How to fulfill a New Year's resolution
The beginning of a new year provides an opportunity to change our life in a new direction. Many people make New Year resolutions to quit smoking or to lose weight, and by February the resolutions have been broken and life continues in the same old way. Why is this? Why can't we keep the promises that we make to ourselves? The reason is very simple: no planning or thought is given to how the promise is to be accomplished.
Keeping a promise requires the same kind of preparation that you need to go on a trip. You need to decide what kind of things you will do. You need to think about what you will wear, how much to pack, and you need to make hotel reservations and arrange transportation. Similarly, keeping a promise to stop smoking or to lose some weight requires preparation and determination. You need to understand that you are going to have nicotine withdrawal symptoms or that you are going to feel hungry. How are you going to handle that? If you don't have a strategy for coping with the problems that you will face, you are less likely to succeed at keeping your resolution.
Here are some suggestions that will help you:
- Remind yourself of your goal every day
- Learn as much as you can about your goals
- Get help from a support group or friends
- Keep a log to monitor your progress
- Every day, try to get one step closer to your goal
- When you reach your goal, don't fall back on old habits
Bread is a staple that has been around since the early Neolithic era, about 10,000 years ago. At that time, agriculture and domestication of animals started to displace the nomadic hunter-gatherer traditions. The selection of grasses with large seeds gave rise to our modern grains like wheat, barley, rye, millet, and spelt.
Grains consist mainly of protein and carbohydrates. The protein or gluten is sticky and insoluble in water, and the carbohydrates are in the form of starch, sugars, and fiber. A great variety of products can be made when grains are milled into flour.
Mixing flour with water produces a resilient dough which when rolled out thinly and baked produces crispy unleavened bread. When the dough is allowed to ferment by adding yeast to it, the dough becomes spongy with bubbles. This spongy dough produces soft bread when baked. Spongy dough can also be made using chemical leavening agents like baking powder. Crumbly shortbread is made by mixing a fat, such as butter, with dry flour to keep the gluten from aggregating and adding just enough moisture to form the dough. Puff pastry is made by layering fat-containing dough with water-containing dough. The steam pockets created during baking produce a flaky and crunchy pastry.
The Cure for Cancer
Cancer kills over half a million people per year in the U.S. and is the second most common cause of death. Many of these deaths could be prevented by not smoking. The popular concept that cancer is one disease is inaccurate. Cancer is the result of uncontrolled cellular replication caused by damage to the DNA of the cells. Toxic chemicals, such as those found in tobacco, can cause changes in the chemical structure of the cells. The body gets rid of damaged cells by a process called apoptosis which is a series of biochemical events that lead to disintegration of the cell and disposal of the cellular debris. Tumors develop when damaged cells are not destroyed and they continue to reproduce.
German biochemist Otto Warburg (winner of the 1931 Nobel prize in physiology or medicine) proposed that abnormal energy metabolism caused cancer. He showed that tumors have an acidic extracellular environment, and proposed that a switch from oxidative respiration to glycolysis, which produces lactic acid, starts the cell transformation toward cancer. Warburg's work stimulated interest in the possibility that there was some kind of link between pH and cancer, but it has taken seventy years to show this.
Recent research has identified cellular signaling pathways that become active under alkaline conditions. Dr. Rui Zhao and her colleagues have found that artificially increasing the intracellular pH removes amide functional groups from key cellular proteins (Bcl-xL) and result in apoptosis. This research raises hope that inducing alkalinization may prove an effective strategy to treat a range of cancers.
 Gross L (2007) Manipulating Cellular pH Suggests Novel Anticancer Therapy. PLoS Biol 5(1): e10
Questions about the Calorie Restriction Diet
Cecilia J. Kim, a journalism student at New York University, recently asked me some questions about my practice of Calorie Restriction. This is a transcript of the interview:
Q: Why did you start CRON? How did you come across it and do you advocate it to others?
A: I needed to lose some weight at age 60, and I started researching several diets to determine which might be the best one for me. I liked the scientific foundation of the CRON diet as described by Dr. Walford. The CRON diet puts emphasis on Optimum Nutrition which is what you need to do when you reduce your calories.
Q: Are you aware that most research has been conducted on lab mice, simple unicellular organisms and non-human primates? Some scientists believe that extrapolating findings based on experiments with such animals is not valid for humans, but from your experience do you feel physically younger?
A: You are right, the longevity studies for CRON have been conducted on laboratory animals, but CRON is not only about longevity. It is about longevity in good health. There is already substantial scientific evidence that being overweight or obese leads to many health problems. CRON helps you to stay thin and avoid the problems brought on by excess weight. Even if humans cannot live longer with CRON, they can stay healthier longer. That is already beneficial.
Q: Do you experience perpetual hunger? or has your hunger subsided with the duration of your practice of CR?
A: I am not perpetually hungry. I am quite satisfied for several hours after I eat. :-) However, I eat only three times per day and I don't snack. This means that I am hungry for an hour or two before my next meal. I think that these periods of hunger help my body burn excess fat and keep my blood glucose from increasing as I age. If I don't lose weight on a day-to-day basis, I know that I am not starving myself in spite of being hungry.
Q: How many additional years (approximately) do you expect to gain from from your practice of CR, basically how old do you expect to live to?
A: I probably already increased my life expectancy by at least 10 years by learning how to eat right. Before CRON, I was eating a lot of pastries, hydrogenated fats, and fried foods. Since I started eating the right foods in the right proportions, my cholesterol and my weight have both normalized. Being lean reduces your chances of getting cancer, but if you want to live long you also have to avoid risky activities like mountain climbing, driving without seat belts, and riding bicycles in the streets of Washington, D.C.
Q: Is exercise a part of your CR lifestyle? If so, do you believe that exercise or your restricted diet plays a larger role in your general health?
A: I exercise approximately 30 minutes per day. I do vigorous, strength-building exercises to try to stay fit. Exercise has improved my lung function and eliminated some of the allergies and sinus problems that used to bother me. Scientific studies have confirmed that people who exercise regularly have a lower death rate than sedentary people. Exercise and diet are two different aspects that contribute to overall health. You cannot really separate one from the other.
Q: I'm also interested in how CRONies handle American traditions like Thanksgiving. Can you describe your Thanksgiving dinner (how it was prepared, the thought that went into it) if it were indeed prepared to fit the CR diet?
A: Holidays can be celebrated with healthy meals. A nice plate of roast turkey with stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and a mixed salad fits very nicely into a CRON diet as long as it is prepared wholesomely. This means no butter or hydrogenated fats. Avoid double helpings. Stuff the bird, not yourself. With modern conveniences like freezers, you can have a nice Thanksgiving dinner and save the leftovers for many, many meals.
Gypsy girl said,
2007-12-04 @ 19:58:35
Hi Nice post. I have always been into fitness and nutrition, so it was only a matter of time before I found CRON and I am sure glad I did. My husband and I already eliminated virtually all processed food from our diet long ago and eat healthy , whole organic(as much as possible) foods. Now it is just a matter of reducing the calories. I am learning a lot from your site. Thanks!! and keep up the good work!!!
Primates - Man, Bonobo, Chimpanzee
Bonobo - the gentle ape
I recently watched a re-run of a PBS NOVA special about bonobos. For some time, scientists have known that chimpanzees and bonobos share about 98% of their DNA with humans. Current research has shown that bonobos can use and understand language. Analysis of the behavior of the two apes indicates that chimpanzees are bullies, fighters, and murderers who dominate by force, whereas bonobos are peace-loving, social, and sometimes join peacefully with non-related groups of bonobos. Researchers think that unity between the high-ranking bonobo females and year-round social sexual encounters between all members of the bonobo group help to reduce conflicts.
Humans have aggressive traits as well as social traits. The NOVA program tried to imply that the personality of humans may be closer to bonobos than to chimpanzees because we aggregate into social groups, we are very sexual, and we have some altruistic traits. However, as a background to the story, the program mentioned the regional war that spread through the Congo which is the native habitat of bonobos. The researchers studying the bonobo were detained as spies and were lucky to survive the ordeal. The war brought great misery to the area when food became scarce and thousands of people lost their lives through aggression, starvation, or disease.
There is great irony in trying to find good qualities in mankind when there are so many conflicts around us. The lessons of the great world wars have been largely forgotten. Words like Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, Gaza, Sudan, and Abu Ghraib evoke images of chaos, destruction, famine, and new forms of torture like "waterboarding". We may be closer to chimpanzees than we would like to admit.
 Nova Special on the Bonobo
 Linguistic Capabilities of the Bonobo
The Calorie Restriction Paradox
CR mice weigh only half as much as non-restricted mice
Calorie Restriction is well established as a method for increasing the average life span of many experimental animals. If after weaning, you feed mice 40% less that what they would normally eat, the mice virtually stop growing in size. At maturity, the calorie restricted mice weigh only half as much as the mice fed a normal diet. The following chart shows the weight gain of the normally fed mice and the almost constant weight of the restricted mice:
The non-restricted mice eat F grams of food per W grams of body weight (F/W). The restricted mice eat 0.6 grams of food per 0.51 grams of body weight (0.6 F/0.51 W). However, 0.6/0.51 is 1.18 F/W which corresponds to 18% more food per unit of body weight.
This is the paradox: How can a rodent that, on a body weight basis, eats proportionally more than the control accrue the benefits of longevity?
 Mattson, et al. "Intermittent fasting dissociates beneficial effects of dietary restriction on glucose metabolism and neuronal resistance to injury from calorie intake", Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2003 May 13; 100(10):6216-6220.
Love, Sex, and Health
Auguste Rodin - The Kiss
Last week I ran across two statistics that indicate that the United States is dropping its guard against sexually transmitted diseases. All the political talk about sexual abstinence and emphasis on family values is producing a country with record numbers of venereal diseases. Something is not working.
For political reasons, middle school children are not getting adequate sex education. Meanwhile, television and cable channels have an increasing number of shows with sexual content, and the internet has an abundance of pornography. The result is predictable. Half of the children in the United States have lost their virginity by age 16 and many of them don't know about the risks of pregnancy or venereal diseases. The worst thing is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that about 19 million sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) were recorded in the United States during 2006, half occurring among people between the ages of 15 and 24.
Charles Koop, the Surgeon General of the United States during Ronald Reagan's presidency, made many Republicans unhappy by advocating teaching sex education in schools starting as early as the third grade, and expanding the curriculum in higher grades to teach about the use of condoms to combat the spread of AIDS. New appointees to the office of Surgeon General have kept a low profile rather than battle diseases that a large segment of the American public believe to be punishments from God for immoral people.
Keeping track of our fitness with a scale
Antonio Zamora - Age 65
We have been conditioned to think that we will gain weight as we get older. This is only true if we do not adjust our diet for the reduced number of calories that our body uses as it ages. A good bathroom scale is our best friend. A scale will not tell us that our double chin or the bulge in our midsection makes us look better -- it just shows our weight. We should be thankful for the honesty of the scale.
Using a scale regularly, we can keep our weight fairly constant. If our weight goes up by a few pounds and it stays up for several days, we know that it is not just water retention. We are getting fatter! It is time to eat less. We have to choose nutritious foods that will satisfy our hunger and provide all the nutrients that our body needs.
I am thankful to my sister for having pointed out several years ago that I was getting fat. Who? Me Fat? I weighed myself and calculated my Body Mass Index, and sure enough, I was overweight! We change so gradually that we do not notice the small increases of weight that add up to many pounds over the years.
So, here I am, 65 years old and at the same weight that I had when I was in my twenties. I have had to learn a lot about nutrition and exercise to achieve this. It is hard for me to believe that I am now officially on Medicare insurance. I am going to continue to try to stay in good health in order not to use it.
Mike J said,
2007-11-16 @ 12:05:23
You look great. Keep up the good work.
Can you provide an example of a typical day, in terms of diet? ( lunch, breakfast, dinner, etc... )
2007-11-16 @ 15:48:17
Please look at the "Menu Ideas" section of the Nutrition page.
Gypsy girl said,
2007-11-26 @ 17:16:18
Great photo. You are an inspiration!!!
My husband and I are also in our 60's. We have always been health and fitness nuts. growing our own organic veggies, eating whole, natural food, etc. Always reading about health and fitness, which is how I have just found CRON diet (which is basically our diet nutrionally, but with fewer calories), so we can now take our fitness and health to a new level!!
Thanks for the great website and such good information.
keep up the good work
I wish you peace, love and laughter
Logical Arguments and FallaciesThe formulation of valid logical arguments is one of the pillars of the Scientific Method. An argument consists of one or more premises and one conclusion. A premise is a statement that is offered in support of the conclusion. Premises and conclusions are statements that may be true or false. A valid logical argument presents true premises that logically lead to a true conclusion. Arguments may be either deductive or inductive. The premises in deductive arguments provide complete support for the conclusion, whereas for inductive arguments they provide some degree of support, but not complete support. Fallacies are arguments that are defective because the premises do not provide the proper support for the conclusion. These are the most common fallacies:
An Ad Hominem fallacy is an argument which is used to discredit what a person said by attacking the person rather than by disproving the statement. An Ad Hominem fallacy is invalid logic because the character, circumstances, or actions of a person are not relevant to the truth or falsity of the claim being made. For example, in the argument "President Bush is a bad president because he goofed off in college", the conclusion that President Bush is a bad president may be true, but the statement that he goofed off in college which may also be true does not provide enough support for the conclusion.
An Appeal to Authority is an argument where the premise references an authority to support the argument. Appeals to authority may be wrong when the authority is not a reliable reference for a particular subject, for example: "President Bush said that our mission in Iraq was accomplished therefore it must be true".
Appeal to Ridicule is a fallacy in which ridicule or mockery is used in the premise as a justification for the conclusion. For example, "Copernicus said that the Earth goes around the sun. He is crazy!" Ridiculing Copernicus does not disprove that the Earth goes around the sun.
Why can't Science give us Absolute Answers?Our modern world is full of engineering marvels crafted with great precision. Science seems to have the answer to everything, but at a fundamental level, science cannot give us absolute answers.
Science is the systematic study of natural phenomena. The scientific method, which is the foundation of science, is an iteration towards perfection without ever achieving it. The scientific method has basically four steps consisting of 1) observation and description, 2) formulation of a hypothesis to explain the observation, 3) use of the hypothesis to predict other phenomena, and 4) perform new experiments to verify the predictions. This is a never-ending cycle that gets us closer and closer to the truth.
The reason that science cannot give us absolute answers is that there are limits to what we can observe and measure. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle is a mathematical formulation that describes the limits of our ability to perceive. The inability to measure with absolute precision means that science cannot give us absolutely precise answers. Another obstacle to our pursuit of absolute answers is that the scientific method only applies to reproducible events. Events for which it is not possible to formulate a hypothesis will forever remain outside the domain of science.
The scientific method, which has its origins in the 17th century, has served mankind well. Our modern civilization would not exist without it. Modern humans have been around for around 60,000 years, but the greatest advances in science have been made only in the last 400 years as logical thinking has gradually replaced mysticism and obscurantism.
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