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

Mark's Daily Apple

8 Jan

Le Buzz

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites
Howdy, pals! Here’s the latest from the world of health:

1) Uh-oh, it’s back…

We have no comment, but if you’re interested in the stem-cell debate, here’s today’s best summary of the flare-up. Here’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s take.

2) This is what we call a no-brainer…

In fact, wait…yes, it is definitely time for a Sherlock Award! Congratulations, Journal of Pediatrics!

No Sh*t, Sherlock

3) At least it doesn’t have thimerosal

We’re sort of hesitant to come right out against the flu shot. There are definitely folks who can benefit from the flu shot (e.g. tiny tots and seniors). And now that it doesn’t contain brain-bashing mercury, maybe it’s not so bad.

Still, we think it’s generally a good idea to find safer, more natural ways to boost your immunity during flu season that won’t make you sick (while a flu shot doesn’t give you the flu, it will give you a little bout of the sniffles for a few days). Really nutritious foods like veggies and good fats, plus a powerful antioxidant multi, can do a lot to ward off the flu. Also, exercise and quality sleep are key immune boosters.

Our only other beef with the flu shot is that it doesn’t always fight the right flu. If you’re traveling or in an area with multiple strains, you basically got a little cold for nothing, cuz you’re gettin’ the flu.

To be fair, here’s our favorite blogging doctor’s pro-flu-shot stance. Since tens of thousands of people still die from the flu (and not bird flu, people), he/she could be right, after all…discuss, Apples!

4) Random but right-on

Just one more story on the increasing trend to boost brain health as you age. It’s important! We recommend eating fish like wild salmon to boost your brain health, since we can’t (hey, we’re bees).

5) It’s gonna be huge this year!

What’s going on in your state? What do you do about health care? Do you think federal dollars should go towards helping people make better nutrition or exercise choices in addition to regular health care (or instead of)?

There will be a lot of debate about this issue in 2007. What’s your take, Apples? For starters, we’d like to see more real, accurate, up-to-date nutrition information. We’d also like for Uncle Sam to stop being a big pansy and stand up to food manufacturers and their sniveling little lobbyists. We’re also not fans of Labelman (snicker). What kind of inflamed, flabby, uninspiring nutrition superhero is this? This is the best our tax dollars can afford?

Wow, thanks Labelman
8 Jan

Fitness & More in Five

Yo, Apples!

You can get fit by following the Rule of 5.

– Craving something unhealthy? Drink a big glass of water and wait five minutes.

– Don’t feel like working out? Just do it for five minutes (once you start, it’s easy to keep going).

– Feel hungry all the time, even after you’ve eaten? Eat half your plate, then wait five minutes. Your brain will register that you’ve eaten and you’ll be able to cut down on those monster portions (and that monster in your stomach).

– Feeling stressed? Breathe deeply – in through your nose, out through your mouth – for five minutes. I promise, you’ll feel so deliriously happy by the end of it, you’ll think you swallowed helium or possibly even something illegal. This breathing exercise is also terrific for your immune system and brain.

– Just about any problem, stress, craving or issue can be resolved if you simply wait five minutes. Follow the rule of five and see if you don’t feel better, fast.

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8 Jan

Vitaminute

I saw an interesting piece over at ABC News. It’s not interesting because of the topic (“which vitamins are helpful, which are harmful”) but because media sources continue to offer the same retread of outdated vitamin lore as if it were breaking scientific information. I find it interesting that no one seems to have caught on – or, at least, no one is calling news sources on it.

So let’s call them on it. You can check the article out (clickativity) for yourself, but essentially, the retread trucks out the same old three concerns:

1 – Vitamin E might hurt your heart

2 – Beta carotene/vitamin A can be harmful in excessive amounts if you smoke

3 – Too much calcium might cause kidney stones

The article also states that some vitamins may be beneficial while others may not be (really?).

To be fair, it’s a very complex issue, and science is always revealing new information. Hey, that’s a good thing. It’s really the beauty of science: think how much more we know now than even a decade ago about issues like aging, cancer and nutrition.

Part of the problem with these oft-sensationalized three topics is that for every study which supposedly points to a health danger, there are plenty (if not hundreds) of studies which show no negative effect whatsoever. The point is, don’t just take someone’s word for it. I think the internet is one of the best things to ever happen for humans when it comes to health. It’s instant democratic participation in health information – makes it a lot harder for drug companies and vitamin manufacturers to be misleading, doesn’t it? That’s something we’ve all benefited from tremendously.

Let’s take a look at the three supplements in this “news” article (actually, they are the three most popularly touted as being harmful, and have been for years). Of course, it’s an ongoing issue we’ll get in-depth with here, but consider:

Vitamin E is “bad” for your heart?

This study, which came out about two years ago, sent shockwaves around the world and made major headlines. It was also almost immediately criticized, with good reason. But, of course, that part didn’t make headlines. The study, which was not really a study at all – just a meta-review of several other poorly-conducted studies – found that high doses of vitamin E could be harmful to the heart. The funny, or perhaps just annoying, thing is that we’ve known for years that a certain type of vitamin E (yes, the one reviewed in the big headliner just mentioned) is actually a pro-oxidant and can be harmful. When d-alpha tocopherol (the most common form of supplemental E, by the way) gives up an electron, it becomes a pro-oxidant. I don’t think anyone should take this type of E, and sadly, it’s the most prevalent vitamin E supplement sold.

The critical missing information is that E is actually a spectrum vitamin, just like B. There are eight “E’s” and all are necessary to work properly and synergistically in the body. One wouldn’t only take B12 or B6; we know that all B vitamins are needed. E is the same.

Furthermore, this particular meta-analysis (which, as noted in today’s article, still gets bandied about) focused on studies of very sick, often terminally ill, people. Anyone who is terminally ill or suffering from something like heart disease will of course be courting disaster by taking the d-alpha form of E. They’re actually exacerbating the problem – yikes!

However, as sensational media stories go, what we hear is “Vitamin E is bad for you!” Far from it.

Beta Carotene Kills?

As for beta carotene, the situation is similar. Did you know there are over 500 carotenes? They work synergistically (meaning, taken together, they have exactly the good effect they should have and can be properly absorbed and utilized by the body). But giving one type of beta carotene, to a smoker, is asking for a bad result.

Calcium Causes Kidney Stones?

Finally, kidney stones from calcium has more to do with poor diet and the formation of oxalic acid than from actual calcium. One study has shown that there are fewer stones in those supplementing with calcium than those who do not. And compelling, recent evidence suggests that magnesium reduces kidney stone risk. Moreover, calcium is absorbed better when taken with magnesium – again, it’s that synergistic effect. Take just one thing, or the wrong thing, and you upset the body’s biological balance.

(That’s just great, Mark, I can hear you saying. So what do I take? I recommend you check out my multivitamin if you’re interested in learning more.)

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8 Jan

A Monday Moment

Maybe it’s only Monday morning traffic, but I’m noticing people become just a little more aggressive behind the shield of their cars. It’s as if driving in a car grants us sudden power and anonymity – and a license to be rude. Road rage concerns me, not only because of the safety issues, but because it’s a sign to me that people aren’t venting their bottled-up anger properly. It’s not a good thing when anger is the instinctive reaction as soon as there’s no perceived threat or social expectation.

My thought? It’s just so much easier to let things go. It really does feel better to forgive, shrug it off, and laugh. Cars don’t make us anonymous – just the opposite – they make our true character transparent. Do your part to help people simmer down when they’re on the road – let’s set an example. Feeling generosity to others is an important part of being healthy. (And so is venting frustration properly – exercise, meditation, prayer, talking with friends, and “chill out” time are all ways to stay emotionally healthy.)

8 Jan

Mark’s Weekly Health Challenge

Mark’s Weekly Health Challenge to you:

Every day this week, either get yourself outside or to the gym. No excuses (sky falling? Okay). Working out every day, all the time, isn’t totally necessary, but it certainly is good for you – and you’ll feel amazing come the weekend. Commit to at least 30 minutes every day this week.

© 2014 Mark's Daily Apple

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