Wednesday, October 31, 2012

4 Things That Will Kill You Way Before Cholesterol

The Four Killers: The Real Dangers to Your Heart

I’ve identified four major things that age the body and rob us of vitality. They are so insidious and so systemic that I’ve named them “The Four Horsemen of Aging.” They are:
  1. Inflammation
  2. Oxidation
  3. Sugar
  4. Stress
Inflammation, oxidation, sugar and stress will kill you. Cholesterol won’t.


Inflammation is a silent killer, a contributor to every major degenerative disease from Alzheimer’s to diabetes, from heart disease to cancer. It comes in two flavors- chronic and acute. Acute inflammation is the one we’re all familiar with—it’s what you feel when you stub your toe, get a toothache, pull a muscle or have an allergy attack.
But chronic inflammation is the killer and it flies beneath the radar. It’s your body’s response to small but continuous insults like exposure to toxins, bad diet, stress, cigarettes and the like, and it causes damage to your vascular system. In fact the body uses cholesterol to try to patch up that damage—so blaming cholesterol for the damage is like blaming a St. Bernard for an avalanche!
We can do a great deal to fight inflammation by eating anti-inflammatory foods (fruits and vegetables abound with natural anti-inflammatories like quercetin and other flavonoids and by taking anti-inflammatory supplements (top of the list: omega 3′s!)


Oxidation is another process that ages us. Oxidation is what you see when apple slices left in the air turn brown; that happens inside our bodies every day, the result of attacks on our cells and DNA by rogue molecules called free radicals. Diets high in antioxidants go a long way towards fixing the damage.


Sugar is a risk factor for almost everything you don’t want to have—causes something called glycation. which happens when excess sugar in the bloodstream “gums up the works.”  Sugar gloms on to protein in the blood, making it too sticky to pass through small capillaries. It’s one reason why diabetics often have amputations in the extremities like toes and feet and problems in areas like the eyes and the kidneys which are served by small, narrow blood vessels.  High blood sugar is far more damaging to the body and to life than cholesterol. And it’s relatively easy to “fix”.


Finally, stress is one of the biggest killers on the planet, and, like sugar, far more of a danger to us than cholesterol ever was. Stress hormones age (and shrink) an important area of the brain called the hippocampus which is involved in memory and thinking.
Stress can exacerbate nearly any disease, not to mention that it can slow (or even prevent) recovery. And stress actually makes you fat- the major stress hormone, cortisol, causes the body to store weight around the middle.
In the “Blue Zones”- areas around the globe where people routinely live to 100 in extraordinary health with all their faculties intact- no one worries about their cholesterol or their saturated fat intake. They don’t have to.
Their lives have built in stress-reducers like extended families and community events; they eat natural whole food diets filled with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. And their sugar intake is naturally low, so they don’t have to worry about it gumming up the works and destroying their health.
Aging may be inevitable, but unhealthy aging is not. If you know what to do you truly can have an extraordinary life well into your 9th and 10th decade, filled with vitality, joy and purpose.
Best of all, it’s not all that hard to do.
The payoff is worth it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

3 Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

By Ashley Tudor

There's no need to hold off on sweet potatoes until the holidays. This superfood is a nutritional all-star and should be incorporated into your diet year round. Here are three reasons why:

1) Sweet potatoes are naturally anti-inflammatory. Chronic inflammation especially in the gut makes us eat more and absorb less nutrition from our food. Eating anti-inflammatory foods such as sweet potatoes in place of inflammation causing food such as wheat can give us the energy we need while healing our bodies at the same time.

2) Sweet potatoes are a complex carbohydrate that burn slowly in our system. Filled with fiber, which naturally slows digestion, energy is released gradually into our body and cells. This slowed digestions provides a steady state of energy and keeps us full longer.

3) Sweet potatoes are a nutrition-dense, power-packed, superfood.  Sweet potatoes contain high amounts of Vitamin E an antioxidant that helps protect our bodies from free radicals. Plus, they contain more then 100 percent of the daily requirement for Vitamin A (beta-carotene), helping our vision stay in tip-top shape.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Get Ahead of Getting Sick This Year

Getting sick for some people is an annual thing, and for others it is much more frequent, yet some people almost never fall ill.  Most people contribute illness to the weather, or “there’s a bug going around”.  The more likely situation is that there is a lack of sleep and nutrition and a lot of stress going around.
We are exposed to bacteria and viruses everyday.  While we may think that life is much cleaner than it was 100o years ago, our indoor lifestyle has become a petri dish for bugs of all types to grow and replicate.  Public areas no matter how well maintained, provide lots of exposure.  So why do people seem to get sick at the same time?
When your body is healthy, your immune system is constantly fighting off everything you come in contact with.  Getting exposed to something like a flu virus at these times often results in nothing more than maybe a little less energy for a day or two.  In a work place usually a time of stress is on the entire staff, not just an individual.  With heightened stress and extended hours comes less sleep and a weakened immune system.  One person with a weak immune system becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses.  With everyone else’s defenses down as well, spreading the sickness becomes very easy for the bugs.
There are two ways you can approach these situations.  You can be reactive and depend on drugs to pick up when your immune system fails to keep you well, or you can be proactive and fight the stress and fatigue with good food and good sleep to keep your immune system up to par.
If you don’t like feeling miserable, I’m guessing proactive sounds better.  So how do you accomplish this?
You have to start with the basics, eating a clean diet high in quality protein, whole food fruits and vegetables,  that is also low in sugar, inflammatory fats, processed wheat, corn, and soy products.  You can improve on this by supplementing with a quality multi-vitamin, zinc, probiotics and vitamin D3.
  • A good multi will provide you with the cofactors to support energy production.  The immune system needs a lot of protein and energy to run well.  This is why it suffers when your diet and sleep do.
  • Zinc and selenium are the main minerals of the immune system.  Almost everyone needs more zinc in their diet so supplementing with a zinc chelate is a good idea for optimal immune function among many other benefits.
  • Probiotics help set up your first line of defense and keep your immune systems guard up.  These beneficial bacteria and yeast actually compete with and kill harmful bugs.  These become even more important if you take anti-biotics or NSAID and other pain killers that disrupt your natural biota.
  • Vitamin D3 helps modulate immune function throughout the body, and in layman’s terms helps it target the bad bugs and leave the good stuff.
Now that you have the basics, the next step is to see trouble coming.  When times of extra stress approach, you need to be proactive about increasing your nutrition and maintaining sleep quality.  Often times stress and the causes of said stress lead to missed meals, late nights, and consumption of lower quality convenience foods.  Stock up on super foods like berries and teas to keep you going in a pinch.  Adding in some raw or un-denatured whey protein shakes during the day to keep up protein intake.  Whey protein is especially good at increasing immune function.
You have to make time for sleep, and take measures to keep sleep quality.  A busy and stressed out mind does not always come down easy.  Eating foods like bananas that increase seratonin or foods high in omega 9′s like avocado may do the trick.  Supplementing with calming herbs or teas can also help.  It’s always beneficial to add magnesium and inositol at night if you have trouble with sleep quality as these compounds also help combat stress as well.  Here are some more things that can improve sleep very easy.
  • Don’t watch TV before bed, read  instead with dim lighting to calm the mind.
  • Don’t eat small daytime meals and large dinners, this will result in disrupted sleep.
  • Stop caffeine consumption no later than 4PM
  • Exercise in the morning
  • Stretch in the evening to lower cortisol
  • Listen to calming music or nature sounds with dinner
  • Stay on a consistent sleep and wake schedule

Saturday, October 27, 2012

How Can I Do a Faster Ironman?

What is the best way to train for events that are so close together? I'm not a fast runner, should I concentrate on speed and shorter distance during the week and up my long runs to 3 times per month? I would appreciate any help you might give me.

It’s a bike race: About half of the race is spent on the bike. So it has the greatest impact on the overall time. Get really fit on the bike and you’ll have a good finishing time—if you hold back. This last part is critical. If you go all out on the bike—your fastest possible split—you’ll walk the marathon. But if you hold back 5% on the bike you’ll come off and be ready to run, albeit, slowly. More on that in a bit. The best way to prepare for the bike is to use a power meter. It’s almost like cheating. Once you know what your power should be for the race, you just ride to that power and you produce your best time. Again, this is not a maximal (minimal?) time, but rather optimal—it leaves you with enough legs to run, not walk.

 With a swim warm-up: The swim makes up only about 10% of the race. You don’t need to swim a whole lot to get ready for it. Three swims a week will do it. And the focus _must_ be on form—not fitness. You’ll get a lot faster just by refining your technique. Let fitness takes care of itself. On race day then, what you must do is pace yourself in the swim. Get on somebody’s feet who seems to have a good pace and relax. Just keep checking to make sure the other swimmer is staying on course.

And a jog to the finish: Ok, finally, the run which you expressed concern about. There is absolutely no need to do “speed” work, as in fast intervals. It will just be a waste of your time, leave you tired most of the time, and increase your chances of injury. You’re never going to run “fast” in an Ironman. Even the pros don’t run fast. A pro man who runs a 2:50 after the bike could probably run 2:25 to 2:30 in a stand alone marathon. That’s roughly 15% slower after 112 miles on the bike. His Saturday morning run with his buddies is usually faster than that! It’s the same for you only the percentage is probably more like 20% because you will have spent more time on the bike with less training and therefore be relatively more tired. You could go out right now, with no additional training, and run the same time or even faster for 26.2 miles than you’re going to run in the Ironman. That would feel easy. It’s a jog.

Friday, October 26, 2012

How to lose weight: Avoid fruit

This is a tip that goes for men as well, of course, but eating fruit is a more common obstacle for women trying to lose weight.
This advice is controversial as fruit has an almost magical health aura today. People may believe that fruit is nutritious but unfortunately fruit contains a lot of sugar – around 10% by weight (the rest is mostly water). Just taste an orange or a grape. Sweet, right?
Five servings of fruit per day is equivalent to the amount of sugar in 16 ounces of soda (500 ml). Contrary to what many people believe the sugar is more or less identical (about 50% glucose, 50% fructose).
Sugar from fruit can shut down fat burning. This can increase your hunger and slow your weight loss. For best results avoid fruit – or enjoy it occasionally as a treat.
Bottom line: Fruit is candy from nature.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Physical Activity Trumps Mental Activity, Study Suggests

Staying mentally sharp as you age may have more to do with working out than working on crossword puzzles, new research suggests.
People who stayed physically active into old age tended to have larger brains than those who did not exercise in the study, published today in the journal Neurology.
The brain typically shrinks in late adulthood, and this shrinkage is believed to play a role in age-related memory decline.
The new research is the latest to suggest that exercise is good for the brain as well as the body.
“It is pretty clear that exercise is one of the most potent things we can do to protect our brain as we age,” says University of Pittsburgh exercise and aging researcher Kirk Erickson, PhD, who was not involved with the study.

Exercisers Had Larger Brains

The new research included about 700 people living in the United Kingdom who all had brain scans when they reached the age of 73.
Three years earlier, at age 70, the study participants were questioned about the leisure and physical activities they engaged in.
People in the study who reported being the most physically active tended to have larger brain volumes of gray and normal white matter, and physical activity was linked to less brain atrophy.
Regular exercise also appeared to protect against the formation of white matter lesions, which are linked to thinking and memory decline.
Non-physical leisure activities did not appear to protect the brain from shrinkage, suggesting that mental activity may be less important than regular exercise for preserving brain function into old age, the researchers say.
But researcher Alan J. Gow and colleagues from the University of Edinburgh add that more research is needed to prove this.

Mental Decline Not Inevitable

Erickson’s latest research, presented this summer at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Vancouver, echoes Gow's research while suggesting that it’s never too late to protect the brain through exercise.
Along with colleagues, he recruited 120 older inactive adults with no evidence of dementia for his study.
Half began a modest exercise routine that included walking at a moderate pace for 30 to 45 minutes, three times a week. The other half did stretching and toning exercises.
A year later, MRI brain scans showed that a key region of the brain involved with memory, known as the hippocampus, was slightly larger in the walking group, while it has shrunk slightly in the non-aerobic stretching group.
While his study focused on aerobic exercise, others suggest that resistance training also benefits the brain.
Erickson says the accumulating research is changing the thinking about how the brain ages.
“The old view is that as we get older our brains become less malleable and less able to change,” he says. “The new view is that it remains plastic even very late in life. We were able to show positive change after just one year of moderate-intensity physical activity.”
Orthopaedic surgeon Vonda Wright, MD, who studies aging athletes, says it is a myth that frailty and mental decline are inevitable in old age.
Wright directs a performance program for older athletes at the University of Pittsburgh and she is the author of the book Fitness After 40.
She points out that exercise has been shown to help prevent many diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and some cancers.
“It is never too late to harness our body’s capacity to get stronger and more functional,” she says. “There is no pill that can do what exercise does.”

Monday, October 22, 2012

A few supermarket secrets you probably don’t know about

Elizabeth Renter

If you love reading about natural health, you may already be a little suspicious of every food on your grocer’s shelves. At this point, you are likely a label reader, you check produce stickers to see how far your vegetables have traveled, and you are on the lookout for food items you know, or at least suspect, may have genetically-modified ingredients.

But, are you aware of all the many supermarket secrets that could be working against your physical and financial health – aside from you feeling things like nasty effects of pesticides smothered on your produce?

Selling food is a business—from the subsidized soy and corn producers to the shelf-space in the grocery stores. And like any business, the primary concern is making money. Here are just a few ways that many grocery stores put your health and your budget to the test.

You decide which of these supermarket secrets are acceptable, and which methods seem to be less than ethical practices:

1. Shrinking Packages

Over the past several years, containers and food packages have gotten smaller. Whether they are trying to make up for losses in a bad economy, or if it’s just greed—food manufacturers are selling you less and they are selling these smaller packages at the same price! They’ll shrink the product (but not the price) for a while and then when they add a few ounces back, they can market it as “20% more!”

2. Expired Food in the Deli

That prepared food you buy from the deli comes off the shelves of the store, and they aren’t picking the freshest options. Instead, they’ll choose the foods that are closest to their expiration date, saving themselves money. A better bet: cooking for yourself.

3. Eye-level Shelves are Prime Real Estate

Food companies pay for product placement. The little-known companies and local food producers are often on the very top shelf or way down at floor level because they can’t afford to be right in the middle, where companies pay a stiff price to be closer to your eyes and hands.
4. Suspicious lighting

 Your grocer may be making their wares look more attractive with colored bulbs. In most cases this is actually against the law, but is reportedly difficult to enforce. Red lights over the meat counters or green lights over the vegetables can make the food look better and make you spend more.

5. Dirty produce

There are no restrictions on who can fumble through the produce section. But not only are you taking home produce that’s been handled by other customers, it was put out there by store employees, the person who unpacked the box, and even the person who picked it. There’s no telling who has touched the produce or where their hands have been. So, if you need a snack and opt for something quick out of the produce department (smart thinking!), be certain you wash it thoroughly—even if it’s organic.


Here are a few other supermarket secrets you probably don’t know about:

  • Freezing Food – Did you know that what you think is fresh could be months old? After being kept in a freezer for months to prevent aging, breads are finally thawed to put on display. This is known as “parbaking”. Similarly, meat is frozen before reaching the supermarket, but then thawed to look fresh in the market’s freezer. The problem? This opens a wider door for bacterial exposure and growth. Think twice before stocking up on meat, only to freeze it.
  • Avoiding Mondays – Deliveries to supermarkets don’t typically happen on weekends. This means that stuff purchased on Mondays is likely several days old. Wednesday is generally when supermarket shelves are stocked with fresh products.
  • Use-By Date – While it’s scary to think about, you could actually see the same products you saw months ago, with a new use-by date sticker on it. The manufacturer use-by date can’t be changed, but retailers can add their own use-by date sticker numerous times until the product is sold. Grocery stores need those profits!
  • The “Cold Line” - There is something called a “cold line,” also known as the “load limit,” where eggs are kept. The cold line is a colored line in the dairy section painted on by manufacturers. If you see eggs stacked above this line, know that these eggs can sweat, igniting possible bacterial growth.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Multivitamins Reduce Cancer Risk After All?

A new vitamin study just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (full text freely available here) is front-page news today. The finding:
In this large prevention trial of male physicians, daily multivitamin supplementation modestly but significantly reduced the risk of total cancer.
This is a significant finding, because the trial was big (14,641 male physicians over the age of 50), long (average follow-up time of 11 years), and well-conducted (randomized, double-blinded, and placebo-controlled). It's also significant because it runs counter to the majority of recent findings about the health benefits of vitamin pills. I've been highly critical of the weak evidence for vitamin use in the past, so a well-designed study like this is a signal that I might need to change my tune.
The reduction in overall cancer risk was 8% -- relatively modest, but certainly worth pursuing if it's real. Interestingly, vitamin use didn't have any significant protective effect for any individual type of cancer. It was only when the results were aggregated that the protective effect emerged.
So is this the definitive "real" result? I can't help being a little uneasy. As the paper's discussion section points out, this isn't the first study to look for these effects:
In the Cancer Prevention Study II, which followed up more than 1 million US adults beginning in the early 1980s, multivitamin use was not associated with cancer mortality.The Women's Health Initiative found that multivitamins had little or no relationship with the risk of breast, colon, or other cancers in more than 160 000 women followed up for a mean of 8 years.Among 35 000 Swedish women, however, multivitamin use was associated with a 19% increased risk of breast cancer during a 10-year period compared with women not using these vitamins...
And that's just the start of the list! So it's worth pausing for moment to remember what we mean by "statistically significant." Statisticians typically say a result is significant if its p-value is less than 0.05; loosely speaking, that means that the results are "strong" enough that there's a less than 1 in 20 probability that they occurred purely by chance. Of course, this means that if you perform 20 studies of the same question, you'll probably get one that produces a statistically significant result even if the effect is actually non-existent. So there's a clear danger in studying the same question over and over until you get a "positive" result, and then concluding that that must be the right answer.
This effect can be illustrated by looking just at the new JAMA study, which measured far more than 20 outcomes. The p-value for reduced cancer risk was 0.04, just under the threshold for significance. But a few other "statistically significant" results popped up: the risk of a skin rash was higher in the vitamin group (p=0.03); blood in the urine was less common in the vitamin group (p=0.02), but nosebleeds were more common (p=0.01). Are these real effects, or just statistical artifacts? It's impossible to know: all we have is probabilities. One study, on its own, is never definitive -- it just adds to the existing body of research.
Having said all that, this was a good study -- and I'm still a strong believer in the scientific method! I'm not quite ready to go to the store and buy some multivitamins, but I'm a lot closer to considering it than I have been in years. And it's worth noting that the same study also measured other outcomes:
We present the findings for multivitamin use on total and other common site-specific cancers; the effects of a multivitamin on cardiovascular events, eye disease, and cognitive decline are being published separately.
It'll be interesting to see what results those other parts of the study produce. For now, though, I'm sticking to the belief that eating as many fruit and vegetables as I can is the best possible multivitamin.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Vitamin D insufficiency promotes chronic disease and increases risk of early death by 50 percent

(NaturalNews) Medical researchers have been sounding the alarm about the importance of maintaining optimal vitamin D levels from childhood through to the adult years, but millions of aging adults remain grossly deficient in this critical hormone-based nutrient. Vitamin D has demonstrated efficacy in preventing diseases from cancer to cardiovascular disease and dementia. Every cell in the body is now known to have vitamin D receptors where the nutrient provides an essential key to accurate DNA and cellular replication.

A research team from Wake Forest School of Medicine has published the results of an important study on vitamin D and disease risk in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM). The study purports that low levels of vitamin D and high levels of parathyroid hormone are associated with increased mortality in older African American and Caucasian adults. Prior studies on the effects of low vitamin D levels have been conducted on persons of European origin, but this study distinguishes important differences in disease risk between blacks and whites.

Low vitamin D levels are a significant risk factor for disease development and early death

The lead study researcher, Dr. Steven Kritchevsky noted "We observed vitamin D insufficiency (defined as blood levels less than 20 ng/ml), in one third of our study participants. This was associated with nearly a 50 percent increase in the mortality rate in older adults... our findings suggest that low levels of vitamin D may be a substantial public health concern for our nation's older adults." It's important to note that while sun exposure provides a plentiful supply of circulating vitamin D during our younger years, continual warnings to avoid the sun and a natural tendency to produce less of the prohormone from sun exposure as we age, places older adults in a dangerously depleted state.

The study included 2,638 Caucasian and African-American adults, aged 70 to 79. For the baseline reading, participants fasted for 12 hours and blood was drawn and tested to determine levels of vitamin D. Every six months, the study's volunteers were contacted to assess their medical condition. Disease rates were then correlated with vitamin D levels to determine mortality and cause of death. The scientists factored in time of year and degree of sun exposure.

The researchers determined that vitamin D levels under than 30 ng/mL were associated with significantly increased all-cause mortality. Other studies have concluded that even higher vitamin D levels (50 to 70 ng/mL) provided optimal health risk protection. Adults of all ages should have their vitamin D blood saturation checked regularly using the reliable 25(OH)D test, and supplement as necessary to maintain blood levels in the ideal range


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Stroke Protection Diet

Staying informed about the latest health care news is clearly beneficial. Knowledge is indeed power. However, information is only as valuable as your ability and/or willingness to apply it. Presently, an example is found in the field of stroke research. Several current studies point to nutritional interventions which may reduce the risk of stroke. Implementing these delicious and simple dietary approaches could significantly reduce the burden that strokes inflict on individuals, families and the health care system. The key is to find practical ways of accomplish this objective.

Strokes are sometimes referred to as “brain attacks”. They occur when blood flow is temporarily interrupted to the brain. When this absence of circulation persists for more than a few seconds, tissue damage occurs due to a lack of oxygen. Strokes are typically classified into two categories: 1) hemorrhagic stroke; 2) ischemic stroke. The ischemic variety is caused by excessive clotting that prevents blood supply from reaching the brain. On the other hand, hemorrhagic strokes are precipitated by the leak or rupture of a weakened blood vessel in the brain.
An excellent and flavorful approach to lowering stroke incidence is to adopt a low carbohydrate, Mediterranean style diet. Regular adherence to a typical Mediterranean menu plan is estimated to confer 12% protection against stroke. That said, the frequent inclusion of select foods common to the Mediterranean region such as apples, dark chocolate, fish, low-fat dairy, nuts, olive oil and red wine may provide even greater protection against both hemorrhagic and ischemic strokes.
Here’s an example of a meal that incorporates several of the foods that modern science has associated with stroke prevention:
  • Appetizer: Heirloom Tomato Slices topped w/ Fresh Burrata Cheese and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Main Course: A Fillet of Wild Salmon w/ Sauteed Broccoli or Spinach and a Glass of Red Wine
  • Dessert: A Baked Apple sprinkled w/ Chopped Nuts & Cinnamon or a piece of Dark Chocolate
Every single item on the above menu has been found to lower one or more risk factors for stroke. For instance, apple polyphenols were recently shown to stunt cholesterol oxidation, thereby keeping arteries supple. Pure cocoa supports healthier blood flow to the brain and discourages systemic inflammation, which may contribute to cardiovascular complications. And, new research contained in the journal Neurology indicates that regular tomato consumption is linked to a 59% decreased rate of “any stroke” in middle-aged men. Now, that’s powerful “medicine”! The implications of this current batch of studies is that food can, in fact, be used strategically to lower the likelihood of stroke. The question now is whether or not this research will be put to use and widely disseminated.
Click on the following links to learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Does Drafting Help In Running?

Everyone knows that drafting is crucial in cycling. (The finding from one of the classic studies of the topic: at the back of a group of eight riders cycling at 40 km/hr, you consume 39% less energy than you would on your own.) But what about running? Wind resistance is much less important at slower speeds, so does it make any difference? And if so, how much? I was discussing this recently with an old friend, McMaster University coach Rory Sneyd, and decided to dig up some data.
The first question is how much energy air resistance actually costs you. There have been a few studies with different estimates, but the one that seems most reliable is this 1980 Journal of Applied Physiology paper:
The energy cost of overcoming air resistance on a calm day outdoor was calculated to be 7.8% for sprinting (10 m/s), 4% middle-distance (6 m/s), and 2% marathon (5 m/s) running.
These are significant amounts of energy -- and of course, if you're running into a headwind, the cost is significantly greater. A speed of 5 m/s is about 5:22/mile, so it's safe to assume that drafting isn't really relevant at speeds of, say, 7:00/mile or slower unless there's a significant headwind.
The second question is whether you really benefit from tucking behind a runner in front of you. The canonical study here was done by Griffith Pugh -- best known as the physiologist on the first successful Everest mission -- in 1971. The full text (which covers in great details all aspects of running and air resistance) is freely available here; here's one of the key graphs:
This shows oxygen consumption (which is basically equivalent to energy consumption) for a runner running alone at 6:00/mile in a wind tunnel, versus the same runner running at the same pace one meter behind another runner in the wind tunnel. It's pretty clear that there's a big energy saving from drafting. Pugh runs some calculations to determine that at 4:30 mile pace, drafting one meter behind another runner on a still day saves about 80% of the energy you'd otherwise spend fighting air resistance. That corresponds to about 1 second per 400 meters at that pace, and more on windy days.
The final question: where do you have to position yourself to obtain optimal drafting position? Here are Pugh's measurements of dynamic air pressure at various distances from a person standing on a treadmill in a wind tunnel:
The numbers to pay attention to are the percentages, which tell you how much air pressure you'd feel at that point compared to the value taken in front of the subject. (Ignore the negative value -- it essentially just means "zero" to within the limits of the measurement.) You can see that between 40 and 80 cm behind the runner, there's virtually no wind felt at all. At 100 cm, there's a very slight increase, but you're still well shielded -- and this is probably near the limit of how close behind someone you can run anyway. You can also see that moving to the side of the runner exposes you to pressure quite quickly: 40 cm to the side sees a slight increase, and at 70 cm to the side, you're getting pretty much no benefit.
So that's the data! If you want to calculate exactly how much benefit you get at speed X when the wind is blowing with speed Y from angle Z, things get pretty complicated pretty quickly. But the ballpark figure -- a second per lap at 4:30 mile pace on a still day -- gives a sense of how big the effect is, and why it's so hard to lead a middle-distance race from gun to tape.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sargent Major Plumley, veteran of 3 wars, dies at age 92

The Associated Press

Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Basil L. Plumley, right, and retired Lt. Gen. Hal Moore, left, who served together with the 1st Cavalry Division in the Ia Drang Valley, talk at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center in Columbus, Ga., in 2009. Plumley, 92, died Oct. 10 at the Columbus Hospice in Columbus, Ga. COLUMBUS, Ga. — Basil L. Plumley, a renowned career soldier whose exploits as an Army infantryman were portrayed in a book and the movie “We Were Soldiers,” has died at 92 — an age his friends are amazed that he lived to see.
Plumley fought in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam and was awarded a medal for making five parachute jumps into combat. The retired command sergeant major died Wednesday.
Friends said Plumley, who died in hospice care in west Georgia, never told war stories and was known to hang up on people who called to interview him. Still, he was near-legendary in the Army and gained more widespread fame through a 1992 Vietnam War book that was the basis for the 2002 movie starring Mel Gibson. Actor Sam Elliott played Plumley in the film.
Plumley didn’t need a Hollywood portrayal to be revered among soldiers, said Greg Camp, a retired Army colonel and former chief of staff at neighboring Fort Benning who befriended Plumley in his later years.
“He’s iconic in military circles,” Camp said. “Among people who have been in the military, he’s beyond what a movie star would be. ... His legend permeates three generations of soldiers.”
Debbie Kimble, Plumley’s daughter, said her father died from cancer after spending about nine days at Columbus Hospice. Although the illness seemed to strike suddenly, Kimble said Plumley’s health had been declining since his wife of 63 years, Deurice Plumley, died last May on Memorial Day.
A native of Shady Spring, W.Va., Plumley enlisted in the Army in 1942 and ended up serving 32 years in uniform. In World War II, he fought in the Allied invasion of Italy at Salerno and the D-Day invasion at Normandy. He later fought with the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment in Korea. In Vietnam, Plumley served as sergeant major — the highest enlisted rank — in the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment.
“That puts him in the rarest of clubs,” said journalist Joseph L. Galloway, who met Plumley while covering the Vietnam War for United Press International and remained lifelong friends with him. “To be combat infantry in those three wars, in the battles he participated in, and to have survived — that is miraculous.”
It was during Vietnam in November 1965 that Plumley served in the Battle of la Drang, the first major engagement between the U.S. Army and North Vietnamese forces. That battle was the basis for the book “We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young,” written nearly three decades later by Galloway and retired Lt. Gen. Hal G. Moore, who had been Plumley’s battalion commander in Vietnam.
In the 2002 film version, Mel Gibson played Moore and Elliott played Plumley. Galloway said several of Elliott’s gruff one-liners in the movie were things Plumley actually said, such as the scene in which a soldier tells the sergeant major good morning and is told: “Who made you the (expletive) weather man?”
“Sam Elliott underplayed him. He was actually tougher than that,” Galloway said. “He was gruff, monosyllabic, an absolute terror when it came to enforcing standards of training.”
That’s not to say he was mean or inhuman, Galloway said. “This was a man above all else who had a very big, warm heart that he concealed very well.”
Plumley retired with the rank command sergeant major in 1974 at Fort Benning, his last duty station. He then took a civilian job doing administrative work for the next 15 years at Martin Army Community Hospital.
Camp said Plumley remained strong until just a few weeks before his death. He helped open the Army’s National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning in 2009. Camp, who now works for the museum’s fundraising foundation, said Plumley helped him get Elliott to come narrate a ceremony dedicating the parade ground outside the museum. When Camp mentioned the actor’s name, Plumley handed him Elliott’s cellphone number.
After Plumley became ill, Galloway mentioned his worsening condition on Facebook. Fans of the retired sergeant major responded with a flood of cards and letters. The day before he died in hospice, Camp said, Plumley received about 160 pieces of mail.
“He was dad to me when I was growing up,” said Kimble, Plumley’s daughter. “We are learning every day about him. He was an inspiration to so many. He was a great person, and will always be remembered.”

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012

EPOC again...intervals again....

That old area of dispute about the post exercise impact of exercise in terms of calorie burn has popped up again:

In a new study, researchers show that exercisers can burn as many as 200 extra calories in as little as 2.5 minutes of concentrated effort a day -- as long as they intersperse longer periods of easy recovery in a practice known as sprint interval training. 
Analyzing results from the room calorimeter system showed that the volunteers burned an average of an extra 200 calories on the sprint interval workout day, despite spending just 2.5 minutes engaged in hard exercise. Though the researchers can't yet speculate on whether such efforts could translate into weight loss, Sevits and his colleagues suggest that engaging in intense, but brief, bursts of exercise could aid in weight maintenance. "Burning an extra 200 calories from these exercises a couple of times a week can help keep away that pound or two that many Americans gain each year

Friday, October 12, 2012

Healthcare: The Key is Prevention

We spent the last few days at the Health 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. The conference showcases cutting-edge innovation transforming the health care system, mostly in health IT. Health providers, insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and hundreds of other players in the ecosystem participated.
Healthcare is a big business – the average American spends $7,000 a year on healthcare. That’s over 2 trillion dollars!!
     Some more numbers: Healthcare is the 5th largest economy in the world. It is bigger than the entire economy of France!! And the industry is expected to grow. A good market for businesses to be in.
Except for the growing burden on the US economy.
America’s healthcare is very ineffective. Although we spend much more than any other country in the world, by most parameters the US is not even in the top 10 healthy countries. For example, we are only #50 in life expectancy.
Many new companies cropping up are figuring out innovative ways to cut costs, increase efficiencies in processes, solve data interoperability issues, and ultimately undo many years of seemingly illogical policy, regulation, and business decisions.
All this is great. We need to reduce inefficiencies in the system.
   And it’s a big but.
      If America really wants to be healthy, we need to spend more time and effort on prevention. If people don’t get sick in the first place, we can save billions of dollars that are now spent to fix. If each American lost just 10 pounds, healthcare costs would plummet by several billions dollars.
One of the things we did not see enough of at the conference, and in general, is an underlying discussion of the role food plays in healthcare. Yes, food.
     The number one cause of disease in the US today is food! Over-consumption of nutrient poor foods has led to the obesity epidemic, diabetes in numbers never heard of before, and many other diseases.
What can we do to push the better food agenda? How can we create mechanisms to encourage individuals, companies, and healthcare stakeholders to invest more time and energy doing something about food?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Raise Testosterone and Improve Athletic Performance By Taking Magnesium

Raise testosterone and improve your athletic performance by making sure you get enough magnesium. Low magnesium will slow energy metabolism, compromise performance and work capacity, and emerging evidence shows this mineral affects the anabolic/catabolic equilibrium in the body.

A recent study tested how raising magnesium levels affects testosterone in men at rest and after exercise with the following 4-week study design: A group of sedentary men received 10 mg of magnesium/kg/body weight daily (Group 1), a group of male tae kwon do athletes took the same magnesium protocol daily (Group 2), and a group of tae kwon do athletes who acted as a control and did not take magnesium (Group 3).

Results showed a month of taking roughly 750 mg of magnesium daily significantly raised free testosterone in Group 2 at rest by 26 percent. They also experienced an 18 percent increase in testosterone response to a shuttle running test over pre-supplementation values.

Similarly, the sedentary men in Group 1 also increased free testosterone after the shuttle run test by 10 percent, but had no increase at rest. There was much more variability in the testosterone response to exercise of individual subjects in this group than in the two other groups. Researchers don’t speculate why this may be, but one option is that testosterone response to exercise varies greatly among individuals based on overall nutritional status. Certain subjects in Group 1 may still have been low in other nutrients that affect testosterone and endocrine balance in the body.

The physiological mechanism behind the relationship between magnesium and testosterone is thought to be related to an increase in oxidative stress in the body due to low magnesium that creates a pro-inflammatory state. Levels of testosterone and another anabolic hormone, insulin-like growth factor-1, have been found to be relative to the antioxidant capacity in the blood. When inflammation is high, secretion of these hormones is blunted, compromising performance and body composition.

Both women and men should pay attention to the need to get adequate magnesium for healthy, balanced hormones because low magnesium will throw off the hormone balance for both sexes. Multiple studies show low magnesium in women can cause an imbalance of the androgen hormones, leading to bone loss. Plus, it’s well documented that low magnesium compromises performance in female athletes.

Be aware that surveys of magnesium intake around the world show that less than 50 percent of the population gets enough magnesium from diet. Researchers suggest taking 500 mg a day of magnesium from magnesium bound with taurate, ororate, glycinate, or fumarate to support hormone levels and athletic performance.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Weight Gain in a Nutshell

I observed some interesting things regarding health on my recent international trip.  Basically, I could see the process of my "How to Lose Weight" page in reverse.
Due to flight schedules, I ended up with less sleep than usual.  And so then I noticed going down this path:
  1. Get less sleep
  2. Get stressed
  3. Start to eat when not hungry
  4. Find it difficult to know when full
  5. Crave junk food
  6. Have less motivation to move around

All of this is a one-way ticket to weight gain, and it was all set in motion by the lack of sleep!  I felt like I gained a pound or two over the weekend there, though obviously it will reverse now that I'm back to normal circumstances.
I still view sleep/darkness time as the bedrock of health.  This "experiment" only further confirmed my thoughts.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Is Pepsi Max Bad For Your Weight?

    Can artificial sweeteners from diet sodas affect your weight? My six hour experiment the other day implies that the answer might be yes.
The results can be seen above. I drank the Pepsi Max (17 oz.) after about an hour. The black line is the blood sugar and the purple line is the ketones.

          Pepsi Max and other products with artificial sweeteners are thought not to affect peoples weight, as they contain no calories. That’s an oversimplification that ignores any hormonal effects and resulting hunger. If the sweeteners slow your fat burning and increase your hunger they will of course affect your weight – calories or not.
What is clear from the experiment is that something happened. The ketone level dropped precipitously. My interpretation is that this potentially could result in a decreased fat burning, making it harder to lose weight. Perhaps this is due to insulin release, perhaps not.
I wonder: What if your fat burning is impaired for more than five hours, every time you ingest artificial sweeteners?
One objection: Was the culprit the artificial sweeteners or the caffeine in the soda? This experiment can’t tell, but I would gladly bet money on the sweeteners. Perhaps I’ll do a similar experiment later, drinking black coffee instead.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Seven ways to use honey

(NaturalNews) Lots of us may like to use a little honey as a sweetener for our morning coffee, toast or tea, but there are several uses for this tasty little treat - in its pure, raw, non-pasteurized form, it can do more than just bring a smile to our face.

Manuka honey as the new 'superfood.' What is Manuka honey, scientifically known as Leptospermum Scoparium?

Well, it is honey that is produced by bees that pollinate Manuka trees, which grow almost exclusively in the East Cape region of New Zealand. Because it's a bit of a rarity, it also tends to be pricier but according to Britain's Telegraph newspaper, a recent survey of people who bought it showed that 58 percent believed it to be better than ordinary honey - even if they didn't really know why.

This might be why. Manuka honey has a long reputation for offering a number of health benefits. For New Zealanders, local honey containing local pollen can help reduce the effects of hay fever, but for everyone else, Manuka honey has antiviral and antibacterial actions, which is why lots of people familiar with this superfood's qualities down it at the first hint of a cold or sore throat.

"According to doctors, Manuka honey's high sugar content creates a waterless environment in which the bacteria that are infecting a wound are unable to survive. Also, thanks to the presence of an enzyme called glucose oxidase, it is acidic, which apparently adds to its unique antibacterial properties," the Telegraph said.

"The therapeutic potential of uncontaminated, pure honey is grossly underutilized," says Peter Molan, director of the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. "It is widely available in most communities and although the mechanism of action of several of its properties remains obscure and needs further investigation, the time has now come for conventional medicine to lift the blinds off this 'traditional remedy' and give it its due recognition."

Honey as a natural energy booster. Do you down an energy bar or drink during your hectic day? Try a spoonful of honey instead; it's been proven to deliver a significant boost of energy to athletes performing strenuous exercise.

"Numerous studies have singled out carbohydrates as a critical nutrient in endurance exercise," says Richard Kreider of the University of Memphis Exercise and Sport Nutrition Laboratory. "Most of the studies to date have shown supplementation with glucose to provide the extra staying power. We were pleased to find that honey, a 'cocktail' of various natural sugars, performed just as well."

Forget the fancy facial creams. Raw honey is exceptional for your face and skin, according to research. Try a "Gentle Honey Wash" consisting of a dollop of honey mixed with two tablespoons of warm water in the palm of your hand, then gently massage the mixture into your face or skin.

"Honey has long been valued in Asia for its natural medicinal properties. Combined with rice bran, honey is used there to treat diaper rash and even acne. Honey is also an excellent treatment for dry skin as it stimulates good circulation and helps to seal in moisture," says holistic skin care expert Ettia Tal.

You can even make your own honey moisturizer, says travel and food writer Anna Brones: "If you've got a handful of sweet smelling herbs -- think lavender -- laying around and ready to be used, why not use them for your own homemade honey lotion? Warm honey over a saucepan until it gets to a liquid consistency. Pour honey over herbs and cap tightly; the ratio you want to use is one tablespoon of herbs per eight ounces of honey. Let sit for a week and then mix one teaspoon of liquid into an eight ounce bottle of unscented lotion."

Having trouble sleeping? "A spoonful of honey before bed (by itself or in a cup of warm herbal tea) is a natural sleep remedy that can help you relax and fall asleep faster," writes Natural News' Elizabeth Walling.

Suppress that cough and throat irritation. Pure, non-pasteurized honey is an excellent elixir for common wintertime ailments like coughs, colds and sore throats.

"Honey helps with coughs, particularly buckwheat honey. In a study of 110 children, a single dose of buckwheat honey was just as effective as a single dose of dextromethorphan in relieving nocturnal cough and allowing proper sleep," writes health enthusiast and researcher Diana Herrington.

Boost your immune system with this natural antibiotic. According to recent research, defensin-1, a protein added to honey by bees, possesses antibacterial properties and could be used against drug-resistant bacteria. This bee-produced protein "could one day be used to treat burns and skin infections and to develop new drugs that could combat antibiotic-resistant infections," says a summary of the research published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

Balance the five elements "Honey has been used in ayurvedic medicine in India for at least 4000 years and is considered to affect all three of the body's primitive material imbalances positively," says Herrington. "It is also said to be useful useful in improving eyesight, weight loss, curing impotence and premature ejaculation, urinary tract disorders, bronchial asthma, diarrhea, and nausea."

Friday, October 5, 2012

Farah was the weakest athlete I've ever seen, says coach Salazar

 By Jonathan McEvoy

Salazar said: ‘When Mo came to me 18 months ago, he was a skinny distance runner with a great engine but no upper body. At the end of races, he would tire and his head would bob around and his arms would flail.
‘He was the weakest athlete I’d ever trained — in terms of core strength and being able to do push-ups, sit-ups and single-leg squats. He was a 90lb weakling.
‘The No 1 thing that has helped Mo is not the 110 miles a week he puts in on the road, but the seven hours a fortnight in the gym.’ 

The Farah-Salazar collaboration has proved a triumph after Farah travelled to Portland, Oregon, to work with the former New York marathon specialist at the start of last year.
Speaking to the Evening Standard, Salazar added: ‘When Mo takes off his shirt, coaches who have worked with him just  can’t believe how ripped he is.’ The Cuban said Farah gained a surge of energy from the crowd on the final straight that took him clear of his challengers in Saturday night’s 5,000m.
‘But also Mo dug deeper than I have seen any athlete do. You’re talking about a man who has more heart, more guts and more soul than any athlete I’ve ever seen,’ said Salazar.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Does Running Burn Stomach Fat - Is Insulin Resistance And Cortisol Giving You A Fat Belly?

Nobody wants a fat belly; but insulin resistance and cortisol may be giving you a fat belly you don't really want. The reason for this visceral or belly fat is cortisol. High levels of cortisol have been shown to stimulate the storage of fat around the belly and abdomen.
And while there are a number of reasons your cortisol levels may be high one of those reasons is insulin. It seems cortisol and insulin are fast friends. The more insulin you have in your bloodstream the more cortisol you have. As your insulin goes up so does your cortisol.

OK So What is Insulin Resistance Anyway?
Insulin resistance is where your body has produced adequate amounts of insulin to handle the foods you eat but is unable to absorb the insulin into cells in order to use sugar (carbohydrates) as fuel.
It's a rather dastardly problem. You have all this muscle fuel available but rather than using that fuel it remains circulating around your body in your bloodstream - doing damage to your arteries - while your muscles must now cannibalize themselves to keep going.
You see the cortisol has prevented your body from absorbing the insulin and instead is breaking down the muscle protein into amino acids which can be converted into glucose (fuel) by the liver. You are now left with less fat burning muscle and more cortisol which gives you a fat belly.

So What Can You Do To Reduce That Fat Belly?
You need to reduce your cortisol levels. But how can you lower them without harmful drug? It turns out there are a number of easy things you can do to safely lower your cortisol levels without resorting to pills.
  • Foods you have allergies to; seems logical right? But what about the foods like dairy or wheat where you can eat a little bit but unless you eat a lot you're OK. That little bit raises your cortisol levels. (You may not have allergies to these particular foods I just used them as an example).
  • Foods that impact your blood sugar. Granted any carbohydrate is going to raise your blood sugar but high glycemic foods will raise your insulin levels (and cortisol) to 'fat belly' levels. Choose low glycemic foods instead.
  • Foods containing Caffeine and other stimulants - such as coffee tea soft drinks or chocolate. As your caffeine intake goes up so does your cortisol. (Make sure you lower your caffeine level gradually to avoid headaches.)
  • Stress - any sort of stress will raise your cortisol level. If possible avoid stressful situations. Tie up loose ends and finish half finished projects. Learn to say no when your schedule becomes hectic. Finding ways to avoid stress and relaxing ways to de-stress will help to keep cortisol levels down.

  • Vitamin C intake to 1 to 2 grams a day - this vitamin has been shown to reduce cortisol levels. (Don't drink orange or other juices to increase your vitamin C as they are high glycemic foods.)
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids - Take Cod Liver Oil (1 Tablespoon Daily) to combat insulin resistance and reduce cortisol levels. The omega 3's in Cod Liver Oil will help your cells absorb insulin and other nutrient your body needs.
  • Exercise - which will help to use the glucose in your bloodstream and lower your blood sugar.
  • Sleep - When your body doesn't get adequate sleep it depends on cortisol to provide the energy it needs. Remember we're trying to reduce cortisol so getting enough rest will help your body to get along without the additional cortisol.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Exercise improves memory, thinking after stroke, study finds

Just six months of exercise can improve memory, language, thinking and judgment problems by almost 50 per cent, says a study presented today at the Canadian Stroke Congress.
Toronto researchers found that the proportion of stroke patients with at least mild cognitive impairment dropped from 66 per cent to 37 per cent during a research study on the impact of exercise on the brain.
"People who have cognitive deficits after stroke have a threefold risk of mortality, and they're more likely to be institutionalized," says lead researcher Susan Marzolini of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. "If we can improve cognition through exercise, which also has many physical benefits, then this should become a standard of care for people following stroke."
     Forty-one patients, of whom 70 per cent had mild to moderate walking problems requiring a cane or walker, followed an adapted aerobic and strength/resistance training program five days a week. Exercises designed to imitate daily life included walking, lifting weights and doing squats.
The research team found "significant improvements" in overall brain function at the conclusion of the program, with the most improvement in attention, concentration, planning and organizing. Muscular strength and walking ability also increased.
     The study did not use a control group of people who didn't exercise. However, Ms. Marzolini says, "these results provide compelling evidence that by improving cardiovascular fitness through aerobic exercise and increasing muscle mass with resistance training, people with stroke can improve brain health."
Ms. Marzolini emphasizes the need to give people with stroke-related impairments access to exercise programs. "Modified exercise programs are desperately needed – they can be adapted for people following stroke, and we think they can provide huge health benefits."
"Healthy living is important for reducing your risk for stroke, recovering from stroke and preventing another," says Ian Joiner, director of stroke for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. "All of us should manage our risk factors for stroke and, when needed, have access to information and counseling about strategies to modify our lifestyle choices."
     "These healthy lifestyle studies emphasize how important it is to exercise and stay active after stroke," says Dr. Mark Bayley, Co-Chair of the Canadian Stroke Congress and Medical Director of the Neurological Rehabilitation Program at Toronto Rehab. "By doing so, we can increase our chances of a better outcome after stroke."
     The Canadian Stroke Congress is co-hosted by the Canadian Stroke Network, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Stroke Consortium.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How to slow aging

  1. Your metabolism decreases with age, by about 10% from your 30’s to your 60’s, and a further 10% from your 60’s forward. This means you main gain fat more easily.
  2. Your maximum oxygen consumption decreases by significantly each decade from 25 to 65 years of age, and then decelerates even more quickly – which means intense cardiovascular efforts can be very difficult.
  3. You grow less responsive to energy stimulating hormones called catecholamines (like epinephrine), and as a result, your maximum heart rate decreases, which also can decrease the intensity of hard efforts.
  4. The total amount of blood your heart pumps per beat and the ability of your muscles to extract oxygen from that blood decrease, which can affect your cardiovascular capacity.
  5. Your muscle strength peaks around 25 years old, plateaus through 35 or 40 years old, and then begins to decline quickly, with 25% loss of peak strength by the time you’re 65. This is due to a loss in the number of muscle fibers.
  6. Your tendon, ligament, and joint elasticity is decreased as “cross-linkages” form between soft tissue fibers in these areas. This can cause a loss of 2-4 inches of lower-back and hip flexibility.
  7. Your bone density decreases as the calcium content of bones gets lower and the matrix inside the bone begins to deteriorate, which can lead to increased risk of osteoporosis or fractures, especially in women.
But this article isn’t meant to depress you about getting older! Most of the fitness losses listed above can be drastically decelerated by engaging in regular bouts of physical activity through adulthood and into your older years. As a matter of fact, a 56-year-old recently beat me in an Ironman triathlon – and I’m 29! If someone nearly twice my age can swim, bike, and run me into the ground, then you can certainly maintain fitness as you age.
Based on the list above, activities to slow aging should focus upon:
  • Muscle Strength
    Weight lifting machines are perfect for introducing your body to exercise, especially since there is significantly lower risk of falling or injury. Free weights and elastic bands can be included once comfortable with machines. A 68-year-old friend of mine recently became certified as a TRX instructor, and this is certainly more challenging, but completely do-able, even for senior exercisers.
  • Cardiovascular Endurance
    Treadmills can easily be used by slow aging, and can actually help with building both cardiovascular fitness and balance, since a rail is there to help if you need it. Elliptical trainers and bicycles are also good for cardiovascular endurance, and for beginners, a recumbent bicycle is a great option.
  • Metabolism
    Rather than simply riding a bicycle at a set pace, if you’re aging, you should go out of your way to attempt to include a few hard intervals that involve hard breathing and burning muscles. This will help to boost the slowing metabolism.
  • Bone Density
    Bone grows stronger in response to loading and impact. While impact-sprinting on a treadmill may be difficult for you, loading of the bones and spinning along the long vertical axis is a very good idea, and can be achieved with exercises such as squats, overhead presses, chest presses, or lunges.
  • Flexibility
    While many yoga classes require a degree of balance that can be difficult for seniors, a beginner yoga class is the perfect solution for improving flexibility. In addition, you can include a full body stretch routine after exercise, when the muscles and joints are more warm and pliable.

A Workout Program To Slow Aging

To a program that address the variable listed above, I’d recommend starting with the following routine, 3-4 times per week:
  1. Warm-up for 10 minutes on a recumbent bicycle, alternating 2 minutes of easy pedaling with 2 minutes of hard pedaling.
  2. Perform a full-body stretch, including flexibility moves for the upper and lower body such as arm circles, leg circles, toe touches, reaching for the sky, and torso twists.
  3. Do a full body circuit on exercise machines that consists of 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions of chest press, seated row, shoulder press, pulldown, leg press and leg extension and leg curl.
  4. Finish with abdominal bracing on the ground, which simply involves lying on the ground with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor, then pressing the low back down and tightening the abs, holding for 5-10 seconds, releasing, and then repeating for 10-12 repetitions. This does not involve low back bending and extending, and can build abdominal strength while being easier on the spine.
Remember, it’s never too late to start exercising, and the effects to slow aging are dramatic!

Monday, October 1, 2012

9 Tips to Never Getting Sick at School

new school year brings about a sense of meaning, determination, and a set of goals to be reached by the end of the week, semester or year. These goals usually include certain GPAs, club positions, sorority/fraternity pledging, athletic goals, etc. But, I’m going to suggest that you add one more goal to your list: don’t get sick all year. A simple cold is one thing, but getting full on sick in the middle of the hectic school year is something none of us want. It probably sounds ridiculous, but focusing on your health over the course of the school year is going to be key to thriving in college, not merely surviving. Here is how you reach your goal of not getting sick this school year:

  1. Eat Clean. When it comes down to it, what you eat is going to determine A LOT of your ability to avoid sickness. Eating grains, corn and soy is going to give you a leaky gut, which wreaks absolute havoc on your entire system. This “havoc wreaking” causes inflammation, and the immune system reacts as if it were under attack causing autoimmunity (when the system attacks itself as if it were an enemy). Not to mention, sugar also promotes inflammation causing even more trouble with the immune system. Stick to the basics.
  2. Drink More. No, not alcohol. Water has hydrating properties that will keep your body happy and functioning properly. A gallon a day is probably about right, but don’t stress out to get to this point. I personally just feel better when I am drinking water over the course of a day as opposed to not drinking. As the Rawbrahs say “you should pee clear 10 times a day” (another good goal to have).
  3. Take a Probiotic. We recently had a post about what supplements you should and should not be taking. I cannot stress enough how a probiotic will help keep you from getting sick. Probiotics improve gut flora, which improve gut functioning, where 80% of your immune system is located. Taking a probiotic can improve anything from the common cold, to headaches, to nausea and bloating. Take a probiotic to avoid sickness.
  4. Go Outside, Soak up Sun- Vitamin D has anti-inflammatory properties that will reduce pressure on your immune system. As we have explained before, too much inflammation (caused by eating grains, and processed oils) can wreak havoc on the immune system causing it to fight itself as if it were fighting an enemy.
  5. Vitamin C. On the same note as Vitamin D, Vitamin C, found in high concentrations in oranges, can be vital for fighting common cold symptoms. It can be a great natural way to stop a sickness from coming on. Studies have found that for people who are under physical stress, taking 1,000mg of Vitamin C daily can cut the incidence of colds in half. This DOES NOT mean to go grab a glass of pulp-free, processed orange juice. I’m talking about grabbing a fresh orange so you get all the fresh, unprocessed juice, as well and the natural fiber from the pith (the rough white skin between the peel and the fruit).
  6. Use Some Coconut Products. Rub it on your skin, mix a tablespoon into your coffee, or just straight up eat the stuff. Whatever you do, make sure you are getting some sort of coconut product (preferably coconut oil). It has vital vitamins, nutrients and fats that your body needs to run properly. Coconut oil also has something called lauric acid which is converted to monolaurin in the body. Monolaurin helps to avoid disease’s such as influenza, herpes and HIV. 
  7. Take Some Fish Oil. Fish oil was also touched upon in the recent supplements post. Because of high amounts of Omega 6 fatty acids in our foods, we need to take some sort of omega 3 supplement. Fish oil is one of the best ways to add omega 3′s back into your diet on a college budget. Remember, ideally we want our Omega 6:Omega 3 ratio to be at 1:1. Right now, the average O6:O3 ratio is around 16:1. Omega 6 is a pro inflammatory fatty acid, which means the more you have in your system, the more inflammation you are likely to have. Inflammation once again wreaks havoc on the system, causing us to get sick.
  8. Sweat a Little. While I haven’t found exact studies confirming that exercise can help you avoid sickness, it very likely that there is some sort of link. It may just be a correlation, but even being around healthier people is going to force you to make better decisions about your health. Try some of the caveman college fitness basics and you will be surrounded by healthy, happy people in no time. Just make sure to seek some professional help if you are getting into heavy weight lifting (which i would recommend), as it shouldn’t be too hard on a college campus.
  9. Play. It seems like a simple idea. Kids do it all the time, and it seems like we play all the time also. However, a lot of college students spend most of their time studying, partying or going to class. Find time to play, and you will not regret the benefits that you will reap. Play engages the brain in ways that no class, exam, or paper could ever do. Not to mention, it is a stress reducer and life enhancer. The best part is, play can be anything: your favorite sport, a walk through campus, a hike, bike ride, or even just a casual game of catch. The important thing to remember is to stay in the moment, and engage yourself in play. With play, you will not only be physically healthy, but also mentally healthy.