Thursday, September 28, 2006

More on Boosting HDL Cholesterol

Welcome to our health & self help blog.

Focus on Your Health:

In it we post health commentary & reviews of books, eBooks, & other things that improve or protect your health or which enable you to live longer, to be more prosperous, & to be more effective.

Today's post: Thursday, 9-28-2006

More on Boosting HDL Cholesterol

(Our previous post has some excellent information on this. And, I didn’t post it all here.

You can see it by going to that earlier Post: Friday, 8-11-2006 Boost your HDL to protect your heart)

A man I like & have gotten to know had an HDL of 37 or 40. This is really low considering he does exercise & is making an effort to eat right. And, a higher level would be much more heart protective.

He added niacin to see what that would do, 300 mg with meals two or three times a day. Then, he switched to the time release Niacin.

My understanding is that more people have had problems with time release Niacin than with Niacin. Part of the reason for this is that it’s about twice as effective as regular Niacin, so it’s easier to overdose. But, I suspect it may also be because it doesn’t give your liver any time off from processing it.

And, he found that even though his HDL did go up when he retested it, it only went up 3 or 4 points.

He had made enough of an effort, he thought that the second test may have been off in part because the technician who tested him that time seemed to not let the automated testing equipment warm up properly.

He now has two choices. He can spend money on a doctor visit to be referred to a more expensive testing facility & pay more there to have a test done that might be more accurate.

Or, he can do more to protect his heart, regardless of his HDL level & add more things to boost his HDL; spend his money on that; & then get retested.

I think that choice will do much more to protect his heart. And, if the next test after that shows his HDL at 60 or above, the testing was likely accurate. On the other hand, at that point, if it still shows his HDL at just above 40, an immediate retest elsewhere might be justified.

My first suggestion to him would be this. Not all supplements have equal amounts as yet of the active ingredients stated on the label. And, my information is that time release niacin is less safe than regular niacin.

Lastly, when I took 300 mg at breakfast of regular niacin from Whole Foods Markets, although I was also doing other things to be sure, my HDL already well above 60.

But of more importance, when I then added 300 mg of Whole Foods Markets “No Flush” niacin, inositol hexaniacinate, at lunch each day & another 300 mg after dinner, my HDL went up over 10 points. And, it was high already. So I would also urge him to switch to that plan & to the Whole Foods supplements as, I believe they are effective based on my own experience. And, as these are the Whole Foods house brand, they are remarkably cheap besides. (I’ve always LIKED getting quality at a discount.)

The inositol hexaniacinate may also be a MORE effective agent to raise HDL cholesterol than regular niacin !!

In reviewing my post of Friday, 8-11-2006, I saw something I missed myself when I posted it.

And, I’ll put it in bold this time to make it stand out more.

I took this from,,

A common side effect of niacin is flushing which is the result of blood vessels opening wide.

However, another form of Niacin called Inositol Hexanicotinate (IH) or "No-Flush Niacin" is proven as an effective and safer alternative to niacin.[6]
In one study, Welsh and Eade reported that inositol hexanicotinate was more effective than niacin in regulating cholesterol levels."

So, it may well also have been that when I added the inositol hexaniacinate, to avoid the flush of regular niacin, I also used a more effective supplement without even realizing it.

So, if your efforts to boost your HDL have not gotten the results you want, try adding 300 mg at lunch & 300 mg at dinner of Whole Foods “No Flush” niacin, inositol hexaniacinate.

The other three things I did that he hasn’t yet tried that I know of are to take more kinds of HDL boosting supplements; take added antioxidant & health-enhancing supplements that protect his heart while he’s boosting his HDL, & add foods & supplements that both boost his HDL & protect his heart & health in other ways.

Curcumin fits this last category. I was taking it for its reported ability to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease & found this, that I posted last time in that I found on:

(I’ll also highlight the key parts in bold this time.)

"Ten human volunteers were given 500 mg of curcumin for seven days during a controlled trial at Amala Cancer Research Centre in India.
After seven days, they noted a 29% increase in good cholesterol (HDL) and a reduction of 11.6% total cholesterol. Lipid peroxidation was also reduced by 33%"

Given that my friend’s HDL is too low, something that will raise his HDL quickly, & seven days is VERY quick, is desirable. But, notice that even with his HDL of about 40, a 29 % increase would add about 11 or 12 points – quite a bit more than his last improvement. And, since preventing his LDL from oxidation will also protect his heart, having his body’s ability to do that boosted by 33 % is also very desirable.

The other supplement that fits the category of boosting HDL & protecting his heart & health in other ways I found on

(I’ll also highlight in bold this time as well.)

(I’d been taking it for quite some time already as Dr Julian Whitaker recommended Chromium in his books & had very good results with it in his patients.)

"Chromium (as Polynicotinate)

In a 2000 randomized controlled trial at King Abdulaziz University, 44 adults were given 200mg of chromium or a placebo was given in a double blind cross over study during 8 weeks resulted in decreasing triglycerides while increasing the mean high-density lipoprotein (HDL) significantly.[1] Another study conducted at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Israel, published in Metabolism in July 1992 reported that 76 patients who had heart disease were treated with 250 mcg of chromium increased their HDL level greatly.[2] In a 1991 study, 63 men at University of North Carolina suffering from hypertension and taking beta-blockers were studied. (Beta blockers are known to lower HDL and raise LDL cholesterol levels.) Chromium supplements increased HDL cholesterol levels by an average of nearly 6 points, a 16 percent increase. No side effects were observed. According to Harvey Simon, MD of Harvard Medical School, a 6-point increase in HDL, which was achieved in the chromium trial, should reduce the risk of heart attack by about 20 percent.[3]"

And, there is other good news about Chromium Polynicotinate. It has not had the reported problems that Chromium Picolinate has had. The polynicotinate part likely adds to the HDL boost.

And, chromium has been proven to help your body process sugars & other carbohydrates. That means that people who take it are more likely to avoid too high levels of glucose in their blood & to avoid getting type II diabetes. And, there is increasing evidence that too high levels of blood glucose & II diabetes are as BAD for your heart as high HDL levels are good.

So, since Chromium Polynicotinate does both, I recommend it highly. The other nice thing is that you don’t need to take much. Just one 200 mg capsule a day seems effective.

I find that I’m out of time today but will continue this topic in my next post.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Avoid ALL these foods? Ouch !! Part II

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Focus on Your Health:

In it we post health commentary & reviews of books, eBooks, & other things that improve or protect your health or which enable you to live longer, to be more prosperous, & to be more effective.

Today's post: Tuesday, 9-26-2006

Avoid ALL these foods? Ouch !! Part II

In Early to Rise recently, health writer Jon Herring, listed the foods that a Food and Drug Administration research report, released this past summer, on which common foods contain a carcinogenic chemical, acrylamide.

Acrylamide is apparently formed when a food containing carbohydrate is heated by baking, frying, toasting, or roasting.

It’s beginning to be clear that the foods that enhance health best are vegetables, fruits, health-safe protein foods, & health-enhancing fats & oils. And, it’s beginning to be clear that it’s best to eat low glycemic index foods for at least 90 to 95 percent of your diet, which these foods virtually all are.

So, Jon is quite right in saying that many of the high temperature cooked carbohydrate foods are best left uneaten anyway. So, in some ways, it’s a good thing to have an added reason not to eat them.

But, there are quite a number of such foods, & it’s hard to never eat any of them.

I’ve grouped them a bit as it makes it easier to understand & manage.

(We covered the snack foods & desserts listed in our last post.)

3. Breakfast Cereals & Brewed Coffee

Most of the packaged breakfast cereals that are toasted in making them -- like Corn Flakes & Cheerios, etc -- are quite high in glycemic index anyway; & some even have added sugar. So, they are at most a few times a year treat for someone trying to eat right.

But, it is too bad that cereals like shredded wheat & Grape Nuts are also toasted. If you like those, I think the best strategy is just to eat them much less often than you otherwise would.

The only good news is that many whole grain cereals like Oatmeal are unheated when you buy them; & then are cooked by boiling them in water -- which is apparently enough of a lower temperature to avoid this problem. And, these cereals are your best choice for health anyway.)

Brewed coffee is a special case.

(It took me a while to realize how coffee fits here. And then, I realized that the toasting is done to the coffee beans before they are ground. So, the preparation that’s done by brewing them is done after the toasting has already been done in the coffee bean processing stage.)

Of the foods listed here, coffee is the one that probably is most worth keeping anyway.

It’s the number one source of antioxidants in the diet of many people. In the amounts that best fit each person who drinks coffee, it definitely improves mood, feeling sharp & clear-headed, & actual mental performance.

It’s not as well known as it should be, but there is a point in coffee consumption where you drink enough that it keeps you from sleeping well the following night. And then you need the extra coffee the next day to compensate.

So, it’s best to keep your consumption to four cups a day or less & to drink all or most of it in the morning or perhaps early afternoon.

That way you get enough to be at your best & not overdo the consumption of this newly recognized hazard along with your coffee.

The other strategy is to drink only one cup of coffee first thing in the morning & then drink tea. And black tea & green tea have more antioxidants than coffee.

Or, you can simply drink tea only. If you have acid reflux or don’t process caffeine well you may have to do that anyway.

But most people who like to be mentally sharp & have used coffee will want to keep drinking it.

My take is that they should -- but in light of this newly discovered hazard, they should stop at four cups a day & perhaps drink a bit less.

And it would also be wise for them to follow other cancer preventing steps like eating cruciferous vegetables, avoiding cigarette smoke, & taking supplements believed to reduce the incidence of cancer like selenium & vitamin D.

(Both of these two can be harmful in super large doses; but there is some evidence that taking the minimum optimum daily amount as a supplement each day does cut your chances of developing cancer. 200 micrograms of selenium daily is likely safe; but taking more than that daily may not be.

Between your multivitamin & a separate supplement of vitamin D3, new information suggests that 800 to 1600 iu a day may be wise to take, particularly during the winter months climate wise as you get so much less sun-triggered vitamin D then.

But amounts over 2400 to 8,000 may not be safe. Exactly where in this range the line should be drawn is a bit controversial now. But if you want to take more than 1600, you should likely be doing it with your doctor’s input & possibly some blood tests of your vitamin D level to see if you really need more.)

4. Toast & Soft Bread

As we’ve covered in other posts, people who virtually always eat whole grain foods & never eat refined grain foods have better health. And, because whole grain bread has more fiber you tend to eat less of it anyway.

Also, whole grain bread doesn’t toast as well as refined flour white bread.

Three solutions occur to me. Get most of your whole grains as cereal cooked in boiling water & that is never toasted. Buy & eat only whole grain bread; & usually eat it untoasted. And, heat it for melting butter, on the days you want to indulge, in the warming oven at 250 or 300 degrees instead of toasting it – or, toast it only to lightly done & then put in the warming oven so you get to eat while it’s still hot.

5. Pizza; Burritos/Tostadas; & Breaded Chicken (& Baked Potatoes)

Baked potatoes weren’t on this list; but I’ve read separately that they do have acrylamide in them.

And, potatoes are quite high in glycemic index also. So, eat them very rarely if at all.

I have three strategies for these foods. (I like these foods myself. And, I think most people do.)

If you like them, just eat them a good bit less often. Try once a week to once a month instead of several times a week, for example.

Eat a slightly smaller serving & eat a cancer fighting vegetable dish, like coleslaw at the same meal.

Or, eat the ingredients without the part that has the flour & carbohydrates. Eat skinless chicken instead of breaded most of the time. Leave most of the pizza crust. Or fix all your favorite ingredients for a Burrito or Tostada without the wrapping at all & just enjoy the stuffing that you like.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Avoid ALL these foods? Ouch !!

Welcome to our health & self help blog.

Focus on Your Health:

In it we post health commentary & reviews of books, eBooks, & other things that improve or protect your health or which enable you to live longer, to be more prosperous, & to be more effective.

Today's post: Monday, 9-25-2006

Avoid ALL these foods? Ouch !!

In Early to Rise recently, health writer, Jon Herring, listed the foods that a Food and Drug Administration research report, released this past summer, on which common foods contain a carcinogenic chemical, acrylamide.

Acrylamide is apparently formed when a food containing carbohydrate is heated by baking, frying, toasting, or roasting.

It’s beginning to be clear that the foods that enhance health best are vegetables, fruits, health-safe protein foods, & health-enhancing fats & oils. And, it’s beginning to be clear that it’s best to eat low glycemic index foods for at least 90 to 95 percent of your diet, which these foods virtually all are.

So, Jon is quite right in saying that many of these foods are best left uneaten anyway. So, in some ways, it’s a good thing to have an added reason not to eat them.

But, there are quite a number of foods, & it’s hard to never eat any of them.

I’ve grouped them a bit as it makes it easier to understand & manage.

1. First are snack foods that I think he’s correct should likely be virtually eliminated from your diet in favor of snacks of fruit, vegetables, & nuts -- & occasionally dark chocolate.

Most of them have no fiber; have quite high glycemic index readings, & are still often or usually made with transfats.

French Fries; Potato Chips; Crackers; Pretzels; Bagels; & Corn Snacks.

2. Cookies; Pies; & Cakes

These are dessert foods & have added sugar besides. And, as now made by most commercial bakers, almost all have transfats. Home-made pies even are often made with shortening in their crusts. So they have transfats.

And, the average person in the US now eats at least five times too much of them today.

But, it can be nice a couple of times a month to have these foods. And, if they are home baked with no transfats added &/or with health enhancing fruit or nuts added, they aren’t that bad for your health otherwise.

My take on those is ONLY eat your favorite kinds; & be very careful to only eat home-made or made by a very health oriented baker who uses NO transfats. And only eat them rarely.

That way, by eating lots of cancer preventing foods like broccoli & by taking supplements that the evidence suggests tend to prevent cancer, like selenium; & staying away from cigarette smoke, you can still enjoy them occasionally.

There are three more categories we’ll cover in our next post.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Want help turning down office goodies? Part 2

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Focus on Your Health:

In it we post health commentary & reviews of books, eBooks, & other things that improve or protect your health or which enable you to live longer, to be more prosperous, & to be more effective.

Today's post: Friday, 9-22-2006

Want help turning down office goodies? Part 2

This continues yesterday’s post. So, if you didn’t see it, start there.

(And, it might even help if you saw it earlier to scan through it before reading this part.)

I saved the muffin label & its list of ingredients. There were several more ingredients in them probably best left uneaten, particularly in foods frequently eaten.:

Soybean oil. Because it is high in polyunsaturated omega 6 oils, so it’s not a good oil to cook with as they breakdown into forms that can damage your health over time.

But of more immediate importance, your body needs a balanced intake of Omega 3 & Omega 6 oils; & the great majority of people in the US get five times too much omega 6 oils & 4 times too little omega 3 oils which results in a higher rate of depression & lower quality of life & poorer health than a balanced intake.

So, if 95 to 100 percent of the time, you pass on foods containing soybean oil, corn oil, & safflower oil, you’ll be happier & healthier.

Propylene Glycol Monoesters. I’ve read recently that this one is harmful to your health. And, it’s NOT used in home cooking by any cooks I know about.

Sodium Aluminum Phosphate. It’s still controversial whether or not ingesting foods with aluminum tends to cause Alzheimer’s disease. But the most knowledgeable Doctor I’ve read recently on protecting your brain from such diseases is one who recommends you avoid consuming aluminum.

This ingredient is also in many double action baking powders -- including those many people use at home & is, as listed on the label I read, a leavening agent.

The good news is that an effective double acting baking powder that DOES NOT have this ingredient is readily available in most stores & is made by Rumsford.

Artificial flavors & colors. These may not be harmful to your health. But they are not really food or ingredients we have evolved to process well. If you eat a colored candy a few times a year, my bet is you are probably OK. But my bet is also that if you eat them several times a week, as most people do in the US now without reading labels on the foods they eat, that you will harm your health. So, it has to be a special occasion or a very special treat before I will eat a food with these things.

Sodium Benzoate & Benzoic Acid, preservatives. These are a bit of a mixed review.

They are added, like transfats have been, to improve the shelf life of the food. So, if these muffins were baked nearly a week, or maybe more, before people ate them in my office, they still taste good.

However, unlike transfats, preservatives also have some value in preventing bacteria that might make you sick from growing in the food.

But these particular ones may be carcinogenic when heated, I’ve read recently.

So, you are better off with home-made or freshly baked muffins that don’t have these ingredients.

So, when you add up the parts, these muffins were definitely a food you would do well to not eat. And, you’d be better off to wait until you have a chance to occasionally eat muffins from a recipe you really like that avoid ALL these ingredients.

The bottom line is if you avoid eating foods with problem ingredients, you will have better health; & your waistline & appearance will show it.

Here’s the other major reason I was easily able to pass on those muffins.:

2. The way I eat now, I enjoy my food; it fills me up; & I simply wasn’t hungry.

I’d eaten a breakfast with plenty of fiber from whole grains & with plenty of protein.

(If, as many people do, I’d not had ANY breakfast & was starving hungry, it would have been a LOT harder to pass on these muffins.)

And, studies show that NOT eating breakfast reliably produces this effect.

In fact, eating such office goodies from hunger from not eating breakfast, may be the explanation for the study finding that women who aren’t fat or who lose extra fat successfully virtually always DO eat breakfast.

And, I knew I had a lunch with a lot of flavor & fiber & with walnuts & pecans that I enjoy eating to look forward to about the time I was getting hungry.

And, my lunches fill me up enough, I had no interest in getting over-stuffed for muffins of marginal or health harming quality.

And, since these were commercially baked, I’d have only tasted one or two of the three kinds of these muffins, ONLY IF I’d read the label & only found health OK ingredients.
As I predicted & you’ve seen, their ingredients proved these NOT OK to eat.

In our next post, we'll cover something found in many baked & roasted, carbohydrate containing, foods that's a good bit more challenging to avoid.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Want help turning down office goodies?

Welcome to our health & self help blog.

Focus on Your Health:

In it we post health commentary & reviews of books, eBooks, & other things that improve or protect your health or which enable you to live longer, to be more prosperous, & to be more effective.

Today's post: Thursday, 9-21-2006

Want help turning down office goodies?

In many, perhaps most, offices that Americans work in today, it’s quite common for a manager or a co-worker to bring in “goodies” on a regular or frequent basis.

That happened at my day job yesterday.

There were 12 giant sized muffins & three large sweet rolls cut in half for 6 more treats.

Of these 18 goodies, half a muffin was left this morning.

I passed.

And, I thought it might help some of you to know both why I did & how I was easily able to do so.

First, you should know that I would have been tempted otherwise.

I actually like celebrations & sweet treats. When I was growing up I loved the frosting on cakes & often would get a piece & just eat the frosting & the little bit of cake that stuck to it.

And, I really like it when someone provides something I like as treat.

Why did I pass?

1. I saw that these were commercially baked. And I no longer ever eat such things unless I’m really starving. And even then I eat as little as I can stand even if it is something I like & tastes good.

2. The way I eat now, I enjoy my food; it fills me up; & I simply wasn’t hungry.

Here’s the details.

1. At this writing, virtually all commercially baked goodies tend to overdo sugar & they almost always use ONLY refined flour to make them.

And, just that alone means that you should eat such things maybe twice or three times or less if you don’t want to be fat or develop health problems.

(I prefer to use my few times a week on a bit of brown sugar on my Oatmeal twice a week & a large Hershey Chocolate bar with almonds once a week.

So I only allow myself more in very special circumstances a few times a year.)

But it gets worse from there. Virtually all commercially baked goods today contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (transfats) &/or high fructose corn syrup.

The safe amount of those two to eat is absolutely none at all. So, if I know either is in a food, I simply won’t eat it. I know better.

Am short on time today, so will post the rest of this next time.

(I saved the muffin label & its list of ingredients. There were several more ingredients in them probably best left uneaten, particularly in foods frequently eaten.)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Older now? This might improve your quality of life….

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Focus on Your Health:

In it we post health commentary & reviews of books, eBooks, & other things that improve or protect your health or which enable you to live longer, to be more prosperous, & to be more effective.

Today's post: Wednesday, 9-20-2006

Older now? This might improve your quality of life….

Are you over 50? AND:

Do you have less energy than you’d like?

Are you getting by on not enough sleep most nights?

Are you depressed at times?

Do you occasionally have problems with insomnia?

Do feel fried & depleted some afternoons & not just sleepy?

Do you need more than coffee to feel as energetic as you’d like?

If you answered yes to any of these my recent experience may interest you.

First, if any of these are really bad, you may have a disease & should see a doctor to get checked out because many of these can be due to diseases or medical conditions. And, if they are diagnosed & treated properly, can be cured or made much better.

Also, some medications can cause these reactions; & your doctor may need to adjust your dose or change to a different drug in your case.

But, if you are like me & you know you are short on sleep most days; &, if none of these is severe, you may just attribute it to being short on sleep or to getting older or both.

If so, what I discovered in my recent experience may be worth trying in your case.

I’d been under some extra stress over the past several months & noticed I was getting headaches, particularly first thing in the morning.

Since that can be a sign of high blood pressure; I hadn’t had mine checked in several months, & I had been under that extra stress during those months, I decided to have mine checked.

I went to a free blood pressure checking machine in our local Safeway.

Even though it may read a little on the high side if your blood pressure is higher than the desirable range, I was concerned to find I was just below the levels where doctors would prescribe drugs to bring it down.

(This machine, if your blood pressure is more than a bit above the desirable range, squeezes your arm like it’s been put in a vise; & that hurts enough it may add a few points to your reading.)

Even discounting that though, I wanted to bring it down to more desirable levels.

In Dr Stephen Sinatra’s recent book on lowering high blood pressure, he quotes a study that found that taking 100 mg of CoQ10 early in the day & again at about mid-day each day lowered the Systolic or large & listed first reading in that group by about 17 points.

And, he says many people have reported to him that they begin to have a much higher energy level if they take CoQ10.

As I wanted my blood pressure reading to come down by about that much, I decided to try the 100 mg of CoQ10 twice a day as described in that study – even though I was already taking 60 mg of CoQ10 each day with my breakfast.

Once my first week of this is up, I’ll check to see if it’s worked for me to lower my blood pressure.

But since I was already taking some CoQ10 & haven’t been getting enough sleep, it really didn’t occur to me I’d get any energy boost.

And, I didn’t over this past week-end -- on the first two days I took the added 200 mg of CoQ10.

Then, on Monday, when I have usually been really trashed from getting up three hours earlier than on Saturday & Sunday, particularly in the afternoon, I hardly even noticed feeling sleepy or tired & almost didn’t need my early afternoon tea.

And, I noticed my mood & energy level were better than on most days. It wasn’t a lot; & I didn’t feel any kind of buzz or stimulation. But it was enough to really improve how I felt that day.

And, when I felt that much better on a Monday, when I normally have been feeling quite a bit worse, it really got my attention.

And, I felt better yesterday & so far today also.

I completely understand this may be a placebo effect.

But, since CoQ10 IS known to increase the energy in each of the cells of the people taking it by helping each of their cells’ mitochondria function at their best, it may well be a real effect & be 100 percent due to the added CoQ10.

I feel enough better that I plan to keep taking it if I possibly can.

And, if you answered yes to some of the questions above, you might want to consider trying it also.

As author, Dr Maxwell Maltz once wrote, that’s an experimental question. The only way to know if it works for you is to try it & see.

And, it doesn’t hurt that CoQ10 in that amount improves the strength & health of your heart as well.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Why are people in US sicker than people in the UK?

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Focus on Your Health:

In it we post health commentary & reviews of books, eBooks, & other things that improve or protect your health or which enable you to live longer, to be more prosperous, & to be more effective.

Today's post: Tuesday, 9-19-2006

Why are people in the US sicker than people in the UK?….

You may have seen a few weeks ago the report that even though the per capita spending on medical care in the US is twice that in the UK, people in the US are less healthy than people in the UK.

Richer people in both countries tended to have better health than poor people. But the difference was so large that the average poor person in the UK was in comparable health to a rich person in the US.

No detailed studies have as yet been done as to why this is. But here is my take on why that’s so.

Here’s the summary.

1. People who eat real food, particularly those who avoid eating packaged foods with transfats (partially hydrogenated oils) or sugar or high fructose corn syrup added, tend to be in much better health than people who do eat large quantities of packaged, snack, & junk foods with these ingredients.

2. People who live lives that require them to walk even as little as a few minutes most days to a total of 500 calories a week, get fully 40 percent of the health & longevity benefits of an ideal exercise program that burns about 3500 calories a week.

3. People often do follow some of the better health & health protective ideas that they get from their doctors. And, since much of such advice, like quit smoking, is excellent, those people are much healthier than people who go to doctors who never give such advice.

4. People who have good social connection networks tend to have much better health & deal with stress better than people who don’t.

Next, I’ll say why I think the UK tends to provide these four things better than the US.

But, if you live in the US, you can sharply improve & protect your health by doing these four things for yourself, even if the average person here doesn’t yet know to do so.

1. Fast food, whether good or bad healthwise, &, at this writing, it’s still mostly bad -- & the packaged & food additive businesses were developed in the US. So, as the country where, for legitimate business reasons, much of this was developed, I strongly suspect that the per capita consumption of such foods & additives like high fructose corn syrup & transfats is higher here than in the UK.

In the UK, there are more traditional foods & recipes that date from earlier times; & I strongly suspect that the average person eats more real food & less harmful junk than the average American.

2. All of Western Europe, including the UK, developed economically based on train travel. Roads & cars were added later. And, many people in the UK live within walking distance of train depots; & their communities are often laid out so they can walk to where they want to go. That means even lazy, uninformed, & super busy people wind up walking several times each week.

The US started with trains; but then 80 or 90 percent of the rest of the country developed in connection with road building & traveling by car.

This gives people in the US wonderful freedom of movement & mobility & some economic advantages that flow from that.

But it also means the lazy, uninformed, & super busy in the US often do not get ANY exercise at all.

3. Precisely because there is less money available to treat diseases, doctors in the UK have, at least until recently, tended to do a much better job of offering advice that will help their patients avoid disease. Mercifully, that is changing from what I’ve seen. But it could still be a LOT better.

4. I may be wrong; but I suspect that both because the UK is older & has social traditions older than the US, they spend more time with people & less time with TV than do people in the US.

My guess is that people in the UK are more likely to go out to a Pub & socialize than stay home seated by themselves in front of a TV.

And, they are much more likely to walk or walk part of the way to get there, going back to the second point.

You can have better health than most of the people in both groups regardless of where you live.

1. Eat real food; & totally stop buying or eating food with harmful ingredients.

2. Particularly if you are in the US, be SURE to get regular exercise every week. And, with exercise, even a little bit, done every week, has huge benefits.

3. Don’t smoke or allow yourself to be exposed to second hand smoke. And, find a doctor who knows preventative medicine & who will give you such advice when he or she discovers you need it.

4. Get together with people you know socially as often as you can; & stay in touch with family & friends even if it’s just an occasional phone call, card, letter, or email.

That may not seem like a lot. But the studies show it makes an ENORMOUS -- & a predictable & reliable difference -- for your health.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Effective treatment for symptoms of Alzheimer’s….

Welcome to our health & self help blog.

Focus on Your Health:

In it we post health commentary & reviews of books, eBooks, & other things that improve or protect your health or which enable you to live longer, to be more prosperous, & to be more effective.

Today's post: Friday, 9-15-2006

Much more effective treatment for symptoms of Alzheimer’s….

Many of the actions you can take to protect or improve your health based on the information that I’ve posted here in this blog, will help you live longer.

Drinking real fruit or vegetable juice (& probably eating real fruit & vegetables) each week instead of drinking soft drinks helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease according to a study I saw reported online recently.

And, keeping your level of homocysteine low & taking CoQ10, that we had posts on last week, helps prevent age related mental decline -- as does regular exercise & NOT smoking.

So does taking action with exercise, diet, supplements, &, if necessary, statin drugs, to boost your HDL & keep your LDL low.

These two books:

Brain Longevity by Dr Singh Khalsa &The Better Brain Book by Dr David Perlmutter --

also cover other ways to prevent or possibly reverse age related mental decline.

But I got an email on Wednesday this week from Dr Mark Hyman who wrote the book UltraMetabolism.

And, that email both demonstrated what specific things can be done to treat the CAUSES of mental decline in someone who is already experiencing some severe symptoms & ways a doctor can test for those causes that was so well done, it was almost at a second & higher level of medicine.

If you or someone close to you is having symptoms, it might be worth taking to your doctor or their doctor.

It sounds like it could be expensive; but that may be LESS than the cost over time for the families involved of not doing these or similar things in such cases.

Dry Hyman reports essentially reversing what presented as a case of Alzheimer's disease.

Here’s his email:

Just because you have a diagnosis doesn't mean you know what's really wrong with you! Don't believe that? I didn't used to, either!

As a doctor, I was trained to believe that all people with the same diagnosis were the same. That means, I thought that one person's asthma was the same as someone else's asthma and that depression was the same in everyone. That made my job pretty easy -- once I made the diagnosis, all I had to do was match the pill to the ill, the drug to the disease.

What's wrong with this approach? When doctors practice medicine this way, we end up treating the NAME of a disease -- not the CAUSE.

The truth is, everyone is different, even people with the same diagnosis.

Take a group of people with the same condition -- let's say depression.

That group might be depressed, but they may have 10 different causes for it.

How does conventional medicine treat this group? Everybody gets an antidepressant -- and that's that.

But that's not how I practice medicine. The way I see it, if there are 10 different causes for depression in that group, we need 10 different treatments. So one person might need fish oil to help his brain work better, while another might have a vitamin B12 or folate or vitamin D deficiency, another might have a poorly functioning thyroid gland, another might have mercury toxicity -- and so on and so on.

Here's another way to think about it: Imagine that you're standing on a tack. How would you treat the pain? The obvious answer is that you'd take the tack out of your foot. You wouldn't just keep taking aspirin until it felt better. But that's exactly how most doctors treat illness!

If you have depression, you can take all the antidepressants you want, but if your sluggish thyroid isn't treated or your vitamin B12 level isn't restored to optimal, you won't get FULLY healthy.

Now imagine that you're standing on two tacks. Removing one of them doesn't make you 50 percent better. You have to find and remove ALL of the tacks if you want to feel better.

So that means that if you're depressed, you could have low thyroid, a B12 deficiency, and three other reasons for depression -- and they all need to be addressed. Plus, just one CAUSE can create 10 or more different diseases.

For example, if you have the gene that causes celiac disease (an intolerance to gluten), it can show up as nearly 100 different diseases -- from kidney failure to osteoporosis to iron deficiency to hypothyroidism to rheumatoid arthritis to psoriasis to chronic fatigue and so on. Most doctors will prescribe the right drug for the kidney disease, osteoporosis, iron deficiency, or hypothyroidism.

But treating all those conditions individually doesn't take the "tack" out of your foot -- and the cause of your problems won't be solved.

So if you're taking a drug that just masks your symptoms but doesn't treat the underlying problems, you may feel better for while -- but the disease keeps progressing.

It's like having a broken ankle. If you take enough pain medication and produce enough adrenalin, you could run on that ankle -- but the ankle won't heal. That's how modern medicine treats disease!

It's been said that, "The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents, and the oceans was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge." The same can be said for medicine.

What we think we know about disease just isn't working. That's why we are at a crossroads, where the old ideas we have about disease and diagnosis become less meaningful as we understand more and more about the importance of individual differences in determining illness.

In fact, we are at a time in medicine where the old ideas are rapidly becoming obsolete. The new medicine says the world is round, while the old medicine says the world is flat. It's clear where we're headed. This a time when personalized medicine will replace medicine based on diagnosis and disease. In fact, disease and diagnosis as we know it will soon be an obsolete concept -- just like blood-letting or phrenology (the art of diagnosis based on the shape of your skull).

Doctors treat obesity now just like they treat disease - a simple knee-jerk reaction that says "well, just eat less and exercise more". In fact, it's much more complicated than that as many of you reading this probably already know, which is precisely why I wrote UltraMetabolism -- to address ALL 7 of the major underlying causes of obesity so you can address them.

Treating patients this way is the basis of all my work.

This is the case. Blog editor. >>>>>

Take, for example, the story of a patient who had a diagnosis of dementia and came with his wife to see me because he could no longer manage his business affairs, had become increasingly unable to function at home, and had to withdraw from family and social relationships. He was desperate as he felt himself slipping away.

Let me give you a little background. There is no effective known treatment for dementia.

But we do know a lot about what affects brain function and brain aging: our nutrition, vitamin, omega-3 fat, and hormonal deficiencies, inflammation, environmental toxins, stress, and exercise. Our genes have also been found to contribute to dementia. It is not one gene, but the interaction between many genes and the environment that puts someone at risk for a chronic disease such as dementia.

We also know that many things affect how our genes function -- our diet, vitamins and minerals, toxins, allergens, stress, lack of sleep, exercise, and more.

Even though no long-term studies have yet been done looking at treating dementia based on genes, there are so many scientific threads that weave together a picture of how and why our brains age and what genes are involved.

That's why I felt confident treating this man -- whose mind and life were evaporating -- by addressing his genes. To do so, I looked deeply into his genes and the biochemistry they controlled and found places we could improve things.

For starters, he had a gene called Apo E4 that is a high- risk gene for Alzheimer's disease and also made it hard for him to lower his cholesterol and detoxify mercury from his brain.

He also had a version of a gene for detoxification of metals and other toxins (glutathione-S-transferase) that was very inefficient, making him accumulate more toxins over his lifetime.

He had another gene called MTHFR the made him require very high doses of folate to lower his blood levels of homocysteine, a substance that's very toxic to the brain.

Lastly, he had a gene called CETP that caused his cholesterol to be high, which also contributes to dementia. But that wasn't all. I also found that he had high levels of mercury, a toxic metal that affects brain health.

So how did I treat this patient?

First, I helped him detoxify by asking him to eat foods such as kale, watercress, cilantro and take herbs such as milk thistle, nutrients such as selenium and zinc, and medications that helped him overcome his genetic difficulties getting rid of toxins.

I helped him lower his cholesterol with diet and herbs.

And he lowered his homocysteine with high doses of folate.

What happened? Well, after a year of aggressive therapy that was matched to his particular imbalances, genes, and causes of his symptoms -- NOT his diagnosis -- he had a remarkable and dramatic recovery.

Let me remind you of what this patient had been like before. Before I saw him, he could not manage his business. His grandchildren didn't even want to be around him.

But after we matched his treatment to his genes, he was again able to function -- and his grandchildren again loved being with him.

I have no doubt that this treatment changed my patient's life -- and that this way of viewing disease is the new way of practicing medicine. This area of personalized medicine, genetic testing, and nutrigenomics is new, and more research is needed.

But it's clear that it's also an exciting way of looking at disease that's worth exploring.

Here's how:

1) Do your homework. You may need to do some research into your disease yourself. Good resources include government and organization websites that end in ".gov" or ".org."

2) Enlist your doctor. Ask him or her to help you go beyond your symptoms by ordering tests that can help identify root problems. Remember there are ways to find the cause - almost all diseases have a few fundamental causes, namely toxins, infections, allergens, diet, lifestyle and stress. Be a detective.

3) Consider finding an expert. You may have to search for a doctor who can think differently and address the causes of disease. Many of these doctors have been trained in Functional Medicine --not a new specialty, but a new way of thinking about health that addresses the individual genetic, environmental, and lifestyle causes of disease. Check out the find a doctor link below to locate someone who has been trained in the basic concepts of systems medicine (Note: the training and background of each person on this list may be different so be sure to evaluate each practitioner individually). ==>

4) Read up. I recently contributed to the Textbook of Functional Medicine, which lays down these principles for practitioners. You can learn more about this at: ==>

Remember, if you have a diagnosis, you don't necessarily know what's wrong with you. But there are ways to look through new doors into an entirely new era of medicine that no longer focuses on the disease, but on the person and their uniqueness.

As William Osler, the father of 20th century medicine, said, "It is more important to treat the person who has the disease, than the disease that the person has."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

More on How to live a long life….

Welcome to our health & self help blog.

Focus on Your Health:

In it we post health commentary & reviews of books, eBooks, & other things that improve or protect your health or which enable you to live longer, to be more prosperous, & to be more effective.

Today's post: Thursday, 9-14-2006

More on How to live a long life….

Tuesday’s news about longevity seemed to me to give some great tips on how to live a long life. Today we cover a couple of additional factors, besides the ones we wrote about in yesterday’s post, that may help account for the longevity in Colorado, Utah, Iowa, the Dakotas, & Minnesota -- & in the New England states in the top ten.

1. I’ve read that the divorce rate is quite a bit lower in the Dakotas, Iowa, & Minnesota than in the rest of the country. Colorado & Utah are high in Mormons who tend to build strong & stable families. From own observation, I’ve seen that the Dakotas, Iowa, & Minnesota tend to have functional & stable families.

And, though I don’t know New England well, I understand that it has had a tradition of stable communities that are high in civic participation going back to before the Revolutionary war in the 1700’s. And, from what I’ve seen, Minnesota has similar traditions.

You may not live in these places or want to -- or you may live in one of these states in a neighborhood that’s not like that – but it looks quite likely to me that to the extent you make an effort to make your own family functional, to treat your other family members well, & to spend time with them & talk with them, your chances of longevity increase.

The research on social networks that people have or don’t have is related to this because it shows that people with good social networks of friends & family tend to have much better health, including lower, & more desirable levels of blood pressure than people who don’t.

And, there’s even some studies that suggest that most people who wind up getting divorced would have been happier AND HEALTHIER if they had kept their marriages together & made more of an effort to improve or accept the things that went wrong.

Similarly, people who take an active interest in their community & participate actively in it, tend to develop good social networks personally as part of the process.

So, whether you do it with your family, the people where you worship, or your community, building your social networks will build your longevity.

And, the states where that happens more often, tend to have people who live longer.

2. Hawaii was the number one state; & I suspect that its diet with more fruits & fish & its climate with clean air & temperatures conducive to year-round outdoor recreation & exercise is largely why.

Hawaii’s mild climate also helps tend to prevent some illnesses & it definitely prevents things like freezing to death & harmful accidents due to ice & snow.

Interestingly, many of the other states in the top 10 have bitterly cold & snowy winters, many with below zero temperatures.

I suspect that one of the reasons for the higher longevity in states in the top 10 like; Colorado, Utah, Iowa, the Dakotas, & Minnesota -- & in the New England states in the top ten, is that the people & the communities that developed & survived there learned to be more prudent & responsible & to do intelligent preparation & prevention than the people do in states with less harsh conditions.

It seems to me that there’s no doubt that people who avoid life threatening risks & take precautions & preventative steps to prevent such things live longer than people who don’t.

The people in these states have winters that tend to teach that lesson well. And, apparently the people who live there learn those skills.


Alzheimer’s disease & similarly severe kinds of senility also shorten life. Our next post has some fascinating, & apparently effective methods to treat such things.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

How to live a long life….

Welcome to our health & self help blog.

Focus on Your Health:

In it we post health commentary & reviews of books, eBooks, & other things that improve or protect your health or which enable you to live longer, to be more prosperous, & to be more effective.

Today's post: Wednesday, 9-13-2006

How to live a long life….

Yesterday’s news about longevity seemed to me to give some great tips on how to live a long life.

First, the researchers who did the study said that they found 7 factors that seemed to be of most importance in determining longevity.

The article said they were listed in the order of importance. However, as you’ll see, all but the most important one interact with each other, so the order of the other 6 is less useful in terms of ranking. But it’s quite useful in terms of using the principles to live longer.

1. Don’t smoke & avoid second hand smoke.

Smoking literally does so many bad things that completely avoiding it adds years to your life. And, it tends to make you sick & degrade your quality of life even well before it kills you years early.

It increases your level of homocysteine significantly. And, the amount of homocysteine that puts into your blood has been found to accelerate aging, damage your brain, & to harm your circulation, which tends to trigger things like stokes, heart attacks, impotence, peripheral artery disease& even foot amputations.

I’ve even read that smoking lowers the level of your protective HDL cholesterol & makes what you have left over not work as well to protect you.

Small wonder that smoking kills many more people from cardiovascular disease than it does from cancer.

A study I saw reported recently found that smoking produces cancer by damaging the DNA in your cells & then disabling your cell’s ability to repair the damage on top of that.

The states that had the highest longevity tend to bear this out also. California & Minnesota, which were in the top 10 longest lived states, have led the nation in banning smoking from public places. And, Utah, & to some extent, Colorado, also in the top ten have a strong anti-smoking lean due to their high numbers of Mormons who generally do not smoke.

2. Alcohol. People who drink regularly but relatively lightly, 3 to 9 drinks a week, seem to have the best health.

But people who drink more, or considerably more, than 14 drinks a week -- tend to become fatter, be in more serious car accidents, including fatal ones, & get more cancers. And, they also are more likely to develop high blood pressure. They also may lose jobs & get divorced or land in jail due to the consequences of their heavy drinking.

And, NONE of those things help you live longer. So either abstain or only drink one or two drinks a day.

3. Obesity. This one is both a cause of life threatening diseases & a result of doing the wrong things in the other factors in this list.

To become fat, people drink too much, drink & eat things with high fructose corn syrup, eat foods with transfats, eat far too few vegetables, & get far too little exercise.

And, both those actions or nonactions & obesity tend to cause things like heart disease & type II diabetes which degrade your quality of life, increase your medical expenses, & may well kill you early besides. There is also some evidence obesity & lack of exercise tend to cause cancer or make harder to survive cancer.

4. High Blood Pressure. Being fat & most of the things that tend to make you fat also tend to give you high blood pressure. And, high blood pressure damages your heart & sharply increases your risk of all kinds of strokes.

And, although there have been some recent improvements, many of the drugs to control high blood pressure tend to degrade your quality of life. Plus, they cost money people with desirable levels of blood pressure don’t have to spend.

Also, people who have excessive stress or who handle it poorly, tend to get high blood pressure; but high & unrelieved stress damages your health directly as well in many ways.

5. Bad Cholesterol levels.

We now know that avoiding low levels of the protective HDL form is more important than lowering LDL or total cholesterol. But, since high LDL IS harmful, the most useful cholesterol measure is the ratio of HDL to LDL or to total cholesterol.

People who eat transfats, who eat too much fatty meat, butter, & cheese -- all with high saturated fat content, who get too little exercise, or smoke, or who fail to take B vitamins & other supplements that raise HDL or lower LDL, & those who eat too little vegetables, tend to have bad cholesterol ratios.

Mercifully, all these causes are reversible.

6. Diet. The different cuisines around the world that produce good health & longevity differ in many ways; but they all have some things in common. The Mediterranean diet is the best. But many Asian cuisines like Japanese & Chinese are almost as good.

They all feature lots of vegetables & a large variety of vegetables. That seems to be the most important thing they have in common.

They tend to use a lot of onions & garlic. They are relatively low or very low in meat, cheese, & saturated fat.

And, they often feature fish & seafood.

The extra virgin olive oil used in the Mediterranean diet is not only a fat that tends to give you higher HDL readings & lower LDL readings, the antioxidants in it, due to it being less refined, tend to protect your health.

And, these cuisines have a relatively low level of refined carbohydrates & sugar –AND, virtually no high fructose corn syrup or transfats.

People who eat that way tend to NOT be fat & to rarely get cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, & get far fewer cancers.

In the top 10 states, Hawaii, the number one state, & California have, I think, more people who eat this way.

7. Exercise.

Exercise tends to prevent obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, & cancer. And, it directly increases your level of the most protective fraction of HDL.

And, regular exercise also literally helps you to think better & tends to make you much more stress proof & stress resistant.

I suspect that states like Hawaii, California, & Colorado make the top 10 list in part because more people there exercise outdoors for recreation.

And, in Iowa, the Dakotas, & Minnesota, & in the New England states in the top 10, people tend to get extra exercise dealing with the snow in the winter.

Next time, we’ll cover a couple of additional factors that may help account for the longevity in Iowa, the Dakotas, & Minnesota -- & in the New England states in the top ten.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Why to escape from soft drinks….

Welcome to our health & self help blog.

Focus on Your Health:

In it we post health commentary & reviews of books, eBooks, & other things that improve or protect your health or which enable you to live longer, to be more prosperous, & to be more effective.

Today's post: Monday, 9-11-2006

Why to escape from soft drinks….

You only try to escape from things that will harm you if don’t.

The evidence has been building for some time that both regular & diet soft drinks ARE dangerous & will harm your health.

And, they BOTH tend to make you & keep you fat.

Today, in the MSN Health & Fitness section, we found an article that explains this research so well, we’ve quoted several excerpts from it & have added our comments below that.

“The case against Soda”

the average American-who drinks 18 ounces, or two full glasses, of soft drinks a day. In fact, according to a study last year, soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks have become the largest source of calories in the American diet, replacing white bread. The proliferation of soda tells the story: 450 different varieties are sold in the United States. While soft drinks are still king, with sales reaching $68.1 billion in 2005, sports drinks sales have increased 19.3% over the past year to $1.5 billion.
People may think they're doing something healthy "by grabbing a bottle of Powerade instead of a can of Coke," says Kara Gallagher, PhD, an assistant professor of exercise physiology at the University of Louisville and a Prevention advisor. But at 10 calories per ounce, that Powerade is almost as bad as a can of Coke, which has 12 per ounce. "Unless you're exercising vigorously, you don't need sports drinks. They have a lot of empty calories, just like anything else," she says.

Liquid sugar is a problem-but the type of sugar used in the majority of soft drinks may be making things worse. Although the research is controversial, there's evidence that the man-made high fructose corn syrup used in most sodas fails to suppress the production of ghrelin, a hormone made by the stomach that stimulates appetite.

"Unlike carbohydrates containing 100% glucose, such as the starch found in rice, potatoes, bread, and pasta, fructose doesn't seem to trigger the hormones that help you regulate appetite and fat storage," says Peter Havel, PhD, a nutrition researcher at the University of California, Davis. "So the body never gets the message to stop eating." Drink a six-pack of cola-900 calories, or about half of the total calories the average woman would need for a day-and your body feels no fuller than if you'd just swallowed water.

Researchers found that women who drank one or more sugary drinks a day gained more weight and were 83% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who imbibed less than once a month.

"Anything that promotes weight gain increases the risk of diabetes," explains Ludwig of Children's Hospital Boston, one of the researchers. "But rapidly absorbed carbohydrates like high fructose corn syrup put more strain on insulin-producing cells than other foods." When sugar enters the bloodstream quickly, the pancreas has to secrete large amounts of insulin for the body to process it. Some scientists believe that the unceasing demands that a soda habit places on the pancreas may ultimately leave it unable to keep up with the body's need for insulin.

Also, insulin itself becomes less effective at processing sugar; both conditions contribute to the risk of developing diabetes.

Interestingly, women who consumed a lot of fruit juice-which is high in natural fructose-were not at increased risk of diabetes, leading researchers to speculate that naturally occurring sugars may have different metabolic effects than added sugars. They also speculate that vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals in fruit juices may have a protective effect against weight gain and diabetes, counterbalancing the adverse effects of sugar.

Diet sodas may not even help ward off weight gain. When researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center examined data from the San Antonio Heart Study, a 25-year look at health habits, study author Sharon Fowler, an epidemiologist at the center, found that the more diet sodas a person drank, the greater his or her risk of becoming overweight.

An explanation may come via a recent animal study by researchers at Purdue University. They found that artificial sweeteners can interfere with the body's natural ability to regulate calorie intake. This could mean people who consume artificially sweetened items are more likely to overindulge.

Most scientists agree that when it comes to bone health, diet drinks are just as harmful as sugar-sweetened ones. Because diet soda lovers tend to substitute these drinks for milk, they're at higher risk of calcium deficiency.

Sugar-free drinks aren't healthier for your pearly whites, either. "There's a myth that diet soda is okay because it's not sugary," says Poonam Jain, director of community dentistry at Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine. Her research revealed that diet drinks were nearly as acidic as regular; thus they, too, can erode tooth enamel and lead to tooth decay.”

Here are our added comments.:

Two additional pieces of information are worth noting:

1. Many people, particularly women, have lost truly astonishing amounts of excess fat just by giving up soft drinks & adding a modest amount of regular exercise to their lives.

The woman who was featured in the MSN article lost 90 pounds doing just that.

And, one of the women who works in the office where I do, lost 25 pounds recently & really looks great. I asked what she did. She gave up soft drinks & started going to the gym just twice a week.

2. Most of the alternatives to soft drinks have health BENEFITS.

For example, a recent study found that people who drink as little as four or more glasses of fruit & vegetable juice total each week, have a dramatically lower risk for getting Alzheimer’s disease.

For people who need a mild caffeine kick, green tea works; & its antioxidants protect your health & seem to help prevent most cancers, including breast cancer & prostate cancer.

Even the antioxidants in coffee are health protective. And, even though there aren’t as many antioxidants in coffee as in green tea, coffee may actually help prevent Parkinson’s disease & Cirrhosis of the liver quite a bit better than green tea.

People who do OK drinking milk & who drink nonfat or 1 percent lowfat milk tend to have lower blood pressure than people who don’t -- & that’s in addition to the protein, B2, B12, calcium & added vitamin D they provide.

And, no surprise, people who drink a few glasses of water each day are considerably less fat than people who don’t according to yet other studies.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Take Statins or Blood Pressure Drugs?

Welcome to our health & self help blog.

In it we post health commentary & reviews of books, eBooks, & other things that improve or protect your health or which enable you to live longer, to be more prosperous, & to be more effective.

Today's post: Thursday, 9-7-2006

Take Statins or Blood Pressure Drugs?

There’s a serious problem with statins & some blood pressure drugs. Mercifully, some doctors do finally know about this, particularly in the case of statins.

But, I suspect the majority of the doctors who prescribe these drugs don’t yet know them.

So, if you take these drugs or someone important to you does, today’s post has some information you should know.

First, the good news:

Used correctly, these are good drugs for most of the people who take them based on the research I’ve seen. Used correctly, they do tend to prevent heart attacks & strokes or at least help to do that significantly.

A. Despite what some health sources that I otherwise find sound are saying, high levels of LDL cholesterol are NOT wise no matter what. The harmful fractions of LDL act very much like sand or glue would inside your car’s engine. LESS of them IS better for you.

And, statin drugs do reliably lower LDL.

B. Mean blood pressure of 120 & over is harmful. And, drugs that reduce it below that protect you from heart disease, strokes, & unnecessarily early death.

This has been well established by the research done on it.

[To estimate mean blood pressure, you add one third of the difference between the Systolic reading (the larger one listed first) & the Diastolic reading (the smaller one listed second) to the Diastolic reading.

So, if you have a reading of 160 over 100, one third of the difference is 20; the estimated mean blood pressure is found by adding that 20 to the 100. So, it’s 120.]


Taking statin drugs & some blood pressure reducing drugs, lowers CoQ10 in your body.

And, since many people who take these drugs start out with low levels of CoQ10 due to being older, this results in quite low levels indeed.

This makes you feel depleted of energy & tends to make you tire easily.

In addition, it tends to trigger or make worse a condition called congestive heart failure.

In his book, called The Better Brain Book by David Perlmutter, MD, Dr Perlmutter also says low CoQ10 may make strokes more likely & be harmful to your brain & ability to think & remember.

These effects can largely be avoided, he finds, if you take 100 mg a day or more of CoQ10.

This knowledge is relatively new to the medical community; & in my own experience, many doctors, even reasonably good ones otherwise, don’t yet know it.

Mercifully, this effect IS becoming better known to doctors.

If your doctor doesn’t yet know it, by all means refer him or her to Dr Perlmutter’s book.

And, whether or not you do that, give strong consideration to taking CoQ10 yourself.

It looks to be essential to your health if you take these drugs. And, it has significant advantages even if you don’t -- as researchers are beginning to report.

It’s, unfortunately, one of the more expensive supplements although it costs a lot less than the drugs. But it is available in virtually every health food store.

Dr Stephen Sinatra, in his book on lowering blood pressure, quotes a study that found that taking 100 mg or more of CoQ10 tended to lower high blood pressure even when that was the only thing done to do so.

And, it’s quite common to experience a good deal more energy when you take CoQ10 if your initial level of it is at all low.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Take Reflux Drugs or Antacids?

Welcome to our health & self help blog.

In it we post health commentary & reviews of books, eBooks, & other things that improve or protect your health or which enable you to live longer, to be more prosperous, & to be more effective.

Today's post: Tuesday, 9-5-2006

Take Reflux Drugs or Antacids?

If you do take drugs to protect you from acid reflux or if you take effective antacids to protect you from heartburn & do it often,

you may be at considerable risk from accelerated aging, senility & mental decline, & heart disease. Ouch !!

Even worse, this knowledge is relatively new; & in my own recent experience, most doctors, even reasonably good ones, don’t yet know it.

It’s in these four parts.:

1. High homocysteine levels tend to cause or accelerate or do both for these conditions:


Age onset mental decline both directly & from reduced blood flow;

Alzheimer’s disease;

& cardiovascular & heart disease.

Most doctors are at least familiar with this part.

2. Homocysteine readings of 9.0 & higher are high enough to tend to do these things. (See my source below.)

And, many, if not most, doctors & some labs still think 11.0 readings & lower are “normal.” Readings of 6.0 to 7.9 are the desirable range to shoot for.

3. Most doctors today do not know yet that if you take drugs to protect you from acid reflux or if you take effective antacids to protect you from heartburn & do it often, you no longer digest B vitamins well enough to protect you from increases in & high levels of homocysteine. And, you should be tested & take corrective supplements as a result.

Some doctors are aware that elderly people with quite low stomach acid may no longer digest vitamin B12 well & need extra B12. And, many doctors know that vitamin B12 is essential in preventing high homocysteine levels.

Unfortunately, most doctors have not yet learned that less severe reductions in stomach acid caused by these prescription drugs to combat acid reflux & over the counter drugs to combat heartburn have a similar & dangerous effect.

4. Part of the problem is that most doctors do not yet know what supplements reliably bring down homocysteine.

The methyl form of B12 in 500 mg or 1,000 mg doses per day; & folic acid in 800 mg doses daily -- added to a good multivitamin plus mineral tablet AND a good B complex supplement will help most people.

The combination of a good multivitamin plus mineral tablet AND a good B complex supplement will have significant amounts of B6 which is also very important, possibly more than 50 mg a day but not much more. Amounts of over 100 mg of B6 a day have produced nerve problems & should be avoided. But if the multivitamin & the B Complex you take have less than 50 mg a day total, adding 25 mg more B6 may be helpful.

If that fails to lower homocysteine enough, adding the supplements TMG &
n-acetylcysteine, or NAC, can lower homocysteine further.

Food components & supplements that donate methyl radicals are apparently, critical to avoiding excess homocysteine. (TMG is trimethyl glycine.)

Some doctors do know these things.

Over this past week-end I discovered a book called The Better Brain Book by David Perlmutter, MD.

(It’s currently available on Amazon & in many bookstores in a quality paperback edition.)

He treats people who develop brain problems & makes it quite clear that each of these 4 things is true. And, his experience & the research he’s read make him quite certain.

We’ll post his other major & separate point about a second side-effect of many drugs that can damage you in other ways.

Meanwhile, if you have not had your homocysteine level checked yet -- or you’ve requested it & been turned down, Doctor Perlmutter’s book is a source you can use to inform your doctor.

Friday, September 01, 2006

More on how & why to avoid transfats

Welcome to our health & self help blog.

In it we post health commentary & reviews of books, eBooks, & other things that improve or protect your health or which enable you to live longer, to be more prosperous, & to be more effective.

Today's post: Friday, 9-1-2006

More on how & why to avoid transfats

Today’s blog is taken from an email I got from Dr Mark Hyman,
author of the new book Ultrametabolism.

He did such a great job; & the topic is so important, I wanted to share it with you.

All the words are his but I did delete sections to make the best & most useful of his information easier to read & use.

And, I’ve put some sections in bold, that he did not, to emphasize what I see as his best points.

Clearly, if you have any interest at all in escaping from being fat & sick or preventing it, it’s imperative that you avoid consuming transfats.

Dr Hyman starts by saying they are even worse than I knew. Ouch !!

And, I already knew they create heart disease; & probably make people fat; & make it more likely they’ll get type II diabetes.

Then he does a great job in explaining how to avoid them.

Here’s Dr Hyman:

“….take a look at the new labeling laws for trans fats. These unhealthy chemically altered fats are found in almost every processed food, even though they're known to be one of the causes of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and dementia.

Clearly, trans fats aren't fit for human consumption and should be completely eliminated from our food supply. “

”…. through powerful lobbying efforts, the food industry was able to put a big loophole in trans fat labeling laws. That means you can now buy the same old junk food -- with "zero" trans fats.

But read the label's fine print, and you'll find the words "hydrogenated fats." The catch: Unless you know food chemistry, you probably don't know that hydrogenated fats are the very same thing as trans fats!

Is this false advertising? Well, not exactly. According to the new law, manufacturers can claim that their products are trans-fat-free if they contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fats PER SERVING (1/2 cup).

But we know that most people eat the whole box or package of food and rarely eat just one serving. Most packaged foods contain 2 to 4 servings, which are usually never shared.

That means you are getting a lot more trans fats per snack or meal!

Plus, another loophole in these labeling laws allows companies with a storehouse of printed labels to use them until 2007, even if they don't indicate the amount of trans fats in the food. That means that a company could have printed a year's worth of labels on December 31, 2005 -- so it can use them on foods with large amounts of trans fats for a whole year. Sneaky, right?

You think you're getting trans-fat-free food, but you're really eating trans-fat-FULL food! And if you're eating these foods on a regular basis (as the $33 billion that the food industry spends on consumer marketing helps ensure), then you're still eating a lot of trans fats.”

“…. my philosophy is based on eating unprocessed, organic, whole, real foods -- as close to nature as they were created -- whenever possible.

The best approach to buying and eating food is simple: If it has a label, don't eat it! Unfortunately, as we all know, that's not always possible or practical.

So here are some guidelines for being a more educated consumer and learning how to read between the lines on the labels.

==> Reading Food Labels: If You Really Have to Buy Something Processed

While the "if it has a label don't eat it" rule is the ideal, consumer demand has led to the creation of many foods that are clean, whole, simple and that actually have clear labels. They tend to be found in whole-foods stores or the health-food section of your grocery store. (By the way, if there is a "health-food" section in the grocery store, what does that make the rest of the food sold there?)

My general rule: Be a smart label reader. Labels contain both the ingredients and specific (but not all) nutrition information.

If the label lists any ingredients that you don't recognize, you should likely stay away from it. Follow these tips, too: 1) Don't be duped by marketing. Remember, the front of the label is food marketing at its most clever. It is designed to seduce you into an emotional purchase and may contain exaggerated claims. 2) Look for quality ingredients. High-quality organic whole foods are now available in packages, cans, and boxes.

3) Check the order of ingredients.

The most abundant ingredient is listed first and then the others are listed in descending order by weight. If the real food is at the end of the list and sugars or salt are at the beginning of the list, beware.

4) Consider what's NOT on the label. Foods that are exempt from labels include foods in very small packages, foods prepared in the store, and foods made by small manufacturers.

5) Look for additives or problem ingredients.

If the product contains high-fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, put it back on the shelf.

As I explained earlier, simply looking at the level of trans fats can be deceptive; you need to look at the actual ingredients to sniff out these dangerous fats.

6) Look for ingredients that don't agree with you. Identify food ingredients you are sensitive or react to, such as gluten, eggs, dairy, soy, tree nuts, or peanuts. Be vigilant about reading labels, as these ingredients are often "hidden" in the foods you least suspect. The labeling of common allergens is not always clear or helpful.

7) Investigate unfamiliar ingredients. Search the Internet to find credible sources of information about any unfamiliar ingredients on the label before you buy. These include such as carmine, Quorn, and diacylglycerol. Credible Internet sources tend to be government or educational sites, which end in ".gov" or ".edu" rather than ".com."

8) Discover if any "functional-food ingredients" are being added to the food product. Though they may be helpful, more often than not, they are "window dressing" present in small amounts, and with minimal value -- except to the marketing department of the manufacturer. Examples of this include live active cultures added to high-sugar, high-fat yogurt or vitamins and minerals added to gumballs! In other words, it's best to get healthful, functional-food ingredients from their whole-food sources, rather than as additives to otherwise nutritionally empty foods.

9) Finally, ask yourself: Would your great-grandmother have served this food? Before you analyze the numbers, ask yourself if this food could have been served at your great-grandmother's table. She only served real food.

==> Understanding Nutrition Labels: Think Low GL and High PI Glycemic Load (GL) is a measure of how quickly a food enters your bloodstream. The lower the GL, the better your health. Phytonutrient Index (PI) means the amount of colorful plant pigments and compounds in food that help prevent disease and promote health. The higher the PI, the better.

Here are some questions to ask when you read nutrition labels:

1) Is this a typical serving? For example, a cereal label may give the nutritional profile of a 3/4-cup serving when your typical portion is really 1 1/2 cups. Worse, the label may say that it contains 2 or more servings, when most people consume the whole amount in the container or bottle. Have you ever known 4 people to share one pint of Hagen Daaz ice cream?

2) Are the carbohydrates high GL or low GL? Remember, the total amount of carbs is less important than where the carbs come from. If they are found in foods with a low GL and high PI, they will have a very different effect on your appetite and weight than foods that are quickly absorbed and have few nutrients and fiber.

3) Where's the fiber? It is one of the main factors that determine GL, and fiber can also give you a clue about the PI of a food. Many packaged foods contain no fiber, while some healthy items such as oils, spices, and herbs are naturally void of fiber. If convenience items such as soups, entrees, or snacks are missing this key fiber factor, leave them on the shelf.

4) What are the total carbohydrates? Remember, the type of carbohydrates is what matters most. If they are from whole plant foods that contain plenty of fiber or have a low GL, their effect is very different from fiberless foods. The same amount of carbohydrates from a can of beans and from a can of cola affects the body in very different ways.

5) Where are the good fats? Monounsaturated and omega-3 polyunsaturated fats should dominate this category, with minimal amounts of saturated fat and zero trans fats (present on foods labels from 2006 on). Unfortunately, omega-3 fats are rarely listed independently on labels, but are listed as part of the polyunsaturated fat family. Other polyunsaturated fats -- like corn oil and safflower oil -- are less than healthful but also show up in this section of the label.

This list of rules may sound daunting, but once you begin analyzing food labels, you'll quickly get a feel for what's good and what's not - and your body and mind will thank you for that for years to come.

Try heading to the grocery store and reading labels with your new perspective.”