It was reported recently that a carcinogen is showing up in numerous municipal waters, from Chicago to Honolulu. The toxin is a metal: hexavalent chromium.  The amount found in Chicago was 3X the upper limit of safety declared by the government.  

"Hex" refers to 6, and in this case, it refers to +6, which is a measure of oxidation. Therefore, hexavalent chromium refers to chromium that is in a highly oxidized state, and there are many different forms of it. Sodium dichromate and chromium trioxide are two examples.  About 150,000 tons of hexavalent chromium are produced each year.  It goes into stainless steel, textile dyes, wood preservatives, anti-corrosion chemicals, electroplating, and more. It is considered genotoxic, and inhaling it (as steel workers do) is considered a leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking.    

I’m glad the media reported this , but remember, it is the same media that repeatedly hounds us about drinking bottled water.  They remind us how expensive it is (more expensive than gasoline) and that all the water bottes could circle the Earth several times, etc. etc.  Some municipalities have actually proposed laws banning the sale and distribution of bottled water.  Well, avoiding the likes of hexavalent chromium is exactly why we don't drink water from the tap.  Besides, if you were serious about identifying unnecessary bottle-waste, wouldn't you start with soda pop rather than purified water?   

I realize there is a lot of controversy about which kind of water is best. Lately, I have been drinking soft spring water which comes from Texas springs that are 800 feet below the ground. It is purified and tested before being sold. For many years, I drank distilled water, and I am still not opposed to distilled water. I don't think it is harmful or dangerous, as some Internet pundits declare.  Remember that rain water is essentially distilled water, except to the extent that it picks up dust from the atmosphere. So, if Nature is making distilled water, how bad can it be?  However, I like the taste of spring water better, and that’s why I drink it. However, I avoid tap water as much as I possibly can. If I’m out somewhere, and I don’t have water with me and I’m thirsty, I may drink from a fountain.  But, that is rare, and it is the only time I ingest tap water.    

 

Nothing is Impossible was the second book written by Christopher Reeve after his catastrophic equestrian accident in 1995 that left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. The first was his highly acclaimed autobiography, Still Me, which I have not read. Nothing is Impossible is a compilation of speeches he gave from his wheelchair after the accident.

The book is well written and easy to read, and very inspiring. He admits that upon awaking from his coma and realizing what condition he was in, he immediately contemplated suicide.  But, his wife Dana pleaded with him not to, and so he didn't. Instead, he fought valiantly for 9 years to regain his life, his purpose, and his productivity, which he did. It was an amazing display of courage and perseverance and hard work, and I say that realizing that I would not have done it. I am very sure that I would have directed them to cease my life support and let me go-although hopefully in a way that spared me additional pain.  I would not have had the will to go on living after that.  But, I am still very moved by his willingness to try to cope with it all, and cope he did.

I have the feeling that this book is going to remain in my consciousness- always.  Anytime I start feeling overwhelmed by anything, I will remember what he went through, and instantly, I'll snap out of it.

 We should take inspiration from what he did as a person- and also from what his body did as an organism. His spinal cord was completely severed at the level of the 2nd cervical vertebra. That means that his body, including his muscles, his organs, his skin- it was all cut off from cerebral control. No signals from the brain would ever get past the injury site again.  But to everyone's surprise, they did. Five years later, he began moving his right index finger, then his other fingers, and eventually, he was able to move his whole hand.  It could only mean one thing: the nerves, the connections within the spinal cord, must have grown back to some extent. Also, he eventually regained his ability to breathe without the ventilator for as long as 30 minutes.

Through it all, he tried to live as normal a life as possible. He described how, from his wheelchair, he taught his 6 year old son, Will, how to ride a bicycle. This really piqued my interest because I recalled what I went through teaching my son how to ride, and then years later, teaching two of my grandchildren. Christopher Reeve did it from a wheelchair using only words. It was the boy, the bike, and Christopher's verbal instructions, and nothing else.  And he succeeded. And when I read the instructions he gave to the boy, I realized that they were the most concise, efficient, and perfect instructions that he could possibly have communicated. It was better than what I would have thought to say myself, and I have been an avid rider my whole life. It's amazing that he did it, and it is equally amazing that he even thought that he could do it.

There is also an interesting section in the book on the Mind-Body. He recounts how he developed a pressure wound on his ankle. Even though they turned him over every two hours every night to prevent such wounds from forming, sometimes they occurred anyway. And this one was bad. It went deep- all the way to the bone- and it became badly infected.  The doctors wanted to amputate above the knee to save his life. But, he said no to that. It took a long time, but eventually, it did heal- completely.  And he believed that his thought processes and his will, i.e. his "mind over matter," played a crucial role in that recovery. However, the paradox is that there was no connection between his mind (i.e. his brain) and his ankle. Or was there?

There is also an interesting chapter on his experience with Scientology, which happened long before his catastrophic accident. Let's just say that his reaction to Scientology was very different from that of Tom Cruise.  It was the Unitarian Church that gave Christopher Reeve solace.

There was also a chapter on his advocacy for stem cell research which I found to be both highly impassioned and very logical and convincing.

In the end, it was a pressure wound that defeated Christopher Reeve. As had happened many times before, he was given a very powerful antibiotic to treat the sepsis from a pressure wound, and it was the adverse reaction to that very strong antibiotic that caused him to go into cardiac arrest and die.  That was on October 10, 2004, and he was 52 years old.

But one thing is for sure: Christopher Reeve endured. He was Superman. 

 

 

Now I am responding to questions from a reader about bodybuilding. He asks tf bodybuilding mitigates the harmful effects of a high-protein diet. I think it does to some extent- if you are gaining new muscle, because if one is building new muscle, then obviously the protein is going somewhere; it is being stored. But,when you eat a high-protein diet without laying new muscle, then the excess protein has to be broken down, and that's burdensome. And it raises an important question about proper goals. I am 60 years old, and I am definitely not trying to gain new muscle. I would very much like to hold on to the muscles that I have. My goal is to cruise through my 60s and reach 70 without atrophying at all. That is actually a very ambitious goal because the vast majority or people, both men and women, lose muscle during that decade of life. But, I am not trying to grow my muscles larger, because in order to do so, I would have to lift a lot heavier weights, with all the risk of injury that that entails, and I would have to increase my food and my protein consumption to levels that I consider undesirable for health. We have to keep our eyes on the ball, and the ball is health. Strength is a part of health, but there is no health advantage going from strong to very strong. So, my plan is to keep exercising and very persistently, but only at the level that I am accustomed, and to keep eating healthily but without protein loading, which I have never done, and also to maintain my hormones at youthful levels, which I think is very important. And that's how I plan to reach 70 as strong as I am today. I think I can do it.

The reader asked about whey protein powders. I am not interested in them because they are made from milk. However, I admit that if you are going to take milk at all, whey is probably the best form of it. At least it avoids dairy fat.

He asked about taking creatine. Creatine can definitely improve workout results, however I am not tempted to take it because it is a nitrogenous compound, and I am wary of increasing my body's nitrogen load. And for the same reason, I don't take branched chain amino acids, which are valine, leucine, and isoleucine, even though I am impressed with the research. Recently, for instance, it was reported that rats given branched chain amino acids in their water lived significantly longer than controls. That is certainly impressive, but we can't assume that the same thing would happen if it were done to humans. Maybe it would, but we just can't assume it.

I realize that there are a lot of supplements I could take which could potentially help me. But, I can't take all of them, and it's partly because of financial limitations, and partly because of limitations in how many pills and capsules I can swallow in a day without it becoming too cumbersome. And people have different tolerances that way. To those who don't take supplements at all, the number that I take must seem like quite a lot. However, there are plenty of enthusiasts who take many more than I do. So, there is discrimination involved, and none of us can jump at every bright idea. To see the list of supplements I currently take, you can click on the Daily Program tab in the top menu bar.

Finally, he asked about ideal body fat percentage and getting it down to the single digits. Obviously, single digits would be too low for a woman. She just wouldn't look good, and it would not be healthy for her. For instance, she wouldn't ovulate. But even for men, I think high single digits is OK, but not low single digits. You hear about guys who are 3%, but to me, that's just a form of emaciation- muscular emaciation. Body fat does have a purpose: it insulates us, keeps us warm, protects our organs, and it also constitutes a reserve. Who is to say which of us is going to get mangled in a car wreck next week? To me, as a man, being tight and lean is important. My body fat is probably about 10%. I wouldn't mind if it were a point or two lower, but not lower than that.

Men's Health magazine just came out with their list of 18 best supplements for men, and I thought it would be interesting to compare their list to mine. Not surprisingly, there is a lot of overlap, but also a few differences. Let's go through them one by one, working off their list:

1. Acetyl l Carnitine: Check. They note the energy support, the brain protection, and that it elevates mood. I consider it the most important brain-protecting nutrient. The Italian research shows a huge protective effect against Alzheimer's. If you're only going to take one brain nutrient, take this one. Yes, it's on my Daily Program list.

2. Korean Red Panax Ginseng: Buzz. They note the benefit for Erectile Dysfunction. but it's not like all men need help with that. It didn't make my list because I don't consider it a universal supplement. I don't have a problem with gingseng. It has been around for a long time, and the safety of it is well established. I am not taking it, although I have tried it, and I am not against taking it. But, it's definitely not something all men need to take.

3. Coenzyme Q10: Check. It's on both our lists, and I consider it a true core supplement for men who are middle-aged or older. Unfortunately, they didn't mention the importance of taking the CoQ10-H2 form of it known as Ubiquinol. Ubiquinol really is superior. It absorbs much better. And it's the only form of CoQ10 that I take and recommend.

4. VItamin D: Check. It is surely a spot-on recommendation, but they should have emphasized the importance of taking Vitamin D3, which is the only natural form of it. Also, they only recommended 1000 IUs, and for many people that is insufficient. This being wintertime, I am taking 5000 IUs daily.

5. Fish Oil: Check. It's interesting that we both recommend fish oil, and they even recommend the same brand that I take, which is Nordic Naturals. NN is unsurpassed in purity and quality. It's a Norwegian company, but we offer their products here on this website. I take the ProOmega softgels.

6: Magnesium: Check. This is a qualified check. They recommend 250 mgs a day besides what you get from your food, and I don't have any problem with it. However, I get just 150 mgs magesium from my Extend Core multi, and I think that's enough for me because I'm very diligent about eating magnesium-rich plant foods. But, in some circumstances, such as high blood pressure, I will recommend a separate magnesium supplement. I'm pro-magnesium, for sure.

7. Psyllium seed husk: Buzz! They recommend it to all men? Unbelievable! I certainly don't take it because I don't need it. Basically, it's Metamucil. What do I need that for? My bowels move fine. And hey, it's just a form of fiber. The way I eat, with all the fruits, nuts, vegetables, whole grains, and beans? I certainly don't need to be taking fiber in pill form. So thanks, but no thanks.

8. Probiotics: Buzz. Well, I'm a believer in probiotics, but I don't say that every man in the world needs to take them. I think probiotics are valuable in some situations, for instance, with antibiotic use. And with some digestive problems, it's worthwhile to take them. But, I don't take them as part of my daily regimen, and I don't think they should be considered a universal supplement for all men.

9. Quercetin: Buzz. This is a flavinoid antioxidant which occurs widely in fruits and vegetables. It's interesting that white foods tend to be high in it, such as apples (whose flesh is white) and white onions. Quercetin also has an anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine effect, which is why we put it into our allergy formulas. I'm not taking it, but I do eat a lot of high-quercetin foods.  I do recognize its value and importance, but as I've said before, you can't take everything.

10. Pycnogenol: Check. This is a qualified check. Pycnogenol is the trade name of the proanthocyanidin derived from pine bark. But, I am getting the same thing by taking grape seed extract. To me, it seems more natural and appropriate for a human to consume a fruit seed rather than pine bark, and that's why I prefer it.

11. Glucosamine: Buzz. I don't take glucosamine because I don't have arthritis, at least not that I know of. I suppose that if I had x-rays taken, it might show some, since I'm 60. But if so, it's not causing me any trouble. And I am not at all interested in taking glucosamine preventively. However, if I had osteoarthritis, I would take it.

12. Vitamin C:  Half-Check. They recommend 1000 mgs/day in supplement form, while I get just 400 mgs from my Extend Core multi. However, I do eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, so my total daily consumption is in excess of 1000 mgs, for sure. I think that's enough for me on a regular basis, but if I were struggling with a cold or flu, I would take more. But so far, I am staying well this winter.

13. EGCG: Check. It is essentially green tea extract, which I do take. They want you to take 340 mg, while I'm getting just 250 mg from VRP's Green Tea Extract. But, I think it's enough. It's potent stuff.

14. Lycopene: Check. They want men to take 15 mgs a day to protect the prostate. I'm getting that much exactly in my ProstaCol formula from VRP. I'm also very keen on eating high-lycopene foods, such as tomatoes, watermelon, and red grapefruit.

15. Red Yeast Extract: Buzz!  I am totally opposed to listing this as a universal supplement for all men. What if your cholesterol is low? Why would you need to take it? My lipids are fine, and I have no need or desire to take it.

16. Resveratrol: Check. I agree with them that resveratrol is a core supplement that all men should be taking. It fights heart disease, cancer, and aging itself. And it's hard to get enough of it  from food alone, and I certainly don't think that men should deliberately drink alcohol, as in red wine, to get it. High-grade, imported Japanese resveratrol extracted from knotwood is the way to go. That's what VRP uses, and that is what I take.

17. SAMe: Half-Check. I am not taking SAMe at this time, but I would never buzz off SAMe.  I don't say that it is a core supplement for everyone, but I think the world of SAMe. It is truly a wonder supplement for depression, for the liver, and for cartilage repair. Plus, it boosts glutathione levels. It's a bit pricey, but the price has come down lately, and it may continue to fall, and I hope so. Keep in mind that SAMe is not a supplement that you should just buy off the shelf anywhere. It's a delicate substance that requires precise manufacturing. VRP imports research-grade SAMe from Italy, which is the finest in the world. Of course, there are other good brands, but be very selective about sourcing SAMe.

18. Saw Palmetto: Check. This is obviously another prostate support supplement, and I get it from our ProstaCol formula, which also has the Pygeum, Beta-sitosterol, and Nettle. These are the heavy hitters in the world of natural prostate care, and every good prostate formula should have them. Of course, young men shouldn't need it.

So that's it, and I have to say that Men's Health did a fairly good job coming up with their list of supplements for men. As you can see, I only took exception with a few of them. However, they overlooked Carnosine, Turmeric, and Lipoic Acid, which are on my list, and for good reasons.

We'll make this the final installment of our discussion of soy vs. the soyafoes. They correctly point out that soy cannot be relied upon as a source of Vitamin B12, but that is true of every plant food. Not just every bean, but every nut, seed, grain, vegetable, and fruit. The fact is that Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that is best obtained from supplements- and that's true even if you do eat meat. Even meat and other animal foods can have false Vitamin B12 analoges- sometimes in large amounts. Plus, Vitamin B12 has got major absorption issues which only worsen with age because of stomach atrophy, lack of hydrochloric acid, and more. Vitamin B12 was discovered in relation to pernicious anemia among patients who were not vegetarians. So, anyone can develop a Vitamin B12 deficiency, and the best insurance against it is to take a good Vitamin B12 supplement, such as methylcobalamin. But, there is no reason to beat up soy over it.

As I've said, I don't eat that much soy. I use the tofu from sprouted soybeans to make my fruit shakes. I don't use soy milk because I make nut milk using almonds, pecans, and walnuts. It's fast, easy, and very delicious. I don't use any of the fake meats made from soy because I'm not interested in eating fake meats. There is an acclaimed vegetarian restaurant in Austin called Mother's which offers fabulous tempeh enchiladas, which I always order when I go there. But, that's all I can think of regarding my soy consumption. I take no soy supplements.  I'm not being paid by the United Soybean Board, and I don't own stock in Archer Daniel Midland. And I'll admit that you don't have to eat soy at all to be well nourished. If you never ate it once your life, you could still live, thrive, and survive.  However, if you are going to take their diatribe against soy to heart and apply it to all beans and legumes, that would be a real shame. Then, you would be denying yourself a valuable nutritional resource and for no good reason. Beans belong in a healthy diet, and I'm hardly alone in thinking so. Plenty of doctors agree, and I'd like to bring up one in particular, Dr. Joel Fuhrman.

Dr. Fuhrman is a medical doctor and a leading alternative/complementary physician in the New York/New Jersey area. He's written several highly acclaimed books; he is often interviewed on the radio; and he is a consultant to many organizations, including both consumer groups and doctor groups. Dr. Fuhrman believes in the value of beans and legumes. He takes on severe cases of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, and I've seen that beans and legumes figure prominently in the therapeutic diets that he prescribes. Why is that? First, when it comes to "phytonutrients," beans are unsurpassed. Phytonutrients refers to a myriad of plant compounds that include antioxidants, polyphenols, flavinoids, and more. The only food class that rivals beans for the top spot in phytonutrients are berries, and I see that Dr. Fuhrman also pushes berries.

Did you know that the highest source of antioxidants in the average American diet is coffee? How could that be? It is because coffee is a bean. And you've probably heard that chocolate is being praised for being extraordinarily high in antioxidants with significant cardio-protective effects. How could that be? It is because cocoa is a bean. Beans are not only non-atherogenic, they are anti-atherogenic. The phytonutrients in beans serve to prevent and dissolve arterial plaques.

And in regard to diabetes, beans have a stellar effect. Although they are high in carbohydrates, beans have a stabilizing effect on blood sugar. By switching patients from animal products to vegetables and beans, Dr. Fuhrman is often able to get type 2 diabetics off medication. The same is true for hypertensives.

And as for obesity, forget about it. Beans are slenderizing. Dr. Fuhrman puts obese patients on his bean/vegetable/berry diet, and their body fat falls off about as quickly as if they they were fasting.

And, we've seen many cases like this. I remember during the Whitewater scandal during the Clinton years that Susan McDougall got jailed for refusing to cooperate with the Special Prosecutor. She spent several months in prison. And when she got out, weighing 35 pounds less, she told reporters that, while incarcerated, she lived on vegetables and beans. And she looked good too.

Beans are high in protein- the highest of any plant food. And the quality of bean protein is such that pea protein is now being offered as a protein supplement for bodybuilders. Beans are high in minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron, and more, and notwithstanding their phytic acid content, beans support good mineral status. It's been shown repeatedly that bean-eating populations have healthier bones and teeth than dairy-eating populations. My dentist tells me that my teeth are doing great, and I avoid dairy completely and eat beans.

The fiber in beans is soluble fiber, similar to the pectin in fruits, and it is considered to be athero-protective. It has been shown to have a very favorable effect on blood lipids.

The carotenoids in the outer skins of beans are very beneficial, and that's why richly colored beans are superior to white beans- not that there is anything wrong with eating white beans. But yes, if you have a choice between red kidney beans or white kidney beans, you're better off having the red ones. By the way, a very wonderful and delicious bean is the anasazi, which was named after the Anasazi people of the American Southwest. The anasazi bean is mutli-colored with a purple cast, and when cooked it has a creamy texture and a mild, sweet flavor. And they cook pretty fast too. Unfortunately, they are not widely available, but you can find them, including online.

The bottom line is that beans belong in a healthy diet, and there is a very wide and broad concensus about that- in Mainstream Medicine, in Alternative Medicine, and in organizations of dieticians and nutritionists spanning the globe. So, I say, don't let a handful of individuals with a radical agenda and a lot of internet savvy sway you. Eat your beans! I do, and I do so often.