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Jeff Hartvigsen
Works at Crain's Chicago Business
Attended Idaho State University
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Jeff Hartvigsen

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Too Alkaline, Too Acidic Not Good

Bonnie and Steve: A study in this month's The Journal of Nutrition investigated the association of dietary acid load with the risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.

While the researchers were familiar with the incidence of chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, bone-mineral disorders, to name a few, they were shocked to see that not only was excess acidity associated with higher mortality, but excess alkalinity was as well. Of course, the most balanced acid to alkaline dietary ratio (60:40) showed the lowest mortality.

We have said forever that while being too acidic is more common, many people go to the other extreme. Your body needs acid, most importantly to fight off bacteria and viruses in the gut. We have seen too many clients self-prescribe an alkaline diet, and are dumbfounded when they start getting H. Pylori, C. Diff, and respiratory and sinus infections.

The key is to stick as close to a 60 percent acid to 40 percent alkaline diet.

Jeff Hartvigsen

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Artificial Sweetners

A new study in Cell Metabolism sheds light on the effects of artificial sweeteners on the brain in regulating appetite and in altering taste perceptions.

Researchers have identified a new system in the brain that senses and integrates the sweetness and energy content of food.

After chronic exposure to a diet that contained the artificial sweetener sucralose (Splenda), researchers saw that animals began eating a lot more.

They found that inside the brain's reward centers, sweet sensation is integrated with energy content. When sweetness versus energy is out of balance for a period of time, the brain recalibrates and increases total calories consumed.

When they investigated why animals were eating more even though they had enough calories, they found that chronic consumption of sucralose actually increases the sweet intensity of real nutritive sugar, and this then increases the animal's overall motivation to eat more food.

This is the first study to identify how artificial sweeteners can stimulate appetite. The pathway is part of a conserved starvation response that actually makes nutritious food taste better when you are starving. This effect is similar to to what happens when you eat monosodium glutamate (MSG). The food tastes saltier than it really is.

In essence, artificial sweeteners, like MSG, trick the brain.

Adding insult to injury, the researchers also found that artificial sweeteners promoted hyperactivity, insomnia and decreased sleep quality, behaviors consistent with a mild starvation or fasting state.

"These findings further reinforce the idea that 'sugar-free' varieties of processed food and drink may not be as inert as we anticipated," the lead researcher said.

I think that is an understatement!

Jeff Hartvigsen

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Don't Scratch A Mosquito Bite!

"Don't Itch a Mosquito Bite" Is No Myth
Steve: Remember when your parents told you not to itch a mosquito bite? They had no idea how right they were!

There's a reason why mosquito bite sites are itchy, irritating nuisances. By touching the area, viral infections can spread much easier.

The new study from Immunity found that inflammation where the insect has bitten not only helps a virus such as Zika or dengue establish an infection in the body more quickly, but it also helps it to spread around the body, increasing the likelihood of severe illness.

When a mosquito bites, it injects saliva into the skin. The saliva triggers an immune response in which white blood cells called neutrophils and myeloid cells rush to the site. But instead of helping, some of these cells get infected and inadvertently replicate the virus.

In the absence of inflammation and agitation through itching the area, the viruses failed to replicate well.

Our "go to" for mosquito bites to limit itching and inflammation is peppermint essential oil. As soon as you realize there is a mosquito bite, take a Q-tip and dab a little of the essential oil on the bite. In almost every case, relief is realized almost immediately! We also like B&T Sting Stop.

Jeff Hartvigsen

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Well Connect Feature: Carbs & Cancer, Antibiotics, MSG, Vegans, Saturated Fat...

Carbs and Cancer
Steve: The role of carbohydrates in our diets and the differences between healthy and unhealthy carbs, most often in the context of weight control have been magnified in the last decade, finally!

A new study presented at the American Society for Nutrition Scientific Sessions and Annual Meeting is one more reason to avoid sugary beverages, processed foods and other energy-dense carbohydrate-containing foods: lowering intake may help reduce your risk of cancer.

Regular consumption of sugary beverages was associated with a three times greater risk of prostate cancer and higher intake of processed lunch foods such as pizza, burgers and meat sandwiches doubled prostate cancer risk. By contrast, healthy carbohydrate-containing foods like legumes, non-starchy vegetables, fruits and whole grains were collectively associated with a 67 percent lower risk for breast cancer.

What is reaffirming is the type of carbohydrates you consume impacts your cancer risk. Healthy carbohydrate sources, such as fruit, vegetables, and legumes tend to protect us from cancer.

What's extra special about this study is that researchers tracked the eating habits of over 3,000 volunteers since the early 1970s.

Eating foods with a higher glycemic load was associated with an 88 percent higher prostate cancer risk. The risk increase was most pronounced for people who regularly consumed processed lunch foods or sugary beverages, a category that includes sugar-sweetened soft drinks in addition to fruit juices.

Among individual foods, legumes such as beans, lentils and peas were associated with 32 percent lower risk of all overweight- and obesity-related cancers, including breast, prostate and colorectal cancers.

The findings are in line with previous studies, which have shown that malignant cancer cells seem to feed on sugar, and that diets high in refined carbohydrates may lead to a range of adverse health effects primarily due to their impacts on body fatness and on the dysregulation of insulin and glucose, both of which are factors that may increase cancer risk.

MSG Toxic to White Blood Cells
Bonnie and Steve: One food additive we have always denounced since it became ubiquitous in food is MSG, or monosodium glutamate.

While many public health experts have supported MSG, as has some research, we have held steadfast in our belief because we have seen the cause and effect in our clientele. A new study from the May issue of Food and Chemical Toxicology backs us up.

The aim was to evaluate the genotoxic potential of MSG. Five different genotoxicity tests were performed in human white blood cells, called lymphocytes. As most of you know, white blood cells are crucial for our immune system.

The results showed that MSG has genotoxic effects on human lymphocytes in vitro.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is one of the most widely used flavor enhancers throughout the world. Six concentrations (250, 500, 1000, 2000, 4000 and 8000 mg) of MSG were used.

The results indicated that MSG significantly and dose dependently increased the frequencies of chromosome aberrations, causing major DNA damage at all MSG concentrations after one hour of exposure.

The results demonstrate that MSG is genotoxic to the human white blood cells. If you want a properly working immune system, then you should try to avoid MSG whenever possible.


How Antibiotics Promote C. Difficile
Bonnie: New research from mSphere finds that bile acids which are altered by bacteria normally living in the large intestine inhibit the growth of Clostridium difficile, or C. diff.

C. diff is a harmful bacterium that can cause painful and sometimes fatal infections. The work sheds light on the ways in which some commonly used antibiotics can promote C. diff infections by killing off the bile acid-altering microbes.

To colonize the gut, C. diff. spores need to germinate and become growing bacteria that produce toxins and damage the large intestine. Primary bile acids are made in the liver and travel through the intestinal tract. In the large intestine, bacteria convert these to secondary bile acids, of which found many have an inhibitory effect on C. diff growth.

This is why it is crucial to take not only sacchromyces boulardii when on an antibiotic, but a probiotic with acidophilus and bifidus. This will help control the growth of C. diff in the large intestine. The other method is to avoid antibiotics unless it is a last resort.

mythbusterVegetarians and Vegans Do Not Have Lower Cancer Risk?
Bonnie: Participants in a study from the March issue of British Journal of Nutrition found that those who followed a vegetarian dietary pattern did not experience a lower risk of breast cancer as compared with non-vegetarians.

In another study, scientists have found that a vegetarian diet has led to a mutation that - if they stray from a balanced omega-6 to omega-3 diet - may make people more susceptible to inflammation, and by association, increased risk of heart disease and colon cancer.

The discovery, in journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, shows that with little animal food in the diet, the long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) must be made metabolically from plant PUFA precursors. The physiological demand for arachidonic acid, as well as omega-3 EPA and DHA, in vegetarians is crucial. With a genetic mutation that reduces the ability to transfer plant fats to usable omega-3 fats changes in the dietary omega-6 to omega-3 balance, therefore contributing to the increase in chronic disease.

Bonnie - This is one of the numerous reasons I have never touted a vegetarian or vegan diet. The vegans I have encountered as new clients are usually the sickest. Most vegetarians eat too many high glycemic grain carbs and sugar because they haven't filled up on protein and healthy fats. Thus, I am not surprised by the results. If the study had been based upon a traditional Mediterranean Diet... choosing fish, eggs, and low fat goat/sheep cheeses with lots of fruits, vegetables, and olive oil...their results would have been wonderful!

Bonnie's Bite
Clarifying How Saturated Fat Can Be Bad
I have told you many times that not all saturated fats are bad. Saturated fats are an essential part of our diet. However, it is what, when, and how we consume saturated fat that deems whether it affects us positively or negatively.
For example, trans fats are not just bad, they are horrible. Luckily, they have been removed from much of the food supply, but still exist in certain processed foods.

Another example is too much saturated fat from conventional animal protein. The fat structure is much more unhealthy than that of animals who are fed their normal diets.

Finally, new research from journal EBioMedicine suggests that it also may be in the timing of saturated fat consumption. While more research needs to be done, this first-of-its-kind study is fascinating.

Circadian clocks, which exist in cells throughout the body, regulate the local timing of important cellular processes necessary for normal functioning and help keep inflammatory responses in check. When you disrupt that timing, there are consequences, and this is a contributing factor in many human health disorders, especially metabolic disease. Consumption of saturated fats at certain times may "jet lag" internal clocks, resulting in inflammation.

The study found that one type of saturated fat in particular, called palmitate, is the big culprit in compromising the accuracy of our body clocks. Also called palmitic acid, it is one of the most commonly consumed long chain saturated fats in the Western diet. The most common places to find it is in conventional meat, dairy, and foods that contain palm oil.

Guess what disrupted the palmitic-acid inflammatory response? The omega-3 fatty acid DHA!

Jeff Hartvigsen

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Benefits of Organics, Sunscreen, Dog and Kindness...

Organic Meat, Milk Blow Away Conventional

Bonnie and Steve: In the largest study of its kind, an international team of experts has shown that both organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, certain essential minerals, and antioxidants than conventionally produced products.

The findings, published last week in the British Journal of Nutrition, suggest a switch to organic meat and milk would go some way towards increasing our intake of nutritionally important fatty acids.

A switch from conventional to organic would raise omega-3 fat intake without increasing calories and excess saturated fat. Other positive changes in fat profiles included lower levels of myristic and palmitic acid in organic meat and a lower omega-3/omega-6 ratio in organic milk. Higher levels of fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin E and carotenoids and 40% more CLA in organic milk were also observed.

The study showed that the more desirable fat profiles in organic milk were closely linked to outdoor grazing and low concentrate feeding in dairy diets, as prescribed by organic farming standards. This is better for the cows and the environment, because the cows emit less methane gas when they are fed their natural diets.

Further evidence of the health benefits of organic food

The study builds on a previous study, also published in the British Journal of Nutrition, showing that organic crops and crop-based foods are up to 60% higher in a number of key antioxidants than conventionally-grown crops and contained less of the toxic metal cadmium.

Aesthetically Speaking
Sunscreen That Doesn't Block Vitamin D?
Bonnie: For the first time researchers have developed a process for altering the ingredients in a sunscreen that does not impact its sun protection factor (SPF), but does allow the body to produce vitamin D. The findings, published in PLOS ONE, has led to the production of a new sunscreen called Solar D.

According to the researchers, there are several chemical compounds that are typically used in a sunscreen that efficiently absorbed varying wavelengths of UVB radiation. After removing certain ingredients the researchers compared Solar D, which has an SPF of 30, to a popular commercial sunscreen with the same SPF, and found Solar D allowed for up to 50 percent more production of vitamin D in-vitro.

Solar D is currently available in Australia and will be available in the U.S. summer 2016.

Wild Card
Dogs Can Affect Your Microbiome
Steve: It's probably not surprising to learn that bacteria from a dog's fur and paws is easily transferred to the skin of humans living in the same space. One person strokes the dog, leaving their bacteria behind, then the other picks it up when they also pet the pet.

Could it be possible that dogs might even act as a source of healthy bacteria? Could a dog in fact be a kind of probiotic? Actually, two intriguing studies do seem to point in this direction.

One study suggested that living with a dog in infancy may lower a child's risk of developing asthma and allergies, largely as a result of exposure to what they call "dog-associated house-dust".

A current study is exploring whether dogs can directly improve the health of older people by transferring good bacteria from the dogs to their new owners, along with other health-boosting benefits.

Dogs can have pretty complex oral microbiomes that are very different humans. Giving us more microbial diversity is not a bad thing.

mythbusterActs of Kindness Have Lasting Effects
Steve: Small favors can have a sizable influence on our behavior, inspiring us to spend energy to help others and lending credence to the idea that we have a drive to 'pay it forward,' according to the authors of a study in Frontiers In Psychology.

The study shows that gratitude has consequences. It is not only the recipient of the act or gift who gains; it is also the doer or giver. When you are courteous to another person, or when you offer gifts, you are doing something that is good for you. Interestingly, it can be rewarding for yourself, and it can reduce stress. It can actually be good for your health.

Researchers wanted to see how courtesy door-holding results in reciprocation ranging from a "thank you" to even larger acts of repayment. Door holders who made a high effort -- smiling and making eye contact with the strangers they were helping -- were told "thank you" more often than the door holders who behaved passively as they propped open the door with low effort, checking text messages on their cell phones.

Researchers also studied whether people will return the favor somehow. Door holders in this experiment were toting a file box that had 12 pens on top that spilled out sometime after opening the door. 64 percent helped door holders who made a high effort, versus 19 percent who made a low effort.

While people do not feel obligated to say "thank you" or help, even when they have received a favor, it still has an effect. But engaging anyone with an act of good manners, and with a smile and a thank you, is something this world can use more of!


Jeff Hartvigsen

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I'm Always Hungry Syndrome

Steve and Bonnie: There's a reason why we have always recommend that our clients eat balanced meals and snacks. The better we can suppress certain neurological signals that scream hunger, the better we can maintain balanced weight.

There has been very little research on those who have the "I'm always hungry" phenomenon. Researchers in a recent study in Nature found that specific hypothalamic neurons stimulate food-seeking behaviors to eliminate the negative feelings associated with energy deficit.

Here's the problem. Most of us are not functioning at an energy deficit. We have been hard-wired to consume larger portions than we need or eat macronutrients like sugar that trigger us to eat more. Thus, we cannot blame our neurons. Our neurons are still functioning as they were thousands of years ago when we were constantly in search for food. Unfortunately, the hunger signals are negative and create negative emotions.

The following strategies can be used to extend the amount of time it takes for these signals to activate. They are a crucial cog to achieving optimal healthspan.
Eat balanced, which means never eating a carbohydrate alone. Always accompany a carbohydrate with a protein and healthy fat. This will satiate you for a much longer period of time. Try to make the carbohydrates fibrous fruit and veggies whenever possible.

Consume mid-morning and/or mid-afternoon balanced snacks. If you choose to do this, eat a little less at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Keep the snacks balanced as well. Is an apple a healthy snack? Sure, as long as it is accompanied with a slice of turkey and/or dollop of sunflower butter. You get the idea.

Drink water in between meals. Any opportunity to expand your stomach keeps the hunger demons at bay. Hydration and flushing out junk cannot hurt either.

Consume fiber. Americans consume paltry amounts of fiber. Fiber satiates and creates bulk in the digestive system. The more bulk, the less area for your neurons to pick up hunger signals.

Use your mind to suppress the negative signals. Learn to recognize the hunger signals and channel them into positive signals. Use internal dialogue and tell yourself "be patient because it is not time to eat yet" and take a few deep breaths. It may seem corny, but it can be very helpful. You are simply being self-aware in addressing one of your body's strongest primal signals.

Jeff Hartvigsen

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Food Allergy, Intolerance Linked to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Steve: Two new studies suggest food allergy, food intolerance, and atopy (being hyperallergic) are underlying factors in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Presented late last year at American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting, allergic asthma, rhinitis, and eczema in IBS patients can go hand-in-hand with diarrhea and gastrointestinal reactions to food.

In fact, the lead author of the studies states, "The thinking is that if you can figure out their food allergies/intolerances, you can really improve their diarrhea and abdominal pain. And we see in our clinic that they do feel better".

In one study, patients with atopic symptoms were shown to be more likely to have IBS than patients without atopic symptoms.

In the second study, in patients with atopic IBS (average age of 37 years), 65% of whom reported GI symptoms after eating specific foods, underwent skin prick testing for a panel of food allergens, including peanut, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, egg, milk, cereals, meats, poultry, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

The skin prick test indicated sensitization to the suspected trigger food in 60% of the patients.

For those with a positive skin prick test, 17% also had responses to the trigger food suggestive of an IgE-mediated reaction, such as hives, angioedema, abrupt nausea and vomiting, and asthma.

These findings indicate that food allergen/intolerance screening has a significant role in the pathogenesis of atopic IBS.

Jeff Hartvigsen

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End of Year Thoughts from Vince Marin:

A few people have asked me about what is written on the water glass I use. A few years back, I and other senior leaders at another place spent a day with Ann Rhoades, the author of ‘Built on Values: Creating an Enviable Culture that Outperforms the Competition’ mapping out the values and the defining attributes of the culture we were trying to create. Our output from that day is what is displayed on my water glass, as a constant reminder for me that all of these are relevant anywhere and can very well be our own. Enjoy!

Pursuit of Excellence – We continually strive to exceed the expectation of our people and our clients
Collaboration – We work together to achieve collective and individual goals
Integrity – We do the right thing regardless of the consequences
Accountability – We take responsibility for individual and collective actions
Passion – Our energy and enthusiasm are contagious. We are inspired to make a lasting impact
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What's ATSC 3.0? Just the next generation of over-the-air TV. Even if you don't get your TV with an antenna, it's going to affect you.

Jeff Hartvigsen

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Unusual Tool to Maintain Exercise Routine

Steve: For anyone struggling to keep up with their exercise routine, a solution may be found in a simple cup of coffee.

In the journal Sports Medicine, researchers suggest that reducing perception of effort during exercise using caffeine could help the many people who find it difficult to stick to their fitness plans.

Together with lack of time, physical exertion is one of the main perceived barriers to exercise, which is natural as humans evolved to effectively conserve energy. This inherent 'laziness' means that sustaining exercise in the long term is very difficult even when people are still motivated to improve their health and fitness as when they started.

Perception of effort is one of the main reasons why most people choose sedentary activities for their leisure time. Compared to watching television (zero effort), even moderate-intensity physical activities like walking require considerable effort.

Caffeine energizes, which reduces the perception of the effort it takes to exercise, thus making the choice to follow through easier.

Many athletes consume caffeine in some form before sporting events. Why can't you? Consuming caffeine (black coffee ideal) 30 to 60 minutes before exercise is optimal.

Jeff Hartvigsen

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Our Take: Dietary Guidelines 2015

Steve and Bonnie: While we have never adhered to them, it is our responsibility as public health professionals to provide feedback on the recently published Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020. At any rate, you can tell your family and friends the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Half of all American adults have one or more preventable, diet-related chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and overweight/obesity. These can be prevented by improving dietary habits.
The guidelines are different from previous ones because people do not eat food groups and nutrients in isolation. They form a totality and should be tailored to an individual's personal preferences. This enables Americans to choose the eating style that is right for them.

The guidelines now acknowledge that all segments of our society have a role to play in supporting healthy choices (home, food manufacturers, proper labeling, restaurants, schools, etc.).

Desire for an individual's healthy eating pattern to be an adaptable framework, not a rigid prescription.

Personal, cultural, and traditional preferences must be honored and the plan must fit within their budget.

Focus on a variety of foods.
Healthy eating plan includes a variety of vegetables and fruit.

Mention fortified soy beverages as a milk replacement.

Mentions eating a variety of protein.
Physical Activity Guidelines are included.

Still focusing on calories.

Limit calories from saturated fats. Should say no calories from trans fat.

Reduce sodium is a health issue. Yes, but once again, there is no mention of the dearth of potassium.

Grains should come from at least half whole grains. Ugh.

Consume fat-free or lowfat dairy. Yikes.

Count nuts and seeds as proteins. While they do contain viable protein, they should be classified as fats.

Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats. This would mean that an individual who eats the healthiest food known to man, a 3.75 ounce can of sardines in olive oil, on a 1600 calorie diet, would be exceeding their limit of saturated fat for the day. Ludicrous!

To expect an individual to figure out the saturated fat calories daily is very difficult to tabulate, no matter what algorithm/app you use.

Limit calories from added sugars to 10 percent of daily calories. That's about 12 teaspoons of sugar per day. Way too much!

Jeff Hartvigsen

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Have him in circles
82 people
Fundació Sorigué's profile photo
Bala Juliet's profile photo
Adam Fendelman's profile photo
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Mylavarapu vekata narayana's profile photo
Vistage International's profile photo
Paul Merrion's profile photo
  • Idaho State University
    Photography/Journalism, 1987 - 1991
  • United States International University
    Musical Theater, 1985 - 1987
  • Pocatello High School
    1983 - 1985
Multimedia can change your perspective...

Producing compelling multimedia content has been my passion for over 20 years.  Although the definition of multimedia has greatly evolved over the years, its potential as an invaluable communication tool has remained unchanged. I have successfully unlocked its potential across multiple industries and solved a range of unique business challenges for companies who share my belief in the transformative powers of multimedia. I bring unparalleled commitment to the companies and teams I work with, as well as bring an artful yet strategic eye towards solving key business communication goals. 

Multimedia: Video/Photos/Audio
  • Crain's Chicago Business
    Multimedia Producer, 2007 - present
  • Towers Productions
    Online/Offline Editor, 2004 - 2007
  • J.H. Images
    Photographer/Videographer/Design/Owner, 2002 - 2004
  • Travelocity
    Multimedia/Graphic Design Manager, 1999 - 2002
    Multimedia Producer, 1995 - 1999
  • J.H. Images
    Photographer/Videographer/Design/Owner, 1985 - 1995
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Jeff Hartvigsen's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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