U-Turn

During my recent visit in Denmark I heard about a very interesting study concerning lifestyle related diseases like diabetes 2, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stress, depression, etc.

The study aims at finding out whether it is possible to reverse lifestyle related diseases? Ie., once we suffer from these diseases,  is it possible to make a  U-Turn? And can that be done by simply changing ones own lifestyle?

The experiment, U-Turn, has been started by Chris MacDonald, a Cand. Scient in Human physiology, originally from the USA, but has been living in Denmark for the past 14 years. He is the founder of Health in Balance and Strong Body Strong Mind.

Chris has been coaching and guiding numerous people back to health with very positive results and continues to be a tremendous inspiration to Danes every day!

U-Turn is an experiment that is being documented by the Danish National television. Over a period of 6 months, Chris MacDonald is guiding the 8 participants, all suffering from lifestyle related diseases such as, type 2 diabetes, stress, depression, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome.

The program includes daily training, physical exercise, healthy food, getting a good sleep, along with support and emotional coaching.

Half way though the program the participants will go to France and hike the GR10, a hike that takes them thorough the French Pyrenees, a 850 km hike with considerable elevation, a very strenuous hike!

(Photo source National Geographic)

Throughout the experiment participants are closely followed by doctors from a Copenhagen hospital, to keep them safe, to monitor their well being and their need for medication.

Chris  MacDonald and his team want to see what happens to sick people when you ask them to eat healthy, walk every day and be physically active and minimize negative stress. What happens to them over a 6 months period of time?

Will they feel better? Will they be able to reduce or even eliminate their need for medication? Will they be able to reverse disease and return to great health?

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food – Hippocrates

So far, the National Television has produced 4 programs that have broadcast, taking the viewers along on the journey with the 8 participants and documenting the results they achieve. These programs cover the first half of the experiment.

It’s blood, sweat, tears and laughter – it’s amazing to see the courage, dedication and the victory! 

The participants have been monitored at the hospital when the experiment started, during and half way thorough. The results are astounding:

  • They lost weight
  • They lost dangerous body fat around inner organs
  • Achieved normal blood sugar levels
  • Lowered cholesterol
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Reduced stress
  • Reduced liver counts
  • 3 participants no longer need medication/
  • the rest have been able to reduce the amount of mediation significantly
  • They are of course in much better shape

I think the message is powerful.

Lifestyle changes are the strongest most effective medicine!

I am looking forward to following the experiment and I will report back to you, when it finishes.

Lifestyle related diseases can be reversed and healed by lifestyle changes!

Walking is man’s best medicine – Hippocrates

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Hate Exercising?

Do you hate exercising? Or do you find it impossible to find time for exercising? And do you fail again and again getting into the routine?

Then this Ted talk is for you!

Danish professor Bente Klarlund has researched the benefits of exercise and the results have been so convincing that she, who loathes exercise herself, have convinced herself to exercise.

Get the old bike out

Get the old bike out

 

“Those who think they do not have time for exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” Edward Stanley

Professor Klarlund says “people don’t ask me, when do I excercise too much, they ask how little can I get away with?”

The great news is that a little exercise goes a long way, a very long way! A little exercise makes a big difference!

Research shows that exercise protects against 35 disorders and diseases, type 2 diabetes heart disease, cancer and dementia, to name a few. There is even evidence that exercise can be used as treatment for these chronic diseases!

As little as 30 min walking a day will cut your chances of getting sick with 30% – 1 hours walk per day by half! And by running it is even better!

If you really hate exercising Professor Klarlund suggests

  • skipping the elevator
  • using walk and talk meetings at work
  • biking to work
  • walking to the baker for your daily bread

Even presumably insignificant changes can have a significant positive impact on your health. 

Check out her fantastic Ted Talk and find out more – it is very reassuring!

I wrote about Professor Klarlund in an earlier post “muscles reward exercise”

13 steps to a healthier ’13

It amazes me how much is possible when we take our own health into our own hands – so much can happen! It could happen that we might very well risk feeling better, energized, loose weight, lower our cholesterol, boost our immune system – and all naturally!

A little actually goes a long way – and can make a huge difference.

Health is everything – without it we have nothing.

nature therapy

 

13 steps to a healthier ’13

  • Drink green juice/green smoothies – every day. It is not a coincidence that I put green smoothies and green juice on top of the list. Drinking them every day, will energize you and naturally make you feel like eating more healthy foods, moving and grooving. You will feel great. If you are not already a green smoothie drinker check this >>>out.
  • Try to exchange some of your meals with plant-based meals. But keep to: whatever feels right – exchange, bacon and eggs with a delicious raw food oatmeal and a great smoothie. Or exchange the sandwich with a delightful salad lunch. One meal at a time will make a difference!
  • Exercise – there is no way around it, exercise is a must. We know the mind will try to convince us, that today is not a good day, tomorrow is better or even next month is much, much better. But don’t listen – just DO IT, get out there – I promise you one thing, you will not regret it.
    What ever it is – make it fun, make it enjoyable, make it a joy that you cannot live without. Check this>> out!
  • Drink water – Exchange some of your drinks with cool clear water. Water rejuvenates you and keeps you alive. This is what The Mayo Clinic>> recommends
  • Meditate – research shows again and again the multiple advantages of meditation. If you already meditate, you know what I am talking about. Meditation is so powerful and so good for our health, both emotionally and physically. Mindfulness meditation boost our health and overall well-being – it reduces stress and anxiety. It gives us a pause, a well needed break in a hectic world.
  • Journal – journaling is a fantastic way to release emotions, reflecting about life and understanding ourselves better. It is like writing yourself home. The journal can be trusted with anything, no one will ever need to see it, it is yours. Express yourself on the pages, no censoring.
  • Fresh air – spend time in nature. Japanese researchers have found what they call “Forest Therapy” – spending time in nature, to lower blood pressure and heart rate and it increases the amount of natural killer cells that helps us ward of infections and fight cancer. Read the article>> here
  • Play – did you know that play is an actual need? Play is crucial for our health and well-being. Dr Stuart Brown has proven how play shapes the brain, opens the imagination and invigorates the soul. Check this>> out.
  • Express yourself – Expressing ourselves, speaking our truth and taking ourselves seriously, is important for not just our emotional health but our overall health. If we don’t there is a part of us that gets stuck – and stops the flow.
  • Follow a dream – Life is short and if there is one thing that can really bring joy and add to our well-being, it is going after our dreams. Making them happen. Taking steps towards reaching a goal, a dream.
  • Get a massage – A massage is soothing, comforting and wonderful. It also has tremendous health benefits, such as stress relief, pain relief, helps with depression and anxiety, blood pressure control and it even boosts our immune system.
    Read more>> here.
  • Self-compassion – Before helping others put on your own oxygen mask! The more gentle, compassionate and loving we can be with ourselves the more compassionate we are to our children, our spouse, our friends and the world. Studies says self- compassion boosts not only our self-esteem but also our health. Prof. Kirsten Neff has researched the power of self-compassion for years, listen to an interview with
    her>> here
  • Friends and family – spend time with friends of both sexes. Nothing so rejuvenating as a night out with the girls or a guys night. A night with good friends around the dinner table is wonderful. Make time for friends and family. Often when you ask people what is most important to them, they say family and friends, but work and duties get first priority. Read more here in this>> Huffington Post article.

Celery steak topped with garlic fried mushrooms and served on a tarragon tomato sauce

I am always trying to create something delicious, something completely scrumptious, that will satisfy my hunger, as well as my very spoiled taste buds.

For those of you who don’t know me, I now have normal cholesterol levels and I no longer depend on medication!

I lowered my cholesterol by exchanging some of my meals with plant-based foods and exercising.

I don’t diet, I don’t restrict myself. I eat anything and everything I want to, but I make sure, that I exercise and that 80% of whatever I eat, is plant-based.

This is one of the plant-based meals we had this week.

Celery steak topped with garlic fried mushrooms and served on a tarragon tomato sauce

It was wildly delicious!

1 root celery

2 large baking potatoes

2 big shallot onion

1 big clove of garlic

Sea salt

pepper

olive oil

10-15 dark mushrooms

2 cloves of garlic

Peel the root celery and the potatoes, grate them and put them in a bowl. Finely chop the shallot and squeeze the garlic, add them to the bowl and mix well. Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Now take a portion of the mixture and with both hands squeeze all the water out while making little celery/potato “cakes”. Turn the oven on – to 350F.  In a frying pan, put in some olive oil and heat up the pan and brown the celery steaks on both sides and put them on a baking tray and place them in the hot oven to finish them of, about 30-45 min .

While they bake – rinse the mushrooms and roughly chop them. Finely chop the shallot onion. Heat the pan again adding a bit more olive oil, fry the mushrooms and when they start to brown add the chopped shallot onion and the freshly squeezed garlic.

Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper – set aside.

For the sauce

Use 3 big fresh tomatoes or a small can

1 shallot onion

1 garlic clove

a teaspoon of tarragon

Sea salt and pepper

Chop the tomatoes, chop the onion and squeeze the garlic. Add some olive oil to a saucepan, saute the onions and the garlic, add the tomatoes, add the tarragon and cook for 5 min while stirring. Put everything in the blender and blend into a smooth sauce, season with salt and pepper.

When the celery steaks are ready arrange it all on a plate and top with some fresh arugula.

Enjoy!

World Diabetes Day

Today is World Diabetes Day – A good time to spread some awareness about an illness that has blown out of proportion, an illness that has sky-rocket!

An illness that kills!

Continue reading

Sweat the blues

Can exercise really help us beat the blues?

I came across an interesting article on one of my favorite Danish news sites Fri.dk called “Can exercise prevent depression”?

A research study done by The Danish National Institute of Public Health points out that exercise can have an effective preventive effect on depression.

There is no doubt that exercise can help us when we are feeling the blues, but prevent depression? This is what the article said:

4 hours light exercise or 2 hours hard exercise a week

The Danish study confirms what we already know, that exercise is good for us physically, and that exercise plays a major role in our emotional health, but it also showed that exercise may  have a preventive effect on depression!

The research was done with 18.000 Danes between 18-99 years of age, both answering questions sheets and undergoing blood tests during a 26 year period.

The results showed that, especially in women, there was a preventive effect in the occurrence of depression, by doing regular exercise.

Women who were either physical inactive or exercised less than 2 hours had 1.8 times higher risk of developing depression than the women who were exercising a lot. The “exercising a lot” criteria in the study was, light exercise more than 4 hours or more than 2 hours heavy exercise a week.

The research points (not surprisingly) to have the same beneficial effect for men, but then there was not as many depressive men participating in the study.

The research discussed whether  it is simply exercise that has a preventive effect. They, therefore, also studied people who were physically active during their work day, for example in the postal services, but the research clearly showed that the physical exercise has to be done in free time. Work related “exercise”  had no effect on depression!  So something points to the fact that it is not the physical activity in itself that has the effect, it is important that it is part of free time and maybe there also is a social component.

I think this affirms that health does not happen in isolation – balanced living and happy health – means many things, among them are: getting regular exercise, nourishing our bodies with good food, embracing (all) emotions, having healthy relationships at work and privately, etc. And remember, depression can be a healthy response to something not right in our lives. No matter how much we run, we still need to attend to the underlying emotions and consult our heart – the old saying is true, we cannot run from our problems.

“Being entirely honest with oneself is good exercise”- Sigmund Freud

I think the social component in exercise plays a big and important role in preventing depression. We get out, we meet people and often we have great conversation during exercise, we solve the worlds problems as we go. We connect in a special way with people we exercise with. We set goals together, we sweat together, we laugh and cry together, we stretch ourselves together, we go beyond, we celebrate successes and support each other, we encourage each other, we share together. These aspects have the power to heal us, make us feel better, and prevent depression from occurring.

“The greatest wealth is health “ – Virgil

“If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health” – Hippocrates

Earlier blog posts on exercise:

Muscles reward exercise

Make running part of your life – for good.

Getting into the great habit

Want to live longer? Jog a bit

Muscles reward exercise

I found this very interesting interview with Professor Dr. Med Bente Klarlund Pedersen in one of the Danish newspapers, Politiken (the Danish Article).

Professor (Dr. Med.) Bente Klarlund Pedersen is the director of Copenhagen Muscle Research Center and her focus is on inflammation and metabolism(CIM)

Her results are very interesting to us looking to improve health and balance our lives. For example, her early research has shown that there is a connection between physical activity and the immune system.

She shows that our muscles are not alone making us capable of moving around, but work similarly to other organs producing hormone-like compounds – important for our overall health. She has shown that muscles work like vital organs setting “turbo-on” conversion of sugar and fat during exercise.

Another really interesting point that Dr. Klarlund has found is that in people who are not physically active, not only do their muscles deteriorate, but lack of exercise also makes them more prone to diabetes, heart disease, dementia, cancer, osteoporosis and depression. She is focusing her research to find out how inactivity can be connected to so many different lifestyle diseases.

Her basis research shows that muscles not only get messages from the nerves, but also communicate through many hormone-like compounds. Thus, muscles work like organs. Some of their research experiments with people paralyzed from the neck and down showed that by stimulating their muscles, they could achieve the same positive effects as if they had been exercising! Their bodies burned sugar and fat and they could even experience “Runner’s high” even though they were paralyzed and not physical active in any way.

In another experiment, they asked a group of people to limit their activities to walk a maximum of 1.500 steps a day – where 10.000 steps would be the norm. The results showed that lots of things happened – for example, they lost 1.2 kg muscle mass. They became insulin resistant which is the stage before diabetes. When they consumed fat, the fat remained longer in the body and built up around the inner organs – in just 2 weeks!!!

Her own 2 sons were part of the study and she explains how they, during the research, became irritable and short-fused. This gave her the idea to the next study she did. She teamed up with Neorospychologists to research how peoples’ focus and ability to concentrate changed when they didn’t get exercise. They are still collecting data but preliminary results show, as they expected, that it is more difficult to concentrate and focus when we do not exercise.

Professor Dr. Bente Klarlund Pedersen recommends a minimum of 1/2 hr of exercise every day. Some of her new research also points out that exercising helps to keep muscles stay younger for longer.

I find her research interesting on so many levels –  when it comes to preventing disease, how exercise affects our levels of concentration and our performance. I  find it fascinating to read about research on how exercise affects our emotional health and well-being.

Dr. Pedersen is currently researching marathon runners – she says she is fascinated by the extremes – to find the difference in the people who exercise a lot – and the people who do little or no exercise.

It is exciting to see what comes of her research.

Never underestimate what YOU can do

A friend of mine send me this youtube – while watching it, I got goosebumps, tears in my eyes, a joyful heart and the urge to stand up and clap my hands.

This story is inspiring – it shows that when we take charge of our health and well-being – amazing things can happen!

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A Morning Run in Copenhagen

I grabbed the opportunity to join in the fun by running the 5k wordpress run. A brilliant idea by WordPress – you simply run/walk/skip/dance/jog/skate/ 5k wherever you are in this world and then you blog about it.

As some of you may know I am visiting Copenhagen, and what better way to breathe in my old city than by running through its beautiful streets? I long to see  the little mermaid again – to give her a good morning kiss. I’m up and out by 7am – the only thing I forgot while planning this – a terrible jet-lag.

So off I go and this just proves that as soon as you get yourself out there it is amazing!! It’s absolutely fabulous – I have Copenhagen all to myself and the sun is rising, the air is fresh and not a person in the streets.

Right away, I meet this lovely little family:

I continue out to Langelinje and pass Gefion springvandet – revisiting my childhood.

Copenhagen is the “city of towers” and when I turn around I see the tower of the old stone English church where I was married and behind its steeple, the magnificent dome of the Marble church right next to where we live when we are here in Copenhagen.

I continue my run along Langelinje enjoying the fresh sea breeze and my solitude on the path.

Suddenly I see her sitting there in the morning sun. The little mermaid – I love her – and either my jet-lag or the sea breeze is suddenly making my eyes moisty.

I turn around and run back towards the city center – wanting to enjoy more of the city in the early morning sun.

Past Amalienborg, where Queen Margrethe lives – a beautiful palace in the center of Copenhagen with the Marble Church in the background. Past the small dock where the royal family, kids, grandchildren, and 2 dachshunds embark on their way to other parts of Denmark – we are in the land of the vikings remember, so by ship of course.

Run, run, run – I am honestly enjoying this run through Wonderful Copenhagen that holds so much  history, culture, architecture and beauty. An adventure through my own city and I mindfully see things that I just took for granted when I lived here. I am loving every minute.

I reach the old harbour – Nyhavn – a romantic place from the seafaring days but  today is full of restaurants and cafes. The place where everyone longs to sit outside in the sunshine and well into the long light summer nights.

This morning it is still quiet but later today it will be packed full of people enjoying life in the sunny side of the street!

And the quiet side of Nyhavn on the other side

Round the corner from Nyhavn I almost fall into a pile of bikes! Copenhagen is a paradise for many things among them cycling. And there are many bicycles!

How about this cute “bike-dress”!

I fell in love with this old lamp on my way home

And this adorable door

I love running – I can explore, I can experience, I can inhale life, I can do it anytime,  it’s cheap, I don’t have to book or reserve – I just do it, anytime, anywhere, anyplace.

On the way home I run into “Joe and the Juice” and get a big glass of Arth Away – a glass of green juice made from fresh spinach, apples and pineapple – I’m off to enjoy the rest of the day! Wishing you all a beautiful Sunday.

Have your health and Easter eggs too!

This morning I went for my morning run – in the rain – at 6:30. The smells were intoxicating as everything is blossoming now: cherry trees, daffodils, rhodos, hyacinths and crocus are filling the air with their fragrances and the rain made everything ever so fresh. Rabbits and squirrels jumping around me and deer crossing the road in front. When I came down to the beach the sea was completely calm – serenity hit me and I just stood there breathing in this beautiful morning. A seal came swimming in gently cutting through the water as I stood there watching in awe.

On my way back I thought about traditions and how much I love them. I am a Dane with lots of traditions and I hold them all dear to my heart. Many traditions are about eating and special foods.

We  talk about healthy choices and we make recipes that are low fat or non fat – often these creations leaves us feeling that we are missing out and feeling unsatisfied. But does it have to be all or nothing? Does it have to be that we have to say nay to a slice of the beautiful cake that has been made in the family for generations perhaps from that recipe from your great-great-grandmother?

What if we, before going out to Easter lunch, got up earlier that morning and went for a long walk or a jog – or even just a walk? What if we, for breakfast instead of bacon and eggs that day, made a delicious green smoothie and some scrumptious raw food oat meal? What if we had another green healthy juice drink just before we went out to lunch, to satisfy the worst hunger and eliminate the chances of over indulging! What if, when we finally sat by the table surrounded by family and gorgeous foods, we ate some of the healthy veggie dishes first and then had a slice of roasted lamb with rosemary and garlic, deviled eggs, glaced ham or whatever is the tradition where you are? It is so much more satisfying to fill up on healthy foods that satisfy the body and still be able to enjoy family favorites and be part of the celebration.

I had generic high cholesterol and was told I had to be on medication for the rest of my life. Today I am off medication and my cholesterol is normal. I can say yes to all my family favorites and Easter eggs, yes!, I can, because I exercise and enjoy a plant based diet 80% of the time.

One really inspiring source is Mark Bittman, the New York Times journalist, who writes about food and has published many wonderful cook books. I love his story – read it here

Wishing everyone a very happy Easter!!