Category Archives: Health

L.A.’s hot new swim workout includes a hip-hop soundtrack — underwater

You don’t have to be a talented swimmer to channel your inner athlete at L.A.’s hot new water workout, SwimTeam.

Even swimmers with very basic freestyle skills can use this a low-impact circuit training class to improve their stroke and get a heart-pumping cardio and strength workout.

And unlike other water workouts, you can still hear the coach’s cues and hip-hop soundtrack underwater, thanks to SwimTeam’s special headsets.


The vibe at SwimTeam is social and decidedly no-nonsense, with classes held mostly at public pools in Culver City, West Hollywood, Bel-Air, Santa Monica, Venice and Tarzana. Just show up in your suit, and a swim cap and goggles. Headsets are provided.

A crowd of 10 swimmers gathered on a recent Sunday at the public pool in West Hollywood ranged from those looking to reconnect with lap swimming, to a pregnant woman needing a low-impact workout. A few like me were just looking to stay fit and cool off in 90-plus-degree weather. Whatever the reason, we were all challenged, as Coach Gage Robinson took us through laps and sprints across the 75-foot pool, interspersed with underwater strength intervals.

“Keep your legs straight,” he cued, as we kicked, or “Try to keep your shoulders under the water” as we used our arms as levers in trunk rotations.


While you might not feel sweat rolling down your face in the water, make no mistake, this workout is fast-paced. Laps across the pool run right into 45-second intervals of strength exercises such as those baseball bat trunk twists, the side mountain climbers, or kicks and punches treading water.

You barely have time to catch your breath for a few seconds before you’re swimming back to the other side of the pool, to do another round of exercises. And once this is done, you’re on to a series of short sprints, one of them for time, so you can record your progress. It’s not about competition, and there are no races among class participants. It’s really all about pushing yourself to go faster and improving your form.

That said, this class is no substitute for swim lessons. While you might get some minor cues to tweak some aspect of your stroke, what’s coming through the headset is mostly encouragement and humor, as well as the cues and explanation of the exercises. (For those that need more help, SwimTeam instructors are available for private lessons.)

It goes by quickly, and in the end I had logged about a half-mile swim in class (not counting the warm-up or cool-down laps) and completed 16 sets of strength exercises. By the final sprint, I was gasping for air and beyond ready for the floating cool-down.


With many of these exercises — or if your freestyle stroke looks as rough as mine — it helps to keep a sense of humor. Several times I caught myself switching to breast stroke to catch a bit of a break, but no one else — including the coach — seemed to care.

Still, because of the sheer number of laps involved, the SwimTeam class would be difficult for a new swimmer, or someone who had been away from exercise for some time.

But for those who want to challenge themselves in the water, or just need a little more motivation to get back in the pool, SwimTeam, which runs year-round, would be a good fit.


Classes are currently available in Culver City, Hollywood, Santa Monica and Tarzana. More pools coming online soon.

Cost: $30 per class with loyalty discounts for those taking more classes.

Find SwimTeam pools and schedule at


Yes, you can eat your way to beautiful skin

10 high-tech gadgets to help you get to sleep

How ‘Scandal’s’ Katie Lowes hid her psoriasis

7 steps to making your health your No. 1 priority

He lost 84 pounds in four months — and kept it off

Hacking your health at the new Bulletproof Labs in Santa Monica


The first thing Dave Asprey will tell you about his newly opened Bulletproof Labs in Santa Monica is that it’s not a gym. Rather, he says, it’s the world’s first “human upgrade” facility dedicated exclusively to biohacking, or tweaking your biology for better performance.

At first glance, the light-filled space adjacent to his Bulletproof Coffee café on Main Street certainly looks like a gym, with personal trainers standing by and gleaming equipment lined up.

But take a closer look, and that equipment is unlike anything you’re used to seeing in a health club, from the cockpit-style atmospheric cell trainer by the door to the rotating virtual float tank in the center of the room. These are the same machines that Asprey has in the $1-million performance lab at his house in Victoria, Canada.

“It has been a dream for several years to make this level of technology available for everyone,” said Asprey, the world’s most famous biohacker. “Part of the role Bulletproof plays in society is to make people aware of all the things they can do to tap into their full power — and it’s frustrating to me that this kind of amazing technology isn’t more widely available because it makes such a big difference.”

With this first lab, Asprey and his partners are learning how to scale these “stacks” of treatments for mind, body and cellular health for a larger audience of Paleoites, Bulletproof podcast listeners and butter coffee drinkers, with locations to follow in other cities.

Brain and body hacks

Some of the lab’s equipment might be familiar to elite athletes and hard-core fitness enthusiasts. There is the oxygen trainer, which uses a bike and an oxygen mask that alternates between 100% oxygen to low oxygen air to optimize cardiovascular function and performance. Or the cryotherapy chamber, in which three-minute stints in temperatures as low as minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit are meant to decrease inflammation, enhance recovery and boost the immune system.

Although Asprey may not want to call it a gym, many of the machines are designed to complement or expand on the gains its users have made at the gym, starting with the cheat machine, which delivers an adaptive resistance strength workout that eliminates the user’s ability to “cheat” or use momentum, said to deliver a week’s workout in 15 minutes.

There’s also a bone density trainer to support all that muscle, as well as “cold cardio,” a cooling and compression bike that is being tested by NASA for space flights to Mars.

Other treatments for cognition and mental performance include neurofeedback; a dry float tank that induces a rejuvenating, dreamlike state; light therapy; and heart rate training to manage stress response.

While they’re between treatments, members can have a vitamin IV infusion administered by a nurse at its in-house lab and clinic area.

“Most of the technologies are focused on recovery, immune system function, cellular health and cognitive performance, and other areas not available in the standard fitness concept,” Asprey says.

Pulling ahead of the research curve

If this all sounds a bit out there, it is.

Much of the research on this equipment is still in the early stages and therefore, like biohacking, it’s an experiment you’re performing on yourself in hopes of getting ahead of the research curve and feeling and performing better.

Because the treatments are unfamiliar to most people, staff members expect people to come in to try a few individual treatments before they commit to a membership, which ranges from $500 a month to around $1,500 per month depending on frequency of use. Each membership includes a battery of tests and an individualized treatment plan depending on performance goals.

It’s certainly not inexpensive, but Asprey’s team says if you come in once a week, it’s comparable to paying for a very high-end personal training session. And for many, he says, it will be the thing that helps them feel and look better, when traditional workouts and dietary changes are not enough.

“This,” he says, “is about getting the best biological return on the effort you put in, and that works for everyone.”


Yes, you can eat your way to beautiful skin

10 high-tech gadgets to help you get to sleep

How ‘Scandal’s’ Katie Lowes hid her psoriasis

7 steps to making your health your No. 1 priority

He lost 84 pounds in four months — and kept it off

How Guru Jagat helps you get your groove back in a techy and complex era

Guru Jagat may be the new model for a thoroughly modern, multimedia yogi and the fresh, female face making the Kundalini yoga tradition increasingly popular.

In her new book, “Invincible Living: The Power of Yoga, the Energy of Breath, and Other Tools for a Radiant Life” (Harper Elixir), Guru Jagat puts in print some of the many lessons she’s issued through branches of her RA MA Media outlets, which encompass online videos, a record label and discussions with a variety of spiritual leaders and artists. Her presence in media and in-person is helping to demystify the workings of Kundalini, a mix of meditation, breath exercises, chanting and poses to improve and access our energy.

The Colorado-born, East Coast-raised Guru Jagat moved to Los Angeles in 2003 at the urging of her guru, Yogi Bhajan, who popularized Kundalini in the West. In 2013, she founded her RA MA Institute for Applied Yogic Science and Technology in Venice. She also has a studio in Mallorca, Spain, and one planned for New York. In addition, she stages retreats, workshops and training — several aimed at women and teen girls that show how to use Kundalini yoga and meditation to build a more resilient life.

In September, her RA MA Foundation opened a studio in the West Adams neighborhood to offer by-donation yoga, meditation and wellness classes.

In a recent interview, Guru Jagat touched on why Kundalini is getting a higher profile these days, attracting followers such as Kate Hudson, Kelly Rutherford and Alicia Keys. Throughout her book and online lectures, she emphasizes that Kundalini isn’t about complicated poses or matching outfits (though she frequently wears the traditional all-white and a turban), but a system to enhance creativity, calm, prosperity and self-healing.

“We are starting to see the tipping point of people wanting something a little deeper than a fitness experience in yoga. Or they are looking for something that will make them more successful in a very complex, technological age,” she said. “You don’t have to consider yourself spiritual and you don’t have to be able to touch your toes, either.”

Kundalini, she has written, is a process of biofeedback and a science of accessing the brain’s potential.

“I am really into the science of the brain. I work with a lot of people who have some brain issues,” she said. “My mother has Parkinson’s, so this is a personal thing for me. I see how much it helps with brain health.

“That is what is creating a lot of buzz around it. If you are depressed or anxious or even feeling any one of these modern emotional things, you can do three minutes of one of these breath practices and feel better,” she said.

A few practices to try:

Lighten up: “If you feel a little negative, throw on some white and see how you feel. White expands you; it puts you in a better, more-positive mood. White also refracts instead of absorbs (which can be protective in negative situations).

Stay fluid: Keeping the nervous system strong builds a kind of emotional infrastructure to help minds and bodies handle big jolts of stress. Being well hydrated will help.

“Anytime you get stressed or worked up, just drink a full glass of water, breathe, and then act,” she said.

Try a mantra: Scientists are studying how mantras, such as the Kirtan Kriya, can develop communication between parts of the brain that control attention. Sitting cross-legged, focus closed eyes on your brow point and breath naturally. Coordinate touching individual fingers with the thumb while saying out loud each syllable of the mantra Sa-Ta-Na-Ma. On “Sa,” touch the index finger to the thumb; Ta, the middle finger to the thumb; Na, the fourth finger; and on Ma, the pinky.


Yes, you can eat your way to beautiful skin

10 high-tech gadgets to help you get to sleep

How ‘Scandal’s’ Katie Lowes hid her psoriasis

7 steps to making your health your No. 1 priority

He lost 84 pounds in four months — and kept it off

This is the secret to actor Sterling K. Brown’s Instagram-ready abs

Ask 41-year-old Sterling K. Brown, who just took the Emmy for lead actor in a drama for his role in “This Is Us,” how he developed his awesome abs and a spectacular devotion to lifelong fitness, and he’ll point to his relatives.

The aunt who paid him to do sit-ups, a dad who died way too early, and an older brother who challenged him to keep what he had. The father of two, who stars in the upcoming biopic “Marshall”— out Oct. 13 — and the 2018 movies “The Predator” and “Black Panther,” talked to us about those abs, how he bans bad food from his house, and his crazy-hard workouts.


1. Your killer abs got a big buzz when you posted on Instagram earlier this year. How’d you get them?

I’ve had ‘em for a long time — since age 6. As a kid in St. Louis, I remember playing shirts versus skins at summer camp — and not wanting to be a skin because I didn’t like my body. So when my aunt bought us a sit-up board, it was an opportunity. She would always have competitions between us kids. She’d give 10 bucks to anyone who could do 100 sit-ups. For a 6-,7-, 8-year-old, that was a lotta money! So I once did 200 sit-ups without stopping — and got $20. From that point forward, I would watch music videos on MTV and try to do sit-ups for an entire song.

Actor Sterling K. Brown, and his wife, actress Ryan Michelle Bathe, light up the red carpet at the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards. Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

2. So you’re not one of those actors who pigs out most of the time and then gets fit to play a certain role?

Right. I told my wife [actress Ryan Michelle Bathe], “You know, I’m thankful that most of these roles I get have very little to do with the way I’m built.” And she said, “Are you kidding me? I would love to get roles because people want to see my body.” So we have an inverse relationship to the way we see our fitness. But for me, it’s always been about being healthy.

I’ve seen the men in my family all start out young very fit and healthy and over time let themselves go. I always had it in the back of my mind: It’s easier to maintain it than to lose it and try to get it back. I was a good high school athlete, played football and basketball and always had a decent shape. I weighed 197 when I graduated and am 190-something right now. I just wanted to stay slim, stay fit and stay tough to show my family that there is another way of aging. That you can age without growing old — that you can maintain a sense of vivacity to your lifestyle. Age doesn’t have to keep you from being an active participant in life.

3. Did it work? Did you influence them to get healthier?

Maybe … to a small extent. The lifestyle in St. Louis, Mo., is not very active. Of my four siblings, my 54-year-old brother, a pharmaceutical salesman — former track star, martial artist, college football player — will hit the elliptical. He was built like an Adonis — not anymore — but he probably inspired me more than I did him.

He would always tease me. “By the time you hit 30, you won’t have those abs anymore. You’ll be going out to all these corporate dinners and you’ll see.” I said, “OK, we’ll see.” When I turned 30, I told him, “Hey, man, I still got ‘em.” Then he said, “Just wait until you turn 40.” So when I turned 40, I sent him a picture just to show him I still had ’em.

4. You’re over 40, an age when some people start slowing down. Have you changed anything?

I still do something nearly every day. I want to hold on to what the good Lord has blessed me with — that’s my motto. I haven’t slowed down — still love basketball, running, working out. But now, instead of banging in the paint, I’ve become more of a perimeter player to reduce body contact. It’s a big change. Until age 38, I played with reckless abandon, or “RA,” as we called it in high school; go all-out, with total disregard for your body, and it will take care of you. But at 38, I noticed: Driving the lane and playing outdoors on the pavement instead of playing indoors on the wood, my body would tell me: “Hey, Brown, why you doing this to me? Stop beating me up.” I’d go for a 7-8-mile run on the street, instead of the treadmill, and every time, my body would say, “Hey, Brown …”

So a good rule of thumb: Beware of the pavement. The recovery time on a more forgiving surface like wood or dirt is much less. There is no sense, with the busy schedule I have now, to go through the day hurt. A little sore, OK; hurt, no.

5. Do you do any fitness activities with your kids, or are they too young?

Actually, I’ll take my 6-year-old son out and we exercise together. I’ll push him just enough to where he wants to come back and do it again. We’ll go a park with a one-third-mile track. He likes running. I’ll say, “OK, big boy, I’m going to give you a 30-second head start. Then, Daddy’s going to go all out to try to catch you.” And he takes off. He’s fast. Sometimes I catch him, sometimes I don’t.

Afterwards, we might do wall jumps, pushups, squats. At some point, he’ll go, “Daddy, my legs don’t work anymore.” And I’ll say, “You can take a break while I keep going.” I try to expose him to fitness at an early age — not just to sports — but what it means to live a healthy lifestyle. That way, although he may not be able to play sports the rest of his life or have the facility for it, he can always take care of himself. That’s of tantamount importance

6. What’s your diet strategy?

I remember at 16 doing a 7-mile run and was so proud of myself that I came house and made myself a pitcher of Kool-Aid. Now that doesn’t even make sense.

I began to get away from the fast-food lifestyle when I became an actor in college and grad school. There was an emphasis on your body being your instrument, and I began to understand the car analogy of thinking of food as fuel you put in your engine. If you want to go long and go hard, you have to give it the best gas possible. Then, about 10 years ago, I read a book, “Healthy at 100” by John Robbins, which follows pockets of centenarians across the globe and what they have in common. The conclusion: The longest-living ate a plant-based diet with lean meat and whole grains. They didn’t do hard-core, beat-your-body-up exercise but had built-in activity in their lifestyle that keeps them supple and mobile. That book sort of flipped the switch in me, made me think about the legacy I’ll want to pass to my children.

One big thing: Water. I’ll drink almost a gallon a day — great for my skin. Another rule: Keep out the bad stuff. No white pastas, flour or sugar in my house. We’ll eat brown rice, not white. Pop-Tarts used to be a regular thing, but if I opened the box, I’d probably finish it all. Keeping it out of the house is the key

7. Your father died when you were 10. Did that play any role in your health consciousness?

Yes — a big one. My dad had [Type 2] diabetes, smoked, drank and passed from a heart attack. So I’ve never smoked a cigarette. I enjoy a cocktail every now and then but have no need to have a drink every day. I’m very careful with salt. We sweeten everything in our house with brown rice syrup, agave and honey, but no sugar. My kids have never seen a sugar-frosted flake. My son wouldn’t know what Cap’n Crunch was if he looked at it.

I’m not just looking good for the sake of looking good. I want to live a long, healthy life. The life expectancy of the African American male is the shortest of all groups in this country, and I don’t wish to be a statistic. I want to be around to see great-grandchildren — and be able to enjoy them.

The secret to Sterling K. Brown’s Instagram-ready abs

Actor Sterling K. Brown’s schedule can be hectic, and his workouts vary week to week. “No week is the same,” he said. “I do a lot of muscle-confusion body-weight stuff, where I keep it different so my body doesn’t get used to any one thing.” He said he aims to balance it all by working out most weekdays and “taking the weekend off to hang out with the family.” Here’s what a recent week of workouts looked like:

Monday: “I did the one workout I love, the ‘50-40-30-20-10-10.’ A friend of mine told me about it. It means 50 jumping jacks, 40 squats, 30 push-ups, 20 butt-ups [a core workout move], 10 burpees and 10 pull-ups. Do three sets in a row. I did it in 28 minutes, with 24 minutes my PR.”

Tuesday: “Played basketball, my workout without thinking about working out. 90 minutes of fun.”

Wednesday: “Ran 4 miles on a treadmill, incline of 2% lowering to 1% as I sped up.” Done in 34 minutes, burn 1,150 calories per hour, according to the dashboard. “My PR is just under 32 minutes.”

Friday: The 50-40-30-20-10-10 workout.

Thursday: On a plane, traveling, so no workout.

Sunday: “Ran 5 miles in 42 minutes, followed by some ab exercises from P90X.”

Sky Yoga: Try warrior pose 1,000 feet above Los Angeles

From San Diego to Ventura, downtown Los Angeles to Westwood, here are some noteworthy fitness events to get you moving:

It might be a bit of a drive to get there, but the intense workout on the other side will be worth it. With three different courses, the Life Time Tri San Diego on Oct. 15 is designed for all levels and takes place at South Shores Park on Mission Bay, site of the first modern triathlon in 1974.

Entrants can sign up for Super Sprint, which is a .24-mile swim, 6.35-mile bike ride and 1.65-mile run, or Sprint, which is about twice that distance. Haven’t been training for a triathlon? You can enter a Mixed Relay, which allows four competitors to finish the Super Sprint. The event was previously known as Esprit de She, and was for women only; it is now open to everyone. After, local dining spot Konito’s Cafe will provide breakfast burritos, and from Second Chance Beer Co. come well-deserved frosted libations.

Info: Event takes place Oct. 15. Registration starts at $85 until Oct. 14.

Sky-high yoga

Yoga in the clouds takes place on alternate Mondays at Oue Skyspace LA, at the top of downtown’s US Bank Tower Oue Skyspace LA

There’s beachfront yoga, yoga in blazing temperatures, yoga on the dance floor. But ever tried warrior pose at 1,000 feet above Los Angeles?

OUE Skyspace, at the top of the US Bank Tower, has reprised its limited Sunset Yoga in the Sky series, led by an instructor from the neighboring Evoke Yoga. The hour-long class gives participants a 360-degree view over the city while headphones block out any sound except the instructor’s voice and soothing background music to calm any incipient acrophobia.

Info: 6 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16 and Nov. 6. Classes typically held on the first and third Mondays of each month. $35 per person, which includes a post-class ride on the heart-stopping Skyslide.

Costume up, and run for Halloween

Put on a costume, lace up those running shoes and hit the pre-Halloween Los Angeles Cancer Challenge’s walk/run in Westwood. Now in its 20th year, the event this year will include a family-friendly wellness expo and live entertainment. The event is organized by the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research; pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate among major cancers.

Some 3,000 participants are expected to gather at UCLA in Westwood for the event; they will also be able to enjoy a Fit Family Expo and a Halloween parade for the kids. This will also be the first year there will be a 15K run, in addition to the traditional 5K and 10K.

Info: 7 a.m. Oct. 29 on the UCLA campus’ Wilson Plaza, 120 Westwood Plaza.

Embracing ‘Natural Movement’

Natural movement is at the heart of a two-day weekend in Ventura, exploring concepts in the book, ‘Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement.’ Credit - Galina Denzel
Natural movement is at the heart of a two-day weekend in Ventura, exploring concepts in the book, ‘Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement.’ Credit – Galina Denzel Galina Denzel / Galina Denzel

The simple act of moving is given a closer look during a two-day weekend in Ventura in early November.

The Eat Move Live 52 event focuses on “natural movement”: Proponents encourage the rest of us to rethink how we move in the name of fitness, and encourages people to spend time barefoot or with minimal footwear, to be in nature more, and to take movement breaks during the day.

The weekend is led by Galina Denzel and Breena Maggio, who are restorative exercise and master movement teachers and builds on the work of natural movement specialist Katy Bowman and her book, “Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement.” The book is required reading before attending.

California's deadly hepatitis A outbreak could last years, official says

California’s outbreak of hepatitis A, already the nation’s second largest in the last 20 years, could continue for many more months, even years, health officials said Thursday.

At least 568 people have been infected and 17 have died of the virus since November in San Diego, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles counties, where local outbreaks have been declared.

Dr. Monique Foster, a medical epidemiologist with Division of Viral Hepatitis at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters Thursday that California’s outbreak could linger even with the right prevention efforts.

“It’s not unusual for them to last quite some time — usually over a year, one to two years,” Foster said.

That forecast has worried health officials across the state, even in regions where there haven’t yet been cases.

Many are beginning to offer vaccines to their homeless populations, which are considered most at risk. Doctors know that people with hepatitis A — who may not even have symptoms — could travel and unknowingly infect people in a new region, creating more outbreaks.

San Diego, Santa Cruz and L.A.

San Diego County declared a public health emergency in September because of its hepatitis A outbreak. Since November, 481 people there have been infected, including 17 who died, according to the county’s health department.

Hep A in California

  • 481 cases in San Diego County
  • 70 cases in Santa Cruz County
  • 12 cases in L.A. County
  • 5 cases elsewhere in the state
  • Sources: county health depts, California public health depts

The only outbreak in the last 20 years bigger than California’s occurred in Pennsylvania in 2003, when more than 900 people were infected after eating contaminated green onions at a restaurant.

The hepatitis A virus, which causes liver damage, took root in San Diego’s homeless community. It is transmitted from feces to mouth, so unsanitary conditions make it more likely to spread. A common way for the virus to be transmitted is when an infected person uses the bathroom and doesn’t wash his hands, experts say.

San Diego’s outbreak then spread to Santa Cruz County, where 70 people have been infected so far, said county public health manager Jessica Randolph. There are typically one or two hepatitis A cases in the county each year.

Randolph said Santa Cruz County has distributed 1,381 doses of the vaccine so far, and plan to continue the effort.

It can take up to 50 days for an infected person to show symptoms, so more cases could appear, she said.

“I don’t think the worst is over,” Randolph said.

Health workers in Los Angeles are also trying to vaccinate the region’s massive homeless population after an outbreak was declared in the county last month. So far, 12 people have been infected, most of whom were either in San Diego or Santa Cruz when they were exposed.

A man passes behind a sign warning of an upcoming street cleaning along 17th Street in San Diego. Gregory Bull / AP

Where next?

San Francisco health officials said Wednesday they were stepping up their vaccination efforts in light of the growing outbreaks statewide. So far, there have been 13 hepatitis A cases in the city, but none associated with the outbreak.

Tenderloin Health Services, a clinic in the San Francisco neighborhood known for its a large homeless population, has been offering hepatitis A vaccines to its patients for weeks. The clinic recently began holding special vaccination events and delivered 80 injections in three hours Friday, said Dr. Andrew Desruisseau, the clinic’s medical director.

“The cases in San Diego and the magnitude of the epidemic there certainly set off alarms in the Bay Area,” he said.

Desruisseau said 90% of the clinic’s patients are homeless and many also have other liver problems or are drug users, making the disease especially dangerous.

The typical mortality rate from hepatitis A is 1%, but the disease appears to have killed a higher rate of people in San Diego County because of the population it hit, many of whom already had weakened livers from hepatitis B or C.

All 17 people who have died in the San Diego outbreak had underlying health conditions, including 16 who had liver problems.

Desruisseau said he was concerned about conditions in the city that could help the spread the disease.

“With all of the housing crisis and gentrification in San Francisco, we’re seeing a much more condensed homeless population,” he said. “We have a lot of obstacles in keeping it a very sanitary place for our clients.”

Twitter: @skarlamangla


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Pet food goes upscale, with kale, quinoa and cage-free duck. But check with your vet first.

Americans will spend close to $30 billion feeding their pets this year, according to the American Pet Products Assn. That’s up from $28.23 billion last year.

Driving the growth: premium, human-grade food that is organic, minimally processed, slow-cooked and loaded with previously niche ingredients like coconut, turmeric and cardamom.

“People want to feed their dogs upscale, yuppie diets rather than buying dog chow,” said Will Draper, veterinary contributor to WebMD and the co-host with his wife, Fran Tyler, of Nat Geo’s “Love and Vets” show. “Otherwise, they feel like they’re cheating their dogs.”

It’s not just an aspirational thing, either. Tyler said that the newer ingredients being used in dog food — such as turmeric — can have a valid place in an animal’s diet.

“Turmeric helps with pain and inflammation, ginger is good for an upset tummy. But are they necessary in a dog’s diet? That’s debatable. It’s definitely smart to check with your vet before introducing something new.”

Once you get the all-clear, here are some alternatives to dish out.

Bone broth

At the San Diego headquarters of the Honest Kitchen, founder Lucy Postins and her staff can be found sipping the probiotic-rich goat’s milk drinks or a nourishing cup of turmeric- and parsley-infused bone broth.

“We taste everything,” Postins said. “These are foods fit for human consumption, sourced from the human food chain.”

Products include Prowl, a grain-free cat food made with free-range chicken, vegetables, eggs and flaxseed, or Spruce, a dog food made with whole food ingredients (cage free duck, dried navy beans) alongside the usual vitamins and minerals.

Upcoming launches include Pumpkin Spice Latte; Pep Up, made from hemp powder; and Turkey and Ginger Spice, a bone broth also made with lentils and kale.

Available at Whole Foods, Sprouts, Healthy Spot, Pussy & Pooch.

Rachael Ray’s menu

Food Network star Rachael Ray’s pet food line, Nutrish, uses bison and roasted chicken for its new line of treats: Burger Bites and Savory Roasters.

“They’re inspired by recipes from Rachael’s kitchen,” said Steve Joyce, vice president of marketing at Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, Nutrish’s parent company. The new offerings join food that is made from whole ingredients — carrots, peas, apple — that can be seen in the dish, using U.S.-sourced meats.

“We’re seeing more of the humanization of pet food,” Joyce said. “Animals are seen as members of the family.”

Available online and at most groceries.

More from L.A. Times pets »

Chicken and quinoa

From another line, Pure Dog Food, come treats with just five ingredients, including chicken-and-quinoa bowls and newly launched Popeye Chicken & Spinach. The 100% human grade ingredients, from suppliers who also sell to restaurants, include coconut, nutritional yeast and organic chicken breast dehydrated with fresh parsley.

Available at Erewhon or through a home delivery service.

Greek yogurt and kale

Freeze-dried “functional treats” from Whole Life Pet are made in small batches, using ingredients like Greek yogurt, blueberries and kale. The freeze-drying retains nutrition that might otherwise be lost to high-heat cooking. The brand also incorporates omega-oil-rich chia seeds and cranberries in its salmon-based cat food.

Available at Chateau Marmutt, Pet Food Express and Unleashed by Petco.

Custom meals

The convenience of healthy meals delivered to your doorstep comes from Ollie, which worked with canine nutritionists to develop an algorithm that customizes meal plans for your dog. The meals — chicken, beef or lamb — arrive in recyclable trays lined with compostable jute. The accompanying scoop will help you portion out the precise amount your dog needs.

Available through


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Actor Robert Patrick works to stay fit — but those 6 a.m. call times can be killer

The liquid-metal death robot in “Terminator 2” was virtually indestructible. But actor Robert Patrick, 58, feels the pain of being human.

“I’m developing more injuries as time goes by,” said Patrick, who played the liquid-metal T-1000 in 1991. He specifically mentioned an issue with the bursa in his right hip. “Every time I was jogging it flared up.”

A cortisone shot and stretching regimen under the guidance of an orthopedist helped, but he’s traded jogging for fast walking on a treadmill, set at an incline. “I walk about as fast as I used to jog anyway,” he said.

But there are other aspects of fitness that make Patrick as human as the next man: the demands of job and family make sticking to a regular regimen a challenge.

“I admire movie stars who are incredibly fit,” he said. “I know what it’s like to have six-pack abs, but it’s damn near impossible to maintain that all the time. My biggest challenge is staying active with the schedule I have.”

Patrick described working 12-hour days on the set of the CBS show “Scorpion,” which has its Season 4 premiere this Monday, and described how early he needs to rise to get in an hour-long workout and still be on set by 6 a.m.

“It’s a battle I don’t always win,” Patrick said of waking so early. In addition to the treadmill, he rides a stationary bike, uses a rowing machine, does martial arts on a heavy bag, and has free weights and a bench.

“If I didn’t have all that stuff at home, I don’t know when I’d do it,” he said.

Robert loves his job and is grateful for the work, and says the job itself can be a workout.

“The job is physically demanding,” he said. “There is not a lot of sitting.”

But there is action. He described repeated takes of sprinting — chasing a bad guy 20 years his junior — for one scene. Although there is a gym on set, it’s hard for Patrick to partake.

“I wear a suit on the show,” he said. “If I get too sweaty there is the process of the makeup and the hair again.”

For many an actor, the concept of endless access to trainers and personal chefs is a myth. “If I asked a trainer to show up at my house at 4 a.m., he’d say, ‘What?’”

Patrick faces many of the same challenges any working family man does, including the age-related owies.

“Football and baseball dominated my childhood,” he said. “I’ve been fit my whole life, but as I get older it’s about dealing with injuries.”

And since he can’t train like he did in his Terminator days, “I find myself more focused on diet to stay lean and mean.”

A multitude of surveys state the No. 1 reason people give for not exercising is lack of time. Patrick still manages, but not at the level he’d prefer.

“If I had my druthers, I’d go back to Gold’s Gym and do the cross-training with weights I used to do when I was on the CBS show ‘The Unit.’ I put on a lot of muscle and really enjoyed that.”

But for right now, he said of starring on “Scorpion,” “I want to fit in the suits they make for me.”

Fell is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of


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West Nile virus has killed 8 Californians this year. In parts of L.A. County, the risk is especially high

Julie Shepherd ended up in the hospital earlier this month after her neighbor found her on the floor of her West Covina home, unable to move.

Shepherd, 84, was paralyzed and had lost the ability to speak. Doctors diagnosed her illness as West Nile virus.

Humans contract the virus through a mosquito bite. There’s no vaccine or cure for the disease, so Shepherd’s family could only wait to see if she recovered on her own.

“Other than treating the symptoms, there’s no treatment,” said Halie Griffin, Shepherd’s granddaughter. “[The doctors] told us that within 10 to 15 days either you’ll see improvement, or you won’t.”

Shepherd was unable to fight off the virus and died Monday.

West Nile virus has killed three people in Los Angeles County this year. It’s the deadliest mosquito-borne disease in California. Though most people with West Nile virus don’t have symptoms, a small number experience brain damage that can be permanent or fatal.

L.A. County officials are warning residents to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites, especially since West Nile cases tend to be highest in September.

“Everybody needs to be concerned,” said Dr. Benjamin Schwartz, deputy director of the L.A. County public health department’s acute communicable disease program. “This is really the peak season for West Nile in Los Angeles County.”

Communities across L.A. County are home to people who’ve contracted the virus as well as the mosquitoes that transmit it.

But residents of Los Feliz, Glendale, Atwater Village and the San Fernando Valley are in particular danger this year, experts say, because so many cases have been reported in those areas.

“If there’s one case in a city, it’s very likely there will be additional cases in that city in the next month,” Schwartz said.

174 Californians infected this year, eight dead

West Nile virus comes to California every year but often gets less attention than newer diseases, like Zika, in part because it’s been such a constant threat. There have been cases of West Nile, which originated in Africa, in the state every year for the last 15 years.

West Nile virus lives in birds, and mosquitoes become infected when they bite those birds. Humans contract the illness when bitten by those mosquitoes.

Nationwide, people typically begin falling sick in the summer as mosquito populations boom and decrease in the winter when mosquitoes stop breeding. West Nile has been diagnosed in 48 states this year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In California, 174 people have been found to have West Nile virus this year, including eight who have died, according to state data released Friday. By the end of last year’s West Nile season, 442 people had fallen sick and 19 had died.

Most people who get West Nile don’t have any symptoms or suffer for a few days from a fever, vomiting or a rash. But one out of every 150 people develops serious problems, including swelling of the brain or meningitis, vision loss, coma or paralysis that can last several weeks — or become permanent.

People 50 and older or whose immune systems are compromised are most likely to suffer from these severe consequences, but every year a few younger people also experience them, Schwartz said.

Shepherd developed this severe form of West Nile, called neuroinvasive disease.

Griffin said her grandmother was an active 84-year-old who lived alone in a house in West Covina. She’d never had a heart attack, stroke or cancer. She took tai chi and water aerobics classes every week.

Two weeks before she was hospitalized, she complained of being tired, Griffin said, but her family didn’t think much of it.

“‘Grandma, you’re 84 years old, feel free to take a nap in the afternoon,” Griffin, 37, remembered saying.

But then Shepherd stopped answering her phone. When her family couldn’t reach her, they asked a neighbor to enter the house, where she found Shepherd lying on the floor, disoriented.

Hours later, Shepherd was unable to move at all and seemed as though she couldn’t recognize people, Griffin said. Tests came back positive for West Nile.

Shepherd had a garden in her backyard, which could have bred mosquitoes. Health officials have also found mosquitoes that tested positive for West Nile virus at a park near her house.

‘People don’t understand how prevalent it is’

Every year there are mosquitoes in every city in the San Gabriel Valley carrying West Nile virus, said Jason Farned, operations manager for the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District.

Griffin said that since her grandmother fell ill, she’s been talking to friends and neighbors about West Nile. Many people have never heard of it, or don’t know it can be fatal, she said.

“It’s definitely not a new thing, but for some reason people don’t understand how prevalent it is,” she said. “I didn’t until it happened to my grandma.”

Officials say that though 80 West Nile cases have been reported in L.A. County this year, the real number is probably in the thousands, since most people exhibit no symptoms and thus don’t go to a doctor to get tested.

Where in L.A. County is the highest risk?

Health officials say that cities where people have already fallen sick are most likely to have more cases in the coming months, Schwartz said.

West Nile cases have been reported in the San Gabriel Valley, Antelope Valley, the Pomona area, Torrance, the San Fernando Valley, Glendale and Los Feliz.

Experts recommend wearing insect repellent when outside, especially at dawn and dusk when the mosquitoes that spread West Nile are most active.

Homeowners also should clear out standing water from flower pots or fountains, which can breed mosquitoes, and make sure check their pool pumps are working so there isn’t stagnant water in which insects can breed.

On Wednesday, mosquito control workers visited homes in downtown Glendale and in Los Feliz to spread the word about the increased risk of West Nile there, said Levy Sun, spokesman for the Greater Los Angeles Vector Control District, which oversees insect control in those regions.

Testing shows that there are abnormally high numbers of mosquitoes carrying West Nile in Glendale, Los Feliz, Atwater Village and Elysian Valley, he said.

“It may seem silly to some people to worry about mosquito bites,” Sun said. “But no one forgets when they or a family member becomes sick with West Nile virus.”

To read the article in Spanish, click here

Health roundup: Some documentaries to help you cope, feel better and relax

They might not typically be the reason you go to the multiplex on a Saturday night. But these upcoming documentaries serve as reminders to live healthier, take a breath, and to be good to ourselves and those around us.

Zen master

Benedict Cumberbatch lent his considerable vocal prowess to the narration of “Walk With Me,” which provides a peek into the life of Zen master Thich Nhát Hanh at his secluded Plum Village monastery outside France’s Bordeaux region.

The film, which had its Los Angeles premiere in early September, is directed by Marc J. Francis and Max Pugh. The scenery is sublime, the messages uplifting and just the act of watching it will make you want to slow down.

Info: The movie is currently being screened via Theatrical On Demand, which allows people to host a screening. There is one Nov. 7 in Calabasas. Information and tickets about the screening.

Thrive and survive

Irvine-based Pedram Shojai, founder of wellness site and self-described “urban monk,” distills his fascination with conscious capitalism into “Prosperity” by setting out to discover “sustainable ways for us all to thrive.”

He follows the founder of a nutritional supplement brand as she tries to implement a fair trade deal for an indigenous tribe near Panama and talks to companies that believe in a “for benefit” model — such as Studio Movie Grill cinemas, which offer screenings specifically for special-needs children.

Info: “Prosperity” will be screened at the Music Hall, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., in Beverly Hills until Oct. 5. Thereafter on DVD and online.

"Urban monk" and filmmaker Pedram Shojai explores ways to preserve the environment in his new film, "Prosperity."
“Urban monk” and filmmaker Pedram Shojai explores ways to preserve the environment in his new film, “Prosperity.” (Prosperity)

Survival stories

In “Heal,” medical experts and scientists join people who were afflicted with serious diseases to discuss the body’s innate ability to heal. Writer and director Kelly Noonan Gores said she felt compelled to make the film after following the work of the likes of Deepak Chopra, biologist Bruce Lipton and author Anita Moorjani, whose 2014 bestselling memoir “Dying to Be Me” documents her recovery from serious cancer.

“I was fascinated with how intelligent the human body is, how it’s designed to repair itself,” said Noonan Gores. “I wanted to sit down with these teachers and see what was truly possible. It feels like so many people are sick these days, and that they are ready to hear this information.”

Info: Oct. 20 at Laemmle’s Monica Film Center, 1332 2nd St., Santa Monica, and through hosted screenings. The film will be released on VOD platforms Dec. 5.

Deepak Chopra is one of many experts interviewed about the mind-body connection in an upcoming documentary "Heal."
Deepak Chopra is one of many experts interviewed about the mind-body connection in an upcoming documentary “Heal.” (Heal)

Help for young girls

A documentary looking at the self-esteem and anxiety issues faced by girls won’t be out till next year, but in the meantime, mini-episodes of “self(i.e.)” leading up to the feature have started streaming on YouTube. Sarah Dubbeldam, CEO of Darling Media, partnered with fashion brand Aerie by American Eagle to create the content after she realized that every girl she encountered — as young as 8 — held themselves to the impossible (and retouched) standards of beauty they see on social media.

“They’re aspiring to standards based on a deception, to something that’s not real,” said Dubbeldam, a former model. “There are studies that show anxiety has surpassed depression in women because of the pressures from social media. It’s a pervasive problem that needs to be fixed from the inside out.”

Between now and the end of the year, there will be 10 mini-episodes, which run a few minutes each.

Info: The videos are available on Darling’s YouTube channel.

Blogger Nike Ojekunle is among the personalities filmed talking about self-image and self-esteem in a new series of mini-episodes from Darling Media.
Blogger Nike Ojekunle is among the personalities filmed talking about self-image and self-esteem in a new series of mini-episodes from Darling Media. (Darling Media)


Yes, you can eat your way to beautiful skin

10 high-tech gadgets to help you get to sleep

How ‘Scandal’s’ Katie Lowes hid her psoriasis

7 steps to making your health your No. 1 priority

He lost 84 pounds in four months — and kept it off