Friday, February 24, 2012

The Evidence Against Soy

Dow Chemical and DuPont, the same corporations that brought misery and death to millions around the world through Agent Orange, are now the driving forces behind the promotion of soy as a food for humans. They are financing anti-meat and anti-milk campaigns aimed largely at those concerned about animal welfare and the environment, trying to convince them that imitations such as "soymilk" are not only healthier than the real thing, but better for the earth too.
There is no evidence that consuming soy products can improve health, reduce environmental degradation or slow global warming. In fact, the evidence suggests quite the opposite.
The studies below regarding the effects of soy on health are eye-opening, particularly the review by the American Heart Association -- which no longer supports the health claims about soy endorsed by the U.S. government.
If you were to carefully review the thousands of studies published on soy, I strongly believe you too would reach the conclusion that any possible benefits of consuming soy are FAR outweighed by the well documented risks.
Now, I’m not against all forms of soy. Properly fermented products like natto and tempeh have been consumed for centuries and do not wreak havoc in your body like unfermented soy products do. For example, the enzyme nattokinase—derived from natto--is a safer, more powerful option than aspirin to dissolve blood clots, and has been used safely for more than two decades.

Unfortunately, many Americans still believe that unfermented and processed soy products like soy milk, soy cheese, soy burgers and soy ice cream are good for them.

85 Percent of Consumers Believe the Lies About Soy
The rise of soy as a health food is in large part due to highly successful marketing to otherwise health conscious Americans who set the trend. According to the survey Consumer Attitudes About Nutrition 2008 (by the United Soybean Board), 85 percent of consumers now perceive soy products as healthy.
The survey also found that consumers:
  • rank soybean oil among the top three healthy oils, with 70 percent recognizing soy oil as a healthy oil, and
  • depend on soybean oil, commonly sold as vegetable oil, as one of their two most frequent cooking oils
This is a tragic case of shrewd marketing of misinformation and outright lies taking root among the masses, which will likely take some time to undo.
Ever since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a health claim for soy foods in 1999 (which said diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 25 grams of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of heart disease), soy sales have skyrocketed. In the years between 2000 and 2007, food manufacturers in the U.S. introduced over 2,700 new foods with soy as an ingredient, including 161 new products introduced in 2007 alone. 
This has resulted in a booming multi-billion dollar business. From 1992 to 2007, soy food sales increased from a paltry $300 million to nearly $4 billion, according to the Soyfoods Association of North America.
However, the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nonprofit nutrition education foundation, submitted a petition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in January of this year, asking them to retract its heart-health claim from soy in light of the inconsistent and contradictory evidence showing benefits, and its many proven health risks.
What’s So Wrong With Soy?

Unlike the Asian culture, where people eat small amounts of whole soybean products, western food processors separate the soybean into two golden commodities--protein and oil. And there is nothing natural or safe about these products.

Says Dr. Kaayla Daniel, author of The Whole Soy Story,

“Today's high-tech processing methods not only fail to remove the anti-nutrients and toxins that are naturally present in soybeans but leave toxic and carcinogenic residues created by the high temperatures, high pressure, alkali and acid baths and petroleum solvents." 

Dr. Daniel also points out the findings of numerous studies reviewed by her and other colleagues -- that soy does not reliably lower cholesterol, and in fact raises homocysteine levels in many people, which has been found to increase your risk of stroke, birth defects, and yes: heart disease.

Other common health problems linked to a high-soy diet include:
Most soy, perhaps about 80 percent or more, is also genetically modified, which adds its own batch of health concerns
Despite these findings, many people still want to believe the hype, thinking that these studies must somehow be wrong. But the content of soy itself should be a clue. For example, non-fermented soy products contain:
  • Phytoestrogens (isoflavones) genistein and daidzein, which mimic and sometimes block the hormone estrogen
  • Phytates, which block your body's uptake of minerals
  • Enzyme Inhibitors, which hinder protein digestion
  • Hemaggluttin, which causes red blood cells to clump together and inhibits oxygen take-up and growth
  • High amounts of omega-6 fat, which is pro-inflammatory
You’re Consuming Soy Whether You’re Buying “Soy Products” or Not
Even if you know better than to gulp down large amounts of soy milk, slabs of tofu, and other soy snacks, you are still consuming soy if you’re eating processed food, in the form of soybean oil and lecithin. So depending on your dietary habits, your (unfermented) soy consumption could really add up.

In fact, Dr. Joseph Hibbeln at the National Institutes of Health told he estimates that soybeans, usually in the form of oil, account for 10 percent of the average person’s total calories in the United States! When you consider that 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food goes toward processed food, this amount of “accidental” soy intake is not surprising.

As a side note, I’d like to make a quick statement here to address some of my readers’ concerns about my reduced CoQ 10 supplement, ubiquinol, which also contain soy bean oil.
Unfortunately, the reduced CoQ 10 (ubiquinol) – which is the optimal form of CoQ 10 that your body needs, especially if you’re over 25 – is only produced by a multi-billion dollar Japanese pharmaceutical company that holds ALL the world patents on it. Hence, there’s no way to replace the soy, even though that would have been my preference.
However, as in all things, moderation is key. If I thought there were ANY significant health risks from consuming this small amount of soy oil, then I would not personally take two a day – which I do. I do however avoid all processed forms of soy products, and severely limit my intake of other unfermented soy, which is easy to do by simply avoiding processed and “fast” foods.
Which Soy Foods Should be Avoided … and How do You Avoid Them?

Because soy is so pervasive in the U.S. food supply, avoiding it is not an easy task. 

The best way to completely avoid soy in the food supply is to buy whole foods and prepare them yourself. This may also be your only option if you’ve developed a soy allergy and need to eliminate soy from your diet entirely.  

If you still prefer to buy readymade and packaged products, for whatever reason, Dr. Daniel offers a free Special Report, "Where the Soys Are," on her Web site. It lists the many "aliases" that soy might be hiding under in ingredient lists -- words like "boullion," "natural flavor" and "textured plant protein."

Which Soy Foods DO Have Health Benefits? 

The few types of soy that ARE healthy are all fermented varieties. After a long fermentation process, the phytic acid and antinutrient levels of the soybeans are reduced, and their beneficial properties -- such as the creation of natural probiotics -- become available to your digestive system.

The fermentation process also greatly reduces the levels of dangerous isoflavones, which are similar to estrogen in their chemical structure, and can interfere with the action of your own estrogen production.

So if you want to eat soy that is actually good for you, following are all healthy options:

  1. Natto, fermented soybeans with a sticky texture and strong, cheese-like flavor. It's loaded with nattokinase, a very powerful blood thinner. Natto is actually a food I eat regularly, as it is the highest source of vitamin K2 on the planet and has a very powerful beneficial bacteria, bacillus subtilis. It can usually be found in any Asian grocery store.
  2. Tempeh, a fermented soybean cake with a firm texture and nutty, mushroom-like flavor.
  3. Miso, a fermented soybean paste with a salty, buttery texture (commonly used in miso soup).
  4. Soy sauce: traditionally, soy sauce is made by fermenting soybeans, salt and enzymes, however be wary because many varieties on the market are made artificially using a chemical process.
For additional information on this topic please visit Dr. Mercola's website at

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Avoid This Food to Help Slow Aging

By Dr. Mercola
Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are a complex group of compounds formed when sugar reacts with amino acids.
This can occur both in the food you eat, and inside your body.
It's is a fitting acronym because – along with oxidation – it's one of the major molecular mechanisms whereby damage accrues in your body, which leads to disease, aging, and eventually, death.
For example, there is mounting evidence that AGEs may be implicated in the development of the chronic degenerative diseases associated with aging, including but not limited to:
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Alzheimer's disease, and
  • Diabetes
Several studies have shown that restricting the consumption of AGEs can lead to an increased lifespan in animal models.
According to a paper that summarizes recent research on AGEsi:
"... [T]he data are supportive that endogenous AGEs are associated with declining organ functioning. It appears that dietary AGEs may also be related.
... As of today, restriction of dietary intake of AGEs and exercise has been shown to safely reduce circulating AGEs, with further reduction in oxidative stress and inflammatory markers."

Why Limiting Sugar is Key for Longevity

Limiting sugar in your diet is a well-known key to longevity, because of all the molecules capable of inflicting damage in your body, sugar molecules are probably the most damaging of all. Fructose in particular is an extremely potent pro-inflammatory agent that creates AGEs and speeds up the aging process. It also promotes the kind of dangerous growth of fat cells around your vital organs that are the hallmark of diabetes and heart disease. In one study on fructose, 16 volunteers on a controlled diet including high levels of fructose produced new fat cells around their heart, liver and other digestive organs in just 10 weeks!
Sugar/fructose also increases your insulin and leptin levels and decreases receptor sensitivity for both of these vital hormones, and this is another major factor of premature aging and age-related chronic degenerative diseases such as heart disease. Keep in mind that while it's perfectly normal for your blood sugar levels to rise slightly after every meal, it is not natural or healthy when your blood sugar levels become excessively elevated and stay that way.
Unfortunately, that's exactly what will happen if you're eating like the stereotypical American, who consumes a staggering 2.5 pounds of sugar a week on average!
And when you add in other low-quality carb foods such as white bread, sugar, pasta, pastries, cookies, and candy, which also break down to sugar in your body, it's not so difficult to see why so many Americans are in such poor health.
This type of high-sugar (high-carb) diet is also what's driving the obesity epidemic—not diets high in fat. An infographic created by Column Five for Massive Health, based on Why We Get Fat by science writer Gary Taubes, explains why. In short, carbs, like fructose and other sugars, destroy your insulin and leptin sensitivity, which in turn causes your cells to accumulate more fat, and makes it more difficult to get rid of the extra weight as well. So, the bottom line is this: If you want to look and feel younger longer, avoid all forms of sugar (including grains) as much as possible!

Glycation 101

Fructose adversely affects your body in a number of ways, but one of the mechanisms that causes significant damage is glycation. As already mentioned, glycation is the process in which sugar bonds with protein to form advanced glycation end products, or AGEs.
This process creates inflammation, which can activate your immune system.
Macrophages are scavenger cells that are part of your immune defense system, and as such they have special receptors for AGEs, aptly called RAGEs (think: raging inflammation). These RAGEs bind to the AGEs in your body and get rid of them. Unfortunately, this defensive process can also cause its fair share of damage. Inside your arteries, for example, the scar tissue created from this process is called plaque.
You really want to limit the AGEs in your body as much as possible, so your immune system won't have to work so hard to defend against them. As a standard recommendation to limit glycation, I strongly advise keeping your TOTAL fructose consumption below 25 grams per day.
However, most people would be wise to limit their fructose to 15 grams or less, particularly if you have elevated uric acid levels, which can be used as a predictor for fructose toxicity. (For more information on this, please see this previous article.) This includes keeping track of your fructose intake from whole fruits. For additional information about the fructose content of common fruits, please see this helpful fructose chart. I recommend this lower level simply because if you consume processed foods or sweet beverages at all, you're virtually guaranteed to consume "hidden" sources of fructose.

Fructose Metabolism Basics

Anyone who still insists that "sugar is sugar" is way behind the times... There are in fact major differences in how your body processes different sugars, and it's important to understand that when you consume fructose, your body packs on pounds at a much higher rate than it does when you consume glucose. The following summary details the main metabolic differences between fructose and glucose to help you understand how fructose can wreak such havoc with your health, and why it's considerably worse for you than glucose:
  • After eating fructose, nearly all of the metabolic burden rests on your liver. But with glucose, your liver has to break down only 20 percent.
  • Every cell in your body, including your brain, utilizes glucose. Therefore, much of it is "burned up" immediately after you consume it. By contrast, fructose is primarily converted into free fatty acids (FFAs), VLDL (the damaging form of cholesterol), and triglycerides, which get stored as fat.
  • The fatty acids created during fructose metabolism accumulate as fat droplets in your liver and skeletal muscle tissues, causing insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Insulin resistance progresses to metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes.
  • Fructose is the most lipophilic carbohydrate. In other words, fructose converts to activated glycerol (g-3-p), which is directly used to turn FFAs into triglycerides. The more g-3-p you have, the more fat you store. Glucose does not do this.
  • When you eat 120 calories of glucose, less than one calorie is stored as fat. 120 calories of fructose results in 40 calories being stored as fat. Fructose is essentially largely converted into fat!
  • The metabolism of fructose by your liver creates a long list of waste products and toxins, including a large amount of uric acid, which triggers your "fat switch," causing you to gain more weight.
  • Glucose does not do this, as it suppresses the hunger hormone ghrelin and stimulates leptin, which suppresses your appetite. Fructose has no effect on ghrelin and interferes with your brain's communication with leptin, resulting in overeating.

How to Tame Your Sugar Cravings

As mentioned earlier, I recommend that you avoid as much sugar as possible. Do your best to keep your fructose consumption below 15-25 grams a day. This is especially important if you are overweight or have diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure.
Sugar is highly addictive, so cutting down can be a real challenge for some, especially if you're consuming very high amounts. If you're struggling with sugar addiction, I highly recommend trying an energy psychology technique called Turbo Tapping, which has helped many "soda addicts" kick their sweet habit. If you still want to use a sweetener occasionally, here's what I recommend in lieu of sugar:
  1. Use the sweet herb stevia.
  2. Use organic cane sugar in moderation.
  3. Use organic raw honey in moderation.
  4. Avoid ALL artificial sweeteners, which can damage your health even more quickly than fructose.
  5. Avoid agave syrup since it is a highly processed sap that is almost all fructose. Your blood sugar will spike just as it would if you were consuming regular sugar or HFCS. Agave's meteoric rise in popularity is due to a great marketing campaign, but any health benefits present in the original agave plant are processed out.

The Anti-Aging Lifestyle

Of all the healthy lifestyle strategies I know of that can have a significant impact on your longevity, normalizing your insulin and leptin levels is probably the most important. Cutting out sugar and grains and increasing exercise are two effective ways to accomplish that.
But to truly optimize your longevity and slow down the clock, your entire lifestyle needs to be taken into account. So, here are the rest of my top "anti-aging" recommendations. Incorporating these healthy lifestyle guidelines will help set you squarely on the path to optimal health and give you the best shot at living a much longer life:
  • Learn how to effectively cope with stress – Stress has a direct impact on inflammation, which in turn underlies many of the chronic diseases that kill people prematurely every day, so developing effective coping mechanisms is a major longevity-promoting factor.
    Meditation, prayer, physical activity and exercise are all viable options that can help you maintain emotional and mental equilibrium. I also strongly believe in using energy psychology tools such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to address deeper, oftentimes hidden emotional problems.
  • Eat a healthy diet focused on whole, ideally organic, foods – My nutrition plan, based on natural whole foods, is your first step toward increasing your chances of living a longer, healthier life.
  • Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels. This is another very powerful and inexpensive intervention that can have profound benefits on your health. In the summer you can do this for free by careful and safe sun exposure. In the winter a therapeutic level of oral vitamin D can be achieved with an oral supplement (around 8,000 units of vitamin D3 a day for most adults)
  • Animal based omega-3 fats – Correcting the ratio of omega-3 to healthful omega-6 fats is a strong factor in helping you live longer. This typically means increasing your intake of animal based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil, while decreasing your intake of damaged omega-6 fats (think trans fats).
    I do not, however, recommend the new prescription strength fish oil medication, sold under the name Lovaza. Don't be fooled by their "all-natural" PR campaign. This is actually a drug to treat very high triglyceride levels. However, as with most other drugs, Lovaza comes with potentially dangerous side effects that you would not experience with a natural fish oil or krill oil supplement. Side effects include flu-like symptoms, infections, back pain, skin rashes, upset stomach, taste changes, digestive issues, chest pain, migraines and respiratory problems!
    Additionally, new research strongly suggests that 500 mg of krill oil is more potent and far less expensive.
  • Get your antioxidants from foods –Good sources include blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, beans, and artichokes.
  • Use coconut oil – Another excellent anti-aging food is coconut oil, known to reduce your risk of heart disease and lower your cholesterol, among other things. In fact, it's doubly beneficial because it can be both eaten and applied directly to your skin. Coconut oil can be used in place of other oils, margarine, butter, or shortening, and can be used for all your cooking needs.
  • Get your resveratrol naturally – Resveratrol is one of the forerunners in the anti-aging pill race, but more than likely, by the time they've manipulated it into a synthetic pill (like the fish oil discussed above), it won't be healthy for you.
    Although resveratrol is the antioxidant found in red wine, I can't recommend drinking wine in the hopes of extending your life because alcohol is a neurotoxin that can poison your brain and harm your body's delicate hormonal balance. Instead, get your resveratrol from natural sources, such as whole grape skins and seeds, raspberries, mulberries, and peanuts.
  • Exercise regularly and smartly -- Studies repeatedly show that regular, moderate-to-vigorous exercise can help prevent or delay your onset of hypertension, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and the falls that lead to hip fracture. Although a lifetime of regular exercise is ideal, it's never too late to start. It's been shown that even individuals in their 70's can substantially increase both strength and endurance with exercise.
    High-intensity, interval training can also increase longevity as this specific style of training promotes human growth hormone production – yet another aspect of the longevity puzzle.
  • Avoid as many chemicals, toxins, and pollutants as possible – This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives.
  • Avoid pharmaceutical drugs – Pharmaceutical drugs kill thousands of people prematurely every year – as an expected side effect of the action of the drug. And, if you adhere to a healthy lifestyle, you most likely will never need any of them in the first place.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

McDonalds and Pepsi Help Write UK Health Policy

Ignore Most Dietary Advice - Follow These Four Steps Instead

The UK Department of Health is putting the fast food companies, processed food companies, and soft drink manufacturers at the heart of writing government policy on obesity.
The companies in question include McDonald's, KFC, PepsiCo, Kellogg's, Unilever, Mars and Diageo.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley has set up five "responsibility deal" networks with businesses to come up with policies. Many say this is the equivalent of putting cancer policy in the hands of tobacco companies.
According to The Guardian:
"The groups are dominated by food and alcohol industry members, who have been invited to suggest measures to tackle public health crises ... In early meetings, these commercial partners have been invited to draft priorities and identify barriers, such as EU legislation, that they would like removed."
The UK Department of health is clearly placing the health and well-being of their citizens in grave danger with this foolish decision. But I can't say I'm surprised. This action is a phenomenal testimony as to just how powerful the food industry is. It certainly rivals the drug cartels as to their pernicious influence on  public health.
In the US, Americans currently spend about 90 percent of their food budgets purchasing processed foods, which offer very little in terms of nutritional value and instead typically contain ingredients that will actually cause you harm. According to a previous article in the New York Times, "no country has embraced the movement toward commercialized, prepackaged food as much as the United States. "
Sure seems that this latest decision is little more than a scheme to drag the UK down the same path of increasing corporate profits while rapidly destroying the health of the British people.

What Does McDonald's, PepsiCo, and Mars Know About Health?

That's an important question that the UK department of health appears to ignore. The evidence showing how processed foods and fast foods destroy health is so overwhelming you'd have to be buried in a Chilean coal mine  to be ignorant of this connection. And yet some of the worst corporate culprits are now supposed to write government health policies to combat obesity, alcohol and diet-related disease!
According to The Guardian:
"The alcohol responsibility deal network is chaired by the head of the lobby group the Wine and Spirit Trade Association.
The food network to tackle diet and health problems includes processed food manufacturers, fast food companies, and Compass, the catering company famously pilloried by Jamie Oliver for its school menus of turkey twizzlers. The food deal's sub-group on calories is chaired by PepsiCo..."
This is blatant folly. Additionally, the board created to oversee the work of these "deal networks" is ALSO dominated by the food, alcohol, advertising and retail industries! So what you end up with is foxes guarding the foxes that guard the hen house...
Making matters even more precarious for the public, The Guardian reports that "one group was told that the health department did not want to lead, but rather hear from its members what should be done."
In essence, the UK health department is giving carte blanche to industry to devise whatever "health recommendations" they see fit, and you can be sure of one thing – these industries will NOT recommend anything that could jeopardize their business! For example, they've already ruled out using pricing of food or alcohol as a strategy to change consumer behavior. What does that tell you? It's quite clear to me that nothing good can come out of this.

Poor Nutrition Drives Declining Health Statistics

It's not hard to predict that public health policies dictated by the likes of McDonald's, PepsiCo and Mars will be far from successful in creating recommendations to successfully curb obesity and diet-related diseases.
How could they? The very existence of these corporations relies on consumers maintaining their purchasing habits! And that's the crux of the public health disaster facing both the US and the UK. We all need to REDUCE our consumption of processed foods, fast foods, sugary snacks and sodas!
None of these types of "food" have any place whatsoever in a health-promoting, nutritious diet.
If you eat a fast-food burger, you can easily take in close to half of your daily caloric requirements. Add in fries and a soda and you may be nearing an entire day's worth of required calories in just one meal! But in that one meal, which is designed to be eaten quickly, on-the-go, you have not received the vitamins and minerals, the live enzymes and micronutrients, the healthy fats or high-quality protein that your body needs to function, let alone thrive...
Regularly eating these types of foods is a prescription for obesity, diabetes, and all the health problems associated with these conditions.
The obesity rate in the US is now nearing 27 percent, more than two out of three are overweight, and 1 in 4 Americans are affected with diabetes or pre-diabetes. If British citizens end up listening to the recommendations that arise from this unholy alliance between the UK health department and industry, British obesity statistics will soon mirror those in the US.
In fact, the UK is already closing in. According to the latest statistics from the UK NHS, a quarter of all adults in the UK are now classified as obese. As of 2008, nearly 17 percent of British boys between the ages of 2 and 15 also fell in the obese category, along with just over 15 percent of all girls.
The report also found that fresh produce purchases fell substantially between 2007 and 2008. Fresh fruit purchases fell by nearly 8 percent, and fresh green vegetables fell by almost 10 percent!
Only 25-29 percent of men and women, respectively, consume the recommended five portions of fruits and vegetables a day, and British children fare even worse when it comes to consuming healthful foods, with less than 20 percent of children consuming the recommended levels of fruits and veggies.

Corruption and Bribes – Business as Usual in the Food Industry

There's a very real danger in letting the food industry call the shots when it comes to establishing public health policies. It just can't work. The food industry, just like the pharmaceutical industry, is fraught with corruption and questionable business practices, including bribery and racketeering schemes. Like other players in big business, those running the food industry are out to make a profit, and often this comes at the expense of your health. Three prominent examples of food industry manipulation include the cases of:
  1. Aspartame
  2. Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH/rbST)
  3. Genetically modified (GM) foods
You can read the entire history of fraud and deception that led to the approval of aspartame here, but, in a nutshell, the evidence that showed aspartame was harmful was ignored or falsified, and the artificial sweetener was pushed through the the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process by a select few who stood to benefit handsomely from its profits.
Ditto for rBGH. The U.S. FDA didn't even require that rBGH be adequately tested before allowing it on the market. And, the fact thatgenetically modified (GM) foods have been allowed to infiltrate the market at all is a major lesson in the corruption of the food industry.
Further, the food crops currently subsidized in the US are corn, wheat, soy and rice. Growing little else but corn and soy means we end up with a fast food diet. In essence, these commodity programs are subsidies for the creation of junk and fast food, not REAL food that could have a positive impact on public health.
In short, regardless of where you live, the food you depend on to survive is slowly being degraded, devalued, and de-humanized by giant corporations and short-sighted, lackadaisical governments. And soon the UK will provide their citizens with even more highly questionable health recommendations fashioned by the very companies that actively created the health crises' of obesity, diabetes and alcohol- and diet-related diseases in the first place...

Take Control of Your Diet and Your Health With these Crucial Four Steps

Folks, whether you live in the US, the UK, or elsewhere, the current madness appears to be Universal... So, what's the answer?
Quite simply, you need to start thinking for yourself, and ignore much, if not most, of the health- and dietary advice you get through the conventional channels. Fortunately, "eating healthy" is actually far easier than most people think. Here's a quick and dirty summary:
  • Focus on raw, fresh foods, and avoid as many processed foods as possible (for those who still have trouble understanding what "processed food" is: if it comes in a can, bottle, or package, and has a list of ingredients, it's processed)
  • Avoid foods that contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) like the plague, but don't just limit it to HFCS, you must limit ALL sources of fructose to less than 25 grams per day, and that includes fruit. If you are taking the average amount of fructose you are consuming three times that or 75 grams. At that level any fruit will cause more harm than good for all but those engaging in unhealthy levels of aerobic cardio activity.
  • Limit or eliminate grain carbohydrates if you have diabetes, are overweight, or have high cholesterol or high blood pressure
  • Replace sodas and other sweetened beverages with clean, pure water
If you're new to healthful living, those four basic steps can put you on the right path toward vastly improved health, regardless of what your government's dietary guidelines are. For my Top 10 Healthy Lifestyle recommendations please see this previous article.

The Best Sources for Safe, Nutritious Foods

Contrary to popular belief, your local grocery store is generally NOT going to be the best source for healthy, fresh food. Rather, the best place to find safe, nutritious food is at your local farm or from your local farmer's market or organic food co-op. If you live in the US, the Coop Directory Service ( can help you find a co-op near you. My web page Promoting Sustainable Agriculturealso lists resources for high-quality produce, meats and other foods in your area. If you're in the UK, check out the Organic Portal( 

For more information, please checkout Dr. Mercola's site

Thursday, February 16, 2012

10 Diet and Exercise Myths that Won't Go Away

Popular misconceptions can damage your fitness plans. Yahoo Shine and CNN have collected some of the most pervasive and damaging fitness-related rumors. Here are some of them:
Myth -- Strength training will bulk you up
In fact, researchers have found that working out with heavy weights increased exercisers' sleeping metabolic rate (the number of calories burned overnight) by nearly 8 percent. That's enough to lose about 5 pounds in a year right there.
Myth -- All calories are equal, so it doesn't matter what you eat
Some foods take more work to eat, and therefore burn more calories while you're digesting them. Eating vegetables and lean cuts of meat can increase your calorie burn by up to 30 percent.
Myth -- Eating fat will make you fat
Getting enough of the right kinds of fat in your diet is actually essential for good health.
Myth -- Diet soda will help you lose weight
Diet soda can increase your risk of metabolic syndrome, a group of symptoms that includes high levels of belly fat, blood sugar, and cholesterol.
Myth – Your cardio machine is counting the calories you're burning
Your elliptical trainer or treadmill cannot accurately gauge how many calories you're burning without knowing your weight, sex and body composition.
Myth -- Low-intensity exercise burns more fat
The more intensely your exercise, the more carbs you burn, and when your body has burned up all the carbs, it starts burning fat.

To see the rest of the tips, you can click on the link below.

Oftentimes mainstream media "myth" lists only perpetuate misinformation (such as CNN's 2010 list of 12 health myths), but in this case both Yahoo Shine and CNN have compiled thoughtful lists that help bust some of the most prevailing myths when it comes to diet and exercise -- and needless to say there's no shortage of these around.
I'm going to touch on some of the most important from the lists below, as well as add a few of my own, since these mistruths can, and do, have a massive impact on tens of thousands, if not millions, of people.

Myth #1: Long Cardio Workouts are the Key to Weight Loss

If you walk into any gym, you'll see most people crowding the aerobics equipment and using the treadmill or elliptical machine for an hour or so, thinking they're getting an excellent workout. I really don't blame them as I was caught up in the same misinformation for over FORTY years and only recently learned that there are FAR better forms of exercise, especially for those who are older than 40.
There is a growing body of excellent scientific research showing that you can perform a significantly SHORTER workout, at a greater intensity, and get BETTER results than the usual, time-consuming cardio routines.
The reason for this is because high-intensity exercises like my Peak 8 program engage a certain group of muscle fibers that you cannot engage through aerobic cardio, and these engaging these muscle fibers cause a cascade of positive health benefits, including improved fat burning.  Peak 8 exercises will also boost your body's natural production of human growth hormone (HGH) which is a vital hormone that is key for physical strength, health and longevity. 
During these high intensity exercises you raise your heart rate up to your anaerobic threshold for 30 seconds, followed by a 90 second recovery period. The cycle is then repeated for a total of eight repetitions -- hence the term "Peak 8."
Another boon of Peak 8 exercises is the amount of time you save. Including a three-minute warm up and two-minute cool down, your total time investment is a mere 20 minutes as opposed to your regular hour-long treadmill session, and you are really only exerting yourself for four minutes.
I've been doing Peak 8 exercises since April 2010 and have shed over 17 pounds of fat and three inches off my waist while gaining more than five pounds of muscle, all while dramatically reducing the time I spend in the gym. For a more in-depth explanation of the peak fitness program, which is a comprehensive exercise plan that also includes strength training, core exercises and stretching, please review this recent article.

Myth #2: Diet and Exercise are Equal When it Comes to Losing Weight

While exercise is important and crucial for weight loss, the foods you choose to eat are THREE times more important for controlling your weight than your exercise. It's very easy to sabotage yourself with sugary foods and beverages, especially those that contain fructose. This includes so-called "healthy" beverages like "vitamin water," energy drinks, and similar types of sports and recovery drinks.
Fructose, which is hidden in virtually every processed food, tricks your body into gaining weight by fooling your metabolism, as it turns off your body's appetite-control system. Fructose does not appropriately stimulate insulin, which in turn does not suppress ghrelin (the "hunger hormone") and doesn't stimulate leptin (the "satiety hormone"), which together result in your eating more and developing insulin resistance.
Fructose also rapidly leads to weight gain and abdominal obesity ("beer belly"), decreased HDL, increased LDL, elevated triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure -- i.e., classic metabolic syndrome. For a nutritious diet that will help your body to naturally return to its optimal weight, without leaving you hungry, find out your nutritional type using this free assessment.

Myth #3: It Doesn't Matter What Time of Day You Exercise

First let me make it clear that any time spent exercising is better than no exercise at all. So if you're extremely busy and can only carve out time for exercise at a set time each day, so be it. But, if you can work it, there is reason to believe that exercising first thing in the morning may give you added benefits (and coincidentally this is also the most convenient time for many).
I'm an advocate of exercising first thing in the morning for two reasons:
  1. It gets done. Despite your best intentions, any number of things can happen in the afternoon and evening, making you skip exercise for "lack of time"
  2. There are additional health benefits to exercising before consuming your first meal of the day
For instance, one recent study found that exercising before breakfast counteracts poor diet and helps with weight loss.
One of the explanations for how exercising on an empty stomach can prevent weight gain and insulin resistance despite overindulgence is that your body's fat burning processes are controlled by your sympathetic nervous system (SNS), and your SNS is activated by exercise and lack of food.
The combination of fasting and exercising maximizes the impact of cellular factors and catalysts (cyclic AMP and AMP Kinases), which force the breakdown of fat and glycogen for energy. This is why training on an empty stomach will effectively force your body to burn fat.
A minor refinement of this though that I have recently adopted is intermittent fasting that will help you build younger brain and muscle tissue. This calls for you to exercise in late AM or early afternoon and remain fasting until 30 minutes after your workout. You can include 20 grams of a fast-assimilating protein like a high-quality whey protein concentrate 30 minutes before if you want.

Myth #4: Diet Foods Will Help You Lose Weight

Stocking your pantry with diet foods is one of the surest ways to lose the battle of the bulge, and this is largely due to the fact that they're loaded with artificial sweeteners. Substances like Splenda and aspartame may have zero calories, but your body isn't fooled. When it gets a "sweet" taste, it expects calories to follow, and when this doesn't occur it leads to distortions in your biochemistry that may actually lead to weight gain.
As far as "sweetness satisfaction" in your brain is concerned, it can tell the difference between a real sugar and an artificial one, even if your conscious mind cannot.
Artificial sweeteners tend to trigger more communication in the brain's pleasure center, yet at the same time provide less actual satisfaction.
So when you consume artificial sweeteners, your body craves more of it and real sugar, because your brain is not satisfied at a cellular level by the sugar imposter! By the way, craving sugar is one of the surest ways to add extra calories to your diet. So avoid artificially sweetened "diet" foods if you care about keeping your weight in check.

Myth #5: You're Destined to Gain Weight as You Get Older

Weight gain is not a rite of passage into your middle-age years, but the problem for many is that weight gain is insidious. It creeps up gradually as you become less active than you were in your 20s and 30s, and suddenly that pound a year has added up to 10, 20 or more extra pounds as you head into your 40s, 50s, 60s or beyond.
Adding to the equation, if you don't stay physically active you will lose muscle mass as you age, starting around age 40.
This loss of muscle means you'll burn fewer calories both when you're active and at rest, plus your body composition will shift to less muscle and more fat. The solution is remarkably simple, however, and does not require plastic surgery like liposuction or even starving yourself on a diet of celery sticks. All you need to do to stay lean and fit well into your older years is eat healthy (see my nutrition plan for a comprehensive guide) and get moving.
As I mentioned earlier, you can virtually guarantee that you will stay slim as you age if you eat right for your nutritional type and follow my Peak Fitness Exercise Program, including Peak 8 exercises. This is your best "prescription" for avoiding middle-age spread.
See Dr. Mercola's site for more information: