Archive | November, 2010

From the Vitamin D Council about today’s report

30 Nov

Today, the FNB has failed millions…

3:00 PM PST November 30, 2010
After 13 year of silence, the quasi governmental agency, the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Food and Nutrition Board (FNB), today recommended that a three-pound premature infant take virtually the same amount of vitamin D as a 300 pound pregnant woman (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40423327/ns/health-diabetes/a). While that 400 IU/day dose is close to adequate for infants, 600 IU/day in pregnant women will do nothing to help the three childhood epidemics most closely associated with gestational and early childhood vitamin D deficiencies: asthma, auto-immune disorders, and, as recently reported in the largest pediatric journal in the world, autism. Professor Bruce Hollis of the Medical University of South Carolina has shown pregnant and lactating women need at least 5,000 IU/day, not 600.

The FNB also reported that vitamin D toxicity might occur at an intake of 10,000 IU/day (250 micrograms/day), although they could produce no reproducible evidence that 10,000 IU/day has ever caused toxicity in humans and only one poorly conducted study indicating 20,000 IU/day may cause mild elevations in serum calcium, but not clinical toxicity.

Viewed with different measure, this FNB report recommends that an infant should take 10 micrograms/day (400 IU) and a pregnant woman 15 micrograms/day (600 IU). As a single, 30 minute dose of summer sunshine gives adults more than 10,000 IU (250 micrograms), the FNB is apparently also warning that natural vitamin D input – as occurred from the sun before the widespread use of sunscreen – is dangerous. That is, the FNB is implying that God does not know what she is doing.

Disturbingly, this FNB committee focused on bone health, just like they did 14 years ago. They ignored the thousands of studies from the last ten years that showed higher doses of vitamin D helps: heart health, brain health, breast health, prostate health, pancreatic health, muscle health, nerve health, eye health, immune health, colon health, liver health, mood health, skin health, and especially fetal health. Tens of millions of pregnant women and their breast-feeding infants are severely vitamin D deficient, resulting in a great increase in the medieval disease, rickets. The FNB report seems to reason that if so many pregnant women have low vitamin D blood levels then it must be OK because such low levels are so common. However, such circular logic simply represents the cave man existence (never exposed to the light of the sun) of most modern-day pregnant women.

Hence, if you want to optimize your vitamin D levels – not just optimize the bone effect – supplementing is crucial. But it is almost impossible to significantly raise your vitamin D levels when supplementing at only 600 IU/day (15 micrograms). Pregnant women taking 400 IU/day have the same blood levels as pregnant women not taking vitamin D; that is, 400 IU is a meaninglessly small dose for pregnant women. Even taking 2,000 IU/day of vitamin D will only increase the vitamin D levels of most pregnant women by about 10 points, depending mainly on their weight. Professor Bruce Hollis has shown that 2,000 IU/day does not raise vitamin D to healthy or natural levels in either pregnant or lactating women. Therefore supplementing with higher amounts – like 5000 IU/day – is crucial for those women who want their fetus to enjoy optimal vitamin D levels, and the future health benefits that go along with it.

For example, taking only two of the hundreds of recently published studies: Professor Urashima and colleagues in Japan, gave 1,200 IU/day of vitamin D3 for six months to Japanese 10-year-olds in a randomized controlled trial. They found vitamin D dramatically reduced the incidence of influenza A as well as the episodes of asthma attacks in the treated kids while the placebo group was not so fortunate. If Dr. Urashima had followed the newest FNB recommendations, it is unlikely that 400 IU/day treatment arm would have done much of anything and some of the treated young teenagers may have come to serious harm without the vitamin D. Likewise, a randomized controlled prevention trial of adults by Professor Joan Lappe and colleagues at Creighton University, which showed dramatic improvements in the health of internal organs, used more than twice the FNB’s new adult recommendations.

Finally, the FNB committee consulted with 14 vitamin D experts and – after reading these 14 different reports – the FNB decided to suppress their reports. Many of these 14 consultants are either famous vitamin D researchers, like Professor Robert Heaney at Creighton or, as in the case of Professor Walter Willett at Harvard, the single best-known nutritionist in the world. So, the FNB will not tell us what Professors Heaney and Willett thought of their new report? Why not?

Today, the Vitamin D Council directed our attorney to file a federal Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the IOM’s FNB for the release of these 14 reports.

Most of my friends, hundreds of patients, and thousands of readers of the Vitamin D Council newsletter (not to mention myself), have been taking 5,000 IU/day for up to eight years. Not only have they reported no significant side-effects, indeed, they have reported greatly improved health in multiple organ systems. My advice, especially for pregnant women: continue taking 5,000 IU/day until your 25(OH)D is between 50-80 ng/mL (the vitamin D blood levels obtained by humans who live and work in the sun and the mid-point of the current reference ranges at all American laboratories). Gestational vitamin D deficiency is not only associated with rickets, but a significantly increased risk of neonatal pneumonia, a doubled risk for preeclampsia, a tripled risk for gestational diabetes, and a quadrupled risk for primary cesarean section.

Today, the FNB has failed millions of pregnant women whose as yet unborn babies will pay the price. Let us hope the FNB will comply with the spirit of “transparency” by quickly responding to our Freedom of Information requests.

John Cannell, MD
The Vitamin D Council
1241 Johnson Avenue, #134

Less Krill capsules just as Effective as Fish Oil capsules

12 Nov

Krill oil is getting more support.

Delicata Squash Soup

6 Nov

Delicata squash, also referred to as Peanut squash or Bohemian squash, has a sweet nutty flavor and is best during late summer/early fall.  It’s nearly fiber-less flesh yields favors of corn and sweet potatoes, and has a creamy texture.  The flavors are more concentrated  when roasted.  When buying a Delicata squash, look for a firm cylindrical shape with elongated ridges and pale-orange or yellow skin with green striations.

Delicata Squash Soup

Serves: 10

Makes: 8 cups                

Hands-on time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

2 lb delicata squash, halved lengthwise and seeded (can substitute with butternut squash or sugar pumpkin if not available)

1 lb Granny Smith apples (approximately 2 large), unpeeled, halved lengthwise, cored

1 large clove garlic, halved lengthwise

2 tbsp extra virgin, cold-pressed olive oil

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided (homemade stock if you have it)

1/3 cup raw buttermilk or raw cream (can substitute sour cream or greek yogurt if you prefer thicker texture)

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp celtic sea salt

To taste fresh ground white and black pepper

Garnish (optional)

1 1/4 cups air0popped popcorn

1 1/4 tsp finely minced fresh sage

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Brush cut sides of the squash, apples and garlic with olive oil.  Arrange them, cut-side down on a large rimmed baking sheet, tucking garlic beneath squash in hollowed out cavities.  Roast in oven for approximately 30 minutes, until squash and applease are tender when pierced with a fork.  Set aside and let cool; approximately 20 minutes.

3. Using a spoon, scoop flesh from squash and apples; discard skins.  Place roasted squash, apples and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Process to a smooth puree.  Add 2 cups borth and continue processing until smooth.  Transfer squash mixture to a medium saucepan over medium heat and add remaining 2 cups broth, buttermilk or cream, nutmeg and salt.  Bring mixture to a simmer, not a boil.  Cook for 10 minutes, season with pepper and set aside to keep warm.

To serve: Ladle 3/4c into a bowl and top with fresh sage sprig or a couple pieces of popcorn and sage.  Add pepper to taste.

Essential Fatty Acid Recipes

6 Nov

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are important substances from fats that must be provided by the foods we eat because the body cannot manufacture them.  Research has shown, that when present in the body, EFAs provide improvements in overall health ranging from better metabolism for weight management, increased energy, improved brain function, and protection for the heart and blood vessels.

FIT now offers a selection of rare, EFA-containing oils: Organic Walnut, Organic Pumpkin and Organic Sesame Oil by Flora Health. We also offer Udo’s DHA Oil Blend, an organic, vegetarian blend of various seeds that also contain EFAs.  FIT’s latest oil addition is an award winning, locally grown Olive oil by Dry Creek Olive Oil Company. The Three Orchards Blend Olive Oil is particularly unique because of its high oleic acid content, which makes it prefect for deep-frying including the Thanksgiving turkey.  FIT also offers Wilderness Family Naturals Centrifuge Extract Coconut Oil.  Because of this product’s purity, and coconut oil’s ability to maintain its integrity at high temperatures, this oil is great for high temperature holiday cooking and baking.

Each of the oils FIT carries is unique in its concentration of micronutrients, fats and polyphenols. Overall, they are all essential for optimal health and vitality. Here are several nutritious and delicious Holiday recipes using EFA containing oils.

Enjoy!

FIT Salad Dressing
Servings: 4
•    4 tbsp Udo’s 3-6-9 Oil Blend
•    2 tbsp organic apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

Vary this base with: Dijon mustard crushed garlic, cayenne, or dash of organic honey, maple syrup or brown rice syrup.
Try an assortment of fresh herb combinations: thyme and tarragon, marjoram and basil, oregano and….whatever you fancy! The more fresh the herbs (i.e. you chopped them), the better, but we all understand how circumstances can get in the way.

Sweet Potato and Apple Gratin
Servings: 8

Ingredients
•    3  cups thinly sliced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 1 1/4 pounds)
•    1  tsp  lemon juice
•    4  small sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (about 2 pounds)
•    1/4  cup  dark organic honey
•    1  tbsp  butter, melted
•    1/2  tsp  sea salt
•    1/4  tsp  black pepper
•    Coconut Oil
•    2  (1-ounce) slices whole-wheat organic bread
•    2  tsp  Flora’s Organic Pumpkin oil or Dry Creek Olive Oil
•    1/4  tsp  ground nutmeg

Directions
Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine apples and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add the sweet potatoes and the next 4 ingredients (sweet potatoes through pepper). Place the sweet potato mixture in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with coconut oil. Bake at 400° for 40 minutes, stirring after 25 minutes.

Place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs form to measure 1 cup. Combine breadcrumbs, oil, and nutmeg; sprinkle over the sweet potato mixture. Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until golden. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Pumpkin Bisque
Servings: 4

Ingredients
1 tbsp Dry Creek Olive oil
1 medium white onion (diced)
1 garlic clove diced
2 Cups pumpkin puree
4 Cups chicken stock
Bay leaf
Pinch sugar
1/3 tsp curry powder, or to your taste
Pinch nutmeg
2 Cups half-and-half
Salt and pepper
Toasted coconut

Directions
Slowly sauté onion and garlic in oil until transparent (about 5 minutes). Add pumpkin puree, chicken stock, bay leaf, sugar, curry, and nutmeg, mix well. Bring to boil, and then lower heat to simmer. Cook 20 – 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Add half-and-half and simmer another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Blend in batches in blender and strain through a fine strainer. Reheat gently, and serve with toasted coconut.

FIT Approved Fried Turkey
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 20

Ingredients
•    1  (12- to 15-pound) turkey
•    2  tbsp  ground red pepper (optional)
•    4  to 5 gallons Dry Creek Olive Oil
•    Garnishes: fresh sage, parsley, thyme sprigs, kumquats with leaves

Directions
Remove giblets and neck, and rinse turkey with cold water. Drain cavity well; pat dry. Place turkey on fryer rod; allow all liquid to drain from cavity (20 to 30 minutes). Rub outside of turkey with red pepper, if desired.
Pour oil into a deep propane turkey fryer 10 to 12 inches from top; heat to 375° over a medium-low flame according to manufacturer’s instructions. Carefully lower turkey into hot oil with rod attachment. Fry 1 hour or until a meat thermometer inserted in turkey breast registers 170°. (Keep oil temperature at 340°.) Remove turkey from oil; drain and cool slightly before slicing. Garnish, if desired.

3 Simple Movements to Energize and Revive You

6 Nov

By: Angelo

Remember those old snow globes and how you’d pick them up and shake them to make a snow flurry?  After a while the snow would settle and you’d have to shake it up again?  Well, if you imagine your body as a snow globe, sitting at the computer or standing for a long time without much movement results in stagnation.  It’s these snow flurries of movement that get the blood, lymph, oxygen, nutrients, and metabolic wastes flowing more easily through your brain and body, which can result in a sense of renewal and alertness.

The video below will demonstrate several simple movements that will revive you in three minutes anywhere, any time, and without equipment.  Because these movements apply gentle stress to your muscles, tendons, and ligaments, they help build tissue integrity and develop suppleness and extensibility.  They also provide an energizing massage to your internal organs assisting in their functions.  By exposing the body fuller ranges of motion, you stimulate production of synovial fluid and help keep your cartilage clean and healthy.  This is important because your joints rely on movement for their circulation.

To begin with, move slowly and within a small range of motion.  As you progress, try to move into a greater range of motion and move even slower.  In doing so, you’ll allow time for the fluids in your body to shift.  Here are some other things to keep in mind as you perform these movements with the video:

* Keep weight balanced on feet (or foot) throughout the whole movement.

* Move deliberately in a circle or specific pathway with control and stability.

* Maintain your breathing.  (It’s easy to get focused on the movement and forget to breath).

Try doing each of these 3 movements continuously for 1 minute every morning, afternoon, & evening for a week.  Take note of how you feel after each movement session and please share your experiences on our blog.

Click here for the Movement Video

If you need any clarification on these movements or want to get customized movements to address specific issues with your body, please feel free to contact Angelo:  angelo@focusedtrainers.com

Enjoy!

What’s in a Goal?

6 Nov

Think back in your life – specifically to the goals that you set.  How much time went in to satisfying your most memorable goal?  I don’t know if I would list this as my greatest achievement, but it will definitely last in my memory as a very rewarding goal that took more than a year to achieve.  What I’m referring to is my recent completion of the Chicago Marathon on October 10.  The impetus for this came from a conversation with my mother in the summer of 2009.  She asked if I would ever be interested in running a marathon, and I immediately gave her an emphatic NO!  The conversation meandered to marathon relays, half marathons, and shorter races, with my Mom finally saying, “Well I’m going to do it.” This was going to be her 50th birthday present to herself.  At the time I couldn’t think of a better present than to surprise her in Chicago and run the race with her (unfortunately, I was thinking that she was referring to the half marathon).

So, when I discovered later that she was talking about the full marathon – 26.2 miles! – I decided that, while although still a surprise, I had committed to this present, and was going to stick with it.  March 2010 rolled around, and I was signed up for my first marathon.

While I had a good amount of support and expertise from friends and colleagues, it definitely seemed like a daunting task to undertake.  For one, I AM NOT A RUNNER.  I have been playing soccer for over 20 years, but endurance running is not something I have ever enjoyed.  Secondly, I was not interested in affecting my physique or fitness (strength) levels in an effort to become an endurance athlete.  And probably most importantly, I had no idea how to train for a marathon, or how I was going to fit the training in with all of my other time constraints.

Well, courtesy of a client, I had the beginnings of a great training program: “Run Less, Run Faster” by Pierce, Murr, and Moss.  This program seemed right up my alley – only 3 days per week of running with only 1 of them being long runs.  So while running for distance was never my thing, I jumped into it with all the enthusiasm I could muster.  Boy was that a mistake; starting from a minimal training base, I bit off more than I could chew, and was pretty sore after every training run for a few days to follow.  That all subsided, fortunately, and I was able to accumulate a good training volume.

The big surprise was definitely a surprise – Mom had no idea I was coming, and I definitely put a smile on her face.  I was conscious that my arrival might put a crimp in her pre-race routine, but fortunately that was not the case: it became a real family affair with the rest of the family around for support.  Picking up the participant packet and walking through the race expo left me with a feeling I wasn’t expecting-anxiety.  This was the first time I started to question my training and preparation.  Was I ready? Had I trained long or hard enough?  The gravity of the impending marathon was finally starting to weigh on me.

All those questions and doubts disappeared when I awoke at 5am for the race.  The jitters never came back and I was ready to go!  After the starting gun went off, and my mom and I gave our parting good lucks, I was off.  Since I had trained for months by myself, racing by myself wasn’t hard to get used to, and I was running high with all of the other runners and supporting spectators.  As the finish approached, a huge weight seemed to lift off my shoulders (too bad my legs didn’t feel any lighter).  Walking through the finishers’ corral, all I could think about was rooting my Mom onto her own finish.  Unfortunately the throng of fans, spectators and racers made it impossible to reunite at the finish. However, the post-race party really hammered home what this goal meant to me: not only did I work really hard to accomplish an extraordinary physical feat, but I did it to support someone very close to me.  And that gratitude and happiness of sharing the marathon with her was the greatest reward.

So what goal are you working on?

Willpower: A Limited Resource?

6 Nov

When it comes to exercising more and eating healthier, “I need more willpower” is one of the most commonly uttered statements.  Several articles have highlighted studies showing willpower or self-control is a limited resource.  In other words, we only have so much willpower to draw on and it can be depleted quickly.  I am going to suggest something radical – not only do you have all the will power you need – it is a renewable resource!  The question is not “how can I get more willpower?”  The question is “how well am I supporting that vital resource?”

Let’s imagine that you are making nutritional changes to achieve a weight loss goal, and you are invited to a dinner holiday party with friends.  The goal for the evening is to eat only the foods deemed appropriate for weight loss.  Your first encounter is a table is filled with an assortment of enticing cheese and cream filled nibbles, chips and dips, and crudités.  Relying on your willpower, you pass up the cheesy, creamy delights, skip over the chips and dip, and settle for an array of tasty fresh vegetables.  After a glass of wine and mingling, the main course is laid out.  As you settle down to enjoy a beautifully prepared steak and crisp salad, you are offered a baked potato, garlic bread, and pasta salad.  Thinking about your goals, you refuse the additional food items.  However, the person offering continues to tempt you, making statements like, “oh, it’s just one potato” or “you don’t want any bread?” and “go ahead and have some pasta salad.  It’s salad after all.”  Still calling on your willpower, you politely refuse the additional food items.  As the meal continues, and the wine flows, you find yourself eyeing the bread across the table, thinking more and more about that steamy hot potato, and continually refusing a helping of pasta salad has become increasing difficult.  At last the meal has finished, and you are thinking “just in the nick of time!”  Then it happens, as you make your way out of the dinning area you run right into the dessert table.  Cookies, cakes, and holiday pies are all there looking delightful.  You take a deep breath and reach down for more willpower only to realize there isn’t any.  At this point you might be thinking, “Yelp! I need more willpower.”

Here is some food for thought: what if we changed the way we interpret willpower?  What if willpower becomes more of a resource?  And, what if that resource was supported by our thoughts and actions?  Willpower is defined as the strength of will and mind, or the determination to carry out a decision.  Willpower is also referred to as self-control.   Interestingly, the term resource can be defined as a supply or support that can be easily drawn on when needed.  Resource can also be defined as the capability to deal with adverse circumstances.  These two concepts are complimentary.  Rather than defining willpower as the unending ability to just say no, willpower becomes the determination to carry out a decision, and the ability to deal with or find solutions for over coming obstacles.

The next question is how to support or assist this resource.  Here are three tips for supporting your willpower:

1)   Develop a realistic and well-formed plan for over coming obstacles. Before developing a plan, the obstacles must be identified.  In the example above, the obstacle was food items considered off limits at a holiday party, and the plan was to avoid those foods.  First, how realistic is that plan?  To attending a holiday party and not partake in the foods you enjoy?  Rather than dabbling in deprivation, make a conscious choice to indulge some of your favorite foods, and pass on the other less exciting temptations.  Mentally and emotionally, choice is much more powerful than denial.

2)    Feed your brain. An interesting study found a relationship between blood glucose levels and self-control.  People in the study that had higher levels of glucose demonstrated greater willpower when compared to people with lower levels of glucose.  Therefore, having a snack before heading out to the party may not just keep your hunger in check, but may also support your willpower.  The study also found that restoring glucose helped replenish self-control, so when you feel your willpower reserves getting low try a piece of fruit.

3)    Laugh a lot and think positive. Not only has research has found that both laughter and positive thoughts boost self-control, but laughter has been shown to strengthen the immune system, reduce food cravings, and relieve stress.  I can think of a better way to enjoy a party, and improve health and well being, than to share laughter with friends!

Reference:

Pope-Parker, T.  How to boost your willpower.  The New York Times. http/well.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/12/06/how-to-boost-your-willpower/

Scott, E.  The stress management and health benefits of laughter: The laughing cure.  About.com:Stress Management.  http://stress.about.com/od/stresshealth/a/laughter.htm

Mindfulness During the Holidays

6 Nov

The season for gluttony has begun and as your resident fitness experts, we want to encourage you to enjoy it.  Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the earth’s bounty and be grateful that we live in a world of plenty, not to feel guilty about a piece of pumpkin pie.  The December holidays, along with Thanksgiving, are a time when after all the pre-holiday hustle and bustle, people typically sit down to share a meal together, which we know benefits overall health and well being (allthingsfit 8/10/10).  It’s also a time when routine is disrupted, and stress escalates. Social engagements surrounding food and libations are plentiful and taking care of one’s self is more easily overlooked.

In the interest of simplifying at least part of the holiday season, and hopefully maximizing your experience of this festive time of year, here is list of tips and reminders that might come in handy.

•   Get good sleep – never underestimate the impact of good rest on mood and efficiency.  Although 11 p.m. might seem like the only time you can prepare this or wrap that, getting good sleep will improve your stamina. You might find tasks take less time to accomplish and you enjoy doing them more.  Additionally, you will have more energy to keep up with the next day and the day after that.

•    Stay hydrated – regular consumption of water is not only good for overall health, it also increases your sensation of fullness making you less inclined to reach for whatever goodies might cross your path.  Carry a water bottle with you when you are out and about.

•   Enjoy the goodies – rather than thinking of I can’t have this, and I shouldn’t have that, go ahead and have a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  Not every day and not at every opportunity, but rather taste mindfully.  Savor the taste, hold it on your tongue, imagine tasting whatever it is for the first time and think about how you would describe it.  Much like a new article of clothing or a gadget you look forward to owning, holiday treats are worth indulging in, but should be special and not taken for granted.

•    Look out for your own best interests – keep quick, healthy snacks on hand and around the house.  It’s impossible to experience the months of November and December without feeling more rushed than normal, so plan for it.  Keep a bag of nuts and some beef jerky in the car.  Keep the house stocked with fruit and cut veggies so you can grab something on the fly.  Package leftovers in individual containers so you have ‘one pot’ meals readily available.  If you are bringing a dish to a gathering, make it something you will feel good about eating as you can safely bet someone else will bring treats.  If you are heading to an open house or cocktail party, be sure to have something to eat before heading out.

•    Remove the food or remove yourself from it – the longer food is available the more likely you are to eat it.  While most people enjoy sitting around the table and enjoying company, most do not enjoy the discomfort of overeating.  Clear the food off the table or move the gathering to another room.

•    Ensure that the good food is REALLY good – seek out heritage, organic and/or sustainably raised turkey.  Not only are these birds more flavorful, they are better for you.  You can find a local supplier by visiting (http://www.eatwellguide.org/search/advanced/).  In my experience, you can typically order locally from Whole Foods and Mollie Stone.  Whenever possible, stick to local, seasonal produce.  If you belong to a CSA, you can typically request extra items but beware that even the farmers may take a little time off so you may have to place your order early.  Mountain View and California Ave farmer’s markets are year round but go early the week of a holiday as they get crowded fast.

•    Lighten it up – not by using low calorie substitutes, but by utilizing nutrient dense alternatives.  As a substitute for traditional mashed potatoes, try cauliflower mash.  Or breadless stuffing made with vegetables, squash and/or beans.  Serve crudités with appetizers and fresh fruit with dessert.

•   Take time out – as easy as it is to get swept up in the excitement, the key to maximizing enjoyment of the holidays is to take a few moments for you to reflect and relax.  Go for a walk, sit by yourself in a quiet room, take a few deep breaths . . . whatever you do, don’t let the holidays pass by in a flurry of events and activities – enjoy the connections you have with others (which is believed to be central to longevity), savor the delights of the season and take time to truly be grateful for the gifts in your life. This may be the best gift you can give to yourself. The expression of gratitude is believed to be vital to the quest for happiness.