Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Education, knowledge, and high taxes reduce smoking....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 8-31-2010

Yesterday we posted on how even heavy drinking if you do it carefully on the average is better for your health than not drinking at all according to a new study and how moderate drinking is much better for you than either.

Smoking is different.

Even though smoking works for some people to relieve stress and depression, virtually every exposure to tobacco smoke harms you.

Smoking even 3 cigarettes a week or occasional exposures longer than two or three minutes to second hand smoke are harmful.

So, if you like for the people around you to be healthy, lower medical care costs, and to stay healthy yourself, the fewer people who smoke and the fewer cigarettes the remaining smokers smoke, the more likely those three things are to happen.

Yesterday, Monday, 8-30-2010, livescience.com had this story.:

“Smoking Rates Linked to Education and Cigarette Taxes”

A new Gallup study of poll data found that states with a bigger percentage of college educated people and those which had higher taxes on cigarettes had fewer smokers.

This study found that an average of 21 % of American adults smoke.

Utah had the fewest smokers, 13 percent; and Kentucky and West Virginia tied for last place at 31 percent.

The South and Midwest states most often had higher percentages of smokers.

In addition to Kentucky & West Virginia, at 31%, Tennessee, Indiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio, Louisiana, South Carolina and Alabama all had at least 25 % of people who smoke.

Besides Utah, states that were under the national average of 21 % were California, Idaho, Montana, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, Minnesota, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Arizona & Maryland.

Higher rates of smoking were often found in states that had lower percentages of college graduates.

West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee and Oklahoma, for example, are all states where fewer than 25 percent of residents have college degrees.

Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey & the District of Columbia, all areas with higher percentages of college graduates, had some of the lowest rates of smoking.

Cigarette taxes were also associated with low smoking rates.

“In states where smoking was well above average, the average state cigarette tax was $0.66 a pack. In average states, it was $1.59, and in below-average states, it was $2.02.”

(Besides these two factors, low states California, Hawaii, and Minnesota tend to be more health oriented than most. And, besides Utah, low states , Idaho, Montana, & Arizona have more Mormons who usually don’t smoke for religious reasons.)

(The article also said that states with more restrictions on where it is OK to smoke tended to have fewer smokers.)

The third major factor in whether or not people smoke is their specific knowledge of how harmful it is. Few doctors today now smoke for example.

So, what can be done to have fewer smokers and have the smokers smoke less?

1. This polling data and other studies show that higher taxes do work. More people who are willing to try to quit do so and succeed. Fewer people begin smoking in part because when people are young and at the age where they might start smoking, the higher prices and lower incomes they have are more of a deterrent. AND, even the people who don’t want to quit or have been unable to do so, smoke less.

Even better, taxes on tobacco and cigarettes reliably fund the government that collects them; but do NOT slow down the economy as larger sales and income taxes and increased fees tend to do.

If every state brought its state tax on cigarettes up to at least $2.50 a pack and the United States added another $1.50 a pack to its current taxes on cigarettes, they would each be more solvent without slowing their economies. Their health care costs would be much less; and due to their better health, their citizens would be more productive.

2. States that do not yet do so should ban smoking in public places from restaurants and bars and nightclubs to workplaces and on mass transit and in hospitals and government facilities AND within fifty yards of the entrances to any of these.

Smoking in such public places has now been shown to trigger heart attacks that people would otherwise have avoided even in the people affected by the second hand smoke. So, any state that does not do so is ignoring this new information and will have less productive citizens and higher medical care costs because of it.

3. You cannot make fast changes in a State’s percentage of college graduates.

But, you CAN be sure almost all their people know how horribly harmful tobacco smoke actually is AND that every single exposure to tobacco smoke, even one, is harmful.

The number of people who smoke who actually have a clue how horribly harmful tobacco smoke actually is approaches zero.

If that was changed to well over 80 %, the number of people who smoke would drop like a stone. Far more smokers would try to quit. And the number of people who try to quit who succeed would at least quadruple.

What most smokers know now is that some smokers get lung cancer when they are older. But they think they will be one of the smokers who don’t and if they aren’t that would be years from now.

To some extent, particularly for younger smokers, that’s true. Even in the heaviest and most addicted smokers only 25 % of them will get lung cancer.

So, they think of efforts to make them quit as inappropriate and controlling for someone else’s agenda.

But is this accurate in terms of having their health harmed by smoking?

NO! Not by a country mile.

This is like believing that just because some people who light their houses on fire have the fire department show up in time to save the house, that it’s safe and OK to light houses on fire.

The slightly larger problem is that something like 30 % of ALL cancers are caused by smoking or second hand smoke.

Many of these uninformed smokers will die of things like esophageal cancer or prostate or breast or ovarian or colon cancer who would not have gotten them otherwise.

And, that’s STILL just the tip of the iceberg and the little health problems from smoking!

After all that, there’s a LOT more health harm from smoking?!

Yes. And, every single exposure to tobacco smoke causes it.

Here are the big three. NONE of them are the cancers smoking causes; and EVERY smoker and every person they expose to second hand smoke gets some of these every time.

A. The faster you age, the sooner you die; and the worse your health will get before then. Every exposure to tobacco smoke speeds aging.

B. Health protection expert Dr Al Sears has found studies showing that the vitality of your lung function is one of the most powerful and determining factors in how healthy you are. Studies have found that smoking, even in teens just beginning to smoke, ages your lungs and reduces their capacity. (A study found that in smoking teens shown how “old” their lungs tested to be far more tried to quit and far more succeeded in doing so.)

More recently, it has been found that some of this damage is to the genes in your lungs and tends to be permanent even if you quit later. Yikes!

C. Every single exposure to tobacco smoke adds a bit to the thickness of the plaque lining your blood vessels; and exposure to tobacco smoke often causes heart attacks the same people otherwise would have escaped. Smoking increases the small particle LDL that causes this effect. It reduces the HDL that otherwise might have cleaned them off; and it makes the HDL left over less effective!

This causes heart attacks, strokes, vascular dementia, ED and lowered sex response in both sexes, PAD or peripheral artery disease and related foot amputations, and more. And, you get them earlier in your thirties, forties, and fifties. This is unlike nonsmokers, who rarely get these until they are over 65 if at all.

Unlike lung cancer, this one does NOT miss some smokers. If you smoke or are exposed to second hand smoke, every single time, you get a small dose of this.

The only smokers who would continue to smoke if they really know this stuff would be those with a death wish or who are too addicted to care.

And with higher taxes and more restrictions on where people can smoke, even those people would smoke less.

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Nondrinkers’ death rates are HIGHER than most drinkers....

Today's Post: Monday, 8-30-2010

People who drink alcohol heavily die from car accidents they caused when driving drunk or less drunk and too tired. They drown when sober people would not. They die of cirrhosis of the liver and cancers they would likely not have gotten had they not drunk so heavily. They may get fewer heart attacks but may be more likely to die if they get one. They can develop marriage problems or mental decline or sexually transmitted diseases and die early from the effects of those things. They sometimes wind up bankrupt or serving long terms in prison due to the effects of car accidents they cause.

So, on the average, nondrinkers have a lower death rate than heavy drinkers, right?

Nope, the average heavy drinker has a slightly lower death rate than non-drinkers!

(Note that means that heavy drinkers who do it under control and responsibly and don’t do one of these crash landings, have a good bit lower death rate than non-drinkers.)

But , some have argued, non-drinkers include reformed alcoholics who have harmed themselves before becoming non-drinkers.

No to that too. Exclude those folks and non-drinkers still have a higher death rate than the average heavy drinker!


What about moderate drinkers, who by definition tend to drink responsibly and have fewer problems from being drunk?

They have the lowest death rates of all. They have death rates much lower than either non-drinkers OR heavy drinkers.

Today, Monday, 8-30-2010 TIME online had this story.

Their article reported research done by a six-member team led by psychologist Charles Holahan of the University of Texas at Austin.

Here’s a quote.:

“Moderate drinking, which is defined as one to three drinks per day, is associated with the lowest mortality rates in alcohol studies. Moderate alcohol use (especially when the beverage of choice is red wine) is thought to improve heart health, circulation, and sociability, which can be important because people who are isolated don't have as many family members and friends who can notice and help treat health problems.

But why would abstaining from alcohol lead to a shorter life? It's true that those who abstain from alcohol tend to be from lower socioeconomic classes, since drinking can be expensive. And people of lower socioeconomic status have more life stressors - job and child-care worries that might not only keep them from the bottle but also cause stress-related illnesses over long periods.

(They also don't get the stress-reducing benefits of a drink or two after work.)

But even after controlling for nearly all imaginable variables - socioeconomic status, level of physical activity, number of close friends, quality of social support and so on …. over a 20-year period, mortality rates were highest for those who had never been drinkers, second-highest for heavy drinkers and lowest for moderate drinkers.”

Here are the exact numbers.:

“Just over 69% of the never-drinkers died during the 20 years, 60% of the heavy drinkers died and only 41% of moderate drinkers died.”

And the article had this: “…. nondrinkers show greater signs of depression than those who allow themselves” to have some drinks.

My comments:

Separate research shows that drinking alcoholic drinks allows drinkers to get reliable, temporary relief from stress and depression. Given the negative effects these have on your quality of life and your health, that’s a very big part of this effect in my opinion.

The drugs that do those two things, that cost more, have far more side effects, and – sadly – are nowhere near as effective or as effective for as large a percentage, near 100 %, as alcoholic drinks are. Not a one of them works in a few minutes either. Alcohol does though! If and only if done in some moderation and done responsibly, drinking is also safer than taking the drugs.

Other research shows that drinking red wines, particularly those with a high saponin content such as zinfandels, pinot noirs, and burgundy, not only boosts HDL as all other alcoholic drinks do, but lowers heart disease and heart attack risks even more. (Dark beers and ales have similar extra beneficial effects as well. But for reasons of avoiding obesity need to be drunk in a bit more moderation.)

That said, note the huge advantage of moderate drinkers over BOTH non-drinkers and heavy drinkers.

For men, over 14 drinks a week or much over 3 drinks in a single day or at time does tend to move you into the area where your death rate goes UP, your other risks go up, and your risks of health problems other than heart problems such as cancer go up. I can attest from personal experience, that at least for men, you also get fatter than you would have been.

Also note that recent research found that people who drink over 10 drinks a week begin to have an increased incidence of mental decline.

For men, the sweet spot of moderation tends to be 4 to 10 drinks a week – one, two, or 1 and half per day. (Where in that range it falls depends on how much stress the man is under, what his other heart attack risks are, how alcohol fits with his social life, and what he can budget for alcohol.)

All these numbers are cut about in half for most women. Women are significantly smaller on the average than men; and for most women, it’s been found that they metabolize alcohol about half as fast as men.

So, moderation for most women is 2 to 7 drinks a week with 2 to 5 being optimal.

However, there are women who are physically the size of larger men and apparently metabolize alcohol as well as men do. I know one; and she can outdrink most men and has done so.

Petite men and women may need to drink less. And, men the size of pro basketball and football players may be able to drink a bit more.

So, the summary is that people who enjoy drinking and do it almost every week but responsibly and moderately under safe conditions live longest. They very likely also enjoy life the most.

People who drink more heavily but do it responsibly and safely and protect their health in other ways – not smoking and eating anti-cancer vegetables for example, come next.

Non-drinkers come next.

Heavy drinkers who do it irresponsibly and unsafely or who also smoke heavily and extremely heavy drinkers still DO come last and die soonest -- please also note. This research does NOT pretend to say that has changed the slightest bit.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Lose weight to prevent, improve, or cure all these health problems....

Today's Post: Friday, 8-27-2010

Do you have a chronic health condition you’d love to make better or get rid of?

Do you have a chronic health condition you’d like NEVER to get?

If so, this post is for you!

A. Why is effective and permanent fatloss and losing the weight of the excess fat one of the most powerful things you can do to protect your health, feel better, live longer, and slash your medical bills now and in the future?

There are four basic reasons for this.

1. The excess weight directly causes problems. Those problems disappear when the weight does.

2. In order to achieve permanent fat loss you have to begin eating foods and drinking drinks that directly support good health AND you have to STOP doing the opposite.

Since many of the foods that support your health turn off hunger better and longer than other foods, eating them consistently makes losing the all the fat and keeping it off doable.

Since the foods and drinks that fatten also tend to make you hungrier as well. Simply no longer consuming them 98 to 100 % of the time is doubly effective and makes losing the all the fat and keeping it off doable.

Those fattening foods and drinks and the effects they have on your body are now known to directly produce diseases and/or to make them much worse. So when you no longer consume them, you stop this process.

3. In order to achieve permanent fat loss you have to do vigorous exercise or lots of moderate physical activity or both several times every week. By doing so, you can eat more food without feeding excess fat. So you can eat more and be less hungry and still lose all the fat and keep it off. This has proven to make losing all the fat and keeping it off much more doable.

Since that exercise pattern in one of the most powerful health creator and protector ever found, exercising in this way -- if you do it safely -- will do a LOT of the heavy lifting to protect and improve your health all by itself. It also grows new brain cells, sharply slows aging, and tends very strongly to improve your sex life for most people.

But there’s more, the more years you keep doing it the stronger the health protection becomes. Knowing that helps you keep doing it for that reason. But you gain an extra benefit, continuing to exercise helps you lose excess fat long enough to lose it all and to make keeping it off doable.

4. The medical treatments you may need to have done or be talked into and the drugs you may have to take or be talked into taking all cost money. Sometimes these are huge amounts of money.

They often, themselves, cause health problems you would have otherwise escaped.

(For example, I recently discovered that slightly more people who take statin drugs get cataracts they would have avoided otherwise than the number of people who manage to avoid heart attacks by taking the statins.)

These treatments also cause harm to your quality of life in many cases that you would otherwise avoided.

(For example, if you develop high blood pressure high enough to need drugs to reduce it --150 to 160 or more over 100 or more-- or your doctor talks you into taking drugs for lower levels of high blood pressure, side effects of the drugs involved can make you faint when you stand up, feel like hell all day long, and ruin your sex life.

By using two or more drugs at lower doses, adding nondrug methods, trying different drugs until you hit on kinds that give you less grief and still get the job done, a good doctor CAN minimize this. And many do. But all too many just give large doses of their favorite drug and increase the dose if it doesn’t lower your blood pressure enough at first and take the position that the side effects are YOUR problem.)

Procedures and surgeries also can have serious complications; and many even have their own death rates. And, they are usually outrageously expensive.

Losing enough excess fat and following the lifestyle that enables you to lose it all and keep it off can help you avoid these costs and these consequences.

B. Here’s a partial list of the diseases and bad health conditions that you can prevent, improve, or cure by losing enough excess fat and following the lifestyle that enables you to lose it all and keep it off.

High blood pressure;
Heart disease and heart attack;
Strokes and all kinds of senility;
PAD, peripheral artery disease, that can make walking hurt;
ED and lowered sexual enjoyment in both sexes;
Depression &/or lack of energy or stamina;
Many kinds of cancer;
Type 2 diabetes;
& GERD, also known as acid reflux or having BAD heartburn quite often.

Being less attractive to prospective sex partners or mates and to prospective employers also often has negative health consequences as well.

To take just one example, consider high blood pressure. Many people who have over 40 pounds of fat to lose and who do so find their high blood pressure is all gone after they do. A large part of that is that their heart no longer has that extra load of that excess weight to have to fight with every beat it takes.

But there’s more.

The DASH II diet that many of the better doctors strongly recommend to people who have high blood pressure DOES lower high blood significantly in the people who actually follow it. And, even though it can become more effective the longer it’s followed because it also helps people lose excess fat and weight, it’s effective right away because of the increase in potassium in the vegetables and fresh fruit people then eat more of and because their blood vessels are more flexible because it stops people from eating lots of fatty, grain fed meat and eating junk food, and drinking soft drinks.

Other successful ways of eating to lose excess fat and keep it off tend to have these exact same characteristics as well. The Mediterranean diet with extra vegetables and less pasta and other grain foods is very similar to the DASH II diet, for example.

The regular exercise needed to lose excess fat and keep it off also lowers high blood pressure. People who do this kind of exercise have lower blood pressure on every day that they exercise.

Their blood vessels have less plaque in them and are more flexible the longer the people exercise.

That directly lowers the diastolic or lower reading due to there being less friction or drag in the system to overcome.

The greater flexibility of their blood vessels also lowers the systolic or higher number.

The details differ; but the effects on not getting, making better, or getting rid of the other health conditions are very similar.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Important new way to protect your health -- and your life....

Today's Post: Thursday, 8-26-2010

Tuesday, Vera Tweed posted a story titled: “Avoid Antibiotics in Your Food.” And, yesterday it was one of the features in my email from NewsMax.

Why is knowing how to do this important?

Would you like to avoid things like dying maybe in days or even hours, becoming disfigured, horrible suffering, and becoming unable to get lifesaving or corrective or cosmetic surgery without dying from it?

For almost 70 years most people have been able to virtually always avoid these things. Before that, this was NOT true. Since the 1940’s we have had effective antibiotics to spare us from these things.

Avoiding antibiotics in your food can help make it much less likely antibiotics will no longer protect you from these things.

It seems that on factory farms where animals are inhumanely treated and penned up in tiny enclosures and overcrowded and even unsanitary conditions will not get sick and will even gain more saleable bodyweight if you routinely dose them on antibiotics.

Over the last 30 years this has been done on a massive scale in the United States and elsewhere.

Why is this a problem? For two reasons.

The more often antibiotics are used, the faster the bacteria adapt and the antibiotics stop working. And, Vera Tweed’s article had this:

“"According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, about 70 percent of all antibiotics in this country are used in animal feed."”

Since well over 90% of this antibiotic use would be unnecessary if the animals were better treated, this massive use of antibiotics in simply not necessary.

Continuing it will make our antibiotics stop working much faster.

But there is even worse news. If you eat animal based foods where the animals were treated this way, your chances of having YOUR body contain antibiotic resistant germs goes WAY up.

Vera Tweed’s article points out that this was recognized and acted on already in Europe. “A few years ago, the European Union banned the use of antibiotics as growth promoters.” In fact, I posted on an article about Denmark’s experience with this. They found that the costs of their meat and eggs and poultry did go up; but by only 5 percent.

My guess is that factory farms in the United States are worse run in terms of needing antibiotics than the farms were in Denmark that it would increase prices by 10 to 20 percent. But these practices have made meat cheap here so that increase would only move the prices to moderately low.

Vera Tweed notes that you can do as we recently posted on and eat plant protein foods and wild caught fish and eat meat much less often. Your health will be better anyway if you eat meat less often and eat protein foods such as beans, lentils, nuts, and wild caught fish instead at many meals.

But the thing I particularly wanted you to see was how to buy and eat meat that was NOT raised that way here in the United States.

When you DO eat meat or poultry or eggs, you CAN get them from sources that do NOT use this dangerous practice that threatens your health in all these ways.

You can buy from farms that do NOT use antibiotics at all. You can often get animal foods such as cheese that has been imported from Europe that comes from animals not routinely dosed with antibiotics.

Similarly, animals fed their natural diet and not penned up such as lamb or beef from animals fed only grass and pasture fed poultry usually come from farmers who also avoid stuffing their animals with extra antibiotics. (Their animals tend to stay well due to the better treatment. So they are less likely to need antibiotics for that reason as well.)

I’ve known for some time that Whole Foods Markets are great stores to shop at to find and buy these foods.

But Vera Tweed found out this also!:

“Whole Foods Market sells only meat, poultry and fish without antibiotics, and describes its standards for each category of food in the Products section at www.wholefoodsmarket.com . Although the chain’s meat prices are routinely higher than regular supermarkets, weekly specials and frozen fish won’t break your piggy bank.”

I’ve found that Whole Foods also sells grass fed meats and cheeses imported from Europe such as Irish Cheddar myself. But I am happy to discover they do even more to sell safe food that I did not yet know they were doing.

So, to sum up,

People eating beans and lentils for many meals are healthier than those who eat meat several times a day. Since these foods are extremely inexpensive, such people can afford safer, better quality, and more health supporting meat and poultry when they do eat them without paying more in their overall food budget.

Whole Foods and many upscale grocery stores sell such foods now.

You can also take probiotics so some of the beneficial bacteria may kill off the some of the antibiotic resistant bad bacteria.

And, you can vote in favor of following Europe’s lead and simply banning the practices that cause antibiotic overuse now in the United States and support having your political representatives do so.

Lastly, due to recent events, you may be wise to NOT save money by going outside the United States for less expensive surgery.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mean people get more heart attacks....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 8-24-2010

A week ago yesterday on Monday 8-16, 2010, AFP had a story they titled:

"Heart attack, stroke risks higher for combative types: study"

This study found that people who classed themselves as aggressive were more likely have thickening of the lining of the neck arteries than those who described themselves as affable or accommodating.

Thickening of lining of the arteries is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke, note the authors of the study which appeared in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.

In the second part of their study, 3 years after the first self description research was done, "those who scored higher on antagonism or low agreeableness -- especially those who were manipulative and quick to express anger -- continued to have thickening of their artery walls. These traits also predicted greater progression of arterial thickening,"

And, people who were in the most antagonistic 10 percent had about a 40-percent higher risk for thicker arteries.

Agreeable people tend to be trusting, straightforward and show concern for others, while people who score high on antagonism tend to be distrustful, cynical, and quick to express anger.

My comments.:

Note that while the article said that the people with the nastiness problem who got more heart attacks and strokes or set themselves up for them, were willing to work very hard to achieve their own interests and were competitive, that the researcher’s other information shows it was people who went about doing so in a mean and nasty and hostile way that caused the problem.

The people who went about it in a friendly way and might even work on win, win methods to get what they want, may have been just as determined to get what they wanted and willing to make just as strong an effort.

But they went about it differently.

Similarly, in competition, there are people who try to win by becoming more skilled and making a stronger focused effort but want to win when their opponent is also doing the same. And, there are people who would much rather sabotage their opponent or even hurt them to win. It’s the second group who have the cardiovascular problems.

Actually, this is a different way of describing something Dr Redford Williams discovered quite a while ago.

He noticed that there were people who were type A in terms of always being in a hurry or trying very strongly to beat deadlines or get a lot done to achieve things who got the same or less heart attacks as people who were less driven.

There were other type A people who did got a LOT more heart attacks.

He realized that there was something else that made the difference. When he looked more carefully, he found that it was hostility that caused the heart disease.

People who were driven or even often in a rush but were nice people and rarely felt hostile, were fine. But, people who were driven or even often in a rush and also got very easily irritated or angered and hostile, were dramatically more likely to get heart disease.

And, he confirmed this by showing that direct measures of hostility were far more predictive of heart disease than being type A.

The book he then wrote is called, The Trusting Heart, and is still in print and available on Amazon in both new and used copies.

I’ve learned since that hostile people tend to have three key thinking deficiencies.

1. They very, very often attribute mean and hostile motives to people who have none.

Such reality based thoughts as, “She may in a hurry too and maybe for reasons as good or better than mine.” “He may be having a bad day.” “Maybe he didn’t see me coming in time.” never show up. Instead, the person is thought of as being hostile to them and doing it on purpose. Indeed hostile people can be like that most of the time. Worse, they can be presented with evidence the other person was motivated differently and meant them no harm and do NOT change their hostile attitude and belief the other person meant them harm as if that evidence never showed up.

2. Their response if they are actually given a hard time or treated badly or they decide they have when it wasn’t true, instead of a sane and problem solving attitude, their entire attention is turned to punishing the other person, taking revenge, or “making them pay for what they did.”

This can cause even worse problems than a heart attack years later -- from being in an injury accident to going to jail for murder to instant death if they put someone with a gun in fear of their lives.

People who try to avoid that kind of hostile conflict and look carefully at how to escape the situation or achieve their goals anyway, if necessary with nicer people another time, can get out of situations where the other person actually WAS hostile by contrast.

They think in terms of achieving desired effects and avoiding unnecessary problems instead of being hostile as their only response.

3. They use self talk that focuses their mind on how they can’t stand to be treated badly or who they must always punish their enemies no matter what.

That such things are often harmful and other ways of thinking they could use might serve them better and even be possible to them simply never shows up.

So, the antidote is the reverse of that thinking.

If you like people and, given a chance, are happy to give them what they want or need and you even encourage people, you are much more likely to avoid being hostile. Dr David Schwartz literally taught to find and practice thinking of reasons to like the people you know and interact with. One way to do this is to notice and respect people for their strengths and what they do well. That way, even when they act up, you realize they have some redeeming features too.

If you practice thinking of realistic other motives for the actions people take besides deliberate hostility or even realize you have felt the same when the situation was reversed, you are far less likely to imagine hostile intent when none was ever meant.

Since hostile conflict acted out often harms both parties, you always look for achievable alternatives even when people are being deliberately hostile.

By not being hostile yourself or becoming hostile when it can be avoided, you are far safer and much more likely to achieve your goals. So, do yourself a favor and learn that skill.

Not only will you be safer and more likely to achieve your goals, the research now has now shown twice that you are far less likely to get heart disease besides!

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Monday, August 23, 2010

My personal, monthly, progress report on my fatloss....

Today's Post: Monday, 8-23-2010

As many of you know, at the end of last year, I decided to do the things I thought would likely lose the 15 pounds that I’d gained back of the 30 I initially lost. I also hoped to lose about 4 inches off my waist but was less certain of that result.

As of my June report, 6 months through the year, I’d lost all 15 pounds but only 1.5 inches off my waist. And, it was clear, that while the rest of me DID look less fat and my muscles were less hidden by it, I really still had closer to SIX inches I needed to lose off my waist if I lost all the fat on it and in it.

Then, the month after that in July, I lost no more on the scale as I expected; but I did lose half in inch off my waist – a very pleasant surprise. So I’ve now lost at least the first two inches off my waist of the 8 inches I really needed to lose.

So, how did I do since last month?

This month was interesting also.

Even though I had some setbacks last month, I was surprised again!

I’d not expected to lose any on the scale since I did not the previous month and not only ate about the same this month, I went to party for a volunteer organization my wife belongs to. (Although I did take my own advice and eat 95% from the vegetable tray, strawberries, and some cheese – produce and protein – and left the dessert tray mostly alone, I did have two unplanned and extra glasses of white wine.)

The surprise was I lost a pound on the scale since last month! So, I’m now a pound under my goal weight.

So, how did I do losing more off my waist?

Since I clearly have 4 to 6 inches to lose there; it has a bit of fat you can pinch; and makes me look fat, I would have loved to lose at least an inch. Even half an inch to go with the pound I lost would have been nice.

I might have lost a bit. I got two readings. The one where my muscle was just a bit tense showed I lost one fourth of an inch. But the one where I was slightly more relaxed – the more conservative measure – showed I’d lost no inches & it was the same 38 inches as last month. I decided to go with the more conservative measure which was the same as last month. (That seems like the right thing to do given how it looks.)

What did I add and do extra last month?

Besides maintaining my new eating pattern that lost the now 16 pounds this year, I added or maintained my added exercise.

I continued to do my two kettlebell sessions and jump rope Monday and Weds evening after work.

And, I added some extra leg exercises to my Sunday leg strength training session that added about 100 calories each time.

(My real hope is to eventually add about five more pounds of muscle or more in my legs and hips also.)

And, although since I conceived it, I’ve had things come up to prevent it, I plan to do this a second time each week on Tuesday evening which will increase my added calories burned to 200 a week and is more likely to add the pounds of muscle as I keep doing it twice than just doing it once a week would have done.

On Tuesday and Thursday, my other leg exercise days each week, I added 15 quick squats with no added weight DURING my workday, the five times each of those two days. Similarly, five times each workday on Monday, Weds, & Friday I know do one brief set of tummy vacuums and a very brief grip exercise once with each hand.

None of those sessions lasts long enough to break a sweat; but it is much less sedentary than sitting down during those times as I was doing.

Key point: I once thought of something similar to this plan and found I never did it. THIS time, I took a small pad of paper and marked down each time I do one of these brief sessions. That worked & has kept me doing one or the other of these every workday since!

The first two or three weeks of the last month, my Kettlebell exercise was going well. I didn’t feel I was working that hard and was being careful not to try to do more too fast. However, the two sessions each week on Monday and Wednesday after work were burning a total of at least 100 calories each week. And, best of all, every time I did a Kettlebell session, my muscles felt really solidly exercised. So I knew I was building muscle also.

Then somehow I strained a muscle in my left arm that has since kept me from doing my normal three-times-a week strength training exercises for that arm – worse, it has made it so I can only do the kettlebell exercises with my right hand.

Since I was planning to buy a 5 pound heavier dumbbell for my regular strength training and go from one set to two with the kettlebells, to suddenly have to do less instead has been very irritating and disappointing.

But, I had a slightly different injury to my right bicep and know the rehab required. I didn’t drop my weight I used at first with my left hand and wound up making the injury worse. So now instead of having to use five or ten pounds less for three weeks, I’ll have to use 15 pounds less for two or three weeks to get back to using 10 pounds less. And, it may take me until two months overall from now to get back to what I was doing.

But, I’ll continue everything I can continue and do what I find I can do safely with my left arm until then.

Eventually, I’ll be able to do what I had expected to do and can then build from there as I planned to do – although I may have to hold off a month to be sure I’ve recovered first.

The growth hormone I’ll keep releasing by my increased amount of leg exercise and right arm exercise and the cardio my left arm can handle, will speed the healing.

Also, it has also been shown that doing the exercises with my right hand and with a much lower weight with my left hand each also will help speed the healing of my left arm.

My hope of course is that I can eventually do a good bit more with my upper body with the kettlebells and the slightly heavier dumbbell to add muscle to my upper body. And, the added leg exercise sessions plus the bit of leg exercise while doing the kettlebells will add some more. If that works eventually, I should lose more off my waist as I add that muscle.

Hopefully I’ll be able to report progress on healing my left arm and a bit more inches off my waist next month.

The good news is if I got an injury and an unplanned session of extra calories during the past month -- and I can still lose a pound I’d not expected plus maybe lose a bit off my waist and definitely did NOT gain either weight or waist inches, my basic plan IS working.

So, by persisting until I get it back on track, I have a good shot at getting the results I want.

Hopefully that’s what I’ll be able to report next month.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Eat meat and be healthy anyway....

Today's Post: Friday, 8-20-2010

It seems that many studies show that people who eat a lot of meat have worse health than people who don’t.

In today’s world that’s mostly true. Often they tend to be fatter, get more cancers, and are more likely to get heart attacks.

But, there are other considerations and things that influence why and how much that’s true. So, if you LIKE meat, here’s how to eat meat and be and stay healthy anyway.

Dr Sears has made the point that there was a time when meat was thought to be good for you and even suggests that people who ate meat before about 100 years ago tended to be HEALTHIER than people who did not.

Meat is a superb source of protein. And protein has some strong health supporting effects.

For example, Dr Sears also notes that if you eat enough protein, it tends to cause your body to turn off it’s famine response and allow you to stay trim or to lose excess fat. He says that when you get more than ample protein, your body thinks something like, “Times are good. Even if the calories are a bit low, we don’t need extra fat since that’s so.”

And, the experience of Dr Atkins and other high protein, low carb advocates tends to support this view. So does the research reviewed by Tim Ferris who wrote the “Four Hour Work Week.” That research and his experience also showed that when people have had enough protein, they stay energetic and healthy and mostly feel good even if they aren’t eating much calories. They tend not to feel starved as people do who eat that many calories but very little protein.

In addition, when your body has enough protein, your growth hormone levels are higher and your body repairs itself better and builds new muscle better. And, gradually building more muscle is an effective way to trim off excess fat because the calories you take in food the new muscle instead of the old fat. So, it leaves!

Plus, meat is an excellent, if not the best, source of many nutrients including vitamin B12, bioavailable iron, zinc, and l-Carnitine.

HOW can meat both support your health and harm it?!

The key to eating meat and staying healthy is knowing the answers to that question.

Here are the components of that answer since it has multiple parts.

1. The meat of animals fed grain that has been raised using herbicides, pesticides, and GMO grain contains fats that are:

high in residues of herbicides and pesticides that the animal has bioconcentrated in its fat;

very high in omega 6 oils from the grains they ate – mostly corn and soy;

and very little or no omega 3 oils.

So, people who eat that fat tend to have health problems. The extremely bad ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 has been found in such meat (over 10 to one) tends to produce high chronic inflammation which definitely causes or helps to cause heart disease, heart attacks, and possibly many cancers.

2. The meat of animals penned up and not allowed to roam around has more fat and more saturated fat than the animals who never are penned up. And, a high percentage of that fat is saturated fat. That means that such meat totals a lot more saturated fat. Eating saturated fat does increase your LDL. (And, a recent study of LDL in young people many years later I think definitively proved that having a high level of LDL DOES cause heart disease. Many natural health advocates say that other things are more important which is true. But some of them say high LDL has never been shown to be harmful. This study shows that in that, they are incorrect.)

So, eating a lot of meat from animals penned up all or most of their lives tends to cause heart disease.

Today, the cheap meat and poultry you buy at the store is raised under BOTH these conditions!

So, here are the three solutions.:

A. Get healthy OK protein from sources OTHER than meat. Wild caught fish, eggs, nuts and beans and lentils – even some whole grains. But that one removes meat from what you eat. The DASH II and Mediterranean diets that do just this get excellent health results though.

The other two solutions though, do allow you to eat meat and stay healthy.

B. The meat protein of these animals that are horribly raised from a health standpoint eating grain and penned up is mostly OK. It’s all the problems with their fats that you most need to avoid. So the second solution is to eat the meat, poultry, and dairy products; but ingest as little of their fats as you can manage.

Eat lean cuts of meat, eat skinless poultry; eat these foods but eat them much less often; remove all visible fat before cooking; do things in cooking that allow you to extract the fat that still remains and discard it before eating such as heating it in water then refrigerating it overnight and skimming all the congealed fat off the top of the water &/or discard all or most of the water before cooking further and eating it or cooking it in such a way that the fat that liquefies – the drippings-- falls away from the meat or is blotted off its surface or both. This also means you should mostly eat and drink nonfat and very lowfat dairy foods from animals raised this way.

Both the DASH II and Mediterranean diets that get excellent health results use this second solution also, particularly the DASH II diet. (The Mediterranean diet adds olive oil and extra virgin olive oil instead of the fats from grain fed and penned up animals. You can do the same.)

In fact, that’s an excellent idea. Since the fat you get from animals fed grain, even if you minimize it, has massively too much omega 6 oils in it, the very LAST thing you want to do is to add oils high in omega 6 to your diet or refined grain or even large amounts of whole grains that are also high in omega 6 to your diet if you eat meat from grain fed animals.

So, choose extra virgin olive oil, in part for other reasons eat no foods containing refined grains and eat not very many whole grain foods if you eat meat or protein foods from grain fed and penned up animals.

The Atkins and South Bay diets fit this style by not including refined grain foods.

C. Eat meat from animals fed their natural diet and allowed to roam around and which lived in an area where their natural diet is free from pollutants.

Beef and lamb and buffalo meat from animals fed only grass is so much less problematic both the meat AND the fat to some extent are OK for your health to eat. This is Dr Sears point. The good news is that this kind of meat has become available at Whole Foods Markets and online. (Such meat has almost no omega 6 oils, actually has some omega 3 oils, and has more of l-carnitine and a kind of fat called CLA, and the version of that from such meats may help you lose excess fat and even prevent cancer!)

Eggs and poultry from chickens which have been pasture fed on unpolluted ground and not excessively penned up likely exists. But so little of it is commercially available that you mostly have to go with the fat trimming method with eggs and poultry. (Cage free and “free range” chickens are mostly penned up and despite having an open door to the outside, they rarely use it and are still grain fed.) The good news about eggs is that they have so little fat in their yolks and such high nutrition and high biological quality of the protein, they are a good source of protein anyway.

(For dairy fat, if you want to eat some butter and full fat cheese, I was told that Irish butter and Irish cheddar, which are sometimes available at Whole Foods, are from grass fed cattle. So if you want to add some butter for flavor or eat cheese for taste, calcium or protein, it may be somewhat doable this way.)

For meat from grass fed animals, it costs more to raise so it also costs more to buy. That likely means that you’ll eat it once or twice a week instead of the 5 to 14 times a week many people eat grain fed meat. The good news is that if you eat this meat that infrequently and from grass fed, unpenned animals, you get the health benefits without the problems and can enjoy it guilt free!

So eat meat and enjoy it. But eat it as one of many protein sources on some days in a month instead of once a day or more. And, either eat extremely lean meat from grain fed animals, perhaps with some extra virgin olive oil OR eat only meat from animals fed only grass.

But there is more you can do to eat meat and enjoy it and still be healthy.

We already covered to stop eating foods made of refined grains and oils such as corn and soy and canola that are all high in omega 6.

But you can also remove any excess saturated fat in your body that you get from the meat you eat and make it safer to eat as well!

Eating abundant amounts of nonstarchy vegetables contains fiber that carries saturated fat out of your body. (Such vegetables have very high nutrition , very few calories, and if you eat quite a bit, they also total as having a good bit of soluble fiber and sterols.)

Similarly, eating organic apples, apple sauce with no sugar added, beans and lentils – and some whole grain oatmeal all remove LDL with their high amount of soluble fiber.

Regular and vigorous exercise that you keep doing both lowers LDL and increases HDL that both helps to remove LDL and prevents heart disease.

Without the risks and costs of statin drugs you can also take sterol supplements that lower LDL and taking modest but not super high amounts of niacin are like exercise, they both lower LDL and increase HDL. (Also, if you are not allergic, nuts contain sterols, protein, fiber, many nutrients, and heart OK oils. So they both can give you protein without meat and help make any meat you do eat safer to eat.)

Lastly, when you do eat meat, there are several foods that are direct antidotes to its negative effects. A good cook can make meat taste dramatically better with raw or cooked onions and or minced, raw garlic. These foods boost your HDL and lower triglycerides and act like an antifreeze to keep saturated fat in your blood from sticking to the surface of your blood vessels.

Conversely, adding chemicals to preserve meat such as nitrites and nitrates and the like, has been shown to make meat dramatically more harmful to your health.

So, even though people who eat a lot of meat from grain fed animals and meat preserved with nitrites and nitrates and who virtually never exercise may well die of the effects, if you know how, you CAN eat meat, enjoy it, benefit from it, and avoid those negative health effects.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Effective ways to turn off food cravings....

Today's Post: Thursday, 8-19-2010

Many people trying to lose excess fat or lose weight can find it difficult or even get de-railed by food cravings.

There are several ways to turn them off. If you use them, you can turn off your food cravings too.

Here are the strategies:

1. Turn down or turn off the things that make the food cravings so strong.

(If they are a ten on a ten point scale, it certainly is hard to resist them. But if they are a 2 or 3 or 4, it becomes a LOT more doable.)

2. Find ways to choose what to do when you get cravings that are stronger than the cravings and shut them down even if they are there.

(This one has several pieces of good news. You may find this one more doable than you might think it would be.)

Here are the ways to do these two things:

1. Turn down or off the things that make the food cravings so strong.

A. Always eat breakfast. Too often people who don’t, and research shows this is very much the case for women in particular, get so hungry later in the day that they tend to eat too much or eat fattening things or both.

1) For breakfast, be sure to include some health OK protein.

Eggs are a traditional breakfast food and are easy to fix. Eggs fried at moderate temperature in extra virgin olive oil can be quick to fix. And boiled eggs cooked the week-end before can be extremely quick.

Some cheese or mushrooms added to diced onions with egg or eggs and some extra virgin olive oil can also work. (Diced cheese from grass fed cattle such is Irish Cheddar are best for you. Nonfat cheese doesn’t work well; but a fat reduced cheese can work.) Pre-cooked shrimp added to an egg dish also work well.

Nonfat milk or 1% lowfat milk are also quick. Nonfat or 2% fat plain yogurt works. Yogurt and raw or dry roasted nuts and whole fruit also can work.

In some European countries wild caught herring is a traditional breakfast food.

Some days you could have wild caught salmon as well.

On some days, rolled oat or steel cut, Old Fashioned Oatmeal can work if you don’t choose it every day.

2) You body tends to burn breakfast calories to turn up your metabolism more than at other times of day.

Studies have found that people who always eat breakfast burn eat and burn more calories and weight less and are less fat than people who don’t.

This also means that eating fresh fruit or sometimes drinking real fruit juice or sometimes eating a whole grain food or even eating a treat once or twice a month will be less fattening from their carbs than at other times of the day.

And since fruits such as whole apples, apple sauce with no sugar added, organic blueberries or straw berries or raspberries –either thawed from frozen or fresh are so good for you and can be enjoyable to eat, breakfast is an ideal time to eat them.

3) Eat foods with some kind of fiber at breakfast.

Fresh fruit works well. I like to include it every day and eat different kinds on different days. I find that pre-thawed, frozen, organic wild blueberries work well as do apple sauce with no sugar added and even a banana twice a week. They are FAST. You simply serve and eat them.

On some days 100 % whole grain cereals can work.

Fermented vegetables such as Kimchi work.

Vegetables such as broccoli sprouts or diced onion and organic broccoli florets with eggs scrambled or in an omelet work.

Pre-cooked lentils or beans such as pinto beans work well. They have a lot of fiber.

4) Because these foods work well to turn off your hunger and you usually are eating them at home, you can control your cravings then.

And, since things like refined grain foods, foods with sugar, added sugar, jams and jellies made with high fructose corn syrup, and regular soft drinks all cause rebound hunger later in the morning, never include them in your breakfast.

5. Similarly, never drink diet soft drinks at breakfast. They are like a drug that’s specific purpose is to cause you to strongly crave sugary foods -- and they are quite effective at doing so.

Coffee black or with 1% lowfat milk -- or regular tea or green tea with no milk or sugar added all have caffeine with no such fattening calories and even have added health benefits

After eating these desirable kinds of foods at breakfast and avoiding those landmines, you will find it ten times easier to avoid having donuts or pastries and similar treats at mid-morning. And, you will have much lower levels of craving and more control all day long compared to never eating breakfast.

(Also, if you haven’t been eating breakfast at all and don’t feel hungry yet. Simply jump start the process with a very small breakfast at first. Eat something like one boiled egg, a banana, and a small glass of 1% lowfat milk --and coffee. Or try a boiled egg, some pre-cooked lentils, some apple sauce with no sugar added with cinnamon -- and some Earl grey tea. They idea is to have a small and fast breakfast. Then you’ll eat less during the day and begin to be hungry for breakfast. )

B. Since the following foods and drinks cause food cravings, systematically begin to ban them or cut your intake in half three or four times.

The less of them you buy and ingest, the fewer and milder your food cravings will be.

And, if you have been eating and dinking them often or in large amounts, this one step may remove over half your excess fat and pounds you’d like to lose.

Also, since even though these foods are often cheap, many people who consume them everyday spend hundred of dollars a month on them. And food-wise they are pretty much worthless. So you may be able to save a lot of money by no longer buying them in addition to having fewer food cravings and being less fat.

Since things like refined grain foods, foods with sugar, added sugar, jams and jellies made with high fructose corn syrup, and regular soft drinks all cause rebound hunger later in the day, never include them in what you eat and drink. (Even with your favorite desserts that may have these things, switch to once or twice a week or a month instead of once or twice a day, and your food cravings will be far less the rest of the time.)

Similarly, never drink diet soft drinks. They are like a drug that’s specific purpose is to cause you to strongly crave sugary foods -- and they are quite effective at doing so. Note that since as many as 60% of people in the United States drink diet soft drinks this is NOT widely known.
Why on earth drink something that is going to max out your cravings for sugary foods?

C. Hang out and eat far less often with people who eat and drink fattening things. They think these things are normal and often offer them to you or try to push you into doing it too.

If they are friends or family you want to keep, stay in contact with calls, emails, or Facebook. Meet with them in locations or at times when no food and drink is served.

Studies show that people who eat with people who are fat tend to stay or become fat also. For the same reasons, eating with people who eat and drink in a way that will make them fat eventually, even if they aren’t now, will also make you fat.

These kinds of social situations can increase your food cravings and lower your control.

D. Eat at restaurants far less often and bring food from home or eat at home more often. And, when you do eat at restaurants, eat at better quality, more upscale ones and eat mostly the protein and vegetable dishes. If you aren’t tempted by fattening foods when you do eat in restaurants; and the foods you do eat are mostly health OK foods that taste good, your cravings will be less.

This set of things loads the dice in your favor. Your cravings will be less. You’ll be less habituated to eating and drinking things that make you fat as their main effect. That combination cuts cravings by a good bit.

E. Be VERY careful to avoid overdoing starving yourself to lose weight.

If you eat too little or too little for two long or cut back too much on protein foods, it triggers your famine response.

Your body thinks your life is at risk and drops your energy level like a rock and cranks up your food cravings for MORE food and MORE fattening foods to the max!

So, to avoid uncontrollable food cravings, don’t do the things that trigger your famine response.

For example, if your body would burn 1800 calories a day at your goal weight and you eat 2,000 now, cut back to 1600 or even 1800 calories a day instead of 400 to 800. Fitness expert Jon Benson even discovered that eating 1800 calories every other day and 1400 calories every other day will avoid the famine response, particularly if you eat enough protein. Going with the 1400 calories a day might risk the famine response. Since then I’ve read studies that prove Jon correct.

Also, try to cut your net calories down by exercising more, particularly with strength training and interval cardio for half of what you cut back.

So, instead of cutting back from 2,000 calories a day to 1200, cutting back to 1800 and adding 600 calories a day of exercise might get fast results. But while the starvation diet will only work for two to five weeks. The version where you cut back so much less and exercise more will keep working.

Why set yourself up for super-strength cravings?

Cut back calories by eating better quality foods that don’t trigger cravings but don’t cut back calories enough to trigger the famine response.

Cut back on calories you do cut back in an every other day pattern.

And, use more exercise instead of starvation to improve your net calorie intake.

Then you will lose fat and weight and avoid the famine response that causes the cravings that can be impossible to resist and cancel your progress.

But what about the cravings you already have or those that jump up like striking snake when you are stressed or tempted by something fattening that you actually like?

That’s where the second strategy comes in so handy.

2. Find ways to choose what to do when you get cravings that are stronger than the cravings and shut them down even if they are there.

This is the one where there is some good news indeed.

A. Think about the long term consequences of giving in to the cravings instead of focusing on the craving or being rewarded by giving into it.

It turns out that these two competing styles use different parts of your brain. And, by simply choosing to use the analytical part of your thinking brain more often, that becomes your habit. That part of your brain then gets more blood flow and may even add more brain cells. This change in focus also wipes out or over-rides the craving.

A recent study done at the Yale School of Medicine even found that this simple focus or thinking style switch can work with people addicted to smoking cigarettes. Considering that the addiction to smoking can be stronger than addictions to things like heroin, THAT is a strong effect!

The story that ran on Livescience.com on Tuesday, 8-3, 2010 had this headline:

“Smokers' Brains Can Control Cravings”

Stephanie Pappas, the LiveScience Senior Writer, wrote the story said this.:

“Smokers, take heart: A new study finds that even strong cravings for cigarettes can be curbed. You just have to use the right parts of your brain.”

In fact, the researchers used both smoking and foods cravings in their experiment.

They showed two things in their study, the people who focused on long-term consequences succeeded in resisting the cravings. The people who focused on fighting the cravings or the rewards of giving into them did not.

But of even greater importance, the people who focused on the long term consequences the researchers found to be using the thinking and in control parts of their brains while those who focused on the cravings or the rewards of giving into them lit up the emotional part of their brains instead.

They told smokers who succeeded to think of the long-term negative consequences of giving in.

The Livescience.com story went on to say that the smokers had stronger cravings for cigarettes than food, but they were able to control both cravings by focusing on the long term and negative consequences of giving in.

That’s one of the reasons so many of our posts focus on the many kinds of health harm that things like refined grains and foods made from them, excess sugar, high fructose corn syrup, meat from grain fed animals, omega 6 oils, and hydrogenated omega 6 oils cause.

If I see a food I could eat that I ate before I know any better and liked then, I always ask myself, WHAT is that made out of?

Since the food components on that list above are usually in that food if not the ONLY things in it, I find it easy to pass on eating the food.

So for food cravings, know what ingredients will harm you and why.

And, if you are tempted by a food with those ingredients, ask yourself,

“What is that made out of?”

Then ask yourself, “Do I really want the negative results of ingesting something made out of that stuff?”

B. Stress, childhood trauma, and an extremely busy life can all boost cravings and reduce your ability to fight them off.

But, there are several ways to strengthen your brain to overcome all that and to control cravings as a result.

Here again there is good news.

Monday, this week, 8-16, 2010 AFP had a story titled: “Chinese meditation technique boosts brain function: study.”

This meditation technique was found to help the brains of the people in the study regulate behavior after as little as 11 hours of practice.

Researchers at the University of Oregon and Dalian University of Technology did the research,

This technique was adapted in the 1990’s from traditional Chinese medicine. (Qui Gong and Tai Chi are two of the more well known such kinds of Chinese mental training.) The story also said that this version, integrative body-mind training is now practiced by thousands of people in China.

Using this technique compared to a control group who got simple relaxation training, the people taught this technique, on imaging tests, showed a greater number of connections in the part of the brain which regulates emotion and behavior.

This means that this technique turned on and may even build up the part of your brain that can help you resist food cravings.

This integrative body-mind training uses breathing techniques and mental imagery to achieve a state of restful alertness.

Tai Chi is an ideal way to learn this.

It teaches this thinking style and has been shown to reduce or relieve chronic stress so well that it doing a small daily routine of Tai Chi lowers high blood pressure by 17 points systolic and 11 points diastolic. That’s better than many drugs can do; and using it can lower your blood pressure enough to avoid having to take the drugs.

Unlike Karate and other martial arts that teach this, Tai Chi is so safe due to its slow motion style and doing it by yourself instead of in simulated combat that almost anyone can do it without injury.

Even better, doing Tai Chi burns as many calories during your practice as you would walking for that long. For someone losing weight, that mean Tai Chi does double duty. You feel better and get healthier and your ability to control cravings goes up AND you directly burn calories too! Not bad.

What if you don’t have access to a class on integrative body-mind training or Tai Chi or haven’t time or transport to go to one if you did?

Try this. When you are awake enough not to fall asleep and have just 5 minutes, sit down, close your eyes, take slow deep breaths and focus on mentally “seeing” an unusually still and quiet mountain lake. Focus on making your brain so quiet that it will reflect what is going on around you like the very still lake’s surface might do.

(Karate teaches this and calls it learning how to have a mind like the water. The teach it because when you’ve learned it so well you can do it with your eyes open, in a match or combat situation, your mind will accurately see what your opponent does without any distraction just like the mirror-like surface of a still lake will reflect accurately.)

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Two fast and effective snoring cures....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 8-17-2010

In yesterday’s, San Francisco Chronicle (Monday, 8-16-2010) the lead story on their Datebook section was about these two methods.

Though obesity can cause snoring or make it worse and even help trigger sleep apnea, reversing it has two problems as a snoring cure.

Although it can be done, doing so is neither fast nor easy to do.

Second, you can lose all your excess fat and still have most of your snoring problem in many cases.

Here are two extremely valuable methods that are quite effective at stopping snoring.

1. Quite some time ago, we posted on the Pillar procedure which has two wonderful things going for it.

It’s so noninvasive, you can have it done on Friday and be back at work on Monday. Some people even have it done over their lunch hour and go back to work that afternoon – although they may work by email only that afternoon.

Second, it simply shuts down the major cause of snoring so well, over 80% of all snoring stops once it’s done.

(Most snoring is caused by the uvula, or back of the throat flap vibrating. It’s a bit like an unlatched screen door banging in the wind. The pillar procedure is like having a few tiny door stops added to help hold it open. The tiny inserts actually stiffen it enough that it vibrates less or not at all.)

The Pillar procedure is also FDA approved and has been for quite some time.

2. Most of the people who the Pillar procedure does not cure almost entirely --snore from their nose instead of the back of their throat.

Since this is caused by having their nasal passages too narrow or that swell shut from allergies, it can also cause mouth breathing and bad breath.

(I’ve had this occasionally and temporarily from allergies. I call it “air-brake nose” since that’s exactly what it feels like.)

In snoring, this is usually caused an enlargement of the balloon shaped membranes, called turbinates, that line your nasal passages.

Nasal turbinate reduction using FDA approved coblation therapy is done at the doctor's office using local anesthetic --- usually in less than 20 minutes. And it's over 90% effective in improving nasal airflow.

And, by doing both these two procedures if necessary, something like 95% of all snoring can be stopped successfully.

Not surprisingly, one of the two doctors interviewed by the writer of this story has a practice that offers both these procedures -- and a third noninvasive method to reduce the size of the uvula in people where it is simply too large or loose for the Pillar procedure to work.

Dr Matthew Mingrone is the medical director of the Sereno center recently opened in downtown San Francisco. He practiced in the South Bay of the San Francisco area before that and has considerable experience. The center specializes in effective and noninvasive treatment of snoring and sleep apnea.

Its website is: http://www.serenocenter.com .

The only bad news is that the until now extremely short sighted insurance industry has not covered these procedures.*

But compared to many medical procedures and surgeries it doesn’t cost that much, in the $2500 to $3600 range according to the Chronicle article.

*(Since the noise of bad snoring can ruin marriages and, unfortunately often does, the health harm from that alone justifies it being covered. But it also disrupts the sleep of the snorer sometimes by enough to cause excessive sleepiness which can lead to lower productivity at work and even fatal car accidents. Worse, the sleep apnea associated with it can kill though high blood pressure, heart attacks, and more – and it does. So, I think it likely costs the insurance companies more to treat the consequences than it would to cover these procedures. )

In closing, we do often post on effective ways to lose fat and its added weight.

So, if snoring is an issue for you and you have more than 20 pounds to lose, try some of the methods we suggest in our posts. They do work when used; and we aim for those that are doable and sustainable.

If you have more than 20 pounds to lose and lose even 20% or 30 % of it, you are likely to find your snoring will improve.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Better than taking statins with fast food....

Today's Post: Monday, 8-16-2010

In the last few days, there was a news item in the online health news about some doctors in the UK who seriously suggested that people who eat fast food hamburgers should take statins to counteract the bad fats in them such as saturated fat.

There are so many things wrong with this idea and so many better ways to solve the problem it’s hard to believe.

Here’s just a small list.

1. There are far worse things in fast food than saturated fat, though excessive saturated fat IS bad for your heart.

Some fast food places still fry in hydrogenated oils or oils high in omega 6. Hydrogenated oils directly cause heart disease and are far more effective at doing so than saturated fats.

Their hamburger comes from grain fed cattle, which means its fat is very high in omega 6 oils. The inflammation that causes is damaging to your heart also.

The refined grain in the bun, the starch in the French fries many people add, the pastry many people add, and most commonly the high fructose corn syrup from the soft drink – or the large amount of extra sugary foods eaten later by people who think diet soft drinks don’t fatten – each spikes blood sugar, adds extra calories, increases insulin release AND new research shows directly cause heart disease just like hydrogenated fats.

2. Statin drugs have very undesirable side effects, are expensive, and are also NOT very effective preventers of heart disease or heart attacks. I’ve read that something like 100 people have to take statins to prevent 3 heart attacks and about 3 people who would not have gotten cataracts without taking the statins will get them. And, most people who take statins for a long time begin to feel older and tireder and have less energy. They also can trigger serious muscle damage, serious memory loss, and heart failure.

So their solution is weak and is much like fighting a tidal wave with a spoon that gives you electric shocks.

You need to use a much more effective solution that does far more, more safely than taking statin drugs.

3. The best solution given today’s fast food places is to set up your eat on the go foods and lunches at work at home and simply don’t go to fast food places.

It can cost you less to do that each week-end before the upcoming week than to eat at fast food places. You’ll spare yourself the illness producing and fattening effects of their food.

You can eat things like boiled eggs, raw cauliflower florets, raw broccoli florets, raw walnuts, raw pecans, raw almonds, and dry roasted almonds and a LOT more things that have health benefits instead of causing you damage and excess fat.

4. But, if you want to or must eat at a fast food place, there are far better ways to combat the effects of eating there than statin drugs. And, you can do them right at the fast food place itself.

Here’s just a small sample.

The overall two statements that includes them all are simple.

Eat meat and produce and drink water or orange juice at fast food places – but nothing else on the menu.

Think of the other stuff as slow poisons and do NOT order them; do NOT pay your money for them; & for your health’s sake do NOT ingest them!

Hamburgers are not that good a protein source; but they are dramatically less harmful than the bun and sauces and the extras such as French fries, a pastry, and or a soft drink.

(Many of the “cheeses” in fast food places are made with soy protein or hydrogenated oils instead of real cheese. So I suggest NOT getting those.)

So, if you need to have lunch order the hamburger (or hamburgers if you are that hungry) Akins style on a plate. The best things to add are extra tomato slices and triple onions. The onions literally are a direct antidote to the effects of the saturated fat; & the tomatoes have fiber and some heart benefitting effects. (Onions have been found to act like anti-freeze when eaten with saturated fats; and they increase HDL and lower triglycerides.)

If they offer other vegetables such as lettuce, peppers, etc ask for some of the ones you like on the burger or on the side.

Some fast food places have a salad bar or offer salads. Get no dressing or anything with sauces. But do get any real kinds of produce you like or just eat those things out of the premixed salad and leave the rest.

Some fast food places charge a minimal charge for water while some offer it free. Some even sell bottled water or water that has been carbonated only. Some offer real or decaf coffee which also works if you drink it black.

McDonalds has decently good orange juice – at least it did several years ago when I tried some; & they tend to keep things on the menu that sell. Orange juice does have some sugars; but it also has some flavor while being dramatically safer and better for you than regular or diet soft drinks. AND, the potassium in it will help balance the slightly too much salt likely to be in the hamburgers. So in this case, it’s actually a good choice.

If you need extra flavor, get mustard. Unlike the ketchup, it has no high fructose corn syrup; and unlike the mayo or special sauces, mustard has no bad fats itself.

Lastly, the best fast food place to eat this way is Subway.

They make it really easy to custom make your own sandwiches with a wide variety of veggies to put on it.

Simply order one the size of your appetite Atkins style on a plate and add an ample variety of the veggies you like. It actually makes a decent meal. And they have several kinds of meat including turkey – NOT just beef. In addition to onions which have a directly protective effect against saturated fat, and tomato slices, they have really good, small, sweet peppers, and avocado slices.

Note it is likely the best choice to get two hamburgers or the Foot-long size at Subway if you are really hungry. Why?

Because after adding the onion, tomato and other veggies to your taste, you’ll feel well fed after you eat which makes it MUCH easier to resist the health landmines they also carry such as French fries, other similar fried foods, desserts, and soft drinks and other sweet drinks.

5. Between eating right at your other meals, regular and vigorous exercise, and taking the right supplements you can protect your heart better with much more safely than you can by taking statin drugs.

We post on this subject regularly, such as last Thursday’s post for men.

But we also post regularly on fatloss which requires the almost identical lifestyle upgrades and directly on protecting your heart from time to time.

And, many of the foods that work to prevent cancer or Alzheimer’s disease also protect your heart.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Nondrug solutions to achieve erections, part II....

Today's Post: Friday, 8-13-2010

This topic is in the health news this week. The supplement, Enzyte, is said to cause a potentially dangerous heart rhythm change.

Wikipedia lists its ingredients. I’ll come back to that at the end of this post.

Most of its ingredients are safe. But to be effective, taking larger amounts of many of them and taking them separately will get better results. But some people already do or don’t need to take some of them. One I’m not sure is safe or needed. Another causes problems for some people if they take too much. And one likely should be avoided if you take the more desirable one that it may have bad interactions with.

In men who have no vascular injury or nerve damage, THE number one cause is that their blood vessels are so narrowed and stiff from cardiovascular disease they simply aren’t getting the blood flow they need.

So, for them to have better erections and NOT get worse, they need to reverse all the causes of cardiovascular disease.

By itself that may not completely do the job, but it will increase blood flow and improve things. And, it definitely will keep the problem from getting even worse.

It’s also worth noting that if you have ED and are taking the drugs and having success using them, your life may be at risk if you do not ALSO do the things we posted about yesterday. That’s because the amount of cardiovascular disease and compromised blood flow it takes to cause ED means that having ED is like have a flashing red light in your car. In the words Olympic athlete, Bob Richards once used, “Your blood vessels are filled up with crud!”

Then too, if you want the drugs to KEEP working, it’s essential you do the things in yesterday’s post so the underlying problem stops getting even worse!

We covered a review of the key lifestyle upgrades that stop or improve this cardiovascular problem yesterday. If you do them all they both work dramatically better than taking statin drugs and the have none of the de-energizing and harmful side effects of statin drugs. Taking statin drugs without doing them has been shown to be very, very weak protection. And, if you do them, you won’t need statin drugs and their costs and side effects.

Today we cover the other key ways to improve or reduce ED.:

2. Stress can cause problems – bad ones for some people. But there are some solutions.

3. There are some foods and supplements that improve blood flow.

4. Besides exercise, there are other ways to increase testosterone and positive feelings. For this, there are supplements that help.

5. Some people know how to cause erections to begin on demand. Some people know what exercises help them occur and be stronger. But many people do not. And these two methods work best when combined!

I believe that most of the men who are otherwise physically undamaged by serious vascular injury or nerve damage can do well with erections by using all 5 of these steps together. Some may still need Viagra or similar medicines. But not many, and those people will still have better erections and much better health if they have been using these 5 steps.

2. Stress can cause problems – bad ones for some people. But there are some solutions.

In fact, if acute stress or chronic stress is excessive, you can fail to get an erection when you have no other form of ED.

There are three general cures for this.

a) Solve or escape the problem or threat that is causing the stress. This is not always possible or cannot be done quickly at times. But it usually is effective when you can do it.

b) Increase your ability to overcome stress and your stress resilience.

See the problem and describe the problem accurately. Something bad happened or might happen. But if you inaccurately expect it or get even worse or continue forever when that evidence is not yet in and the probability is that it will never show up, your stress reaction is WAY greater than the real situation calls for.

For example, if in a situation you tried several things and none of them worked. You now know you need more resources or to try thing that DO work and you know that this time, the methods you tried did not do the job. Note well that you do NOT know no methods exist you can make work. You do NOT know you will always fail at doing that thing. People who become more skilled or get more resources or find effective methods likely do succeed at it. If you assume you’ll always fail, you’ve made a grave and inaccurate conclusion. Worse, you won’t bother looking for ways to get more resources or find and try better methods or work to increase your skills.

Simply put, this kind of mentally shooting yourself in the foot, is inaccurate and extremely limited thinking. And, it tends to make stress that could be temporary stick around when it could have been avoided.

These better ways of thinking when bad things happen psychologist Martin Seligman, PhD found to be part of “Optimistic” thinking skills.

People who do them well are under less stress and succeed at everything they do more often that people who do not. Even when the problems or challenges are the same.

Write down the resources you do have or are likely able to be add.

Then work to find a way to use them or expand them and try it and repeat as needed.

The more you focus on resources, solutions, adding resources, and doing things to see if they work, the less stress you will be under even though the situation has not changed. Even better, you become dramatically more likely to end the threat that has caused you stress.

One study found that thinking of threats, disasters, and problems as “challenges” in their own minds makes people more resistant to stress. Of course, it is an indicator that people use the thinking skills I just described.

Conversely it is a cue they are giving themselves to use these thinking skills.

c) Increase your physical ability to withstand stress and to relieve the physical reactions to stress.

The number one way to do this is to exercise regularly.

If you do and become fit, stress tends to increase your heart rate less and your heart rate tends to return to normal after stress faster and better than it will if you don’t exercise.

Similarly, if your heart rate is increased by stress and you exercise, when your heart rate drops after exercise due to you taking a rest your heart rate often drops the excess rate from the stress too.

Meditation can also help. The slow and graceful forms of Tai Chi are an ideal skill to learn to relieve stress. You get both exercise and a meditative state at the same time.

There is also some evidence that taking 1,000 to 2,000 mg a day of the amino acid tyrosine increases stress resilience. (Since taking tyrosine also boosts dopamine release and does so more safely and at lower cost than the components of Enzyte do, it is a very good supplement indeed for people trying to stop or improve ED. Even better, it tends to help keep your thyroid working properly which boosts your energy and helps avoid or reverse obesity. That too helps with ED.)

The other kind of stress that can cause ED is performance worry.

This one can be nasty. With no worry, you’re fine. But if you worry you won’t be. Even if you are healthy and would have been OK, if you worry about performing, that can easily stress you enough to cause ED.

There are a number of cures for this one.

Boosting your testosterone is one which we cover below. If your testosterone level is high, it tends to overcome this kind of stress mentally and increases your confidence generally. It also makes is much easier to induce an erection and feel pleasure.

There are another couple of ways to keep this from happening over and over.

One is to know other ways to turn on your lover and cause orgasm. (It used to be if you didn’t know how and knew no one who could tell you how, it could be problematic to learn. Today you can find dozens of books on Amazon that can tell you in detail.) That way, if you don’t have an erection today or it happens a bit later, your lover will still enjoy you. Paradoxically, if your testosterone is high you’ll often find that after your lover is turned on or has had a first orgasm, your erection will show up by you being turned by doing the things that pleasure your lover.

The other one is to have a lover who really is loving and cares about you or knows how to turn you on and is willing to do so. This also can make it be OK if you don’t get an erection sometimes or can make one happen even if it was a no show at first.

Three last fixes that can help are * Humor. If you and your lover laugh together it tends to banish stress. *Watching a porn DVD that both of you get turned on by or one that your lover is OK with but VERY effective for you can both take your mind off stress and cause an erection too. *ONE alcoholic drink sometimes reduces stress and lowers inhibition enough to do the job. (As you probably know, more than one can put you to sleep or reduce your ability to get an erection is a BAD idea.)

3. There are some foods and supplements that improve blood flow.

Taking the supplement L-arginine a bit before your love making and the night before that day, particularly on an empty stomach causes nitric acid release which relaxes your blood vessels and makes them more responsive which increases blood flow. Even 1500 mg or three 500 mg capsules will help. Dr Al Sears even once wrote that one way to diagnose if a man can get an erection is to take 8 grams of arginine just before bedtime because he found that in many men, they will wake the next morning with an erection from the effect.

Since taking L-arginine just before bed and just before vigorous exercise also increases the release of growth hormone, doing so helps slow aging, build and maintain muscle mass, release testosterone, and helps prevent or reduce obesity.

I’ve read that taking the similar supplements, grape seed extract or pycnogenol also helps your body release nitric oxide.

Drinking either tea, or green tea or unsweetened cocoa on an empty stomach and NOT with milk or any kind of sweetener --has also been found to increase blood flow just afterwards. (These are also good for your heart and can help turn off high blood pressure.)

Eating very dark chocolate also works. And since many men and the majority of women love chocolate and get a mental mood lift from it, if both you and your lover have some together, this can work well. (Doing so at least once a week has also been found to slash your chances of having a fatal heart attack too!)

Gingko biloba is thought to increase blood flow. But taking more that the smallest daily dose level, 60 mg once a day, may tend to cause bleeding and even hemorrhagic strokes. It may wise to take 60 mg to help avoid heart attacks and obstructive strokes. But avoid taking more than that. And look more to the other things listed here to increase your blood flow for good erections.

4. Besides exercise, there are other ways to increase testosterone and positive feelings. For this, there are supplements that help.

Regular vigorous exercise is the number one way to do this. Taking the supplement tribulus causes testosterone release.

I also found out from Doctor Al Sears that taking the supplement DIM and avoiding plastic food containers and pollutants in your food that contain chemicals that mimic estrogen helps keep your body from turning your testosterone into a form that is NOT effective sexually AND tends to make your prostate grow too much. In short, by avoiding these chemicals and taking DIM your effective or “free” testosterone is higher for any given testosterone release. In short, you get ALL the benefit of your testosterone instead of just part of it.

However, besides avoiding these chemicals, there is a better and safer way to do this than taking DIM. The DIM supplement I was able to find in the health food store was a tablet which means I might get less of the active ingredient than in a capsule. Worse, it smelled like mothballs which likely means some of the unsafe solvents used to extract it are still there in small amounts. So, I’m not sure taking DIM is safe. The much better news is that you can get that much DIM by eating a decent sized serving of raw broccoli sprouts or raw broccoli florets once a day for five to seven days a week. This nonstarchy vegetable helps to prevent or help stop obesity. It helps prevent many kinds of cancer. AND, doing this also has been found to cut the incidence of aggressive prostate cancer in HALF. (It’s been found that cooked broccoli does not have these anti-cancer effects.)

Since increasing testosterone might boost existing prostate cancers, it looks to me as if every man who does so, will get better sexual effects and do so much more safely if they eat raw broccoli or broccoli sprouts often!

Since your body makes testosterone from them, taking DHEA supplements and pregnenolone also increase testosterone. But you don’t need much. 25 mg a day of DHEA and 5 mg a day of pregnenolone are enough to get an effect and may be safer than taking more. (Since the calendar says I’m over 65, I take 75 mg of DHEA. But since the pregnenolone supplement available to me is 10 mg, I only take it three times a week, Monday, Weds, & Friday to come close to averaging 5 mg a day.

Supplements that boost dopamine increase pleasure and sex response. They may also help prevent or stop depression recent research suggests.

There are 3 supplement thought to be effective.

Tyrosine is the best I think. It’s effective and has other health benefits and is quite inexpensive. And it’s safe to take.

Both macuna pruriens and muira puama are though to work. But they cost more than tyrosine and have not been as well tested for purity or safety.

(Maca has people who believe it works and it may do some good; but the research done that I read suggests it’s ineffective at dopamine release.)

(I’m far less impressed with “horny goat weed.” This may be the ingredient in Enzyte that causes the heart rhythm problems because virtually all its other ingredients are safe from what I’ve read. I tried it and found it ineffective at doing any libido boost; but it did give me a headache. It also tends to be expensive and come blended with herbs I know nothing about.)

5. Some people know how to cause erections to begin on demand. Some people know what exercises help them occur and be stronger. But many people do not. And these two methods work best when combined!

(This section borders on being X rated. So skip it if that would bother you to read.)

Did you know that men have a sexual pleasure ON button that works nearly as reliably as a light switch?

The majority of gay men know this and virtually all experienced prostitutes do I found out when I read something one of them wrote. She could give her clients erections even when they were not that horny and even when they didn’t believe her technique would work on them!

I discovered it on my own initially. I read that many of the sexual parts on women and men had some basic similarities. And, I knew that most women get turned on when their nipples are stimulated. So, I tried it on myself.

I was quite literally astounded and continue to be at how reliable, powerful and profound the effect truly is.

Even if I’m totally NOT erect or sexually excited physically, I begin to feel very enjoyable pleasure in that part of me. And, if I’m not stressed I begin within 20 to 30 seconds or even less to get an erection. It really is as if I’d pushed a secret on button for light. The effect feels almost that electric. And, that’s NOT all! Far from it. I begin to feel calm and glad I began stimulating my nipples and even glad to be alive! Wow! (Apparently, doing this directly stimulates strong dopamine, endorphin, and oxytocin release to achieve these effects.)

As long as it’s not severe, this even works if I’m stressed if my wife or I keep doing it for a minute or two.

For the next part of this I am indebted to the late psychologist and sex therapist, Bernie Zibergeld and the book he wrote on helping older men successfully stay sexually competent.

All men have a muscle that is under their conscious control even in an untrained state that acts to increase the firmness and pleasurable sensations in their erection – once they have one at all.

Women who exercise this muscle doing what are called “Kegels, which are repetitions of squeezing the muscle tight have orgasms more easily and often, have easier childbirth if they have kids, and are more likely to avoid urinary incontinence and uterine prolapse when they get older.

The muscle lies underneath a man’s balls and is the same one he uses to hold back or stop urine flow. It’s also connected to the similar muscle around the anus.

Zibergeld found that in his clients with weak erections, if they did these Kegels regularly several times each week, their erections got firmer and continued to be firmer as long as they did the exercises.

The problem is that done by themselves, they are easy to neglect because if you have no erection, they can be pretty boring to do. There’s nothing to see for one thing.

No problem at all!

Simply stimulate your nipples at the same exact time as you squeeze this muscle. Just as you flick or caress the end of the nipple, squeeze the muscle. You’ll find no problem doing the exercises often. Through simple classic conditioning, every squeeze of the muscle happens just as you get a burst of pleasure. Even better, instead of being invisible and feeling as if it doesn’t do that much, you’ll see and feel the effects in your erection.

So, there are quite a list of things you can do to achieve erections or stronger ones that do NOT depend on drugs to work. Most of them also protect your health improve your life in other ways.

That makes them even more beneficial to do!

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