Monday, July 31, 2006

Avoid the rush

One of the most important things you can do to help control your weight is to keep your blood sugar from spiking. In other words, avoid the sugar rush. A sudden increase in blood sugar means an increase in insulin production. Pretty soon you have an insulin spike. From what I've read, insulin is one of the triggers for fat production. See now why you want to avoid that spike?

Eating things like white bread or candy result in sugar spikes. But this doesn't mean you have to cut them from your diet (though that would be the recommended path, we all know how unrealistic it is to go cold turkey like that). There are two things you can consume with your sugar-laden food to help reduce the resulting spike -- protein and fiber.

Protein helps to balance out your sugar levels, sort of like diluting the sugar's level of concentration. Peanutbutter, milk, nuts, cheese, beef jerky... these are great sources of protein that you can eat immediately before or after your sugary item. I keep nuts with me at work all the time. Sometimes we have cake in the office for birthdays and such, so just before (or just after) having a slice, I'll eat several almonds or peanuts. This will help level out the sugar that will no doubt be coursing through my veins.

Fiber also helps to "dilute" the sugar levels by slowing down digestion. White breads break down much more quickly than whole wheat. So if you have a choice, get the whole grains over the refined carbs.

It's a matter of wise food choices. Avoid that donut if you can, but if you really need to have one, try to balance it with some protein. Have a glass of milk with it. By avoiding the sugar rush, you'll also be avoiding the inevitable sugar crash later.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Water's Role in Cultural Stress

The final part of our "Cultural Stress" series relates to water and its role in stress's wear and tear on your body. After reading this, you'll finally understand why you often get sick or feel run down when you're stressed out.

Working with over 1,200 patients, Dr. Murad has discovered that water is the key to many of the health concerns that stem from "Cultural Stress". Calling this discovery the "Water Principle®", Dr. Murad notes that when "Cultural Stress" hits, cell walls are damaged, causing the water that keeps them functioning to escape. This water loss has a myriad effect. It causes cells and connective tissue to break down, which prevents the heart, lungs, brain and other organs from functioning at optimal levels. To encourage more water into the cells, and strengthen the cell walls to keep the water inside, there are three main components that need to be addressed:

  • Protect the barrier function of skin topically by using plant based lipids to protect the skin's barrier.
  • Put the right nutrients in the body in the form of food and supplements including; Lecithin, which is found in soy, eggs, and spinach and is a major component of cell membranes.
  • Emotional self-care with physical activity, personal touch and in person contact to reduce stress & isolation.

Dr. Murad goes on to say that "Cultural Stress" is a part of living, but doesn't have to overtake life. Dr. Murad challenges patients to take responsibility for the amount of stress in their lives and find ways to reduce it with the "Water Principle" in mind.

This article was borrowed from a press release, so it wouldn't be right for me leave out the credits for the man behind the article...

Howard Murad, M.D., is a board-certified dermatologist, pharmacist, researcher and Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology at UCLA. Dr. Murad oversees the Murad Inclusive Health® Center, the Murad Medical Spa, Murad Medical Group, and the Murad Research Laboratory, all based in Southern California. He is an active member of the American Academy of Dermatology, The American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, The American Medical Association, The Pacific Dermatology Society and The Noah Worcester Society.

Dr. Murad was instrumental in changing the fields of skincare and dermatology. He currently holds 17 patents with several more pending. As a successful author, Dr. Murad has written two books and published nearly one hundred articles on topical, internal and emotional health, and their relationship to the skin. At the core of his research his Water Principle® science that identifies cellular water loss as the final common pathway to all aging and disease.

For more information please call 1-800-33MURAD or visit

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Cultural Stress - Part 2

To continue the article I was talking about in the last post, various things contribute to the manifestation of stress...

Dr. Murad says "Cultural Stress" presents itself in three facets:

  • Externally -- With extreme skin dehydration, that results in inflammation, hyper pigmentation, dullness and adult acne.
  • Internally -- Americans eat quickly and often times badly, with 46% of food expenditures on unhealthy fast foods. Poor diet and lack of sleep results in a decrease in efficient brain function and a rapid decline in creativity. Deficiency in foods rich with Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA-3) leads to various ailments including stress; lack of Omega 3's in food may aid in depression. "The saying you are what you eat is true and extends to your thoughts -- which are directly connected to what you eat," says Dr. Murad.
  • Emotionally -- Blackberrys, cell phones and ipods are all communication tools to stay more connected. However Dr. Murad's notes patients come in, complaining of feeling alone and isolated, while hooked up to them. "Keeping up with the fast pace of life means people aren't talking, aren't touching, and aren't communicating with the all important personal touch. This has a direct effect on our emotional health".

And studies echo Dr. Murad's findings. A recent Los Angeles Times article reports Americans have fewer close friends than they did almost two decades ago. "Longer work hours, lengthier commutes and the substitution of Internet connections for live ones ... contributed to the breakdown of social networks."

"Cultural Stress", says Dr. Murad starts young. "It's a vicious and escalating cycle. New parents are anxious about getting their child into the best preschool, placing said unborn child on a waiting list. Once in school, pressure increases, with scheduled play dates and extra-curricular activities. This cycle, to constantly keep up and do better, inducts children early into a culture of stress. Coupled with school, work and increasing affluence, children grow into adults facing the far-reaching effects of 'Cultural Stress'. Trying to keep up with more activities requires more money, resulting in longer hours spent at work." According to a U.S. government report, Americans now put in more hours on the job, than workers in any other nation.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Cultural Stress - Part 1

Stress is something that wears on your health, slowly but surely. You may not feel its immediate effects, but long-term it can really damage your well-being.

I found this great article by a well known dermatologist. It's about something he calls "cultural stress". I'll break it up into pieces since long posts scare off readers.
There is a new form of stress permeating daily life, affecting the entire body, and creating serious health problems inside and out. Coined by Howard Murad, M.D., dermatologist, researcher, and Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology at UCLA, "Cultural Stress(TM)" is distinguishable in that it is all pervasive and cumulative. Mentally and emotionally disruptive, "Cultural Stress" plays havoc on physical well-being. According to Dr. Murad, it is a societal crisis; some researchers believe responsible for 90% of health problems experienced, including heart disease, cancer and lung ailments.

We don't pay enough attention to the amount of damage each daily instance of stress has on the body. Each stressor alone is relatively insignificant, but when these individual stressors become frequent patterns, our health deteriorates. I call this 'Cultural Stress'," explains Dr. Murad. Whether work deadlines, supermarket lines, traffic, computer isolation or financial concerns, he notes they all contribute to the stability of an individual's well-being.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Buddy on Demand

I've been reading about this idea. I'm not sure if it's in production or not, but it's kinda funny. By flipping a switch a driver can have an instant passenger. Women can make it appear they have a male companion in the car to deter attackers. The way I see it, more people will likely abuse it for carpool lane use. I wonder if the insurance company that thought of this thought of that?

It's an outfit called Sheila's Wheels and apparently they provide quotes for all 50 states. I've personally never heard of them, but I guess you can get an auto insurance quote either on their website or through their call center.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Join the modern world already

When I'm standing in a grocery store line, I am forever annoyed at the people who are still fumbling with their checkbooks. In this electronic day and age, why are these people still using pen and paper? Have these people not heard of credit cards? Even if they don't have a credit card, debit cards are just as handy these days and work just as well as credit cards.

I personally hate to carry around more than $20 in cash. I usually have less. I can use cards practically anywhere, and it's so much more convenient than counting out the change. Besides, when used responsibly, credit cards actually help your credit history. They help when you're in a jam and don't have enough cash to get that car repair done. They're easy to cancel when they get stolen, unlike cash. Some places you can't even get service if you don't have a card! Why would you not have one?

So people, please quit annoying me by getting ahead of me in the grocery line and dragging out that damn checkbook. Join the modern world and use a card already.

Monday, July 10, 2006


I was reading about legends behind the Hope diamond (a huge, rare, blue diamond). Apparently it was stolen from the statue of a Hindu goddess and it's been bad luck for all who have tried to benefit from it. The original thief was supposedly torn to pieces by wild dogs right after selling it. Eww. Creepy, if it's true.

I don't understand the whole hype about diamonds. Why are they worth so much? Because they're hard to find? Good restaurants are hard to find but I don't see people making such a big deal about it.

But I suppose if you need to get one, for whatever reason, you shouldn't pay full retail price. I'd pick a diamond jewelry store with discounted prices. And whatever you do, don't try to buy the Hope diamond from the museum it was donated to. I don't think you want that curse.