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

Mark's Daily Apple

12 Mar

Chocolate & Omega 3′s Benefit Every Body

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

What a great Monday! There’s a lot of interesting clickativity today, with one thing in common: all the news is big!

Click it out:

One More Reason Chocolate Is Great

Science Daily reports that a cocoa discovery may have greater implications for human health than penicillin. Yes, you read that correctly – chocolate may be the biggest health boon…ever.

More research needs to be done, of course, but remember these healthy chocolate pointers:

- Stick with dark chocolate (it’s lower in sugar and higher in antioxidants)

- Stick to small portions (chocolate, like cheese and nuts, is very high in calories)

- Enjoy!

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Swamibu Flickrstream

Huge Omega-3 News for the Little Tykes

Thanks to That’s Fit for reporting on a major new study hot off the presses: omega-3 supplements are not only necessary for children’s brain development, these vital fats, in supplement form, yield major results. You’ll be surprised at how major – the scientists were.

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What Is Being Done About Spinach and Peanut Butter?

The FDA issued voluntary guidelines today in the hopes that food manufacturers will clean up their act. Legislation isn’t being, er, ruled out, but the hope is that voluntary guidelines will be effective.

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Web It Out:

A very entertaining and interesting article debunks online dating services that claim to use highly-accurate psychological matching. Not only is it entertaining, it’s also a good way to learn about scientific accuracy (or, in this case, the lack of it) in studies.

Something any parent could have told them.

12 Mar

Mark’s Weekly Health Challenge

Happy Monday Morning, Apples! Here’s Mark’s healthy suggestion for getting the most out of your week:

Up your antioxidant intake this week the easy way:

Switch from coffee and cocktails to tea. Get refreshed with iced tea, wake up with piping hot green tea, and simmer down with chamomile at night. While we’re not against a cup of joe at Mark’s Daily Apple, sometimes, it’s a good idea to take a little break from caffeine (and alcohol). Have a cup of antioxidants by way of tea instead.

A great web resource for all things tea.

9 Mar

That’s a Wrap!

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

Here’s today’s wrap-up from the world of health, Apples. Thanks for all your great support and feedback this week. Keep those suggestions and questions coming! Stay healthy and have a wonderful weekend!

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Hormones

…in our milk. The latest Big Moo decision is sure to please, although analysts on both sides of the issue wonder how significant the impact of hormones really is. It’s a good question – unfortunately, as of yet, there’s no clear answer, but this decision certainly won’t hurt.

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(Ian Britton photo)

Side Effects Include Death

Yeesh! The FDA issues a warning for anemia drugs (the kind typically used for those who have undergone chemotherapy).

Don’t Have One This Weekend

Apparently, having a stroke over the weekend is riskier than having one during the week. But don’t worry too much: studies show the risk varies between being 4% and 15% greater. While 15% is statistically significant, bear in mind it’s not 15% across the board (oh, fun with stats…). Our take? Since this isn’t really something you can plug into the Blackberry anyway, don’t sweat it too much.

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Striatic Flickrstream

Productive Sleep

And you thought productive leisure time was enough. This is a fascinating article about scent, sleep and memory. Don’t miss it!

Locavores Vs. Organicans

Time has a great piece on the edible issue of going local versus going organic. The debate? What is better: eating an organic apple that traveled halfway around the world thanks to Middle Eastern oil, or munching a local yet pesticide-bedecked Red Delicious? It’s a tough call. What are your thoughts?

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9 Mar

Mat Magic

Introducing a new feature at Mark’s Daily Apple:

Sara Shops (it’s a tough task, but she’s up for the challenge.)

I recently took to yoga and have had quite a bit of fun (make that hip pain) finding the ideal mat. I’ll spare you the pain and eyebrow-raising I endured by sharing my newfound knowledge of rubber rugs with you.

In case you’ve never tried yoga, or think it’s for hippies or Madonna, I highly recommend it. Not only will you glow like a little glowworm, you’ll feel relaxed and loose. Bonus: you’ll lose a few pounds around your middle after just a few sessions (yoga really does massage your organs and flush toxins). It can be pricey, but I’ve managed to find a few spots that offer great package deals, and I even learned about a group that gets together for free – and apparently, this goes on all over the place. Cool!

There are many different types of yoga, of course. Personally, I’m loving good old hatha for increasing my flexibility and sense of relaxation. Although, the two hours being pushed and prodded in iyengar by a very serious husband-and-wife team – easily in their 70s – was more entertaining than anything the Wilson brothers have come up with lately. He was good cop, she was bad cop (I’ve never been so intimidated by someone who weighed, at most, 85 pounds soaking wet).

On to the mat. Not knowing if I would want to stick with yoga, I chose the cheapest mat available. Not a move I’d suggest following (unless you want to put up with some smirks and a lot of pain). After the first session, I knew that I would definitely want to stick with yoga. Unfortunately, I also stuck to my new mat. Though it only cost about $15, the lightweight, all-synthetic foam was far too thin (only about 1/8″) and not nearly squishy enough. Being so thin (the mat), all my joints ached like the dickens the next day.

So, I upgraded to a vinyl sponge mat for $25. This one was a little more generously proportioned (72″ instead of 68″) and is the standard mat most folks go with. It’s still just 1/8″, but it’s squishy, waterproof, and closed-cell non-Latex (this just means it’s better for you because it won’t harbor bacteria). It also has a nice meshy grid that helps you grip. However, after a few weeks with this guy, I was seriously hurting. Maybe my joints are a little too princess-and-the-pea, but I decided to see what else was available.

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I began really investigating the world of yoga mats. All yoga mats break down with use, which actually tends to make them more comfortable (sort of like shoes). And there is a mat for everyone: there are breast cancer mats (a mat for every cause), organic mats made of jute and bamboo (ego-friendly!), temperature-sensitive mats, travel mats, microfiber mats. There are probably even mats that read your mind (ok, maybe not).

The eco-mats are typically made of a thermal plastic elastomer that contains nothing chemical, synthetic or metal. A lot of instructors I asked are really into this new material (prices tend to be a little higher – around $40-60). I wasn’t as sore after using it, and I did feel very, well, close to the ground, but it just wasn’t squishy enough for my tastes. I’m willing to give up a little grounding to feel completely comfortable.

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After spending many hours of eye-glazing surfing at various web sites, I decided my best bet would be visiting a few different stores. The private yoga boutiques had the latest organic, eco and super-comfy offerings – but at really high prices (no surprise there).

Eventually, I settled on a mat from Big 5 that didn’t even claim to be a yoga mat. It’s a meshy, waterproof, 1/4″ wonder that is so comfortable, I could hug it. Though this $40 wonder didn’t come with any special marketing or branding, a similar one is available online (and for much less).

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Various instructors suggested different mats, but they all agreed on one thing: my initial selection was totally inferior. If you’re new to yoga, I suggest borrowing a mat (just clean it!) until you know if yoga is for you. Then be sure to splurge on the most comfortable mat you can afford. It’s well-worth it.

Yoga clickativity

9 Mar

Dr. Lei: “I do?”

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This week, I featured Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei’s b5media blog, A Hearty Life, in my weekly round-up of my perusings in the blogosphere. After checking out several of her posts, I proceeded to offer my opinion: Dr. Lei, while admittedly a very knowledgeable blogger with seriously impressive medical credentials, seems to be pretty traditional when it comes to heart health. (Well, actually, my exact wording was more along the lines of “another site that likes pills!”)

Dr. Lei took issue with this, citing several of her alternative-friendly posts on non-drug heart treatments like meditative breathing and natural statin alternatives. She was clearly bummed that what I took away from her blog was an exclusively traditional perspective. While our views aren’t really much aligned (as you all know, we are really big on prevention around here), Lei’s integrity, expertise and personal style deserve a lot of credit and a closer look.

© 2014 Mark's Daily Apple