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

Mark's Daily Apple

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!

28 Mar

A Word on Those Juicing Infomercials

A reader recently asked me if I recommend juicing as a way to increase your intake of vitamins and antioxidants.

Here’s what I think:

1 – Juicing isn’t a good idea because you lose out on one of the principle benefits of fruit: the fiber. Fiber aids in digestion, of course, but it also helps keep your blood sugar from spiking. Drinking pure juice has an effect that is really no different from chowing a candy bar or slamming a soda.

Fiber helps regulate the absorption of fructose into your system. If you’ve heard about the glycemic index, you probably already know about the important role fiber plays in evenly releasing glucose into your bloodstream. (If not, check out the official Glycemic Index.)

2 – When you take out the fiber, you’re left with sugar. My readers know I’m no fan of the sweet stuff, especially from sources like high fructose corn syrup, refined flours and starches, and processed foods. I think for most people anything over 80 grams of carbohydrates a day – roughly three servings – is a terrible idea, yet Americans routinely eat three or four or even five times that. (By the way, I’m talking about carbohydrates from flours and starches, not nuts, fruits and vegetables! Eat those recklessly!)

There’s no reason any child or adult – excluding athletes – needs to ever drink a “sports beverage” or an “energy drink”. These things are basically a pancreatic panic attack waiting to happen. Juice gets a bill of health because we all know fruit is healthy, but juice is not fruit. The truth is that juice is virtually no different from these other sugary drinks.

3 – Juice is dirty. If you caught Wise Bread’s discussion of food manufacturing secrets the other day, you’ll remember the particularly disgusting news that orange juice is typically made from oranges that are coated in all sorts of pesticides and chemicals. And it all goes right into the juice.

When you “juice” at home, this is still a problem. Wash an orange, peel and eat it – you’ve avoided the chemicals because, perhaps even more important than washing, you removed the skin. Wash that orange and throw it into the juicer, however, and you’ve just ingested whatever chemicals were hanging out in the peel that didn’t get washed off. Juicing infomercials typically brag about how wonderfully potent juice is because it offers several servings of fruit in one glass. Think about that now with pesticides. (Also, a glass of juice is not several servings of fruit, anymore than a mug of chicken broth is several servings of chicken breast. You can get around pesticides by going organic, but you’ve still got that pesky sugar problem.)

nutrition, fruit, juice, food, health, juicing

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28 Mar

Top 10 Top 10 Health Lists

Everyone loves a useful, pithy top ten – you MDA frequent flyers know that Mark delivers a piping hot set every Tuesday.

But with so many blogs, and so little time (darn work keeps gettin’ in the way), it’s hard to know which top tens are really…top. Never fear, Apples. I have spent the week scouring the blogosphere for the most helpful, enjoyable top ten lists to get you healthy, lean, fit, rested, and stress-free.

A list of lists: presenting the Top Ten Top Ten

10. Good Foods Gone Bad

I would add that in addition to fried fish sticks, popcorn shrimp and white-meat chicken nuggets are also lean protein sources gone very, very bad. The Doc makes an excellent point that we make these bad foods even worse by masking their bland flavor in unhealthy sauces.

9. Weight Loss Myths

Wow – this is a list you cannot miss! A sample: Fat isn’t bad. Sit-ups won’t give you a six-pack. And endless wailing at the cardio machine is not necessarily healthy.

8. Most Popular Trans Fat Foods

Some of them are sneaky!

7. Why We Have an Obesity Epidemic

An unusual list of reasons you may not have considered. I think too much in = not enough out is the obvious major culprit for obesity, but this list serves to show us that it’s really our entire lifestyle contributing to the obesity epidemic. In fact, if you think about it, it would be weird if we didn’t have an obesity epidemic – and isn’t that sad?

6. If This Doesn’t Make You Stop Smoking…

A refreshing take on why quitting smoking is so important.

5. Wake Up Feeling Great!

Careful on #5: remember to breathe and relax for best balance.

4. Exercise Myths

Absolutely one of the best round-ups of fitness myths I’ve seen. Each one is commonly believed by many of us, and this handy guide expertly debunks them all.

3. Speed Up a Sluggish Metabolism

This isn’t just a problem for overweight people. (In fact, part of the reason overweight people have extra pounds is because they have really good metabolisms! Possibly thanks to gut bugs, their bodies have become a little too efficient – great in prehistoric times, not so great now.)

This list offers some great tips, though I wouldn’t recommend a) high-intensity cardio more than once or twice a week, or b) drinking ice water for caloric burn.

Too much cardio actually stimulates cortisol and adrenaline, because the body thinks it’s in “fight or flight” panic mode. (Now, now, don’t be too sad about cutting back on the cardio machines.) As far as drinking ice water goes, this is one of those “relative nutrition” things Mark always talks about. It might help, it probably won’t hurt, but it’s such a marginal influence either way, don’t expect big results.

2. Hilarious Health Myths

The bread crust myth was new to me. Anyone else heard this one before? Apples?

1. Ten Reasons to Take a Walk

I like this list because it takes one enjoyable habit and shows you how this habit can alleviate all your health, exercise, and stress concerns. Nice, simple concept, easy to do, and really healthy!

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27 Mar

It Beats a Whole-Wheat Donut

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

Here’s the clickativity!

Asthmatic

The world’s top three asthma experts are presenting a shocking new finding: that asthma you’ve been treating may be a different health problem altogether.

inhaler

Stent Stunt

And another potential case of seriously misguided therapies: stents versus … everything else. Turns out that natural therapies (weight loss, exercise, reducing bad cholesterol) are still your best bet.

Helpful information: Wondering about the advice to take an aspirin a day? Many doctors advise it, and the FDA recommends it, but given the side effects and differing studies, we encourage you to think twice before following that recommendation. In fact, here is a refreshingly brief, balanced analysis of the news that women in particular should take a daily aspirin. It’s worth reading in its entirety to learn about the critical differences in types of studies – and how this has an impact on your health!

A safe, natural alternative to aspirin: white willow.

When aspirin is O.K.: For those who have suffered from a heart attack, aspirin does help. And in the event of a heart attack, taking an aspirin immediately can make all the difference.

(Psst: mixing aspirin with other drugs is a recipe for trouble).

aspirin

This is Big Kung Fu Master’s Photo

Super Pizza Saves the Day

The effort to create a healthy pizza rivaling the powers of the X-men is admirable and better than, say, whole wheat donuts.

But, you could just eat the healthy ingredients and leave the dough and processed meats out of the equation. The campaign to make pizza, donuts and other hand-held foods healthy is just begging for a sociology grad student’s analysis. What is it about the need to hold one’s food? Burritos, pizza slices and bagels enjoy success not seen since the aluminum can was given its complementary can opener (it only took 40 years).

Web it out:

Why it’s healthy for kids to eavesdrop

27 Mar

You’re Only 2 Feet Away from Changing Your Health Forever

We fret. We’re fretters.

We worry and obsess about which diets to try, what kind of exercise to do, and which weapon is most powerful in the all-consuming War on Free Radicals.

Hey, it’s all important. But here’s a big secret about getting and staying healthy: the little things do count. That’s because health is cumulative. Make a few really simple switches, stick with them until they’re habits, and you’re well on your way. Eventually, the habits add up, and you’ll get into Total Health Overhaul Territory. But the belief that THOT happens overnight, with a single “I’m really, no, really gonna do it this time!” vow, is a myth. Stop pressuring yourself! It’s not that tough!

Start small – really small. As in, the two feet of refrigerator real estate we all have reserved for condiments. Also known as those “foods” that last longer than some relationships.

Ten condiments you really don’t want in your fridge – and what to replace them with:

10. Oh sodium, how I love thee.

You don’t want: soy sauce

At least it won’t kill you: light soy sauce

You do want: Bragg’s aminos

Aminos don’t make the world a better place, but they’re really good for you.

soysauce

This is Mapgoblin’s Photo

9. Mrs. Butterworth(less)

You don’t want: artificial maple syrup

At least it won’t kill you: whole-wheat pancakes with fresh fruit and honey

You do want: a sparing amount of real maple syrup + fresh fruit + nuts

Get the flavor of pancakes and syrup without giving your pancreas hives. (Sorry, Mrs. Butterworth.)

apple

This is Flickrich’s Photo

8. Yea, though I walk through the aisle of dressing…

You don’t want: Hidden Valley anything

At least it won’t kill you: raspberry vinaigrette

You do want: balsamic vinegar and olive oil

Try walnut and avocado oils for variety. It’s best to mix up your own vinegar/oil combos, because many vinaigrettes are high in sugar and come drenched in additives.

slick

This is Krobbie’s Photo

7. That thing about sugar and spice being nice? Yeah, they were wrong.

You don’t want: BBQ sauce

At least it won’t kill you: steak sauce (still loaded with weird things, but only a few calories and no sugar)

You do want: to whip up your own marinades using vinegars, oils, and fresh herbs

Spices: paprika, cumin, chili powder, garlic, salt, pepper. Add those spices to equal parts tomato paste, dijon mustard, and olive oil. Give it a dash of apple cider vinegar. So easy, it doesn’t feel right (but it is).

6. Avoid pale things

You don’t want: mayonnaise

At least it won’t kill you: Omega-3 mayonnaise (still often uses canola and palm oil, but better)

You do want: European yogurt (admittedly pale, but that can’t be helped, can it?)

This plain, high-fat, sugar-free yogurt also goes by “Greek” or “Mediterranean” yogurt. It’s got that mayo tang, it’s dense and smooth, and it’s healthy.

5. No seriously, avoid pale things

You don’t want: cream cheese (contrary to popular belief, this is not protein)

At least it won’t kill you: cottage cheese

You do want: organic cottage cheese

I recommend the full-fat version (yeah, I know, I’m crazy). Full-fat means less processing, less sugar, and more satisfaction – so you’ll eat less of it.

yum

This is Limone’s Photo

4. Toast-tearing conspiracy?

You don’t want: peanut butter (full of oil, sugar and, oh yeah, bugs)

At least it won’t kill you: organic peanut butter

You do want: fresh, unsalted nuts, or a healthier nut butter like almond butter

Peanuts often contain aflatoxins. Clickativity: what Dr. Weil has to say about those. Isn’t it irritating trying to spread cold peanut butter on toast? Is it just me? This is why I don’t eat bread (O.K., not really).

squirrel

This is Mikeworld’s Photo

3. With a name like Smuckers, it doesn’t have to be anything

You don’t want: jelly, jam, and any other high-sugar “fruit” spread

At least it won’t kill you: fruit preserves with no added sugar

You do want: fresh fruit

I like to chop up a few different fruits, toss ‘em in the blender for a few seconds, and promptly devour the entire thing (the fruit, not the blender). This “jam” tastes great on whole wheat products, but I prefer it on chicken breast and fresh fish.

fruitsalad

This is C. Zwerg’s Photo

2. No cause for alarm

You don’t want: chemical-laden, trendy spicy sauces that cost $4 for a tiny bottle

At least it won’t kill you: hoisin sauce

You do want: Tabasco or any other chili sauce

Never underestimate the power of heat for your health. Just make sure you’re ingesting real spices, not factory flavorings.

1. Dyed and gone to…

You don’t want: any of the plethora of colorful condiments aimed at kids (do we need purple anything?)

At least it won’t kill you: ketchup (it’s got a little sugar, and who knows where those tomatoes came from, but you’ll get a generous serving of antioxidants)

You do want: salsa!

A lot of people forget that salsa is a vegetable. Make your own or buy the fresh stuff for a sodium-free version of this veggie topping that goes on just about everything except cereal.

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