Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bad information from the Institute of Medicine on Vitamin D....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 11-30-2010

The Institute of Medicine, the health section of the National Academy of Sciences, just released its awaited report on recommended amounts of vitamin D.

They flunked & flunked badly.

Despite ample information that has found vitamin D in levels higher than that to be both more necessary and beneficial than for just bone building, &
that since the earlier guidelines were written people today are dramatically more sedentary and outside in sunny weather dramatically less than they were;
AND people drank more vitamin D fortified milk then,
they saw no reason to do more than a token 200 iu increase.

Despite the co-author of the report, Joann Manson of Harvard Medical School, having what looks like good credentials, she somehow missed the information that people who work or play outside during the summer routinely get over 10,000 iu a day of vitamin D from the sun exposure or that it’s been reported that the human body will use at least 3,000 iu of vitamin D3 if it is available.

Further, the people who gathered her information apparently missed the study that found that 1700 iu of vitamin D3 a day produced a good health result while, 1,000 & under did not.

Even worse, this report also left alone the recommendations for calcium supplementation which recent research found WERE problematic. It seems that other than a few hundred mg in a multivitamin, it may only be safe to get your calcium intake from food. Research recently found that with calcium, the sudden release from supplements tended to calcify the arteries of people taking it.

Since that produces high blood pressure and a dramatically increased risk of heart attack, that seems as under-informed on a supplement that is now overdone as their less than complete information on vitamin D which clearly is needed by most people in amounts double to triple their “new” recommendation.

It gets worse than that, intake of vitamin D3 of at least double or triple their recommendation has been found to REDUCE calcification of the blood vessels by some researchers. It seems they forgot to notice that research. Oops !!

One news article about this study even said that amounts of vitamin D over 10,000 iu a day “are known to cause kidney damage” or kidney stones over 2,000 iu a day. Since to the best of my knowledge this has never been reported before; and I’ve heard no, repeat no, reports -- ever -- of summertime lifeguards who routinely get more than 20,000 iu of vitamin D every day all summer getting kidney damage from it, this is simple scare tactic. At the very least, if such studies exist, the Institute of Medicine these studies should have been given the news organizations as imperative to include. None did so of the several that I saw.

Since the real study of vitamin D supplementation is new, to be conservative, I favor taking 10,000 iu a day or less of vitamin D3 for people without a definite medical condition it would help and who are not being monitored for their actual blood level of vitamin D3.

And, given how much many young people get in the summer with no harm, to me that looks extra conservative.

Suggesting an upper limit of 4,000 iu a day instead just being extra careful, is being either cowardly or simply so badly informed as to be totally incorrect.

For example, the Wikipedia article says that the level that causes problems is 100,000 iu of vitamin D3 on a sustained basis, NOT 10,000.

This study also said that average Americans have adequate blood levels of vitamin D. Even given their low, 20 nanogram cutoff, this is probably incorrect.

Though readers of this blog and in some well educated and health oriented communities might have such levels, the average teen and young adult today drinks soft drinks instead of milk, many don’t even take a basic multivitamin, and they stay inside playing video games instead of going outside -- plus most people also go to school or work inside and get there in a car – NOT by walking or bicycling outside. Further, most of these people eat hamburgers instead of vitamin D rich foods like wild caught salmon.

They might be only 40 to 48% of the population. But their average blood levels of vitamin D levels are virtually certain to be less than 20 nanograms. They appear to have been left out of the data used in this report.

The news article said that the Institute of Medicine, the health section of the National Academy of Sciences, was “prestigious.” If they continue publishing conclusions that ignore easily found facts, THAT won’t last long. And, the fact that the co-author of this piece, Dr. Joann Manson, is with the Harvard Medical School, doesn’t reflect very well on Harvard or its medical school either.

Despite a multitude of findings that many aspects of health are helped by having blood levels of vitamin D of at least 30 to 50 nanograms, all the Institute of Medicine said was that at least 20 nanograms is adequate for bone health. Even that may be wrong. Less than 25% of Americans today yet get enough exercise to maintain bone strength. And, today a new study was released showing that being obese WEAKENS bones while close to 50% of Americans are obese. It seems that fat displaces stronger tissue even INSIDE the bones of fat people and that this weakens the bones MORE than the extra weight strengthens them!

The news organizations at least did include some researchers who know more.

For example, Dr. Cedric Garland of the University of California, San Diego said "This is a stunning disappointment," and added that the risk of colon cancer in particular could be reduced dramatically if people took enough vitamin D.

The jury IS still out on more wide ranging anticancer effects, and even if they exist they are likely less than the FOODS & SPICES listed in the book Anti-Cancer.

But if vitamin D3 levels of at least 2,000 iu a day or more DO prevent some cancers, and prevent many autoimmune diseases, improve bone density, reduce calcification of the arteries, reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, strengthen the immune systems of people, AND make many people far less depressed, and more, to me it this report borders on seriously deficient reporting.

I was NOT impressed with this report and think that no one else should be either or take it at all seriously.

Lastly, this report and its glaring flaws is a very strong argument that no governmental agency should set limits on nutrients.

If, as just happened with calcium, some real problems are revealed, these should be publicized.

But, given that such “official” reports on nutrient levels are biased and leave out relevant and findable information, bureaucratic rulings and restrictions based on them should be avoided completely.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Do cardio AND strength training for triple benefits....

Today's Post: Monday, 11-29-2010

Last Tuesday, 11-23-2010, AP reported study led by Dr. Tim Church of Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

This study, published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, tested the results over nine months of three groups each exercising for 45 minutes on three days a week.

One group did all cardio on a treadmill that became slightly more difficult due to increasing the incline during the session.

One group did all strength training.

And, the third group did progressive strength training AND some cardio.

Each group worked out for about 45 minutes at each session.

(They did have a fourth comparison group that did some stretching instead.)

The study results showed that only the group that combined aerobics and weights both lowered their blood sugar and lost weight, even though all three fitness groups reduced their waist sizes.

Since one of the biggest health risks today is developing or dealing with type 2 diabetes, which is blood sugar that is unhealthily high and tends to stay that way AND high blood sugar tends to also gradually make you fatter, this result is extremely important.

41 % of the people in the group that did both cardio AND strength training either reduced their diabetes drugs or lowered their average blood sugar as measured apparently by the HBA1C test, as compared to 26 % for strength training only, 29 % who did aerobics only and 22 % in the non-exercise group.

We’ve known that cardio exercise is important because it helps protect your heart unless you overdo it and gives you a reserve if you need to use your resulting aerobic fitness in a real life emergency situation.

(In cardio, Dr Al Sears and others have found that interval cardio where you exert extra effort or speed up but rest or slow down as soon as you begin to tire and repeat once you recover and very gradually do more over time, has many benefits. You get in shape faster. You build more cardiac capacity and reserve. And, it’s MUCH safer than pushing yourself for quite a time after you begin to feel overtired. The best news is that interval cardio can been done in less time and with BETTER results than longer, steady pace cardio.)

We’ve known that strength training is important because it helps prevent obesity and declining ability to do things on your own as you get older that require some strength.

So, since both kinds of exercise results are valuable, if you know this and all the extra benefits of exercise too, you may already be doing both cardio and strength training.

(Regular vigorous exercise done several days each week, is a very powerful heart protector. And, it literally prevents your brain and memory ability from shrinking, helps prevent obesity or end it, slows aging, and even improves your sex life.)

But this new study is extremely valuable, because it shows that some of each does MORE for you than doing either cardio OR strength training by itself FOR THE SAME AMOUNT OF TIME EACH WEEK.

This literally means that doing both each week gives you a strong EXTRA benefit.

Doing both protects your health better than doing one or the other in the same amount of time.

No matter whether you do jump rope and dumbbell exercises at home for your cardio and strength training as I do or to both your interval cardio and strength training at a gym as the people in this study did, if you do both kinds every week, it will give you a lot of extra benefit we now know. (Gyms can also show what exercises to do if you are new to it.)

So, if you haven’t already started doing some of each, cardio AND strength training, every week, consider beginning right away.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How to stay healthy on Thanksgiving, 2010....

Today's Post: Wednesday, 11-24-2010

There are two ways to a healthier Thanksgiving Dinner.

Yesterday’s post was about ways to prepare a healthier Thanksgiving Dinner.

This post today is on how to stay healthier eating a Thanksgiving Dinner no matter how it’s fixed.

There’s no perfect way to do either. The focus at Thanksgiving & at Thanksgiving Dinner must be on enjoying the day. Enjoy the food. Enjoy the company. And, enjoy the time off work!

My Brother in Law once said at Thanksgiving Dinner that he did NOT want to hear anything about what he shouldn’t eat for Thanksgiving Dinner just in case I had any ideas of doing so.

I didn’t then; & I won’t this year. I agree with him. I believe as he does that the focus at Thanksgiving & at Thanksgiving Dinner must be on enjoying the day. Enjoy the food. Enjoy the company. And, do nothing to distract from that focus. If anything, help make it happen instead!

That said, here are some ways to stay a bit healthier and leaner and still enjoy the food.

1. Focus on the people. Find out what people have been doing and catch up with what’s been happening with them. Enjoy the people you enjoy; and be mellow, courteous, gracious, and if necessary, a bit forgiving with the rest.

2. Practice the strategic sandwich method. Eat a bit less food and make virtually all of it be the healthiest you know how – and, keep up your exercise routine to the very best of your ability at least two weeks before and particularly for the two weeks AFTER Thanksgiving. If necessary, do some kind of workout in your room if you are away from home or cut the intensity a bit; but do your very best to exercise several days a week the two weeks before & after Thanksgiving (& before Thanksgiving next year.).

This method works. Once when I was getting the amount of exercise each week that I should be before and after Thanksgiving and eating right otherwise, I ate very well at Thanksgiving to the point of being very slightly stuffed. And, I gained ZERO pounds for November and December both.

Today, blogger Vera Tweed came up with a delightful strategy for thinking about this that I just read.

Think of the Holiday Season the way an athlete trains for a competition. Focus on eating right and exercising as if you are in training during the Holiday Season. Every meal that isn’t a holiday dinner or other event eat right and only eat right. And, make sure to exercise during this time.

Her idea that I liked best is to start NOW to do this instead of waiting until January when all you can do is catch up and repair the damage of the holiday season as many people do!

3. Eat strategically. Eat well from the healthiest foods; eat a small portion for one serving only of the less healthy foods that you enjoy; but have them and enjoy them; and do your best to edit out the worst for you foods.

a) The turkey and the vegetables are the best for you. So eat well and generous-sized but not very large portions. (You need to not overdo those so there’s enough to go around and YOU have room for at least some of the other foods.)

Cranberry sauce may have sugar and even some kinds have high fructose corn syrup; but the cranberries are a superfood you likely don’t eat often; and they add a festive air and are a great pair with turkey or gravy and mashed potatoes, flavor-wise.

Many people rarely have green beans or Brussels spouts or yams or sweet potatoes or cooked onions; but they are often served at Thanksgiving. They are all good for you. And, they fill you up so it’s much easier for you to eat smaller portions of less health OK foods than you otherwise would. If they aren’t your favorites, try pairing them with a good tasting food. Eat some green beans and then immediately eat a bit of stuffing with gravy and cranberry sauce for example.

A recent article even found evidence that the alpha carotenes in carrots, squash, yams, sweet potatoes, darker greens, and broccoli may be as effective or more in turning off cancers as raw broccoli or cauliflower do with their cruciferous vegetable phyto-nutrients. Alpha carotene was found to be connected to a 39% lower risk of dying from any cause in fact in the study reported. Even better, when cooked and eaten with fats or oils, the carotenes of all kinds in food become more bioavailable and likely to benefit you.

Believe it or not, that specifically means that the filling in pumpkin pie is good for you! For this nutrient, cooked broccoli works in fact. Yams or sweet potatoes or the filling in a sweet potato pie are also good for you.

If raw vegetables are available in a relish tray, the cruciferous ones and the ones with carotenes are the best for you. Broccoli florets, radishes, carrots, and cherry tomatoes are particularly good.

Have very little dip unless you know what’s in it. Some dips have hydrogenated oils. My wife and I bring the relish tray. This year we are bringing sour cream with nothing added and hummus with the container showing the ingredients for dips. Hummus is good for you but avoid overdoing it to leave room for the dinner. Sour cream is OK in small amounts occasionally; but don’t overdo it. We were bringing guacamole; but no one but me ate any before, so this year, I decided not to. But if your family likes it, do bring some. It’s actually a good for you dip.

b) Stuffing, particularly if it was cooked inside the turkey; gravy; mashed potatoes; the filling in the pies, and many other dishes have great flavor but include less than healthful ingredients. If you are exercising and eating right otherwise and have no serious health problems to be very careful of, the strategy I use is to have some of them; but hold myself to one small serving.
That way I enjoy them but avoid overdosing my system with their less OK ingredients. And, having had turkey and vegetables first I don’t have room left to eat a large amount anyway.

c) Soft drinks, rolls, biscuits, pie crusts, most commercial jam currently, and candied marshmallow topping for sweet potatoes are the worst foods and drinks for you in a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Simply don’t eat many of those to the best of your ability to pass on them. Or, if you do eat some, have tiny, quarter of normal sized portions. And, only eat the ones that you most enjoy.

If you’ve already eaten well from the healthier foods that’s much easier to do.

Here’s personal example of that. I’ve always loved pie, including the pie crusts. But I’ve found out since that many, if not most, of the pies I’m likely to get at Thanksgiving have crust made with refined grain flour and Crisco, which is basically massive amounts of Transfats (aka as trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils). What I do now is take small servings of my favorite pie or pies & only eat the fillings. So I can enjoy cherry or blueberry pie filling, pumpkin pie filling, and/or candied pecan filling; but I leave the crust. The only exception I might make is to have one single bite of a browned bit of crust since it has the most flavor. Last year I didn’t even do that as I no longer had room for it.

4. Limit your alcoholic drinks to one or two or at most three if you drink. And, drink when you first arrive or at the start of the Dinner. That way, if you need to drive afterwards, the effect will have mostly worn off plus it will be buffered by the torrent of dinner.

(Some people are better off not having any. The Martinelli’s sparkling juices in yesterday’s post over ice can be a decent festive substitute. I love the flavors in a Bloody Mary. So I also recommend the Virgin Mary drink as it has almost the same flavor.)

(And, if you do have more than 3 drinks leave later or stay over or have someone else drive. That way you can enjoy Thanksgiving next year too!)

Do the best you can with these strategies. Enjoy the day and the people.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fix a healthier Thanksgiving Dinner, 2010....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 11-23-2010

Here is my 2010 update on the versions I posted in 2008 & 2009.

There are two ways to a healthier Thanksgiving Dinner.

Today we talk about ways to prepare a healthier Thanksgiving Dinner.

Tomorrow, we plan a post on how to stay healthier eating a Thanksgiving Dinner no matter how it’s fixed.

There’s no perfect way to do either. The focus at Thanksgiving & at Thanksgiving Dinner must be on enjoying the day. Enjoy the food. Enjoy the company. And, enjoy the time off work!

My Brother in Law once said at Thanksgiving Dinner that he did NOT want to hear anything about what he shouldn’t eat for Thanksgiving Dinner just in case I had any ideas of doing so.

I didn’t then; & I won’t this year. I agree with him. I believe as he does that the focus at Thanksgiving & at Thanksgiving Dinner must be on enjoying the day. Enjoy the food. Enjoy the company. And, do nothing to distract from that focus. If anything, help make an enjoyable stress free dinner happen instead!

That said, there’s a very large list of ways to make the dishes for the Thanksgiving Dinner either better for you or less bad for you -- for those dishes you make yourself.

If there is a family favorite that you’ve made forever that has not so great ingredients, make it anyway or move it just a bit in a healthier direction to make it a bit less bad for health. Do your best to make a version that people will still really like.

However, to the extent you can reduce or replace any of these with healthier alternatives, it’s a good idea.

1. Sugar.
2. High fructose corn syrup.
3. Refined grain.
4. Salt.
5. Saturated fat.
6. Transfats (aka as trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils).
7. Soft drinks.

1. Sugar.

Make or serve slightly smaller portions of foods with sugar. Even 10 % less will help. (More than 20 % less will likely cause a request for bigger portions or a second helping.)
Make enough for 1 and a half servings each instead of two or three.

Let people serve themselves that food. That way people who prefer to not eat the sugary food get no sugar from it all.

Use 10 to 25 % less sugar in the recipe.

Substitute raisins or sugared dried cranberries (You have to make dried or sweetened cranberries yourself such as using un-dried cranberries cut in half and then simmered in real maple syrup but only use the cranberries. The store bought dried and sweetened cranberries use high fructose corn syrup) or substitute walnuts or pecans for part of the sugar if no one is allergic to the nuts. For some foods, bits of bittersweet dark chocolate might work. If it will work in the recipe OK, use flavored sugars, brown sugar, honey, or 100 % real maple syrup. The flavor will make up for the sugar reduction somewhat. If the recipe works with it, add cinnamon for the same reason. In addition, it helps your body handle the sugar you eat it with.

Or, use 25% less sugar but replace it with the natural but no calorie sweetener, erythritol. (Using more than 25% may not taste as good and will cause your body to crave more sugar.)

(Last year we suggested using Agave nectar or syrup. Since then I tried it and found it not to be a very good substitute for sugar AND it’s basically straight fructose which is actually WORSE for you than sugar. No worries if you like it. But things like maple syrup or brown sugar taste better and actually may be better for you!)

2. High fructose corn syrup. Currently, this means no store bought pies or other desserts. Too many of them still contain this. Do your best to get homemade with real sugar instead even if you have to trade favors with the cook if you don’t cook or haven’t time. Make a strong special effort to not serve or use jam or jelly unless you’ve read the label and it ONLY has real sugar. Over 90 % of store bought jams and jellies still have high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar. Similarly use real maple syrup in recipes that call for it instead of other kinds as over 90 % of those still have high fructose corn syrup while 100 % real maple syrup has only sugar. And, either substitute a bit of brown sugar or real maple syrup with a bit of a mild tasting or bland extra virgin olive oil instead of commercial marshmallows as I’ve read they also tend to have high fructose corn syrup. At least read the label first or cut the amount per serving in half.

(Since I wrote this it came out that about 30 % of all high fructose corn syrup including in name brand foods is contaminated with mercury. Has this been fixed since then? I very seriously doubt it.)

(Pretest such recipes before you cook the one for the Thanksgiving Dinner though, for best results!)

3. Refined grain.

Use organic, sprouted grain breads (such as Food For Life Ezekiel or Genesis Bread) for bread or toast crumbs for the stuffing. They contain sprouted whole grains and are higher in fiber and protein than refined grain breads. Even many diabetics find these breads do NOT spike their blood sugar like refined grain breads do.

If you’ll serve rolls, do your best to find whole wheat rolls and serve one only to people who ask for one.

Experiment with gravy made with lightly toasted whole wheat flour &/or canned black eyed peas that have been run through a blender for refined grain flour in the gravy. It also works to add button mushrooms or diced onion that has been sautéed in extra virgin olive oil.

Use whole wheat flour for pie crusts and make pies with a bottom crust only instead of one on top as well.

Also try to avoid commercially baked pies if you can. With the possible exception of those from Whole Foods Markets, or a custom, to-order bakery, they all contain refined grains.

Even worse, most to almost all commercial pie crusts use shortening or other hydrogenated vegetable oil and trans fats. That stuff is heart attack starter. So do NOT use or eat commercial pie crust except those that only use butter or use slightly healthier oils as the special pie crust shells at Whole Foods do. (Since I discovered that, if I’m served commercial pie, I eat the filling only and leave the crust.)

4. Salt. Try to use no packaged or commercial foods as they virtually all have added salt and two or three times as much as they should or have the salt when it’s not needed. If you can, make it yourself instead &/or use fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned. And, use a bit less in recipes that otherwise would be a bit salty. (Unless you are making a dish just for someone who cannot have ANY salt, leave in at least a quarter teaspoon or so per serving or two as a recipe that normally has salt tastes “off” with none at all. And, or, use sea salt as it has salts of other minerals besides sodium in it. Of course, in many dishes, you can substitute a bit of minced raw garlic or a very small bit of cayenne pepper for some of the salt for a dish that still tastes good. (Pretest this before you cook the one for the Thanksgiving Dinner though, for best results!)

5. Saturated fat.

Cook the stuffing on the stove top instead of inside the turkey. (Inside the turkey stuffing soaks up a lot of saturated fat.)

Serve a small pat of butter or two on top of a dish after it’s cooked and still pretty hot instead of using more in the recipe.

Where you can, substitute extra virgin olive oil. For example you can strain out the fattiest bits out of the turkey drippings and mix that half and half with extra virgin olive oil for the gravy. Or you do 2/3 turkey drippings and 1/3 extra virgin olive oil. If you include lightly toasted whole wheat flour &/or button mushrooms or diced onion that has been sautéed in extra virgin olive oil or a bit of minced, fresh garlic, the extra flavor makes up for less turkey broth.

Also consider adding dried and pitted (& checked for being pitted) dried sour cherries to the gravy and the stuffing. They add a tasty, festive touch AND help your body process the saturated fat

To the extent you can, let the turkey drippings drip out of the turkey before it’s served.

Minimize cheese dishes or make small portions.

Precut butter into small pats instead of serving it by the quarter pound.

Lastly, to the extent you can, include onion and fresh minced, garlic in the foods unless one of the guests will dislike them or be allergic. They help your body process the saturated fat.

If you can reliably get a truly pasture raised turkey to cook, it will have less saturated fat and omega 6 oils even before it’s cooked than a grain fed turkey will.

Use whole wheat flour for pie crusts and make pies with a bottom crust only instead of one on top as well. Also try to avoid commercially baked pies if you can. With the possible exception of those from Whole Foods Markets, or a custom, to-order bakery, they almost all use Crisco which has trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils. Use butter instead. It’s better for you than Crisco. You just make pies with only a bottom crust so there’s a bit less butter in them.

6. Transfats (aka as trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils).

Avoid buying commercially baked cookies or biscuits as most still have this junk. And, either substitute a bit of brown sugar or real maple syrup with a bit of a mild tasting or bland extra virgin olive oil instead of commercial marshmallows as I’ve read they also tend to contain hydrogenated oils. At least read the label first or cut the amount per serving in half.

Use whole wheat flour for pie crusts and make pies with a bottom crust only instead of one on top as well. Also try to avoid commercially baked pies if you can. With the possible exception of those from Whole Foods Markets, or a custom, to-order bakery, they almost all use Crisco which has trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils. Use butter instead. It’s better for you than Crisco.

To repeat, most to almost all commercial pie crusts use shortening or other hydrogenated vegetable oil and trans fats. That stuff is heart attack starter. So do NOT use or eat commercial pie crust except those that only use butter or use slightly healthier oils as the special pie crust shells at Whole Foods do. (Since I discovered that, if I’m served commercial pie, I eat the filling only and leave the crust.)

7. Soft drinks.

Serve Martinelli’s sparkling apple juice, their sparkling cranberry, apple juice blend or a similar combination and 100 % real fruit juice instead.

Club soda and iced tea also work.

In very careful moderation, Champagne or a Sparkling Burgundy or Sparkling Pinot Noir also works.

Do your very best to avoid serving regular or diet soft drinks unless you know your guests will be unhappy. Or if only one or two guests want soft drinks, politely request they bring their own. At least you won’t help enable their bad habit. If this will cause a problem for them in enjoying the dinner, don’t do it. And no matter what, don’t talk about it at the dinner.

But the evidence now is that drinking abundant amounts of regular or diet soft drinks is about as bad for you as smoking. It just makes you fat and tends to cause type 2 diabetes & heart disease -- instead of directly causing cardiovascular disease and cancers as smoking does.

8. Add some good for you foods that help people fill up without the extra amounts of less good for you food components.

Be sure to include good tasting vegetable dishes and a salad or two served without dressing that people can add their own serving of dressing to; and provide a couple or three almost OK kinds in various flavors.

For example, my wife and I also now bring the relish dish. We include raw organic broccoli florets, radishes, pitted olives, carrot sticks from peeled carrots, and sometimes celery sticks or raw chunks of cauliflower. We take real sour cream with curry powder; guacamole, and a health OK Ranch dressing from Whole Foods for dips.

9. As we discuss tomorrow in how to enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner no matter how its fixed, in your own eating, eat a bit more of the protein foods and a lot more of the healthier vegetable dishes and smaller servings of the less healthy stuff that you actually like and virtually none of the less healthy stuff that you find OK but not great. That way you’ll certainly be full enough to feel like you’ve been to a feast and eat foods you enjoy -- but with minimum damage!

Do the best you can.

Then focus as much as you can on enjoying the food and the people. It won’t be perfect; but it can be better. Let yourself enjoy it; & focus on the parts that ARE going well.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

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

Today's Post: Monday, 11-22-2010

Last month, I reported that I gained back both the one & a half pounds on the scale AND the quarter inch off my waist in the month just before the report where the month earlier and before that I’d lost those amounts.

This was the first time since I began my current efforts that I went backwards. The worst before was just no progress one time.

Of course, I know the main reasons why it happened.

1. The month I had the re-gain of weight and added the quarter inch on my waist I went to not one but TWO birthday parties where I allowed myself extra food, cake, and extra alcoholic drinks.

2. Instead of gradually getting better, just when I thought it was and tried to stay at a low medium level on my way back to my normal weights, I re-injured my left arm. So, I not only was I not doing the amount of upper body strength training I wanted, my ability to do so was delayed again!

Here was my action plan based on the good news and bad news that time.

1. I’d still lost a pound more than my initial goal and two of the six inches I needed to lose off my waist. So, I decided to continue everything that got that job done. I KNEW better than to quit everything just because of a temporary set back.

2. I had a plan already to cut back my remaining sugar intake in half but was waiting to do it a certain way that I couldn’t yet do. Now that I knew I’d go in reverse a bit without cutting back now and that cutting back now might start removing more inches off my waist, I decided to simply stop eating half of the small amount of dark chocolate I had been eating instead of waiting for a way to eat the same amount of chocolate with just half the sugar.

(I had also thought of using agave syrup to cut my sugar intake on my oatmeal my remaining 3 days every two weeks. But two things happened to that one.

First, agave syrup turns out NOT to be a good idea since it’s pretty much a syrup of only fructose. Studies show that using fructose as a sweetener without a whole fruit with water, fiber, and nutrients along with it is far more harmful than regular sugar. Agave nectar, concentrated fruit juices, and high fructose corn syrup are all NOT a good idea for this reason it turns out. The other reason was that the time I tried substituting agave syrup for sugar, it flat out failed! The result was dreadful. It not only was less sweet than advertised, it had a bit of an off taste to me.)

3. I did see my regular doctor for his advice on my left arm.

He thought I could rehab it OK if I just took it a bit more gradually. And, just doing part of the increase back to full effort and dumbbell weight has worked OK. But although it doesn’t hurt, my left arm no longer feels right when I do the exercises with it. I think I may have damaged something that is NOT getting better.

So I now plan for sure to see one of the sports medicine doctors in our local area too. I’ll have to pay out of pocket for that. So it may take me a bit to get to it.

(I want to be sure I’ve not injured my left arm in a way that needs surgical correction before I assume that it will just get better if I wait long enough. And, I want to start taking action to blast the obstacle out of the way!

Since I could literally feel the muscle growth effects of my new kettlebell program, I not only want to resume it with both arms, I want to work to increase it!

I know that will help add muscle to several parts of me and help me lose inches off my waist by having what I still eat feed that muscle instead of my belly fat.)

>>>> My goal for this time was to lose back the pound and a half I gained and another half pound for a total of 2 pounds and at least lose back the quarter inch I gained back on my waist.

MY PLAN WORKED !! I lost 2 pounds and the quarter inch on my waist!

I succeeded in cutting back on alcohol and in continuing the rest of my program which likely helped me lose back the pound and a half.

And, since I lost two pounds, that likely means that for a while, I’ll tend to lose half a pound a month by my cutting my regular dark chocolate intake in half and continuing to do so.

Of course, next month, includes Thanksgiving 3 days from now. So, to not gain weight continuing that cut back in my regular dark chocolate eating and my care in keeping my alcoholic drinks per week low enough the rest of the month will be important.

Speaking of that, tomorrow & Weds I’ll do posts on fixing a more health OK & less fattening Thanksgiving tomorrow and a post on enjoying Thanksgiving with minimal damage on Weds.

The trick is to enjoy the holiday without seeming to overdo being health oriented or fat loss oriented but at the same time actually doing a pretty good job on both fat loss and health without coming across as doing so enough to cause less motivated people a problem with them enjoying the holiday.

Both in fixing and cooking for Thanksgiving, and in your own eating, those things ARE doable.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Good and bad news about cholesterol lowering drugs....

Today's Post: Friday, 11-19-2010

A. There were two pieces of news this week about cholesterol lowering drugs.

1. One said that statin drugs were significantly over-prescribed to people unlikely to get almost any benefits. People who had already survived a heart attack etc or who had a lot of calcified plaque did benefit somewhat by taking statins. But people with neither did not.

2.The other news was a good bit more promising. A new Merck drug, anacetrapib, given to people already taking statin drugs boosted HDL 62 points! And, it lowered LDL an additional 32 points. The article I saw did not list the changes if any in triglycerides or the HSCRP measure of the inflammatory marker, C reactive protein.

But the lipid lipoprotein (a), that is a measure of the likelihood of plaque forming in your blood vessels just about was cut in half.

It also did not cause the negative heart impacts or the boosted blood pressure a drug in the same class did earlier.

If in upcoming the larger scale 4 year test, it doesn’t cause other bad side effects and delivers heart attack prevention and blood flow improvement benefits, it may well replace statins or always be used with them for very high risk patients.

B. This does ignore the fact that NOT smoking or getting second hand smoke; regular, vigorous exercise; upgrading from junk food, soft drinks, sweet treats, and snacks to what writer Michael Pollan calls real food; and taking quite modest amounts of niacin, inositol hexaniacinate, and sterol supplements delivers comparable heart protective readings and protection. This set of lifestyle upgrades also dramatically lowers triglycerides, which we now know means that it lowers the level of the small particle LDL that causes heart disease.

AND, it also delivers dozens of other health benefits from losing excess fat to lowering blood pressure and blood sugar if they were too high and cancer protection.

Further, these lifestyle upgrades do NOT cause the side effects of statins.

These changes, unlike statin drugs have been dramatically underused and undersold to people wanting to prevent heart attacks

C. Where do we go from here?

1. What do we do about deciding if people with low HDL or high LDL should take statin drugs?

a) If the person has already had a CAT scan of their heart area which found a lot of calcified arterial plaque or they have already had a heart attack indicating they likely have calcified plaque, it may be worth giving them statin drugs.

But even then, they should have the Berkeley Heart Lab tests. The researchers there have used their tests to find several subtypes of heart risk. Only one kind of the many they find gets more protection from statin drugs. All the rest do far better by taking niacin.

So, even here, statins are over-prescribed!

b) If they have neither had a CAT scan of their heart area nor a heart attack etc, what can be done?

Getting a CAT scan to check the calcification of their arteries is likely NOT a wise choice despite being quite diagnostic. It subjects them to the radiation of thousands of more reasonable medical X-rays & is quite expensive to do.

If they smoke or have a lot of exposure to second hand smoke or have truly dreadful readings indicative of unusually high risk, it might make sense to have them take the Berkeley Heart Lab tests.

c) But by far the most important thing to do in all cases is to let them know that that NOT smoking or getting second hand smoke; regular, vigorous exercise; and upgrading from junk food, soft drinks, sweet treats, and snacks to what writer Michael Pollan calls real food is by far their best protection and is their number one priority.

And, they should try lower doses of niacin and inositol hexaniacinate, and take sterol supplements before considering statin drugs or mega doses of niacin. These supplements are far safer and have far fewer side effects and they work quite effectively, particularly when combined with the lifestyle upgrades.

Only if they are unable or unwilling to make these lifestyle upgrades and, in the Berkeley Heart Lab tests, test as being in the class of people who do well on statins, should they be prescribed statin drugs in my opinion.

2. The good news is that the new Merck drug that tests much like a super-niacin may be helpful for many people as they gear up these lifestyle upgrades or who can’t or won’t do them or who are initially at very high risk.

But the lifestyle upgrades should be the number one choice NOT statin drugs.

These lifestyle upgrades do much more to protect health than just heart protection if they are all done and done well.

In fact, with statin drugs, only the people who also do these lifestyle upgrades get any significant heart protection. And, if the people who might take statin drugs do these lifestyle upgrades for 6 months and get re-tested, most of them will no longer be candidates for statin drugs.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Today many people will quit smoking – why & how to join them....

Today's Post: Thursday, 11-18-2010

Many people successfully quit smoking every day. So no matter when you read this, today can be a day YOU can do the same.

But if you read this on Thursday, 11-18-2010 & quit even for just 24 hours initially, you will have LOTS of extra company.

Today is the Great American Smokeout, an annual event since 1977.

This post is in three parts:

1. Why to quit. (The harm from smokers is far more certain and harsh than most smokers even have a beginning clue about.)

2. New information on how to quit successfully from an earlier post.

3. And, some added information that can also be helpful in quitting.

1. Why quit smoking:

Most smokers have heard that some smokers get lung cancer from it.

But few know more than that. So they think that they will be one of the smokers who don’t get it and keep smoking. On that subject they have a point. Even among heavy smokers, only 25 % of them get lung cancer. That means that 75% don’t.

Of course that’s a bit like playing Russian Roulette with a four shot revolver with one bullet.

But some smokers do miss lung cancer.

The problem is that the reality of smoking is dramatically worse and much more certain than that.

Even though smoking DOES cause lung cancer and about 30 % of every other kind of cancer too, cancer is the LITTLE problem from smoking!

Every single cigarette smoked or exposure to second hand smoke begins to give you heart disease and increases your rate of aging.

It gets even worse than that. Once it gives you heart disease, exposure to tobacco smoke, we recently found out, also TRIGGERS heart attacks even in people who otherwise would not have gotten them.

This means smoking is so harmful, it literally harms people who just began smoking and those who only smoke 3 or 4 cigarettes a day or are only exposed to second hand smoke a few hours every week.

For example, teens who smoke who get their lung function checked have the result show they breathe about as well as healthy nonsmokers who are MUCH older.

For another example, I recently found this quote, “….secondhand smoke causes an estimated 46,000 heart disease deaths and 3,400 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year.” This shows that smoking is nearly FOURTEEN times more likely to harm or kill you with heart disease as it is with lung cancer!

So stop smoking ASAP and stay away as much as you can from second hand smoke.

2. My earlier post with some ways to mulitply your chances of success in quitting smoking.:

If you're quitting smoking this year, this new information will help....

Today's Post: Monday, 1-18-2010

You or someone you know may be trying to quit smoking this year. If so, some really useful new information that can double your chances of success, or much more, just came to my attention.

You may have a friend who smoked and who died from a heart attack recently and not want to have that happen to you.

Or, you may have had a heart attack you survived & your doctor let you know that if you quit smoking, your chances of avoiding another heart attack or surviving the next one if you have it would both go up.

Or you may have realized how much you spend on cigarettes and would like to do something more constructive with all that money each month.

Or you may have read the info we posted on in this blog before that 25% of heavy smokers do get lung cancer and decided you would do something to avoid that happening to you!

No matter what your motivation, there are a whole list of things we now know to multiply your chances of success. Doing them in combination can work wonders for you.

I recently found an article in a newspaper section that came with the ads & sales flyers called,
spryliving.com , & it was in their January, 2010 issue.

I'd known that the best strategy for most people is to try an attempt first to quit cold turkey. If it works for you, you're done.

If the side effects keep you from staying off, the best fall back method is to get both a prescription for Zyban, the safer & more desirable of the 2 drugs for this purpose I think, that replaces the exact kind of antidepressant effect that nicotine has PLUS use a short acting and an as needed fast acting nicotine replacement.

But regardless of whether you stop cold turkey on your own or after you see the doctor and get the prescriptions, this article had two extremely valuable keys to success.

The Zyban, the nicotine replacement, and doing regular exercise even if it's light moderate -- all, each of them separately, just about double your odds of quitting.

What this article had that was so valuable is that:

Beginning the methods on this list you'll use and using them regularly for two weeks before your quit date ALSO doubles your chance of success!!

Two, I'd already known that doing regular exercise while quitting doubled your chances of success by itself. But this article had WHY this works! It seems that just like the Zyban and the nicotine replacements do, regular exercise turns down nicotine cravings!

1. So, you have a decent shot at quitting without the doctor's help if you use an over the counter nicotine replacement like a nicotine patch and do regular exercise for 2 weeks before your quit date. Between using both the nicotine replacement AND the regular exercise even if it's just a slow walk of 10 minutes 6 or 7 days a week - AND the 2 week head start - you will multiply your chance of success on your first pass by up to an almost unbelievable EIGHT times.

(You can add a fast-acting nicotine replacement after your quit date also -- such as an over the counter nicotine replacement like nicotine gum.)

2. Even better, if your high probability of success try on your own effort doesn't quite work, you've already begun the regular exercise & experienced using a nicotine replacement. Just continue them until you see the doctor. Then after you do, add the Zyban or the nicotine replacements your doctor has found to work best for another 2 weeks again before you try to quit the second time.

You are now using FOUR methods that each double your chances of success, the two week lead in time before you quit, the regular exercise, the nicotine replacement AND the Zyban. That gives you up to a totally amazing SIXTEEN times better chance at success!

3. Other tips.:

a) If you are already doing regular exercise, take it a bit easy, but do it as regularly as you can each week. Doing it that regularly provides the leverage you need.

And, since you have been smoking and more intense exercise has been found to boost blood pressure even after you finish each session in smokers, until you recover from the effects of your previous smoking, hold off trying to do more or a lot more in terms of intensity until a few weeks after you quit. And, then build up very gradually for awhile.

b) Consider taking other supplements that have antidepressant effects or help combat the heart disease and cancer causing effects of the smoking.

Taking 5,000 iu a day of vitamin D3 has reversed seasonal depression, SAD. Even better, it has been shown to protect your heart about that well too.

Taking purified fish oil, Omega 3, and DHA supplements has been found to both reverse mild depression but ALSO lower triglycerides and help prevent the more dangerous rhythm problems in heart attacks that make them more likely to be fatal. So taking those supplements will help prevent both heart attacks and fatal heart attacks plus you'll feel better too.

(Both vitamin D3 & these omega 3 oils also each have other health benefits.)

If you take the vitamin D3 AND take turmeric or curcumin supplements you are also less likely to get most cancers. (Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric.) And, if you like curried food or that spice on other dishes, eat that more often. The yellow color in curry spice is from the turmeric they contain.

If your LDL cholesterol is high, you can also lower that to protect your heart and without taking drugs by taking sterols such as beta sitosterol.

So, by taking these supplements as you quit and right after, you improve your chances of success both at quitting and at avoiding the health problems you are quitting to hopefully prevent!

These new methods give you an excellent shot at quitting successfully.

By all means try them!

3. For some people, they may be better off quitting right now while they are ready instead of planning a quit date. That’s because they may not feel like it later.

Others, who virtually always do what they plan to do as scheduled no matter what, might do better to cut down just a bit and begin a relatively easy consistent exercise program for the two weeks before they try to quit.

Either way, it will at least double your chances of success if you make sure to exercise after you quit. Just take it easy at first and increase slowly after that.

The other thing that you can use to quit successfully I hadn’t yet seen that ALSO probably at least doubles your chances of quitting is how you think when you decide whether or not to smoke after you quit.

Some people who were addicted to too many sweets and got fat successfully lose the fat and some don’t.

The ones who think about how much they would enjoy having a sugary treat and nothing else tend to keep eating them and either never lose the fat or always gain it back.

But the discovery is that this is avoidable! The people who learn to think first and most about the consequences of eating the sugary treat, almost always pass. They succeed in losing the fat and in keeping it off.

The research shows they use the command center of their brains instead of the appetite centers. Since the command part is better informed, smarter, and – if activated, is in control, this isn’t even that hard once you learn to do it every time.

In smoking, it would go something like this,

“I feel rotten and stressed, if I smoked this cigarette, I’d likely feel better.”

That tends to lead to re-starting smoking.

But it’s just as easy but with far different results to think:

“I feel rotten and stressed, if I smoked this cigarette, I’d likely feel better. But if I do, one day I’ll have a heart attack or a cancer and won’t even feel this good.

Feeling rotten is temporary and if I decide I need to, I can get a prescription for Zyban to turn feeling bad down until it stops – or I can get some nicotine gum and use that.”

You may even think, “Nope, I’d like to feel better sooner. But it isn’t bad enough to go to that much work to get rid of.”

Learning to think this way, always looking at consequences BEFORE deciding, works very effectively.

I can vouch for this personally.

There are many treats that I used to eat that were fattening. Before I knew any better, I’d often decide whether or not to have one only on whether or not I like that kind of treat. If I liked it, I ate it.

Now I know better and am also working on getting the fat off my belly, I think differently.

I look at the label first or now know what likely would be on the label if there was one.

Does it have high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners or flavors? Does it have any real foods besides the refined grains and sugar? Does it have junk oils like soy or corn or cottonseed oil? Does it have any “partially hydrogenated’ vegetable oils?

Has it been a LONG time since I had a sweet treat? Or did I just allow myself to have one yesterday?

Only if a food gets by both of these screens do I eat any at all most of the time.

I still love sweets just as much as I used to.

But now I know the health consequences of eating the ingredients and have a strong motivation not to have even OK sweet treats too often, these thoughts shut the door on my eating any at all 98 % of the time.

Thinking similarly, can be an enormous help in quitting smoking.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tips for exercise during the winter....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 11-16-2010

Between colds, flu, rain, sleet, snow, and more dark hours, many kinds of exercise work less well or even become dangerous during the winter.

But if you stop exercising during the winter you lose all kinds of health benefits.

Not exercising during the winter runs the risk of not resuming after the winter is over.

And, some health benefits of regular exercise we now know are cumulative. If you stop during the winter, after five years instead of having the cumulative benefit of 5 years of regular exercise, you’ll only have the benefits of nine months worth five times.

Lastly, during the winter if you don’t keep up regular exercise, you are MORE likely to have a cold and have it be a bad one that lasts longer. You’ll be far more likely to gain some extra fat over the holidays. And, your sex life will likely be worse. Your protection from heart disease, mental decline, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers will be less. Worse, you’ll be more likely to get SAD or winter depression. Yikes!

But there are several ways to keep exercising that do work during the winter.

The three categories are exercise at home; noontime walks when it’s safe to take them, and some winter exercise that works well outside.

Each of these three works and has real benefits.

1. Exercise at home, particularly brief sessions first thing in the morning, is THE best way for most people to ensure getting regular exercise all year round.

If you already do it, just keep doing it during the winter. But, if you have been a runner or hiker or someone who plays tennis but during the winter it’s too cold or icy or rainy or dark, by all means add some indoor exercise.

(If you catch colds easily, it can be better to exercise at home instead of at the gym in the winter also.)

Here are some ideas.

Here’s what I do. With one exception, all I use personally are a couple of folding chairs; and I lay down a towel on the rug in one room for exercises where I lie down. I have a small set of single, fixed weight dumbbells – just one at each weight. I have a jump rope and a Nordic Track. I also recently bought a single kettlebell. With that equipment such as it is I do strength training and interval cardio.

I’ve found that by doing bodyweight exercises and by using several dumbbells one at a time, I can get a good workout. I only use a few dumbbells because instead of doing exercises with a dumbbell in each hand and waiting between sets, I do exercises with my left hand and then my right hand and then immediately do the next exercise the same way and so on.

I only stop between every few sets to write down the exercises in my log book or to catch my breath after my most intense sets such as my interval cardio style 4 sets of abdominal exercises without stopping in between the parts and doing fast pushups until I can’t do any more.

This gives me some interval cardio while I do my strength training and is a very time efficient way to exercise.

In my 15 to 30 minute sets each day I do about as much exercise as many people do at the gym in twice that time plus the time it takes to go there and back.

I also do upper body exercises Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday & leg exercises Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

I do jump rope for a few minutes after work on most Monday and Wednesday evenings before I eat or do anything else. And, though I can no longer stand up to three longer sessions each week, on Saturdays when I usually have the time, I do an intense 10 minute session on my Nordic Track – interval cardio style. (The jump rope sessions I recently added got me in enough better shape, I began to set personal records doing my Nordic Track.)

I’m achievement oriented and have a background in strength training.

So, for those of you for whom my style of program is a bit on the boring or too organized style, here are some other ideas.

Aerobic dancing and exercises while watching a video with music you like works well also.

Doing exercise to music you like on a minitrampoline has worked well for some people. Check out the urban rebounder at www.urbanrebounder.com . Last time I looked, you could buy one new for less than $160. This is lower impact and easier to do than jumping rope. And it’s easier to do to your favorite rock music.

If you can afford one and have the space, you can also get a stationary bike or treadmill, and you can use it while you watch TV. If you speed up during the commercials, you can even get an interval cardio effect without distracting you from your shows too much! This is also a way to find time or find extra time to do exercise or more exercise.

2. Besides taking at least 2,000 iu a day of vitamin D3—and 5,000 iu a day or a bit more may be better, a surprisingly effective way to prevent SAD, seasonal affective disorder, caused in some people by too little sunlight, is to get a noontime walk most days or most weekdays.

As long as you can fit it in, have a safe place to walk outside, and the weather is safe to walk in, this works very well.

The key to this is that there is more actual sunlight on a dark and overcast and even rainy or snowy day at noontime than you can get in an expensive light box.

This is a startling effect but it’s real. It seems your eyes adapt so well to the light level you are in, it seems dark or not very light at such times. But if you get a photographer’s light meter, you can check it out. There is not just a lot more light at such times than it looks, there’s something like 10 to 100 times more light than it looks like there is.

Even a 10 minute walk at or near noon on four days a week can help. Just skip the days when it’s too cold or wet or when you’d be too hard for drivers to see or the pavement is too icy.

3. Snow shoeing, cross country skiing, and skating at an outdoor rink can sometimes work well in winter on some days or weekend days.

These can be good to great exercises depending on how in shape you are, how vigorously you do them, and for how long you do them.

If you do snow shoeing or cross country skiing, be sure to have a cell phone with charged batteries with you. And, it’s dramatically safer if you do them with a buddy who also has such a cell phone.

Downhill skiing and sledding can be fun.

But only do them in safe places and stop doing them before you get even a little overtired or too late in the day.

(You want it to still be light when you are getting back inside. So that’s a second reason to not do them too late in the day. This also helps prevent you running into a rock or tree stump it was too dark to see.)

Ice skating on outdoor rinks can work well. Some of them may even have music you like playing.

Between these three ways, it is quite doable to exercise all winter long.

(And, there’s more. If you live where you have access; it’s safe to drive there; and you have the time, you can also go to exercise classes, martial arts classes, and to the gym. In most places where such things exist, they operate year round.)

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Taxing health harms can IMPROVE the economy....

Today's Post: Monday, 11-15-2010

California where I live has a financial emergency. Most of its revenues are down quite a bit due to the economy being so poor.

There are other reasons. But that’s the main cause.

The Federal government has much the same problem.

But that puts the politicians in a real catch 22 dilemma.:

1. If the politicians cut promised programs, the people that cuts off or even harms, give them a hard time.

2. If they increase taxes, even more people are unhappy with them and give them a hard time.

But, even worse, most taxes when raised will slow the economy and wind up not raising revenue that much. And, since virtually everyone is worried about the economy, that right now is likely even less likely to get support.

But there IS a set of taxes that normally would not be doable that might be now.

What could that be?! And, why is that so?

Other than the providing companies, taxing health harms not only doesn’t slow the economy, it gives consumers MORE discretionary income and very quickly lowers health care costs! In short, these are taxes governments can impose that actually can IMPROVE the economy.

A. It gets better. A study was done showing that making good for you foods cost less, increased spending on fattening treats! But taxing sugary foods caused people to buy more real foods.

This means fewer people will get fat, get type 2 diabetes, and get heart disease and some cancers. That cuts health care costs and increases the productivity of the people in the workforce. Each of those improves the economy. (Recent studies have shown that excessive consumption of sugary foods, exactly as we have now in the United States, causes heart disease. We’ve known they tend to make people fat and get type 2 diabetes for many years.)

B. Similarly, taxing cigarettes and tobacco products cuts consumption three ways that would not happen without the tax boost. Some people quit. Some people don’t start using them. And those who keep buying them, buy less.

Few smokers know it. But every single cigarette they smoke begins to speed up their aging and cause heart disease. In addition, recent studies found that both smoking and second hand smoke TRIGGER heart attacks in people with some heart disease but who would NOT have had the heart attacks otherwise.

This means that a new tax of a dollar a pack on cigarettes will cut health care costs within months of being enacted! And, it will cut health care costs even more for years afterwards.

In normal times, the flak from the providing companies and the people who either like those things or have no clue they are that harmful would prevent such taxes. But these are not normal times.

The economy is down and many things are combining to slow recovery. And, one of those things is the increasing brake from continuously increasing health care costs. Much of this increase is completely avoidable with upgrades in what people eat and drink and by reducing smoking and second hand smoke.

Governments today MUST have taxes they can enact without harming the economy or doing more than minor slowing.

Health harm taxes are the best of these two alternatives because they actually IMPROVE the economy and raise money for the government too.

People adjust by buying less of the health harming things. That either leaves them with the same discretionary income or more. Other taxes or tax increases leave them with less discretionary income.

So, since California tends to be a pace setter and trend starter AND really needs a way to get more revenue without slowing the economy, in addition to very small tax increases that slow the economy just a little, I propose that California enact these taxes.:

1. Regular soft drinks add calories to people without any decrease in hunger. Then, hours after drinking them, the sugar spike reverses and the low blood sugar causes people to be hungry for sugary foods. Diet soft drinks cause people to crave sugary foods immediately after people drink them. Ninety percent or more of the people who drink diet soft drinks are as fat as people who drink the regular ones.

So, California should tax ALL soft drinks at 10 cents an ounce. This should be a new part of the sales tax since the mechanism to collect sales tax is already in place and works well.

2. Foods that contain sugar, high fructose corn syrup even if re-labeled as corn sugar, artificial sweeteners, salt, MSG, and/or hydrogenated oils either make people fat or help cause heart disease or both.

Virtually none of these foods are hit with sales tax now. So, my second proposal is that any food with any of these ingredients, even one, now be taxed with sales tax.

3. Smoking and second hand smoke, we are now finding out, are dramatically more harmful to health than was dreamed of even a few years ago. And, not one smoker in 10 knows this yet.

So, an additional tax of $1.00 should be imposed on cigarettes and a comparable tax be imposed on other forms of tobacco.

All three of these taxes should take effect in 30 days or less.

The defense of these taxes when people complain or the providing companies complain is simple.

The governments need a way to raise revenue that improves their economy and lowers health care costs.

Those two things are simply more important priorities than soothing people who dislike them.

Since people want a better economy so badly now, by selling these taxes as a way to do that without cutting needed programs, I think they may actually be a solution to the dilemma faced by the State of California.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Ways to eat more vegetables....

Today's Post: Friday, 11-12-2010

Recently this month, on Monday, 11-1-2010, we did a post on ways of eating that support good health.

The ones with the most and most important health benefits already have an abundant amount of vegetables.

And, in those two, the Mediterranean and the DASH II, diet eating a bit more vegetables and less of even whole grains makes them even more effective at benefitting your health.

In fact, eating more vegetables makes virtually all the eating styles do better at supporting and benefitting your health.

(The reasons why vegetables are so good for you are next. Some vegetables are listed in this section. The next part, B, has the ways to begin to eat more.)

A. There are a whole list of reasons for this.

1. Eating raw cruciferous vegetables and eating a variety of them is a potent way to prevent cancer. Broccoli, Broccoli Sprouts,Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Water Cress, and Radishes are just some of these vegetables.

Garlic and onions prevent cancer. Even button mushrooms help prevent cancer. (Minced raw garlic eaten fresh -- and sliced raw onions in salads or sandwiches may work best.)

See the book, Anticancer, A New Way of Life, New Edition by David Servan-Schreiber which is available on Amazon.com .

In fact almost all vegetables help prevent cancer. This book rates, for their effectiveness at cancer prevention, almost all of the ones you can buy at your local stores.

2. The whole family of carotenoids, not just beta carotene, protect your health.

The more kinds you eat in real food the better your overall health will be. And, a relatively high dose of mixed carotenoids in real foods, which are virtually all vegetables, also helps prevent cancers.

Lycopene and many of the other carotenoids are absorbed and used best and most if the vegetables they are in are eaten with extra virgin olive oil. In fact, tomatoes cooked into a tomato based sauce with extra virgin olive oil delivers far more lycopene to you than when eaten raw. But raw, sliced tomatoes deliver some lycopene and have other heath benefits.

For their carotene content, steamed or cooked vegetables in dishes with extra virgin olive oil works well. (While many of broccoli’s anti-cancer components, you only get them if you eat it raw. But for its carotenes, you may well get more when it’s steamed or cooked.)

Besides broccoli and some dark salad greens, sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, tomatoes, and squash – including pumpkin puree all are high in carotenes.

3. Vegetables have a high fiber content and a high potassium content. So eating a lot of them tends to lower your blood pressure if it’s too high. The DASH II diet that also restricts salt a bit is proven effective in doing just this for example.

4. Because nonstarchy vegetables have high fiber content, a high water content, high nutritional value, and very few calories, the more of them you eat, the less excess fat you will have and carry around. They are so filling and low in calories, Weight Watchers rates them with zero points. They are literally a food that is filling and almost calorie free.

I’ve found that eating enough vegetables is almost like a gentle, extremely effective, way to find it easy, indeed almost automatic, to eat less of the foods that have more calories with NO extra effort needed.

For example, people who drink a glass or two of vegetable juice each day who have not been doing this lose weight and fat studies have found.

5. For the same reasons vegetables help you be less fat, the nonstarchy ones are very low glycemic and the more of them you eat, the less trouble you will have with spiking or crashing blood sugar levels and insulin resistance and too high blood sugar including type 2 diabetes.

6. Organic vegetables particularly have nutrients such as flavonoids that we are just beginning to learn benefit health. And virtually each kind of most vegetables we are finding have dozens of kinds of these phytonutrients.

7. Vegetables have abundant levels of the traditional vitamins and minerals. This too is most true of organically raised vegetables.

Vitamin C, folic acid, and magnesium are all high in many vegetables – and in their natural and most bioavailable forms besides.

B. Ways to eat more vegetables.

For breakfast, you can add one or more of sprouts or diced onion or mushrooms or diced green or mild hot peppers to scrambled eggs or omelets.

You can also add them to stir fry dishes along with diced shrimp or diced ham or raw nuts or diced boiled eggs.

The Japanese often start the day with a seaweed soup that can contain many kinds of seaweed.

On cold days you can have stew or chili to which you’ve added some extra diced vegetables.

Some people simply have lunch or dinner type meals for breakfast and include steamed vegetables or raw diced vegetables with dip or salads with multiple vegetable and other ingredients. (Guacamole is a dip with a lot of flavor that is made from avocados which have heart health OK monosaturated oils and so many nutrients they are listed as a super food.)

You can also have a glass of vegetable juice with whatever breakfast you eat now. Both regular and low salt tomato juice or V8 juice work. You can also get a juicer and include several kinds of vegetables. And you can have a “Virgin Mary” – Bloody Mary mix with no alcohol. SnapETom, which is tomato juice with hot peppers, also works.

For lunch you can do any of the above. Having vegetables in your sandwich such as sliced onion, sliced tomatoes. You can also bring a stew or chili or other dish with cooked vegetables with you to work. In many workplaces, you can even heat these in a microwave. Just bring them in a glass container. Pyrex sells several sizes of those.

>>> The only caution needed is to add these vegetables one at a time and eat that one for a week or so before adding more of it or a second vegetable.

Your gut can deal with 3 to 8 servings a day of vegetables once you are used to eating that many. And, that’s the best total to aim at for good health. But if you go in one day from never eating any kind of vegetable on a regular basis to eating 4 or 5 without building up to it gradually to allow your gut to adapt to it can cause you to feel bloated and overfull and even give you excess gas.

If you just add one a week or three a month, you can get to eating more without those problems. <<<<<

Here’s what I’ve begun with. (There are literally hundreds of other ways to do it. One or more of those will work for you. Just experiment until you find what you like and can keep doing.)

For lunch:

When I found out that men who eat raw broccoli florets get just half the aggressive kind of prostate cancer as men who don’t, I began to bring a half cup to a cup or so of them as part of my workday lunch each day.

I also realized that in sandwiches and hot dogs, my favorite part was the mustard, lettuce, tomato slices, and sliced onions. This is because of their great flavors and their adding a water containing food to balance the dry bread used.

So, I bring a half sandwich on one slice of whole grain sprouted rye bread for lunch that has a lettuce like Romaine or Red leaf lettuce, sliced tomato, sliced onion, and Annie’s Natural yellow mustard, the only one I’ve found I can be certain is MSG free. (The ingredient “spices” which is often used to hide having MSG in a product is NOT listed for this kind of mustard. And, I buy it at my local Whole Foods Market.)

And, for carotenes in food, I bring baby food sweet potatoes on Monday, Weds, & Friday while I bring baby food squash from Earth’s Best on Tues & Thurs. Neither my wife nor I has to cook or prepare these. They transport easily in my lunch bag. And they are exactly the same size each time.

For dinner, I get a tomato or “pasta” sauce I like with no soy oil added and then add extra virgin olive oil, cooked pinto beans, and other spices. Sometime I include curry that contains turmeric and black pepper for the anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and Alzheimer’s disease prevention effects. Other times I add chili powder and a bit of cayenne pepper.

I like flavorful foods and enjoy both versions of this dinner!

(The precooked tomato sauce added to the extra virgin olive oil, I found out, helps prevent prostate and other cancers.)

The pinto beans are super inexpensive as my wife cooks a batch for the week from the dry beans most weekends.

They are high in antioxidants, protein, and very high in fiber including the soluble fiber that keeps my LDL cholesterol down.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dark chocolate & unsweetened cocoa protect your heart....

Today's Post: Thursday, 11-11-2010

Last Monday, a story about this came out. The one I saw was from Reuters:

“Chocolate eaters may have healthier hearts: study
By Alison McCook Mon Nov 8, 2010 NEW YORK (Reuters Health).”

In a study of older women they found that eating chocolate regularly even if it was only once a week, helped the women who did this be 35% less likely to be put into the hospital or die from heart attacks and similar kinds of heart disease.

But the second finding was BETTER! They were 60% less likely to be put into the hospital or die from heart failure.

Separate studies of both men and women have found that eating dark chocolate or drinking unsweetened cocoa increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure if it was high. And, it has found that if a chocolate eater has a heart attack they are only HALF as likely to die as someone who never eats or drinks it.

For the protection from heart attacks, heart failure, and death from them, even one quarter of a dark chocolate candy bar a week or one double strength cup of coca made with unsweetened cocoa and with NO milk is enough to be quite protective according to these studies.

It has been found that having dark chocolate or unsweetened cocoa with milk or eating milk chocolate virtually wipes out these protective effects.

So, as good as it is on taste, milk chocolate is nowhere near the protector that dark chocolate is.

Similarly, I saw information that adding sugar to your cocoa reduces these effects.

For increasing blood flow if you have peripheral artery disease (PAD), circulation caused ED, or angina – or if you want to use chocolate as a way to lower high blood pressure a bit that does not require taking drugs, everyday use or every other day use may work better for dark chocolate. And, a quarter of a small bar of dark chocolate or an eighth of a larger one is likely enough. Because of the sugar, more will likely make you fat and is not necessary for the health effects apparently.

But with unsweetened cocoa, you can drink at least five or six cups a day if you want without boosting your blood sugar or overdoing calories.

Here is a personal experience I had and what I do now as a result.

After discovering that dark chocolate was good for you, at Halloween one year, we got a large supply of miniature sized Hershey’s dark chocolate candy bars at my workplace that were available free.

So, for the next few weeks – about a month – I ate two to four a day on every weekday.

That month, I gained six pounds!


Conversely, I still eat dark chocolate but just lost 17 pounds in less than six months.

Here’s what I do now. I buy one small Hershey’s Special Dark candy bar a week & have a quarter of the bar -- a quarter bar at a time -- during the workweek. (I was eating two bars a week instead of one; but wanted to lose a bit more fat & switched to just one.)

And, on both Saturday and Sunday morning I have one double strength serving of unsweetened cocoa.

According to this research, I’m doing my heart and blood vessels a LOT of good by doing this. And, by doing it this way, it has NOT slowed my fat loss.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Stress protection, more energy, better mood, fat loss help, and cancer prevention....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 11-9-2010

1. Recently, I got an email saying that extra iodine intake had helped turn off breast cancer and prevent it.

The larger amounts they used might not be safe for some women and likely are too high for regular intake as a preventive for many women. (It did work for the woman they wrote about. But I know of no large studies verifying that info.)

But the Wikipedia article on Iodine had some fascinating information!

Iodine and two other supplements together may help with fat loss, protection from stress, having enough energy, AND in preventing or reversing cancers.

One of them helps with stress tolerance and feeling good also.:

2. One of those supplements, tyrosine, has been found to increase the resilience and increase the tolerance for stress and performance in male soldiers.

If your job or life work or regular life is stressful and challenging, this suggests strongly that if you take 1,000 mg (two 500 mg capsules) on an empty stomach each morning, you will handle your day better and perform better.

(I’ve done that ever since I read the information on the study on soldiers. I want to perform well and be as stress proof as possible!)

Tyrosine also helps your body to make dopamine which your body uses to trigger your reward and enjoyment response in your brain.

And, the dopamine boost may help you feel better and make depression less likely – plus you may enjoy your food and sex life more due to the extra boost it gives your reward circuits in your brain.

3. The Wikipedia article also explains the biochemistry of the way your body uses iodine, tyrosine, and selenium to ensure you have adequate thyroid levels.

For everyone, and for older women particularly, this helps ensure your metabolism stays high enough to make fat loss possible and an adequate level of energy.

We just covered why tyrosine is valuable in other ways.

Selenium is available as a 200 mcg capsule. It is an antioxidant in addition to its importance in making thyroid hormones. It may well be worth taking that much daily.

(BUT, do NOT take more than that or eat more than one Brazil nut a week since above about 400 mcg a day selenium begins to be toxic and you do get some selenium in some foods. Brazil nuts have a week’s supply of selenium. So eating more than one a week could be problematic.)

4. Ensuring an above average level of iodine intake looks like a third essential way to have enough thyroid hormone. It seems that Iodine helps keep your metabolism from becoming too low because your body uses it to make thyroid hormones.

That helps ensure you have a good supply of energy and to be able to lose fat and keep it off since your metabolism stays high enough.

And, the Wikipedia DOES have some information suggesting that doing so does help prevent or get rid of breast cancer and other cancers. Breast cancer, oral cancers such as tongue, throat, and esophageal cancers, and skin cancers sound most likely from their description.

(Note that NOT smoking or putting tobacco products in your mouth or nose also helps prevent these cancers!)

Iodine’s ability to help your body kill off sick cells, aptosis, and its positive effect on your immune system is the likely reason it actually helps prevent or reverse cancers.

The daily Dietary Reference Intake recommended by the United States Institute of Medicine is Wikipedia’s source for the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for Iodine for adults is 1,100 µg/day (1.1 mg/day).

“The tolerable upper limit was assessed by analyzing the effect of supplementation on thyroid-stimulating hormone.”

This upper limit may be a bit low as many of them are. The Wikipedia article suggests that people in Japan eating their traditional diet may average that much which suggests the real upper limit to be at least twice that high. But there may be individual differences.

“As of 2000, the median intake of iodine from food in the United States was 240 to 300 µg/day for men and 190 to 210 µg/day for women.”

In Japan, consumption is much higher due to the frequent consumption of seaweed or kombu kelp.” The Japanese also eat a lot of seafood.

Taking 150 mcg in a multivitamin and mineral daily supplement plus getting two to seven times that in food sounds likely to be OK for most people. That would range between 450 & 1200 mcg a day of Iodine which is about what people in Japan get. Most adult Americans tend to get 200 to 350 mcg of Iodine now.

All kinds of seaweed including Nori & Kelp & Wakame and most kinds of seafood such as clams, oysters, sardines, herring, mackerel, and tuna tend to be moderately high or high in iodine. (Those seafoods also contain the health supporting omega 3 oils.)

Seaweed is a fat loss aid in two other ways as well. It’s a very low calorie, moderately high fiber, nonstarchy vegetable. The more of those you eat of every kind, the easier it is to be healthy and free of excess bodyfat. (You are filled up and less hungry on almost no calories!)

In addition, seaweed is traditionally a component of soup. Eating soup at a meal is also a proven way to feel satisfied with the amount of food you eat on fewer calories.

Lastly, in people who exercise regularly and eat right, the seaweed Wakame has been found to boost metabolism and to help you lose more visceral and belly fat.

So, to have good thyroid function. taking 500 mg to 1,000 mg a day of tyrosine and 200 mcg a day of selenium and at least the 150 mcg a day of iodine in a multi vitamin plus mineral supplement may make good sense.

And, eating the foods high in iodine also looks like an excellent idea!

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Monday, November 08, 2010

63% of Americans predicted to be fat soon....

Today's Post: Monday, 11-8-2010

Last Thursday, 11-4-2010, Reuters ran a story that a team of researchers at Harvard University said that based on the fact that people with fat friends or acquaintances are more likely to become fat, they predict that people with BMI’s over 30.0 will peak at 42% instead of 34%, about 26% higher.

But when you add the people where although their BMI is under 30.0 the women have waist sizes over 35 inches and the men have waist measurements over 40 inches, closer to 50% of Americans are actually fat right now.

And, 26% higher than that is 63%!

Before 100 years ago and for tens to hundreds of thousands of years ago, hardly anyone was sedentary. Soft drinks did not exist, so no one drank them. Packaged snacks and desserts and fast food and many of the food additives in them did not exist either.

So to the ways our bodies are set by our heredity to operate, absolutely NONE of those things was normal.

In that sense they STILL are not normal.

But, that is no longer the common perception of most Americans. Most children and young people today – and increasingly adults who should know better -- think of soft drinks and packaged snacks and desserts and fast food and many of the food additives in them as normal.

They tend, even the younger kids, to drink more soft drinks than water, milk, or real juice. They think it normal to have two or more packaged snacks or desserts each day.

They tend to watch more than 3 hours a day of TV seven days out of every week.

They go almost everywhere by car instead of walking there.

And, a surprising number get no exercise or extremely little other than that.

Since this is the lifestyle they see advertised on the TV they watch and see people around them following, most of them think this is normal.

And, because of this most of them think it is harmless.

Unfortunately, that is horribly wrong.

Each of these things alone are often harmful if you do them for many years. Doing them all for many years is reliably harmful. And, the medical costs generated are unbelievably high.

It’s pretty simple really, being fat enough to make you less mobile and having it mess up your sex life is NOT fun. But having to pay for drugs, doctor visits, and hospital stays and often not being able to work due to these things, is not only directly harmful to the people it happens to, is economically unsustainable past a certain point.

We’ve already past that point. If we let it get 26% worse instead of making it 100% better by cutting this kind of eating and drinking and lifestyles at least in half instead, this will be one of the anchors dragging down our economy and reducing the number of jobs it can supply.

Do you do any of these things?

If so, you can be dramatically healthier AND less fat, if you stop ASAP!

Do you drink soft drinks?

Not only do both regular and diet soft drinks make you fat, they also help cause heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, and just today it was reported that they make gout more likely too!

And, if you remove the refined grains, sugar, high fructose corn syrup – also to be known possibly as “corn sugar,” and salt and omega 6 oils and hydrogenated oils from packaged snacks, desserts, and fast food, you have very little left over.

These ingredients CAN be made to taste good and they are. But they also do virtually nothing for you other than calories and cause obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and tend to cause cancer.

Do you eat these foods several times a day? You would be dramatically healthier if you only had your favorite ones once or twice a MONTH or less.

Do you watch well over 21 hours a week of TV?

If so, by cutting back to 15 or less or exercising on a treadmill or stationary bike for any hours over 15, you can also be far healthier and less fat.

These changes are no longer what the majority of people do. But if you are doing these things and stop them all, within 2 years and without being any hungrier you can be twenty to seventy pounds less fat.

Not only that, your lifestyle can be very much the same and feel quite normal once you make that switch.

But more than that, unless more of us do this on our own or something huge helps most of us to do this, our bad economy may become very hard to improve.

Paying 10 % of our income for these foods and drinks and another 40% on the extra medical care we then need, leaves very little left over for everything else.

With that kind of drain, buying more clothes or a new car or saving money or investing any becomes extremely difficult or unlikely. There’s simply no money left over for it.

Meanwhile a story broke today that the companies who profit from supplying these things are advertising heavily to children and teens and despite claiming to do less have been doing much more instead.

This is no longer safe or sustainable.

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Friday, November 05, 2010

Good conversations make you happier, smarter, and healthier....

Today's Post: Friday, 11-5-2010

Two recent studies came out in just the last couple of days.

One found that positive and enjoyable conversations strengthened and exercised higher cognitive functions and decision making ability while adversarial ones did not.

Interactive conversations where the people conversing asked each other questions and were responsive to the thoughts and feelings expressed also seemed to help.

The other study found that people who talked about things that interested them personally or interested the person they were speaking with and who talked about important issues tended to be happier and more satisfied with life than people who only talked about less involving issues.

These two studies add to studies showing that people who have good social networks are less likely to get any kind of mental decline, have better health, handle stress better, and feel less stressed.

Other studies have found that people who actively socialize tend to be less likely to get or stay depressed.

And, other studies have found that even though conversation feels easy most of the time, it engages your brain and causes it to work hard as much as solving chess problems or complex academic or work problems.

It seems that people practice it so much from an early age, it feels easy. But you are actually far more skilled and work your brain far more to do it than most people can imagine.

This is clearly one of the reasons that conversations and a strong social network prevent mental decline.

Physical exercise is beneficial and needed to keep your brain in good shape too. But conversation has been shown to be a good direct workout for your brain to keep it in shape.

Here are some tips I’ve found useful for having good conversations.

(I’ve also credited the people I learned them from.)

1. I grew up from when I was born to about age 3 mostly living in my Mom’s home with my Mom, her parents, her grandfather, and her unmarried aunt.

Each of them was bright and liked to talk. They talked to each other when I was there watching. And, they talked to me.

That clearly has made it easier for me to converse with people than it is for many people as I learned the skills at a very young age much the same the way people learn their native language.

But, even if you didn’t grow up with a background like that, you can use the same method!

Just watch the people around you. From time to time you’ll find people who converse well, like to talk, who are clearly bright people, or who talk about things that interest you.

Look for such people. And, when you find them, talk to them and get to know them a bit. You’ll get practice conversing with people who are already good at it; you’ll automatically pick up some skills by seeing them in action; and you’ll acquire even more of the skills too as you do more of conversations with such people.

2. If you learn well from books and don’t hate sales or business, check out or better yet, buy a copy of David Schwartz’s book the Magic of Thinking Big.

It is sales and business oriented. And since it was written in the early to mid 1950’s some of the world he lived in and the examples he used are more than a bit dated.

But his book may be the single best book ever written on the strategy of meeting people, starting conversations, and having good things happen by “thinking right towards people.”

If you think of reasons why you like someone or respect their strengths or interests you share with them or those ways that you are alike and simply turn off or never turn on the reverse of these, your conversation with them and your relationship with them will be better. It will be dramatically better with some people and possible at all with others if you do this.

He learned these skills from his Mom. He found they worked well in business and when he used them he got good results. He also saw how badly things went for people who didn’t use them or know them – and for those who did the reverse instead!

If you read his book and practice his skills as I have, you’ll be able to meet people well most of the time and converse well.

3. Social scientists also have found that asking people questions, particularly about things that interest them, being quickly responsive to what they say, and making encouraging sounds or rewarding remarks are very powerful skills.

Comments such as: “Oh really!” “Hmmn” “OK” “Got it.” “Exactly right.” and “Precisely so.” are very brief but enormously powerful. Learn to use them well and you will benefit in dozens of ways.

Saying something brief in a friendly way and then asking them a related and short question in a friendly way that they need to think about a bit to answer and cannot be answered yes or no is also very involving. How do you handle that? What are your views on that? and similar questions are not long to ask and if you volunteer something first and are friendly in how you ask, you usually get a good response.

I even met a man once who taught me something very valuable.

What if you run across someone you remember and even liked but you have totally forgotten their name?

Here’s what he did: As soon as he saw me, he smiled and said, “It’s really good to see you again.”

By starting on this positive note, our conversation went well and he was able to learn why I was there to see him and to re-learn my name without any strain or effort.

4. Learn what things you converse well with the people you speak to and what things don’t seem to work. Value them and enjoy speaking to them for those things. But see them less if they ask for more than you are comfortable with. And, forgive them and don’t push it, if you find they are uncomfortable with some things you’d like more of from them that don’t work for them.

The writer who goes by the pen name Michael Masterson wrote an essay on this. He found that he has many kinds of friends and when both he and they did this, the conversation and the friendship went well even if it only had certain areas where it went well. But if either he or his friend asked for things the other was not comfortable with and persisted, it tended to end the conversation and the friendship.

The key thing to remember is that positive conversations on subjects you or the person you are speaking with like or think important will make you smarter, happier, and healthier.

And, the more often you do this, the better at it you get and the better it works.

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