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Well-Researched: Exercise and Mental Health

6 Jul

Reported in today’s edition of the New York Times: “People who are physically active appear to be at lower risk for cognitive impairment late in life, and for women, a new study suggests, physical activity during the teenage years may provide the greatest benefit.” The study sample was comprised of women, so take the results with a grain of salt if you are one of the other 49% of the population (males). “Researchers concluded that physical activity during the teenage years was associated with a 35 percent lower risk for cognitive impairment later in life.”

Supporting Research on Aging and Maintaining Mental, Physical Health

  • Physical Activity Over the Life Course and Its Association with Cognitive Performance and Impairment in Old Age
    • Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
  • Prevention of Dementia: Focus on Lifestyle 
    • International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 
  •  Debunking the Myths Surrounding Exercise and Older Individuals
    • 2010 New Directions in American Health Care Conference

Later this week I will be dedicating a post on the importance of mental health, which also captures the realm of cognitive impairment. 

Check back later today/tonight – I’ll have more time to summarize the findings from  the following recently posted research areas and if/how they apply to your life! Additionally I’m throwing the results of these two research reports in just for fun :)

  • Coffee Drinking and Cardiovascular Health:  Mostly Good News
    • Journal of the American Association of Integrative Medicine
  • Health Choices and Heightened Awareness: The Art of the Nudge!!
    • Holistic Nursing Practice

"F as in Fat"

2 Jul
A real entry to come a little later today… something BIG to share in the interim (sigh):

F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2010


RE: That Milk Mustache!

1 Jul
Wow! Thanks for the great responses via Facebook to the post on milk I wrote a couple of days ago! Maybe the guy on the left can handle milk, but then he’s good in any situation with the exception of green rocks in his vicinity.  In seriousness, this demonstrates the far-reaching campaigns of the Dairy Council. Think of the countless number of celebrities and athletes who have endorsed the milk mustache. It’s been a successful campaign for milk money-makers, but I wonder how many of the ‘stache wearers cannot stomach milk in their everyday lives.
Again – thanks for all the comments posted to FB! {{I know it will take a little time to be comfortable using comments directly on this site, but things will get there in time!}}

First, the lovin’! (blushes!)
Then the questions! 
“Where are the stats from?” was a query I received. 
 Legit sources are muy importante when researching! Here are a few I found information from for this post:
Additionally there was a question about the mention of cancer in the post… not intended to trigger alarms! The last line of the passage below about “more research needed” is an important point to take away!  
Here is a re-post what I found on Harvard’s School of Public Health site on the milk-cancer linkage. You can find the sources they cited by clicking on the numbers in parentheses.
“Possible Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer

High levels of galactose, a sugar released by the digestion of lactose in milk, have been studied as possibly damaging to the ovaries and leading to ovarian cancer. Although such associations have not been reported in all studies, there may be potential harm in consuming high amounts of lactose. A recent pooled analysis of 12 prospective cohort studies, which included more than 500,000 women, found that women with high intakes of lactose—equivalent to that found in 3 cups of milk per day—had a modestly higher risk of ovarian cancer, compared to women with the lowest lactose intakes. (15) The study did not find any association between overall milk or dairy product intake and ovarian cancer. Some researchers have hypothesized, however, that modern industrial milk production practices have changed milk’s hormone composition in ways that could increase the risk of ovarian and other hormone-related cancers. (16) More research is needed.

Probable Increased Risk of Prostate Cancer
A diet high in calcium has been implicated as a probable risk factor for prostate cancer. (17) In a Harvard study of male health professionals, men who drank two or more glasses of milk a day were almost twice as likely to develop advanced prostate cancer as those who didn’t drink milk at all. (18) The association appears to be with calcium itself, rather than with dairy products in general: A more recent analysis of the Harvard study participants found that men with the highest calcium intake—at least 2,000 milligrams a day—had nearly double the risk of developing fatal prostate cancer as those who had the lowest intake (less than 500 milligrams per day). (19) Clearly, although more research is needed, we cannot be confident that high milk or calcium intake is safe.”

If you’re looking for an alternative to milk, try almond milk – it’s smooth and creamy! My favorite brands are Silk, Almond Breeze and Pacific. Stick with the unsweetened varieties or you’re adding sugar that negates the otherwise healthy source. The calorie range is 40-60 calories per cup (8 oz). The fat is negotiable since it comes from a good food source. 
I’ve also learned some people have an easier time digesting unpasteurized milk, but I would say go at your own risk with raw milk sources. 
P.S. Because the Silk variety is newer than the other two you should be able to score some coupons in-store or online. Prices for all varieties are pretty comparable to the same volume of milk here in California.

Welcome to continue these discussions on food and your well-being!

Happy July – any fun plans for the 4th? Any fit plans?? The boy and I are trying to enjoy all the celebrations and stick to our routines and dietary guidelines over the long weekend (P90X). Wish us luck!

Well-researched: Your Body and Yoga

30 Jun

A new feature for the site arrives today! “Latest research show” is a common buzz phrase in the news… but how often is it something you can apply to or practically incorporate into your life?

I’m interested in the benefits of exercise, holistic health, complementary/alternative medicine and general wellness. There is a lot of not-so-great research that gets picked up and misinterpreted by media outlets. I want to combat this by interpreting findings fairly and in a meaningful manner. Length of these posts may vary, as sometimes there’s an abundance of fun things to share and review!

Other note… please leave a comment if you encounter something of interest you want covered or if you would like the actual article for an entry.

Click here to continue on to Well-Researched … Hatha Yoga and Energy Expenditures

Milk Mustache: Yes or No?

29 Jun

I must admit this little guy is cute.

Last week Two weeks ago (embarrassingly behind on my blog to-do posts) I posted some links about milk. I’m going to delve into my experiences with milk in the last couple of years, give you a little research to mull over and leave you to make your own conclusions. Or perhaps engage in your own experiment with the foods or liquids you consume.

For the last five years I’ve moved every 12-18 months due to school, work, etc. It took some time initially to adjust to the new environments and I’d have colds or allergy-like symptoms – nothing too serious. I noticed the same pattern when I moved to D.C. in 2008.  However, this time I felt more tired and the cold-like symptoms only worsened over time.

So… what’s a girl to do? I wanted to try to solve it myself before consulting a medical provider. I had a friend who had a holistic health provider help her identify foods she was allergic to and decided to proceed in a less formal manner. I did a little research on common allergens and compared the list to things I was eating. After knocking out meat for a couple of weeks, followed by nuts the symptoms did not diminish. I finally had to face the one I didn’t want to give up, dairy.

As a girl who grew up in the country, I had always been led to believe milk was essential for my health and development. It seemed contrary to defy this notion. I loved my morning cup of coffee with skim milk, string cheese and yogurt at lunch, a good tzatziki or charcuterie plate out… sampling cheese from the local grocer.

You get the picture. Dairy and I had encounters upwards of 4-5 times each day.

Back to the story… I found that for me dairy was the culprit. I’ve since eliminated milk from my diet and feel MUCH better. A little cheese occasionally, such as Parmesan, feta (both are strong cheeses and require a minimal amount for flavor) or goat versions of what I formerly loved. Milk is now solely almond milk and yogurt is infrequent and/or of the plain Greek variety. It’s been almost a year now since I stopped drinking milk, aside from the occasional cup of milk to aide me with the coffee that I can’t drink black. To be certain it was an aversion to dairy products I decided to “re-test” my dairy “wheys” (hee hee) a few weeks ago, for seven days. The exact same reactions and symptoms came back. Symptoms included slightly swollen eyes and an accumulation of mucus. Yuck.

There are many people out there who have had similar experiences. Here are just a few facts that make a compelling argument to not drink milk:

  • If you are of European descent you have a 9 in 10 chance of being lactose intolerant. 
  • Somewhat less than 40% of people in the world retain the ability to digest lactose after childhood. Other nationalities and ethnic groups that experience problems digesting milk: 5% of Asians, 25% of African and Caribbean peoples, and 50% of Mediterranean peoples.
  • No other species on earth continues to drink milk beyond its infancy. Calves stop drinking cow’s milk between the ages of six to eight months. Humans lose the ability to digest lactase, the sugar in milk, between the ages of two and five.
  • An overwhelming number of studies and research on milk are funded by the Dairy Council if you read the fine print (biased results?). The Dairy Council has an excellent marketing campaign to protect its interests ($$), not your health. 
  • Harvard School of Public Health, on the Consumption of Dairy Products (2005): “The recommendation to drink three glasses of low-fat milk or eat three servings of other dairy products per day to prevent osteoporosis is another step in the wrong direction. … Three glasses of low-fat milk add more than 300 calories a day. This is a real issue for the millions of Americans who are trying to control their weight. What’s more, millions of Americans are lactose intolerant, and even small amounts of milk or dairy products give them stomachaches, gas, or other problems. This recommendation ignores the lack of evidence for a link between consumption of dairy products and prevention of osteoporosis. It also ignores the possible increases in risk of ovarian cancer and prostate cancer associated with dairy products.”

Now… the Dairy Council would gasp and ask the question “where will you get your calcium?”. I will respond with seeds, nuts, vegetables and fruits. The recommended level of calcium for adults age 19 through 50 years is 1000 mg per day. That can easily be achieved through alternative dietary sources (see chart below), especially foods that have magnesium in them, which is an important counterpart to calcium in doing its “thang” on the cellular level. Sunshine’s Vitamin D – which isn’t a vitamin, but actually a hormone – additionally helps unlock calcium for use in the body.

If I ever find myself concerned with my calcium intake … which I’m not given my diet and lack of drinking calcium-leeching substances (i.e. soda) … I have no problem taking a calcium supplement. Calcium has other critical functions aside from maintaining a healthy skeletal system and should not be neglected. As a woman the issue of bone density is important over the span of a lifetime. Bonus: Exercise, specifically weight-bearing exercise, is a big help in maintaining your bone density!

And stemming from my readings on eating raw foods/whole foods I’ve been becoming more and more thankful to have parted ways with milk. It’s a food that RFDD recommends cutting out, especially the mass-produced varieties (Natalia Rose devotes 4-5 pages to explaining her views of dairy… leave me a note if you want the full explanation). Essentially the undigested parts of pastuerized milk stay in the body over time because you cannot fully break down the protein molecules in milk. The undigested proteins stick around and can create a “toxic” situation.

I’m happy to continue discussions via email or comments below. Do you have any food allergies? In particular… dairy? Have you cut anything out of your diet and felt better as a result? Let me know what’s on your mind – looking for some interesting discussion.

Rah, Rah, Ah, Ah, Ah… Raw-mance

28 Jun

I went Gaga… too late to go back now. “Raw, Raw, Ah-Ah-Ah”!

The snarky saying “you are what you eat” resonates in my mind when making food choices. It’s simple and it makes sense. Your body will give you it’s optimal best if you give it optimal fuel. After reading Natalia Rose’s Raw Food Detox Diet (RFDD) this thought and those associated with it are ever more present in my mind.

Disclaimer – I have not fully practiced her raw food diet. I will be doing so in September and documenting the journey.  I know it will challenge me in ways I cannot imagine at this time and I’m thrilled to have great resources, like RFDD, as guidance on this upcoming journey.

I’ve viewed numerous before-and-after photos and read stories of those who committed to raw and most people experience changes anyone would be thrilled to have as results. Clearer skin? More energy? Cravings for fruits and veggies instead of sweets and junk food? Check “yes” for all for me!! I wrote an overview and review of the plan.

Curious to know more about taking a journey to the raw side….?

P90/P90X Nutrition Review: Phase I

24 Jun

It’s X-treme… I’ve only watched 2 days of Tony Horton and his “ism’s” are already lodged into the recesses of my brain. I said I would do a little review on the diet and since I’m kind of on vacation/kind of working/kind of doing wedding stuff I’m going to keep it “lite” unless I receive any other comments or questions asking expand on the post. Email me if you don’t want to leave a comment (erin.haslag AT

There are two versions of P90. Take the “X” and go all out… or in my case, when I return to SoCal, simply drop the “X” and integrate more cardio. Cardio is my preferred method of exercise, but as I’m edging closer to the third decade of my life I’m feeling compelled to add more weights, agility and vary my exercises to keep my metabolism where it is (by having increased muscle mass). Listen up ladies, because muscle mass is the key to keeping your killer (or desired) figure.

Enough about the workouts – they’re tough from what I’ve watched. I’ll write more on that when I start the DVD series back at home. One thing I did start this week is the recommended nutrition plan that comes with P90X. This is an overview and review of the first phase ONLY. There are three phases total.

To make life easier, I put the meal plan into an online spreadsheet, so we can share it and not have to rely on flipping through the book for recipes. Simplify your life by taking a few steps of prep if you decide to do an overhaul on your diet.

Here’s a quick view (double-click for a larger view):

To see the recipes behind them, go to the link, and hover over the little triangles in the upper right corner:


  • Lots of fresh fruits and veggies are encouraged
  • Snacks are encouraged between meals
  • Portion control (*note – aside from the sauces and dressings these recipes are 1 serving size)
  • No snacking after dinner
  • Cooking at home will be required (prep in advance when you can)
  • Lots of healthy fats are incorporated; fat-laden recipes are tweaked


  • This will be tough for someone who (1) doesn’t cook and (2) doesn’t eat very well to start with – you are, as Tony says, “cutting out the crap”. Not that I think that’s a bad thing… just saying it will take a considerable measure of willpower. 
  • Can be expensive – you’re buying lots of protein and giving your refrigerator a makeover.
  • A little high in the sodium & salt content – be mindful of how much you are using. Turkey bacon is recommended but I prefer to buy butcher-shop, preservative-free bacon for Ryan (I hate bacon… sorry all).
  • Not sure I would want to ingest all of the recommended protein. I like carbs to fuel me through cardio. I am leery of ingesting extracted things – I like to get goodness from whole food sources
  •  It can be vegetarian friendly, but it takes extra work to substitute the recommended protein sources

Bottom line: the meal plan is a solid base for healthy nutrition with a few tweaks. I wouldn’t follow it vis-a-vis. Make it work for you and your lifestyle – incorporate lots of fresh fruits, veggies and a solid blend of carbs and protein. These are your building blocks for muscle energy and repair. Fat has a little place in all of this, too, so don’t completely skimp out on it. And… do NOT skip breakfast! It’s essential for a healthy weight.

For us on modification meant finding something close to the recommended lunch meals – we don’t have the time to prep all of the food between crazy work and travel schedules. It provides the additional lesson of the importance of being conscientious when dining away from home.

That’s what I’ve got for now… check it out – email or comment with questions!

I’m off to run to a bike shop and check out some new cycling shoes 🙂 I’ve busted my Crank Brother/Shimano platform and cleat set one too many times…