5 Natural Supplements to Increase Sperm Count

5 Natural Supplements to Increase Sperm Count

Written by Myles Spar

Posted on: January 16, 2019

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If you follow the news, you may have heard about a study published in 2017 that found sperm counts seem to be dropping at an alarming rate in the Western world. As reported by NPR, researchers looking at data from almost 43,000 men in dozens of industrialized countries discovered that sperm counts plummeted by nearly 50% in around four decades. Shanna Swan, a reproductive epidemiologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York who helped conduct the study, told NPR she was very concerned by the findings because not only is low sperm count a potential cause of infertility, it has also been linked to premature death. A GQ piece actually referred to sperm production as the canary in the coal mine of men’s health since those with poor semen quality are more likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
 
Scientists aren’t exactly sure why sperm counts are dropping, although they suspect exposure to chemicals and stress are factors. Luckily, you can take steps to counteract these factors. Here are five natural supplements to increase sperm count.
 

Zinc
Research indicates that zinc may play an important role in sperm production, and zinc deficiency has been linked to infertility. One review found that the zinc level in the seminal plasma of infertile males was significantly lower than that of normal males and that zinc supplementation has the potential to increase sperm quality in men struggling with infertility.
 

Folic Acid
When taken with zinc, folic acid appears to have a profoundly positive effect on sperm count. A prominent Dutch study published in 2002 found that “subfertile” men who took 5 mg of folic acid a day along with 66 mg of zinc sulfate for 26 weeks experienced a whopping 74% increase in total normal sperm count.
 

Maca
Maca is an herb with a history of use dating back to the Incas. Traditionally favored for its ability to enhance endurance and boost libido, this hearty plant that thrives in the extreme growing conditions of the Andes is also thought to improve fertility. Indeed, animal studies have found maca improves sperm quantity and quality. It can also act as an aphrodisiac, which is why I include it on my list of supplements to increase sex drive.
 

Fenugreek
You may think of fenugreek as a culinary herb, but it also has a wide variety of medicinal uses—including boosting sperm count. In 2017, a study looking at the effects of a patent-pending fenugreek extract called Furosap® found that sperm counts were significantly improved in those who were given 500 mg per day of the product for 12 weeks. Subjects also experienced a statistically significant increase in free testosterone levels.
 

Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is another potent medicinal herb that has been shown to improve sperm count (and fertility in general) by bumping up testosterone levels. In a study where men with low sperm counts took 675 mg of ashwagandha every day for three months, sperm counts increased by 167% while sperm motility (the movement or swimming ability of sperm) went up by 53%. Those study participants who took a placebo showed little to no improvement in their fertility.
 
Ashwagandha also ranks on my list of supplements everyone should take because it’s an adaptogen, meaning it possesses a unique ability to help the body adapt to stress. Adaptogens like ashwagandha increase our ability to cope with and respond to whatever comes our way, which is something we can probably all use more of in these tumultuous times.

While this list is a good place to start, supplements aren’t the only way to naturally increase sperm count. Medical News Today lists exercising, getting enough rest, reducing stress, and quitting smoking as lifestyle changes that can have a positive effect on sperm quantity and quality. For information on how to implement this type of change to improve your health and achieve your goals, sign up for my newsletter:

 

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About Myles Spar, MD

Myles Spar, MD, MPH is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Integrative Medicine. As a clinician, teacher and researcher on faculty of two major medical centers, he has led the charge for a more proactive, holistic and personalized approach to care that focuses on cutting edge technology and preventative care. Dr. Spar has traveled with the NBA, presented a TEDx Talk, appeared on Dr. Oz, and been featured in publications such as the Men’s Journal and the Los Angeles Times.

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What Is Biohacking and Should I Do It?

What Is Biohacking and Should I Do It?

Written by Myles Spar

Posted on: January 2, 2019

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What is BioHacking, Man working out with biohacking

I respect the quest for taking advantage of new technology and scientific discoveries in order to improve our lives, especially our health. Biohacking was one of the biggest trends in 2018, led by Dave Asprey, founder of Bulletproof and author of The Bulletproof Diet. According to his website, Asprey has spent over a million dollars hacking his biology, a process that spanned two decades and helped him lose weight and raise his IQ, among other things. Other proponents of biohacking are Ben Greenfield and the ultimate expert in life hacking, Tim Ferriss, author of the 4-Hour Workweek. But, what exactly is biohacking, and should you do it?
 
At its core, biohacking essentially is about doing things to your body or brain to make them function better. Of course, I’m up for that.
 
What troubles me about the way biohacking is being presented is tends to emphasize simple passive actions, like taking a drug or supplement or using a device, to create a shortcut around a more complicated process that takes more effort. Think, hacking into a computer to get information easier or to get around safety and security obstacles.
 
Think about that for a minute.
 
Do you really want your model for health to be based on side-stepping some proven ways to make lasting change?
 
Again, I’m 100% in for taking advantage of true scientific breakthroughs – incorporating them into health habits and routines to make our lives better or even longer. But to me, that is refining, tweaking, making systems better with deliberate action in a conscious way – not rerouting a whole system.
 

Tack, don’t hack.

 
When you’re sailing, you use the prevailing winds — and head straight for them, finding that optimal point that gives the most speed. A small adjustment can take you from stagnation to your fastest gains with a few simple moves — that work with what’s right in front of you  (not a workaround — but a work with).Tacking is all about making progress in your desired direction.
 
You’re adding that gust of wind to your armamentarium of tools. You are using that wind as a boost, not as a replacement for all of the other methods that keep you on course.
 
Where do you want to go? What one change in your health would help propel you forward in achieving a goal that matters to you?
 
Are you looking to perform better at work? Then being more mentally sharp certainly would help. So, by all means, take advantage of a “biohack” like a nootropic. My blog post on “5 Tricks to Faster Thinking” can give you some tips on this. BUT use these tricks to help you TACK – to shift in the direction of higher mental prowess – while actively continuing to do other things you know help you to stay sharp, like exercising and getting enough sleep and eating right.
 

Use the hack as a tool – not as a shortcut.

 
By all means, optimize your hormones and meditate. Maybe even take metformin (after consultation with a healthcare professional) or try cryotherapy. There’s some good science to all of these – science that makes sense.
 
But don’t have the attitude of a passive cheat-the-system and find-a-shortcut hacker. Own the hack – use it like a strong gust of wind to help you tack – to add it to what you already know works – to get you where you want to go.
 
When you tack, the focus is on the destination, not the hack.
 
Interested in learning more about the benefits of tacking? Want to know how to get the best out of your body and mind? Sign up for my newsletter here and read about my Tack180 Optimal Health Program – the program that helps you incorporate the best of hacking into a comprehensive program for achieving your goals.

 

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About Myles Spar, MD

Myles Spar, MD, MPH is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Integrative Medicine. As a clinician, teacher and researcher on faculty of two major medical centers, he has led the charge for a more proactive, holistic and personalized approach to care that focuses on cutting edge technology and preventative care. Dr. Spar has traveled with the NBA, presented a TEDx Talk, appeared on Dr. Oz, and been featured in publications such as the Men’s Journal and the Los Angeles Times.

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Techniques for Building Muscle Mass

Techniques for Building Muscle Mass

Written by Myles Spar

Posted on: December 19, 2018

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Building Muscle Mass, Man doing pull ups and showing back muscle

Do you feel like you never see the results you want no matter how hard you hit the gym? Has your fitness level plateaued? As a triathlete who works with a lot of athletes, I get it. The good news is, you may only need to do a bit of tweaking in order to achieve your goals. Here are my top ten exercises, tips, and techniques for building muscle mass.
 

1. Practice Pullups
Muscle & Fitness lists pullups as one of their favorite exercises for building back muscles as well as working your forearms and biceps. Most gyms have an assisted pullup machine to help you work up to this challenging exercise.
 

2. Don’t Overtrain
Pushing yourself is part of the process when trying to build muscle mass, but you risk injury when you overdo it. As I explain here, symptoms like extended soreness and/or frequent illness can indicate a need to pull back.
 

3. Experiment with Supplements
I have a lot of clinical and personal experience with products designed to enhance your performance. Here are a couple of my favorites. For a complete list, check out this post.

– Creatine: There’s plenty of research out there showing creatine improves strength, increases lean body mass, and enhances performance.

– Acetyl-L-Carnitine: Science suggests supplementing with acetyl-L-carnitine can have a beneficial effect on athletic training, competition, and recovery.
 

4. Do Some Dips
The dip is another exercise recommended by Muscle & Fitness since it works your triceps when you keep your torso upright and targets your chest when you lean forward.
 

5. Eat The Right Kind of Protein
Your body needs protein to build muscle mass, but quality seems to be more important than quantity. For example, while red meat is an excellent source of protein, it’s also high in saturated fat and has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease and cancer. Healthy protein like the kind found in fish and plant sources, on the other hand, has been shown to lower disease risk. See my post here for a simple explanation of protein intake.
 

6. Squat Properly
Bodybuilding.com says squats are essential if you’re looking to build muscle in your legs. Technique is everything when it comes to this exercise, so click here for information about proper squatting form.
 

7. Consider Fasting
It’s an unfortunate fact that dieting often leads to muscle loss. Not so with intermittent fasting, according to Krista Varady, Ph.D., an associate professor of kinesiology and nutrition at the University of Illinois at Chicago. As Dr. Varady told Men’s Journal, “When people lose weight, typically 75% is fat loss and 25% is muscle mass. But with fasting, the ratio actually changes so that 90% of weight loss is fat and 10% is muscle.” If you’re trying to lose weight but also want to build muscle mass, intermittent fasting could be right for you. See this post for more on the benefits of fasting.
 

8. Row It Out
Either barbell or dumbbell rows are an excellent way to build muscle mass in your upper back, according to Muscle & Strength.
 

9. Don’t Neglect Your Legs
As much as you may dread it, you should never skip leg day. Muscle & Performance explains that these lower body exercises release a “surge of growth-inducing hormones” that can help you build muscle mass. After all, your legs contain the gluteus maximus (your butt) which is the largest muscle in the body. Ignore it at your own peril.
 

10. Incorporate Cardio
According to bodybuilder and trainer Zach Even-Esh, Arnold Schwarzenegger recommended vigorous exercise like running, biking, and swimming after weight training workouts or on rest days. Make sure to push yourself in order to get your heart rate up—Even-Esh says if you can talk on your phone or read a magazine while doing cardio, it’s not cardio.
 
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About Myles Spar, MD

Myles Spar, MD, MPH is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Integrative Medicine. As a clinician, teacher and researcher on faculty of two major medical centers, he has led the charge for a more proactive, holistic and personalized approach to care that focuses on cutting edge technology and preventative care. Dr. Spar has traveled with the NBA, presented a TEDx Talk, appeared on Dr. Oz, and been featured in publications such as the Men’s Journal and the Los Angeles Times.

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What Is Biohacking and Should I Do It? 4 of the Best Biohacking Tricks

What Is Biohacking and Should I Do It? 4 of the Best Biohacking Tricks

Written by Myles Spar

Posted on: December 4, 2018

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What Is Biohacking, man with rope workingout

The do-it-yourself (DIY) movement has thoroughly permeated our culture. People are doing everything from brewing their own beer to butchering their own meat, often in the interest of saving money while learning something new. But what happens when you apply the DIY spirit to biology? You get biohacking.
 
This practice of experimenting—either outside the body or on oneself—is gaining popularity, according to PBS NewsHour. One famous biohacker mentioned in the PBS piece is Dave Asprey, founder of Bulletproof and author of The Bulletproof Diet. According to his website, Asprey has spent over a million dollars hacking his biology, a process that spanned two decades and helped him lose weight and raise his IQ, among other things. But what exactly is biohacking, and should you do it? Here are four of the best biohacking tricks.
 
Sharpen Your Mind with Nootropics
One way to biohack your brain is by experimenting with nootropics, also known as “smart drugs.” The Washington Post reports that these cognitive enhancers are popular in Silicon Valley, where aspiring entrepreneurs will do whatever it takes to get a leg up on their competition. (Bestselling author and influential podcast host Tim Ferriss is reportedly a big fan.) Here are a couple of my favorite natural nootropics.
 
L-theanine
You may recall this one from my list of top supplements for brain health, but I’m mentioning it again because it’s so great for improving focus without the jittery (and potentially serious) side effects of stimulants like Adderall. A compound found in black and green tea, L-theanine can bring about a state of relaxed alertness.
 
Bacopa
According to Dr. Andrew Weil, this herb (also known as Brahmi) has long been used in Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine, to enhance memory and learning. Modern research supports this use, making bacopa a popular nootropic herb. In one study, volunteers who took 300 mg of bacopa every day for 12 weeks showed improvement in visual information processing, learning rate, and memory consolidation compared to those who took a placebo.
 
Maximize Your Exercise
It may sound like something from the future, but the cold treatment known as cryotherapy is gaining popularity, particularly among athletes. According to the Guardian, people are incorporating cryotherapy into their training programs because of its purported ability to relieve inflammation, speed recovery, improve focus, and more. Sound a little extreme? You don’t have to freeze to get more out of your workouts. Even the simple act of wearing a weighted vest while you exercise is a way to biohack your fitness.
 
Focus on Fat
Bulletproof’s Asprey and other prominent biohackers typically follow high-fat, low-carb eating plans like the ketogenic (keto) diet. Healthline explains that cutting carbs can put you into ketosis, a state that causes your body to burn fat for energy. The keto diet may also boost your brain power and lower your blood sugar, among other benefits. Other biohackers recommend intermittent fasting or the fasting mimicking diet developed by Dr. Victor Longo (www.prolonfmd.com). I feel so strongly about this hack in terms of helping with weight loss, detoxification (it helps with a process called autophagy – basically getting rid of crap you don’t need that just gunks up your system), and anti-aging, that I sell it at a discounted price to patients. Email info@tack180.com for yours.
 
Tweak Your Bedtime Routine
You can biohack your body until the cows come home, but you won’t be able to function optimally without adequate rest. Adjusting your bedtime habits can make a big difference in the quantity and quality of sleep you get every night, which can, in turn, help you get the most out of your days. Here are some tips from the National Sleep Foundation:

• Don’t take naps longer than 30 minutes during the day

• Avoid caffeine and other stimulants too close to bedtime

• Get plenty of exposure to natural light to help regulate your sleep-wake cycle

• Establish a relaxing evening routine

 
Interested in more specific biohacking? Check out our Tack180 program for help creating your own research-backed biohacking strategy.

 

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About Myles Spar, MD

Myles Spar, MD, MPH is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Integrative Medicine. As a clinician, teacher and researcher on faculty of two major medical centers, he has led the charge for a more proactive, holistic and personalized approach to care that focuses on cutting edge technology and preventative care. Dr. Spar has traveled with the NBA, presented a TEDx Talk, appeared on Dr. Oz, and been featured in publications such as the Men’s Journal and the Los Angeles Times.

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The Best Heart Healthy Snacks on the Go

The Best Heart Healthy Snacks on the Go

Written by Myles Spar

Posted on: November 28, 2018

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Best Heart Healthy Snacks, apple on tree

Eating well is an excellent way to boost overall health, and it can be especially beneficial for your heart—a concept I discuss in detail here. I’ve listed some of my favorite foods for heart attack and stroke prevention, and I recently wrote about the reverse heart disease diet. But knowing you should eat a certain way to keep your heart healthy and actually doing it are very different things, especially when you’re too busy to even think about eating a balanced meal. So you push yourself until you’re starving, then end up eating a bunch of junk that happens to be available or hitting the drive-thru on the way home. The best way to combat this behavior (and the guilt that follows) is to keep your desk drawer or bag stocked with good choices. Here are some of the best heart-healthy snacks for when you’re on the go.
 

Apples

Not only does an apple a day keep the doctor away, it might also lower your risk of heart disease. A 2016 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that participants who ate the most fruit had a 40 percent lower risk of cardiovascular death, along with lower blood pressure and blood sugar. While this study looked at all different types of fruit, I like apples because they’re versatile—they’re good on their own but even better with some nut butter for added protein.
 

Nuts

Delicious, filling, and portable, nuts make a great on-the-go snack. And they’re packed with heart-healthy nutrients. According to the Mayo Clinic, most nuts contain nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, and some contain plant sterols that may help lower cholesterol. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that, while many types of nuts are good for the heart, walnuts are particularly beneficial. Participants who ate walnuts two to three times every week experienced a 19 percent decrease in cardiovascular risk, and a 21 percent decrease in coronary heart disease risk. I keep the mini-bags of nuts from Trader Joe’s handy all the time. They fill me up for a good 2 hours.
 

Frozen Grapes

The American Heart Association recommends these as a heart-healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth. Grapes make a surprisingly tasty frozen treat, and freezing them also helps keep them fresh and cold throughout a long, busy day.
 

Popcorn

This one makes a great alternative to chips for those moments when you’re craving something salty and crunchy. EatingWell explains that popcorn is an excellent source of polyphenols – antioxidants shown to improve heart health. If you’re not air-popping your own at home and taking it to go, look for brands that are seasoned with olive oil to boost the cardiovascular benefit.
 

Wasabi Peas

If you’re hungry for a spicy snack, wasabi peas are a tasty choice that can also help out your heart. They’re a good source of fiber, adequate amounts of which can help lower your risk of heart disease. LIVESTRONG reports that a single ounce of wasabi peas provides you with about 11 percent of your recommended daily fiber allowance. Just don’t overdo it, since wasabi peas are also relatively high in saturated fat and sodium.
 

Canned Tuna

Looking to boost your protein intake while also protecting your heart? Consider tossing a can (or easy-open pouch) of tuna into your bag. Tuna is a good source of EPA and DHA, omega-3 fatty acids that may lower your chance of developing cardiovascular disease (among other health benefits). Make sure you choose tuna packed in water, which has three times more EPA and DHA than tuna packed in oil according to Berkeley Wellness. Just don’t eat it more than once a week to keep your mercury level low.
 

Dark Chocolate

Just because you’re eating well doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself. Dr. Oz says flavonoids in cocoa may improve heart health by lowering blood pressure, thinning the blood, and keeping blood vessels flexible. He recommends eating chocolate that’s at least 70% dark to reap these benefits. 1 oz is a decent amount – about 1/3 of a bar – and has only around 170 calories.
 
Interested in a more personalized approach to eating well for heart health? Contact Tack180 to set up a free consultation. Our expert team can design a diet and supplement plan tailored to meet your specific nutritional needs, keeping your heart (and the rest of you) strong and healthy.

 

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About Myles Spar, MD

Myles Spar, MD, MPH is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Integrative Medicine. As a clinician, teacher and researcher on faculty of two major medical centers, he has led the charge for a more proactive, holistic and personalized approach to care that focuses on cutting edge technology and preventative care. Dr. Spar has traveled with the NBA, presented a TEDx Talk, appeared on Dr. Oz, and been featured in publications such as the Men’s Journal and the Los Angeles Times.</e

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A Modern Approach to Aging Gracefully With These 4 Steps

A Modern Approach to Aging Gracefully With These 4 Steps

Written by Myles Spar

Posted on: November 14, 2018

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aging gracefully, older man smiling

We all want to believe that we get better with age, but growing older can often make a guy feel more like a broken-down beater than a classic car. Luckily, it is possible to handle the process with strength and integrity. Try a modern approach to aging gracefully with these four steps.
 
1. Keep Moving
You lose 5-7 pounds of muscle mass every 10 years starting in your 30s, and this number only goes up after 50, according to Men’s Fitness. Your metabolism also slows down, making it harder to keep your weight in check, and your aerobic capacity decreases. Want to stay toned and trim but don’t have a ton of time for exercise? Consider high-intensity interval training (HIIT). A recent study found this type of vigorous exercise may stop or even reverse the decline in the cellular health of your muscles that accompanies aging. Just make sure to give yourself enough time to stretch. I probably don’t need to tell you that we lose flexibility as we age, but even a few minutes of light stretching every morning can make a difference.
 

2. Eat Well
Do you find yourself struggling to hit the gym as hard as you used to? Are you having a tough time keeping up with the younger guys at work? The solution to these problems may be as simple as adjusting your diet. As I explain here, the right foods can make a huge difference when it comes to preventing heart disease and other illnesses that tend to become more of a concern as you get older. Not sure what constitutes eating well? Research suggests eating whole foods (with an emphasis on plants) is one of the best ways to improve your health—and possibly extend your lifespan. Forks Over Knives reports that, according to a soon-to-be-released Harvard study, approximately one-third of early deaths—almost 200,000 per year—could be avoided if people switched to a plant-based diet. And many experts believe that intermittent fasting, which I discuss here, can lead to increased longevity, among other benefits.
 

3. Take Care of Your Skin
Your skin is one of the first things people notice about you, and the way it looks plays a big role in how people perceive your age (not to mention your overall attractiveness). While you’re smart to be skeptical about products claiming to make you look twenty again, there are many options out there that have been scientifically proven to smooth wrinkles, reduce sun damage, and more. For example, topical use of hyaluronic acid may “plump” skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles by retaining moisture. I discuss some of my other favorite anti-aging skincare ingredients for men here.
 

4. Socialize
It’s probably a given that loneliness takes a toll on your mental health, but did you know it can actually affect your genes—and maybe even shorten your life? Research suggests being lonely can have a negative impact on telomeres, the segments of DNA at the end of our chromosomes that shorten each time a cell divides and may indicate how long we’ll live. Longer telomeres are associated with slower aging, fewer age-related diseases, and generally greater life spans. In a study of African grey parrots in captivity, those who were housed alone had shorter telomeres compared to those who lived with a companion bird. This finding supports a growing body of evidence showing that social isolation and other stressors can be detrimental to our telomeres. Loneliness can also increase your risk of depression, cognitive decline, heart disease, and other serious conditions in ways similar to obesity and smoking. Schedule a dinner with a buddy you haven’t seen in a while or take your spouse out for a night on the town. You could also consider volunteering in your community, which gives you a chance to help others while you interact with them.
 
Interested in learning more about aging gracefully? You can see my tips on how to live younger longer here and a list of my favorite anti-aging supplements for men here. You can also download my Ideal Anti-Aging Week Worksheet, a guide to achieving peak performance through supplements. Because it’s never too late to be the best version of yourself.
 

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About Myles Spar, MD

Myles Spar, MD, MPH is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Integrative Medicine. As a clinician, teacher and researcher on faculty of two major medical centers, he has led the charge for a more proactive, holistic and personalized approach to care that focuses on cutting edge technology and preventative care. Dr. Spar has traveled with the NBA, presented a TEDx Talk, appeared on Dr. Oz, and been featured in publications such as the Men’s Journal and the Los Angeles Times.

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Movember Men’s Health Month

Movember Men’s Health Month

Written by Myles Spar

Posted on: November 7, 2018

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Movember Men's Health Month, guy with beard and mustach

November. For many it signals the start of the holiday season, but it’s also the month that men all over the world will grow a moustache. Why? An annual event known as Movember (Mo=moustache + November) encourages guys to grow moustaches as a way of raising awareness about men’s health issues. The effort is coordinated by the Movember Foundation, which began in 2003 and has since gained over five million supporters. According to this foundation, men experience worse longer-term health than women and die on average six years earlier. This is why they hope to reduce the number of men dying prematurely by 25 percent. The Movember Foundation focuses on the following:
 

Prostate cancer and testicular cancer

Knowing that prostate cancer rates will double in the next 15 years and testicular cancer rates have already doubled in the last 50, the Movember Foundation works to give men the tools they need before, during and after cancer treatment. Rather than focusing solely on finding a cure, they’re committed to improving quality of life.
 

Suicide prevention and mental health

Did you know that three out of every four suicides are men? And, as I discuss here, the World Health Organization reports that more than 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression, which can become a serious and debilitating health problem. The Movember Foundation thinks it’s time to have an honest conversation about mental health, and they’re creating new approaches designed to work for men.
 

How does growing a moustache during the month of November help solve these problems? The idea behind Movember is that your moustache acts as a sort of awareness ribbon, drawing attention to men’s health. The Movember Foundation believes that growing a moustache “can inspire donations, conversations, and real change.” They suggest making it fun by offering to dye your “Mo” a crazy color and letting the highest donor pick the color, or by enlisting your friends and family so you can compare results (and compete for donations). You could get all the guys at work in on the Movember action by starting one big team for your company or organizing into multiple teams for a little friendly competition.
 
Before you start growing a ‘stache, you may (understandably) want to know where the money you raise is going. Here are just a few of the many projects currently being funded by the Movember Foundation in the United States. Click here to see the full list.
 

Making Connections
Currently in its third year, the Making Connections initiative focuses on specific communities across the US where project sites are implementing actionable, community-level prevention plans to improve mental health and wellbeing. Making Connections emphasizes improving outcomes within high-need populations, including boys and men of color, military members, veterans, and their families.

 

GAP4
The GAP4 Project will determine if intense exercise and psychosocial support increase overall survival compared to psychosocial support alone in patients with metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer. It’s governed by an advisory committee of highly regarded experts in the field.

 

Men’s Cancer Navigation Services
This project provides free, comprehensive, one-on-one support to men affected by testicular or prostate cancer.

 

If you like the idea of bringing attention to men’s health issues but can’t grow a moustache, you can participate in Movember by moving your body. In setting a goal for the month of November—running or walking 200 miles, swimming or rowing 50 miles, or anything that challenges you—and raising funds along the way, you’ll be doing good for your body and for the cause. You can do this as part of a team, so if you already have a group of people you exercise with regularly, consider roping them in for Movember.
 
As an integrative physician, I’ve worked hard to shine a spotlight on the importance of men’s health. It’s why I’ve written so extensively about issues like heart health and mental performance. It’s also why I support the Movember Foundation, and I encourage you to do the same. For more information on how to best handle your own personal health challenges, contact Tack180 for a free consultation. We give you critical information as well as a personalized plan that you can follow for life. We’ll even help you stick to that plan with the support of a professional implementation team that will assist you in overcoming common hurdles to behavior change and hold you accountable in the long run.

 

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About Myles Spar, MD

Myles Spar, MD, MPH is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Integrative Medicine. As a clinician, teacher and researcher on faculty of two major medical centers, he has led the charge for a more proactive, holistic and personalized approach to care that focuses on cutting edge technology and preventative care. Dr. Spar has traveled with the NBA, presented a TEDx Talk, appeared on Dr. Oz, and been featured in publications such as the Men’s Journal and the Los Angeles Times.

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Are GMO Foods Really Harmful? How to Shop for Non GMO Foods

Are GMO Foods Really Harmful? How to Shop for Non GMO Foods

Written by Myles Spar

Posted on: October 31, 2018

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Shop for Non GMO Foods, Woman shopping

I’ve written pretty extensively about common foods that could be carcinogenic—you can see my posts here, here, and here for details. One thing I haven’t really touched on, though, are genetically modified organisms (GMOs). But what exactly are GMOs, and are GMO foods really harmful? Let’s take a look.
 

What are GMOs?

The World Health Organization (WHO) says GMOs are “organisms (i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms) in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination.” The process of creating GMOs is often called genetic engineering, and it involves transferring individual genes from one organism to another or between species that are not related. The WHO further explains that GM foods are those produced using or from GMOs. Why genetically modify food? Primarily to create crops that can withstand herbicide and pests, although some companies are experimenting with instilling arguably more frivolous traits like resistance to browning in apples. Per HuffPost, here are some of the most common GM foods:

• Corn
• Soy
• Alfalfa
• Canola
• Sugar Beets

In fact, the vast majority of corn and soy in the U.S. is GMO.
 

What effect do they have?

Whether genetic modification improves food is debatable. According to the Non-GMO Project, “there is no evidence that any of the GMOs currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.” But GMO producers like Monsanto claim that the use of GMO seeds can help conserve resources and fight disease, among other benefits.
 
Because so many genetically modified crops have been designed to tolerate herbicide, the use of Roundup (manufactured by Monsanto) and other herbicides has increased fifteen-fold, according to the Non-GMO Project. Many experts have voiced concerns about the safety of these herbicides. The active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, was classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” in 2015 by the World Health Organization. Earlier this year, a jury ordered Monsanto to pay a plaintiff who claimed his cancer was caused by Roundup $289 million in damages, according to Business Insider. Harvard University has put together an excellent resource detailing the public’s concerns about GMOs in general and the ways science has addressed these concerns, which you can read here. One main concern I have is is that glyphosate has been shown to cause a major disturbance in the normal gut bacteria we all need for good health, so eating GMO foods contaminated with glyphosate affects the gut in ways that can contribute to inflammatory and other conditions.
 
There are many ways in which GMOs could be affecting the environment as well. For example, Fortune reports that glyphosate has been found to be harmful to honeybees and may be responsible for colony collapse disorder and other afflictions.
 

How can you avoid GMOs?

Given the concern about the negative impact GMOs may have on our health and the environment, how can they be avoided? My advice on how to shop for non-GMO foods is similar to what I recommend here for avoiding carcinogenic foods at the grocery store. Remember that companies in the United States aren’t required to disclose GMO content, but many manufacturers will proudly label their products as GMO-free. Aside from reading labels, your best bet is to avoid mass-produced and processed foods. At the grocery store, this means shopping primarily in the outer aisles, particularly the produce section. Better yet, skip the store and head to your local farmer’s market to buy fresh food straight from the farmer—check out this National Farmer’s Market Directory to find one near you. Here are some other ideas about how to shop for non-GMO foods courtesy of Whole Foods Market:

• Check the source on meat, eggs, and dairy to ensure they’re not from animals given GMO feed
• Choose frozen fruits and vegetables, which are typically non-GMO
• Buy organic produce, since the USDA National Organic Standards prohibit GMOs
• Seek out dry beans, grains, nuts, and seeds

 
At Tack180, we understand how difficult it can be to navigate the complicated world of diet and nutrition, especially when you’re busy. That’s why our program includes the ongoing professional support of a nutritionist. With a data-driven plan based around your own physiology, we’ll give you the tools you need to live your life with purpose and the knowledge that you’re doing all you can for optimal health.

 

Tack180 Individual Tests Tack180 Full Program

 

About Myles Spar, MD

Myles Spar, MD, MPH is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Integrative Medicine. As a clinician, teacher and researcher on faculty of two major medical centers, he has led the charge for a more proactive, holistic and personalized approach to care that focuses on cutting edge technology and preventative care. Dr. Spar has traveled with the NBA, presented a TEDx Talk, appeared on Dr. Oz, and been featured in publications such as the Men’s Journal and the Los Angeles Times.

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6 Important Facts to Know Before Starting a Food Elimination Diet

6 Important Facts to Know Before Starting a Food Elimination Diet

Written by Myles Spar

Posted on: October 24, 2018

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Food Elimination Diet, Guy choosing foods

Do you sometimes feel off after eating but can’t pin down the cause? Have you wondered if you have food allergies or intolerances but aren’t sure how to find out what they are? We can do food sensitivity testing at Tack180 – a simple blood test that checks to see if your body sees 100+ different foods as foreign, creating antibodies in response to perfectly normal foods. This can be a very easy and useful way to identify foods that are creating reactions in your body causing gastrointestinal symptoms, migraines, eczema, or even joint pains.
 
If you’re up for a challenge, you may also want to consider a food elimination diet. What exactly does that mean? According to FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education), an elimination diet involves avoiding foods you suspect may be giving you trouble to see if your symptoms improve after you go for a certain period of time (usually two to four weeks) without eating these foods. Then the foods are gradually added back in to test your body’s response. Seems pretty straightforward, right? It is—as long as you’re adequately prepared. Here are six important facts to know before starting a food elimination diet.
 

1. You might want to consult an expert

Unlike your average diet plan, an actual elimination diet should be done with the guidance of a healthcare professional. It may be difficult for you to make connections between food triggers and symptoms on your own, and a doctor or nutritionist can perform the tests required to definitively diagnose allergies and/or sensitivities. That said, many people complete programs like Whole30, which cuts out added sugar, grains, dairy, legumes, and alcohol for weight loss or other health reasons and discover they feel much better when they avoid eating certain foods.
 

2. You’ll need to go grocery shopping

As mindbodygreen suggests, it’s a good idea to stock up on all the foods you can eat so you’re not starving and/or tempted to “cheat” on your elimination diet. Get plenty of fresh fruit and veggies, and try to avoid heavily processed foods that probably contain potential allergens.
 

3. You could feel worse before you feel better

You’d think that cutting an offending food from your diet would bring immediate relief, but that’s not usually the case. According to the UW Integrative Medicine Department of Family Medicine, many people notice their symptoms get worse during the first week—and especially the first few days—of an elimination diet. Even though you may be tempted to bail, keep your eyes on the prize and remember that the discomfort is temporary and will be worth it in the end.
 

4. You may be able to avoid medication

Popping a pill every time you get indigestion may bring short-term relief, but it doesn’t help you figure out what’s causing the problem. As Dave Rakel, MD, founder and director of the University of Wisconsin Integrative Medicine Program, told Self, “Elimination diets are a really useful tool to get to the root of what might be stimulating dysfunction in the body.” He added that, compared to medication, this type of diet is less likely to do long-term damage. Changing the way you eat can help prevent disease (as I write about here), but it may also help treat conditions you didn’t even know were related to diet—no pill required.
 

5. Reintroduction can be difficult

UW Medicine explains that people who find relief when they stop eating a triggering food often experience unpleasant symptoms like digestive distress and headaches when they start eating that food again. Plan accordingly and give yourself time to reintroduce foods slowly.
 

6. You’ll learn a lot

Even if you don’t discover a food allergy, paying such close attention to what you eat (and how you feel afterward) is bound to be illuminating. You might discover, for example, that the afternoon coffee you “need” actually makes you feel anxious rather than alert. Or maybe you’ll find that a food you loved when you were younger just doesn’t do it for you anymore. You might even discover a secret love of vegetables (here’s to hoping)!
 
Interested in doing food sensitivity testing or trying an elimination diet but don’t know where to start? Tack180 can help. We’re firm believers in the power of lifestyle changes to positively influence health, and our team of experts will work with you to develop a nutrition plan specifically tailored to your needs. If you’ve been feeling off and believe what you’re eating could be to blame, set up a consultation. A few simple tweaks might be all that’s standing between you and your strongest self.

 

Tack180 Individual Tests Tack180 Full Program

 

About Myles Spar, MD

Myles Spar, MD, MPH is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Integrative Medicine. As a clinician, teacher and researcher on faculty of two major medical centers, he has led the charge for a more proactive, holistic and personalized approach to care that focuses on cutting edge technology and preventative care. Dr. Spar has traveled with the NBA, presented a TEDx Talk, appeared on Dr. Oz, and been featured in publications such as the Men’s Journal and the Los Angeles Times.

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How Eating Late at Night Could Be More Harmful Than You Know

How Eating Late at Night Could Be More Harmful Than You Know

Written by Myles Spar

Posted on: October 16, 2018

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Eating Late at Night, Woman eating and watching TV

I have been more and more convinced about the health benefits of intermittent fasting – limiting your eating to an 8-hour (or so) window within each 24 hour day. But even if that seems too difficult, at least try to limit late-night snacking.
 
Let’s be real—the phrase “Netflix and chill” should really be changed to “Netflix and snack” to accurately describe the way many of us spend our evenings. As reported by The Atlantic, a 2013 study published in the journal Obesity found that people’s cravings for junk food tend to increase dramatically in the evening, which is also when they reported being most hungry regardless of how much or when they’d eaten throughout the day.
 
Whether you’re inhaling chips while binge-watching your favorite show or waking up to raid the fridge for a classic midnight snack, eating late at night could be more harmful than you know. Here are some of the health problems associated with nighttime noshing.
 

Heart Disease

A 2017 study conducted at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City found that going against the daytime eating habits dictated by our biological clocks can raise triglyceride levels, which in turn can contribute to the development of heart problems. Also in 2017, the American Heart Association released a scientific statement saying that allocating more calories earlier in the day may reduce cardiovascular disease risk.
 

Diabetes

Eating late at night can increase your risk of developing diabetes, according to a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania. Researchers found that delayed eating may cause elevated glucose and insulin levels, both of which have been associated with type 2 diabetes.
 

Weight Gain

That same University of Pennsylvania study also found that late-night eating negatively affects weight and metabolism. Other research suggests that your body is more likely to store calories as fat when they’re consumed at irregular times (like the middle of the night). And U.S. News & World Report cites two studies supporting the idea that late-night eating can lead to weight gain: one from 2007 showing that people who eat most of their food at night have higher body mass indexes (BMIs) compared to daytime eaters, and one that found participants who ate between 11 pm and 5 am gained more weight and consumed 12 percent more calories than those who didn’t eat during those hours.
 

Heartburn

If you’ve ever eaten a big dinner right before bed and woken up with indigestion, you’re not alone. In an editorial for the New York Times, reflux specialist Jamie Koufman explains that many of the patients who come to him complaining of chronic heartburn are in the habit of eating meals and snacks at night, a lifestyle choice that can lead to acid reflux disease.
 

Memory Loss

If you’ve ever woken up fuzzy-headed after a nighttime snack binge, you’ll likely be unsurprised that science suggests a link between eating at odd hours and impaired cognition. A study conducted at the University of California found that mice who were fed during the day instead of at night (when they usually eat, since they’re nocturnal) for two weeks were less likely to recognize new objects and less able to create long-term memories compared to mice who were allowed to eat normally.
 

Strange Dreams

When researchers Tore Nielsen and Russell A. Powell surveyed nearly 400 college students about their eating, sleeping, and dreaming experiences, they found that 18 percent believed food had the potential to make their dreams “more bizarre or disturbing.” In addition to spicy meals and dairy products, eating late at night was one of the things that potentially altered their dreams, according to the students. The researchers concluded that the digestive distress that sometimes accompanies late-night snacking can also disrupt sleep.
 

It can be difficult to make time for dinner at all, much less worry about whether you’re eating too late. If you’re concerned about how your dietary habits may be affecting your health, contact Tack180 for a free consultation. Together we can figure out what needs to change, and our team of specialists will work with you every step of the way to make sure you implement those changes successfully. Little lifestyle tweaks can yield big results!
 

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About Myles Spar, MD

Myles Spar, MD, MPH is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Integrative Medicine. As a clinician, teacher and researcher on faculty of two major medical centers, he has led the charge for a more proactive, holistic and personalized approach to care that focuses on cutting edge technology and preventative care. Dr. Spar has traveled with the NBA, presented a TEDx Talk, appeared on Dr. Oz, and been featured in publications such as the Men’s Journal and the Los Angeles Times.</e

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