Tag: hormones

Top 10 Reasons to Stay Healthy

We know by now that we need to work out, need to eat the right foods and do stuff that is “healthy for us,” but sometimes when we’re waking up at 5 am to hit the treadmill before work or shunning the donuts at the breakfast meeting, its easy to lose sight of what we’re doing this all for.

So here’s the quick & dirty, Mark’s Daily Apple top 10 reasons why you need and want to stay healthy. Stick this list up on your fridge, tuck it in your workout bag, heck, have it tattooed on your forehead… whatever it takes to keep you motivated to lead that healthy lifestyle!

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Anaerobic Exercise HGH Link

I love this stuff. A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine may help explain what I have been saying for quite some time here: that exercise stimulates the natural production of growth hormone (the very same HGH we just wrote about yesterday). But it’s the type of exercise that makes all the difference. And this further confirms something else we’ve been saying: that it’s short intense bursts that work the best.

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Scrutinizing Soy

You’ve heard me comment here and there about Big Agra’s favorite legume, but I thought it was time to truly sit down with soy, stare it in the eye and get to the bottom of its real intentions.

Just so you know, we had an amicable exchange, and both parties came away from the table having learned a thing or two about open-mindedness and media frenzy.

It’s true, soy was once nutrition’s sweetheart. It could do no wrong (much like multi-grain anything these days). Within a shockingly brief period, it was thrust into the limelight, granted liberties it wasn’t ready for and didn’t, in all fairness, ask for. Its sudden fame propelled it into the likes of the dairy aisle, the barbeque line-up, even infant formula. Talk about big shoes to fill! Could anyone truly stand up to such phenomenal pressure and responsibility?

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The 7 Habits of Thin (Healthy) People

Bibliona Flickr Photo (CC) There are more diets than donuts, and the truth is that most of them will work in the short-term. But the reason few diets work long-term is because they are rarely sustainable for a number of reasons: boredom, severe restrictions, expense, impracticality, and so on. Most diets are vanity diets – we start them because we want to look sexy in that swim suit, rather than be fit and healthy. If humans actually thought with the end in view, we wouldn’t see such exorbitant rates of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. If you want to lose weight, I’d first encourage you to think about why you have the desire to do so. If it’s to impress everyone at your upcoming reunion, that’s certainly harmless (hey, we’re all vain). But I hope that you plan to lose weight for more than your reflection in the mirror. Studies show time and again that just a few pounds of weight loss can reduce your risk for diabetes, heart disease, depression and stroke. We don’t often think about the long-term, but we should. Changing your lifestyle right now – today – will yield you feel-good results for many years to come. And you’ll lose the weight sooner than you think, making a lifestyle change smart for the short-term, as well. Here are seven essential steps for following a healthy lifestyle that will naturally shed those extra pounds. You cannot maintain long-term weight loss and simultaneous good health if you don’t make these changes. 1. Carbs: know good from bad You frequent readers know that I ascribe to a diet rather like the “Paleo diet” or “Caveman diet”. My views on human biology inform my nutritional bent that I call “Primal Health”. I recommend complete exclusion of all refined starches, sugars and grains, and beyond that, I recommend that you choose vegetables, fruits, squashes, and legumes over wheat-based grain carbohydrates such as pasta and bread. Know good carbs from bad carbs. You don’t have to eliminate carbs entirely to remain slender (unless you happen to be very intolerant to begin with, as I believe many of us are). Axing an entire macro-nutrient is a recipe for a health disaster (and serious boredom, let’s be honest). But you need far fewer carbohydrates – particularly the ones that rapidly spike your blood sugar – than the U.S. government’s food pyramid tells you to get. See my Carb Pyramid below for more help with this. 2. Fat: ditto You cannot be healthy without fat. Period. Fat is required for all kinds of important processes in the body, including digestion and nutrient absorption. But it’s not simply about health: you likely will not be able to maintain fighting form without fat, as well. We all avoided fat in the 90s, and nobody got skinny – just diabetic and depressed, evidently. Fat is high in calories, but being so nutritionally dense, it’s a smart, hunger-staving source of fuel. You’ll actually be able to maintain a healthy … Continue reading “The 7 Habits of Thin (Healthy) People”

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The Definitive Guide to Stress, Cortisol, and the Adrenals: When ‘Fight or Flight’ Meets the Modern World

One of my goals with this weekly column is to make significant human health issues easy to understand and discuss. I was pleased that last week’s piece, the Definitive Guide to Insulin, Blood Sugar & Type 2 Diabetes, garnered some rave reviews. The Case Against Cardio piqued some great conversation and interesting criticisms (one soul out there in the webosphere took issue with the fact that I positioned Cardio exclusively from my personal perspective as a runner rather than authoring a more scholarly article. Well wasn’t that spot on. It’s called my blog.) My opinions can’t please everyone, of course, but – based on my experiences and understanding – I am certain that contributing some insights on health in light of our (all together now) genetic blueprint is a worthwhile and timely endeavor.

Now to the topic at hand. Stress can make you gain weight, and it contributes to premature aging. Understanding how stress is related to your overall health and potentially even longevity is essential to achieving your health goals. But do not, repeat, do not go and buy yourself a bottle of Cortislim – just read this quick summary and you’ll know all you need to know.

Ariel Amanda Flickr Photo (CC)

The adrenal glands are not unlike a walnut.

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The Definitive Guide to Insulin, Blood Sugar & Type 2 Diabetes (and you’ll understand it)

BITE ME, ADA

We all know by now that type 2 diabetes is an epidemic. We’re seeing words like crisis and runaway all over the news and in the journals. Heart disease rates have been cut in half since the staggering margarine days of the 1980s, but diabetes has swiftly risen to fill that gaping void and meet the challenge of Completely Unnecessary Disease Epidemic.

Here’s my ultra-simple explanation of the entire insulin/blood sugar/type 2 diabetes mess. Big Agra could really care less about you. That’s just business. The pharmaceutical industry is not in it for the love of life. If that were the case, drugs would be much cheaper. The FDA has to think about public health, but it also has to think about treading carefully on the toes of corporate interests, because that’s how it works when you’re the biggest economy in the world.

Print this explanation out, stick it on your fridge, email it to your aunt. And put down the pasta.

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10 Things to Know about Tofu

Soy. Tofu. Tempeh. Make that steaming rubbery gray squares of questionable origin. I get a lot of questions about this bland food product we call by various names. Do I eat tofu? Is it healthy? Is it manna from heaven? Or will it cause your voice to jump an octave and your hormones to rage out of control? I don’t want to claim to “set the record straight” on this topic, which is something a lot of people do in the health world (make that every area of life, right?). Science and experience are always revealing new information and insights, so I don’t like to be assumptive by claiming one food is definitively bad or good for all eternity. That said, here are 10 important things I think everyone should know about tofu: 1. Hill of beans Whole soybeans, or edamame (in-the-shell version), are a great plant protein source. I eat soybeans regularly and I think this is a great way to eat soy because beans are unprocessed, fresh, and whole. Soybeans do have a bit more fat than other beans, but they are a hearty protein and contain valuable phyto-nutrients. Soybeans do contain plant estrogens and phytic acid (more on that in a moment), so no, tofu is not a “miracle” health food. But it’s also not evil, unlike fat-free devil’s food cookies. 2. What’s this about black beans? Did you know that douchi, the black beans commonly used in Asian cooking (think black bean sauce), are actually just fermented soy beans? Fermented foods are very high in nutritional value, so I recommend getting some sort of fermented food in your diet daily (organic sugar-free yogurt, kefir, kimchi and fermented olives or vegetables are great examples). Fermented foods reduce cholesterol and improve digestion and immunity. In general, I recommend fermented soy products such as black beans because other, processed soy products like soy milk and tofu contain phytic acid, which does inhibit some nutrient absorption (hence the soy controversy). 3. Soybean oil Soybean oil is heavily refined and ought to be avoided. This junk won’t do you any health favors at all. Aside from anti-nutritive compounds in soybean oil, most soybean oil contains some level of dangerous trans fat (even the “trans-free” varieties are still heavily refined and contain chemically-modified fat molecules). You’ll notice this worthless oil in most processed foods, which is why I advocate sticking to fresh, unprocessed meals. You don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen to eat healthily – salads, steamed veggies and grilled fish take just minutes to prepare once you learn to make them. 4. Soy nuts, chips, and snacks Here is where we can make a really important distinction. Take even the healthiest food and turn it into a processed snack, and it is no longer healthy! Whether soy is a miraculous heart-healthy food or not, processing anything destroys valuable nutrients and enzymes and usually means added fat, sugar, and chemicals. I see people purchasing and eating unhealthy snacks every day … Continue reading “10 Things to Know about Tofu”

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HRT: The Problem That Just Won’t Go Away

A doctor weighs in on the HRT-cancer connection. The controversy isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.

I recommend reading the whole interview if this is an area of interest for you. What caught my attention is the subtle pro-drug stance the interview appears to take, while simultaneously bringing out revealing facts like the following:

Q. Was it a surprise to learn that estrogen and progestins can cause breast cancer?

A. We’ve known there is a cause and effect with hormones and breast cancer since 1896.

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Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

HRT is all over the news again. This, from Newsday:

“Statistics from a major study revealing that rates of the most common form of breast cancer dropped dramatically between 2002 and 2003 are being greeted with applause and skepticism as the medical and advocacy communities digest the news.”

Yes, it’s a tough one to chew. In brief, cases of estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer (which accounts for nearly 3/4 of breast cancer cases) dropped dramatically from 2002 to 2003. This was the same time that several key studies, including a famous government-funded study (the Women’s Health Initiative), found that hormone replacement therapy (or HRT), particularly that derived from mares – in drugs like Prempro and Premarin – was linked to a significant increase in breast cancer risk.

It makes sense. Estrogen is a powerful hormone and using it in drug therapy has been and continues to be a risky proposition. A dramatic drop in estrogen-receptor breast cancer cases, occurring in tandem with the much-publicized discontinued use of HRT by millions of women, isn’t something I think the drug industry or medical community ought to be stumped by. These are highly-trained, intelligent individuals, and frankly, I think the situation is quite clear. What’s to digest? In one year – the same year in which Prempro saw its sales cut by half – breast cancer rates dropped by over 7%; for women over age 50, the rate was 12%.

This is why it is so important to be critical of any drug therapy that is recommended to us, especially for treating health matters that are either part of aging or can be prevented or better addressed through lifestyle choices. Blood pressure pills and cholesterol-lowering pills and arthritis prescriptions can help, but as we see with the HRT scandal (and last year’s Vioxx and Celebrex disasters), there are always side effects. There are always unintended consequences.

This doesn’t mean you ought to toss your medications if there is a legitimate need for them; but arm yourself with knowledge, be ruthlessly critical of everything that anyone recommends to you, and consider whether there are safer, more natural alternatives. The alternatives are often not as easy in the short term, but they’re certainly easier than painful and even fatal side effects down the road.

[tags] HRT, hormone replacement therapy, estrogen, breast cancer, estrogen receptor positive, Premarin, Prempro, Newsday, drug side effects, pharmaceuticals [/tags]

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