Friday, May 31, 2013

What’s in That Big Mac? MUCH More Than You Think


from http://blog.fooducate.com


 Time magazine has just run an article entitled What’s in That Big Mac? More Than You Think. The title was a lead in to a discussion of calories of fast food meals. Most people, when asked, underestimate the calorie count of a big mac combo meal by up to 20%. A consistent undershoot of caloric values can obviously lead to weight gain.
That’s why the simple public health policy of calorie labeling on items at fast food establishments, to be implemented early next year, seems to make sense. However, as readers of this blog know, not all calories are created equally. Eating junk food that is high in calories poses risks greater than simple weight gain. the nutrient devoid food, often laced with dangerous preservatives could lead to other health implications.
Did you know that with every bite of a Big Mac, you are chewing on a highly processed formulation of:
100% pure USDA inspected beef, no fillers, no extenders, Prepared with grill seasoning (salt, black pepper),Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar, soybean oil and/or canola oil, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, wheat gluten, ammonium sulfate, ammonium chloride, dough conditioners (may contain one or more of the following: sodium stearoyl lactylate, datem, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated monoglycerides, monocalcium phosphate, enzymes, guar gum, calcium peroxide), calcium propionate and/or sodium propionate (preservatives), soy lecithin, sesame seed,Milk, water, milkfat, cheese culture, sodium citrate, salt, citric acid, sorbic acid (preservative), sodium phosphate, color added, lactic acid, acetic acid, enzymes, soy lecithin (added for slice separation),Soybean oil, pickle relish [diced pickles, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, vinegar, corn syrup, salt, calcium chloride, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate (preservative), spice extractives, polysorbate 80], distilled vinegar, water, egg yolks, high fructose corn syrup, onion powder, mustard seed, salt, spices, propylene glycol alginate, sodium benzoate (preservative), mustard bran, sugar, garlic powder, vegetable protein (hydrolyzed corn, soy and wheat), caramel color, extractives of paprika, soy lecithin, turmeric (color), calcium disodium EDTA (protect flavor),lettuce,Cucumbers, water, distilled vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, alum, potassium sorbate (preservative), natural flavors (plant source), polysorbate 80, extractives of turmeric (color),Chopped onions,…
That’s over 80 ingredients, some of which we’d like to highlight:
  • Azodicarbonamide is a popular dough conditioner. It also bleaches the flour (makes it whiter). It’s considered safe in the US at up to 45 parts per million, but is banned from use in Europe because studies showed it could cause asthma or allergic reactions.
  • Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) is used as a preservative to retain color. It may irritate the skin or cause skin rash and even asthma. It is on FDA’s list of food additives to be studied for toxicity.
  • Industrial caramel coloring is made by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperatures. The chemical reactions create 4-methylimidazole, which in government-conducted studies caused lung, liver, or thyroid cancer or leukemia in laboratory mice or rats. This is why California recently required foods containing caramel color to be labeled as potential cancer-causing agents.
  • Sodium benzoate / benzoic acid are used to prevent the growth of microorganisms in acidic foods. When consumed in conjunction with beverages with ascorbic acid (vitamin C), a chemical reaction creates small amount of benzene, a carcinogen.
We could go on about the MSG-like additives, glycerides, and high fructose corn syrup, but we think you get the picture.
A few more “fun facts”, beyond the 540 calories (before fries and soft drink):
  • 10 grams of saturated fat – which is 50% of the daily maximum allowance
  • 1.5 grams of trans-fat – Nutrition experts recommend a daily allowance of zero
  • 1040 mg of sodium – close to half of the daily maximum

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Science Says Meditation Improves Both Health and Performance

Doug Dupont http://breakingmuscle.com


One of the ways I have helped many athletes is by teaching them to stimulate their relaxation response through techniques like meditation. After training combat athletes for years, I found that many of them had a lot of stress and anxiety. Go figure. Fighters get stressed out, and they need help to rein it in.

The relaxation response is the exact opposite of the stress response, sometimes called fight-or-flight. While I employ methods that stimulate the relaxation response in athletes because I know them to be effective, I can’t say I ever knew the science behind it until now. In fact, until a recent PLoS ONE study I’m not sure there was any study examining which genes were affected by meditation.

In this new study, researchers looked at people with at least four years of experience mediating and also meditation newbies. The experienced group was allowed to meditate using their own preferred methods, where the inexperienced group was trained in meditation for eight weeks. The researchers then studied the genes expressed by each group to find which pathways were stimulated by meditation and how it affected each group.

The researchers discovered a substantial array of potential benefits. The genes activated were mostly energy and stress related. It seems as though meditation helps to protect mitochondria, the energy producing parts of our cells, against stress. Meditation also improved insulin function and increased the production of ATPase, an enzyme primarily responsible for producing the building block molecules of energy in our body.

Interestingly, these benefits were produced in each participant, no matter their experience level, but those with greater experience had especially strong results. This would indicate that practicing the skills associated with meditative practices does actually improve the benefits. While I’ve seen this in athletes I train, it’s cool to see it on paper too. Meditation is a skill just like any other, and you can be better at it.

It’s plain for anyone to see that meditation has important effects on relaxation, and so also benefits sleep. It’s an important part of the daily process for athletes I have trained for this reason alone. Meditation aids with sleep by mitigating stress, particularly physical stress through consciously reducing psychological stress. With a lot of meditative practice, it could also help to calm excitable athletes before competition.

According to this study, it seems the obvious benefits to stress reduction aren’t all we have to look forward to. Apparently meditation also improves energy production and utilization. This is a double whammy for athletes. Less stress (read: better recovery) and more energy both mean better quality workouts and competitions. Over the long term you won’t find a cheaper and simpler athletic booster.

Meditation can be done anytime and anywhere, and you don’t even need to make time in your day for it. If you haven’t gotten on this bandwagon yet, today is the day.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How to Manage 100 Trillion Bacteria in Your Gut

http://www.coachjayjohnson.com/


idn’t have the time to read Michael Pollan’s weekend piece for the New York Times Magazine, you missed out on a fantastic overview of the emerging science of the human microbiome. Each time you eat or drink, you are not just feeding yourself, you are also feeding hundreds or thousands of varieties of germs that line your intestines.
Scientists are just beginning to understand some of the inter-dependencies between what we eat, how the bacteria break that down, and various health outcomes. Could diabetes, obesity, and allergies be tied to the bugs in our colon?
The answer is that potentially yes. The American Gut Project is mapping the biome of people’s guts across the country in order to assess the different species of bacteria that exist. You can donate $99 and get your gut mapped too. When comparing the standard American gut to that of indigenous populations in remote locations that have yet to be westernized, we have a much smaller diversity in bacteria than people living closer to nature. Could the diversity in their gut be the reason they rarely get sick, have allergies or get diabetes?
One of the interesting parts of the article talks about how the sterilized fortified food we eat in America is killing the diversity in our gut:
“Fiber is not a single nutrient…which is why fiber supplements are no magic bullet. There are hundreds of different polysaccharides — complex carbohydrates, including fiber — in plants, and different microbes like to chomp on different ones. To boost fiber, the food industry added lots of a polysaccharide called inulin to hundreds of products, but that’s just one kind (often derived from the chicory-plant root) and so may only favor a limited number of microbes. I was hearing instead an argument for a variety of whole grains and a diverse diet of plants and vegetables as well as fruits. The safest way to increase your microbial biodiversity is to eat a variety of polysaccharides…”
What other nutrients are we starving our friendly neighborhood gut bacteria out of by eating the uber processed American diet? If you want you gut to take care of you, you need to take care of it. More whole foods. More vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Add fermented foods too. Eat less processed foods with ingredients that may cause damage to the gut lining.
If you or your children had a Tamaguchi pet in the 90′s, or Neopets online, or the mobile phone equivalent these days, think of your gut as the pet you never had, and treat it right.

Read More

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A workout a day may keep cancer away

By Matt Sloane, CNN --

Less cancer treatment may be better, and being in good physical shape may help keep cancer away, according to the latest research being presented at the largest convergence of cancer experts worldwide.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology meets at the end of the month in Chicago. A briefing was held Wednesday for journalists covering the meeting. Here are some highlights from studies being presented:
Exercise may keep cancer away
Getting into shape may help you ward off cancer -- or boost your survival chances if you are diagnosed, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Vermont studied more than 17,000 men for close to 20 years. They found those who exercised the most were 68% less likely to develop lung cancer and 38% less likely to develop colorectal cancers than the least active men.

Among those men who did develop either of those two cancers or prostate cancer, exercise helped reduce the risk of death by 14% for each incremental increase in fitness level.

Boosting your immune system to fight cancer
Among the other six studies highlighted, two looked at new approaches in immunotherapy treatments -- drugs that train the immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells.
One study found that a new antibody, known only as MPDL3280A, shrank tumors in 21% of the patients studied, all of whom were suffering from melanoma, lung or kidney cancers.
The drug was well-tolerated at all dose levels by the majority of patients, and reports of serious adverse reactions were infrequent, officials said.
Researchers presented results from the first phase of a clinical trial of MPDL3280A. The purpose of these initial trials is to establish the safety and dosage guidelines for an investigational drug. If it's found to be safe, as in this case, it must be tested in much bigger trials with many more people. So far, the early results are promising, according to researchers.
The second study found that the combination of two immunotherapy drugs -- Yervoy and Nivolumab -- can help shrink melanoma tumors.
More than half of study participants saw their tumors shrink by more than half, and nearly a third saw their tumors shrink by 80%, just in the first 12 weeks of treatment, according to the study author.
Before Yervoy received Food and Drug Administration approval two years ago, patients with melanoma -- the deadliest form of skin cancer -- had no real treatment options. Nivolumab still needs FDA approval.
Researchers have known that at some point, cancer cells figure out how to circumvent Yervoy and tumors start to grow again, but this study suggests that a combination of these drugs can lengthen the benefit of Yervoy.
"After years of not having success in immunotherapy, we now have two (different studies) showing significant progress," said Dr. Sandra Swain, president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. "With these two therapies, we're seeing very rapid, profound and long-lasting tumor shrinkage, which is something that hasn't been seen before with immunotherapies."

Less is more
Three additional studies presented in the Wednesday briefing examined existing therapies for various cancers and which ones were the most effective.
The first, from Washington University in St. Louis, found that a 25% stronger dose of radiation used to treat patients with one type of lung cancer were more dangerous for the patients -- and less effective in treating the disease.
The study, of patients with non-small cell lung cancer who were also receiving chemotherapy, showed an increase in "local failure," meaning cancer cells at the radiation site either weren't killed or began growing.
"Many doctors expected that using a higher dose of radiation would mean better outcomes for patients, so this was a surprising result," Swain said. "This study should put an end to discussions about higher dose treatments."
A second study looked at the efficacy of post-surgery chemotherapy and radiation for patients with seminoma, a common type of testicular cancer, versus follow-up monitoring of the patients.
Researchers looked at 1,800 patients with stage 1 seminoma in Denmark, where the typical post-surgery treatment protocol calls for regular clinic visits, CT scans, X-rays and blood work -- not chemo or radiation. However, many U.S. treatment centers do use chemo and radiation as part of post-surgery treatment.
More than 80% of patients did not relapse after surgery, the study found, eliminating the need for follow-up chemotherapy or radiation. In those who did relapse, follow-up treatment led to a 99.5% survival rate.
"In this study, we see that surveillance alone was safe," said Dr. Clifford Hudis, president-elect of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
The final study looked at whether patients with a particular form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma should have regular CT scans to detect relapses after they finish treatment. The study showed most relapses weren't detected by the scans, but by patients' complaints of symptoms, routine physical exams or blood work.
"We can spare patients from the cost and excessive radiation from follow-up CT scans," Hudis said.
The final study looked at a new class of drugs called PI3K delta inhibitors, being tested in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
The specific drug tested in the trial -- Idelalisib -- was shown in a first phase of study to be safe in high-risk populations, and to help reduce the size of affected lymph nodes for long periods of time. It may soon lead to alternatives to chemo for slow-growing blood cancers, Swain said.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Healthier Computer? Less eye-strain and better sleep

http://www.danielvitalis.com


F.lux is a free app for your computer that adjusts the light from your screen to match the natural light rhythms of the sun wherever you are! This equates to less eye strain, less headaches, and a richer nights sleep!
For years now I have been hoping for a new trend in technology, one that is a movement towards bio-friendly machines rather than the modus operandi of our existing tech industry, which always seems to develop devices that are incompatible with human health. As more and more evidence piles up indicating that the machines we are living around – and the frequencies they use to communicate – are toxic to our biology, one has to wonder why we have not developed machines that use healthier – if not even healing – frequencies. I digress….
Does Your Computer Give You Headaches?
Ever notice that the light coming from our computers has a noticeably bright blue hue to it? This is particularly noticeable when someone is using a computer in a dark room. Have you noticed that long sessions on your machine can lead to headaches, eye-fatigue, and even trouble getting to sleep afterwards?
Enter f.lux! 
f.lux is a free app that calibrates the brightness and color of your computer screen to the current natural sunlight in the area where you are!  This means the light coming from your monitor is more like the light that you would experience outside.
Why should I consider using it?

 

A Healthier Computer? Less eye-strain and better sleep with this free app!

f.lux is a free app for your computer that adjusts the light from your screen to match the natural light rhythms of the sun wherever you are! This equates to less eye strain, less headaches, and a richer nights sleep!
For years now I have been hoping for a new trend in technology, one that is a movement towards bio-friendly machines rather than the modus operandi of our existing tech industry, which always seems to develop devices that are incompatible with human health. As more and more evidence piles up indicating that the machines we are living around – and the frequencies they use to communicate – are toxic to our biology, one has to wonder why we have not developed machines that use healthier – if not even healing – frequencies. I digress….
Does Your Computer Give You Headaches?
Ever notice that the light coming from our computers has a noticeably bright blue hue to it? This is particularly noticeable when someone is using a computer in a dark room. Have you noticed that long sessions on your machine can lead to headaches, eye-fatigue, and even trouble getting to sleep afterwards?
Enter f.lux! 
f.lux is a free app that calibrates the brightness and color of your computer screen to the current natural sunlight in the area where you are!  This means the light coming from your monitor is more like the light that you would experience outside.
Why should I consider using it?
Research has indicated that visible light in the blue end of the spectrum is quite stimulating for us – perhaps because it suppresses our melatonin production – which makes sense as this is the dominant color band of sunlight reaching earth in the morning when the sun rises, and throughout the midday.  As the late afternoon and evening descend, the color and quality of light shifts towards the red end of the spectrum, which relaxes us, and naturally prepares us for rest and sleep.
Our computer screens are default-set to emit light in bright blue wavelengths, which simulate sunlight from the early part of the day. For me, this hasn’t been much of an issue in the morning or midday, but after the sun gets low in the sky I notice that it starts to give me a headache, makes my eyes feel uncomfortably strained, and interferes with my sleep.
How Does f.lux Work?

f.lux allows me to shift the color of light coming from my machine from the bright blue of early day to a range of warm orange hues that I find far more relaxing, not to mention far less invasive in my home – or what I like to call my “human habitat”. I can customize the brightness of this gentler hue from something that resembles a tungsten lamp down to something more akin to candle light. These options are all found in the f.lux preferences.
You can liken the use of f.lux to the differences between an incandescent tungsten lamp and a fluorescent tube. I have always found the stark white light from fluorescence tubes – including the newer “energy savers” – particularly irritating to my eyes and mood, and found the soft orange hue of tungsten lamps far more soothing. When f.lux is active on my computer, the light that it emits resembles the light coming from a low wattage tungsten bulb. In other words, it feels like another lamp, or if I set it low enough, almost like a candle.
Helpful Hint: After installed f.lux, I noticed a f.lux icon in the upper righthand area of my computer screen – I use a Macbook Pro – so I am not sure where the icon lives on a pc – that when clicked gives me the option to disable the app for an hour.  This is useful when I am watching a video and want to see in its true colors.
My Final Thoughts
I can’t recommend this app enough! Actually, I imagine that soon we will see all computers and handheld devices come equipped standard with this or similar software as an option.
Since using it I can report an easier transition to sleep after using my computer, and far less of the eye fatigue and headache symptoms that accompany living amongst machines!  There is a version available for iPhone and iPad, but it requires they be jailbroken first. I am hoping to see the release a more robust version for mobile devices soon.
You can find f.lux – totally free – by clicking here!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

4 Plants Every Athlete Needs in the Garden

Nicole Crawford http://breakingmuscle.com


A few months ago my husband and I decided to give our yard - or, as we called it at the time, the dustbowl - a makeover. We spent the entire weekend aerating the soil, removing rocks and gravel from the dirt, spreading fertilizer, planting grass seed, hauling mulch, and planting vegetables, herbs, and flowers. By the end of the weekend the dustbowl was on its way to becoming a yard and we were exhausted and sorer than we've been in a long time.

Since then I've thought many times that gardening is a lot like training. You put a lot of work and sweat into it, and if you're smart and dedicated, you will see results. If not you'll end up with dead plants and lots of wasted money and time. You also don't have to be the most naturally talented person in the world to have a nice garden. I've realized that just like I will never be an elite, world-class athlete, I definitely don't have the greenest thumb in the world.

 Beyond the analogous relationship between gardening and training, there's also a very real one. If you look at the supplements and other products used to treat typical athlete woes, you'll notice a lot of them originate in the dirt. Our own garden is a very practical one. We've planted a lot of our own food and most of the flowers in our yard are meant to attract pollinators and beneficial insects. We've also included a few medicinal plants, some of which have easy applications for use by athletes.
 
1. Aloe Vera 
2. Arnica 
3. Peppermint 
4. Rosemary

READ MORE 



Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Red Palm Oil

 Written by JP  http://www.healthyfellow.com

Red palm oil (RPO) has been in the news lately because of a positive expose on The Dr. Oz Show. In the segment entitled, The 13 Miracle Solutions of 2013, RPO was touted as a veritable “miracle oil” primarily because it’s a rich source of antioxidants, such as carotenoids and tocotrienols, which are a potent and rare form of Vitamin E. How might this benefit your health? According to Dr. Oz and his guest, Bryce Wylde, just two tablespoons of RPO daily reduces the risk of heart attacks and stroke by clearing away arterial plaque. They go on to claim that RPO also slows the aging process by protecting the brain from neurodegeneration and skin from damage caused UV radiation. As if that wasn’t enough, apparently RPO can also increase your calorie burning potential or metabolic rate. All this for around “$14 per jar”. What a bargain!

RPO differs from refined palm oil in that it is extracted from the fruit of the palm tree rather than the kernel of the fruit. Palm (kernel) oil is predominantly composed of saturated fat (about 80%) and has an off-white appearance. In contrast, red palm (fruit) oil is an evenly divided mixture of saturated and unsaturated fat. Carotenoids, richly pigmented antioxidants found in many fruits and vegetables, provide the orange-reddish hue found in the flesh of the palm fruit and resulting oil.

In order to evaluate the assertions made on The Dr. Oz Show, I examined the latest studies published in the scientific literature. On the positive side of the spectrum, red palm oil is an abundant source of beta carotene or pro-vitamin A and, therefore, effectively addresses vitamin A deficiency. RPO also appears to mitigate heart disease progression and stroke damage according to several animal trials. What’s less impressive is RPO’s limited track record in studies involving human subjects. In human trials, RPO hasn’t shown much promise in the management of cardiovascular risk factors or health promotion in general. Rather, it seems to be comparable, at best, to other dietary fats such as olive oil. In addition, much of the positive press attributed to RPO is based on preliminary research using palm tocotrienol supplements. In my opinion, this is a distortion of the data. RPO does, in fact, contain tocotrienols. But, the amount of tocotrienols naturally found in RPO is much smaller than the quantity present in concentrated palm tocotrienol supplements used in the clinical trials.

Here’s my bottom line: If you want to improve your vitamin A status, I suggest eating more bell peppers, butternut squash, kale, pumpkin and spinach instead of taking RPO. These are better, more nutritious sources of beta carotene. If you’re interested in the promise of tocotrienol therapy, which has some basis in the medical literature, opt for concentrated palm tocotrienol supplements – instead of RPO. Lastly, prior to buying red palm oil or palm tocotrienols, inquire about the sustainability practices involved in the production of the oil and supplements in question. Commercial palm fruit cultivation can be devastating to the environment and surrounding communities. Some reputable manufacturers, such as Carotech, have taken steps to ensure they aren’t part of the sometimes destructive process of growing and harvesting palm fruit. As always, buyer beware.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Morning Heart Rate and "Functional" Overtraining


There's an interesting article just published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise on "evidence of parasympathetic hyperactivity" as a marker of overtraining. It has some interesting insights on the causes and underlying physiology of pushing too hard -- but what I'm going to highlight here is some potentially practical findings.

The basics: French researchers took a bunch of well-trained triathletes and divided them into two groups. Both groups spent one week doing regular training; then for the next three weeks, the control group continued regular training, while the other group ramped up their training by 40%; then both groups tapered for a week before a final performance test. The goal here was to push them into "functional overreaching" -- the kind of temporary overtraining that leads to worsening performance but then can be reversed with a short period of rest (as opposed to chronic overtraining that takes much longer to dissipate).

Each morning, when the subjects woke up, they took four minutes of heart-rate data before getting up for the first time, and then another four minute of data after standing up. The heart-rate data included simple measures like average heart rate, as well as more sophisticated analysis of heart-rate variability -- the amount that the time between heart-beats fluctuates, which is considered a sensitive measure of autonomic nervous system function. (They also did a bunch of other tests, but I'll focus on these ones.)
Here's the data showing supine morning heart rate every seventh day (i.e. the week before the overtraining period, three overtraining weeks, and after one week of taper); the closed circles are the overtraining group and the open circles are the controls


Now we're talking! After smoothing out the day-to-day fluctuations, we see that the control group stays fairly constant throughout the experiment, while the overtraining group declines steadily during the overtraining period and then recovers a bit after the taper. This is useful information (and precisely what they expected, relecting increased parasympathetic drive). It's mirrored in a number of other measurements -- standing-up HR, HR at lactate threshold, HR at exhaustion, as well as some of the HRV values. The key finding (echoing some earlier HRV studies) is that day-to-day measurements are simply too variable to extract reliable information from -- but weekly averages can reliably show significant trends that reveal how your body is responding to the training load.
One other interesting point worth considering. Here are the results of the run-to-exhaustion performance tests they performed at the end of each week:


Once again, the normal training group doesn't change much -- maybe a slight boost after the taper. The overtraining group, as expected, gets steadily worse as the three-week overtraining period goes on... but then, after the taper, they supercompensate and produce by far the best results of the study. It's a reminder of why "overtraining" is such a difficult beast to get a handle on: this sort of "functional overreaching" is indeed very functional, and is precisely the high-risk state you want to push experienced athletes into at certain points in the season. Push too hard, and they'll keep getting worse. But get the balance just right, and you'll get results like those shown above -- because in the end, very hard training really works.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Saturday, May 18, 2013

SmartyPants Gummy Vitamins for Adults. Seriously?

from http://blog.fooducate.com

First there came the gummy bear candy that kids loved so much. Then came the gummy bear multivitamin for kids. And now, a gummy multivitamin for adults. Because, you know, we don’t eat healthy enough.
We’ve been approached several times by the SmartyPants PR firm to write about their product, and recently noticed many esteemed members of the nutrition community write about this product as well. The PR firm is certainly earning its retainer.
So what’s so special about this product?
  • It’s novel – they combined the fun of a gummy bear with the multivitamin content for an adult
  • It’s got all the buzzword nutrients wrapped into one (actually six) gummy droplets – multivitamin, omega 3, and vitamin D
  • No bad ingredients that some other supplements have such as HFCS or artificial colors
  • Gluten free and eco-friendly (omega 3 sourced from sardines, not tuna or salmon)
All the above are great, once you’ve decided to take a multivitamin.

But should you?

Probably not.

You see, nutrients are best absorbed by the body when they come in their natural package – leafy greens, fresh glass of milk, a salmon steak, or fresh berries. The fact that a multivitamin contains over 100% of your daily value of a nutrient does not guarantee your body will absorb those nutrients completely.
So why is the supplement industry raking in billions of dollars in revenue every year? For the same reason the insurance industry is – fear. People are scared that they are not eating healthy, that their bodies are not getting enough ____________ (fill in the blank). A multivitamin is like an insurance policy for my health, you may say.
A daily dose of Smartypants will cost you about one dollar. $7 a week. If you’re a couple – $14 a week. How many more fruits and vegetables can you buy with $14?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Neuromuscular Component To Speed Work

  • By Caitlin Chock
Did you know that becoming a faster runner involves working your nervous system?If you want to get faster, there’s more to it than just trying to run faster. Without your synapses and nerves being conditioned to fire at a quicker rate, you’ll never be able to employ those stronger, more powerful muscles. Your legs need to be told to turn over by the brain.
Developing your neuromuscular reaction time involves working on your reactivity. This kind of work is done with drills, footwork ladders and foot-firing exercises. The premise is to condition your feet to snap off the group faster so you’re spending less time on the ground. That translates to faster times.
In tandem with speed intervals, reactivity drills will prove their worth rather quickly.

“Typical time-course for moving the needle on speed can be as little as a few weeks, where noted changes in stride length can be seen,” said Lance Walker, the director of performance at Michael Johnson Performance labs. “Stride frequency and overall running performances can take longer to show major change, but micro-level improvements should be noted within the first month of an effective speed program.”

Precision First

Walker said he’d prefer that people not do any of these drills over doing them wrong because the latter reinforces bad habits. Aim for precision over quantity.
For runners drawn to the sport because of their gawky nature, drills and footwork may leave them feeling out of their element.

“At first it felt very awkward to do these types of drills and intervals, but I was determined to practice and learn the skill,” said Morgan Gonzales of the Saucony Hurricane Team. She avoided frustration by adjusting her perspective. “So often in distance running we focus on getting fitter, but I thought it was fun to switch my mindset to learning a new skill set.”

Between last season and this season, Gonzales lowered her 1500m PR from 4:47 to 4:38. Remarkably, she did so in her opening race of the year.
RELATED: What Distance Runners Can Learn From Sprinters

Taxing The Nervous System

It’s important to realize how taxing this work is on the body. Don’t balk at the fewer repetitions or distances; in order for this to work, the key is not to overload the central and peripheral nervous systems.
Similarly, it’s crucial to do this work in a rather fresh state. Don’t just tack some strides and agility drills at the end of your tempo drills; you need to think in the reverse. On your day dedicated to true speed work, your prime focus is on running as fast as possible with a nearly full recovery. Same goes for when you do your reactivity drills — aim for precision and take as much time to recover as you need. If you need to add extra miles, do it after all of this work has taken place.

Footwork Drills

“One of our favorites is box tappings,” Walker said. “This drill was probably stolen from some of our soccer athletes, who were actually doing the drill for footwork quickness on, or around, the ball.”
- Box Taps: Standing 6-12 inches behind a box or riser (4-6 inches high), bend slightly forward (10-15 degrees at the ankle), and alternate tapping the box with the balls of your feet. Work on proper positioning (center-of-mass over box, dorsiflexion of ankle, long spine angle, and reciprocating arms) before trying to increase frequency. “Use this in buildups of 10-40 seconds, resting five times as long as the set to ensure you are working for speed and not endurance,” Walker said. Perform twice a week. Check your progress by counting taps every third week.
- Ladder drills: Move through the ladder by firing both feet into each rung, doing two sets. Then move to single-leg drills by passing through while firing only your left foot, keeping the right foot outside the ladder. Repeat with right foot firing. Once you’ve mastered this, start adding accelerations coming out of the ladder.
- Starts And Sprints: “I practiced my reaction time and race starts with repeats as short as 50 meters; this taught my muscles and my brain to fire and react more quickly, as opposed to just running faster,” Gonzales said. Repeats below 50 meters work too, as Walker is a fan of fly-in 20’s.
RELATED: Speed Training For Beginners

Program Implementation

Tell a distance runner to reduce their interval lengths and you may get a balking response. However, if you want to run faster for your 5Ks and beyond, you have to start thinking of working from the bottom up. Increasing speed makes your eventual race paces feel relatively easier and will allow you to dig into that second gear to accelerate at the end.
Walker prescribes a “tier-conjugated” system. “This incorporates elements of speed, power, strength, stamina, and corrective training all in a weekly plan,” he said.
This system places your speed and power-focused workout in the beginning, “when the central and peripheral nervous system is freshest and most recovered,” Walker added. The next days are recovery, strength training and endurance/tempo work. The mini-cycle would then repeat with your next speed-focused workout.
Walker advises runners just starting or who require longer recovery between workouts to extend their training week to 10-days.
“The key is to keep the body ‘stimulated’ every 72-hours with some form of speed training stimulus,” he said.
You still need to do those 200s, 400s, and even shorter sprints to get faster, but in order to truly reap the rewards of speed work and increased power you need to train the nervous system to keep pace.

The Neuromuscular Component To Speed Work


  • By Caitlin Chock
Did you know that becoming a faster runner involves working your nervous system?If you want to get faster, there’s more to it than just trying to run faster. Without your synapses and nerves being conditioned to fire at a quicker rate, you’ll never be able to employ those stronger, more powerful muscles. Your legs need to be told to turn over by the brain.

Developing your neuromuscular reaction time involves working on your reactivity. This kind of work is done with drills, footwork ladders and foot-firing exercises. The premise is to condition your feet to snap off the group faster so you’re spending less time on the ground. That translates to faster times.
In tandem with speed intervals, reactivity drills will prove their worth rather quickly.

“Typical time-course for moving the needle on speed can be as little as a few weeks, where noted changes in stride length can be seen,” said Lance Walker, the director of performance at Michael Johnson Performance labs. “Stride frequency and overall running performances can take longer to show major change, but micro-level improvements should be noted within the first month of an effective speed program.”

Precision First

Walker said he’d prefer that people not do any of these drills over doing them wrong because the latter reinforces bad habits. Aim for precision over quantity.
For runners drawn to the sport because of their gawky nature, drills and footwork may leave them feeling out of their element.

“At first it felt very awkward to do these types of drills and intervals, but I was determined to practice and learn the skill,” said Morgan Gonzales of the Saucony Hurricane Team. She avoided frustration by adjusting her perspective. “So often in distance running we focus on getting fitter, but I thought it was fun to switch my mindset to learning a new skill set.”

Between last season and this season, Gonzales lowered her 1500m PR from 4:47 to 4:38. Remarkably, she did so in her opening race of the year.
RELATED: What Distance Runners Can Learn From Sprinters

Taxing The Nervous System

It’s important to realize how taxing this work is on the body. Don’t balk at the fewer repetitions or distances; in order for this to work, the key is not to overload the central and peripheral nervous systems.
Similarly, it’s crucial to do this work in a rather fresh state. Don’t just tack some strides and agility drills at the end of your tempo drills; you need to think in the reverse. On your day dedicated to true speed work, your prime focus is on running as fast as possible with a nearly full recovery. Same goes for when you do your reactivity drills — aim for precision and take as much time to recover as you need. If you need to add extra miles, do it after all of this work has taken place.

Footwork Drills

“One of our favorites is box tappings,” Walker said. “This drill was probably stolen from some of our soccer athletes, who were actually doing the drill for footwork quickness on, or around, the ball.”
- Box Taps: Standing 6-12 inches behind a box or riser (4-6 inches high), bend slightly forward (10-15 degrees at the ankle), and alternate tapping the box with the balls of your feet. Work on proper positioning (center-of-mass over box, dorsiflexion of ankle, long spine angle, and reciprocating arms) before trying to increase frequency. “Use this in buildups of 10-40 seconds, resting five times as long as the set to ensure you are working for speed and not endurance,” Walker said. Perform twice a week. Check your progress by counting taps every third week.
- Ladder drills: Move through the ladder by firing both feet into each rung, doing two sets. Then move to single-leg drills by passing through while firing only your left foot, keeping the right foot outside the ladder. Repeat with right foot firing. Once you’ve mastered this, start adding accelerations coming out of the ladder.
- Starts And Sprints: “I practiced my reaction time and race starts with repeats as short as 50 meters; this taught my muscles and my brain to fire and react more quickly, as opposed to just running faster,” Gonzales said. Repeats below 50 meters work too, as Walker is a fan of fly-in 20’s.
RELATED: Speed Training For Beginners

Program Implementation

Tell a distance runner to reduce their interval lengths and you may get a balking response. However, if you want to run faster for your 5Ks and beyond, you have to start thinking of working from the bottom up. Increasing speed makes your eventual race paces feel relatively easier and will allow you to dig into that second gear to accelerate at the end.
Walker prescribes a “tier-conjugated” system. “This incorporates elements of speed, power, strength, stamina, and corrective training all in a weekly plan,” he said.
This system places your speed and power-focused workout in the beginning, “when the central and peripheral nervous system is freshest and most recovered,” Walker added. The next days are recovery, strength training and endurance/tempo work. The mini-cycle would then repeat with your next speed-focused workout.
Walker advises runners just starting or who require longer recovery between workouts to extend their training week to 10-days.
“The key is to keep the body ‘stimulated’ every 72-hours with some form of speed training stimulus,” he said.
You still need to do those 200s, 400s, and even shorter sprints to get faster, but in order to truly reap the rewards of speed work and increased power you need to train the nervous system to keep pace.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Are Eggs Good for You? 30 Reasons to Eat Eggs

from http://www.healthextremist.com



Eggs have gotten a bad rap in the past and unfortunately, many today still believe the wide spread misinformation.
Are eggs good for you? Do they cause heart disease? Do they raise cholesterol? Should I avoid them?
Depending on who you ask, you may get very different answers to these questions. Many traditional doctors still would answer that eggs increase  cholesterol and should be avoided. Some are adamant that only the egg white should be used because of the cholesterol in the yolk. Even when trying to research this topic, some articles still push the idea that eggs are harmful and in order to prevent health problems, one should avoid them.
I have to admit that I once believed the propaganda spread in the media and by drug pushing corporations. It wasn’t until I first began seeing a naturopath that I heard that eggs are good for you and the doctors are the ones who have it wrong. Sure, the first time my naturopath said that, I thought he must be crazy, how could doctors be wrong? Sadly, they are and not just about eggs.
Eggs are actually a super-food, they are packed with nutrients vitamins and health benefits!

But don’t eggs raise your cholesterol?

One of the main reasons eggs are avoided is due to fear of them increasing cholesterol. However, several studies have shown that not only do eggs not raise LDL cholesterol, but lower it. According to a recent study, those consuming 3 eggs per day over 12 weeks were found to have lower LDL cholesterol and raised  HDL. Another study showed that those who consumed 4 or more eggs per week had lower cholesterol than those who only ate one egg per week.

READ MORE

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Another Dreadful Low-Fat Product


from http://www.dietdoctor.com/


Now I’m back in Sweden again, with good access to the internet, after three weeks of travelling in America. Thus there’ll be more regular updates again.
Here’s a quick example of how bad low-fat products can be for your health. It’s nothing new, but even worse than what I’ve seen back home.
Here’s yogurt served at breakfast on the cruise last week. Notice that all of them except the plain one have the words “low fat” on the top. It sounds healthy – but it’s not. Have a look:

The low-fat yogurt contains almost no fat. Instead it’s filled with sugar and modified starch, rapidly absorbed bad carbs. And not a little: 22 grams per 113 gram serving.
About 70 percent of the energy in the yogurt is pure sugar. And it’s very noticable: it tastes like eating candy for breakfast.
The reality is that the manufacturers have removed 2 grams of fat from the container of yogurt. Then they’ve added about 15 grams of sugar, seven times more, and they sell it implying that it’s healthy for you.
Is anyone surprised that there are three times more obese Americans today, compared to when the fat of fear took hold back in the 1980′s?
Earlier about failed low-fat diets

Monday, May 13, 2013

The 20-Rep Squat Routine: Old School Strength Training

Tom Kelso
http://breakingmuscle.com


For all neophytes who have no clue how to train hard, I suggest you heed some practical lore from the past. Back in the day when they had no sophisticated equipment, no Internet recommendations, and no super-duper nutritional supplements, those who sought to get stronger and grow muscle had to bust their butts with plain old hard work to achieve strength and size gains. They had only the basic means of stimulating muscle tissue - known as barbells and dumbbells - and the smarts to allow for proper rest and recovery following their training.

Surprise! They achieved results. And it still works today in this information-overload environment in which we reside. But the simplicity of hard work has either been blurred or completely lost from all the fancy stuff that pervades our current training culture. So, if it still works, why don't you try "old school" and give it a go? Working hard is still the way to go, no matter how you slice it.

With credit given to Randall Strossen outlining John McCallum's 20-rep squat routine in his book Super Squats, let me tell you about a simple but very difficult program for increasing lower body strength and facilitating weight gain. The 20-rep barbell squat routine. It works. It truly does. But it is brutally difficult.

It goes like this:

Train your lower body twice per week. One session is the 20-rep squat routine and the other is something different like deadlifts, leg presses, or whatever blows your skirt up.

For the 20-rep assault, select a resistance that you would normally use for a tough set of 12 repetitions. With that resistance, perform 20 repetitions. Yes, it's going to be challenging but find a way to squeeze out 8 more reps to get to the 20-rep goal. You can do it if you focus on the task at hand. Hang in there. Catch your breath between reps. Concentrate on getting one rep at a time.

Once you achieve 20 repetitions, it's mission accomplished.

Now that you have gutted it out to achieve the 20-rep goal, rejoice in the moment, and then it's time to move forward. It's now time to do more. Given proper recovery time, your body will have adapted to the previous 20-rep overload stress and can now tolerate more. It is the biological phenomena called the principle of recovery-adaptation. You did it, your body adapted to it, now you are physically able to do even more.

For the next 20-rep squat workout add at least five pounds to the bar (10 pounds maximum). Your goal again is 20-repetitions. You're stronger as a result of the previous 20-rep "death march," so you are capable of achieving 20-repetitions with slightly more resistance.

If you attack it with all-out effort you'll accomplish it. Remember, you only added a few more pounds from the previous successful session so be confident you will achieve the 20-rep goal. Yes, it will be physically and mentally disgusting, but if you want to improve you'll find a way to get it done.

Why am I so confident you can do this? I did it back in the day. In the summer of 1990 at a body weight of 185 pounds, I took the 20-rep squat challenge.

My initial squat session was a demanding (for me) 245 pounds for 20 repetitions a la NO-NO-NO (no belt, no wraps, and no lifting suit). It was simply body against the resistance with zero help from supporting equipment, but I did it.

Each week I added ten pounds to the bar and achieved 20 reps as follows:

  • Week 2 = 255 x 20 (ouch!)
  • Week 3 = 265 x 20 (yikes!)
  • Week 4 = 275 x 20 (ugh!)
  • Week 5 = 285 x 20 (yowza!)
  • Week 6 = 295 x 20 (!%$@*!)
  • Week 7 = 305 x 16 (I couldn't go further. I was done!)

The inevitable wall was hit and so it will be for you, too. Eventually you will reach a point where you cannot keep progressing. At that point you will have pushed it to the limit both physically and mentally. But savor the moment because you obviously moved up. In my case, I went from 245 pounds x 20 reps to 295 pounds x 20 reps. For me - being a genetic trash bag - that was outstanding progress.

If you have the intestinal fortitude to attempt a new challenge to for the purpose of improving your strength and/or weight gain, try the 20-rep squat routine. Understand it will be both physically and mentally demanding, yet it will be simple to implement.

The 20-rep squat routine in review:
  1. Train the lower body twice per week, once with the 20-rep barbell squat routine and the other with something without squats.
  2. With the 20-rep squat routine, perform the first workout with a resistance that normally challenges you for 12 repetitions. Get 20 reps.
  3. For each succeeding 20-rep squat workout add five to 10 pounds on the bar and find a way to accomplish 20 reps.
  4. Make sure you are completely recovered prior to attempting the 20-rep workout. It will take everything you have to achieve the 20-rep goal.
  5. When you inevitably hit the wall and are unable to achieve 20 reps after weeks of progressive training, at that point you should have made exceptional progress and achieved measurable results.

The 20-rep squat routine is a time-proven means of becoming stronger and larger (all other factors being equal). It should be used sparingly because it is extremely demanding. Old school works if you are willing to work.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Friday, May 10, 2013

Eat These Top Five Superior Foods For A Healthier, Leaner Body

From  http://www.charlespoliquin.com
Eat these foods for a healthier, leaner body (they are affordable!). You can call ‘em superior foods, superfoods, or staples, but whatever the term, coconut oil, avocado, eggs, cocoa, and kimchi are all foods that have been linked to a optimal leanness, muscularity, and health. Check it out:
#1: Coconut oil
Coconut oil is abundant in a medium chain fatty acid that appears to protect your brain, manage blood sugar, and improve energy use in the body so you lose fat. Truly! Coconut oil doesn’t enter the cholesterol cycle, so the fat it contains won’t be deposited in fat cells.
There’s proof: A recent study of folks from Malaysia where the coconut is native found that having them eat 30 ml of coconut oil three times a day for a month led them to lose about a pound of body fat and trim their waistlines a measureable amount.
#2: Avocado
Called an “anti-obesity” food by scientists, the avocado is jam-packed with nutrients and antioxidants, and although it is rich in monounsaturated fats, studies suggest eating avocado regularly will keep you from getting fat. This is all for naught if your diet is poor, but in a typical high-protein, low-carb diet, avocados will improve your body and health.
The research is strong: Analysis of the diets of 17,567 Americans showed that those who ate more avocados had significantly lower body weight and waist circumference and a 50 percent lower risk of metabolic syndrome. And these weren’t Paleo-eaters either—impressive, no?
#3: Eggs
A perfect protein source, eggs provide a nice dose of choline, which helps with liver detoxification. This is one reason eggs have been a staple in the diets of bodybuilders for years—a clean liver means the body eliminates toxins better, supporting optimal body composition. Don’t shy away from eating them daily. Recent research shows three eggs a day will IMPROVE cholesterol, decrease inflammation, and manage blood sugar.
#4: Cocoa
You’ve heard about the benefits of dark chocolate for the heart due to it being antioxidant-rich and the happy news is that it really is that good for you. Not only will cocoa, from which chocolate is derived, support cardiovascular health, it improves insulin signaling and association studies show a higher dark chocolate intake is linked with a leaner physique. Opt for a chocolate that has over 72 percent cocoa solids—the darker the better—without added sugar. Do not eat chocolate that contains dairy, as it blocks the activity of its powerful anti-oxidants.
#5: Kimchi
Perhaps not as delicious as chocolate, kimchi is a fermented Korean cabbage dish that improves gut health and insulin sensitivity. A recent study showed that overweight subjects who ate 100 grams of kimchi at every meal for 4 weeks produced significant fat loss and decreased body fat by 1.5 percent. Blood pressure was lower and blood sugar control improved by the end of the study.
Read the list of Top Ten Fat Loss Foods for more superior and delicious foods.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A multivitamin may not be the best choice, unless you choose the right one

(NaturalNews) A multivitamin is one of the most commonly recommended supplements today for both men and women, as well as children. This has many of us stopping regularly at our local drug store and picking up whatever may be on sale. However as the supplement industry continues to increase its sales and variety of formulations, we need to consciously consider what we are investing in. It is important to ask ourselves whether we really do need that multivitamin, and if so, what kind.

Clean up your lifestyle before you invest

The first thing to put into action before relying on an external solution is to clean up the internal environment. One of the first places to start is by enhancing one's diet. The best vitamins and minerals come from real, natural, whole food. The most nutrient dense foods are plant foods, especially organic fruits and vegetables in their raw form.

It is equally important to also consider what we are putting into our system that may be depleting our vitamin and mineral stores unnaturally. Many pharmaceutical medications cause vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies. For example, birth control pills have been directly linked to depleting the body of vitamins B6, B12 and folate, as well as magnesium. Common substances like coffee, alcohol and cigarettes are also known to cause vitamin and mineral depletion in the body.

Meeting with a natural holistic practitioner like a naturopath, is a good place to start to determine whether a multivitamin is a smart addition, or whether some specific vitamin or mineral, or combination would be better suited for your individual needs. Your personal health status, age, lifestyle needs, and dietary choices need to be properly considered to determine the best choice of supplements. A multivitamin may be part of your solution, but if so, not just any multivitamin will do.

Choose quality, over quantity

Most of today's multivitamins come from synthetic sources, with numerous artificial additives like colors, flavors, sugars, chemicals and fillers. As any health conscious individual can deduce, it does seem like a rather backwards approach to be using something that takes away from our health, to improve our health.

Many people are also under the impression that a vitamin is a vitamin, meaning they are all equivalent in efficacy from our body's perspective. This has shown to be false, as our body deals best with vitamins and minerals that come from, and in their whole food form. Many synthetic vitamins and minerals are not digested or absorbed properly by the body, resulting in more stress to the body and waste of your financial resources. It is also when we use synthetic supplements that we run the risk of building up a toxic state internally, or some biochemical imbalance.

This is why multivitamins should not be taken indiscriminately, but researched before they are chosen to enhance our health. And when it comes to choosing the best multivitamin, optimal quality is key. Below are a few, simple guidelines to help you make the best choice.

First, to be most bioavailable, the multivitamin should come from whole food sources, preferably organic.

Secondly, it should be all natural and contain no artificial or synthetic ingredients.

Thirdly, it should have appropriate biodynamic quantities, minimizing any unfavorable vitamin-mineral interactions.

Finally, it would be beneficial for it to contain valuable herbs and/or phytochemical compounds that aid the synergistic action of all the ingredients, which also aids optimal absorption.

In the end, we all want our money to be put to best use, rather than go down the toilet (literally), and have our health be the best it can be!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

White Muscle Helps Keep Blood Glucose Levels Under Control

On ScienceDaily.com

Researchers in the Life Sciences Institute at the University of Michigan have challenged a long-held belief that whitening of skeletal muscle in diabetes is harmful. n fact, the white muscle that increases with resistance training, age and diabetes helps keep blood sugar in check, the researchers showed.
In addition, the insights from the molecular pathways involved in this phenomenon and identified in the study may point the way to potential drug targets for obesity and metabolic disease. “We wanted to figure out the relationship between muscle types and body metabolism, how the muscles were made, and also what kind of influence they have on diseases like type 2 diabetes,” said Jiandie Lin, Life Sciences Institute faculty member and associate professor at the U-M Medical School. Lin’s findings are scheduled to be published online April 7 in Nature Medicine. Much like poultry has light and dark meat, mammals have a range of muscles: red, white and those in between. Red muscle, which gets its color in part from mitochondria, prevails in people who engage in endurance training, such as marathon runners. White muscle dominates in the bodies of weightlifters and sprinters — people who require short, intense bursts of energy.

“Most people are in the middle and have a mix of red and white,” Lin said. When you exercise, nerves signal your muscles to contract, and the muscle needs energy. In response to a signal to lift a heavy weight, white muscles use glycogen to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP) — energy the cells can use to complete the task. While this process, called glycolysis, can produce a lot of power for a short time, the glycogen fuel soon depletes. However, if the brain tells the muscle to run a slow and steady long-distance race, the mitochondria in red muscles primarily use fat oxidation instead of glycogen breakdown to generate ATP. The supply of energy lasts much longer but doesn’t provide the burst of strength that comes from glycolysis.

People with diabetes see whitening of the mix of muscle. “For a long time, the red-to-white shift was thought to make muscle less responsive to insulin, a hormone that lowers blood sugar,” Lin said. “But this idea is far from proven. You lose red muscle when you age or develop diabetes, but is that really the culprit?”

To find out, the team set out to find a protein that drives the formation of white muscle. They sifted through microarray data sets from public databases and identified a list of candidate proteins that were prevalent in white muscle but not in red. Further studies led the team to focus on a protein called BAF60c, a sort of “zip code” mechanism that tells the cells when and how to express certain genes. The Lin team made a transgenic mouse model to increase BAF60c only in the skeletal muscle. One of the first things they noticed was that mice with more BAF60c had muscles that looked paler.
“That was a good hint that we were going in the white-muscle direction,” said lead author Zhuo-xian Meng, a research fellow in Lin’s lab. They used electron microscopy to see the abundance of mitochondria within the muscle, and confirmed that muscle from BAF60c transgenic mice had less mitochondria than the normal controls. “We saw predicted changes in molecular markers, but the ultimate test would be seeing how the mouse could run,” Lin said. If the BAF60c mice could run powerfully for short distances but tired quickly, the scientists would be able to confirm that the BAF60c pathway was a key part of the creation of white muscle. Using mouse treadmills, they compared the endurance of BAF60c mice to a control group of normal mice, and found that the BAF60c transgenic mice could only run about 60 percent of the time that the control group could before tiring.

“White muscle uses glycogen, and the transgenic mice depleted their muscles’ supplies of glycogen very quickly,” Lin said. After some follow-up experiments to figure out exactly which molecules were controlled by BAF60c, Lin and his team were confident that they had identified major players responsible for promoting white muscle formation. Now that they knew how to make more white muscle in animals, they wanted to determine whether white muscle was a deleterious or an adaptive characteristic of diabetes.

For the rest of the study, please follow this link: www.sciencedaily.com

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Biological Age and Diet

http://cfsilverspring.com

By: Colin Cooley

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that people who strength training consistently look younger than those who don’t. Although we have no control over our chronological age, our biological age is within our control. Biological age refers to the time that has passed since body cells last regenerated. When training, the body must regenerate its cells more rapidly than when idle. Depending on your activity level, six to eight months from now our bodies will have regenerated nearly 100 percent of their tissue at the cellular level. This new tissue will literally be made up of what we eat between now and then. So a diet filled with processed foods and laden with sugar and crap is not what you want to ingest.

Oh. Thats Sexy. So you mean training consistently and eating well can make me look younger?

Yes. I am. Definitively. It’s Science, folks.

Remember: The more consistently you train the faster your body will regenerate itself. Keep your body looking young and vibrant through rigorous training and smart lifestyle choices. It’s the choices you make today that will determine how gracefully you’ve aged into your 50’s, 60’s, and beyond. Choose wisely!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Coconut Oil Stops Strep Bacteria from Damaging Tooth Enamel

Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist.com



Those in the know about the astounding health benefits of coconut oil are usually well aware of the major antimicrobial effects this traditional fat has on the skin and also in the gut.

It is no wonder that coconut oil is so great to rub into a dandruff plagued scalp as it helps bring the fungus causing this scaly problem under control with no chemical laden shampoos needed.
Coconut oil is also helpful for those with candida overgrowth problems in the gut as it suppresses all manner of gut pathogens.  It is the highly beneficial medium chain saturated fat lauric acid found in coconut oil that is responsible for protection from microbial infections of all kinds when coconut oil is consumed in the diet.   Lauric acid is also produced by the human mammary gland and what is credited with protecting breastfed infants from viral, bacterial, or protozoal infections.

It is only recently, however, that the conventional medical community has finally begun to appreciate the powerful antimicrobial effect of coconut oil.


Irish researchers have reported from the Athlone Institute of Technology that coconut oil was the only oil of 3 tested (olive oil and vegetable oil being the other two) that was able to prevent Streptococcus mutans, an acid-producing bacterium that is a common inhabitant of the mouth and a major cause of tooth decay, from binding to and damaging tooth enamel.
This finding lends serious credence to the ancient Ayurvedic practice of swishing the mouth with a tablespoon of oil first thing in the morning (oil pulling) which some people report works best using coconut oil.

The coconut oil used in the study was first treated with enzymes simulating the human digestive process in order to more realistically gauge its impact in the body.
The scientists also reported the coconut oil extremely effective at attacking thrush, a yeast (fungal) infection of the mouth which is not surprising given coconut oil’s helpfulness with other skin issues like dandruff.

Lead researcher Dr. Damien Brady stated that coconut oil could prove to be an attractive alternative to chemicals in maintaining oral health.   Mouthwashes, toothpastes, and other oral products are loaded with chemical additives that can frequently irritate the sensitive tissues of the mouth.
Dr. Brady noted that not only does coconut oil work at relatively low concentrations, but with the worrisome problem of increasing antibiotic resistance, it is important to consider coconut oil a potentially novel new way to control microbial infections.

Dr. Brady and his team now plan to examine how coconut oil and Strep bacteria interface at the molecular level to determine if there are any other strains of bacteria that are inhibited in a similar fashion.  They also plan to study antibacterial activity in the gut  presumably using coconut oil and how cells lining the digestive tract can become colonized by pathogens.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Friday, May 3, 2013

What's Happening In Your Blood After a Workout

Doug Dupont
http://breakingmuscle.com

When it comes to exercise, recovery is the name of the game. Being able to recover faster, and having a better recovery routine will make or break any athlete’s long-term success. Understanding this critical component of exercise is of the utmost importance.

A variety of things occur to our body during and intense exercise. Muscle damage is one such event, and can result in the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) with which we are all familiar. This muscle damage leads to inflammation that can persist for some time, and which may be responsible for signaling various recovery mechanisms in the body. A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning went into detail about each of these processes and how long they take.

In the study, researchers subjected the participants to a workout designed to induce a need for recovery. They then tested the blood of each subject three times that same day following the exercise. They tested again a full day, two days, and three days afterward. The participants were elite cyclists who did a squat and bench workout of six sets each, and then cycled for an hour. The workout was pretty intense, probably more so than a normal workout, but within the realm of something a person might actually do.

Researchers found that strength was reduced by about 14% three hours after exercise, but had returned to normal some time between twelve and 24 hours later. Good thing for those of us doing two-a-days.

Researchers also found injury markers in the blood, indicative of the muscular damage that had been done. These took longer to return to normal than the strength, being elevated still after a full day, but returning to normal after 48 hours. The researchers did note that other studies indicated these markers typically took longer to show up and then return to normal, being as long as 72 hours after exercise.

In addition to injury, participants experienced an immune response as well. First, there were neutrophils, which are a kind of white blood cell that removes cellular debris, essentially cleaning out the blood from damaging waste post exercise. These appeared within three hours and were gone after a day. This would indicate a good window in which to keep blood flow high through massage and other recovery means. You don’t want neutrophils to hang out for too long or they may damage the cells as well.

Second to appear were the lymphocytes, which didn’t begin showing up until twelve hours and stuck it through the three days of the study. These probably helped mediate larger cellular damage, but appeared to decline in the presence of antioxidants, and the researchers suggested that recovery was more or less complete by 72 hours.

Interestingly, researchers also learned that the inflammation caused by exercise was only local to the damaged muscles, and had no systemic effect after exercise. The oxidative stress markers also seemed to be non-existent, which they attributed to these particular athletes having a greater level of health.

Ultimately it was inflammation that carried the greatest recovery time within the 72-hour window. The inflammation was ameliorated by white blood cells carried in the blood, and I would guess could be hastened by methods that improve blood flow. I’d also suggest that this study shows people may be waiting too long between working the same muscle, which seemingly needs only about three days to recover.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

How to Get Fitter, Faster and Stronger with Quality Sleep

Sleep and Performance

The effect of sleep deprivation on physical performance can’t be neatly summed up with a few tidy sentences. Sometimes it impairs performance and sometimes it has no effect at all. It really depends on what you’re measuring and what the subjects are actually doing. For endurance work, acute sleep deprivation doesn’t impair performance as much as you’d think, whereas for activities that demand greater motor control (like basketball or volleyball) or greater power output, acute sleep deprivation may have more negative effects. Let’s look at some of the studies that have been conducted.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Is heat training the new altitude?

By Alex Hutchinson
 http://www.runnersworld.com
 There was a University of Oregon study back in 2010 that had trained cyclists do 10 days of heat acclimation -- 100 minutes of exercise in the heat each day -- and saw a 5% jump in VO2max measured in cool conditions by the end of study. In other words, heat acclimation doesn't just make you better at dealing with heat; it makes you better, period. The researchers suggested that athletes could use this type of protocol just like they use altitude training camps, as a short-term intervention to improve performance. The study got quite a bit of attention, but I hadn't heard much about athletes and coaches actually adopting the idea.
It turns out there has been more research on this, and elite athletes are definitely using it. A New Zealand study published in 2012 in the European Journal of Applied Physics used elite rowers, and put them through a shorter protocol: just five days, 90 minutes per day. The rowers were in a room at 40 C and 60% humidity, and they rowed at an intensity just sufficient to keep their core temperature at a "modest" overheating level of 38.5 C. The training itself wasn't particularly hard: the goal was to overheat the rowers, not overwork them, and the 5-day acclimation period started two weeks before a major championship competition. The result: a 1.5% increase in 2,000m rowing performance.
There are a lot of different mechanisms that may be coming into play here, but I'm going to greatly simplify some of the practical takeaways as I understand them:

(1) The biggest benefit of heat acclimation may be plasma volume expansion. Just as altitude stimulates your body to produce more red blood cells, heat stress stimulates your body to produce more plasma. The result is a greater cardiac output, and higher VO2 at a given effort level. In the New Zealand study, resting plasma volume increased by 4.5%, even though the the athletes had very high plasma volume to start; in the Oregon study, plasma volume increased by 6.5%.

(2) One of the key signals that tells your body to adapt may be dehydration. So if you do the heat acclimation but are super-careful to stay hydrated, you miss out on the benefits. In the New Zealand study, the athletes were allowed 100 mL of water during the 90-minute bouts -- enough to stave of the feeling of being super-dehydrated, but not enough to stay hydrated. The benchmark some athletes are using: if you're not at least 2% dehydrated, you drank too much; 3% is good; 4% is too much. (Note: this is just for the heat acclimation sessions, not a universal rule for all training sessions!)
(3) This approach can be combined with altitude. Spend a couple of weeks up high to boost red blood cells, then a week in the heat to boost plasma volume, then maybe 7-10 days in normal conditions and you're ready to go.

The more general takeaway I draw from this is the importance of allowing your body to undergo training-induced stresses, rather than making heroic efforts to cushion your body from discomfort. That has been a theme of recent research in a variety of areas -- like nutrition (the adaptation benefits of doing some of your training with low or depleted energy stores), and recovery (the potential for things like ice-baths and antioxidants to suppress the signals that are supposed to tell your body to adapt and get stronger). This suggests to me that, in situations where safety and health aren't a concern (i.e. not ultra runs and not during heat waves!), leaving the water bottle at home may be a good call.