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New Study: Grapefruit Juice Reduces Weight Gain, Blood Sugar & Insulin

According to a new study, drinking grapefruit juice appears to help lower fasting blood glucose and insulin levels, both of which tend to be good things.grapefruit juice

The same study also showed that when subjects (mice in this case), drank grapefruit juice, they didn’t gain as much weight as the control group.

On one hand, this is cool stuff.  On the other hand, all of this occurred while the mice were on a high-fat diet designed to make them gain weight.  So it’s not necessarily that grapefruit juice will help you lose weight, but it may help you get fat more slowly – ha, but true.

And let’s also keep this study in perspective in that the subject were mice, and the study was financially supported by The California Grapefruit Growers Cooperative.  I’m not saying that affected the outcome, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Common Sense Look at What this Study Should Tell Us

Please don’t think grapefruit is the missing link to your fat loss woes….I assure you it’s not.

But this study does shine some light on how there are evidently some compounds (aka neutraceuticals) in grapefruit juice that have anti-glycemic (blood glucose lowering) effects.  To quote the authors – “…the fact remains that GFJ (grapefruit juice) contains a compound or compounds other than naringin with health-promoting properties.”  (FYI, naringin is a bioflavonoid found in grapefruit.)

In general, we should eat more foods made by God/Mother Nature and less foods made by man.  This study, yet again, illustrates this fact.

Your friend in fitness,

Dr Clay

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Treating Hypertension (high blood pressure) through Diet and Exercise

Question:

I know you are not a cardiologist, but I respect your experience and your opinion on health related topics.

Can you recommend any books/publications on treating hypertension through diet & exercise?

Thanks again,

Kyle

Answer:

I would love to see a good book on treating hypertension (HTN) via diet & exercise!  However, I don’t know that one single book fits the bill.  If it’s out there, I haven’t seen it.

I’d actually love to write that book, and it’s actually in my pipeline of things to get around to in the not-so-distant future.  Meanwhile… [Read more...]

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What is BDNF? Overview of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor

I absolutely LOVE learning new stuff! Especially if that ‘stuff’ has to do with making this human machine (body & brain) of ours work better.

Last year while reading Spark, by Dr John Ratey, I came across something I had never even heard of, much less knew anything about – brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF for short.

And when I find out there’s something out there I don’t know anything about, I typically can’t help but start researching the topic.  (unless we’re talking history, geography, politics, or celebrity gossip…I’m good leaving those alone – ha)

As I begin learning more about BDNF, I have found this topic simply fascinating!  And I really think BDNF is something that will be more-or-less a household name a few years down the road.

I’ve found myself wanting to share with you what I’m learning about this mysterious thing we called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, but let me not put the cart before the horse.  Allow me to first give you an overview of BDNF and what it does.  Then I’ll come back and talk more later about it (and how to increase your BDNF levels).

What is BDNF and what does is do?

Let me give you my down ‘n dirty definition (which means very basic and informal):

BDNF is a chemical secreted by the brain.  (how’s that for concise?)

As the name implies, BDNF is a chemical (specifically a protein, much like insulin or growth hormone) that helps nerves (neuro) grow (trophic).

BDNF is a protein secreted by the brain that helps nerves grow…but is does a LOT more than just that!

Here are some of the characteristics of BDNF:

  • supports & increases new nerve cell growth

    Two thumbs up for BDNF!

  • helps maintain existing nerve cells
  • has important role in learning & memory
  • protects nerves from oxidative stress (free radicals)
  • helps support insulin sensitivity & blood glucose regulation
  • decreases depression
  • increases fat loss (that got my attention, too!)

NOW you see why I’ve been so interested in the topic of BDNF!  I mean really…one chemical in our brain helps us be smarter, happier, and maybe even leaner?  How can one not be interested in BDNF?!

Of particular interest to me (and probably to you) is exactly how we can increase BDNF levels in our brains.  Well, let’s come back to that (partly as to not overload you right now, and partly because my stomach is growling and I’m STARVING! ….which, ironically, is increasing my BDNF levels…but doesn’t seem to be making me any happier :( )

Meanwhile, if you’re a nerd like me and love to read, I HIGHLY recommend the book, Spark!  It ain’t easy readin’, but it’ll help you git purty smart.  (ok, my blood glucose is dropping into the delirious zone)

Your friend in (brain) fitness,

Dr Clay

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3 Simple Tips to Start Getting in Shape!

I was a guest on Faith Today yesterday and was asked the oh-so-common question “What are two or three things we can do to start getting in shape?”

To be honest, I don’t like questions like this, simply because they are so vague, thus I don’t know where to begin.  Yet at the same time, I would be asking the same question if I were the one looking to gain information.  So, of course, I’m happy to answer.

And since this seems to be a question that many people have, I thought I’d take a moment to answer it here.

Please keep in mind that if you ask me this question at a later date, I will give likely give a (slightly) different answer, simply because there is no single answer to this question…there are many.

With that being said, here’s are three tips that come to mind right now:

3 Simple Tips for Getting in Shape

1. Find an Active Hobby

What I mean by that is – find something that you enjoy doing that is active, as in it gets you moving, gets your heart rate up, and makes you sweat.

Sure, that hobby can be weight-training, that’s obvious.  But to many people, that’s simply not fun.  No worries, find something else.

For example, two things that I’ve done lately that absolutely wore me out were playing Tennis and racing/riding BMX bicycles.  I worked up SUCH a great sweat doing both, and likewise burned a LOT of calories, yet I never even thought about them being exercise…they were simply fun things to do.

Find your own hobby (or hobbies) that give you a great workout, yet that you enjoy doing.  This is KEY to making fitness fun, and for being fit for a lifetime!

It's ok to make your exercise fun :)

2. Read Food Labels

Most people that aren’t in good shape don’t read the label of the food they put in their mouths.  Much like a little kid who covers their own eyes to hide from you, we tend to act as though if we don’t look at the label, somehow, as if by magic, the excess junky calories won’t adversely affect us.  WRONG!

Instead of burying your head in the sand, read the label of the food you put in your mouth, paying special attention to the grams of sugar and fat.

I suspect you’ll end up putting much of that junk right back where it came from as opposed to in your mouth. ;)

 

3. Weigh & Measure Yourself Regularly

Too often we find ourselves suddenly out of shape.  But I assure you, it didn’t happen all of the sudden like it seems.

That’s why I recommend monitoring your weight and/or measuring your waist on a fairly regular basis – every 2 weeks if you’re really serious, but at least once per month (i.e. the 1st day of each month).

This way you’ll notice each month if your physique is heading in the wrong direction.  For example, if you gain 1/2 inch on your waist, you know you’ve been slipping somewhere, either on your eating, exercise, or both.

Only by monitoring your body (remember you only get ONE) will you know if and when you’re packing on some lbs of fat.  But I assure you, it’s better to know than to be oblivious and find yourself “suddenly” 50 lbs over weight.

Your friend in fitness,

Dr Clay

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Compound in Cosmic Dust Boosts Energy…Seriously!

Taking something found in cosmic dust – as in outer space – has been shown to boost production of energy-producing mitochondria found in most cells.

No, this is not a belated April Fool’s joke or elaborate intellectual fiction on my part… this is true stuff!  As they say, the truth is often stranger than fiction.

The seemingly magic ingredient in question is called Pyrroloquinoline Quinone, or PQQ for short.

PQQ has been identified as potentially being a compound found in interstellar or cosmic dust. (1)  If this turns out to be true, then that means PQQ has literally “been around forever!”

Although it’s neat trivia that this PQQ compound may literally be found in outer space, what does it do and should you take it?

 

What is PQQ & What Does It Do?

PQQ is similar to CoQ10 (coenzyme Q10/ubiquinone) in that it acts as an antioxidant and helps protect and repair mitochondria.  As our understanding of aging improves, it’s becoming clear that having healthy mitochondria is vitally important to not only producing energy in terms of feeling good, but also in terms health, wellness, and anti-aging.

PQQ for healthy mitochondria

Healthy Mitochondria are Vitally Important!

In other words, much like you have to take care of your car’s engine so that it produces power as it should, you need healthy mitochondria to provide the cellular energy to live a long healthy life. Taking PQQ may help that.

One of the most exciting things about PQQ is that it not only supports the maintenance of healthy mitochondria, but PQQ has been shown to also stimulate the formation of new mitochondria! (2)  About the only other things shown to stimulate the body to make new mitochondria are certain types of exercise and long-term calorie restriction.

“PQQ has been shown to also stimulate the formation of new mitochondria!”

Forming new mitochondria is undoubtedly incredibly beneficial, because it means that each cell can then efficiently produce more energy (ATP).  Think of adding mitochondria as similar to adding horsepower to your car or a faster processor to your computer.

Anti-aging (or longevity if you prefer) experts tend to agree that having plenty of healthy mitochondria is not only important for living a long time, but having good energy while you are alive.  I guess you could say lots of healthy mitochondria may add years to your life and life to your years.

 

PQQ Supplementation & Dosage 

PQQ Plus by Douglas Labs

Although there’s not yet enough information on PQQ to precisely determine the optimal dose, the Life Extension Foundation (who’s opinion I respect) recommends taking 10mg of PQQ twice per day (with or without food), for a total of 20mg of PQQ per day.

Life Extension Foundation PQQ Dosage:

  • 10mg 2 x/day (20mg/day)

 

PQQ Safety & Side Effects

As of this time, there don’t seem to be any side effects from taking PQQ, other than possibly an upset stomach (which is a potential side effect for pretty much every supplement or drug).

 

PQQ Summary

As with any supplement, simply taking PQQ does not mean that you’ll immediately and always have incredible energy and live to be 100.  But it does seem that PQQ is going to pan out to be a compound (arguably ‘nutrient’) that benefits the human body in a number of ways.

And that means get ready for the ridiculous ad headlines that inevitably follow like “Super Strength Star Dust Extract Reverses Aging!”

Although the charlatans and snake oil salesmen will over-hype pyrroloquinoline quinone like they do every other supplement, taking supplemental PQQ – even in addition to CoQ10 – is probably a good idea, especially for those over 35 or 40 year of age.

 

Resources:

Here are a couple of good quality PQQ supplements I found.  In other words, when I do take decide to take a PQQ supplement (soon, btw), I will be ordering one of these two:

 

References:

(1) Potential physiological importance of pyrroloquinoline quinone. Altern Med Rev. 2009 Sep;14(3):268-77.
(2) Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Stimulates Mitochondrial Biogenesis through cAMP Response Element-binding Protein Phosphorylation and Increased PGC-1α Expression. J Biol Chem 2010 Jan 1;285:142-52