The 5 + 2 diet vs the 4 + 8 +12 diet

Every era brings with it new trends reflecting our need for constant improvement and search for solutions to make our lives easier. More often than not these trends focus on our diet. How can we eat better so that we will lose weight, improve our health or just enjoy life more? One trend that has been much in the limelight lately is the 5 + 2 diet which entails eating “normally” 5 days a week and fasting or eating 600 calories or less 2 days a week. Research seems to show that the 5 + 2 diet helps people lose weight and even improve their health. I seriously doubt though that this diet, like any other, suits everybody. I for one can not imagine having to function normally during the fasting days in light of the fact that I seem to almost pass out if I have not eaten for 2 or 3 consecutive hours. I also wonder about5+2 diet the claim that it doesn’t matter what you eat on the non-fasting days. How can fasting 2 days a week make it healthy to eat processed and low quality food the rest of the week? After observing people around me struggle with following this diet in the last few months I suddenly realized that I myself have been following a diet which includes regular fasting for the last few decades with good results it seems.

The 4 + 8 + 12 diet

So what is this diet that has been so helpful? And how has it helped?
After comparing my dietary habits with the 5 + 2 concept I came up with the 4+8+12 dietary model. The numbers in the 4 + 8 + 12 model represent hours; every 24 hour period is divided into 4 or 8 hour slots of intermittent fasting/eating. Each 24 hour period starts with a 4 hour fasting followed by 8 hours of normal healthy eating, followed finally by 12 hours of fasting. About 25 years ago I read about how fasting every morning would help your body to better process the food you ate the day before and therefore help with maintaining a healthy weight. I had always had very little appetite in the morning and had been forcing myself to eat something before going to school since I was a kid as it was supposed to be essential for your health. “Eat like a king in the morning and a beggar in the evening” – that’s what you always heard but just didn’t seem to work for me. Fasting in the morning  for me means eating very lightly from the time  you wake up until noon. Typically I will drink a glass of water (with some apple cider vinegar or lemon juice) soon after I wake up and have some fruit an hour or two later and maybe some more fruit or even nuts/almonds as it gets closer to noon. Some mornings I will have a boost made of fruits and veggies.

ávextir 2

I try to eat as little as possible during this 4 hour period (from 8 to 12) and will never have any grains, meat, eggs or fish.  I can not begin to describe how good it feels to consume so lightly the morning after a big meal such as during x-mas for example. From noon to 8 PM I eat like everybody else apart from the fact that I try to eat as healthy as possible avoiding processed food, preservatives and any kind of additives. Between 8 PM and 8 AM I fast with some exceptions of course like any other person enjoying dinner parties etc. with family and friends.

The 4+8+12 diet may not suit everybody as can be said about any other diet. We each need to find what suits our bodies the best. As far as I am concerned the fact remains that thanks to this diet, healthy eating overall and regular exercise I have maintained the same healthy weight for over 35 years or since I was 15 years old.


Sleep, are we getting enough?

svefnThese days studies showing the importance of a good nights sleep keep pouring in . Yet most of us treat sleep like something that is trivial; something that we can be without at times. But can we?
An interesting study performed at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) indicates that while we sleep our brain “takes out the trash”. Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., co-director of the  (URMC) and lead author of the article  puts it this way; “…the restorative nature of sleep appears to be the result of the active clearance of the by-products of neural activity that accumulate during wakefulness.” The glymphatic system which is the brain’s method of waste removal seems to be highly active during sleep. Also the research showed that the brain’s cells reduce in size up to 60% during sleep which enables the glymphatic system  to remove waste more effectively. Similar to moving the furniture around while vacuuming the house I guess. This comes in handy as some diseases like Alzheimer’s seem to be caused by accumulation of waste products in the brain.

Its time to treat sleep with more respect and make arrangements for a good nights sleep every single night. Lets put away our electrical devices timely before going to sleep, clear our minds of all worries as well as ensuring that neither clocks nor snoring keep us awake!

Sleep tight – don’t let the bed bugs bite!


Is the sun good for you after all?

In the last decades we have been warned D vítamín, grein SÍBSagain and again about the damaging rays of the sun. The results of these warnings are now becoming evident as new research is starting to show harmful effects of not getting enough sun exposure. A new study in Sweden performed by scientists at the Karolinska and Lund University in Sweden shows that women who avoid sun exposure have a two-fold higher mortality rate compared to the ones that enjoy the highest sun exposure. The study followed 30.000 women over a 20 year period.
We all know that our bodies get vitamin D from the sun, but recent research by dermatologist Richard Weller and his team suggests that sunlight may confer another surprising benefit. The research shows that nitric oxide, a chemical transmitter stored in huge reserves in the skin, can be released by UV light. This chemical transmitter seems to be of great benefit for blood pressure and the cardiovascular system. The team goes as far as to say that they even suspect that the benefits to heart health of sunlight outweigh the risk of skin cancer.
In April 2012 a Norwegian study lead by Johan Moan was published in the journal of Public Health Nutrition . The conclusions of that study were that the overall health benefits of an improved vitamin D status gained from moderate sun exposure may be more important than the possibly increased skin cancer (CMM) risk. To use the words of Johan Moan herself; “It can be estimated that increased sun exposure to the Norwegian population might at worst result in 200-300 more CMM deaths per year, but it would elevate the vitamin D status by about 25 nmol/l (nanomoles per liter) and might result in 4,000 fewer internal cancers and about 3,000 fewer cancer deaths overall.”
Once again we are reminded of the fact that extremes are to be avoided and that sun exposure is like most things beneficial in moderation. We all know that sunburn can be harmful but allowing the skin to be exposed to the sun in moderate levels seems to be essential for our health. This should not come as a surprise since most living creatures need some amount of sunlight for survival. Are we also forgetting another possible culprit for skin cancer, i.e. the chemicals contained in sunscreen that we lather on our skin to protect us from the damaging rays of the sun? Isn’t the sun good for you in modesty like everything else?





Can the friendly flora protect us from colon cancer?

It seems to be coming more and more apparent that the human body is little more than a cluster of bacteria. From the moment we are born (especially if we are born through vaginal birth) our guts are lined withgut bacteria bacteria. These microorganisms seem to be more important than we have realized and not having enough of the good ones is being linked to a range of diseases. Research is showing that the bacterial flora can influence almost all if not all of our bodily functions, including mental health.

“Gut feeling” and colon cancer

Colon cancer has been in the limelight lately and it seems that we are being programmed to believe that the only thing we can do to protect us from it is to undergo colonoscopy when we reach a certain age. While having a colonoscopy is probably a good prevention if you have polyps that need to be removed it is not a procedure without side effects that in some cases can be serious. What if there are measures that we can take for protection that are easy and risk free? Measures like making sure that we have a healthy flora of gut bacteria? Researchers have found that certain types of bacteria called fusobacterium that are very rarely found among the usual gut bugs flourish in colon cancer. They also found that otherunhappy gut flora types of bacteria that typically live in the gut are depleted in colon cancer tissues. Colon cancer has also been linked to low diversity of gut bacteria  and research is beginning to show that a diet rich in probiotics discourages colon cancer. A recent Harvard study found that changes in diet quickly alters the types of bacteria living in the human gut, we’re talking about within a day. Keeping all this in mind it seems about time that we are being advised to watch what we eat and keep our gut flora healthy as a way of prevention.

How do we cultivate a healthy gut flora?

There is not much research to be found in regards to what would be the best dietapple-cider-vinegar-1024x768 to cultivate a healthy gut flora. What most seem to agree on (including the Mayo clinic) based on experience is that eating fermented food like sauerkraut, pickles and vinegar could help as well as eating fruits, veggies and yogurt cultivated with probiotic bacteria. Staying away from  processed food and sugar, t.e. the typical western diet, seems to be important too.

Yet again we are reminded of the importance of staying healthy with a natural diet.





Exercise – keep at it throughout the day

Moving around regularly in our daily lives has become less common over the years as more and more people have sedentary jobs and hit the couch in front of the TV when they come home from work. Doing just that promotes obesity as the nurses health study from 2010 shows. A recent Swedish study shows that people who are physically active in their daily lives are in better health than those who are less active regardless of whether they also participate in conventional exercise such as running er going to the gym.
Could it be that we have been overly focused on exercising in the gym three to five times a week instead of making sure that we move around throughout the day? Now we are even finding that vigorous exercise could possibly be detrimental as heart specialist James O’Keefe shows us in his brilliant lecture on

Once again we are reminded of the fact that moderation is they key. Sitting too much is bad and exercising too much is also bad. Our goal should be to add exercise into our daily lives; stand rather than sit at work, make an effort of walking as much as possible throughout the day, take the stairs whenever we  get the chance and fit short bursts of exercises into our daily routine. When we come home from work it should be natural for us to go for a walk or a run and use our bikes to go to the store. Since most of us do not do any lifting at work we also need to add weight lifting to our routine to sustain our muscle mass.

Keep in mind that the human body was madethe future of fitness to be used as a means of survival; mixing standing, walking, running, bending, lifting, sitting and lying over 24 hours. It was not ment to be confined to a chair all day long, go to they gym three times a week and spend every evening on a couch.

Is attitude everything?

The old saying “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade” is maybe more important than we could have imagined. It turns out that our attitude towards what’s going on in our lives matters a lot as recent research is showing us. A large study by Keller et al in 2012 shows e.g. that a positive attitude towards stress can protect us from the harmful effects of stress. When I read that it made me feel bad about always fussing to my daughter who from the age of fifteen and on has been using almost every minute of the day and well into the night getting all the things that keep her ticking done. What she can fit into her schedule is truly amazing. To my remarks about how her health would suffer if she kept going like a mad person she always replied; “stress is good for me, it keeps me going”. Now it turns out she was probably right. By having a positive attitude towards stress she made it ok for her health.  Fear of falling is another example of how our attitude matters. Some research has shown that people who are afraid of falling are more likely to fall (Friedman et al, 2002).

Why are we so prone to think negative thoughts?

If attitude is so important then why are we so prone to thinking negative thoughts? Why do we sometimes even feel like we have to think about all the bad things that could happen  and not allow ourselves to be too optimistic as that might even jinx the outcome? Are we systematically trained to keep a negative attitude with the aim of making sure that we will become realistic enough? Haven’t we all heard people tell us that we shouldn’t be so naive and that we have to take into account all the things that could go wrong? What if the ones among us, and throughout times, that have excelled and made history are the ones that didn’t adapt this negativity and kept an unbroken positive attitude despite all the warnings? Maybe we should change the way we train our kids and help them keep some of their naive attitude and feelings of being able to do anything instead of making sure that they will become realistic enough to handle lifes’ challenges. Maybe that’s the essence of a true leadership as Ralph Marston put is so well.being positive

Smoking and muscuoloskeletal symptoms

In the year 2007 the author, Ingibjörg Loftsdóttir and Stefán Hrafn Jónsson, conducted a study at the University of Akureyri, Iceland on smoking an musculoskeletal symptoms

Symptoms from the musculoskeletal system, e.g. back problems, widespread pain and muscle aches, are common problems and often the cause for absence from work and diminished quality of life. The objective of the study was to explore if there is a connection between smoking and symptoms from the musculoskeletal system like some other research had implied.

Data and methods: The research was based on data from a questionnaire from the year 2000 administered by the Icelandic Research Centre for Occupational Health & Working Life among those employed in geriatric care facilities employing ten or more workers. The relationship between symptoms from the musculoskeletal system and smoking was explored while accounting for biasing factors such as the influence of body mass index, age, physical workload, profession, marital status, exercise, age and sex using multiple regression.

Results: Those who smoked daily and those who had stopped smoking had significantly more symptoms from the musculoskeletal system than those who had never smoked. Those who smoked less than daily did not have significantly more musculoskeletal symptoms than those who did not smoke.

Conclusion: Even though smoking only explained 2% of the variability of symptoms from the musculoskeletal system this explanation matters quite a bit in light of the fact that 14.2% of the nation still smokes daily according to a survey from April of this year (2012). The morbidity of musculoskeletal symptoms among the nation is also high as prior research has shown or 56% among men and 65% among women.




The best diet ever

What if we could stop worrying about getting fat and enjoy eating delicious food guilt free?

All Natural Food Seal

With so many diet fads popping up all the time it is no wonder that people get confused regarding what to eat and what not to eat. We have become so alienated away from healthy natural food in its simplest form that we forget how to enjoy eating guilt free. It is no wonder that we are victims of obesity when the so called western diet consists more and more of things that we would not buy to put in the meals that we prepare ourselves at home let alone that our ancestors would have used for food preparing. Would you ever go grocery shopping and buy high fructose corn syrup, aspartame or nitrites to use in the supper you were going to serve your family? If we wouldn’t use these ingredients when preparing food at home why should we devour them in prepared fast food meals?

What is the best diet?Natural Food

When it comes to choosing the best diet there really is only one solution; eat naturally. Take a look at the food items in your pantry and throw away the ones that contain unnatural stuff that you don’t even recognize as food. Start eating the way we were supposed to eat; eat real food . Real food that is derived from nature, like vegetables, fruits and grains. If you want to eat meat and chicken think about what these animals have been fed. If they have been fed unnatural processed food that is precisely what the meat from them will be like – unnatural. Do not add a lot of extra salt to your food since natural food contains enough salt. Drink what the body is made up of – water! It all comes down to eating food that contains ingredients that you recognize as natural. White sugar for example is not a natural product since it has been heavily processed and washed with chlorine. White flour isn’t either.

There are no shortcuts when it comes to the best diet ever

There are no shortcuts in maintaining a healthy weight and a good health. You have to both put in the time at the grocery store to find healthy natural food and the time for preparing your food yourself. The sad fact is that up to 80 or even 90% of the food available in supermarkets is unnatural and way too processed to be healthy for anyone. Time consuming? Yes, but think about all the years that you can enjoy good health and an ideal weight. If your diet consists of natural unprocessed food you shouldn’t have to worry about obesity or diseases like diabetes. Of course you have to take it all the way and remember to exercise regularly as well.



Is smoking more harmful for women?

Research has shown that smoking can be even more harmful for women then men. In western societies heart disease and strokes are among the most common causes of death among women. Smoking increases the risk of these diseases and for women that take the pill the risk is 20-40 times as high. Certain kinds of cancer are more common among women that smoke, e.g. cervical cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, bladder cancer, cancer of the mouth and throat as well as liver and colon cancer. Since the year 1950 there has been a 600% increase in death rates from lung cancer among American women.
a picture of women and smoking
Research has shown that smoking can be even more harmful for women then men. In western societies heart disease and strokes are among the most common causes of death among women. Smoking increases the risk of these diseases and for women that take the pill the risk is 20-40 times as high. Certain kinds of cancer are more common among women that smoke, e.g. cervical cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, bladder cancer, cancer of the mouth and throat as well as liver and colon cancer. Since the year 1950 there has been a

Osteoporosis is on the rise, especially among women. Research has shown that nicotine in cigarettes slows down the production of osteoblasts (bone producing cells) and makes them less active which again hinders calcium uptake. Smoking therefore reduces the bone mass which promotes osteoporosis.

Menstruation and smoking

Special for women is the fact that smoking can cause irregular menstrual cycles, increased occurence of menstrual cramps, lack of estrogen and premature menopause. A link has also been found between smoking among women and diseases that are connected to childbearing and infertility.

Smoking during pregnancy and breastfeeding

Smoking during pregnancy is connected to lower birth rates and miscarriages, premature births, stillbirths and cot deaths. Smoking causes contraction of the arteries in the uterus and carbon monoxide affects the transport of oxygen to the placenta.  Smoking also affects breastfeeding as women that smoke have less prolactin (the hormone of lactation). Women that smoke are less likely to breastfeed and if they do they breastfeed for a shorter period of time than women that don’t smoke. Children of women that smoke tend to have more health problems, such as respiratory diseases, asthma, ear infections and behavioral problems as well as learning difficulties.

Chemicals in tobacco smoke

There are more than 4.000 different chemicals in tobacco smoke and more than 50 of them are known carcinogens. The best known substances are carbon monoxide, nicotine, arsenic, hydrazine and acetone. It only takes nicotine seven seconds to reach the brain when a person smokes so the effects are instant. That’s one of the reasons for smoking being so addictive.

Have we seen the full effects of smoking on women’s health?

It is thought that no country in the world has yet seen the full effects of smoking on women’s health although that time is getting closer as women have now smoked for decades and the harmful effects of smoking on a persons health typically has it’s effect over a period of 20-40 years. That time has almost been reached in Denmark where smoking among women has been more widespread than in other places of the world and the life expectancy of Danish women is shorter than among other women living in Western Europe. Unfortunately for women who smoke the answer to the question if smoking is more harmful for women than men has to be answered with a yes, at least when it comes down to women´s special features like everything related to menstruation, pregnancy, infertility,  and being more prone to getting osteoporosis. The best advice for women is therefore never to start smoking or quit as soon as possible if you already smoke.