Fish Oil and Violent Behavior

According to The UltraMind Solution by Mark Hyman, M.D., a study published in 2002 in the British Journal of Psychiatry, prison inmates who supplemented with adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals, and Omega-3 fats, experienced a 35% reduction in felony-related violent crime while in prison.

So, I guess the lesson is if you know someone who is getting ready to be violent, take them to a seafood buffet!

Vitamin D and Schizophrenia

sunny day 2

The newest newsletter of the Vitamin D Council addresses the issue of Vitamin D and Schizophrenia is depth, and it appears that since Schizophrenia is a disease that takes a long time to develop (sometimes 25 years), prenatal maternal environmental factors play an important role in the development of Schizophrenia.

Researchers at Harvard (Kinney, Huang, et. al.) released a paper looking at the role of environmental factors in Schizophrenia. They looked at three environmental factors that may trigger Schizophrenia

- Poor prenatal care

- Low Omega-3 fat consumption (i.e. not enough fatty acids from fish)

- Prenatal exposure to infections, esp. influenza

Here are the key points that Dr. Cannell of the Vitamin D Council points out, which show that maternal Vitamin D deficiency may cause Schizophrenia later in life:

First, the highest prevalence of Schizophrenia is in Canada, near the Arctic circle, while the lowest prevalence is near the Equator. While not proving that Vitamin D deficiency causes Schizophrenia, it certainly starts the investigation!

Second, in the analysis, prenatal care did not have an effect on the prevalence of Schizophrenia around the equator; in other words, if your mother and you had bad prenatal care, you still didn’t get Schizophrenia later in life, if you lived around the equator. However, in extreme latitudes, individuals whose mothers received poor prenatal care were more likely to have Schizophrenia.

Third, at the equator, fish consumption did not affect Schizophrenia prevalence, but it did affect prevalence for the subjects studied farther away from Equator. Basically, the connection from this is that it wasn’t the Omega-3 fats from fish that made the difference, but the Vitamin D in the fish (although Omega-3 fats are certainly necessary).

Fourth, it is known that dark-skinned individuals have higher rates of Schizophrenia. However, this only holds true in dark-skinned individuals in latitudes far from the equator, and not near the equator (where even people of very dark skin make plenty of Vitamin D).

All of these factors suggest that maternal exposure to sunlight (or Vitamin D consumption) is, according to Cannell, not just a cause of Schizophrenia, but the cause.

Food for thought.

Some Good Deals Over at Swanson

Swanson Vitamins always has some good prices and sales, but right now, they are going the extra mile, offering ten percent off the entire order (enter in code TEN0809 at checkout, before August 24, 2009).

Swanson’s regular prices are some of the most competitive supplement prices on the internet, but every month or so, they put a few items on a “buy 1-get 1″ sale, which makes the price even better. This month, Arginine, Horse Chestnut, MSM, Vitamin D (400 IU), and many others are on sale. Add on the ten percent, and these prices are out of this world! In fact, the Arginine price is so good, that it is  better deal (gram for gram) to buy these capsules than to buy the bulk powder elsewhere).

Attention High School Students: Back to School Weight Loss and Maintenance

It’s that exciting…er…dreaded time of year for many students, teachers, and parents: back to school time. Today, I am going to discuss some ways to maintain and lose weight once school starts. We also have a Weight Loss Tips and Ideas Page that contains more generally helpful weight loss ideas, most which would be effective in a back-to-school setting. You should consult a doctor before starting any weight loss plan.

When I was in high school, summer was pretty much the beginning of football season, but I did have a lot of control over my diet and activity level. Football got me into shape, and I ate pretty well at home, so the combination was good for weight loss and maintenance. My senior year, I ran a lot outside of football, so much, that I remember worrying that football would not keep me in shape nearly as well as my running would (maybe I should have joined the cross-country team!).  Either way, summer was full of good weather and possibilities, whereas once school started, I seemed to be locked into a tight and stressful schedule (more on this below).

In high school, I struggled to maintain my weight. I knew that it was a good idea to be in shape, especially if I wanted to get dates, but yet, gaining weight was so easy in high school. This was because a lot of my friends were naturally thin, with high metabolisms (not so anymore, by the way), and could eat whatever they wanted and not gain weight. I, on the other hand, had to struggle to keep the weight off. While I just mentioned that losing weight in the summer was pretty easy, once school started, I faced a lot of temptations that hurt my weight loss efforts:

- Bad lunches – the cafeteria offered little in the way of healthy choices, which made bad eating the order of the day. Packing lunches required time and effort I didn’t always have (see below).

- Stress – I got good grades in school, and enjoyed the social aspects of school as well. Nonetheless, when football was in season, school was pretty stressful for me. Basically I was busy from 7:30 AM-7:00 PM, which left a few hours in the evening to eat, catch up with family and friends, and squeeze in some alone time.  My natural response to stress was to eat more.

- Social Pressure – Like most high school kids, my social life usually involved food. Where would we go after practice? The local greasy spoon. Where would we go after games? The local pizza joint. What did we do for entertainment on the weekends? Sit around and play Super Nintendo. Obviously, I enjoyed all of these activities, but if they weren’t reigned in, the result for me was weight gain.

- Sitting Around All Day – Unfortunately, high school involves a lot of sitting, and even those among us without ADD sometimes struggle to focus when sitting still all day. We are asking kids who should be at their prime of physical activity to sit around all day.

The key to losing and maintaining weight, besides knowing *how* to lose weight is the effectively address hindrances to weight loss, i.e. situations and realities that may cause a mere lapse to turn into a relapse. So below are some ways to address the potential problems I have addressed, but obviously, each person will have different hindrances to weight loss, so be creative!

Bad lunches can be dealt with by packing a lunch. Yes, it takes time and effort, but the control you have over your lunches, both in taste and calories, is worth it. To make the job easier, I suggest planning your week’s meals before you get to the grocery story, and then buying enough food to last the entire week. This way, you aren’t scrambling each night to develop tomorrow’s meal.

Stress is rampant among all age groups. Fortunately, it is easy to deal with stress, if you are willing to try different techniques. This website has a bunch of stress relief ideas and techniques. Instead of immediately eating when you are stressed, try some of these ideas.

Social Pressure is difficult to deal with, because nobody wants to be known as the guy (or gal) who can’t ever just go out and “have fun.” First, I think it is important to realize that if being in shape means a lot to you, then you may have to sometimes not do what everybody else is doing. Fortunately, most restaurants offer healthier menu items, and if all your buddies have around is a bag of chips, then you can always limit yourself to a handful and say you just ate. Second, if you are generally doing well regarding your health plan, then allowing yourself to go off isn’t bad, and might even rev up your metabolism. People don’t get fat by going off their plan once a week; they gain weight because they go off all the time.

Sitting around for 8, 40-minute, periods is not a great way to burn calories, but there are ways to burn calories while sitting. Tapping your feet, clinching and releasing muscles, etc, all burn more calories than sitting alone. In fact, studies show that thin people tend to fidget more than fat people, so the extra little movements while sitting probably do make a difference in our daily calorie burning!

The Power of the Mind and Weight Loss

The mind is powerful, and it is apparently so powerful, that a woman who was hypnotized to believe she had gastric-bypass surgery actually is losing weight! In fact, the woman, just like those who have undergone gastric-bypass surgery, gets a sick feeling if she eats too much.

While I am not sure if I would want to undergo hypnosis to lose weight, I do believe the mind is powerful and capable of literally helping us create our own reality (have you ever noticed how it seems bad things always happen to those people who always expect it?).

Reason #1,374 to Drink More Coffee

coffee

I have written on the health benefits of coffee before, but it seems like research supporting the healthiness of coffee emerges so often, that it is hard to keep up.

I have mentioned before, many, many, times, how much I love coffee. That first cup in the morning, the second cup after lunch, and the third cup after dinner, all make my day more full and enjoyable. That a drink brightens my day so much is a testament to this amazing drink!

Now, if the taste and aroma weren’t enough, research shows that coffee may not only prevent Alzheimer’s, but actually reverse it! Yes, that is right, reverse it. The research was carried out on rats, but it looks promising nonetheless. Researchers gave rats (specially bred to develop Alzheimer’s like dementia) caffeine, the equivalent to 5 cups of coffee a day. They found some amazing things. First of all, the caffeine significantly reduced brain and blood levels of beta-amyloid, the substance many believe is responsible for Alzheimer’s disease. Second, giving young rats of this strain caffeine prevented dementia from developing in these animals, even though they were specifically bred to develop dementia. Third, and very exciting, once the older rats (who had, by this point, developed dementia) started receiving caffeine, they not only stopped losing their memory, but regained what they had lost, having normal memory as regular rats of the same age. In other words, consuming the human equivalent of drinking 5 cups of coffee a day not only prevented dementia, but reversed it.

Drink up.

Just Do It!

Sometimes when it comes to exercise you just have to do it. Kind of like the Nike slogan. Why? Exercise is going to be very hard at first. Even new activities for those already in pretty good shape can be tough. Once again, you have to just do the activity and not overthink it. Granted, you should think about issues of safety and etiquette and use the proper equipment (e.g. don’t think you want to play tackle football at age 60 and run out in the middle of a high school game and line up at fullback).

However, you have to work through the mental issues that tell you that you can’t do it. Issues like: you’ll look like a newbie, you may be sore, you are not good at it. The answer to all three of these, for example, is: duh, but who cares? Even Michael Phelps was new at swimming at some point, even if it probably was when he was diapers. But, unless you train with professionals, no one at your pool will be anywhere near Michael Phelps in terms of ability. If you think an activity or sport looks great and will provide good exercise, then jump in and just do it, even if you may look a little foolish for awhile.