If You’re Bored By This Article, You’re Doing It Right

Let’s just say you’re eating normal food: veg, dairy, some meats, grains, etc. You know, what healthy people do all over the Earth.

Let’s say I came to you and breathlessly told you how amazing this new amazing stupendous molecule was (Vitamin K2, OH. EM. GEEEEE), and that you can get this amazing elixir vitae by eating these special foods called chicken, cheese, eggs, butter, and even sour kraut.

If you looked at me, first feeling like you kinda just don’t get it, and that there is WAY too much hyperventilation going on here. You must have missed something, because these are normal foods. Normal. No miracles, shiny angels, or anything, and you don’t even have to go to fancy expensive stores to get them.

If this is you, then you’re doing it right. If you look at normal foods and think, yeah I should really add that into my diet, then that’s another story altogether.

Here’s the point:

in a world where the media scraps for every click-scrap they can get, the informational diet you’ll be fed is an all you can eat buffet of over-hyped everything — they need you to click through.

And you may want to go ahead and click through, read the material, and suspend disbelief like you do when Luke lifts the X-wing fighter from the swamp … with his MIND! But when you’re at the grocery store, you should still shop on science fact, not science fiction.

 

This article was originally pubbed here.

Vitamin K may be one of the more recent vitamins discovered, but it has a major role in our body – especially the elusive vitamin K2.

Vitamin K1 is obtained from your diet in the form of leafy greens such as kale, collards, romaine lettuce, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli. Vitamin K2 is manufactured by beneficial bacteria found in your gut and found in certain organic animal products and fermented foods.

Roles Of Vitamin K2

Bone Health – K2 is vital for calcium regulation in the body, building strong bones and breaking down unwanted calcification. Its interaction with other nutrients such as Vitamin A (Retinol not Beta-Carotene) and Vitamin D play an important role in creating a healthy bone.

Dental Health – Dr. Weston A. Price showed that dental decay, tooth sensitivity and other issues can be addressed naturally, simply by ensuring adequate K2 in the diet. He found that indigenous people with healthy teeth had diets rich in K2, vitamin A and vitamin D.

Cardiovascular Health – Vitamin K2 has an important job in preventing cholesterol congestion within the arteries. The cholesterol that gets plastered on arterial walls is mainly made up of calcium. Since it has the job of distributing calcium where it belongs, vitamin K2 keeps calcium out of your arteries and in your bones.

Wrinkles – There is a strong correlation between early signs of aging (wrinkles, loose skin) and low bone density. Looking at cultures that ingest high vitamin K2 foods, such as the Japanese, one can see how wrinkles are not a common problem.

Men’s Health – A vitamin K2 study done on more than 11,000 men was recently published by the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). The research revealed that increased intake of vitamin K2 may reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 35 percent. Vitamin K1 on the other hand did not offer any prostate benefits.

Women’s Health
– Vitamin K2 is especially important for women including relieving menstrual cramps. Dr. Kate Rhéaume-Bleue, author of Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox, says:

“For the prevention of everything from wrinkles to cancer, Vitamin K2 is the missing nutrient for women’s health. Most women don’t need a calcium supplement, but Vitamin K2 will channel dietary calcium to the right places. And everyone is taking Vitamin D, but without K2 we’re not getting all the benefits of Vitamin D, and even risking harm from it.”


Brain Health
 – Vitamin K has been shown to have a protective action on brain cells. Although it is not known as a common antioxidant, vitamin K2 helps to prevent oxidative damage within the brain.
Other K2 functions include:

• Helping to protect cells against oxidative damage
• Supporting your immune system
• Encouraging the flow of urine
• Enhancing liver function
• Promoting brain function
• Supporting growth and development

Why is deficiency so common?
Since the development of commercially processed foods, vitamin K2 has dramatically diminished. Our new high carbohydrate diets are the perfect food for pathogenic bacteria in the gut. Plus a lack of organic animal products and naturally fermented foods together compromise the intestinal environment limiting its capacity to produce vitamin K2.

 

Mashed Maple Sweet Potatoes

A fabulous way to use the in season sweet potatoes. Give this one a try and decide if you want to feature it at your Thanksgiving spread.

You’ll Need

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup milk

Directions

  • In a medium saucepan cook potatoes, covered, in a small amount of boiling water for 30 to 35 minutes or until very tender; then drain.
  • Mash with a potato masher or beat with an electric mixer on low speed.
  • Add maple syrup, butter, and salt.
  • Gradually beat in enough milk to make potato mixture light and fluffy.

One Is The Loneliest Number That You’ll Ever Do

“They say” that exercise can be a great stress reliever. But there are often mixed data on this — whether it is or is not a stress reliever. Given that, there must be some other factor that’s mucking up the data.

This study looks at one of them. When you exercise in a group, your stress levels are reduced by 26 percent, compared to those who brave it all by themselves.

Why would that be?

  • Are they just grumpy that no one wants to work out with them?
  • Are they more stressy because they can only mutter to them selves on their little angry runs?
  • Or do they report being less calm because they wanted to be in the “group exerciser” arm of the study, and do understand why the universe is conspiring against them?

The world may never know the reasons why group activities lead people to report higher quality of life, but it may be because we’re human. Just thinking out loud here, but we ARE social animals. If we go against that essential nature, it’s just not going to go well.

So, find a group to walk or ride or talk or play ping pong or whatever with. If you do this, it’s not only better for your muscles, it’s better for your heart and mind as well.

This research was originally pubbed here.

Researchers found working out in a group lowers stress by 26 percent and significantly improves quality of life, while those who exercise individually put in more effort but experienced no significant changes in their stress level and a limited improvement to quality of life, according to a study published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

“The communal benefits of coming together with friends and colleagues, and doing something difficult, while encouraging one another, pays dividends beyond exercising alone,” said Dayna Yorks, DO, lead researcher on this study. “The findings support the concept of a mental, physical and emotional approach to health that is necessary for student doctors and physicians.”

Dr. Yorks and her fellow researchers at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine recruited 69 medical students — a group known for high levels of stress and self-reported low quality of life — and allowed them to self-select into a twelve-week exercise program, either within a group setting or as individuals. A control group abstained from exercise other than walking or biking as a means of transportation.

Every four weeks, participants completed a survey asking them to rate their levels of perceived stress and quality of life in three categories: mental, physical and emotional.

Those participating in group exercise spent 30 minutes at least once a week in CXWORX, a core strengthening and functional fitness training program. At the end of the twelve weeks, their mean monthly survey scores showed significant improvements in all three quality of life measures: mental (12.6 percent), physical (24.8 percent) and emotional (26 percent). They also reported a 26.2 percent reduction in perceived stress levels.

By comparison, individual fitness participants were allowed to maintain any exercise regimen they preferred, which could include activities like running and weight lifting, but they had to work out alone or with no more than two partners. On average the solitary exercisers worked out twice as long, and saw no significant changes in any measure, except in mental quality of life (11 percent increase). Similarly, the control group saw no significant changes in quality of life or perceived stress.

“Medical schools understand their programs are demanding and stressful. Given this data on the positive impact group fitness can have, schools should consider offering group fitness opportunities,” said Dr. Yorks. “Giving students an outlet to help them manage stress and feel better mentally and physically can potentially alleviate some of the burnout and anxiety in the profession.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by American Osteopathic Association.

Dietary Magic Pulls Something From Thin Air

And now for my first act, I’m going to turn nothing … into something. In violation of Newton’s Law of Conservation of Matter and Energy I’m going to poof something right out of thin air by taking a zero-calorie thing, and turning that into luv handles and spare tires.

But first, we have to move from old skool Houdini-style magic to hypnotism — curiouser and curiouser.

Let’s all pretend that we’re watching a watch go back and fourth, while I breathily whisper that you’re getting sleepy. Veeeerrrry sleeeepy. Let’s further suspend disbelief that you can do that while you’re reading the instructions for watch watching. During our imaginary sleep I implant the suggestion that you cannot sleep at night. It will be as if you are over 40 and somehow your brain pops on wondering irrelevant things for hours until 15 minutes before you have to get up (remember, when this actually happens … it was me. Bwa ha ha).

The next morning after you awake, you stumble over to free base some coffee or just straight up snort espresso powder (note to crazy people: do NOT do this) and go through your day in a groggy haze like your brain has on muddy contacts. But the other effect of your own personal zombie apocalypse is that you get hungry. Everything wants to go in your mouth, like a black hole pulling in galaxies of Ho Hos and office bagels and the stuff in the back of the fridge that no longer has recognizable features.

Lack of sleep does this. Creating cravings, creating the sense of hunger when you and I both know you are anything in this world but calorie deficient.

This article below, originally pubbed here, just makes the point that 100% calorie free sleep can turn into weight control issues. You know your own best strategy for sleep — if you need some pointers, let us know. There’s no magic to this, once you know the trick.

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Are your eyelids drooping as you read this? You might want to watch what you put on your plate. We all know that a lack of sleep can make us older, crankier, and—let’s face it—fatter. (Learn what else happens when you don’t get enough sleep.) But sleep slackers, beware: Researchers now know exactly how many more calories we consume when we skimp on our shuteye, and it’s not pretty.

According to a 2016 meta-analysis published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who don’t get enough sleep much more than usual the next day. More specifically, they eat an average of 385 calories more than their usual intake. The research team also revealed that the sleep-deprived participants ate significantly more fat and less protein.

Why the boost in calories and fat? Turns out, a bad night’s sleep can actually make you crave junk food, scientists say.

To make matters worse, the subjects didn’t move around much after a bad night’s sleep. So instead of burning off those extra calories, it’s likely that the participants ended up storing them as fat. Consistently eating 385 extra calories a day can cause you to gain about a pound every nine days, Women’s Health reported. And not only does that spell disaster for your tummy, but all that weight gain could also increase your risk of developing conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

If you struggle to lose weight, researchers suggest adjusting your sleep habits first and foremost. Try getting to bed an hour earlier to hit the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep. But for those who struggle to reach that suggested dose of Zzzs, try these tips to stay sharp. Trust us, your body (and your brain!) will be glad you did.

A Karma Kumbaya for Jocks and Nerds

Funny how life is. High School is normally divided between the nerds who were mental giants, and the jocks who were often just mental. The nerds could get more in shape any time they wanted, but spent way too much time computing the algorithm showing what a waste of time it would all be anyway.

The jocks, we stereotypically think, are not going to get their brain cells knocked back INTO their skulls so the law of diminishing returns is not their friend. So we think that jocks will remain jocks, and nerds will remain nerds. After all, I’m pretty sure no one every characterized Newton (total genius), Einstein (geniuser), or Elon Musk (geniusest??) as a stud muffin. This just never happened.

The gravity of this issue turns out to have way more relativity. In fact, this study below (originally pubbed here) makes the point that, the more you exercise, the more efficient your big bulbous brain is at using the glucose it needs for you to compute why you shouldn’t be moving so much in the first place! It’s the Law of Conservation of Energy and Laziness!

So hey nerdom, get up and move more. Jockville keep moving, just don’t whack your head into things! In addition to jocks and nerds, this applies to us all. The more you move, the better your brain is at thinking and understanding how to do more movement than just laps between the couch and the fridge.

 

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Just two weeks of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) decreases how much blood glucose the brain needs to burn for energy in people with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, according to results of a new study. And two weeks of even just moderate exercise improves the entire body’s insulin sensitivity in people with either health condition.

The human brain is normally an energy hog that consumes between 15-20% of the body’s circulating blood glucose (blood sugar). In those with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, the brain becomes less efficient; its energy metabolism increases and it burns through even more glucose and fatty acids. Previous studies have shown that losing weight decreases the brain’s consumption of blood glucose. The latest study wanted to find out if the same effect could be achieved with a short run of high-intensity exercise.

All of the study participants were middle-aged, non-exercising men and women with either type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. They did either two weeks of HIIT or two weeks of normal, moderate-intensity training on exercise bicycles. Each group completed six training sessions over the two-week period with an instructor. The participants were evaluated with positron emission tomography (PET scans) before and after the training.

The results showed that the brains of those who did two weeks of HIIT became more efficient consumers of blood glucose. The effect appeared across nearly all areas of the brain, suggesting that even a short run of exercise causes significant changes in how the brain metabolizes energy.

The same brain effect wasn’t seen in those who did two weeks of moderate exercise, but both groups benefited from an overall insulin sensitivityincrease. In other words, their bodies had to supply less insulin to control their circulating blood glucose.

“This study provides the first evidence that short-term exercise training alters brain glucose metabolism in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance,” the researchers reported in the study.

The researchers think it’s likely that moderate exercise would also eventually improve the brain’s blood glucose metabolism, given enough time. The fact that just two weeks of either kind of training improved overall glucose metabolism is encouraging, especially considering that none of the study participants were exercising before the study. This was truly a “cold start” for all involved, and everyone who participated saw some benefits.

The study was published in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism.

A Harvard doctor says blah blah blah your body

I read this article (below, originally pubbed here) because it had the word ‘Harvard’ in the title. We have this knee-jerk to leap — somehow leaping was NOT listed as one of the 5 best exercises for your body — to this conclusion right away.

But then immediately did a back flip reversal because back flip didn’t make the list either! HARvard? HARvard? Why do we dance to their two-step tune like a bunch of jumping jacks — and yeah, how do such smart people miss dancing and jumping jacks?

But I think my concern was skating on thin ice because, after reading through each of these on the list, it turns out that there are some good ideas cycling through. So by the end, I was glad I sat up, pulled up this article so I can say Plank You Very Much HARvard, for this informative little exercise in exercise appreciation.

 

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If you think running a marathon is the quickest ticket to a rock-hard body, I-Min Lee, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, has news for you: That classic feat isn’t as good for your body as it seems.

Instead of long-distance running, which can be hard on your joints and digestive system, Lee recommends five other types of workouts. They generate benefits that range from weight loss and muscle building to protecting your heart and brain and strengthening your bones.

The findings are detailed in a Harvard Medical School health report called “Starting to Exercise” which recommends some of the best exercises for your body.

Here they are.

1. Swimming

“You might call swimming the perfect workout,” write the authors of the Harvard Healthbeat newsletter, which summarizes the report’s key takeaways and gives insight from Lee.

In addition to working nearly every muscle in your body, swimming can raise your heart rate to improve heart health and protect the brain from age-related decline. Plus, being afloat makes this type of exercise nearly strain-free. “Swimming is good for individuals with arthritis because it’s less weight-bearing,” Lee said in the newsletter.

When you swim regularly for at least 30 to 45 minutes at a time, you’re doing aerobic exercise — a type of workout that a spate of recent research suggests could help battle depression, lift your mood, and reduce stress, among other benefits.

2. Tai chi

Tai chi — also called tai chi chuan — is a Chinese martial art that combines a series of graceful, flowing movements to create a sort of moving meditation. The exercise is performed slowly and gently with a high degree of focus and a special attention paid to breathing deeply. Since practitioners go at their own pace, tai chi is accessible for a wide variety of people — regardless of age or fitness level.

Tai chi “is particularly good for older people because balance is an important component of fitness, and balance is something we lose as we get older,” Lee said.

3. Strength training

At its most basic, strength training involves using weight to create resistance against the pull of gravity. That weight can be your own body, free weights like barbells or dumbbells, elastic bands, or weighted ankle cuffs.

abs situps workout fitness exercise woman gym sit upsYou don’t need equipment to do strength training.

Research suggests you can use either heavy weights and a small number of reps or lighter weights and more reps to build stronger, more sturdy muscles.

Chris Jordan, the exercise physiologist who came up with the viral 7-minute workout (officially called the “Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout”), told Business Insider that healthy adults should incorporate resistance training on two to three of the four to five days per week that they work out.

You can also use high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which combines the cardiovascular benefits of cycling or running with resistance training, to achieve the same or similar results. If you like HIIT, the 7-minute workout is a great place to start.

Whichever workout you try, the most important thing is to keep doing it.

“To achieve results, consistency is key,” Jordan said.

4. Walking

It might sound insignificant, but walking can be powerful medicine.

Several studies suggest that walking for at least 30 minutes — even at a moderate or leisurely pace — can have benefits for the brain and body. One recent study found that in adults ages 60 to 88, walking for 30 minutes four days a week for 12 weeks appeared to strengthen connectivity in a region of the brain where weakened connections have been linked with memory loss. And a pilot study in people with severe depression found that just 30 minutes of treadmill walking for 10 consecutive days was “sufficient to produce a clinically relevant and statistically significant reduction in depression.”

If you don’t currently exercise regularly, the folks at Harvard recommend starting your walking routine with 10-15 minute treks and building up to 30 or 60-minute hikes.

5. Kegel exercises

Kegel exercises are important for both men and women because they help to strengthen a group of muscles commonly referred to as the “pelvic floor.” As we age, these muscles — which include the uterus, bladder, small intestine, and rectum — can start to weaken. But keeping them resilient can have important benefits, ranging from preventing embarrassing accidents like bladder leakage to the accidental passing of gas.

The right way to do kegels involves squeezes the muscles you’d use to hold in urine or gas, according to the folks at Harvard. They recommend holding the contraction for two to three seconds, releasing, and repeating 10 times. For the best results, do them four to five times a day.

Hear Me Out. Here’s What Noise Pollution Does To Your Health

“Oh The Noise Noise Noise”

I feel for the Grinch, I really do. When you’re a child, you think “oh, Mr. Mean Green Man, leave the cutsey Who people alone!”

When you get older you’re more like, “Yo Whoooodlums, with the banging all the time, what evil Aunt or Uncle bought you drums for Christmas? Could you possibly give it a rest?”

 

We Bathe In Noise

Noise has become so ubiquitous in western societies that we don’t even notice it any more. This would be like being around smokers to the point where you don’t even smell how bad you smell. And the impact of all this noise happens on your ear drums, but it’s also happening under the hood, beneath the level of consciousness.

And that’s just when you notice it. Even if you tune out the “background noise” to the point at which you’re no longer aware of it, that doesn’t mean it’s not having an impact on your nervous system, stress levels, and even your heart.

 

This excellent review talks about the various ways that the noise, noise, noise impacts health. “The most investigated non-auditory health endpoints for noise exposure are cognitive impairment (in children), sleep disturbance, and cardiovascular health. The WHO estimated that in high-income western European countries (population about 340 million people), at least 1 million healthy life-years (disability-adjusted life-years) are lost every year because of environmental noise (figure 2).” 

 

It seems as though the nervous system still may register loud noises even when they are not registered consciously — either because you have tuned them out, or because you’re asleep. Over time, this takes a toll.

According to Richard Neitzel, associate professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, “We see associations with heart attacks and high blood pressure, and guess what: That’s what kills Americans most. We are ignoring this at our peril.

These are just associations, but people in noisier areas have up to a 17% greater risk of cardiovascular diseases, including stroke and hypertension. This may be due to the additional link between noise levels and the release of stress hormones in the body. Moreover, 20+ studies have shown the relationship between noise pollution and cognitive performance, reading comprehension, and memory in kids.
So for your heart and health and kids, bathe in quite for a while every day.