NEW Health Tips

johnnysfit ohana reports and opinions are for information only, and are not intended to diagnose or prescribe. For your specific diagnosis and treatment, consult your doctor or health care provideruct
 
July 14
High Blood Pressure and Colon Bacteria
The recently published CARDIA Study shows that having certain types of bacteria in your colon is associated with having high blood pressure (Hypertension, Mar 25, 2019), and that you can lower blood pressure by improving the proportion of healthful to unhealthful bacteria in your colon.

Lifestyle changes may be more important than drugs in treating high blood pressure (BMJ, Feb 15, 2019;364:l571). More than 90 percent of North Americans will eventually develop high blood pressure, which markedly increases risk for strokes and heart attacks. You cannot cure high blood pressure by taking drugs; you can only cure it by changing the lifestyle factors that cause it. Drugs only help to control high blood pressure for as long as you continue to take them (Hypertension, 2002;40(5):612-618). Most people cannot control high blood pressure by taking just one drug; often they have to take as many as four or more drugs together.
High blood pressure is associated with:
• eating large amounts of meat, sugar and fried foods;
• not eating enough vegetables, beans, fruits and other parts of plants;
• being overweight; and
• not exercising

The CARDIA study suggests that lifestyle changes may help to lower high blood pressure because they increase the number and diversity of healthful bacteria in your colon.

Change the Foods You Eat for More Healthful Colon Bacteria
Eat more vegetables, fruits, beans, seeds and other plant parts: These nutrient-rich foods contain complex carbohydrates and fats that are not released rapidly into the bloodstream so they do not cause high rises in blood sugar and insulin, and their fiber passes to the colon where bacteria convert it to anti-inflammatory SCFAs (short chain fatty acids). A vegan diet lowers high blood pressure, even without calorie restriction or weight loss (American Journal of Medicine, March 08, 2019).
Restrict meat and other animal products: Many studies associate eating meat with high blood pressure (Austin J Pulm Respir Med, January 21, 2015;2(1):1019). Mammal meat can cause high blood pressure (J Hypertens, 2008; 26: 215-222) because it contains carnitine that is converted by colon bacteria to a chemical called TMAO that stiffens arteries and causes high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis (Nat Med, 2013; 19: 576-585).
Restrict sugar-added foods: People who take in 10-25 percent of their calories from sugared beverages and foods are at increased risk for high blood pressure and suffer a 30 percent higher risk for heart attacks, compared with people who take less than ten percent of calories from added sugars (British Medical Journal: Open Heart, Dec. 11, 2014). See Excess Sugar Favors Growth of Harmful Gut Bacteria
Avoid excess salt: Many doctors believe that a high-salt diet is a major cause of high blood pressure, but low-salt diets reduce systolic blood pressure by less than 5 mm Hg in most adults with hypertension (JAMA Intern Med, 2014;174(4):516-524). See Should You Worry About Salt?

In a recent study, researchers put 158 people with high blood pressure on one of three heart-healthy diets that were planned to be 1)high carbohydrate, 2)high protein, or 3)high monounsaturated fats (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 1, 2018). All three of the diets were low in the foods that are most often associated with high blood pressure: meat, added sugars and fried foods. All of the “healthful” diets lowered high blood pressure in more than 60 percent of the participants, and all three diets caused similar lowering of blood and urine markers of cell damage and inflammation. The people who had their high blood pressure lowered had significant favorable changes of six urinary metabolites that bacteria in your colon make from the food that you eat. These urinary components are associated with a drop in high blood pressure and a reduction in heart attacks. The authors believe that these changes occurred because the participants ate foods that reduced the unhealthful bacteria and increased the healthful bacteria in their colons.

Who is Likely to Develop High Blood Pressure?
A report in the Journal of Hypertension lists indicators of risk for developing high blood pressure:
• high resting heart rate (>70)
• overweight (BMI>25)
• high LDL cholesterol (>100)
• high uric acid level (>6.0 mg/dL)
• high blood sugar (>145 one hour after a meal)
• low glomerular filtration rate (a test of kidney function)
Having two of these factors doubles your chances of suffering high blood pressure and having three almost triples your chances (J of Hypertension, March 5, 2019).

Other risk factors for high blood pressure include:
• not exercising
• eating an unhealthful diet
• drinking alcohol
• smoking or exposure to smoke
• having sleep apnea
• being diabetic

You are considered to have high blood pressure if your systolic blood pressure is greater than 120 before you go to bed at night or just after you wake in the morning (when your blood pressure is at its lowest level). You may also have high blood pressure if your systolic pressure is greater than 140 after resting for 5 to 10 minutes during the day.

My Recommendations
All of the lifestyle changes that help to prevent and treat high blood pressure will also help to protect you from heart attacks, dementia, diabetes and many other life-shortening diseases, so these recommendations apply to virtually all North American adults.
• Restrict sugared drinks and sugar-added foods, and limit other refined carbohydrates such as foods made from flour
• Restrict mammal meat and limit other animal products
• Eat large amounts of vegetables, beans, nuts, unground whole grains, fruits and other plant parts
• Exercise
• Avoid being overweight
• Restrict alcohol; even moderate amounts of alcohol raise risk for high blood pressure (American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Scientific Session, Sunday, March 17, 2019)
• Avoid smoking

JULY 1
The 5 Best Non-Seafood Sources Of Omega-3 Fats!Fish are a great source of beneficial omega-3 fats, but they’re not the only one. Incorporate one of these 5 non-seafood options to continue reaping the benefits of omega-3s

September 13, 2018 • 4 min read

Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel are standout sources of the potent omega-3 fats EPA and DHA. But for many people, eating the recommended two servings of fatty fish per week simply doesn’t happen. This is a shame, considering a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine looked at over 45,000 subjects’ omega-3 blood concentrations and found that participants with the highest omega-3 levels had a lower risk of dying from coronary heart disease.[1]

Whether you lack the access, palate, or preference for seafood, it’s still not an excuse to skimp on omega-3 rich foods! Fortunately, there are several plant-based sources of omega-3 fats that can have a similarly significant impact on your health.

Animal Versus Plant-Based Omega-3s

There are three distinct types of omega-3 fatty acids:

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)

EPA and DHA are primarily found in meat and fish products, whereas ALA is most common in plant-based sources like seeds, leafy greens, cabbage, and squash. Although your body can convert EPA and DHA from ALA, this only occurs to a small degree.

Fortunately, research has shown that increasing your ALA to at least 2 grams per day can yield similar benefits to consuming EPA and DHA.[1,2] The next time you’re at the supermarket, cast your line for any (or all) of these five plant-based sources!

1. Walnuts

Walnuts boast more beneficial omega-3s than to any other nut, providing a whopping 2.5 grams per ounce. Perhaps this is one reason why a Journal of the American Heart Association study decided to specifically include a walnut-rich intervention among other weight-loss-focused dietary interventions.[3]

Researchers examining the impact of varying dietary interventions on various health and weight parameters split subjects into four groups:

Low-fat, high-carbohydrate group

Low-carbohydrate, high-fat group

Low-carbohydrate, high-fat, walnut-rich group (consumed a minimum of 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day)

No dietary intervention (control group)

Although weight loss was similar across all diet groups, the walnut-rich-diet group experienced the greatest reduction in total cholesterol and greatest increase in HDL (“good” cholesterol) within the six-month study amongst all groups.

There’s no better reason to go nuts!

Eat more: You can grab a handful of walnuts for an omega-packed snack, or sprinkle the nuts on salads, yogurt, and oatmeal. Also, consider blending them into protein shakes and pesto recipes.

2. Hemp Oil

It may not give you the munchies, but this verdant oil can get you high on omega-3 fats. When nutrient-dense hemp seeds (also called hemp hearts) are squeezed, what oozes out is oil laced with about 2 grams of the omega-3 fat ALA.

Eat more: Hemp oil is delicate and should not be exposed to high heats. Instead of cooking with it, opt to use it in salad dressings and pestos, or drizzle it over sliced tomatoes.

3. Flaxseed

Each tablespoon of flaxseed provides nearly 1.5 grams of omega-3 fats. Flaxseed also provides plenty of magnesium, vitamin B-1 (thiamin), manganese, and heart-healthy fiber. And given that a scoop (or three) per day is a simple task, it’s easy to rack up omega benefits by fixing flax seed as a staple throughout your day.

It’s important to note that you won’t obtain all of this nutritious goodness if you consume flax in its whole-seed form, since its outer coating is too hard for your digestive track to break down properly. Instead, flaxseed should be ground into a powder in order for your body to properly access its omega bounty. Luckily, it is easy to find ground flax (also called flax meal) on store shelves.

Eat more: A simple way to sneak more flax into your diet is by stirring it into your morning hot cereal. You can also blend it into smoothies or stir it into batters when making items like pancakes.

4. Edamame

Here’s more proof that it is a good idea to live and eat a little greener. Edamame, which are essentially immature green soybeans, are one of the more surprising sources of must-have omega-3 fats. Each one-cup serving supplies roughly half a gram of omega-3 fats. This healthy fat comes with plenty of high-quality plant-based protein (22 grams in a cup, cooked), hunger-quelling fiber, and a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals.

Eat more: Look for bags of shelled edamame in the frozen-vegetable aisle of supermarkets. Prepare it according to the package directions, then toss it with seasonings like smoked salt or paprika for a wickedly healthy snack option. Edamame can also be added to salads, used in dips like hummus, and incorporated into homemade veggie burgers.

5. Chia Seed

Containing nearly 5 grams of omega-3 fats in each 1-ounce serving and a hefty amount of hunger-crushing fiber, it’s no wonder chia has become a poster child of the health-food movement. And, unlike flax, chia doesn’t need to be ground in order to access its nutritional payload.

Eat more: Chia can effortlessly be stirred into cottage cheese, yogurt, oatmeal, and homemade energy bars. Since chia creates a gel when exposed to liquids, it’s excellent for making body-friendly puddings with a tapioca-like texture. Or use chia seeds as a crunchy coating for meats like chicken breast or fish.

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June 16

Will You Live Longer if You Lose Weight?

When it comes to weight, dieters tend to focus on how they look and their self-esteem. But the core reason to lose weight should be to have a better quality of life and live longer.

It’s no surprise to hear that obese people have shorter life spans. Television, newspaper, magazines and even our own doctors warn, “Lose weight or die younger than you should.”  That excess weight causes many health issues such as diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease.

Difference Between Knowing and Doing

Of course hearing these warnings and doing something about them can be miles apart.  Many dieters who watch medical reports on the nightly news tend to block out the warnings that extra pounds can lead to cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart attacks, and many other killers. Who wants to hear dire warnings when there is leftover chocolate cake in the kitchen?  How foolish dieters are not to recognize the ramifications of excess weight.

According to the National Institutes of Health, obesity and overweight together are the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States close behind tobacco use. An estimated 300,000 deaths per year are due to the obesity epidemic.

Weight is measured by body mass index (BMI): which measures weight-to-height.

BMI greater than or equal to 25 is overweight

BMI greater than or equal to 30 is obesity.

Getting healthier with just a 10 pound weight loss

There’s no question that losing extra pounds can make a significant difference in one’s health. Even a 10 pounds weight loss can help overweight people.  Adults who drop from obese to overweight, or from overweight to normal can reduce their health risks.

Here’s what 10 less pounds can do for you

It can lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) by more than 10%

It can reduce blood pressure and protects heart and kidneys

Result in a 50% risk reduction for heart attacks

Can help sleep apnea patients widen their windpipe and allow air to flow better

A 10 pound weight loss over 10 years may result in as much as a 50% decrease in the odds of developing osteoarthritis (knees and joints)

It can reduce the levels of carcinogenic hormones (cancers)

Reduces the chance of getting diabetes by 60%

Weight loss can also help with:

Prevention of angina, chest pain caused by decreased oxygen to the heart

Sleeping better

Less pain associated with arthritis, joint disease, and lower back pain

Decreasing risk for colon and breast cancer

A healthier gallbladder

Increasing energy levels; improved mobility

Decreasing the risk of sudden death from heart disease or stroke

JUNE 13
High Plant Diet Wins Again
Chicken is not more heart-healthful than red meat, according to a new study from Oakland Research Institute. The study showed that chicken and mammal meat caused the same high rises in blood cholesterol levels that predict increased risk for heart attacks, while equal amounts of protein and saturated fats from plant sources resulted in lower levels (Am J of Clin Nutr, June 4, 2019).

A group of 177 healthy men and women, 21–65 years old, ate diets that contained equivalent amounts of high or low saturated fat from mammal meat, chicken, or plants. The participants spent four weeks on each of the diets, in random order. The researchers concluded that eating equivalent amounts of saturated fats from chicken or meat resulted in the same high levels of the unhealthful LDL cholesterol in their bloodstream, but eating the same amount of saturated fats from plants produced far lower levels of the LDL cholesterol fractions.

The lead author said, “We expected red meat to have a more adverse effect on blood cholesterol levels than white meat, but we were surprised that this was not the case.” He also noted that, “Our results indicate that current advice to restrict red meat and not white meat should not be based only on their effects on blood cholesterol. Indeed, other effects of red meat consumption could contribute to heart disease, and these effects should be explored in more detail in an effort to improve health.” See my recent report on Heart Attacks Again Linked to Red Meat. It is still controversial whether chicken and turkey increase risk for heart attacks.

More Data on Meat vs Plants
Heart disease: A study from Loma Linda, CA, showed that eating meat and chicken was associated with a 60 percent increased risk for heart disease, while eating the same amount of protein from plants, such as beans, nuts and seeds, was associated with a 40 percent reduction in heart disease (International Journal of Epidemiology, Oct 2018;47(5):1603–1612).
Heart attacks: The Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study found that eating mammal protein increased heart attack risk, while plant protein decreased risk (Circulation, Jun 1, 2018;11(6)). Mammal meat was associated with increased risk for heart attacks and arteriosclerosis (Circulation, April 22, 2019), while a high plant diet was associated with reduced heart attack risk and a lowering of the harmful LDL cholesterol (Int J Epidemiol, 2018;47(5):1603–12).
Heart failure: Eating mammal meat (Int J Cardiol, 2015; 193:42–46), processed meat (Circ Heart Fail, 2014; 7:552–557), or eggs (Front Nutr, 2017; 4:10) was associated with increased risk for heart failure. Eating deep-water fish (Eur J Clin Nutr, 2016; 70:1015–1021) or whole grains (J Am Diet Assoc, 2008;108:1881–1887) was associated with reduced risk for heart failure.
Deaths from heart attacks: Increased intake of animal protein has been associated with increased death rate from heart attacks (Clin Nutr, 2016; 35:496–506), and increased intake of plant protein has been associated with reduced death rate from heart attacks (JAMA Intern Med, 2016; 176:1453–1463).

Fried Foods Increase Heart Attack Risk
Data from the Women’s Health Initiative showed that frequent consumption of fried foods, especially fried chicken and fried fish or shellfish, was associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular mortality in women (BMJ, Jan 23, 2019;364). Frying foods causes the sugar in them to stick on to the protein to form advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in chicken, fish, and meat to increase heart attack risk.

My Recommendations
To help prevent heart attacks, I recommmend that you restrict mammal meat and processed meats. Whatever you decide about eating animal protein, I recommend that you eat lots of foods from plants — vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts and other seeds. Anti-Inflammatory and Pro-I

JUNE 8
DASH (High-Plant) Diet for Heart Health, Weight Loss and Diabetes Prevention/Control
Nearly twenty years ago, reports from Harvard School of Public Health showed that a diet rich in plants lowers high blood pressure (1,2). It’s called the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.) Other studies show that similar eating patterns lower cholesterol, help to control diabetes and cause weight loss in people who are overweight.  The DASH diet is similar to the many Mediterranean-type dietsIt took only two weeks for the diet to have an effect and after eight weeks, 70 percent of those eating the DASH diet had normal blood pressures, compared to 45 percent on the fruits-and-vegetables diet and 23 percent on the control diet. The authors felt that increasing minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium lowers high blood pressure perhaps by suppressing calcium regulating hormones that close blood vessels. The diet appears to act the same way as the diuretics that are the most common drugs prescribed to control blood pressure: it gets rid of excess sodium (1a).

Most people will not have their high blood pressure lowered just by restricting salt. These studies show that a diet to lower high blood pressure should be rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, contain beans, seeds, nuts and low-fat dairy products, and limit everything else. Here’s a day on the DASH diet: up to 8 servings of grains, 5 or more servings of vegetables, 5 or more servings of fruit, up to 2-3 servings of dairy products, a serving of nuts, seeds or beans, 1-2 servings of meat, poultry or fish.  Sweets and added fats are restricted or avoided.

You should immediately notice that this is basically the diet that I have recommended for more than 30 years. Here’s MY MODIFIED DASH DIET for total heart health — to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, control weight, and prevent or control diabetes

Up to 8 servings (1/2 cup) of WHOLE grains (not products made from flour)
At least 5 vegetables
At least 5 fruits
Up to 3 servings of plain yogurt or cheese  (optional)
2 servings of seafood per week (I recommend that you avoid meat from mammals)
Beans or legumes (no limit)
A few handfuls of nuts or snack seeds
A few tablespoons of olive oil (optional)
Avoid: added sugars and other refined carbohydrates
VERY IMPORTANT – Exercise!

Note: Serving sizes are typically 1/2 cup of cooked foods, 1 cup of raw fruits or vegetables.

To see if you are among the eighty percent of people who can control blood pressure and cholesterol with this diet, try my SHOW ME! diet for just two weeks. You (and your doctor) will be amazed.

If you need to lose weight or control your weight, adapt these same foods to a program of intermittent fasting.

1A) July 2003 issue of Hypertension, a journal of the American Heart Association.

1) PR Conlin, D Chow, ER Miller, LP Svetkey, PH Lin, DW Harsha, TJ Moore, FM Sacks, LJ Appel. The effect of dietary patterns on blood pressure control in hypertensive patients: Results from the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) trial. American Journal of Hypertension, 2000, Vol 13, Iss 9, pp 949-955.

2) LM Resnick, S Oparil, A Chait, RB Haynes, P KrisEtherton, JS Stern, S Clark, S Holcomb, DC Hatton, JA Metz, M McMahon, FX PiSunyer, DA McCarron. Factors affecting blood pressure responses to diet: The vanguard study. American Journal of Hypertension, 2000, Vol 13, Iss 9, pp 956-965Address

June 4
Exercise Reduces Risk for 13 Types of Cancer
1.44 million people, ages 19 to 98, in the U.S. and Europe, were followed for a median of 11 years during which 187,000 new cases of cancer occurred. Leisure-time physical activity was associated with a lower risk of cancers of the colon, breast, endometrium, esophagus, adenocarcinoma, liver, stomach, kidney, head, neck, rectum, bladder and lung, and myeloid leukemia and myeloma (JAMA Internal Medicine, May 16, 2016).

Lack of Exercise Increases Risk for Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is well known to be caused by a common venereal disease called Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Half of all North American women will be infected with the HPV that causes cervical cancer, but almost all of these women will clear the virus and never get the cancer. Many studies have been done to explore why, in one of about 250 women, the HPV will proceed to cervical cancer and how you can reduce your risk.

A new study shows that women who do not engage in any regular moderate or vigorous physical activity are twice as likely to develop cervical cancer as women who exercise at least four times a month (Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease, May 13, 2016). The control group consisted of women who came to a women’s gynecologic clinic because of suspected cervical cancer and did not have that cancer. Other studies have shown the same results. Being overweight and not exercising increased cervical cancer risk in Korean women (PLoS One 2013; 8(6): e66555). Not exercising, increased sitting time and being overweight were associated with increased risk for abnormal Pap smears and cervical cancer in Australian women (Health Promot J Austr 2013; 24(3): 219-23).

How can lack of exercise and excess weight increase risk for a disease caused by a virus? We do not know, but I can speculate. Extensive data show that inflammation (an overactive immunity) is associated with increased risk for many cancers including cervical cancer. Inflammation damages your immunity to allow HPV to turn normal cells into cancers. See Reduce Inflammation to Help Prevent Cancer. Not exercising and being overweight are two major causes of inflammation. Full fat cells can cause a high rise in blood sugar that increases insulin, insulin-like-growth factor, and other hormones that are associated with increased cancer risk. Resting muscles do nothing to lower high blood sugar. On the other hand, contracting muscles pull very large amounts of sugar from the bloodstream and don’t even need insulin to do so.

HPV Also Causes Many Other Cancers
Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by some of the more than 150 Human Papilloma Viruses. So are most cases of cancers of the anus, middle part of the throat, soft palate, base of the tongue, tonsils, mouth, vagina, vulvar lips of vagina and penis, and some types of skin cancers.

Almost all North Americans acquire some of these viruses during their lifetime, most commonly from sexual exposure. There is no medical treatment, but most people clear the virus themselves with no medical treatment whatever in six to nine months. Those who do not clear the virus are at high risk for developing cancers.

Anything that weakens or misdirects your immunity increases your chances of having these HPV viruses cause cancer: lack of exercise, being overweight, having high blood sugar or diabetes, being exposed to radiation, smoking, excess alcohol, chronic inflammation from any source, and so forth.

MAY 30 
Hidden Sugars
The average North American takes in 150 to 200 pounds of sugar a year. Most of your sugar intake comes from added sugars in drinks and packaged, frozen and canned foods that you buy in grocery stores or eat in restaurants. More than 75 percent of the packaged foods in your grocery store have added sugar in them.  Many of these foods do not taste particularly sweet, so you don’t even realize that you are eating sugars.

Check These Foods for Hidden Added Sugars
• salad dressings and barbeque sauces
• yogurts including those with added fruit
• frozen and microwave meals
• canned fruit
• breakfast cereals
• breading on frozen foods and restaurant foods
• processed lunch meats, bacon and canned meats
• peanut butter and other nut butters
• ketchup
• canned cranberry sauce
• packaged diet foods
• gluten-free foods
• canned or packaged soups and sauces
• power bars, energy bars, diet bars and “health” bars
• bakery products
• soft drinks
• non-dairy milks
• fruit-flavored drinks
• many alcoholic drinks including wines

Read the List of Ingredients on All Packaged Foods and Drinks
The Food and Drug Administration requires all packaged foods and drinks to list the sugar content per serving, and to show all sources of sugar in the list of ingredients. If you see any of these ingredients, you are eating added sugars or sugar alcohols: anhydrous dextrose, brown sugar, cane crystals, cane sugar, caramel, carbitol, concentrated fruit juice, corn sweetener, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, diglycerides, disaccharides, evaporated cane juice, erythritol, Florida crystals, fructooligosaccharides, fructose, fructose sweetener, fruit juice concentrate, galactose, glucitol, glucoamine, granulated sugar, hexitol, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, inversol, isomalt, lactose, liquid fructose, malt syrup, maltodextrin, malted barley, maltose, malts, mannitol, maple syrup, molasses, nectar, pancake syrup, pentose, raisin syrup, raw sugar, ribose, rice malt, rice syrup, rice syrup solids, sorbitol, sorghum, sucanat, sugar syrup, white sugar, xylitol, zylose and many more.

Why You Should Limit Added Sugars
All calories are not equal. Added sugars are much more harmful than the sugars or starches in unprocessed whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Added sugars cause higher insulin and blood sugar levels that precede diabetes, metabolic syndrome and extensive cell damage, harmful fat storage, particularly in the belly, and inflammation and high blood pressure that lead to heart attacks. Killer diseases associated with high sugar intake include:

Diabetes: Added sugars, particularly in sugared drinks, cause high rises in blood sugar which can damage every cell in your body. To protect you from a high rise in blood sugar, your liver converts sugar almost immediately to a type of fat called triglycerides. Then the fatty triglyceride molecules are stored in your liver. Your liver is supposed to regulate blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels rise, your pancreas releases insulin into your bloodstream and it lowers blood sugar levels by driving sugar from your bloodstream into your liver. However, when you have fat in your liver, the fat prevents the liver from accepting the sugar from your bloodstream and blood sugar levels remain high, which leads to diabetes. See Sugar-Added Foods Increase Diabetes Risk

Heart Attacks: High rises in blood sugar can punch holes in the inner linings of your arteries. The holes bleed and clot and start to form plaques in the arteries leading to your heart. Then a plaque can break off from the inner lining of a heart artery and travel down the ever-narrowing artery until it blocks the artery completely to cause a heart attack. Diabetes is the most common known cause of heart attacks. See Sugar-Added to Foods Linked to Heart Attack Risk

Cancers: Every factor that is associated with a high rise in blood sugar is also associated with increased risk for many cancers: obesity, abdominal obesity, lack of exercise, lack of vitamin D and so forth. Normal cells feed on all foods, but cancers have damaged mitochondria so they have to get most of their energy from sugar. See A Cure for Cancer is Coming

Obesity: Almost 60 percent of North Americans are already overweight. Added sugars contribute the empty calories (calories with no other nutritional value) that are driving this epidemic of obesity. See Being Overweight Increases Risk for Premature Death

The Worst Culprit: “Fruit” Drinks
An analysis of 203 “100 percent fruit” drinks (fruit juices, fruit drinks and smoothies) marketed to appeal to children found that almost half of them contained at least 19 grams (almost five teaspoons) of added sugar per serving, a full day’s recommended maximum amount of sugar for a child (BMJ Open, March 23, 2016). This study was done in the UK, but the results would probably be even worse in North America. The grocery store where we shop has an entire aisle devoted to sugar-added fruit drinks. Insidious advertising and labeling has convinced parents that these drinks are a healthful alternative to soft drinks.

My Recommendations
• Neither you nor your children should be drinking beverages with sugar in them, unless you are in the midst of prolonged, vigorous exercise. Instead, drink water and eat plenty of whole fresh fruit.
• Read the list of ingredients on all processed foods that you plan to buy and try to limit or avoid those that have added sugars.

MAY 21

Jose Antonio, PhD, CEO of the International Society Sports Nutrition and a researcher at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, puts the following common misconceptions to rest. RIP, bro science.

Myth 1: High-Protein Diets Are Bad For Your Kidneys

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. In contrast, here at Nova Southeastern, we have data showing that if you’re a trained male bodybuilder and consume 3.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (four times the RDA), you’ll experience no harmful effects to your kidneys, liver, or blood lipids.

Myth 2: High-Protein Diets Leach Calcium From Your Bones

This myth about high-protein diets says that consuming too much of it can make your bones brittle and weak. We have done studies up to six months in length that looked at the effect on the bones of women who consumed 2.5-3.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (about three times the RDA). We found no decrease in bone health. In fact, the data suggested that if women eat a high-protein diet, they may increase their lumbar bone-mineral density.

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Myth 3: Muscle Soreness Is Caused By A Buildup Of Lactic Acid

You might have heard a massage therapist saying, “Today, I’m going to massage the lactic acid out of your muscles so you won’t be sore.” Sorry to burst their bubble, but lactic acid, aka lactate, has nothing to do with delayed-onset muscle soreness. DOMS is primarily caused by doing eccentric loading or negatives, or by doing exercises that tax your muscles in new ways. In either case, the soreness comes from micro tears in your muscle fibers.

Lactate isn’t a metabolic poison and it doesn’t cause soreness. In fact, it’s a fuel source used by your heart, brain, muscles, and kidneys.

Myth 4: You Lose More Fat By Decreasing Fats…Or Carbohydrates

Some people say the way to lose body fat is to follow a low-fat, high-carb diet, while others insist it has to be a high-fat, low-carb diet. The truth is, if you keep protein the same and reduce your total daily calorie allowance, you should lose pretty much the same amount of weight with either approach.

In other words, you lose body fat by keeping your protein the same but reducing your daily allowance of calories. When you compare one diet to another, it is usually the one that’s higher in protein that leads to greater body-fat loss.

Myth 5: Taking Creatine Causes Cramps And Dehydration

In studies of how the body reacts to exercises done in abnormally high heat, researchers have found that subjects who take creatine perform better. There is simply no scientific basis to the persistent idea that creatine causes cramps, dehydration, or both.

Myth 6: Women Who Strength-Train Get Big And Bulky

Look in any college gym and you’ll see lots of young men doing prodigious amounts of lifting and eating, in hopes of gaining as much weight as possible. Try as they might to bulk up, it usually doesn’t happen. Yet many women feel they’ll suddenly get gargantuan muscles from lifting even light weights. The fact is, it is very difficult for anyone—especially women—to add muscle mass or lean body mass just by lifting weights.

Myth 7: Artificial Sweeteners Are Bad For You       

Robust data shows that artificial sweeteners such as Sucralose or Aspartame are indeed safe. Experiments in which scientists give animals very large doses of these artificial sweeteners do reveal problems, but when taken in the normal amounts humans consume, there’s no evidence these sweeteners cause harm. When it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth, these sweeteners offer a safe substitute for sugar-filled foods and beverages.

Myth 8: It Doesn’t Matter How Much You Eat, As Long As You Eat “Good Food”

Both the number of calories you consume and the quality of the food you eat plays a role in your overall physique. You can’t ignore either one. Unless you are following some superhero workout plan or are skiing across Antarctica, you can’t consume 5,000 calories a day without putting on some body fat. Eat 20 avocados a day—a healthy food—and you’re still going to weigh more. That’s all there is to it.

You can, however, overeat a bit—as long as you’re getting those calories from protein. Based on existing research, it appears that even if you consume 300-400 extra calories of protein each day, your body won’t create additional fat. If, on the other hand, you overindulge in carbs and fat, get ready to loosen your belt a notch or two. You can’t just sit down with a big jar of peanut butter, eat it all day long, and not expect to gain weight. Sorry.

Myth 9: You Have A Few Hours After Your Workout To Get Your Protein

Here’s the question: After you’ve finished your workout, should you consume your 20-40 grams of protein immediately after, or can you just go home and wait for up to an hour or two?

Many people think that as long as you get your protein within your “anabolic window,” a period that lasts for many hours after a workout, you’ll be fine. I think that’s the wrong way to look at it. The question is whether there is any value or benefit to holding off on your protein consumption, and the answer is no. There’s absolutely no value to it.

The pragmatic answer then is that when you’re finished training, whether you were lifting or doing cardio, drink your protein shake as soon as possible. There’s no clear drawback, and may be some potential benefit.

Myth 10: Caffeine Is A Diuretic Agent That Can Lead To Dehydration

When you look at the data on exercise and caffeine, it is clear that caffeine improves exercise performance. But does it also cause the body to urinate more? There is some evidence that it might have a very mild diuretic effect, possibly when consumed as a cup of strong coffee. In general, the data does not support the theory that caffeine is a diuretic.

Myth 11: The Best Way To Lose Body Fat Or Weight Is Through Exercise

According to the data and studies, exercise alone is a poor way to lose weight or body fat, mostly because most people don’t exercise enough to matter. Even if you ride a bike for four hours a day or work out at the gym for 60 minutes a day, you’re just not burning that many calories.

The primary driver of fat loss is diet. If you’re in the gym for an hour, you might burn 300-400 calories, which is very easy to replace with even a small meal. If you change your diet throughout the day, though, it’s much easier to create a caloric deficit, one that will result in more fat loss than exercise only.

Exercising more or changing the way you exercise—without reducing your caloric intake—isn’t how you lose body weight. You have to do both together.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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MAY 15
Should You Take Probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that can live in your body and help to keep you healthy. These healthful bacteria make vitamins, help digest food, regulate inflammation, and help to limit the number of disease-causing microbes living in your body. Probiotics are available in live-culture fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir (a probiotic milk drink), buttermilk, kombucha (fermented tea), tempeh, miso and natto (fermented soybean products), kimchi, sauerkraut, some pickles, and some fermented cheeses. They are also found in over-the-counter pills that claim to contain live bacteria that will improve your health. However, many scientists have concerns about taking over-the-counter probiotic pills because:
• the healthful bacteria can mutate into bacteria that have harmful properties, and
• the bacteria in pills usually disappear from your intestines soon after you stop taking the pills.

You have more than 100 trillion bacteria living in your intestines. They can be:
• harmful bacteria that are not happy to eat the same foods that you eat, so they try to invade your intestinal cells and bloodstream which can make you sick, or
• healthful bacteria that do not try to invade the cells lining your intestines and eat the same foods that you eat. The healthful bacteria can help to prevent constipation, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome, can lower high blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure and possibly even help to prevent and treat diabetes, arteriosclerosis and certain cancers. These “good” bacteria help to protect you from the “bad” bacteria by causing your intestinal cells to produce a layer of mucous that coats the cells lining your intestines, to help prevent the harmful bacteria from invading your intestinal cells and passing into your bloodstream.

Bacterial DNA Can Change in Your Body
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis recently gave a large number of mice a probiotic strain of bacteria called “Escherichia coli Nissle 1917” that is sold commercially to treat diarrhea and promote health (Cell Host and Microbe, March 26, 2019). This strain of bacteria was isolated more than one hundred years ago from the stool of a World War I soldier who was one of the few soldiers not sickened during an epidemic of severe diarrheal disease that killed many of the other soldiers.

After just a few weeks, the healthful “E. coli Nissle 1917” bacteria in some of the mice changed their DNA so that instead of making protective mucous to coat the intestines, the bacteria were able to eat through the protective coating on the intestines and then invade intestinal cells, the way the harmful bacteria do. This is what appears to happen when humans develop irritable bowel syndrome.

Interestingly, the change of healthful bacteria to harmful bacteria was influenced by what the mice ate. First, researchers gave groups of mice the “E. coli Nissle 1917” probiotic, and then put them on different diets:
• a regular mouse diet,
• high-fiber pellets that otherwise contained the same foods as the regular mouse diet,
• high-fat, high-sugar, low-fiber pellets (to mimic humans’ typical Western diet), and
• high-fat, high-sugar pellets plus fiber.

After five weeks, researchers checked the DNA of the mice’s intestinal bacteria and found no change in the DNA of the “E. Coli Nissle 1917” bacteria in the mice given a healthful high-fiber diet, but a significant change in the DNA of the bacteria of the mice on the high-sugar, high-fat, low-fiber diet. The high-sugar, high-fat diet was associated with an intestinal change from the healthful probiotic bacteria into harmful bacteria.
• On the high-fiber healthful diet, the probiotic bacteria retained their healthful function.
• On the high-sugar diet, the probiotic bacteria adjusted to feed on the different sugars.
• The high-sugar diet converted the healthful bacteria that originally did not enter the intestinal cells and produced mucous to protect the cells lining the intestines into harmful bacteria that entered and ate the cells lining the intestines.
• When exposed to antibiotics, the probiotic bacteria rapidly developed a resistance to the antibiotics.

Should You Take Probiotics?
A review of 45 scientifically-controlled studies published over the last 27 years (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 26, 2018) shows that in healthy people, the use of probiotic supplements can:
• lead to an increase in these healthful bacteria growing in your colon
• reduce belly discomfort caused by irregular bowel movements and constipation
• improve some immune system responses, stool consistency, bowel movements, and the concentration of healthful bacteria in the colon and vagina
However, these benefits are only temporary as the bacteria in the probiotics stop growing in the colon or vagina soon after a person stops taking the probiotic product. Permanent changes to a more healthful colony of gut bacteria appear to occur only when people make permanent changes to their diets. The probiotic supplements studied in this review included live healthful bacteria packaged in capsules, powders and liquids or those found in live-culture fermented foods such as yogurt or kefir.

Probiotics May Help to Prevent Overgrowth of Harmful Bacteria When You Take Antibiotics
Antibiotics prescribed by your doctor can knock off your good bacteria as well as the bad ones. A review of 39 studies shows that taking probiotics (Saccharomyces, Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria, and Streptococci) at the same time you take antibiotics can reduce the incidence of diarrhea and super-infections with a harmful bacteria called Clostridia difficile (JAMA, 2018;320(5):499-500).

Probiotics are Worthless with an Unhealthful Lifestyle
This new study from Washington University suggests how quickly an unhealthful diet may cause changes in your gut bacteria. Since healthful bacteria in your colon eat the same food that you do, the best way to grow healthful bacteria is to eat a diet with lots of the foods that encourage the growth of healthful bacteria. Soluble fiber in plants now appears to be the most effective way to grow healthful bacteria in your colon, prevent disease and prolong your life. See The More Vegetables, The Better. The number of harmful colon bacteria increases with certain harmful lifestyle factors such as:
• not eating lots of vegetables and fruits
• eating a lot of pro-inflammatory foods (such as meats, foods with added sugars, sugared drinks and other refined carbohydrates)
• drinking alcohol
• smoking
• not exercising
• being overweight, particularly storing fat in your liver

My Recommendations
Since we have no way to know what is actually in probiotic capsules, drinks or other probiotic products, I recommend that you concentrate on the foods that are known to help you grow a colony of healthful colon bacteria — fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds — and work to change any of the harmful lifestyle factors listed above that apply to you. You may benefit from taking a probiotic such as live-culture yogurt any time you need to take a prescription for antibiotics to treat an infection.

APRIL 14
Plaques in Arteries are Reversible
Almost anyone can get rid of plaques in their arteries, even if they have already had a heart attack or already have severe narrowing in the arteries leading to your heart (Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol, Feb 2016;36(2):226-35). However, you have to do far more than just take drugs. The formation of plaques in arteries that eventually leads to heart attacks and strokes comes from chemical processes that start in the liver. Plaques can be reversed by changes in diet, exercise, weight, environmental exposures and medications.

Forty percent of all North Americans die of heart attacks because they:
• do not know that plaques are reversible,
• do not believe that they can be saved by lifestyle changes,
• do not know how to change their lifestyle, or
• are not capable of making the extreme changes necessary to prevent a heart attack.

Statins save fewer lives than do exercising and eating sensibly (BMJ Open, January 22, 2015;5(1)). Stents and bypass surgery do absolutely nothing to stop the formation of new plaques in arteries, so if you do not change the behaviors that caused the plaques, you will soon have the same blockage that you had before the procedure was done.

Reversing Plaques Requires Major Lifestyle Changes
Diet: You cannot reverse plaques in your arteries with a half-hearted change in diet. You should eat lots of vegetables, fruits and seeds, even if you are trying to lose weight. You need to avoid or severely restrict sugared drinks, sugar-added foods, fried foods, red meat and processed meats. Earlier studies have shown that changing the foods you eat and getting rid of excess fat stored in your body are major factors in reversing plaques in your arteries (JAMA, 1998;280:2001-2007 and J Fam Pract, 1995;41(6): 560-8). We do not have good data to show that eating red meat less often than once a week is harmful, but it is my opinion that people who want to reverse their plaques should try to avoid meat from mammals and all processed meats.

Exercise: You should try to exercise every day. The only days you should take off are when your muscles feel sore. Sore muscles are a warning that exercise on that day increases risk for an injury. The most beneficial way to exercise is to follow the hard/easy principle. On one day, go a little bit faster and more intensely and you will feel sore in the morning. On the next day, go easy and slow. When your muscles feel fresh again, go more intensely.

Weight loss if needed: Excess fat in your liver increases risk for both diabetes and heart attacks. Having fat in your belly is associated with having excess fat in your liver. If you can pinch three inches or more when you grasp the skin overlying your belly, you are at high risk for having too much fat in your liver and thus for having high blood sugar and high cholesterol. Excess fat on your buttocks or thighs appears not to be as harmful.

Vitamin D: If your hydroxy vitamin D blood level is below 50 nmol/L, you need more sunlight or vitamin D pills. Since lifetime cumulative exposure to sunlight increases skin cancer risk, do not expose your face, head, neck and arms to sunlight. Use a hat and arm coolers and apply sun screens daily to your face and ears. Expose your legs, but limit your sun exposure if you have signs of sun damage: mottled skin appearance, small bumps on your sun-exposed skin, or a past history of pre-cancers and cancers. It takes only a few minutes of sun each day on a small area of skin to get the vitamin D you need.

How to Lose Excess Weight
A major part of dissolving plaques is to lose excess weight. Your liver helps to control high blood sugar and cholesterol levels that lead to heart attacks. Having extra fat in your liver raises blood sugar and cholesterol. Many people will not be able to control their blood sugar and cholesterol levels effectively until they get the fat out of their liver. Unfortunately, when a person stores fat primarily in the belly, the liver will stay full of fat until they get the excess fat out of the rest of their body.

The most effective way I have found to lose weight and keep it off is intermittent fasting. Since you will also be working to reverse plaques, your intermittent fasting weight loss program should use primarily plant-based foods.

Fasting every other day for 12 weeks caused 32 people to lose an average of 12 pounds more than those who followed a daily program of calorie restriction (Nutrition Journal, 11/27/2013). The intermittent-fasting group also markedly lowered several heart attack risk factors:
• They lost an average of eight pounds of fat.
• Their triglycerides dropped 20 mg/dL. (High triglycerides signify increased risk for diabetes).
• Their bad LDL particle size increased. (The larger the particle size, the less likely you are to become diabetic).
• CRP decreased 13 percent. (CRP measures inflammation that causes heart attacks. The lower your CRP, the less likely you are to develop a heart attack).
• Blood adiponectin increased six percent. (Adiponectin is released from your fat cells. The higher your levels, the less likely you are to become diabetic).
• Blood leptin decreased 40 percent. (Leptin predicts weight gain. Lowered leptin levels indicate fat loss).

In another study, intermittent fasting for three months caused twice as much weight loss as daily calorie restriction (British Journal of Nutrition, April 2013). Sixty-five percent of those who fasted intermittently lost weight, compared to only 40 percent of those on calorie-restricted diets. In a third study, 107 overweight women who spent six months eating 650 calories per day for two days a week lost an average 14 pounds of fat and 3 inches from their waists, compared to 11 pounds of fat and 2 inches from waist for daily calorie-restricted dieters (Int J Obes, May, 2011;35(5):714-27). See my report on Intermittent Fasting

My Recommendations
If you have already had tests showing that you have plaques in your arteries, you know that you need to act immediately. If you have high cholesterol or high blood sugar, are overweight or have heart problems, your arteries are probably clogged with plaques and you don’t need further tests to start your plan of action, with your doctor’s permission. Since plaques are reversible, you can get rid of your plaques and resultant high risk for a heart attack by following the steps listed above for the rest of your life.

MARCH  30
Bad Colon Bacteria May Cause Heart Attacks
 
You have more than 100 trillion bacteria living in your colon, with some types that are helpful and other types that are harmful. With aging, the ratio of good to bad types of bacteria appears to change, increasing the amounts of harmful bacteria and reducing the amounts of healthful bacteria. Harmful colon bacteria have been shown to increase risk for many diseases by producing chemicals that cause inflammation. A strong new study shows that with aging, there is an increase in the types of harmful colon bacteria that produce amines, specifically TMAO (trimethylamine oxide), that damage arteries to increase risk for heart attacks, strokes and cell damage throughout your body (J Physiol, Feb 4, 2019).

The Study
With aging, mice (like humans) suffer progressive changes in their arteries that can lead to heart attacks, strokes and cancers. Older mice, but not younger mice, suffer damage to the inner linings of their arteries and arterial stiffness so their arteries cannot widen to increase blood flow when needed as healthy blood vessels do. Arterial stiffness is associated with increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, and cell damage. Scientists can measure the factors that increase risk for arterial damage with aging.

In this study the researchers looked for the harmful pro-inflammatory, tissue-damaging free radicals. They were also able to measure factors that reduce arterial damage such as healthful antioxidants and nitric oxide. Groups of young and old mice were given poorly-absorbed, broad-spectrum antibiotics to kill large amounts of the bacteria that live in their colons. They used genetic sequencing to determine the types of bacteria in the mice’s stools and found that the antibiotics reduced the number of harmful colon bacteria in both young and old mice. After 3-4 weeks, the researchers found no change in the arteries of the young mice, but the old mice had improvements in their arterial stiffness and in the inner linings of their arteries. Both the young mice and the old mice had lower levels of the harmful TMAO, and higher levels of healthful antioxidants.

Note that giving antibiotics to kill colon bacteria was an experimental technique used on mice to mimic changes that occur with aging in humans. The researchers are not suggesting that antibiotics should be given to alter gut bacteria in humans.

Other Studies on Colon Bacteria
Some types of colon bacteria affect risk for many conditions and diseases (JAMA, May 14, 2018), such as:
• Obesity – Colon bacteria break down unabsorbed foods to determine what percentage of the calories from food you absorb (Nature, June 9, 2016;534:213-217). Giving baby mice penicillin, in doses similar to what farmers give livestock, changed their colon bacteria into the types that made them fat and caused them to develop 15 percent more body fat than mice not given antibiotics, and they remained fat into later life (Cell, August 14, 2014;158(4):705-721).
• Type 2 Diabetes – Healthful colon bacteria turn soluble fiber into short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that reduce inflammation to help prevent and treat diabetes (Front Microbiol, Feb 17, 2016;7:185).
• Heart attacks – Harmful colon bacteria cause inflammation that damages arteries (Am J Clin Nutr, Dec, 2005;82(6):1185-94).
• High Cholesterol – Harmful colon bacteria decrease the rate that your body makes bile to increase blood levels of the harmful LDL cholesterol that increases risk for heart attacks (Cell Metab, 2013;17(2):225-235).
• High Blood Pressure – Healthful colon bacteria increase production of SCFAs that lower high blood pressure (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2013;110(11):4410-4415).
• Inflammatory bowel diseases – SCFAs produced by healthful gut bacteria reduce symptoms of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease (Inflam Bowel Dis, Mar 2003;9(2):116-21).

How Colon Bacteria Affect Your Health
Harmful colon bacteria try to enter your colon cells which causes your immune system to produce cells and chemicals that attack and kill bacteria and other invading germs. When your immune system is turned on all the time, these same cells can attack and destroy your own cells to increase risk for arteriosclerosis, diabetes, obesity, heart attacks, cancers, dementia and other diseases. Healthful colon bacteria convert soluble fiber into SCFAs that protect you from disease by decreasing inflammation that can damage every cell in your body, and by lowering high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

My Recommendations
Your current diet determines which bacteria live in your gut. Even if your colon is full of harmful bacteria, you can change your colon bacteria by switching to ananti-inflammatory, high-fiber diet that includes a wide variety of vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds. A healthful diet, together with weight control, a regular exercise program, and avoidance of alcohol and smoke, will help to protect you from the many diseases that are linked to the typical Western diet and lifestyle.

MARCH 22
Who is Pre-Diabetic?
You can tell if you are at high risk for diabetes if you store fat primarily in your belly. Pinch your belly; if you can pinch an more than an inch of fat under the skin there, you are at increased risk and should get a blood test called HBA1C. Having high blood levels of triglycerides and low levels of the good HDL cholesterol that helps prevent heart attacks also increases your risk for diabetes.

When you eat sugar or flour, your blood sugar rises too high. This causes your pancreas to release insulin that converts sugar to triglycerides, which are poured into your bloodstream. Then the good HDL cholesterol tries to remove triglycerides by carrying them back into the liver, so having high blood levels of triglycerides and low blood levels of the good HDL cholesterol are both individual risk factors for diabetes.

High blood levels of insulin constrict arteries to raise blood pressure, so many people who have high blood pressure are also prediabetic. High insulin levels also constrict the arteries leading to your heart to cause heart attacks directly. People with insulin resistance have an increase in small, dense, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is more likely to cause heart attacks than the large, buoyant regular LDL cholesterol. High levels of insulin also cause clotting to increase your risk for heart attacks.

A study from Sweden showed that many people discover that they are diabetic only after they have had a heart attack. Researchers recorded blood sugar levels in men who had had heart attacks and then did sugar tolerance tests at discharge and three months later. They found that 40 percent had impaired sugar tolerance tests three months later. This suggests that 40 percent of people who have heart attacks are diabetic, even though they may not know it. The authors recommend that all people with heart attacks be tested for diabetes (Lancet, 2002; 359:2140-44).

You can help to prevent diabetes and heart attacks by avoiding sugar and flour, exercising and eating lots of vegetables. See Treating insulin resistance

MACH 22
Animal Products Linked to Increased Heart Attack Risk
 
For more than 60 years we have heard that saturated fat and cholesterol may be the driving forces behind the high rate of heart attacks in North America. A new study shows strong statistical links between eating a lot of high-cholesterol animal products — eggs, meat, poultry, and dairy — and risk for heart attacks. These researchers believe that eating a little bit of cholesterol may not be harmful, but the more you take in, the greater your risk for heart disease and death. Their review of six prospective studies with close to 30,000 participants, followed for an average of 17 or more years, found that eating 300 mg of cholesterol per day is associated with a 17 percent increased risk for heart disease and 18 percent increased risk for premature death from any cause (JAMA, March 19, 2019;321(11):1081-1095). These numbers are only an average; some people suffer a genetic risk for developing higher blood cholesterol levels after eating foods that contain cholesterol, while others can eat a moderate amount of cholesterol-rich foods without suffering high blood cholesterol levels.

An editorial in the same issue says, “The association of dietary cholesterol with cardiovascular disease, although debated for decades, has more recently been thought to be less important . . . This report is far more comprehensive, with enough data to make a strong statement . . . overall dietary cholesterol intake remains important in affecting the risk of [heart attacks] and more so the risk of all-cause mortality” (JAMA, March 19, 2019;321(11):1055-1056). More than 40 percent of North Americans die of heart attacks, and high blood cholesterol is unquestionably associated with increased risk for heart attacks.

Dietary Cholesterol or Saturated Fat?
This is probably the most comprehensive study on dietary components and heart attacks, and it supports other studies showing that heart attacks are linked to dietary cholesterol far more than to dietary saturated fat. For example, saturated fats from plants have not been shown to cause heart attacks, even though they do raise blood levels of the harmful LDL cholesterol associated with increased heart attack risk. Meat and eggs contain primarily long chain saturated fats, while plants rich in saturated fats, such as coconut, palm, and palm kernel oils, contain shorter chained saturated fats. People who eat saturated fats from plants are at reduced risk for heart attacks. This new study shows that people who eat more short-chain saturated fats found in dairy products are not at the same high risk for heart attacks as those who eat the longer chain saturated fats in meat and eggs. It is controversial whether dairy products are safer than meat and eggs as they all contain saturated fats and cholesterol. In addition, milk contains a lot of the pro-inflammatory sugar, galactose.

The researchers have not proven that dietary cholesterol causes heart attacks, they have only shown that eating these foods is associated with increased risk for heart attacks. Cholesterol may not be the culprit; it may just be a marker for some other factor in these foods such as TMAO or Neu5Gc, or their lack of fiber, which is found only in plants.

My Recommendations
This study and many others suggest that the U.S. dietary guidelines need to be revisited. The current guidelines contain no specific limit on dietary cholesterol, while guidelines before 2015 recommended limiting dietary cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams per day. This is less than the amount of cholesterol in two eggs. Since cholesterol is found in varying amounts in meat, poultry and dairy as well as in eggs, this study supports the diet I have recommended for many years: heavy on plants and light on animal products.

MARCH 10 

BANANAS…” A very interesting FACTS

Never, put your banana in the refrigerator!!!…
This is interesting. After reading this, you’ll never look at a banana in the same way again.

Bananas contain three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy.

Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world’s leading athletes.

But energy isn’t the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

DEPRESSION:
According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

PMS:
Forget the pills – eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

ANEMIA:
High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

BLOOD PRESSURE:
This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit’s ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

BRAIN POWER:
200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school ( England ) were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

CONSTIPATION:
High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

HANGOVERS:
One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

HEARTBURN:
Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

MORNING SICKNESS:
Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

MOSQUITO BITES:
Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

NERVES:
Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system..

Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and chips. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.

ULCERS:
The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

TEMPERATURE CONTROL:
Many other cultures see bananas as a ‘cooling’ fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand , for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has FOUR TIMES the protein, TWICE the carbohydrate, THREE TIMES the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals.. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around So maybe its time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, ‘A BANANA a day keeps the doctor away!’

PASS IT ON TO YOUR FRIENDS…
PS: Bananas must be the reason monkeys are so happy all the time! I will add one here; want a quick shine on our shoes?? Take the INSIDE of the banana skin, and rub directly on the shoe…polish with dry cloth. Amazing fruit !!!

MARCH 8
How Exercise Prolongs Your Life
Several recent studies show that exercise helps to prolong your life by:
• strengthening heart muscle,
• increasing the ability of the heart to pump increased amounts of oxygen through the body,
• reducing belly fat, and
• increasing the diversity of bacteria in your colon.

We have abundant data to show that people who exercise live longer than those who do not exercise. Now we have the Copenhagen City Heart Study which begins to examine which sports are associated with living the longest (Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Sept 2018;93(12)). People who played tennis lived an average 9.7 years longer than people who do not exercise, compared to badminton (6.2 years), soccer (4.7 years), cycling (3.7 years), swimming (3.4 years), jogging (3.2 years), calisthenics (3.1 years), and health club activities (1.5 years). This study followed 8,577 people for up to 25 years. Twelve percent were primarily sedentary while 66 percent reported exercising regularly. Those who exercised only occasionally were not included in the data.

Interestingly, longevity did not correlate with the amount of time spent exercising. Those who worked out in health clubs (treadmill, elliptical, stair-climber, stationary bikes, and weightlifting) averaged 2.5 hours per week, while the longest-living group, tennis players, played only 1.7 hours per week. Cyclists who averaged the most time exercising per week (6.4 hours) lived six years less than the tennis players.

The authors report that the sports that were associated with living the longest are the ones that require interval training of some sort: short bursts of exercise using large muscle groups and full body movement. Another factor associated with increased longevity appeared to be the amount of social interaction of group sports (tennis, badminton, and soccer) compared to more solitary exercise (jogging, swimming, and cycling).

Exercise Strengthens the Heart
Another study showed that older men who exercise have stronger and larger hearts that supply more oxygen to their bodies (Sports Medicine, February 2019;49(2):199-219). The authors reviewed 32 studies of men over 45 years of age, comparing 644 athletes to 582 non-exercising controls. Echocardiograms showed that the athletes’ hearts had far more muscle. The stronger and bigger hearts pumped more blood and oxygen with each beat and had more beneficial heart rhythms. The older athletes maintained these heart benefits as they aged. Having the ability to supply more oxygen to your heart muscle is a major factor that helps to prevent heart attacks.

Sedentary People Have More Belly Fat
Compared to people who exercise, those who do not exercise regularly have much higher levels of fat in their liver and that fat markedly increases risk for heart attacks, diabetes, certain cancers and premature death (Obesity, Dec 20, 2017). The authors used MRI scans on 124 participants to show that the more time a person spends sitting down, the more belly and liver fat he has. They used history and mechanical accelerometers to measure how much time a person spends sitting down. See my report on liver fat below.

Exercise Increases Bacterial Diversity in your Colon
Of 37 breast cancer survivors, those with the highest level of fitness (endurance and maximal ability to take in and use oxygen) had the most different types of bacteria in their colons (bacterial diversity), regardless of how much fat they had in their bodies (Exp Physiol, Feb 14, 2019). The authors suggest that exercising regularly and more intensely can increase the efficiency with which your heart transports oxygen to your tissues, which, in turn, encourages a greater diversity of bacteria to grow in your colon. Having more and different types of bacteria in your colon is associated with increased lifespan and freedom from diseases such as heart attacks and certain cancers (Int J Mol Sci, Apr 2015;16(4):7493-7519). Healthful bacteria turn soluble fiber into short chain fatty acids that lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure and reduce inflammation that can cause diabetes, heart attacks and certain cancers. The more different types of bacteria you have in your colon, the longer you can expect to live. The authors tested 37 non-metastatic breast cancer survivors who were at least one year post-treatment. Those who had the highest heart and lung fitness levels (most intense exercise capacity) had significantly greater numbers of different types of gut bacteria compared to less fit participants. This shows that the people who exercise at the most intense levels have more varied colon bacteria.

My Recommendations
Every week, studies are published that show that exercise prolongs lives, and now we are seeing studies that show the advantages of intense exercise over less-intense exercise. However, people with blocked arteries can suffer heart attacks with more intense exercise, so it is a good idea to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program or increasing the intensity of your present exercise program

March 1
Healthful Deep-Fried Foods?
An article in The New York Times Sunday Magazine explains that deep-fried foods, done properly, do not absorb much of the cooking oil.If you drop onion rings, shrimp or green beans into hot oil, take them out and drain them, they absorb little or no oil. But most deep-fried foods are first coated in a batter (flour, egg, breadcrumbs) because that’s what makes them crispy. This coating absorbs the oil — less if it’s fried “perfectly”, but still more than non-fried foods.

The “perfect” deep-frying described in the Times isn’t easy. Here’s what’s required:

*Deep, clean peanut oil (1-2 quarts of oil; strain it after each use and throw it out after a few uses)

*Perfect temperature (365 degrees), heated slowly and never allowed to smoke

*Cook only a few pieces at a time, the perfect length of time

*Remove with tongs or a wire basket (not a slotted spoon), and drain on racks (not paper towels)

Most people don’t have the patience, budget or equipment to do this at home.

It’s not just added calories that make deep-fried food less healthful; it’s the high heat. The crunchy coatings of fried foods are primarily starch; so are potatoes (French fries). When starches and sugars are browned in hot oil, they form Advanced Glycation End Products (AGE’s), that are carcinogens.

What about deep-fried foods in restaurants? Fried foods in fast food and many other restaurants (french fries, onion rings, chicken nuggets, etc.) contain partially hydrogenated fats, in addition to the AGE’s.

If you love fried foods, make them an occasional treat, not everyday fare. Order your deep-fried foods at better restaurants and ask whether they start with fresh potatoes or other foods, not frozen; and fry in liquid oil, not Crisco. (Frozen french fries and other frozen foods for frying are most likely to contain partially hydrogenated oils.)

The most healthful diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and other seeds, steamed or cooked in liquid, or eaten raw.

FEB 26
Eat Whole Foods, Not Processed Foods, to Lose Weight
Overweight people who eat mostly whole foods rather than processed foods can lose weight without counting calories or restricting portion sizes.• A new study from Stanford showed that restricting processed foods, particularly added sugars and other refined carbohydrates, is more important for weight loss than going low-carb or low-fat (JAMA, Feb 18, 2018;319(7):667-679). This study had 609 overweight people, 18 to 50 years old (mean age 40), attend classes on healthful eating for weight loss for a year. They were divided into two groups — low-carb or low-fat. Both were told to eat lots of vegetables and other whole foods, and to avoid processed foods as much as possible, particularly those made from flour or with added sugars. The only differences were that the low-fat group was told to select plenty of healthful carbs such as quinoa, barley, steel-cut oats, lentils, beans and fresh fruits, while the low-carb group members were trained to choose a variety of healthful fatty foods such as avocados, nuts, nut butters, salmon, olive oil and hard cheeses. They made no effort to count calories or portion sizes.Both groups lost about the same amount of weight, an average of 13 pounds in the year. Both groups also showed the same improvements in other markers of health, such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels and waist size. The researchers were particularly surprised to find that the people with high insulin blood levels did not do any better on the low-carb diet than on the low-fat diet. This study effectively demonstrates that overweight people can lose weight if they follow a healthful diet based on whole foods and restrict refined carbohydrates and other processed foods.

• Another new study, from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, showed that eating whole plants rather than refined plant foods, such as those made from flour or with added sugars, results in far more healthful intestinal bacteria than a diet with high protein or added amino acids (European Journal of Nutrition, February 20, 2018:1-12). The soluble fiber in unrefined carbohydrates is fermented by bacteria in the colon into healthful breakdown products that have been shown in other studies to help control weight and promote good health.

Eighteen overweight men ate a high-calorie diet, followed by 10 days on each of the following low-calorie diets:

• normal protein (15 percent of energy from protein and 55 percent from carbohydrate),

• normal protein with added free amino acids (40 percent from carbohydrate), or

• high protein (30 percent from protein, 40 percent from carbohydrate).

The carbohydrate diet without extra protein produced weight loss and large amounts of the healthful breakdown products of soluble fiber (butyrates and ferulic acid breakdown products from chlorogenic acid). On the other hand, the diets with added free amino acids and high protein produced much lower levels of these healthful results of carbohydrate fermentation.

How Some Colon Bacteria Can Help to Control Weight and Prevent Disease

Carbohydrates are a main source of energy for our bodies to function, while protein provides amino acids to grow and repair our cells. Taking in too much refined carbohydrates, particularly sugars, provides more energy than you need, so they are converted in your body to fat to increase your risk for becoming overweight.

Carbohydrates are sugars in singles and combinations of up to millions of sugars bound together. Humans can absorb only single sugars, not even two sugars bound together. Because they lack the intestinal enzymes to break down soluble fiber, resistant starches and non-starch polysaccharides into single sugars, these unabsorbed carbohydrates pass all the way to the colon where bacteria do have the enzymes to ferment them to break them down to short chain fatty acids, propionate, acetate and butyrate (Proc Nutr Soc, 2015;74:13–22). These byproducts of fermentation by bacteria in the colon cause good bacteria to grow in the colon, which reduce inflammation that increases risk for heart attacks, obesity, diabetes and cancer (World J Gastroenterol, 2011;17(12):1519–1528).

Definition of Unrefined Carbohydrates

Unrefined carbohydrates are plant foods that have not been changed before you eat them: whole fruits, vegetables, un-ground whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds. Refined carbohydrates include plant parts that have had basic components removed or been ground into flour: all extracted sugars, bakery products, pastas, most dry breakfast cereals and so forth. See Ultra-Processed Foods

The study from Aberdeen shows that dietary carbohydrates, not proteins, determine the amount of fermentation that bacteria cause in your colon. This helps to explain why eating added sugars and other refined carbohydrates such as bakery products, pastas and most dry breakfast cereals can make you fat, while eating unrefined carbohydrates in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, un-ground whole grains, and beans can help to protect you from forming excess fat in your body.

My Recommendations

• These two studies help us to understand why what you eat may be far more important than how much you eat.

• Obesity increases risk for heart attacks, cancers, diabetes and premature death.

• Counting calories or eating tiny portions of food have been repeatedly shown to fail to control weight in the long run.

• Studies on colon bacteria are now showing that eating lots of unrefined carbohydrates from plants and avoiding refined carbohydrates, such as sugar-added foods and drinks and foods made from flour, can help people lose weight and keep it off.

• Eat plenty of vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and other seeds, and whole fruits.

FEB 20
Cheese and Yogurt May Help to Prevent Fractures
Most doctors tell patients suffering from osteoporosis to increase their intake of calcium, but the scientific literature shows that calcium pills do not help to prevent or treat bone fractures. This implies that you should get your calcium from foods rich in that mineral. Dairy products are among the richest sources of dietary calcium, but studies have shown that drinking milk does not appear to reduce bone fractures (British Journal of Nutrition, May 28, 2017;117(10):1432-1438). This month, a review of the scientific literature found 18 articles following 363,557 participants for 3 to 23 years showing that yogurt and cheese, but not milk or cream, are associated with decreased risk for hip fractures (BMC Public Health, February 02, 2018). People who ate a lot of yogurt or cheese had a 25 to 32 percent lower risk of hip fractures than those who ate little or no cheese or yogurt. This new research shows that eating cheese or yogurt is associated with reduced risk for hip fractures, not that it prevents fractures.How Cheese and Yogurt Differ from MilkNobody knows how cheese or yogurt may help to prevent bone fractures, but we have some clues. Milk contains a double sugar called lactose that is made up of two sugars, glucose and galactose, bound together. The bacteria that ferment milk to make cheese or yogurt break down lactose into its two single sugars, then galactose is converted into glucose which is consumed by the bacteria during the fermentation process. The difference between milk and fermented dairy products is that milk contains galactose while cheese and yogurt contain little or no galactose.Galactose can cause inflammation that damages cells. When you are infected by germs, your immune cells and proteins try to kill the invading germs, but as soon as the attacking germs are gone, your immunity is supposed to dampen. However, if your immunity stays active, it causes inflammation and uses the same cells and proteins to attack you and damage your own cells. Galactose has been shown to be the most pro-inflammatory sugar of the four sugars that can pass from the intestines into the bloodstream (Cytokine, Sept 2014;69(1):150-153).

People who drink milk have increased urine levels of 8-iso-PGF2a (a marker of oxidative stress) and serum interleukin 6, a marker of inflammation (Biogerontology, 2004;5:317-25). Having high blood levels of inflammatory markers is associated with increased risk for bone fractures, particularly of the hip (J Bone Miner Res, 2014;29(9):2057-2064). People with multiple markers for inflammation have more than three times the risk of hip fractures (J Bone Miner Res, 2007;22(7):1088-1095). Having blood markers of inflammation is associated with increased osteoclast cell activity that breaks down and weakens bones. An anti-inflammatory diet, based on fruits and vegetables and limiting added sugars, red meat and processed meats, appears to reduce inflammation and helps to prevent bone fractures (J Bone Miner Res, May 2017;32 (5):1136–1146). Other studies also suggest that galactose in milk can promote oxidative stress and inflammation, which in turn increases risk for bone fractures (BMJ, 2014;349:g6015).

What Causes Osteoporosis?

Nobody really knows what causes osteoporosis, but it is associated with:

• increasing age,

• malnutrition (Curr Osteoporos Rep, 2009;7(4):111–7),

• vitamin D deficiency and low exposure to sunlight (Scand J Public Health, 2014;42(2):201–6),

• lack of physical activity,

• smoking (PLoS One, 2016;11(12):e0168990), and

• excessive intake of alcohol (Am J Epidemiol, 1999;149(11):993–1001).

Even though many studies associate lack of calcium with increased risk for osteoporosis (Osteoporos Int, 2011;22(11):2769–88), no good studies have shown that calcium pills prevent fractures. This new study suggests that cheese and yogurt, but not milk, may help to prevent osteoporosis.

FEB 14
Knee Osteoarthritis: Exercise Therapy More Effective than Surgery
Knee osteoarthritis means that your knee hurts and your doctor does not know the cause. With aging, a person wears away the shock-absorbing cartilage in the knees, which increases risk for pain and swelling. Often people with knee osteoarthritis have perfectly normal MRIs of their knee cartilage, and people with MRI evidence of torn cartilage often have no pain or swelling. Many studies present overwhelming evidence that surgery for torn knee cartilage (torn meniscus) does not reduce knee pain or swelling in the long run. Indeed, studies show that exercise is more effective than operations (arthroscopic partial meniscectomy) in treating people with knee pain and degenerative meniscal tears (British Medical Journal, July 20, 2016). An editorial in the same issue of BMJ states, “The surgery is a highly questionable practice without supporting evidence of even moderate quality . . . the latest nail into what should be a sealing coffin.” Surgery has not been shown to be more effective than exercise in treating knee osteoarthritis (N Engl J Med, 2013;368:1675-84) and arthroscopic partial meniscectomy is not more effective than sham placebo surgery for a degenerative meniscal tear (N Engl J Med, 2013;369:2515-24).Exercise Therapy Improves Mobility and Reduces Knee PainA new randomized controlled study of 126 people with knee osteoarthritis and at least one of the following: heart disease, heart failure, type 2 diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or obesity (body mass index greater than 24), showed that aerobic and strength training for 20 weeks markedly decreased knee pain and increased mobility (Arthritis Care & Research, August 30, 2016). The exercise group did much better on:• an index that measures pain, mobility and movement called the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC),• scaled physical functioning, and

• improvement in a six–minute walking test.

The patients were tested at the start of the study, after 20 weeks of graded exercise, and three months after the exercise program was finished. Three months after finishing the program, the exercise group had a 33 percent improvement in the WOMAC Index and 15 percent improvement in the six–minute walking test. No serious side effects occurred from the knee strength and conditioning program. This is a very good study because the control group that did not exercise had good medical care for their knees during the study period and were placed on a waiting list for exercise therapy.

Another study reviewed six studies of 656 men and women with knee osteoarthritis and found that exercise improved symptoms of knee pain in osteoarthritis and that it didn’t make much difference whether the knee exercise program was of low or high intensity (Cochrane Database Syst Rev, Oct 29, 2015;(10):CD010203).

Why So Much Surgery?

Medicine is a business and the bottom line of a business is profit. Fifteen years ago, the first of many studies showed that arthroscopic partial meniscectomy is no more effective than a placebo (N Engl J Med, 2002;347:81-8). Yet arthroscopic partial meniscectomy to trim a torn knee meniscus is one of the most common surgical procedures done in North America with more than 750,000 knee arthroscopies done in the United States each year.

My Recommendations

• If your knee hurts, you should try to find out the cause of your pain. Check with your doctor to see if you have a generalized arthritis, infection, gout, psoriasis or some other known cause.

• If you have sudden locking of your joint and it gets better, and then recurs, you may have “joint mice”, loose pieces of cartilage that slip between the cartilages to cause horrible pain. Your doctor can remove these loose pieces by arthroscopy.

• If your doctor cannot find a cause for your knee pain, you will probably be told that you have knee osteoarthritis, which just means that there is no known cause for your pain.

• Recent research suggests that osteoarthritis is an inflammatory condition with increased risk if you are overweight, diabetic or have heart disease. Therefore, you should try to lose weight if overweight and follow all of the dietary rules for anti-imflammatory and pro-inflammatory foods.

• Osteoarthritis gets worse with inactivity, so you need to keep on moving. However, you need to be guided by pain and stop what you are doing if the pain gets worse.

• You should not participate in sports that involve impact since the force of your foot hitting the ground can break off cartilage. Do not run, jump or participate in sports that involve hard impact of your foot hitting the ground. You can cycle because your feet never leave the pedals, so pedaling is not an impact sport. You can use exercise equipment such as elliptical and stair-climbing machines that allow you to move without pounding. Swimming and water aerobics are also good non-impact sports.

• It is acceptable to try to control your pain with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, but they are only pain medications and do nothing to cure knee problems. You should take the lowest dose possible to relieve the pain.

• If the pain is so unbearable that it keeps you awake at night, your doctor will probably recommend a knee replacement. However, people with knee replacements should not return to sports that involve running or jumping. Replacing your joint requires driving a spike into the middle of the bones of your leg, which pushes aside the shock-absorbing marrow and weakens the bone to increase your chances of breaking the bones if you fall. If that happens, the knee cannot be replaced again until the broken bones heal. You may be unable to walk or be bedridden for a very long time.

 FEB 12 

Exercisers Have Fewer Heart AttacksA study of 21,758 men, average age 51.7 years, followed for an average 10.4 years, showed that men who exercised the most have more plaques in their arteries, but do not suffer more heart attacks or deaths than those with less heart artery calcification (JAMA Cardiol, Jan 30, 2019). The least active men with excessive arterial plaques were twice as likely to die of heart disease. Compared to low-level exercisers, the heavy exercisers without increased plaques had half the risk of dying during the study period. This agrees with other studies showing that older athletes may have increased plaques in the arteries leading to their hearts (Circulation, 2017;136(2):138-148), even though they are at significantly reduced risk for suffering heart attacks and death from heart attacks (Prog Cardiovasc Dis, 2015;57(4):324-329). The studies have not shown whether exercise causes plaque formation or is just associated with it.The CARDIA study, on 5,115 people who have been followed for more than 30 years so far, has shown that men who spend a lot of time exercising each week have more plaques than moderate exercisers, but do not suffer increased risk for heart disease (Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Oct 16, 2017). All of the recent studies showing increased plaques in older athletes showed that, compared to non-athletes, the athletes had stable plaques that are far less likely to break off to cause heart attacks (Circulation, 2017;136(2):149-151). Heavy exercisers live longer, and suffer far fewer heart attacks, than people who do not exercise (JAMA Intern Med, 2015; 175: 959–967; Circulation, 2007;116(9):1094-1105), and lack of exercise shortens lives and is associated with many different diseases (Lancet, 2012; 380: 219–229).

Heart Attacks Are Caused by Plaques Breaking off from Coronary Arteries

A heart attack has little to do with the size of plaques blocking arteries. A heart artery that is 90 percent blocked does not cause a heart attack. A heart attack is caused by a sudden complete blockage of blood flow to the heart muscle. First a plaque breaks off from the inner lining of an artery leading to the heart, followed by bleeding and clotting. Then the clot extends to block all flow of blood through that artery, which deprives the heart muscle of oxygen and the heart muscle dies.

Why People Who Exercise Extensively May Have More Plaques

Competitive older endurance athletes may have more plaques in their arteries than non-exercisers, but they often have the type of plaques that are far less likely to break off to cause heart attacks (Circulation, April 27, 2017;136:138-148; May 2, 2017;136:126-137). A possible explanation would be that plaques form in arteries from an unhealthful diet or undesirable genes, or both. Exercise does not prevent plaques from forming, but it can stabilize plaques so that they are less likely to break off to cause heart attacks. Since exercise burns lots of extra calories, it can make you eat more food. The studies do not tell us what these older athletes eat, but if you choose to eat more unhealthful foods (red meat, processed meats, sugared foods and drinks, fried foods and so forth), you can expect to have more plaques in your arteries (Journal of the American College of Cardiology, July 2017;70(4)). A heart-attack-preventing diet should be high in vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds. You also should avoid being overweight, restrict alcohol and not smoke.

However, people who spend a lot of time exercising have far more stable plaques. More stable plaques can explain why endurance athletes have such a low rate of heart attacks, and why increasing endurance training increases protection from heart attacks. Having stable plaques, and larger arteries that widen more, helps to prevent heart attacks. Exercisers have:

• lower 10-year-history risk scores for likelihood to suffer heart attacks (Framingham study, Prev Med, 2005;41:622–8)

• greater plaque thickness

• more calcium and less fat in their plaques

• more stable plaques that are far less likely to break off to cause heart attacks. By comparison, more than 60 percent of the older men who do not exercise regularly have soft plaques with a much higher risk for breaking off to cause heart attacks (Circulation, April 27, 2017;136:138-148 and May 2, 2017;136:126-137).

Diagnosing Stable or Unstable Plaques

An X-ray test called “calcium score” is used to measure the size of plaques in the arteries leading to the heart. This test can also tell whether the plaques are stable or unstable (American Journal of Roentgenology, March 2015;204(3):W249-W260). Many radiologists fail to report whether the plaques are stable and safe, or unstable and more likely to break off to cause a heart attack. A stable plaque is called “hard,” has a thick calcium periphery to keep the plaque in place, and is not full of fat. An unstable plaque is “soft,” has irregular calcium borders that may not hold the plaque in place, and is full of fat. If your calcium score results do not contain this information, ask your doctor to request it from the radiologist.

My Recommendations

Preventing heart attacks requires both eating healthfully and exercising. Since exercise stabilizes plaques to help keep them from breaking off from arteries, exercise should be part of any heart-attack-prevention program.

Dedicated exercisers who need to eat large amounts of food to meet their caloric needs should choose healthful, anti-inflammatory foods to avoid forming more plaques in their arteries. Check with your doctor if you have evidence of heart disease caused by a faulty diet: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood sugar, high CRP (c-reactive protein, a measure of inflammation), an abnormal EKG, or chest pain, particularly with exercise.

FEB 6
Lactic Acid is Good For YouLactic acid is the most efficient fuel that your muscles can use, even more than sugar. When you exercise as hard as you can, it helps you to go harder. A paper from Aukland University in New Zealand reviews the latest research showing that lactic acid is good for you (Sports Medicine, Volume 36, 2006). Your muscles use carbohydrates, fats and proteins for energy. Enzymes in muscles break down carbohydrates in a series of reactions that release small amounts of energy at a time. More than 80 percent of the energy used to power muscles is lost as heat, so burning fuel instantly for energy would produce so much heat that it would burn your muscles.Enzymes require oxygen to turn food into energy. When you exercise so hard that you can’t get all the oxygen you need to break down food for energy, lactic acid accumulates in muscles and spills over into the bloodstream. This makes muscles acidic and it is the acidity that makes muscles burn and forces you to slow down. However, muscles require very little oxygen to turn lactic acid into energy. So when your muscles produce lots of lactic acid, they use this chemical for energy and require less oxygen. As soon as you slow down, you catch up on your oxygen debt and recover. So lactic acid is good for you. It helps you to exercise with less available oxygen.
FEB 6
What is Lactic Acid?When you exercise, sugar is broken down into different chemicals, to produce energy for muscles. As long as you get all the oxygen you need, the final products are carbon dioxide and water, but if you exercise so vigorously that you can’t get the oxygen that you need, the reactions stop, causing a chemical called lactic acid to accumulate in your muscles and spill into you bloodstream.Lactic acid buildup in muscles does not make muscles tired and may even make muscle contract more efficiently, which may increase your endurance. This concept contradicts what most instructors teach in their exercise classes.The old theory was that lactic acid makes the muscles more acidic which causes them to hurt and burn and interferes with their ability to contract, so you feel tired. Now researchers have shown that muscles contact more efficiently when lactic acid accumulates in them. Electric currents cause muscles to contract. This electricity is generated by cell membranes causing potassium to move inside cells and chloride ions to stay outside. With vigorous exercise, potassium ions accumulate outside cells. As large amounts of potassium ions accumulate outside cells, electricity is not generated and the cells cannot contract. Another ion called chloride accumulates outside cells and prevents potassium from getting back inside cells. Lactic acid removes the chloride, so it is easier for potassium to get back inside cells. Therefore lactic acid increases the ratio of potassium inside cells to the amount outside, and this helps the muscle contract with more efficiency.While this concept of how muscles use lactic acid for energy is reasonable, it is not likely to change the way athletes train or the way exercisers become more fit. Healthy people are supposed to exercise vigorously and feel a burn in their muscles during exercise, which signifies buildup of lactic acid in muscles. They feel sore on the next day, go easy for as many days as it takes for muscles to feel fresh again, and then exercise intensely again.When lactic acid causes your muscles to hurt, you breathe harder and faster, and slow down to catch up with your oxygen debt. This converts lactic acid into carbon dioxide and water that are blown off as you breathe. Blood levels of lactic acid lower and your muscles stop hurting. A pace that you can hold breathing fast and deeply, but not gasping for breath, is called the lactic acid threshhold and is the training level for most competitive athletes.
FEB 1
Nuts Associated with Reduced Risk for Diabetes and Weight Gain
Nuts are full of fat, but it appears that eating nuts does not increase risk for obesity or diabetes. Almost 1000 people who did not have diabetes or metabolic syndrome were followed for six years. Those who ate nuts at least twice a week were 32 percent less likely to develop metabolic syndrome than those who rarely consumed nuts (Public Health Nutr, 2013 Nov;16(11):2064-2072).Metabolic syndrome means you are headed for diabetes:* First you start to store extra fat in your liver. This prevents your liver from responding to insulin.* Then your fasting blood insulin levels rise.* Next your fasting blood sugar rises.* Then high blood sugar causes sugar to stick to the outer surface of cell membranes.* This means that you now have diabetes which damages every cell in your body and increases risk for premature death.Nuts Not Associated with Weight GainA six-year follow up of 11,895 Spanish participants showed that those who ate four servings per week of nuts regularly gain less weight than those who eat no nuts (Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis, 2011 Jun;21(Suppl 1):S40-5). The authors of this study reviewed the scientific literature and found that eating nuts does not cause people to gain weight.

A study from Harvard showed that after eight years of follow-up of 51,188 healthy women, ages 20-45, those who ate nuts two or more times a week gained less weight than those who rarely ate nuts. The results were the same whether a woman was of normal weight, overweight or obes

JAN 29

Just too Busy For Healthful Eating?

Everyone is busy! Here are a few easy ways to add more healthy foods to your hectic days..If you eat out a lot, see the previous page on healthful restaurant meals,  Choose restaurants that gives you a fighting chance. Find a restaurant with a good salad bar and load up on fresh vegetables. Order broiled fish for your entree. Ask to have it prepared with lemon juice instead of butter. Have steamed vegetables as an accompaniment, without added butter, and fresh fruit or fruit ice for dessert.  Here are more suggestions for extra-easy food preparation at home or on the road:
  1. Find a whole grain cereal that tastes good dry, and use it for snacking or breakfast on the run.
  2. Make your own fast food. Once a week, cook up a huge pot of chili, soup, or one of my vegetable or seafood casseroles. Freeze the leftovers in individual serving containers for quick suppers or lunches.
  3. Cook a pound of whole grains at a time, and freeze the leftovers in 1/2 to 1-cup portions in baggies. These can be reheated in the microwave in seconds. Chapter 6.
  4. Stock up on the dried soup cups that have beans or lentils as their main ingredient. Find flavors you like and use them for lunch at the office or on the run — anywhere you can get hot water. Mix with one of those baggies of whole grains for a hearty main dish.
  5. Find a few veggies that you like raw and unadorned to eat as you would eat fruit. Try red bell peppers, green beans and cauliflower.
  6. Romaine hearts, packed in plastic bags, can be used as-is for quick salad preparation. Just tear or slice into bite-size pieces. Good even without dressing.
  7. Most Asian restaurants offer carry-out service. This is a good standby for lazy days. Comb the menu for soups, vegetable and seafood dishes and ask them to go easy on the oil. Serve them with those whole grains from their baggies in your freezer! Vietnamese or Thai restaurants often have wonderful, oil-free salads that keep for 2-3 days.
  8. Large grocery stores and specialty food stores often have salad bars and prepared food sections. You need to be careful about your choices, but if you are strong-willed (and not too hungry when you shop), you can usually find plenty of vegetables, fruits, and possibly some seafood entrees among their offerings.
  9. Take advantage of pre-cut vegetables and fruits in your supermarket’s produce department, and bags of mixed vegetables in the frozen food section. The time you save can make up for the added cost.
JAN 25
Carbohydrate Loading Does Not Work
 
“Carbohydrate loading” the night before a big race can impair your performance and damage your health. More than 45 years ago, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (March 26, 1973;223(13):1511-1512), I reported the case of a marathon runner who had a heart attack after carbohydrate loading.
The “carbohydrate loading” regimen was supposed to increase the amount of sugar stored in your muscles before a race or endurance competition (Acta Physiol Scand, 1967;71:140-150).  First proposed in 1939, the process took several days: a four-day depletion phase and a three-day loading phase.
• Seven days before a competition: Exercise for several hours to deplete your muscles of their stored sugar supply (glycogen).
• Six to four days before competition: Keep your muscles empty of sugar by severely restricting all carbohydrates (sugar, fruits, flour, bakery products, pasta and so forth)
• Three to one days before competition: Eat your regular meals with lots of extra carbohydrates including bakery products and pastas.
• The night before competition: Eat a huge high-carbohydrate meal of pasta and bakery products.
Why Carbohydrate Loading Doesn’t Work
We now know that the theory behind carbohydrate loading was wrong because even if you are skinny, you have a tremendous amount of fat in your body but only a very limited amount of sugar stored in your liver and muscles. You have only enough stored sugar to last for 12 hours at rest and 50 minutes of intense exercise.  When you eat a lot of carbohydrates, a small amount of sugar (glycogen) is stored in your liver and muscles, and after your muscles and liver are filled, all of the rest of the sugar you take in is quickly converted into a type of fat called triglycerides.  When you load up on refined carbohydrates such as bakery products and pastas before a competition, you just become fatter. All the extra fat that forms will cause you to carry extra weight and slow you down during your race. If you already store too much fat, this overloading can load your liver with fat to make you diabetic or even suffer a heart attack. If you already have blocked arteries leading to your heart, you increase heart attack risk by eating a large amount of carbohydrates that cause high rises in blood sugar (Arch Intern Med, Apr 12, 2010;170(7):640-7). This is called glycemic load, which is the product of the amount of carbohydrate times how high it raises your blood sugar. For example, an apple and spaghetti may cause the same rise in blood sugar called glycemic index. However, the apple may contain only 15 grams of carbohydrate, while the spaghetti contains 52 grams. The glycemic load of an apple is (40×15)/100=6, while the glycemic load of spaghetti is (40×52)/100=20.8, so the higher glycemic load of spaghetti would be far more harmful than the apple. More at Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load.
A review of 88 studies showed that eating carbohydrates during competitions lasting longer than 70 minutes will prolong your endurance far more than anything you eat before a competition. The longer the event, the greater the benefit of eating during competitions (Sports Medicine (Auckland, NZ), September 2011;41(9):773-92).
How Muscles Use Carbohydrates for Energy
Carbohydrates are single sugars, double sugars, chains of sugars called starch, and millions of sugars bound together called fiber. You cannot absorb any carbohydrates until they are broken down into single sugars. Your muscles use primarily sugar and fat for energy, but sugar is the primary energy source for speed and endurance. The limiting factor to how fast you can move is the time it takes to bring oxygen into muscles. During intense exercise, if oxygen is not transported to muscle cells fast enough, you have to slow down because you run low on an energy source called ATP. However, fat cannot generate ATP as fast as sugar can, so the harder you exercise, the greater the percentage of sugar that your muscles need as their source of energy.  When you run low on sugar to power your muscles, you run low on ATP and you have to slow down (Clin Physiol, 1981:1:27-42). Therefore, taking sugar during prolonged exercise raises levels of ATP and helps you to exercise more intensely (Am J of Physiol Regul, Integr and Compar Physiol, July 2007).
How Endurance Athletes Can Maximize Sugar in Muscles
Research in the 1980s led to replacement of the old seven-day carbohydrate-loading regimen with a new three-day training program that eliminated both depletion and loading phases. All recent research on the subject shows that conditioned athletes can store the maximum amount of sugar in their muscles just by continuing to eat their regular diet and cutting back on the amount of training they do for three days before a competition.
The day before the race: Do a very short, extremely high-intensity workout (such as a few minutes of sprinting) and then eat some extra food during the next 24 hours. Avoid sugared drinks and sugar-added foods as these can cause high blood sugar levels that can make you feel sick.
The pre-race meal: You can eat anything you want as long as it:
• can pass from your stomach before you start the race, and
• is not full of sugar.
Most athletes take their pre-race meal three to four hours before they compete. The meal should contain some protein in addition to carbohydrates, but avoid sugar-added drinks or foods. A pre-race meal could include eggs, oatmeal or other whole-grain cereals, bagels and so forth.
Eating and drinking just before your race: The best time to take sugar to help you prolong your intense exercise is 30 minutes or less before you start. You can even eat chocolate because it contains both sugar and caffeine. Taking a sugar load more than 30 minutes before competition can cause a high rise in blood sugar which will cause your pancreas to release large amounts of insulin. Then you start your race with high insulin levels that, combined with your muscles suddenly pulling large amounts of sugar from your bloodstream, can cause low blood sugar levels that can make you feel exhausted even though you have just started your race. Researchers in Scotland showed that taking a sugared drink 30 minutes before exercise allowed the subjects to exercise at 90 percent of their maximum capacity for 12 percent longer than when they took the same sugared drink two hours before exercise (International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, November 2013). The researchers showed that taking sugar two hours before exercise does not help you to sustain intense exercise any longer than taking nothing at all.
Eating and drinking during competition: Athletes start to run out of the sugar stored in their muscles after 50 minutes of intense competition, so you need to take sugar during endurance sport competitions that last longer than 50 minutes (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, July 2010). However, you can exercise at a relaxed pace for more than three hours without needing sugar. Caffeine can increase the rate that sugar enters muscles by more than 26 percent (Journal of Applied Physiology, June 2006), so most athletes take their sugared drinks and foods with some source of caffeine. Ordinary beverages containing both sugar and caffeine are fine; there is no need for special sports energy drinks or gels. See Caffeine Improves Endurance. Caution:very rarely, caffeine can cause some susceptible people to develop irregular heartbeats.
For endurance events lasting more than three hours:  During endurance events lasting longer than three hours, you need carbohydrates, protein, fluid and salt, in addition to rich sources of sugar (sugared drinks, fruit, chocolate bars). You can eat heavily-salted potato chips, French fries, any sandwiches of your choice or anything else that you normally eat, as long as it does not make your stomach feel uncomfortable.
NO Sugared Drinks When You Are Not Exercising Intensely
You should take sugared drinks only during vigorous exercise and for up to an hour after you finish. Contracting muscles remove sugar from the bloodstream rapidly without needing much insulin. Taking sugared drinks when you are not exercising causes high rises in blood sugar that increase risk for diabetes and cell damage. More on Sugared Drinks
Eat Carbohydrates and Protein to Recover Faster
You will recover faster by eating a high-carbohydrate, high-protein meal within an hour after finishing a race or a grueling workout (Journal of Applied Physiology, May 2009).  Taking the same high-protein-and-carbohydrate meal before a race or intense workout does not hasten recovery. Carbohydrates in the post-race meal cause a rise in blood sugar that causes the pancreas to release insulin, which helps to drive the protein building blocks (amino acids) from the meal into muscle cells to hasten healing. Muscles are extraordinarily sensitive to insulin during exercise and for up to an hour after finishing exercise, so the fastest way to recover from intense workouts and races is to eat within an hour after you finish. You can use either plant or animal sources of protein; both contain all of the essential amino acids necessary for cell growth and muscle repair. Foods for Recovery
Minerals
The only mineral that you need during long endurance events is sodium. The food you eat will supply all of the potassium, calcium and magnesium you need. To get plenty of sodium, you should eat salty foods during and after you finish long rides and races, particularly on hot days when you sweat a lot. More on Salt
No Advantage to Restricting Sugar During Training
The question has been asked whether restricting carbohydrates, particularly sugar, during training could enhance performance by teaching the muscles to get along with less sugar. A study from Copenhagen showed that taking sugar while you exercise increases the amount of training you can do, and does not lessen the benefits of your increased training (Journal of Applied Physiology, June 2009). The researchers showed that enzymes used to convert sugar and fat to energy function just as well when sugar is taken continuously during exercise. In this study, men trained one leg while ingesting a six percent sugar drink and the other leg while taking an artificially sweetened (sugarless) drink, two hours a day, on alternate days, five days a week. The legs trained with sugar had 14 percent more power and a 30 percent greater time to exhaustion. The muscles trained on sugar had no loss in the amount of stored sugar or the ability to convert food to energy.
 

JAN 19 

Carbohydrate Intolerance and the Two-Week Test

Many people suffer from a condition known as carbohydrate intolerance, or (CI). This is perhaps the most well-hidden epidemic of our time and is being made worse by the prevalence of sugar and other high-carbohydrate foods common to our diets.

Carbohydrate Intolerance — and the full spectrum of ailments that accompany it — begins as a hidden problem. CI then progresses to a functional disorder producing symptoms, such as fatigue, that negatively affect quality of life. Gradually, this process generates serious illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.

While best viewed as a single, escalating progression of the same problem, carbohydrate intolerance has series of distinct stages:

Early stages

The symptoms can be elusive, often associated with difficult-to-diagnose blood-sugar problems, fatigue, intestinal bloating and loss of concentration.

Middle stages

The worsening condition is known in the medical community as carbohydrate-lipid metabolism disturbance or hyperinsulinism. It causes more serious conditions such as hypertension, it elevates triglyceride levels and LDL “bad” cholesterol while lowering HDL “good” cholesterol, and increasing body fat.

Final Stages

CI manifests as an array of more serious problems, including obesity, and various diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. These end-stage conditions are part of a set of diseases that are now well-recognized by modern medicine. They are referred to as Syndrome X, or Metabolic Syndrome.

Taking the Carbohydrate Intolerance survey is the first step in reclaiming your optimal health. The next step is taking the Two-Week Test, which will help determine just how sensitive your body is to carbohydrates.

The Two-Week Test

This evaluation will tell you if you are carbohydrate-intolerant, and if so, how to remedy it. It must be emphasized that this is only a test and not a permanent diet — it will only last two weeks and should not be pursued beyond this 14-day period. You should never experience hunger during the test — you can eat as much of the non-carbohydrate foods as you want, and as often as you need.

Of all the clinical tools I developed and used for assessment and therapy through my career, the consistency of results from the Two-Week Test surprised me the most. It’s amazing how a person can go from one extreme of poor health to vibrant health in such a short time. It’s simply a matter of removing a major stress factor — refined carbohydrates and excess insulin — and allowing the body to function the way it was originally meant.

The Two-Week Test was unique because it required individuals to take an active role the process of self-evaluation. He or she would actually feel what it was like to have normal insulin levels, optimal blood sugar and, in many cases, be finally free of signs and symptoms associated with CI — all within a short time frame. This proved to be a far superior method of educating the patient.

Some people didn’t feel improvement because they were not carbohydrate-intolerant. But patients who were overweight, had blood-sugar problems, and simply could not escape the damage of eating refined carbohydrates now knew what it would take to quickly change their health.

It is not the purpose of the Two-Week Test to restrict calories or fat. It merely restricts many carbohydrate foods. For a period of two weeks, just eat as much as you want from what you’re allowed, and avoid what’s restricted.

Let’s summarize the basics of the Two-Week Test:

  • Write down a list of all your signs and symptoms.
  • Weigh yourself before starting.
  • Always eat breakfast.
  • Plan your meals and snacks — buy sufficient foods allowed on the test, and get rid of those not allowed so you’re not tempted.
  • Eat as much and as often as necessary to never get hungry.
  • After the test, re-evaluate your signs and symptoms, including weight.
  • Begin adding natural, unprocessed carbohydrates to every other meal or snack, and evaluate whether this causes any of your previous signs and symptoms to return.

The following sections discuss each of these steps in more detail, in order to help you through the testing process.

Before The Test

  • Record health problems. Includes any symptoms or ailments that you might have, such as insomnia or fatigue. This may take a few days since you might not recall them all at once. You will review these complaints after the test to see which ones have and haven’t improved.
  • Weigh yourself. This provides another important sign of how your body is working, especially after the test. This is the only instance I recommend using the scale for body weight—it’s not a measure of body fat, but it is a good pre/post evaluation. You may lose some excess water (which will show on the scale), but your fat-burning will increase and you’ll start losing body fat (which won’t show on the scale). I’ve seen some people lose anywhere between a few and 20 pounds during the test.
  • Stock up on the right foods. Before you start, make sure you have enough of the foods you’ll be eating. (Suggestions listed below.) In addition, go through your cabinets and refrigerator and get rid of any sweets, foods containing them, and all breads and products made from refined flour. Otherwise, you’ll be tempted to eat them if you get cravings during the test.
  • Plan Correctly. Schedule the test during a two-week period in which you are relatively unlikely to have distractions. (It’s a bad idea to do the test during holidays, for example.) Don’t worry about cholesterol, fat or calories, or the amount of food you’re eating. This is only a test, not the way you’ll be eating forever.
  • Most importantly, eat breakfast within an hour of waking.

Following the test for less than two weeks probably will not give you a valid result. So, if after five days, for example, you eat a bowl of pasta or a box of cookies, you will need to start the test over.

During The Test: The Menu

What makes the Two-Week Test foods acceptable aren’t the foods themselves, but rather their properties. It’s all about eating unprocessed “real” foods that are low in carbohydrates. You can assume any foods that are similar to what you find on this list can be eaten. If you see any foods on this list or the following that are disallowed (e.g. potatoes), you can assume that similar foods (sweet, russet, and gold potatoes and yams) also cannot be eaten.

YES Foods

You MAY eat as much of the following foods as you like during the Two-Week Test.

Plant Foods

  • Raw and cooked vegetables: Tomato, onion, garlic, greens such as spinach, kale, chard, and all lettuces, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts (for those with thyroid dysfunction, cabbage-family veggies are best eaten thoroughly cooked), carrots, zucchini, etc.
  • Tree nuts (and nut butters): Macadamia, almond, walnut, for example. (Does NOT include peanuts or cashews).
  • Coconut:  cream, oil, milk and flour.

Animal Foods

  • Beef: Look for organic, grass-fed varieties.
  • Turkey: organic.
  • Lamb: Look for organic, grass-fed varieties.
  • Fish: Wild-caught cold water fish (tuna, salmon, etc) are best.
  • Eggs.
  • Shellfish.

Dairy

  • Unprocessed Hard Cheeses: Cheddar, asiago, parmesan, etc.
  • Unprocessed Soft Cheeses: Feta, brie, camembert, mozzarella, etc.
  • Cream: Heavy cream, sour cream, full-fat crème fraiche.

Fats

  • Oils: Avocado, coconut, and olive oil.

Drinks

  • Vegetable Juice.
  • Coffee or tea: If you usually drink it.
  • Vinegar: balsamic, apple-cider, etc.
  • Pure, distilled spirits: Small amounts of gin, vodka, whiskey.
  • Dry red wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cab Franc, Shiraz/Syrah, Chianti.
  • Dry white wines: Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc.

NO Foods

You may NOT eat any of the following foods during the Two-Week Test.

PLANTS

  • All sugar products: Includes basically anything with honey, sugar, agave, fructose, crystals (e.g. beet crystals), cane, extract, or syrup in its ingredient list.
  • Sweets and desserts: Cake, cookies, ice cream, muffins, candy, gum, breath mints.
  • All non-caloric sweeteners (natural and non-natural): Includes stevia, xylitol, erythritol, aspartame, splenda, etc.
  • Many canned and prepared veggies: Read the labels to make sure they don’t contain hidden sugars!
  • Bread: Sliced bread or rolls of any kind (whole-grain, multi-grain, flaxseed, rye, gluten-free, etc).
  • Pasta: All types.
  • Crackers: Includes chips, rice cakes, and similar foods.
  • Packaged energy bars: And all packaged foods promoted as fuel for athletes.
  • Ketchup and other sauces: They often contain hidden sugars.
  • Corn: Bread, tortillas, etc.
  • Rice: Wild rice, brown rice, white rice, basmati rice, etc.
  • All wheat and wheat products: Whole wheat, farro, bulgur, khorasan, millet, etc.
  • Quinoa: Includes quinoa seeds and all products (e.g. quinoa pasta).
  •  Potatoes: Any kind (russet, red, blue, etc.)
  • Fruits and berries: Bananas, apples, pears, oranges, grapefruits grapes, blueberries, strawberries, cranberries grapefruit, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew.
  • Legumes: Beans, lentils, fava beans, peas, chickpeas, peanuts, etc.

MEAT

  • Processed meats: Sausage, pastrami, salami, pepperoni, etc.
  • Smoked products: Jerky (beef, buffalo, etc), smoked fish.
  • Many canned and prepared meats: Read the labels to make sure they don’t contain hidden sugars!

DAIRY

  • Milk: Especially low-fat and non-fat milk.
  • Half-and-half.
  • Yogurt and kefir: All types, including full-fat yogurt.
  • Processed cheeses: Stay away from pre-sliced, single-serving, pre-shredded, high-value corporate branding, etc.

FATS

  • Avoid corn, safflower, or canola and other vegetable oils during the test and after.

DRINKS

  • Fruit Juice: Any type — orange, berry, watermelon, etc.
  • All soda: diet and non-diet soda.
  • All diet drinks: Diet shakes, etc.
  • “Enhanced” Beverages: Vitamin water, mineral water with “health” additives.
  • Sports drinks.
  • Sweet wines: liqueur, Champagne, rum, etc.

If it comes in a box, bag, jar or can, there’s a good chance it’s a no food for the Two-Week Test. Be sure to read the ingredients for all packaged foods, as some form of sugar or carbohydrate is typically added. Better yet, simply avoid all packaged and processed foods for two weeks!

Click here for some meal ideas to use during the Two-Week Test.

Now that you know which foods to eat, you can start the Two-Week Test!

Once you are done with the Two-Week Test, click the button below to read about the Post-Test. The Post-Test will help you re-incorporate carbohydrate foods that are healthy for you without experiencing a return of the signs and symptoms of carbohydrate intolerance.

JAN 16 

The incredible, edible egg

Nature’s perfect food is not just for breakfast anymore. Seven reasons to eat more eggs.

If you haven’t heard, the health-scare on eggs is finally over. But it remains etched in the minds of millions of people who still instinctively reach for junk food for breakfast — like most cereals, prepared items and fast food.

Here’s a short update on eggs. My recommendations have always been the same: Eat eggs every day, as they are nearly the perfect food for humans. Of course, I’m referring to whole eggs — both the white and yolk.

To help overcome the decades-old fear of eating eggs, here are some time-saving, nutritious, delicious and other egg features, so you can reap the many nutritional benefits:

  • Eggs are delicious. Search for the best-tasting ones, which also have brightly colored yolks. In a pinch, even the not-so-great egg is delicious.
  • Eggs are nutritious. The protein and fat, especially in organic eggs from chickens fed healthy feeds, or hens you raise the same way, are unquestionably superior.
  • There are dozens or more ways to make egg dishes. Many involve cooking them in unsalted butter (then adding salt). Not only are egg dishes delicious and nutritious, but a colorful meal is pleasing too — topped with tomato, avocado slices, a dollop of sour cream, parsley and other favorite foods. Here are a few recipes:

Scrambled eggs and tomatoes

Broccoli and eggs

Curried eggs

Bacon, eggs, and vegetables

  • Eggs are great anytime: for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. They’re good hot out of the pan or cold as leftovers (like hard-boiled). Just add salt.
  • Replace unhealthy meals with egg dishes. Push aside the cereal, pancakes and waffles, and other junk food. Eat eggs instead, every day if you want.
  • Making eggs is fast — no reason to skip breakfast anymore. That most important meal of the day is often passed over, or it’s too easy to grab junk food instead. In the time it takes to stop on the way to work to buy a bagel or other junk, you could make a simple meal of eggs at home.
  • Eggs are small. One could fit in your pocket, in your mouth, on a fork. But for me, a four-egg vegetable omelet is a great breakfast.

The point is multiple egg dishes make for an exciting filling meal, especially if you top it with a tasty sauce (you may even have some in the fridge) or salsa, with added cheese, bacon or both, and, of course, spices. In addition to salt, turmeric, herbs, and sautéed onions and/or garlic.

My healthy Phil’s Coffee can be a meal too, with all the attributes of the above. Made with a whole egg, it is delicious, nutritious, can be made various ways, is fast, and, a whole egg can help the body burn off more body fat.

Eggs are nature’s perfect food and can help us get healthier in many ways. Overcome your fear and add more to your menu today!

JAN 1 

The 4-Week Total Body Workout Will Help You Start 2019 Right

Do the 3-minute warmup, then do 3 rounds of the workout circuit. Do this workout 3 times a week for the next 4 weeks.

The Warmup

Do each drill for 60 seconds. Don’t count reps; focus on form and take your time.

1. T-Spine Rotation to Downward Dog

Start in pushup position. Keeping your left leg straight, place your right foot just outside your right hand. Hold. Lift your right arm and reach for the ceiling. Hold, then return to pushup position. Shift your feet forward slightly, then raise your hips high. Try to form a straight line from your hands through your hips while also trying to keep your legs straight. Hold, then return to the start. That’s 1 rep.

2. Toe-Touch Squat

Start standing, feet about shoulder-width apart, arms held in front of you. Keeping your back flat, bend your knees slightly and hinge forward at your hips until your hands touch your toes. When they do, bend at the knees so you finish in a low squat position. Reach your arms overhead. Stand back up. That’s 1 rep.

3. Sprint Buildup

Start standing. For 15 seconds, march slowly in place, lifting each knee as high as you can on each step. Then jog in place for 15 seconds. Finish by speeding up to an all-out sprint for 30 seconds, moving as quickly as you can. Aim to lift each foot up as fast as possible once it touches the floor.

Eb says: “During the march, lift each knee so it’s at least as high as your hip. Pause, balancing on your grounded foot. It’s an underrated challenge.”

Strength

Do the exercises in order. Rest for 60 seconds between rounds. Each week, on all moves except the hollow body hold, reduce the reps you do for each exercise by 1 and slightly increase the weight.

1. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

Stand holding medium-weight dumbbells at your sides, feet hip-width apart, core braced, knees slightly bent. This is the start. Hinge at your hips and push your butt backward, lowering your torso. Hinge until you feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings. Pause, then stand up, squeezing your glutes. That’s 1 rep; do 12.

2. Alternating Dumbbell Row

Stand holding medium-weight dumbbells. Hinge at your hips until your torso is almost parallel to the floor. This is the start. Squeeze your shoulder blades and row the right dumbbell to your chest. Lower it and repeat with the left dumbbell. That’s 1 rep; do 12.

Eb says: “This is great core work, too. Contract your abs hard one very rep and fight the urge to rotate your torso as you row the weight upward.”

3. Side-Plank Press

Start in a left-side plank, your left elbow on the floor and your torso and hips tight, a light dumbbell in front of you. Grasp the dumbbell with your right hand. Continue pressing your hips upward as you lift the dumbbell off the floor and pull it close to your right pec. Press it toward the ceiling, then return it to the floor. That’s 1 rep; do 12 per side.

4. Glute Bridge Floor Press

Lie on the floor holding medium-weight dumbbells, upper arms on the floor, elbows bent 90 degrees. Tighten your glutes and push your hips upward. Press the dumbbells upward. Pause, then lower them back to the start. That’s 1 rep; do 12.

5. Bulgarian Split Squat

Place your right foot on a bench or box that’s about knee height, bending your knee slightly, and step your left foot about 18 inches away. Your left leg should be almost straight. Hold medium-weight dumbbell sat your shoulders. Bend your left knee, sitting back; your right knee will bend more as you do this and nearly touch the floor. Hold when your left thigh is parallel to the floor, then stand back up. That’s 1 rep; do 12 per side.

Eb says: “This move shouldn’t just build muscle; try to feel a strong stretch in your back leg’s hamstring and hip flexor.”

6. Hollow Body Hold

Start lying on your back, arms and legs extended. Tighten your abs, pressing your lower back into the floor as you do so. This should lift your legs off the floor; work to keep them straight. Lift your shoulder blades off the floor as well; keep extending your arms back as you do this. Hold for 30 seconds. That’s 1 rep; do 3 to 5.

johnnysfitohana reports and opinions are for information only, and are not intended to diagnose or prescribe. For your specific diagnosis and treatment, consult your doctor or health care provider

DEC 31

Are you ready to get to a healthier place for 2019? 

Time for a change and want something better than the average gym? 

Take advantage of  https://johnnysfitohana.com training for 1 on 1’s or groups, 

CAN YOU GET LEAN AND RIPPED WITH JUST KETTLEBELLS?

With all this talk about Kettlebell training for fat loss, the question is: Can you REALLY get lean and ripped with just a Kettlebell? Do they really provide you with the intense workout and training stimulus necessary to see actual results?

Lets find out:

In order to get lean and ripped, it’s all about burning fat and expending calories.

This is how many calories a one-hour Kettlebell workout will burn: 1200

You read right. 1200. I’m not just making that number up. It’s a fact, according to ACE (The American Council on Exercise).

ACE is one of the oldest fitness and research certifying bodies in the U.S. The lead researcher, Dr. John Porcari stated, “So they were burning at least 20.2 calories per minute, which is off the charts. That’s equivalent to running a 6-minute mile pace. The only other thing that I could find that burns that many calories is cross country skiing up hill at a fast pace.”

So, a 10 minute Kettlebell session would help burn 202 calories. A 30 minutes Kettlebell session would you burn 606 calories. A 60 minutes Kettlebell session would help you burn 1212 calories!

Now, I’m personally more concerned about how many calories you burn AFTER a routine. My belief has always been that the more intense your workouts, the more you boost your metabolic rate, and the more you burn after your workout.

I think it’s very safe to assume that combining an hour long Kettlebell workout with the calories you burn once your metabolic rate is super charged, you can most likely burn off a good 2000 calories per day (if not more).

That’s close to what a high school athlete burns off in a day! With this information, you can’t afford not to include Kettlebell training in your fat loss program!

 Building the Ideal Body with Kettlebells

This Kettlebells guide will show you how to achieve your ideal body with Kettlebells with safe and proper technique if you’re a beginner. You will also discover strategies for experienced Kettlebell lifters to bust through any plateau, get ripped, boost your strength, eliminate lower back pain, and much more.

Kettlebells are the most versatile training implement next to Dumbbells because they allow you to target your core with every movement you perform. Kettlebells teach you how to use your entire body as one unit. You will improve your posture, and all your other lifts – including deadlifts, squats, and rows – will improve dramatically.

Can You Get Lean and Ripped with Kettlebells?

Before we even get into the meat and potatoes of this guide, you need to know whether or not Kettlebells actually work. We have already written about this topic here:

Kettlebell Workouts:

Starting to get a better understanding of kettlebells, and are ready to start using them? What you need a complete training program that will help you get into tip top shape with Kettlebells.

We recommend https://johnnysfitohana.com

DEC 28

Warnings from Impotence

Extensive data from animal and human studies show that male impotence is associated with just about every risk factor that damages blood vessels or causes high blood sugar levels  (Metabolism, April 14, 2018).  Men who have difficulty achieving and maintaining an erection are at significantly increased risk for suffering heart attacks because both conditions are associated with exactly the same risk factors (International Journal of Impotence Research, 2016;28:14–19; J Amer Coll Cardiology, 2004;43:1405–11).  Most impotent men have no idea they are at high risk for a heart attack and cannot even name any of the six factors that put them at high risk for both impotence and heart attacks (Int J Clin Pract, 2010;64:848–857):
• smoking
• overweight
• diabetes
• high cholesterol
• high blood pressure
• lack of exercise
Of men who show up in a doctor’s office for the treatment for impotence, more than 25 percent have already been diagnosed with heart disease, 23 percent are diabetic, 34 percent are on drugs to treat high blood pressure, and almost 20 percent are on statins to lower high cholesterol (International Journal of Impotence Research, 2008;20:S15–S20). The same lifestyle changes that help to prevent a heart attack also help to prevent and treat impotence (J Sex Med, Jan 2009;6(1):243-50).
How Arterial Plaques Cause Both Impotence and Heart Attacks
The arteries that carry blood to the penis are normally closed and allow only a slight trickle of blood to flow. When a man becomes excited, the muscles that surround the penile arteries relax to allow more than six times as much blood to fill through the penis. The pressure from this increased amount of blood closes off the veins that carry blood from the penis, so that more blood comes into the penis and less blood comes out, which causes the erection.  Arteriosclerosis means that plaques are laid down on the inner linings of arteries to obstruct the flow of blood. Anything that obstructs the flow of blood into the penis can make a man impotent (Int J of Impot Res, 2007;19:446–47).  The same plaque formation that can obstruct the arteries leading to the heart can obstruct the flow of blood to the penis.
You Need A Medical Evaluation before Taking Viagra or Testosterone
If you suffer from impotence, get a medical evaluation to find the cause. Impotent men suffer a very high rate of heart disease, even if they have not had that diagnosis (J Am Coll Cardiol, 2005; 46: 1503–1506). The rate of impotence in diabetic men is very high primarily because of the disease’s very high rate of arteriosclerosis (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2013;9(8):2093–2103).  Men who take nitroglycerin or other nitrates for chest pain (angina) should not take drugs for impotence such as sildenafil, tadalafil, or vardenafil because the combination can drop blood pressure to very low levels.  Men taking drugs for high blood pressure, such as alpha blockers doxazosin (Cardura), terazosin (Hytrin), or tamsulosin (Flomax)} also should be wary of taking drugs to treat impotence.  Taking Viagra may help you achieve an erection, but it has not been shown to prevent heart attacks.
The Difference between Low Testosterone and Blocked Arteries
Both having low testosterone and/or blocked arteries can cause impotence.  However, when low testosterone causes impotence, it almost always also causes lack of desire, so if you are a man who has a strong sexual desire and inability to perform, you are at high risk for a future heart attack.  Furthermore, a man requires a certain amount of testosterone to have desire and erections, but once a man has enough testosterone, more does not make him more sexual or give him the ability to achieve stiffer erections (Fertil Steril, 1993;59:1118–1123). Since arteriosclerosis damages the testicles to cause low testosterone, just taking testosterone pills or injections rarely cures impotence. Men with low testosterone levels are at increased risk for suffering from arthritis, cardiovascular disease, clinical depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, pulmonary disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes (Scientific Reports, April 12, 2018).
My Recommendations
Every man who is impotent needs a medical evaluation that includes:
• tests for diabetes and arteriosclerosis with their normal values: (Fasting blood sugar <100, One-hour-after-eating blood sugar <140), HBA1c < 5.7, Triglycerides <150, HDL >40, LDL <100, small size cholesterol particle size and Lp(a) < 100, systolic blood pressure at bed-time <120.)
• hormone tests including testosterone and free testosterone
• a check for use of medications that can cause impotence
• a check for sleep disorders
• tests for other conditions that cause impotence
Regardless of the diagnosis, every impotent man should avoid smoke, alcohol and substance abuse, avoid being overweight, exercise regularly and follow a heart-healthful diet.

DEC 28

DEC 15

Vigorous Exercise Won’t Hurt a Healthy Heart

Some recent research articles seem to warn people not to exercise too long or too hard, but the overwhelming scientific and epidemiological evidence is that vigorous exercise strengthens a healthy heart and helps to prevent heart disease. Elite endurance athletes who exercise long hours each day outlive their less-active peers (Med Sci Sports Exerc, Feb 1993;25(2):237-44), as do Tour de France cyclists (Eur Heart J, Oct 2013;34(40):3145-50). A review of fourteen articles showed that endurance athletes live longer than the general population and suffer far less from heart disease (J of Sci and Med in Sport, July 2010;13(4):410–416). However, three studies raise the possibility that extreme exercise such as running a marathon could possibly increase risk for heart problems, particularly in people who are not adequately trained for their events.

Elevated blood enzymes: In one study, 69 runners tested after finishing a marathon had markedly elevated levels of troponin, an enzyme in the bloodstream that rises after a person has a heart attack. None of the runners actually had a heart attack (Circulation, December 3, 2018).

Increased plaques in arteries: Master athletes who compete in endurance sports have more plaques in their arteries than men of the same age who do not exercise (Circulation, 2017;136:138-148). It is true that most heart attacks begin with plaques in arteries leading to the heart breaking off to block the flow of blood to the heart muscle, but any form of exercise stabilizes plaques so they are far less likely to break off and lead to a heart attack (Med Sci Sports Exerc, Nov 2015;47(11):2251-6). Exercise also helps to prevent clotting, which is why regular exercisers have a much lower risk for heart attacks than those who do not exercise.

Increased risk for irregular heartbeats: Older athletes in endurance sports are at increased risk for developing atrial fibrillation, in which the upper part of the heart starts to beat irregularly (J Atr Fibrillation, Dec 2015;8(4):1309; EP Europace, May 1, 2008;10(5):618–623). This can cause clots to form in the upper part of the heart and the clots can cause heart attacks and strokes.

Elevated Troponin to Diagnose Heart Muscle Damage

When any muscle is exercised vigorously, it releases enzymes from within its cells into the bloodstream. For example, all skeletal muscles can release SGOT and SGPT into the bloodstream. In the same way, vigorous exercise can cause heart muscle cells to release troponin enzymes into the bloodstream. The authors of a recent study emphasize that it takes far more intensity of exercise to raise blood levels of troponin significantly, so that mild exercise does not cause high blood levels of troponin and that the novice runner, rather than the elite athlete, is the one who is at the highest risk for heart damage during extreme effort such as running a marathon (Circulation, December 3, 2018). The same applies to skeletal muscle damage. The highest blood levels of skeletal muscle enzymes occur in people who attempt major intensity and endurance events for which they are not adequately trained. High blood levels of heart troponin after moderate exercise can be a sign of heart damage that needs immediate medical attention (European J of Prev Cardiology, Feb 10, 02017). The greater the stress of exercise on the heart, the greater the chance of suffering heart damage. Heart attacks occur in 1 in 50,000 runners and the vast majority occur in marathons, not in shorter or less demanding races, and they usually occur in men over 35 years of age.

Increased Plaques in Arteries

Competitive older endurance athletes may have more plaques in their arteries than non-exercisers do, but they have the type of plaques that are far less likely to break off and cause heart attacks (Circulation, April 27, 2017;136:138-148; May 2, 2017;136:126-137). A heart attack is usually caused by a plaque breaking off from an artery leading to the heart, followed by bleeding and clotting. Then the clot extends to obstruct all blood flow to that part of the heart muscle and it dies, which is a heart attack. Exercise helps to prevent heart attacks by:

• stabilizing the plaques so that they are far less likely to break off,

• reducing the risk of clotting,

• widening the arteries, and

• increasing the ability of coronary arteries to widen even more during exercise to send more blood to the heart to prevent heart muscle damage. A 90 percent blockage of an artery does not cause a heart attack because blood can still flow through and the heart muscle can still get oxygen

A CT scan called a calcium score can show the difference between stable plaques that are safe and those that are unstable and more likely to break off to lead to heart attacks (American Journal of Roentgenology, March 2015;204(3):W249-W260). Signs of plaque stability include extensive surface calcification, less fat-rich areas and increased fibrous areas.

Exercise does not increase plaque formation. Men over 60 who had run marathons for 26 to 34 years had plaques in their arteries that were related to their own risk factors for heart attacks and not to the number of miles or marathons they had run (Med & Sci in Sports & Ex, July 17, 2017). Plaques in arteries are not caused by endurance training, but are caused by other factors such as a pro-inflammatory diet, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and previous use of tobacco. See Exercise and Plaques

Irregular Heartbeats in Older Athletes

About twenty years ago, doctors noted that men over 80 who competed in cross country ski races longer than 100 kilometers (64 miles) were at increased risk for irregular heartbeats called atrial fibrillation (BMJ, Jun 13, 1998; 316(7147): 1784–1785). Extensive studies have since confirmed this increased incidence of atrial fibrillation in healthy older world-class endurance athletes (Scan J Med & Sci in Sports, Nov 21, 2013;24(4)). However, most of these men are healthy athletes and have no obvious problems with their hearts. Non-exercisers with atrial fibrillation are at significantly increased risk for forming clots in the less active upper part of their hearts (the atrium), and then the clots can travel to the brain to block the flow of blood to cause a stroke. One study found no evidence of irregular heartbeats from damage to the right ventricular heart chamber in elite lifetime-endurance athletes (Circulation, May 17, 2016;133(20):1927-35). However, at this time, doctors may treat atrial fibrillation in most patients, including healthy athletes, with:

• drugs to slow heart rate,

• drugs to prevent clots,

• electric pacemakers to change the maximum heart rate,

• in extreme cases, electrical waves to destroy heart nerves in an effort to change the irregular heartbeat.

We do not know if the healthy older athletes need these treatments, but rightfully, doctors are afraid not to treat the athletes because of the possibility of strokes. Most doctors prescribe anti-clotting medicines for almost all of their patients who suffer atrial fibrillation, but we do not know if the older athletes are as susceptible to heart problems as are non-exercisers. See Irregular Heartbeats in Senior Athletes and Exercisers 

My Recommendations

Exercisers live longer and have far less heart damage than non-exercisers. I believe that everyone should exercise to help prevent diseases and prolong lives. However, if you want to start or increase the intensity or duration of your exercise program, if you have questions about your health, have any specific medical conditions or have heart attack risk factors, check with your doctor.

CAUTION: Intense exercise can cause a heart attack in a person who has blocked arteries or heart damage. Check with your doctor before you start a new exercise program or make a sudden increase in the intensity of your existing program.

DEC 12

When Is the Best Time to Take Vitamins According to Science?

By Holly Klamer, RD Leave a Comment Researched Based Article

Do you take a vitamin supplement?  About 52 percent of American adults take a vitamin supplement according to data from over 37,000 people in a 2016 study (1).

Researchers compared data on vitamin supplements from 1999-2000 compared to 2011-2012.  While the amount of adults taking supplements didn’t change significantly between these years, the type of supplement people take did change.

There was a significantly lower number of adults taking multi-vitamins in 2011-2012 compared to 1999-2000 (31% compared to 37%, respectively).

However, the amount of adults taking vitamin D and omega 3 supplements increased significantly in 2011-2012 compared to 1999-2000.

Whether you should take a supplement or not depends on many factors and should be under the recommendation of your healthcare team.  If you do take vitamin(s) supplement, when you take them can influence how much of the supplement your body absorbs.

Here are some important factors to consider when you should take vitamins to optimize the absorption.

Keep in mind the way we absorb nutrients is different from food compared to supplements, and there are MANY factors that influence our digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Should you take a vitamin supplement?

Health experts are divided on potential benefits of taking vitamin/mineral supplements.  In general, most experts agree taking a multivitamin that provides about 100% RDA intake does not harm health.

Before taking any supplement, it is recommended to consult your healthcare team.

Certain medical conditions or nutritional deficiencies warrant supplement intake.  However, supplements can interfere with absorption of medication, other supplements and even other nutrients when taken with food.

Some research studies (2) have shown multi-vitamin/mineral supplement do not lower risk for overall mortality or other chronic health conditions.  Taking a supplement is not a substitute for following a healthy diet and lifestyle.

More research is needed for clarifying how different supplements affect health.

When should you take prenatal vitamin?

Prenatal vitamins are designed to provide nutrients that are needed even more so during pregnancy.  They can be taken even before you are pregnant if you are trying to conceive.

Mayo Clinic (3) suggests taking a prenatal vitamin with a meal/snack or before bed time to lower risk of nausea.

The iron in prenatal vitamins may cause nausea on an empty stomach, and some women may feel queasy if prenatal is not taken with food.

If you have any changes in bowel movements or other symptoms after taking a prenatal vitamin, consult your doctor.

There may be another prenatal vitamin with varying nutrients that may be better for your body.

When should you take a multi-vitamin?

If you are taking any medications, follow the advice from your health practitioner for advice on taking supplements with your medications.

In general, multivitamins provide 100% RDA or less of vitamins and/or minerals.  The best time to take a multivitamin is the easiest time for you every day whether it’s right away when you wake up or before you go to bed.

If you notice any stomach discomfort from taking a multi on an empty stomach, take it with a meal.

If you are taking other supplements such as higher doses of minerals, Consumer Lab (4) recommends spreading out your supplements.

Take your multi at a different time of day than other supplements to increase absorption for all nutrients.

When should you take individual vitamin supplements?

Individual vitamin or mineral supplements can range in dosage which can vary the impact of absorption.

In general, if you are taking one nutrient supplement, take it at a different time than other supplements.  Spread them out through the day.

Fat soluble vitamins

The fat soluble vitamins are vitamins A,D,E and K.  Taking these supplements with food can increase absorption of these nutrients, especially when a fat source is included in the meal.

A 2005 study (5) found adding avocado or avocado oil to a salad significantly increased absorption of beta carotene (a pre-form of vitamin A).  It also increased absorption of other antioxidants like lutein and alpha carotene.

A 2000 review (6) on carotenoids suggests the amount of fat needed to absorb carotenoids (and probably other fat soluble vitamins) is around 3-5 grams per meal.

In other words, you don’t need to dose a meal in oil to better absorb fat soluble vitamins in a meal.

Vitamin C and B vitamins

Water soluble vitamins, C and B vitamins, are absorbed with water and don’t need fat for absorption.  In general, the body doesn’t store these nutrients like it stores fat soluble vitamins.

If you are taking a B or C vitamin, you can take it on an empty stomach or before a meal.

When should you take mineral supplements?

Mineral supplements, especially large doses, are vulnerable to changes in absorption.  For example, the absorption of calcium, zinc, magnesium and iron use similar transporters in the intestine and compete for absorption.

Therefore, taking these single nutrient supplements should be taken at different times of the day for optimal uptake.

Whether you should take these supplements with food may vary depending on individual health concerns.

In general, taking single mineral supplements with food may lower risk for digestive discomfort.

American Bone Health (7) also suggests excessive salt can interfere with calcium absorption.  Therefore, lowering salt in general in your diet and taking calcium with a lower salt meal can optimize absorption.

Considerations for taking vitamins

Keep in mind the body is a complex system, and absorption of nutrients is influenced by many factors.  More supplements are not always better, and sometimes supplements may even have negative health consequences.

For example, one study (8) found those at high risk for lung cancer, such as smokers, may have an increased risk for lung cancer when taking beta carotene supplement.

This is a surprising finding as a diet rich in fruits and vegetables (and beta carotene) is associated with a lowered risk for cancer.  However, the impact a nutrient has on health is different when absorbed from whole foods compared to concentrated supplements.

If you are wondering if you should take supplements, consult your healthcare team for individualized recommendations.

DEC 11

Short Intervals are Best

A new study shows that the most efficient, time-saving and health-benefitting way to exercise is to use short intervals (Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, Jan 2014). Interval training means that you alternate intense exercise with slow exercise until you feel tired. For example, run very hard for 30 seconds, jog very slowly until you recover your breath, and then repeat. Alternate these 30-second fast runs with slow jogging recoveries until you are tired, then quit for the day.

Interval training workouts take far less time to do than conventional workouts that maintain a steady pace at lower intensity. We have known for many years that high-intensity training improves performance and is necessary for competitive athletes in all sports. Now researchers are finding that these short bouts of intense exercise also offer tremendous health benefits for everyone.

Types of Intervals

Intervals are classified into short intervals that last less than 30 seconds each and long intervals that take longer than two minutes. Fit people can do a large number of short intervals because they do not cause much muscle damage and you do not build up lactic acid in 30 seconds. On the other hand, long intervals cause so much muscle damage and such high levels of lactic acid that you can do only a few of them in a single workout.

The new research shows that short intervals are the most effective way to train for competition and also to improve your health. This study compared 30-second all-out, 5-minute all-out, and 40-min all-out bouts of cycling. In 10 weeks of twice-a-week, effort-matched trials, they found that short interval training was more effective than long intervals in improving mean power output and VO2max. VO2 max is the best laboratory measure of how fast a cyclist can ride over a distance. It measures the maximal amount of oxygen the riders can take in and use.

The faster you go in an interval workout, the greater the gain in your ability to take in and use oxygen, and the faster you can ride or run. In another study, short intervals of less than 30 seconds each improved one-hour race times the most. The longer the interval at a very fast pace, the slower you go and the fewer intervals you can do in a single workout (Med Sci Sports Exerc, 1999 May;31(5):736-41).

How to Add Intervals to your Present Exercise Program

Whatever your sport, you can add intervals to your current training program. For example, if you are are a runner who jogs for 20 minutes or more, start your interval-workout day by jogging slowly for five to ten minutes to warm up. Then go as fast as you can for 20 or 30 strides, slow down until you have caught your breath and then pick up the pace again for 20 or 30 strides. When your legs start to feel heavy or hurt, quit for the day. When you are comfortable with this routine, get a stop watch and try to increase your intervals to 30 seconds. Your recovery periods can be as long as you need to regain your breath and your muscles have stopped burning and feel fresh again. Several studies show that interval rests can be of any reasonable duration in training for competition. It’s how fast you move on your intense exercise that determines how fast you can move in competition.

If you are riding a bicycle, warm up slowly for 5 to 10 minutes. Then increase your speed and the pressure on the pedals for 20 pedal strokes. Slow down and recover, then repeat. As you become stronger, work up to 50 pedal strokes. As soon as your legs feel fresh again and you are not short of breath, start your next interval. When your thighs start to feel stiff and heavy, stop the workout for the day. Do not plan to take days off, but take off any time your body tells you to – whenever your legs feel heavy or hurt at the start of workout.

NOV 30

The More Vegetables, The Better

Researchers followed 38,981 adults for 16 years (1999-2014) and found that those who ate the most vegetables and the widest variety of vegetables, particularly dark green vegetables, had the lowest rate of heart attacks and heart disease (Nutrition Journal, July 10, 2018;17:67). For more than 60 years, research has shown that a high-fiber diet helps to prevent heart attacks and many other diseases (American Journal of Epidemiology, Dec 1, 1987;126(6):1093–1102). Studies show that many of the impressive health benefits from eating vegetables, beans, whole grains and fruits come from the short chain fatty acids produced when bacteria in your colon ferment soluble fiber from plants.

Short-Chain Fatty Acids from Soluble Fiber

Vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and whole grains all contain fiber. Insoluble fiber passes through your body without being absorbed into your bloodstream, but breakdown products from soluble fiber can be absorbed even though humans lack the enzymes necessary to digest soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is not absorbed in your upper intestinal tract, so it passes to your colon where bacteria do have the enzymes to break it down into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs reduce inflammation to help prevent diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers and other life-shortening diseases (Front Microbiol, Feb 17, 2016;7:185).

The Bacteria in Your Gut

Your colon contains more than 13 trillion bacteria that help to control your immunity, digestion and just about everything that happens in our body. You have good bacteria that help to keep you healthy and bad bacteria that can make you sick. As a general rule, the good bacteria are happy to eat the same foods that you do and do not try to invade the cells lining your colon, while the bad bacteria try to invade the cells in your colon. The invading bad bacteria turn on your immunity that tries to kill them and prevent these harmful germs from getting out of your colon and into other parts of your body.

What you eat determines the types of bacteria that thrive in your gut. Soluble fiber in plants promotes the growth of the good bacteria, so when you eat lots of plants, you will have a large colony of these bacteria to convert soluble fiber into SCFAs that have immense health benefits (J Lipid Res, Sept 2013;54(9):2325-40). The good bacteria produce large amounts of SCFAs that feed the more good bacteria and help them to multiply. The SCFAs also:

• reduce inflammation

• help to lower high levels of blood sugar and cholesterol

• possibly reduce hunger

• cause your intestinal linings to produce the beneficial mucous that lines your colon to help prevent the bad bacteria from growing there.

The more vegetables and fruits you eat, the higher the stool levels of SCFAs (Gut, Nov 2016;65(11):1812-1821).

How SCFAs Help to Prevent Disease

Heart Disease: Many studies show that high-fiber diets help to prevent and treat heart disease by reducing inflammation. Your immunity helps to protect you by producing white blood cells and cytokines that kill invading germs when they try to enter your cells. As soon as the invading germ is gone, your immunity is supposed to dampen down. However, if your immunity stays active all the time, it uses the same white blood cells and cytokines to attack your own cells. It can punch holes in the inner lining of arteries to start plaques forming there to increase risk for a heart attack. A constantly active immunity is called inflammation and SCFAs help to reduce inflammation (Nutrients, 2011 Oct; 3(10): 858–876).

Diabetes: After three months on a high-fiber diet, the bacteria in the colons of diabetics changed to be dominated by the 15 known strains of bacteria that convert soluble fiber into SCFAs that lower high blood sugar and cholesterol levels (Science, Mar 9, 2018:359(6380):1151-1156). Diabetics placed on a high-fiber diet had lower fasting blood sugar levels, far lower blood sugars after eating, a greater drop in blood levels of HbA1c that measures cell damage from diabetes, and significant weight loss. Even though fruits are high in sugar, limited amounts of fruit can help to prevent and treat diabetes because their soluble fiber is converted to SCFAs (Diabetes Care, July 2008).

Colon Cancer: A high plant diet is associated with a marked reduction in colon cancer (Epidem Reviews, Jan 1, 1993;15(2):499–545). SCFAs prevent colon cancer in laboratory animals (Mutat Res, Jul-Aug 2009;682(1):39-53). Placing mice on a high-fiber diet that markedly increased SCFAs reduced colon cancer risk by more than 75 percent, but only if the mice had SCFA-producing bacteria in their guts. This study suggests that soluble fiber does not help to prevent colon cancer unless you also have lots of the good bacteria in your gut to convert it to SCFAs (Cancer Discov, Dec, 2014;4(12):1387–1397).

Obesity: SCFAs promote weight loss in animals (Diabetes, 2009 Jul; 58(7):1509–1517) and possibly in humans by decreasing fat storage (J Lipid Res, Sep 2013;54(9):2325-40.)

SCFAs from Plants, not Supplements

If SCFAs have so many benefits, why not just take SCFA supplements? Nobody has shown that SCFA supplements are an effective substitute for eating plants that contain lots of soluble fiber. SCFAs are readily absorbed throughout your entire intestinal tract, so SCFAs in pills will be absorbed in your upper intestinal tract and never reach your colon (PNAS, October 28, 2008;105(43):16767-16772). Therefore, SCFA supplements have not been shown to help colonize healthful bacteria in your colon as soluble fiber in plants does.

My Recommendations

This new study suggests that whatever else you choose to do with your diet, you should eat a large amount and a wide variety of vegetables. I believe that everyone should eat lots of plants — vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts and any other edible plant parts. Among their many benefits, plants help to prevent disease and prolong lives by increasing colonic bacterial production of SCFAs that reduce inflammation.

NOV 23

How to Avoid Skin Cancer

Almost all skin cancers are caused by excessive exposure to sunlight. Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are caused by cumulative exposure to sunlight over a lifetime, so every time you expose any part of your skin to direct sunlight, you are adding to the damage that you have received from previous exposures. Melanomas are different. They can be caused by a single sunburn at any age.

How UV Rays from the Sun Cause Skin Cancer

You replace your skin completely every 28 days. The outer layer of skin cells are constantly being removed as dander or dandruff. New skin cells start at the bottom inner layer of skin and move up toward the outside as you shed the old skin. The new skin cells are formed by reproducing the cells that contain your genetic material, DNA. Cancer is caused by mutations in which the genetic information in your DNA is changed. Ultraviolet light exposure is one cause of these mutations.

What is Cancer?

Every cell in your body is programmed to grow for a certain period and then die. This is called apoptosis. Skin cells live 28 days and then die. Red blood cells live 120 days and die, the cells in your mouth live 24 to 48 hours, and so forth. Cancer means that the cells do not die at their programmed time. The genetic material mutates (changes) and the cells try to live forever. The vast majority of skin cells continue on their normal 28-day path, but UV light can damage the genetic material so that the cells forget to die and become cancerous.

Everyone makes millions of cancer cells every day. One of the jobs of your immune system is to search out and kill cancer cells. A healthy immune system prevents most cancers from growing, but for various reasons which we do not fully understand, sometimes cancer cells escape destruction by your immune system and a cancer (i.e., a tumor) begins to grow in your body.

Most types of cancer cells do not kill a person until they spread to other parts of the body. For example, breast cancers do not kill as long as they remain in the breast. However, when breast cancer spreads to your brain, liver or lungs, it destroys these tissues which can kill you. The same is true of skin cancers; they do not become deadly unless they spread to other tissues in your body.

Protect Yourself from Sunlight

The most effective protection from UV light is a roof, and then clothes. Sunscreens are the least protective, but they are better than nothing.

Clothes: Clothes are far more protective than sun screens. Wear a hat that covers your ears, a shirt, and arm coolers on your arms when you exercise outdoors. Dark colored fabrics block UV rays better than light colors: The colors that block the most UV include black, deep blue, orange and red. Tightly woven fabrics block more UV than looser weaves: Hold the material up to a light source. The more light that passes through a fabric, the more UV will also pass.

Arm Coolers: We use “arm coolers” that block the sun’s rays and evaporate sweat rapidly to cool our arms at the same time. You can even make your arms feel cold on hot days just by pouring water on them. You can buy arm coolers in sports stores or online.

Sunglasses: Skin cancers around the eyes, mouth, ears and nose are among the most difficult to treat and cure and are also the ones most likely to recur after treatment. Cancers in these areas can tunnel underneath the skin and not be obvious to the naked eye. Sunglasses block UV light and therefore help to prevent cancer in skin around your eyes.

Sunscreens: Remember that sweating, swimming, or a brush of your hand can remove the sunscreen. Apply a sunscreen so you can see it on your skin and then reapply that sunscreen at least every couple of hours. Make sure that you apply sunscreen to the areas with the most exposure to sunlight over your lifetime: the top of your ears, your face, the back of your neck, and your arms and hands. To meet your daily vitamin D requirements from sunlight, you can expose your legs or other areas of your body that have received little cumulative sun exposure over your lifetime.

Sun Protection Factor (SPF)

The SPF on sunscreen labels tells you how long it takes to burn your skin underneath that sunscreen. It does not tell you how much protection you are getting. A SPF 30 sunscreen blocks 97 percent of UVB rays, compared to an SPF 15 sunscreen that blocks 93 percent. No sunscreen blocks all UV rays.

Broad-spectrum sunscreens provide some protection against UVA and UVB rays, but the SPF (sun-protection factor) rating refers only to the level of protection from UVB rays. The FDA ruled that sunscreen labels that claim to be “broad spectrum” must protect against UVA as well as UVB. These rules also prohibit any sunscreen from claiming that it prevents skin cancer or aging because no sunscreen blocks all UV rays. Sunscreens cannot claim that they last for more than two hours, unless proof of longer protection is submitted to the FDA.

There is no advantage to choosing sunscreens just because they have an SPF greater than 50. The FDA has shown that you do not need a sunscreen with an SPF greater than 30.

Sunscreen Ingredients

Many sunscreens contain the filters octylmethoxycinnamate, benzophenone-3 or octocrylene, which reflect ultra violet rays away from your skin to protect it only when they are on the surface of the skin. However, when these sunscreens are absorbed and the skin is not re-coated, they increase skin production of harmful oxidants that can cause skin aging and cancer (Free Radical Biology & Medicine, September 2009). Reapplying the sunscreen so that some remains on the skin surface can help to prevent this damage.

We do not know how safe sun screens are because they have never been tested systematically. Oxybenzone in sunscreens has been shown to be absorbed into the bloodstream in humans and to disrupt hormones in animals. At this time, it appears that zinc oxide and titanium dioxide-based sunscreens are among the best and safest on the market, but there is some concern about nanoparticles and the FDA does not require testing or disclosure of the particle sizes used.

Recommended Brands and Ingredients

Each year the Environmental Working Group posts its findings on sunscreen effectiveness and safety, with brand name listings and recommendations; see http://www.ewg.org/2015sunscreen/

Vitamin D

Most people cannot meet their needs for vitamin D unless they expose some skin to sunlight or take vitamin D supplements. Food sources are inadequate and vitamin D pills may not supply all the benefits of sunlight. If you do not allow the sun’s rays to reach your skin, you will not be able to gain all the benefits of sunlight. People in southern climates can usually meet their vitamin D requirements by exposing a small area of skin for about half an hour at mid-day.

Sun Protection Myths

• Clouds do not protect you. Up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can pass through clouds to damage your skin.

• Glass does not protect you. Glass blocks UVB rays that are the primary causes of skin cancer and sunburns, but they do not block UVA that can also cause skin cancer and aging.

• Beach umbrellas do not protect you. UV rays are reflected toward you from sand and water. Studies show that you get up to 84 percent of the exposure to UV radiation under an umbrella that you receive in the open sun.

• Dark skin does not protect you completely. People with dark skin still need to follow sun protection precautions. Skin pigment reduces the amount of UV rays that pass into skin, but it does not prevent sunburns or skin cancer.

NOV 16

Do You Need Vitamin D Pills?

 

North Americans spent more than $936 million on vitamin D pills in 2017, doctors ordered more than 10 million laboratory tests for vitamin D for Medicare patients at a cost of $365 million in 2016, and 25 percent of older adults take vitamin D supplements. A Kaiser Health News investigation recently reported that the man most responsible for the obsession with vitamin D pills, Boston endocrinologist Michael Holick, has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by supplement and drug manufacturers, the indoor-tanning industry and commercial laboratories that run blood tests for vitamin D (New York Times, August 18, 2018). Many doctors have been concerned about the recommendations for very high doses of vitamin D for a long time. In 2004, highly-respected Dr. Barbara Gilchrest, then head of Boston University’s Department of Dermatology, asked Holick to resign from the department. In 2014, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reported that there is not enough evidence to recommend routine vitamin D testing. In 2015, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield reported that they had spent $33 million on 641,000 vitamin D tests.

No Benefits Shown in Recent Studies

• Vitamin D pills were not shown to help prevent heart attacks or cancer: A study led by a Harvard researcher, Dr. Joanne Manson, followed 25,871 men and women for a median of 5.3 years. Participants who took vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), 2000 IU per day, had no added protection from heart diseases or cancers (NEJM, November 10, 2018).

• Vitamin D and calcium pills do not prevent bone fractures: The largest clinical study ever on the subject, covering more than 500,000 people and 188,000 fractures, showed that vitamin D pills did not prevent bone fractures (BMJ, September 9, 2018). This study agrees with previous studies showing that vitamin D pills do not prevent fractures in older men and women (Cochrane Database Syst Rev, Apr 14, 2014;(4):CD000227), and a review of 33 studies covering more than 50,000 adults showed that neither calcium nor vitamin D pills prevented fractures (JAMA, Dec 26, 2017;318(24):2466-2482). Calcium pills can harm you by increasing risk for heart attacks and kidney stones (BMJ, Sept 29, 2015;351:h4580).

• High vitamin D levels were reported to be associated with increased risk for skin, prostate and blood cancers (American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Chicago, April 16, 2018). Calcitriol, the active metabolite of vitamin D, is an immune suppressant that may increase risk for some types of cancer. This study followed 246,858 people of which 18,000 were diagnosed with cancer and found that every 10 ng/mL increase in blood vitamin D was associated with a nine percent increase in the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer, a 10 percent increase in the risk of melanoma, a five percent increase in the risk of prostate cancer and a three percent increase in the risk of blood cancers. However, a five percent decrease in lung cancer was associated with every 10 ng/mL increase in blood vitamin D.

Confusion About Vitamin D Deficiency

Many previous “authorities” have proposed that normal blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D should be as high as 50 to 80 ng/ml, but recent studies suggest 30 ng/ml is more than adequate and most experts feel that any level above 20 ng/ml is normal (Osteoporosis International, February 2017;28(2):505–515). Most of the studies extolling vitamin D pill benefits on 137 diseases show association, not cause and effect, and thus are likely to be due to chance (BMJ, Apr 1, 2014;348:g2035). There is no evidence anywhere that people with hydroxy vitamin D levels above 30 are healthier than those between 20 and 30. If “normal” blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D were set higher than 20 ng/ml, more than 80 percent of North Americans would be misdiagnosed as having low blood vitamin D levels.

My Recommendations

Most people can get all the vitamin D that they need by exposing a few inches of skin to sunlight for a few minutes three times a week during the warmer months. During the winter months, you can take up to 1000 IU/day of vitamin D pills if you wish. I believe that sunlight offers benefits that cannot be obtained just by taking vitamin D pills, but take proper precautions to avoid skin cancer.

If you are concerned about your vitamin D level, get a blood test for hydroxy vitamin D (all other vitamin D blood tests are not dependable). If it is above 20 ng/ml, you are presumed to be normal, unless your doctor is concerned that you have a condition that possibly may benefit from higher levels.

  

NOV 12

5 Habits That Prevent Dehydration

You’d think that living in a first world country would mean easy access to healthy living for the citizens. Yet people you know might be living in a chronic state of dehydration and not even realize it. They may live in a well-hydrated environment (East Coast, anyone?) and yet they fail to recognize the actual sensations of thirst and lack of hydration. They work, play, exercise, and afterward feel odd little symptoms that they ignore. If they live in a dry area, they can still get into the habit of not listening to what their bodies are trying to tell them. This can be a mistake that can affect them for years to come.

The habits that keep you hydrated throughout the day are not hard to do. The main trick, if it can be called that, is establishing the habit of hydration. Using a memory device to help you remember to stay hydrated is one way. For instance: “Don’t go dry, rely(on water)”. Another way is to make hydrating a standard part of your routine every day so that you don’t forget. Once the habit is established, you’ll recognize your personal dehydration symptoms that you were missing before.

ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS:

 

Have you ever felt unfocused or sleepy at odd times?

Does your skin pass the pinch test? This is when you pinch your skin and it quickly falls back into place. If it doesn’t fall back, then you’re dehydrated.

Do you experience U.T.I.s or other chronic bladder infections?

Have you felt dry and overheated, maybe even dizzy, during or after exertion?

The solution is easy and takes little effort or time out of your day. In fact, listening to your body and taking good care of yourself can bring immediate relief and help you avoid long-term problems.

THE 5 DAILY HABITS OF STAYING HYDRATED:

 

Drink 2 glasses of water as soon as you rise in the morning. This rehydrates you after a long night’s dry spell and helps you look and feel fresh and awake.

Drink fluids, particularly water, before, during, and after exercise. Using sports drinks with electrolytes at this time can make a difference as well.

Rely on juicier fruits and vegetables for liquid your body can use. Make grapes, watermelon, or oranges a regular snack.

Some people will drink water after every visit to the bathroom. This way they know they are maintaining a healthy level of hydration.

Avoid sugary and caffeinated drinks that may actually have a diuretic effect on your body. Your body craves water and knows how to use it! Caffeine may just make it harder for some people to avoid becoming dehydrated

WATER: THE BEST SOLUTION

Avoiding dehydration is far more important than just easing a sense of thirst. That sensation is a clear message from your body to you that something needs to be done, so ignoring it is a bad idea. Providing poor substitutes for water, like lots of sugary drinks, may not satisfy the thirst and may set you up for diseases like cavities and diabetes. Water is the zero-calorie, no-sugar-added, immediate relief your body is really asking for.

A TIP WHEN YOU DON’T LIKE WATER

Here’s another trick: if the water tastes like ‘nothing’ to you when you first start drinking it regularly, that’s actually a sign that your taste buds have gotten used to more processed drinks. As you cut the sweets and stimulants, you will begin to taste the true nature of water. When the day comes that you drink plain water and it tastes sweet, refreshing, and satisfying, then you’ll know that you’ve made water a regular habit. Congratulations! You’ve become more aware of your body and more mindful of your health.

MAKE THE CHANGE!

For many people around the world, dehydration is as avoidable as it is common. Recognizing dehydration symptoms and preventing it are key health issues that even children can learn to handle for themselves. These life habits are both pretty simple and pretty important! It’s necessary to take time each day to listen to your body, recognize your body’s thirsty craving for hydration, and add more fluids in your daily routine. You have the power to make great changes in your life.

NOV 10

With a single can of Coca-Cola containing 91/2 teaspoons of sugar and Diet Coke containing aspartame, not drinking this sugary soda isn’t a bad idea.

However, there are many surprising uses for Coca-Cola you need to remember:

Cleaning with Coca-Cola!

Removing rust

Apart from being one of the components found in Coca-Cola, citric acid dissolves rust quickly.

According to Clean My Space, you should soak your rust-covered items in Coca-Cola for not less than 24 hours before you rinse them with water and then use a clean piece of cloth to wipe clean.

Cleaning silver

Remedies and Herbs says, Coca-Cola helps to loosen the dirt and grime that accumulates on items made of silver. All you need to do is soak your tarnished silver in Coca-Cola for a few minutes before you rinse and wipe it clean.

Removing gum

Although having gum in your hair or on the sole of your shoe is common, how to remove the gum might not be known to many. Collective Evolution, recommends dabbing a little Coca-Cola around the stuck gum and let it soak for some minutes before you wipe it off.

Stripping paint

According to Collective Evolution, if you want to repaint your metal furniture, you only need to soak a towel in Coca-Cola before you lay it on the painted surface to remove the old layer of paint. The paint will start to peel off after a few minutes.

Cleaning copper

Remedies and Herbs recommends to polish your items made of copper using a piece of cloth dipped in Coca-Cola. The acid contained in this liquid dissolves tarnish immediately.

Polishing chrome

According to Collective Evolution, you can use aluminum foil and Coca-Cola to clean your chrome wheels whenever they need upgrading.

Cleaning oil spills

Clean My Space recommends pouring Coca-Cola on oil spills and using a hose to rinse away the soda after letting it soak in for several hours.

Cleaning tile grouts

Although you probably think the color of Coca-Cola will stain your floor, Collective Evolution recommends using this liquid to clean tile grouts.

All you need to do is pour a little Coca-Cola on your floor and allow it to soak in for several minutes before you use a paper towel or piece of cloth to wipe it up.

Cleaning greasy stains

If your clothes happen to full of greasy stains, all you need to do is mix in a can of Coca-Cola with the same amount and type of washing detergent you usually use.

According to Clean My Space, this method is effective in the removal of asphalt, grease, and creosote stains. Remedies and Herbs add that the technique is also good for the removal of blood stains.

Cleaning your toilet bowl

You can find a complete guide on how to clean your toilet bowl with Coca-Cola by visiting WikiHow.

All you may have to do is pour one can of Coca-Cola over every stain and around the toilet bowl’s rim, and then allow it to sit for at least an hour before you flush the toilet. If necessary, repeat until every stain disappears.

Descaling an electric kettle

According to Remedies and Herbs, using an electric kettle to boil Coca-Cola for a few minutes works to descale the kettle. However, you need to scrub and rinse the kettle before you can use it again.

Cleaning burnt cooking pans

According to Collective Evolution, you can wash the stubborn stains off your grease-burnt pan by soaking it in Coca-Cola.

Cleaning the battery of a car

Sometimes your car won’t start because of corrosion. Fortunately, you can remove this buildup using Coca-Cola.

According to Clean My Space, all you need to do is pour a can of Coca-Cola directly onto the battery’s connection terminals. Remember, you should not do this unless the vehicle is turned off.

Cleaning kitchen countertops

According to Remedies and Herbs, you can use a piece of cloth dampened with Coca-Cola to clean your kitchen countertop quickly and effectively.

Removing the foul smell of a skunk

According to Clean My Space, using Coca-Cola to shower removes the smell of a skunk better than tomato sauce. Make sure the Coca-Cola has had enough time to sink into your hair and skin before you rinse it off.

NOV 05

How to Start an Exercise Program

If you want to become fit and use exercise to help prevent a heart attack, first check with your doctor to make sure that you do not have anything wrong with your heart or blood vessels. Intense exercise can increase your risk for a heart attack if you already have a damaged heart.

Pick any sport or activity that uses continuous motion (such as running, cycling, swimming, skating, rowing, dancing) that you think you might enjoy. Start out at a relaxed pace until your muscles feel heavy and then stop. For the first several days or weeks you may be able to exercise only for a few minutes. If your muscles feel sore the next day, take the day off. Increase the amount of time gradually until you can exercise 30 minutes a day at a relaxed pace and not feel sore. Then you are ready to begin your training for fitness. Try to increase the intensity of your exercise once a week. Do your jogging, cycling or whatever you have chosen as your sport at a slow pace to warm up. Then gradually increase the pace until you start to feel short of breath and your muscles start to feel sore, and then slow down. Then when you recover, pick up the pace again. Repeat these surges until your muscles start to stiffen and then quit for the day. Take the next day off and go easy the rest of the week. Then once a week, keep on making your one-day-a-week hard workout harder and harder. You will be continuously increasing your level of fitness.

The only way to strengthen any muscle is to contract the muscle against increasingly greater resistance. Your heart is a muscle, so the only way to make your heart stronger is to contract it against greater resistance. When you exercise, you alternately contract and relax your skeletal muscles. This alternate contraction and relaxation squeezes the veins near the muscles to pump blood toward the heart. Your heart is muscular balloon. The increased flow of blood returning to your heart goes inside the heart to stretch the balloon and the heart has to contract with greater force to pump the blood from inside the heart toward the body. The increased amount of blood inside the heart stretches the heart muscle to make it stronger.

The harder you contract your skeletal muscles, the more blood you pump toward your heart, the greater the stretch on the heart to make it stronger. So fitness is determined more by how hard you exercise than by how much you exercise because the harder you exercise, the stronger your heart muscle becomes. Going out and running 100 miles a week slowly does not make you very fit because you are not strengthening your heart very much with a little increase in circulation of blood, no matter how long you do it. Compare lifting a very light weight a thousand times in a row to lifting a very heavy weight 10 times in a row. The person lifting the heavy weight 10 times will become stronger than the person lifting a light weight a thousand times.

Caution: Exercise can cause a heart attack in a person who has blocked arteries or heart damage. Check with your doctor before you start a new exercise program.

NOV 1

Exercise Promotes Good Gut Bacteria

Two previous studies, one in humans and one in mice, also show that exercise alone leads to beneficial changes of colon bacteria. In the human study, researchers had 18 lean and 14 obese subjects exercise for 30 to 60 minutes, three days per week for six weeks (Med & Sci in Sports & Ex, Nov 11, 2017). Then they were told not to exercise for six weeks. All subjects were told not to change their diets. After the six weeks of exercise, all of the subjects, both obese and lean, had an increase in the good colon bacteria that make short chain fatty acids (butyrate) and suppress inflammation. The lean subjects had the greatest increase in the good bacteria after exercising and the obese subjects had a more modest increase in the good bacteria. When the same subjects were checked after six weeks of not exercising, all had a marked reduction of these good colon bacteria. This study shows that exercise appears to increase the number of good colon bacteria without any dietary change whatever, that lean people have a greater increase than obese people, and that the potential benefit does not last if exercise is stopped.

In the mouse study, researchers took fecal material from groups of exercising mice and non-exercising mice and transplanted it into the colons of bacteria-free mice (Gut Microbes, published online Sep 1, 2017). The bacteria-free mice developed the same types of colon bacteria that they received from each donor group. Fecal samples taken from exercising mice gave the recipient mice much higher levels of the beneficial bacteria that produce high levels of short chain fatty acids (butyrate) that are anti-inflammatory and help to lower cholesterol. Then the researchers gave the recipient mice chemicals that cause inflammation, which damaged their colons to cause colitis. The mice that had received bacteria from the exercising mice had far less inflammation, far less colon damage and much quicker recovery times than the mice who had received bacteria from the sedentary mice.

OCT 25

Lactic Acid is Good for You: Why Everyone with a Healthy Heart Should Do Interval Exercise

Accumulating lactic acid in your muscles makes you a better athlete, helps to prevent diseases and may even prolong your life. Athletes use a form of interval training to make themselves faster and stronger, and everyone with a healthy heart can benefit from this technique. Interval training means to exercise so vigorously that you get short of breath, slow down and when you recover your breath, you exercise intensely enough to become short of breath again. Then you alternate intense intervals and recovery until your legs start to feel heavy or hurt, and then stop the workout for the day. For example, warm up by running very slowly for five to 10 minutes, and then run a little faster until you become short of breath, slow down until you recover your breath and repeat until your legs start to feel heavy or hurt.

Intervals to Make You a Better Athlete

You cannot enlarge a muscle and make it stronger unless you damage it with vigorous exercise. When it heals, it is larger and stronger. You cannot improve your ability to take in and use oxygen unless you exercise vigorously enough to become short of breath. Interval training allows you to exercise more intensely than continuous training and therefore give you a stronger training effect by causing more muscle fiber damage and greater oxygen debts.

Intervals to Prevent Disease and Prolong Your Life

A regular exercise program helps to prevent diabetes, heart attacks, and cancers. Interval training may be even more effective in preventing heart attacks and cancers because it helps to lower high blood sugar more effectively than continuous training by making cells far more sensitive to insulin (Int J Sports Med, published online November 6, 2014). Vigorous exercise increases the number, size and efficiency of mitochondria in your muscle cells. All of the cells in your body (except mature red blood cells) have anywhere from a few to thousands of organelles, called mitochondria, that turn the food that you eat into energy. Muscle cells need a lot of energy so they have lots of mitochondria. Nerves don’t need a lot of energy to transmit messages so they need only a few mitochondria. When you exercise so intensely that you can’t get all the oxygen you need and you become short of breath, you increase the number, size and efficiency of mitochondria in cells everywhere in your body. Accumulating evidence shows that this helps to prevent overweight, diabetes, heart attacks and certain cancers. It helps to explain why exercise increases memory and nerve function. Exercise also helps to reduce the loss of mitochondria in cells that occurs naturally with aging (Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, April, 2007). See More Mitochondria for Better Athletes

How Accumulating Lactic Acid Helps to Prevent Disease and Prolong Life

Interval training has been used in all endurance sports since the 1920’s. George Brooks of the University of California at Berkeley has shown why interval training makes you a better athlete (American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, June 2006). A major fuel for your muscles during exercise is the sugar, glucose. In a series of chemical reactions, glucose is broken down step by step, with each step releasing energy. When enough oxygen is available, the glucose releases all of its energy until only carbon dioxide and water remain; these are blown off through your lungs. However, if you exercise so intensely that you can’t get all the oxygen you need, the chemical reactions stop at lactic acid which accumulates in the muscles and spills over into the bloodstream. Lactic acid makes muscles acidic and causes a burning feeling that forces you to slow down. Thus lactic acid helps to prevent severe muscle damage by slowing you down when you run low on oxygen.

When you slow down after each intense interval, you catch up on your oxygen debt, and your body uses lactic acid as its most efficient source of energy for muscles. Muscles require less oxygen to turn lactic acid into energy. So when your muscles produce lots of lactic acid, they can use this chemical for energy. This allows you to move faster and stronger for longer periods of time (Sports Medicine, Volume 36, 2006). Anything that helps muscles to break down lactic acid faster will make you a better athlete because it will increase your endurance and allow you to move faster when you are tired (Fed. Proc, 45: 2924-2929, 1986). Lactic acid can also be used by your liver to make even more sugar to feed your muscles during exercise.

How to Do Interval Training

Interval training makes you a much better athlete because it teaches your muscles and liver to use lactate for energy much faster than just doing continuous training (Am. J. Physiol, 244: E83-E92, 1983). The faster you can use up lactic acid,

• the more quickly you relieve the acid burning in muscles that slows you down, and

• the faster you can go because lactate requires less oxygen than even sugar does.

Intense exercise can cause heart attacks in people who have blocked arteries, so before you start, check with your doctor. Then pick any sport that you like. It can be riding a road bicycle or stationary bicycle, walking, jogging, dancing or any other type of continuous exercise.

Background Phase: If you have not been exercising regularly, spend several weeks exercising at a casual pace. Try to exercise every day and exercise until your legs start to feel heavy or hurt and stop. You may go for five minutes on one day, and have to take the next day off because your legs feel sore. You may have a progression of five minutes on one day, then zero on the next day, then 10 minutes, then three minutes. Gradually you should be able to work up to being able to exercise casually for 30 minutes every day and not feel sore. Then you should be able to start training.

Interval Training Phase: Warm up for five to 10 minutes and then gradually pick up the pace. As soon as your legs start to feel heavy or you start to become short of breath, slow down until your legs and breathing recover. Then pick up the pace again and slow down as soon as your legs start to burn or feel heavy or you start to breathe hard. As a general rule, most casual exercisers are better off keeping their intense intervals to less than 30 seconds because they do not suffer much oxygen deprivation to build up a lot of lactic acid over that short a time and therefore are reducing stresses on their bodies. Alternate picking up the pace and slowing down until your legs start to feel heavy or hurt and then you are through for the day. Be patient with your progress and realize that pushing through pain and discomfort can injure you. An injury will usually prevent you from being able to exercise at all. More at Interval Training for Sports

Caution: people with blocked arteries leading to the heart can get a heart attack from intense exercise. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program or making a sudden change in the intensity of your program.

OCT 22

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate for Arthritic Pain

One in ten North Americans suffers from osteoarthritis or degenerative arthritis, a disease in which the currently-used medications, acetaminophen, aspirin and nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, do not slow or reverse the progressive destruction of joints and no cause is known. Over the last two decades, reports have shown that pills containing chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, two components of cartilage, may help alleviate the pain. Three major reviews in the scientific literature claim that the three studies showing that glucosamine relieves pain were poorly designed and therefore cannot be offered as proof of benefit. On the other hand, six studies from Europe and another from the United States show that chondroitin sulfate does help to slow joint destruction and pain caused by osteoarthritis (journal references for these studies).

Several studies show that glucosamine helps control pain, but it is very difficult to test the effect of any drug on pain because a very significant number of people will benefit just as much from placebos. The authors performed a double blind study over six months in which they gave either 1500 mg glucosamine or placebo pills daily to patients with arthritis. Neither the doctors nor the patients knew who received glucosamine. One out of three patients receiving glucosamine had excellent control of their pain. but one out of three people receiving placebos also had the same excellent response. One study in Rheumatology showed that glucosamine is not more effective than a placebo in controlling arthritic pain (8).

Another study in the British medical journal, Lancet, showed that glucosamine helps to retard the breakdown of cartilage. Up to then, studies showed only that glucosamine helps to relieve pain. People with arthritis received either 1500 mg of glucosamine or placebo. X rays of their knees showed that the placebo group lost more distance between the bones of their knees than the glucosamine group.

The ends of bones at the knee joint are covered with cartilage, so the greater the distance between the bones on X ray, the greater the amount of cartilage. There is a serious problem with the study. People with arthritis often cannot fully straighten their knees, so it is impossible to use distance between bones to determine how much cartilage is lost. For example, if a person bends his knees a little, he will have the bones closer together than when he holds his knees straight. That means that anything that blocks pain will allow person to straighten his knees and have a greater distance between the bones at the knee. You should get the same benefit from any pain medicine. Furthermore, the study was sponsored by Rotta Research Group, who could gain millions of dollars from sales promoted by this study.

An earlier editorial in Lancet raises questions about the safety of glucosamine (2). Most research shows that glucosamine can help to relieve some of the pain associated with arthritis (3), but does not help to prevent cartilaginous damage and has not been shown to heal broken cartilage. Therefore, it is no more effective in treating arthritis than aspirin, but costs more than aspirin, but less than most brand name arthritis pain drugs that your doctor prescribes.

Glucosamine helps form aggrecan, the part of cartilage that allows cartilage to swell and shrink, acting like a shock absorber to help protect your knees from the trauma of running and walking. Adding glucosamine to cartilaginous cells in a test tube causes them to increases production of aggrecan (4).

However, in light of this good news, you should know that glucosamine can block the effects of insulin, causing blood sugar levels to rise (5,6,7), increasing likelihood of suffering the side effects of diabetes in susceptible people.

OCT 20 

10 Superfoods to Improve Health, Recovery and Performance

FOOD IS THE FUNDAMENTAL FUEL FOR ANY PERFORMANCE

It gives your body the necessary tools to grow stronger, replenish itself and go the extra mile in all of your daily tasks.

So once you’ve got the basics  nutrition   and clean eating covered, let’s talk about the benefits you can reap from adding so-called superfoods, meaning foods with an unusually high amount of important nutrients. Nutrients you, as an athlete, need in abundance. 

So here’s a list of the Superfoods that have the most benefits 

COCONUT WATER

This beverage isn’t only good for hydration levels (and making you feel like you’re on a miniature vacation). Coconut water is the perfect solution to get back on track after a tough WOD:

Like a primal, healthy version of Gatorade, it will give back the electrolytes you lost sweating. The natural coconut sugar is a great way to quickly replenish the glycogen (= energy) deposits in your muscles, paving the way for efficient muscle recovery and growth.

SKYR

It might be because of a special sort of Icelandic dairy, Skyr. Made from four times the amount of skimmed milk used in yoghurt, it packs a huge amount of calcium and proteins, with next to no carbohydrates and fat, which makes it a perfect fit to hit your protein goals

BERRIES & CHERRIES

As an athlete, you require a lot more anti-oxidants than the sedentary population. Berries and Cherries provide them in abundance, while also catering to your sweet-tooth in a clean way.

Cherries are especially great if you’re working on your endurance: Studies have shown that endurance athletes that drink cherry juice recover more quickly and measurably increase their performance. Way to improve those cardio-WORKOUTS

QUINOA

A pseudo-grain that is actually a seed, Quinoa packs both a decent amount of proteins and complex carbohydrates, as well as essential amino acids, making it a perfect fuel for your body. Its use in sports nutrition is said to reach back all the way to the ancient INCA civilization and their famous warriors, which is not surprising if you look at its further benefits:

manganese

magnesium

iron

zinc

potassium

calcium

All hide in these tiny seeds that can perfectly replace the wheat in your diet.

MATCHA TEA

Made from green tea and usually found as a powder, Matcha is like the Hulk of the superfood family.

Feeling fatigued? Matcha boosts your energy level with a good amount of caffeine. It also contains iron, a mineral that especially athletic females need to maintain their vital functions and stay active. Additionally, it offers tons of important vitamins, calcium for your bones -strength and anti-oxidants to speed up your recovery. And the biggest plus for your six-pack ambitions: catechine, which studies have shown to speed up your metabolism and strengthen the immune system

KIMCHI & FERMENTED FOODS AND DRINKS

Whether you eat them (Sauerkraut; Kimchi) or drink them (Kefir, Kombucha): Fermented foods have a lot more to offer than the fact that you can practically keep them in the fridge forever.

The probiotic bacteria they contain help the balance in your digestive system, helping your stomach get the most nutrients and vitamins from all of the other foods you eat. As an athlete, you’ll be able to digest the ridiculous amounts of food you sometimes eat, without having to compromise on the nutrient absorption. (This also means less supplements.)

ALMONDS

A handful of Almonds after a strenuous your workout is the perfect snack to get your recovery started and your nervous system working properly. They combine healthy, mono-saturated fats and protein with Vitamin E, copper, riboflavin (a B-vitamin athletes need more of), potassium and calcium.

LEAFY GREENS

The superstar in this group is kale, but other leafy greens like spinach are just as good at living up to their healthy image.

Aside from the fact that they’re a low-calorie staple with loads of different minerals, they are also a fantastic source of folate, which is the natural form of folidic acid. This is a key ingredient in helping the body break down proteins and create new ones from the amino acids (hello, muscles!) and also forming new blood cells and DNA.

AVOCADO

‘Truth: Everything tastes better with avocado on top!’

This delicious buttery fruit is full of unaltered, natural fatty acids, a great source of energy after your workout, especially if you’re avoiding carbs. They also contain vitamin A&K, promoting bone and heart-health, a lot of fiber for a functioning gut, and anti-oxidants to prevent soreness

CHIA SEEDS

This Aztec superfood isn’t famous for no good reason!

High levels of healthy omega-3-acids that enhance concentration, plant-based protein for those muscles and fibre to keep you full and nourished when you’re trying to cut body fat.

Calcium and potassium help your recovery process and anti-oxygens prevent inflammation and muscle-soreness. For similar health effects, cutting costs, you can also turn to ground flaxseeds, although they aren’t as easy to turn into a delicious and guilt-free dessert.

OCT 18

7 Nutrition Tips to Help Avoid Illness During Autumn and Winter

The last thing you want when Autumn starts is to be unwell. Use these 7 tips to stay on top form and avoid illness during this important time.

It’s vital to avoid illness after Summer ends, as there’s nothing worse then getting sick when you want to train hard. And it’s this time of year is when athletes are susceptible to getting these Winter nasty’s; upper respiratory infections (URTI’s) and viral infections which are particularly problematic during damp cold mornings and when exercise intensity is high. i.e. CrossFit!

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Although exercise is a powerful tool to reduce the likelihood of infection, the severity can also increase URTI incidence (4), especially post WOD when you’re at your most immunosuppressive.

But why? Why are athletes more susceptible?

Increased exposure to pathogens – Heavy breathing, wounds (hands!) and big group of people can all play a part in higher rates of infection.

Increased stress – Yes I know CrossFit is fun, but it’s also physically stressful. Environmental stress, poor sleep and inadequate diet also play a role in increasing stress levels.

Under nutrition – The biggy is not eating enough and can easily lead to immunodepression and the risk of URTI’s.

But how can nutrition help to avoid illness?

Carbohydrate intake – Plasma glucose helps reduce stress hormones like cortisol, which can inhibit immune function (3). Athletes must be especially aware when training under low glycogen conditions. More reasons not to fear carbs!

Protein – A deficiency in protein can affect replication of proteins that help immune defence (Igs, cytokines). So ensure you have adequate protein throughout the day (2g.kg.day) and look to consume complete proteins where possible.

Fish oil and omega 3 – Omega 3 has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, although more is not necessarily better (8). So eat your oily fish 

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Eat your oily fish!

Micronutrient deficiencies – Even though increased exercise can require additional support (iron, zinc, magnesium), try and be aware of RDA’s. More is not always better so still read the label!

Vitamin D – There’s good evidence to show how vitamin D can help with respiratory infections (7). During winter months when Vit D is chronically low (especially in the UK!), supplementation is important to help reach adequate amounts. There’s also a relationship with adequate vitamin D and saliva IgA, which is the first line of defence against infection.

Fluid – Dehydration can lead to stress hormone secretion (cortisol) inducing potential infection. Saliva flow rate also maintains Iga, so drink water even if you’re not thirsty.

Probiotics may reduce URTI’s, however, the athlete must consider the strain, quantity, quality and storage. More is not necessarily better (1).

Anything else you should be doing to help reduce the chances of infection?

Minimise hand to mouth contact and improve hygiene Wash your hands!

Medical support – immunisation

Avoid rapid weight loss

Reduce stress and look to improve sleep

Stop or reduce training when you’re feeling run down, be smart about your recovery

OCT 12

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OCT 11

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OCT 8

How Exercise Affects Your Immunity

Most competitive athletes follow a stress and recover training program and so should you, even if you don’t compete in sports. To make muscles stronger, you need to exercise intensely enough to damage them, and to increase your ability to take in and use oxygen, you need to exercise hard enough to become short of breath. However, several recent studies show that if you don’t follow your hard workouts with easy ones, you may suppress your immunity to increase risk for developing infections such as colds and increase your chances of injuring yourself.

This month a study shows that taking intense workouts reduces the immunities of elite soccer players by lowering salivary levels of Immunoglobulin A (IgA), an antibody in your body secretions that prevents germs from entering your tissues and bloodstream (Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, September 2016;30(9):2460–2469). The same reduction in salivary IgA occurred in football players after games (Journal of Sports Sciences, August 2015). It has also been shown in ordinary exercisers (who are not competitive athletes) when they take intense workouts on consecutive days without allowing time for recovery (Frontiers in Physiology, June 28, 2016). IgA is found in tears, saliva, and secretions in your stomach, intestine, colon, bronchial tubes, and skin as a first line of defense to prevent germs from entering your bloodstream. Having prolonged low levels of IgA can predict infections in the future.

The researchers also found that consecutive intense workouts reduce levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines, which are proteins produced by white blood cells that act to dampen inflammation (“turn down your immune response”). These are the chemicals that control the strength of your immune response to invading germs. Having low levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines increases the chances of your immunity attacking your body in the same way that it tries to kill germs, which can lead to the various “auto-immune” diseases.

Other studies show that consecutive days of intense exercise also reduce the number of white blood cells that defend you against invading germs. All these changes increase your chances of developing an overtraining syndrome in which your muscles hurt and you feel exhausted all the time. Overtraining suppresses your immunity to increase risk for infections, excessive muscle damage and delayed recovery from workouts.

Your immunity is lowered by taking too many consecutive intense or very long-duration workouts, not taking enough rest periods, and not stopping a workout when your muscles burn and hurt or you feel excessively tired.

How Muscles Heal after Intense Exercise

Muscles are made up of hundreds of thousands of individual fibers. To make muscles stronger, you have to damage them. Then when they heal, they become larger and stronger. You can tell that you are damaging a muscle during exercise by the burning you feel in the muscles, and the soreness you feel in that muscle on the next day. If you take an easy workout when your muscles feel sore, your muscle will become stronger. If you take an intense workout on sore muscles, you can tear them and become injured.

The healing of muscles damaged by intense exercise is governed by your immune system:

• The exact same cells and cytokines that kill germs initiate the healing process.

• When you feel sore after intense exercise, your immune system goes into high gear to heal the damaged muscle tissue.

• If you do another intense workout when you feel sore and are trying to heal, your body senses that you are causing further damage, so it reduces the amount of white blood cells and proteins that initiate muscle healing.

• Your body reduces your immune reactions because if your immunity stays active all the time, it can attack your healthy tissues in the same way that it attacks germs. This is called inflammation and can lead to the many “auto-immune” diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammation can also lead to a heart attack because your overactive immunity can punch holes in arteries, which starts the formation of plaques. Cancer can be caused by your immunity attacking your own cells to damage the DNA genetic material that controls cell growth. Damaged DNA can cause uncontrolled growth which is cancer.

How Exercise Strengthens your Immunity

When you are exercising properly by taking hard workouts to strengthen your muscles followed by easy workouts to allow your muscles to heal, you are also strengthening your immunity. When you damage muscles with hard exercise, your immunity uses the same white blood cells and proteins that attack and kill germs to start the healing process, so vigorous exercise turns on your immunity in the same way that an infection does. Then to keep your immunity from being too active and using the same chemicals to damage you, you produce anti-inflammatory chemicals to dampen down your immunity. A proper training program of vigorous exercise followed by an easy workout strengthens your immunity by turning it up and down.

Listen to Your Body

After intense exercise, you should expect to feel sore because of the muscle damage, which is good for you. If you do another intense workout when you are trying to heal, your body senses that you are causing further damage. Your body reduces the same white blood cells and proteins that you use to kill germs and heal damaged muscles.

• Try to alternate harder workouts with easy recovery ones on consecutive days.

• If you are training properly, expect to feel sore every morning when you wake up. If your muscles feel better after a 5-10 minute warm up, take your planned workout.

• If you don’t feel better during your warm up, go home because continuing to exercise will only increase your chances of injuring yourself.

OCT 4

Eat Before Intense Workouts and Competitions
 
An excellent study from the United Kingdom shows that eating before intense exercise causes your body to:• burn more carbohydrates during exercise, and• digest, absorb, and metabolize more carbohydrates that you eat after exercising(American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism, August 14, 2018). The researchers had 12 healthy males cycle for an hour, two hours after eating cooked oatmeal with milk . On another day, the same men cycled for an hour after skipping breakfast.All athletes learn sooner or later that they need to eat within three hours before an intense workout or competition. There is some evidence that exercising after fasting may help your muscles retain and process sugar during controlled non-intense recovery exercise (Sports Med, Mar 2017;47(3):415-428), but you cannot do a substantial intense workout after fasting.Eating Breakfast Helps You Move Faster and Exercise LongerDuring exercise, your muscles get their energy from carbohydrates, fats and, to a lesser degree, protein. The limiting factor to how fast you can move over distance is the time it takes to move oxygen into muscles. Since carbohydrates require less oxygen than fats do to power your muscles, you go faster over distance with the greater percentage of carbohydrates your muscles use for energy. When you lie in bed not moving, your muscles get most of their energy from fat, but when you are running at 100 percent effort, your muscles obtain almost 100 percent of their energy from carbohydrates (sugar).Most people have enough fat in their body to supply them with energy for weeks, even if they are very thin. However, you have only a very meager supply of sugar in your body, stored primarily in your liver and muscles. After you take an intense workout, your muscles and liver will have used up a lot of the sugar stored in them. The faster you replenish the sugar in your muscles and liver, the faster you will recover to be able to take your next intense workout. Eating breakfast before a workout helps you process the sugar in your after-work out meal faster, which will help you recover faster.Bonking and Hitting the WallYour brain needs a constant source of sugar to function. However, there is only enough sugar in your bloodstream to supply your brain with energy for three minutes, so your liver has to constantly supply your blood with sugar to maintain blood sugar levels. However, there is only enough sugar in your liver to last about 12 hours if you lie in bed and do not move, and when you are exercising intensely, there is only enough sugar in your liver to last about 50 minutes. That is why athletes in all competitions lasting more than 50 minutes should take a source of sugar during their events, or they are at risk for suddenly passing out from low blood sugar levels. Endurance athletes, particularly cyclists, call this “bonking”.There is only enough sugar in your muscles to run about 18 miles and the faster you run, the sooner your muscles run out of stored sugar so they will feel stiff and heavy. Runners call this “hitting the wall”. Recent research suggests that “hitting the wall” may actually be caused by low blood sugar, not low muscle sugar. However, the rules remain the same; you should take a source of sugar during any competition lasting longer than 50 minutes.My RecommendationsDuring sustained high-intensity sports lasting less than an hour, you can benefit just by rinsing your mouth with a sugared drink. A sugary taste in your mouth sends messages to your brain to make your muscles work harder. For 1-2 hour competitions, you should take at least 30 to 60 grams of sugar per hour in food, gels or drinks. For events lasting more than 2.5 hours, you may need to take in at least 90 grams of sugar per hour (Journal of Sports Science, June 9, 2011;29(sup1):S17-S27).All serious exercisers and competitive athletes use some form of stress and recovery in their training. You will achieve a much higher level of fitness by alternating more intense workouts on one day with slow and easy recovery workouts on the next day. You should always eat before intense workouts and competitions. There is weak evidence that fasting before slow recovery workouts may help your body process sugar better, but I do not recommend doing this because it can make your workouts fatiguing and uncomfortable.

OCT 1

Breakfast Skippers Have More Plaques

A new study surveyed more than 4,000 adults ages 40 to 54 about their breakfast habits and then checked them for heart attack risk factors. The researchers found that people who eat a large percentage of their total daily calories for breakfast have the fewest heart attack risk factors, while those who skip breakfast are more likely to have plaques in their arteries and other heart attack risk factors (J of the Am Coll of Cardiology, Oct 2, 2017). Several previous studies show that breakfast skippers are more likely to be overweight and to suffer from diabetes and heart attacks (Circulation, July 22, 2013). The researchers think that skipping breakfast may “serve as a marker for a general unhealthy diet or lifestyle, which in turn is associated with the development and progression of atherosclerosis.”

Study Results

• 27 percent of the study participants reported that they ate a large breakfast (more than 20 percent of their daily calories)

• 70 percent ate a light breakfast (less than 20 percent of their daily calories)

• 3 percent skipped breakfast

The researchers used ultrasound to determine how much plaque these people had in the arteries in their bellies, necks and legs. They found increased plaque size and thickness in:

• 57 percent of those who ate a large breakfast

• 64 percent of those who ate a light breakfast

• 75 percent of those who skipped breakfast

Those who skipped breakfast also had higher BMIs (measure of fatness), greater waist circumferences (belly fat), higher blood pressures, higher triglycerides and higher fasting blood sugars (diabetes).

The authors found that people who skipped breakfast had lots of unhealthy habits and felt that their increased risk for heart attacks might be caused by all of their bad habits, not just skipping breakfast, so they adjusted their data to correct for smoking, drinking, cholesterol levels, waist circumference and daily intake of red meat and salt, as well as age and gender. Correcting for all of their unhealthful habits did not change the results. Unquestionably, skipping breakfast was associated with having bigger and thicker plaques in the arteries throughout their bodies

Why a Big Breakfast May Improve Heart Attack Risk Factors

It is more healthful to move about after you eat than it is to sit still or go to sleep. Your blood sugar rises after you eat and high rises in blood sugar can increase risk for obesity, diabetes and heart attacks. A high rise in blood sugar causes the pancreas to release large amounts of insulin, which converts excess sugar to a type of fat called triglycerides that can be stored as fat in your body to make you fat.

Resting muscles use almost no blood sugar and what little sugar does go into your resting muscles requires insulin to do so. When you contract your muscles after you eat, the muscles lower your blood sugar levels by drawing large amounts of sugar into their cells, and they do not even need insulin to draw the sugar in. For a detailed explanation, see Eat Before or After Exercising to Prevent a High Rise in Blood Sugar

Another possible explanation is suggested by a new study that showed changing the times of day or night that mice were fed affected the bacterial content of their colons and their weight (Am J Obstet Gynecol, Aug 2017;217(2):218.e1-218.e15). Many other studies have shown that the types of bacteria in the colon influence weight and other heart attack risk factors.

My Recommendations

Most people are far more active early in the day and slow down late in the day, so people who skip breakfast are likely to take in their calories later in the day when they are sitting or even just before they go to sleep. The safest time to eat is when you are most active and that is usually earlier in the day. The least healthful time to eat is just before you go to bed at night. My breakfast is usually whole-grain cooked-breakfast cereal such as oatmeal or barley with nuts and fruit

SEPT 24

When to Take Your Blood Pressure

Knowing when to take your blood pressure can help you predict your likelihood of suffering a heart attack. We know that having high blood pressure markedly increases your risk for heart attacks. Blood pressure is usually lowest just before you go to bed at night and when you first wake up in the morning. People can have high blood pressure only during the day or only at bedtime or during both the day and at bedtime.

In a recent study, researchers followed 891 patients, average age 64, for 4.7 years, with both high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis (Blood Pressure, April 2014;23(2):96-101). Since blood pressure is usually lower at bedtime, normal values for blood pressure during the day were defined as 140/90 and during bed-time 120/70. In this study, 25.7 percent of the subjects had normal daytime BP (less than 140/90), and 37.8 percent had a normal night-time BP (less than 120/70). They found that having high blood pressure during the day increased chance of dying of a heart attack by 180 percent, while high blood pressure at bed time increased the chance of dying of a heart attack by 163 percent.

My Recommendations

Take your blood pressure during the day and also during bed-time for a week. If the average value is higher than 140/90 during the day, or 120/70 at bed time, or both, you have high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, you usually need to:

• lose weight,

• eat a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables,

• avoid sugared drinks and sugar-added foods, red meat and fried foods,

• get plenty of exercise,

• get your blood levels of hydroxy-vitamin D above 75 nmol/L.

Your doctor may also prescribe medication until your lifestyle changes bring your blood pressure back to normal.

SEPT 20

How To Run Faster

If you don’t run very fast in practice, you won’t be able to run very fast in races.

At the University of Copenhagen, Danish scientists studied experienced runners who had been running 60 miles a week at a fast pace. One group was told to cut their mileage in half to only 30 miles a week, but to run a series of around 50 to 100 yard dashes as fast as they could. The other group continued running 60 miles a week at a fast pace. Runners who ran fewer miles at a faster pace had a 7 percent improvement in their body’s maximal ability to take in and use oxygen.

Runners who did not increase their speed in practice did not improve, even though they ran twice as many miles. Jogging slowly reduces your chance of injury, but it won’t help you to run fast. You can race only as fast as you run in practice, but don’t try to run fast every day. Intense exercise damages muscles. Try to run fast once or twice a week, never on consecutive days and don’t run fast when your legs feel heavy or hurt.

When I trained seriously for marathon running, I thought that the runner who ran the most miles would be the best. I didn’t become a great runner, but I did become an expert on injuries. My patients seldom come to me with a running injury that I haven’t had.

Many top runners run more than 100 miles a week because their bodies have the genetic ability to withstand such abuse, but the vast majority of runners will never be able to run 100 miles a week without being injured frequently. Furthermore, running a lot of miles slowly will slow you in races. The ability to run fast in races depends more on how fast you run in practice than on how many miles you run each week. However, every time you run fast, your muscles are damaged and feel sore on the next day, and it takes at least 48 hours for your muscles to heal enough to allow you to run comfortably again at a very-fast pace. After every workout in which you run very fast, take the next day off or run at a much slower pace. Most top athletes plan their workouts so they run very fast only two days a week. The same principles apply to any endurance sport.

Twelfth European Track Coaches Congress Acoteias, Portugal pp10-16. RRN January, 1991

SEPT 13

How to Keep Your Maximum Heart Rate Up as You Age

Your maximum heart rate is the fastest your heart can beat and still pump blood effectively through your body. As you age, your maximum heart rate drops. This means that your heart is weaker and more susceptible to damage, and you can’t exercise as fast over distance as you could when you were younger.

How fast you can run, cycle, ski or swim over distance is limited by the time that it takes to move oxygen into your muscles. Your heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to your muscles, so the faster your heart can beat, the more blood it can pump to your muscles and the faster you can move. Exercise physiologists use your maximum heart rate to determine your level of fitness and guide the intensity of training. This month a study from Ball State University in Indiana shows that exercising as you age slows down the loss of maximum heart rate (Med Sci Sports Exerc, Jan, 2016;48(1):73-81). Keeping your maximum heart rate up means that your heart is stronger, which allows you to exercise faster and longer. Exercising as you age can also prolong your life and help prevent heart attacks, cancers, strokes, diabetes, overweight and more.

The Study

Nearly 650 healthy men and women, ages 18-80, not taking any heart-rate-altering medications, completed two treadmill all-out efforts at least one year apart. The older participants had lower average maximum heart rates, but those who were most fit and had the highest values had the least drop in their maximum heart rates over the year regardless of age.

How to Increase your Maximum Heart Rate

The standard Maximum Heart Rate Formula (220 – Age) is based on averages and is not accurate. You can beat these averages if you exercise effectively. Your actual maximum heart rate depends more on the strength of your legs than it does on the strength of your heart. When you contract your leg muscles, they squeeze against the blood vessels near them to pump blood from your leg veins toward your heart. When your leg muscle relax, your leg veins fill with blood. When you exercise, your leg muscles pump increased amounts of blood toward your heart. This increased volume of blood fills the heart which causes your heart to beat faster and stronger. This is called the Bainbridge reflex. The stronger your legs are, the more blood they can pump back to your heart, which causes your heart to beat faster. More on Maximum Heart Rate Formula

Maximum heart rate formulae can be used to help you plan and monitor your exercise program, but they should not be interpreted as absolute limits or goals. If you want to train to become faster by increasing your maximum heart rate, you should follow a program based on “stress and recover”. To increase your maximum heart rate, you need to become short of breath at some time during your exercise. However, when you exercise at high intensity, you damage muscles and have to allow time for them to recover. If you don’t allow muscles to recover, you can become injured and can develop an overuse syndrome in which you are exhausted and won’t be able to exercise at all.

My Recommendations

I believe that all healthy people should use some variation of a stress-and-recover exercise program, in which they damage their muscles by going a little harder and faster on one day, then feel soreness in their muscles and go much slower on the next day. When their muscles feel fresh again, they can take another intense workout. For example, a runner may warm up by going slowly and then run a little faster for 50 strides, then slow down until he recovers his breath and his muscles feel fresh, and then alternate the faster and slower runs until his legs start to feel heavy or hurt. On the next day, his muscles should feel sore and he either takes the day off or runs very slowly. He should try to set up a program in which he goes faster on one day and much slower on the next.

• A hard day means getting short of breath and feeling some burning in your muscles.

• An easy day means that you do not become short of breath and should not feel muscle soreness as you continue to exercise. If your legs feel heavy after you warm up, take a day off from exercising.

• You don’t need to know your maximum heart rate.

• You don’t need to use a maximum heart rate formula to govern your training.

• You don’t need a heart rate monitor.

• All training should be governed by how you feel.

• Never train intensely when your muscles feel worse as you continue to exercise.

Caution: People who have narrowed arteries leading to the heart can suffer heart attacks when they exercise intensely. All vigorous exercisers must learn when to back off of training because not allowing enough time to recover from hard exercise can damage your heart muscle as well as your skeletal muscles. Check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program or making a sudden change in the intensity of your existing program.

SEPT 7

Exercisers Should Follow a Heart-Healthy Diet

A study of 798 asymptomatic and apparently healthy master athletes (runners, cyclists, triathletes, rowers and hockey players), 35+ years old, who exercised fairly vigorously 3-7 days a week, found that 10 percent had greater than 70 percent blockage of the arteries leading to their hearts (BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 2018;4 (1):e000370). This does not mean that exercise increases risk for a heart attack. Exercise helps to prevent heart attacks, but exercise does not prevent plaques from forming in arteries. This study reminds us that even master athletes should follow a heart healthy diet.

Heart attacks are not caused by narrowed arteries. They are caused by plaques suddenly breaking off from a heart artery, followed by bleeding, and then a clot forms that suddenly and completely blocks all blood flow to a part of the heart muscle. The part of the heart muscle suddenly deprived of oxygen then dies, which is a heart attack. Exercise helps to prevent heart attacks by making plaques more stable so they do not break off as easily. However, a healthful diet, not exercise, prevents plaques from forming. Everyone should follow a heart-healthy diet, especially if you have risk factors for a heart attack such as:

• a family history of heart attacks

• chest pain

• irregular heartbeats

• a big belly (particularly if you also have small buttocks)

• high blood pressure

• high cholesterol

• high blood sugar

Amount of Exercise Does Not Determine Amount of Plaques

A group of men over 60 who had run marathons for 26-34 years and completed 27-171 marathons had plaques in their arteries in amounts that were related to their own risk factors for heart attacks and not to the number of miles or marathons they had run (Med & Sci in Sports & Ex, July 17, 2017). This suggests that plaques in arteries are not related to the amount of endurance training, but are caused by other factors such as a pro-inflammatory diet, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or tobacco use.

A Diet to Prevent Plaques

Master athletes burn a lot of calories, so they can be expected to eat more food than sedentary people do. If they eat a lot of sugar or a lot of meat, they can expect to have plaques in their arteries. A diet that is high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts is associated with reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, while less healthful diets that are high in sweets, refined grains, juices, red meats and processed meats are associated with increased risk (Journal of the American College of Cardiology, July 2017; 70(4)).

How Doctors Measure Plaque Stability

A CT scan can show how stable plaques are (American Journal of Roentgenology, March 2015;204(3):W249-W260). X rays and sonograms can also show the difference between stable plaques that are safe and those that are unstable and more likely to break off to cause heart attacks. Stable plaques contain more calcium and are smoother and more homogeneous than unstable plaques. The radiologist estimates plaque stability by looking for an extensive calcification cap on the outside of the plaque, less lipid-rich areas inside the plaque, increased fibrous areas and less structural change. See Exercisers Have More Stable Plaques

My Recommendations

• To help prevent or reduce plaque formation, follow a heart-attack-preventing diet that is high in anti-inflammatory foods and low in pro-inflammatory foods. This means that you should eat plenty of plants and restrict red meat, processed meats, sugar-added foods, all sugared drinks and fried foods.

• Avoid overweight

• Do not smoke

• Limit or avoid alcohol

• To stabilize existing plaques and widen your coronary arteries, try to exercise every day for at least a half hour a day. Exercising more than that may be even more protective.

Caution: Intense exercise can cause a heart attack in people with blocked arteries. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program or increasing the intensity of your existing program.

 

SEPT 5

Lack of Vitamin D May Harm Exercisers

A new study in mice shows that having low levels of vitamin D may harm athletes and exercisers by limiting how long they can exercise (Aging, June 2018). Six-month old mice were put on a low vitamin D diet for one year. A six-month-old mouse is equivalent to a 25 year old human and one mouse-year equals 25 human-years. After two weeks, the mice on the low vitamin D diet developed blood levels of vitamin D under 15 ng/ml, (equivalent to low levels in humans), where they remained for the entire study. They did not lose strength, but they lost a lot of their endurance (their ability to sustain exercise). The authors believe that this implies a decrease in their ability to take in and use oxygen. The mice also lost some muscle size. This study may be important for humans because vitamin D deficiency disease is defined as less than 12 ng/ml and vitamin D insufficiency borderline disease is less than 20 ng/ml. More than 35 percent of North Americans have these low levels, particularly in the winter.

Lack of Vitamin D Associated with Muscle and Tendon Injuries

During my competitive running career, I spent more time injured than training because of wintertime muscle injuries in Boston and Washington, D.C. Many years later, I found the probable cause: my wintertime vitamin D3 blood level was below 20 ng/ml (normal for the general population is >20 ng/ml and for athletes may be >30). Since I moved to Florida nine years ago, I have not had even one wear-and-tear sports injury. I now know that people genetically susceptible to vitamin D deficiency are the ones most likely to suffer muscle weakness, injuries and poor athletic performance. Many exercisers and competitive athletes are vitamin D deficient even if they live in the sunbelt.

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with:

• decreased athletic performance (Molecular Aspects of Medicine, June 2005;26(3):203-219),

• muscle weakness (Scandinavia Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, Oct 2009), and

• increased risk for athletic injuries (Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, November 2009; Molecular Aspects of Medicine, December 2008; Arthroscopy, Dec 21, 2017).

Genetics and Vitamin D Deficiency

A report from the University of Toronto showed that genetic factors cause some people to develop signs and symptoms of severe vitamin D deficiency (Clinical Biochemistry, July 2009). People who are genetically at increased risk for vitamin D deficiency are at increased risk for injuries when they try to exercise vigorously in the winter. Lack of vitamin D can weaken muscles (Lancet, Mar 1976;20;1(7960):626-9) and taking that vitamin can correct that weakness (Aging-Clinical and Experimental Research, December 2000;12(6):455–460). Vitamin D acts directly on specific receptors in muscles to make them stronger and to help prevent injuries (Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, April 2010;20(2):182-90).

How Lack of Vitamin D is More Harmful in Older People

As people age, they become increasingly susceptible to muscle weakness and falls caused by lack of vitamin D (Molecular Aspects of Medicine, June 2005). Muscles are made of thousands of individual fibers that are classified into two types: slow twitch fibers that govern endurance and fast twitch fibers that govern primarily strength and speed. Vitamin D specifically helps to maintain the function of the fast twitch strength fibers (Calcif Tissue Int, 2013;92:151–162). With aging, you lose muscle fiber; for example, the vastus medialis muscle in the front of the upper leg typically has about 800,000 fibers in a 20 year old, but only 250,000 in a 60 year old. Vitamin D slows this loss of muscle fibers, preserves muscle strength and helps to prevent falls, while lack of vitamin D increases loss of fibers, muscle weakness and falls (Pediatric Clinics of North America, June 2010).

Current Guidelines

The Institute of Medicine recommends 600–800 IU of vitamin D per day for adults and that blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D do not need to be higher than 20ng/ml (Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes, Dec 2016;23(6):440-444). Higher blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D do not make bones stronger than lower blood levels as they do not reduce levels of parathyroid hormone or bone resorption (Curr Rheumatol Rep, June 2011;13(3):257-64).

There is no proven benefit from taking doses of vitamin D >1000 IU/day or having very high blood levels (>30ng/ml). Raising blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D from 20 to 30 ng/ml with high doses of vitamin D pills increases calcium absorption by only one percent and does not increase bone mineral density or physical function, compared with placebo (Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes, Dec 2016;23(6):440-444). High doses of vitamin D can cause nausea, constipation, kidney stones, frequent urination, muscle weakness, irregular heartbeats and possibly arteriosclerosis. A study from Denmark showed that very high blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D (above 140 ng/ml) are associated with increased risk of premature death (J Clin Endocrinol Metab, Aug 2012;97(8):2644-52).

High-dose vitamin D3 supplements (70,000 IU/wk for 12 weeks) caused a significant increase of a toxic vitamin D metabolite called 24,25[OH] vitamin D, reduced parathyroid levels and decreased body responses to vitamin D (Med Sci Sports Exerc, Feb, 2017;49(2):349-356). Large doses (4000 IU/day) of vitamin D did not slow declining physical function in sedentary men over 70 (Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 11/22/2016). For most people, high dose vitamin D pills (greater than 2000 IU/day) are not going to improve health and may even harm you (N Engl J Med, Nov 10, 2016;375:1817-1820).

Proposed Uses of Vitamin D for Specific Conditions

Several studies recommend vitamin D supplementation for specific populations or symptoms:

• People with generalized muscle and joint pain and blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D below 20 ng/ml (International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases, 11/21/2016)

• Women with postmenopausal osteoporosis (Bone, 11/10/2016)

• People with muscle and joint pain from an auto-immune disease called lupus, who also have a positive anti-nuclear antibody titer and low blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D (Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, 11/17/2016)

• Elderly inactive people who do not go outdoors; 56 studies involving almost 100,000 people over 70 showed that taking 800 IU of vitamin D pills is associated with a slightly prolonged lifespan (Cochrane Database Syst Rev, Jan 2014;10;(1):CD007470)

• Hospitalized, critically ill adult patients with hydroxy vitamin D levels below 20 ng/ml (Journal of Critical Care, 11/14/2016)

• People with muscle pain from taking statin drugs to lower cholesterol, who also have blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D below 20 ng/ml (Atherosclerosis, Nov 22, 2016)

• Diabetics with high blood cholesterol (LDL over 100) and low blood hydroxy vitamin D (<20 ng/ml) (Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome Nov 22, 2016)

• Possibly long-term care residents over 70; may help to prevent respiratory infections (Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Nov 22, 2016)

My Recommendations

You probably do not need to take vitamin D pills if your blood level of hydroxy vitamin D is above 20 ng/ml unless you have a condition that your doctor feels puts you at increased risk for the signs and symptoms of a deficiency. You can take up to 1000 IU/day of vitamin D pills if your blood levels are below 30 ng/ml. Most researchers and clinicians now feel that, with few exceptions, high doses of vitamin D are not beneficial and are potentially harmful. People who could possibly benefit from treating low blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D (<20 ng/ml) include those who:

• are inactive and do not go outdoors

• suffer from generalized muscle and joint pain

• are athletes with recurrent injuries and decreased performance

• have weak bones (osteoporosis)

• are diabetic, particularly if LDL cholesterol is over 100

• have an auto-immune disease

• are critically ill or debilitated

• suffer from muscle pain from taking statin drugs

I believe that sunlight offers benefits that cannot be obtained just by taking vitamin D pills, but take proper precautions to avoid skin cancer.

AUG 20

Calculate Your Fitness Age

VO2max can be used to predict a person’s risk of premature death from a heart attack. Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have developed a simple way to estimate a person’s VO2max, his maximal ability to take in and use oxygen (Med Sci Sports Exerc, November 2011;43(11):2024-30).

The researchers had 4637 healthy adults, average age near 50, run to exhaustion on a treadmill and measured their VO2max (a complicated test that measures oxygen and carbon dioxide concentrations). They then developed a formula that correlated very well with the subjects’ actual VO2max, based on their

* sex and age,

* exercise habits,

* resting heart rate and

* waist circumference.

VO2max Predicts Fitness Age

Now the researchers have figured out the average VO2 max for a healthy person at every age from 20 to 90 and used these numbers to calculate fitness age which predicts how long a person is expected to live. Their Fitness Calculator is available (free) at http://www.ntnu.edu/cerg/vo2max

Enter your answers to the simple questions: How often do you exercise? How long? How hard? Your age? Waistline? Resting heart rate?

The calculator quickly gives you your estimated VO2max and your fitness age.

How We Fared

Gabe at 78 had an 81 cm. abdominal circumference and a resting heart rate of 48. His estimated VO2max was 50 and fitness age was 35.

Diana at 71, had a 65 cm. abdominal circumference and a resting heart rate of 50. Her estimated VO2max was 50 and fitness age was 23.

Here is our exercise program: we exercise every day for two to three hours. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, we race flat out on a tandem bicycle for 25 miles. On the other four days Gabe does 30-second intervals with two-minute recoveries until his legs start to stiffen. Diana takes a longer ride with some intervals interspersed.  We cycle an average 150 miles per week and go to the gym 3-4 times a week to use the strength-training machines.

Vigorous Exercise Slows Aging

Studies from all over the world show that intense exercise maintains fitness. People who do not exercise lose 15 percent of their fitness per decade, those who exercise at low intensity lose nine percent, while those who exercise intensely barely lose any fitness at all.

Increasing intensity makes you more fit. If you go out and jog the same two miles at the same pace every day, you will not improve and you will not be very fit. However, if you go faster on one day, feel sore on the next day, go slowly until the soreness disappears, and then go fast again, you will become more fit on every measure of fitness, and also perform better on the tests that measure aging.

However, with increased intensity comes increased risk of injury. Before you start an intense exercise program, and before you start lifting heavier weights, running faster, jumping higher, throwing further, hitting a tennis ball harder, or doing anything that requires increased intensity, check with your doctor. The only problem with this recommendation is that the odds are overwhelming that your doctor won’t know very much about sports, training, or improving physical fitness. But you should at least check with him or her to see if you have any condition that could be aggravated by hard exercise.

AUG 14

The More Vegetables, the Better
 

Researchers followed 38,981 adults for 16 years (1999-2014) and found that those who ate the most vegetables and the widest variety of vegetables, particularly dark green vegetables, had the lowest rate of heart attacks and heart disease (Nutrition Journal, July 10, 2018;17:67). For more than 60 years, research has shown that a high-fiber diet helps to prevent heart attacks and many other diseases (American Journal of Epidemiology, Dec 1, 1987;126(6):1093–1102). Studies show that many of the impressive health benefits from eating vegetables, beans, whole grains and fruits come from the short chain fatty acids produced when bacteria in your colon ferment soluble fiber from plants.

Short-Chain Fatty Acids from Soluble Fiber

Vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and whole grains all contain fiber. Insoluble fiber passes through your body without being absorbed into your bloodstream, but breakdown products from soluble fiber can be absorbed even though humans lack the enzymes necessary to digest soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is not absorbed in your upper intestinal tract, so it passes to your colon where bacteria do have the enzymes to break it down into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs reduce inflammation to help prevent diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers and other life-shortening diseases (Front Microbiol, Feb 17, 2016;7:185).

The Bacteria in Your Gut

Your colon contains more than 13 trillion bacteria that help to control your immunity, digestion and just about everything that happens in our body. You have good bacteria that help to keep you healthy and bad bacteria that can make you sick. As a general rule, the good bacteria are happy to eat the same foods that you do and do not try to invade the cells lining your colon, while the bad bacteria try to invade the cells in your colon. The invading bad bacteria turn on your immunity that tries to kill them and prevent these harmful germs from getting out of your colon and into other parts of your body.

What you eat determines the types of bacteria that thrive in your gut. Soluble fiber in plants promotes the growth of the good bacteria, so when you eat lots of plants, you will have a large colony of these bacteria to convert soluble fiber into SCFAs that have immense health benefits (J Lipid Res, Sept 2013;54(9):2325-40). The good bacteria produce large amounts of SCFAs that feed the more good bacteria and help them to multiply. The SCFAs also:

• reduce inflammation

• help to lower high levels of blood sugar and cholesterol

• possibly reduce hunger

• cause your intestinal linings to produce the beneficial mucous that lines your colon to help prevent the bad bacteria from growing there.

The more vegetables and fruits you eat, the higher the stool levels of SCFAs (Gut, Nov 2016;65(11):1812-1821).

How SCFAs Help to Prevent Disease

Heart Disease: Many studies show that high-fiber diets help to prevent and treat heart disease by reducing inflammation. Your immunity helps to protect you by producing white blood cells and cytokines that kill invading germs when they try to enter your cells. As soon as the invading germ is gone, your immunity is supposed to dampen down. However, if your immunity stays active all the time, it uses the same white blood cells and cytokines to attack your own cells. It can punch holes in the inner lining of arteries to start plaques forming there to increase risk for a heart attack. A constantly active immunity is called inflammation and SCFAs help to reduce inflammation (Nutrients, 2011 Oct; 3(10): 858–876).

Diabetes: After three months on a high-fiber diet, the bacteria in the colons of diabetics changed to be dominated by the 15 known strains of bacteria that convert soluble fiber into SCFAs that lower high blood sugar and cholesterol levels (Science, Mar 9, 2018:359(6380):1151-1156). Diabetics placed on a high-fiber diet had lower fasting blood sugar levels, far lower blood sugars after eating, a greater drop in blood levels of HbA1c that measures cell damage from diabetes, and significant weight loss. Even though fruits are high in sugar, limited amounts of fruit can help to prevent and treat diabetes because their soluble fiber is converted to SCFAs (Diabetes Care, July 2008).

Colon Cancer: A high plant diet is associated with a marked reduction in colon cancer (Epidem Reviews, Jan 1, 1993;15(2):499–545). SCFAs prevent colon cancer in laboratory animals (Mutat Res, Jul-Aug 2009;682(1):39-53). Placing mice on a high-fiber diet that markedly increased SCFAs reduced colon cancer risk by more than 75 percent, but only if the mice had SCFA-producing bacteria in their guts. This study suggests that soluble fiber does not help to prevent colon cancer unless you also have lots of the good bacteria in your gut to convert it to SCFAs (Cancer Discov, Dec, 2014;4(12):1387–1397).

Obesity: SCFAs promote weight loss in animals (Diabetes, 2009 Jul; 58(7):1509–1517) and possibly in humans by decreasing fat storage (J Lipid Res, Sep 2013;54(9):2325-40.)

SCFAs from Plants, not Supplements

If SCFAs have so many benefits, why not just take SCFA supplements? Nobody has shown that SCFA supplements are an effective substitute for eating plants that contain lots of soluble fiber. SCFAs are readily absorbed throughout your entire intestinal tract, so SCFAs in pills will be absorbed in your upper intestinal tract and never reach your colon (PNAS, October 28, 2008;105(43):16767-16772). Therefore, SCFA supplements have not been shown to help colonize healthful bacteria in your colon as soluble fiber in plants does.

My Recommendations

This new study suggests that whatever else you choose to do with your diet, you should eat a large amount and a wide variety of vegetables. I believe that everyone should eat lots of plants — vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts and any other edible plant parts. Among their many benefits, plants help to prevent disease and prolong lives by increasing colonic bacterial production of SCFAs that reduce inflammation.

AUG 2

Preventing Kidney Stones

The American College of Physicians has just released recommendations for people who have had kidney stones (Ann Intern Med, November 4, 2014;161(9):659-667). Thirteen percent of North American men and seven percent of women suffer from kidney stones, which can be incredibly painful as stones pass from the kidneys to the outside. Those who get one stone have a 50 percent chance of passing another stone in five years.

Eighty percent of kidney stones contain calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate, or both. Other stones consist of struvite, uric acid, or cystine. Surprisingly, a review of 36 studies shows that stone recurrence is not prevented by assessing the chemical type of stone or doing blood and urine chemistries other than calcium levels. Here are the current recommendations for preventing kidney stones:

• Drink enough water to make you urinate at least eight cups of urine per day. Strong evidence shows that this is the most effective step in preventing kidney stones. Do not waste your money on expensive low-mineral waters; they offer no advantage over ordinary tap water.

• Avoid soft drinks that contain phosphoric acid, which increases stone formation. Read the labels. Drinks that are acidified with citric acid (fruit-flavored sodas) are far less likely to cause stones.

• Restrict animal proteins (meat, poultry and fish); they contain purines that can bind to calcium to form stones.

• Restrict salt

• Restrict foods high in oxalates, such as chocolate, beets, nuts, rhubarb, spinach, strawberries, tea, and wheat bran. Oxalates can bind to calcium to form calcium oxalate stones.

• People who have had more than one attack of painful kidney stones may want to consider taking thiazide diuretics, citrate or allopurinol. Taking all three drugs has not been shown to be more beneficial than taking just one. No data exist to show that one thiazide diuretic is better than any other. Thiazide diuretics can cause dizziness, belly cramps, fatigue, and muscle cramps. Citrates can cause belly cramps, and allopurinol can cause a low white blood cell count. Check with your doctor.

• Magnesium pills have not been shown to prevent kidney stones.

• We have no data to show that a high-fiber diet helps to prevent kidney stones, although it may.

• Check blood and urine levels of calcium. Having high blood  or urine calcium can cause kidney stones. It may also be a good idea for people with recurrent kidney stones to get a blood test called parathyroid hormone to check for a highly-curable parathyroid tumor.

july 30

Fish Oil and Cod Liver Oil Pills Not Shown to Prevent Heart Attacks

A review of 79 randomized and controlled studies of more than 110,000 men and women, with or without heart disease, shows that omega-3 fats in fish oil or in cod liver oil pills, taken for one to six years, do not prevent heart attacks, strokes or deaths in general (Cochrane Review, July 18, 2018). Fish oil pills did lower triglycerides which may be healthful, but they also lowered blood levels of the good HDL cholesterol, which may be harmful.

These findings are similar to those of a study from the University of Oxford that reviewed 10 different trials of fish oil supplements on 77,917 older adults who were at increased risk for heart attacks. The fish oil pills, at doses ranging from 226 milligrams to 1,800 milligrams per day of omega-3 fatty acids, did not prevent heart attacks in people with previous heart disease or diabetes (JAMA Cardiol, Mar 2018;3(3):225–233).

Eating Fish May Help to Prevent Heart Attacks

The studies on fish oil pills did not evaluate the effects of eating fish on heart disease. Many studies have shown that eating fish lowers high triglyceride levels, and may reduce irregular heartbeats, lower high blood pressure, lower high heart rates and relax constricted blood vessels. However, several studies show that there is no evidence that eating fish more often than twice a week increases protection against heart attacks and death from heart attacks. Early reports that Eskimos who eat a lot of fish do not suffer heart attacks were seriously flawed; Eskimos actually suffer a very high rate of heart attacks. See Eskimos are Not Protected from Heart Attacks

There is no good evidence that the types of fish that do not contain omega-3 fatty acids help to prevent heart attacks. Fish that are rich in omega-3s tend to be cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, those that eat plankton in sea water or other fish that contain omega-3s. Commercially farmed fish that can be raised on corn, such as catfish and tilapia, do not contain omega-3s. Farmed fish that are fed the more expensive fish meal are good sources of omega-3s.

It is possible that eating fish helps to prevent heart attacks because the fish replaces eating red meat or processed meats, which are associated with increased risk for heart attacks. Taking fish oil pills does not provide this benefit.

Potential Harm from Fish Oil Pills

Omega-3 fatty acids are highly susceptible to oxidation that can convert them into oxidized fatty acids that increase risk for inflammation, arterial damage, heart attacks and some cancers. That could be the reason why the studies quoted above failed to show health benefits from fish oil pills. The oil used in pills is extracted from oily fish such as sardines, herring, mackerel, salmon or tuna. A study from Canada showed that during processing the oil can be exposed to air to form oxidized (rancid) fish oil (J Nutr Sci, November 23, 2015;4:e36). This study found that 50 percent of Canadian brands of fish oil pills exceeded the voluntary limits for at least one measure of oxidation, and 39 percent exceeded the international voluntary safety recommendations for total oxidation. In other studies, 27 percent of fish oil products tested in South Africa were found to have more than twice the recommended levels of lipid peroxides (Cardiovasc J Afr, 2013;24:297–302), and more than 80 percent of supplements tested in New Zealand exceeded recommended levels (Sci Rep, 2015;5:7928).

Many foods that you eat and chemicals in your body are harmless, but when exposed to oxygen, they combine with it to form harmful oxidized substances. That is why you hear so much about antioxidants that can help to get rid of the oxidized chemicals. An example of an oxidized substance that is harmful is the LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream that doctors use to predict susceptibility for a heart attack. Plain LDL cholesterol is harmless; it becomes harmful only after the fats in it are oxidized to form oxidized LDL cholesterol. See Oxycholesterol and Cholesterol

My Recommendations

• I do not recommend taking fish oil pills. There is no proven benefit and there is potential for harm.

• If you decide to take fish oil pills, test each bottle to see if the oil is rancid. Oxidized fish oil smells like stale fish, so if you cut open a fish oil capsule and it smells or tastes fishy, it is rancid and you should throw the bottle away or return it to the store. Even if you buy a brand that you trust, check each bottle because one batch can be fresh while the next batch may be rancid.

• If your doctor recommends that you take fish oil, prescription pills are preferable to those sold over the counter because the omega-3 fatty acids are more concentrated and there is a higher level of quality control for the prescription-grade oils. However, even prescription fish oil pills should be checked to make sure they are not rancid. See Check those Fish Oil Pills

JULY 18

Junk-Food AidJuly 17, 2018

A decades-long global problem has directly led to the transition of developing nations from starvation to obesity and chronic disease.

It’s well known that higher-income populations became overfat through the intake of sugar and other junk foods. But poor people who can’t afford fast-food restaurants and junk food — including those receiving foreign aid — have been quietly swept up in the overfat pandemic as well.

Recently the problems associated with Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico, especially food and water shortages and the loss of utilities, have put assistance efforts under scrutiny. Outrage has included complaints about junk food aid. But this is only the tip of a very large iceberg.

Food aid is big business for corporations, governments, and charitable organizations that supply food to the needy all over the world. So it can be a recipe for mismanagement and waste. The result is decades of funneling junk food — high sugar rations — to the poor.

White flour, sugar and vegetable oil comprise the typical rations, with refined carbohydrates often making up the majority of calories. These three most harmful ingredients quickly change metabolism to increase body fat and trigger disease. This is one factor in developing countries, dependent upon food aid, developing skyrocketing rates of overfat and chronic disease.

While this may save lives in the short-term, feeding a population high-sugar foods long-term as a dietary staple changes metabolism and genetics for future generations. The result is increased body fat, which feeds carbohydrate intolerance (insulin resistance) and chronic inflammation.

In this way food aid fuels the overfat pandemic in developing nations, triggering dramatic increases in chronic diseases — those that develop from chronic inflammation, including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer. (The same can be said for those low-income or homeless people in the developed world.)

Certainly, starving families will take whatever they can get. During famines, disasters, war and other situations where food is limited, many governments and private organizations provide food aid. While some conditions are short-term disasters such as hurricane relief or military conflicts, most situations requiring food aid are long-term.

(Consider India, a country of more than 1.3 billion people. A recent study showed up to 80 percent of adults in the country are overfat. In areas of the Middle East, that rate is in the mid-90s. Up to one-third of Chinese adults may have hypertension with twice that many being overfat, defined as excess body fat that impairs health.)

The goal of food aid is to provide people with enough calories and water during time of crisis. In the worst-case situation when there is no power, this must include items that don’t require refrigeration or have short shelf lives.

A healthy cost-effective menu could be simple. Rations could include canned foods like meat, fish and vegetables (without sugar), whole nuts, some fresh fruits and vegetables (and some dehydrated), and fats like coconut oil, butter, and lard. Instead, food aid typically includes high amounts of empty calories from cookies, candy, chips, chocolate pudding, and other high-sugar junk foods. This is like living on vending machine food.

Sure, eating these foods is better than having no food at all. And in short-term tragedies it’s the quickest and easiest remedy. However, the world has the knowledge and money to do better in situations of long-term aid, and avoid planting the seeds for chronic disease.

Let’s not miss the obvious: While millions of people all over planet are without food, the world wastes enough to feed everyone. The reality is we actually could afford to feed everyone healthy food if it were not for politics and greed.

JULY 17

Blood Pressure During and After Exercise

High blood pressure puts you at increased risk for suffering a heart attack or stroke and damaging every organ in your body. Lowering high blood pressure helps to protect you from these complications (JAMA, 1970;213:1143-52). Blood pressure is at its lowest at bedtime. Your blood pressure is too high if it is:

• above 120/80 when you are lying in bed before you go to sleep at night or before you get up in the morning, or

• above 140/100 at other times.

Research more than 60 years ago showed that regular exercise helps to protect you from heart disease and premature death (Lancet, 1953;2:1111-20), and the more regularly you exercise, the greater the protection (N Engl J Med, 1984;311:874-7). Regular exercisers have significantly lower blood pressures than non-exercisers (Am J Hypertens, 1989;2:60), and those who do not exercise regularly are at much higher risk for developing high blood pressure in the future (JAMA, 1984;252:487-90).

Blood Pressure During Exercise

Your blood pressure usually rises as soon as you start to exercise and drops a little bit while you exercise at the same intensity (J Appl Physiol, 1997;82(4):1237 – 1243). However, as you continue to increase the intensity of exercise, your blood pressure usually rises higher and higher. When you run at a comfortable pace, your blood pressure can normally be 200/70. When you do a maximum-effort leg press, your blood pressure can rise as high as 480/350.

Blood Pressure Drops After you Stop Exercising

For people both with and without high blood pressure, a single exercise session lowers blood pressure for up to an hour after you finish exercising and then blood pressure returns to its previous level (Hypertension 1991;18:211-215). Having a systolic blood pressure that does not drop after you stop exercising puts you at increased risk for heart disease (Am Fam Physician, Oct 1, 1998;58(5):1126-1130). Doctors use a ratio of systolic blood pressure three minutes into the recovery phase of a treadmill exercise test divided by systolic blood pressure at peak exercise. A ratio above 0.9 means that you are at increased risk

Points to Remember

• High blood pressure puts you at increased risk for heart disease.

• Exercise helps to lower high blood pressure and prevent heart disease.

• Blood pressure generally rises after you start to exercise and drops when you stop exercising.

• After stopping exercise, blood pressure drops to its pre-exercise level.

• Having blood pressure that does not drop after you stop exercising puts you at increased risk for high blood pressure and heart disease. 

july13

Lack of Vitamin D May Harm Exercisers

A new study in mice shows that having low levels of vitamin D may harm athletes and exercisers by limiting how long they can exercise (Aging, June 2018). Six-month old mice were put on a low vitamin D diet for one year. A six-month-old mouse is equivalent to a 25 year old human and one mouse-year equals 25 human-years. After two weeks, the mice on the low vitamin D diet developed blood levels of vitamin D under 15 ng/ml, (equivalent to low levels in humans), where they remained for the entire study. They did not lose strength, but they lost a lot of their endurance (their ability to sustain exercise). The authors believe that this implies a decrease in their ability to take in and use oxygen. The mice also lost some muscle size. This study may be important for humans because vitamin D deficiency disease is defined as less than 12 ng/ml and vitamin D insufficiency borderline disease is less than 20 ng/ml. More than 35 percent of North Americans have these low levels, particularly in the winter.

Lack of Vitamin D Associated with Muscle and Tendon Injuries

During my competitive running career, I spent more time injured than training because of wintertime muscle injuries in Boston and Washington, D.C. Many years later, I found the probable cause: my wintertime vitamin D3 blood level was below 20 ng/ml (normal for the general population is >20 ng/ml and for athletes may be >30). Since I moved to Florida nine years ago, I have not had even one wear-and-tear sports injury. I now know that people genetically susceptible to vitamin D deficiency are the ones most likely to suffer muscle weakness, injuries and poor athletic performance. Many exercisers and competitive athletes are vitamin D deficient even if they live in the sunbelt.

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with:

• decreased athletic performance (Molecular Aspects of Medicine, June 2005;26(3):203-219),

• muscle weakness (Scandinavia Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, Oct 2009), and

• increased risk for athletic injuries (Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, November 2009; Molecular Aspects of Medicine, December 2008; Arthroscopy, Dec 21, 2017).

Genetics and Vitamin D Deficiency

A report from the University of Toronto showed that genetic factors cause some people to develop signs and symptoms of severe vitamin D deficiency (Clinical Biochemistry, July 2009). People who are genetically at increased risk for vitamin D deficiency are at increased risk for injuries when they try to exercise vigorously in the winter. Lack of vitamin D can weaken muscles (Lancet, Mar 1976;20;1(7960):626-9) and taking that vitamin can correct that weakness (Aging-Clinical and Experimental Research, December 2000;12(6):455–460). Vitamin D acts directly on specific receptors in muscles to make them stronger and to help prevent injuries (Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, April 2010;20(2):182-90).

How Lack of Vitamin D is More Harmful in Older People

As people age, they become increasingly susceptible to muscle weakness and falls caused by lack of vitamin D (Molecular Aspects of Medicine, June 2005). Muscles are made of thousands of individual fibers that are classified into two types: slow twitch fibers that govern endurance and fast twitch fibers that govern primarily strength and speed. Vitamin D specifically helps to maintain the function of the fast twitch strength fibers (Calcif Tissue Int, 2013;92:151–162). With aging, you lose muscle fiber; for example, the vastus medialis muscle in the front of the upper leg typically has about 800,000 fibers in a 20 year old, but only 250,000 in a 60 year old. Vitamin D slows this loss of muscle fibers, preserves muscle strength and helps to prevent falls, while lack of vitamin D increases loss of fibers, muscle weakness and falls (Pediatric Clinics of North America, June 2010).

Current Guidelines

The Institute of Medicine recommends 600–800 IU of vitamin D per day for adults and that blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D do not need to be higher than 20ng/ml (Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes, Dec 2016;23(6):440-444). Higher blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D do not make bones stronger than lower blood levels as they do not reduce levels of parathyroid hormone or bone resorption (Curr Rheumatol Rep, June 2011;13(3):257-64).

There is no proven benefit from taking doses of vitamin D >1000 IU/day or having very high blood levels (>30ng/ml). Raising blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D from 20 to 30 ng/ml with high doses of vitamin D pills increases calcium absorption by only one percent and does not increase bone mineral density or physical function, compared with placebo (Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes, Dec 2016;23(6):440-444). High doses of vitamin D can cause nausea, constipation, kidney stones, frequent urination, muscle weakness, irregular heartbeats and possibly arteriosclerosis. A study from Denmark showed that very high blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D (above 140 ng/ml) are associated with increased risk of premature death (J Clin Endocrinol Metab, Aug 2012;97(8):2644-52).

High-dose vitamin D3 supplements (70,000 IU/wk for 12 weeks) caused a significant increase of a toxic vitamin D metabolite called 24,25[OH] vitamin D, reduced parathyroid levels and decreased body responses to vitamin D (Med Sci Sports Exerc, Feb, 2017;49(2):349-356). Large doses (4000 IU/day) of vitamin D did not slow declining physical function in sedentary men over 70 (Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 11/22/2016). For most people, high dose vitamin D pills (greater than 2000 IU/day) are not going to improve health and may even harm you (N Engl J Med, Nov 10, 2016;375:1817-1820).

Proposed Uses of Vitamin D for Specific Conditions

Several studies recommend vitamin D supplementation for specific populations or symptoms:

• People with generalized muscle and joint pain and blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D below 20 ng/ml (International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases, 11/21/2016)

• Women with postmenopausal osteoporosis (Bone, 11/10/2016)

• People with muscle and joint pain from an auto-immune disease called lupus, who also have a positive anti-nuclear antibody titer and low blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D (Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, 11/17/2016)

• Elderly inactive people who do not go outdoors; 56 studies involving almost 100,000 people over 70 showed that taking 800 IU of vitamin D pills is associated with a slightly prolonged lifespan (Cochrane Database Syst Rev, Jan 2014;10;(1):CD007470)

• Hospitalized, critically ill adult patients with hydroxy vitamin D levels below 20 ng/ml (Journal of Critical Care, 11/14/2016)

• People with muscle pain from taking statin drugs to lower cholesterol, who also have blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D below 20 ng/ml (Atherosclerosis, Nov 22, 2016)

• Diabetics with high blood cholesterol (LDL over 100) and low blood hydroxy vitamin D (<20 ng/ml) (Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome Nov 22, 2016)

• Possibly long-term care residents over 70; may help to prevent respiratory infections (Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Nov 22, 2016)

My Recommendations

You probably do not need to take vitamin D pills if your blood level of hydroxy vitamin D is above 20 ng/ml unless you have a condition that your doctor feels puts you at increased risk for the signs and symptoms of a deficiency. You can take up to 1000 IU/day of vitamin D pills if your blood levels are below 30 ng/ml. Most researchers and clinicians now feel that, with few exceptions, high doses of vitamin D are not beneficial and are potentially harmful. People who could possibly benefit from treating low blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D (<20 ng/ml) include those who:

• are inactive and do not go outdoors

• suffer from generalized muscle and joint pain

• are athletes with recurrent injuries and decreased performance

• have weak bones (osteoporosis)

• are diabetic, particularly if LDL cholesterol is over 100

• have an auto-immune disease

• are critically ill or debilitated

• suffer from muscle pain from taking statin drugs

I believe that sunlight offers benefits that cannot be obtained just by taking vitamin D pills, but take proper precautions to avoid skin cancer.

july2

Heat Stroke 

Nobody should ever die of heat stroke, a rapid uncontrolled rise in body temperature that causes you to pass out. Your body sends you warning signals as your temperature rises.

In 1965, I almost died from heat stroke in an unimportant local race in Arlington, Virginia. I passed out during the race and lay unconscious for a while. I am still embarrassed by the stupidity that I showed when I ignored all the warning signs as my temperature continued to climb. First your muscles are affected, then your lungs and then your brain.

Muscles: As your temperature starts to rise, your muscles feel like a hot poker is pressing against them. It is normal for intense exercise to make your muscles burn, but hard exercise does not cause painful burning that feels like fire. Furthermore, the burning of hard exercise is relieved by slowing down, while the muscle burning of impending heat stroke does not go away when you slow down.

Lungs: As your temperature rises further, the air that you breathe feels like it is coming from a furnace and no matter how rapidly and deeply you try to breathe, you can’t take in enough air. When you exercise intensely, you can become very short of breath, but the air you breathe will not burn your lungs. Burning in your lungs, not relieved by slowing down, signals impending heat stroke. When you feel that the air is so hot that it burns your lungs, stop exercising. This sign means that your heart cannot pump enough blood from your exercising muscles to your skin so heat is accumulating and your temperature is rising rapidly. Your temperature is now over 104 degrees F. and continuing to exercise will raise your body temperature even further so it will start to cook your brain.

Brain: When heat stroke begins to affect your brain, your head will start to hurt, you may hear a ringing in your ears, feel dizzy and have difficulty seeing. Then you will end up unconscious. Your temperature is now over 106 and your brain is being cooked just like the colorless portion of an egg that turns white when it hits a hot griddle.

Mechanism

During exercise, more than 70 percent of the energy used to drive your muscles is lost as heat, so your heart has to pump the heat in your bloodstream from your hot muscles to your skin where you sweat and the sweat evaporates to cool your skin to dissipate the heat. The harder you exercise, the more heat your muscles produce. Everyone who exercises, particularly in hot weather, has to sweat to keep their body temperatures from rising too high.

Risk for heat stroke is increased by:

• any pre-existing illness

• heart disease

• use of various recreational drugs such as cocaine, and some prescription drugs

• lack of fitness

• not drinking enough fluid

• exercising for extended periods without eating

• wearing excess clothing that traps heat in your body

• not listening to your body when you feel the warning signs described above

Many cases of heat stroke during exercise occur when a person suddenly increases the intensity of exercise, such as a sprint at the end of a long distance running or cycling race, or an intense run down the field in soccer.

Treatment

When a person passes out from heat stroke, get medical help immediately. Any delay in cooling can kill the person, and you may need an expert to help decide if the person has passed out from heat stroke or a heart attack.

Carry the victim rapidly into the shade and place him on his back with his head down and feet up so blood can circulate to his brain. Once it has been established that the person is not having a heart attack, he or she can be cooled by pouring on any liquids you can find. Evaporation of any liquid cools. As you cool him, he may suddenly wake up and talk to you and act like nothing has happened. Don’t stop cooling him, because while he’s sitting or lying there, his temperature can rise again and he can go into convulsions or pass out again. He must be watched for several hours after he is revived.

Prevention

When you exercise in hot weather, stop exercising when you start to feel any of the symptoms described above and find a shady spot to recover. Stay well hydrated, but realize that too much fluid (Hyponatremia) can also be harmful. 

June 29

Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Pernicious Anemia

Pernicious anemia is due to lack of vitamin B12 and is characterized by progressive nerve damage that causes forgetfulness, loss of ability to concentrate and abnormal sensations such as burning, itching and loss of feeling. However, many people with pernicious anemia do not have abnormally low blood levels of vitamin B12.

A study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society shows that older people have lower blood levels of a chemical called homotranscobalamin II that carries vitamin B12 into the cells (1), so they need higher blood levels to have normal tissue levels. Since low-normal blood level of vitamin B12 do not rule out B12 deficiency, the diagnosis of pernicious anemia is often made late in the course of the disease after people have suffered permanent nerve damage. According to a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine, two percent of Americans over 60 have low blood levels of vitamin B12 (2), but the incidence of vitamin B12 deficiency causing nerve damage in older people is much higher than that, sometimes as high a 50 percent (3,4). This means that many older people who are diagnosed with senility actually suffer from lack of vitamin B12 which can be cured by taking vitamin B supplements. Many cannot correct their B12 deficiency with diet changes, because the problem is caused by failure to absorb B12 in the intestines (5). Lack of vitamin B12 can cause heart attacks (6,7), so all people over 60 should be screened with blood tests for vitamin B12 and those with normal levels of B12 and symptoms of nerve damage or arteriosclerosis should also get a blood test called homocysteine. Almost always, those with a deficiency can a cured by taking a 1000 microgram pill of vitamin B12 once a day. They usually do not need to take injections. Low levels of B12 are also associated with stomach diseases and infections such as Helicobacter pylori

June 24

Hidden Sugars

The average North American takes in 150 to 200 pounds of sugar a year. Most of your sugar intake comes from added sugars in drinks and packaged, frozen and canned foods that you buy in grocery stores or eat in restaurants. More than 75 percent of the packaged foods in your grocery store have added sugar in them.  Many of these foods do not taste particularly sweet, so you don’t even realize that you are eating sugars.

Check These Foods for Hidden Added Sugars

• salad dressings and barbeque sauces

• yogurts including those with added fruit

• frozen and microwave meals

• canned fruit

• breakfast cereals

• breading on frozen foods and restaurant foods

• processed lunch meats, bacon and canned meats

• peanut butter and other nut butters

• ketchup

• canned cranberry sauce

• packaged diet foods

• gluten-free foods

• canned or packaged soups and sauces

• power bars, energy bars, diet bars and “health” bars

• bakery products

• soft drinks

• non-dairy milks

• fruit-flavored drinks

• many alcoholic drinks including wines

Read the List of Ingredients on All Packaged Foods and Drinks

The Food and Drug Administration requires all packaged foods and drinks to list the sugar content per serving, and to show all sources of sugar in the list of ingredients. If you see any of these ingredients, you are eating added sugars or sugar alcohols: anhydrous dextrose, brown sugar, cane crystals, cane sugar, caramel, carbitol, concentrated fruit juice, corn sweetener, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, diglycerides, disaccharides, evaporated cane juice, erythritol, Florida crystals, fructooligosaccharides, fructose, fructose sweetener, fruit juice concentrate, galactose, glucitol, glucoamine, granulated sugar, hexitol, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, inversol, isomalt, lactose, liquid fructose, malt syrup, maltodextrin, malted barley, maltose, malts, mannitol, maple syrup, molasses, nectar, pancake syrup, pentose, raisin syrup, raw sugar, ribose, rice malt, rice syrup, rice syrup solids, sorbitol, sorghum, sucanat, sugar syrup, white sugar, xylitol, zylose and many more.

Why You Should Limit Added Sugars

All calories are not equal. Added sugars are much more harmful than the sugars or starches in unprocessed whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Added sugars cause higher insulin and blood sugar levels that precede diabetes, metabolic syndrome and extensive cell damage, harmful fat storage, particularly in the belly, and inflammation and high blood pressure that lead to heart attacks. Killer diseases associated with high sugar intake include:

Diabetes: Added sugars, particularly in sugared drinks, cause high rises in blood sugar which can damage every cell in your body. To protect you from a high rise in blood sugar, your liver converts sugar almost immediately to a type of fat called triglycerides. Then the fatty triglyceride molecules are stored in your liver. Your liver is supposed to regulate blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels rise, your pancreas releases insulin into your bloodstream and it lowers blood sugar levels by driving sugar from your bloodstream into your liver. However, when you have fat in your liver, the fat prevents the liver from accepting the sugar from your bloodstream and blood sugar levels remain high, which leads to diabetes. See Sugar-Added Foods Increase Diabetes Risk

Heart Attacks: High rises in blood sugar can punch holes in the inner linings of your arteries. The holes bleed and clot and start to form plaques in the arteries leading to your heart. Then a plaque can break off from the inner lining of a heart artery and travel down the ever-narrowing artery until it blocks the artery completely to cause a heart attack. Diabetes is the most common known cause of heart attacks. See Sugar-Added to Foods Linked to Heart Attack Risk

Cancers: Every factor that is associated with a high rise in blood sugar is also associated with increased risk for many cancers: obesity, abdominal obesity, lack of exercise, lack of vitamin D and so forth. Normal cells feed on all foods, but cancers have damaged mitochondria so they have to get most of their energy from sugar. See A Cure for Cancer is Coming

Obesity: Almost 60 percent of North Americans are already overweight. Added sugars contribute the empty calories (calories with no other nutritional value) that are driving this epidemic of obesity. See Being Overweight Increases Risk for Premature Death

The Worst Culprit: “Fruit” Drinks

An analysis of 203 “100 percent fruit” drinks (fruit juices, fruit drinks and smoothies) marketed to appeal to children found that almost half of them contained at least 19 grams (almost five teaspoons) of added sugar per serving, a full day’s recommended maximum amount of sugar for a child (BMJ Open, March 23, 2016). This study was done in the UK, but the results would probably be even worse in North America. The grocery store where we shop has an entire aisle devoted to sugar-added fruit drinks. Insidious advertising and labeling has convinced parents that these drinks are a healthful alternative to soft drinks.

My Recommendations

• Neither you nor your children should be drinking beverages with sugar in them, unless you are in the midst of prolonged, vigorous exercise. Instead, drink water and eat plenty of whole fresh fruit.

• Read the list of ingredients on all processed foods that you plan to buy and try to limit or avoid those that have added sugars.

May 26

Lactic Acid is Good for You: Why Everyone with a Healthy Heart Should Do Interval Exercise

Accumulating lactic acid in your muscles makes you a better athlete, helps to prevent diseases and may even prolong your life. Athletes use a form of interval training to make themselves faster and stronger, and everyone with a healthy heart can benefit from this technique. Interval training means to exercise so vigorously that you get short of breath, slow down and when you recover your breath, you exercise intensely enough to become short of breath again. Then you alternate intense intervals and recovery until your legs start to feel heavy or hurt, and then stop the workout for the day. For example, warm up by running very slowly for five to 10 minutes, and then run a little faster until you become short of breath, slow down until you recover your breath and repeat until your legs start to feel heavy or hurt.

Intervals to Make You a Better Athlete

You cannot enlarge a muscle and make it stronger unless you damage it with vigorous exercise. When it heals, it is larger and stronger. You cannot improve your ability to take in and use oxygen unless you exercise vigorously enough to become short of breath. Interval training allows you to exercise more intensely than continuous training and therefore give you a stronger training effect by causing more muscle fiber damage and greater oxygen debts.

Intervals to Prevent Disease and Prolong Your Life

A regular exercise program helps to prevent diabetes, heart attacks, and cancers. Interval training may be even more effective in preventing heart attacks and cancers because it helps to lower high blood sugar more effectively than continuous training by making cells far more sensitive to insulin (Int J Sports Med, published online November 6, 2014). Vigorous exercise increases the number, size and efficiency of mitochondria in your muscle cells. All of the cells in your body (except mature red blood cells) have anywhere from a few to thousands of organelles, called mitochondria, that turn the food that you eat into energy. Muscle cells need a lot of energy so they have lots of mitochondria. Nerves don’t need a lot of energy to transmit messages so they need only a few mitochondria. When you exercise so intensely that you can’t get all the oxygen you need and you become short of breath, you increase the number, size and efficiency of mitochondria in cells everywhere in your body. Accumulating evidence shows that this helps to prevent overweight, diabetes, heart attacks and certain cancers. It helps to explain why exercise increases memory and nerve function. Exercise also helps to reduce the loss of mitochondria in cells that occurs naturally with aging (Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, April, 2007). See More Mitochondria for Better Athletes

How Accumulating Lactic Acid Helps to Prevent Disease and Prolong Life

Interval training has been used in all endurance sports since the 1920’s. George Brooks of the University of California at Berkeley has shown why interval training makes you a better athlete (American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, June 2006). A major fuel for your muscles during exercise is the sugar, glucose. In a series of chemical reactions, glucose is broken down step by step, with each step releasing energy. When enough oxygen is available, the glucose releases all of its energy until only carbon dioxide and water remain; these are blown off through your lungs. However, if you exercise so intensely that you can’t get all the oxygen you need, the chemical reactions stop at lactic acid which accumulates in the muscles and spills over into the bloodstream. Lactic acid makes muscles acidic and causes a burning feeling that forces you to slow down. Thus lactic acid helps to prevent severe muscle damage by slowing you down when you run low on oxygen.

When you slow down after each intense interval, you catch up on your oxygen debt, and your body uses lactic acid as its most efficient source of energy for muscles. Muscles require less oxygen to turn lactic acid into energy. So when your muscles produce lots of lactic acid, they can use this chemical for energy. This allows you to move faster and stronger for longer periods of time (Sports Medicine, Volume 36, 2006). Anything that helps muscles to break down lactic acid faster will make you a better athlete because it will increase your endurance and allow you to move faster when you are tired (Fed. Proc, 45: 2924-2929, 1986). Lactic acid can also be used by your liver to make even more sugar to feed your muscles during exercise.

How to Do Interval Training

Interval training makes you a much better athlete because it teaches your muscles and liver to use lactate for energy much faster than just doing continuous training (Am. J. Physiol, 244: E83-E92, 1983). The faster you can use up lactic acid,

• the more quickly you relieve the acid burning in muscles that slows you down, and

• the faster you can go because lactate requires less oxygen than even sugar does.

Intense exercise can cause heart attacks in people who have blocked arteries, so before you start, check with your doctor. Then pick any sport that you like. It can be riding a road bicycle or stationary bicycle, walking, jogging, dancing or any other type of continuous exercise.

Background Phase: If you have not been exercising regularly, spend several weeks exercising at a casual pace. Try to exercise every day and exercise until your legs start to feel heavy or hurt and stop. You may go for five minutes on one day, and have to take the next day off because your legs feel sore. You may have a progression of five minutes on one day, then zero on the next day, then 10 minutes, then three minutes. Gradually you should be able to work up to being able to exercise casually for 30 minutes every day and not feel sore. Then you should be able to start training.

Interval Training Phase: Warm up for five to 10 minutes and then gradually pick up the pace. As soon as your legs start to feel heavy or you start to become short of breath, slow down until your legs and breathing recover. Then pick up the pace again and slow down as soon as your legs start to burn or feel heavy or you start to breathe hard. As a general rule, most casual exercisers are better off keeping their intense intervals to less than 30 seconds because they do not suffer much oxygen deprivation to build up a lot of lactic acid over that short a time and therefore are reducing stresses on their bodies. Alternate picking up the pace and slowing down until your legs start to feel heavy or hurt and then you are through for the day. Be patient with your progress and realize that pushing through pain and discomfort can injure you. An injury will usually prevent you from being able to exercise at all. More at Interval Training for Sports

Caution: people with blocked arteries leading to the heart can get a heart attack from intense exercise. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program or making a sudden change in the intensity of your program.

MAY 16

How Much Water Do You Need?

Do you believe that a person needs to drink eight glasses of water every day? If you do, you will spend a lot of time running to the bathroom.

Why do so many people believe this rule? The number originally came from the National Academy of Sciences of the United States Food and Nutrition Board, which publishes recommended daily allowances of nutrients. The 1945 edition of the Food and Nutrition Board recommended: “A suitable allowance of water for adults is 2.5 liters (about 8 cups) daily in most instances.” This amount is based on the calculation of one milliliter of water for each calorie of food. HOWEVER, the Board also noted that most of the water you need is in the food you eat.

All foods contain water. Even the driest nut or seed has a lot of water in it. Furthermore, when food is digested, it is converted to energy, carbon dioxide and WATER. Most people can get the fluid the body needs from food, and they only need to drink enough water to prevent constipation.

When you eat, the pyloric valve at the end of your stomach closes to keep food in the stomach. Then the stomach takes fluid that you drink and food that you eat and turns the solid food into liquid. If you don’t drink enough fluid, your stomach takes fluid from your blood and adds it to the food in the stomach to create the soup. The pyloric valve will not let food pass to the intestines until this liquid soup is formed. Then the liquid soup passes to the intestines and remains a soup until it reaches your colon. Only then is the fluid absorbed to turn the soup into solid waste in the colon. If you do not have enough fluid in your body, your body extracts extra fluid from your stool and turns your stool into hard rocks, causing constipation.

A study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition (April 2003).shows that plain water is not needed as long as enough fluid is obtained from other drinks and food. Twenty-seven healthy men consumed one of two diets for three-day periods and were studied in a lab setting. The first diet included plain water while the second omitted it, relying on only foods, orange juice, diet soda, and coffee for fluid. None of the nine measures of hydration were affected.

A reasonable amount for a healthy human is one cup of water or any other fluid with each meal. If you have a problem with constipation you may not be drinking enough water, but if you are not constipated, you are getting plenty. You’ll also want to replace fluids whenever you sweat a lot, particularly when you exercise or in hot weather. Drink water whenever you feel thirsty, but there’s no health benefit from forcing yourself to drink eight glasses of water a day. Drinking too much water can be dangerous; see Hyponatremia. This is of particular concern if you are exercising in hot weather and fail to replace the salt you lose in sweat.

APRIL 26

5 Proven Ways that Manuka Honey Benefits Your Health

By Holly Klamer, RD

Honey has been used to treat various ailments for centuries.  Is the buzz around the health benefits of honey valid?  Scientific research has shown honey may provide some health benefits including: antibacterial, wound healing properties, aiding relief for sore throat/cough and more research is needed in honey’s role on heart disease, fighting cancer cells and diabetes risk.

Research around specific types of honeys is also relatively new in discovering specific health benefits of honey from specific regions or flowers.

 

In particular, manuka honey has received attention and research as a special type of honey that may offer some health advantages.

What makes manuka honey special? 

Manuka honey is specifically from New Zeeland.  Manuka honey is from bees that solely rely on the manuka bush (or called tea tree) to make honey, nectar and pollen.

Researchers suggest manuka honey contains special compounds from the manuka flowers that may offer additional health benefit.

Research is ongoing for the health benefits of manuka honey, but so far these are research backed ways manuka honey may benefit your health.

1. Antibacterial Health Benefits

All honey can provide some antibacterial health benefit, but the degree of antibacterial properties can vary depending on the type of honey and how it’s harvested (1).

Most of the antibacterial property from honey is associated with honey’s production of hydrogen peroxide.  This acts as a means to kill bacteria.

Manuka honey has some additional properties that may provide even more antibacterial properties.  Methylglyoxal (MG) is one property in manuka flowers that is in manuka honey that offers additional antibacterial benefit.

Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) (2) from the nectar of manuka flowers helps DHA convert to MG in manuka honey.

2. Rich in Antioxidants

A 2005 study (3) compared the antioxidant activity of 4 different honeys including manuka honey.

Researchers found manuka and buckwheat honey had significantly higher antioxidant activity compared to 2 other types of honey.

In addition, only manuka honey had specific activity for superoxide anion radicals.  Therefore, while all honey may provide varying amounts of antioxidants, manuka honey has been shown to provide a high level of antioxidant activity and specific activity not found in other tested honey samples.

3. Wound healing

Both honey and sugar can be used as a treatment for dressing wounds and ulcers.  Honey has the ability to draw moisture from a wound and provide an antibacterial protection for healing wounds.

Because manuka honey has higher amounts of MG, it can provide an additional antibacterial benefit for healing skin wounds.

One study (4) found the non-peroxide antibacterial activity from manuka honey inhibited growth of Staphylococcus aureus for up to 8 hours.

This suggests manuka honey may be beneficial for lowering risk for infection in wounds from bacteria Staph aureus and possibly other bacteria.

In fact, founder of Fresh Med NYC Dr. Robert Graham (5) suggests in a 2018 Health article manuka honey may also lower risk for developing an infection from potentially dangerous Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

MRSA is resistant to common antibiotics, so finding alternatives to treating antibiotic resistant bacteria strains is important for keeping these dangerous bacteria under control.

In a 2005 case study (6), the use of manuka honey was used on eight cases of leg ulceration.  The wounds were dressed weekly with manuka honey.

Researchers found after 4 weeks of treatment all eight cases were significantly improved in wound size, pain and odor.  More research is needed to clarify the relationship between manuka honey and treatment of ulcers.

An important reminder when talking about using manuka honey for wound healing is this refers to medical grade manuka honey.

This type of honey is different than the honey you may purchase for consumption from the store.  The grading system for manuka honey is the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) scale.

Manuka honey with a UMF of 10 or higher is considered medical grade.  Do not put honey on a wound or consume for any ailment before consulting with your doctor first.

4. Oral health: Can prevent gum disease and plaque

Manuka honey, like all other honeys, is a source of sugar.  Eating sugary foods and drinks are associated with increasing risk for cavities and other negative teeth disorders.

So, it may seem counterintuitive manuka honey may actually benefit oral health.  Some studies have shown it may be beneficial for preventing gum disease gingivitis and plaque buildup.

A 2004 study (7) investigated whether manuka honey with a UMF 15 level could be used to reduce plaque buildup and clinical gingivitis.

Participants either chewed a manuka honey leather or sugarless gum for 10 minutes after each meal for 21 days.

After 21 days, researchers found significant improvements in the participants in the manuka honey group for lowered plaque buildup and less gum bleeding.  No significant changes were in the gum group.

The results of this study do not suggest eating high amounts of any honey will provide oral health benefit.

The honey in this study was manuka honey with UMF 15; consuming other honey may not provide these benefits.  More research is needed.

5. Relief from some side effects of chemotherapy

According to WebMD, a committee from the National Cancer Institute suggested manuka honey may be beneficial for reducing inflammation of the esophagus associated with chemotherapy.

Manuka honey may provide relief from other side effects of chemotherapy; more research is needed.  Before consuming any type of honey while on chemotherapy, consult your physician first.

Manuka honey and health

Manuka honey has been shown from research that is may offer health benefits more than other types of honey.  Keep in mind most research studies use medicinal grade manuka honey which may not be the same as what is available for consumption from a store.

Check the UMF rating of manuka honey to ensure authenticity and potency.  Generally speaking, manuka honey with a UMF of at least 10 is considered therapeutic.

Before applying manuka honey or ingesting it, consult your doctor.  Consuming manuka honey may interfere with certain medications.

Also note consuming manuka honey still provides a source of simple carbohydrates and should be eaten in moderation of a healthy balanced diet.

 april 19

 No More Junk MilesYou can always continue to learn, no matter how old you are. I am 81 and Diana is 74. We like to ride a bike as fast as we can. I thought that I understood training, and we followed the rules we believed in, but our race times kept getting slower and slower.We know that to make muscles stronger, you have to damage them by exercising them against great force. That means your muscles have to burn at some point when you train. We know that to improve your ability to take in and use oxygen, you have to exercise so vigorously that you must become short of breath.However, every time that you exercise intensely, you damage your muscles. You know this has happened when your muscles feel tight, heavy or sore on the next day. To deal with this soreness, we followed a program of racing as fast as we could three times a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays). On the other four days we would recover by riding 20 to 30 miles slowly, at about 10 to 11 miles per hour. But something was wrong with this program because we were gradually losing our ability to ride as fast as we had in a previous year. We were doing too many junk miles on our four recovery days each week.What Are Junk Miles?Junk miles means adding extra miles to your training plan with no purpose other than to increase the number of miles that you ride or run each week. They are done at such low intensity that you do not become short of breath and you do not push yourself very hard. Slow riding or running does not increase your ability to take in and use oxygen and it does not make your muscles stronger.Try to Go Fast Every DaySo we changed our schedule. We continued to race in a group almost as fast as we could ride three days a week. We then started to do intervals on the other four days. Intervals mean to ride a short distance fast enough to make you very short of breath. Then you slow down until you recover your breath, and keep on alternating short fast bursts with slow recoveries until your legs start to feel stiff and heavy. Then you stop the workout for that day.Virtually all competitive athletes use some form of interval training. Training is specific and the faster you ride or run in training, the faster you can go in competition. You can go much faster in all-out short bursts than you can go in a long continuous fast ride.On some interval days, we would do 50 pedal-stroke repeats, resting between each long enough to get our breath back. Other days we would do 100 or 150 pedal stroke repeats. We never plan to do a fixed number of intervals. Instead we would stop the intervals as soon as our legs started to feel heavy or stiff, or when our legs did not recover and continued to feel tired a minute after finishing a fast interval.When Your Legs Feel Heavy, Take the Day OffWe know that you can’t go intensely every day. There are some days that you have to rest. You have to listen to your body. We usually can ride fast on our three “race days”, but we have learned that on some days we should not ride at all. The recovery interval days are the most dangerous. These are the days when you are at your greatest risk for injuring yourself. When you start a workout, your legs usually feel heavy. Then as you continue to ride, your leg muscles usually start to feel better and you can ride fast after you have warmed up. However, if your legs do not feel fresh after you have warmed up for more than 15 minutes, you should just take the day off. We never plan to take a day off, but every sixth to ninth day, my legs feel so heavy that I know we need to take the day off. Then on the next day I feel fresh again.Why Athletes May Need Some Junk MilesSometimes competitive athletes do include exercise at very low intensity in their programs. “Junk miles” can be useful for:• Base training: You have to exercise at low intensity before you can exercise at high intensity. If you are starting a new sport, or making a major change to your exercise program, you should start with several weeks of slow exercise before you begin the intense part of your training.• Endurance events: Some athletes do once-a-week long rides or runs just to get their bodies used to the many hours of hard racing in endurance competitions.CautionIntense exercise can cause heart attacks in susceptible people. The people most likely to suffer heart attacks during exercise are those who do not exercise regularly. You are also at increased risk when you increase the intensity or duration of your workouts. If there is any question about your heart or other health problems, always check with your doctor.Checked  4/12/18

APRIL 15

MSM Organic Sulfur

MSM it is known in different ways: Organic Sulfur, Methylsulfonylmethane, or Methyl-sulfonyl-methane.

It is a natural product, not a drug. You can find it in many plants, raw milk and raw cheese made from pastured cows, but the soils all around the planet are sulfur-depleted due to over farming, then the plants and animals we eat are deficient in sulfur as well. Hence the need to take Organic Sulfur as a supplement. You have to make sure though, that you buy only pure organic sulfur (MSM).

MSM is a very powerful antioxidant formed of:

  • 34% Sulfur
  • 34% Oxygen
  • 26% Carbon and 6% hydrogen bonds

MSM is used for all types of chronic pain, joint inflammation, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, bursitis, tendonitis, muscle cramps, periodontal disease, oral hygiene, eye inflammation, migraine, headaches, parasitic infections of the intestinal and urogenital tracts like: yeast, trichomonas, giardias.

It is also used to treat allergies, constipation, ulcers, diverticulosis, premenstrual syndrome, poor circulation, obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, liver problems, Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, for any lung disorders, for autoimmune disorders and for CANCER.

In the case of Cancer, MSM (organic sulfur) works as follows:

  • As an oxygen transporter.
  • To reduce swelling and inflammation.
  • To kill microbes in the blood stream.
  • To reduce lactic acid in the blood stream. ( Lactic acid causes a lot of pain in the patient)

How to prepare MSM water:

  • Start with small doses of MSM water because the stomach is not accustomed to drinking it.
  • Take a gallon GLASS jug of purified water. If you do not have purified water, take water from the faucet and leave it resting for at least an hour before you use it because MSM should not be mixed with chlorinated water at all.
  • Once you have your gallon glass jug full of the appropriate water, add 16 tablespoons of Organic Sulfur (MSM) into the gallon glass jug.
  • Wait until the organic sulfur is totally dissolved. Sometimes it takes an hour for the MSM to completely dissolve. You can shake the gallon jug from time to time to make the organic sulfur dissolve faster.
  • Do this until you finally see the crystals in the bottom of the jug have disappeared. Now you have MSM WATER.
  • Let it set at room temperature. Do not refrigerate it.

 

Doses of MSM WATER for adults:

The first thing you have to do is to check for allergies, so take 1 tea spoon of the MSM water from the gallon glass jug and if you do not get any rash, (some people who are allergic to Sulfa drugs may have trouble with MSM), then two hours later, you can start with the dose below.

It’s very important to do the dose just like it’s explained.

DAY 1

  • Take 4 table spoons of the MSM water from your gallon glass jug.
  • Three hours later ( after the first 4 table spoons) take 6 table spoons of MSM water.
  • Three hours later take 8 table spoons of MSM water.
  • And this is all for Day 1 because the idea here is to make your stomach accustom to taking MSM, so, taking small doses also helps in avoiding big detoxification reactions due to the massive die-off of microbes. When lots of microbes die, lots of toxins are sent to the bloodstream and it can make you very sick. To avoid getting very sick and then very scared of MSM and wanting to stop taking MSM, it is important to do the doses little by little.

DAY 2

  • Take 8 table spoons of MSM water.
  • Three hours later take 10 table spoons of MSM water.
  • Three hours later take 11 table spoons of MSM water.
  • DAY 3 AND ON GOING DOSE…
  • Take 12 table spoons of MSM water.
  • Two or Three hours later take 12 table spoons of MSM water.
  • Two or Three hours later take 12 table spoons of MSM water.
  • Two or Three hours later take 12 table spoons of MSM water.
  • You can increase the dose of MSM water everyday if you want, a dose of 44 to 64 table spoons a day is completely safe.

DO NOT GIVE MSM WATER TO CHILDREN.

You may experience some strange feelings in your head, but do not worry it is actually good because your brain is getting flooded with oxygen.

Organic sulfur is a superb cancer treatment because it grabs oxygen from water and gets it inside the cells (cancer and non-cancer)

APRIL 12
How Exercise Reduces Dementia Risk

Almost 50 percent of North Americans over 85 and 13 percent of those over 65 suffer from Alzheimer’s disease (Alzheimer’s Assoc Facts and Figures, 2018). We know that you lose brain cells as you age, and scientists used to think that you could not make new brain cells. However, an exciting new study from Columbia University suggests that you can make new brain cells as you age, and that loss of brain function may be caused by lack of adequate blood flow and nourishment of brain cells (Cell Stem Cell, April 5, 2018;22(4):589–599).

The authors found that all age groups, from young to old, have the same number of neural progenitor cells and immature neurons that make new nerve cells in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that governs memory. Contrary to a previous study that showed no new nerve growth with aging (Nature, March 2018), this new study suggests that the brains of older people have progressive loss of new blood vessels with aging and with that, the loss of ability of brain cells to connect with each other. If lack of blood flow to brain cells can cause dementia, its prevention should include exercise — the most effective way to increase growth of new blood vessels. Many previous studies show that exercise:

• increases blood flow to the brain, and

• reduces risk for diabetes and obesity which can damage the brain.

This new study suggests that anything that increases blood flow to the brain may stimulate growth of new blood vessels and brain cells.

Studies Showing that Exercise Reduces Risk for Dementia

A study of 1,462 women, ages 38 to 60, followed for 44 years, showed that those who exercised regularly were one tenth as likely to suffer dementia with aging as those who did not exercise (Neurology, March 14, 2018). In another study, 6500 older people wore exercise trackers. After three years, those who exercised regularly had a 36 percent lower risk of memory loss as well as better memory and executive function (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, January 2017;49(1):47–53).

A third study of 81 older adults used VO2 max, a test of maximal ability to take in and use oxygen, to give a dependable measure of fitness. Those who were less fit had an increased rate of dementia and of losing the white matter in their brains that helps them to retain memory and make wise decisions (Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Dec 19, 2017;61(2):729-739). An earlier review of hundreds of articles showed that older people who exercise have far less loss of brain function with aging, less brain blood vessel damage, larger hippocampal brain size for better memory, less loss of brain tissue with aging, better spatial memory, better communication between brain nerves and improved ability to learn new facts (Mayo Clin Proc, 2011 Sep; 86(9): 876–884).

APRIL 8
Artificial Sweeteners, Obesity and Diabetes
 
Virtually all scientists agree that North Americans need to reduce their intake of sugar, but their views on artificial sweeteners are not as clear. Increasing evidence is showing that artificial sweeteners are not benign substitutes for sugar. In a new study, people who took sucralose (an artificial sweetener) for just one week developed signs of insulin resistance and diabetes, such as:• increased cellular sugar uptake,• increased fat formation,• signs of inflammation and• higher rises in insulin and triglycerides.The overweight people in the study developed the highest rises in these markers of diabetes (The Endocrine Society’s annual meeting, March 20, 2018, Abstract SUN-071). The higher the dose of sucralose, the higher the rise in the markers of risk for diabetes. This study confirms other studies showing that the use of artificial sweeteners is associated with increased risk for obesity and diabetes (Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, Feb 23, 2017; Brit J of Nutrit, Sept 2014;112(5):725-734), even in people who are not overweight (BMJ, July 21, 2015).How Artificial Sweeteners Affect Gut BacteriaSeveral researchers have shown that artificial sweeteners can change the bacteria in human guts to raise blood sugar levels (Cell Metab, Nov 4, 2014;20(5):701-3). This study in humans confirms other studies in mice that artificial sweeteners may cause high blood sugar levels with increased risk for diabetes and weight gain by changing the bacteria in your colon (Nature, Oct 9, 2014;514(7521):181-6). Researchers showed that:• Mice that drank water with the artificial sweeteners saccharin, aspartame or sucralose developed much higher blood sugar levels after taking sugar.• High rises in blood sugar have been shown in many studies to increase risk for weight gain, diabetes, heart attacks, and premature death.• Mice that drank plain water did not develop this high rise in blood sugar.• Mice that were given antibiotics to kill most of their colon bacteria did not develop high rises in blood sugars after taking artificial sweeteners.• Many subsequent studies show that humans who regularly use artificial sweeteners have similar changes in the bacteria in their guts and are also at increased risk for developing high blood sugar levels.• One week of consuming artificial sweeteners changed the gut bacteria of apparently healthy humans to cause higher blood sugar levels after taking sugared foods and drinks.Other Ways Artificial Sweeteners May Increase Risk for Weight Gain and DiabetesArtificial sweeteners may cause you to:• Burn Fewer Calories: Researchers at Purdue University reported that rats that ate yogurt sweetened with saccharin consumed more calories, gained more weight and were fatter than rats that ate yogurt sweetened with sugar (Behavioral Neuroscience, Feb 2008;122(1)). The saccharin-fed rats did not lose the extra weight that they put on after they stopped taking saccharin. The rats who were kept on saccharin had a smaller rise in body temperature after eating than those who were fed sugar, and therefore they burned fewer calories.• Eat More Calories: There is PET scan evidence that taking artificial sweeteners activates the brain’s pleasure centers, causing you to want to eat more calories. Since you don’t get extra calories in artificially sweetened foods and drinks, you have to get them from somewhere else, so you eat more of other foods (Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, July 10, 2013).• Have Higher Blood Sugar Levels: Obese people who have taken aspartame or saccharin within 24 hours have much higher blood sugar rises after taking sugar than those who do not use these artificial sweeteners (Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, May 24, 2016). High blood sugar levels call out more insulin and high insulin levels increase weight gain and inflammation to increase diabetes risk.My RecommendationsMore than 40 percent of North Americans today have higher than normal blood sugar levels. Sugared drinks should be taken only during prolonged vigorous exercise. Artificial sweeteners are associated with higher blood sugar levels and weight gain, so I recommend avoiding them. I believe that water is the safest drink for quenching thirst. Unsweetened coffee and tea have also been shown to be safe as long as you do not take unreasonably large amounts.

APRIL 4

GENERAL

Try This Metabolic Diet And Lose 15-44 Pounds In 13 Days

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Even though this metabolic diet routine might seem a bit strict, if you manage to keep up with it, you can lose from 15 t o 44 pounds in only 2 weeks. Amazing, right? After the 13 days, you can go back to your usual diet, but with a new body.

During the diet, you should exclude beer, sweets, wine, and chewing gum and after the diet, you can repeat the diet, but only after six months, and then only after two years. Now, let’s take a look at the diet plan:

DAY 1

* Breakfast: a cup of coffee with half a tsp of sugar

* Lunch: 2 boiled eggs, 200 grams of cooked spinach, and one tomato

* Dinner: 200 grams of fried steak and a green salad with olive oil and lemon dressing

DAY 2

* Breakfast: a cup of coffee and half a tsp of sugar

* Lunch: 200 grams of ham and one cup of yogurt

* Dinner: same as Day 1 and a fruit

DAY 3

* Breakfast: the same as day 1 and a piece of toasted bread

* Lunch: 2 boiled eggs, a slice of ham, salad

* Dinner: medium-sized boiled celery, a tomato, a piece of fruit

DAY 4

* Breakfast: same as Day 1 and a slice of toasted bread

* Lunch: a freshly-squeezed orange or apple juice and a cup of yogurt

* Dinner: a boiled egg, a carrot, 200 grams of cottage cheese

DAY 5

* Breakfast: one carrot and lemon juice

* Lunch: 200 grams of boiled or fried salmon or trout with lemon and a tbsp of butter

* Dinner: 200 grams of steak, salad as on Day 1 and a piece of raw celery

DAY 6

* Breakfast: same as a Day 1 and a slice of toasted bread

* Lunch: 2 eggs and a carrot

* Dinner: 250 grams of chicken breast cooked or grilled and spinach salad with lemon and olive oil dressing

DAY 7

* Breakfast: a cup of sugarless tea

* Lunch: only water

* Dinner: 200 grams of grilled lamb chop and one apple

DAY 8

* Breakfast: a cup of coffee and half a tsp of sugar

* Lunch: 2 boiled eggs, 200 grams of cooked spinach, a tomato

* Dinner: 200 grams of fried steak, green salad with olive oil and lemon dressing

DAY 9

* Breakfast: a cup of coffee with half a tsp of sugar

* Lunch: half a slice of ham and a cup of yogurt

* Dinner: same as Day 1 and some fruit

DAY 10

* Breakfast: same as Day 1 and a slice of toasted bread

* Lunch: 2 boiled eggs, a slice of ham, and the same salad from Day 1

* Dinner: medium-sized boiled celery, a tomato, some fruit

DAY 11

* Breakfast: same as Day 1 and a slice of toasted bread

* Lunch: freshly-squeezed orange juice and a cup of yogurt

* Dinner: a boiled egg, a carrot, 200 grams of cottage cheese

DAY 12

* Breakfast: a carrot and lemon juice

* Lunch: 100 grams of boiled salmon with a spoon of butter and lemon

* Dinner: 200 grams of steak, spinach salad, a raw piece of celery

DAY 13

* Breakfast: same as Day 1 and a slice of toasted bread

* Lunch: 2 eggs and a carrot with lemon

* Dinner: 250 grams of grilled or cooked chicken breast, green salad with olive oil and lemon dressing

source

Read more: http://www.healthyfoodsolution.com/try-this-metabolic-diet-and-lose-15-44-pounds-in-13-days/#ixzz4mtoZbMR1

April 2

Why We Use Intermittent Fasting

A few years ago we became interested in all the research on intermittent fasting for various health benefits, and decided to try it ourselves. “Fasting” for various lengths of time has been shown to help prevent or treat:

• heart attacks (Research in Endocrinology, June 2014)

• diabetes (Translational Research, October 2014;164(4):302–311)

• certain cancers (Sci Transl Med, 2012;4:124ra127)

• premature death in animals (Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, May 2000;115(1–2)17:61–71)

“Intermittent fasting” does not mean complete avoidance of foods and drinks. Instead, you markedly reduce your intake of food during certain periods. The benefits of intermittent fasting can be seen as long as you significantly reduce your total caloric intake during those periods (Medical Hypotheses, 2006;67(2):209–11).

Intermittent fasting appears to work by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin and reducing an overactive immunity, called inflammation (Cell Metabolism, Feb, 2014;19(1932-7420):181–92). Various programs of intermittent fasting have been shown to:

• lower blood pressure (British Journal of Diabetes and Vascular Disease, April 2013)

• lower cholesterol and triglycerides (Am J Clin Nutr, Nov 2009;90(5):1138-43)

• reduce body fat (Int J Obes (Lond), May 2015;39(5):727-33)

• lower insulin (Am J Clin Nutr, Jan 2005;81(1):69-73)

• lower blood markers of inflammation (Free Radic Biol Med, March 2007;42(5):665-74)

• increase speed and endurance in athletes (Med Sci Sports Exerc, April 2016;48(4):663-72)

Types of Intermittent Fasting

Different researchers and authors have used different definitions of intermittent fasting for their studies, including:

• Daily limited-time fasting, such as eating only between noon and 6PM, eating three meals (morning, noon and early evening) and then fasting overnight from 6PM to 7AM, or eating only twice a day at the times of your choice

• Various combinations of fasting and non-fasting days in each week, such as fasting on alternate days, or 5:2 (five normal days and two fasting days, on the days of your choice)

• Monthly variations such as fasting five days each month

Research has not yet been able to prove that any one method of intermittent fasting is superior to other methods.

Our Version of Intermittent Fasting

We chose to follow a liberal alternate-day program of “fasting” because we can do it without keeping a calendar or making special schedules. When we have lunch or dinner dates with our friends, we let that take precedence and just skip that day or make the next day a fast day.

We eat a plant-based diet, with fish two or three times a week and occasional cheese. For breakfast every day, I eat oatmeal made with water and added raisins, and Diana eats cooked black beans. On “non-fast” days, we go out to eat our second meal between noon and 3PM, typically vegetables, salads, soups, seafood and fruits, with no limits on portion sizes. On “fast” days, we do not eat that second meal. Whether it is a fast day or not, we snack on nuts, fruits such as oranges and vegetables such as tomatoes or cauliflower, as often as we like. We know that no one can depend on will power, so we do not keep any other foods in our kitchen. We do not snack after 7PM.

Note that we eat only two meals a day on our regular days.  We decided many years ago that the three-meals-a-day pattern was just too much food for our needs and I think that is true for most people over 40, 50, 60, or wherever the weight starts to creep on.  We live in a large retirement community where we are surrounded by older people and what a sad picture it is; at least 80 percent and maybe 90 percent are overweight.  Usually our main meal is mid-day (noon-3PM) but if we are invited to join friends for dinner, we just adjust to their schedule and make our second meal “dinner” at their preferred time.

What This Program has Done for Us

After Diana’s accident two years ago, she found that she had lost more than three inches in height from compression fractures in her spine. She decided to use a strict program of intermittent fasting to bring her weight down to match her new height. She lost 15 pounds in six weeks, so where she had been 5’9″ and 135 pounds, she is now under 5’6″ and 120 pounds. I was so impressed with her results that I decided to try it myself. I am 5’10”, and after just a few months on the program, my weight had dropped from 168 to 138. See my report on Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss

When we reached our goal weights, we went to our more relaxed program and have since maintained our weights without much effort. Diana exercises vigorously every day even though she has severe rheumatoid arthritis, and she believes that staying active and keeping her weight down help to control the pain. I have to keep my weight low because of my genetic predisposition to store all my fat in my belly. I have very narrow hips. I had high blood sugar levels when I weighed 168 pounds, my father died of diabetes and my brother is diabetic.

Why a Fat Belly Leads to Diabetes

Storing fat in your belly, rather than your hips, increases your risk for diabetes because it shows that you are storing fat in your liver. When blood sugar levels rise too high, your pancreas releases insulin which lowers blood sugar levels by driving sugar from the bloodstream into the liver. Fat in your liver prevents the liver from accepting sugar from the bloodstream to keep blood sugar levels high. Almost everyone with a large belly and small hips already has high blood sugar levels and is at high risk for diabetes and heart attacks. In one study, intermittent fasting markedly helped decrease belly fat (Translational Research, October 2014;164(4):302–311).

Intermittent Fasting May Not Be for Everyone

Certain conditions may be complicated by fasting. Check with your doctor if you:

• are being treated for diabetes

• have low blood pressure

• take medications

• are underweight

• have an eating disorder

• are under age 14

• are pregnant or breast feeding, or may become pregnant

APRIL 1

Prostate Cancer and Heart Attacks

Heart attacks are the main cause of death in men diagnosed with prostate cancer (Circulation, Feb 4, 2016). More than 230,000 American men are newly diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. Because prostate cancer usually progresses so slowly, the more than three million living American men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer are at much higher risk for dying of heart attacks than they are of dying of their prostate cancer.

This is partly just statistics (heart attacks are the leading cause of death in men, and prostate cancer seldom kills), but patients also need to be told that some of the current treatments for prostate cancer can raise their risk for a heart attack. Doctors prescribe these treatments because they believe that the benefits outweigh any side effects they may cause.

1. Radiation increases risk for heart failure, irregular heartbeats and heart attacks. Women who receive radiation for breast cancer are also at increased risk for heart attacks (The Lancet, November 12, 2011;378(9804):1707-1716).

2. Chemotherapy drugs can damage the heart and peripheral blood vessels, increase risk for forming clots and raise blood cholesterol.

3. Giving drugs to block a man’s production of the male hormone, testosterone, to shrink prostate tumors increases risk for a heart attack in several ways (JAMA, Sept 22, 2015;314(12):1291 and British Journal of Urology International, March 2014). Blocking testosterone raises blood levels of the bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, increases body fat, decreases muscle and bone, raises blood sugar, increases insulin resistance, decreases sugar tolerance and increases risk for diabetes (Am J Clin Oncol, 35(5) 2012;504–509), all risk factors for heart attacks.

My Recommendations

If you are a man who is diagnosed with prostate cancer, you should work with your doctor to decide what treatments are best for you. All men with prostate cancer should be aware that they are far more likely to die from a heart attack than from prostate cancer. Men who adopt a more healthful lifestyle after being diagnosed with cancer are less likely to have that cancer recur (Journal of Clinical Oncology, Oct 20, 2012;30:3697-3704). Whether you choose “watchful waiting” or any of the available treatments, you should do everything possible to lower your heart attack risk. Follow ABCDE, the heart-attack-preventing mnemonic:

• Aspirin if indicated

• Blood pressure monitoring

• Cholesterol management and Cigarette avoidance

• Diet and Diabetes Prevention: eat lots of fruits and vegetables; restrict sugar-added foods and drinks, red meat and fried foods

• Exercise

Also keep blood levels of hydroxy Vitamin D above 50 nmol/L and lose excess fat if overweight.

March 31

Lectin-Containing Foods are Good For You
The latest fad diet tells you to try to avoid lectin-rich foods and to buy their products that are supposed to block lectins in the foods that you eat. However, scientific studies show that eating the common foods with high-lectin content is associated with living a long life and avoiding diseases such as heart attacks, certain cancers, and diabetes (JAMA Intern Med, 2013;173(13):1230-1238). These foods include:• legumes (dried beans, peas, lentils, peanuts)• whole grains (wheat, rice, oats, barley and so forth)• foods from the nightshade family (eggplant, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes)• foods from the gourd family (squash, pumpkin, zucchini)• many other fruits, vegetables and seedsWhat are Lectins?Lectins are a type of protein found in all forms of life, both animals and plants, including most foods. Lectins can bind to sugars on the membranes covering cells in your body or in other foods you eat. In small amounts, they can provide health benefits, but in large amounts, they can reduce your body’s ability to absorb nutrients or can even be highly toxic. An extreme example is the castor oil bean, a source of the lectin, ricin, which is used as a deadly chemical weapon. Fortunately for us, our ancestors figured out (through trial and error) which plants are edible and which are poisonous. They also discovered that some plant parts needed to be cooked to make them edible (such as dried beans, grains and potatoes).Why Virtually All Plants Contain LectinsPlants cannot run away from animals, insects or bacteria that try to eat them, so they need some other way to defend themselves. Many plants have evolved with lectins that can damage the intestines of animals and insects that try to eat them and make them sick or kill them. Lectins are found in large amounts in the seeds of plants where they prevent intestinal juices from digesting and damaging the seeds so the seeds can pass through the intestines of birds and other animals, to be dispersed on the land where they can sprout into new plants.Can Lectins Harm You?Lectins in uncooked or under-cooked dried beans and grains can bind to the lining of your intestines to cause vomiting, cramping and diarrhea. However, proper cooking destroys or reduces the amount of lectins to prevent this harm. Lectins are absorbed very poorly, but they can enter your bloodstream to turn on your immunity to cause inflammation (Biochem Soc Trans, 1989;17:481–482; Lancet, 1998;352:1831–1832), an overactive immunity that can attack and destroy your own cells, but many other studies show that fruits and vegetables help to decrease inflammation (J Am Diet Assoc, Mar 2009;109(3):414–421). The rest of the many claims that lectins cause cancer, auto-immune diseases and other ailments are at this time unproven and unsubstantiated by adequate research.Risks of Restricting Lectins• Trying to avoid high-lectin foods will deprive you of many foods with proven health benefits. People who eat a plant-based diet with whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables are at reduced risk for heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. See my report on Anti-inflammatory and Pro-inflammatory Foods.• The most popular low-lectin diet recommends eating foods made from white flour instead of whole grains. This is harmful advice since refined carbohydrates cause high blood sugar levels and therefore increase risk for diabetes and heart attacks. North Americans suffer from an epidemic of obesity and diabetes caused by eating a diet with lots of sugar and refined carbohydrates.• A lectin-avoiding diet will greatly reduce your intake of soluble fiber, an important dietary component for preventing and treating diabetes and heart attacks.• If you follow the advice of the lectin-avoidance advocates, you will spend a lot of money on their costly supplements, specialty milks, pasture-raised meats and so forth.Sensible Ways to Reduce LectinsThe same cooking process that reduces the gas-causing tendencies of beans also reduces their lectin content to a safe level. Soak the beans overnight, discard the soaking water and cover the beans with fresh water. Bring to a boil and then cook with the heat kept just under boiling until the beans are soft. Canned beans have been prepared using this process, so they are not high in lectins. Dry heat does not usually destroy lectins. Sprouted beans, grains and other seeds have low lectin counts. Green (immature) beans and peas have low levels of lectins. Standard methods of cooking whole grains in water destroy or reduce the lectins; if they are soft enough to eat, they are usually safe. Fermenting markedly reduces lectins.The nightshade family has toxic levels of lectins in the green leaves, stems and shoots, but the fruits (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers) are naturally low in lectins and are perfectly safe to eat. White potatoes should be cooked, which reduces their high lectin content to a safe level. If potatoes have green sprouts or a green tinge on the skin, they should be discarded. Sweet potatoes and yams are from a different plant family and are not high in lectins.My Recommendations• I believe that the recommendation to avoid foods rich in lectins flies in the face of epidemiologic data that shows that people who eat the most fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds are the healthiest, live the longest, and enjoy reduced incidence of diseases.• The healthful diet that I recommend is varied, balanced and high in plants. Do not eat unreasonably large amounts of any single food.• Follow the traditional cooking practices for dried beans and whole grains; our ancestors learned that these foods should not be eaten raw.• The expensive supplements promoted to reduce your incidence of supposed lectin disease are not supported by adequate research, and I do not recommend using them.

march 30

Why We Use Intermittent Fasting

A few years ago we became interested in all the research on intermittent fasting for various health benefits, and decided to try it ourselves. “Fasting” for various lengths of time has been shown to help prevent or treat:

• heart attacks (Research in Endocrinology, June 2014)

• diabetes (Translational Research, October 2014;164(4):302–311)

• certain cancers (Sci Transl Med, 2012;4:124ra127)

• premature death in animals (Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, May 2000;115(1–2)17:61–71)

“Intermittent fasting” does not mean complete avoidance of foods and drinks. Instead, you markedly reduce your intake of food during certain periods. The benefits of intermittent fasting can be seen as long as you significantly reduce your total caloric intake during those periods (Medical Hypotheses, 2006;67(2):209–11).

Intermittent fasting appears to work by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin and reducing an overactive immunity, called inflammation (Cell Metabolism, Feb, 2014;19(1932-7420):181–92). Various programs of intermittent fasting have been shown to:

• lower blood pressure (British Journal of Diabetes and Vascular Disease, April 2013)

• lower cholesterol and triglycerides (Am J Clin Nutr, Nov 2009;90(5):1138-43)

• reduce body fat (Int J Obes (Lond), May 2015;39(5):727-33)

• lower insulin (Am J Clin Nutr, Jan 2005;81(1):69-73)

• lower blood markers of inflammation (Free Radic Biol Med, March 2007;42(5):665-74)

• increase speed and endurance in athletes (Med Sci Sports Exerc, April 2016;48(4):663-72)

Types of Intermittent Fasting

Different researchers and authors have used different definitions of intermittent fasting for their studies, including:

• Daily limited-time fasting, such as eating only between noon and 6PM, eating three meals (morning, noon and early evening) and then fasting overnight from 6PM to 7AM, or eating only twice a day at the times of your choice

• Various combinations of fasting and non-fasting days in each week, such as fasting on alternate days, or 5:2 (five normal days and two fasting days, on the days of your choice)

• Monthly variations such as fasting five days each month

Research has not yet been able to prove that any one method of intermittent fasting is superior to other methods.

Our Version of Intermittent Fasting

We chose to follow a liberal alternate-day program of “fasting” because we can do it without keeping a calendar or making special schedules. When we have lunch or dinner dates with our friends, we let that take precedence and just skip that day or make the next day a fast day.

We eat a plant-based diet, with fish two or three times a week and occasional cheese. For breakfast every day, I eat oatmeal made with water and added raisins, and Diana eats cooked black beans. On “non-fast” days, we go out to eat our second meal between noon and 3PM, typically vegetables, salads, soups, seafood and fruits, with no limits on portion sizes. On “fast” days, we do not eat that second meal. Whether it is a fast day or not, we snack on nuts, fruits such as oranges and vegetables such as tomatoes or cauliflower, as often as we like. We know that no one can depend on will power, so we do not keep any other foods in our kitchen. We do not snack after 7PM.

Note that we eat only two meals a day on our regular days.  We decided many years ago that the three-meals-a-day pattern was just too much food for our needs and I think that is true for most people over 40, 50, 60, or wherever the weight starts to creep on.  We live in a large retirement community where we are surrounded by older people and what a sad picture it is; at least 80 percent and maybe 90 percent are overweight.  Usually our main meal is mid-day (noon-3PM) but if we are invited to join friends for dinner, we just adjust to their schedule and make our second meal “dinner” at their preferred time.

What This Program has Done for Us

After Diana’s accident two years ago, she found that she had lost more than three inches in height from compression fractures in her spine. She decided to use a strict program of intermittent fasting to bring her weight down to match her new height. She lost 15 pounds in six weeks, so where she had been 5’9″ and 135 pounds, she is now under 5’6″ and 120 pounds. I was so impressed with her results that I decided to try it myself. I am 5’10”, and after just a few months on the program, my weight had dropped from 168 to 138. See my report on Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss

When we reached our goal weights, we went to our more relaxed program and have since maintained our weights without much effort. Diana exercises vigorously every day even though she has severe rheumatoid arthritis, and she believes that staying active and keeping her weight down help to control the pain. I have to keep my weight low because of my genetic predisposition to store all my fat in my belly. I have very narrow hips. I had high blood sugar levels when I weighed 168 pounds, my father died of diabetes and my brother is diabetic.

Why a Fat Belly Leads to Diabetes

Storing fat in your belly, rather than your hips, increases your risk for diabetes because it shows that you are storing fat in your liver. When blood sugar levels rise too high, your pancreas releases insulin which lowers blood sugar levels by driving sugar from the bloodstream into the liver. Fat in your liver prevents the liver from accepting sugar from the bloodstream to keep blood sugar levels high. Almost everyone with a large belly and small hips already has high blood sugar levels and is at high risk for diabetes and heart attacks. In one study, intermittent fasting markedly helped decrease belly fat (Translational Research, October 2014;164(4):302–311).

Intermittent Fasting May Not Be for Everyone

Certain conditions may be complicated by fasting. Check with your doctor if you:

• are being treated for diabetes

• have low blood pressure

• take medications

• are underweight

• have an eating disorder

• are under age 14

• are pregnant or breast feeding, or may become pregnant

2 responses to “NEW Health Tips

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