Archive for Did You Know?, nutrition
Nightshade vegetables include eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes and peppers.
But while they have many antioxidants and phytonutrients, for those who have arthritis, acne, allergies and chronic low-grade inflammation, these same veggies of the night may worsen or even be the cause of the inflamed state.
Not all nightshade vegetables are created equal, however. We can break them down into two categories: Capsicum (peppers) and Solanum (potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant).
Many of us eat large amounts of nightshades and enjoy their nutrients without apparent negative side effects, yet there are some who’ve found that diets containing no nightshades have brought them relief from certain symptoms. Many claim tomatoes and arthritis are related, for instance. It has become popular for doctors and nutritionists to suggest those suffering from arthritis do a trial elimination of the Solanaceae family, along with other known inflammation-causing foods.
But in academic research, the majority of dietary studies on nightshades have also involved the elimination of other foods known to cause inflammation (such as dairy and gluten), making it hard to know exactly what’s causing the problem – even if the elimination diet works.
Bottom line: If you’re an individual who suffers from chronic inflammation, eliminating nightshade vegetables is at least worth a shot.
Studies show that eating a small amount of dark chocolate 2-3 times per week can help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, decrease blood clot formation and prevent arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). And according to Cindy, dark chocolate is healthy for more than just the heart.
I think we all know by now that fruit juices like OJ are pretty high in sugar and a far second to eating an actual piece of fruit. But did you know that even “100% orange juice” really isn’t?
According to THIS REPORT, there’s also something else you may not want in your OJ…
Apparently, the only way orange juice companies like Tropicana can make consistently tasty OJ that lasts on shelves is by first removing oxygen from the juice to prevent spoilage. But this process also removes the natural flavor of the oranges, so they then dump artificial flavoring made by perfume companies back into the juice.
It may be made “not from concentrate,” but made from perfume isn’t much better!
Let’s Move over Michelle Obama!
10-year-old CJ Senter is on his own mission to end childhood obesity. While some youth are downing ding dongs and dying of blood clots due to sedentary behavior like playing video games, CJ (a.k.a., “The Workout Kid”) is shunning sweets in favor of vegetables, launching websites and making exercise videos to motivate his peers to get physical. Check it out:
Now, I’m sure some of you will say he’s too young to be training and should just be playing sports (which he does – baseball, basketball, football and track, to be exact), while others will think his parents are exploiting his athleticism in an effort to make money. There are likely even more that will say a 10-year-old fitness instructor only encourages more mockery of our industry.
Okay, I admit this probably won’t help us set a standard. But aside from CJ’s lack of experience and credentials, and some questionable plank form… I think what he’s doing is great. I just hope he’s not too upset when he finds out he didn’t actually invent “The Shredder” (a.k.a., the burpee)!
Let’s face it: Rebellious youth are way more likely to listen to this kid than some adult, especially a mother-figure like Michelle Obama (no offense), no matter how buff her arms look. If his exercise video gets a few more kids off the couch, it’s a little harder to dismiss as an insult, and I’m all for it.
What does everyone else think?
Summer’s in full swing and, with the humidity, the temperature outside can easily feel like it’s in the triple digits. (In many places, it has been, with a dangerously high heat index and numerous cases of heat stroke.) But did you know that consuming certain foods during this heat wave can make you cool?
Cindy did! Here’s what she has to say about the foods to eat to beat the heat:
In order to digest heavy, greasy foods (e.g., burgers, fries, pizza, hot dogs…), your body must generate a lot of heat. This is why you’re likely to feel sluggish and uncomfortable after consuming these types of foods on a smokin’ hot day. A simple way to cool off is to eat leaner, easy-to-digest foods like fruit or salad. Produce is great hot-weather food because it takes very little effort for your body to digest, and less effort means less heat. And here’s an added bonus: Because fruits and vegetables are cool to begin with, they also don’t raise your body’s temperature the way hot food will. Hot, spicy food is an exception, and eating foods like chili peppers can actually keep you cool as well.
You see, the first way the body gets rid of excess heat is through perspiration. (Blood absorbs the extra heat in our systems and eliminates it through our sweat ducts). As sweat evaporates off the skin, the heat goes with it – so to cool off, you actually want to eat foods that make you sweat. You may notice that many cultures existing in hot climates often cook a lot of hot, spicy foods (e.g., curry in India, jerk chicken in Jamaica and chili in Thailand); well, this is why.
Hot peppers are all-stars when it comes to inducing perspiration, due to their high levels of capsicum – the substance that causes the body to sweat. (The hotter the pepper, the more the capsicum.) So if you haven’t done so already, you should consider acquiring a taste for jalapenos and other hot peppers to stay cooler in hot weather.
But if you can’t handle their heat, have no fear: There are alternatives you can consume to stay cool, such as diuretics. Diuretics are substances that make your body get rid of fluids through increased urination; they come mostly in liquid form (e.g., apple cider vinegar, caffeine, cranberry juice and coconut water). Beware, however, that diuretics can also cause you to be dehydrated, so you should constantly drink water as well, especially when you’re overheated.
The thickness of your blood and the speed at which it circulates are also factors that affect how hot or cold you feel. The thinner your blood, the more easily it circulates through your body and the cooler you feel. Foods that are natural blood thinners include cayenne pepper, ginger, cinnamon and vinegar.
Who would have thunk a few dietary interventions could make you cooler?!
A brief look at why we need fat, according to Cindy Hwang:
Your body requires high-quality fats to stay healthy. Fats provide long-lasting energy, support the production of hormones, protect our vital organs and are needed to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E and K. They also help us lose weight.
Cell membranes are made from fats, and a good balance of healthy fats and oils allows your body to create strong, flexible cell membranes that can efficiently receive nutrients and discard waste. The fats found in avocado, fish, olives, nuts, seeds and coconut have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and aid in the body’s natural ability to detoxify.
Benefits of fat:
- It provides flavor and texture to help prevent food from being bland and dry
- It helps food stay in the stomach longer, giving a greater sense of satisfaction and preventing hunger and cravings
- It may help your body produce endorphins (natural substances in the brain that produce pleasurable feelings)
- It provides back-up energy if blood sugar supplies run out (after 4-6 hours without food)
- It provides insulation from the heat and cold
- It surrounds nerve fibers to help transmit impulses
- It helps transport nutrients and metabolites across cell membranes
- It is a precursor to hormones and a properly-functioning immune system
This is your body without fat:
- Dry, scaly skin
- Thin hair
- Low resistance to infection
- Poor wound healing
- Loss of menstruation
- Choose unrefined oils and look for terms like “cold pressed” or “expeller pressed” on the labels
- Store healthy cooking oils in a cool, dark place and in airtight containers; this helps them from getting rancid
- Keep flax and hemp oil in the fridge, as they’re highly sensitive polyunsaturated oils that go rancid quickly
- For high-heat cooking, use grapeseed, coconut or canola oils (or butter), as they are the most stable
- For medium-heat cooking, use olive, sesame, avocado, almond, peanut, safflower or sunflower oils
- Try a oil/water combo sauté for veggies (I coined this cooking technique: “Hydra-fry”) to limit caloric intake
- Never heat or cook with flax, hemp and walnut oil; use them only to dress foods right before eating
- Discard oils that have developed a rancid smell and taste
- Avoid products with trans fats. They appear as “partially hydrogenated oil” or “vegetable shortening” in the ingredients label
In case you didn’t know, Skechers is now marketing Shape-Ups for girls…
And while there have been plenty of (legitimate) complaints that this may promote too much emphasis on aesthetics at a young age, Skechers argues that they’re really promoting a healthy, active lifestyle.
Personally, I don’t see how telling girls that simply putting on a pair of sneakers will increase their fitness level promotes healthy living any more than it does when we tell this to older populations… That, plus Shape-Ups don’t actually do what they claim!
Anyway, it’s an interesting debate, and you can read more about it here.
Sounds pretty bad when you put it that way, huh?
Required licensure for personal trainers is a hot topic of debate right now. Check out this podcast interview with Dr. Carol Garber (my advisor at Columbia and the new VP of ACSM) on the current and future states of the fitness industry.
Along with showers and tax day, National Education Month comes in April. That said, today’s post is from fitness educator Angela Corcoran, founder of Corcoran Fitness and Director of the Focus Personal Training Institute. You can learn more about Angela’s own education here.
April is National Education Month. Reflecting on my own educational journey, I am often surprised that I have really always been a student, and at how important I feel education is in the fields of Exercise Science and Personal Training.
The advances in science during this decade have been unprecedented. The discovery of the FTO gene has changed the way we view obesity, and biomarkers of cancer have shown to be controllable through exercise. In fact, new evidence suggests that most diseases can be prevented or controlled through exercise. A recent article published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR) entitled, The Effect of Different Volumes of Acute Resistance Exercise on Elderly Individuals with Treated Hypertension, suggests that high-volume resistance training can reduce systolic blood pressure in elderly individuals with treated hypertension. When I studied the effects of resistance training on hypertension in college, we thought the exact opposite was true. Goes to show how much this field can change.
The Cybex Arc Trainer is a relatively new piece of cardiovascular equipment and was recently studied at UNC-Charlotte.
As reported in the JSCR, Turner et al. compared the treadmill, elliptical cross-trainer and Arc trainer and found that VO2 values were similar on the Arc trainer and treadmill but not on the elliptical. Moreover, greater discomfort was experienced with the elliptical compared with the Arc at similar exercise intensities, suggesting that individuals with or at risk for lower-extremity joint pathology may benefit most from exercising on the Arc trainer. When I was in school, the Arc didn’t even exist.
In light of such vast changes, how can we ever function effectively in a science-centered practice without furthering our knowledge base? We can’t. Exercise Science and Personal Training are new fields that are constantly evolving. Like our close relative, Physical Therapy (officially in existence in the U.S. since 1914 but not a licensed profession until the late ‘70s, and even the ‘80s in some states), the field of Personal Training started as an unlicensed, unregulated field. Unlike Physical Therapy, however, Personal training continues to be unregulated and unlicensed in this country. As a result, personal trainers and their educators have a professional responsibility to consistently ensure their information is up to date and relevant to current practice.
~ Angela Corcoran, MS, RCEP, CSCS (PhD in progress!)
“If doctors can prescribe it, then it must be safe and effective.”
The weight loss diet of the day combines a 500-calorie-a-day meal plan with injections of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) – an FDA-approved hormone for infertility that’s legal for doctors to prescribe for weight loss.
According to this article, doctors all over the country (especially in New York City) are raking in the dough based on claims that this hormone tricks the body into a state of pregnancy and burns stored fat from unwanted areas so the imaginary fetus can get enough fuel. AND, hCG also apparently protects muscle and makes you not feel hungry while you starve yourself.
Sounds almost as good as that drug in Limitless – sign me up!
500 calories a day. That’s like one serving of corned beef and cabbage washed down with a Guinness.
And that’s about three servings right there. Big surprise that people lose weight!
But much like the traditional diet of my Irish relations (Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all!), the hCG diet isn’t exactly healthy. Aside from the dangerously low calorie intake, there are some pretty clear reasons why you shouldn’t get hCG injections for weight loss:
1. hCG is derived from the urine of pregnant women, and that’s just gross.
2. The hormone carries risks of cardiovascular troubles like blood clots; at least one patient on the diet has already had a pulmonary embolism.
3. Injections can cost upwards of $1,000.
4. The hormone has not actually been shown to increase weight loss, cause a more attractive distribution of fat or decrease hunger and discomfort from low-calorie diets.
Some doctors say it’s plausible that hCG creates a more “toned” (cringe…) body because it can induce the production of male hormones that increase muscle mass.
Putting aside for a second all the potential problems that can arise from screwing with hormones, I say no matter how many male hormones you have circulating in your body, you ain’t gaining any muscle on 500 calories a day. Period.
Bottom line: Save your money and your health. Don’t do hCG.