Healthy Tip: A Case for Avoiding Gluten

Many people are choosing to avoid gluten, , even though they are not gluten sensitive.

Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains like wheat, rye, spelt and barley.

To our digestive system, gluten is as hard as a rock and usurps our body’s resources just to digest it. Your stomach acids can dissolve meat proteins in minutes but gluten passes through the stomach unscathed to your upper intestines where it can cause havoc.

6% of the U.S. population is gluten sensitive and most don’t even know it. Full blown celiac disease is often misdiagnosed as lactose intolerance, or worse yet, not diagnosed properly until their later years.

At the very worst gluten causes an autoimmune reaction such as celiac or gluten sensitivity. But in all cases, it draws resources from your body in order to digest it. That is why elite athletes, that aren’t necessarily gluten sensitive are omitting gluten from their diet to help build their endurance. They don’t want blood traveling from their extremities to their intestines just to digest gluten and sap them of their endurance.

When we evolved as cave people to the diet which to our body is most optimal, there was no wheat in our diet. Then about 10,000 years ago when we started to grow food and consume more grains, most notably wheat. And it has stayed with us as a food source ever since, although our body was never programmed for it.

If you’re gluten sensitive you have to avoid it; but even if you just want to physically perform better, lay off gluten products such as wheat, barley and rye, and substitute bananas, rice, polenta and sweet potatoes.

Don’t Outlive your Money in Retirement

You know your birthdate right? Now, do you know your future death date? Nobody does. Not to get overly morbid, but it’s the not knowing when you’ll draw your last breath that causes a major dilemma in retirement investing. If you could know the exact date of your pending death you could spend your money down until it’s zero on your death day – oh pray tell, no such luck, it’s a lottery.

The dilemma is, with a long life and over spending, you could potentially outlive your money and be destitute in old age, or, worse, a burden to your children.

Have too much money remaining in your retirement account when you die it’s all left on the table when you visit St. Peter. Oh well, at least your heirs will enjoy the French Riviera.

“It’s a Question of Balance”

So, how can you manage your retirement money with this big unknown? As the Moody Blues said, “it’s a question of balance”.

If you’re like most people you’ll have no pension coming in, so, it’s all on you to build and preserve your IRA. You’re probably already receiving a lot of calls from “financial advisors” or “wealth managers” in your area that are very willing to manage your money for you. Be advised that today’s financial advisors are yesterday’s stock brokers that are merely retooled.

Unless they are bona fide fiduciaries, they are a for-profit business. That financial advisor makes a hefty commission and guess where it comes from? It comes out of your portfolio and into his or her pocket. And although they have very arcane formulas to mitigate risks, they cannot guaranty portfolio growth but they will take their fees, most likely between 1% to 2% annually.

To minimize these fees, should you go it alone and manage your own IRA? If you decide to self-manage, you’ll need to adhere to one critical principle, that of proper “asset allocation” in a balanced portfolio. Even if you give all your money to a financial advisor, it will behoove you to know the basics of sound asset allocation.

Asset Allocation: The Basics

There are two basic buckets you can place your retirement money: growth or safety. Growth generally means investing in in more speculative asset classes such as common stocks or stock mutual funds. These are risky in that, over time, they can grow, but they occasionally tank for a substantial period.

Safety generally means investment in more stable assets that are less volatile like bonds, treasuries, or money markets. In the case of U.S. Treasuries, your money is 100% safe (but could be susceptible to inflation devaluation).

Living a long life is a good thing. To finance it you will want to grow your IRA continuously. This becomes even more important after you retire, when you’re no longer earning a salary and depositing to your IRA – the growth now has to come 100% organically from the investments.

Unless you just fell off the cabbage truck, you realize there are inherent risks to the stock market. You probably witnessed the drop in value of your IRA in 2008 caused by the great recession. That nasty bubble pop took 6 years to get back to its original valuation.

So, why not put it all in safety and avoid another 2008. Well, this particular year, 2017, safe investment in treasuries and CDs are yielding only 2.5%, in contrast to the S&P 500 index fund which is running at 16%. That means on each $100,000 investment, The S&P 500 index fund earned $13,500 more a year – difficult to ignore.

The answer is you need a portion of your portfolio to be in growth and another portion to be in safety. If the stock market tanks again, you’ll have a substantial portion of your portfolio protected. Conversely if the market continues to grow, that part of your portfolio will also grow.

The Proper Allocation

How much to allocate to the safety bucket vs the growth bucket is determined by two factors: (1) your age and (2) your risk tolerance.

Why your age? Take two extremes, the fifty-year-old and the eighty-year-old. The fifty-year-old has a good 15 years or more of earnings before retirement. He or she can sustain another stock market calamity. Conversely, the eighty-year-old may not live the six years for the market to come back.

Risk tolerance varies from person to person. Some are queasy and anxious when the market dips, they get beside themselves. Others want to bet big for a bigger return, albeit also willing to take a bigger loss.

A Simple Formula

For those of you with low tolerance for risk, use 100 less your age to determine the portion of your portfolio to allocate to growth (and therefore more risky).
For those of you with high tolerance for risk, use 120 less your age to determine the portion of your portfolio to allocate to growth.

So, the example of a sixty-year-old would be:

Low risk = 100 -60 = 40% allocated to growth (therefore 60% would be safe)

High risk: 120 – 60 = 60% allocated to growth (therefore 40% would be safe)

Another example of a seventy-five-year-old would be:

Low risk = 100 -75 = 25% allocated to growth (therefore 60% would be safe)

High risk: 120 – 75= 45% allocated to growth (therefore 40% would be safe)

Rebalance

O.K., so you set up your IRA with the proper asset allocation for your age and risk tolerance, do you now just ignore it? No, the magic lies in the rebalancing after the situation changes.

Let’s take the year 2016 as a low risk tolerant fifty-year-old, if you had a total of $200,000 in your portfolio, you would place $100,000 (50%) in stock funds, and $100,000 (the other 50%) in something safe like treasuries or bonds. That’s what it looks like on January 1, but one year later, the picture has changed, that stock fund went up 18%.

So, now the picture looks like this:

Growth: $118,000 — now 54% of the portfolio
Safety: $102,500 — now 46% of the portfolio

If you do nothing, you’re over exposed in stocks (54% when it should be 50%) and now need to take some chips off the table and place into safety.

So, to properly rebalance, you would sell off $7,750 of your growth bucket and place into it into the safety bucket to make them again 50% / 50%.

“Buy Low, Sell High” 

Here’s the magic: buy low, sell high.

Stocks don’t go up forever, eventually they top off and decline, but even the most prescient soothsayer cannot predict the exact top, so what you’re doing is moving money away from high risk to protection. You’re selling high!

If the reverse occurred, and stocks declined by 18%, you would actually sell the roughly $7,750 in bonds and buy more stocks. You’re buying low!

Conclusion

The world is fraught with risk, think Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, a lot of things are out of your control, so you need an investment strategy that meets your risk tolerance and takes into account how many years you’ll have on this planet. Allocate properly and rebalance once per year and you won’t go too far wrong. In a future post we’ll address a formula for withdrawals so you can enjoy your retirement and not run out of money.

Simple Habits to Slow Down the Effects of Aging

Bonus material: when you incorporate these habits you get disease prevention as well.

You’ve worked hard your whole life, you may have even financed your kids’ upbringing and education. Who doesn’t want a few more vibrant years on this planet?  There are some simple habits to slow down the effects of aging, we asked researcher Knut Holt to offer some, and here is what he offered.

The aging process is, for the greater part, not a mystery anymore. Aging consists for a great part of daily damages done on the microscopic, tissue, cellular and genetic levels. These add up as the years are passing. These damages have specific causes like oxidizing agents, the sun’s rays, mechanical wear and tear, psychological stress, lack of some nutritional components and too much of others, like fat.

Another component of aging is the reduction of the telomere chains at the chromosome ends, as each cell division occurs. However, the body has means to repair these ends again, with an enzyme called telomerase. The rapidity of the aging process depends on lack of efficiency in this repair process. The above mention aging causes also slow down this repair process.

The sun’s UV rays will definitely age your skin, it’s best to stay out of the sun during mid-day hours, and always use sunscreen.

 

The factors causing aging, also causes other diseases like cancer and heart disease. Both aging and these age related diseases can, to a great extent, be mitigated with the knowledge possessed today.

The Components to Slow the Aging Process:

High Micronutrient Foods

Adequate daily food containing whole cereals, peas, beans, vegetables, fruit, fish, mushrooms, fouls and seafood. Limit the amount of red meat. The concept here is to absorb high levels of micronutrients at low caloric levels with minimal insulin spike.

Substitute Bad Fats with Good Fats

Moderate amount of good fat from sources like olives, fish, nuts, sunflower seeds, etc. Then you will get a good balance between monounsaturated fat (e.g. olives), polyunsaturated fat of the omega-3-type (e.g. fish) and polyunsaturated fat of the omega-6-type. The two queen bees of good fats are olive oil and avocados.

Conversely try to eliminate butter and corn oil. A high consumption of these fat sources gives you too much saturated fat and polyunsaturated omega-6-fat.

 

Avoid the Five Ugly Whites

Try to narrow uses of, or eliminate altogether: white rice, salt, pasteurized cow’s milk, refined sugar, white flour.

 

Balanced Exercise

In addition to cardio, add exercises that gives both a muscular resistance load, work up your condition, and stretches out your body. Strength training need not take more than 30 minutes a session, twice per week. For flexibility, yoga is ideal.

 

If you can swing it, add sprinting to your exercise routine, it’s been recognized to stimulate the natural production of human growth hormone (HGH) which is a powerful youth hormone.

The fountain of youth is human growth hormone (HGH) and it can be stimulated in the body by sprinting. It’s not aerobic but anaerobic, you need to run intensely enough to lose your breath.

 

 

Recovery

Adequate rest and stress-reduction. Daily meditation is a method of achieving this. Natural relaxing agents or specific tools for meditation or relaxation may also be useful.

 

Avoid Sun’s Damaging Rays

Try to stay out of the sun during mid-day and make use of UV protection against excessive sun exposure.

The amount one needs of nutritional supplements, like vitamins and minerals, differs very much according to a person`s health condition, work load and exposure to environmental stress. A person having a poor digestion, doing high performance sport or being exposed to a high amount of environmental stress, may need more than a person in an average situation.

About Knut Holt

Knut Holt is an internet consultant and marketer focusing on health items, a Norwegian citizen, living in the Caribbean, he has a mixed university degree with a combination of the subjects chemistry, physics, biology and informatics.

A Guide to Preventing Heart Attacks in Women

A lot of attention is given to men and heart attacks because they’re so sudden and dramatic. The health attention given to women by the media is usually in the area of breast and cervical cancers. We want to turn up the volume on women’s heart health awareness. This is not to scare you but to show you ways to prevent heart disease so you can enjoy your golden years.

Facts You Probably Never Knew About Women and Heart Disease

  • Heart disease kills more women than men each year in the U.S.
  • Heart disease kills ten times more women per year than breast cancer in the U.S.
  • Most women don’t even realize they’re having a heart attack, the symptoms are much more subtle than men’s
  • Sadly, many medical professionals don’t properly diagnose heart attacks in women
  • Heart disease does not have to be an inevitable part of aging

As Dr. Miriam Nelson explained in our 2007 interview below, the first step is learn, then take control and then challenge medical authority when they ignore your symptoms.

“I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
’cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again”

— Helen Reddy

In recent years, heart disease has claimed the lives of more women than men. Yet it remain a little known fact, why? Mostly because perpetuated myths about women and heart disease still stand in the way of prompt, effective diagnosis and treatment. Sad but true.

Heart attacks are the Number 1 killer of women. 10 times as many women die of heart disease as of breast cancer.

According to Miriam Nelson, Ph.D., and Alice Lichtenstein, D.Sc., the way to change the perception that heart disease is a “man’s problem” is by empowering women to take charge of their own heart health. The two women teamed up to write Strong Women, Strong Hearts a groundbreaking guide that every woman should read.

Backed by cutting edge research, the book combines diet and exercise guidelines, stress reduction techniques, and more practical advice in a workable, effective life plan. Its proven strategies help women assess their risk for heart disease, choose foods wisely, lose weight sensibly, and nurture their emotional health.

Here is that 2007 conversation with Miriam Nelson…

FitCommerce: What’s the biggest misconception about heart disease with respect to women?

Dr. Nelson: The biggest misconception is that heart disease is mainly a man’s problem. Not true. Almost 500,000 women die from heart disease each year. Another 8 million women are living with heart disease.

FitCommerce: More women than men die from heart disease, a statistic that seems to be a well-kept secret. Why? And why has that fact stayed under wraps for so long?

Dr. Nelson:  One reason is that historically, women have been under-represented in studies. Also, a lot of the spotlight has been on breast cancer rather than heart disease, at least in part because breast cancer tends to strike women at a younger age. But 10 times as many women die of heart disease as of breast cancer. It’s not that breast cancer isn’t a devastating disease. But you can’t deny the numbers. Still, knowledge often lags behind perception. Shifting the knowledge in the culture takes a while.

For whatever reason, the media wasn’t picking up on heart disease prevalence in women, so the facts have stayed largely under wraps. Also, women’s diagnoses are often delayed, so the presence of heart disease is not always clear.

“I believe all women can be what I call ‘agents of change’ for other women.”

FitCommerce: How are women’s symptoms different from a man’s?

Dr. Nelson:  When a man is having a heart attack/it’s typically as though a Mack truck is

Women experience different heart attack symptoms then men. courtesy of the Washington Post.

running over his chest. Women’s symptoms are often much more subtle – mild indigestion-like feelings, sometimes some jaw pain, fatigue, feeling winded. Also, men often have no symptoms before the heart attack; it just strikes.

Women often feel lousy up to a month before – fatigued, indigestion, etc. That’s a silver lining. If a woman doesn’t feel great, she can get to the doctor, get intervention, and avoid the heart attack.

 

 

FitCommerce: What are the emotional factors that elevate the risk of heart disease, particularly for women?

Dr. Nelson:  While type A personality appears to be a risk factor for men, it’s women who repress anger, etc., too much that appear to be at increased risk. That is, women who bottle up their negative emotions too much might be at increased risk.

FitCommerce: What’s the most misinterpreted sign of heart disease in women? What signs should women be on the alert for?

Dr. Nelson:  Women should be on the alert for feeling more fatigued than usual in the course of their daily activities. They might also feel that tasks requiring exertion, such as carrying a suitcase or doing yard work, are more difficult than they used to be.

There can perhaps tie some jaw pain, too, along with a persistent feeling of mild indigestion. Finally, there might be a general feeling lousy, but it doesn’t go away the way a cold does. It just keeps lasting. None of these symptoms automatically mean you’re having a heart attack, but it does mean you should get to the doctor.

FitCommerce: What tests should every woman have to assess her risk?

Dr. Nelson:  Blood tests should be done to check for total cholesterol, “good” HDL-cholesterol, and “bad” LDL-cholesterol, along with testing for blood pressure and blood sugar. Body mass index (a measure of weight for height) should be determined, too, as well as waist circumference. If any of these numbers are outside the healthy range, the doctor will probably order further tests.

FitCommerce: What about a treadmill test?

Dr. Nelson:  A treadmill test is rarely called for, but still, women do not get them often enough. Ironically, recent research has found that treadmill testing is more predictive for women’s heart disease risk than men’s. It appears women’s fitness, as measured on a treadmill test, is much more a part of the equation than has been realized.

FitCommerce: It seems that every week the prevailing opinion on certain foods changes. Fish is healthy/fish is contaminated. Fat-free is best/fat-free is bad. Abstain from alcohol/drink in moderation. How can women make sense of all the conflicting nutrition information out there?

Dr. Nelson:  A woman should think more about food patterns than this or that food. There is an ever- growing body of research that gives a much clearer picture than ever of what that pattern should look like- plenty of vegetables and fruits and whole grains; low- or nonfat dairy every single day; fish at least twice a week; modest portions of other protein-rich foods like meat, poultry, beans, and soy; use of the right types of oils; sweets and other treats now and then; and of course, calorie control. Look at the big picture.

FitCommerce: What advice would you give someone who’s been sedentary for years?

Dr. Nelson:  Someone who has been sedentary for years should start out very gradually with what I call decreasing sedentary living rather than plunge into a structured exercise program. Really do take the stairs rather than the escalator, really do park away from the supermarket entrance, and really do walk two bus stops and then get on.

These little steps will acclimate you to moving your body. After a couple of weeks, you will feel ready to walk 15 minutes at a time just for exercise’s sake, etc. But before that, simply fold more activity into your life here and there wherever you can find places to tuck it in. It won’t feel so onerous then. It’ll get you started at the right pace on a step-wise, lifelong activity pattern.

“What’s best, though, is eating better and becoming physically active at the same time. They work synergistically.”

FitCommerce: Why is it important to include strength training in your program?

Dr. Nelson:  Strength training does four things to reduce heart disease risk:

  1. It increases muscle strength, which allows you to do aerobics better (a good thing because aerobics directly target the heart and the rest of the cardiovascular system to get stronger). But strength straining also has independent effects.
  2. It decreases high blood pressure.
  3. It decreases fat around the abdomen.
  4. It keeps down blood sugar.
Nutrition and cardio exercise should be supplemented with strength training for prevention of heart disease.

FitCommerce: We once thought that hormone replacement therapy protected women’s hearts. Now it seems that it increases your risk of heart attack. Would you demystify the research?

Dr. Nelson:  A very large, rigorously controlled study that came out just a couple of years ago showed that, contrary to previous research, HRT increases a woman’s risk for heart disease within the very first year of use. The risk is small but significant. It doesn’t mean that if a woman’s hot flashes are intolerable, she should not take low-dose HRT for a very short time to help her over the hump. But it does mean that no women should take HRT for the purpose of reducing heart disease risk. That thinking is over.

FitCommerce: Why isn’t diet alone is not enough to reduce your risk of heart disease?

Dr. Nelson:  There’s evidence that diet alone can reduce your risk of heart disease, and there’s evidence that being physically fit also reduces risk. What’s best, though, is eating better and becoming physically active at the same time. They work synergistically.

Dr. Nelson practices what she preaches, she is very active. Here she is running the Boston Marathon.

FitCommerce: If you could distill a heart healthy lifestyle down to 2 or 3 principles, what would you say?

Dr. Nelson:

  1. Maintain or move toward a healthy body weight.
  2. Follow a dietary pattern that’s low in saturated and trans fatty acids and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  3. Be physically active most days of the week.
  4. Be good to yourself – take time to nurture yourself every day, even for just 15 minutes, make medical appointments even if your life feels rushed, say “no” when you need to, etc.

FitCommerce: It seems that the health care delivery system needs more training on treating women with respect to heart disease. Is there anything women can do or should do to spread the word about this important issue?

Dr. Nelson:  I believe all women can be what I call “agents of change” for other women. The more women speak up about this – take care of themselves, urge their women friends and family and colleagues to take care of THEMselves, the more the word will spread. If a woman speaks up at the doctor’s office, the hospital, and to all her healthcare providers, the more inclined those providers will to pay attention to the heart of the next woman who walks through the door.

About Miriam Nelson:

Dr. Miriam Nelson

Dr. Miriam E. Nelson is currently the University of New Hampshire deputy chief sustainability officer and director of the Sustainability Institute.

Nelson is the author of 10 books, including the New York Times bestselling “Strong Women Stay Young” and eight others in the “Strong Women” series.

In August 2001, Dr. Nelson appeared in her own PBS special entitled Strong Women Live Well, which focused on the benefits of exercise and nutrition for women’s health. She has been featured on many television and radio shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, Fresh Air, and the Discovery Channel.