Archive for April, 2014

I tried quitting but I can’t stop sitting

April 29, 2014


This article first appeared in the Globe & Mail, Health Section  Friday, Apr. 25 2014.  If you sit at your job this article is for you.

Most of my days start with sitting in front of a computer, even before I sit down for breakfast. I may walk to the subway, where I sit on the train, before sitting again in series of meetings. I remember the day, 15 years ago, when I quit smoking and congratulated myself on how the decision would not only improve my health, but my productivity too, since I no longer had a reason to get up from my desk. I feel as though I’ve been sitting ever since.

In case you missed it, this constant sitting is killing us – literally – leading researchers and pundits to declare that sitting is the new smoking. If you accept that theory, then just about everyone in a white-collar job is the equivalent of a heavy nicotine addict.

According to the Mayo Clinic, 50 to 70 per cent of Americans spend six or more hours a day sitting and cutting that in half would add two years to their lives.

Two hours of continuous sitting – that’s a movie or a long meeting – increases one’s risk of developing chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, low back pain, and shoulder and neck pain, says Shilpa Dogra, an assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa, Ont.

If you think that regular exercise saves you from this “sitting disease,” think again. Ms. Dogra said that even those who meet Canada’s physical activity guidelines remain at risk. She cites a 2009 study from the American College of Sports Medicine that showed, even when we exceed government recommendations for physical activity, it does not compensate for all the sitting we do.

Unlike smoking, which has been banned from virtually all offices and public spaces in Canada, the working world is conspiring to keep us sitting, making it exceptionally difficult to quit.

“Currently, individuals working in an office setting are assigned a desk and chair, either in their own office or cubicle. They are asked to attend meetings in board rooms or conference rooms where they almost always sit down,” Ms. Dogra said. “From the time an individual is hired, the workplace facilitates sedentary behaviour and physical inactivity.”

This not only affects health and productivity but, according to her own research, that sedentary time also decreases the odds of aging well, forcing many to leave the work force in poor condition after years of sitting still. To combat sitting disease, some workplace health advocates are creating innovative solutions.

Laurel Walzak and Ron Bettin recently co-founded a company called Fitneff Inc., which manufactures fitness productivity equipment, a growing field. The former classmates from the executive MBA program at Queen’s University in Kingston have made it their mission to get workers moving. They conducted a survey, split equally between male and female senior managers in Canada, and found that 43 per cent reported sitting for more than 40 hours a week, not including their commute, eating, reading or watching TV. To counter that sloth, they developed products such as an ergonomic desk that attaches to a treadmill.

Ms. Walzak said that Fitneff products don’t replace intense aerobic exercise but incorporate low-impact, low-intensity movement, such as walking, into the workplace.

In North America, we may be behind on the standing desk trend. Mette Johansen, chief executive officer of Mette Designs, which designs workplaces, expressed her shock when she first arrived in Canada seven years ago from Denmark and observed how much time employees spent sitting.

Ms. Johnson said that 70 per cent of workers in Denmark used adjustable tables as far back as the early 1990s. In recent years, she observed, companies in Canada come a long way even if we still have far to go.

“I’ve had to educate people a lot more about healthy work environments to keep people healthy and productive. So I did a lot of preaching in the beginning. But the industry is changing,” she said.

As part of her design work, she often places kitchens and printers far away from desks so employees must get up and move around.

Admittedly, changing office furniture, even if it does boost creativity and stem health issues, remains a cost challenge for many companies. But there are other solutions.

Nilofer Merchant, a former executive at 3-D design software company Autodesk and an expert on innovation, explained last year in a TED talk that, instead of coffee meetings, she takes walking meetings, to the tune of 20 to 30 miles a week. She said walking and talking not only led to new ideas, but it changed her life.

The concept of walking meetings bring new meaning to our increasingly mobile business culture and it’s certainly a trend I would embrace, if only the business community can – ahem – get behind it.


Article sourced from:

The Confusion of Nutrition

April 27, 2014

IMG Nearly six weeks into a diet, it’s a good bet that many who have made it a goalto lose weight have already peaked. If clinical trials are any indication, we’ve lost much of the weight we can expect to lose. In a year or two we’ll be back within three kilos of where we are today.

The question is why. Is this a failure of willpower or of technique? Was our chosen dietary intervention — whether from the latest best-selling diet book or merely a concerted attempt to eat less and exercise more — doomed to failure?

Considering that obesity and its related diseases — most notably, Type 2 diabetes — now cost the health care system more than $US1 billion per day, it’s not hyperbolic to suggest that the health of the nation may depend on which is the correct answer.

Since the 1960s, nutrition science has been dominated by two conflicting observations. One is that we know how to eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight. The other is that the rapidly increasing rates of obesity and diabetes suggest that something about the conventional thinking is simply wrong.

In 1960, fewer than 13 per cent of Americans were obese, and diabetes had been diagnosed in 1 per cent. Today, the percentage of obese Americans has almost tripled; the percentage of Americans with diabetes has increased sevenfold.

Meanwhile, the research literature on obesity has also ballooned. In 1960, fewer than 1100 articles were published on obesity or diabetes in the indexed medical literature. Last year it was more than 44,000. In total, over 600,000 articles have been published purporting to convey some meaningful information on these conditions.

It would be nice to think that this deluge of research has brought clarity to the issue. The trend data argue otherwise. If we understand these disorders so well, why have we failed so miserably to prevent them? The conventional explanation is that this is the manifestation of an unfortunate reality: Type 2 diabetes is caused or exacerbated by obesity, and obesity is a complex, intractable disorder. The more we learn, the more we need to know.

Here’s another possibility: The 600,000 articles — along with several tens of thousands of diet books — are the noise generated by a dysfunctional research establishment. Because the nutrition research community has failed to establish reliable, unambiguous knowledge about the environmental triggers of obesity and diabetes, it has opened the door to a diversity of opinions on the subject, of hypotheses about cause, cure and prevention, many of which cannot be refuted by the existing evidence. Everyone has a theory. The evidence doesn’t exist to say unequivocally who’s wrong.

The situation is understandable; it’s a learning experience in the limits of science. The protocol of science is the process of hypothesis and test. This three-word phrase, though, does not do it justice. The philosopher Karl Popper did when he described “the method of science as the method of bold conjectures and ingenious and severe attempts to refute them.”

In nutrition, the hypotheses are speculations about what foods or dietary patterns help or hinder our pursuit of a long and healthy life. The ingenious and severe attempts to refute the hypotheses are the experimental tests — the clinical trials and, to be specific, randomised controlled trials. Because the hypotheses are ultimately about what happens to us over decades, meaningful trials are prohibitively expensive and exceedingly difficult.  It means convincing thousands of people to change what they eat for years to decades. Eventually enough heart attacks, cancers and deaths have to happen among the subjects so it can be established whether the dietary intervention was beneficial or detrimental.

And before any of this can even be attempted, someone’s got to pay for it. Since no pharmaceutical company stands to benefit, prospective sources are limited, particularly when we insist the answers are already known. Without such trials, though, we’re only guessing whether we know the truth.

Back in the 1960s, when researchers first took seriously the idea that dietary fat caused heart disease, they acknowledged that such trials were necessary and studied the feasibility for years. Eventually the leadership at the National Institutes of Health concluded that the trials would be too expensive — perhaps a billion dollars — and might get the wrong answer anyway. They might botch the study and never know it. They certainly couldn’t afford to do two such studies, even though replication is a core principle of the scientific method. Since then, advice to restrict fat or avoid saturated fat has been based on suppositions about what would have happened had such trials been done, not on the studies themselves.

Nutritionists have adjusted to this reality by accepting a lower standard of evidence on what they’ll believe to be true. They do experiments with laboratory animals, for instance, following them for the better part of the animal’s lifetime — a year or two in rodents, say — and assume or at least hope that the results apply to humans. And maybe they do, but we can’t know for sure without doing the human experiments.

They do experiments on humans — the species of interest — for days or weeks or even a year or two and then assume that the results apply to decades. And maybe they do, but we can’t know for sure. That’s a hypothesis, and it must be tested.

And they do what are called observational studies, observing populations for decades, documenting what people eat and what illnesses beset them, and then assume that the associations they observe between diet and disease are indeed causal — that if people who eat copious vegetables, for instance, live longer than those who don’t, it’s the vegetables that cause the effect of a longer life. And maybe they do, but there’s no way to know without experimental trials to test that hypothesis.

The associations that emerge from these studies used to be known as “hypothesis-generating data,” based on the fact that an association tells us only that two things changed together in time, not that one caused the other. So associations generate hypotheses of causality that then have to be tested. But this hypothesis-generating caveat has been dropped over the years as researchers studying nutrition have decided that this is the best they can do.

One lesson of science, though, is that if the best you can do isn’t good enough to establish reliable knowledge, first acknowledge it — relentless honesty about what can and cannot be extrapolated from data is another core principle of science — and then do more, or do something else. As it is, we have a field of sort-of-science in which hypotheses are treated as facts because they’re too hard or expensive to test, and there are so many hypotheses that what journalists like to call “leading authorities” disagree with one another daily.

It’s an unacceptable situation. Obesity and diabetes are epidemic, and yet the only relevant fact on which relatively unambiguous data exist to support a consensus is that most of us are surely eating too much of something. (My vote is sugars and refined grains; we all have our biases.) Making meaningful inroads against obesity and diabetes on a population level requires that we know how to treat and prevent it on an individual level. We’re going to have to stop believing we know the answer, and challenge ourselves to come up with trials that do a better job of testing our beliefs.

Before I, for one, make another dietary resolution, I’d like to know that what I believe I know about a healthy diet is really so. Is that too much to ask?

Gary Taubes is a health and science journalist and co-founder of the Nutrition Science Initiative.
Article originally sourced here:

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Raspberry Butter Sauce with Crispy Salmon & Salad

April 23, 2014

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week -  Raspberry Butter Sauce with Crispy Salmon & Salad

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week Raspberry Butter Sauce with Crispy Salmon & Salad

6 Habits of Super Successful People

April 22, 2014


Why are some people more successful than others? There’s really no mystery: It’s because they do things differently than people who are less successful. Here are six things that very successful people do every day. Embrace these habits and you can greatly accelerate your own success.

1. Keep Your Eye on the Ball

Don’t let the obstacles in your path keep you from your goals. View challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. To stay ahead, in business or anything else, you must be able to see situations from all angles and adopt the broadest possible perspective. If your ride has been a smooth one you won’t be prepared for the inevitable bumps.

2. Learn How to Say No

It’s far better to say no to a project you aren’t fully able to take on, rather than say yes and produce poor quality work or lose your focus on what matters most. Learning to say no when it is in your personal best interest, or in the interest of your company, is an extremely valuable skill. Make a list of the things that are most important to you and that you must do yourself, and then delegate the things that can and should be done by someone else. Free yourself from daily busywork and you’ll open up time for new opportunities

3. Keep a Daily Plan of Attack

You know the old saying: “Whatever isn’t written down won’t get done.” As much as we like to think we can remember our most important tasks, when the workday gets busy and meetings run long it’s easy to forget some of the things we need to get done. Each morning write out a detailed plan of attack for the day. Not only will this list keep you more organized, but seeing the list in front of you may help you work harder and ignore distractions.

4. Welcome Criticism

Learn to listen to and absorb the criticism that you get. Hateful and negative criticism should be heard, assessed, and then let go, while constructive criticism should be evaluated and acted upon. Solicit feedback from people whose opinions you value. Remember to be gracious when receiving feedback; when you are, your coworkers and friends will be more likely to give you their support and ideas in the future.

5. Trust Your Instincts

Intuition is very real and something that is never wise to ignore, because it comes from deep within your subconscious and is derived from your previous experiences in similar situations. If your mind is telling you “yes” but your gut is telling you otherwise, it’s usually for a good reason. When faced with difficult decisions, seek out all the information you can find, become as  knowledgeable as you can, and then heed your instincts.

6. Take Risks

It’s impossible to become successful while always playing it safe. Taking well-calculated risks can bring previously unimaginable opportunities to both your career and your personal life. When taking a risk doesn’t pan out the way you had hoped, simply learn from it and keep moving forward. Remember that big dreams-;and great success-;aren’t realized by playing it safe!

There is no ‘secret’ to success. You need discipline, perseverance, and six simple skills that anyone can (and should) build into in their daily routine.


Article source here:

Caffeine Myths Busted

April 20, 2014


Whether you love yourself a good cup of coffee or love to hate it, you probably have some strong feelings about caffeine. Between religious restrictions and those of us who feel proud to be caffeine-free, what some call the most widely-used drug on the planet can be pretty polarizing.

But much of the hubbub stems from some misguidance when it comes to caffeine and it’s deleterious effects. Here, we set the record straight on some common caffeine myths.

Myth 1: Caffeine is dehydrating.
Yes, caffeine has a mild diuretic effect, but you’re also typically consuming caffeine in the form of coffee or tea. The water in those caffeinated beverages more than makes up for the dehydrating effects of the caffeine itself. A 2014 study suggests that habitual coffee drinkers may build up some resistance to the potential dehydrating effects, NPR reported.

Myth 2: Decaf won’t give you a jolt.
Consumer Reports tested 36 cups of decaf coffee in 2007 and discovered some contained around 20 milligrams of caffeine — significantly less than a regular cup of Joe, but not nothing. (A typical cup has around 95 to 200 milligrams, according to the Mayo Clinic.)

A 2006 study from the University of Florida also found that decaf doesn’t mean caffeine-free. “If someone drinks five to 10 cups of decaffeinated coffee, the dose of caffeine could easily reach the level present in a cup or two of caffeinated coffee,” study co-author Bruce Goldberger, Ph.D., said in a statement at the time.

Myth 3: Caffeine can sober you up.
Along with a cold shower, caffeine is an age-old tactic adopted by many who have found themselves a few too many sheets to the wind. But it’s not quite doing the trick. A 2009 study examined the effects of caffeine in mice who had been given quite a bit of alcohol. The mice “sobered up” with caffeine were more alert than without it — but they still had more difficulty navigating a maze than mice that were actually sober. “The myth about coffee’s sobering powers is particularly important to debunk because the co-use of caffeine and alcohol could actually lead to poor decisions with disastrous outcomes,” study co-author Thomas Gould, Ph.D., said in a statement at the time.

Myth 4: Caffeine is only bad for you.
Obviously there are risks, especially with higher doses of caffeine, but it packs some perks, too. For example, caffeine seems to lessen risk and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, it can boost your workout and it may ward off Alzheimer’s onset.

Myth 5. Caffeine will help you lose weight.
The stimulant is an active ingredient in many over-the-counter weight-loss products, and caffeine does seem to slightly increase metabolism, according to a 2010 report published in the International Journal of Obesity. However, the effects are not likely to add up to “significant or permanent weight loss,” Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. writes for the Mayo Clinic. A few cups of coffee aren’t the answer to the obesity epidemic, especially considering many of us take our caffeine with a hearty side of cream and sugar.


This article was sourced from:

Listen Up … Let’s Talk about Poop & Pee

April 13, 2014

Have you ever wondered if your poop looked “normal,” but were too embarrassed to ask anyone else what their poop looks like? Or has your pee ever smelled a bit putrid but you were too mortified to utter a word to your best friend, let alone your boy friend? Poop is an important part of health and affects your beauty, as everything in your body works as an interrelated system. Well don’t worry, because here is a guide to anything and everything you may have wondered about your pee, and yes, your poop.

ImageInformation sourced from

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Flounder Fillet with Dill Vegetables

April 10, 2014


Advice for Adrenal Fatigue

April 8, 2014

What are my qualifications to direct any of you to better health? I am a girl who suffers from adrenal insufficiency and I’m healing after a maze of wrong and right turns. I have worked with over 40 physicians since getting ill a couple of years ago with a rare health condition called POTS Syndrome and have learned so much about adrenal fatigue through trial, error, research, and physician consults that I feel it is my duty to share with all of you what I am learning.

I am a patient of Dr. Joel Rosen, who has a fabulous Facebook page Adrenal Fatigue Recovery and his knowledge on the topic is beyond impressive. I also consult with Janie Bowthrope, author of Stop The Thyroid Madness and an entirely healed patient of adrenal fatigue.

The book is an absolute must-read for those with ill adrenal health. I have no connection to the book other than I read it (repeatedly) and pay for consults with the author who guides me in my own steps to recovery. It’s the only book that I recommend to anyone with any health issue involving the endocrine system.

My hope is that you find the advice below unique and not entirely repetitive of what you have read to date. My hope is also that you realize the seriousness of the destruction adrenal fatigue can and will play in your life if you do not start early via treatment. I also hope you gain the knowledge quickly — if you do in fact suffer from adrenal fatigue — that you are most certainly dealing with more than one another health issue.

Adrenal Fatigue in and of itself is a “symptom” — a reaction if you will — to a deeper underlying health issue happening within the body that can be as simple as a change in diet or as complicated as Hypothyroidism, Dysautonomia or Lyme Disease. The list is long and you need to be well equipped when approaching your healing.

Below are the first 5 steps I’d recommend to anyone who may be suffering from adrenal fatigue:

1. Do not read an article on the internet, diagnose yourself, and begin experimental treatment with your adrenals.

While this may seem counter intuitive as you are currently reading an article on adrenal fatigue, please read on. Do not take advice from an article regarding supplements, medications, or diet without consulting with a qualified physician who either specializes in adrenal fatigue or is well-versed and experienced in treating it…period.

2. Read Stop The Thyroid Madness.

Or, if you cannot afford the book, go to the author’s website and click on the tab “What We’ve Learned.” Pay close attention to the section “Ducks In a Row,” which I found particularly helpful. This will help you (1) Identify a physician who is best to treat you, and (2) explain what you need to know going into the appointment. If I would have had this book at the beginning of my health crisis, I would have shaved a year and half off of healing.

3. Team with an integrative physician.

This is a doctor who specializes in both Western and Eastern medicine and thus combines a holistic approach with potential medications. I believe that this type of physician is best equipped to handle adrenal fatigue. You can also consider a functional medicine physician, which is a doctor trained to look at the body as a whole with an emphasis on searching for the underlying cause of your health deterioration rather than the symptoms.

4. Find out if you have adrenal fatigue.

There are two legitimate ways of finding out you have Adrenal Fatigue. You can do traditional blood work or your doctor can order a “24 Hour Adrenal Saliva Kit.” (You can even order your own kit.) You want to do a 24 Hour Adrenal Saliva Kit, even though most doctors recommend a blood test.

To understand why I recommend the saliva test, it helps to understand a bit more about adrenal fatigue and its relationship to cortisol. If your cortisol levels are swinging wildly or flat, you have an adrenal problem. So it helps to be able to measure variations in cortisol throughout the day, which is what a saliva test does.

As explained in Stop The Thyroid Madness, “saliva testing will measure your cellular levels at four key times in a 24 hour period — revealing whether you have high cortisol (which can have similar symptoms to low cortisol), or a mix of highs and lows or a majority of lows, which is extremely problematic.”

“Unfortunately, doctors tend to recommend a one-time blood test, or an ACTH Stimulation test, or a 24-hour urine test, but patients have found none to be adequate or complete measures to discern sluggish adrenals. Blood is measuring both your bound and unbound cortisol–not helpful, nor does it tell what goes on at different times during the day.”

5. Work with a nutritionist or dietician in your doctor’s office.

Your diet will play a huge role in your healing from Adrenal Fatigue. If your physician does not recognize that diet plays a huge role, get another doctor immediately. If your doctor does recognize the importance of diet in healing your adrenals but does not work with a nutritionist, find one that he or she will team with. Please take your diet as seriously as you are taking your fatigue!

I believe these are the very first five steps to take to addressing adrenal fatigue and if you take these steps, you are well ahead of where you would be with any other approach.

This article was first posted on
April 6, 2014

7 Most Effective Exercises

April 6, 2014

No. 1: Walking

Why it’s a winner: You can walk anywhere, anytime. Use a treadmill or hit the streets. All you need is a good pair of shoes.

How to: If you’re just starting to walk for fitness, begin with five to 10 minutes at a time. Add a few minutes to each walk until you get to at least 30 minutes per walk. Add time to your walks before you  quicken your pace or add hills.

No. 2: Interval Training

Why it’s a winner: Interval training lets you boost fitness, burn more calories, and lose weight. The basic idea is to vary the intensity within your workout, instead of going at a steady pace.

How to: Whether you walk, run, dance, or do another cardio exercise, push up the pace for a minute or two. Then back off for two to 10 minutes. Exactly how long your interval should last depends on the length of your workout and how much recovery time you need. A trainer can fine-tune the pacing.. Repeat the intervals throughout your workout.

No. 3: Squats

Why it’s a winner: Squats work several muscle groups — your quadriceps (“quads”), hamstrings, and gluteals (“glutes”) — at the same time.

How to: Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your back straight. Bend your knees and lower your rear as if you were sitting down in a chair. Keep your knees right over your ankles.

Squats Done RightTrainer demonstrating proper form for squats

Practice with a real chair to master this move. First, sit all the way down in the chair and stand back up. Next, barely touch the chair’s seat before standing back up. Work up to doing the squats without a chair, keeping the same form.

No. 4: LungesTrainer demonstrating proper form for lunges

Why it’s a winner: Like squats, lunges work all the major muscles of your lower body. They can also improve your balance.

How to: Take a big step forward, keeping your back straight. Bend your front knee to about 90 degrees. Keep weight on your back toes and drop the back knee toward the floor. Don’t let the back knee touch the floor.

Lunges: Extra Challenge

Try stepping not just forward, but also back and out to each side, with each lunge.

No. 5: Push-Ups

Why it’s a winner: Push-ups strengthen your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core muscles.

How to: Facing down, place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Place your toes on the floor. If that’s too hard, start with your knees on the floor. Your body should make a straight line from shoulders to knees or feet. Keep your rear-end muscles and abs engaged. Bend your elbows to lower down until you almost touch the floor. Lift back up by pushing through your elbows, Keep your torso in a straight line throughout the move.

Push-Ups: Too Hard? Too Easy?

If you’re new to push-ups you can start doing them by leaning into a kitchen counter. As you get stronger, go lower, using a desk or chair. Then you can move onto the floor, starting with your knees bent. For a challenge, put your feet on a stair, bench, or couch while keeping good form.

Crunches — Method A

Start by lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your head resting in your palms. Press your lower back down. Contract your abdominal muscles (abs) and in one smooth move, raise your head, then your neck, shoulders, and upper back off the floor. Tuck in your chin slightly. Lower back down and repeat.

Crunches — Method B

You can also do crunches with your feet off the floor and knees bent. This technique may keep you from arching your back. It also uses your hip flexors (muscles on your upper thighs below your hip bones).

Mastering CrunchesTrainer showing improper form for crunches

Keep your neck in line with your spine. Tuck in your chin so it doesn’t stick out. Breathe normally.
To keep chest and shoulders open, keep your elbows out of your line of vision.

No. 7: Bent-Over Row

Why it’s a winner: You work all the major muscles of your upper back, as well as your biceps.

How to: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees, and bend forward at the hips. Engage your abs without hunching your back. Hold weights beneath your shoulders, keeping your hands shoulder-width apart. Bend your elbows and lift both hands toward the sides of your body. Pause, then slowly lower your hands to the starting position.

Mastering Bent-Over Rows
Trainer showing bent-over row without weights

First, do this move without weights so you learn the right motions. If you have trouble doing bent-over rows while standing up, support your weight by sitting on an incline bench, facing backward.


Article sourced from:

Healthy Inspirations Coffs Harbour Recipe of the Week – Italian Chicken & Beef Saute

April 3, 2014

3italianchicken-productHI recipe of the week