Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Protein Might Ward Off Afternoon Snooze

by —Christie Nicholson


Glucose can block brain cell secretion of orexin, which keeps us alert. But amino acids can stop that block. Christie Nicholson reports

The other afternoon I hit a classic mid-afternoon slump. Sleepy and sluggish, I grabbed for a bit of chocolate. But I probably should have had egg whites or maybe a piece of steak. Because a recent study in mice has found that it’s protein, not sugar, that provides the perk.

Brain cells called orexin cells secrete a stimulant that makes us energetic and tells the body to burn calories. If the cells’ activity decreases, narcolepsy or sudden sleepiness, is the result. The work is published in the journal Neuron. [Mahesh M. Karnani et al., "Activation of Central Orexin/Hypocretin Neurons by Dietary Amino Acids"]

Scientists marked orexin cells in mice brains so they would fluoresce. Then they tracked the cells’ activity after feeding the mice different kinds of food.

Turns out that glucose blocks the function of the orexin cells. This effect might be the main reason for the desired post-lunch siesta. But the researchers also found that amino acids stop the glucose action, keeping the cells active and the mice alert. So next time I get that 3 p.m. slow down, I’ll have an egg. If I’m alert enough to remember.


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Sunday, November 27, 2011

from Mark's Daily Apple

Dear Mark,

There are several “Green Drink” formulas on the market now – usually comprised of powdered dehydrated dark greens like spinach, kale, broccoli, etc. Do these confer the same benefits as eating the vegetables, and are they readily absorbable by our bodies?

Normally, humans have trouble extracting massive amounts of nutrition from raw greens like spinach, kale, and broccoli. We might enjoy the crunch they provide, the texture, and even the taste, but the simple fact is that we are not equipped with the necessary cellulase – a digestive enzyme – to fully breakdown the cellulose that makes up around a third of said raw leafy vegetables’ cellular structure. Without breaking down cellulose, we can’t access all the vitamins and nutrients located therein. The impressive stomachs of certain animals, like cows and sheep and gorillas, contain billions of symbiotic microorganisms that make cellulase so the animal can derive the bulk of their nutrition from fibrous plants, but ours do not.

That’s why we cook, chew, blend, liquefy, ferment, sprout, and process our food. So that we can bypass our physiological limitations and access the nutrients. What about green drinks?

As you point out, green drinks consist of powdered, dehydrated vegetable matter. Dehydrating and then turning into powder leafy greens should, in theory, break down enough cellulose to make the nutrients bioavailable to humans, similar to the idea behind consuming vegetable smoothies. There’s some evidence that blending fruit and vegetables into smoothies makes them more bioavailable, though the quality of research varies:

In one, apple smoothies resulted in greater absorption of apple polyphenols, but the controls were poor – two others groups who either consumed cloudy apple juice or apple cider. I would have liked to have seen a group that simply ate whole apples.
Another review paper (PDF) found that, by and large, increasing the surface area of a food (by juicing, chopping, blending, or pureeing) increases the bioavailability of the nutrients in that food. In other words, the more pieces and the smaller those pieces, the greater the nutrient accessibility.

Since powdered vegetation has far more exposed surface area than even well-chewed whole vegetation, I think the nutrients should be plenty bioavailable – assuming dehydration preserves nutrients. Does it?

Dehydration of leafy greens reduced carotene availability compared to fresh greens, but both groups of children – those who ate dehydrated greens and those who ate fresh – improved their vitamin A status. Both were effective; fresh was moreso.
Freeze-drying seems to be better at preserving carotene content than sun- or heat-drying.

I’m definitely a fan of just eating the whole fruit or vegetable over a powder, but it seems like green drinks can be a helpful tool. If you’re interested, I’d suggest you try one out for a few weeks and see how you feel. Oh, and since we also know that fat improves absorption of many nutrients (it’s why I always cook my spinach in butter), be sure to mix it with coconut milk or add a couple egg yolks. I’d also seek out products that use gentle dehydration techniques, preferably freeze drying. A lot of the “raw vegan” green drink mixes should be gently dehydrated

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Why is this Soda's Evil Twin?

Dr Mercola

Many people believe that they are making a healthier choice if they forgo a can of soda and instead drink fruit juice. But are they?

In fact, fruit drinks are not only less than healthy, they are in many cases actually worse for you than soft drinks. They can be higher in sugar, and much higher in calories. They are responsible for a good deal more obesity than most people are aware of.

According to Discovery.com:

“Considering an 8-ounce serving of Snapple Apple has more sugar than 2 and a half Krispy Kreme glazed donuts, you were probably [better] off reaching for the box rather than the bottle.”

8oz of Snapple Apple 27 grams of sugar.
8oz Of Coco Cola 26 grams of sugar.
1 Krisy Kreme Glazed Doenut 25 grams of sugar.

Friday, November 25, 2011

How Long Should You Rest?

BY DR. PHIL WAGNER, M.D.

You just finished your season, the last game, and you just want to relax. Unfortunately, an athlete’s window is small; one poor offseason can negatively affect the upcoming season and ultimately change your path in sport. After all, only 3% of high school basketball and football athletes go on to play in college, and professional athletes careers are shortening with new crops of talent flowing in each year. Most importantly, the average offseason duration has drastically shrunk at every level, leaving you less time to physically prepare. This conundrum leads to the inevitable question of how long to rest after your season?

Previously we discussed how just 4 weeks of detraining, or time off from exercise, resulted in a 17% decline in power (see Sparta Point 12/9/09). For example, athletes could experience a 3.5 to 5 inch drop in vertical jump!! While this study identifies performance decrements, more recent research identifies detraining’s disadvantages to healing.

A January 2011 study out of the University of Bologna examined the effects of detraining on tendons. These structures attach muscles to bones, and are best known for their effect on elasticity by storing energy to allow greater jump heights and faster sprints than just using muscle alone, a process known as the stretch shortening cycle (see Sparta Point 10/19/09). Like the nervous system, the behavior and structure of tendons are not static, but plastic, constantly adapting itself to stimulus, particularly loading through exercise. Jumping and weightlifting have shown beneficial effects on the size and protein content of these tendons. Discontinuing activity has the opposite effects, and, in the short term, disrupts tendon organization and protein content.

While previous research has observed that tendon adaptation to detraining is faster than training, this study was the first to investigate the sudden cessation of exercise, finding a disruption of the both the content and alignment of the proteins in tendons. While this study was on rats, I have seen several athletes encounter these setbacks from time off. Just 2 weeks ago, a professional pitcher experienced elbow tendon pain for the first time while resting at home after an 8 month season of no pain.

So here is a few tips on rest, whether it is the start of your offseason or not.

1. Rest duration (days versus weeks) is ONLY for your mind, to restore motivation which will fuel your workouts (see Sparta Point 3/29/11)

2. Physical decrements start IMMEDIATELY at the tendon level, but a motivated, happy athlete is always best, so see rule #1.

3. Any injuries are prolonged by rest (see Sparta Point 10/29/09). So use the other limb, and the rest of the body, as much as possible because the stimulus will still transfer up to 58% to that injured limb without even using it.

Time off should be as short as possible without negatively affecting your mood, and thus motivation. After all, initial training sessions will probably only last 1-2 hours, and in this initial offseason should emphasize mobility to improve range of motion and the tendon architecture mentioned above.

But if you’re resting your body and not your mind, you’ve got it all wrong.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Kris Jenkins’s View of Life in the N.F.L. Trenches

N.F.L. fans, people outside, they have no clue what goes on. This isn’t like playing Madden. This isn’t like being the popular kid in high school. When you do those things in the real world, and it don’t work out, you still have your health. The thing about football is you’re directly playing with your life, the quality of it and the longevity of it. The stakes are up there.

You ever been in a car crash? Done bumper cars? You know when that hit catches you off guard and jolts you, and you’re like, what the hell? Football is like that. But 10 times worse. It’s hell. READ MORE

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thousands Fear Artificial Hips Are Poisoning Them

by Joe Shortsleeve

BOSTON (CBS) – Artificial hips are supposed to relieve pain, but now thousands of patients are afraid their hips are poisoning them.

One popular hip has been recalled, and there are a growing number of lawsuits.

At just 36, Katie Ayers was prompted by chronic pain to get an artificial hip. “It was supposed to be the latest and greatest. It was supposed to be perfect for a younger female,” she said.

WBZ-TV’s Joe Shortsleeve reports

Three years later, Katie was shocked when her artificial metal on metal hip was recalled. Tiny pieces of metal were breaking away from the mechanism due to wear and tear.

Katie says tests showed elevated levels of cobalt and chromium in her blood. “They don’t really know, they being the medical community, what those elevated levels can do to your system,” she said.

Katie is one of an estimated 500,000 people who have received an all metal hip replacement. Data shows Katie’s hip, the DePuy ASR failed in nearly one third of patients in Britain within six years.

The device was recalled by the company last year. Katie has since gotten a new one.

“I thought I was going to have 15-20 years before I had to it again,” she said.

More than 2,600 lawsuits have been filed against Johnson and Johnson, the parent company of DePuy. It’s estimated 20 new cases are being filed every day.

Boston attorney Marnie McGoldrick represents about two dozen clients who have had problems with the DePuy ASR. “With most patients, it may start with clicking or popping, or just pain, and then it leads to immobility,” she explained.

McGoldrick believes the grinding of metal on metal can cause metal fragments to go in the blood stream and tissue surrounding the hip area. “That can cause inflammation, and tissue damage which can lead to loosening, dislocation, and possibly bone fractures,” she added.

DePuy dismisses the findings in the British study, saying it is based on a small number of cases. They add they are helping patients who now require additional treatment.

Dr. David Mattingly of the New England Baptist Hospital performs hundreds of hip replacements each year. He has implanted the DePuy ASR in ten patients with no reported problems.

Metal on metal hips became popular in recent years, according to Dr. Mattingly, because younger, more physically active patients wanted something sturdier than traditional metal and plastic joints.

Dr. Mattingly still uses metal on metal hips in select patients. He believes if the operation is done well and the patient follows post-operative orders that this can still be an effective choice.

But the Food and Drug Administration is now reviewing all metal on metal hip joints, ordering manufacturers to research if patients are getting sick.

Katie’s implant was allowed through the FDA’s 510K process, which fast tracks devices if they are substantially equivalent to existing products. “I think there has to be a better way than what’s already out there.”

Katie’s blood levels have returned to normal. She worries, like thousands of other patients, about any long term implications.

The legal cases are still in the discovery process so it hasn’t been determined if there will be a class action suit.

Patients with the DePuy ASR can contact the company at 1-888-627-2677, or visit their website.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

US Congress rules that pizza is a vegetable

from http://www.thejournal

PIZZA CAN BE classed as a vegetable – at least according to a decision made by the US Congress. Who knew?

American lawmakers have ruled that the amount of tomato paste in pizza sauce means that pizzas can be counted as a vegetable.

The bizarre move, which was decided in a vote on the annual spending bill for the Department of Agriculture, happened for purely political reasons.

The crucial bill had oversight over subsidised school meals, and the department was seeking to restrict pizza, chips and starchy vegetables from the menu for school children in a bid to combat child obesity.

MSNBC reports that politicians had been lobbied heavily by the frozen food industry who didn’t want to see a major revenue stream cut off given how often pizza is found on the menus of school canteens in the US.

School meals subsidised by the government are mandated to include a certain amount of vegetables and the Department of Agriculture’s plan would have pushed pizza-makers at least partly out of the school lunch business.

The salt industry, potato growers, and some conservative politicians who said that the federal government shouldn’t be involved in telling children what to eat, also lobbied against the change.

After some debate, Congress voted that anything containing two tablespoons of tomato sauce can be labelled a vegetable, putting pizza into the vegetable category.

The Obama administration is fighting to make school lunches healthier in the face of a growing obesity problem across the country.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn't Honey

by Andrew Schneider

More than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn't exactly what the bees produce, according to testing done exclusively for Food Safety News.

The results show that the pollen frequently has been filtered out of products labeled "honey."
The removal of these microscopic particles from deep within a flower would make the nectar flunk the quality standards set by most of the world's food safety agencies.

The food safety divisions of the World Health Organization, the European Commission and dozens of others also have ruled that without pollen there is no way to determine whether the honey came from legitimate and safe sources.

honey-without-pollen-food-safety-news1.jpgIn the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration says that any product that's been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn't honey. However, the FDA isn't checking honey sold here to see if it contains pollen.

Ultra filtering is a high-tech procedure where honey is heated, sometimes watered down and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen, which is the only foolproof sign identifying the source of the honey. It is a spin-off of a technique refined by the Chinese, who have illegally dumped tons of their honey - some containing illegal antibiotics - on the U.S. market for years.

MORE

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Dieting and Hormones

http://www.mattmetzgar.com

There was a great article about dieting and hormones the other week in the New York Times. The article says it all, so I will just highlight a few things:

"The dieters then spent 10 weeks on a very low calorie regimen of 500 to 550 calories a day intended to makes them lose 10 percent of their body weight. In fact, their weight loss averaged 14 percent, or 29 pounds. As expected, their hormone levels changed in a way that increased their appetites, and indeed they were hungrier than when they started the study."

A peptide hormone neurotransmitter produced by fat cells and involved in the regulation of appetite


"When leptin falls, appetite increases and metabolism slows. A year after the weight loss diet, leptin levels were still one-third lower than they were at the start of the study, and leptin levels increased as subjects regained their weight."

“You are putting your body into a circumstance it will resist,” he said. “You are, in a sense, more metabolically normal when you are at a higher body weight.”

Dieting still doesn't work!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cholesterol

BY DR. PHIL WAGNER, M.D.

Cholesterol stabilizes every cell's membrane
How could you not be in love with cholesterol? It is in every cell of your body; it is the building block for steroids like testosterone, and even reduces muscle soreness. But you’ve probably also heard that high cholesterol can kill you, that a diet of meat and eggs will lead to heart attacks. The major research creating this concern over cholesterol was the Framingham Study, OBSERVING higher cholesterol with heart disease. However, this cholesterol was not causing the problem, merely trying to HEAL the infected tissue from the true culprits. This research was not a cause and effect conclusion, only an observation, as there are far more studies indicating heart disease is caused by infectious agents, like viruses or bacteria, from a more general unhealthy lifestyle.

Cholesterol is a fat, produced by the liver; in fact only about 25% comes from your diet in the form of fat, further easing any concerns over your cholesterol rich foods like eggs. Cholesterol is carried in the blood by lipoproteins, which are generally known by 2 types

1. LDL (low density lipoprotein) – the “bad cholesterol”, carries cholesterol from liver to cells

2. HDL (high density lipoprotein) – “good cholesterol” takes cholesterol away from cells back to the liver

Cholesterol exists in the outer layer of every cell in our body and has many functions, but we will focus on just a few relevant benefits to athletic performance

1. Anabolic Environment for more muscle STRENGTH

Cholesterol is critical in the metabolism and absorption of vitamins such as A, D, E, and K, even helping convert sunlight to vitamin D, the most crucial of the aforementioned vitamins for testosterone levels. Speaking of testosterone, cholesterol is a major building block for sex hormones like testosterone.

2. Cell signaling for the speed of your SKILL

Myelin, surrounds and insulates nerve cells, and is especially rich in cholesterol, transmitting signals faster and more efficiently (see Sparta Point 7/8/09)

3. Muscle soreness for REGENERATION

A 2009 Texas A & M study out of the Journal of Gerontology found that, the subjects who gained the most muscle mass were the ones with highest LDL cholesterol levels. The researchers’ findings illustrate that a certain amount of “bad” cholesterol is needed to build muscle. Makes sense since we know that LDL brings cholesterol from the liver to cells, which are damaged during exercise, particularly resistance training that causes soreness.

Still wary of 6 egg yolks every morning or a steak every night? Cholesterol expert and Swedish doctor Uffe Ravnskov presented a 2009 paper that LDL, participates in the immune system by binding and inactivating bacteria and viruses, the true causes of inflammation. And this inflammation has always been the main culprit for heart disease, any chronic disease or condition for that matter. The researchers go onto explain that when you inject bacterial toxins into rats they die almost immediately, but if you start by injecting them with purified human LDL, most of them survive!

So eat high quality protein and fat, vegetables, and exercise consistently. Anything else is inflammatory

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Know your body

http://nutritionize.net/

Liver
Major filtering system and produces bile (important in digesting fats and neutralizing acid)

Spleen
Breaks down old blood cells and stores blood and assists in new blood production

Gall bladder
The livers helper by storing the bile

Stomach
Acidic environment which breaks down food to be processed by intestines

Intestines (aka gut)
Extract usable nutrients from food (very important for these to be healthy)

Lungs
Oxygenate the air and filter out environmental contaminants

Kidney
Filtering system and maintains electrolyte balance

Pancreas
Helps the body run smooth by producing hormones and enzymes

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Q & A: Recovery and the Aging Athlete

by Joel Freil

Question: It seems that recovery or lack thereof is a big issue with older cyclists. Based on your training methodology, what are suggestions for this group?

Answer: “Older” athletes are old primarily because their rate of recovery is relatively slow. Someone can be “old” at age 35 due to a poor rate recovery after stressful workouts. On the other hand, I’ve coached athletes in their 60s who recovered very quickly and so by this definition were still “young.” In fact, recovery is probably the key to performance at all ages, but especially so for aging athletes who tend to have the deck stacked against them.

Back to aging athletes… For the purpose of this discussion let’s say they are over age 50. Starting around this age it becomes apparent that athletes have lower levels of testosterone, started losing muscle mass, increased risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis (especially in cyclists), increased tendencies for acid-base imbalance, reduced sensitivity to thirst, perhaps a greater propensity for weight gain, lost soft tissue elasticity accompanied by an increased likelihood of injury, reduced enzyme activity, less tolerance for heat, and more. It isn’t pretty.

So aging athletes are fighting an uphill battle. But for most I don’t believe the issue is aging so much as it is detraining. The younger one is the more mistakes that can be made in training and lifestyle without negatively impacting performance. As we age there is less latitude for mistakes. Cutting back on training with age only exacerbates the problems when the athlete does train seriously. So for the aging athlete the focus on training and performance must be narrowed.

The focus of the aging athlete must be in four areas.

• Workout intensity. There are only three elements of training that can be manipulated to produce fitness: workout duration, workout intensity and workout frequency. As we age there is a tendency to increase duration at the expense of intensity. Workouts become longer and easier. The aging athlete needs to do just the opposite if he or she is to slow the aging process. Workouts above 80% intensity factor with an emphasis on muscular endurance, anaerobic endurance and sprint power (see my Training Bible books for details) should be the basis of their training. This typically results in shorter training sessions but higher weekly average intensity. This stimulates testosterone release and maintains muscle mass.

• Strength training. Lifting weights is one of the best ways the aging athlete can maintain bone density while also stimulating testosterone release. The use of heavy loads with traditional strength training is what is needed here to accomplish these goals. Such training should include loading the legs which requires a great deal of planning so as not to impact on-bike training. An alternative for the athlete who prefers not to load the legs is walking or running several miles each week. I suspect that body-weight-only exercises are not as effective as lifting heavy loads when the purpose is bone density. Such training should be done frequently and regularly. Research suggests that this will maintain the aging athlete’s bone and muscle health.

• Sleep. As mentioned, younger athletes can make many mistakes in training and still perform at a high level. Aging athletes can’t. This is certainly true when it comes to recovery. As we get older adequate sleep is especially important. If following my guidelines above, training is becoming more intense and serious strength training is adding to the accumulating stress. Sleep quantity and quality are necessary to allow the body to cope with this stress. Aging athletes must be very careful not to compromise sleep in order to fit more activities into their lives.

• Nutrition. The second most effective modality for improving recovery is nutrition. There are two primary areas of concern: adequate macronutrients, especially carbohydrate and protein, in the recovery period following an intense workout and a micronutrient-dense (vitamins and minerals) diet for the remainder of the day. The first requires taking sugar during a long and intense workout (water is all that is needed during short workouts) with starch consumed in the recovery window. These recovery foods are micronutrient-poor but necessary for maintaining and restocking glycogen (stored carbohydrate). Once short-term recovery is achieved then the athlete should greatly reduce their intake of starch and sugar. The emphasis now should be on micronutrients. The most micronutrient-dense foods are vegetables, fruits and animal protein. These alkaline foods have also been shown to improve acid-base balance (an acidic diet escalates the loss of bone minerals and muscle mass).

Friday, November 11, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Supplement Vitamin C to Help Recover From Intense Winter Workouts

By David Csonka



While a number of studies demonstrate a small percentage reduction in occurrences [1,2,3] the only credible benefit for supplementation in normal situations is for a slight decrease in illness duration. Still, a reduction of 10% on the duration of your cold symptoms ultimately doesn’t amount to very much. Maybe a day?

However, there does seem to be more conclusive evidence that vitamin C supplementation can be beneficial for runners and other athletes who are exercising at high intensities and cold weather.

A collection of studies examining groups participating in ski schools, Canadian winter military training, and long distance running events demonstrated that experimental cohorts receiving approximately 1g of vitamin C per day had a much reduced rate of infection (almost 50%) versus placebo groups. [4]

Intense exercise can have a profoundly negative effect on immune function, with cold weather further exacerbating this problem. Depression of the immune system by corticosteroids or oxygen radicals, generated while the body is under extreme physical stress, is one set of explanations for immuno-compromise.

Recovery from exercise and muscle damage in general, is primarily an immune response. Inflammation and transposition of macrophages to repair sites are similar for wounds and exercise-mediated tissue damage alike. As such, it is interesting to see how L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is theorized to interact with the immune system.

Vitamin C is found in high concentrations in immune cells, and is consumed quickly during infections. It is not certain how vitamin C interacts with the immune system; it has been hypothesized to modulate the activities of phagocytes, the production of cytokines and lymphocytes, and the number of cell adhesion molecules in monocytes. [5]

Vitamin C has been reported to increase the proliferative responses in T-lymphocytes, to prevent the defects in neutrophils caused by corticosteroids, and it is also a major biological antioxidant. Thus vitamin C possibly could aid the immune system in subjects under heavy physical stress. [6]

Under normal physiological circumstances, the human body consumes L-ascorbic acid at very low rates. It could take several months for depletion symptoms (scurvy) to set it. Normal dietary consumption in most countries is enough to meet daily needs. However, when injured, sick, or under stress the body depletes its stores of vitamin C at a much quicker rate.

While working out this winter, it might be wise to increase the number of servings of fruit or peppers that you normally consume. Some people don’t realize that bell peppers contain much more vitamin C than oranges. [7] Or at the least, consider taking a cheap 1g vitamin C supplement. Chances are, as a runner or athlete you’re much more at risk of catching a cold than the average person.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Baking Soda is not just for the kitchen

(NaturalNews) The lowly box of baking soda hasn't been given the credit it's due. Baking soda is for more than baking or deodorizing the refrigerator. It's great for health and beauty needs, and everyone should consider using it for multiple reasons. It's inexpensive and a great alternative to chemical beauty and cleaning products. Most people should consider using this product more than they do now.

Cleaning: Baking soda is great when it comes to cleaning. Its abrasive action combined with its environmental friendliness makes it a great alternative to cleansers that use harsh chemicals. Instead of using a harsh scrubbing powder filled with toxic chemicals (like chlorine bleach), why not use baking soda to scrub the ring in the tub? It works just as well but leaves no chemical smell behind; best yet, people won't feel guilty about baking soda washing down the drain. A lot of people also add a tablespoon or two to the dishwater for its grease-cutting action.

Baking soda is also known for its effectiveness in fighting odors. Many people sprinkle it on the carpet before vacuuming to help absorb odors, but it can also be sprinkled in the bottom of the trashcan or in the garbage disposal for the same purpose.

Beauty: Yes, baking soda can be used in one's beauty routine! It can be added to toothpaste for extra cleansing (and for whitening too), and it can also be rubbed under the arms as a healthy alternative to antiperspirants. It can also be used as a safe but effective body and facial scrub, and it can be used as an alternative to chemical-laden shampoos. And, again, because of its deodorizing properties, it can be sprinkled in a pair of smelly sneakers or kept in the closet to keep it smelling fresh and clean.

Other uses: Wash fruits and vegetables in a baking soda bath. Just fill the sink with water and a tablespoon or two of baking soda and scrub the dirt off. It's safe and effective. And you can keep your drains clean by pouring some baking soda down the drain followed by either hot water or vinegar (which will give it some bubbly action).

Friday, November 4, 2011

The scoop on diet frozen meals

Every day, FoodFacts.com looks into the benefits and drawbacks of hundreds of different food products in our database. Sometimes we surprise even ourselves with the information. And sometimes, we know that the measure of nutritional value of a food product is really determined by the lens through which it’s being observed.

For instance, when it comes to frozen diet meals, there are a few different ways to observe nutrition. You might say that would be a simple matter of calories and fat — and then all the brands would qualify as healthy options for those seeking to reduce their weight. But there are a few other manners in which to look at these frozen meals and determine whether or not they should be part of a diet plan at all.

FoodFacts.com has a “rule of thumb” — that is to be wary of any food product with a long list of ingredients. Generally speaking, the longer the list, the more likely you are to find ingredients you don’t recognize and that may, in fact, be controversial. And generally speaking, in most cases, frozen diet meals feature these long ingredient lists. There are certainly exceptions, but the majority of frozen diet meals contain ingredients that you wouldn’t find in your fridge or your pantry. We thought we’d take a look at four common ingredient concerns for these meals.

Sodium
The recommended daily allowance for sodium for adults is about 2300 milligrams. That’s about a teaspoon. You’ll find that most diet frozen meals contain about 30% of the RDA for a 2000 calorie per day diet. That’s a lot of salt — especially when you consider the portion sizes of the diet meals This can vary slightly up or down depending on meal content and brand. Excessive sodium consumption can lead to high blood pressure, or hypertension, which is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.

BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
BHT is an antioxidant that is used as a preservative, keeping foods from oxidizing and spoiling. You’ll find BHT in a wide variety of processed foods. It is popularly used in frozen foods. BHT may be carcinogenic. Other side effects of this food additive include elevated cholesterol, liver and kidney damage, infertility, sterility, immune disorders, increased susceptibility to carcinogens, and behavioral problems. While BHT isn’t present in every frozen diet meal, it’s not an uncommon additive and something you may want to carefully watch out for.

Sodium Benzoate
Manufacturers have used sodium benzoate for a century to prevent the growth of microorganisms in acidic foods. The substances occur naturally in many plants and animals. Sodium Benzoate can cause hives, asthma, or other allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Again, not every frozen diet meal contains sodium benzoate, but it’s a fairly common ingredient and one you want to keep an eye out for.

Disodium Inosinate
An expensive flavor enhancer usually used with the cheaper Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) alternative. It comes from the nucleotide Inosine monophosphate (IMP) commonly found in mushrooms and meats. Nucleotides are information-carrying molecules (seen in DNA) and help with the body’s metabolic processes. It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration but like MSG, is associated with certain allergic reactions after consumption. Again, if you’re purchasing diet frozen meals, read the labels carefully – this is not an unusual ingredient.

While it’s certainly tempting to go the route of frozen diet meals while trying to lose weight, we all need to keep in mind that it would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to cook lasagna with meat sauce for 270 calories per serving. Even if you use skim-milk cheeses and 97% lean ground beef, you’ll have a problem bringing it in at under 300 calories. The point is it’s not diet food. Most of the food featured in frozen diet meals, regardless of brand, isn’t meant to be diet food. Hence, the food additives and ingredients you can’t pronounce and the high levels of sodium. They have to add to the food to make it appetizing.

So if you’re trying to lose weight, the healthiest option would be to stick to foods that will work within your diet goals. Grilled chicken and turkey, fish, and lots and lots of fresh vegetables will fill you up, nourish your body and help you to reduce your caloric intake. The additives you’ll find in diet frozen meals won’t do any of that for you.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How plastic food containers could be making you fat, infertile and sick

from chriskresser.com

There is now significant evidence suggesting that even low levels of BPA-exposure can cause harm, and this is particularly true in vulnerable populations like pregnant women, infants and the chronically ill. (1)

Because of this research, and the growing public awareness that BPA should be avoided, a new crop of “BPA-free” plastic food containers and baby bottles has been introduced. However, a recent study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives in July has shown that even BPA-free plastics have chemicals with estrogenic activity (EA), and can cause serious health problems as a result The Rest of the Article