Friday, July 29, 2011

Strength Training and interval cardio slash diabetes and heart risks....

Today's Post: Friday, 7-29-2011

This is true for many reasons!

a) One of them is that having more muscle mass means that even when you are NOT exercising you burn more glucose and that alone helps lower your blood sugar, lower your insulin level, and prevents or turns down insulin resistance.

More on this point later in this post. This was just tested to work at UCLA!

b) The other is that the effort you make to do your last repetition in a strength training exercise or when you speed up to do as many pushups as you can do before fatigue sets in or you alternate between moderate walking and almost as fast as you can go in your walks or you run five fast 100 yard runs or do five very fast but short sets of jump rope and rest in between—

Every single one of those will cause your body to build more muscle as it recovers. But each of these also burns glucose like having 12 strong men toss it into a roaring furnace!

That’s also well established.

One study found that even two sets of really fast cardio for a minute, a short rest to catch their breath, and a second one and doing that just a few times a week for less than 10 minute time a week, lowered blood sugar for weeks afterwards. That’s because the test showed that the HBA1C reading that is the average of your blood sugar the last 60 to 90 days went down significantly in the people who did this!

c) Not only that, but this kind of exercise a few times a week regularly has been shown to sharply lower the small particle LDL that causes much to most of the blood vessel plaque that causes heart disease.

Your protective HDL goes up and your damaging levels of triglycerides go down. Research shows that directly reflects that your small particle LDL has gone down.

And, there’s more! The more years in a row you keep doing this, the more effective it gets. Recent research each year on a group of people who did this kind of exercise every week found this is true.

d) Unbelievably that’s not all either!

Lowering your blood sugar levels, recent research found, prevents excess sugar from sticking to your normally safe larger LDL particles and turning them into nasty bits of superglue that cause damage to the inside of your blood vessels and destroys your capillaries.

e) One way to see if you have been getting this kind of exercise is to check for how much muscle mass you have. That’s because the more of strength training and interval cardio you do well, the more muscle mass you have.

You don’t have to look muscular, particularly if you are female or a bit too fat. You don’t even have to weigh less. Though in that case, if you add muscle, you will also lose that much fat. Your size may go down from that even if your scale reads the same.

Here’s the report of the recent research at UCLA:

“Beef up your muscles, reduce your diabetes risk By Enrique Rivero
July 28, 2011 UCLA Newsroom

More muscle mass -- and not just less body fat -- is critical to lowering your risk for type 2 diabetes, a new UCLA study suggests.

Reporting in the September issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA suggest there is a correlation between greater muscle mass, relative to body size, and a substantially decreased risk of developing the metabolic changes that lead to diabetes.

"Our findings suggest that beyond focusing on losing weight to improve metabolic health, there may be a role for maintaining fitness and building muscle mass," said Dr. Preethi Srikanthan, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of endocrinology at UCLA. "This is a welcome message for many overweight patients who experience difficulty in achieving weight loss, as any effort to get moving and keep fit should be seen as laudable and contributing to metabolic change."

In 2009, the UCLA researchers published a study suggesting that the ratio of waist size to hip size — an indirect measure of abdominal fat, relative to gluteal musculature — is a better predictor of premature death in older adults than either body mass index (BMI) or waist circumference. They then examined a condition called sarcopenic obesity, in which there is a low level of total body muscle mass (sarcopenia) combined with a high BMI (obesity), theorizing that the presence of this condition would correlate with higher insulin resistance and diabetes risk.

The following year, they tested this hypothesis by examining data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III (NHANES III); the data were culled from health information collected between 1988 and 1994 on 17,000 people aged 20 and older — a large number of people of various ages. They found that sarcopenia was associated with increased insulin resistance in both non-obese and obese individuals, and also with higher levels of blood glucose in obese individuals.

For the current study, they again used NHAHES III data, this time on 13,644 adults who were not pregnant and had a BMI of at least 16.5, to see how this correlation applied to individuals representing the entire spectrum of muscle mass levels, rather than only those with sarcopenia. Specifically, they wanted to determine if there was a correlation between higher levels of muscle mass and lower levels of insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.

After controlling for age, race and ethnicity, gender, generalized obesity (high BMI), and central obesity (large waist), they found that for each 10 percent increase in the skeletal muscle index (SMI) — the ratio of muscle mass to total body weight — there was a corresponding 11 percent reduction in insulin resistance and a 12 percent reduction in pre–diabetes, a condition characterized by higher-than-normal levels of glucose in the blood.

"While we knew there was a relationship between metabolic disorders and very low muscle mass, we were surprised to find that this relationship was preserved across the range of muscle mass," Srikanthan said.”

My comment: That’s useful to know. For example, doing strength training a few times a week besides doing cardio a few times a week, builds more muscle mass than just doing interval cardio. That specifically means strength training is important to include to get this effect!

“Dr. Arun Karlamangla, a UCLA associate professor of medicine in the division of geriatrics, co-authored this study. The National Institutes of Health funded this research.”

Are you doing strength training and interval cardio yet?

If not, you can do both at home.

Pushups work for strength training. You can do each exercise with one dumbbell -- and doing a set with your left hand and immediately doing one with your right hand. This not only costs less, but you just keep exercising since every time you do a set with one hand your other hand and side are resting! That makes it possible to do several exercises in less than 10 minutes.

And, even 8 to 10 minutes, and at first as you get into it even less, of interval cardio a session for at least 3 days not in a row can enable you to be quite fit.

The Nordic Track I work out on every Saturday morning for 10 intense minute with regular bursts of faster work and easier and slower work in between did cost $150 used. And, I did have to go pick it up which took a few hours.

But I pay ZERO dollars a month for it now!

I plan to get a few heavier dumbbells now that I’m stronger and know I can buy single dumbbells at two different sporting goods chains.

But the 15, 20, & 25 pound dumbells I use now, cost less than $40 total. I started with just the 15 pound one which cost something like $5 at a yard sale and $5 for the 20 pound one at a garage sale. And the 25 pound one was about $30.

Again, I pay ZERO dollars a month for them now!

On Monday evening and Wednesday evening I do 5 short but fast sets of jump rope. The jump rope cost me less than $20 at the sporting good store.

No monthly payments needed for that one either.

And, this can take very, very little time.

Secondly, even though I do more since I have the time. I can do the first part of my strength training with my 25 pound dumbbell in about 9 minutes. At three mornings a week, I could do as little as 27 minutes of exercise each week total.

My jump rope sessions only take about 15 minutes each time. (The jumping session only takes about 7 minutes. But I do a bit of very light and brief leg exercise first to warm up and it takes a few minutes to change into dry clothes after sweating into my work out ones,) Three of those would total as little as 45 minutes a week.

Doing both would take 72 minutes each week total. That’s just a bit over 10 minutes a day average.

And if I did the jump rope sessions in the morning so I took my regular shower right after, the total would be about 54 minutes a week. That averages about 8 minutes a day.

Lastly, when you first start take it very east and build up slowly. And, when you do the interval cardio stop before you completely run out of breath and rest in between the intervals.

For example, I now do five sets of 42 to 77 jumps with my jump rope and mostly do each set without missing once. And, I really race through each set.

But I started with two sets of 14 and I had to do each set in sections because I kept messing up. I’d do a couple of jumps, miss, do a few more etc on each set!

So it’s OK to start slow and be a klutz. The secret is to keep doing the exercises and making small improvements and progress each week.

One of my favorite self-help writers puts it this way: “Inch by inch anything’s a cinch.”

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

More things you can eat for extra brain protection....

Today's Post: Thursday, 7-28-2011

Yesterday, I saw a story online with a whole list of things you can eat that give you extra brain protection.

It included some interesting foods.

1.Hopefully you are already eating a health supporting diet such as a DASH II with extra virgin olive oil added or Mediterranean diet each with less or no refined grains and extra vegetables. Those diets and avoiding excess sugar, excess omega 6, refined grains, and junk foods and soft drinks as well keep your circulation good and your inflammation low. They lower your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes dramatically. That means your brain gets good circulation and keeps working right when otherwise it might not.

2. Hopefully, you are getting regular exercise every week. Regular moderate exercise like walking or gardening or tai chi plus interval cardio a few times a week and strength training a few times a week also lower your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes dramatically. That means your brain gets good circulation and keeps working right when otherwise it might not.

But doing these exercises also optimizes the neurotransmitters in your brain, gives it extra circulation, and grows new nerve and brain cells too. And, because it sharply slows aging to do this, your brain will keep working well longer for that reason too!

3. Also, the two best things to take for brain protection are curcumin supplements or curried foods with turmeric or both and at least 4,000 to 8,000 iu a day of vitamin D3. Studies show that these two things not only are protective of your health and many other ways, they may help prevent or even reverse the changes in your brain that cause Alzheimer’s disease.

4. I liked the foods list yesterday for several reasons.

a) It listed wild caught salmon since the one of the omega 3’s it contains is DHA. They said that DHA helps your nerves communicate more and better and enables your body to grow new ones more easily.

Getting enough omega 3 oils also helps avoid or lessen depression which helps your brain work better.

Surprisingly they did not also include sardines, small mackerel, and other wild caught fish high in omega 3 oils. They also did not note that you can take purified fish oil omega 3 supplements and take DHA supplements directly.

Nor did they note that eating these things or taking them plus cutting back on omega 6 oils like soy and corn oils and fats from grain fed animals who are mostly fed corn and eating extra virgin olive oil instead all help to lower inflammation. NOT having high chronic inflammation protects your brain directly from damage. And, since it also helps protect your blood vessels and heart from damage, it preserves your circulation which strongly protects your brain.

b) They suggested that eating a red apple each day protected your brain with a strong antioxidant called quercetin.

Wikipedia also notes that foods rich in quercetin include black and green tea; onions, especially red onions, red grapes, tomatoes, broccoli and other leafy green vegetables, virtually all red and red purple berries such as cranberries and raspberries.

Since red wine is made from red grapes, it also is a source of quercetin.

(Except for whole red apples and red onions, I eat and drink several of these things almost every day.)

In addition to the antioxidant protection quercetin gives your nerves and brain, it also helps prevent allergies and boosts your endurance. So, it’s no surprise that you can also take quercetin supplements.

But the apple recommendation is interesting for another reason. The ursolic acid in the peels of apples also apparently helps you avoid high blood sugar, lose fat, and build muscle.

So, if you can get organic, unwaxed apples and eat a few each week, you get both benefits.

c) In addition, both blueberries and strawberries have been shown to have direct benefits to your brain and to improve brain function. (Note these are two kinds of berries where it’s important to eat the organic version to the largest extent you can.)

d) Dark chocolate is rewarding to eat. The article said it released endorphins.

It has some caffeine and related substances. So dark chocolate is a mild stimulant similar in strength to black tea.

And, if you eat or drink it without milk, it also lowers blood pressure if it’s high and improves your circulation.

You brain loves every part of these benefits!

If you eat it as dark chocolate plus sugar, it’s worth knowing that a quarter of a small candy bar of dark chocolate is enough to give you the blood pressure and circulation benefit.

And, drinking unsweetened cocoa works well. You can take in more chocolate with no sugar at all!

Lastly, some specialty chocolate shops now have hot and cold dark chocolate and chocolate pieces with no sugar.

e) The other food they listed I thought a great addition was dried oregano added to savory foods or salads. “ In several studies, oregano was shown to have 40 times more antioxidant properties than apples, 30 times more than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges, and 4 times more than that of blueberries or strawberries.” That means just a little in your salad or tomato sauce can do you and your brain a lot of good.

But that’s not all. Like apple peels, oregano is a good source of ursolic acid. Ursolic acid also apparently helps you avoid high blood sugar, lose fat, and build muscle according to a study I read.

f) Walnuts were on their list. They noted that walnuts are high in natural vitamin E and vitamin B6. Walnuts also are high in the plant form of omega 3 and have been shown to have extra heart and circulation protecting qualities.

But for those who aren’t allergic virtually all raw or dry roasted nuts with no oils or salt added have close to as good or better brain protection.

Pecans, almonds, and pistachios in addition to walnuts also have heart OK fats or oils and tend to increase your levels of protective HDL when you eat them.

They are high in magnesium and other minerals to keep you healthy and which help in keeping you away from high blood pressure.

That means they all protect your brain by protecting its circulation!

They also are a snack that does not increase your blood sugar and can be eaten instead of a sugary or starch snack.

Nuts taste good. And between being crunchy and having protein, fat, AND fiber, they are filling and appetite satisfying to eat.

And, there’s a bonus. Despite having that fat, unless you deliberately overstuff yourself with them studies show you can eat them every day and not get fat yourself.

You can also combine these foods in a salad.

You could have red onion slices, romaine lettuce, walnut halves, dried cranberries, and a tomato puree and extra virgin olive oil dressing, and slices of tomato, and minced garlic, and a good bit of dried oregano and throw in some diced, organic broccoli florets.

Eating vegetables does NOT have to be dull!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ways to lower high blood sugar and increase fat loss....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 7-26-2011

Today, I got an email about an inexpensive supplement that does both!

But there are some other things that work. So they are in this post too

1. Eating and drinking too many high glycemic foods and drinks (fast carbs that cause blood sugar surges) directly raise blood sugar. Blood sugar surges cause extra insulin release.

And, if you do that too often and don’t exercise, you get “insulin resistance” with the result that both your blood sugar and insulin stay too high.

High levels of insulin tell your body to add to your fat deposits and tend to prevent you from getting the energy in your fat back out even if you need it. That makes you gain fat easily and have to work much harder to lose any.

It was recently discovered that excess blood sugar harms you by making your LDL into glue like particles that damage the walls of your larger blood vessels, build up into artery closing plaque, and tend to gradually destroy your capillaries. The excess sugar literally sticks on to your LDL particles.

So, we now know that one solution is to eliminate drinking soft drinks even the diet ones, eliminate eating refined grains, ingest no high fructose corn syrup, and cut back quite a bit on real sugar. Since this also lowers your triglycerides too, doing this protects you from heart disease two ways!

Many people today eat or drink these things several times a day. Unfortunately, the safe level even for healthy people is a few times a month!

These practices are common today. But they are NOT normal to your body. People did not do this at all before a few hundred years ago or do it this much until 20 or 30 years ago. So our bodies aren’t designed to handle it well. It’s like trying to burn gasoline in a diesel engine. Our bodies are adaptable enough to handle it some but NOT in this much excess.

2. Vigorous strength training and interval cardio and frequent moderate activity every week burn the excess calories and uptake the sugar into your muscles to do so.

This directly reduces your blood sugar and turns down insulin resistance so your insulin levels drop too.

Quite vigorous exercise sessions of as little as a couple of minutes at a time a few times a week have even been shown to lower higher HBA1C levels, the most accurate reading of blood sugar.

3. There is a drug that both lowers blood sugar and prevents the blood sugar from sticking to your LDL. It’s called metformin and a half dose with meals taken twice a day can help both lower your blood sugar and protect you. But high doses can have side effects. And everyone who takes it should supplement with the orally absorbed B12 tablets of 1,000 mcg a day since taking it can deplete your B12 levels according to the research.

Since you need a doctor’s prescription, it can be expensive to get. But if your HBA1C is over 6.0 or worse over 7.0, it could be very important to your health to get it anyway.

4. Here’s the news.

There is an inexpensive supplement that also lowers high blood sugar, lowers insulin resistance and insulin levels, and helps with fat loss!

It’s banaba leaf extract.

It has several components that work together to get excellent results.

In practice it lowers high blood sugar but unlike some of the drugs, it does NOT overdo it and cause your blood sugar to go too low.

It contains corosolic acid which apparently acts as an insulin mimic or substitute in lowering your blood sugar which tends to cause your body to release less real insulin.

It contains ellagic acid which helps with glucose absorption and ellagitannins which activate insulin receptors. That double action both lowers high blood sugar and reduces insulin resistance. This means your insulin levels fall and go down more quickly when your body releases insulin. With less insulin in your system, you gain fat less easily and burn it off MORE easily.

There was even one study that suggests banaba leaf extract can significantly reduce the fat in people with fatty livers.

And, this may also mean that it can help reduce belly fat and internal visceral fat.

In my own case, I eat almost well enough and exercise almost well enough so my blood sugar is in good shape or close to it.

But my belly fat is another story! So, having read this more complete account of the actions of banaba leaf in lowering insulin too, I plan to try it myself.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Good and bad in Paleo diets....

Today's Post: Monday, 7-25-2011

Today, Yahoo had an article about the recent trend to emulate the way people evolved to eat and the way they did up to about 10,000 years ago.

In many ways this is a good idea if not a great one.

a) It completely avoids most of the worst foods and drinks for your health –

---including refined grains, hydrogenated vegetable oils, cheap oils high in omega 6 such as corn and soy, and all soft drinks. It also contains very little added sugar except honey occasionally and in whole fruit.

b) It includes abundant and varied vegetables and whole fresh fruit. It also includes raw, unsalted, nuts which are superfoods with health OK oils and abundant vitamins and minerals. As long as you aren’t allergic to them, eating nuts will improve your health significantly. (Note that pesticides and herbicides were not around 10,000 years ago, so getting organic produce also helps you to eat this way.)

Both of those characteristics have been well tested to be critical to getting and staying healthy – and to avoiding excess fat and removing it!

c) It also includes wild caught fish from relatively unpolluted waters and other more natural animal protein foods that the low carb advocates found tend to help people avoid gaining fat or help in losing it.

But the strict version of the paleo diet does have three problems.

a) It leaves out several foods that have been shown to support good health.

It leaves out beans and lentils which are inexpensive sources of protein that studies show are low glycemic, support good health, and work well when added to an otherwise “paleo” diet to help people not be hungry when they otherwise eat only vegetables for fiber. So, beans and lentils help you stay or get free of excess fat too.

It leaves out extra virgin olive oil, which has tested as having abundant health protective properties.

And, it leaves out moderate amounts of red wine, which tends to benefit health when you don’t drink too much of it at a time or in any one day.

It also leaves out lowfat dairy foods that are not made with added dried milk. It leaves out whole grains even in moderation. And, it leaves out moderate amounts of full fat dairy from naturally fed cows.

These foods also have tested as good for your health as well.

b) As some people practice it, the paleo diet includes processed meat and full fat meats from grain fed animals. This is common in some low carb diets. But recent studies show that low carb diets heavy in these foods cause health problems even though they can work for fat loss. And, neither processed meats nor animals penned up and fed grains were around over 10,000 years ago as far as that goes.

c) By eliminating beans and lentils, lowfat milk, and some true whole grain foods, the paleo diet can be a bit on the expensive side to eat since it does not use these inexpensive sources of protein. (Super lean and fat trimmed meat and poultry from grain fed animals is almost OK and costs less than the better for you 100 % grass or pasture fed versions. One solution is to eat less meat and poultry and more beans and lentils and then eat the naturally fed versions but just less often.)

In summary: If you add back the more recent foods that became available before 100 years ago that test as supporting your health and eat a mostly paleo diet for the rest of your food otherwise, it is one of the best ways to eat.

You will be and stay in better health. And, you will be far less fat than the average person is now.

Lastly, since each of these components has been well tested individually, you don’t need to wait for the whole paleo diet to be tested on thousands of people in a controlled study to know what aspects of it work!

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Prevent mental decline with exercise and supplements....

Today's Post: Friday, 7-22-2011

In a recent news article the most worried-about health risks were cancer and memory loss in a survey of baby boomers.

That was in my post on Tuesday this week.

Yesterday, I posted on how B12 can help prevent mental decline and B 12 deficiency can produce mental decline symptoms. Yesterday’s post also has ways to get enough B12 even in people who can’t get it well from food.

I got an email earlier today with other supplements that can help improve your brain or prevent Alzheimer’s and mental decline.

And, I also saw a more detailed breakdown on the 7 things that can help prevent mental decline, 6 of which were good health habits. Getting regular exercise both had the most direct effect and it helps prevent or improve all the others except avoiding tobacco smoke. Exercise helps prevent or improve depression, high blood pressure, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

1. So here’s some more on exercise as a way to prevent mental decline.

Too much stress or too much unrelieved reaction to chronic stress has been found to cause direct damage to the part of your brain that is the center of your ability to recall memories and to put them into permanent storage.

Tai Chi and brisk walks outside in decent weather are two of the best ways to turn down over-reaction to stress or a stress reaction that is stuck in the on position. Tai Chi in fact has been shown to do this so well that doing it daily or on most days reduces high blood pressure as well as larger doses of one of the more effective drugs for it.

Conversely, to give you a fast break from worry, doing strength training or interval cardio that is quite vigorous forces you to concentrate on doing the exercise & temporarily turns down stress. In fact such exercise is one of the very few ways to turn down stress or depression quickly.

Exercise also helps improve circulation and turn down insulin resistance and too high levels of blood sugar. Brisk walks and doing strength training or interval cardio that is quite vigorous does the best job for those things.

Brisk walks and doing strength training or interval cardio that is quite vigorous also is the best way to cause your body to release BDNF, the hormone that grows new brain cells.

So between these three functions, it’s clear why exercise is so effective in helping prevent mental decline.

Regular exercise each week also may help a fourth way. Brisk walks and doing strength training or interval cardio that is quite vigorous also have been shown to sharply slow aging.

2. Other supplements besides B12 that help prevent mental decline.

a) Did you know that eating foods spiced with curry which usually contains turmeric and have a yellow color -- or taking curcumin supplements derived from turmeric -- has been found to help prevent or even help reverse the beta amyloid deposits that help cause Alzheimer’s disease?

In the book Anticancer, it also says two things. It says doing this also helps prevent cancer! And in cancer protection, getting curcumin is as much as 100 times as effective if you take it or eat it with ample black pepper. That may mean that getting your curcumin along with black pepper may also improve its brain protection effects for you.

b) Another supplement that both fights cancer and helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease is vitamin D3. A study was done showing that depending on your size and individual biochemistry, you need to take 4,000 to 8,000 iu a day or somewhat more to get these two effects.

(This sounds like a lot. But on a sunny summer day, your body can generate 10,000 to 30,000 iu of vitamin D3.)

c) Other supplements known to help support good brain function or prevent mental decline include,.:

DHA is an omega 3 that is particularly good for your brain. In fact it is so good the children of pregnant women who supplement with it are smarter than in women who do not. Sardines are high in it but wild caught salmon also have a lot. You can also take purified fish oil omega 3 and DHA supplements to get it.

The email this morning had this quote: "In a study at Tufts University, researchers found that those with the highest blood levels of DHA were about 50% less likely to develop dementia and 39% less likely to develop Alzheimer's."

The ubiquinol form of CoQ10 that your body uses after it converts CoQ10 to ubiquinol is now available as s supplement and is both 4 times as effective as taking C0Q10. Since ubiquinol keeps the mitochondria in your cells that make their energy healthy, taking it keeps all your cells in better working order --including your brain cells. Taking ubiquinol also has been found to lower high blood pressure about as much as larger doses of one of the more effective drugs for it. Since taking ubiquinol keeps your cells working well as you get older when they otherwise would not, it also has the effect of slowing aging.

In addition, so far statins are over prescribed massively and up to one third of adults take them. Since statins deplete CoQ10 and ubiquinol, if you take them, you should switch to other ways to protect your heart or add extra ubiquinol to what you take each day to lessen this effect.

Bilberry extract also works as does eating organic berries, particularly blueberries. In some studies this has actually partly restored mental and memory function equal to what the people could do when they were up to 12 years younger. And, bilberries are a kind of blueberry that also helps protect your vision and night vision.

Alpha lipoic acid from 200 mg or more a day helps you lower your blood sugar if it’s too high and it makes vitamin C and E and other antioxidants more effective. It has an effect on the brain similar to reversing aging. The email this morning had this quote, "Studies have shown that alpha lipoic acid may be able to restore short-term memory, reduce age-related decay of brain cells and even double mental activity."

People who eat diets who use mostly extra virgin olive oil instead of cheap oils high in omega 6 such as corn and soy or instead of using dairy fat have lower rates of mental decline and Alzheimer’s disease than people who don’t. They also have less heart disease. So extra virgin olive oil almost qualifies as a supplement!

So, between exercise and the foods and supplements that protect your brain, you have whole tool box of effective tools you can use!

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Prevent mental decline, sleep better, have more energy, help prevent cancer too....

Today's Post: Thursday, 7-21-2011

In a recent news article the most worried-about health risks were cancer and memory loss in a survey of baby boomers.

That was in my last post.

Earlier today I got a comment on how getting enough B12 could improve and protect your health on one of my other posts.

It seems that vegans, people who take metformin, people who are over 50 who begin to digest food less well sometimes and people who take anti acid drugs for reflux (heartburn) or ulcers can have too little B12 if they don't get enough B12 somehow.

And, B12 is valuable enough to so many aspects of good health and good quality of life that it makes sense to get an optimum amount in a way that bypasses digestion problems.

One doctor says that the best way to get B12 initially if you are deficient is to get vitamin B12 shots. But many doctors don’t do this. And, it’s an expensive and time consuming way to go.

If you have time and money and reason to believe you are deficient, it might be worth finding a doctor who practices integrative or preventive medicine who works with patients in this way.

But the link in the comment has a great deal of information on B12 and, of course advertises the solution of the sponsor.

This is adapted from my follow up comment after I published her comment.

The text available at --

contains some very well done information about B12, what it does for you, what often prevents people from having enough, AND an ad for a fast acting spray.

That way you can get enough B12 even if you are a vegan or your digestion isn't getting it into your blood stream.

That's important for people over 50 and those taking anti acid drugs for reflux (heartburn) or ulcers.

It's also important for type 2 diabetics. The only safe drug I know to lower high blood sugar is metformin. And, metformin also prevents the high blood sugar left over from harming you it was recently discovered!

But, if you take metformin, you would be far safer, if you also used this B12 spray (Dr Al Sears also makes one.)or if you use a chewable or sublingual tablet of 1,000 mcg of B12 once a day.

(I take anti acid drugs for reflux and know someone who takes metformin. We both take the chewable or sublingual tablet of 1,000 mcg of B12 once a day that is called Brain B12 that NOW makes. chewable or sublingual tablet of 1,000 mcg of B12 once a day. But for times I feel fatigued or want to ensure a good night’s sleep, I’ve considered getting one of these B12 spray products.)

Why should people who take metformin or have reasons to want extra B12 do this?

Here's a quote from the text at Mary's link.

"Studies suggest that 10% to 30% of patients taking Metformin show evidence of reduced vitamin B12 absorption."

I also knew that getting enough B12 helps you have enough energy. It helps with alertness and prevents fatigue

What I did not know until I read the text at this link, is that because B12 helps your body make melatonin, B12 gets part of its energy boost by helping you sleep better!

Getting back to the concerns about avoiding cancer and preventing mental decline we started this post with, getting enough B12 helps do both.

Separate studies have found that B12 deficiency can cause confusion and impair memory and thinking. In fact, some people with these symptoms stop having them or have less of them once they get enough B12.

In addition, the things that B12 does, sleeping better, feeling less fatigued, and having more energy all help you avoid or stop depression.

And, since mental decline is higher in people who are depressed, that’s significant.

But there’s more. People who get enough B12 along with enough folate and folic acid from vegetables and supplements (and who avoid tobacco smoke) have lower levels of homocysteine.

The tests of lowering homocysteine to help prevent heart disease in short term treatments have shown little benefit. I think that’s because this research was done after the people studied had accumulated years of damage from too high homocysteine before the studies.

But the research on homocysteine shows that people who have high levels of it also are more likely to get some kind of mental decline.

So B12 indeed looks important for preventing mental decline in several ways.

But there’s news on the cancer front too.

There are two kinds of research that fit.

People who have strong and effective immune systems tend to destroy early cellular defects before they turn into cancer.

It seems that getting enough vitamin D3 (at least 4,000 iu a day) and getting enough B12 are two key ways to keep your immune system strong and effective. The news

Second, having low melatonin levels predisposes you to getting cancer. The research I saw studied this in researching ways to prevent breast cancer.

Your body releases melatonin once it gets dark. But most people today have their lights on in the evening after it gets dark outside and still have a good bit of light in their bedrooms once they go to bed.

There are 3 ways to have more melatonin.

The best two ways are to

Have your bedroom dark by using blackout curtains and covering small light sources. (Having a reliable flashlight where you can it reach it easily at night and keeping it there when not in use is a good idea if you do that!)

Take enough B12 to ensure your body makes its own melatonin well.

You can also take melatonin. But this may cause your body to make less on its own. And, the dosages sold in health food stores are often high enough to cause you to get so much, you have trouble waking up and having energy the next day.

One solution is to buy 1 mg or 3 mg tablets and chop them in half and just take a half a tablet half an hour before you go to bed. (Another temporary way to use melatonin supplements is to get a spray version and use that. That way if you have crossed a time zone and need to go to sleep a bit early you can make it much easier to fall asleep. I’m told it works in less than 15 minutes. See Native Rest at for Dr Sears’ version.)

But if you sleep well without supplementing with melatonin directly because your body makes its own since you keep your bedroom quite dark and you supplement B12 AND you exercise regularly, you may do fine without melatonin supplements.

(It also helps if you protect your heart without taking statins as at least one kind is a known cause of relatively severe insomnia.)

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Many are worried about the wrong health risks...

Today's Post: Tuesday, 7-19-2011

In a recent news article the most worried-about health risks were cancer and memory loss in a survey of baby boomers.

But the dangers of the related categories of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity actually contained far more risk.

Oddly, a different recent news story on how good health habits protect people from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of mental decline suggests that may be OK.

Why is that?

The habits that tended to cause mental decline they listed as smoking, depression, low education, diabetes, too little exercise, obesity and high blood pressure.

Other than low education, the good health habits for these factors are almost identical to those for the second group that has more risk.

1. If you stop smoking and begin to relentlessly avoid second hand smoke, your level of heart disease and heart attack risk stops going up and begins to go down sharply. (That’s the BIG risk of smoking. ALL smokers and those exposed to second hand smoke get that one!)

But that also makes your circulation to your brain better which prevents vascular dementia and helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease

If you have high blood pressure and begin to avoid tobacco smoke, it gets lower overall. It gets much lower during the times each day you were exposed to tobacco smoke before. That too cuts your heart attack risk. It also cuts your risk of stroke which can cause brain damage or severe brain damage.

What about cancer? True some people smoke and die of something else—often heart disease. BUT, a full fourth of heavy smokers get lung cancer. And tobacco smoke causes 30% or more of ALL cancers – NOT just lung cancer. It couldn’t be clearer. If you’d rather not get cancer, avoid tobacco smoke!

2. What about exercise? Something like 75% of Americans don’t get the minimum needed for good health.

If each week, you do at least two sessions of strength training with a day of rest in between; at least three sessions of interval cardio with a day of rest in between; AND if you can, also do more moderate exercise equal to a few miles of walking, ideally 5 or 6 miles a more a week, your risk of everything on this list goes down.

It’s not easy to get into or keep doing this. But by exercising first thing in the morning at home and breaking it into 10, 15, 20, or 30 minute sessions, you can fit it in on most days.

Also do the other thing that makes continuing to do exercise dramatically easier.

Keep a record -- using abbreviations to make it quick -- to enter what you did every day to show what exercise you did. You can see if you do too little. And you can also see that if you almost always exercise, the few days you really have to skip aren’t that bad.

It’s also fun when you gradually can do more. You can SEE the improvement in your records. (I just did my Nordic Track at a low, easy effort to avoid getting my wife’s cold. Then I happened to see that was equal to my best effort results from just a couple of years ago!)

The other two alternatives that work are to replace some TV watching with exercise some evenings a week or to get in your moderate exercise by riding an exercise bike or walking on a treadmill while watching the lighter TV programs you watch.

If people knew what exercise did FOR them and what not exercising did TOO them, few would be without it!

It protects against the ALL the big worries.

Because this kind of exercise dramatically slows aging, it keeps your immune system young and strong and helps prevent cancers. (That works even better if you also take antioxidant vitamins and supplements and get antioxidants in vegetables and fruit that you eat.)

Because this kind of exercise improves your circulation and helps prevent or improve high blood sugar AND triggers the growth of new brain cells, it also prevents vascular dementia and helps prevent or slow Alzheimer’s disease.

Exercise also helps prevent the other big risks.

It lowers high blood pressure. It helps prevent obesity or make it easier to get rid of. It directly reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke if you do it right. Recent studies even found the longer you exercise & do it every week regularly without a break of more than a few days the better your protection gets!

Vigorous exercise and moderate exercise you enjoy or do with people you like, helps prevent or stop depression. So it makes you feel better and removes that cause of mental decline too.

(Your feel-good neurotransmitters go up, your circulation to your brain goes up, you get distracted mentally from your worries, and in doing the exercises you learn proactive skills that help you escape or solve problems!)

As the study we posted on recently found, exercise also prevents you from overreacting to stress and makes you much more resilient.

Few people go without sleep or water or food or air for very long! They can feel the effects quite quickly.

In the world people evolved in, exercise was inescapable. So we don’t have a similar system to let us know we are at risk from too little of it.

But the effects of not exercising regularly are quite serious.

So, no matter what health risks you’d like to avoid, if you exercise every week, your risks will drop!

3. The other factor you can fix to prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure is what you eat and drink.

It’s not yet well known. But ingesting too many sugars and high glycemic foods and NOT eating nonstarchy vegetables and whole fruit of many kinds, causes everything you’d like to avoid.

When you eat that way, your HDL goes down and your LDL and triglycerides go up which we now know causes heart disease. Worse, I read recently when you eat or drink too many sugars and boost your triglycerides, your HDL stops protecting you as its particles also become small enough to damage your artery walls.

You get blood sugar surges and mood swings which make avoiding depression harder. Those cause cravings for more of the same and the insulin surges that this triggers help make you get fat and stay that way.

They also boost your blood sugar level which, along with no vigorous, regular exercise, helps cause type 2 diabetes.

And, when your blood sugar goes up too high it sticks to your LDL and turns it into something like superglue particles which then destroy some of your capillaries and harms the inside of your larger blood vessels and begins to clog them up too.

This decreases blood circulation to your brain and is even thought to trigger the deposits and damage of Alzheimer’s disease.

So it’s a good news -- bad news picture.

The good news is that no matter what health risks concern you, 90 % of the key ways to protect yourself are the same.

Avoid tobacco smoke as close to 100 % as you can manage.

Exercise most days of every week.

And, eat and drink real foods instead of fast foods, soft drinks, packaged snacks, and packaged and commercially made desserts.

Each of these in today’s world takes an extra effort to do.

But the more you know WHY to do it and the more you learn it and the better you get at doing it, two great things happen.

It begins to be your new normal lifestyle and feel comfortable to you. And you find ways to enjoy parts of it.

And, your health improves dramatically while all your health risks drop like a stone!

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Monday, July 18, 2011

My monthly fatloss progress report....

Today's Post: Monday, 7-18-2011

Since last month, I lost two pounds! That’s the first progress in a while!

This past month my waist remained the same. So did my hips. But my chest went up by half an inch.

I now need to lose 3 pounds total to return to my goal weight. And, I still need to lose at least two to 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, from today on, I plan to lose 18 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’ll also be at my goal weight.)

Last month, I left everything the same except two things

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

This time though it worked.

1. I cut more than I planned last month on my alcoholic drinks. (I went from one a week over my goal to half a drink a week under.)

That was almost certainly most of what lost me the two pounds.

2. And, instead of eating more than one serving of almond butter most nights a week, I tried only one serving every other day.

This time, I wound up doing that again but may have stuck to one serving a time better than the month before.

I had also planned to eat a few thawed frozen Brussels sprouts in place of the almond butter. (I had found before that adding nonstarchy vegetables is effective.) I did not find the frozen Brussels sprouts but did try frozen, organic broccoli florets a few a day that I’d thawed.

I did that but found I got out of the habit in just a few days.

So my goal for food and drink for next time is to do as well as last month on alcoholic drinks and a bit better on almond butter AND become consistent every day with the few thawed, frozen, organic broccoli florets.

The package only costs about two dollars. And all I need to do is to remember to take a few florets a couple times a week from the package in the freezer in put them in the small glass container in the refrigerator to thaw. That’s the hard part.

If they are in the glass container and thawed, I find I do remember to eat a few each day.

3. 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.

I have made some progress recently on my jump rope and Nordic Track in my cardio work since last month. And, I’ve made a bit of progress doing my kettlebell work. I even made some small progress on my dumbbell work.

That certainly helped me lose the 2 pounds. And, it may have helped me to gain the half inch on my chest.

My near term plan is to keep up making small progress on each of these exercises.

Wish me luck for next month!

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Vital, Optimistic, Prudent, & Proactive....

Today's Post: Thursday, 7-14-2011

(Posted on Monday, 7-18-2011 due to computer being down Thursday afternoon and Friday.)

These are the characteristics of people who tend to stay healthy, recover better when they do get sick or injured, and live long lives.

1. Vital people tend to enjoy their lives. They are curious, interested, enjoy many kinds of things, and notice when things go well. So they want to keep living and be healthy enough to enjoy it. At their best, they are interesting and enjoyable to be around.

2. Optimistic people find purposes and goals to pursue. They look for ways succeeding is possible. They try the most promising things they can already do. They keep trying new things when they aren’t quite there yet. They work to expand successes. They look for better ways to do things. They make an extra effort when it’s important to do so. They are quite adaptable to changing methods; but they are unusually persistent and determined in working to achieve their goals. They are both pragmatic and hopeful.

They are very logical, careful, and scientific when things go wrong. They look for specific causes and think in terms of this time in this specific circumstance and remember the assets they can use. They assume bad things can be temporary or overcome when that’s possible to do so. They look for ways to improve the situation or limit their losses. And they look for ways to recover. They tend to be resilient and recover from things that others don’t.

3. Prudent and reliable people tend to be risk averse and careful when they can. They work to do the things necessary to stay safe and limit their risk. They make a special effort to do the things they have committed to do or are expected to do. They often have a plan B if risk is involved. They wear their seat belts. They get vaccinated when it looks safe. They tend to avoid tobacco smoke.

(A recent study found that people who were both purposeful and prudent tended to live longer and have better lives. Did this mean they were less vital and did fewer interesting things than people who weren’t? It certainly didn’t in the group of people they studied!)

4. Proactive people tend to be optimistic and vice versa. They take action. They try things. They ask questions. They do research. They tend to try to change or improve things that go wrong or cause problems. They sometimes complain but usually ask for a better result instead of just complaining. And they also save that for things that are important and leave the things alone that are less important or can’t be fixed anyway.

We recently posted on the positive effects of exercise for your mental health.

People with these characteristics tend to exercise. Then the mental effects of the exercise reinforce and strengthen these characteristics.

These are the people we do our posts for. And in our posts, we try to provide tools and information to live this way to help make these characteristics stronger and more effective in our readers.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

News -- How high blood sugar and type 2 diabetes harm you....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 7-12-2011

This topic is so important I somehow thought I’d done a post on it when I first saw it a bit over a month ago.

Oops! I looked and apparently did not.

It’s been known that type 2 diabetes (excessively too high blood sugar all the time) does two things.

It gradually tends to destroy all your capillaries.

And, it multiplies your risk of heart attacks and heart disease. (In men, it at least doubles the risk and quadruples the risk in women.)

A new study found out a major reason and perhaps THE reason this happens.

Since your life and health depend on good blood circulation, would you inject lots of tiny bits of superglue directly into one of your major blood vessels?

Would you repeat it every day?

Likely you would choose not to do that!

A new study finds that excessively high blood sugar does exactly that to you.

The original story appeared at the end of last May.:

“Scientists Discover 'Ultra-Bad' Cholesterol FRIDAY, May 27, 2011

(HealthDay News) -- A new, "ultra-bad" form of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol has been discovered in people with a high risk for heart disease, according to British researchers.

They found that the cholesterol, called MGmin-LDL, is super-sticky, making it more likely to attach to the walls of arteries and form fatty plaques, which could lead to heart attacks and stroke.”

MGmin-LDL is normal LDL cholesterol with sugar attached.

They found this kind of LDL much stickier than normal LDL and much more likely to build fatty plaques, narrow your arteries AND begin to clog up your capillaries resulting in reduced blood flow. Then, if the process continues too long, you are in serious trouble!

This kind of LDL becomes irregular in shape and larger. This makes it sticking more likely. Worse, it makes your large particle LDL which is normally harmless as bad for you as the small particle LDL that otherwise causes heart disease. Ouch!!

This research, released online May 26 in Diabetes, has huge implications in the treatment of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

There was one piece of good news.

“The researchers said, the results of their study shed light on how a common type 2 diabetes drug, metformin, fights heart disease by blocking the transformation of normal LDL into the super-sticky LDL.”

People who take metformin should likely supplement with 1,000 mcg a day of a sublingual B12 supplement or get periodic B12 shots if they take metformin. A new study found that taking metformin can deplete B12 otherwise.

But with that exception and keeping the dose low enough to avoid side effects that are quite rare at lower doses, metformin is quite safe unlike most of the newer drugs to lower blood sugar.

And, because it has been around for decades, it’s also inexpensive.

It also directly lowers blood sugar and your HBA1C readings.

What if your HBA1C is higher than 7.0 even taking metformin at a low or moderate dose twice a day?

It’s not complicated. But it can be a challenge to do if you aren’t used to it.

There are these parts.

1. You need to eliminate or close to eliminate the foods that slam blood sugar too high and too fast.

White rice, all refined grains, potatoes without the skin, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners – which means all soft drinks—and most real sugar need to disappear from what you eat and drink. This includes cutting back on most real fruit juices. Cranberry juice is far less harmful and vegetable juices are OK. (The average person now eats a bit over 7 tablespoons a day of sugar. The safe amount even for healthy people is less than a seventh of that.)

Similarly, you need to cut back a lot on whole grains since they also do this. (Eating oatmeal that is NOT the instant kind on some days may make sense to keep as a whole grain since it reduces LDL cholesterol.) But if you do eat any grains, eat ONLY whole grains.

One of the good news results is that many people will gradually lose over 40 pounds or more of fat without hunger if they do this.

2. Adopt a real food diet with extra nonstarchy vegetables. Eat the DASH II diet with extra unstarchy vegetables and only use olive oil. Or eat the Mediterranean diet with extra nonstarchy vegetables and far less pasta.

(These two styles have a lot of overlap in the actual foods.)

Focus on eating health OK protein foods too including beans and lentils; raw, unsalted, nuts if you aren’t allergic; wild caught fish (farmed is usually full of pollutants and has less omega 3 oils); eggs from free range chickens; very trim, skinless poultry; and only 100% grass fed beef and lamb in moderation.

People who eat this way also are:

less fat, less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease, and have lower blood pressure – even if their blood sugar was normal to begin with.

Even better, you can eat well to very well with the tastier recipes available eating this way.

And, it’s literally life-saving to eat this way for people with high blood sugar.

3. Gradually work up to doing at least 3 sessions of vigorous interval cardio and at least 2 sessions of strength training each week. Do some brisk walks too if you possibly can.

Start slowly, build up very gradually, rest in between sets even if only slightly to catch your breath and let your heart rate slow. Start each session a bit slowly.

And, go even a bit easier at first until you have eaten right for a few months.

Such exercise turns off insulin resistance and directly burns up the excess blood sugar in your blood too.

The combination of even some of these 3 strategies often works wonders.

One man found that his blood sugar went from diabetic levels to normal in just a few weeks from completely stopping eating white rice and weight lifting 3 days a week. He liked being stronger; but the not eating rice was a hassle since his culture and all his family traditionally ate rice every day.

The strategy that works best is to do the things you can easily do immediately.

And, gradually make upgrades that you keep doing.

(I’ve cut the amount of sugar I eat in half three or four times now, for example.)

4. Do the safe things that lower LDL cholesterol.

The dangerous byproduct is made from excess sugar plus LDL. So while you are reducing your blood sugar, lowering your LDL too makes sense!

Eat beans and lentils, eat whole apples occasionally, try unsweetened applesauce with cinnamon, eat old fashioned oatmeal occasionally, and take sterol supplements.

(I take 4 a day of the Natrol cholesterol balance sterol supplement as one of the things I did to go from LDL of 130 to 73 without drugs.)

Regular exercise as we describe in #3 above also lowers LDL and triglycerides and increases HDL in addition to lowering high blood sugar.

But it gets better, the more years in a row you do it, the better your results get!

And, it gets better than that, such exercise directly slows aging.

Taking 300 mg niacin supplements once after your two largest meals for a total of twice a day and two 300 mg supplements of the slow niacin release inositol hexaniacinate or “no flush” niacin is safe for most people. (It’s safest to have your doctor test your liver function from time to time if you do. But that’s enough to lower your LDL and boost your HDL and less than the level that causes more liver problems.)

And, it is dramatically safer and cheaper than statin drugs.

(It’s not yet known among doctors, but only a minority of people benefit much from statin drugs. All the rest are more protected by niacin and get something like 1% protection from statin drugs. The genetic test to see if you are in the minority that statins will help only costs about $150. And even then, the side effects from statins can be serious enough, you should try every thing else first.)

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Why aim for a smaller waist....

Today's Post: Monday, 7-11-2011

A local health professional mails out periodic newsletters with some health news items to promote his work.

His recent newsletter had that doctors at Harvard have found that belly size may be more indicative of health problems than pounds or BMI measures.

Abdominal fat, and visceral fat which is inside your body but increases your waist size, they now know tend to indicate future problems with heart disease, strokes, and type 2 diabetes and other problems.

They said that health risks begin to increase at a waist measurement of 31 inches for women and 37 inches for men.

A waist size of 35 inches or more for women and 40 inches or more for men puts them in the danger range.

Clearly the things that reduce visceral and belly fat are health protective according to this measure. (It also helps that having a smaller belly helps you look better.)

What to do if you have a bigger waist than these standards:

1. The most effective thing you can do is exercise. Doing some vigorous and some moderate exercise each week helps.

One study found that exercise helped twice as much as the other solution they covered.

(Even people who are of normal weight but don’t exercise tend to have bigger bellies and hidden visceral fat inside them. People of the same weight who exercise have far less.)

2. That solution was to eat foods high in soluble fiber. The best sources are beans and lentils and nonstarchy vegetables. Oatmeal and oat bran are high in it. But oatmeal is a bit higher in glycemic index. And steel cut oats and rolled oats are far lower in glycemic index than instant or quick cooking oatmeal. Apples are high in it. But apples are best for you if organic and unwaxed which can be a bit hard to find.

3. The other solution which for some people can be as much as 70% or more of the effect they need is to cut way back on sugar and to eliminate packaged snacks, packaged desserts, most fast food, and all soft drinks.

This also includes eliminating all refined grain foods. And, cutting way back on oils high in omega 6 and eliminating all such oils that have been partially or fully hydrogenated also helps. Eliminating high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners also helps.

In practice, these often go together. A packaged snack may have little in it after the refined grains, junk oils, and sweeteners are removed.

4. Monosaturated oils such as extra virgin olive oil and found in avocados and nuts tend to reduce belly fat. Some studies suggest they do so directly. And, they clearly do as replacements for oils high in omega 6 and all such oils that have been partially or fully hydrogenated. Best of all, monosaturated oils consistently have been found to produce health benefits directly.

5. Eat more protein. But eat beans and lentils and nuts and naturally fed animals to the best extent you can. 100 % grass fed beef and lamb and wild caught fish are examples. If you do get animal protein from meat from grain fed animals, eat less and eat the leanest most fat trimmed version you can.

Protein is most filling and helps you eat less of the junkier foods. And these kinds of protein sources tend to produce the best health results.

6. Watch far less TV. Doing so can give you the time to exercise while watching TV burns fewer calories than sleeping! In addition, much of commercial TV entertainment has ads for the foods and drinks best avoided.

People who watch 14 hours or less of TV a week are less fat and have smaller waists than people who watch 28 or more!

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Thursday, July 07, 2011

A bit of exercise boosts resilience & mental health....

Today's Post: Thursday, 7-7-2011

Recently a Facebook friend who has expertise in mental health and is much into exercise posted this:

“July 6, 2011, 12:01 am
Why Exercise Makes Us Feel Good By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS” ‘ (Thank you Dr Michael Lara!)

The article adds some important new information on the benefits of exercise.

Wow! The implications are huge!

Regular exercise is already known to slow aging and protect your physical health in dozens of important ways. It also helps you be less fat.

These two studies suggest it does more than lift depression & these other things.

Regular exercise improves your mental health and resilience when stressed too!

First, the Norwegian study noted found that “those who engaged in any exercise, even a small amount, reported improved mental health”

(The minimum regular exercise needed for good health is 500 to 700 calories a week. Six miles of walking or three intense cardio sessions a week or some of each or anything else that does this will work. This study suggests that even doing this minimum amount will profoundly improve your mental health.)

AND “bicycle riding or weight training eased symptoms in women who’d received a diagnosis of anxiety disorder.

The weight training was especially effective at reducing feelings of irritability.”

Does that mean that women who are under stress or anxious or worry warts AND who exercise have less perceived stress, feel better, and function better than women who don’t exercise?

As the second study shows, you bet it does!

It also works for men too.

The reason is that exercise affects the way your brain processes stressful information to the point that something about exercise protects you from damaging changes at a very basic level in your brain.

Is the fact that women who did strength training were less irritable significant?

It certainly is!

Strength training makes the people who do it feel more competent and feel less helpless even in the early stages. You can also take out your adrenaline surge from anger on the weights instead of on the people around you.

Does that mean women who strength train have better, more stable relationships?

I think it does!

In the second study, they essentially trapped mice with bullies to see the effects of the resulting stress.

One group just stayed in their normal cages otherwise.

The experimental group got two privileges. They were given opportunities to exercise and opportunities to explore.

The group that didn’t exercise was seriously stressed to the point their brains showed it at a basic level -- even when they were away from the bullies. They acted depressed.

The mice in the experimental group who got exercise and explored for a while before the bullies showed up, were a bit slammed and acted submissive when the bully mice were harassing them just like the others.

BUT, they were resilient. When they were away from the bullies, they were fine and showed virtually no signs of stress.


That’s huge!

The kinds of stress effects that in us can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, AND tend to make Alzheimer’s more likely, did NOT happen to them!

(The connection to this kind of stress and its relationship to mental decline is well described in Dr Singh Khalsa’s book, Brain Longevity.

He uses meditation to relive such stress. But exercise may also work as well or better according to this study.)

Everyone has such stress in their lives.

But staying fit with regular exercise and learning and exploring new things can keep it from harming you.

That’s extremely good news! It deserves front page coverage.

Here are some ideas.

1. Tai Chi combines meditation with an exercise you can do at home or while traveling in your hotel or motel room. It’s so effective at this kind of stress relief it’s been found to reduce high blood pressure better than larger doses of the drugs that do so.

And if you don’t know it and learn it, that’s exploring new things!

2. Women who only have a little time to exercise or haven’t done it before or who need a bit of help with morale and support to keep doing it have a great solution available!

The program CURVES is available almost everywhere in the United States. They’ve found it effective by doing just two or three half hour sessions a week.

And, it includes fitness AND strength training. Since few women know how valuable strength training is and never do any, that’s a BIG benefit.

3. You can also gradually make a variety of exercises you can do at home work well.

I work out with my body weight and a small set of dumbells. I jump rope. I recently learned how to do a kettlebell work out safely. And, I learned how to work out on my NordicTrack without having a problem with my knees.

I do these exercises mostly in the morning with sessions from 6 to 30 minutes long.

4. You can also work out as little as one or two times a week at a gym that has heavier weights and cardio equipment and specialized exercise machines and have it work well if you work out at home too.

5. Learning new things online,
window shopping,
trying out new restaurants,
seeing new movies or movies that sound good that you haven’t seen before using NetFlix,
or taking a class in anything new to you that interests you
-- are some of the many ways to explore that also have this stress relief and resilience effect.

Find a way to add some exercise to your life and do some exploring!

These studies suggest you’ll be very glad you did!

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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

New information on keeping fat and weight off....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 7-5-2011

Researchers at Penn State found that people who lost 10 percent of their weight or more and kept it off for a year or more did two specific things that were different from losing the fat in the first place. And, the people who gained all or part of it back did not do these two things.

The people who succeeded, continued to remind themselves that they were committed to keeping off the fat AND the reasons for doing it.

And, they found ways to reward themselves for doing so.

Other researchers who were familiar with people who succeeded in keeping off lost fat, added some other things when they commented on the new research.

A comment I thought well of was this one. (I list both the related parts.)

Robert Jeffery, director of the Obesity Prevention Center at the University of Minnesota said:

“….differences may be more a matter not of what people do, but how diligently they do it.” &

“"We have information on people who have successfully lost large amounts of weight and kept it up for a long time.

They exercise a lot more than most people do, and they eat a lot healthier diets than most people do." “

The overall picture is that people who lose fat and keep it off, do the same things people do who succeed at anything else.

They make permanent lifestyle upgrades instead of temporary fixes.

They use experimental persistence and quality control to keep improving and stop actions and results that are going the wrong way.

They keep trying new upgrades and keep what works or do more of it and discard things that make things worse.

They also make what they eat and the exercise they get support good health and come close to doing that all the time.

They add protecting their health and living a health sustaining lifestyle part of their self-image.

The new research also stresses the importance of finding ways to live a varied and rewarding life and still keep their focus.

They become expert at finding things that support their health and fat loss that also are really tasty and good to eat. They keep expanding that knowledge. They become skilled at recovering from treats that were not quite as health supporting. And, they become skilled at having the treats that are fattening in excess that they like most – but doing so far less often than people who stay fat.

They keep learning new things in this area and keep trying improvements and making corrections.

This is why people who have strong and regular support for losing fat and keeping it off have double or more the success rate of people who don’t. (They have an ongoing way to be reminded and get help overcoming problems and get new and promising information to try.)

But it also suggests something new. It also looks as if having strong and regular support for protecting your health and living a health sustaining lifestyle IN ADDITION TO fat loss support might double your success rate again!

(Maintaining fat loss protects your health. And, the lifestyle that protects your health also helps lose fat and keep it off.)

We aim to provide both of these with this blog.

But we are also working on two resource and interactive service sites to provide each of these two kinds of support in a far more focused way.

They will also make it easier to customize the information so it fits you well.

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Friday, July 01, 2011

Diet soft drinks ADD belly fat....

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

I had read that diet soft drinks caused even other mammals (who do NOT have access to junky treats and snacks or regular soft drinks) to eat more and add fat.

I had read that one of the ways this happened in people was that after drinking a diet soft drink, they often got the same rebound hunger later for sugary foods they would have gotten from regular soft drinks.

More recently, I read that this happens because when your body gets the sweet taste, you release the same insulin you would if you had drunk a sugary drink.

But insulin surges directly fatten you -- instructing your body to store fat and not release it when you need its energy. That’s so even before you eat more from the rebound hunger – and even if you override that & eat normally instead.

So, despite the fact that some motivated people who do cut back calories in other ways and drink diet soft drinks to reduce calories more -- have lost weight, diet soft drinks DO tend to fatten you if you drink them.

I suspect the people who drink diet soft drinks and still lose weight would have lost more fat or done it more easily had they drunk water instead. In addition, the extra hunger from the diet soft drink effect likely makes it less likely they will keep off the fat.

AND, recent articles show that huge numbers of Americans now get 25% or more of their calories from soft drinks, and junky treats and snacks. That’s because they often have them 3 or more times a day in addition to eating real food.

The second problem in people with diet soft drinks is that eating this way plus drinking diet soft drinks is about 80% the same as doing it with regular soft drinks.

This lifestyle also tends to have excessive TV watching which is a proven fattener.

Diet soft drinks can only help even motivated people who drop the junky snacks and treats and cut back or way back on TV watching. (And these people likely would have done even better with water, tea, water that’s carbonated only, or vegetable juice instead of diet soft drinks.)

I believe strongly that the results that show diet soft drinks to be just as fattening as regular actually have these two causes.

Between the basic biology of the body’s response to the sweet taste and the fattening lifestyle soft drinks are a part of, it should hardly be surprising.

Two days ago Google Health featured an article based on two studies.

One study supported that the basic biology of the sweeteners in diet soft drinks are directly fattening.

The other study found that regardless of which cause operated or operated most,

People who drank diet soft drinks had more belly fat and significantly bigger waists than people who drank no soft drinks at all.

That’s extremely important!

Most people who want to lose weight want to lose it from their waists the most. (That’s certainly true of me!)

Belly fat is also the kind that is most likely to help cause diabetes and heart disease and other diseases– or the lifestyle that produces large bellies does so.

My bet is that they both do!

Here’s a quote from the Google article:

“For one study, researchers at the center followed 474 diet soda drinkers, 65 to 74 years of age, for almost 10 years. They found that diet soda drinkers' waists grew 70 percent more than non-drinkers. Specifically, drinking two or more diet sodas a day busted belt sizes five times more than people who avoided the stuff entirely.

And as waist size grows, so do health risks - including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other chronic conditions.”

(The second study in mice found that, like fattening you, the connection to the sweeteners in diet soft drinks may connect to diabetes and heart disease even more directly.

In that study, the mice which ate food with aspartame for three months had higher blood sugar levels than the mice eating normal food.)

When asked if both regular soft drinks and diet soft drinks are fattening what should we be drinking?

Dr. Helen Hazuda, professor of medicine at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, said:

“"I think prudence would dictate drinking water." “

As we’ve posted before here, tea, water that’s carbonated only, or vegetable juice instead of diet soft drinks also works.

In addition, for fat loss, that may work even better if the drink is chilled because your body burns calories dealing with the cold!

Green tea over ice works. Low sodium spicy V8 works over ice. Iced black tea with lemon juice and chilled club soda with a twist of lemon works.

Iced coffee with a bit of cream works too. (It does have some calories but you can eat less of something else or exercise more for that. Just don’t add sweetener or use nondairy creamer -- which has very questionable ingredients.)

Even ice water works. Best of all, if you are trying to save money you can often get it at no charge when you are eating out.

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