Monthly Archives: October 2014

9 Simple Ways To Bring More Gratitude Into Your Life



Click here for this MindBodyGreen article

1. Tell someone.

Share with one person a day when you are grateful for them — give a genuine thanks. Extra points for directing your gratitude toward a relationship in which you’re struggling. This can also help redirect your brain when you’re frustrated, as it steers the focus toward the positive efforts the frustrating culprit is likely trying to make.

2. Keep a gratitude jar.

Start on January 1, your birthday, or any day you want, really. Every time you feel the urge, make a small note of what you’re thankful for, place it in the jar and read it when the year’s through (or earlier if needed!). This gives back twice: once when you write it, and once when you read it.

3. Say it out loud.

For most people reading this, the list of reasons to be grateful is lengthy. Whether it’s your health, family, friends, home or simply being grateful for today and tomorrow, saying it out loud can cement that feeling of thanks. I wasn’t raised in a religious household, but I imagine it to be similar to praying and can be practiced at night before bed, or in the morning to start the day if desired.

4. Travel.

Travel often puts our good fortune into a bigger context, and it doesn’t have to be a far-away place. If you’re strapped for time, money, or ability to travel, try people watching in a coffee shop or park in another neighborhood you’ll likely get some fresh perspective.

5. Help someone.

Volunteer, or call that great aunt who has trouble getting around, or that friend without a ride. Even if your help isn’t needed, the gesture will be appreciated!

6. Celebrate.

Don’t be afraid to call attention to those things that make you feel blessed — in fact, why not celebrate them? Whether it’s a toast at dinner or just a moment with loved ones to reflect, sometimes we shouldn’t hold back our sense of gratitude and should share it instead.

7. Notice the small things.

Sometimes life can seem brutal; big pieces of the mosaic seem to be crumbling, and it tests our ability to stay thankful. In these times, make an active effort to count the small wonders around you. Perhaps it’s the free toothbrush from your dentist, the smell of flowers in your grandma’s hospital room, or simply the sun shining — sometimes the little things are the last fragments of glue that hold us together.

8. Get off the screen.

It’s doubtful that a screen will help you in your quest for greater gratitude (aside from this post of course!). So make sure you set aside time to live screen free, ideally getting out into nature, to appreciate the wonder of life!

9. Keep a journal (obvious, I know).

But consider it a gratitude journal … and be sure to add to it once in a while, too!

This seems so little and inconsequential.

But it’s important stuff.

Just do it. (At least one of them.)





How Intermittent Fasting Might Help You Live a Longer and Healthier Life
Intermittent fasting might improve health, but clinical data are thin
Dec 18, 2012 |By David Stipp
fasting, bowl with measuring lines inside, bowl with spoon, bowl, spoon

Kelly Blair
More In This Article
calorie restriction versus lifespan chart
calorie restriction versus lifespan chart
In E. B White’s beloved novel Charlotte’s Web, an old sheep advises the gluttonous rat Templeton that he would live longer if he ate less. “Who wants to live forever?” Templeton sneers. “I get untold satisfaction from the pleasures of the feast.”

It is easy to empathize with Templeton, but the sheep’s claim has some merit. Studies have shown that reducing typical calorie consumption, usually by 30 to 40 percent, extends life span by a third or more in many animals, including nematodes, fruit flies and rodents. When it comes to calorie restriction in primates and people, however, the jury is still out. Although some studies have suggested that monkeys that eat less live longer, a new 25-year-long primate study concluded that calorie restriction does not extend average life span in rhesus monkeys. Even if calorie restriction does not help anyone live longer, a large portion of the data supports the idea that limiting food intake reduces the risks of diseases common in old age and lengthens the period of life spent in good health.

If only one could claim those benefits without being hungry all the time. There might be a way. In recent years researchers have focused on a strategy known as intermittent fasting as a promising alternative to continuous calorie restriction.

Intermittent fasting, which includes everything from periodic multiday fasts to skipping a meal or two on certain days of the week, may promote some of the same health benefits that uninterrupted calorie restriction promises. The idea of intermittent fasting is more palatable to most people because, as Templeton would be happy to hear, one does not have to renounce the pleasures of the feast. Studies indicate that rodents that feast one day and fast the next often consume fewer calories overall than they would normally and live just as long as rats eating calorie-restricted meals every single day.

In a 2003 mouse study overseen by Mark Mattson, head of the National Institute on Aging’s neuroscience laboratory, mice that fasted regularly were healthier by some measures than mice subjected to continuous calorie restriction; they had lower levels of insulin and glucose in their blood, for example, which signified increased sensitivity to insulin and a reduced risk of diabetes.

The First Fasts

Religions have long maintained that fasting is good for the soul, but its bodily benefits were not widely recognized until the early 1900s, when doctors began recommending it to treat various disorders—such as diabetes, obesity and epilepsy.

Related research on calorie restriction took off in the 1930s, after Cornell University nutritionist Clive McCay discovered that rats subjected to stringent daily dieting from an early age lived longer and were less likely to develop cancer and other diseases as they aged, compared with animals that ate at will. Research on calorie restriction and periodic fasting intersected in 1945, when University of Chicago scientists reported that alternate-day feeding extended the life span of rats as much as daily dieting in McCay’s earlier experiments. Moreover, intermittent fasting “seems to delay the development of the disorders that lead to death,” the Chicago researchers wrote.

In the next decades research into antiaging diets took a backseat to more influential medical advances, such as the continued development of antibiotics and coronary artery bypass surgery. More recently, however, Mattson and other researchers have championed the idea that intermittent fasting probably lowers the risks of degenerative brain diseases in later life. Mattson and his colleagues have shown that periodic fasting protects neurons against various kinds of damaging stress, at least in rodents. One of his earliest studies revealed that alternate-day feeding made the rats’ brains resistant to toxins that induce cellular damage akin to the kind cells endure as they age. In follow-up rodent studies, his group found that intermittent fasting protects against stroke damage, suppresses motor deficits in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease and slows cognitive decline in mice genetically engineered to mimic the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. A decidedly slender man, Mattson has long skipped breakfast and lunch except on weekends. “It makes me more productive,” he says. The 55-year-old researcher, who has a Ph.D. in biology but not a medical degree, has written or co-authored more than 700 articles.

Mattson thinks that intermittent fasting acts in part as a form of mild stress that continually revs up cellular defenses against molecular damage. For instance, occasional fasting increases the levels of “chaperone proteins,” which prevent the incorrect assembly of other molecules in the cell. Additionally, fasting mice have higher levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that prevents stressed neurons from dying. Low levels of BDNF have been linked to everything from depression to Alzheimer’s, although it is still unclear whether these findings reflect cause and effect. Fasting also ramps up autophagy, a kind of garbage-disposal system in cells that gets rid of damaged molecules, including ones that have been previously tied to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases.

One of intermittent fasting’s main effects seems to be increasing the body’s responsiveness to insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar. Decreased sensitivity to insulin often accompanies obesity and has been linked to diabetes and heart failure; long-lived animals and people tend to have unusually low insulin, presumably because their cells are more sensitive to the hormone and therefore need less of it. A recent study at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., showed that mice that feasted on fatty foods for eight hours a day and subsequently fasted for the rest of each day did not become obese or show dangerously high insulin levels.

The idea that periodic fasting may offer some of the same health benefits as continuous calorie restriction—and allows for some feasting while slimming down—has convinced an increasing number of people to try it, says Steve Mount, a University of Maryland genetics professor who has moderated a Yahoo discussion group on intermittent fasting for more than seven years. Intermittent fasting “isn’t a panacea—it’s always hard to lose weight,” adds Mount, who has fasted three days a week since 2004. “But the theory [that it activates the same signaling pathways in cells as calorie restriction] makes sense.”

On Thin Ground

Despite the growing enthusiasm for intermittent fasting, researchers have conducted few robust clinical trials, and its long-term effects in people remain uncertain. Still, a 1956 Spanish study sheds some light, says Louisiana-based physician James B. Johnson, who co-authored a 2006 analysis of the study’s results. In the Spanish study, 60 elderly men and women fasted and feasted on alternate days for three years. The 60 participants spent 123 days in the infirmary, and six died. Meanwhile 60 nonfasting seniors racked up 219 infirmary days, and 13 died.

In 2007 Johnson, Mattson and their colleagues published a clinical study showing a rapid, significant alleviation of asthma symptoms and various signs of inflammation in nine overweight asthmatics who near-fasted every other day for two months.

Detracting from these promising results, however, the literature on intermittent fasting also includes several red flags. A 2011 Brazilian study in rats suggests that long-term intermittent fasting increases blood glucose and tissue levels of oxidizing compounds that could damage cells. Moreover, in a 2010 study co-authored by Mattson, periodically fasting rats mysteriously developed stiff heart tissue, which in turn impeded the organ’s ability to pump blood.

And some weight-loss experts are skeptical about fasting, citing its hunger pangs and the possible dangers of compensatory gorging. Indeed, the most recent primate study on calorie restriction—the one that failed to extend life span—underscores the need for caution when radically altering the way people eat.

Still, from an evolutionary perspective, three meals a day is a strange modern invention. Volatility in our ancient ancestors’ food supplies most likely brought on frequent fasting—not to mention malnutrition and starvation. Yet Mattson believes that such evolutionary pressures selected for genes that strengthened brain areas involved in learning and memory, which increased the odds of finding food and surviving. If he is right, intermittent fasting may be both a smart and smartening way to live.

Reversal of cognitive decline


Reversal of cognitive decline: A novel therapeutic program
Dale E. Bredesen
This report describes a novel, comprehensive, and personalized therapeutic program that is based on the underlying pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease, and which involves multiple modalities designed to achieve metabolic enhancement for neurodegeneration (MEND). The first 10 patients who have utilized this program include patients with memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), or subjective cognitive impairment (SCI). Nine of the 10 displayed subjective or objective improvement in cognition beginning within 3‐6 months, with the one failure being a patient with very late stage AD. Six of the patients had had to discontinue working or were struggling with their jobs at the time of presentation, and all were able to return to work or continue working with improved performance. Improvements have been sustained, and at this time the longest patient follow‐up is two and one‐half years from initial treatment, with sustained and marked improvement. These results suggest that a larger, more extensive trial of this therapeutic program is warranted. The results also suggest that, at least early in the course, cognitive decline may be driven in large part by metabolic processes. Furthermore, given the failure of monotherapeutics in AD to date, the results raise the possibility that such a therapeutic system may be useful as a platform on which drugs that would fail as monotherapeutics may succeed as key components of a therapeutic system.
September 27, 2014

Why Diet Sodas are the Worst!

Sugar-free sodas, teas and sport drinks are marketed as the right choice for anyone trying to lose weight or control their diabetes. These diet drinks are normally flavored with artificial sweeteners like saccharine (Sweet N Low), sucralose (Splenda) or aspartame (Equal).

There has been a long-standing diet soda debate over whether they’re healthier than regular soda or not. In the conventional nutritional world, which is primarily concerned with counting calories, diet drinks are encouraged as the preferred zero-calorie option. Diabetic nutritional classes typically educate patients to opt for the sugar-free options as the healthy alternative. The alternative health world wouldn’t give the diet devil to their worst enemy.

Even in the medical literature there have been conflicting reports. One 2011 study actually showed improved blood sugar in slightly overweight, healthy individuals who consumed the artificially sweetened foods over ones containing the sucrose.

On the other hand, research has correlated a 66% increase risk of diabetes with consuming just 20 ounces of diet soda per week!

Recently a study from Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science further investigated the correlation between artificial sweeteners, weight gain and diabetes. The study, published in the scientific journal Nature, had some compelling findings that may explain the previous contradicting results:

People consuming artificial sweeteners had overall higher blood sugars than those who rarely or never did. Some saw an increase in their blood sugars with just one week of consuming the fake sugars.
Mice given the artificial sweeteners gained just as much weight and had higher blood sugars than the ones given regular sugar despite consuming less calories!
What’s really fascinating about this study is what they did next. When the Israeli researchers transferred the gut bacteria of the mice and people fed the food with artificial sweeteners to mice who were not exposed, they too had increased blood sugars!

This study took into consideration the microbiome, the billions of beneficial bacteria living in the gut. The researchers discovered different microbiome patterns depending on what was consumed!

Because we all have different microbiomes with variations of different bacterial species, this could explain why some see an increase in diabetes and some don’t.

The foods we eat impact our gut which in turn impacts our genes and our weight. I have written previously how the microbiome is the new frontier in understanding weight gain and disease. We are just beginning to understand this exciting field of research.

In summary, I would err on the side of caution when it comes to diet soda. Clinically, I have seen strong gut modulators like diet soda affect not only diabetics but chronic brain symptoms, fatigue and fibromyalgia symptoms.