A recent Canadian study suggests that this year's flu vaccine offers little or no protection in Canada against becoming sick enough to require medical care. Other health authorities in the US have been putting out that message as well. Here's the link to read the entire article.
While many of the health authorities are pushing anti-vitals to support/replace the flu vaccine, natural health advocates are suggesting that boosting the body's natural immune defenses by eating nutritionally, getting enough sleep, and taking supplements known to boost the immune system to give yourself the best shot (pun intended) at staying healthy this cold and flu season.
Here's a summary of a great article by Dr. Brownstein on his research into the statistics behind the annual flu vaccination drive. Bottom line... the data doesn't support the hype. Here's a few tidbits from his article.
Here's a link to Dr. Brownstein's article including references to the supporting data. Click here.
In a recent article entitled "The Dangers of Our High Protein Obsession", the Paleo diet was identified as a diet that espouses "a hefty amount of protein intake". The article makes some good points on how our increasing protein consumption is part of our health problem. It does appear that our failed "low fat" fad of the last 40 years is being replaced with a "high protein" fad. BUT, it is inaccurate to say that the Paleo diet is high protein.
By it's own definition, the Paleo philosophy I follow recommends approximately 85% of caloric intake should be from fats leaving around 15% for protein and carbohydrates. This means I eat small portions of lean, healthy meat along with generous portions of veggies (such as salads with homemade ranch dressing), nuts, a few legumes and sprouted grain Ezekiel bread (both Paleo "cheats").
Compare the Paleo ratios to the current estimated average 35% caloric intake from protein and you get the sense that Paleo is less about protein intake and more about substituting healthy fats for empty carbs...namely grains and sugar. Looking back to the early 1900's, the Canadian Medical Association was recommending around 10-12% of calories from protein...much more in line with current Paleo thinking.
Popular medical thought is that weight loss is about lowering caloric intake. I believe that a good dietary plan takes into account both ideal weight goals (weight loss) and optimum health (quality of food). For me, a Paleo diet meets both of those needs as I have lost 50 pounds, brought my blood work into normal levels, and most importantly I feel better!
Here's the link for The Dangers of Our High Protein Obsession if you want to know more.
Walk 20 to 25 minutes a day and you could be adding 7 years to your life and improve your health too! This is what a new study from a group of European researchers found. Among other things, daily walking appears to trigger an anti-aging process and helps repair DNA.
In general, exercise has a lot of benefits for us old(ish) folks including acting as an anti-depressant, improvement of cognitive function, and may retard dementia. Exercise may help in many other ways such as improved sleep, chronic pain, stress, improved energy levels, hypertension, resting glucose levels, and immune response.
This is a great article from Mercola on how obesity is quickly overtaking smoking as the leading cause of cancer...
Close to 30% of the world's population is obese and 1 in 5 deaths in the US are now associated with obesity. In the US, 75% of all healthcare costs are associated with obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, dementia, and, of course, cancer.
The hallmarks of obesity are insulin resistance and chronic inflammation. In a recent study, obesity and insulin resistance were strong predictors of many age-related diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, stroke, cancer and all-cause mortality. In fact, in this study none of the non-insulin resistant, middle-age participants developed disease or died while 36% of the most insulin-resistant group died or developed disease! Of course, chronic inflammation has been on of the key indicators for a body fertile for cancer for many years.
Obesity Fast Becoming the #1 Cause of Cancer
According to cancer specialists who discussed the trend at this year's American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference in Chicago, obesity and insulin resistance may supplant smoking as the leading cause of cancer in the next 10 years for 10 of the major cancers.
Researchers Beginning to Recognize the Power of Diet over Drugs
This is a significant change in a the approach to a disease that has always been touted something with mysterious causes driven by genetics only treatable with potentially toxic and marginally successful drugs, surgeries, and radiation. Recent research shows that we have more control via diet and lifestyle which in turn controls how our genetics express themselves (epigenetic).
Sugar is the biggest culprit. For example, in a 15-year long study, which included data for 31,000 Americans, found that those who consumed 25 percent or more of their daily calories as sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who got less than 10 percent of their calories from sugar.
In my own journey, I limit my daily sugar intake to around 10 grams/day. For comparison, a 16 oz soda can have 40 grams of sugar. Since my lifestyle change which include extreme limitation of sugar, grains, and processed foods, my I lost 30 pounds in three months at which point my weight, blood sugar, and blood pressured leveled at normal levels. But you can't believe how many people asked me if I had cancer. I think Americans as a whole are so used to seeing each other overweight that a healthy person looks ill!
Mercola's article has a lot more detail and references so click here if you want to read more...
Well it's the government but still I wish they would just stay out of peoples' business...
There were positive moves in the recently published 2015 Dietary Guidelines including exonerating the egg. There has been research for some time that intake of dietary cholesterol did not affect blood serum levels of cholesterol. Still the egg and many other foods got a bad rap for being "unhealthy". Well, the egg is back in the good graces of the government. I'm sure eggs everywhere are expressing sigh of relief!
Of course, the egg still has one bad mark against it: saturated fat. The panel responsible for the guidelines still believe that saturated fat is a key component to promoting heart disease and obesity. While I agree that trans fats (mostly man-made, processed fats and oils) are harmful, the naturally occurring saturated fats from eggs, (raw) dairy, nuts, avocado, (unrefined) coconut and other nut oils, and grass-fed meat are essential to maintaining healthy weight and metabolism. Current (non-government) sources recommend that we get 50-80 percent of calories from healthy fats while the guidelines are still recommending to keep this number below 10 percent.
My personal experience using a modified Paleo diet which suggests deriving 85+ percent of calories from fats is that these healthy fats are the key to dietary success and long-term changes to my eating habits. Specifically, I changed from a carb/sugar satisfaction diet to a fat satisfaction diet. I eat less and don't gain weight (I actually lost 30 pounds at the beginning before leveling at a healthy weight level). My resting blood sugar has leveled between 85 and 95 and my blood pressure runs around 115/75...all without prescription drugs!
One other positive change in the Dietary Guidelines was regarding artificial sweeteners. They panel finally agreed with predominant research that artificial sweeteners do not promote weight loss. But they said that they were OK in moderation. Why?...just drinking the high fructose sugar water is probably healthier! Aspartame has the highest number of complaints of any product the FDA oversees and there has been research of the negative neurological effects of the artificial sweetener.
I use stevia as my sweetener of choice. It's natural and has no known side effects including no negative effects on blood sugar levels. I use the liquid drops to sweeten my iced tea (a Texas food group!) and make my own sodas by adding the flavored drops to a natural seltzer such as Blue Sky. They even have a cola flavor.
If you want to know more about the 2015 Food Guidelines from the natural health perspective, click here.