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topic (“which vitamins are helpful, which are harmful”) but because media sources continue to offer the same retread of outdated vitamin lore as if it were breaking scientific information.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 … Continue reading “Vitaminute”
There’s a lot of advice about exercise floating around out there. Everyone knows they need to work out, yet most of us don’t (well, everyone except you, dear Apples – right?). The big problem is motivation. Let’s face it: we just don’t feel like it. – We know we need to. – Once we get going, we usually like it (or at least, it’s not a totally miserable experience). – We always feel better afterwards. – We sleep better that night. – We feel really confident and light-hearted for the rest of the day. – We love that good soreness the next morning. And yet…we still refuse to exercise habitually. Things that are officially easier than forming an exercise habit: – House-training a puppy. – Cleaning the outside of the windows on the second floor. With a broken squeegee. – Spending the weekend with your mother-in-law. Alone. In a motel. – Changing a flat tire in your best suit. – Spreading cold butter on bread. – Getting a real person when you call customer service. – Peace in the Middle East. If you aren’t going to exercise, you aren’t going to exercise – end of story. If you really want to get fit this year, or simply fitter, there’s one surefire way to do it: stop thinking about it and don’t wait until you feel like it. Nike is right: just do it. A lot of exercise advice focuses on convincing you that you need to work out. But please, you’re smart – you already know that much. And you know exercise is good for you. So, if you’re serious about finding motivation, here are 5 guaranteed motivation tips: 1. Click here to see what will happen to you if you do not work out. 2. Click here to see what can happen to you if you do work out. 3. Instead of swearing you’ll exercise or promising to stick to a workout regimen, commit to health the easy way: just commit to putting on your sneakers. Really and truly, that is 90% of the battle. Don’t think about working out; only think about putting on your shoes. Do that, and it’s instantly easier to start the workout. Even if you only do 10 minutes, at least you did something! We promise this works. So commit to shoes. 4. Ask us for encouragement. We are completely wrapped up in the thought of helping you get fit and healthy this year! 5. Don’t overestimate yourself. People set hugely unrealistic goals. We think we could all look like Cindy Crawford if we felt like it. We work out a few times, nothing happens, and…we’re back to lifestyle circa 2006. If you’re not really habituated to working out, it is harder than you think. That’s okay. It’s actually healthy to accept that. Set smaller, more realistic goals. And we mean small. 10 sit-ups a day. 5 push-ups. A jog to the end of the block and back. A walk to the store. Get … Continue reading “Exercise Motivation That Works”
Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:
You’re still here? Hey, cut out early and go get some sun! Stretch those legs, Apples. We advocate slacking off once in a while – it’s good for beating stress, which makes you more productive and healthy, anyway. But first, the Friday wrap-up…
1) It’s a Good Thing It’s not 1776…
…or we’d be in a really sorry state of affairs. Britain is kicking our big, flabby behind when it comes to fighting heart disease. The Brits have cut back on smoking, reduced heart attacks, and are about to meet their health goal three years ahead of schedule. That’s right, ahead of schedule – when was the last time our government managed to meet, let alone beat, its own goal deadline?
Our New Year’s Resolution? Show the darn world who has real heart. (And statin-schmatin. We can do it the right way – cut out garbage food, get exercise at least three times a week, and stop smoking.)
Also, let’s set a decent goal. Uncle Sam is big on baby steps when it comes to public health, but we think it’s time to take massive, alpha-dog action. We all know “baby steps” usually amounts to a lot of crawling around and burping and not much stepping. The UK planned to cut heart disease by 40% by 2010, and they’re already at 36%. It’s barely 2007.
Do we even have a number goal? It’s bad enough that we get teased for lacking “culture”. But now we’re going to let them win the “better looking and healthier heart” award, too? If you love your country, better put away the smokes, move those lazy buns, and lay off the junk food. This is America, for cryin’ out loud! We don’t do baby steps here!
2) Celebrities Are Not Health Experts
Our beloved pals over at That’s Fit always cut through the gloss. Check out this clickativity and remember: if it sounds too good to be true, and if there isn’t science to back it up, and most importantly, if Madonna thinks it’s going to save your life, you might want to get a second opinion.
Between bird flu, Rhode Island school closures, conjoined children, the new WHO director, an ethical debate about a disabled daughter, and the ruckus over human-animal DNA splicing, it’s been quite a controversial and bizarre week in the world of science and health. Frankly, I’ll leave these stories to Google and all the pundits chomping at the 5 o’clock Friday bit. If you’re looking for a little bit of a breather from all this, the Bees have gone hunting for the latest study findings in the field of health, and here’s the best of the catch: 1 – My favorite kind of study: one that’s randomized, placebo-controlled, and long-term (in this case, nearly 7 years!). The findings reveal that supplementing with zinc helps fight aging and age-related diseases, macular degeneration, and oxidation. It’s one of the better-designed studies I’ve seen on zinc. Although, quick note – long-term supplementation with zinc needs to be kept at a fairly low dosage and quality source such as found here. Here is the American Journal of Ophthalmology Clickativity for those who want the nitty-gritty. 2 – A researcher named Bruce. Now here’s a guy I like. He writes a terrific essay on the need for particular nutrients to mitigate certain effects of aging, cancer risk, and cellular function, and is upfront about his conflict of interest (he’s part of a scientific advisory board involved in the licensing of a supplement that supports mitochondria). Nevertheless, he doesn’t profit, his findings are spot-on, and I appreciate the academic honesty. That’s more than can be said for a lot of conflicts of interest in the medical industry that get hushed. We’ll be getting into ATP, stress, oxidation and mitochondria in the future to help you understand why our bodies age and weaken the way they do, and what can be done about it (first tip: take a potent multivitamin with antioxidants, and lay off the sugar). But Bruce’s summary is worth perusing for a quick minute. The more you can do to stop oxidation at the cellular level, the better your health will be in myriad ways: wrinkling and aging, energy, immunity, cognition, disease prevention, liver function, nervous system function, cardiovascular health, and so on. There is a common component to many diseases, illnesses and dysfunctions of the body – it’s cell damage. 3 – Exercise improves life in your golden years. A study from the Journal of Gerontology highlights the critical need for folks over 60 to continue building their strength through exercise. Aging is essentially a process of tissue wasting away – hair, organs, vital fats, muscle and bone tissue, and even brain tissue. Exercise, particularly strength training, offsets this process to the extent that is possible. Living long is great – but I’m interested in living well, too. I’m sure you are as well. Exercise later in life is also critical for maintaining confidence, emotional happiness, and a sense of security – all important things for everybody but especially seniors. Medline Plus, a public service … Continue reading “Outtakes”
Worker Bees’ Daily Bites
What’s up, Apples? All kinds of great health news for you today. Here’s the latest you’ll want to click:
1) Fine…But It’s Still a Frankenfat
So, we don’t really have a comment on this. What goes on with this line of reasoning? Who thinks this stuff up? “Take bad fake fat. Fake it some more so it has some good in it. But it’s still bad fat. Sort of.” Huh? Here’s an idea: stop playing God with food! Oh yeah. Sorry. We promised no comment. People may never stop eating potato chips; should scientists just try to make them slightly less terrible for you? We just don’t believe this is the best humans are capable of. We’re only bees, of course…
2) Never Too Late to Feel Great with Folate
After it became common knowledge that women needs lots of folate to prevent birth defects, things started to improve. For a while. The government has conducted two back-to-back long-term studies to see if women are getting enough folate.
Surprisingly, levels are way back down again despite all the folic flapping. The researchers think it’s a combination of obesity rates increasing and supplementation rates decreasing. The moral? Stay lean, eat greens, and take a multivitamin, for goodness’ sake. (If for no other reason than to make us quit with the folate rhymes!)
3) We Knew It!
This just in: soap and water are just as good at removing germs as all those fancy-schmancy hand sanitizers. Repeat: soap and water are just as good. Hand sanitizers are the bottled water of the germ-conscious set.
Here are the facts for all you beloved germophobes:
– Alcohol-based sanitizers do a good job of killing bacteria IF you use a lot of the goop. Most people only use a little squirt and that’s not really enough. Also, these hand sanitizers kill good bacteria along with the bad. We would die without good bacteria, so it’s something to think about. Besides, remember that most of the really nasty stuff is viral, not bacterial (flu, colds, HIV, meningitis, tuberculosis, etc.).
– Which brings us to the next fact: while sanitizers will not always kill viruses, hand-washing will. That’s because soap isn’t a killer – soap is just a slimeball (literally). Soap helps bacteria and viruses slide right off your hands, which is why you need to “soap up” for at least 10 rigorous seconds before rinsing. Soap doesn’t kill, it just gives germs the slip.
More clickativity from around the web:
Crazy But True
Bad Days Continue for Big Pharma: 8,000 people aren’t wrong.
Here is a razor-sharp example of excellent, detailed, honest medical research reporting. Unfortunately, with words like ergot and agonist, it’s also as relentlessly boring as a Del Monte fruit cup without the little pink “cherries”. No wonder people are confused about the latest medical findings! Where are the resources to interpret this jargon?
Oh yeah, here, that’s where! Whew.
And here. (An anonymous MD’s personal take on medical practice. Often quite interesting.)
And here. (Ok, so this one’s a little dry, but you can scope where we review studies.)
Anyway, this example in particular found that certain types of Parkinson’s drugs may cause major heart problems in certain types of patients. The good news is that a more effective Parkinson’s drug appears to be near completion thanks to the KDI breakthrough from last year (KDI is a protein that appears to play a role in preventing certain neurological problems). KDI treatment may even help prevent ALS and strokes.
There’s another huge issue surrounding Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases that I want to draw particular attention to, because it’s infuriating. According to this article, scientists are having a hard time effectively researching potential causes and cures because industry lawsuits – from chemical companies to welding groups – jump all over medical studies that link environmental causes to these diseases. This is something you can personally help to change with this clickativity. It will take about 45 seconds. I think it’s more than worth it.
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[tags]Parkinson’s, KDI, Alzheimer’s, politics[/tags]