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Listen up wrestlers, boxers, body builders, brides to be and anybody else who makes a habit of losing significant weight quickly–rapid weight loss can lead to mental confusionAw big deal, right?  Yes, it is–it could mean the difference between a win or loss, increase your risk of injury , or even be a matter of life and death!

Researchers at Cal State Fullerton recently looked at 16 collegiate wrestlers to determine if losing weight rapidly before a match had negative strength implications.  But what they found might have surprised them: although they found no changes in strength, the wrestlers that lost 4% or more of their body mass had significantly higher levels of confusion on the day of the competition.  No increased confusion was observed in those who lost less than 4% body mass.  No wrestler lost more than 8% of their body mass (avg. wt. loss = 6 lbs).  The study is published in the April issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

So you might be wondering why anybody needs to lose weight quickly.  Fighters must ‘weigh-in’ before each bout, so it is common to lose weight right before the match or weigh-in, to come in lighter than their actual weight.  This has the advantage of fighting a smaller opponent if you can get your weight below a certain level.  In fact, most of the wrestlers in the study lost nearly all their weight in the two days before the match.  (They were allowed to choose the desired amount of weight to lose before the match, using methods such as exercise, calorie restriction and fluid deprivation).

The drawbacks were not benign.  According to researchers, “a sport which requires split-second decision making, a higher state of confusion and tension can detrimentally affect the wrestler’s performance.”  No kidding.

Lots of people want to lose weight overnight.  Shows like The Biggest Loser only perpetuate that desire, as they demonstrate how effective rapid weight loss under controlled conditions can be.  But for the most part, rapid weight loss can be dangerous.  Most people that lose weight rapidly gain it back quickly, and the physiological changes that go along with this type of weight loss can have deleterious effects on the body–cardiovascular, neurological and mental.

I never understand when clients tell me they expect their latest weight loss plan (diet or exercise program) to net them 100 lbs. in a year or less.

What?!?! 

Yes, a year or less.

You are crazy–first it probably won’t happen and second, you don’t want it to.  A pound a week is healthy; 50 lbs in a year.  But they are convinced.

I’m not suggesting that this study has anything to do with the type of weight loss I just describe, but it does have a correlation.  Simple–any super-rapid weight loss is going to have physiological effects.  Now extrapolate that to “if it has short-term effects in athletes, what does it do over the long-term in the obese?”  I think that’s a question worth asking.

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When it comes to healthy lifestyle behaviors, regular bodywork is right up there with good diet and exercise.  And in the realm of bodywork, nothing beats chiropractic for keeping people healthy and full functioning throughout their lifetime.

According to a 2000 wellness study,

Chiropractic patients ages 65 and older who were under chiropractic care for five or more years experienced 50 percent fewer medical provider visits than their comparable peers and spent only 31 percent of the national average for health care services.  The health habits of patients receiving maintenance care were better overall than the general population, including decreased use of cigarettes and decreased use of prescription drugs.

I hope Obamacare bureaucrats are paying attention.

Too many kids are having to be treated for chronic constipation.  Gastroenterologists at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center report a 30% rise in these cases from 2008-2009, leading the center to open a new clinic to provide medical and behavioral therapy for children with the condition.

Constipation in children can be from poor diet and lack of activity, but the most likely cause, particularly as it relates to the current increases, is drinking too little water.  As I have pointed out previously in this blog, proper water intake is important for a multitude of metabolic processes, one being digestion and elimination.  Remember, the human body is highly intelligent; provide it with insufficient material and it will shunt what it needs, taking from one area to give to another.  Take in too little water and watch your body steal from your colon to give to other, more vital, regions.

Why are children not drinking enough water?  Gotta ask the parents.  But one thing I know for sure, being one of the most soda-consuming nations, the U.S. has plenty of children who get their fluids from liquid sugar.  Oh well.  Gotta wise up, folks; there’s always a price to pay.  Drink soda, your kid will drink soda.  Your kid drinks soda, he or she will probably bypass drinking water.  Bypass drinking water, say hello to constipation.  Cause, effect.  Your choice.

Signs of constipation in children is very often missed by parents, and it can lead to a severe or chronic case.  Things to look for are abdominal bloating and a feeling of fullness; straining with bowel movements; lumpy or hard stools and/or small pellet-like stools, accompanied by a feeling of incomplete emptying of the bowels.  Children with serious constipation may also refuse to go to the toilet for fear it will hurt; they may hide to go in a private place, or experience underwear soiling and bedwetting.  Knowing these signs can help you figure out if your child is suffering.

Finally, make sure your kid is drinking plenty of water.  Dump the soda (for yourself, too) and make water your drink of choice.  Or deal with chronic constipation if that’s what you’d prefer.

OK, OK…now that genetics is out as a cultural crutch for obesity, here goes something to quickly take its place.  Get this: Childhood obesity might be linked to the common cold virus.  Yes, yes, the common cold.  Not lifestyle behaviors, but a virus.  How’s that for quick thinking?

A recent study to be published in the September 20 issue of Pediatrics showed that some children infected by adenovirus 36 (AD36), which causes the common cold and slight gastrointestinal upset, were an average of 50 pounds heavier than children who hadn’t been infected by this particular strain.  The study, small and rife with coincidences, is the latest in “take-the-blame-off-the-patient” obesity hypotheses.

The study looked at 124 children between the ages of 8-18, with more than 50% (67 total) considered obese based on body-mass measurements for their age and gender, and found that nearly one in four obese children had been infected with AD36, compared to only 7% of non-obese children.  In total, the numbers are 15 and 4 respectively–this makes a study?  Further, within the entire group of obese children, those who were AD36-positive weighed about 35 pounds more than obese children who hadn’t been infected with AD36.

I repeat, this makes a study?  Now granted, the authors do not claim to have proof, but I laugh at the absurdity of the notion from the start.  Why not study the link between biting one’s fingernails and developing hemorrhoids?  Seriously.

OK, I get the rationale, but come on!  Whether or not a child has been infected with adenovirus does not remove the necessity to watch the diet and to be active, plain and simple.

But we musn’t blame people. Why the hell not?  Why perpetuate the ultimate problem: the lack of knowledge, understanding, discipline and responsibility?  Here’s why.  Hypotheses lead to further studies, connections lead to rationales, and rationales lead to drug and vaccine development–think anti-depressants.  New drugs for epidemics means a shipload of money.  The public gets a new wonder drug, doctors get more business, and government gets to look like it supports the public health by endorsing poppycock.

So the rest of us get a good five years of having to hear how people are fat because they’d at one time caught a cold; a particular cold; a fat cold.  And we get to pay even more for their health care, because it’s not their fault and everyone should be entitled to be an ignorant, irresponsible and undisciplined glutton.  We support you…literally.

Now before I get accused of being insensitive to obese people, remember, I’m the first to say be whatever you want to be.  I have nothing against obesity, ignorance, irresponsibility or a lack of discipline, because I know that everyone has these same characteristics somewhere in their lives.  In fact, I have said in this very blog and in my health articles that I am more an advocate for people loving who they are as they are, even if obese, as long as if they want to change, they take the responsibility to do so on their own.  No BS, no excuses, just take the leap and accept the glory and the blame.

But I do not support removing personal responsibility from one’s physical health and well-being; and I definitely do not support the use of so-called science to find further reason to move the blame away from the individual.  To answer one of the study’s authors, who thinks we should “move away from assigning blame, and broaden the way we think about obesity,” I say, it help much less to give people another crutch to simply rationalize reality: It takes hard work and a drastic change in lifestyle to lose weight and keep it off.  You’ve got to cut the sodas, work out, and keep the overeating in check.

Trying to pass off the notion that obesity is somehow caused by exposure to the common cold is irresponsible, and in my mind, an obvious attempt at creating the next blockbuster drug.  It’s a free market, yes–but will it change the world’s obesity profile?  Fat chance.

When it comes to preventing cancer, are nutritional supplements effective?  Some say yes, some say no.  There is, however, a superior way to prevent cancer nutritionally–by eating healthy foodsYou don’t say?  Yes, nothing beats whole natural foods when it comes to dietary health.

Recent studies have shown that neither vitamins C nor E did the trick in preventing cancer or heart disease when taken as supplements.  However, we know how important these vitamins are for proper function.  So what’s the deal?  Well, as I point out in my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health, there is no substitute for real food.  C’mon folks, we haven’t found the magic pill yet that can replace food in providing either energy or nutrients (necessary as co-factors in metabolic processes).

Saying that, though, I am not yet convinced that nutritional supplements are useless.  In the big Women’s Health Study and the Physicians’ Health Study II, which provided the most damning case against supplements, one must admit the doses for vitamin C, at least, were very low (500 mg).  I personally take 2000 mg per day.  I will contend that 500 mg, while not useless, is probably too low to show such dramatic effects as preventing cancer or heart disease.

Remove vitamin C from the diet, though, and watch your health deteriorate.  Hmm, so what then?  Vitamin C is necessary but only valuable when coming from real food?  I don’t think so.  We must remember that supplements are just that–supplementing the diet.  Like exercise alone not guaranteeing good health, when combined with diet, rest, chiropractic care, sufficient water intake, and so on, you better believe it will increase your chances of experiencing optimal health.

So preventing cancer, I am certain, requires more than just supplementing.  True, studying each individual vitamin and minerals’ individual effects on the body is valuable.  But I think before we throw the baby out with the bath water, we might need to design more rigorous studies to learn the whole truth.

I am a firm believer in the healing and preventative power whole natural foods.  But I know that we need vital nutrients.  It can’t be possible that supplementing with compounds containing the same molecules as natural foods is folly.  Unless there are synergistic reactions that occur with other, as of yet, undiscovered agents…well, it just doesn’t make sense.  We know certain things about antioxidants in general, and the vitamins that fill that role specifically, so I’m thinking better studies are needed.

But forget not the principle–without healthy, whole natural foods as a staple in your diet, you won’t be preventing cancer or general malnutrition by simply swallowing a pill.

Finally a genetic excuse for obesity that actually makes sense.  Researchers show that an omega fatty acid imbalance can lead to obesity.  But even more interesting is that this imbalance, and the associated obesity, can be passed on from generation to generation.

A recent French study looked at the role of omega intake and fat deposition in mice.  Four generations of mice were fed a 35% fat diet with an omega imbalance now common in much of the developed world–that is, a high ratio of omega-6 fatty acids relative to omega-3s.  The results were progressively fatter mice at birth, generation after generation.

In my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health, I discuss the importance of bringing the omega balance to 1:2 omega-6:omega-3.  Currently the typical imbalance in western cultures is 15:1 in much of Europe and up to 40:1 in the United States.  Omega-3s are important to many functions including cholesterol balance, blood pressure, reducing heart disease and stroke, preventing blood clots, preventing diabetes and much, much more.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found plentifully in fish and flax oils, although fish liver oils are a more potent source.  Omega-6s, on the other hand, are high in vegetable oils, breads, grains and poultry–things we eat copiously in the typical American diet.

But what about passing fatness on to successive generations?  Experts believe that the link between omega imbalance and obesity is epigenetic; in other words, the imbalance in mothers influences an offspring’s genes during development.  Whoa!  That’s right–the omega-6:omega-3 ratio in the breast milk of American women has gone from an average of 6:1 to 18:1.  Holy milkshakes!  Exactly.

I recommend a few things to bring the omega ratio back into healthy balance.  First and foremost is reducing your intake of high omega-6 containing foods.  So breads, high carbs, vegetable oil–cut ‘em.  Then I suggest you supplement with a good omega-3 fatty acid.  I carry a great brand in my Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood chiropractic office.  Check this article for all the information you need on omega-3 fatty acids.

Stop the cycle of obesity in your family–get your omega fatty acids balanced.  And don’t think it’s too late for your children, either.  Feed them well (healthily, not in hordes), get them moving, and give them omega-3 fatty acids–that should break the inheritance pattern.  Remember, health starts in the home.  Now how’s that for epigenetics!


Get this: Up to one third of breast cancer cases can be avoided through diet and fitness. You don’t say? Yes! Eating less and exercising more can reduce the incidence of breast cancer, said experts at the European breast cancer conference in Barcelona yesterday.

Although better treatments, early diagnosis and mammogram screenings have dramatically slowed breast cancer, researchers estimate that 25 to 30 percent of cases could be avoided if women were thinner and exercised more. The numbers come from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO). In fact, the WHO estimates that one third of ALL the world’s cancers are preventable.

Please digest this, people: Cancers are preventable. Hmm. One more time: Cancers are preventable. Geez…

Is this concept a part of our new world health order? Not yet, too avant garde. Let me point out the discrepancy between current medical thinking and the most up-to-date health research and information. This should make us all rest easy since we now have equal access to medical care. Our country’s lawmakers have found it in our best interest to give us more of the system that has brought us medical dependence. We’ll call our current system the “old way,” and the newer, not yet accepted by medical standards (and this includes the Congress and POTUS) approach, the “new way.” Here we go.

New way: “What can be achieved with screening has been achieved. We can’t do much more,” Carlo La Vecchia, head of epidemiology at the University of Milan, said in an interview. “It’s time to move on to other things.”

Old way: Any discussion of weight and breast cancer is considered sensitive because some may misconstrue that as the medical establishment blaming women for their disease.

New way: Dr. Michelle Holmes of Harvard University, who has studied cancer and lifestyle factors, said people might wrongly think their chances of getting cancer depend more on their genes than their lifestyle. “The genes have been there for thousands of years, but if cancer rates are changing in a lifetime, that doesn’t have much to do with genes,” she said.

Old way: Tara Beaumont, a clinical nurse specialist at Breast Cancer Care, a British charity, said her agency has always been careful about giving lifestyle advice. She noted that three of the major risk factors for breast cancer–gender, age and family history–are clearly beyond anyone’s control. “It is incredibly difficult to isolate specific factors. Therefore women should in no way feel that they are responsible for developing breast cancer,” says Beaumont.

New way: Karen Benn, spokeswoman for Europa Donna, a patient-focused breast cancer group, said it is impossible to ignore the increasingly stronger links between lifestyle and breast cancer. “If we know there are healthier choices, we can’t not recommend them just because people might misinterpret the advice and feel guilty,” she said. “If we are going to prevent breast cancer, then this message needs to get out, particularly to younger women.”

Frickin’ duh!

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. A woman’s chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime is one in eight. Obese women are 60% more likely to develop any cancer than normal-weight women. Many breast cancers are fueled by estrogen, a hormone produced in fat tissue, so experts suspect that the fatter a woman is, the more estrogen she’s likely to produce, which in turn could feed breast cancer. Even in slim women, exercise can help reduce the cancer risk by converting more fat into muscle.

Drinking less alcohol might also help lower the risk. Experts estimate that having more than a couple of drinks a day can boost the risk of breast cancer by 4-10%.

Further, searching for magic bullets is counter-productive. There is no one pill or therapy that will make you healthy and live forever. Please wake up. Women who jumped on hormone replacement therapy to bypass the down-side of menopause increased their risk of developing breast cancer. In the ’80s and ’90s breast cancer rose steadily as obesity and the use of estrogen-containing hormones after menopause increased.

A sharp drop in breast cancer rates occurred as women abandoned hormone-replacement therapy due to a discovered link between the treatments and breast cancer. Experts said a similar reduction might be seen if women ate healthier and exercised more.

New way: Dr. Michelle Holmes, the Harvard expert, said changing diet and nutrition is arguably easier than tackling other breast cancer risk factors.

Well no shiitake, Samurai! That’s the new way; yet, we’re still stuck in the old. But at least we’re ALL stuck in it together.


Some people are driven by their bodies, and others by their mind. Despite the age-old argument of whether the two entities are separate and distinct, we know one thing for sure–working out the body does wonders for mental health. Take that, Descartes!

A recent study out of Duke University showed that regular moderate exercise and healthy diet together can improve scores on cognition tests. The four-month study conducted by Duke’s nueropsychology department looked at 124 fifty-two year old men and women with high blood pressure (HBP) who were a minimum of 15 pounds overweight, on average. The study was originally designed to look at diet, exercise, and HBP; but the researchers decided to throw in cognitive function as an interesting side investigation.

One third of the participants followed the DASH–Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension–diet, which emphasizes low-fat dairy products, fruits and vegetables, in combination with regular exercise. One third, followed the DASH diet along with a weight-management program and aerobic exercise. The final third went about on their regular dietary and exercise regimens.

The exercise conducted was moderate–30 minutes three to four times a week, “enough to put the heart up to 75 to 80 percent of its maximum rate,” as one of the researchers said. The weight-management programs were split between two strategies–one centered on reducing portion size and cutting the snacking habit, while the other focused on appetite awareness training, which provided guidelines on food quantity (how much one ate) as well as food quality (types of food). The cognitive tests focused on executive function, learning and psychomotor speed.

Researchers found that the group that exercised regularly and ate well had an overall 30 percent improvement in mental function by the end of the four-month period. They also lost an average of 19 pounds and lowered systolic blood pressure (the higher of the 120/80 reading) by 16 points and diastolic pressure by 10 points. Shazam! All by diet and exercise.

As one of the researchers concluded, “There are neurochemical changes that happen with exercise. There is increased production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which stimulates connection with other brain cells, but also there is some evidence that it helps grow new brain cells.”

On top of that, as I point out in my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health, regular exercise increases circulation, oxygen and nutrient transport to the brain; it reduces depression and anxiety; and it leads to increased production of phenylethylamine (PEA), which is the body’s natural opiates…so it FEELS GOOD! Oh yeah, give it to me, baby!

There you have it: Another study showing the enormous benefits of diet and exercise. Now, before you say, “Big deal, tell me something I don’t know,” understand that these finding should shed some light on the notion of mass use of nootropic drugs, otherwise known as smart drugs. When 7% of all college students and 20% of polled scientists using them to enhance memory, problem solving, attention, and mental endurance, I think it’s time to start discussing alternatives.

No drugs are free of side effects, and the notion of the world’s scientists being tweaked out on designer speed is, well….scary (think Norman Osbourne). So that’s why I post these seemingly obvious studies. Yes, we all know that diet and exercise have wide-ranging benefits. But then why isn’t everybody doing them?

Time to get serious, people. Forty percent of all cancers are preventable. Listen up: 4.8 million cancer cases do not have to happen. Get it? You are in charge of your health. Health is NOT random. If you are living by that philosophy, you’re sunk.Is there a health care crisis? You bet. The crisis lies in the idea that you are not responsible for your own health, or your health care. Forty percent of all cancers are preventable. This from a report by the Geneva-based International Union Against Cancer (UICC). As UICC president David Hill says, “If there was an announcement that somebody had discovered a cure for 40 percent of the world’s cancers, there would quite justifiably be huge jubilation.” No kidding.

OK, so what can you do? First, let’s look at the top three cancers:

What can you do today that can help prevent these cancers tomorrow?

The first thing you want to do is observe your diet. Minimize processed foods, or better yet, get rid of them altogether. Whole and natural is best. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Take your vitamins. Drink lots of water (two liters per day, minimum).

Next, minimize or quit smoking. Minimize smoking? Exactly, most people that smoke can’t do so moderately, so kick it altogether. Try breathing clean air, too. How about an air purifier? Don’t minimize their usefulness. If you own a home in Los Angeles, contact me, I’ve got a guy that can set you up.

Minimize alcohol, recreational drug, and pharmaceutical drug consumption. These substances are toxins to the body. Stress the liver and kidneys and you’ll be increasing your cancer risk (among other illnesses) exponentially. Alcohol can cause many different forms of cancer–2-4% of all cancers to be exact–including esophageal, stomach, liver, breast, colon and others. And don’t underestimate the drugs your doctor gives you; they’re poisons, too.

Maintain a healthy weight. I’m not one to lay on the guilt trips, so simply put, if you are overweight, just lower it by something. My dad dropped from 225 to 190. He’s still about 25 pounds overweight, but that drop he made was significant to his health.

Exercise regularly. C’mon now, if you are not doing this you are missing out on so many health benefits that, well…you’ve got nobody to blame but…OK, no guilt trips. Just do it.

Get plenty of healthy sun, but don’t overdo it. Listen, we all need the vitamin D, and we now know more than ever how much so. But sun worshiping, tanning beds, Jersey Shore…puleeze! Be smart, protect yourself–safe sunning is the only way to go.

There you have it: You are in control of your health. Health is not random. There is a health care crisis, and it’s that far too many people neglect some very basic health enhancing behaviors. My book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health, has these and hundreds of other tips to prevent cancer and live a life of health and vitality. You can direct your health: you are responsible for the health you have and maintaining it. Nobody else.


Last post I discussed the difficulty some parents have with guiding positive change in their children’s behavior with regard to health. For instance, when facing the task of limiting television time, many parents of overweight and obese children lack confidence in laying down the law.

I believe that uncertain parents simply lack a strategy, so last post I outlined a practical strategy for limiting T.V. time for children. It’s fair, and it’ll work if parents can stick to their guns. But like I pointed out in the post, it might be harder to implement with teenagers, as poor habits get harder to break the older kids get.

As promised, I’m posting some tips on establishing healthy eating habits for families. This was another area parents of overweight and obese kids lacked confidence in implementing. Some basic rules apply* when it comes to eating well, and they are:

  • Eat primarily whole, natural foods–real food; not processed. Fruits, vegetables, real dairy (yes, butter), real meats, and low-glycemic carbs.
  • Eat primarily at home. Eating out, no matter how healthy it seems, is still inferior to cooking at home. Believe that.
  • Cut out soda–worst damn crap you can put into your body.
  • Minimize the desserts–I know this is hard with kids, but you’ve got to keep the portions small. Two cookies (small to medium size) three times per week, and something more involved (cake, ice cream, whatever) one time per week is plenty to excessive. If you can avoid developing the habit from the start, even better. My daughter Delilah gets a small cup of ice cream once a week–that’s it; she doesn’t know any different.
  • Keep portions moderate–it’s my opinion that massive portions are the greatest contributor to obesity. Most Americans don’t need half the food they are consuming. Bring it down, big boy.

That’s it. Simple. But, as I’ve said before, this will be much harder to implement with teenagers. Teens have enough independence to make their own food choices throughout the day. This one simple fact may make it impossible to completely change their bad eating habits–the same one we’ve all had at that time in our lives.

But it’s the little kids we can influence. They may still move toward unhealthy diets as teenagers, but I guarantee you by the time they go to college they’ll remember what you’ve taught them as children, and return to eating that way. Guaranteed.

So that’s a lot of responsibility you have parents. You can be soft and uncertain, or you can be firm and certain that you are teaching your children good habits which will last them a lifetime. Your decisions now, as well as your challenges, will shape their future. They’ll thank you for it one day. I’m certain of that.

*For a more comprehensive list of healthy eating tips, read my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health.

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