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

Mark's Daily Apple

12 Jan

This Is a Big Fat Blog Post

Apples, as you know, this is a pro-fat health site – pro-fat meaning we recommend eating beneficial fats, of course, not getting fat. There are a lot of issues to consider when it comes to fat – heart disease, inflammation, arthritis, obesity and prevention, to name a few – and I’m going to weigh in (I know, I know) on some of the latest findings.

Arthritis

Increasingly, the medical community is focusing on the interrelatedness of health conditions like obesity, diabetes, arthritis and heart disease. These prevalent health problems have a common component – inflammation – and mounting evidence suggests that a wide range of lifestyle habits aimed at preventing inflammation is clearly the better avenue for public health. Soaring health care costs, unequal distribution of nutritious food, Americans’ sedentary lifestyle, grievous drug side effects, and inaccurate food and health information are all factors in a health crisis that I believe has hit critical mass – it’s time for a smarter solution.

Case in point: arthritis costs alone are over $120 billion dollars every year and growing. Just a few years ago, we were spending about $80 billion. By 2010, about 50 million people will suffer from arthritis. In my opinion, this is utterly unacceptable. Arthritis can occur for many reasons – I myself manage osteoarthritis from years of professional sports competition. Excessive levels of stress like hardcore athletic training or lack of any physical exercise are common culprits. Though there is a genetic predisposition to arthritis in some folks, the majority of people suffer from arthritis to a much greater extent than they need to, given the availability of easy prevention options (that are a lot cheaper and less painful than drugs, surgery and daily suffering). Personally, I’m rarely bothered by my arthritis because I maintain a good exercise routine, I don’t eat junk, and I am ruthless about preventing inflammation.

How to prevent inflammation:

– Douse yourself in antioxidants

– Consume “good” fats with reckless abandon

– Exercise

– Limit both physical and emotional stress

– Absolutely avoid anything that contributes to oxidation: smoking, excessive drinking, lack of activity, processed and prepared food, trans fat, and sugar

Add Another Test to the List

There have been several new heart disease markers identified this month (and a few thrown out as doctors realize basic prevention is worth a lot more). A Japanese study found interesting results for a specific set of women with particular heart conditions; and this study will help doctors determine how people who already have heart disease can avoid a second incident. In the same vein (there I go again), a few studies released this month are too fraught with questions and conflicts of interest to be of much insight (though no doubt Big Pharma will still bandy them about).

Look, heart disease is the biggest killer of men and women. And it goes beyond that – those suffering from heart problems also tend to suffer from other big health problems like diabetes, obesity, and arthritis. These health problems are often complicit because they are either caused or exacerbated by your old enemy, inflammation. That’s why I think it’s critical that the health community shift the focus from statins, surgeries and stents to prevention, prevention, prevention. There are so many reasons why: soaring costs, debt, quality of life, current inequalities in care along socioeconomic and racial lines, and simply, common sense. Our government may be indebted to Big Pharma and the lobbyists; no matter. We can solve our health problems ourselves – Uncle Sam will get the message. Which brings me to:

Prevention

The National Healthcare Quality Report finds that, based upon 40-odd “core quality measures”, health care has improved by 3.1%. All right – I guess that’s supposed to be impressive. But here’s what caught my eye:

“However, the use of proven prevention strategies is lagging behind other gains…”

2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese, putting them at risk for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Health care is in crisis, and until it gets straightened out (and I applaud the recent efforts of politicians and states to fix the mess), how do we get prevention information to hit home? Information isn’t in short supply; some of it (a lot of it) is inaccurate, but sites like yours truly here and some of the great folks linked at right want to help. How do we spread the news that prevention is easier, and safer, and better than you think?

I’m not quite sure why the Navy thinks a goat is a compelling image when it comes to avoiding desserts, but it’s better than Labelman.

navygoat

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12 Jan

Bilingualism: a Passport to Brain Health

People who speak more than one language significantly reduce the likelihood of dementia in old age. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t mastered the grammar or spelling of a second language, either (or a first language, for that matter). Simply speaking a second language keeps the brain’s frontal lobe in great shape well into old age. Now, donde esta este estudio? Aqui.

12 Jan

Fat Food Is Smart Fuel

Smart Fuel, Just in Time for the Weekend…

Want skin that Cindy Crawford would be jealous of? Eat fat. That’s right – fat! Many of us, especially women, tend to avoid fat because we’ve been told it’s bad for us. Mark will be posting later today on the fat debate (would you expect anything less than ornery here at Mark’s Daily Apple?), but for now, here’s our suggestion: fat is your friend!

Keep in mind the type of fat you eat is very important. Fried foods and processed items tend to be high in “bad” fats – the kind that clog arteries, release free radicals in your body, and stimulate inflammation. But good fats – heaven be praised – can prevent disease, help you lose weight, and make your skin positively glow. Sound too good to be true? Nope. Good fats really can help with all those health goals.

Here are some “good” fats you can eat to feel great starting this weekend:

Animal fats top the list: think tallow, lard, fish oil.

Other great fats:

Avocados

Avocado oil

Omega-3-enhanced eggs

Olive Oil

Coconut Oil

Butter/Ghee

Other good fats:

Organic yogurt and cottage cheese. These dairy products are typically easier to digest than cheese or milk. Be sure to get the sugar-free varieties of yogurt. Although dairy isn’t rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like fish or nuts, there are other valuable fats. And science reveals that the proportions of various fats in the diet are more important than any single fat. Fats work better together than alone.

Now, admittedly, we’ve been on a bit of an Omega-3 tear this week, but that’s because we see people missing out on these fantastic fats. Fat’s not bad. Far from it – so enjoy! You’ll sleep better, your skin will be radiant, your organs will love you, and your waistline might even shrink a bit. Magical things happen when Omega-3 fats come to town: headaches run in fright, bad moods slink away, and spare tires get rolling.

sparetire
11 Jan

Got News?

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

You’ll want to click out today’s most interesting news, Apples:

1) We Promise, This Is the Last Dairy Discussion

…for a while, anyway. This is merely to highlight the general conclusion that can be had from all the various dairy-makes-you-skinny debates: dairy obviously does not make you skinny enough. If dairy were the wonder tonic Big Moo would have you believe, wouldn’t we all have noticed by now?

Some of the studies are inconclusive, like this one just out (yet another one!). Some of the studies are total quackery questionable because they’ve been funded by Big Moo. Most of them, actually. Some of the studies make it seem like low-fat dairy is better. A recent one makes a case for regular old fattening dairy. Mark happens to think dairy is the ultimate Blunder Tonic.

While there’s no definitive dairy answer, how about some common sense? If you exercise, eat a lot of vegetables, and stay away from things like sugar and French fries, it just might not matter if your beverage of choice is soy milk, cow’s milk or hemp milk (yep, and it’s tasty). Folks who are unhealthy might benefit marginally from foods like dairy, but at the end of the day, no food is the magic answer to your waistline concerns or health goals.

Except, possibly, for spinach.

bigmoo

2) We Can’t Wait for All the Clever Headlines!

You just know the mainstream media is going to have a cliched-headline carnival with hemp milk. Oh, well, maybe they don’t get out much.

Thanks to Slashfood for the heads up on this yummy, high-protein unmilk. It’s available in chocolate, vanilla and regular (what will that taste like?).

Slash says: “Some of the benefits of Hemp milk are: it is high in protein and is a good source of balanced omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and has lots of vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, thiamin, folic acid, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and iron. It is the only product made from seeds that contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a controversial substance that may help fight cancer, treat problems with inflammation, and auto-immune diseases.”

hemp

3) When Will Law Makers Actually Give Two Figs?

Mark says sugar is the new trans fat, and others are sayin’ the same, too. Check out this handy little corn syrup summary. Then drop a line to these spineless saps and tell them you’re sick of Americans being sick. And say something to your senator, too. They don’t listen to Bees but they listen to you.

Because when a website actually brags about the fact that – yes – corn syrup is only as bad as sugar, you have to do something, Apples…

payday

It’s a payday for someone, all right.

4) Tsk, Tsk

Parents seem to eat more fat than other adults, especially fat from kiddie-foods like pizza, chips, candy and snacks. Be honest, now – if you’re a parent, maybe you’ve snatched some of the French fries from the Happy Meal.

The important thing to remember is that these little bites add up to serious health problems. They seem harmless, but because most “family fare” is loaded with sugar, trans fat and chemical additives, moms and dads are subject to a free radical minefield (and a lot of extra calories).

And besides, kids shouldn’t be eating this stuff, either! They may seem thin and healthy now, but the long-term consequences of Cheetos and Powerade are visible everywhere you look. Kids turn into adults, and we adults don’t seem to be batting any health home runs these days. Start your kids on good habits young, and you’ll benefit, too (and hey, it’s one less thing for the teenagers to tell you you’re doing wrong).

Here are some easy switches that don’t require you to turn into Martha Stewart:

– Once a week, get the kids to wash and chop up veggies like carrots, celery, cucumbers, broccoli or jicama. Place fist-sized portions in zippered baggies until there are enough for each family member to grab one bag a day for the whole week. Presto, veggies consumed.

Buy beef, salmon or turkey jerky instead of regular snack bags like chips, pretzels or other salty, sugary, empty junk. Trail mix (the kind that doesn’t have candy in it) and nuts are a great idea, too.

This does take a little work, but it’s worth it. Buy a huge jug of 100% real juice. Dilute by half with water. Pour into as many rinsed-out beverage containers as you like. That beats soda and sugary drinks! You can do the same with caffeine-free tea (sweeten with a sugar substitute or a little honey if your kids aren’t used to the taste).

– For healthy, easy dinners that are way faster than the pizza guy, keep the freezer stocked with two things: ready-to-go protein like shrimp or chicken tenderloins, and a big assortment of frozen veggies.

20 minutes before you want to eat, drop a bag of your protein of choice into a big, hot pan. 10 minutes later, add a bag or two of the frozen veggies. Once it’s all cooked and piping hot, drizzle with any number of yummy toppings: slivered almonds, parmesan, spices and seasonings, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, or a little yogurt. Everyone will be happy, it’s cheaper than a decent pizza, and it’s healthy. Easy!

stirfry

Around the Web:

Things so random and disturbing, you just might want to click. Somehow, it’s satisfying. We know. It’s okay.

Junior Apple Annie B. wrote in to tell us about the dark secrets of the restaurant industry. During her starving student days, Annie worked for a major chain restaurant. She says:

“We were always totally grossed out by the chips and how people would wolf them down. If only they knew. When the chips arrived to us, they were in these big packages. You wouldn’t recognize them as chips – they were so covered in white lard or whatever the fat concoction was, it was like little edges sticking out of a block of glue. Disgusting! Then we’d have to shove the chunks into the oven to make them all fresh and toasty and get the fat to melt and ‘crisp’ the chips. I’ve never looked at chips the same way since.”

There is a really, really dark and disturbing side to food production. There are specific resources and legions of behind-the-scenes bizarreness you wouldn’t believe…except, behold. It puts the Bees into a real fuss – maybe we all know this stuff exists deep down, but…ewww. Is this really necessary? Apples? This is why we like fresh food.

11 Jan

5 Is the New 10

5 Tips to Feel Great Today:

1 – Eat something green at every meal. And by green we mean a vegetable. Limeade and green apple Jolly Ranchers do not count. Veggies fight cancer, help you lose weight, boost your brain, and just generally mean business.

salad

2 – Eat something red, like a tomato. Tomatoes contain lycopene. This is great for your eyes, which are fresh now but often get blurry by day’s end, right? We humans may be endlessly fascinated by the latest office memo (sure), but fortunately, our eyes seem to know when to call it quits. Give them a little lycopene and lutein love, would ya? (Psst…cooked tomatoes are actually richer in lycopene than fresh tomatoes.)

tomatoesstacked

3 – Jam out to some really sappy music you loved in high school. Not that anyone here ever does that, but we hear it’s great for stimulating endorphins and other feel-good brain compounds.

sapdance

4 – Call a friend. See a movie. Take a walk around the block. Anything that gives you a little respite from a long work week. Remember that caring for your emotional health is a major part of beating stress and staying fit!

5 – Get some good fatty acids in that body! Pick from Smart Butter (yum!), avocados, nuts, fish, grass-fed meat, olive oil, or organic peanut butter.

ohnuts

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