Monday, April 30, 2012

Why don't McDonald's hamburgers decompose?

So why don't fast food burgers and fries decompose in the first place? The knee-jerk answer is often thought to be, "Well they must be made with so many chemicals that even mold won't eat them." While that's part of the answer, it's not the whole story.

The truth is many processed foods don't decompose and won't be eaten by molds, insects or even rodents. Try leaving a tub of margarine outside in your yard and see if anything bothers to eat it. You'll find that the margarine stays seems immortal, too!

Potato chips can last for decades. Frozen pizzas are remarkably resistant to decomposition. And you know those processed Christmas sausages and meats sold around the holiday season? You can keep them for years and they'll never rot.

With meats, the primary reason why they don't decompose is their high sodium content. Salt is a great preservative, as early humans have known for thousands of years. McDonald's meat patties are absolutely loaded with sodium -- so much so that they qualify as "preserved" meat, not even counting the chemicals you might find in the meat.

To me, there's not much mystery about the meat not decomposing. The real question in my mind is why don't the buns mold? That's the really scary part, since healthy bread begins to mold within days. What could possibly be in McDonald's hamburger buns that would ward off microscopic life for more than two decades?

As it turns out, unless you're a chemist you probably can't even read the ingredients list out loud. Here's what McDonald's own website says you'll find in their buns:

Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, enzymes), water, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, yeast, soybean oil and/or partially hydrogenated soybean oil, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, wheat gluten, ammonium sulfate, ammonium chloride, dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl lactylate, datem, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated monoglycerides, monocalcium phosphate, enzymes, guar gum, calcium peroxide, soy flour), calcium propionate and sodium propionate (preservatives), soy lecithin.

Great stuff, huh? You gotta especially love the HFCS (diabetes, anyone?), partially-hydrogenated soybean oil (anybody want heart disease?) and the long list of chemicals such as ammonium sulfate and sodium proprionate. Yum. I'm drooling just thinking about it.

Now here's the truly shocking part about all this: In my estimation, the reason nothing will eat a McDonald's hamburger bun (except a human) is because it's not food!

No normal animal will perceive a McDonald's hamburger bun as food, and as it turns out, neither will bacteria or fungi. To their senses, it's just not edible stuff. That's why these bionic burger buns just won't decompose.

Which brings me to my final point about this whole laughable distraction: There is only one species on planet Earth that's stupid enough to think a McDonald's hamburger is food. This species is suffering from skyrocketing rates of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, dementia and obesity. This species claims to be the most intelligent species on the planet, and yet it behaves in such a moronic way that it feeds its own children poisonous chemicals and such atrocious non-foods that even fungi won't eat it (and fungi will eat cow manure, just FYI).

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Do you REALLY know how much sugar is in your food? just recently discovered this, and we figured we would share it.
Thank you Cousin Marilyn for sending in this information!
4.2 grams = 1 teaspoonful of sugar = 1 cube.
**Each cube is a teaspoonful.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Scrub Your Veggies With Baking Soda (and Other Tips)

It might not be the flashiest addition to a kitchen cabinet, but baking soda — fancy name, sodium bicarbonate — is a bona fide workhorse all around the house. And its ability to neutralize acids and bases gives this unassuming powder some truly unexpected uses. Note: Make sure not to mix up baking soda with baking powder, which has different chemical properties!
  •  Make a fruit-and-veggie scrub. We’re tired of dirty produce! Add a few teaspoons of baking soda to water and use the solution to scrub fresh produce, which will help remove grit, pesticides, and whatever else made its way onto those vitamin-packed goodies. Rinse thoroughly afterward for fresh-tasting, clean produce.
  • Treat a sunburn. Add about a cup of baking soda to warm water and submerse affected skin for as long as desired to soothe the pain of sunburns.
  • Use it as an antacid. For regular heartburn victims or folks who ate a few too many tamales last night, baking soda is an effective antacid. Take 1/2 teaspoon in a full glass of water after meals for relief. Those watching their sodium might want to double check with a physician before taking this treatment, as baking soda contains a high amount of sodium.
  • Brush your teeth. Out of toothpaste? Make a thick baking soda paste using three-percent hydrogen peroxide solution. Scoop it up with a toothbrush for a quick and cheap substitute that could help kill harmful bacteria in the mouth[1][2].
  • Fight fires. We’re big fans of kitchen safety at Greatist, which is why we keep a box of baking soda handy whenever we cook. In the case of a grease fire or another small kitchen blaze, toss baking soda on the hot spot to help contain the flames. When heated, baking soda releases carbon dioxide, which helps stifle the fire

Friday, April 27, 2012

Take a Probiotic To Detoxify the Body and Improve Body Composition

Take a probiotic to detoxify the body and improve body composition. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that can restore balance in the intestines. Probiotics have been shown to improve gastrointestinal health, prevent allergies and liver disease, and decrease inflammation. Two new studies show that taking a probiotic can help the body detoxify and make you lose weight by improving metabolism.

A new study in the journal Nutrition shows that probiotics help detoxify the body of heavy metals, free radicals, and dangerous bacteria by enhancing the natural antioxidant status in the body. The effect of enhancing the body’s antioxidant system is better blood sugar management and insulin health, leading to better body composition.

This study took a group of 60 type 2 diabetics and gave half of  them a probiotic daily for three weeks, while the other half acted as a control group. The probiotic treatment resulted in a significant improvement in blood glucose uptake into the cells for fuel and better insulin sensitivity.

The probiotic treatment produced better fasting insulin levels, which are an important marker of the return from type 2 diabetes to normal metabolic status, although the improvement was not statistically significant. It’s likely that simply doing a dietary and lifestyle intervention would improve fasting insulin and glucose uptake even more because the participants were consuming a large amount of carbs (243 grams a day out of 1775 total caloric intake) and low protein. Such a large daily carb intake strongly suggests high-glycemic carbs such as cereal, bread, and similar foods, which will hamper a restoration of insulin health.

The probiotic also significantly increased glutathione status (the number one internal antioxidant in the body) and decreased malondialdehyde, (a primary marker of oxidative stress that leads to inflammation) indicating activation of the detoxification system. A second study of pregnant women confirms this. Seventy pregnant women in their third trimester who were given a probiotic for nine weeks had much higher glutathione and related antioxidant levels than a control group. Researchers suggest a probiotic is safe and beneficial for the health of the mother and the fetus.

Better detoxification and insulin health are two easy ways to lose weight and improve body composition. Research shows probiotic supplementation will help you drop inches from your waistline by decreasing belly fat. A 2010 study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that taking a probiotic for twelve weeks significantly decreased belly fat in subjects by 4.6 percent, and they lost an average of 5.8 square cm of visceral belly fat, and 13 cm of total fat (visceral and subcutaneous). Naturally, body fat percentage, body weight, BMI decreased, and the waist-to-hip circumference in the probiotic group improved significantly more than a control group.

For best results, consider taking a probiotic all the time. Many people think a probiotic is only necessary when feeling sick, but with the constant inundation of bad bacteria, heavy metals, and oxidative stress we are exposed to daily, a probiotic is essential. It’s a no brainer if you’re trying to lose fat.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spinach Juice and Smoothies

 A simple addition or substitution can make a profound difference in the overall quality of your diet. If you enjoy freshly made juice or homemade smoothies, you can very easily improve the nutrient density of these beverages by tossing a handful of raw spinach into the mix. The beauty of this strategy is that you’re unlikely to taste the spinach at all, though you’ll probably notice its chlorophyll inspired hue. But, you can be certain that your body will be keenly aware of it.

   I ’m a strong believer in the importance of understanding why you’re making a change before you actually make it. Part of the reason I encourage you to add more raw spinach to your diet is because of its potent mix of nutrients. A cup of uncooked spinach only contains 7 calories. However, what it lacks in caloric content, it more than makes up for in minerals and vitamins such as folic acid, potassium and Vitamin K. All three of these nutrients are acknowledged as vitally important for the promotion of cardiovascular health. And, since heart disease is the leading cause of mortality around the world, it makes sense to eat more foods that may protect against it.
Taking a closer look at the composition of spinach reveals some additional benefits that extend beyond the cardiovascular system. For starters, eating spinach on a regular basis has been shown to reduce two contributors to degenerative diseases including cancer: DNA instability and lipid peroxidation. Raw spinach may also promote a healthier mood because it’s rich in folate, the naturally occurring B-vitamin. Those living with depressive disorders are often deficient in this essential nutrient. The fact that spinach is one of the best dietary sources of Vitamin K likewise bodes well for various organs and systems in the body. While it’s widely known that Vitamin K supports strong bones, current research also indicates that K plays an integral role in brain functioning. A review appearing in the February 2012 issue of the journal Biofactors explains that Vitamin K is necessary for the production of a type of fat (sphingolipids) present in the brain that may counteract “age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease”.
Whenever possible, I suggest using organic spinach. Conventionally grown spinach is one of the top offenders in terms of detectable pesticide residues. What’s more, the organic version of this green leafy vegetable has recently been proven to contain higher levels of protective antioxidants, including flavonoids and Vitamin C. Flavonoids are one of the key, nonnutritive components of spinach which support cardiovascular health by improving circulation (endothelial function and flow-mediated dilation) and, thereby, lowering systolic blood pressure.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Food Reward Test: Almonds vs Almond Butter Last October in the post High Satiety Paleo Friendly Foods?, I outlined my problem. Right before I go to bed is when I seem to be the most hungry. I seek out foods that are calorie dense that have high food reward. The two foods that I overeat are cheese and almond butter. If it is in the house, I’m going to eat them in excess. In a future post, I will do a follow up to the ideas from the comments in that post. For this post, I’m going to share my results from a test I did comparing the satiety of almond butter versus regular almonds.

In preparation for my last Hunting Headaches experiment, I had to give up fermented foods including dairy. I had already scaled back on dairy to a bare minimum, because prices for yogurt and cheese spiked. This meant for 3 weeks, my only trouble food was almond butter. I tried to control myself, but after 3 weeks, I had finished 3 jars of almond butter. At the end of the 3rd week, I switched to regular almonds. To make them more healthy, I soaked them Nourishing Traditions style.

Soaking raw almonds with a small amount of sea salt helps neutralize enzyme inhibitors present in the nuts. It makes them easier to digest.

For 3 weeks, my hand went into the almond jar whenever I wanted some nuts for snacking. At the end of 3 weeks, I had polished off 3 pounds of almonds. Now let us run the numbers.

Almond Butter: 4140 calories * 3 jars = 12,420 calories

Raw Almonds: 2576 calories * 3 pounds = 7,728 calories

I was able to reduce my calorie level by 4,692 calories over a 3 week period without increasing hunger. The raw nuts provided greater satiety per calorie. My brain clearly reacts differently to almond butter than raw almonds and the difference was substantial. I was able to consume two foods that were nutritionally equal that provided satiety at different caloric levels.

The difference between the almond butter and the raw almonds was much greater than I thought it would be. I wanted to learn more, so I went looking for more information and I found an excellent article titled Five Ways Eating Nuts Can Help You Lose Weight by Kevin Richardson. Go read the full article if this topic interests you. Actually the entire site is excellent. The paragraph I found most interesting was how chewing itself triggers the satiety.

A rather controlled clinical study found that chewing almonds 25 times (which is the average number for most people who eat almonds without trying to choke) elicits the strongest reduction in hunger and increased feeling of fullness two hours after eating, compared to chewing 10 or 40 times.[16] Which leads us to believe there is no need to exaggerate chewing in order to reap the appetite suppressing attributes of nuts since regular chewing seems to do the trick.

With almond butter, there is far less chewing and it takes more calories to reach satiety. This food reward theory has merit.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Which Way Are You Dysfunctional?
1)Scrappers. Desk looks like a modern art exhibit, covered in scraps of paper and sticky notes. They write important notes on whatever is close at hand, whether it’s a fast food receipt or the back of an envelope
2) Pilers. Keep everything and file nothing. There will be boxes on the floor and every inch of desk space will be occupied by stacks of paper, generally piled up to the point that an archeologist could use them to figure out what the piler has been working on for the last five years.
3) Multi-taskers. Aways have a thousand things going on at once and generally take pride in it. They flit from task to task, getting many things started but few things completed. And they often appear frazzled, overwhelmed, and scattered.
4) Interrupters. “Gotta minute?” It’s practically the interrupter’s catch phrase. They will constantly show up at your desk, interrupting your day and derailing your train of thought. Their interruptions are sometimes trivial and sometimes relevant, but almost always ill-timed.
5) Procrastinators. Some people seem clinically incapable of doing anything before the last possible moment. They start things with just enough time to squeeze them in before the deadline. You’ll also notice that procrastinators tend to put off high-value (often challenging) tasks in favor of more pleasant, less critical ones.
6) Socializers. Socializers waste inordinate amounts of time chatting with coworkers and keeping up with the personal lives of everyone at the office. They’re great at planning the company party, but tend to fall short in other ways.
7) Meeting addicts. Some people apparently just love to call meetings.Maybe they really enjoy the setting and the interaction or maybe it honestly has never occurred to them that it is possible to get things done without putting half the department around a conference table. Either way, the result is a lot of time wasted by everyone involved.
8) Crisis creators. We’ve all been there. A lack of planning by one person leads to a crisis for everyone else. Even minor issues are exaggerated into a full-blown disaster and everyone involved ends up feeling stressed and drained as a result. Crisis creators seem to always be fighting fires and coworkers are often dragged into the fray.
9) E-mailers. They send an e-mail for everything. It doesn’t matter how simple or how complicated an issue is, an e-mail message is the answer. They never use the phone, they never walk across the hall to deliver a ten-word message, and they usually LOVE the “Reply All” button.
10) Packrats. Have never thrown anything away in their professional lives. They don’t worry about the company’s records retention policy, because they retain everything, no matter what. They are often overwhelmed by their own treasure trove of obsolete documents, but will come in handy if you ever need to take a look at the final report from that project that was cancelled in 1986.
11) Perfectionists. By insisting on doing everything perfectly, perfectionists generally fail to accomplish much at all. They can never finish, because it “can always be better.” They work hard, but complete little. Perfectionists keep meticulous meeting notes, promise the world during planning sessions, and often seem to crack up just as the project is coming together.
12) Workaholics. The workaholic works an 80 hour week and never misses an opportunity to remind you of it. Puzzling, though, is the fact that they seem to accomplish less than others working half the hours. The workaholic typically has no boundaries between work and home life.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Industrialized Oils

Industrialized Oils are the hidden ingredient behind your favorite potato chips, pre-prepared meals (Yes Central market), and basically anything that seems cheaper than it should be. Like High Fructose Corn Syrup, manufacturers seem to be able to slide it into just about anything that is in a package. This makes it tough to find healthy snack food but trust me you can avoid them and be more healthy for it.

Industrialized oils are the cheap ones (Corn oil, Canola, safflower, sunflower, soybean, peanut, and cotton seed oil to name a few.). The ones that are included in most prepared foods we buy and used in cooking at cheaper restaurants. The problem with these oils are:

They are highly processed. Usually at temperatures of 500 degrees or higher which will kill all things good, if it even existed in the first place.
They are naturally HIGH in Omega 6 which in itself isn’t bad but combined with low Omega 3 diets and High Omega 6 content of our diets can throw things out of wack. Omega 6 is known for increasing the inflammatory response in the body which is linked to heart disease and diabetes (type 2). Being off balance and with the high volume of omega 6s is a huge problem especially when you are asking your body to perform difficult tasks like this:
They tend to be rancid upon production and as a result are unsafe to cook with or, even more importantly, consume.
They are mainly PUFA (Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids) which in excess, and it doesn’t take much to be excessive, can promote Digestive dysfunction, Cancer growth, skin rashes, and allergies.
They promote obesity because of their ability to throw off the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio. Ideally you want to have a ratio of 1-2:1 but that tends to be hard without supplementation.

Based on even just a couple of the points above, I think its worth thinking twice before eating those potato chips or french fries. The long term damage to your arterial walls, digestive system, and immune system it may be a good idea to limit or cut out completely these cheap oils. What do you think?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Soothe Dry Skin With Honey

How sweet it is! Honey’s a killer substitute for refined sugar and can even help treat minor wounds. And thanks to its unique chemical makeup and sticky texture, honey’s the bee’s knees (couldn’t help ourselves!) in plenty of other situations, too. Here are four unexpected ways to use the sweet stuff.

Take an endurance-boosting energy shot. In for the long haul? Instead of reaching for packets of carbohydrate-rich gels or shots, try a spoonful or two of honey. Studies show honey’s unique blend of natural sugars can be just as effective as packaged shots when it comes to powering the body through endurance exercise[1]. Pack along a few tablespoons in a plastic bag and squeeze out on the trail.
Soothe chapped lips. Mix sweet almond oil, beeswax, and honey for a soothing lip balm that protects against dryness. But be warned: Like other balms, this sweet concoction could be addictive.
Calm a cough. It’s not just an old wives’ tale: Research suggests honey is an effective treatment for coughs and sore throats, especially before bed. In fact, honey may be just as helpful as conventional cough syrups[2]. Just be sure not to give honey to children under one year, as they could be at risk for infant botulism.
Treat dry skin. Honey’s an especially good home remedy for those problem dry spots (like elbows). That’s because the sticky solution creates a moist healing environment and can also reduce inflammation[3]. Apply to irritated areas and leave on for 30 minutes — just don’t forget to wash away before it gets too sticky (and definitely before heading near any beehives).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Avoid High-Sugar Fruits

Getting the recommended two cups of fruit per day while keeping sugar intake under the recommended 26 grams per day for women and 36 grams for men can be tricky. Depending on your choices, this could be bad news for fruit lovers: Just two cups of sliced bananas adds up to the maximum recommended amount, clocking in at 36 grams of sugar!

The sugariest fruit we found? Red grapes, which have a whopping 23 grams of sugar per cup. If you’re looking to cut back on your sugar intake, try strawberries or blueberries, which have a respectable 7 grams of sugar per cup.

The Takeaway: Some fruits can have a shocking amount of sugar. To keep it under the recommended limits, try sticking to berries and staying away from grapes.

Regardless of sugar content, whole fruit is always a better choice than fruit juice to keep sugar intake lower and take fiber intake up a notch.
Fun Fact

A cup of orange juice has 30 grams of sugar — nearly as much as a can of soda.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Physiology vs. Psychology in Boston’s Heat

Lots of excitement about the projected sizzling weather for Monday's Boston Marathon, with temperatures reaching into the high 20s C (80s F). Amby Burfoot has just posted an excellent no-nonsense piece on the facts about marathoning in the heat, which I highly recommend taking a look at. One point worth highlighting:

Many runners have an exaggerated fear of heatstroke. While heat will definitely slow a marathoner, and possibly cause various symptoms from headache to dizziness to nausea, heatstroke is unusual in marathoners and rarely the cause of a fatality.

It'll be hot, and it won't feel great, and you should adjust your effort accordingly. But your chances of keeling over and dying are still extremely slim. In fact, many of the people who collapse at or near the finish-line of races -- a spectacle often attributed to heat stroke -- are now thought to be suffering from "exercise-associated collapse," which is "principally the result of transient postural hypotension caused by lower extremity pooling of blood once the athlete stops running and the resultant impairment of cardiac baroreflexes." In other words, you're temporarily not pumping enough blood to your head. The solution: drink some water, and lie in a "Trendelenburg position," on your back with your legs elevated.

It's pretty obvious that times will be slower that they would be in cooler conditions. So does this mean that eye-popping performances are out of the question? Well... let me make two quick points.

(1) Sammy Wanjiru in Beijing. It was hot, it was humid, but Sammy didn't care. He went out as hard as he would have under ideal conditions. He slowed down a bit at the end, but he ran a heck of a lot faster than the 2:10ish times that many pundits were predicting would win it.

(2) This study, published in January (which I blogged about last year). They had cyclists perform a series of 30-minute time trials in a heat chamber at 21 C and 31 C. Not surprisingly, the cyclists went about 4% slower in the hot conditions. But in some of the trials, they rigged the thermometers: the temperature was 31 C, but the display read 26 C. In those trials, the cyclists went just as fast as they had at 21 C. Heat didn't slow them down if they didn't know it was hot.

Now, I'm not suggesting that heat is imaginary and doesn't affect the body. Of course it does. But when we look at big observational studies of marathon finishes and conclude that weather like that expected on Monday makes top runners slow by three to five minutes, I believe we're looking at a mix of psychological and physiological effects. How much of that slowdown is because bodies overheat, and how much is from fear of the heat? I have no idea -- but Wanjiru's Beijing run means that I won't be too shocked if someone still throws down a jaw-dropping performance on Monday.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dietitians Use Supplements Too

Have you ever wondered which supplements dietitians and nutritionists use themselves? The March 2012 issue of Nutrition Journal shares some insight into that very topic. In the survey, a total of 300 registered dietitians were queried about precisely which herbs, minerals, nutraceuticals and vitamins they use regularly and why. The macro breakdown of the findings reveals that 74% of those interviewed classified themselves as “regular users of dietary supplements”. An additional 22% “used dietary supplements occasionally or seasonally”. Also of note is that an impressive 97% of the dietitians recommended supplements to their clients.

A cursory review of the top ten supplements used by the dietitians in the survey is both reassuring and troubling. First, the good news. Some of the most commonly used supplements included multivitamins (84%), omega-3 fatty acids/fish oil (47%) and Vitamin D (43%). All three are included in my own list of the top supplements to consider for general health promotion. On the other hand, some of the choices made by the dietitians can easily be attained via healthful dietary choices and, typically, don’t need to be taken as supplements. Examples of the latter include fiber (22%), flax seed oil (13%) and green tea (18%). Drinking a glass or two of organic green tea and adding ground flax seeds to your daily diet are much better options.

The biggest problem I have with this current report are the nutrients that aren’t mentioned. When asked why they take supplements, the dietitians surveyed cited reasons such as, “bone health”, “fill in nutrition gaps” and “overall health/wellness benefits”. These are all goals that can be supported by the use of dietary supplements. But, some of the most important candidates that can assist one in attaining these goals are surprisingly left unmentioned. In recent years, magnesium has been identified as widely deficient in the modern diet. The same is true of Vitamin K. Both of these nutrients not only play a vital role in supporting bone and cardiovascular health, but also interfere with key mechanisms involved with accelerated aging and degenerative disease such as chronic inflammation, cognitive disorders, depression and poor blood sugar control. The fact that neither of these supplements is singled out anywhere in the full text of the study is somewhat surprising.

The term “fill in nutrition gaps” is frequently used to describe diets that are lacking in fruits and vegetables. Although dietitians are more knowledgeable about nutrition than most lay people, that doesn’t necessarily mean they always eat as healthfully as they should. Taking concentrated fruit and vegetable supplements has been shown to provide some of the health benefits attributable to diets rich in low-glycemic fruits and vegetables. Of late, scientific trials report that supplements containing concentrated fruit and vegetable extracts increase antioxidant capacity and nutrient levels in the body. This encapsulated, powdered form of fruits or vegetables also lowers homocysteine, inflammatory markers and reduces the incidence and severity of respiratory infections. If this doesn’t fit into the “overall health/wellness benefits” category, I don’t know what does!

All of this is to say that even health professionals need to periodically reassess what they’re recommending and taking. And, as health care consumers, we should likewise make sure that what we’re taking is in line with the most reliable and up-to-date information. I personally reevaluate my own supplement routine and that of my clients, family and friends at least twice a year. This allows me to make adjustments and improvements that are supported by the latest scientific research, which is something I hope you will do too

Friday, April 13, 2012

Pick the Right Athletic Socks, A Case Against Cotton

o help prevent injuries and boost athletic performance, we may want to head to the top drawer [1]. Foot problems are common among athletes, yet many don’t realize socks could be the culprit. The feet need support beyond the shoe: Excessive pressure (as the body pounds up to three times its body weight on the ground), as well as jumping, lunging, and running, all put extra stress on the feet. Luckily, socks can help repel some of this extra force.

Athletic socks cushion feet, protect them from irritation and blisters, and, shocker, keep em’ warm. For most athletes, acrylic or synthetic socks may be the way to go, since they’re lightweight, durable, and less likely to bunch up. And it looks like fiber isn’t just important for digestion. Choosing sock fibers with a good wicking gradient will help trap and transfer moisture, which will keep feet nice n’ dry [2]. (Acrylic or polypropylene fibers do this best.) Some studies also show that when running, acrylic socks are better than cotton to keep blisters away [3].

Despite what commercials say, there are a few more reasons cotton may not be the fabric of our lives. Besides of the tendency for fibers to trap sweat (a recipe for blisters!), cotton is also made of absorbent hydrophilic fibers, which may cause socks to lose their shape and lead to skin irritation. Studies also show that cotton doesn’t do the job against foot fungus, and that tight wool may be a better choice [4]. Wool also preserves heat even when wet, making it a popular choice among hikers. (Don’t want to get cold feet when out in the woods!)
Head to Toes — Your Action Plan

Before grabbing the cheapest option in the sock aisle, acrylic or synthetic blends might be better bets since they hold their shape, stay dry, are comfortable, and even repel odor (win!) [5]. But, like specific shoes, athletes should choose socks depending on the sport and conditions. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Running: It’s no secret that a bad pair of socks can really hurt a run. To prevent tinea pedis (a fancy name for athlete’s foot), wear moisture wicking, synthetic socks, and change them as soon as they get wet.

Hiking: The options are aplenty for hikers, depending on trail conditions and how challenging the hike is. For shorter hikes, lightweight socks emphasize wicking abilities over comfort. Midweight and mountaineering socks with durable padding keep feet warm and are good for longer hauls.

Cycling: When hopping on the bike, slip on very thin socks to wick moisture away and reduce friction to avoid foot chafing, recommends Victor Jimenez of Bicycle Lab. Cycling is a non-impact sport so extra padding isn’t necessary.

Lifting: It may just come down to personal preference at the squat rack, but according to Greatist Expert and trainer Jordan Syatt, wearing higher socks is definitely wise when deadlifting to avoid the bar scraping the legs.

No matter what sport or activity is on the agenda, be sure to put those feet first. After all, there’s no replacing them!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Avoid Pain Killers and NSAIDs For Joint Pain and Tendon Injuries

Avoid using painkillers and NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and Tylenol for joint pain and tendon injuries because they will keep you from healing fully. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) drugs are widely encouraged for use in the early stages after muscle or tendon injury, but according to a new review in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports they will hamper long-term healing and can get in the way of muscle building.

Studies of endurance athletes using NSAIDs have found these drugs lead to greater risk of dehydration and hyponatremia, or low sodium and electrolyte imbalance. Use of NSAIDs is rampant among athletes, and that there is limited awareness about the negative side effects of their use. For example, in a group of elite triathletes, 60 percent had used NSAIDs regularly in the previous three months prior to the study, and nearly 50 percent consumed an NSAID the day before a race.

There are two types of muscular injuries that are regularly treated with NSAIDs: Classic muscle ruptures or strains, and muscle contusions. The muscle strain occurs at the connection point between the muscle fiber and connective tissue of the tendon. Tendon injuries take a long time to fully heal because there is an intricate muscle-matrix reconstruction that is necessary to be good as new. Healing tendons can take as long as 12 weeks if not reinjured or overused—an extremely common problem, especially with the use of NSAIDs because the pain response can be blunted.

Contusions come from direct blunt force trauma to the muscle and are more common in contact sports. They lead to damage to the vascular system of the muscle, leading to a buildup of blood that causes a hematoma. A side effect of contusion injuries is compromised tendon strength because tendons have poor blood flow, meaning that waste products don’t get removed effectively. This is the reason contusions or even imbalances between the muscles can compromise tendon health and strength.

NSAIDs get in the way of long-term tendon and muscle repair because they reduce the activity of satellite cells to regenerate—these are the cells that rebuild the connective tissue that joins your muscle with the bone. NSAIDs have been shown to blunt the muscle hypertrophy response by as much as 50 to 75 percent in animals, and we know that they suppress protein synthesis following a single bout of exercise.

In the short-term, NSAIDs may effectively decrease swelling and help get rid of adhesions on the tendon that have to be eliminated before the satellite cells can do their work. So, they appear to help in the short-term and can blunt pain, but they will trip you up in the long-term. Additionally, there are natural solutions that can have the same anti-inflammatory effect, while not inhibiting full recovery.

Topical creams that contain curcumin or gotu kola have shown to get rid of inflammation, start the de-adhesion process, and increase blood flow to the tendon. Gotu kola has been shown to strengthen connective tissue and speed wound healing, while curcumin is probably one of the most effective anti-inflammatory nutrients you can take.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

from 60 Minutes...... Is Sugar Toxicx?

Its a 14 minute video but well worth the watch...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Vitamin D and Seasonal Allergies

Here’s well-timed news for people suffering from seasonal allergies: A new study, small but well designed, shows improvement with supplementation of vitamin D.

The participants (35 people with seasonal allergic rhinitis) received either vitamin D (4000 IU daily) or placebo for two weeks. Beyond this both groups received the same treatment. The group getting vitamin D experienced less daytime problems with sneezing, nasal congestion and runny noses:

Observe that the study has only been presented at a scientific conference – meaning it’s not published yet. The result thus has to be taken with an extra pinch of salt. And we need another, larger study for proof. But it still sounds promising.

Monday, April 9, 2012

How much extra energy does it take to run when you gain weight

How much energy does it take to transport 1 kg of bodyweight when I run?

The surprise in these results is that the lines are pretty much horizontal. It does take more energy to run if you're overweight, but the increase is exactly proportional to how heavy you are. Strangely, this isn't what you'd observe if you just strapped on a backpack with some extra weight in it -- in that case, you'd automatically make adjustments to accommodate the extra weight, resulting in a decrease in the amount the energy needed per kilogram to run. (Cool detail: some of the previous studies in this field involved subjects wearing medieval armor weighing up to 50 kg!) So the researchers conclude that overweight subjects (unlike knights) have time to gradually adapt to their slowly increasing mass. This has some positive effects:

[T]he results of this study strongly suggest that the elastic
tissues of obese subjects can adapt (e.g., thickening) to the
increased mass of the body, thus maintaining their ability
to store elastic energy...

When you run, somewhere around 40 to 50 percent of the energy you need for each stride is stored in the springlike tendons of your legs. Turns out that, as you get heavier, these springs get stronger so they can store the larger amount of energy needed to keep you running. But this benefit just means that energy per kilogram stays the same, as opposed to the (relative) efficiency boost you get from a sudden increase in weight. The moral of the story: when people say "You'd run faster if you were five pounds lighter; after all, imagine how much it would slow you down to wear a five-pound backpack," they're underestimating the effect of extra weight. Gaining five pounds is the equivalent of wearing a backpack that weighs even more than five pounds.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Normally bananas are kept in a fruit bowl or hanging from a rack. While this is fine, if you are like me and really prefer your bananas at certain point in time, then that is far from optimal as they brown quickly. This leads to bananas simply going uneaten, and I hate wasting food. A far superior method is to actually keep your bananas in the refrigerator!
Once bananas have reached your desired level of ripeness, simply place them in the fridge in your fruit drawer and they will remain at that state for nearly a week! The peels themselves will change plenty, turning brown and kinda nasty looking, but the fruit itself hardly changes, preserving that delicious flavor. Try it out and let me know how it goes!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Limits to Performance

I went to an event last night at the Edinburgh Science Festival. It was a fascinating lecture by 4 of the UK's (world's?) top exercise scientists.

The lecture was called How far, how fast how high?

What are the genetic, physiological, biochemical and psychological limits to the human body? Former UK Athletics Performance Director, Professor Dave Collins, joins sports scientists Dr Yannis Pitsiladis and Professor Andy Jones, and nutritionist Professor Ron Maughan to discuss the physiologic, genetic, psychosocial and economic determinants of success, and the limits to performance.

All of the talks were excellent:

Dave Colins spoke about the psychology of winning - all things being equal, elite athletes are those who believe that they are the best. He gave a fascinating report of a study he had done on powerlifters. He told them they were getting steroids when in fact they were on a placebo. They all got significantly stronger. He really stressed that believing that you are on the right training system and that you will succeed is vitally important. Yes talent and ability are fundamental but the winners are those that believe in themselves and their approach. I've been thinking a lot about this area recently and the whole idea of the placebo. Really interesting and under-appreciated.
Andy Jones talked about the physiology of champions. He had worked with Paula Radcliffe and spoke about the unique nature of her body. She is basically in the very top percentiles of the distribution. Her VO2 max, velocity at VO2 max etc are all off the charts. In testing her he was able to predict her times and indeed her world record times at various distances. This stressed the importance of talent, of ability....but he also mentioned that a key thing with Paula was her ability to hurt herself, to push herself. Again it is mental.
Yannis Pitsiladis talked about genetics. He had looked at the DNA of the top runners in the world, all Africans. Sprinters tend to be West African and middle / long distance runners tend to be East African (Ethiopian/Kenyan etc). He had looked at certain candidate genes and also done GWAS but had not identified any real genes that were responsible. It was all pointing towards epigenetics, environmental factors that activate the genes.
Ron Maughan talked about nutrition, but he key focus was that nutrition is really bottom of the pile - talent, trainability, training, psychology, social support etc are all much more important. He also stressed that much of the key science is actually very old - he referred to papers from 1919 by Bainbridge.

It has long been recognized that the main seat of fatigue after muscular exercise is in the central nervous system. Mosso long ago stated that “nervous fatigue is the preponderating phenomenon and muscular fatigue is also at the bottom of the nervous system”. There appear, however, to be two types of fatigue, one arising entirely within the central nervous system, the other in which fatigue of the muscles themselves is superadded to that of the nervous system.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Food Trends

Did you know that a recent report on food trends from the Hartman Group, a market research firm in Washington state, found that people are catching on to the evidence that better health and body composition come from a simplified approach to diet and eating?

At first glance, the list of “in” and “out” food and health trends may appear more complicated, but with a closer look, it’s trendy to take a simple approach to food that takes us back to where we came from. Food trends aren’t exactly based on how our ancestors ate thousands of years ago, but they are leaning that way.

It also looks like the long-time no-nos such as salt, coffee, and saturated fat are being approached with reason and evidence-based science.

Coffee can be good for you!

Some saturated fat is essential in your diet for healthy hormone function!

Salt actually won’t give you cardiovascular disease—oh, and not all red meat will increase mortality risk! Everything within reason, of course. Red meat needs to be organic, grass-fed and as wild as possible—and saturated fat and salt need to be eaten in controlled portions, but it looks like it’s cool to eat flavorful, tasty food. Check out the list below.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

This Guy Rocks

This is Armand Turgeon He's 85 Oly-Lifter and still hitting lifts on the platform...This is him at the Atlantic States Championship in Lynn 02-2012

Monday, April 2, 2012

Going Through the Motions

Nothing bothers me more than to see athletes going through the motions in a training session. Just doing work, mindlessly going from exercise to exercise with one goal – get the workout over with is not training. Training is not punching a clock, just doing the task and moving to the next task and magically getting better. Training is more than putting in the time getting the reps. For training to accrue and have meaning it must be done with purpose and attention. It is not counting reps it is making the reps count. In order for training to have an effect it must be mindful. You can get a monkey to do exercise, but is it meaningful, does the effort have quality?

You are what you train to be. What you do in training will be reflected in what you do in competition so train the way you want to compete. Going through the motions will not get it done in competition so why would do that in training? I had one athlete tell me he would turn it on when lights came on (alluding to the game that night). Well it was pretty predictable what happened when the lights came on that night; the lights went out for him it was like he was not even in the game. Training and practice are essentially building good habits, rehearsing to perform in the competitive arena. Make training count, make each training session a positive step toward competitive excellence.Don't waste an opportunity to bet better, to reach your potential.