Friday, November 30, 2012

Risks of an overdose are greatly exaggerated.

      In this case, it should sound extra-familiar, because the Heart editorial is co-written by some of the same team that wrote "Cardiovascular damage resulting from chronic excessive endurance exercise" in July, and "Potential adverse cardiovascular effects from excessive endurance exercise" in June, not to mention last year's "Exercise like a hunter-gatherer: a prescription for organic physical fitness." As cardiologist Paul Thompson says in the WSJ piece, "The guys advancing the hypothesis that you can get too much exercise are manipulating the data... They have an agenda."
     Of course, I have an agenda too. I like running, and that inevitably colors my perspective. I posted my thoughts on this topic in a detail earlier this year, during one of the earlier iterations of this same debate (sparked by essentially the same article by James O'Keefe et al. in a different journal). As I said then, there's no doubt whatsoever that the health benefits of aerobic exercise eventually reach a point of diminishing returns. Where is that point? No one really knows, but my personal feeling is that if you're running more than an hour a day, you're doing it for reasons other than optimizing health. Which is fine. But crucially, that doesn't mean you're hurting your health by running an hour a day, and when people start making suggestions like that, I agree with Thompson that they're twisting the data. Two examples:
     (1) One of the major pieces of evidence the group cites is a study that was presented at a conference over the summer. The WSJ description:
In a study involving 52,600 people followed for three decades, the runners in the group had a 19% lower death rate than nonrunners, according to the Heart editorial. But among the running cohort, those who ran a lot—more than 20 to 25 miles a week—lost that mortality advantage.

Read More  

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Top 8 Most Important Foods to Buy Organic

1. Baby foods.

2. Full-fat dairy.

3. Beef.

4. Chicken.

5. Eggs.

6. Leafy greens.

7. Berries.

8. Apples.

  Read More



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Make Your Own Homemade Pain Relieving Cream

    I was somewhat surprised to discover (or NOT discover) there is very little information out there about making your own natural pain reliever lotion. I did manage to find a few things here are there and realized that all of them contained the same basic ingredients. So armed with that information I set out to make my own formulation.
What I came up with is basically what amounts to a “massage oil”.

Homemade Pain Relieving Cream
1/2 cup Coconut Oil
2 teaspoons Beeswax pellets
2 teaspoons Camphor crystals or 5 drops Camphor oil
2 teaspoons Menthol crystals or 5 drops Peppermint oil
5 drops Eucalyptus oil

(I purchased the crystals and the oils online at  I looked for them in our local health food store…but they didn’t have any of them. Course it’s a small town…so whatcha gonna do!?)

      Melt the coconut oil and beeswax together. You can do this in the microwave, in a double boiler, or what I did was set a small saucepan on the stove for a minute or two and then turned the burner off and added the coconut oil and beeswax. Stir until melted.
Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes, then add the camphor crystals or oil, the menthol crystals or oil, and the eucalyptus oil.
Put in a container and allow to cool completely. When it is completely cooled it will be a solid rather than liquid…but the minute it hits your warm skin…it will liquify again. That’s what coconut oil does, which makes it perfect for massaging onto sore muscles and joints.

      This amount of camphor, menthol and eucalyptus seems to be working for Kell…but you can increase the amount of each until you achieve the desired level of effectiveness for you without causing irritation.

     And finally, if you don’t want to mess with making your own “base” cream….here is a A Super Simple Version of Homemade Pain Relieving Cream.
Just purchase a jar of Vitamin E Cream at just about any grocery, dollar or drug store and add the oils to that, and mix. Voila! Done.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Early death link to muscle power

 Swedish experts who tracked more than a million teenage boys for 24 years found those with low muscle strength - The team behind the BMJ study believe muscle strength reflects general fitness, which would explain the link.weaker leg and arm muscles and a limp grip - were at increased risk of early death
           Experts stress the findings do not mean muscle building makes you live longer.
The effect of poor muscular fitness in those tracked was similar to well established risk factors for early death, such as obesity and high blood pressure.
When the researchers took into account these better known risk factors, they found the link between early death and muscle power remained.
     Thin and fat men alike fared worse in terms of life expectancy if they had weaker than average muscles, while more burly men had better survival odds even if they were overweight.
Over the course of the study, 26,145 (2.3%) of the men died. The leading single cause of death was accidental injury, followed by suicide, cancer, heart disease and stroke.
A third of the deaths were due to other causes and the researchers grouped these together for their calculations.
     The teenagers who scored above average on muscular strength at the start of the study had a 20-35% lower risk of early death from any cause and also from cardiovascular diseases.
They also had a 20-30% lower risk of early death from suicide and were up to 65% less likely to have any psychiatric diagnosis, such as schizophrenia or depression.
In comparison, the 16- to 19-year-olds with the lowest level of muscular strength had the highest risk of dying before they reached their mid-50s.
      The teenagers, who were all conscripts to the Swedish military, were asked to grip and to do some leg curls and arm push ups against resistance to measure muscle strength.
A spokeswoman for the British Heart Foundation said: "The benefits of being physically active at any age are well established with studies showing it can prevent children from developing diseases later on in life, as well as improving their concentration at school, their overall mental health and well-being."
Stephen Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said while there was good evidence exercise was beneficial for health, the study did not show doing more exercise would necessarily prolong your life.
     And encouraging people to do more regular physical activity could be a challenge, he added.
"Sadly the trials of an intervention to increase exercise have not shown notable benefits, though that does not discourage me and many others from exercising," Prof Evans said.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Natural remedies for a sore throat

Several teas are known to soothe sore throats. A helpful recipe includes:

1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
Juice from 1/4 lemon
1 teaspoon of honey
Cayenne pepper to taste

Mix the ingredients into a cup of warm water and drink slowly. One cup is rarely enough for all day relief, but four may do the trick. This drink may also help reduce coughing.

Another tea option is to combine ginger tea with cinnamon and lemon. Ingredients include:

1 teaspoon of grated ginger
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons of grated lemon peel
1/2 cup of water

Combine ingredients in a pan and simmer for 15 minutes. Pour three tablespoons of mixture into a cup of warm warm and drink. Save the rest for additional cups of tea later in the day.

A third tea option is ginger tea with lemon and pepper. Seep one bag of ginger tea in a cup of hot water. Add lemon juice and black pepper powder to taste. This remedy not only helps relieve throat pain, but it can also clear blockages.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Ketogenic diet does not affect strength performance in elite gymnasts

Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition


Despite the increasing use of very low carbohydrate ketogenic diets (VLCKD) in weight control and management of the metabolic syndrome there is a paucity of research about effects of VLCKD on sport performance. Ketogenic diets may be useful in sports that include weight class divisions and the aim of our study was to investigate the influence of VLCKD on explosive strength performance.


8 athletes, elite artistic gymnasts (age 20.9 ± 5.5 yrs) were recruited. We analyzed body composition and various performance aspects (hanging straight leg raise, ground push up, parallel bar dips, pull up, squat jump, countermovement jump, 30 sec continuous jumps) before and after 30 days of a modified ketogenic diet. The diet was based on green vegetables, olive oil, fish and meat plus dishes composed of high quality protein and virtually zero carbohydrates, but which mimicked their taste, with the addition of some herbal extracts. During the VLCKD the athletes performed the normal training program. After three months the same protocol, tests were performed before and after 30 days of the athletes’ usual diet (a typically western diet, WD). A one-way Anova for repeated measurements was used.


No significant differences were detected between VLCKD and WD in all strength tests. Significant differences were found in body weight and body composition: after VLCKD there was a decrease in body weight  and fat mass  with a non-significant increase in muscle mass.


Despite concerns of coaches and doctors about the possible detrimental effects of low carbohydrate diets on athletic performance and the well known importance of carbohydrates there are no data about VLCKD and strength performance. The undeniable and sudden effect of VLCKD on fat loss may be useful for those athletes who compete in sports based on weight class. We have demonstrated that using VLCKD for a relatively short time period (i.e. 30 days) can decrease body weight and body fat without negative effects on strength performance in high level athletes.

Friday, November 23, 2012

What is the average number of calories a person consumes at Thanksgiving dinner?

The commonly cited statistic is that the average American will consume more than 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day alone. That’s according to the Calorie Control Council, which represents the people who bring you diet foods. After thinking about how much 4,500 calories really is, I was skeptical of the claim. I decided to create a gluttonous Thanksgiving feast of traditional foods and count the calories along the way (with the help of several online calorie counters). Here’s what I found.
Let’s start piling our plate with a generous 6-ounce serving of turkey, with the skin of course. Since dark meat has more calories, we’ll go with 4 ounces of dark meat (206 calories) and 2 ounces of white meat (93 calories). Did I mention we’re eating the crispy skin? Don’t forget the stuffing. I picked a not-so-healthy sausage stuffing (310 calories). Since it’s a holiday, let’s throw caution to the wind and eat lots of starchy, buttery foods. A dinner roll with butter (310 calories) plus two kinds of potatoes – a big serving of mashed sweet-potato casserole made with butter, brown sugar and topped with marshmallows (divide your casserole dish into 8 servings and it will be 300 calories each) plus a half-cup of mashed potatoes with butter and gravy (140 calories).
     You’re not getting full are you? Let’s add 2/3 cup green bean casserole (110 calories), a dollop of cranberry sauce (about 15 calories), and roasted brussels sprouts because our mother made us eat them (83 calories). And since we don’t want to hurt anybody's feelings, we’ll take one slice each of pumpkin pie (316 calories) and pecan pie (503 calories) with generous dollops of homemade whipped cream on each slice (100 calories).
     O.K., now I feel sick. How much have I eaten? The grand total is: 2,486 calories.
The point is I had to work pretty hard to finding enough servings of fat-laden, sugary foods to get to about 2,500 calories. Throw in a few glasses of wine, breakfast and some snacks and it’s certainly possible to binge your way to 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day, but I’m not convinced it’s as common as the diet food companies would like us to believe.
For one thing most people would have a hard time eating that much. After about 1,500 calories in one sitting, the gut releases a hormone that causes nausea. Average stomach capacity is about 8 cups, although it can range from 4 to 12.
      The average meal takes 1 to 3 hours to leave the stomach. But a large meal can take 8 to 12 hours, depending on the quantity and fat content. Eating too much can lead to indigestion (painful) and flatulence (you probably won’t be invited back). Another reason to pace yourself and avoid a gluttonous binge is that big meals can raise the risk for heart attack, blood clots and gallbladder problems and make you a dangerous, drowsy driver on the way home. Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Uncommon Cold Remedies

The common cold is back with a vengeance this year, at least in my neck of the woods. And, while “it” never really goes away, the common cold certainly becomes more prevalent during the winter months and is as dependable as clockwork or rush hour traffic. Researchers are continually on the lookout for natural and safe ways of managing and preventing symptoms associated with upper respiratory infections (URIs). As a result, each year there are more and more holistic and integrative options to consider if you hope to avoid the seemingly inevitable coughing, runny nose and sneezing that comes with the season.

In recent months, five natural remedies have demonstrated efficacy and safety in protecting against URIs and/or minimizing symptoms relating to such viral infections.
 1) Echinaforce, a standardized Echinacea purpurea extract, reduced “the total number of cold episodes” and the need for medication in a recent, 4 month placebo-controlled trial conducted at Cardiff University, UK.  
2) Immun Age, a fermented papaya extract, also showed potential in lowering viral susceptibility by supporting immune function (lysozyme production and secretary IgA) and antioxidant expression in the respiratory tract of 90 study volunteers.
3) Kyolic, a popular aged garlic extract, increased the number of infection fighting cells (Natural Killer and T cells) and decreased the duration and severity of cold and flu symptoms in a double-blind trial involving 120 men and women.  
4) Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum, two healthy strains of bacteria or probiotics, lowered the incidence of cough, fever and school absence in children who were supplemented with the probiotics instead of a placebo over a 3 month period of time.
 5) Finally, if a cold does set in, consuming 10 grams nightly of various types of honey (citrus, eucalyptus or labiatae) provides symptomatic relief of “children’s nocturnal cough and sleep difficulty due to URI”. Prevention is always best, but safe remedies that can help you ride out a common cold are always welcome news as well.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Protein supplementation increases both strength and muscle mass



Protein ingestion after a single bout of resistance-type exercise stimulates net muscle protein accretion during acute postexercise recovery. Consequently, it is generally accepted that protein supplementation is required to maximize the adaptive response of the skeletal muscle to prolonged resistance-type exercise training. However, there is much discrepancy in the literature regarding the proposed benefits of protein supplementation during prolonged resistance-type exercise training in younger and older populations.


The objective of the study was to define the efficacy of protein supplementation to augment the adaptive response of the skeletal muscle to prolonged resistance-type exercise training in younger and older populations.


Data were included from 680 subjects. Protein supplementation showed a positive effect for FFM  and 1-RM leg press strength compared with a placebo after prolonged resistance-type exercise training in younger and older subjects.


Protein supplementation increases muscle mass and strength gains during prolonged resistance-type exercise training in both younger and older subjects.
A new meta-analysis concludes that protein supplementation increases both strength and muscle mass in younger and older trainees engaged in prolonged resistance exercise.

Read more:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Five-Hour Energy Linked to Heart Attacks,

You know those little vials of who-knows-what that TV bills as a healthier alternative to energy drinks. Turns out they might make you die. Or to be more specific, the flavored energy shot "has been mentioned in some 90 filings with the F.D.A., including more than 30 that involved serious or life-threatening injuries like heart attacks, convulsions and, in one case, a spontaneous abortion," according to a New York Times investigation

The scariest thing about the Times report isn't necessarily the threat of heart attack or spontaneous abortion. It's the fact that nobody really knows what's going on with energy drinks -- or in 5-Hour Energy's case "dietary supplements" -- that become implicated in fatalities. Even scarier, is that the companies making these potions know that it's happening. They're required by federal law to report cases that link their products to fatalities to the FDA. They don't want to talk about it either. "I am not interested in making any comment," Manoj Bhargava, the chief executive of Living Essentials, the company that makes 5-Hour Energy. (Go ahead and let the irony of that company name sink in.)
We're immediately reminded of the Four Loko debacle from a couple of years back. In case you forgot, some brilliant product team decided that it would be a good idea to take all of the ingredients in your standard energy drink -- caffeine, taurine, B vitamins -- and mix it with high proof malt liquor and sell it for about two bucks a can. Fast forward a few months later, and people were dead after drinking the stuff, a horrible turn of events that eventually caused the government to ban the formula. It was eventually re-released without all of the energy additives. Fast forward a few more months later, and America figured out a way to bring back to old upper-downer specialty cocktail. Just drop a 5-Hour Energy into a can of Four Loko and BOOM! You've got yourself an evening of fun. Or heart attacks.
So maybe 5-Hour Energy is the cause of those grizzly sounding deaths, and maybe it isn't. Either way, we've seen this chain of events before. Somebody like The Times spots the correlation. Some government agency conducts an investigation, maybe banning some things even though that won't bring the victims back from the dead. And, inevitably, nobody wins.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Do Front Squats to Strengthen the Lower Back and Abs

Do front squats to strengthen the lower back and get chiseled abdominal muscles. The front squat is one of your best tools for preventing injury and achieving new levels of athleticism. It is an excellent lift for recreational trainees, can be used in the later stages of rehabilitation, and it translates to many sports including bobsledding, rugby, basketball, and football.

A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compared the activity of the trunk muscles of the erector spinae and rectus abdominis in a variety of exercises. Using a load of 40 kg, electromyographic (EMG) readings were recorded for the front and back squat, and the military press. They were compared to muscle activity during a isometric prone bridge (also known as a plank) and isometric superman on a Swiss ball, both held for 30 seconds.

Results showed the following:
•    Spinal erector muscle activity was greatest during the front squat, despite the fact that an empty 40 kg bar was used. Heavier loads will train the lower back muscles to an even greater degree.
•    Activation of the spinal erector muscles was next highest in the superman, followed by the back squat.
•    The prone bridge produced the greatest muscle activity in the rectus abdominis, followed by the military press and then the front squat.
•    Previous studies show much greater rectus abdominis activity during the back squat using heavier loads in the 70 percent of the 1RM range, indicating that the relationship of muscle activity and exercise type is load dependent.
•    It is reasonable to use the front squat with heavy loads to train the rectus abdominis muscle as well. A review of how load, stance, and type of squat influences muscle activity found that a loaded front squat works the rectus abdominis, quadriceps, and erector spinae better than the back squat.

The researchers suggest the dynamic front and back squat and military press exercises are preferable for healthy trainees because they require stabilization of the abdominal and trunk muscles during a multi-joint movement, which is representative of daily living. The plank and other isometric exercises may be useful in injured or the most deconditioned trainees because they teach them to contract the muscles for stabilization. Beyond that, they are largely useless because the plank and superman are performed in a nonfunctional static position that is rarely replicated in daily life or sports.

Another benefit of the squat is that it trains the entire lower body musculature across the functional length tension range, allowing for greater power generation at all levels of movement speed and force. Basically, the squat has an accelerative component that trains rate of force development, which researchers note will help prevent the general population from falling. Apply the accelerative component to sports training and we see that the front squat, in particular, trains vertical acceleration to increase jump height.

Take away the understanding that squat training with heavy loads is one of the best methods for training the entire core. Dynamic multi-joint exercises like those tested in this study will help trainees achieve the correct levels and balance of strength and in the trunk muscles to enable optimal performance and avoid injury.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Vegetable Juicing

1. Does fresh vegetable juice cause a huge insulin spike in one’s bloodstream?
2. Would this spike be higher than if you ate the vegetables themselves (because you’re not eating the fiber at the same time)?
3. Would the number of carbs in the juice of one beet or the juice of one cucumber be the same as eating one whole beet or one whole cucumber?
I would still like to lose about 15 pounds of fat, so if you think my extra intake of veggies is going to cause my carb intake to skyrocket then I will think twice about continuing with the juicing.

1. It totally depends on the vegetable you’re juicing. The main reason, after all, that I suggest you limit fruit juice is that it’s a huge bolus of sugar without the fiber and the satiation that comes from eating whole fruit. You can eat an apple and you’ll be pretty satisfied, but a glass of apple juice goes down like water, doesn’t really fill you up, and contains the sugar of four apples. That’s four times the sugar (and nearly four times the calories) with a fraction of the satisfaction. Sitting down to breakfast with a tall glass of apple juice, then, is like adding a bag full of apples to your breakfast.
Most vegetables don’t have that problem. Yeah, if you were drinking nothing but carrot and beet juice, you’d be getting a fair amount of sugar, but even a four ounce portion of carrot or beet only has about ten grams of sugar. And all the other vegetables you’re probably juicing, like lettuce, kale, chard, spinach, cucumbers, broccoli, are so low in calories and carbs that they’re not worth fretting over. Honestly, I wouldn’t worry too much about the carbs in vegetable juice.
2. Yes, the (insignificant) spike will be higher after consuming juice than after consuming the whole vegetable. In studies with whole fruit and fruit juice (very few, if any, studies are out there comparing vegetable juice to whole vegetables, so we’ll have to use the fruit juice research), whole fruit tends to elicit a lower insulin spike than fruit juice, an effect authors attribute primarily to the fiber. In fact, fiber has even been used in diabetics to help maintain their glucose control. That said, vegetable juice doesn’t have much sugar with which to spike your insulin. Again, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.
3. The number of carbs will be the same minus the fiber from the whole vegetable. If a beet has around 2 grams of fiber, that amount will be subtracted from the juice.
Although juicing vegetables won’t really affect your insulin levels one way or the other, I would caution that by discarding the fiber, you’ll be missing out on some polyphenols. Fruit and vegetable fiber isn’t “just fiber”; it also contains bioactive phytochemicals that may be of some use to you. Also, the effects of some polyphenols seem to be compounded when eaten with plant fiber, as is the case with apple pectin (a soluble fiber) and apple polyphenols. Overall, the fiber increases the bioavailability of plant antioxidants. Whole foods win again! Luckily, you state that you’re eating plenty of whole vegetables in addition to the juice, so I wouldn’t be too concerned. If you weren’t eaten the whole vegetables, I’d probably urge you to consider smoothies over juice, since smoothies retain the fiber.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Southeast paying health price for high antibiotic use

    Antibiotic use in the United States is dropping, but it is dropping most slowly in states that use the drugs the most – widening regional gaps that may be putting people in some Southeastern states at heightened risk for infections that no longer respond to antibiotics, a new analysis shows.
Researchers aren't just guessing at the danger: They also have new data showing that urinary tract infections have became more resistant to antibiotics and that the problem is worst in regions where use is highest.
       "We are seeing a widening gap between states," says Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the private Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy, Washington, D.C. Prescription records show that people in Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana took about twice as many antibiotics as people in Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon, and Washington in 2010, says a report released by the center today.
Lab reports show urinary tract infections were 30% more likely to resist antibiotic treatment in 2010 than in 1999.
       The report is one of several coming this week as government and private groups unite to call for more action on what they say is a growing threat: Drugs for many bacterial infections are becoming ineffective because they are so often taken when they are not needed — allowing bugs that cause everything from pneumonia to sexually transmitted diseases to adapt and survive future attempts at treatment.
Much of the overuse is for colds, flu and sore throats caused by viruses — illnesses that antibiotics can't help.
     Why antibiotics use differs by state is unclear. The South has higher rates of poverty, smoking and chronic illnesses, and some of those factors might lead doctors to prescribe more antibiotics for respiratory illnesses because they are worried about complications, says Nancy Morden, an assistant professor at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice in New Hampshire.
But a recent study of Medicare patients found that differences in gender, age, race and health status did not explain regional differences in antibiotic prescribing very similar to those found in the new study, says Yuting Zhang, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh, who led the Medicare study.
In any case, there's no evidence the extra antibiotics help or that lower use hurts people, Laxminarayan says. He says states with the lowest use typically devote the most public health resources to teaching doctors and patients to use the drugs correctly.
Many are taking heed: Nationwide antibiotic use dropped 17% between 1999 and 2010, the report says. And a new survey out today from the Pew Charitable Trusts and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows 79% of adults know they can harm their own health by taking unneeded antibiotics.
      But just 47% know that doing so could harm others, including family members and people in their communities who might pick up their hard-to-treat bugs, says Allan Coukell, director of medical programs for Pew.
       Antibiotic resistance is not just a personal or even a regional issue, says Jeffrey Levi executive director of the Trust for America's Health in Washington, D.C.: "We need to to establish some standards of practice across the country," he says. Resistant bacteria spread from person to person and place to place, he says, "and there are consequences for everybody."
       Levi's group is one of two dozen health organizations that signed a consensus statement with the CDC, released today, calling for consumers, healthcare workers, policy makers and pharmaceutical companies to work together to make better use of existing antibiotics and develop new ones.
The statement also calls for limiting the use of antibiotics in animals raised for food.
"Antibiotics have saved millions of lives and transformed modern medicine," but "how we use these precious drugs must fundamentally change," says Arjun Srinivasan, who directs a program to prevent healthcare-related infections at the CDC. Srinivasan spoke during a teleconference kicking off an annual campaign to raise awareness of proper antibiotic use.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Improve memory and boost brain power

  by: Jonathan Landsman

Prevent adrenal fatigue and elevate your mood - naturally

Obviously, it goes (almost) without saying, if you can reduce the stress in your life by changing your perspective or making changes in your lifestyle habits - do it. But, nutritionally speaking, you may want to consider boosting your intake of vitamin C to support healthy adrenal function. Remember, the adrenals produce stress hormones and without them - your ability to handle tough situations is diminished.

According to Dr. Lucille, "during stress, the adrenal glands stockpile this antioxidant to protect against free-radical damage. However, ongoing stress depletes this vital nutrient from the adrenal glands." By the way, Dr. Lucille recommends at least 250 to 500 milligrams (mg) per day of vitamin C for anyone concerned about the negative effects of stress and maintaining a clear mind.

Sharpen your mind with chocolate and essential fatty acids

Cocoa, the key ingredient in chocolate, is loaded with brain-boosting antioxidants called flavonoids. Just don't go and buy any (commercial) brands filled with excess simple sugars, poor quality fats and nasty chemical additives. Scientific research shows that small amounts of dark chocolate, consumed on a regular basis, can improve blood flow to the brain - which enhances cognitive and memory test scores.

Did you know that the human brain is composed of significant amounts of fat? If you want to avoid being "brain dead" - be sure to include lots of omega-3's in your diet. Naturally, especially these days, you want to be careful about the quality of fat you eat. If you're not comfortable eating fish - several times per week - then a good quality omega-3 supplement of about 500 - 1,000 mg per day could help improve brain function.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Healthier Ice Cubes

One of the keys to improving your diet is looking for practical ways to increase your intake of health promoting nutrients and phytochemicals. Ice cubes may seem like an unlikely way to further this cause, but that all depends on what you use to make ice cubes. By using coconut water or ginger and hibiscus tea, you can transform conventional ice cubes into flavorful and healthful additions to common beverages such as lemonade and mineral water.
     According to a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, upwards of 12% of children and 24% of adults regularly consume low or no-calorie drinks. This emerging trend may be helping to lower the overall intake of sugar sweetened beverages. However, the long term implications of drinking more artificially sweetened drinks and sodas is uncertain at best. What is clear is that this current shift in refined beverage options doesn’t add any antioxidant or nutrient density to the average diet.
A delicious, inexpensive and nutritious alternative to diet drinks and sodas is the use of naturally flavored ice cubes. Typically, ice cubes are obviously made of water. Having said that, in our household, we frequently make ice cubes from coconut water, ginger tea and hibiscus tea. Apart from the taste component, coconut water is an excellent source of potassium – an essential electrolyte which is commonly deficient in modern diets. Ginger tea is a potent, medicinal ingredient that combats inflammation and has recently been shown to improve arthritic symptoms, lung function and menopausal complaints. Last, but not least, is hibiscus tea. This brilliant, redish tea is a valuable source of antioxidants that addresses primary risk factors for metabolic syndrome, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.
     When making ice cubes, it’s advisable to use filtered water, organic herbal teas and pure (unsweetened) coconut water. In addition, I suggest ice cube trays which are certified BPA-free. In our home, we add these and other flavored ice cubes to iced tea, homemade lemonade and sparkling mineral water. If more sweetness is desired, try adding some liquid monk fruit or stevia extract to the tea before filling the ice cube tray. Enjoy!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pros and Cons of Raw Pollinated Honey


 Raw Pollinated Honey Benefits:
Typically the two main sugar compounds found in raw honey are glucose and fructose. Next to that are some small amounts of maltose and sucrose. While too much sugar is certainly not healthy, your body does still need it for energy.
     This is why endurance athletes have been known to take it as an ergogenic aid. The often arduous physical exertion of endurance sports requires a lot of energy and that means the body will demand much carbohydrate fuel. The abundant glucose and fructose in honey can sustain an athlete’s blood sugar and glycogen stores at optimal levels. Glycogen is the form in which sugar is stored in your muscles and it is the fuel that’s primarily burned during physical exercise.
Besides the enhanced performance made possible by the sugar compounds, there are trace amounts of vitamins and minerals that raw honey provides. There is the main antioxidant Vitamin C and other B Vitamins such as niacin and pantothenic acid. There are also minerals such as calcium and potassium.
Raw honey has been traditionally used as a topical treatment to heal wounds. Recent research has revealed some of how this works.
     First the sugar compounds in it can easily absorb water and this keeps the open wounds free of moisture. As you may know microorganisms thrive well in wet environments. Next raw honey contains a compound called glucose oxidase. When this combines with water the result is a mild antiseptic known as hydrogen peroxide. Finally there is a substance in honey called pinocembrin which has been found to be antibacterial.
Raw Pollinated Honey Risks:
As an alternative to regular sugar, raw pollinated honey is not as completely safe as the sweeteners previously discussed like stevia or xylitol. Its glycemic index can range from 31 to 78 depending on the type of honey. It can increase blood sugar levels and while athletes may generally take advantage of this energy boost, diabetics will have to be more cautious.
Raw honey may also be dangerous for children under 1 year of age because they’re more susceptible to botulism. The spores of the botulinum bacteria are commonly present in unprocessed honey. Older children and adults will have the developed digestive system to deal with the bacteria but infants won’t be able to cope.
     There are also cases when the raw honey is inherently toxic. There are certain flowering plants like oleanders and rhododendrons that contain substances toxic to humans but don’t affect bees. The resulting raw honey then becomes unsafe. In the case of New Zealand for example there is a particular plant called tutu which when harvested by bees for nectar results in honey laced with a poison called tutin.
Raw Pollinated Honey Practical Uses:
One of the primary concerns with raw pollinated honey is making sure you get a product that’s authentic but also safe for consumption. Package labels and looking at the honey itself can help. But if you want to be a little more thorough (short of actually taking up beekeeping yourself), you might want to try a local organic honey producer.
Once you have your batch of clean raw honey, it’s important to keep the glass or ceramic jar in a dry and cool location, away from appliances that give off a lot of heat. Don’t transfer it into any metallic containers as this will react with the honey’s acidity. The honey could keep indefinitely with proper storage.
      You can use raw pollinated honey just as you would any sweetener, substituting it for the sugar ingredient in any recipe. Some people directly take a teaspoon a day for therapeutic purposes such as a cough remedy. Others mix it in their hot or cold beverages. Remember that the strength of the honey is also based on the plant it’s derived. It’s said that Manuka honey (honey from the flowers of the Manuka plant) is particularly effective as an antibacterial.
If you’re going to the gym or out for a long run, you can put raw honey instead of regular sugar in your home-made power drink.
      For topical application to a wound, you can either pour the raw honey directly on the affected area and let it dry or soak the gauze with honey and cover everything up with dry bandages. Some have also used it to treat skin conditions like acne or eczema.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bone broth is your friend

Although humans need only tiny amounts of micronutrients—vitamins and minerals— to function, a deficiency of those can be very detrimental to your health.
every time my grandma ate anything “with bones” she would make sure to break them and eat all of the marrow hidden inside, which is loaded with calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and other trace minerals.
while i’m still a sucked for roasted marrow, this bone broth is an easy and efficient way to get your share of micronutrients.
     I like to infuse my broth with tons of flavor (and extra micronutrients) by first sautéing a mixture of finely chopped onions, garlic and shallots in a heavy sauce pan with a bit of olive oil or tallow from your previous batch of broth.
     Make sure your marrow bones are grass-fed and antibiotic-free, and add them to the pot once the onions have become translucent. add a healthy pinch of sea salt and cayenne pepper.
cover the bones with filtered water and bring it to a boil. lower the fire to a minimum, cover, and let it simmer for about eight hours. you can also do this on a crockpot.
when fully cooked, the broth may look gelatinous due to a high concentration of collagen. in other words, the broth is a micronutrient jackpot.
     Once the broth cools, the fat, or tallow, will raise to the top, and it can be used to cook with.
place the broth in glass containers and refrigerate it, or freeze it in ice cube trays for easy access.
this broth is universal in flavor, and it can be used for a number of recipes or enjoyed on its on.
a cup of broth a day, keeps the doctor away.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Sports Drink Myth Exposed

Sports drinks are one of the hottest beverage categories. PepsiCo owns Gatordade, the category leader, and Coca Cola owns Powerade. Most major sports event in this country that areco-opted by one of these brands (or worse – energy drinks, but that’s for a different posting).
Invented decades ago to help college football athletes competing in very hot weather replenish lost electrolytes, the sport drink industry has ballooned through clever marketing and now it seems every jog around the block, or little league game deserves requires replenishment via a brightly colored sports drink.
We’re here today to pop a needle in the sports drink marketing balloon. Evidence is mounting that for most people, there is absolutely no benefit to sports drinks over plain water. On the contrary, the excess sugar or artificial sweeteners may actually do harm. Read more in this article in the LA Times.
Point in case is the popular Gatorade Thirst Quencher, Perform 02, Orange. Here is the ingredient list:
Water, Sucrose, Dextrose, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor, Salt, Sodium Citrate, Monopotassium Phosphate, Gum Arabic, Yellow 6, Glycerol Ester of Rosin, Brominated Vegetable Oil.
Second and third ingredients are sugars. Sucrose is supposedly a cooler name for table sugar. Dextrose is glucose (the most basic sugar. Table sugar is made of glucose plus fructose).
There is no real orange here. The flavors are added, and the color comes from a potentially harmful artificial color – Yellow 6.
Last but not least is Brominated vegetable oil, banned in Europe, but not here! Liquid bromine — also found in photo paper, car seats, mattresses, and carpeting — is corrosive and extremely hazardous to our skin and lungs. It is fat-soluble and so builds up in our tissues. A 16-ounce soft drink made with brominated vegetable oil contains approximately 2 milligrams of bromine.
What to do at the supermarket:
Do yourself a favor and drink water after your workout. Most recreational athletes get more than enough sodium in their regular diet. If you need to replenish with something more substantive – have a banana.
If you are an elite athlete training for over an hour in hot conditions, you can opt for a sports drink. But don’t start drinking sports drinking in order to become an elite athlete…

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Seven methods for creating the best digestion of your life

 Dealing with the symptoms of chronic digestive dysfunction can be discouraging for many people, especially when unknown dietary and environmental triggers constantly seem to create bloat, abdominal pain, gas, and other problems. But correcting the issue can also be as simple as eating certain foods while avoiding others, and learning to eat foods that promote healthy floral balance in the gut.

Besides avoiding specific foods to which you may be allergic -- consulting an allergist trained in naturopathic methods may be the best course of action for this -- here are seven ways to naturally promote gut health and eliminate indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), intestinal inflammation, and other conditions that may be inhibiting proper gut function:

1) Probiotics. The importance of regularly taking probiotic supplements and eating probiotic foods cannot be stated enough, as these are the bedrock elements of strong digestion. When the bacterial balance in the gut gets thrown off due to poor diet, overuse of antibiotic drugs, toxic buildup and other factors, the digestive system is unable to properly digest and assimilate nutrients. For this reason, it is essential to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut using probiotics. (

2) Fermented foods. Similar to probiotic supplements, fermented foods are teeming with beneficial bacteria that help prime the gut for optimal nutrient absorption. Raw sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha tea, raw milk, pickled vegetables, yogurt, and authentic miso soup are among the many cultured foods and beverages that help promote the proper enzymatic breakdown of food components within the gut, which in turn promotes healthy digestion and a well-functioning digestive tract. (

3) Aloe vera. When the colon becomes impacted with toxic waste as a result of poor digestion, conditions like ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, Crohn's disease, and spastic colon can result, all of which prevent the absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream. But eating aloe vera and drinking aloe vera juice regularly can irrigate and break down this impacted waste, and restore healthy diffusion throughout the intestinal tract. (

4) Zinc. Many people are unaware of the important role zinc plays in healthy digestion. An essential mineral for the production of digestive enzymes, zinc is one of the primary catalysts by which the body processes nutrients. Zinc is also a critical component in the renewal of regrowth of intestinal tissue, as well as the production of digestive bile and secretions of both the liver and pancreas. (

Many individuals with chronic bowel inflammation often end up also having zinc deficiency, as the two are closely related. Numerous studies have shown that zinc is a powerful gastro-protective nutrient with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, particularly when combined with the amino peptide L-carnosine. Simply upping your intake of zinc and L-carnosine, in other words, will help promote intestinal healing and healthy mucosal lining throughout the gut. (

5) L-Glutamine. The amino acid L-glutamine is said to be the single most important nutrient for repairing the gastrointestinal tract. The most abundant amino acid in the body, L-glutamine has been shown to possess an incredible ability to repair colon and bowel tissues. L-glutamine provides energy to the cells in the digestive tract, effectively strengthening the gut lining and improving water absorption. Supplementing with L-glutamine can thus repair digestive function, reduce or eliminate allergies, improve mood and nutrient absorption, and ultimately boost immune function. (

6) Avoid GMOs. In addition to eating the aforementioned foods and nutrients, it is also important to cut out foods that contain genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), as these toxic, man-made substance have been shown in numerous independent studies to disrupt digestion and destroy gut flora. Common GMOs throughout the food supply include ingredients made from non-organic soy, corn, canola, sugar beet, and cottonseed. (

Since an increasing amount of food crops are targets for genetic manipulation by the biotechnology industry, the best way to avoid inadvertently eating GMOs is to look specifically for certified organic or non-GMO project certified foods when shopping. Other hidden sources of GMOs include processed food ingredients like citric acid, vitamin C, ascorbic acid, maltodextrin, dextrose, sucrose, xanthan gum, yeast, lactic acid, vegetable proteins, vegetable oil, and flavors and flavorings, both "natural" and "artificial." (

7) Avoid wheat gluten. Since this common protein substance tends to disrupt and destroy the nutrient-assimilating fibers that line the digestive tract, wheat gluten is another food you will want to avoid when trying to repair your gut and restore proper digestive function. Gluten disorders are far more widespread than most people think they are because the hybridized wheat varieties commonly used throughout the food supply today are particularly damaging -- one expert cardiologist has actually dubbed modern-day wheat a "chronic, perfect poison."

Friday, November 2, 2012

Avoid Alcohol After Training: Don’t Erase Your Hard Work!

Avoid alcohol after training or competing because it will erase all possible performance gains and delay recovery. This is especially true for very intense workouts such as those that include heavy eccentrics, sprint workouts, or competitions.

A new study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research using rugby players showed that you should completely avoid alcohol after hard workouts or competitions, but you should also avoid it within 36 hours prior to a competition because the effects linger. If that doesn’t deter you, consider that a second study of male non-athletes found that the more these men drank within the five days prior to the study, the more estrogen they produced. This significantly compromised sperm production and decreased fertility.
Let’s review the evidence about the effects of alcohol so that you can make an informed decision. In the rugby study, players competed in a match and then were given dinner with a large dose of vodka in orange juice (alcohol content equal to 7 drinks) or a placebo. The next morning results showed that cortisol was significantly elevated, power output was compromised, and estrogen was higher in the group that drank the vodka. Cognitive performance was also poorer in the alcohol group than the placebo group.
There was no decrease in maximal strength in the alcohol group, however, that may be because the exercise performed in the rugby match was intense enough. Previous studies that tested alcohol use after more damaging workouts showed different effects on maximal strength. For example, a similar study that used an alcohol dose of about 3 standard drinks after having young men perform 300 maximal eccentric contractions of the quadriceps decreased the ability to generate force by 45 percent. Better news, a second study that tested a smaller alcohol dose of about a drink and a half showed no drop off in maximal strength or performance.

Researchers think the biggest danger to drinking alcohol post-exercise is a poor hormonal environment for recovery. As seen in this study, estrogen was higher indicating that aromatization, in which testosterone is turned into estrogen, had occurred. Studies of more regular alcohol use show a significant increase in aromatization, low fertility, and a feminization of men, as seen by a higher estrogen to testosterone ratio.

There was also evidence of poor cognitive performance, which decreased reaction time and decision making in the alcohol group. Not only will a “hangover” affect  peak performance and recovery, but it will compromise learning and skill development during practice as well.

Your best bet is to avoid alcohol entirely and especially on the evening after hard workouts or competitions. If you do drink on other days, strategies to minimize the negative effects include the following:
•    Keep the dose small, to less than two drinks and be sure to drink water with electrolytes.
•    Choose red wine because it has been shown to support insulin sensitivity and it does not appear to be inflammatory, as liquor, beer, and white wine are.
•    Get extra B vitamins and amino acids to support detoxification of  alcohol. The rugby study found that the players were urinating more after the alcohol, which could easily produce dehydration, particularly if hydration was already low from exercise.
•    Boost antioxidant intake to aid the body in recovery. Green tea is proven effective at aiding liver function when metabolizing alcohol. Larger doses of green tea are more effective—shoot for five cups a day or get a green tea supplement to increase your dose.
•    Focus on optimal nutrition and avoid carbs. Eat high-quality protein with berries and green vegetables to boost antioxidant levels.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Why Does Running Faster Make Slow Running Easier?

    Yesterday during a run, I mixed in a few bursts of fast running.  It then seemed like after each burst, the corresponding easy running portion afterwards somehow became (or at least felt) easier.
I will also mention that this isn’t the first time I’ve recognized this phenomenon.
I don’t think it’s a matter of faster running “warming up” the muscles, as I had already been running for 15 minutes or so.
     Here’s an analogy I’ve been thinking about.  If you always lift say 100 pounds, then maybe you can build your endurance for that weight, but it may never truly become “easy”.  But if you strengthen and learn to lift 200 pounds, and then go back to 100 pounds, it should now be easier relative to your increased strength level.
    I wonder if the same applies to running: faster running builds your system or gives you more metabolic “headroom”, such that it makes slower running easier.