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 "