Friday, February 29, 2008

2nd way protein helps with fat loss...

Today's post: Friday, 2-29-2008

1. In a recent post, we wrote on the research that found that one of the ways high protein diets or eating helped with fat loss that is not well known as yet is that of the three kinds of food components carbohydrates, fats, & protein, only protein worked well to turn off hunger & do so for quite some time.

(You may already know or have read here that strength training increases your muscle mass which helps increase the amount of calories you burn because muscle simply uses more calories than fat. So the more muscle you gain, the more calories you burn even when you are not exercising and the easier it is to lose fat & the more you can eat without gaining it back.

And foods high in protein help the strength training you do to build more muscle for you, as you may already also know.)

2. It seems there is a second little known way that eating protein foods helps lose fat. It seems that eating protein foods will increase the calories you burn directly !!

I found this in last Tuesday’s Early To Rise email.

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

Calorie-Burning Foods

By Craig Ballantyne

How would you like to get the benefits of one cardio session per week, without having to do any work? Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, all you have to do is eat more protein.

That's right, eat to burn calories.

Greek researchers gave 30 women a meal rich in either protein or fat in tests spaced one week apart. And they found that diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT - calorie-burning caused by the digestive process) was three times greater after the protein meal than after the fat meal. The scientists concluded that, over the long term, a low DIT associated with eating fat may contribute to the development and maintenance of obesity.

To benefit from this information, base your meals on lean protein sources and fruits and vegetables. Substitute broiled chicken breasts for fried chicken, grass-fed beef for ordinary hamburger, and poached fish filets for breaded shrimp[Ed. Note: Fitness expert Craig Ballantyne is the creator of the Turbulence Training for Fat Loss system.”

X * X* X* X* X

It’s important to note that this article suggests more of a villain role for eating fat than other research supports. In some extremely important ways that conclusion of a villain role is totally incorrect.

It’s extremely clear that lean protein (& he uses excellent examples) and nonstarchy vegetables are MOST of what you should be eating if you want to lose excess fat & keep it off.

You’ve just read several ways that eating lean protein helps lose fat. (And, it also helps reduce your intake of animal based saturated fat which improves your health.)

(Organic, nonstarchy vegetables have abundant nutrients so you will be healthy. They have lots of fiber which also helps you feel full & NOT hungry. And, they have so few calories that Weight Watchers lists them as having zero points.)

However, it’s also been found that, given eating lean & health OK protein & abundant nonstarchy vegetables & controlling your total calorie intake that:

People who include health OK fats, monosaturated & omega 3 fats or oils get three astonishing benefits all of them critical to successful fat loss.:

(These fats include fish like sardines & wild caught salmon; purified fish oil or cod liver oil; avocados & guacamole; nuts; & extra virgin olive oil.)

a) You will be MUCH healthier as this suggests that you get ample omega 3 oils & very few omega 6 oils or animal based saturated fats.

b) Research shows that people who include these foods are MANY TIMES more likely to eat right long enough to lose all the fat they want & are MANY TIMES more likely to keep doing it & have the fat stay off.

c) Prevention Magazine has a new diet book out on the 3rd benefit. They found that calorie controlled meals that include a healthy fat in virtually every one don’t just lose fat from your body, they remove your ABDOMINAL or tummy fat !!

THAT provides outstanding health benefits because excessive abdominal fat tends to cause heart disease and type II diabetes. AND, social psychologists have found it makes you more visually appealing to members of the opposite sex.

So that’s the recipe for eating right & fat loss.:

Abundant lean protein; abundant nonstarchy vegetables; and controlled amounts of health OK fats & whole fruit -- & as little high glycemic carbohydrates & other junk foods as you can possibly do without.

Lots of total regular exercise each week (such as tai chi, walking or being physically active; vigorous interval cardio; & progressive strength training) is also a key addition that sharply improves your health; increases your muscle mass; & will help you lose fat and keep it off.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Why avoid statins if you can.......

Today's post: Thursday, 2-28-2008

There are four reasons to avoid statin drugs if you can do so at all.

(Note that the most frightening ones are # 3 & # 4 in today’s post.)

1. For their main purpose they are surprisingly weak compared to the impression most doctors now have of them. I read that of 100 people who take statins only about 1 of them will prevent a heart attack they otherwise would have had.

2. Even for their two main benefits, there are much safer alternatives. This is even more true for preventing heart attacks.

a) Eating a lot of foods high in fiber and soluble fiber such as beans, apples, oatmeal, nuts; peas, & barley; taking niacin; taking sterol supplements, particularly Beta Sitosterol, & eating foods that contain sterols will lower your LDL cholesterol as well as statins do. And, they have other health benefits instead of side effects.

(High doses of niacin can have side effects; & it is possible to eat so many high fiber foods you can literally get clogged up. But if you take less than 1,000 mg a day of niacin, side effects are rare. Even for more than that, getting the liver tests that statin drug takers have to get will catch any problems early. For most people even higher doses of niacin are safer by far than statin drugs.)

In addition, never eating transfats or hydrogenated vegetable oils PLUS getting regular exercise each week sharply lowers the small particle LDL that is one of the two kinds of LDL that actually produces heart attacks. To the best of my knowledge, no statin drug has been reported as having this effect.

Also, oxidized lipids, particularly oxidized LDL are likely to cause heart attacks. Eating a lot of fruits & vegetables that are high in antioxidants & taking antioxidant vitamins and other supplements, help prevent this oxidation. To the best of my knowledge, no statin drug has been reported as having this effect. (Modest amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, natural vitamin E, Selenium in 200 microgram amounts, alpha lipoic acid, vegetables containing multiple carotenoids like carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, broccoli, squash, & greens all have antioxidant effects.)

High homocysteine levels such as levels well above 9.0 which is too high for good health are more predictive of heart attacks than LDL cholesterol as are low HDL levels. Some statins do increase HDL slightly; but they don’t lower high homocysteine. And, there are much safer ways to increase HDL that have other health benefits. In particular, niacin is more effective in increasing HDL than statins & is much safer to take.

Homocysteine & HDL each independently are better heart attack predictors than LDL cholesterol. Taking statins to lower LDL simply is no where near as effective in preventing heart disease and heart attacks as lowering homocysteine & increasing HDL. (We’ve done multiple posts on lowering homocysteine & increasing HDL because they are so important. So we don’t list how to do that here. But the info is available here in those posts.)

b) I’ve read some analysis that suggests that the little effectiveness that statins do have in preventing heart attacks is due to their effect in lowering inflammation.

I’m less versed in the natural methods to do that. But here is a list of the things I understand to be effective. Taking antioxidants & eating abundantly from the kinds of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables while sharply reducing or eliminating foods like transfats or hydrogenated vegetable oils; high fructose corn syrup; sugar; & foods high in glycemic load such as corn flakes, cookies, crackers, & refined grains are the things I’ve read help reduce inflammation. Doing this list of things has a huge list of other health benefits including heart protection.

For example, this list of things plus regular strength training plus regular aerobic or cardio exercise all tend to sharply reduce obesity, insulin resistance, high glucose & HBA1C readings, & type II diabetes. These things are dramatically high risk in triggering heart attacks. And, statins don’t touch any of them that I’ve ever read about.

3. Taking statin drugs, specifically including Lipitor, has produced memory problems severe enough it has been mistakenly diagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease.

Ouch !!

I got an email from Bottom Line's Daily Health News that said that an ND they often quote as an expert had a patient with exactly that problem.

He then treated his patient’s heart risk with very much the same methods we just described above & discontinued the statin Lipitor his patient had begun to take at about the same time the memory problem started. (He states that this effect has been reported in people taking statins. I’ve also read that statins have been known to produce nerve damage which may be a related effect.)

The patient recovered his memory. And, based on our analysis above, his heart attack risk became MUCH, MUCH lower than it was while all he did was take Lipitor. (He also increased his patient’s intake of monosaturated oils and omega 3 oils. Both of these things tend to be heart protective.)

This ND thinks that many other drugs including tricyclic antidepressants; some medications for Parkinson's disease; narcotics such as OxyContin and Vicodin; over-the-counter antihistamines including Benadryl, Chlortrimaton and Tavist.

He said the effect all these drugs has is that they are anti-cholinergic. He said that anti-cholinergic drugs suppress the neurotransmitters that regulate
many components of mental functioning, particularly the ones involved with memory.

He said that a study published in the British Medical Journal found that 85% of older people who were taking anti-cholinergic drugs had memory impairment. (To be fair, he did not report the % of people that age who had memory impairment who were not.)

But the fact that these drugs have been shown to have this effect suggests avoiding them if you possibly can.

4. Your mitochondria are the power sources in your cells. If they are damaged, you lack energy, you feel rotten, your heart is sharply weakened, & I’ve read information that your risk of cancer goes up sharply.

So it’s very important to your quality of life & your health to keep your mitochondria healthy & avoid damaging them.

CoQ10 is a natural substance that benefits your mitochondria. Because it tends to be lower as you get older, it’s been found that people over 40 can improve their health and energy level & lower high blood pressure if they have it by taking 100 to 200 mg a day of CoQ10.

So, since statin drugs sharply lower your blood levels of CoQ10, it would be no surprise if it was found that taking statins damaged the mitochondria in the people taking statins.

Recently a study was reported that showed precisely that effect.:

Many drugs, particularly many statins, apparently damage the mitochondria

(From Reuters as I found it a few days ago on Yahoo Health News: )

New test shows source of disease side-effects

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

Sun Feb 24, 5:40 PM ET (2008)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A new panel of tests aimed at finding out how drugs may damage cells has turned up a series of interactions that may explain some of the serious side-effects of statin drugs, researchers said on Sunday.

Statins, the wildly popular cholesterol-lowering drugs, may interact with at least one blood pressure drug to damage the mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells, the researchers reported in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

Their study also may lead to the development of drugs to treat diabetes and diseases of aging and better ways to screen for drug side-effects, the researchers said.

Vamsi Mootha of the Broad Institute at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said they had made their new database freely available to other scientists to use for screening drugs.

The mitochondria are structures in cells that make adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, which helps power cells. Mootha's team tested more than 2,000 drugs on cells to see how they might interfere with this process.

Their test looks at gene function, ATP levels and other measures of how well the mitochondria are working.

Many patients who take statins have reported side-effects that include muscle pain and weakness. The cause is not well understood but Mootha has long suspected the mitochondria are involved. The effects have been hard to pin down because studies of different groups have produced conflicting results.

Mootha's team said their findings showed some statins lower ATP levels and interfere with the mitochondria.

"Of the six statins present in our screening collection, three (fluvastatin, lovastatin and simvastatin) produced strong decreases in cellular ATP levels and (mitochondrial) activity," they wrote.

Fluvastatin is sold by Novartis under the brand name Lescol, lovastatin is sold under the brand name Mevacor and simvaststin is sold as Zocor.


Three others -- atorvastatin, made by Pfizer under the brand name Lipitor, pravastatin or Pravachol, made by Bristol Myers Squibb and rosuvastatin, sold under the Crestor brand name by AstraZeneca -- had little effect, they said.

"We asked what pattern of dysfunction they cause in the mitochondria," Mootha said in a telephone interview. "Once we figured out what the pattern was we asked what other FDA-approved drugs give rise to that same pattern of mitochondrial dysfunction."

They found a few.

"We were struck by the fact that one of these nearest-neighbor drugs is propranolol, a widely used antihypertensive agent," they wrote.

Propranolol is a so-called beta blocker drug sold by Wyeth under the brand name Inderal and also available generically.

"That was a bit of a surprise," Mootha said. "And it is important because so many patients are on a statin as well as blood pressure medication."

Other drugs that resembled statins in their activity in mitochondria included amoxapine, cyclobenzaprine, griseofulvin, pentamidine, paclitaxel, propafenone, ethaverine, trimeprazine and amitriptyline.

A similar process may be going on in diabetes, nerve degeneration and aging, Mootha's team said. They found a number of drugs, including the cancer drug vinblastine may counter this process.

Mootha cautioned that his group has worked only in batches of muscle cells grown in the lab so far and that far more tests are needed.

(Editing by Bill Trott)

X * X* X* X

Certainly, the least that it would be prudent to do if you are taking statins to protect your heart and do not wish to stop is to do the other things in this post to reduce your heart attack risk and to take 100 to 200 mg a day of CoQ10.

And, this information suggests you may be safer to do those things and discontinue the statin drug.

I do believe, unlike some natural health writers, that lowering LDL is heart protective and that doctors who prescribe statins do so to protect your health.

But I do not believe statins are anywhere near as beneficial as most doctors have been trained to believe they are.

At best, you need to be very careful if you take them.

And, only taking statins is totally inadequate to protect your heart.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Monday, February 25, 2008

To lose fat, upgrade your lifestyle....

Today's post: Monday, 2-25-2008

Most people in the United States are too fat.

(I do enough things in this post better than many people that I’m as much as 50 or 60 pounds lighter than I easily could be. But that includes me still. My weight is close to what it should be. But I still eat a bit too many grains; & get too little strength training and total exercise.)

And, as the sedentary lifestyle & United States style eating become more common, this is increasingly true of people in other countries as well. And, there are statistics now to prove it.

But, except for doing sedentary work, you can upgrade your lifestyle in ways that allow you to escape from this problem.

Here are five upgrades that will help most people lose a lot of fat.

None of them are actually too hard to do as none of them force you to go hungry AT ALL. And, if you need to do all five and make the upgrades, you’ll lose fat like it is being peeled off.

1. Soft drinks. The data is in. Drinking soft drinks makes you fat. Drinking diet soft drinks makes you fatter because it apparently acts as an appetite increaser.

So, if you drink soft drinks at all now, if you upgrade your life and stop doing it, you may well lose more than 10 % of your current body weight without any further effort. And, you will NOT feel hungrier than you do now. In fact, the evidence is you may feel LESS hunger given that you keep the other foods you eat about the same. Not bad !!

The upgrade is to switch to water, tea, green tea, or coffee if you drink it without added sugar & either black or with just a bit of milk or lowfat milk. Also, if you keep the total consumption down, wine, beer, & real fruit juice also work. (PS: If coffee is too strong and you dislike black tea, Earl Grey tea is different enough, you might like it better.)

2. Watching TV. The data is in, the more you watch, the fatter you are. You burn less calories watching TV than you do sleeping! And, many people eat the fattening snack foods or respond to ads for them that appear on TV.

So, be more selective & watch less TV but more focused on what you like best. Skip watching TV some nights or week-ends and go to the gym instead. Or, get an aerobic or cardio exerciser at home & watch while you exercise. If you have them, turn off TV some nights and spend time with your kids. (You can record any must see TV broadcast then to watch later.)

3. Eat no fast food or only eat the health OK stuff when it’s available. The data is in. The more often adults or kids eat at fast food places as most of them still are, the fatter they are.

The food fast food places have served has been very high in sugar, transfats, refined carbohydrates, & with little real food. They tend to serve grain fed meat & poultry. Even worse, they specialize in serving soft drinks.

The upgrade is to substitute food from home; eat in a more upscale restaurants, or only eat the health OK things or almost health OK things when you go into a fast food restaurant.

To be fair, MacDonald’s is beginning to make an effort to provide some health OK alternatives. I’ve found that the easiest ones to eat in a health OK way at are Subway Sandwiches & the Mexican chain, Uno Mas.

But it’s not easy if you still like the regular fare. You need to eat the sandwiches Atkins style with no bread -- only. Eat no French Fries or chips. Eat no desserts. And, substitute water, tea, coffee, or orange juice for soft drinks. It also helps to add extra onions & other veggies to the protein part of the sandwiches. If you can do that, you can still eat at fast food places. If not, you are best served by never, ever going into one.

4. Snacks at home.

If you eat commercial baked goods such as cookies, donuts, bagels, cakes; packaged crackers, chips, & other similar snacks several times a week or, worse, a day, the data is in. You will be fat.

One cure is to eat four meals a day always including breakfast, so you never have to go more than 4 hours without real food.

Another, is to realize that you get virtually no nutrition from such snacks; they are much more expensive per month than most people realize; & they tend to be made with refined grains, sugar, salt, trans fats, & very little else.

The upgrade if you need or want snacks is to eat real food that tastes good enough you actually like it & manage your meals enough you need fewer snacks.

Cherries & kiwifruit & strawberries are just three really good tasting superfoods you can snack on. Monosaturated fat-based snacks that actually work well in moderation are guacamole, avocado slices, stuffed olives, & nuts. Raw broccoli florets, cauliflower, carrot sticks, & celery with a tasty extra virgin olive oil based dip also work. Deviled eggs also work in moderation.

These foods provide fiber & real nutrition so they don’t tend to produce type II diabetes. And, they tend to make you less hungry unlike the bad snacks that surge your blood sugar & then produce rebound hunger.

So, you’ll be a LOT healthier & be less fat if you make these upgrades; & lose the junk food snacks entirely.

5. The other thing you can do is to add regular strength training and other exercise into your life each week.

If you make this upgrade, you get fabulous health benefits. Even better, even while you are still fat, you will be healthier than skinny people who don’t exercise.

You’ll gain muscle & lose fat even if the scales don’t show it at first. And, you’ll tend to keep off any fat you lose as long as you keep up your regular exercises.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, February 22, 2008

Natural antidepressants new & old....

Today's post: Friday, 2-22-2008

Here are the three new ones:

Recently, I did a post with the information that short sessions of vigorous exercise and taking 2,000 to 3,000 iu or a bit more each day of vitamin D have each been shown to be effective in fighting the winter blues, also known as SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I really think well of these two methods as natural antidepressants. In today’s times many people get very little exercise & not much sunlight, even in the summer for some of us.

So these two methods clearly cure deficiencies for many people -- which may explain their effectiveness.

1. I particularly like the one that a short session of vigorous exercise works to make you feel better.

The most important reason is that it’s fast. You can do a session in 5 to 10 minutes which makes it a LOT easier to do in a busy life than an hour walk. I’ve taken an hour walk as exercise when I was depressed which may have made me feel better later; but it felt boring and didn’t do much at all for my mood right then.

But of most importance, the promise of doing a short session of vigorous exercise is that you can literally feel better in 10 minutes from when you start.

To make it vigorous, you have to focus on doing it enough to shut off or turn down stressful or depressing thoughts. You sharply increase circulation & oxygen flow to your brain. You increase certain neurotransmitters. And, you feel the effects enough as you recover afterwards to also help distract you from bad thoughts.

2. Taking 2,000 to 3,000 iu or a bit more each day of vitamin D is also a favorite of mine as it is really inexpensive to do. It only costs $5 to $7 for 100 capsules of 1000 iu of vitamin D3, the effective form. And, it’s now established that it helps prevent colds and other illnesses by boosting your immune system. Plus, that same immune system boost apparently helps prevent autoimmune diseases & all kinds of cancer.

Valuewise, taking vitamin D is like getting top of the line luxury car value for five or six dollars a month.

So, I really think well of these two ways to shut down depression or just feeling a bit blue.

They’ve always worked. But it’s only recently become generally known that they do. Even better, they both have abundant health benefits in addition to helping you feel better.

3. However, what if you are depressed enough it’s really severe? For mild depression or even moderate depression, you may do well with just the first two methods.

But if you clearly need more, wouldn’t it be nice to have a natural way to feel better that worked as well as the drugs doctors now tend to prescribe but without the side-effects and addictive qualities?

Much to my great shock, this week I found out there IS one.:

I found the article below in my Early to Rise email earlier this week.:

(It appeared on Tuesday, 2-19-2008.)
This article appears courtesy of Early To Rise, the Internet’s most popular health, wealth, and success e-zine. For a complimentary subscription, visit

The Spice That Makes You Smile

By Kelley Herring

The gentle waft of simmering bouillabaisse certainly puts a smile on my face. But the delightful aroma and taste isn't the only reason this dish can make you feel happy. In fact, one key ingredient could have as much mood-boosting benefits as a common anti-depressant.

Earlier research pointed to saffron, an ingredient in bouillabaisse, as a potential anti-depressant. And new research published in the journal Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry confirms this pricey spice's ability to alleviate the doldrums.

In the eight-week study, researchers compared saffron's anti-depressant activity to fluoxetine (the generic name for Prozac). Forty adults, meeting the criteria for major despair, participated. Group 1 patients received a capsule filled with 15 mg of saffron (C. sativus) morning and evening. Group 2 received 10 mg of fluoxetine morning and evening. At the end of the trial, researchers found that saffron had the same mood-boosting benefits as the drug.

So how much is 15 mg of saffron, anyway? That's less than a tenth of a teaspoon. Most saffron is sold by the gram, at about $15.

While you can season your paella or bouillabaisse with saffron, a good way to make this spice a mood-lifting mainstay in your diet is to mix it right into your favorite organic, chicken-based pre-made soups. Or brew a cup of Spicy Saffron Tea. Just add one teaspoon of saffron, four crushed cardamom pods, and three teaspoons of erythritol to four cups of boiling water. Steep for 20 minutes. Enjoy.

[Ed. Note: Kelley Herring is the founder and CEO of Healing Gourmet (, and is editor-in-chief of the Healing Gourmet book series..”

* X * X * X

Saffron is not cheap. But you clearly need very little to get the effect. So it might be doable.

Here are some natural ways to turn off depression that have been around for sometime.
1. Martin Seligman, PhD discovered something he called learned helplessness. He then decided to study the opposite.

The results were spectacular. And you can use his research to feel better. His book on it is called, “Learned Optimism.”

What he found is that people who are effective, sane, & proactive and are quite resistant to learned helplessness do is:

A) They tend to be very analytical, precisely accurate, and specific in thinking about bad things that happen. They look for the specific causes. They do NOT over-generalize that bad events will always happen or keep happening even if these specific causes are absent. Even better, they realize the causes are temporary and that it may be quite possible to cause the situation to improve. Their thinking about bad events is dramatically more accurate than the thinking of pessimists for these reasons. Educated people tend to be strong on this part of optimistic thinking.

B) They tend to take action to solve problems & to think of themselves as effective in solving problems. They think of good things as permanent and all encompassing & within their control to make happen. Interestingly, they do this even more than the facts of a situation would indicate. Often the people who are best at this are doers and street smart people.

The odds may be against them initially. And the solution they try first (or even second or third, etc) may not work. But they learn from what they try and often manage to achieve things that would otherwise be impossible. Their willingness to take action & be experimentally persistent, literally overcomes the statistical odds against them.

It’s worth learning to be good at these two factors. The depressions you feel will be rare and tend to be mild and of short duration if you do. And, research has established that people high in both factors also tend to be in better health, live longer, have more friends, & make more money than people who are low in them.

2. Early to Rise has spun off a weekly email called, Total Health Breakthroughs. It has additional & different health articles from those in Early to Rise.
Their email from this past Tuesday, 2-19-2008 had this Title:

Stop Suffering! How to Fight Depression Safely and Naturally

This lists many of the effective natural antidepressants that we’ve known about for a bit.

"This article appears courtesy of Early to Rise's Total Health Breakthroughs, offering alternative solutions for mind, body and soul. For a complimentary subscription,


Dealing with Depression? Try the Natural Route First

Consider this: You're lying on the couch, unable to motivate yourself enough to get up and get dressed. Everything seems pointless, hopeless, and dark. All you want to do is stare into space. There's a pill sitting on the coffee table a few feet in front of you that promises to make you feel 100 percent better and take your depression away.

And you can't muster the enthusiasm or energy to get up and get it.
That's the best -- and truest -- description of severe depression I've ever heard.
Depression is no picnic. Not only is it one of the greatest problems of our time, it's also potentially life threatening. Severe depression needs to be medically treated.

That said, many of us are suffering with what's called mild or moderate depression -- anything from "the blues" to a general feeling that some of the sparkle is gone from everyday life. For mild or even moderate depression, there are a number of natural remedies that are worth trying before going the pharmaceutical route. One of the best of those natural substances is 5-HTP.

The term 5-HTP stands for 5-hydroxytryptophan. It's the stuff out of which your body makes serotonin, one of the major players in a group of chemicals called neurotransmitters. These are chemicals that transmit information in the brain. Serotonin is known as a "feel-good" neurotransmitter -- low levels are associated with depression.

In fact, the biggest class of anti-depressant pharmaceuticals (SSRIs like Prozac) works by keeping serotonin hanging around the brain longer. In your body, the amino acid L-tryptophan converts to 5-HTP which then, with a little help from vitamin B6, turns it into serotonin.

Try 50 mg of 5-HTP three times a day and increase if necessary. A common dose for depression is 300 mg a day. Make sure you're getting enough vitamin B6 in your diet -- some of the better 5-HTP supplements (like 5-HTP Synergy) have some B6 built in.
St. John's Wort is a perennial herb with a long and honorable history of use for mild (or moderate) depression. It got some bad press in a loaded study1 back in 2002 which had the media gleefully proclaiming "St. Johns Wort is Ineffective." But what they didn't tell you was that the study tested the herb on people with severe depression who also didn't respond to even the strongest pharmaceutical drugs.
It's quite effective for mild depression. A meta-analysis in the British Medical
Journal2 reviewed 23 published trials on St. John's Wort involving more than 1,700 patients and found it effective for the treatment of mild and moderate depression.
The best preparations of St. John's Wort are standardized to contain 0.3 percent hypericin, and the recommended dose is 300 mg taken 3 times a day.

Then there's SAMe, arguably the most effective "natural" anti-depressant around, albeit one of the more pricey ones. About 70 percent of people with depression respond to SAMe according to Richard Brown, MD, author of Stop Depression Now. The best thing about it is that you'll know whether it's working within a week.

A common dose of SAMe for depression is 400 mg taken twice a day, though some people have taken up to 1600 mg. SAMe should be taken with B vitamins, and is not -- repeat not -- for people with bipolar disorder. SAMe usually comes in blister packs since it is highly sensitive to light and air.

Two other nutrients are also helpful for depression: fish oil and folic acid. Fish oil is currently being studied for its effects on mood. High doses (up to 10 grams a day) may produce a real effect, though many people will notice an improvement with as little as 2 to 3 grams a day.

Folic acid is also involved in mood, and high doses (5 grams or more) are absolutely worth a try. Since both folic acid and fish oil have other multiple benefits and are absolutely safe, they're worth adding to whatever natural treatment you're going to try.

If you're currently on an anti-depressant drug, do not just stop and switch to one of the "natural" treatments. Most antidepressants should be discontinued gradually and under the eye of a health-care provider. But if you haven't started on a drug yet, it makes a lot of sense to try the natural route first.


1. Hypericum Depression Trial Study Group. JAMA, 2002; 287:1807-1814.
2. British Medical Journal 1996 (Aug 3);313 (7052):253-258.

[Ed. note: Dr. Bowden is a nationally known expert on weight loss, nutrition and health. He's a board certified nutrition specialist with a Master's degree in psychology. Dr. Bowden is also a life coach, motivational speaker, former personal trainer and author of the award-winning book, Living the Low Carb Life.

X * X * X

SAMe is expensive. I personally would try the other things first. And, St Johns Wort can reduce the effective dose of some drugs. But if you aren't taking drugs, it can be good. And, it's not expensive. 5htp can make you feel mellow and help you to go to sleep or get back to sleep. However, it might be less desirable to use in apart of your day when you need to be most alert and mentally vigorous.

I sincerely hope any of these methods you try work well for you.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Great News on strength training....

Today's post: Thursday, 2-21-2008

As you probably already know, progressive strength training -- whether you do freehand exercises like pushups, use the machines at a gym, or lift dumbbells at home – will make you stronger.

And, if you’ve been reading our posts, you also know it helps you to lose fat & release growth hormone & testosterone. So you already know it makes you sexier & slows your rate of aging.

Since it’s a form of exercise -- & exercise has been shown to grow new brain cells -- it also helps keep your brain sharp & prevent mental decline as you get older.

A recent study suggests it does even more than this impressive list to benefit you !!

High homocysteine levels increase your rate of aging & are one of the stronger causes of cardiovascular diseases. That’s so true, research shows that if your homocysteine levels are well above 8.9, that’s a flashing red indicator your risk of heart attack, stroke, & age related mental decline from clogged blood vessels are all very high.

Worse, your homocysteine levels tend to go up with age. If you are over 40 or have ever been exposed to cigarette smoke or eat meat often, you have an excellent chance of having high homocysteine levels.

9.0 readings & up indicate serious risk. And, 12.0 & over readings are still quite common. If you haven’t had your homocysteine level tested, there’s an excellent chance your level is that high.

(Ideal for good health is 6.0 to 8.0 with 8.1 to 8.9 being almost OK.)

So anything safe you can do that helps lower high homocysteine levels is very, very protective of your health.

We’ve done posts on how not smoking & taking the right amounts of folic acid, B12,
B6, &, if still needed, taking NAC and TMG supplements -- will help you lower your homocysteine level if it’s 9.0 or over.

Here’s the news:

It seems strength training helps lower homocysteine
-- in addition to its large list of other benefits !!

I found the article below in my Early to Rise email last week.:

(It appeared on Tuesday, 2-12-2008.)

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

Exercise as an Antioxidant

By Craig Ballantyne

When people talk about antioxidant-packed foods, they almost always think of vegetables and fruits, such as broccoli and berries.

However, researchers from the University of Virginia have shown that exercise can have a similar protective effect.

In the study, 49 older adults (aged 60-72) performed a 6-month resistance training program.

Some of the subjects were overweight, and some were normal weight. At the end of the program, researchers noted that exercise reduced levels of harmful free radicals and homocysteine in both groups.

Since homocysteine and free radicals have been associated with cardiovascular disease, the resistance training appeared to act as a protective factor against heart disease.

It’s easy to do resistance training at home. You can begin with bodyweight exercises or you can use resistance bands, dumbbells, or even kettlebells. Stick to multi-muscle movements like squats, rows, and presses, and you’ll get the maximum benefits in the minimum amount of time.

[Ed. Note: Fitness expert Craig Ballantyne is the creator of the Turbulence Training for Fat Loss system.”

* X * X * X

Note that it doesn’t take a lot of time to get most of the benefits.

As little as 15 minutes a day at home every other day can help. So can going to the gym as little as a total of two evenings or week-end days a week with at least one day off in between.

I do both so if I miss at the gym occasionally, I can go back at close to full strength. The combination helps ensure I get my strength training in each week. And, it helps me be sure I’ll get the benefits.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Dangerously bad advice on trans fats...

Today's post: Tuesday, 2-19-2008

Recently I read some dangerously bad advice on trans fats, or as I like to call them transfats.

First & foremost, here are the facts.:

Like heavy smoking, transfats, also listed on labels as partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, are deadly poison to the health of your heart & cardiovascular system.

They lower the protective HDL cholesterol in your blood & make the LDL you already have into the most dangerous small particle kind that is literally so small it fits into the chinks in your blood vessel walls. Both these factors help transfats increase the plaque on the surface of your arteries & act as heart attack fertilizer.

(Fully hydrogenated or “interesterified” fats are even worse. They do everything transfats do & ALSO help cause type II diabetes. They are like transfats on steroids as far as damaging your heart & blood vessels.)

Guess what? That puts these fats in a class with radioactive foods. How much is a safe amount to eat? Zero. These fats simply are too harmful to ingest – ever.

To be sure, if you are otherwise healthy & ingest them an average of once a month or so, you may well get away with it.

But eating them each week is clearly a serious health hazard to you.

And, they are still in most commercial baked goods & much of the snack foods in your grocery store. They have even been found in microwave popcorn, candy bars, bread, & ice cream !!

That means you must always read labels & simply boycott buying or eating these fats if you value your health & want to live a long & healthy life.

They are so bad for you doing this is in a class with quitting smoking in its importance to your future health.

So, given that, would advice that suggests simply eating a bit less of these fats might help, be good to follow??

Not really. And, it is definitely dangerous disinformation for someone to give such advice.

Sure, smoking one pack a day of cigarettes is not as bad for you as four; but even half a pack a day is so bad for your heart, no informed doctor today will say that it’s OK to continue smoking if you value your health & heart health.

So, it was with a great deal of shock that I read advice recently to count grams of transfats as being of equal risk with grams of saturated fat.

THAT is dangerously bad advice !!

Transfats are something like TEN times as bad for you. You cannot safely eat them regularly, period.

You not only can eat some saturated fat, it may boost your HDL more than your LDL if you don’t eat too much & eat it with fiber and antioxidant containing foods.

If you eat a diet that is 5 to 10 % saturated fat by calories; never overcook or use too high a temperature to cook food containing saturated fats; & you eat plentiful fruits & vegetables to carry some of the saturated fat away & prevent it from oxidizing, you can easily eat saturated fat with virtually no health penalty at all.

So, to count grams of transfat as of equal harm to saturated fat is like saying slightly spoiled pineapple is about as unsafe as hand grenades that have had their fuses pulled.

To quote a line from the early Arnold Schwarzenegger film Pumping Iron,

‘That is BAD advices.”

Don’t be fooled.

Hydrogenated vegetable oils are like heart attack starters. Don’t buy or eat them if you value your health.

Don’t believe people who say different. Their information is incomplete & dangerously wrong.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, February 15, 2008

Even more bad news about soft drinks...

Today's post: Friday, 2-15-2008

1. New study shows that drinking a lot of soft drinks & not exercising reliably made people fat.

In addition, it showed that doing this caused such liver dysfuntion that it alarmed the doctors; caused undesirable liver changes; & tended to create type II diabetes.

Since the soft drinks involved were either diet or sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, this suggests that both these sweeteners are dangerous to your health to consume.

(Given that fast food hamburgers are high in protein -- & often have raw onions, which reliably raise HDL, it’s not clear to me that eating hamburgers is a good way to raise HDL.

Also, the news article didn’t say by how much HDL was raised. A 3 % increase is no big deal & was likely only from the onions, for example. If the study showed 30 %, then that might be significant. However, I doubt it.

In studying the French Paradox they spoke of in the news story, I discovered one of the reasons the French had a lower heart attack rate than in the United States is that compared to here, they hardly ever drank full fat milk or ate hamburgers – though that may have changed since those studies were done.)

“Fast-food binge harms liver, but boosts good cholesterol: study by Marlowe Hood
Wed Feb 13, 8:48 PM ET

PARIS (AFP) - A month-long diet of fast food and no exercise led to dangerously high levels of enzymes linked to liver damage, in an unusual experiment inspired by the
docu-movie "Supersize Me." ….”

“….Researchers in Sweden asked 12 men and six women in their twenties, all slim and in good health, to eat two meals per day at McDonalds, Burger King or other fast-food restaurants over four weeks.

The volunteers were also told to refrain from exercising. The goal was to increase body weight by 10 to 15 percent to measure the impact of an abrupt surge in calorie intake.

Blood samples were taken before, during and after the experiment to monitor levels of an enzyme called alanine aminotransferase, or ALT, a potential marker for liver damage often seen among heavy drinkers and patients with hepatitis C.

Levels of ALT increased sharply after only one week, and quadrupled on average over the entire period, said lead researcher Frederik Nystrom, a doctor at the University Hospital of Linkoping.

"The results scared me," he told AFP. "One of the subjects had to be withdrawn from the study because he had 10 times the normal ALT levels."

For 11 of the 18 subjects, ALT rose to levels that would normally reflect liver damage, even among individuals who did not drink any alcohol, although no such damage occurred, he said.

Two of the individuals had liver steatosis, or fatty liver, in which fat cells build up dangerously in the liver, he said. Steatosis is associated with the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which has taken on epidemic proportions, especially in industrialised countries.

Published in the British Medical Association's journal Gut, the study "proves that high ALT levels can be caused by food alone," said Nystrom.

That signs of liver damage were linked to carbohydrates was another key finding, he said.

"It was not the fat in the hamburgers, it was rather the sugar in the coke," he said.”….

….”The young Swedish guinea pigs ate at least two fast-food meals a day, and terminated the study once they had gained a maximum of 15 percent in weight.

On average, they tipped the scales 6.5 kilos (14.3 pounds) more, but one ballooned by 12 kilos (26.4 pounds).

Nystrom got the idea for his study from the 2004 Oscar-nominated documentary "Supersize Me," in which filmmaker Morgan Spurlock asked doctors to monitor him over a 30-day period in which he ate at McDonalds morning, noon and night.

Doctors were so alarmed by changes in his blood chemistry -- including skyrocketing levels of ALT -- that they begged him to halt his experiment.”

In case you aren’t familiar with his documentary movie, "Supersize Me," he also developed symptoms of heart disease & experienced partial erectile dysfunction from his month of eating this way.

2. The other piece of news I read recently was startling. Diet soft drink sweeteners may make you even more fat than regular soft drinks.

I had read that they tended to produce disease about as well & knew that they did NOT, despite it seeming illogical, do ANY good to help people lose weight.

The study I read about recently, said that they tended to make people even more fat because the sweet taste with no blood sugar boost threw off the appetite controls of the people consuming sweeteners that had no calories.

This also suggests that it may even be more desirable to use some real sugar than to use such natural no calorie sweeteners as stevia & erythritol, which is sold as Z-Sweet.

In addition, there are many people who believe as I do that the artificial chemicals used as no calorie sweeteners in soft drinks & other foods are NOT health OK to consume for any reason. So if you must have something sweet that has no sugar do it as seldom as you can & use stevia or erythritol, which is sold as Z-Sweet. These at least are likely to be safe to consume. And, consider not using them until after you have lost any fat weight you are trying to use if you can.

If you’ve read our previous posts, you already know that high fructose corn syrup sweetened soft drinks tend to make you fat as they add calories but do NOT make you less hungry.

And, you know that to the extent carbohydrates of any kind turn down hunger, they create an even hungrier state later. So eating a low carb, higher protein & low glycemic diet is a good way to stay trim. And, you’ve also read here this is likely because people evolved to eat protein foods, nuts, fruits, & vegetables but NOT grains or refined grains or refined sugars.

So to me the two messages are quite clear.

a) Eliminate 99 to 100 percent of any soft drinks you have been drinking if you want to avoid being fat & sick.

b) And, use real sugar but sparingly & not often or eat whole fruit when you want a sweet treat.

One fitness & fat loss expert I read recently suggests eating real sugar ONCE a week or less only to lose fat.

I think you might be able to eat it a bit more often than that if you also exercise often. But I also have some fat on my tummy I’d like to lose. So he may be right.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, February 14, 2008

New way to prevent & overcome colds...

Today's post: Thursday, 2-14-2008

A news article today that I found online on in the Health section of Yahoo News reveals that taking probiotics may sharply reduce the number of colds you get & make the ones you do get about 40 % less severe. Not bad !!

And, after it, I’ll list another supplement that recently has been discovered to have a similar effect.

1. Here’s the article.:

"Friendly" bugs cut respiratory illness in runners Wed Feb 13, 7:12 PM ET

PARIS (AFP) - A type of probiotic -- the term for bacteria supplements deemed to be good for health -- boosted the immune system of long-distance runners, according to an Australian study published on Thursday.

Twenty elite male athletes, competing in events ranging from 800m to the marathon, were enrolled in an experiment that coincided with intensive winter training.

The volunteers were given the probiotic Lactobacillus fermentum, in the form of freeze-dried powder in gelatin capsules, or a dummy lookalike capsule called a placebo that contained harmless starch. Neither they nor the researchers knew what the individual capsules contained.

Each runner took the probiotics daily for a four-week stretch, followed by a four-week "washout period" in which they took nothing. They then followed this with the placebo for four weeks, followed by another "washout."

The bug did not change athletic performance but did reduce respiratory illness, according to the researchers, led by David Pyne of the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.

Seven of the runners reported having respiratory problems, such as a sore throat, a cough, runny nose, chest congestion and sneezing on days when they took the placebo.

These problems were recorded on a total of 72 days and rated on average 1.7 on a scale of severity, where three was the highest mark.

But when they took the probiotics, only three of the runners reported respiratory problems. The symptoms occurred on only 30 days and rated 1.0 for severity.

In addition, blood samples showed that levels of interferon gamma -- an immune-system molecule that is a key player in fighting viral infection -- doubled during the "probiotic" period.

Lactobacillus fermentum is a lactic acid bacterium that is well established as a treatment for (diarrhea) and other gut infections.

Probiotics are increasingly showing up in food products, led by Lactobacilli -- the germ that provides the sour taste in yoghurt and other fermented dairy foods.”


(I added the bold emphasis of the good results myself.)

JarroDophilus from the Jarrow company, is the one I take. It has Lactobacillus acidophilus & two other of the lactobacillus family & two other probiotics. One a day is effective; & it’s not expensive to take that much.

(Probiotics are safe for almost everyone. However, there is a serious inflammatory condition called pancreatitis in which probiotics are harmful.)

2. It’s been known for some time that a daily multiple vitamin & mineral that includes vitamin C, zinc, & magnesium helps keep your immune system strong.

It’s main benefit is not so much that your immune system will be unusually powerful but that taking the daily multiple vitamin & mineral will prevent your immune system from being weak. That helps prevent pneumonia & other secondary infections when you do get a cold.

However, one of the vitamins that is in a daily multiple vitamin & mineral has been recently discovered to be at only about a fifth or a seventh the desirable dose.

It seems that our bodies need to use about 2,000 to 3,000 iu of vitamin D a day. And, with mostly inside jobs, particularly during the winter, few people get enough sun exposure to produce that much.

And, when people take 2,000 to 3,000 iu a day of vitamin D, it strongly boosts the immune system.

This not only helps prevent colds & help speed recovery from them, it appears to help prevent all cancers as well.

Even better, vitamin D is cheap. 100 caps of 1,000 iu of vitamin D3 (the biologically active version) cost only $5 or $6.

So, the JarroDophilus may help prevent or speed recovery from colds & flu based on the news story.

But vitamin D is proven to from what I’ve read.

(By the way, the reason I think the probiotics may be as strong as vitamin D or stronger is that I take both & my wife only takes the vitamin D.

She got a moderate case of the current really bad cold while I got an extremely mild one day bout.)

I hope these two supplements work as well for you as they seem to have been doing for me in escaping being sick this cold & flu season.

PS: If you do get a cold or flu, in addition to taking these two supplements, get as much extra rest as you possibly can AND, drink a LOT of extra water.

Doctors say to drink extra water. But very few explain how much it actually does for you. It helps keep you from fainting or getting pneumonia & other secondary infections.

But of greater short term value to you, it changes your feeling when you are sick from feeling debilitated, weak, nonfunctional & HORRIBLE to just feeling a bit sick.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

How to exercise when you feel lazy...

Today's post: Tuesday, 2-12-2008

In today’s world of sedentary jobs & recreations & virtually no walking to go places, people who exercise regularly gain enormous benefits. It helps enormously to compensate for the physical activity our bodies evolved to do & that we no longer get.

And, people who never exercise get all kinds of horrible effects -- from being more likely to become senile to poor or nonexistent sex lives to heart disease to type II diabetes that, as regular exercisers, they could have escaped all or most of.

In short, if you know what good things exercise does FOR you & what horrible things lack of exercise does TO you, it becomes easier to exercise even if you feel lazy. You know how very important it is.

And, if you don’t exercise when you feel lazy, it can become a habit. So, ways to get into exercise most of the days when you do feel lazy are often very important.

That’s my own best strategy to get myself to exercise whether or not I feel lazy that day.

I KNOW how very important it is.

And, I thought I’d include the article below & some of my other ideas that can help because this is such an important issue.

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

How to Get Motivated to Work Out

By Craig Ballantyne

Sometimes you just don't feel like doing your workout. It even happens to me, and I'm a pro! But I know that I feel like a million bucks after my workout. And I know I can't let myself get "soft" and start skipping sessions.
I have to lead by example. But what about you?

If you are set on achieving your fitness goals, you've got to grit your teeth and do the job. So here are some suggestions to inspire you.

1. Reward yourself when you finish a workout. Treat yourself to a magazine, a TV show, some extra time with your family, some new songs for your iPod, or even a little extra time for yourself.

2. Punish yourself when you miss one. Skip the workout, put $20 into a jar to spend on home repairs. (Make sure your spouse controls the jar.)

3. Review your goals every day and every night. Keeping your goals fresh in your mind will help you stay on track.

4. Realize that the hardest part of the workout is often getting your butt to the gym. Once you get five minutes into it, you will be over the hump. So tell yourself, "I'll just go in and do one set of the first two exercises. Then I can leave." Next thing you know, you'll have done the entire workout.

5. Visualize yourself performing a great workout and finishing strong. Get yourself mentally prepared, and you will have better workouts every time.

6. Crank the tunes. Seriously. Nothing motivates like music.

Now get out there and kick the fat to the curb!

[Ed. Note: Fitness expert Craig Ballantyne is the creator of the Turbulence Training for Fat Loss system.”

X * X* X* X

Some of my added comments.

Here are some other ideas I’ve found to help.

1. I know on the nights that I go to the gym to work out with the heavier weights they have there, that when I go in feeling frazzled, wrung out, & tired, that I’ll feel OK within the first two sets. I literally go in feeling like a wreck & feel good in just a minute or two.

I’ve found that knowing that helps me make the effort to show up there quite a bit on days when I feel less than my best.

2. I keep track of when I go in a written log. If I do miss a session for any reason, I make a much stronger effort to go to the next session than I otherwise might.

If I make 90 % of the sessions, I know I’ll benefit. And, if I make less than half I’ll get a lot less out of it. So, I’m not upset if I miss one. But I make it a personal priority to not miss two in a row even if I feel lazy just before that second one.

3. The other thing I do is to also exercise virtually every day at home for a few minutes as part of my first thing in the morning routine. (I do upper body three days, every other day; leg exercise 3 of the days I’m off from doing upper body exercise; & one easy extra abdominal workout the 7th day.

This means that when I do have to miss going to the gym, when I go back, I can usually pick up about where I left off.

And, since it’s a part of my everyday early morning routine before other events can get in the way, I hardly ever miss.

I don’t even think about whether or not I feel lazy, I just do it.

I hope you find some of these ideas helpful & that they work for you also.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, February 11, 2008

Tasty boost to health benefits of green tea...

Today's post: Monday, 2-11-2008

In our last post, we put information that drinking tea helps to physically improve & speed up your body’s recovery from stress & added some related info about drinking tea for health.

And, in an earlier post, we suggested that people who find green tea too bland or aren’t fond of the taste of black tea might like it fine by adding some lemon juice. (It tastes more like tart lemonade if you do that.)

Earlier today I saw the article I’m posting below that says that adding lemon may give you as much as FIVE times as much of some of green tea’s health benefits.

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

Boost the Power of Your Tea With a Squeeze

By Kelley Herring

If you frequently enjoy a splash of citrus in your green tea, you're doing your body a favor.

New research from Purdue University, published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, shows that catechins - the primary antioxidants in green tea - are destroyed by digestion. In fact, less than 20 percent of these free-radical fighters remain by the time they've traversed your tract.

But the researchers also found that citrus juice boosted catechin levels by more than five times. The most potent juice was lemon, causing 80 percent of the tea's catechins to remain, followed by orange, lime, and grapefruit.

So don't let the healthy benefits of green tea go down the drain. Give it a squeeze of zesty lemon, sweet orange, fresh lime, or tangy grapefruit. You'll deliver pleasure to your senses and pack more potency into your cup.

[Ed. Note: Kelley Herring is the founder and CEO of Healing Gourmet (, and is editor-in-chief of the Healing Gourmet book series.”

X * X* X* X

Some added comments.

Grapefruit juice may not be safe for people who are taking any kind of drug as it tends to increase the effective dose. Lemon juice is OK from what I've read.

Also, it my be safest to drink tea with lemon in a tea or coffee cup made of glass as many ceramic ones will leach lead if you put something in them as acidic as lemon juice.

And, taking in added lead which harms your health when you are trying to improve it sounds like a very bad idea to me.

Why guess when decent glass cups are available? If the stores you go to don’t have them, try bar supplies or an upscale store as I’ve found glass cups in both kinds of stores. (I think that bars use them for Irish coffees.)

Some of green tea’s health benefits may stay the same. But this clearly will add some vitamin C & multiply some of the health benefits.

So, if you like lemon, by all means give it a try.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, February 08, 2008

Tea turns down your physical stress reactions...

Today's post: Friday, 2-8-2008

I’ve read that drinking tea or green tea helps increase blood flow & keep your blood pressure in the normal zone or help lower it if it’s too high.

And, we did a post to warn people who want all the health benefits of drinking tea to ONLY drink it without milk. It’s been shown that adding milk to tea turns off many of its health benefits.

I’d also read that drinking tea might help you recover from stress but was less sure of that one so I didn’t do a post on it.

However, anything that helps you recover from stress increases your resilience and will help protect your health.

So, I’m delighted to include the article below that shows that drinking tea does indeed help you recover physically from stress.

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

Stressed Out? Try Tea

By Kelley Herring

Stressed out? Reach for a soothing cup of black tea.
A recent study conducted by University College London researchers evaluated the effects of black tea on stress in the body. Seventy-five regular tea drinkers were split into two groups. All study participants gave up their normal tea, coffee, and caffeinated beverages. One group drank a caffeinated black tea. The control group drank a caffeinated fake-tea placebo.

To eliminate the "comforting" effect of drinking a cup of tea, researchers masked the sensory cues typically associated with tea drinking. Then they had the groups perform challenging tasks to evaluate their bodies' stress responses as measured by the hormone cortisol, blood pressure, blood platelets, and self-rated stress levels.
The tasks caused similar stress levels in both groups.

However, 50 minutes after performing the tasks, cortisol levels had dropped by an average of 47 percent in the tea-drinking group compared with a mere 27 percent in the fake-tea group. The researchers also found that blood platelet activation (which is linked to blood clotting and the risk of heart attacks) was lower in the tea drinkers. And the tea drinkers reported feeling more relaxed in the recovery period after performing the tasks.

Because tea is chemically complex, researchers can't yet pinpoint the ingredients responsible for its beneficial effects. What they do know is that enjoying a cup of black tea may speed recovery from the daily stresses in life. And that, in turn, can help reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease.

Stock up on healthy and delicious organic black tea. It's calorie-free, packed with powerful phytonutrients, and can help soothe away stress too.

[Ed. Note: Kelley Herring is the founder and CEO of Healing Gourmet (, and is editor-in-chief of the Healing Gourmet book series.”

X *X* X * X * X
My comments added comments are these.:

I suspect strongly that green tea also works. But by all means drink some black tea also just in case. Also, black tea tends to have more caffeine than green tea. So at work, where many people experience the most stress & need to be sharpest it may make sense to drink black tea & drink green tea at home.

Also, if you get the jitters drinking coffee & are trying tea as caffeine substitute, you may find it easier to transition to tea if you drink black tea.

Lastly, if you dislike the taste of black tea, you can drink Earl Grey tea which has a much different taste but is still black tea; you can drink green tea instead but just use extra tea bags if you need extra caffeine, or you can add juice from a squeezed lemon, so your black tea tastes more like tart lemonade.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Soft drinks & smoking even worse than thought...

Today's post: Thursday, 2-7-2008

Today’s post is a bit shorter than most we do; but it contains some new information.

1. Gout is a VERY uncomfortable condition that creates sharp, stabbing pain in your joints. That’s because it creates uric acid crystals that are quite literally stabbing the inside surface of your joints. Ouch !!

One way to avoid it is to avoid eating excessive amounts of fatty meats -- with hamburger from grain fed cattle being the kind people in the United States now tend to overeat.

Since this kind of meat also is high in omega 6 oils & animal based saturated fat & has excessive calories from that fat that tend to wind up on YOU, it’s a very sound idea to mostly or totally avoid it.

It turns out a second way to avoid gout is to never drink soft drinks. A health news article a week ago on the AFP health news on Yahoo said it’s been found that drinking soft drinks also increases the amount of gout people get.

Since soft drinks also have been implicated in keeping people fat & helping cause type II diabetes, do yourself a favor & drink tea, green tea, or purified water instead.

Why pay money to get fat, sick, & have shooting pains in your joints?

As long as you won’t be driving too soon afterwards, even rum would be better for you.

So would beer for that matter.

So, if you eat at the big chain fast food places, consider water or orange juice & salad to keep you going.

Or go to a Mexican one like Uno Mas. They have decent beer, guacamole, and beans in addition to the standard junk. will get you to a site local to you if there is one. They also have mild & hot salsa you can put on the beans.

Also, Subway has great sandwich ingredients including many with great flavor. Simply let them keep the cheap refined grain bread & get a sandwich sized serving of a protein food
(they have some lean ones.) – Atkins style. And get water to drink.

2. Regular readers of these posts already know that everyone who smokes is giving themselves heart disease & that lung cancer is the LITTLE risk since, as horrible as it is for those who get it even smokers don’t always get it.

One of the ways that smoking, IN ALL SMOKERS, NOT just some -- creates cardiovascular disease is that it triggers elevated levels of homocysteine.

Homocysteine at those elevated levels helps deposit plaque in your arteries & accelerates your rate of aging.

So the recent news is not surprising but was new to me. It’s now been shown that smokers are far more likely to get senility & dementia, & possibly Alzheimer’s disease.

The reason that this is not surprising is that homocysteine readings of 9.0 & over, particularly of 12.0 & over are predictive of an increased risk of senility & dementia, & possibly Alzheimer’s disease.

So, since smoking produces exactly that effect in virtually all smokers, this new finding is one that data would predict you would find.

Still, in complex biological processes, you don’t always find the effects you predicted & have reason to expect to find.

So, it’s still important news that a study confirms that smoking does tend to trigger senility & dementia, & possibly Alzheimer’s disease.

So, in addition to heart attacks, strokes, peripheral artery disease, kidney disease, & erectile dysfunction, we now can add that smoking helps cause senility & dementia, & possibly Alzheimer’s disease.

If you still smoke, ask yourself this.

Would you prefer a few weeks of undergoing the effort to quit smoking or –

-- would you prefer to not make that effort & look forward to getting heart attacks, strokes, peripheral artery disease, kidney disease, & erectile dysfunction, AND senility & dementia, & possibly Alzheimer’s disease?

Keep in mind that if you need, your doctor can get you Zyban; nicotine replacements are available over the counter, & your HMO or the American Cancer Society can give you a good support group to use -- & that each of these things have been effective in helping people quit smoking.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

2 more ways to increase your HDL to protect your heart...

Today's post: Tuesday, 2-5-2008

Yesterday, I posted a set of supplements that increase HDL and seven other ways to increase HDL that I found in a medical education article.

Since the medical education article included statins as one of their methods, that means our post yesterday had seven methods that do not use drugs. The supplements plus the 6 ways to boost HDL from the article equals seven methods in yesterday’s post that did not use drugs. And, since all of those seven methods had added health benefits instead of side effects, we think well of them.

Here are two more that give you outstanding heart protection and other health benefits.:

1. This morning, I got an email advertising free information from a doctor who uses similar methods in his practice.

Adding up to half a raw onion to your food each day can increase your HDL cholesterol from 20 to 30 %. That’s a very substantial boost. It’s inexpensive as well.

Plus, there is even better news on this one. Onions also lower triglycerides with the sulfur compounds they contain. And, their main flavonoid, quercetin, also keeps your HDL from oxidizing and keeps your blood platelets from getting too sticky.

That set of things means that onions are one of the most heart protective foods you can eat.

The increased HDL helps clean your blood vessels.

And, the other actions of onions reduce the amount of harmful cholesterol by cutting the amount of the dangerous small sized LDL; by keeping your HDL from oxidizing; & by helping you avoid excessive clotting and restricted blood flow.

That means that onions also make your LDL safer and less likely to become obstructive plaque in your blood vessels. In addition, eating onions will tend to lower your blood pressure & help prevent the blood clots that trigger heart attacks & strokes.

There may also be evidence that onions prevent cancer and reduce inflammation.

If you eat sandwiches, they will be better for you if you include onion slices.

And, diced onions are a very flavorful addition to salsas, salads, coleslaw, and chili.

Even better, onions are so potent a health protector, you can eat less of them than the half an onion a day and still get plentiful benefits.

The important thing is to eat them often unless you are allergic to them.

2. In a separate health information email this morning, I read another way to increase your HDL, that, like eating onions, also has abundant other heart protective benefits.

The worst effect of eating foods that contain hydrogenated vegetable oils, whether partially hydrogenated or fully hydrogenated, &/or any transfats from other sources is that they sharply increase the amount of the dangerous small particle LDL in your system. And, that means that they are quite literally heart attack starters, just like lit lighter fluid helps start BBQ fires. That happens because that kind of LDL sticks in the chinks in your blood vessel walls & builds up plaque deposits.

So, it’s really critical for your health to read labels & refuse to eat or buy food with that junk in it. Why pay money to give yourself a heart attack or a stroke?

The news I got this morning is that if you stop eating this stuff, your HDL cholesterol goes up also.

Conversely if you are eating these foods & continue, your HDL will be lower which helps prevent your artery plaque from being removed.

Unfortunately, these foods are not illegal world-wide or even in the United States as of now. And, they are or have been in shortening, almost all commercial baked goods, microwaved popcorn, some candy bars, some bread, most crackers, many other packaged snack foods – including some oil roasted nuts, & even ice cream.

Another benefit to boycotting these foods at the store & refusing to eat them is that most of these also have refined grains or sugars, so if you stop eating them, you’re likely to also lose fat.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, February 04, 2008

7 ways to increase your HDL to protect your heart...

Today's post: Monday, 2-4-2008

I read a medical education article recently that listed seven different ways to increase your HDL & protect your heart.

Six of them do not involve supplements; so, if you also take choline & chromium polynicotinate & a good B Complex, plus about 35 mg of zinc & 400 to 600 mg of magnesium, you can boost your HDL enough to make a significant improvement in your heart health and lower your heart disease risk. (You get, I believe, a 5 to 20 % boost from that combination of supplements.)

In addition, other than the one method that uses drugs, which also have risks & side-effects, each of the supplements listed above & the other 6 of the 7 methods from the article have other health benefits, many of which are also heart protective..

The other good thing about the article that’s nice is that it gives you a good estimate of how much boost you will get from each one.

1. Exercise they list as increasing your HDL by 5 to 10 %. Dr Peter Wood at Stanford showed that vigorous exercise every week of 1500 calories a week or more was most effective.

Exercise also improves circulation & circulation to your heart; & it reduces the harmful small sized, LDL, so it gives you triple heart protection.

The one caveat if you have heart disease or very high risk factors, is to improve your risk factors in other ways & do less vigorous exercise until your risk factors improve & you have acclimated to exercise BEFORE you push the limits on vigorous exercise. People who try too hard without doing that have died of the heart attack they triggered.

I personally believe I get over a 10 % boost, based on how my HDL level goes down if I get somewhat less exercise, let alone not at all. (I know the other benefits of exercise & the abundant other penalties for NOT exercising. So, even when I’m sick, I usually manage some.)

2. Fat loss will boost your HDL by 1 % for about each pound of fat loss. So, if you are 15 pounds over fat & lose them, you’d get a 15 % boost. Clearly, if you are really fat, it will take longer; but you will get more boost when you are done.

(I suspect you get less than that if you were already exercising. But I suspect you get more if you also lost the fat weight in part by beginning regular exercise.)

3. Replacing transfats (aka trans fats); saturated fats from animal sources, & polyunsaturated oils like soy, corn, & safflower with omega 3 oils & with extra virgin olive oil, will boost your HDL up to 5%

In addition, this will help lower your blood pressure, &, just like exercise, it will reduce the harmful small sized, LDL. That means you get triple heart protection from this one.

4. Stop smoking if you smoke; & escape from second hand smoke if you are often exposed to it to the maximum extent you can.

They estimate this one at 5 to 10 % HDL boost.

But the health benefits & heart protection benefits are FAR greater than that. Cigarette & other tobacco smoke also make the HDL you still have less beneficial & effective in preventing heart disease. Even worse, it increases the amount of homocysteine in your blood which also tends to cause heart disease in other ways. This effect even hits younger smokers.

So, the heart & health protection for this one if you haven’t already done it, are much closer to 100 to 400 %.

5. Regular alcohol consumption from alcoholic drinks boosts HDL by 5 to 15 %.

But excessive or mismanaged drinking causes other health problems and the accident rate associated with that has a death rate. So, many doctors are wary of recommending that people do this one.

The best range for men for health overall seems to be between 6 & 12 drinks a week with it being rare to drink more than 2 a day.

The best range for women for health overall seems to be between 3 & 6 drinks a week with it being rare to drink more than one a day. (Women tend to be smaller & usually process alcohol at about half the rate of men.)

All alcohol seems to boost HDL & promote less blood clotting. But red wine & dark beer have other health benefits.

The higher end of that range boosts HDL the best but begins to increase other risks.

Be extra careful if you drink. And, stay home or wait a few hours before you drive or operate dangerous things once you drink alcohol.

6. Taking niacin often boosts HDL by 20 to 30 %.

It also lowers LDL cholesterol. Even better, beyond just protecting your heart, people who take niacin have a lower death rate from all causes than people who do not.

This one, like exercise, not smoking, moderate drinking & taking all the supplements we first list above, is a very powerful tool to use indeed.

Some cautions & tips are in order however.

If you take more than 1,000 mg a day, you need to have your doctor check your liver function regularly with the appropriate blood tests because higher doses sometimes cause liver problems.

Also note that, although inositol hexaniacinate may also boost HDL, that’s far less proven. And, since it is sometimes sold as No Flush niacin, if you want to try niacin, do NOT buy No Flush niacin or inositol hexaniacinate. (I take 600 mg a day of each & have had great HDL measurements.)

I take 300 mg of niacin after breakfast & another after dinner. I find that this minimizes or eliminates the flush reaction. However, taking it on empty stomach or after a small meal tends to give me the full flush reaction. I know the flush likely is helping to clean out my blood vessels; but it looks & feels like instant sunburn until it subsides, so I don’t recommend taking niacin on an empty stomach.

Also note that the version of niacin called niacinimide does not produce a flush but it doesn’t boost HDL or lower LDL either. However, I recommend taking some as part of a good B complex vitamin because it has other health benefits. And, I strongly suspect that if you take both niacin AND niacinimide, you get more HDL boost & LDL lowering from the niacin you take, since the niacinimide has some of niacin’s other functions already covered.

The last caution is that sometimes taking statins & niacin together causes bad side effects, so if your doctor prescribes both be sure they are checking you regularly & report any side effects quickly.

7. The article says that statins boost HDL by 5 to 10 %. They also decrease inflammation.

For most statins, the boost, I’ve read, is closer to 5 %. And, the statins have a less protective track record than niacin; they cost more; & they have side effects & risks. (They actually hurt your heart by lowering CoQ10 if you don’t take them with 90 to 100 mg a day or more of CoQ10.)

So, the better doctors I’ve read only use statins for their sickest, worst shape, patients -- & rely on the first 6 steps instead for most of their patients.

As you can see, that also works & can even work better if you do all of them.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, February 01, 2008

New type II diabetes cause found...

Today's post: Friday, 2-1-2008

Type II diabetes has plentiful causes in the modern economies many people now live in.

More & more people have sedentary jobs & do little walking. And, unfortunately, some do no regular exercise to help compensate for this. Further, the amount of time many people have spent away from work watching TV has been going up.

Also, until recently, fewer people have been eating an amount & variety of vegetables necessary to sustain optimal or even good health. Further, more & more people have been consuming the health NOT OK snacks like transfat & refined grain snack foods & the soft drinks that we did a post about yesterday. Even worse, until recently this trend was increasing.

Combined, these two factors almost always make people fat & tend to cause type II diabetes over time.

But, it seems that there is a third major cause that has also been increasing in our culture that may be responsible as well for the sharp rise in type II diabetes, now found even among children, that we have been seeing.

I found part of the clues to this cause in the health article I read in the health article in the Early To Rise email I get. (This was in last Monday’s, 1-28-2008 issue.)

Since it’s so convincing, I’ve reprinted it here.:

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

“One Damn Good Reason to Eat Organic

By Shane "The People's Chemist" Ellison

"Eating organic" isn't just a good way to support your local farmers. It can also help you avoid Type II diabetes.

In a study released by the American Diabetes Association, scientists discovered that herbicide exposure poses a real threat to our health. It can cause high levels of blood sugar and insulin, for example, both of which can lead to Type II diabetes and drastically decrease lifespan.

The biggest culprits are classes of compounds known as organochlorines. Excess exposure among pregnant women leads to a 2.2-fold higher risk of developing gestational diabetes.

Men showed a 47 percent increased risk.

The most commonly used organochlorine in the U.S. is atrazine. Banned in Europe, 76 million pounds of it are dumped on U.S. foods each year. Non-organic corn and coffee can have particularly high levels of atrazine.

To limit the health risks of herbicides, buy organic foods whenever you can. Choosing organic versions of corn and coffee in particular would be damn smart.

[Ed. Note: Shane "The People's Chemist" Ellison is an internationally recognized authority on therapeutic nutrition. ….”

Coffee is a tough one to deal with as many people do rely on it. And, organic coffee so far is quite expensive. Also, I’m not sure that this source is behind the surge in type II diabetes because people have been drinking a lot of coffee for a LONG time.

(Two ways to drink less non-organic coffee that can work are:

1. Drink organic green tea since you can buy it at reasonable cost at Whole Foods Market stores & likely elsewhere. And two or more cups a day of green tea also have separate health benefits.

2. Buy organic coffee & instant coffee for part of your caffeine intake. I saw a really good looking organic instant at my local Whole Foods Market. And, there may be other sources.

That way, you can drink a lot less non-organic coffee & keep up enough caffeine intake even if you still drink some non-organic coffee.)

Unfortunately, corn is a different matter entirely. THAT is the likely smoking gun in the surge in type II diabetes besides the first two factors.

Here’s why.:

John Robbins, a vegetarian health expert, explained in his book, Diet for a New America, that most people ingest far more pesticides & herbicides from the animal fat they eat than they do from the produce they eat. It seems when those animals ingest food that has even low levels of pesticides & herbicides, they bioconcentrate it in the fat in their bodies.

Secondly, our beef cattle, dairy cattle, & poultry have been overfed corn instead of allowed to graze naturally & eat grass and the other foods they are evolved to eat.

(I’m indebted to health expert & author Dr Al Sears & to reporter and book author Michael Pollan for educating me as to the extent of this practice and its other health damaging effects.)

Since people in the United States have been eating these foods in abundance; & they clearly contain these herbicides, that is really scary. According to John Robbins, that virtually guarantees you a high intake of these herbicides from the bioconcentration effect.

Further, this may even mean that people who do not eat corn directly or who do avoid excess sugars & junk food and who exercise may be affected as well.

This one is important to work on.

This means that it is important to minimize the amount of animal fats from corn fed animals you take in to successfully prevent type II diabetes.

Since doing so also reduces your intake of saturated fat which protects your heart and it helps avoid or lower high blood pressure, it’s an extremely good idea.

What are OK substitutes?

Beef fed only grass. (That’s, mercifully, becoming gradually more available.)

Wild caught fish other than those high in mercury.

Nuts, beans, & lentils. And poultry that has only been pasture fed or only fed organic feed.

Protein supplements made from whey may be OK. And those made from egg whites clearly are. I’m much less familiar with them; but hemp based protein supplements may be OK also.

It also likely helps to trim off all visible fat from any corn fed beef or pork that you eat.

Not eating any hamburger that comes from corn fed cattle also is likely to be wise. (Ground beef using only grass fed beef is probably OK.)

This is also another reason to have most of your dairy intake be of nonfat & very lowfat versions only.

Please consider eating this way. You will definitely protect your health that way.

And, if enough people do that, more of these health OK choices will become available.

Even better, it will help stop the over-feeding of animals with corn & corn that has herbicide residues in it.

Labels: , , , ,