Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Purple Potato

 Okinawan Purple Sweet Potato

They are white skinned with a deep, brilliant purple interior that becomes velvety smooth and incredibly sweet when baked. Even better, the purple pigment is due to the vast numbers of anthocyanins – the very same beneficial antioxidant pigments that provide blueberries their brilliant color and health benefits. According to this entirely unbiased source, Okinawan sweet potatoes contain 150% more anthocyanins than the same amount of blueberries. That sounds reasonable, and a good general rule is the purpler the potato (or bluer the berry), the greater the anthocyanin content.
Several studies show potential benefits to purple sweet potato anthocyanins: suppression of mouse brain inflammation; alleviation of brain aging; reduction in cognitive deficits, inflammation, and oxidative damage in aging mouse brains; potential suppression of neurodegenerative cell death, as in Alzheimer’s; protection against acetaminophen-induced liver damage in mice. In human males with borderline hepatitis, a beverage infused with purple sweet potato anthocyanins “significantly decreased the serum levels of hepatic biomarkers”. Plus, the long-lived, fairly healthy Okinawans have traditionally used Okinawan purple sweet potatoes as a staple food. All the evidence seems to support their status as a healthy, delicious tuber.
There’s another variety that looks extremely similar but has a lightly violet interior streaked with white. It’s starchier and far drier than the Okinawans, and it doesn’t taste nearly as good. If you go looking for Okinawan potatoes in Asian supermarkets (which is the only place I’ve been able to find them consistently), inspect them carefully before buying. I once saw an old Chinese woman at one of these places snap the end of each potato off with her fingernail to check the color inside; this method works well, is relatively inconspicuous, and it’s a good way to make sure you’re getting the true Okinawan sweet potato. Just look for the deep purple flesh.

You can find then at H-Mart in Burlington .They call them Purple Yams

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Food Control with Cinnamon and Vinegar

by Matt Cahil
Both vinegar and cinnamon are well publicized to help with blood sugar regulation. While the research for cinnamon in this area is fairly hit and miss, vinegar absolutely does appear to have genuine effects at helping clear blood sugar and promote glycogen storage in muscle. The effect of vinegar seemingly stems from its acetic acid content. Acetic acid is an organic substance containing an acetyl group which is fundamental to the metabolism of fat and carbohydrates. Acetyl groups are naturally occurring in the body, but are generally kept at low levels because the pH effects cell processes. Incidentally, it is this pH effect that is believed to be how acetic acid helps promote glycogen storage (by inhibiting glycolysis).
Researchers in Switzerland wanted to see if there’d be an additive effect from combining acetic acid with cinnamon. They investigated both the change in blood sugar and the opinions of the participants on satiety. What they found was that while the combination did acutely lower blood sugar within 15 minutes of ingesting the meal over control, the two-hour mark showed no difference. What was more interesting is that the satiety score of the combination was greater than that of the control in the short term. This could be of benefit to those who struggle to keep calorie intake moderate during dieting due to the feeling of emptiness you get after a few weeks of cutting. I know from personal experience that vinegar can be of great benefit during difficult dieting days (try saying that fast) so I am interested in combining cinnamon to this.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Metabolic Syndrome: Silent Stalker

One in six adult Americans has a medical condition that doubles the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.  It's called "Metabolic Syndrome" and most people affected with it don't know they have it.  It also doubles the risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke, and increases the risk of death from any cause by 50%.  Could you have it?
It's not hard to diagnose if you know your blood pressure, waist size, and your blood levels of triglycerides and HDL cholesterol.

You have Metabolic Syndrome if you have three out of the following five criteria:
  1. High blood pressure
  2. Low HDL level (under 40 mg/dl for a man, under 50 for a woman)
  3. Triglycerides over 150 mg/dl
  4. Waist size over 40 inches for a man, over 35 for a woman
  5. Fasting blood sugar over 100 mg/dl
If you've ever had a blood test called a lipid panel, your doctor has your HDL and triglyceride levels on file.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Acupuncture: Reversing the Stressful Effects of Running

  My first direct exposure came following a hard marathon in Tochigi, Japan, in November 2006. Looking for a post-race massage, I found that organizers were instead offering complimentary post-race acupuncture treatments. I decided to give it a go and was pleasantly surprised by the experience; a flicker of pain as the needles made contact, a dull pressure as the acupuncturist tapped the needles in position and then the sensations fading to a feeling of relaxation. A year later, I suffered a major injury to my right thigh, which showed no signs of improvement after nearly six months of medical and massage treatments.  I turned to acupuncture and after only two-and-a-half months, was back to the point of running one of my fastest half marathons. My thigh injury has never recurred, and acupuncture has become a regular part of my training regimen.

Despite anecdotal evidence such as my own experience, acupuncture remains relatively uncommon as a means of treatment for runners in North America. Whether it is because of its invasive nature or lack of rigorous scientific methodology, acupuncture’s benefits compared to massage, chiropractic and other forms of alternative treatment are little known in the West. In Japan, acupuncture is as common as massage in treating the ailments that afflict marathoners. Idaten, a Tokyo clinic that offers acupuncture alongside massage and physical therapy, treats the country’s best professional and university runners as well as amateurs. “Roughly 60-70% of our clients are runners,” says the clinic’s director, Jiro Konno. “Many of the elite runners get acupuncture treatments twice a week, but even the amateur runners we treat come in once a week.”
Despite these differences, the three practitioners agree that both Chinese and Japanese methods have benefits for runners that extend beyond those of the average person. “The physical fatigue and damage runners experience is different from a regular person,” says Konno.    

In terms of injury recovery, the point at which most people seek physical treatment, “Acupuncture is able to promote increased blood flow to an area and stimulate healing—similar to a histamine response—from the slight irritation that the needles produce,” says Stram. “Tight muscular restrictions can be released, which will allow the body to work on healing itself instead of getting constantly restrained by poor patterns of movement caused by pain or restriction.” 

The advantages of acupuncture compared to other forms of treatment are two-fold. “Where massage involves manipulation of surface muscle in dealing with underlying tissues, acupuncture allows treatment of deeper muscle tissue without aggravating surface muscle, making it the most effective and direct method of treatment,” says Kawaguchi. Secondly, since the symptoms of pain or fatigue can occur somewhere other than where the problem actually lies, acupuncture is effective in treating the root cause of the problem, rather than only the area of symptomatic expression. Kawaguchi raises the example of IT band pain. “IT band pain is one of the most common issues for runners. It often manifests itself on the outside or rear of the knee, but the actual problem is with the band as a whole. By treating the trigger point near the hip, we can correct the problem by restoring the balance of the entire band.”

On Point with Injury Prevention

But more than recovery from injury, acupuncture’s greatest potential may come in injury prevention. According to Stram, “Running and training hard, whether it is fast acceleration sprints or long distance, takes a toll on the body. This is especially true of problem areas such as the back, hips and legs, which are most affected by running. Acupuncture needles can get directly to deep muscle bands to maximize the treatment effect. For example, when a deep muscle of the hip is treated directly, it will be more susceptible to stretching and can relax more. There is subsequently less stress on the joint, and the muscle has more potential to fire and contract without fear of spraining muscles or tearing ligaments.”

Kawaguchi agrees. “Regular treatment can help prevent problems through improving muscle fiber mobility,” he says.  For these reasons, Konno recommends regular treatment—two or three times a month, or at most once a week for amateur runners—as a key component of maintenance and injury prevention. 

Finding a Respected Specialist

To find a reputable practitioner, it is key to make sure the acupuncturist is licensed and uses sterilized, disposable needles. American acupuncturist licensing regulations vary by state. Because California and New York have the toughest regulations, Kawaguchi says residents of those states are most likely to find good practitioners. “These days it’s easy to research online to find out about different therapists’ reputations,” he says. “You can also talk directly to licensing agencies for recommendations. As with any doctor, be sure to check if the acupuncturist has experience dealing with sports injuries, as the sorts of soft-tissue problems to which runners are prone differ from those of non-runners.” 

“If you are interested in trying acupuncture but are worried about your insurance not covering the treatments of a licensed acupuncturist, you should check out a local acupuncture school where you can get treated by student practitioners under supervision,” says Stram. 

from Running Times

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Healthful Drinks !

 from BSP

I am a person who is quite content getting most of his fluid intake from water. I do drink green tea, coffee and pomegranate juice on a regular basis with some occasional wine and beer, but the vast majority of what I drink is water. I think it would be absolutely ideal if this were the case for most everybody, but unfortunately it is not, and many people just need to have more “flavor” in their lives.
In light of that I am always on the lookout for tasty but healthful drinks that people can consume. I have blogged about many of these options and their health benefits- coffee, white/green/oolong/black tea , rooibos tea, pomegranate juice Steaz zero calorie sparkling green tea , and wine .
I have also written about why fruit juice sucks, and how consuming only 8oz of it per day was associated with an increased risk for diabetes. However, I will note that in an otherwise healthy and active person some moderate juice consumption will probably be just fine.

On the same topic I have discussed the ridiculousness of multi-level marketing drinks such as MonaVie and the like. While acai is a fine fruit, it is not what it has been made out to be. Utilizing several different methods of calculating antioxidant capacity and potency (ORAC, TEAC, DPPH, FRAP), as well as inhibition of LDL oxidation and total polyphenol content it came in 6th out of 10 drinks tested. Number 1? Pomegranate juice. Number 2? Red wine. As an interesting aside that I don’t think I have ever mentioned on this blog, the most effective way to increase HDL-C is from moderate alcohol consumption (1-2 drinks per day).
Now having begun this blog with the longest preface in history, I wanted to touch on a some new data that I thought was rather interesting. While I have written quite a bit about the myriad health benefits of tea consumption, I came across some rather interesting data I had not heard before.
While I know that green tea (and the other members of the tea family) are beneficial to oral health, it was recently found that people who drink at least 1 cup of green tea per day had a decreased risk of tooth loss compared to people who did not drink any. It seems that the catechins in the green tea kill the mouth bacteria that are associated with gum disease and tooth decay.
What I also want to point out with this is that white tea actually contains the highest amount of catechins, while black tea contains the lowest. Now this doesn’t mean that black tea is not good for you, it most definitely is, but it probably won’t help much in the teeth department. Its fermentation process actually converts the catechins into other healthful compounds called theaflavins or thearubigins that decrease your risk of stroke. Enjoy a wide variety of teas for the greatest overall benefit to health.
On top of that, even though I wrote the above piece on why fruit juice sucks, if you insist on consuming a glass of OJ every morning (and who could blame you, it is delicious, but beware companies with poor production methods), here is some new data on the best options. While it seems intuitive that orange juice with pulp would be more nutritious since it does actually contain pieces of whole fruit, some researchers actually put this question to the test.
They found that if your OJ has pulp, it contains 30% more anti-inflammatory flavonoids and cancer-fighting limonoids than OJ without it. While this certainly isn’t earth-shattering stuff, it is nice to know that if you enjoy a small glass of OJ (maybe mixed with a small amount of pomegranate? – its delicious) at breakfast, getting it from a company that only uses oranges from the US and makes it fresh with pulp, you are maximizing its benefits and minimizing its negatives.
All in all, while I still recommend you consume plenty of plain water, there are clearly many ways to get in some flavorful drinks that provide tons of health benefits, minimal calories, and lots of flavor, so drink up!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Food is a drug outside in

 from Nutritinize
Did you know that much of our food (whole foods, herbs, spices, etc) have medicinal properties? The drugs that we have grown to depend on are often highly concentrated levels of some active agent found in food. I have been nursing a bad ankle sprain with rest and ice and adding an eastern touch of turmeric paste. Aside from adding a yellow orange tint to my purple and blue foot, turmeric acts as an anti- inflammatory and heating agent. Turmeric is found in many Indian foods and is responsible for staining your fingers when eating or cooking Indian food. It's also part of Indian cooking because when ingested it aids in digestion and prevents or alleviates minor inflammation caused by other foods (perhaps even gut irritation). As a medicine it can be mixed with hot milk and ingested, the taste is bitter and disgusting but it works. I was a bit surprised and pleased that my doctor knew about Turmeric healing, at least then my orange foot wasn't as much of an embarrassment.
It's just another reminder that food really is a drug and when used appropriately it can nourish and heal us inside and out.
Here are some other healing attributes of Turmeric
  1. Turmeric is a natural pain reliever and anti-inflammatory Laboratory studies have demonstrated turmeric's potency against virtually all primary inflammatory agents. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis reported significant pain relief when given turmeric in a clinical study.
  2. Turmeric can help the body stave off flu and ease its symptoms. While not a replacement for a flu shot, turmeric has been shown to be a natural preventative against many flu viral strains. As a natural protease inhibitor, turmeric interferes with the ability of the flu virus to replicate itself.
  3. Turmeric has been the subject of anti-cancer research. Preliminary studies indicate that turmeric may slow the growth of certain tumors. Demographic research has shown that people in areas where turmeric is abundantly consumed have some of the lowest cancer rates in the world.
  4. Turmeric stimulates the production of gastric mucus, making it useful in assisting digestion and protecting against ulcers.
  5. Turmeric is a natural pain reliever. Various laboratory studies have demonstrated turmeric's potency against virtually all primary inflammatory agents.
  6. Turmeric promotes wound healing. Because of its antiseptic and analgesic properties, turmeric can be applied topically to speed the healing of wounds.
  7. Turmeric has anti-asthmatic properties. Clinical studies have shown turmeric to be effective in treating bronchial asthma.
  8. Turmeric promotes cardiovascular health. A clinical trial showed turmeric's cholesterol-reducing properties to be as potent as the medication Clofibrate. Another study showed that turmeric lowered cholesterol and triglycerides levels in nearly all cases. Patients in both studies also reported reduced angina.
  9. Turmeric helps stabilize blood sugar levels. An extract prepared from turmeric root was found to have a hypoglycemic effect. In combination with other herbs, turmeric's anti-diabetic properties are even more pronounced.
  10. Turmeric is useful in weight management. Because it stimulates the metabolism of fat, turmeric has been found useful for combating obesity and promoting healthy weight loss.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Things You Didn't Know About Colds

A sniffle, a sneeze—you know all about the common cold, right? Or do you? We scoured the latest research and talked to experts to dig up the most surprising things you may not have known about catching and recovering from the common cold.

 It takes about 48 hours to infect you and make you sick.
That scratchy throat and runny nose that’s coming on? Think back to where you were 48 hours ago. Chances are, that’s where you picked up your cold bug. Experts say that it takes about two days for a cold to embed into the lining of your cells and produce symptoms. Baffled by whether you've come down with the flu or with a cold? While no one can predict how an infection will progress—and sometimes even experts are fooled by colds masquerading as the flu—you can use this rule of thumb from Ron Eccles, BSc, PhD, DSc, director of the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University in the U.K.: “Cold viruses do not usually cause fever in adults,” he says. “Sudden onset, fever and cough are the best predictors of influenza.”

 Late nights could be contributing to your sniffling and sneezing.
How much sleep did you get last night? If it was fewer than seven hours, you’re three times more likely to catch a cold, say researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, whose study was published in a recent issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine. It’s also important to use your time in bed wisely—meaning, when you're in bed, sleep. The researchers call it “sleep efficiency.” For instance, study participants who spent less than 92 percent of their time in bed asleep were at least five times more likely to pick up a cold virus than those who fell asleep quicker and stayed asleep longer. To get more shut-eye, sleep experts recommend banishing the TV as well as night lights, which can distract and impede your sleep cycles.

  A tall glass of orange juice isn't a cold cure-all.
When you start to feel the first signs of a cold coming on, what do you do? If your first response is to load up on OJ in hopes of boosting your body’s vitamin C levels, you might reconsider. A major review of more than 30 studies conducted by researchers at Australian National University and the University of Helsinki say that for the majority of people, vitamin C does nothing to prevent or reduce the symptoms of a cold.

Disappointing, yes. But there’s a caveat. If you’re under a lot of stress, or are putting your body to the test—for example, training for a marathon—a daily dose of 200 mg of vitamin C may reduce your chances of catching a cold by about half. To get more C naturally, load up on these foods: oranges and citrus, of course, and also papaya, broccoli, tomatoes, red peppers and kiwi.

  There’s a flower that may help fight cold viruses.
You’ve probably heard of echinacea, a plant with a stunning pink flower, which is believed to help boost the immune system. University of Connecticut researchers put the theory to the test recently, and after studying more than 1,600 people, they reported that not only did echinacea cut the chances of catching a cold in half, but also those study participants who took it reduced the duration of their colds by about 1.4 days.

Should you supplement with echinacea? It’s worth a try, says Dr. Eccles. "As it is a natural product, it is not possible to standardize the medicine, so, like buying wine, get the best quality from [herbal supplement makers] who have been in the business for a while.”

  A cold virus could make you fat.
Could you blame that extra 15 pounds you’ve gained on the cold you got last spring? It may not be a far-fetched idea, according to researchers at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. In their study of children, published in a recent issue of the journal Pediatrics, they found that kids who had been infected by adenovirus 36, a common cold virus that causes typical cold symptoms and sometimes gastrointestinal issues, were, on average, 50 pounds heavier than children who hadn’t been infected by the strain, suggesting that a viral infection may cause excess weight gain. While researchers aren’t implying that all cold viruses—even this particular one—cause lifelong weight problems, it's some extra incentive to stay healthy this season, right?

  Hot drinks can help zap the symptoms of cold viruses.
Your mom was right—tea and hot soup may be the keys to feeling better when you're hit with a bad cold. According to a study published in a recent issue of the journal Rhinology, researchers in England say that simply sipping a hot beverage can provide immediate and sustained relief from your worst cold symptoms, like coughing, sneezing, runny nose, sore throat and fatigue. The researchers tested hot beverages versus room-temperature drinks and found that the warmth in a cup had soothing, feel-good properties. Your new feel-better-fast remedy: herbal tea with a squeeze of lemon and one teaspoon of honey, which has also been proven to soothe sore throats.

 An ingredient found in breast milk can make you feel better fast.
It turns out that an ingredient in breast milk (that you can find via supplements—whew!), may help your most intense cold go away. “A derivative of lauric acid, monolaurin, is a fatty acid found naturally in breast milk,” explains Tom Bayne, DC, a practitioner with “It is known to decrease symptoms of the flu and fatigue.” You can find monolaurin supplements at any health food store or vitamin shop and at most pharmacies. As with all natural supplements, talk to your doctor about the right dosage and whether there are any drug contraindications to keep in mind.

  Colds are really not that contagious.
We hear so much about the dreaded rhinovirus that most people think a mere handshake with a sick person is going to send them coughing. Not true, say experts. Recent research by the Cardiff University Common Cold Centre found that when healthy people were put in a room with cold sufferers, it was “remarkably difficult” to spread the infection from one person to another. In fact, the cold virus has to have the ideal conditions when hitting your body to infect you. “Colds are not very contagious, and most colds are caught at home from kids and partners from prolonged and close contact,” says Dr. Eccles. In other words, no need to don a mask in public—just use common sense.

On a side note as soon as I feel the scratchy throat  starting .I gargle with Apple Cider Vinegar and water 3-4 times a day, It seems to lessen the blow..

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fuel your nervous system

We know that the nervous system is the most important entity driving human performance (see SpartaPoint 2/24/10), initiating and adjusting movement to produce the desired result, whether it be a faster arm swing, higher jump, or stronger push. Repeating your sport skills through practice is ultimately the best way to improve this neural functioning (see SpartaPoint 7/8/09), but there is something you can eat to enhance this learning process.
Omega 3 fatty acids, such as fish oil, are well documented to lower inflammation and improve body composition (see Sparta Point 4/29/09), but new research continues to provide insight into the ability of these compounds to improve cognitive performance and learning. The omega 3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) makes up more than 30% of plasma membranes in the brain, providing much needed fluidity. This membrane benefit to the cells in our brain allows the neurons (i.e. nervous system cells) to respond sooner to start and adjust movement. DHA is also critical for the function of synapses, the connection from one neuron to the next, increasing the speed of transmission, like a faster internet connection.
A 2009 Study out of the University of Siena in Italy was the first of its kind, generating more practical results from the above hypothesis. The authors found 18 Karate athletes significantly improved their reaction time after 21 days of Omega 3 supplementation. The reaction time was faster due to a shorter time between nervous system initiation and muscle contraction. If only we knew of a substance that could improve connection speed from one synapse to another….
The study used 2.25 grams of fish oil, 1.2 grams of EPA and .6 grams of DHA. However, as with all supplements, purity is the key. We use Nordic Naturals because they only produce fish oil, allowing them to be the best at what they do, providing assurance of the highest purity for our pro athletes.
So combine that exercise program with some DHA as your muscles aren’t the only part of your body that need fuel.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Yogurt company has agreed to settle charges

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The Dannon Company has agreed to settle charges of misleading advertising and drop excessive claims of health benefits from its yogurt and dairy products, officials said Wednesday.
The Federal Trade Commission announced that Dannon would settle "charges of deceptive advertising and drop claims that allegedly exaggerated the health benefits of its Activia yogurt and DanActive dairy drink."
The FTC said that the two popular Dannon products contain beneficial bacteria known as probiotics, but that the firm, a unit of French food giant Danone, misrepresented their health-promoting effects.
"Dannon will stop claiming that one daily serving of Activia relieves irregularity, and that DanActive helps people avoid catching colds or the flu," the commission said in a statement.
In television, Internet and print ads, as well as on product packaging, Dannon stated that there was scientific proof to back up these claims, which were clinically proven false, it said.
The federal agency said that 39 states are probing into Dannon's misleading advertising and that Dannon has agreed to pay them 21 million dollars to resolve those investigations.
The company said in a separate statement that it had agreed with the attorneys general that each state will receive a portion of the 21 million dollar settlement, "while Dannon does not admit any wrongdoing."
It said that the deal "resolves all concerns, while it allows Dannon to continue to advertise the core benefits of its products, that Activia helps to regulate the digestive system and DanActive helps to support the immune system."

Friday, December 17, 2010

10 Most Alkaline Foods For Your Diet

Alkaline Foods |
Acids are mostly used for home cleaning and certainly your stomach is not your kitchen sink. The modern diet, which is greatly influenced by today’s hyped up media and enslaving consumerism, is very acidic. Has there been any ad on TV, in magazines or on the internet that encourages buying vegetables and fruits? No, because they all push-sell packed or bottled products that do not match the natural processes in our body. Enterprising and consumerism have gone overboard in destroying our health. has learned from content published by Craig Jacobs that everything, living or non-living, is either acidic or alkaline. However, humans are creatures made to consume alkaline foods and stand as an alkaline organism in the food chain. Our blood’s pH level is pretty much determined by the food we eat. And with our blood being non-alkaline, or simply, acidic, our body will poorly perform and will have difficulty in resisting the harsh effects of oxidation and disease-inflicting viruses.

Here are the Top 10 Alkaline Foods that will give your mind and body more health and energy:

Top 10: Avocados, Bananas (ripe), Berries, Carrots, Celery, Currants, Dates, Garlic.
These foods are very high in antioxidants. They have a pH value of 8.0. They chemically react to acidic foods of pH 5.0 and elevate them near the alkaline levels. Berries, dates and especially garlic have special properties that regulate blood pressure as well.
Top 9: Apples (sweet), Apricots, Alfalfa sprouts.
These are super digestible foods, which are high in fiber and have a pH value of 8.0. They are also rich in enzymes that are helpful in maintaining the body’s hormonal balance. Surely, an apple a day keeps the doctor away! Don’t forget to include apricots though. For those who do not know, Alfalfa sprouts are those sprouting seeds of beans that are commonly mixed in salads and sandwiches.
Top 8: Grapes (sweet), Passion fruit, Pears (sweet), Pineapple, Raisins, Umeboshi plum, Vegetable juices.
At a pH of 8.5, this group is high in antioxidants and vitamins A, B and C. Grapes, raisins and plums are blood-regulating foods, which lower blood pressure and the risks of getting a heart disease. Pineapple, on one hand, is rich in L-Carnitine, which uses body fat as an energy source and is good for trimming that growing waistline. Vegetable juices, on the other hand, are high in iron and good for cellular detoxification.
Top 7: Chicory, Kiwifruit, Fruit juices.
They have natural sugar that doesn’t form acidic compounds during digestion. Rather, these foods have alkaline-forming properties that give more energy to the body. Still at a pH level of 8.5, this group is rich in flavonoids, a chemical compound in natural foods that have antioxidant properties. Kiwi fruit even has higher Vitamin C content than oranges. Chicory, a bitter-tasting close relative of the lettuce, also has insulin that supports the pancreas and aids the body in preventing diabetes.
Top 6: Watercress, Seaweeds, Asparagus.
With a pH level of 8.5, this group is unique as a powerful acid reducer. Watercress, for example, is called the natural super food. It is the first leafy vegetable consumed by human beings and is commonly prepared as part of a healthy salad. It is best eaten raw and it contains lots of iron and calcium like seaweeds. Asparagus is even more special for its highest content of asparagines, an amino acid important to the nervous system.
Top 5: Limes, Mango, Melons, Papaya, Parsley.
This food group has a pH of 8.5 and is best at cleansing the kidneys. Papaya is even the healthiest laxative that promotes defecation and colon cleansing. Parsley, the most popular herb, is the best dirt sweeper of the intestines when taken raw. It is also a diuretic, which is necessary in cleaning the kidneys. Limes, mangoes and melons are vitamin-rich fruits that are alkaline-forming during digestion.
Top 4: Cantaloupe, Cayenne (Capsicum).
The group with the most alkaline reactive properties among the foods with the pH of 8.5, they are high in enzymes needed by the endocrine system. Cayenne has antibacterial properties and is also high in Vitamin A, which is essential in fighting free radicals that causes stress and illnesses. Cantaloupes, a relative of melons, are very low in sugar but high in fiber.
Top 3: Agar Agar (Organic Gelatin)
Still with a pH of 8.5, Agar Agar is a gelatin substitute made from seaweeds that is high in iron and calcium as well. It is very digestible and has the highest fiber content among all foods.
Top 2: Watermelon.
At a pH level of 9.0, Watermelon are very alkaline. Because of its high fiber and water content at 92% of its entire weight, watermelon is a mild diuretic and a great source of beta-carotene, lycopene and vitamin C. This thirst-quenching fruit is the most life and energy supporting food when used in a week-long fasting and colon cleansing.
Top 1: Lemons.
At the top of the list is the Amazing Lemon. With its electrolytic properties and a pH level of 9.0, lemons are considered the most alkalizing food. It is the most potent and most immediate relief for colds, cough, flu, heartburns, hyperacidity and other virus-related ailments. Lemons are natural antiseptic that disinfects and heals wounds. It is also the best liver tonic that detoxifies and energizes the liver.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Effects Of Caffeine

 At its heart, caffeine is a stimulant. It causes an increase in three stress hormones: cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine. This basically causes a “fight or flight” response – elevated heart rate, increased blood pressure, decreased blood flow to the digestive tract, and a general energetic feeling.
Caffeine binds to adenosine receptors in the brain, decreasing the action of adenosine, as well as decreasing the release of GABA (Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid). When adenosine binds to receptors, it causes drowsiness. GABA inhibits nerve transmissions, so this decrease explains the jitters that comes with too much caffeine, as well as the extra energy boost you get from a normal amount of caffeine.
Caffeine also stimulates the secretion of stomach acid. Combine that with the effect of decreasing lower esophageal sphincter pressure and it could exacerbate acid reflux.
Further, caffeine increases urinary calcium and magnesium loss.
The results of this study indicate that renal conservation does not fully compensate for the effect of caffeine on calcium and magnesium excretion. Regular consumption of caffeine may contribute to the causation of osteoporosis by promoting depletion of these two important minerals.
As you can see, this little alkaloid causes a host of effects in the body. It has broad reach in terms of waking you up. Somewhere in the chain of effects, it stimulates the release of dopamine, a “feel good” hormone, making you generally more upbeat, along with being more awake.

Caffeine Metabolism

The body metabolizes caffeine into three substances:
  1. Paraxanthine: promotes the release of glycerol and free fatty acids into the blood stream (which likely causes caffeine’s performance-enhancing effects)
  2. Theobromine: dilates blood vessels and increases urine volume
  3. Theophylline: smooths muscles of the bronchi
Just like every other substance, caffeine has a half-life, or the amount of time it takes the body to eliminate half of it. The half-life of caffeine
…varies widely among individuals according to such factors as age, liver function, pregnancy, some concurrent medications, and the level of enzymes in the liver needed for caffeine metabolism. In healthy adults, caffeine’s half-life is approximately 3-4 hours. In women taking oral contraceptives this is increased to 5-10 hours, and in pregnant women the half-life is roughly 9-11 hours. Caffeine can accumulate in individuals with severe liver disease when its half-life can increase to 96 hours. In infants and young children, the half-life may be longer than in adults; half-life in a newborn baby may be as long as 30 hours. Other factors such as smoking can shorten caffeine’s half-life.
When it comes to “drugs,” it really doesn’t get much safer than caffeine. The effective dose is low (25-50mg) and the lethal dose is very high, between 150-200mg/kg of body weight. So unless you quaff 80-100 cups of the stuff in a short time frame, you’re not going to keel over. Of course, you could probably pull that off with concentrated caffeine pills, but you don’t need me to tell you it’s a bad idea.

How Much Caffeine Is In…

I mentioned that coffee is my only major source of caffeine (and also the main stimulant used worldwide). Let’s compare it to some other caffeine sources, just for grins. (Source: Energy Fiend)
  • Drip Coffee – 145mg
  • Single-shot Americano – 77mg
  • Green Tea – 25mg
  • White Tea – 15mg
So from that, you can see my point about tea. You’d have to drink 48oz of green tea to equal 8oz of coffee in terms of caffeine content.

How Much Caffeine Is Healthy?

Going back to that bit about cortisol, it’s interesting that the body adapts to morning caffeine consumption by reducing the cortisol effect, but it doesn’t adapt to afternoon coffee and cortisol release remains high.
In contrast, 5 days of caffeine intake at 300 mg/day and 600 mg/day abolished the cortisol response to the initial 9:00 AM caffeine dose, although cortisol levels were again elevated between 1:00 PM and 7:00 PM (p = .02 to .002) after the second caffeine dose taken at 1:00 PM. Cortisol levels declined to control levels during the evening sampling period.
My thinking after looking at all this is that being a non-user is healthier than being a user. I’d never really dug into all of the effects of caffeine other than “energy” and “diuretic,” so this was all pretty interesting. So here’s my take on it all:
  • No more than 2 cups per day (that’s 6-8oz cups, not 12oz or larger mugs). Even better if you don’t drink it daily.
  • Keep your caffeine consumption to the morning. When I have coffee, I’m usually done by 10am.
  • Do not use caffeine to fuel an unhealthy, low-sleep lifestyle. This sets up a feedback loop of disrupted sleep, more caffeine to compensate, and even further sleep loss.
  • Cycle on and off. I go caffeine-free for a couple weeks when I notice that I’m getting immune to the effects of my 2 cups.
Basically, I doubt a cup or two in the morning is going to do any real damage. In fact, timed properly, it may increase sports performance, especially for endurance type activities. If you’re downing a pot everyday, you’re probably excessively stressing your adrenals, keeping your body in a constant state of stress (which we know we don’t need more of in our modern lifestyle), and possibly causing other health issues, such as immune system suppression and vitamin/mineral depletion.
Obviously, if caffeine is affecting your sleep, you’re doing something wrong. And it goes without saying that sugar in your coffee is not doing you any favors either.

Coffee Alternatives

While searching for info for this article, I came across a coffee substitute that supposedly brews and tastes just like coffee. It’s called Teeccino. Anyone ever tried it? If so, what are your thoughts? I’m thinking of checking it out to see what it’s all about.
Teeccino Caffeine-free Herbal Coffee is a delicious blend of herbs, grains, fruits and nuts that are roasted and ground to brew and taste just like coffee.
I think part of the allure of coffee is the morning ritual of making it, smelling it, and drinking it. So perhaps this is a good caffeine-free alternative.
Decaffeinated coffee is another option, but I’m not sure about the process they use to take the caffeine out. I was looking at the Wikipedia page about the decaffeination process…some sound pretty benign, using just hot water or coffee oils. Others use chemical solvents. And I’m not sure how you figure out which method your favorite decaf uses, so I think I’ll either go with regular coffee or no coffee.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Make Your Kitchen Your Medicine Cabinet

Almost 45% of Americans say they’ve relied more on home remedies or OTC drugs in the last year to save money on doctors’ visits, according to a Kaiser Health Tracking poll. While you should always see the doctor for serious ailments, you may be able to soothe minor complaints with these inexpensive products already in your pantry, from The Big Doctors Book of Home Remedies.

Salt - Use it for: Athlete’s foot: A saline solution provides a hostile environment for fungus, decreases excess perspiration, and softens skin so antifungal meds can penetrate deeper. Soak your foot for 5 to 10 minutes in a mixture of 2 teaspoons of salt per pint of warm water, recommends podiatric surgeon Suzanne M. Levine, DPM.

Tonic Water - Use it for: Restless legs:  A 6-ounce glass of tonic water before bed might calm symptoms of restless legs syndrome; the quinine it contains helps stop repeated muscle contractions.

Lemon - Use it for: Age spots:  Cut a few wedges and place them directly onto your age spots for 10 to 15 minutes a day, suggests Audrey Kunin, MD, a cosmetic dermatologist in Kansas City, Missouri. “The acid in the fresh lemon juice may help lighten the age spots,” she says, but it won’t happen overnight. You’ll notice a difference in 6 to 12 weeks. Watch carefully; overuse may cause the upper layer of the skin to peel.

Honey - Use it for: Cuts and scrapes:  This natural sweetener contains 3 powerful wound-healing components: sugar for absorbing moisture so bacteria can’t survive, hydrogen peroxide to disinfect, and the nectar-based compound propolis to kill bacteria. An added bonus: Honey dries to form a natural bandage.

Olive Oil - Use it for: Eczema:  Packed with inflammation-reducing antioxidants, olive oil is the basis of many moisturizers; used alone, it’s free of chemical irritants you may find in store-bought creams. Rub 1 teaspoon per square inch of skin, creating a seal that keeps skin from drying out. For serious cases, cover oiled skin with plastic wrap overnight.

Milk - Use it for: Anxiety:  To calm yourself before bedtime, pour a glass of warm milk. “The old wives’ tale of having warm milk really does help,” says Bernard Vittone, MD, a psychiatrist and founder of The National Center for the Treatment of Phobias, Anxiety, and Depression in Washington, DC. Milk contains the amino acid tryptophan, which can bring on relaxation.

Apple Cider Vinegar - Use it for: Bruises:  Apple cider vinegar is an excellent natural anti-inflammatory. Dab a little on a cotton ball and rub it directly on a bruise, or make a paste out of the vinegar and an egg white or petroleum jelly and smear it on the bruised area.

Chamomile Tea - Use it for: Calluses and corns:  If your feet are prone to bumps and lumps, soak them in a diluted chamomile tea bath, advises Levine. The tea will soothe and soften hard skin. The brew will stain your feet, but it comes off easily with soap and water.

Baking Soda - Use it for: Urinary tract infection:  It makes the bladder more alkaline, which prevents bacteria from multiplying, says urologist Larrian Gillespie, MD. Drink a solution made with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda mixed in 8 ounces of water at the first sign of symptoms. Continue this once a day until you see a doctor, get a culture, and start taking antibiotics.

Ginger - Use it for: Stomachaches: This root is well-known as a stomach soother, and rightfully so. It’s great for relieving just about any gastrointestinal illness, including motion sickness and pregnancy morning sickness. To make a tea, steep a tablespoon of ground fresh ginger in hot water for 10 minutes, then strain.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Knee pain

I had been experiencing pain in around both knees recently and it reminded me of a couple of articles by Art Riggs on knee pain and various aspects that need to be taken into consideration when treating it.
Knee pain can come in many forms from meniscal damage to condromalacia but often overlooked are simple muscular/fascial problems in the clamour for something “exciting” to be the problem. When we do get injured or suffer from any of the number of knee conditions that can affect the movement of the knee the condition/injury is often our main concern but we forget that these problems all result in the knee not functioning properly. We develop compensatory movement  patterns due to the pain that affects the knee from the condition/injury or the surgery carried out to repair the damaged area. Sendentary individuals can develop similar problems due to the fact that the knee is flexed for long periods of the day reuslting in the inability to fully extend the knee.
The limping that can occur after an injury or surgery can affect the hip, knee and ankle long after the the intial problem is apparently fixed. One factor which is often overlooked is the lack of ability to fully extend the knee. This may occur due to swelling initially and results in changes in gait which can effect the hip and ankle resulting in a negative feedback loop where each area prevents the others from working correctly so that the what started as a knee problem becomes a whole leg/hip issue where the lack of a full range of movement affects each of the joints if the limping pattern reamins for any length of time.
Aside from the big name problems “simple” unbalanced development in the quadriceps group can be another source of pain. Vastus lateralis is often better developed than the other muscles in the quadracep group causing rotational strain on the knee and can cause patella tracking issues amongst other problems. General tightness in the fascia of the quaraceps can cause the pattella to be pulled upwards and again impact on how it tracks and not forgetting tight knee flexors on their own can cause a lot of the issues mentioned above.
So as you can see dealing with knee pain is often not simply an issue of dealing with the knee andit’s surrounding tissues.  Making sure you get rid of your knee pain can, and more often will, mean not just work on making sure the knee flexes and extends but that the tibia/femur glide properly over one another  that there is no restriction in dorsi and plantar flexion and that the hip flexes and extends fully. So, in other words, a knee pain could  be consideered not to be just a knee problem but a leg problem.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Probiotics - Avoid these three common mistakes and experience great health

(NaturalNews) Probiotics have become exceedingly popular in recent years - and with a good reason. These little inhabitants of our gut help us stay healthy by improving our digestion, enhancing immunity, and even normalizing cholesterol levels. However, not all probiotics are created equal. Nowadays the market is flooded with so many different products that it may simply confuse the customer. Here are three common mistakes made by consumers when choosing a probiotic supplement:

1. Not choosing clinically tested strains
Don't fall for scams. You may be surprised to learn that some specific supplements still contain numerous probiotic strains with no safe history in human nutrition. Ironically, such products can lead to further deterioration in health.

There's only a handful of probiotic cultures that have been tested to have a beneficial impact on one's health. Some of them are listed bellow:
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Lactobacillus casei

2. Not taking a sufficient amount
Probiotics need to be taken in sufficient amounts in order to really benefit your health. A general rule of thumb is that 2-10 billion CFU (Colony Forming Units) is protective and preventive, while 20 billion daily should be enough if you're recovering from an illness.

One more tip: Try to choose products that clearly state each dose's CFU. Avoid those probiotics that list ingredients only by weight. Plain and simply, you should take the same amount of CFUs as that shown to be effective in clinical studies.

3. Not reading customer reviews
One of the best and easiest ways to determine the quality of any supplement is to read consumer reviews and product ratings. Take your time and find out what people who tried the product had to say. Are there any side effects to be aware of? Has the probiotic actually helped others?

Probiotics can be an intelligent way to respond to various ailments. There are some mistakes which people naturally come across when purchasing probiotic supplements but they can be easily avoided with a bit of research. You can learn more about how probiotics can benefit your health by reading articles listed in the resources section below.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


It’s interesting to note that the most common disease in human history, the common cold, has yet to be cured. Airborne tried to capture that market by introducing an immunity booster that travelers could carry with them so that while in close contact with so many people, they wouldn’t get sick. The fact of the matter is that the product doesn’t do anything to aid your immune system in fighting of disease and it’s really all just a placebo effect. The company was sued a few years ago and settled for just over $20 million. But even after being proved a total scam, the product is still being sold in drug stores all across the country to people that are still convinced it does something to help them get through the day.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Top 10 Mistakes of Athletes (#4-#7)

by Joel Friel
Here are 4 more mistakes I see athletes often make. I’m traveling this weekend but back in the office on Monday for a few days before my next trip (speaking in Saco, Maine on Dec 12). I’ll finish the last 3 early in the week (email permitting).
 #7 mistake: Haphazard training.
Correction: Have a purpose for every workout.
Comments: In my Training Bible books I explain 6 abilities that workouts can be focused on: aerobic endurance, muscular force, speed skills, muscular endurance, anaerobic endurance and explosive power. Two others to add are testing and recovery. If one or more of these 8 aren’t the purpose of the workout then you aren’t training—you’re playing. It’s ok to occasionally do a non-purposeful workout. But if you have high goals such play must be rare. The lower your goals, the more you can do whatever you feel like doing at the time.
 #6 mistake: Inconsistent training.
Correction: High goals? Don’t miss workouts. Ever.
Comments: Consistency is the single most important aspect of training. It’s more important than long or intense workouts. You’ll improve faster by working out frequently and regularly rather than by doing hard workouts with lots of days off in between. This comes down to moderation and infrequent attempts to find your limits. Pushing yourself to the edge frequently leads to soreness, illness, injury, burnout, and overtraining. These will cause you to miss workouts and lose fitness. You gain fitness at a much slower rate than you lose it. But, let’s face it, you will miss a workout on occasion due to things you have little or no control over—weather, work, family activities and other responsibilities. When these happen you need to do some workout rescheduling. Try not to miss any of the key workouts on your schedule.
 #5 mistake: Too little rest, not enough race intensity before race.
Correction: Rehearse the race every 72 hours for 1-3 weeks prior.
Comments: The purpose of pre-race tapering is to shed fatigue—not to improve fitness. Being rested provides a greater payoff than becoming more fit in the final days. But race prep goes beyond becoming fresher. It also involves preparing for the unique demands of the race. In the last 7 to 21 days before race day gradually reduce workout duration. That’s the taper part. And every 72 hours or so do a challenging workout that simulates a key portion of the race. The workouts in between these are for recovery.
 #4 mistake: Workouts too intense.
Correction: Increasingly train at goal intensity in last 12 weeks before the race.
Comments: I once spoke to at a triathlon club meeting. Afterwards one of the members told me he and a few others were training for an Ironman. He went on to explain that they were doing anaerobic endurance training on the bike. It was very hard, he said. Would that help? My answer was “no.” It is counterproductive. At no time in an Ironman do you go anaerobic. If you do, the party’s over. Just because a workout is hard doesn’t mean it’s appropriate. Train at intensities that are similar to what’s expected in the race.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Do Cortisone Shots Actually Make Things Worse?


In the late 1940s, the steroid cortisone, an anti-inflammatory drug, was first synthesized and hailed as a landmark. It soon became a safe, reliable means to treat the pain and inflammation associated with sports injuries (as well as other conditions). Cortisone shots became one of the preferred treatments for overuse injuries of tendons, like tennis elbow or an aching Achilles, which had been notoriously resistant to treatment. The shots were quite effective, providing rapid relief of pain.

Then came the earliest clinical trials, including one, published in 1954, that raised incipient doubts about cortisone’s powers. In that early experiment, more than half the patients who received a cortisone shot for tennis elbow or other tendon pain suffered a relapse of the injury within six months.
But that cautionary experiment and others didn’t slow the ascent of cortisone (also known as corticosteroids). It had such a magical, immediate effect against  pain. Today cortisone shots remain a standard, much-requested treatment for tennis elbow and other tendon problems.
But a major new review article, published last Friday in The Lancet, should revive and intensify the doubts about cortisone’s efficacy. The review examined the results of nearly four dozen randomized trials, which enrolled thousands of people with tendon injuries, particularly tennis elbow, but also shoulder and Achilles-tendon pain. The reviewers determined that, for most of those who suffered from tennis elbow, cortisone injections did, as promised, bring fast and significant pain relief, compared with doing nothing or following a regimen of physical therapy. The pain relief could last for weeks.
But when the patients were re-examined at 6 and 12 months, the results were substantially different. Over all, people who received cortisone shots had a much lower rate of full recovery than those who did nothing or who underwent physical therapy. They also had a 63 percent higher risk of relapse than people who adopted the time-honored wait-and-see approach. The evidence for cortisone as a treatment for other aching tendons, like sore shoulders and Achilles-tendon pain, was slight and conflicting, the review found. But in terms of tennis elbow, the shots seemed to actually be counterproductive. As Bill Vicenzino, the chairman of sports physiotherapy at the University of Queensland in Australia and senior author of the review, said in an e-mail response to questions, “There is a tendency” among tennis-elbow sufferers “for the majority (70-90 percent) of those following a wait-and-see policy to get better” after six months to a year. But this is not the case for those getting cortisone shots, he wrote; they “tend to lag behind significantly at those time frames.” In other words, in some way, the cortisone shots impede full recovery, and compared with those adopting a wait-and-see policy, those getting the shots “are worse off.” Those people receiving multiple injections may be at particularly high risk for continuing damage. In one study that the researchers reviewed, “an average of four injections resulted in a 57 percent worse outcome when compared to one injection,” Dr. Vicenzino said.
Why cortisone shots should slow the healing of tennis elbow is a good question. An even better one, though, is why they help in the first place. For many years it was widely believed that tendon-overuse injuries were caused by inflammation, said Dr. Karim Khan, a professor at the School of Human Kinetics at the University of British Columbia and the co-author of a commentary in The Lancet accompanying the new review article. The injuries were, as a group, given the name tendinitis, since the suffix “-itis” means inflammation. Cortisone is an anti-inflammatory medication. Using it against an inflammation injury was logical.
But in the decades since, numerous studies have shown, persuasively, that these overuse injuries do not involve inflammation. When animal or human tissues from these types of injuries are examined, they do not contain the usual biochemical markers of inflammation. Instead, the injury seems to be degenerative. The fibers within the tendons fray. Today the injuries usually are referred to as tendinopathies, or diseased tendons.
Why then does a cortisone shot, an anti-inflammatory, work in the short term in noninflammatory injuries, providing undeniable if ephemeral pain relief?  The injections seem to have “an effect on the neural receptors” involved in creating the pain in the sore tendon, Dr. Khan said. “They change the pain biology in the short term.” But, he said, cortisone shots do “not heal the structural damage” underlying the pain. Instead, they actually “impede the structural healing.”
Still, relief of pain might be a sufficient reason to champion the injections, if the pain “were severe,” Dr. Khan said. “But it’s not.” The pain associated with tendinopathies tends to fall somewhere around a 7 or so on a 10-point scale of pain. “It’s not insignificant, but it’s not kidney stones.”
So the question of whether cortisone shots still make sense as a treatment for tendinopathies, especially tennis elbow, depends, Dr. Khan said, on how you choose “to balance short-term pain relief versus the likelihood” of longer-term negative outcomes. In other words, is reducing soreness now worth an increased risk of delayed healing and possible relapse within the year?
Some people, including physicians, may decide that the answer remains yes. There will always be a longing for a magical pill, the quick fix, especially when the other widely accepted and studied alternatives for treating sore tendons are to do nothing or, more onerous to some people, to rigorously exercise the sore joint during physical therapy. But if he were to dispense advice based on his findings and that of his colleagues’ systematic review, Dr. Vicenzino said, he would suggest that athletes with tennis elbow (and possibly other tendinopathies) think not just once or twice about the wisdom of cortisone shots but  “three or four times.”

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Research on Training and Racing at Altitude

by Running Times

A runner who trains at sea level and races at high altitude versus a runner who trains high and races high is like comparing apples to oranges. The athlete who logs his training miles in the mountains has the advantage, right? Recent research says maybe not, suggesting that prolonged periods of altitude training may actually hinder performance more than help it. The study, out of Oxford University, has received a good amount of attention from the media, some of which mistakenly implies that our previous beliefs about altitude training are misguided.

Delving further into the issue and the new research, the work out of Oxford is clearly notable; however, it is one piece to a very complicated puzzle. The study looked at individuals who had a rare genetic condition that results in higher-than-average levels of a certain protein, called hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), which induces the production of erythropoietin (EPO). This condition happens to mimic the process by which the body responds to high altitude.

In an exercise bike test comparing five people with this condition to five matched participants without the condition, the researchers sought to track muscle metabolism (take note that these were not highly trained athletes). What they found was that those with the condition were able to handle less intensity and fatigued sooner than the controls. The differences were so pronounced that the results suggest that the decrease in endurance and overall performance in the muscles outweighs the benefits of altitude training, primarily the production of more oxygen-carrying red blood cells that bring fuel to the muscles.

In short, the study shows that living at altitude for an extended period of time may lead to less efficient muscle metabolism and thus a lesser capacity for exercise. This information is important because it may provide a clue to figuring out how long an athlete should live at altitude in order to reap the benefits, but avoid the detrimental effects.

To be sure, there remains a reason some of the best runners in the country live in Mammoth, Flagstaff, Boulder, and the altitude tents of Beaverton, Ore., and a large body of research supports this. While the Oxford study brings the topic of altitude training back into the limelight, the fact remains that many runners don’t have the luxury of choosing whether or not they get to train in the mountains. It also doesn’t change the fact that if you train at sea level, you’ll definitely feel the burn at altitude. Just ask any ultra runner who trains in the lowlands and races in Leadville, Colo., or Moshi, Tanzania.

Altitude Effects
Paul Stofko, ultrarunner and the coach of several ultrarunning training camps in Estes Park, Colo., is well acquainted with the challenges of racing at altitude. While he lives in Indiana, where the highest point is around 400 feet, he still manages to race out west at altitudes exceeding 12,000 feet. Whether it’s racing Leadville or coaching high above Estes Valley, he has learned how to quickly recognize a runner struggling with the thin air, depleted humidity and low barometric pressure that come along with high altitudes. “You can always tell they are struggling just by the look on their face and the way they hunch over. Sometimes they start to stagger from one side of the trail to the other rather than going in a straight line,” he says.

Famed coach Jack Daniels, former head distance coach at the now-defunct High Altitude Training Center in Flagstaff, as well as a Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology, says that difficulty breathing is one of the first symptoms a runner will notice when going to a higher elevation. “You will actually move more air in and out of your lungs per minute because the less-dense air presents less resistance to flow,” he explains. “So you do increase ventilation some without the cost of breathing being any greater, but you also tend to breathe harder, and for some runners this results in a faster breathing rhythm rather than just deeper breaths.”

Dehydration is the other common issue many runners experience when racing at altitude. “Relative humidity is often around 10 percent, compared to 50 percent in the Midwest. That’ll affect your performance at altitude immediately,” says Stofko.

Living at Sea Level and Racing at Altitude

“I tend to believe that spending time training at altitude may shorten the time it takes you to achieve your full potential, but that potential may not actually be enhanced any — it just gets you there a little quicker,” says Daniels. Basically, his message is that altitude training isn’t the silver bullet to a successful running career, but it may help.

He explains that the problem many runners encounter when racing at altitude is that they simply go out too fast, mimicking their sea-level race pace. “Most important to understand is that you will have to race at a slower pace than is normal at sea level,” he says. “It is mainly a mental adjustment that will help a good deal.”

Daniels and Stofko agree that a sea-level runner can practice for a high-altitude race by integrating certain key elements into their training. Namely, they say to incorporate higher intensity work that will help you practice for a more difficult effort at altitude.

“Several weeks before the race, you can do intense training at sea level to raise your VO2 max levels so your body adapts,” says Stofko. “You’re working harder at sea level so when you get to that higher altitude you won’t feel so taxed.” It’s all about training your body to work at a higher heart rate so when you get up to that point of elevation, it’ll affect you less.

Daniels recommends taking the early bouts of an interval training session out harder in order to practice what the start of a high altitude race will feel like. Stofko also suggests implementing hill training to increase your strength and VO2 max. “Even on a flat surface at 10,000 feet, it’s going to feel like you’re running uphill at sea level,” says Stofko. Still, both coaches tout the importance of tapering and not overworking yourself to the point of diminishing returns.

Time of Arrival

In terms of when to arrive at a high altitude event, the research says the earlier, the better. While the idea of a 24-hour window has been supported in the past, more recent studies confirm that performance increases with time spent at altitude. While sleep disturbance and dehydration may not have caught up with a runner in that first 24 hours, it appears that the other effects of altitude will be at their worst within the first hours of arrival. 

The 24-hour theory originated as a result of several studies done in the 1960s, but has since been challenged by this study, this study and this study. While you may not be able to make it out to the race four to eight weeks beforehand, even a few extra days will boost your ability to acclimate and run well.

Verdict’s Still Out

Clearly there is still much to be learned about running at altitude; academia has yet to agree on pretty much anything, whether that be time of arrival for a sea-level runner at a high altitude race, or how long a runner should remain training and living at altitude. Luckily for runners who don’t have a choice, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that shows you can overcome your individual training environment and still race well — whether this means conquering less efficient muscle metabolism from many years spent in the mountains or training in the lowlands and competing in the highlands.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Is Big Pharma At It Again?

(NaturalNews) Earlier this week, the Institute of Medicine finally got around to reluctantly admitting that people need more vitamin D. Raising the daily intake recommendation from 200 IUs to 600 IUs still leaves most people pitifully vitamin D deficient, and a flood of scientific research that has emerged over the last four years reveals that vitamin D deficiency causes cancer, osteoporosis, depression, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disorders and depression.

In other words, vitamin D deficiency is the cornerstone of the pharmaceutical industry's profit machine. Most of the really big money now being shoveled into the cancer industry and the drug companies comes from patients who are woefully deficient in vitamin D.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the dietary supplement industry's trade association, called the new vitamin D recommendations "a modest step in the right direction that fell short of truly capturing the extensive and positive research that has consistently supported the need for people to significantly raise their vitamin D levels." (

According to scientific studies, right now 70 percent of whites are deficient in vitamin D, and 97 percent of African Americans are deficient, resulting in outrageously higher rates of cancer among blacks compared to whites ( The Institute of Medicine curiously claims such deficiencies do not exist, however.

Nutritionally-aware health professionals had hoped the Institute of Medicine might suggest raising the daily intake of vitamin D to a level that would actually help prevent cancer: 2000 IUs a day, or even as much as 4000 IUs a day. Most informed nutritionists right now recommend anywhere from 2000 IUs to 4000 IUs per day for adults, and the research on the connection between cancer and vitamin D is clear: Vitamin D prevents 77 percent of all cancers (

But this is precisely why the Institute of Medicine absolutely cannot allow more vitamin D to be taken by the American people -- it would destroy the pharmaceutical industry's primary business model by making people well!

Government warns people not to take too much Vitamin D (seriously...)

And so today, even as it reluctantly adjusted the daily recommended intake to the 600 IU level (800 for the elderly), the Institute of Medicine issued a ridiculous warning against "megadosing" on vitamin D. (It considers a "mega dose" anything over 4000 IUs.)

The mainstream media even jumped on the bandwagon, reporting that anything over 10,000 IU can "cause kidney damage." And yet, doctors who know about vitamin D deficiency routinely prescribe 50,000 IUs a day for their patients to help them recover and restore their vitamin D back to healthy levels. (That amount is only safe for people who are severely deficient, by the way. NaturalNews agrees this is not a safe dose for a person who already has sufficient levels of vitamin D in their body.)

Dr Michael Holick, the vitamin D expert who has been routinely attacked by conventional medicine for educating people about vitamin D, takes 3,000 IUs a day himself. He's featured in a NaturalNews special report called The Healing Power of Sunlight and Vitamin D which can be downloaded for free at:

The 600 IU level is a pitiful amount of vitamin D that's guaranteed to continue the epidemic of vitamin D deficiency in America. "This is a stunning disappointment," said Dr. Cedric Garland, one of the top researchers who has studied the ability of vitamin D to prevent cancer.

The real story in all this, by the way, is that there is a massive conspiracy to keep the American people vitamin D deficient for as long as possible. This conspiracy is achieved through the use of outright lies such as this whopper published by CBS News a few days ago: "While some people truly are deficient in vitamin D, the average person already has enough circulating in his or her blood. That's because we also make vitamin D from sun exposure, and because many people already take multivitamins or other D-containing dietary supplements."

This is, of course, a blatant lie. Most people don't take vitamin D supplements, and few people get any sunshine at all. The worst deficiency is, of course, among those with darker skin such as African Americans and, to some extent, Latinos and Asians, all of which are now suffering skyrocketing rates of cancer, diabetes and other diseases.

That the mainstream media (and the entire medical community) would lie to black people about vitamin D deficiency is no surprise: It was traditionally blacks who were chosen for Big Pharma's medical experiments throughout its nefarious history (

And now, the American people are the experiment! The Institute of Medicine, Big Pharma and the FDA are all running a grand experiment entitled, "What happens if we keep all Americans -- but especially the blacks -- deficient in vitamin D?"

If you doubt the accuracy of that statement, consider the historical fact that the U.S. government conspired with the National Institute of Health to use Guatemalans as human guinea pigs in secret medical experiments for which President Obama was recently forced to apologize! (

Just as an explanation here, those with dark skin are far more likely to be vitamin D deficiency because dark skin pigmentation blocks the ultraviolet light that generates vitamin D in your skin. Watch my video here for a full explanation:

The Institute of Medicine brazenly lied about vitamin D's effects on preventing cancer, stating on its website, "The IOM finds that the evidence supports a role for vitamin D and calcium in bone health but not in other health conditions. Further, emerging evidence indicates that too much of these nutrients may be harmful, challenging the concept that 'more is better.'"

In other words, the IOM wants you to believe that "more is NOT better" when it comes to vitamin D, even though most people are woefully deficient. This is a subtle way of telling people to avoid taking more vitamin D and thereby remain vitamin D deficient, which would of course keep people trapped in sickness and disease which generates huge profits for the pharmaceutical industry.

The vitamin D conspiracy is real. Government, Big Pharma and even some elements of the media are all scheming together to trap the American population in a state of lifelong vitamin D deficiency. But this conspiracy will ultimately fail because the nutritional science about vitamin D cannot be suppressed for much longer. Especially not if people inform themselves with nutritional knowledge by reading websites like this one.

Vitamin D is the nutrient that could collapse the cancer industry and destroy Big Pharma. That's why you need to keep learning about it and keep taking it to make sure your levels of vitamin D are high enough to prevent degenerative disease.

For the record, I do not sell vitamin D supplements of any kind, nor do I earn any kickbacks or commissions of any kind from vitamin D supplement companies.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

10 Reasons to Avoid Gluten

by Steve Liberati

1. Wheat gluten is the cause of "Celiac disease," which is commonly regarded as the intestine-specific manifestation of gluten sensitivity. There are many other manifestations of gluten sensitivity/intolerance. (c)
2. Wheat has been hybridized to contain far more gluten than it did 50 years ago. The bread we eat today is nowhere near the bread that our ancestors ate, so there is no comparison. Starting children on gluten-containing grains is a surefire way to bother their tender digestive systems in ways our grandparents never imagined.
3. Gluten increases the permeability of the intestinal barrier. This enables gluten to enter the bloodstream. "Leaky Gut," which is tied to gluten intolerance and intestinal permeability, is foundational in the development of autoimmunity and conditions such as fibromyalgia, Crohn's Disease, IBS, arthritis, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, chronic fatigue, asthma, and diabetes, among others. To explain, consider a process called...
4. Molecular Mimicry. Ever heard of "throwing the baby out with the bathwater?" How about "only one guy at the after-prom party was REALLY drinking, Mom, but the cops gave us all MIPs?" A simple explanation - the body views gluten protein in the blood as an intruder and creates antibodies to attack it; however, these proteins look so much like our body's natural tissue that our immune system mounts an attack on all of them. This immune reaction persists as long as gluten is in the diet. (h)
5. Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity is NOT the same thing as a wheat allergy. If your doc doesn't know this, RUN.
6. Gluten sensitivity can cause nutrient deficiency by impairing your body's ability to absorb nutrients like calcium - causing the bone minerals to break down. This means osteopenia. (Gwyneth Paltrow, I'm looking at you) (i)
7. Leptin, the hormone that tells us when we're full, may be blocked by substances derived from cereal grains - such as gluten. (h)
8. Individuals with totally normal intestinal biopsies may still have Antigliadin antibodies (gluten sensitivity). 60% of sufferers of gluten intolerance are intestinally asymptomatic, meaning their intestines show no symptoms. (b)
9. Untreated or undiagnosed gluten sensitivity has been linked to miscarriage, infertility, and low birth weight babies, as well as infertility in men. (e) (f)

10. 95% of the body's serotonin is made in the bowel. When the bowel's function is disrupted as with gluten consumption, neurological problems including epilepsy, ADHD, depression and even headaches may occur in addition to skin problems (eczema). Sometimes the symptom itself is the only indicator of intolerance. How many headaches have you had in your lifetime? (a) (b) (c) (i)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

8 herbs & spices you should get to know

by Rob Wolf

Buying spices

Ever browse the spice aisle at the grocery store and notice the prices? No way am I paying upwards of six bucks for a jar of ground cloves when I only need 1/8 teaspoon for a recipe! Highway robbery! Not to mention that grocery store spices, the kind sold in the little jars, can often be really old. Old spices taste like dust. Not the flavor I’m looking for!
There are two better options when the goal is fresh spices.
  1. Buy the whole spice (cinnamon sticks, whole nutmeg, cumin seeds) and grind them yourself. For grinding seeds, just use a cheap coffee grinder that you reserve only for spices. Use a microplane grater on larger things like cinnamon and nutmeg.
  2. Buy in bulk.
Most cities or small towns are going to have one of the following: a hippie health food store co-op thingy, an Asian or Indian market, or at the very least, a Costco. I buy all my spices in bulk at the Asian or Indian market for a couple reasons: they are cheap and they get a lot of turnover, which means the spices are going to be pretty fresh. My local hippie health food store has a huge aisle of bulk spices where you can fill your own baggies to your heart’s content and I’ve shopped there for staples sometimes (they also sell bulk tea, yummm). I’ve noticed on my forages to the local bulk discounter (Costco or Sam’s Club) that they can be a good source of bulk spices from time to time, however you can bet turnover is not as high here, so they may have been sitting for a while. If none of these options is available to you, my favorite online resource is Penzey’s. They’ve got some great starter kits if you’re just beginning to use spices, and some exotic stuff (Mahlab or Sumac, anyone?) that you won’t find elsewhere.


delicious cardamom Cardamom is definitely, for me, one of those special occasion spices. I use it rarely but when I do, it’s so distinctive. If you’ve ever had Chai tea, you’ve tasted cardamom. It’s an essential spice in Indian cooking and some have called it the vanilla of Indian ice cream. Cardamom in it’s whole state is a pod with an outer shell (not much flavor there) filled with tiny seeds (which are intensely flavorful). Ground cardamom is what you likely want to use, and is commonly found in baking, where the powder provides a concentrated unique, smoky flavor. You also may have tasted cardamom in Indian meat dishes or Swedish meatballs. Yum.
My favorite use for cardamom when I’m not baking is with a sweet-ish vegetable, like carrots or a pea puree. Cardamom Carrots (minus the brown sugar, I think the carrots are sweet enough) would be a good place to start with this spice. Substitute butternut squash or sweet potatoes for the carrots and you’d be happy too.

Chili Powder

Chili PowderOne of my favorite reasons to use any spice is warm-you-up, clear-your-sinuses heat! Chili powder is an easy go-to spice for that. Everyone’s tasted chili powder in… well… a big pot of Chili. Paleo chefs would do well to remember the Texan saying, “If you know beans about chili, you know chili ain’t got no beans!” A big pot of Texas chili is a great way to get your meat in, and pack a ton of delicious spicy, heaty flavor. In my experience, finding grass-fed ground beef is pretty easy, and another go-to use for chili powder in my kitchen is to mix it with a little garlic powder, cumin and salt and add it to ground beef when you’re cooking it. Instant taco meat! Also known as a favorite breakfast of mine. Maybe a strange choice, but delicious nonetheless.


cinnamon Ahhh, cinnamon. The smell of cinnamon is so reminiscent of a well-kept, welcoming home that many a fragrance company has tried to capture its essence in a candle or even a toilet bowl freshener. The toilet seems an odd place for cinnamon, but is nevertheless testament to the power of this spice. Besides its versatility in sweet and savory foods, cinnamon has been shown to have health benefits ranging from lowering cholesterol and blood sugar to preventing yeast infections. Nice spice! Cinnamon can be used in everything from a savory spice rub for slow-cooked meats to being a major player in Apple Crumble.
Try sprinkling cinnamon on your coffee, tea or baked sweet potato. Use a whole cinnamon stick as a straw for sipping hot cocoa. Make some apple cinnamon pancakes. Mix it with any root vegetable or winter squash along with some butter or coconut oil. With all its’ uses, you can easily see why cinnamon is a daily spice in my house!


cumin Cumin is a pale green seed from a plant that’s actually related to parsley; it’s traditionally used in spicy Mexican dishes like chile con carne or hot tamales. It also has a ton of health benefits. You can easily find cumin seeds ground or whole, and there are good uses for both. You can add ground cumin (which is stronger than the whole seeds) to a citrus-based marinade for meat. I also love cumin in chili and spicy meat stews. An easy way to use the seeds is by toasting them in a skillet over medium heat (just add the dry seeds to the skillet, and make sure to keep an eye on them, they can burn quickly). Then add the toasted seeds to some olive oil and drizzle the mixture over roasted veggies. Cumin is great in taco seasoning. It’s easy to make your own, then just add it to ground beef or poultry while browning the meat. Serve in lettuce cups with lots of veggie fixings on the side for a super easy dinner.


Forms of Nutmeg - 485/365Nutmeg in its whole form is a smooth little nut about the size of a peach pit. Whole nuts are preferable to ground nutmeg, since the flavor of ground nutmeg quickly turns dust-like. Whole ones will keep forever and can be grated easily with a microplane grater. I got a bag of 50 or so from my Indian grocer for about 3 bucks! Nutmeg is usually associated with sweet baked goods, but goes surprisingly well in savory applications too. Back in my mac & cheese days, it was one of my favorite things to add to the sauce. It goes great in soups with tomatoes, chicken, egg dishes, or with green veggies like spinach, broccoli or cabbage. It’s traditionally paired with lamb in Middle Eastern dishes and used in Moroccan cooking frequently. My favorite use for nutmeg is similar to how I use cinnamon: sprinkled on sweet potatoes along with a pat of grass-fed butter.


Paprika Crazy!Paprika is a fine powder ground from dried “pimento” peppers (yeah, the same ones used to stuff olives). It is a beautiful red color and although it comes from peppers, is milder than chili or cayenne pepper. You can find it in sweet, smoked, and hot forms (I think smoked tastes best no matter what the spicy factor). Paprika is associated with Hungarian cuisine (paprikash and goulash), but also is used to spice chorizo sausage, and is a natural partner for other spices to create a rub for meats. It imparts a beautiful color to meat when cooked (think of Tandoori chicken). Sprinkled, it can be a fun way to garnish foods (you’ve probably seen deviled eggs topped with it).
You could make a delicious drizzle for vegetables by heating a teaspoon of paprika with a couple cloves of minced garlic and a bay leaf in some olive oil, then adding in a splash of wine vinegar. It also goes great in a vinaigrette and emulsifies well with oil and vinegar. You can just rub it on a plain chicken (inside and out) before roasting for a delicious flavor and color. Experiment with this versatile spice. I haven’t tried it with a dish yet that I didn’t like.


Fiori di rosmarino (Rosemary flowers)Rosemary is a super-fragrant herb with needle-like leaves and a fresh evergreen, almost pine-y scent. Rosemary is super easy to grow and is drought-tolerant. It’s a tough little plant and easy to have on hand year-round since it can be grown in a pot or in the ground. Rosemary is a natural partner to garlic and olive oil and that trio is wonderful on everything from roast potatoes to lamb, pork or chicken. Whenever I make a pork roast, I like to make small incisions in the meat and stuff slivers of garlic with rosemary leaves inside. It imparts a wonderful flavor to the meat. Ditto chicken, just stuff some rosemary under the skin or even place a sprig or two in the cavity of the chicken before you roast it.


ThymeThyme, along with rosemary, is a major player in the traditional bouquet garni, a bundle of herbs used in savory soups and stews such as Beef bourguignon or Pot au Feu. Thyme is also so easy to grow, it spread over my whole herb garden, and I hardly watered it at all this summer. It’s a perennial too, so it comes back every spring. Thyme is used to season savory soups and stews, but also goes really well with eggs, tomatoes, and lamb.
I love fresh thyme in an omelet along with some salt and pepper. It’s amazing in a make-your-own marinara sauce (which I love over green beans, spaghetti squash or zucchini). If you’re longing for tomatoes in the dead of winter, plum tomatoes at the grocery store can actually taste great if you roast them along with this versatile herb. Roasting concentrates the flavor and brings life to otherwise icky, pink, out of season tomatoes. Dried thyme will work in this case (bonus: it retains its flavor much better than most other dried herbs). Sprinkle the tomatoes (sliced in half) with thyme, salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Mix well with your (clean) hands. Roast at 450 degrees for 25-30 minutes until the tomatoes are starting to caramelize. Mmmmm.