Monday, October 20, 2014

A Simple Protocol for Testing Your Work Capacity

few years ago, I had an opportunity to develop a training program for a large joint-military unit (Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force). Fortunately, the only requirement of the commanding officer was that I use functional fitness training concepts to prepare his troops for deployment.

Unfortunately, it was difficult to establish initial fitness baselines because each branch had it’s own individual physical training test. So, in order to simplify the process, I developed a test using minimal equipment that provides a set of objective data points.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

Your Apples Are A Year Old

Written by
http://www.foodrenegade.com

The produce you buy in the supermarket or grocery store is not fresh. With many items, like spinach, the leaves may have been plucked no more than a few weeks ago. But with many others, like apples, the fruit probably sat in cold storage for a year before making its way to the supermarket.
I thought this was common knowledge.
But in a recent Facebook discussion in which many readers chimed in with incredulous statements like, “A year old? No way!” I realized I was wrong. This information is not common knowledge.
But it should be.
Here in the U.S. apples generally ripen between August and September. They pick the apples when they’re slightly unripe, treat them with a chemical called 1-methylcyclopropene, wax them, box them, stack them on pallets, and keep them in cold storage warehouses for an average of 9-12 months.
I guess we should be grateful. It used to be that rather than being sprayed with 1-methylcyclopropene (also known as 1-MCP), cold storage apples were sprayed with fungicide.
From the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, we learn this:
Apples not intended for fresh market are stored at low temperatures, with low levels of oxygen and high levels of carbon dioxide. While this slows the apples’ natural production of ethylene and its effects, fungicides must often be applied to prevent fungal rots from taking hold. But since its commercial debut in 2002 under the name “SmartFresh,” 1-MCP has in some cases diminished the need for such treatment.
(source)
In fact, the development and use of 1-MCP has made it common for apples to sit even longer in cold storage. That’s because, according the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service,
On average, treated apples stayed firm for 3 to 6 months longer than untreated controls when placed in controlled-atmosphere storage conditions. Red Delicious apples, for example, stayed crunchier 2 to 3 weeks longer than untreated controls after removal from storage.
(source)

Just how long are apples stored before being sold?

After learning that apples that have sat in cold storage for 12 months are commonly called “birthday apples” within the industry, one Australian investigative news organization decided to do a test to see just how old the apples on their grocery store shelves really were. They collected samples from major Australian supermarkets and sent them to the Sydney Postharvest Laboratory for testing.
The results?
Analysis showed the Woolworths samples were about 10 months old while the Norton Street and Coles products had spent 9 months in storage since being harvested.
(source)

But what about in the U.S.?

According to Martin Lindstrom, author of Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy, the average supermarket apple is 14 months old. This is unsurprising to me, but may be shocking to you.
That’s because my husband used to manage a cold-storage warehouse for Harry & David when we lived in Oregon. He saw first hand how their “fresh fruit” was handled — from harvest in the nearby valleys to specialized climate control storage.
What he saw inspired me to never want to eat a grocery store fruit again, long before I ever became the “Real Foodie” that I am today. I wish I could go into details, but honestly? I don’t want to be sued!

Should you care about the age of your produce?

If you want to eat apples all year long, regardless of the season, maybe you’re glad to hear that modern engineering and science have mastered the art of keeping apples “fresh” for a year or more.
Yet at what cost?
The obvious differences in flavor and texture between fresh apples and stored apples aside, what’s so bad about eating produce that’s this old?
Nutrients.
Aside from dietary fiber and sugar, apples are a rich source of polyphenols — antioxidants that can help fight cancer and improve post-workout recovery by reducing muscle fatigue.
Yet according to this study, antioxidant activity in apples gradually drops off after three months of storage in the cold. An apple stored for nearly a year? It will have almost no antioxidants remaining in it whatsoever.
This is also true of most vegetables and fruits: the less fresh they are, the less nutrients they have.

So, how do you get the most nutrients from your apples?

Buy fresh. Don’t assume you’ll get apples year round. Buy in season. Buy from a local farmer when possible. Once you buy your apples, store them on your counter top rather than the fridge.
Quickly eat or remove bruised apples as the old saying is most certainly true, “one bad apple spoils the bunch.”
Don’t assume that buying organic apples will automatically mean you’re buying fresh apples either. Although SmartFresh (1-MCP) is not currently approved for use on organic apples, organic growers still use approved non-synthetic fungicides and controlled atmosphere cold storage to achieve a similar effect.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ginseng for Colds and Flu

Two populations that are most vulnerable to the common cold and influenza are young children and the elderly. Fortunately, a special extract of North American ginseng is building a strong reputation as a safe and natural way to change that trend. It seems that the extract in question, known commercially as COLD-fX, contains high levels of a group of substances known as polysaccharides. These naturally occurring chemicals have been shown to support the body’s immune system by increasing the numbers and activity of natural killer cells, macrophages and t-lymphocytes – major players in various stages of the immune response. (1,2)
In March 2006, a study investigating the effects of COLD-fX on “acute respiratory illness” (ARI) appeared in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 43 healthy seniors were given a 200 mg capsule of N. American ginseng extract or a placebo twice a day for a total of 4 months. After one month of treatment, all the participants were also administered an influenza vaccine. The volunteers were asked to document their experiences for any signs of respiratory illness and take note of any adverse effects that might be due to either “medication”. Here’s what the study results revealed:
  • No adverse reactions were reported in the placebo and treatment volunteers.
  • During the first two months of the trial, both groups reported similar outcomes.
  • The second half of the study demonstrated a 48% reduction in ARIs in those using ginseng and a 55% decrease in ARI symptom duration.
The authors of the study concluded that, “Daily COLD-fX administration can thus be a safe, natural therapeutic means of prevention of ARI in healthy seniors”. (3)
A larger trial, presented in the journal Canadian Family Physician, examined the impact of N. American ginseng or a placebo on a total of 279 volunteers of all ages (18-65). The one common trait they possessed was having had at least 2 colds during the previous year. Approximately half of the group was given 200 mg of N. American ginseng twice daily. The remainder took an identical looking placebo. Once again, the duration of the trial was 4 months.
The results of this investigation clearly indicate that the ginseng users had a lower incidence of colds, fewer instances of multiple colds, less severe symptoms and fewer days where they exhibited any cold symptoms. As in the previous study, no side effects were noted. (4)
Ginseng’s effects may be even more profound when it’s pitted against influenza. Two trials published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society point to an “89% relative risk reduction of acute respiratory infections” during influenza season. What’s encouraging about these studies is that they were shorter in length (8 and 12 weeks) and involved volunteers with an average age of over 80. This may indicate rapid immune boosting effects and a broad degree of safety, even in populations that may be more vulnerable to adverse reactions. (5)
There is a very real safety concern about giving young children any type of preventive medicine, natural or otherwise. Therefore, a toxicity experiment was conducted and appeared in the August 2008 issue of the journal Pediatrics. It studied the relative safety of COLD-fX in a group of 46 children (aged 3-12) who developed upper respiratory infections. No adverse effects were noted in the children given a low or moderate dose of the ginseng extract or the inert placebo. (6)


All of the above research was conducted on North American ginseng. But other varieties of this root, such as Korean red ginseng, may also promote a vital immune system. However, different kinds of ginseng may impact immunity differently. For instance, Korean red ginseng is theorized to keep the body’s defenses strong with a stress reducing effect. Ginseng has historically been known as an adaptogen, a substance that aids the body to adapt to physical and psychological stressors. Researchers in Matsuyama, Japan have recently determined that this stress adaptation can possibly support efforts to prevent the common cold and flu. (7)
Finally, I want to mention an Italian study from way back in 1996. It’s an example of ginseng being used as part of an integrative approach. 227 volunteers were given either a once daily ginseng supplement (Ginsana G – 100 mg) or a placebo for a total of 12 weeks. At the 4 week mark, they all were administered an influenza vaccine. Those receiving the ginseng were nearly three times less likely to catch a cold or flu in the subsequent 2 months, as compared to the placebo + vaccine group. Blood tests revealed that antibodies rose significantly more in the ginseng users, as did natural killer cell activity – two markers of enhanced immune function.(8)
The issue of whether or not to get the flu vaccine is shrouded in controversy. The decision needs to be carefully examined on a case by case basis. I personally choose not to have a yearly “flu shot”, but from here on out, I will strongly consider using ginseng during those times when my immune system may need some additional support.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Energy Drinks Lead to Insomnia in Athletes

by

 http://blog.fooducate.com 

 

We’ve written numerous times in the past about the potential dangers of energy drinks, especially as it relates to teens. The excessive amounts of caffeine consumed have led kids to suffer from caffeine poisoning. There have been several deaths in the US, and multiple emergency room admittances due to energy drink consumption.

A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition looked at the effect of energy drinks on athletes. It reveals that they too suffer from unwanted side effects of these drinks. Athletes were given energy drinks or placebos before a sporting event. Their performance during the event (speed, height of jump, etc…) was measured, as well as their subjective feeling about it.

While the athletes did perform slightly better, and felt it too, there was a problem. They suffered from insomnia, nervousness, and activeness in the hours following consumption. These are well documented side effects of caffeine over-consumption.
What’s wrong with coffee?

 

Monday, October 13, 2014

How Far Is Too Far For Kids to Run?

by Ian McMahan

 But as the rate of childhood obesity continues to rise and the general aerobic fitness of children and adolescents continues to fall, another trend has emerged: Many of the children that still play sports often do so in excess.  While a great deal of attention has been devoted to the demanding year-round format of competitive youth baseball and soccer,  an increasing number of young athletes are also training for and competing in long-distance endurance events.  These young athletes are doing more than kids’ “fun runs” and 5K’s—they’re running marathons and Olympic-distance triathlons. Notably, the Students Run Los Angeles marathon-training program had more than 16,000 young marathon finishers between 1987 and 2005.

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http://www.theatlantic.com