Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Info Fiend Find: The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life

NYTimes article by Gretchen Reynolds 

Conclusion MOVE. No matter what it is, Move! You, your head, heart, mind-space and longevity will benefit. 

PS the more you do the better you feel AND the more you want to do. So just do it (not to steal a quote ;) ).

The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life

Exercise has had a Goldilocks problem, with experts debating just how much exercise is too little, too much or just the right amount to improve health and longevity. Two new, impressively large-scale studies provide some clarity, suggesting that the ideal dose of exercise for a long life is a bit more than many of us currently believe we should get, but less than many of us might expect. The studies also found that prolonged or intense exercise is unlikely to be harmful and could add years to people’s lives.

No one doubts, of course, that any amount of exercise is better than none. Like medicine, exercise is known to reduce risks for many diseases and premature death.

But unlike medicine, exercise does not come with dosing instructions. The current broad guidelines from governmental and health organizations call for 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week to build and maintain health and fitness.

But whether that amount of exercise represents the least amount that someone should do — the minimum recommended dose — or the ideal amount has not been certain.

Scientists also have not known whether there is a safe upper limit on exercise, beyond which its effects become potentially dangerous; and whether some intensities of exercise are more effective than others at prolonging lives.

So the new studies, both of which were published last week in JAMA Internal Medicine, helpfully tackle those questions.

In the broader of the two studies, researchers with the National Cancer Institute, Harvard University and other institutions gathered and pooled data about people’s exercise habits from six large, ongoing health surveys, winding up with information about more than 661,000 adults, most of them middle-aged.

Using this data, the researchers stratified the adults by their weekly exercise time, from those who did not exercise at all to those who worked out for 10 times the current recommendations or more (meaning that they exercised moderately for 25 hours per week or more).

Then they compared 14 years’ worth of death records for the group.

They found that, unsurprisingly, the people who did not exercise at all were at the highest risk of early death.

But those who exercised a little, not meeting the recommendations but doing something, lowered their risk of premature death by 20 percent.

Those who met the guidelines precisely, completing 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, enjoyed greater longevity benefits and 31 percent less risk of dying during the 14-year period compared with those who never exercised.

The sweet spot for exercise benefits, however, came among those who tripled the recommended level of exercise, working out moderately, mostly by walking, for 450 minutes per week, or a little more than an hour per day. Those people were 39 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who never exercised.

At that point, the benefits plateaued, the researchers found, but they never significantly declined. Those few individuals engaging in 10 times or more the recommended exercise dose gained about the same reduction in mortality risk as people who simply met the guidelines. They did not gain significantly more health bang for all of those additional hours spent sweating. But they also did not increase their risk of dying young.

The other new study of exercise and mortality reached a somewhat similar conclusion about intensity. While a few recent studies have intimated that frequent, strenuous exercise might contribute to early mortality, the new study found the reverse.

For this study, Australian researchers closely examined health survey data for more than 200,000 Australian adults, determining how much time each person spent exercising and how much of that exercise qualified as vigorous, such as running instead of walking, or playing competitive singles tennis versus a sociable doubles game.

Then, as with the other study, they checked death statistics. And as in the other study, they found that meeting the exercise guidelines substantially reduced the risk of early death, even if someone’s exercise was moderate, such as walking.

But if someone engaged in even occasional vigorous exercise, he or she gained a small but not unimportant additional reduction in mortality. Those who spent up to 30 percent of their weekly exercise time in vigorous activities were 9 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who exercised for the same amount of time but always moderately, while those who spent more than 30 percent of their exercise time in strenuous activities gained an extra 13 percent reduction in early mortality, compared with people who never broke much of a sweat. The researchers did not note any increase in mortality, even among those few people completing the largest amounts of intense exercise.

Of course, these studies relied on people’s shaky recall of exercise habits and were not randomized experiments, so can’t prove that any exercise dose caused changes in mortality risk, only that exercise and death risks were associated.

Still, the associations were strong and consistent and the takeaway message seems straightforward, according to the researchers.

Anyone who is physically capable of activity should try to “reach at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week and have around 20 to 30 minutes of that be vigorous activity,” says Klaus Gebel, a senior research fellow at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, who led the second study. And a larger dose, for those who are so inclined, does not seem to be unsafe, he said.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Pantry Remnants 4-Grain Gluten Free Granola Recipe

The berries right now, although not local (I know :( ) are gorgeous! I can't get enough of them. I'm going to turn into the blueberry girl from Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory. They are plump and juicy, sweet and on sale! So exciting! Although I am eating them by the handful I thought oohh granola sounds so good too, and I haven't made a batch in quite some time.

I didn't have my typical granola ingredients, see original recipe here, so I tried to wing it with what I did have in the house, and oh man did it turn out delish! I actually think it is better the the original and healthier, win win!

Of course I didn't follow the recipe which I never do anyway. I am inspired by recipes, but almost never follow them. So I took what I had, without measurements and threw it all together. So here is the general recipe, with estimated amounts, in case you want to make this deliciousness:

1/3 scant cup of raw sugar (or brown sugar)
pinch of salt
dash of organic Madagascar vanilla extract
1 spoonful (~ 1 T) of coconut oil melted and cooled
maple syrup

Thoroughly whisk ingredients in a large bowl, until well combined.


3 c. organic, certified gf oats
1/2 c. flax seeds
1/2 c. quinoa flakes
1/2 c. quinoa
1/2 c. kasha (toasted buckwheat)
(you want 5 c. of grains, whatever you have you can use, mix it up, or just try it, if you don't have the exact same grains here)
large handful of raw pumpkin seeds
2 large handfuls of chopped raw almonds
1 c. shredded, unsweetened coconut
2 handfuls of raisins – 1 added before baking, 1 added after 

(I really like baking some of the raisins into the mix, they get crunchy and a little chewy. If you don't like this, add all your raisins after, when it has baked and cooled. Normally I do unsweetened cherries or cranberries, but I didn't have any, so raisins had to do)
cinnamon generously sprinkled across the top

Mix ingredients all together in the large bowl, making sure to bring the liquid mixture from the bottom up and integrated. The mixture should start to look a little wet all over. If it isn't, add a bit more maple syrup.

Once well combine spread all the granola onto a baking sheet. Evenly distribute and press down a bit. Put into a preheated oven at 325 and bake for 30-45 minutes. You will start to smell it and the edges with slightly brown. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Enjoy with almond milk and fresh berries galore, or with yogurt, or just a quick handful as a snack (as A likes to do). I'm drooling already, off to go have a bowl! Yum.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Live Consciously

I have been doing something called "Morning Pages" for the last two weeks. It is a meditative, stream-of-consciousness, writing practice that is done daily upon waking. I learned about it from my IIN Health Coach course, but also from hearing about it from friends. The concept is Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way approach to releasing your inner creativity.

While I am not necessarily feeling any more creative yet (I'll give it time) (However, I did work on my novel for the first time in over 6 months!) I have found other things are falling into place quite naturally that are perpetuating wellness and self-care. 

The practice is to wake 30 minutes earlier than you normally would to write 3 pages of stream-of-consciousness writing, writing when you are not fully conscious or at least before the overly active conscious brain kicks in. It is working marvelously for me, I wake at 6:30 and crack the blinds and write while still in bed. I am finding it very soothing and meditative. It perpetuates a calmness throughout my day. I tried for some time to wake and do yoga, but I found the motion challenging and nauseating. Laying in bed and writing I can do. And so far I am loving it. And the "benefits" are very interesting to me.

It helps that we are not sleeping in the same bed right now. I know, I know! Gasp! Horror! Dismay! No, have no worries there is nothing wrong with our relationship – yes I went through the same mental, emotional process too, but the reality is my sleep was suffering. And I am not a pretty person when I don't get my 8 soundless, restful hours (A can attest to this and still claims to love me). We sleep differently. Actually I think most of us do. And the assumption that we have to sleep together in the same bed when we all have different sleeping needs: bed firmness, amount of blankets, light, air flow, waking, turning over, having an edge to lean off...it really is quite ridiculous that we fall into the societal expectation that only happy couples sleep in the same "marital" bed together. I think if we all acknowledged our individual sleeping needs and owned them, without guilt or blame, relationships might actually be happier and healthier. We didn't chose separate beds out of anything but love for each other. Well rested and restored we are better available to each other. 

The waking earlier has naturally made me go to bed earlier. I noticed this weekend my sleeping rhythm has changed and I'm actually liking it. I always used the weekends as an excuse to sleep in, but that thought didn't cross my mind this past weekend. When I woke at 7, I didn't "kick the dog" and grumble that I should have slept until 10 (which is what I have done most of my life). 

I find my eating patterns are different as well. I am trying to eat my largest meal at lunch time and not eat within 3 hours of bed time. Also I have noticed a lack of interest in TV watching (which I needed to cut back on anyway, the winter doldrums made for more-than-I-would-like-to-admit wasted hours of mindless TV watching). There is a very natural disinterest. Also my typical night glass(es) of wine has been lessening to only 1 small glass a few nights a week.

While not consciously making these decisions they seem to be happening quite naturally. I am not sure if I am at a turning point in my self wellness and health exploration, but the immediate thing I can associate it with is the implementation of my Morning Pages.

Something else interesting happened the other day too. We had friends over for dinner, which we do often, but the one thing I walked away from the night completely cognizant of was how quickly people eat. Part of my self-exploration is chewing and eating consciously. We fall into the habit of eating quickly, occasional "blob nights" of eating dinner in front of the TV becomes the norm, and when you live with a food inhaler you have to be even more mindful of your digestion. Another level of my living consciously is eating slower, appreciating a meal and chewing each bite 30 times. It has taken extreme awareness and some repeated explanation to the food inhaler in the home of why I am trying this. But this dinner in particular was fascinating to me. It was not from a place of judgement, but of curious observation and light-bulb-aha-moment. I hadn't even gotten through 2/3 of my dinner plate, and the other 3 people were done and going for seconds. They all finished their second helping before I finished my first and only, much smaller plated portion. I was not chewing any slower than normal and yes there was some roughage which required extra chewing effort, but I sat at the table mesmerized how such a simple conscious choice to chew 30x/bite depicts at a dinner party.

While I by no means am saying the self-exploration of wellness, self-care, eating and living consciously is the "correct" way, nor am I even comparing to anyone else. I am observing and intrigued by my choices now that I am actually starting to see comparisons in certain situations, like the dinner party and the gasp and horror of some friends when I said we we are sleeping in separate beds.

I think it is funny how we default to the norm and rarely acknowledge, stand-up for and implement a different way, when it is clearly not working for us. It is OK if the norm doesn't fit you, or me, or even your spouse, so long as we can love, support, encourage and adapt with each other; then maybe we all could learn to know what we need and want as individuals, without comparison and judgement, just prioritizing self-worth, consciousness and love for each other as individuals.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Info Fiend Find: Your Birth Control Pills Are Keeping Fish From Having Babies Too

Who knew?? Definitely makes me think we need to consider alternatives for birth control, of our own bodies and for the already suffering fishies. Know our choices effect more than just us.....

Originally posted on takepart

Your Birth Control Pills Are Keeping Fish From Having Babies Too

The U.S. Geological Survey found that the effect of the hormone in oral contraceptives on aquatic life is seriously toxic.

Rainbow trout may die off because of infertility. (Photo: West/Getty Images)
The fish swimming in the streams, rivers, and lakes around your town are probably on Prozac. Now new research from the U.S. Geological Survey shows that the aquatic creatures living around you are probably on birth control too. 
No, there's no fish pharmacy doling out prescriptions. The study, which was recently published in Nature, found that the creatures are ingesting a synthetic hormone called 17a-ethinylestradiol, which is found in oral birth control. But unlike humans, who can stop taking the pill and then get pregnant, many fish that have ingested oral contraceptives become sterile. In the fish tested for the study, a 30 percent drop in fertilization rates was observed.
“If those trends continued, the potential for declines in overall population numbers might be expected in future generations,” Ramji Bhandari, a visiting scientist at USGS, told The Washington Post. “These adverse outcomes, if shown in natural populations, could have negative impacts on fish inhabiting contaminated aquatic.”
The study confirms research from the University of New Brunswick released last year that studied the effects of oral contraceptives on aquatic life. In that study, researchers put small amounts of the hormone into an artificial lake full of minnow. The result? The population of the tiny fish was nearly eliminated
Similar to antidepressants, people take oral contraceptives, and the residue from the pills ends up being excreted in our urine. The hormones can easily travel from our toilets to the nation’s waterways because municipal treatment plants aren’t equipped to remove trace amounts of chemical byproducts. Other studies have found that because of human use, our water is polluted with tiny amounts of cocaine and ecstasy. And fish absorb it all.
What's the fix to this scary situation? Nearly 64 percent of American women in their child-bearing years use some form of birth control, and about 27 percent of them take the pill. It's just not realistic to expect them to stop taking oral contraceptives without convenient, low-cost birth control alternatives. But if we don't want a mass die-off of fish because they've all been made sterile, the nation's scientists better get cracking on creating contraceptive methods that aren't so toxic.