Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.

Mark's Daily Apple

17 Apr

Is the FDA Serious?

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

They’re for real. Read on.

FDA Officially Jumps the Shark

The FDA is attacking your freedom. That’s no hyperbole, and it’s not just because we take issue with Labelman. Evidently, the FDA figures they’ve done such a bang-up job regulating drugs safely and effectively, why not extend their sticky fingers responsibilities to other profitable public health modalities? Read this, or this or this to find out what’s going on. Hint: any vitamin, herb or alternative therapy may soon be regulated as “medicine”.

Admittedly, this sounds great – we all know there are plenty of fake diet pills and far too many snake oil supplement hucksters out there. However, think about how this move also significantly reduces your freedom.
Bringing natural therapies under the jurisdiction of the FDA has all sorts of implications:

- Will natural therapies be turned into Big Pharma profit projects? How does one patent an herb, anyway?

- What about people who have no access to a doctor or health insurance? Or seniors who are on limited budgets?

- Why should the FDA be given any further control when its existing credibility and capability are already legitimately in question?

Read about it. And then, if you have a moment, do something about it here.

UPDATE 5/2/07: Mark has reigned us in. His experience in the supplement industry and a double-check analysis reveals: “no dice”. Apparently this is really an old issue that’s been dredged up again. Visit this link for a good perspective.

If Only

Chocolate is better than kissing, according to all the latest reports. Scientists say the sweet treat really, really does make you feel better than a tasty kissing session. Hmm. (Not buying it!)
choc

This is Eszter’s Flickr Photo

17 Apr

10 Quick Tips to Boost Your Serotonin

This week’s Tuesday Ten features simple tips to make your brain hum. You’ll feel so great, you’ll be looking down on Cloud 9.

Before we get to it, a word to the wise about serotonin:

There is quite the plethora of mood-elevating, serotonin-enhancing products and drugs available. If you don’t want to go the Prozac route, there are many excellent natural methods for boosting your mood. Indeed, many studies have shown that natural methods like exercise may be just as effective as traditional drug therapies. (However, in some cases, depression can become so severe, there’s simply no food or supplement that is going to “cure” you. I like to remind my readers that it’s always important to consult an expert before embarking on your own curative adventure.)

But for light cases of the blues, or stressful days, there are plenty of things you can do to elevate that feel-good hormone, serotonin:

10. Avoid the fast track to happiness.

Carbohydrates give you an instant lift because they trigger the release of serotonin. Indeed, I’ve seen several articles lately actually recommend eating a sugary treat to boost your mood and sleep better. Bad advice (see Dr. Weil’s take). Carbs are a quick fix, but they do nothing to stimulate ongoing production of serotonin, which is what you want.

9. Don’t avoid carbs entirely.

Proteins contain tryptophan, a large amino that converts to serotonin in the brain. (I’ll be discussing tryptophan supplements in the future.) Yet relying solely on protein can hamper serotonin production. Though scientists aren’t sure why this is, it makes sense that subsisting entirely on one macro-nutrient might cause problems for brain chemistry.

Tryptophan works best when consumed in conjunction with a small bit of carbohydrate, such as a scoop of brown rice, a handful of nuts, or a few tablespoons of legumes. These complex carbohydrates are essential to helping your brain properly process the tryptophan in protein. Vegetables are also great – and my preference.

8. Eat protein.

Turkey, fish, chicken, cottage cheese, nuts, cheese, eggs, and beans all contain generous levels of tryptophan.

protein

7. Eat fat.

Hormonal processes require essential fatty acids, so don’t shirk your “good fats”. Get plenty of DHA-enhanced eggs and dairy in your diet, and eat fish a few times a week. Good sources are wild salmon, mackerel, and tuna. You vegheads can also nosh on avocados, nuts, flaxseed, vegetable oils (walnut, avocado, almond, flax, olive) and seeds.

6. Take a fish oil supplement!

Though fish oil won’t produce serotonin, essential fatty acids play a vital role in brain health and mood regulation. I recommend Vital Omegas, of course, but there are plenty of good ones on the market. As with most things, you do get what you pay for, so buy the best you can afford.

5. Exercise to feel good.

Exercise is a natural stimulator of many important “mood” hormones, including serotonin and dopamine. Don’t think of exercise as a chore to lose weight or prevent heart disease “someday”. Realize that 15 or 20 minutes of exercise every day will naturally release these feel-good hormones that are so vital to feeling happy and calm. As junior apple Mike A. says, exercise is about feeling good, not just looking good.

4. Avoid the stimulant cycle.

Caffeine, sugar, alcohol. Caffeine, sugar, alcohol. Many of us get trapped in the stimulant cycle. These substances temporarily give you a lift, but actually deplete and blunt valuable hormones in the long run. If you like caffeine, try to limit your java intake to one or two cups a day at the most. The same for alcohol. I recommend avoiding sugar completely.

3. Sleep right.

When we’re feeling down, it’s tempting to sleep, sleep and sleep some more. But quality sleep is far more important than quantity. Force yourself to get up early, but allow for a rejuvenating nap midday if you need it (just don’t exceed one hour). The same goes for stressed-out workaholics getting by on 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night. Find a way to get an extra hour (hey, that sounds like another Tuesday 10 to me!).

2. Investigate supplements wisely.

HTP is a popular supplement, but I personally prefer rhodiola, which actually slows the process of serotonin breakdown (it also has better scientific backing).

1. Boost other hormones!

Oxytocin is another feel good hormone often called the “cuddle hormone”. Oxytocin is released when we feel love, trust and comfort. It can be even more powerful than serotonin. If you need a lift, remember the power of simply spending time with your significant other or family members and friends.

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17 Apr

The Fuming Fuji Says No to iDeserve Energy Pretzels

FUJ

The Fuming Fuji is outraged at the marketing of toxic food, especially when it is aimed at the small fry. This week, the Fuming Fuji has decided to have a serious problem with iDeserv Energy Pretzels.

But, Fuming Fuji, you say, these pretzels give you energy! Why else would it say “Energy Pretzels” on the package?

The Fuming Fuji says no!

The claim: But, Fuji, iDeserv a snack now and then! These pretzels are not like the old, refined, sodium-filled pretzels I know you would fume about. These pretzels have protein and fiber added to them!

The catch: Fuji cannot comment on what we do or do not deserve. Fuji can comment on these ridiculous new “energy” pretzels which contain processed soy isolate and inulin from Cargill, fine makers of industrial food fillers. The Fuji grows so tired of bad food being injected with nice-sounding industrial filler goop and subsequently bandying about as a “healthy” treat. Get your energy from food, not filler! Soy and inulin are technically protein and fiber, this is true. But while we are being technical, iDeserv really deserves a spelling lesson.

The comeback: There you go with the spelling again, Fuji. Sounds like a cop-out to me. What’s so bad about a hybrid pretzel attempting to be a healthier snack? After all, you are a hybrid, Fuji.

The conclusion:

The comeback, take 2: Fuji? Hey, where’d you go? I’m really sorry about that last comment. I crossed the line.

Okay, you little fritter, now I’m getting concerned. Stop playing.

The conclusion: Do you really think the Fuji plays? The Fuji fumes! I’m keeping my eye on you, oh ye snack frenemy. This silly pretzel product is merely refined flour in a trendy coating. Be junk, or be food. Pick a lane!

The catchphrase: Eat finery, not refinery.
iDeserv

Source: Junk Food Blog

More Fuming Fuji

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16 Apr

The Trouble with Cured Meats

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

Oh, that term: “cured meat”. What is being cured, exactly? (Other than curing meat of any health benefit?) Read on and learn, Apples.

Herbaceous!

A few months ago, Mark recommended herbs as a vegetable you might want to reconsider (these naturally medicinal veggies are excellent in salads or cooked with vegetables and meats). Herbs are vegetables? Yes, they are! Mom’s Organic House tells you why you ought to give herbs a chance. If you are interested in organic living, be sure to subscribe to Mom’s RSS feed…if you’re a web hipster, that is. We love that this blog is so big on being responsible. Your health is yours!

What’s your favorite way to herb out? We’d love to hear about your favorite herbs and how you use them in recipes.

herbs

This is LollyKnit’s Flickr Photo

Best Explanation of Fructose Ever

That pretty much sums it up. Here’s the clickativity.

sugar 1

This is dhammza’s Flickr Photo

Cured Meats and Lung Disease

Remember the big nitrites scare? New evidence confirms the danger of cured meats like sausage, hot dogs, chip meats, bacon and ham. Worst of all: bacon bits! A few of us Bees are vegetarians or “fishatarians”, while Mark firmly espouses responsible meat-eating (keeps things interesting around here).

Whatever your particular persuasion, cured meats don’t belong in anyone’s diet. (We know, we know, bacon is yummy.) Cured meats aren’t fresh, they usually aren’t very lean, and they’re full of all kinds of chemicals, salt, sugar, and dyes. If you want to get protein the carnivorous way, please remember that you’ll do yourself and the environment major favors by choosing organic, grass-fed and free-range products. This is your body, sugar snap! The cure for cured meats: statistics like these.

bacon

This is Gailf548′s Flickr Photo

Big, Bad Pharma

Bad Science’s Ben Goldacre examines the Big Pharma study-skewing controversy. In a nutshell: yes, they skew; but so does everybody. (Wait, is that supposed to make us feel good?) The article is excellent, so if you care about the future of drugs in medicine, or just really have a problem with Big Pharma, be sure to read it. In particular, we want to highlight the excellent idea for removing publication bias (the biggest problem, bar none, with the whole pharmacological picnic). Goldacre suggests that all trials, no matter the perceived utility, be reported in a public database of some sort. In other words, trials should be recorded from the start, not simply because they’re deemed worth publishing in hindsight. It’s one of those “uh, duh!” ideas that is so smart, so obvious, and so sensible, we are left to conclude that absence of said database = world has gone mad. (Check out Mark’s article on Big Pharma.)

16 Apr

Have a Blissed-Out Monday

Take this moment to make the rest of your Monday nothin’ but bliss. You’re just 3 steps away – how easy could it get?

1. Resolve to let the little stuff slide.

Be a duck and just let the little irritations slip right off. People can be grumpy on Mondays, and we never get as much done as we would prefer. Shrug it.

2. Call someone you love.

Whether it’s that pal whose crazy ideas make you feel better about your own goofs, your understanding Aunt Susan, or your significant other, take 10 minutes out of this hectic day to have a friendly conversation. No multi-tasking, either! Give this person your complete focus for ten whole minutes. You will both feel great. That rapidly filling email inbox will not melt your computer if you ignore it for a bit.

3. Eat something!

Between 2 and 4 p.m. today, eat a complex carbohydrate snack such as a handful of nuts or a banana. This will boost your serotonin levels. Wash it down with a big glass of water to wake up and feel alert for the rest of the afternoon.

© 2014 Mark's Daily Apple