Food addiction, sugar in foods, organic coffee, free weights or machine, benefits of vitamin D3

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A column by Mike Furci that brings you research, trends and other info to help you with your fitness, health and nutritional needs.

Furci...the reason why you get addicted to any food, but particularly sugar, is because your brain has opioid receptors (heroin is an opioid)? Interestingly, sugar binds to the same addictive receptors as cocaine and other addictive drugs. These opioid receptors are part of a primitive reward system that helps you detect, select and enjoy eating fresh foods over rancid ones.

Today, however, we live in a world where we are surrounded not only by food in general, but by processed foods that are typically loaded with sugar. Unfortunately, this has led to a saturation of our opioid receptors, and we've become addicted to foods that are extremely harmful.

Now, there are a few compounds called opioid receptor antagonists. That means once they occupy the receptors, they prohibit you from being addicted to something else. And coffee is an opioid receptor antagonist. Caffeine can bind to your opioid receptors and may diminish the addictive impact of another substance, like sugar.

Ori Hofmekler: "If you are addicted to sugar, for instance, and you really want to train your body gradually to get rid of this addiction, using coffee would be a viable way to help yourself achieve this. Train yourself to drink black coffee. Drink it sugarless on an empty stomach and you will see how, gradually, the cravings will dissipate."

So, all in all, it appears coffee may have some valuable redeeming benefits, particularly to boost the benefits of your morning workout, as long as you get high-quality organic coffee, grind your own beans to make sure it's fresh, and avoid adding sugar.

Ori Hofmekler, author of "The Warrior Diet," "The Anti-Estrogenic Diet," "Maximum Muscle Minimum Fat," and the upcoming book "Unlocking the Muscle Gene," is an expert on how to improve your health with foods. video transcript

...many strength and muscle building experts will say the barbell back squat is much more effective at building size and strength than Smith machine squats? They argue free weight squats are a more natural movement and require much more stabilization and balance, which increases its effectiveness. However, the Smith machine is much easier to learn, especially for beginners, which many argue is safer. I contend that it depends upon the person's build. If you have long legs and a shorter torso, you will have a very difficult time performing a squat correctly in order to get optimum stimulation for strength or growth. In this case and in others, you would benefit greatly from performing Smith machine squats. But what does science have to say? Which is better for gaining strength?

Researchers from the University of Saskatchewan compared the free weight squat to the Smith machine using electromyography (EMG). The purpose of their study was to determine which exercise was better at stimulating the prime movers and stabilizers of the legs (the tibialis anterior, gastrocnemius, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis and biceps femoris); and trunk (the lumbar erector spinae and rectus abdominus). Six healthy participants performed 1 set of 8 repetitions using a weight they could lift 8 times, that is, 8-rep maximum.

Contrary to our hypotheses, muscles of the legs (specifically the vastus medialis and biceps femoris) displayed greater EMG activity during the free weight squat compared to the Smith machine squat, whereas there were no differences between exercises for EMG activity of trunk stabilizers.


Researchers conclude that the free weight squat may be superior to the Smith machine squat for training the major muscle groups of the legs, and would possibly result in greater strength development and hypertrophy of these muscle groups with long-term training.

"Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research," 23(9), 2588-2591.

...low testosterone levels put men at risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and early death? One study shows that testosterone treatment reduces LDL cholesterol and increases HDL cholesterol. Another study looked at the cause of death in almost 2,000 men ages 20 to 79 years. The men with low testosterone at the start of the study had a 2.5 times greater risk of dying during the next 10 years, compared with men with higher testosterone levels. Daily Health Tip; June, 2008

...vitamin D3, which is technically a prehormone, has a whole host of benefits including preventing or treating many diseases, including cancer? Below you'll find a letter I received for being a participant in a Vitamin D study, the results of which were published in the "International Journal of Cancer Research and Treatment."

Dear Michael,

Congratulations and thanks to absolutely everyone who has participated in and supported this project! According to one of our panel members, Dr. Anthony Norman:

"This paper provides a long-awaited insight into a dose-response relationship between orally administered vitamin D3 and the resulting levels of serum 25(OH)D in over 3,600 citizens. The results will allow a new definition of high vitamin D dose safety and reduce concerns about toxicity. This is a landmark contribution in the vitamin D nutrition field!"

Anthony Norman
Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences, Emeritus
University of California Riverside

Key findings:

There were reports on 3,667 individual's first test data.

No suggestions of toxicity were reported even up to intakes as high as 40,000 IU/day (not a recommended amount, however).

It's going to take about 9,600 IU/day to get 97.5 percent (almost everyone) to the 40 ng/ml level. Individual variations however range from 0 to more than 50,000 IU/day!

Testing is necessary to determine what the starting serum level is and how to adjust intake.

It took 3 tests (1 year) to determine the optimal dose for each individual.

The new rule of thumb for dosing will be changed. We'll publish a chart for all very shortly. Currently, it is stated that you can increase the serum level by 10ng/ml with 1,000 IU/day. Per our research, this is true only when starting at about 10ng/ml. If you want to go from 50 to 60 ng/ml, it will take an additional 2,000 IU/day (i.e., the rise is only 5ng/ml for each 1,000 IU/day).

Please visit our website, GrassrootsHealth and listen to the interviews with the study's authors, Dr. Cedric Garland and Dr. Robert Heaney. They both speak to the significance to public health of this study.

Another key item that I am very aware of is the public's readiness to "take charge" of their own health. With this view and the information to make it happen, we are bound to see some very exciting things with own health!

The research article is "open access" so that everyone can download and read it! Please do so here: GrassrootsHealth Research Article

Again, very, very many thanks to all of you for your participation and support. You are helping change the face of public health! We can move to a much more preventive model of healthcare. Please let me know at any time how we can best help.

We do need your ongoing financial support as well, to keep ‘spreading the word'. Please consider a donation to Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency for our future health.


Carole Baggerly

Director, GrassrootsHealth

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