Monthly Archives: November 2019

Building Resiliency: Don’t Visit Pity City

References: LamondCurr Geront Ger Res., J. Psychiatric Research, Philip Chard,

What’s resiliency? The most straightforward definition is that resilience connotes the ability to adapt positively to adversity. Folks who are 100 years old have it. If you are 60, or 50 or 40, and you want to live to be 100, it might just serve you well to start developing resiliency in yourself. In fact, as best we can tell, being resilient might be one of the strongest predictors of healthy aging. Hmmm. Sounds good. 
How do you measure it, define it, study it? If you look at the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale of 1395 women over age 60 in San Diego, you will find that four factors stand out: (1) personal control and goal orientation, (2) adaptation and tolerance for negative affect, (3) leadership and trust in instincts, and (4) spiritual coping. The strongest predictors of in this study were higher emotional well-being, optimism, self-rated successful aging, social engagement, and fewer cognitive complaints. 
My eye caught #2, adaptation and tolerance for negative affect. Why? Because of a recent lecture by one of Milwaukee’s leading lights on psychological wellness, Philip Chard, entitled “Realistic Optimism. In that brilliant lecture, he warns that one shouldn’t spend too much time in Pity City. “You can visit Pity City, but you shouldn’t take up residence there.” 

What does that mean in regard to resilience? You can acknowledge your pain and hurt from life’s left turns. You can name it. You can declare it. But then the parking meter runs out and you need to get out of town. Leave life’s hurts behind you. (Isn’t that easily said.). It’s the practice that is the hard part. To leave painful events behind, you have to practice. And when you see that hurt and leave it behind, you essentially build the psychological muscles, the inner strength, to do it again with harder stuff. “Don’t get your undies in a bundle,” said your Grandmother. “Don’t be such a pity pot,” quotes Holly Whitcomb in her book, “The Practice of Finding” where she details self – pity as an obstacle to gratitude. Gratitude leads to “enough”. Leaving one little hurt behind you and defining yourself as able to do so inherently defines you as able, as strong enough to overcome that little annoyance. Psychological pushups. 
It’s practice that may be the key. Rick Hanson, Ph.D., in his book “Resilient: How to Grow a Core of Calm, Strength and Happiness” details the process of building that resilience. He notes that it is crucial to notice the behaviors you want, then savor them, repeat them, remember them and strengthen the neuro-circuits in your brain with that repetition and remembering. Build brain muscle with the little stuff, and then you have the capacity to survive life’s outrageous slings and arrows.
What happens when you indulge in self-pity? You build the opposite. You are inherently defining yourself as a victim, powerless and unable. The logic appears stronger and stronger in your own brain as you argue for your own victimhood. The longer you linger in Pity City, the more you reinforce the circuits in your own brain that you are weak, ineffective and powerless. And that correlates in opposition to resilience. You become passive, inactive and in chronic anxiety.

Sign up for Philip Chard’s weekly blog. Watch for his next public lecture.

WWW: What will work for me? I love the phrase “Pity City”. It makes the context of psychological pain have an element of humor that disarms the gloomy doom of adversity. “Sounds like the parking meter is running”, I say when I hear the whisper of complaint. I’ve named it, I’ve felt it. I’m allowed 15 minutes. After that, I get a parking ticket for lounging around too long in Pity City. As best I can tell, I pay a visit to that suburb several times a day. I’d rather laugh at myself and relish my abandoning it. “Tick, tick, tick..” muses my spouse when she hears me gripe. “The Meter is running! Do you need more coins or shall we get on with it.”

Pop Quiz

  1. Define resilience! Answer: “the ability to adapt positively to adversity”
  2. Why is it important? Answer: Folks who develop resilience live longer, happier lives.
  3. How can I develop it? Answer: Practice on the little stuff.
  4. How long am I allowed to linger in Pity City? Answer: until the parking meter runs out.
  5. What happens when I let “my undies get unbundled”? Answer: you claim your inner toughness and strength. And you give a nod to your tough old Grandma with all the wisdom of her ages, as resilient and centered as she was.

Insulin release and artificial sweeteners

References: Biomedical ResearchScience DailyNature CommunicationsDiabetes Poster Presentation 2017Medical News TodayTime MagazineJr Sci Food AgPLosOne,

Are artificial sweeteners safe for you? What effect do they have on weight? How do I sort all this out? 
The first and foremost point to understand is that insulin is not, repeat NOT your blood sugar controlling hormone. It is your calorie STORAGE hormone. It is the hormone you secrete when carbs are abundant (just before winter) when it is critical that you put on weight so that you have a margin of calories to make it through the winter. Insulin is the key driver to weight gain. Hence, it’s absence is the key driver to weight loss. With adult-onset diabetes, folks become insulin resistant, have quite high insulin levels but ironically also high glucose levels. 
How is insulin released? This is important to understand. It is not just in response to blood glucose. It’s first release occurs because of the flavor sweet on the tongue. That’s called the cephalic phase. Then, the rate of rise of glucose in the blood has a direct impact. We call that the glycemic index of food. The higher the glycemic index, the faster the rate of rise. The faster the rate of rise, the more insulin is secreted.

This unpacks and explains the confusion over blood glucose levels and artificial sweeteners. If your blood sugar doesn’t go up with the use of an artificial sweetener, does that occur because your insulin level went up faster and earlier? Did you have a burst of insulin that camouflages your metabolic response making it look like the artificial sweetener was just dandy and safe to use?

That’s the confusion that you will see in the discussion about artificial sweeteners. Those folks who are trying to get you to buy the stuff will say “blood glucose didn’t rise” as though that was a virtue. At first blush, you believe them and eagerly sign on to use the sweeteners. 
But cracks appear in the scientific edifice. Clear data shows that folks using artificial sweeteners gain weightDrinking a diet soda a day results in weight gain. Why is that? It’s because the endocrine effect of insulin lasts longer than the glucose. When you stimulate insulin, your body is really thinking there are carbs arriving in the stomach and you will have glucose showing up in the blood for the next 4-12 hours. No surprise then that insulin lasts at least 6-8 hours. If you have insulin around for that long and didn’t have any calories to actually show for it, what happens to your blood glucose 4-8 hours out? Bingo: it is lower than it would have been and you are hungrier to make up for it. You eat more before satisfied. You gain weight. 
Another way to look at it is the effect of insulin on ketones. Ketones are made when you are digesting and burning fat (weight loss). Ketones are present only when your insulin level is very low. I can’t find any original research on ketones except my own repeated experiments on myself. Once I am in a ketogenic state, meaning beta-hydroxybutyrate above 2.0, the consumption of 70 calories of carbs in the form of a single small sweet potato will lower my ketones for up to 36 hours before they recover to the prior level. That happens even when I’m in a Fast Mimicking state of only 800 calories a day. You could make the argument that insulin has some residual endocrine effect for up to 36 hours. 

So what happens with artificial sweeteners? That’s the rub. The most widely quoted study in Jr Sci Food Ag claims that stevia is great because it keeps blood sugar lower than anything else. But to your and my eyes, that should now shout out at you, “It means your insulin was higher than anything else!” This may be why Jason Fung claims in the Obesity Code that stevia raises insulin more than table sugar. And that is horrible. If artificial sweeteners control your blood sugar better, but really actually raise your insulin higher, then they are worse for you than we imagined. You will get fatter, faster. It’s the very nature of the flavor sweet. And being 300 times more potent than sugar, as Stevia is, is actually a curse, not a blessing.

What’s a person to do? We need to think of food as having an insulin index more importantly than a glycemic index. Our ability to flex our fuel source between carbs and ketones (sugars and fats) is completely dependent on the presence of insulin in a responsive, supple state. Artificial sweeteners screw that up.

WWW: What will work for me. We have discussed the disruption of your brain with artificial sweeteners but the concept that even stevia increases my insulin is sobering. I just can’t say that stevia is benign. I’m weaning myself down off the flavor sweet. I’m using half a packet of Stevia in a cup of coffee as my current goal.

Pop Quiz:

  1. What determines the glycemic index? Answer: The rate of rise of blood glucose from any given food compared to pure glucose. Pure glucose is assigned 100 and other foods are percentages of that. The glycemic load combines the rate of rise with the total carb count, which also matters.
  2. Artificial sweeteners do what to insulin? Answer: The flavor sweet on the tongue set off insulin secretion as part of the cephalic phase of insulin response, just like the sight and smell of food.
  3. People who use diet sodas lose weight? T or F. Answer: False, they gain weight.
  4. Some of the artificial sweeteners were found during the course of looking for what environmental poisons? Answer: Pesticides. (Splenda or sucralose resulted.). But the analogy is there. They really are metabolic poisons, best avoided and weaned off.
  5. Some of the artificial sweeteners were found during the course of looking for what environmental poisons?     Answer: Pesticides.   (Splenda or sucralose resulted.). But the analogy is there.  They really are metabolic poisons, best avoided and weaned off.

Prolonged Sitting Isn’t Helped by Fish Oil, But Exercise, Fidgeting, and Standing Does Help

References: Appl Phys Nutr Met., Am Jr Phys Heart Phys,Inter Jour Mol Med., Cosmic Heart, Human Heart,

This is so sobering! You just can’t sit for 3 hours at a time. It’s a big, fat problem. It makes “endothelial dysfunction” in the walls of your arteries. The language that is used sounds like this: “sustained reduction in blood flow-induced shear stress” is what happens when you sit too long. 
What on earth is shear stress? You might be surprised to take a deep dive into how much is known about it. It’s the nugget of what is actually happening in your arteries when a pulse of blood good by. Your arteries stretch, but they also have surface shearing on the face of cells exposed to the blood flowing by. They get stretched by that flow. That sets of “activation of ion channels and of G proteins, induction of oscillations in intracellular calcium concentration, alterations in the expression of various important genes, and extensive cytoskeletal reorganization”. 
But that’s not all. You thought your heart was a pump, pumping blood. Reconsider that. It is probably actually more like a hydraulic ram encouraging the momentum of swirling blood, all of which has negative ions on the surface that electrically and magnetically repel the cells from the negative ions on the surface of the endothelium. Just like fluid naturally flows down your bathtub drain in a swirl, your arteries may be much the same. Now, your bathtub is explained by the Coriolis effect of momentum, perhaps we are more attached to Mother Earth ourselves by magnetism and gravity. Your heart may be sucking blood more than pumping. (Read Cowan’s book: Cosmic Heart, Human Heart.). But all that swirling and flowing causes your artery cells to have a special set of forces on their surfaces. Sitting screws that up. 
And you sit all day long. I sit all day long. Desks. Easy chairs. Televisions. Computers. Cell phones. Couches. Plays, concerts, airplane rides, car rides, church, temples, …we sit. Prior to civilization, prior to chairs and leather upholstery, we stood and walked. The Hazda (the world’s most Stone Age tribe) walk 29,000 steps a day. Yesterday I went for a 6-mile hike and put in 18,000 steps, but the day before, I sat and got 1,850 steps. Bummer.

That’s the takeaway from this week. Sitting makes the lining of your arteries dysfunctional. They can’t do their normal, proper shear-stress thing. Taking fish oil for 8 weeks won’t fix it. Prior exercise helps a littleStanding eliminates it. Even “fidgeting” as defined by wiggling your leg for one minute every 4 minutes helps. Ha. Standing eliminates it. 
What’s a modern office worker to do? We know what we should do. It’s doing it that is hard. Stand. Standing desks, standing at home, walking.

WWW: What will work for me. I was quite inspired with a visit to my new granddaughter in Geneva, Switzerland. Her father (my son) stands at his desk all day long. Doesn’t even have a chair. (Note the change of emphasis from son to the new “princess” who gets all the attention). We need to find ways to make this work. It’s the getting up and down all day long that helps. Fidgeting helps. Getting up and down helps.

Pop Quiz

  1. What is your average step-count per day? Answer: About 5,500. Almost everyone else on Earth walks more.
  2. How does blood flow through your arteries? Answer: It probably spins through, repelled by electrical forces of sulfate ions on the surface of red cells, which explains how red cells can get through capillaries smaller than themselves.
  3. What is shear stress? Answer: the normal ebb and flow, like seagrass in waves, over the surface of your cells.
  4. What is the problem with sitting? Answer: We have a reduction of that shear stress response because our blood flow is simply stopped and plugged up by sitting.
  5. What’s the solution? Answer: Anything but sitting. Fidgeting will work, every four minutes. Standing is better. Walking wins.

Celery Juice – Miracle or Sham?

References: New York TimesKim KardiashianDr MercolaMedical Medium’s Celery JuiceNatural Medicine JournalAdvances in Regenerative BiologyUS WeeklyDirty Dozen Vegetables,

Ok, everyone is doing it! You can’t miss Kim Kardashian no matter where you hide, so when she touts celery juice, you hear about it. US Weekly will tell you all the stars snarfing it down. If you want to look like Jennifer Anniston, go for it. Even the staid New York Times has run an article about it. A little more “out there” is Dr. Mercola who actually has a staff that digs into research and produces reasonably broad scoped articles, albeit all aimed at selling something he has for sale. He likes it. 
That’s not what caught my eye. My attention got caught when one of my clients returned from a health spa where he embarked on a 10 day fast, given only a glass of celery juice twice a day to soften the absolute calorie restriction. He lost over 30 pounds, normalized his blood pressure, felt great. I want to dig into the. connection with fasting, and whether the celery juice thing is anything special or apart. It certainly has hit the wires, in part also driven by the “Medical Medium”, a highly publicized self-made health guru who waves his arms around people and tells them their medical problems, and gives a lot of them celery juice, and a fast. Anthony Williams, the so-called “Medium”, with no degree in anything but 4 New York Time’s Best-Sellers, has abook on celery juice you can read. I did. I’m not here to argue his credentials, or veracity, I’m trying to explore the idea and be open to new concepts, no matter how close to the left-field foul ball line that idea comes. 
Does it have extra nutrients in it? Well, yes. It has a great compound called apigeninwhich provides stem cells an extra boost and appears to have anti-cancer effects and neuron supports effects. Both not bad. One reasonable study looking high blood pressure and 150 mg of celery seed extract in a day, thereby getting 3-n-butylphthalide (3nB), showed blood pressure would dropping 8 mm over 8 mm – equivalent to any pill on the market. Finally, it has a great dose of molybdenum, a trace mineral needed to detox heavy metals. No problem there. 
So, do we believe the hype? Is it hype? There is precious little hard evidence and tons of high-intensity promotion. Celery is on the dirty dozen list of pesticide plants, so you may be a little put off by too much of a good thing. What I believe is that we have to get back to the gut and its biome. If it is made happy, many good things follow. The thousands of yet-to-be-discovered compounds and their even more amazing interactions suggests we are still scratching the surface of what is good for us. Do we need more vegetables? Emphatically, yes! Do we need the fiber in the vegetables? Yes again. (So what are you doing juicing?). Might there be some credibility to celery juice? I haven’t a clue. But if Jennifer Anniston says it’s true, then half of America is in.

WWW: What will work for me? I’m trying to construct a rational, effective method of fasting and I’m suggesting that either cucumber or celery juice may be the two ritualized nutrient liquids you could take that allow you to fulfill your need to eat daily meals, just for the sake of ritual, and that don’t break your ketosis. When I do my 10-day fast, I’m going to dust off my juicer and add this to the regimen. I’ll keep track of my own data with ketones and electrolytes. But I suspect the issue is more the fasting than the juice. Time will tell. I’m not looking for any major medical center to fund a research project that takes people off their pills and cures their weight gain their blood pressure, their gut disorders…..

Pop Quiz

  1. Celery juice is pretty high in sugar, like apple juice? T or F. Answer: False, almost none so you won’t endanger your ketosis.
  2. We know all the nutrients in plant juices? Answer: False: Tip of iceberg only-much less their nuanced, synergistic interactions.
  3. There are many thousands of folks who swear by the benefit of celery juice? T or F. Answer: Yup.
  4. Celery is safe to eat as much as you want. Answer: Whoa Nellie. It’s on the dirty dozen list. Please wasn, rinse, soak in something or other.
  5. You will look just like Jennifer if you drink a glass of celery juice a day. Answer; Close your eyes, count to 10 – and it’s true!