Wednesday, April 25, 2007

New way to stop migraines….

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.

We do posts on staying healthy; preventing disease; aging more slowly; weight loss; exercise; nutrition; & news in medicine.

Today's post: Thursday, 4-25-2007

New way to stop migraines….

It’s been known for some time that people who exercise regularly tend to NOT get migraines. And, people who get migraines but don’t exercise & who manage to begin exercising regularly, tend to have considerably fewer migraines.

1. The information I recently saw helps explain WHY regular exercise helps to prevent migraines.

2. And, the exciting part is that you can also create this key effect of exercise in other ways.

So by using those other methods AND regular exercise, the effect you can have on reducing migraines or preventing them entirely goes up dramatically.

3. In addition, there is a kind of exercise that tends to work best to achieve this effect.

The missing link or underlying cause is this: Apparently, the vascular effects of insulin resistance tend to reliably cause migraines.

The good news is that insulin resistance is mostly reversible.

The really bad news is that it tends to cause type II diabetes & cardiovascular diseases if it gets bad. And, doctors are now beginning to find out that migraine sufferers may indeed be at higher risks for these diseases.

So, what reverses insulin resistance?

1. Regular exercise & physical activity. Even walking a few miles each week or doing housework or gardening can help. The ideal is to do both exercise & physical activities each week. Before TV & taking cars to go everywhere, most people did that.

Today, you have to turn off the TV sometimes & make time to walk or exercise to get it done. And, you have to do it every week.

2. Regular strength training & vigorous “cardio” exercise work better than mild exercise to turn off insulin resistance.

They also cause more vascular flexing & create more vascular flexibility, if done regularly, than mild exercise does. And that also helps to prevent migraines I suspect.

3. Eating refined grains & excess sugar or drinking regular soft drinks tend to trigger insulin resistance.

So the cure is to stop eating or drinking that stuff.

Some whole grains are OK for some people. But health OK proteins & oils like nuts & beans & lentils; sardines; beef fed only grass; extra virgin olive oil & avocados are best.

So are abundant green & nonstarchy vegetables. Whether in vegetable dishes like steamed broccoli or green beans or in salad greens they help a lot to normalize blood sugar.

And, guess what !!

People who stop eating low fiber, high carb, low nutrition foods & eat better -- plus do regular exercise including strength training each week also tend to lose excess body fat and keep it off.

4. Lastly, there are foods & supplements that help lower excessive blood sugar & increase insulin resistance.

a) All tea boosts the effectiveness of your insulin I read recently. Regular, black tea; oolong tea; & green tea all work. And, green tea has extra health benefits. So tea makes an excellent substitute for soft drinks. And, tea has more health benefits if you add neither sugar nor milk to it.

b) Do you like chocolate?

Another drink that increases insulin effectiveness is unsweetened cocoa. It has a lot more health benefits if you use the unsweetened kind & add no sugar or milk. But you can add a ton of the cocoa if you really like chocolate.

And, like dark chocolate, strong unsweetened cocoa also lowers high blood pressure by increasing the flexibility of your blood vessels & the ability of your blood vessels to relax.

That likely means that a cup of hot cocoa with a lot of cocoa might even help turn off a migraine in progress.

c) The same article said that cherries; blueberries; & most other berries have anthocyanins that increase insulin effectiveness.

d) Many sources report that cinnamon helps reduce blood sugar levels that are too high.
Specifically, that means that if you do add sugar to a dish, you’ll have better insulin response if you also add a generous amount of cinnamon.

e) Bilberry extract & grape seed extract are supplements high in anthocyanins that may also help.

f) Chromium polynicotinate helps normalize blood sugar control & likely improves insulin resistance. And, it tends to raise your levels of the beneficial HDL cholesterol & lower your bad LDL cholesterol as well.

g) Magnesium supplements also help blood sugar control. And, in many people who don’t get enough in food, they also help lower blood pressure.

If you get migraines at all, let alone get bad ones often, you might do yourself a favor by doing ALL of the above.

And, since everything on this list has many other health benefits, you’ll also be a LOT healthier.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Poss. Law could harm your health & bank account

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.

We do posts on staying healthy; preventing disease; aging more slowly; weight loss; exercise; nutrition; & news in medicine.

Today's post: Tuesday, 4-24-2007

A proposed law could harm your health & bank account….

This law, if my information about it is accurate & it were passed, could prevent you and your doctor from giving you the most effective, safe, & least expensive care.

And, since it likely will do this to hundreds of thousands of Americans, it will cause unnecessarily poor healthcare & at even higher costs than we have now.

This is NOT a desirable law. If anything we need laws that effectively do the reverse.

Since it’s been proposed in the United States Senate, I sent my two senators this message.:

Dear Senator (& I listed their names),

Please Vote against the "Safe Drug Compounding Act" that is being proposed.

As now written, if my information is accurate, it will drive up health care costs & harm the public health for a large number of Americans. A worse bill would be hard to imagine than one with those effects.

It may be good for some businesses. But even though I am pro-business, I'm only in favor of ethical ones!

And I do NOT support businesses that pollute to make money or who otherwise harm the public health.

There is a piece of legislation that is apparently proposed by Senators Kennedy (D/MA) Burr (R/NC) and Roberts (R/KS)with Safe Drug Compounding Act as its title.

In an email to me (& others) Al Sears MD writes that this legislation would prevent him as a doctor in prescribing the exact dosages of medications that his patients need.

And it would prevent him from choosing the best drugs for his patients by eliminating some of the choices he has found superior (both more effective & safer) through his own practice and experience.

Here are his comments.

"The latest bill going to congress, the “Safe Drug Compounding Act of 2007” would make many natural compounds and medications from a compounding pharmacist illegal.

A compounding pharmacist is a specialist who can mix, blend and prepare customized medications and dosages according to your doctors instructions. That may not sound important to you, but it could have a profound impact on your life.

There’s not a single day that goes by in my practice that I don’t use compounding pharmacists. Why? Because it’s better medicine ..... Here’s an example: A patient needs a small dose of a blood pressure drug – let’s say 6 mg. But the smallest dose offered by a drug company is 25mg. In that case, I’ll have a compounding pharmacist custom prepare a 6 mg dose of that drug.

It’s simple, effective and very economical. Prices are much lower when you can buy directly from the pharmacist."

It's a fact that people are biochemically individual. Studies show some people need larger than standard doses because their bodies remove drugs so efficiently. Similarly, some patients are the reverse & need smaller doses than standard doses.

And, this is NOT trivial. Overdoses of some medicines can be life threatening.

In addition, the dosage a patient needs over time can go down. The patient Dr Sears speaks of with high blood pressure might go on the DASH diet that is high in vegetables & low in salt; go to Weight Watchers regularly; & begin walking 3 miles on most days.

In that event, they may lose 40 pounds & need even smaller doses of the medication to get superb control of his or her blood pressure.

If only standardized doses are available, such a patient & that patient's doctor have a choice between no drug at all, even if they need it, or an overdose.

If Dr Sears report of this proposed bill is at all accurate & this bill becomes law, this kind of harm will happen throughout our country to hundreds of thousands of people until it's changed somehow.

And, the patients or the health insurers will have to pay more than they would have had to pay for the dosage actually needed.

Our health care costs are already rising so fast it's beginning to threaten our economy & make us less competitive in the world economy.

For either of these reasons this bill is extremely ill advised.

Please, please, vote against it. And, let me know you did so!

David Eller

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Organic food MUCH more important than was known

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.

We do posts on staying healthy; preventing disease; aging more slowly; weight loss; exercise; nutrition; & news in medicine.

Today's post: Monday, 4-23-2007

Buying organic food is MUCH more important than was known before….

1. It may be imperative to keep eating well or at a price you can afford.

This one is new information: ‘One-third of the U.S. diet depends on pollination, mostly by honeybees.”

And, the recent news is that up to fifty percent of all bees in the United States & much of Europe have disappeared from the hives of many beekeepers.

Imagine a world where there is virtually no fruit; no nuts; no wine; & many of the most health-enhancing vegetables & plants from which we get important supplements are simply no longer available. And, a world in which food supplies have dropped by one third & food prices have doubled in constant dollars.

That’s what losing our bees might well do to us.

No one yet knows why the bees are simply getting lost & disappearing on the way home from pollinating our food plants. It might be a new disease; it might be that they need air with less CO2 in it to navigate properly; or it might be that the sharp increase in radio energy from cell phones & the several new kinds of radios is throwing them off.

But, given the lingering effects of herbicides & pesticides, I suspect that our dramatic overuse of those is the main cause.

But, if true, this is simply the worst of many similar problems from our current use of pesticides & herbicides. The style of agriculture that needs them also demands a very high intake of fossil fuels which increase our overproduction of CO2.

To stop poisoning our earth we live in, we need to aim for buying only organic foods.

2. Foods with low levels of pesticides & herbicides, such as is the case with most conventionally grown produce, may NOT be safe for your health after all.

I read recent research that found that people who ate such food were OK if not stressed.

But, if they did experience significant stress, they developed health problems that people who ate only organic produce didn’t get.

Most of us are more stressed than we’d like. And, virtually everyone gets more stressed than they’d like occasionally.

Why eat foods that make it more likely you’ll get sick when this happens to you?

3. Recent research shows that organic produce is MUCH more nutritious in the sense of helping you to have good health & avoid illness.

Produce where pesticides a& herbicides are used has close to the same vitamins & minerals often. But some of the most important compounds in fruits & vegetables are the phytonutrients or micronutrients that prevent cancer & other diseases.

And, compared to produce where pesticides & herbicides are used, organic produce is MUCH higher in those.

How to buy more organic foods.:

1. When you can easily afford organic foods & those choices are available to you, always choose organic foods.

2. Where the foods you buy are only available at a price you can afford in other than organic choices, try to buy less of that kind of food;

do things to increase your income so you can afford organic choices;

or shop at stores like Whole Foods Market that tend to carry reasonably priced organic foods.

And, watch for sales or that kind of organic produce.

3. Support politicians who will vote for the public health; & vote against politicians that don’t get it.


If pesticide & herbicide use is taxed to compensate for its environmental damage; and if the use of herbicides & pesticides is much more carefully and thoroughly regulated, organic produce will be more affordable than produce where herbicides & pesticides are used.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Low Glycemic load diets DO help create fat loss….

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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.

We do posts on staying healthy; preventing disease; aging more slowly; weight loss; exercise; nutrition; & news in medicine.

Today's post: Friday, 4-20-2007

Low Glycemic load diets DO help create fat loss….

A headline in Reuters on line health news yesterday said: “Glycemic Load has no effect on Weight Loss”

And, the abstract or brief preview of the article suggested something similar as well.

But, BEWARE misleading & false headlines.

The study then described proved nothing of the sort.

So the headline was wrong for that reason.

And, two relatively recent other studies prove that the headline is wrong.

Perhaps more important is the fact that people who eat a low glycemic load diet are MUCH healthier than people who eat a high glycemic load diet. There is abundant research on that also.

Roughly speaking the glycemic load of a diet or a meal or a food is a measure of how much effect it has on creating rapid rises in your blood sugar.

Here’s what happened & more precisely why the headline is wrong.

Researchers got two groups of people who were willing to eat what the researchers put on their diet plan – no more & no less.

Each group was then given a diet that was somewhat calorie restricted and had more vegetables in it than the average American now eats.

One group was given foods within the daily calorie restriction but with lower glycemic load foods other than the vegetables. The other was given higher glycemic load foods other than the vegetables but with exactly the same calories.

Both groups then lost the same amount of weight on the scale.

This proves that weight loss on the scale tends to be reliably produced by moderate calorie restriction. That’s already established as mostly true. So that’s not news

(Studies recently show Weight Watchers is one of the most reliable & proven ways to lose weight & fat. And they achieve that precisely because they have worked out a way to make it practical & doable for people to achieve moderate calorie restriction.

But, the people who succeed in sticking with Weight Watchers program figure out that they must eat a lot of nonstarchy, green vegetables -- which are very low in glycemic load; & they do so. Weight Watchers makes it blatantly obvious by assigning such vegetables ZERO points.)

The fact that both groups in the study apparently were able to stay on the diet was because both diet versions had a lot of vegetables; the study period was not long; & the calorie restriction was moderate.

But -- & this is a HUGE but – other studies have found that weight loss & fat loss are NOT the same. The researchers seem NOT to have looked at whether or not there was a difference in the FAT lost between the groups. If the lower glycemic load diet had more protein since protein foods are usually low glycemic foods, other studies suggest strongly the lower glycemic group lost more FAT.

2. Since both groups ate a lot of vegetables which are mostly VERY low glycemic foods, the comparison was between moderately low glycemic load intake & low glycemic load intake.
They didn’t include a third really high glycemic load group. Such a diet would have been unhealthful for the third group for one thing.

3. But here is the real & most forceful reason the headline is false, people who followed a calorie restricted really high glycemic load diet with virtually no vegetables would have dropped out and messed up their study.

Those poor people would simply have gotten too hungry to stay in the study.

In real life, the people who stay trim or who lose fat they keep off permanently do so by eating enough protein; health OK fats & oils; and fiber, mostly from nonstarchy, green vegetables that they can eat this way forever and mostly NOT get hungry or malnourished.

And, protein foods, health OK fats & oils; & foods high in fiber are ALL very low glycemic load foods !!

In this limited time study, the participants in both groups simply ate what they were given.
So, the research did what it did do, yes. But what it clearly did NOT do is show that you can eat other than a low glycemic load diet and stay free of excess body fat.

And, it most definitely did NOT show that you can stay free of excess body fat permanently eating high glycemic load foods.

So, anyone who read the headline & thought that it meant they could lose fat permanently by eating high glycemic load food but just eating less –
and who tried it, would be bitterly disappointed in the long term fat loss they experience.

That notion has been tried by most dieters & most diets. It fails over 95 percent of the time. And, other research shows that people who experience such failures damage their health.

So the headline was not only totally false & misleading it was dangerously so.

Be warned by this post so you don’t get fooled too.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Benefits & new information on Omega 3 oils….

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. We do posts on staying healthy; preventing disease; aging more slowly; weight loss; exercise; nutrition; & news in medicine.

Today's post: Wednesday, 4-18-2007

Benefits & new information on Omega 3 oils….

A recent article was so well done on the benefits of omega 3 oils I include it first today. There is also new information on how to get the most benefits from omega 3 oils & I include that second.

This is the first part of today’s post: This article appears courtesy of Early To Rise, the Internet’s most popular health, wealth, and success e-zine. For a complimentary subscription, visit :

A Magic Pill That Is Essential to Your Health By Jon Herring

What if there were a magic pill that could raise your children's IQ, improve their behavior, and cause them to pay more attention in the classroom? And what if the same pill could improve your cholesterol and triglycerides, reduce inflammation, and lower your risk of heart attack and stroke?

But that's not all. This magic pill would also reduce the risk of cancer and diabetes, improve arthritis symptoms, foster weight loss, reduce asthma and allergies, increase fertility and improve sexual function, fight cognitive decline, reduce wrinkles, improve skin tone, and increase your overall energy.

It might sound too good be true, but it's not. All of these health benefits - and many more - are right at your fingertips.

But they don't come from a "pill." They are well-documented benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats are absolutely essential to life. Your body just won't work properly without enough of them.

And considering that omega-3 fatty acids are in short supply in the modern diet, most people are deficient.

The best food sources of omega-3s are eggs, grass-fed beef and wild game, and fatty fish. (Always choose fish you know to be free of mercury and other toxins.) These sources are rich in DHA and EPA, the omega-3 fatty acids your body needs most.

You can also get omega-3s from plant sources, like flax seeds and walnuts, but you'd have to eat large amounts to get close to the levels of DHA and EPA you can get from animal sources.

The easiest way to consume a sufficient amount of these essential fats is to take a fish oil supplement. The brand I use is Carlson's. There's no fishy taste, it's been proven to be mercury-free, and it's available in just about any health food store.


The new information on Omega 3’s:

Actually, it’s not entirely new as many people have known it already & even written books on it.

But yesterday’s health news online on Reuters reported a study that shows how many benefits this second approach can have.:

The second principle that allows you to get the most out of ADDING more omega 3 oils is to also LOWER or limit the amount of omega 6 oils consumed

---as it’s the balance or ratio between the two that produces health effects or problems depending on the ratio. And, most people in the United States now take in too much omega 6’s as well as too little omega 3’s.:

From Reuters online news on 4-17-2007 “

Fatty acid (imbalance) tied to depression and inflammation

(I added the word imbalance for clarity & accuracy. David)

By Anne Harding Tue Apr 17, 1:11 PM ET NEW YORK (Reuters Health) -

The imbalance of fatty acids in the typical American diet could be associated with the sharp increase in heart disease and depression seen over the past century, a new study suggests.

Specifically, the more omega-6 fatty acids people had in their blood compared with omega-3 fatty acid levels, the more likely they were to suffer from symptoms of depression and have higher blood levels of inflammation-promoting compounds, report Dr. Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser and her colleagues from Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus.

These compounds, which include tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin-6, are "all-purpose 'nasties' for aging," and have been tied to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and other ailments, Kiecolt-Glaser told Reuters Health.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods such as fish, flax seed oil and walnuts, while omega-6 fatty acids are found in refined vegetable oils used to make everything from margarine to baked goods and snack foods.

The amount of omega-6 fatty acids in the Western diet increased sharply once refined vegetable oils became part of the average diet in the early 20th century.

Hunter-gatherers consumed two or three times as much omega-6 as omega-3, Kiecolt-Glaser's team notes in their study, published in Psychosomatic Medicine, but today Westerners consume 15- to 17-times more omega-6 than omega-3.


How to eat less omega 6 oils.:

1. Use only extra virgin olive oil in most cooking. Soy & corn oils are high in omega 6’s while extra virgin olive oil is not. Extra virgin olive oil is mostly monosaturated omega 9’s.

2. Eliminate all refined grain foods; & at least cut your consumption of whole grains to a moderate level. Grains tend to be high in omega 6’s; & the hunter-gathers we are descended from ate virtually no grains. This step is also a key to not getting fat or staying fat as it forces you to eat more vegetables.

3. To the maximum extent you can avoid eating meat that has been grain fed or penned up & force fed EVER. Wild caught salmon; sardines; nuts; beans & lentils; beef fed ONLY grass; & similar foods are healthful protein sources that do NOT have a lot of omega 6’s.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Eating to keep off unwanted bodyfat is NOT a fad….

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.

We do posts on staying healthy; preventing disease; aging more slowly; weight loss; exercise; nutrition; & news in medicine.

Today's post: Thursday, 4-12-2007

Eating to keep off unwanted bodyfat is NOT a fad….

Yesterday, the Food & Wine section of our local newspaper ran a story by Janet Helm of the Chicago Tribune entitled: Urban Food Legends.

She gets most of her facts right; & the list she includes of popular diet books from 1864 to 2007 is very well done.

However, she also says, under How to Spot a Fad: “Avoid diet plans that require you to eliminate entire categories of food or rely on expensive supplements.”

To give her credit, some of the food categories eliminated by some diets are not that good for your health or doable; & she is absolutely correct so far in saying that taking supplements for fat loss as your main method is virtually always a waste of time & money.

(Many supplements do protect your health. But the few like green tea extract that help you lose fat only are about one percent effective. That may change one day. But don’t count on it.

And, since eating right & getting the right exercise every week DO help you avoid or lose unhealthy extra body fat & also have HUGE health benefits, adding supplements to lose fat is simply unnecessary. Further, the people who do try to rely on supplements only seem to STAY fat.)

However, most people in the United States & most food companies still seem to think that soft drinks & refined grains are normal, safe, & OK to drink & to eat.

Unfortunately, there is very convincing evidence that both regular & diet soft drinks actively make people fat. And this is particularly true when consumed several times every day by sedentary people over 30 years old.

So, guess what? If you don’t want to get fat or stay fat, it’s NOT a fad to eliminate them from what you eat & drink – or do so about 99.8 percent of the time.

That’s NOT a fad or a myth. It’s a FACT.

Whether sweetened by sugar -- or worse, by high fructose corn syrup – regular soft drinks add calories to your intake but do NOT make you less hungry.

Diet soft drinks are sweetened with compounds that many health writers believe are not entirely safe to consume.

And, surprisingly, the studies show they fatten just about as much as regular soft drinks when people drink them regularly.

It seems that when your body gets the taste of sugar but not the effects it manipulates your hunger hormone to make you hungrier & hungry for a real sugar fix. So even though the diet soft drink had no calories, you’re more likely to add a candy bar to it. And the amount of sugar you take in remains about what it would have been had you drunk a regular soft drink.

This, eliminating them from your diet for health & fat loss reasons, is also true of artificially hydrogenated oils.

Partially hydrogenated oils contain transfats (often also called trans fats). These directly trigger a large increase in the kind of LDL cholesterol that causes heart & vascular disease when eaten. They also help make you fat since they add calories & no nutritive value. And, they may help trigger type II diabetes. Thankfully, they are on the way to being totally outlawed.

Unfortunately, I read recently that fully hydrogenated oils are being substituted by some food companies to avoid the bans on transfats.

These are sometimes called interesterified fats or oils.

These apparently also trigger a large increase in the kind of LDL cholesterol that causes heart & vascular disease when eaten. But they are MUCH worse than partially hydrogenated oils since they also definitely trigger type II diabetes.

So, it’s NOT a “fad” to eliminate from what you eat any food that has partially hydrogenated or interesterified or fully hydrogenated oils. Eliminating these unnatural fats from your diet IS a prudent way to protect your health; lower your future medical bills; & to live longer.

And, eliminating them also will help you avoid or lose unhealthy extra body fat. Foods that contain them like crackers, cookies, pastries, pie crusts, cake, & ice cream tend to be foods with a lot of sugar and refined grains or both.

And, eating less of those at least 95 percent of the time is a proven way to avoid or lose unhealthy extra body fat.

Eliminating foods with refined grains definitely helps avoid or lose unhealthy extra body fat. They deliver very little nutrition &, worse, have no fiber. So, like sugar & regular soft drinks, they add to the calories you take in without making you less hungry.

And, their health track record is as bad. People who eat a lot of refined grains are not only fatter, they are more likely to get type II diabetes & heart & cardiovascular disease.

People who eat only whole grains tend to be in better health than people who eat refined grains; but unless they get huge amounts of exercise each day & do so every day, they tend to be fatter than is good for their health.

Eliminating whole grains AND refined grains IS getting to be more popular. This may prove to be a temporary thing which would make it a fad.

And, I’m the kind of person I dislike giving up things I’m not certain I have to, so I plan to continue to eat some whole grain foods a few times a week.

But many of the people who have given up all grains by eliminating whole grains AND refined grains have lost most of their extra bodyfat.

The explanation seems to be that humans evolved before they started eating grains. So we tend to digest & use them much less well than natural protein foods, vegetables, & fruits.

So, I do plan to cut my consumption of whole grains by 80 or 90 percent. And, if, when I do, my waist measurement goes down by several inches, I will definitely do a post on it.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Should you lower high 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.

    We do posts on staying healthy; preventing disease; aging more slowly; weight loss; exercise; nutrition; & news in medicine.

    Today's post: Wednesday, 4-11-2007

    Should you lower high cholesterol?….

    If your overall cholesterol is high maybe you should -- but it depends totally on how high it is & what kinds of cholesterol are in it.

    And, for most people with high total cholesterol, statin drugs are neither necessary nor desirable.

    Some people have a kind of HDL cholesterol (called Milano) that keeps their blood vessels clear of obstructions; is at least 10 times as effective at this as the HDL cholesterol most of us have. This kind of HDL cholesterol has even been given intravenously & produced reversal of blood vessel blockages. So, some people who have it are quite healthy with total cholesterol of over 300 or over 400 in some cases.

    Almost of all of you likely reading this probably have regular HDL cholesterol. The good news that the higher your HDL cholesterol is, the lower your risk of heart & vascular disease is. High HDL cholesterol predicts low heart attack risk BETTER than low LDL cholesterol; & people who have high HDL cholesterol tend to be quite long lived. So, a total cholesterol of 205 may be extremely health if 105 of it is HDL; & there are people, often who get a LOT of exercise, who have just such readings.

    And, a person with a total cholesterol of 245, above the 240 cut off some doctors look at; but who has a HDL cholesterol of 105 may be at little risk of heart disease.

    However, there are studies I’ve seen reports of that LDL cholesterol of over 130 increase heart disease risk some; that LDL cholesterol of over 160 increase heart disease risk a good bit more; that the risk goes up much more if that person has an HDL reading of less than 40; or if their LDL is oxidized; & goes up even more if their LDL is largely made up of small, slightly denser, globs since these are literally just small enough to fit into the chinks in your blood vessel walls & begin to have the effect of coating the inside of your blood vessels with a glue like substance that is anchored in place.

    In addition, I’ve read there are studies that show some blood vessel blockage reversal for LDL cholesterol readings of less than 100.

    So, if your LDL cholesterol is 130 or over it may make some sense to lower it with sterol supplements; eating lots of vegetables; & limiting your consumption of saturated fat & eliminating transfats.

    It’s very important also to have your homocysteine level checked; & if it’s high (9.0 or higher), learn how to lower it with supplements to below 9.0 & do so. High homocysteine levels are MORE predictive of heart & vascular problems than high LDL cholesterol levels.

    NOT smoking or being around cigarette smoke is also more important than lowering high LDL levels in part because smoking or being around cigarette smoke increases homocysteine levels. And, it directly causes cardiovascular disease in several other ways. Unfortunately few smokers yet know this.

    And, it always makes sense to be sure to get regular exercise. Vigorous or intense but brief cardio & strength training when done safely so you can continue to do them raise HDL & raise the most protective fraction of it. And, exercise lowers the kind if LDL that’s small enough to cause heart problems. It also makes sense to take antioxidants like vitamin C & E & others & to eat a lot of fruits & vegetables as that prevents your LDL from getting oxidized.

    Also, eating more vegetables does triple duty: doing so lowers your LDL levels; increases your blood levels of antioxidants; & helps prevent you from adding excess body fat.

    Statin drugs also work & have other heart protecting benefits but are also very expensive & carry considerable risks. They lower the level of heart-beneficial CoQ10 as many doctors still do no know. I think Dr Stephen Sinatra is correct that they are best reserved for the sickest & most at risk patients a doctor sees.

    At first, many doctors & health experts recommended eating a very lowfat diet to lower total cholesterol levels & one very low in saturated fat. And many people did that by adding large amounts of grain to their diet.

    Since then evidence has been building that such diets were deficient in protein; didn’t include health enhancing fats like extra virgin olive oil & sources of omega 3 oils; tended to have too much omega 6 oils in the fat they did have; & made people fat & sick because humans are NOT well adapted to live on grain foods. Worse, people ate refined grains as part of such diets. The evidence is now overwhelming that eating refined grains makes you fat & sick & does so most reliably when sedentary people eat them.

    Limiting saturated fat intake; & sharply limiting consumption of meat from animals fed grains that have a high pesticide & herbicide content, WILL improve your health.

    So will eating a lot of, & a large variety of, nonstarchy vegetables. To some degree, so will eating a lot of nuts & lentils & beans.

    These steps are also part of the DASH diet that does lower blood pressure in people where it’s high.

    But eating LOTS of grain – even whole grains – actually increases your risk of heart attack & type II diabetes. And doing so has by now been shown to make people fat – just like it does when fed to cattle.

    People evolved to be hunter-gathers eating game (very lean & naturally fed meat); wild caught fish & seafood; vegetables; & some fruit -- & ate virtually no grains.

    That said, you now know some of the ways I part company with the author of the next article.

    But I think the evidence suggest he is totally right about NOT eating tons of grain & NOT eating a lowfat diet deficient in monosaturated fats & omega 3 oils & protein.

    I think he overdoes saying high cholesterol is not a problem & is partly wrong about that besides. And, I suspect he eats more conventionally raised meat than is good for him.

    But agree with absolutely every other point he makes.:

    This ( the following) article appears courtesy of Early To Rise, the Internet’s most popular health, wealth, and success e-zine. For a complimentary subscription, visit

  • The Diet Myth That Could Be Ruining Your Health

  • By Anthony Colpo

  • “In 1989, at the age of 21 and after a few years of inactivity, I made a visit to the doctor. I learned that I had a cholesterol level of 213, which (according to the doctor) placed me at "moderate risk" for heart disease. I left that day with a handful of literature that, among other things, advocated the restriction of saturated fat.
  • To me, good health had always been about physical fitness - how much weight I could lift or how easily I could climb a steep hill on my bike. So I began training again. But I also paid a lot more attention to what I ate, and I began to study everything I could get my hands on about nutrition.
  • Everything I read reiterated the same message: "Fat is BAD. Complex carbohydrates are GOOD!" The message appeared to be unanimous, and I fell for it hook, line, and sinker.
    When my father, an active, well-built man who appeared to be very fit for his age, experienced a heart attack in 1990, my resolve to eat what I believed to be a heart-healthy diet was further strengthened.
  • I resolved to eat only the leanest meats and low-fat fish. And because my intense training required a high caloric intake, I began consuming copious amounts of carbohydrates: rye bread, brown rice, sweet potatoes, whole-meal pasta, rolled oats, buckwheat, and millet.
  • I began partaking of the delights of butter-less toast, egg whites, salad without oil, and water-packed tuna. If I were served meat that had - shock, horror, gasp! - visible fat, I would surgically trim it away before taking a bite. I wouldn't even think of buying any new food item until I had scrupulously examined the nutrition label for fat content.
  • When I calculated the average amount of fat that I was taking in, I was proud to find that it was less than 10 percent of my daily caloric intake. I wore my low-fat habits like a badge of honor.
  • But reality began to bite several years later. Despite my "healthy" diet, strenuous training regimen, and strict avoidance of cigarettes, alcohol, and recreational drugs, my blood pressure had risen from 110/65 (a reading characteristic of highly conditioned athletes) to an elevated 130/90. It was increasingly hard to maintain the lean, "ripped," vascular look I had always prided myself on. Instead, my physique was getting smooth and bloated.
  • My digestive system became more sluggish and my stomach often felt heavy and distended after meals. I frequently felt tired after eating. I began to rack up a rather impressive list of irreversible food sensitivities. I had never been much of a coffee drinker, but I was now trying to fight increasing fatigue by sipping a strong black or two before workouts. My fasting blood glucose level was below the normal range, indicative of reactive hypoglycemia.
  • In short, I felt terrible and my health was suffering.
    Despite monumental effort and discipline, my supposedly wholesome low-fat diet had raised my blood pressure, sapped my energy, and left me with a screwed-up blood sugar metabolism. Ironically, these changes increased my risk of the very thing I was trying to avoid: heart disease.
  • This disheartening revelation was the catalyst for an extended period of self-experimentation, during which I anxiously tried a number of highly touted popular diets.
  • It was only after settling into a high-fat, high-protein, low-carbohydrate plan - the exact opposite of that recommended by most health authorities - that I was able to reverse the negative changes bought about by years of high-carbohydrate eating. My blood pressure and glycemic control finally returned to normal, while my digestive function, mental focus, energy levels, and overall sense of well being improved dramatically.
  • This experience caused me to question everything I had ever learned about nutrition. I wanted to know why the revered low-fat paradigm had failed me, while a diet in which the bulk of calories were obtained from supposedly "dangerous" animal fats made me feel better than I had in a long, long time.
  • Rather than simply take for granted the existence of data showing saturated fat to be harmful - as does so much of the public, medical, and research communities - I insisted on viewing this data for myself. My burning desire for the facts drove me into an intensive search of the medical literature.
  • What I discovered astounded me.
  • The low-fat, anti-cholesterol paradigm was a complete sham right from the outset. It began in the early 1900s when Russian researchers noted that feeding rabbits cholesterol caused a build-up of fatty deposits in their arteries. However - unlike humans - rabbits are herbivores. They are not metabolically equipped to eat animal products. (Plant foods do not contain cholesterol.)
  • In the mid 1950s, health authorities were at a complete loss to explain the rising prevalence of coronary heart disease (CHD). Inspired by the utterly irrelevant findings of the Russian rabbit experiments, scientists began examining possible links between fat, cholesterol, and CHD in humans.
  • One of those individuals, Ancel Keys, plotted CHD death rates from a mere six countries on a graph, and was able to show an almost perfect correlation between fat consumption and CHD mortality.
  • But what Keys didn't share with his readers was the fact that he handpicked his data - even though relevant statistics were available for 22 countries. Other researchers demonstrated that when data from larger numbers of countries were included, the alleged association between fat and CHD vanished into thin air. Keys, however, was on the nutrition advisory committee of the powerful American Heart Association, and his erroneous theories were officially incorporated into AHA dietary guidelines in 1961.
  • The cholesterol theory of heart disease has been largely built upon "epidemiological" research, which examines disease trends among certain populations. Such population-based research can be useful in identifying leads for further research - but, due to many confounding factors, should never be used as conclusive proof of anything.
  • For example, one of the arguments commonly used in support of the lipid hypothesis is that countries with high levels of saturated fat consumption have the highest levels of heart disease. Sure they do. But they also have high levels of psychosocial stress, the highest consumption of sugar, refined carbohydrates, polyunsaturated vegetable oils, and trans-fats, and the lowest levels of physical activity. All these factors have been implicated in the development of CHD.
  • To conclusively prove that saturated fat causes CHD, we need to conduct randomized, clinical trials comparing low-saturated-fat diets with saturated-fat-rich diets, in which all other possible confounding variables are controlled.
  • Indeed, over the last six decades, numerous controlled studies have tested the effect of saturated fat restriction on cardiovascular and overall mortality. But supporters of the lipid hypothesis rarely mention them, instead focusing on the epidemiological data. That is because none of those controlled clinical trials have ever demonstrated a beneficial effect of saturated fat restriction or cholesterol lowering.
  • In fact, a number of these studies directly refute the cholesterol theory. Ironically, statin drugs - the only cholesterol-lowering interventions that have demonstrated any ability to save lives - do not work by reducing cholesterol. A mountain of evidence shows that these drugs work via anti-clotting, anti-inflammatory, artery-dilating, and antioxidant mechanisms. Thankfully, taking toxic cholesterol drugs is not the only way to achieve those effects.
  • Despite almost half a century of intense research, the indisputable fact is that heart disease is still the industrialized world's number one killer - occurring with the same frequency as it did 50 years ago.
  • And the great tragedy is that the dietary and lifestyle factors that do increase CHD risk remain neglected or even completely ignored. Modern medicine has become far more adept at saving the lives of those who already have heart disease - but it has achieved little in the way of preventing the disease from occurring in the first place.
  • This situation will not change until health authorities drop their cholesterol obsession. But don't hold your breath. The upper echelons of modern medicine are dominated by politics and money, and cholesterol paranoia is way too profitable for those who wield the most influence. The welfare of ordinary folks like you and me ranks far behind that of the powerful vested interests who lobby and fund health policy makers.
    That's why it is up to you to learn about the things that really matter when it comes to heart disease.
  • These include reducing stress; avoiding elevated blood sugar; ensuring the adequate intake of omega-3 fats and avoiding excessive omega-6 fat intake; shunning heavily processed, nutrient-depleted foods; eating a diet that emphasizes fresh, nutrient-rich meats and vegetables; maintaining optimal antioxidant status through the use of proper diet and supplementation; avoiding high bodily iron stores; exercising regularly; and eschewing both passive and active cigarette smoking. “
  • ***********************************
  • Readers will note that despite the differences I have outlined with some of what he says, his list of recommended steps that he ends with is almost identical to mine.


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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Take Omega 3 Oils for Depression? Probably yes….

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.

We do posts on staying healthy; preventing disease; aging more slowly; weight loss; exercise; nutrition; & news in medicine.

Today's post: Thursday, 4-5-2007

Take Omega 3 Oils for Depression? Probably yes….

In recent news I read that a study found some people taking omega 3 oils or omega 3 supplements was not as effective as other studies have found.

In some people, depression is caused by actual brain damage & in others by a temporary reaction to severe stress. So, for some such people, taking omega 3’s might well be less effective than other measures.

And, there are other cases of depression with causes that omega 3’s may not help.

There is evidence that regular exercise helps most people who are depressed & is often as effective as taking antidepressants. And, it is often effective in as little as one or two weeks. Antidepressant drugs often must be taken for several weeks to see if they work for a particular person. Then sometimes they work well. Sometimes they have bad side effects. And sometimes they don’t work at all. Plus they cost a good bit of money.

Cognitive therapy, which helps people shut down the thoughts that lead to depression & learn & practice the thoughts that make it very rare or turn it off can work very well.

(See the books Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman, PhD & The Adversity Quotient by Paul Stoltz, PhD for more information. Dr Seligman is the discoverer of the technique; & Dr Stoltz has improved it & easier to learn.)

So, unless the depression is quite severe or the person is already doing regular exercise for over three weeks without enough effect, it would seem prudent to me to try exercise & cognitive therapy first for depression.

Here’s why I also think adding omega 3 containing foods like sardines, wild caught salmon, & oysters AND supplements of DHA, Omega 3 supplements from purified fish oils or purified Cod Liver Oil also is probably a prudent & beneficial thing to do.:

Some people HAVE experienced improvements in their depression in a few days. So it certainly is worth trying. Only the best done cognitive therapy works that fast.

But more importantly, there is now abundant evidence with increasing coverage in many media, that the diet of most people in the U.S. is severely lacking in omega 3 oils & has quite excessive amounts of omega 6 oils. And, people who increase their intake of omega 3 oils often experience a multitude of health benefits.

(So also limiting consumption of grain fed beef & pork: & eating no refined grains; & a eating modest amount or less of whole grains might well also help depression. And, doing so has many other health benefits – including making it easier to lose excess bodyfat.)

So, even if adding omega 3’s & reducing omega 6’s fail to help your depression, or of another person who is depressed, & do it quickly, doing so will definitely improve health –
for you or for them.

And, in addition to that, adding omega 3’s & reducing omega 6’s may combat depression quite well in almost everyone if it’s continued long enough.

Here’s why.

People with adequate omega 3’s think better & may more easily grow new brain cells.

(Recent studies found children with adequate omega 3’s DID grow new brain cells & do much better in school than children who did not have adequate omega 3’s. And, we are increasingly finding that what works to improve young brains also works in adults – even elderly ones. So my bet is that adults with adequate omega 3 intake also grow new brain cells better or maybe at all compared with adults who don’t. And regular exercise has been recently shown to grow new brain cells – in adults.)

So doing regular exercise & getting adequate omega 3’s long enough confers a real brain power advantage over people who do not, particularly if it’s done long enough.

This may be why studies of populations of people who eat a lot of omega 3’s from fish tend to show far less depression. They do it for a lifetime. So the process has time to do the job.

The other reason I think it’s wise to get adequate omega 3’s & restrict omega 6 oils is that it seems to sharply improve the ability of people to tolerate stress without getting cranky, irritable, nasty, in a rage, & violent.

There’s been a lot of research on this. And the evidence is very strong from what I’ve read. It works on children, jail inmates, Alzheimers patients, & adults.

Here’s how that prevents depression & very forcefully so.

People who have happy marriages & who relate well to their families; have a lot of friends; & who have good social support otherwise; & who almost never get into pointless quarrels, have dramatically better health.

They have as many as 20 times less heart attacks or more as people who have anger management problems & little social support. They tend to never get high blood pressure & almost never have blood pressure high enough to justify taking drugs for it.

And, they are almost never depressed.

Since getting adequate omega 3’s seems to make having such human relationships easier to do by helping people avoid nasty & emotionally hurtful behavior around other people & to avoid bad moods of an irritable nature in themselves, I think anyone who is depressed would be well advised to get adequate omega 3’s for the rest of their lives.


It should be noted that getting more than adequate omega 3’s, particularly if combined with a high alcohol intake or some anti clotting or “blood thinning” drugs can cause excessive bleeding enough to be dangerous. And, some fish that are high in omega 3’s like King mackerel & to a lesser extent some tuna, are high enough in mercury to be a problem.

So the prudent course seems to be to do moderate supplementation with DHA & omega 3’s using algae derived DHA & purified fish oils -- & to eat foods like sardines, wild caught salmon, & oysters from unpolluted waters two to four times a week since they have dramatically less mercury or none but to not increase your supplements or foods beyond that.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Corn oil is NOT a health enhancing food….

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.

We do posts on staying healthy; preventing disease; aging more slowly; weight loss; exercise; nutrition; & news in medicine.

Today's post: Monday, 4-2-2007

Corn oil is NOT a health enhancing food….

In recent news I read that the corn oil industry recently was given the OK to put a label on corn oil saying it was good for your health.

1. It’s NOT good for your health.

2. The information presented to support the application for this label is outdated AND woefully incomplete.

3. Corn growers have no worries if you never buy or eat corn oil again.

(It’s quite salable as an ingredient for biodiesel fuel. And, since the demand for biodiesel is rising rapidly as it’s a somewhat sustainably produced fuel & is mostly NOT made from petroleum & can be produced in the United States.)

1. Corn oil is NOT good for your health.

a) Most people in the United States now eat as much as five times too much omega 6 oil
-- in oils containing it, in grains that contain it, & in beef & poultry that has been penned up & forcefed grains high in omega 6’s.

And most people in the United States now eat or ingest about four times too little omega 3 oil.

As a result, instead of getting equal amounts of each, they are getting twenty times as much omega 6 oils as omega 3’s with the result that:

their immune systems are weaker than they should be;
they experience excessive amounts of inflammation;
their moods are worse & they experience more irritability than they should; they think & learn less well than they should;
there’s some evidence they are much more likely to experience heart problems;
& when children eat this way, recent research suggests that they learn more slowly, perform worse in school, & their brains grow more slowly.

Corn oil has virtually no omega 3 oils & is quite high in omega 6 oils.

For this reason alone, corn oil not only is NOT good for you, eating as little of it as is possible is wise.

In addition, I’ve read that cooking with corn oil, & other oils high in omega 6’s, tends to produce health harming chemicals some of which cause cancer much more than cooking with oils like almond oil or olive oil that are mostly monosaturated fats.

For this reason, it’s important for your health to eat foods (like wild caught fish & seafood or beef fed ONLY grass) that are high in omega 3’s or supplement with purified fish oil & DHA (an omega 3 good for your brain) & to limit ingesting omega 6’s to the best of your ability.

2. The information presented to support the application for this label is outdated AND woefully incomplete.

People who eat a diet high in saturated fat & use a lot of butter for cooking who switch to oils like corn oil that are high in omega 6’s, which are polyunsaturated, DO lower their LDL cholesterol.

But corn oil & other polyunsaturated oils high in omega 6’s are NOT good for your heart.

Stopping the analysis there is incomplete – dangerously so.

Doctors used to think that just lowering total cholesterol or LDL cholesterol prevented heart disease. And, to some extent this IS true.

But, what more recent research & analysis has found, is that increasing HDL cholesterol is MUCH MORE important for your heart & more predictive of longevity than just lowering total cholesterol or LDL cholesterol.

And, CORN OIL, & other oils high in omega 6’s, LOWER your HDL cholesterol.

So, they INCREASE your risk of disease & death if you eat much of them or eat them often.

Olive oil also reduces LDL cholesterol; but it does NOT lower HDL.

And, extra virgin olive oil also has antioxidants that keep your HDL & LDL from oxidizing – which is also important to good health. I’ve even seen some reports extra virgin olive oil INCREASES your HDL cholesterol.

Eating avocados & nuts like pecans, almonds, & walnuts to some degree, also lower LDL cholesterol without harming your HDL’s. They tend to be high in monosaturated oils & have sterols that lower LDL cholesterol. (So do many vegetables.)

So, saying corn oil is health enhancing by reducing LDL cholesterol is like saying if I give you quarters & you pay me back a dollar for each quarter I give you, you’ll get richer -- & NOT saying that each quarter you get will cost you a buck.

It simply isn’t so. Corn oil is OK for biodiesel. It is NOT a health enhancing food or even a desirable food.

3. Corn growers have no worries if you never buy or eat corn oil again.

(It’s quite salable as an ingredient for biodiesel fuel. And, since the demand for biodiesel is rising rapidly as it’s a somewhat sustainably produced fuel & is mostly NOT made from petroleum & can be & is produced within the United States.)

I grew up in Iowa in the heart of the corn country. So I would actually like to see corn farmers do well indeed. The economy based on corn growing supported me when I was a toddler -- & supported both my parents until they were young adults.

But the trends seem to indicate they’ll make a lot more money selling their corn oil for biodiesel than they will selling it as food.

And, you’ll be healthier if you never eat or buy corn oil again.

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