Month: May 2007

Aspirin, Fish, & Debunking Debunkers

WORKER BEES’ DAILY BITES

Aspirin and fish are two health topics that get plenty of coverage. Just when you read the latest studies that command you to shun all things pill and pisces, another round tells you to take the opposite tack. We’re dishing all the latest research. And for simultaneous comic relief and health insights, you’ll enjoy the link to a debunker who is taking on…the debunkers.

Aspirin: What a Pill

Plenty of authoritative medical studies and organizations recommend taking aspirin for various health issues ranging from heart disease to cancer. Other studies find fault with this OTC drug. Today, European scientists are calling for better investigation into the dangers of aspirin. One problem with OTC drugs is that they are often taken in excess of the recommended dosages. Our observation (certainly not original, but worth stating): OTC drugs are still drugs, and it’s vital to exercise caution and do your homework. Many hospital visits are due to overdoses and interactions from “harmless” OTC drugs.

Fish: Scientists Still Flip-Flopping

While fish consumption does present concerns (mercury! sustainable harvesting!) one thing is now conclusive: fish oil is a more effective source of essential fatty acids than olive oil, nuts and plant oils.

This is Laurelfan’s Flickr Photo. We enjoy wild-caught salmon, too!

But Who Will Debunk the Debunkers?

Anssi Manninen, that’s who (via Bodybuilding.com). This is a pretty interesting and entertaining piece calling nutritional “debunkers” on the their own apparently misguided advice.

[tags] OTC drug safety, aspirin, fish oil [/tags]

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How Long Do I Have to Exercise Before I See Changes?

Short answer: probably a lot longer than you want. Long answer: I tend to cover a lot of nutrition, food marketing and diet issues, but fitness is also a crucial factor in overall health, so I’m eager to discuss exercise issues in greater detail. Truth is I spend a fair amount of time coaching, speaking and writing in the fitness world, particularly triathlon but weight loss to some extent. Exercise is a vital component of not just weight loss and weight management, but stress relief, energy, sleep, aging, disease prevention, bone health, and on and on it goes…but it’s easy (and maybe more fun) to exclusively focus on the nutrition and diet issues and forget that we have to move our lazy buns once in a while. Leaving exercise out of the wellness equation is far more destructive to your health than any number of diet “sins” you might commit. Notwithstanding the fact that I believe our standard American diet is largely responsible for most of our health problems and most common causes of death, the importance of exercise cannot be overstated. We don’t exercise for many reasons. Eating is not a habit, but a necessity. After all, no one really forgets to eat for very long. And it’s usually rather enjoyable to change food selections and to modify our diets for the better, for we get immediate psychological rewards: control, accomplishment, tangibility. Exercise is also a necessity, but as it’s no longer integral to our daily lives – few people plow an acre of sod nowadays – it feels like a chore. No one likes a chore, and establishing a chore as an ingrained habit is tough. Life’s rewards require elbow grease, and that will never change. If exercise were easy or yielded quick results, I suppose everyone would be doing it. Exercise is certainly worth the effort, and not in spite of the challenge, but because it is a challenge. The long-term health rewards of exercise – outside of the brief blast of endorphins following your workout – are not always initially apparent and certainly not immediate. If we don’t view exercise as an unpleasant chore, we view it as a means to an end: getting a leaner or sexier body. Those fitness infomercials feature guys with six-packs and Christie Brinkley for a reason – we all want to look like that. But the reality is that even the fittest folks are not necessarily going to end up looking “like that”. You can only maximize what you’ve got. I believe that we have to stop thinking of exercise as a vanity tool and remember that it’s simply a basic necessity of life. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be excited about using exercise to lose weight if you hope to shed some extra pounds. But we fall off the proverbial treadmill over and over again because we’re getting on it for the wrong reasons in the first place – exercise is about far more than weight loss. So, how … Continue reading “How Long Do I Have to Exercise Before I See Changes?”

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You Best Be Clickin’!

WORKER BEES’ DAILY BITES

Soft Drinks Disrupt Your DNA

Yikes! Even diet soda is unhealthy for you.

What’s It Like to Go Global?

The complex and interesting web of global food production.

Is Cancer a Virus?

Is cancer a virus, a fungus, an autoimmune disorder, a collection of symptoms? Oncology just got a lot more complicated.

Web it out:

The Strange History of Cheese

What Are Gourmet Chefs Up to These Days? Foie gras ice cream and truffle popsicles, apparently. This is a fascinating picture-filled piece about avant garde culinary feats.

Link Love:

We’ve gotten some really nice feedback and reviews in the last few days. First, Highlight Health (a very spiffy health site from a biochemist blogger) was kind enough to add us to the blogroll. Then, Eating Fabulous, our favorite nutrition blog, gave us some love, and next, the original Daily Apple (yes, turns out, there is another!) reviewed us. The other Daily Apple covers all kinds of topics, but naturally we dug into the health posts, and we were really impressed. The health articles are all very useful, clear, and similar in format: an interesting introduction, a helpful list of points, and plenty of good references for every single topic discussed (a very nice thing indeed). And seize-the-health-by-the-horns Kevin was nice enough to nominate us for a Blogger’s Choice Award! Thank you so much, everyone, for the encouragement and support.

[tags] blogging, global food production, cheese, gourmet food, health blogs, soda, DNA [/tags]

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Introducing a New Column: Primal Health

WHY OUR MODERN WAY OF LIFE DOES NOT SUPPORT HUMAN HEALTH What is Primal Health? In brief, “primal health” is my pet name for my point of view regarding all aspects of health, fitness, nutrition, and aging. Primal health describes my personal scientific bent and informs my diet and fitness regimens – indeed, my whole lifestyle – and has for over two decades. I believe it is clear that every aspect of human health must, of necessity, examine first how our lifestyle impacts (and interacts with) our “primal” DNA blueprints that reached final draft some 10,000 years ago. If you’ve heard of the Paleo Diet or the celebrity Caveman Diet, you’re in good company. Of course, we now know that “Caveman” is a scientific misnomer, but it’s a memorable and handy term, if slightly inaccurate. My friend, scientist and respected blogger, Art DeVany, refers to this health lifestyle as “evolutionary fitness”. My unique spin is more…primal. As many of you know, I was a top marathoner and triathlete for many years, making a name for myself in the early 1980s at Ironman and the U.S. National Marathon Championships, among other events. As an elite athlete in the prime of his youth, I was anything but healthy, however. The intense level of peak output required of a “top” athlete is enormously destructive to the body. (As an aside, it’s my personal – admittedly untested – theory that the incredible amount of oxidative damage, hormone depletion and repetitive strain male athletes endure has at least something to do with the inordinately commonplace receding hairlines among these otherwise “healthy” men.) The infections, illnesses and injuries I faced only grew more frequent and aggressive as time wore on and my list of accomplishments grew. Though I was in better racing shape than 99.9% of humans on the planet, my body was telling me something: this extreme level of fitness was not a part of nature’s design. I had graduated from Williams College with a degree in biology. Science has always been a passion of mine and something of a career as well (though I have always published for lay press rather than journals). I retired from sport convinced that the athlete’s way of life, which includes stressful and even reckless consumption of insane amounts of calories – largely refined carbs and even pure glucose – is no more sane or healthy than the diet of your average Westerner. In particular, Americans are living a lifestyle that is in direct opposition to the beautiful and brilliant system evolution yielded. I believe that, but you don’t have to take my word for it. A basic understanding of human development and even the most cursory review of historically healthy cultures and current scientific studies lends credence to my increasingly passionate perspective, Primal Health. The impetus for this column comes from my personal experience, my accumulated knowledge, and simply, passion. When I started this blog I had a few goals in mind: I definitely wanted this to be … Continue reading “Introducing a New Column: Primal Health”

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Tea Time

SMART FUEL Reader Donna suggested that we share information on the benefits of tea. Good idea, Donna! Tea is incredibly healthy and is an easy way to get a daily dose of beneficial antioxidants. While we’re at it, let’s discuss the types of tea, too. Tea Types There is only one tea species. White tea, black tea, green tea, oolong – they all come from a single plant (camellia sinensis for you Latin nerds). The basic difference boils down (get it?) to how processed the leaves are and the level of fermenting involved. White tea is the least processed and the “freshest”, so it is highest in antioxidants. Yes, there is something better than green tea! Antioxidant Potency The differences are really not as extreme as is believed. All tea is healthy for you. However, the more processed teas are lower in antioxidants and much higher in caffeine. A hierarchy: 1. White 2. Green 3. Oolong (Really difficult to make – not for you, for the artisans. You boil it like any other tea leaf.) 4. Black Pictures: Top: white tea Lower: jasmine pearls green tea – yum! Top: green tea Lower: oolong tea Top: black Lower: the ultra-rare (and uber-snobby) pureh Pureh is pretty special stuff. Though popular in China, it’s rare here – we haven’t tried it yet. Have you? Prep Of course, boiled water poured immediately over the leaves, and 3 to 5 minutes of steeping time, will yield the best-tasting and most nutritious pot. Microwave is sacrilege and will invoke the wrath of the tea gods, so don’t even think about it! Shopping Time We had a lot of fun trying out many different types of tea from a local purveyor of some pretty fancy drinkable foliage. If you’re looking for flavor and health, white tea is even more delightful than green, but it’s very grassy and greeny, and definitely leaves a pucker. Black is nice in that “I grew up on it” way, but since coffee offers more caffeine for you addicts and other teas offer more antioxidants, black seems like sort of a sad little compromise. Still, many people prefer it, and there’s arguably nothing tastier than black tea with a little cream and honey. Green teas are more varied than you might think. Our favorite was a special hand-rolled blend of green tea and lavender and jasmine similar to jasmine pearls. It was soothing, herbaceous, floral, and tasted like drinkable perfume. That is, if you could drink perfume (please don’t do this). This was a handcrafted tea, so it isn’t available everywhere, but jasmine pearls are a popular and high-quality offering available in many stores. We also had a blast (and bounced off the walls) with a chocolate and mint infused black and green tea mix. It tasted like a peppermint patty! This was pretty strongly caffeinated and very flavorful. It would make a great after-dinner tea if you are entertaining and you and your guests plan to stay up late talking or … Continue reading “Tea Time”

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3 More Fast Foods That Are (Sorta) Healthy

Because nobody’s perfect!

1. McDonald’s chef salad

Only 150 calories (choose the vinegar dressing). Some franchises refer to it as the garden salad.

2. Wendy’s small chili

Only 200 calories of protein, fiber and very little fat.

3. Taco Bell’s chicken soft taco

Just 190 calories – leave out the sour cream for an even lighter meal!

These foods aren’t ideal by any stretch. The meat is not organic, and there are some carbs to be found. No “fast food” is going to be earning high marks for nutrition. So when we look for reasonably healthy fast food options to bring you, we aim for those that are lowest in calories and offer some vegetables and a small portion of lean protein. Those are reasonable parameters for food establishments that are typically anything but reasonable in the nutrition department! When you’re on the road and in need of a small meal to stave off a blood sugar crash, you could do much worse than these light choices. Just make sure to skip the fries, chips and soda.

We recently brought you some other sensible fast food choices for those road trips and hectic days. Better choices, better body!

Notes: All photos are from company websites. Source for this edition of Sorta Healthy: StopGettingSick.com!

[tags] healthy fast foods, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, chili, taco, chicken, salad [/tags]

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