Category Archives: weight loss

Menopause Cure

For ages women have been told that menopause is normal and to just accept it. If you are asking me to “just accept” hot flashes, insomnia, getting fat, depression, and loss of my sex drive, that sounds crazy and I’ll never be passive about it. That advice sounds so archaic and dark ages now.

The Menopause Cure(1) takes individualized and restorative medicine to a new level.  There is nothing new about replacement therapies for age related deficiencies. The key question is it effectiveness and toxicity. They distinguish between bioidentical verses synthetic hormones.

Since 1942,  women have been given Premarin which is horse estrogen taken from their urine. The problem with this and other synthetic hormones is they leave toxic byproducts in your body. Bioidentical means that natural hormones are identified and matched with your individual hormone profile. A one size fits all model doesn’t work since all blood profiles are unique.

In an interview(2), the author discusses how skin related changes occur in menopause. Loss of estrogen makes the skin more wrinkled and thiner with easier bruising and slower healing.

Weight gain is another unwanted side effect of menopause. If your insulin is high with low estrogens and poor thyroid performance, you won’t be able to lose weight.  The body will not metabolize food correctly so that fat is burned as energy.

When your libido or sex drive falls, it can effect  your relationship or your motivation to find one.  Many retired folks live in isolation and depression as a result. The social and psychological effects can be long lasting and detrimental . For this to be re-balanced, supplements would include progesterone, testosterone as well as  estrogens.

In conclusion, the final point the author makes is that most chronic and age related illnesses are correlated with hormonal imbalances. It is thought that the aging process can be slowed when optimal levels of hormones, vitamins and minerals are restored. The process involves blood analysis to determine what your individual needs are.  So, rather than suffer symptoms, lets go get restored!

By Lee Johnson of

(1)Davey, J., Dugan, S. “The Menopause Cure” Leicester, UK, Troubadour Publishing Ltd, 2015                                                                                                                                    (2) Mathena, L. “The Menopause Cure, Hormonal Health” Life Extension Mag, Vol 22, No. 7, July 2016

LaLanne’s Diet and Exercise Routine

Francois Henri LaLanne(1914-2011) famous diet and exercise routine paved the way for him to become an American health icon. He opened the first public gym in Oakland, Ca and is best known for his TV show on fitness. But, he started out as a junk food addict as a kid until he was embarrassed by a failure to pass a routine physical exam in school. This upset and motivated him to attend health lectures that re-directed his life.

WORKOUT: LaLanne’s workout routine began with a series of stretches in bed as soon as he woke around 5am. He then went to one of his weight rooms, one had free weights and the other had weight-lifting machines. He worked the lower body one day and the upper body the next and the entire routine was changed every 30 days. After 90 minutes of weight lifting, he went to the pool for swimming and water exercises for another 30 minutes.

DIET: He ate only two meals a day. The first meal was at 11am after the workout and the second around 7pm usually at a cafe with his wife. His breakfast consisted of fruit, oatmeal, broth, and four egg whites.

His restaurant dinners began with a salad of 10 raw vegetables and four hard boiled egg whites. Fish was consumed almost every night and roasted turkey occasionally. He ate no other types of meat and did not snack between meals. His juicer became popular because Jack just couldn’t eat that many raw vegetables. He found juicing made it easier to consumer the large amount of veggies he wanted.

VITAMINS: In addition to a disciplined diet, Jack took 40 to 50 vitamins and minerals on a daily basis. It’s too long of a list to print here, but can be found on his website. However, he never relied on supplements to replace any foods, he just view it as an “insurance policy.”

ALCOHOL: Being a Frenchman himself, he believed in drinking wine because he noticed that the French tend to live longer in their wine culture. He allowed himself this pleasure apart from his discipline and was even know to get drunk at times.

He published his last book when 95 years old, Live Young Forever that influenced me to change my breakfast to oatmeal and raisins–his favorite. He passed away a little more than a year later at 96 years old from pneumonia.

CONCLUSION: There are areas of contention in his routine. It’s true that Jack placed weights ahead of aerobic exercise. In his diet, he derived most protein from egg whites and fish rather than more diverse sources. His heavy vitamin consumption may have not helped much as absorption rates were lower then. And he probably drank a bit too much at times. But, it’s his long term devotion to a healthy diet and challenging exercise that set him apart.                            L. Johnson of

Allen, R. 4-8-15 Jack LaLanne Workout Retrieved from


Quick weight-loss or fad diets don’t work. These usually come with dramatic promises of weight loss in a set time. The weight you lose at the beginning is mostly water, not fat. This does not result in long term weight loss. In fact, some of these diets are actually harmful to your health. If you are evaluating diets now, be aware of these sales pitches and stay clear:

1. Guarantees you lose a certain number of pounds per week, especially more than two pounds.

2. Recommends supplements to make up for loss of vitamins and nutrients.

3. Omits a whole food group like a no carb diets. Remember fruits and veggies are carbohydrates.

4. Rationalizes its diet is healthy according to a new or complicated theory.

5. Suggest a daily caloric intake of less than 1200 calories unless you are under the supervision of a doctor.

Everyone wants to loose weight as fast as possible with as little effort as possible–that’s human nature. But, everyone who has lost weight just to gain it back is aware of how frustrating and complicating it can be.  You certainly don’t want to risk malnutrition or short term weight loss that quickly returns from dieting. You certainly  don’t want to set yourself up for failure anymore.

When I was teaching the psychology of eating at the weight reduction clinic, weight loss was introduced as a healthy lifestyle change, not a quick fix. This involved evaluating your entire life to see where unhealthy behaviors occur. Some people had foodie friends or family that needed to adapt to healthier ways. So, they became involved in the support part of the program even if they don’t diet themselves.  Our diet program encouraged a mind set for positive adaptability to a new diet, an exercise routine, and social support from friends and family. The team approach proved to be much more successful than going it alone.

My two favorites diets are the Mediterranean and the Okinawa diets because of the longevity qualities–a particular interest of mine.  But, today’s diets are designed for your individual physiological needs. Nutritionalists construct diets to address cancer, cardiovascular illness, diabetes, and even things like anemia.  So, the best diet for you is not whats in vogue today.

Your diet should be based on your ancestry of medical illness passed down, your current physiological needs (i.e., high blood pressure, etc) and your individual health goals for the future. Some people just want to lose weight while others may want to control diabetes or cholesterol. If you’re serious about dieting the healthiest way, then make an appointment with a dietitian or nutritionist and let them recommend a plan based on your personal needs.

Read more: The Psychology of Eating Less

Taurine for Health and Longevity

If you’re trying to lose weight and increase your longevity, you know the importance of exercise and diet. But, if your diet is rich in vegetables, you probably have low taurine levels. As we age, Taurine amino acid production by the body also decreases. Why is this a problem? According to Life Extension Magazine(1), it’s needed to  improve heart health, immunity, hearing function, insulin sensitivity and electrolyte balance. In animal studies, it reduced mortality by almost 80%. In humans, the cultures with greatest longevity all have a high intake of taurine. People with high taurine have much lower blood pressure and lower rates of dying form heart disease, the number one cause of death in the United States.

In terms of weight loss, they report a study where just 3 grams per day of taurine for 7 weeks resulted in significant weight loss for those over-weight. They also recorder declines in triglycerides and cholesterol. Taurine promotes glucose tolerance that helps reduce weight. This is especially important for diabetics since taurine helps prevent and even reverse diabetic abnormalities and prevent heart muscle damage(1).

Taurine also protects your vision and hearing. Age related vision loss is common among Americans, but not in all cultures. This amino acid has very high concentrations in the retina which naturally declines with age. Although, many things impact vision, proper levels of taurine help to prevent vision impairment. Americans also tend to have hearing loss with aging. Most of this damage is from inner ear nerve cells due to low calcium flow.  Amazing as it is, taurine restores the calcium flow which restores hearing loss from that source. Related studies also report that ringing in the ears from tinnitus can be stopped.

Additional benefits for athletes have revealed that cyclists can ride longer distances with less fatigue. Taurine apparently helps muscles preform at a higher level for longer periods without risk of injury. It increases “muscle contractility” or the force that muscle fibers use to push and pull. The result is that your muscles are stronger. One of the main cause of muscular fatigue is lactic acid. That stiff feeling the muscles get when you start out too fast. Taurine helps reduce the lactic acid thereby increasing your endurance.

Since the aging body cannot produce enough taurine, other methods must be used. Taurine can be incorporated into your diet, but you would need to eat more meat. One of the foods with the highest content of taurine is fish and shell fish (with mackerel at the top of the list). Chicken, beef and lamb are also a good source of this amino acid especially the organ meat. But, if you are a dedicated vegetarian or vegan, you probably want to consider supplements. Studies tell us that as little as 1.5 grams a day is enough to restore healthy levels. If you are a light meat eater, you may still consider a supplement since it takes a substantial amount of meat to balance your levels. L. Johnson

Macleavy, I. The Forgotten Longevity Benefits of Taurine. Life Extension Magazine. 2013 June. Retrieved on 9-28-2015 from:


Walking for life is one of the most sustainable and easiest exercises for most people. That’s because walking is already incorporated into your lifestyle and can be done anytime without equipment or expense. When I taught a class in the weight reduction program, we needed to pair people together to ensure long-term sustainability of walking. Social support is very motivational and often the key to personal involvement. If you’re not sure walking is enough of an exercise for you, here are the many benefits.

Benefits of Walking for Life

1. Walking lowers cardiovascular disease like high blood pressure and stroke. This comes as no surprise since exercise stimulates better circulation. Studies show that it increases your good HDL cholesterol while lowering the bad LDL cholesterol. It can lower triglyceride levels especially if done after a meal.

2. It burns calories and reduces your weight. Weight management is clearly a primary concern of most Americans. As you increase your walking speed and distance, you increase your burned calories. Body fat is modestly reduced with regular walking.

3. It improves brain function and reduces dementia. I mentioned in a prior post about brain shrinkage as we age or gain weight. Sending oxygen to the brain is so important as it helps prevent cognitive decline. Studies shows that walking helps you preform better on tests and it even improves memory in seniors.

4. It strengthens bones since it’s a wright-bearing activity. It helps preserve healthy joints thereby reducing arthritis. This is especially important for women who tend to lose bone density with age. Arthritis people tend to tolerate walking better than other exercises.

5. It firms your muscles and waistline. You can easily tone the bottom half of your body and increase arm movements to help with the top half. Adding hand weights increases your heart rate and tones the arms for a better workout.

6. It gives you energy by sending oxygen to your cells. Cells need oxygen to be healthy. This helps prevent physical disability in the elderly.

7. Walking produces endorphins that reduce anxiety and increases mood. Some studies show that exercise is just as effective as anti-depressant medication. You also reduce your stress and improve your sleep.

8. It can be a social activity which also helps lower blood pressure and heart related problems. It increases your immune response, self-esteem and improved mood as well. Studies show that socially oriented people have greater longevity.

9. There is a good chance you will live longer as a regular walker. Studies show that those people who walk the fastest outlive those who walk slower on average. Another study had people walk for 150 minutes a week( 5 days of half hour). This resulted an additional three and a half years to your life.

The great convenience about walking is all you need is a comfortable pair of shoes. I personally walk for as many errands as possible. I’m self motivated, so I walk with or without people. Some people find it helpful to monitor walking with a step-counter or stop watch. Studies show this monitoring encourages people to continually do more exercise, so I’m in favor of it. Since the social part is also very important, try to involve people you know. If you don’t know walkers, you can establish a walking club in your area and you’ll meet new friends and neighbors. The wonder of having workout buddies is that you forget you’re exercising!     L. Johnson


The best diets are ranked by doctors, nutritionalists and dietitians for U. S. News and World Report(1) annually. There are many factors that go into the ranking like its heart and diabetes ratings, weight loss potential, ease of following and best plant based diets. These different ratings are combined to afford its overall rating.

One of the first things you notice reviewing the list is how the trendy diets are near the bottom. Here is a list of the top and bottom five diets:

The Worst:

The Fast Diet–weak on dietary guidance when not fasting

Atkins–good for weight loss, not for nutrition or heart health

Raw food–3rd for weight loss, but too hard to follow

Dukan–not proven with a ton of rules

Paleo–not proven and ignores certain food groups, hard to follow

The Best:

DASH diet-(Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)This started out to lower blood pressure, but ranks high due to its safety, nutritional completeness and prevention of diabetes and blood pressure.

TLC diet (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) was created by the National Institutes of Health. Its described as a complete diet and is especially heart healthy. Its a do-it-yourself diet, so you just get organized with meal planning.

Mayo Clinic Developed at the clinic to make healthy eating a lifestyle. It has great nutritional balance and safety, but not necessarily as a weight loss diet.

Mediterranean Diet This diet is heavy into veggies and fruits, olive oil, fish, nuts, and grains. It’s a longevity diet, but not necessarily for weight loss.

Weight Watchers The only commercial diet on the top 5. It’s a nutritionally sound diet that’s easy to follow and has group support to encourage weight loss.

I found it interesting that cancer prevention wasn’t included as part of the ranking criteria considering it’s the second cause of death in the U.S.(heart disease is first). A plant based diet is good for cancer prevention as many of these are, but you may want a more specific diet. For example, we know that onions, mushrooms, and cruciferous vegetables provide more cancer protection than other veggies. So, adapting a diet specific to cancer is better than a general good diet, if that is your situation.

After examining the details of these diets, I find the DASH and the Mediterranean diets to be similar with their heavy emphasis on whole grains and veggies. I personally follow the Mediterranean diet because I have a cerebrovascular(stroke) history in my ancestry and I like the freedom it provides. I encourage you to choose a diet based on your genetic predispositions as well. So, take a little time to find out your family medical history to help determine your direction. Then you can choose a diet specific to your genes and family history. Bon Appetite.

L. Johnson

(1)U.S. News staff. Jan. 2015. “Best diets overall” Retrieved on 9-14-15 from website:

Best Foods for Women over 50

The best foods for women over 50 is based on the premise that women’s nutritional needs change at 50 and are different from men. An interesting article noticed that certain foods give women a health benefit by, “helping to prevent memory loss, hip fractures, breast and stomach cancers”(1). Five primary food categories have been identified as therapeutic.

Strawberries and Blueberries: The berry category is known to help prevent brain aging and memory loss especially if eaten daily. The article also mentions a Harvard study that found if older women eat two servings (1/2 cup each) of strawberries a week there is less inflammation in the blood. The study found that strawberries contain a number of key nutrients that play a role in taming inflammation, including fiber, folate, potassium and vitamin C.

Green Tea We know that teas from the Camellia Sinensis plant like matcha, white, green, and oolong teas have a long list of nutrients, minerals and vitamins. Black and pu-erh teas have more caffeine and less of these polyphenols and catechins. Catechins are a potent anti-cancer antioxidant also found in cocoa, peaches and prune juice. Catechins rich foods have been shown to reduce cancerous tumors in skin, colon, liver, and mammary glands.

The article reports another study by the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center that involved the diets of 75,000 middle-aged women. “Women who drank green tea three times a week for more than six months had a 17 percent lower risk of all three digestive cancers combined.”   For more details about green tea please see:

Dark, Leafy Greens This is more antioxidant food with the addition of vitamin K which is an important bone strengthener. Along with calcium, the combined effect helps prevent hip fractures when over 50 years of age. These leafy vegetables also help lower cholesterol,  protect your eyes, and reduce colon cancer. The effect of vitamin K may also help to protect the skin’s elasticity while helping to prevent wrinkles.

Walnuts The article included walnuts for omega-3 fats. I was a bit surprised with this one since we know fish and flaxseed is much higher in omega-3 fatty acids. If there is a concern with mercury in fish, you can certainly use flaxseed oil or just supplement with krill oil, like I do.  Nevertheless, walnuts and nuts in general are a healthy food with clear benefits. They mention, “Researchers speculate that walnuts carry many anti-cancer components that may be acting synergistically.” Salt free is the best way to go if you’re watching your blood pressure.

Red Wine/Alcohol This one is a bit of a surprise too since we know this benefits both genders. Alcohol acts as a blood thinner and takes pressure off the heart. The red grape contains resveratrol, an antioxidant that is known to prevent cell damage and cognitive decline. It contains quercetin, an antioxidant known to induce death to cancer cells. It also contains tannins, which give wine its color and may protect against heart disease. Some studies have correlated red wine consumption with longer life spans. The amount recommended for women is one to two glasses per day of any alcohol drink.

In conclusion, I find the recommendations here are sound and based on research. There are many ways to get your needed nutrients, so don’t feel confined to any one. If you are allergic to nuts, for example, just replace it with fish, krill oil or other foods high in omega-3.     L. Johnson     From:

Callahan, M. 12/28/12. Fiftysomething Diet: The 5 Food Women Need to Eat Retrieved from:

Superfood: OLIVE OIL

Olive oil, the keystone food of the Mediterranean diet, helps prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, inflammation, skin aging, and cognitive decline. The powerful protection of olive oil reduces the causes of death and the effect of aging. It an essential ingredient for this longevity diet.

Olive oil is certainly not new to us, but the health benefits increase if we completely eliminate butter and related products and increase the use of olive oil. This is especially true for the first press of extra virgin olive oil that has higher polyphenols which in turn combat inflammation. Why is inflammation bad? Its present with and worsens chronic diseases which is correlated with premature illness and death.

How does it help our cardiovascular system? We know from studies that it decreases overall cholesterol and low-density lipo-protein(LDL). “One of the key polyphenols in olive oil—hydroxytyrosol helps protect the cells that line our blood vessels from being damaged by overly reactive oxygen molecules. Hydroxytyrosol helps protect the blood vessel cells by triggering changes at a genetic level”(1). I find it amazing that genetic changes can occur. But, we are still learning about how profound the effect is of this oil.  In other words, olive oil not only lowers cholesterol, but the oil protects the inside of the cell wall from damage.

Can it really help to prevent cancer? A Life Extension study states olive oil reduces the risk of many types of cancer. The oleic acid in it interferes with the triggering of certain genes that play a key role in cancer. They mention evidence of its preventative effect on breast cancer cells by suppressing the breast cancer gene HER2. “It switches off the proteins that cancer cells rely on to survive and multiply.(2)” It suppresses the gene that drives tumor growth. So, if you’re a woman, this is a wonderful extra benefit.

There is some preliminary evidence that olive oil can reducing aging of the skin. However, further study is needed before solid claims can be made. Life Extension reports, “Scientists linked oleo-canthal, found in olive oil, to reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.” This occurs as a result of increasing the transfer of proteins in the brain. This benefit is so promising that it may lead to olive oil based therapy for Alzheimer’s.

When I started following the Mediterranean diet, I increased my olive oil intake. Rather than steam my veggies, I now saute them in olive oil. My salad dressing is olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar. And I use the oil for dipping sourdough–no more butter forever. In terms of eating actual olives, the curing process adds sodium while removing a lot of the polyphenols. So, the olives are not as beneficial as the oil itself. If including olive oil in your routine diet requires too many changes, studies say it’s okay to take 1 to 2 tablespoons a day(3). If it seems odd to drink oil at first, remember it’s all about your health and longevity.   L. Johnson of

(1)WhFoods staff(no date) “Olive oil, extra virgin” Retrieved on 7-15-2015 from: website:                                  (2)Downey, M.(Aug.2014) “Olive Oil” Life Extension Magazine. Retrieved on 7-15-2015 from website:                                                                                                                                              (3)Busch, S. (no date) “The benefits of 1 to 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil Per Day” Retrieved on 7-15-2015 from website:        

Only 9% of Us Eat Enough Vegetables

A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control or CDC(1) claims we need 1.5-2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables every day. The report concluded that only 9% of us eat enough veggies and only 13% of us eat enough fruit for maximum health. This varies by state with the South being the least fruit/veggies friendly and the West the most.

Why is this important? Fruits and especially vegetables contain numerous antioxidants, proteins, vitamins and minerals that reduce the occurrence of heart disease, cancer, and weight related disease(diabetes and hypertension). Some studies even correlated fruit/veggie consumption with increased longevity. There are too many studies to mention here that confirm the health benefits.

The American Heart Assoc. defines a serving of fruit as the size of a baseball or 1/2 cup chopped or 1/2 cup of juice. One serving of veggies is one cup if raw and leafy, 1/2 cup if chopped or 1/2 cup of vegetable juice. For grains, a serving is 1 slice of bread or 1/2 cup of cooked cereal or pasta.

That’s great, but how do I include all this into my diet? That’s exactly what Jack LaLanne thought when he decided to juice all his fruits and veggies. His juice was better than store bought since it didn’t have the additives. He lived to 96, so it certainly worked for him.

I prefer to eat solid foods, so I put a large bowl of fruit right in the center of my kitchen. It serves as a constant reminder to eat fruit for all my snacks. I also add fruit to anything I’m eating at the time. I add raisins and apples to my oatmeal for breakfast. I add strawberries and spinach to pre-made superfood salad mixes from the grocery. I often eat a large bowl of super salad for a meal. I mix in some quinoa for more protein and I don’t get hungry afterwards. I wake up in the morning feeling lighter and hungry–I just love it and so will you–happy eating!    L. Johnson from

(1)Sifferlin, A (7-9-2015) “Only 13% of Americans Eat Enough Fruit” Time. Retrieved on 7-13-2015 from:

The Aging Brain

Have you noticed small perceptual changes as a result of your aging brain? We are all concerned about losing our mental abilities as we age. It’s no surprise that the rate of decline is correlated to certain aspects of our physical health.  The brain’s primary function of cognition is a broad term that includes comprehension, memory, judgment and reasoning. This includes learning, decision-making, and language skills. These are skills of intelligence that we have used all our lives and taken for granted. Cognitive impairment can occur at any age, but I’m referring to Age Related Cognitive Decline or ARCD.

A normal function of aging brain is that neurons shrink and die. One of the primary reasons for this is oxidative stress, or an imbalance between reactive oxygen and the body’s ability to detoxify itself. Oxidative stress figures into Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, heart failure, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, and ARCD.

Chronic systemic inflammation caused by cigarette smoking, poor diet, insomnia, and obesity allows irritants to enter the brain. This inflammation causes a delay in reaction time and memory impairment. If you still smoke, preserving your mental functions is yet another important reason why you must stop.

Obesity and diabetes have a surprising effect on brain function. There are a number of studies that conclude that as body weight increases, brain size decreases, which leads to decreased cognitive abilities. There is a relationship between BMI (body mass index) and brain volume deficits. Childhood or midlife obesity can be a predictor of later life dementia. The cognitive impairment becomes worse when compounded with high blood pressure. Diabetes studies also show greater brain atrophy and lower test scores on performance and learning for this population.

Lack of challenging mental activity also contributes to mental decline. The brain is like a muscle that needs to be exercised. Learning new information encourages the brain to establish new neural networks that can be used to compensate for other age-related impairments in brain function.

What to do:

OXIDATIVE STRESS:  A diet rich in antioxidants foods will help mitigate the effects of oxidative stress. I have previously outlined the importance of superfoods like spirulina, green tea, and quinoa. The best antioxidant diet is plant based  rich in vegetables and fruits. A routine of moderate exercise is also very important.

INFLAMMATION:  The most important thing you can do for your brain and overall health is to not smoke. Make a list of all the anti-inflammation foods beginning with your breakfast. Green tea, cloves and ginger are high on this list. You must avoid fatty, sugary, and salty  junk foods.

YOUR WEIGHT:  Being over-weight causes so many health problems in addition to a shrinking brain. Obviously, a healthy diet with restricted calories paired with a good exercise plan is essential. I used to teach the psychology of eating in a weight reduction clinic, so I know that being involved in an organized program is the most helpful. Here is a post on how to eat less from my work in the program:

MENTAL ACTIVITY: Physical activity pumps fresh oxygen into your brain and improves memory. Social activity exercises our cognition and produces endorphins. Mental exercise of establishing new neural pathways is another fun part of improving your mental abilities. You can enjoy doing crossword puzzles, playing scrabble, Sudoku, writing, solving math problems or doing any other new or challenging activity that you enjoy. The good news is that the expected cognitive decline is so gradual that most of us won’t notice, as long as we’re healthy.  L. Johnson  (