Here’s Mark’s weekly health challenge, Apples:
This week, let’s go green. Eat something green – whether leafy or crunchy – at every meal, including breakfast. You’ll feel leaner by the end of the week (but not meaner).
Have you ever dreamed of having a personal trainer at your side to offer guidance, advice and words of encouragement when the going gets tough? (Wouldn’t that be nice!) Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone at your beck and call to give you direction, and assist you through your rigorous workouts? Now you can have all this without it breaking the bank. PumpOne is an innovative approach to providing exercise and workout routines to people on the go. All you need is a compatible iPod, Blackberry, Zune, or any other similar such hand-held device that allows you to store and view color images (jpegs). Their site provides dozens of downloadable workout routines in the categories of strength, weight-loss, endurance, flexibility and heart-health so that you can target your fitness goals. Each routine costs between $19 and $29 and has numerous exercises. With the varying types of workouts and levels 1, 2 and 3 difficulties there is bound to be a routine that fits your needs. Still, don’t be discouraged if you don’t see exactly what you are looking for right away as an expanded inventory is coming this fall when ‘sports specific training for golf, skiing, triathlon training, tennis, wakeboarding, and outdoor pre/post natal and senior workouts’ will be released.
EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT:
WHAT IT IS: Quercetin is an antioxidant flavonoid present in everything from wine and tea to onions and garlic. Apples, green vegetables and leafy greens also contain this powerful antioxidant. Quercetin is particularly helpful for overworked blood vessels, meaning it may help those seeking optimal heart health.
WHAT IT DOES: Quercetin is one antioxidant of many; other flavonoid antioxidants include polyphenols, red wine’s resveratrol, and tea’s catechins. All are vital to good health. In general, antioxidants destroy the dangerous free radicals that are responsible for many health problems that have roots in cellular damage. Quercetin is unique because it does more than the typical antioxidant – in addition to destroying free radicals and supporting cardiovascular health, quercetin may boost cellular energy levels.
STUDIES SHOW: Well-documented studies show that quercetin is capable of blocking an enzyme called catechol-O-methyltransferase (or COMT). By inhibiting this enzyme, the level of a substance called norepinephrine is raised, creating several neat effects. Scientists think some of these may include increased energy expenditure and possibly more. It’s recently been shown that quercetin appears to support LDL (bad) cholesterol oxidation. This makes it a terrific supplement to support a healthy cardiovascular system.
In addition, quercetin is known to have antihistamine effects, making it a valuable antioxidant supplement for those troubled by allergies. Recent research has theorized that quercetin may also be beneficial to asthmatics for this very reason.
WHY WE LIKE IT: We really dig quercetin for its antioxidant properties and subsequent role in overall health. Since quercetin may help to fight heart problems (though this theory is not conclusive), we think it’s important for everyone.
Quercetin is also great for those with allergies because of its antihistamine effects. An important vasodilator, quercetin supports the cardiovascular system and may strengthen blood vessels. In addition, quercetin’s known ability to increase norepinephrine levels in the brain leads many scientists to believe quercetin may help to increase one’s cellular energy output. That’s one hard-working antioxidant!
It’s happened. New York City has banned trans fat in restaurants. Corn cobs everywhere are furious, but we think it’s pretty cool. Of course, it would be better if restaurants did this of their own accord; legal intervention is never as inspiring. But we’ll take it!
Here’s the clickativity.
Pfizer announced yesterday that they were abandoning their newest “miracle drug”, torcetrapib. Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Torcetrapib.
Turns out that in a recent large-scale controlled study, “rolls-off-the-tongue” killed more people than even the previous miracle drug, Lipitor. Pfizer had invested over $800 million in their most recent attempt to stem the rise of heart attacks and stroke by lowering cholesterol.
The main focus of torcetrapib was to raise HDL (the “good” cholesterol that has been shown to reduce fatty plaque formation on arterial linings). Since Lipitor is coming off patent soon, Pfizer needs a new blockbuster to fill the income pipeline – now at $51 billion a year. Meanwhile, news wire services are suggesting that this is a huge setback for millions with heart disease who have been awaiting another magic pill to reverse the damage brought on by poor lifestyle choices.
Here’s the deal: as long as the medical community continues to approach heart disease by promoting cholesterol reducing drugs, they will fail.
Cholesterol is not necessarily the bad guy here. It is the inflammatory processes of C-reactive protein and homocysteine, occurring within the arterial walls, that begin the process of coronary artery disease. These inflammatory processes are the real culprits. Cholesterol production is merely the response mechanism! Attempting to avert heart problems by reducing cholesterol is literally akin to removing scabs from wounds as they try to heal. (If that analogy turns your stomach, you’ll have an inkling as to how sickened I am by Big Pharma.)
The root cause of inflammation is a combination of poor diet, sloth and stress. The good news is that most cardiovascular disease is completely preventable and largely curable without side effects.
Cholesterol is the unfortunate scapegoat in all this. It’s a shame, because this endlessly-eviscerated lipid is one of the body’s most useful and dynamic substances. Among other duties, it’s a necessary component of every cell membrane and it’s involved in hormone production. The body makes about 1400 mg a day just to keep reserves up. Unfortunately, when you have a stressful lifestyle, toss in a bad diet and lack of exercise and you can get an inflammatory process within the arteries that causes lesions on arterial walls. The inflammation problem is completely unrelated to amounts or types of cholesterol.
Nevertheless, the ever-inventive human body adapts to this inflammation sequence by using cholesterol as a band-aid to cover up the lesions until healing can take place – which, of course, almost never happens since most of us keep living the inflammatory lifestyle with little regard for how destructive it is. We’re inflammation rock stars.
Eventually, the cholesterol band-aids harden (sclerosis), narrow the arteries and sometimes break off, causing a heart attack or stroke. Of course, we blame the cholesterol for all this and embark on a national campaign to rid the body of this important substance by dousing everyone with drugs, instead of focusing on the foods (and other stresses) that promote inflammation in the first place. And these drugs have some pretty nasty side effects. And yet, we continue to worship at the idol’s altar.
Bottom line: In my opinion, diet, exercise, stress reduction and prudent supplementation should be the primary focus of any primary care physician.
UPDATE 12/11/06: Another interesting analysis.
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