Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

Exercise Your Liver

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By now, the health benefits of exercise have been fairly well established in the scientific literature. In fact, there’s very little controversy or debate regarding the general value of physical activity on everything from cardiovascular to mental health. Even so, research into the therapeutic effects of exercise is ongoing and continues to reveal intriguing, new applications. One of the more exciting findings of late is the role which aerobic exercise plays in the promotion of liver health.
The liver is the primary organ that assists the body to process toxins. In addition, it aids the digestive and immune systems, filters blood, stores nutrients and much, much more. Excessive alcohol use, exposure to environmental chemicals, medications, obesity, poor diet and viral infections are established culprits that can damage and/or stress the liver. Herbal remedies and nutritional supplements are frequently recommended and used by consumers and practitioners alike in an attempt to protect the liver from such insults. And, in some instances, there is a scientific rationale for using certain herbal extracts, including cinnamon, milk thistle and synbiotics (i.e. pre- and probiotics). This is especially true for those living with a relatively common liver condition known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
A review in the November 2014 issue of the European Journal of Applied Physiology reports that, “regular, moderate physical activity enhances liver health” in part by improving blood flow to the liver, lowering inflammation, supporting hepatic carbohydrate metabolism and, ultimately, lowering fat build up in this vital organ. In one study, walking on a treadmill for a total of 40 minutes (5 minute warm up, 30 minute walking, 5 minute cool down) three-times weekly was enough to reduce various inflammatory markers and elevated liver enzymes in patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) – an inflammatory disease that causes liver scarring and can lead to cirrhosis. Other trials have concluded that non-competitive aerobic training is also an effective adjunct for those living with chronic hepatitis C. As a bonus, improvements in insulin sensitivity, oxidative capacity and psychological well-being were noted in much of the research. These findings provide adequate cause to recommend moderate aerobic exercise for virtually anyone who is interested in properly caring for their liver.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Problem With Fruit Juice



Fruit juice is available year-round, affordable, convenient, and kids love it. Tropicana, Minute Maid, and other juice brands have spent decades educating us that fruit juice is just as healthy as fruit.
It worked! USDA stats place fruit drinks and juice as one of the top 10 calorie sources in children today. Kids and adults up to age 30 consume half of their recommended fruit intake as juice.
Unfortunately, getting your daily fruit in liquid form is not a healthy habit.
  • According to the USDA, increased consumption of even 100% fruit juice is associated with higher body weight in children.
  • A recent study published in Apetite shows that adults who consume fruit juice on a daily basis have higher blood pressure than those who do so only occasionally.
  • Fruit juice is high in sugar, but low in fiber, which is “juiced out” during production. A cup of orange juice has a similar amount of sugar as a Coke – 6 teaspoons worth.
  • In general, consuming calories in liquid form can easily lead to over-consumption; chewing takes more time and effort compared to gulping.
But what about the vitamins and minerals available in juice? Surely they are healthy, right? Many of the antioxidants available in a whole fruit do not make it through the processing phase into juice. In some cases, vitamin C is actually added to orange juice!
Our Recommendations:
1. Limit your juice intake to once in a while. Treat it as … a treat.
2. When you do drink juice, make sure it is 100% fruit juice – the label should state so.
3. Opt for freshly squeezed juice, not “from concentrate”.
4. Drink juice in small amounts – half a cup is a good serving size.
5. Don’t drink juice to hydrate – use water for that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Guidelines to Help You Get the Most From Reading Studies



  • Type of study. As stated above, the study has to be an RCT. An abstract won’t always come straight out and call a study an RCT, so look for the key word randomized. If you can’t find it, it’s not an RCT and the results aren’t worth your time.
  • Were the researchers blinded? Single blinding means the researchers did not know whether the participants they were testing belonged to the test or control group and is an absolute requirement for reducing bias and establishing internal validity. Like using an RCT, this is a necessity and the results of a study that doesn’t use it shouldn’t be trusted.
  • Who were the participants? Remember, we’re looking for good external validity here. Does the study population represent the general public, you or your athletes, or a group that you don’t even work with? If the participants don’t sound like you or your athletes, the results won’t necessarily apply to you.
  • What was the level of training of the participants? One of the golden rules of exercise research is to never, ever use novice athletes. Novice athletes will respond positively to just about anything. Seriously, never buy into the results of a study that used novice athletes.
  • What is the difference between the test and control groups? This is going to tell you what the study actually examined, and it’s not uncommon for a poorly designed study to end with the results reflecting something completely different from what was intended. Was the topic of the study the back squat, but the results were determined by testing leg press or leg extension weight? Seriously, this stuff is out there.

This all may sound a bit cynical, but in all honesty, that’s the scientific way. You need to examine everything closely, ask hard questions, and be a difficult sell on any idea. To do anything else is to be a sucker for every fad that comes along. Practice looking at studies, asking these questions, and thinking critically about the quality of the study and meaning of the results. Keep at it and you’ll be crunching through studies like a pro in no time.