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

Mark's Daily Apple

29 Mar

Good Fat, We Love You

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-labelto 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!

29 Mar

Saving Sisson

What’s this? I’ll tell you what this is: nothing short of a tremendous relief for the health-minded!

With the new and improved 7up Plus, I’m well on my way to glowing good health and longevity. Wow, thanks, 7up! That 5% pesticide-laced apple juice concentrate, “plus” all that wonderful calcium, and natural chemicals (as opposed to synthetic ones) is nothing short of a magnanimous boon to public health. Why do I even bother? I might as well quit now.

7up

Except that I’m Mark Sisson, and Photoshop is way too much fun.
finally

29 Mar

A Case for Starvation?

That’s an admittedly provocative headline, but there’s a controversial and compelling idea behind this that I believe is really worth exploring.

I’m going to highlight a few interesting points and encourage you to join in a discussion about metabolism, lifespan, and – yes – not consuming sufficient calories.

1. Calorie Restriction = Fewer Free Radicals?

A fascinating study I caught in PLoS (Public Library of Science) a few weeks back finds that insufficient caloric intake – but not malnutrition – appears to regulate mitochondrial production of free radicals. The mitochondria can be thought of as the engines of our body’s cells. It seems counterintuitive that eating a bit less than what is required to feel satiety – “full” – could be healthy. Really healthy. The antioxidant theory is huge in science and health, and I support it. I think the evidence is very compelling that most diseases and health problems – and ultimately aging itself – are, in a fundamental way, related to oxidative damage from free radicals. We know food and supplements can provide us with beneficial levels of antioxidants to mitigate this oxidative damage. But could our eating habits have an impact upon the function of our cells as well? Think of it this way: we have access to thousands and thousands of calories daily. It’s basically an unlimited buffet. Most of us eat roughly the same amount of calories every day (and that tends to be too high a number – in some cases far too high). But in the “caveman” days – I use this term loosely since there really weren’t “cavemen” so to speak – caloric intake varied wildly from day to day and season to season. Might our bodies have adapted to successfully deal with caloric deficits – even thrive on this?

2. And here’s another one:

Animals live 30 to 50 percent longer when they don’t get quite “enough” calories. There are other observational studies of humans (we can’t exactly put humans in a cage in a lab) which seem to indicate this occurs in humans, too. It’s a tough issue to explore, because our society is fraught with eating disorders – of both starvation and dangerous excess. In fact, many people diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver never touch liquor – it’s a growing problem (pardon the pun) resulting from an overtaxed liver that simply can’t handle excessive calories. Our bodies, from a scientific viewpoint, simply weren’t designed for regular, plentiful, cheap calories. I think a clear indicator that this is the case can be seen if you just look around at the major rates of obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and other health problems.

What are your thoughts?

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28 Mar

Feel Better about Feeling Everything. Also, No More Beef.

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!

© 2014 Mark's Daily Apple