Saturday, July 14, 2012

New Research Finds The Best Strategy On How To Lose Weight

Most of us know that the best strategy on how to lose weight is to reduce our calorie intake. But actually reducing the amount of calories that we consume is easier said than done.

A new study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center may help us with basic strategies on how to eat less and lose weight safely.

After studying 123 overweight to obese and sedentary women ranging in ages from 50 to 75, researchers find that
  • Women who keep journals on the type of foods, and the amount of food that they eat lose more weight than women who do not keep food journals
  • Women who do not skip meals lose more weight than women who do skip meals
  • And women who do not eat out for lunch often lose more weight than women who do frequently eat out for lunch.
Based on their findings, the researchers recommend that postmenopausal women maintain a food journal, eat out less often, especially for lunch, and eat at regular intervals to help lose weight successfully.

When keeping a food journal, the researchers also recommend that you
  • Be honest by recording everything that you eat
  • Be accurate by measuring portions and reading labels
  • Be complete in you recording by including how the food is prepared and whether any toppings or condiments are added to the food
  • And be consistent by always carrying your food journal with you and faithfully record what and when you eat
These are simple tools that you can use to help you lose weight successfully.

Charles A. Pennison


Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center: " Want to lose Weight? "

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Suicide - Is A Parasite To Blame?

The big question - Are people with risk factors for suicidal behavior more likely to be infected with the parasite, or does the parasite's affect on the brain cause people to be suicidal?

The parasite in question is Toxoplasma gondii. It is spread through contact with cat feces or eating undercooked meat or unwashed vegetables. This bug resides in brain and muscle cells, and is linked to mental illness and behavioral changes.

A new study of 45,000 Denmark women indicates that those infected with T. gondii are at an increased risk of attempting suicide. The researchers stress that they can not say that the parasite cause the infected women to commit suicide, but there is a predictive association between the parasite infection and suicide attempts later in life. More research is needed to determine a possible connection between infection and suicide attempts.

One-third of the world's population is estimated to be infected with the parasite. We can become infected by
  • changing an infected cat's liter box
  • eating unwashed vegetables
  • eating undercooked or raw meat that is infested with the parasite cysts
  • drinking contaminated water
  • and by not properly washing knives used to cut raw meat
Pregnant women can pass the parasite directly to their fetus. That is why it is advisable that pregnant women avoid changing cat liter boxes.

To reduce your risks of infection, properly wash and cook vegetables and meats, and always wash your hands after handling liter boxes and raw meats.

Charles A. Pennison


University of Maryland: " Women Infected With Toxoplasma Gondii Parasite Have Increased Risk Of Attempting Suicide "

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

New Research Determines Which Diet Is Most Effective On How To Maintain Weight Loss

New research shows you how to keep those unwanted pounds off for good after working so hard to lose it in the first place.

A frustrating fact for those trying to maintain a healthy weight is that only one in six overweight people can maintain their weight loss over a long period of time. Many feel that finding a method on how to maintain their weight loss can be as allusive as the proverbial pot of gold.

One of the reasons why people tend to regain their weight after losing excess pounds is that their bodies experience a reduction in metabolism. In other words, their bodies burn fewer calories. This reduction in their metabolism makes it difficult to maintain a healthy weight.

Researches at the Boston Children's Hospital have a solution to this problem after studying the effect on metabolism of three types of diets:
  1. A Low Fat Diet with 60% of daily calories from carbohydrates, 20% from fat and 20% from protein
  2. A Low Glycemic Index Diet with 40% of daily calories from carbohydrates, 40% from fat and 20% from protein and
  3. A Low Carbohydrate diet with 10% of daily calories from carbohydrates, 60% from fat and 30% from protein.
The results show that the low carbohydrate diet produces the best improvement in metabolism after losing 10 to 15% of body weight. However, the low carbohydrate diet also causes hormonal changes that can lead to insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease.

The low fat diet has the worse effect on metabolism of the three diets studied. Metabolism plummets with the low fat diet, which can make it difficult for weight loss patients to keep the excess pounds off.

The low glycemic index diet, on the other hand, produces similar improvements in metabolism as the low carb diet without the negative hormonal changes. Another plus for the low glycemic index diet is that it does not reduce or eliminate any food groups. This gives weight loss patients a larger variety of foods to choose for their meals, which may encourage them to remain on a healthy diet.

The combination of beneficial effects on metabolism, no negative changes in hormonal chemistry and no elimination of food groups may make the low glycemic index diet the best choice to keep the excess weight off over the long term.

Charles A. Pennison


JAMA: " Effects of Dietary Composition on Energy Expenditure During Weight Loss Maintenance "
Boston Children's Hospital: " Study Challenges The Notion That Calorie Is Just A Calorie "

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rid Yourself Of Intestinal Parasites In A Week Using a Natural Remedy

You say that you don't have intestinal parasites. Are you sure?

Many Americans have these pest in their gut, and don't realize it. You can easily pick up parasites from pets, infected children or food, or a visit to a nursing home.

Many parasites can live in your intestines for years without any symptoms. However, symptoms can eventually develop and include
  1. Abdominal pain
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Nausea
  4. Gas or that bloated feeling
  5. Loose stool containing blood and mucus
  6. A rash around your rectum
  7. Stomach pain or tenderness
  8. Constant fatigue
  9. Weight loss
  10. Or the passing of a worm in your stool
Your doctor can give you drugs to help kill the parasites. However, there is also a natural remedy that has proven to be effective in ridding patients of intestinal bugs.

Researchers at the Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria have shown that dried papaya seeds can eleminate intestinal parasites from 75% of infected patients in one week. Even if you don't have parasites, papaya seeds are nutritious. Some people may not like the peppery taste of these seeds. That is why the Nigerian researchers mixed the seeds with honey to improve their taste.

I like the peppery taste that these seeds give to a green salad.

Eat a quarter cup of papaya seeds with a tablespoon of honey to treat for intestinal parasites. Consume the seeds on an empty stomach for maximum effectiveness. 

Another method that has proven effective against intestinal parasites is eating two, raw garlic cloves each day. Personally, I prefer the papaya seeds.

Charles A. Pennison


University of Maryland: " Intestinal Parasites "
NCBI: " Effectiveness of Dried Carica Papaya Seeds Against Human Intestinal Parasitosis "
Yahoo Health: " A Natural Cure for Parasites "

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Jeopardy TV Host Alex Trebek Suffers A Mild Heart Attack

Alex Trebek suffered a mild heart attack on Saturday. The Jeopardy host is expected to recover in time to start the 29th season of Jeopardy in July.

Coming from a heart attack prone family, I thought that this would be a good time to review the warning signs of a heart attack, and the steps we can take to minimize our risks of having a heart attack. Many do not realize that the leading cause of death for both men and women is heart disease. The only difference between men and women is that the symptoms may be slightly different in women.

Warning Signs of a Heart Attack

As the American Heart Association states, "most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help." Even if you are not sure if you are having a heart attack, talk with a health profession as soon as possible and describe your symptoms. Minute can make a difference between life and death.

These are the signs that you should take seriously if you experience them.
  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of your chest. I can last for more than a few minutes, or go away and come back. I can feel like an uncomfortable pressure in the center of your chest, squeezing, a fullness sensation or pain.
  • Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, your back, neck jaw or stomach.
  • You can experience shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • You may also experience a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness. 
Women may be more likely than men to experience shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

The way to minimize your risks of having a heart attack is to live a heart healthy lifestyle. This includes
  • Stop Smoking
  • Choose a heart healthy diet. Eat foods low in sugars and saturated fats. Choose good foods like vegetables, fruits, cold water fish, lean proteins, whole grains and low fat dairy products
  • Reduce your blood cholesterol, especially LDL and triglycerides.
  • Lower your blood pressure. Your goal is less than 120 / 80 mmHg
  • Be physically active everyday
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Manage your diabetes
  • Reduce your stress
  • And limit your alcohol consumption
Even if you live a healthy lifestyle, upon experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack, seek medical help as soon as possible.

Charles A. Pennison


Huffpost: " Alex Trebek Heat Attack "
American Heart Association: " Prevention and Treatment of Heart Attack "
CDC: " Leading Cause of Death in Females "
CDC: " Leading Causes of Death in Males "

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

L-Carnosine As An Anti-Aging Supplement


Before you go running to buy the anti-aging supplement L-carnosine, there may be a less expensive way to boast your blood levels of carnosine than by using a carnosine supplement.

The Dr. Oz Show has tauted L-carnosine as a miracle pill to stop aging. It is found in skeletal muscle, heart muscle, skin and in your brain. Even though scientist do not know exactly what carnosine does, it does appear to slow down cellular deterioration and promote cellular rejuvenation.

Our bodies can produce this miracle molecule by combining the two amino acids beta-alanine and histidine. However, as we age, carnosine levels tend to fall. The lower levels of carnosine as we age may be partly responsible for increased cellular deterioration and reduced physical activity of the elderly.

Research at the University of Oklahoma and Ghent University show that beta-alanine supplements can increase carnosine levels in skeletal muscle, and increase the physical working ability of the elderly. So, the most cost effective way to increase the carnosine levels in our bodies may be to take beta-alanine supplements rather than L-carnosine supplements.

The study at the University of Oklahoma uses a dosage of 2.4 grams of beta-alanine per day. Dr. Oz recommends 1000 mg of L-carnosine per day to slow the aging process. Using these two dosages, it cost 11 cents per day for the beta-alanine supplement, and 55 cents per day for the L-carnosine supplement. As you can see, there is a huge cost advantage in using beta-alanine rather than L-carnosine.

Since beta-alanine is effective in increasing carnosine levels in skeletal muscle and is quite a bit less expensive, I would consider beta-alanine as the better alternative in helping us find the fountain of youth.

Charles A. Pennison


Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: " The effect of beta-alanine supplementaton on neuromuscular fatigue in elderly "
US Library of Medicine: " Beta-alanine supplementation augments muscle carnosine content "
Dr. Oz Show: " Miracle Pill to Stop Aging "
Swanson: " Beta-Alanine "
Swanson: " L-Carnosine "

Monday, June 4, 2012

A New Version Of Gastric Bypass Surgery May Cure Diabetes

A modified version of gastric bypass surgery is eliminating diabetes in its patients.

After 2 years of testing, 19 of 20 diabetic patients that have undergone the modified gastric bypass surgery no longer have diabetes.

First, let's look at basic anatomy of the upper digestive system. From the stomach, food first goes into the upper small intestine called the duodenum. This is the first 25 centimeters of the small intestine. The next 25 meters of the small intestine is called the jejunum.

In a normal bypass operation, the size of the stomach is reduced. In addition, the duodenum is bypassed, and food from the smaller stomach goes directly to the jejunum.

In the modified version of this operation, the stomach is untouched. But, the duodenum is bypassed just like in the normal bypass operation.

This modified version of the gastric bypass operation was developed by Dr. Francisco Rubino of the Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York. Dr. Rubino has been researching, since 1999, the possibility that gastric bypass surgery cures diabetes.

What is interesting about his findings is that these patients get cured of their diabetes long before experiencing weight loss. This indicates that something other than weight loss is curing these diabetic patients.

Due to his findings, Dr. Rubino has received approval to study experimental bypass surgery on diabetics with a healthy Body Mass Index or BMI. Normally, this type of surgery is only considered for diabetic patients with a BMI of 35 or higher.

Researchers at the University of Toronto are offering a possible explanation why the modified bypass operation is curing diabetes.

By bypassing the duodenum, the jejunum receives more nutrients than it normally gets. When this happens following the surgery, the jejunum tells the brain that it has too much sugar. In turn, the brain then tells the liver to stop making glucose. The net result is that blood sugar levels are reduced to normal levels, and no more diabetes.

Additional good news is that this surgery may also work with type-1 diabetes.

Of course, invasive surgery always comes with some risk. About 0.3% die within 30 days of the operation. And a small percentage of patients experience infections, leaking from the stomach into the abdominal cavity and gallstones. Also, there is less intestines to absorb nutrients, which may cause anemia and osteoporosis.

Each patient must weigh the risks of invasive surgery with the possibility of curing their diabetes. However, we may have a way to cure a once incurable disease.

Charles A. Pennison


Reuters: " Curing Diabetes Via Surgery, Without Weight Loss "

Sunday, June 3, 2012

How to Cut an Avocado

If you are like me, you're using the wrong method to remove the skin from an avocado.

You want to remove as little of the flesh just beneath the skin as possible. The reason is that the largest amount of healthy carotenoids in avocados is in the dark green flesh just below the skin.

What are carotenoids? They are the chemical pigments in fruits and vegetables that give them their yellow, orange and red colors. You can only find these pigments in plants, algae, fungi and bacteria. More importantly, carotenoids help reduce the risks of developing cancers, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration of our eye sight.

How to properly cut an avocado.
  1. Cut the avocado lengthwise around the seed
  2. You should end up with two halves of the avocado still connected by the inner seed
  3. Grab both halves and twist in opposite directions until the halves separate
  4. Remove the seed either with your fingers or a spoon
  5. I like keeping the avocado in halves, but you may prefer to cut the halves into quarters
  6. Gently remove the skin with your fingers. Usually, the skin will easily separate from the flesh leaving the healthy, dark portion of the flesh intact
  7. Sprinkle the flesh with white vinegar or lemon / lime juice to prevent discoloration of the avocado flesh
How To Eat Avocados 

Here are just a few ideas on how to add avocados to your diet:
  1. Add sliced avocados to your favorite salad
  2. Use a ripe avocado as a spread on sandwiches to replace mayonnaise
  3. I enjoy putting slices of avocado on my sandwich as a substitute for sliced tomatoes 
  4. Use a chopped avocado as a garnish for soups
  5. Mix with tofu for a healthy salad dressing
Avocado Health Benefits

It is true that avocados are high in fat. However, the fat in avocados are healthy fats.

Most of the fats found in avocados have anti-inflammatory properties. Research has shown that constant, low levels of inflammation in our bodies may be responsible for health problems such as
  1. Arthritis
  2. Cardiovascular disease
  3. Some cancers
  4. and Alzheimer's disease
That is why vegetables like avocados may help to reduce the risks of developing many of these diseases.

Over half of the fat in avocados is in the form of oleic acid, which helps to increase the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients. Oleic acid has also been shown to reduce our risks of developing heart disease.

Avocados are also high in
  1. Fiber
  2. Vitamin K
  3. Folate
  4. Vitamin C
  5. Vitamin B5
  6. Vitamin B6 and
  7. Potassium
To help you improve your overall health and fitness, add avocados to your diet plan.

Charles A. Pennison


Whole Foods: " Avocados "
California Avocado: " How to Choose and Use "
The Carotenoid Project: " The Carotenoid Story "
WebMD: " Anti-inflammatory Diet "

Monday, May 28, 2012

2 Ways To Spice Up Your Green Tea

I like the taste of green tea. But I love the taste of green tea with herbal spice.

Green tea is the least processed version of tea. Because it is not processed very much, it provides the most amount of EGCG, which is the antioxidant responsible for most of the health benefits of green tea.

Even though I like the taste of green tea, I especially enjoy the taste of green tea blended with two of my most favorite herbal spices, mint and rosemary.

Mint Green Tea

Whether it be peppermint or spearmint, my favorite, mint gives tea a fresh and vibrant taste. It also adds some vitamins A and C along with manganese to your drink.

Fresh mint is easy to grow. Actually, it may be too easy to grow. It can overtake a garden bed. I prefer to grow my mint in a small container. Either way, your favorite type of mint will provide you with fresh leaves most of the year.

Ingredients for 1 Serving
  • 1 green tea bag
  • 1 sprig of fresh mint
  • 1 cup of water
  • Sweeten to taste
  1. Put tea bag and mint in a cup
  2. Pour hot water into the cup
  3. Let it steep for 2 to 3 minutes
  4. Remove the tea bag. 
  5. You can either remove the mint sprig or leave it in the cup. You can also remove the steeped sprig, and replace it with a fresh sprig for an attractive presentation.
  6. Enjoy a great tasting tea.
Rosemary Green Tea

I just love the smell and taste of fresh rosemary.

So far, I have had good success in growing rosemary in Zone 6 of Southeastern Ohio. The plant in a sunny, garden location will provide you with plenty of sprigs during the warm months.

Some studies have shown that rosemary may be useful in improving your immune system, increasing your blood circulation and improving digestion.

Ingredients for 1 Serving
  • 1 green tea bag
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 cup of water
  • Sweeten to taste
  1. Steep rosemary sprig in hot water for 5 minutes or longer
  2. Place tea bag and sweetener in cup
  3. Pout rosemary steeped water into cup and steep for 2 to 3 minutes
  4. Remove tea bag
  5. You can place a fresh rosemary sprig in cup for presentation
  6. Enjoy this spring fresh tasting tea.
Charles A. Pennison


Whole Foods: " Green Tea "
Whole Foods: " Rosemary "
Whole Foods: " Peppermint "

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Changing The Time of Day When You Eat May Help Prevent Obesity And Diabetes

Changing the time of day when you eat, rather than what you eat, may help you maintain a healthy weight and prevent diabetes.

That is the result of a very interesting study by the researchers at the Salk's Regulatory Biology Laboratory.

This is a study that was conducted with mice, but may have relevance to humans. However, human tests will have to be conducted to make that claim.

This is what the researchers found. When mice were restricted to eating during an 8 hour period and forced to fast during the remaining 16 hours of the day, they weighed less and were healthier than mice that could eat whenever they wanted to eat.

Just think about that for a second. If you could restrict your eating to an 8 hour period of the day and fast for the remaining 16 hours, you might be able to reduce your weight and fat content, and be healthier. And you may be able to be healthier without changing what you eat. Just change when you eat, and lengthen the fasting period.

Most of us do not eat during our sleep cycle of about 8 hours. To be healthier and slimmer, just find a way to increase that period of fasting to 16 hours. You don't have to change anything else. However, if you also eat healthier foods and fast for 16 hours, you may become even more healthy.

On the other hand, if you eat around the clock and have very short fasting times, you may have difficulties in maintaining a healthy weight. Not only that, but you also increase your risks of developing diabetes, liver and heart disease.

In other words, the length of your fasting time each day is an important factor in whether or not you can maintain a healthy weight and lower your risk of diabetes, according to this new research study.

The mice that ate around the clock, compared to the mice that had a 16 hour fasting period,
  1. Weighed 28% more
  2. Developed high cholesterol
  3. Had high blood sugar
  4. developed liver damage
  5. and had diminished motor control
The researchers found that when you eat frequently without fasting, your body keeps making and storing fat, which eventually can lead to liver damage. Your liver also continues to make additional glucose, which raises your blood sugar, which can eventually develop into diabetes.

However, if you fast for several hours, your body makes less fat, glucose and cholesterol. If you regularly fast for long periods each day, your body starts burning fat cells during the fasting period. In addition, instead of producing extra glucose, your body uses that nutrition to repair damaged cells and make new DNA. The net result is lower cholesterol, less fat cells and lower blood sugar levels.

 If you are looking for ways to maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of diabetes without the use of drugs, consider increasing your fasting time every day. This means, of course, no late night snacking.

Charles A. Pennison


Salk Institute for Biological Studies: " Salk Study May Offer Drug-free Intervention To Prevent Obesity and Diabetes "

Thursday, May 17, 2012

FTC: Skechers Deceived Consumers With Shoe Ads

 It would be great to be able to increase weight loss, reduce your body fat and improve circulation and aerobic conditioning simply by wearing shoes. As usual, what appears too good to be true is too good to be true.

The FTC claims that Skechers incorrectly reported results of research studies that also included defects. They claimed people lost weight when they actually gained weight. The FTC also claims that the company failed to disclose that a researcher was paid to conduct and study on the shoes, and that the researcher was married to a Skechers marketing executive.

I always thought it strange that people would want to wear shoes that are designed to keep you off balance as you walk. But the lure of looking like a super model by wearing shoes is tempting.

If you truly want to strengthen muscle, reduce body fat and improve aerobic conditioning, you will have to
  1. eat properly and with healthy portions
  2. and stay physically active as much as possible throughout the day.
There is just no way around it. A healthy body is the result of a healthy lifestyle, and not the type of shoes that you wear.

For information on the Skechers Refund, visit .


FTC: Skechers Refunds
Los Angeles Times: " Skechers agrees to pay $50 million to settle toning-shoe cases "

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fructose And Insulin Resistance In Your Brain

A diet high in fructose can slow down your brain, and disrupt your ability to learn and remember information, according to a new UCLA study.

The results of this study are quite interesting.

They studied two groups of rats. Both groups were trained for five days to navigate a maze with one exit, and both groups were fed standard rat chow.

Following five days of training sessions, both groups were given a fructose solution as drinking water for six weeks. The second group, however, was also fed omega-3 fatty acids.

After six weeks, the group that did not eat any omega-3 fatty acids were much slower in navigating the maze that they were trained to navigate. The second group that ate omega-3 fatty acids in addition to the fructose water were much faster in navigating the maze.

It appears that fructose can block insulin's ability to regulate how brain cells use and store sugar for energy that is needed for processing thoughts, memory and learning. In other words, a high fructose diet can harm your brain's ability to function properly.

On the other hand, omega-3 fatty acids appear to counteract the negative influences of fructose on the brain.

The conclusion on brain health is that fructose is bad, and omega-3 fatty acids are good.

For optimum health, it is best to stay away from highly processed foods that contain a lot of fructose. However, we all fall to the temptation of a sugary snack from time to time. If you keep your omega-3 fatty acid levels in your blood stream on the high side by eating a lot of cold water fish, walnuts and flaxseeds, your body should be able to counteract an occasional unhealthy snack.

  1. If you want to minimize your risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  2. And you want to maintain a healthy body weight
  3. And you want to minimize your risk of developing fatty liver disease
  4. And you want your brain to function at its best,
Then stay away from foods that contain fructose, and eat a lot of cold water fish, walnuts and flaxseed.

Charles A. Pennison


UCLA News: " This is your brain on sugar: UCLA study shows high-fructose diet sabotages learning, memory "

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Meditation May Allow Your Brain To Process Information Faster

Meditation not only strengthens the connections between brain cells, but may also allow your brain to process information faster.

This is the conclusion of a study at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging.

The researchers found that people who have practiced meditation the longest in years have more folds in the outer layer of their brains. It is thought that these additional folds allow their brains to be better at processing information, making decisions and forming memories.

It is possible that genetics can be responsible for the physical differences in the brains of the people studied. However, the positive correlation between the number of years that meditation is practiced, and the additional amount of folding in the outer layers of the brain suggest that meditation is, at least, partly responsible.

I have had a difficult time staying with a meditation routine. I just find it difficult to relax and stay focused on just one thing for 15 to 30 minutes. However, that is the point of the exercise.

Those that stick with the meditation regimen become masters of introspection, awareness, emotional control and self-regulation. They have a superior ability to stay relaxed and focused. Like anything else, it takes years of practice, practice and more practice.

If you can continue to do meditation techniques everyday for years, you not only develop superior self-control, but also improve the function and health of your brain.

The government is now attempting to find medical ways to prevent brain diseases such as Alzheimer's. Recent research, however, suggest that the best way to improve and maintain brain health are
  1. A daily routine of physical exercise
  2. Adhering to a Mediterranean type of diet and a high omega-3 content diet
  3. And practice daily meditation techniques.
Charles A. Pennison


UCLA Newsroom: " Evidence builds that meditation strengthens the brain "

Monday, May 14, 2012

Don't Throw Away Good Vegetable and Fruit Broths

When you steam or boil fruits and vegetables, do you keep the liquid?

The broth that you are left with when you steam or boil vegetables or fruits is full of vitamins, minerals and healthy anti-oxidants. Don't throw this liquid away.

I like to use the vegetable broths for soups and beans. For fruit broths, I use them when I cook oatmeal or barley for breakfast. It is a great way to add additional nutrients to your meals, and it saves water.

So, get into the habit of saving and using those broths for future meals. After all, why use plain water when you can use flavored broths for your soups, beans and oatmeal.

Charles A. Pennison

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Should Exercise Be Part of Cardiac Rehab For The Elderly?

Many physicians and insurance companies believe that cardiac rehab does not help the elderly. Are they right?

No according to Dr. Stephan Gielen, Deputy Director of Cardiology at the University Hospital, Martin-Luther-University of Halle, Germany.

The results of a new study, published by the American Heart Association, concludes that exercise, regardless of the age of the heart patient,
  1. Counteracts muscle breakdown
  2. Increases strength and
  3. Reduces inflammation caused by aging and heart failure.
This study makes it clear that the benefits of exercise for heart failure patients of any age are less muscle-wasting, and an increased ability to do more exercise over time.

How Was The Study Conducted?

 The researchers used 60 heart-failure patients and 60 healthy volunteers. Half of the group was 55 years and younger, while the other half was 65 years and older. Half of the group underwent four weeks of supervised aerobic training, while the other half did not exercise.

The exercised group underwent 20 minutes of aerobic exercise each day, for five days a week in addition to one 60 minute group exercise session. The results showed that the heart-failure patients 55 and under increased their peak oxygen uptake by 25%, while the older group increased their peak oxygen uptake by 27%.

The findings of this study indicate that exercise is therapeutic even for elderly heart failure patients when it comes to reducing muscle breakdown and wasting associated with heart failure.

Of course, it would be better to not experience heart failure or a heart attack in the first place.

How To Reduce Your Heart Attack Risk

There are certain controllable risk factors that can reduce your risk of a heart attack or heart failure.

You can
  1. Avoid smoking
  2. Keep your blood pressure at healthy levels
  3. Keep your cholesterol levels low
  4. Reduce your weight to healthy levels and
  5. Stay physically active
 Start today to keep your risk low of ever having to experience a heart attack or heart failure by keeping yourself healthy and fit. If you do experience heart problems, work with your health professionals to start the appropriate exercise fitness routine and cardiac rehab program to prevent muscle breakdown and wasting associated with heart failure.And this is true of everyone of any age.

Charles A. Pennison


American Heart Association: " Exercise Slows Muscle Wasting From Age And Heart Failure "
American Heart Association: " Heart Attack Risk Assessment "

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Is Fructose Really Just Sugar?

Sugar is just Sugar, right?

Not really, according to the researchers at the Duke University Medical Center.

Increased fructose consumption may increase the risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease for the obese and those with diabetes.

What is fructose?

Fructose is a type of sugar that is found in many plants. It is also the sweetest tasting of the most available type of sugars.

Sources with the highest concentrations of fructose are
  1. High Fructose Corn Syrup
  2. Honey
  3. Molasses
  4. And Dried Figs
Fructose is also the most common form of sugar added to many processed foods, candies, sodas and fruit juices.

What is Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)?

It is a condition that involves the accumulation of fat in the liver without alcohol abuse. Overtime, NAFLD can lead to more serious health conditions of hepatitis, liver failure and death.

Being overweight is a risk factor for NAFLD along with a family history of fatty liver. And now, the results of this new research suggest that a high consumption of fructose, especially for the obese, is also a risk factor for NAFLD.

Why is Fructose Different from the other sugars?

The researchers at Duke indicate that fructose, unlike other sugars, requires a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in order to be metabolized in your liver. ATP is a molecule in every cell in your body that chemically stores energy. When your cells need energy to do mechanical work, it gets that energy from ATP.

If you consume large amounts of fructose from processed foods, it can deplete the amount of ATP in your liver. This is especially true for the obese and those with diabetes, since they may already have an inability to produce adequate amounts of ATP. With the addition of fructose, their livers can easily be depleted of necessary energy to function properly.

This, in turn, can lead to the development of fatty liver disease and hepatitis.

This is just another reason to avoid processed foods with added fructose, especially if you are obese and have diabetes. Focus on eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, and staying away from sweetened juices and sodas to improve your overall health and fitness.

Charles A. Pennison


Duke Health: " Increased Fructose Consumption May Deplete Cellular Energy in Patients with Obesity and Diabetes "
Fatty Liver Diets: " Fatty Liver "
Wikipedia: " Adenosine Triphosphate "
Wikipedia: " Fructose "
" Is Fructose Stealing Energy From Your Liver? "

Monday, May 7, 2012

Can Diabetes Be Prevented or Cured?

Is there anything that an obese patient can do to prevent or possibly cure themselves of diabetes?

Yes according to a study presented at the International Congress of Endocrinology/European Congress of Endocrinology in Florence, Italy.

This study states that lowering your BMI by 5 units can significantly reduce your risk of developing diabetes. And severely obese patients can possibly rid themselves of diabetes by reducing their weight enough to reduce their BMI by 5 units.

What is BMI?

BMI is an acronym that stands for Body Mass Index.

It is a correlation based on your weight and height to identify potential weight related health problems. The BMI number is categorized as
  1. Severly Underweight if it is less than 16.4
  2. Underweight if it is from 16.5 to 18.4
  3. Normal if it is from 18.5 to 24.9
  4. Overweight if it is from 25 to 29.9
  5. Obese Class I if it is from 30 to 34.9
  6. Obese Class II if it is from 35 to 39.9 and
  7. Obese Class III if it is 40 and over.
Results of the Study

For patients who did not lose weight during the 2 and 10 year follow-up, the diabetes incidence rates were
  1. 6.5% for patients with a BMI less than 35
  2. 7.7% for patients with a BMI between 35 and 40
  3. and 9.3% for patients with a BMI greater than 40.
For patients who lost at least 5 BMI units, the diabetes incidence rates were
  1. 2.4% for patients with a BMI between 35 and 40
  2. 2% for patients with a BMI between 40 and 45 and 
  3. 3.4% for patients with a BMI greater than 45.
As you can see, lowering your weight enough to reduce your BMI by 5 units can significantly reduce the likelihood that you will develop diabetes.

How Much Weight Represents 5 BMI Units?

Losing 5 BMI units is not easy, but it can be accomplished. However, it does take dedication by the patient to change their lifestyle significantly for the rest of their lives. With the help of your doctor, dietician or support group, it can be done.

The average man in the US is 5' 10", and the average women in the US is 5' 5". For the average obese man to reduce his BMI by 5 units, he would have to lose 35 pounds. The average obese women would have to lose 31 pounds.

5 Habits of People Who Have Succeeded at Long-Term Weight Loss

  1. They have modified their food intake in some way to lose weight. Basically, they eat fewer calories. On average, they eat about 1400 calories each day.
  2. They increased their physical activity with walking being their favorite activity. On average, they exercise 1 hour a day.
  3. They eat breakfast everyday. Research has shown that a protein rich breakfast will help you snack less often.
  4. They weigh themselves at least once a week. Actually, research at the University of Minnesota determined that people who weighted themselves every day lost twice as much weight as people who weighted themselves less often.
  5. They watch less than 10 hours of TV each week. This helps them to stay more physically and socially active.
In addition, these successful weight losers limited their fast food intake, cut back on sugars and sweets, and ate more fruits and vegetables.

It does take a lot of work and a dedication to completely change your lifestyle to reduce your weight by 5 BMI units, but research has shown that it is worth the effort to drastically improve your health and fitness and be free of diabetes for life.

Charles A. Pennison


ScienceDaily: " Losing Weight When Obese Can Prevent or Cure Diabetes "
Disabled World: " Height Chart of Men and Women in Different Countries "
Exercise-to-a-healthier-life: " BMI Calculator "
Health and Fitness Articles Blog: " 5 Important Habits of People Who Have Lost Weight and Kept It Off For Over a Year "

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Is A Healthy Lifestyle Worth The Effort?

Does living a healthy lifestyle lead to a healthier life?

Apparently it does, according to a study reported in the American Journal of Cardiology.

This study, led by Dr. Owais Khawaja of the Harvard Medical School, focused on men who had at least one parent that suffered a heart attack before the age of 55. This is considered to be premature heart disease, and children of such parents are at a higher risk of premature heart failure themselves.

The data for this study is based on the Physicians' Health Study, which has followed over 20,000 US male doctors since the 1980s.

The results of the study indicates that men with a family history of premature heart attacks were less likely to suffer a premature heart attack themselves if they lived a healthy lifestyle.

How Did They Live A Healthy Lifestyle?

They adhered to at least 3 healthy, modifiable lifestyle habits. Modifiable lifestyle habits include
  1. Maintaining a healthy body weight
  2. Not smoking
  3. Regular physical exercise
  4. Moderate alcohol consumption
  5. Eating a healthy breakfast regularly
  6. And a high consumption of fruits and vegetables
Study Results

Of the genetically-at-risk men living a healthy lifestyle, the rate of heart failure is 7 cases for each 10,000 men each year. This is in comparison with genetically-at-risk men living an unhealthy lifestyle, which have a heart failure rate of 14 cases for each 10,000 men each year.

This indicates that even with a genetic predisposition to heart failure, a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce your chances of having a heart attack.

In conclusion, if you truly want a longer and healthier life, you must adhere to a healthy lifestyle.



Reuters: " Even at higher genetic heart risk, lifestyle helps "
The American Journal of Cardiology: " Usefulness of Desirable Lifestyle Factors "
JAMA: " Relation Between Modifiable Lifestyle Factors and Lifetime Risk of Heart Failures "

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Changing Your Diet May Lower Your Alzheimer's Disease Risk

Can a change in your diet lower your Alzheimer's Disease risk?

The answer may be yes, according to Yian Gu, an associate research scientist at Columbia University in New York City.

Past research has shown that you can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease by 65% by eating a Mediterranean type of diet and exercising regularly. Since the Mediterranean type of diet is low in red meats and high in fish, nuts and vegetables, this study focused on the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the diets of dementia free seniors over the age of 65.

One of the characteristics of having a high risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease, is a high blood level of beta amyloid protein. This protein is a major component of amyloid deposits in the brain, which is a hallmark of the disease.

After studying 1,200 dementia free seniors over the age of 65, the results indicate that "regardless of age, gender, ethnicity and educational background, the more omega-3 fatty acids consumed, the lower the beta amyloid levels found in the blood." These healthy seniors got most of their omega-3 fatty acids from fish, poultry, margarine, nuts and salad dressing.

In other words, eating more foods high in omega-3 fatty acids reduces the amount of beta amyloid protein in your blood stream, which in turn reduces your risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease.

Alzheimer's does occur in my family over the age of 70. This is one of the reasons that I have changed my diet to eating more cold water fish. I now seldom eat red meats, and consume 3 servings a week of Brisling Sardines. The fish that are highest in omega-3 fats and low in mercury are sardines, herring and wild salmon.

Other foods high in omega-3 fats are
  1. Ground Flax seed
  2. Chia Seeds
  3. Walnuts
  4. And cooked soybeans
Omega-3 fatty acids are not only good for your heart, but also good for your brain's health and fitness. Eat more foods high in omega-3 fatty acids and live long and prosper.



Doctor's Lounge: " Eating More Foods Rich in Omega-3s May Lower Alzheimer's Risk: Study "
The FASEB Journal: " Role of the beta-amyloid protein in Alzheimer's Disease "
WebMD: " Beta-Amyloid May Identify Alzheimer's Disease "

Monday, April 30, 2012

A Component of Oregano Kills Prostate Cancer Cells

If you love oregano and have an above average risk for prostate cancer, you are in luck. A component of oregano kills prostate cancer cells.

That is what researcher Dr. Supriya Bavadekar of the Long Island University is reporting at a conference in San Diego.

Carvacrol appears to cause the death of prostate cancer cells, which is otherwise known as "cell suicide." It is a component of the essential oils in oregano and thyme.  More research will be conducted to determine exactly how carvacrol goes about killing these cancer cells.

Since the herbs oregano and thyme are widely used spices and considered safe for human consumption, the use of its oil to kill prostate cancer cells is a significant finding in the fight against cancer. Natural remedies for serious diseases is always a significant breakthrough, since these potential cures are typically cheaper than manufactured drugs, and have less to no dangerous side-effects.

I personally don't like oregano, but I may be developing a taste for this spice, since I come from a family that has an above average risk for developing prostate cancer. There was a time when you could not get me to eat one sardine, but I now eat three servings a week of this little and nutrient packed fish. So I know that I can learn to appreciate the taste of oregano.

Fresh oregano is less pungent than the dried version. It complements most tomato sauce and meat recipes. The flowers are also edible, and can be used in salads.

The plant is fairly easy to grow, and is hardy from US planting zones 5 to 9. It can be grown in containers, or used as a ground cover in sunny gardens. It has few pest problems.

So, include fresh oregano in your arsenal of prostate cancer fighters, and frequently use this healthy spice to improve your health and fitness.



Long Island University: "LIU Study: Component In Oregano Kills Prostate Cancer Cells"
Wikipedia: "Carvacrol"
Herb Expert: "Cooking with Oregano" "Growing Oregano"

Friday, April 27, 2012

Build Muscle With Light Weights and More Repetitions

Building muscle with light weights and more repetitions is just as effective as heavier weights and less repetitions.

That is the conclusion of a study conducted by researcher Nicholas Burd, PhD of the Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands.

This has been my preferred method of strength training as well. I have always felt that I can reduce my risk of injury by using lighter weights with more repetitions. And this study indicates that this method of strength training is good for building muscle around an injury where heavy weights may make the injury worse.

This method of strength training is especially effective for
  1. the frail elderly
  2. an injured athlete
  3. or someone who does not have access to heavier weights
To be as effective as using heavier weights, however, you must keep doing the exercise to the point of exercise-induced fatigue. In other words, the last two repetitions should be very hard to complete.

 So if you don't like using heavy weights, or don't have access to heavy weights, this method of building muscle with light weights and more repetitions is a way for you to improve your muscle fitness levels.



 WebMd: " High Reps With Low Weights Builds Muscle, Too "

May: National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

A message from Michaela Thayer.

Good afternoon Charles,

On behalf of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, I’d love for you and your readers to help us celebrate National Physical Fitness and Sports Month beginning in May. This month serves as an opportunity to highlight the importance of physical activity and encourage Americans of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to get and stay active.

Here are three ways you can get involved in National Physical Fitness and Sports Month:

Join us for the PCFSN Annual Meeting
PCFSN holds its annual meeting each May in Washington, D.C., to kick off National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. PCFSN's celebrity Council members, including NFL Quarterback Drew Brees and Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes, discuss the Council's current physical activity outreach initiatives and progress toward 2012 goals. Watch LIVE at at 10am ET on May 1.

Participate in the conversation on Twitter
Did you know that physical activity is anything that gets your body moving? Are you getting enough physical activity each day? How has physical activity benefited your life? Log on to Twitter, follow @FitnessGov, and join in on the discussion using the hash tag #FitnessMonth. Follow us so that you are among the first to know about our special Twitter chat on fitness that will be announced in the coming weeks.

Pledge to earn the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (Activity + Nutrition)
Take the pledge this May to sign up for the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (Activity + Nutrition) – commonly known as PALA+. PALA+ encourages youth to be active for 60 minutes a day and adults for 30 minutes a day, five days a week for six out of eight weeks. You also commit to one new healthy eating goal each week – like filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables or making half the grains you eat whole grains – and then build upon that goal each week. It’s a great way to motivate your physical activity and eating routines. Learn more at

We hope you’ll join us in celebrating National Physical Fitness and Sports Month! Please let me know if you have any questions.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Simple Method To Improve Your Heart Health

This simple method to improve your heart health has nothing to do with exercise or a healthy diet. So, how do we improve our heart health?   

 By developing a positive psychological attitude that includes optimism, life satisfaction and happiness.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that the most optimistic people reduced their risk of a heart attack by 50%. This is in comparison to people who are less optimistic.

This is important since heart disease is still the leading cause of death in both men and women.

Not only do psychological assets like optimism and positive emotions slow the progression of cardiovascular diseases, but people with these positive thoughts tend to engage in healthier behaviors. These optimistic people tend to exercise, eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep. They also have lower blood pressures, a healthy blood fat profile and have a healthy body weight.

How can we develop a more positive attitude?

The first thing you should do is pay more attention to your thoughts. You may be thinking in negative terms without realizing it.

For example,
  • Instead of thinking that something has no chance of working, try believing that you can make it work. 
  • Instead of thinking that something can't be done because you have never done it before, think of it as a new opportunity to learn something new. 
  • Instead of thinking that you will never get better at some task, convince yourself to keep trying until you get it right.
I'll never forget the first time that I tried to make homemade bread. It came out of the oven as a white and very hard brick. I didn't give up though. It took me several years of trying, but I finally made a rather good looking and tasty loaf of bread. Now, several decades later, I have no idea how to make that hard brick that I made the first time.

 Next, try surrounding yourself with positive scents and sounds. This, of course is a personal choice. I like vanilla and LeAnn Rimes music.

Learn to laugh and have fun. I have gotten in a habit of laughing whenever I drop or break something. Getting mad never fixes anything.

It becomes easier to have a positive attitude if you surround yourself with positive people.

Lastly, consider meditation. You will not find a happier group of people than those who practice meditation on a daily basis. The trick is to think of one thing, like a word, a prayer or your breath for about 5 minutes. Then,
  1. Relax your body
  2. Pay attention to your breath as your belly rises to allow you to slowly breath in
  3. Let your belly slowly deflate to exhale, while still paying attention to your breath
  4. If your mind starts to wander, just bring it back to paying attention to your breathing
  5. Don't stop thinking. Just let your thoughts stay focused on your breathing or prayer.
  6. Do this for 5 minutes every day
If you consciously practice positive thinking every day, you will greatly improve your heart's health and you overall fitness.



Harvard School of Public Health: " Positive Feelings May Help Protect Cardiovascular Health "
CDC: " Leading Cause of Death "
Mayo Clinic: " Positive Thinking: Reduce stress by eliminating negative self-talk "
PsychCentral: " 15 Tips to Boost Your Well-Being and Happiness "
Emotional Toolkit: " The Meditative Arts "

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Reversing Diabetes

Diabetes can be reversed, according to new research findings.

Below is a summary of testimonials by government officials, doctors, researchers and diabetes sufferers who are now demonstrating ways to not only prevent diabetes but reverse the disease.

Ann Albright, PhD, RD of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - " Preventing Diabetes "

Dr. Albright states that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes for those at a high risk for diabetes or pre-diabetics can be reduced by 58% by following a structured lifestyle program which includes
  1. A modest weight loss of 5 to 7%
  2. Changing to a healthy diet
  3. And increasing physical activity.
WebMD - " Can You Reverse Type 2 Diabetes? "

This is the story of Karen Parrish, who knew that she was at risk for type 2 diabetes due to a family history of the disease on both sides of her family. Still, she did not live the proper lifestyle to prevent the onset of diabetes.

As she states, "Knowing what you have to do is not the problem, the problem is doing it."

Karen did not change her lifestyle until she realized that the disease was damaging her eyes.

These are the steps that her doctor recommends:
  1. Lower your carbohydrate consumption
  2. Skip the starchy vegetables like peas, corn, and carrots
  3. Eat a lot of leafy vegetables
  4. Eat poultry rather than red meat
  5. Eat cold water fish twice a week
  6. Buy breads that have a lot of fiber
  7.  If you are overweight, expect to cut 700 to 1000 calories from your diet
  8. Exercise to build muscle, stimulate insulin and control blood sugar. Your goal should be to exercise 150 minutes each week. 
  9. Stay motivated to stick with your new lifestyle plan by setting achievable goals
CNN Health - " Reversing Diabetes Is Possible "

This is the story of Jonathan Legg who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the age of 39. Jonathan decided to try to reverse his diabetes with lifestyle changes rather than drugs.

Jonathan has been able to lower his blood sugar below the diabetic range, but as his doctor states, "It takes a real dedication for the rest of their lives."

With an exercise routine and a change in diet, Jonathan has lost 40 pounds of excess weight. In addition to exercise, he also cut back substantially on alcohol, sugars and carbohydrate consumption. He also increased his consumption of protein and fiber.

Huffpost Healthy Living - " New Research Finds Diabetes Can Be Reversed "

Dr. Mark Hyman talks about a new research study indicating that just a change in diet can reverse type 2 diabetes.Not only that, but the study showed the disease can be reversed in 1 to 8 weeks.

According to the study, "A dramatic diet change (protein shake, low glycemic load, plant-based low-calorie diet but no exercise) in diabetics reversed most features of diabetes within one week and all features by eight weeks."

 To reverse diabetes, Dr. Hyman recommends:
  1. Eating a low glycemic load, high fiber and plant based diet consisting of vegetables, beans, nuts, some whole grains, fruit and lean animal protein.
  2. An exercise routine that consist of 30-minutes of aerobic exercise 4 to 5 times each week, and strength training for 20-minutes 3 times each week.
  3. Take multivitamins, fish oil, vitamin D, chromium and alpha lipoic acid supplements.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


What is diabetes, what causes it and can it be prevented?

In the United States, about 26 million people have diabetes, which is 8% of the population. Type 2 diabetes makes up the majority or 90% of the total number of cases.

What is diabetes?

It is a disease that is characterized by high blood sugar.

Normally, our blood sugar or glucose levels is controlled by a hormone called insulin. Under normal conditions, when our blood glucose levels increase, insulin is produced and released by our pancreas. The released insulin then allows glucose to enter cells where the glucose is converted into energy. This energy in turn is used by the cell to survive and do work, such as allowing muscles to move or making new cells for growth.

Diabetes and the resulting increase in blood sugar occurs when
  1. Our pancreas no longer produces insulin
  2. Or, our pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin
  3. Or, the insulin produced no longer is capable of allowing glucose to enter our cells for processing. This is known as insulin resistance.
 Types of Diabetes

The two types of diabetes are
  1. Type 1 - this type is also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. This type occurs when our pancreas produces little or no insulin for glucose metabolism. This condition may occur due to genetics or an exposure to some viruses.
  2. Type 2 - this type is also known as adult-onset or non insulin-dependent diabetes. This condition is the result of either your pancreas not producing enough insulin or your cells are resisting the effects of insulin (insulin resistance). 
Causes of Type 2 Diabetes

The exact cause is unknown. However, contributing factors to developing Type 2 diabetes are an excess weight due to a poor diet and physical inactivity.

Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors

These risk factors include
  1. Excess Weight- this is the primary risk factor. This is especially true if you are overweight due to a poor diet. If your pancreas has to constantly work to produce more and more insulin, over time, the cells in your pancreas responsible for producing insulin decrease in number to the point where not enough insulin can be produced by your pancreas. Also, if you have excess fat cells in you body, your cells become more and more resistant to insulin. The net result is a constant increase in your blood sugar.
  2. Abdominal Fat - this is also known as visceral fat. We joke about the beer belly physique, however, large amounts of visceral fat increases your risk for type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
  3. Physical Inactivity - adhering to a regular physical fitness routine helps you control your weight, lower your glucose levels and helps your cells to be more responsive to insulin.
  4. Family History - your risk increases if your parents or siblings have type 2 diabetes.
  5. Race - for unknown reasons, blacks, Hispanics, Asian-Americans and Native Americans have a slightly higher risk for diabetes than American Whites.
  6. Age - your risk increases with age, especially after age 45.
  7. Gestational Diabetes - if you develop gestational diabetes when you were pregnant, your risk for type 2 diabetes increases.
How To Prevent Diabetes

Changing to a more healthy lifestyle greatly increases your chances of preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes.
  1. Eating a healthier diet - stay away from alcohol, fatty foods and carefully watch your carbohydrate consumption. Eat foods high in fiber. Fiber is known to help your body control blood glucose levels. Eat a Mediterranean type of diet that is high in vegetables, fruits and whole grains. 
  2. Get more exercise - do moderate intensity exercises 30-minutes a day for at least 5 days a week. This can include a brisk walk, cycling or swimming.
  3. Lose excess weight - even a 5% reduction in your weight can significantly reduce your risk of developing diabetes. Aim to lower your weight by 1 pound a week, until you reach your healthy target weight.
  4. Cinnamon has also been shown to help type 2 diabetics normalize their blood sugar levels. Try to use 1 teaspoon of cinnamon each day on fruit and cereals.
This change in lifestyle must be a life long dedication in order to prevent diabetes, and improve your health and fitness levels.

Foods High In Fiber

The following foods are high in fiber and will help you control your blood sugar and weight:
  1. Raspberries, pears and apples
  2. Whole grains like whole wheat, hulled barley, oat bran, steel cut oatmeal and brown rice
  3. Peas, lentils and black beans
  4. Artichoke, broccoli, turnip greens, sweet potatoes, eggplant, okra and Brussels sprouts


Mayo Clinic: " Type 2 Diabetes "
Mayo Clinic: " Type 1 Diabetes "
Mayo Clinic: " High-fiber foods "
MedicineNet: " Diabetes Mellitus "
CNN: " Reversing Diabetes Is Possible "
Oregon State University: " Fiber "
American Diabetes Association: " Diabetes Statistics "
Whole Foods: " Ground Cinnamon

Friday, April 13, 2012

Did You Know That Proper Breathing Techniques Can Reduce Your Blood Pressure

Do you know how to breathe properly?

Most of us simply do not know the proper breathing techniques to keep ourselves healthy and fit.

For most of my life, I thought that you should hold your stomach in and expand your chest to fill your lungs with as much air as possible. Believe it or not, this is the wrong way to breathe.

We should actually allow our stomach area to expand as we breathe in. This action lowers the diaphragm, which in turn allows more air to fill the lower parts of your lungs. This is important since the lowest part of your lungs contains blood with the highest oxygen content.

I have also learned that slow, deep breathes can help you reduce your blood pressure for low periods of time. Research has shown that taking fewer than 10 breaths a minute does reduce blood pressures in people who have mastered this slow breathing technique.

Researchers are not sure why this works, but they do have a theory.

When we take frequent, shallow breaths, we tend to hold our breath for a short period of time. This diverts more blood to our brain, which in turn changes our blood chemistry to a more acidic nature. This increase in blood acidity makes our kidneys less efficient at removing sodium from our bodies. This in turn increases our blood pressure over an extended period of time.

On the other hand, taking longer, deep breaths, maintains a more proper blood chemistry, which in turn allows our kidneys to remove excess sodium and reduce our blood pressure.

Proper Breathing Technique

  1. Hold your chin up as you breathe in to keep the passage way to your lungs as open as possible
  2. Place your hands over your abdomen to make sure that you are expanding your abdomen area as you breathe in
  3. Try to reduce your breathing rate to 10 breaths per minute or less.
  4. Slowly breath in by allowing your abdomen to expand
  5. Once your lungs are full, slowly breathe out without holding your breath during the entire cycle
  6. Repeat this exercise for 10 to 15 minutes each day
  7. Eventually, your body will naturally start to breathe properly all the time
This is a great meditation exercise that will reap lots of health and fitness benefits. The best benefit in achieving the proper breathing technique is lower blood pressure. With a lower blood pressure comes the lower risk of heart disease and strokes. And all you have to do is breathe properly.



The Telegraph: " Why do so few of us know how to breathe properly? "
MSNBC: " Breathe deep to lower blood pressure, doc says "

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Gut Flora May Affect Your Mood

What is a possible cause of moodiness, paranoia, hostility and aggressive behavior?

It may be an imbalance in your gut flora.

What is gut flora?

It is the group of microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. They include things like bacteria, fungi and protozoa. Bacteria, however, has the largest population, and are the most influential microorganisms in your gut. Most people have at least 300 different species of bacteria in their digestive tract.

Some are considered "good bacteria" while others are considered "bad bacteria." When the good and bad bacteria are in their proper balance in our guts, they perform essential health roles such as
  1. Synthesizing and excreting vitamins
  2. Prevent the spread of "bad organisms"
  3. Stimulate our immune system
  4. Metabolize drugs
  5. Produce gut-nourishing fatty acids
  6. Produce antibodies
  7. And help maintain a healthy gut lining
However, when these organisms get out of balance, they can
  1. Increase the risk of colon cancer
  2. Interfere with the absorption of nutrients
  3. Increase the risk of inflammatory bowel disease
  4. Increase the risk of irritable bowel disease
  5. And may even cause personality changes like paranoia, hostility and aggressive behavior.
Additional Research

Researchers at the University College Cork have discovered that mice fed a "good bacteria" or probiotic bacterium called Lactobacillus rhamnosus, which is common in yogurts and dairy products, can have a positive effect on mood. This probiotic in their guts tended to reduce levels of stress, anxiety and depression.

It is not totally understood how gut flora can influence chemical messengers in the brains of the tested mice. However, there is a direct communication path between our digestive tract and our brains via the vagus nerve.

To test whether or not the digestive tract of the test mice was communicating with the mice brains, the researchers severed the vagus nerve of the mice. After the nerve was severed, the probiotic no longer had an effect on the chemical signals in the mice brains.

This suggest that "good bacteria" in the guts of the mice were somehow having a positive effect in the brains of the mice.

More research is required to determine if "good bacteria" has the same positive effect on mood in humans.

 How Do We Maintain A Healthy Gut Flora Balance?

The typical American diet of animal proteins and refined carbohydrates tend to cause an unhealthy imbalance in our digestive tract bacteria. On the other hand, a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, complex carbohydrates and less animal proteins helps create a healthy balance in our gut flora.

So, to maintain a healthy gut flora to improve your overall health and fitness and mood
  1. Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and complex carbohydrates
  2. Eat less animal proteins
  3. Eat less sugar and corn fructose
  4. Eat more pre-biotic and probitoic rich foods like yogurt, dairy products, kefir and sauerkraut.


Discover Magazine: "From Guts To Brains - Eating probiotic Bacteria Changes Behavior in Mice"
Wikipedia: Gut Flora
Huffpost Healthy Living: "The Keys to Maintaining a Healthy Gut"
UCC: Probiotic Bacteria Lessens Depression

Sunday, April 8, 2012

How To Improve Your Arterial Health and Knee Muscular Strength As You Age

What physical activity is proving to be an excellent way to maintain the health of your arteries and improve your muscular strength as you age?

Tai Chi

A new study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology has found that people who regularly practice Tai Chi have significantly higher arterial compliance, and greater muscular strength in both their knee extensors and flexors. These results are in comparison of people who do not practice Tai Chi.

Having greater arterial compliance is a fancy way of saying that Tai Chi practitioners have less stiffness in their arteries. Our arteries have a tendency to stiffen as we age. This can lead to increased blood pressure and reduced blood flow throughout our bodies. Improving arterial compliance is a way to keep our bodies young.

What is Tai Chi?

About twelve years ago, I had the opportunity to live in the Shanghai area for 13 months.

It was always interesting to watch the groups of elderly Chinese who would assemble on the sidewalks and go through their slow and deliberate, choreographed Tai Chi moves. Not only is it a great exercise program, but it is also a great way to stay socially connected with like-minded friends.

Tai Chi is actually "Tai Chi Chuan." It literally means "Supreme Ultimate Fist."

It is a type of Chinese martial art practiced for defense training. However, most practice the slow movement form of Tai Chi for its health benefits.

Tai Chi Benefits

According to the lead investigator, Dr. William Tsang, Tai Chi practitioners in comparison to those who do not practice this martial art form
  1. Have better arterial compliance
  2. Have better knee muscular strength
Dr. Tsang also states that Tai Chi has the added benefits of being able to be practiced anywhere and any time without the need for a gym or gym equipment. It is a great exercise program for the elderly for both vascular health and muscular strength improvements.

Tai Chi DVD

Element: Tai Chi for Beginners (



 ScienceDaily: "Older Subjects Who Regularly Practice Tai Chi Found To Have Better Arterial Compliance and Greater Muscle Strength"
Wikipedia: "Compliance"
Wikipedia: "Tai Chi Chuan"

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Dietary Habits of Chinese Breast Cancer Survivors

What do Chinese Breast Cancer survivors have in common concerning their dietary habits?

They eat a lot of cruciferous vegetables.

This is the conclusion of a study conducted by the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and the Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

What are Cruciferous Vegetables?

The Chinese women that were studied ate primarily
  1. Turnips
  2. Chinese cabbage or bok choy and their greens
  3. White broccoli
  4. And Brussels sprouts
Cruciferous Vegetables that are common in the US are
  1. Broccoli
  2. Cabbage
  3. Kale
  4. Collard greens
  5. Brussels sprouts
  6. Kohlabi
  7. Cauliflower
  8. Mustard greens
  9. Turnip greens
  10. Watercress and garden cress
Study Results

The researchers found that the amount of these vegetables that were consumed by Chinese women in the first 36 months after being diagnosed with breast cancer was associated with
  1. A reduced risk of total mortality
  2. Breast cancer specific mortality
  3. And a reduced risk of disease recurrence
The women who ate the most of these vegetable each day had
  1. A 62% reduced risk of total mortality
  2. A 62% reduced risk of breast cancer mortality
  3. And a 35% reduced risk of breast cancer recurrence
This is in comparison with the women who ate the least of cruciferous vegetables.

This study just adds to the growing amount of evidence that making cruciferous vegetables and dark green leafy vegetables the major part of your diet not only reduces your risk of breast and other cancers, but also is important for you overall health and fitness.



Vanderbilt University Medical Center: " Eating cruciferous vegetables may improve breast cancer survival "
Whole Foods: " Feeling Great with Cruciferous Vegetables "

Friday, March 30, 2012

Two Essential Ingredients In Preventing Kidney Stones

Water and one surprising ingredient are essential in preventing Kidney Stones.

You probably guessed that consuming too little water can lead to the formation of kidney stones. But did you know that too little calcium in your diet can also lead to the formation of kidney stones?

And the important thing about calcium in preventing kidney stones is that it needs to come from a food source, and not from supplements. Apparently, calcium from supplements did not prevent the formation of kidney stones.

This is the conclusion of researchers from the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Research Conclusions 

Their research is based on following 78,293 US women for an average of eight years. Their research conclusions include:
  1. The women with the highest calcium consumption in their diets were 28% less likely to develop kidney stones compared to the women with the lowest consumption of calcium.
  2. Women with the highest consumption of fluids per day had a 20% lower risk of developing stones than the women with the lowest fluid intake.
  3. Women who had the highest levels of sodium in their diet had a whopping 61% higher risks of developing kidney stones than the women with the lowest levels of sodium in their diet. 
Best Ways of Preventing Kidney Stones

Based on their research conclusions, the best ways to prevent the formation of kidney stones are to
  1. Eat foods high in calcium content
  2. Stay away from calcium supplements
  3. Drink sufficient fluids every day
  4. Reduce your sodium intake
Foods Highest in Calcium Content

These foods have the highest calcium content according to Whole Foods
  1. Yogurt - 44.8% RDV
  2. Tofu - 39.6% RDV
  3. Sesame Seeds - 35.1% RDV
  4. Sardines - 34.6% RDV
  5. Milk - 29.2% RDV
  6. Collard Greens - 26.6% RDV
  7. Cheese - 22.1% RDV
  8. Turnip Greens - 19.7% RDV
How Much Fluids Per Day?

Every one is a little different. The best way to determine how much fluids you should consume each day is to look at your urine. If it is pale in color, your fluid intake is adequate. If it is dark in color, you should consume more fluids.

How To Reduce Your Sodium Intake

Besides using less salt, you should also reduce your intake of fast foods, processed meats and canned foods. You can also use Lite Salt.

So, eat more foods high in calcium content, take in adequate amounts of fluids and reduce your sodium consumption to improve your kidney's health and fitness by preventing the formation of kidney stones.



Reuters: " Too Little Calcium, Water Linked to Kidney Stones "
Whole Foods: Calcium

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How To Improve Your Brain Health

These 4 factors can help you improve your brain health, and may help prevent dementia and Alzheimer's Disease.

Research is showing that making better lifestyle choices can improve your brain health. These simple lifestyle changes can also protect your brain from the onset of Alzheimer's Disease.

The 4 lifestyle choices that greatly benefit your brain are
  1. Staying physically active
  2. A healthy diet
  3. Exercises for your brain
  4. And staying socially active.
Physical Activity and a Healthy Diet

Research by Dr. Scarmeas and his colleagues at the New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center have shown that physical activity and a healthy diet can greatly reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer's Disease.

Evidence of the research is suggesting that lifestyle changes that promote heart and vascular health also promotes brain health.

Suggestions for physical activity that promotes heart and brain health are
  1. Maintaining a regular physical fitness routine
  2. Perform moderate-intensity aerobic exercises for 30 minutes a day for at least 5 days a week
  3. Perform weight resistance training for muscle strength at least 3 days a week, every other day.
What is a Healthy Diet?

The diet that best promotes brain and heart health is the Mediterranean type of diet. The Mediterranean type of diet is low in carbohydrates and saturated fats. It is high in
  1. Dark colored fruits and vegetables like blueberries, raspberries, spinach, red cabbage and broccoli.
  2. Cold water fish like salmon and sardines
  3. Nuts like walnuts and pecans
  4. Healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil
  5. Seeds like flaxseeds and chia seeds
Exercises For Your Brain

Constantly learning new things are the best exercises for your brain. This can include
  1. Learning a new language
  2. Learning to play a new musical instrument
  3. Frequently reading a new book
  4. Crossword puzzles
  5. Playing chess or checkers with different people
  6. Learning new games
Just keep challenging your knowledge and brain.

Staying Socially Active

One of the things that people with healthy brains do is remaining socially active with family and friends. Keep in touch with people that you know, and find ways to make new friends. Volunteering is also a good way to stay socially active.

Join a book club or some other type of club that includes activities that you enjoy.

Make these changes in your lifestyle and drastically improve your brain's health and fitness.



Rush University Medical Center: "Boost Your Brain Health"
New York-Presbyterian: "Exercise, Diet Lower Alzheimer's Risk"

Monday, March 26, 2012

Healthy Brain Foods

Learn which foods are best for your brain health.

To learn which foods are best for your brain health, Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a UCLA professor of neurosurgery and physiological science, analyzed over 160 research studies concerning brain foods.

His conclusion focused on 3 ingredients of food that have the greatest impact on improving your brain health. They are
  1. Omega-3 fatty acids
  2. Folic Acid
  3. And curcumin
Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Research makes one thing crystal clear concerning brain health. "Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for normal brain function."

Diets deficient in omega-3 fatty acids are associated with an increase risk of developing
  1. Attention deficit disorder
  2. dyslexia
  3. dementia
  4. depression
  5. bipolar disorder
  6. and schizophrenia
Children are especially affected with diets deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. Studies in England and Australia showed that children with sufficient omega-3 fatty acids in their diet had higher test scores on
  1. Verbal intelligence
  2. Learning abilities
  3. and Memory ability
The type of omega-3 fatty acid that is essential for brain health and function is DHA or docosahexaenoic acid. This type of fat most come from our food, and is found mostly in cold water fish, such as salmon and sardines.

An interesting fact is that people who live on the Japanese island of Okinawa have the world's longest lifespans. They also have a very low mental disorder rate in their population. It probably is no coincidence that they also eat a lot of fish and stay physically active all their life.

Foods that are highest in omega-3 fatty acids are
  1. Flaxseed
  2. Wild Salmon
  3. Chia Seeds
  4. Sardines
  5. And Walnuts
Folic Acid

It has also been found that folate supplements are effective in preventing cognitive decline and dementia.

Foods highest in folate are
  1. Calf liver
  2. Lentils
  3. Pinto Beans
  4. Garbanzo beans
  5. Spinach
  6. Black Beans
  7. Navy beans
  8. Kidney beans
  9. Collard greens
  10. And Turnip greens
Curcumin - Turmeric Spice

Curcumin, which is found in the spice turmeric, is associated with reducing memory deficits in animal models of Alzheimer's Disease. Turmeric, by the way, is the spice that makes yellow mustard yellow.

In India, where there is a high curcumin consumption in their diet, there is a very low incidence of Alzheimer's Disease.

One way to increase your consumption of curcumin is Turmeric Tea.

The evidence is clear. For improved brain health and fitness, make sure that your diet has adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids (especially DHA), folic acid and curcumin. To give your brain an added boost in healthy habits,
  1. Stay away from foods high in saturated fats
  2. Get adequate amounts of sleep
  3. And stay physically and socially active


UCLA Newsroom: "Scientists learn how what you eat affects your brain - and those of your kids"
Linus Pauling Institute: Curcumin
Whole Foods: Folate
Self Nutrition Data: Foods Highest in Total Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Skip The Red Meat For A Healthy Diet

If you are looking for a heart and cancer healthy diet, then it is best that you skip the red meat.

The Harvard School of Public Health issued a press release that states "...that red meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality."

This conclusion is based on the Harvard researchers observing 37,698 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study for 22 years, and 83,644 women from the Nurses' Health Study for 28 years. At the start of the study, both groups were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer. The participants completed questionnaires every four years to allow the researchers to assess their diets.

Study Results

The results indicated that
  1. Regular consumption of red, especially processed red meat, was associated with an increased mortality risk.
  2. One daily serving of unprocessed red meat was associated with a 13% increase in mortality risk.
  3. One daily serving of processed red meat was associated with a 20% increase in mortality risk.
What is in Red Meat That Makes It Unhealthy?

Some of the ingredients in red meat and processed red meat that are linked to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and cancer are
  1. Heme iron
  2. Saturated fat
  3. Sodium
  4. Nitrites
  5. And carcinogens formed during cooking.
What are healthy alternatives to Red Meat?

Replacing the red meat with a healthier protein source was associated with lowering the mortality risks by
  1. 7% with fish
  2. 10% with legumes
  3. 10% with low fat dairy products
  4. 14% with poultry
  5. 14% with whole grains
  6. And 19% with nuts.
What is Red Meat?

Red meat is dark in color when it is raw. Some examples include
  1. Beef
  2. Lamb
  3. And Pork
What are Processed Red Meats?

Processed red meats have been treated by smoking, salting, curing and having preservatives added to them. Some examples are
  1. Hot dogs
  2. Bacon
  3. Ham
  4. And Deli Meats
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, consuming more than 18 ounces of red meat each week increases your risk of developing colorectal cancer. If you still want to keep red meat in your diet, try to reduce your consumption to less than 18 ounces each week of cooked red meat, which is equivalent to 24 ounces of raw red meat.

Mediterranean Style Diet - The Healthy Diet Choice

For improved health and fitness, it is best to use the Mediterranean type of diet, which is considered one of the healthiest diets to follow. The Mediterranean type of diet includes
  1. Lots of fruits and vegetables
  2. Nuts
  3. Legumes
  4. Whole grains
  5. Fish
  6. Extra virgin olive oil
  7. And small amounts of red wine.


Harvard School of Public Health Press Release: Red Meat Consumption Linked to Increased Risk of Total, Cardiovascular, and Cancer Mortality

American Institute for Cancer Research: Red and Processed Meats: The Cancer Connection