It's easier than ever to invest in the stock market.
According to a recent survey from Gallup, 58% of Americans are invested in stocks, either through a retirement plan or individual ownership. That's nearly double the 32% in 1989.
The peak of stock ownership was in 2007, when 65% of Americans were invested in the market. The financial collapse in 2008 scared lots of folks away... and clearly many of them still haven't come back.
But for the past few years, it seems like everyone has been talking about their investments. And everyone is an "expert," from hacks doling out dangerous advice on TikTok to the herd of Reddit traders who chase "meme stocks."
Some of these folks get lucky... But with more than 2,300 companies trading on the New York Stock Exchange, your chances of finding a dud are higher than finding something that will earn you 1,000% gains. As any good investor knows, avoiding losers is just as important as finding winners.
But sifting through which stocks to buy and which to avoid is a daunting task for almost everyone...
More than a decade ago, I met one of the smartest guys I know – so smart, in fact, that after our first meeting, I would have given him all of my money to manage. (He wasn't managing money, but I'd have had no trouble trusting him with mine.)
For years, Joel Litman's research was reserved for only the highest echelons of investment management. There's a reason why Joel's work is now read by nine of the top 10 global investment houses... and 180 of the world's top 300 money managers. Folks I know have paid $20,000 to $30,000 a month for his research... far above what we ever charged at Goldman Sachs (GS). Now, he shares it with readers all over the world.
Joel has an enviable track record. In the aftermath of the Great Recession, he publicly exposed a list of companies he predicted were doomed for massive losses.
Sure enough, 50 of the 57 companies he named fell in price.
Today, Joel says a critical moment in the markets is approaching that will send some stocks soaring... while crushing others by up to 90%.
According to Joel, "the next six weeks could either be the most devastating – or potentially lucrative – of your investing life to date. To end up on the right side, you must take decisive action with your wealth now."
He'll reveal all the details on May 10. Plus, he'll give away the name and ticker of a stock he predicts will lose 80% of its value – 100% free – to everyone who signs up to attend.
Now, let's get into some of the things you've had on your minds this week. As always, keep sending your comments, questions, and topic suggestions to [email protected]. We read every e-mail.
Q: What do you think about slow-churned ice cream, which claims to have less fat/calories? – T.M.
A: There's a belief that low-calorie ice cream is a healthy alternative to traditional ice cream. It isn't.
The reasons why vary depending on the brand of ice cream. The problem with ice creams like Halo Top or Enlightened is that they use artificial sweeteners like Stevia or sugar alcohols like erythritol.
Erythritol can cause annoying symptoms like gas, diarrhea, and headaches... And more concerning, there is no evidence of its long-term safety. It has only been around since the mid-'90s (remember Olean and Olestra?).
And slow-churned ice cream might have fewer calories and less fat, but the sugar is the same. For example, Dreyer's classic vanilla has 17 grams of sugar per serving. The "healthier" slow-churned version also has 17 grams of sugar. Longtime readers know sugar is one of the greatest risks to our long-term health. White sugar triggers chronic inflammation, which contributes to things like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
We also know that sweeteners and sugars can lead to weight gain. When our bodies taste something sweet, they expect calories. If you don't consume calories, you're left hungry and wanting to eat more. Having fat in your ice cream helps you feel fuller as well.
So despite having fewer calories, fat, and sometimes little to no "real" sugar, it's not healthier than traditional ice cream.
Regular, full-fat ice cream, particularly types like gelato with less sugar, will keep you feeling full instead. Do what I do and treat yourself to real ice cream, just once in a while. It will be much more satisfying. And share it with friends to help cut the calories you'd get from a large serving for yourself.
Q: Doc, you recommend 150 minutes of exercise per week for most people. I run and lift for 400 minutes a week over six days. Do you feel that is harmful at my age of 71? I read that too much exercise increases free radicals. Your thoughts? – E.P.
A: Thanks for writing in. And I commend you on your dedication to keeping your body moving!
Generally, getting a minimum of 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise or 150 minutes per week of moderately intense exercise is recommended for folks in your age group. And it's terrific that you're including strength training in your regimen, especially since it builds muscles that can prevent falls.
As for whether that's too much exercise, I'd say you're fine... A cohort study published last year looked at the exercise habits and mortality outcomes of roughly 116,000 Americans over a 30-year period. Researchers found that compared with sedentary participants, the folks who worked out at moderate intensity from 300 to 600 minutes each week had the best all-cause mortality outcome, lowering their risk of early death by 26% to 31%.
Also, make sure to listen to your body. If you feel sore after weight training one day, give that muscle group a break for one to three days. Studies have shown that adding "rest days" to a strength-training regimen is crucial for letting your muscles fully recover – and get stronger, too. That's because intense exercise causes microscopic muscle tears that our bodies repair during rest days. Plus, you'll avoid overuse injuries that could derail your future workout plans for that week.
Regarding your question on free radicals, you're absolutely correct. We've known for a couple of decades that, yes, high-intensity or prolonged exercise does generate more free radicals.
But don't let that keep you from exercising. The benefits of exercise – including my favorite high-intensity interval training, or "HIIT" – far outweigh the risks from extra free radicals. Free radicals are still necessary for fighting off foreign invaders and keeping cell growth in check. It's just at high concentrations that they become hazardous to your health.
What's more, scientists believe that the temporary increase in free radicals from exercise improves insulin resistance (and prevents Type 2 diabetes). It's even thought to help with how your muscles adapt to endurance exercises, too (like becoming less easily fatigued).
And, of course, you know that antioxidants counteract oxidative stress from too many free radicals. Exercise increases levels of an antioxidant called glutathione that our bodies naturally produce. A healthy diet full of colorful vegetables and fruits will supply you with additional important antioxidants and vitamins. And don't forget to get enough sleep, which ramps up your body's defenses against oxidative stress.
What We're Reading...
- Did you miss it? No, sugar alternatives aren't good for you.
- Something different: Gmail is adding blue checkmarks to verified accounts.
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
May 5, 2023