Wednesday, February 02, 2011
February is the beginning of my dedication to "practicing presence". That is, I will practice being present when I eat, when I buy food, when I prepare food, when I order food when I eat out, when I exercise, and at many other times of the day as I can practice presence. Checking out when I server myself portions of food, even good food, is still a challenge, and staying present when I am eating it, is the biggest challenge of all. Being present, when I am actually full and not continuing to eat is another challenge. Food is my "drug" of choice, when I want to retreat into my comfort zone and escape from the stress of life. This escaping turns a nourishing substance into a potential poison to my well being. It is a matter of life or death. Choose life and be present or choose death by doing the same thing over and over again and not stay present.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Jack Lalanne died this last weekend at his home in Morro Bay surrounded by his family with the football play offs on the TV. He lived a long and healthy life, doing what he loved. He was a sugarholic as a teenager, his brothers had died of pneumonia and his mother was worried that Jack would die like his brothers. She dragged him to a Paul Bragg "revival" meeting in San Francisco and they were so late that there was not even standing room. Paul Bragg boomed out, "let's not turn anyone away, bring two more chairs..." The only place to put the chairs was on the stage next to Paul Bragg. Imagine the embarrassment that the 15 year old Jack felt, sitting on the stage with his pimply face, next to his worried French mother. It was the turning point in his life. Paul Bragg looked Jack in the eyes and said that "it is never too late to start to change your life and become healthy". Paul Bragg was a powerful health evangelist and he changed Jack's life forever. Jack committed himself to following Bragg's health principles and went on to change the way Americans thought about health and exercise with his long running television show and his famous "Jumping Jacks" and elastic stretch bands. Jack lived to be 96 years old, but more importantly, he exercised 2 hours every day and ate only healthy food, "if man made it, don't eat it" was one of his most common quotes. This daily commitment made it possible for him to live a high quality life until the very end. Who can ask for more, regardless of the length of our lives. Thanks, Jack for inspiring us all!
Thursday, January 20, 2011
A diet of fruits, vegetables and nuts lowers the bad
LDL cholesterol in two weeks by 33 percent, far more than the same
diet with added grains and low fat diary (23 percent), and even
more than by the National Cholesterol Therapeutic Step-2 diet
recommended by doctors for people with high cholesterol (7 percent).
Even more important, the ratios of LDL/HDL cholesterol are
reduced by 24 percent, 12 percent, and 5 percent respectively
(Epidemiology, March 2006).
This study by David Jenkins and many other studies
show that the most effective way to lower high cholesterol and
blood pressure, prevent heart attacks and prolong life is to avoid
taking in more calories than you burn. Limiting food intake to
just fruits, vegetables and nuts makes it very difficult to meet
your needs for calories. You have to eat all day long to get
enough calories just to maintain your weight. This diet is almost
the same as what human ancestors ate 4 to 7 million years ago
before they split off in development from apes, who eat almost
the same way in the wild today.
Further evidence that extra calories cause heart attacks
comes from the fact that reducing your intake of calories by one
third and eating nothing but fatty meats and diary products will
cause your blood cholesterol level to go down (European Heart
Journal Supplements, 1999;1(S):S19-S23). Saturated fats are
broken down in your liver to two-carbon acetone units. If you
take in more calories than you need, the acetone units are used
as building blocks to make cholesterol and your blood cholesterol
level rises. On the other hand, if you are not taking in extra
calories, the acetone units are burned for energy and do not raise
The fruit-vegetable-nut diet is extremely low in significant
amounts of starch because humans did not eat large amounts of
grains until the agricultural revolution about 10,000 years ago.
By adding whole grains and animal products to the fruit-vegetable-
nut diet, humans suddenly increased their caloric intake
dramatically. Their bodies were used to trying to get every calorie
they could possibly get from the food that they eat. Now they
could get all the calories they needed. As long as they were very
active physically, they could compensate for the extra calories
that they could take in and use. However, as soon as humans
stop being physically active, they start to store extra calories
as fat and it is the extra fat that causes much of modern day
Adding low-fat dairy products, whole grains and dried
beans to a fruit-vegetable-nut diet creates a diet that is low in
saturated fat and low in cholesterol. This is the basis of the
therapeutic diets recommended by most physicians to help prevent
heart attacks today, yet these diets are significantly less
effective than the fruit-vegetable-nut diet that forces severe
The most unhealthful diet is one that allows you to take
in more calories than you need *so you store more fat in your
muscles, *fat in cells blocks insulin receptors, *your cells stop
responding to insulin, *your blood sugar rises, *sugar sticks to
cell membranes to damage cells and cause *diabetes, heart
attacks, strokes, cancers, and premature death.
If you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart
disease or diabetes, try limiting your diet to fruits, vegetables
and nuts for just two weeks. It is likely that your cholesterol
and blood pressure will drop significantly in that short time, and
you will have identified the source of your problem.
Dr. Gabe Mirkin's Fitness and Health E-Zine
January 23, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
Gabe Mirkin, M.D.
You exercise so intensely that your muscles burn and you gasp for breath. Then you slow down for a minute or two, catch your breath, and then go very fast again. This training technique has been used in all endurance sports since the 1920's. Now George Brooks of the University of California at Berkeley has shown why interval training makes you a better athlete (American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, June 2006).
Inside each muscle cell are mitochondria, the little furnaces that burn fuel for energy. A major fuel for your muscles during exercise is the sugar, glucose. In a series of chemical reactions, glucose is broken down step by step, with each step releasing energy. When enough oxygen is available, the glucose releases all of its energy until only carbon dioxide and water remain; these are blown off through your lungs. However, if not enough oxygen is available, the chemical reactions stop at lactic acid which accumulates in the muscles and spills over into the bloodstream. Lactic acid makes muscles acidic and causes a burning feeling. This recent research shows that lactic acid is the most efficient source of energy for muscles. Anything that helps muscles to break down lactic acid faster will make you a better athlete because it will increase your endurance and allow you to move faster when you are tired.
Since lactic acid is burned for energy in the mitochondria, anything that enlarges the mitochondria builds a bigger furnace and helps to increase endurance. Lactic acid is carried from the cells into the mitochondria by special proteins called lactate transporter molecules, so anything that increases these molecules will build endurance. An enzyme called lactic acid dehydrogenase is needed to start the reaction, so anything that increases this enzyme will also help. Interval training does all three: it enlarges the furnace (mitochondria), increases lactic acid transporter molecules, and increases the amount of lactic acid dehydrogenase. www.DrMirkin.com
Monday, January 10, 2011
Dr. Gabe Mirkin's Fitness and Health E-Zine
Muscle Sugar: Train Low and Compete High
January 9, 2011
Muscles use carbohydrates, fats and proteins for energy. You can improve both endurance and speed in athletic competitions lasting more than a couple hours by training your muscles to burn more sugar and less protein and fat during competition.
The most efficient fuel for muscles during exercise is carbohydrates (sugar). The limiting factor for how fast you can move is the time it takes to move oxygen into muscles. Since sugar requires less oxygen than protein or fat, you move faster when your muscles burn primarily sugar. How far you can run, cycle, ski, or skate depends on how much sugar you can store in your muscles before you start exercising and how long you can keep the extra sugar there. When muscles run out of their stored sugar, muscles hurt and you feel tired.
Advantages of Training on Depleted Glycogen
You can teach your muscles to burn more sugar and less fat by starting some of your workouts with muscles that are low in their stored sugar, called glycogen. This forces muscles to burn a higher percentage of fat. However, muscles move faster when they use sugar for fuel, so they try to burn more sugar. They increase the concentration of the many enzymes that help to convert sugar to energy. This allows muscles to burn a higher percentage of sugar during competition so athletes can go faster and improve their chances of winning.
Ways to Deplete Muscle Glycogen
You can start your workouts with low muscle glycogen by: *training after skipping breakfast; *training twice a day, so your muscles have low stored sugar during your second workout of the day; *restricting carbohydrates in your diet during training; *taking prolonged workouts that empty your muscles of stored sugar, or *withholding carbohydrates after a hard workout. The key is to train with low amounts of stored muscle sugar and race with muscles full of stored sugar (Exercise and Sports Science Reviews, October 2010).
How to Increase Sugar-burning Enzymes in Muscles
You can't start all your training workouts with low muscle sugar because it will slow you down, reduce the amount of miles you can do in training, and increase your chances of injuring yourself.
Knowledgeable athletes train by stressing and recovering. They take a hard workout on one day, feel sore on the next, and then take easier workouts until the soreness disappears. They do very intense workouts up to three times a week, rarely on consecutive days. These intense workouts should be taken with muscles full of sugar, so you should eat before your intense workouts and even take sugar during the workout.
However, on your four recovery days, try starting your workouts without eating breakfast. If you feel excess fatigue, your muscles hurt or you have little energy, shorten your workouts and immediately eat extra carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and even whole grain bread or pasta.
If you find that you are fatigued too often and take too long to recover from workouts, abandon this training technique. It is not for you. You probably have to take in a lot of sugar during training just to keep up the intensity and volume of work that is required to be a competitive athlete.
What to Do Before Competition
Hundreds of research papers show that you can increase endurance and intensity in competition by filling your muscles with sugar before you compete and then taking sugar during competition. Athletes in endurance events should cut back on their training three days before major competitions and eat extra carbohydrates. This fills their muscles with extra sugar. They should eat a high-carbohydrate breakfast and take sugar during the competition to keep up a regular sugar supply for their muscles. www.drmirkin.com
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