Enjoy laughter-It’s healing

Joy and laughter are healing and contagious (Wang, 2006). When we laugh, our mood lightens, we feel better and our health improves (Bennett & Lengacher, 2006a; Bennett & Lengacher, 2006b; Bennett & Lengacher, 2008; Bennett & Lengacher, 2009).  As Norman Cousins, who had ankylosing spondylitis (a degenerative disease causing the breakdown of collagen) which left him in severe pain that even morphine couldn’t touch, claimed that 10 minutes of belly laughter would give him two hours of pain-free sleep.  He documented his remarkable recovery in his book Anatomy of an illness (Cousins, 2005). Laughter and joy has the ability to transform your health.

Despite the challenges you may face, the actual troubles that may occur during the day, or feeling frustrated or depressed, treat yourself to a moment of joy and laughter. Through laughing, we relax and support the intrinsic self-healing processes in our body.  Even in suffering we have a choice of what to feed our brain.  Enjoy watching the following videos.

Finally, watch Norman Cousins describe his own healing experience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LwKd68S15I

Also see the embedded videos posted on:  http://www.laughteronlineuniversity.com/norman-cousins-a-laughterpain-case-study/


Cousins, N. (2005). Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Bennett, M. P., & Lengacher, C. A. (2006a). Humor and laughter may influence health. I. History and background. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine3(1), 

Bennett, M. P., & Lengacher, C. (2006b). Humor and laughter may influence health: II. Complementary therapies and humor in a clinical population. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine3(2), 187-190.

Bennett, M. P., & Lengacher, C. (2008). Humor and laughter may influence health: III. Laughter and health outcomes. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative 

Bennett, M. P., & Lengacher, C. (2009). Humor and laughter may influence health IV. humor and immune function. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative 

Wang, S. (2006). Contagious behavior. American Psychological Society Observer19(2), 22-26.

Healthy movement is the new aging

Born on 26 November 1911, Mr Robert Marchand and 105 years old, managed cycling 22.55 km (14 miles) at the national velodrome and set a new record for the furthest distance cycled in one hour for riders over 105. (Reynolds, 2017).

Meet 105-year-old Robert Marchand, the centenarian cyclist chasing a new record: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ey48j6dDNEo

As people age there is an increase in Western Diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, gout, cancer, dementia and  decreases in physical fitness (Milanović et al, 2013Tauber, 2016).   To assume that the cause of these illnesses is the natural process of aging may be too simplistic. Although aging does affect physiology, there are other factors that contribute to the increase in “Western Diseases” such as diet, lifestyle and genetics.

A significant contributing factor of Western Diseases is diet especially  the increase in sugar and simple carbohydrates. Whether you are Pima, Tohono O’odham, and Navajo American Indian Tribes in Arizona, Intuits in Northern Canada, Japanese Americans, or indigenous populations of Kenya, when these people stopped eating their traditional diet and adapted the western high glucose/fructose/simple carbohydrate diet, the degenerative Western Diseases exploded (Bjerregaard et al, 2004; Burkitt & Trowell, 1975; Knowler et al, 1990; Tauber, 2016). Diabetes, hypertension, and cancer which were previously rare skyrocketed within one generation after adapting the Western life style diet. In some of these populations, 30% or more of the adults have diabetes and a significant increase in breast cancer.

The reduction of episodic high intensity physical activity and being sedentary are additional risk factors for the onset of diabetes and cardiovascular disease (Dulloo et al, 2017). As Mensing & Mekel (2015) state, “Sitting is the new smoking.”  Sitting encourages more sitting which leads to nonuse of muscles and causes neural and muscle atrophy.  Our physiology is efficient and will prune/eliminate what is redundant.  This is reflected in the popular phrase, “Use it or lose it.”  As we sit for hours in front of digital devices, use escalators, elevators, or drive cars, we are not using the muscles involved in dynamic movement.  We are usually unaware of this degenerative process. Instead,  we may experience difficulty walking up the stairs  which encourages us to take the escalator or elevator. When we do not use the muscles or are limited in movement by discomfort and pain, we move less. As we move less, we become  weaker which is often labeled as aging instead of non use.

Just, because most people loose fitness, it may not represent what is possible or optimum.  Instead, we may want to emulate the diet and fitness program of Mr. Robert Marchand who at age 103 set a new world record and improved the distance bicycled in one hour from 24.25 km at the age of 101 to 26.92 km at the age of 103. A 11% improvement! As New York Times science writer Gretchen Reynolds reports, “Lifestyle may also matter. Mr. Marchand is “very optimistic and sociable,” The researcher who did the study, Dr. Billat says, “with many friends,” and numerous studies suggest that strong social ties are linked to a longer life. His diet is also simple, focusing on yogurt, soup, cheese, chicken and a glass of red wine at dinner (Reynolds, 2017).

The improvement in bicycling performance and physiological indicators such as ⩒O2max increased (31 to 35 ml.kg-1min-1; +13%), appeared to be due to a change in his training regimen (Billat et al 2016).  At age 101 he changed his bicycling training program from riding at a steady speed for one hour to riding 80% at an easy pace and 20% at high intensity.  This is a  type of interval training and includes enough recovery allows the body the recover and strengthen. This analogous to our evolutionary movement pattern of walking interspersed with short distance high intensity running.

As a hunter and gather we often moved steadily and then had to run very fast to escape a predator or catch an animal.  After extreme exertion, we would rest and regenerate (if we did not escape we would be lunch for the predator). Thus episodic high intensity activity with significant rest/regenerative periods is the movement pattern that allowed our species to survive and thrive. Research studies have confirmed that high intensity interval training offers more physiological benefits–increases cardiorespiratory fitness which is a strong determinant of morbidity and mortality– than moderate intensity continuous training (Weston et al, 2014).

Thus when Mr. Marchard changed his exercise pattern from moderate intensity continuous training to high intensity interval training with enough recovery time he set a new world record at age 103. Two years later he set a new world record at age 105.

Exercise improves brain function and interval training appears to improve brain function most.  When rats had prolonged exercise, the brain’s stores of energy is significantly lowered in the frontal cortex and hippocampus all areas which area involved in thinking and memory. If on the other hand, the animals had a single intense bout of exercise and were allowed to rest and feed than the brain levels of glycogen was 60% high in the frontal and hippocampus areas.  This suggest that the brain can then function better (Matsui et al, 2012).

This perspective is supported by the evolutionary hypothesis discussed by Neuroscientist Daniel Wolpert who points out that brains evolved, not to think or feel, but to direct movement. When movement is no longer needed the brain shrinks and gets reabsorbed which is illustrated by the sea squirt. This animal swims as a juvenile and then anchors on a rock and is passively moved by the currents. Once anchored, it no longer needed to coordinate movement and reabsorb its own nervous system. See Daniel Wolpert’s remarkable TED talk, The real reasons for brains.

The remarkable feat of Mr. Marchand offers suggestions for our own health. Enjoy healthy movement and exercise and incorporate our evolutionary movement patterns:  episodic high intensity followed by regeneration. At the same time include a healthy diet by reducing sugars and simple carbohydrates.  Finally, it helps to have the right genes.


Billat, V. L., Dhonneur, G., Mille-Hamard, L., Le Moyec, L., Momken, I., Launay, T., & Besse, S. (2016). Case Studies in Physiology: Maximal Oxygen Consumption and Performance in a Centenarian CyclistJournal of Applied Physiology, jap-00569. http://jap.physiology.org/content/jap/early/2016/12/29/japplphysiol.00569.2016.full.pdf

Bjerregaard, P., Kue Young, T., Dewailly, E., & Ebbesson, S. O. (2004). Review Article: Indigenous health in the Arctic: an overview of the circumpolar Inuit population. Scandinavian Journal of Social Medicine32(5), 390-395. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51366099_Indigenous_Health_in_the_Arctic_An_Overview_of_the_Circumpolar_Inuit_Population

Burkitt, D.P. & Trowell, H.C. eds. (1975). Refined carbohydrate foods and disease: Some implications of dietary fibre. New York: Academic Press.

Dulloo, A. G., Miles‐Chan, J. L., & Montani, J. P. (2017). Nutrition, movement and sleep behaviours: their interactions in pathways to obesity and cardiometabolic diseases. Obesity Reviews18(S1), 3-6.

Knowler, W. C., Pettitt, D. J., Saad, M. F., & Bennett, P. H. (1990). Diabetes mellitus in the Pima Indians: incidence, risk factors and pathogenesis. Diabetes/metabolism reviews6(1), 1-27.

Matsui, T., Ishikawa, T., Ito, H., Okamoto, M., Inoue, K., Lee, M. C., … & Soya, H. (2012). Brain glycogen supercompensation following exhaustive exerciseThe Journal of physiology590(3), 607-616.

Mensing, M., & Mekel, O. C. L. (2015). Sitting is the new smoking-Modelling physical activity interventions in North Rhine-Westphalia. The European Journal of Public Health25(suppl 3), ckv171-037.

Milanović, Z., Pantelić, S., Trajković, N., Sporiš, G., Kostić, R., & James, N. (2013). Age-related decrease in physical activity and functional fitness among elderly men and women. Clinical interventions in aging, 8, 549-556.

Reynolds, G. (2017, February 8). Lessons on Aging Well, From a 105-Year-Old Cyclist. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/08/well/move/lessons-on-aging-well-from-a-105-year-old-cyclist.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fhealth&action=click&contentCollection=health&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=5&pgtype=sectionfront

Taubes, G. (2016). The Case Against Sugar. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Weston, K. S., Wisløff, U., & Coombes, J. S. (2014). High-intensity interval training in patients with lifestyle-induced cardiometabolic disease: a systematic review and meta-analysisBritish journal of sports medicine48(16), 1227-1234. http://www.rcsi.ie/files/facultyofsportsexercise/20141201122758_High-intensity%20interval%20traini.pdf

Wolpert, D. (2011) The Real Reason for Brains.  http://www..com/tatedlks/daniel_wolpert_the_real_reason_for_brains.html

Youtube video: Meet 105-year-old Robert Marchand, the centenarian cyclist chasing a new record: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ey48j6dDNEo




We are more alike than we sometime would like to think

The short three minute video Three Beautiful Human Minutes by Asger Leth is a reminder that we are more alike than we sometimes would like to think.  Enjoy.


Happy New Year: Make each moment count

As the New Year begins, I wish you the courage to follow your dreams. May the New Year bring health, happiness and joy. Enjoy the video and make each moment count.

Best wishes for the New Year.



Our food is not the same as 50 years ago

Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food.– Hippocrates

Agribusiness appears to have overlooked Hippocrates’ advice in the quest for profits and quantity over quality. Over the last 50 years key nutrients of fruits and vegetables have declined. In a survey of 43 crops of fruits and vegetables, Davis, Epp, &  Riordan, (2004) found a significant decrease of  vitamins and minerals in foods grown in the 1950s as compared to now as shown in Figure 1 (Lambert, 2015).slide-1-redrawn-from-davis

Figure 1. Change in vitamins and minerals from 1950 to 1999. From: Davis, D. R., Epp, M. D., & Riordan, H. D. (2004). Changes in USDA food composition data for 43 garden crops, 1950 to 1999. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23(6), 669-682.

Not only are there fewer nutrients present in our fruits and vegetables, it is also laced/contaminated with pesticides and herbicides such as glyphosate.  Glyphosate is the weedkiller, Roundup, produced by Monsanto and is now found in almost all non-organic foods as shown in Figure 2.slide2a-foods-with-glyphosate

Figure 2.  Example of foods tested for the presence of glyphosate. Reproduced with permission from  https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.fooddemocracynow.org/images/FDN_Glyphosate_FoodTesting_Report_p2016.pdf

We are ingesting very low levels of glyphosate in most of our foods which may contribute to the development of illness. On March 20, 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)–the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization–classified glyphosate as probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A). Glyphosate also affects our immune system and the healthy bacteria in our gut. Thus, I strongly recommend avoiding glyphosate and other types of herbicide and pesticide contaminated foods. By eating an organic food diet you can reduce pesticide and herbicide exposure by 90%.  Unless you eat only organic foods, you will ingest more pesticides and herbicides at levels unacceptable by the European Union standards  as shown  in Figure 3.


Figure 3. Different allowable daily intake levels of glyphosate in the European Union as compared to the United States.  Reproduced with permission from  https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.fooddemocracynow.org/images/FDN_Glyphosate_FoodTesting_Report_p2016.pdf

Read the article Glyphosate: Unsafe on any plate: Alarming levels of Monstao’s gyphosate found in popular American foods. It describes the scientific evidence that at even at  ultra-low levels of glyphosate e.g. 0.1 parts per billions (ppb) harm to human health could begin and how much of the foods contain glyphosate.  The Executive Summary is reproduced with permission below:

Executive Summary

A leading FDA-registered food safety testing laboratory has found extremely high levels of the pesticide glyphosate in some of America’s most popular food products. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, is the most heavily used chemical weedkiller in food and agricultural production in human history, as a result of the widespread adoption of genetically engineered crops now grown on more than 175 million acres in the United States (U.S.) and more than 440 million acres around the globe.

New scientific evidence shows that probable harm to human health could begin at ultra-low levels of glyphosate e.g. 0.1 parts per billions (ppb). Popular foods tested for glyphosate measured between 289.47 ppb and at levels as high as 1,125.3 ppb. The testing and analysis was performed by Anresco Laboratories, San Francisco, an FDA registered laboratory that has performed expert food safety testing since 1943.

The laboratory found that well-known products tested for glyphosate, Original Cheerios, for example, measured levels as high as 1,125.3 ppb. Other high levels of glyphosate were found in familiar products such as Oreos, Doritos, and Ritz Crackers, among 29 foods tested. Currently, U.S. regulators allow a very high level of daily glyphosate residue in America’s food. The acceptable daily intake (ADI) limit is set at 1.75 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight per day (written 1.75 mg/kg bw/day) in the U.S., versus a more cautious 0.3 mg/kg bw/day in the European Union. Tolerances have been set through the submission of corporate-sponsored studies and industry influence on the regulatory process.

New research shows that Roundup causes liver and kidney damage in rats as reflected in changes in the functions of 4,000 genes at only 0.05 parts per billion (ppb) glyphosate equivalent indicating damage.2 Additional studies have found that levels as low as 10 ppb can have toxic effects on the livers of fish and cause significant damage to the livers and kidneys of rats at 700 ppb, which is the allowable level of glyphosate found in U.S. drinking water.

Credible independent, peer-reviewed scientific evidence now shows that the levels of harm to human health could begin at the ultra-low levels of 0.1 parts per billion (ppb) of glyphosate. These groundbreaking new findings that one of the most iconic cereals in U.S. contains levels as high as 1,125.3 ppb should be a wake-up call for all Americans regarding unacceptable levels of pesticide residues in our nation’s food. These findings are especially troubling, considering that the latest independent scientific evidence, during which a team of international scientists re-evaluated the same data previously used by regulators, calls for a much lower ADI to be set at 0.025 mg/ kg of bodyweight per day or “12 times lower than the ADI”6 currently set in Europe and 70 times lower than the level currently allowed by the EPA in the United States. It’s important for individuals and parents to understand that glyphosate contamination cannot be removed by washing and is not broken down by cooking or baking. Glyphosate residues can remain stable in food for a year or more, even if the foods are frozen or processed.

The testing and analysis was performed at the request of FOOD DEMOCRACY NOW!, in coordination with THE DETOX PROJECT, which gathered additional scientific evidence from around the world and included a compendium of independent research on glyphosate that contains Anresco Laboratory’s findings. Based on this new information, FOOD DEMOCRACY NOW! is calling for a federal investigation into the likely harmful effects of glyphosate on human health and the environment and is also seeking an investigation into the relationships between the regulators and the regulated industries, which has resulted in the public being exposed to levels of glyphosate which scientific studies show can be damaging to human health.

The complete article with references can be downloaded from: https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.fooddemocracynow.org/images/FDN_Glyphosate_FoodTesting_Report_p2016.pdf


Davis, D. R., Epp, M. D., & Riordan, H. D. (2004). Changes in USDA food composition data for 43 garden crops, 1950 to 1999. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23(6), 669-682. http://www.chelationmedicalcenter.com/!_articles/Changes%20in%20USDA%20Food%20Composition%20Data%20for%2043%20Garden%20Crops%201950%20to%201999.pdf

Lambert, C. (2015). If Food really better from the farm gate than super market shelf? New Scientist.228(3043), 33-37.

Millennials and the impact of technology

Technology connects us 24/7. Like a drug it provides instantaneous reinforcement when searching for information and sending or receiving social messages.  Millennials are the first generation of digital natives who are always connected–from being jarred awake by their cellphone alarm to checking email or Facebook just before sleep. They are unlike their parents who are digital immigrants and have experienced face-to-face communication instead of virtual/digital communication. The video below, Simon Sinek on Millennials in the Workplace, offers an interesting insight of in the lives of millennials.

How to stay safe when pulled over by the police

An officer and suspect interaction is fraught with danger especially if the police anticipate DANGER. The interaction may trigger an evolutionary based defense reaction that may mean that our analytical reflective thinking fades out and we focus only on immediate survival.  You may interpret any cues as potentially dangerous and that your life could be in danger. At that point the information is not processed rationally; since, it reaches the  amygdala 22 milliseconds faster than to the cortex where thinking would take place.  You react instead of act!

amygdala cortex.jpg

Adapted from: Ropeik, D. (2011). How Risky  Is It, Really? Why our fears don’t always match the facts. New York: McGraw Hill

We all have experienced this automatic response.  Remember when you were pissed off and angry at a close family member or friend? In the heat of the argument (or was it the battle for survival?), you said something that was cruel and painful–a real zinger.  As the words left your mouth, you realized that you should not have said what you said. You wished you could reel the words back. Immediately you know that this would be very difficult to repair. At that moment, you reacted in self-defense from the amygdala before the cortex was aware.

Similarly, an officer and you may react automatically without thinking when they perceive personal danger. How you behave and move could automatically signal DANGER or SAFETY to the officer .  To deescalate the situation when stopped by the police, behave in a way that signals to the officers that you are NOT a danger to them.

I highly recommend the short YouTube video by country singer, Coffey Anderson, Stop the Violence Safety Video for when you get pulled over by the Police. They share, what to do actually when you get pulled over by the police? It offers strategies to help diffuse tension at traffic stop, it gives solid steps into ways of staying safe, and getting home. SHARE this. It’s a must for all to see. If you have the opportunity, role-play the situation with your friends so that it becomes your new automatic response.

The video is on YouYube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnoLAtu0Wjk