Sunday, February 26, 2012

Red Yeast Rice And Cholesterol

A growing number of people are choosing to use red yeast rice rather than a manufactured statin to reduce their cholesterol levels. Many claim that they have less to no side effects from red yeast rice in comparison to manufactured statins.

Some of the side effects that some patients taking statins complain about are
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Personality changes
  • Myopathy
  • Neuropathy
  • Chronic neuromuscular degeneration
  • and CQ10 inhibition
Dr. Duane Gravelin has written about these statin side effects based on his own experiences with this drug in his two books - Lipitor Thief of Memory
and Statin Drugs Side Effects and the Misguided War on Cholesterol ( links).

If you take a statin or use red yeast rice, you should also take a CQ10 supplement.

What is Red Yeast Rice?

Red Yeast Rice is a rice that has been fermented by a red yeast called Monascus purpureus. RYR has been used as a dietary staple by Chinese and other Asian cultures for many centuries.

In the 1990's, medical scientists discovered that RYR significantly reduces LDL-C and total cholesterol in humans. Actually, Lovastatin, the first statin approved in the US, was developed from the analysis of red yeast rice.

An interview with cardiologist Dr. David J. Becker discusses the results of a small study showing that RYR lowered LDL-C as well as Pravastatin. He cautions, however, that "their results could not be extrapolated to other red yeast rice formulations and that no inference about the long-term effects of this product on cardiovascular morbidity or mortality could be drawn from this study."

For additional information of this study, see Red Yeast Rice May Lower Cholesterol by WebMD.

Safety And Potency Concerns

A study conducted by found that some red yeast rice is contaminated with a yeast toxin called citrinin, which can damage your kidneys. They also found a wide range of lovastatin compounds in the various brands of RYR that they analyzed.

I have not read their report, but a reader in the Preventive Medicine Research Institute forum stated that citrinin was found in samples of RYR brands Solaray, Natural Balance, VegLife and Walgreens.

This reader also stated that the potency ranges were as follows:
  • Low (1.2 - 1.3 mg) - Natural Balance, Solaray and VegLife
  • Moderate (3.1 - 3.4 mg) - 21st Century and Schiff
  • High (4.8 - 5.2 mg) - Cholestene, Chole-sterin and Healthy America
Here are some consumer comment links on their experiences with red yeast rice:

WebMd - User Reviews and Ratings - Red Yeast Rice
21st Century Reviews
Nature's Plus

Evidence appears to show that red yeast rice does a good job in reducing LDL-C. However, do some research to make sure that your brand is not contaminated, and has the potency that you expect to be using.

One mistake that people taking either statins or red yeast rice make is thinking that these drugs and supplements allows them to live an unhealthy lifestyle. This is a mistake. Statins or RYR will not keep you healthy if you never exercise and just eat cheese burgers and ice cream every day. To maintain your health and fitness, in addition to statins or RYR, you should also
  • Do moderate intensity exercises 30-minutes a day for at least 5 days each week
  • Eat a Mediterranean type of diet
  • Keep your saturated fat intake low
  • Minimize your sugar intake
  • Eat a lot of fiber from whole grains, fruits and vegetables
  • Don't smoke

Monday, February 20, 2012

My Sardines Recipe

When I was younger, I couldn't understand how my dad could eat sardines. I just couldn't stomach those little critters. But now that I am older, I have developed a taste for these little and nutritional fish.

This is how I eat them.

Sardines Recipe

1 3.75 oz can King Oscar Brisling Sardines Mediterranean Style
1 Town House Italian Herb Flatbread Crisps for each sardine
Mustard - your choice of the type of mustard

I place 1 sardine on a flatbread crisp and top with a dash of mustard. I do this for each sardine in the can. That's it. I eat each sardine crisp one at a time and savor the flavor. I find that these sardines are actually fairly mild. However, it may also be that since I'm older now, my tasting ability may have subdued. But I like this nutritional snack.

Sardines Nutrition

According to Whole Foods, this snack will give you your daily requirements of vitamins B12 and D. In addition, you also get:
  • 87% of Omega-3 fatty acids
  • 78% of tryptophan
  • 45% of excellent quality protein
  • 30% of phosphorus
  • 20% of vitamin B3
  • and 17% of vitamin B2
The back of the can also states that you get
  • 20% of your calcium needs
  • 8% vitamin A
  • and 4% of iron
Sardines are also very low in mercury, and they are not an endangered species. Since the larger fish like tuna are being over fished, the herring (sardine) population is actually increasing in the ocean.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Prostate Cancer And Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Last year the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial reported a surprising result. The authors reported that higher levels of DHA, which is one of the two omega-3 fatty acids found in cold water fish, were statistically correlated with the risk of high-grade prostate cancer in US men.

An article published by the DHA-EPA Omega-3 Institute titled " Blood Serum Levels of Omega-3 and Prostate Cancer " makes some interesting observations of this result.
  • The high levels of DHA in US men that participated in the study actually are very low levels on a global standard. This is because US men typically eat very little fish, especially cold water fish like sardines and salmon. Compared to Japanese men who eat much more fish in their diet, the high DHA levels in the US study are very low.
  • The intakes of fish or the intake of fish derived omega-3 fatty acids, which is DHA and EPA were not directly measured during the study.
  • Many other studies that were designed to find any relationship between a fish diet and prostate cancer have found little relationship between the two. Other studies have found that a cold water fish diet actually had protective effects for total prostate cancer risks.
  • The men in this study actually had very low levels of EPA. One conclusion might be that moderately elevated levels of DHA with low levels of EPA may be a risk of advanced prostate cancer. Moderate elevated levels of DHA with low levels of EPA is one result of low fish consumption. Cold water fish and fish oil supplements contain both DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids.
Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen in their article " Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Prostate Cancer " make the point that this study shows only a statistical link between moderately elevated levels of DHA and prostate cancer and not a cause. This is not a cause-and-effect study. Both use an omega-3 supplement from marine algae.

The conclusion at the Harvard Health Publications in their article " Surprising findings on omega-3, trans fats, and prostate cancer risk don't warrant a change in diet " is that men should continue eating the recommended servings of cold water fish, which is at least two servings per week. Further they state that "Eating moderate amounts of wild salmon, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and other foods rich in omega-3s is a healthy strategy, Kennedy told me. The best “medicine” for men who are worried about their risk of prostate cancer is to maintain a healthy weight, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, and control stress. The good news is that taking these steps will promote heart health, too."

If you are worried about mercury in cold water fish, wild salmon, herring, sardines and shrimp are low in mercury. Canned chunk light tuna and cod have moderate amounts of mercury, but also have less omega-3 fatty acids. The cold water fish are also high in vitamin B-12 vitamin D and selenium, which promote good cardiovascular and prostate health. For further information see " Consumer Guide to Mercury in Fish ." If you are concerned about mercury, you can take an omega-3 supplement from marine algae.

It is also interesting that Alaska being a state that consumes more fish than other states also is one of the states that has the lowest prostate cancer rates in the US. And China and Japan also have some of the lowest rates for prostate cancer in the world while also consuming more fish than other nations, especially the US.

The net conclusion for men is to continue eating at least two servings each week of cold water fish or a high quality fish oil supplement as part of your health and fitness routine. The fish, however, gives you added nutrition as an excellent source or protein, vitamins B-12 and D and cancer fighting selenium.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Burn Fat With Brown Fat

Sounds intriguing doesn't it to burn fat with brown fat.

What is brown fat?

Brown fat in contrast to white fat has a higher number of mitochondria, which makes it brown. Its primary function is to maintain and generate body heat. It especially helps infants, which have a larger amount of brown fat than adults, to stay warm. It has been recently found that brown fat resembles skeletal muscle rather than white fat. It is also in skeletal muscle that brown fat can be found in adults, especially in the neck and chest areas.

To produce energy, brown fat burns white fat for fuel. That is why there is much interest in medical research to understand how to make more brown fat and activate it to help us burn white fat, which is partly responsible for obesity, heart disease and cancers.

Hormone That Links Exercise To Health Benefits

New research led by a group at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, has found a chemical messenger that links exercise to health benefits throughout our bodies. They call this hormone Irisin. Irisin is located in the outer membrane of muscle cells and signals the activation of the metabolic regulator PGC1-alpha. Their research has found that prolonged exercise increases the levels of irisin and activates PGC1-alpha. The result of increased irisin levels is better control of blood sugar and insulin levels and a small amount of weight loss.

They also have found that increased levels of irisin also switches on genes that convert the bad white fat into good brown fat. The one thing that irisin does not do is make muscles stronger, however, Only exercise can give you that result.


We now know how to make more brown fat with exercise and increased levels of irisin. However, switching on the brown fat to burn white fat is still difficult. Cold temperatures switch on brown fat. That may be why I find it easier to control my weight in the winter months. I always seems to gain a little in the summer months, even though I'm more active. But, I doubt that many of us are willing to sit in a freezer for an hour everyday to switch on our brown fat to start burning white fat. So, the search is still on to learn an easy method to switch on our brown fat. For now, exercise is still the best way to burn that bad white fat in our bodies.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Home Exercises And The Home Gym

If you are like me, you may prefer to exercise at home rather than belonging to a health club or gym. And, there are many exercises that you can perform at home to keep yourself healthy and fit.

If you have the room and money, you could purchase equipment for less than $1000 like the Weider Home Gym. But, you can also get a good workout at home using things that you may already have or you can purchase some inexpensive dumbbells and exercise bars that fit in your door frame.

Here at some examples using a folding chair. A sturdy coffee table or an inexpensive exercise bench would also work:
If you get a set of inexpensive dumbbells, you can do many exercises as illustrated at Dumbbell Exercises.

Of course, most of the Core Exercises can be done on the floor or on an exercise mat.

And the Captain's Chair Abdominal Exercise can be done using an inexpensive exercise bar with ab straps as illustrated at Captain's Chair Ab Workout Alternative.

Check out to find more illustrated examples of exercises that can be done at home to improve your health and fitness.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Three Types of Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic Exercise, which is also known as Cardio Exercise, increases your heart rate and makes your lungs work harder than normal. This type of exercise promotes new blood vessels to be formed throughout your body. This results in an increase in nutrient flow to your tissues and organs, and helps the elimination of waste material from your cells. Since your bodily tissues and organs are getting more nutrients and exposed to less waste material, your health will improve and you increase your chances of improving your longevity.

Types of Aerobic Exercise

  1. No Impact - Examples of no impact aerobic exercise is cycling, elliptical trainers or swimming. Try this type of workout if you experience low back or knee pain, or if you are overweight and not in good physical condition.
  2. Low Impact - An example is a brisk walk. Try this exercise if you are in decent shape but have not exercised for a while.
  3. High Impact - Examples are running or jogging. Try this type if you are in good shape and competitive.
Personally, I like Interval Training especially the 4X4 Interval Training Routine. An example of this type of aerobic exercise is to run for 1 to 2 minutes to reach my target heart rate, then walk briskly for 3 minutes. I then repeat this cycle 4 times for a complete and fun workout to increase my health and fitness levels.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Exercise For Kids

The US Department of Health & Human Services has excellent examples of exercise for kids in its Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. In the Chapter on Active Children and Adolescents, types of physical activity recommended for children are:
  • Moderate Intensity Aerobics - Hiking, skateboarding, rollerblading, bicycle riding or brisk walking
  • Vigorous Intensity Aerobics - Running and chasing, bicycle riding, jumping rope, martial arts, soccer, ice or field hockey, basketball, swimming, tennis or cross-country skiing
  • Muscle Strengthening - tug-of-war type of games, Modified push-ups with knees on the floor, resistance exercises using body weight or resistance bands, rope or tree climbing, sit-ups, swinging on playground equipment or bars
  • Bone Strengthening - Hopscotch type of games, hopping, skipping, jumping, jumping rope, running, sports activities such as gymnastics, basketball volleyball or tennis
The American Heart Association in its Physical Activity and Children section, recommends:
  • All children age 2 or older should participate in at least 60 minutes of enjoyable, moderate intensity physical activities every day that are developmentally appropriate and varied.
  • If your child or children don't have a full 60 minute activity break each day, try to provide at least two 30-minute periods or four 15-minute periods in which they can engage in vigorous activities appropriate to their age, gender and stage of physical and emotional development.
To encourage kids to exercise and be more physically active,
  • The activity should be fun for children and adolescents
  • As an adult, be a role model for leading a life of being physically active
Helping your kids to be more physically active will
  • help them control their weight
  • reduce blood pressure
  • raise the good cholesterol or HDL
  • and help them improve their psychological well-being including more self-confidence and a higher self-esteem
In all, making sure that your kids exercise and stay physically active will help them stay healthy and physically and mentally fit.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Exercise And Depression

Various studious over the last 30 years have repeatedly shown that a regular exercise routine helps reduce mild to moderate depression symptoms. Some studies have also shown that the effects of exercise last longer than antidepressants. One published study showed that walking fast for 35 minutes a day on five days of the week works best. A 15 minute walk is less effective at reducing depression symptoms than a 35 minute brisk walk.

One theory on why exercise reduces symptoms of depression is that it enhances the action of endorphins, which may improve mood, and it stimulates the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which may directly improve mood.

In addition to a reduction in depression symptoms, people who exercise regularly also report reductions in symptoms of anxiety, and lower levels of stress and anger.

Exercise also has a big effect in reducing the risk of depression in seniors. Elderly people who exercise regularly are significantly less depressed than those who don't exercise. One problem is that higher levels of depression leads to less exercise, which in turn leads to more depression. The key is to help the elderly to stay motivated to exercise or keep exercising.

Just another reason to keep a regular exercise routine as an important part of your daily activities to maintain excellent health and fitness, especially as you age.

Information Resources

"Exercise And Depression"
"Exercise Therapy For Depression"
"Exercise May Reduce Risk of Depression in Seniors"


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Exercise is Medicine™-Flexibility-Aerobic Exercise

Remember that you should stretch warm muscles and not cold ones. Always do some light warm up exercises before trying to stretch those muscles.

You may find that your range of motion of many of your joints decreases as you age. This is due to
  • Inactivity
  • The sticking together of connective tissues
  • The thickening of the linings of your joints
  • And the increase of fibrous tissue around your joints
You can help to avoid this decrease in your range of motion by regularly doing flexibility exercises. As a general guideline, you should be able to
  • Raise your arms over your head 180 degrees
  • Bend your elbow 145 degrees
  • Tilt your neck 45 degrees to either side
  • Arch your back 30 degrees
  • Rotate your hip 45 degrees
  • And extend your knee 0 degrees in a straight line.
For an explanation and illustrations on how to do various flexibility exercises, click on Flexibility Exercises.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Exercise is Medicine™ - Keys to Exercise - Exercise and Your Health

Exercise Is Medicine

Exercise Is Medicine Action Guide

The basic physical activity guideline is to achieve 150 minutes each week of moderate intensity physical activity. This is equivalent to 30 minutes of moderate intensity workouts five times each week.

Moderate intensity physical activity is generally defined as working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat while still being able to carry on a normal conversation. A brisk walk is considered moderate intensity exercise for most people.

Vigorous intensity physical activity is defined as activity that causes rapid breathing and a substantial increase in heart rate, such as jogging.

Physical Activity General Guidelines

  • Children 6 through 17 years of age with no chronic conditions - 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day. Vigorous intensity activity at least 3 days each week. Muscle strengthening and bone strengthening activity at least 3 days each week.
  • Adults 18 through 64 years of age with no chronic conditions - 150 minutes each week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes each week of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise. Muscle strengthening exercises that involve all major muscle groups performed on two or more days each week.
  • Adults 65+ years of age with no chronic conditions - Same as the 18 through 64 years of age group guidelines plus perform balance exercises.