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January 25

My Review of the Philips Golite Blu (Blue Light Therapy)

Posted by admin . Filed under Health Benefits, Motivation, Personal Development, Skin Care | 12 Comments

Philips Golite BluSince August the weather has been very bad around here, a lot of grey days without sun.  This wasn’t good for my mood and since I didn’t have time for a holiday in the sun, I had to look at some ways to relieve the symptoms.

Blue light therapy is the prevalent treatment recommended by doctors for those suffering from Seasonal Affective disorder (SAD).  I thought I’d give that a go and bought myself a Philips Golite Blu.

How does light therapy work?

Light therapy, sometimes called phototherapy or heliotherapy, is a treatment that is used for a number of conditions:

  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Sleep disorders
  • Jaundice
  • Acne
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Postpartum depression

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) occurs as a result of changes in light through the year. Those with the condition often find that they become depressed, lack energy or sleep more than usual. A SAD therapy light provides the light that is lacking during the winter months.

Research has shown that the depression associated with SAD can be a result of decreased levels of serotonin. Light, such as that provided in blue light therapy, stimulates the production of serotonin. This returns serotonin levels to normal, which relieves depression and lifts your mood. 

Sleep disorders often happen when a hormone called melatonin is out of balance. Release of melatonin, a sleep regulator, slows when light is present and increases in darkness. Blue light therapy helps the body to reset the melatonin cycle. This enables you to fall asleep faster, sleep easier and awake feeling refreshed.

Acne occurs as a result of bacteria on the skin. Research has shown that some of the light found in sunlight activates a specific compound in this bacteria, which results in the death of the bacteria. Light therapy boxes mimic sunlight, thus providing the same effect. The result is fewer breakouts and a clearer, blemish-free complexion.

A search of blue light therapy devices revealed that there are a number on the market today, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. After doing some research and reading reviews I decided to go for the Philips Golite Blu, the most popular blue light therapy device.

Things to look for when shopping for light therapy boxes

Not all light therapy boxes are created equal. Many of us fall into the trap of buying the most expensive expecting it to be the best. However, price doesn’t always translate to quality. When shopping for a light therapy device, keep these things in mind:

  • Type of light
  • The settings
  • Portability
  • Usability
  • Durability

What type of light?

After browsing just a few bright light therapy devices, you will find that many have different types of light at differing strengths. The type of light can have an effect on the effectiveness of the therapy as well as the length of time necessary for it to provide relief from the depression of seasonal affective disorder.

Current research indicates that low intensity blue light at 470 nm is twice as effective as other lights and strengths. The Philips Golite Blu uses this type of light.

The settings: Is it made to work for my needs?

With the Philips Golite Blu , you can choose the intensity of the light. If you are new to using blue light therapy  it may be best to start at a lower intensity and work your way up.  In my case, the high intensity  setting hurts my eyes, so I use the medium intensity.

The device doubles as an alarm. This is a nice feature as it can replace your old alarm clock and be easily at hand ready to use when you wake up in the mornings. It also has a timer so you can pick how long you want it to run without having to worry about turning it off after each session.  15 to 30 minutes is a good duration to fight SAD symptoms.

Usability: How much trouble is it to use?

The Philips Golite is easy to use without a lot of fuss. Just turn it on while you’re eating breakfast or checking email at your desk.  The good thing is that you can use it while doing something else, like reading because you’re not supposed to look directly at the light (very bad for your eyes), but the light is supposed to shine at the side of your face.

Portability: Can I take it with me?

The small size of the Philips Golite LED light therapy device makes it easy to carry it along wherever you go (it’s got a chargeable battery). At 7x7x7 inches, it easily fits in your laptop case or suitcase. A lightweight 3.5 pounds, it won’t weigh you down either.

Durability: Will it stand up to use over time?

The Philips Golite is made to last. Light is provided with LEDs. Unlike traditional lights, which require changing on a fairly regular basis, LEDs are made to work for long periods of time.  The manufacturer indicates that it is durable enough to withstand daily use for approximately fifty years.

What do others think?

Checking the user reviews on websites that sell the Philips Golite Blu indicate that it is popular and effective. It is rated 4.5 stars out of 5. Some users have reported relief of their symptoms in as little as a week of use.

Are there any complaints?

There were few complaints about this product. A couple customers indicated dissatisfaction with the built-in stand not being able to direct the light where they desired. These were individuals who were under physician’s orders to have the light therapy boxes directed at a specific angle. This can be remedied by propping the device.

What should I expect to pay?

Prices can vary widely between sellers. Most range in price between $100 and $220. Currently, the lowest price can be found at Amazon, which sells them for $149.99 (at the time of writing). For this price, you get the Philips Golite Blu with:

  • Two year warranty
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Protective case
  • Instruction guide
  • A sleep education guide written by the National Sleep Foundation.

Click here to buy the Golite at Amazon…

January 13

Cinnamon: Weight Loss & Other Health Benefits

Posted by admin . Filed under Diet, Health Benefits, Lose Weight, supplements | 15 Comments

Cinnamon and Weight Loss

How can a “simple” spice like cinnamon help you lose weight and what are its other health benefits? Read on and discover how cinnamon and weight loss go hand in hand…

Disclaimer: the following information is based on human studies and suggested by preliminary evidence. More research about how and when cinnamon works is needed, but the results so far are really promising. This article is purely informational, I am not a doctor.

Cinnamon and Weight Loss

Cinnamon sticks for weight loss, how does that work? Cinnamon will help you lose weight because it has the ability to reduce your blood sugar level.

It does this in 2 ways:

  1. Cinnamon slows down the rate at which your stomach empties after a meal (gastric emptying). As a result your blood sugar increase will be slower than normal and you won’t feel hungry so fast.
  2. One of the working substances in cinnamon is cinnamaldehyde. Cinnamaldehyde improves the effectiveness of your insulin receptors, resulting in a quicker intake of glucose by your cells.

Why is reduced blood sugar good for weight loss?

When we eat carbohydrates are converted into blood sugar (glucose; our main source of energy). Your blood sugar level determines how hungry and how energetic you feel and also whether we store fat or burn it. When we have a high blood sugar level, a lot of insulin is produced and our body thinks there’s plenty of energy and starts storing fat instead of burning it. Another issue is that too much insulin causes too much blood sugar to be removed from our blood. As a result insulin and blood sugar levels drop, which makes us hungry and tired and want to eat.

Cinnamon Health Benefits

There are several other health benefits of cinnamon:

  • Diabetes type II: a condition in which cells fail to use insulin properly.  Cinnamon improves the efficiency of the insulin receptors (see above).
  • Cinnamon decreases cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Cinnamon helps indigestion: this function of cinnamon has been known for thousands of years.  The Chinese used and use cinnamon as a cure for diarrhea.
  • Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory and can be used as a relief for arthritis.
  • Cinnamon contains a lot of antioxidants (it has the highest dose known in a food substance).  Antioxidants terminate chain reactions started by free radicals in your body.  These chain reactions damage cells and DNA, causing diseases like cancer and heart diseases.
  • Cinnamon is antifungal: it can help to fight conditions like candidiasis (yeast infection).
  • Cinnamon is antibacterial: it prevents tooth decay (when used as an ingredient in mouthwash).
  • Cinnamon brings relief in case of allergic rhinitis (hay fever).
  • It is a good source of manganese, an important mineral that is used by a lot of enzymes in our body.

Types of Cinnamon

There are 2 main types of cinnamon:

  1. Ceylon Cinnamon (cinnamomum zeylanicum), also known as “real” cinnamon: cultivated in Sri Lanka.
  2. Cassia Cinnamon (cinnamomum cassia), also known as “fake” cinnamon: cultivated in China, looks darker and doesn’t taste as sweet as Ceylon Cinnamon.  It’s easy to recognize because the cassia cinnamon sticks roll up at both sides, like a scroll. Cassia contains coumarin (see below).

In this picture, Ceylon cinnamon is on the left, Cassia is on the right:

cinnamon 

It is not clear which of these 2 is the most effective towards weight loss.  Some sources say Cassia is the most effective, but no one seems to be sure about that.

There are more types of cinnamon, like Saigon Cinnamon or Burmese cinnamon, but Ceylon and Cassia are the most important and the most readily available.

Cinnamon Side Effects & Dosage

Is cinnamon safe?  Cassia Cinnamon contains 2 substances that are toxic to your liver and kidneys, when consumed in high doses: safrole and especially coumarin.  Don’t consumer more than 4 grams/day.

Dosage:

  • Ceylon: 1 to 6 grams/day.  About 4 gram works best (one and a half teaspoons).
  • Cassia: 1 to 4 grams/day.  Don’t use more because of the coumarin.

Side effects: Cinnamon doesn’t have any side effects, but there are some conditions in which you can’t use cinnamon:

  • Pregnancy/Breastfeeding:  don’t use cinnamon when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding because cinnamon has abortion inducing effects.
  • Some people have a cinnamon allergy or are hypersensitive to cinnamon, although this is rare.  Symptoms are skin rash, acne, inflammation of tongue and lips, mouth sores, etc
  • Don’t use cinnamon if you have kidney problems.
  • Don’t use cinnamon if you take blood thinners, because cinnamon is a blood thinner as well.
  • Don’t use cinnamon oil, it’s toxic and not meant for consumption.

Honey and Cinnamon Cures

A lot of books and websites prescribe cinnamon and honey tea as a solution to lose weight.  I see the health benefits of cinnamon, but I don’t see the benefits of honey and cinnamon.  Honey is healthier than table sugar because it contains more minerals and vitamins, but it’s still sugar.  I can’t see how sugar or honey can help weight loss so I don’t believe in a honey and cinnamon diet.

Cinnamon Supplements

You can buy cinnamon in bulk or as sticks, but cinnamon powder is also available in the form of capsules.

Cinnulin-PF is a water soluble extract of cinnamon.  The advantage of cinnamon supplements like these is that toxic substances like coumarin are filtered out.

July 20

How Many Calories Should You Eat To Lose Weight?

Posted by admin . Filed under Diet, Lose Weight | 17 Comments

How many calories should you eat to lose weight? Here’s a trick to calculate how much calories you should eat to lose weight:

Ideal weight (in kg) x 30 = Calories

Take your ideal weight and multiply it by 30. This should be the amount of calories you can eat a day. Of course this is not very precise because it doesn’t take important factors like lifestyle and gender into account.

Factors that influence how many calories you should eat:

  • Male/female
  • Active/sedentary life style
  • Age
  • Height
  • Weight

The US Department of Health and Human Services recommend the following numbers:

Sedentary lifestyle (less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity/day)

  • Male 18-30 yo: 2400 calories
  • Female 18-30: 2000 calories
  • Male 31-50: 2200 calories
  • Female 31-50:  1800 calories
  • Male 50+: 2000 calories
  • Female 50+: 1600 calories

More active lifestyle (more than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity/day)

  • Male 18-30 yo: 2600-3000 calories
  • Female 18-30: 2000-2400 calories
  • Male 31-50: 2400-3000 calories
  • Female 31-50:  2000-2200 calories
  • Male 50+: 1800-2200 calories
  • Female 50+: 2200-2800 calories

These numbers will maintain your current weight.

To lose weight you should increase your physical activity and reduce your caloric intake.  Try to eat 400 calories less than you are used to and you will soon start losing weight.

September 4

Why Sport is Good for Your Skin

Posted by admin . Filed under Exercise, Health Benefits, Skin Care | 14 Comments

Working out is the best skin care, here’s why:

  • Sport simulates your blood flow –> your skin gets more oxygen
  • Sweat helps your skin to expel toxins.
  • Movement stimulates your skin to produce more collagen, a protein that prevents wrinkles.
  • Sport relaxes your face muscles –> prevents crow’s feet

Some tips:

  • Before working out, remove your make up, it blocks your pores and impedes the sweat flow.
  • Use a moisturizer after the shower.
  • Drink plenty of water before and after your workout.

June 29

Is Agave Nectar a Health Scam?

Posted by admin . Filed under Avoid, Diet, Health Benefits, Lose Weight, Scam | 3 Comments

Blue Agave PlantAgave nectar aka agave syrup came of the shelves of your local health shop to the mainstream supermarkets and grocery stores.  It’s easy to see why, it’s sweet as hell, tastes good and this supposedly without the disadvantages of refined sugar.

But is agave really safe to use?

Here are the claimed health benefits of Agave and my thoughts about them:

  • Agave nectar is natural and organic.  Not!  Agave syrup is filtered and hydrolyzed into a complex form of fructose.  It is a highly processed form of sugar.  Depending on the processing, agave nectar can contain between 55 to 90% fructose, the rest is glucose.
  • Agave syrup has a low glycemic index.  This is true in some cases because agave nectar contains so much fructose and fructose has a low glycemic index.  But this doesn’t mean that agave syrup is healthy, fructose contributes to increased food intake and weight gain.
  • Agave nectar is low calorie.  Not!  It contains 16 calories/teaspoon, about the same as white sugar.

Here are some other dangers of fructose:

  • Fructose malabsorption: digestive disorder of the small intestine.  People with fructose malabsorption don’t digest fructose well, leading to general ill health, poor skin and hair, anaemia (deficiency of red blood cells), osteoporosis, fatigue, …
  • Decreased glucose tolerance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
  • Increased levels of uric acid, which can lead to heart diseases.
  • Processed fructose has been stripped from all minerals, vitamins and enzymes.  To assimilate itself, it robs your body from these nutrients, which can lead to loss of zinc, iron, magnesium and calcium.

Conclusion: agave nectar is a scam –> avoid it at all costs!

A better, more healthy sweetener: Blackstrap Molasses

June 25

Alcohol and Weight Loss

Posted by admin . Filed under Avoid, Health Benefits, Lose Weight | 10 Comments

Alcohol and weight loss Contrary to popular belief, it are not the calories in alcohol that produce a beer belly.  The problem with alcohol is that it reduces the amount of fat your body burns to get energy.

Here’s how it works:

  • Only a small percentage of your alcohol intake turns into fat.
  • The liver converts a major portion of the alcohol in acetate, which enters your blood.
  • Your body uses the acetate as a source of energy instead of fat.

The second problem with alcohol is that it is a strong appetizer and increases your calorie intake.

Alcohol also raises levels of the hormone called cortisol (“stress hormone”), which increases the breakdown of testosterone.  People who drink a lot have smaller muscles because of this.  Muscles have a positive effect on weight loss because they burn a lot of calories and keep your metabolism up (more about this here: Build Muscle to Burn Fat).

Now, you can ask yourself the question why some heavy drinkers don’t get fat.  Simple: most alcoholics skip meals and replace food with alcoholic drinks.

What about the positive effects of alcohol on your cardiovascular health?  I wouldn’t recommend daily drinking… Despite of the positive effects, alcohol has many negative effects that outweigh the advantages.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a drink now and then, just don’t make it a habit!

June 23

New Research: Eating Fat Increases Your Hunger

Posted by admin . Filed under Avoid, Diet, Health Benefits, Lose Weight | 3 Comments

Fat Foods Increase Desire to Eat A recent American study shows that eating fat food increases the desire to eat more food.  Fat foods trigger the release of a hormone called ghrelin.  This hormone is produced in the stomach and pancreas and stimulates hunger, increases food intake and fat mass.  You usually have higher levels of ghrelin before meals and lower levels after meals.

Until recently it was thought that ghrelin kicked into action in case of an empty stomach, but this theory seems to be obsolete.  The new study shows that ghrelin only increases while eating fat food.  Our brains then get the signal to store these fats.

Not all fats trigger ghrelin production though.  Like you now, there are good fats and there are bad fats.  ghrelin production is only triggered by saturated fats (the bad ones, think butter, ground beef, chocolate, fats in fast food, …).  Unsaturated fats (Omega 3, think fish oil, linseed oil, butternuts, …) have no impact on ghrelin levels.

So, a good tip for fat loss: go easy on saturated fats…

March 18

How To Lose Weight: 22 Pounds In 24 Hours

Posted by admin . Filed under Avoid, Exercise, Lose Weight | 12 Comments

This is exactly what Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere And Join The New Rich (great book btw), did when he competed in the Sanshou (an eclectic form of kung fu) national championship in 1999.

When arriving on the site he weighed 187 lbs and wanted to lose weight so he could compete in the 165-lb weight class.  He lost 22 lbs (about 10kg)  in 20 hours by severely dehydrating himself (80% of you is water).

To achieve this, he combined:

  • Temperature treatments (very hot baths) to lose water through the skin.
  • Using diuretics (dandelion root and caffeine) to lose water through urination

After the weigh-in, he gained 28 lbs (about 12kg) by rapid hydration so  he would be in optimal condition to compete.

Needless to say this is not healthy and in fact very dangerous (some athletes die doing this).  These techniques don’t make you lose fat, only water and are only useful for competition sports.  Don’t try this at home!

Read more on Tim Ferris’ blog here.

Here’s a video of a Sanshou competition:

 

March 6

Are You a Tofi?

Posted by admin . Filed under Avoid, Diet, Exercise, Lose Weight | 3 Comments

"Tofi = Thin on the Outside, Fat on the Inside"

Tofis are people who appear thin, but have lots of internal fat.  Too much internal fat (aka visceral fat) is hazardous to your health because it is situated around the organs.  Tofis look healthy, but are not…

What are the causes?

  • Diet GirlNot enough exercise.  Although they appear slim, most tofis have little or no exercise.
  • Bad eating habits. They say that some people can eat all they want without getting fat.  Well, it may appear this way, but now we know this is not always the case.  It’s not always over-eating though, even people who are underweight can have lots of internal fat.  The key is to change your diet: eat healthy and regularly.
  • Doing crash diets.
  • Genes.  Not a lot you can do about this…

Tofis need to worry about their health, because the hidden fat around the organs is of a dangerous kind.  Situated around the heart, the muscles, the liver, …, this kind of fat is more dangerous than fat that is under the skin and can lead to diabetes, heart problems and cancer.

This also means that BMI is not a good method of measuring fat in relation to health.  The important thing to know is where the fat is situated.  Sumo wrestlers, who have a lot of external fat, are generally healthy people with low cholesterol, low insulin resistance and a low level of fatty acids.  That is because although they have a lot of fat under their skin, they hardly have any internal fat.  That is because, besides eating up to 5000 calories/day,  they have a lot of exercise.

Once again it comes down to 2 basic things: a healthy diet and lots of exercise…

February 27

The "Eat Clean" Diet

Posted by admin . Filed under Diet, Lose Weight | 6 Comments

The Eat Clean Diet There’s a "new" diet in town and it’s becoming a hype because people like Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman and Halle Berry picked it up.  It’s called the eat-clean diet.  I apostrophized the word "new" in the first sentence because this diet is nothing new in my eyes, it’s just common sense and boils down to what most health practitioners have been advising the last couple of decades.

The Eat Clean diet was developed by Tosca Reno and is meant to give you more energy and a shiny appearance. 

Here are some of the basic guidelines:

  • Eat 6 meals a day: breakfast, lunch, dinner and 3 in-betweens.  This helps to promote a higher metabolism.
  • Drink 2 to 3 liter of water a day.
  • Avoid processed food: sugar, white bread, potato chips, blue apples …
  • Eat whole grains.  Remember that most brown bread is not made of whole grains.
  • Eat lean proteins like fish or chicken.
  • Eats lots of fruit and vegetables
  • Once in a while you can eat something sweet, but choose dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate and don’t eat the whole thing, just a piece of it.
  • Choose biofood

Do you see anything new here??