conquered our diets in the past half-century.”
  • Lawrence coins this shift towards assembly line food production as “food Fordism”.
  • The Brazilian rain forest is being cleared for farmland on an unprecedented scale. Companies like Cargill and ADM have worked with the Brazilian government and farmers to create a rapidly growing soya bean industry within the Brazilian rain forest.
  • Her description of how foods like soya have to be chemically manipulated to make them suitable for human or livestock consumption might just put you off your next soy milk Starbucks latte.
  • The U.S. – European tariff agreements that were part of America’s post WW2 Marshall Plan allowed heavily subsidized US food, animal feed and fertilizer exports to enter the European markets and take over market share. “In other words, the raw ingredients for today’s global food system have been kept cheap for transnational corporations by government policy.” “And where U.S. subsidies go, western diets have a habit of following. American imports have created whole new patterns of consumption.” “Demand has been a function of price, availability and production.”
  • The U.S. government subsidized it’s agricultural commodities to the tune of $165 billion. Soya, corn, rice, wheat and cotton account for 90% of that money.
  • The real beneficiaries of these subsidies have not been the American farmer, but the agricultural commodity trading companies  – Cargill, ADM, Bunge and the Louis Dreyfus Group, collectively referred to as ‘the ABCD companies’ .

 

Lawrence casts an especially jaundiced eye at Cargill.

She quotes Brewster Kneen, the company’s unauthorized biographer, as saying “Cargill is the undisputed ruler in the global grain trade and extends its tentacles into every aspect of the global food system.”

A description of Cargill’s history describes how it “initially built up its power in the 1870s, in the speculative era of the American agricultural frontier when U.S. grain, along with sugar, began providing the fuel for workers in an industrialising, urbanising Britain.” She goes on to compare it to Britain’s fabled East India Company. Cargill’s own description of it’s own operations proudly boasts of the activities that Lawrence warns us of.

According to Cargill’s company brochures: “We buy, trade, transport, mill, crush, process, refine, season, distribute around the clock and around the globe.

And: “We are the flour in your bread, the wheat in your noodles, the salt on your fries. We are the corn in your tortillas, the chocolate in your dessert, the sweetener in your soft drink. We are the oil in your salad dressing and the beef, pork or chicken you eat for dinner. We are the cotton in your clothing, the backing on your carpet and the fertilizer in your field.”

Yikes….But don’t worry, apparently things turn out all right in the end.

While Lawrence may have presented a bleak look at the current global food supply, she boosts our spirits with the following:

“History shows that empires rise and fall, however, and that the fall when it comes tends to be fast. Food empires are likely to be no different. We are now entering a period of rapid transition. The postwar food system, dependent on prodigious quantities of crude oil for its production, has not only pushed us to our biological limits but is hitting the environmental buffers”.

“After half a century in which they shaped the nature of global diets with the disposal of their agricultural surplus, the Americans have done a sudden about-turn. With the price of oil constantly breaking new records, they want their surplus back to keep their cars on the road. The U.S. government has started pouring subsidies into the production of ethanol from corn. Grain prices have been soaring. the standard commodity parts are no longer cheap, but we are left with the legacy of the old economic order, with diets that were created out of excess.”

Double yikes…..Global warming and high oil prices are supposed to save us from the evil food conglomerates.

That doesn’t sound good at all.

New Diet Drug offers an Alternative to Obesity Surgery

Tesofensine, a new diet drug being developed by the Danish drug company, NeuroSearch, had it’s coming out party at this years European Congress on Obesity.

Recent tests claimed that, with no changes to diet or lifestyle, the average test subject experienced an 11.2% average reduction in weight. In absolute terms, the average test subject lost 11.3 kg / 24.9 lbs. This weight loss took place over the course of a 24 week treatment with 0.5 mg Tesofensine tablets.

More data here.

TIPO-1 results
Placebo
Tesofensine
0.25 mg
Tesofensine
0.5 mg
Tesofensine
1.0 mg
ITT* population
52
52
50
49
Mean weight
at base line (kg)
103.2
101.7
100.1
101.3
Average relative
weight loss
2.0%
6.5%**
11.2%**
12.6%**
Average absolute
weight loss (kg)
2.2
6.7**
11.3**
12.8**

25 lbs over 6 months with no additional exercise or dietary restriction.

Sounds pretty great.

In another test, Tesofensine produced 2.2 kg/4.85 lbs of weight loss in just 2 weeks. Once again, this test required that no dietary or lifestyle changes be made by the participants.

Tesofensine
Placebo
Population (ITT)
n = 16
n = 16
Baseline average BMI
30.7
31.1
Baseline average weight (kg)
102.6
102.6
Total body weight loss (kg)
2.2
0.4
Maximum weight loss (kg)
4.7
1.5

Professor Arne Astrup, president of the International Association for the Study of Obesity said that “if doctors were to encourage users to lose weight before taking the tablets and to eat sensibly and exercise while taking them they could double their weight loss”.

“You could easily come up to 20 per cent weight loss which could offer an alternative to the surgical treatment of obesity which has become the only real cure or effective treatment that can provide a weight loss of that size”.

While I don’t agree with Dr. Astrup’s assertion that bariatric surgery is the only real cure or effective treatment for obesity, I am encouraged by the efficacy of this drug.

The Down Side

Not to be pessimistic, but how many times in the past have drug manufacturers claimed to have formulated the ultimate fat burning pill? Does anyone remember fen-Phen?

Right now, we know that there have been some promising tests. We also know that the drug has the following side effects: mild nausea, diarrhea, constipation, insomnia, mood changes, and, perhaps most importantly, increased heart rate.

My Conclusion

Unless you have a very serious medical condition that requires you to lose weight as soon as possible, I would not recommend being an ‘early adopter’ of any diet drug. NeuroSearch will be running further tests to look at increasing the efficacy and minimizing the side effects.

In the mean time, improving your physical fitness and your food intake is still the best way to go.

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Disease Prevention with an Exercise Prescription

In the U.K., doctors are writing exercise prescriptions for their patients. While it is not an entirely new practice over there, it would be revolutionary on this side of the pond.

Imagine this; instead of billions upon billions of dollars being spent on treating disease, we spent a fraction of that money on preventing disease.

In 2000, the total cost of obesity in the United States was estimated to be $117 billion. About $61 billion was for direct medical costs, and $56 billion was for indirect costs. That number is likely to increase as the Percentage of Adults Who Report Being Obese, increases year after year.

A study by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US has recently estimated that each physically-active person saves the health care system over $300 annually relative to an inactive person.

With the current U.S. population at 303,980,933, that would work out to a potential savings of $91,194,279,900

In Canada:

  • A study done in 1995 for the Ontario Government called The Relationship between Physical Fitness and the Cost of Health Care, estimated that OHIP medical claim costs could be reduced by $31 million a year if all Ontario adults (aged 20-69) had at least an average level of fitness.
  • Based on CDC study mentioned above, the 63% of Canadians who are still inactive cost the health system $5.7B more than if they were active.
  • In the Economic Burden of Illness in Canada, Health Canada reports that the total direct cost (drugs, physicians, hospitals, research) of illness in 1993 was $44 billion out of an overall cost for health care in Canada of $70 billion.Moreover, the indirect costs such as time lost due to long-term and short-term disabilities, and the present value of future productivity lost due to premature mortality and illness in Canada represents an estimated economic value of $129 billion — nearly 21% of the GDP. Reducing the number of inactive Canadians by a further 10% would result in an additional saving of $5 billion.

So what do we do?

In a Cost-Benefit Analysis of Physical Activity Using Bike/Pedestrian Trails, it was found that every $1 investment (construction, maintenance, equipment and travel) in exercise trails led to $2.94 in direct medical benefit.

A 2004 paper, published the in American Journal of Preventive Medicine has a variety of intervention strategies.

But at the end of the day, all government can do is try to coax us, bribe us or threaten us into adopting a healthier lifestyle. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to make the conscious decision. Isn’t the benefit of living an active and healthy life worth the cost?