xanthohumol hops beer diabetes obesity hypertension cancer

Attention Beer Drinkers: Compound found in Hops lowers cholesterol, blood sugar and weight gain

If you’re a health & fitness nerd like myself, you already know that metabolic syndrome (abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, high serum triglycerides and/or low HDL cholesterol) is fast becoming the #1 health concern around the globe.

img_img_9781587798054_metabolic_syndrome_chartIf you’re a beer lover, you already know that one of the main ingredients in beer is hops.


What you may not know is that, a recent study at Oregon State University has identified specific intake levels of xanthohumol, a natural flavonoid found in hops, significantly improved some of the underlying markers of metabolic syndrome in laboratory animals and also reduced weight gain.

Unfortunately for the beer drinkers out there, while xanthohumol is found in beer, it would take 3,500 pints per day for a 70 kg /  human to get enough xanthohumol as was used in the study.

And I’m pretty sure that the calories found in 3,500 pints of beer would counteract all of the health benefits of the xanthohumol.


What is Xanthohumol and how does it work?

  • Xanthohumol is a natural flavonoid found in hops and beer.
  • As it pertains to metabolic syndrome, xanthohumol has been shown to decrease levels of LDL (the “bad” cholesterol), lower insulin levels and reduce levels of IL-6, a biomarker of systemic inflammation.
  • And if that wasn’t enough, there is research hinting that xanthohumol may be a potent anti-cancer agent.

How cool is that…a substance, found naturally in beer, may turn out to be a potent (and inexpensive) way to prevent obesity, prevent type 2 diabetes, prevent hypertension, prevent cholesterol jammed arteries…and prevent obesity.


What does this research mean to me…right NOW????

Not a whole heck of a lot.

  • On one hand, you can go online and buy xanthohumol supplements.
  • On the other hand, all of the research conducted on xanthohumol has been done on animals – no human studies. As a result, we have no idea of effective dosage and SAFETY.

My advice?  Stay tuned for more research.


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Springtime: Time for Cleansing?

Ahhhhhhh, the first day of spring.

The time of year when we say goodbye to snow and parkas and snow and cold and snow….and turn towards the ugly truth that hibernating for three months has resulted in a few extra pounds of body-fat.

For us northerners, this period of winter-hibernation is pretty natural. Kinda like a bear.

Unfortunately, unlike our ursine friends, you (and I) don’t have the ability to slow down (and speed up) our metabolisms as the seasons change. As a result, homo sapiens need to take some external steps to un-do the damage caused by a winter of sloth and comfort eating.

And because this physique neglect is fairly universal in cold-weather climates, spring-time presents an annual opportunity for health/fitness/nutrition companies peddling products designed to help us reverse the effects of our winter sloth.

Unlike the January onslaught of diet books, spring is dedicated to cleansing.

What is cleansing?

According to Wikipedia, cleansing is alternative medicine “approach that claims to rid the body of “toxins” – accumulated harmful substances that allegedly exert undesirable effects on individual health in the short or long term. Detoxification usually includes one or more of: dieting, fasting, consuming exclusively or avoiding specific foods (such as fats, carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, juices, herbs, or water), colon cleansing, chelation therapy, or the removal of dental fillings.

According to my naturopath, nutritionist, osteopath, alternative medicine pals, cleansing is a practice where you…

  1. Reduce stress on your body by dieting, fasting, colon cleansing and/or eliminating “stressful” foods
  2. Supporting your physical body via herbs, vitamins, minerals, etc
  3. Supporting your mental/emotional/spiritual body by meditating, praying or any other practice that helps you become more conscious of yourself.

Note – most mainstream cleansing programs focus on the diet and supplements. Probably because it’s hard to package meditation and/or prayer in a box. Kidding aside, step #3 can be quite personal and is pretty hard to sell to a mainstream audience. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. It can be as simple as sitting still for 5 minutes a day and paying attention to your breath.

Still Interested in Cleansing?

Before you run out to the health food store and buy a cleansing kit, lets take a close look at what makes a cleanse a cleanse so that you can better understand what type of cleanse works best for you.

Part 1 – Reducing Stress on Your Physical Body

This aspect of cleansing is all about taking a break from your normal patterns of eating, drinking, inhaling, etc. This means…

  • Eating less food – dieting and/or fasting
  • Eating healthier foods – reducing processed foods, reducing harder to digest foods (animal protein), supplementing with vitamins, mineral, herbs, etc to give your body all of the “stuff” it needs to be as healthy as possible.
  • Drinking healthier drinks – say yes to water and tea – reduce or say no to booze, dairy, coffee, energy drinks, soft drinks, etc.
  • Stop smoking (tobacco, etc)
  • Clean out all of the junk you have collected in your colon via a colonic or an herbal/fibre cleanse. I know it sounds gross, but there is a lot of data (scientific & non-scientific) linking leaky gut syndrome to a whole host of inflammatory conditions. And while there is little scientific proof backing up the efficacy of colonic cleansing, I have spoke with far too many people who speak highly on a colon cleanse to dismiss it out of hand. The idea is that you clear out a lot of the residual “stuff” that can line the walls of the colon possibly leading to leaky gut/diverticulosis/etc.

Note: There is no science backing up the claims being made by proponents of colonic cleansing. However, there is no science indicating that an herbal cleanse can cause you any harm. This treatment modality is 100% up to you.

Part 2 – Heal Your Physical Body

In Part 1 of a cleanse, you are removing “harmful” substances, foods, habits from your life. In Part 2, you are giving your body an abundance of healing nutrients to supercharge your body’s ability to maintain perfect health.

We’re talking vitamins, minerals, enzymes, high ORAC fruit & vegetables (whole & supplements), healthy oils, herbs and lots and lots of water.

Note: A lot of cleansing kits focus on supplements designed to support liver function as the liver’s main job is to filter junk out of our bodies. And while supporting liver function makes sense to me, I prefer to take a more wholistic view of the body. The liver doesn’t work in isolation. Your kidneys, lungs & skin also play a role in removing toxins from your body. If we’re cleansing the entire body, shouldn’t we support the entire body.

Part 3 – Supporting/Cleansing Your Mental/Emotional/Physical Body

You won’t find any mention of Part 3 in any cleansing kit you pick up at your local health food store. And I won’t be offended if you skip this part of the article altogether.

But…if you’re going to all the trouble of dieting/fasting/colon cleansing and popping supplements to help your physical body operate better…can’t you find a few minutes in the day to make yourself a little bit calmer…a little bit happier…a little bit less stressed out???

You’re ready to start cleansing…now what?

  • Start by deciding if you want to buy a “cleansing kit” or you want to DIY it. It’s up to you and your personality. Some people do better following a pre-set program (buy a kit at the health food store, buy a cleansing book, do the Master Cleanse, etc) while others would rather come up with a plan that fits THEIR lifestyle and personal likes/dislikes.
  • Know that all cleansing plans are offering some combination of Parts 1 & 2 that I outlined above. All of them. The Master Cleanse reduces calories, keeps water consumption up and claims that the lemon & pepper cleanses your system while the maple syrup provides necessary nutrients. The Cleanse-in-a-box kit from the drugstore tells you to cut calories, eat your veggies and pop their pills with lots of water. What they are telling you to do is very simple. They make their money selling you the associated products/services. Don’t be fooled into thinking they have some secret knowledge.
  • Now that you have looked behind the wizard’s curtain and understand what makes a cleanse a cleanse, take a look at a bunch of cleansing products. Do they make sense to you? Do they jive with your lifestyle? Do they cost too much money? Do you need all the bells & whistles. Be critical. Use that big homo sapiens brain of yours.
  • Find a friend to cleanse with you. Misery loves company and it is easier to stick to a cleanse if someone else is doing it with you.
  • Pick a start date and an end date. Get everything prepared for your start date. If you’re not prepared – food, supplements, tupperware, etc – you’re gonna fail.
  • If you fail to complete your full cleanse, don’t worry about it. However long you stuck to the plan did some good for your body. Be proud of that….and then get ready to start the cleanse again. You can do it.


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Look Younger, Be Healthier, Be Happier, Live Longer…with Blue Zone’s Dan Buettner

Today’s post is a bit of a departure for Health Habits.

Instead of me rambling on about how you can look younger, be healthier, be happier, live longer, I am going to post a Twitter Chat that I just had with one of my own personal health & fitness experts –  Dan Buettner, founder, author and CEO of Blue Zones

For those of you unfamiliar with Dan and/or his work promoting lifestyle habits associated with Blue Zones around the world, Blue Zone is a concept to identify a demographic and/or geographic area of the world where people live measurably longer lives.

The concept grew out of demographic work done by Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain, who identified Sardinia’s Nuoro province as the region with the highest concentration of male centenarians. As the two men zeroed in on the cluster of villages with the highest longevity, they drew concentric blue circles on the map and began referring to the area inside the circle as the Blue Zone.

Note – In an effort to introduce you to some of the people that I am influenced by, I will be posting more of these Look Younger, Be Healthier, Be Happier, Live Longer articles in the future. Some will follow the Twitter Chat format, others will be more of a traditional Q & A.

If you want me to interview someone in particular, feel free to leave a comment.

Okay…here’s my chat with Blue Zone’s Dan Buettner.

3 Pieces of Fantastic Fitness Equipment

I am a giant fitness geek. This means that when I see a new piece of fitness equipment…I want to buy it.

  • Unfortunately, a lot of fitness equipment sucks…case in point – the Ab Circle Pro.

Fortunately, there are a few pieces of fantastic fitness equipment that are worth the money. Here are three of them:

1.  The Hammer Head Anchor Gym

In my humble opinion, the Hammer Head anchor gym is a truly fantastic piece of fitness equipment that should be in every home gym.

  • I use it for strength training
  • I use it for flexibility training
  • I use it for mobility training
  • I use it for energy system training
  • It takes up almost zero space
  • It’s cost effective
  • And it’s safe

For years and years and years, I have used a set of high quality resistance bands with all of my clients. They are portable, never break, are versatile and allow me to do just about everything that I can do in a full commercial gym without turning my client’s rec room into a health club. The only requirement that I need from my clients is something solid to attach the bands to…usually a piece of cardio equipment – treadmill, bike, elliptical, etc… It isn’t the perfect set-up for resistance-band strength training, but
it was okay until…

…I got my hands on the Hammer Head anchor gym. The multiple attachment points have allowed me to get way more creative with my selection of exercises. For example, earlier today…

  • I had a client perform a circuit involving a standing two-arm chest press…with the added resistance of a resistance band looped around her waist.
  • In addition to the work being performed by her chest, triceps & front delts, she was also stressing her core muscles as well as stabilizers in her ankles & hips as she resisted being pulled backwards by the band around her waist.
  • As soon as she finished the chest press set, I had her jump immediately into a set of shuffle lunges with the added resistance of the band looped around her waist.

hammerhead h2 home gym strength bands fitness health

For less than $200, they now have a home gym with a lifetime guarantee that takes up zero floor space.

Love it, love it. love it.

Next PageThe Glasstic Water Bottle….

The Secret Behind Your Addiction to Junk Food

Pulitzer prize winning journalist Michael Moss spent four years researching the scientific research that goes into each bag, box or bottle of processed / junk food.

And what he found, should freak you out.

Teams of scientists spending millions of dollars researching bliss points and maximum bite force and sensory specific satiety…all with the aim of keeping you eating ‘food’ that is high in calories, sugar, salt & fat and virtually devoid of actual nutrition.

And they are very, very good at it.

And because…

  1. They are very, very good at their jobs.
  2. Their lobbyists are good at influencing politicians
  3. Government heavily subsidizes their industry
  4. They spend billions on marketing to both adults & children
  5. And most of us are equal parts lazy and uneducated about nutrition

…the sales of ‘real food’ continue to drop while the sales of ‘processed food’ continue to rise.

Also rising are….

  1. The rate of childhood and adult obesity
  2. The rate of type 2 diabetes
  3. The rate of heart disease
  4. The rate of obesity-related cancers
  5. The rate of Alzheimers
  6. Healthcare costs associated with these conditions

Something to think about the next time you go to the supermarket.

You really should buy Salt Sugar Fat. Or at least take it out from the library


healthhabits health fitness senior

How to Live Longer…and Better

Every January 1st, thousands and thousands of people resolve to….

  1. lose weight,
  2. get fit,
  3. and become uber-healthy

By February 1st, almost all of those people are sprawled on the couch eating Cheetos and watching Dancing With The Stars.

Maybe if they knew that:

  • Adults who perform at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week live longer than those who don’t.

In this study, researchers “used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the National Health Interview Study mortality linkage, and U.S. Life Tables to estimate and compare the life expectancy at each age for adults who were inactive, somewhat-active and active. “Active” was defined as doing at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week”.

They found that…

  • Men at age 20 were estimated to gain as much as 2.4 years of life from moderate activity.
  • Women at age 20 gained about 3 additional years from engaging in moderate activity.

This benefit crossed racial barriers as well – with the “biggest benefit from physical activity seen in non-Hispanic black women, who gained as many as 5.5 potential years of life”.

A second study, published in PLOS, found that…

  • 75 minutes of brisk walking per week was associated with a gain of 1.8 years
  • Higher levels of physical activity (equivalent to 450 min of brisk walking per week) resulted in a gain of 4.5 years.

Unfortunately for those of us trying to sell the benefits of exercise to our loved ones, neither of these studies looking at quality of life.

If I was a betting man, I would bet that not only do the “exercisers” live longer, they live better…with more energy, less aches & pains, better state of mind, etc…

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UNCLE SAM EXERCISE health-healthhabits-fitness

Exercise or Die

I know that this sounds like the crazed rant of a wheat-grass swilling fitness-nazi, but hear me out…

In a recent paper published in the Annals of Clinical and Laboratory Science, Dr. Joseph Knight crunched all of the available scientific data and came to the conclusion that “inactivity significantly increases the risk of numerous diseases/disorders, including several forms of cancer, diabetes, hypertension, coronary and cerebrovascular diseases, overweight/obesity, and all-cause mortality, among others. Unless there is a reversal of this sedentary lifestyle, the incidence of these diseases/disorders will increase, life expectancy will decrease, and medical costs will continue to rise”.

  • This means that you probably won’t get to retire the South Pacific to live out your golden years, bounce your grand-kids on your knee or grow old and grey with your spouse.
  • And before you die, you will spend years and years dealing with all of the fun stuff associated with cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and morbid obesity.

Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?

But maybe you think this is just speculation…maybe you’re a “show me the facts” kind of person.

Here are some Facts

  • In 2004, the CDC concluded that 300,000 to 400,000 Americans died from poor diet and physical inactivity – that 16% of all deaths.
  • In 2002, the World Health Organization estimated that there are 2,000,000 deaths w0rldwide each year from physical inactivity.

If that isn’t scary enough, we can look at the studies which show that “long-lived species are more efficient in cellular maintenance than short lived species, suggesting that enhancement of the body’s maintenance systems may slow the aging process. Since aging results from the accumulation of cellular damage, interventions in poor lifestyles may prevent damage, promote repair, and thereby increase life expectancy. In fact, about two-thirds of the major causes of death are, to a significant degree, lifestyle related.” And as noted by Mokdad et al, the major “actual causes of death” in the year 2000 were physical inactivity and poor nutrition.

  • Tobacco (435 000 deaths; 18.1% of total US deaths)
  • Poor diet and physical inactivity (400 000 deaths; 16.6%)
  • Alcohol consumption (85 000 deaths; 3.5%).

Other actual causes of death were microbial agents (75 000), toxic agents (55 000), motor vehicle crashes (43 000), incidents involving firearms (29 000), sexual behaviors (20 000), and illicit use of drugs (17 000).

What does physical inactivity actually do to your body?

According to Dr. Walter Bortz, “our cultural sedentariness, recently acquired, lies at the base of much human ill-being. Physical inactivity predictably leads to deterioration of many body functions. A number of these effects coexist so frequently in our society that they merit inclusion in a specific syndrome, the disuse syndrome. The identifying characteristics of the syndrome are cardiovascular vulnerability, obesity, musculoskeletal fragility, depression and premature aging’.

And since this way-too-easily reproducible syndrome affects the young as well as the old, we can not blame “normal aging” for the onset of the diseases related to the Disuse Syndrome.

And as we know, health care doesn’t come cheap. What do all of these lifestyle diseases cost us?

In 1987, “the direct and indirect costs of sedentary lifestyle to chronic health conditions were reported to be in excess of $150 billion (cost in 2000 dollars for 1987 incidences) (Pratt, Macera & Wang, 2000). As health care costs are $1.3 trillion/year in the US, a rough approximation is that physical inactivity accounts for approximately 15% of the US health care budget.

But it doesn’t have to be this way

The NIH reported in 2009 that…

  1. Exercise improves quality of life
  2. Quality of life improvements are dose dependent on volume of exercise. Small amount of exercise = small improvement to Q of L. Large amount of exercise = large improvement to Q of L.
  3. Q of L improvements were independent to weight loss.

And if that wasn’t enough proof for you, we can look at another pile of research which shows that while quality of life, physical balance, flexibility, mental health, etc naturally decline over the years, being physically active significantly slows down these “natural” signs of aging.

In fact, it has been shown that seniors can significantly reverse the severity of these conditions after taking up an exercise routine.


Thanks to advances in technology, modern humans no longer have to live the physically punishing lives of our ancestors.

  • This is good – it allows us to develop our minds, live longer, live better, etc..
  • Unfortunately, it has also made us sick, fat and lazy.

Your takeaway from this research?

  • Exercise or die.

UNCLE SAM EXERCISE health-healthhabits-fitness


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America’s Great Big Fat Problem…is getting worse

America has a big, big, big problem.

According to the report F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012, “if obesity rates continue on their current trajectories, by 2030…

  • 13 states could have adult obesity rates above 60 percent,
  • 39 states could have rates above 50 percent,
  • and all 50 states could have rates above 44 percent”.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, this could lead to a 10x increase in the number of “new cases of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, hypertension and arthritis between 2010 and 2020—and double again by 2030”.

Obesity could contribute to more than…

  • 6 million cases of type 2 diabetes,
  • 5 million cases of coronary heart disease and stroke,
  • and more than 400,000 cases of cancer in the next two decades.

But maybe you’re like me and take your health/fitness seriously and you don’t need to worry about these health warnings.

Unfortunately, this rise in obesity rates is going to affect you financially.

By 2030, medical costs associated with treating preventable obesity-related diseases are estimated to increase by $48 billion to $66 billion per year in the United States, and the loss in economic productivity could be between $390 billion and $580 billion annually by 2030.

Although the medical cost of adult obesity in the United States is difficult to calculate, current estimates range from $147 billion to nearly $210 billion per year.

This means….

  • Your health insurance rates will increase
  • Social healthcare costs increase
  • Federal & state tax revenues are reduced due to lost productivity

And we all know what happens when government revenues can’t keep up with government spending…

  • Your taxes are increased, and
  • The quality & quantity of government services are decreased

so…what do YOU think…is it time that we did something real about reducing obesity across the board???


TV and Your Child’s Health

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but….when a group of researchers recently reviewed 12 studies in which the relationship between television viewing and diet was assessed in children between the ages of 2 and 6….”all but one study reported significant relationship between television viewing time and adverse dietary outcomes“.

  • More tv viewing = less fruit & vegetable consumption
  • More tv viewing = increased caloric consumption

And as if this wasn’t bad enough…the researchers concluded that these “adverse dietary outcomes occurred with as little as 1 hour of daily television exposure“.

1 HOUR!!!

  • The message to parents?
  • Stop plunking your three year old down in front of the tv.


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3 completely badass fitness products that you’re GONNA buy…or else.

Alright….maybe badass isn’t the appropriate description for these products.

None of them are going to smack you around for being a pair of idiot skinheads starting trouble on a public bus.

But they will help you :

  • make your feet work better
  • reduce associated pain
  • pack on muscle faster than cheap internet steroids

Correct Toes

Dr. Ray McClanahan (podiatric physician) believes that the best way to treat most foot problems is by allowing the foot to function exactly as nature intended. Unfortunately, the shoes you are wearing right probably don’t do that. This realization is why so many people are giving barefoot / minimalist shoes a try. Unfortunately, if you have been wearing “normal” shoes for most of your life, switching to a barefoot shoe isn’t going to fix your feet.

This is where the Correct Toes spacer can help. They are designed to spread your toes into their natural and correct position…improving “proprioception, which then allows the brain to better promote balance and optimal muscle function”.

Paired with a quality pair of barefoot / minimalist shoes, Correct Toes returns your foot to its natural state, treating most foot problems, and by extension, many musculoskeletal problems.

Sidewalk Surfers from Sanuk

There is no point in buying the Correct Toes spacer and fixing your gnarly old feet if you’re going to keep shoving them into a pair of “normal” shoes and scrunching them together like some masochistic Chinese foot binding experiment. What you need to do is buy a pair (or two) of barefoot / minimalist shoes that allow your feet to move as they were originally intended.

And that’s one of the reasons why I have been wearing a pair of Sanuk Chibas all summer long.

Some of the other reasons are…

  1. they are comfortable as heck,
  2. can be worn on the beach AND with casual clothes,
  3. they look pretty darn good
  4. and they come with an antimicrobial additive…meaning they won’t stink after hours and hours of barefoot wear.


skinny exercise weightlifterA few months back, I started working with two different 40+ year old clients who wanted to add some muscle to their “slender” physiques. In addition to a complete restructuring of their diets and an introduction to a truly nasty training program, I put them both on Gaspari Nutrition’s SizeOn product.

Instead of taking a bunch of different products, I wanted one supplement that would service their workout endurance demands as well as help them pack some meat on their hardgainer bodies. And SizeOn turned out to work perfectly.

Both clients had already started gaining muscle with SizeOn, but when we added it into the mix, things really took off.

  • Both gained significant muscle mass
  • Subject #1 gained 14 lbs of muscles while losing 7 lbs of fat
  • Subject #2 gained 11 lbs of muscle while losing 22 lbs of fat.

Pretty significant transformations…especially when you consider that both of these guys were both ectomorphs and lifelong hard-gainers.

I can’t say enough about this product – Great Stuff!!! – Here are the ingredients if you want to check it out.

Does Personalized Cancer Treatment Signal The End of Cancer?

As a giant health & fitness geek, I am always reading scientific journals…looking for ways to help people live longer & better lives.

But when my Mom was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, my point of view changed. I have been spending a ton of time looking at the most recent, bleeding edge science being conducted by cancer researchers.

And a lot of that research kept pointing to the type of personalized cancer treatment being done at the Princess Margaret Hospital here in Toronto.

What is Personalized Cancer Treatment?

In it’s most basic sense, Personalized Cancer Medicine is a multi-faceted approach to care that focuses on the unique nature of each patient: finding the right treatment for the right patient at the right time.

That means, instead of the current “one size fits all” approach to cancer, doctors will base cancer treatment on a better understanding of the unique character of each cancer and each patient, and as a result…will be able to provide people with more effective and less toxic treatments.

And considering how crappy my Mom felt during her most recent round of chemo…the idea of more effective and less toxic treatments has spurred me to write this article and start working at getting her enrolled into this type of treatment program.

Why isn’t my Mom receiving this treatment already?

This was the question I had for her oncologist…and the answer is that most of the techniques and technologies needed to implement Personalized Cancer Medicine are currently at the research stage. The only way to get this treatment now is to qualify for a clinical trial.

And you can’t get into a trial until you have already undergone the current standard of treatment.

That means 2 more rounds of chemo for my Mom before she has another CT scan to see if her cancer has shrunk.

What’s Next?

We’ve all been touched by cancer. Maybe it was a parent or grandparent. For some of us, it was a spouse or a child.

Either way, we’ve all been scared witless by a diagnosis of cancer. As a result, cancer research receives a ton of money in the form of donations and government support – we love our families & we hate cancer.

Unfortunately, a lot of that money keeps being plowed into finding ways to improve the effectiveness of the current approaches to cancer treatment. Maybe it’s time to shift our thinking and shift some of that money towards a new approach to cancer treatment…to a more personalized approach.

[box type=”note”]If you think that this idea of Personalized Cancer Medicine is a good idea, please help to spread the word by sharing this article.[/box]

If you really, really think that Personalized Cancer Medicine is a good idea, the Princess Margaret Hospital is on the cutting edge of this research and have just kicked off a BILLION DOLLAR CHALLENGE to make personalized cancer medicine the gold standard around the world.

And they would be happy to take your donation and apply it directly to Personalized Cancer Research.

[box type=”important”] It must take some big cojones to ask for a billion dollars. Especially with so many people people being unemployed right now. If you can donate something, that would be awesome (me and my Mom thank you in advance). But if you can’t spare the cash right now, please, please, please share this post online – Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linked In, Email…[/box]


How to Wake Up Feeling Great

We’ve all had mornings like Garfield…the alarm goes off…and we feel horrible….like we didn’t get any sleep at all.

And like the fat cat, we…

  • Hit the snooze bar
  • Crawl back under the covers
  • Eventually ooze out of bed
  • Stagger to the bathroom
  • Stand under the shower in a pathetic attempt to wake up
  • Chug down a gallon of coffee
  • And head off to work feeling horrible

Unfortunately, as a personal trainer who…

  1. starts his day with 5:30 am clients, and
  2. needs to be Mr. Motivation…

…I really can’t afford to take 2 or 3 hours to wake up.

And during this latest dark Canadian winter, I hit my limit. Sick and tired of feeling tired, I hopped onto the internet, searched the scientific research on sleep cycles, melatonin, natural waking strategies, etc…and decided to dawn & dusk simulation a try.

For the past 3 months, I have been testing the Philips Wake-Up Light.

And I am glad that I did.

After a week or so, I found myself waking up without the “alarm”. As the light gradually brightened the room, my eyes began to register the light through my eyelids and trigger my body’s natural wake-up cycle, and I started waking up feeling….great.

Without any of the transient period of grogginess (called sleep inertia) that we’re all used to.

Without getting too deep the sciency stuff, the strongest argument for the effectiveness of the “artificial dawn” alarm clock is that instead of being in a deep sleep when the alarm clock rings, the gradually brightening light gradually increases your wakefulness…moving you closer and closer back towards Stage 1 sleep and eventually…naturally…you just wake up….feeling great.


NoteThe alarm clock also has an “artificial dusk” mode which lets you set the light to gradually get darker and darker. It’s fantastic if you read in bed and tend to fall asleep while reading.


22 Recommendations for a Healthier Ontario

Earlier today, Cancer Care Ontario and Public Health Ontario released a report detailing 22 recommendations to improve the health of Ontario.

And some Ontarians are losing their minds over some of the “recommendations”

What do you think?


The Top 9 Potassium Foods

  • Potassium has been shown to lower hypertension.
  • Potassium has been shown to stave off cardiovascular disease
  • It does this by balancing out the harmful effects of high levels of sodium

And considering that 1/3 of us of have hypertension and 103% of us eat too much salt, I decided to put together a list of the most potassium rich foods you can find.

Image from Angie at Food Musings – click on the image for the recipe

Drum roll please…

      1. Potatoes – 1 medium baked potato with skin – 1081 mg
      2. Halibut – 1/2 fillet – 840 mg
      3. Sweet Potatoes – 1 medium baked with skin – 694 mg
      4. Bananas – 1 medium – 422 mg
      5. Milk – 1 cup – 382 mg
      6. Cantaloupes – 1/4 medium – 368 mg
      7. White Beans – 1/4 cup – 297 mg
      8. Tomatoes – 1 medium – 292 mg – Tomato Paste – 1 tbsp – 166 mg – Tomato Sauce – 1/2 cup – 405 mg – Tomato Juice – 1 cup – 556 mg
      9. Oranges – 1 medium – 237 mg – Orange Juice – 1 cup – 496 mg

In choosing these foods, I tried to make it a usable list, with foods that people are fairly likely to buy and in quantities that actually make sense.

For example, the top 3 potassium foods as listed by the USDA are as follows:

      1. Tomato products, canned, paste, without salt added -1 cup – 2657 mg potassium
      2. Orange juice, frozen concentrate, unsweetened, undiluted – 6-fl-oz can – 1436 mg potassium
      3. Beet greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt – 1 cup – 130 mg potassium
From this list, tomato paste looks like an amazing source of potassium…until you realize that the tested portion size was 1 cup.
What are the odds you’re going to eat 1 cup of tomato paste for dinner tonight?
But a nice plate of pan-fried halibut with some mashed potatoes and a glass of tomato juice (Bloody Mary) might be do-able.


    • USDA – Top Potassium Foods

Is High Intensity Exercise the Fountain of Youth?

In a study presented today at European Society of Cardiology Congress, researchers have made a bold claim.

If you want to live a nice long healthy life, the intensity of your workout is more important than the duration.

During their research, they found that men who cycled with fast intensity survived 5.3 years longer than slow cyclists. Average intensity male cyclists survived 2.9 years longer than the slow cyclists.

For women, the averages dropped to 3.9 years for fast cyclists and 2.2 for average speed cyclists.

For both sexes, these numbers were even more pronounced for coronary heart disease mortality.

According to Dr. Peter Schnor, “this study suggests that a greater part of the daily physical activity in leisure time should be vigorous, based on the individuals own perception of intensity”. And it’s not just cycling. Dr. Schnor has published similar results for all-cause mortality in relation to walking.

So there you go….another great reason to cut back on mindless treadmill workouts and embrace my  HIIT and HIRT workouts.


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Reebok RealFlex – Barefoot / Minimalist Shoe Review

Reebok‘s RealFlex running shoe marks Reebok’s initial foray into barefoot / minimalist footwear.

Evolving out of an earlier concept for “collapsible shoes“, the RealFlex isn’t a pure barefoot shoe.

Reebok RealFlex Running Shoe

Designed for the mainstream market, the RealFlex is being promoted as being a better than barefoot shoe. Their Head of Advanced Innovation says that RealFlex combines the best aspects of barefoot/minimalist footwear with the protection of a modern running shoe.

They claim that you get all of that healthy foot movement & proprioception without all of those nasty impact forces caused by running on concrete sidewalks.

Sounds pretty convincing to me. Which is not surprising when you consider that they’re trying to sell you a pair.

How about an unbiased review?

Review Criteria

  • Protection – If you’re not going to develop thick natural calluses by actually running barefoot, you need to wear a shoe that will protect you from the occasional sharp stone or chunk of glass.

Compared to all of the other barefoot / minimalist shoes I have been beta-testing, these shoes offered the best protection against the stones, glass and small woodland creatures I encounter while trail running. This is thanks to the RealFlex’s thicker sole & foam padding.

  • Proprioception – A bare foot provides immediate feedback to the surface it rests upon. A thick spongy sole…not so much. This can be crucial when it comes to avoiding ankle sprains and wiping out while trail running.

Compared to every pair of Nike Frees that I ever owned, the RealFlex offers much improved proprioception. Compared to the average running shoe, there’s no comparison. The RealFlex lets you feel the ground better than any other big name athletic shoe that I have ever worn.

However, when we compare to every other barefoot / minimalist shoe that I have been testing, the RealFlex is like walking in Moon Boots. The relatively thick layer of foam padding creates a noticeable barrier between your feet & the ground.

And that’s the big trade-off – Protection for Proprioception

  • Natural Foot Movement – Does the shoe allow or  prevent your foot from flexing & spreading in order to distribute the load uniformly over the entire foot. This analysis will address shoe width (especially the toe box), arch support, shock absorption, etc…

The RealFlex offers no motion control technology. The minimalist upper lets the foot spread out against the fabric with minimal resistance. However, since it is shaped like a standard running shoe, us wide footed runners tend to spread our feet out and over the edge of the sole.

Not exactly like bare feet.

The toe box is average width. You don’t notice your toes being pinched, but compared to some barefoot shoes, there is less room to wiggle.

Regarding shock absorption, the RealFlex’s foam padding is designed to protect the runner from impact on man-made surfaces.

This is most noticeable with the RealFlex’s built up heel design. This is a major design difference between the RealFlex and other barefoot / minimalist shoe makers.

Instead of letting the runner alter their body position and center of gravity  to continue running on his mid-foot while going downhill, the RealFlex provides foam protection and a high-heel stance in order to promote a heel-toe gait. Big difference.

  • Weight of the Shoe – Who wants a heavy, clunky shoe?

The RealFlex is very light. Lighter than some barefoot / minimalist shoes…heavier than others. But, definitely, definitely lighter than just about every athletic shoe you will find on the wall of your neighborhood sporting goods store.

  • The Drop – Most conventional running shoes raise the heel 22-24mm off the ground while lifting the front of the shoe only 10-15mm off the ground. This difference creates a forward leaning slope which changes your posture and leads to a heel-toe gait which leads a bunch of problems. Long story short, a flat shoe is more natural.

As I mentioned above, the raised heel of the RealFlex is a significant difference between it and the other barefoot/minimalist shoes on the market. Barefoot runners adapt to running downhill by shifting their center of gravity and perhaps slowing down. The Reebok RealFlex wants you to shift your gait from a midfoot strike to a heel-toe running gait when you are bombing down hills.

Major difference in philosophy.

  • Shape of the Sole – As your foot spreads, does the protective sole continue to protect your foot from physical damage?

The RealFlex is shaped like a traditional running shoe. As such, runners with wide feet will find their feet spreading out and over the width of the sole

  • Comfort – Do they feel good on your feet?

They are super comfortable. My “normal” running shoes felt like big, clunky shoe-boxes on my feet after wearing the RealFlexes.

  • Ease of Use – Are they easy to put on?

The reduced material in the uppers means that you can’t just shove your feet in a pair of RealFlexes without untying them or using a shoe horn. Deal with it.

  • Appearance – Do you look like a freak wearing them? Do you care?

The RealFlex looks like an ordinary runner. Unlike almost all of the other test shoes, you won’t look weird wearing these shoes.

Major selling point if you want to market to the mainstream.

  • Ventilation – Vibrams are notoriously stinky shoes…what about the RealFLex?

So far so good. But then again, I don’t have stinky feet. My wife is a lucky woman.

  • Durability – Will they stand up to some pounding?

So far, so good. It’s only been a couple of months, but there is little to no wear.

  • Price – Due to my Scottish background, cost is always a factor.

At $90, the RealFlex is cheaper than some barefoot shoes, and more expensive than others. They’re also way cheaper than most pairs of high end “normal” running shoes.

  • Application – Is the shoe applicable for everyday use, running, sports, yoga, weight lifting, water sports, beach sports, etc?

The RealFlex is the most unique barefoot / minimalist shoe that I will be testing.

  • It doesn’t look like other barefoot shoes
  • It looks like a “normal” running shoe
  • It doesn’t work like other barefoot shoes….
  • But, it doesn’t work like a “normal” running shoe either

So, what is it?

What the Heck Is the Reebok RealFlex?

IMHO, the Reebok RealFlex is either:

  1. A transition shoe for runner who want to transition from heel-toe running to barefoot running.
  2. A hybrid shoe that provides the best aspects of barefoot / minimalist shoes with the best aspects of heel-toe running shoes.
  3. An attempt by Reebok to capture the buzz of barefoot / minimalist shoes without scaring away the mainstream buyer who would never buy a pair of shoes with toes.


I highly recommend the Reebok RealFlex to my clients.

I believe that a switch from heel-toe running to barefoot / midfoot running is a great thing to do for your body. However, the switch from a pair of New Balance running shoes to a pair of barefoot / minimalist slippers can be brutally painful.

The RealFlex makes that transition much, much easier.

Whether they transition from a RealFlex to a true barefoot shoe is another question altogether. Perhaps they use the RealFlex on rocky terrain or during a race. Perhaps they graduate from the RealFlex to a pure barefoot shoe. Perhaps they go all the way and ditch running shoes altogether.

Either way, the RealFlex is a good shoe. It’s not for the Barefoot / Minimalist purist. But then again, the purist is the customer Reebok is looking for. Reebok is looking for the millions who want to run without people staring at their feet.


Is Senobi Breathing the Cure for Depression, Obesity and Asthma?

The Senobi Breathing Exercise has been shown to:

  1. Reduce the symptoms of asthma
  2. Reduce the symptoms of depression
  3. Reduce levels of obesity

Not too shabby for a simple breathing exercise that takes all of 30 seconds to do.

What is the Senobi Breathing Exercise?

The Senobi Breathing Exercise can be performed in a 4 different ways:

  • Standing
  • Sitting
  • Hands together & fingers intertwined
  • Hands apart

In the standing position, the exerciser stands still with the feet at shoulder width. The arms are extended firmly, initially without uniting the palms. The neck is bent into the back, and the upper body is bent so as to face the ceiling (Fig. 1). The exerciser must take care to avoid overexertion.

  • Air is inhaled for 5 seconds, then exhaled for 5 seconds.
  • This respiration pattern should be done three times;
  • therefore 30 seconds are spent in the posture described.

During this posture, the scapulas shut automatically, so breathing occurs mainly from the abdomen.

To achieve thoracic respiration, we can switch to the hands held together – fingers intertwined –  and the palms turned to the ceiling version. In this posture, the scapulas are open, so the breathing that unites the palms is thoracic respiration.

The seated posture is identical to the standing posture, except for the fact that you’re sitting instead of standing.

Check out this Senobi – Obesity Study

After 1 min of the “Senobi” breathing, substantial up-regulation of sympathetic nerve activity and increased urinary hormone secretion were observed in the overweight women but not in the healthy controls. Moreover, after repeating the exercise for a month, the obese patients showed significant loss of body fat. The “Senobi” breathing exercise was found to be effective for weight loss in obesity possibly by regulating the autonomic nervous system and the hormone secretion.

Senobi – Asthma Study

After 1 month of regularly performing this exercise, most patients showed a decrease in the frequency of asthma rescue medication use. They also showed a recovery of forced expiratory volume in 1 second. These results suggest that the Senobi stretch is a useful exercise for asthmatic patients to perform to achieve a desirable improvement in symptoms.

Senobi – Depression Study

After one minute of SBE, significant up-regulation of sympathetic nerve activity and increased concentrations of catecholamines, estradiol, and growth hormone were observed in OWD (depressed) group. After 30 days of SBE, the sympathetic nerve activity and hormone levels had recovered in OWD group, and the depressive state, as evaluated by the Hamilton Depression Scale, had ameliorated. The “Senobi” breathing exercise was found to be effective for amelioration of depression in obese women possibly through up-regulation of sympathetic nerve activity and hormone secretion.


While the Senobi Breathing Exercise seems a little too good to be true…..it only takes 30 seconds, it’s free and if you’re asthmatic, overweight & depressed…what do you have to lose?


Longevity Diet Debunked?

Since the 1930s, researchers and various life extension “experts” have touted food restriction as a way to extend life.

Numerous studies on fruit flies and mice have shown that a calorie reduced diet does indeed extend life span.

The idea is that a low-cal diet helps a group of proteins called sirtuins help your dna (and you by extension) live longer.

Unfortunately, a number of recent studies (including this one) contradict that belief.

In this most recent study, researchers studying the effect of food restriction on fat & weight loss found that the mice who maintained their fat actually lived longer than the mice who melted off their body-fat.

The Study

  • Researchers put 41 different strains of lab mice on a severe low-cal diet
  • They correlated the amount of diet-induced fat reduction to life span.

The Results

  • The mice who dropped the most weight died sooner than…
  • The mice who starved yet stayed kind of blubbery (aka the Skinny-Fat mice)

“Indeed, the greater the fat loss, the greater the likelihood the mice would have a negative response to dietary restriction, i.e., shortened life,” said James Nelson, Ph.D., professor of physiology at the Barshop Institute. “This is contrary to the widely held view that loss of fat is important for the life-extending effect of dietary restriction. It turns the tables a bit.”

What does this mean to you?

According to Dr. Nelson, this means that:

  • If you’re naturally chubby, a low-cal diet may help extend your life
  • If you’re naturally lean…not so much.




DIET WAR – Dr. Oz vs Gary Taubes

Yesterday the low-carb blogosphere was abuzz with talk of the interview Dr. Oz conducted with one of their heroes – Gary Taubes.

Gary Taubes - aka The Man Who Thinks Everything Dr. Oz Says Is Wrong

And all around those blogs,  a lot of the talk focused on their belief that Dr. Oz was unfair to Mr. Taubes.

The low-carbers felt that while Gary presented a logical, science-based argument in favor of a reduced carb diet, Dr. Oz served up a plateful of USDA diet platitudes topped with a big hunk of cheesy tv theatrics.

For example, in an attempt to demonstrate/discredit low carb dieting, Dr. Oz had a camera crew follow him around for 24 hours of low-carb eating.

Here’s what Dr. Oz’s ate:

  • Breakfast – 2 fried eggs + 2 sausages
  • Snack #1 – pork rinds
  • Lunch – salad with chicken & bacon
  • Snack #2 – pepperoni & cheese sticks
  • Dinner – a massive steak & green beans (yum)

Eerily reminiscent of the Atkins Diet induction phase n’est-ce pas?

And after the audience finishes laughing at Dr. Oz’s jokes about the origins of pork rinds, Mehmet reports his findings to Mr. Taubes.

Dr. Oz reports that:

  • His breath turned stale
  • He felt nauseated
  • He had headaches
  • He was constipated
  • And was irritable

Doesn’t make low-carb sound very good does it?

But wait…it’s not over yet. Thinking that he has Taubes on the proverbial ropes, Dr. Oz attempts to knock him out…. by asking Taubes to submit to a cholesterol test.


Cholesterol and a low-carb diet.

That’s gotta hurt.

Kind of a cheap shot considering that:

  1. Dr. Oz knows that while Taubes thinks that the total cholesterol test is a waste of time.
  2. He also knows that his audience thinks that lowering your total cholesterol is vital for good health.

And considering that audience approval is the ultimate prize in this Diet War, Dr. Oz makes Taubes look like a bit of a kook in the eyes of his audience.

And is officially declared the winner.

Or is he?

According to low-carb guru Jimmy Moore (Livin La Vida Low Carb), sales of both of Taubes’ books have been going through the roof all day.

Almost as if some of Dr. Oz’s loyal low-fat viewers were cheating on him…or maybe just a low-carb curious.

Personally, I think it’s like Gandhi said:

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

From what I can see, Gary Taubes has just reached stage #3.

To reach stage #4, here’s what I suggest:

  1. Gary asks Dr. Oz for a follow-up show
  2. 2 months prior to the show, they both take a complete set of (agreed upon) diagnostic tests
  3. After completing the blood tests, Dr. Oz goes on a 4 week low-carb diet designed by Taubes, while
  4. Taubes goes on a 4 week low-fat diet designed by Dr. Oz
  5. They run the tests again
  6. They go back to their own diets for another 4 weeks, and
  7. Repeat the tests a third time
  8. Present the results live on Dr. Oz’s show.

So, whaddaya think…will Dr. Oz go for it.

Probably not, but wouldn’t it be interesting?

Here’s a link to his Facebook page – post a link to this article and see if he responds.


Here’s a youtube video of the show – no idea how long Dr. Oz’s lawyers will let it stay up


This is Why You Need to Take Astragalus

Astragalus Membranaceus has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine.

And even though us Westerners are a few thousand years late to the game, our scientists are working hard to get us up to speed.

In particular, an interesting study just came across my desk which showed how a decoction of the dried root of the Astragalus plant was very effective in:

  • reducing body weight
  • improving insulin sensitivity, and
  • improving the severity of fatty liver disease

Which is kind of a big deal considering that excessive body weight, type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease is fast becoming the new normal in North America and Europe.

So, I decided to do a little more research into Astragalus and it’s effect on insulin sensitivity et al.

And I found a pile of research.

Research which showed how Astragalus was effective at:

  • boosting immune system function – cold, flu, infection, fever, allergies
  • reducing hypertension via a diuretic effect
  • eliminating free radicals
  • improving cardiac function
  • improving chronic fatigue
  • improving heart function
  • improving kidney function
  • improving symptoms of asthma
  • improving stomach ulcers
  • reducing inflammation
  • improving your body’s ability to handle stress

as well as…

  • reducing body weight
  • improving insulin sensitivity, and
  • improving the severity of fatty liver disease

All with no chance of toxicity.

Which is kind of important when you start messing around with herbs and roots.

So…where can you get this Astragalus stuff?

Your Best Body Workout – 2011 – Week 1 – Day 1



Feel free to mix things up during the warm-up. The goal is to warm up your muscles and to get your joints lubricated. I like the following warm-up exercises, but as long as your muscles are getting pliable and your joints are feeling “loose”….feel free to do your own thing…as long as it gets the job done.

5 Minutes of the following 4 Mobility Exercises:


1.  Circles – Starting with the ankles and moving all the way up to your neck, gently make circles with all of your joints – 10 revolutions each joint in each direction


2.  Rolling Like A Ball

3.  Shin Box


4.  Lateral Lunges


5 Minutes of the following Muscle Warm-Up Exercises

I am going to list a bunch of exercises. You choose which ones you want to do….remembering that the goal is to warm up the muscles and make them pliable and ready to handle the following workout

  • 1 Arm Swing Snatch – Dumbbell or kettlebell – choose a light weight – the goal is to warm-up
  • Bodyweight Squat
  • Step-Ups
  • Burpees
  • Push – Ups
  • BW Rows
  • Jumping Chins
  • Shuffle Lunges


The HIRT Workout

HIRT Superset #1

  • 2 exercises per superset
  • 5 minutes per superset
  • NO REST between sets
  • Choose a weight that would allow you to perform 10 reps (10RM)
  • Perform 5 reps per set
  • Perform the “work” part of each exercise as quickly and powerfully as possible


Zercher or Front Squat

  • 5 reps per set @ 10RM weight
  • Goblet squats and band front squats are okay substitutes


1 Leg Deadlift

  • 5 reps per leg per set


HIRT Superset #2

Hi-Lo Vertical Cable/Band Slam

  • 5 reps per set @ 10RM weight

I need to make a video of this…and I will, but for now, let me describe with the aid of these 2 videos.

Imagine a medicine ball slam

But, instead of using a medicine ball, we used a cable stack (rope handle) or a strength band

The guy in this video is way too spastic for my liking. What I want is a very distinct up and down movement. Nice and powerful like the med ball slam but with the added resistance of the cable stack or the strength bands.


1 Arm DB Press

  • 5 reps per set @ 10RM weight


HIRT Superset #3

Swing Snatch

  • 5 reps per set @ 10RM weight


Bulgarian Split Squat

  • 5 reps per leg per set @ 10RM weight


HIRT Superset #4

Standing Cable/Band Row

  • 5 reps per set @ 10RM weight



  • 5-10 reps per set


HIRT Superset #5 – optional

Repeat one of the first 4 Supersets – your choice

HIRT Superset #6 – optional

Repeat one of the first 4 Supersets – your choice



10 minutes of DIY

  • If you really want to lose weight, spend 10 minutes doing some HIITsprints on an exercise bike. I would recommend 10 sprints with a 10 sec ON : 50 sec OFF ratio
  • If you want to buff up those biceps, hit the curls for 10 minutes
  • If your hip flexors are really tight, put in 10 minutes stretching them along with your quads and lower lumbars.
  • And if your goal is power & strength, spend 10 minutes doing static holds or partial lifts


Stretching – minimum 10 minutes

Focus on the muscles you just worked, plus the ones that are tight on just about everyone….hip flexors, calves, hamstrings, chest, neck & traps


So, that takes care of Monday’s workout.

Wednesday & Friday will be similar in theory but with different exercises hitting different muscles and working different movement patterns.

Tues, Thurs, Sat & Sun are up to you.

It all depends on your goals

  • If your main goal is strength & power, you will perform Neural Recharge workouts –Here is a sample workout
  • If you want to improve your cardio, do cardio
  • If you want to improve your flexibility, do a yoga class or stretch
  • If you want to have fun while exercising, take a class, play a sport, etc…
  • But, NO SERIOUS LIFTING on your off days. You’ll screw up your recovery.

You can also rest on those off days. These 3 workouts are pretty intense and will do a lot on their own.


Your Best Body Workout – 2011

Based upon your feedback, the next 50 weeks of workouts will focus on:

  • Overall Fitness / Athleticism
  • Fat Loss
  • Strength / Power
  • General Health / Disease Prevention

In essence, our goal is to create bodies that can perform at a high level of overall fitness, look great while doing it and potentially live forever.

Alright, so here we go.

Today I am going to lay out an overview of the workouts you are going to be doing for the next 4 weeks.

Later tonight, I will post another article laying out the specifics of Monday’s workout, with videos, etc…

The Plan for the next 4 Weeks

  • 3 resistance training workouts per week
  • Off days will vary depending on your personal goals
  • If your main goal is strength & power, you will perform Neural Recharge workouts – I will post sample workouts
  • If you want to improve your cardio, do cardio
  • If you want to improve your flexibility, do a yoga class or stretch
  • If you want to have fun while exercising, take a class, play a sport, etc…
  • But, NO SERIOUS LIFTING on your off days. You’ll screw up your recovery.

The Workouts

  • Each workout will start with a 10 minute warm-up session
  • 5 minutes of joint mobility exercises, and
  • 5 minutes of exercises designed to get your muscles all nice and pliable

From the warm-up, we move immediately to the main part of the workout

  • 4-6 HIRT Supersets (# of sets depends on your current state of fitness)
  • Each superset lasts 5 minutes – buy a timer
  • NO REST between sets
  • Perform the work part of each exercise as quickly as possible
  • Rep schemes will change during the 4 weeks
  • Neural Recharge exercises will be included to supercharge your nervous system
  • As always, the success of HIRT workouts depends on the intensity of your effort – if you’re going to give it 80% effort, don’t bother. I want/need/demand 100% of YOUR best effort to get the most out of these workouts.

After you have completed the 5 min HIRT superset, you will have 3 minutes between sets to get ready for the next superset and perhaps even stretch a little bit. I will suggest a stretch that will help improve the performance of the next superset.

After you have completed all of the HIRT supersets, I want you to spend 10 minutes on a goal specific to you

  • If you really want to lose weight, spend 10 minutes doing some HIIT sprints on an exercise bike. I would recommend 10 sprints with a 10 sec ON : 50 sec OFF ratio
  • If you want to buff up those biceps, hit the curls for 10 minutes
  • If your hip flexors are really tight, put in 10 minutes stretching them along with your quads and lower lumbars.
  • And if your goal is power & strength, spend 10 minutes doing static holds or partial lifts

And after the 10 min specialty phase, I really, really, really want you to spend another 10 minutes stretching…even if you just spent 10 minutes stretching your hip flexors.

Believe me, you’ll thank me later.


Anyway, that’s the highlights of the coming workouts.

Monday’s workout will be posted tout de suite.


The Science behind Beauty Sleep

According to the latest research….your Mom was right.

A good night’s sleep is the best thing you can do to look attractive and healthy.

In this study, researchers looked at the relationship between sleep and our perception of attractiveness and health.

The researchers took 23 participants between the ages of 18 and 31 and photographed them between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. on two separate occasions – once after a normal sleep and once after being deprived of sleep.

A group of 65 observers were then asked to rate the photographs for attractiveness and whether the individuals looked healthy and rested or unhealthy and tired.


  • The sleep deprived photos/people were judged to be less healthy, more tired and less attractive.
  • Conversely, the well rested photos/people were judged to be unbelievably sexy and a veritable picture of health.


The researchers concluded that “humans are sensitive to sleep related facial cues, with potential implications for social and clinical judgments and behaviour”.

In short, if you want to look your best…get some beauty sleep.


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5 Minutes of Pleasure

What would you give up for 5 minutes of pleasure?

  • Your pride?
  • Your quality of life?
  • Your self-esteem?
  • Your health?

And before your imagination crawls completely down into the gutter, the 5 minutes of pleasure that I am discussing is of a gustatory nature.

I am talking about the visceral lust some people have for their favorite food(s).

Whether their desire is for something sweet or savory, a lot of my clients come to me with an appetite that is completely out of control. And even though their love for cake and cookies and pizza and chocolate has resulted in a fist-full of doctor’s prescriptions, they continue to be slaves to their culinary 5 minutes of pleasure.

Whether their desire for food is caused by stress or low self-esteem or their crappy day at work or one of the other bazillion reasons we use as an excuse to soothe our feelings with food, the result is the same.

  • The food tastes really good,
  • But, we eat it too quickly,
  • So we grab some more,
  • And eat that too quickly,
  • Etc….

Then, thanks to the wonders of our bodies, we get a nice little endorphin rush from the sugar in our food/drug of choice and our crappy day at work doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

Unfortunately, in a very short period of time, that endorphin rush wears off and the memory of our crappy day comes rushing back…except now, we also feel extra crappy for having inhaled an entire large pizza.

(Disclosure – pizza was my former food/drug of choice)

So, I ask you again…

What would you give up for 5 minutes of pleasure?

  • Your pride?
  • Your quality of life?
  • Your self-esteem?
  • Your health?


Functional Amino Acids for Better Health

Functional amino acids are being investigated by researchers for their ability to regulate key metabolic pathways and improve human health, growth, development and reproduction.

Building upon current animal research, Dr. Guoyao Wu recommends “nonessential amino acids be provided to humans to prevent chronic disease.”

For example, it is known that the amino acid arginine helps to prevent obesity.

“Currently in the U.S., more than 60 percent of adults are overweight or obese,” he said. “Globally, more than 300 million adults are obese and more than 1 billion are overweight. Also, a large number of children in the U.S. and other countries are overweight or obese. The most urgent needs of new research in amino acids and health are the roles of functional amino acids in the treatment and prevention of obesity and its associated cardiovascular dysfunction.”

In addition to arginine, studies have shown that leucine has a strong effect on insulin response as well as sparing muscle during periods of caloric restriction.

Unfortunately, researching the many potential health benefits of amino acids is not a priority for Big Pharma.

They can’t slap a patent on arginine or leucine, so what’s the point of spending the big bucks.

Too bad for us.



British Government Sells Out to the Fast Food Industry

As part of it’s continuing effort to destroy it’s healthcare system, the British government has invited fast food companies including McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken to help write government policy on obesity, alcohol and diet-related disease.

In addition to Ronald and the Colonel, representatives from PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, Unilever, Mars and Diageo are also among the businesses that have been asked to contribute to the five ‘responsibility deal’ networks set up by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

And while the details aren’t expected to be released until the government presents it’s public health white paper in the next few weeks, it’s believed that:

  • the Food Responsibility Deal Network will be chaired by one of the above mentioned companies, while the
  • the Food sub-group on calories is to be chaired by PepsiCo
  • the Behavior Change Responsibility Deal Network is to be chaired by the National Heart Forum
  • the Physical Activity Responsibility Deal Network is to be chaired by the Fitness Industry Association, and
  • the Alcohol Responsibility Deal Network is chaired by the head of the lobby group Wine and Spirit Trade Association


In America, they’re banning the sale of Happy Meals.

In the U.K., they’re asking Ronald McDonald to design national policy on food consumption and obesity.


Is it any wonder why nobody trusts politicians any more?


Note – If any of my U.K. readers would like to express their displeasure over this decision to the british Secretary of Health, Andrew Lansley, here is his contact info.

Constituency Office
153 St Neots Road
CB23 7QJ
Tel: 01954 212 707
Fax: 01954 211 625

Email: lansleya@parliament.uk

All Hail the Heart Attack Grill Diet

You’ve got to respect the folks at the Heart Attack Grill.

At least they can admit that their food comes complete with a side order of “sudden weight gain, repeated increase of wardrobe size, back pain, male breast growth, loss of sexual partners, lung cancer, tooth decay, liver sclerosis, stroke, and an inability to see your penis.”

And while Ronald McDonald prepares to defend the health benefits of his Happy Meals in a court of law, the geniuses behind the Double Bypass burger step up and corner the moral high ground in the junk food industry.

And if you’re lucky enough to weigh over 350 lbs, you Eat for FREE!!!


Is the Twinkie Diet a Success?

10 weeks ago, KSU nutrition professor Mark Haub began eating a reduced calorie diet of Little Debbie Pecan Spin Wheels for breakfast, Hostess Twinkies for lunch, birthday cake for supper and Doritos for dessert.

And as crazy as it may seem, after 10 weeks on his Twinkie Diet, Dr. Haub saw:

  • His bodyweight drop from 200.8 to 174.2 (-26.6 lbs)
  • His body-fat percentage drop from 33.4% to 24.% (-8.5%)
  • His total body-fat drop by 25.25 lbs
  • His lean body mass (muscle) drop by 1.35 lbs
  • His total cholesterol drop from 214 to 184
  • His bad cholesterol (ldl-c) drop from 153 to 123
  • His good cholesterol (hdl-c) increase from 37 to 46
  • His blood sugar / glucose level drop from 94 to 75, and
  • His blood pressure stay around the same – pre=108/71 – post=104/76

So, does this mean that the Twinkie Diet is a success?

Is Dr. Haub correct when he says, ““it doesn’t matter where the macronutrients are derived from as long as essential nutrients are consumed at the recommended levels, and the fuel is consumed at a level at or below energy expenditure?”

Is he right when he says “if somebody can get their nutrients from a supplement and then they get their fuel from whatever is available, does it matter that they’re not getting fruits and vegetables and whole grains”?


On one level – YES.


However, as I said back in September,  before people start swarming  their local 7-11 to get the last box of Diet Twinkies, we need to remember that this is a short term experiment that is limited in scope & depth.

It will not measure:

  • The damage caused by the over-consumption of trans fats, artificial colors, petroleum derived flavorings, chemical emulsifiers, chemical preservatives, etc…
  • The effect that the high levels of HFCS & other sugars is having upon Prof. Haub’s  poor ole pancreas
  • Any increase in systemic inflammation and ph levels
  • The increased cravings for sugar…. brought upon by those twinkies and peanut butter oreos
  • The lack of enzymes, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, non-vitamin cofactors, sterols, polyphenols, flavonoids, phytosterols, carotenoids, prebiotics, probiotics, triterpenes, mineral salts, amino acids, etc…

In short, Professor Haub has shown us that when you eat less food, you lose body-fat.

And skinny doesn’t always mean healthy.

health fitness exercise healthhabits

HIIT is better than Cardio for your Heart

Let’s say you’ve got high blood pressure…and stiffness in your arteries.

Whatcha gonna do?

Well….if you’re like most people, you just found out about your problem from your doctor. And you’re about to get a prescription for a bunch of drugs and a recommendation to hop onto the nearest treadmill and do lots and lots of low intensity / long duration cardio-vascular exercise.

But, what if your doctor is wrong?

  • What if…instead of spending hours glued to the seat of an exercise bike, you could be doing 2 x 40 minute interval training sessions per week.
  • And what if…by doing those 2 x 40 minute interval training sessions per week, you were lowering your BP just as well as your cardio cousins.
  • And what if you were improving your arterial stiffness even better than those cardio junkies.

According to this study, that’s exactly what you would be doing.



Common Sense Conclusion(s)

  • If you have hypertension & arterial stiffness, talk to your doctor before you start any exercise program. It just makes sense.
  • Tell your doc about this research.
  • Find out how good/bad your heart really is.
  • And maybe consider doing both types of workouts.

And do some more reading – high blood pressure is no joke.


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Which Health Care System Is The Best?

Today, we’re going to take a brief macroeconomic look at healthcare systems around the world.





So, what can we learn from these colorful charts?

Well, we could learn that the U.S. health care system (pre 2008), was

  1. The most expensive, and
  2. Also one of the worst as it pertains to life expectancy and potential years of life lost.

We could also learn that countries with public health care systems can simultaneously achieve high life expectancy rates with relatively low health costs.

We could learn those things.

However, we could also recognize that these charts don’t tell the complete story…and that there are a bazillion different factors that influence health & life expectancy.

And maybe we should remember that the next time we get into a debate/argument over health care.

The answer isn’t as simple as the political pundits make it out to be.


(h/t Media Matters)


Putting the "Health" Back in Healthcare

Canada’s healthcare system may be on the verge of a massive change.

Instead of continuing to spend billions of dollars simply treating the symptoms of disease, Canada’s health ministers have agreed that:

the promotion of health and the prevention of disease, disability and injury are a priority and necessary to the sustainability of the health system.

They also agreed that the main causes of death, disease and disability in Canada today are chronic diseases and injuries, and that a large proportion of chronic diseases, disabilities and injuries can be prevented, or at least delayed.

They continued by saying that more emphasis needs to be placed on the promotion of health and on preventing or delaying chronic diseases, disabilities, and injuries.

Doing this will improve the quality of life of Canadians while reducing disparities in health and the impact these conditions have on individuals, families, communities, the health-care system and on society.

OMG … A healthcare system that focuses on health.

Fingers crossed people. Fingers crossed..


Health v.s. Fitness

Today, I don’t feel very healthy.

Beginning on Sunday, the seasonal allergies that had plagued me for the past 4 years returned with a vengeance.

My symptoms?

Headache, exhaustion, sneezing, coughing, red eyes, teary eyes, painful burning eyes, general “itchiness” and a ton of mucus.

In general, I feel like crap.

And that got me thinking about the difference between health & fitness.

I am still fit enough to:

  • Lift a ton of weight and….
  • I could sprint hills with guys half my age and half my size and…
  • I out cardio Jane Fonda on a good day

But, I feel like crap and I don’t want to do anything except crawl back into bed.

All because of allergies.

Luckily for me, I have a very odd, but very effective allergy treatment booked for Thursday.

Until then, I have to suffer.

And that got me thinking.

What if I was really sick?

Would I give a damn about running an extra mile or lifting a little heavier than the last workout?

Probably not.

As they say, “if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.”

Heart Disease and Stroke Caused By Diet

Ontario is Fat

Up here in Canada (especially in my hometown of Toronto, Ontario), there is a large chunk of the population that considers itself “superior” to our American cousins.

We start fewer wars, we’re better educated, we have lower crime rates, we don’t watch Two and a Half Men, we’ve never elected a Bush and we’re not all fat & addicted to deep fried pizza.

U.S. Obesity Stats for 2009

Unfortunately, as it turns out…we did go to war in Afghanistan, our high school dropout rates are rising year after year, our favorite tv show is Survivor, we elected Stephen Harper and according to this study….

70% of Ontario adults are either overweight or obese, and have a strong prevalence of high blood pressure that could lead to heart attack or stroke.

And if my university mathematics are correct, that means that only 30% of Ontarians should be proud to take their shirts off at the beach.


Just like Mississippi…the fattest state in the republic.


Perhaps it’s time for my smug Canadian brothers & sisters to put down their wobbly pops, throw out that tub o’ poutine, get up off their rotund derrières and start developing some Health Habits.


Is Exercise the Ultimate Antioxidant?


According to the latest research, strength training is one of your best defenses against oxidative stress.

In fact, after a mere 6 weeks of of workouts, test subjects saw significant improvement in two key markers of oxidative stress

And when you consider that oxidative stress is directly responsible for atherosclerosisParkinson’s diseaseheart failuremyocardial infarctionAlzheimer’s diseasefragile X syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome and aging in general, perhaps we should stop selling gym memberships based on getting a wicked six-pack and focus more on….living healthier, living longer, living better, etc…

The Research

J Strength Cond Res 24(9): 2491-2497, 2010

The purposes of this study were:

  1. to determine whether acute resistance exercise training (RET) induces oxidative stress,
  2. to determine whether chronic RET decreases oxidative stress level at rest condition in previously untrained men,
  3. and also to investigate how the RET intensity influences the training-induced oxidative stress response.

Sixteen young men who did not have RET experience in the past were randomly divided in 2 groups.

The hypertrophy-intensity group performed 3 sets of 12 repetitions at an intensity corresponding to 70% of 1 repetition maximum (1RM), whereas the strength-intensity group performed 3 sets of 6 repetitions at an intensity corresponding to 85% of 1RM.

The workouts  involved 6 exercises, and it was performed 3 times a week on nonconsecutive days for 6 weeks.

Blood samples were obtained just before (pre-RET) and immediately after RET (post-RET) on the first day of the first week, on the last day of the fourth and sixth weeks.

After 6 weeks of training, pre-RET values of malondialdehyde (MDA) significantly decreased and pre-RET values of glutathione (GSH)significantly increased in both hypertrophy- and strength-intensity groups.

These alterations occurred independently of training intensity.


This study indicated that hypertrophy- and strength-intensity whole-body RET performed regularly for 6 weeks, decreased MDA concentration and increased GSH level in healthy young men.

Results suggest that chronic RET has protective effects against oxidative stress similar to aerobic exercises and that these effects seem to be independent of the training intensity.


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Drew Carey goes low carb - loses weight and reverses his type 2 diabetes

Drew Carey: Low Carb Celebrity Sex Symbol

Drew Carey goes low carb - loses weight and reverses his type 2 diabetes

According to People magazine, Drew Carey has dropped 80 lbs and reversed his Type-2 diabetes since starting a low carb diet back in January.

That’s 80 lbs in 7 months….or just over 11 lbs per month.

And no more diabetes.

How did Drew Carey Lose Weight?

“No carbs,” Carey says. “I have cheated a couple times, but basically no carbs, not even a cracker. No bread at all. No pizza, nothing. No corn, no beans, no starches of any kind. Egg whites in the morning or like, Greek yogurt, cut some fruit.”

hmmmm…yogurt & fruit. That doesn’t sound very low carb.

Sounds more like a healthy, sensible, totally achievable Mediterranean style of diet to me.

He snacks on fruit, and for dinner he’ll have grilled chicken and steamed vegetables and water. “I don’t drink anything but water,” he says. “No coffee, no tea, no soda.”


Equally important, he says, is keeping up his workouts. His secret: “Lots of cardio. About 45 minutes of cardio, at least 45 minutes of cardio. I’ve been kind of lazy like lately, so I’m not doing it 6 days a week, but I will be for this next month.”


All this discipline has gotten Carey from a size 44 pants to a 33-34, with his goal to lose another 10 lbs. and shrink to a size 32.


“I like being skinny,” says Carey. “I was sick of being fat on the camera. Really, I just got sick of it. Once I started losing weight, again, like once I started dropping a couple pant sizes, then it was easy ’cause once you see the results, then you don’t wanna stop.”


Once you see the results, then you don’t wanna stop.

Wise words, from a wise man……Drew Carey…..low carb celebrity sex symbol and weight loss motivator extrordinaire.


Attention Loners: Popular People Live Longer

Loners live longer

Popular People Live Longer?

In their study Social Relationships and Mortality Risk, BYU professors Julianne Holt-Lunstad and Timothy Smith have found that your social connections – friends, family, neighbors and colleagues – improve your odds of survival by 50 percent.

In fact, living a life with few social connections is….

  • Equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day
  • Equivalent to being an alcoholic
  • More harmful than not exercising
  • Twice as harmful as obesity

The Study

The researchers analyzed data from 148 previously published longitudinal studies that measured frequency of human interaction and tracked health outcomes for a period of seven and a half years on average.

Because information on relationship quality was unavailable, the 50 percent increased odds of survival may underestimate the benefit of healthy relationships. “The data simply shows whether they were integrated in a social network,” Holt-Lunstad said. “That means the effects of negative relationships are lumped in there with the positive ones. They are all averaged together.”

Dr. Holt-Lunstad said there are many pathways through which friends and family influence health for the better, ranging from a calming touch to finding meaning in life.

.“When someone is connected to a group and feels responsibility for other people, that sense of purpose and meaning translates to taking better care of themselves and taking fewer risks,” Holt-Lunstad said.

In examining the data, Smith took a careful look at whether the results were driven primarily by people helping each other prolong their golden years.

.“This effect is not isolated to older adults,” Smith said. “Relationships provide a level of protection across all ages.”

.Smith said that modern conveniences and technology can lead some people to think that social networks aren’t necessary.

“We take relationships for granted as humans – we’re like fish that don’t notice the water,” Smith said. “That constant interaction is not only beneficial psychologically but directly to our physical health.”

So, what are we supposed to do with this info?

Assuming you want to live longer, you should try to make new friends.

And yes, I know that as “grown-ups”, we all have uber-busy schedules and we just don’t have time to make new friends.

And yes, it’s not like when we were back in elementary school (or university) – where making a new friend is as simple as sharing your blankie during nap time.

Making new friends as an adult can be a little weird.

But have no fear, your ole buddy Health Habits Doug is here to help:

First of all, if you’re like me, you actually don’t have a lot of free time to devote to new friend hunting, so my first piece of advice is to look for friends with common interests. That way you can hunt for friends while you do the “stuff” you already love to do.

For example, I love just about anything to do with fitness – ergo I try to make friends with people who also love fitness. That way I can hang out with my buddies and stay fit at the same time – 2 birds – 1 stone.

But, what if everybody at your health club is plugged into their own little ipod world and have no interest in making friends?

No problem.

  1. Talk to the staff. They know which members are cool and which members are jerks.
  2. Join an exercise class – those people are more social
  3. Go outside the gym and look for a Meetup group in your city
  4. Actually start interacting with all of your Facebook & Twitter friends.
  5. Friend me on Facebook (Health Habits and/or the real Me) & Twitter – I actually talk to people
  6. Don’t feel weird about trying to make new friends…we all need friends…but some of us are just to scared/shy/apathetic to take the first step.
  7. Be brave.

Scientific Reference

Omega 3s, Allergies and your Immune System

Winter’s over, Spring is in full bloom and Summer is on the way.

That can mean only one thing. It’s allergy season.

  • Sneezing,
  • sniffling,
  • red eyes,
  • anaphylaxis…

Misery – pure unadulterated misery.

sneeze - calvin and hobbes

All brought on by an overcompensation of your immune system. And why has your immune system gone haywire?

One theory is that as our Western Diet evolved, the ratio of Omega 6 : Omega 3 fatty acids has shifted from a healthy 2:1 ratio to an unhealthy 10:1 ratio.

And because of that imbalance, our bodies have been flooded with inflammatory molecules, leading to “systemic inflammation and a higher incidence of problems including asthma, allergies, diabetes, and arthritis”.

However, according to this study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, there is hope.

The Science

In this study, researchers took 27 healthy human test subjects, and for 5 weeks, fed them a special diet designed to reproduce the Omega 6 : Omega 3 fatty acid ratio our caveman ancestors would have enjoyed.

They then looked at the gene levels of immune signals and cytokines (protein immune messengers), that impact autoimmunity and allergy in blood cells and found that many key signaling genes that promote inflammation were markedly reduced compared to a normal diet, including a signaling gene for a protein called PI3K, a critical early step in autoimmune and allergic inflammation responses.

Translation: Caveman diet lower inflammation…lower inflammation levels mean reduced allergies, asthma, diabetes & arthritis.

Conclusion: Increase your Omega 3s and reduce your Omega 6s.

It’s as simple as eating more fish, walnuts, flax seeds and eating less processed foods, less snack foods, less junk foods, less fast foods and less soy and other polyunsaturated oils.

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Here's why you NEED aerobic exercise

Let’s face it. Cardio is boring. Running laps around a track or pedaling away like some spandex wearing gerbil…..Boring.

But,according to the authors of this new study, “your personal aerobic fitness is not something you will see in the mirror but it is an important predictor of your long-term health,”

“The most important part of physical activity is protecting yourself from diseases that can be fatal or play a significant role in increasing the risk factors for other metabolic diseases.”

The Study

Fatty Liver

For years, we have known that poor aerobic fitness is associated with obesity, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. This new study adds another serious condition to the list – non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

The study also suggests that the resulting liver problems play a crucial step developing obesity-related illnesses. In fact, the study authors think that “Fatty liver disease will be the next big metabolic disorder associated with obesity and inactivity.”

So, to test the link between aerobic fitness and fatty liver disease, the researcher bred a strain of genetically unfit rats. These couch-potato rats could only run an average of 200m compared to over 1500m for the average fit rat.

Leaving both strains of rats to their own devices, the researchers noticed that at 25 weeks, the unfit rats showed clear signs of fatty liver. “By the end of their natural lives, the rats’ livers had sustained damage including fibrosis (the precursor to cirrhosis) and unexpected cell death”.

In contrast, the ‘fit’ group enjoyed heathy livers throughout their lifespans – despite the fact that neither group was getting any real exercise.

The team’s findings provide the first biochemical links between low aerobic fitness and fatty liver disease, and have lead the authors to suggest that NAFLD could potentially be treated or prevented by a suitable exercise program.


  • Aerobic exercise is boring
  • Aerobic exercise prevents fatty liver disease
  • You don’t want fatty liver disease, so
  • Get movin’

The New Ultra-Longevity Diet

Yesterday, Oprah devoted her show to Extreme Life Extension.

During the show, Oprah and Dr. Oz showcased some of the science and technology devoted to extending human life. And, for a health & fitness nerd like myself, it was fun to watch.

If you missed it, here is a synopsis.

Pretty cool, huh?

But what I found most interesting was the discussion about the Life Extension Diet.

For those of you who don’t know about the Life Extension Diet, here is the abridged version:

  • Restrict your caloric intake
  • Get those calories from highly nutritious foods


Except, this is how Oprah’s viewers were introduced to the diet:

Click on the image to see a video showing what it's like to eat like our calorie restricting hero.

A skinny, middle aged guy weighing and measuring everything he eats….and if that wasn’t bad enough, he peels an apple for his breakfast.

And what’s so weird about that?

Because he threw out the apple and ate the peel.


mmmmmmmmmmmmmm, apple peel.

These people need to hire a better marketing company.

They need to:

  • Down play the caloric restriction – people don’t like being hungry
  • Upsell the sizzle of the steak


  • Make my mouth water over bowls of luscious fruit


  • And hire some sexy celebrity(ies) to glam things up a bit.

I mean, seriously, who is more likely to get America hooked onto the Longevity Diet?

Matthew McConaughey

or this guy…

and be honest.

You know that sex sells better than brains any day of the week.

So, with that in mind, here’s my attempt at marketing the new and improved…

Ultra-Longevity Diet

  • Endorsed by Matthew McConaughey
  • Loaded with sizzling steaks and fruit smoothies
  • Guaranteed to give you limitless energy & vitality
  • You’ll live longer than you can even imagine
  • And your sex life will be off the charts….

All for the low, low price of $19.99


If you like what you see here, click here for updates


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The Latest in Weight Loss Research: Cryotherapy

A quick dip into the frigid water, and he lost 80 lbs and found the girl of his dreams
Gus couldn’t believe his luck:  A quick dip into the frigid water, and he lost 90 lbs and found the girl of his dreams

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute  may have discovered the holy grail of fat loss.

The only problem?

In order for their plan to work, dieters may be required to subject their chubby love handles and thunder thighs to extremely low temperatures.

The Research


In their study, the researchers found that “mice exposed to low temperatures develop more blood vessels in their adipose tissue and metabolize body fat more quickly.”

Prior studies told the researchers that the growth of fat cells depends on oxygen and blood-borne nutrients. So, because of that discovery, they theorized that body fat loss can be manipulated by altering the development of blood vessels in the fat itself.

To test this theory, they exposed a group of “pleasantly plump” mice to a low temperature environment.

  • This resulted in the mice developing new blood vessels in their fat tissue.
  • This resulted in the transformation of Mickey’s normal “white” fat into the more metabolically active “brown” fat.
  • And since brown fat breaks down more quickly than white fat, the fat mice became skinny mice.

What does this mean for us?


frying-baconThe big brains at Karolinska believe that by increasing the blood vessel development in your fat tissue, you should be able to melt off your body-fat faster than a pound of bacon hitting a hot griddle.

The bad news?

This is very early in the research and a treatment is years away at best….if ever.

So, what now?

Maybe we should try taking a cue from Big Gus and join the local Polar Bear club….just kidding, that cold water could give you a heart attack.


If you like what you see here, click here for updates or Share this Post with the rest of the world.


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Why Do We Get OLD?

Harvard researchers may have just found the “root cause of aging”: A group of proteins called sirtuins.

For a decade or so, scientists have known that these sirtuins are somehow involved in the aging process. But their interest in these sirtuins only took off when they discovered that…

…would stimulate the sirtuins into having a positive effect on aging.

So What Exactly Do Sirtuins Do?

sleeping-guardSirtuins are like a genetic watch dog.

They keep an eye on select genes to see which are turned on and which are turned off. Kind of like a security guard keeping an eye of the security video monitors.

Here’s why:

  • While all genes are present in all cells, only a select few need to be active at any given time.
  • If the wrong genes are switched on, this can harm the cell.
  • For example, in a kidney cell, there are liver genes present, but they are switched off. If these liver genes were to become active, that could damage the kidney.

The sirtuins guard the genes that are supposed to be off and ensure that they stay that way.

To do this, they help preserve the molecular packaging—called chromatin—that shrink-wraps these genes tight and keeps them idle.

But that’s not all. Sirtuins have another important job.

When your DNA gets damaged by UV light or free radicals, sirtuins stop their security guard duties and rush to the site of the damaged DNA and join in on the repair.

All of this leads us to…

The Latest Research

In this stnew udy, the researchers found that when the sirtuins left their guard posts and rushed towards the damaged DNA, the chromatin wrapping (or shrink-wrap) covering the sleeping genes could start to unravel, and the genes that were meant to be inactive (or regulated) could in fact become active (or un-regulated).

Apparently, this isn’t a good thing to have happen.

A Sirtuin re-wraps a Gene and puts it back to sleep

Luckily for us, the sirtuins are usually able to return to their post in time to get the awakened genes back under wraps before they cause any permanent damage.

However, in this latest study, the researchers found that as their little lab mice age, their rates of DNA damage increases.

This means that the sirtuins are being pulled away from their guard duties more and more often.

As a result, more and more sleeping genes wake up, break out of their shrink-wrap and break free before the sirtuins can return and put them back to sleep.

Once again, not a good to have happen. And it gets even worse,

  • Scientists found that many of these haplessly activated genes are directly linked with aging, and that
  • They also found that older mice had higher numbers of these unregulated genes.

But don’t despair, my news eventually gets better:

The Good News

Discovery of the mechanism behind all of this bad news has led to a hypothesis on how to reverse this action and potentially reverse signs of aging.

Scientists began wondering what would happen if they put more of the sirtuin back into their aging test mice.

They believed that with more sirtuins on the job, DNA repair would be more efficient, and the aging mouse would maintain a youthful pattern of gene expression into old age.

And that’s precisely what happened.

Using a mouse genetically altered to model lymphoma, researcher Philipp Oberdoerffer administered extra copies of the sirtuin gene, or fed them the sirtuin activator resveratrol, which in turn extended their lifespan by 24 to 46 percent.


Because of this research, we now know that while DNA damage increases the rate of aging, it isn’t the actual cause of aging.

Un-regulated genes are the cause of aging.

And, because of this research, we also know that if we can help the sirtuins keep regulated genes from becoming un-regulated, the elements of aging can be reversed.

Big news people, big news. At least for the little lab mice. Tests on humans have yet to be scheduled.

So, for now, you can either wait for the science to come to a proper conclusion, or you can load up on some resveratrol.

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4 Steps to Developing Health Habits

We all know someone who is always saying that they are going to “get into shape”.

But, they never do. They know what to do, but they just don’t do it.

Basically, the opposite of Nike

So, how do we get them to do it? Glad you asked.

This study found that individuals who focused on behavior-changing strategies were much more successful than those people forced to endure their doctor’s cognitive approach to behavior change.

Instead of attempting to change their knowledge, beliefs and attitudes surrounding exercise and healthy eating, study participants were successful at increasing their physical activity levels by implementing 4 simple strategies:

Goal Setting

Setting SMART fitness goals involves 5 steps:

  • S – A specific fitness goal could be a walk each morning before breakfast.
  • M – For a goal to be measurable, you should define how far you are going to walk and how often you will perform the workout
  • A – To be achievable, you should start off with a task that you can achieve, knowing that the distance / intensity will increase as for fitness improves.
  • R – To be relevant, your goal should be in tune with your overall fitness goal – weight loss, improved blood pressure, etc.
  • T – To avoid ‘accidentally’ missing a workout, you should arrange a specific exercise appointment in your daily calendar.

Stimulus or Cues

Establish physical reminders to encourage yourself to exercise – Pack your gym bag and leave it by the front door every night, leave yourself notes encouraging yourself to work out, schedule your workout into your electronic schedule with an alarm, ask friends or family to call and remind you…really any reminder will help.

Self Monitoring

Keep a workout and/or food log book. It’s tough at first, but it pays off in the end.


Reward yourself with a non-food based treat when you succeed. The rewards should become larger / more important to match the degree of fitness success.

Successfully completing today’s workout deserves a small treat, but not missing a workout for 3 months deserves a really big pat on the back.

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Why is America so Fat

Why is America so Fat? – In Utero Big Macs

Q:  Why is America so fat?

A:  New research shows that moms who eat junk food (a diet high in sugar, fat and salt) are dooming their kids to a life of obesity, high blood sugar, high levels of circulating insulin, high triglycerides and/or cholesterol.

Why is America so Fat

This study showed that a “maternal junk food diet promotes adiposity in offspring and brings on the earlier onset of hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia and/or hyperlipidemia”.

Even when the little lab rats were switched over to the “healthy” rat chow, they still had excess body-fat and enlarged fat cells. Unluckiest of all were the Big Mac eating girl rats, who showed significantly higher levels of…

  • IGF-1,
  • IRS-1,
  • VEGF-A,
  • PPARã,
  • leptin,
  • adiponectin,
  • adipsin,
  • LPL,
  • Glut 1,
  • and Glut 3 mRNAexpression than their non-twinkie eating sisters.

The male rats got off a little bit easier. They showed elevated levels of only IRS-1, VEGF-A, Glut 4 and LPL, when compared to their carrot eating brothers. No idea why there was a difference between the males and females.

The study’s authors concluded that, “a maternal junk food diet promotes adiposity in offspring and the earlier onset of hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia and/orhyperlipidemia. Male and female offspring also display a different metabolic, cellular and molecular response to junk-food-diet induced adiposity”.

Why is America so Fat

What does this mean?

First off, let’s not blame it all on Mom – Mom has it hard enough without this kind of guilt being dumped in their laps.

However, this study does show that the 9 month gestational period has an enormous effect on the rest of the baby’s life. When a mom-to-be succumbs to the lure of the Golden Arches, she may be setting her unborn child up for a lifetime of obesity, health problems, societal stigma, stress, depression, etc…

The list goes on and on.

To avoid these problems, Mom NEEDS to eat healthy if she wants healthy babies.

Energy System Training Makes Your Heart Healthier and Stronger

Improve your Heart with Short Workouts

A recent study has concluded that short bouts of high intensity exercise is as effective at improving the structure and function of your heart’s arteries as the traditional long duration cardio-vascular training.

Participants in the study were divided into two groups:

  • The “sprint” group performed only 3 workouts per week. Each workout consisted of 4 to 6 sets of 30 second sprints on an exercise bike. The participants pedaled slowly for 4 1/2 minutes between sets of sprints.
  • The “cardio” group worked out 5 times per week. Each workout consisted of 40-60 min of cycling at 65% of their VO2peak.

After 6 weeks, both groups showed similar improvement of arterial structure and function.

Why Is This Important?

Traditionally, as we age, our arteries become stiff and lose their ability to dilate. This leads to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

And if you don’t know why that is important, please click the above links and spend some time at the Mayo Clinic site. You might be visiting sooner than you think.

Let’s Review

  • HIIT sprints are as effective as Endurance or Cardio training at preventing age related arterial stiffening.
  • Sprint training requires a commitment of 20-30 minutes, 3 times per week (60-90 min per week) to effect that improvement.
  • Endurance training requires 40-60 minutes, 5 times per week (200-300 min per week) to effect the desired improvement.

Why wouldn’t you choose HIIT sprints?

It’s your choice.


Exercise Bike Sprints

Hill Sprints – the before picture

Hill Sprints – the after picture

Tabata training – Resistance Training Sprint Intervals

  • For a more thorough look into High Intensity Interval Training and Energy System Training in general, check out this post.
  • Or, see this post if you need help designing your own HIIT workout program.

5 Steps to a Healthy – Fat Melting Meal Plan

In my 19+ years as a personal trainer, most of my clients came to me to help them lose weight.

More specifically, my job was to help them melt the body-fat that encased their soon-to-be fit bodies.

While I can’t be there with you to design and monitor your workouts, I can give you my 5 step meal plan that EVERY successful client of mine followed to melt away their body-fat.

STEP 1 – Fruit for breakfast. Every day.

  • Fresh fruit in season.
  • Frozen fruit left to thaw in the fridge overnight during the rest of the year.


In addition to the great taste, fruit is loaded with cancer fighting fiber, vitamins and minerals and high levels of antioxidant phytochemicals.

USDA data on foods with high levels of antioxidant phytochemicals
Food Serving size Antioxidant capacity per serving size[6]
Cinnamon, ground 100 grams 267,536
Aronia black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) 100 grams 16062
Small Red Bean ½ cup dried beans 13727
Wild blueberry 1 cup 13427
Red kidney bean ½ cup dried beans 13259
Pinto bean ½ cup 11864
Blueberry 1 cup (cultivated berries) 9019
Cranberry 1 cup (whole berries) 8983
Artichoke hearts 1 cup, cooked 7904
Blackberry 1 cup (cultivated berries) 7701
Prune ½ cup 7291
Raspberry 1 cup 6058
Strawberry 1 cup 5938
Red Delicious apple 1 apple 5900
Granny Smith apple 1 apple 5381
Pecan 1 oz 5095
Sweet cherry 1 cup 4873
Black plum 1 plum 4844
Russet potato 1, cooked 4649
Black bean ½ cup dried beans 4181
Plum 1 plum 4118
Gala apple 1 apple 3903

STEP 2 – Replace Lunch-time Sandwiches with Lettuce Wraps

This might seem strange at first, but when you realize how much body-fat you will lose just by replacing 2 plain slices of bread with a single lettuce leaf ( 16 3/4 lbs. each and every year ), most people are willing to give it a try.

You can also replace your normal lunch with healthy soups, stews or salads.

lettuce wraps

STEP 3 – Replace your vending machine afternoon snack with spicy seeds and nuts

spicy nuts

Here is a quick recipe that I borrowed from Julie B’s Hive

Nueces Y Pepitas Picantes (Spicy Nuts and Seeds)


  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 10 small garlic clove
  • 1 1/2 cups raw peanuts
  • 1 1/2 cups raw hulled green pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4-1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 275°.
  2. In a frying pan over medium-low heat, warm the oil. Add the garlic cloves and sauté until they begin to turn tan, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the nuts and seeds, coating them well with the oil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and the ground chile, just a pinch at a time, until the taste just tingles the tongue.
  3. Spread the nuts and seeds evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a bowl, sprinkle with more salt, if needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

STEP 4 – Meat & Vegetables

Replace the typical North American dinner of fatty protein served over complex carbs covered in a sauce of saturated fat and washed down with a big glass of high fructose corn syrup based liquid with something straight out of Leave it to Beaver. Meat and vegetables.

meat-and-salad health nutrition food diet fitness healthhabits

The meat can be beef,pork,poultry,fish,tofu,etc… Make it healthy.

You are free to choose your own vegetables, but try not to load up on the potatoes. And no french fries or potato chips.

STEP 5 – Eat fish or supplement with fish oils.

Fish, especially fish loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids are too good for you to ignore. There is a lot of research showing that the Omega 3s help your body to burn body-fat more efficiently.

For all those moms to be out there, I recently posted an article about Omega 3 fatty acids and their positive effects on your child’s brain.

Note: Keep in mind that I am not a doctor or heart specialist or scientist devoted to promoting the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids. However, I have read a lot of the research into Omega 3 fish oils. I have also seen them work all sorts of magic on my clients body-fat, allergies and creaky joints. In my personal opinion, I think they are a fantastic product to supplement your diet.

Here are a few tips:

  • Supplement with fish oils that have been labeled Pharmaceutical Grade or Molecularly Distilled. Keep in mind that it is a little like the wild west out there with fish oil supplements. You may need to do a little research and even ask a few questions.
  • The University of Guelph run International Fish Oil Standards tests fish oil supplements for their purity. Their website is here.
  • I personally use the Ascenta brand Nutra-Sea fish oil. They were one of the first and have been tested by the U of G (passed). Here is a sample test report from their website.

Okay, there you go – 5 Steps to a Healthy – Fat Melting Meal Plan

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Boomers Active Lifestyle ensures life long Health and Vitality

A new long-term study, published in the July issue of the American Journal of Public Health, concluded that physically active Boomers can expect to avoid the physical disabilities that their inactive peers will suffer from.

  • The study, looked at 805 adults (between the ages 50 and 72 at enrollment) over the 13 years from 1989 to 2002. Each year, the participants answered survey questions about their overall health and vitality and rated themselves on their ability (or inability) to do tasks such as dressing, eating and reaching.
  • Study participants also reported their level of activity and were considered “active” if they exercised vigorously (running, brisk walking, swimming, biking, resistance training and/or hiking) for more than 60 minutes per week. They were considered “inactive” if they exercised 60 minutes or less per week.

While it isn’t surprising that the normal weight and active group had the lowest disability score, one of the most interesting results of this study was that the active yet overweight group had far lower disabilty than the normal weight but inactive group.

And with the leading edge of North America’s Baby Boomers about to enter their ‘senior’ years, it’s nice to know that this most fitness conscious generation will be reaping what they have sown.

exercise prescription health healthhabits

U.S. Surgeon General Issues Exercise Prescription

Rear Admiral Steven Galson, the U.S. acting Surgeon General, is calling on the nation’s doctors to prescribe exercise to patients who would benefit from being more physically active. Thanks to the support of the California Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, over 2,000 doctors have just signed up to support this new initiative.

  • Lunges instead of Lipitor.
  • Vegetables instead of vasodilators.
  • Healthy food instead of Hospitals.
  • Alliteration instead of Alli.

Alright – Enough of that. Anyone who has read this blog knows that I have a strong interest in this subject.

While I don’t believe that government should even try to legislate exercise and healthy nutrition, if there are going to become involved with health care, health promotion is the way to go.

Hopefully, doctors still have enough credibility to effect a lifestyle change in their patients.

If you are interested in learning more about this subject, here are some articles:

Omega 3s Build Better Brains

In a study led by Harvard’s  Dr. Emily Oken, researchers concluded that Moms-to-be who ate fish high in Omega 3 fatty acids birthed babies with higher cognitive functions as compared to Moms who avoided seafood.

Conversely, the study also found that the amount of mercury in a woman’s body rose with the amount of fish she had consumed. Children that were exposed to these higher levels of mercury performed worse on the same cognitive tests.

WHAT?   How does that make any sense?

  • Eat fish and your kids will grow up to be a super genius.
  • Eat fish, expose your child to mercury, and he/she will grow up to be something less than a super genius.

What are we supposed to do with this nugget of science?

Based on their findings, the researchers say that it’s possible that eating Omega 3 fish could produce greater brain benefits for babies if mothers-to-be consumed seafood with lower mercury levels.

Well…thanks very much Captain Obvious.

Okay, enough sarcasm, here’s the bottom line...

Moms-to-be need to start eating fish that is high in Omega 3 fatty acids but low in Mercury content. The following charts and links should help with that.

  • Supplement with fish oils that have been labeled Pharmaceutical Grade or Molecularly Distilled. Keep in mind that it is a little like the wild west out there with fish oil supplements. You may need to do a little research and even ask a few questions.
  • The University of Guelph run International Fish Oil Standards tests fish oil supplements for their purity. Their website is here.
  • I personally use the Ascenta brand Nutra-Sea fish oil. You can enter the batch number of your purchased product in their website to see the specific third part purity report, or you can see a sample report here.

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If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

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Stand Up Straight…your posture is making you look short and fat

Is Your Poor Posture Making You Look Short and Fat?

Two of the most common postural flaws I see are:

Postural Flaw #1  –  Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Which leads to Lordosis

Unfortunately, Anterior Pelvic tilt & Lordosis manifest themselves as a protruding Gut and Butt. And no one likes that.

Postural Flaw #2  –  Kyphosis

Kyphosis and a ‘forward head’ position makes you look hunched over and appear shorter. And once again, no one wants that.

your posture is making you look short and fat

But wait…it gets worse

When you are unwise enough to put kyphosis together with lordosis, you end up with…

  • the whole looking fat and short thing PLUS,
  • headaches,
  • neck pain,
  • bicep tendinitis,
  • dry mouth,
  • pain under the shoulder blades,
  • mid back pain, lower back pain,
  • lateral knee pain,
  • torn knee ligaments,
  • hamstring tears,
  • plantar fasciitis and
  • sciatica.


This is what you should look like.

Here is a postural analysis video that should provide additional detail.

So What Do I Do About It?

The short answer is that you need to stretch some muscles:

  • Psoas
  • Iliacus
  • Rectus Femoris
  • Tensor Fascia Latae
  • Spinal Erectors (special care here)
  • Pectoralis Major
  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Teres Major
  • Anterior Deltoid
  • Subscapularis
  • Upper Trapezius
  • Levator Scapulae
  • Suboccipitals
  • Sternocleidomastoid

and strengthen other muscles:

  • Rectus Abdominis
  • External Obliques
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Mid/Lower Trapezius
  • Rhomboids
  • Pectoralis Minor

The long answer will require you visiting a physiotherapist or an osteopath or some other postural guru.


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Science Says…Diet and Exercise Prevent Diabetes

In a study published in the Lancet, Chinese researchers studied the effectiveness of long term lifestyle modifications (diet and exercise) at reducing the rate of type 2 diabetes in a high risk population.

577 high-risk Chinese adults were divided into four groups –

  1. Exercise only,
  2. Diet only,
  3. Diet and Exercise,
  4. and the control group who received no behaviour modification.

At the end of this 20 year study, the scientists found that those in the combined diet and exercise group had a 43% lower rate of incidence of diabetes when compared to the control group.


So, what does this tell us?

  1. Diet & exercise prevent diabetes
  2. If you choose to eat a diet of high carb, high fat foods, and choose to combine that junk with a lifestyle of inactivity…you are way more likely to suffer the consequences of type 2 diabetes.

Short Term Consequences of T2 Diabetes

  • High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
  • Increased ketones in your urine (diabetic ketoacidosis)
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)

Long Term Consequences of T2 Diabetes

  • Heart and blood vessel disease
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy)
  • Kidney damage (nephropathy)
  • Eye damage
  • Foot damage
  • Skin and mouth conditions
  • Osteoporosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Conversely, if you choose to eat a diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and lean protein, and you choose to combine that healthy diet with an active lifestyle…you can expect to live a long life free from the worry of sugar induced blindness and amputation.

It’s YOUR choice. But before you choose, just remember…Just as a healthy diet and exercise prevent diabetes, an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise can cause diabetes

If you want to make some changes in your life, here are some articles you may find interesting:

pushups healthhabits

Like this article???

If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

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