Interesting read on Sunscreen….

Summer is upon us (at least here in sunny Florida) and I am pretty sure we all love that beautiful sunshine!  Here is an interesting article we read today about sunscreen, written by Dr. Phil Maffetone. If you have not heard of him, check out his site if you care to – he has some interesting information about health and related stuff!  I have pasted his exact article below if you want to read it here, or you can click on the title to be directed to the actual website.  Sunscreen is a big topic lately – with continued growth. I have noticed that as the years go on, the SPF or UVA or whatever else gets higher, I saw “95”  in the store the other day or maybe higher, I feel like 45 used to be the high then it moved to 60, then 80…  Not only is the SPF/UVA protection increasing but so is the price – good golly! I don’t feel like I have strong opinions about sunscreen but honestly, I don’t really like it and I know I don’t really want to buy and it slather it all over myself.  I can never put it on even because I don’t want to take the time to do it when the beautiful beach is calling or that hike ahead, it is a pain to even put on… how am I supposed to cover all my body in that goo and no I don’t want to breathe it either out of a spray can….it is itchy, smelly, it washes off when you swim, gets in my eyes and they get red, watery, itchy and irritated… and that is just the start!  If I use it I like to use something like the “15” and then on top of that the non oily, hypoallergenic stuff – goodness, high maintenance sunscreen girl!  But back on track, he does make some interesting points that I feel are worth considering and looking into further. As a dietitian I know the importance of Vitamin D and getting it in the form of a pill is not ideal.  Many times people don’t eat a proper diet and then it is compounded with staying indoors most of the day and when sun exposure is upon them they slather or lather up with sunscreen…  I have seen and heard about this with moms who don’t let their kids outside or even let them look out the window without sunscreen… I know that is a very extreme statement, but honestly,  I heard of someone putting sunscreen on their kid when they played by the window inside at home….

Here is the article finally!

Sunscreen: Natural vs. Artificial

By Dr. Phil Maffetone

The use of sunscreen dates back at least to the ancient Greeks who used olive oil on their skin
(which is still used today by many people). Christopher Columbus observed
natives in the New World painting their skin to protect it from the sun. In the
1930s, after getting sunburned, chemist Franz Greiter was inspired to develop
one of the first commercial sunscreens. By 1962, Greiter created the “sun
protection factor”—SPF—a rating of a sunscreen’s ability to block the sun, which
would become a worldwide standard in skin care and sunscreen

Studies of the relationship between cancer and the sun, and the
importance of vitamin D, first occurred in 1941, in relation to death rates from
breast and colon cancer. But by the post-World War II era, the sunscreen
industry was about to explode, and talk about the good aspects of the sun and
the importance of vitamin D to prevent cancer, would be almost lost.

Many people have used sunscreen with the notion that it will prevent cancer. And
while many studies have attempted to show a relationship between reduced cancer
rates and the use of sunscreen, it’s not clear that’s always the case. On the
contrary, the use of sunscreen may increase your risk of cancer in three ways.
First, using sunscreen gives many people the false sense that it’s perfectly
okay to stay in the sun for longer periods of time. Sunscreen won’t block all
the sun’s rays, it’s often used incorrectly, and, despite what the label says,
washes off easily with water and sweat. As a result, increased exposure
increases your risk of sun damage raising cancer risks.

According to a 2011 published study of 292 national sunscreen brands and 1,700 products by the
nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG), based in Washington, D.C., it found
that over fifty percent of the sunscreens on the market do not provide adequate
UVA protection. Many of them actually contained potentially harmful ingredients.

Second, there may be a relationship between the chemicals used in
sunscreen and cancer development. Early formulations of sunscreens contained
PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) to absorb sunlight, but these sunscreens quietly
disappeared from the market when it was learned that this substance causes DNA
damage (which can trigger cancer). Subsequent products were found to promote
free radicals, which also can contribute to cancer. The latest sunscreens
contain elements such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide to scatter or reflect
sunlight, but unfortunately these chemicals can also form free radicals on the
skin; titanium dioxide has been linked to DNA damage as well.

The most popular chemical used in the majority of sunscreens since the early 1980s is
oxybenzone (also called benzophenone-3). Absorption of this chemical occurs
quickly through the skin, and its accumulation in the liver, heart, muscle,
adrenal and intestine has caused significant health concerns that range from
allergy to hormone disturbances, and breast cancer risk.

The EWG also urged sun-loving consumers to avoid retinyl palmitate, a form of synthetic
vitamin A that is used in 30 percent of the sunscreens that were analyzed. In
studies, this ingredient has shown higher rates of skin tumors.

Third, the proper use of sunscreen can reduce vitamin D production in the skin, and as
discussed in my other articles, reduced levels of vitamin D can increase the
risk of most cancers.

In June 2011, the FDA released their long awaited
new rules about sunscreen products—it’s taken 33 years. Reynold Tan, a scientist
in FDA’s Division of Nonprescription Regulation Development, says the FDA has
been developing, testing and labeling requirements for sunscreen products for
decades. It will still be one to two years before new labeling rules are
implemented, so manufacturers can use their old inventories and create new

Under the new rules, sunscreens labeled “broad spectrum” must
protect equally against UVA and UVB rays, and display the SPF on the front
label. Those with a SPF of 15 or higher can state that they help prevent sunburn
and reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. The FDA is still
considering whether to allow SPF numbers above 50 since they don’t offer
additional protection. Higher SPF ingredients are the most irritating to the
skin, and are more easily absorbed into the body.

Products with SPF values under 15 will now require a warning that reads, “Skin Cancer/Skin Aging
Alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early
skin aging. This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin
cancer or early skin aging.”

Manufacturers will no longer be able to claim that sunscreens are “waterproof” or “sweatproof, and will require to state
on the label how much time a user can expect to get the declared SPF level of
protection while swimming or sweating, based on standard testing. Two times will
be permitted based on the manufacturer’s tests: 40 minutes or 80 minutes.

In addition, manufacturers won’t be allowed to identify their products
as “sunblocks.” Also, sunscreens won’t be able to claim protection immediately
on application—so-called “instant protection”—or claim protection for more than
two hours without reapplication.

Some of these changes are healthy, and prevent companies from making false or exaggerated claims like they’ve been
doing for many years. But it won’t prevent people from midday summer sunbathing,
grabbing as much “holiday” sun, or feeling a false sense of protection just
because they slopped on some sunscreen.

The real sun protection for the skin comes from our diet—groups of natural compounds such as antioxidants,
carotenoids, flavonoids, and other phytonutrients, and essential fatty acids, to
name some. It’s how human skin has been protected for millions of years.

My recommendation about sunscreen, like all other products used on your
body, is this: Don’t put anything on your skin you’re not willing to eat (since
it usually absorbs quickly into the body).

For most people with light and medium skin, reducing the risks of sunburn will significantly lower the risk of
sun-related cancers. This can easily be accomplished by slowly developing and
maintaining a good tan, avoiding midday sun, especially in the summer months,
and wearing protective clothing as needed, including a hat. In addition,
maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D is key.

Dr. Gangemi again, this time on barefoot running…

Another easy day for me, although it is never “hard” to post, but just more fun!  I found this article also written by Dr. Gangemi on barefoot running…. check it out and see what you think, here is the link to the article or see it below!

This Is Zero-Drop: Running Barefoot

Readers and patients know that I only wear socks on my feet while in the office treating patients, hence my alter-ego the Sock Doc. I have yet to ditch the socks in the office setting as I don’t feel they’ll look great with dress pants and a white lab coat. I advise every patient to go barefoot as much as possible since the feet are loaded with nerve endings that sense contact with the ground. Those nerve endings communicate with the brain and affect one’s entire nervous system. Your nervous system runs your entire body, therefore going barefoot can not only improve lower leg function and balance, but your entire health. I never wear shoes at home and I rarely wear them in the yard, (I typically wear sandals), unless it’s cold outside.

This past weekend and with warm weather here in the Chapel Hill area of North Carolina, I decided to shed my last line of defense and leave the running shoes at home. Typically I run in Nike Free 3.0, sometimes my Vibrams FiveFingers. I’ve run in minimalist-type shoes for many years now and I’ve run several times at the beach barefoot, but the most on the road was a one-time stint of just a few minutes. You can’t get any more minimalist than being barefoot; it is truly zero-drop, the heel and ball of the foot are on the same level.

So off I go and I’m feeling pretty good. The soles of my feet were tender, especially on parts of the pavement that weren’t entirely smooth. I had to “dance” around areas at the ends of some roads where gravel tends to accumulate; out here on country roads there tends to be lots of them. But I kept running. Originally I was planning on running maybe 10-15 minutes. But I felt good so I kept going. My heart rate was very aerobic, in the 130-140 range, but there was one thing that really struck me by surprise and excited me – my running cadence.

I think it’s important to check cadence. It’s something I’ve done in the past on the bike and more recently while running. It’s a valuable number to be aware of and easy to check – just count how many times one foot, (either your right or left), hits the ground in one minute. An efficient cyclist will have a cadence rpm above 90, some closer to 100. Inefficient cyclists tend to be in the low 80s or upper 70s, and instead of spinning, they are working too hard, and usually aneorobically.  Running cadence is very similar. Kenyans are running at a cadence of 94 to 98 even in the later stages of the marathon. Other elite runners are running in the 90-94 range. Slower, inefficient runners tend to be in the range of 76-86 and even less when they’re not racing. Elite runners tend to keep their cadence about the same even when running slowly.

Biomechanically, there are only two things you can do to run faster. You can run with a faster cadence or you can run with a longer stride. If you lengthen your stride, you lose efficiency because it produces more vertical oscillation. In other words, you bounce too much. But running with a higher cadence means the foot spends less time in contact with the ground and that means running faster.If you land on your heel it will take a few more milliseconds for the foot to be lowered to the pavement and then roll forward and finally push off the ground at the toes.  Ground time of his type of foot strike will add up over the miles than if you landed with a more flat or midsole strike. Plus, a heavy heel strike produces more impact and that stress adds up too and will cause fatigue sooner than if you stayed off the heel.

So back to my running cadence – even in my Nike Free 3.0 I ran at a 91-92 cadence. That means my right, or left, foot was striking the ground 91-92 times every minute. Not too bad. But going barefoot – for the first time on pavement – my cadence was at 98-99, and I checked it three separate times throughout the run. Wow. I wasn’t even running very hard, yet my feet were hitting the ground a total of 15 times more every minute. That’s amazing. Even adding a few steps per minute is tough to do and typically takes a lot of training. So I kept running barefoot.  I ran 10K in 50 minutes with an average HR at a nice aerobic 136. I was smooth, fast, and efficient.

One other thing I noticed was that other than some slight tenderness on the bottom of my feet, (which was gone by the next day), running barefoot was better for me than running in my FiveFingers. My current thinking on this is that in the Vibrams, my feet are fooled into thinking  they’re barefoot, but they’re really not, and that tricks my nervous system and makes my feet less responsive to the terrain. Small pebbles and rocks actually hurt more in the Vibrams. Going barefoot, my feet can self regulate as I run. I don’t feel that way nearly as much in the Vibrams. Plus, the Vibrams didn’t give me that Kenyan cadence.

One thing I do now know: I will spend more time running barefoot as part of training. Will I ditch my shoes for good?  Highly unlikely.

Dr. Gangemi and the topic of barefoot kids

I guess I am taking the easy way out with my blog today because I found an article to paste in here in lieu of my rambling on and on.  Greg and I had a conversation the other day about shoes and babies who are learning to walk as well as kids etc.  and it left me thinking a little bit.  I have heard that it is good for kids to have the “stability” of shoes and the “support” and all of that, but it still seems odd to me because I can see that it would only help them develop more strength and stability using their own feet…being barefoot/in socks or whatever. but I am no expert on any of this, just developed an interest in it because of how important our feet are.

This is an article by a man named Dr. Gangemi.  I have read some of his previous articles and he is kind of radical on some things, but I like quite a big of what he has to say on some topics… I have just read a little while Greg has read more. I like to read different opinions and find out what I like for myself.  He is a fan of barefoot running and “minimalist footwear” as you will probably pick up on in the article or read any of his others…

Here is his article and it can be found here if you want to look further at other stuff.  I also found one on adults I will save for tomorrow or the next time I post.

Healthy, Active, Barefoot Kids

Kids these days! I sound like my grandparents saying that, but the difference is while they were perhaps referring to some punk kid tailgating them on their way home from their weekly Bingo game, I’m referring to the kids walking around in pumped-up-kicks whose health and fitness levels fall very short of achieving any Presidential Fitness Award.

Raising healthy kids starts with the feet, and that means the bare feet. It’s what our parents and grandparents did as kids. It’s what Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer did too, and they had some pretty cool adventures. Now kids would rather stay indoors, texting and friending on Facebook instead of playing with friends outside. With little exercise to speak of, and processed junk food the norm in many households and school cafeterias, it’s no wonder that most countries have a runaway problem with childhood obesity – approximately one-third of American kids are either overweight or obese.Raising a healthy and fit kid isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s well worth your time, and I’m going to suggest you proceed from the ground up.

Kids, from their elementary school days up through high school, appear to be much less active and less healthy than their parents when they were at that age. Fast food often occupies school lunches, unless they’re eating something processed either from home or the vending machine. Physical education classes have slowly been eliminated, and those that remain are either focused on health and sexual education or the gym class has adopted less intense exercise routines, such as the parachute and childhood interaction – skills that do benefit all kids – but ultimately they are not running, jumping, climbing, and playing like they could be. They often get home from school exhausted as many have been gone for 8-12 hours, much like they’re already in a full-time job. They once again eat a nutritionally poor after-school snack and then veg-out in front of the TV or computer. More kids are becoming overweight and obese and they live much of their childhood lives indoors, many never experiencing daily, or even weekly, outdoor activities.

The health of the child starts long before they’re born, and even before conception as much of the health of that child is dependent on the mom’s health. Her diet, lifestyle, hormonal influence, and emotional well-being will all affect how healthy her baby is. Once the baby is born, his or her health is still dependant on the mom for some time, as hopefully breast milk is the only thing on the menu. Eventually, right around a year, give or take, that child is going to start walking, and essentially their developing fitness becomes a part of life.

As soon as that infant starts to cruise and eventually walk the feet become perhaps the most important non-organ part of the body. What the parent does now can help or hinder their child’s development. Will they put their child in shoes like so many pediatricians recommend? Or will they keep their child barefoot or in sock-like shoes? Unfortunately parents are told shoes give the toddler support “because they need it.” Hopefully the parents have educated themselves and know that their child’s feet are already made perfectly and going barefoot as much as possible, (or in moccasin-like shoes if protection is needed outside), is the best way to not only help their child’s structural development, but also their neurological development.

Each foot is home to approximately 7,000 nerve endings and the information they receive and pass on to the rest of the body is anything less than extraordinary. When that child’s foot feels the ground, the thousands of touch receptors in the nerve endings feed back to the rest of the entire nervous system. As the nervous system runs the entire body, any foot impairment, dysfunction, imbalance, or improper footwear can not only hinder them directly, (such as lower leg function and balance), but their entire health.

As a child grows their foot gradually replaces the cartilage with bone. Improper footwear worn by kids during this stage means that the bones do not develop correctly and a lifetime of foot problems can result. As kids gain weight and eventually enter puberty their risk of foot ailments seems to drastically increase and improper shoes are perhaps part of the blame. Unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity most likely play a part too.

Many are beginning to realize that minimalist shoes are important for healthy and fit kids.However, the medical establishment tends to be conservative on the issue and raise doubts with parents who may question whether this minimalist thing is just a recent, perhaps even harmful, fad. David Davidson, D.P.M., president of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine (AAPSM), stated, “Kids should not be running in ‘minimalist footwear’ at all and, as in other shoes, should be wearing brand name running shoes with good motion control, cushioning, etc.” However, there is no research to back up this position. Is it possible that overbuilt shoes contradict the medical mandate to “first, do no harm?”

Once your child is walking and standing correctly, (remember parents, you don’t have to work to get a toddler or young child to move – it comes natural), either because they are barefoot or in a very minimalist type shoe, it’s time to get them back into activity if they aren’t already involved. Outside activities are best, if that’s possible, so the child can interact with nature and develop with all the sensory and motor information received. If you want to encourage your child to be more active, make it fun. My kids like obstacle courses, running and climbing games, and turning yard work into a game. Check out my 2-year old Paxton carrying a rock across the yard in his Vivo Barefoot shoes. He’s barefoot most of the time, but these new shoes are just so cool he wants to wear them all the time.

Your barefoot-exercising kid now is ready for their final step towards health and fitness perfection with a change from their processed, sugary diet to one rich in whole foods, clean water, and items that don’t come in a box, can, or bag. Start weaning your child off juice and soda and onto just water and perhaps some organic whole milk. Hopefully your infant or toddler never became accustomed to juice or soda but if they did, it’s not too late to make healthier choices. Get your child eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and high protein foods (eggs & meats) throughout the day and limit or eliminate white flours and sugars.

The Three Keys To A Healthy, Active, Barefoot Child:

  1. Encourage kids to go barefoot whenever possible whether they are inside or outside – as long as the terrain is safe. If the terrain warrants shoes, have your child wear minimalist shoes during those times. No need for “running shoes.” Running shoes are often miniature versions of over-supported, built-up adult shoes that are terrible for developing feet. The shoes should have a low heel height, low to the ground, very little cushioning, flexible throughout the shoe, plenty of room in the toe box (where a child’s foot is widest), and very light.
  2. Your active child should participate in a wide variety of physical activities and games that build strength, endurance, and overall fitness.
  3. Educate your child on eating healthy foods as early in their life as possible. Lead by example – healthy food choices should be a family affair.

It is pretty interesting to me…  what did you think? I have to agree with him on a lot of what he said, but again I am no expert.  I do not have kids, but I know that when I do, I want the best!  I have seen a lot of shoes on kids that are super cute, I mean those tiny little shoes are so irresistible, but even more cute are their baby toes!  I am just not sure that infants need to wear shoes when they cannot even walk and that even when they are learning to, shoes would not be necessary!  I just realized that I said I was going to take the easy way out with this post and not add too much to what is already super long!  I will stop there, but have a fantastic day everyone!