I talked before about the health benefits (preventing stroke and heart disease) of tomatoes and their key antioxidant, lycopene. More and more research is coming out showing the lowered risk of strokes. I have a personal view on strokes, since I’ve worked with many stroke victims in the past and present. A new study, reported in the Wall Street Journal (Oct 9, 2012) cites another study that shows men who had the highest levels of lycopene had fewer strokes than men who had lower levels of lycopene in their blood. The study was published in the medical journal Neurology. Lycopene is found in the highest levels in cooked tomato products, including ketchup, salsa, paste, sauce, and puree, since cooking brings out the lycopene. There is also some preliminary data from Japan showing that the jelly part around the seeds also plays a big part in preventing heart disease. Lycopene is also found in watermelon, papaya, mango, and pink grapefruit.

I’ve had some knee issues (torn cartilage) and have gotten great benefits from these exercises: 1). Walking/running backwards, either doing hills or back and forth using landmarks. Using landmarks, I pick out a telephone pole or some other landmark and walk/run to that place, and quickly reverse my direction, taking small, quick steps. 2). I do squats with my toes off of the ground. I pretend that someone has cut off my toes and I put the pressure on my heels through the balls of my feet-it takes the pressure off of my knees. 3). My favorite drill is to walk pretending that I’m bringing my leg up over a hurdle, first from the outside inward, then from in to the outside. It works the hip in a nice way, and knees listen to the hips.

On the diet front, there are so many detox diets on the radar today, and none have any scientific evidence of their efficacy. There are other, natural ways to detox. 1). Green, leafy, veges. The chlorophyll in these veges helps flush out environmental toxins such as mercury, lead, and other heavy metals. 2). Eat greens; Parsley, spinach, kale, chard, mustard and collard greens, and wheatgrass all do the trick. Eat ’em raw, cooked or juiced. 3). Sweat, however it works for you-you relieve yourself of chemical and environmental toxins. 4). Daily bowel movements-one or more per day, however you do it. Fruits and veges are the best way, but whatever you need to do, do it.

Some interesting facts: 1). People in the U.S. spend more than $50 billion each year on diet plans, books, pills, and meals. 2). Apples are more efficient than coffee at keeping people awake in the morning (slower release of blood sugar). Eating breakfast: those who eat breakfast eat 6.8% less food throughout the day-it doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up quickly.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.