- Written by Jane Miller
Here is a video by one of our silks students, Felice Riley. This was the audition video she put together for a performance Lake Worth Playhouse is doing. Good luck, Felice! Hope you get the part! Break a leg!
- Written by Jane Miller
By Dr. Mercola
Brazilian researchers have revealed a simple test that may help predict your longevity in the next six or so years: how well you can sit and rise from the floor.
The test is different from the long-used "chair test," which physicians sometimes use to gauge an elderly person's lower body strength by how well they can stand up from sitting in a chair.
The new test, a sitting-rising test (SRT), involves a score of 0-5 for each movement (sitting and rising), with a combined 10 being the highest score, awarded for those who can sit and rise from the floor without any assistance from their hands or knees.
Getting Up and Down Easily from the Floor is a Marker of Longevity
The SRT test, which can be used on middle-aged and elderly adults, is incredibly simple. Sit down on the floor, and then get up, using as little assistance from your hands, knees or other body parts as possible. For each body part that you use for support, you'll lose one point from the possible top score of 10.
"Application of a simple and safe assessment tool such as SRT, which is influenced by muscular strength and flexibility, in general health examinations could add relevant information regarding functional capabilities and outcomes in non-hospitalized adults," the researchers noted.
For instance, if you put one hand on the floor for support to sit down, then use a knee and a hand to help you get up, you'll "lose" three points for a combined score of 7. What do the numbers mean? They correlated strongly with participants' risk of death during the study period of just over six years. For each unit increase in SRT score, participants gained a 21 percent improvement in survival. Specifically:1
- Those who scored 0-3 were 6.5 times more likely to die during the study than those who scored 8-10
- Those who scored 3.5 to 5.5 were 3.8 times more likely to die
- Those who scored 6 to 7.5 were 1.8 times more likely to die
While I wouldn't take the results of this study as "gospel" and become distressed if you are 30 years old and score a three, it does provide an interesting perspective on the connection between mobility and health and can provide encouragement for many to get back in shape. Even if you have been exercising like I have for coming up on five decades it still can be a challenge.
Personally I found the only way I can do it is to roll backward and use my momentum to help me get up. But I am working on it and hopefully will regain the flexibility/muscle strength to get up unassisted.
What is it That Makes the Sitting-Rising Test so Useful?
Quite simply, it's a measure of your fitness at the most basic level, testing not only muscular strength but also flexibility, balance and motor coordination. All of these attributes are essential for day-to-day living, and for maintaining your independence as you age.
And though the study didn't measure this directly, there's quite a good chance that those who are capable of easily sitting and standing without assistance are also those who engage in regular physical activity, which is helping to keep them agile and healthy.
Over 50 percent of American men, and 60 percent of American women, never engage in any vigorous physical activity lasting more than 10 minutes per week – and only 25 percent of women and 31 percent of men engage in vigorous exercise at least three times per week.2 This is despite a growing body of research clearly showing that "exercise deficiency" threatens your overall health and mental well-being, and shortens your lifespan.
In fact, according to research published in the American Journal of Physiology,3 the best way to stay young is to simply start exercising, as it triggers mitochondrial biogenesis, a decline of which is common in aging. This reverses significant age-associated declines in mitochondrial density, and in effect, stops aging in its tracks. A 2011 review in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism4 also pointed out that exercise induces changes in mitochondrial enzyme content and activity, which can increase your cellular energy production and in so doing decrease your risk of chronic disease.
Increasing Mitochondrial Activity Via Regular Exercise May Help Keep You Young
Aside from impacting your skeletal muscle and fat tissue, researchers noted that exercise induces mitochondrial changes that may also benefit your liver, brain and kidneys. The mitochondria is the "power plant" of your cells, responsible for generating the energy that drives all metabolic functions.
Increasing mitochondrial activity is extremely important because free radicals, which are toxic byproducts of metabolism as well as exposures to chemicals, pollutants and other toxins, can overwhelm your body's defenses, leading to oxidative damage to cells and tissues that can destroy cellular proteins, lipids and DNA; this process often leads directly to the loss of mitochondrial function. In the long-term, irreversible damage in the mitochondria can occur, leading to:
- Impaired ability to utilize carbohydrates and fat for energy
- Insulin resistance
- Lower threshold for physical exercise
- Excessive weight gain
- Accelerated aging
Too Much Sitting is Especially Damaging
Even if you exercise regularly, sitting for long periods is also correlated with a shorter lifespan. Unfortunately, most people spend a large portion of each day in a seated position. It's hard to avoid these days, as computer work predominates, and most also spend many precious hours each week commuting to and from work, and then watching TV or surfing the Web during their leisure time.
Recent research estimates that if you cut back on the amount of time spent sitting to less than three hours a day, it could add two years to your life expectancy.5 On the other hand, according to a study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise6the more time you spend sitting down, the greater your risk of dying from all causes.
Arguably, those who spend the most time sitting and the least amount of time exercising are also those who are likely going to score lower on the sitting-rising test. If you haven't already, I recommend trying the sitting-rising test for yourself. If your score is lower than you'd like, it's a good signal that you should start incorporating some of the longevity tips discussed below.
A Foundational Exercise to Combat the Ravages of Too Much Sitting
One of the things I do to compensate for the time I spend sitting each day is to regularly do Foundation exercises developed by a brilliant chiropractor, Eric Goodman. These exercises are used by many professional and elite athletes, but more importantly can easily address the root cause of most low back pain, which is related to weakness and imbalance among your posterior chain of muscles. It is my belief that that these imbalances are primarily related to sitting.
Foundation Training is all about your core. Your core is anything that connects to your pelvis, whether above or below it, and this includes your hamstrings, glutes, and adductor muscles. Foundation Training teaches all those muscles to work together through integrated chains of movement, which is how you're structurally designed to move, as opposed to compartmentalized movements like crunches.
"The Founder" is one of the key exercises, which helps reinforce proper movement while strengthening the entire back of your body by dispersing your weight through the posterior chains. As a result, your weight shifts back toward your heels and "untucks" your pelvis. By doing so, you lengthen your hip flexors, gaining length at the front of your body. The Founder is an excellent exercise that can help reverse the effects of frequent and prolonged sitting.
Simple Tips for Improving Your Longevity
One of the key things you can do to extend not only the sheer quantity of your years, but more importantly the quality, is to make a few simple changes to your lifestyle. One of the most important changes is optimizing your insulin function through diet and exercise. Regulating your insulin and leptin levels in this way have been found to be key factors in slowing down the aging process. Consuming sugar and grains will increase your insulin level, which is the equivalent of slamming your foot on your aging accelerator. There's simply no more potent way to accelerate aging than sticking to a diet full of sugar and grains.
Previous research has shown that you can extend your lifespan by reducing your caloric intake, but the problem is that most people do not understand how to properly cut calories. In order to remain healthy, you have to cut out calories from a specific source – namely, carbohydrates.
Protein intake should be about one gram per kilogram of lean body mass or less than half a gram per pound of lean body mass. Most people are currently consuming two to three times this much. The key to success with this anti-aging strategy is not necessarily to reduce your calories but replace the missing carbs and protein with healthy fats such as butter, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, the fat from pastured animals, or nuts. Here are the rest of my top "anti-aging" recommendations:
- Proper Food Choices: For a comprehensive food guide, see my free nutrition plan. Generally speaking, you should focus your diet on whole, unprocessed foods (organic vegetables, grass-fed meats, raw dairy, nuts, and so forth) that come from healthy, sustainable, local sources, such as small organic farms near your home. For the best nutrition and health benefits, you will want to eat a good portion of your food raw. Personally, I aim to eat about 75 percent of my food raw, including raw eggs.
Topping the list of foods to avoid is fructose. Eat plenty of natural, unprocessed salt with your food, as higher salt intakehas been tied to longevity. I recommend Himalayan crystal salt. Also include liberal amounts of fermented foods in your daily diet, which are important for optimal immune function.
- Comprehensive Exercise Program, including High-Intensity Exercise like Peak Fitness: Even if you're eating the best diet in the world, you still need to exercise effectively to reach your highest level of health. This means incorporating core-strengthening exercises, strength training, stretching and high-intensity activities into your rotation.
High-intensity interval training boosts human growth hormone (HGH) production, which is essential for optimal health, strength and vigor. I've discussed the importance of Peak Fitness for your health on numerous occasions.
- Stress Reduction and Positive Attitude: You cannot be optimally healthy if you avoid addressing the emotional components of your health. Your emotional state plays a role in nearly every physical disease, from heart disease and depression to arthritis and cancer. Effective coping mechanisms and stress management are major factors in promoting longevity, in part because stress has a direct impact on inflammation, which in turn underlies many of the chronic diseases that kill people prematurely. The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), meditation, yoga, prayer, social support and exercise are all ways to help you maintain emotional equilibrium.
- The Right Amount of Sleep: Not only is sleep important in preventing illness, but recent research suggests it correlates with longevity as well. Not just enough sleep – but the right amount of sleep. In a 22-year twin study,7 adults who sleptmore than 8 hours per night, or less than 7, showed increased risk of death. Of course, the quality of your sleep is also important, not just the quantity.
- Proper Sun Exposure to Optimize Vitamin D: We have long known that it is best to generate your own vitamin D from sun exposure. If at all possible, I strongly urge you to make sure you're getting out in the sun on a daily basis during the months that UVB rays are able to penetrate the atmosphere. To learn more about how to determine when you can effectively generate vitamin D from sun exposure, please see my previous article, Little Sunshine Mistakes that Can Give You Cancer Instead of Vitamin D.
During times when no UVB's are able to penetrate, and hence will not lead to vitamin D production, you can use a safe tanning bed or an oral vitamin D3 supplement. There is preliminary evidence suggesting that oral vitamin D may not provide the identical benefits, but it's still better than none at all.
- Take High-Quality Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats: Animal-based omega-3 fats are a strong factor in helping people live longer. Many experts believe it's the predominant reason why the Japanese are the longest-lived race on the planet.
- Get your antioxidants from foods: Good sources include blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, beans, and artichokes. Many may also benefit by adding supplemental astaxanthin as a profoundly potent antioxidant.
- Use coconut oil: Another excellent anti-aging food is coconut oil, known to reduce your risk of heart disease andAlzheimer's disease, and lower your cholesterol, among other things.
- Avoid as Many Chemicals, Toxins, and Pollutants as Possible: This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives.
- Avoid Prescription Drugs: Avoiding drugs and the conventional medical system is a good idea if you want to live a long and healthy life. According to data collected by the National Center for Health statistics, poisoning by prescription drugs has now surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. The most commonly abused prescription painkillers (including OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax, and Soma) now cause more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.
Making sure your doctor is properly accredited is also important when you seek medical care. According to a book about degree mills, there are well over 5,000 doctors operating with fake medical degrees in the U.S., and people have died as a result. Additionally, more than half of all PhD degrees in the U.S. are reportedly fakes.
- Written by Dr. Mercola
More and more we are finding the biggest way to combat illness today is to eat organic food, avoid all pesticides, and make sure one gets all their vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals. Sounds simple? The problem the GMO/pesticided food, heavy metal-drug-pesticide waste in water, chemicals in the air, and environment, all contribute to illness and aging to some general degree that appears additive.
These days one must supplement several vitamins [including vitamin D2], minerals, and trace minerals, since they are not in food in a volume that allows for health optimization. When it comes to food, organic is the only healthy option. One can achieve dramatic effects in health and wellness over 2-3 monthswhich will prevent many toxicity and age related diseases in our times.
It is hard to believe it has been known since the 1940's vitamin D prevented cancer, yet the governmentallowed for such low nutritional levels and recommended daily allowances. This is just one of manynutrients that has been limited or eliminated in our diets over the last 60 years.
according to epidemiologist Cedric Garland, DrPH, professor of family and preventive medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. “This is the number one chemopreventive substance on the planet and its natural without side effects.”
Canadian Researchers Discover New Evidence That Vitamin D Shuts Down Cancer CellsResearchers at McGill University have discovered a molecular basis for the cancer preventive effects of vitamin D, whereby its active form essentially shuts down cancer cells.People with higher blood levels of vitamin D live significantly longer than people who have low blood levels of the vitamin.The team, led by McGill professors John White and David Goltzman, of the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Physiology, discovered that the active form of vitamin D acts by several mechanisms to inhibit both the production and function of the protein cMYC. cMYC drives cell division and is active at elevated levels in more than half of all cancers. Their results are published in the latest edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.For the past several years, there has been considerable interest in the role vitamin D plays in improving health and preventing disease. Previous finding show that low levels of vitamin D have been directly associated with various forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Stephen B. Kritchevsky, PhD, Professor of Internal Medicine and Transitional Science at the Wake Forest School of Medicine found a signficant correlation.“We observed vitamin D insufficiency (defined as blood levelsAlthough vitamin D can be obtained from limited dietary sources and directly from exposure to the sun during the spring and summer months, the combination of poor dietary intake and sun avoidance has created vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency in large proportions of many populations worldwide. It is known that vitamin D has a wide range of physiological effects and that correlations exist between insufficient amounts of vitamin D and an increased incidence of a number ofcancer. These correlations are particularly strong for cancers of the digestive tract, including colon cancer, and certain forms of leukemia.“For years, my lab has been dedicated to studying the molecular mechanisms of vitamin D in human cancer cells, particularly its role in stopping their proliferation,” said Prof. White. “We discovered that vitamin D controls both the rate of production and the degradation of cMYC. More importantly, we found that vitamin D strongly stimulates the production of a natural antagonist of cMYC called MXD1, essentially shutting down cMYC function”.The team also applied vitamin D to the skin of mice and observed a drop in the level of cMYC and found evidence of a decrease in its function. Moreover, other mice, which lacked the specific receptor for vitamin D, were found to have strongly elevated levels of cMYC in a number of tissues including skin and the lining of the colon. The finding suggests that topical vitamin D may be just as effective as ingested to prevent cancer.
Chemoprevention Through Vitamin D Without The Side Effects“Taken together, our results show that vitamin D puts the brakes on cMYC function, suggesting that it may slow the progression of cells from premalignant to malignant states and keep their proliferation in check. We hope that our research will encourage people to maintain adequate vitamin D supplementation and will stimulate the development of large, well-controlled cancer chemoprevention trials to test the effects of adequate supplementation,” said Dr. White.It’s been known that vitamin D can prevent that genetic damage. When vitamin D binds to specific receptors, it sets off a chain of events by which many toxic agents including cancer cells are rendered harmless. However, if there is not enough vitamin D the system can become overwhelmed and cancer can develop. “This is one of the reasons that people living closest to the equator have a much lower incidence (or absence) of specific cancers which consequently increase in locations further from the equator.”The link between vitamin D intake and protection from cancer dates from the 1940s when Frank Apperly demonstrated a link between latitude and deaths from cancer, and suggested thatsunlight gave “a relative cancer immunity”.Both D3 and D2 precursors are hydroxylated in the liver and kidneys to form 25- hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), the non-active ‘storage’ form, and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2D), the biologically active form that is tightly controlled by the body.There is growing evidence that 1,25(OH)2D has anticancer effects, but the discovery that non-kidney cells can also hydroxylate 25(OH)D had profound implications, implying that higher 25(OH)D levels could protect against cancer in the local sites.Theories linking vitamin D deficiency to certain cancers have been tested and confirmed in more than 200 epidemiological studies, and understanding of its physiological basis stems from more than 2,500 laboratory studies, according to epidemiologist Cedric Garland, DrPH, professor of family and preventive medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. “This is the number one chemopreventive substance on the planet and its natural without side effects.”Dr. Garland’s findings only lend further credence to the mountain of growing evidence that optimal levels of vitamin D are essential for your health. Here are just a few highlights into some of the most noteworthy findings:* Some 600,000 cases of breast and colorectal cancers could be prevented each year if vitamin D levels among populations worldwide were increased, according to previous research by Dr. Garland and colleagues. And that’s just counting the death toll for two types of cancer.* Optimizing your vitamin D levels could help you to prevent at least 16 different types of cancer including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, prostate, and skin cancers.* A large-scale, randomized, placebo-controlled study on vitamin D and cancer showed that vitamin D can cut overall cancer risk by as much as 60 percent! This was such groundbreaking news that the Canadian Cancer Society has actually begun endorsing the vitamin as a cancer-prevention therapy.* Light-skinned women who had high amounts of long-term sun exposure had half the risk of developing advanced breast cancer (cancer that spreads beyond your breast) as women with lower amounts of regular sun exposure, according to a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology.* A study by Dr. William Grant, Ph.D., internationally recognized research scientist and vitamin D expert, found that about 30 percent of cancer deaths — which amounts to 2 million worldwide and 200,000 in the United States — could be prevented each year with higher levels of vitamin D.Inflammation is likely at the root of many cases of vitamin D deficiency, and all chronic degenerative diseases.
Stay Away From SunscreenSkin color adapts to sunlight intensities which produce vitamin D or ultraviolet light damage to folic acid. Researchers at the University of Leeds suggest that people with very pale skin may be unable to spend enough time in the sun to make the amount of vitamin D the body needs — while also avoiding sunburn. The key is to stay away from conventional subscreen and use non-toxic alternatives to extend exposure time.The further you live from the equator, the longer exposure you need to the sun in order to generate vitamin D. Canada, the UK and most U.S. states are far from the equator and the logic of using sunscreen is quickly becoming illogical even in scientific circles.Unlike fads that sizzled and fizzled, the evidence for Vitamin D’s health benefits is now strong and keeps growing. If it bears out, it will challenge one of medicine’s most fundamental beliefs: that people need to coat themselves with sunscreen whenever they’re in the sun. Doing that may actually contribute to far more cancer deaths than it prevents, some researchers think.The vitamin is D, nicknamed the “sunshine vitamin” because the skin makes it from ultraviolet rays. Sunscreen blocks its production, but dermatologists and health agencies have long preached that such lotions are needed to prevent skin cancer. Now some scientists are questioning that advice. The reason is that vitamin D increasingly seems important for preventing and even treating many types of cancer.
- Comprehensive scientific reviews indicate that 83% of 785 sunscreen products offer inadequate protection from the sun, or contain ingredients with significant safety concerns. Only 17% of the products on the market are both safe and effective, blocking both UVA and UVB radiation, remaining stable in sunlight, and containing few if any ingredients with significant known or suspected health hazards. The assessment is based on a review of nearly 400 scientific studies, industry models of sunscreen efficacy, and toxicity and regulatory information housed in nearly 60 government, academic, and industry databases.
- Many products lack UVA protection. Fully 12% of high SPF sunscreens (SPF of at least 30) protect only from sunburn (UVB radiation), and do not contain ingredients known to protect from UVA radiation, the sun rays linked to skin damage and aging, immune system problems, and potentially skin cancer. FDA does not require that sunscreens guard against UVA radiation.
- Sunscreens break down in the sun. Parodoxically, many sunscreen ingredients break down in the sun, in a matter of minutes or hours, and then let UV radiation through to the skin. Our analyses show that 54% of products on the market contain ingredients that may be unstable alone or in combination, raising questions about whether these products last as long as the label says. FDA has not proposed requirements for sunscreen stability.About the AuthorMae Chan holds degrees in both physiology and nutritional sciences. She is also blogger and and technology enthusiast with a passion for disseminating information about health.
- Written by Dr. Mercola
By Dr. Mercola
When you’re feeling under the weather, is it better to curl up in bed for some rest or push yourself to exercise?
One of the benefits of being fit is that you can take time off and recover and use the reserves that you have built up to help you recover. It is kind of like having stored fat during times of famine.
Your built up fitness levels will provide you with the immune buffers and support to allow your body to effectively address the illness. If you don’t stop exercising you can easily exceed your body’s recovery capacity and actually get worse.
A simple guideline to follow is that if your body is under stress when you’re sick, seek rest as your body mobilizes to fight off the illness. Too much exercise, especially intense exercise, should therefore be avoided, as it will place an additional stressful burden on your already stressed system.
That said, moderate exercise, like walking, is generally fine, as long as you are careful and listen to your body to make sure you don’t overdo it.There are certain times when moderate exercise is actually preferable when you’re sick as well.
When is it OK to Exercise While Sick?
If your symptoms are above your neck, it’s usually ok to exercise, albeit at a lower intensity than you’re used to. This includes symptoms such as:
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Sore throat
If you have enough energy to tolerate it, increasing your body temperature by sweating from exercise will actually help to kill many viruses. In fact, according to research, exercising with a cold may be well advised. At the end of one 10-day trial, those who exercised 40 minutes every-other day, at 70 percent of their maximum heart rate, felt better than those who remained sedentary—even though the clinical severity and duration of their symptoms were virtually identical.1
The key to exercising when you’re sick is to do so carefully. Over-exercising will place more stress on your body, which can suppress your immune system, so you should keep the intensity of your workouts on a moderate level if you're sick. So, you might just go for a brisk walk if you are coming down with a cold, or simply tone down your regular workout. As noted in Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews:2
"Prolonged intense exercise causes immunosuppression, whereas moderate-intensity exercise improves immune function and potentially reduces risk and severity of respiratory viral infections."
6 Surprising Times When a Workout Might do You Good
There are many surprising scenarios when, while you might be tempted to lounge on the couch, exercise is actually just what the doctor ordered. This includes:
- Recovering from Surgery
Hitting the gym after you've had minor surgery can be highly beneficial, helping to both decrease side effects and get you back into the swing of your daily life faster. You will, of course, need to be mindful of the level of intensity and avoid exercises that may stress a surgical incision or repair, but generally speaking the sooner you can get moving after surgery, the better.
- Cancer Patients
Exercising during and after cancer treatment can help reduce your risk of dying from cancer; reduce your risk of cancer recurrence; boost energy; and minimize the side effects of conventional cancer treatment. A report by Macmillan Cancer Support notes that cancer patients and cancer survivors should exercise at least 2.5 hours a week,3 and cites an excerpt from the American College of Sports Medicine consensus statement on exercise guidelines for cancer survivors, which states:
"Exercise is safe both during and after most types of cancer treatment... Patients are advised to avoid inactivity and return to normal daily activities as soon as possible after surgery, and during adjuvant cancer treatments."
- Osteoarthritis or Joint Pain
If you have joint pain, exercise is a must; it helps prevent and relieve joint pain through a number of mechanisms, including strengthening key supportive muscles, restoring flexibility, improving bone density and joint function, and facilitating weight loss.
The notion that exercise is detrimental to your joints is a misconception, as there is no evidence to support this belief. Quite the contrary, actually, as inactivity promotes muscle weakness, joint contractures, and loss of range of motion, which can lead to more pain and loss of function, and even less activity. To break this potentially devastating cycle, regular exercise is essential.
If you have osteoarthritis or joint pain and you find that you're in pain for longer than one hour after your exercise session, you should slow down or choose another form of exercise. Assistive devices are also helpful to decrease the pressure on affected joints during your workout. You may also want to work with a physical therapist or qualified personal trainer who can develop a safe range of activities for you. If the exercise causes pain that persists longer than several hours it most likely was too much.
- Chronic Pain
Exercise can help with long-term pain relief for a variety of conditions, including osteoarthritis, back and musculoskeletal pain. Furthermore, because exercise often leads to improved posture, range of motion and functionality of your body, it can help treat the underlying source of your pain as well as help prevent chronic back pain. Exercises that can be particularly helpful for chronic pain include stretching, resistance training, and swimming.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
If you have the lung disease COPD, exercise can help to improve your circulation, helping your body to use oxygen more efficiently. It may also help to strengthen your heart, improve your symptoms, and boost your energy levels so you can perform more daily activities without fatigue or becoming out of breath.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Dietary strategies are key for healing irritable bowel syndrome at the foundational level, however exercise can help improve IBS symptoms, as well. In one study, exercise led to improvements in problems like cramps, bloating, constipation and diarrhea, with, 43 percent of exercisers showing a significant improvement in their symptoms.4
When Should You NOT Exercise While Sick?
It’s generally advised that you avoid exercise if you have symptoms that are "below your neck," such as:
- Coughing or chest congestion
- Widespread body and muscle aches
- Vomiting, upset stomach and/or stomach cramps
But no matter what your symptoms, you need to be very careful and listen to your body. If you don’t feel up to it, and all you want to do is get some rest, then that’s what your body needs.
And I can’t stress enough that if you don’t feel well, you should not do your full, normal exercise routine, as that could clearly stress your immune system even more and prolong your illness if you are not careful and wind up overdoing it.
High-intensity exercise like Peak Fitness should be avoided when you’re sick, because any kind of intensive exercise boosts production of cortisol, a stress hormone which inhibits the activity of natural killer cells—a type of white blood cell that attacks and rids your body of viral agents. This is why running a marathon can actually increase your chances of getting sick shortly thereafter. In fact, elite endurance athletes can suffer anywhere from two to six times as many upper respiratory infections during a year, compared to average, active individuals.5
If You’re Trading Your Workout for a Good Rest, Make Sure You’re Doing This …
Feeling fatigued when you’re sick is your body’s way of telling you to slow down so you get some much-needed rest while your body heals. A good way to help the recovery process is to ground while you are sleeping.
Grounding, or Earthing, is defined as placing one's bare skin on the ground whether it be dirt, grass, sand or concrete (especially when humid or wet). When you ground to the electron-enriched earth, an improved balance of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system occurs.
The Earth is a natural source of electrons and subtle electrical fields, which are essential for proper functioning of immune systems, circulation, synchronization of biorhythms and other physiological processes and may actually be the most effective, essential, least expensive, and easiest to attain antioxidant. Your immune system functions optimally when your body has an adequate supply of electrons, which are easily and naturally obtained by barefoot contact with the Earth.
When grounding is restored, many people report significant improvement in a wide range of ailments, including chronic fatigue. These changes are rapid and often occur within 30 minutes.
Obviously, most of us are not going to be comfortable sleeping outside on the ground, so the alternative is to use a grounding or Earthing pad, which allows you to get the benefits of the Earth's electrons even if you're indoors, especially when you're sleeping. If you’re not feeling well, grounding while you sleep is highly recommended to help support your recovery.
- Written by Dr. Mercola
By Dr. Mercola
In a presentation in August at the European Society of Cardiology Congress, senior author Francisco Lopez-Jimenez said that people who are of normal weight, but who have a high waist-to-hip ratio (i.e. belly fat), have an even higher risk of death than people who are considered obese, based on BMI alone.
The risk of cardiovascular death was 2.75 times higher, and the risk of death from all causes was 2.08 times higher in people of normal weight with central obesity, compared with those with a normal body mass index and normal waist-to-hip ratio. According to Dr. Lopez-Jimenez:
"We knew from previous research that central obesity is bad, but what is new in this research is that the distribution of the fat is very important even in people with a normal weight. This group has the highest death rate, even higher than those who are considered obese based on body mass index. From a public health perspective, this is a significant finding."
The increased mortality risk accompanying higher ratios of visceral fat — the fat that accumulates around your internal organs — is likely due, at least in part, to increased insulin resistance. As I've stated in many previous articles, insulin and leptin resistance or signaling impairment, is one of the foundational problems underlying virtually all disease, and visceral fat is associated with insulin resistance and other risk factors. Insulin resistance also accelerates the aging process itself.
Your Waist Size May Also Help Assess Your Hypertension Risk
In related news, the importance of your waist-to-hip ratio was again highlighted in a study2 showing that your waist size may also be a more effective measure for assessing obesity-related hypertension risk.
Normally, your blood pressure will drop 10-20 percent during nighttime sleep, compared to your daytime values. A lack of nighttime dipping has previously been observed in overweight and obese populations, suggesting a correlation between non-dipping nighttime blood pressure and an increased risk of hypertension.
The goal of the study was to evaluate the predictive ability of waist-to-hip ratio on nighttime blood pressure dipping, relative to BMI, and while both BMI and waist-to-hip ratio were significant predictors of nighttime dips in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, the waist measurement was more telling. So, if you have a high waist-to-hip ratio, i.e. you carry more fat around your waist than on your hips, you may be at greater risk for obesity-related hypertension, indicated by a reduction in nighttime blood pressure dipping.
Are You Carrying Dangerous Fat Around Your Midsection?
Unfortunately, two out of three people in the U.S. are overweight and one out of three is obese, and the rest of the world is not far behind. It has been my experience that many people are in denial about being overweight, as being "large" has become more or less the norm. But just because something is common does not mean it's a "healthy normal." And we're not talking about aesthetics here.
Certain body compositions do tend to increase your risk of chronic disease, and carrying extra inches around your midsection has been repeatedly shown to increase cardiovascular health risks. Your waist size is also a powerful indicator of insulin sensitivity, as studies clearly show that measuring your waist size is one of the most powerful ways to predict your risk for diabetes.
Waist circumference is far better than BMI for evaluating whether or not you may have a weight problem, as BMI fails to factor in both how muscular you are, and your intra-abdominal fat mass. You can go about measuring your waist in two different ways.
The two featured studies used waist-to-hip measurement. This is done by measuring the circumference of your hips at the widest part, across your buttocks. Then measure your waist at the smallest circumference of your natural waist, just above your belly button. Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement to get the ratio. (The University of Maryland offers an online waist-to-hip ratio calculator3 you can use.) The Mayo Clinic used the following waist-to-hip ratio designations:
Another even simpler method to figure out if you have a weight problem is to measure only your waist circumference (the distance around the smallest area below the rib cage and above your belly button). Waist circumference is the easiest anthropometric measure of total body fat. A general guide for healthy waist circumference is as follows:
How's Your Blood Pressure?
According to the CDC, high blood pressure is the second greatest public health threat in the US. Insulin resistance and elevated uric acid levels are significantly associated with hypertension, so any program adopted to address high blood pressure needs to help normalize these two factors.
Fortunately, this can actually be easier than you might think, but it does require you to make some lifestyle changes. The good news is, if you're carrying a little more weight around your midsection than might be good for your health, and you struggle with high blood pressure and/or elevated uric acid levels, altering your diet will address all of these issues simultaneously.
I recently updated my nutrition plan, which will help guide you step-by-step toward normalizing your insulin and leptin levels, which in turn will help normalize your blood pressure and help you shed excess weight. My plan summarizes all I have learned from treating over 25,000 patients and reviewing tens of thousands of articles on natural health. It's a free resource that can help you and your family radically improve your health, or take it to the next level if you've already started making changes.
Ideally your blood pressure should be about 120/80 without medication. If you are on medication, you will be delighted to know that this nutrition plan tends to normalize elevated blood pressures in the vast majority of people to the point you may no longer need your blood pressure medication. According to the most recent report (issued 2003) by the Joint National Committee (JNC) on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure, the following guidelines apply for determining whether you might suffer from hypertension:
Blood Pressure Classification Systolic Diastolic Normal <120 and <80 Pre-hypertension 120-139 or 80-89 Stage 1 Hypertension 140-159 or 90-99 Stage 2 Hypertension ≥160 or ≥100
per JNC 7 Express, December 2003
How to Avoid a False Hypertension Diagnosis
Keep in mind that your blood pressure readings can vary significantly from day to day – even from morning to evening, and often within the same hour, so don't panic if you get one high reading here or there. It is when your blood pressure remainsconsistently elevated that significant health problems can occur. The following variables can also affect the validity of your blood pressure reading:
- If you're overweight, a size 'average' blood pressure cuff can lead to a falsely elevated blood pressure reading, so make sure your doctor or health care professional is using the right size cuff for your size.
- Incorrect arm position: If your blood pressure is taken while your arm is parallel to your body, your reading can be up to 10 percent higher than it really is. Blood pressure readings should always be taken with your arm at a right angle to your body.
- White coat hypertension, which is an elevation in blood pressure caused by the stress or fear associated with visits to doctors and other medical personnel, can be a transient but serious concern. Stress reduction in this situation is key. To decrease your risk of being falsely diagnosed with hypertension in this situation, I'd encourage you to take a moment to calm down, then breathe deeply and relax when you're getting your blood pressure taken.
Although elevated insulin levels are one of the most potent contributors to elevated blood pressure, it's also common for chronic stress, tension or anxiety to contribute to this problem. After you begin my nutrition plan and follow it for several months, if you don't see an improvement in your blood pressure I'd recommend seeking out a health care professional who is well-versed in using stress-relief methods, such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) for example.
How to Take Control of Your Blood Pressure AND Your Waist Size
To address both of the issues covered in this article: a greater than ideal waist size and high blood pressure, first thing you need to do is remove all grains and sugars, particularly fructose, from your diet until both your weight and your blood pressure have normalized. Again, following my comprehensive nutrition plan can help you take control of your diet in an incremental manner.
To emphasize how important this one action can be, consider the following: According to a 2010 study4, those who consumed 74 grams or more per day of fructose (the equivalent of about 2.5 sugary drinks) had a 77 percent greater risk of having blood pressure levels of 160/100 mmHg. Consuming 74 grams or more of fructose daily also increased the risk of a 135/85 blood pressure reading by 26 percent, and 140/90 by 30 percent.
This is significant because the average American now consumes about 70 grams of fructose EVERY day! Worse yet, about 25 percent of all Americans consume over 134 grams of fructose a day, according to research by Dr. Richard Johnson, chief of the division of kidney disease and hypertension at the University of Colorado, and author of two books on the dangers of fructose, The Sugar Fix, and The Fat Switch.
As a standard recommendation, I strongly advise keeping your TOTAL fructose consumption below 25 grams per day. However, for most people – especially if you struggle with high blood pressure and insulin resistance – it would be wise to limit your fructose to 15 grams or less, as it is virtually guaranteed that you will consume "hidden" sources of fructose from most beverages and just about any processed food you might eat.
Fructose — the Primary Trigger of Your "Fat Switch"
To learn more about how fructose impacts your weight and health, I highly recommend reading Dr. Richard Johnson's new book The Fat Switch. In it, he reviews groundbreaking new research showing that eating too much and exercising too little are NOT solely responsible for why you keep gaining weight or have trouble shedding those excess pounds.
His research shows that metabolic syndrome (characterized by central obesity or increased waist circumference, high blood pressure, and insulin resistance) is actually a normal condition that animals undergo to store fat. Animals' ability to gain "hibernation fat" appears to be regulated by a switch in the mitochondria that is turned on and off by a common food that no longer provides survival advantage to humans living in contemporary society, namely fructose.
Fructose-containing sugars cause weight gain not by the calories they contain, but by triggering this "fat switch," which tells your body it's time to store fat, just as if you were an animal preparing for hibernation. Furthermore, uric acid is increased by fructose, and also causally contributes to obesity and insulin resistance. Effective treatment of obesity therefore requires turning off your fat switch — by avoiding fructose, which is the trigger — and improving the function of your cells' mitochondria.
According to Dr. Johnson:
"Those of us who are obese eat more because of a faulty "switch," and exercise less because of a low energy state. If you can learn how to control the specific "switch" located in the powerhouse of each of your cells – the mitochondria – you hold the key to fighting obesity."
I highly recommend picking up a copy of Dr. Johnson's book, The Fat Switch which has been described as the "Holy Grail" for those struggling with their weight.