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

Mark's Daily Apple

21 Mar

Reduce Stress, Like, Yesterday

We’ve all heard (and don’t forget experienced!) that major life changes like getting married, giving birth, moving or starting a new job can be unbearably stressful. But it isn’t always the big transitions that take the heftiest health toll. Day-to-day stress – the kind you ignore that accumulates over time – can create detrimental health effects on your body.

So, the next time you begrudgingly roll out of bed at 6 a.m. because you’ve got two kids to feed and drop off at school before you head into the fray of congested traffic and board meetings, think about taking time to undo all the pent-up tension with some of the terrific tips that can be found at the following handy websites. 20 minutes a day of “love insurance” (as in lovin’ your own life!) makes all the difference!

My favorite suggestions from around the web this week:

“Talk to yourself.”

15 Tips to Cope with a Demanding Life

“Attempt to Control Absolutely Everything.” (They’re kidding, of course.)

5 Ideas for Stressful Living

“Enjoy Life’s Little Luxuries”

Fight Stress! (Who’s biased?)

“Be passionate – About how your work improves people’s lives.”

A Clear Eye

“Be Mindful”

Your Brain on Multi-Tasking

stress

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20 Mar

Healthy Buzz

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

Here’s the sugar-free wrap up!

Run, Don’t Walk, to This Commentary

A terrific and compelling post that neatly sums up the arrogance and bias that is problematic in scientific research. Be sure to read it.

How Do Doctors Think?

Well, it turns out…pretty much like the rest of us. They are humans, after all, and they make plenty of mistakes. That shouldn’t be too alarming (though it’s certainly ringing bells around the web). It’s just further evidence that you need to get second opinions, do your research, and have confidence in your ability to take responsibility for your own health. Health doesn’t happen on autopilot.
steth

Raising Healthy Kids

And it doesn’t include Nutripals. Catch this excellent and personal piece on the intersection of vegetarianism, fear-o-fat (a national pastime?), and raising truly healthy kids.

What’s Going to Replace the 5-a-Day Campaign?

A juggler.

juggler

That’s right, this festive medieval friend will now be showing up on anything that has a serving of fruits or veggies in it – including (drum roll please) processed foods. It’s all part of the new “More Matters” campaign. Hey, it beats Labelman. The idea is that marketing anything with fruits or veggies in it will work better if there is a brand identity attached. Like Nike, but not really.

Our take is that this is just one more way for processed food manufacturers to make misleading health claims. We debunked another meaningless marketing measure back in January – click it out and scroll to the bottom to find out what the U.S. government defines as “lean”.

Think about it: do we really need a juggler on a bag of apples, or a pack of lettuce? Of course not – people know this is produce. And evidence shows people already know they aren’t eating enough of it, and while they’re not getting enough – yet – there has been some modest improvement (an insightful comment on part of the problem: how we define the data affects how we interpret it).

So, why replace the ol’ fiver campaign with a simple icon, if not to give food manufacturers one more way to shill their processed faux food nuggets? Does anyone think the juggler is for the orange growers of Florida, or the onion farmers of Walla Walla? Or is it for the juice and popsicle and snack slingers? (As long as they keep the product’s sodium and fat under reasonable control, all bets are off.)

Sounds like a nice idea, but like the pretty, newish food pyramid, it’s so vague and high-concept, it’s meaningless.

prettygood

More Matters, 5-a-Day, How Doctors Think

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20 Mar

Mark’s Daily Apple Wins Bloggy Award!

How neat is that? Thanks, Bloggy Awards! They gave us so many positive comments, we’re all blushing over here! They also offered a helpful piece of constructive criticism: shorten up some of the posts (ahem).

What do you think, Apples? And what would you like to see more of?
You can check out the entire review here. Now please excuse us while we bask in the glow…

20 Mar

10 Easy Steps to Good Health

The Tuesday 10

It’s easy to get lost in the details – organic or local? wild or farmed? fresh or frozen? – and to me it seems like the majority of health news out there is just obsessing over the minutiae. No wonder we give up and go back to our old habits.

The little things can matter, but on balance, it’s the consistent application of a few simple lifestyle changes that count. Make a few very basic – but significant – healthy changes, and the little things tend to take care of themselves. Or no longer matter so much.

Here are ten simple steps to better health that you can implement, starting right now:

10. No More Rules

First things first: no more worrying about the so-called Holy Grails of Health. Here’s what I’m talking about: Water. Coffee. Breakfast. Sleep. Following the pyramid. Fat. Sunlight. These supposed hard-and-fast rules of health cause more stress than the actual things. How about trusting your body enough to know what’s right for you? You’re up for the challenge, I guarantee it.

9. 90/10 or 10/90?

A lot of us focus on rules, numbers or specific amounts in an attempt to lose weight and feel healthier. We vow to eat a certain number of calories, for example. Even Uncle Sam falls for the magic of numbers (the failed 5-a-day vegetable campaign that is now being retired). But getting healthy is about being healthy. 90% of your regular habits and 10% of healthy habits added to that is just not a recipe for health. It’s got to be the other way around.

8. Eat something green at every meal.

Pretty easy! It should be at least half of the portion size, plate, cup…

7. Absolutely cut out the sodas and sugary drinks.

Yup, they have to go.

6. Don’t eat anything that comes in a box, bag or package.

I’m not talking about a bag of frozen broccoli or a jar of almonds. I’m talking about processed, packaged, preserved foods. This is a big commitment. It is tough. But there is just no way you can be as healthy and fit as you want if you don’t stick to this most of the time. You can cheat (we all do). But keep that 90% in mind. Keep it fresh.

5. Eat meat that isn’t so processed.

Vegetarians don’t have to worry about this too much (unless you’re eating lots of processed mock meats). Fresh, clean, lean chicken and fish is going to do wonders for your health in the long run – you’ll help prevent cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease. Sausage, bacon, deli meat, processed meats, on the other hand? Carcinogen special.

4. Eat a salad – every day.

So, I’m a little obsessed with my daily salad. But it’s such a no-brainer! You can even enjoy some goodies on it (nuts, a little cheese, dressing). Who said humans were meant for burritos and sandwiches?

3. Fight stress.

Whether it’s with a run, meditation, yoga, prayer, or a hot bath, find something that makes you feel completely relaxed, and do it a lot. Think of it as your 20-minute love insurance – as in loving your own life! Do this consistently for two weeks – most of us don’t commit to making ourselves feel great on a long-term basis. Try this out, and you will feel flat amazing. It may be the most important thing for your health.

2. Rethink the workouts.

Don’t do it if you even remotely dislike it – you won’t stick with it (who would?). My secret? Just put those sneakers on – that’s literally 90% of the battle. So, don’t think “I have to work out!” Instead, think, “I have to put my shoes on!”

1. Don’t worry.

Most of the stuff circulating in the media is old news with shiny new sprinkles on it. Or it’s based on a press release or a biased study. I’m not saying you should ignore information – by all means, educate yourself. But the general idea with a lot of “news” is to frighten the living daylights out of you so you’ll buy something. You’re doing pretty well, actually. So don’t worry – just keep learning and doing new things. It will all add up.

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19 Mar

Ain’t No Thing But a Chicken Wing

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

Is it possible to combine compelling, handy health information with humor? Bees agree: it ain’t no thing! Get clickin’, Apples, and then scoot over to the forum to share your thoughts!

Raising Insurance Rates Everywhere

We know young male drivers get in more auto accidents than anyone. Apparently, it’s all the video games.

Finally, Britain Is Bad at Something!

We might not eat our vegetables, but at least we don’t eat 50% too much salt. Oh, wait, we eat 200% too much. Good grief! Processed food products have got to stop! Salt is in every processed food imaginable. Why? It tastes good, it’s really cheap, and it makes poor-quality ingredients seem more appealing to the taste buds. From salad dressing to burgers, from cheese sauce to pasta, food producers of America are on a relentless mission to turn every body into a giant salt flat.

saltdesert

Gardawind Flickr Photo

Pork: Just Another Meat, Really

Junior Apple Greg wrote in the other day to ask if pork (and ham) is a safe protein bet. While associations of cleanliness don’t extend to our cloven, curly-tailed friends, the truth is that pigs are just as safe as any other meat and the days of pork-borne trichinosis are pretty much gone, thanks to tougher standards for factories farms. Absolute safety of pork (and meat), though, is another issue altogether.

Pork is usually really high in sodium, mainly because so much of the pork people eat comes in processed forms like bacon, sausage, ham and deli meats (and why Mark’s email to the Apples this morning recommended indulging in bacon on an infrequent basis – and make sure to find the lower-fat variety). Even pork loin is often packaged in a saline solution. If you can find organic, low-sodium pork, that’s sayin’ something.

However, the pig farmers of America want you to know that pork is great because, hey, it doesn’t have mad cow disease. Now that’s some marketing. (Imagine the possibilities: “Pork – unlike cheese, it doesn’t melt. Therefore, it’s better.” “Ham – why refill the stapler when you can make a sandwich?” Hey, this is fun! “Pork: Absolutely nothing to do with the price of tea in China. And therefore better.”) Meanwhile, scientists are attempting to clone pigs that are packed with Omega-3 fatty acids. And that concludes our pork dissertation for today.

ham

Boodoo Flickr Photo

Apples, Mark recommends sticking with organic chicken or turkey, fermented tempeh, nuts, and wild cold-water fish.

Web It Out:

Oddity 1: Scientists Create Miniature, Live Hearts
Oddity 2: Why Mark Is Canceling His Subscription to the British Medical Journal

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