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

Mark's Daily Apple

15 Jan

Mark’s Weekly Health Challenge

This week, Apples, let’s cut out all refined grains of any kind. You’ll give your blood, pancreas, digestive tract, and waistline a very healthy break.

There are lots of refined offenders, but here are the most common: white rice, white bread, so-called “multi-grain” bread, pre-made waffles and pancakes, dinner rolls, white pasta, crackers, cookies, cakes, processed foods made with corn syrup or corn starch, and of course, desserts and candies. Whew! These foods are cheap for manufacturers to produce – and admittedly, they are tasty. But they don’t offer much nutrition, and they can cause serious harm to your health if eaten frequently. Try cutting out refined sugars and starches for a week and you’ll notice a real difference in your mood, digestion, mental clarity, sleep, and energy level.

12 Jan

Lean, Take 2

By the way, the FDA is approving the use of the word “lean” on prepared foods at the suggestion of Nestle. I’m guessing this wonderful “suggestion” was made on a golf course somewhere – or maybe a private jet. FDA? Nope. MDA.

12 Jan

Catch the Buzz

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

No, not that kind of buzz. Sheesh!

Between us, Sisson’s still pretty steamed about the whole health care crisis, so we sent him on a hike. We hope you’re about to go do something fun and active, too (it’s the weekend, for goodness’ sake!). But catch the latest buzz before you go, Apples…

1) Render Magazine Is Probably Gonna Be Bummed about This One

This is the last mention of Render, easily the most disturbing industry magazine ever. It’s nothing personal; we know everyone has to put food on the table somehow and they’re just doin’ their jobs. But still

The ongoing Mad Cow concerns have prompted the government to consider banning certain cattle matter from being used in drugs, medical supplies and vaccines. (We asked ourselves the same thing: meat is allowed to be in my medicine?)

Things like brains, skulls, eyes, and spinal cords are of concern – especially spinal cords, which tend to be where Mad Cow hangs out. So are materials from “downer” cows (if a cow can’t walk, should we be consuming it?), tallow, and a lot of really disgusting things you don’t want to read about. But, you can by clicking here.

For what it’s worth, things like “mechanically separated beef” are not just in drugs. This sort of meat is what goes into hot dogs, taquitos, and kids’ school lunches. We’re not saying you have to join PETA or anything, but we do advocate sticking to fresh, organic groceries to avoid these sorts of excuses for food.

hotdog

2) Apple Updates

Happy birthday to junior Apple Annie, who always has a fascinating and humorous health anecdote! Congrats to fellow Apple Sarah for improving her digestive health and skin by getting more beneficial fats in her diet. A high-five to new Apple Joel for healthfully building five pounds of muscle last month – we know you can reach your goal of 5 more for the new year. And thanks to all the rest of you for participating in the DCMF giveaway contest! (Visit the Forum to learn more.) You’ve sent in some great responses and we’ll be announcing the winner in Monday’s email health tip. If you’d like a free email health tip that includes handy links, giveaways and other updates, just mosey over to the Forum and register as an Apple (it takes about 30 seconds).

apples 1

3) Important News for Those Who Love Their Little Rugrats

It’s all over the news: cough syrup isn’t safe for kidlets. It’s not really so good for you, either. Boost your immunity this winter by getting lots of veggies in your diet, exercising several times a week, and getting proper rest. Wash those hands like a maniac, too! (Just don’t get all Howard Hughes on us.) We don’t like colds anymore than you do, but bear in mind that sometimes a little infection is just the body’s way of building immunity and getting stronger. Unless it’s really serious, try to avoid taking drugs to cover up symptoms.

cough

4) Lean Is in the Eye of the Marketer

The FDA has sure been busy this month. It was just announced that food marketers makers will be allowed to use the word “lean” on products meeting certain nutritional guidelines. “Meals-on-the-go” can claim to be lean if they contain less than 8 grams of fat.

This is ridiculous. It is. Peanut butter isn’t “lean”, but it’s a lot better for you than a pizza roll, which is full of sodium, cholesterol, sugar and chemicals. Olive oil isn’t “lean” and neither are eggs.

The word “lean” is a really powerful adjective to hand over to food makers. It’s one of those vague words that implies goodness but is so imprecise it doesn’t really mean anything at all – and it definitely means different things to different people. Which is exactly what we would want if we were food pushers.

“Lean” used to be for seafood and meat but the FDA wants to be flexible because so many Americans eat convenience foods now. Way to look out for our health, guys. Thanks. Maybe since so many Americans don’t like to wear seat belts, we should just stop putting them in cars. And that whole filtering the water thing? Why bother, since so many people prefer Coke?

This is another clear indicator that the FDA is about two decades behind the latest nutrition science. Fat is not necessarily bad; in fact, as we’ve been mentioning to the point of annoyance this week, fat is often good. “Lean” foods are going to be the “Low Fat” foods of the 1990s – a big sugary cash yak for the same food manufacturers who managed to convince us that things like fat-free cookies and low-fat dressings were “healthy”. Look where that got us. Excuse us while we hyperventilate. We’ll be back on Monday.

Potential new “lean” food…

taquitos
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.

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