Thursday, June 30, 2011

Calories do count but there IS good news too....

Today's Post: Thursday, 6-30-2011

There ARE many ways to cut net calories that do NOT cut back much on what you eat, make you hungry, or trigger your body to start its famine response.

Amazingly, in some cases, people who use these methods wind up losing fat each month and eat more calories each day than many people who stay fat!

My first ever weight loss success was when I used the Weight Watchers point system then in use to decide where I could cut calories from what I had been eating regularly.

I saw that they listed nonstarchy vegetables as having zero points. So if I ate more nonstarchy vegetables each day, that might help. And, I saw that if I could cut back on my alcoholic drinks per week, that would help.

(Disclosure: I was already getting regular exercise including strength training and interval cardio each week, BEFORE I made these changes.

Had I not been doing this, I’d have had more fat to lose to start with and what I did may well not have been so effective.)

Based on my calculations, it looked like adding the vegetables each day and the cutting back on my weekly alcoholic drinks I was willing to do would cause me to lose about 10 pounds.

I made the cuts in my alcohol each week and ate a medium to large medium serving of cooked broccoli each day with my dinner and added a serving of vegetables to my daily lunch during the week.

I simply continued to do this and weigh myself once a month.

After a month or two I lost the 10 pounds I expected to lose. The two changes I’d made were not that hard so I kept doing them. (I also didn’t want the 10 pounds of fat back!)

But something else was going on!

After another month or so, I lost a SECOND 10 pounds!

I was pleased but felt that was a nice extra I’d not expected.

Of course I kept up the two changes.

But that wasn’t all! After another month or two I lost a THIRD 10 pounds. So in a few months, I’d lost 30 pounds.

Two things allowed that to happen.

1. Instead of making big cuts that would have made me feel deprived and extra hungry, I made SMALL cuts. That meant that I had no trouble doing what I decided on or continuing to do it. It also meant that my energy level stayed high and my appetite was normal.

(People who make much larger cuts become extra hungry, lose their energy, and their appetite feels as if it has tripled. These are caused by their body’s famine response. Then all the weight and fat they lost comes right back.)

So a key to successful fat loss and weight loss is to make sustainable SMALL cuts in net calories and keep doing those lifestyle upgrades.

2. How did I lose 30 pounds instead of 10?

Eating more vegetables gives you food to eat that does come very close to adding no calories. Doing so also gives you superb nutrition.

But I discovered that this strategy does far more!

Because you chew the food and take in the extra fiber, when you eat vegetables, you stop being hungry – so much so that WITHOUT EFFORT you eat less of other foods that have more calories almost automatically.

I found out that means you get triple or even quadruple results by eating more nonstarchy vegetables.

Dr Dean Ornish even wrote a book about this called Eat More, Weigh Less.

3. When you do cut calories, if you eat ample protein foods now, continue doing so or even add a bit more.

Besides fiber, eating protein foods satisfies your hunger best and longest of all the kinds of food.

In fact, there is ample research to show that if you maintain a good protein intake, you can cut back on net calories a bit more without triggering your famine response or causing health problems.

4. And, if you combine eating the same or more protein with cutting back net calories modestly and do strength training and interval cardio every week, the weight you lose is FAT. That means you are far less likely to gain it back.

You burn calories when you exercise. You burn calories after you exercise if the exercise was quite vigorous. And, the muscle you add or keep burns more calories than you would burn without that muscle.

This is NOT an unproven theory either.

In the recently released study of nurses and health professionals, the ones who took in relatively moderate amounts of junk foods and soft drinks and did not exercise gained a bit over 16 pounds of fat over 20 years. The ones who DID exercise regularly gained 8 pounds. (The ones who exercised took in virtually no junk foods and soft drinks gained ZERO pounds.)

The ongoing study of people who have lost 30 pounds or more and kept them off found that over 90% of them exercised regularly. And, their average is about 400 calories a day or 2800 calories a week.

(Vigorous strength training and interval cardio can have similar effect with fewer calories directly burned during the exercises. That makes them more doable for those of us who haven’t the time to do that much walking or other less focused exercises.)

5. The calories (and carbs) to cut virtually 100 % of without becoming more hungry are those in packaged snack foods and desserts and in soft drinks.

(For the vast majority of people, diet soft drinks fatten about as well as regular soft drinks, so it helps in two ways to not drink those either. Tomorrow’s post will cover that in more detail.)


Soft drinks and sugar added drinks and even to some extent fruit juice add calories but do NOT make you less hungry!

But that’s not all!

They cause your blood sugar to surge. That causes an insulin surge to get you back to normal. That tells your body to hang onto the fat it has and not allow you to burn it for energy. But even worse, after the insulin surge lowers your blood sugar a bit too much, you get hungry for something to boost your blood sugar back to normal!

Does that mean that these drinks add calories and not only don’t reduce your hunger, they turn it up?

That’s EXACTLY what that means.

That means that the calories you cut by not drinking soft drinks and sugary drinks is one of the very most effective ways you can cut calories.

It’s almost like free money! (In fact it IS free money. When you stop buying these drinks, the money you were spending is available to you to spend on other things.)

6. Packaged snack foods and desserts are made with refined grains. These foods and breads made with refined grains and white rice have a very similar effects on you as soft drinks.

Many of them have additives such as MSG that make them more addictive to eat.

And, most of them are made with cheap omega 6 oils that cause heart disease. Worse, many of them are still made with hydrogenated oils and trans fats. That stuff is like heart disease starter!

Some have some protein and some have some fiber, so they turn down hunger at first a bit better than soft drinks. But they have the same hunger rebound later.

Low carb diets produce fat loss. And virtually every successful person who loses fat and keeps it off eats virtually none of these foods.

These foods and soft drinks are the carbs that do the most good to cut.

What about whole grain foods and homemade desserts or desserts made as if they were homemade?

Three strategies work.

a) Only keep eating the ones you like most. STOP eating any of them that you find just OK.

b) Eat them less often or far less often. Back when people were so much more active they burned as many as ten times as many calories and only had desserts a few times a month, desserts were hardly a problem. So eat the desserts you like most but from a few times a year to a few times a week.

(People who eat them every day or several times a day will stay fat.)

c) The one I’ve used is gradual but effective.

I didn’t eat a lot of these foods to begin with. And I’ve now cut my intake of them in half THREE times. That means I eat an eighth of the sugar and whole grains I once ate.

7. Always eat breakfast.

This works for men. But it works about three times as well for women.

People who always eat breakfast have better health than those who do not.

They are less fat than people who do not.

(That’s in part because the are less hungry later in the day and less hungry for sugary foods.

So part of the effect is that they eat less by the end of the day than people who skip breakfast.

Even better, they are far less likely to eat junky snacks or desserts due to hunger between meals when the foods available easily are in vending machines or convenience stores.)

But there is an added benefit too.

Calories eaten at breakfast are both used more efficiently in some ways AND seem to give you less net calories.

In fact, I once read that people who always eat breakfast eat more calories a day than those who do not AND they are also less fat.

The protein foods many people eat for breakfast help do this I suspect. But eating breakfast may also lift your energy and help you burn more calories.

So, always eating breakfast and including some good protein foods when you do is yet another way you can cut net calories without eating that much less.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Texting while driving is twice as deadly as driving drunk....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 6-28-2011

1. People who drive drunk have several problems that make them a real menace on the road and can also kill them too.

They may be too sleepy to react at all in an emergency. Or they may simply fall asleep while driving.

And, even if they react on time and correctly, their ability to recover from that first sudden move is missing. The accidents they are in are often from losing control of their car in that way.

They are more likely to be speeding or speeding a lot. And they are more likely to be in the vehicle that is striking the other. This leads to much more severe accidents, injuries, and death.

(Really drunk is from .16 to over .24 blood alcohol – twice to over three times the legal limit in California where I live. Even though there are bad accidents with people who are less drunk, the ridiculously bad, horrible accidents tend to be when people are really drunk.) Six or more drinks at a time in short time will do it. Four or five can get there or close to it.

2. Given that, something that is twice that bad is pretty awful indeed.

Well imagine what driving at normal or fast speeds with your eyes closed could do on a busy freeway or when coming to an intersection with a lot of traffic or pedestrians.

People who text and drive do exactly that without realizing it.

People who drive well otherwise and are experienced at using a cell phone while still paying attention and driving, can in my experience, talk on their cell phones without this effect. (I’ve not done so. But many people I know have needed to for their work and driven a lot with no accidents.)

But people who are careless drivers to begin with and stop paying attention to the road in front of them while talking on their cell phones and people who text while driving have driven through red lights and forced other drivers off the road.

Bill Phillips in “The Top 5 Killers of Men By Bill Phillips and the Editors of Men's Health Jun 16, 2011,”

>>>> had this in that article:

“Stop texting while driving.

You’ve probably heard that texting behind the wheel is just as dangerous as drinking and driving.

Not true. Texting is way more dangerous.

In fact, texting increases your risk of a crash by 23 times (versus 11 times for driving under the influence), according to a Virginia Tech study.”

Nor is this limited to men.

A recent story about a young woman who never even slowed down for a red light due to texting is exactly why it’s so dangerous. A woman and her toddler were in the cross walk. The woman only went to the hospital with severe injuries but likely will survive. Unfortunately, her toddler was killed instantly.

Few drunk drivers come close to being that bad – though I concede there are some.

So, if you want to avoid having such deaths and injuries on your conscience—

if you want to avoid driving out in front of a loaded semi going 45 miles an hour on a busy road—

if you’d like to avoid a $10 million dollar liability judgement when your liability insurance covers a fraction of that….

…PLEASE consider not ever texting while behind the wheel!

If you can use a cell phone to call and still pay attention to your driving, do that.

If you live where it has to be hands free to avoid a ticket do that.

If you find you weave in your lane or aren’t reliable about stopping when you should – as some people are! – while talking on your cell phone, don’t do that either.

Otherwise, pull over into a parking lot and do it there while the car is parked and stop texting and set down your cell phone or mobile device before starting your car!

Given how serious this threat is and given how many young people today text and drive, I think that either talking on your cell phone and driving as if you weren’t mentally all there or texting while driving at all, I think the first offense should be the maximum sentence for reckless driving.

The second offense should be losing your cell phone or mobile device on which you were texting on the spot with no recourse. And another reckless driving ticket.

The third should be losing your driver’s license for a year -- and having your car confiscated or its owner who allowed you to drive it pay a fine equal to your reckless driving ticket.

Then once that is in place, anyone who gets a license has to pass a test with a 100 % correct score to pass on why not to text and drive AND these penalties.

There are some videos of really horrific accidents where the driver was texting. You should also have to watch several of those also before getting your license.

With drunk drivers, you can avoid most of them by not driving later than 9 pm at night or before 4 am. And, NOT right after a sports event where people often drink.

But without these laws, you could be driving any time or walking across an intersection with the light – or someone you care deeply about could be doing so, and suddenly be killed or maimed by a texting driver.

Given how many people now have these devices, if this is not done, we may be unable to drive anywhere at any time and be sure we will arrive safely.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Which of over 16 fruits and vegetables to get organic....

Today's Post: Monday, 6-24-2011

People who eat whole fruits and many kinds of vegetables have much better health than people who don’t.

This is regardless of if they are otherwise vegetarian or prefer lowfat or low carb eating.

It’s almost as important as NOT smoking.

All of the ways of eating that have great health track records include eating whole fruits and many kinds of vegetables. And, even the best ones provide better results if you eat whole fruits and many kinds of vegetables MORE than most of the people who eat that way!

Some fruits and vegetables are almost OK to eat if from sources that aren’t organic.

For some fruits and vegetables, though, it’s a good idea to pass most of the time on sources that aren’t organic and to make a strong, special effort to only buy them organic or eat them less often.

This is my version of the lists taken from , the Environmental Working Group.

1. Here’s the list that is possibly OK to eat from nonorganic sources. Five of the eight are superfoods.

The five superfoods are:

sweet potatoes or yams,
and cabbage.

Each of those has multiple health benefits!

(Cabbage, I’d prefer to be organic since lettuce and kale etc are on the should be organic only list. And, peeled kiwifruit may be better than eating the peel. Or it may be OK if kiwifruit usually is organic due to it not needing to be sprayed or where it’s grown.) Onions, avocado, and sweet potatoes or yams have peels or outsides that are discarded.

Here are the other three they list in this group. Asparagus, sweet peas, and cantaloupe. Sweet peas and cantaloupe have peels or outsides that are discarded. Asparagus grows so well on its own it may not need spraying.
(However, cantaloupe can have salmonella on the outside. So BEFORE you cut into it, wash it thoroughly twice and wash your hands too.)

2. Here are 12 foods to make a special effort to buy and eat only the organic versions.

A. Apples (Apples often have the pesticides etc sealed in with wax, and the peel is the most nutritious part.), celery, blueberries, strawberries, peaches and nectarines, grapes from outside the United States, spinach, collard greens, kale, and lettuce, bell peppers (With the red and yellow bell peppers this is so much so, they should be eaten very seldom.), and potatoes.

Potatoes are extra important to only eat from organic sources for many reasons.

And, like apples, the skin is often most treated with pesticide but has much of the nutrition.

I read that some potato growers will only eat organic potatoes themselves since they know how much “conventionally grown” potatoes – including their own, have had done to them.

In addition, potatoes without the skin are made into some to the most fattening snacks made -- by actual surveys of the results.

Besides that, eating cooked potatoes without the skin tends to be as high glycemic as refined grains or white rice – and more than sugar!

So, eating only the organic potatoes means you’ll eat less, which is likely a wise idea.

B. But the celery, blueberries, strawberries, collard greens, kale, and peaches and nectarines are all superfoods nutritionally.

What to do?

One solution I’ve found is that Whole Foods carries most to all of these foods from organic growers!

Even better, in many cases the organic version is as inexpensive as the nonorganic versions there!


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Friday, June 24, 2011

How to build a worthwhile life....

Today's Post: Friday, 6-24-2011

People who do this are less depressed, are more resilient when stressed, recover faster from stress, have better health and live longer!

That’s true even if your vision of a worthwhile life is making some part of our world better or making money or helping out someone in your family.

What you’re working on does NOT need to be working on your health or even about benefitting you. But if you are really engaged in the process of achieving something that by your values is worthwhile, you will benefit. And your health will be better.

The more important your vision is to you and the more you get into doing the things that achieve it, the better this works.

"Becoming successful is....the result of repeated, intentional effort toward your definition of the life you want to live." P J McClure

Envision and choose what you now want your life to be like. (As you make progress and learn new things, some of your vision will change. But the most important things will remain.)

Commit to the purpose of achieving those things in your life.

Believe you can achieve those things and begin to take repeated, focused, and consistent small actions to make that happen.

When starting, even tiny steps you can already do will help.

Working on protecting your health or fat loss can be a great place to learn these skills.

For example, if you have about 30 pounds of fat you’d like to remove permanently, you will need to upgrade your lifestyle.

A great way to do this is choose the upgrades that the ones people like you follow who have almost no excess fat and stay that way.

In every field, intelligent modeling and emulation of the actions that produced the desired results for people who have them, is a key way to succeed.

Find out what that set of actions is and begin right way.

What tiny things can you already do to emulate those actions?

With permanent fat loss, those who succeed virtually all get regular exercise.

Taking a brisk two mile walk 7 days a week would really help.

But with your life now, that may be out of the question.

But you could find a single place in your coming week to walk 5 minutes.

Maybe you know someone who never uses their home elliptical trainer or stationary bicycle that you could buy for pennies on the dollar. Then during some of your recreational TV, you could watch while exercising for a couple of programs each week.

The key is to simply begin watching for opportunities to begin doing things that you can already do that will make you progress.

Then start trying them today or sometime in the next two weeks that you put on your schedule today.

Will taking one 5 minute walk remove all of your excess fat?

This is a trick question! The obvious answer is no. But in a profoundly important way, it can be definitely yes!

It depends.

If you follow up that 5 minute walk one time this week, with two next week…

…and then find you can build up to 15 minutes of brisk walking each time,

…and then add 10 minutes another two or three times a week of at home strength training or jumping on a minitrampoline too,

…. and you keep doing this as you find you can, you may well find eating right suddenly easier and begin to see the pounds of fat coming off and your health and feeling of well being going up!

But if you never start the process with that one 5 minute walk this week, you’ll never see those results.

So, if you are following the process of building a worthwhile life, that one 5 minute walk WILL start you on the path that leads to removing all your excess fat.

Then by simply keeping up your upgraded lifestyle, the fat never comes back.

The key is that a single start right away and followed up well is exactly how everyone who built a worthwhile life got the job done.

What if you try something that’s too hard?

Try something similar just a bit challenging instead of way too hard.

What if you try something that simply doesn’t seem to work?

Find out if the people who used it successfully added something else to it.

Find something else that might get that result and try that instead.

That kind of relentless and experimental persistence at looking for good things to try, trying things, and continuing the ones that work is exactly the “repeated, intentional effort toward your definition of the life you want to live." that P J McClure speaks of.

It’s how you build a worthwhile life.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Potato snacks and other things that make you fat....

Today's Post: Thursday, 6-23-2011

Virtually all the news services covered yesterday’s release of a 20 year study of what made people fat. It even made our local newspaper.

HealthDay had this title:

“Chips, Fries, Soda Most to Blame for Long-Term Weight Gain.”

By Maureen Salamon, HealthDay Reporter WEDNESDAY, June 22, 2011(HealthDay News)

“the increased consumption of potato chips, French fries, sugary sodas ….as a major cause of weight gain in people across the United States.”

“ lifestyle factors such as television watching, exercise and sleep were also linked to gradual but relentless weight gain….” (No exercise or too little exercise in this case!)

“Data from three separate studies following more than 120,000 healthy, non-obese American women and men for up to 20 years found that participants gained an average of 3.35 pounds within each four-year period -- totaling more than 16 pounds over two decades.”

“The unrelenting weight gain was tied most strongly to eating potatoes, sugar-sweetened beverages…. processed meats and refined grains such as white flour.”

“"This is the obesity epidemic before our eyes," said study author Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, an associate professor in the department of epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health and the division of cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. "It's not a small segment of the population gaining an enormous amount of weight quickly; it's everyone gaining weight slowly."

"I was surprised how consistent the results were, down to the size of the effect and direction of the effect," he said.

The study is published in the June 23 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.”

Participants included 50,422 women in the Nurses' Health Study, followed from 1986 to 2006; 47,898 women in the Nurses' Health Study II, followed from 1991 to 2003; and 22,557 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, tracked from 1986 to 2006.”

…. those doing more physical activity translated into 1.76 fewer pounds gained during each time period.”

(That was over half of the average weight gain of people who did not exercise. Even eating the junk food, that means the exercisers gained 8 pounds instead of 16.8 pounds. They didn’t note that those who ate none of these junkier foods at all likely also gained no weight at all. This certainly shows that exercise is a key to not gaining fat, losing fat and keeping it off!)

The people “….who slept less than six hours or more than eight hours per night also gained more within each study period, as did those who watched more television (an average of 0.31 pounds for every hour of TV watched per day).

…fast food addicts, beware: Each increased daily serving of potato chips alone was associated with a 1.69 pound-weight gain every four years. Other foods most strongly associated with weight gain every four years were potatoes, including fries (a 1.28-pound gain), sugar-sweetened beverages (1-pound gain), unprocessed red meats (0.95-pound gain), and processed meats (0.93-pound gain).”

It seems eating more good for you foods also was worth doing.

This is from AFP's story about this study:

"However there was less weight gain as time went on among people who ate more of certain foods, such as yogurt, vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

People who ate an extra serving of vegetables per day gained 0.22 fewer pounds over a four year period than people who did not. More yogurt meant a 0.82 pound dip, more fruit equaled 0.46 fewer pounds and more nuts meant 0.57 fewer pounds.”

Since this study was of nurses and other health professionals, I suspect a study of less educated and health oriented people would have found more fat gain and far more fat and weight gained from packaged desserts, other packaged snacks, and soft drinks. I also suspect based on other studies I’ve read that the average 20 year weight gain would be closer to 35 pounds or more than the 16.8 in this study.

Despite that, several things are clear from this study.

Here’s what this study reveals you should do to avoid this fat gain or reverse it.

The worst thing you can do is to eat potato snacks often. Clearly hardly ever eating potato chips or similar chips or French fries would have cut the weight gain in this group by from one third to one half.

The best two things to do are to limit TV watching to 2 hours a day or less and getting regular vigorous and moderate exercise each week.

Though this study found that the exercise helped most, a study of more average people would have found that watching less TV would have been almost as effective. In fact I’ve read consistent reports from other studies saying just that.

(When you add that sleeping less than 6 hours tended to make people fat, those who get less than 6 hours of sleep due to late night TV watching get a double dose of fat gain from doing this.)

Similarly, a study of more average people would have had a higher level of soft drink consumption and more of a benefit of drinking none at all.

It’s quite clear that drinking less soft drinks prevents fat gain and not drinking them helps with fat loss.

Yesterday we posted on how to eat less red meat while still getting enough protein and enjoying eating meat sometimes. And, we also posted on why to hardly ever eat processed meats.

This study shows that doing those two things will help prevent fat gain or help in losing fat.

Clearly eating 4 to 6 servings of vegetables a day and some whole fresh fruit and raw or dry roasted nuts if you aren’t allergic also can help.

Lastly, it’s quite clear from this study that eating traditional fast foods will make you fat. Burgers with sauce and refined grain buns and French fries and a soft drink or two is a close to 100 % fattening way to eat this study shows.

(For those willing and able to ONLY eat the healthier choices, here are some ways to eat at fast food places that won’t fatten you.

There are some dishes at Chipotle Bar & Grill you can eat without the grain wrapper. These foods taste great too!

At Burger King and other fast food places some locations have a make it yourself salad bar that can work if you know what to include and not include.

Subway can also work if you avoid the processed meats and have extra of their good variety of veggies instead of the refined grain buns and bread -- and you always avoid the other foods they offer and the soft drinks. They really do a great job on providing a variety of good tasting veggies from mild peppers to tomatoes to onions and more.)

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Processed meats found to be bad for your heart....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 6-21-2011

I was reminded recently that avoiding processed meat most of the time was heart protective. But I don’t recall posting that when that news came out.

A. First, here are 5 ways we already knew to make eating meat safer for your heart.

We now know that it’s possible to eat some meat without harming your heart.

1. Eating less meat helps. Two or three times a week is likely far better for you than 14!

2. Eating a mix of health OK protein foods besides meat helps.

Here are some examples. Eggs, wild caught fish, seafood, beans and lentils, and nuts if you aren’t allergic to them -- are some of the many foods you can eat instead of eating meat every time.

Some skinless and fat trimmed poultry from grain fed birds or if possible from birds fed their natural diet in an unpolluted pasture also works.

Nonfat cottage cheese and some 2% lowfat yogurt and even some full fat cheese if from cows fed only grass can be OK.

3. Then eating the meat you do eat only from animals fed only grass or only the leanest and most fat trimmed meat from grain fed animals also helps.

(By eating less meat, the better for you and more expensive 100 % grass fed meat is more affordable.)

4. Eating meat with onions or garlic -- or wine -- also helps your body process the saturated fat in the meat better.

5. Using only extra virgin olive oil instead of corn, or soy, or canola, or safflower oils cuts your intake of omega 6 oils. That can make eating some meat from grain fed animals that has too much omega 6 oils safer to do.

B. But, I was reminded that there is new information about a whole other category of making meat safe for your heart to eat.

Harvard researchers looked at 20 studies of a total of 1.2 million people and found dramatically more heart disease, 42% more, in people who ate processed meats such as salami, sausage, bacon, hot dogs, and lunch meats than in people who ate other meats. They also found 19 % more type 2 diabetes.

That could be partly from the fact that such meats are often eaten in sandwiches or on pizza with refined grain used to make the bread and pizza dough. Many people eat such foods along with soft drinks as well. (That would certainly help explain the link to type 2 diabetes.)

It’s less well known; but that would also help explain the much higher heart risk. Refined grains and high fructose corn syrup lower your protective HDL and increase your level of heart harmful triglycerides and small particle LDL.

I suspect it’s also likely that the higher fat meats and the curing chemicals used in processed meats helped cause this.

The important thing is to eat processed meats far less often than many people do now.

Eating processed meats twice a month is likely to be far less harmful than eating them twenty times a month.

It may also help to eat such meats that have had less nitrates and nitrites and salt added to them. (Whole foods sells that kind of bacon for example.)

And, it would help for sure to eat them with vegetables or even wine instead of refined grain and soft drinks!

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Monday, June 20, 2011

My monthly fatloss progress report....

Today's Post: Monday, 6-20-2011

Since last month, I gained a pound.

This past month I at least gained no more on my waist. So, some of my extra effort last month got results.

Since I reached my goal weight in December—5 months ago, I’ve now gained 5 pounds and about a full inch on my waist. (Ten of the pounds I lost and an inch and a half off my waist are still gone.)

So, I need to lose 5 pounds total for starters now. And, I still need to lose at least 4 inches off my waist.

According to pictures I’ve seen, I’m now at about 20 % bodyfat or a bit more, perhaps 22%. To remove my abdominal fat, according to those same pictures, I also need to add enough muscle to stay at or just slightly below my goal weight AND lose about 12% of my current bodyweight as fat.

Roughly, I need to lose 20 pounds of fat and gain 15 pounds of muscle to be at 8 to 10% fat and lose the 4 or more inches off my waist. (I’d also be at my goal weight.)

1. My drinks per week have gone up a bit since I was at my goal weight and I clearly have been eating far too much almond butter. So this past month, I had a plan to try to fix each of those problems.

I did manage to cut back half of what I intended last month on my alcoholic drinks. (I went from two a week over my goal to one drink a week over.)

For next month, I have a different new program to try to get my alcoholic drinks down again. (Since, decaf coffee was found to cut aggressive prostate cancer, last month I tried the decaf. But my reflux did NOT put up with the decaf.)

For the next month, I’ll drink a glass of low sodium V8 instead of a half glass or glass of wine. In fact, I’ve already started that.

2. And, instead of eating more than one serving of almond butter most nights a week, I tried only one serving every other day. (That was supposed to move me from 20 servings a week or 40 in two weeks to 7 in two weeks.)

I was pretty good about skipping the almond butter every other day. But I must have eaten more of something else or eaten too much more than one serving a day on the every other day I did eat the almond butter.

Next month, I’ll try just having the almond butter only one day a week. And, instead of cheese, I’ll try a few Brussels sprouts in place of the almond butter. (I found before that adding nonstarchy vegetables is effective. So THAT may help!)

3. I had read an analysis that suggested I might lose more fat if I switched from skim and 1% lowfat milk to 2% lowfat milk and nonfat cottage cheese. (The article in which I found it, has some studies suggesting it may work. It also had some convincing evidence that the nonfat dry milk added to the skim and 1% lowfat milk, increased heart disease risk by causing oxidation of LDL.)

I did make that switch last month. It may not have caused the one pound gain; but since the 2% did have more calories, it might have.

Since the added heart protection is important to me; and it simplified my life to get one kind of milk instead of two, I think I’ll keep that change.

4. I’m almost 100% recovered from my left arm injury and am close to adding some muscle and may have done so in the past month since I’ve been able to resume doing my kettlebell exercises.

My left arm is almost back to where I was before I injured it. It no longer “feels” funny or causes any pains – even mild ones when I do my exercises.

Since I was able to exercise my arm better, the pound I gained might have been muscle. (No increase in my waist size in the last month supports that a bit.)

But, the goal was to gain the muscle and lose a pound of fat too. In my case, the fat loss clearly didn’t show up.

Wish me luck for next month!

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Many Gluten free foods are good for everyone....

Today's Post: Friday, 6-17-2011

Earlier this week I found this, I believe, on HealthDay News.

“The U.S. National Library of Medicine mentions these staples of a gluten-free diet:

Cereals that don't include barley malt or wheat.

Vegetables and fruits.

Fresh fish, poultry and meat that don't include breading or typical gravies.

Dairy products and milk.


This list is quite similar to what foods best support health without making you too fat!

1. Cereals that don't include barley malt or wheat.

Refined grain based breads, snacks, and desserts tend to be made with high gluten wheat flour. Most people eat many foods from this group every day.
Oops! Along with sugar and calorie free sweeteners, these foods help make you fat and tend to cause type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Even if you still digest gluten just fine, NOT eating this junk will dramatically improve your health. (Similarly, NOT drinking soft drinks also helps.)

a) Oats do have gluten but far less than wheat. And, like beans and apples, rolled oats and steel cut oats are high in soluble fiber which tends to protect your heart. (It also helps to avoid the “instant” or extra refined oatmeal just like avoiding refined wheat flour does.)

b) All buckwheat flour has far less gluten than wheat. And, unlike white, refined grain, wheat flour -- whole grain buckwheat flour can be good for you in moderation.

Whole grain buckwheat flour also has the fiber rice flour lacks. Foods made with whole grain buckwheat flour are not super crumbly – unlike rice flour. And whole grain buckwheat flour will spike your blood sugar less than rice flour.

For those who must avoid gluten completely, Bobs Red Mill sells a 100 % gluten free buckwheat flour.

Quinoa, pronounced Keen Wah, I’ve heard, is a high protein, high quality protein grain, or grain substitute, that contains no gluten.

For those who aren’t allergic, lentil flour and almond flour and pecan meal can be good ways to make foods normally made with wheat flour but which will spike your blood sugar far less. And, none of them have gluten.

2. Beer is made from grains. So it’s both fattening and tends to contain gluten.

Red wine and to some extent white wine -- in moderation -- are better for you than beer and are less fattening. They also do not have gluten.

For those who want gluten free beer on occasion, see .

(My local Whole Foods carries two gluten free beers, Red Bridge from Budweiser; & Daura from Spain.)

You’ll also tend to be a bit less fat since gluten-free beer and wine cost more than regular beer.

3. Vegetables and fruits. Neither kind of food contains gluten.

a) And nonstarchy vegetables help you get and stay free of excess fat.

Cruciferous vegetables, particularly raw, help prevent cancer.

Fresh tomatoes are heart healthy, taste good and have vitamin C.

But cooked tomatoes, carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin puree, and cooked broccoli and tomato juice and V8 juice are all high in mixed carotenes that help prevent cancer, cause good health, and increase longevity.

This also works even better if you eat these foods raw in a salad with extra virgin olive oil or cooked with extra virgin olive oil since your body is better able to intake the carotenes.

The healthiest people eat several kinds of vegetables almost every day.

b) Fruit in moderation and mostly whole instead of the juice also provide mulitple health benefits. They also have no gluten.

(They will be less fattening if you eat them at breakfast, eat them with health OK protein, fats and oils at the same meal, and if you get regular vigorous exercise.)

4. Fresh fish, poultry and meat that don't include breading or typical gravies.
These foods do not contain gluten.

Wild caught fish that is high in omega 3 and low or very low in mercury has dramatic health benefits and is a valuable source of animal protein. (Farmed fish is grain fed and is unusually high in multiple kinds of pollutants. I don’t eat fish if it’s other than wild caught for this reason.)

Poultry from pasture fed birds or some extremely fat trimmed and skinless poultry that is grain fed avoids many of the problems of red meat and is a decent source of animal protein.

Meat from 100 % grass fed animals or some extremely lean and fat trimmed meat from grain fed animals is OK as a special treat a few times a month and is high in animal protein.

By marinating meat and using garlic, onions, and spices from ginger to sage and more or sometimes coconut milk, you can get good tasting fish, poultry, and meat. You do not need breading!

(For lean and fat trimmed grain fed meat and poultry, you can add back extra virgin olive oil -- and coconut milk on occasion -- to replace the health damaging fats from the grain feeding.)

You can also use the same spices plus extra virgin olive oil and pureed black-eyed peas, a kind of bean, to make a nongrain gravy that is decent. If you like them, you can also add mushrooms. That kind of gravy has no bad fats or gluten!

5. Dairy products and milk.

These foods don’t contain gluten and milk is an inexpensive source of animal protein. 2% lowfat milk, nonfat cottage cheese, 2% lowfat yogurt, and cheese and even butter, unheated or only lightly heated and in moderation & from
100 % grass fed cows are the dairy foods that are best for you and except for butter are least fattening.

Some people include eggs as a dairy food or food sold in dairies. They have so little fat compared to their high protein that even eggs from grain fed chickens are OK in moderation. Even better, though eggs do tend to boost total cholesterol just bit if it’s low, they boost the HDL or protective part of your cholesterol because of the high choline in their yolks. (You also get massive and mutiple nutrients from egg yolks in addition to half the protein of the egg. So in most cases, I suggest including egg yolks when you eat eggs.)

5. Beans and lentils are high in heart protective soluble fiber and total fiber. They are also high in protein. They are also relatively low glycemic. Even better, they are very inexpensive.

(One way to afford the slightly higher prices for grass fed beef and wild caught fish is to eat beans or beans and nonfat cottage cheese or cheese from grass fed cows for dinner a few times a week.)

Corn and rice and brown rice also have protein. And they do not have gluten.

But corn is relatively high glycemic and quite high in omega 6. I’ve always liked corn personally but it’s best kept as a very occasional food only.

Rice and even brown rice are quite high glycemic foods. (If you eat it, I suggest eating only brown rice, eating the brown rice with extra virgin olive oil or butter and an animal protein food. It also helps not to eat it at every meal and to eat it only in small servings.)

A lot of the foods and drinks that are most fattening or harmful to eat including soft drinks, are NOT on this list.

So, there is indeed a good bit of overlap of gluten free foods with foods that are best to eat!

(For those who can eat wheat and other foods with gluten, you can stay that way with better success and being less fat, if you eat only the whole grain version AND if you only eat any every other day or a bit less often. AND if you eat it only in small quantities. This minimizes getting fat from eating it or developing allergies to it by overdosing on it.)

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

New information on preventing strokes....

Today's Post: Thursday, 6-16-2011

We have already posted that you can protect your heart and help prevent cancer by cutting WAY back on oils high in omega 6 such as soy, canola, safflower, and particularly corn oil. It also helps to mostly avoid the fat of animals and poultry fed grain. (Meat from 100 % grass fed cattle and lambs and pasture fed poultry does NOT have this problem. Grass fed, “grain finished” beef is basically higher cost grain fed beef.)

You can also add more health OK sources of omega 3 such as wild caught salmon, sardines, herring, and small mackerel – and omega 3 supplements from purified fish oil.

Doing both begins to give you much lower chronic inflammation and healthier and less clogged up arteries and other blood vessels.

There is also evidence that using extra virgin olive oil instead of oils high in omega 6 helps to do this and has direct health benefits too!

So, you are far less likely to get vascular dementia, heart attacks, PAD, peripheral artery disease, and ED, erectile dysfunction, by using olive oil instead of oils high in omega 6 or dairy fat from grain fed cows in the form of butter.

It certainly follows that you also likely will get less strokes, particularly the kind caused by clots blocking off the blood flow to your brain, obstructive strokes.

In fact, a study was reported today that found just using olive oil often reduced the incidence of strokes!

AP had this headline: “Olive oil could lower stroke risk: study (Older people who eat olive oil have a lower risk of stroke.) AFP Wed Jun 15, 2011 WASHINGTON”

“Older people who eat olive oil have a lower risk of stroke than those who do not, suggested a study of more than 7,000 French people that was published Wednesday in the United States.”

“The subjects were divided into groups according to their use of olive oil, ranging from people who did not use it at all to those who used it in dressing, cooking and on bread.”

“When researchers adjusted for factors such as body weight, physical activity and overall diet, they found that the so-called "intensive" olive oil users had a 41 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those who never ate olive oil.”

“The findings were published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.”

Other ways to prevent strokes include:

Eating blueberries several times a week. This also benefits your brain and improves mental performance directly besides making strokes less likely.

Eating the DASH II diet with olive oil added or eating the Mediterranean diet with more nonstarchy vegetables and less grains keeps your blood pressure at normal levels or lowers it if its high. (Even if your blood pressure stays over 140 over 90 eating this way will help you prevent strokes. Besides the olive oil, the increase in potassium and decrease in sodium and the lowering of excessive blood sugar from eating this way also prevents strokes.)

(Eating that way and NOT including soft drinks or commercial desserts or snacks also has many other health benefits. And you’ll be far less fat.)

If you have blood pressure of over 140 over 90, adding regular exercise and avoiding tobacco smoke AND eating this way are important to protect you from strokes and heart attacks. Doing meditation or better yet Tai Chi for stress relief also helps. So does losing at least 5% of your current weight if you are one of the 50% of Americans who are too fat now. Your blood pressure will be lower and stop getting higher as fast.

If your blood pressure is consistently well over 160 over 100, lowering it using a drug or two is important for avoiding strokes and kidney damage. As you do the other things, you may well find your blood pressure will stay well below that even without the drug or drugs. But if it’s over that, taking the drugs does cut stroke risk.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How vigorous and regular exercise slows aging....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 6-14-2011

We have already posted that a study was done of regular runners and exercisers.

That study found they lived years longer with less signs of aging and had fewer diseases from heart disease to cancer than very similar people who did not exercise.

And, we did a post when another study found that people doing regular, vigorous exercise several days a week not only had higher LDL and lower triglycerides and LDL from doing such exercise. In addition, their readings got better every year they kept exercising!

We have already posted that vigorous exercise causes your body to release growth hormones including testosterone and BDNF that grows new nerves.

We may have even posted the research that found that exercised muscles did not show signs of aging or slower response and action times.

Now, thanks to the research that Dr Al Sears found, we know why.

It’s beginning to be well known that the cause of aging is the shortening of the telomeres at the end of the DNA in cells. When the DNA between the telomeres at the two ends of each strand of DNA is intact, the cell it’s in makes perfect copies. But when the telomeres get too short, imperfect copies are made until no more copies are made at all or the body marks the cell for elimination.

1. Dr Sears found a study done on twins who got differing amounts of exercise.

A recent study of 2,401 twins found that physical activity was related to telomere length.

Those twins who exercised moderately had telomeres that looked five or six years younger than a twin who did none.

The twins who exercised vigorously had telomeres that looked nine years younger!

2. Dr Sears also found a study by researchers in Germany who found that intense exercise keeps your cardiovascular system from aging by preventing shortening of telomeres.

Vigorous exercise is not the only way to keep longer telomeres and slow aging.

But vigorous exercise has so many benefits including helping you get and stay trim and more that it makes sense to use it.

Best of all, it can be done in short sessions at home each morning for no money or close to no money.

These sessions can be as little as 6 to 10 minutes or as long as half an hour depending on how many exercises you do.

Most people can fit in 6 to 15 minutes most mornings for such vigorous exercises. (If you can also do brisk walks or Tai Chi for 20 to 40 minutes several times each week that’s a plus. But the brief and strenuous or fast exercises do you the most good. And, they do NOT need to take long to do!)

Half squats require no equipment. Pushups don’t need equipment; but putting down a towel so you don’t breathe floor or rug dust is a good idea. For crunches or marching in place while lifting your knees high it can be nice to have a soft rug or a gym mat.

For jumping rope, it’s important to have a soft rug or a gym mat. But you may already have an appropriate rug.

Or you can do “rebounding”, jumping on a mini-trampoline. These cost less than
$200. Last time I checked, the urban rebounder cost close to $150. See . (I just checked and they also have DVD set of advanced exercises that looked to be unusually effective at helping people lose abdominal fat.)

You can also buy single dumbbells at different weights and do each exercise once for each hand. You can even buy them used and locally in some cases.

The nice thing is that you can use the time you exercise your other hand as a break. That means that you can literally go from exercise to exercise with almost no break needed in between exercises.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

New way to stop food cravings....

Today's Post: Monday, 6-13-2011

1. There are a lot of ways to stop food cravings that work.

Here are five of the highlights:

a) Stop drinking soft drinks, eating commercial desserts and snacks, all refined grain foods, white rice, potatoes, and cut WAY back on sugar. Instead eat no glycemic or low glycemic foods that are high in health OK protein and oils and nonstarchy vegetables, beans and lentils, and low glycemic whole fruit.

Foods in the list to stop -- fatten by making your insulin surge and then give you rebound hunger within a short time after you ingest them. The companies that make them also add addictive compounds to many of them to make sure you buy more! That gives you hard to control cravings.

But eating foods in the second group makes you less hungry without the cravings until you actually need to eat again.

b) When you see a tasty but fattening food, focus on what ingredients it has and the results of ingesting them.

This is proven to work. It’s a bit like meditation, it does take practice if you are new at it.

Plus, the more you know about how things like sugar, starch, refined grains, high fructose corn syrup, omega 6 oils, and trans fats act as disease fertilizer for multiple diseases and make you fat, the easier it gets.

c) Always eat breakfast and eat enough to last you well until lunchtime and have a health OK snack as a fallback.

If you can, work for a company that does NOT provide free pastries and soft drinks or have many people bring in home-made desserts several days each week.

People who don’t eat breakfast, routinely get near uncontrollable hunger surges at work during the day – or at dinner.

Also, it’s easier to avoid junky treats if they aren’t there and you don’t see others consuming them.

d) Lower perceived stress by getting better at acting to solve your problems.
Make more prudent choices to avoid severe stress. (Always wearing your seat belt and never texting while driving and the like can save you a LOT of grief.) You need not have stress driven cravings if you avoid stuff that causes severe stress!

Get regular exercise and do tai chi if you are able. That lowers physical stress even when you ARE getting hammered.

e) Avoid cutting back too much on calories or volume of food. If you eat half or less of what your body needs day after day long enough, you’ll trigger your famine response. Your body then triggers massive waves of food cravings.

Why go there?

Cut back less. Cut back some every other day instead of every day. Exercise more to cut net calories but eat a bit less instead of eating a lot less. Eat more health OK protein foods and do NOT eat less protein foods. Eat more nonstarchy vegetables. Each of these helps cut some calories without triggering your famine response.

2. Today, I found yet another way to lower food cravings. The food cravings it causes can be strong and even happen to people who do all the previous things right!

In addition, it can make doing some of these five things harder to do.

And, lots of us today have it!

Today this story was on the HealthDay online news.:

“Sleep-Deprived People May Crave High-Calorie Foods

By Denise Mann HealthDay Reporter MONDAY, June 13, 2011 (HealthDay News)”

The article notes that sleep deprivation makes the intelligent focus on the results of eating foods less by cutting back on the energy that part of your brain has to do it.

More important, sleep deprivation has the same effect on your hunger hormones as not eating enough.

The article quoted a woman researcher, “Dr. Shelby Freedman Harris, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y.”

She said that previous studies found that sleep deprivation increases “…. the hormone ghrelin, which tells you when to eat, and decreases in the hormone leptin, which tells you to stop eating.”

She made clear that combining this with the partial shutdown of your reasoning centers in your brain from sleep shortages found in this new research makes it close to impossible to control the cravings that you get.

"Get more sleep," she advised.”

Three ways to do that are:

1. Sleep better from NOT watching most after dinner TV.

Watch less TV in general & stick to shows that are high priority for you. Tape shows late in the day to watch later on most days if they come on too late. Get your up to date news & weather from radio in the morning on your way to work or online earlier in the evening or in a few minutes the next morning.

2. Always get up at exactly the same time each weekday morning. And, begin setting up for bed by 7 hours before that so you usually get well over 6 to 6 and a half hours of sleep.

3. Do the things that cause good sleep and avoid those that tend to disrupt it.

People who exercise on most days sleep far better than those who do not.

People who drink too much coffee or too much alcohol or take certain statin drugs have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.

After two or maybe 3 cups of coffee a day, switch to tea.

Stick to one or two drinks or less most days and stop by an hour or two before you go to bed. More alcohol than that tends to trigger less restful sleep and wake you too early when your body overdoes getting rid of the alcohol later that night.

Use lifestyle upgrades and niacin and sterols and avoid statins to prevent heart disease. It’s safer and more effective for most people and does NOT cause insomnia.

IF you can make your bedroom cool and quiet, do it. (Not everyone can. But if you can, it helps a lot!)

Put up blackout curtains and leave off inside lights. Most people can do that. And, those who do sleep better and may also be less likely to get some cancers. Doing this causes your body to release the right amount of melatonin and helps your body set up to help you sleep at the same time most nights.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Why avoid baldness and BPH drugs....

Today's Post: Friday, 6-10-2011

1. Those drugs for hair loss and BPH, benign prostate enlargement, that work by reducing testosterone levels have always been drugs that have more side effects than desired effects.

Testosterone improves mood and improves concentration. Testosterone is a growth hormone that helps you keep your muscles or build more if you exercise and helps keep your bones strong. And, that’s IN ADDITION to helping you want and enjoy sex that is testosterone’s best known effect.

There is even some information that low testosterone can contribute to heart disease. That means that testosterone helps prevent heart disease if you have a normal amount.

So, drugs to reverse testosterone and lower its levels reverse these benefits.

To me that means drugs for hair loss and BPH, benign prostate enlargement, that work by reducing testosterone levels started out being truly BAD drugs.

And, it turns out they are far worse than that!

They also increase your risk of dying from aggressive prostate cancer. Oops!

*(See the news a bit later in this post.)

(We also did a post recently, on Thursday, 5-19 this year, 2011, on ways to prevent aggressive prostate cancer. Clearly avoiding these drugs belongs on that list!)

2. If you are balder than you’d like, there are several alternatives to these drugs that work. You can build the rest of you and your self-esteem enough that baldness becomes a minor issue. You can wear a stylish hat as Dallas coach Tom Landry once did. Or, if you are truly determined not to be bald, you can literally have hair implants much like re-seeding a lawn.

And, urine flow reductions that are onerous or medically harmful from BPH can be corrected with surgery or laser surgery.

There are also a number of supplements that can turn off the process that causes BPH or which increase urine flow.

Saw Palmetto has a good track record of improving or keeping good urine flow. So does the sterol supplement beta sitosterol. (Since saw palmetto also has sterols and sterols are a safe and effective way to lower LDL cholesterol, I have been taking both of those for quite some time. I did some other things too; but in dropping my LDL from 130 to 73, these two supplements did part of the job.)

In addition, testosterone does NOT directly cause your prostate to grow to too large a size. If and only if it is converted into a substance called DHT is it problematic. DHT does cause your prostate to grow to too large a size.

But if instead of lowering testosterone, you prevent it from being converted to DHT, you prevent or stop the prostate growth.

Several supplements exist that prevent or reduce this conversion. They include bee pollen, nettle root, and pumpkin seeds.

Since saw palmetto, beta sitosterol, and pygeum improve urinary flow and pygeum reduces extra nighttime trips to the bathroom, they may also have this effect.

3. *Here’s the two headlines I saw in the news:

a) “Prostate drugs raise risk of prostate cancer: FDA Thurs, 6-9-2011 WASHINGTON (Reuters)

A class of drugs meant to improve symptoms of an enlarged prostate gland actually increase the chance of getting a more serious form of prostate cancer, health officials said on Thursday.”

b) “Drugs for Enlarged Prostate May Raise Risk of Aggressive Cancer THURSDAY, June 9, 2011 (HealthDay News)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is calling for new warning labels on a class of drugs used primarily to treat enlarged prostates, because the medications may raise the risk of developing an aggressive form of prostate cancer.

In a statement released Thursday, the agency said the drugs involved include popular medications sold under the brand names Proscar and Propecia (sold by Merck & Co.) and Avodart and Jalyn (sold by GlaxoSmithKline).”

Millions of men have taken these drugs according these news articles.

With their already known side effects, hopefully this news will make them as unpopular and unused as they already deserved to be.

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Thursday, June 09, 2011

Add muscle and remove fat....

Today's Post: Thursday, 6-9-2011

Half of Americans are too fat and most of the rest of us would like to be less fat.

Since muscle burns more calories than fat, if you have more muscle, you can eat more and still be trim.

Exercises such as strength training and interval cardio and vigorous or forceful activities people do tend to add muscle, burn calories while doing them, AND burn calories after you do them. They are also marvelously good for your health!

So, it has been quite clear for years that adding muscle is an effective way to lose excess fat. It makes losing fat doable without having eat too much less. That makes the fat loss from such exercise an effective way to keep the fat off!

So both doing the exercises and adding the muscle help with permanent fat loss!

A researcher has found that a substance in apple peels and other foods, ursolic acid, enables you to safely add even more muscle when you do these kinds of exercises. It may even help people who don’t or can’t exercise keep what muscle they have.

The even more surprising news is that it also reduces bodyfat well enough in addition that it may do so directly in addition the effect of the added muscle.

(Ursolic acid is thought to do this by making both growth hormone and insulin more effective. The lower blood levels of insulin from this would help explain the fat loss.)

The researcher who did the study, a Dr Christopher Adams, of the University of Iowa, examined the genetic changes that occur when muscles waste or atrophy.
After he evaluated 1,300 chemicals, for reasons not in the news stories, he decided to test ursolic acid as a way to trigger the expression of genes that would reverse this effect.

He then fed a normal diet for them to mice with small amounts of ursolic acid included as a supplement.

The muscles of the mice got bigger; and the mice got stronger. (He apparently had a way to test their grip strength.)

The mice fed ursolic acid had lower levels of cholesterol and other blood fats that tend to damage their hearts.

AND, they had around a third less body fat!

All the news stories on this study talk about apple peel as that is apparently the inexpensive food that the researcher used in the mice when he got this effect.

Apple peel is moderately high in ursolic acid. It’s apparently the substance or part of it that gives organic apple peel a waxy texture.

I’ve always thought that apple peel tasted like thin canvas so I’ve long preferred peeled apples and applesauce.

So it’s good news that this substance, ursolic acid, is available from many other foods and three kinds of supplements.

I’ve always liked the spice, sage. Ursolic acid is in sage in a high enough concentration that the one direct supplement for it is a sage extract.

Ursolic Acid Capsules $79.95 Sage Extract (75% Ursolic Acid) 100 capsules 58.5 mg / serving 33 servings)

Sage is also easy to grow. So if you like it enough to include in salads or other foods, you can get it for a lot less money.

What I cannot yet tell you is how much you need to take or eat to get this effect.

I hope to find out.

Dr Adams said that ursolic acid is particularly concentrated in apple peel but is also found in cranberries and prunes -- and in basil, oregano and thyme.

Wikipedia has this: "Ursolic acid is present in many plants, including apples, basil, bilberries, cranberries, elder flower, peppermint, rosemary, lavender, oregano, thyme, hawthorn, prunes."

That reveals that bilberry supplements and hawthorn supplements likely contain ursolic acid.

"Ursolic acid is.... also capable of inhibiting various types of cancer cells by inhibiting the STAT3 activation pathway[3][4] and human fibrosarcoma cells by reducing the expression of matrix metalloproteinase-9 by acting through the glucocorticoid receptor. As medicine, it is well tolerated.... "

That too is exciting news since cancer and cancer treatments can kill in part by causing people to lose muscle mass.

That means that ursolic acid may be an underused anticancer drug too.

If it can both slow the growth of cancer cells and keep the patient’s lean muscle mass intact, it may also be more important as an anticancer medicine than has been known before.

The other news is that it may work best by eating the foods that contain it. And you can go today to the store or health food store and buy the foods or bilberry or hawthorn supplements!

You can certainly make some interesting and spicy salads with these ingredients!

It may also give doctors something to prescribe to young men who overdo anabolic steroids that is safer and effective enough to keep them from losing all the new muscle that they want to keep. That way the young men will be more willing to give up the anabolic steroids to protect their health. And, they will suffer less of a crash and burn effect on their muscles than they would have experienced otherwise.

(Note that ursolic acid has been tested to work to build muscle and remove fat as a food supplement. I am unaware that the drug version of ursolic acid has been so tested. But I would certainly expect it to work when tested.)

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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Best Diets for fat loss and health....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 6-7-2011

On AOL this morning I found an article titled:

“10 Best Diets for Weight Loss, Heart Health, and Diabetes”

The article was based the ratings by U.S. News & World Report.

They rated each diet on:

Reported weight loss the first year.

Reported weight loss after two years or more.

Estimated ease to stay on -- based on being filling enough and tasting good enough and not having too many special requirements.

Being at least minimally health OK by being nutritious enough to meet minimum standards and avoiding foods that tended to cause diabetes or heart disease and avoiding health problems caused by the diet.

The article did not state which version of each diet they reported on. That can change their results. (Dean Ornish’s latest information sounds a good bit closer to the post we did recently on how to make your diet most health supporting than his original no fat diet for example.)

It sounds like they didn’t get feedback from people actually on the diets.

Nor does it say what standards they used for foods that might cause diabetes or heart disease. So it’s a bit hard to say they have accurate information.

They also left out a diet that I think would have scored well on most of these criteria, the South Beach Diet.

That said, they had some decent results based on what I know of the diets listed.

Best Weight-Loss Diet Winner: Weight Watchers

Best Heart-Healthy Diet Winner: Ornish Diet
Third place: DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet

Best Diabetes Diet: Winner: DASH Diet

Best Commercial Diet Plan: Winner: Weight Watchers

Best Diet Overall Winner: DASH Diet
Runners-up: Mediterranean Diet, and Weight Watchers

They also listed a TLC Diet & the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes Diet and Jenny Craig in some of the runners up categories but since I don’t know these well, this post is more about the winners and the diets I do know.

1. Weight Watchers has recently upgraded their points system and now is more health oriented and a bit more exercise oriented than they were.

They could move to restricting soft drinks, sweet or salty snacks, commercial desserts, and refined grains more than they do. And, they need even more emphasis on health and on exercise. But they do a lot of things right already.

But their three key strengths have always been that their points system shows that eating a lot more nonstarchy vegetables is a key to fat loss without going hungry, the coaching and moral support in meetings, and teaching their customers to monitor their points each week.

They have room to improve yet by my standards. But their strengths work. And, Weight Watchers is improving.

2. The DASH diet is set to feature more vegetables of all kinds and some fresh fruit and has no soft drinks, sweet or salty snacks, or commercial desserts. It aims to increase nutrition and fiber and potassium from foods and to move salt from way too much to moderately low. It does cause weight loss and tends to do so without hunger. And, for people who need the help and really follow the DASH diet well, it does lower elevated blood pressure.

By adding some health OK proteins and lowering carbs and adding even more vegetables it can even be better for fat loss. And, adding extra virgin olive oil would improve its health track record.

3. The current Ornish diet is pretty good. Dean Ornish has a new book out called, The Spectrum: A Scientifically Proven Program to Feel Better, Live Longer, Lose Weight, and Gain Health.

If you turn up your eating to a high level on his “spectrum” using his information, I think you will get both good health results and tend to lose fat.

4. The Mediterranean Diet includes more vegetables than the average American eats and no soft drinks, sweet or salty snacks, or commercial desserts. It also features extra virgin olive oil instead of oils high in omega 6 or saturated fats. It includes cooked tomatoes, garlic, and enough spices to make the foods in it taste good. And, it features moderate consumption of red wine with dinner.

It’s easy to stay on and has multiple health benefits. It does well with heart health and preventing Alzheimer’s disease for example.

By cutting back on bread and pasta a good bit, keeping the olive oil and red wine at moderate levels and adding even more nonstarchy vegetables it can even work as a fat loss diet.

My own view is that combining these diets in a way that fits you and gives you foods you like to eat is the best diet.

It also helps to move your diet towards the components that help you lose excess body fat or keep it off and those that best support good health.

As you can see, there is a good bit of overlap in these best diets – particularly in the parts that help you lose excess body fat or keep it off and those that best support good health.

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Monday, June 06, 2011

New information on preventing Alzheimer's disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and ALS....

Today's Post: Monday, 6-6-2011

I recently read a story that said that as many as two thirds of people have a gene which predisposes them to problems with the myelin that surrounds their nerves.

If the myelin breaks down, the nerve it protects can stop transmitting messages and may even be subject to permanent damage. (Myelin is the fatty protective layer around nerves. It's like the protective and insulating wrapping for electric wires.)

Myelin damage, according to that story, may be a significant cause of Alzheimer's disease, So, if you prevent myelin damage, that would prevent you from getting Alzheimer's disease, from that cause. Also, MS, multiple sclerosis, and ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a form of disease of the motor nerves that control all your muscles are largely caused by damage to the myelin surrounding those nerves.

The rest of this post has information on how to protect your myelin and nerves and even restore them in some cases.

1. I read a recent article on a Yahoo feature on foods that are good for your brain, Then when two of the foods listed tended to build and protect myelin, that got my attention.

One food was high in vitamin B1 and they also listed omega 3 oils directly. The article said that B1 & omega 3 oils were good for the myelin covering your nerves.

The food, pork, that was listed as high in vitamin B1 is not that high in B1and is a bit of a mixed review to eat often. But, vitamin B1 supplements of 100 mg once a day are quite inexpensive. ( I take one a day in part because I drink red wine most days and alcohol tends to wipe out some of your B1. In addition, since the other B vitamins are also valuable and your health results are likely to be much better if you take them in addition to the B1 instead of only taking the B1, I also take the balanced vitamin B supplement from Solgar called B Complex, Stress Formula plus C.)

(There is also a kind of upgraded vitamin B1 called benfotiamine that has been found to make neuropathy less severe. So it might also have some restorative capacity to rebuild damaged myelin. Benfotiamine is available as a supplement.)

Getting enough omega 3 oils for best results is a bit more complex. Eating wild caught salmon, sardines, herring, or small mackerels two or three times a week provides a good bit of omega 3 oils. You can also take purified fish oil omega 3 and DHA supplements. And, you can eat raw walnuts, kiwi fruit, and/or a kind of green called purslane for ALA, the plant based omega 3. These foods give you the ALA along with fiber and other good for you nutrients.

But -- for best results in lowering inflammation and protecting your health, it's very important get this extra omega 3 oil while cutting down or removing sugar, refined grain foods, and oils high in omega 6 from oils such as corn, soy, safflower, and even canola oil. Your body responds to the ratio of omega 3 oil to omega 6 besides using the omega 3 oils directly. By eliminating excess omega 6 and refined grain foods and sharply limiting sugar, you get much better lowering of chronic inflammation and improved blood flow. That protects your nerves and brain the best. But it also protects your heart and all the rest of you!

2. Preventing damage to your myelin and nerves is also protective.

If your body, in an autoimmune malfunction, attacks your myelin and nerves, that can cause these problems.

But there are two ways that have a track record of preventing this.

It's been found that high blood levels of vitamin D3 tend to prevent autoimmune diseases. And, taking 4.000 to 8,000 iu a day of vitamin D3 begins to give you as much vitamin D3 as summer sunshine and looks to be enough to provide this protection.

Many herbicides and pesticides cause myelin and nerve damage. So not using herbicides and pesticides in your home or garden to the maximum extent you can, protects your nerves. And, studies also show it is very important to avoid being downwind of commercial spraying of herbicides or pesticides-- particularly on a windy day.

In addition, statin drugs we now know only benefit a minority of people with a specific gene type. We also know far more effective ways to prevent heart attacks than taking statins. (We’ve posted on each of these.)

But in many cases, statin drugs cause neuropathy, insomnia, and memory loss. So, it looks to me that to protect your nerves and brain, statin drugs are best avoided. At the very least you should only take them if you test to be in the genetic subgroup that is best helped and if you are using the other more effective methods to protect your heart.

3. You can also repair and regrow nerves. People who do this avoid all kinds of mental decline and tend to avoid heart disease. They also live longer because their rate of aging slows down.

How is that done?

By doing several forms of exercise each week.

We now know that all kinds of regular exercise supply your nerves with better circulation, prevent damage to at least some degree from too high blood sugar, AND release BDNF a growth hormone that specifically helps your body repair your nerves and grow new one!

Even brief sessions a few times a week each of strength training and interval cardio are most effective at this since they release the most growth hormones.

But more moderate exercise such as brisk walking or dancing or even some housework and gardening also work. But since they are less intense, they take longer to do than many people can easily fit in.

But if you do that, it is effective. For example, recent studies found that people who walk a total of 6 miles a week prevent the brain shrinkage more sedentary people get.

4. In addition to taking vitamin D3, it has been found that taking curcumin supplements which are derived from the spice turmeric tend to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. There is even some evidence this may reverse early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Eating curried foods that contain turmeric several times a week is also helpful.

5. Avoiding food sources of lead, mercury, and aluminum may also help.

For example, fish like swordfish and King or large Mackerel, and shark is best avoided for the high levels of mercury. And, eating tuna about once a month or less is likely also a good idea.

Avoiding high fructose corn syrup also helps reduce your mercury intake. Based on the way high fructose corn syrup is made, tests recently found that high fructose corn syrup contained mercury in about 30% of the samples tested including in name brand products.

Avoiding baked goods or only eating those with non-aluminum double acting baking powder also avoids eating aluminum.

It’s also been found that eating cilantro in salsas, salads, and soups works to remove some of the mercury, lead, and aluminum from your body.

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Friday, June 03, 2011

Soy protein and oil in many foods is best avoided....

Today's Post: Friday, 6-2-2011

Tuesday, this week, Dr Al Sears sent out an email with three articles.

The first article was about soy.

Traditional fermented Japanese soy foods such as miso and tofu are processed to remove the natural toxins in the soybeans. And the soybeans are from normal soybeans that are the same as soybeans were from earlier times.

Eating moderate amounts of these foods from time to time seems safe and even may have some health benefits in addition to the protein content.

But what about soy formula for babies, textured protein from soy used in nonmeat substitutes and many nutrition bars for protein, what about soy milk and soy ice cream substitutes, and added to real ice creams and breads?

What about soy oil in many other foods?

Except for moderate intake of fermented soy of the several kinds eaten in Japan made from naturally occurring soy, these other soy products are bad for you in mulitple ways.

1. They are made from genetically modified soybeans. That means they start out including pesticides and herbicides inside the soy where they cannot be washed off or removed.

2. Eating processed soy has caused gout, thyroid problems, and infertility. The scientific literature says that eating such soy increases lp(a) levels which increases heart disease risk. And, the phyto-estrogens in it can reduce testosterone causing sex problems.

Soy somehow got a reputation as being good for you likely due to the good health of people in Japan who have many other health supporting practices and foods and for people trying to avoid meat and other animal products.

So, since the genetically modified soy is so cheap to grow, food manufacturers put it into all kinds of foods.

So, to avoid it, you have to be really consistent at reading labels.

3. Soy oil is one of the several kinds of oils that are quite high in omega 6. And, soy oil from genetically modified soybeans is in an extremely large number of products including a majority of premade salad dressings. This is because such soy oil is very cheap to buy.

The problem is that this results in excessive omega 6 intake which causes high chronic inflammation which definitely causes heart disease and heart attacks and is thought to also help cause cancer and Alzheimer's disease.

So if you want to have stir fried tofu and vegetables as a nonmeat change of pace you are likely OK.

But the other kinds of processed soy foods and soybean oil are NOT good for you.

Do yourself a favor and avoid them.

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Thursday, June 02, 2011

Healthier low carb diets....

Today's Post: Thursday, 6-2-2011

A. First, here is what the consensus on low carb diets is beginning to be:

Despite their differences, many writers on good health and weight loss and low carb diets share some things in common.:

1. As my wife pointed out they virtually all say that too much sugar or virtually any foods made from refined grain flour are bad for you and fattening.

a) So, you will be far healthier if you almost never eat high fructose corn syrup or drink anything containing it.*

You will be far healthier if you only eat a small or moderate serving of a food with sugar and do so between once and only a few times a month instead of several times every day!

*(Because of the cheapness of high fructose corn syrup, foods with it often have more sugar. A good bit of high fructose corn syrup was tested to contain mercury. And despite only having a bit more fructose -- because it is free fructose, high fructose corn syrup boosts your insulin more and is far more fattening than regular sugar. So, for good health and not being fat, never ingest the stuff!)

Soft drinks are the worst case kind of sugar to avoid. You experience zero reduction in hunger while taking in a lot of calories. But you also get a blood sugar surge followed by a surge of insulin to control it. Then you get rebound hunger later. And, the extra insulin causes your body to store fat and not release it. So you take in more calories and turn virtually all of them into hard to lose fat.

And, just today, I found out WHY diet soft drinks fatten. In addition to having artificial sweeteners that may well not be all that safe for everyone to ingest, diet soft drinks cause your body to crave more sugar. So you may well eat more and make up for the sugar not in your soft drinks. But the scary thing is that your body causes this by boosting your insulin when you fool it into thinking sweets are coming. That extra insulin plus any sweets you eat later is WHY diet soft drinks are fattening to drink. Just like regular soft drinks, the extra insulin causes your body to store fat and not release it. So you take in more calories and turn virtually all of them into hard to lose fat.

b) Most people today eat foods made from refined grains several times a day. They will be far healthier and much less fat if they eat none instead. The blood sugar and insulin surge from eating them is just as fattening as if you ate sugar. And with refined grain foods, it may even be MORE fattening than sugar!

Whole grain foods also boost blood sugars. The best solution is to not eat whole grains either and eat vegetables or beans or nuts instead. If you want fat loss, the least needed cutback is to only eat whole grains once or twice a day and not at all at least half the days of the week.

2. As Dr Al Sears pointed out in his email today, eating enough protein and fats prevents your body from triggering its famine response that stops fat loss.

Protein and fats, along with fiber, also allow you to eat without feeling hungry because protein and fat turns off your appetite and unlike carbohydrates you avoid any hunger rebound later.

According to the research found by Gary Taubes we reported on in our post last time on Tuesday this week, you may even be able to create and sustain fat loss without cutting calories AT ALL if almost all of what you eat is protein foods and fats or oils.

Without the fast or excessive carbohydrates to trigger insulin surges, your fat storage response and denied access to using your fat for energy no longer happens!

3. Gary Taubes also writes that fast carbohydrates or excessive amounts of carbohydrates are far more potent heart disease creators than fats ever were.

The research on this is so persuasive this is becoming a consensus view.

4. Virtually all competent writers on good health or effective weight or fat loss also say that a wide variety and substantial daily intake of nonstarchy vegetables is extremely important.

You get massive amounts and multiple kinds of health supporting nutrients by eating a lot of nonstarchy vegetables each week.

But since they are mostly nutrients, water, and fiber, they have virtually no calories.

So you can eat all you want to eat and turn off hunger for awhile with NO addition to your fat stores.

Nonstarchy vegetables release what little carbs they do have from their fiber so slowly that there is no insulin surge from eating them.

B. But eating a lot of grain fed meat and a high intake of saturated fat from animal sources does tend to cause health problems.

Research shows that people who eat any meat only once or twice a week are often healthier than people who eat meat at least once a day.

And, people who eat more monosaturated fats from olive oil, nuts, and avocados and omega 3 oils from wild caught fish or supplements are far healthier than people who get their fat from sources of saturated fat or omega 6 oils.

The good news is that the danger from saturated fats from naturally fed animals is far less dangerous than was recently thought. So if you have cold butter or butter melted at low temperatures or sour cream on occasion, it isn’t quite the danger that it was once thought to be.

In both China and in France the parts of those countries who ate the most saturated fats had the most heart attacks however. In addition, a lot of meats and dairy products come from grain fed animals which harm you with excess omega 6 oils too.

But the danger from the omega 6 oils and other pollutants in meat from grain fed animals is far worse for your health and heart than was ever imagined. It causes heart disease and very possibly brain damage and cancer because it causes high levels of chronic inflammation.

So, Dr Al Sears and cardiologist Dr Arthur Agatson’s emphasis on the more health supporting kinds of proteins and oils IS correct and worth using instead of just eating a lot more meat and dairy foods.

So for a health supporting low carb diet:

Eat protein from eggs, wild caught fish, sustainable & unpolluted seafood, some lowfat dairy, nuts, and beans and lentils – along with some meat from animals fed only grass or their natural foods a few times a month or a week. Eating cheese from animals fed only grass also works.

All those foods plus avocados and extra virgin olive oil and purified omega 3 supplements all provide health supporting oils.

C. Partially starchy vegetables such as squash and yams and sweet potatoes as well as many kinds of whole fruit contain carbohydrates and can slow fat loss.

To a lesser extent so can beans and lentils.

But people who get a lot of fiber are far healthier than those who don’t. And people who get the nutrients in those foods are healthier than people who don’t.

In addition, many people drop out of low carb fat loss programs. Some do it because they really have no clue how seriously harmful sugars and refined grains are. Some do it because they haven’t learned to focus on the consequences of foods instead of only their taste.

But some do it because they don’t eat enough nonstarchy vegetables and get a bit too hungry.

And, some quit because they begin to question not eating any of these health supporting foods.

So, the third way to make low carb eating good for you AND sustainable is to include some partially starchy vegetables such as squash and yams and sweet potatoes and whole fresh fruit such as berries.

Eating beans and lentils is even better because they have protein and a lot of fiber and are inexpensive to buy. Beans and lentils also are much more sustainable than even grass fed meat let alone grain fed meat.

In fact, beans and lentils release their carbs so slowly they actually help people lose fat almost as well as health OK protein foods, fats, and nonstarchy vegetables.

D. The other major way to make low carb dieting produce better health without losing less fat is to do regular exercise.

You gain muscle and bone weight and increase your metabolism and get multiple health and self esteem benefits from regular exercise.

You don’t burn enough calories with exercise to make eating sugars and refined grains less fattening. Gary Taubes is likely right about that.

But you do burn enough more calories to make eating some partially starchy vegetables such as squash and yams and sweet potatoes and whole fresh fruit doable without stopping your fat loss – IF you do enough regular exercise. And if you keep doing it every week.

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