Thursday, September 30, 2010

Soft drinks AND diet soft drinks and sports drinks all fatten you....

Today's Post: Thursday, 9-30-2010

1. Many people know that regular soft drinks make you fat. Because of that, health knowledgeable people drink water, green tea, tea coffee, or carbonated water only over ice. (A drink with one fourth apple or grape or orange juice, one fourth cranberry juice and half carbonated water only over ice isn’t too bad and fattens far less than a fruit flavored soft drink. And, tea and coffee provide caffeine without fattening the way cola drinks do.)

First regular soft drinks add calories but do NOT make you less hungry. That fattens and spikes your blood sugar. The blood sugar spike then triggers an insulin surge which also helps fatten you. Then when your blood sugar crashes you get MORE hungry and for sugary foods too! So, regular soft drinks make you fat three ways. Yikes!

2. But of the many people who DO know that regular soft drinks fatten, since
60 % of Americans drink them, most of them think drinking diet soft drinks will solve the problem. Unfortunately this is NOT the case.

Diet soft drinks ALSO make you fat.

The research shows that they fatten about as much as regular soft drinks; and their artificial sweeteners may cause other health problems for some people according to what I’ve read.

What happens at a basic level, that research has found that even happens to mice they tested, is that when you drink a diet soft drink and taste the sweet taste, your body sets itself to deal with the sugar. When you don’t get the sugar, it makes you crave sugary foods – worse, it makes you eat even more because real sugary foods are not as sweet tasting as the artificial sweeteners.

This means that diet soft drinks are drink like appetite stimulators for sugary and fattening foods that themselves have virtually no calories. So, they are VERY effective fatteners for most of the people who drink them.

3. So, to make money from more health oriented people and young people, enterprising beverage companies decided to promote “sports drinks.”

Some sports drinks have vitamins and herbs that actually might have a health value. But you can get those cheaper and at a more controlled dose by taking them as supplements.

Some sports drinks have caffeine. But as we’ve seen, there are health OK drinks that have caffeine. Plus if you get caffeine several ways each day, you can overdose and get anxious or jittery and sleep badly enough you need extra caffeine you wouldn’t have needed at a more reasonable intake initially the next day due to the sleep disruption of the excess caffeine. (I should know. I used to drink that much coffee.)

But the real problem is that most sport drinks have added sugar. This does exactly the same thing in sports drinks that happens from the sugar in soft drinks and fattens people in exactly the same way.

So, drinking sports drinks that have sugar as almost all of them do, fattens people just like soft drinks!!

This week a story came out that teens in Texas thought that sports drinks were OK for your health.

I saw it on HealthDay online health news. Their title was:

“Study Finds Teens Think Sports Drinks Are Healthy.”

And, in fact the teens that drank sports drinks instead of soft drinks did exercise more and eat better than those who drank soft drinks only.

They would have been better off healthwise and be less fat if they drank some water, some tea or coffee, and ate real fruit or drank a fruit smoothie or even a real glass of fruit juice instead.

The researchers further pointed out that while some heavily exercising teen athletes might burn off the extra calories, teens who spent that time playing computer games were particularly likely to add fat if they drank such sports drinks.

The researchers also noted that people who in their work, yard work, or exercise sweat very heavily might need the electrolyte replacement in a drink like Gatorade.

Gatorade may have a balanced electrolyte profile. But it also tastes dreadful and makes heavy use of artificial colors. It also has extra sugar – about 60% as much as a regular soft drink. So, it likely fattens many of the people who drink it also.

If someone who exercises enough or does so on a hot day to need electrolyte replacement takes 400 to 800 mg a day of magnesium, they don’t need more in a sports drink. I personally think they would do better to drink two glasses of water, a glass of tomato juice (which has salt for sodium), and a glass of orange juice which has extra potassium.

(Lastly, when they are done exercising and feel blasted, a drink that is half tomato juice and half dark beer is not that much more fattening than a couple glasses of Gatorade. They’ll recover just fine with the tomato juice and beer combination and will feel recovered faster! And, if both the tomato juice and the beer are chilled, the taste is surprisingly good if you’ve never tried it.)

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Magnesium helps prevent type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 9-28-2010

Friday, 9-24-2010, last week, Reuters Health had a story titled:

“Diabetes risk may fall as magnesium intake climbs.”

People who consumed the most magnesium in foods and from supplements were about half as likely to develop diabetes over the next 20 years as people who took in the least magnesium.

The research was done by Dr. Ka He of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his associates. (SOURCE: Diabetes Care, published online August 31, 2010.)

“People with the highest magnesium intake, who averaged about 200 milligrams of magnesium for every 1,000 calories they consumed, were 47 percent less likely to have developed diabetes during follow up than those with the lowest intakes, who consumed about 100 milligrams of magnesium per 1,000 calories.

He and colleagues also found that as magnesium intake rose, levels of several markers of inflammation decreased, as did resistance to the effects of the key blood-sugar-regulating hormone insulin. Higher blood levels of magnesium also were linked to a lower degree of insulin resistance.

"Increasing magnesium intake may be important for improving insulin sensitivity, reducing systemic inflammation, and decreasing diabetes risk," He…” “said.

But there is more to this story.

Eating foods such as nuts and greens – and whole grains if you eat grains in your food – are relatively high in magnesium. You can also take 200 mg of Magnesium as a supplement per capsule.

So, it looks like eating these foods and taking 200 to 600 mg per day of magnesium lowers insulin resistance and either prevents type 2 diabetes or makes it less severe.

But getting that much magnesium also has been found along with restricting sodium salt to lower high blood pressure by a few points.

And this study showed that higher intakes of magnesium lowered chronic inflammation.

Since type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure and chronic inflammation also causes heart disease or makes it worse or both, that means that getting enough magnesium also helps prevent heart disease.

For type 2 diabetes, it also helps to stop drinking soft drinks, eating sugary foods several times a day instead of a few times a month, and eating foods made with refined grains. It also helps to avoid eating potatoes and foods made from them and white rice. Vigorous exercise also tends to turn off insulin resistance AND has been shown to lower the blood sugar measure, HBA1C if it’s high.

Lastly, another recently published study found that people who had type 2 diabetes and were obese who were taught to do the things just listed well enough to lose 6.2 % of their bodyweight in a year, had dramatically better health outcomes than those who were given drugs.

Now, by adding 400 mg a day of magnesium, preventing or improving type 2 diabetes without drugs will likely even work better.

And, for preventing or improving heart disease, you can also cut down on inflammation by NOT eating oils high in omega 6, such as corn, soy, saffola, and canola; not eating foods made from refined grains; eating just a bit of whole grain foods instead of a lot; and NOT eating much fat from animals fed grains instead of their natural diet. In addition, eating extra virgin olive oil, nuts, avocados does NOT boost inflammation and has other health benefits. Third, you can directly LOWER inflammation by eating wild caught fish high in omega 3 oils and by taking omega 3 supplements made from purified fish oil.

Regular exercise helps with heart disease in other ways such as increasing the beneficial HDL cholesterol; AND it also lowers inflammation and high blood pressure.

Now, by adding 400 mg a day of magnesium, preventing or improving heart disease by lowering inflammation will likely work even better.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

New way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease....

Today's Post: Monday, 9-27-2010

Last week, I saw a story saying that mice bred to develop Alzheimer’s disease did not do so when give the sirtuin protein or enzyme, SIRT1.

Apparently, that was already known; but this new study was able to show that SIRT1 blocked the formation of or sharply reduced the amount of tau protein that is now beginning to be looked at as the initiating cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

Just now, I was not able to find the story I saw; but I did find an article from last Thursday, 9-23-2010 with this:

“SIRT1 Enzyme can Reduce the Formation of Toxic Protein Tau”

On Wednesday (9-22-2010), the researchers from the United States mentioned that a nerve-protecting enzyme could help in developing new treatment method for Alzheimer's disease.

According to researchers, SIRT1 enzyme can help in the prevention of developing a toxic protein that damages the brain cells.
Li Gan of the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease in San Francisco said that people suffering from Alzheimer's disease often have low levels of the protective enzyme.”

“For the study, Li Gan and her team tried to find out the connection between SIRT1 enzyme and p-tau protein that is strongly linked with Alzheimer's disease.

They tested a chemical that restores the levels of SIRT1 enzyme and found that it restricted the formation of toxic p-tau. The study report has been published in the journal Neuron.”

The articles tended to focus on developing drugs to increase SIRT1.

It’s also been found that high levels of SIRT1 slow aging.

But the real news is that there are two ways to increase your levels of SIRT1 now. Both of these methods have other health benefits.

Neither method requires you to wait years or decades for a drug or worry about drug side effects either!

1. One of these methods is easy to do but may be less effective. The other is effective but is quite challenging to do well.

The supplement resveratrol was shown to cause SIRT1 release in a study. Subsequent testing found that in practice taking the supplement resveratrol was more effective at protecting the heart and blood vessels of people taking it than it was in triggering SIRT1 release.

Part of that difference may have been that some of the people taking resveratrol were taking cis-resveratrol while the effective form is trans-resveratrol.

It also may be that taking less than 100 mg is not as effective at SIRT1 release or that it works better taken on an empty stomach.

The bottom line though is that taking 100 mg or more a day of trans-resveratrol is worth taking for its heart protective effects; and it may also boost the sirtuin, SIRT1. So, it may also slow aging and help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

2. The other way to increase SIRT1 is to restrict calories. There are ways to do that and sustain doing it. But, most people who try it trigger their body’s famine response which many generations of people before us had strongly enough to allow them to survive many generations of famine conditions.

There are several ways to restrict net calories without triggering your famine response. The list is long but each part has a way to cause net calorie restriction that is sustainable. Doing each thing on the list reduces calorie intake without triggering excess hunger or your famine response.

Eat a large variety and abundance of nonstarchy vegetables. Eat a moderate amount of protein foods that support your health. Get regular moderate exercise and vigorous exercise almost every day. Eat a low moderate amount of health supporting oils, notably from nuts, avocados, extra virgin olive oil, and fish oil from wild caught fish or purified fish oil supplements. Eat a low moderate amount of fresh fruit. Drink water, tea, coffee black mostly.

(You may be able to drink a low moderate amount of red wine if you get plenty of exercise.)

Eat or drink virtually nothing else on 90 % of the days in a month. And consume very little sugar even then.

(Virtually eliminate packaged snacks, fast food, packaged desserts, refined grain foods, omega 6 oils, hydrogenated oils, and all kinds of soft drinks.)

It may also help to be somewhat extra strict every other day. You get the extra calorie restriction that way. But research has shown this does NOT trigger the famine response, particularly if you eat enough protein and nonstarchy vegetables.

This lifestyle has already been shown to help people lose excess fat or to avoid gaining it. It’s preventive for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

That way of eating has already been found separately to directly lower the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition, the slowing in the aging process caused by regular moderate exercise and vigorous exercise almost every day, suggests that it too may directly boost
SIRT1. The improvement in lower blood sugar, better blood flow, and periodic boosts to blood flow all help to prevent both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

3. There are many other supplements that help to prevent both Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of senility.

Two that do so well enough they may also boost SIRT1 as part of their effects are taking 2,000 iu a day or more of vitamin D3 and either eating curried food or taking curcumin or turmeric supplements or both each day. (Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric which is what gives curried food its yellow color.)

And, as we posted a few posts ago, taking B complex vitamins and doing other things to lower homocysteine levels apparently is also protective for your brain.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Little known and serious health threat....

Today's Post: Friday, 9-24-2010

Little known and serious health threat we now know is much worse for you than was initially realized and can even kill you. More people have it than was once realized.

But, the good news is that we now know how to prevent it fat better than we once did. Best of all, preventing it is actually not that hard.

1. Here’s the bad news first.

Gum disease is this threat. Mild cases cause your gums to bleed when you brush your teeth—at that point a messy inconvenience.

But that’s deceptive because mild cases usually get worse.

And, bad and very bad cases of gum disease are easy to get if you don’t know how to prevent gum disease and do it.

The upfront problems with bad cases of gum disease are bad enough. They include industrial strength bad breath that mouthwash can’t cover up. They also cause your teeth to fall out if you fail to cure them. And, treating them after they are well developed can cost into the low thousands of dollars. So can paying up for false teeth; and worse, people who have false teeth also tend to have bad breath since germs tend to grow underneath them. And, if all you can afford is just a few hundred to pull the teeth that are about to fall out or you just let that happen, you begin to look horrible and often dramatically older than you would if you still had your teeth.

Unfortunately we found out that was the little problem with gum disease! People who have gum disease are much more likely to get heart disease and have a heart attack than people who don’t. That can kill you.

Earlier this week, I found out there is also evidence that having gum disease makes it more likely you’ll get type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. The news story was titled: “Gum Disease Found To Be Significant Public Health Concern.”

Type 2 diabetes can be expensive and even health harming to treat. Worse, NOT treating it can cause nerve damage and phantom pain or numbness, blindness, foot amputation, and itself makes heart disease and heart attacks—including fatal ones—more likely.

Rheumatoid arthritis can make it so painful to move it ruins your quality of life and can even threaten your mobility. And, it often visibly deforms your joints besides.

Add up all those parts, and preventing gum disease can REALLY pay off saving you money, and helping to prevent and avoid all these: disease, pain, death, disfigurement, losing the ability to live on your own, making you ugly and smell bad, and ruin your quality of life.

2. But here’s the good news.

If you know how to floss your teeth and brush them in the ways that protect your gums, which is not that expensive to do – and you do it once a day every day, you prevent most gum disease.

If you also get your teeth cleaned at a dentist’s office and have him or her or their hygienist tell you if you are somehow missing any areas, you can come close to preventing all gum disease.

Further, if you also take 1,000 mg a day or more of vitamin C and 50 mg or more a day of the ubiquinol form of CoQ10 in addition to these first two things, it’s close to impossible to get gum disease.

And, if you have or ever get gum disease, you can cure it faster, cheaper, and more certainly if you do these three things.

3. But the most important of those 3 steps, brushing and flossing your teeth in the way that protects your gums and helps you keep your teeth, ONLY works if you know how to do them and do them correctly each time.

So, here are the steps.

First rinse your mouth with water. Then use a toothpick or Stimudent very carefully to remove stuff caught between your teeth if any is left over; and rinse your mouth again.

Second, floss both your upper and lower teeth. And at each place once you get the floss by the sticking point if any, floss twice once all the way to the gum and scraping the side of each tooth and then a second time on the side of the tooth on the other side of the gap between your teeth. (Just getting the floss by the sticking point will remove some food particles that didn’t rinse out; but the double action to clean tooth surface right down the gumline takes off an only partly visible film of germy gunk that will otherwise build up and cause gum disease.) I just learned this part myself.

Third, brush your teeth in four steps:
a) Put the toothpaste on and brush the biting surfaces or tops of the teeth on the top and bottom. If you use a fluoride toothpaste, that puts it right on the places that are most likely to need its protection from tooth decay.

The rest of the brushing is gum protection about 98%!

b) Brush AT the gumline at a 45% angle as if you are trying to push the gum away from your teeth. This does triple duty. It cleans the surface of your teeth at the gumline. It cleans the surface of your teeth just underneath that place on your gums. And, it increases the blood circulation in your gums and gives them some healthy stimulation and exercise. (Brushing at the gumline but NOT at that 45 degree angle to push the gum away is only about 5% as effective. I personally just learned that myself. And, if you’ve not been doing it yet, you can feel the difference!)

c) Do that 45 degree at the gumline brush a second time on top and on the bottom and do a bit extra anywhere your dentist or hygienist says you have been missing.

d) Brush above your gumline on both top and bottom & then rinse thoroughly with water. That too helps clean out just under the gumline and exercises and increases the blood circulation to your gums. And, it takes the process from about 95% effective to close to 100% effective. (That step I actually invented myself. And, my gums tested as healthier as soon as I began always doing this last step.)

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New information to prevent flu and other diseases....

Today's Post: Wednesday, 9-22-2010

Some preventive health experts who prefer natural methods and can often show they are superior – as I do – also argue against getting virtually all vaccines.

For most vaccines, this is dangerously wrong in my book.

It may be that new vaccines for which there is not yet adequate data or which vaccinate against things that are inconvenient rather than deadly, they may have a point.

And, it may be wise to get vaccines without aluminum based boosters or adjuvants if you can get the kind that has more of the vaccine main ingredient instead of stretching the supply of that with the cheaper adjuvant.

But for vaccines where the side effect rate per 100,000 is like 50 and the death or disability rate prevented is about 450, I think they are simply nuts.

To quote Arnold Schwarzenegger’s film line from Pumping Iron,
they “are giving the wrong advices.”

Not only that, but things like flu and bacterial pneumonia for which we have effective vaccines, prevent direct and indirect bacterial infections, often serious and life threatening ones.

So, it has long been a very good idea to get a flu shot every fall -- and a pneumonia vaccine every 7 to 10 years, starting THIS fall or right away if you’ve never had one.

News item #1:

Similarly, just this year, with many cases popping up just this year, it has been a good idea to get the DtaP vaccine right away or get it every 7 to 10 years. This year, this may prevent you from getting the P in the name, pertussis, or whooping cough, because you may well be exposed to it. This may not kill many adults; but it does kill children; and in adults, the coughs can be so violent they break ribs or create abdominal hernias.

It also can keep you coughing too much to work or even have the energy to work if you can work from home.

This can be extremely expensive and inconvenient besides being nasty to live through.

Why go there? Get the vaccine! Or have it updated if it has been more than 9 or 10 years ago since you got it last.

News item #2

Remember that things like flu and bacterial pneumonia for which we have effective vaccines, prevent direct and indirect bacterial infections, often serious and life threatening ones?

That has made those vaccines extremely important before.

But there is now a gene spreading world wide that is beginning to shut down the effectiveness of almost all our antibiotics. So far, though deadly, it only has reached diarrhea bacteria. But I see no reason that it won’t make it to other kinds of bacteria soon.

Because of heavy agricultural use of antibiotics to make meat cheaper, antibiotics were already beginning to stop working. And that cause, unfortunately, is not yet stopped. It should have been banned world-wide for the last 10 years at least. And, it’s still mostly not banned and heavily used.

Flu and pneumonia vaccines may now or soon prevent deaths from these direct and secondary infections that we have been able until now to cure with antibiotics in most cases. Soon people who get these may often die when they don’t now. Why not be sure you are protected before that happens?

Now or soon, it may save your life, not just spare you from being sick, to get these vaccines.

News item #3

I just saw a study reported that found that close to eliminating sugars from your diet for at least two or three weeks before surgery or getting a vaccine to doing so for two or three weeks after will sharply cut the infection rate from the surgery or during recovery AND for vaccines it will make them much more likely to work!

It seems that ingesting the large daily amounts of sugar and high fructose corn syrup most American routinely eat and drink does more than fatten, it considerably impairs their immune system.

Doing this all the time can prevent or help you remove excess fat. So, that’s what I try to do and my recommendation.

But if even you are young and trim now, it may pay you to do it before and after you get a vaccination at least.

News item #4

From a month before you get vaccinated to two or three weeks after—and all the time, if you can manage it, it will also boost the effectiveness of your immune system to take enough vitamin D3.

The new research found that without D3, your immune system often doesn’t activate its killer cells when it should. Apparently, D3 is necessary to arm or activate them as it should. If D3 is not there in large enough amounts too few of your killer immune cells activate to be as effective as they should be.

The real minimum daily requirement of D3 is between about 2,000 to 3,000 iu a day new research has found – NOT 400 to 600 iu a day which only prevents severe deficiency in people who spend a lot of time outdoors in the sun.

So, you’d be well advised to take that much year round; and this time of year when kids are bringing colds and flu home from school and you may be getting a flu shot, it may make sense to take an extra 5,000 iu of D3 for a total of up to 10,000 iu of D3 each day.

This does double duty. You are less likely to get such colds and flu even before you get vaccinated. And, when you do get vaccinated, it’s far more likely to protect you.

News item #5

People who get their flu shot each fall are less likely to get heart attacks and those who get their flu shot early each fall are twice as likely to miss getting a heart attack.

This effect may be because these are informed, health-oriented and proactive people who do other things that prevent heart attacks. In fact, there is some evidence this is the case at least in part.

But on the chance part of this effect is the lower stress on the hearts and blood vessels in the people who miss the most cases of the flu by getting vaccinated before they get sick, this is an excellent new reason to get the vaccine. And, since gum disease bacteria DO cause heart disease, I suspect that part of this effect is that if you get vaccinated early enough each fall, you probably DO get extra heart protection.

News item #6

Lastly, there is a preventive for colds and flu that works like a vaccine in that it is preventive; but it works very differently.

It was tested to provide substantial protection from colds in children. But since it acts as a barrier to viruses reaching the inside of your nose, I suspect strongly that it works in adults too – AND that it also prevents airborne flu viruses from infecting you as well.

Nasaleze is an organic powdered plant extract that creates a mucus-like gel when it's sniffed into the nose.

For those with allergies, this blocks and give them protection from pollen, ragweed, and pet dander and the allergic reactions they would otherwise get.

Apparently it produces no side effects because the cellulose powder in Nasaleze is inert, so it's never absorbed by the body, which makes it safe for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and even very young children.

Their new product, Nasaleze Travel, is designed to provide extra defense against airborne and viruses.

Not only does its physical barrier prevent some colds and flu due to blocking them from reaching your mucous membranes in your nose, Nasaleze Travel contains wild garlic extract, which has biologically active components that are antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial.

You can find more information about Nasaleze and Nasaleze Travel at .

Since I rarely get colds and always get my flu shot, I suspect I’d not have used this product had I known about it last fall.

You do have to take extra time each day to spray it into your nose.

But if we do get a flu virus pandemic that tends to kill people, I think I may try it!!

Similarly, if I got tons of colds each year or a really bad heart that could cause me to die if I got a bad case of the flu I might use it.

Either way though, it’s nice to know it exists and likely works too.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How to succeed at Weight Watchers....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 9-21-2010

For some people, Weight Watchers is ideal or at least fits what they most need to lose weight and fat.

First the good news.:

Several things about their approach are sound and test as working.

My memory is that when they tested Weight Watchers, about half the people who began were still going after 6 months to a year and had lost enough weight to make a difference. Most systems they tested were no where near as effective.

1. You can upgrade your food to healthy choices only and get regular exercise and not lose much weight if you have no cutback in your total weekly intake of calories. I should know. I did that myself.

Weight Watchers point system gives you some real leverage on beginning to lose fat and weight because you DO cut back your total weekly intake of food.

There are many ways that have succeeded to help people cut their total intake of calories. Weight Watchers point system works and has been developed and tested to be pretty accurate. It’s easier to use than many other ways of doing it. It isn’t perfect; but it does work.

2. Ongoing support that you actually will use doubles your chances of success – both in losing the weight and in keeping it off.

Weight Watchers meetings do that job well for some people. Not everyone can make a weekly meeting. But if you can, Weight Watchers likely has a meeting near enough to you to get to it.

3. This is particularly true if you tend to have emotional eating triggers that cause you to overeat or eat the wrong things in excess.

The better Weight Watchers meeting leaders do a superb job of giving emotional eaters doable ways to think about this problem and are good at tutoring people well enough they can get control of this problem if they keep working at it. And, with the weekly meetings, that IS available.

4. They have health guidelines now and include some emphasis on exercise too. That’s an upgrade. They used to do neither.

However, their point system was accurate in assessing exercise even before that.

Regular exercise is more important to losing fat weight, keeping it off, and improving and protecting your health than they yet teach – even with the upgrade. But, it takes far more exercise to burn net calories than most people have a clue is the case. Weight Watchers point system has had that nailed for many years now.

So, what to do to be even more likely to succeed if you do attend their meetings?

Here are my suggestions.

1. Stress exercise way more than they do. By itself, it only works to lose fat and weight if you do very large amounts of it.

BUT even 10 or 15 minute sessions of vigorous exercise, particularly interval cardio and strength training just about double your chances of success in losing fat and may as much as make your success in keeping off the fat you lose as much as four times greater.

It helps ensure all or most of the weight you lose is fat instead of bone or muscle.

Even better, by itself it will improve your health as much as the weight loss. In fact, in the early stages when you still have more fat to lose than you’d like, by getting this exercise, your health will gradually get far better than sedentary skinny people have! Why leave a way to double your chances of success on the shelf? Be SURE to include exercise even if you start at a very easy level with super-brief sessions.

The minimum to shoot for is three days of interval cardio and two of strength training and alternating them so you get one day of rest between sessions of the strength training. Even 10 to 15 minute sessions can work.

As long as you can reliably fit it in each week, more is better. So is also doing several sessions of walking each week in addition to the interval cardio and strength training if you can fit it in. (Some people get that done by using transit and making it part of each workday. Others do any TV watching while riding an exercise bike at a walking pace.)

The trick to doing it is to start very easy and progress very gradually. It also helps to do your exercise at home so you need not add travel time each time.
And, doing it in the morning before the varying demands of the day show up is proven to help people keep doing regular exercise.

2. Be even stricter with the health orientation and the low glycemic orientation than they suggest.

a) Sugar, high fructose corn syrup, refined grain foods, and even to some extent 100 % whole grain foods tend to both make you fat directly when you eat them and then cause rebound hunger on top of that. Diet soft drinks and artificial sweeteners tend to act like a very effective appetite booster for sugary foods.

One of the keys to losing fat successfully and keeping it off is stop ingesting things that make you fat or hungrier.

So, stop them all except very occasional treats with real sugar and a low moderate intake of 100% whole grain foods or even less.

That’s stricter than Weight Watchers suggests. It will also improve your fat loss and make your permanent success more likely.

Why leave a tool on the table that makes fat loss easier and more certain?

b) Another way to succeed at fat loss and make it permanent is to be even more strict than they suggest in eliminating foods that are harmful to you.

Every time you decline to eat something with some amount of hydrogenated oils or MSG or oils high in omega 6 or high fructose corn syrup or preservatives or artificial colors or refined grains, you have more real food choices without overdoing your need to restrict calories or limit your Weight Watchers points.

Since these foods are money-makers for the companies that provide them, they are made to taste addictively good on purpose. (The ingredients are cheap!) So NOT eating them gives you much MORE control over your appetites and food cravings.

c) And, Weight Watchers health OK foods are a bit dated.

The health supporting oils and fats include extra virgin olive oil, olive oil, nuts, avocados, wild caught fish and purified fish oil or omega 3 supplements. They probably include some coconut oil and/or some fats from grass fed and pasture fed animals.

Safflower oil, and canola oil are too high in omega 6 oils. Flax oil tends to be consumed in much smaller amounts and used that way may not do too much harm. But these foods mostly belong on your do not eat list. Weight Watchers doesn’t yet show they know that as of my visit to their website just a few minutes ago. They listed them still as health OK foods. The current research proves they are NOT.

The excessive amounts of omega 6 oils most Americans eat tend to make them fat. But, even worse, they have been implicated in causing heart disease and cancer.

3. My third suggestion is somewhat counter-intuitive.

Cut back a bit LESS than they recommend on your total points.

Do be TOTALLY sure to cut back some every single week.

Cut out 100 % or approach 98 % by at least editing out all the bad things we’ve listed and eating MORE natural foods such as health OK fats, protein foods, nonstarchy vegetables, whole fruit, and spices.

As soon as you can possibly do so, begin at least SOME regular exercise – and then gradually keep doing a bit more.

That’s the formula for success. You’ll lose fat without being much hungrier than is bearable.

You’ll stop eating appetite increasers and ingesting things like soft drinks that add calories without lowering your hunger and then boosting it with rebound hunger.

And, the exercise will gradually help you lose fat in addition to the calorie cut back.

But what all too often happens, and where some of their 50% who drop out go, is that the initial point totals they often suggest leave people too hungry.

That is wearing psychologically. It makes you think of the lifestyle upgrades as a temporary evil instead of a permanent lifestyle improvement. (THAT slashes your chances of keeping your lost fat off!)

Even worse, some people trigger their body’s famine response. This STOPS your fat loss cold. You get uncontrollably hungry – and for sugary and fatty foods. Your feeling of well being and energy drop like a rock. Your metabolism slows. And your body uses several biochemical means besides all that to prevent ANY fat loss at all!

So the solution is simple. Decline to go there. Unless you have been eating outrageously too much, cut back by 5 or 10 % --NOT 15 or 20%.

This makes their program more doable for you and more than doubles your chance of taking off fat and increases your odds of keeping it off even more.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

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

Today's Post: Monday, 9-20-2010

Last month, I was surprised to lose a bit on the scale that I hadn’t expected.

This month, despite being unable to do the Kettlebell exercises I’d like with my left hand or doing full weight on the dumbbell exercises AND making no new cutbacks on my food or drink intake, I lost another one & a half pounds.

So despite eating and drinking at a level I expected to put me at my goal weight for the year, I’m now two & a half pounds under that weight.

I also lost a quarter inch off my waist.

That means that the small bit of added exercise during my workdays, the kettlebell workouts I have been able to do mostly right handed, and the extra leg exercise on just one day a week have burned that many extra calories. I just added the two new things besides the kettlebell last month; and have kept doing all the other exercises I was doing. I’ve also been continuing the eating style that lost the initial 15 pounds.

Much to my great surprise, these quite small additions to my exercise efforts have cut two and half pounds off my fat in two months.

The bad news is that I very much wanted to lose all this fat off my waist and keep the size of my chest measurement the same by adding muscle. And, despite doing enough exercise that I DO think I added muscle on my chest, I’ve lost about 2 each inches off my chest, waist, and hips since January. So, despite the rest of me besides my too fat tummy looking leaner, my basic shape is almost the same. (My hope was to lose all 6 inches off my waist only.)

I still hope that when I can build up my Kettlebell routine as I’d like to do, I’ll begin to lose more off my waist and keep my chest measurement the same or increase it.

Something else I have been able to do which may gradually help is my new double push up program that I started this past month.

Since my bicep and inside of my elbow and the connected part of my left arm are where my still healing injury is, I can still do push ups since they work the triceps on the still healthy side of my left arm. I can do as many as I would have done had my left arm still been OK on its other side.

What I was doing on my 3 quick upper body workouts at home was to do fast pushups where I don’t quite touch at the bottom until my last 7 or so when my arms begin to tire. Then I do the last 7 all the way up and down & have been doing as many as I can until I just barely can do the last one.

That kind of working until your muscles can’t do one more repetition is said to cause muscles to grow and get stronger.

But, since I haven’t been able to gradually do more push ups and my chest hasn’t grown as much as I’d like, I decided to try doing a second effort while my muscles were still that tired. So, after a few seconds, maybe 3 to 5, I now do a second set of pushups; but from the knee instead of full pushups. This morning, for example, I did 54 of the full pushups and 10 of the from the knee push ups.

That way, I only burn a tiny bit more calories but I get double the effects on growing my muscles since I push them to the failure point twice each time now instead of just once.

My goal is to be able to do 75 of the fast pushups and 10 more from the knee pushups. And, my hope is that over a few months, this will add at least a half inch to my chest and take away at least three fourths of an inch from my waist from lost fat. The idea is that the new muscle will use the calories that now feed part of my excess waist fat.

I also have added a third thing. Now, of the two weekdays I do upper body exercises, I do the fast push ups plus the extra from the knee push ups still. But on Saturday morning when I do my weekend single upper body session and am less pressed for time, instead of doing the fast partial pushups at first, I do very strict complete, push ups for every one from the start and somewhat more slowly to ensure that each one goes through 100 % of the range of motion. That’s a much more conservative style and may work the “fast twitch” muscle fibers a bit less than the fast ones. Right now, I can only do 35 of those and last Saturday, I also did 9 of the from the knee push ups right after that.

My initial goal on those is to do at least 42 by later this year and 50 by the end of next year plus 10 more each time of the from the knee style right after that.

When I can resume doing the kettlebells and making progress on those for my left hand, in about two more months I hope, because I could feel that those exercises were giving my triceps a solid workout before I injured my arm, I think that will help me reach my push up goals.

The kettlebells also burn calories as every move uses multiple muscles. So when my injured arm stops preventing me from doing so, I’ll gradually be able to do more repetitions and burn even more calories besides.

THAT, I’m looking forward to for both reasons.

(The reason that hurting my left bicep prevents me doing the kettlebell move that exercises my left triceps and shoulder is that before you push the kettlebell up from your shoulder you curl it into position mostly with your biceps. So, once I can again do that move safely without pain or re-injuring my arm, I can go back to making progress on my kettlebell work.)

Then as soon as I’ve been able to resume progress on my kettlebell exercises, I plan to test out the two supplements that have been tested in other people as increasing fat loss from the waist to see if they work for me.

Whether not those 3steps work, I’ve decided to work then on cutting a bit more calories from my food intake and boosting my leg exercise to see if that will take a bit more off my waist.

Every muscle building exercise I can add without overdoing how much time I use and every calorie I can stop ingesting that does not remove nutrition or make me hungrier will get me closer to my goal of losing all the excess fat off my waist.

No one of the now 14 small things I’m doing is that hard to do or keep doing. So, If I can add about 7 more small things that also are doable and sustainable and remove fat, I will reach my goals.

Note that by simply continuing the things that worked and adding just a bit more in the last two months, instead of gaining back fat as too many people do, I’ve lost a bit more instead.

And, those two months saw a lot of things happen, such as my left arm injury, that could easily have derailed me instead. Doing multiple small things I could continue to do and finding new things I still could add, did the job.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Taxing fattening foods has a positive dollar return on investment....

Today's Post: Friday, 9-17-2010

Last Tuesday, 9-14, AFP had this story:

“Obesity costs US 215 billion dollars: study.”

“Obesity costs the US economy at least 215 billion dollars a year in direct and indirect impacts including medical expenses and lost productivity, a new study showed Tuesday.

The report by Brookings Institution researchers found that medical costs for obese adults amounts to 147 billion dollars more than for those with healthy weight, and the costs for children amount of 14.3 billion dollars annually.

"Medical costs appear to have increased dramatically over the last decade and may continue to grow with future increases in rates of overweight and obesity in US adults and children, perhaps substantially," said the researchers writing in the journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy.

In addition to these direct expenditures, obesity's costs come from lost productivity, absenteeism, disability and premature death. The study also found that transportation costs may be higher because of heavier weights for airline passengers, for example.

"Total productivity costs are likely substantial, perhaps as high as 66 billion dollars annually for the US," said researchers Ross Hammond and Ruth Levine of the Brookings economic studies program.

Although the costs of obesity have been analyzed in the past, less attention has been paid to other factors such as transportation and environmental impacts.

"Increases in body weight among Americans mean that more fuel and, potentially, larger vehicles are needed to transport the same number of commuters and travelers each year," the researchers said.

"This produces a direct cost (in the form of greater spending on fuel), as well as potential indirect costs in the form of greater greenhouse gas emissions."”

In addition to these costs, the people who are eating and exercising in a way that will make them more obese later are also costing the economy more in medical care costs because they may develop those diseases to a point where they or their health insurance has to pay out medical care costs.

These include doctor visits and drugs and some hospital stays for things like high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, ED, strokes, heart attacks, angina, and PAD, peripheral artery disease. Then add on the extra cases of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and vascular dementia.

So, I believe the true costs are as much as double or even triple their estimate.

It would be nice if all the people who are badly overweight, obese, or morbidly obese began doing vigorous exercise if only for a few minutes on most days. But that is a hard thing to make happen with government policy. It’s the minimum amount of exercise needed for good health; but only about 5% of the people do that much or more today.

The foods and drinks that produce obesity – and these diseases -- however are more than half of the cause. What foods and drinks do this is becoming quite well known. Most of the people today eat and drink little else.

A study was done which proved that for the average person, making healthy foods less expensive resulted in people buying the same amount of those and buying even more of the fattening stuff!

HOWEVER, the same study showed that making the fattening stuff more expensive – as substantial taxes would do – caused the desired result. People bought less fattening stuff and more health supporting foods and drinks.

In addition, this is an instant effect that you do NOT need to educate people or coach them to do. Doing that too might well enhance the effect. But taxing the bad stuff proved sufficient.

The work with smoking cessation we posted on yesterday showed that money spent on it saved more than it cost and had a positive return on investment. Not only that, this is using methods that mostly do NOT yet inform the people trying to quit about the real health harm of smoking or testing them as they begin to show them the proof that they are already being harmed.

Since there are already taxes on cigarettes and tobacco, increasing those taxes would also get a positive return. But the return would less than directly spending more on helping people quit because the higher taxes would be on less sales. The reduction in health care costs would be the main positive return.

Adequately taxing fattening foods, drinks, and food components would generate a dramatically more positive return! The reduction in health care costs would still be there. But since virtually no such taxes of any significance are collected now, the governments involved would get a very positive return indeed.

Regular and diet soft drinks are about equally fattening because the diet soft drinks act as such a strong stimulant drug to stimulate people to eat more sugary foods, the people who drink them make up for the lack of calories in the diet drinks by eating more fattening foods than they otherwise would.

If every state AND the federal government taxed all soft drink sales by 10 cents an ounce each for a total of 20 cents an ounce, the reduction in soft drink consumption would sharply cut our national obesity rate. And, all the governments involved would have a large source of new revenue that would not act as a drag on the economy.

Increasing sales and income taxes and government fees doesn’t do as well because they reduce the ability of their people to buy things and keep the economy going. Since taxing fattening foods and drinks lowers health care costs by more than the reduction in spending on those foods, it actually improves the economy instead!

All other use of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and refined grains could be comparably taxed with similar results.

These taxes would cut down on obesity and its costs, improve our economy, and bail out cash starved governments.

They would get fast results in cutting obesity and its related costs.

Since I cannot wave a magic wand and have such taxes imposed tomorrow, I’m speaking in favor of them and explaining their advantages.

And, I’m doing my best to help individual people who want to stop being fat and sick and overloaded with avoidable health care costs to stop ingesting these things on their own.

That will help. And it will help the people who do it a lot. But adding the taxes too would have larger scale and faster effects.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Smoking cessation has a positive dollar return on investment....

Today's Post: Thursday, 9-16-2010

Last Tuesday, 9-14, Reuters had almost that same headline for a story about research done at Penn State:

“Smoking cessation treatments cost-effective: U.S. study.”

The researchers said that for every $1 a state would spent on smoking cessation treatments, states will get back $1.26, amounting to a 26 percent return on their investment.

The researchers, compared the costs of drugs & counseling programs to try to help people quit smoking with the dollar costs of premature deaths, lost productivity and the health care costs from the smoking that are all prevented.

The article quotes Paul Billings of the American Lung Association who listed the estimated costs of smoking nationally.

"Smoking results in costs to the United States of more than $300 billion a year," told reporters in a news briefing.

That includes $67.5 billion in lost workplace productivity; $117 billion from the cost of people dying prematurely; and $116 billion in direct medical expenditures.

The article also listed these numbers on a per pack basis.:

“Although the average cost of a pack of cigarettes nationwide is $5.61, the real cost in terms of lost lives and productivity is $18.05 per pack.”

If I read that correctly, it’s even worse than that sounds. When you add the price paid for the pack to the damages caused by the pack, every pack of cigarettes costs our economy $23.66 on the average.

And, even that may badly understate the true costs per pack. I’ve not seen the details of this study. But if it left out the dollar costs of the harm done by the second hand smoke generated even on nearby nonsmokers and small children, the real total may be closer to $30 a pack.

With the exception of the good done by some of the taxes in the purchase price of the pack, almost every other part of the cost is preventable waste dollarwise. And, that’s in addition to the pain and suffering caused.

But, when taxes make the cost to buy a pack go up significantly, the total amount smoked goes down both because some people quit or don’t start and because the remaining smokers cut down somewhat.

To me that means that sharply increased taxes on tobacco, cigarettes, cigars, etc enough to cut consumption by 60 % would both solve a problem with for the taxing governments AND improve our economy.

Suppose every US state added a dollar a pack to its existing taxes plus adding any amount necessary to total $2 a pack for those states where their current tax is less than $1 now -- and the US federal government also added $2 a pack in added taxes. By doing both several good things would happen. The price to buy a pack of cigarettes would jump to about $9 a pack. If that resulted in half as many cigarettes smoked, states and the US government would get the same net tax revenues or likely more. And, their economies would improve due to only half as many packs being sold that waste over $18.05 each.

That would make a net improvement of about $13.31 per pack smoked today in their economies. Instead of a 1,000 packs costing their economy $30,000, each pack would cost about $33.39, so the 500 packs sold instead would total $16,695, which is $13,305 less.

Also, it would help, if the counseling for smoking used let smokers in on the real harm done by smoking.

Even uneducated smokers have heard that some people who smoke get lung cancer. But they rarely know anyone personally who also smokes who that has happened to. And, in even the heaviest and most addicted smokers, only 25% of them will get lung cancer. So, on THAT issue they have a point.

What they do NOT know since they often are not well educated and no one has told them, is that smoking is more far more harmful, dramatically more harmful, than that and that ALL smokers, even very light smokers and very young smokers are harmed for sure by every single exposure they have to tobacco smoke. If they smoke, they have been harmed and are being harmed every single time.

One of the reasons fewer smokers try to quit and fewer of the people who try fail, is the vast majority of them have no clue about the real dangers of smoking.

The rest of the little problem with smoking is that smoking and second hand smoke cause about a third of ALL cancers, lung cancers are just the best known tip of the iceberg. The number of people who keep smoking once they begin who get some kind of cancer may well be closer to 50 or 60 %.

The big problem with smoking is that your health and ability to keep living depend on your lungs and your heart and blood vessels. Every exposure a smoker gets to tobacco smoke, harms both. These effects do NOT miss some smokers or new smokers or light smokers.

Even teen smokers test as having lung capacity of much older people for example. They also have elevated homocysteine which means all of their bodies are aging faster. Recent studies suggest this may mean they are more likely to get some kind of mental decline later too.

And, here’s more from my recent post on nondrug methods to lower high blood pressure.

“Even a few minutes exposure to tobacco smoke increases your blood pressure within minutes of your exposure.

But the long term consequences are much worse. Smoking or second hand smoke work in several ways to build up plaque in your blood vessels. This does the reverse of losing weight or taking supplements that relax your blood vessels. The smaller internal diameter this leaves in your blood vessels and the stiffer blood vessels this produces directly cause your blood pressure to go up and tend to prevent the supplements that might have relaxed your blood vessels from being able to do the job.

Even worse than that, being around tobacco smoke TRIGGERS heart attacks that people otherwise might not have had.

So, not only does tobacco smoke tend to permanently increase your blood pressure, it tends to directly cause one of the things you are trying to lower your high blood pressure to prevent.”

Every exposure to tobacco smoke has these effects. THIS problem does NOT miss some smokers. ALL of them are being harmed.

For the most part, the only smokers today who know this are those who are in the hospital recovering from a heart attack they survived. Often the doctors, who do know this, have told them and explained that if they want to recover and not get a worse heart attack, they MUST quit smoking.

So, for best health care cost reductions, governments need to tax tobacco products much more heavily than they do now and ensure everyone living in their area over the age of 9 or 10 knows what smoking really does to you and how dreadfully certain that harm is.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

People should avoid high fructose corn syrup AND sugar....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 9-14-2010

Some research on fructose and some other research I’ve seen reports of suggest that high fructose corn syrup is at least somewhat worse for you than regular sugar. Further, if high fructose corn syrup only has 5% more fructose than sugar, when people are eating 20 times too much of it, they are still getting 100 % too much fructose or double the safe amount. And this is what we are seeing all too often today.

But even if it is about the same, people would do well to always avoid high fructose corn syrup, even if the high fructose corn syrup is relabeled as “corn sugar.” (According to a recent news article, it soon will be. The manufacturers hope people will think it’s different or won’t know it’s really high fructose corn syrup or it will sound more “natural.”)

High fructose corn syrup is cheaper and easier to add to foods than sugar. And, the people who sell it make more money if it goes into more foods and drinks and people eat and drink more of them. Those things mean it will go into more foods -- which are then sold aggressively. It also has meant in practice that many foods have more total sugar since the maker can afford to add more high fructose corn syrup than they would have put in with sugar.

Secondly, the foods that high fructose corn syrup goes into often would be best left on the shelf by potential buyers for two reasons.

Many of those foods also contain refined grains, oils high in omega 6, hydrogenated oils, MSG and other glutamates, preservatives, and artificial food coloring.

The second reason is that eating sugar in those foods is something most people should leave on the shelf. So, if that food contains sugar instead, the high fructose corn syrup makers are correct, that the amount is the key issue.

Yikes! But what an issue. The safe intake of extra sugar a day is about 2 teaspoons a day for people who get enough exercise. Since something like 90% of the people today don’t get enough exercise, even that much is not great.

Meanwhile, thanks in part to the aggressive marketing of foods with high fructose corn syrup and sugar, particularly soft drinks, the average American each day is ingesting 22 teaspoons, or seven and a third Tablespoons of sugar instead. And, the 50 % of the people who are badly overweight, obese, or morbidly obese are getting MORE than 22 teaspoons a day of high fructose corn syrup or sugar.

This massive disconnect between what is OK for health and what too many people consume by habit today is every year generating billions of dollars of health care costs and even millions of dollars for fuels to haul the extra weight of these people around.

It seems that much extra sugar, in addition to fattening people, it tends to cause type 2 diabetes and usually increases their levels of triglycerides and lowers their HDL levels. But that, we now know, means that the extra sugar is boosting the levels of the dangerous small particle LDL, just like trans fats do! So, it actively causes heart disease!

So, if people stop buying, eating, and drinking high fructose corn syrup and begin only eating small amounts of foods with sugar or occasionally making home made things with sugar instead, it will cut our health care costs, boost our economy, make people feel better, and enjoy much better health.

Since that becomes more likely every time someone avoids buying a product that contains high fructose corn syrup or corn sugar or a pre-made product made with real sugar, for that matter, that’s a GOOD idea.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Regular exercise, even walking, helps prevent mental decline....

Today's Post: Monday, 9-13-2010

Research has already been done showing that regular exercise slows aging, prevents many chronic diseases, and increases longevity. We know that the protective effects keep getting better the more years you have been exercising regularly. We know that exercise grows new brain cells and helps prevent your brain from shrinking.

But some even more interesting news was online earlier today.

Earlier today a section of Reuters news called, “Reuters Life!” published this story:

“Walking helps keep body and brain young.”

“Research shows that walking can actually boost the connectivity within brain circuits, which tends to diminish as….” people get older.

Dr. Arthur F. Kramer, who led the research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said that,

"…we found as a function of aerobic fitness, the networks became more coherent."

Kramer's walking study, was published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. It tracked 70 adults from 60 to 80 years old over the course of a year. A toning, stretching, strengthening group served as a control against which to evaluate the previously sedentary walkers.

"Individuals in the walking group, the aerobics training group, got by far the largest benefits," he said, and not just physically.

Kramer and his group used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to look at brain networks & tested a group of 20-to-30-year olds for comparison.

This quote is fascinating.:

“ "The aerobic group also improved in memory, attention and a variety of other cognitive processes," Kramer said. "As the older people in the walking group became more fit, the coherence among different regions in the networks increased and became similar to those of the 20-yr olds," Kramer explained.

But the results did not happen overnight. Effects in the walking group were observed only after they trained for 12 months. Six-month tests yielded no significant trends. “

In short, aerobic exercise sustained for a year or more not only grew new brain cells, it kept their brain’s functions working physically and the networks in their brains intact well enough to keep the mental performance of the exercisers high.

In fact, since this group had been sedentary before this experiment, the walking in this program may even have restored some lost function to their brains.

The only thing this report fails to show or that the research did not look at is whether it was the walking specifically or the aerobic fitness that produced these results.

As is hinted at in the Reuters story, walking is a repeating activity that requires a set of patterned responses.

Would interval cardio of shorter duration but to a higher level of fitness done as well or better than the walking?

I suspect the interval cardio would work the same or better and that if it did, the results would be measurably good within the first 3 months instead needing 12 months to achieve that.

However, as a public health measure for very large groups of people, I also suspect the number who would try and keep doing regular exercise by walking would be greater than the number of people willing to do some kind of interval cardio.

So in addition to slowing down aging, preventing some forms of damage to the brain physically including preventing brain shrinkage in part by growing new brain cells, regular exercise also maintains the networks of nerve connections that are the basis for effective mental performance too!

In addition, there also was another study, done by British researchers, and recently announced showing that people who did enough regular exercise to maintain their grip strength, the ability to walk fast, the ability to get up from a chair quickly, and the ability to balance decently on one leg, lived longer than people who did not.

This study was reported by Reuters Health last Friday and was titled, “Long life goes hand in hand with a firm grip.”

These many studies show that people who fail to get regular exercise simply don’t realize what NOT exercising does TO them and what regular exercise would do FOR them.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

B vitamins also help prevent mental decline....

Today's Post: Friday, 9-10-2010

This Wednesday, Reuters had a story titled:

“B vitamins found to halve brain shrinkage in old” (people)

It was one of several stories on this study that was in the news this week.

Scientists from Oxford University did a 2-year clinical trial.

They tested larger doses of all 3 of the B vitamins that lower high levels of homocysteine: B6, B12, and folic acid -- on people with “ "mild cognitive impairment" -- a major risk factor for Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.” AND a real nuisance to have.

In fact, about half the people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment then get Alzheimer's disease within five years.

These daily amounts of these 3 B vitamins are one of several ways to lower high levels, above 9.0, of homocysteine in the blood, and high blood levels of homocysteine are linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and other forms of mental decline.

There was a control group who took the same kind of tablets or capsules but which had none of the B vitamins.

Each day, the experimental group got:

15 times the recommended amount of B6, about 20 mg;
300 times the recommended daily intake of B12, about 750 mcg ;
& four times the recommended folate levels, 1600 micrograms.

(By the way, taking up to 75 or even 100 mg a day of B6 is likely to be safe. But depending on the individual, taking between 100 mg to 200 mg a day begins to do your nerves more harm than good. More than 200 mg a day of B6 tends to cause nerve damage. So if you take extra B6, add the extra amount to the B6 in your multi and the B6 in your B complex tablet if you take one to see your total. Mine is 50 of B6, 5 mg of B6 in my multi, and 20 mg in my B complex supplement for a total of 75 mg a day.)

Brain scans were taken at the beginning and end of the 2 year trial to monitor the rate of brain shrinkage.

The results were published in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) One journal.

The results…. “showed that on average the brains of those taking the vitamin treatment shrank at a rate of 0.76 percent a year, while those taking the dummy pill had an average brain shrinkage of 1.08 percent.

People who had the highest levels of homocysteine at the start of the trial benefited the most from the treatment, with their brains shrinking at half the rate of those on the placebo.”

And, the article also had this quote:

“Although the trial was not designed to measure cognitive ability, the researchers found those people who had lowest rates of shrinkage had the highest scores in mental tests.”

You can also take 500 mg a day of NAC, n-acetyl Cysteine and 500 mg a day of a supplement called TMG, tri-methyl glycine, also called betaine, because it occurs naturally in beets. Each of these also lowers high homocysteine.

Some doctors who treat people with mental decline even have their patients take 500 mg of NAC twice a day and 500 mg of TMG three times a day.

They try to get the level of homocysteine down to 8.9 or below.

The other major way to lower homocysteine or not have it go up too high is to completely avoid tobacco smoke.

Other studies in people who already have heart disease in giving these levels of homocysteine are NOT this effective. Either the damage has already been done before the homocysteine was brought down or the bad foods and drinks in their diet – or their smoking – over-ride the effects of taking the B vitamins.

So, it’s wonderful news for those of us taking these supplements as I have been doing that doing so DOES help keep your brain full sized and operating well!

(By the way, the average American over 40 tends to have homocysteine well above 9.0, about 12.0 or more, and smokers tend to have levels above 15.0 – even younger ones.)

Given this study, this is NOT good news for future health care costs or keeping a productive workforce once people get older.

And, it may well mean YOU should be taking these vitamins too!

Doctors until now have been told that testing homocysteine is unnecessary in part because of the studies showing the other measures are enough to track heart disease risks and those showing that lowering it did not help existing heart disease sufferers.

But this new research gives you a reason to show your doctor as to why you should be tested. And that test IS available.

2. Also note if you are new to reading my posts on this subject that getting regular and vigorous exercise has very similar effects on mental function!

Your protective HDL goes up and your potentially harmful triglycerides and LDL, particularly the dangerous small particle kind go down. And, your level of chronic inflammation, too high blood sugar, and too high blood pressure also tend go down.

That set of benefits, plus the direct stimulation of your circulation when you exercise also gives your brain much better circulation than sedentary people get.

There is some evidence that the better control of your blood sugar helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

But best of all, just like the B vitamins, you tend to keep your brain full sized because such exercise DIRECTLY GROWS NEW BRAIN CELLS.

There is research showing that exercise grows new brain cells and reseasrch that shows that the brains of exercisers shrink far less than those of sedentary people.

3. Dr Al Sears’ email today also reminded me that avoiding aluminum based anti-perspirants helps avoid absorbing the aluminum into your blood where it has been implicated of being a cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Lastly, eating curried foods several times a month that contain turmeric, which is the ingredient that makes curries yellow;
taking turmeric or curcumin – the active ingredient – supplements of about 500 to 600 mg a day;
and taking 2,000 iu a day or more of vitamin D3 each have been reported to lower the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease.

Indeed, there is some research suggesting that doing these three things might reverse early Alzheimer’s disease.

I’m glad the research shows this stuff works. I do all of above.

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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Important new information about successful fatloss & weight loss....

Today's Post: Thursday, 9-9-2010

Last Tuesday, earlier this week, Reuters had a story titled:

“.Long-term weight loss may be harmful to health”

The conclusion suggested by this headline is already known to be false.

BUT, the study it refers to IS something new that people who have lost fat and weight successfully should know about –
-- and so should people who are working to do so.

It seems a recently announced study done in South Korea found that successful weight loss apparently released into the blood of the people doing it a class of pollutants linked to:

type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, gum disease & rheumatoid arthritis.

Yikes !!

These pollutants, called persistent organic pollutants, or “POPs,” are stored in your fat, but when fat breaks down during fat loss, the results of this study suggest they wind up in your blood instead.

The researchers found that the people who lost most weight over 10 years had the highest concentrations of persistent organic pollutants in their blood, compared to those who gained or maintained a steady weight.

Yet the conclusion suggested by the headline is totally false!

First of all this actually shows that significant and successful fatloss is even better for your health than we originally thought.


Virtually ALL those diseases and conditions get dramatically BETTER or don’t happen with successful fat loss of more than 10 percent of your initial bodyweight.

The sustained upgrades and in what you eat and drink plus the increased regular exercise necessary to lose the fat --- plus the release of the weight literally making your life more difficult each make these better or less likely to happen to you.

So, if this just reported effect was fighting back, the actual effect of the fatloss had to be even stronger than we thought.

It would be as if I asked as a favor to get change for the laundromat if I could buy two dollars in bills or quarters from you for a ten dollar bill. You would be out the two dollars in bills or quarters; but the net would be that you would be $8 ahead.

1. So, the first important fact about this recent news is that it is NOT a reason to avoid losing significant amounts of fat successfully.

2. However there are some new things you should do based on this research that you might not have looked at doing before.

a) It may pay you to do things that remove these toxins from your blood.


b) It DEFINITELY will benefit you to stop them from getting into you in the first place in every way you can.

a) It may pay you to do things that remove these toxins from your blood.

There are people who know more than I know about detoxifying your body than I do. Worse, most of what I read on the subject ranges from clearly silly to downright dangerous.

That said, there are some things that likely will help that are safe to do. Many of them will also help you lose fat and keep it off!

There are even many foods that help you to lose excess fat that also have been shown to help detoxify you!

Any green and nonstarchy vegetable you eat adds close to zero net calories; adds significantly to the health supporting nutrition you get; and fills you up enough to make eating less of things with more calories almost automatic it becomes so easy. The fiber in these foods tends to bind to pollutants in your stomach and intestines and remove them. Abundant fiber in your diet also helps move your food through the system a bit faster, so you absorb less of any pollutants in the food.

Organic apples, apple sauce with no sugar, and cilantro each tend to be even more effective at this.

Eating beans and lentils and maybe some 100 % whole grain foods occasionally also add a lot of fiber to help clear your blood and cut back your net calories you eat without making you hungry.

Drinking pure or properly filtered water or drinking drinks like tea and green tea made with it can also help. Plus drinking enough water for good health will enable your kidneys to remove some of these pollutants.

Sweating can also help since some of the pollutants will get carried out of your body in it. And the best way to sweat more for people trying to lose excess fat and keep it off is to do vigorous exercise for more than 8 minutes.

b) It DEFINITELY will benefit you to stop them from getting into you in the first place in every way you can.

Eat virtually no packaged, prepared foods, particularly no snacks or desserts and drink NO soft drinks. As you likely already know, that also will be a huge help in losing excess fat and keeping it off. These foods tend to be heavy in pollutants, low or zero in fiber, and virtually all contain preservatives.

Similarly eat virtually no foods made with refined grain and not very many whole grain foods. The grains tend to be grown with heavy use of pesticides and herbicides and genetically modified grains with the herbicides or pesticides incorporated into the grain itself where they cannot be washed off.

When you can afford it and it’s available, always buy organic produce.

Organic produce has fewer pollutants and more nutrition.

To the extent you can do so, store food in glass and ceramic or sometimes metal containers instead of using any kind of plastic.

Never use plastic containers or nonstick pans to cook with!

Eat no soy products other than traditional tofu or fermented soy foods. The other soy food “products” tend to be bad for you directly in several ways where the traditional foods usually are AND they are virtually all made with soy grown with heavy use of pesticides and herbicides and genetically modified grains with the herbicides or pesticides incorporated into the soybeans themselves where they cannot be washed off.

But all that is the little stuff.

To the maximum you can manage, do not use room freshener or anti-smell sprays or pesticides or herbicides around your home.

Even more important, do NOT eat foods or fats that contain bioconcentrated herbicides or pesticides.

This may be the most important and effective item on this list.

Do NOT eat farmed fish. If you ever saw the list of pollutants in it, you’d wonder how it could even be legal to sell.

Worse, you may consider farmed salmon for the omega 3 oils. Since it’s a fatty fish, farmed salmon has MORE pollutants than most farmed fish. Get canned Alaskan salmon or wild caught salmon instead. (So far, all canned Alaskan salmon is wild caught.)

To the maximum extent you can, avoid eating meat, poultry, or dairy products from animals fed grains. Eat plant proteins such as beans and lentils and nuts and animal proteins such as wild caught fish or beef from cattle fed only grass.

And or, when you do eat dairy products or poultry or pork or beef from grain fed animals, eat the least fat and leanest versions you can manage. The pollutants from the grains they are fed are bioconcentrated in their fat.

Similarly, do NOT use oils high in omega 6 or eat foods containing them. These oils, corn, soy, safflower, and canola, are made from plants that are treated with pesticides and herbicides and virtually all are genetically modified too. (Extra virgin olive oil is usually an OK oil to use instead.)

This last set of things has also been shown to lower your inflammation in ways that have been shown to prevent heart disease and make cancers and gum disease less likely. It may even help prevent rheumatoid arthritis.

Here too, since many of these foods are those that people with fat to lose may have eaten before in large amounts, NOT eating ANY of them will also help you lose fat and keep it off.

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Lower high blood pressure without drugs, part 2....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 9-7-2010

Earlier last week, one of my health emails said it had 9 ways to lower high blood pressure naturally.

This is a very important topic for health because many of the nondrug methods to lower high blood pressure also directly provide the health protection that your doctor is hoping to give you with the drugs.

In fact, if you take the drugs and don’t use the nondrug methods, lowering your blood pressure with the drugs alone provides from less to no protection to your health. Some of the drugs even harm your health besides.

Much to my surprise this email listed fewer than 9 ways to do that. In fact, in some ways it could be said to only have three.

Practice an effective stress relief routine.

Take certain supplements that lower high blood pressure.

And, try acupuncture.

The good news is that their first two methods were pretty good.

Last Friday, we posted on 6 ways to lower high blood pressure.

Here are several more:

7. Don’t smoke or be around second hand tobacco smoke.

This one is very important.

Even a few minutes exposure to tobacco smoke increases your blood pressure within minutes of your exposure.

But the long term consequences are much worse. Smoking or second hand smoke work in several ways to build up plaque in your blood vessels. This does the reverse of losing weight or taking supplements that relax your blood vessels. The smaller internal diameter this leaves in your blood vessels and the stiffer blood vessels this produces directly cause your blood pressure to go up and tend to prevent the supplements that might have relaxed your blood vessels from being able to do the job.

Even worse than that, being around tobacco smoke TRIGGERS heart attacks that people otherwise might not have had.

So, not only does tobacco smoke tend to permanently increase your blood pressure, it tends to directly cause one of the things you are trying to lower your high blood pressure to prevent.

8. Type 2 diabetes and the insulin resistance that eventually will cause type 2 diabetes if it’s not reversed, both boost your blood pressure and make it more likely that any high blood pressure you have will cause a heart attack.

So, eat very little sugar; eat or drink no high fructose corn syrup drink or eat no artificial sweeteners as they act as a drug to boost your appetite for sweets, & eat virtually no refined grain foods. Also do strength training at least twice a week and interval cardio at least three days a week. Build up to them gradually but be sure to do them. Those two sets of actions tend to turn off insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes or prevent it.

It also helps that on every day you exercise, your blood pressure averages lower than on days you don’t. So doing some kind of exercise 6 or 7 days a week even if it’s as mild as Tai Chi or walking also helps directly.

You can also get some positive effects by taking 200 to 400 mcg a day of chromium polynicotinate and 200 or more mg a day of alpha lipoic acid.

There are other supplements that can help lower high blood sugar. But these two have other health benefits and are more widely available and better understood. So, at least start with them.

9. Eat wild caught fish high in omega 3 oils (farmed fish comes with an astounding load of pollutants and far less omega 3 oils. Take purified fish oil, omega 3 supplements, and DHA.

In addition, eat far less grains, even whole grains, and no foods made from refined grains. And, use extra virgin olive oil only. Do NOT eat oils such as soy or corn or safflower or canola oil that are high in omega 6 oils. Cut back or cut out eating fatty meats from grain fed animals as it is loaded with omega 6 from the grains.

Doing both sets of things both lowers high blood pressure and lowers inflammation. It also tends to lower your triglyceride levels. That in turn is directly preventative for heart attacks in addition. So these two sets of actions both lower your high blood pressure and one of the risks you are lowering your high blood pressure to prevent!

10. If your HDL is low or your LDL is high, do all the things on this list as every one of them will help improve this.

In addition, do things that increase your HDL besides exercise. Eat berries and if you aren’t allergic, eat nuts. Take lecithin or choline or eat a few egg yolks or whole eggs each week. Eating only extra virgin olive oil also helps keep your HDL high. Consider taking 300 mg of niacin once or twice a day after meals and taking 300 mg once or twice a day of inositol hexaniacinate, “no flush” niacin. If you can limit yourself to moderation, drink one or two glasses of red wine with dinner.

And be sure to do the interval cardio and strength training each week.

Each of those things tends to increase HDL.

In addition, eat more nonstarchy vegetables and apples or no sugar apple sauce and beans and lentils. And, if you must have some whole grains eat non-instant oatmeal. Each of these foods has soluble fiber that helps lower high LDL cholesterol.

Lastly, eat absolutely ZERO foods that contain transfats labeled as higher than 0.0 AND no foods listing hydrogenated oil as an ingredient.

These junk oils cause heart disease, and just like cigarettes and tobacco smoke, they cause plaque build up in your blood vessels. This is also shown by having your HDL go down and your triglycerides and LDL go up.

For other LDL lowering consider taking beta sitosterol or other sterol supplements.

(By the way, this is more protective than eating margarine with sterols AND this whole set of things is both safer and more side effect free than taking statin drugs and provides much better heart attack prevention that taking statin drugs.)

11. Other effective ways to lower high blood pressure.

Two other supplements that lower high blood pressure at least some are hawthorn and celery seed extract. Hawthorn also helps prevent or improve heart failure; and celery seed extract also lowers inflammation, particularly in joints. So, if one of your motivations in lowering your blood pressure is heart attack prevention, these two are good supplements to add.

Eating minced, fresh garlic with food and/or taking the deodorized garlic supplements also lowers high blood pressure. Doing one or both of these things plus taking 1500 mg of vitamin C daily may reduce the plaque in your arteries.

And, because it helps your blood vessels relax and be responsive, it has been found to help lower high blood pressure.

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Friday, September 03, 2010

Lower high blood pressure without drugs....

Today's Post: Friday, 9-3-2010

Earlier this week, one of my health emails said it had 9 ways to lower high blood pressure naturally.

This is a very important topic for health because many of the nondrug methods to lower high blood pressure also directly provide the health protection that your doctor is hoping to give you with the drugs.

In fact, if you take the drugs and don’t use the nondrug methods, lowering your blood pressure with the drugs alone provides from less to no protection to your health. Some of the drugs even harm your health besides.

Much to my surprise, this email listed fewer than 9 ways to do that. In fact, in some ways it could be said to only have three.

Practice an effective stress relief routine.

Take certain supplements that lower high blood pressure.

And, try acupuncture.

The good news is that their first two methods were pretty good.

1. The first one listed Tai Chi. For lowering high blood pressure, tai chi is most effective for most people. You do have to learn to do one or more of the multipart exercises or routines & do a few minutes each day. But you get multiple benefits.

Daily practice in people with high blood pressure lowered their blood pressure by 17 over 11.

That’s better than meditation and the Resperate device for lowering high blood pressure. Even better, it improves your coordination and every minute you do Tai Chi is exercise & burns about as many calories as walking. It also strengthens and adds muscle to your legs and lower back. In fact, that level of blood pressure reduction is better than most of the drugs to lower high blood pressure can give you.

Many people who have been appalled and unwilling to continue high blood pressure drugs due to their often severe impact on your quality of life and the health risks some of them have, have been able to stop taking the drugs once they had been doing Tai Chi for a few weeks.

2. Their supplement list was decent also. But it was incomplete and listed the less effective form of the most effective supplement.

What I’ll do here is to list the effective form of the most effective supplement & then list the other supplements by category.

The most effective supplement by itself is ubiquinol, which is by far the most effective version of CoQ10. 100 to 200 mg a day of CoQ10 was found to lower high blood pressure by about 16 over 10.

But you will get better results with ubiquinol. When you take CoQ10, your body turns some of it into ubiquinol. By taking the ubiquinol form to begin with, your blood level of the effective version, ubiquinol, increases faster, goes to a higher level, and of most importance, your blood level stays high far longer than by taking CoQ10. It also helps that you only need a fourth to an eighth as much in mg of ubiquinol to do the job compared to CoQ10.

Some people will get strong blood pressure lowering from 50 mg of ubiquinol only once a day while others will need more like 100 mg of ubiquinol two or three times a day.

Like Tai Chi, many people who have been appalled and unwilling to continue high blood pressure drugs due to their often severe impact on your quality of life and the health risks some of them have, have been able to stop taking the drugs once they had been taking CoQ10 or ubiquinol for a few weeks.

3. Lose weight. If you have many pounds of excess fat -- and high blood pressure, if you then lose all the excess fat, you have a good chance of losing all the high blood pressure as well.

One man I knew gained 60 pounds and developed high blood pressure. He was, fortunately for him, able to lose the 60 pounds successfully and was delighted to find his blood pressure was no longer high.

This is quite common. There are three reasons for this.

Having all that extra fat weight causes your heart to have to work harder and tighten your blood vessels to ensure your blood circulates properly.

Second, many of the upgrades to what you eat and drink that are necessary to lose excess fat successfully also directly lower high blood pressure.

Third, the exercises besides Tai Chi that are necessary to do to lose excess fat successfully also directly lower high blood pressure.

But here is a major reason to use these nondrug methods instead of drugs as well. Many of the drugs to lower high blood pressure make the people taking them weaker and decrease their energy level while others simply cause you to tend to gain more fat.

This drag on your ability to do one of the most effective things you can do to lower your blood pressure and protect your health to me is an unacceptable side effect.

4. The DASH II diet or a version of the Mediterranean diet with less pasta and very little salt both lower high blood pressure and directly protect your health.

They also help many people lose weight and excess fat. The reason is pretty simple. They contain NO regular or diet soft drinks or packaged snacks or commercially prepared desserts and virtually no foods made of refined grain or which are heavily sugared or salted. They both have very little fatty and grain fed meat. And, they both have a large variety of nonstarchy vegetables.

In addition, they have virtually no oils high in omega 6 while they both favor wild caught fish and the Mediterranean diet uses olive oil instead.

Compared to what many Americans with high blood pressure have been eating or drinking, these ways of eating tend to lower high blood pressure about 12 over 8 if you follow them close to 100 % of the time when you switch to eating that way.

5. The salt restricted DASH II version of the DASH diet even lowers blood pressure in people who do not have high blood pressure.

But in addition to eating a LOT less salt and the junk food that contains hidden salt, you can add MORE of the competing electrolyte minerals that tend to LOWER high blood pressure.

You can get this effect by taking 400 to 800 mg a day of magnesium, taking 297 mg a day of potassium and eating the vegetables and fruit in these two diets that are high in potassium—and by eating foods high in calcium.

a) Be careful NOT to overdo magnesium. If you take it as a supplement, don’t also take daily doses of it as a laxative too. More than 1,000 mg a day can be harmful; and there are other kinds of laxatives that work.

The really great news is that magnesium also has some direct high blood pressure lowering effect as it acts in way similar to a calcium blocker drug in addition to reducing the blood pressure increase effects of the sodium you take in.

b) People who are taking some of the diuretic high blood pressure drugs can run into problems if they also boost their potassium levels plus getting the potassium in foods that protect your health also is better for you than taking potassium as a supplement. So the largest dose of potassium is limited at 99 mg.

So consider taking some as a supplement but get most of your potassium from fruits and vegetables.

The best news is that potassium is the mineral that most directly competes with sodium. And, it’s been found that when you limit sodium to the 1500 mg a day in the DASH II diet and increase potassium, your blood pressure will go down.

c) Calcium, it has recently been found out, is a BAD supplement to take. In supplement form it goes into your blood too fast and apparently winds up calcifying the lining of your blood vessels causing or worsening heart disease.

Getting the same amount of calcium in food, which gives it more of a time release delivery, has none of this side effect. The DASH II diet includes nonfat and very lowfat dairy in part for the protein and B12 you miss by cutting back on fatty, grain fed meat; but it also delivers plenty of calcium.

Some seaweeds and vegetables have calcium as do beans and lentils and canned, wild caught salmon cooked with the bones.

Lastly, it has recently been found that taking calcium supplements for bone protection is less effective than getting calcium in food and taking 2,000 iu a day or more of vitamin D3.

6. Eat and take supplements of foods that release nitric oxide in your blood vessels. This causes the walls of your blood vessels to relax and increases blood flow.

That protects your health, lowers your blood pressure, and can help improve your sex life.

Taking 500 mg to 2500 mg a day of l-arginine has this effect. Since it also increases growth hormone, taking it just before you exercise and just before bed – both on an empty stomach, has extra benefits. You’ll age more slowly and add more muscle from your exercises which helps fat loss.

Eating raw or dry roasted nuts also helps if you aren’t allergic. They are high in arginine. (They also are high in magnesium and have some calcium. Eating them increases your HDL that protects your heart. And, eating nuts instead of fatty grain fed meat or junk food snacks also helps protect your health by helping you cut back on those.)

Taking 100 to 300 mg a day of grape seed extract has been shown to lower high blood pressure by up to 12 over 8. And, I recently found out this is largely due to the nitric oxide release it gives you.

I’m out of time today, so this will be continued in a part 2 next week.

But just this group of methods will enable many people to lower their high blood pressure enough to avoid drugs or safely stop taking them.

(Note that high blood pressure drugs must be stopped gradually for it to be as safe as it should be. For many of them, if you simply stop cold, there is a rebound effect that can cause dangerous blood pressure increases. So, instead of going from 3 doses a day to zero, go to 2 a day for a week and then one a day for a week and then one every other day for a week & THEN go to zero.)

Tuesday Sept 7 next week we’ll have part 2 with supplements that can reduce high blood pressure more when added to these methods.

And, you’ll see there is some overlapping of these methods too. Many of them benefit you in more than one category each time you do them.

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