How to Get a Tan Without Risking Skin Cancer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more info on this study;

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

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A Healthy Diet WILL Lower Your Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke, Death

According to a study published in the medical journal Circulation, eating a healthy diet significantly reduces your odds of…

  • Cardio-vascular death by 35%
  • Heart attack by 14%
  • Stroke by 19%

 The Study

The researchers looked at 31, 546 men and women aged 66.5±6.2 years of age with pre-existing conditions who were enrolled in one of two blood-pressure medication trials.

As part of these studies, the test subjects were required to complete detailed lifestyle questionnaires which included questions about:

  • age,
  • education,
  • ethnicity,
  • diet,
  • physical activity,
  • smoking (never, current, former),
  • daily alcohol intake (frequency of intake),

In addition to the questionnaire, numerous lab tests were conducted – fasting lipids & glucose, medications, physical activity, blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and hip circumference were also recorded at baseline, at 2 years, and at study end.

After five years, the researchers found that the test subjects who ate a diet similar to the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI) approach were much healthier than those who ate the Standard American Diet.

Note – In their calculations, the researchers accounted for age, sex, location, pharmaceuticals, smoking and a whole bunch of other know confounders. This allowed them to “adjust for potential factors that could also influence heart disease risk. For example, healthier eaters may experience fewer heart problems because they also tend to smoke less or exercise more or take their medications more diligently. But even after they controlled for these behaviors, the study showed a strong link between healthy diet and heart health”.

A strong link indeed:

  • A 35% reduction in risk of cardio-vascular death
  • A 14% reduction in risk of heart attack
  • A 19% reduction in risk of stroke

All by eating your veggies.

Reference

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

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

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

Hmmmm…marginal solution???

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

  • Like a diet high in fresh fruit & vegetables

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

But then again…maybe it isn’t.

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

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

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

Doesn’t seem that impractical to me.

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

Reference

How to Get Your Kids to Eat Paleo

  • You want your kids to be healthy.
  • You want them to grow up strong and smart and self-confident.

And yet…most parents feed their children the type of foods…

  • Breakfast cereals & juice/fruit drink for breakfast
  • Processed grains (bread/pasta), cheese and processed meats for lunch
  • More of the same + uber-sugary dessert for dinner

….that lead to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, bullying, insecurity, and a whack of bad habits to pass on to your grandchildren.

Problem is…children come equipped under-developed palates that need to be developed in order for them to like “healthy” food.

And no parent wants meal time to be always be a battle where everyone ends up frustrated and the kids refuse to eat their broccoli and cauliflower.

Lucky for us, I have found two amazing books to help parents get their kids to eat Paleo…or at least eat gluten-free and infinitely more healthy than all their little classmates.

Paleo Pals

Paleo Pals is a children’s story book aimed at kids between 4 and 8 years old.

Written by Paleo-foodie Sarah Fragoso, it tells the tale of three under-age super-heroes named Piper, Phoenix, and Parker who travel the land helping other children learn about living the healthiest, most exciting, most super lives possible. They are known as The Paleo Pals, and this is a story about how they help out Jimmy, a little boy who is not sure if eating paleo food is even one tiny bit exciting or super.

And just like Jimmy, odds are your little munchkins will be too interested in the story and drawings to realize that they are being brainwashed into:

  1. Eating vegetables
  2. Preparing meals with their parents
  3. Spreading the “gospel” of Paleo just like Piper, Phoenix and Parker.

Eat Like a Dinosaur

I just finished beta-testing this book on some of my clients with little kids and it was another huge hit.

It’s a little less story-book and a little more recipe-book than Paleo Pals and the Moms that reviewed it for me said that the two books work really well together.

And on a personal note, the recipes in this book are definitely not little-kiddie recipes. For breakfast this morning, I had a slab of the Bacon, Kale and Black Olive Egg Pie (aka quiche) found on page. 75.

It’s just about the best beginner-Paleo recipe book that I have read – adults or kids.

The book is written by Matt and Stacy, the original Paleo Parents, and is designed to show you how to make the Paleo transformation in your family’s life. With positivity, practicality and an appreciation for the fact that even the healthiest children sometimes want cupcakes and chicken nuggets—this book simply provides healthier ways to give kids the foods they love.

Seriously…I can’t say enough for these two books. If you want your kids to be healthy, you have to get them to eat healthy. And these two books will definitely help.

Live Near Junk Food = Eat Junk Food : Live Near Health Food = Eat Junk Food

According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, living in a neighborhood loaded with junk food restaurants makes it more likely that you will eat a lot of junk food.

Surprised?

Probably not.

For years now, nutrition “experts” have been telling us that people who live in “food deserts” in which healthy food is difficult to find are doomed to a life of pizza, cheetos, soda, type 2 diabetes and morbid obesity.

As a result, the U.S. federal government has made it one of their priorities to increase access to healthy “real” food in these target neighborhoods. And by priorities, I mean spending big piles of tax dollars.

The idea  is that we spend some money in the short term to:

  1. Eliminate food deserts
  2. Improve the health of people living in food deserts, thereby
  3. Improving their productivity, quality of life, income, thereby
  4. Raising tax revenue, thereby
  5. Getting a positive return on the initial investment of tax dollars

Too bad this same AIM study couldn’t find a similarly strong relationship between the consumption of healthy food (fruit, vegetables, etc) and people who live in neighborhoods loaded with supermarkets.

After crunching the data, the researchers concluded that “there is some evidence for zoning restrictions on fast food restaurants within 3 km of low-income residents but suggest that increased access to food stores may require complementary or alternative strategies to promote dietary behavior change.”

Because it’s not enough to build supermarkets and stock them with healthy food.

People eat junk food because they believe that the short term benefits outweigh the long term costs.

And until that belief is changed, junk food producers will continue to make a ton of money and our population will continue to get fatter and more diabetic. 😦

What to do, what to do, what to do….

Here’s what I think

What about you?

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Reference

Beef Filet with Ratatouille

Ratatouille, for me is one of the most versatile recipes around. It’s a traditional French Provençal dish of stewed vegetables namely courgettes, eggplant (aubergine), onions, garlic, peppers, herbs and most importantly tomatoes. There are a few different thoughts on how to make it but as always with my cooking style I keep it simple. It’s mainly used as a side dish but can, and I have used it as a pasta sauce or even with some simple grilled fish. Here I served it with a lovely tender fillet steak. Super.
It’s also a sneaky way of getting the kids to eat more veggies!

Enjoy!

Here’s the full recipe. Take a gander ’round my site and you’ll find lots more healthy tidbits.

You’ll also find a bunch more Paleo friendly recipes to keep you busy.

Make sure you sign up for my newsletter to get my FREE Entertainment booklet with recipes and tips for your next, or first dinner party! Cheers

Sesame Street v.s. Childhood Obesity

grover sesame street exercise

Sesame Street has joined the battle against childhood obesity.

First, it was Grover getting into the gym and pumping some iron.

Then, it was the Cookie Monster kicking his cookie addiction and switching to a diet heavy on fruits and vegetables.

Things were looking good in this battle between fit and fat.

Unfortunately, not everyone believed in the cause. There were traitors amongst us….

http://www.oliverwillis.com/files/flvplayer.swf?file=http://www.oliverwillis.com/files/colbert-cookiemonster.flv&autoStart=false

Cookie Monster Defends His Honor Vs. Colbert – Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

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But luckily, for every Stephen Colbert, there is a Michelle Obama, willing to stand up against video games and Twinkies and Big Gulps.

On this weeks 40th anniversary show, First Lady Michelle Obama helped a group of children plant a vegetable garden on Sesame Street.

And just like those vegetable seeds will eventually take root and grow into mature plants, let’s hope that the message of eating healthy and exercising daily will take root in the minds of a new generation of Sesame Street viewers.
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Summer Sufferin’ Succotash (with Grilled Chicken)

Suferrin’ Succotash!

Remember that saying from Sylvester the Cat in the Looney Tunes cartoon? That was pretty much the only time I had heard the word succotash and as a kid I had no idea what it was or meant. Come to find out succotash is food (no wonder why I liked the saying!) The Missus had me believing this dish originated in the South, which would make sense why I had never heard of it, apart from the cartoon. But during my research on what the name means I found out it all began in the Rhode Island area, if you can believe that. The name is taken from the Naragansett Indian word msickquatash, “boiled whole kernels of corn,” from the Narragansett language once spoken on Narragansett Bay, which is present-day Rhode Island.

How ’bout that for research!

Succotash is a dish consisting primarily of corn and Lima beans, though now it’s been adapted all over the states. In the South any mixture of vegetables prepared with Lima beans and mixed with butter is considered a succotash. In Indiana, according to our Hoosier buddies (Indiana people), succotash is made with green beans and corn instead of Lima beans. Bet you didn’t know succotash was so interesting did you?

I happen to really like this succotash idea because I’m a big fan of all the components that are in the dish. Lima beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber and have good significant amounts of folate and magnesium, all of which are beneficial for your digestive system and your heart. Corn is chock-a-block full of nutrients including fiber & vitamin C. Speaking of C, the peppers are loaded with it and the red pepper is also a great source of vitamin A. Basically you’re nourishing your body naturally, with a brilliant dinner to boot.

Continue reading the full recipe and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to the NEW Healthy Irishman Newsletter!

Fueling your body with healthy food. Fueling your mind with the wealth of health.

Copyright © 2009 The Healthy Irishman. All rights reserved.

Grilled Lamb Chops with Ratatouille

Lamb with Ratatouille

Welcome to 2009. You know what that means–gorging time is O.V.E.R. It’s time to get your inner chef back in the kitchen. This is one of my favorites as lamb, in Ireland is nearly as abundant as potatoes. Funny I didn’t think to put the two together…
Compared to other meats, lamb contains very little marbling (internal fat throughout the meat), which is easily trimmed. That means fewer calories – only 176 or less in an average 3 oz. serving, or 7% of the average daily calorie intake recommended for a 23-50 year old male. Lamb is chock full of lean protein and is nutrient rich – high in B vitamins, niacin, zinc and iron. Another plus is that it’s versatile and these lamb chops are muy easy!

Serves 4 peeps
RECIPE:
12 lamb chops, approx. 3/4″ thick
S&P

DIRECTIONS:
If storing lamb in the fridge, remove and allow the chops to come to room temperature; it will take about 20 minutes. This will ensure that the meat will cook evenly. Preheat a grill pan on medium-high heat. Season lamb chops with S&P on both sides. I like to use Olive Oil spray on my grill pan before searing. Sear lamb on grill for about 3 minutes on each side for medium rare, depending on how thick they are. Once cooked, let them rest for another 2 minutes off the heat. This enables the juices to be redistributed within the meat.

TIP: If you want to get the criss-cross effect, which I prefer, read on.
Begin searing by placing the chop with the bone facing left on the diagonal for 1 1/2 minutes, then alternate direction so the bone is now facing the right corner for another 1 1/2 min. Flip and repeat on the other side.

TIP: Most supermarkets sell prepackaged lamb chops as opposed to buying a rack of lamb and cutting the chops yourself.

RATATOUILLE RECIPE:
1 medium zucchini – diced
1 medium yellow squash – diced
1 Japanese eggplant – diced
1/2 red onion – fine dice
1 clove garlic – minced
1 x 28 oz can chopped tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp. fresh thyme – chopped
1 tbsp. fresh oregano – chopped

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat large saute pan on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add 2 tbsp. olive oil and saute onion and garlic for 2 minutes, softening but not browning. Add the rest of the diced veg and continue to cook for additional 4-5 minutes until they begin to soften. Add tin tomatoes, broth, herbs and stir, combining everything together. Bring to a boil on high heat and once boiling reduce heat to a simmer. Continue cooking for 20 minutes approx or until all the ingredients are soft. Taste and season with S&P.

TIP: The ratatouille can be made ahead of time and reheated when needed. Sometimes I even use this as a pasta sauce or as a side for fish or chicken. It’s a great versatile recipe to keep in your vault.

Cheers to cooking healthy in ’09.

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

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News Flash! Caveman Diet Good…Your Diet Bad

Swedish scientists have just published a research paper that indicates that eating a diet rich in lean meat, vegetables, berries and nuts is effective in lowering YOUR chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

Keeping in mind that it was only a three week study, and additional long term research will be required, scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that the volunteers reduced body-fat, lowered their blood pressure and slashed levels of a blood-thickening agent (plasminogen activator inhibitor-1) known to cause deadly clots.

The results, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, support earlier scientific and real world findings that praise the health benefits of the Paleolithic/Caveman Diet.

The theory behind this way of eating is that prior to the advent of agriculture (10,000 years ago) our ancestors lived only on foods that could be speared or picked from trees and plants.

Some scientists argue the human genome has been unable to keep pace with our advances in agriculture and food preparation. The theory is that the modern human body is not genetically programmed to thrive on our modern diet. Our technology may be modern, but our bodies haven’t fully caught up and chronic ailments like obesity and type 2 diabetes are the result.

To that end, following the Paleolithic/Caveman Diet means no cereals, bread, milk, butter, cheese or sugar but plenty of lean meat, fish, fruits, vegetables and nuts.

To test its effect, the Swedish researchers recruited 20 healthy volunteers and put them on caveman rations for three weeks.

Each patient was assessed for weight, body mass index, blood pressure and cholesterol at the beginning of the experiment.

They were then given a list of stone-age foods they could eat, including fresh or frozen fruit, berries or vegetables, lean meat, unsalted fish, canned tomatoes, lemon or lime juice, spices and coffee or tea without milk or sugar.

Banned foods included beans, salt, peanuts, dairy products, pasta or rice, sausages, alcohol, sugar and fruit juice.

However, they were also allowed up to two potatoes a day and a weekly treat of dried fruit, cured meats and a portion of fatty meat.

After three weeks, the volunteers were tested again.

Among the 14 who successfully completed the diet, the average weight loss was around five pounds. BMI dropped by 0.8. Systolic blood pressure fell by an average of three mmHg. And the levels of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 dropped by 72 per cent. Other favorable effects were the increase in antioxidants and a healthier potassium-sodium balance. One potential negative was the reduction of calcium. This effect should be addressed in further studies.

Official Scientific Conclusion:

This short-term intervention showed some favourable effects by the diet, but further studies, including control group, are needed. blah,blah,blah

My Conclusion:

Fruit, vegetables, lean meat – GOOD. Typical North American diet – BAD.
If you are interested in changing your diet, I have a pretty easy how-to post here.