Monday, November 8, 2010

AICR Cites Weight as Major Cancer Risk

As if heart disease, diabetes and arthritis were not reason enough to watch your weight, an American Institute for Cancer Research research study concludes that more than 100,000 new cancers per year in the USA can be attributed to excess body fat and obesity.

“The most striking finding in the report is that excess body fat increases risk for numerous cancers. That is why body weight is the focus of our first recommendation,” expert panel member W. Phillip T. James, M.D., D.Sc. The five year five year study offers 10 specific cancer prevention recommendations, but losing weight tops the list. If you are so inclined, you can read the entire 517-page report here. It contains a wealth of information about using diet and lifestyle to combat this far too common killer.

But the bottom line is this. Get up off your ass. And do it today.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reliv Walk Raises $50k to Feed Hungry Children

Last Saturday, August 14th, over 2,000 Reliv Distributors from around the world swarmed downtown St Louis for the annual Reliv Kalogris Foundation Walk for the Mission. The weather was cooperative, cooling off all the way down to the high 80s for the 8am event. Founded in 1995 in honor of Reliv co-founder Dr. Theodore Kalogris, the foundation provides nutrition and community support to over 42,000 needy children every day. In a world where a child dies of malnutrition and starvation every 4 seconds, Reliv International Distributors consider the support of the foundation to be one of their primary responsibilities. Over $50,000(US) was raised, 100% of which goes to support the foundation's mission as the company absorbs all administrative and overhead costs.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Produce Just Ain't What it Used to Be

For about the last 10 years it has been known in scientific circles that our plant-based foods contain declining nutrient levels. There are many reasons for this: chemical fertilizers designed to speed growth, genetic manipulation for the purpose of making fruits and vegetables more "attractive", picking produce before it is ripe to ensure that it looks ripe when it arrives in the supermarket, etc. For example, everyone's favorite veggie, broccoli, contains 63% less calcium today than it did in 1950. So even if you make a serious effort to eat your fruits and veggies, chances are you are still not meeting your basic nutritional requirements. What's a person to do?

One thing you might consider is buying organic. Avoiding the use of synthetic fertilizers has several effects that can boost the nutritional content of food crops. But the cost and availability of organic produce makes this impractical for many people. Here are nine simple ways to maximize the nutritive value of your fruits and vegetables from the nice folks at Prevention Magazine.

And remember! Even with fewer nutrients than in the past, fresh fruits and vegetables remain a far better food choice than the processed "food-like substances" that form the core of the Standard American Diet (SAD).

Friday, August 6, 2010

"So, what is it that you do?"

The "elevator speech". That well rehearsed 30-second response to "So, what is it that you do?" We've heard hundreds of them - most of them appallingly bad. We've sought advice from books, webinars, coaches and trainers. We've practiced in front of the mirror with a timer. We've cringed as people recited with a straight face "I make people rich every day!". Its hard to love the elevator speech.

But even if you work in a one-story building with no elevator, having an effective response when someone actually asks what you do is a critical sales skill. So how do you develop an answer that doesn't sound like the keynote speaker at a plaid sports coat convention? Here are a few suggestions from the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE).

  1. Think of the elevator pitch as a basic introduction to your product or service. Just hit the high points of its benefits - the things a happy customer would care about.
  2. Don't sound like a late-night TV commercial. Be conversational. If you sound like you've memorized a script, people will tune you out. Avoid industry jargon and technical terms.
  3. Be personal and personable. Introduce yourself, not your company. Avoid "we" statements and stick to "I" statements.
  4. If your pitch generates some interest, know in advance what the next step is, and how to move on to it. Usually its NOT piling on more details.
  5. Save your business cards for people who actually want them. Most of them end up in the trash on the way out of the room.
If this seems like a lot to cram into 30 - seconds, you're right. But an engaging, effective elevator speech is a key part of your prospecting toolkit. So treat it that way. The worst thing you can do is "wing it". For some really useful suggestions and tools, check out the Pitch Wizard at

Thursday, August 5, 2010

CDC Calls Obesity "A Major Public Health Threat"

Ten years ago the Federal government set a national goal of reducing the rate of obesity in the US to 15%. Not a single state has met that goal; in fact, we are rapidly heading in the opposite direction. Instead of declining the rate has doubled and the rate of increase is accelerating. Obesity is strongly linked to numerous chronic and life threatening diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

But as this NPR report explains, this issue is far more complex than just people eating too much.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Missouri Voters Reject Federal Health Insurance Mandate

By a margin of 3::1 voters in Missouri yesterday approved Proposition C, which changes state law to bar any government entity from fining a person for failing to buy health insurance - a key provision of the "healthcare reform" bill passed by Congress and signed by president Obama in March. Since the mandate does not take effect until 2014, there will be no immediate impact from the MO vote. If implemented, the measure is certain to be challenged in court. Regardless, the outcome of the MO vote is one more indication of the growing unpopularity of the reform bill and the margin by which the measure was approved has to elevate the importance of the issue to the November mid-term elections.

Irrespective of your position on healthcare reform, the whole issue is bringing into focus the erosion of States' rights and the steady usurpation of powers not granted by the US Constitution to the Federal government. As of now 11 States are suing in Federal courts to overturn the entire bill on that basis alone. Its been 148 years since we fought a brutal war over the States' Rights issue. Apparently it wasn't as settled as we assumed.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Study Quantifies Statin Drug Risks

Back in April I alerted readers to the FDA's approval for AstraZeneca to begin marketing its best selling statin drug Crestor to an estimated 6.5 million Americans who have no cholesterol problems and no sign of heart problems (as a "preventive" measure). But a new study published in the British Medical Journal this past May may put the brakes on AstraZeneca's ambitious plans to move as many as 1 in 2 Americans onto statins over the next decade. For perhaps the first time, the researchers have quantified the level of harm posed by the cholesterol-lowering drugs. If you don't have the inclination to read the actual study, here is a good summary of the results from the Daily Mail newspaper.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Non-profit Gym Attacks Low Income Obesity

Obesity is epidemic in America. More than one in three of us are obese today and another third of us are overweight and "growing" in the wrong direction. Being severely overweight leads to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancers and a host of other chronic problems. Besides the well established negative consequences of obesity on our health, the sheer scope of the problem poses possibly insurmountable challenges for our ability as a society to provide affordable healthcare.

The obesity problem is especially serious in lower income neighborhoods and among lower income populations. In such locales fast food is ubiquitous, healthy eating choices are often limited and the genuine and demanding challenges of earning a living often move nutrition and exercise "off the table". The problem is compounded by the fact that such neighborhoods are often intimidating or even unsafe for people who might want to take up an outdoor exercise program, and gym facilities are either too expensive or simply not available.

Healthworks, a non-profit organization in Boston, MA, dedicated to promoting the health and empowerment of women and children through fitness outreach and community-based efforts, has stepped up to do something about this. And their efforts are making a huge difference in the lives of women in one of the city's economically challenged neighborhoods. For as little as $10 a month (or free with a doctor's recommendation), women are provided with access to a safe, secure, fully equipped fitness facility. And its changing lives. Check out the entire story here.

Without a doubt the world has its share of lazy, stupid people. But we sometimes attribute those characteristics unfairly to people who are bound by circumstances and conditions beyond their control. The Healthworks story demonstrates that, given a chance, people can and will step up and take responsibility for their own wellness. And for all our sakes, we'd better.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Some Good Advice from the Sales Training Experts

In the corporate world, Miller-Heiman is among a very few companies that represent the gold standard of sales training. They bill themselves as "the sales performance company", but they aren't about closing tricks, manipulation or plaid jackets. The Miller-Heiman approach to selling is all about building solid, long-term relationships based on mutual win-win transactions. And while their system targets larger companies who face complex sales and long selling cycles, their advice holds much of direct benefit to us in the network marketing world. Their classic book on the dynamics of effective sales meetings, "The New Conceptual Selling", belongs on every network marketer's bookshelf.

Sooner or later, everyone in network marketing joins the NFL (No Friends Left) Society. That's when we realize that, just like the big boys, prospecting is a critical (perhaps the critical) component of our long term success. Unless we can identify and locate people who will benefit from our product or service and, equally important, who may be interested in it, all our enthusiasm and great information and amazing products will never produce a sale. So if you intend to become a student of effective prospecting (and you better), here is an interesting perspective from the folks at Miller Heiman. Something they call "Working Backwards". While you are there, go ahead and subscribe to their eNewsletter. It rarely arrives without at least one good, actionable idea.

Monday, May 3, 2010

What's in YOUR Supplement?

In a textbook example of why you need to pay attention to where you get your supplements, who makes them and how, health guru Gary Null has filed a lawsuit claiming that he nearly died from taking his own product. Who, you may well ask, is Gary suing? It turns out that, as is the case with the vast majority of nutritional supplements, Gary Null's Ultimate Power Meal is manufactured not by his own company but by a third party (in this case Triarco Industries). According to Null's suit, Triarco put 1,000 times the intended dose of Vitamin D in his product, which he then simply re-branded and sold - apparently without bothering to check what he'd bought. Along with half a dozen health-conscious customers, Null reported experiencing "severe kidney damage" and "excruciating fatigue along with bodily pain" as well as bleeding "within his feet".

While the irony of nearly dying from taking your own nutritional supplement product is palpable, the real surprise is that things like this do not happen more often. There are no FDA requirements that supplement products be tested for safety or efficacy on an ongoing basis, and it is an open secret in the industry that the contents of any given container may vary widely from what is indicated on the labeling.

So what is really in your supplements? Do you really know what you are taking? How sure are you that the bottle you buy this month contains either what the label says it does or what last month's bottle did? Maybe its time you found out.

As a contrasting example, Reliv International - for whom I am an independent distributor - owns its own manufacturing plant where it produces all of its own products; requires its vendors to provide independent, third party certification of the quality and purity of all ingredients that they supply; and subjects its own formulated products to a different third party analysis before shipment. Their facility has been praised by the FDA a a "model" manufacturing operation and they have earned pharmaceutical grade manufacturing certification in several countries where this is required for nutritional supplements. Is all this more costly than buying the cheapest products you can find and slapping your label on them? Yes. Is it worth it? I imagine Gary Null now thinks so.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

FDA Approves Crestor for People with No Cholesterol Problems

On March 30th, the New York Times reported that the FDA had approved new criteria suggesting that an estimated 6.5 million Americans who have no cholesterol problems and no sign of heart problems be considered candidates for long-term use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. Specifically, the nation's drug watchdog agency approved the new criteria for Crestor, which is made by AstraZeneca and is the nation’s second best-selling statin. The company is already preparing its marketing campaign. (“Feeling healthy? Don’t Be Too Sure . ..)

While statin drugs have been undeniably successful in lowering cholesterol, they come with numerous and serious side effects. Among the possible side effects acknowledged by AstraZenica are headache, muscle pain (myalgia), abdominal pain, weakness and nausea. Other side effects known to be associated with the drug include increased risk of type 2 diabetes, liver enzyme abnormalities, memory loss, rhabdomyolysis (the breakdown of muscle fiber) and kidney failure. Here is a good summary of the side effects of statin class drugs.

You would think that recommending the drug to millions of people with none of the symptoms it is intended to treat would at least result in significant health benefits in exchange for assuming these additional risks. But the single study leading to the expanded approval produced only a 0.2% improvement vs the control group. That is, 2 people out of 1,000 did better than those taking sugar pills. In the case of this seeming healthy group of patients, “Ultimately, the benefit is statistically significant but not clinically significant," says Dr. Steven W. Seiden, a cardiologist in Rockville Centre, N.Y. “The benefit is vanishingly small,” Seiden added. “It just turns a lot of healthy people into patients and commits them to a lifetime of medication."

A lifetime of very expensive medication.
“Crestor, which had sales of $4.5 billion last year, will not be subject to generic competition until 2016 — and so (AstraZenica) has more years to benefit from expanded use of the product at name-brand prices,” observed NYTimes reporter Duff Wilson, the Times article's author. “The drug, taken as a daily pill, sells for at least $3.50 a day, compared with only pennies a day for some generic statins." You can do the math. Pharmaceutical companies are on record that they want to have half the population of the USA on statin drugs (Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor, etc).

Given their serious potential side effects, given that there is no definitive proof that the drugs actually reduce the risk of heart attack (that they lower cholesterol levels is proven) and given that numerous alternatives for reducing cholesterol exist, many medical experts question whether this loosening of the regulatory guidelines is a healthy move. You should too.

Monday, April 5, 2010

MLM as Retirement Planning

Early last month, NPR ran a series exploring the impact of the stock market crash and subsequent recession on Americans' retirement plans and resources. The need to rebuild retirement nest-eggs that have fallen 40% or more in value was understandably daunting. "It was really frustrating and (my husband and I) discussed, well should we stop investing and invest all the money in a vacation home," said Victoria Banales, an educator from Idaho. "I distrust (the market), but on the other hand I also keep investing, hoping somehow we'll find some kind of combination that will still help us save for retirement."

That seemed to be the general sentiment. I don't trust it, I don't understand it, I don't like it. But I keep putting money into it because, well, because I don't know what else to do.

So here is an idea that may seem a little out of the box but, upon closer examination, makes a good deal of sense (at least to me). Find yourself a good direct selling/multi-level marketing company (I've talked about what took look for and what to avoid in an MLM company before), one with products you like, want to use and do believe in. Become a distributor at the highest profit level that you can comfortably afford. Start to consistently devote time to it, every week. This doesn't have to (and should not) take over your life. It doesn't have to seriously cut into your family time or interfere with your career. The key here is consistency. Doing something every day, every week, even for just a couple of hours. Obviously if you devote more time you should achieve success faster, but the important element here is to be consistent.

If you have chosen well and work consistently, you will begin to generate residual income. A couple of hundred extra dollars a month could well make the difference between being able to retire and having to keep working. A few thousand dollars a month could lift your retirement lifestyle to a whole new level. You can stop working this business whenever your income reaches a level with which you are satisfied, and continue to receive that income for many years after, perhaps even for the rest of your life (and, in some cases, your children's lives). And, of course, you don't ever have to stop working at it a few hours a week unless you really want to. No booms and crashes to fret about, no worries about "running out", no concerns over changing government rules or company accounting "adjustments".

Now make no mistake, this is no "get rich quick" scheme. Like anything else worthwhile it takes effort and it takes time. But what else are you doing right now that will continue to pay you a few hundred or a few thousand (or even much more) dollars every month for the rest of your life? So there, Victoria, is something else you could do. Maybe its not right for you, but you owe it to yourself to evaluate and consider it.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Table Salt Costing Americans $8 Billion per Gram?

A study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine estimates that if Americans would reduce their consumption of table salt by only 1/2 a teaspoon daily (3 grams), overall US spending on healthcare could be reduced by as much as $24 billion annually. And cutting only 1 gram per day would be far more cost effective in reducing blood pressure among hypertensive individuals than common prescription medications. Aside from the cost of treatment of chronic conditions directly related to the excessive consumption of salt, this tiny reduction (3 grams per day) would reduce annual new cases of coronary heart disease, stroke and heart attack by half. Just to put this in perspective, that would be some 146,000 fewer new cases per year.

My first reaction to this was along the lines of "Why then should people who responsibly monitor their diets be forced to fund the "right" of those who do not to treatment for their self-inflicted illnesses?" As is often the case with my first reactions, while it contains a grain of truth there is much more to the story.

According to the NEJ article, 75% - 80% of the salt we consume is "hidden" in the processed foods we eat. There are no requirements that restaurants disclose the salt content in, or added to, the foods they serve. According to one Center for Science in the Public Interest study, some single fast food meals contain as much as four times the total recommended daily salt intake.

Nutritional labeling requirements in the USA are a sick (literally) joke. They are still based on the 65 year old minimum daily requirement standard, and are written in such a way that one cannot help but wonder if they are deliberately intended to confuse rather than inform. (Why would a can of chili provide labeling based on servings and then put 2 1/2 servings in the can? Can most people do that math in their heads?) Perhaps its time we took a real interest in being provided with the basic information we need to make good nutritional choices for ourselves, instead of relying on the government and the food industry to keep us informed? Seriously this is a disgrace.

Addicted to Eating?

As the obesity rate among Americans climbs past 1-in-3 (with over 2-in-3 of us classified as overweight) several initiatives are exploring the nature of our relationship with food..... physically, emotionally and socially. In one study done on rats and published in the research journal Nature Neuroscience, scientists at Scripps Research Institute in Florida concluded that eating a lot of junk food makes you want to eat more junk food. "The animals completely lost control over their eating behavior, the primary hallmark of addiction," said neuroscientist Paul Kenny in a statement describing the work.

Former FDA Commissioner David Kessler, in his 2009 book The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite, says that food is excessively activating the brains of millions of Americans to get them to come back to eat more. He especially blames fat, sugar and salt, combined with effective marketing campaigns, super-sizing of portions and relaxed social mores related to how and where we consume food.

With 3 in 4 Americans scheduled to die of heart disease, cancer or stroke, and with rates of Type II Diabetes soaring (it is now being commonly diagnosed in children as young as 10 years old), maybe it is time to take a hard look at the dietary and lifestyle choices that are largely responsible for our "healthcare crisis". Possibly the most effective way to reduce America's unsustainable heathcare costs would be in invest in helping people to recognize, treat and recover from our addiction to foods that are killing us.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Natural" Doesn't Always Mean "Healthy"

Google "agave syrup" and you will get pages of returns of articles with titles like "All About Agave" and "Agave Nectar" touting the supposed nutritional benefits of this natural sweetener made mostly in Mexico from the agave plant. (Yes, the same agave plant used to produce pulque and tequilla. That's neither good nor bad, just a factoid.) The syrup produced from the agave has been promoted for its low glycemic index and is a common ingredient in bottled teas, energy drinks, nutrition bars and desserts sold in health food stores.

Move beyond the health food stores and food manufacturers looking for a way around the gag reflex produced by artificial sweeteners like Splenda and a very different story is told. Agave syrup is no healthier then refined sugar, and in some respects it may be even worse for us. Refined sugar (sucrose) contains 16 calories per teaspoon. Agave syrup contains 20. Agave syrup may be up to 90% fructose vs 55% for "high fructose" corn syrup. "People say it's a healthful alternative, but it's not really. A sugar is a sugar is a sugar," says Dr. Kantha Shelke, a food chemist specializing in natural foods with the Chicago-based food science think tank Corvus Blue.
Agave syrup is often marketed as being "diabetic friendly". But according to the University of California Berkeley Wellness Newsletter there are no studies to suggest that the sweetener is any safer for diabetics than table sugar. In fact other studies have concluded that large amounts of fructose increase the risk of diabetes and also pose health concerns for the liver and the heart.

We need to popularize a new phrase, "epulor caveo", meaning "diner beware". In nutrition, as in so many other things, we tend to believe what we want to be true. While this may be fine when choosing between, say, an iPhone and a Droid, accepting the latest fad as fact can have damaging health consequences when done in making our food and nutrition choices. Clearly neither the government, food manufacturers nor the "health" industry is going to look too far beyond the money to be made off the latest fad. We all better start figuring out how to do so for ourselves. As Mark Twain famously said, "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. Its what you know for sure that just ain't so."

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Too Much of a Good Thing

A 2007 study by Joel Mason, MD, amply illustrates that creating your own "supplement cocktail" based upon supermarket supplements and an incomplete understanding of nutrition science can have unexpected or even dangerous consequences.

Folic Acid (also known by Folate and Vitamin B9) is an important nutrient that assists the body to produce healthy new cells, prevent some forms of anemia, reduce birth defects by helping prevent or minimize DNA changes and possibly reduces the incidence of some forms of cancer. By any measure it is an important component of a healthy, complete diet, especially for children and pregnant women. Folic acid is found in leafy green vegetables, fruits, dried beans, peas and nuts and some cereals and grains. Its also gotten a lot of (semi-informed) press so health conscious people are aware of it and frequently take steps to supplement their diet with it.

The problem with this is that, according to the Mason study cited above, consuming large amounts of folic acid may actually increase your risk of developing certain cancers, colorectal and prostate especially. The US Food and Drug Administration has established a tolerable upper limit of 1,000 mcg per day for folic acid. As supplement makers rushed to include folic acid in their products when it became "popular" it became very easy to exceed the recommended limit without knowing it. For example, your multivitamin may contain 400 mcg. If you add a B-complex supplement you could get another 400 mcg from that. If you eat a healthy diet you will probably be getting 200 - 800 mcg of folic acid anyway. Add a folic acid supplement and you could be well over the recommended limit.

The point of this is not to discourage you from using supplementation or folic acid. Just be aware that nutrition is a complex science, that nutrients have to be present is specific amounts and combinations to be optimally effective, that too much of something really can hurt you (ever notice how many bottles of vitamin pills carry warning labels?), and that many (not all) supplement makers follow the same trends and fads that you do. If you are going to use supplements, and most reputable health care professionals recommend that you do, make sure that your supplier actually understands the nutrition behind the products and ensure that your supplementation program is synergystic and comprehensive. "Mix and Match" might well do you more harm than good.

Friday, February 19, 2010

What's in a Name?

I never forget a face. Names however, are another matter. They are a challenge for me. One I need to work on because it matters. Network marketing, by definition, is a people business. It depends upon our ability for form lasting relationships with people, many of whom start out as strangers to us. And one of the most powerful tools for building a large circle of friends is simply remembering and greeting people with their name.

Research shows that even as children our brains are wired to respond favorably to the sound of our own names. Different cultures respect a wide range of customs related to greetings, but nearly all of them value the use of our names in the process. Well known sales and marketing trainers such as Tom Hopkins and Glen Ebersole often make a point of mentioning how important the simple act of remembering a name can be in facilitating relationship building.

So what are people like me to do? Here's some advice from online jobs board Careerbuilders. I know I'm going to be taking it.

And what was your name again?

Monday, February 15, 2010

February is American Heart Month

This is the month set aside to call our attention to heart health, and a good time to take stock of where we are and where we are going. Are you in charge of your heart health? Or are you just along for the ride? Heart attacks are still the #1 killer of Americans, men AND women, and there is a lot we can do to avoid becoming one of those gruesome statistics.

Here is what the American Heart Association suggests that you focus on to do the right thing by your heart:
  • Watch your cholesterol. Healthy levels are generally considered to be under 200 for Total Cholesterol; greater than 60 for HDL (Good) Cholesterol; and under 100 for LDL (Bad) Cholesterol. After you have watched your cholesterol, DO something about it either by diet or medication.
  • Get regular exercise. It need not be intense but it does need to be regular. Shoot for 30 minutes a day. Walking in from the parking lot or taking the stairs instead of the elevator count. If you have no time to exercise, how will you find the time to recover from a heart attack?
  • Be aware of your blood pressure and take steps to move it into the normal range. That would be a resting blood pressure of 120/80 or less for most people. Diet, exercise and medication can all help with this.
  • Control your weight, or it will control you. The swelling (pun intended) levels of obesity among Americans is a major contributor not only to heart disease but to stroke, cancer, diabetes, asthma and osteoarthritis as well as a host to other chronic health conditions. Packing it on around your waist is especially detrimental. If you are overweight, take action. The sooner you begin the less difficult it will be to shed pounds (anyone who tells you it will be easy is a liar).
  • For the love of God, STOP SMOKING! If you can't stop on your own get help. Its an addiction not a habit. Getting help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you don't stop you will end up with a heart attack or coughing your cancerous lungs up. Not a pretty picture. Enough said.
  • Watch your blood sugar levels. Wild fluctuations are not only a precursor to a life taking insulin, but they are also bad for your heart. You want your fasting blood glucose level to be under 100mg/dL.
In nearly every case, the critical risk factors for heart attack (and most other chronic diseases) could have been controlled. There are more options today then ever for doing so. So use American Heart Month (not "Heart Month" and not "National Heart Month") to take stock of your own situation, identify an area or two where you could improve, and take action. Before its too late.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Are you an AlphaWELL or an OhWELL?

The Council for Responsible Nutrition has undertaken a broad-based consumer wellness campaign designed to increase awareness of the impact of diet and lifestyle on our health, provide a quick, easy to take online assessment of our present wellness status, and offer practical advice (beyond the usual "improve your diet and exercise more" platitudes) to help people step on up the wellness scale. The Life ... supplemented campaign is a good place to begin if you've been meaning to take control of your health and wellness through better lifestyle choices but just need a little coaching to get started. The wellness assessment will take you about 10 minutes to complete and the results may surprise you.

Go ahead and do it, you know you should.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

This November 2004 report from Consumer Reports (Feb2006, Vol. 71 Issue 2, p19-20) contains a wealth of unbiased, straightforward information about nutritional supplements. Among the topics it addresses are:

  • Who should be using nutritional supplements and why.
  • Why multivitamins may not be enough.
  • Why you should avoid "bargain brand" supplements and buying supplements in "dollar stores".
  • The dangers of "megadose" supplements.
  • Optimal doses and safe upper limits for the 18 most critical nutrients.
  • How to select a supplement that is best for you.
A lot of good information from a reliable source with no dog in the fight.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Minimum vs Optimum

Most people are familiar with the RDA, the Recommended Dietary (Daily) Allowance of various nutrients. Many people assume that an RDA is, well, a recommended allowance for those nutrients. The amount we should be consuming each day. It turns out that this is almost but not quite true.

The RDA were first developed in 1941 to establish minimum nutritional standards for the US military and for civilian populations requiring food relief. The standards were set so as to provide guidance as to the minimum requirements necessary to avoid deficiency diseases such as rickets or scurvy. The RDA became the required US standards for nutrition labeling in 1973 and remained so until 1995, when they were replaced by the Percent Daily Value (%DV). In turn, these were based upon an updated version of the RDA called the Reference Daily Intake. Like the RDA, the RDI set minimum standards for generally healthy people, with a "fudge factor" of about 60% built in.

In 1997 a new standard was introduced called the Dietary Reference Intake. Unlike its predecessors, the DRI goes beyond "minimum" and reflects the amount of various nutrients required by a generally healthy person to maintain optimum health. Twelve years later, for reasons known only to the FDA, Congress and a cohort of food producer lobbyists, nutrition labeling requirements are still based on the older, minimums-based %DV system.

If you find all this confusing, join the club. Perhaps its meant to be confusing. I will leave it to you to determine who might benefit from that. In the meantime, here is a great article on translating nutrition labels into English. Just remember that, for now, it is all based on the minimum you need to avoid a nutritional deficiency diseases. Not on the optimum nutrition you require to be healthy and well.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Reliv's Ongoing Efforts in Haiti

Reliv International already had a pre-earthquake presence in Haiti, feeding some 8,000 Haitians - mostly children - each day through its network of 26 community feeding stations. Thankfully most of these were spared the devastation, although some few still remain unaccounted for. Distributor donations made through the Reliv Kalogris Foundation web site in January will all be directed to aid in the Haiti relief effort. So if you are a distributor, get yourself on board with that.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Food Rules

Journalist and food quality activist Michael Pollan of the University of California at Berkeley discusses his new book "Food Rules: An Eater's Manual" with Jon Stuart of The Daily Show. Some interesting comments on the trade-offs between cheap, abundant food and nutritious food, and on how the requirement to refrain from denying health insurance based on pre-existing conditions may change the business model of health insurers for the better. View the interview here.