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

Mark's Daily Apple

20 Feb

Healthy Tastes Great!

Maple-Pesto Salmon Salad with Golden Raisins, Toasted Pine Nuts, and Hearts of Palm

19 Feb

Feeling Presidential?

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites

So, it’s Presidents’ Day. What’s the appropriate adjective? Happy Presidents’ Day? Merry Presidents’ Day? Oh Yeah It’s Presidents’ Day Again?

Here’s the day’s most important health news, Apples:

Unraveling Autism

Autism news has been all over the place lately – first with the news that 1 in 150 children are autistic, and today’s splash: autism may have a genetic component. Here’s a blog that does a good job of following autism news, although we take issue (albeit very small issue) with the statement that “autism is genetic”. The study that’s hitting headlines does not really claim that genetics cause autism. Rather, scientists have identified a particular genetic abnormality, in one gene, in autistic children.

helix

Mike Knowles photo
They aren’t sure what this means (they’re working on it). It could indicate predisposition or cause. The lead scientist in the study explained that autism could still be (and likely is) related to environmental factors – and that clearly, many factors play a role in autism, which is actually a spectrum of disorders.

Bad News for Reese’s?

Peanut butter is officially jumping the shark. But chocolate is good for you. This has got to be confusing for Reese’s peanut butter cups. Just kidding…no one should be eating that junk anyway. Dogpile rocks, which is really what we wanted to share with you! (Get clickative to find out what we’re talking about. It will all make sense if you click. Promise.)

Eat this kind of chocolate:

greenandblacks

This is from Green and Black’s site.

Real chocolate is a great source of brain-boosting antioxidants and has very little sugar compared to “regular” chocolate (which, all together now…is not actually chocolate). We’re not saying you should make a meal out of it, but the American chocolate situation (in our view, catastrophe) is a classic example of food producers taking something that is simultaneously rich and healthy and wonderful…and ruining it. If you’re used to Kit Kats and Snickers, you are not living, kid! That is not chocolate! Move on up to this decadent, rich, heady stuff – it won’t take much to get a serious chocolate fix.

But not this kind:

hershey
This kind is not chocolate. Repeat: not chocolate. This is hydrogenated oil, sugar, chemicals, and some cheap cocoa powder and flavoring. It is not chocolate – it is addictive junk, but it’s not chocolate.

19 Feb

Holy Grails of Health

Taking a look at the health headlines this afternoon, I’m struck again by how much information is really disinformation, misinformation, and my personal favorite, uninformation (e.g. exercise is good! try to quit smoking! eat healthy!).

Every day, I see the most sensational (but worthless), the most inaccurate, and the most outdated health information disseminated. Question the “holy grails” of health and suffer the wrath of so-called experts (who are often no better informed than you). The holy grails I challenge:

- Is type 2 diabetes a disease or a natural response to a toxic diet?

- Is cholesterol the cause of heart disease, or the body’s desperate attempt to repair damage?

- Why rely on the BMI – are there better indicators of physical fitness and healthy weight?

- Do we really need 8, or 10, or 12 glasses of water daily – or should we drink when we’re thirsty?

- Is milk fit for human consumption? How about grains? Why did these get the “perfect food” labels?

- Is our diet really providing all the nutrients we need?
mcds

The Onion

Consider one typical path of health information for a moment:

- A study is performed which may or may not be funded by a company or special interest hoping for a certain result.

- Scientists may or may not find the results that were desired, and may or may not present those results in an accurate way (if you’re a lab tech at the FDA, chances are good that you’ve been threatened, warned, or cajoled for attempting to do your job).

- The company or special interest releases this “news” in a particular way, and the media may or may not do background digging to determine the accuracy, fairness, or potential bias inherent in the release.

- Our own biases, background and desires filter how we interpret and accept or reject the news, which may or may not be accurate news to begin with.

- The government may or may not look out for the truth. The FDA is replete with ex-Pharma pros and the federal legislature is inundated with special interest dollars and deals. Though the government is supposed to look out for public health, I’d argue that public servants actually have less incentive to be honest or ethical than average citizens, because reelection is often tied to perception of results, not actual results. Fail, and you can spin it. If a businessperson fails, it’s hard to spin your way out of that – you failed, period. There are consequences.

Where are the consequences for the FDA or pharmaceutical companies? Theoretically, legislation and lawsuits “protect” the consumer, but I don’t see that these things have yielded measurable improvement. Sure, Big Puff shelled out a boatload of cash in the ’90s in class-action suits, but behind our backs, at the very same time, the very same tobacco companies were increasing the nicotine levels in cigarettes. If that’s not spite…

Who has a vested interest in Americans being sick, overweight, and unhealthy? With 74% of us overweight, and serious health issues like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension skyrocketing and leaving other industrialized nations in the dust, we are quite literally a sick nation.

It ain’t just Kentucky, folks. Clearly, individuals are not benefiting – so who is? Who would stand to benefit from addiction, sickness, and ignorance?

I’m not a conspiracy theorist (and do they ever drive me nuts). On the contrary, I think the most obvious, logical explanation is usually the correct one. So, I’m not suggesting a group of old men with an affinity for expensive cigars cooked up a massive plot to enslave and profit from innocent Joes and Janes. They didn’t have to.

It’s plain as day, and really, it’s just biology: humans become quickly habituated, even addicted, to what is pleasurable and requires the least effort (enter fast food and huge portions). We’re hardwired for feast-or-famine. Problem is, these days, it’s feast all the time.

Humans also like to find a way to make money to acquire even more pleasurable things. We do this quite well, usually by supplying something other humans are demanding (enter pharmaceuticals).

lionsavannah

Built for survival and having learned through trial and error that passing up pleasure is a bad idea (hey, it might be a week before another juicy goat carcass pops up), humans tend to stick with activities that reinforce pleasurable feelings, and we tend to go for shortcuts – this is all built into our biology. It worked when we had to haul that goat carcass across the savannah back to our hole in the ground where our young were – hopefully – waiting, if they hadn’t been devoured by a passing lion. It doesn’t work so well now. Although, it’s certainly working for someone.

We’re feasting our brains out, with very predictable results: obesity, sickness, disease, depression.

So, who can benefit from taking responsibility, becoming as informed as possible, making conscious decisions congruent with your beliefs and knowledge, and actively pursuing good health?

You, that’s who.

You are the only one who is truly responsible for your own health – being a victim is not a modus operandi that does anyone any good. Period.

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19 Feb

Weekly Health Challenge

Don’t let heredity become a nonrefundable ticket to the land of illness. Just because a disease or illness is common in your family doesn’t mean you have to accept it for you.

The drug and medical industries like to tell us we can blame every flaw, problem and health issue on our genes. That’s really convenient if you want to give someone else control over your health (how nice for Big Pharma), but it’s inaccurate and frankly, no way to go through life.

Genes do play a role in predisposition, but you have far more choice than you may realize. Things like cancer, diabetes and obesity do run in families, because families perpetuate particular habits and lifestyles (there’s a no-brainer). Fortunately, so many “hereditary” health problems are often totally preventable! Through a combination of regular medical screenings, healthy food, stress management, and daily exercise, you can and will steer clear of most of these so-called “genetic” health woes. I challenge you to think about whatever illness is common in your gene pool – whether that’s arthritis or colon cancer – and take preventive steps right now. Start writing your own health history this week.

Web it out:

A very sensible apricot

My point exactly!

19 Feb

A Monday Moment

We all know we’re supposed to “forgive and forget” in order to move on from past hurts and get the most out of life. But of course, that’s often easier said than done, and it can even be confusing. Does forgiving mean being a doormat and letting people hurt us? Does forgetting mean we don’t get wiser with experience? Why forgive?

Navigating hurt isn’t easy. But it can be helpful to remind ourselves that forgiving isn’t really for the person who has hurt you – it’s for you. By no means should you “forget” the experience, because that’s just foolish. But forgiveness is empowering because it allows you to move on and not let the person who hurt you continue to have a hold over your thoughts and feelings – after all, that experience is in the past and no longer exists. That’s the forgetting part – you learn from your mistake (or theirs), but you forget the anger or sadness or whatever other negative emotion is associated with that experience. Life is hard; it is unfair; it is uncertain. Loving yourself enough to forgive, forget and move on is a healthy thing, because it’s an indication that you are embracing the present moment as it actually exists, rather than dwelling on things that no longer have any bearing on who you are at this moment.

This doesn’t mean we stick around for more abuse or act like doormats. It’s smart, and necessary, to move on from people and situations that have caused you harm. But you shouldn’t beat yourself up about these things, either, by continuing to think about them. Many of us are trapped by “ghosts” of the past. Sometimes letting go can feel like a loss of control or power. Letting go and moving on can even feel like insult added to the injury – as if to diminish or deny the validity and intensity of your own feelings (“if I let it go, were my feelings about it worth nothing?”). It can become a vicious loop.

I believe there’s a very simple way out of that cycle of hurt:

Love your past, but don’t live it.

Love your mistakes, your bad judgment calls, your feelings, your thoughts – all of it. Accept that it was all necessary to get you to this point. And then forgive yourself. You can love the “old you” who experienced that painful situation without continuing to live it. Moving on doesn’t mean that experience was invalid or you were necessarily wrong to act or feel the way you did. It’s who you were and what you were capable of at that time. But now you’re different – now you’re in this moment. So cut yourself some slack – love yourself for screwing up, feeling what you felt, and so on.

That was then, this is now – love your past, but don’t relive it. You have new, better memories (and mistakes) to make, so get to it!

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