Thursday, October 30, 2014

Body Composition and Bone Density Trends in Distance Runners


Most runners know they need to develop strength in order to excel at running and reduce the risk of injuries. But size can sometimes come with strength, which can reduce running performance if taken too far.

In a recent Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research paper, investigators examined the role of muscle size in running performance and injury prevention.

What the research says:
  • Bone health was significantly improved in subjects with more lean muscle.
  • Researchers recommended resistance training and plyometrics for runners.


Endurance sports have a high degree of repetitive action that can wear on the joints and bones of the athletes. Running in particular is well known for this effect, due to the constant impact with the ground.

The flip side of this phenomenon is that the impact associated with running also improves bone density. The Journal study was interested in the interplay between muscle size, bone quality, and body composition in distance runners.

Study Design

36 Division I male and female cross country runners were examined for this study. Their stress fracture histories were taken, and their best performances were measured after the season was over. These values were compared to several measures taken in the lab. Bone density and composition were analyzed, as well as total lean mass, muscle size in the leg, and fat mass.


The researchers discovered numerous physical correlations that we would expect. For example, more bodyweight corresponded with more lean muscle mass, and lean mass was positively correlated with improvements in bone mineral density and composition in both men and women. However, the number of correlations that yielded improvements in performance were few.

The researchers also noted the difference between genders. In the women, none of the studied variables correlated to performance. For the male runners, there were a few interesting relations between the data. Higher fat mass was positively correlated with performance in 10k races, and a higher percentage of body fat correlated to better performance in 5k races. More body fat wasn’t correlated with higher bodyweight in this study.


The results showed that bone health was significantly improved by larger and stronger muscles. Further, it takes physical preparation to achieve the level of the participants in the study, which is benefited by strength training. To that end, the researchers of this study recommended resistance training and plyometrics for runners.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

Birth season affects your mood in later life

 New research shows that the season you are born has a significant impact on your risk of developing mood disorders. People born at certain times of year may have a greater chance of developing certain types of affective temperaments, which in turn can lead to mood disorders (affective disorders). This work is being presented at the European College of CNP Congress in Berlin.

The group found the following statistically significant trends:
· cyclothymic temperament (characterized by rapid, frequent swings between sad and cheerful moods), is significantly higher in those born in the summer, in comparison with those born in the winter.
· Hyperthymic temperament -- a tendency to be excessively positive -- were significantly higher in those born in spring and summer.
· Those born in the winter were significantly less prone to irritable temperament than those born at other times of the year.
· Those born in autumn show a significantly lower tendency to depressive temperament than those born in winter.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Form Burger Patties as Gently as Possible for a More Satisfying Crust

by Melanie Pinola

By "as gently as possible," America's Test Kitchen means packing the ground meat as if you're "cradling a newborn baby."
They explain on NPR:
Every time you touch, grind, move, look at ground meat, it starts to release a protein that's really, really sticky called myosin. ... Basically, when you grind beef, you're damaging the meat fibers — so the more you damage it or touch it or pack it, the more of that sticky protein is going to be formed. And the sticky protein sometimes might not be a bad thing — for instance, [for] something like meatloaf, where you want a bit more cohesion. But for a burger, where you're going to bite into it, you want it to almost just hang together. ...
We kind of bundle the meat into mounds and then very gently pack the meat into patties. By "pack," I really mean it's ... hands-off — it's like you're cradling a newborn baby, almost. You have to be very, very gentle with it. The best part of that is the surface of the burger itself is not completely smooth — it's got all these crags and crevices in it. So when you go to cook it, you're going to have a really nice crust that forms on the sides of the beef.
If you're going to go through all the trouble of grinding your own meat, as you should, follow through with gentle handling to keep the burger tender but crusty on the outside.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Is Your Supermarket Sabotaging Your Diet?


America has become an obesogneic country. That’s because everywhere you turn to, unhealthy food and beverage are within arms reach. Supermarkets have become part of the problem.
In a recent study conducted by the University of Massachusetts Medical School, 240 obese adults from the greater Boston area participated in a weight loss intervention that focused on increasing fiber intake. The participants were highly motivated, but motivation was not enough to succeed. The offerings at the local grocery store had a profound effect on the chances of success:
“…even among these highly motivated patients, those who had a shorter trip to the nearest grocery store with a good selection of healthy foods did better in boosting their consumption of fiber and fruits and vegetables than those who had to travel farther for healthy foods, the researchers found.” Read more…
Around 40% of the supermarkets in the vicinity of the dieters did not have an adequate proportion of healthy fare such as fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grain foods. The researchers found a correlation between access to a “healthier” grocery store and success in the dietary intervention. Not surprising.
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), supermarkets set us up for failure at the checkout counter. It is basically a booby-trap for healthy eaters because nothing at the checkout can be considered even close to healthful. End-caps, the items sold at the ends of the aisles, usually tend to be junk foods as well.
Does the supermarket close to your home have a good selection of fresh produce and healthy foods? Do you choose to drive farther in order to purchase healthier food?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Citrus Juice, Vitamin C Give Staying Power To Green Tea Antioxidants


To get more out of your next cup of tea, just add juice.
A study found that citrus juices enable more of green tea's unique antioxidants to remain after simulated digestion, making the pairing even healthier than previously thought.
The study compared the effect of various beverage additives on catechins, naturally occurring antioxidants found in tea. Results suggest that complementing green tea with either citrus juices or vitamin C likely increases the amount of catechins available for the body to absorb.

"Although these results are preliminary, I think it's encouraging that a big part of the puzzle comes down to simple chemistry," said Mario Ferruzzi, assistant professor of food science at Purdue University and the study's lead author.
Catechins (pronounced KA'-teh-kins), display health-promoting qualities and may be responsible for some of green tea's reported health benefits, like reduced risk of cancer, heart attack and stroke. The problem, Ferruzzi said, is that catechins are relatively unstable in non-acidic environments, such as the intestines, and less than 20 percent of the total remains after digestion. 

"Off the bat you are eliminating a large majority of the catechins from plain green tea," Ferruzzi said. "We have to address this fact if we want to improve bodily absorption."  
Ferruzzi tested juices, creamers and other additives that are either commonly added to fresh-brewed tea or used to make ready-to-drink tea products by putting them through a model simulating gastric and small-intestinal digestion. Citrus juice increased recovered catechin levels by more than five times, the study found. Ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, used to increase shelf life in ready-to-drink products, increased recovered levels of the two most abundant catechins by sixfold and 13-fold, respectively.

The study, published this month in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, also found that soy, dairy and rice milk appeared to have moderate stabilizing effects. But Ferruzzi said the result is misleading; a chemical interaction between milk proteins and tea catechins apparently helps shelter the complex from degradation, a force likely overcome by enzymes within a healthy human digestive system.
Lemons and tea go even better together than their popularity might suggest. Lemon juice caused 80 percent of tea's catechins to remain, the study found. Following lemon, in terms of stabilizing power, were orange, lime and grapefruit juices. Ferruzzi said both vitamin C and citrus juices must interact with catechins to prevent their degradation in the intestines, although data made it clear that citrus juices have stabilizing effects beyond what would be predicted solely based on their vitamin C content.

"If you want more out of your green tea, add some citrus juice to your cup after brewing or pick a ready-to-drink product formulated with ascorbic acid," Ferruzzi said.
Ready-to-drink green tea products should optimally contain 100-200 mg of catechins, but oftentimes do not have sufficient levels of tea extract since some people do not like green tea's flavor, Ferruzzi said.
Although this study only examined green tea, Ferruzzi said he suspects that some of the results also could apply to black tea, which is produced by fermenting green tea. Many prefer black tea's flavor, although it contains lower total levels of catechins.

Studies have shown catechins from the green tea plant, Camellia sinensis, are able to detoxify toxic chemicals, inhibit cancer cell activity and stimulate production of immune-strengthening enzymes. Finding methods to improve uptake of these catechins may, therefore, be important in improving health, part of the study's goal, Ferruzzi said.
Ferruzzi currently is conducting an in vivo study, or study on a live organism, to quantify the ability of juices and vitamin C to increase levels of catechins in the intestines and bloodstream of animals and, by extension, in humans. He collaborates with the NIH-funded Purdue Botanicals Research Center on this project.
"This next study is designed to get us past the limitations imposed by our digestive model, which is really just a simple screening process that relies on preset physiology parameters," he said. "Human digestion is a lot more complicated."
To see if juices and vitamin C actually increase catechin absorption, researchers will have to find out if increased levels of intestinal catechins translate to higher levels of absorbed catechins in live animals and humans. They also will need to better document effects upon catechin metabolism in order to prove, for instance, that increased levels of absorbed catechins are not leveled off by metabolic factors, Ferruzzi said.
"This study tells us a lot of interesting things, but it raises many questions that have yet to be answered," he said.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Monday, October 20, 2014

More Magnesium


Many people aren’t getting enough magnesium (Mg) in their daily diets and through basic supplementation. Now, you might think you’re not one of those people. But, recent studies reveal that magnesium deficiency is surprisingly common. Sometimes it’s even present in otherwise healthy young adults and in those who take multivitamin/mineral supplements. What’s more, certain popular medications, including those used to treat gastric reflux or GERD often contribute to a lack of magnesium or hypomagnesemia.

When attempting to address sub-optimal magnesium levels, it’s vital to be aware of the richest food sources of this essential mineral. Simply put, unless you make it a point to seek out foods abundant in magnesium, you’ll likely fall short of the recommended daily value (DV) of 400 mg. To that end, I suggest you include more of the following items in your eating plan: almonds (20% DV/oz), black beans (30% DV/cup), cashews (19% DV/oz), chia seeds (23% DV/oz), flax seeds (21% DV/oz), pumpkin seeds (18% DV/oz), pure cocoa powder (35% DV/oz), Swiss chard (38% DV/cup), spinach (39% DV/cup) and sunflower seeds (23% DV/oz). Also of note, the legumes, nuts, seeds and vegetables mentioned above are all excellent sources of antioxidants, dietary fiber and numerous minerals and vitamins.

At one point or another, most of you have probably read about the countless health benefits associated with magnesium intake. But, it’s easy to forget why any given nutrient is essential for wellness. So, I want to highlight several recent publications that act as reminders about why we should strive to get enough Mg every single day. On the one hand, three current studies report that those who lack adequate magnesium are more likely candidates for bone fractures, heart disease and ischemic stroke. This points to the importance of addressing any latent deficiency. With respect to addressing deficiencies, four other trials report that normalizing magnesium levels via supplementation addresses multiple health risks such as excessive inflammation, high blood pressure, insulin resistance and poor physical capacity. In addition, supplementing with magnesium can, likewise, help with a broad range of chronic health conditions, including migraine headaches.
In closing, I want to address a question that is frequently posed to me. Which form of magnesium is best? There is no definitive answer. Generally speaking, I consider magnesium citrate an affordable, accessible and well-absorbed option. If cardiovascular health is a primary concern, I usually recommend magnesium taurate – a form of magnesium bound to taurine, an amino acid which may help regulate blood pressure and heart rhythm. Lately, there has also been a considerable amount of interest paid to a newly developed magnesium chelate known as magnesium threonate. This intriguing nutraceutical may support healthier age-related cognitive functioning. It’s expensive, but possibly worth the added cost for those in need. If you’re in good general health, no matter which form of magnesium you opt for, you should always strive to reach or surpass the 400 mg/day guideline. However, those with kidney disease or other serious medical conditions should always consult with their health care providers prior to supplementing with minerals such as magnesium and potassium.