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

Mark's Daily Apple

25 Apr

It’s a Bad Day for Big Agra & Big Pharma

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

Woo hoo! Bigs cry, Bees cheer.

Stop Feeding Junk to the Kidlets

For the love of Fuji, can we please stop slinging soda and chips and pizza at children? Vending machines and cafeterias are contributing to an obesity epidemic that is an embarrassing indictment of our public education system. Fortunately, some standards may soon be put in place. The only thing we’re concerned about is that these new “standards” aren’t exactly the cornucopia of healthy food you’d hope for. But anything is better than nuggets and fries. You’ll want to read about this news out today over at this blog, because it’s put in a far more entertaining and insightful light than the AP release going around the web.

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This Photo Belongs to Mr Wabu

Sara adds: One of my favorite blogs, The Cardio Blog, got into this very controversial issue yesterday. I left a comment, and I encourage you to do the same (tell me I’m way off or tell me I’m right, and give that blog some well-deserved props for addressing this very important issue). That blog has gone from pretty sanitized to downright compelling lately, which I know you’ll appreciate. So check it out!

Tell Us Something We Don’t Know

This is news? It gets worse. Don’t miss this blog’s analysis. Think that it’s just a conspiracy theory that Big Pharma is trying to buy off doctors? Think again.

Harming Moms and Babies

Big Agra doesn’t like moms breast-feeding because, to be blunt, it’s not profitable. So, they’re very cleverly playing into the obesity epidemic scare by inventing formula that “prevents” obesity. Way to love the next generation, guys.

Doctors and Nutrition

You know that saying about how doctors only receive one semester of nutritional training? (And boy, is it woefully out of date.) Well, here’s some good progress being made.

As if we weren’t already in enough trouble, be sure to visit tomorrow to read Mark’s piece, “How to Get Sick and Die” (we’re not stopping until we’re in hot water with The Man). Until tomorrow, Apples!

25 Apr

Are Men the Weakest Link?

Why do women outlive men?

There are plenty of theories about this. The pat answer from the Angry Guys Crowd is often, “Well, duh, we work harder and are more stressed out.” Aw, grow up. I’m certainly not the most politically correct of men, and I think the wave of feminism in the early 90s was pretty tough for a lot of guys to swallow (forever giving that Limbaugh something to rant about). But news flash, guys. Nearly as many women work full-time as men, more women now go to college than men, and if raising kids while simultaneously working a career isn’t stressful, what is?

As the parents of both a teen girl and boy, Carrie and I see very stressful challenges beginning to hit both of them. Let’s be honest: girls are still expected to look attractive, but now they need to be increasingly career-minded and financially savvy, too. Boys have a sharp line to walk – these days, men are also judged by their appearance as well as the traditional “manly” achievements like financial success and social leadership. (That said, still, I don’t see any guy having to deal with the question: “But how will I balance work and family?” This still confronts most women.) This isn’t about me piping up on the politics of feminism, but any guy who still thinks men work harder or are more stressed out needs to take a look around. Men and women both have unique stresses and challenges, and the real issue here is health.

So if it’s not really the level of stress or the 9-to-5 life, why are guys still croaking 5 to 10 years earlier than women? Is it because men go to the doctor less, are taught as boys to ignore pain, take more risks (cars, sports, booze, fights) and eat more junk? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. But that’s not all.

Are men still kicking the bucket too early because more money has been diverted in recent years to women’s health? That’s what this article, which inspired this post, questions (it’s a knock-out piece of reporting, so please check it out). But that argument doesn’t pass muster. It might be a factor, but the overwhelming issue here is that men just don’t go to the doctor. For example, every guy knows prostate cancer is a big risk to all men – but we avoid the doctor anyway. I don’t think the fact that more money has finally been spent on women’s breast cancer research is the reason men are dying of prostate cancer or are dying sooner in general. This boys-versus-girls health debate makes for a good news piece on the T.V., but biology is the answer here, not politics.

Even accounting for all possible factors, and even when the odds are fairly and squarely stacked, scientists come up with the same darn result every time: the dudes do not fare well.

Here’s the reason: nature didn’t design us to live as long as women. (Gasp!) Men may be the stronger, tougher sex. We’ve got brute force down cold. We can fight off a pack of wolves like no other – guys, we rock. Unfortunately, we now live in the modern world, where it’s much more desirable and useful to our families for us to live a long time, not fend off roaming wild animals. Guys, when it comes to our biology, we need an update. Man 2.0.

It all goes back to human development (and the article mentioned above explores this nicely, too). It made sense for a man to be stronger and tougher but not long-lived, because men were, frankly, expendable. Yes, men, we are completely replaceable. Little prehistoric tribe loses a guy? No big deal – another guy could easily take his place (in frank reproductive survival terms). One man could ensure the survival of a village if absolutely necessary, but a group needs more than one woman to keep going. From an evolutionary biology perspective, women were just more valuable. Men are designed to run fast and furious – it’s not a slow burn.

So, now that we are all living in a modern world, if men want to live longer, we’ve got to upgrade the system. Men, we have to manage stress better. (Not because we’re more stressed; but because our bodies don’t handle stress as well. Girls get most of the soothing oxytocin). As in, reduce it and let it out so you feel relaxed (that means lots of exercise, not solely beer and the game, genius). You have to work out more than your wife, period. You do. You have to stop eating fast food, period. Completely.

A guy who avoids fast food, really manages stress, and stays trim has an excellent shot at some serious longevity. But biology, in addition to all the stupid stuff we do in our twenties, has set us up for shorter lifespans, so take action today, guys.

What are your thoughts?

If you like this piece, please Digg it.

If you’re a science nut like me, here are some great blogs:

Art DeVany – a good friend of mine and an original thinker with an interesting perspective

Omni Brain – all about the human brain: fun, interesting and informative

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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.)

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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.

© 2014 Mark's Daily Apple