Wednesday, May 08, 2013
A disturbing report from the Centers For Disease Control reveals that Americans are consuming an alarming amount of ADDED sugar...a whopping 13-percent of our total calories come from added sugar, which is a terrible commentary and certainly explains why, as a whole, our society struggles with weight.
As the name implies, added sugar is a sweetener that has been put into the product. In contrast, some foods, such as fruit and milk, contain natural sugar.
What's interesting about the results of the study is that most of the added sugars we consume come from food, not beverages. Up until now, most healthcare experts assumed the added sugars we consumed were mostly in the form of sodas, sports drinks and fancy coffees. Now it appears those drinks make up one-third of the added sugars we consume, when the other two-thirds come from food.
Another interesting discovery from the research is that most of the food we eat that contains added sugars we consume at home, as opposed to at a restaurant. What is the significance of that? It means we purchase these awful products at the grocery store and bring them into our homes.
We have to turn this ship around!
The astonishing amount of sugar the average American consumes may be to blame for more health problems than we even know, at this point. Certainly we know that sugar causes inflammation, which is the root of a whole host of diseases, not the least of which is heart disease and cancer. Of course, too much sugar makes us fat and leads to diabetes. Furthermore, sugar, and it's evil twin, trans fat, have been linked to Alzheimer's Disease, Autism, ADD and ADHD and autoimmune diseases. The list goes on, because if too much sugar causes deadly inflammation, which is linked to a wide array of health hazards, then sugar is the culprit for most of our health problems.
It's estimated that 80% of all of our health problems are the result of poor lifestyle choices. That means if we ate a great diet, exercised a lot, got enough sleep, didn't smoke, effectively managed stress, avoided environmental toxins, didn't abuse drugs or alcohol, practiced biblical sexuality, obeyed the traffic rules, etc., then 80% of our health problems would disappear. Most of the time we are not victims when we fall ill, but rather it is the consequence of poor choices.
Just think of how much healthier we'd be if we stopped eating sugar! As I mentioned above, some foods naturally contain sugar, so we should first begin by eliminating added sugar. Boy oh boy is that a tall order. If you take the time, and you should, to read the list of ingredients on the items in the grocery store, you will be utterly shocked to learn that some type of sugar is added to almost everything...even things that don't really seem sweet, like bread and pasta sauce.
In general, it's the processed foods that are the worst. Food manufacturers know that we humans adore the taste of sweet and will eat more of any product that tastes sweet. Furthermore, certain sugars, like high fructose corn syrup, are cheap, so it's an inexpensive filler, from a manufacturing standpoint.
Eliminating (or at least reducing) your added sugar intake is easy to understand, but difficult to do. Nevertheless, it is one of the best things you could possibly undertake, and therefore, well worth the effort.
The first step is to look at what you are putting into your body. STOP DRINKING ANYTHING SWEET and switch to water.
Now focus on the food. Check the list of ingredients, not the labels, the LIST OF INGREDIENTS, of everything you plan to purchase at the grocery store. Don't put anything into your cart if it contains high fructose corn syrup, sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, malt syrup, pancake syrup, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose, anhydrous dextrose, crystal dextrose and dextrin. Beware of healthy sounding sugars, like honey or pure cane sugar. They sound healthy, but they're still sugar. Watch out for ingredients that end in "ose" that are often sugars manufactured in a lab. Rule of thumb: if you don't know what it is, it's probably bad for you.
You will find that 99 percent of everything you pick up contains added sugar. The best plan of attack is to shop the perimeter of the store, especially the produce department. The middle aisles are the ones that are loaded with processed foods. Cookies, crackers, cereal, snacks, soda....POISON! If you don't think you like vegetables, probably the reason is because you fill up on sugar and other carbohydrates and literally spoil your appetite for healthy food. So the good news is, if you don't purchase and eat sugar, you will find that fresh vegetables are more appealing.
Although temptation is everywhere, nobody is forcing us to consume all the added sugar we do. It's our own free choice what we put in our bodies. We must exercise self-control and avoid added sugars or we will suffer the deadly consequences.
Monday, April 29, 2013
Over 200 children die every year because someone backed-over the child with a car. Tragically, usually that "someone" is their own parent. It's almost too horrible to imagine. Every week in the United States about 50 children are back over by a vehicle. 48 are treated in emergency rooms and at least two children die. That totals about 17,000 children who are injured by back-over incidents, but who, thankfully, survive.
The wonderful organization called Kids and Cars, headed by Janette Fennell is trying to do everything possible to prevent these tragedies. She gathered together with parents of children killed in backover incidents at a Capitol Hill press event, along with Democrat Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and Republican Congressman Peter King. They all want the Obama Administration to release a rear visibility rule for motor vehicles. This would mean rearview cameras would be standard equipment for all motor vehicles.
If you haven't ever driven a car with a rearview camera, or been a passenger in one, let me tell you, they are fantastic. What a lifesaving piece of technology. They are especially valuable in trucks and SUVs, because the likelihood is ever greater in those vehicles that the driver might not see a youngster behind the vehicles as it is backing out. Currently rearview cameras are optional equipment. But since they so very clearly can save a child's life, the push is on to make them standard.
The truth is, his safety rule was passed a long time ago, way back in February 2008. At that time, the timetable was three years. The rule should have been issued in February 2011. So what's been done? Nothing.
"It is clear from so many other actions that President Obama has the safety of our children as a top priority. We urge the President to take one simple step today and issue the rear visibility rule," said Fennell, "These unacceptable and unnecessary deaths and injuries from backover incidents must stop."
Joan Claybrook, a former administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated, "Rearview cameras are available and affordable." She went on to say every day of delay puts children at risk.
One of the most heartbreaking testimonials came from Ellen Adams of Ponte Vedra, Florida. Her husband accidentally backed-over their daughter and killed the little girl. He just couldn't handle the guilt. He committed suicide. She said, "People kept asking me, after my daughter was backed over and killed, and my husband subsequently committed suicide, why I didn't have a nervous breakdown? My response was easy...who would be left for my son? I urge the President to protect other families from these preventable tragedies."
KidsAndCars.org urges all adults to heighten their awareness before they engage a vehicle intoreverse; especially when children are present. Young children are impulsive and unpredictable; stillhave very poor judgment and little understanding of danger. In addition, young children do notrecognize boundaries such as property lines, sidewalks, driveways or parking spaces. Toddlers have established independent mobility between the ages of 12-23 months, but the concept of personal safety is absent. Backovers are often the predictable consequence of a child following a parent into the driveway and standing behind their vehicle without their parent's knowledge.
Backovers can happen in ANY vehicle because all vehicles have a blind zone; the area behind a vehicle you cannot see from the driver's seat. The danger tends to increase with larger vehicles. It's always best to look carefully behind the vehicle before you get in and again before you put the car in gear to back up. Remember to back up slowly, and pay attention to your mirrors.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Every one of us knows someone who died of a heart attack. But so many of us are really not that familiar with what a heart attack really is. More to the point, would you know it if you were having a heart attack? Would you be able to recognize if someone else were having one?
Heart attack symptoms are sometimes vague, particularly among women. The most obvious symptom is, of course, chest pain. But heart attack pain is not limited to just the chest, but can also include pain to any part of the upper body, including stomach pain. It can even be that stomach pain is the only pain a person experiences. Sometimes when a person is having a heart attack, they find it difficult to catch their breath. Other symptoms include dizziness and cold sweats.
Some of the more subtle heart attack symptoms that are commonly overlooked include indigestion and nausea. If a person feels fatigued for no apparent reason, it might be because they are having a heart attack. Believe it or not, pain in the head is also a sign that someone is having a heart attack...pain like a headache, or trouble with the neck or jaw.
If you are with someone who is experiencing one or more of these symptoms, the first thing you should do is check to see if the person is breathing. Also check for a pulse. Then raise the person's legs 18 inches off the ground to allow blood to flow toward the heart.
If the person is not responsive, call 9-1-1.
Then start chest compressions. They're easy! Don't be afraid! And best of all, you might save a life. Most people who have a heart attack at home or at work or in a public place die because nobody administered CPR in time. Usually if you wait until EMTs arrive, it's too late.
All you have to do is put the heel of your hand on their chest, between the breasts. Then link your other hand on top of it. Next, simply push down hard and kind-of fast. Most of know the old disco song, "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees. Get that song in your head and push down on the person's chest to the beat of Stayin' Alive. That translates into about 100 beats a minute. This is called "hands only CPR" and doubles a heart attack victim's chance of survival.
Now that you know what to do, here's what you DON'T want to do: Do not leave the person alone. No matter how much they try to convince you that that are fine, or will be fine, don't let them talk you out of calling for medical help. And finally, don't wait to see if the symptoms will go away. They might not go away, they might get worse, and every second counts. Don't wast time. Call 9-1-1.
Heart attacks can be illusive and confusing because the symptoms are often vague. So keep in mind the wide variety of ways heart attacks can present themselves. Hopefully, you will never need to perform "hands only CPR," but if you do, dial 9-1-1 and think...2 hands, push down hard to the beat of Stayin' Alive.
Monday, April 08, 2013
One of the best things you can do for your health is to take a fish oil supplement each and every day. Fish oil contains Omega-3 fats, which are essential to the proper function of our bodies. It keeps us from getting sick by strengthening our immune system, it makes us smart, keeps us thin and even improves our mood!
Sadly, however, there are very few sources of Omega-3 fats. Coldwater fish are the best. That means fish like salmon, sardines and blue fin tuna. It's tough to actually eat those fish on a regular basis, so fish oil capsules each day take the worry out of making sure you're getting your Omega-3s.
And here's another disappointment: many, many fish are MIS-LABELED! That's right. So if you think you're eating fish that's high in Omega-3 fats, you might not be. A recent study revealed that restaurants, grocery stores and fish markets sold fish that was labeled one type, such as blue fin tuna, when actually, after DNA testing, it was revealed that the fish was in fact, a different type of fish, such as tilefish (which is banned in the United States because of its high mercury content!)
What should we do about this? The way to avoid eating the wrong fish when you think your purchased the right fish is two-fold.
Number one: know what the skin of the fish you want to eat is supposed to look like. You can search "google images" for that information. Therefore, whether you're in a restaurant or at the store, look at the skin of the fish to make sure it's the fish they say it is. This requires a bit of courage if you're at a restaurant, because you'll have to ask your server to see the skin of the fish, which may require him/her to go back to the kitchen and hunt down the skin, which might be a lot of trouble. That means you risk secret retaliation from an unhappy server....ever heard of a "sneezer?"
The other way to make sure the fish you're eating is what they say it is, is by only ordering salmon or ocean trout. These two fish have such unique appearances, no other fish can masquerade as salmon or ocean trout. The survey of mis-labeled fish encompassed major cities across the U.S., but the most disturbing findings were in San Francisco and New York City, where a whopping 60-percent of the sushi that was labeled "tuna" was actually a different type of fish.
When shopping for fish oil supplements, look at the label. Get fish oil pills that have the amount of EPA and DHA listed separately. This will most likely be listed per pill. Make sure you get at least 1,000 milligrams of DHA each day. That means you'll have to do some basic math. For example, I take fish oil capsules that each contain 260 milligrams of DHA. That means in order to get by daily 1,000 milligrams of DHA, I need to take 4 capsules each day.
My daughter Ashley, who is exceptionally beautiful, brilliant and funny is now living on her own in The Big Apple. In a move of maturity beyond her 23 years, she recently bought a bundle of vitamin pills and has been taking them faithfully ever since. But I had to laugh when I actually saw these pills with my own eyes on a recent trip to visit her. They're GUMMY VITAMINS! In other words, candy disguised as vitamins. They all contained a bunch of sugar and very little actual vitamins. For example her fish oil vitamins each contained just 75 milligrams of DHA. So that means for her to get enough DHA she would have to eat more than 10 each day!
Naturally, she said the reason she likes the gummy vitamins is because the standard type of fish oil capsules are unpleasant to take. She is correct. But I reminded her, and remind myself each morning, that it is LESS TROUBLE taking the big pills than the trouble we face if we do not take them....the lesser-of-two-evils, so to speak. And I pointed out that we need to toughen-up a bit! After all, there are women her age fighting terrorists in Afghanistan as we speak, so with that in mind, surely we can muster the strength to take big vitamin pills.
Some people , because they are vegan or vegetarian, refuse to consume fish or fish oil capsules. These people prefer to get their Omega-3s from plant sources, such as flax, walnuts or green vegetables. Unfortunately, the truth is, those people may not be getting the Omega-3s that they think they are, because those are foods that, at best, are CONVERTED to EPA and DHA, and a great many people do not have bodies that efficiently perform this conversion. I would strongly suggest that vegans and vegetarians re-think their objection to consuming fish oil capsules. After all, Jesus advocated eating fish!
So for better health, guaranteed....take your fish oil. But make sure you're getting the real deal, make sure you're getting enough, and make sure to do it each day! Among other benefits too numerous to list, perhaps topping the list is the fact that fish oil reduces inflammation, which according to the latest research is responsible for heart disease, cancer, stroke, arthritis, diabetes, even depression and wrinkles. And coming in a close second, DHA feeds your brain, which is mostly fat, after all. So if someone calls you a "fat head," take it as a compliment! That means you're smart!
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
It was very painful for me to witness the destruction of a young and beautiful friend. Her body and mind were being attacked by a cruel predator that was finally diagnosed as Lyme Disease.
She was a vivacious hair stylist by trade. The symptoms began when she began experiencing numbness in her feet, a huge problem for a person who stands all day. The numbness became so bad that she had to stop working. Since she couldn't work, she could not longer afford housing, and moved back home with her parents.
Then it got worse. She began experiencing memory loss and other cognitive dysfunction, most often referred to as "brain fog." She spent months seeing different doctors and receiving several different diagnoses ranging from depression to lead poisoning.
Finally a physician specializing in infectious disease diagnosed her correctly: Lyme Disease. Sadly, however, her Lyme Disease had progressed so far that she would be permanently handicapped as a result.
Her story is a warning for all of us to look for signs of Lyme Disease. If we find it early enough it is very easy to treat. My friend, on the other hand, was unaware of the signs.
A person gets Lyme Disease when they are bitten by a tick that has it. Ticks live in temperatures over 45 degrees. So if you are outside on a day that is that warm or warmer, check yourself, your family and your pets for ticks every day.
Ticks like "creases" so pay particular attention to the groin area, armpits, under the breasts, and other places that ticks might like to hide. Also make sure to check the scalp.
If you see a tick, don't panic. It takes 36 to 48 hours for a human to become infected. Make sure you get that tick out, though. The way to do that is to get a pair of tweezers, not the kind with ridges at the tip, the kind that are flat at the tip, and grab the tick's head, which will be partially submerged in your skin.
Remember, when a tick bites you, it keeps its head in your skin and just keeps sucking your blood (disgusting!). Pretty soon its body will get all swollen with your blood, so make sure you DO NOT GRAB ITS BODY, but rather its head, right up next to your skin. Gently pull it out. Don't try to suffocate it with lotion, or burn it with a match in order to get it to pull its head out on its own.
Once you get the tick out, watch the area. Go to the doctor if you see a rash. Usually it's a "bulls-eye" rash, but not always. That rash might occur anywhere from three to 30 days after you've been bitten. Also watch out for other symptoms such as headaches and aches in other parts of the body, such as joints and lymph glands.
If you do have Lyme Disease, it can be easily treated in its early stages with antibiotics. The key is catching it early.
Ways to prevent getting Lyme Disease are pretty common sense, such as:
• Dressing appropriately: Wear enclosed shoes and clothes with a tight weave. Also wear light-colored clothing so you can see ticks on your clothes more easily.
• Scan your clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks when you're outside. • If you're in a wooded area, try to stay on cleared, well-traveled trails.
• Use insect repellant containing DEET on skin or clothes if you intend to go off-trail or into overgrown area.
• Avoid sitting directly on the ground or on stone walls (havens for ticks and their hosts).
• Keep long hair tied back, especially when gardening.
• When you first go inside, dry your clothes on high for 20 minutes to kill any unseen ticks.
• Take a shower and shampoo your hair, but understand, that will remove any crawling ticks, but will not removed attached ticks.
Enjoy the great outdoors, but remember to be on guard for ticks and Lyme Disease. Early detection means no anxiety. It's only when we ignore the signs and symptoms that we have problems.
Monday, March 11, 2013
By now, most of us have seen grass-fed beef in the grocery store meat department, or have at least heard of it in passing. It is glaringly more expensive than the traditional, grain-fed beef, so we wonder if eating grass-fed beef is worth the extra expense.
I would say yes, it is worth the cost. Most of us don't have any extra money to spare. In fact, most of us have less to spend than we did before, thanks to higher gas prices and the overall sluggish economy. And even those rare folks who do have extra cash to spare, nobody likes to waste it on things we don't need.
Nevertheless, I believe grass-fed beef is one of those items that is essential, if you are a meat eater at all. Those of us on a budget need to simply cut costs elsewhere in order to afford grass-fed.
Where can one cut costs? Lots of places. Let's not talk about overall budgets, that would take all day. Instead, let's just focus on the grocery budget.
The best way to cut costs is to stop purchasing beverages. Tap water is all we need to drink. Juices are loaded with sugar. Any vitamins you get from juice are better consumed in fresh, raw fruits or, better yet, vegetables. For example, spinach is a much better source of vitamin C than orange juice because spinach has more fiber and is lower in sugar.
When it comes to other beverages, they are no-brainers. Soda? Don't even get me started. You know that stuff is just empty calories. Even diet soda is bad because those artificial sweeteners don't do anything good for you. In fact, there is reason to believe they make you gain weight because they create a craving for sweets. When it comes to beverages, you don't even need bottled water, just fill up a reusable container with tap water. You don't even need to purchase coffee or tea if you work in an office. Most places offer it for free, so just wait until you get to work.
Aside from beverages, you can find extra grocery money for grass-fed beef by eliminating purchases of sweets and convenience foods. Also, you can eliminate restaurant and fast-food purchases.
So now that you've found the money for grass-fed beef, here's why you should buy it.
The main reason is because grass-fed beef contains Omega-3 fats. As you probably know by now, Omega-3 fats are desirable ones, and sadly, the ones that are most deficient in our diets. Omega-3 fats are non-existent in grain-fed beef. It is critical that we reduce our consumption of Omega-6 fats and increase our consumption of Omega-3s.
Why? Because even though both of these fats are essential for good health, the trick is to consume them in equal amounts. Tragically, most Americans consume 20 times more Omega-6 fats than Omega-3 fats, and this imbalance leads to deadly inflammation. So wherever possible, reduce your Omega-6 consumption, and increase your Omega-3 consumption....such as by taking a fish oil supplement...and eating grass-fed beef!
In addition to Omega-3s, grass-fed beef is also higher in B-vitamins, beta carotene, vitamin E, vitamin K and magnesium, calcium and selenium.
So that's what grass-fed does have. A big reason to eat grass-fed is for what is does not have, as well. Cows that eat only grass are not pumped with antibiotics or growth hormones, which I believe are harmful to our health.
Apart from a health standpoint, grass-fed beef is also better for the environment and the animals are treated more humanely.
So even though it's more expensive, grass-fed beef is worth the cost! You can fund this added expense by eliminating your purchases of items you don't need...such as beverages, sweets, and convenience foods.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
The New England Journal Of Medicine just published a very reliable study that a diet high in fat, good fats, is better for your heart than a low-fat diet. The study looked at nearly 8,000 people for five years. The people who followed the Mediterranean Diet had a whopping 30 percent fewer heart problems than the people who followed the low fat diet.
Many people are not at all surprised by these findings. The medical community is increasingly embracing the idea that heart disease is caused by inflammation, and that inflammation is largely brought-on by eating too many carbohydrates, a hallmark of the low-fat diet. When Americans began embracing the low fat diet 20 years ago, we started eating carbohydrates in the place of fats.
Low fat food manufacturers often make up for the lack of fat by increasing the amount of sugar in their products. And people, instead of eating fats, opted for low fat food items like white bread, pasta, bagels, crackers, cereals, tortillas and so on, which all turn into sugar when you eat them. In fact, eating white, refined grains is, to your body, just like eating pure table sugar. All this causes inflammation, which leads to heart disease.
On the other hand, the Mediterranean Diet is rich in fats, but they are the good kind of fats. The bad fats are trans fats, also known as hydrogenated oils. The other kind of bad fats are Omega-6 fats. Those are vegetable oil, soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil and the like.
The American diet is loaded with trans fats and Omega-6 fats because those two types of fats are in processed foods. But the Mediterranean Diet is very heavy in the wonderful, healthy Omega-3 fats. In fact, the cornerstone of the Mediterranean Diet is olive oil. Other good fats play a prominent role in the Mediterranean diet such as nuts, avacados and fish. The Mediterranean diet is rich with vegetables and salads.
The benefits of the Mediterranean Diet are not just observed in this most recent study. In fact, the people who live in Mediterranean countries are living proof that their diet is superior to most others. People in that region who follow that diet and who exercise and do not smoke have markedly lower cardiovascular disease than people in America.
Our country is the best in the world, to be sure....but our diet is arguable the worst! We could learn a thing or two from the Mediterraneans when it comes to eating. Topping the list: eating olive oil every single day, and a lot of it, say, four tablespoons. One thing to keep in mind about olive oil is that you don't want to heat it. Heating it causes oxidation, which is bad for you.
So an easy way to incorporate olive oil into your diet without heating it is to do what the Mediterraneans do, put it on a salad! Since bottled salad dressings usually contain harmful Omega-6 fats, whipping up your own olive oil dressing at home is clearly a much better choice.
Just whisk together 3 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar and add salt and pepper. If you'd like, you can add other spices, like garlic or herbs, a dab of dijon mustard is good, too. Another way to incorporate olive oil into your daily life without heating it is to add it to roasted vegetables after they are finished cooking, or drizzles over fish after it has finished cooking.
So when it comes to heart health, and really overall health, stay away from carbohydrates like refined grains and sugar, which cause inflammation and opt for healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, fish and avacados instead.
Monday, February 18, 2013
It's very encouraging to learn that people are accepting the message that cholesterol is good and that the real health enemy is inflammation. This is particularly significant because this new, true message is contrary to the idea that has been driven into the public consciousness for decades.
Ever since my story about this aired recently on "The 700 Club," I have received numerous responses from grateful viewers who say it's about time this message was reported in the media. People understand the importance of correcting this terrible mistake about what is really making America sick and fat.
It's not cholesterol, it's inflammation. So we should go back to eating NATURAL fats that raise our cholesterol, but avoid at all costs, foods that cause inflammation. It's vital to understand which foods are good and which ones are harmful. It's different from what we've been told.
It's perhaps most disturbing to note that many, perhaps even most, doctors still subscribe to the outdated notion that high cholesterol is bad and is something that needs to be fixed with a diet that is high in carbohydrates, particularly sugars, trans fats, and Omega 6 fats. That is exactly the wrong prescription.
Why do they do it? The doctors who are on board with the cholesterol good/inflammation bad theory say the reason more physicians aren't on the same page is because there is a "group think" mentality within the medical profession, and also because it's what they were taught back when they were in medical school and they simply haven't caught-up with the latest findings.
The truth is cholesterol helps us live better. It's essential to our brains, which are made up primarily of fat. It's essential to hormone production, which keeps us young and virile. Cholesterol aids in preventing disease. In short, our bodies need cholesterol, and people with HIGH cholesterol actually live longer, statistically.
Ever since doctors mistakenly blamed cholesterol for heart disease, people stopped eating fats, particularly saturated fats, and replaced them with carbohydrates, like sugar, which only made heart disease worse. It also increased obesity, which led to a whole host of other health concerns, not the least of which is diabetes, which has skyrocketed.
Inflammation is a silent killer. You can't see it and you can't feel it, but it's there if you eat a diet of processed foods, trans fats, Omega-6 fats and sugars.
Trans fats are oils that have been hydrogenated. That means scientists took an oil and infused it with hydrogen. The end result is a disgusting "food" that is molecularly similar to plastic. It is so utterly foreign to our bodies that is destroys the cell membranes. When the cell membranes are corrupted bad stuff gets into the cells that shouldn't and good stuff that should stay in the cells gets out.
What's perhaps most disturbing about the effect of trans fats on cell membranes is the effect trans fats have on BRAIN CELLS. Research has already proven that people with diets high in trans fats have higher rates of Alzheimer's disease, but now scientists are looking into the link between trans fats and Autism, ADD and ADHD. It's no coincidence that the rates of these diseases have exploded in the same time period that our consumption of trans fats has also exploded, the last 30 years or so.
In order to recognize a trans fat, you must read the list of ingredients. Do not rely on the packaging, because food manufacturers have figured out ways to make their product appear as if they have no trans fats when they actually do. In order to recognize a trans fat, look for the word HYDROGENATED in the list of ingredients. A hydrogenated oil is a trans fat. Vegetable shortening and margarine are trans fats.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Trans fats are in most processed foods, like the kind in packages in the center of the grocery store, in the bakery, the vending machine and the fast-food restaurant.
In addition to trans fats, Omega 6 fats are also responsible for inflammation. Omega-6 fats should only be consumed in equal amounts as Omega-3 fats. If there is an imbalance, that leads to inflammation. Sadly, most Americans eat about 20 times the amount of Omega-6 fats as Omega-3s. Omega-6 fats actually "cancel out" your consumption of Omega-3s.
Omega-6 fats are vegetable oils. So don't buy vegetable oil and cook with it, as most people do, don't consume corn oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil or just about any liquid oil except olive oil or macadamia nut oil.
Perhaps the most notorious cause of inflammation is sugar. By sugar I am talking about all sugars such as pure, white table sugar, but also so much more. Even honey and natural sugars in fruit lead to inflammation. High fructose corn syrup is a sugar, obviously, as are a whole host of sugars that are added to our foods.
Also, beware of foods that turn into sugar once we eat them...refined carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates are starchy foods that are white: white bread, bagels, english muffins, rice, pasta, rolls, biscuits, etc. Eating these foods is just like eating plain sugar as far as your body is concerned. They cause massive inflammation. Don't eat them at all.
But be advised that all grains, even whole grains, are carbohydrates and are considered sugars, metabolically speaking. Be especially cautious of whole wheat, because wheat growers have changed the product from what it used to be in order to produce a higher yield. Wheat is now starchier than it was, even whole wheat....so curtail your consumption of all grains and other carbohydrates in order to reduce your level of inflammation.
Instead, eat healthy, natural fats and wonderful non-starchy vegetables. Don't touch a soda with a 10-foot pole, or any other drink, like juices or flavored waters. Just drink plain old tap water, and lots of it.
Congratulations to the brave consumers who are bucking tradition and are riding the new wave of health, the one that proclaims most cholesterol as good for you and the identifies the real enemy as inflammation.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Despite all the hype and commercialism, it's actually good for you to get involved with Valentine's Day. Even if you aren't married, or even part of a romantic relationship, giving love and showing love to someone such as a parent, a child, or a friend, dramatically improves your health.
The more people you love, the better. Just make sure, however, that you are giving love, not just on the receiving end.
Research shows married people live an average of five years longer than those who aren't. They also have lower rates of heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and other chronic ailments than their single counterparts.
The key here isn't the wedding band, however, it's being socially engaged. Therefore, if you are not married or in a romantic relationship you can still get the health benefits of being so just by connecting with other people.
So try very hard to avoid being isolated and lonely. In other words, get involved in the lives of other people. This is best accomplished by giving instead of focusing on getting, which, by the way, is what the Bible teaches. Once again, God's commandments produce not only spiritual health, but also physical health.
Being in love produces a freer flow of blood to the brain, so the brain can regulate the rest of our body far more effectively. Being in love causes your blood vessels to relax so blood flows exactly where it's needed in your body and brings the right chemicals, the right nutrients to the proper destinations. In short, being in love is the opposite of stress, and we all know that stress is one of the greatest enemies of good health.
Reduced stress means a stronger immune system, so people in love are less likely to get a cold or the flu. But if they do, they recover faster. People with loving relationships are more likely to survive a life-threatening illness and are more likely to exercise, floss, drink less alcohol, and get regular health screenings. They have lower blood pressure.
But don't worry if you're not in a relationship. Remember, there are lots of different kinds of committed love. The most important love, even more than marriage, is your love of God. Jesus even pointed that out when asked what was the greatest commandment. He said the greatest commandment is to love God. Then he said the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor.
So out of the mouth of our Savior we are comforted to know that we can have, and never lose, the greatest most important love of all, love of God. Foster that relationship, time spent in God's word, time spent in prayer, and time spent with other believers, and you'll see the health benefits abound.
If you are feeling un-loved, the greatest cure for that is to get connected. Volunteer at church or in your community. Do things for other people. Simply look for people who have it worse off than you do, people who need someting, such as tutoring, coaching, help of some sort.
Loving relationships can even be found with animals. Studies show that owning a dog or cat reduces a person's stress level and people with pets are less likely to suffer a heart attack.
The bottom line is this: humans are not meant to live isolated lives. If you make the effort to build loving relationships, emphasizing giving, not getting, you'll be happier and healthier.
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
The tide is turning. Doctors are increasingly embracing the idea that inflammation, not cholesterol is the cause of heart disease. Not only that, but inflammation, and its two main contributors, trans fats and sugars, are linked to of a whole host of health problems, not the least of which are cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
About 30 years ago, we were all told that cholesterol caused heart disease and made us all overweight, and that we needed to stop eating fat. America responded by demonizing bacon and eggs, butter, steak, anything containing dietary fat. In their place, we ate fat free salad dressings, fat-free cookies, low fat breads, pastas, and other carbohydrates.
As a result our nation's obesity epidemic skyrocketed and so did our incidence of heart disease and other ailments.
What went wrong?
It appears that the fatty foods we gave up were actually good for us, and the foods with which we replaced them were bad.
At first, researchers said all cholesterol was bad. Then they realized there are different kinds of cholesterol, and that the HDL cholesterol is actually good for us. LDL is raised by eating Omega-3 fats like olive oil and fish, so doctors encouraged us to eat those types of fats, but told us LDL cholesterol is still bad.
Now, however, it appears there are different types of LDL cholesterol, based on the size and density of the particles, and that the large, fluffy LDL particles are actually good for us. That type of good LDL cholesterol is raised by eating natural saturated fats like coconut oil, butter, meat and cheese.
There is one type of LDL cholesterol that is bad, very bad, and those are the small, dense particles. That type of cholesterol is raised by eating trans fats and sugar. In short, there is just a very small type of cholesterol that is bad for us, the kind that comes from inflammation. Other than that, cholesterol is very beneficial to our bodies.
So the newest thinking is, go ahead and eat natural fats and don't worry about your cholesterol. High cholesterol, even high LDL cholesterol, is largely a sign of good health. But please don't forget about the other side of this coin.
By all means, stop eating the foods that cause inflammation. Inflammation is nicknamed "The Silent Killer" because we can't see it or feel it while it destroys our bodies from head to toe.
Trans fats cause inflammation because these fats were created in a lab by infusing hydrogen into a regular fat, creating something that is very similar, on a molecular level, to plastic. Therefore, trans fats are completely foreign to our bodies, and they don't know how to process it.
What ends up happening is the trans fat accumulates on the cell membrane and begins to distort it and weaken it. This means things that shouldn't be getting into our cells are getting in, things like viruses and toxins, and things that should be kept in the cells are getting out, like nutrients.
Trans fats have been linked to Alzheimer's disease. A University of Oregon study showed seniors who at a lot of trans fats had a higher incidence of Alzheimer's disease. Brain cells can't communicate effectively if their membranes are corrupted with trans fats. Now scientists suspect trans fats may be linked to ADD, ADHD and Autism.
We have witnessed an explosion in the incidence of these conditions in the last 30 years, at the same time we witnessed an explosion of the consumption of trans fats.
Sadly, most processed foods contain trans fats. Don't judge whether a food item contains a trans fat based on the label. Food manufacturers have figured out a way to trick consumers into thinking a food is trans-fat-free when it really isn't. The way to know for sure, is by looking at the list of ingredients. If you see the word "hydrogenated" it contains trans fat. Vegetable shortening and margarine are trans fats as are most packaged baked goods like cookies and crackers.
Another highly inflammatory fat is Omega 6 fat. Actually Omega-6 fats are necessary for good health, but only in equal amounts as Omega-3 fats. Here in America, however, most of us consume 15 times the amount of Omega 6 fats compared to Omega-3 fats and that imbalance is highly inflammatory. So cut way back on Omega-6s such as vegetable oil. Substitute olive oil or coconut oil whenever a recipe calls for vegetable oil.
Another massive inflammatory agent is sugar. By sugar that means table sugar of course, but also all the different types of sugars, like high fructose corn syrup. Most Americans consumer 150 pounds of sugar a year, and it's estimated that more half of that comes in the form of high fructose corn syrup. Little more than 300 years ago, in 1700, people only at 7 1/2 pounds of sugar a year. Our bodies are simply not equipped to handle that massive overload of sugar, and the end result is extreme inflammation which kills.
Like trans fats, high fructose corn syrup is manufactured in a lab and is added to just about every processed food, not just the sweet ones, but things like pasta sauce and bread, too.
In addition to sugars, carbohydrates are also inflammatory, especially the refined carbohydrates, the ones that have been processed, and have had the fiber removed, leaving behind only the starch. This extra-starchy carbohydrate evokes the same dramatic insulin response as straight sugar.
In other words, to your body, eating refined carbohydrates are just like eating plain sugar. Refined carbohydrates are white grains, such as white bread, bagels, rice, pasta, English muffins, hot dog buns, hamburger buns, tortillas, rice, cereal, crackers, etc.
It may take a while for America to get the message that what we've heard for the last 30 years - that all fats are the enemy and carbs and sugars are okay - is backwards. The truth is, some fats are excellent for our health, like Omega 3, such as fish oil and olive oil, and like natural saturated fats like coconut oil and butter.
Other fats are extremely inflammatory, however, and must be avoided. Those are Omega-6 fats such as vegetable oil and trans fats such as margarine. We also need to avoid sugar and carbohydrates because these foods, eating in excess (which is what most Americans do), are highly inflammatory.