Thursday, March 31, 2011

Choosing Your Cuts

by Nell Stephenson

Here are the very basics of some of the options:

Filet Mignon - From the tenderloin, tender, expensive


Porterhouse/T-Bone/Strip - The short loin can be cut into two steaks, the T Bone and the porterhouse. Fattier, less pricey.

Flank - from the belly of the cow, tougher and rich in flavor.

Rib Eye - flavorful, rich, better prepared via dry heat

Chuck Eye Steak - from the shoulder, gristle, fatty, bone-in, less expensive cut

So which one is best?

ALL OF THEM! The more variety the better. Most important is the source, and that whatever cut you choose is USDA Organic and grass fed!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Walnuts Are Top Nut for Heart-Healthy Antioxidants

ScienceDaily (Mar. 28, 2011) — A new scientific study positions walnuts in the number one slot among a family of foods that lay claim to being among Mother Nature's most nearly perfect packaged foods: Tree and ground nuts. In a report given in Anaheim, California at the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society on March 27, scientists presented an analysis showing that walnuts have a combination of more healthful antioxidants and higher quality antioxidants than any other nut.
"Walnuts rank above peanuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios and other nuts," said Joe Vinson, Ph.D., who did the analysis. "A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut. But unfortunately, people don't eat a lot of them. This study suggests that consumers should eat more walnuts as part of a healthy diet."

Vinson noted that nuts in general have an unusual combination of nutritional benefits -- in addition those antioxidants -- wrapped into a convenient and inexpensive package. Nuts, for instance, contain plenty of high-quality protein that can substitute for meat; vitamins and minerals; dietary fiber; and are dairy- and gluten-free. Years of research by scientists around the world link regular consumption of small amounts of nuts or peanut butter with decreased risk of heart disease, certain kinds of cancer, gallstones, Type 2 diabetes, and other health problems.

Despite all the previous research, scientists until now had not compared both the amount and quality of antioxidants found in different nuts, Vinson said. He filled that knowledge gap by analyzing antioxidants in nine different types of nuts: walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias, and pecans. Walnuts had the highest levels of antioxidants.

Vinson also found that the quality, or potency, of antioxidants present in walnuts was highest among the nuts. Antioxidants in walnuts were 2-15 times as potent as vitamin E, renowned for its powerful antioxidant effects that protect the body against damaging natural chemicals involved in causing disease.

"There's another advantage in choosing walnuts as a source of antioxidants," said Vinson, who is with the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. "The heat from roasting nuts generally reduces the quality of the antioxidants. People usually eat walnuts raw or unroasted, and get the full effectiveness of those antioxidants."

If nuts are so healthful and nutritious, why don't people eat more? Vinson's research shows, for instance, that nuts account for barely 8 percent of the daily antioxidants in the average person's diet. Many people, he said, may not be aware that nuts are such a healthful food. Others may be concerned about gaining weight from a food so high in fat and calories. But he points out that nuts contain healthful polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats rather than artery-clogging saturated fat. As for the calories, eating nuts does not appear to cause weight gain and even makes people feel full and less likely to overeat. In a 2009 U. S. study, nut consumption was associated with a significantly lower risk of weight gain and obesity. Still, consumers should keep the portion size small. Vinson said it takes only about 7 walnuts a day, for instance, to get the potential health benefits uncovered in previous studies.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bone Health

from John Post

Question #1: Does running improve bone health?

Study Summary: Male and female runners aged 33-94 years had greater tibial (shin) bone strength than sedentary controls of the same age. But the runners also lost bone with advancing age. There was no difference in the radius bone (forearm) between runners and sedentary controls.

Answer: Running appears to make the tibia stronger but there is still a loss of leg bone density with aging in runners. Running did not improve an arm bone health.

Question #2: Is there an activity which is even better for bone health than running?

Study Summary: This is a 1993 review of the scientific literature on the topic. Reviews make my job a bit easier since the author of a review has selected good (usually) studies and done the legwork by compiling and analyzing the data from all. This review reports that the strongest bones have typically been found in power- and strength-trained athletes. “Endurance activities such as long distance running and swimming seem less effective with regard to peak bone density.”

Answer: It appears that lifting weights and participating in power activities (sprinting, jumping, bounding, etc) are more effective than running for bone health.

Question #3: That’s an old study. Is there anything newer?

Study Summary: From the same author as above only 13 years later, this is a review of the scientific literature looking for the best types of activity for improving bone health. In summary, he says that although aerobic exercise is important in maintaining overall health, a heavy-load, resistance type of muscle training may be better for bone health.

Answer: Yep. Looks like weight training is better for bone health than running.

Question #4: Are you sure lifting weights is better than running? I hate going to the gym.

Study Summary: This is another review to keep me having to work too hard. To quote the authors: “Both aerobic and resistance training exercise can provide weight-bearing stimulus to bone, yet research indicates that resistance training may have a more profound site-specific effect than aerobic exercise. Over the past 10 years, nearly two dozen cross-sectional and longitudinal studies have shown a direct and positive relationship between the effects of resistance training and bone density.”

Answer: There seems to be little doubt that lifting weights is effective for bone health and may be the most effective activity.

Question #5: What about swimming?

Study Summary: This is a review of studies prior to 2009 regarding exercise in maintenance of bone health. This is yet another review showing that exercise activities with high forces (for example, weight lifting) or high impacts (for example jumping and bounding) have the greatest potential for maintaining bone strength. Not all types of exercise have shown positive effects on bone. For example, swimming has no impact on bone mass, while walking has limited positive effects. Exercise involving high impacts, even a small amount, seems to be the most efficient for building bone mass.

Answer: It looks like pushing off the wall of the pool will not build stronger bones.

Question #6: I’m a cyclist and can’t run due to a bad knee. Should I walk instead?

Study Summary: “Regular walking has no significant effect on preservation of BMD at the spine in postmenopausal women, whilst significant positive effects at femoral neck are evident.” Insufficient data was available for the hip.

Answer: The subjects in this study were postmenopausal women, so this may not apply across the board to premenopausal women or to men. However, the research on exercise generally supports the notion that impact is critical in aerobic exercise for bone health. That’s why cycling scores so poorly. The impact forces of walking are much less than that of running and so the effect for those other than postmenopausal women is probably about the same.

Question #7: What if I run more miles? Will that help build bone?

Study Summary: Subjects were tested for tibial (shin) bone strength over a 3-year period. Those who ran more than 30km per week (three groups of subjects ran 5-30, 30-50 or 50-100km per week) had the strongest bones. And the greater the heel strike force the stronger the tibial health.

Answer: Running with higher volume seems to help maintain bone and 30km per week was the threshold for these subjects.

Question #8: If running more is good would doing ultra-running events be the way to go?
Study Summary: A 246-km continuous running race caused significant negative changes in bone health in 18 runners who were subjects. Tests were conducted before, after and 3 days after the race. Bone mineral was lost and bone formation was suppressed afterwards.

Answer: Unfortunately, this study says that doing ultra-distance running races is not beneficial, at least during and in the three days afterwards. I found no studies that did a longer analysis of ultrarunners’ bone health.

Question #9: Since impact force appears to be good for bone, would running faster help?

Study Summary: In this study tibial (shin) bone strength indicators seemed to be related to impact forces (heavy foot strikes). The faster the subjects ran (for example, sprinters vs. distance runners) the stronger the tibia.

Answer: Yes, running faster does seem to be beneficial for bone health. This may not mean running “faster” relative to your best effort, but faster relative to absolute speed. In other words, running really fast, as a sprinter does, is probably key here, not running 8-minute mile pace instead of 9-minute mile pace (although that may help a small amount). Of course, it could just be that having poor technique, running on concrete and wearing thin-soled shoes (or no shoes) is good for bone strength. But I don’t think I’d go these routes just to build up your bones. A better alternative may be to do plyometric exercises or rope jumping.

Question #10: Will trying to lose a few pounds by eating less and running more cause a problem with bone health?

Study Summary: Female, college distance runners who chronically trained at a high volume and did not eat enough to replace calories burned during exercise experienced menstrual dysfunction and bone loss.

Answer: It appears, at least for young women, that eating less and running more over a long period of time is dangerous for bone health.

In Conclusion: It appears the best thing you could do is lift weights. The next best option is exercise that involves high impact such as plyometrics (which has also been shown effective for cycling and running performance). Running, especially more than 30km (18.6 miles) per week, is also effective. Walking may have a limited benefit. Swimming probably has no bone-health benefit.

Monday, March 28, 2011

2 Types of Strength...2 Types of Injury


There are generally 2 types of situations that cause injury, trauma and overuse. Trauma is when something sudden and unexpected occurs, such as when an athlete runs into another player or has to stop suddenly, causing some devastating bone fracture or ligament tear. Overuse injuries generally occur from…well overuse. Examples include tendonitis or compartment syndromes, like shin splints, from excessive throwing or running volumes (see Sparta Point 12/31/08). Of course these examples are oversimplified but it helps to understand the basis of resistance training’s role in injury prevention.

At Sparta, we employ 2 different methods of strength stimuli, brief maximal tension and repetitive effort. These methods were described by sports scientist Mel Siff. The maximal methods involve heavier loads and shorter repetitions, while the repetitive effort involves larger amounts of repetitions, usually dictating lighter weights. The goal of both methods is to increase maximal strength to both improve performance factors, like speed, but more importantly to prevent injuries. This pursuit of strength is important because there is limited time to develop this ability, as the off-season availability of athletes continues to dwindle. After their high school season, athletes are now pursuing multiple club team opportunities, while the professional season is only lengthening in an attempt to generate more revenue.

The above methods are used by Louie Simmons in the WestSide Barbell training of powerlifters, generally aimed at the movements in their competition, particularly the squat lift. Because we train athletes in a variety of dynamic sports, we choose the type of movement based off a stretch shortening cycle evaluation, a vertical jump (see Sparta Point 10/28/09). After this force plate analysis, the needed exercise, whether it is a squat or step up, that will fill their neuromuscular weakness best.

So if you really need RATE, or the ability to stop your movements, we emphasis squats in your maximal tension methods and a lighter pull movement, like RDLs, for your repetition efforts. This approach should help reduce the injury from both trauma and overuse in a very athletic, individualized plan.

Awkward skills, like running or jumping inefficiently, are probably the third major cause for injuries, but there is plenty of room to develop the above maximal and repetitive prescriptions for a healthier career.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

For Abs, Try Some ... Push-Ups?

By Dr. Mercola

A push-up not only helps you to get a stronger upper body, but also a stronger midsection. It incorporates the stabilization muscles of your core, combining an upper-body pushing movement with a plank. It is, in fact, one of the best and most basic exercises for your midsection.

According to The Post Game:

“Push-ups are a higher value plank. You’re not only strengthening your abdominals by holding them still while gravity’s trying to push your hips towards the ground, but you’re also strengthening your upper-body pushing muscles: your chest, shoulders and triceps.”

Take a look at the video above to learn how to do the perfect push-up.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Healing Herbs and How to Use Them in Your Cooking

By Dr. Mercola

Herbs are not only great in meals for spice and added flavor but are key to the nutritional density in the foods you eat. Herbs can protect you against diseases, clear toxins from your body, and provide you with vitamins and minerals.

Here are some examples of such, from a list of nine assembled by Planet Green:


Basil provides Vitamins A, C, and K, along with iron, manganese, magnesium, and potassium. Loaded with flavonoids, basil helps prevent cell damage from radiation and oxygen.


Treat nausea and an upset stomach with ginger; prevent and treat the common cold with its antiviral components.


This Mediterranean herb is good for menstrual cramps, menopause symptoms, cholesterol, and diabetes.

Flat Leaf Parsley

Parsley is renowned for containing high levels of antioxidants and is full of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber that help balance cholesterol and ward off constipation.


The Cork Cancer Research Centre’s test results show that turmeric can kill gullet cancer cells in 24 hours!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Ads That Are Currently Tweaking Me

Submitted by Dana Carpenter

As long-time readers are aware, I have a mild obsession with food ads. I find myself analyzing them, even yelling back at them. Here are some food ads that are currently pinging my bs meter:

V8 V-Fusion: Funny how Nature just knows how to make things that are good for you. Uh-huh. Sure. Like, I dunno, typhoid and cholera bacteria. Rattlesnake venom. Tobacco. Parasites. Deadly nightshade.

And fructose. You know, that wonderful natural substance that jacks up your triglycerides, triggers fat deposition, increases uric acid levels thus causing gout attacks, and is the biggest cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. That stuff.

I don't know exactly what the fructose concentration in V-Fusion is, but I do know that one serving -- ie, one bottle -- of the stuff has 38 to 39 grams of sugar, depending on the flavor. (42 grams total carb.) Since fruit juice is the major sweet component of V-Fusion, you can bet it's loaded with fructose.

As for the vitamins, quite a lot of the vitamins in V-Fusion don't come from nature, but rather are added. I'd rather take a vitamin pill and skip the sugar, thanks.

I've noticed a trend, by the way, of companies combining sugary fruits and fruit juices with vegetables, so that they can say "Oh, look! This is a great way to get your vegetables without tasting them!" I'm all for vegetables, but not at the expense of consuming a big dose of fructose. I'll go so far as to say you'd do better to skip the vegetables than to consume them in this form.

There is a "light" V-Fusion with only 10 grams of sugar per bottle (though it still has 38 grams total carbohydrate.) It's sweetened with our old friend sucralose, aka Splenda. So much for "nature."

Then there's the ad for Special K's "Cracker Chips." Okay, the ad itself isn't so obnoxious, I just think it's a stupid product. Okay, so it's 110 calories. It's 110 calories of pure garbage that will make you hungry again an hour later.

The ingredient list for the cracker chips tells us that they're made of:


So we're talking a lot of quickly digested, high impact starch, plus some highly processed, pro-inflammatory omega-6 oil. 23 grams of carb, 3 of which are fiber, so 20 grams usable carb. That's pretty much my daily intake, right there. 2 grams of protein, probably from that soy flour, not enough to prevent my blood sugar from going wonky; I can't speak for yours.

Virtually no vitamins or minerals to speak of. They can't have added much vitamin C, since the label claims 0% of your daily value.

Why do people think the road to healthy, energetic slimness is to eat portion-controlled highly processed junk?

Then there are the "Water Your Body" ads for Crystal Light, claiming that women who drink Crystal Light drink "20% more water." Note the absence of a specific statement of whom, exactly, they are drinking more water than.

I finally saw this ad in print form, and found this tiny-print statement at the bottom:

Kantar Worldpanel beverage panel data comparing consumption of tap, bottled, flavored water and prepared powdered beverages.

The questions are many. Like why does an artificially flavored, sweetened, and colored beverage made from powder count as "water," but soda pop does not? How about my beloved tea? It has caffeine, sure, but it's full of water, and has antioxidants to boot. I can go through at least a gallon a day, easy. Why "flavored water" but not, say, unsweetened sparkling water and club soda?

For that matter, how about people who own a decent water filter, and therefore aren't drinking straight tap water, nor shelling out the cash for bottled water, but are getting better-quality water than their municipal water utility provides? Are they more likely to drink water?

All this seems to say, really, is that people are more likely to drink flavored, sweetened stuff than straight water. Big surprise. Whether stuff sweetened with aspartame (we trust you aren't drinking the "fitness" line, sweetened with "cane juice", aka sugar) is as beneficial as drinking water is nowhere mentioned.

One last ad, then I'll shut up. Not a food ad, actually, but one aimed at those concerned with losing weight: "I'm Ronny, from Jersey Shore, and I believe in keeping it real. That's why I take Xenadrine." I have no clue whether Xenadrine works, nor whether it's safe, and therefore hold little opinion as to whether it's a reasonable thing to spend your money on or not. I just want to know what taking an over-the-counter diet pill has to do with "keeping it real." Huh? Keeping what real?

As a Jersey girl with roots in the Garden State to back before the Revolution, I am also disgusted that the show Jersey Shore and the people on it are being held up as exemplars. For the record: I am nothing like those people, except that I rather like the Jersey shore.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Big Pharma Again

The Truth About Prescription Fish Oil
by Mike Roussell, PhD

Fish Oil Pills

In the Beginning...

In the early days, fish oil supplementation was crude. You couldn't get the high doses needed without suffering the unwelcoming side effects: fishy taste, heartburn, diarrhea, and fish farts.

The purification process for fish oil supplements began to advance as the demand for high-quality products grew. Today you can easily get your hands on the good stuff, but sadly, the shelves of your local discount retailer are still lined with fish oils containing impurities.

Enter Big Pharma
Lovaza fish oil Pills

Reliant Pharmaceuticals saw the need for "pharmaceutical grade" fish oil and began to devise a way to make a fish oil product that was +80% EPA/DHA compared to the 30% EPA/DHA that you'd find at the discount retailer. (2, 3) They were able to achieve this through a patented purification process, which housed EPA and DHA as ethyl esters instead of triglycerides.

Now, the triglyceride form is how EPA and DHA are normally found, with three fatty acids connected by a common "backbone."

In Big Pharma's ethyl ester form, EPA and DHA exist individually and not in the naturally occurring triglyceride structure.

Omega-3 ethyl esters were studied extensively, with the largest study containing over 18,000 subjects. (4) As a result of that study, the FDA approved omega-3 ethyl esters for the treatment of high triglycerides.

Thus, the first prescription fish oil supplement was born under the name Omacor. Today it's called Lovaza.

$200 Fish Oil Anyone?

While scientists worked on developing omega-3 ethyl esters, other scientists were optimizing molecular distillation techniques that allowed for 60% EPA/DHA purity – double the discount store's variety.

Despite the different chemical make-up of omega-3 ethyl esters and natural fish oil supplements, I've never heard a researcher refer to omega-3 ethyl esters as being superior to fish oil.

Are they? Does your body process the omega-3 ethyl esters differently than it would if you ate a piece of salmon or took some FlameoutTM? If so, do these differences warrant an omega-3 ethyl ester price tag upwards of $200 a month?

Comparing Purity

The higher percentage of EPA/DHA in your supplement, the less room there is for other fats, and more notably, the less room there is for chemical impurities like dioxins.

Molecularly-distilled fish oil products, like FlameoutTM, have impurities removed. The World Health Organization's standard for dioxins is less than two parts per million.

A molecularly-distilled fish oil product can contain as little as 0.3 parts per million dioxins. Would the 85% pure omega-3 ethyl ester product contain less? Probably. Is this difference going to impact your health? Probably not.

Comparing Effectiveness

So from a contamination standpoint, molecularly-distilled fish oil supplements and omega-3 ethyl esters stack up about the same. How does your body treat them? Up until this year there wasn't that much research to answer this question.
Two studies now point to a difference in bioavailability.

The first study, published in the journal of Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids (or what I like to call "light bedtime reading") examined the bioavailability differences between fish oil supplements, including omega-3 ethyl esters. (3)

Researchers found the bioavailability of the omega-3 ethyl esters was -27% compared to the control fish oil (which was basically the equivalent of squeezing the EPA and DHA out of a salmon filet).

The difference wasn't statistically significant, although omega-3 ethyl esters were consistently worse performers in the different tests. Still, the findings didn't support omega-3 ethyl esters as being a superior product.

The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study last month with twice as many subjects as the first one. (5) During the six-month time span, researchers gave subjects either a high-quality fish oil supplement – in the naturally occurring triglyceride form – or an omega-3 ethyl ester.

Researchers even measured subjects' omega-3 index to find the amount of EPA and DHA in red blood cell membranes. This is the best way to measure omega-3s in the body, because when EPA and DHA are in your red blood cell membranes they're locked and loaded, just waiting to be clipped off by the right enzyme and put to use.

The researchers found at months three and six that those receiving the high-quality triglyceride fish oil supplement had a much higher omega-3 index at both time points. Sorry, ethyl esters.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Eat to Replenish Your Muscles, Not Your Liver

by Clay Hyght

Fact: You need to eat carbs to replenish muscle glycogen for optimal performance and muscle growth. Trying to build muscle without carbs is like driving with four flat tires. It can be done, but it ain't fast, and it ain't fun!

But it's not enough to just eat carbs and hope they'll make it to your muscles. You need to know they're going to your muscles. Ditch the wish-upon-a-star strategy and implement a scientific protocol of carb consumption.

Let's review some carb science. There are three types of monosaccharides of interest to us humans: glucose, fructose, and galactose. The latter comes from the breakdown of the disaccharide lactose, found in dairy products. I highly doubt a significant portion of your carbs come from lactose.

Regardless, it will be broken down into one part glucose and one part galactose. Subsequently, the galactose will soon be converted to your body's favorite monosaccharide – glucose.

Glucose is the body's preferred carb currency. Once in the body – whether ingested directly or from the breakdown of more complex carbs – glucose is used for energy, stored as glycogen, or converted to fat.

In The Insulin Advantage we discussed the importance of not overeating carbs so that the excess can't be converted to fat. We only want to eat enough carbs to supply our immediate energy needs and to replenish glycogen, specifically muscle glycogen.

The cool, physique-friendly thing about glucose is that it preferentially replenishes muscle glycogen as opposed to liver glycogen. It seems the skeletal muscles worked out some sort of deal with the body so that it gets first dibs on extra glucose before the liver gets a chance to lay its mitts on the fuel. That's great for us, because we desperately want our carbs to go to our muscles, not to our liver!

Enter fructose. This diabolical bastard evidently worked out a similar deal with the devil. Er, I mean the liver.

When we ingest fructose, it's quickly absorbed and shuttled off to the liver. It'll then be stored as liver glycogen and will be slowly broken down as needed by the blood.

The problem? Storing carbs in our liver does our muscles no good! The other problem is that once the liver is full of glycogen (and it only holds about 100 grams) it will convert any incoming fructose to triglycerides. That sucks. It sucks from an appearance standpoint and from a health standpoint.

What does that mean for us? It means that we certainly don't need to be too liberal with our fructose intake!

It also means that your pre-workout carbs should be glucose-containing carbs, NOT fructose-containing. Because, essentially, whatever carbs you eat from fructose are not going to your muscles, which so desperately want and need them post-workout. So, keep an eye on fructose, but also monitor your sucrose intake. Sucrose, which is table sugar, is a disaccharide made of one fructose molecule and one glucose molecule. In other words, sucrose is half fructose.

Soda is definitely not a good choice for post-workout carbs, but there's a much less obvious carb source we need to keep an eye on: fruit. For example, of the roughly 25 grams of carbs in an apple, about 15 grams are from fructose.

The point isn't to avoid fruit altogether. In fact, I typically recommend most people eat one or two servings a day because it's packed with a plethora of micronutrients. Rather, the point is to avoid having a couple pieces of fruit and thinking all 50 grams of carbs are going to your starving muscles. They're not.

A far better approach is to have no more than one piece of fruit at a time, even in the post-workout "window of opportunity." And if you're going to have fruit post-workout, consider making it a banana, which has more glucose, yet about half the fructose of an apple.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Margarine Is Not Food

by David Csonka

Yah, cholesterol free!

Vegetable oil blend (partially hydrogenated soybean oil), water, salt, whey (from milk), soy lecithin, vegetable mono and diglycerides, potassium sorbate (used to protect quality), citric acid, artificial flavors, vitamin a palmitate, beta carotene (for color). Contains: milk, soy.

Food comes from farmers, and hunters. Not chemists.

So, how does a chemist make something that looks and tastes like food? Solid fats can be manufactured from vegetable oils by passing hydrogen through the oil in the presence of a nickel catalyst (sometimes they even use palladium). The addition of hydrogen to the unsaturated bonds results in saturated bonds, effectively increasing the melting point of the oil and thus hardening it.

The only metal that should be needed to make food should be the iron in your shovel.

Since everybody is scared of saturated fats causing heart disease (which hasn’t been proven), the process is controlled so that only enough of the bonds are hydrogenated to give the required texture. If you start the process with soy beans, you end up with partially hydrogenated soybean oil. Oh, and also some trans-fats (which have scientifically accepted deleterious effects).

Let’s trade a type of fat that has been in the human diet for thousands of years, for one we made in a chemistry lab. Swell!

In the United States in 1930 the average person ate over 18 pounds of butter a year and just over 2 pounds of margarine. By the end of the 20th century, an average American ate around 5 pounds of butter and nearly 8 pounds of margarine. Quite the reversal! Without a doubt, many of these people made that switch to reduce their risk of heart disease.

It doesn’t seem to be working.

How do I know that butter is food (as opposed to margarine)? Butter only has one ingredient: cream.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why Your Taste Cells Love Sugar so Much

Posted By Dr. Mercola

A new study dramatically increases knowledge of how taste cells detect sugars. This could be a pivotal step in developing strategies to limit overconsumption.

It turns out that taste cells have several additional sugar detectors, over and above the previously known “sweet taste” receptor. Although this receptor, known as the T1r2+T1r3 receptor, is the primary mechanism that allows taste cells to detect many sweet compounds, it cannot explain some aspects of sweet taste. Investigation found that several sugar sensors previously thought only to be found in the intestine and pancreas also are present in sweet-sensing taste cells.

According to Newswise:

“The different sugar taste sensors may have varied roles. An intestinal glucose sensor also found to be located in the sweet-sensitive taste cells may provide an explanation for another mystery of sweet taste: why just a pinch of table salt tastes sweet or salt added to baked goods enhances sweet taste. Known as SGLT1, this sensor is a transporter that moves glucose into the sweet taste cell when sodium is present, thus triggering the cell to register sweetness.”

Friday, March 18, 2011

Clues to Gluten Sensitivity

from the Wall St Journal

A new study in the journal BMC Medicine may shed some light on why. It shows gluten can set off a distinct reaction in the intestines and the immune system, even in people who don't have celiac disease.

"For the first time, we have scientific evidence that indeed, gluten sensitivity not only exists, but is very different from celiac disease," says lead author Alessio Fasano, medical director of the University of Maryland's Center for Celiac Research.

The news will be welcome to people who have suspected a broad range of ailments may be linked to their gluten intake, but have failed to find doctors who agree.

"Patients have been told if it wasn't celiac disease, it wasn't anything. It was all in their heads," says Cynthia Kupper, executive director of the nonprofit Gluten Intolerance Group of North America.

The growing market for gluten-free foods, with sales estimated at $2.6 billion last year, has made it even harder to distinguish a medical insight from a fad.

Although much remains unknown, it is clear that gluten—a staple of human diets for 10,000 years—triggers an immune response like an enemy invader in some modern humans.

The most basic negative response is an allergic reaction to wheat that quickly brings on hives, congestion, nausea or potentially fatal anaphylaxis. Less than 1% of children have the allergy and most outgrow it by age five. A small number of adults have similar symptoms if they exercise shortly after eating wheat.

At the other extreme is celiac disease, which causes the immune system to mistakenly attack the body's own tissue. Antibodies triggered by gluten flatten the villi, the tiny fingers in the intestines needed to soak up nutrients from food. The initial symptoms are cramping, bloating and diarrhea, similar to irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, but celiac disease can lead to malnutrition, osteoporosis and other more serious health problems that can result in early death. It can be diagnosed with a blood test, but an intestinal biopsy is needed to be sure.

The incidence of celiac disease is rising sharply—and not just due to greater awareness. Tests comparing old blood samples to recent ones show the rate has increased four-fold in the last 50 years, to at least 1 in 133 Americans. It's also being diagnosed in people as old as 70 who have eaten gluten safely all their lives.

"People aren't born with this. Something triggers it and with this dramatic rise in all ages, it must be something pervasive in the environment," says Joseph A. Murray, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. One possible culprit: agricultural changes to wheat that have boosted its protein content.

Gluten sensitivity, also known as gluten intolerance, is much more vague.

Some experts think as many as 1 in 20 Americans may have some form of it, but there is no test or defined set of symptoms. The most common are IBS-like stomach problems, headaches, fatigue, numbness and depression, but more than 100 symptoms have been loosely linked to gluten intake, which is why it has been so difficult to study. Peter Green, director of the Celiac Disease Center says that research into gluten sensitivity today is roughly where celiac disease was 30 years ago.

In the new study, researchers compared blood samples and intestinal biopsies from 42 subjects with confirmed celiac disease, 26 with suspected gluten sensitivity and 39 healthy controls. Those with gluten sensitivity didn't have the flattened villi, or the "leaky" intestinal walls seen in the subjects with celiac disease.

Their immune reactions were different, too. In the gluten-sensitive group, the response came from innate immunity, a primitive system with which the body sets up barriers to repel invaders. The subjects with celiac disease rallied adaptive immunity, a more sophisticated system that develops specific cells to fight foreign bodies.

The findings still need to be replicated. How a reaction to gluten could cause such a wide range of symptoms also remains unproven. Dr. Fasano and other experts speculate that once immune cells are mistakenly primed to attack gluten, they can migrate and spread inflammation, even to the brain.

Indeed, Marios Hadjivassiliou, a neurologist in Sheffield, England, says he found deposits of antibodies to gluten in autopsies and brain scans of some patients with ataxia, a condition of impaired balance.

Could such findings help explain why some parents of autistic children say their symptoms have improved—sometimes dramatically—when gluten was eliminated from their diets? To date, no scientific studies have emerged to back up such reports.

Dr. Fasano hopes to eventually discover a biomarker specifically for gluten sensitivity. In the meantime, he and other experts recommend that anyone who thinks they have it be tested for celiac disease first.

For now, a gluten-free diet is the only treatment recommended for gluten sensitivity, though some may be able to tolerate small amounts, says Ms. Kupper.

"There's a lot more that needs to be done for people with gluten sensitivity," she says. "But at least we now recognize that it's real and that these people aren't crazy."

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Summary by Billy E

Most of the funding for medical research is being done by big pharmaceutical companies. They will not study magnesium because they can’t patent it.

Up to 80% of Americans are Magnesium deficient

Even though magnesium is a nutrient for thousands of body processes, this post will only concentrate on the benefits of magnesium relative to diabetes type 2. To review the very informative and extensive scientific Magnesium post presented by Dr T, please click on Magnesium under labels on the right side of this blog.

You might be interested to know that the way I get 100% absorption of magnesium, is through the skin by applying Magnesium oil. It is a super saturated magnesium chloride in water. When you rub it into the skin, it bypasses the intestines and is absorbed into the tissues of the body. My understanding is that oral supplementation provides only about 20% absorption.

Some people find that it causes itching at full strength. You might avoid this by diluting it with distilled water. I use it full strength by rubbing in 5 or 6 short sprays without any problem. If you dilute it with distilled water you might try to rub in 10 to 12 short sprays to receive it’s full effect. Always get a blood level test through your primary physician to establish if you are magnesium deficient, and test periodically to see that you are not over supplementing.


Magnesium is essential for the regulation of cellular processes and functions. It is found abundantly in green leafy vegetables. It serves as a vital co-factor in a wide range of metabolic reactions. Studies have determined that the function of insulin is dependant on magnesium as the mineral activates insulin receptors and stimulates proteins and substrate involved in insulin signaling. Christine Hermes Sales, from the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil), and colleagues assessed magnesium intake status in 51 adults with type 2 diabetes. They found that 77% of them presented one or more magnesium status parameters below the cut-off points for deficiency. They also found that concentrations of plasma magnesium were inversely correlated with fasting and 2 hour post meal glucose levels. Among the subjects in the study, 63% had low concentrations of plasma magnesium.

The conclusion was that magnesium status was influenced by kidney depuration and was altered in patients with type 2 diabetes, and magnesium showed to play an important role in blood glucose control.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Food Hangover

The weekend is here, before you go out to your raging parties, I'd like to share an experience from Zoleoite's (Zole) life last weekend, maybe we can learn a thing or two from him. It's Sunday morning and, after a long night's sleep, Zole wakes up with a splitting headache and body aches, feeling bloated and blah. The thought of jumping out of bed to hit the morning workout doesn't sound as exciting today. He wonders why he went to his friend, Burgers', party last night and more importantly what the hell happened last night. He held his head, closed his eyes, and tried to piece together the night. Slowly it started coming to him, a quick mental recap included a big slice of greasy pizza, chocolate cake, he remembered having a few drinks, except a his glass contained only soda, oh and then there was the spinach dip and fresh baked bread… yum…and… hmmm…. Wait… NO ALCOHOL?! His eyes widened and he sprung out of bed at this realization. Usually he finds himself in this state after throwing back a few shots and drinks but with training season around the corner he intentionally didn't drink an ounce of alcohol to stay on disciplined on his workouts and prevent feeling hung over and lethargic yet… here he is … hung over and lethargic. So, what happened? Well my friends, Zole just experienced his first FOOD HANGOVER. His story is slightly exaggerated to prove a point but nonetheless, there is such a thing.

Just as alcohol affects your body, causing chemical responses and imbalances including dehydration, the same way food affects your body. What happens when you abstain from alcohol for long periods of time and then go out and have a raging night? Most likely you end up hugging the porcelain throne… Your body isn't as efficient in metabolizing the alcohol and you get "wasted" more easily. If you have been eating clean for some time then your body has adapted to the new lifestyle and is happily metabolizing what goes in without any issues… however when your throw a few wrenches in the flow (gluten, sugar, dehydration) then your body loses its efficiency and most likely you end up again hugging the porcelain throne (perhaps from a different angle).

I am not saying to go out on binges all the time to maintain alcohol and food tolerance… what I am saying is this is just another example of how what you eat affects your body and your mind. Perhaps you have been in a similar situation, as always, don't take my word for it, but try out for yourself and report back.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Eating For Taper Week

by Nell Stephenson

With LA Marathon a mere 8 days away, and it being an A Race for me, training volume will be lower than normal this week, with extra rest, an extra massage and special attention allocated to more visualization and mental prep.

How about food? How does one properly prep for an endurance event, while decreasing training to get ready for the race, and maintain the proper balance of sufficient food but not TOO MUCH food which could potentially lead to a bit of excess weight gain?

Let your body guide you. Keep all your meals balanced and Paleo and, since training volume is so low, you can cut down or omit the sole starch that we as endurance athletes eat to prep and recover from training and racing- yams. EXCEPT when the race is just around the corner.

I'll typically add small amounts of yam to my meals for two to three days prior to the race. Studies have shown that prepping your body in this manner is far superior to old school methods including the ubiquitous 'pre-race pasta party', during which all too many athletes gorge with spaghetti, go to bed stuffed beyond capacity and end up with GI distress in the race!

My coach always orders a rest day two days prior to the race, and the day before, it's a short w/o with some pick ups and then.... feet up, hydrate, relax and visualize.

Nothing new before the race- hopefully by the time one's key race(s) approach, everything is dialed in and at that point- the day will unfold as planned.

Fire in the belly- bring it on! : )

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Vitamin D Conspiracy Leads Straight to Big Pharma

By Dr. Allan Spreen

You’ve probably heard about the bad rap vitamin D has been getting lately. The argument goes something like this…the vitamin D crisis isn’t as bad as we thought. You probably don’t need as much of it as we thought. But it’s a free country. So go ahead and take 400 IU of it per day, if you want.That’s more than enough. Just don’t go over 4,000 IU per day. “High doses” like that can increase your risk for “harm”

These new guidelines come from the U.S. Institute of Medicine (or IOM), a powerful non-profit agency that advises the nation of matters of health. But here’s the problem: Their report is pure propaganda.

In fact, I believe these low doses of vitamin D are a deliberate attempt to keep the American public needing more drugs until the day they die. (I’ll admit, that sounds a tad paranoid. But I’ll explain why my paranoia is well-founded a moment.)

First, let’s look at the three major problems with the IOM research.

Leave it to the IOM to redefine “majority”

First off, the IOM report states that the “majority” of adults living in the U.S. get enough vitamin D…and that’s just nonsense.

Spend a minute in the sun each day

So how the IOM can confidently claim the “majority” of Americans get enough vitamin D, I have no idea!

The IOM report also states that “North Americans need on average 400 International Units (IUs) of vitamin D per day. People age 71 and older may require as much as 800 IUs per day because of potential changes in people’s bodies as they age.”

Again, this is pure nonsense. But before I go any further, here’s a quick biochemistry primer…

The IOM says you only need 400 IU of vitamin D. But they actually mean 400 IU of vitamin D3 (or cholecalciferol). Your skin makes this natural form of vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. In fact, spending just 30 minutes in the sun without sunscreen, your skin will produce anywhere from 10,000 IU to 50,000 IU of D3! Plus, you can also take D3 as a supplement.


Vitamin D3 passes through your liver and it turns into a pre-hormone called 25-hydroxycholecalciferol. This is abbreviated as 25(OH)D.

When you get a vitamin D blood test, we really want to see how much 25(OH)D is in your blood. We measure 25(OH)D in nanomoles per liter or nmol/l.

Now, stick with me, because here’s where it gets interesting…

According to the IOM report, taking just 400 IU of vitamin D3 per day will give 97 percent of us a blood serum level of 50 nmol/l. And that level will protect us from fractures. Sounds okay, I guess. But let me put this another way to show you just how silly the IOM recommendation really is…

Let’s assume that your body makes 10,000 IU of D3 for every 30 minutes spent in the sun without sunscreen. (Most experts say you make at least twice that much…but let’s not get picky.) So, how long does it take for your body to make 400 IU of D3?

Hurray! Just 1.2 minutes in the sun! That’s all you need to keep your bones strong.

Is it me, or does that just sound wrong?

Well, here’s the good news. It isn’t just me. It is wrong. And there’s some solid scientific proof to back me up…

IOM gets their numbers wrong

Two major meta-analysis’ from 2009 found that 50 nmol/l of 25(OH)D in your blood isn’t enough to protect you from a fracture or a fall. In fact, 28 separate studies found that 50 nmol/l isn’t enough!

Plus, the International Osteoporosis Foundation recommends men and women have 75 nmol/l of 25(OH)D. This is what it takes to protect you from accidental falls and fractures. Lastly, numerous studies over the years show that the more 25(0H)D in your blood, the greater your bone density. But to get up to those higher levels of 25(OH)D, you need more D3.

Plus, here’s another interesting twist. The authors of the IOM report most likely knew about all this research…they just chose to ignore it.

You see, before publishing the new vitamin D guidelines, the IOM board consulted with Dr. Walter Willet. The board even thanked Dr. Willet at the end of their report.

So who’s Dr. Willet?

He’s a vitamin D expert and Chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard. He also co-wrote one of the 2009 reports on vitamin D I mentioned earlier. The IOM, however, ignored his findings.

But don’t feel bad, Dr. Willet. Yours isn’t the only research the IOM ignored…

IOM report ignores research on vitamin D and disease

Remember how I told you the IOM said 400 IU of D3 is enough to protect you against osteoporosis? Well, what about everything else…like cancer and heart disease?

In a press conference, IOM chair Dr. Catherine Ross said “We could not find solid evidence that consuming more [vitamin D] would protect the public from chronic disease ranging from cancer to diabetes to improved immune function.” And with that simple statement, Dr. Ross lost all credibility.

Here are some of the best studies linking vitamin D and major diseases:

Breast cancer: Women with vitamin D blood serum levels less than 50 nmol/mL are eight times more likely to develop an aggressive form of breast cancer.

Colon cancer: Men and women with the highest vitamin D levels cut their colon cancer risk by 40 percent.

Heart Disease & Stroke: Men and women with low vitamin D double their heart attack or stroke risk.

Cognitive decline: Older women with low vitamin D are twice as likely to suffer cognitive impairment.

Diabetes: A whopping 91 percent of diabetics have low levels of vitamin D in their blood. Plus, the less vitamin D in their blood, the greater their blood sugar problems.

And I’m just scratching the surface here! If you want to look at all the scientific data on vitamin D, the Vitamin D Council is a good place to start. They list the studies by disease, so you can see all the scientific data Dr. Catherine Ross and her colleagues missed.

In closing, there’s one last reason why the IOM report has the pungent smell of propaganda…

There’s a rat in the house

Glenville Jones, PhD is one of the authors of the IOM report. He’s a scientist and also the co-inventor of drug made by a company called Cytochroma. This drug is still in development…but what condition will they treat with their top-secret drug?

You got it.

Vitamin D deficiencies!

(I’m not making this stuff up. You can see the patent for yourself at the U.S. Patent Office website.)

Dr. Jones also sits on the scientific advisory board of a drug company called Receptor Therapeutics. These guys also made a synthetic vitamin D treatment for cancer…in fact THREE synthetic vitamin D treatments for cancer. (Drug companies use synthetic vitamin D because they can patent it and make a huge profit. You can’t patent natural vitamin D.)

Well, isn’t that so thoughtful…

You don’t need to take vitamin D. But if you do happen to get cancer…guess who plans to have a vitamin D drug you can take?

Here’s the bottom line for you: Ignore anything published by the IOM. Take up to 5,000 IU of natural vitamin D3 each day. And avoid anything made by Cytochroma and Receptor Therapeutics.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Feed a Cold

by Kassandra McKenzie, CrossFit South Arlington
This could be the flu, strep throat, cold, whatever — the bottom line is that you’re feeling way crappy and you want to get better ASAP. But when you’re on a Whole30 program, you can’t rely on old-school “comfort” food like chicken noodle soup, Saltine crackers, and Sprite. So what are you going to do?!

Before you give up on your nutrition choices and feel even worse than you already do by eating poisonous things, think about what you should eat while sick – we’re talking real food. I love making soup because it’s an easy way to cook up some veggies and meat with very little effort. The task can seem daunting at first, but I really do promise: soup is no drama.

Easy Chicken Soup Ingredients:

* 1-2# cubed chicken breasts, cooked (or pulled chicken from a cooked whole bird)
* 2 quarts chicken broth (Imagine brand makes a Whole30-compliant broth, or read your labels – no added corn, rice, soy or sugar!)
* A busload of diced/chopped vegetables of choice*
* 1 medium yellow onion, diced
* 2 cloves minced garlic, or to taste (garlic powder is also good here)
* 1 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
* 2 tbsp coconut oil, or favorite cooking oil
* Salt and pepper, to taste

*Traditional would be carrots and celery, but nutrient density is key when you’re sick. I love using kale, broccoli, leeks, cauliflower, and mushrooms. (Broccoli and cauliflower tend to absorb the salt and garlic in their “trees” – yum.) The possibilities are endless here.

Easy Chicken Soup Directions:

* Melt coconut oil on medium-high heat in large pot.
* Add diced onions, cayenne pepper, and garlic and cook until onions are starting to soften.
* Add all vegetables and continue to cook 5-7 minutes.
* Add chicken broth and stir.
* When soup gets to be really hot, almost boiling, add chicken and stir.
* Turn the heat down and serve the soup hot, but not scalding

The little bit of cayenne pepper in this soup helps clear the sinuses without killing your mouth with spiciness. You can add any of your favorite herbs to this mix, as well as use any kind of meat. I’ve had great results with sausage, lamb, and turkey. You can plan ahead your next sick day by having some of these leftovers in your freezer so you can just defrost and start feeling better.

Kass’s (and Whole9′s) Best Sick-y Tips

Some other things that I’ve found that comfort me while I’m sick:

* Club soda or mineral water: The bubbles help me burp, which makes my stomach feel better. And, HYDRATION!
* Skip the dairy: It can make you even more snotty/sniffly/mucous-y.
* Skip the crackers: Try carb-dense veggies like sweet potato, butternut squash or pumpkin instead of Saltines for a queasy stomach that needs something that’s easy to digest
* Ginger and apples: An old cruise ship remedy to help battle nausea – fresh or pickled ginger and sliced apples
* Broth: Beef, chicken, veggie, all help with a sore throat, warm you up from the chills, and hydrate you
* Real Food: When I’m feeling up to eating something, I like to eat some of the above soup or some plain chicken breasts cooked with a little oil and salt and pepper.
* Herbal teas: Check out your local tea shop, Whole Foods, or grocery store and you’ll find some great teas that help soothe the throat, aid in digestion, calm, and clear up congestion.
* Sleep: Lots of it. I’d rather be awake for far less hours than I’m asleep when I’m sick.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

There's Sugar In That?

Fructose, corn syrup, honey, agave, molasses, dextrose, barley malt, caramel, glucose, sucrose, brown rice syrup, fruit juice concentrate, lactose, maltose, sorghum syrup, sorbital, maltodextrin... Here's a list of 50 lesser known terms for sugar and here's some definitions and applications of sugar and its associates. Be forewarned - these lists are not comprehensive but do cover quite a few bases. And no matter what you call it, make no mistake; it's SUGAR - sweet, delicious, insulin spiking sugar. The "average" American consumes 1/3 of a pound of sugar or 21 teaspoons, of the 'white stuff' every day. We all know and expect it to be in sweet tasting foods and food products, but many foods that get a "health halo" from magazines, media, and health professionals are also packed with the stuff. Here's a look at some of the places sugar hides out... (As a comparison a 12 ounce soda has about 40 grams of sugar).

What does this tell us? Food Manufacturer's are SNEAKY - there's sugar hiding in places you'd never think of looking! Check ingredient labels - or better yet, choose foods that don't have ingredient labels: lean or grass fed meats, vegetables, healthy fats (avocado, coconut, etc.), and some fruit. The best food doesn't need "ingredients" to make it taste good - and that's the "sweet" and simple truth.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Claim: Side Stitches? Change Your Posture

For many avid runners, side stitches can be a maddening problem: the cramplike spasms set in suddenly and can ruin a good workout. While no one knows their precise cause, many experts believe a side stitch occurs when the diaphragm — which is vital to breathing — is overworked during a vigorous run and begins to spasm. Runners who develop stitches are commonly advised to slow down and take deep, controlled breaths.

But a new theory suggests that it may not be the diaphragm that’s responsible for the pain, and that poor posture could be a culprit. In one recent study, researchers used a device to measure muscle activity as people were experiencing side stitches. They found no evidence of increased activity or spasms in the diaphragm area during the onset of stitches.

Last year, the same team published a separate study in The Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. They found that those who regularly slouched or hunched their backs were more likely to experience side stitches, and the poorer their posture, the more severe their stitches in exercise.

One explanation is that poor running form may affect nerves that run from the upper back to the abdomen. Another is that hunching increases friction on the peritoneum, a membrane that surrounds the abdominal cavity. This could also explain why controlled breathing seems to help relieve stitches: drawing deep breaths fills the lungs and improves posture.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

How to Protect Your Brain as You Age

Dr. Mercola

As the human life span increases, dementia is becoming more common -- but you can minimize your risk of being affected.

Research shows that factors ranging from blood pressure and weight to degree of physical and mental activity can influence cognitive functioning. There is growing evidence that dementia can be attributed, at least partially, to a lifelong exposure to different risk factors.

Eurekalert reports:

“... [Active involvement in mental, physical and social activities can delay the onset of dementia by preserving cognitive functions. Further education early in life has a protective effect, and ... research has shown that it is never too late to get started ... [P]hysical factors are also significant. Not only high and low blood pressure, but also diabetes and obesity”.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

How to fight germs and stay healthy when you travel

from USA Today

Be wary of the airplane lavatory.

With scores using a tiny restroom on a flight, it's "hands-down the germiest place on the trip," says Peter Sheldon, vice president of operations and development for Coverall Health-Based Cleaning System (which franchises commercial cleaning businesses). "Numerous studies have shown that these are teeming with E. coli on almost every surface." Because they are rarely sanitized during flights, "there is also the cumulative effect of hundreds of users," he says. "The tiny sink makes it nearly impossible to thoroughly wash your hands. Those who manage that are instantly greeted by the germy door handle upon departure."

"Avoid using the onboard facilities, if at all possible. If you must, use a paper towel to turn faucets off and on, to close the lid before flushing and to open the door. Carry sanitizing wipes in your pocket and use them thoroughly upon exit. Back at your seat, repeat sanitizing if you've touched anything along the way."

Physician Aaron E. Glatt, CEO of St. Joseph Hospital in Bethpage, N.Y., and spokesman for the Infectious Disease Society of America, concurs. Presume an airplane lavatory is "teeming with bacteria," he says. "I suggest you minimize your contact" with anything in it. Such measures as opening the door with a paper towel are "an intelligent thing to do. At the hospital, we shut off (faucets) with a paper towel."

Sanitize your seat on a plane.

Cleaning expert Sheldon and his wife pack disinfectant wipes and "wipe down any surface that we're using. I wipe down the seat, armrests and tray tables." He avoids picking up magazines in seat-back pockets, which he says may harbor germs from previous passengers. Physician Martin Myers, director of the National Network for Immunization Information, uses a sanitizing wipe or washes his hands after reading.

The tray table, Sheldon says, may be rarely scoured and is a hotbed for germs.

Being in an enclosed cabin is "particularly risky for airborne-spread diseases" such as measles, since viral particles can stay in the air for a while, immunization specialist Myers says. Wearing a face mask could help.

Finally, don't rub your eyes or touch your nose or mouth, he says. People tend to do that multiple times an hour; that's how many diseases spread.

Avoid airline pillows and blankets.

"On a typical flight with 100 passengers, statistics show that about five will be ill with a cold or the flu," Sheldon says.

"There's a good chance you could be using a pillow that's been drooled on or sneezed on" recently. He advises bringing a pillow and a jacket or coat for warmth.

Don't go barefoot at security checkpoints.

Though you must take off shoes at U.S. airports, wear or bring socks, Sheldon says, to avoid athlete's foot and other fungal infections. Physician Glatt says travelers probably won't pick up a disease on an airport floor, especially if it isn't damp, but it's not a bad idea to wear socks.

Beware touching the TV remote, alarm clock and ice bucket in hotel rooms.

Unlike hotel bathrooms, "they're generally not cleaned between guests," Sheldon says. "You are at the mercy of the guests that have been there before." Some buckets do have plastic bags changed for each guest, but lids and outsides can be germy, he says.

He wipes down remotes (you also can cover them with plastic wrap or special clear gloves). He also is wary of hotel glasses and once saw a housekeeper swab out a coffeemaker with a toilet brush. Solution: Wash them yourselves.

And then there's the steering wheel and gearshift of rental cars. Yes, Sheldon wipes them, too.

Indeed, germs can live on surfaces for hours and even days in a moist environment, physician Glatt says. But "we can't go crazy" to avoid germs.

Don't obsess about it, Sheldon agrees. "Germs are everywhere. It's just about reducing risk. You're taking a defensive hygienic posture."

Friday, March 4, 2011

Training In The Heat Even Helps Competing In Cool Temps

By Dan Peterson

Turning up the heat might be the best thing for athletes competing in cool weather, according to a new study by human physiology researchers at the University of Oregon. Published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, the paper examined the impact of heat acclimation to improve athletic performance in hot and cool environments.

Researchers conducted exercise tests on 12 highly trained cyclists -- 10 males and two females -- before and after a 10-day heat acclimation program. Participants underwent physiological and performance tests under both hot and cool conditions. A separate control group of eight highly trained cyclists underwent testing and followed the same exercise regime in a cool environment.

The data concluded that heat acclimation exposure provided considerable ergogenic benefits in cool conditions, in addition to the expected performance benefits in the hot environment. The study is the first to evaluate impacts of heat acclimation on aerobic performance in cool conditions.

"Our findings could have significant impacts in the competitive sports world," said Santiago Lorenzo, a researcher who performed the work as part of his dissertation at the University of Oregon. He is now completing post-doctoral training in the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center) at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

The study found performance increases of approximately 7 percent after 10 heat acclimation exposures. "In terms of competitive cycling, 7 percent is a really big increase and could mean that cyclists could use this approach to improve their performance in cooler weather conditions," said Lorenzo. However, the heat exposures must be in addition to the athletes' normal training regimen.
Heat acclimation improves the body's ability to control body temperature, improves sweating and increases blood flow through the skin, and expands blood volume allowing the heart to pump to more blood to muscles, organs and the skin as needed.
Another approach using the environment to improve exercise performance is a "live high/train low" regimen, which means residing at a high altitude and training at a low altitude. Many athletes worldwide now use this approach. According to Lorenzo, "heat acclimation is more practical, easier to apply and may yield more robust physiological adaptations."

The study was conducted in the Evonuk Environmental Physiology Core lab at the UO department of human physiology. The climatic chamber was set at 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) for heat testing and 13 degrees Celsius (55 degrees Fahrenheit) for cool conditions with consistent humidity (30 percent relative humidity) for the cyclists' exercise tests.

According to Christopher Minson, co-director of the Evonuk lab, head of the UO human physiology department and study co-author, researchers also concluded that the heat may produce changes in the exercising muscle, including enzymatic changes that could improve the amount of work done by the muscle, but he says future research will have to examine it further.

"A next step is to determine whether heat acclimation improves performance in a competitive or real-world setting," said Minson.

He also notes possible implications for people with cardiac or other limitations such as paralysis that don't allow for the full cardiovascular benefits of exercise. If heat can be added, "it's conceivable that they would gain further cardiovascular benefits than exercise alone in a cool environment. These are exciting questions that deserve further study," said Minson.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


February 28, 2011

Frank Woodruff Buckles, a onetime Missouri farm boy who was the last known living American veteran of World War I, has died. He was 110.

Buckles, who later spent more than three years in a Japanese POW camp as a civilian in the Philippines during World War II, died Sunday of natural causes at his home in Charles Town, W.Va.