Feeling Presidential?

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites

So, it’s Presidents’ Day. What’s the appropriate adjective? Happy Presidents’ Day? Merry Presidents’ Day? Oh Yeah It’s Presidents’ Day Again?

Here’s the day’s most important health news, Apples:

Unraveling Autism

Autism news has been all over the place lately – first with the news that 1 in 150 children are autistic, and today’s splash: autism may have a genetic component. Here’s a blog that does a good job of following autism news, although we take issue (albeit very small issue) with the statement that “autism is genetic”. The study that’s hitting headlines does not really claim that genetics cause autism. Rather, scientists have identified a particular genetic abnormality, in one gene, in autistic children.

Mike Knowles photo
They aren’t sure what this means (they’re working on it). It could indicate predisposition or cause. The lead scientist in the study explained that autism could still be (and likely is) related to environmental factors – and that clearly, many factors play a role in autism, which is actually a spectrum of disorders.

Bad News for Reese’s?

Peanut butter is officially jumping the shark. But chocolate is good for you. This has got to be confusing for Reese’s peanut butter cups. Just kidding…no one should be eating that junk anyway. Dogpile rocks, which is really what we wanted to share with you! (Get clickative to find out what we’re talking about. It will all make sense if you click. Promise.)

Eat this kind of chocolate:

This is from Green and Black’s site.

Real chocolate is a great source of brain-boosting antioxidants and has very little sugar compared to “regular” chocolate (which, all together now…is not actually chocolate). We’re not saying you should make a meal out of it, but the American chocolate situation (in our view, catastrophe) is a classic example of food producers taking something that is simultaneously rich and healthy and wonderful…and ruining it. If you’re used to Kit Kats and Snickers, you are not living, kid! That is not chocolate! Move on up to this decadent, rich, heady stuff – it won’t take much to get a serious chocolate fix.

But not this kind:

This kind is not chocolate. Repeat: not chocolate. This is hydrogenated oil, sugar, chemicals, and some cheap cocoa powder and flavoring. It is not chocolate – it is addictive junk, but it’s not chocolate.

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Holy Grails of Health

Taking a look at the health headlines this afternoon, I’m struck again by how much information is really disinformation, misinformation, and my personal favorite, uninformation (e.g. exercise is good! try to quit smoking! eat healthy!). Every day, I see the most sensational (but worthless), the most inaccurate, and the most outdated health information disseminated. Question the “holy grails” of health and suffer the wrath of so-called experts (who are often no better informed than you). The holy grails I challenge: – Is type 2 diabetes a disease or a natural response to a toxic diet? – Is cholesterol the cause of heart disease, or the body’s desperate attempt to repair damage? – Why rely on the BMI – are there better indicators of physical fitness and healthy weight? – Do we really need 8, or 10, or 12 glasses of water daily – or should we drink when we’re thirsty? – Is milk fit for human consumption? How about grains? Why did these get the “perfect food” labels? – Is our diet really providing all the nutrients we need? The Onion Consider one typical path of health information for a moment: – A study is performed which may or may not be funded by a company or special interest hoping for a certain result. – Scientists may or may not find the results that were desired, and may or may not present those results in an accurate way (if you’re a lab tech at the FDA, chances are good that you’ve been threatened, warned, or cajoled for attempting to do your job). – The company or special interest releases this “news” in a particular way, and the media may or may not do background digging to determine the accuracy, fairness, or potential bias inherent in the release. – Our own biases, background and desires filter how we interpret and accept or reject the news, which may or may not be accurate news to begin with. – The government may or may not look out for the truth. The FDA is replete with ex-Pharma pros and the federal legislature is inundated with special interest dollars and deals. Though the government is supposed to look out for public health, I’d argue that public servants actually have less incentive to be honest or ethical than average citizens, because reelection is often tied to perception of results, not actual results. Fail, and you can spin it. If a businessperson fails, it’s hard to spin your way out of that – you failed, period. There are consequences. Where are the consequences for the FDA or pharmaceutical companies? Theoretically, legislation and lawsuits “protect” the consumer, but I don’t see that these things have yielded measurable improvement. Sure, Big Puff shelled out a boatload of cash in the ’90s in class-action suits, but behind our backs, at the very same time, the very same tobacco companies were increasing the nicotine levels in cigarettes. If that’s not spite… Who has a vested interest in Americans being sick, overweight, … Continue reading “Holy Grails of Health”

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Friday’s Fuss

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

Peanut butter is being recalled, women are more germy than men, and we can all breathe a sigh of relief, because Donald Trump’s comb-over may soon become a thing of the past. Or maybe not.

Peanut butter isn’t the ideal food anyway (it’s fine in sauces and on fresh fruit, but a PB&J sandwich is no healthier than a donut). Girls still smell better. As far as Donald is concerned, we think his hair would make a great nest.

Here’s the breaking clickativity:

1) Restless Legs Are Not News

Restless legs have a cure: movement. Restless leg syndrome is a modern phenomenon borne of obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. It is NOT a disease needing a cure. The cure is to move around once in a while.

Here’s an incredible expose on how pharmaceutical companies literally create diseases so you’ll take their drugs – and how the media are complicit in spinning the lies.

2) Expect Plenty of Bad Leno Jokes Tonight

So Kentucky and West Virginia are overweight, heart-disease-ridden states. Before you gloat (or feel bad if you hail from these states), keep in mind that all 50 of our states are a giant collective embarrassment.

We are the fattest, sickest, soonest-dying, most diseased industrialized nation. Pretty pathetic, considering we’re leaders in medical research, have no shortage of nutritious food, and are the richest nation…on earth. But the media are covering this non-news like white on rice. Basically, we’re preschoolers comparing the size of our crayon boxes while everybody else has moved on to markers.

This is the kind of irritating health news we have to draw attention to, simply because it’s so stupid. It’s a good example of how the media alternately scares the living daylights out of people and reports frivolous non-news as “news”. Will anyone care about this in two weeks (or two days)? Will anything be done? Where are the investigative pieces and exposes that actually produce some change?

3) Bees Dying

This makes us very sad. And it could actually be a huge problem for crop production this year.

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If I See 1 More Carrot-Cauli-Broccoli Blend, I’ll…

Smart Fuel You know what I am sick of? Boring vegetable blends! No wonder people don’t eat their vegetables. Every restaurant, catered buffet and frozen blend seems to feature the same old julienned carrots, pale broccoli chunks and soggy cauliflower (does anyone really, truly love cauliflower?). Let’s not forget the ubiquitous cucumber slices with bitter skins and the endless selection of pithy, depressing tomatoes. I refuse to eat boring, soggy, uninspiring vegetables. Why eat broccoli stem chunks when you can stuff yourself with olive oil-drizzled broccolini? Why deal with yet another white onion when you can try out shallots for the same price? I’m not exactly what you’d call a chef, but fortunately, coming up with meals that taste amazing is incredibly easy if you just expand your idea of what “getting your veggies” means. It’s just about impossible to mess up vegetables. So try something new this weekend. There are plenty of really flavorful, interesting plants to nosh on in your quest for flat abs and more energy. Here are a few to try: Heart of palm We can’t get enough of this stuff around the Sisson household. You can slice these stalks up like potatoes au gratin and bake them with a little ricotta, goat cheese or cottage cheese for a really indulgent but healthy meal. Heart of palm is almost nonexistent in the calorie department, and provides a lot of fiber. The texture is similar to canned artichoke or bamboo but is far more rich and satisfying. Heart of palm has the perfect amount of chewiness and a mild, salty flavor that makes it perfect for replacing starchy items like potatoes or pasta – and it makes a great snack. If you’ve tried and failed at tofu, you will love heart of palm. Thanks to Chodta for the picture! Okra If you’re from the South, you already know (and possibly love) okra. A lot of people hear “okra” and think “slime”. But prepared right, okra is…off the chain. I buy frozen chopped okra, thaw it, and rinse it thoroughly several times. It takes a little work to drain and press the goop away, but what’s left is a vegetable that makes a mean stir fry. I cook okra over a really hot grill to get it a little bit seared for maximum flavor, dryness and crunch. Goes great with chili flavors and hot sauces. Okra is just about the easiest way to lose that belly fat – you can eat an entire bag for fewer calories than a slice of cheese. Sea vegetables Seaweed is just the beginning. Look around – health food stores, organic and vegetarian aisles, and ethnic food stores all carry many types of unusual sea vegetables. Some of them are passable, but some are so good I don’t know why anyone continues to suffer through green-white-and-carrot. Experiment. Sea vegetables are nutritionally dense – they’re particularly good for the thyroid and the cardiovascular system. Herbs All those little packets of fresh herbs? Start buying … Continue reading “If I See 1 More Carrot-Cauli-Broccoli Blend, I’ll…”

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Hard Core

Core strength – everyone is talking about it. Core is just a buzz word for your midsection, and it’s very important to maximize your core health. A healthy, strong core is the “core” of good health.

A few key steps:

– You must shed that spare tire to naturally improve core health (cut out that sugar, folks).

– Get both resistance and aerobic activity several times a week.

– Do one or two torso-focused exercise sessions a week. The midsection doesn’t need much time: 10 or 15 minutes is enough.

– Maintain good posture.

– Implement some stretching and balance exercises into your workouts.

Trainer Russ Suchala and I were discussing this “core” topic the other day – here’s why you must take care of your core if you want good health:

“Training your core will result in tremendous benefits in a relatively short amount of time. This is because a strong core improves your posture, decreases your chance of injury, increases your power and functionality, and gives you a great-looking lean midsection.

Core training is rapidly gaining popularity for one specific reason: sitting leads to a weak core. Sitting? Yep, sitting.

Think about your typical work day. If you are like most people then your day starts with a 30-60 minute drive to work, followed by 8 hours at your desk and then another 30-60 minute drive home. That’s a lot of sitting. And it all adds up to one thing: a weak core.

The muscles that make up the core play a unique role since they provide stabilization for your entire body.

Core training seeks to strengthen the muscles of your abdominal and lower back using coordinated movement. A strong focus is put on contracting your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button in toward your spine throughout the exercises to ensure that your core muscles are engaged.

Unfortunately many ailments stem from having weak core muscles. You may be personally acquainted with the most common ailment…lower back pain. Other problems include poor posture, being injury prone, having minimal strength and (drum roll please) a bulging waistline.

Alleviating persistent back pain is one of the most welcomed benefits of a strong core. An increase in strength and protection from injury are also nice, and who doesn’t love to lose inches from their waist as a result of tightened muscle?

Everyday motions such as lifting, squatting, reaching, twisting and bending will become less challenging after strengthening your core. While you may not immediately see the value in this, remember that it is better to be safe than sorry – who really wants to throw out their back while taking out the trash?”

Thanks, Russ. Apples, stick around for more fitness tips in future posts. It doesn’t take much to improve your health and physique – just commitment to action. As I always say, putting on the sneakers is 90% of the battle.

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[tags]core strength, aerobic, posture, exercise, Russ Suchala, training, back pain[/tags]

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The Secret to Great Abs

Admit it: half the reason we all watch Lost is because the main characters are just so great looking. They all have those ripped abs and defined arms that every guy and gal wants. Guess what? It’s not as tough as you’d think to look like Kate or the Doc (oops…lest I start yet another “which guy for Kate” debate, Sawyer, too). The big myth about getting a sleek, jelly-free belly is that you have to do endless stomach exercises. Hence the never-ending procession of rollers, riders, crunchers and other fitness gimmicks that never give you the washboard you want. You cannot roll, twist, or squeeze your way to a sexy stomach, no matter what the infomercials tell you. Here’s why: you already have abs! They might not be as developed as the dude on the cover of Men’s Health, but you already have abs. The problem is that fat is covering them up. Get rid of the fat, and your abs will show up just fine. Believe me, they are there. Doing stomach exercises is important for further developing those muscles and building core strength (more on that in a moment), but the best thing you can do as far as your torso is concerned – not only for improving confidence, your looks, and your comfort with your body, but your health – is to shed fat. Midsection fat is the most harmful kind of fat to your health and is a critical indicator of stress. Flex your stomach – even if you’re a couch potato, there’s a little muscle there. Now, if you are flexing and you can still grab abdominal fat in your hand, that’s exactly how much is surrounding your precious internal organs – and that’s a dangerous thing. Fat on your backside? Not so much. So by all means, crunch away – but your middle will actually get bigger if you don’t simultaneously shrink the fat. Spot toning without overall fat reduction is the wrong approach to getting flat abs, but it’s what most people do. (And notice, nothing changes much, and we all have to suffer through yet another magic abs infomercial with way too much spandex.) I’m a big proponent of taking care of your torso, not so you can look like a Lost extra (though that’s not a bad thing), but because a healthy middle means reduced chances of obesity (duh), diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and sleep problems. I’ll be bringing you tips on cutting fat in upcoming posts, but here’s a quick suggestion: cut out all refined carbs, sugar and alcohol for two weeks. I guarantee you’ll see a major reduction in bloat and midsection fat. Although excess calories are what adds the poundage, sugar is the culprit that goes right to the gut. It’s incredibly difficult to have a spare tire if you are primarily getting your calories from protein and produce. Be sure to check in tomorrow when I’ll be posting a discussion I recently had with Russ Suchala, … Continue reading “The Secret to Great Abs”

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