Archive for October, 2011

Water fresh

Delicious pan-cooked freshwater fish with sautéed veggies, mixed greens, julienne cucumbers, and halved grape tomatoes…garnished simply with parsley, coriander, black pepper, and lemon. Learn about our guidelines for healthy natural nutrition and how to make delicious salad meals via our popular article Perfect Salad Meals or through the Natural Eating section of HumanaNatura’s comprehensive Personal Health Program.

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Nurture thyself

Do you like the genes nature gave you? Though we perhaps all might like to make a few tweaks, the truth is that most of us have perfectly good genes – ones that will not keep us from long, healthy, and fulfilling modern lives – if we will simply and naturally nurture ourselves and our health, today and every day throughout our lives.

A great case in point comes from a new and quite large statistical analysis conducted by researchers at McMaster University in Ontario. The analysis was based on nearly 30,000 people worldwide who answered a lifestyle questionnaire and provided genetic information. In the study, the research team found that eating patterns were more strongly correlated with long-term heart health than the presence of specific genetic patterns known to increase cardiovascular risks.

The newest research can be seen as part of a growing body of related findings – covering most non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and many aspects of our cognitive health and well-being – that highlights the power and importance of lifestyle and choice, and an only secondary influence of our genes on healthy lifelong functioning. This important network of research confirms something we all know deep down, in the developed world at least: that we normally now have substantial power to control and increase our health and quality of life through our choices and actions.

Learn more about the new heart health research at Veggies May Outpower Genes. Explore the growing science of lifestyle patterns and their impact on health risks through the analyses contained in the World Health Organization’s new NCD Prevention & Control Campaign.

If you are ready to take new control of your genes and actively nurture yourself toward greater health and well-being, you can begin anytime and create a remarkable health-centered life via HumanaNatura’s four science-based natural health techniques and our complete, open-ended, and lifelong Personal Health Program.

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Supplement news

A tough few days for the supplement industry last week. You may have read the news reports. One newly published study found that, in a large observational sampling of women over 60, those who took a multivitamin had a higher death rate than those who didn’t. And another new piece of research, this time involving a ten-year clinical trial, concluded that men over 55 taking vitamin E are more likely to develop prostate cancer.

To be fair, the first study has methodological shortcomings – there was no adjustment for initial health levels or use of a placebo – and the second one has a limited scope. But both are important reminders of a little secret underlying the global supplement industry: there is almost no science validating the many hypotheses that taking supplements is a good idea. Add to this a bit of new evidence suggesting the practice may not be as benign as many people previously thought, including food and drug regulators, and it really was a bad week all around for the industry.

HumanaNatura remains open to scientific research showing clear net benefits from specific supplement regimes. But perhaps like you, we have been waiting for this evidence for a while and there have been many studies seeking to find reliable and scientifically-valid supplementation strategies during this time.

Today, based on available science, we recommend two and only two nutritional supplements for adults (and none for children) using our natural health system, and both only on the advice of your physician: 1) a daily vitamin D supplement if you have inadequate sun exposure and low circulating levels of this critical vitamin-hormone, and 2) a daily low-dose aspirin, given its low-cost, limited risk of side-effects, and strong correlation with reduced cardiovascular disease and lowered large-organ cancers (both findings via randomized clinical trials).

Given the new studies and pervasiveness of supplement use (by roughly half of North American adults), many medical experts have been in the news on the topic of supplementation these last few days. By an informal reading, it appears most are saying to save your money, unless you have a known vitamin deficiency, and to focus instead on healthy eating, exercise, and lifestyle. As we have suggested, there is a lot of science upon which to base this advice.

Before you take or buy another supplement, learn more about the new studies via three news articles on the topic – Dietary Supplements RiskyShould You Take Vitamins, and Is It Time To Stop – and review HumanaNatura’s Supplement Guidelines (Item #7) in our comprehensive, science-based Personal Health Program.

Photo Courtesy of Wyeth Centrum

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Nutrition first

A new and nicely done article in The Independent discusses a common personal experience – finding that exercise alone will not make us naturally lean, healthy, and fit. The article includes the math and some of the science that explains why this so. The bottom line: we limit our natural fitness when we jump to exercise and do not first attend to the foundations of our natural health, especially food quality and quantity.

In practice, poor eating creates a high barrier to realizing our health and fitness potential, one that exercise usually cannot run over or around. This is in part because unnatural eating generally means excessive and unbalanced eating…often in the form of too many calorie-rich and artery-clogging fats, and too many fat-building and hunger-stoking carbohydrates.

Unnatural eating also brings foods into our diet that we are not evolved to eat, displacing natural foods required for fitness and leading to metabolic distortions that reduce our physiological health before we go out the door or to the gym. And, as the new article points out, most exercise increases rather than decreases hunger, which can ironically compound our fitness gap if our health promotion efforts did not begin by ensuring healthy natural nutrition.

Check out the new article at Does Running Make You Fat and see how HumanaNatura places natural nutrition before natural exercise in the overview to our four-part Personal Health Program.

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Healthy fish fry

Shot this photo for our updated Meals page in the early morning sun and then had the meal for breakfast. Delicious and photogenic, but we decided not to use, so here it is re-purposed to make a specific point: you can enjoy fried fish and have your health too. Our model-meal was prepared with wild-caught bass that was pan-fried with a bit of olive oil, red onion, and seasonings. It is served with mixed greens, julienne-cut celery, whole grape tomatoes, diced figs…and garnished with sunflower seeds, parsley, coriander, and black pepper. We hope this beautiful meal is health-inspiring, and that you will check our new page tabs. They’re still being developed but you’ll get where we’re going.

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Happy stumbling

New research by a team at University College in London adds to a growing field of investigation demonstrating important life-limiting Cognitive Biases in humans. This general field holds that since our brains were evolved primarily for survival and reproduction in nature, and in any case not as perfect perceiving and thinking instruments, they should be subject to various limitations – potentially leading to undesirable and unconscious quirks in our natural functioning. Already, this idea has been well-validated, underscoring that human wisdom and optimality have always required and will continue to require considerable personal and collective effort. Put another way, the natural flow of our minds and groups can be expected to lead us along a stumbling track.

In the new experiment, a small cohort of people were assessed for the characteristic of optimism and then asked to assess various risks while in a brain scanner. The researchers found three things, all consistent with related prior research: 1) more optimistic people were more likely to initially underestimate known objective risks, 2) these people were less able to assimilate objective information that contradicted their overly positive beliefs, 3) this pattern of processing bias (favoring rejection of negative information) was well-correlated with reduced frontal lobe processing in the more optimistic people. The researchers found, essentially, that our brains can naturally lead us to happy but incorrect judgments.

Since the vast majority of us are fairly to highly optimistic, the new research is important and adds to an increasing body of evidence suggesting significant and widespread distortions in the way we operate (even as an optimistic bias has been shown to provide compensating health benefits and added resilience against less than optimal choices). Key human biases include not only the systematic underestimation of risks and the minimization of contradictory facts (self-deception and dogmatism), but also 1) under-appreciation of the future and poor consideration of the consequences of our actions (presentism and impulsiveness), 2) more negative feelings toward people who are less similar to us (tribalism and chauvinism), 3) relativistic and self-favoring moral standards (selfism and clanism), and 4) vulnerability to manipulation by supernormal influences (primalism). Each of these innate biases may have been less of an issue in our original setting in small hunter-gathered bands on the plains of Africa, but today can greatly hamper individual and collective perception, thinking, choice, and quality of life in modern society.

Before your next decision, take a moment to review the new research at Brain Rejects Negative Thoughts. You can also learn more about human cognitive biases within us all (yes, you too) at Human Biases and explore three thought-provoking articles in the HumanaNatura article library that discuss aspects of this important area of health and quality of life science: The Persistence of IdeasEscape From Supernormal Reality, and Understanding Personal Empowerment.

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Red plate special

If only diners and cafes would serve breakfast this way and help us all start the day with a healthy meal. This HumanaNatura version of a morning “salad meal” features a spicy shrimp omelet with figs, strawberries, and oranges on mixed greens…garnished with parsley, paprika, coriander, tarragon, and black pepper. While the restaurant owners in your community wake up to the possibilities of naturally healthy meals and clients, learn to make your own red plate specials via our popular article Perfect Salad Meals or through the Natural Eating section of HumanaNatura’s comprehensive Personal Health Program.

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