Sunday, June 17, 2018

Consequences of Too Little Sun Exposure

We are constantly reminded that sun exposure is a major risk factor for skin cancer.     However, there is WAY more to this story and the details matter!    First of all, many studies show that the deadliest form of skin cancer – Melanoma – is not associated with cumulative sun exposure.    In addition, skin cancer risk is mostly about avoiding sun burn, and everyone agrees this is an important goal.

Another important consideration is Vitamin D production – optimizing Vitamin D levels is incredibly important for disease prevention and the best way to do this is with safe, sensible sun exposure.    See this blogpost for information on how to optimize your sun exposure based on your genetics and where you live:

Negative implications of lack of sun exposure:

Increased dementia risk - People who completely avoid sun exposure have almost a 40% greater risk for dementia as they age.   

Increase Breast Cancer Risk – Woman who avoid sun exposure have a much greater risk of developing breast cancer.    In an analysis of women in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Epidemiologic Study, researchers found that the protective effects of sun-exposure on breast cancer was simply enormous. The risk reductions were highest for women who lived in United States regions of high solar radiation, with RRs ranging from 0.35-0.75. That means, sun-exposure reduced the risk of breast cancer by three-fold; for every 100 breast cancers in women practicing sun avoidance, the sun-loving women only had about 35 cancers, an enormous reduction.

Increased Bone Fracture Risk – Cumulative sun exposure decreases risk of breaking a hip.    Fractures are significantly lower in those with high lifetime sun exposure.   

Increased Risk of Multiple Sclerosis – Many studies show that both lifetime sun exposure and current sun exposure reduces the risk of contracting Multiple Sclerosis.

Increased of Myopia (near sightedness) – according to studies, children who get a lot of sun exposure have a much-reduced risk of developing myopia.

Increase Mortality Risk – A Study that followed 29,000 Swedish women for up to 20 years showed that sun avoiders died much younger than sun lovers, and that the effect of sun avoidance on mortality was equivalent to the risks created through smoking!

CAUTION – As stated above getting sun-burned is a very bad idea for many reasons.      Like most things in life it is all about the right dose which is individual based on your skin and where you live.    

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Can Broccoli Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

It may sound crazy, but in a recent study a key phytochemical in broccoli not only cleared the accumulation of amyloid plaque but also improved memory deficits in mice.     Beta Amyloid Plaque buildup is how Alzheimer’s causes brain damage. So even though this was just a mouse study there is other similar evidence for the benefits of Sulforaphane from broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables.   

In another study mice with Alzheimer’s were treated with Sulforaphane for four months and it inhibited the production and build-up of amyloid plaque.   As in the first study mentioned the treated mice maintained normal cognitive function compared to other Alzheimer’s Mice at 10 months.

Sulforaphane is an immune stimulant and ramps up the body’s production of key anti-oxidants while reducing harmful inflammation, and increasing detoxification.     

For more information and to see all the many benefits of Sulforaphane see this blogpost:

Sunday, June 3, 2018

A Detox Method that Really Works!

Unless you live under a rock you have probably seen many “detox” cleanses and products that claim to help the body purge itself of toxins, but do any of them actually work?   Certain products can support the key organs of elimination which are the liver, kidneys and digestive tract, but the process of detoxification is actually quite complex and occurs at many different levels starting with individual cells progressing to tissues and then finally organ systems.      Saunas and in particular infrared saunas also support detoxification.

The body is constantly producing waste products that need to be eliminated for optimal cellular, tissue and organ function.    Even people who eat nothing but organic food and highly purified water create waste products, and they also encounter toxins from the environment.    Some of these toxins are worse than others, but no one can completely escape contact with toxins.

Where do Toxins in the Environment Come From?

With over 100,000 chemicals in commercial use with 25% of them known to be hazardous there are a lot of toxins in our environment!

To get a sense of how wide-spread environmental toxins are in our bodies let’s take a look at the results of the National Adipose Tissue Survey conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency which examined toxin levels in peoples’ bodyfat.     The results are alarming to say the least:

Chemical Tested                                              % of people having this toxin in fat
Styrene                                                                100%
1,4-dichlorobenzene                                      100%
OCDD (dioxin)                                                   100%
HxCDD (dioxin)                                                 98%
Xylene                                                                  100%
Benzene                                                              96%
TCDD (Agent Orange)                                     76%
DDT (banned 1972)                                          55%
PCB’s                                                                     95%
M, p-Cresol                                                        93%
Toluene                                                               91%

To make matters worse many chemicals we encounter do their damage quickly and cannot be found in human tissue because they quickly degrade., yet they do cause tremendous harm from just brief exposure.  

Autophagy – Your Bodies Clean Up Method!

Autophagy is a detox process your body uses to clean out damaged cells and regenerate new ones.  Autophagy plays a key role in your body’s ability to detoxify, repair, and regenerate itself.  The benefits of autophagy include:

Reduced inflammation
Improvement in cellular, tissue and organ function
Prevention or delay of neurodegenerative diseases
Increased longevity

According to Dr. Colin Champ who is a radiation oncologist and professor at the University of Pittsburgh:  “Think of it as our body’s innate recycling program.   Autophagy makes us more efficient machines to get rid of faulty parts, stop cancerous growths, and stop metabolic dysfunction like obesity and diabetes.”

How Do You Increase Autophagy?

There are five key ways to ramp up autophagy in your body:

Use Intermittent Fasting
Eat a high fat low sugar and starch diet
Limit protein intake to 15 grams per day one time per week
Get a good night’s sleep!


HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training, is the most effective form of exercise to stimulate autophagy because it stresses your body enough to provoke biochemical change.  It is about getting in short-term, acute stress.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting dramatically ramps up autophagy.   Intermittent Fasting can be done several ways but the easiest method to integrate it into your life is to simply  keep all your meals within an 8 hour window each day (see  this blogpost for details on intermittent fasting: )

Limit Protein

Excessive protein intake stimulates IGF-1 and mTOR which shut-down autophagy.    So in an ideal world you should limit your total daily protein intake from 40 – 100 grams per day depending on your size and level of lean body mass.   

For body builder types or anyone looking to increase muscle mass adequate protein intake is important, BUT you can accomplish this without overeating protein as described above and/or limiting your protein intake to 15 – 25 grams once or twice a week on non-training days.

This gives your body a full day to recycle proteins, which can help reduce inflammation and cleanse your cells without muscle loss.


Sleep is a time of physical and mental restoration and during productive sleep autophagy is ramped up all over.   During sleep the brain cleans itself of toxins that have accumulated throughout the day.  During sleep, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain increases dramatically, washing away harmful waste proteins that build up between brain cells.   

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Regular Exercise Prevents Tooth Loss

Research conducted at the Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine, and published in the Journal of Periodontology, found the prevalence of periodontitis, a gum infection that causes the loss of teeth, was reduced by 29% among adults who exercise regularly!

Periodontitis is the main cause of tooth loss.   23% of adults, age 65 and older suffer from periodontitus.   30% of Americans, age 65 and older no longer have any natural teeth.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Exercise and Sleep in Older Americans

Findings from a Stanford University Medical School Study may come as no suprise:  older and middle-age people reported sleeping better when they added regular exercise to their routine.   After 16 weeks in a moderate intensity exercise program, subjects were able to fall asleep about 15 minutes earlier and sleep about 45 minutes longer at night.

The link between aerobic exercise and sleep may seem obvious, but until this study, there has been very little controlled research to support this conventional wisdom.    They they are only 20% of the population, older Americans recieve almost half of the medications prescribe to aid sleep.

The potential side effects of these drugs - confusion, falls, extended drowsiness, agitation, and interactions with other medications - can be especially problematic for this group.    Until this study, there were few attempts to identify effective non-drug approaches ot treating mild to moderate sleep disorders.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Many Health Benefits of Cilantro

Cilantro aka Coriander aka Chinese Parsley is an annual herb, and all parts of the plant are edible.  Cilantro is used in cuisines all over the world.  It is a tasty addition to soups, salads, and other dishes.  Cilantro has many health benefits.


Cilantro is a rich source of antioxidant compounds that protect cells from damage from the many free radicals that are produced daily in all the cells of the body.    It contains a significant amount of quercetin which has many benefits (see this blogpost for more information on quercetin and its many benefits: )

Chelates Heavy Metals

Heavy metals are not referring to a type of rock music!   Heavy metals include arsenic, cadmium, aluminum, lead and mercury and they are HIGHLY toxic.   They are directly linked to heart disease, cancer, hormonal imbalance, neurological conditions, infertility and much more.    Cilantro binds these metals and facilitates their removal from the body so regular intake ramps up the bodies detoxification of these toxins which every person is exposed to at some level!

Unfortunately, many medicines such as vaccines and antibiotics contain significant quantities of these metals, and they are in our environment due to pollution..

Lower Anxiety and Improved Sleep

Cilantro helps calm nerves and is shown to improve sleep through its natural and safe sedative effects.   A Indian Study showed that high intake of Cilantro produced the same anti-anxiety effects as Valium without all the side effects or addiction potential!

Controls Blood Sugar

Cilantro has been shown to lower blood sugar levels safely, and a study showed that cilantro helps support liver function and balance blood sugar in diabetes.   Chop cilantro leaves and stems and add to salads, salsa and smoothies to lower your blood sugar.

Improved Cardiovascular Health

In the same study mentioned above about diabetes – researchers found that cilantro lowers cholesterol and triglycerides.   Cilantro also helps lower blood pressure.

 Protection from Food Poisoning

Cilantro has antibacterial properties help protect against both food and water based diseases including food poisoning, dysentery, salmonella, cholera, and listeria.   This is the reason it was used initially because before modern times and refrigeration preventing illness from food and water was extremely important and people learned that spices and herbs could prevent illness.   This is why cuisine from warmer climates tends to be spicier since there was no way to prevent bacterial contamination prior to refrigeration.

Urinary Tract Infection

Cilantro’s antibacterial compounds specifically target bacteria that commonly cause urinary tract infections.    If you soak 1 and ½ teaspoons of dried cilantro seeds overnight in 2 cups of water then strain and drink or add to smoothies – it will help relieve the discomfort of a urinary tract infection and accelerate recovery.

Digestive Discomfort

Cilantro has been used for thousands of years to effectively teat nausea, gas and bloating, relieve indigestion and heart burn, and ease digestive cramps.    Cilantro helps increase digestive enzymes that breakdown foods.     Cilantro also makes spicy dishes more tolerable and helps prevent heartburn.   

Try adding a touch of chopped cilantro to these dishes.

Improved Hormonal Balance

Cilantro helps to regulat proper endocrine gland function, and the hormones that regulate menstrual cycles in woman.     Together with its ability to reduce bloating and cramps this makes cilantro a great choice for woman with menstrual discomfort.

Skin Health

Cilantro contains natural anti-histamines and internal and external use can help calm skin irritations that are commonly caused by the immune system overreacting to allergens.     In these cases chop finely and mix with coconut oil and apply to the skin while also taking it internally.

Side Effects and Contraindications

Individuals who are allergic to fennel, dill, aniseed, caraway or other similar herbs can have an allergic reaction to cilantro and should avoid it.  In rare cases these reactions can be severe.     Individuals with asthma or bronchitis should be very careful using dried, ground coriander because it can cause irritation in the bronchial arteries.

Genetic Taste Response to Cilantro

For all its benefits, cilantro contains aldehydes that provide a highly pungent odor that some people find highly disagreeable.    This is thought to be caused by a genetic variation and is just one of many examples that each person is different.   So if you do not like it – don’t eat it!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Does Whey Protein Decrease Testosterone?

On the surface this statement seems implausible, but there is research showing that protein intake immediately before or after a workout can reduce the increase in testosterone that occurs after when you train with high intensity.

There are also studies that showed that high protein diets lower resting levels of testosterone, while other studies have shown that protein intake can increase the availability of testosterone.

These seeming contradictory studies may be explained by a theory that protein could cause an increase in total testosterone while also lowering circulating levels of testosterone.  The theory postulates that protein intake increases the sensitivity of testosterone receptors on cells so that the increased testosterone is being pulled into the cells which decreases circulating levels of testosterone!

A 2008 study showed an increase in the production of testosterone receptors within exercised muscles in response to whey protein supplementation done at 1 hour and 48 hours post-exercise.  More receptors mean more testosterone is taken up by the cells!

The 2008 study results were supported by a 2015 study using rats which showed that whey protein supplementation immediately after “training” resulted in a 90.5% increase in intracellular testosterone.   Rats were forced to exercise vigorously and then given 500 milligrams of whey protein (this is equivalent to 19 grams of whey protein in a human which is a typical post-exercise dose).

Given that many other studies have shown increases in muscle growth with whey protein intake post strength training it is pretty safe to assume that whey protein intake after strength training will improve muscle growth and recovery.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

How Much Time Should You Rest Between Resistance Training Exercises?

One of the most common questions about weight training aka resistance training is how long should you rest between each exercise set?     If you take a look at the relevant research concerning this topic there are some good answers.

For a long time, researchers believed that shorter rest periods were better for increasing muscle size which was thought to occur because of increased levels of metabolic stress by not allowing complete recovery.    However, research done in 2015 shows that using longer rest periods actually results in better results for both increased muscle size and increased muscle strength.     It is thought that this occurs because longer rest periods allow a higher training volume (more repetitions of each exercise).

Another aspect to consider is whether most of your workout uses compound exercises (compound exercises use multi-joint exercises using more muscle mass such as a chest press vs a pec dec or pull-up vs an Lat Pullover).      In a 2012 study researchers found that with shorter rest periods workout volume decreased for both single-joint and multi-joint compound exercises.       However, the decrease in volume in workouts with short rest periods tended to be significantly greater with multi-joint compound exercises vs single-joint exercise (29% reduction in volume with multi-joint as compared to 15% with single- joint exercise). So for strength routines focused on compound, multi-joint movements increased rest time is probably a good idea.

Another study which looked at the effects of rest interval length on training volume discovered another important item:    reduction in training volume occurs mainly between 1 and 2-minute rest periods.    The percentage difference between 2 and 3-minute rest periods is much smaller, except when doing 5 or more sets of an exercise.     So, for people doing 3 – 4 sets per exercise, 2 minutes is a good rest interval, but if doing 5 or more sets you should probably extend the rest interval to 3 minutes.

Another important piece of information is that recreational lifters who self-determine rest periods tend to rest just under 2 minutes between sets meaning that for most lifters doing 3 to 4 sets of several exercises whose goal is increased muscle size and strength you probably do not need to time your rest intervals and can go just go by feel.

Timing rest intervals becomes more important for advanced resistance training such as Power Lifting and Bodybuilding, but for most of us we can just go by how we feel!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

PQQ – Safe Supplement for Improved Cellular Energy

Pyrroloquinoline quinone aka PQQ is a chemical found in plants that is a key factor in stimulating cell growth, differentiation and survival.    PQQ is also a strong antioxidant that is capable of continuous cycling much more than other antioxidants.   For example, PQQ can quench free radicals over 20,000 times compared to only 4 for vitamin C.

Although you may not heard of it before – PQQ plays a critical role in human nutrition and is found in all plant foods in very small amounts.   If PQQ is completed removed from the diet it leads to slowing of growth, decreased immunity, and abnormal reproductive function.

Cellular Energy Production

PQQ promotes the generation of new mitochondria within cells – including aging cells.     This is a very important benefit because cells derive their energy from mitochondria and mitochondrial function decreases with aging and is one of the key factors in cellular aging and dysfunction.  
Research on PQQ

PQQ has a wide range of physiological effects can be extremely helpful for conditions related to low mitochondrial function including aging, along with many brain and neurological disease along with other chronic degenerative diseases.      Most research has focused on how PQQ protects memory and cognition during aging.

PQQ is particularly effective when combined with ubiquinol which is the activated form of Coenzyme Q10.    In a study with over 70 people between the ages of 40 – 70, 20mg per day of PQQ resulted in significant improvements in cognitive function, but in the group receiving 20mg of PQQ AND 300mg of Ubiquinol the results were very dramatic.

PQQ has been shown to go to work immediately.   In one study subjects were given a single dose of .2mg per kilogram of bodyweight and then measurements were taken over the next 48 hours.    The measurements showed a significant increase in antioxidant potential from this single dosage.    The same group was given an even higher single dose and measurements showed a significant decrease in C-reactive protein and interleukin 6 72 hours later which are key markers for inflammation.

Other Benefits of PQQ

PQQ has also been shown to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) on par with Statin Drugs but with no side effects!

Lowers risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s

Increases Nerve Growth Factor


Studies show the best results with 10 – 20mg per day (nice because it is a very small pill!) and even better when combined with 300mg of Ubiquinol.    For even stronger results combine with Berberine – see this blog post on Berberine -

Monday, April 16, 2018

High Intensity Exercise and Brain Health

Physical fitness has been linked to brain health and is an important strategy to prevent dementia.  In fact, compelling evidence shows that physical exercise helps build a brain that not only resists shrinkage but increases cognitive abilities and creativity.

We also know that exercise promotes your brain’s ability to adapt and grow more cells. Exercise also promotes brain health by controlling insulin resistance and boosting hormones and neurotransmitters associated with mood control, including endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, glutamate and GABA. 

A Canadian Study showed that high-intensity workouts helped boost memory by improving hippocampal function — a finding that may prove to be an important prevention strategy against Alzheimer’s disease.

High-Intensity Exercise Improves Memory

In the Canadian study, 95 healthy young adults were put into one of three groups: One group completed six weeks of HIIT plus cognitive training; the other treatment group did HIIT only, while the control group remained inactive and got no cognitive training. Both HIIT groups experienced significant improvements in high-interference memory.

Interference memory is when information a person has already memorized interferes with their ability to learn and memorize new information.  It is directly linked  to the ability to learn and retain information.

Improvement in Fitness Level seems to be linked with Brain Benefits

Those who achieve the greatest improvements in fitness also have more significant increases in brain-derived neurotrophic factor aka (BDNF). BDNF is a protein that has rejuvenating effects on both your muscles and your brain. High BDNF levels have also been correlated to a dramatic reduction in Alzheimer's risk, as it helps you grow new brain cells and protect old ones from deterioration.

As one would expect, those who participated in both HIIT and cognitive training saw the greatest improvements in memory in this study, and “high responders to exercise,” meaning those who gained the greatest fitness improvements, gained the greatest memory improvements of all.

Exercise Also Increases Mitochondrial Health in Your Brain

Other research has shown that exercise also increases the levels of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator (PGC-1α), which increases mitochondrial biogenesis (the production of new mitochondira within cells). The PGC-1α pathway regulates both mitochondrial activity and mitochondrial replication. This is very significant for the brain as it is the most mitochondrially-dense organ in your body.  Mitochondria are the key energy producing organelle’s in the cells, and one of the primary causes of aging and cellular dysfunction is defective mitochondia.   Without enough health mitochondia cells cannot function properly.

Exercise Triggers the Growth of New Neurons

As noted by psychiatrist Dr. John J. Ratey in his book “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain,” there’s overwhelming evidence showing that exercise produces large cognitive gains and helps fight dementia.

There are several studies showing that exercise boosts gray matter in the hippocampal region of the brain. A 2013 study found the total minutes of weekly exercise correlated with volume of the right hippocampus, meaning the more exercise people got, the larger their right hippocampus — the area associated with nonverbal memory functions and spatial relationship memories.

Exercise also preserves gray and white matter in your frontal, temporal and parietal cortexes, thereby preventing cognitive deterioration. In a 2012 study, those who exercised the most had the least amount of brain shrinkage over a follow-up period of three years.