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

Mark's Daily Apple

25 Jan

Get It While It’s Hot!

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

All the news, none of the preservatives.

1) Inflammation Causes Cancer

This is huge news, so be sure to spread it! Scientists have long suggested a link between inflammation and cancer, but lacked conclusive evidence. Lo and behold…

Inflammation is caused by many things. Among the most common culprits: injury, stress, smoking, alcohol abuse, obesity (this is a “two way street”), and poor diet. Pro-inflammatory foods are – you guessed it – the most common foods in the American diet. To avoid inflammation, avoid sugars and starches, fried foods, and processed, packaged items. Examples are waffles, pasta, french fries, snacks and chips, pastries, and frozen convenience meals.

cells

Translation: stay away from things that inflame! Inflammation is a common culprit behind obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and much more.

In related health matters, acid reflux may lead to cancer, too. And guess what causes acid reflux? Your buddy, inflammation. Like the guy on the couch in your college days, it’s time to say goodbye if you’re letting inflammation hang around and damage your health. Here are important things to avoid if you want to reduce heartburn and reflux risk.

2) Fun Facts About Mark’s Daily Apple

Did you know that hovering over links and pictures here at Mark’s Daily Apple can provide you with hours of hilarious entertainment? That’s because we pride ourselves on sneaking in funny (okay, maybe cheesy is more like it) comments when Mark is not looking. Don’t tell him.

Another fun fact:

See that nifty little description above Mark’s head? We’re going to be holding a contest to change it (which means the contest just started). One of the Bees likes “Better than bran muffins.” Mark says “Will blog for health.” We want to know what your idea is! We know there’s a witty, funny, healthy phrase inside you, just waiting to get out! So tell us. Shoot us your ideas by clicking “Ask Anything!” at the top of this page. A very cool and healthy reward goes to the first winner. Because hey, we might just change it again.

3) Embolization is the new surgery! Wait…what’s embolization?

Scientists say that uterine fibroid tumors can be treated successfully without surgery, which involves serious risks, side effects and longer hospital stays. The trade-off: one in five women undergoing the embolization process has to come back for more traditional treatments. But it’s a reasonable and encouraging alternative to the invasive and permanent nature of hysterectomies.

4) Fizzy Fruit

We’re in a tizzy over fizzy fruit (hey, we couldn’t resist). Thanks to Dr. Mercola for the heads-up: this ridiculously unhealthy “fruit” product aimed at children is being marketed with the help of some old Coca-Cola pros. Now if you’ll excuse us, the Fuming Fuji has blown his top and we need to call the contractor.

Fruit is already fun for kids. We don’t need to make it fizzy – who needs yet another processed food? This is one more example of taking a food that has a vague reputation of health, turning it into a processed, unnatural product, and espousing it as a health food. Fresh, whole, natural foods are best – isn’t that simply common sense?

Unfortunately, this is one of those items that kids will love and parents may go along with because of the convenience factor – and fruit is “healthy”, right? Of course children love sugar and soda – which is what this snack boils down to. The carbonation may not have added sugar, but this is a glorified dessert nevertheless.

Here’s Fizzy Fruit’s bizarre wonderland website. Is it a farm, Hollywood, a scary freeway, or Wonka’s magic factory? We want to know: how do these enemies of children’s health sleep at night knowing they’re contributing to a lifetime of bad health for the next generation? (And what genius thinks words like “Fizzonator” and “Serfizzes” are clever? Kids are smart, so this is insulting, which tells you a lot about what the company’s real aims are.)
fizz

25 Jan

The Sisson Spoof

There’s nothing “golden” about this nutrition information. Are you still lovin’ it?

mcd 1
25 Jan

Healthy Tastes Great!

Tempeh Stir-Fry with Broccoli

(nix the brown sugar and go light on the organic peanut butter to create this tasty vegetarian dish)

tempeh
24 Jan

Bees Knees

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

Regulation and health care dominate the news today. Today’s bites are more fun – and by the time they figure everything out, you’ll be healthy anyway.

1) You’ve got to be kidding!

Here’s an example of inane spin from mainstream medical reporting. It’s also a handy lesson in debunking ridiculous studies. It’s worth scrolling to the last 4 paragraphs of this article to see why drug-pushing doctors shouldn’t be quite so quick to pat themselves on the back. (Also: blood pressure problems go away entirely with daily exercise, avoidance of processed foods, and stress management. And we still have the highest rate of heart disease anywhere. So let’s work on that!)

striatic

2) Fiber Beats Breast Cancer

Common sense, but now more studies are proving this. We’re laughing at the dietary recommendations of this article, however. Who is going to eat four slices of bread and four other grain servings in a single day? Someone who will get diabetes, that’s who. Notice the broccoli serving suggestion – are they joking? Eating 5 servings of vegetables in a day will eliminate the need for all that sugar. Fiber is king, but grains aren’t the best source – especially bread and cereals. Beans are better, since they’re less processed. The recommendations are just wacky – two tablespoons of broccoli is not even an ounce! 4 ounces of broccoli (the equivalent of your fist) yields more fiber than ten slices of bread. Honestly, people!

littletrees

3) Bust a bad mood now!

Here’s how. We love the idea of an emergency bad mood kit! Kick that bad mood to the curb where it belongs.

smiley
24 Jan

10 Things to Know about Tofu

Soy. Tofu. Tempeh. Make that steaming rubbery gray squares of questionable origin.

I get a lot of questions about this bland food product we call by various names. Do I eat tofu? Is it healthy? Is it manna from heaven? Or will it cause your voice to jump an octave and your hormones to rage out of control?

I don’t want to claim to “set the record straight” on this topic, which is something a lot of people do in the health world (make that every area of life, right?). Science and experience are always revealing new information and insights, so I don’t like to be assumptive by claiming one food is definitively bad or good for all eternity.

That said, here are 10 important things I think everyone should know about tofu:

1. Hill of beans

Whole soybeans, or edamame (in-the-shell version), are a great plant protein source. I eat soybeans regularly and I think this is a great way to eat soy because beans are unprocessed, fresh, and whole. Soybeans do have a bit more fat than other beans, but they are a hearty protein and contain valuable phyto-nutrients. Soybeans do contain plant estrogens and phytic acid (more on that in a moment), so no, tofu is not a “miracle” health food. But it’s also not evil, unlike fat-free devil’s food cookies.

edamame

2. What’s this about black beans?

Did you know that douchi, the black beans commonly used in Asian cooking (think black bean sauce), are actually just fermented soy beans? Fermented foods are very high in nutritional value, so I recommend getting some sort of fermented food in your diet daily (organic sugar-free yogurt, kefir, kimchi and fermented olives or vegetables are great examples). Fermented foods reduce cholesterol and improve digestion and immunity.

In general, I recommend fermented soy products such as black beans because other, processed soy products like soy milk and tofu contain phytic acid, which does inhibit some nutrient absorption (hence the soy controversy).

3. Soybean oil

Soybean oil is heavily refined and ought to be avoided. This junk won’t do you any health favors at all. Aside from anti-nutritive compounds in soybean oil, most soybean oil contains some level of dangerous trans fat (even the “trans-free” varieties are still heavily refined and contain chemically-modified fat molecules). You’ll notice this worthless oil in most processed foods, which is why I advocate sticking to fresh, unprocessed meals. You don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen to eat healthily – salads, steamed veggies and grilled fish take just minutes to prepare once you learn to make them.

4. Soy nuts, chips, and snacks

Here is where we can make a really important distinction. Take even the healthiest food and turn it into a processed snack, and it is no longer healthy! Whether soy is a miraculous heart-healthy food or not, processing anything destroys valuable nutrients and enzymes and usually means added fat, sugar, and chemicals. I see people purchasing and eating unhealthy snacks every day simply because there is a trendy ingredient or some sneaky marketing. Sun chips and pita chips are examples. Somehow, these items garner the reputation of “healthy” and “wholesome” even though they are processed, nutritionally-deficient, and usually high in refined (trans) fat. An apple is healthy until you dunk it in caramel sauce. Soybeans are healthy until you turn them into faux nuts.

For example, chocolate-covered soy nuts are not healthy just because they are made from soybeans.

soynuts

5. Soy milk

Though I’m not a big fan of dairy, I don’t recommend making soy milk a regular part of your diet. Soy milk contains phytic acid, which inhibits the absorption of nutrients. It’s also rather high in sugar and is so heavily processed, it can hardly be thought of as a “health” food. It’s probably fine once in a while for those who are not sensitive to plant estrogens and who don’t like dairy milk, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to include it in the diet. Remember, there simply is no magic bullet for health.

6. Tofu

By now, tofu – in all its slippery and firm incarnations – has made its way into the mainstream of the American diet. Sort of. The texture is something we may never fantasize about, but it is a nice occasional alternative protein source, especially for vegetarians and people who want to avoid too much meat (given the way meat is produced these days). I say occasional because, remember, it is a highly-processed food. Many types of tofu – especially “mock meats” – are really akin to processed deli meats and sausages. Of course, tofu comes from a bean and doesn’t contain antibiotics, added hormones and animal products, but it’s still – all together now – a processed food. In fact, I really don’t think tofu is much different from a slice of low-fat cheddar. Puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

7. Tempeh

Here’s where soy gets healthy (finally!). Fermented soy products are rich in isoflavones, which are excellent for the heart and may even prevent cancer. The good news is that you can find fermented soy milk and tofu if you look for it (and grocery stores will often start carrying it if you just ask). Tempeh is a chewy, nutty, meaty type of soy product that is loaded with isoflavones, so I do recommend this. I think it’s a lot tastier than tofu, too.
tempeh

8. Miso

Miso is a fermented, thick soy paste. It’s great for soups and contains high levels of isoflavones and acts as a probiotic.

9. A little perspective

Removing certain parts of the soybean – say, oil, or protein – and expecting this to render fabulous health results is where we go wrong, I think. In general, any highly-processed food just isn’t what nature intended, and contributes to disease and obesity. This applies to many foods – yogurt is another great example. We hear that the fermented cultures are good for the gut, but Big Moo delivers what is more like glorified dessert than a health food. Full of sugar, gums, thickeners, dyes, chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones, yogurt becomes about as healthy as a candy bar.

10. The estrogen factor

Oh, the studies. There’s always a study for every side of a contentious health issue, and soy is no exception. One study shows that soy is dangerous for boys during puberty. Another shows that soy may help menopause symptoms. Another shows that soy may inhibit fertility. Yet another shows that soy may help prevent cancer and heart disease. I recommend doing a search for soy at vitasearch.com. Type “Is soy healthy?” into Google and you’re going to get a lot of conflicting information. I prefer to stick with the studies so I get accurate information. That doesn’t mean the studies aren’t biased or wrong themselves from time to time, but at least I know I’m looking at something that was held up to a scientific standard.

In other words, I don’t have the last word on soy – no one really does. I think controversial foods become so because we simply expect far too much. We learn about a possible benefit, and before you know it, food manufacturers are adding soy protein to lollipops. When you stick to fresh, unprocessed, organic, whole foods, 99% of nutrition and health worries simply disappear.

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