Finding what actually works for those past 50 takes some doing. Too many "experts" are too young or too steeped in convention! We're exploring how to get thin again and how to age with grace--but also with function and still looking good!
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CEO Stephen J Hemsley of Unitedhealth Groups is paid 1,737
times the average earnings of the company workers.Aetna paid the exiting CEO about 1.4 percent
of the company's net, or $18,058,162.Cigna CEO David Cordani made the most, at
$19.1 million. Humana’s Mike McCallister had the smallest compensation package,
with $7.3 million. Health Net CEO Jay Gellert saw the largest pay increase,
with a 35% rise in compensation compared with 2010.Health Net CEO, Gellert’s compensation went
up 35% in 2011 from 2010.Thermo Fisher
Scientific, CEO Marc Casper received total compensation of $33 million. Thermo
Fisher makes lab equipment and other health-care products and services.
Health care in the United States isn’t particularly good,
either.It’s rated 38th among
health care systems of the world.Thirty-eighth????There are 37
countries where you can get better health care.WOW!
But here’s the piece that ties into the first
paragraph.The US spends the most per capita
of any country in the world.To get 38th
Why do I write about this today?You owe it to yourself to know your own
health, your own nutrition and lifestyle (which creates your health or lack of
it) and to research everything your doctor tells you before you accept it as
gospel.Follow the money.Understand that the ‘prevailing wisdom’ and
acceptable medical practices might not be in your best interests.They might be just plain wrong or may be in
the interests of the CEOs of health care companies and the vested interests of
those medical businesses.
How do you do that?The internet has made information more available with less effort than
ever in the history of humans.Yes, some
of it is “main stream” and needs to be evaluated with skepticism.Yes, some of it is sponsored by people making
a buck on your health.But there’s an
amazing amount of info that’s based on excellent science and not sponsored by moneyed
interests.There’s a lot of old
information getting re-evaluated.For
nearly every study that gets big headlines, there are a lot of smart people
with no particular axe to grind who look at the set up and math of the study to
see if the conclusions the scientists (or the media) draw are warranted.One smart way to research is to google
minority views along with traditional information.
So taking care of your health and researching everything isn’t
going to lower the cost of your health insurance—I know.Unless you get so healthy you don’t need
any.If that’s even possible in this day
and age.But at least you would not be
contributing to those horrible statistics.
Does it take your time?Does it stretch your brain?You
bet!It’s your life and how you feel and
what you will be subjected to that’s at stake.I think it’s worth the time and brain power. Tell me what you think!
I’ve been saving up some articles and videos that are more
or less related to issues of wellness that I care about (and I include us and
the earth too, in that wellness); perhaps you do, too.These subjects are all over the place but
boil down to the same basic subject—sustainable health and wellness for humans
and the environment.
First up is information from a new study that reminds us
that alcohol is a carcinogen and (duh) causes cancer.Wine, beer, hard liquor—even in small amounts
raises the risk of cancer.Let me also
remind you that it adds empty calories of no nutritional benefit.
Number three today is a 4 minute video by the doctor who
developed The South Beach Diet.Some of
it is more interesting than all of it, but pay attention to his comments about
gluten, asthma, ear infections, and allergies. Practically main stream, lol…
Dan Barber is an executive chef who talks about a
different kind of food production.He is
also very entertaining.Barber’s
farm-based restaurant also teaches eaters what they’re eating.Watch either or both of the following Ted
talks about sustainability and TASTE!
And another Ted talk.This one might turn your ideas on their heads!It is more about sustainability for the whole
planet (desertification and climate change) and one of the strongest arguments I’ve
seen against being a vegetarian.
And last today if you have time to watch an entire movie
about wellness and such, Here’s the link to STATIN NATION: The Great Cholesterol Cover-Up.Should you be unaware of the real cholesterol story this will set
Since I don’t write these posts very often these days (life
is busy with my little farm), today’s article will combine multiple ideas about
aging and health.I talk a lot about
nutrition.It’s important— even critical
for functional life span. And today, I’ll
throw in some at the end. But it’s not everything.
Elsie Calvert Thompson died peacefully in
her sleep in March.She was two weeks
away from her 114th birthday.There's no doubt her birthday bash would have
been a swinging one.
“She was a very
positive person. She loved people. She was always happy, she loved music, she
loved to dance,” George, her son said. “It was just wonderful to have her as
long as we did.”
Thompson's caregiver of 13 years, said she never saw the
elderly woman in a bad mood. she had worked with Thompson for the past 13 years
as she continued to live in her own condominium in Florida as opposed to an
assisted living facility.
Then there is 100 year old Fauja Singh who ran
the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon recently.He finished last, but he finished.In fact it’s
Singh’s eighth marathon. Though he was born in 1911, he didn’t start running
until age 89.
And from a study on longevity:“We regard these individuals as wonderful
models of aging well. Some of our subjects, ~15% have no clinically
demonstrable disease at age 100 years and we call them “escapers.” About 43%
are “delayers,”or subjects who did not exhibit an age related disease until age
80 years or later. Finally, there are about 42% of our subjects who are
“survivors”, or those with clinically demonstrable disease(s) prior to the age
of 80 years. We have observed amongst
supercentenarians (age 110+ years), that health span equals lifespan. Thus we
believe that instead of the aging myth “the older you get the sicker you get,”
it is much more the case of “the older you get, the healthier you’ve been.”
My own feeling is that living to 100 or more is no fun if
you’re not fully functional.I am
interested in the strategies that promote wellness and function.I think they ultimately lead to longevity,
too, but that’s not the point.The point
is to have good years at the tail end of life, wherever that is
chronologically.Again, from the
Once it truly became apparent that
living to 100 was a terrific advantage, not just in years of survival but
importantly in many more years of quality life, we set out to understand what
factors the centenarians had in common that might explain such an advantage.
Not all centenarians are alike. They vary widely in years of education (no
years to post-graduate), socioeconomic status (very poor to very rich),
religion, ethnicity and patterns of diet (strictly vegetarian to extremely rich
in saturated fats). However, the centenarians we have studied do have a number
of characteristics in common:
Few centenarians are obese. In the case of men, they
are nearly always lean.
Substantial smoking history is rare.
A preliminary study suggests that centenarians are
better able to handle stress than the majority of people.
Our finding that some centenarians (~15%) had no
significant changes in their thinking abilities disproved the expectation
by many that all centenarians would be demented.4 We also
discovered that Alzheimer’s Disease was not inevitable. Some centenarians
had very healthy appearing brains with neuropathological study (we call
these gold standards of disease-free aging).5
Many centenarian women have a history of bearing
children after the age of 35 years and even 40 years. From our studies, a
woman who naturally has a child after the age of 40 has a 4 times greater
chance of living to 100 compared to women who do not.6 It is
probably not the act of bearing a child in one’s forties that promotes
long life, but rather, doing so may be an indicator that the woman’s
reproductive system is aging slowly and that the rest of her body is as
well. Such slow aging and the avoidance or delay of diseases that
adversely impact reproduction would bode well for the woman’s subsequent
ability to achieve very old age.
Some families demonstrate incredible clustering for
exceptional longevity that cannot be due to chance and must be due to
familial factors that members of these families have in common.9
Based upon standardized personality testing, the
offspring of centenarians, compared to population norms, score low in
neuroticism and high in extraversion.
I think numbers 1, 2, 3 and 7 are very
interesting findings. Below is another study/experiment that indicates there
are mental considerations to how we age.
In 1979, psychologist Ellen
Langer conducted a piece of research designed to test this idea. She invited a
group of 75-year-old men to spend a week on a retreat. It was a retreat with a
difference, though. The men were instructed to dress, speak and act as though
the year was 1959. Their environment was decked out like it would have been in
1959, and no magazines or books dated later than 1959 were allowed at the
Before the retreat, men
underwent assessment of physical and mental function including their strength,
posture, eyesight, intelligence, perception and memory.
At the end of the week, the
men were tested again, and most of the men had improved in all of the
assessments. Even characteristics that are generally regarded as fixed – such
as eyesight and intelligence – were found to have improved across the group.
This research was subsequently detailed in Ellen Langer’s 2009 book entitled: Counter-Clockwise:
Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility.
How old you are biologically is not just about
biology!But a lot of it is.I submit the following information as well.
probably the most-studied Neolithic man in history. More than 5,000 years ago,
the ancient iceman was
hit by an arrow and bled to death on a glacier in the Alps between
modern-day Austria and Italy. The glacier preserved his body until it was
discovered by hikers in 1991.
his discovery in the Ötzal Alps by the hikers, scientists have reconstructed
Ötzi's face, analyzed his clothing, scrutinized his body and sequenced his
studies on Ötzi tell us are interesting from a nutritional standpoint.He was a middle aged, well-off
farmer/agriculturist, and he had heart disease and joint pain (arthritis).His teeth tell the story of a carbohydrate
rich diet, with several cavities, tooth wear and gum disease.It’s the same kind of wear and tear and
disease that’s also found on Egyptian mummies who ate grains.
more mummies from many walks of history were examined and something like 34%
showed signs of heart disease.Some of
these were pre-agricultural, so they were not eating grain.Most of the Egyptian mummies were upper
classes and most assuredly WERE eating grain heavy diets.But blaming heart disease on grain is too
the advent of research and investigation of inflammation as the cause of heart
disease we find more enlightenment.Do
grains contribute to inflammation?Absolutely.They are packets of
sugar which causes a rise in blood sugar, a rise of insulin—both inflammatory
(not controversial, btw).They also are
heavy on Omega 6 oils, a surplus of
which is highly inflammatory.But many
other things cause untoward inflammatory response which starts the disease
process.Not enough sleep, stress, bad
attitudes, loneliness, injury, malnutrition.For a complete treatise see my booklet on inflammation or do your own
can you and I take away from the above?An
up-attitude and seeing yourself as young and vital as opposed to old and frail
is a wellness and longevity strategy.Nutrition that is very light on high glycemic load foods that raise
blood sugar and insulin.(I recently
read an article that recommended whole grains as low glycemic foods.THEY ARE NOT!!Glycemic load of 2 slices of white bread is 18,
almost in the high range (20 is high, 1-10 is low).The glycemic load of two slices of whole
wheat bread is 12.Not low.All grains jack up blood sugar and insulin.Wheat has many additional toxins, of which I
have talked at length (see old blog articles).
a lot of opinion on what are inflammatory foods. I might have to change
some of my ideas some day when they get around to more research, but carbs are some
of the most inflammatory, veggies not so much, fruit carbs less than
most. Roots less than grains, but not by much--sweet potato glycemic load
on 1/2 cup is 9, same amount of white rice, 11).
sure you are not short on any nutrients.Avoid stress, get enough sleep.Get weight down or never let it get up.Skip vegetable oils.Cholesterol
is your friend, not your enemy.Socialize
enough, love wisely but thoroughly!What
does that get you?Maybe a long life,
but for sure a better life for however long it is.
When we look at human history and the ancestors from whom we got our genetic makeup, we have to remember they developed in response to all the selective pressure of any developing species. A million or a hundred thousand years ago, the ancestors who did well biologically reproduced better, leaving their genetics behind. Otherwise a species does not survive or progress. So we come from humans who survived well on the diets of hunter/gatherer groups. That diet had some variety depending on geography. And humans are omnivores, clearly utilizing both plant and animal food sources. These are the genetics from which we come.
The advent of agriculture changed the diet but not the genetics. Anthropologists, who study this stuff, tell us that the advent of agriculture--growing grass seeds (grain)--made humans shorter and less robust. Here's the first paragraph of an article by some of those scientists in the Journal of Nutrition, June 1, 1996 (not new!!!) titled "An Evolutionary Perspective Enhances Understanding of Human Nutritional Requirements" I have taken out the reference info to make it easier to read. "Human nutritional requirements reflect evolutionary experience extending
millions of years into the past, and for nearly all this period genetic and
cultural changes occurred in parallel. However,
agriculture and, especially, industrialization produced technical and
behavioral change at rates exceeding the capacity of genetic adaptation to keep
pace.Geneticists believe that the
increased human number and mobility associated with civilization have produced
more, not less, inertia in the gene pool and that when the humans of
3000-10,000 years ago depending on locality) began to take up agriculture, they
were, in essence, the same biological organisms as humans are today. Accordingly, our ancestral dietary pattern has continuing relevance: an
understanding of pre-agricultural nutrition may provide useful insight into the requirements of contemporary humans." In plain English what that says is that human genetics haven't changed although our culture did and the two are no longer in sync nutritionally.
Yesterday I attended an Easter Brunch with a group of bright, educated, very forward thinking people. These were people who generally do not think the government is the best source of information to count on. Food was discussed a lot because we were eating lots of it. Not once or even twice, but three times I heard someone state the conventional "wisdom" about how bad cholesterol is for humans.
The cholesterol hypothesis--although wrong in every way--remains front and center as the "cause" of heart disease (a disease of civilization). It gets the funding. It gets the press. Everybody believes it because we've heard it a million times--all one word--"ARTERY-CLOGGING-SATURATED-FAT".
The story of how the cholesterol hypothesis got to this sorry state of prevalent belief can be found in the book, "Good Calories Bad Calories" and "The Great Cholesterol Con" and in many youtube videos including "Big Fat Fiasco" found here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=exi7O1li_wA The Congressional committee who decided the "validity" of the cholesterol hypothesis, and the resulting food pyramid had some dissenters who were overridden. As a result, we've had a 50 year nutritional experiment conducted on Americans. How's that working for us?
I leave you today with a comment--in the congressional record--from one of those dissenters.
"Heart disease, cancer and diabetes are what we call diseases of civilization. It's ludicrous to blame the diseases of civilization on ancient foods. Saturated fat (cholesterol) is an ancient food."
And my final comment. You and I are designed to eat animal products including lots of animal fat. We were not designed for grass seeds, vegetable oils and sugar. Avoid the diseases of civilization by eating ancient foods.
CRP stands for C-Reactive Protein. It is a simple blood test that measures the level of inflammation in your body. If you've read many of my blog articles you know I harp on chronic inflammation being the cause of all disease. It is the beginning. Of ALL disease. Every one. Ok, you might get an argument for a few about some disease or another. But even conventional wisdom says the chronic preventable things all have an inflammatory component. When your immune system is cranked up and stays in high gear 24/7 from the things that you eat and the lifestyle choices you make, inflammation starts to damage organs and systems. Period.
The United States is the only industrialized country in the world without a universal health insurance system. (nih.gov)
75% of all health care dollars are spent on patients with one or more chronic conditions, many of which can be prevented, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, lung disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. (cdc.gov)
There are four times as many health care lobbyists in Washington as there are members of Congress. (sickothemovie.com)
An estimated seven to 10 million people worldwide live with Parkinson’s disease. In the United States, as many as one million individuals live with PD, which is more than the combined number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig's disease. Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease each year, and this number does not reflect the thousands of cases that go undetected. Incidence of Parkinson’s increases with age, but an estimated four percent of people with PD are diagnosed before the age of 50. Statistics have shown that men are slightly more likely to have Parkinson’s disease than women. (Parkinson's FAQ)
The flu kills about 36,000 people each year in the US—90% of those who die of the flu are 65 or older.(cdc.gov)
All those diseases are avaoidable. Nothing jumps out and gets you. You ask for it. Literally. Read more about inflammation in my ebook, all over the web, several popular books, tho some have missed the boat in a few places....
Take the CRP test. Go to your doc and ask for it. If your number is higher than 1, you are at risk and you are causing damage somewhere in your body even if you do not currently have symptoms. And get your Vitamin D level checked while you're at it.
Yesterday Novak Djokovic won the Austrailian Grand Slam for the third time. He went gluten free two years ago and his career in tennis took off like a shot. Not that he was a bad player before going gluten free. But he is now number 1 in the world.
Tennis is very physical, of course. It also is very much a mental game. Gluten can affect mental stamina and clarity as well as physical. Clearly, Djokovic's mental and physical games have improved.
I just mention the above for it's nice to find some media mention about devil wheat, rather than always touting the healthiness of whole grains. They are not. Humans have several million years of living with no grain in their diet. They were strong and robust. With the advent of agriculture, humans get smaller, less robust and less healthy. But lots more of them. With the advent of agriculture, the soil that animals, nature and weather had created over millenia, started eroding away. With the advent of agriculture, humans went to war to get more land to denude since all they had was no longer productive. Strong case I think. It is outlined comprehensively in "The Vegetarian Myth."
So what can getting off gluten (and grains) do for you? Probably you do not want to win any grand slam tennic matches. But do you want to be mentally sharper? Would you like to have less painful joints? Would you like to lose weight? Lower Blood pressure? Get off medications? Getting off wheat (and other grains) might do some of those for you. I found arthritis abated dramatically. And I was so sure wheat was not a problem for me.
There's invisible stuff too. Wheat ties up minerals so your body cannot use them. So while all the conventional wisdom touts the minerals in wheat as one of the healthy things about it, they do not do YOU any good. Wheat and baked good and other cereals are just very condensed packets of sugar. They raise your blood sugar, trigger insulin release, make you hungrier, and thereby contribute to a host of the diseases of civilization.
What do you have to lose? A 2 week elimination diet of no wheat or grains costs you nothing, absolutely cannot hurt you, and might make you feel a whole lot better and be a whole lot healthier. Not particularly easy, I admit, for wheat is in everything it seems. And I hear this so often--"Well what do you eat then???" Wow, if wheat is the staple of your life, I guarantee you're not doing as well as you should--both mentally and physically. Eat more protein, vegetables, animal products, some fruit and nuts. There is a lot of great food that is not grain!!! Try it, you'll like it!
...are some of the names given to a very broad movement of people interested in avoiding the diseases of civilization. It's a big movement with disparate subsets that do not agree with each other totally. I commend the following article to you (from GreenMed) click here
The jist of the article (I think) is simply that what our ancestors ate before the advent of agriculture was varied and dependant on where they lived. We cannot know exactly what they ate, though real anthropology, nitrogen and carbon dating techniques can tell us a lot. The evidence is clear that pre agricultural humans did not get cancer, diabetes, heart disease or the many other diseases of civilization. Yes, they ran risks that we do not. Their world was fraught with potential perils. But those who survived the physical dangers lived functional lives without alzheimers and depression and osteoporosis and autism and irritable bowel syndrome and polycyctic disease. And all the others.
So perhaps it's not quite so important that we nail down exactly what's in a historical paleolithic diet as it's important to understand what was NOT in it. Such as:
Grass seeds probably never had a part of a paleo diet. Grass seeds are too labor intensive. Biologically speaking, grass seeds (grains) are little bundles of huge amounts of energy (sugar) for starting new plants. Early humans didn't eat grains.
Industrial sludge, commonly called vegetable oil, (high in inflammatory Omega 6 oils) did not exist.
Sugar was not part of anything. Early humans ate a diet that was very low in sugars and the things that become sugar in digestion. The entire blood sugar/insulin system served a completely different purpose--to shuttle nutrients into cells, not to lower blood sugar. The insulin system's function to lower blood sugar was only meant for the emergency situation when they found a bee tree and honey or a big crop of ripe berries.
The vegetative matter they gathered was organic and not fertilized with petrochemicals, but with the natural fertilizer of animal waste and the breakdown of other plants and animals.
Fruits were less common, were in season, and relatively hard to come by, not hybridized nor stored on shelves for weeks.
There was nothing prepackaged. They ate real food and there were no phoney colors, preservatives or pesticides in it.
No factory farmed livestock that ate grass seeds, got fat and needed antibiotics.
No sweetened drinks. No deserts. No bread, no ceareal, no flouride in their water, no antibacterial soap.
Yet, with all the trappings of civilization missing, early humans thrived and raised families and had well developed social groups, rituals and development. And they proliferated--filling the globe. That's biological success.
Now, humans die by millions--of degenerative diseases, often after years of gazillion-dollar medical intervention (proceedures and pharmaceuticals). While I'm truly delighted that I do not have to run away from a hungry predator, I also do not want to live my declining years in hospitals and doctor's offices.
My aunt died recently of cancer. She was 90 years old. What I heard from relatives was that wasn't so bad, afterall she was 90. I say that cancer is not inevitable, nor is heart disease or many of the other things that kill--whether it's at 20 or at 90. We know that cancer grows on its preferred fuel (glucose). You cannot eat a diet high in sugar and sugars for a lifetime without paying a price in pathology--sooner or later. High sugars and the resulting high insulin are inflammatory. Eventually every cell in the body is responding with the immune response--inflammation--the body's response to insult. And when the inflammation cannot work it's healing job because it is forever being initiated, never shutting down, it begins to damage some of those cells and allows pathology to get a foothold.
I read something recently (have forgotten the source, unfortunately.) "Cancer doesn't make a person sick, cancer results when a person is sick." And today I leave you with a couple other sound bites.
Buring fuel (food) causes the production of free radicals which age us and cause inflammation (they do physical damage to cells.) More food, equals more free radical damage. But the interesting part is this: While protein and animal fat do cause some free radical production, carbohydrates cause many, many times more.
Your are what you eat--or, "We dig our graves with our teeth!"