Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oh Please!

This article is just so full of it, particularly the headline which reads, “Having Lots of Kids Helps Dads Live to 100.” The article then goes on to say that farming also helps men live to 100, as does keeping off excess weight in youth. That part I can agree with. Farming can be a healthy activity. Farmers get lots of exercise, they are out in the fresh air a lot, and the potential is there for them to eat a healthy diet with food taken right from their farm. And of course it is healthy to keep off excess weight, in one’s youth or at any other time of one’s life. But I really doubt that having lots of kids helps men live to 100. Even the article itself says that “based on previous studies by other authors, and common sense, quite the opposite could be expected.” I tend to agree with the common sense part. My grandfather had four children and he died at the age of 77. Why? Because he smoked, ate an unhealthy diet which included lots of saturated fats, and at times he bordered on obesity. Also, maybe there was something in his genetic history that kept him from living longer, although many of his siblings lived into their 90s. Having four kids had nothing to do with it. Leading an unhealthy lifestyle had a lot to do with it.

Articles like these really make me mad. They are like articles in which you can prove almost anything if you choose the right statistics. In articles like these, some of the most outrageous conclusions can come up depending on what you are looking for. Much of that depends on coincidence. Surely you’re not going to tell me, “Go out, have four kids, and you’ll live to 100.” That’s ridiculous, and I think much of this study is ridiculous as well.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Eddie’s Vegetable Soup

1 carrot
1 onion
5 cloves garlic
1 can Beef Broth (15 oz.)
1 can tomato sauce (8 oz.)
8 oz can lima beans
8 oz can green beans
8 oz can green peas
8 oz chickpeas
8 oz dark red kidney beans
11 oz can white shoepeg corn
4 oz frozen spinach
Black pepper
Garlic powder

I can cook and eat this delicious soup within one hour, and it makes 4 or 5 servings, maybe more, so I have plenty to eat at lunch for most of the week.

Prepare one large carrot, chop it up and put in 3 qt. pot. I don’t particularly like crunchy carrot in my soup, so I put enough water with it (not much) so that I can boil it some while I’m cutting up the onion and garlic. Keep a close eye on the cooking carrot. Chop onion and garlic and add it to carrot, stirring often. I put some olive oil with this sometimes, but you could also just add a little more water so that you can cook it all until the onion is somewhat translucent. Then I add a 15 oz can of Swanson’s Beef Broth and an 8 oz can of Hunt’s tomato sauce (just the plain variety) with a little coarsely ground black pepper and some garlic powder on top, and increase heat under pot. While all that is heating, open and drain all your beans. Also, rinse the chickpeas and kidney beans, maybe to minimize gas? Then to the pot add an 8 oz can Del Monte lima beans, an 8 oz can cut Del Monte green beans (I cut some in half if they seem too long), an 8 oz can Lesueur very young small early peas, an 11 oz can Green Giant white shoepeg corn. Chickpeas and kidney beans usually come in 15 oz cans, so I add a half can of each to the soup and freeze the rest for next time. I use organic beans if they are available. Food Lion has started carrying a lot more organic beans lately. I add some frozen spinach to the pot. It thaws nicely as the soup heats. I bring all this to the point where it simmers, almost boiling, reduce heat, cover, and let it cook for little awhile before I eat it. I spoon a bunch of the soup into a bowl, sprinkle black pepper on top, and crumble up 3-5 Saltine crackers in it, then stir and eat. You could add a little elbow macaroni or maybe some orzo if you want, but the corn is your grain. Sometimes if I have something like blackeyed peas left over I might add it to the soup, but I try to be careful not to spoil the taste of this soup because I love it.

I think this soup is one of the healthiest things a person can eat. Look at all the vegetables, the variety of foods, etc. I think it might help you lose weight, too, but I’m not sure. I’ve lost a couple of pounds recently, and I’ve been eating a lot of vegetable soup for lunch. This is one reason, though, why I’m not a vegan. I do use beef broth occasionally. Other than that, and some occasional Locatelli cheese on pasta, I am a vegetarian.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

False Assumptions Can Kill?

It is interesting to me how some people are operating under false assumptions when it comes to their health. I don’t want to be judgemental or snobbish about this because I have done the same sort of thing myself. I used to eat potato chips, and I thought that since they didn’t have cholesterol, then they weren’t bad for me, or something like that. In other words, the potato chip bag had a label on the outside that said something like “Cholesterol Free,” and I thought that was a good thing. And of course it was a good thing, from my point of view, that they didn’t have cholesterol. But my sister pointed out to me the fact that they contain a lot of fat. So not only did they contain some saturated fat, which drives up a person’s cholesterol, but I am sure they contain more omega-6 fatty acids than I prefer to eat today.

When my elderly aunt had heart problems, her response was, “Well, I eat Cheerios every day.” And I said to her, if you’re expecting to control your cholesterol with Cheerios alone, that won’t do it. They will help, because of their soluble fiber, of course, but you can get a lot more soluble fiber just from using products like FiberSure, etc.

And this summer, in the middle all of our 104 degree days, my aunt had a fainting spell, no doubt because of dehydration, and her potassium was very low. Her response to that was, “Well, I eat a banana every day.” And I wanted to say to her that a banana only has a small amount of our daily requirements of potassium – even less if you factor in the heat of a summer day. If you’re expecting to control your potassium by eating a banana every day, well that won’t do it. If you are concerned about your potassium, there are many other foods that contain it. In this list, banana is at the bottom.

Here is an article that challenges our assumptions, for example, that we might be getting enough omega-3 fatty acids if we buy all the food in the grocery store that claims to contain it. The article says, “Consumers are in real danger of being misled.” Well, duh. Cheerios claim to lower cholesterol, potato chips have no cholesterol, some foods contain omega-3s – we’re not in danger of being misled, we’ve been misled for a long time. Sure, some of the processed food in the grocery store is good for us, but we are often wrong to assume that it is the best choice of food to put into our bodies based on what the food companies tell us. In some ways they need to mislead us so that we will buy their products. I go back to the fact that a corporation’s only responsibility is to make money.

Anyway, we need to make sure our assumptions are correct and not wait until a health crisis forces us to find out the truth. By the time that happens, it could be too late.

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Monday, November 5, 2007

No More Trans Fat?

Wow, I was at the store the other day and I discovered that Nutella no longer uses hydrogenated oil. One reason I stopped eating it was because of the trans fats. The only problem now is that instead of partially hydrogenated peanut oil they are using palm oil, which is also bad. Nutella has a lot of fat per serving, but a lot of that fat is from hazelnuts. I’m not recommending this product, but it is good, and I was just happy that they had taken out the trans fat. (Note: I just looked up the nutritional information on Nutella. Apparently their website hasn’t caught up with the change because it still has the old information. But I swear what I am saying is correct. Check it yourself next time you are at the grocery store.)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Green Tea

Green tea is supposed to be a very healthy drink. Just look at all these posts for an idea of how healthy.

As healthy as green tea may be, just think about how cheap it is. You can get organic green tea bags for ten cents each. That means you can have four cups per day for less than fifty cents. I think that is incredible! Where else can you find such a value?

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Food Diary, Yesterday

Bowl of Cheerios (about 1.5 cups) w/Silk Lite Soy Milk, Vanilla
One cup Green Tea, w/2 tsp sugar, sipped throughout the morning
One tsp Carlson Fish oil

Noon and After
One serving Tabatchnick Yankee Bean soup, from Kroger, 160 calories, 1.5 g fat
One serving Tabatchnick Potato soup, from Kroger, 100 calories, 1.5 g fat
Cup of Green Tea, w/sugar sipped throughout the afternoon
Bought some plums, but they were not good. Going out to eat tonight. 97 degrees outside.

At the cafeteria I had tossed salad w/nonfat dressing, white rice, plain broccoli. I’ve got to stop eating at the cafeteria, or be very very careful. The other day the beans looked too greasy, so today I didn’t eat any at all. Besides, they were pinto, and I didn’t feel like having them. The broccoli usually seems like it has butter on it. I’ve asked them before how they cook it, and they say they boil it, but it still often seems like there is butter there, which I DO NOT WANT!!! I also bought some sliced tomatoes, but brought them home instead.
Walked 30 minutes at the mall.
Bought some hummus ($2.00) at the mall. Had hummus, a piece of pita bread, and a slice of tomato to finish off dinner.
One peach.

2 glasses of wine
2 nonfat rice cakes from Kroger’s
Handful of roasted pumpkin seeds
1 slice whole wheat bread with grape jelly
1 slice whole wheat bread with bruschetta

Need to watch my fat intake. Key is low fat or non fat food. Also watch calories. Hopefully this is all I ate. I try to be conscientious and accurate.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Checking on That Cholesterol

I went to the doctor for a checkup recently and I just got the results of my blood work back. For the first time ever my cholesterol, lipids, etc. were relatively good. I am ecstatic.

When I had a checkup about 25 years ago the doctor told me for the first time that I had high triglycerides. This knowledge bothered me a lot at the time, but I didn’t know what to do about them. I tried to find out, but had no success. So as far as I know my triglycerides continued to be high. At about that time I quit smoking and started walking a lot, so those were two positive things I did for my health.

When I had a checkup in 2000 my cholesterol was still high as were my triglycerides. I still didn’t know what to do about any of that, so I am sure they continued to be high for quite awhile. In 2000 I started drinking a glass or two of wine in the evenings, and in 2001 I stopped eating meat as well as dairy and I adopted a low fat diet. For awhile I was a vegan. I lost a bunch of weight.

Fortunately my blood pressure is really good. I don’t know why. I think that is because of my exercising and my weight loss. Blood pressure is supposed to rise as you get older. Something like 120/85 is supposed to be normal. Whenever I go to the drug store I check it on their free machine, and usually it is about 110/70, which is low. When the nurse checked it the other day during my checkup it was 98/70.

Over the past several years I have done some more things to improve my health. In the past year I lost about 15 pounds. I now weigh 137 and have a better Body Mass Index (BMI). I started drinking two cups of green tea per day. I started consuming more soluble fiber, whether from foods like bananas and oatmeal, or from products like FiberSure. I started exercising more. I lost five pounds by just eating salads with nonfat dressing for lunch every day for a couple of weeks. Of course I continue to be a vegetarian. It was also important for me to limit my calories. I also ate a few walnuts every day, and watched my snacks in the evening, concentrating on fiber. My diet is complicated. I’ve touched on some things. I suppose I could be more specific. Maybe I will at some point. (Oh, don’t forget the fish oil.) Anyway, my diet has led to good results from my blood test about two weeks ago.

I am a sixty year old man. I am not on any medication whatsoever, thank God. Currently my total cholesterol is under 200 (181). My triglycerides are under 150 (128). My HDL is greater than 40 (52), and my LDL is 103. My VLDL is less than 40 (26). All in all I am very happy with the results of my blood test. OK, so my LDL is a little high (>100), but my LDL/HDL ratio is <2, so that is not bad. I am really glad that I had my blood checked. I have been wondering for a long time how I was doing with my diet, etc. Now I know. What I am doing actually works, at least for me. Following a low fat vegetarian diet, along with some other things like the green tea, fish oil, wine, exercise, etc., have helped me get my lipids to more healthy levels. Now that I know where I am I can take steps to try and improve my blood. I need to reduce my LDL and my total cholesterol. I also need to increase my HDL. I have some ideas about what to do now.

By the way, I don’t think it is ever too late to do positive things for your health. Seven years ago my lipids were still bad, and yet now they are good. What you do can have an impact on your health.

A lot of people are surprised when I tell them I am not on any medication. Sure, I am a sixty year old man, but not a typical sixty year old man. I avoid fast food restaurants like the plague. I exercise 30-60 minutes per day. I watch my diet carefully. I do research on how to eat healthy and live naturally. I cook. I consider that I am constantly evolving. The results of all that show up in my blood test. Hooray.

(BTW, I am lucky I was married to Arlene Malinowski for 18 years before she died. Many of the things I am doing now with my diet I learned from her.)

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Food Diary, Sunday, June 17

Bowl of Cheerios (about 1.5 cups) w/Silk Lite Soy Milk, Vanilla
One cup Green Tea, w/2 tsp sugar, sipped throughout the morning
One tsp Carlson Fish oil
Cut the grass, front yard and back, before it got too hot. Good workout.

Noon and After
One banana, organic
One bowl Quaker instant oatmeal, heart healthy, with a tsp of FiberSure added plus extra cinnamon
One serving Tabatchnick Cabbage soup, from Kroger, 100 calories
Cup of Green Tea, w/sugar, sipped throughout the afternoon

One bowl blackeye peas with elbow macaroni, tomato sauce, onions, garlic, vinegar which I cooked from “scratch”. Really good.
4 nonfat Nabisco saltine crackers
Walked 30 minutes at the mall

3 plums
One peach
2 glasses of wine
1 nonfat rice cake from Kroger’s
1 slice whole wheat bread with grape jelly

Need to watch my fat intake. Key is low fat or non fat food. Also watch calories. Hopefully this is all I ate. I try to be conscientious and accurate.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Food Diary, Saturday, June 16

Bowl of Cheerios (about 1.5 cups) w/Silk Soy Milk, Vanilla
One cup Green Tea, w/2 tsp sugar, sipped throughout the morning

Noon and After
Bowl of Chili and Beans, low fat, vegetarian, from Kroger, with couscous added
4 nonfat Nabisco saltine crackers
Cup of Green Tea, w/sugar sipped throughout the afternoon

Went out to eat at local cafeteria: tossed salad w/nonfat French dressing, Veggie plate with Great Northern beans, white rice, and plain broccoli. Drink water as needed. It looked like there was grease in the beans, but I ate them anyway. These beans are cooked with meat, Southern style, but you rarely see any, and usually they seem relatively fat free.

2 glasses of wine
10 pistachio nuts
1 non fat rice cake from Kroger’s
1 slice whole wheat bread with grape jelly

Need to watch my fat intake. I thought it would be interesting to start and keep a food diary. It is really difficult to limit your fat intake. As I've said before, a bowl of Cheerios in the morning with soy milk can amount to substantial amt of fat. I tried this in 2001 and had very good success, but as time has gone by it has been easy to relax. If I want to be really healthy, though, I think I need to limit my fat intake even further. I want to get and keep my cholesterol down, and that is one way. I'll talk about that further in a couple of days.

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TrueBlue Encore

In this article, apparently blueberries are better at lowering LDL cholesterol than even statin drugs. Wow, isn’t that cool? Some people, like me, will opt for the blueberries. Most everyone else will opt for the statins, even though there could be some troubling side effects involved.

HOWEVER, this article says that blackberries are better at lowering LDL cholesterol than blueberries are. How cool is that? I’m always looking for ways to naturally lower my cholesterol, and now all I’ve got to do is have a few berries for my snack.

Of course some of this research is a few years old, but the bottom line on all this, I think, is that berries are good for you. They’re good at helping control cholesterol. They may help fight cancer. What’s not to like about them?

I spoke recently about TrueBlue blueberry juice. Thing is, TrueBlue puts out a juice cocktail I guess that is a combination blackberry and blueberry juice in addition to their regular blueberry juice. I’ve tried the blueberry/blackberry and it is really good. And apparently, according to research regarding the blackberry, it might be really good for you, particularly in helping lower cholesterol or fighting cancer.

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Sunday, June 3, 2007

TrueBlue Blueberry Juice

There used to be a program on TV in the 1950s called Tightrope. Sometimes I feel that dealing with my diet and health is like walking on a tightrope. I drink a little wine, take a little fish oil, have a cup of green tea. I try to maintain a healthy weight, so I don’t have too many calories, but all the while I want to have stuff that I like, not torture myself with stuff I don’t like.

Recently I came across a great new drink called TrueBlue Blueberry Juice.

If anyone knows me they know I am really big into taking antioxidants, watching calories, avoiding stuff like high fructose corn syrup, etc. TrueBlue Blueberry Juice addresses all of those concerns: blueberry juices are full of antioxidants. They are very healthy, especially when compared to soft drinks and most other juice products. I know I sound like a commercial here, but it’s all true. TrueBlue only has about 110 calories per serving, it contains none of that corn syrup, and is FULL of stuff that is good for you.

Recently I have occasionally tried to add juices to my daily diet. For awhile there I was drinking pomegranate juice. The only problem with that was that it was so sweet that I stopped drinking it, even though it was supposed to be good for me. I found that TrueBlue blueberry juice was not all that sweet, which is a good thing because it made it easier to drink. I personally don’t want a really, really sweet drink.

So, where can I get TrueBlue? Well, I found it at my local grocery store, Kroger. There it was, up there with all the other fruit juices, but of course totally unlike all the other fruit juices. And it was only $3.99 for a half gallon, compared to my pomegranate juice which was six or seven dollars a quart. So TrueBlue is a really great value, with a lot of health benefits concentrated in one glass of juice, and for a very reasonable price. When you visit the TrueBlue website they have a link where you print off free coupons, as well as a link where you can find stores that carry the product. Also there is a wealth of information, including the fact that blueberry juice is supposed to help lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease, which I did not know. That is really cool. You all know how concerned I am about heart disease.

So, I plan to continue drinking TrueBlue for quite awhile. Not only is it good but it’s good for me.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Health Notes

The Bad News
Low dose aspirin does not protect women from cognitive decline.

Apparently Naproxen does not prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but what about Ibuprofen?

If a single high-fat meal is bad for you, just think of what those people who eat nothing but high-fat meals are doing to themselves.

Using ethanol fuel may be healthy for the environment, but what good is a great environment if you kill all the people?

The Good News
Consuming omega-3 fatty acids appears to slow cognitive decline as we age.

Alzheimer’s disease is fairly uncommon in India, where they eat a lot of curry and turmeric.

Eating less salt could be good for your heart.

Eating chocolate or cocoa appears to help lower blood pressure, although I don’t think they are talking about eating a bunch of Hershey bars to get this effect. It is possible to buy and eat cocoa while at the same time avoiding the fat, calories, and cholesterol associated with candy bars. (I think I’ll have some now. I microwave about a half cup of water for a minute, then mix in two teaspoons of sugar and two teaspoons of cocoa. I like it.) You don’t have to go overboard in order to enjoy a little chocolate.

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A Great Deal

I saw an advertisement on TV recently that said every hour you exercise may add two hours to your life. To me that seems like a great deal. Exercise is not a waste of time. Not only do you get back the hour spent exercising, but you get another hour on top of that. It is like investing in yourself, with a wonderful rate of return.

Anyway, this is the website to which the advertisement was referring. If you press on the START button you get a lot of information about leading a healthier lifestyle. I have explored it a little and it is all very interesting.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Influenza Causes Heart Attacks?

Now I am really confused. This article says “flu is a trigger of heart attacks.” It goes on to say that “vaccinations could save thousands of deaths from heart disease.”

I am nearly sixty and have never had a flu shot. Why not, you might ask? For one reason I never saw the need to get one before. Also, I have changed a lot in the past twenty years or so. I used to be all for vaccinations. Now, not so much.

But the above article got me to thinking, and this article also says “flu shots prevent cardiac death.” I am very afraid of having a heart attack. If flu causes heart attacks, then I should probably get a flu shot, right?

I don’t know. This article says that the first article above “doesn't prove that flu caused fatal heart attacks or other heart disease deaths. For instance, the researchers don't know the medical history, medications, or heart risks of the people who died of heart attacks or other types of heart disease -- or whether those people actually had the flu about the time of death.”

OK, well that makes me feel better. Maybe this was all just a false alarm, and maybe I just got scared for nothing. Besides, there are, I think, a lot of reasons not to take a flu shot. There seems to be some question as to whether or not the flu shot might contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, or Guillain-Barre Syndrome. There is some question as to whether or not the flu shot protects against the correct strains of influenza. And there are substances in the flu vaccine – such as mercury, aluminum, and formaldehyde – that you might not want to have injected into your blood. I know I don’t want them.

Here is more discussion. And Doctor Bob doesn’t seem to be for getting a flu shot. And here is something else. I may have already included it, but better safe than sorry.

(By the way, they say more people die from heart attacks during flu season, but more people have heart attacks in the winter anyway.)

This article says it is important to have a flu shot if you have heart disease. Maybe that is true. I don’t know. But so far I don’t have a diagnosed medical condition, so I still don’t see any real reason to get vaccinated. I think I am pretty healthy. The last time I got really sick was about seven or eight months ago. That was definitely not during flu season, although I may have had the flu. I really felt bad for more than a week. I was glad, however, that it gave me a chance to lose some weight I had wanted to lose. Since that time I have occasionally been around people who had the flu, but fortunately I dodged those bullets.

Here are articles from Wikipedia on the Flu Vaccine, Vaccines generally, and Vaccine Controversy. And here is a link to the National Vaccine Information Center.

I remember that I had a tetanus shot (which I think was unnecessary) when I was about twenty years old. I had a bad reaction to it. I was in the bed for several days afterwards. I don’t want to go through anything like that again.

As I say, I think I am fairly healthy now. I don’t see any reason to do anything. And I don’t see any reason to inject something into my system that might not even work; that I might not even need; and that might compromise my health. If I were in imminent and real danger, then maybe I would do something, but as of right now I don’t see an imminent or real danger from the flu. And certainly not serious enough to warrant my getting a flu shot, which seems to have enough threats and dangers of its own.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007


Researchers found the chemical PFOA in 100 percent of newborns examined. This just makes me sick. Even newborn babies are not safe in their mother’s wombs from PFOA.

I have talked about some of this before, most notably on Jan. 29 and 31, 2006, as well as Feb. 6 and 13, 2006 (to which you can refer for background material.) PFOA is a chemical byproduct of Teflon. It is used in many packaging materials to prevent sticking, including microwave popcorn bags, storage bags for frozen french fries, pizza boxes, etc.

PFOA persists in the environment for a very long time. It is in virtually everyone’s body. And I do not believe it is a harmless chemical. And I am extremely dismayed that it is found in the blood of newborn babies. Don’t they deserve a chance to develop in an unpolluted environment? Is no one safe from pollution these days, not even unborn fetuses?

They’re presumably going to stop using PFOA by 2015. That’s great, but is it too little too late? The PFOA that is already here will continue to affect us for years to come. And apparently it will even affect those who are as yet unborn. There is no escaping it, and I also think there is no avoiding it because it is apparently ubiquitous. So the only thing we can do, it seems, is just hope it doesn’t kill us or cause anymore dreaded birth defects than we already have. I am not very optimistic.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Green Tea and Autoimmune Disease

This article says that green tea may help prevent autoimmune diseases such as Sjogren’s Syndrome. I was curious to know what that is, so I looked it up. Sjogren’s Syndrome is a condition in which immune cells attack and destroy tear glands and salivary glands, leading to dry eyes and dry mouth. About nine out of ten people with this syndrome are women. There is no cure or prevention available. But in the research reported above the doctors said, “Those treated with the green tea extract beginning at three weeks, showed significantly less damage to those glands over time.” And in China, where they drink a lot of green tea, only 5 percent of the elderly suffer from dry mouth, compared to 30 percent of elderly Americans. Who knows, maybe green tea could help.

I was having dry eyes recently. I remember I was blinking them repeatedly because they were uncomfortable. I think it was associated with using the heater in my car, though – the warm air blowing up and into my eyes. I don’t have that condition much anymore, but I was interested to read about Sjogren’s Syndrome, and I will definitely pay more attention to the condition if my eyes become dry again.

I know that people who smoke often have dry eyes, and perhaps dry mouth as well. That is just a function of having heated smoke swirling around your face and being inhaled all the time. I guess the point is, sometimes dry eyes are a result of something quite simple like air blowing in your face, or cigarette smoke irritating them. Sometimes it is a result of something more serious. If you think you might have Sjogren’s Syndrome, or anything similar, please see your doctor. He or she might be able to help. In the meantime I will continue drinking my two cups of green tea per day.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Depression and Diabetes

This article says that depression may cause a person to be diabetic. If this is true, then I think we want to do all we can to treat depression, because we certainly do not want to get diabetes or any other health disorder.

The above article mentions cortisol, a stress hormone, as a possible cause of diabetes in depressed people. This just goes back to what I have said for a long time, that stress is potentially a big problem, and we should do all we can do to deal with it effectively. Here is an extensive discussion of stress which also mentions cortisol.

The question arises, however, that if cortisol is a problem, is there any way to lower it in our blood? I think the answer to that is maybe. Here is an article that discusses cortisol at some length, and here is an article that talks about ways to possibly lower cortisol levels. I do not vouch for the accuracy or validity of these two articles, but I present them in hopes that you can make your own determination of their accuracy and validity. And maybe you will get some ideas about how to deal with cortisol.

This is a very complex issue that is not going to be solved right away. But if we become aware of it because of articles like these, maybe that can lead to a solution in the future.

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Bypass the Bypass?

I still think I may eventually need some sort of cardiac intervention, mainly because of my earlier unhealthy lifestyle, so I am constantly interested in any discussion of bypass operations, angioplasties, stents, etc.

When I think about having a bypass or having a stent, I think that these procedures in large measure take care of the problems that existed before they were performed. And in most cases, of course, they do. But some people have major complications, such as heart attack, following the procedures: five percent of patients who had drug-eluting stents, and 3.8 percent of patients who had a bypass. Also, research suggests that about six percent of patients die within three years of having a bypass, compared to about nine percent treated with drug-eluting stents. This whole discussion is complicated, so please read the entire article for fuller understanding.

Here is another article that discusses the same research. It makes the point that about 50% more people die following stent therapy than following bypass. One expert is quoted as having said, “So the trend is not in favor of drug-coated stents.” And another person said, “When we tried to tackle the tougher patients -- those with greater risk, like the typical patient sent to bypass surgery -- our complication rate went up. We can no longer say we are safer with stents than with bypass at the time of procedure." Once again, read the entire article for fuller understanding.

In the meantime, I am thankful that whatever my condition is, I seem to be healthy enough at the present time to avoid both of the interventions mentioned above. I hope to stay healthy long enough for doctors to figure out how to have safer cardiac procedures. Besides, I have plans for the next three years, and I don’t want to be part of whatever percent of patients it is who die following a trip to the hospital.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Aspirin and Cancer

This article says that “A daily dose of adult-strength aspirin may modestly reduce cancer risk in populations with high rates of colorectal, prostate, and breast cancer if taken for at least five years.” I thought this article was interesting, although I personally would not take aspirin of any strength for five years because I would be afraid I might get tinnitus, which is one common side-effect of aspirin use. But this article is interesting not only because of the cancers against which it may protect, but also because of the cancers against which it does not protect, namely lung cancer, bladder cancer, melanoma, leukemia, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, pancreatic cancer, and kidney cancer. More research needs to be done.

Here is another article that says aspirin may help protect against cancer, while other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may not.

If you Google this you get a number of articles that suggest aspirin protects against cancer. In fact one article, in seeming contradiction of the first article above, says aspirin may reduce lung cancer risk.

Sorry, I still don’t plan to take aspirin.

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This article says that Omega-3 fatty acids – and DHA in particular – may help prevent two types of brain lesions found in Alzheimer’s disease: neurofibrillary tangles and an accumulation of beta amyloid.

The article goes on to talk about the unhealthy amount of omega-6 fatty acids found in a typical American diet, with ratios of at least 10:1 to as high as 30:1 omega-6 versus omega-3.

It concludes by saying that we may be able to prevent Alzheimer’s disease if, in addition to consuming more omega-3 we exercise, get mental stimulation, quit smoking, and avoid stress.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Aneurysms of the Abdominal Aorta

We have talked about this before, and I thought we pretty much had it settled: male smokers and former smokers over a certain age (65, I think) needed to get checked regularly for aneurysms of the abdominal aorta. It is a dangerous condition that could lead to death, and it is just good to get it checked. I did not realize there was any controversy surrounding the whole thing, but apparently there is. Read this article, and discuss any questions you may have with your doctor. I have known two people who had successful surgery to repair an aneurysm of the abdominal aorta. I knew another person who died of a ruptured abdominal aorta, AND there was a big story in the Raleigh News and Observer in the 1960s or 1970s about a famous Raleigh resident (I forget his name now, sorry) who died unexpectedly of a ruptured abdominal aorta, so this is not some obscure condition that never comes up. And as I said, it can be dangerous.

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Monday, April 16, 2007


This article says that flavonoids are only contained in citrus fruit. Since I love to prove statements like that wrong, or at least verify their accuracy, I found that they are also contained in onions, green tea, wine, etc. I will say, however, there may be some natural substances that are found only in citrus fruit, and for that reason alone they deserve to be included in a healthy diet.

At another point the above article says Americans consume 21 quarts of orange juice per year. That is amazing – amazing that it is so little! When you consider the fact that Americans consume 55 GALLONS of soft drinks per year, and that children consume about 80 gallons of soft drinks per year, is it any wonder that we are a sick, obese society? We should consume more juice and less soft drinks.

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If you go someplace like Amazon.com and type in “DMAE” you come up with lots of products including nutritional supplements and anti-wrinkle cosmetics. This article talks about some of the effects of DMAE on the skin. I must say that any article that uses words like “pathological swelling” and “mortality rate” tends to frighten me, but maybe that’s just me. Needless to say, I don’t use cosmetics, and I am glad I don’t.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007


After my recent bout with cooking soups I had some unused cauliflower left over. I did not know what to do with it, and I certainly did not want to let it spoil or anything because it was organic and a little pricey. Anyway today I had another bout of cooking, so I decided to find some way to use the cauliflower. (It was about the size of the back of my fist.)

I steamed it for thirteen minutes. When it was finished cooking and had cooled off enough I cut it apart some with my paring knife, put a little salt on it, and ate some. I was surprised at how good it tasted. I have eaten cauliflower a lot over the years. I always try to get some when I eat at Whole Foods. But usually the taste is bland and hardly appealing. My cauliflower, however, actually tasted good. Even my son agreed.

The fact that it tasted so good will encourage me to eat it more often. Cauliflower is in the same family as broccoli, which I LOVE, and Brussel sprouts. They are very healthy for you, particularly when eaten with turmeric or curry.

Here’s to discovering that not only is cauliflower good for you, but also it can be quite good to the taste. Hooray.

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Health Notes

Here is an article that says some brain functions actually improve with age. And here is an article about a possible new tool for the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

This article has a discussion of stroke symptoms, as well as treating ischemic stroke with intravenous clot-busting drugs. And this article says that after heart surgery, using corticosteroids may reduce risk of atrial fibrillation and stroke. It also mentions inflammation, which is often a problem after heart surgery, so presumably administration of steroids helps reduce inflammation as well? The article was not totally clear on that point, but that would be something to discuss with your doctor.

Exercise is supposed to reduce our risk of developing high blood pressure. Is this really news? I have assumed for some time that was true.

There is a link between the immune system and high plasma lipid levels? I would not be surprised. High levels of cholesterol and triglycerides are not good. Lowering those levels is definitely a worthwhile goal.

I talk a lot about weight loss and diet. These are serious subjects, mainly because I think our health depends on them to a large extent. For a more humorous look at these subjects, though, check this installment of Miss Cellania’s blog.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Diabetes and Heart Disease

MayoClinic.com says that “many cases of diabetes are preventable and even small changes can help reduce your risk.”

For those who don’t have diabetes, one reason to do everything you can do to avoid getting it is that apparently having diabetes can take 15 years of health from a person’s heart. In other words, a 40 year-old person with diabetes has about the same risk of cardiovascular disease as a 55 year-old person. Stated another way, diabetes can age a person’s heart by 15 years. My mother was diabetic. She died from a stroke at the age of 70. Without diabetes she might have lived to 85.

For those who have diabetes, here is more information about the condition as it relates to heart disease, and some things you can do to possibly lower your risks.

MayoClinic.com also has a wealth of information about diabetes, as you can imagine, including tips on prevention, diabetes diet, and other articles that deal with treatment of and coping with diabetes.

Diabetes is a serious disease. For some people it may be unavoidable. For everyone else it just makes good sense to live a sensible lifestyle so that we don’t get diabetes along with all the complications that it can bring.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Health Notes

There are so many interesting stories out there I thought I would just pass on to you some things I have been reading lately.

Here’s another reason to try and avoid diabetes, as if we needed anymore reasons: apparently there is some risk that a person with diabetes might develop some cognitive impairment. Diabetes takes a real toll on a human body.

While I am on the subject of diabetes, here is something that I have mentioned before: apparently having diabetes can take 15 years of health from a person’s heart. In other words, a 40 year-old person with diabetes has about the same risk of cardiovascular disease as a 55 year-old person. Stated another way, diabetes can age a person’s heart by 15 years. My mother was diabetic. She died from a stroke at the age of 70. Without diabetes she might have lived to 85.

Canada appears to be an example of an evolved society: apparently there is a “national effort to curb obesity.” Good for them.

I have talked a lot about stress before. Managing it is one thing that is well within our power to do, and it can have a real positive impact on our health. We can eat a healthy diet, lose weight, but if we are stressed out, a lot of our efforts can go for naught. For example, this article says that stress may make cancer more difficult to kill.

This is very interesting: the drug Lithium, which is used to treat bipolar disorder, is said to build gray matter in the brain. Maybe I could try some. (Just kidding. Bipolar disorder is a serious condition.)

This article says that Australian teenagers eat a really poor diet. Do American teenagers do any better?

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

You've Gotta Have Heart

I woke up yesterday morning at 6 am with a burning pain in my left shoulder. Needless to say I was a little worried about this since the pain seemed to have come out of the blue, and I had heard that most heart attacks happen in the morning.

Maybe I should have gotten up and gone to the hospital, which really is quite nearby, but I did not do that. I stayed in bed and eventually the pain went away.

I did not really feel bad, but later in the day I did go to a doctor. The nurse gave me sort of a hard time for not coming sooner. They checked my blood pressure, which was 100 over something – a really fantastic number for a guy my age. They gave me an electrocardiogram (ECG) and took some blood to check for cardiac enzymes, etc – I guess to determine if I had had a cardiac incident like a heart attack or something. The ECG was normal, and all the numbers from my blood test were within normal range. According to the doctor, my heart was fine. Yayyy!!!!

She said that I was doing about everything right – drinking a little wine, losing weight, cutting down on fat in my diet, going vegetarian, exercising, not smoking, dealing with stress. In fact, if a person has heart disease, these are the risk factors that the doctor suggests that you address first. (Does anyone remember my post a few weeks ago that talked about this?) In other words, short of taking medication or having surgery I am already doing most everything I can do to avoid serious heart problems.

Do I feel better now that I have gone to the doctor? Somewhat. The main reasons I went were to find out if I was ok, and to consult with someone who could tell me what I should do in the future if I encountered a similar situation. I got the answer to the first question, but I am not extremely clear on the second one. And I wonder what I am supposed to do if I wake up at 6 am tomorrow morning with a burning pain in my left shoulder. After all, I have already been to the doctor and there was nothing wrong with me.

I don’t know. I don’t think my condition has reached heart attack proportions yet. If I were having a heart attack I think I would have shortness of breath, the pain would probably be worse, and I may even be nauseous. Therefore, if I ever have trouble breathing, if I can’t bear the pain, and if I throw up for no apparent reason, then I will call 911. Until then I guess I will just keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.

I do worry about all this, though. I smoked for a long time, and I did not always eat a healthy diet. But there’s nothing I can do now except keep doing what I am doing and hope it is not too late to avoid serious consequences for my youthful behavior.

PS, It is now the next morning after all the excitement at the doctor’s office. I had a good night’s sleep last night without any pain. In fact it was so dark and rainy this morning that I wish I had stayed in bed longer, but my son got up early and started moving around, so that was that.

I put some BenGay and a heating pad on my left shoulder last night. That seemed to help. And I tried to be sure not to roll over on my left side while sleeping.

I find that the older I get, the more precautions I have to take: don’t sleep on my left side, don’t lace my shoes up too tight, don’t eat too much fat, etc. I liked it better when I didn’t have to worry about all that. But that is ok. You live and learn. If you don’t learn, life can be pretty miserable. If you do learn, and if you do have to take certain precautions, well that’s life. And besides, the alternatives really don’t seem so appealing.

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