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Mark's Daily Apple

7 May

You Read It Here: Partying Is Healthy

A Monday Moment

Are you partying enough?

I’m serious.

As adults, we get so wrapped up in responsibilities to career, parents, colleagues, employees, children and community, we forget that life is a game we’re meant to play. I’m not suggesting you shirk your duties as a man or woman, but remember that life is to be lived now, not someday.

I stumbled onto a thoughtful post by Brian Vaszily about the number one social problem facing adults in an increasingly isolated, technology-driven society: loneliness. I believe he’s right. No amount of exercise, good nutrition or healthy habits can add up to much if you aren’t enjoying yourself and spending a little time each day – or at least each week – with folks you really care about.

Remember that having a neighborhood cookout, meeting up with friends for a cocktail or light dinner, or hosting a backyard pool party are healthy – in fact, I’d say necessary – activities for a balanced adult life. Kids need play. But guess what? So do grown-ups. So go on, party – it’s healthy.

In fact, I’m gonna go catch some sun now. Make room for fun this week – go on, get outta here! That’s an order!

7 May

Ye Ole Weekly Health Challenge

This week’s challenge:

Increase your flexibility. You know you should. I’m not a betting man, but I’d be willing to be at least, say, a dollar that you’re not as flexible as you could be. This week, spend five or ten minutes a day stretching and releasing any muscle tension that’s been building up. Stretching is vital for your circulation, your nerves and supporting tissues, your brain, and even your emotions. It should really be required. Spend five minutes doing some basic stretching and you’ll feel refreshed, relaxed and energized. And it’s free!

Stretching your torso and hips reduces water retention and is even proven to flush toxins and emotional tension from your body. Stretching is beneficial to your skin, as well. (It can even help clear up acne – so tell your teenager. Note from the battlefield: gently.)

You can try sitting cross-legged with your back straight while pressing down firmly on your knees to release major tension in your hips. Or hang from the staircase (no, not really). Do it however you like, but do it! Stretch and prosper. And guys, that means you, too. We like to skip the stretching, but it’s really important.

4 May

The Plastic of Our Lives

Grocery stores are strange places full of even stranger food packaging concepts. Here’s some food for thought edible substance for cerebration (pitifully-unsuccessful-avoidance-of-pun alert):

Have you noticed how plastic continues to pop up in all sorts of food packaging? We all know that plastic comes from a limited resource; producing, trashing and even recycling plastic all have unpleasant consequences. And when it comes to health, it’s questionable if we want things like thalates in the same hemisphere as our food, let alone the same room.

Still, plastic persists: convenience remains the crowning virtue. (Although, in my opinion, the “convenience” of plastic packaging is still up for debate. This excessive layering is responsible for at least one post-gym “I need to eat!” meltdown per month by yours truly. Layering in fashion is one thing, but in food packaging? We don’t take food snowboarding with us, nor does food need to brave the indoor-outdoor urban trotting of a winter trip to the East Coast. Is this really necessary?)

But, truthfully, I hadn’t given much thought to things like these little plastic cap switcheroos…

Until I learned that there’s a permanent Texas-sized carpet of debris lolly-gagging around the Pacific Ocean’s northern gyre. Just call it Patchwork Pacific.

Texas is a big place. =

(These images are not to scale.)

This really bugs me. In light of our current health and environmental concerns, things like this new Kraft product are totally ridiculous!

I know we’re all working hard and we’re busy, but do we need to be throwing away millions of plastic shredders that come attached to our cheese? I actually liked shredding my parmesan with my own shredder – you know, one that you don’t throw away with each block of cheese. I’m not saying I counted it as a workout or anything, but is it that inconvenient to retain ownership of a shredder that’s not physically attached to my Manchego? Is the extra arm movement required to open the drawer really so exhausting that Kraft feels they’re doing us a favor? Was this a gaping void in the marketplace of which I was unaware?

What do you all think? Perhaps your editor is being too critical of “food” marketers (using-term-generously alert). Perhaps the days I skipped macroeconomics as a slacker college student are coming back to bite me after all these years. (Darn that Professor Carter!) Enlighten me, Kraft!

Until the next shopping adventure, friends…

(Psst: just before hitting “Publish” I ran a quick Google search and found this very sensible review from the Accidental Hedonist, so I’m relieved to find I’m not the only one who thinks this product is both asinine and wasteful.)

4 May

Healthy Tastes Great!

Organic Yogurt with Almonds and Fruit

Cut the brown sugar (Who needs it with all that naturally sweet fruit?) and you have a great way to start the day.

Can any Apples out there improve on this recipe? See you in the forum!

This one is for MDA member Larry Swift!

4 May

Quack Attack

I’ve gotten so many great health questions from you all this week, I’m still working through several of the emails. (Sorry for the delay – I haven’t forgotten you! I encourage you to post your questions in the Forum, so that along with my tips, you’ll get the whole gang to help you out.) There were a few questions this week regarding various quack products and FDA warnings that I’ve been asked a number of times over the years, so let’s set the record straight here at MDA.

1. Sandra recently asked me about transfer factor supplements – do they work, and should we be taking them?

“Transfer factor” is derived from bovine colostrum and is said to enhance immunity and muscle performance, among other claims. Like glandulars, this is a product without much to back it up. Not only is there no reputable scientific evidence, but it really doesn’t make much common sense. Cow’s milk is for baby cows, after all, and is designed by nature to be perfect for little calves’ growing immune systems, not ours. Although that’s even debatable, as most dairy cows these days are so crowded, sick and drugged up, I doubt they’re passing on much of anything beneficial to their offspring, whom they never meet anyway. A better way to boost your immunity? Reduce stress! Get exercise! Eat mostly vegetables! Enjoy yourself! Honest.

2. Lisa wants to know if oxygenated water is healthier than regular tap or bottled water.

Nope. I wrote a fun piece debunking these much-hyped “mock waters” some time ago, and it was published over at my good friend Gabrielle Reece’s site. You can also read it here. I’ve gotten some questions about reverse osmosis, bottled water safety (it’s coming, Evelyn!), and other H20 issues, so I’ll be posting a more in-depth look at all things liquid very soon.

3. I’ve also gotten a lot of questions about the current web controversy (no, not the Digg debacle): CAM regulation from the FDA.

Joe Mercola, no stranger to controversy, did what I felt was a very fair job of setting the record straight on this issue. (Note: I certainly don’t endorse all that he has to say, but this is a very balanced look at the current panic over CAM). The very knowledgeable Cindy Hebbard of Wisdom of Healing, politely refuted Mercola’s point of view after I recommended she check out his exploration of this issue. I encourage you to read both points of view if you’re curious.

The blogosphere is certainly hopping all over this issue. People’s response to this issue has been overwhelming – with the FDA extending, then short-changing, the public comment period. Health Ranger Mike Adams of NewsTarget ponders: will juice be banned? Will massage oil be available by prescription only? (Here’s what this science blogger I admire has to say).

I am a big proponent of being a squeaky wheel – nothing works better when it comes to getting governments and corporations to change. (That, and voting with your wallet.) And it’s no secret that the FDA is hardly a friend of natural living and often uses obscenely aggressive tactics against perfectly innocent naturopaths, herbal therapists and the like (just read Cindy’s response to me at her blog). Honestly, I’m glad everyone is picking up on this, because it’s a healthy sign of actively involved citizens.

That said, what the FDA is issuing is simply a (rather repetitive) guidance letter, not a regulation. The FDA doesn’t have legislative power, so this is more of a slap in the face than anything. Given that the rules aren’t being changed, it’s annoying, perhaps, and it’s indicative of the FDA’s attitude towards natural health, but it’s not really a “new” threat. Those of us who have been in the natural health industry have been aware of this issue for quite some time, and there’s just nothing scary here. Yes, the wording of “modalities” – meaning therapies – has been changed to “medicines”. But again, there is no cause for grave alarm. (And as you loyal readers know, I harbor no great and abiding love for the FDA. The FDA is the brunt of many a roast here at MDA).

Here’s the deal: as before, as long as any supplement or natural therapy isn’t making a claim of medical treatment or cure, you can expect things to be business as usual. For example, Mike Adams brings up cranberry juice in his blogging about this issue. In accordance with the FDA’s “new” guidance, cranberry juice can’t be marketed as a cure for bladder infections. It can be marketed as being beneficial for urinary tract health. But…this is nothing new.

Tell the FDA you’re unhappy with where they’re putting their attention and resources – but don’t panic. (This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep an eagle-eye on the FDA, of course. These are the folks who have a problem with stevia, after all. I’ve long noticed that new guidance issuances and sudden press releases about the “danger” of vitamins typically coincide with Big Pharma and FDA scandals. Trucking out sensational scares always makes for a nice distraction from the bigger issues.)

Stick around for a look at the environment and food packaging from Sara and a healthy recipe for your weekend brought to you by Aaron. Have a wonderful weekend, Apples!

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