Monday, June 30, 2014

Four Major Age Accelerators


from http://southasianhealthsolution.org

Now that you understand the importance of DNA methylation and the health of your telomeres as a better marker for biological age, let’s discuss the four major age accelerators, a major focus of my book.  Each of these factors can be modified to slow down the aging process.

1. Poor nutrition:  Those methyl groups we discussed that influence gene expression are actually made directly from the nutrients you eat, such as folate from green vegetables.  A nutrient-rich diet with a diversity of plants, healthy proteins and high quality, healthy fats actually feed and nourish your genes which not only manifest in optimal health for you, but also allow you to pass these pristine genes to your children and grandchildren.   Most of the patients I see in my clinic are eating highly nutrient-deficient diets that are starving their genes and contributing to accelerated aging.  The other major dietary culprit behind accelerated aging is an abundance of glucose.  Excess carbohydrate intake (sugar, starches and even whole grains) can damage your proteins by binding directly to form substances called advanced glycated end products, also known appropriately as “AGEs.”  Back to our smartphone analogy, even if your genetic code is clean and has produced the right protein or “App,” excess glucose , like a bad software virus, can bind  to your protein Apps and cause them to malfunction.  So micronutrient deficiencies can disable your genes from producing the right proteins needed for optimal health, while excess glucose from too much sugar and carbohydrates can damage proteins directly.
2. Inactivity: A study done in over 2,000 identical twins who carry the same genetic material showed that the more active twins had longer, healthier telomeres than their genetically identical siblings.  The most active twins had genes that appeared 9 years younger than their inactive siblings.  So genes are not immutable and can be influenced by behaviors such as exercise, which promotes anti-aging and prevents chronic disease.
3. Stress: A 2004 study comparing the telomeres of a group of age-matched mothers with healthy children versus mothers who cared for children with a chronic illness (high chronic stress group) showed shorter, unhealthier telomeres in the mothers caring for the sick children.  Despite being the same chronological age, the mothers of the ill children genetically looked almost a decade older.  Chronic stress promotes inflammation and oxidative damage that is inflicted upon DNA, which increases disease risk and accelerates aging.  Read my blog post on stress here.
4. Low vitamin D: Vitamin D appears to be involved in the process of DNA methylation, promoting telomere length, and in reducing chronic inflammation, all processes critical for halting accelerated aging.  Does this mean taking vitamin D supplements is a proven anti-aging strategy?  This has not been proven, but getting natural doses of vitamin D with safe sun exposure and physician supervised supplementation based on your blood levels appears to be a reasonable strategy.  We’ll cover vitamin D in detail in a future post and I discuss it in detail in my book.

How Fast Are We Aging?

Back to my original question stated in the title…”Are we aging too fast?”  Hopefully I’ve convinced you that the answer in our modern world is a resounding yes.  Most of the patients I see in my clinic are sedentary Silicon Valley workers who have all 4 major age accelerators.  They are eating a nutrient deficient and glucose abundant diet, they are completely inactive, they are experiencing high stress and most are significantly vitamin D deficient due to work lives and personal lives confined predominantly to indoor, sun-deprived spaces.  Their spines are arthritic and their arteries are becoming blocked with heart-attack causing plaques in their third or fourth decade of life.  Formerly known as “diseases of aging,” these conditions are presenting early in life.  Even more startling is seeing the effects of these age accelerators on today’s children, who are suffering from conditions like adult onset diabetes, obesity, and fatty liver.  If you are planning to have children, realize that future fathers and mothers who are leading unhealthy lives may be passing their sick genes onto their children and grandchildren, increasing their risk of obesity and chronic disease.  Your lifestyle decisions are no longer just about you, but can shape the health of future generations.

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Thursday, June 26, 2014

3 Minute Meditation to Increase Heart Rate Awareness and Control

by
http://breakingmuscle.com  

What Is Heart Rate Variability?

Frank Partnoy, law professor at University of San Diego School of Law and author of a book related to HRV titled Wait: The Art and Science of Delay, explained the phenomenon of brain stem control of the heart for The Diane Rehm Show in this way:

One of the most surprising things I found in my research was that our decision-making doesn't just happen in our brain, but it happens in our brain's stem and in something called the vagal nerve, the tenth cranial nerve that kind of comes down from our brain stem and winds around the various organs in our body, most importantly our heart, and it varies our heart rates.1

Why Are Heart Rate and HRV Important?

Scientists in the mental health field continually correlate our ability to change the heart rate appropriately in given scenarios with lower stress and less anxiety and a host of potential benefits such as control of asthma, reduced incidence of autism, and assistance in a wide-range of mental afflictions caused by trauma. As Partnoy explained in regards to HRV: "This is all very preliminary and scientists are struggling to figure it out, but some people believe that a whole host of mental problems that we have emerge from these millisecond-long variations in our hearts."1

How Do Meditation and Heart Rate Relate?

Advanced meditators have demonstrated their ability to tune into and, in some cases, control their heart rate with simple awareness. "Simple," of course, is a relative term, as this skill is practiced and refined over decades of meditation. There is something you can do every day, though, to start honing your ability to control your own heart rate and HRV: pay attention to your heart beat.

3-Minute Meditation for Body Awareness and Control

  1. Sit comfortably.
  2. Locate your pulse, either on your neck or your wrist, making sure find a pulse strong enough to hold your attention.
  3. Set a timer for three minutes.
  4. Sit and count your pulse. Count every single beat to the best of your ability for the full three minutes.
  5. Write down your results.


This meditation has a few benefits. First, for those of us with attention-span challenges, it presents a focal point that is constantly drawing us back in. The heart beats anywhere from sixty to 100 times per minute in the average healthy person. As you continue to tune in, you may find yourself slowing your heart rate down through breath control and mindful awareness. You may also notice your heart rate spike at certain times of day or on days when your stress level is high. As you keep track, you will notice your personal response pattern to external stimuli.

In a very keyed-in state, you may feel how your heart rate varies beat by beat - this is your HRV or heart rate variability. You may practice calling to mind various mental images and watching how your heart rate responds. This is where we find true benefit. The more your heart is able to respond appropriately to the information you feed your brain, the better the potential effects in overcoming stress and trauma-related reactions in your mind and body.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Protein Matters

from http://www.healthyfellow.com

eef is often included on a short list of foods which are purported to increase the risk of various diseases. Among the health concerns expressed about beef is a supposed correlation between red meat consumption and cardiovascular disease. However, a just published study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition begs to differ with this prevalent theory. In the trial, a group of participants with high cholesterol were fed one of four diets for 5 weeks. Those receiving a diet known as BOLD+, comprised of 28% fat, 27% protein and includes 153 grams of beef/day, demonstrated greater improvements in several cardiovascular risk factors than subjects receiving lower beef and protein diets. According to the authors of the study, these findings “provide support for including lean beef in a heart-healthy dietary pattern”.

Before you get too enthusiastic about beef, it’s worth noting that another recent investigation determined that replacing beef with other protein sources may lower stroke risk. An evaluation of over 84,000 women determined that substituting beef with chicken, fish or nuts lowered the relative stroke risk in women by -27%, -17% and -17% respectively. What may be surprising to some is that replacing beef with legumes did not result any significant benefit. In the analysis, low and whole fat dairy products afforded a more modest 10% – 11% reduction in risk.
The importance of adequate protein is also highlighted in three additional publications from the past few months.

 The first reports that replacing carbohydrates with protein is an effective means of lowering blood sugar, body fat and weight in women with polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS. The experimental diet in question contained >40% calories from protein and 30% calories from fat. Another trial revealed that a high protein, low calorie diet outperformed a carbohydrate-rich, low calorie diet by reducing fat cell volume and several cardiometabolic indicators in obese adults. Finally, the fear that some have about dietary protein promoting bone density loss also appears to be largely unfounded. The December issue of the journal Clinical Nutrition draws an inverse link between higher protein intake and fracture risk in seniors. In particular, greater consumption of animal protein was associated with a decreased incidence of fractures. This observation held true regardless of calcium intake.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How to Hack Your Immune System

written by: Dr. Tim Jackson

Today, a variety of factors contribute to weakened immunity in the majority of the population
1)      Heavy metals/toxic metals: Mercury, aluminum, lead, etc.
2)      Pesticides, herbicides and other contaminants
3)      Low body temperature
4)      Hormonal imbalances: high cortisol/low DHEA, low cortisol/low DHEA, low thyroid function
5)      Poor digestive health: imbalances in good:bad flora, mal-absorption, etc.
6)      Epigenetic polymorphisms that are expressing: MTHFR, which is related to the production of certain types of immune cells known as T cells and GSTM/GSTP, which affects our levels of glutathione, an anti-oxidant important for immune function.

READ MORE

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Age and Oxygen Delivery

by Alex Hutchinson
http://www.runnersworld.com

How quickly can you send oxygen to your muscles?

 
A couple of interesting graphs from a Western University study just published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. They compared volunteers from three different age groups: young (average age 24), middle-aged (52), and older (66); in each age group half were untrained but recreationally active, while the other half were serious cyclists training more than 300 km/week.

The results are pretty straightforward. The trained group is always higher than the untrained group, and both groups decline at a similar rate of 8-9% per decade as they age. There's been some debate over the years about how much of the decline in VO2max as you age can be attributed to aging itself, and how much results from the typical pattern that we get less active as we age. In this particular data set, it looks like the decline is pretty much entirely attributable to age, because the cyclists lose VO2max just as quickly as the untrained group. (Of course, they start from a higher point, so the 66-year-old cyclists are just as aerobically fit as the 24-year-old non-cyclists, which is pretty cool.)
What this study is actually focused on is something slightly different: VO2 kinetics – that is, how your body's use of oxygen responds to changes in activity levels. When you go from rest to suddenly pedaling or running hard (as you do at the start of every race or even interval workout), your muscles suddenly need huge amounts of oxygen, and it takes a while for the rest of the body – lungs, heart, blood vessels, enzymes – to kick into high gear.

 What does this mean? The factors affecting VO2 kinetics are fairly complex, but one key is the blood delivery network. In order to quickly ramp up oxygen delivery, you need to be able to distribute blood; studies have shown that less than a year of endurance training increases capillarization by 20-40%. This could be one of the key factors that you lose with age if you don't stay fit. It's probably not going to be the deciding reason that you take up training ("I've decided to get fit because I don't want my oxygen kinetics to decline!"), but it's a nice example of the many subtle ways that your body keeps working if you keep it fit – and stops if you don't.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Drinking green tea appears to boost the activity of DNA repair enzymes.

by By




Tuesday, June 17, 2014

3 Exercises You Should Skip at the Gym

by
http://breakingmuscle.com  

Skip the Elliptical

 

Say Goodbye to Crunches


Avoid the Abductor and Adductor Machine

 

READ MORE 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Way to Meditate: For People Really Bad at Meditation


 
 
 
 
We are all descendants of really bad meditators. Add to this the general level of distraction we face each moment, and you have a recipe for a tough time sitting in stillness. This is either good news or bad news, depending on how you look at it.

Bad news, we catch only limited moments of success; good news, simply trying to meditate brings about the benefits, whether or not we ever calm down the default circuitry of the brain. But for those of us who just meet frustration every time we come to the cushion, one option is a walking meditation.

About Walking Meditation

The goal of any mediation is to be present in the body's experience of a given moment. Therefore, even in walking meditation, it is best to choose a space with limited distractions, turn off your telephone, walk alone, and choose a path that is not too challenging.

Being in nature is best, as this increases overall happiness with the process. This is not an opportunity to "tune out" through distracting yourself with physical movement. Rather, think of walking meditation as a way to increase awareness of the body's sensations and the mind's work to process those sensations.



Instructions

  1. Creating habits leads to greater success. Decide on a time each day for your walking meditation. After a meal is a great choice as walking provides good posture for digestion. 
  2. Do your best to make sure you are free of distractions. Leave behind your telephone, or at least turn it off. Choose a path you know well so you can concentrate on the experience you are having. Labyrinths and meditation gardens are also a great option, as the walking is confined to a specific experience of the path and therefore limits sensory data. 
  3. Before you begin walking, take a moment to feel your body. Feel the quality of your breath. Take a mental scan of your body, and notice any areas that are calling for your attention. Just observe without feeling the need to act accordingly.
  4. Start walking. Settle on a slow pace that allows you to coordinate breath with your movement.
  5. As you walk, be keenly aware of what your senses are taking in. Notice smells, sounds, the feel of the air on your skin, grades in the terrain, and how your breath varies based on these experiences. Continually witness the body's response to the changes around it.
  6. Do your best to not allow your thinking brain to go into processing mode. A tip: try to take language out of the equation by thinking in feelings rather than words. For example, rather than hearing a sound and mentally saying, "That is a bird," just witness what it is like to hear the sound. Try to feel the part of your ear that perceives that particular sound, or feel the sound as vibration in your body.
  7. Walk for ten minutes to an hour. At times during your walk, you will catch yourself wrapped up in thought. Use your senses to tune back in to the experience around you.


Is This Really Meditation?

I cannot say for certain whether walking meditation meets the full criteria for meditation in the yogic sense. My teacher is notorious for saying, "It is only when the body is still that the mind can fully relax." Ultimately, I think we can more profoundly and deeply experience the moment when we are still. We learn to attune to smaller sensations, and we have an easier time catching the brain on its way to default mode.

However, I believe our brain's hardware limits many of us from having truly deep experiences in seated meditation. Eventually, you may move to an alternating meditation, spending thirty minutes walking then thirty minutes sitting. In the end, I believe any act of mindfulness is better than no mindfulness at all. If walking meditation gets you to meditate, I'm all for it.
 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Why Sea Water Taste So Bad

from http://www.boredpanda.com



As if you needed another reason not to drink sea water! David Liittschwager, an accomplished award-winning photographer who has created numerous marine wildlife photos for National Geographic, has created an image showing the microfauna that exists inside a single drop of seawater! By magnifying the water 25 times, he showed that the salty taste of seawater isn’t just salt – there are bacteria, worms, fish eggs, crab larva, diatoms, and a whole host of other creepy crawlies all fighting for a place on your tongue



magnified-drop-of-seawater-photo-david-liittschwager-1

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chronic Cough Alternatives

 
  Written by JP

 http://www.healthyfellow.com/

The so-called “common cold” usually comes and goes in an expected, generic manner. You’re congested for a few days, you sneeze and your throat aches for a week tops. In most cases, it’s not a big deal and requires little or no medical intervention. But, for some, a lingering cough can stick around long after the cold exits stage right. There are several reasons why this typically occurs including bacterial infections, chronic irritation of the airways and/or overuse of nasal decongestant sprays – more than three days.
If you’re one the unlucky ones who encounter a chronic cough after a cold infection you can and should consider natural remedies to help restore your normal state of wellness. And, thankfully, you don’t have to rely on old wives’ tales or questionable anecdotes. Instead, consider the following, evidence-based approaches.

Far and away, the best documented natural remedy for chronic coughs in adults and children is pure honey. Normally, I don’t encourage the use of concentrated sweeteners. However, in the case of honey, it is well worth trying for those with long term coughs that don’t require antibiotic intervention. Acute use of honey is unlikely to cause any harmful, lasting effects. Furthermore, adding certain wholesome ingredients to honey such as coffee and pure cocoa powder may result in even better outcomes. For instance, a recent study published in Primary Care Respiratory Journal reports that combining instant coffee and honey is significantly more effective in reducing persistent post-infectious cough (PPC) as compared to systemic steroid treatment. In addition, theobromine, a naturally occurring chemical found in cocoa, is now considered a “novel and promising” antitussive “drug” thanks to positive, preliminary research and a favorable safety profile. This suggests that a natural cocktail containing cocoa, coffee and honey may be a tasty and viable alternative for those trying to overcome PPC.

If cocoa and coffee aren’t right for you or if you require more support, I suggest a well formulated herbal tincture consisting of eucalyptus, ivy, licorice and thyme. In the US, a liquid supplement containing all of these therapeutic ingredients is sold under the name Bronchosan – distributed and manufactured by A. Vogel. Gargling and then swallowing this composition appears to ease throat irritation, relax bronchial tubes and thins mucus in the lungs allowing for efficient expectoration. Also, this herbal blend possesses antibacterial properties which may assist the immune system in overcoming infections. Finally, this sugar-free formula may be further enhanced by mixing it with honey and warm water. Personally, I think it’s a far better option than conventional, synthetic cough syrups which only provide temporary symptomatic relief and the real risk of side-effects.


Posted June 3, 2014

Best Exercise in Ever: The Front Plank. Seriously, in Ever


 324  1621
I tend to involve a lot of planking variations in my clients training programs, and there’s a very simple reason for this. For bang for your buck exercises, I haven’t found one that creates as much of a benefit in a short period of time as a plank. In terms of increasing mobility through the hips, pre-activating the core muscles to help with spinal stabilization, getting people to learn and lock in neutral spinal positioning, and even working on coaching breathing behind a braced core, it tends to do a lot of things when done well.
The big take home point of that opening paragraph: Planks are tha awesome.
The downside is that a lot of people wind up doing planks in a god-awful manner, and do something that more resembles an Instagram fitness “celebrity” showing off their butt for a ready camera.
bad plank

I’ll be right back, I just need to stop my eyes from bleeding after seeing something like that.
Most planks wind up falling into 3 main categories:
  1. The neck is below the chest, meaning all the stabilization is coming from the shoulders and neck.
  2. The pelvis is in anterior tilt and the butt is above the line from the knees and ribs. This means the hip flexors and low back are doing all the work in a shortened state, which is great if you have nothing better to do for the next hour and want a new position by which you can read the morning paper. It’s not very challenging, and in reality it doesn’t do much beneficial stuff for you.
  3. Hard rounding through the thoracic spine. The shoulders are doing all the work, but the rectus abdominis (six-pack muscles) are doing something in a shortened position, which is essentially like holding a reverse crunch.
The best way to approach a plank is to think of getting into a linear body position where the head, shoulders, hips and knees are in a straight line. Essentially, what ever would be ideal posture when standing is what ideal posture would be when planking, except, you know, more horizontal.
Here’s a quick tutorial video on how to set up into a fantastic plank.
A good plank should be controlled massive tension through the entire body, where you have the goal of generating maximal muscle force throughout the total system and breathe in a deep and powerful manner. If you can do more than 15 seconds in a plank position, you’re not tensing hard enough. Work HARDER!!!
In a programming means, you should ideally accumulate time in each set through multiple “reps” of 10-15 seconds. An example is 4 sets of 15 seconds, with a 5 second recovery between reps. Smash your hips and core as hard as possible, and breathe deeply and forcefully.
Enjoy!!

Most planks wind up falling into 3 main categories:
  1. The neck is below the chest, meaning all the stabilization is coming from the shoulders and neck.
  2. The pelvis is in anterior tilt and the butt is above the line from the knees and ribs. This means the hip flexors and low back are doing all the work in a shortened state, which is great if you have nothing better to do for the next hour and want a new position by which you can read the morning paper. It’s not very challenging, and in reality it doesn’t do much beneficial stuff for you.
  3. Hard rounding through the thoracic spine. The shoulders are doing all the work, but the rectus abdominis (six-pack muscles) are doing something in a shortened position, which is essentially like holding a reverse crunch.
The best way to approach a plank is to think of getting into a linear body position where the head, shoulders, hips and knees are in a straight line. Essentially, what ever would be ideal posture when standing is what ideal posture would be when planking, except, you know, more horizontal.
Here’s a quick tutorial video on how to set up into a fantastic plank.
- See more at: http://deansomerset.com/best-exercise-ever-front-plank-seriously-ever/#sthash.LNqBvuPX.dpuf
- See more at: http://deansomerset.com/best-exercise-ever-front-plank-seriously-ever/#sthash.LNqBvuPX.dpuf
Most planks wind up falling into 3 main categories:
  1. The neck is below the chest, meaning all the stabilization is coming from the shoulders and neck.
  2. The pelvis is in anterior tilt and the butt is above the line from the knees and ribs. This means the hip flexors and low back are doing all the work in a shortened state, which is great if you have nothing better to do for the next hour and want a new position by which you can read the morning paper. It’s not very challenging, and in reality it doesn’t do much beneficial stuff for you.
  3. Hard rounding through the thoracic spine. The shoulders are doing all the work, but the rectus abdominis (six-pack muscles) are doing something in a shortened position, which is essentially like holding a reverse crunch.
The best way to approach a plank is to think of getting into a linear body position where the head, shoulders, hips and knees are in a straight line. Essentially, what ever would be ideal posture when standing is what ideal posture would be when planking, except, you know, more horizontal.
Here’s a quick tutorial video on how to set up into a fantastic plank.
- See more at: http://deansomerset.com/best-exercise-ever-front-plank-seriously-ever/#sthash.LNqBvuPX.dpuf
Most planks wind up falling into 3 main categories:
  1. The neck is below the chest, meaning all the stabilization is coming from the shoulders and neck.
  2. The pelvis is in anterior tilt and the butt is above the line from the knees and ribs. This means the hip flexors and low back are doing all the work in a shortened state, which is great if you have nothing better to do for the next hour and want a new position by which you can read the morning paper. It’s not very challenging, and in reality it doesn’t do much beneficial stuff for you.
  3. Hard rounding through the thoracic spine. The shoulders are doing all the work, but the rectus abdominis (six-pack muscles) are doing something in a shortened position, which is essentially like holding a reverse crunch.
The best way to approach a plank is to think of getting into a linear body position where the head, shoulders, hips and knees are in a straight line. Essentially, what ever would be ideal posture when standing is what ideal posture would be when planking, except, you know, more horizontal.
Here’s a quick tutorial video on how to set up into a fantastic plank.
- See more at: http://deansomerset.com/best-exercise-ever-front-plank-seriously-ever/#sthash.LNqBvuPX.dpuf
Most planks wind up falling into 3 main categories:
  1. The neck is below the chest, meaning all the stabilization is coming from the shoulders and neck.
  2. The pelvis is in anterior tilt and the butt is above the line from the knees and ribs. This means the hip flexors and low back are doing all the work in a shortened state, which is great if you have nothing better to do for the next hour and want a new position by which you can read the morning paper. It’s not very challenging, and in reality it doesn’t do much beneficial stuff for you.
  3. Hard rounding through the thoracic spine. The shoulders are doing all the work, but the rectus abdominis (six-pack muscles) are doing something in a shortened position, which is essentially like holding a reverse crunch.
The best way to approach a plank is to think of getting into a linear body position where the head, shoulders, hips and knees are in a straight line. Essentially, what ever would be ideal posture when standing is what ideal posture would be when planking, except, you know, more horizontal.
Here’s a quick tutorial video on how to set up into a fantastic plank.
- See more at: http://deansomerset.com/best-exercise-ever-front-plank-seriously-ever/#sthash.LNqBvuPX.dpuf

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Hip Weakness and Knee Pain

By
If you've got knee pain, you might need to strengthen your hips. That's an increasingly common prescription these days, thanks to a bunch of research over the past decade or so linking conditions like runner's knee (also known as patellofemoral pain, or PFP) and more recently iliotibial band syndrome to sub-par hip strength. But there's a key question lurking behind these studies: do you develop knee pain because your hips are weak, or do your hips get weak because your knees hurt and you're forced to alter your movement patterns?

A systematic review by Danish and Australian researchers, published recently in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, tries to answer this question by pooling the data from 24 different studies of hip strength and PFP. The headline result is that cross-sectional studies showed an association between hip strength and knee pain, but prospective studies didn't. In other words, if you take a group of runners at a single point in time, the ones who have weak hips will be more likely to have knee pain (and vice versa). But if you take a group of healthy runners, measure their hip strength, and then follow them over subsequent months and years, you won't be able to predict who will develop knee pain and who won't. That's precisely the pattern you'd expect if knee pain causes hip weakness, rather than the other way around.

But let's not get too carried away with this finding. As the authors are careful to point out, only three of the 24 studies are prospective! So the failure to find a statistically significant predictive relationship isn't that surprising, especially given the mixed study populations (one included adolescents, who have different characteristics). This ends up looking like one of those cases where there's insufficient evidence to say that weak hips cause knee pain, but also insufficient evidence to say that they don't. Here how the authors put it:

"Considering favourable clinical outcomes with hip strengthening protocols in individuals with PFP, the findings of this review do not bring into question the potential benefit of such programmes for symptom reduction. However, they do indicate that hip strengthening protocols may not be sufficient to prevent the occurrence or reoccurrence of PFP."
So the evidence isn't there to suggest that every runner should be doing hip-strengthening exercises. But if you start having knee problems, that's probably a good place to start.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Panera is about to announce a radical plan for all artificial additives in the food it sells

Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY 
 http://www.usatoday.com



mid growing consumer concern about the ingredients in foods purchased in restaurants and grocery stores, one of the nation's most successful fast-casual dining chains on Tuesday will announce plans to dump all artificial additives from its food menu by the end of 2016. That means no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives in any of the hundreds of food items it sells.
Separately, beverages will be a future focus. Panera is working to remove high-fructose corn syrup from many of them.

"I want to serve food that I want to eat," says Ron Shaich, founder and CEO of Panera, in a phone interview. The 1,800-store chain was among the first 10 years ago to restrict its chicken to those raised without antibiotics, and among the first to voluntarily post calorie counts on its menu board.
The latest move comes as several other like-minded chains — including Chipotle and Starbucks — also have pushed to reduce artificial additives, in large part to appeal to Millennial customers who are particularly sensitive about added ingredients. It may nudge some other fast-food chains to take similar moves. Consumers' worry about additives in recent years has pulled even — or surpassed — other key nutritional concerns such as sugar, sodium and calories.

Among the additives that will be dumped from these Panera foods:
• Deli smoked turkey: potassium lactate, sodium phosphate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite and sodium diacetate.
• Horseradish: calcium disodium EDTA.
• Citrus Pepper Chicken: maltodextrin, potassium lactate.
• Cilantro Jalapeño Hummus: ascorbic acid and tocopherol, tara gum, carrageenan, potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate.
• Summer corn chowder: tapioca Dextrin, modified corn starch, autolyzed yeast extract, maltodextrin, coconut oil derived from triglycerides, artificial flavors.
• Roast beef: caramel color.

"Panera's intention to eliminate artificial food additives is an important step in the right direction," says Michael Jacobson, executive director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group.

A key driver for Panera: the Millennial push. Increasingly, "Millennials understand that prevention is far better than reacting to a disease" says Shaich. Beyond removing additives from old products, the chain's "intentions," says Shaich, are to hold the vast majority of its new products to this same standard.

The hardest part, he says, is pushing all suppliers to conform. "We have to go to our vendors, and they have to go to their vendors," says Shaich.
That's something that Chipotle understands. While none of the food that Chipotle itself makes has any artificial ingredients, some of food that's supplied to the chain — including some tortillas and sodas — has them, says spokesman Chris Arnold. "Right now, our focus on tortillas is eliminating GMO (genetically modified organism) ingredients, which we hope to complete this year."
In 2009, Starbucks committed to the removal of artificial flavors, dyes, high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners from its food — and removing artificial preservatives "wherever possible," says spokeswoman Lisa Passé.

Even then, says Jacobson, "these changes don't turn Panera into a health food emporium." Many of its breads are still made with white flour instead of whole wheat, and many of its pastries and cakes are loaded with sugar, he says. And its Italian combo sandwich, with 2,850 milligrams of sodium "is way more sodium than someone should have in an entire day."
But, Shaich says, while Panera does sell some indulgent products, it has an increasingly strong commitment to "clean" ingredients and menu transparency. "When you understand what you're eating, you're more likely to make choices in your self interest."

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Could Head Trauma Bring an End to Football?

by
http://breakingmuscle.com

Football Reigns Supreme

Make no mistake: football is currently America’s national pastime, as well as America’s national obsession. The NFL is the most profitable professional sports league in the world, to the tune of more than nine billion dollars annually. As consumers, we have an insatiable appetite for our Sunday football fix. Of the fifty top rated sporting events in 2013, an astounding 46 were NFL games. As the title of a recent documentary suggests, we are The United States of Football.

The Specter of Head Trauma

It appeared nothing could possibly shake the mighty pillars of college and professional football - until now. Enter the head trauma discussion that has been grabbing an increasing amount of media attention in recent years.

Current and former players are making a lot of noise about this issue. In 2013, the NFL settled a class action lawsuit with over 4,500 former players for $765 million dollars. While the NFL admitted “no admissions of liability or weakness claims” in the settlement, we now know one thing for sure - football is dangerous.

We can debate who is responsible for the head trauma suffered by football players - coaches, owners, commissioners, or players. What isn’t debatable anymore is that football is bad for your head. The average life expectancy for an American male is almost 78, whereas former NFL football players live on average only until their mid to late fifties.
 
It’s not just NFL players that are garnering media attention, but the sport of football itself, and particularly the potential dangers to our youth. The Obama administration thinks it’s such an important issue that a special commission on youth sports safety was recently held at the White House. Barak Obama himself weighed in on the issue, telling The New Republic that if he had a son, “I’d have to think long and hard before I let him play football.” I’m guessing if the president is paying attention to the issue so are main street moms and dads.


Getting Hit in the Head - Is It a Smart Thing?

This query seems almost laughable when you read it out loud. Who thinks getting hit in the head is anything but a bad idea? You only have one head, and how you use it is pretty darn important in the grand scheme of things. We now know the dangers of concussions on the human brain. Multiple concussions are known to lead to the brain degenerative disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is linked to symptoms including memory loss, dementia, and depression.

If you want to participate in a sport where head trauma is a risk, then that should be an adult decision. Should you make that decision for your kid? Not having a child, I’ll leave that one up to the experts - parents.

Still, dangerous or not, some of us are still going to elect to play football, study martial arts, or play other contact sports. I will never forget the look of the doctor who examined me after I ruptured my second eardrum boxing - a mixture of disbelief and scorn. While I understood the doctor’s disapproval, we all have a thing. Whether it’s football, soda, booze, mountain climbing, or driving fast, none of these things are particularly justifiable as it relates to our health. But when it comes to our passions, safety doesn’t always enter into the picture. However, those are adult decisions to make.

As a coach for novice and amateur level boxing, I tell students that if they want to learn the craft of boxing it involves getting hit, a lot. Kids can learn technique in boxing, just like they can learn technique playing flag football, but if you want to excel at either sport, hitting and getting hit are the most important elements of proficiency. So, knowing what we know about head trauma, should kids be putting on boxing gloves or football helmets? Probably not.

The Future of Football: American or Association?

I used to joke that if God wanted us to play soccer he wouldn’t have given us hands. All joking aside, God also gave us a head and God wants us to use it - and not to ram things with.

While soccer might not have the hard hits or gladiator-type appeal, soccer is also far and above the most popular sport in the world. 36 of the top 48 professional sports leagues worldwide are association football (soccer) leagues. Will America follow suit and become obsessed with a different and safer type of football? I highly doubt it. Besides, soccer players suffer concussions, too, by hitting their heads with soccer balls.


The Future of Football and Our Youth Athletes

According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, which conducts surveys about participation in youth sports, football still reigns supreme. Football is tied with basketball as the top youth sport for boys with 40% of adolescent boys playing the sport. However, high school football participation is declining while soccer is growing. Between 2008-9 and 2012-13, high school football participation dropped 2.3% while soccer grew by 7.4%. Are we finally catching up with the rest of the world? Again, it’s doubtful. Despite the dangers, football isn’t going anywhere.

There may be a slight decline in the participation of football, but more so than injury concerns, that’s because there are other options nowadays for kids. From Facebook to lacrosse, kids have myriad options for their extracurricular time. When asked why they quit a sport, both boys and girls overwhelmingly cited that they “weren’t having fun.”

We love football as a society. It’s hard to have a passion for watching the game and then convey to your kid that it’s a bad thing. People get hurt playing football, both in the moment and in the long run. Like many facets of society, we polarize and simplify the blame game into someone else being at fault.

The reality is we’re all at fault. As a society, we passionately support a sport that is inherently dangerous. That doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon. In the meantime, it’s play at your own risk - and consider who’s making that choice for your child.