Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Paying Forward The Happy Holiday Hundred

I wanted to do something for our employees today for the holidays. 

We are so blessed. And often the richness of our lives is so pervasive that we forget. It gets tuned out like the white noise we no longer see or feel or taste. 

Just as we become numb to our own blessings, we also tune out the need that lives and breathes around us every day. 

So our employees came together today for our end of the year lunch together. We had pizza and chatted, and then talked about the holidays. During this lunch, I told them I wanted them to think outside themselves. Reflect on the ample good fortune they enjoy, but also the need present in others. 

At that point, each employee was given a sealed envelope with a personal letter I wrote for them and our relationship together. Then each got a second envelope with a single $100 bill in it. 

I asked them to think about who they've seen in their lives, for whom $100 would make a huge difference. It doesn't have to be a homeless person, but it could be. It doesn't have to be a struggling vet, but it could be. 

They were recognize need. Think about where you've seen it, and give. I honestly don't care to know who, it doesn't matter. They don't need to tell me about it later, it's not about that. 

Just pay this forward. 

The very act of just thinking about giving is transformative. It opens us up to recognize our own gifts, to realize the need that swims around us every day, and most importantly to see possibility that we could actually make a difference. 

Already, one person said they have seen people at a nearby run down grocery store who could really use the grocery money. Another said there's an online location for making small loans those less fortunate. All of them thinking about need, and how they can step into that space to help.

Project kindness into this world. That alone changes us. And in this way "paying it forward" already comes back to enrich us before the money is ever even given away. 

Happy Holidays everyone.  

For more information: Click here to visit Will Clower's website.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

If you're lucky, complementary med supplements give you really expensive pee (STUDY)

We want to live healthy lives, and be our best every day. But it isn't always easy when we're bombarded by ALL CAPS claims of revolutionary results (!), super solutions (!), and unbelievable outcomes (!). 

In addition to the ads, there's the fact that we just have a billion kinds of solutions on the table at any one time.  #confusing
To make your life at least a wee bit less complicated, at least we can rule this one out. This article in the Journal of Human Hypertension reviewed 23 published papers and 88 scientific abstracts between 2010 and 2014. They were looking for those studies which used Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for the treatment of heart disease and high blood pressure.
The question they were looking for? Do any/some/all of these solutions work? 
You may not recognize the acronym CAM, but you definitely know the supplements that people take, which fall into this category: St. Johns Wort, fish oil, multivitamins, Ginko, Garlic, CoQ10, etc.  (full table is below).
What did this "study of studies" find? You have to read this: 
There are certain CAM products like garlic, CoQ10, fish oil and multivitamins, which may not be very effective in lowering the BP, serum cholesterol or not preventing CVD and HF, but they are safe and can be taken together with conventional medicines, although the evidence for benefit is neither strong nor consistent (ref). However, there are others such as ginseng, St John’s wort, Ginkgo biloba, hawthorn, saw palmetto, dansen and licorice that can cause serious adverse effects through drug interactions or by themselves.
In other words, this exhaustive scientific review concludes that the "solutions" are either ineffective or harmful

This means that the best case scenario is that your pill does no harm and you simple excrete it out. In other words, if you're lucky, all you'll get is really expensive pee. 

For ourselves and our families, we do need to choose from among the myriad choices and voices clamoring for our attention. However, we also have to be careful about non-solutions that may actually do more harm than good. Moreover, I'm not sure exactly what people get out of their commitment to really expensive pee, but I am sure that it's not exactly what they were looking for. 

"The clinical significance and costs of herbs and food supplements used by complementary and alternative medicine for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases and hypertension"
~S G Chrysant

Table 1. Herbs and food supplements used for the treatment of CVD and HTN

Drug interaction
Side effect
Antidiabetic, digoxin, warfarin
Hypogly, Dig, tox thrombosis
St John’s wort
Depression, DM
Poss. effective
Drugs affecting CYP3A4
Mother wort
Sedative, tachycardia
Poss. effective
Drugs affecting CYP3A4
Demen., CVD, HTN
Drugs affecting CYP3A4
Cholest. HTN, CVD
Poss. effective
Poss. effective
Dig. toxicity
Saw palmetto
Poss. effective
Poss. effective
Peptic ulcer/Chinese
Poss. effectve
HTN, hypokal

Food sweetener
No longer used

Cardiac arrhythmias
Cholest. HTN, CVD
Poss. effective
Vitamin E
Cholest. CVD
Poss. effective
Vitamin C
Poss. effective
Vitamin B
Poss. effective
Fish oil
Poss. effective


Poss. effective
 Abbreviations: BPH, benign prostatic hypertrophy; CAD, coronary artery disease; CVD, cardiovascular disease; cholest., cholesterol; demen, dementia; HF, heart failure; HTN, hypertension; poss., possibly; hypokal, hypokalemia; NA, not applicant.

For more information: Click here to visit Will Clower's website.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

STUDY: Behavioral Changes Associated With Lower Obesity

HOW you eat, can determine how much you are hungry for. This, in turn can contribute to obesity.

That's the theory anyway. But how does it hold up if you were to actually test it? 

These scientists performed a systematic and exhaustive review with a "meta-analysis of epidemiological studies to provide a reliable close estimate of the association between eating rate and obesity."

In other words, this is a study of studies, to see if others have consistently found a link between eating pace and obesity. 

They included data from 23 published studies and found that (across all these populations) those who ate quickly were statistically more likely to be obese than those who ate more slowly.

How Does This Make Sense?
In over 15,000 subjects who have run through our eating behavior change program, we find that slower eating leads to substantially smaller portions at the plate (from one-half to one-third). This may be due to the delayed satiety signals that can help curtain hunger, and so calories, and so weight. 

How Does This NOT Make Sense? 
I love this study, but it's only a correlation. In other words, those who at faster tended to be heavier. While this makes sense, and there is a mechanism to explain why this would be true, there could also be something else that ALSO explains this relationship. 

For example, in the 1950s, someone found a correlation between coffee drinking and cancer. Those who drink coffee are more likely to get cancer. BUT, what were coffee drinkers in the 1950s also doing? Smoking. Once smoking was factored out, the cancer linkage went away.  

The Bottom Line for your Bottom Lines
This result makes perfect sense and certainly may be true. And even though this is a tentative result, it really costs you nothing to give this a shot for yourself to see if it has the same impact on your hunger, and so calories, and so weight. Good luck, you got this!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The S&P Challenge. Just do this with me for a couple of weeks.

From now until the end of August, I want you to do some amount of situps and some amount of pushups every day. It's something we do in my house, and are encouraging our corporate groups to do as well. 

Do you have to wear spandex? 

Do you have to go to the gym? 

Do you have to buy an abs blaster? 

You don't even have to grunt and sweat! Just be consistent and do your S&Ps one time per day. 

How many? 
That is totally up to you. If you can only do 10 pushups now, start with 10. I started w 25. If you can only do 20 situps now, start with that. I started with 25. 

Give it, seriously, 10 days and the pushups get easier, the situps get easier, and you start having more energy in your day. When it's comfortable for you to add a couple more, do that and let us know. 

Ain't nobody got no time for that!
Actually, that's the great thing about this challenge. It takes almost no time at all. For me, I do this right after morning coffee and requires all of 90 seconds out of my life.  NINETY SECONDS. 

That's nothing. 

Plus, you don't have to travel, and you do it right in your floor.  

To make sure you follow through, get your person to do this with you. Spouse, friend, or your kids. Make it "a thing" where they remind you to do your S&Ps and you remind them.

How long? 
Add your S&Ps each day until September 1. Come back here and write what change it has made for you. 

This is easy. It's quick. And it's effective. Grab the low hanging fitness fruit. 

For more information: Click here to visit Will Clower's website.

Monday, August 10, 2015

On That Fake Chocolate Study

I find myself in an awkward position. 

Journalist John Bohannon wanted to show that the scientific review process can have huge holes in it. He also wanted to show that the media review of scientific (sounding) stories is often completely uncritical. 

Because of these two factors, what gets to the public can be anything from true, to benignly misleading, to flat out false.

So he designed an intentionally shoddy study that happened to show a relationship between chocolate and weight loss. 

As part of his ruse, the result was trumpeted as a legitimate outcome and many in the media presented it without checking sources, the “institute” they fabricated for this, or the conditions of the study itself.

Mission accomplished.

But why is this awkward? 

Because he did it using chocolate as the variable and weight loss as the outcome. And I wrote a book entitled Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight! This work draws from 121 references, along with scientist interviews on the impact of high cocoa chocolate, cocoa, and the catechin polyphenols found in cocoa on cellular and organ levels, in humans and experimental animals. 

In writing this work, I know how to be restrained when interpreting results. I know the difference between correlation and causation and the need to replicate research because one result does not a conclusion make.


And yet, despite this leg work to make sure the scientific Ts were crossed and Is were dotted, Bohannon’s reporting on the fake study projected an image that linked together the ideas of chocolate and diet and hoax.


For example, when he revealed that he had lied, headlines largely reported on it by linking the words chocolate and weight loss to words like fake and hoax. 


A reviewer on Amazon actually cited his intentionally fraudulent study as evidence that my entire body of work on this was a sham. “So in the end, eating chocolate IS NOT proven to help you lose weight. In fact, the opposite is the case.”


Ironically, one of the points of the Bohannon spoof was that once the idea gets out into the media, it takes on a life of its own as the most dramatic headline gets passed forward with little scrutiny. It’s promoted because the headline is one that people want to read.


This is exactly what has happened with reporting of his own study.


Bohannon’s main outcome (some media outlets provide unreliable information because they’re uncritical) shared equal billing with the much more clickable notion about the failure of the chocolate-weight loss connection. And this connection was just as uncritically delivered.


Just to be clear, substantial and broad ranging research shows that cocoa consumption benefits many factors involved in maintaining health, and a healthy weight. This aspect of the story was never mentioned.

For this reason, even his news story -- itself designed to reveal that the media often report skewed versions of the news,  -- has done just that. The main result was presented as it was because some headlines are just more likely to get more views. It has become a cartoon of itself.

For more information: Click here to visit Will Clower's website.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Internal SPF. The Top 5 Countdown of Best Foods. Number 1.

Those of you who know me saw this coming from a mile away. Hmmm, wonder what the number one food is going to be?? It turns out that the cocoa in the chocolate that you love to love can also protect your skin from UV damage from the sun.

In a study in London, researchers gave two very happy subject groups chocolate to eat for 12 weeks. However, one of them received a high-flavanol chocolate, such as you might get with a high-cocoa chocolate. The second received a low-flavanol chocolate, such as you might get with lighter milk chocolates and “chocolate” confections. After 12 weeks, they tested the skin of these participants with a challenge of UV light to see whether the cocoa flavanols did anything more that make the subjects happy every day.

Over the 12 weeks of chocolate eating, the skin of those who ate the low-flavanol version was no more or less protected from UV radiation. 

No change. However, those who ate the high-flavanol chocolate doubled their protection compared to the baseline.


In other words, after less than 2 weeks of eating high-flavanol chocolate, subjects’ skin was protected from burning even at twice the UV level. Why would this be? What explanation can make that make sense?

One rationale may come from the fact that high-cocoa chocolate can increase microcirculation into the skin itself

Increased blood flow to the topmost layers of the skin (those within only 1 millimeter of the surface) can provide the healthy oxygenation your skin needs to help protect itself.  
Another potential route to skin protection could be the particular polyphenols (catechins and epicatechins) themselves. These specific antioxidants are also found in high concentrations in drinks like green tea, which have a well established effect on suppressing the effects of photoaging, UV-induced radiation, immunosuppression, and carcinogenic activity.

The precise biochemical blah bitty blah is less important for most people than learning that high cocoa chocolate is amazing for your heart, your mind, and now even your skin. In fact, you should treat it like your daily vitamin (vitamin Ch)!

For more information: Click here to visit Will Clower's website.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Internal SPF. The Top 5 Countdown of Best Foods. Number 2.

Let me just be the bearer of good news here. Wine is good for you (Lawyer-Induced Disclaimer: if you don’t overconsume it). We knew this already, but some of the same wine molecules that turn out to be great for your heart, are also beneficial to your skin.

The thing in grapes and wine that are helping your skin, among many other things, are called proanthocyanidins. Blah blah blah with the letter-salad, the important thing is that these elements of wine are really good for your skin. Like you needed one more reason to have a glass with dinner!

Most of the research work has been done with supplementation actually, although there have been some subjects willing to drink wine for science. What a hardship, right? 

Here’s what they found.

The proanthocyanidins protected the skin of lab animals from controlled exposure to UV radiation. Another advantage of them is that they also increased skin hydration. So in addition to providing significant photoprotection for melanocyte skin cells from the oxidative stress of UV exposure, they also help prevent the drying wrinkling sagging skin droop that happens with continual exposure to the sun.

So. We’ve covered lab animals and supplements. What about what we all really want to know? What about humans drinking wine?

Well, drinking red wine itself also provides the skin protection and “may impair the UV-induced erythema reaction as well as carcinogenesis and metastasis of melanoma and epithelial skin cancer.” 

However, and I know how crazy this sounds, but when the scientists actually had their subjects soak in wine baths, it didn’t help their skin. All that time you spent. All that wine!

Keep in mind that the critical element to the protective effect of the wine has absolutely zero to do with the alcohol. None. And I know this sounds like just another Lawyer-Induced Disclaimer, but don’t drink wine because you think it will make you healthier. Drink it because you like it and can control consumption.

A happy correlate of that Cabernet is skin that can be healthier in the process.

For more information: Click here to visit Will Clower's website.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Internal SPF. The Top 5 Countdown of Best Foods. Number 3.

The number 3 best foods to get an internal SPF for your skin include all things that have carotenes in them. And like everything else in the world, if a little is good, a lot it not. 

That's because if you eat too many carrots and your skin will turn orange/yellow, like a jaundiced oompa loompa. This condition is called carotenemia, and happens because the carotenes you eat get deposited in your skin.

It’s reversible though, no worries. Just step away from that sweet potato pie for a couple of days and you’re skin will go back to normal.

The good news is that those same carotenes found in all yellow/orange veggies as well as kale and green leafys also absorb both natural and artificial UV radiation, which is the same function of the naturally occurring melanin in your skin.

Maybe you want to skip your veggies and dose up on carotenes with megavitamins. Think again loompa, because recent studies have found that high dose pills actually increase the risk of lung cancer among those who smoke.

Increase it. So don’t think too hard. Seriously. Just eat food.

While you’re munching on your carrot, you might want to add something red to your plate as well. Tomato paste, sun dried tomatoes, and cooked tomatoes all have another species of carotene called lycopene. The equivalent of 2.5 tablespoons of tomato paste (16 mg lycopene) over 8 weeks produced measurable protection from sunburn.

So include orange and red foods like tomatoes, carrots, and squash every chance you get, to boost your skin’s ability to prevent damaging sunburn.

For more information: Click here to visit Will Clower's website.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Internal SPF. The Top 5 Countdown of Best Foods. Number 4.

Ellagic acid. You’ve almost certainly never heard of this component of at least 46 different fruits and nuts. 

But it's a huge cancer fighter found in highest concentrations in strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, pomegranate, walnuts, and pecans.

So yes, it is a cancer fighter also crazy good for your skin. How good? 

If you whip up a little baggie of healthy trail mix before hiking in the sun, will this actually help your skin at all? Or will you just end up wishing you’d stuck with your version 1.0 trail mix of M&Ms, Peanut M&Ms, and caramels?

We should talk about the cancer stuff first though, because it’s kind of amazing. The ellagic acids found in these berries and nuts can help protect your DNA from damage and mutations. Mutations are great in zombie movies and sadly outdated explanations for superhero powers.  But for you and your skin, they’re definitely on the not invited-to-the-party list.

One of the ways ellagic acid foods safeguard your DNA is by allowing cancer cells to go ahead and die like normal cells do after they’ve lived a long healthy productive life of whatever it is they do all day. 

That way, instead of cells going all zombie apocalypse, never dying and eating your organs, they shut down, die, and go to heaven.

Back to your skin, it turns out that ellagic acid can also inhibit the growth of melanoma cells, which are the Darth Vader of skin cancers. Fight them, you must. 

Foods with ellagic acid can help you do just that. In fact, in three cancer cell lines investigated, ellagic acid inhibited the growth and spread of them all.  

Keep in mind that this protection was found for cells living in a petri dish and, while promising, doesn’t show that eating blackberry pie everyday will help your skin just yet. One particular study did seem to show that oral consumption of pomegranate extract (high in ellagic acid) helped protect the skin from sun burn … but that was just one study. 

So far, this all sounds weak so far, except that there’s another aspect to it. You know how when some people get in the sun, they get those brown patches. They’re like little smutty grayish stains, largely on their forehead, cheeks, nose and upper lip. 

Exactly zero people want this.

Those face blotches are caused by sun damage which, you guessed it, are prevented AND reversed by eating foods that have ellagic acid in them.

Now I have your attention.

An ellagic acid extract from pomegranate did this by inhibiting the number of dark melanocytes in the epidermis. The result was lightened “freckles and stains” and reduce UV-induced photoaging in the skin.

Bottom line? Eat berries and nuts. They’re not only a mouth explosion of awesome, they help keep your skin from going all blotchy on you.

For more information: Click here to visit Will Clower's website.

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