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Ambivalent Medical Advice and Quackery

Every few weeks, new research seems to contradict something that we thought was already well established in medical science. Questions keep being raised about carbohydrates, probiotics, hormone replacement therapy, vitamin supplementation, cholesterol-lowering drugs, and a variety of medical interventions that we assumed were safe and would help to lengthen our life. In addition to ambiguous research results, we frequently hear about the benefits of alternative medicines, herbs, and natural products whose claims have not been scientifically examined but which are absolutely guaranteed to clean your arteries, improve prostate health, or help you burn belly fat. What can you believe?

The more knowledge that we have, the better decisions that we are able to make in every aspect of our life. We are much better off today by knowing that malaria is a disease caused by protozoa transmitted by mosquito bites rather than just by "bad air". When we have information based on verifiable truth, we are able to make decisions that can help us to solve a problem. The same is not possible when our beliefs are based on wrong or false information. Modern life is so confusing that we still are not really sure what is the source of the increased rates of autism, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, cardiovascular disease, and many other maladies of our time.

In the end, we are responsible for our own well-being. The best way to take care of ourselves is to eat, drink, and exercise like the people who have lived in good health to a ripe old age. We have to avoid unproven fads. The most important thing that we can learn is to know how to tell the difference between what is true and what is false. This is called Critical Thinking and it is part of the Scientific Method.

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2008-02-12 

How do you start Calorie Restriction?

Calorie restriction has been shown to extend the maximum life span of many species, but you have to start cautiously. Many people start calorie restriction with such zeal that they worsen their health instead of increasing their longevity. People who start with high degrees of calorie restriction and don't monitor their nutrition sometimes find out that they have lost bone mass, resulting in osteoporosis. My specific recommendations about how to start on Calorie Restriction are these:
  1. Read Dr. Roy Walford's book Beyond the 120 Year Diet: How to Double Your Vital Years-. This book describes the science which we hope will help us live longer, although this has not been conclusively proved for humans.
  2. Download CRON-o-Meter (spaz.ca/cronometer/). This is a free nutrition-tracking program that will help you to analyze your food so that you can learn to optimize what you eat. You don't have to start a diet, but you have to start measuring and weighing what you eat. In this way, you will learn how many calories you are now consuming on a daily basis, and you will also get a summary of your macronutrient ratios. The program will also point out any nutritional deficiencies.
  3. Get some lab tests to establish a medical baseline including lipid panel, CBC, blood pressure, bone density, etc.
  4. Join the Calorie Restriction Society. This will give you access to support from many members who can answer your specific questions.
  5. Concentrate on Optimum Nutrition. Try to devise daily menus that meet 100% of the RDA of all vitamins and minerals. You may find some recipes in Dr. Sears Zone Diet books. Try to get your nutrition from foods rather than supplements.
  6. Exercise 30 minutes per day with emphasis on strength-building exercises, but don't overdo it to avoid getting injured.
  7. Use the Calorie Restriction Calculator to determine the number of calories required to achieve 5% Calorie Restriction. Start with a 5% CR diet, but make sure that you still achieve Optimum Nutrition on the lower calorie diet.
  8. Once you are familiar with measuring your food and optimum nutrition, you can gradually reduce your calories, but I would not recommend going below 16% CR.

It takes a long time to fine tune your nutrition. It is a way of life.

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2008-02-08 

Tobacco deaths are rising worldwide

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a report saying that the use of tobacco is killing 5.4 million people per year worldwide -- an average of one person every six seconds. Tobacco is responsible for about one in 10 adult deaths. The main diseases caused by tobacco are lung cancer, oral cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and emphysema which is a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Although tobacco use is decreasing in high-income countries, the use of tobacco products is increasing globally, particularly in developing countries. In the 20th century, tobacco caused 100 million deaths. If current trends continue, there will be up to one billion deaths in the 21st century.

Michael R. Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, has committed to donate $125 million Dollars for initiatives to end the global tobacco epidemic. The WHO will coordinate tobacco control efforts in developing countries where the health burden from tobacco use is highest.
Learn how to quit smoking

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2008-02-01 

A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

Antonio Zamora and Jeff Noordermeer in 2007

This is a picture of me and Jeff Noordermeer in 2007 celebrating his 74th birthday. Some time ago, Jeff had mentioned that he had written the memoir of fifty years of his life. I asked him if he was going to publish the material and he said "no". After I read what he had written, I was fascinated by how Jeff survived World War II during the bombing of Rotterdam, Holland. Jeff has had a life with many interesting adventures. He is an optimist who is always looking for the positive things in life.

I would like to thank Jeff for allowing me to post his memoirs on my web site. I think that many readers will find Jeff's perspective of life refreshing and humorous.
Read Jeff R. Noordermeer's Memoir

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2008-01-24 

Free online games - Classic Arcade Games

card games

Have Fun

Every day we worry about global warming, the stock market, medical insurance coverage, falling real estate values, and the wars in various parts of the world. How depressing! Life is better when we enjoy living. Sometimes, a little amusement can distract us from our problems and improve our mood. When we are happy we tend to be more optimistic and we feel better.

In the following link you will find several classic arcade games that you can play online. Pong, Tetris, various versions of Solitaire, and Pacman are non-violent, whereas Asteroids, Space Invaders, and Donkey Kong require you to battle aliens and monsters. Play a little and unwind!
Free online Arcade Games

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2008-01-20 

Conjugated Linoleic Acid - Fighting fat with fat

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLAA)

For over 20 years, studies of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) have shown that this fatty acid may actually help to reduce abdominal body fat while preserving lean muscle.[1,2,3] CLA is found in animal fats like cream, butter, and the fat marbling of grass-fed beef and lamb, as well as in vegetable oils such as safflower oil.

CLA acts by inhibiting lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that breaks down dietary fats and enables fat to be stored in the body. CLA decreases the amount of fat that ends up stored in the abdomen by reducing the amount of fat that is broken down. CLA nutritional supplements are being promoted as a magic bullet to reduce body fat, to burn calories more efficiently, and to increase the percentage of lean muscle mass.

Realistically, taking one pill per day is not likely to make you thinner and leaner. If you are overweight, you need to evaluate your complete diet and exercise program. You can lose one pound every 12 days simply by cutting 300 Calories per day from your diet. Exercise will build up your muscles and increase your strength.
Learn more about fats

[1] Brown JM, McIntosh MK., Conjugated linoleic acid in humans: regulation of adiposity and insulin sensitivity. J Nutr. 2003 Oct;133(10):3041-6. PMID: 14519781

[2] Gaullier JM, Halse J, Høye K, Kristiansen K, Fagertun H, Vik H, Gudmundsen O., Supplementation with conjugated linoleic acid for 24 months is well tolerated by and reduces body fat mass in healthy, overweight humans. J Nutr. 2005 Apr;135(4):778-84. PMID: 15795434

[3] Risérus U, Berglund L, Vessby B., Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) reduced abdominal adipose tissue in obese middle-aged men with signs of the metabolic syndrome: a randomised controlled trial. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2001 Aug;25(8):1129-35. PMID: 11477497

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2008-01-18 

The Secrets of Sourdough Starter

Sourdough Bread

Making bread is relatively easy. Mix some flour, yeast, some sugar, a pinch of salt, water, and voilà, all you have to do is bake the dough after it rises.

Sourdough bread is different. Sourdough doesn't use ordinary yeast. It uses a "sourdough starter" which is a brew of wild yeasts and acid-producing bacteria. These yeasts and bacteria are very particular. You have to coax them to come out of hiding by providing the right conditions for them to multiply and to prevent competing bacteria from gaining a foothold.

I had failed several times at making a sourdough starter by mixing flour and water. I typically ended with containers of stinking gruel which had to be discarded. Recently, through an e-mail exchange about carbohydrate chemistry, I found out that Debbie Wink had systematically studied the conditions best suited for creating a sourdough starter. It turns out that acidifying the initial culture suppresses undesirable bacteria and gives the good yeasts a chance to get started. Debbie's solution was simple and elegant: use unsweetened pinapple juice instead of water for the first three days of incubation. The pineapple juice provides the right amount of acidity for the sourdough yeasts and bacteria to thrive.

Recently, I made my first loaf of sourdough bread. It is the accomplishment of an elusive goal.
Learn how to make sourdough bread from scratch

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2008-01-12 

Yoga: stabilizing the Mayurasana posture with a belt

Mayurasana Posture (the Peacock)

Mayurasana Posture (the Peacock)

Yoga is an ancient practice from India which tries to unify the spiritual and physical world. The word "Yoga" comes from the Sanskrit word "yuj" which means "to unite or integrate". Hatha Yoga or Yoga of Postures is the most popular branch of Yoga in the West because it can lead to better health by stretching the muscles, increasing flexibility, and improving strength. Hatha Yoga also includes breathing techniques and meditation. Physical poses are called Asanas, and the breathing techniques are called Pranayama.

Many of the postures in yoga can only be achieved by regular practice to gradually build the required flexibility, coordination, and strength. Mayurasana, the peacock posture, requires maintaining the body horizontal while the torso is supported by the elbows. Perspiration or slippery hairy arms may prevent you from achieving this posture even when you have the necessary strength and flexibility. This can be frustrating and dangerous because if your elbows slip, you can hit your face on the floor.

The Mayurasana position may be stabilized by using a belt at the elbows as shown in the photograph below. The belt keeps the elbows from slipping on the torso.
Belt to stablilize Mayurasana yoga posture

Learn about Exercise


Comments »

tyler newman said,
2010-09-01 @ 02:29:41

Hi Mr. Z! Just thought I'd give this site a shot and I'm practicing the peacock posture (under your fitness tab). Oh my! My poor nose! You're right about strength. You need strong biceps, triceps and an extremely strong back. I workout like a madman during the winter through summer (the off season for football) and I can't even do that! Must keep trying. I'll let you know if I get it.

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2008-01-11 

How much should you weigh?


Before Calorie Restriction - Stomach protruding beyond rib cage
before Calorie Restriction

The normal weight of a person corresponds to a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9. This means that a person who measures 5 feet 8 inches in height (173 cm) should weigh between 122 and 163 pounds (55.3 to 73.9 kg). BMI does not take the distribution of the weight into consideration. The famous body builder Ronnie Coleman, Mr. Olympia, has a BMI of over 40, but most of his weight is in his chest, arms, and leg muscles. His body weight distribution is very different from someone who carries much of the weight around the waist.

The Body Mass Index, by itself, is not enough to determine if you should lose weight. There are several other objective criteria such as the percent of body fat, the Waist-to-Height ratio, and the protrusion of the abdomen beyond the rib cage which taken together can be used to determine if you need to lose weight.

Use this diet calculator to calculate your BMI, percent body fat, and waist-to-height ratio:
Diet Calculator Diet Calculator

Percentage of Body Fat:
A percentage of body fat above 17% for a man, or 24% for a woman, indicates that you have extra fat.

Waist-to-Height Ratio:
The Waist-to-Height ratio compares the size of your abdomen relative to your height. If the ratio exceeds 0.5, your stomach is too big.

Stomach Size Relative to Chest:
As a final check, take off your clothes and look at your profile in the mirror. Your abdomen should not protrude beyond your rib cage. Women should compare their stomach with the base of the breasts.

You should lose some weight if a combination of two or more of these objective measures (BMI, Percent Body Fat, Waist-to-Height ratio, and abdomen protrusion beyond the rib cage) indicate that you have too much fat.
Learn about diet and exercise

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2008-01-05 

How can you get a good husband or a good wife?

Happy Couple

At a Christmas dinner, I met a woman who would like to get married, but has not found a suitable candidate. The clock is ticking and she is now 35 years old. You can sense frustration and a some desperation in her attitude as she seeks advice from her friends. Why has this happened? The simple answer is that she has given lower priority to her personal needs than to her education and career. This woman has fantastic credentials. She is a noted researcher with a PhD and several publications, but her love life scores a zero.

There was a time when the social life and the destiny of a person was fairly well planned out by the parents. Times have changed. Today, children leave the parents to go to college at an early age and they don't have the family support to help them make wise decisions and avoid mistakes. Young people have to take responsibility of their own life at an early age and decide what is important to them. Here are some things that you can do to improve your chances of success:

Learn Personality Analysis

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