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

Mark's Daily Apple

25 Apr

Rotten Apple Award

rotten apple 03

This month’s Rotten Apple Award goes to The Apple Patch Diet, the next gimmicky weight-loss device in a long line of quack products.

All you have to do is slap a patch on your body to start this “diet” and watch the fat melt away. I’m not sure how a patch of any sort counts as a diet. Though I suppose if you subsisted on patches alone you would lose weight. Let us see what the users have to say.

The “Testimonials” are varied and claim a 10 pound weight loss in one month, an 80 pound weight loss since July 2006, and as “Baig” from Virginia states, “my sugar level (Diabetes) is under control and I am very happy.” Rapid weight loss with little to no effort! Quick and easy regulation of sugar levels! Unbelievable testimonials! Before and after pics! It sounds too good to be true! Hmmm… this sounds familiar.

Clearly a product that can do all this has some solid scientific research to back it. Well, yes and no. The ‘Why it works’ section is limited to these three fine answers: “we only use the finest natural ingredients,” we have “amazing weight loss testimonials,” and “we use a transdermal method of delivery.” With a word like transdermal this stuff must work. Right?

To be fair the “Ingredients” section does give more detailed information about the three ingredients used to solve your weight problems. Look closely and you will find that one of the three exotic sounding components, Guarana extract, is essentially plain old caffeine. Caffeine is not exactly a groundbreaking weight-loss supplement, nor is it something with which most people need to supplement their diets. I don’t know about you, but my daily green tea provides all the caffeine I need.

Quite possibly the worst thing about this product is that it gives apples a bad name – something in these parts we take very seriously.

Don’t buy into these gimmicky weight-loss devices Apples. This product is more about the supplement delivery system (transdermal) than it is the supplements themselves. And there is still no substitute for a balanced diet and regular exercise.

We’re watching you, Apple Patch Diet.

(This is the part where I lift up my shirt, ceremoniously denoting the end of this diatribe.)

25 Apr

Of Migraines and Magnesium

The Buckler Brief

Bringing you the latest in supplement analysis!

Supplement: butterbur

Use: natural migraine relief

The verdict: worth a try

I don’t normally recommend a lot of herbs, especially the trendier ones, unless they have some serious scientific backing. Butterbur passes my test. Depending on which recent study you check out, Butterbur (taken twice daily at 75 mg a pop) reduces the frequency of migraines by as much as 60 per cent. Supplement News Blog reports that in a double-blind study from Neurology, butterbur was twice as effective as a placebo in offering migraine relief. Personally, I have seen many cases of migraine suffering clear up with a good daily dose of Omega-3′s, a multivitamin, and elimination of sugar from the diet. However, if you’ve done these things and still suffer the agony of migraines, you might want to try butterbur.

Source: Supplement News

Note on the source: I do not endorse melatonin, nor does Mark. The use of hormone supplement therapy is controversial and I believe you’re better off finding natural ways to stimulate the production of your own melatonin through nutrition and exercise, rather than create an artificial dependency. Supplementing frequently with melatonin (other than for recovering from jet lag or other short-term sleep interferences) can cause the body to produce less on its own, therefore triggering a rather vicious cycle of hormone depletion.

Supplement: magnesium

Use: where do I start?

The verdict: absolutely essential and often overlooked!

Magnesium is vital to mental and emotional health, proper sleep, healthy cell function, bone health and, according to new research, reduction of inflammation. Those of you who know me know that inflammation is perhaps my biggest health concern for people. It’s the common culprit behind diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, obesity and many other conditions. I believe the DV for magnesium is much too low. (Here’s some interesting research to get you started if you are curious to learn more. Here’s another handy link.) I’m including these statements on magnesium today because I think this is a critically overlooked nutrient.

Though not a “trendy” supplement (and look for me to debunk plenty of those in future Briefs), I believe we really need to focus our current attention on the importance of magnesium. Many of our current health problems indicate possible magnesium deficiency, and it’s a big enough issue that the WHO has even published their concerns (the WHO is quite conservative and typically doesn’t promote supplementation beyond basic necessity, so when they talk about deficiency issues, you know it’s a big deal. The sad thing is that our Western diet, which is so potentially rich in nutrition, is in practice creating a very deficient, unhealthy population. You may remember we reported on this issue recently.)

24 Apr

Infofest! Handy Health Information

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

It’s an infofest!

I Dream of Disaster

Do you have “worry dreams”? Don’t worry about worrying, because it’s normal!

What Are Americans Like?

Here’s an interesting university guide to understanding Americans. It’s always fun to take a look at ourselves from another’s perspective.

The part the university guide leaves out:

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This is Taminsea’s Flickr Photo

Give a Care

A comprehensive list of resources for caregivers. Everything from low-cost medical care to helpful organizations you can join.

Bush, Congress Face Off

Woot! Now there’s a big surprise, right? Uh huh. No, it’s not Iraq – it’s the contentious debate over Medicare. Dubya and the skittles are all in a big huff over a demand for a timetable of action. Hmm…arguments about a timetable. Seems to be a theme going on.

Ladies Who Lush?

Alcohol harms women far more than men – even when doctors compare results between men and women of the same size and health status. For women, moderation really means “very little”. But don’t worry – you can get your antioxidants from grapes, too! To reduce stress after a long day, experts recommend that women enjoy half a glass of wine. That and a hot bath or a nice neck rub from a family member, spouse or roommate is very soothing (moms: a neck rub makes a great bonding activity with the kids, too). A full glass of wine or a couple of cocktails now and then is not a big deal, but take care not to drink too much on a daily basis. (That really goes for everyone, of course.)

wine

This Photo Belongs to Swanksalot

Question (okay, questions) of the day:

How should we define moderation when it comes to drinking? Do you think the benefits of alcohol outweigh the potential harm? Do you think women really need to stick to just half a glass?

From the blogosphere:

Sara and Aaron here with a few bloggy updates, Apples. One of our favorite blogs, the very saucy Healthbolt, has a brand new look. It incorporates a lot of juicy crimson red, which is never a bad thing! (Wade Meredith, blogger of all things boltish, recently moved to b5media, fellow network home of some of the Bees’ top blog picks: A Hearty Life, Veggie Chic, and Eating Fabulous. This is a top-notch network of excellent bloggers, so don’t miss out on their great tips and interesting perspectives! Go on, scoot!)

Coming up: Be sure to stop in tomorrow for the latest in supplement news from Elliott (what’s real, what’s bogus) and Mark’s analysis of why men die sooner than women. You’ll want to join in that conversation!

Until then, Bees out. It’s been real.

24 Apr

10 Ways to Get an Extra Hour of Sleep

Just…ten…more….minutes. Sound familiar? Many of us are sleep-deprived, groaning through another morning with coffee and those annoyingly peppy news anchors just to get to a reasonable state of functionality. We skip breakfast, practically assault the snooze button, shave or apply makeup in the car (we’ve all seen it!) – just to get a few precious minutes of “extra” sleep. Clearly, that “extra” sleep isn’t extra at all. You probably need it! Here’s how to get it.

10. Tivo your shows.

For a few extra dollars a month, you can watch your favorite programs when it’s convenient for you.

9. Unplug the TV.

Better yet. Unplug the TV except on weekends or other scheduled days. TV disrupts good brain patterns, is subtly stressful to your body, and can keep you up too late. Especially avoid the evening news, which is usually focused on anxiety-inducing topics that are anything but peaceful. TV left on all night as a comfort actually disrupts good sleep and the production of growth hormone, so skip that, too.

8. Unplug the alarm clock.

For many people, the knowledge that the clock will blare all too soon is enough to prevent deep sleep. Do you find yourself waking constantly to check the time? The alarm clock can create anxiety and snooze-buttonitis. Try going to bed early enough to wake naturally at the desired time. Or, try simply trusting yourself – if you tell yourself you need to wake at a certain time, you usually will. This really works for many people – but I don’t recommend this for catching those early morning flights! Our bodies quickly adjust to waking at certain times. If you are at odds with the alarm, that’s a good indication that you need a different sleep cycle.

Another option: talk to your boss about a slightly different work schedule that accommodates your health needs. Be willing to part with some other benefits if a different schedule means a lot to you. (Although, ideally, your boss will understand that flexibility on his/her part will only increase your productivity. Good luck.)

7. Give yourself a “worry time” that is not near bedtime.

People often find themselves worrying or pondering obsessively about their day or upcoming tasks as soon as their heads hit the pillow. Allot a different time, such as a brief period after lunch, for worrying and pondering. Or write down everything before you get into bed. The beauty of this is that by giving yourself a specific, non-bedtime “Fret Fix” you begin to see how silly and needless worrying really is – it’s a great little cure for worrying and stressing in general.

6. Siesta!

If you lunch is an hour, consider napping for half of it from now on. Or take a nap after lunch and work a little bit later each day. This will refresh you enough so that you may not need extra sleep at night.

5. Enforce a strict bedtime rule.

You might just need to go to bed earlier. Whenever you go to bed, make it a rule. There will be times you don’t follow it, of course, but try to get into a regular sleep pattern. Give yourself a little extra time to get relaxed and sleepy – this shouldn’t count into your seven or eight hours.

4. Unplug the phone.

Cut out any possible interruptions that may interfere repeatedly with your sleep.

3. Wear earplugs.

This works wonders! If you are a light sleeper or are sensitive in general, reducing the effectiveness of one of your senses can be more powerful than sleeping pills. Sleeping more soundly through the night isn’t technically “adding” an hour, but it will feel like it.

2. Do you wake up really early from stress

…and then just lie there? Take steps right now to address your anxiety:

- Journal before bed

-Tell yourself, confidently, that you will have a good night’s sleep

- Remind yourself that it’s really okay if you don’t have a good night’s sleep

- Try ten minutes of stretching, a cup of chamomile tea, or a twenty-minute hot bath to help ease stress.

1. Simply grin and bear it?

Learn to get by on less sleep with positive rather than negative tools. Instead of forcing your eyelids open by way of a morning blazing hot shower and endless cups of coffee, get energy from other sources, such as more nutritionally dense foods (protein and fat), daily vigorous exercise (just 15 minutes is all you need), and listening to upbeat music.

Here’s one way to wake up:

How many alarm clocks do YOU need?

Afternoon Naps

How do you get a good night’s sleep? Share your tips!

Like this article? Digg it!

Sponsor note:
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24 Apr

The Fuming Fuji Says No to Little Einsteins Cereal

FUJ

The Fuming Fuji is outraged at the marketing of toxic food, especially when it is aimed at the small fry. This week, the Fuji has decided to have a serious problem with Little Einsteins cereal from General Mills.

But, Fuming Fuji, you say, kids need whole grain and calcium!

The Fuming Fuji says no!

The claim: Fuji, your blasphemous true colors have been revealed. Who would say no to whole grain and calcium? 1 in 10 children don’t get enough grain in their diet. General Mills says cereal is a great way to change this!

The catch: Fuji admits you have caught me in a semantic trap. Good for you. But, I do not say no to fiber and calcium. I say no to these not-genius-at-all candy nuggets that belong in a black hole…known as the trash can.

Who said kids need grains? Why the obsession with obesity-inducing starch for fiber? Only 1 in 10 children get “enough” whole grains? Wonderful! If only that number were zero!

The comeback: Well. A little vehement, don’t you think, Fuji? Look, kids need to eat more grains. Otherwise the corn, soy and wheat industries will fail. Is that really what you want, you bitter little apple? Plus, if you eat these Einstein “nuggets” with milk, you get 10% of your DV of calcium, and that’s why GM can claim to be a “good source of calcium”. Aren’t you guys always talking about the need for fiber and vitamins?

The conclusion: All right, I am really about to fume very hard now. Beware. The Fuji is very much in favor of fiber and vitamins, as stated before. But if you think that cereal made from dehydrated old cheap grains is the brainiest source of fiber, or that 10% of the DV of calcium (added only from Big Moo, not the cereal!) is a “good source”, then the Fuji does not think you would qualify for Mensa at all. But maybe the FDA.

The catchphrase: Little Einsteins cereal? Relativity, all right.

Disclaimer: Mark Sisson and the Worker Bees do not necessarily endorse the views of the Fuming Fuji. No geniuses were harmed in the publishing of this post.

Source: Food Processing, Again

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