Archive | December, 2010

National Prevention Strategy

30 Dec

National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy

(National Prevention Strategy)

December 22, 2010

An important component of the Affordable Care Act, the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council (National Prevention Council) brings together seventeen federal departments and agencies to plan and coordinate prevention efforts across the government and the nation through the development of the National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy (National Prevention Strategy).  To provide guidance to the National Prevention Council, the President will establish an Advisory Group on prevention, health promotion, and integrative and public health composed of no more than 25 nonfederal members.  It is anticipated that the Advisory Group will be announced early in 2011.

The National Prevention Strategy provides an unprecedented opportunity to shift the nation from a focus on sickness and disease to one based on wellness and prevention.  It brings together the many sectors that affect the health of Americans, including transportation, education, housing, and health.  Bringing a focus on the prevention of disease and promotion of wellness to the forefront of our efforts will help lead to longer, healthier, and more productive lives for all Americans.  The job of implementing the National Prevention Strategy must include the participation, coordination, leadership, and commitment of all parts of society, including public and private partners, in order to successfully improve the health of Americans.

A Draft Framework to guide the development of the National Prevention Strategy was made available for public comment from October 1 – December 5, 2010.  Guided by this public input, the National Prevention Council has now developed a preliminary set of Draft Recommendations – overarching priorities with a focus on communities – that will greatly improve health and wellness in the United States.  The final National Prevention Strategy will also include specific actions that the federal government and others in the public, private, and non-profit sectors can take to achieve these priority Recommendations.   The Recommendations and Action Items in the final National Prevention Strategy will be based on evidence based interventions.  It will also reflect the importance of tracking progress to ensure accountability.   As National Prevention Council members and Designees receive public input, they will continue to refine the content and plan to release the final National Prevention Strategy in 2011.

For more details, see National Prevention Strategy.


24 Dec


Enjoy time with family and friends 🙂

Client of the Month Spotlight – Sunny Evans

21 Dec

Sunny’s Goal starting her fitness program at FIT: My goal was to be stronger and push myself harder.

Sonny’s Results: I have definitely gotten much stronger!  I like that Kevin keeps pushing me a little harder each time, getting me to do things I never thought I could.

Q. How did you feel about your fitness and physique before starting your exercise program at FIT? How do you feel about your fitness and physique now? I feel like I’ve come a long way, and I still have a long way to go (pull ups, anyone?)…

Q. What obstacles, if any, did you have to over come to maintain your commitment to fitness? Disc degeneration and stenosis in my back and neck keep me motivated to keep a strong core, and Kevin reminds me to maintain good form so I don’t get injured.

Q. What would you consider the keys to your fitness success? It’s all about personal success – always improving on my own time/weight/reps/strength.  I like to train with Barb because she motivates me to work harder, but I don’t see any point in comparing myself to her.

Q. Want motivates you through your workouts? And what motivates you to come back each day? Kevin is such a great trainer – keeps things super fun while kicking my butt!  And also working out with my “workout wife” Barb.  I couldn’t do it without her!  Someday I might be able to keep up with her…

Q. Do you have any exercise likes? Being done

Q. Do you have any exercise dislikes? Kettle bell hell, PVC

Q. Do you have any Personal Best? I have no idea about my personal bests – I just do whatever Kevin tells me to do.  Every once in awhile I’ll give him  “the look” (which he always calls me on!) when I don’t want to do something, but for the most part, I just do it!

Q. What is your favorite healthy snack? Fermented grapes…

Q. What is your favorite non-gym physical activity? I like to hike/walk – my husband and I have participated in the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk 8 times.  I also like to ride my bike.

From Sunny: I’m excited that my 15-year-old son Kyle started at FIT at the beginning of the year with Frank, and he loves it!  He went from a complete couch potato to loving being fit and working out hard – and I’m so proud of him!

From Kevin: Since joining FIT, Sunny has displayed nothing but a great attitude and work ethic.  She always works hard, regardless of whether she “likes” the exercise or not, and inevitable ends up with a smile on her face.  Her hard work has made her stronger in all aspects of fitness.  She has participated in fight gone bad, did a sprint triathlon, and the 3-day walk covering 60 miles, without any problems.

Autism Research

16 Dec

Breakthrough Discovery on the Causes of Autism

Imagine being the parent of a young child who is not acting normally and being told by your doctor that your child has autism, that there is no known cause, and there is no known treatment except, perhaps, some behavioral therapy. That is exactly what Jackson’s parents were told as their 22-month-old son regressed into the non-verbal psychic prison of social withdrawal, disconnection, and repetitive behaviors typical of autism.

While we don’t have all the answers, and more research is needed to identify and validate the causes and treatment of autism, there are new signs of hope. A study just published in The Journal of the American Medical Association by researchers from the University of California, Davis called “Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Autism” (i) discovered a profound and serious biological underpinning of autism — an acquired loss of the ability to produce energy in the cells, damage to mitochondria (the energy factories in your cells), and an increase in oxidative stress (the same chemical reaction that causes cars to rust, apples to turn brown, fat to become rancid, and skin to wrinkle). These disturbances in energy metabolism were not due to genetic mutations, which is often seen in mitochondrial problems, but a condition the children studied acquired in utero or after birth.

Bottom line, if brain cells cannot produce enough energy, and there is too much oxidative stress, then neurons don’t fire, connections aren’t made and the lights don’t go on for these children. In fact, this problem of energy loss is found in most chronic disease and aging — from diabetes to heart disease to dementia. Brain function and neurodevelopment in particular are highly dependent on energy.

This is exactly the problem, I documented and found in Jackson when I first saw him. He had a profound loss of energy in his cells (particularly his brain cells), and indicators of severe oxidative stress. This is the same problem many other researchers have found in similar studies. (ii) Despite the evidence, most physicians don’t test for mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress or other myriad factors commonly found in autistic children.

Let’s look more closely at what this new study in The Journal of the American Medical Association tells us about mitochondrial dysfunction, and how this may lead us to new methods of treatment — methods similar to the ones I used to help reverse Jackson’s autism.

Autism: Brain Disorder or Body-Based Biological Illness?
The big debate (iii) that ranges in autism circles is about whether or not autism is a fixed, irreversible brain-based genetic disorder, or a systemic, reversible body-based biological condition that has identifiable causes, measurable abnormalities, and treatable dysfunctions. In other words is autism a life sentence or a reversible condition?

Many studies have illuminated the causes and possible treatments for autism, but mainstream physicians or scientists ignore most of this data. This new study, breaks new ground because it was published in one of the world’s major medical journals.

In it researchers from UC Davis examined children two to five years of age from the Childhood Autism Risk From Genes and Environment (CHARGE) study in California — a population-based, case-control investigation with confirmed autism cases and age-matched, genetically unrelated, typically developing controls, that was launched in 2003 and is still ongoing. What they discovered was the aforementioned mitochondrial dysfunction that lead to problems with energy. Interestingly, these abnormalities were not found in neurons on a brain biopsy but from examining white blood cells called lymphocytes. This means the energy deficit was a systemic problem — not one residing solely in the brain.

This study forces the question: How do children acquire energy deficits that affect their whole system, not just the brain?

The causes of mitochondrial dysfunction are well known, specifically as it relates to metabolism and the brain, and I have documented them in my books “UtraMetabolism” and “The UltraMind Solution.” They include environmental toxins (iv) — mercury, lead and persistent organic pollutants(v) — latent infections, gluten and allergens (which trigger inflammation) sugar and processed foods,(vi) a nutrient-depleted diet(vii) and nutritional deficiencies.(viii) These are all potentially treatable and reversible causes of mitochondrial dysfunction that have been clearly documented.

I found all these problems in Jackson, and over a period of two years we slowly unraveled and treated the underlying causes of his energy loss which included gut inflammation, mercury, and nutrient deficiencies. Over time, the tests for his mitochondrial function and oxidative stress (as well as levels of inflammation and nutrient status) all normalized. When they became normal, so did Jackson. He went from full-blown regressive autism to a normal, bright beautiful six-year-old boy.

What it Means if Autism Can be Reversed
This is just one story, but if autism can be reversed in one child, if there is any possibility of effective treatments or a potential cure, it forces us to ask critical questions: How did this happen? Can it happen in other children? What were the biological patterns found and how were they treated?

The emotional and financial costs of autism for families and societies is staggering. Now one in five — or 20 percent — of children have some neurodevelopmental disorder. How can we sidestep our scientific and moral obligation and sit back and accept the limited resources allocated by the National Institutes of Health ($5.1 billion for cancer, but only $141 million for autism) and society as a whole.

Most neurodevelopmental disorders have common roots. But looking at only one aspect of such conditions will not solve the problem of autism. Current autism research is based on an outdated approach — one that is something like blind men examining the proverbial elephant. Each researcher works in his or her own silo examining different factors and coming to different conclusions. Research that integrates, synthesizes and examines all the data on causes and potential treatments is practically non-existent.

The mitochondrial dysfunction identified in the JAMA study I’ve been talking about is ultimately only one downstream symptom of many upstream causes. Other researchers have found systemic inflammation,(ix) brain inflammation,(x) gut inflammation,(xi) elevated levels of toxins and metals, gluten and casein antibodies,(xii) nutrient deficiencies including omega-3 fats,(xiii) vitamin D,(xiv) zinc, and magnesium, and collections of metabolic dysfunction related to quirky genes that make it difficult to perform chemical reactions essential for health in the body such as methylation and sulfation.(xv)

The take home message here is that the answer to autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders will not be found in one of these factors, but in all of them taken together in varying degrees in each individual. There is no such thing as “autism.” Rather there are “autisms” — different patterns of biological dysfunction unique to each child that result in multiple insults to the brain that all manifest with symptoms we call autism.

Future research must synthesize current data and design relevant whole systems research studies that don’t focus on a single factor, but examine all the factors together. Then we must apply Qqqthese findings in a comprehensive fashion, as is being done by many practitioners today who work in parallel — rather than in collaboration with — conventional approaches and often achieve remarkable results.

To close, I’d like to share Jackson’s story, as told by his father. I have documented this case report in a peer reviewed published paper which you can read if you are interested in the details of the case.(xvi) It is called “Autism: Is it All in the Head?” and it can be found at

In search of a smarter, more nutritious Farm Bill

14 Dec

Mercury News Editorial
Posted: 12/13/2010 10:00:00 PM PST

California should play matchmaker next month. It should insist that Congress marry its agriculture policy to its food and nutrition policy when federal lawmakers take up a new Farm Bill in January.
Taxpayers could shave billions from the growing deficit, and Americans could substantially reduce skyrocketing medical costs if, over time, they consumed healthier foods.

California’s fruit and vegetable growers say they don’t want government handouts. How refreshing. Imagine how the nation’s budget outlook — not to mention its health — would improve if corn growers were on an even footing. They received more than $70 billion from the federal government in the past 15 years to put some of the cheapest, unhealthiest processed foods known to man on our supermarket shelves.

All told, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has given farmers about $200 billion this decade. Nearly three-fourths of that subsidizes the production of corn, cotton, rice, soybeans and wheat. Meanwhile, strawberry, spinach and lettuce growers get virtually nada.

A prosperous agriculture industry is in everyone’s best interests, certainly in California, where it’s a $30 billion industry. But Congress long ago should have stopped subsidizing the production of unhealthy food. At least some of that money could have gone toward better informing Americans about the benefits of a more healthful diet, which ultimately will lower health care costs.

First lady Michelle Obama has made improving nutrition her No. 1 issue. She lobbied the House earlier this month to send a child nutrition bill to President Barack Obama, who will sign it soon. The legislation would reduce the amount of junk food in school cafeterias and provide more nutritional, free meals to poor children at schools.
But more must be done to encourage healthier eating and make more nutritious food available at affordable prices. That’s where the Farm Bill comes in.

It won’t be easy reducing subsidies to farmers used to being rewarded for growing unhealthy products. The majority of members of the House and Senate agriculture committees are from Midwestern states. They get re-elected by delivering billions to their constituents. (Corn: It’s the new pork.)

But about half of the nation’s agriculture cash receipts come from fruit, vegetables, nursery products and floriculture. If the House and Senate stop encouraging Midwestern farmers to grow corn products and create incentives to produce healthier crops, everyone wins.
While fruit and vegetable farmers don’t want direct subsidies, at least in California, they should be on equal footing with the corn growers. Today, they are not eligible for crop insurance that reduces risk for other types of farmers. Providing them with insurance roughly similar to what’s available for corn and wheat growers would not only help current producers of healthy foods but also would increase the incentive for others to switch to more healthful crops.
Everyone has an interest in aligning our agriculture spending with our food and nutrition goals, but nobody more than Californians. They should insist next year on a smarter Farm Bill.

Why we get sore after exercise

13 Dec

Why do we get sore after exercise? Can stretching or something prevent it?

Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the soreness that we get 24-48 hours following exercise. In the past, it was thought that lactic acid was responsible for DOMS.

However, it has been shown that lactic acid or lactate is not responsible for this and there is more research accumulating that suggests it is actually our own immune system, or more specifically, neutrophils, that are responsible for this.

Neutrophils are the first white blood cell that reacts to an antigen, that is, a virus, bacterium or chemical that stimulates an immune response. These cells are armed with the ability to create several chemicals that could kill viral or bacterial infections, and they do a very good job at it.

Following intense exercise, there is literally damage to the muscle fibers, such that it does not “appear” as normal, healthy muscle. It is not this initial mechanical damage that causes any sort of DOMS. However, these structural changes trigger the inflammatory process – a cascading series of events that results in healing of the muscle. The neutrophils eventually become activated, and they respond to the structural damage in the same way as they would a bacterial or viral infection, multiplying in number in our circulation by a million-fold in 3 – 6 hours post-injury.

Unfortunately, when we perform new movements, whether they are faster, slower, heavier, or longer than what we are used to, the neutrophils become over stimulated. Their stimulation is correlated with the novelty of the movement and its intensity.

As the neutrophils travel throughout our circulation, they find the site of injury and they begin to adhere and infiltrate the muscle cell. Here, they not only release their onslaught of chemicals into the damaged muscle cells for repair, but also the surrounding healthy muscle. In other words, these same chemicals that were supposed to help us during an infection actually cause further damage to the already-injured muscle. This is referred to as secondary injury. This entire process may take 24 – 48 hours. Slides of exercise-induced muscle injury 24-48 hours appear more injurious after the initial mechanical injury that occurred initially after injury. At the same time, the neutrophil’s chemical onslaught causes our nerves to become more sensitive to pain.

Stretching pre-, during or post-exercise will not prevent this process from happening. The best option that we have is taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, like ibuprofin, or naproxin BEFORE exercise, but I will not make any guarantees that it will always prevent any soreness.

Why don’t I get sore every time I exercise?
This refers to the “repeated bout effect” of exercise. Following one set of exercise involving muscle-lengthening contractions (such as lowering a bar to the chest during the bench press – the chest muscles are lengthening), a muscle will not be as sore during a second set of the same intensity.

Scientists have not determined the exact mechanism of why this happens. There are several theories out there. However, when referring to neutrophils, there is a significant decrease in circulating neutrophils and neutrophil infiltration into the muscle cell. For some reasons, neutrophils do not become as stimulated as before, so there is not any secondary muscle injury and improved muscle recovery.

This suggests that one of the best ways to get rid of muscle soreness is to continue to exercise the sore muscles in the same movement as the initial exercise pattern, but not at a higher intensity.

Therefore, continue exercising. Do not let the initial pain prevent you from continuing to pursue your fitness goals. In due time, you will be able to handle a series of random movements of various intensities continuously, transforming yourself into a well-rounded athlete.

The Art and Science of Training for Health

12 Dec

The Art and Science of Training for Health
(or: The Art and Science of Living a Healthy Life: how to eat, sleep, train and relax for health and longevity)
by Mike Nichols, M.D.

Training for speed, strength or size has been written about, often very well, for a over a hundred years.
No sound overview of training and eating specifically aimed at improving health exists.
There is a vast difference between training for ‘bigger, faster, stronger’ and training for health.
Most of the advice given for patients who want to be healthier is generic to the point of useless and in some cases is vague enough to be actually harmful.
Some very general principles need to be introduced and from these very specific recommendations will be given that make sense not only of the science of exercise and diet but the art of exercise as well.
When I say ‘the art of exercise’ I mean the actual esthetics. The body is so complex that it is literally beyond analytical description; this is a demonstrable mathematical fact. In such a case ideas of grace and beauty become the most direct way to describe in a synthetic understandable way important physical training concepts. There is an underlying demonstrable science that explains why physical activity well done ‘just looks right’ or is ‘so beautiful.’ Once I have laid out the connection in some physical detail between the analytical science and the actions that appear to be beautiful you will see that my appeals to beauty, grace, and elegance are very powerful shorthand for a great many important scientific facts that affect health and thus define the type and intensity of training.  As far as diet and exercise go, briefly put: grace is tightly linked to effect.
Which brings up a note about science. Anyone who has read books which treat science issues has noted how selectively studies are quoted or used to further the author’s agenda. Even when honestly trying to present data in an objective way the selective vision of bias, often called attention blindness, gets in the way.
In this case the application of every principle I will here describe has been associated with measurable improvement in markers as diverse as bone mineral density, testosterone, insulin sensitivity, and inflammation.
In other words I will not be citing and quoting specific studies from different disciplines and telling you that put together in this unique way the science supports better health outcomes. No, in the case of this book, the principles are the generalized interpretation of a vast array of studies put together to form a coherent training, eating and living pattern with known, that is measured and verified,  health benefits. Measured in over two hundred patients the bone mineral density, the testosterone, the exercise capacity, the inflammation, on and on, got better and meaningfully so. There is no other coherent pattern of life behavior that has been studied, put into practice and proven to improve every measure of health. Come let us reason together.
Chapter One
The Beginning
Eleven days before the World Trade Center towers were destroyed I left my medical practice of many years. In the turmoil of that time I sat in an office loaned to me by a friend and began the process of realizing my dream of many years: I would build a medical practice devoted solely to the treatment of disease by lifestyle intervention. Come what may, diabetes, coronary artery disease, cancer, osteoporosis, we would treat problems through calibrated , precise changes in patient’s diet, exercise, and relaxation behavior.
I was not a doctrinaire vegetarian, running guru, Hindu philosopher or charismatic supplement salesman. I believed then, I believe more strongly now, in the biological diversity of people enough to know that the path to health was unique for everyone. The only way to both respect that and to honor that in practice was to measure, to calibrate, to discover and define what was unique about each patient and to then, in a coherent, linear fashion, change behavior step-by-measured-step and to measure the result and to make course corrections as the data, the blood work, the bone density, the coronary calcium dictated.
Oddly enough this methodology goes by the strange name of ‘science.’ Bizarrely enough I proposed to see each patient as a precious experimental subject and that only they could be an adequate control for the experiment of their return to health. Who ever heard of using science to practice medicine?
Now I’ve gotten a little ahead of myself; those last sentences actually mean something and that something needs to be well understood.
The medical and scientific literature is full, is rich, is awash in the importance of various measurable blood and other physical markers and their association with disease, longevity, with vigor, with suffering, with, after all, the human condition. Yet, these markers are not part of the practice of medicine. Their use is limited to large-scale epidemiologic assessments. A simple example: there is no question that knowing your coronary calcium score- we will get to this later- tells you much more about your annual risk for a heart attack than knowing your total cholesterol. However the test is more expensive than cholesterol testing so, in the jargon of medical research, the cost per life saved is prohibitive so measuring it is not routinely recommended. Still…if the life saved were your own or your son or daughter…it would be a bargain. The recommendation against measuring coronary calcium is not cynical as it is based on the knowledge that even if most people knew they were at increased risk of heart attack because of their score that knowledge itself does not fix the problem. And that is fair. Insurance or government should not pay for everyone to be tested for all known risks because the cumulative cost would be overwhelming and a poor use of resources because…’insurance companies are evil’…’we do not have universal health care due to the social injustices spawned by capitalism’…’doctors don’t really care about their patients.’ No, none of the above; because most people won’t get better even if they know with certainty that they should. All of us have grown distrustful of all of the purported changes we should make: eat low fat, eat high fat, run, no lift weights, lose weight but fat people live longer, meditate, pray, whatever. Wave after wave of fashion, of diets, of advice changed the next day or week or decade. Skepticism combined with inertia, denial, and the rigors of life leave most people unresponsive to more precise information about their health because they won’t do anything about it anyway.
Yet some of you will or would if you knew precisely what to do and how to do it. There is a way to know these things. Your body would love to tell you; you only have to know it’s language. It speaks in mg/dl, in VO2 max, in foot speed. It speaks in a precise knowable language about exactly how to improve your life, health and well-being. It does not respond well to vagaries like “eat right and exercise” because we are all unique and require a very personal recipe or roadmap for each element of the behavior that will restore us, will heal us, will prolong and enrich our lives.
You will find in the conventional practice of medicine that no problem is realized, or admitted, unless and until there is a simple remedy. In that last sentence read ‘pill’ for ‘simple.’ I do not believe the conspiracy theorists that traditional medical practice is in thrall to, the conspiracy theorists term, “Big Pharma.” Rather I believe the conspiracy is actually a collusion of interests and reality; Doctors want to fix problems and drug companies wants to sell and profit from solutions. Sure there are bad men doing dastardly things and colluding to sell by the proverbial ‘hook or crook’ all of the drugs they can manufacture. But this does not drive the desire of patients, physicians and institutional medicine to have a simple, elegant disease/drug/cure model of behavior.
The perfect example: get pneumonia and take an antibiotic and get well; get well rather than die as did our Grandparents generation. Wow! How cool is that? The problem is not all problems are as simple as ‘death or a pill.’ While things are not that simple our thinking is; our thinking is hypnotized by the prospect of such a simple equation for everything, for every proposition, that looks like “death or a …fill in the blank.” “Pill” looks more interesting than change your diet, your work habits, your type and intensity of exercise, your tendency to rest, prayer, meditation and drinking binges.
The fly in the ointment, the error in logic, is that most forms of death and disease are not as simple as a single agent cause, like a bacteria, and an inadequate treatment like an antibiotic. To be entirely fair even in the case of pneumonia it is not as simple as that or there would not be such a  high percentage of those who recover from even the severe pneumococcal pneumonias (some of the killer kinds). Still the point remains that this paradigm of disease/drug/cure is a very compelling sell; to both the doctor, the patient, insurance companies and the government.
If you are one of those who already see the fallacy of ‘cut, burn and poison’- the pet name for mainline medicine of chiropractors and other alternative medicine advocates- then you are ready for the information I will present in this book. But full disclosure: I am the occasional advocate of that very model of ‘cut/burn/poison.’ Sometimes that is as good as it gets; but not always and not often if you look at the broad overview of most people, most of the time, with most health problems. Those people and their problems need a much better treatment; they need a better life!
Chapter Two
I previously mentioned that there was a large collection of measurable variables that when improved lead to a longer healthier life. Most people have not heard of these variables or have read about them only in glossy adds designed to encourage the purchase of supplements, vitamins, miracle foods, or weird electromagnetic devices. More magical thinking, more ‘death or a pill’ thinking tricked out in self referential gloating about not being hornswoggled by ‘Big Pharma.”
Basic medical science is genuinely interested in discovering the causes and cure of disease, suffering, aging and even death. Thousands of people, pure of intent, of keen intellect and purpose work long hours in labs, in offices, late in institutions to unlock the processes of disease and the mechanisms of possible cure. If you don’t believe this what I will say won’t make much sense; won’t motivate you to take seriously the work of these scientists, these benefactors of mankind.
Why do I take you back to whether or not you have a basic belief in scientists and the scientific method? Because as a practicing physician for many, many years I’ve grown accustomed to the fog of beliefs, doubts, skepticism and confusion most people work with in their perception of medical science and physician’s recommendations. I well understand the problem but need your essential conviction that real science well done can and does discover things that matter. This is not as silly as it first seems. If you believe, most doctors do for example, that your cholesterol number, whatever that might be is one of the most important things in the world and that behaving in such a way as to drive this number down is all that matters, trumps everything, is the be all and end all of heart disease, risk for stroke and the like then I cannot be of help. For reasons big and small, all of the basic medical literature has always been clear about this, cholesterol is just one number among many and those then are nested together to evaluate your relative risk of vascular disease. If this notion of multivariate relatedness is too much to swallow then what I will say will sound like little more than questioning conventional wisdom- the Holy Grail is Lower Cholesterol- when what I will be trying to do is put this one number in the context of many others that matter as much or more but for which there is no pill to fix or change them and that for this reason you will not have heard as much about these other numbers. The wonderful thing is you have an enormous amount of control over these other important variables; actually much more control than over your total cholesterol number.
With this background in mind I need to make a few other conceptual points before I get to the actual things you can fix and why.
Let me introduce you to three ideas:
First is the idea to be skeptical about what matters. For example: something might change a number related to disease but not affect or, in some cases, might adversely affect a more important endpoint like death; lowers blood pressure but happens to increase your chance of death or lowers your blood glucose/sugar but not the diseases or death associated with diabetes. Over the years many drugs have been withdrawn after discovering just such problems. An everyday example: most of the common anti-inflammatory and pain medicines like Advil have been around for decades and work very well for the endpoint of pain; the endpoint of death happens to be increased in those who take these medications for they are associated with an as much as 40% increased chance of heart attack in regular users. Be careful how you choose your desired endpoint. Another example: high homocysteine is associated with stroke, heart disease and premature mental decline, take an array of vitamin B’s and your homocysteine goes down but not the homocysteine related risk for stroke, heart disease and premature mental decline. Oh and there is a known risk of colorectal cancer and prostate cancer if you take the B vitamins.
Second is to note or watch for abuse or misuse of statistics: you will often hear that use of Lipitor and related drugs ‘reduces heart disease by 30%.’ What this actually means is that 1,000 people need to take the drug to prevent heart related problems in about 3 people. If 1,000 people do not take the drug and 11-12 of them have heart related problems and 1,000 people take the drug and only 8 or 9 people have heart related trouble then that ‘reduces heart disease by 30%. The perception and the facts don’t add up. A reasonable person thinks that “30% reduction” means if 10 people take the drug then it will save 3 people’s lives. What it actually means is that 1,000 people risk the side effects and as of yet unknown long term effects of a drug so that 3 people might not have a problem. Fine, let’s help those 3; eating peanuts three times per week has been shown to have about the same statistical impact as Lipitor yet no one, rightly, has claimed that ‘eating peanuts three times per week reduces heart disease by 30%.’
Third is ‘number needed to treat’: how many people have to take a drug or change a behavior to have a measurable benefit for one person. For example: on the order of one person has to take an antibiotic to be of benefit to one person; this is stretching the case but is true to the nearest rounded integer. For primary prevention, that is to help a population of otherwise seemingly healthy people, at least 200, that is two hundred, 200 or more people have to take Lipitor to be of benefit to one, I said 1, person. The others just get the cost and side effects like memory loss. As you will have noted NNT and misuse of statistics are related and reveal each other. By comparison 7 people need to raise their exercise capacity by 1 MET, I will get to this, a very reasonable thing to do, to help 1 person avoid the same end point, heart attack and so on, as the 200-300 who take Lipitor to help 1 person.
Now with these ideas in mind you can both police my claims and be a better consumer of pharmaceutical and other medical advice. Let me summarize those three points.
NNT: number needed to treat
Abuse/misuse of statistics
Meaningful ‘clinical endpoints’: ‘am I dead or not’ and not ‘some number went down’ that may or may not matter when treated.

Chapter Three
The Body Always Makes Sense
Traditionally it is thought that there are two kinds of reasoning: deductive and inductive; from facts up to principles or from principles down to facts. This is a flawed dichotomy but will be a starting point to highlight that we will be ‘mixing’ these kinds of thought patterns to tell a coherent story about the human body.
The fundamentals of human anatomy, human physiology, of the structure and function of the human nervous system have been stable, broadly genetically stable for over 10,000 years. We were designed, do not get lost in any silly dialectic about evolution vs. designed as I am using the term the way BOTH an evolutionary biologist AND creationist would use it to characterize form and function, we were designed to run, jump, throw, fight, kill, sleep for long winter nights, to rest and contemplate our fate in the quiet of dark caves of refuge, to procreate and nourish, to love, be loved, to hope, plan, wonder and long; long for Spring, the full moon, the return of our children, our parents, the wonderful berries that grow in Fall, to remember the thrill of beauty beheld. To experience gratitude, passion, pleasure, victory and strength.
Sitting in an office by the hum of florescent lights, after a meal of synthetic ‘mystery meat’ and nutrient empty ‘pasta salad’ we forget these things. We forget what a wonderful ‘machine’ we were given at birth. We forget that we are basically hard and strong and violent and mystical and euphoric beings by breeding, by genetics, by design, by at the end of the day true then as now, we are these things by dint of will.
The reason I want you to remember, remember in your limbs, in your genetic memory, that we are animals and King of Animals is that this memory is the source to power the Will to return to health. Diabetes, obesity, hypertension, coronary artery disease are all degenerative diseases of the modern world. They are the ‘degenerate’ results of a degenerate lifestyle. I am not making a moral argument, though I think one could be made, rather I am conjuring the idea of degeneracy to cast a light on the path back to health. Degenerate is the unwinding from a ‘generate’ place; wind it back, walk it back, return it to its source: get healthy again.
And here is where the body makes wonderful fantastic grateful sense: almost every single chemical reaction, every hormonal effect, is reversible. Not as some Indian Metaphysician would entrance you with tales of the transcendent, immaterial nature of pure or divine thought but actually, really the way a modern Western scientist understands the thermodynamics of chemical reactions, and covalent and chemical bonding. The body and its healing begins to make sense because it is all- almost all- really, really reversible. Got osteoporosis? Don’t take a drug that might give you esophageal cancer (Fosamax), fix it, fix it, make your bones stronger the way the body was designed to make bone when you were a baby; the mechanism is still there and, amazingly, still ready to do its job. If, I said if, if you Will it to do so.
The fine grain of how the body makes sense is almost beyond imaging. To see the logic, the kind of sense the body makes, take almost any function, look at the details, and you will see an exquisite, self-regulating, well balanced, self-renewing system that can make or unmake, remake or destroy any function; but always with an analyzable intelligible end in view: purpose if you will. The body can make, or stop making testosterone, bone, new muscles, new ligaments, new brain cells; you name it. Medical science once ‘believed’, notice the scare quotes, once believed that you didn’t get new heart muscle, or brain cells; turns out you can and do. ‘Believe’ is the operative word. Once you look deeper into the mechanisms of cell renewal it begins to make sense and with enough attention engenders more ‘belief’ in the body’s universal ability to regenerate itself than its inability to do so. The former apparent truth that the body goes only downhill and not uphill, that the body only wears out and doesn’t renew itself, is based in statistical observations across populations; people tend to get biologically older and ‘fall apart.’ Yes but take the individual, push/pull/train/feed him well and correctly and you begin to see the body renew itself and you see also that aging was just the body ‘making sense’ of the sedentary, poorly fed, artificially lit, sleep deprived life of the body before demanding that it renew itself. You see the body hates waste, it hates excess manufacturing capacity: you don’t need that testosterone or dense bones, or much of your balance and coordination to sit at a desk and go for a jog once in awhile so the body takes away the unneeded excess energy, strength, libido, passion, memory; for that matter it takes away your smile. After all a sense of humor is not necessary to dominate in business, in writing technical books, or to design an airplane late into the night.
Training Principles
First Principle: The Body Always Makes Sense
Second Principle: The Body Wants To Heal
Third Principle: Mitochondria, Mitochondria, Mitochondria
Fourth Principle: The Structure of Health Comes From Rhythms, Cycles, and Seasons
Fifth Principle: Eat and Sleep to Train and Train to Eat and Sleep
Sixth Principle: Relaxation is More Important Than Exercise
Seventh Principle: Systemic Ballistic Exercise
Eighth Principle: Emphasize Concentric and Deemphasize Eccentric Exercise
Ninth Principle: Big Stuff Early, Small Stuff Later
Diet Principles
First Principle: The co-evolution of the Human body and available foods have created an unbreakable interdependence
Second Principle: Eat Whole, Real Micro-Nutrient Dense Food
Third Principle; seems odd but: Avoid Conspiracy and Apocalyptic Accounts for Poor Foods
Fourth Principle: Eat for What You Are Going to Do, Not For What You Did
Fifth Principle: Do Not Graze
Sixth Principle: Let Your Blood Tests Calibrate You Discipline
Seventh Principle: Different Foods For Different Bodies
Relaxation Principles

All Tuna is not created equal

12 Dec


Rob Wolf has raved about this tuna from Portugal packed in virgin olive oil.  Now that I have tried it, I agree.


This tuna is a solid piece packed in olive oil. It is rich and mellow in flavor; would be great in a salade nicoise, and it’s wonderful straight out of the can. Ingredients listed are tuna, olive oil, and salt. The label indicates 1.5 servings per can at 160 calories, 11g fat, 370mg sodium, 14g protein and 0 carbs, fiber, and sugar per serving. It’s a simple matter to drain the oil away since it’s a solid piece of tuna. It’s a product of Portugal, distributed by Italy. This is the best mail-order price I’ve found anywhere; you can easily pay double for it from other purveyors. Very highly recommended.

What is even better is this tuna is caught by  Pole-and-line in small batches.







Find of the Week

12 Dec

Kalona Supernatural – one word . . .Yummm.  This company produces non-homogenized, VAT pasturized dairy products.  The cows are pasture raised on small family farms.  Wish it were local but c’est la vie.  The cottage cheese is delish and I’m guessing the yogurt would be to.  Look for it at your local Whole Foods.  For more info, check out their website which explains their rationale for the process they use.

Local Yogurt

11 Dec

St. Benoit Yogurt

If yogurt is a part of your families diet, the milk should start raw, then be LOW HEAT pastuerized (raw milk yogurt is illegal in CA), and contain no added sugar.  Since yogurt contains sugar naturally (lactose), you may want to get the plain flavor and add your own berries and nuts.  Yogurt is also a great place to “hide” healthy macro greens and reds for your kids.

This Sonoma, CA company, St. Benoit yogurt does a great job.








Organic cream-top French-style artisan yogurt

Our Yogurt is made solely from Jersey cow’s whole milk and is cultured with L.bulgaricus and S.thermophilus, the yogurt making bacteria. We use wholesome pasture-fed organic cow’s milk from John Mattos’ family farm in Two Rock (near Petaluma) in Sonoma county. Our Yogurt culture comes from France where it has been used for decades to produce sweet, mild and smooth yogurts. Unlike most producers, we add no thickeners, stabilizers or preservatives. Just milk and culture, that’s it!

We use local jams for our fruit-at-the-bottom flavors. They come from farms in Sonoma county that grow the fruit organically and make the jam by hand.

Yogurt is probably most popular in Europe, Eastern Europe, The Middle East and Western Asia. Yogurt came to the United states via immigrants and its popularity is relatively recent.

Health Benefits

Yogurt is an excellent source of protein, calcium, riboflavin and vitamin B12. It contains more calcium and protein than milk because of the added culture. Typically a cup of yogurt has 450 mg of calcium, compared to 300 in a cup of milk. This is 30 percent to 50 percent of most people’s daily needs. Because live yogurt cultures break down the lactose, yogurt is a healthy way to get calcium for people who do not tolerate milk products.

Yogurt also benefits the digestive tract. Live yogurt cultures encourage the right kind of bacteria to multiply. These bacteria help digest food and prevent a variety of infections. Recently it has been used for replenishing bacterial flora in the digestive tract after extensive antibiotic therapies that can deplete the body of both good and bad bacteria. There is no raw yogurt allowed under California law, and all milk must be heated on the way to becoming yogurt in order to make the healthy bacteria grow. However, we begin with fresh raw milk and then low heat pasteurize it on the way to becoming yogurt, rather than high heat pasteurizing and then reheating the milk to make the yogurt. We do not homogenize. Our yogurt is safe for small children and pregnant women.

The smooth and creamy texture in our yogurt is obtained form just two ingredients: milk and culture. Our milk is cultured after pasterurization, meaning that the yogurt you are eating is full of live, active cultures, ready to provide you with continual health benefits.

“I wanted to make a product I could feel good about giving my children.”
– Benoît