The Digest - May 20

Here's the latest & most interesting from the studies and articles I've read over the week:  

  • Heart damage from chronic endurance exercise is back in the news.
  • You’re interested in health/fitness but your partner isn’t?
  • 8 lists that highly successful people maintain. I already have 6 of them.
  • Parents and parents to be: you can’t afford not to do that for your children.
  • How the UK Government is trying to solve a problem by making it bigger.
  • Red meat causes cancer! Well, no it doesn't, not if you read the research properly.


  • Yet another study which highlights the increasingly visible risk of heart problems among endurance athletes. Unfortunately “sudden cardiac arrest” is a phenomenon which has been affecting athletes at all levels, regardless of fitness levels, age or sex. In this study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, scientists showed that extended (long) chronic endurance exercise is linked to reduced function in the right ventricle of the heart, a potentially unpredictable and fatal development. This doesn’t mean that exercise is bad of course, but just like with anything in life, “too much of the same thing” can be just as bad as too little. That’s one of the reasons why my philosophy in coaching is to build “complete athletes”, not just triathletes, or runners, etc.^


  • One of the common complaints I hear from people looking to lead healthier lifestyles is the following: “I’m finding it hard because my wife/husband isn't embarking on a similar journey”. This doesn't mean their partner is not supportive, it just means that he/she is not interested in pursuing a similar lifestyle change. Well what if you’re in a relationship where you’re not looking to make a change yourself because you’ve always led a “healthy / active” lifestyle, how do you get your partner to make a change? Well this study from the Health Behavior Research Centre in London indicates that men and women are more likely to make a change “if their partner makes a change” as well. In fact, if their partner was “always healthy anyway”, it makes it more difficult to make the change. It’s the act of “change” that inspires a man or women to follow their partner’s footsteps. So in practice: even if you’re healthy/fit, approach your partner and agree on changes you can make together rather than just expecting them to “follow your lead”.^


  • Evernote and Nozbe are my go to note-taking and task-management apps and I can’t live without them. One of the notes I revisit the most in Evernote is “Books to Read”, another is “People to Meet”, and yet another is “Travel”. Nozbe is my task manager where I have all my various to do lists. I consider each one of these lists a core element in my ability to succeed at a personal and professional level. This article summarizes 8 lists that highly successful people maintain on an ongoing basis. I’ve got most of them covered but not all, so this article was a good refresher for things I was missing.^


  • Take 2 children born at the same time. By the age of 5, one has heard millions of words spoken to him/her, while the other hasn’t. Which one do you think will have a head start in achieving success in academic and life? In this excellent article, Dr. Mercola discusses the importance of “reading to your children” from a very young age. It includes some interesting statistics and scientific references, such as research which shows that language gaps may be present by the age of 18 months and tend to only grow with ageRead and share the article if you have children, it’s really fascinating.  ^


  • We’ve been talking for months about how the rampant use of antibiotics by doctors and the food industry has resulted in the development of a wide range of “antibiotic resistance bacteria” and the emergence of new diseases as a result. This is a serious problem which stems from doctors prescribing antibiotics when not required (I’ve personally seen so many doctors prescribing antibiotics for infections which didn’t even involve bacteria!). Every time you take an antibiotic, you weaken your immune system, which leaves you vulnerable to more infections, which the doctors treat by giving you more antibiotics, and it’s a vicious circle… Add to that the fact that you’re getting exposed to high dosages of antibiotics from the food you eat (chicken, meat, and even farmed fish) and no wonder bacteria developed resistance to antibiotics! So what’s the solution? Could it be “reduce the use of antibiotics so we can strengthen our immune systems and reduce the likelihood of developing resistant bacteria”? Not according to the UK Government it isn’t! The UK Government wants the pharmaceutical industry to undertake a US$2 billion project o “develop new antibiotics!”. Are these pharmaceutical companies getting onboard with it? Well the government is willing to “guarantee payments to companies which produce vitally needed new antibiotics”, so they would be stupid not to undertake this exercise… So what happens where bacteria become resistant to these “new” antibiotics?^


  • Red meat causes cancer! or does it? You couldn’t have missed that headline right? After all, it appeared at numerous occasions over the past couple of years. In each of these stories, the media drew on certain studies which showed an association between red meat consumption and cancer (note that such studies looked at “association” not “causation”). Finally someone took the time to look into these studies in a bit more detail, and here’s what they found out: these studies didn’t differentiate between “processed meat” and ‘fresh meat”, even when “fresh meat” was consumed, the source of that meat wasn’t taken into account (for example grain-fed beef given antibiotics is FAR more inflammatory when consumed vs. grass-fed organic). Some of the revelations were: “when you exclude processed meats and fast food, the association between red meat and cancer is no longer statistically significant”; “when you exclude the US, again the association is no longer statistically significant”. You get to the same results when studies are conducted in China and Japan. Tells you something about the North American diet doesn’t it? Anyway, here’s the full story if you’re interested to read more.^


As usual, any questions / comments, hit reply.