Thursday, September 29, 2011

Vitamin D and muscle injuries

I’m on the record as a bit of a vitamin D skeptic. Not a total skeptic, mind you — it’s actually the only supplement of any kind that I take on a regular basis these days. But the claims that vitamin D enhances athletic performance have seemed pretty weak to me so far. However, I’ll dutifully pass along this press release from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, which describes some new research linking vitamin D levels with muscle injuries in NFL football players.

The study: 89 players from one NFL team were tested for vitamin D levels in spring 2010, during pre-season. Not surprisingly, the levels were generally low compared to what’s considered desirable (which seems to be true for pretty much every population group in the developed world):

Twenty-seven players had deficient levels (< 20 ng/ML) and an additional 45 had levels consistent with insufficiency (20-31.9 ng/mL). Seventeen players had values within normal limits (>32 ng/mL).

The team then provided data on time missed due to injuries during the season. Sure enough, players who suffered muscle injuries has “significantly lower levels” of vitamin D. How much lower? It’s not clear: this is conference data, so not yet published in a journal, and unfortunately the press release release doesn’t do a very good job of presenting the data. The average level for players with a muscle injury was 19.9, but it doesn’t tell us what the average for uninjured players was.

First thing to wonder: is it this cause or correlation? Do the players with crappy diets also neglect their strength, flexbility and warm-up routine? Second thing: if it is causal, what’s the mechanism? Why does this work?

Leaving that aside, I’ll just reiterate my hair-splitting distinction between a “performance-enhancing” substance and one that hurts performance if you’re deficient in it. Water helps your performance if you’re dehydrated, but we don’t consider it an ergogenic aid. As far as I can tell, vitamin D falls into the same category: something that you shouldn’t be deficient in, whether you’re an athlete or not. But I’m still not convinced that more is better if you’re in a healthy range.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Five health-enhancing foods that don't even seem like health foods

( When observing the typical diet of American consumers, with all the fried foods, aspartame-laced "diet" products and pasteurized, hormone-ridden dairy products that typical people consume, I sometimes ask myself a question that perhaps you've pondered, too: What on Earth is keeping all these people alive?

The answers may surprise you. Hidden inside the typical western diet of highly-toxic processed foods are gems of natural medicine that you'd never suspect are really health foods. So here, I've assembled a short list of the five most powerful health-enhancing foods that don't seem like health foods but which are quite possibly the one remaining source of natural medicines for mainstream consumers.

#1 - Mustard
Mustard, believe it or not, is a medicinal paste made from the seed of the mustard plant. It's a superfood that's been around for at least 5,000 years, and it's one of the few common sources of cancer-busting selenium, a trace mineral often missing from over-farmed soils.
Mustard is known to help in reducing migraines, and it's a natural anti-fungal and antiseptic. Another benefit of mustard is that it's never made with MSG or yeast extract. Mustard products -- even conventional products from non-health-food companies -- are still very healthful to consume.

#2 - Cole Slaw
Cole slaw is made out of one of the most powerful natural medicines in the food kingdom: Raw cabbage.
Raw cabbage is a proven cure for stomach ulcers. It's also an amazing anti-cancer food with that can help prevent (or even reverse) many types of cancer. Throughout the history of the civilized world, cabbage has been one of the most medicinal foods ever consumed. It's also good for you when cooked (cabbage soup) or fermented (sauerkraut).

Cabbage is rich in indole-3-carbinol (I3C), one of its many anti-cancer nutrients. Click here to read more about I3C:

It's best to make your own cole slaw at home, but if you purchase store-bought cole slaw, be sure to avoid processed ingredients often used in cheaper cole slaw recipes such as high-fructose corn syrup and canola oil (which is often GMO).

#3 - Cinnamon, cloves, rosemary, paprika and other spices
Nearly all the pungent cooking spices are actually powerful medicines.

Cinnamon, for example, helps regulate blood sugar in diabetics. Cloves are the No. 1 source for the highest density of antioxidants found in the entire food supply. (Yes, they have a higher ORAC value than any other food or spice.)

Rosemary is a powerful digestive tonic and internal detoxification herb. Ginger is legendary as an immune-boosting, circulation-enhancing tonic herb that's also fantastic for beating winter colds and flu. Ginger even works to relieve muscle pain!

If you're into curry, then you'll be glad to know that turmeric, the main ingredient in curry, is also an amazing source of natural medicines. It's a powerful anti-cancer as well as an anti-inflammatory medicine. If you really want great pricing on curry powder and other spices in bulk, visit a Middle Eastern food store in your local area, where these aromatic spices are often sold at the best prices in town.

In Southern and Midwestern cuisine, barbeque sauce is a surprisingly good source of bitter alkaloids and health-enhancing spices (often including mustard and paprika), but this is only true with the rich, homemade sauces, not the processed "Kraft Foods" sauces (which are usually loaded with sweeteners and highly processed ingredients).

Nearly all the common spices you find in grocery stores are medicinal foods. But avoid common table salt (or white "sea salt") because it's just a processed, refined combination of two poisons. The only salt you should regularly consume is a full-spectrum salt that's off-white in color, such as Celtic salt or Royal Himalayan Pink Crystal salt

#4 - Raisins
Raisins may not sound super cool, but if you think about what they really are, it becomes obvious how powerful they can be as natural medicine. Raisins are dried grapes, of course, meaning they contain all the natural medicine of grape skins.

Remember: Most of the medicine in grapes is found in the skin (and the seeds, but most raisins are made from seedless grapes). This is why it's so important to buy only organic raisins, because grapes sprayed with fungicides have low levels of resveratrol. Organic grapes have the highest levels of resveratrol, which is one of the most miraculous natural medicines in the world .
Raisins are also very high in naturally-occurring antioxidants, making them a fantastic overall source of nutrition. When consumed with nuts, their glycemic index is slowed, so I recommend eating raisins with things such as pecans or walnuts (both of which superfoods in their own way, as you'll see below).

#5 - Common nuts: Walnuts, pecans, peanuts and more
Once again, nuts may not be on your list of the "coolest" foods, but they probably should be: Walnuts are an amazing natural medicine that helps reduce the risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease. They're very high in natural antioxidants and also help reduce the risk of prostate cancer (

Pecans boost brain protection and also help lower cholesterol levels Almonds are now being widely used to make almond milk ( and even peanuts are now making a comeback as a health food .

Just remember: When you buy nuts, raw is best because heat processing destroys the natural medicine found in foods. Avoid "salted" nuts because they're almost always salted with toxic sodium chloride (simple table salt). Avoid "flavored" nuts because they almost always -- yes, nearly ALWAYS -- are made with MSG flavor enhancers such as yeast extract or autolyzed proteins.

Just look for plain, simple, unsalted nuts... then find ways to work those into your recipes or smoothies. I like to blend cashews into smoothies to give them a creamy milk-like flavor!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Green tea alters gene expression to improve cholesterol metabolism

(NaturalNews) Green tea consumption has been shown to benefit many health issues ranging from help with weight management to cancer prevention and treatment. New research published in the British Journal of Nutrition explains that the natural extract from the Camellia sinensis plant has a powerful effect on cholesterol metabolism in the human body. Most forward thinking health professionals understand that dysfunction in the LDL cholesterol pathway lays the foundation for cardiovascular health problems, cancer and fatty liver disease. Regular green tea consumption is now shown to improve healthy LDL cholesterol function, enabling the fatty molecule to efficiently usher excess cholesterol from the body and to improve risk factors for many chronic disease conditions.

In one of the first studies of its type, researchers performed DNA microarray analysis to examine the effect of the active compound found in green tea called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Scientists specifically targeted the catechin to determine their effect on cholesterol metabolism in HepG2 hepatocytes. They determined that the expression levels of several genes related to cholesterol metabolism, including the LDL receptor, were changed by EGCG treatment.

EGCG was found to boost the function of the LDL receptor on liver cells. Researchers commented "This is very important as proper function of the LDL receptor enables your liver to "capture" circulating LDL and recycle it." In this study, green tea is shown to alter gene expression toward healthy LDL cholesterol metabolism by improving receptor acceptance by the liver. The liver displays an improved capacity to capture and filter LDL cholesterol for removal from the body.

In addition to the finding that green tea alters LDL cholesterol metabolism, ECGC was found to inhibit genes to reduce the production of Apolipoprotein B (ApoB). ApoB formation is required to initially form LDL molecules in the blood. Excess production of ApoB is a significant marker for chronic illnesses ranging from cardiovascular disease and heart attack to increased risk of cancer and dementia.

Green tea and the active compound EGCG are quickly ascending to nutritional "superstar" status. The Chinese have extolled its virtues for countless generations. Researchers now document the prowess of this nutrient by scientifically validating the direct impact exerted on our genetic structure to affect healthy cholesterol function and removal from the body. The healthy benefits of green tea are realized by drinking several fresh brewed cups of organically harvested leaves each day or by supplementing with 250 to 500 mg of EGCG extract.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Peter's Pacing Principles

Before earning his Ph.D. in exercise physiology, Peter Snell was, of course, a three-time Olympic gold medalist who also set five world records. Here is his advice on long runs:

Two primary systems are responsible for the delivery of oxygen to the muscles and its utilization for energy production: first, the heart and circulation, which deliver oxygen to the muscles. The muscles constitute the second system whereby oxygen is extracted from the blood and enters the mitochondria where the major energy-producing pathways reside.

VO2 max is a measure of the capacity for oxygen delivery more correctly known as aerobic power and depends on cardiac performance. Aerobic capacity refers to the extent to which a runner can sustain their aerobic power and this is dependent on muscle adaptation, which seems to take years to fully develop compared to VO2 max.

After VO2 max is fully developed in the first six months of endurance training, continued runs of about 70 percent VO2 max for at least 90 minutes are effective for further muscle adaptations, including capillary growth. By the process of glycogen depletion, muscle fibers initially active drop out after the first hour (roughly) and others, including fast-twitch, are called into action. Normally these fast-twitch fibers would only be recruited during high-intensity interval training. (Two roads to Rome here.) It's axiomatic that for a fiber to adapt it must be stimulated to contract; how much, how often is up in the air, which is why training is still an art.

If the distance running is too slow, it's likely that the energy can be provided largely by fat metabolism, thus sparing muscle glycogen. This means that once conditioned, the runner needs to run at close to maximal steady state pace during these longer runs.

Finally, all running presents an adaptive stimulus to the heart, the circulation and the muscle fibers. It's a question of understanding when the law of diminishing returns kicks in for a particular system.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What are the best fats or oils to use for cooking?


1. Saturated fats are more STABLE than unsaturated fats. Quite literally, the chemical structure of saturated fats will not be easily damaged by things that will easily damage unsaturated fats, namely heat, light and air. Ever wonder why your high-quality olive oils are sold in a dark green glass or other opaque container? It’s to keep light from damaging the oil. Ever wonder why coconut oil doesn’t go “off” or smell rancid from sitting out on the counter without a lid on it but a vegetable oil like corn or soybean oil will? Air oxidizes those oils and makes them rancid. That is, damaged beyond the point that they are already just from the point of bottling. What separates the saturated fats from the unsaturated fats is the presence of a hydrogen bond at every instance of a carbon in the chemical structure of the fat. When there is a double bond in the chain of carbons, it creates a more unstable structure, which you can see when a fat is liquid at room temperature: the group of unstable fats together form a liquid versus the group of stable fats together which form a solid or semi-solid.

2. Seed oils are extremely high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) at varying ratios, all of which are prone to oxidation, PUFAs most significantly. You wouldn’t cook with fish oil, would you? Why would you want to cook with other oils that are very high in PUFAs? Even beyond PUFAs, MUFAs are pretty easy to damage as well (olive oil is very high in MUFAs). Re-read this post for more on why canola and other seed oils all made by expeller and chemical extraction methods are already rancid once they’re bottled as well as this post on how they’re made.

3. BEWARE: Many refined seed oils are marketed as having a high smoke point, therefore making them “ideal” choices for cooking. That’s not really the whole story. A higher smoke point is valid only if the fat or oil is fairly stable to begin with, and it may be useful in determining between two fats which is more ideal to use. That said, simply using the smoke point as a reason why you choose a cooking oil is an ineffective tool and will leave you with an already rancid oil on your hands (most likely, due to how it was initially processed – see links above and the video below on how canola oil is made below) and one that you’ll possibly damage further with the high heat of your skillet.
So, which fats ARE safe and recommended for cooking?

I’ve created a handy chart for you of common cooking fats & oils ranking them in order of best to worst for cooking (see below). Note that this is not a complete list of every possible fat or oil that exists. Nor is it my comprehensive list of Fats/Oils: Which to Eat & Which to Ditch that you can download here. I will likely update the Ranking of Common Cooking Fats chart as I come across more information or have more resources at my fingertips since some of my usual resources are currently out of reach. What you can do is use the chart as a tool and see where the fat or oil you find may fall within the chart based on it’s fatty acid composition as well as it’s smoke point using resources like the books “Know Your Fats” and “Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill” as well as websites like or others listing fatty acid composition of cooking fats/oils as a resource.

It’s safe to assume, however, that most naturally occurring saturated fats are safe to cook with, while most unsaturated fats (called oils because they are liquid at ambient room temperature) are unsafe to cook with and are most ideal for cold uses if appropriate for consumption at all. Remember that man made trans-fats are never healthy to eat: Crisco, Earth Balance, Smart Balance, Benecol, Margarine, Country Crock, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and the new one claiming to be a coconut product but it actually contains soybean oil… yeah, those are all a “never.”

Before you post a comment asking about this oil or that oil… USE THE RANKING SYSTEM BELOW to figure out where it would fall. Those with the highest percentage of saturated fatty acids (SFAs) and with the highest smoke point rank at the top while those with the highest percentage of PUFAs and lowest smoke point at the bottom. Then, make the call for yourself whether you want to 1- cook with it, 2- use it cold- or 3- avoid it entirely.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Shocking Truth about Inflammation

Natural alternatives to drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen
by Charles Poliquin

Here’s an interesting fact: The body doesn’t like doing things that cause pain. If it hurts a golfer’s lower back to stretch into a full backswing, their body will instinctively find ways to alter its biomechanics to prevent experiencing that pain again – even if it results in a few extra strokes on the scorecard. To resolve this crisis and maintain their game, golfers and other athletes will often turn to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. Likewise, other athletes have turned to NSAIDs to deal with pain and inflammation that often is associated with playing sports at an elite or even recreational level. There’s more.

Pain and inflammation are associated with many common activities, such as headaches, arthritis and menstrual problems – and consider that on any given day, an estimated 20 percent of Americans suffer from back pain. As such, an estimated 30 million Americans take over-the-counter drugs daily to deal with pain and inflammation. This is not a good thing, as there are many consequences from using these drugs, especially if taken regularly. Let’s begin.

In 1999 The New England Journal of Medicine published a report that extrapolated that the deaths per year from NSAIDs are 16,500 – that’s per year – just from the gastrointestinal side effects. That was over a decade ago! And the FDA reported that in the first three months of 2008, there were over 2,700 deaths from NSAIDs. Even one dose has its risks. According to a 2009 report in the Annals of Medicine, complications can occur from taking anti-inflammatory drugs and the risk is “is present from the first dose.” Side effects include liver problems, stomach upset, blood disorders, vision problems…well, you get the idea. That’s bad news.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

New Study Finds These Vitamins Slow the Onset of Alzheimer's

By Dr. Mercola |

Recent research shows that large doses of B-vitamins could slow cognitive decline in older people. Such a mental decline can be the precursor to dementias such as Alzheimer's disease.

The research found that large quantities of vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid reduced overall brain shrinkage by 30% over the course of the two-year study.

According to The Guardian:

“Taking B vitamins and folic acid is known to control the levels of an amino acid called homocysteine in the blood. High levels of this chemical can damage blood vessels and are associated with increased risk of dementia.”

Friday, September 16, 2011

Transitioning to natural cleaning

by Wellness Mama!!

Transitioning to natural cleaning options is much easier than most people expect. In fact, you likely already have most of the necessary ingredients in your pantry!

From floors, to bathrooms, to glass, most surfaces can be cleaned just as well or better with natural options. You can save money and keep your house clean with exposing yourself or your family to the chemicals in most common household cleaners and products.

The natural ingredients I always keep on hand are:

Distilled White Vinegar
Baking Soda
Washing Soda (on laundry aisle of most stores)
Borax (on laundry aisle of most stores)
Liquid Castille Soap
Essential Oils (for scent only)

With these simple ingredients, you can clean practically anything in your house naturally. For instance:

Natural All-Purpose Cleaner

In a spray bottle mix:

1 tsp borax
1/2 tsp washing soda
1 tsp liquid castille soap
essential oils as preferred- I use 4 drops lemon, 4 drops lavender and 10 drops orange

Add 2 cups of warm water. Distilled is best, but any water that has been boiled will work. Cover bottle and shake well. Use as needed. I use as bathroom cleaner, floor pre-treater, kitchen cleaner and on toys to disinfect.

Natural Glass Cleaner

In a 16 oz or bigger spray bottle mix:

1 quart water
2 tablespoons vinegar
10-15 drops essential oil (optional, but helps the vinegar smell)

Shake bottle and spray on windows. Use crumpled newspaper or cotton cloth to wipe off. If you have always used commercial window cleaner in the past, mix a couple drops of liquid castille soap or liquid dish soap in some of this mixture the first time you clean the windows to remove detergent residue.

Natural Cleaning For Wood Floors

Combine 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/2 cup vegetable oil (finally a good use for it!) Mix well and rub lightly into floors to bring back shine and clean spots. Add a few drops of essential oil of choice for nice scent.

Natural Cleaning for Tile or Linoleum

Mix equal parts of vinegar and water and damp mop. For really tough stains, pre-treat with 2 T washing soda dissolved in 16 ounces of water. Mop well and damp mop with pure water to rinse.

Natural Stain Removal for Carpet

Mix equal parts of vinegar and water. Spray on stains, let sit for 5 minutes and scrub with soft brush. Add 1-2 drops of dishwashing liquid for tough stains.

For tough grease stains, pour cornstarch liberally on the stain and let sit until dry. Vacuum up and then use method above.

For heavy duty stains that won’t come out, mix 1/4 cup each of salt, borax and vinegar and rub into the stain. Let sit until dry and vacuum up. Use methods above if any part of the stain remains.

Natural Scouring Powder for Tough Stains and Tubs


2 parts baking soda
1 part salt
1 part borax powder

To Make:

Pour ingredients into jar or bowl.
Mix or stir until well mixed.
If you want to make a shaker, put in a pint or quart mason jar and poke some holes in the top (carefully) with a sharp serrated knife.

To Use:

Lightly wet surface with water or undiluted white vinegar (for really bad messes)
Sprinkle powder on and let sit 5 minutes
Scrub with sturdy brush until clean
Rinse with water or vinegar (for really bad messes)

Effortless Natural Oven Cleaning

Though it seems like a simple fix, baking soda is really effective and makes the daunting task of oven cleaning a little easier. All I have to do to get a shining oven is spray the whole oven down with a water bottle so that it is damp, and pour on a thick layer or baking soda, especially on the bottom, until there is about 1/4 inch layer of baking soda paste on the bottom. If any of the baking soda is still dry, I mist it with the water bottle.

Then, I walk away, and leave the baking soda there for a few hours (with the oven off, unless you want to see some amateur special effects… I don’t recommend this!) After a few hours I simply wipe up the paste with a cloth and all the grime comes with it. For really baked on grime, this may take a couple applications, but it always works and it is 100% natural!

Thursday, September 15, 2011


By Dr. Mercola |

The health benefits of ginger are astonishing. It is more effective against bacterial staph infections than antibiotics, it can kill cancer cells, it can resolve brain inflammations, it can fight radiation damage, and it can ease or cure a variety of gut problems.

The compounds in ginger responsible for its health benefits may include shogaol, zingerone, and gingerols; however, trying to find the active ingredient in a herb and use it alone tends to diminish its effects and remove balancing components.

Gaia Health has assembled a list of ginger’s beneficial properties, which you can take a look at, at the link below. According to that website:

“The range and severity of conditions that ginger can help is stunning, and the degree of effectiveness is even more amazing. It's time for modern medicine to take a step back and ask itself how it got on such a wrong track. When drugs and treatments that are less effective and also full of adverse effects are used instead of first looking to a natural treatment like ginger, then surely a wrong turn has been taken.”

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The finishing kick is in your head, not your legs

from Sweat Science

Another cool study showing that your brain always holds back a little energy even during “maximal” effort — and that you can access this reserve during your finishing kick. This one comes from Northumbria University in the UK, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, and it’s fairly straightforward. Nine trained cyclists each do three 4,000-metre time trials on a stationary bike hooked up to pseudo-virtual-reality computer system:

a baseline trial where they go as fast as they can;
a “race” where they compete against an avatar representing their baseline performance;
another “race” where they compete against an avatar which they’re told represents their baseline performance, but is actually going 2% faster (the second and third trials were given in random order to avoid learning effects).

The results: as you might expect, when racing against their previous performance, the cyclists were able to eke out a little extra energy, finishing 1.0% faster on average. But crucially, when they were deceived into competing against a faster avatar, they managed an even bigger boost, improving their time by 1.7%! Interestingly, an earlier study that tried something similar but gave feedback that was off by 5% produced the opposite result, because the cyclists were tricked into going out too fast and eventually crashed — so this isn’t an unlimited technique that will allow you to travel at the speed of light.

On the surface, these results aren’t really that surprising. Knowing how the human body (and mind) work, that’s pretty much what we’d expect. But it’s important to realize that this conflicts with the conventional understanding of how physiological constraints limit our performance. Whatever factors determined the baseline finishing times, they clearly weren’t absolute physiological limits, because the cyclists were able to beat them a few days later.

Further analysis of the data shows that in the deception trial, the cyclists had to start supplying more anaerobic power in the final 10 percent of the race in a desperate attempt to keep up with their supercharged rival. Here’s the graph of aerobic and anaerobic power contributions in the three trials (baseline, accurate and deception):

This graph sheds some interesting light on a longstanding debate about the origins of the “finishing kick,” which is a pretty much universal phenomenon in endurance races lasting longer than a few minutes. Why are we able to accelerate at the end, when we should be at our most tired? The conventional answer is that we’ve been relying primarily on aerobic energy throughout the race, but as the finish line approaches, we can mobilize anaerobic sources — the same ones we’d use to sprint 100 metres — and exhaust them just as we cross the line. The “alternate” explanation is that the brain has been limiting exertion in order to preserve homeostasis, but permits us to access some of those reserves as we approach the finish line (with the implicit promise that we’ll then stop and allow the body to recover).

It’s certainly true that the extra power needed for the finishing kick comes from anaerobic energy sources. But it’s also clear that, in the baseline trial and even in the “accurate” competition trial, the cyclists didn’t fully exhaust their anaerobic energy stores. Why not? The answer can lie only in the brain.

So what’s the practical takeaway? Well, I suppose if you can convince your real-life competitors to run 2% faster than normal without telling you, that would help! But realistically, I think this is a situation where knowledge is, literally, power. When you approach the finish of a race, you DO have energy remaining, despite what your mind and body are telling you. Believing that beyond a shadow of a doubt is, I believe, the first step to accessing it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Simple Step to Radically Reduce

By Dr. Mercola

Most people who get nighttime heartburn have heard the advice that they should avoid eating any later than three to four hours before bedtime. But although the advice is ages old, it’s only recently been studied scientifically.

And according to the researchers, it’s a good rule to follow. One study found that eating dinner within three house of sleep was associated with a sevenfold increase in the risk of reflux symptoms. Another study confirmed the result, finding that a late evening meal created significantly more reflux.

According to the New York Times:

“As for why three to four hours is the threshold, researchers say that is roughly the amount of time it takes for food to clear the stomach. In chronic heartburn, stomach acid slips into the esophagus, and that’s more likely when lying in bed shortly after a meal, when gravity is not helping to keep digestive juices in the stomach.”

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It's official -- chocolate linked to heart health

High levels of chocolate consumption might be associated with a one third reduction in the risk of developing heart disease, finds a study published on today.

The findings confirm results of existing studies that generally agree on a potential beneficial link between chocolate consumption and heart health. However, the authors stress that further studies are needed to test whether chocolate actually causes this reduction or if it can be explained by some other unmeasured (confounding) factor.

The findings will be presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Paris at 10:10 hrs (Paris time) / 09:10 hrs (UK time) on Monday 29 August 2011.

The World Health Organisation predicts that by 2030, nearly 23.6 million people will die from heart disease. However, lifestyle and diet are key factors in preventing heart disease, says the paper.

A number of recent studies have shown that eating chocolate has a positive influence on human health due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This includes reducing blood pressure and improving insulin sensitivity (a stage in the development of diabetes).

However, the evidence about how eating chocolate affects your heart still remains unclear. So, Dr Oscar Franco and colleagues from the University of Cambridge carried out a large scale review of the existing evidence to evaluate the effects of eating chocolate on cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke.

They analysed the results of seven studies, involving over 100,000 participants with and without existing heart disease. For each study, they compared the group with the highest chocolate consumption against the group with the lowest consumption. Differences in study design and quality were also taken into account to minimise bias.

Five studies reported a beneficial link between higher levels of chocolate consumption and the risk of cardiovascular events. They found that the "highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29% reduction in stroke compared with lowest levels." No significant reduction was found in relation to heart failure.

The studies did not differentiate between dark or milk chocolate and included consumption of chocolate bars, drinks, biscuits and desserts.

The authors say the findings need to be interpreted with caution, in particular because commercially available chocolate is very calorific (around 500 calories for every 100 grams) and eating too much of it could lead to weight gain, risk of diabetes and heart disease.

However, they conclude that given the health benefits of eating chocolate, initiatives to reduce the current fat and sugar content in most chocolate products should be explored.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Water Burns Fat


Anything that I put into my body, or recommend to our athletes, generally has 2 goals; build muscle and lose fat. After all, we’re not trying to be the best at exercising (hat tip Kenny Powers) so the concept of nutrition as fuel is highly overrated for power sports. For example, we already know you don’t need to “carbo-load” with pasta dinners to prepare for a football, basketball, or baseball game (see SpartaPoint 3/18/09).

But looking good, jumping high quickly, and running lightning fast for just 3 steps is something that definitely requires more muscle and less fat. So then who cares about hydrating if you play a power sport? After all, nobody sees your urine color. Well, water can actually preserve your muscle mass and help you burn fat.

A 2003 study out of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Clinical Nutrition in Basel, Switzerland looked at the effects of water on metabolism. These researchers specifically examined the effects of the hydration levels within cells, breaking the subjects up into dehydrated, normally hydrated, and well hydrated groups. The results demonstrated that the well hydrated group conserved muscle, a process called protein sparing, as well as increased lipolysis, the breakdown of fat.

We also know that water increases your ability to do more work within a workout (see Sparta Point 7/13/11) and keeps your hormone levels optimal for body composition, particularly by optimizing testosterone levels (see Sparta Point 10/27/10). So we can now add the metabolic benefits of muscle sparing and increased fat breakdown.

However, the goal remains the same; drink at least half your body weight in ounces. Or just get dehydrated; I’m sure that skinny fat physique will help you in some sport.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"Health"Magazine is NOT Very Healthy

by Nell Stephenson

I must have gotten on someone's mailing list. I received a random copy of a magazine called "Health" and I had a quick flip through it and began tearing out pages as blog topics, until I realized I needn't do that, as the entire publication was riddled with a plethora of misinformation that it is bordered on (sadly) laughable!

Amongst pieces like "8 Under 80 Calorie Treats" (describing snacks like jelly beans, glazed nuts and peanut butter cereal as great snack ideas), ads for Splenda promoting a great way to save 100 calories per day by swapping sugar for splenda and recipes for pizza and a chocolate salted caramel tart, I counted the following two to three page pull out banners for the following prescription meds:

1 for thinning hair
1 for artificial tears
2 for depression
1 for asthma
1 for calcium pills
2 for rheumatoid arthritis
1 for muscle pain
1 for a fat blocker
1 for clear skin
1 for over active bladder


1 for iron deficiency

So what does that sound like? Complete system failure? It sends a message that whatever is going wrong in your body can be treated by popping a simple pill. No need to investigate WHY you're breaking down in the first place. Oh, and just go ahead and disregard the side effects including but not limited to: dry mouth, constipation, urinary tract infection, seizures, blurry vision, heart failure, blood thinning, cancers, psoriasis, liver failure. weight gain and insomnia.

Think it might have anything to do with eating the "foods" so happily promoted in mags like this and by the ADA, like milk products, grains and legumes, not to mention the copious amounts of refined sugars and fried foods that are inhaled by so many?

What goes in your body does, in fact, play a HUGE role in how you feel.

Shocking, isn't it?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Eat Fruit? DON'T Eat Fruit? It's ALL About the Timing & the Glycemic Load!

by Nell Stephenson

There seems to be a lot of confusion about if and when eating fruit is Paleo.

Some eat WAY too much, and others eat none! Others still, not only don't eat enough fruit, but they also don't eat nearly enough veg. The latter case, incidentally, tends to warrant the complaint of "my digestion is off since I'm 'no longer getting enough fiber without my cereals/breads/grains' ".

There are many permutations of Paleo that I've witnessed clients implementing, but if the macro nutrient balance is not followed (roughly 40/30/30 in favor of unprocessed carbohydrate for all meals NOT before & after endurance training) and foods with high glycemic loads, like certain fruits, are eaten at the wrong times, THAT is where one can run into problems.

My favourite example is an endurance athlete's beloved bananas. Bananas tend to be higher on the glycemic index chart and lower in fiber, so they make a great snack, or part of a snack to have before or after a run. Conversely, cherries tend to be lower in sugar and higher in fiber, so they'd be a great choice to have as part of a salad, with some grilled turkey breast, avocado and meslun greens.

ALL fresh fruit IS part of the Paleo diet- just keep it in balance. For ALL meals not around training, follow this simple formula and you won't go wrong:

Start with veggies- the greener and/or darker, the better, and the more variety, the better. You choose- raw, steamed, sauteed.. whatever you're in the mood for.
THEN, add some clean protein- wild fish, free-range poultry, grass-fed meats or shellfish.
NEXT, add some good fat- avocado, or olive oil or coconut oil.
FINALLY, add a bit of fruit- a small apple, a handful or berries or some grapefruit segments.

Try not to think about snacks any differently than meals, as far as portion sizes and balance. I advise clients to get some veggies in each time they eat, and I do the same myself. I'm also a fan of eating small meals, often, throughout the day. If you're someone who needs 2,000 kcals/day, then try five, 400 calorie meals spaced out evenly.


Think about it- does it make sense to eat six bananas as a meal while you're sitting still at your desk, working? Doesn't it sound like a better option to have steamed kale, wild salmon, avocado, topped with some strawberries instead?

Fruit is NOT off limits; rather, it's an important, nutritious source of many micro nutrients!

Friday, September 2, 2011


Dairy Continued

Russian Roulette Using Dairy And Milk As The Gun

Commentary and summary by Billy E


First I want to make our position perfectly clear. We did not need cow’s milk to achieve good health for millions of years before the advent of agriculture. If we did, you would not be here today. Archeology informs us that we did not drink cow’s milk or eat dairy while we evolved in good health over the millions of years of evolution, until the advent of agriculture around 10,000 yag. Thus, the great majority of us did not evolve to eat or drink dairy in the short time of 10, 000 years since animal domestication.

Milk and dairy may cause diseases in some people such as: Lactose intolerance, Osteoporosis, Autoimmune disease, Allergies, Type 1 diabetes mellitus, and Ovarian cancer.

Will every one who eats cheese or drinks milk become ill with these diseases? The answer is a resounding NO! To be sure, some of us can drink milk and eat cheese. But, I know of no test to let us know just who can do this safely. If cow’s milk and cheese was not necessary for human good health and propagation over millions of years of human existence, it certainly is not necessary today. So, why take the chance and play Russian roulette with your health? There is nothing that milk provides that you can’t get from eating meat, fruits and vegetables. But, you can certainly consume dairy if you wish, and if you do, we wish you good luck.

Osteoporosis & the milk connection

North America has one of the highest consumptions of dairy products, and also the highest incidence of osteoporosis.

Source Toronto Vegetarian Association

Will I get osteoporosis if I do not consume dairy products? No you will not. Osteoporosis is a condition in which minerals are lost from the bones which causes them to more easily break. Many people think that consuming dairy is required to prevent osteoporosis. Plant foods such as vegetables and fruits can supply all of the necessary calcium and other nutrients necessary for good bone health. That is what our ancestors ate along with meat while not eating dairy for millions of years in perfect health. So, how can we believe that milk products are suddenly required for good health in the short time of 10,000 years that we are eating it? If it was not necessary before, it is not necessary now. Eat your fruits (fructose in moderation) and vegetables for an adequate calcium intake.

Over consummation of dietary protein is an often neglected cause of osteoporosis. The excess protein causes calcium to be taken from the bones and excreted in the urine. If our ancestors drank milk and ate cheese in addition to the animal protein that they normally consumed they would have given themselves an over load of protein and caused osteoporosis the same way many of us are presently doing. The fact that they did not speaks volumes. The amount of protein you would eat normally without eating any dairy at all would probably not cause a problem with calcium removal in the bones. Adding dairy to the mix could take you over the amount of protein it takes to vastly increase your calcium excretion in the urine and increase the risk of osteoporosis.

The Main factor that determines calcium loss is the acid base balance. If your diet has high levels of acid, you’ll lose more calcium in your urine; if you eat more alkaline foods you’ll retain more calcium. Unless you get enough fruits and vegetables, eating these acid rich foods will actually promote bone loss and osteoporosis. Acid foods are grains, dairy, and animal protein (with the worst offender being hard cheese). Alkaline foods are fruits and vegetables.

The Paleo Diet
Loren Cordain Ph.D

Most people who do not consume dairy do not get osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis can be avoided with lifestyle changes by avoiding dairy and eating plenty of dark green leafy vegetables which contain ample amounts of calcium such as: Dark green leaf lettuces, chards, cabbage, mustard greens, collard greens, and spinach.


Sherman P, Bloon G
Cornell University (2005, June 2). Lactose Intolerance Linked to Ancestral Environment. ScienceDaily.Retrieved September 17, 2010, from Toronto Vegetarian Association


Lactose intolerance

Human beings are the only species (other than house animals) to consume milk past childhood. We are also the only species to consume milk of another species. At about the age of four, most people around the world begin to lose the ability to digest lactose, the carbohydrate found in milk. The result is a condition called lactose intolerance that causes a range of unpleasant abdominal symptoms. Lactose intolerance is a reality for about 75% of the world’s population.

Allergies to dairy products can cause a wide range of symptoms including irritability, restlessness, hyperactivity, depression, abdominal pain, cramps or bloating, gas, diarrhea, bad breath, headaches, lack of energy, constipation, poor appetite, malabsorption of nutrients, nasal stuffiness, runny nose sinusitis, asthma, shortness of breath, rashes and eczema.

Source Toronto Vegetarian Association

Bovine milk allergenicity is due to the great variability and heterogeneity of the human IgE response, no single allergen or particular structure can account for a major part of milk allegenicity. Furthermore the available evidence is not sufficient to establish an intake threshold below which allergic reactions are not triggered or predict reliability the effect of food processing on allergenic potential of milk proteins.

Ann Allergy Asthma immunol 2004 Nov;93(5 Suppl 3):S2-11.
Wal JM
Laboratoire d’immuno-allergie Alimentaire, Service dr Pharmacologie, et d’lmmunologie, Gif sur Yvette, France.
PMID: 15562868 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Ovarian cancer is more common in northern Europe than in Asian populations and the consummation of milk products may be the reason. Studies have found that there is a higher risk of ovarian cancer in women who consume lactose (sugar in milk). This was the conclusion of a study published in 2004 that tracked 80,326 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study. A Swedish study of 61,084 women found that high intakes of lactose and dairy products, particularly milk, are associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

A prospective study of dietary lactose and ovarian cancer
Fairfield KM, Hunter DJ, Colditz GA, Fuchs CS, Cramer DW, Speizer FE, Willett WC, Hankinson SE.
Department of medicine , Brigham and Women’s hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston , MA, USA.
Int J Cancer 2004 Jun 10;110(2):271-7
PMID: 15069693 [PubMed) – indexed for MEDLINE]
Cows milk exposure and type 1 diabetes mellitus. A critical overview of the clinical literature.

Early cow’s milk exposure may be an important determinant of subsequent type 1 diabetes and may increase the risk approximately 1.5 times.

Diabetes Care. 1994 Jan;17(1):13-9
Gerstein HC
Department of medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Comment in:
Diabetes Care. 2001 Jan; 24(1): 180-2
PMID: 8112184 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

The personel health supporting lifesstyle I follow is dairy free low carbohydrate and high saturated fat. I include high dose vitamin D3 and vitamin K2. I also eat ample meat, vegetables, and fruit (1 cup of berries daily to control fructose). Because vitamin D3 is a dangerous hormone like vitamin, I only take it under the supervision of my doctor, as every one should.

Billy E

Shorter Intervals Created a Larger "Oxygen Debt"

The shorter intervals had a 90% greater oxygen uptake than the longer intervals. This created a larger oxygen debt. Why is oxygen debt important? When you train at an intense level, like sprinting, your body can't supply oxygen at a fast enough rate to fuel the muscles. After the intense effort is completed, your body has to basically repay that "borrowed energy"…it owes oxygen to get those muscles back to their normal state. The more energy your body borrowed during an intense effort the more oxygen it owes…this is called Oxygen Debt. The larger the oxygen debt created by your workout the longer it will take to repay it…with the benefit of more calories burned for a longer period of time after you are done exercising.