Nature’s Miracle Drug

wine & grapesFor those of you who enjoy a glass or two of red wine every day, here is some more good health news.  For those who don’t imbibe, there is equally as good news in that there are several non-alcoholic sources for reaping these same benefits.  I have written about the myriad health benefits of polyphenols as an antioxidant group (Red Wine: Health BenefitsWine, Chronic Disease & Gut Bacteria?), with a specific focus on resveratrol, but have not gone into great detail with regard to the science behind the findings.  Plants produce resveratrol as natural defense against disease and threats to their survival such as excessive ultraviolet light, infections and climate changes.  Our ingestion of these compounds has proven to produce these same protective effects against chronic diseases such as :

  • Lung carcinoma
  • Prostate cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Oral epidermoid carcinoma
  • Acute myeloid and promyelocytic leukemia
  • Multiple myeloma

In addition, resveratrol has been shown to be effective in minimizing the debilitating, aggressive cancer treatment side-effects such as:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Sleep disorders
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Delirium (acute confusion)
  • Anxiety
  • Anorexia

resveratrolFinally, there are 590 separate scientific studies showing the beneficial effect of resveratrol for 342 different diseases (GreenMedInfo.com) and it is commonly referred to as a “fountain of youth” because of its broad range of antioxidant effects.  If red wine is not your preferred source for this natural, miracle drug, your alternatives include red grape skins, pomegranate, raw cacao, peanuts, and berries like raspberries and mulberries.  Here’s a short, 2-minute video from Michigan University that may help convince you to include this nutrient in your daily diet:

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Everything Is Relative

Keeping things light on Friday and hopefully bringing a smile to your face have become something I look forward to every week.  Today, there is even a glimpse into our own human nature and a lesson to be learned about our individual realities being relative and the folly in making assumptions.  Enjoy!

A Farm Kid Joins the Marines

Dear Ma and Pa,

I am well.  Hope you are.  Tell Brother Walt and Brother Elmer the Marine Corps beats working for old man Minch by a mile.  Tell them to join up quick before all of the places are filled.

I was restless at first because you get to stay in bed till nearly 6 a.m.  But I am getting so I like to sleep late.  Tell Walt and Elmer all you do before breakfast is smooth your cot, and shine some things.  No hogs to slop, feed to pitch, mash to mix, wood to split, fire to lay.  Practically nothing.

Men got to shave but it is not so bad, there’s warm water.  Breakfast is strong on trimmings like fruit juice, cereal, eggs, bacon, etc., but kind of weak on chops, potatoes, ham, steak, fried eggplant, pie and other regular food, but tell Walt and Elmer you can always sit by the two city boys that live on coffee.  Their food, plus yours, holds you until noon  when you get fed again.  It’s no wonder these city boys can’t walk much.

We go on “route marches,” which the platoon sergeant says are long walks to harden us.  If he thinks so, it’s not my place to tell him different.  A “route march” is about as far as to our mailbox at home.  Then the city guys get sore feet and we all ride back in trucks.

The sergeant is like a school teacher.  He nags a lot.  The Captain is like the school board.  Majors and Colonels just ride around and frown.  They don’t bother you none.

This next will kill Walt and Elmer with laughing.  I keep getting medals for shooting.  I don’t know why.  The bulls-eye is near as big as a chipmunk head and don’t move, and it ain’t shooting at you like the Higgett boys at home.  All you got to do is lie there all comfortable and hit it.  You don’t even load your own cartridges.  They come in boxes.

Then we have what they call hand-to-hand combat training.  You get to wrestle with them city boys.  I have to be real careful though, they break real easy.  It ain’t like fighting with that ole bull at home.  I’m about the best they got in this except for that Tug Jordan from over in Silver Lake.  I only beat him once.  He joined up the same time as me, but I’m only 5’6″ and 130 pounds and he’s 6’8″ and near 300 pounds dry.

Be sure to tell Walt and Elmer to hurry and join before other fellers get onto this setup and come stampeding in.

Your loving daughter,

Alice

Happy Friday and God bless

Think: Aspartame = Formaldehyde

aspartame (1)Sadly, here’s another example of how the FDA has let us down as a consumer “watchdog” and actually has been complicit in the food industry’s profiting at the expense of our health.  There is overwhelming scientific evidence now available demonstrating the extreme toxic effects of consuming aspartame, one of the most popular artificial sweeteners on the market.  Admittedly, I had certainly heard the mumblings about artificial sweeteners actually being worse than sugar in many ways, but I had no idea of just how toxic these chemicals are.  Here are some fast facts that should open your eyes and have you swearing to never have another diet soda or any other product containing an artificial sweetener:

  • Doubles your risk of obesity
  • Increases aggressive behavior in children
  • Worsens insulin sensitivity to a greater degree than sugar
  • Causes depression
  • Increased incidence of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and stroke
  • Contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s and cancer
  • Produces an enormous increase in tumors, particularly brain tumors

Formaldhyde-SignThe mechanism behind these nasty effects is essentially the conversion of these sweeteners to formaldehyde, which is left to roam through our bodies wreaking havoc.  Aspartame is primarily made up of two chemicals which have been scientifically modified to carry a methyl group, which provides the majority of the sweetness. Unfortunately, once in your body, this methyl group breaks off and forms methanol.   In humans, the methanol travels through your blood vessels into sensitive areas, such as your brain, that are loaded with ADH, which converts the methanol to formaldehyde.

If you’re like me and were aware of some negative issues with artificial sweeteners, I implore you to raise your level of attention to one of “clear and present danger“.  Watching the following short video will help drive home the point:

God bless

Watching “Calorie Density” Is Just Common Sense

machinebodyFollowing up on Monday’s post about paying close attention to the fuel you put into the most sophisticated machine you’ll ever own, your body, I would like to introduce you to the concept of calorie density.  This is simply the number of calories per pound of food.  Once again the math is simple; if you eat five pounds of food every day that total 12,000 calories, you’re going to look a lot different over time than someone who is equally as active, but is only getting 1,800 calories from their five pounds of daily food.

Here’s are some graphics to help you recognize the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to calorie density:

caloriedensitychart

calorie density chart

The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, in May, 2012, concluded that “there is strong and consistent evidence in adults showing that consuming a diet higher in calorie density is associated with increased body weight, while consuming a diet that is relatively low in calorie density improves weight loss and weight maintenance.”   Most importantly, they also reported that diets low in calorie density are also automatically higher in nutrient density and overall diet quality.

The great news for overweight people who just can’t seem to cut back on their intake or who are unwilling to starve themselves and be in a constant state of hunger is the research has shown that people can eat as much as they want of foods that are 300 calories per pound or less and not gain weight.  They can also consume relatively large portions of foods that are between 300 and 800 calories per pound and still lose or maintain their weight, depending on their individual activity level and metabolism.   On the other hand, intake of foods with a calorie density of 800-1800 should be limited as these can contribute to weight gain and interfere with efforts to lose weight.  While foods over 1800 cal/lb should be extremely limited as these contribute to obesity and can greatly interfere with efforts to lose weight.

There you have it, a common sense approach to losing or maintaining weigh that is effective and sustainable over time because you don’t ever have to be hungry and your body is getting the nutrition it needs for peak performance.

God bless

A Common Sense Approach To Weight Control

ferrariIt’s widely accepted that fad diets just don’t work and the Western diet, to which most people have become addicted, is nutritionally bankrupt.  Our bodies are very much like ultra sophisticated machines that require fuel to operate effectively.  The quality of that fuel, in our case food and drink, is critical in determining how well the machine will function, how long the machine will last and how many mechanical problems will manifest during its lifetime.  You wouldn’t even consider filling a brand new Ferrari with something that you found in an old oil drum sitting behind a shutdown industrial plant, even if it did smell like gasoline.  Common sense would immediately tell you that was a bad idea.  Why would you ever put crap fuel into an expensive, highly sophisticated machine when you know it will just destroy everything that machine was meant to be?  Well, you are the most sophisticated machine on this planet!  So sophisticated, in fact, that you actually have the ability to consume a broad range of fuel and appear to function acceptably, but the long-term effects of poor fuel choices will  eventually take their toll in the form of chronic disease, excess weight, and a shortened lifespan.

female athleteOnce again, using the fuel analogy, our bodies need a certain amount of nutrition to function properly.  This includes a wide range of basics like protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, fat, antioxidants, and a host of other nutrients that we need to get from what we eat and drink.  Here comes the “common sense” part; you have a choice of consuming fuel high in calories and low in nutritional density or high in nutritional density and low in calories.  The normal functioning of your sophisticated machinery actually shuts down your hunger pangs once your body is nutritionally satisfied.  If you eat food that is not nutritionally dense, your body will, in effect, tell you to keep eating until it gets what it needs, regardless of the calories you’re consuming.  What do you think the relative long-term effects would be on someone who gets all the nutrition they need on 1,800 calories a day compared to another person consuming 12,000 calories a day to get that same nutritional content?  Sadly, what you get is the current crisis we face in this country where two-thirds of the adults are overweight or obese.

The beauty in eating nutritionally dense food is that you can generally eat as much as you want and still not gain any weight.  So many people are reluctant to abandon their current eating habits because they think they’ll have to starve themselves and live in a constant state of hunger.  This myth, along with more specifics on how to implement this common sense strategy for effective weight control will be explored further in Wednesday’s post, so stay tuned.

God bless

Try Cancer, See How You Like It

cancer patientWhat?  Have I lost my mind?  Why would anyone want to try cancer?  I’ll tell you why; to make damn sure you are doing everything within your power to avoid really getting it.  There is nothing good about cancer, absolutely nothing.  Sure, you’ll hear survivors say, in retrospect, “it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I have a whole new perspective on life”.  Really?  There are a lot of different ways to get a new perspective on life and I’m sure not one of those survivors would have picked cancer as their preferred route to get there.

So how do you try cancer?  You walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, that’s how.  The anti-smoking crowd has finally figured out that the fear of death doesn’t really work as a deterrent.  As humans, our innate egocentric view promotes a deep-seated fear of our own mortality, so we just don’t think about our own death.  Campaigns built around the fear of death don’t work because the people hearing the message just aren’t wired to make the connection.  But, start to mess with the quality of that same person’s life and you have a very different outcome.  The recent TV ads showing the debilitating effects of smoking on cancer patients has been wildly successful.  It turns out the prospect of staying alive in horrendous circumstances has a much more profound effect than the prospect of dying.

Do your part in the campaign against cancer by first walking a mile in someone else’s shoes.  Specifically, go to http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/health/life-interrupted.html# and witness the Emmy-winning documentary of a young woman’s personal battle.  In doing so, you’ll get a sense for why I spend so much time writing about the things that we now know cause, prevent and cure cancer (just do a search for “cancer” at www.fit4liferbm.com).  It’s the closest thing to actually getting the diagnosis yourself and it should inspire you to make the necessary changes in your lifestyle to avoid a quality of life that just plain sucks.

God bless

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Sleep & Exercise: A Critical Combo

sleepI had an unusually active day yesterday which led to a great night’s sleep.  I’m talking about not remembering anything after my head hit the pillow and being out cold for a solid seven hours.  An early morning, 10-mile rollerblade along the coast, followed by 3 hours of surfing, then 7 hours straight of interior painting was a very different routine than slipping an hour of exercise in during an otherwise sedentary day.  It reminded me of those surfing or skiing vacations where you’re engaged in very strenuous activity for the entire day then, after dinner, going to bed is more like passing out than falling asleep.

surfingAs serendipity would have it, after thinking this morning about the relationship between exercise and a good, therapeutic sleep, I ran across the following article by Kelly Turner, which I think you’ll find interesting:

“Our bodies are designed to receive roughly six to eight hours of quality sleep per night, and skimping on those hours cannot only negatively affect your mood, energy level and alertness, it can also negatively affect your weight-loss results.

While you sleep, your body works to repair muscles that were damaged during your workouts. Exercise, especially weight lifting, puts stress on the muscles, which causes the muscle fibers to tear.

Just like when broken bones heal, muscles becomes stronger than before, which is why you see improved strength over time. (They also heal more tightly and compactly, which is why stretching is important).

Workouts are when you damage your muscles; sleep is when they heal and become stronger.

During sleep, the body releases hormones that regulate major functions. When you do not get enough sleep, the secretion of these hormones is changed.

Lack of sleep increases the production of cortisol, known as the stress hormone, which is responsible for your “fight or flight” reaction to all stressors: mental, physical and emotional.

Since it is a survival hormone, cortisol stimulates glucose production and triggers a hunger response in the brain, while at the same time signaling cells to store as much fat as possible — a double whammy for weight loss.

Lack of sleep also lowers leptin levels, which control appetite. The less leptin in your system, the more revved your appetite will become.

When the body lacks sleep, it also has a difficult time metabolizing carbohydrates. This results in high blood-sugar levels, which then increases insulin production. That increase in insulin is a signal to your body to store unused energy as fat.

This increase in appetite at the very least can test your willpower, but most often it causes you to consume excess calories. These calories, combined with your hormones telling your body to store as much fat as possible, are a recipe for weight gain.

People in a state of sleep deprivation over long periods of time not only have a higher risk of obesity, they also have increased chances of diabetes, hypertension and memory loss.

While sleep helps improve the effectiveness of your workouts, the quality of your sleep is improved by the quality of your workouts.

Working out is great for reducing stress, which can cause you to lie awake with racing thoughts. Exercise also releases dopamine, which helps relax the body. According to research, exercise can actually increase the amount of time that you spend in the deepest stages of sleep, which is when your body grows, repairs muscles and tissues, and boosts your immune system.

For best results, don’t work out within three hours of going to sleep. Exercise produces an immediate endorphin rush that can keep you awake, if too close to bedtime.”

Kelly Turner is a fitness expert and freelance writer. Contact her on Twitter: @KellyTurnerFit, and Instagram: @KellyTurner26

God bless

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