Healthy Joints, Happy Joints

Just like motor oil keeps your car running smoothly, there’s an important fluid that lubricates and nourishes your joints. This substance is called synovial (syn ö vi àl) fluid, and joints that contain it — like your shoulders and hips — are called synovial joints.
As you move, sacks of this fluid cushion your knees and elbows against friction, and these sacks are known as bursae (bûr`s∂). When you hear people talk about tennis elbow — outer elbow pain often caused by repetitive motion — they actually have inflamed bursae, which physicians refer to as bursitis.
Joint pain can interfere with your physical activity and daily life. The flip side, however, is that as your fitness level increases, joint pain may decrease. Here are some things you can do to encourage both of these desired results:
  • Warm up before any activity. Try this for your knees: Sit in a chair, and slowly raise your left foot until your leg is straight. Hold for a second, and slowly lower it. Repeat this motion 10 to 15 times with each leg.
  • To warm up your hips and get a great back massage in the process, lie on your back with your knees bent in toward your chest. Slowly move your knees in gentle circles, keeping the small of your back on the floor. Repeat the motion 10 times, and then switch directions.
  • If you use weights, choose lighter weights and do more repetitions. Eventually, work up to heavier weights.
  • Be sure to use correct form as you exercise. For example, never do any activity that causes you to bend your legs until your knees stick out beyond your toes. This position puts too much pressure on your knees.

Breakfast for Kids Can Be Healthy and Fast

“Children need breakfast everyday for a variety of reasons,” says Roberta Anding, a registered dietitian at the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. “Actively growing children need food at regular intervals to fuel their bodies and brains. Skipping breakfast gives as much as a 10- to 12-hour time frame with no food, and the potential for compromised school performance and irritability.”

In addition, “for children who eat breakfast, there is better regulation of body weight,” says Anding. Other benefits:

  • Eating breakfast increases the chances of an overall healthier diet.
  • Kids who start the day with a healthy meal are more likely to play sports and be more physically active.
  • Eating breakfast improves a child’s ability to concentrate and perform in school.

Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Kids

Avoid giving children sweet foods for breakfast, like doughnuts or cereals high in sugar, because after the sugar high wears off, they are likely to get tired. “Healthy options include whole grain, low-sugar cereal with low-fat milk and fresh fruit, or a yogurt berry parfait with granola,” says Anding. Or, you might offer your child a whole-grain English muffin with peanut butter or jelly and a glass of low-fat milk.

Other healthy meals for kids:

  • Scrambled eggs, toast with a little bit of butter, turkey bacon or sausage, and a side of fresh fruit.
  • Whole-grain bagel and cream cheese with a side of strawberries.
  • Low-fat cheese toast with a side of cantaloupe and blueberries.

Get creative, adds Anding, who recommends offering a breakfast burrito with scrambled egg and grated low-fat cheese and fresh fruit.

“If time is a factor, make breakfast portable,” she continues. “Try sandwiches, like peanut butter and jelly or ham and cheese leftover from dinner. Dry cereal in a sandwich baggie and a 100 percent real-juice juice box can make breakfast stress-free.”

Planning breakfast the night before can also save you time. “This will allow you to plan ahead and know how much time you need in the morning,” says Arlene Kaufman, a busy working mother and director of Temple Trager Preschool in Louisville, Ky. “That way everyone isn’t saying: ‘I don’t know what I want,’ or asking for something you don’t have.”

Healthy meals for kids don’t have to be hard or time-consuming — or even homemade. There are plenty of prepared healthy breakfast foods that can go in the microwave. Check the freezer section at your local grocery store for pre-made meals like whole-wheat bagels and cream cheese, pancakes, waffles, and frozen turkey sausage. Yogurt and fruit, along with a whole-wheat bagel, is also a quick and easy breakfast for kids.

And, if you’re in a hurry like most families in the morning, Kaufman says, “grab a banana and Nutrigrain bar to eat in the car — it’s still healthy, even though it’s on the go!”

10 Kidney Health Resolutions

  1. Eat breakfast. Breakfast didn’t earn its reputation as the most important meal of the day for no reason. Studies show you’re less likely to overeat during the day if you eat a healthy breakfast in the morning.

2. Avoid unnecessary pain killers. Many people don’t realize that the same medications that help alleviate your aches can have dangerous side effects, including harming the kidneys. It’s important to read both prescription and over the counter (OTC) drug labels in order to evaluate the risks and benefits before taking a particular medication.

3. Exercise. Yes, you’ve heard this one before, but there is a reason that getting more exercise is a perennially popular resolution. Physical activity offers many health benefits, including decreasing blood pressure, increasing muscle strength, lowering blood fat levels (cholesterol and triglycerides), improving sleep, increasing insulin sensitivity and helping control body weight. If those weren’t reason enough to lace up your sneakers, studies have also shown that kidney patients who exercise have better outcomes for dialysis and transplantation. Increasing activity by 150 minutes per week is recommended.

4. Get organized. Start with your medicine cabinet and move on to your medical records and lab documents. Make a list of all the medications you’re currently taking, including vitamins, supplements and over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Sometimes medications and supplements can interact with one another in different ways and all your healthcare providers may not know what other specialists have prescribed for you. Keep the list handy to bring to appointments and to share with primary care practitioners and specialists alike. Keep a copy of all recent medical test results in one place, such as a mobile app or file cabinet.

5. Quit sm.oking. It’s getting cold out and many bars and restaurants are smoke free, making it the perfect time to start saving yourself the trip outside while improving your health. Smoking slows the blood flow to the kidneys and can also interfere with medications used to treat high blood pressure, reducing their effectiveness. Quitting can be difficult, but it is one of the most important lifestyle changes that you can make to protect your kidneys.

6. Sit less and stand more. Recent research has linked sitting for eight hours or more a day with developing kidney disease. Sitting for that length of time is typical for the average desk job, but most of us go way beyond that. We sit on the couch, while driving, while riding the bus, and during dinner, just to name a few! Dedicate 2016 as the year you take a stand.

7.Get an annual kidney check-up. Show your kidneys some love with a urine test to check for protein in the urine, one of the earliest signs of kidney disease, and a blood test for creatinine to calculate your estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR). GFR tells how well your kidneys are working to remove wastes from your blood. Speak with your healthcare provider about getting these tests. Early kidney disease can and should be treated to keep it from getting worse!

8. Lose weight. December may have been the month of the holiday party buffets, but now it’s time to hunker down and re-commit to your weight loss goals. Obesity can cause kidney disease because the kidneys have to work harder to filter out toxins and to meet the metabolic demands of the increased body mass index (BMI) in obese individuals. Share your weight loss progress with others and stick with healthy lifestyle changes even if you don’t initially see results on the scale.

9. Sleep more. There are plenty of reasons to hit the sack earlier to make sure you’re catching enough zzz’s each night. Studies suggest that irregular sleep patterns, eating before going to sleep and not getting enough sleep are all linked to obesity, while getting enough sleep is linked with maintaining a healthy weight. When it comes to a good night’s rest, most people require about 7 hours.

10. Shake the salt habit. Break up with the salt shaker and look out for high sodium levels in processed foods. High blood pressure causes both kidney and heart diseases and people with kidney failure are three times as likely to have heart disease.

The Common Killer You Might Be Ignoring

Blood clots kill one in four people worldwide. That’s right, one in four deaths on this planet are caused by blood clots, also known by the medical term thrombosis. If you’re surprised by these blood clot facts, you’re not alone. A survey that I and others conducted with the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis steering committee of the United States, along with eight other countries from North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, found that public awareness of thrombosis was low overall (at 68 percent), and for venous thromboembolism (VTE) in particular (at about 50 percent) — much lower than awareness of other health conditions.

Far more people surveyed were aware of high blood pressure, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and AIDS (90 percent, 85 percent, 82 percent, and 87 percent, respectively).

Only 45 percent of people who responded to the survey were aware that blood clots are preventable. Few knew the major risk factors for VTE, like hospitalization, surgery, and cancer (awareness of 25 percent, 36 percent, and 16 percent, respectively).

Thrombosis is the underlying cause of heart attack, most strokes, and venous thromboembolism (VTE), a condition in which blood clots form in the deep veins of the leg and can travel in the circulatory system to lodge in the lungs. VTE is often fatal, but it’s also preventable. Unfortunately, most patients who die from VTE do so suddenly, with little or no warning. Don’t miss signs and symptoms that could mean a dangerous blood clot: unexplained shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, rapid pulse, or coughing up blood.

VTE Is Surprisingly Common

Although about half of us haven’t heard of VTE, it’s a very common condition. Each year, VTE affects 1 to 3 out of every 1,000 people. Among those who are age 70 or older, this increases to between 2 and 7 per 1,000.

An estimated 100,000 to 300,000 people die from VTE each year in the United States, and more than 500,000 die each year in Europe. VTE causes more deaths each year in the United States and Europe than breast cancer, HIV disease, and motor vehicle crashes — combined.

According to a recent study by the World Health Organization and others, VTE associated with hospitalization was the leading cause of premature death, as well as years lived with disability, in low- and middle-income countries. And VTE was the second most common cause in high-income countries across the globe. VTE is responsible for more deaths and disability than hospital-associated pneumonia, catheter-related bloodstream infections, and adverse drug events.

VTE Survivors and Long-Term Disabilities

VTE contributes to chronic disability for people who have non-fatal clots in the legs or lungs. This post-thrombotic syndrome, or PTS, is a painful and often disabling complication of clots in the deep veins of the leg. The syndrome results in chronic pain and swelling in the leg after periods of standing and may lead to the development of skin ulcers. This condition impairs quality of life and may also limit a person’s ability to work.

Blood clots in the lung, especially recurrent clots, may cause chronic pulmonary hypertension — a condition in which the pressure in the lung arteries is chronically elevated, leading to symptoms such as shortness of breath when exercising and impaired heart function. These limit the patient’s activity and may require major surgery.

VTE Adds Billions in Healthcare Costs

VTE is also a major burden to our healthcare system. A study published in 2015 in Thrombosis Research found that new cases of VTE in the United States are responsible for $7 to $10 billion in direct medical costs yearly.

This amount is similar to the entire annual budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the federal agency charged with protecting and promoting the public health of our nation. Added to this are the downstream costs for patients who develop recurrent VTE and the complications of post-thrombotic syndrome, or pulmonary hypertension.

VTE Prevention

The good news is that many, if not most, cases of VTE are preventable.

Start by understanding VTE risk factors:

  • Hospitalization
  • Surgery
  • Prolonged immobility
  • Cancer
  • Using estrogen-containing medications (birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy)

Also, certain genetic conditions, like the blood clotting disorder Factor V Leiden, predispose you to getting blood clots. Know your family history, especially its history of blood clots.

Be proactive. If you’re admitted to the hospital, or if you are having surgery, ask your doctor for a VTE risk assessment. Also ask whether you may be a candidate for preventive methods, such as anti-clotting medication (also known as blood thinners).

By being informed and engaging with your doctor and other health professionals, you can help reduce your risk of VTE, and in turn, help reduce the burden of death and disability from this largely preventable thrombosis disorder.

That is a wonderful gift to give yourself and your family. For more information, please visit our World Thrombosis Day site, which supports the World Health Assembly’s global target of a 25 percent drop in premature deaths from non-infectious diseases by 2025.

A middle-aged woman with polyarthritis and comorbid obesity

Submitted by Dr B Elliot Cole, Consultant, Pain Education; Former Medical Director, Shoals Hospital Senior Care Centre, Alabama; Former Executive Director, American Society of Pain Educators; and Former Director of Education, American Academy of Pain Management, USA.

In this case study, Dr B Elliot Cole describes the pain management of a middle-aged woman with polyarthritis and comorbid obesity. The patient responds well to treatment with buprenorphine transdermal patch 20 mg.

Donna is an obese 52-year-old woman with advanced osteoarthritis of her hands, knees, ankles and back. She presents with increasing pain for the past 3 years, stating she was told by an orthopedic surgeon that she must wait a few more years, until her pain is no longer controlled with medication, before she may have joint replacement surgery.

She describes pain as often 7 out of 10 (using a 0-to-10 scale, where 0 signifies no pain at all and 10 signifies the worst pain imagined). Pain is exacerbated by performing activities of daily living, including prolonged standing, lifting, walking, carrying objects, writing, doing household chores, bending forward at the waist and dressing. Pain is partially relieved with acetaminophen, ibuprofen, oxycodone, rest, hot showers for her back and ice packs for her knees. Pain limits her willingness to engage in an exercise program to assist with weight loss. Her pain management is complicated by her underlying medication-controlled type 2 diabetes mellitus and mild hypertension.

Donna is a high school-educated mother of three teenage children, living with her medically disabled husband who collects social security benefits. She and her husband have difficulty paying bills and buying medication.

She takes oxycodone/acetaminophen 5/325 mg qid, metformin 1,000 mg bid and lisinopril 20 mg od. She does not consume alcoholic beverages, has not received psychiatric services and denies use of illicit substances. She smokes 10 cigarettes a day.

Donna’s physical examination shows that she weighs 45% more than her ideal body weight, and her vital signs are normal (pulse, 78/min; blood pressure, 130/85 mmHg; respirations, 14/min; temperature, 37.0°C). Her head, neck and throat are unremarkable and her lungs are clear. Heart is regular in rate and rhythm; free of rubs and murmurs. The abdomen is pendulant, with normal bowel sounds, non-tender and free of masses and organ enlargement. Her spine shows cervical and lumbar lordosis, limited lumbar range of motion, and lumbar paraspinal muscle spasm bilaterally. There is no spinal tenderness. Knees are moderately swollen, with reduced range of motion and moderate crepitus bilaterally. There is 1+ pedal edema. Osteoarthritic changes are present in her hands.

Neurologically, she has normal strength in her extremities, with muted (1+) deep tendon reflexes at her knees and no reflexes present at her ankles. Sensation is diminished for temperature and vibration distally in her lower extremities, with normal pinprick vs light touch discrimination.

Donna is offered several options for medically managing her pain. She chooses to start once weekly topical buprenorphine transdermal patch 10 mg. Donna is started at 10 mg, not 5 mg, as she is already acclimated to opioid therapy, taking 20 mg of oxycodone daily, has moderate pain that ranges from 5 to 7 out of 10 (usually 6) and is expected to last indefinitely, and needs around-the-clock treatment. She is advised to continue oral oxycodone/paracetamol four times daily for the first day, thereafter limiting her use to ‘as needed for breakthrough pain’ to see how well the buprenorphine transdermal patch works, being advised that the maximum effect will occur after 72 hours of wear.

Donna is advised to continue the laxative therapy she has taken for oral oxycodone/paracetamol. She is told to change the buprenorphine transdermal patch site of application weekly, not to reuse any site before 21 days, avoid intense external heat, contact her physician if she develops a fever >39°C, and to watch for skin irritation at the site of application.

Donna returns on the 4th day of buprenorphine transdermal patch use reporting pain ranging from 4 to 6 out of 10, and usually 5. She denies significant opioid-related side effects (including constipation) and is free of skin irritation at the site of patch placement. Her patch strength is increased to 20 mg.

On the 8th day of buprenorphine transdermal patch use, Donna reports pain ranging from 3 to 5 out of 10, and usually 4. She has no significant opioid-related side effects, but notes redness at the site of the first patch application and mild itching at the site of the second patch. The skin is otherwise healthy and free of blisters. She is advised to apply cool compresses to the first application site, and apply a skin moisturizer and over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream. If itching is bothersome, she is told to take over-the-counter diphenhydramine 25 mg every 4 to 6 hours as tolerated. She continues with buprenorphine transdermal patch 20 mg, but is told to rotate to the third patch in 4 days using a new application site.

Donna returns on her 16th day of buprenorphine transdermal patch use. She is spontaneously smiling. Her pain ranges from 3 to 4 out of 10, and is usually 3. She has no significant opioid-related side effects. The over-the-counter diphenhydramine at bedtime stopped the itching, and moisturizer use and 1% over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream applied to application sites after patch removal has resolved the skin redness. She is told to continue using the 20 mg buprenorphine transdermal patches and to return in 30 days for further medication and monitoring.

– See more at:

Any Exercise Benefits Kids’ Heart Health

Their study found that children and teens who got more moderate to vigorous physical exercise daily than their peers had better cholesterol levels, blood pressure and weight, which are important for long-term health.

“Parents, schools and institutions should facilitate and promote physical activity of at least moderate intensity in all children and be less concerned about the total amount of time spent sedentary, at least in relation to these cardiovascular risk factors,” said study author Ulf Ekelund, group leader of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Program at the Institute of Metabolic Science in Cambridge, England.

“We demonstrated that higher levels of physical activity of at least moderate intensity — equal to brisk walking — are associated with [improving] many cardiovascular disease risk factors, regardless of the amount of time these children spent sedentary,” he said.

For example, those children who belonged to the most active group had a smaller waist than those in the least active group, he said.

“In adults, this difference is associated with an about 15 percent increased relative risk of premature death,” Ekelund said.

The type of activity is not important as long as the intensity is at least equal to brisk walking, Ekelund said. Possibilities include outdoor play, bicycling, dancing, aerobics, walking and playing team sports.

However, the positive benefits of exercise don’t necessarily counteract the harmful effects of a couch-potato lifestyle, he said. “There may be specific sedentary behaviors, such as TV viewing, that impose health risks as TV viewing is linked to other unhealthy behaviors [such as snacking]. Therefore, limiting TV time is still important for children’s health and well-being,” Ekelund said.

The report was published in the Feb. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For the study, the researchers pooled information from 14 studies involving more than 20,000 children, aged 4 to 18, obtained from an international children’s database. A motion sensor measured total activity and time spent sedentary and in moderate and vigorous intensity activity. The actual activities they engaged in were not recorded.

Overall, three-quarters of the children were of normal weight, 18 percent were overweight and 7 percent were obese. They spent an average of 30 minutes per day in some form of moderate to vigorous exercise and 354 minutes a day — or nearly six hours — sedentary.

Boys and girls who exercised more than 35 minutes a day had lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar, lower triglycerides and were thinner than children who exercised less than 18 minutes a day, Ekelund’s group noted.

Average waist size differed by more than two inches between the most active and least active children and teens. And those with the largest waist size at the study’s start were the least active at two years’ follow-up.

Samantha Heller, an exercise physiologist and clinical nutrition coordinator of the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn., said that “there is absolutely no reason for our children to be fat, sedentary and at risk for cardiovascular disease.”

“Exercise, in whatever form it takes, is fantastic for children and teens — and adults,” she said.

Even children who are not cut out for competitive sports, have the innate need to be physically active, Heller said.

“Parents and caregivers need to limit tech time — computers, iPads, texting, TV — and let kids be kids, running around playing,” she said.

Grown-ups must get involved too, Heller said. “They can jump rope, play tag and throw the Frisbee with the children. Kids will do better in school, develop social skills, enhance coordination, [and] be happier and healthier for it.”

Not Enough Kids Drink Low-Fat Milk

Drinking milk is important for children’s bone health, but CDC experts advise that although young people need the calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients found in milk, children aged 2 and older should consume low-fat milk and milk products to avoid unnecessary fat and calories.

The research, published in a CDC report titled “Low-fat Milk Consumption Among Children and Adolescents in the United States, 2007-2008,” showed that about 73 percent of children and teens drink milk, but only about 20 percent of them say they usually drink low-fat milk (skim or 1 percent).

Meanwhile, the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey also revealed that about 45 percent drink reduced-fat milk (2 percent) and 32 percent reported they drink whole milk regularly.

Older children and teens drink low-fat milk more often than younger children. Although 13 percent of kids aged 2 to 5 usually drink low-fat milk, 21 percent of kids aged 6 to 11 years said they do, along with 23 percent of teens aged 12 to 19.

Ethnicity and income also seem to play a role in the type of milk children consume. White children drink low-fat milk more often than black or Hispanic children. About 28 percent of the white participants said low-fat milk was their usual milk type, compared to just 5 percent of blacks and 10 percent of Hispanics. Meanwhile, children and teens in the highest income category reported drinking low-fat milk more often than those in the lowest income group.

In summary, the authors of the report wrote: “The overall low consumption of low-fat milk suggests the majority of children and adolescents do not adhere to recommendations by Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 and the American Academy of Pediatrics for all children aged 2 years and over to drink low-fat milk. Recently, First Lady Michelle Obama’s ‘Lets Move!’ campaign and ‘The Surgeon Generals Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation 2010’ have recommended promoting water and low-fat milk and reducing sugar-sweetened beverages as components of comprehensive obesity prevention strategies.”

For joggers, less may be more

Jogging is one of those activities that seem to perfectly embody the concept of healthy physical activity. I know people who run for an hour or more a day. I admire their commitment to physical activity and sometimes envy their seeming good health. But a new study from Denmark has me rethinking the benefits of strenuous jogging.

Researchers with the ongoing Copenhagen City Heart Study have been following the health of more than 1,000 joggers and 400 healthy but inactive non-joggers. Between 2001 and 2014, 156 of these study participants died. Using the death rate of the sedentary non-joggers as a point of comparison, the researchers found that the death rate of light joggers was 90% lower than that of the non-joggers, while that of moderate joggers was about 60% lower. Here’s the big surprise: the death rate for strenuous joggers was no different than that of sedentary non-joggers. This kind of relationship is known as a U-shaped curve (see figure).In this study, jogging for just an hour a week was associated with a significantly lower death rate. The most beneficial combination was jogging at a slow or moderate pace two to three times a week, for a total of 60 to 145 minutes across the week. These results were published in the

Exercise activation

This is just one study among hundreds that have looked at the link between exercise and mortality. It certainly isn’t a stop-the-presses kind of study, nor should this study alone change the current recommendations for physical activity — 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. But it does make me think about how much exercise, and what kind, is best.

The Copenhagen City Heart Study results certainly help debunk the “no pain, no gain” myth associated with exercise. Slow- to moderate-pace jogging for 20 minutes three times a week should be a no-pain activity for many, and comes with a clear gain.

The current U.S. exercise guidelines have some strong science behind them. But they are daunting to many people, leading some to forgo exercise entirely. The message from this study and others is that lower amounts of activity that are manageable as part of a normal lifestyle can still have significant health benefits.

I believe that physical activity is at the core of what is called health activation. This is a process in which an individual actively thinks more about his or her health and begins doing things to improve it. Becoming more physically active focuses a person’s attention on his or her health better than any other approach.

How do we get more people “activated”? Letting more of them know that even a little bit of activity is better than none is a step in that direction. And if the Copenhagen results hold up, we can walk or lightly jog in that direction, and need not run full tilt toward it.

Top 12 Strategies for Optimizing Your Health

#1. Add Sprouts to Your Diet

One of the most nutritious powerhouses to add to your diet are sprouts. They are an authentic “super” food that many overlook or have long stopped using. In addition to their nutritional profile, sprouts are also easy and fun to grow in your own home as they don’t require an outdoor garden.

They can contain up to 39 times the nutrition of organic vegetables grown in your own garden, and allow your body to extract more vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fats from the foods you eat. During sprouting, minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, bind to protein, making them more bioavailable.

Furthermore, both the quality of the protein and the fiber content of beans, nuts, seeds and grains improves when sprouted. The content of vitamins and essential fatty acids also increase dramatically during the sprouting process. Sunflower seed, broccoli and pea sprouts tend to top the list of all the seeds that you can sprout and are typically each about 30 times more nutritious than organic vegetables. While you can sprout a variety of different beans, nuts, seeds and grains, sprouts in general have the following beneficial attributes:

  • Support for cell regeneration
  • Powerful sources of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and enzymes that protect against free radical damage
  • Alkalinizing effect on your body, which is thought to protect against disease, including cancer (as many tumors are acidic)
  • Abundantly rich in oxygen, which can also help protect against abnormal cell growth, viruses and bacteria that cannot survive in an oxygen-rich environment
Planting and Harvesting Sprouts at Home

I used to grow sprouts in Ball jars over 10 years ago but stopped doing that. I am strongly convinced that actually growing them in soil is far easier and produces far more nutritious and abundant food. It is also less time consuming. With Ball jars, you need to rinse them several times a day to prevent mold growth. Trays also take up less space. I am now consuming one whole tray you see below every 2-3 days and to produce that much food with Ball jars, I would need dozens of jars.

I am in the process of compiling more specific detailed videos for future articles but I thought I would whet your appetite and give you a preview with the photos below.

My two favorites are pea and sunflower sprouts. They provide some of the highest quality protein you can eat. Sprouted sunflower seeds also contain plenty of iron and chlorophyll, the latter of which will help detoxify your blood and liver. Of the seeds, sunflower seeds are among the best in terms of overall nutritional value, and sprouting them will augment their nutrient content by as much as 300 to 1,200 percent! Similarly, sprouting peas will improve the bioavailability of zinc and magnesium.

I have been sprouting them now for a few months and they have radically improved the nutrition of my primary meal, which is a comprehensive salad at lunch. They are a perfect complement to fermented vegetables. My current salad consists of about half a pound of sunflower sprouts, four ounces of fermented vegetables, half a large red pepper, several tablespoon of raw organic butter, some red onion, a whole avocado and about three ounces of salmon or chicken. It is my primary meal. In the late afternoon, I typically only have macadamia nuts and coconut candy in addition to drinking 16-32 ounces of green vegetable juice. I break it up occasionally by going to a restaurant with friends.

#2. Make Fermented Vegetables a Daily Staple

The importance of your gut flora and its influence on your health cannot be overstated. Your gut is home to countless bacteria, both beneficial and pathogenic. These bacteria outnumber the cells in your body by at least 10 to one, and maintaining the ideal balance of good and bad bacteria forms the foundation for good health – physical, mental and emotional. In fact, your gut literally serves as your second brain, and even produces more of the neurotransmitter serotonin than your brain does.

Cultured or fermented foods are essential for maintaining a healthy gut. The culturing process produces beneficial microbes, also known as probiotics, which help balance your intestinal flora. Fermented foods are also some of the best chelators available, capable of drawing out a wide range of toxins and heavy metals. Just a quarter to a half a cup of fermented vegetables per day is sufficient for most people. Ideally, you’ll want to include a variety of fermented or cultured foods, as each food will inoculate your gut with a variety of different microorganisms.

To learn how to easily ferment your own vegetables, see my interview with Caroline Barringer, a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and an expert in the preparation of the foods prescribed in Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) Nutritional Program. We are currently finishing some sophisticated DNA sequencing experiments on our new high dose vitamin K2 probiotic starter culture.

#3. Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels with Appropriate Sun Exposure

Vitamin D, once linked to only bone diseases such as rickets and osteoporosis, is now recognized as a major player in overall human health. There are only 30,000 genes in your body and vitamin D has been shown to influence over 2,000 of them. That’s one of the primary reasons it influences so many diseases, including diabetes, depression, heart disease and cancer, just to name a few. But while many focus on vitamin D supplementation, it’s important to realize that the IDEAL way to optimize your vitamin D level is not by taking a pill, but rather allowing your body to do what it is designed to do – create vitamin D from sun exposure (or a safe tanning bed). Sunlight is superior to supplements for a number of reasons:

  • It is natural. Our ancestors optimized their vitamin D levels by sun exposure, not by swallowing it in foods. Although vitamin D is in some animal foods, it is in relatively low quantities and to my knowledge there are no known ancestral populations that thrived on oral vitamin D sources
  • When you expose your skin to the sun, your skin also synthesizes high amounts of cholesterol sulfate, which is very important for cardiovascular health. In fact, Dr. Stephanie Seneff, believes that high LDL and associated heart disease may in fact be a symptom of cholesterol sulfate deficiency. Sulfur deficiency, in fact, also promotes obesity and related health problems like diabetes
  • Most experts believe you cannot overdose when getting your vitamin D from sun exposure, as your body has the ability to self-regulate production and only make what it needs
  • When taking a high dose vitamin D supplement, you also need to boost your intake of vitamin K2, either from food or a supplement, in order to maintain the proper ratio. These two nutrients work in tandem, and vitamin K2 deficiency is actually what produces the symptoms of vitamin D toxicity, which includes inappropriate calcification that can lead to hardening of your arteries
  • Sunlight has many additional health benefits unrelated to vitamin D production
#4. Intermittent Fasting

It’s long been known that calorie restriction can improve metabolic disease risk markers and increase the lifespan of certain animals. More recent research suggests that intermittent fasting can provide the same health benefits as constant calorie restriction, which may be helpful for those who cannot successfully reduce their everyday calorie intake. I believe it’s one of the most powerful interventions out there if you’re struggling with your weight and related health issues. One of the primary reasons for this is because it helps shift your body from burning sugar/carbs to burning fat as its primary fuel.

Research has also shown that fasting can boost your body’s production of human growth hormone (HGH) by as much as 1,300 percent in women and 2,000 percent in men. HGH, commonly referred to as “the fitness hormone,” plays an important role in maintaining health, fitness and longevity, including promotion of muscle growth, and boosting fat loss by revving up your metabolism. Other health benefits of intermittent fasting include:

Normalizing your insulin and leptin sensitivity, which is key for optimal health Improving biomarkers of disease
Normalizing ghrelin levels, also known as “the hunger hormone” Reducing inflammation and lessening free radical damage
Lowering triglyceride levels Preserving memory functioning and learning

A simple way to incorporate intermittent fasting into your lifestyle is to simply time your meals to allow for regular periods of fasting in between. To be effective, the length of your fast must be at least 16 hours. This means eating only between the hours of 11am until 7pm each day, as an example. Essentially, this equates to simply skipping breakfast, and making lunch your first meal of the day instead.

#5. Incorporate High Intensity Interval Training into Your Exercise Routine

Compelling and ever-mounting research shows that the ideal form of exercise is short bursts of high intensity exercise. Not only does it beat conventional cardio as the most effective and efficient form of exercise, it also provides health benefits you simply cannot get from regular aerobics, such as a tremendous boost in human growth hormone (HGH), aka the “fitness hormone,” which is essential for optimal health, strength and vigor.

HIIT has also been shown to significantly improve insulin sensitivity, boost fat loss, and increase muscle growth. Best of all, high intensity exercises are so efficient, you can get all the benefits you need in just a 20-minute session, start to finish, performed twice or a max of three times per week.

The key factor that makes interval training so effective is intensity. To reap maximum results, you need to work out at maximum intensity, with rest periods in between spurts. If you are using exercise equipment, I recommend using a recumbent bicycle or an elliptical machine for your high-intensity interval training, although you certainly can use a treadmill, or sprint anywhere outdoors. (Keep in mind that if you intend to sprint outside, be very careful about stretching prior to sprinting. Also, unless you are already an athlete, I would strongly advise against sprinting, as several people I know became injured doing it the first time that way.)

You can also modify your weight training routine to turn it into a high intensity exercise. This is done by slowing it down. The super-slow movement allows your muscle, at the microscopic level, to access the maximum number of cross-bridges between the protein filaments that produce movement in the muscle. To learn more, check out my interview with Dr. Doug McGuff – an emergency room physician who is also an expert in high-intensity interval training.

An important dietary adjunct that will help you get the most out of your high intensity training is to avoid fructose. If you consume sugar or fructose, especially within two hours post-exercise, you will increase somatostatin (also known as growth hormone-inhibiting hormone), which will in turn obliterate the production of growth hormone that you’d otherwise get from your high intensity exercise. So avoid commercial sports drinks, juices, enhanced water products and any other beverage containing fructose, and stick to pure water. If you need to replenish electrolytes, coconut water is an excellent alternative but it’s only recommended if you’re exercising intensely and sweating profusely. Otherwise, the high sugar content can be counterproductive.

#6. Get High Quality Sleep

Sleep is such an important part of your overall health that no amount of healthful food and exercise can counteract the ill effects of poor sleeping habits. Poor sleep has been linked to a number of health ailments, including short-term memory loss, behavioral problems, weight gain, diabetes, increased risk of heart disease and cancer. Sleep deprivation also prematurely ages you by interfering with your growth hormone production, normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep (and during high intensity Peak Fitness exercises discussed above). Growth hormone helps you look and feel younger.

Most people need somewhere around seven to eight hours of sleep per night, but sleep needs are highly individual, and tend to vary depending on your current state of health and stress levels as well. If you still feel sleepy upon waking or feel like you need a nap during the day, you’re probably not getting enough.

Whether you have difficulty falling asleep, waking up too often, or feeling inadequately rested when you wake up in the morning – or maybe you simply want to improve the quality of your sleep – I strongly recommend reviewing my special report on improving your sleep hygiene.

If you feel well-rested in the morning, that’s a good sign that your sleep habits are just fine. But if not, you might want to investigate your sleep patterns more closely. ZEO is an innovative sleep measurement device that allows you to perform a personalized ‘sleep study’ from the comfort of your own home. The beauty of this device is that it lets you evaluate how various factors affect your sleep. For example, you can evaluate how your sleep was affected by a cup of coffee in the afternoon, or how doing computer work past a certain hour impacted your sleep.

You could actually go through my 33 recommendations for improving your sleep and evaluate the effects of each one if you wanted to. I recommend using the less expensive mobile sleep manager as that will allow you scan your brainwaves without transmitting the data until the morning when you awake and manually transfer to your smart phone or tablet via Bluetooth.

#7. Get Grounded

Did you know the energy from the Earth can help you live a healthier life? The concept is known as earthing or grounding, which is nothing more than walking barefoot; grounding your body to the Earth. You can connect any part of your skin to the Earth, but one is especially potent, and that’s right in the middle of the ball of your foot; a point known to acupuncturists as Kidney 1 (K1). It’s a well-known point that conductively connects to all of the acupuncture meridians and essentially connects to every nook and cranny of your body.

Compelling research shows that lack of grounding has a lot to do with the rise of modern diseases.

When you’re grounded, there’s a transfer of free electrons from the Earth into your body. And these free electrons are probably the most potent antioxidants known to man. Any free radicals they encounter in your tissues will immediately be electrically neutralized. This occurs because the electrons are negative, while the free radicals are positive, so they cancel each other out.

Another very important discovery, and one of the most recent, is that grounding thins your blood, making it less viscous. This can have a profound impact on cardiovascular disease, which is now the number one killer in the world. Virtually every aspect of cardiovascular disease has been correlated with elevated blood viscosity. It can also help protect against blood clots.

The ideal location for walking barefoot is the beach, close to or in the water, as sea water is a great conductor. Your body also contains mostly water, so it creates a good connection. A close second would be a grassy area, especially if it’s covered with dew, which is what you’d find if you walk early in the morning. Concrete is a good conductor as long as it hasn’t been sealed; painted concrete does not allow electrons to pass through very well. Materials like asphalt, wood, and typical insulators like plastic or the soles of your shoes, will not allow electrons to pass through and are not suitable for barefoot grounding.

Exercising barefoot outdoors is one of the most wonderful, inexpensive and powerful ways of incorporating earthing into your daily life and will also help speed up tissue repair and ease muscle pain due to strenuous exercise.

#8. Drink Pure Water

Your body requires a constant daily supply of water to fuel all the various waste filtration systems nature has designed to keep your body healthy and free of toxins. Your blood, your kidneys, and your liver all require a source of good clean water to detoxify your body from the toxic exposures you come into contact with every day.

When you give your body water that is filled with toxins leached from plastic, by-products from chlorination, volatile organic compounds, or water that is contaminated by pesticides, fluoride, or prescription drugs, you are asking your body to work twice as hard at detoxification, because it must first detoxify the water you are drinking, before that water can be used to fuel your organs of detoxification!

Clearly, the most efficient way help your body both avoid and eliminate toxins is to provide your body with the cleanest, purest water you can find. This is easily done by installing one or more types of water filtration systems in your house.

If you could only afford one filter, there is no question in most experts’ minds that the shower filter is the most important product to buy for water filtration, even more important than filtering your tap water. This is because the damage you incur through your skin and lungs far surpasses the damage done by drinking water (which at least gives your body a fighting chance to eliminate the toxins through your organs of elimination).

An even better solution to the problem of harsh chemicals and toxins in your home’s water supply is to install a whole house water filtration system. There’s just one water line coming into your house. Putting a filter on this is the easiest and simplest strategy you can implement to take control of your health by ensuring the water and the air in your house is as clean as possible. To learn more about different types of water and water filtration systems, please see my special report on this topic.

#9. Limit Processed Foods and Replace Non-Veggie Carbs with Healthy Fats

Two of the most powerful dietary interventions I know of are 1) limiting or eliminating processed foods and 2) replacing non-vegetable carbohydrates and excess protein with healthful fats. Beneficial fats include avocados, coconut oil, olives, olive oil, butter and nuts. Wild Alaskan salmon is also a powerhouse of nutrition, providing critical omega-3 fats. As a general rule, when you cut down on carbs, you need to increase your fat consumption. Both are sources of much-needed energy, but fats are a source of energy that is far more ideal than carbohydrates. Replacing carbs with more protein is not a wise choice as it can produce similar adverse hormonal changes as burning non-vegetable carbs.

For a comprehensive guide on which foods to eat and which to avoid, see my nutrition plan. Generally speaking, you should be looking to focus your diet on whole, ideally organic and/or locally grown, unprocessed foods. For the best nutrition and health benefits, you will want to eat a good portion of your food raw.

Processed foods are notoriously high in fructose, not to mention artificial additives. All forms of sugar (but fructose in particular) have toxic effects when consumed in excess, and drive multiple disease processes in your body, not the least of which is insulin resistance, a major cause of chronic disease and accelerated aging. Replacing non-vegetable carbs with healthful fats will also optimize your insulin and leptin levels, which is key for maintaining a healthy weight and optimal health.

Most people eat far too much protein. Like many areas of health there is a “Goldilocks” dose that provides most of the benefits and minimal side effects. Dr. Rosedale believes that the ideal amount is about one gram per pound of lean body weight unless you are pregnant or doing competitive athletics. But that is a level that will more than supply your body’s amino acid needs without sacrificing your health.

#10. Avoid Toxins

Volumes of books could be written on modern day toxic exposures, but while it may be impossible to list every possibility, if you avoid the most notorious offenders, you’ll be way ahead of the game. In general, this includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives. In terms of specific toxins, some of the most hazardous yet commonly encountered ones include:

    • Mercury – found in dental amalgams and fish.
    • Fluoride – found in toothpaste, fluoridated water, and non-organic food (due to the widespread use of fluoride-based pesticides. For example, conventionally-grown iceberg lettuce can contain as much as 180 ppm of fluoride – 180 times higher than what’s recommended in drinking water).
    • EMFs.  Electromagnetic field exposures are becoming increasingly pervasive and they can interact unfavorably with your biology. So please review the many previous articles we have written on this subject to learn more.
    • Bisphenol-A (BPA) and Bisphenol-S (BPS) – Used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics, bisphenols are estrogen mimicking chemicals that can leach into food or drinks from the plastic containers holding them. These chemicals are known to be particularly dangerous for pregnant women, infants and children.

To avoid plastic toxins such as bisphenols, opt for glass over plastic, especially when it comes to products that will come into contact with food or beverages, or those intended for pregnant women, infants and children. This applies to canned goods as well, which are a major source of BPA (and possibly other chemicals) exposure, so whenever you can, choose jarred goods over canned goods, or opt for fresh instead. Another good idea is to ditch plastic teething toys for your little ones and choose natural wood or fabric varieties instead.

  • Phthalates – found in soft plastics such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), as well as many toiletries, including shampoo, toothpaste, and cosmetics. Phthalates is one of the most pervasive type of endocrine disrupting chemicals discovered so far, and have been linked to a wide range of developmental and reproductive “gender-bending” effects. Twelve tips for avoiding common sources of phthalates, see this previous article.
#11. Have Great Tools to Address Your Stress

Research has linked emotional stress to a wide variety of health problems, including physical pain, chronic inflammation,2 stillbirths,3 lowered immune function, increased blood pressure, altered brain chemistry, increased tumor growth4 and more. Even the conservative Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 85 percent of all disease has an emotional element.

Clearly, it is not possible or even recommended to eliminate stress entirely. However, you can work to provide your body with tools to compensate for the bioelectrical short-circuiting that can cause serious disruption in many of your body’s important systems. By using energy psychology techniques such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), you can reprogram how your body responds to the unavoidable stressors of everyday life so that “the little things” no longer pose such a great threat to your health.

Exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and meditation are also important “release valves” that can help you manage your stress. EFT is akin to acupuncture, which is based on the concept that a vital energy flows through your body along invisible pathways known as meridians. EFT stimulates different energy meridian points in your body by tapping them with your fingertips, while simultaneously using custom-made verbal affirmations. This can be done alone or under the supervision of a qualified therapist.5 Since these stressors are usually connected to physical problems, many people’s diseases and other symptoms can improve or disappear as well.

#12. Replace Drugs with Natural Alternatives that Address the Cause
Last but certainly not least, replacing drugs with natural alternatives, or better yet, addressing the lifestyle factors that are causing your health problem in the first place, are your best bets if you want to avoid becoming a disease- or pharmaceutical-mortality statistic.
Drugs are known to cause well over 125,000 deaths per year in the US when taken correctly as prescribed. This is not so surprising when you consider the average drug label lists 70 potential adverse reactions. Overall, drugs are 62,000 times more likely to kill you than nutritional supplements, and 7,750 times more likely to kill you than herbal remedies. According to the US National Poison Data System,6 the following drug categories are among the most lethal:
Analgesics, sedatives, hypnotics, and antipsychotics Cardiovascular drugs Opioids Acetaminophen combinations Antidepressants
Muscle relaxants Anti-inflammatories Antacids Anticoagulants Antihistamines
The vast majority of health problems are in fact responsive to appropriate lifestyle changes – the most important of which have been covered above. Type 2 diabetes, for example, is not only wholly preventable, it’s virtually 100 percent reversible through diet and exercise alone. Even cancer has been shown to be responsive to such measures. Scientists are seriously looking into a number of dietary treatment alternatives, such as ketogenic- and anti-angiogenesis-type diets.
For example, research led by Dr. Dominic D’Agostino has found that when lab animals are fed a carb-free diet, they survive highly aggressive metastatic cancer better than those treated with chemotherapy. The reason a ketogenic diet can have such a dramatic (and rapid) effect on cancer is because all of your body’s cells are fueled by glucose. This includes cancer cells. However, cancer cells have one built-in fatal flaw – they do not have the metabolic flexibility of your regular cells and cannot adapt to use ketone bodies for fuel as all your other cells can.
So, when you alter your diet and become what’s known as “fat-adapted,” your body starts using fat for fuel rather than carbs. When you switch out the carbs for healthy fats, you starve the cancer out, as you’re no longer supplying the necessary fuel – glucose – for their growth. Intermittent fasting, discussed above, is one of the most powerful ways I know of to become fat adapted.