Monday, April 28, 2008

Preventing Mouth Ulcers with Tea Tree Oil Toothpaste - Results after Seven Weeks

The ancient magic of the tea trees seems to be unnoticeable. (Photo by Richard Saunders)

Yet another setback in what I've come to call the "tea tree oil toothpaste tragedy".

The idea of the experiment was to see whether toothpaste has anything to do with developing mouth ulcers, as some theories suggest. I had such high hopes, but I think I've actually had more mouth ulcers while using the toothpaste than usually.

And as if that wasn't enough, I went to the dentist and was told that I have a new dental cavity as well. Whether that's due to the toothpaste is anyone's guess, but I'm not too happy with the results of this experiment.

I'm going to finish the tube no matter what, but if anyone has ideas on how to stop mouth ulcers from appearing, let's hear them.

Go to next post on this experiment

Read More......

Digg Technorati Stumbleupon Reddit Blinklist Furl Yahoo

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Relationship of Longevity and Genetics

The Chinese symbol for longevity. (Photo by Joe Pitz)

I'm leaving the country for a holiday trip tomorrow, so no updates for a week (and definitely no calorie counting).

Trying to educate myself more about the benefits of a low-carb diet, I ran across this piece in NY Times. It's from 2004, but it's rather interesting nonetheless. Dr. Nir Barzilai from the Institute for Aging Research has studied the genes and habits of Ashkenazi Jews who have lived to be an average of 100.

So what was their secret to a long, healthy life? Surprisingly, there was no secret. Of the 300 centenarians interviewed, none had exercised. Yogurt, often touted as some kind of mysterious elixir of youth, played no role either. Most importantly, none of them was a vegetarian.

Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that 30 percent of them were actually overweight, which seems to indicate that caloric restriction (which inevitably leads to a weight loss) is not the only way to increase one's lifespan. The most important cause was genetics - those who had a family history of exceptional longevity lived the longest. That's good news for those of us whose grandparents had a long life and not so good news for those whose grandparents didn't.

Dr. Barzilai does not, however, encourage people to stop exercising or eating a healthy diet.

For more information on anti-aging and longevity, see these posts:

Growing New Body Parts: Breakthroughs in Regenerative Medicine
Drinking 10 Cups of Green Tea Daily and Not Smoking Could Add 12 Years to Your Life
Green Tea Reduces the Formation of AGEs
How the Accumulation of Minerals Might Cause Aging in Humans

Read More......

Digg Technorati Stumbleupon Reddit Blinklist Furl Yahoo

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Week of Caloric Restriction - Days 6 & 7

Vodka has virtually no calories and is full of nutritie... no, wait. (Photo by ukaszSie)

Whew! The week is finally over. Now would be a good time to look back and see how my first attempt at caloric restriction went.

I survived Friday on a big salad and some fruit and spent the rest (900 kcal) on beers and a vodka coke. Very healthy, eh? It wasn't made any easier by the fact that I stayed up all night and went to bed late in the morning. Still, it wasn't as difficult as it may sound. Usually when I drink beer I get the urge to eat carbs, even when I've had more than enough calories already, but now I was getting by fairly well with a rather small meal.

I also drank less than I usually would, which was partly due to beer containing lots of calories and partly due to the alcohol having a stronger effect on me than usually. That's what not eating will do. Want to get drunk fast but running low on cash? Try caloric restriction!

After I woke up, I ate a banana (100 kcal) and a while later some minced lamb (280 kcal) with an egg yolk (50 kcal). That was the only meal I had that day - the rest was, once again, spent on drinks. I know it sounds pretty ridiculous, but once again everything went just fine. The smell of greasy food was a little difficult to ignore on Saturday, but not much more so than on a normal night out. I was rather surprised to see that I could keep the experiment going through the weekend.

The hardest part were the first two days, during which I felt very hungry most of the time. It seemed that all I could think about was food. The idea of going through that every single day doesn't feel very tempting, though it could probably be done. The trick to not feel hungry is to eat foods that make you feel satiated but don't contain a lot of calories. I still think that low-carb is the way to go - even during CR - but it can be a little tricky. For example, I think olive oil is very healthy, but it's so calorie-dense that when you're hungry and have the option of eating either a banana or a tablespoon of olive oil (both have about 100 kcal), the banana seems like the wiser choice.

I'm now going to end the experiment and see how much calories I actually tend to eat when not restricted. If it's more or less 2,000 kcal, then eating 1,750 kcal is only a 12.5 % CR diet, which wouldn't probably add much more years to one's life. Based on my experience, I think I could go on only 1,500 kcal per day, but it would take some getting used to.

Also, counting the calories of everything you eat can be quite a hassle. At home it's manageable, but try going to a restaurant and analyzing the calorie content of everything that's on your plate.

Read More......

Digg Technorati Stumbleupon Reddit Blinklist Furl Yahoo

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Week of Caloric Restriction - Day 5

Prawns are a good choice when you're on caloric restriction. (Photo by Swamibu)

Only 640 kcal eaten today, and I'm feeling just fine. It's strange; on the first two days anything less than 2000 kcal seemed really difficult and now I feel like I could go for 1500 kcal per day. I'm sticking with the current diet for now, anyhow.

Some good foods to eat while restricting calories: lettuce, broccoli, cucumber, tomatoes, lean meat, eggs and prawns. I was surprised to notice that the prawns I bought contain only 60 kcal / 100 g. An egg contains about 75 kcal, but they're also quite fulfilling.

I'm a little worried about the fact that it's weekend, which means more beer-drinking, which means more empty calories. I'll either have to drink very little or drink more and eat very little, neither of which sounds too good. We'll see how it works out.

Go to next post on this experiment

Read More......

Digg Technorati Stumbleupon Reddit Blinklist Furl Yahoo

A Week of Caloric Restriction - Day 4

I hear the bubbles are very low in calories. (Photo by detsugu)

Yesterday went surprisingly easily; I had a pint of beer and a glass of sparkling wine in the evening and could've quite easily left it at that. I really wasn't feeling all that hungry when I came home, but decided to use up what was left of my allowed calorie intake anyway.

I've been feeling much better today, except for the fact that I'm battling the flu, which seems to be going around. I'm not sure whether this has anything to do with caloric restriction. If anything, it should be good for the immune system.

Today's diet included the rest of the raw meat I bought yesterday and a big salad. I spent 400 kcal on beers (I clearly picked a bad week for caloric restriction) again and sealed the deal with dark chocolate. Both of them score poorly on the satiety index, but what the hell - I wasn't feeling that hungry anyway.

Go to next post on this experiment

Read More......

Digg Technorati Stumbleupon Reddit Blinklist Furl Yahoo

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Week of Caloric Restriction - Day 3

Find your inner caveman with raw meat. (Photo by jlastras)

Oh boy. This is more difficult than I thought. I had one more meal (slightly less than 700 kcal) yesterday and didn't really feel satiated afterwards. When I went to bed all I could think of was food, food, food.

I slept terribly. I couldn't get any sleep for several hours, which probably had something to do with the hunger, and then I slept way too late. It's pretty frightening that I spent 13 hours in bed and didn't even feel refreshed in the morning. In fact, I was supposed to hit the gym today, but I didn't have the energy. Strangely though, I wasn't as hungry in the morning as I was when I went to bed, just fatiqued.

Currently, I'm feeling a little better. So far I've eaten only 585 kcal and am not that hungry. The trick is definitely to eat foods that have a high satiety index and a low calorie index, which make you feel full while consuming less energy. I started the day with some fruit, and for lunch I had a sort of a poor man's steak tartar with minced lamb, onion and egg yolk, all raw of course. If you've never tried raw minced meat, you should. Get in touch with those caveman instincts.

It's really quite incredible how much more fulfilling raw meat is compared to cooked meat, though I'm not sure how long the effect lasts. Nonetheless, I take comfort in knowing that I still have almost 1200 kcal to spend.

Go to next post on this experiment

Read More......

Digg Technorati Stumbleupon Reddit Blinklist Furl Yahoo

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Week of Caloric Restriction - Day 2

The Cheese Siren will tempt thee, but thou shalt not give in. (Photo by stu_spivack)

I managed to keep my calorie intake at 1750 kcal yesterday, but I have to admit I was a little hungry when I went to bed. I spent the remaining 650 kcal I had on some fruit, cheese and wine. Cheese is definitely not the way to go on this diet, since it's so high in calories (this one was something like 350 kcal / 100 g). Well, not high-fat cheese at least (and what other kind is there?).

Needless to say, I woke up today feeling hungry. So far I've eaten fruit (210 kcal) and salmon (700 kcal) with onion (50 kcal), zucchini (20 kcal) and olive oil (100 kcal). That's 1080 kcal down the throat already and a little less than 700 kcal to go.

And I'm hungry as hell.

Go to next post on this experiment

Read More......

Digg Technorati Stumbleupon Reddit Blinklist Furl Yahoo

Monday, April 7, 2008

A Week of Caloric Restriction - Day 1

Mice that eat less live considerably longer. (Photo by Darny)

The next experiment I'm going to expose myself to is caloric restriction, which aims to slow the aging process by limiting dietary energy intake. In essence, that means eating less to live longer.

Caloric restriction (or CR) been shown to work on a variety of species such as fruit flies, mice, rats and fish. It's been around for quite some time and has been proven in many studies (just type "caloric restriction" into Google). For example, 70 years ago it was noticed that mice whose diet was restricted in calories lived almost twice as long as mice who were allowed to feed freely. Studies on monkeys are undergoing and look promising. No conclusive human studies have been done (since they would take longer than the lifespan of the researchers to conclude), but it seems logical that it would work in humans as well.

The effects of CR become more profound as the amount of calories eaten decreases; the more you starve, the longer you live. The rats and mice are often on a 50% caloric restriction diet, which means that they are allowed to eat half the calories they would normally eat, which would be very difficult for humans. Nonetheless, beneficial effects are seen on less restrictive diets as well. The goal is also not malnutrition; rather, the idea is to eat less calories while getting all essential nutrients. Hence, CR is often also called CRAN (Caloric Restriction with Adequate Nutrition) or CRON (Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition).

I haven't been able to find a reliable source that would say how much a person of my size, age and sex should eat daily to maintain the same bodyweight, so I'm going to have to base my starting calorie level on various estimates and websites. A figure I have often seen is a little over 2,000 kcal per day (and about 2,300 kcal if I've been to the gym that day), which seems reasonable.

According to the calculator at, I'm already on a 16.5 % CR diet compared to a control, but I'm going to take take a conservative approach and eat only 1750 kcal instead of the 2000 kcal or so I'm eating now.

The point of this experiment is, of course, not to prove that I'll live to be 120 years old, but to see whether it can be done. This way, you can sit back, relax, and munch on a hamburger while reading about my suffering for the sake of science. Will the hunger be unbearable? How long can I keep on going? Will I ever post back? Who knows!

So far today, I've eaten:

- a couple of brazil nuts (60 kcal)
- salmon (700 kcal) in coconut milk (280 kcal) with onion (50 kcal), zucchini (20 kcal) and olive oil (100 kcal)
- a plum (30 kcal)
- two apples (150 kcal)

That gives a total of about 1100 kcal. Good thing I got another 650 kcal left, 'cause I'm getting hungry just typing all that food.

Go to next post on this experiment

Read More......

Digg Technorati Stumbleupon Reddit Blinklist Furl Yahoo

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Overdosing with Vitamin B - Conclusion

Don't try overdosing on vitamin B - it's too difficult. (Photo by Auntie P)

It's time to end my vitamin B experiment. A week ago I increased my supplementation to see if it would make a difference. I can't say that it did. Or, at least, if there were any effects, they were not visible.

The amounts of vitamin B from the supplements and food combined were:

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) - 313 % of RDA
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) - 362 % of RDA
Vitamin B3 (niacin) - 391 % of RDA
Vitamin B5 (panthotenic acid) - 334 % of RDA
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) - 360 % of RDA
Vitamin B7 (biotin) - 300 % of RDA*
Vitamin B9 (folic acid) - 330 % of RDA
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) - 497 % of RDA

* The value for biotin is based on supplements alone, since doesn't show the amounts of biotin from food.

For B1, B2, B5, B7 and B12 there seem to be no tolerable upper levels established. For B3 it's 35 mg / day. I was eating about 60 mg / day, which is almost double that. For B6 it's 100 mg / day, which is considerably more than the 7 mg or so that I was eating. For B9 it's 1000 mcg / day, and I was eating about 650 mcg / day.

I noticed no side effects from consuming more niacin than the upper tolerable intake for adults. According to Wikipedia, symptoms such as facial flushing, dry skin and indigestion are associated with even higher intakes (1.5 - 6 mg / day).

Read More......

Digg Technorati Stumbleupon Reddit Blinklist Furl Yahoo

  © Blogger template 'Perfection' by 2008

Back to TOP