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4 Substances That Slow The Aging Process

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Anti-aging is a large field in medicine.  Most of the diseases that human beings suffer from significantly increase as we age.  The theory is that if we can slow down the aging process we can live longer, more disease free lives.

Individual cells can live forever in the laboratory.  It’s been done.  This is a fascinating fact .  However, human beings are multicellular organisms and each cell does not live in isolation.  Further, cells that live forever in the laboratory live in ideal conditions.  They are not exposed to chemicals, hormones or undergo the same physical stresses that we do on a day to day basis.  But, the fact remains – a biological system, given the best possible scenario, can live forever.  So what if there were things we could do to slow the aging process?  We may not be able to live forever, but could we significantly increase our life spans?  The answer is yes.  There are several known substances that have a positive effect on the aging process that are available to everyone in supplement form.

Aging

Aging is a genetic process and a free radical induced process.  First, our genes are important.  It is helpful if Mom and Dad lived to be 100, but it is not essential.  Our DNA is stored in each cell in the nucleus.  Within this nucleus are the chromosomes that contain all of the DNA we were born with.  We get 23 chromosomes from each of our parents for a total of 46.  Every single cell in the body has an identical copy of these genes.  Each chromosome is shaped roughly like an X.  The ends of these chromosomes are called telomeres.  These telomeres are interesting in that they shrink as we age.  There are known substances that slow the shortening of these telomeres and therefore slow the aging process.

Free radical damage is also another way that people age.  Free radicals are potent molecules that bounce around in our bodies and break down our cells.  The theory is that the human body can only repair so much and this damage begins to accumulate over time causing us to age.  Now, it would make sense if we just avoided these free radicals wouldn’t it?  It would if we could.  Some of the most potent free radicals are nitrogen and oxygen which happen to make up 78% and 21% of the air we breath respectively.  Our diets are designed to help us fight this battle because we can consume antioxidants.  This class of nutrients fights free radical damage but it cannot win the war.  There are, however, compounds that are known to be powerful free radical scavengers and should be consumed on a more regular basis to slow the aging process.

Supplements That Slow Aging

Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a magnificent substance.  It is found in many things, but mainly in the skins of grapes.  It is also why red wine (in moderation) seems to have such great health benefits.  Resveratrol activates something called sirtuins.  Sirtuins are genes (known as SIRT1 though SIRT8) that function to repair breaks in our DNA strands that occur as we age.  These sirtuins also play a key role in maintaining the length of the telomeres discussed earlier.  Sirtuins also act to regulate inflammation in the body by inhibiting something called NF-KappaB.  This is a potent inflammatory enzyme that is responsible for many disease processes in human beings.  Resveratrol also decreases the production of adhesion molecules that attract inflammatory cells to our vessel walls and therefore inhibits atherosclerosis.  These adhesion molecules also promote the spread of cancer.  Taking resveratrol is easy but be sure when you buy a supplement it is of high quality and contains trans-resveratrol.  All other forms are useless to take.

Pterostilbene

This substance is very similar to resveratrol but it is found in blueberries.  It works with resveratrol in multiple complimentary mechanisms to limit NF-KappaB.  This is not available in supplement form, but you can certainly get it from eating as many blueberries as you’d like!

Quercetin

This magnificent substance protects against such diseases as asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis.  It has also been shown to help modulate blood sugar levels in diabetics and non-diabetics.  Blood sugar control is extremely important for longevity.  Quercetin acts by also inhibiting NF-KappaB.  This is also available in supplement form and is sometimes paired into one supplement with resveratrol.

Grape Seed Extract

This helps to regulate pro-inflammatory cytokine activity in fat cells.  It helps combat obesity and type II diabetes.  It also triggers genes for glucose uptake.  This assists cells in the absorption and removal of glucose from circulation.  This substance is very readily available in supplement form.

The research into longevity is quite interesting and there are many substances that can slow the aging process, not just the ones above.  Of course, you must also watch your diet and exercise to get all of the wonderful benefits that the above provide.  If you do those things and take these life lengthening substances you will live and longer and happier life.

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Federal Subsidies for Soda?

I recently read a great editorial blog from the Huffington Post.  It made the great argument that soda in this country is being subsidized by the government.  It’s not being subsidized in the traditional way that, say, corn is, but that’s semantics.  The way it is being subsidized is by allowing people to use the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (formally known as food stamps) to buy sugary soda with their money provided by tax payers.  The government doesn’t allow SNAP to be used to buy alcohol or tobacco so why would it let people buy a product that is just as bad for your health as those two are?  Below is the entire blog.  It’s written by Michael F. Jacobson Ph.D., Executive Director, Center for Science in the Public Interest.  Let me know what you think.

Blog Entry

Forty-three million Americans depend on the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, to help provide the foods they need for good health. SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps) is a critically important part of the government’s safety net and has become even more vital to low-income families since the economic downturn.

The program distributes benefits via an Electronic Benefits Card that can be swiped at participating supermarkets and, increasingly, farmer’s markets. But the benefits cannot be used to purchase tobacco, alcoholic beverages, supplement pills, hot prepared foods, and non-food items. For those products, SNAP recipients must use their own money.

Unfortunately, huge amounts of SNAP dollars are used to purchase carbonated soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages. Already among the least expensive foods in the supermarket, these drinks are nutritionally worthless and promote obesity, diabetes and other diseases that have a disproportionate impact on low-income Americans.

One supermarket executive shared with me confidentially that carbonated soft drinks accounted for 6.2 percent of the grocery bills of SNAP recipients. Considering that recipients will spend $65 billion of SNAP benefits on groceries in 2010, that works out to around $4 billion taxpayer dollars that go toward the purchase of soda pop. And that sum doesn’t include non-carbonated soft drinks, which are just as nutritionally poor, such as Gatorade, fruit-flavored drinks with little or no juice, and so on.

Though excluding sugar-sweetened beverages from SNAP would be controversial, setting nutrition standards for government food programs is hardly new. The school lunch and breakfast programs administered by USDA comply with strict nutrition standards that exclude soda and junk food, as does the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, which is limited to foods that have specific health benefits for pregnant and breastfeeding women and young children.

The federal government should be doing everything it can to reduce soda consumption, not encouraging it. In fact, the government’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee bluntly stated, “avoid sugar-sweetened beverages.” There would be stiff opposition to eliminating soda from SNAP from several quarters, and the soft drink industry would certainly pull out all the stops. That’s what happened when the idea of a penny-per-ounce excise tax on soda was floated in Congress and in the New York State legislature. And Coca-Cola in particular has a long track record of using its “philanthropy” as a way of buying new friends and silencing critics.

A less controversial way to use the SNAP program to promote healthier diets would be to provide recipients with a financial incentive to purchase fruits, vegetables and whole grains. One easy way would be to provide a credit of say, 30 extra cents, for every dollar spent on healthy foods.

The SNAP program also funds a good chunk of the nutrition education that goes on in the United States, in the form of nearly $400 million in matching grants for state and local governments. But incredibly, during the Bush administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture ruled that SNAP education funds could NOT be spent to mount community-wide campaigns to discourage the consumption of specific foods, such as soda, and the Obama administration has retained that policy. As a result, health officials in the city of California, Maine, Wyoming, and San Francisco have been effectively gagged when they’ve tried to run campaigns about the health effects of soft drink consumption. We’ve called on the administration to reverse this gag rule, and let SNAP-Ed funds be spent in this most-cost-effective way. (New York City has been running an ad campaign that should be emulated all over the country.)

I suspect that most people would agree that it makes sense not to allow federal nutrition assistance funds to purchase Budweiser and Marlboros, and reasonable people could disagree on where exactly to draw the line. But Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and other soft drinks make no positive contribution to the diet, promote expensive and debilitating diseases, and make our already stark health disparities worse. I would draw the line at soda. This is a product–and an industry–that needs to be taxed, not subsidized.

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Pills, pills, pills…

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Welcome back!  We’ve been away for a while from the blog with the Labor Day holiday but we’re back with startling new information about the amount of prescription drugs Americans take.

In my opinion, prescription medicines are the most overly used consumer product available in this country.  Many times they are used for conditions that are incredibly responsive to dietary changes, exercise and supplement programs.  Examples of these conditions includes type II diabetes, high cholesterol, depression and asthma.  These also happen to be some of the biggest money makers for the drug companies.

New research points out just how drugged we are as a society.  Over the last 10 years, the percentage of Americans who took at least one prescription drug in the past month increased from 44% to 48%, says a federal government study.  That’s right.  Almost half of the people in the United States reported taking at least one prescription drug in the last month.  Half! That means that almost 150 million people used a pharmaceutical product to deal with a health condition.

Use of two or more drugs increased from 25% to 31%, and the use of five or more drugs increased from 6% to 11%, according to the analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

The numbers for people over 60 are even more frightening.  The study found that 90% of adults 60 years old or older used at least one prescription drug in the last month. More than 76% used two or more prescription drugs and 37% used five or more.

One in five children used at least one prescription drug in the last month as well.

These numbers are astounding. Big Pharma would have you believe they are helping people be healthy by having them take their drugs.  The truth is, however, someone is not truly healthy unless they aren’t taking any drugs.  These drugs are toxic and have serious side effects.  While some drugs are necessary and allow people to live longer lives, the vast majority are over prescribed and unnecessary.

Not surprisingly, spending for prescription medications has sky rocketed.  Since 1999, spending has more than doubled.    In 2008, spending in the US for medications topped $234.1 billion.  Access to health insurance increased the risk (yes, risk) of taking a prescription medication.  While I think it’s noble to try and get everyone fair access to health insurance, it is not going to make us healthier.  It will only guarantee that more people take more medication.

These numbers are disturbing but the trend is going to continue as long as people continue to insist that drugs are the only way to treat disease and people continue to disregard their responsibility for their health.

The research is clear.  One of the largest problems with our health care system is the cost.  The research is also clear that one of the largest contributors to that cost is the dangerous side effects and interactions from drugs that were taken as prescribed.  If half of all Americans are taking prescription medication from one month to the next and medications that are taken properly significantly increase health costs in this country, shouldn’t we be trying to get Americans off prescription medication?

In order to make health care more affordable we need to get people to be healthier.  That includes getting them to exercise, watch their diet and take supplements that have shown to be effective with very low (if any) side effect.  It does not include getting more people on more drugs.  To me this is not a hard concept.  The research reflects what I am saying.  It just needs to be implemented.

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Great Ways To Boost Your Metabolism And Lose Weight

Below is an article I found on the USA Today website.  I was surprised when I read it because I usually do not agree with much that mainstream media says about health.  In this article they found some forward thinking, cutting edge people who had some great ideas!  Check it out.  (My comments are in bold within the article.)

USA Today Article

By Maura Kelly, Fitness magazine
Last winter I put on a few extra pounds. No biggie — I do it every year. The weight usually comes off in the spring once I stop chowing down on pasta and bread and shift my outdoor running program into high gear. But this year the scale refused to budge. At all.

“Maybe your metabolism is slowing,” a friend suggested. She had a point; I was in my 30s, after all, which is when scientists say the ebb usually starts. Yikes! How could I rev it back up and drop the flab? Here’s what I learned to turn up the burn — and how you can do it too.

The M factor

Metabolism sounds mysterious and complicated, but it’s actually pretty simple: It’s the amount of energy (aka calories) our bodies need daily. About 70% of those calories are used for basic functions, such as breathing and blood circulation, says Rochelle Goldsmith, director of the Exercise Physiology Lab at Columbia University Medical Center. An additional 20% is fuel for physical activity, including working out, fidgeting, walking and even holding our bodies upright while standing. The remaining 10% helps us digest what we eat (it’s true; eating burns calories!). The trouble begins when you consume more calories than your body needs to do these things: That’s when you pack on the pounds.

Dr. Court’s Comment: While it is true that consuming a significant amount more calories than you burn will cause weight gain, it isn’t the whole story.  Managing hormones like cortisol and insulin are hugely important.  I have many patients that go on ultra low calorie diets and don’t lose a single pound until they actually gain control on their hormones.  Remember, eating food is a hormonal process and you need to treat it that way!  The best way to control those hormones is to eat every 2-3 hours and keep hormone stimulating foods like simple carbohydrates out of the diet.

You can partly thank your parents for the speed of your metabolism. Genes contribute to the levels of appetite-control hormones we have floating around in our bodies, Goldsmith explains. “Some people are genetically programmed to be active; they’re naturally restless and use more energy,” she says. Those are the lucky high-metabolism types.

Gender also plays a role. “The average man’s metabolism is about 10 (percent) to 15% higher than a woman’s,” Goldsmith notes. That’s mainly because men have more muscle mass than women do, which means they burn more calories. “Muscle does the work to help you move, while fat just sits there,” says John Porcari, a Fitness advisory board member and director of the clinical exercise physiology program at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Not only that, but women’s bodies are designed to hold on to body fat in case of pregnancy. Talk about unfair.

The good news is, you can make your metabolism faster, experts say, despite genetics and gender. These are the 10 simple secrets to boosting it big-time.

1. Exercise more often.

Working out is the No. 1 way to keep your furnace cranking. The more lean muscle you have, the more calories you burn all day. That’s because muscle uses energy even when you’re resting. Exercise enough and you can help prevent the natural metabolic slowdown that can begin as early as your late 20s, according to Goldsmith.

Your amp-it-up game plan: five workouts a week. “Do three days of aerobic activity and two days of weight lifting,” advises Shawn Talbott, an exercise physiologist, a nutritional biochemist and the executive producer of Killer at Large, a documentary about the U.S. obesity epidemic.

Dr Court’s Comments: Exercise more? Yes.  Long aerobic sessions?  No.  If you work out 3-4 times per week and each session has weight training and cardio in it that will do the trick.  The cardio should be interval training (discussed later) and should be full body exercise.  It should also be intense but short.  The intensity allows it to be short and have the same effect as a much longer cardiovascular workout.  By short I mean 4-12 minutes depending on your fitness level.

2. Kick up your cardio.

Aerobic intervals will help you maximize your burn, doubling the number of calories you torch during a workout, studies show. Intervals also keep your metabolic rate higher than a steady-pace routine does for as long as an hour after you stop exercising, according to Michele Olson, a Fitness advisory board member and professor of exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama. That means you could blast as many as 65 additional calories after your sweat session. The ideal metabolism-boosting interval routine is to “go hard for a couple of minutes, then take it down to an easier pace for a minute or two, and keep alternating like that throughout your workout,” Talbott says.

Just pick your cardio carefully. Aim for exercises that require your body to work its hardest by using a lot of muscle groups, Talbott says. That means running is better than cycling. Or try a cardio circuit. “Do a variety of activities — like running stadium stairs, jumping rope and squat thrusts — for two minutes each, aiming for a total of 10 minutes,” Olson says. “That will really rock your metabolism.”

3. Put some muscle behind it.

Too many women steer clear of weight machines, fearing that they’ll bulk up. Or they work only their legs and skip their arms. Don’t make this mistake. A head-to-toe strength routine will turbocharge your calorie-blasting quotient. Add five pounds of muscle to your body and you can zap as many as 600 calories an hour during your workout, Olson says. Be sure to choose a weight-lifting routine that targets your core, legs, arms, chest and shoulders; challenging numerous muscles will help your body function like a calorie-burning machine, Goldsmith says.

Dr. Court’s Comments: Yes, yes, yes.  You must train your muscles.  It is the single best way to increase metabolism.  Yes, if you train for a marathon you will lose weight because that much aerobic activity takes a ton of energy, but the minute you stop training you will start to put weight back on because you did nothing to increase your lean muscle mass.  I can’t say it enough – you must train your muscles.

4. Don’t skip meals.

We know you’re superbusy, but make sure you grab lunch. “Simply chewing, digesting and absorbing food kicks your metabolism into gear,” says Jim White, a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

“The more frequently you eat, the more often it revs up.” Conversely, missing a meal, or going too long between meals, brings your metabolism to a crawl. “Your body switches into starvation mode and your system slows down to conserve energy,” White explains. Keep your engine humming by having three healthy meals of 300 to 400 calories and two snacks of 200 to 300 calories every day, he advises.

Dr. Court’s Comments: This goes back to controlling the hormones associated with your metabolism.  If you eat more frequently you will have better control of those important hormones.  If your activity level is high the caloric suggestions above are too low so be sure to find out exactly how much you need from a trained professional.

5. Fill up on smart foods.

Start by serving yourself protein at every sitting, says Dr. Darwin Deen, medical professor in the department of community health and social medicine at City College of New York and a co-author of Nutrition for Life. Not only does your body need it to help build lean muscle mass, but protein also takes more calories to digest. To get your fix, have low-fat yogurt at breakfast, chicken in your salad at lunch and salmon for dinner. Between meals, snack on protein-rich walnuts. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help promote weight loss by increasing your feelings of fullness, according to a recent study in the journal Appetite.

While you’re at it, eat more foods that slowly release the sugar you need for sustained energy, like high-fiber fruits and veggies and whole-grain breads and pastas. Munch a food high in fiber three hours before your workout and you’ll also burn extra fat, a study at the University of Nottingham in England found.

Sipping java can also help. “Caffeine stimulates the production of adrenaline, which speeds up the metabolism,” White says. Research shows that caffeine can significantly accelerate your burn. Just limit yourself to no more than two cups a day; too much caffeine can overtax your system, resulting, ironically, in fatigue.

Dr. Court’s Comments: I agree with most of the above except for the low fat and bread/pasta recommendation.  Keep your diet focused on high quality fats, proteins and lower on the carbohydrate side.  That will be the best way to control your hormones.

6. Eat breakfast.

It will switch your metabolism from idle to high speed. That’s because your level of cortisol, a hormone that helps you use calories to build muscle, is highest just before you get up in the morning. When you eat an a.m. meal, your body is primed to turn those calories into muscle pronto — the only time during the day this happens. Take advantage of the natural torching process by having a healthy breakfast of scrambled eggs, low-fat turkey bacon and a piece of whole-grain toast.

Dr. Court’s Comments: Again this is important to regulate hormone levels so you can efficiently store your food for energy.  Don’t focus on the low fat/grain stuff.  Focus on my suggestions from above.

7. Get off your butt.

Sitting too much — at the computer at work, at home in front of the TV — slows your metabolism, even if you’re exercising regularly. An easy fix is to stretch, stroll and fidget throughout the day. That’s what scientists call NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis, and it can boost your burn and help you drop weight, says Dr. James Levine, professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and author of Move a Little, Lose a Lot.

The proof: In a study of lean volunteers who were fed extra calories, those who paced frequently, for example, maintained their weight, while the people who did no additional walking got chubbier. If you take advantage of every opportunity to walk and climb stairs, it can make a big difference. “A woman who needs to lose weight would have to burn about 190 to 200 extra calories a day to lose 10% of her body weight, which you can do by increasing your overall activity level,” Goldsmith says. “Try striding around your house or office when you’re on the phone, standing up at your desk whenever you can and walking to your co-worker’s cube instead of e-mailing her.”

8. Go to bed earlier.

Deprive yourself of sleep and your body starts to respond as if it were under siege. “When you get two hours less shut-eye than you normally do, your system becomes stressed and produces about 50% more cortisol,” Talbott says. “That in turn triggers your appetite.”

At the same time, lack of zzz’s throws the body’s hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin out of whack, making you more likely to overeat. Skimp on pillow time for too long and you could be facing a serious weight problem, says Michael Breus, author of Good Night: The Sleep Doctor’s 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health. In a 16-year study of sleep-deprived women published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers found that those who slept seven to eight hours a night had the lowest risk for major weight gain, while women who got six hours a night were 12% more likely to pile on a significant number of pounds, and those who logged five hours or less were 32% more likely to gain weight.

Dr. Court’s Comments: Hormones, hormones, hormones.  I’ve stressed it enough in my comments above, but I’m glad they touched on it here.

9. Schedule a nighttime workout.

Do a 20- to 30-minute moderate-intensity cardio routine before you hit the hay to keep your metabolism humming all night, Porcari says. The average woman’s metabolic rate naturally decreases by about 15% while she sleeps, but an end-of-day sweat session will make the drop closer to 5%, he explains. So take the dog for an evening walk or go for a bike ride with your family after dinner. And don’t worry that the activity will keep you awake: As long as you exercise at least two and a half hours before lights out, you should be able to drift off with no problem, Breus says.

10. Check your meds.

Some of the most dramatic metabolic dips occur when women start taking birth control pills and widely prescribed antidepressants known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. “These drugs commonly slow the metabolism because they affect the functioning of the thyroid gland, which regulates how our bodies use energy,” says Dr. Kent Holtorf, a thyroidologist and the founder of the National Academy of Hypothyroidism. Depo-Provera, a contraceptive that’s injected every three months, seems to cause the most weight gain. “It’s high in the hormone progestin, which stimulates insulin secretion, leading to increased appetite and a lowered metabolism,” Holtorf explains. “It also signals the body to store fat.” (Oral contraceptives, which contain less progestin, aren’t as problematic.) If you’ve recently started taking any new medication and the scale is inching upward, ask your doc if there’s an alternative treatment that is less likely to cause weight gain.

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See the amazing statistics on sugar consumption in the U.S.

A new study recently published in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association has concluded that sugar intake significantly contributes to ill-health and specifically increases cholesterol levels.

Researchers at Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta examined the added sugar intake and blood fat levels in more than 6,100 adults.

Added sugars included table sugar, brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses, brown rice syrup, agave syrup and other caloric sweeteners in prepared and processed foods — for instance, in soft drinks, iced tea, candy, pastries, cookies and canned fruits. Not included: the sugars in fruit, 100% juice and other whole foods.

  • Participants consumed an average of 21.4 teaspoons of added sugars a day, or more than 320 calories a day from these sources.
  • About 16% of participants’ total daily caloric intake was from added sugars. That compares with 11% in 1977-78.
  • People with the higher intakes of added sugars were more likely to have lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and higher levels of triglycerides (blood fats).

The added sugar of common foods is astonishing.

These statistics are truly amazing.  Most people are completely unaware of the amount of sugar in their diets.  Remember, this is considered “added” sugar.  This does not take into account the naturally occurring sugar in fruits, fruit juices and other whole foods as mentioned above.

While fruits are good for you and I do recommend that people consume them, I never recommend that people consume fruit juices.  That is a huge source of sugar for most people and unfortunately they consider sitting down and drinking a glass of orange juice as healthy.  There are worse things you could do, but there are also better things you could do for your health (like not drink it).

Consider that there is about as much sugar in a glass of OJ as there is in a soda.  Fruit is different than fruit juice.  Human beings we were designed to sit down and have one apple or one orange.  We were never intended to sit down and eat 3 or 4 whole apples or oranges – the amount of fruit that it would take to get the sugar content of one glass of fruit juice.

Senior author Miriam Vos, an assistant professor at Emory say, “People have been so focused on fat that we haven’t been focused on sugar, and it’s gotten away from us. This data show we can’t let either one or the other get too high.”  I don’t agree.  The statement would read correctly if it said that traditional medicine has been so focused on fat that they forgot to look at sugar.  Many functionally trained physicians including chiropractors, naturopaths and certified clinical nutritionists have been saying sugar is a huge culprit for years.

I see it routinely in my practice.  People come to me with high cholesterol, weight issues, diabetes, high blood pressure and other health issues and the first thing I do is cut out the sugar and carbohydrates.  They continue to eat healthy fats and proteins.  They lose weight, improve cholesterol profiles, reduce their blood pressure and their diabetes disappears.  It is simple physiology.

It would make sense that fat makes you fat, but like most things in medicine the obvious is often times not the answer.  This holds true in this instance as well.  People need to take responsibility and be aware of just how much carbohydrate they are putting into their bodies.  After all, carbohydrates, not just simple sugars are contributing to this problem.

The American Heart Association is recommending that women get no more than 6.5 teaspoons of added sugar per day and men get no more than 9.5 teaspoons per day.  While I still view this is high (because people often have other sources of naturally occurring sugar in their diet) it’s a good start.  Remember, the average participant in the study consumed a whopping 21.4 teaspoons of added sugars a day!  That is astronomical.  Imagine sitting down at breakfast, lunch and dinner and shoveling in 7 teaspoons of sugar at each meal.  You probably wouldn’t do that because you’d view it as terribly unhealthy yet the average person does it every day without even knowing it!

Sugar consumption in this country is out of control and as a person that works in the health field I have been well aware of it.  Unfortunately, I think traditional medicine will continue to teach the low fat mantra that has led so many to be so sick in this country.  The numbers are finally there.  I can only hope people will take this health threat seriously and something will be done about the amount of added sugar that is in our diets.

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Taking Responsibility for your Health

The debate over health care will continue to rage.  The fact that health care reform has passed will not end the debate.  Many Americans, myself included, believe that people who make poor decisions for their overall health should pay more for their health care.  If you choose to eat one meal per day at McDonald’s, don’t expect me to pay for your health care. 

The notion that providing more people with insurance will reduce health costs in this country is a ridiculous one. The problem of sky rocketing health care costs is not one of lack of insurance.  It is there because too many people make the wrong decisions about how to live their lives.  They choose not to eat healthy, not to exercise and not to supplement their diets with missing nutrients.  Those people we will call “omitters.” They omit something from their life (like healthy food and exercise) that causes them to be less healthy.  Then there are people who actually contribute to their own demise.  They smoke or drink alcohol excessively for example.  Those people we will call “destructors.”  There are many people that fit into these categories and most people are a combination of omitters and destructors.

I can already hear the complaints while some of you are reading this.  You are saying, “But it is much more complicated than that…!”  There are other factors that play into it including socioeconomic status, income level, education level, etc.  While I believe that to be true, I only believe it to a certain point.  The vast majority of people, regardless of income level know that smoking is bad for you, yet they continue to smoke.  The vast majority of people know that excessive alcohol consumption is bad for you.  The vast majority of people know that exercise is good for you.  I don’t care what income level people have or what education level people have, these are known facts that most choose to ignore.

A perfect example

I was giving a lecture to a large group of people.  It was about diet and health and how to improve your own health with simple diet and exercise.  After the lecture a woman came up to me and told me how much she enjoyed the lecture and that she’d learned a lot.  She also said that she’d love to come in a see me as a patient, but couldn’t possibly afford it.  All of her money was accounted for and there was no extra room in the budget.  As I spoke with her I noticed that she smoked.  I asked her about it and asked how many packs per day she was smoking.  She told me about a pack.  She also told me that her husband smoked about a pack and a half per day.  I told her that I would certainly recommend that she and her husband stop smoking and if she did that there would be more than enough money in the budget to cover my services.  She agreed, but said “her husband” would be unwilling to stop leaving her without enough to cover my services.  This was a classic example of not taking responsibility for her own health.  She did not want to quit smoking, in my opinion, and was sure her husband would not either.  If she was truly concerned about her health and wanted expert guidance she would have quit and saved the money and been able to afford my services to help her to better health.  I have broken down just how much they would have saved if they’d quit smoking.  It is staggering.

Depending on your location, a pack of cigarettes costs between $4.50 and $5.  Let’s take the middle and use $4.75 to calculate our numbers.

The wife’s yearly costs in cigarettes = $1733.75

The husband’s yearly cost in cigarettes = $2600.63

TOTAL COST is $4334.38 per year!

They would save more than $360 per month if they both quit smoking.

Unfortunately, this woman never came in as a patient in my office.  It’s too bad because we could have done wonders in terms of improving her health and overall quality of life.  She is a classic destructor.  She added something into her life that will shorten her lifespan and decrease its overall quality.

Another reason people claim they can’t stay healthy is because they can’t afford a membership to a gym.  That’s a very poor excuse.  You don’t need to go to a gym to exercise.  If you have access to the outside, you can exercise.  Walk, run, skip, do anything.  Just be active.  There are also unlimited amounts of body weight exercises that one can do in their home.  Simple examples include push-ups, lunges, jumping jacks and core training.  These are all easily done inside with no equipment.

So, if you’re reading this and you aren’t healthy, which one are you – an omitter or destructor?  Are you a little of both?  The first step is recognizing that you are doing something incorrect in your lifestyle that is possibly causing you to be unhealthy.  You may say that it only affects you, but it doesn’t.  Over time it causes a drain on funds in the health care industry and forces everyone else to pay more in taxes.  If everyone stayed active and ate right, health care costs in this country would plummet and we wouldn’t need to argue about it any longer.  Will this prevent every disease?  No.  Will it go a long way?  Absolutely.

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More Terrible Advice Doled out from the ‘Experts’

My receptionist recently read a piece in our local newspaper and brought it to the office for me to see.  I was floored.  It was in ‘Annie’s Mailbox.’  This is an advice column syndicated in many newspapers throughout the country and can be found on the web.  It is a descendant of the Ann Landers’ column from years ago.  This is truly supposed to be an advice column.  I mean, people actually write them and ask for their advice!  I tend to take these columns with a large grain of salt because the people answering them are often not qualified to answer the questions being asked, nor are they qualified to sort through the research, should they do any, while gathering information to supposedly “inform” us.  Below is the text from that article in which a grandmother is concerned for her grandchildren because they eat very poorly.  I have highlighted some of more interesting points.

Dear Annie: My son and his wife have been married 12 years and have two beautiful daughters. But I am terribly concerned about their eating habits. This is doubly difficult, as my daughter-in-law is the boss in this family and thinks she knows everything. My son is no better. He never ate properly when he lived at home, even though we tried. I hoped he would marry someone with better common sense about food.

I have never said anything outright, but I have often subtly tried to let them know how I feel. They eat nothing but pasta. They cook fresh vegetables, but don’t insist that the kids eat them. At Christmas, the 6-year-old wasn’t allowed to have a second dinner roll because it wouldn’t leave room for dessert. The 2-year-old ate olives, pickles and some pie, but wouldn’t touch the ham, mashed potatoes with gravy, or carrot sticks.

Our little grandchildren are often sick and on antibiotics. I can’t count the number of times they have had viruses, colds and ear infections. I don’t even want to go to their home because it upsets me so. What can I do? — Worried Mother

Dear Mother: Believe it or not, your grandchildren are eating just fine. Having an extra roll or mashed potatoes with gravy is no healthier than pickles and olives and has no bearing on their colds and ear infections. A lot of adult eating disorders can be traced back to parents who turned the dinner table into a battlefield. Please trust your son and his wife to care appropriately for their children, and turn a blind eye to the food issues. You can’t win — and you could lose a great deal.

First of all, those children eat terribly if their grandmother is correct in saying all they eat is pasta and no vegetables.  That is the worst thing for humans to eat too much of.  It may not cause problems for young children who have fast metabolisms and need lots of energy to grow, but it sets up extremely poor habits for them as adults.  If they continue on that type of a diet they’ll be overweight and diabetic by the time they are in their forties.

My biggest problem with this article is the ‘advice’ that Annie gives them.  She tells this grandmother that her grandchildren are eating just fine and that what they eat has nothing to do with getting colds and ear infections!  Since when does what you eat have nothing to do with your immune system?  Maybe ‘Annie’ knows something I don’t know.  Well as it turns out ‘Annie’ is two women.  She is either Kathy Mitchell or Marcy Sugar (ironic, huh?).  Both write this column.  It is not spelled out which wrote the advice above but their backgrounds certainly don’t warrant that they should be giving anyone health advice.

Kathy Mitchell’s background is as a typist, secretary and office manager to Eppie Lederer, a.k.a Ann Landers.  Marcy Sugar started her work in the Ann Landers’ office by doing basic research and clerical tasks, then she moved into bookkeeping.  Clearly both of these women are more than qualified to give advice on what is healthy for children to eat, right?

The problem is that too many people take what they read in the newspaper as gospel and the advice that was given in this article is awful.  First of all, what you eat has everything to do with your immunity.  For example, pasta is filled with gluten.  Gluten is a very potent allergen in human beings.  Constantly bombarding a young digestive tract with gluten causes the immune system to focus on the wrong things.  It will focus on allergens rather than viruses and bacterial.  The grandmother states that her grandchildren are constantly getting sick.  If it isn’t the junky diets these kids are eating then what does ‘Annie’ attribute it to?  Are they just sick kids and there’s nothing that can be done about it?  Definitely not.

Secondly, diet is a huge part of immunity for another reason that ‘Annie’ overlooks.  If these children are not eating fruits and vegetables (as is stated in the article) they aren’t getting enough vitamins and minerals to fuel their immune systems.  Vitamin C and vitamin A are too very simple examples of nutrients that are essential for immune function.

Lastly, ‘Annie’ says this in her advice; “You can’t win – and you could lose a great deal.”  What kind of an attitude is that?  What is there to “win?”  This woman clearly wants her grandchildren (and her son and wife) to be healthier.  I understand that ‘Annie’ is saying it could cause a rift within the family and possibly ruin relationships.  But what about the fact that when people eat like this they have higher rates of cancer, diabetes and even death?  Is that not the biggest loss anyone can have?  Is ‘Annie’ suggesting just to give in and watch her family eat it’s way to an early grave?  It appears that way.

Advice columns like this have little merit and hopefully people see through them.  I fear, however, that judging by the popularity of these columns some people actually take them seriously and listen to the advice.  This advice column gives the completely wrong advice saying that those children eat just fine.  They eat the opposite of just fine.  They eat horrible diets and if they aren’t changed, those poor children are in for a lifetime of bad health.

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