Month: June 2007

Ooh! I’ll Have the Stress, Please

We talk a lot about hot topics like Big Pharma and carbs. But today we’re going to share some of the best tips for both preventing and addressing stress. Stress is ultimately at the root of many, if not all, of our most pressing health issues, including aging. Of course this depends on your understanding of “stress”. An unhealthy diet that triggers an inflammatory response or the development of arterial plaques is one definition of “stress”. So does the emotional anguish of being in an unhealthy relationship. Another big one: the oxidative stress that promotes cellular breakdown. And simply failing to use your body actively – not moving your body daily – is stressful to your heart, muscles, bone tissue and even to your brain. A little stress is useful: it’s how we learn, and grow, and survive. Indeed, when you work out, you’re stressing your body, just as if you were pruning a rosebush. There’s some value in moderate amounts of stress, which is a good thing, since life will never be free of it. But most of us probably suffer from too much chronic stress, and if we aren’t taking prudent steps to healthily deal with stress, the cumulative effects are devastating. Whether from the environment, lifestyle, injury or the way you use – or don’t use – your body, stress is really an umbrella term for a critical host of factors affecting your health. Here’s what we recommend: 10. Take a vacation. Really. Just find a way to do it – even for two days. For some of you that means actually taking the weekend off. It’s amazing how a brief change of scene literally refreshes your spirits and helps you gain some perspective. On a daily basis, apply this shift logic and take a brisk walk outside or call a friend. 9. Say no. This one is on every stress list, but everyone has a hard time following it. No one needs you that much. Strangely, the world will go on without you. If someone is trying to make you feel otherwise, you need to go on without them. 8. Stay away from processed food. Most processed, packaged foods are land mines of sugar, empty calories, fat, sodium, chemicals, dyes and other ingredients detrimental to overall health. Refined foods spur inflammation, but they also can alter your mood, especially if you’re sensitive to drugs and chemicals. Very simple: eat food, not food products. You can get salads, veggies and fruit to go, just about anywhere. (What to eat in a day.) No excuses…unless you like running around at 80% all the time. Eat food that nourishes you, energizes you, and strengthens your brain. 7. Exercise. Most Americans don’t. We’ve blogged about one major overlooked reason why. Here’s a trick: just put on your sneakers. Don’t think about the workout. Just don’t think. Simply think “I’m going to put my sneakers on.” If you do that, and give the workout three minutes, you’ve won the battle. Exercise … Continue reading “Ooh! I’ll Have the Stress, Please”

Read More

Captain Obvious Returns

This just out from Business Week: “Are Pharmas Addicted to Lifestyle Drugs?”

Ya think?

I know I rail against drug use. I have no problem with life-saving technologies that honor and extend the lives of human beings. And the good news is that the FDA is finally taking action (it only took half a dozen scandals). What I get furious about are the lifestyle drugs. For example, Alli, Ambien and Prozac. Obesity, insomnia and depression are all common and they are all seriously detrimental to health and longevity. They are all frequently preventable through lifestyle changes. In some cases, they aren’t, and for those cases, I say do whatever needs to be done. There are individuals who work out daily, eat a clean diet of vegetables and lean protein, supplement with plenty of high-quality fish oil, and take steps (like therapy and meditation) to manage stress, yet still fight depression. I can’t stand the harbingers of the extreme who believe everything can be resolved with a salad and a chipper attitude. People are unique.

That said, how many of the thousands on Prozac are stuck in stressful, sedentary office jobs, shoved into tiny urban apartments, living on junk food and alcohol, watching television and never moving their buns off the couch? It seems to me that our modern lifestyle is a recipe for depression – I’m surprised more people aren’t depressed. Staring at a computer all day and being inundated with media and noise are fairly traumatic experiences when you consider what our grandparents did in a day, yet the ever-resilient human body finds ways to cope.

Though we can’t necessarily get different jobs or pack up and move to the Bahamas, there are significant lifestyle adjustments within the easy reach of most individuals that can effectively support proper weight, rest, and mental health.

When people are eating packets of cigarettes and driving in their sleep while taking a drug like Ambien, it’s time to rethink our approach to health. Pharma makes a load of cash off the problems created by our Western lifestyle. Who’s addicted?

Stick around for the Tuesday 10. This week: tips to beat stress…naturally!

[tags] lifestyle drugs, Ambien, Alli, Prozac [/tags]

Read More

It’s All About the Synergy, Baby

Here’s a compelling op-ed from a chemistry PhD about the problem with randomized clinical trials. RCTs are the gold standard for testing effectiveness and safety. The problem, however, is that a randomized clinical trial puts the substance in question in a bubble. Remove the substance from its context, this writer argues, and you aren’t going to get an accurate picture. Hang on, all ye fans of the FDA. I’ll explain. Randomized clinical trials are essential for food and drugs. But the piece points out that the value is not so cut and dried when it comes to vitamin supplements. Supplements, of course, have been all over the news lately. Recently a spate of stories came out condemning antioxidants. Another called vitamins into question. I’m used to drug companies funding studies and releasing statements about the dangers of vitamins, and Sara and Aaron addressed the whole issue in a scathing little parody at Healthbolt (for adult eyes and a sense of humor only). The FDA will begin requiring supplement manufacturers to test their products and prove that they contain what they say they contain. This is a good thing as far as I’m concerned, though it’ll be 2010 before everything takes full effect, and the policing will be an honor system not unlike the current setup Big Pharma enjoys. So it remains to be seen just how much good this will do in stopping bogus supplements… At this point in the antioxidant debacle, though, I can tell you that I’m really tired of certain interests truckin’ out the same old scare, and I said as much in a flare at Technorati. Typically, a substance, such as a single antioxidant, is given to a group. Placebos are given, all is randomized, time passes. Sounds great, but it’s not. Thus far, the results from many RCTs have been dismally unconvincing, leading experts to assert that antioxidants are worthless despite loads of observational studies. I won’t regurgitate the whole op-ed here, but consider a worthy criticism of RCTs: Frequently the supplement is given to an unhealthy population – even terminally diseased groups. Should we really expect miracles here? I’m interested in the etiology of disease and chronic health conditions. I think it’s obvious enough that a combination of risk factors, diet, genetics and environmental conditions are at play in most health issues. Can we reasonably expect a year of, say, vitamin E supplementation to offset 20 or 40 years of cumulative damage from a host of factors? My advice? Take a broad spectrum of different antioxidants for prevention and overall health, not in a misguided attempt to cure a disease. Nutritional supplements are fundamentally different from drugs in their approach. The former supports prevention; the latter targets specific symptoms and eliminates or mitigates them. In the best cases, and only occasionally, drugs cure disease. In the worst cases, they merely mask pain or alleviate symptoms that indicate an unhealthy lifestyle. To me, RCTs may be missing the big picture with antioxidants: synergy, baby. Further … Continue reading “It’s All About the Synergy, Baby”

Read More

Pucker Up

SMART FUEL

Pineapple!

Get this cool walllpaper at Planeta

What it is:

Neither a pine nor an apple, the pineapple is actually a fusion of many “fruitlets”. The pineapple is special for many reasons, but for the science nerds, this is one of the only bromeliad fruits humans eat. A bromeliad can be either an epiphyte (rootless, chillin’ in the air) or a regular old terrestrial, such as the pineapple. (At long last, tropical biology in the Costa Rican mud pays off…gems, I tell you.)

Why it’s smart to nosh:

Pineapple is the only food which contains natural bromelain, a group of enzymes that aid in digestion, reduce inflammation, reduce swelling, and speed healing. Bromelain is great for those with muscle and joint injuries, arthritis, gout and other inflammation issues. You do have to eat the pineapple fresh, however – cooking deactivates the bromelain (so much for feeling hopeful about the Carl’s Jr. Hawaiian burger ads).

Pineapple is a rich source of manganese, an important mineral. Among many important roles as a cofactor, manganese helps superoxide dismutase do its free-radical-bustin’ job.

Pineapple is loaded with antioxidant vitamin C, too!

This is Sarah Camp’s Flickr Photo CC

Pineapple nutrition information

How to cut a pineapple

Previous Smart Fuel posts

[tags] pineapple, bromelain, natural arthritis treatment [/tags]

Read More

Healthy Tastes Great!

40 Second Omelet

Smart Fuel Posts

Most Popular Posts

[tags]eggs, omelette, omelet, healthy breakfast[/tags]

Read More

A Case Against Cardio (from a Former Mileage King)

We all know that we need to exercise to be healthy. Unfortunately, the popular wisdom of the past 40 years – that we would all be better off doing 45 minutes to an hour a day of intense aerobic activity – has created a generation of overtrained, underfit, immune-compromised exerholics. Hate to say it, but we weren’t meant to aerobicize at the chronic and sustained high intensities that so many people choose to do these days. The results are almost always unimpressive. Ever wonder why years of “Spin” classes, endless treadmill sessions and interminable hours on the “elliptical” have done nothing much to shed those extra pounds and really tone the butt? Don’t worry. There’s a reason why the current methods fail, and when you understand why, you’ll see that there’s an easier, more effective – and fun – way to burn fat, build or preserve lean muscle and maintain optimal health. The information is all there in the primal DNA blueprint, but in order to get the most from your exercise experience, first you need to understand the way we evolved and then build your exercise program around that blueprint.   Like most people, I used to think that rigorous aerobic activity was one of the main keys to staying healthy – and that the more mileage you could accumulate (at the highest intensity), the better. During my 20+ years as a competitive endurance athlete, I logged tens of thousands of training miles running and on the bike with the assumption that, in addition to becoming fit enough to race successfully at a national class level, I was also doing my cardiovascular system and the rest of my body a big healthy favor. Being the type A that I am, I read Ken Cooper’s seminal 1968 book Aerobics and celebrated the idea that you got to award yourself “points” for time spent at a high heart rate. The more points, the healthier your cardiovascular system would become. Based on that notion, I should have been one of the healthiest people on the planet. Unfortunately, I wasn’t – and that same mindset has kept millions of other health-conscious, nirvana-seeking exercisers stuck in a similar rut for almost 40 years. It’s time to get your head out of the sand and take advantage of your true DNA destiny, folks! The first signal I had that something was wrong was when I developed debilitating osteoarthritis in my ankles…at age 28. This was soon coupled with chronic hip tendonitis and nagging recurrent upper respiratory tract infections. In retrospect, it is clear now that my carbohydrate-fueled high-intensity aerobic lifestyle was promoting a dangerous level of continuous systemic inflammation, was severely suppressing other parts of my immune system and the increased oxidative damage was generally tearing apart my precious muscle and joint tissue. The stress of high intensity training was also leaving me soaking in my own internal cortisol (stress hormone) bath. It wasn’t so clear to me at the time exactly what was happening … Continue reading “A Case Against Cardio (from a Former Mileage King)”

Read More

Latest Posts