Monday, January 31, 2011

Simple way to slash depression risk....

Today's Post: Monday, 1-31-2011

Tuesday, 1-25, last week we revisited the 6 ways that done together were tested to have a 75% rate of improving to curing depression – using NO drugs.

Today, we have documentation that also including a seventh and surprisingly forceful method may jump that improvement rate to the 83 to 95% range.

Even better, it can cut your risk of becoming depressed by over 58 %.

The two studies done on this were on related foods.

1. Researchers in London found that eating a diet of processed and fatty foods such as hot dogs, sausage, pie, and cakes increased the risk for depression. In that study, people who often ate fried food, processed meat, high-fat dairy products, and sweetened desserts had a 58 percent higher risk of depression than those who ate “whole” foods such as fish and vegetables.

And, on Wednesday, Jan 26, 2011, last week AFP had this story that was on a very similar theme: “Bad eating can give you depression: study.”

That Spanish study found that eating foods high in trans-fats increased the risk of depression. In fact, compared with people who simply avoided eating trans fats and hydrogenated oils they were 48% more likely to be depressed.

For people who ate a lot of trans fats, the risk was greater and greater the more they commonly at!

In contrast, these same researchers found that eating olive oil, which is high in mono saturated omega-9 fatty acids, the risk cut the risk of several kinds of mental illness.

Clearly eating olive oil instead of trans fats and instead of oils high in omega 6 is an excellent way to go.

(Olive oil also has been found to make Alzheimer’s disease less likely and lower the risk of heart disease.)

This seventh way also fits the model of eating the way people did before about 100 years ago as reducing depression.

Soft drinks both diet and regular, packaged desserts, and snacks – and other foods containing trans fats are best avoided to avoid depression according to this information.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Blood pressure drug popular with doctors a mediocre choice....

Today's Post: Friday, 1-28-2011

1. Taking drugs to lower high blood pressure is what doctors should only advise as a poor second choice to doing things to lower high blood pressure that help to reverse its causes without drugs.

There are three exceptions. People who are only marginally health oriented and who simply won’t do the protective first choice step at all. People at unusually high risk such as those who have had previous strokes or heart attacks. And, people who have blood pressures well over 160 over 100 or who still do after a month or so using the first choice step.

The real reason to take blood pressure drugs is not just to make your doctor feel like he or she is doing their job; but to prevent strokes, senility, kidney disease, heart attacks and death – in you!

a) Going on the DASH II diet or a very vegetable heavy & minimal grain version of the Mediterranean diet that also limits salt AND discontinuing packaged foods, soft drinks, and most fast food tends to prevent strokes, senility, kidney disease, heart attacks and death. It also is proven to lower high blood pressure.

It’s something that should ALWAYS be tried first before considering blood pressure drugs AND used if drugs are indicated because of truly high blood pressure of over 160 over 100.

b) Regular moderate and carefully done vigorous exercise done several times every week helps prevent strokes, senility, kidney disease, heart attacks and death. It also slows aging and tends to improve your sex life instead of ruining it. It also is proven to lower high blood pressure. People who exercise 4 or 5 days a week even have lower blood pressure those days than on the 2 or 3 days they don’t exercise.

Regular exercise is something that should ALWAYS be tried first before considering blood pressure drugs AND used if drugs are indicated because of truly high blood pressure of over 160 over 100. It is true that people with high blood pressure should be careful to start slowly and build up the amount of exercise and its intensity slowly and include some brief rest breaks.

Such exercise is something that should ALWAYS be tried first before considering blood pressure drugs AND used if drugs are indicated because of truly high blood pressure of over 160 over 100.

(Note that people who have not been doing these first two things who upgrade their lifestyles to always do them will often lose enough fat weight and keep it off to significantly lower their blood pressure.)

c) Smoking or second hand exposure to tobacco smoke even in people without high blood pressure always works to cause strokes, senility, kidney disease, heart attacks and death from those things – in you! Everyone who is exposed to tobacco smoke gets this effect – NOT just some of the people. And, tobacco smoke has also been found to trigger heart attacks in people who would otherwise have escaped having them.

(Tobacco smoke also causes about 30 % of all cancers and about 25 % of all heavy smokers get lung cancer. And smoking speeds up aging. But compared to what it does to CAUSE high blood pressure, strokes, senility, kidney disease, heart attacks and death from those things, the cancer and speeded aging are the LITTLE problem of smoking!)

Everyone who has high blood pressure should be helped to quit smoking and avoid second hand smoke before considering blood pressure drugs AND used if drugs are indicated because of truly high blood pressure of over 160 over 100.

d) Some supplements, notably the ubiquinol form of CoQ10, magnesium, and some others all taken together lower high blood pressure about as much as an effective blood pressure drug. They have other health benefits and both directly and from lowering high blood pressure that tend to prevent strokes, senility, kidney disease, heart attacks and death. Even better they do not have the side effects that make people feel sick or harm them in other ways or ruin their sex lives that many blood pressure drugs DO have.

All of these four things should ALWAYS be tried first before considering blood pressure drugs AND used if drugs are indicated because of truly high blood pressure of over 160 over 100 even after doing them.

When these four steps are taken, most people will get the protection they actually need without any drugs for high blood pressure.

And, if their blood pressure started out well above 160 over 100 or remained there, they will be dramatically better protected by doing these four things AND taking blood pressure drugs. In addition, their blood pressure will be lower from doing these four things AND drugs than just using the drugs would have achieved.

So unless these four steps are addressed, ANY blood pressure drug is a mediocre choice for most people.

2. Given part 1, if blood pressure drugs ARE still needed, which drugs should be tried first?

It seems that the drug most doctors have been using for this a mediocre choice.

Last Monday, 1-24, Reuters Health posted an article titled:

“World's top blood pressure drug gets failing mark.” .

In a review of earlier studies, researchers found this drug, hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic, lowered blood pressure by only about half as much as common alternatives such as beta blockers and ACE inhibitors.

They found that the low doses of hydrochlorothiazide commonly used reduced systolic blood pressure by 6.5 points. (Systolic is the larger number listed first in blood pressure readings.)

ACE, inhibitors lowered systolic blood pressure by 12.9 points, beta blockers by 11.2, and calcium-channel blockers by 11.

(Many people have bad side effects with beta blockers and I saw a study reported that said they tended to give less real protection despite lowering blood pressure than other kinds of blood pressure drugs.)

While higher doses of hydrochlorothiazide were more effective, one of the researchers noted that were a bad idea due to the increase in blood sugar and insulin problems such higher does of this drug tends to cause. And, since such problems tend to cause heart disease, such higher doses defeat the purpose of real protection and health improvement

In addition, hydrochlorothiazide appears to be particularly weak during the night. "We know that nighttime blood pressure and early-morning blood pressure are very important risk factors for strokes and heart attacks," he said.

(Their source was: JACC/Journal of the American College of Cardiology, online January 24, 2011.)

Diuretics also have other problems. They may be a bad idea for people getting the recommended exercise during hot weather as they can help cause dehydration and even heat stroke. Many people who take diuretics are older men who already have problems having to urinate often enough when going places or sleeping that it’s a problem due to BPH, or enlarged prostate. Adding a diuretic to make this worse is not a great idea. Lastly, though diuretics due remove excess sodium, they also remove potassium, magnesium, calcium, and other water soluble nutrients. This lessens their blood pressure lowering effect and can cause health problems.

Some ACE inhibitors and in some people and in some dosages cause an unstoppable dry cough. But since the right kind of ACE inhibitor for a particular person at the right dose may not do this and ACE inhibitors tested as most effective in this study -- working with your doctor to achieve this outcome may be well worth doing if you do need to take a drug for your high blood pressure.

It’s also worth noting that the supplements, hawthorn and celery seed extract act as ACE inhibitors and have no side effects. So using them instead of the drugs or WITH a lower dose of the ACE inhibitors may produce a good result without the dry cough or other side effects ACE inhibitors have in some people.

Calcium channel blockers and the drug Amlodipine in particular have been tested as preventing all or part of the early morning surge in blood pressure that can trigger heart attacks etc.

Some people have relatively more side effects with these than others. But here again, there are different drugs in this category and, particularly, at lower doses they may work decently without a lot of side effects.

Also, taking 400 to 800 mg a day of magnesium as a supplement in people who are NOT also taking milk of magnesia for constipation tends to act as a calcium channel blocker, prevent constipation, and has other health benefits.

So, taking magnesium instead of a calcium channel blocker or WITH a lower dose of a calcium channel blocker may produce a good result without the side effects calcium channel blockers have in some people.

ARB blood pressure drugs were not included in this study and recently WERE in a study suggesting they might increase cancer a bit. But they do lower blood pressure and tend to have few side effects. So, particularly for people who are nonsmokers and avoid second hand smoke and are eating right as described here and so have a much lower risk of cancer, adding a low dose ARB as a third drug may make sense when needed.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Life Lessons from a Master....

Today's Post: Thursday, 1-27-2011

The physical fitness and healthy living advocate and pioneer Jack LaLanne died last Sunday at age 96.

And, he might easily have lived a few years longer had he escaped the two things that caused his death.

But the most important thing to take away from this is not only how long he lived.:

For starters, he lived 20 years longer than the current median expected lifespan for average men and about 10 years longer than men who are nonsmokers and in the top ten percent of being financially well off.

But there is much more.

He was literally 100 % still there mentally the whole 96 years. He was still himself and enjoying conversations with his family up until the day he died. And, he had written something for publication only a few days before.

He also worked out and exercised up to a few months before he died.

In short, his real and enjoyable and high quality life was the whole 96 years!

The average American today begins to be limited physically as much as 20 years before he dies with physical inability, reductions in circulation, degenerative disease, and poor quality of life from those conditions and the side effects of the drugs he takes. Jack’s real and enjoyable and high quality life was FORTY years longer! And, many of the few average men who live past age 76 tend to suffer from some kind of mental decline and are no longer all there mentally.

And, most men who are nonsmokers and in the top ten percent of being financially well off tend to begin to be limited physically as much as 10 years before they die with physical inability, reductions in circulation, degenerative disease and poor quality of life from those conditions and the side effects of the drugs they take. And, many of these men who live past age 86, tend to suffer from some kind of mental decline and are no longer all there mentally.

How on earth did he manage to do all that?

Those are the lessons of a real life master.

Mercifully they are not complicated or impossible to do.

He found that sugary packaged foods and drinks were making him fat, irritable, and feeling awful as a teenager. Then he heard a Paul Bragg lecture that avoiding those things and eating abundant organic fruit and vegetables much of it uncooked might help him feel dramatically better and likely to stay that way. He completely both got rid of the junk food and soft drinks and did eat far more organic fruit and vegetables much of it uncooked. (Later, he also added eating wild caught fish and rarely if ever ate meat. Over the years, that saved him from the effects of eating fat from grain fed animals &, before there were supplements for it, kept his omega 3 intake high.)

He found that stopping bad food and eating right worked. He felt dramatically better. He became less fat. And, he was also dramatically less irritable.

About that time, he also discovered that regular, vigorous exercise of all kinds and strength training by lifting weights every week had a similar effect.

So, he decided to keep doing that also.

But he also realized most of the people around him did not yet know these two key things.

So he began teaching people and motivating them to do what he was doing.

The people who listened to him and took his advice got similar results.

Not long ago, I think on his 95th birthday, the San Francisco Chronicle ran an article about Jack LaLanne and in that article they quoted several of his former students who were also older. They all were so glad they had taken his advice. They spoke of when they met friends the same age who had not done so who had horrible quality of life, or degenerative diseases – or when they went to their funerals. Meanwhile they were still alive and had decent lives. They realized they were able to because they took Jack LaLanne’s advice.

Scott Ostler, a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle Sports page did a column on Jack LaLanne on Tuesday this week. He noted that Jack’s mental attitude was unusually good. (He clearly was at the top of Martin Seligman’s optimism measure.) From early in his career he was outgoing and enthusiastic.

And, when Scott Ostler once asked Jack if he didn’t get discouraged that sometimes he was fighting a losing battle from the people who didn’t know what Jack knew or listen to him, Jack immediately said, “I never think about that. I think about things I can improve.” He also spent his time doing something constructive about the things he could improve. He was unusually proactive.

He also had a sense of humor and was fond of getting people’s attention or making them think by using it.

And, he was skilled at asking similar questions. When he ran his first gym, he would call people who had missed a couple of sessions and say, “How can I help you if you aren’t here?!”

Then, in addition to eating right, exercising, and developing positive and productive thinking skills, he found a woman who was a good fit for him and his lifestyle. He married her and then made a very strong and effective effort to treat her unusually well.

1. Stop eating and drinking junk. Eat good quality real food instead. Do both every day and keep doing it.

2. Get regular vigorous exercise including strength training virtually every week.

3. Learn and practice positive and proactive thinking skills.

4. Find someone as a life partner who is a good fit for you and treat that person unusually well.

Those four things are not that complicated really.

But, my God, look at the results they get!

Ten to 20 years more life and 20 to 40 years more life worth living.

These are the lessons of a life master.

Do please consider doing likewise!

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Natural Depression cures revisited....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 1-25-2011

The best track record for helping people stop being depressed and that works more reliably and faster than drugs is available to you in book form. It was found to have a real cure rate of 75%.

It uses no drugs and only two supplements. And, no drug ever tested works as fast or comes anywhere near that track record in effectiveness.

It’s The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs - Paperback (June 1, 2010) by Stephen S. Ilardi PhD

You can go to today & buy the paperback for a bit less than $10 before shipping and/or fast delivery charges.

If depression is an issue for you, read this post AND buy his book! His method is effective enough that you’ll be glad you did.

This post has two parts, my quick revisit of his 6 steps and the second part has some information on how to upgrade one of them that I just discovered.

I. Dr Ilardi noted that Paleolithic peoples and those with similar life styles in modern times did NOT get depressed. He decided to simulate some key parts of their lifestyle with depressed people to see if it might help.

He did and it works.

1. They got lots of sunshine. For people who don’t get lots of sunshine or spend much time outdoors, taking 2,000 to 5,000 iu a day of vitamin D3 did help depressed people, particularly those with SAD which many people get in the winter when there is less sun. Most people today get less sun all year, so they likely will do better taking the supplements all year. (People who get lots of sunshine outside routinely get well over 20,000 iu of vitamin D3 a day from doing so. 5,000 iu sounds like a lot. But this comparison shows it is far closer to a minimum daily amount than a high amount!)

2. As we noted yesterday, people then took in about the same amount of omega 3 and omega 6 oils instead of a quarter that much omega 3 and four times that much omega 6 producing 16 times as much omega 6 as omega 3 as the average person does now who does not know how to avoid it. (We covered that in our post yesterday in part noting that you will have better health in many ways if you sharply limit your omega 6 intake and boost your omega 3 intake.)

Dr Ilardi had people take omega 3 supplements to see if they did get less depressed and it helped. He also found some omega 3 supplements worked better than others.

Having people eat in a way that also dramatically limits omega 6 oils also fits his model. But I don’t recall or know if he also did that.

The new information at the end of this post, has some strong evidence that this does help and helps very, very effectively.

3. People also exercised dramatically more in those times. They got more moderate activity every day as they walked everywhere they went. And, they got more varied and vigorous exercise every week as well.

Other people have found that those who exercise become less depressed and that this works faster and as well as one of the more effective antidepressant drugs.

In fact, we did a post on that. With anything that reduces your quality of life, it’s a LOT easier to deal with if you can cut yourself a break from it from time to time. If you do vigorous exercise to the level that you have to pay attention and focus on doing it, you no longer are focused on being depressed and for that time, you literally are not. It is temporary. But it provides a way to almost instantly give yourself a break from being depressed.

4. One of the ways that this happens is that it stops you from ruminating about your problems instead of ignoring them or doing something that might solve them.

Dr Ilardi found that using exercise and talk therapy to both stop this kind of ruminating and replace it with more productive ways of thinking also helped to stop depression.

(Dr Martin Seligman’s work on the fact that his mentally healthy and “optimistic” people used a very scientific and analytical way of thinking about things that go wrong is a superb model for the kind of thinking that replaces this kind of stuck in bad times rumination produces.

People who learn the style of Dr Seligman’s optimistic people become less depressed. And people who get used to always using that thinking style rarely get or stay depressed after that.

For example, if something goes wrong, even if you made a mistake to produce it or it had very bad effects, there were specific reasons it went wrong. Some of these won’t happen at other times and, having learned from this experience, some you can prevent next time. This is accurate, reality based thinking. And, it allows you to understand that next time CAN be better or the problem can be prevented.

Depressed people don’t do that. They decide without looking at the evidence that it will always happen in the future. No wonder they tend to get and stay depressed.

5. People then and now who socialize often in small groups tend not to get depressed. But many people who are depressed are isolated to begin with or stay away from other people after they get depressed.

Dr Ilardi found that reversing that also tended to reverse the depression. So he had people volunteer in ways they cared about or using skills they were already good at or take an in person class they were interested in at a community college or spend just a bit more time more often with friends and with family they got along with. The people who did this got less depressed.

6. Get more and better sleep is his sixth step.

This one is harder for many people to do because of the demands on their time.

But there are some fixes that do work that may work for you.

Getting regular exercise on most days even if only for a few minutes produces better sleep and taking a much shorter time to fall asleep than is true for totally sedentary people.

During the workweek, from Sunday night to Friday morning, try to get up each day at the exact same time and do the best you can to be in bed by at least 6 hours before that time.

Do what you can to keep light out of your bedroom when you are sleeping. The darker it is, the better your sleep quality will be and the easier it will be to fall asleep.

Watch less than 15 hours of TV a week; & if something you want to watch enough to include in what you do watch is on after your bed time, unless it is breaking news of considerable importance, record it and watch it earlier in the day. Some people lose sleep to watch TV, these two strategies will minimize that.

II. Last week the emails I get from the Natural Health Dossier had some information from a researcher at Harvard showing that dramatically limiting omega 6 oils and supplementing with omega 3 did help depression.

This researcher also found that people who did not become less depressed at first from doing so quite often did when they simply added more omega 3 oils.

Here is some of the information from their article.:

A Harvard four-month study headed by Dr. Andrew Stoll found big gains in mood without drugs or medication by using omega 3 supplements with omega 6 cut-backs.

One Boston man who was in one of these studies is so happy with his results that he ditched his antidepressants and is sticking with omega 3 instead.

He said, "I'm fine today. Not only do I not feel blue, but [if depressed feelings] come, I am able to handle them."

Modern diets have become increasingly deficient in omega 3 which likely at least partly explains the huge increase in depression rates during the last 50 years.

Dr. Stoll has continued working with people who took the omega 3 supplements.

"I still see these people," says Dr. Stoll. "All continue to take omega-3 supplements. In my practice, I am in favor of it, so I advise people to take it."

The article goes on to say that plenty of research and medical experts support Dr. Stoll's work.

Joseph Hibbeln, MD, is the Chief of the Laboratory of Clinical Studies for the National Institutes of Health in Maryland said there's a direct link between omega 3 deficiency and depression.

"One hundred years ago we were eating much closer to our paleolithic diet," says Dr, Hibbeln. "We didn't have mass production of corn and soybeans or hydrogenation. But in the past 100 years, the balance of omega 6s to omega 3s has changed,"

The article adds:

“Our grandparents ate a diet that was high in omega 3 and low in omega 6. Dozens of studies show this ratio is vital to good health.

We grow seed oils, such as corn and soybeans," says Dr. Hibbeln. "And they have much higher ratios of omega 6s to omega 3s. Corn oil, for example, has a ratio of about 74 or 75 omega 6s to one omega 3."
Over the 100 years that our diets have reversed this ratio, depression rates have skyrocketed.

As further proof that omega 3 is critical to our mental health, countries that have high fish consumption have much lower rates of depression.

Dr. Myrna Weissman - an epidemiologist at Yale University - published related data in the Journal of the American Medical Association. "Dr. Weissman is recognized as the world's [leading] expert in psychiatric epidemiology," says Dr. Hibbeln. "The quality of the data is the gold standard."

Dr. Weissman's research showed that people in countries with low depression rates ate much more fish than those in countries with high depression rates.

So how much omega 3 should you be getting?

"I start patients on one gram of EPA per day," says Dr. Stoll. "I go up on the dosage until an effect is seen on mood. I usually do not have to exceed six grams of EPA per day."

X * X* X* X*

My strong belief is that people who use all six of Dr Ilardi’s steps particularly including closer to 5,000 iu of D3 a day or more instead of less; learn Dr Seligman’s thinking style of optimistic people for when things go wrong; do the best they can on sleep and socializing; and who get abundant moderate and vigorous exercise each week will be far less depressed.

If they also completely avoid the oils high in omega 6 such as corn and soy and safflower and canola; eat less meat and far less fat from animals fed grains like corn and soy; and who take omega 3 supplements such as purified fish oil and DHA from algae, and eat wild caught fish high in omega 3 but low in mercury, virtually all depressed people other than those who have physical brain damage or Post Traumatic Stress disorder will stop being depressed.

Since taking more than a gram of omega 3 supplements a day can cause extra bleeding, working harder to cut omega 6 if you need more of an effect likely is a superior first step if you need more effect than taking a gram a day. But it’s nice to know that taking more omega 3 has been shown to help if you need it.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Be healthier and less fat and save money too, part 2....

Today's Post: Monday, 1-24-2011

One of the health related emails I get is from the fat loss guru Jillian Michaels. Thursday last week she did a 10 foods to avoid list.

If you avoid all 10 of these drinks, foods, and food ingredients, you will be far less fat. (Most people who eat and drink these who have been doing it for many years will lose over 25 pounds of fat within 12 months of doing so.)

You will be dramatically healthier, feel better, and have far lower health care costs for decades after giving up these things.

And, since you will stop buying close to 70 % of the dollar cost most Americans spend at the grocery store, you will very likely net out some savings. Even after buying some real food to replace these things after her family gave them up, one woman local to me wound up saving two or three hundred dollars a month.

Even better, this post and the one from last Friday, 1-21-2011, together have Jillian Michaels’ 10 items-- and two more from me that didn’t make her list.

First her ten:

Last Friday we covered her first 5:

1. Trans fats were listed first.

2. She listed shortening second.

3. Refined grains such as white flour, most pasta, and white rice were in her third group.

4. High fructose corn syrup is on her list.

5. Artificial sweeteners were her fifth item.

6. She listed the preservatives, sodium and potassium benzoate next. It seems that when they meet vitamin C or possibly citric acid from fruit or other sources they release the benzene in their molecules and may cause or help cause cancer and thyroid disease. Besides reading labels and avoiding most packaged snacks and desserts, the best way to avoid these is to drink absolutely no soft drinks as these most commonly contain these preservatives.

7. She listed the preservative BHA just after that. It seems it is an endocrine disruptor. The hormones that it can disrupt could cause sex problems, pregnancy problems in women, fertility problems in both sexes, difficulty losing fat and its weight, and possibly help cause type 2 diabetes.

Note that fresh and frozen and even most canned foods avoid the preservatives in # 6 & 7.

8. Sodium nitrates and sodium nitrites were listed next. They may cause colon cancer she says. And, the meats in which they were used were recently tested as being much more likely to cause heart disease than the same meat without these and other preservatives.

Whole Foods sells bacon to cook yourself that does not contain these. Otherwise, it would make sense to minimize foods like bacon, sausage, hot dogs, lunch meat, and salami that do contain these. Eating them once or twice a month or even less is likely much safer than several times a week and almost every week.

9. Do not consume foods or drinks with artificial colors was next. Soft drinks and foods for children the marketers are trying to make look eye catching often have these. She says that some of the most common blue, red, green, and yellow artificial colors may cause several kinds of cancer.

It doesn’t help that many of these items have little in them besides sugar or high fructose corn syrup or refined grains besides. So, this is something to pay special attention to if you have children living at home.

10. MSG, monosodium glutamate, was her item number 10. It may be harmful to the brains of some people. Dr Blaylock calls it an excitotoxin. What has been proven recently is that MSG is a proven fattener. The more of it is in your food the fatter you will be.

It is very difficult to avoid in packaged and canned foods since it often is not listed as MSG but listed instead with names like autolyzed yeast or processed soy protein or even “spices.” In fact, many spice blends and most mustard brands likely contain it.

I’d like to see it become illegal to put it in a food, spice blend, or drink without disclosing that it IS MSG and how much in mg there is per stated serving.

Note that other glutamates are in packaged foods. And they are likely also better avoided. So if a packaged food lists any kind of glutamate, they are trying to make the food’s taste addictive, just like nicotine in tobacco. So, if you see that on the label, it may be wise to not buy or ingest it!

The two she leaves out that I will contribute are sodium and omega 6 oils.

11. Sodium is OK in small amounts. Up to 1500 mg a day seems safe as that’s the guideline for the DASH II diet that lowers blood pressure even in people who start out with normal blood pressure as well as those with blood pressure that start out with it too high.

Salt does add a kind of warmth to the flavor of savory foods. There are many other spices you can use instead. But sometimes a bit of salt too doubles the enjoyment of eating that food.

Unfortunately, many if not, most Americans get about 3 times that amount of sodium because they routinely eat foods that add salt ahead of time or which you wouldn’t expect it to be in. Some of this is for flavor and some of it is because salt can be a preservative.

The best way to avoid getting excessive salt is to always read labels on cans and any kind of packaged food.

Eat more foods such as meat or fish you cook yourself and then only add the amount of salt you need just as you eat them.

It also helps to eat more raw and steamed vegetables and whole fresh fruit as these contain potassium which enables your body to balance sodium without it causing as many problems and allows you to have some salt safely.

Plus these foods taste good or can taste good without added salt.

12. Minimize your omega 6 oil intake.

Our ancestors ate about as many omega 3 oils as omega 6 oils. People who limit omega 6 oils quite strictly by comparison to the average person and who eat wild caught fish from safe kinds and locations and take omega 3 from purified fish oil have much better health, better heart health, and tend to have much more comfortable and health producing levels of inflammation.

The people who take in 16 times as much omega 6 oils as omega 3 oils or more by doing neither of these things have enough more inflammation to be much more likely to get heart disease and many kinds of cancers. They are also more likely to get osteoarthritis or have any they get otherwise be more painful. They are also more likely to get some kind of mental decline. In addition to increasing inflammation, omega 6 oils lower your protective HDL level in your blood.

Extra virgin olive oil has very little omega 6 oils. It has monosaturated oil or omega 9 oil instead. This is one of the most important reasons why the Mediterranean Diet has such a good health track record in several categories.

The less expensive vegetable oils that are in so many foods that add some kind of oil such as soy oil, corn oil, safflower oil, and even canola oil are all quite high in omega 6 oil.

In addition, fats from animals fed grain and are so high in omega 6 that most people may get a majority of their omega 6 from this source. That’s one of the most important reasons why eating many of your meals where nuts, beans or lentils, or wild caught fish instead of meat; eating meat from animals fed only grass, and the like provide the protein protects your health. It’s also very likely the most important reason why eating the leanest and most fat removed version of beef, chicken, and dairy products tends to have a good health track record.

(Canola oil does have some plant based omega 3 oils. But fish or algae based omega 3 oils are more effective in lowering inflammation and producing good health. And, eating walnuts is a far more health and heart protective way to get these plant based omega 3 oils than canola oil. And canola oils are from virtually 100 % genetic modified plants. So, canola oil is likely a bit less harmful and better for you than oils like soy or corn oil. But it still makes sense to minimize how much you eat because it is still quite high in omega 6 oils.)

If you are not familiar with why you should avoid omega 6 oils it may seem a bit over the top to you since things like soy oil are in so many foods still. But avoiding them is extremely powerful.

If you want less of a chance of getting cancer, heart disease, mental decline, and bothersome pain, please consider avoiding omega 6 oils!

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Be healthier and less fat and save money too....

Today's Post: Friday, 1-21-2011

One of the health related emails I get is from the fat loss guru Jillian Michaels. Yesterday she did a10 foods to avoid list.

If you avoid all 10 of these drinks, foods, and food ingredients, you will be far less fat. (Most people who eat and drink these who have been doing it for many years will lose over 25 pounds of fat within 12 months of doing so.)

You will be dramatically healthier, feel better, and have far lower health care costs for decades after giving up these things.

And, since you will stop buying close to 70 % of the dollar cost most Americans spend at the grocery store, you will very likely net out some savings. Even after buying some real food to replace these things after her family gave them up, one woman local to me wound up saving two or three hundred dollars a month.

Even better, this post has Jillian Michaels’ 10 items-- and two more from me that didn’t make her list.

First her ten:

1. Trans fats were listed first.

(She included palm oil in this on her email. I find that odd. The saturated fat it does have may not be that bad for you as it’s from a plant source; and palm oil does not need the hydrogenating that causes trans fats since it already has saturated fat. In fact, it may be a better choice than butter when high heat is used and is far better than using a hydrogenated oil that does have transfats.)

But she is spectacularly correct in listing trans fats from hydrogenating vegetable oils as harmful. Studies found it directly causes heart disease by sharply increasing the small particle LDL that creates plaque -- eventually closing off your circulation -- by sticking itself into the walls of your blood vessels. In plain language trans fats and the artificially hydrogenated oils that contain them are heart attack starters.

Some people say to eat less or keep your consumption somewhat low. I think that’s ridiculous.

How much heart attack starter do you want to eat when you can avoid most of it voluntarily? None at all makes better sense to me!

Don’t patronize restaurants that cannot tell you what fry oil they use or which use hydrogenated oils. Always read labels. And, if the trans fat section has any number higher than zero or ANY hydrogenated oils at all show up as an ingredient, do NOT buy it or eat it or serve it to people you care about.

(The zero reading can be fudged since it can mean up to half a gram of trans fats per serving and this is often done when most people eat 3 to 6 servings. That can mean 1.5 to 3 grams of trans fat if you eat that food. How to avoid that trans fat? Simply follow the second half of the rule and avoid the food if it has any of the hydrogenated oil. If it has any amount of hydrogenated oil, it HAS trans fats!)

Packaged desserts, particularly cookies, quite often contain this stuff. Some microwave popcorn does too. Most margarine contains it. And, you will occasionally find it in what should be real foods such as bread and ice cream. I was shocked to find that the label revealed that what used to be my favorite canned chili had 3 grams of trans fats per serving as yet another example. (I no longer buy it!)

2. She listed shortening second. In a way that doesn’t quite fit as a separate item since shortening is close to 100 % trans fat!

But its use is enough different that I agree with her it should be listed separately.
It is used in different kinds of foods and those often do not have labels.

Commercially baked pies use it in their crusts instead of butter or palm or coconut oil. Most biscuits are made using it. And, I believe it very likely that all fast food pastry such as croissants are made using it.

(Now you know why, despite my love for pie and pie crusts, I no longer eat pie crusts even at Thanksgiving unless I know for certain that butter was used to make the crust.)

>>> Bonus for NOT eating foods from the first two things to avoid: The things that have trans fats usually also have refined grains and either sugar or high fructose corn syrup added. By taking a pass, you will wind up being much less fat in addition to having a much healthier heart and better circulation!

3. Refined grains such as white flour, most pasta, and white rice were in her third group. These foods deliver very little real nutrition and are quite low in fiber. They make you fat by the response your body has for the blood sugar spike you get when you eat them and because you add calories without turning off your hunger very well due to their low fiber content. In many people, if this goes on too often for too long, they get type 2 diabetes.

In addition, like excessive sugar and trans fats, they tend to sharply increase your triglycerides and heart attack risk.

(She did not include baked white potato or food made from white potatoes.

She also did not include whole wheat pasta, 100 % whole grain bread, or brown rice. She also did not include barley or quinoa. These foods do have fiber and much more nutrition. Some of them also spike your blood sugar less. But they do spike blood sugar too much.

So, you have some ways to deal with these. Eat them less often – once or twice a week instead of each day -- or maybe not at all if you are trying to lose fat.

And, if you do eat them, only do so with moderate or small servings; and add some health OK oils or protein to the dish to slow the blood sugar spike you would get otherwise.

4. High fructose corn syrup is on her list. The most common version used only has somewhat more fructose than sugar. But the average person now gets a huge amount of high fructose corn syrup. Jillian Michaels quoted a source that it is the single largest source of calories in the diet of the average person. So, consuming it reliably overdoses people with fructose causing obesity and heart disease from the boost it gives to your triglyceride levels.

Worse, high fructose corn syrup is used in regular soft drinks which add calories without making you less hungry and then make you MORE hungry when your blood sugar crashes after the blood sugar spike they cause is done. Such soft drinks are literally the perfect fattener!

One study estimated that for every daily serving of regular soft drinks you stop drinking, you’ll wind up carrying 15 pounds less fat!

In addition, one recent sampling found that 30% to a third of foods and drinks that contained high fructose corn syrup contained mercury also! (One way to make high fructose corn syrup leaves a mercury residue in it.) Many well consumed brand name foods including one I used to like and buy had mercury from the high fructose corn syrup they used.)

So, you will be far less fat if you never buy or ingest the stuff or foods or drinks containing it. You will also lower you risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

(The manufacturers are trying to get permission to call high fructose corn syrup, corn sugar since that sounds more natural and will fool some people into thinking they aren’t getting high fructose corn syrup.)

5. Artificial sweeteners.

There is reason to believe many of these are harmful to some people, particularly when used for a long time. Sucralose or Splenda contains a chlorine atom. Nerve gasses and pesticides are carbon based molecules with chlorine atoms added. I’d prefer not to eat it, thanks. Others have seemed linked with causing a form of MS or some cancers. The manufacturers say they are safe and they are certainly far less harmful than some things. But I think the prudent thing to do is to take a pass.

Jillian Michaels didn’t even include that. It seems that ingesting artificial sweeteners makes sweet things taste less sweet and increasing your craving for sweets. This combo is so effective in most people that close to everyone who drinks diet soft drinks winds up as fat as if the were drinking regular soft drinks. And, their health markers show the same damage!

This one is a huge problem. One source I saw said that 60 of all Americans drink diet soft drinks. Between that and the people who drink regular soft drinks, it’s small wonder that half of Americans today are too fat. Eliminating both regular and diet soft drinks would cut that problem in half or more.

If you don’t want to be too fat, don’t drink ANY soft drinks!

At this point, I still have 5 of her items to go and my two and I’m out of time today.

Those will be in my next post.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Two possible solutions to too much sitting time...

Today's Post: Thursday, 1-20-2011

Our post last Friday, 1-14 was about the health harms from sitting too many hours each week which most of us do both at work and at home.

Too much sitting seems to help cause heart disease and the CRP inflammation that is a major cause of heart disease. It also tends to help cause obesity and type 2 diabetes.

In that post we had some potential solutions:

1. Program in several walks a week.

2. Make a very strong effort to watch TV for way fewer hours than most people do. (TV watching is the worst kind of sitting.)

3. Reliably program in many breaks from doing it when you have to sit for hours. That post has some ideas on how to do that that work for me.

4. And, each week, do more exercise in addition to the walking, particularly interval cardio and strength training.

Then on Tuesday this week, 1-18, HealthDay News had this story online:

“More Evidence That TV, Computer Time Could Harm Heart.”

It seems that a new study reported that too many hours a week sitting in front of a TV or computer screen, which they called, “screen time," is linked to signs that your heart needs longer to recover from exercise, an indication of poor heart health after doing eight-minute exercise treadmill tests.

And, the researchers who did the study who were from the Cardiovascular Center at National Taiwan University Hospital noted that same thing happens in people who didn't exercise much or at all.

In fact, recovering more quickly from exercise is a marker for cardio vascular fitness.

1. But that strongly suggests that the kind of vigorous exercise that makes you fit which actually works best when done in a few more intense sessions than in a longer, slow session might strongly combat too much screen time.

So, doing some kind of interval cardio sessions 3 or 4 times each week likely is one way to combat the worst effects of too much TV or total “screen time” each week.

That means besides the taking the extra breaks and pruning back the amount of TV watching, interval cardio may be one of the best ways to do this.

Dr Al Sears’ PACE program is one of several ways to do this. You can do interval cardio on a NordicTrack or in short sessions of jumping rope or an a minitrampoline such as the Urban Rebounder. These sessions can be done in as little as 10 minute per session. You can even alternate very brisk walking with normal walking speed on a walk as a kind of interval cardio.

2. The second way to combat too much sitting time is to do the set of things that prevent heart disease, lower CRP inflammation and other excessive inflammation and which increase the responsiveness of your blood vessels.

The first two parts of that way combat the heart disease problem too much sitting causes. But all three of them increase how responsive your blood vessels are. And, the more responsive your blood vessels are, the faster you recover from exercise.

To prevent heart disease do things that increase your HDL from eating olive oil and nuts and berries and egg yolks and NOT eating sugary foods or hydrogenated oils or being around tobacco smoke. Taking niacin and inositol hexaniacinate and moderate drinking, particularly red wine or dark beer also boost HDL. Also do things that cut your level of triglycerides particularly eating virtually no sugary foods. And, our last strategy, interval cardio, and strength training both cut back on triglycerides and boost your HDL.

Eating beans and lentils and vegetables and fruit, particularly apples along with eating non-instant oatmeal occasionally lower LDL cholesterol. And if it remains too high doing all of the above an effective and safe way to lower it is by taking sterol supplements.

(Doing those things in the last two paragraphs, I boosted my HDL to over 95 & cut my LDL from 130 to less than 75; and my triglycerides test as under 50.)

Eating wild caught fish, taking purified fish oil omega three supplements; not eating very much of sugary foods: and virtually never eating the omega 6 oils such as soy, corn, safflower, and canola – or only eating them very rarely lowers CRP inflammation. (Not eating fat from grain fed animals which is loaded with omega 6 oils from the grain also helps!) When you both take in more omega 3 and less omega 6 oils, excess inflammation is dramatically less.

Third, in addition to doing those two things -- protecting your heart & lowering inflammation, AND also doing vigorous exercise each week, you can also take supplements that increase the responsiveness of your blood vessels.

The amino acid l-arginine is a supplement that does this. There are others that may work also. But arginine is likely the most effective. Taking a gram of arginine just before you exercise and another just before you go to bed also boosts your body’s release of growth hormone. So that’s a good way to do it.

Dark chocolate and green tea and black tea also work. But they only work when taken when you have an empty stomach and NOT with milk products. They increase blood flow and the responsiveness of you blood vessels also.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New information on low carb diets....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 1-18-2011

In the Reader’s Digest magazine now out on the newsstands, the cover has two fried eggs and some bacon set up to look like a smile.

Inside on page 110 is the related article, “Is this any way to lose weight?”

It’s basically a mostly favorable review and abstract for the new book,

Why We Get Fat—and What to Do About It, by Gary Taubes.

This is an important development because Reader’s Digest has such a huge readership. Since much of the information is totally correct, that’s a good thing.

This post is my review and comments on that article.

For those who don’t know, low fat diets tend to make people fat because most popular versions of them are loaded with grains and sugars. (Cutting ALL fats tends to make people hungrier, need more sugar to make foods taste good, and less healthy. So, it also tends to make people fatter or able to lose less fat than people who eat moderate amounts of fats and oils.)

In addition, people who eat lots of protein and even the “bad” kinds of animal fat and restrict carbs tend to lose fat AND get actual improvements in their HDL, LDL, and triglyceride readings.

His information has two parts in my view.

One part is extremely accurate and will work well for people who use it.

The second part is dangerous and can badly harm your health. It seems he doesn’t know the state of the art info on health OK fats and oils and animal proteins – or on exercise and how it helps with losing fat and keeping it off.

First, here are some of the things in the article.

The article goes on to quote Gary Taubes as saying exercise doesn’t help lose fat (you tend to get hungrier when you exercise) and that “You need to eat foods that keep your insulin low.”

And, at the end of the article, he points out that our ancestors for well over 100% of our existence until modern times ate lots of meat and high fiber vegetables and not a lot else.

They also list menu low carb menu ideas that include fried eggs, bacon, butter, mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese, cream, ham, cheddar cheese, salmon, and rib-eye steak.

The 5 Ways to get started section by Eric Westman, MD after saying no limits on fat, has these 4 points.

2. Say goodbye to pasta, bread, and rice.

4. Be picky about vegetables (Choose almost 100 % nonstarchy ones.)

4 Say NO to hidden sugars.

5. Eat as much as you are hungry for without any efforts at portion control.

Here’s a summary of my review.

1. “You need to eat foods that keep your insulin low.” is completely correct.

Protein, fats and oils, and nonstarchy vegetables all fit that prescription. Those foods and combinations of them are what people evolved to eat. Our bodies tend to be leanest and work best when close to all of what we eat are those foods only.

“Foods’ that do not -- such as regular soft drinks and rice and bread and snacks and desserts that contain mostly refined grains all are very high glycemic and eating them makes you fat. When you eat them – drink them, your blood sugar spikes, then when your insulin does to combat that, it tends to add to your fat deposits. To not be fat, approach ZERO on your consumption of these foods.

So far, so good.

2. Fried eggs, bacon, butter, mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese, cream, ham, cheddar cheese, salmon, and rib-eye steak actually can have a real shot at killing you from increased CRP inflammation and exposure to pollutants.

Fried eggs can even make your cholesterol problems dramatically worse if they are fried in oils that have been hydrogenated or are high in omega 6.

Saturated fat in and of itself is not that bad for you. But you should keep the amount moderately low. And, eating LOTS of it along with massive amounts of omega 6 oils and bioconcentrated pesticides, herbicides, and other pollutants tends to cause heart disease and cancer.

Salmon that is farm raised has a low amount of omega 3 oils, too much omega 6 oils, and dramatically too much of many pollutants to be safe to eat. (Wild caught salmon is usually the reverse. But recommending salmon without that caveat can harm your health.)

Oddly, stores today, do NOT sell mayonnaise. Virtually without exception what is in the stores is labeled as mayonnaise; but instead of olive oil and egg yolks, they sell mayonnaise like products made with soy oil, canola oil, etc that are all high in omega 6 oils instead. Eating unlimited amounts of those will harm your health.

(Real mayonnaise made with olive oil only and egg yolks and olive oil don’t have that problem; and moderate amounts are OK for good health. You can buy olive oil; but for real mayonnaise, you have to go to a restaurant where the chef makes it or make it yourself.)

Eggs, bacon, butter, sour cream, cream cheese, cream, ham, cheddar cheese, salmon, and rib-eye steak from animals penned up and fed grain are quite high in omega 6 oils and can harm you. The inflammation eating too much omega 6 oils causes is a direct cause of heart disease and has been strongly implicated in causing many cancers.

But if you eat those foods only very occasionally and eat wild caught fish; and meats and poultry fed from animals fed only grass or their natural foods in unpolluted places; beans and lentils, nuts, avocados, and extra virgin olive oil, you can eat oils, fat, and protein that works for fat loss but from foods that protect your health instead of harming it.

Meat from animals fed only grass costs more which helps you eat less of it. But occasionally eating it and eating things like beans and lentils and other things on that list works.

Similarly, it costs more. But you can get cheese and butter from animals fed only grass. It’s safe to eat moderate amounts of those. But eat LOTS of cheese and butter and cream and sour cream from cattle fed grain is NOT.

So, the bottom line is that you can lose fat with less hunger with the information from this article. But to do that and keep your health too you need some information NOT included.

Lastly, he is simply flat out wrong about exercise.

A study was done that found that people who are totally sedentary are reliably hungry for more calories than they actually use. From just a bit of exercise to hours a day of exercise, your body is spot on, you ARE hungrier for more food the more you eat BUT you are only hungry for the calories you used in the exercise you got NOT more hungry than that.

This also ignores the fact that sedentary people have internal fat even if the are no too heavy or look that fat.

People who exercise are leaner and less fat. And the people who get abundant exercise every week have been proven to be dramatically more likely to keep off any fat they lose.

Note that this also fits the model of simulating the conditions our ancestors experienced for well over 100% of our existence until modern times.

They not only ate protein foods and produce, they got at least a moderate amount or more of exercise every day of their lives.

So, take Gary Taubes & Dr Westman’s advice on slashing high glycemic foods from what you eat and drink and DO get plenty of protein and fats and nonstarchy vegetables.

But only eat health OK proteins and fats and oils if you can manage it. And, get abundant exercise every week.

In this article they left those two points out. Include them in for what YOU do, and you’ll be less fat and MUCH healthier.

PS: Upgrading the already good for you DASH II and Mediterranean diets with this information is a great way to find good tasting recipes and foods from two ways of eating proven to support good health and to lose fat too.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

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

Today's Post: Monday, 1-17-2011

1. The past month I gained one pound of weight and a quarter inch on my waist. So, I’m now one pound over my goal weight; &, at 38 & a quarter inches, I’m still 4 to 6 inches over what I’d like to see on my waist measurement.

2. I did mostly a better job over the last month of keeping my alcohol intake down for the first 3 weeks. The weekend just ended though, I had a family reunion and a play off game I watched for a short time where I drank a bit extra. So when the week ended I was about 32 % over the weekly total I aim for.

3. The main culprit though was that a bad cold or light medium case of the flu, the kind I rarely get, caused me to miss about a quarter of the exercise I normally get over the month. Without that setback, I might have lost a pound and a quarter inch instead. The only good news is that compared to what many people experienced with this bad cold, I got off relatively lightly. I never had to take time off work or had my work slowed like a worse case would have done.

I’m recovered and have almost got back to the level of exercise I was doing before. This past week was MUCH better.

4. My left arm injury that has prevented my progress in increasing my calories burned each week and pounds of muscle added remained about the same or it might be a bit better last month. I’ve not pushed it more which might be helping. (It still feels like something is loose now that wasn’t before, so this may be more than a simple case of bad muscle or tendon strain that will heal eventually. But it seems to call a bit less attention to itself, so it might be getting better.)

I’ve kept using the inexpensive way that may speed its healing. (There are 3 other ways to speed such healing; but taking anabolic steroids is NOT a good method to use generally & I can’t yet afford either of the other two.)

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 check with someone knowledgeable before I push more to get back to the weight I was using before, let alone adding more, as I was about to do.

My plan to see one of the sports medicine doctors in our local area to check this is not doable still.

But, the good news is that I have an appointment with a physical therapist for two weeks from today which may do the job. If she says that I won’t injure my arm worse if I carefully resume building back or add more, I’ll try it very carefully. And, if that works, it will really help.

The kettlebell exercises I’ve had to partly discontinue and not been able to progress in WERE working. I was getting vigorous exercise that was burning more calories than just the rest of my exercises without it. And, had I not injured my arm, I’d be likely doing three or four times that much by now. Plus, when you exercise a muscle in a way that will build it up, you can feel it in the muscle; and I was getting that feeling before I injured my left arm.

If I can resume those and build up to that level, it WILL remove inches from my waist!

6. I’ve been a bit off and on with the possible new strategy to add that is said to help lose belly fat at least some. So, I’ll make a more consistent effort on that until next month in part because I want to lose the quarter inch I gained last month AND another quarter inch if I can.

7. Lastly, I found something just a few days ago that might really help. I’ve known I could go to an even stricter pattern of calorie and sugar cut back than I have been using. Bodybuilders do this before contests to have their muscles easier to see by having them be covered by less fat. But, what I didn’t know was that when they went from a very high effort to remove fat to a more moderate level after their contests, they were able to lift more weight and add muscle instead of fat when they began to eat relatively more.

So, if I lost 2 or 3 pounds for each of two months for a total of 5 pounds of by becoming even stricter than I have been for two months and then went back to closer to what I have been plus eating more protein both before and after, I might be able to add 5 pounds of muscle the following month.

That would wind up with me weighing about the same but with 5 pounds more muscle and 5 pounds less fat. Just like being able to get back to the kettlebell exercises, if I can do that, I’ll lose inches off my waist.

Ideally, by this time next year, I’ll have managed to do both -- get back to the kettlebell exercises AND add more weight in the other strength training exercises I already do. If I can burn more calories a week directly from using the kettle bell and burn even more by adding up to 20 pounds more muscle, my waist is likely to lose a few of inches I need to take off of it!

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Sitting too much can cause health problems....

Today's Post: Friday, 1-14-2011

Sitting too much can cause health problems. This was all over the health news this week in different ways.

One article had research showing that people who sit too much without breaks were at greater risk of high CRP inflammation and heart disease.

Another had information that the more people walk each week the less their risk of getting insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. They also tended to weigh less.

(A related study earlier this year found that people who walk 6 miles a week or more had far less brain shrinkage as they got older than people who walked far less than that each week.)

Another had the information that people living in the United States from Asia often had insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes even when they were not fat. And, in that article, it had a clear link to sitting too much. It said that people from Asia were less active than other ethnic groups. Despite not being fat, they actually often had MORE visceral fat internally which is a marker of not getting enough exercise or activity each week.

There is a positive in this because people from Asia are often studying or doing knowledge work and wind up being better educated and better paid. But it does show that sitting too much even for positive reasons can cause health problems.

And, there is another common problem that results in people sitting too much and often getting fat too when people are away from work.

A majority of Americans watch more than 15 hours a week of TV. But every hour of TV watching time over about 10 tends to cause the health problems from sitting too much and is very highly correlated with getting fat.

Why is that?

There are several reasons.

More sitting and less activity means worse health and adding more than 10 hours of sitting away from work to the sitting people during commuting and work is NOT a good idea.

Second, not only are people sitting while watching TV, they are sitting still enough that they are burning fewer calories an hour than they would be if they were sleeping!

Third, if they watch commercial TV, they are exposed to well made ads by the truckload for the bad for you and fattening commercial desserts, snacks, fast food, and soft drinks that are a major reason people are now so fat.

Fourth, if they eat while watching TV, it becomes mechanical and continuous and usually continues well past when they are no longer hungry because their attention is pre-empted by what they are watching on TV.

Fifth, since they are not at work, the time they are spending watching TV uses up much of the time they could have been exercising or doing an active activity they enjoy.

There are three solutions to this problem of sitting too much.

1. Have a way to program in more short breaks from sitting while you are at work.

This one is tough. You have to gradually create your own solution. (You won’t do it often enough or keep doing it unless it fits you and your work environment.)

But here are two ideas that I’ve found that work for me.

a) I became unable to drink coffee and then found out that I liked Earl Grey tea and green tea is good for you. So I now have four cups a day of Earl Grey tea and two cups of green tea at work on each full work day. That way I build in the times I get up to fix these cups of tea and automatically build in several resulting times a day when I have to visit the bathroom from all that extra water intake. That gets me out of my chair about 12 times a day when without it, I’d get up far less.

b) I read some previous research suggesting that other kinds of sitting breaks would be good to do. I even posted about it. But I found I barely got started before I stopped doing it.

That’s changed.

I saw a Doctor Oz email that it is a good idea to do 15 squats to a chair where your thighs are about parallel to the ground a few times a day at work can be a good idea. So, on Tuesday and Thursday, the days I do leg exercises at home, I do that five times one time each of the times I drink a cup of tea except for the very first one. And, I do a gripping exercise with no weight but 98 times, five times a day on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

I do them and have kept doing them. There are two reasons for that,

I link them to getting the cups of tea I was already getting regularly.

AND, I made a very informal and quick to use log to mark down each time each day that I do those. That way if I forget one time, I can look at that log and know to do an extra one the next time. This log is a very important key to why I’ve been able to keep doing them. I did NOT do this in my efforts before that I stopped doing.

(I did this to help shrink my belly fat in part. But this new research suggests I’m also protecting my health when I do it.)

2. Begin to do a regular program with both moderate activity such as walking or doing Tai Chi and vigorous exercise such as strength training or interval cardio each week. Do it consistently and keep an accurate if brief record so you can keep track of what you are actually doing. Then gradually find ways to increase it over time. Then keep doing the ones that work.

This is not easy. But even a couple of 15 minute walks each week or three 6 minute sessions of something called Tabata intervals each week will be far better than nothing. Then if you can add just two 20 minute strength training sessions to those two, you can begin to be quite effective with minimal time used.

(Tabata intervals are where you do a minute of moderate activity for a warm up; and then build up to 8 30 second intervals back to back, which takes 4 minutes total; and then do a one minute cool down of moderate activity. Each 30 second interval starts with 20 seconds of near maximum speed and intensity and then 10 seconds of rest. This is very similar to Dr Al Sears PACE program. And, Tabata intervals are far from the only way to do interval cardio. But they have been proven to work to dramatically increase fitness. And, doing a 6 minute session every other day for just three days a week is much easier to schedule in than walking for an hour or running for 20 minutes once a day.)

Where can you find the time for this?

3. One way is by watching less hours of TV! Trimming back TV watching to 10 hours a week or less most weeks, is the third way to solve this problem.

If in addition, you stop buying and consuming the bad for you and fattening things advertised on TV and eat real foods instead & you have been consuming these, you can save a lot of money and be a lot less fat.

In addition, if you eat before or after watching TV instead of during it, you won’t mindlessly eat calories you were not actually hungry for. You’ll save money and be less fat that way too.

Here are some ideas on watching less TV – ideally cutting back to 10 hours a week or less.

Decide to do it because you now know it’s important.

Simply stop watching the TV that was OK but not great or that you watched out of boredom.

Divide the rest into TV that you want most to watch and TV that you enjoy but you can miss occasionally and TV you like but can easily do without.

Then stop watching the lower half of these shows. Stop the things you can easily do without and only watch the TV you can miss occasionally about half as much or as often.

You can also now use technology to tape those that you enjoy but you can miss occasionally or that you really prefer to watch if they come on at a time that you decided to be active or go somewhere interesting. That way, if you have time later in the week, you can watch them. Sometimes you will find that time for the shows you like most. But you won’t always find that time and will find it less often for the shows you can really do without.

Another way is to get faster to use sources for news and weather than watching them on TV.

See & & .

With these sites you can see more exactly what you want to find and see more details and in far less time than watching the news and weather on TV.

I also find that reading the newspaper is faster than watching TV and gets more details I want to see for Sports and business news and local and national news than watching on TV.

In addition, by going online and by reading the newspaper, I can decide when to do it where it myself – where it only happens at certain times on TV. So I get more control of my schedule.

And, I can completely skip the news I have no interest in where I’d be forced to watch it to get to what I do want to see if I watched TV.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Look younger, be healthier, and live longer....

Today's Post: Thursday, 1-13-2011

Believe it or not, there are FIVE ways to do that triple of desirable things.

Here are three you likely already know about if you have been reading our posts or because they are simply better known.

1. Lose excess fat if you have it -- or avoid getting it if you don’t.

2. Get regular exercise every week, particularly vigorous exercise -- and keep doing it.

3. Completely avoid tobacco smoke -- both smoking and second hand smoke.

4. Yesterday we posted on the fact that people who eat lots of vegetables with carotenes wind up with higher blood levels of alpha carotene. Research recently found they are much less likely to die from any cause and have better health -- including being far less likely to get cancer or die from any cancers they do get.

We also covered how many other carotenes in these vegetables help too and some tips on which vegetables these are and how to add more to your food and drink.

5. Today we post on ways to keep your telomeres from getting shorter or which even restore them and make them a bit longer.

In fact staying trim, getting regular exercise, and eating lots of vegetables with carotenes likely each has this effect. And, exposure to tobacco smoke almost certainly shortens your telomeres.

(If you are unaware, here are what telomeres are and how keeping them long tends to prevent or slow aging. Aging happens when your body begins to make imperfect copies of your cells. Eventually you get cells that don’t work and have problems including death. But the DNA in your cells has a kind of shoelace cap or damage preventer at its ends. Those are called telomeres. If they are intact, your body keeps making accurate and properly functioning new cells. So keeping your telomeres long enough prevents aging. And, slowing how fast they get shorter or wear off slows aging.)

Last Tuesday, Al Sears posted on some other things that either cause your body to make more telomerase which makes telomeres longer or prevents them from getting shorter or which have been found to keep telomeres longer in that way and perhaps others.

In a long-term study, Danish researchers discovered that twins who looked younger than their chronological age had better health and longer survival rates than their older-looking twins. Also, the larger the difference in the age they looked to be, the more likely it was that the older-looking twin died first.

They also found that the twins who looked younger had longer telomeres.

Doctor Sears then listed several ways to either boost telomerase or maintain the telomere length in the DNA of your cells.

“One way is to activate telomerase. Telomerase is an enzyme found in all of your cells that tells your telomeres to rebuild themselves. Once activated, telomerase can actually make your cells – and your body – younger.”

In a recent study at the University of California-Davis, found people doing meditation had 33 percent higher telomerase activity in their white blood cells than those who weren’t meditating.

(Most people haven’t got the time to meditate or aren’t good at it. Here are two solutions:

Listen to the guided meditations on audios by Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD which are only 12 minutes long and have different themes to fit what you need most when you do them.

You can also learn Tai Chi which is a kind of slow exercise routine that both gives you the effect of mediation and provides about the same exercise as walking for the time you put in. So if you haven’t time to do both meditation AND get exercise, doing a daily Tai Chi routine can work well.)

Dr Sears then gave an even more time efficient method that also works.:

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that daily supplements of omega-3 significantly increased telomerase activity.

(Eating wild caught fish high in omega 3 oils two or three times a week also works. Two good providers of omega 3 supplements are Nordic Naturals and Carlson. I have been doing both by eating wild caught salmon three times a week and taking omega 3 supplements from Nordic Naturals twice a day.

And I was doing that for the other health benefits of omega 3 before I found it that it may also help keep me younger.)

He then listed more three things that have been found to keep your telomeres long.:

1. A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that people who take a daily multivitamin had younger DNA and had 5.1 percent longer telomeres than non-users.

Dr Sears then noted this:

“When you….buy a multivitamin, stay away from discount store brands … they are inexpensive because those companies buy the cheapest, synthetic ingredients on the international market. This is one area where I don’t recommend cutting corners. Stick with a brand you know and trust.”

2. That American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study was full of good news. It turns out that vitamin B12 supplements increase telomere length.

(To get the full effect of B12 supplements get the kind you can suck on or chew and hold in your mouth a bit. That way you get the B12 directly while older people or people taking anti acid drugs may not get the B12 from digesting it. 500 mcg twice a day or 1,000 mcg once a day works.)

Vitamins C and E also increase the lifespan of cells by preventing telomere shortening.

(2,000 mg of vitamin C in four 500 mg a day works well. And, taking a natural vitamin E supplement of 200 iu a day and eating health OK foods high in the entire vitamin E complex such as walnuts, pecans, almonds, avocados, and extra virgin olive oil will work well.)

3. In another study, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at more than 2,000 women of all ages.

“The more vitamin D they had in their bodies, the longer their telomeres were. On top of that, people who supplemented with vitamin D had longer telomeres than those who didn’t.5

If you’d like to get your vitamin D in a supplement, make sure it’s vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol). I usually start my patients with 2,000 IUs a day and work up from there if blood levels aren’t responding. Blood levels are helpful to tell you how much you need to take.”

Your body will use at least 3,000 iu a day of vitamin D and other studies indicate that up to 10,000 iu a day is safe while yet others show that the real minimum amount needed for good health is the 2,000 iu a day Dr Sears begins with.

(To put it bluntly, the recent so called guidelines posted saying lower levels of vitamin D are correct was done by researchers who were either not competent enough to know the literature or all the relevant studies OR they were biased.)
Dr Sears also makes the point that the vitamins he lists are all antioxidants.

That would suggest that other antioxidant supplements would help do the job.

And, there is some evidence for that!

Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD said in a recent email that the antioxidant glutathione produced in your body by taking the supplement NAC (n-acetyl cysteine), has been found to maintain telomere length.

And, in another email, Dr Sears himself posted on research showing that taking the far more effective form of CoQ10 called ubiquinol dramatically slows aging.

(Ubiquinol is what your body turns CoQ10 into that actually does the job. It’s been found up to EIGHT times as effective to take it compared to taking CoQ10.)

Ubiquinol is both a strong antioxidant AND it slows aging by keeping the mitochondria in each of your cells delivering energy to them as it should which is also an anti-aging effect.

Best of all, just like omega 3 supplements and foods, each of these supplements has abundant OTHER health benefits that keep you healthy in other ways.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Avoid cancer, look better, and live longer....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 1-11-2011

Believe it or not, there are FIVE ways to do that triple of desirable things.

Here are three you likely already know about if you have been reading our posts or because they are simply better known.

1. Lose excess fat if you have it -- or avoid getting it if you don’t.

2. Get regular exercise every week, particularly vigorous exercise -- and keep doing it.

3. Completely avoid tobacco smoke -- both smoking and second hand smoke.

But there are two more.

We’ll cover one today and another next time, this Thursday.

We have already posted on this one for the recent discovery that it cuts death rates from any cause by 39% in the people who do it most compared with those who do it the least.

People who eat lots of vegetables with carotenes wind up with higher blood levels of alpha carotene. Research recently found they are much less likely to die from any cause and have better health -- including being far less likely to get cancer or die from any cancers they do get.

(Other carotenes also help prevent cancer too. Lycopene from tomatoes or tomato sauce or lycopene supplements helps prevent prostate cancer and even may shrink it or cause it to grow more slowly if it shows up.)

But there’s more. It seems that people who eat lots of vegetables with carotenes also look better and healthier and age more slowly!

A recent study found that people who had been eating a lot of these vegetables for only two months were visually better looking in color photographs or in person at the end of the two months. It seems that the colors of the carotenes in the vegetables gave their skin a redder look or a rosy glow typical of people in good health.

I also found out that eating carotenes in foods tends to keep your telomeres from getting shortened, so you age more slowly. So you look better because you look younger because physically you ARE younger. (Thursday’s post will have a great many other things that have this effect.)

Plus, many of them are high in fiber and low in calories. So eating them often tends to help you look better because you are less fat if you do.

So, what vegetables have carotenes? Those that are red, yellow, or orange. And, because the dark green hides the carotenes, so do many dark green vegetables.

Tomatoes, all kinds of squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, yams, and broccoli all are high in carotenes.

(Pumpkin is a kind of squash, so the pumpkin puree in pumpkin pie is actually good for you even if sugar in the filling and the crust are not.)

Of course, these foods also are high in other carotenes such as lycopene and beta carotene. And, they are also high in fiber and vitamin C and potassium -- and many have lots of folic acid too. So, it isn’t just the alpha carotenes that do the job; the alpha carotenes do it plus the help they get from the company they keep.

It’s also helpful to know, these vegetables may deliver their carotenes to you better if they are cooked or are eaten in a salad with olive oil. Raw tomatoes are good for you and raw broccoli florets provide far better cancer protection than cooked. But, for their carotenes, they will give you more if they are cooked and eaten with extra virgin olive oil.

You can dice up tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, and broccoli florets for an omelet or with scrambled eggs.

You can take carrots or baby food containers of sweet potatoes or squash or raw broccoli florets to work for lunch or have a salad with diced carrots and tomatoes and onion and romaine lettuce with some extra virgin olive oil.

You can have some pumpkin puree and cinnamon and low fat plain yogurt as a mid-afternoon snack. (You can also add pumpkin pie spice. I’ve had this and it’s quite tasty.)

You can fix a pasta dish with your favorite pasta sauce that uses olive oil and use spaghetti squash instead of pasta and a baked acorn squash with a bit of melted butter for dinner.

Tomato juice and V8 juice also work – with or without hot spices.

These vegetables can actually be enjoyable to eat!

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Do NOT slash calories and eliminate fat to lose weight....

Today's Post: Monday, 1-10-2011

Many people realize that if they take in less calories than they use each week, they will lose weight.

So, since they want to lose most of their excess fat right away, they begin to eat a LOT less food.

And, since oils and fats have a bit more than double the calories per gram or per pound compared with protein and carbs, they do that in part by making their diet nonfat & eliminating ALL the fats and oils they were eating.

Do NOT slash calories and eliminate fat to lose weight, it is a sure way to fail at removing all your excess fat and keeping it off!

There are four reasons for this. (We also say what to do instead that DOES work.)

1. Suppose you are much fatter than you’d like and are taking in 2800 calories a day of food and drink. If you remove all the fats and oils and cut back to 800 calories a day, within less than three weeks, your body’s fail-safe famine protection will cut in!

You will be at least three times hungrier than you were before doing this. You will crave sugary and fatty foods even more. And, your body will slow your metabolism, shut off some systems, and will do what it can to hoard the fat you have. You will have far less energy because your body wants you to conserve it and move as little as possible. It’s wired to act as if your life is at stake otherwise.

Why? Most of us are descended from multiple generations of people who survived famines including some quite severe famines lasting many months.

It also doesn’t help that at 800 calories a day you are quite likely to become malnourished from lack of protein and many other nutrients.

But losing all your fat IS possible. How?

A. By eliminating foods and drinks that make you fat or make you sick over time if you consume them AND eating foods that support your health and turn off your hunger instead.

It also helps to cut things that make you MORE hungry instead of less. THAT would seem like a no brainer; but most people wanting to lose weight don’t know how or realize they are failing to do it.

Those are mostly bad carbs and bad fats and artificial sweeteners.

Bad carbs:

All soft drinks, all foods and drinks sweetened with high fructose corn syrup even if they call it corn sugar or with artificial sweeteners are in this group. So it includes ALL soft drinks. All foods made with refined grains or white rice or peeled potatoes are in this group. And, it helps to eat less than a fifth of the things the average person eats now that have real sugar. It even helps to eat
100 percent whole grain foods in strict moderation. Some people will even do better eating none.

Bad fats:

All foods or drinks that contain any hydrogenated oils or any listed amount of transfats greater than zero, are heart attack starter research has found. Worse, most of the foods and drinks that do contain these also contain bad carbs too! To lose fat and keep it off, ALWAYS read labels and avoid foods or drinks that you suspect contain this junk. It’s still in an astounding list of foods.

Dairy fat and fat in meat and poultry fed grains is also bad for you. Grain fed animals have MORE fat, more saturated fat, and dramatically more omega 6 oils. One solution is to eat less of these foods. Another is to eat almost all lean and fat reduced versions, skinless poultry, lean cuts of meat from which all the visible fat is removed, 1% or lowfat milk. Another is to get these foods from animals fed only grass or their natural foods and which are NOT penned up extra to fatten them. Such fats cause high LDL cholesterol and inflammation and often carry bioconcentrated pesticides and herbicides. If you eliminate or cut way back on these fats, you will be far healthier.

Vegetable oils with high omega 6 content are almost as bad. They cause high inflammation. These are corn, soy, canola, and safflower.

(The good news is that nuts, avocados, and extra virgin olive oil AND the fats and oils in wild caught fish and purified fish oil supplements ARE as good for you as the bad fats are bad. Those are health OK choices in moderation.)

2. Cutting out ALL fats and oils has been found to make people unhealthy AND worse, to sabotage fat loss. That’s in part because people who don’t know to avoid bad carbs then eat MORE of those. Yikes!

People who eat the health OK fats and oils in moderation every day have been shown to be MORE successful at losing fat and keeping it off than people who try to cut out ALL fats and oils.

b) You also need to cut back a bit on calories in a systematic and consistent way. Taking the step we just mentioned, does part of that for you.

In fact, many people taking in 2800 calories a day can cut back as much as 1,000 calories by removing bad carbs and bad fats. But that may actually be too much! So you need to add back more of some foods and drinks to keep from triggering your body’s famine response and to keep from getting too hungry. You may actually need to eat MORE of the health OK foods to solve this problem.

3. Slashing calories and fats and nothing else misses two of the key secrets to permanent fat loss!

Two categories off foods to eat MORE of are health OK protein foods and nonstarchy vegetables.

These two kinds of food turn off hunger very well. Health OK protein foods are not that high in calories while nonstarchy vegetables almost approach having zero calories. They are mostly nutrients, fiber, and water! Even better, we are beginning to find out many kinds of prevent or slow down or disarm or even kill cancer cells and more. (Tomorrow’s post will be about that.)

The more kinds of nonstarchy vegetables you know and eat each week, the less fat you will wear and the healthier you will be.

Health Ok proteins are beans and lentils; nuts; naturally fed meats and poultry and dairy; and wild caught fish from unpolluted waters. (Farmed fish are from extremely polluted waters often and are fed grains too. Take a pass on those!)

Eating them turns off your hunger well; keeps you in good health; and helps ensure the weight you lose is fat instead of muscle and other lean tissue you would be healthier and better looking if you keep!

4. An essential way to cut net calories without eating so much less you trigger your body’s famine response is to exercise regularly most days and every week.

That way the calories you burn allow you to cut back LESS on the calories you eat and still lose fat!

It also helps ensure the weight you lose is fat instead of muscle and other lean tissue you would be healthier and better looking if you keep!

Exercise does help to create effective fat loss and weight loss from the fat loss.

It’s simple really.

People who get several kinds of exercise both moderate and vigorous every week can eat more and still lose fat. That enables them to lose fat without being too hungry to continue which produces success.

People who gradually build up to over 2,000 calories a week in particular also find it dramatically easier to avoid gaining the fat and weight back. One study of people who lost over 30 pounds and kept it off found that they averaged something like 2900 calories of exercise a week.

But even going from no exercise to the 500 to 700 calorie a week range will help with fat loss and good health.

In fact, people who are too fat but who exercise are dramatically healthier than those who do not. And, the better health begins when the exercise does – well BEFORE all the fat comes off!

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Friday, January 07, 2011

Way that some people can lose weight without exercise....

Today's Post: Friday, 1-7-2011

This is a surprising idea because exercise DOES help to create effective fat loss and weight loss from the fat loss.

It’s simple really.

People who get several kinds of exercise both moderate and vigorous every week can eat more and still lose fat. That enables them to lose fat without being too hungry to continue which produces success.

People who gradually build up to over 2,000 calories a week in particular also find it dramatically easier to avoid gaining the fat and weight back. One study of people who lost over 30 pounds and kept it off found that they averaged something like 2900 calories of exercise a week.

But some people can’t exercise or do it right now.

Wouldn’t it be nice if people recovering from surgery or injuries or who are disabled and unable to exercise had a way to lose fat and weight that worked?

Also, some people have some pollutants in their system that prevent them from losing fat and weight even while eating right and getting at least some exercise.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a safe, low risk way to overcome that problem?

It’s not for everyone. Some people may not have the time or money for it. And others may not be able to use it safely.

But there IS something that I found out this morning has been tested as doing these things successfully.

Because he actually asks for his email to be passed along, I’m posting Dr Mark Hyman’s email word for word describing it.

I’ll then add some closing comments.

(There are some people who likely haven’t time to use this method. There is one benefit Dr Hyman likely knows that he did not list. There are some people who should not use this method and some important cautions to be able to use it safely. And, there is a way some people can get the benefits without using it!)

“Original Message-----
From: Mark Hyman, MD “

Sent: Fri, Jan 7, 2011 3:02 am

Subject: An Easy Way to Lose Weight, Lower Blood Pressure, Detoxify, and Improve Your Brain Function

“Share this email:

NEW SCIENCE IS PROVING that a simple, ancient method of cleansing the body used by Native Americans for centuries has widespread positive effects on health and can help you lose weight, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, enhance detoxification, and experience less joint pain. I'm talking about heat therapy-specifically, the use of infrared saunas.

Heat therapy is a significantly underutilized treatment in medicine. However, with the growing movement to find more self-directed, more natural, less invasive ways to overcome health problems and lose weight, it's becoming more popular among the American public. And that's a good thing! As we will see in a moment, the science bears out the use of heat as a treatment modality for a wide variety of health conditions.

Infrared saunas, in particular present an interesting and powerful opportunity for people to take advantage of the latest advances in heat therapy. These saunas, which can be installed in your home, use infrared light instead of conventional heat to bring up your body temperature. The difference is important because infrared saunas can increase your core body temperature by 2-3 degrees-enough to improve the health results you achieve as compared to conventional saunas.

Most infrared saunas on the market produce only far infrared. However, a new development in the field is full-spectrum infrared. These are saunas that provide all the health benefits associated with far- mid- and near infrared rays.

Over the last decade science has finally caught up with what ancient societies have realized for millennia regarding the use of heat therapy, and the evidence that's surfacing about the benefits of regular use of saunas is impressive.

Infrared saunas help you lose weight. In a two-week study of twenty-five obese adults, body weight and body fat were reduced after daily infrared sauna treatments of 15 minutes. Interestingly, the researchers who conducted the study reported on one obese patient who couldn't exercise due to arthritis in the knee yet lost 17.5 kg, and decreased body fat from 46 to 35 percent after 10 weeks of sauna therapy.(i)

Infrared saunas enhance detoxification. We live in a sea of toxins as you know. Luckily there are steps we can take to more effectively remove these toxins, and the use of saunas is one powerful method for doing so. The Environmental Protection Agency has shown that sauna therapy increases excretion of heavy metals (lead, mercury, cadmium) and fat-soluble chemicals like PCBs, PBBs, and HCBs.

In fact, toxins stored in fat can prevent you from effectively losing weight. I've seen this time and again in my practice: People try everything to lose weight and get healthy, but it isn't until they detoxify their bodies that they can truly heal.

Infrared saunas reduce blood pressure. Several studies have shown that infrared sauna therapy lowers blood pressure significantly. In one study done by the University of Missouri, Kansas City subjects were randomly assigned to either a Solocarbon infrared sauna or a conventional sauna. Systolic blood pressure decreased from an average of 130.5 to 124 in those that underwent infrared sauna treatment. Those who were treated in a conventional sauna showed no statistical improvement in blood pressure.(ii)

Infrared saunas reduce complications and improve cardiac performance in heart disease patients. In addition to lowering blood pressure, infrared saunas also improve heart rate variability(HRV)-one of the key indicators of heart health. Normally, there is a subtle variability between heartbeats. When there is more variability in the beat-to-beat rhythm, your heart and nervous system are healthier. The least healthy heart rhythm has the least variability-a flat line.

However, when the autonomic nervous system is in chronic stress mode, the heartbeat becomes less variable. Infrared saunas relax the body and mind, reduce autonomic nervous stimulation, and thus improve HRV.

There is an infrared sauna on the market, the mPulse Series from Sunlighten, with built in biofeedback capabilities for monitoring heart rate during a sauna session. This series has intelligent technology delivering customized programs to personalize your sauna therapy.

Infrared saunas improve brain function. As I point out in The UltraMind Solution, the health and resilience of your brain function are directly related to the complexity and variability of your heart rate. What is good for your heart is good for your brain.

And since infrared saunas increase the variability and health of your nervous system, that means they are a great way to improve brain function. Interestingly, one study has also shown that infrared saunas can actually improve the function of neurons that have been damaged by toxins.(iii)

This is to say nothing of the relaxing effects noted above, the improvement sauna has on autonomic nervous function, and the overall increased sense of peace and well-being you experience when regularly taking saunas.

In addition to the benefits above, infrared saunas have also been shown to help blood sugar, reduce joint pain, improve your skin, and more. It's a treatment I highly recommend and one I prescribe to patients often. I suggest you consider regular sauna therapy as well.

To take an infrared sauna, use the following guidelines:

Find a local sauna to use.

Start slowly, with 5 to 10 minutes per session.

Build up to 40 minutes with cool-down periods in between.

Keep well hydrated during the sessions-bring a glass bottle of water into the sauna with you.

Be sure to take a good multi-mineral while doing the sauna treatments (if you are not doing so already) to replace the minerals lost through sweating.

Wash thoroughly with soap to remove the toxins from your skin.

Consider purchasing an infrared sauna for home use. I highly recommend Sunlighten Saunas. They are high-quality, full spectrum infrared saunas and their customer service team specializes in helping you locate the best sauna for your needs.

Whether overweight, suffering from chronic illness, burdened by constant stress, or simply want to optimize your body and protect your health for the long terms, infrared saunas are an excellent way to do it.

To order your infrared sauna now, go to the link below:

To your good health,
Mark Hyman, MD


(i) Biro, S., Masuda, A., Kihara, T., Tei, C. 2003. Clinical implications of thermal therapy in lifestyle-related diseases. Exp Biol Med. 228(10): 1245-1249. Review

(ii) Edwards, B., Kort, H., and John Foxworthy. A study of the healthy benefits of far-infared sauna therapy. University of Missouri, Kansas City.

(iii) Wong-Riley, M.T., Liang H.L., Eells J.T. et al. 2005. Photobiomodulation directly benefits primary neurons functionally inactivated by toxins: Role of cytochrome c oxidase. J Biol Chem. 280(6):4761-71.”


My comments:

1. There are some people who likely haven’t time to use this method. Many people who are pressed for time and CAN exercise would get better fat loss and health benefits from using the 15 minutes or more a day to exercise.

But if you have access to a local sauna or the money and space to have one at home AND you either cannot exercise or have enough time to do both, it sounds worth doing!

2. There is one benefit Dr Hyman likely knows that he did not list.

When you “increase your core body temperature by 2-3 degrees” – just like when you get a fever, your body jump starts and starts using its immune cells to find and destroy viruses and bacteria that would otherwise make you sick. In fact, it is likely because regular exercise does this that it tends to prevent colds or send them away faster by giving your body this immune system boost on a regular basis.

3. There are some people who should not use this method.

People who take diuretics, particularly at the higher doses might need medical supervision to use saunas safely. And, some diseases and conditions impair your body’s ability to deal with excess heat. Also, some people live in climates that already achieve this effect from the heat of the day. Adding a sauna on a hot day or after losing a good bit of sweat by doing exercise on a hot day might well cause heat stroke or heat exhaustion and even cause death.

4. Saunas are much safer if you do them when you are neither sleepy nor drunk! And, they are far safer if you do them when a family member or sauna attendant will check on you if you stay too long.

5. And, there is a way some people can get the benefits without using it!

If you do vigorous exercise continuously for 8 minutes, you do heat up a bit but only sweat if it’s a bit on the warm or hot side. But, particularly for men, if you keep going after that, you will begin to sweat even if it’s cool in the room or outside where you are doing the exercise.

Sweating that much does provides virtually the same benefits as using a sauna.

There was a time when I’d likely not have gotten much extra benefit from using a sauna because then I sweat heavily for about 17 minutes for the last 17 minutes of my 26 minute sessions on my NordicTrack. And, I did this three times every week.

I now do three 10 sessions of cardio each week. One 10 minute session of NordicTrack and two of jump rope. Because my body will no longer put up with the wear of the three 26 minute Nordic Track sessions I do those and quite a bit of strength training. But I no longer do all that sweating. So, when I can afford the money and time, I may well begin to use a sauna to get that benefit.

I’d love to lose some extra fat and get rid of some of the pollutants that modern life has loaded up my in my body that may harm my health. It looks like in my current case, using a sauna might well do just that.

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