Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What Is Pain?

Nearly 20 million Americans use prescription pain medications each year. It would certainly seem that we are in an ever increasing state of pain. The way we look at pain today is like a inconvenience, or a condition all in it’s own. We don’t associate pain with an underlying condition, but pain as occurring irregardless of our health. But what is pain really?

Pain is the bodies communication that something is wrong. There is no discomfort felt for which there is not a physiological cause. As we have become more dependent on allopathic medicine and treat the symptom not the problem mentality, we have lost touch with what pain really is. You don’t get a headache because your diet is low in Excedrin, and you don’t get back pain because your not taking enough ibuprofen. These pains come from underlying health conditions, whether they be metabolic or structural issues.

Treating pain rather than the underlying issue is no more helpful than putting a new paint job on a broken down car. Bandaids do not fix broken arms, and pain killers do not fix the reason you are having pain. You are just putting off your health, and using drugs to ignore the symptoms. The underlying problems will only continue to come back worse, presenting more severe, frequent, and numerous symptoms.
Root Causes of Pain
Biochemical Causes

Problems with your bodies chemistry can product inflammation and pain all over the body. Everything from stiff joints, to headaches, and digestive disorders can be caused from the nutrition you’re not getting in your diet, or the bad things you are getting in your diet. Eating too many inflammatory foods, and not enough nutrients to naturally control inflammation can not only lead to pain, but this condition increases cardiovascular and cancer risk factors. This is just one of the reasons that treating this pain with a pain killer rather than fixing the problem can be fatal to your health.
Biomechanics Causes

The way your body moves is based on the efficiency of the nervous system which controls the muscles, the health and strength of the muscle and soft tissues, and the structural alignment of your bones and joints. The majority of joint pain is not the result of joint damage, but rather joint dysfunction during movement. Lets look at knee pain for example. Your knee movement is coordinated by 13 muscles that cross the knee joint. If just one of these muscles is weak, tight, or dysfunctional, it upsets the structural balance of the knee joint during movement. This will lead to pain as this off balance movement starts to wear on the ligaments, tendons and other soft tissues of the joint. It takes very little inflammation in a joint to cause pain, and even less in a soft tissue to cause pain. One of the most common dysfunctions I see is the knee bowing in under resistance. This is a dysfunction caused by a weakness in the Vastus Medialis Obliquus which has a major role in stabilizing knee movement. Failure to strengthen this muscle will cause dysfunction during all movements that involve bending the knees. Taking pain killers to deal with the pain rather than restoring proper knee function will just allow the condition to get worse and worse until a serious injury occurs.
Structural Causes

Some pain is caused by problems with actual structures that can be genetic defects, or from traumas/injuries. These issues are the hardest to overcome, and can require modifications to your exercise program or manual therapies. Soft tissues can develop adhesions that can be treated with ART or FAT techniques. Spinal alignment issues and joint manipulations can be done by a skilled chiropractor. More severe conditions like ligament tears and bone spurs may require surgery to bring you back to optimal function. Ultimately pain medications tend to be least effective at masking structural issues, so these conditions are less likely to go un-treated.

Pain can be caused by one or a combination of the above sources. Often one can lead to another, and biochemical sources of pain will make any biomechanics or structural issue more painful. If you have a healthy diet and lifestyle, not only will your pain be less, but your recovery from acute injuries will be much faster.
Nutrients that help with inflammation

Omega 3’s

Nutrients that Help Decrease Pain Sensation

Powdered greens decrease pain through alkalization
Vitamin D3 – increases pain threshold
Probiotics – decrease all pain
glutamine + Magnesium - lower pain

Monday, February 27, 2012

Your walking speed may predict your life span

by Deborah Kotz

The University of Pittsburgh researchers looked at data from nine studies involving nearly 35,000 seniors and found that only 19 percent of the slowest walking 75-year-old men lived for 10 more years compared to 87 percent of the fastest walking ones. Only 35 percent of the slowest walking 75-year-old women made it to their 85th birthday compared to 91 percent of the fastest walkers.

"This paper is a monumental effort in data analysis to come up with exact numbers and predictors in terms of the relationship between gait speed and survival," says Dr. Farzaneh Sorond, a stroke neurologist at Brigham and Women’s hospital who studies gait speed in the elderly but wasn't involved in this study.

While Sorond says she typically observes how her patients walk during her assessments, she never measured their speed. "With this new information, I'd think seriously about implementing gait speed as part of a routine assessment."

The researchers found that the usual walking pace of those over 65 varied from less than 1.3 feet per second over 13 feet -- which carried the highest death risk -- to more than 4.6 feet per second, which was associated with the lowest risk. Sorond says she can use this information to advise her patients.

"If they fall into the fast super-performer group, I can tell them they have a pretty good chance of outliving their peers," she says. On the flip side, those who walk the slowest might need more aggressive interventions to treat underlying medical conditions that cause gait to slacken through the years.

But therein lies the rub. Perhaps the increased death risk comes from serious medical conditions -- like Parkinson's, multiple organ failure, and severe vascular disease -- all of which can slow walking speed and, in their own right, lead to shorter lives.

That's true, acknowledge the study researchers, but that's also the point. They write that gait speed could be considered a reliable way to access vitality "because it integrates known and unrecognized disturbances in multiple organ systems."

For many elderly folks who walk slowly, hitting the treadmill at the gym to improve their fitness level isn't the solution. "We need to do more to figure out what slows gait speed," Sorond acknowledges. "It's a complex process."

On the other hand, if you're just starting to slow down a bit and don't have major medical problems, getting that exercise may be the key to a longer life, Sorond contends. "I’m sure a 70-year-old marathoner has a faster gait than the average person, and we know that good physical fitness is an important predictor of life expectancy.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Expiration date: Never?

We’ve all seen foods that have seemingly endless shelf lives. If these foods never expire, how are they be digested by our systems? Today, FoodFacts is going to take a look at what our bodies are capable of digesting and what happens to food we don’t digest.

The digestive system involves many different organs whose primary function is to break large molecules of food into smaller molecules of food and convert them into energy and nutrients that our cells can use to sustain healthy bodily functions. Each organ in our digestive system has a primary function which lends itself to the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). For example, digestion begins in our mouths when we mechanically break down food using our teeth and the enzymes in our saliva (salivary amylase) start breaking down starches. In our stomachs, carbs, proteins and fats are broken down using gastric acid (pH 1.5 – 3.5, by comparison, vinegar is around 3/4) and enzymes which denature proteins, digest lipids and further breakdown fats. This continues in the small intestines, where, with the exception of fiber) the macro (carbs/proteins/fats) and micro (vitamins and minerals) nutrients are absorbed. In certain cases, such as lactose intolerance, the body does not have the enzyme (lactase) to break down the sugar (lactose). Bacteria in the intestines break down lactose, resulting in painful gas and stomach cramps (among other symptoms).

With the exception of fiber, substances that are not nutrients – such as additives and/or preservatives in foods – cannot be broken down by the body, as we do not have the enzymes to break them down. Some foods, which are undigested, remain in the large intestine for a much longer period of time rather than being excreted. These foods stay in our large intestines, incompletely digested and are eliminated in our waste after being broken down by microbes in our intestines. Foods that stay in the large intestine could restrict motility, block absorption of other nutrients into our cells and /or result in malodorous excrement.

Some such ingredients would be Tertiary Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) and butylated hydroxyanisole. These are preservatives keep food from spoiling, and probably from being properly digested. While these (and other) ingredients are considered safe for human consumption by our government, it isn’t necessarily a good choice for our bodies. Stefani Bardin, a TEDxManhattan fellow, shows us how our ramen noodles are digested in our stomach (spoiler alert: it doesn’t).|main5|dl12|sec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D134120

Perhaps it is best to leave foods with long shelf lives on the shelves.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Why You Should Eat and Drink High-Cacao Dark Chocolate

Cocoa butter, which is extracted from the cacao bean and incorporated into most reputable dark chocolate bars, is mostly monounsaturated and saturated fat, with very little polyunsaturated fat. And because most of that saturated fat is stearic acid, widely known for having neutral effects on LDL, even avowed lipophobes can happily and heartily gobble up cacao fat.
Dark chocolate contains lots of polyphenols, particularly flavanols.

When it comes to polyphenol content and antioxidant capacity, cacao trounces the “superfruits” acai, pomegranate, cranberry, blueberry and whatever else your annoying friend who always falls for multilevel marketing schemes is hawking this week. The most studied polyphenol in cacao is epicatechin, a flavanol. Although last week’s post on the benefits of polyphenol consumption centered on pigment-derived antioxidants, cacao’s polyphenols are also quite potent and potentially healthful
Read More

Consider eating more Cinnamon to help you get Leaner and Healthier

Cinnamon Benefits

Cinnamon has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and/or glucose tolerance. Essentially, this means that cinnamon helps your body use carbs better and keep your blood sugar more moderate. In the end, this not only helps you get and stay leaner, but it also reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and/or ameliorates its effects.

Cinnamon...your new BFF.

There are quite a few studies pointing to this fact. Some show cinnamon itself to have effect, while others also show a cinnamon extract (Cinnulin PF) to have the same beneficial effects.

By the way, this is why you now see cinnamon supplements in stores these days. I saw them at Wal-mart just the other day. Supplement retailers are capitalizing on the attention these studies will get (and are getting).

I, myself, would skip the supplements and go for the real deal.

One easy way to get more cinnamon is to put some in your morning oatmeal…assuming you have oatmeal for breakfast. If not, put it on your Ezekiel bread and make cinnamon toast out of it. Or add some cinnamon to any shakes you have. (I LOVE apple and cinnamon shakes made with vanilla protein!) My brother-in-law, who is quite the amateur chef, puts cinnamon in his homemade spaghetti sauce.

However you wanna ingest the cinnamon is up to you. But the point is, it sure seems that cinnamon does a body good. So you may wanna make a conscious effort to consume more…or to consume at least some here and there if you’re not already.

As always, run stuff like this by your doc (who’s hopefully well-versed in nutrition). And I mean this seriously, not just as a disclaimer of sorts. For example, if you’re diabetic and take insulin to tightly control your blood glucose, then you may have an adverse glucose-lowering effect after consuming cinnamon.

This is one example of why you should ALWAYS run things your nutrition-savvy doc, because you never know. Something that seems mild or innocuous may have a deleterious effect on you.
How Much Cinnamon is Enough?

According to my calculations, 1 tsp of cinnamon is just under 3 grams. And that appears to be an ‘effective’ dose of cinnamon. Just keep in mind that you can’t just sprinkle a few microscopic cinnamon flakes on your oats and expect to get the improvement in glucose tolerance that’s being shown in studies.

Oh, and I’ll close with this – cinnamon also has antioxidant effects. So not only does cinnamon help keep blood glucose under control, it also binds to those gnarly free radicals that are trying to wreak havoc on us. Thanks cinnamon! We appreciate your hard work. :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Heart attack? Nope, just a spin class

By Andrew Winner

For anyone who has felt like their heart might explode after a spin class, the truth might not be that far off -- biochemically speaking, that is. New research out of Sweden has shown an hour of spinning triggers the same biochemical reactions as a heart attack.

Research from the University of Gothenburg has shown that spin workouts and other forms of strenuous exercise can secrete the same enzymes into the bloodstream as a heart attack, increasing the possibility of a misdiagnosis. The results will be published in the Scandinavian Cardiovascular Journal.
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According to study author Smita DuttaRoy, any manner of taxing physical exertion can cause a similar increase in cardiac biomarkers, including marathon running, triathlons and long-distance bike rides. However, the effect is probably as natural as it is harmless, and enzyme levels generally move back down to baseline levels within 24 hours.

Nevertheless, doctors and emergency personnel should be aware of the link between these cardiac biomarkers, as they are known, when making diagnoses and initiating treatments.

“We haven't studied whether elevated cardiac enzyme levels post-exercise are dangerous, however we don't have any reasons to believe that these levels suggest any actual damage to the heart,” DuttaRoy wrote in an e-mail. “The pattern of cardiac enzyme level elevation post-exercise with a quick normalization (within 24 hours), is different from a heart attack, where the cardiac enzymes often stay elevated for days.”

“The increase in troponin we found after a spinning session most probably demonstrates a physiological response to exercise that we have now been able to show,” she added.

DuttaRoy’s study put ten healthy people, average age of 30, through a one-hour spin workout. Simple blood tests were done before the session, one hour after the session, and again 24 hours later. The tests showed elevated levels of the cardiac biomarker troponin T, with two participants surpassing the threshold routinely used for heart attacks. A key different is that the levels went back to normal one day later, whereas heart attack victims can see their troponin T levels stay raised for several days after the event.

In a healthy heart, troponins are involved in the contraction of the heart muscle.

What’s the best course of action? DuttaRoy advises disclosing any recent physical activity to your care provider when being treated for chest pains. It’s possible that an elevated number of cardiac biomarkers could cause a misdiagnosis.

“People should seek medical advice if they have chest pain, no matter if it is following exercise, rest or other activities,” DuttaRoy cautioned. “However, the attending physicians should be aware of that troponins can be elevated following strenuous exercise and should take that in account when assessing the patient.”

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Blog Vitamins Before Flying? Do They Work and Are

On a flight this morning, the passenger next to me popped an ‘Airborne’ brand tablet. Another person emptied a sachet of ‘Emergen-C’ brand powder into their water.

Do they really do anything?

And are either of those products Paleo?

Well, no to the second question, hands down.

Airborne contains sorbitol (remember this good old additive? The sugar alcohol often used as a binding agent that also is indicated for laxative use?), artifical flavor, mineral oil, acesulfame potassium (Nutrasweet… great!) and sucralose (Splenda, since the Nutrasweet wasn’t enough), while Emergen-C contains both tapioca derivatives as well as soy.

Whether or not taking vitamins or supplements immediately before a flight does anything, I cannot prove one way or the other. I can say that if you follow the Paleo diet, you’re already getting tons of antioxidants in food form, which is always superior to a pill or a powder.

However, the placebo effect is not to be ignored, so if you feel you must ‘take something’ before you fly, I’d opt for making a little Paleo ‘Sickness-Prevention’ Concoction at home of water, raw leaves (you know I’m going to suggest kale), raw garlic, turmeric (a natural anti inflammatory), fresh oregano (a natural anti microbial) and a green bell pepper (higher in vitamin C than citrus fruits!), all whizzed in a blender and chugged down quickly.

Keep hydrated, wash your hands and you’ll have done everything you can to best prevent catching nasty cold and flu bugs, above and beyond the strong immune system you’ve already built for yourself by being Paleo!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Are You’re training too much without adequate fueling.

Mark's Daily Apple
My general rule is that starchy vegetables like tubers and potatoes, as well as sweet fruits, are elective foods. You don’t need ‘em, and most people, especially those who are trying to lose weight, will be better off limiting them. They can be tasty, though, and if your activity levels warrant a higher intake of carbs, you could eat them. I have no problem with that and I don’t see them as problematic in that situation. In fact, if you’re doing daily Crossfit WODs or pounding the pavement to the tune of 100+ miles each week, you had better eat some tubers and some fruit. If you don’t, if you go very low carb while trying to maintain that breakneck pace, you will suffer. You will probably also crave easily-digestible, refined, processed junk carbs. Think chips, bread, pizza, pasta, or – my own personal favorite/nemesis from my Chronic Cardio days – tubs of ice cream.

Your body needs to replenish the glycogen, and it needs carbohydrates to do it. Gluconeogenesis can only get you so far if you’re pushing your body to its limits. In the face of heavy, glycogen-depleting training, a lack of Primal starch sources will have you craving sweets and grains in no time.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Diner suffers cardiac arrest while eating a Triple Bypass Burger

Meals can exceed 8,000 calories. The recommended daily intake is 2,000 calories for women and 2,500 for men.

The Triple Bypass Burger contains three slabs of meat, 12 rashes of bacon, cheese, red onion, sliced tomato and the Heart Attack Grill's own 'unique special sauce'. And that's before taking into account the accompanying 'Flatliner Fries', cooked in pure lard, and a giant soft drink.

Accentuating the medical theme, waitresses dressed as nurses deliver the artery-clogging food.

A sign at the entrance to an Arizona restaurant reads: 'Go away. If you come in this place, it’s going to kill you.'

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Probiotics and unproven health claims

Sweat Science

Will probiotic foods disappear because of overly strict European rules preventing companies from making far-fetched health claims about their products? That's what yogurt-maker Danone fears, according to an unintentionally hilarious article in industry mag

Global probiotics leader Danone continues to prepare for the worst under the European Union's uber-strict health claims regime that may this year deliver a barren, claimless landscape to the world's biggest-selling functional food category, an official said today.

Speaking at a Probiotics Summit in Brussels, Danone general food law counsel, Pierre-Hubert Cuijpers, said it was possible that the multi-billion euro "probiotics category could disappear" as many probiotic strain claim rejections were likely to enter EU lawbooks this year under the article 13 general list.

So let's get this straight. Danone can't prove the health claims it wants to plaster on its yogurt, so it's angry because sales may drop in the absence of these unproven claims? What an injustice! Yoni Freedhoff takes an in-depth look at this topic at his blog, Weighty Matters -- I highly recommend reading his post. You'll either laugh, or get angry.

But first, one more quote from that article:

"If it was an Olympic Games it would not occur because there would be no one who would qualify," [a probiotics researcher] told the conference. "This is like roulette but you can't win because every number is zero."

What an unbelievably flawed analogy. An Olympic race is intended to determine who is fastest, so there's always a winner. Health claims, on the other hand, aren't awarded to whoever has the most convincing case. If probiotics don't work, then it doesn't matter if your yogurt has better studies than your competitors' studies. In science, you don't get a prize just for showing up.

Does this mean I think probiotics are a scam? Not necessarily. There have actually been some pretty encouraging studies involving probiotics for things like immunity and stomach upset. But a lot depends on the specific strain and the dosage, so that doesn't mean that any old probiotic can make these claims. For now, I'm happy to hear that the European Union is upholding strict standards for health messaging.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Brief Introduction to Muscle Fiber Types and Motor Unit Recruitment

CrossFit West Santa Cruz A

What kind of muscle fibers would you say are predominant in this individual? On a side note, if in order to squat heavy you need to wear what this guy is wearing, I'm all in!

There are two broad categories of muscle fiber types that have been identified: slow twitch (type I) and fast twitch (type II). In humans, approximately 50% of our skeletal muscle fibers are slow-twitch and are characterized as having great aerobic endurance qualities. Fast-twitch fibers can be divided into two sub categories: fast-twitch type “a” (type IIa) and fast-twitch type “x” (type IIx). These fibers produce more force than slow-twitch fibers, but fatigue more rapidly. It should be noted that type IIa fibers are found in both endurance and strength athletes, and can be classified as “intermediate” fibers, as they have both aerobic and anaerobic properties. In general, slow-twitch fibers are recruited during low-intensity activities, and fast-twitch fibers are recruited as tension requirements increase. The peak power output for fast-twitch fibers is approximately four times that of slow-twitch fibers. In general, endurance athletes will have a greater amount of slow-twitch fibers, and strength/power athletes will have a greater number of fast twitch fibers. Genetics play a huge role in fiber type composition, but we’ll discuss this in more detail another time.

A motor unit contains the alpha motor neuron and all the muscle fibers it innervates. These motor neurons and nerves originate in the spinal chord and help us move our muscles. In small muscles that require fine precision such as the eye, a single motor neuron may innervate as few as three muscle fibers. In larger muscles such as the quadriceps or gluteus maximus, as many as 800 muscle fibers may be controlled by one motor neuron. Slow-twitch motor units will normally consist of 10-180 fibers, whereas the larger fast-twitch units may include 300-800 fibers.

Let’s apply the above information to something we here at CrossFit West know all too well: the back squat. For this lift, let’s think of the quads, hamstrings, and glutes as the main muscles being used (although it is said that during a back squat, over 200 muscles are actually working. No wonder it’s the King of all lifts!). Motor unit recruitment will start with the smaller slow-twitch fibers (think warming up with the bar). Then as we add more weight and the tension increases, the firing rate of these slow-twitch fibers will increase. Greater tension is then developed as the larger, more powerful fast-twitch fibers are recruited (this happens as the weight gets HEAVY). This process will continue until maximal force is achieved and all the available motor units are recruited and are firing at their maximal rate.

So what am I trying to get at here? For one, I’m trying to teach you a little exercise physiology because it is pretty fun and exciting stuff! And number two, I’m trying to get you to think a little about what is going on in your muscles as you lift. Many of us have never given it any thought. It may seem like common knowledge, but the way to get stronger and more powerful is to develop these type II muscle fibers. The only way to do this is to spend some time lifting at maximal or near maximal weights. Otherwise, these fibers are not recruited and therefore not developed. So, next time you go after your 5×2 back squat, think a little bit about those tiny muscle fibers and the motor neurons that are making the magic happen.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Running protects your lungs from pollution

Sweat Science

Polluted air is bad news for everyone, but particularly for runners and cyclists, since they breathe in huge volumes of air, and gulp it in directly through the mouth (which bypasses the filtering you get from breathing in through the nose). The pollution penetrates deep into the lungs, where it creates inflammation and oxidative stress, and can contribute to conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. That's why, during high-pollution summer days, we get warnings about not exercising outdoors.

But researchers in Sao Paulo were skeptical about this advice. Sure, pollution causes inflammation and oxidative stress; but aerobic exercise fights inflammation and oxidative stress. So maybe the net benefits of exercise, even in polluted conditions, outweigh the risks. To find out, they performed a study with mice. First, they collected diesel exhaust particles from the tailpipe of a city bus. Then they divided their mice into four groups:

A control group that did nothing.
An exercise group that trained five days a week for five weeks.
A pollution group that inhaled diesel particles but didn't exercise.
A pollution + exercise group that inhaled diesel particles while exercising.

At the end of the five-week study, they did a whole series of tests to measure how much inflammation, oxidative stress, and lung remodeling was present in the mice. Here's a sample result, showing exhaled nitric oxide (a marker of oxidative and nitric stress):

Pretty stark. The diesel particles (DEP) cause a major spike in nitric oxide -- unless the mice were exercising, in which case levels didn't really change at all. Similar patterns were observed in pretty much all the tests they ran: running protected the mice from pollution damage.

Now, it's important to bear in mind that mice are not humans, so we have to treat the results with caution. If you have the choice between running alongside a river or running alongside a four-lane highway, choose the former every time. But if you're choosing between running on a polluted day or not exercising at all, this study should tilt you in favor of lacing up the shoes. As the researchers conclude:

Taken together, our results indicate that the decreased inflammatory status achieved by chronic aerobic exercise has a protective effect on DEP-exposed mice, decreasing the pro-inflammatory effects of chronic exposure to air pollution.


USATF Classic: ESPN2 On Sunday 12-2 PM ET

Millrose: Race will be broadcast on YouTube at 8 pm ET.2-11-12
LaShawn Merritt going after the 500mWorld Record

Friday, February 10, 2012

Treadmill test predicts risk of dementia

Can aerobic exercise ward off Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia? We'd certainly like to think so, but studies have produced mixed results. One possible reason, described in a recent New York Times article, is that only people who are at high risk of Alzheimer's due to a certain gene variant benefit from exercise's protective effect.

Another possibility is suggested in a new study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: we're really bad a figuring out how much exercise people actually do. When researchers ask "How much exercise do you do each week?", some people underreport, others overreport (just like asking how much mileage people run!), and any pattern in the data gets washed out. To solve this problem, researchers led by Rui Liu of the NIH decided to use cardiorespiratory fitness, measured with a maximal treadmill test, as an objective marker of exercise levels.

The researchers followed about 60,000 patients from the Cooper Clinic in Dallas from 1970 to 2001; during that time, 164 of the patients died with dementia as an official cause of death. The results: when they divided the patients into three groups based on the fitness, subjects in the least fit group were more than twice as likely to die from dementia as those in the middle- and highest-fitness groups.

Another way of looking at the risk: in the maximal treadmill test, the participants reached an average exertion of 11.1 METs before exhaustion. (One MET is the amount of energy you burn while relaxing and watching TV.) For every additional MET subjects reached on the treadmill test, their risk of dementia-linked death decreased by 14 percent.

This result won't end the debate on exactly how aerobic exercise and Alzheimer's are linked -- but for now, if you're looking for a reason to go for a run, this is probably as good as any!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Some Physicians Are Not Always Open or Honest With Patients, Survey Says

Fox Business

Doctors are not always open and honest with their patients, according to a study published today in Health Affairs, making it hard for patients to make informed decisions about the best treatments and course of care.

The study uses the Charter on Medical Professionalism, which lists communication topics among its three guiding principles, as the back drop against which physician attitudes and behaviors are measured.

Despite the charter’s endorsement by more than 100 professional groups worldwide and by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, the study claims it is unknown how widely the charter’s communication provisions are accepted or followed by U.S. physicians. This ad hoc endorsement raises doubts about the viability of broad-based patient-centered care.

Read More

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Energy Systems Contribution to Elite Kayak Racing

The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research released this new study online today ahead of its print publication. “Energy System Contribution to Olympic Distances in Flat Water Kayaking (500 and 1,000 m) in Highly Trained Subjects” by Zouhal et. al. adds to the volume of evidence that short-duration, high-intensity athletic efforts require greater and earlier involvement of the aerobic system than previously characterized by commonly-accepted energy systems models.

In the study, seven elite male kayakers raced 500 m and 1,000 m on flat water under competition conditions. Here are the results:

The 500 m, where average total race time was 108 seconds, derived ~78% of its energy from the aerobic system and ~21% from the anaerobic system(s).

The 1,000 m, where average race time was 224 seconds, derived ~87% of its energy from the aerobic system and ~13% from the anaerobic system(s).

In both distances, the aerobic system reached the crossover point (i.e. provided more than 50% of the energy supplied) and continued to increase in dominance after approx. 30 seconds of race effort.

In both distances, by approximately 45-60 seconds of race effort, the aerobic system was responsible for ~90% or more of the energy supplied.

These findings are compatible with numerous similar studies in running, cyling, and swimming. Together, this body of evidence supports the notion that high-intensity training efforts can have great benefit for endurance athletes precisely because such efforts are highly (and mostly) aerobic at distances and durations much shorter than commonly understood.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Natural Way to Speed Wound Healing

Dr Mercola

New research is determining exactly how honey can help fight serious skin infections. Although people have made use of honey's antibacterial properties for centuries, scientists are just now discovering how it works. And what they are finding is that it might be even more effective than antibiotics.

After any skin injury, bacteria that live on your skin can infect the wound site. One particularly common type of strep can result in wounds that refuse to heal. But honey, especially the kind made by bees foraging on manuka flowers, was found to destroy this bacteria.

Scientific American reports:

“In lab tests, just a bit of the honey killed off the majority of bacterial cells -- and cut down dramatically on the stubborn biofilms they formed. It could also be used to prevent wounds from becoming infected in the first place.”

Friday, February 3, 2012

Muscle biopsies show massage fights inflammation

Very cool new study on massage, from Mark Tarnopolsky’s group at McMaster (abstract here, press release here). Massage is one of those interventions that’s very difficult to study objectively — people like the feel of massage, you can’t blind them, and the outcomes you’re interested in are usually very subjective. But this study does a very good job.

The details: 11 volunteers exercised to exhaustion (about an hour or more on an exercise bike with gradually increasing pace) to induce muscle damage. Then, after a 10-minute break, one of their legs was massaged as follows:

(i) 2 min of effleurage, a light stroking technique delivered with a moderate pressure; (ii) 3 min of petrissage, a firm motion involving compression and subsequent pressure release from the muscle; (iii) 3 min of slow muscle stripping, consisting of repeated longitudinal strokes of ~40 s; and (iv) an additional 2 min of effleurage.

The leg to be massaged was randomly selected, and no one except the massage therapist knew which leg had been massaged until after the results were analyzed.

So how to figure out what the massage did? They took three muscle biopsies from each leg: one at rest, one immediately after the massage, and one 2.5 hours after the massage. Then, because they didn’t know exactly what to expect, they did an untargeted whole-genome analysis to figure out which genes reacted differently between the massaged and non-massaged leg. The result:

[W]hen administered to skeletal muscle that has been acutely damaged through exercise, massage therapy appears to be clinically beneficial by reducing inflammation and promoting mitochondrial biogenesis.

How and why does this happen? The researchers suggest that “mechanical stretch or strain during massage treatment” activates the relevant signalling pathways. In fact, they suggest, the mechanism may be essentially the same as conventional anti-inflammatory drugs. Which is very cool. They also checked the rate of glycogen restoring and lactate clearance in the muscles; neither were improved by massage (which, in the case of lactate, we already knew).

So what does this tell us? Massage does something. Do these acute signalling changes translate to a clinically significant difference in muscle recovery a day later? Impossible to say for now. Is effleurage or petrissage more effective than one of those self-massage devices you can buy from late-night informercials, or than a foam roller? Who knows. But it’s a very good start.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The best reason we’ve ever seen to avoid fast food completely was just reading up on a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation regarding fast food. We’ve all known for awhile that there’s absolutely nothing redeeming in the ingredient lists of fast food products. They’re just bad for you. They have too much fat, too much salt, and tons of controversial ingredients. But now on top of that, it’s been found that there’s a very real possibility they cause brain damage.

In this new study, fatty foods were found to damage the hypothalamus region of rodent brains. The hypothalamus produces the hormones that control hunger, thirst, sleep and moods. It’s thought to be the “self-regulation” center of the human brain, helping us to determine how many hours of sleep we need, when we’ve eaten enough, etc.

During this study, rats and mice were fed a high-fat diet, similar to a fast-food heavy American diet. After 24 hours, their hypothalamuses were inflamed. In about a week, the rodents’ brains activated cells to repair the damage. But after several seeks, the inflammation returned and stayed for the remaining eight months of the study. The findings show that a diet can actually re-program the structure of the brain. It’s felt that this could explain why it can be so hard to lose weight and keep it off permanently. The rodents on the high-fat diet had a 25% decline in a special kind of cell that’s devoted to regulating appetite and fat control. The findings point to the idea that when we’re consuming an unhealthy, high-fat diet, we aren’t able to control our habits because the diet has actually affected the brain.

It’s important to remember that while this is compelling, researchers have yet to determine if the damage observed in rodent brains is analogous to what happens in the human brain. However, this is the first time that a study has found actual changes in brain structure based on fat consumption. feels that this is important information for everyone in our community to note and share with others in their lives. Getting this new word out about fast food will give people another reason to stay away and recommit to preparing fresh foods at home.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Beware Orange Produce


The other day during a phone consult with an online client it was mentioned to me that the previous nutritionist this client had worked with (a “diabetes specialist” as this client is pre-diabetic) had recommended the strict avoidance of all orange produce. Yes you read that right, orange produce.


range produce – carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, oranges, etc – were all on the Not To Be Eaten list. The rationale was that they are digested too quickly and therefore will exacerbate the pre-diabetes issue. This is such a misunderstanding of the science it is utterly scary.

So this “expert in diabetes” is telling me that if I am pre-diabetic that eating a serving of baby carrots (which we will say is 10 of them, close enough anyway) is going to harm my pancreas/increase my insulin resistance? Does this make any semblance of sense? Do you see the ridiculous of this assertion? I understand carrots have a relatively high GI for a vegetable, but that test requires 50 grams of digestible carbohydrate. That takes 1.5lbs of carrots! No one eats that in a sitting and it is utterly irrelevant to every day intake.

This type of advice is nutritionism at it’s worst. It’s just like telling someone to not eat eggs because they contain cholesterol. Focusing on one aspect of a food to the exclusion of all others is just asinine, and is missing the forest for the trees. Carrots are a lot more than their GI value, just like eggs are a lot more than their cholesterol content.

Do you judge an engagement ring simply on cut? No! You look at size, color, clarity, price, etc. Odd analogy I know, it just popped into my head and I think it works nicely.

The point is that whether or not you eat carrots or sweet potatoes is not in anyway going to affect your diabetes risk. Losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising more, decreasing stress, getting adequate sleep, and eating a nutrient-rich calorically balanced diet are your best weapons against most diseases, including diabetes. Avoiding orange produce is not.