Moroccan Mint Tea

Are you trying to stop drinking soda? This drink is a nice alternative as it is  much lower in sugar and it’s a perfect beverage for a picnic on a warm summer day.

You’ll Need

  • 8 cups water
  • 6 green tea bags
  • Approximately 1 1/2 cups (up to 2 cups) fresh mint leaves, slightly ripped (to help release flavor)
  • 3 Tablespoon of sugar (start with this amount and then the next time you make it see if 2 1/2 Tablespoons is sufficient). 
Directions
  • In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and mix in sugar until dissolved. Add the mint and tea bags and steep for approximately 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Remove tea bags and let cool. Once cooled strain out mint leaves and store in a container. Place in fridge.
  • Let chill for several hours. When serving,  serve over ice garnished with mint leaves.

 

Variations
  • Try using black tea
  • Add a splash of lemon
  • Use honey instead of sugar

 

Will Clower Articles

 

The New Freshman 15 Is The “Fitbit 15”. A Cautionary Tale.

Image result for fitbit calorie count fail

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

They say that “No good deed goes unpunished.” In this case, it’s definitely the case. You get the schmancy wearable device complete with flashy lights, beeps, reminders, apps, it tells you your calories, steps, heart rate and billions of other things you didn’t even know that you needed to know!

So you invested in the tech. With all this data right on your wrist, you’d think that it will help you control weight. Unfortunately, the opposite turns out to be true. For individuals in weight management studies, those who have wearable devices often gain weight compared to those who do NOT have those devices.

What the, what? How can that be? First of all, you’d naturally think the device would assist in weight control. Second, why would it work against your efforts?

The Data Behind All That Data

It turns out that the information you receive on those devices may actually be responsible for the weight control failures. How?

Studies measured the accuracy of wearable device data  and found that “wearable devices had a rather high measurement accuracy with respect to heart rate, number of steps, distance, and sleep duration … whereas poor measurement accuracy was observed for energy consumption (calories)….”

Here’s a systematic review of many studies, that agreed that there was a “higher validity of

 steps, few studies on distance and physical activity, and lower validity for energy expenditure and sleep.”

 

Vanity Sizing, But For Calories

If you finish your daily walk and look down at your watch to find that you burned 2000 calories already this morning, you feel great! You LOVE this device! And you can totally justify a bacon triple cheeseburger! By systematically over-estimating the calories consumed, people over-compensate by over-eating over and over.

Hence the problem.

 

Ditch The Device?

Does this mean you should get rid your wearable? No, just be aware when you wear a wearable. The estimates you get from the device are just that … estimates.

What to do now? Do not use your estimated calorie burn to justify that Venti Caramel Macchiato. That said, if you want to use this information in some way, just be conservative and cut the number in half. Better yet, don’t modify your dietary intake based on perceived calorie offsets at all. Continue eating clean, and doing that in control. At that point, your schmancy device data becomes a wonderful little FYI, but not much more.

 

What’s the Matter With Your Gray Matter? More Than Just Brain Strain.

Image result for age memoryIt’s 50 shades of gray for the matter of your gray matter. As you age, little by little you start dropping threads. Then you have to retrace your steps, physically and mentally to force yourself to remember the things you forgot. This is as inevitable as it is normal.

But as in any normal distribution bell curve, there is a range of age-related dysfunction: some people seem to start forgetful, others develop it over time, and others seem to just keep going like an EverReady Bunny.

What makes the difference between those who lose it early, and those who lose it late? Probably 32 factors, only a few of which are even known at this point. Oh great, right? That said, there are things we can do to tilt the needle away from this steep senility Slip-n-Slide. Most people would think I’m going to say brain exercises, crosswords, Sudoku, and other forms of brain strain.

And those are fine, but something else you can do is far simpler. Here’s some data:

Related image

exercise breaks promote attention and improve your ability to learn (STUDY),

they can improve memory and executive function (STUDY),

and “exercise training may be a promising approach to improve [blood flow in the brain], as increases may contribute to the beneficial effects on cognitive functioning observed following increased physical activity levels (STUDY).

Bottom line? Bend the curve in your favor! Hold back the decline as long as you can! And to do that, remember to active every day in every way. Otherwise, you’ll slip faster down that slope. And no one climbs back up a Slip-n-Slide.

Enough Is Enough, But How Much Is That?

Image result for enough exerciseI was going to write a big long post about overdoing exercise, it’s potential bad effects on your heart, and just the impossibility of keeping up with that unless you’re already Joe Athlete. So in stead, I just thought I’d answer the basic questions.

If you’re not running marathons, completing triathlons, or Iron Man competitions do you need to step it up and do more?

No.

If you’re doing some activity, anything really, with only moderate intensity for 21 minutes per day, are you getting the recommended amount of activity?

Yes.

The bottom line is that the “right amount” of exercise will be different for every person. You need to move while doing something you enjoy. But whether you should do 30 minutes of badminton or 30 minutes high octane spinning turns out to be more about your preference than anything else.

Don’t over-complicate, overthink, and certainly don’t feel like you have to overdo your exercise.  21 minutes per day, moderate activity. Get that in, and you win.

 

Never Chew On A Tree

Image result for do what you love

“Do what you love, love what you do?”

Even as I write this, it sounds like a cartload of kum bay ya ya sisterhood of the traveling meaningless aphorisms. It just needs Sarah McLaughlin warbling in the background to tie-dyed retro hippies dancing in some field.

That said, and as much as it elicits my mental gag reflex, as far as exercise goes it actually makes sense.

We are coached to think of exercise as a way to crank out the calories you need to balance that forklift sized Portion of Texas fajitas that could feed Rwanda. Calories in, out. It doesn’t matter if you like it or not. Think of it like the bitter pill you have to take for those 2 margaritas you tacked on to your “working” lunch.

So exercise is presented almost like an atonement you deserve, and definitely not something you should love necessarily. But except for hard core athletes, most people really don’t like this kind of perfunctory, no pain no gain mentality.

In fact, one very Southern woman once looked at me and said, [when you read this, it’s totally better if you do it with a drawl] “Dr. Clower I would rather chew on a TREE than git on that treadmill and bounce my big blobby body here and there for 30 minutes in the gym in front of God and everybody!”

Agreed.

We have to get over that way of thinking, because doing something you don’t like or love is the exact wrong strategy. When you are exercising and hate it, you can create cortisol stress hormones that work against the very beneficial effect of the exercise that you’re trying to achieve. In other words, you’ll get less out of it if you hate it, not to mention the fact that you’ll only do it until your full-sleeve-thin-mint guilt wears off.

But if you find what you love to do and do that, whatever that activity is will happen longer, you won’t create the stress response that works against you, and you’ll more efficiently burn calories. Think about how fun it is to ride a bike, play on a sports team, hike a trail with your family, walk with your friends. WHICH activity matters far less than how you feel about it.

Bottom line? For your activity, find what you love. Do that.

Obesity Link To Rheumatoid Arthritis

Excess weight creates inflammation inside your body.  Rheumatoid arthritis is an immune disorder that leads to inflammatory swelling and pain in the joints. You know how they market Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups as “two great tastes that taste great together”? This is exactly the opposite of that.  Each of these feed the inflammatory fire of the other.
Bottom line? Even though they may seem to have little to do with each other, the common denominator between these two conditions is inflammation. And weight control may help ease joint pain caused by this form of arthritis.
Nice article in full, below by Lisa Rapaport @ Reuters Health
People with rheumatoid arthritis and obesity may be more likely to become disabled than their counterparts who maintain a healthier weight, a U.S. study suggests.

Researchers examined data more than 25,000 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Most were overweight or obese when they joined the study. Those who were severely obese were more likely to report some disability to start with.

Over the course of the study, for up to about 15 years, obesity was associated with more progression of disability.

Their worsening disability “was not explained by worse disease activity,” said lead study author Dr. Joshua Baker of the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. “This suggests that obesity causes disability in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and provides yet another reason for patients to try to take off a few pounds.”

In contrast to the more common osteoarthritis, which happens when cartilage on the ends of bones wears down over time, rheumatoid arthritis is an immune system disorder that causes debilitating swelling and pain in the joints.

In the current study, weight loss was also associated with disability, but it’s possible this is because people lost weight due to poor health or frailty as they aged, and not because of a conscious effort to eat right, exercise more and get in shape, researchers speculate in Arthritis Care and Research.

“I would say to my patients that they should aim for a slow, progressive weight loss, associated with increased physical activity, rather then aiming for unrealistic aims such as reaching normal weight,” Finckh said by email.

While obesity may lead to worsening disability for rheumatoid arthritis patients, it’s also possible that some people with the immune system disorder might become obese as a result of this disease, noted Dr. Predrag Ostojic, a researcher at the University of Belgrade in Serbia who wasn’t involved in the study.

“Due to disability and chronic pain, patients with rheumatoid arthritis are less active, and inactivity may contribute in gaining weight,” Ostojic said by email. “On the other hand, obesity may cause joint damage independently of rheumatoid arthritis, by excessive joint loading and accelerated degeneration of the joint cartilage (osteoarthritis), especially on lower limbs and spine.”

“Any weight reduction will have positive effect on functional ability,” Ostojic added. “Healthy weight is ideal, but overweight is also an acceptable target, especially in rheumatoid arthritis patients who are severely obese.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2HEQD7K Arthritis Care and Research, online April 29, 2018.