This section of the web site features new findings
about the benefits of the three components of the LEVITY Program: light,
exercise, and vitamins. It also suggests additional ways to boost your
mood, curb your appetite, regain your energy, and relieve stress and anxiety.
Come back for regular updates!
Read the study!
Read the complete results of the LEVITY study as they appeared in
the journal, Woman and Health.
Folic Acid May Reduce Premature Births
A study reported in 2008 by the University
of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has added more evidence to the
benefits of folic acid.
In a study of 38,033 participants, the researchers
determined that folate supplementation for at least one year prior
to pregnancy was linked to a 70% decrease in very early preterm deliveries
(20-28 weeks) and up to a 50% decrease in early preterm deliveries
of 28-32 weeks.
The current recommended daily dose before conception
for women of childbearing age is 400 micrograms.
Preconceptual Folate Prevents
Preterm Delivery, R. Bukowski, et al.
Study Concludes Current Vitamin D Recommendations Insufficient
A 2007 University of Pittsburgh study of 200 black
women and 200 white women found that 92.4% of African-American newborns
and 66.1% of white babies had insufficent Vitamin D levels at birth.
Low maternal Vitamin D intake during pregnancy provides a major risk
factor for infant rickets, a re-emerging health problem.
Vitamin D concentrations were highest in the summer
and lowest in winter and spring for both groups, although the differences
were smaller between seasons for the African-American mothers and babies;
their Vitamin D deficincies remained more constant.
D is created in the body as a reaction to exposure to sunlight, though
dark-skinned people living in northern climates typically produce less.
Journal of Nutrition 2007 137:447-452.
More Need for Vitamin D
Recent studies continue to point out the benefits
of Vitamin D, the "sunshine vitamin." An article published in the December
2006 Journal of the American Medical Association found
in a study of more than 7 million Army and Navy personnel that Caucasions
with the highest blood levels of Vitamin D were 62% less likely to
develop multiple sclerosis (MS) than people with lower levels. Similar
connections were not seen with Blacks or Hispanics, but this may be
because so few were represented in the study.
The study also suggested
that MS may be increasing in sunnier regions of the country as people
spend less time outdoors and increase their use of sunscreens. "The
good news," according to a doctor associated with the study, "is that
it doesn't matter whether the vitamin D is acquired from the ultrviolet
exposure or through diet. In areas of low sunlight, supplements provide
a reasonable alternative for vitamin D intake."
This news coincides with a recommendation from
the US-based Council for Responsible Nutrition that the tolerable upper
limit (UL) for oral vitamin D3 be increased five-fold.
UL in the US and Europe is 2000 International Units (IU) per day. The
Council is suggesting that, based on emerging data, this could be raised
to 10,000 IU per day.
Sunshine on the skin causes the body to produce
Vitamin D, or it can be obtained in small quantities by eating milk,
fish, liver and egg yolk. It is estimated, however, that as much as
60% of people living in northern climates are deficient in the vitamin.
Journal of the American Medical
J.N. Hatcock, A. Shao, R. Veith, R. Heaney, "Risk
assessment for vitamin D", American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition, Jan 2007, Vol. 85, pp 6-18.
Worried about Foggy Thinking? Exercise Helps
Healthy people who exercise three or more times
a week are 30 to 40% less likely to develop Alzheimer's Disease and
other types of dementia, according to a study published in the Annals
of Internal Medicine in January 2006.
The study did not identify types of exercise that
were more likely to help than others, but did say that even light activity
such as walking seemed to help. "The surprising finding for us
was that it actually didn't take much to have this effect," according
to study researcher Dr. Wayne McCormick, a geriatrician at the University
Light at Night and Breast Cancer
The December 1, 2005 issue of the scientific journal
Cancer Research published results from a new study in laboratory
mice showing that nighttime exposure to artificial light stimulated
the growth of human breast tumors by suppressing the levels of the hormone
melatonin. The study also showed that extended periods of nighttime
darkness greatly slowed the growth of these tumors.
These results may explain the epidemic rise in breast
cancer in industrialized countries as well as why female night shift
workers have a higher rate of breast cancer.
The LEVITY Program encourages individuals to get
more bright light during the day, and to reduce light exposure in the
Walking Reduces Risk of Death from Breast Cancer
"Women with breast cancer who walked three to five hours per week
were 50 percent less likely to die from breast cancer compared to inactive
women with breast cancer," said Dr. Michelle Holmes of P.H. Brigham
and Women's Hospital.
Researchers tracked the health and exercise habits of about 3,000 breast
cancer patients for up to 18 years. "Compared to the most inactive
women, just about any amount of physical activity was linked with a
lower risk of death of breast cancer," Holmes said.
Women who walk 1 - 3 hours per week after breast cancer diagnosis improve
their survival rate by 20-50%, according to researchers. This effect
is especially seen in women who have hormone-responsive tumors. Walking
three hours per week, such as a half hour per day, improved survival
rates by 50%.
Holmes MD, Chen WY, Feskanich D, et al. Physical
activity and survival after breast cancer diagnosis. Journal of the
American Medical Association. 2005;2932479-2486.
Calcium, Vitamin D Lessen PMS
A study published in June 2005 reports that a diet rich in calcium
and Vitamin D helps women reduce the symptoms of PMS. The study supports
previous research which shows that calcium helps women cope with PMS.
It also suggests that when calcium is combined with enough Vitamin D,
it may help prevent PMS altogether. The recommended daily dose
of Vitamin D is 400 IU.
Bertone-Johnson, E. Archives of Internal Medicine,
June 13, 2005; vol 165: pp 1246-1252.
More Windows at Work = Less Time on the Phone
Most indoor environments---including offices---have
very dim light compared to the outside. In dim light conditions, people
tend to be less alert and have more difficulty concentrating. Are people
in brighter offices more productive?
Yes, according to a small study conducted by the Lighting
Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. People who had
windows in their offices, and therefore more light, spent more time
on computer tasks, less time on the phone and less time visiting with
co-workers. Employers take note.
Figueiro, Mariana G., Mark S. Rea, Richard
G. Stevens, and Anne C. Rea. "Daylight and Productivity - A Field
Study." Teaming for Efficiency: 2002 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy
Efficiency in Buildings: Washington, DC: American Council for an Energy-Efficient
Drink Your Chocolate
Okay, okay. Chocolate really is necessary for survival. But
why eat a 350-calorie candy bar? You may be able to quell the craving
with chocolate that is high in volume but low in calories.
Take a look at the chart below. If you choose items that have relatively
few calories per ounce, you'll be ahead of the game.
The reason that chocolate drinks have relatively few calories is that
they contain so much water. The next time you "have to have chocolate,"
try sipping a soothing cup of cocoa.
|Type of Chocolate
|Swiss Miss "No Sugar Added" Cocoa
|Hot Cocoa (homemade)
|Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Icing
|Chocolate Chip Cookie
Folic Acid May Help Banish Foggy Thinking
Folic acid or folate, one of the six ingredients in the LEVITY formula,
may help preserve mental clarity. In a health and nutrition study of
thousands of women (NHANES III), those who had higher levels of folate
in their diet were less likely to show signs of memory loss. Researchers
speculated that folate helps protect the brain from "homocysteine,"
a protein that is linked with both heart disease and dementia.
Morris, M. S., P. F. Jacques, et al. (2001). "Hyperhomocysteinemia
associated with poor recall in the third National Health and Nutrition
Examination Survey." Am J Clin Nutr 73(5): 927-33.
Bright Light May Boost Testosterone in Men
Bright light may boost testosterone levels in men, according to the
latest study by light expert Daniel Kripke, professor of psychiatry
at the University of California at San Diego.
Eleven healthy men between the ages of 19 and 30 sat in front of either
a bright white light or a dim red light (placebo) between 5 and 6am.
Later, the volunteers were switched to the alternate light. When the
men were sitting in front of the bright white light, they had, on average,
a 69 percent increase in the hormone that boosts testosterone, luteinizing
hormone or LH.
In their report, Kripke and his colleagues wrote that "It is theoretically
possible that light exposure, which increases LH secretion, will alleviate
sexual dysfunction in depressed [male] patients."
(Neuroscience Letters, May, 2003)
Surprising News about Balance Bars®
Many health-conscious people eat high-protein bars as snacks or meal
substitutes. The bars are believed to stabilize blood sugar and insulin
levels as well as stave off hunger. Better health and a leaner body
are the anticipated results. Two of the most popular food bars are Atkins
Advantage Bars® and Balance Bars®.
Eating chicken may be a healthier choice than either one. In a 2003
study, volunteers were given an Atkins Advantage Bar®, Balance Bar®,
chicken, or white bread on successive days. Their blood sugar and insulin
levels were measured after each test meal. ( In general, low and stable
levels are associated with better health.)
As expected, both the Atkins Advantage Bar® and the Balance Bar®
produced lower glucose levels than the bread, most likely due to their
lower carbohydrate and higher protein content. The surprise was that
eating a Balance Bar® raised the volunteer's insulin levels
higher than the white bread, an unanticipated and undesirable effect.
Chicken was the healthiest choice in the study, giving the volunteers
the lowest blood sugar and insulin levels. What's more, the
chicken had less fat and fewer calories than either bar, and only 2
grams less protein than the ultra-high protein Atkins Bar®.
(Med Sci Monit, 2003; 9(2) CR 84-90)
Calming those Anxious Thoughts
Exercise does more than boost your mood and energy level, it also has
a long-lasting calming effect. Studies show that people feel less anxious
while they are exercising and then for the next several hours. A review
of dozens of studies determined that you need to exercise for only 20
minutes for this natural tranquilizer to kick in.
(Petruzzello, S. J., D. M. Landers, et al. (1991). "A
meta-analysis of the anxiety-reducing effects of acute and chronic exercise.
Outcomes and mechanisms." Sports Med 11(3): 143-82.)
That's about how many additional steps you will be taking each day
when you take part in the LEVITY Program and go for your 20-minute brisk
walk. Research by Dr. James O. Hill at Colorado State University says
that this may be all the exercise you need to keep from gaining weight.
Most people gain about 2 pounds a year, he says. That's 20 pounds of
added weight each decade. Taking 2,000 steps transports you about a
mile and burns around 120 calories. This modest amount of exercise helps
hold the line.
"Yo-Yo" Dieting May Not Be as Bad as Feared
Losing weight and then gaining it back---"Yo-Yo"
dieting---is a phenomenon that many women experience. For many years,
researchers thought that Yo-Yo dieting made it increasingly difficult
to lose weight. The theory was that losing weight slowed the body's
metabolic rate, ultimately reducing the number of calories a person
required. It was better to lose weight once and for all.
No one argues that a single, successful weight loss effort is ideal.
But very, very few people are able to accomplish this feat. The good
news is that losing weight a number of times does not make
it more difficult to lose weight in the future. Yes, your metabolic
rate does go down while you are eating a low-calorie diet. But your
furnace fires up again a mere three weeks after you resume normal eating.
In other words, you can lose weight on the same number of calories again
(Int. J. Obesity
"Effects of weight cycling caused by intermittent dieting on metabolic
rate and body composition in obese women" 15:367-74)
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Following the sobering news that conventional hormone
replacement therapy (HRT) may be causing more health problems than it
resolves, millions of women have been casting about for safer alternatives.
Women who were taking HRT primarily to reduce their risk of cardiovascular
disease can take heart. According to a review in JAMA, a premier health
journal, walking for just one and a half hours a week reduces the risk
of coronary heart disease by 51 percent! (You will be racking up that
amount of walking just by taking part in the LEVITY Program.)
JAMA, 285:1447-54. 2001
dieting helps control your "emotional eating."
One of the reasons that so many of us women are overweight
is that we are more likely than men to resort to "emotional eating."
Having a bad day at the office? Reach for the Hershey's kisses. Too tired
to exercise? Eat instead. Stuck at home with nothing to do? Fill that
empty time with a bag of chips. Our LEVITY Program has been proven to
relieve the negative feelings that trigger overeating.
Surprisingly, another way to reduce your emotional
eating is to go on a diet. (This applies only if you're overweight, of
course!) You'd think the opposite is true. If you're already overeating
because of negative feelings, you would think that going on a diet would
add to your woes! But a new study shows that's not so. In this Australian
study, 42 women were asked either to take part in a 12-week weight reduction
diet or to continue their normal eating and exercise habits. At the end
of the study, the women who had been assigned to the dieting group had
fewer problems with emotional eating. What's more, they felt happier and
more in control of their life.
(J. Bryan and M. Tiggemann,
"The effect of weight-loss dieting on cognitive performance and psychological
well-being in overweight women." Appetite (2001) 36, 147-156.)
hidden ally in beating the Body Blues: high-fiber cereal!
You probably know that eating bran or other high-fiber
cereal helps keep you regular and reduces your risk of cardiovascular
disease. Now there is surprising new evidence that it can also boost your
energy and, believe it or not, make you happier! In other words, breakfasting
on All Bran, Raisin Bran, or Fiber One helps fight the Body Blues.
This finding comes from a study published in the
medical journal Appetite. For two weeks, 142
volunteers ate a high-fiber breakfast cereal. For the next two weeks,
they went back to their normal breakfast routine. During the weeks they
were eating the cereal, tests showed that they had more energy and mental
clarity, and less emotional distress. The exact reason for their improved
state of being is under investigation.
(Andrew Smith et al, "High
fibre breakfast cereals reduce fatigue," Appetite (2001) 37:249-50.)
music will make your walk easier and more enjoyable!
Do you want your 20-minute walks to fly by? If so,
listen to your favorite, upbeat music. Researchers at Hampden-Sydney College
in Virginia asked 12 college students to work out on an exercise bike
for ten minutes. On one day, the volunteers listened to no music. On the
second, they listened to music of their choice. On the day the volunteers
cycled to music, they rode 11% further yet rated their level of exertion
to be lower! More distance; less work. Such a deal!
To find audio tapes designed for walking, go to an
athletic or healthy living store, search the Internet for "walking
tapes," "audio fitness tapes" or "exercise music."
Video has a particularly large collection of tapes. (Note: You will
be buying the tapes from Collage Video, not this web site. We have no
connections with their products.)
minutes of exercise is a proven mood booster. But 20 minutes is best!
There is new confirmation that 20 minutes of moderate
exercise---the same amount of exercise recommended in the Body Blues Program—is
ideal for boosting your mood. In a recent study, volunteers went through
four different experimental conditions. On different days, they either
sat quietly for 30 minutes, or exercised for 10, 20 or 30 minutes. When
the volunteers rested quietly, they had no noticeable change in mood.
When they exercised for only ten minutes, they felt less tired, depressed,
and confused-—three of the most common symptoms of the Body Blues.
When they exercised for 20 minutes, they experienced even greater relief
from these symptoms. Surprisingly, when they exercised for 30 minutes,
they felt no better than when they had exercised for 20.
This doesn't mean that walking for longer than 20
minutes has no health benefits. A longer exercise session will burn more
calories, improve your physical fitness, and further reduce your risk
of a long list of diseases. But if you're exercising to beat the Body
Blues, 20 minutes is just right! And if you're pressed for time? A quick
10-minute walk will get you halfway there.
(Hansen, C.J., L.C. Stevens,
et al. (2001) "Exercise duration and mood state: how much is enough
to feel better?" Health Psychol 20(4):267-7
D linked with a lower risk of heart disease in older women.
Recently, California researchers released results
of their study showing that taking vitamin D may lower women's risk of
dying from heart disease. Dr. Paul Varosy and associates from the University
of California researched the vitamin D intake of 9,704 women who were
participating in an osteoporosis study. About half the women were taking
vitamin D. Eleven years into the study, the researchers found that the
women taking vitamin D were 31 percent less likely to have died from heart
Vitamin D is an integral part of the vitamin and
mineral formula we used in our LEVITY Program. In addition to strengthening
your bones and brightening your mood, it may also be reducing your risk
of heart disease.
may not help PMS—the monthly "Body Blues."
Many women try to ease their premenstrual symptoms
by using natural or synthetic progesterone. A new British study casts
doubt on the effectiveness of the therapies. The research team reviewed
14 studies that involved either natural progesterone or progestogens --
a group of drugs similar to progesterone. They discovered that the therapies
were no more effective than placebos in improving PMS symptoms such as
irritability, abdominal pain, fatigue, low mood, or headaches. What's
more, the women taking oral progesterone felt more fatigued than those
who did not take it.
According to Dr. Katrina Wyatt, lead investigator,
"There is no evidence to support the claimed efficacy of progesterone
in the management of premenstrual syndrome."
(British Medical Journal 2001;
of key parts of the LEVITY Program is getting more light during the day
but less light at night. Bright light at night interferes with your production
of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep, fine tunes your biological
rhythms, and has a mild, tranquilizing effect. When you avoid light at
night, you produce melatonin in the manner that nature intended. As a
result, you are more likely to sleep soundly at night and feel more alert
in the daytime, relieving two of the most common symptoms of the Body
But melatonin is also a potent cancer fighter. In
animal studies, this versatile hormone has slowed the growth of a variety
of tumors, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer, and
colon cancer. In pilot studies, it has even extended the lives of people
with advanced, untreatable cancer and improved their quality of life.
When you turn on your lights at night, you are turning off the production
of this cancer-fighting hormone.
Does too much light at night increase your risk of
cancer? Now there is new data to suggest this is true. According to a
study conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, women who
work the graveyard shift—and therefore are exposed to bright light
at night—have up to a 60 percent greater risk of breast cancer.
Alarmingly, the researchers found that simply having too much light in
the bedroom may also increase the risk.
The take home message is that creating a more natural
lighting environment—bright during the day and dark at night—will
help beat the Body Blues and may also reduce your risk of cancer.
Here are some simple ways to safeguard your night-time
- Install three-way bulbs in your light fixtures and switch to the
after 8:00 pm.
- Use "blackout" shades in your bedroom.
- If you read in bed, use a small light that clips to your book or
switch to a 40- or even 25-watt bulb.
- If you can't block the light—or your partner stays up late
watching TV or reading!— wear a sleep mask.
Davis, S., D. K. Mirick, and
R. G. Stevens. "Night Shift Work, Light at Night, and Risk of Breast
Cancer." J Natl Cancer Inst 93, no. 20 (2001): 1557-62.