Thursday, January 30, 2014

New information to stop depression and work better....

Today's Post:  Thursday, 1-30-2014

You know you have less mental energy and feel a bit less focused or even grouchy if you don’t get enough sleep or sleep well.

But now we know much more about why that’s so AND a new way to sleep better.

That information was in our last post on Tuesday, 1-28, earlier this week. The title was:
Why sleep is so important & how to sleep better.

Recently two studies came out that relate improving depression to the information in that post.

One said that even before you turn down depression, you can be more effective at work right away by improving sleep & sleep habits, improving mental focus & reducing worry time and found that doing these things boosted productivity in practice.

The other, an Israeli study, found that “changes in one type of non-neuronal brain cells, called microglia, underlie the depressive symptoms brought on by exposure to chronic stress.”

This sounds promising!  Drugs based on this finding that are safe might actually work!

But note that this is very similar to the information in our post on sleep!  Glial cells also are a key to getting better sleep.

So any method that reduces your real and perceived stress or helps you sleep better in other ways or helps you keep your glial and microglial cells healthy will tend to lessen or even stop depression.

Sure it would be nice to have a safe drug that did that – restoring your glial cells to good health.  But it may never happen.  Drugs to induce sleep tend to produce sleep of poor quality and may not work for this purpose and are quite dangerous to take besides.

The much better news is that you can do a great deal to use this information right now without needing a drug to do it.:

1.  Meanwhile, mastering stress recovery and resilience could reduce the underlying cause.

Reducing the kinds of stress that cause this clearly does help because it removes the cause.

(The info on PTSD reversal might be helpful with this.)

One way to do that and improve sleep and mental focus at work is by worry management.

Here are three key ways to do that:

a) Make an appointment with yourself to deal with the things you are worrying about.  Then if you begin to worry when you are trying to focus on your work or the other things you need to do, STOP and remind yourself of when you decided to work on those things.

b) When you are at the time you set, WRITE DOWN what you are worried about and why exactly it’s a threat. 

c) Then think carefully or do fact checking to see if you are worried by something that might happen but either might not or the evidence suggests it won’t happen at all. Sometimes the things we worry about were never real threats or don’t happen.  In fact, one author of a book on worry said he found the majority of things people worry about don’t happen!  That can sometimes cut your stress a  LOT!

d) The ones that look as if they actually could happen, remind yourself of similar things you survived, accept that that harm might happen, then immediately think up at least 3 things you can to or at least try to make the harm less much less likely.

e) Decide which one you will act on first and set a time to do it. Then follow up.

2.  High inflammatory response kills the microglia to cause the problem.  So lifestyles and practices that minimize chronic inflammation would cut the number killed and can help prevent depression or lessen how severe it is and how long it lasts. 

Avoid eating fats from grain fed animals or eating soy or corn oil or canola oil at all and use extra virgin olive oil instead.  (If you can afford them and get them, eat foods like wild caught fish or eggs from pastured chickens or cheese or meat from animals fed only grass or on pasture.)
Take turmeric or curcumin supplements and use yellow or orange curries containing turmeric and/or ginger on some of your foods.

3.  By taking ubiquinol and PQQ that lessen the death of these cell's mitochondria and restore them to cells that are harmed but not dead, that too might have protective or reversing effects.

4.  Causing BDNF release to grow new cells in the brain might also cause these cells to be replaced sooner and faster and have curative effects.  Taking DHA & bacopa and doing vigorous exercise most days of every week and NOT taking statin drugs would be very helpful. (Statins prevent exercise from many of its protective effects and harm your mitochondria.  And there are many more heart protective things than statins that are far safer to use.  One is the same regular vigorous exercise that releases BDNF.  The key is to avoid working very hard with no breaks or failing to build up the intensity gradually or continuing to eat and drink heart attack starters like hydrogenated oils – which also boost inflammation!)

5.  The carotene, luteolin, protects glial cells as does enough sound sleep.  Since these are microglia cells and may be closely related, that means that the exercise which helps with sound sleep and using other methods to sleep well plus eating broccoli or kale and carrots 7 or more times a week might also help because they are high in luteolin and related carotenes.

Here’s the study reference if you’d like to see it:

Discovery of new mechanism underlying depression could lead to efficient and
fast-acting antidepressant drugs
The World health Organization calls depression "the leading cause of disability
worldwide," resulting in more years of disability than cancer, HIV/AIDS, and
cardiovascular and respiratory...

Here are some key quotes:

“Despite recent progress in understanding depression, scientists still don't understand the biological mechanisms behind it well enough to deliver effective prevention and therapy. One possible reason is that almost all research focuses on the brain's neurons, while the involvement of other brain cells has not been thoroughly examined.

Now researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have shown that changes in one type of non-neuronal brain cells, called microglia, underlie the depressive symptoms brought on by exposure to chronic stress.

In experiments with animals, the researchers were able to demonstrate that compounds that alter the functioning of microglia can serve as novel and efficient antidepressant drugs.”

….”The researchers examined the involvement of microglia brain cells in the development of depression following chronic exposure to stress. Comprising roughly 10% of brain cells, microglia are the representatives of the immune system in the brain; but recent studies have shown that these cells are also involved in physiological processes not directly related to infection and injury, including the response to stress.”

The researchers mimicked chronic unpredictable stress in humans - a leading cause of depression - by exposing mice to repeated, unpredictable stressful conditions over a period of 5 weeks.”

….”The researchers found that during the first week of stress exposure, microglia cells undergo a phase of proliferation and activation, reflected by increased size and production of specific inflammatory molecules, after which some microglia begin to die.

Following the 5 weeks of stress exposure, this phenomenon led to a reduction in the number of microglia, and to a degenerated appearance of some microglia cells, particularly in a specific region of the brain involved in responding to stress.

When the researchers blocked the initial stress-induced activation of microglia with drugs or genetic manipulation, they were able to stop the subsequent microglia cell death and decline, as well as the depressive symptoms and suppressed neurogenesis.

However, these treatments were not effective in "depressed" mice, which were already exposed to the 5-weeks stress period and therefore had lower number of microglia. Based on these findings, the investigators treated the "depressed" mice with drugs that stimulated the microglia and increased their number to a normal level.”

“…. "We were able to demonstrate that such microglia-stimulating drugs served as effective and fast-acting antidepressants, producing complete recovery of the depressive-like behavioral symptoms, as well as increasing the neurogenesis to normal levels within a few days of treatment.” “

This is the part that the supplements ubiquinol and PQQ may do from some to a lot in some cases.  Ubiquinol helps your mitochondria stay healthy to begin with and PQQ has been found in studies at the University of California, Davis to cause new mitochondria to grow.

If this does indeed cause fewer microglial cells to die or stop functioning well or help BDNF from exercise and taking or eating DHA to build new and healthy microglial cells, it does look likely to stop this cause of depression.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Why sleep is so important & how to sleep better....

Today's Post:  Tuesday, 1-28-2014

You know you have less mental energy and feel a bit less focused or even grouchy if you don’t get enough sleep or sleep well.

But now we know much more about why that’s so AND a new way to sleep better.

In an email on Weds, 1-15 almost two weeks ago from Al Sears, MD called Why We Need Sleep, he has that information.

Here’s the core information from his email:

“Sleep helps restore your brain. Without sleep, your brain function declines and ages faster.
The question has always been, why?

But I just read a study that might give us a clue.

Scientists have recently discovered that your brain has a waste removal system they’re calling the glymphatic system. It gets rid of waste the same way your lymphatic system clears toxins through your liver.

The really interesting thing to me is that this system uses your glia(l) cells and astrocytes, two types of brain cells.

What we’ve learned is that while you sleep, “water channels” that flow between your neurons expand to take away waste and buildup.

Without sleep, you can’t remove as much waste. Your brain then ages faster and deteriorates. That makes taking care of your glial cells important in preventing diseases like Alzheimer’s.“

He then adds some ways he teaches his patients to sleep well.  Here are my versions of his points and some added ones not in his email.

1.  Sleep in quiet and darkness.  That allows your body to generate melatonin.  And take melatonin at bed-time f you are over about 45. Avoid taking 3 mg or more to allow it to clear before you get up in the morning and not make you half asleep. From half a 1  mg tablet to 1 mg to 2 or 2.5 mg as you get older is enough for most people.  (I take one that is sublingual so it goes into my bloodstream faster and I can take it at bedtime instead of having to time it for an hour before.)  We have blinds and turn off the lights and put a cloth over the light on the air-conditioning unit in the summer. Because we don’t yet have blackout curtains too, I sleep with two pillows and sleep on my side with the top pillow set in such a way it cuts out light and cuts down or noise at night.

2.  Studies show thiamine improves sleep patterns when you have enough. Even a multivitamin has some; a good B complex supplement has some; and a stand alone 100 mg supplement is available and quite inexpensive.  ""To regulate sleep, Dr Sears recommends 40 mg a day of thiamine.""  I take all 3 which gives me more than the 40 mg a day  AND the other B complex vitamins my and your bodies likely need to make proper use of the thiamine.

3.  Take or eat foods high in a carotene called luteolin.  This enables your glial cells to boost your sleep quality.  But as luteolin protects your glial cells which can get a really fatal cancer and are involved in learning new things, this is a very important protective nutrient to get!

Celery, green peppers, the herb thyme, and chamomile tea are high in it. So are broccoli, kale, parsley, dandelion, carrots, olive oil, peppermint, rosemary, navel oranges, and oregano.

4.  Do superslow strength training twice a week.  They studied that and 40% of the people who did that had MUCH better sleep quality and none had worse sleep quality.

5.  Even if it’s brief, 4 to 10 minutes to 25 minutes per session, try to do some kind of vigorous exercise first thing almost every morning.  A separate study found that people who exercise first thing in the morning sleep much better than people who don’t. 

6.  Particularly on weekdays go to be as close to the same time each day as you can.  Set your alarm to get up at exactly the same time each morning. Do NOT use a snooze button.  This give you very little added sleep and rest; but does tend to make you behind schedule and disrupt the consistent pattern that enables you to have the best sleep.

7.  Make a special effort to get at least 6 hours of sleep every night.  If you can do it, the sweet spot for the ideal amount tends to be about 7 and a quarter hours of sleep or a bit more.  But people who routinely sleep more than 8 and a half hours or less than 6 hours tend to get health problems from it.

8.  Only if there is some breaking news of very high importance should you watch TV news late at night.  You can get news important to you more focused on what you are interested in and using MUCH less time by looking it up on the internet well before bedtime or in the morning.  (It also helps a lot to watch less than 15 hours a week of TV; stop watching it at least an hour before bed.  And never have the TV in your bedroom.

9.  Drinking coffee is OK but stop coffee and tea by 4 hours before bed if you can.  And make a special effort to drink 3 cups or a bit less of coffee and not more.  Research found that 4 or more cups a day keeps you a bit awake at night causing you to need extra the following day.  But if you get a bit of extra sleep, cut back to 3 and turn to tea or decaf coffee after that, the coffee works about as well to keep you awake and mentally sharp but without that effect.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Health OK Super Bowl snacks, 2014....

Today's Post:  Monday, 1-27-2014

This is an updated edition of our post from this time last year, 2013 & going back to 2008.

Why are health OK snacks so important?

It's not just at the time the Super Bowl happens each year about now that people eat snacks.

Many people make snacks as much as a quarter or a fifth of all their weekly food. Some go to a full third of the calories they eat.

The other factor is that the health damaging snack foods are some of the very worst foods people eat while the health OK snack foods are actually good for you or at least not that bad.

That means that hosting or taking snacks pot luck style to a Super Bowl party is a chance to try
out health OK snacks yourself & introduce them to your friends & family.


First, let's literally dispose of one category of what NOT to use. One year, my wife & I were taking snacks to my parent's house. I knew that two things to use to dip snacks into that are actually good for you & taste great are guacamole & hummus. But my wife wanted to bring some traditional dips as well. I went to an upscale grocery store in our area & went to that section.

Ouch !!

Even there, there were no health OK choices at all. Every one of the commercially made up dips (except the guacamole) they stocked had partially hydrogenated oils (which contain trans fats) or high fructose corn syrup with some having both.

(In case you don't yet know, partially hydrogenated oils-- which contain trans fats -- & high fructose corn syrup are avoidable health poisons that are not yet completely outlawed & out of our foods.

Trans fats are literally cardiovascular disease & heart attack starters. They have the same kind of effect as using lighter fluid to start up charcoal for a BBQ. The safe amount of those to eat is zero, absolutely none. (Trans fat causes your LDL to become the tiny particles that go into the cracks in your artery walls, build up, and then restrict or block blood flow!)

2013 New information: 

Manmade hydrogenated oils and the trans fats connected with them are so hard for your body to clear, you only clear half of what you eat within a couple of weeks or more as shown by research.


Guess what that means?

If you allow yourself just a little bit of foods containing them, after a couple of weeks, there is enough of them in your system to cause heart disease and cause your blood lipids like HDL and LDL cholesterol  to show much worse readings.

It’s likely ten times as protective to NOT eat any of this junk ever -- as it is to take statin drug AND that’s if you are one of few people in the genetic type they give some protection to!

Do NOT buy or eat such dips! 

You and your friends at your Super Bowl party will be far safer without eating hydrogenated oils. 

And, you’ll help penalize the folks who put heart attack starter in their foods!

High fructose corn syrup is not quite that bad we wrote before.  Oops!

New information for 2013:  High fructose corn syrup IS heart attack starter too!

New research shows that high triglycerides are more likely to help cause heart attacks, strokes, and deaths than high LDL cholesterol.

Guess what food component makes triglycerides go up the most?

Yep, it’s high fructose corn syrup!  From the research I’ve read it does this more than regular sugar AND so far, people still eat or drink HUGE amounts of it.

So ingesting high fructose corn syrup doesn’t just help cause 2 diabetes and we now know it’s the most effective fattener known new research found this year* --
high fructose corn syrup is a very effective heart attack starter too!

(Sugar lowers your appetite so you may eat a bit less before the rebound hunger it causes kicks in. 

Brain scans show that eating or drinking high fructose corn syrup does NOT register to lower your appetite and may even boost it a bit and then you still get the rebound hunger later too!)

2014:  New research found that free fructose in high fructose corn syrup and agave nectar does in fact cause you to eat more and not turn down hunger as much as real sugar or food to do this.

(And there’s more, about 30% of the high fructose corn syrup contains mercury, a nerve toxin that can cause Alzheimer’s like symptoms!)

So, to be sure my wife & I don't eat high fructose corn syrup in quantity or eat any that contains mercury, we do not eat it all. We also are doing our part to boycott an unsafe food additive by doing that.

(As of 2008, between 30 % and 55% of the products, including name brands, that contain high fructose corn syrup also contain mercury because a mercury compound is use to make the high fructose corn syrup used in those products.  Also note, if high fructose corn syrup is listed first or second on the ingredients list, it’s more likely the product contains mercury.

2012 update:  Since it has NOT been in the news that this has been fixed, I seriously doubt that it has been fixed.

So we currently recommend you completely avoid buying or ingesting high fructose corn syrup.)

So, for dips at this writing, you have three health OK choices: buy guacamole; buy hummus: or make your own dips.

Health OK components to consider running through a blender or adding to after you run the blender to make health OK dips are salsa, vegetarian beans, cooked black-eyed peas, regular baked beans, hummus, nonfat yogurt, frozen chopped spinach, chopped onion, extra virgin olive oil, chili powder, & chopped cilantro.  For some dips, garlic cloves work or if you want to not have it that garlicky, use a bit of garlic powder spice.

You can also make a somewhat healthier dip by substituting one of these for part of the sour cream in sour cream based dip recipes. A half hummus, half sour cream recipe would have half the saturated fat of a full sour cream recipe. But it would taste richer than a hummus only version.

2008 addition:  Real sour cream is not exactly a health food due to its high saturated fat content.  But compared with dips with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil it almost IS a health food by comparison.  As an occasional dip treat, we found that real sour cream with a good bit of a good quality, multiple ingredient, curry powder makes a great dip.

We’ve taken to bringing 3 dips when asked to provide them:  Hummus, guacamole, and this curried real sour cream.  I particularly like having about 2 or 3 fresh veggies with each of the three dips.  That way, I get a lot of the fresh veggies and two thirds of the dips are actually good for me to eat.

Crunchy foods:

People often use crackers for crunchy snack foods. This is an extremely bad idea.

Commercial crackers today still tend to use partially hydrogenated oils (which contain trans fats). Almost as bad, they usually are badly over-salted and are made only or mostly from refined grains. About the only real food component they contain is calories. So eating them tends to make you fat.

If for variety or for guests who would feel deprived, you would like to serve some crackers, there are two kinds that are almost OK.

Crostini makes an absolutely delicious cracker that is not too salty & uses olive oil instead of trans fats. They sell those at Whole Foods Market stores. They do use refined grains. But they taste good & avoid the other health damaging components.

Safeway & other major grocery chains carry RyKrisp or Rye Krisp crackers. At least one of their versions has no fat at all. These are almost a little too crunchy for my taste. But that's because they have whole grains, which are better for you. But be careful as one or more of the available versions have partially hydrogenated oils (which contain trans fats). Just check the label to see which kind is OK & skip the other versions. The version that has NO fat at all is the health OK one.

2013 Update.  More recent information shows that wheat tends to be fattening and more and more people are going to wheat free or gluten free ways of eating.

Since I don’t eat crackers and my wife still is OK with nonfat crackers, I’ve not shopped for crackers that are gluten free yet.  The good news is that eating gluten free is now popular so there are gluten free crackers and likely Whole Foods carries several kinds.

And, the even better news is that because wheat has tons of gluten, every gluten free bread, cracker, cookie, etc is wheat free too!

2014 update, while it may be OK for onetime events like the Superbowl, both wheat AND gluten even in those not supersensitive to it tends to be fattening, so it is best to leave it out.

There are two ways to do that and still have a base for snacks that are usually on wheat bread or crackers.

You can peel and slice yams or sweet potatoes or even a larger zucchini on the diagonal and not too thick.  Then gently sauté them in extra virgin olive oil or fry them at low temperatures in coconut oil.

That can work to replace wheat crackers.

Another new option is to use a no wheat, high protein, high fiber bread called Paleo Bread.
Toasting this gently and then using half slices or quarter slices for snacks instead of wheat based crackers also works.

You can also do two versions one with the sliced vegetables and one with the Paleo bread.

So you now have two ways to do gluten free and relatively nonfattening snacks that used to take wheat crackers.

Chips:  Most potato chips and related snacks are messy to clean up after. 

People tend to massively overeat them.  And, this is true to such an extent that they wind up being as fattening as soft drinks in the people who eat them every week -- which is pretty bad!

They also are heavily over-salted. 

The real fans of one or the other of the teams will likely ramp up their blood pressure pulling for their team.   They could do without super salty chips adding to the effect! So, the advice from here is to leave potato chips out totally.


Because some people are quite gravely & severely allergic to these, they are likely NOT a good idea for larger groups of people you don't know well. This kind of allergy to peanuts is so wide-spread now, we suggest you never serve peanuts or mixes containing them to people you don't know.

Only serve nuts to family or friends you know can eat nuts OK.

However, for people who can eat nuts safely, raw walnuts, raw pecans, & dry roasted almonds are delightfully good crunchy snack foods. Even better, they have so many health benefits, that people who eat nuts regularly live several years longer than people who don't.

(I've found the best store for these to be Whole Foods Market stores. They carry these kinds of nuts in bulk & in packages -- both at reasonable prices.)

(Unfortunately, commercial nut mixes often do everything wrong.   

    We do NOT recommend those !!

They often include peanuts because they are cheaper. They increase the shelf life by roasting them in partially hydrogenated oils (which contain trans fats) or in polyunsaturated oils like corn or soy oil that tend to break down at that temperature & contain excessive omega 6 oils.

Then they usually make them even less health OK by over-salting them. Yikes!)

Crunchy vegetables:

Raw Broccoli Florets; Cauliflower Florets, Celery sticks, & Carrot sticks work really well with dips. 

2013 addition:

(Carrots are a superfood because they contain the most alpha carotene which we now know is one of the most effective causes of good health known.

But make your carrot sticks pretty thin -- about a fourth of  an inch diameter or less.  The fatter ones can hurt your guest’s teeth if they bite into them too hard without chewing chunks off first.)

Radishes are also a nice change of pace. They are too small to dip well. But they are both crunchy & spicy.

Protein foods:

B & M Baked Beans are decent simply heated up & served. If you want totally vegetarian, Bushes makes a decent, pre-cooked Vegetarian baked beans. Both come canned at major grocery stores.

2013 addition:

(Canned beans are a bad idea for year round use due to BHA or worse kinds of  trial replacements in the linings getting into the food which is harmful and fattening.

You can cook beans from scratch and make your own baked beans.  But if you haven’t time, at this writing I THINK using canned beans very rarely for special occasions is OK.)

If you can afford them, real crab meat, lobster meat, & shrimp with the tails removed are all health OK choices.

(Just don't mix these into dips as some people are allergic to them. Served alone though, people can see what they are & avoid them if they are allergic.)

Cheeses are less health OK because of their sky high amounts of saturated fat – and if from grain fed cows, they are also too high in omega 6 oils.

But for special occasions only, they have no other health problems; they are easy to set out in bite sized pieces; they are available almost everywhere; & they come in many varieties with abundant flavor.

Other foods:

Another snack food that works really well is stuffed olives. They are a little too salty to eat at all often. But they are health OK otherwise. And many of the versions taste great. Pitted olives come with (or you can make them up to contain) sun dried tomato, blue cheese, feta cheese, garlic, blanched almonds, etc.)

Fresh strawberries that have been washed & green leaves & stems removed are an absolutely wonderful snack that is also really good for you to eat.


For non alcoholic drinks, Martinelli’s carbonated apple juice & carbonated apple cranberry juice are decent choices for special occasions. And, some people like, grape juice, orange juice, tomato juice, &/or V8 juice. You can also try 100 % cranberry juice mixed half and half with Martinelli’s or club soda for a lower glycemic and tarter but still festive drink.

(Drinking all kinds of sodas & soft drinks is so harmful to the health of so many people, I personally feel that they should never be bought or consumed even on special occasions.

If you feel differently though, drink as little of them as you can stand.

Here's why:

1.  They usually contain high fructose corn syrup*, sugar, or artificial sweeteners, a preservative that has been implicated as causing cancer and thyroid disease, artificial flavors, water & nothing else besides the carbonation. Only the water is good for you. Sugar is OK only in strict moderation. And the other junk tends to reliably make people fat & cause health problems. 

(See the previous comments about high fructose corn syrup -- and the mercury in it!)

2.  Diet soft drinks believe it or not are even more fattening and harmful to your health direct research has found. 

That sounds impossible doesn’t it? 

In addition to possible harm from the artificial sweeteners for some people, it seems that ingesting something that tastes really sweet with no sugar in it causes your body to lower your blood sugar when it started out not high.  You then have low blood sugar and begin to strongly  crave real sugar and the foods it’s in. 

This means that in practice drinking diet soft drinks acts as a powerful drug to make you eat even more sugar than you would have had you drunk a regular soft drink.  And, you’ll eat a LOT more than if you drank water or tea or coffee.

Would you take a drug that was an appetite booster for sugar and sugary foods so strong it was virtually irresistible? 

NO.  You likely would not if you didn’t want to get fatter and more likely to get type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

If those are things you too would like to avoid, do NOT drink diet soft drinks!

Of the alcoholic beverages, red wine & dark beer actually have extra health benefits! And, beer is a traditional drink for watching football. Even better, there are a huge number of really good dark beers now available.

New last year:  I just found out that beers like Michelob Ultra and Molson Ultra taste as good as regular beer but with far lower sugar and carbohydrate content.  So if you want a beer that’s OK if you are trying to lose fat even at a party, those can be good choices.

Most alcoholic beverages, in fact, tend to boost HDL cholesterol.

But make sure to make the quantities small to moderate. Not only can people who drink too much cause problems at your party or get into an avoidable car accidents driving home, if they get into an accident where there is injury or significant property damage, as the host who served them too much alcohol, you can be sued in court.

For your own drinking, drink one or two early in the party and if you drink another have it be early in the second half.  The longer the time between when you drink and when you drive, the safer you are.

If you will drink or do wind up drinking more than that, take a cab or have someone drive you home

(I’ve found that two pints of beer early and then hot chocolates after that keeps me feeling festive but hangover free the next day.)

I hope this post gives you some ideas as to what snacks to avoid year round & some that are either almost OK or are actually good for you to use instead.

2010 addition:

Some people serve chili at Super Bowl parties.  Here are three alternatives.:

1.  If you use exclusively beef from animals fed only grass, any good chili recipe you find or like is good at least on special occasions.  (Grain fed beef has excessive fat, saturated fat, omega 6 oils and tends to have pesticides and herbicides bioconcentrated in its fat.  Beef from cattle fed only grass is a bit more intense in flavor and avoids these problems.)

And, you can make up your own recipes. It’s not at all hard. Make one and taste it on Saturday; and if you like it or find it decent, save some to reheat and have during the Super Bowl.

2.  Use any kind of cooked beef you like that comes from cattle fed only grass.  Use hamburger, shredded cooked beef or chop cooked beef into quarter inch or a touch bigger cubes. 

Use any good tomato sauce or pasta sauce with no oil added plus the amount and kind of mild extra virgin olive oil you like.  (Or you can buy Muir Glenn pasta sauce at Whole Foods which, in its Four Cheese, Italian Herb, & Roasted Garlic & some other varieties has some olive oil; & it comes in glass bottles -- not canned where you have to worry about BPA.) I use Muir Glenn and then add some extra, extra virgin olive oil for a richer taste.  (Avoid any kinds, if you can, that use soy or canola oil.  Those have too much omega 6 oils.)

Then add a good chili powder.  Spice Islands and many other companies make these.  Add a bit and taste.  Then consider your likely guests in deciding how much to add or whether to add a bit of red pepper also.  The ideal is to make it spicy but not so harsh or hot that some people won’t like it.

(You can add, mild cooked green chilies, chopped onions sautéed in olive oil, mushrooms, etc.

And, you can set out several kinds of add-ons, diced sharp cheddar cheese, diced raw onions, mushrooms if you don’t include them in the chili, or diced, fresh, organic tomatoes.)

Simply stir the ingredients together over low to moderate heat until heated through and your chili is done.  (This presumes you cooked the meat first.  Or, you can put everything into a crock pot and run it on low for several hours which both cooks the meat without overheating it and melds the flavors together.)

Unless you have guests coming you know hate garlic, it also adds a lot of taste and health benefits to add it.  Use two or three or four cloves, depending how much chili you’re making,.  Then peel, dice, and crush them and stir them in after the chili is cooked and just before it’s served.

3.  You can also make 100% vegetarian chili.  You can substitute whole, cooked beans or blenderized, cooked beans or canned black eyed peas or canned cooked lentils for the grass fed beef.  You can even make it with hummus. If you add enough good tomato or pasta sauce, chili powder, extra virgin olive oil, and other spices the flavor is just as good as the grass fed beef version.  (I like the versions with the blenderized cooked beans as it’s smoother and easier to eat than the whole cooked, bean versions.)

From 2011: 

We do NOT recommend sandwiches on refined grain bread or chicken wings fried with a breaded and spicy sauce.  (Refined grain breads both fatten you and tend to harm your health.  They are nice for a kind of edible holder or temporary plate.  Use paper napkin or fork or a real plate instead!)

But skinless chicken thighs with or without the bone or the smaller part of chicken wing in the bone with the wing part removed before cooking where they are slow cooked with a spicy sauce or marinade can be served with paper napkins or forks if boneless and plates or small paper plates can work.  Cooking them overnight in a crock pot works and blends in the flavor too.  Olive oil with garlic powder and red pepper to taste can work.  Coconut milk with diced garlic and diced, peeled ginger also works well.

You can also use boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut them after they are cooked into bite sized pieces and serve on plates with a small fork.

Or you can cook hamburger patties using grass fed beef and serve them Atkins style on plates with a fork.

Using garlic powder and a pinch of salt and adding a bit of olive oil to compensate for the grass fed beef being lean and add some dried sour cherries and diced onion before the patties are cooked and then cook them over moderate heat in a cast iron frying pan.

Annie’s Natural Foods makes a yellow mustard with no MSG and a ketchup with no high fructose corn syrup.  Both are also made with organic ingredients.

Last point.:

Super Bowl parties are a special event.  So, people will be watching the game.  Plus, this is one of the few times a year they watch the commercials.  So, it is understandable that they will eat while watching. 

Our recommendation is to not worry about this for the Super Bowl game.  If the snacks are health OK, stop there and let people enjoy the event.

But, one of the surest ways to get fat the rest of the year is to eat while watching TV. 

Watching TV is fattening by itself, particularly if you watch over 15 hours a week. 

And, snacking even on health OK snacks tends to cause people to concentrate on the TV and just keep eating even though they are no longer hungry.  People who do both AND drink soft drinks and eat fattening snacks are virtually all obese (very fat!)

So, THAT we do suggest avoiding!

From an earlier version of this post:

I read a good idea.  Set up the table where food is served in a different room than the TV.  That way people get a bit of a break from sitting to get food and they’ll eat a bit less.

A related non-food idea was if you have two TV’s and enough room, have a TV in one room for the serious fans and a second one in a room where people are there mostly to socialize.

Whether you bring things to a party or host one, I hope you enjoy the game!

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Most people do NOT need drugs for high blood pressure….

Today's Post:  Friday, 1-24-2014

I.  Some people have blood pressure over 160 over 100.  Many years ago it was found that for such people it does cut heart attacks and strokes and deaths for doctors to put people with blood pressure that high on the blood pressure drugs. 

If you do have blood pressure that high now it this shows it makes sense to take the drugs at least at first.

But some causes of high blood pressure called secondary hypertension are treatable to lower blood pressures that high. Have your doctor check you for those because getting treatment if you have one can get your blood pressure below 160 over 100.

And, by adding food upgrades and effective stress relief, you can both add to your heart attack and stroke and death protection and can often lower your blood pressure enough to get it consistently below 160 over 100.

a) The Resperate Device, doing Tai Chi, and doing gentle yoga with deep breathing as you move and avoiding harsh stretching poses all have reduced blood pressure without drugs by amounts like 12 over 6, 14 over 8, and 17 over 11 and sometimes more.

b) Similarly an adapted DASH II diet with extra vegetables, far fewer grains, and making it a bit of a Mediterranean diet by almost exclusively using extra virgin olive oil and including nuts and maybe some red wine will add to your heart attack and stroke and death protection and can often lower your blood pressure enough to get it consistently below 160 over 100. 

(You do have to give up soft drinks, excessive sugar, packaged foods, and almost all fast food. But besides the lower blood pressure, many people lose 25 pounds with no hunger or eating less when they go to this way of eating!)

c) Adding exercise that you gradually build up to being vigorous exercise most days of every week also will add to your heart attack and stroke and death protection and can often help lower your blood pressure enough to get it consistently below 160 over 100 if you also do the food upgrades.  It’s even been found that your blood pressure is less on the days you exercise!

d)  If you smoke or get a lot of second hand smoke exposure, make it stop and you will add to your heart attack and stroke and death protection and this too can lower your blood pressure enough to get it consistently below 160 over 100.

e)  If you do take the blood pressure drugs, make a special effort to avoid beta blockers because they are harmful except in very special uses.  They are also difficult and dangerous to stop taking. (We cover why they are harmful in the next section.)

II. But most prescriptions today for blood pressure drugs are for blood pressures below 160 over 100.

The wonderful news is that if you do the things we just listed, not only will your blood pressure go down, you do NOT get any added protection from heart attacks and strokes and death by adding the drugs.  It’s only people who do NOT do those things who need the drugs.  Two separate studies now have shown this!

That means that if you do the protective actions and your blood pressure without the drugs is below 160 over 100, the drugs are not needed to lower your most important risks.

That’s good news if you hate the quality of life you have when you take the drugs.  And most people do.  That’s why many people stop taking them.

The other good news is that if you do these lifestyle upgrades you can stop taking them or decline to take them and still be protected!

1.  Many doctors now have been tending to prescribe drugs for BP of either over 140 OR 90. And more likely if both over 140 & 90.

2.  This is MUCH lower than the 160 over 100 consistently shown to have the drugs cut death rates.  

And, the best doctors for some time have been happy to get even  those blood pressure readings down  to about 150 over 80 and now 150 over 90.

Many people taking the drug now are already that low in their blood pressure.

3.  This strategy, using the drugs below 160 over 100 but above 140 over 90, is ONLY able to cut death rates of people who do not eat right and do vigorous regular exercise.  People who DO those two things get ZERO added protection by adding the drugs.

4.  In  addition to the cost, these drugs all have significant quality of life issues for most people who take them.  They can and often do lower productivity at work from these distractions and depression creating effects.  

5.  Some of these drugs also have DEATH rates of their own in addition in some people.

ACE in inhibitors, that are currently a common choice are one of these.  People who are allergic have their throat and tongue swell up until they can't breathe.  Some people this happens to get to an  ER in time.  But, many don't.  (If I ever needed to take them – some ACE inhibitors are decent drugs otherwise as blood pressure drugs, I’d go the ER first thing very early in the morning with something to read and a lunch and only leave after 10 or 12 hours.  That way if I got that reaction, I’d be right there for help.)

5.  They create sexual dysfunction including ED in many people who take them.  Beta blockers are close to the worst for this but many people get this reaction to the others.

7.  Two of the most used of these drugs are thiazide diuretics & beta blockers.  A recent email I got reported this increases risk for type 2 diabetes.  Since beta blockers also tend to block exercise from creating fitness and cause heart failure and are addictive this is NOT good.  

Another health post I read today, 1-6-2013, says that like statins, beta blockers ALSO cut CoQ10 & ubiquinol.  

And, statins also tend to cause type 2 diabetes.  So the combination of statins and beta blockers and/or with thiazide diuretics is particularly undesirable.

The conclusion is that eating right and getting regular exercise and various kinds of stress relief reduce high blood pressure and or make it safe to have at these moderately lower levels.

The inescapable conclusion is that the blood pressure reducing drugs are an inferior choice for most of the people now taking them. They are NOT needed for protection by people able to do the protective actions and they are harmful or worse on their own.  

And, except for emergency use for dangerously high blood pressure or right after a heart attack for a short time to give the heart a bit of rest before careful rehab, very few people should ever take beta blockers! 

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

New way to protect your eyes and slow aging….

Today's Post:  Thursday, 1-23-2014

One of the ways you can become impaired and less functional as you get older is to see less well or not see at all.

Cataracts and other eye problems in middle aged and older people do just that.

But if you can make them dramatically less likely or happen decades later, that could help give you an extra 10 or 20 years of a life healthy enough to enjoy.

It turns out you can!  And a new discovery almost doubles the power of those methods.

We already know a large number of ways that help prevent these problems.  (I list many of them in the second half of this post.)

But thanks to the research of Al Sears, MD, we now know there is an unusually valuable way to prevent these problems.  AND in addition to the eye protection it gives you it slows DNA damage which tends to prevent cancers and slow aging besides!

Astaxanthin is a supplement that had very good press as an antioxidant but I never thought to try it because I take about 6 others and eat more foods than that high in antioxidants. 

But that changed recently because of the first email I got from Al Sears.

When I was at the doctor several months ago to check why it felt like something that should have been washed out by tears was still in my eye (It wasn’t), in his exam he found what he called “baby cataracts”.

Besides my healthy lifestyle, not smoking, and not taking statins, and almost always wearing a hat I immediately bought UV blocking sunglasses to wear in super bright sunlight since this helps prevent cataracts and I’d not been doing it.

Then in an email almost 3 weeks ago Al Sears said that taking Astaxanthin strongly protected you from cataracts!

NICE!  So I started taking two 3 mg capsules a day of astaxanthin as that’s thought to be the effective amount.

Then I got this!

“Studies show astaxanthin increases antioxidant protection throughout the eye.1

It also helps relieve dry eyes and blurring. Astaxanthin even helps with double vision. In fact, people who take astaxanthin report being able to see clearer and sharper.

Also, astaxanthin increases blood flow to all parts of your eyes.2

So at the same time it’s destroying free radicals, astaxanthin helps you maintain the flow of nutrients and oxygen to your inner eye, keeping your vision sharp and clear.

Astaxanthin, possibly the world’s strongest antioxidant, has the power to cross the blood brain barrier. That means it can and soothe and protect the deepest parts of your eye, including the central retina.3,4

Astaxanthin also keeps the outer layers of your eye, which are exposed to the elements, healthy as well. The Laboratory of Ocular Cell Biology and Visual Science at Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan proved this. Animals’ eyes given astaxanthin maintained healthy normal function5 even when exposed to a harsh light source.  This light had the same effect as prolonged sunlight, or even working at a computer all day.”

Wow!  It seems that astaxanthin is so protective because it is able to go everywhere in your eyes and protect them.

It also such a strong antioxidant that he said separately that it reduces DNA damage

You may well have already eaten astaxanthin because it’s the compound that makes wild caught salmon pink.

So it turns out close to the 3 best eye protective actions are to wear UV blocking sunglasses in very bright sunlight, take astaxanthin, and completely avoid tobacco smoke.

(It also helps to NOT ever take statins because they do tend to cause cataracts in some people and are NOT a very heart protective drug for most of the people who now take them.)

Are there other ways to protect your eyes that work?

Yes indeed there are.

1.  Bilberries, a kind of Scandavian blueberry, are protective and even restorative to your eyes and vision. 

(I take two of the bilberry supplements because of its other health benefits.)  This was discovered when English pilots in the RAF in World War II found that when they ate bilberries their night vision improved.  Some people with vision problems have restored their vision or improved it by taking bilberry supplements.

2.  It’s also true that eating carrots and other dark green, yellow, or orange vegetables --- vegetables high in carotenes, they have hundreds of kinds!, protects your eyes.  Zeaxanthin and lutein are two of these that are also very strongly protective to your eyes that are in these vegetables.  Broccoli, carrots, and kale are all high in them.

3.  Taking resveratrol along with things like bilberry extract, grape seed extract, etc like astaxanthin slows aging and is quite protective and restorative to your eyes and vision.  Some people with vision problems have restored their vision or improved it by taking resveratrol along with these related compounds.

4.  The ubiquinol form of CoQ10 that your body directly uses keep the mitochondria, the energy generating parts of your cells healthy, including the cells in your eyes and optic nerves. Some people with vision problems have restored their vision or improved it by taking ubiquinol.

5.  All parts of your eyes depend on good blood circulation so all the methods to keep your blood vessels healthy that work protect your eyesight.  Not ever eating hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup or drinking soft drinks and hardly any grains and eating heart protective foods instead protects your eyes too.

6.  Regular vigorous exercise most days of every week also protects your blood vessels.

In addition to that it releases the nerve growing and restoring hormone BDNF.  So doing it helps protect your optic nerves and the part of your brain that processes vision!

7.  Also eating wild caught fish high in omega 3 oils or taking the supplement DHA also helps your body release BDNF!  So doing that AND regular vigorous exercise most days of every week also helps protect your optic nerves and the part of your brain that processes vision!   

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cut fracture risk by 70%....

Today's Post:  Tuesday, 1-21-2014

Men over 75, women past menopause, and people who take acid reflux drugs are at risk for osteoporosis and dangerous and painful bone fractures. 

Older people who get hip fractures often become immobile and no longer able to live independently.  Worse, their risk of death within 3 years goes WAY up.  The people who get bad osteoporosis have bones all over their body break and hurt.  So avoiding these horrible outcomes is really, really important!

A.  We already know that superslow strength training for all of your body but particularly for your legs will prevent this or come very close. 

Superslow strength training was in fact developed originally about 60 years ago to see if people over 65 with osteopenia might have it reversed by such exercise.  (Osteopenia is low bone density and is often the early stage of osteoporosis a major cause of bone fractures in older people.) It was and superslow strength training was found to work to do that.

Doing superslow strength training well at least twice a week with two days rest between sessions also has massive other health benefits including keeping you mobile as you get older, looking better, and avoiding or permanently losing excess fat.  You also become a LOT stronger.

B.  But there are also some other important things to do or not do to avoid bone fractures and osteoporosis.

Here’s a fast list.  (The big new way to cut fractures by 70 % too is after this list.)

1.  People have stronger bones if they take 4oo mg a day of magnesium and 3,000 iu a day of vitamin D3.  If they take acid reflux drugs, it works better if they take 800 mg a day of magnesium and 5,000 iu a day of vitamin D3.  Just the magnesium was shown to cut fractures caused by acid reflux drugs by 75%.  (I take the drugs and the magnesium and vitamin D3 and got tested.  I do take enough to prevent this fracture cause according to the two tests.)

2.  Drinking soft drinks both regular and diet feeds you a regular intake of phosphoric acid.  It’s part of what gives them the slightly sparkly and tingly mouthfeel.  But there is a reason to NOT drink them every day or ever!  Every single time you drink one the phosphoric acid removes tooth enamel and bone strength by causing their calcium to be dissolved and removed from your teeth and all your bones.

If you stop drinking soft drinks, you also save money, become less fat, and become far less likely to get or keep type 2 diabetes.

But the big message here is if you do not want osteoporosis or bone fractures, drink ice water, water that has been carbonated only, and for caffeine green tea, tea, and coffee and never drink any soft drinks.

3.  The minerals zinc and boron also help keep your bones strong.  Don’t take more than 45 mg a day total of zinc and be sure you get 2 or 3 mg of copper to balance it unless your body won’t process it.  3 mg a day of boron also helps keep you alert and prevent sex linked cancers surprisingly well besides helping keep your bones strong.

4.  Surprisingly calcium supplementation by itself does little unless the things above are in place.  And unless you take 4  precautions, taking calcium supplements will make your blood vessels calcify instead of your bones.  This boosts heart attack risks.

a)  Eat dairy foods, nuts, beans and lentils, and green vegetables high in calcium.  Calcium from your food enters the blood stream slowly and is most available to your bones.  For many people this is better than the supplements.

b) Limit your supplement to 15o to 250 mg of calcium once or perhaps twice a day;

c) Take calcium supplements ONLY after meals so it enters your blood slowly; and do that only once or twice a day not more.

d) Only take calcium if you also take vitamin K2.  5,000 mcg a day is best.  It’s been found that this supplement sends blood calcium to your bones and NOT your blood vessels.  It’s a good idea to help have strong bones and flexible blood vessels regardless of the other bone strengthening things you do.  K2 is one of the most valuable but little known supplements.

5.  Consider NOT taking the drugs for thinning bones.  The drugs cause acid reflux and the drugs for that tend to cause the problem.  But worst of all, the drugs for thinning bones make your bones harder but NOT less likely to fracture because it tends to stop the normal process of producing fracture free strong bones and promotes dense but brittle bones that fracture MORE easily instead.

C.  The big news is that a study found that people prone to fractures tend to be deficient in vitamin B12.  When such people were given 1,000 mcg or more of the natural and more expensive methyl form of vitamin B12 in sublingual supplements that bypass digestive issues to go directly into your blood, they had 70% fewer fractures than the similar group that did not do so.

THAT is a huge difference!

Also note that people who take acid reflux drugs or the Metformin drug that is in many ways the best drug for high blood sugar and type 2 diabetes have their vitamin B12 depleted.  Vegan vegetarians are often deficient in vitamin B12 if they don’t supplement with this form of it.  And, most people over 75 or who take acid reflux drugs have too little stomach acid to digest B12 from food or a B12 supplement they swallow.

So, the first set of things helps you get and keep strong bones that are less likely to fracture.

And the vitamin B12 dramatically adds to your fracture protection after that!  

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Monday, January 20, 2014

My monthly fatloss progress report....

Today's Post:  Monday, 1-20-2014

This report is better!  My food changes didn't cause any weight or fat loss.  But I lost 1/4 pound and my waist remained the same

 Now I’m at 3 and a quarter pounds over my goal weight.  And most of the 10 pounds I gained since I was 6 and a half pounds under my goal weight has been fat.  I can tell when I look in the mirror.  

So I do still  need to add muscle and reduce fat enough to remove 12 to 20 pounds of fat.

The best news is on the added muscle side.  But my recent food changes worked enough I gained no more weight.

More progress on the added muscle side is beginning to happen!  And, I have a plan to make more progress on the eating to lose fat side.

(I'll cover my food upgrade plan after my good news on exercise.)

1.  My exercise program  is finally getting better!  I used the wrist weights to begin to force progress at home on my dumbbell exercises and it is working  so far.  I've been able to work enough harder to make my muscles feel better exercised.  

(Now I can jump from one dumbbell weight to 2 pounds more and once I've mastered that, I can then go to 5 pounds heavier and then add the 3 pound wrist weight etc.  I found the 5 pound jump was too big to be able to use to force progress. 

And, I've made enough progress on the chest press machine at my once a week The Perfect workout to do 9 superslow pushups at home up from 6 or 7.

My at home calf raises on one let at a time with 35 pounds have gradually gone from just barely 5 to close to 8 full reps on each leg.

(I can go to 9 and then back to nine with the 2 lb wrist weight

So, the likely results I’m headed for are more promising!  

After being stuck at 25 pound weights on my key dumbbell exercises for years, I'm now at 32 pounds on arms and about to go to 37 pounds on calves.   Once I get to 52 pounds for arms and 62 pounds for calves and get that much stronger at my machine exercises at The Perfect Workout, I'll add at least 5 pounds of muscle.  And, I've read that will reduce my fat by 15 pounds.  That would begin to do it as I'd lose 10 pounds on the scale.  And, my waist will be at least an inch or two smaller.
Even adding 1 & a half pounds of muscle will lose 4 & a half pounds of fat and 3 pounds on the scale.  That will cut my waist by half  an inch to an inch I think.

In addition, my shoulder exercises have worked well enough that my left shoulder is beginning to heal and my right shoulder is beginning to heal too.  Plus, I'm now finally beginning to make progress on my jump rope without making my shoulders worse.

I've still not had time to add the yoga sessions I'd hoped.  But I did at least make a starting effort.  

2.  My food results and upgrade plan:

b)  Last month I followed Dr Perlmutter's advice and cut out  90 % of one fructose source and half of another.   I was mildly disappointed because I lost no weight.  But I did add a few grams a week of plant  protein and ate well volume wise AND I did 
NOT gain weight.

My next effort will be to replace one of my oatmeal breakfast's a week with Wakame seaweed and shrimp and for 3 weeks a month AND do it the whole week one week a month.  The idea is to eat less milk and the low glycemic grain without cutting protein or fiber too much.  

My hope is that this will remove the 3 pounds I am over my goal weight without losing any muscle or muscle gain.

That one will have to wait for a bit on upgrading my income as it will cost a good bit more a month than what I'm eating now does.

But, this week, I will price each of  the shrimp and the Wakame to see exactly how much.

The combination I think will finally begin to do the job!   

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