With holidays, taxes and spring fever upon us, April is a hectic time for all of us – to say the least! April showers? More like April avalanche.
My challenge to you this week: get organized now so that you don’t shortchange yourself in the exercise and sleep departments this month. We all have our different systems – personally, I like to plot out the essentials for each week and not worry too much about every detail. Some of us do better when every last thing is accounted for and planned. Whatever system works best for you, get an early start on it so you can enjoy this busy month and let your list do the stressing for you. (I know, easier said than done, but go for it anyway.)
If you’re already a master of organization and time management, I’d love to hear your secrets. Drop me a line in the forum!
Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:
We also love our Apples! Here’s the roundup, kids.
What’s the Big Omega?
This study says Omega-3′s don’t help with depression or anxiety. This study says they do, and that they help inflammation, too. What gives? Without requiring you to get a chemistry degree, here’s the basic gist of why these two studies differ:
1) Study 1 is not a study, but a review. A review can be a helpful way to make sense of a lot of different information, but it is not, in itself, a scientific study. Just tell your friends this (they’ll think you’re a total genius):
Reviews are problematic because they tend to look at studies that are conducted under different circumstances – it’s sort of like comparing apples to oranges and asking if they’re like a banana.
A review can provide some insight, but that’s usually about all. You’ll notice that many of the more sensational health news items (vitamins kill you! tea is a magic cure!) often come from reviews. We like that Study 1 points out that low-quality fish oil supplements are a problem because they’re often contaminated with pollutants like mercury. Plus, they cause burping and fish breath – sexy! You do get what you pay for, so buy the best.
2) Study 2 is an actual study, and though small, it’s a good one in a series of rigorous studies conducted by Ohio U. Unlike Denmark, we love these guys and gals from Ohio, because they are so methodical about their research (we are allowed to pick on Denmark because their studies are suspiciously pro-Pharma; also, we keep a Dane on staff). They found that it’s the balance of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fats that is critical to good health. Interestingly, the healthiest, slimmest cultures around the world consistently reflect this – but, that’s a very good example of an empirical review! Helpful, but not scientific. Good science means backing it up – check out our Q&A on fish oil for more info.
Mark’s been talking about this whole fat balance issue for a good long while, so if you want to learn more, definitely check out the Study 2 link. Or click this for a selection of all the lovely good fat musings we provide on (frankly) an obsessive basis.
Oh Yeah, and the Rest of the News
Obesity: such a problem, dangerous drugs banned in Britain are being prescribed off-label…to kids! Our suggestion: cut out the snacks, turn off the TV, and get those munchkins into a sport!
Meditation: it’s scientifically proven to beat stress. You don’t have to be a Buddhist to enjoy it. Here’s an enjoyable little read that tells you how to do it and why it helps.
Caffeine and soda: it’s no secret that we have a bit of a problem with soda ’round these parts. Rosie, Tami and the rest of the brilliant gang at the Los Angeles Times health desk brought our attention to a must-read article on caffeine, soda companies’ disclosure of said caffeine, and all that this entails…
See you tomorrow!
Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:
Click it out, Apples!
More Beef, Less Sperm
Well, the title says it all.
Feeling Disgusted? Good.
The capacity to feel disgust (among other strong reactions) is a healthy thing. It’s all the way nature designed it – unfortunately, there are still areas where we need to catch up, and our health is perhaps the biggest one.
A few examples: our bodies are still hard-wired for “fight or flight” (making both stress management and fitness in the Age of the Cubicle serious challenges); we’re really not meant for as many calories as we get; we’re definitely not meant for as much sugar as we get.
The evolutionary door has hit us on the way out, so to speak, and while this causes all kinds of problems with obesity, happiness and fitness, there are other snags, too:
“We often respond to today’s world with yesterday’s adaptations,” Fessler said. “That’s why, for instance, we’re more afraid of snakes than cars, even though we’re much more likely to die today as a result of an encounter with a car than a reptile.” – UCLA Professor Dan Fessler, via Science Blog
In other words, give yourself a little credit. We may be the most sophisticated, feeling animals on the planet, but we’re still animals. It’s natural for us to worry, stress, fear, and get grossed out.
The Secret to a Better Memory
We have to hand it to the NZ Herald. They always have fascinating, useful, interesting health news articles that are decidedly sensible, too. Find out about an easy way to boost your memory, feel happy, and sleep like a baby. Feel the burn, baby!
What’s the Opposite of the Blues?
Feeling down? Trying to figure out the source of a negative issue or emotion? Whatever you do, don’t go about it by means of “problem thinking“. It’s what we all do naturally and unconsciously – after all, no one ever talks about having “the reds”, right?
Prevent that stress! With a little awareness and just a few consistent, consecutive efforts, you can turn problem thinking around permanently! It’s not about repressing feelings (hey, they’ll just bubble up – or explode – eventually). Rather, this is an excellent, handy, and ridiculously simple way to rewire your brain. We love it!
Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:
Here’s your daily dose of clickativity from the world of health, Apples!
We’re all over Food Processing‘s report on Ye Ole Pizza Puff. Evidently, pizza puffers are desperate to find ways to reposition (translation: manipulate). So much so, they’re not relying on the old marketing standbys: lower fat, lower calories, reduced sodium. Trans fat? Nope. Not even.
Marketing always works better when there’s a story to buy into. Preferably older and…mythier.
Food marketers are no exception: pizza puffs are being repositioned as fulfilling the ancient Greco-Roman tradition of breaking bread. The Romans shared small treats to aid in digestion, stimulate the appetite, and share the much-desired warm fuzzies. Appetizers, basically. This is an age-old tradition that anyone can appreciate. What’s not to love about a small bite to ease digestion and get everyone in a cheerful mood?
The difference is that the Romans ate real food. They may have had vomitoriums, but they sure didn’t have deep fryers.
You’ll love the shameless discussion of how to convey a particular story to trigger a desired emotional response in consumers (ca-ching!). We particularly love this line:
“While these products are viewed as healthier than shelf-stable snack foods, their fat and sodium levels can be high. These ingredients are part of what makes the food taste good and increases their satiety. So the real challenge is how to create a ‘healthy halo.’ ”
Can our food processing foes rise to the occasion? Or will this challenge prove too difficult even for them?
Give Your Colon the Blues
Blueberries, that is. They’re excellent for your colon, and let’s face it, so much tastier than toast. Blueberries have practically illegal levels of fiber and antioxidants, and you can eat an entire one-pound bag for fewer calories than a bran muffin.
Check out our delicious blueberry breakfast recipe.
Reducing Stress: Not Just for Girls
WebMD has just published a nice piece advising women over 50 to reduce their stress. It’s a terrific little list, so there’s no reason everyone shouldn’t be trying these tips out. Get to it! Go on, shoo!
Yoga: it’s not just for hamsters anymore. Thanks to Seattle Roll on Flickr!
Web It Out:
Here’s a question for you: what do we really mean when we talk about anti-aging?
Anti-aging supplements, hormones and tools are some of the hottest things going right now. Everywhere you look, people are talking about “brain health”. Sudoku is enjoying a popularity only rivaled by high school prom queens. Botox is big, everyone dyes their hair, and if you’re not taking antioxidants, well, it’s time to get with the program. And let’s not even get started on the youth-worship in prime time TV and magazines. We don’t really have to: anti-aging has taken over health, too.
Which is fine by me. Who wouldn’t want to get more out of life? But here’s the issue: are we talking about living longer, or living better?
At best, if you do everything, and I mean everything, right – don’t smoke or drink, exercise, eat well, sleep, control stress, maintain healthy, loving relationships, enjoy meaningful work, avoid sugar and carcinogens, breathe fresh air, take vacations, stay positive, stretch your mind, save your pennies (getting tired yet?) – there’s still ultimately a limit.
At best, doing everything perfectly, you can expect to make it to 80 or 90 – perhaps 100 if you’re really, really doing something right. (Then again, we all know the stories about the guy who ate bacon and had a flask of whiskey glued to his hip at breakfast yet managed to live to 110.)
So what do we really want? The current model doesn’t look too appealing. It appears to me that we’re all aiming for a place in the longevity race. Getting a few wrinkles? No problem – slice ‘em away! Diseased and overweight from years of neglect and poor choices? There’s a pill and a surgery to fix it! So we’ve got a whole barrel of surgeries and drugs to make up for mistakes. Which is fine, but is this really living well?
Personally, I’d rather not see the inside of 100 if it means I’m hobbling along thanks to a slew of surgery and drugs. I think most of us want energy, vitality, and more bang for the buck – yet our diet, our medical system, and our approach to health don’t reflect this at all. Most health treatments seem to be patching the leaks, rather than preventing the leaks to begin with. Yet I think most of us would choose living well over living a long time. So, how do we align our choices with our goals?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. (Click “Ask Anything!” to send me an email, or visit the forum to leave me a message.)
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