Stepping into a New Year

 

“Solvitur ambulando—it is solved by walking.” –Saint Augustine

With a new calendar on my wall and thoughts of resolutions, I know I must put on my walking shoes again and get this body moving. The first step out the door after over-indulging through the holidays is the hardest for me to make.

While wishing to be back in my cozy corner sipping cocoa, I’m inspired by my friends, Nancy Ellis and her dad, Sonny Evans, who get up at 4 A.M. on week-day mornings several times a week to exercise at the gym before going to their places of business. I’m thinking that if they can do that, surely I can manage to drag myself out of bed at sun-up and get back on a schedule of walking on the gym treadmill at least three times weekly.

I’m told that physical exercise also benefits mind as much as body.

According to an online article produced by AARP, “How Walking Buffs Your Brain,” research shows that, “Aerobic activity releases hormones like adrenaline in your body. These hormones are key players in your nervous system and in boosting your mood. Endorphins also release in your body during activity. They help relieve pain and create a sense of well-being.

Many people believe that a brisk walk can also help you tap into your creative side, boosting your power to think of new ideas and to solve problems. Author, Julia Cameron, who has written more than a dozen best-selling books on creativity, considers her daily outdoor walks a necessary discipline for both creativity and peace of mind. Cameron says, “It is on these walks that my best ideas come to me. It is while walking that difficult clarity emerges. It is while walking that I experience a sense of well-being and connection, and it is in walking that I live most prayerfully.”

In her book, Walking in this World, Julia Cameron shares:

“It was during a time in which my life felt directionless both personally and creatively that I discovered the solace and direction to be found in walking. I would walk a forty-five minute loop. As I walked, emotions would wash through me. I was grieving a lost marriage and the death of my father. I would walk and pray for guidance. A day at time, a walk at a time, even a simple step at a time, my sad and tangled life began to sort itself.”

Creative writing instructor, Brenda Ueland, advised her students who were suffering from writer’s block: “I will tell you what I have learned myself. For me, a long five-or six-mile walk helps. And one must go alone and every day.”

The American Heart Association recommends:

“Walk more, eat better, and live a more healthy life.” They tell us that exercising for as little as 30 minutes a day can reduce our risk of heart disease. 

I need new ideas and problem solving techniques. I need to stretch my legs, stretch my mind, and gain new strength for my body. So, here I go, stepping into a New Year, walking in this world.

by Virginia Dawkins

 

Photo “Runners On The Street During Adidas King Of The Road 2012 Run…” courtesy of Sura Nualpradid and freedigitalphotos

Your Lifestyle Or Your Life

The comedian, George Burns, was famous for making people laugh with silence. He once told of a robber who banished a pistol and demanded of him “Your Money or your life.” After George’s long pause, the robber demanded, “Did you hear me? I said, Your money or your life.” Eventually, George replied “I’m thinking, I’m thinking.” That scenario reminded me of how some of us-even in the case of eminent danger, remain inattentive about our health.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States,

claiming the lives of one in four individuals, and adds 300  billion dollars of financial burden to the U.S. economy. The biggest factors that contribute to the onset of serious heart problems include: high blood pressure; high cholesterol; an unhealthy weight; and poor lifestyle choices like smoking: a poor diet; excessive alcohol consumption; and negative thinking.

Mississippi is ranked 49th out of 50 states and is America’s most unhealthy state.

And according to Dr. Agatston, creater of the South Beach Diet, “the poor health of Americans is only predicted to increase.” Once heart disease is present, we resort to popping pills to quell the symptoms, but prevention is better than all attempts to cure.

Maintaining a healthy heart and mind is both physical and psychological. It involves daily attention to activities, family history and healthy lifestyle choices. While you can’t change your family history, you can turn a family’s history of unhealthy living into healthy opportunities.

On the physical side, eating the right foods in the right amounts is a good start.

Foods that are low in salt and high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish have been shown to reduce heart disease and cancer.

Maintaining an exercise regimen of 30 to 60 minutes 3 times a week and getting a good night’s sleep reduces your chances of getting high blood pressure and diabetes. Small portions of food are easy to accomplish by using a smaller plate.

On the Psychological side it’s important to remember we are creating our lives and that for every moment we live, we’ll be attracting either jewels or crap into it. It’s imperative that we choose our behaviors, friends, thoughts, and words wisely in order to manage stress.

healthHuman beings are designed to be in relationship with others.

We need to connect so that we know who we are and how we matter. Most of our problems are people problems. Our friendships and relationships have a major impact on our health. Plenty of people, however, love to hang out, listen to negativity, and complain when they can get a word in edgewise. That negative energy is infectious. Complaining and worrying are the absolute worst possible things we can do for our health. It sticks to our insides and wears us down. When we complain, we’re focusing on what’s wrong with our lives not what is right. What we focus on tends to expand. Negativity leaves very little room for positive growth and productivity. Separating ourselves from complainers is just as important as resisting the urge to complain. Do what you can with the problems that inevitably occur in life and let them go.

We all need a cheering section.

Think of a few people you can trust with your stuff. Use them as a sounding board for your concerns, your longings and your creative pursuits.

While there is nothing you can do to change your gene pool, there are many things you can do to help prevent heart disease. Here are just a few.

What’s a Person To Do?

  • Eat healthy and (reduce your salt intake to no more than 3/4 a teaspoon a day) stay active.

  • Move your body and stay active. If you’re overweight, make a plan to gradually reduce. 1 1/2 pounds per month is medically supported.

  • Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.

  • Control your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure.

  • If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. One drink a day for women, two for men are medically supported.

  • Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep can alter your metabolism, making you prone to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease.

  • Find a Cheering Section-people with whom you can connect, share and evaluate your productivity-thereby dropping complaints, worry, and negativism.

Unlike George Burns, refuse to wait for imminent danger to tend to your health by improving your lifestyle. Take actions. You life depends on it.

© Rachell N. Anderson, Psy.D. February 24, 2016

photos courtesy of Free Digital Photos, stockimages and Sujin Jetkasettakorn.

Coconut Oil: The “New” Super-food?

Coconut oil’s popularity continues to increase here in 2014,

and as a result it seems like everyone has something to say about it. Since we have been writing and publishing research about coconut oil for over 13 years, it is time to update our article on common myths surrounding coconut oil.

First, coconut oil is NOT new!

It has been a staple in the diets of millions of people for thousands of years. So when you read someone stating that coconut oil is some new fad, or that the information regarding its health benefits is all “hype”, you are reading one of the many myths being spread around on the Internet by those who are seemingly too lazy to do some basic research, or type “coconut oil” into the search field at PubMed. While it is decreasing, bias against coconut oil is still prevalent today, and people will write from this bias without eIven investigating the historical uses of coconut oil, or the vast amount of research conducted on coconut oil, particularly the medium chain fatty acids it contains.

But the myths being spread around the Internet are not simply from those who have a bias against it. Many people trying to jump on the coconut oil popularity bandwagon are also propagating some myths.

So here is a look at some of the most common myths routinely found published on the Internet today:

Coconut Oil Myth #1: Only Virgin Coconut Oil is healthy – Refined Coconut Oil is bad for you

FACT: ALL coconut oil you can buy online or in stores is healthy. This myth persists primarily because of the saturated fat bias (see below). The reasoning is that coconut oil must be bad because saturated fat is bad, therefore the health benefits for coconut oil must only apply to virgin unrefined coconut oils, which somehow escape all the nasty things saturated fats are blamed for.

However, anytime you can purchase coconut oil, you are purchasing the healthiest oil you can cook with since all coconut oils have medium chain fatty acids that are healthy and that do not break down when heated. The other options offered in today’s market for cooking oils are more than likely less healthy than coconut oil, and might even become toxic if used in cooking.

The one exception would be hydrogenated coconut oil, but we are not aware of any hydrogenated coconut oils being sold as edible oils in the U.S. market. If you live in a tropical country, there is a chance that hydrogenated coconut oil might be manufactured and sold in your location. Coconut oil is hydrogenated to keep it solid at higher temperatures. In its natural form, coconut oil is liquid above 76 degrees F. and solid below that. That is why we call it “coconut oil” and not “coconut fat”. In North America and many other places, coconut oil is almost always solid, making it technically a “fat” and not an oil. But in tropical climates it is almost always liquid, making it an oil. So there is a history of hydrogenating the small unsaturated portion of coconut oil in tropical climates to make it a solid. But the dangers of trans-fats are well published now, so I think even in tropical cultures this is rare today.

Speaking of liquid coconut oil, a “new” product did hit the shelves of many health food stores in 2013 called “Liquid Coconut Oil”. It is being marketed as a coconut oil that stays liquid even in your refrigerator. This product is actually “fractionated coconut oil” where most or all of the saturated lauric acid has been removed. It has been marketed in the past as “MCT Oil”, and not as coconut oil. It was more of a dietary supplement in the past. While we do not believe this product is harmful, it is a manufactured product, and actually a clever way of marketing a “left over” by-product, since lauric acid is the star fatty acid chain in coconut oil, known for its powerful antimicrobial activity. It is only found elsewhere in nature abundantly in human breast milk. You can read more about the clever marketing of “liquid coconut oil” here: Is Liquid Coconut Oil that stays Liquid in Your Refrigerator Real Coconut Oil?

As far as refined coconut oils, the most common method used to refine coconut oil in coconut oil producing countries is via the RBD process: Refined, Bleached, and Deodorized. This process renders a neutral flavor and smell due to a steam deodorization process. The “bleaching” part does not involve bleach like you use in your laundry. It is a clay that is used to filter the oil of impurities. Some of the nutrients will more than likely be lost in the refining process, but it does not make the oil unhealthy. If you can find out if the refined coconut oil was refined using solvent extracts or through “physical refining”, choose the physically refined coconut oil. There is some concern that oils using solvent extracts could leave residues in the oil. But even so, those residues are probably very small, if present at all, so even these coconut oils would be healthier than toxic trans fats or polyunsaturated oils for cooking.

As far as “virgin” coconut oils, there is absolutely no difference between “extra virgin” and “virgin” when it comes to coconut oil, like there is with the olive oil industry. They are simply different labels for the exact same coconut oils. Some people want to promote virgin coconut oils as “seeing no heat in the process” as a superior coconut oil, but there are no published standards identifying an “extra virgin” quality, and research actually shows that traditional coconut oils processed with heat have higher amounts of antioxidants. (See: New Research Highlights High Antioxidant Activity of Traditionally Made Coconut Oil)

Coconut Oil Myth #2: I cannot use coconut oil because I am allergic to coconut oil

FACT: Most food allergies are due to the inability to digest proteins, such as gluten (found in wheat), casein (found in dairy), protein found in tree nuts, etc. The coconut is technically a tree nut, but protein is found in the meat of the coconut, not in the oil.

Therefore, if one has problems digesting or eating coconut oil, it is highly unlikely that it is due to an “allergy”. It is more likely due to not being able to digest fats well, or possibly to the detoxification properties of coconut oil which can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, skin eruptions, etc. These are typically NOT allergic reactions, and can be minimized or even eliminated altogether by reducing the amount of coconut oil one eats to very small amounts until the symptoms don’t occur, and then gradually increasing the amount over time.

Coconut Oil Myth #3: Coconut oil is good for certain conditions (like Alzheimer’s and Dementia), but long-term effects are not known and there is a risk for heart disease because coconut oil is a saturated fat

FACT: There are plenty of epidemiological studies on coconut oil in native populations, and saturated fat has never been proven to cause heart disease. Sadly, this myth has been around a long time and still persists today, even though it is not true! This is the basis of the coconut oil bias.

The benefits of a high-fat ketogenic diet in curing epilepsy was first developed at the Mayo Clinic in the 1920s and used extensively at John Hopkins Hospital. This high-fat diet rich in saturated fats has been documented as curing epilepsy in children where drugs failed. But as the lipid theory of heart disease gained popularity after the 1950s and influenced the government to adopt a low-fat dietary guideline in the 1970s, children and parents who benefited from the high-fat ketogenic diet were frightened into believing that if they continued such a diet, it would lead to heart disease.

Today, the ketogneic effects of coconut oil are well-known and coconut oil’s tremendous impact on those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia are well documented, and can no longer be denied, just as the ketogenic diet has cured epilepsy for many years now. Unfortunately, the myth of saturated fat — and by implication coconut oil — causing heart disease is a myth that continues today, scaring people who receive tremendous benefits from consuming coconut oil into thinking they may have a higher risk of heart disease if they continue such a diet. The lipid theory of heart disease, however, is losing popularity in the light of real evidence-based science.

One of the most exhaustive studies on saturated fat and heart disease was published in 2010 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition titled: “Saturated fat, carbohydrate, and cardiovascular disease”. The study reviewed many other studies over a period of 5 to 23 years covering 347,747 subjects. Their conclusion: “A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD”. The abstract is found here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20071648.

A similar meta-study was conducted and published in May of 2013, analyzing the existing medical literature regarding dietary fats and heart disease in the journal Advances in Nutrition. This study correctly vindicates the negative bias against saturated fats found in coconut oil and dairy products:Several recent analyses indicate that SFAs, particularly in dairy products and coconut oil, can improve health.” (See: Study: Saturated Fat Not Associated with Risk of Coronary Artery Disease, Coconut Oil and Dairy Fat Healthy)

Read more research on saturated fats here.

As far as coconut oil specifically, Dr. Conrado S. Dayrit in the Philippines published a comprehensive study looking at the evidence of saturated fat from coconut oil and cardiovascular disease in populations consuming large amounts of saturated fat in the countries of the Philippines, Polynesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Indonesia and found no link between coconut oil consumption and heart disease. His study was published in 2003 in thePhilippine Journal of Cardiologyhttp://www.coconutoil.com/DayritCardiology.pdf

In another study,

Dr. Janaki Gooneratne in Sri Lanka conducted what is probably the largest study ever undertaken examining the relationship between coconut oil, cholesterol, and heart disease. Her research studied almost 1,000 people in Sri Lanka and included factors such as socio-demographic data, family history of disease, and lifestyle.

She studied associations between selected heart disease risk factors and coconut oil intake using the Chi-square test, and further examined the data in a multivariate model adjusting for potential confounding variables. The data was analyzed using SPSS statistical software. The results of this extensive research concluded that consumption of coconut oil at levels up to 16.4% of total energy per day had no heart disease risk on the local population. (Note: for a standard 2,000 calorie diet that would equate to about 2.5 tablespoons of coconut oil a day.) Dr. Goonerante believes that this extensive research is one of the first studies of this magnitude on dietary coconut oil ever conducted anywhere in the world. Read more about her research on coconut oil here.

What New Coconut Oil Myths Are we Likely to See in the Future?

As coconut oil continues to gain popularity and continues to have a greater impact on people’s health, often producing better results than expensive pharmaceutical drugs, and without all the side effects, expect these attacks and myths to continue, and probably new ones to pop up. But just remember that coconut oil is a natural food that has nourished billions of people around the world for thousands of years. It cannot be patented, and hence it is unlikely there will ever be clinical studies funded of the same type that pharmaceutical companies spend millions of dollars to complete for patenting and getting their drugs approved by the FDA. Therefore, it is unlikely that the FDA will ever approve any health claims for coconut oil.

However, the health benefits of coconut oil are becoming too well-known to continue ignoring, and we saw signs in 2013 that drug companies are looking for ways to mimic the effects of coconut oil in patentable drugs. This has actually been occurring already for many years now with lauric acid, the star component of coconut oil. Lauric acid is frequently extracted from coconut oil to make into other drugs and products that can be patented. The significance of coconut oil then is trivialized in favor of expensive drugs.

What we saw in 2013, however, was interest by drug companies in the area of the ketonic effects of coconut oil, as research continues to be published on the benefits of a ketogenic diet, including its use as an effective cancer treatment. This same ketogenic effect in coconut oil is seen to be at least partially responsible for stopping or reversing Alzheimer’s Disease. So drug companies are anxious to develop drugs to mimic these effects, and we saw some of that begin in 2013. (See: Study: Coconut Oil Could Prevent Neurodegeneration in Diseases like Alzheimer’s)

So we can expect the mainstream media and Big Pharma to invent new myths condemning coconut oil in favor of their drugs in the future, count on it!

 

by Brian Shilhavy
Health Impact News

About the authors: Unlike many people who write about coconut oil by simply reading about it, Brian and Marianita Shilhavy actually lived in a coconut producing area of the Philippines for several years. Marianita Jader Shilhavy grew up on a coconut plantation in the Philippines and in a culture that consumed significant amounts of coconut fat in their diet. She later went on to earn her degree in nutrition and worked as a nutritionist in the Philippines. Brian Shilhavy also lived in the Philippines for several years with Marianita and their 3 children observing firsthand the differences between the diet and health of the younger generation and those of Marianita’s parents’ generation still consuming a traditional diet. This led to years of studying Philippine nutrition and dietary patterns first hand while living in a rural farming community in the Philippines. They are authors of the best-selling book: Virgin Coconut Oil: How it has changed people’s lives and how it can change yours!

Copyright 2014 Health Impact News – permission to reprint fully granted.

Featured photo compliments of Free Digital Photos