Weighing The Percentages

In November of 2015, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), released statistics for the “Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults and Youths: United States, 2011-2014.

During this time period, the prevalence of obesity was:

  • For adults: slightly over 36%
  • For youths: 17%
  • For women: 38.3%
  • For men: 34.3%
  • For youths: no difference was seen by sex.
  • Obesity was higher for middle-aged, 40.2%, and older, 37.0%, adults than for younger adults, 32.3%

For detailed information, please visit the CDC link.

We know the obesity rates having been going up despite the heavy emphasis on calories in/calories out, exercising more, watching your fat intake, (feel free to add your own), etc.

I like this quote from Gary Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories: “Once the ‘truth’ has been declared, even if it’s based on incomplete evidence, the overwhelming tendency is to interpret all future observations in support of that preconception. Those who know what the answer is lack the motivation to continue looking for it. Entire fields of science may then be ignored, on the assumption that they can’t possibly be relevant.”

With Taubes’ thought in mind, I believe the time has come to take a step back and acknowledge the fact that the above beliefs (calories in/calories out, exercising more, watching your fat intake, etc.) about weight loss/obesity that have been drummed into our heads for decades are wrong. Think about it. The result of using these beliefs as the basis for fat loss for all these years—obesity rates still continue to rise.

Let’s break the cycle. The time has come for a new perspective. More on this in 2016.

A Simple Step

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is the part of the nervous system that controls involuntary functions such as your heart rate, digestion, hormones, etc.; this system works without us having to think about it.

The ANS has two branches—the sympathetic (SNS) and the parasympathetic (PNS). The SNS is responsible for the fight-or-flight response. Thus, stressful situations will active this system; one way being through the release of stress hormones. Perhaps you’ve heard, our bodies cannot tell the difference between an actual threat and a perceived one.

The PNS opposes the SNS—hence the relaxation response which supports such functions as digestion, repair, and the release of hormones such as growth and sex.

The SNS and PNS balance each other. Unfortunately, we live in a high-stress world, and when the SNS becomes over-active, think of issues like the breakdown of body tissue and fatigue, our bodies are thrown out of balance.

On a daily basis, we are reminded of the negative aspects of stress such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure—you are in SNS mode.

A simple trick to shift into PNS mode (again, the relaxation response) is to concentrate on your breathing and make you exhalations longer than your inhalations. Try to do this for at least five breaths when you’re in a stressful situation. Notice I’m not adding to your stress by asking you to count breaths or the length of them.

With this simple step, you’re tricking your body to shift from the SNS’s fight/flight mode to the PNS’s relaxation response. Remember your body cannot tell the difference between real and perceived stress.

Give this a try; I believe you’ll find yourself beginning to relax.

Uniquely You

In “Could Your Healthy Diet Make Me Fat?,” David S. Ludwig writes about an Israeli personalized nutrition study that “. . . suggested that dieters may be mistakenly eating a lot of some foods, like tomatoes, that are good for most people, but bad for them. And it raises the possibility that an individualized approach to nutrition could eventually supplant national guidelines meant for the entire public.”

He also refers to one headline stating “this diet study upends everything we thought we knew about ‘healthy’ food.”

Ludwig ends his piece by saying,

“Despite the hype, personalized nutrition is not ready for practical application in the clinic. But this exciting field of research may help explain why people respond so differently to diet based on biology. In this way, personalized nutrition may build upon, rather than substitute for, national dietary guidelines, providing a common ground for all sides in the ‘diet war’ to declare a truce.”

A personalized nutrition approach is already in place. I was glad to read Ludwig’s opinion, because for the last nine plus years, I have been an Advanced Metabolic Typing® Advisor, and Metabolic Typing® has been around for over 37 years.

Simply put, did you know you are actually very different, biochemically speaking, from every other person who ever was or ever will be? It’s true. Your body’s biochemical makeup is as unique as your fingerprints!

For genetic reasons, we’re all very different in the way that our bodies process foods and utilize nutrients. Throughout man’s evolutionary history, people all over the world have been forced to adapt to widely varying environmental circumstances, including very different climates and food supplies.

As an example, traditional Inuit thrive on very large quantities of meat and fat, while people born in the tropics stay healthy eating fruits and grains and other light vegetarian fare. Do you know your unique genetically based nutritional needs?

Keeping the above in mind, think about the following situations you may have found yourself in:

  • You want to lose weight, so you try your best friend’s diet. She loses 35 pounds quickly, but you can’t seem to shed an ounce.
  •  Your friend, the vegetarian, thrives on pasta and vegetables and has boundless energy. But when you imitate his diet, your energy plummets, and you can hardly drag yourself out of bed.
  • You eat all the best foods, take only the finest quality supplements, you exercise and lead a healthy lifestyle. Yet you still don’t feel well.
  • You believe in nutrition, but you’ve given up on it. It’s impossible to make sense of the confusing and contradictory information flooding the market.

Once you identify your metabolic type, you’ll know how to select just the right “body fuel:” foods, food combinations, and nutrients that will enable your body to function at peak efficiency. Through this approach, you also may:

  • Optimize your physical energy and your mental clarity.
  • Lose weight naturally and maintain your ideal weight.
  • Strengthen your immunity.
  • Slow down the aging process.
  • Enhance athletic performance.
  • Overcome mood swings and depression.

With Metabolic Typing®, you can put an end to the confusion about what diet is right for you. If you’re interested in learning more about Metabolic Typing®, please contact us through our website My Body Physics. LLC. Thank you.

4 Questions

In The New York Times’ November 22, 2015 Sunday Review, Ezekiel J. Emanuel, an oncologist and vice provost at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote an opinion piece, “Are Good Doctors Bad for Your Health?” In it, he discusses a Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine analysis of 10 years of data: “It found that patients with acute, life-threatening cardiac conditions did better when the senior cardiologists were out of town.”   Dr. Emanuel points out there are no explanations for this fact.

Toward the end of his piece, Dr. Emanuel offers good advice; he says there are four questions patients should ask whenever their doctors are proposing an intervention (“whether an X-ray, genetic test, or surgery”). The four questions are:

  1. “What difference will it make? Will the test results change our approach to treatment?”
  2. “How much improvement in terms of prolongation of life, reduction in risk of a heart attack or other problem is the treatment actually going to make?”
  3. “How likely and severe are the side effects?”
  4. “Is the hospital a teaching hospital?” The reason for this, “The JAMA Internal Medicine study found that mortality was higher overall at nonteaching hospitals.”

Given the time constraints placed on medical professionals today, we need to be our own health advocates. It’s our health—the clock be damned. Don’t be shy about asking questions, and if necessary, ask for clarification and ask again. Get all the available information before making a decision, and if necessary, ask for a second opinion.

Something’s Fishy

In two previous posts, September 21, GMOS & GE—“Different Names, Same Process” and October 12, “The Right To Choose,” I discuss genetically-engineered food. In the latter post, I state: “I want to know how my food was grown as well as the food sources. I believe Congress does not have the right, under the influence of agribusinesses or anyone else, to eliminate my right of choice. Once again, what are these companies trying to hide?”

Now I must address the same remarks to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Last Thursday, they approved genetically-engineered salmon for human consumption, and they said the salmon wouldn’t have to carry a label specifying it as genetically modified. Why? The law for labeling only applies to the “material” aspects of food, and guess what, under the current guidelines, genetic engineering isn’t a substance.

Since these salmon would be raised in a production facility in Panama, I have some thoughts on various aspects of these genetically-engineered fish. In no set order:

  • Farm-raised fish have a different omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acid ratio than wild fish have—for farm-raised the ratio shifts to a higher omega 6 (inflammatory) content over a omega 3 (anti-inflammatory) content. Thus, eating farm-raised fish greatly reduce the omega 3 health benefits of eating fish. In addition, American diets are already too high in omega 6 fats.
  • What type of testing was performed to deem these salmon safe for us to eat? What are the potential long-term ramifications (I’m talking years) of eating such fish? As I have previously asked, “Do you want to be the experiment?” Please note, it will be at least two years before these fish become available.
  • Since these fish are being raised in Panama, are the safety standards less stringent or more stringent than those in the United States?
  • Since they will be farmed-raised, what type of feed will they be fed? Chances are the cheaper, the better for profits. Again, what safety standards would be used for the feed?
  • Since these salmon will be raised in tanks, antibiotics and other drugs will probably be used to fight infections/parasites.  Thus, you would be eating tainted food.
  • Also, think of these tanks as being similar to the farming methods used in the commercial livestock industry. Not a pretty picture.
  • Even though these tanks will be inland and the fish sterilized (the technique isn’t 100% effective), can the company absolutely guarantee a fish won’t escape and negatively impact wild salmon?

In connection with my above thoughts, I have an update regarding my September 21 post on the H.R. 1599 bill: “What you might not be aware of is the House of Representatives passed “The Safe and Accurate Food labeling Act” (H.R. 1599) in July of this year that would, among other things, ban states from passing laws requiring the labeling of GMO foods. Interestingly, this act has been referred to by opponents of the legislation as the Deny Americans the Right to Know Act (DARK Act).”

This bill still has not been introduced in the Senate. But Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan would like to see the legislation passed by the Senate by the end of the year.

If you’re not pleased with the above developments, please speak up and demand your right to know.  Thank you.

Change Is Happening

In previous posts, I talk about taking charge of your food choices by letting the food corporations know your vote by what you put in your shopping cart. We may question if we truly have any power—we do! Remember, David defeated Goliath.

Because of consumer demand for healthier options, the following are some of the positive changes currently happening:

  • General Mills is eliminating all artificial flavors and colors from their cereals.
  • Since 2000, packaged cereals sales are down 25%.
  • Kraft is removing artificial dyes from its macaroni and cheese.
  • Poultry companies (Perdue, Tyson, & Foster Farms) are limiting the use of antibiotics.
  • Since 1998, soda sales are down 25%—usually being replaced by water.
  • McDonald’s sales have been steady decreasing.
  • Forty-two percent of consumers, age 20-37, don’t trust food companies.
  • Campbell’s new version of its chicken noodle soup contains 20 ingredients, down from 30.
  • Connecting with the above, most soup sales are stagnant, but organic soups sales are on the rise.

The above information comes from articles in The New York Times—Hans Taparia and Pamela Koch’s opinion piece, “A Seismic Shift in How People Eat” and Stephanie Strom’s business article, “Campbell Rethinks Its Soup Recipe as Consumer Tastes Change.

I can offer commentary on some of the above points, but today I’m focusing on the fact we are making a difference. Yes, I wish it was happening faster—I still celebrate the progress being made in the right direction. Let the work continue.

Avoid, If At All Possible

On October 5 of this year, Jim Murphy, president of General Mills cereal business, announced the recall of boxes of gluten-free Cheerios™ and Honey Nut Cheerios™ on the company’s blog: “. . . this recall is necessary because an undeclared allergen—wheat—with potential adverse health effects may be present in cereals we produced on several dates in Lodi [CA], in July.” According to the company, wheat flour was inadvertently added to their “gluten-free oat flour system.” General Mills called this a “human error.”

Murphy also stated: “We have long said we would address any issue if we ever found we were making cereal that wasn’t meeting our gluten-free standard—and today that became necessary.” He goes on: “We are testing all finished products. We’ve also instituted additional flour-handling protocols at all facilities to ensure this will never happen again.”

Interestingly, he doesn’t say if this inspection process was in place prior to the contamination in July or put into place after it occurred? If it was in place prior to the incident, wouldn’t the error have been detected? Could this incident actually be the result of a procedural error?

Knowing people with celiac disease this error is a serious one, because precautions against cross contamination are critical to protect the health of such individuals—I know someone with celiac who has a four-slice toaster in their kitchen; the two right slots are only used for gluten-free bread.

Most people think a gluten reaction only affects the digestive tract; think again. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity exists, and some symptoms of this condition are: joint pain, foggy thinking, headaches, and numbness in arms, legs, fingers. Are you currently experiencing any of these issues? Do you ever think you might have gluten sensitivity?

I have no idea of the design and setup of the General Mills gluten-free facilities. I know the government has strict standards for gluten free—less than 20 parts per million (ppm) in foods that carry the gluten-free label. Some questions: What was wheat flour doing at a gluten-free facility especially given government standards and the risk of cross contamination? Was the wheat flour clearly marked? How distinctive is its packaging from the one for gluten-free oat flour?

A lawsuit now exists in California over this General Food error for “deceptive, unfair, and false advertising and merchandising practices.” This will be an interesting case to follow.

How can we protect ourselves? The only safe way I see, if at all possible, is to avoid packaged/processed food and eat only whole, fresh foods (no labels required). Extreme? We each have to decide the risks we’re willing to take regarding our food sources.

Not By Taste Alone

I use a variety of approaches when I work with clients. One of them focuses on my clients’ thoughts/beliefs surrounding food and examining such areas as who they are as eaters, feelings that trigger eating, one’s fullness mindset as well as how their perceptions of food affect their lives and their weight. Through such inquiries, one realizes the concept of willpower goes out the window.

An intriguing article in the November 2 issue of The New Yorker, Nicola Twilley’s “Accounting For Taste,” expanded my thoughts about how we perceive food. She writes about Charles Spence’s (a professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University) research—“. . . Spence said, consumers are constantly, if unwittingly, proving his point that taste can be altered through color, shape, or sound alone.” Please read the piece when you have a chance.

Some Spence’s findings:

  • “Strawberry-flavored mousse tastes ten percent sweeter when served from a white container rather than a black one.”
  • Coffee tastes nearly twice as intense but only two-thirds as sweet when it’s drunk from a white mug rather than a clear glass one.”
  • Adding two and half ounces to the weight of a plastic yogurt container makes the yogurt seem about twenty-five percent more filling.”
  • “. . . curve shapes can enhance sweetness . . . cheesecake tasted twenty percent sweeter when it was eaten from a round white plate rather than a square one.”
  • “. . . participants perceived salty popcorn as tasting sweet when served in a red bowl.”
  • Soup presented in a blue container can make food seem “significantly saltier.”

And you thought you could rely on just your taste buds.

Yes, food companies are in contact with him—“Spence estimates that seventy-five percent of his work is industry-funded.” Spence’s above comment about altering taste through color, shape, or sound connects to how food corporations manipulate our taste buds through their manipulation of the sugar, salt, and fat contents in their processed foods. It’s all about profits and to keep us coming back for more and more and more . . . .

Please note, Spence also wants his research to be used in beneficial ways. For example, he is working with a children’s cancer center to tweak the eating environment to counter the metallic taste of food and nausea which are common chemotherapy side effects.

The grocery store has become a minefield. How do we maneuver our way through it? One way is to avoid as much processed, packaged food as we can and to eat quality organic, whole foods whenever possible. Another way it is educate ourselves about how food corporations are manipulating us. As I mentioned in my posts about the The Clean Fifteen™ (6/8/15)) list or The Dirty Dozen™ (6/4/15) list, we need to think twice about what we place in our grocery carts.

So Quiet You Could Hear . . . .

Please accompany me on a chain reaction of sounds, thoughts, and connections.

Our lives have a constant soundtrack; shifting between melodious, cacophonous, subliminal, annoying, pleasant, etc. Given this, it’s hard to escape the pulse. About a year ago, a house behind us underwent a major renovation. Every day (yes, even Sundays) our lives were accompanied by the ever-present sounds of buzz saws, hammering, and chain saws added to the perennial sound announcing the ending of fall—the leaf blower.

At times, just before going to bed, my wife would say, “Listen,” and we become aware of silence. How often do you have the opportunity to experience quiet during your day? When was the last time? How long did it last? Were you comfortable with it? Or did it grate on your nerves? Did you have difficulty just being quiet with yourself?

Having trained people in various gyms, I adjusted to the reality that the music, usually blaring, is an integral part of the experience. In fact, for many people this beat is motivation and just as important as the weights they’re lifting. I once worked in a facility where the speakers were on the floor, and the volume was so loud I had to talk directly into my clients’ ears just to be heard by them. No wonder being employed in such environments made me relish silence.

I enjoy finding quiet respites to my day; upon leaving them, the jarring cacophony of modern life returns. When you’ve had similar experiences: Do you feel your stress returning? Do you tense up? Find it harder to concentrate? Then, your body is sending clear messages to you regarding the importance of quiet in your life.

In an essay “The Joy of Quiet,” Pico Iyer, says about himself: “I’ve yet to use a cellphone, and I’ve never Tweeted or entered Facebook. I try not to go online till my day’s writing is finished, and I moved from Manhattan to rural Japan in part so I could more easily survive for long stretches entirely on foot, and every trip to the movies would be an event.” Iyer also writes about how for more than 20 years he goes to a Benedictine hermitage a few times a year to have some distance from the world.

We may not wish to or have the luxury to live as Iyer does. What I take away from him and my reactions as I leave quiet surroundings to reenter my daily life is a very clear message to find pockets of silence during the day to escape the bombardment of all the chatter of our everyday existence. To discover the quiet in between the noise. Find, relish, and nurture it.

Looking At All The Numbers

Last Wednesday, The New England Journal of Medicine published a new study that was the culmination of a ten-year investigation regarding the number of emergency room visits due to the use of dietary supplements—sixty-three emergency room departments were used. The results of this study—23,000 visits and 2,154 hospitalizations per year. The main culprits were weight loss and energy supplements.

Such studies bring out criticism that consumers are not being protected from harm. These complaints also like to highlight the 1994 federal law stating supplements are considered safe until proven otherwise.

First and foremost, all emergency room visits and hospitalizations are regrettable.

As you know from my previous posts, I’m a firm believer in looking at a wider canvas. Regarding the above 1994 law, please refer to my post on GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) on June 18 of this year—a food ingredient does not have to be listed on a label if it has not caused harm. Remember it’s the food companies that perform the testing.

If we look at problems with nutritional supplements, light must also be cast on the potentially dangerous effects of prescription drugs (Rx) and over-the-counter medications (OTC); some examples:

  • A 2009 Drug Abuse Warning Network Report states 4.6 million drug-related (Rx, OTC, supplements) emergency room visits per year.
  • A 2006 NBC report states that 1.5 million drug errors are made per year in hospitals, nursing homes, and doctors’ offices.
  • A 1998 report on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) states over 100,000 hospitalizations and 16,500 deaths per year occurred because of these medications.
  • In July 2000, The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study reporting 20-30% of patients receive contraindicated care and 44,000 to 98,000 die each year due to medical errors.

As the above show, numerous studies and statistics can be used to highlight the dangers surrounding Rx, OTC, supplements, and medical care.

We must be careful when reading about such studies to remember that the numbers are reflecting one study, and we must ask ourselves is the media manipulating us to have us jump to certain conclusions. In my mind, attention should be paid to the problems, issues, and solutions in all the various aspects of health, wellness, and well-being.