Monthly Archives: December 2012

Should You Eat Breakfast?

The natural health companies I come from may be the biggest offenders when it comes to weight loss myths. When writing professionally, we want you to believe that our diet pills will melt the fat away. Of course, if you talk to our customer service agents, we will specify that these work best with diet and exercise. We want to make sales over and over again. When it comes to weight loss myths though, they aren’t limited to the natural realm. Plenty of medical professionals can fall into the same traps.

To be fair, most of us don’t go to a doctor or other professional who will tell you what to eat, how to exercise, etc. We buy special pills, videos we can use in our rooms, and we follow trendy diets that the celebs are all following. On the internet at least, you don’t have to be licensed to give out this type of advice. Disclaimer: I am NOT a trained nutritionist, personal trainer, or doctor. I am simply a blogger who has done way too much research for my own good on this basic but wide subject base.

If you go see your doctor, he may still argue with me, and considering my source is the author of the 8 hour diet, this is a tenative stab in the dark (in terms of its factual usefulness. We’ve all been conditioned to think for years that you have to have breakfast. If you eat more protein at breakfast, you stay fuller throughout the day, you get your body and metabolism moving, and you just get your day off right. Personally, I don’t skip breakfast, because when I have to fast in the morning, I end up sick all day. That’s just me.

According to the author of the 8 Hour Diet though, skipping breakfast may be your key to success. It falls somewhat in line with the idea that fasting for a day once a month or so is healthy, and he claims that it will reduce excess weight, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and premature death to name a few.

Using a process called “hormesis”, diet “experts” are now telling us that skipping breakfast challenges your body like you would with a 16 hour fast. You then burn more fat, sharpen your mind, tune up the heart, and turn on HGH jets. Can I see the logic behind some of this? Sure.

If you take a break from time to time from junk food and fatty foods by fasting, you’re going to give your body a bit of a break and get it back on track, even if it’s just a little. Think about cleanses though. Cleanses involve not eating, often drinking instead, and people lose a ton of weight. The problem is that when they try to go back to eating solid food or even “normal food”, guess what, that weight doesn’t stay off.

There are quite a few studies that have already come out confirming that breakfast is healthy for us. These studies have confirmed that breakfast can help you to eat less throughout the day if it’s the right breakfast, get you going, etc. However, there are some newer studies that may have their place. I am skeptical.

Take for example a study published in the Nutrition Journal in 2011. Researchers followed the eating habits of 100 healthy and 280 obese patients for 2 weeks. In both groups, the more calories they ate at breakfast, the more calories they ate. On the other hand, when they ate smaller or no breakfast, their total calorie intake was less.

This is where my skepticism comes in. They didn’t take into account the types of breakfast they were eating. For example, if someone were to eat more protein at breakfast, studies have proven in the past that you eat less throughout the day. Second, if you eat 300-500 calories at breakfast and then you suddenly start skipping, you’re going to automatically cut out 300-500 calories. The question is (and they didn’t track) how many calories are these same people burning throughout the day? Likewise, based on the workups of this study that I’ve seen, they didn’t actually weigh these people or put controls on the groups (i.e. asking some to eat breakfast and others to not eat breakfast). If you starve yourself, you’ll obviously cut your calories, but the actual results and the actual weight loss numbers don’t exactly make it an amazing thing we should all do.

There are other studies, such as one published in the Journal of Physiology in 2010. When fed a high fat diet, a group of active men were told to either not exercise, exercise after breakfast, or exercise before breakfast. The no exercise group gained 6 pounds, developed insulin resistance, and stored more fat. The group who ate first and exercised after gained 6 pounds and showed signs of more insulin resistance and fat storage. Finally, the group who exercised before breakfast didn’t show any signs of insulin resistance.

Obviously, this wouldn’t hold up forever. You should stick to a healthy diet and exercise plan, period. In this case though, it doesn’t necessarily disprove the benefits of breakfast or prove it to be threatening. What it does is support what thousands of personal trainers have been telling their clients for years, exercise first and eat after. Your body continues to burn calories after you stop exercising, and eating a meal immediately after is perfectly fine, even healthy.

So who should skip breakfast? If you want to try it out and see how you feel, great. You may be hungry in the morning at first, but if you start feeling better, then stick with it. If you are hypoglycemic, diabetic, or have certain other medical conditions, I’m sorry to say that this really isn’t an option for you. Be assured, there are plenty of companies making more money off you regardless. Even if you don’t eat “breakfast”, “breakfast foods” are served and ordered throughout the day and even throughout the middle of the night. If you choose to follow the advice of one book author, you won’t really be hurting their bottom line.

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Could Red Meat Shorten Your Lifespan?

red meatsTalk to anyone on the caveman diet, and you’ll hear that more red meat, more meat in general is key. You’ll hear that it’s the ultimate way to lose weight and increase muscle mass, being and living healthier.

The actual science though shows otherwise. Extreme low carb diets are always going to lack certain key foods such as healthy fruits and vegetables in the amounts you need. Even on the caveman or other low carb diets, you can focus on lean meats and other fish based proteins as well as nuts, and you should. Ideally, you should focus on more fruits and vegetables.

Study after study is showing though that red meat may actually shorten your lifespan. In particular, a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that red meat increases your heart risk while also increasing the risk of cancer or other diseases that can lead to an early death for obvious reasons.

Think about it. Red meat is high in saturated fats and calories in general. It is high in cholesterol and naturally increases bad cholesterol levels. Based on 2 long term studies on health, professionals at Harvard were able to track 121,000 middle aged men and women for as many as 28 years. 20% of the participants passed during that 28 year period.

For most, each serving of red meat per day increased the risk of dying by an average of 13%. Processed red meats like hog dogs, bacon, and salami increased the risk of dying by a greater 20%.

On the other hand, substituting in salmon, chicken and other lean meats, legumes, and whole grains or even low fat dairy significantly decreased the risk of dying by 7% to 19%. When participants ate less than 1/2 a serving per day, researchers say that it could cut the risk of dying by as much as 9% for men and 8% for women.

Cutting calories does not necessarily mean that you have to cut taste or even portion size. You don’t have to be a vegetarian, though being a vegetarian can further extend the average lifespan. The message of lead researcher An Pan PhD, a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston is that you should try to reduce the red meat consumption to less than two to three servings per week.

Fasting For Weight Loss

The basis of many popular celebrity diet fads, starving yourself is possibly the fastest way to lose weight and potentially kill yourself. Of course, there are fasting diets such as the master cleanse that do give you calories in liquid form in a way that is meant to flush out more toxins for long term weight loss. There are even some who swear it works for long term weight loss. Not all of us are made for these kinds of diets though. Think about drinking nothing but lemon water with maple syrup and cayenne pepper. I’ve done it before, it was not pleasant.

I’ve heard of others doing it for up to a month, implementing steamed vegetables after the first week or so. Still others go on cleansing diets that require you to eat nothing but broth, green juice, and coconut water or nothing but seaweed soup. To me at least, the seaweed soup sounds like the best option so far.

I’ll be honest. While disgusting, a good quality cleanse can be life changing. Many lose a pound or more a day, and it’s worth the suffering. After a few days, you may actually feel better. Realistically though, even the best cleanse is a poor solution for long term weight loss.

Like many other fad diets, cleanses are unsustainable, and they do not implement actual lifestyle changes (which are needed for long term weight loss). Generally speaking, you will gain any weight you lose back, and you will most likely lose a lot of water weight. As you may have noticed, water weight is easy to lose if for example you’re using diuretics. The problem is it’s so easy to gain. Women in particular can attest to this.

The best weight loss solution is often the most moderate. Make small changes. Think about things that you can do on a daily basis such as eating more fruit or cutting out a bag of fries here and there. Think about things that you will actually do for long periods of time, if not for life. Even though the weight loss is slower, consistency is key, and you will be much more likely to keep it off without doing damage to organs such as the heart.

If you would like to fast, there’s nothing wrong with doing it every once in a while. Once a month, if you want to fast for a day and only drink water, it could be good for your liver to take a break and focus on toxins instead of being overwhelmed. I just wouldn’t recommend using it for weight loss, and I wouldn’t recommend using any cleanse too often.

Again, if you want to lose weight, there are a few basic tips. Eat small and frequently. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Stay active. Drink some fruit or vegetable juices that are fresh instead of those that have extra sugar. Pick exercises you actually like. If you don’t like walking or running on the treadmill, play a little soccer instead. It is ultimately these changes and not a short or long cleanse that will make the difference in every area of your life.

Jindal Supports Over the Counter Birth Control

jindalIt would negate the whole Catholic argument against government healthcare. If birth control were over the counter (which many Democrats have requested for years), the Catholic Church wouldn’t be able to whine about it or claim that particular “war” on religion. Prices may go down, which is good for everybody, and if for nothing else, you wouldn’t have to pay for unnecessary doctors’ visits.

Jindal has been one of the Republicans calling for a greater middle ground. He has realized, like many other Republicans, that the old stance just isn’t working. Women, minorities, and moderates are turning away from the harsh and excluding stance of the Republican party, and this is his first step to moderation.

Truth be told, we could use more Congressmen who are willing to take the same route. With Boehner at the helm though, it’s not looking good. While everybody who has paid attention knows Jindal has been at the head of many anti-birth control, anti-abortion movements, he states,

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists announced its support last month for selling oral contraceptives over the counter without a prescription in the United States. I agree with this opinion, which if embraced by the federal government would take contraception out of the political arena. Democrats have wrongly accused Republicans of being against birth control and against allowing people to use it. That’s hogwash. But Republicans do want to protect those who have religious beliefs that are opposed to contraception.

Even if he has had to change his stance quite radically, better late than never. Let’s just hope this new “enlightenment” lasts. Either way, it does logically remove a lot of the drama surrounding Obamacare.

Do you believe Jindal’s “change of heart”? It isn’t necessarily helping his electability in Louisiana. If he is planning to be the first Indian president, more of these approaches may be necessary. What I do know is that removing government control does show his conservative side, whether other Republicans and conservatives know it or not.

Amazing Benefits of Probiotics

probioticsChances are probiotics are not going to cure cancer or for that matter Crohn’s disease or other serious digestive disorders. There are only a limited number of things probiotics can do, and the studies that show that kids who drink more breast milk are thinner as adults are questionable at best. Guess which kids breastfeed until age 3, 4, or even 5 or 6 years old? Kids in 3rd world countries, that’s who. When food is scarce and the country in general is suffering, people aren’t healthier, but they sure do have a tendency to be skinnier.

It’s not a bad thing to get a little Greek yogurt and try to improve your lifestyle. There are benefits that come with it. You just have to know what it is you’re actually getting and where to get the best probiotics.

Where Do You Find Probiotics?

Probiotics are found in yogurts such as Greek yogurts. However, it can also be found in breast milk (leading some to pay hundreds of dollars for breast milk as adults) and a Korean food called kimchee, which is basically spicy fermented vegetables. German sauerkraut can provide some probiotics, and some high end dark chocolates may provide you with some probiotics.

Benefits of More Probiotics

For some, probiotics conjures up the idea of some witch doctor or health extremist, and without a doubt, there are some groups that go way too far. That does not mean it’s a total crock though. There are a few key benefits.

  1. Digestive benefits – Probiotics once again won’t heal diseases like Crohn’s or Celiac’s disease. Celiac’s disease is best treated with a change in diet, and Crohn’s is a complicated disorder that requires a doctor’s supervision. If you have for example mild constipation, regular but mild indigestion, etc, a few doses of probiotics here and there can be quite useful in improving your regularity.

    If you experience discomfort, but not to the point of actually interfering in your life, it might be a cheaper alternative to many prescriptions. If you would like a better idea of what might work for you though, the best thing to do is talk to your doctor. If he/she tells you that you have IBS or Crohn’s, chances are you can take probiotics, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you’re using.

  2. Balancing out antibiotics – When you take antibiotics, they kill not only the bad bacteria, but also the good bacteria in your stomach. This can create a serious imbalance, and if you take antibiotics that you don’t need, you may require more medical intervention than you may have anticipated. When you eat foods with probiotics, you can replace those good bacteria, restoring a better balance to your digestive flora
  3. Urinary Health/UTI’s – Again, you should see your doctor. Probiotics may not be enough to address some urinary infections or other urinary issues. According to the research, probiotics may prevent bad bacteria from invading the urinary tract, once again restoring that balance between good and bad bacteria or giving good bacteria a hand up. Especially for women, UTI’s can be extremely common, and there is some concern about infections spreading into essential internal organs.

    Once again, if you’re taking antibiotics, this can help you to maintain the balance.

  4. Allergies – Allergy research is still early, and researchers are still trying to figure out the best ways to address them. There are many different ideas about what works. If you have severe allergies, I wouldn’t trade your antihistamines or other drugs out for probiotics. When used as a complementary treatment though, one large study found that women taking probiotics during pregnancy saw a 30% reduction in childhood eczema (an early symptom of allergies in infants).
  5. Immune health – Sitting in the digestive system, some researchers find that a healthy range of good bacteria can improve total immune health. According to researchers, healthy bacteria can stimulate an immune response, helping you to avoid things such as the flu or the common cold. Once you have a common cold for example, probiotics are NOT a treatment. It’s more like taking vitamin C.

Marijuana Not a Priority for Obama

obama-potI could’ve told him this years ago. Who cares about medical marijuana users and growers who are doing it legally in states that allow limited amounts? Who cares about those who are providing for the cancer patients who are using pot to take the edge off? I don’t. Obama technically never said he was going to go easy on pot users, but now he is saying, We’ve got bigger fish to fry. If they’re not breaking the laws, exporting it to other states, etc, duh.

Maybe he’s trying to make nice with state rights. That would make some sense, and hopefully he’s serious when he says, It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal. Yes President Obama, I’m pretty sure there are plenty of dealers and addicts using other, more dangerous drugs that are not legal anywhere. I’m pretty sure there are plenty of violent dealers and addicts, etc. elsewhere.

He isn’t changing too many things. According to federal law, marijuana is still classified under the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I narcotic. It is not technically a narcotic, but it’s still grouped with heroin, LSD, and Ecstasy, which may sound familiar as they have been known to be highly addictive and lead to death.

President Obama does not support widespread legalization, but he’s not going to ask the Supreme Court to overrule state law in the given states.He has however asked Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department to look over the legal questions with state and federal drug laws.

Obama has focused on the impact on our young people, and honestly, a lot of people would question his harsh stance considering he once smoked pot, and he seems to be just fine. This is a history he has done his best to downplay as a youthful indiscretion.

If you’re a recreational user or a grower in states where it is legal, you should know that the government has not stopped prosecuting people like you. The Justice Department is still conducting raids on marijuana growers and providers. There is no “carte blanche” policy. At this point, the best thing to do is follow all state laws and hope for the best if you’re going to be in the business.

Realistically, were marijuana to be legalized nationwide, it would mean lower and controlled pricing. It would mean purer forms guaranteed as opposed to the questionable street forms we often see, and many would require a prescription to get it. Experts say it would eliminate cartels and reduce violence associated with that particular drug, which would by proxy improve neighborhoods and communities.

I agree that we need to go after cartels and others who are violent who are ruining our neighborhoods, especially lower income neighborhoods. We need to protect our communities, but wouldn’t legalizing marijuana do the job more effectively? Marijuana on its own isn’t exactly associated with violent outbursts. In fact, many would say it’s just the opposite. It seems to have a somewhat calming effect.

With all of the health related studies coming in, the truth is medical marijuana has many possibilities. Unlike legal prescription amphetamines for example, it does not have the same side effects or serious medical dangers. It’s a social stigma that stops us. Americans remain divided, but the fact that marijuana use ends in fewer deaths per year even than legal alcohol is affecting popular thought.

18 states are currently allowing medical marijuana when specifically prescribed by a doctor. It can be used for anything from cancer (reducing nausea, etc) to fighting arthritis and Crohn’s disease. Many studies are still in their preliminary stages, but with all of this promise, why not at the very least conduct more studies and consider the options of legalizing it. It should also be noted that 55% of Americans (an obvious majority) do support the legalization of marijuana nationwide.

Weird Symptoms Explained

doctorThere are many things the average citizen can’t explain. I couldn’t tell you how big the universe is, why people have cancer and others don’t when they live the same lifestyle, etc. Doctors and scientists often can though, and they’re trying to pass that information onto us. Whether just inconvenient or seemingly serious, here are a few basic explanations of symptoms you might have:

  1. You get light headed when standing up too quickly
    You could be dehydrated, or you could have postural hypotension. In other words, blood rushes down to your feet away from your head when you stand up too quickly. If you have low blood pressure, you are more likely to experience this problem. If you want to fix this, drink plenty of water, maybe even more than 8 glasses a day, and of course, stand up a little more slowly and grab a chair or something to stabilize yourself. If you get dizzy or something anyway, sit back down. If you actually faint, you should see a doctor.
  2. Your pee smells
    You would think this would be a given, pee and poo stink. However, in most cases, the odor shouldn’t be that strong. If it is, you’ve probably eaten asparagus recently, or you may be taking a new medication or even a multivitamin. If it smells bad even after you finish peeing and flush, it may be a UTI. Try drinking plenty of water. If this does not work and you are not eating asparagus or taking something new, you should probably see your doctor. UTI’s can spread and become quite serious. If it keeps happening, it could also be a sign of kidney problems or diabetes.
  3. Swelling under your arm
    The most likely cause of this problem is actually an ingrown hair or plugged hair follicle in the armpit. It could also be a swollen lymph node associated with an infection. Try putting a heated compress on it for a few days, and it should go away. If it does not go away, or if it gets worse and hurts more, then it could be a breast infection, cyst, or a tumor.
  4. Nighttime foot cramps
    This could be something as simple as an electrolyte imbalance or mild dehydration. Drink a little more water, get up and walk around, and generally it should relax the muscles. I would even try massaging the feet a little. If it’s happening during the day, you might be experiencing symptoms of diabetes or a blood clotting disorder or nerve damage. That is when you should see your doctor.
  5. Leg jerks as you fall asleep
    Generally, these are mis-firing in the body as you get ready to go to sleep. According to Clete A Kushida MD, An interruption in your brain’s signal to your body to relax can cause the limbs and head to jerk. There’s really not much you can do. If they happen every night though, you should see your doctor to see if it’s sleep apnea or periodic limb movement disorder.
  6. Ringing in your ears
    I think every one of us experiences this every once in a while. It’s probably something called tinnitus. Things such as allergies, antibiotics, aspirin, and earwax can cause this kind of issue, which is generally easy to fix. Clear out your earwax, sometimes wait for the body to adjust to meds, take a claritin, etc. Some also find that biofeedback can be helpful. If this ringing comes with vertigo, facial weakness, or balance issues, this could be a lot more serious, and you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
  7. A Cracking Jaw
    The joint can crack when it isn’t moving correctly or fitting correctly. In most cases, it should correct itself. You can put ice packs or heat packs on it or take an aspirin. If your jaw is locking, go see your doctor. It could be TMJ, and he can give you a jaw protector among other things to help you out. Otherwise, it could turn into arthritis or other serious joint damage.
  8. Floaters in your eyes
    Little white specks floating across your eye are most likely tissue that has strayed. In most cases, it is not a problem, it will not affect your vision really, and your eyes will reabsorb them. If you see it with flashing lights though, it might be a retinal tear, and you should check with your doctor.
  9. Itchy Mouth, Tongue, or Gums
    This is most likely an allergic reaction, and you shouldn’t be eating whatever it is you’re eating. This is more of a warning and a mild reaction. It could easily get worse though, even turning deadly. Mild symptoms should go away within a few minutes, but if things start swelling, then you need to get to a doctor, quick! Foods like milk, nuts, soy, and fish are extremely common as well as gluten, but you can be allergic to anything including water in rare cases. If it’s mild, I would go to your doctor and get an allergy test.