Sunday, August 26, 2012

Short bursts of exercise will make you fitter quicker

Short bursts of exercise will make you fitter quicker

Interval training doesn't have to be intense to achieve results, research says

Alternating short bursts of intense activity with brief rest periods delivers more benefit for less exercise, research shows. As a way of building fitness and muscle power it beats traditional types of long-term exercise such as cycling or walking, scientists say.
"Doing 10 one-minute bursts of activity on an exercise bike, interspersed by one-minute rests, three times a week, works as well in improving muscle as many hours of conventional long-term biking less strenuously," said Professor Martin Gibala of McMaster University, Canada, who led the study.
To achieve equivalent results by traditional endurance training would require over 10 hours of moderate-intensity cycling in a period of two weeks.
It had been thought that interval training had to involve "all-out" effort at the maximum of which the individual was capable to be effective. This was fine for athletes, but not as good for ordinary people extracting themselves from their natural habitat on the sofa.
Previous studies have shown that a quick HIT (high-intensity interval training) involving all-out effort was as good as a long cycle ride (or stroll), despite taking less time and, remarkably, involving less exercise.
The new study, published in the Journal of Physiology, showed that a less extreme form of HIT also works. The subjects used an ordinary exercise bike and pedalled at about half the speed involved in an all-out sprint. The results were as good. "We have shown that interval training does not have to be 'all-out' to be effective," Professor Gibala said.
It is simple to adapt an exercise regime to resemble interval training. When out jogging or cycling, individuals can alternate one-minute sprints with one minute of coasting. The length of the sprints, and the intervals between them, can be varied as fitness improves.
Why HIT should be so effective remains unclear. But the excuse of having "too little time to exercise" is no longer tenable, Professor Gibala says. "It should be possible for the general public," he said.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Speed play and strength train

  • Speed play (aka Fartlek) — Fartlek, commonly known in the U.S. as interval training, is the Swedish word for “speed play.” Interval training or speed play is a great way to pump up your metabolism and make your workouts more fun. Interval training alternates short bursts of intense activity with lower intensity activity. For example; alternating sprints with a slow jog, or powering up a hill followed by an easy downhill lope. Interval training teaches the heart and muscles to use oxygen more efficiently. A few studies have found that interval training alters the mitochondria (the enginelike organelles that produce energy in cells) to burn more fat. You will likely burn more calories, increase your metabolic rate and your level of fitness at a faster rate than with your old familiar workout. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

10 Foods That Detox The Body


10 Foods That Detox The Body

Author: Dr. Edward Group 07/08/2009 @ 4:37 pm

There are many techniques you can follow and supplements you can take to detox your body. One in particular is to eat detoxifying foods.
Here is a list of detox foodsthat are a great addition to everybody’s diet.
Detox Foods Apple

1. Fruits

Fruits are high in liquid-content, helping the body wash out toxins. They are also very easy to digest and are high in antioxidants, nutrients, fiber and important vitamins.

2. Green Foods

Detox Foods Spinach
Fill your refrigerator withblue green algae, barley, wheatgrass, kale, spinach, spirulina, alfalfa, chard, arugula or other organic leafy greens. These plants will help give a chlorophyll-boost to your digestive tract.
Chlorophyll rids the body of harmful environmental toxins from smog, heavy metals, herbicides, cleaning products and pesticides. They also aid the liver in detoxification.

3. Lemons, Oranges, and Limes

Detox Foods Lemon
Citrus fruit aids the body in flushing out toxins and jump starts the digestive tract with enzymatic processes. Lemon juice aids the liver in its cleansing processes. To increase detoxification, start each morning with a warm glass of lemon water.
Remember, vitamin C is one of the best detox vitamins around, as it transforms toxins into digestible material. Eat vitamin c foodsoften to help get more of these benefits.
Detox Foods Garlic

4. Garlic

This pungent little bulb is one of the best detoxing foods out there. It helps stimulate the liver into producing detoxification enzymes that help filter toxic residues from the digestive system. I recommend adding sliced or cooked garlic to a suitable dish, as this will help aid any detox diet.

5. Broccoli Sprouts

Extremely high in antioxidants, the ability for broccoli sprouts to stimulate the detoxification enzymes in the digestive tract is unparalleled. The sprouts are actually more effective than the fully-grown vegetable.

Green Tea Detox

6. Green Tea

Packed full of antioxidantsgreen tea washes toxins from the system via its liquid content, but also contains a special type of antioxidant called catechins, which are known to increase liver function.

7. Mung Beans

Mung Beans
The mighty mung bean has been used by Ayurvedic doctors for thousands of years. It is incredibly easy to digest, and absorbs toxic residue on the sides of the intestinal walls.

8. Raw Vegetables

Detox Foods
Best for juicing or eaten raw: Onions, carrots, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, kale, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, garlic, beet, turmeric, and oregano. The combination of these foods will help your liver purge toxins during the cleansing process. These are high in naturally occurring sulphur and glutathione. Sulphur helps the liver detoxify harmful chemicals.

9. Seeds and Nuts

Incorporate more of the easily digestible seeds and nuts into your diet. Flax seed, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, Siberian cedar nuts and sunflower seeds are all excellent options. While detoxing, avoid nut butters.

10. Omega-3 Oils

Use hemp, avocado, olive oils or flax seed oil while detoxing. This will help lubricate the intestinal walls, allowing the toxins to be absorbed by the oil, and eliminated by the body.
Performing a periodic body cleanse may also be beneficial. Do you have any suggestions for foods that detox the body? If so, please drop them in the comment section below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
-Dr. G

Monday, July 23, 2012

Detox Nutrients

Detox nutrients

When we think about detox, we often think about fasting. And while fasting can have beneficial results in some specific cases, it’s usually not the best option for most of us.  Strict fasts must be done carefully, as when done unsupervised they could easily do more harm than good.  The truth is that your body needs a plethora of different nutrients to detox naturally and maintain good health.  So not only you must actually eat to detox, you also need a varied diet rich in the nutrients required for detoxification, and that definitely can’t be done by eating only grapes or by drinking a mixture of lemon juice and maple syrup!
The nutrients your body is using for natural detoxification is quite extensive.  Research has found that vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants including beta-carotene, folic acid, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, vitamin B12, pyridoxine, vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, copper, germanium, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, sulphur, zinc, alpha-ketoglutaric acid, chlorophyll, choline, cysteine, d-glucarate, digestive enzymes, fatty acids, glycine, lecithin, glutathionemethionine, n-acetyl cysteine, silymarin, limonene, naringenin, lycopene, quercetin, rutin, chiro-inositol and citruline are all playing a role into the natural detoxification process. Of course, the list of the many compounds that your body uses to detox naturally could go on forever, and remembering each single nutrient is not necessary.  However, here’s a list of the main nutrients you should look for in a detox diet or simply to stay healthy.  If the detox method you consider lacks any of the following nutrients, then keep looking.  Of course, those nutrients are also essential to good health, not only for detox purposes!

Detox nutrients source

Beta-carotene: Carrots, beets, leafy greens, melon, squash, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, romaine lettuce, broccoli
Folic Acid: Legumes, broccoli, asparagus, beans, lettuce, spinach, beets, sweet potatoes, leafy greens
Niacin: Mushrooms, asparagus, sea vegetables, peanuts, green peas, lettuce, tomatoes
Pantothenic Acid: Green vegetables, beans, kale, cauliflower, peas, sweet potatoes, whole grains, brown rice
Riboflavin: Mushrooms, spinach, leafy greens, broccoli, almonds, asparagus, green peas
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Brown rice, nuts, seeds, nut butters, oats, asparagus, beets, leafy greens, raisins, tomatoes, eggplant, Brussels sprouts, legumes
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Bananas, avocados, whole grains, cantaloupe, walnuts, peanuts, pecans, leafy greens, green peppers, carrots, garlic, mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli
Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, apples, strawberries, beet greens, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, papaya, Swiss chard, squash
Vitamin E: Brussels sprouts, leafy greens, cold-pressed vegetable oils, sunflower seeds, kiwifruit, papaya, blueberries
Calcium: Leafy greens, almonds, carob, sesame seeds, tahini, broccoli, fresh basil, blackstrap molasses, green beans, Brussels sprouts, oranges, cinnamon
Copper: Almonds, mushrooms, sesame seeds, peanuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, beans and legumes, whole grains, oats, leafy greens, avocadoes, pears, prunes
Germanium: Garlic, shiitake mushrooms, onions, whole grains
Iron: Beans and legumes, leafy greens, asparagus, shiitake, whole grains, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, turmeric, blackstrap molasses, green peas
Magnesium: Leafy greens, zucchini, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, whole grains, buckwheat, black beans, almonds, cashews,
Manganese: Nuts and seeds, whole grains, leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, green peas, kelp, raspberries, blueberries, bananas, figs, sweet potatoes,
Molybdenum: Brown rice, millet, buckwheat, legumes, leafy greens, whole grains
Selenium: Whole grains, Brazil nuts, kelp, garlic, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, asparagus
Sulphur: Radish, turnip, onions, celery, horseradish, kale, cucumber
Zinc: Sprouted seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, onions, nuts, leafy greens, peas, beets, beet greens, mushrooms

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Are the foods you are eating keeping you in pain?

Are the foods you are eating keeping you in pain?

By Steve Hefferon, CMT, PTA and co-founder of

An Anti-Inflammatory Diet Could Be the Ticket to Feeling Better
When I say the word "inflammation," it's likely to evoke thoughts of painful joints and muscles, swelling, and a loss of mobility. But did you know that recent research shows that chronic inflammation in your body can lead to serious diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, and Alzheimer's disease, to name just a few?
The amount of inflammation in your body varies and is dependent on a number of factors - including your activity level, the amount of sleep you get, the degree of stress in your life, and even the foods you eat. What you have to realize is that these factors are cumulative - meaning they build up over time. And the more that any or all of these factors get out of whack, the risk for disease increases.
Early in life, these levels can be so low that you might not even be aware that you have any inflammation in your body. That's because our bodies do a fairly decent job of controlling the inflammation - at least for a while. Then one day you wake up and you're in your 40s and something is just not right. That's when the fear begins to set in, and you think to yourself: What did I do wrong? or What can I do now to help myself?
The first step is to get your C-reactive protein (CRP) levels tested. C-reactive protein is produced by the liver, and the level of CRP rises when there is systemic inflammation in the body. Ask your doctor about this (you may have to demand to have the test done). All it requires is a blood sample that will be evaluated by your doctor. And because diet can play a large role in how much or how little inflammation you have, you may want these levels looked at by a registered dietician who can help you formulate an appropriate eating plan.
If you have pain due to inflammation, you may choose to take the traditional medical path, which includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroids, and even joint-replacement surgery in extreme cases. The good news is that there are natural ways to fight inflammation without the undesirable side-effects that often result from the treatments listed above.

What You Eat Makes All The Difference

The food we eat is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to controlling inflammation. The typical American diet consists of too much fat, tons of sugar, loads of red meat, and a frightening amount of processed foods - all of which are likely to increase inflammation and contribute to obesity, which itself is can cause inflammation. By switching to an anti-inflammatory diet plan consisting of healthy whole foods, you can actually decrease inflammation and ease the pain and discomfort associated with it.
The first step is to avoid processed foods, foods high in sugar, and junk food whenever possible. Instead, choose fresh whole foods, especially anti-inflammatory varieties such as lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables. But choose carefully. Many vegetables and pre-packaged "health" foods can actually work against you. Use this handy list of the best and worst foods for controlling inflammation:
Inflammatory foods

Sugar, from any source
Processed foods
French Fries
Fast Foods
White bread
Ice Cream
Cheddar Cheeses
Snack Foods
Oils such as vegetable and corn
Soda, caffeine and alcohol
In addition to these dietary changes it is also recommended that you:
* Maintain a healthy weight - There is no question that eating healthy is not easy nowadays, whether you're at home or at a restaurant. But at the very least, you must try to decrease your intake of sugars and hydrogenated oils and increase your daily intake of fiber. Ideally, you should be consuming 35 grams of fiber (that is a ton of fiber, but it's worth shooting for).
* Get better sleep - 7 to 9 hours of sleep is a must for optimal health; getting a good night's sleep is key to controlling systemic inflammation.
* Relax more often to lower stress levels - Find time for yourself throughout the day to focus on your breathing and clear the clutter from your mind; learn to stay focused on the most important tasks in your life.
* Exercise on a regular basis - People always ask me: What's the best exercise to do? I always tell them: Do something you like to do and, if your body can tolerate it, aim for 15-20 minutes three times a week.
* Demand to have you CRP levels tested - This simple blood test is the best indicator of the amount of systemic inflammation in your body. Have the levels evaluated by a certified health care provider who can suggest the most appropriate action.
So, if you are in pain and you've made a conscious decision to help yourself get better, then...

Friday, July 6, 2012

Decaffeinated & Flavored Coffee - Good or Bad?

Decaffeinated & Flavored Coffee - Good or Bad?

For those of you who drink coffee (most of you), you may find this interesting and scary at the same time. I thought I would add it to my website. You can find more info on Frontier Herb's website at . The article below may even help you "kick the habit". - Brenda

Decaffeination, What have they done to my coffee?
When you want a cup of coffee, but you've already had enough caffeine to jump start a water buffalo, you turn to decaf. Oh sure, there are caffeine free "coffee substitutes" out there. We just don't know what purpose they serve besides tarnishing the good name of coffee since none of them taste even remotely like coffee. Hot, liquid, and brown just doesn't do it.
Unfortunately, sometimes that's all you get with a cup of decaf. Worse yet, the chemicals used in some decaffeination processes raise health and environmental concerns.
There are four major commercial processes used to remove caffeine from coffee. Conventional decaffeination uses the chemical Methylene Chloride, "Natural" decaffeination uses the chemical Ethyl Acetate. Water decaffeination uses water and Carbon Dioxide decaffeination uses, you guessed it, carbon dioxide. Each of these methods does a good job of removing the caffeine from coffee (to sell a coffee as decaffeinated it must be at least 97% caffeine free). However, there are significant differences in the taste of the decaffeinated product, in the residual chemicals remaining in the beans, and in the effect on the environment.
Conventional Decaffeination
In this process coffee beans are first soaked with water to make them swell, opening pores and hastening the extraction process. It also "presoaks" the caffeine into the water, which facilitates the extraction process. The beans are then immersed in the solvent Methylene Chloride (CH2Cl2), which extracts the caffeine from the coffee beans by bonding to the caffeine molecules. The decaffeinated beans are run through water and steam treatments, evaporating the caffeine laden solvent out of the beans. Since Methylene Chloride actually bonds to the caffeine instead of just dissolving it, the caffeine evaporates with the solvent and doesn't stay on the coffee. The solvent is later processed to extract the caffeine for use in other products. (In decaffeination plants, the sale of the residual caffeine can be a greater source of revenue than the decaffeination fees. Where do you think the cola companies get all that caffeine?)
Although Methylene Chloride levels in the coffee bean are reduced to residual levels that are "legally safe" (the FDA has set a maximum allowable level of 10 parts per million), health conscious consumers, skeptical of government infallibility, consider these residues unacceptable.
The European Community recently banned the use of Methylene Chloride for coffee decaffeination. Although measures are taken to recycle as much of the chemical as possible, the evaporated chemical that escapes into the atmosphere during processing may be harmful to the ozone layer.
Finally, the flavor of coffee decaffeinated with Methylene Chloride is somewhat flat and tasteless.
Ethyl Acetate Decaffeination
Coffee decaffeinated using this process is frequently referred to as "Naturally Decaffeinated" because Ethyl Acetate (CH3CO2C2H5) can occur naturally in orange rinds and other fruits. But because of the cost of using natural extract the Ethyl Acetate used in decaffeination. It is simply a human made chemical. There is some question as to whether it is legal in the United States to call Ethyl Acetate decaffeinated coffee "naturally decaffeinated," but currently that is a common practice.
The decaffeination process is essentially the same as in conventional Methylene Chloride de-caffeination, except Ethyl Acetate replaces Methylene Chloride as the solvent.
While no ozone issues have arisen in relation to this chemical, there are still chemical residues remaining in the coffee beans (10 ppm max). And the taste of the decaffeinated coffee is also mediocre.
Ethylene Acetate is slightly more expensive than Methylene Chloride, which means it would never get used unless 1) Methylene Chloride was illegal, or 2) there was some marketing advantage. The ability to label the beans "naturally decaffeinated" is a powerful incentive.
Water Decaffeination
For most people water decaffeination is synonymous with Swiss Water Process, but of course Swiss Water Process is merely a trademarked name, backed up with plenty of promotional materials and advertising.
A water process decaffeination plant starts by soaking coffee beans in pure water. The liquid is drained off, and the coffee is thrown away, because it is now flavorless. The liquid solution, however, is full of both coffee flavors and caffeine. (Of course caffeine is water soluble otherwise they couldn't put it in your cola.)
The liquid is then passed through a carbon filter, which removes the caffeine but not the flavor components. This flavor-saturated liquid is then poured onto a new batch of coffee.
Because the liquid is already full of coffee flavors, it doesn't extract any additional flavor from the coffee beans. It does, however, extract the caffeine. This cycle of soaking, then filtering out the caffeine, can be repeated indefinitely.
The advantages of the water process over conventional methods is that no chemicals are used, so no residual chemicals are left in the beans. The environment, likewise, remains unaffected. Most people seem to agree that the water process produces a slightly more flavorful cup of coffee.
Unfortunately water process coffee is also more expensive. In fact, Swiss Water Processed coffee is as much as four times as expensive as conventionally decaffeinated. For this reason the only roasters who use it are those whose customers are sensitive to health and environmental issues.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Decaffeination
CO2 decaffeination is based on the simple principle of "like dissolves like". Pressurized CO2 is a dense fluid with a molecule that (like caffeine) is small and nonpolar (nonpolar molecules have no electrical charge). The flavor components in coffee are a combination of carbohydrates (starches and sugars) and peptides (proteins), both of which are large, polar molecules.
In the CO2 decaffeination process, water soaked coffee beans are placed in a stainless steel container or extractor. The extractor is then sealed and liquid CO2 is injected. The CO2 acts as the solvent to dissolve and draw the caffeine from the coffee beans, leaving the larger-moleculed flavor components behind. The caffeine laden CO2 is then transferred to another container. Here the pressure is released and the CO2 returns to its gaseous state, leaving the caffeine behind. The caffeine free CO2 gas is pumped back into a pressurized container for reuse.
CO2 decaffeination produces the most flavorful decaffeinated coffee. There are no harmful chemicals or by-products of the process.
Unfortunately, the cost of building a CO2 decaffeination plant is quite high, so this process is primarily used to decaffeinate large volumes of commercial grade coffee. Because of the growing market for a safe and flavorful decaffeinated product, CO2 decaffeinated specialty grade coffees are becoming more readily available. There is at least one CO2 decaffeination plant in Germany that has been organically certified and can decaffeinate specialty grade coffees in relatively small container load (38,000 lb) quantities.
Flavored Coffees
Chocolate mint, Irish creme, and hazelnut coffee, what a concept. To a coffee purist these drinks are more than misnomers, they are down right sacrilege. To the coffee retailers they are a constant, (although a very profitable) source of problems and complaints. To the roaster flavored coffee can be viewed either as something they aren't going to mess with, a necessary evil, or, in the worst case, a welcome, (and again very profitable) place to get rid of their cheap beans, floor sweepings, and blown roasts. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your viewpoint, to around 20% of Americans flavored coffees are the drink of choice. Let's take a look at the issues and concerns of flavored whole bean coffee.
The first question that needs to be asked is what goes into these flavors? If it's put on your coffee bean it's going to end up in your body, right? Hazelnut, French vanilla, and Raspberry all sound natural enough. Even Irish creme doesn't conjure up any "unnatural" connotations. In reality there are very few coffee bean flavors that are truly natural. Spectral analysis of a supposed "natural" Irish Creme coffee bean flavor included the following items: Ethyl Alcohol, Dimethylamine-D1, Formamidiniumacetate (I can't even pronounce this one let alone know what it is!), Propylene Glycol, alpha Methyl Benzyl Alcohol, and Heliotropin. Some of these items may be safe enough, but I'm also sure that some of them are not the kind of chemical poisons I want MY liver filtering out of my system. Truly natural flavorings are available, but their cost is so high that the coffee would have to be sold for upwards of $15.00 to $17.00 per lb. I have also been told by flavor manufacturers that nut flavors are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to extract naturally and still get an acceptable taste.
In addition to the chemical and health issues, there is the cross-contamination of flavors problem. Coffee is a product that is very susceptible to aroma contamination. Simply put, coffee will absorb and pass on any odor it is exposed to. This is one of the reasons why flavoring coffee beans works so well. Speciality coffee is like fine wine. Each coffee varietal and each blend has subtle tastes and aromas that make it what it is. Selling "pure" coffee next to flavored coffee in a bulk display exposes those pure coffees to contamination every time the acrylic bin is opened. Some people claim that the flavors will travel through the acrylic and contaminate the closed bins next to them over time. Even taking home a flavored and an unflavored coffee in the same grocery bag can taint the pure coffee.
The two places where contamination most commonly occurs are in the grinder and in the brewing equipment. If a retailer is selling flavored coffees there should be two grinders available for the customer to use. One clearly marked "For Pure Coffee" and one marked "For Flavored Coffee Only". These signs are only generally noticed by the customers and flavored coffee is run through both grinders on a regular basis. Running one batch of flavored coffee through the unflavored or pure coffee grinder will contaminate the taste of at least the next ten to twenty batches of pure coffee that are ground in it. So if you are one of the people who grind your coffee in the store instead of grinding it fresh at home, (remember, fresher is better) unless you personally know the last ten people who used that grinder before you there is a good chance that your breakfast blend will have a faintly bitter aftertaste of Hazelnut or the slightly spicy aroma of cinnamon.
Flavored coffee is an even bigger contaminant in the home and office. Very few people have two home grinders so not only is any pure coffee that is ground contaminated, but if you drink more than one flavor the mix of flavors that builds up in the grinder can be far from desirable. Brewing flavored coffee in the coffee pot guarantees that any other pure coffee that is brewed in that pot will be contaminated. A pure coffee drinker who lives or works with a flavored coffee drinker (it only takes one), has two options, have a separate grinder and brewing equipment or live with "fouled" coffee. The first option is a pain in the neck and the second option is completely unacceptable.
Besides grinder contamination and aroma transfer in the bins, another consideration for the retailer is the mess that flavored coffees make of the acrylic bins, grinder, and bulk display area. Pure roasted coffee sweats oil naturally and the bins need to be cleaned regularly, (every two weeks). The glycerine, sugar, flavor, and coffee oils in flavored coffee combine to make a sticky, unappetizing mess that makes even a clean bin look bad and a dirty flavored coffee bin is much more difficult to clean than a pure coffee bin. Any flavored coffee that is spilled spreads this sticky, oily mess all over the bulk display area. The grinder used for flavored coffee rapidly becomes gummed up and requires much more frequent cleaning.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Eat Your Lean Protein

"A higher-protein weight-loss diet is more protective of muscle," said Ellen Evans, a former U of I associate professor of kinesiology and community health and member of the university's Division of Nutritional Sciences.
Scientists in Evans's Illinois lab wanted to study the way body composition relates to physical function because older women who diet risk losing muscle as well as fat.
"That loss can affect their strength, balance, and how well they perform everyday tasks, such as climbing stairs and getting up out of a chair," said Mina Mojtahedi, a researcher in Evans's laboratory.
The study shows that higher protein intake during weight loss can offset negative effects on muscle mass by maintaining more muscle relative to the amount of weight lost. Women who ate more protein lost 3.9 percent more weight and had a relative gain of 5.8 percent more thigh muscle volume than woman who did not, she said.
"When a woman has less weight to carry, even if she's lost a bit of lean mass in her legs, the effect is that she has better physical function," she said.
It's likely that such women will be better able to maintain their mobility and independence as they age, she added.
In the six-month double-blind study, 31 healthy, postmenopausal obese women were divided into two groups. Each group followed a 1,400-calorie weight-loss diet based on USDA's My Pyramid, but one group received a powdered whey protein supplement in the morning and again in the afternoon or evening; the other received a placebo that contained carbohydrates.
"We believe it's important to eat protein in the morning and through the day so those amino acids are always available. Unfortunately, American women tend not to eat much protein, especially when they're trying to cut calories. But it's easy to add protein powder into a smoothie or eat a high-protein snack and incorporate a healthier diet into a busy lifestyle," she said.
Both groups were encouraged to engage in light exercise (walking and stretching) and given diet education, including examples of healthy daily menus and a scale to measure portion size.
Before and after the study, participants were assessed for strength, balance, and the ability to perform such physical tasks as walking 50 feet, standing up five times from a chair, and lifting a book 12 inches above shoulder height.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used at the beginning and end of the study to measure muscle volume of the right thigh, the amount of fat around the thigh, and the amount of fat within the thigh muscle.
In both groups, strength decreased as weight decreased. However, the study suggests that an increase in the amount of muscle relative to fat had beneficial effects on balance and performance, Evans noted.
And, even though weight loss in these older women had a negative effect on strength, their reduced weight helped with other aspects of physical function, she said.
"We hypothesize that more vigorous exercise -- in particular, resistance training -- would preserve even more muscle," she said.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Kid’s Health: Food Allergies, Diet and Child Behavior

Written by 

Food allergies, diet and child behaviorWhen Jodi Sternoff Cohen of Seattle became overwhelmed by her then-4-year-old son’s hyperactivity — and his recurring bouts of vomiting, rashes and ear infections — she searched for solutions in every parenting class and book she could get her hands on. And yet, no matter which method or approach she tried, nothing seemed to help.
“Everywhere we went, I felt like this total failure who couldn’t control my child,” Cohen says. She knew her family needed help, but when doctors suggested treating the ear infections with tubes and the behavior (which they thought may be attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD) with medication, she resisted. “I didn’t think it was necessary. There had to be a different way.”
After making an appointment with an allergist, it was confirmed that her son was dairy-, corn-, and soy-intolerant. “The behavior problems,” she says, “were all diet, but nobody realized it.” After eliminating these ingredients from his diet, his behavior improved tremendously. “Friends, family, teachers have noticed, everyone has noticed,” says Cohen. “He is a totally different child.”
The theory that diet could affect child behavior gained popularity in the 1970s when Dr. Benjamin Feingold, a California pediatric allergist, claimed that hyperactivity symptoms in many of his young patients improved when he put them on a restrictive diet to treat their food allergies. Since then, dozens of studies have looked at whether diet affects behavior in children, including two recent studies in which diet was shown to be a major contributing factor in children with ADHD.

West isn’t best

One recent study by Australia’s Telethon Institute for Child Health and Research showed that a “Western” diet doubled the risk of an ADHD diagnosis. The “Western” dietary patterns examined in the study included high levels of processed, fried and refined foods, including saturated fats, refined sugars and sodium. Another study by Dr. Lidy M. Pelsser of the ADHD Research Centre in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, suggested a restrictive hypoallergenic diet reduced ADHD symptoms in 63 percent of participating children, ages 4-8.
This ADHD-nutrition evidence is clearly compelling, but experts believe there’s a correlation between diet and other mood and child behavior disorders as well, including anxiety, depression, mild hyperactivity, ability to focus and even autism.
“If a child has evidence of a nutritional compromise, that’s a significant contributor to a potential problem,” says Dr. Christopher Varley, program director of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Program at Seattle Children’s. When certain nutrients are in short supply, the body just doesn’t function properly, and behavioral issues can be a consequence of that. And, as Varley so frankly put it, “Let’s face it: The diets of American children are lousy.”

Hyperactive childSugar and spice, not so nice

So if what kids aren’t getting can be a factor, what about what they are getting?
Many parents believe significant sugar intake negatively impacts their children’s behavior. In fact, it may be one of the most common food-behavior generalizations out there. (It seems every mother can tell a story about the time her sweet angel ate too much birthday cake or Halloween candy and proceeded to turn into a wide-eyed lunatic.) And yet studies on the effect of sugar in children have been wildly contradictory, with some claiming to disprove the “sugar high,” while others show a clear connection.
But for many parents, the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. “There are so many outside factors that influence these studies,” says Dr. Sage Wheeler, a Redmond-based naturopath. “It’s really hard to find unbiased information anymore. A lot of times, I tell parents, ‘Decide for yourself. If you notice sugar affects your kid, then don’t give it to them.’” (Of course, limiting sugar intake is important for a number of health reasons, not just behavioral.)
Whether or not sugar is the main culprit, it is quite common for behavioral problems to be accompanied by diet-related issues. Says Wheeler, “If your kid has behavior problems, it’s more likely than not that he’s got gut issues.” The behavior problem could be due to, or exacerbated by, other factors such as food allergies, vitamin deficiencies or food intolerances. But unfortunately, dietary and digestive issues are often hidden problems with few symptoms. A food intolerance won’t provide a sudden reaction the way an allergy will, so you may not notice the effects, and your child may not either. (Wheeler pointed to a study that showed 50 percent of children with celiac disease had no gastrointestinal symptoms whatsoever, only neurological symptoms.)

Make an action plan

If you suspect your child may be negatively affected by some aspect of his diet, try the following:
1. Begin a food journal in which you log everything your child eats daily, along with behavioral notes; over the course of a few weeks you may notice some clear patterns emerging.
2. Pay very close attention to the ingredients in any prepackaged snacks and foods. You may be surprised by what you find, even in products that tout themselves as “all natural.”
3. Wheeler suggests one quick way to see an improvement is to “increase protein intake in the morning. Starting the day with carb-loaded cereal may be convenient for the parent, but it’s not doing the child any favors.”
4. And perhaps most important, find a doctor who is willing to explore your concerns with you, such as an allergist, nutritionist or naturopath.
Andrea Dashiell has written for Seattle magazine,, DailyCandy, Red Tricycle and

Friday, June 29, 2012

Q&A: How a Little Exercise Brings Big Benefits

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Tim Robberts / Riser / Getty Images

Gretchen Reynolds writes the New York Times’ “Phys Ed” column and has been a devotee of physical exercise — particularly running — for decades. In her work, she’s discovered that while inactivity can drastically shorten the healthy lifespan, most of the benefits of working out don’t require hours of effort or marathon-type training.
Healthland spoke with the author of The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer about how to get the most out of the physical activity that you can actually fit into your busy schedule.
Healthland: What surprised you most when you looked into the science of exercise?
Reynolds: In all honesty, [it] was how little physical activity can make a very profound difference physiologically.  That did surprise me. I used to run marathons and like a lot of people, I really did think you had to run [and] your exercise had be fairly strenuous for a long period of time to get meaningful benefits. The science is very clear that that is just not true.
So, what’s the least you can get away with?
The very least you can do is probably just standing up, which I am doing as we talk. I now stand during almost every telephone conversation because it’s an easy time to do it.  The science is very persuasive that just not sitting for a long time makes some difference.
But, certainly at least 20 minutes a day makes a truly profound difference in your health and dramatically reduces the risk of a whole host of diseases, particularly diabetesheart disease and dementia, as well as cancer.
Do you have one of those standing desks and can you actually work standing up?
I bought a music stand. It’s very cheap. I can read papers I need to read.  I  didn’t invest in [anything] expensive.  It’s very easy actually to coordinate your office so you can stand up occasionally.
I can’t sit still for that long anyway.
There is very good science suggesting that fidgeting improves your overall  health. It has been shown to raise  V02max, which is a measure of aerobic fitness.   You can burn several hundred calories a day if you fidget.
And yet we tell kids to sit still all the time.
I spoke with a physiologist and he wishes teachers would stop saying that. Kids who are moving are ultimately better able to pay attention and they appear to do better on tests. The human body at any age does want to be in motion.  Fidgeting may be the body’s response to being told to sit still.
So, are ab exercises like crunches and sit-ups actually bad for you?
Crunches are okay if you do just a do modified crunch.  A full sit-up has been shown to be hard on the back and  even a crunch if you pull up very far is more likely to be damaging to your back than good for your abdomen.
The way to do it is to lie on back with your knees up, put your hands palm down underneath the lower back and lift your head and shoulders a little way off the ground. Imagine that your head and shoulders are on a bathroom scale and lift up just enough to make the weight go to zero. You don’t need to go higher and you are more likely to hurt your back if you do.
Doing things to make your core stable is very good for your back and waistline, but what you do not need is six-pack abs. There’s no functional  reason to work for that. If you want to look good, that may have its place, but if you want a healthy back and healthy core, you try and work the muscles all around the spine and that does not require a lot of effort.
Side planks are really good, but a full sit-up is not good.
What are the benefits of strength training?
That has a lot of really important effects, especially as you leave your 20s behind. You  start losing muscle mass by your 30s and early 40s, and the only way to maintain that muscle mass is strength training. Endurance training does not do that.
Strength training will ensure that you maintain as much muscle as you can and that has all sorts of important physiological implications.  One is that muscles are the biggest users of blood sugar, so you are less likely to get diabetes and other diseases like heart disease. You will maintain your  independence through middle age and longer.
What effects does exercise have on the brain overall?
They are so wide-ranging. That impact is probably what keeps me exercising every day. Many of us were taught that we were born with a certain number of brain cells and will never have any more. That is absolutely untrue. We all will continue to create brain cells throughout our  lifespan. But if you exercise, you’ll create twice as many. Even really quite mild exercise— like going for a walk for 30 to 40 minutes four times a week— means that you will have a larger hippocampus, which is related to memory and learning. You will have more volume there because you are creating more brain cells, and people who exercise do perform better at every age.
And yet the stereotype of the intellectual has typically not been of a fit person..
In fact, kids who are more aerobically fit perform better academically. Even if you just go for a walk before a math test, you generally perform better. The differences are most profound in people after 40 because you do start to lose volume in the hippocampus beginning in the 40s and pretty dramatically after that. If you can be building brain cells there, it has a really demonstrable effect on your ability to think well into your 80s. And it costs almost nothing and it’s really easy.
What about stretching?
That’s the topic people are most passionate about. I get more angry letters from people who love stretching than about anything else.  The science suggests very strongly that static stretching, which is what most people think of as stretching, like reaching over and touching your toes and getting into some position and holding it, [isn't helpful].
Most people were taught to do that before starting their actual workout. The science suggests that it is, in fact, counterproductive. The brains senses that you are about to overstretch that muscle and sends out a message that in fact tells the muscle to stop contracting so hard and then you cannot perform as well in your next exercise bout. You can’t jump as high or run as fast.
So static stretching before exercise appears unwise. The evidence suggests that it doesn’t do a whole lot afterwards, but it probably won’t hurt.
Is warming up equally problematic?
It does appear to be important for reducing the chances of injury, but that means literally warming up the tissue. The best way to do it appropriately is to do a truncated version of what you’re about what about do. So if you’re running, start with a walk or easy jog. That raises the temperature and gets the range of motion improved in the knees and hips.
And, um, what is a fartlek?
My teenage sons love to go out and say they’re [doing that]. [The word comes from the Swedish for “speed play”]. It’s a way to occasionally increase the intensity of your workout. If your goal is to improve athletic performance, you do need to increase intensity and the best way to do that is through some form of intervals, which I hate but you do need to do occasionally if you want to get faster and fitter.
So, fartlek is an easy informal way to incorporate intervals into regular training.  If you are a runner, you look for a tree maybe 100 yards away and speed up, sprint to the tree and then slow down. It’s a very informal approach to interval training: you don’t set your watch for one minute on, and it’s fun, and you can tell someone you were fartleking and can say that in polite company.
Why are there so many exercise fads?
I think it’s in part because until fairly recently, exercise was not put to the test scientifically. A lot of exercise advice came from PE teachers or someone who tried something and it worked for them and then it would become an entrenched myth.
A couple of really interesting overarching truths are that every single person is different in how they respond and genes play a much bigger role than has been acknowledged, even in terms of whether you respond well to exercise at all. Some respond enormously to endurance training, they get much fitter and lose weight. Some respond to weight training. Some do not.
If you’re not getting the response you want, it’s not just your fault. Everyone’s body will respond to some kind of activity.
So how should someone who hasn’t been exercising start?
Put on whatever shoes you find comfortable and walk around the block. If you can do that comfortably and that feels okay, you will have generated so many physiological benefits already. It’s really good for the human mood to get out and move around.
Do that a couple of days in a row, and then do it twice.  Call it going for a walk, it doesn’t have to be quote-unquote exercise, or training. It’s almost certain that you will feel better and you will have reduced your risk about 20% for diabetes, heart disease, dementia, cancer and premature death of all types. That requires no training, equipment or monetary investment. It could make an enormous difference in American public health if we can convince people that very small amounts of activity can change your life.
(MORE: Study: A 20% ‘Fat Tax’ Would Improve Public Health)
Maia Szalavitz is a health writer at Find her on Twitter at @maiasz. You can also continue the discussion on TIME Healthland’s Facebook page and on Twitter at

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