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Whole Grains Health

John Madden’s big belly a symptom of his health issues



Dr. Gabe Mirkin

John Madden was 32 years old when the Oakland Raiders hired him as the youngest ever head coach in the National Football League. He went on to never have a losing season, with a superb 103-32-7 record in his 10 seasons with the team. They made it into the playoffs eight times and won Super Bowl XI on January 9, 1977. His win share of 0.759 is still the highest for an NFL coach with at least 100 wins. In 2006, at the age of 70, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. After he retired from coaching in 1979, he became even better known as a career broadcaster and won 16 Emmy Awards on all four major channels.

No cause has been given for his sudden death at the age of 85 on December 28, 2021, but his pictures show significant abdominal obesity, suggesting diabetes and heart problems. Abdominal obesity usually means that a person has too much fat in their liver, which leads to insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart attacks.

Early life and career in football
Madden was an attacking lineman in high school and won a football scholarship from the University of Oregon. While at the University of Oregon, he defeated world record holder John Landy in a 40-yard run, but never played a football game there because of a knee injury that required surgery. He moved to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, where he was an offensive tackle for all conferences and was also a catcher on their baseball team. He was the NFL’s 244th overall draft pick for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1958, but shortly after joining the team he injured his other knee and never played professional football. However, quarterback Norm Van Brocklin liked him and spent time teaching him the science of soccer while they watched soccer movies together.
In 1960, at the age of 24, he was hired as an assistant coach at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, where he became head coach of the country in 1962. At the incredibly young age of 31, he was hired as a linebacker trainer for the AFL’s Oakland Raiders and made it to the Super Bowl that year. The next year, Raiders head coach John Rauch resigned to take on the same position at the Buffalo Bills, and John Madden became the youngest AFL football coach ever at the age of 32. Over the next seven years, the Oakland Raiders reached five AFC championship games. On January 9, 1977, Madden’s Raiders won the Super Bowl, becoming the best professional soccer team in the country. On January 4, 1979, he retired from coaching because of a stomach ulcer and pressure to be a professional coach.

In 1979, at the age of 43, Madden started as a CBS color commentator, and two years later he and Pat Summerall began eight years of reporting on Super Bowls together. In 1994 Madden and Summerall joined Fox Sports for seven years. Madden’s contract was bigger than any active NFL player. In 2002, at the age of 66, he joined Al Michaels in ABC’s Monday Night Football. Madden made $ 5 million a year. He joined NBC in 2006 and became the first sports host to work for all of the Big Four US television networks.

Why he was such a popular sports presenter
Madden knew more about soccer than any other broadcaster and used a “telestrator” to draw the pieces while explaining what had just happened. He also created a whole new language for each piece. Examples are “Boom!”, “Whap!”, “Bang!”, “Doink!” And “Bam!”. He selected players to form “The All-Madden Team,” which competed with the All-Pro team picks. In addition to working on radio, television and film, he also supported and helped develop the hugely popular Madden NFL video game series. In 2009 he retired from broadcasting at the age of 73.
Fear, lifelong medical problems, and death
In 1960, when Madden was 24, the team manager and 16 team members on his California Polytechnic State University football team died in a plane crash. Nineteen years later, in 1979, Madden suffered a serious panic attack on a flight from Tampa and he decided never to travel on an airplane again. At first he traveled between cities on trains, but in 1987 he ruled out a deal with Greyhound Lines to provide him with a bespoke bus and driver in exchange for promotional and speaking events. His refusal to fly resulted in his failure to comment on the Honolulu Pro Bowl or any of the preseason’s games outside of North America.

In 1978, at the age of 42, he retired from coaching the Oakland Raiders at a time when he was considered one of the finest coaches in professional football. He’s had stomach ulcers, panic attacks, multiple joint problems, and joint surgeries. In 2015, at the age of 79, he had bypass surgery for clogged arteries leading to his heart and had multiple hospitalizations for medical problems of the heart, hips, knees, and esophagus. He died at his Pleasanton, California home on December 28, 2021, aged 85.

Anyone with a big belly should be screened for diabetes
I never saw John Madden’s medical record, but he had a very large stomach, which is often a sign of fatty liver disease that causes diabetes that leads to heart disease. Because his grandson has type I (juvenile) diabetes, Madden has been an active spokesperson and fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for many years. Madden is likely to have the far more common type II diabetes, although I haven’t been able to find any record of it. More than seventy percent of North American adults become diabetic or prediabetic, diseases that can be reversed with lifestyle changes. Insulin resistance (non-response to insulin) causes the majority of all cases of type II diabetes and prediabetes, and insulin resistance is caused by excess fat in the liver (J Clin Invest, May 19, 2020).

Definition of insulin resistance
Insulin drives sugar, fat and protein into the cells. Insulin resistance means that the cells do not respond to insulin, so sugar builds up in the bloodstream. All blood sugar rises after you eat it, but when blood sugar rises too high, sugar irreversibly sticks to cells and can destroy any type of cell in your body. To keep blood sugar from rising too high, your pancreas releases insulin into your bloodstream, which lowers blood sugar by moving sugar from the bloodstream to your liver. However, if the liver is full of fat, it will not accept the sugar and the blood sugar level will rise even higher. Insulin resistance can be reversed by draining fat from the liver and muscles.

Process from fatty liver to diabetes
• Your blood sugar level rises after you eat
• Your pancreas responds to increases in blood sugar by producing insulin
• Insulin lowers blood sugar by driving sugar from your bloodstream to your liver and muscles
• Your liver and muscles can only store a limited amount of sugar
• Any extra sugars that cannot be stored are converted into fatty triglycerides
• Extra triglycerides damage your blood vessels so that insulin carries triglycerides from your bloodstream to your liver, fat cells and muscles
• Your fat cells fill up with fat and you get fatter
• Your liver cells fill up with fat and you develop fatty liver
• Fat in your liver prevents your liver from accepting sugar from your bloodstream so that you no longer respond to insulin and become insulin-insensitive (Gastroenterology, 2008; 134 (5): 1369-1375)
• The more fat you have in your liver, the greater your insulin resistance (Gastroenterology, 2008; 135 (1): 122-130)
• The higher your insulin level, the more fat you store in your liver (Hepatology, 2014; 59 (6): 2178–2187), since insulin resistance leads to even more fat being deposited in your liver (J Clin Invest , 2020; 130.). (3): 1453-1460)
• Insulin resistance causes you to deposit fat in your belly, so that you end up with the shape of an apple with a large belly and small buttocks (J Clin Invest, 1986; 78 (6): 1648–1657)
• Since sugar cannot get into a fatty liver, your blood sugar will continue to rise until you are diabetic. It is liver fat and not muscle fat that leads to diabetes (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2009; 106 (36): 15430–15435)
• Being fat without having excess fat in the liver does not cause diabetes (Obesity, 2010; 18 (8): 1510–1515)
• A high rise in blood sugar causes sugar to adhere to the outer membranes of cells, damaging and destroying them
• Insulin resistance and the resulting high blood sugar levels can damage every cell in the body and cause inflammation that causes heart attacks and cancer (Diabetes, 1992; 41 (3): 368–377)
• When a person loses weight, the liver fat is reduced and the person can respond better to insulin (Cell Metab, 2016; 23 (4): 591–601)

My recommendations
Almost everyone with a big belly and small buttocks stores fat in their liver and is already diabetic or prediabetes. To prevent fat from getting into your liver, you need to prevent your blood sugar levels from rising too high after meals. You can do this by:
• Exercise before or after eating. Contracting muscles remove sugar from your bloodstream without the need for insulin.
• Base your diet on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds.
• Severely restrict foods with added sugar and all sugared beverages, including fruit juices, mammalian meat, processed meats, and fried foods. If you’re overweight, also limit sources of refined carbohydrates like baked goods, white rice, ground corn, noodles, and most dry breakfast cereals. See Diabetes is often overlooked

Dr. Gabe Mirkin is a villager. Learn more at

Whole Grains Health

Protein Variety and Heart Health Are Linked, Study Finds



We’ve all found ourselves in the habit of eating the same three things over and over (…and over) again. When life gets busy, falling back on simple dishes that satisfy your tastebuds is the natural thing to do. But if you’re cooking up the same couple proteins on the regular, a new study published in the the journal Hypertension suggests that it may be time to introduce a few new varieties into your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

The study pulled existing data from over 12,000 participants who took part in a minimum of two rounds of the China Health and Nutrition Survey. Researchers sought to explore the relationship between hypertension—or high blood pressure—and the variety and quantity of proteins from eight major dietary sources consumed by participants. (Study participants were an average age of 41 years old.)

Researchers measured protein intake by looking at three consecutive days of eating, scoring each round based on the number of protein varieties consumed (including legumes, fish, eggs, whole grains, refined grains, processed and unprocessed red meat, and poultry).

The results? “Among ‘just the right amount’ consumers of protein, those eating the greatest variety of protein had a the lowest blood pressure,” explains John Higgins, MD, a sports cardiologist with McGovern Medical School at the UT Health Science Center at Houston. Notably, those who ate the least and the most amount of protein were at the greatest risk for developing high blood pressure, while those who ate the greatest variety of protein were 66 percent less likely to end up developing hypertension between the rounds of the survey .

“The heart health message is that consuming a balanced diet with proteins from various different sources, rather than focusing on a single source of dietary protein, may help to prevent the development of high blood pressure.” — Xianhui Qin, MD, study author

Although the survey results sound complicated—and, hey, they were—the takeaway is simple: “The heart health message is that consuming a balanced diet with proteins from various different sources, rather than focusing on a single source of dietary protein, may help to prevent the development of high blood pressure,” Xianhui Qin, MD, the study author, said in a press release. In other words: Mix it up! Spin the protein wheel of fortune and try something new.

Related Stories

If you’re not quite sure where to start with upping your protein game, Dr. Higgins recommends looking at your consumption on a daily basis. “The American Heart Association recommends eating no more than about 5.5 ounces of protein daily, about one to two servings, from healthy sources such as plants, seafood, low-fat or fat-free dairy products and some lean meats and poultry,” he says. “The best proteins are lean proteins including beans, soy or tofu, fish, skinless chicken, very lean meat, and low-fat dairy products. Avoid proteins that say ‘hydrogenated’ on label or contain high levels of trans fats or saturated fats. “

Of course, there’s always room in your eating plan for less nutritional proteins, too—just try to incorporate these lean sources when you can, and ask your doctor if you have questions about what dietary habits are right for your particular health status and family history .

A delicious way to eat more varied proteins? This delicious quiche recipe:

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Whole Grains Health

The 10 Best Diet Books in 2022



Staff, Courtesy of Shalane Flanagan & Elyse Kopecky

The word “diet” has earned itself an undeniably negative reputation, often leading people to think of unsustainable restriction and unhealthy fads. However, if you’re looking to adjust your way of eating, whether you want to feel better, lose weight, or hit a new personal record, there are tons of great diet books out there that can help educate you on ways to improve your nutrition and get you feeling better than ever.

While the diets of the past have focused on restriction, newer ways of eating encouragement consuming more good-for-you foods to crowd out less healthy choices, leaving you feeling satisfied, not deprived. These diet books are also super educational, teaching you why you should eat certain foods, what they can do for your health, and the best ways to make them delicious. To help you on your nutrition journey, we’ve gathered the best diet books and healthy cookbooks available today.

Best Diet Books

    How to Choose a Diet Book

    If you’re looking to switch up your diet, the first thing you should ask yourself is why. What exactly do you want out of a diet?

    Second, consider your lifestyle. Do you need meals that are quick and easy? Do you like to take an hour or two to cook for yourself every night? How often can you grocery shop for fresh ingredients?

    Finally, consider whether you’re looking specifically for a cookbook or one that will provide you education on a particular way of eating without necessarily giving you recipes. While many cookbooks will have some content that discusses the origins of food and their nutritional benefits, these books are unlikely to go as in-depth regarding nutrition as less recipe-focused ones.

    How We Selected

    To find the best diet books among the many options on the market, we researched the most popular books available and considered their content, credibility, design, digestibility, and organization. We then looked at both expert reviews and more than 105,000 customer ratings, written by people who’ve bought these books on Amazon, to settle on the diet books you’ll find below.

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    Best vegetarian

    How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    This is a great all-around cookbook, but it’s an especially great buy if you’re trying to lay off meat. This book contains everything from specific meal recipes to instructions for steaming veggies, truly teaching you how to cook from start to finish. There are recipes for every meal, as well as snacks and desserts, and it includes instructions for so many different dishes you could easily cook from only this book for an entire year and not get bored.


    Best for Longevity

    The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100

    This cookbook highlights recipes from specific areas across the globe—called blue zones—where people live the longest. While some of their longevity surely comes from other lifestyle factors, there’s no discounting the role diet plays in their long-lasting health and wellbeing. These recipes not only focus on ingredients, but the ways in which foods are prepared and how that relates to their overall nutritional value.

    The goal of the book is to increase longevity and quality of life while creating delicious recipes that you’ll want to eat time and time again.


    Best Mediterranean

    The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook

    The Mediterranean diet is consistently ranked as one of the healthiest diets in the world. It’s full of lean proteins, healthy fats, and tons of vegetables, providing a well-rounded, nutritious way of eating.

    This cookbook not only has 500 great Mediterranean recipes, but it also helps you learn which ingredients you should make staples in your grocery list. It also uses only ingredients that you can easily find at standard grocery stores, which makes the Mediterranean diet more accessible.


    Best for Runners

    run fast eat slow

    You’ve probably heard the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen”—and to some degree, the same holds true for personal records. While nutritious food won’t necessarily knock 30 seconds off your mile time, it can help you fuel your workouts so you get the most out of your training.

    This book was designed by Olympian Shalane Flanagan and is packed with recipes designed to help runners fuel their toughest workouts and recover after. As a bonus, the recipes included in this book just so happen to be delicious, too.


    Best Vegan

    The Complete Plant-Based Cookbook

    When first going vegan, it can be difficult to figure out how to make food that is both delicious and nutritious. This book has 500 recipes ranging from meals to snacks to desserts that use entirely plant-based ingredients. These recipes also offer alternate ingredient options, like eggs and dairy, which is great if you want to add more plant-based recipes into your diet, but aren’t ready to dive headfirst into veganism.


    Best for a full reset

    The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    If you’ve been diet-hopping in hopes of finding a meal plan that can help you commit to a healthier lifestyle and enjoy some weight loss, Whole 30 is a great choice. It has you cut out sugar, grains, dairy, legumes, and some other specific foods for 30 days. The idea behind the diet is that it helps jumpstart weight loss while simultaneously getting you to reassess how you think about what you are eating to reach a place of freedom with your food.


    Best for weight loss

    The Obesity Code – Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss

    If weight loss is your goal, and you have struggled to find lasting success, this book could be a game-changer. It dives into the science of weight loss, helping you understand hormones, insulin resistance, and other reasons for weight gain. The book recommends intermittent fasting and a low-carb diet, and guides you on how to do them correctly, efficiently, and in the long term.


    Best for Learning about Food

    How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease

    A lot of eating plans focus on what you should eliminate from your diet, but this book places more importance on what you should be adding to your diet and why.

    It discusses foods that are scientifically proven to help you live a longer, healthier life, and the many ways in which food can help prevent disease. It focuses on whole body health—including both mental and physical health—and teaches you to focus on more than just weight and physical appearance when it comes to your food.


    Best for Anti-Dieters

    Not a Diet Book: Take Control. Gain Confidence. ChangeYourLife.

    The rise of anti-diet culture gave inspiration to this book, which helps you improve your relationship with food, tackle weight loss, and debunk fad diets to find a simple and easy way to lose weight and create habits that will keep the pounds from coming back. This book will help you build skills that enable you to live a happier, healthier life without focusing too closely on calories or numbers on a scale.


    Best for fasting

    Complete Guide to Fasting

    Fasting has gained popularity over the last decade and can be a great way to boost your metabolism, clear your mind, and promote weight loss. There are, however, rules you should follow while fasting so that you improve your health rather than endangering it. This book will guide you through intermittent, alternate-day, and extended fasting to ensure you choose the style that will work best for you and do it correctly.

    Before joining Runner’s World as an Editor in 2019, Gabrielle Hondorp spent 6 years in running retail (she has tested top gear from shoes, to watches, to rain jackets which has expanded her expertise—and her closets); she specializes in health and wellness, and is an expert on running gear from head-to-toe.

    This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at

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Whole Grains Health

Eating different kinds of protein protects against hypertension: New study



Despite all this talk that more Australians are toying with vegetarianism, and despite the endless drum-beating about red meat giving you cancer and a dodgy heart, we continue to have one of the world’s highest levels of meat consumption.

Analysis published in December found Australians eat about 95 kilograms of meat per capita every year. The global average is 35 kilograms.

The article, ‘The Evolution of Urban Australian Meat-Eating Practices’, argues our meat-eating habits are driven by a blocky culture, an association with social status, a perception that plant-based diets are inadequate and lame, and ignorance about cooking legumes and tofu.

On the other hand, the authors point to a survey that found almost 20 per cent of those sampled “identified as meat-reducers”.

Furthermore, the authors say, 87 percent “of the meat reducer segment reported consuming a meat-free dish as their main meal at least once a week”.

They point to another survey that found almost 20 per cent described themselves as “flexitarian”, which is cool.

But it may not translate to more lentils, nuts, whole grains, fish and dairy hitting the dinner table as new favorite sources of protein.

A new study found why we need variety

Chinese researchers found that “eating protein from a greater variety of sources is associated with a lower risk of developing high blood pressure”.

Good to know because blood pressure is literally out of control in Australia.

One in three adults – more than six million Australians – has high blood pressure.

Of those afflicted, only 32 per cent have their hypertension under control. That leaves about four million Australians as ticking time bombs.

In December, in the Medical Journal of Australia, Professor Alta Schutte, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at UNSW Sydney, called for a national taskforce to tackle the issue.

By improving the control of hypertension, the risks of coronary heart disease, dementia and cerebrovascular disease will be substantially reduced.

The Chinese study suggests changing your diet will go some way to solving the problem.

the study

“Nutrition may be an easily accessible and effective measure to fight against hypertension. Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is one of the three basic macronutrients,” said study author Dr Xianhui Qin, of the National Clinical Research Center for Kidney Disease at Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China.

The study authors analyzed health information for nearly 12,200 adults (average age 41), who had taken part in multiple rounds of the China Health and Nutrition Survey from 1997 to 2015.

Over three days in the same week, participants shared what they had eaten.

They were given a protein “variety score” based on the different sources of protein they’d eaten: whole grains, refined grains, processed red meat, unprocessed red meat, poultry, fish, egg and legumes.

One point was given for each source of protein, with a maximum variety score of 8. The researchers then evaluated the association for new onset hypertension in relation to the protein variety score.

New-onset hypertension was defined as blood pressure greater than or equal to 140 mm Hg/90 mm Hg, the use of blood pressure-lowering medicine, or self-reporting that a physician had diagnosed high blood pressure.

The average follow-up time was six years.

The results

More than 35 per cent of the participants developed new-onset high hypertension during the follow-up.

Compared to participants with the lowest variety score for protein intake (1), those with the highest variety score (4 or higher) had a 66 per cent lower risk of developing high blood pressure.

The amount of protein eaten was also a factor. Consumption was divided into five categories, from least to most intake.

The researchers found that “people who ate the least amount of total protein and those who ate most protein had the highest risk for new onset of hypertension”.

The researchers didn’t ask why a variety of proteins was more healthy. But nutritionists, doctors and health writers have banged on about it for years.

Lean red meat is high in quality protein but provides no fiber or healthy fats. Processed meats are high in saturated fats and salt and are the worst.

Fish is high in long-chain fatty acids, which are good for the brain. Lentils and whole grains are high in fibre.

Hand on heart, a bit of each during the week might stop you from carking it in the street. Which is just undignified and unmanly.

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