Posts Tagged ‘health’

 Anyone who’s ever suffered from sciatic nerve pain knows it’s a real pain in the butt—literally. And If you’re dealing with a flare up, these simple moves can help by targeting one of the most common causes: Piriformis Syndrome. “This happens when the piriformis, a small muscle deep in your hips, becomes tight and compresses the sciatic nerve, often leading to burning pain and numbness on one side of your butt and down the back of your leg,” says Chicago-based physical therapist David Reavy. And it’s not just the piriformis that needs a little TLC: Tight hip flexors compound the problem by making the piriformis muscles work harder, causing it to tighten and pinch the sciatic nerve. “That’s why it’s so important to stretch, stretch, stretch the hips—once you release the piriformis muscle, you take the pressure off the nerve, which can lessen the pain and keep it from coming back. Foam rolling the hip rotator can also help to release some of that tension and minimize pain.”sciatic nerve pain

Start by doing these moves at least 3 times a week. Once you’ve gotten rid of the pain, keep doing the exercises at least once a week to keep it from coming back.Reclined Pigeon With Prep Stretch

 Lie face-down and bend your knees so your heels are right under your knees. Take your hands to the front of your thighs, slide them to the root of the leg where it meets your pelvis, and push the heel of each hand into the bottom of the leg bone. Lift your right leg up and cross over the left. With a small curve in your back, grab the back of your thighs and push your legs into your hands, away from your face. Hold for several deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.

Reclining Cow’s Face Pose

 Lie face-up and cross your left leg over your right. Raise both legs off the floor, flex both feet, and reach up for the outer ankles, hugging your legs toward your belly. Spread your toes, keep your feet flexed, and hold your legs in for several breaths. Slowly switch to the other side and repeat.

Low Lunge

Start in a runner’s lunge, right leg forward with knee over ankle and left knee on ground with top of your foot flat on the mat. Slowly lift torso and rest hands lightly on right thigh. Lean hips forward slightly, keeping right knee behind toes, and feel the stretch in the left hip flexor. Hold here, or for a deeper stretch, raise arms overhead, biceps by ears. Hold for at least 30 seconds, then repeat on opposite side.

Pigeon

Start in a runner’s lunge with right leg forward, right knee over right ankle and back leg straight. Walk right foot over toward left hand, then drop right shin and thigh to the floor, making sure to keep right knee in line with right hip. Allow left leg to rest on the floor with top of left foot facing down. Take a moment to square your hips to the front of the room. Hold here, or hinge at hips and lower torso toward floor, allowing head to rest on forearms. Hold for at least 30 seconds, then repeat on opposite side. You want to feel a moderate stretch in the outside of the right thigh, but if this pose hurts your knees or feels too uncomfortable, stick with thread the needle.

Frog Pose

If most inner-thigh openers feel too easy (and your ankles and knees are injury-free), try Frog Pose. Get down on all fours, with palms on the floor and your knees on blankets or a mat (roll your mat lengthwise, like a tortilla, and place it under your knees for more comfort). Slowly widen your knees until you feel a comfortable stretch in your inner thighs, keeping the inside of each calf and foot in contact with the floor.  Make sure to keep your ankles in line with your knees. Lower down to your forearms. Stay here for at least 30 seconds.

Foam Roll for Hip Rotator

Sit on the foam roller with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Lean your torso back and place right hand on the floor, shifting weight into right hip and crossing right ankle over left thigh. Place your left hand on your left thigh. Use your supporting foot and hand to roll from the bottom of the glutes to the pelvic bone. Continue rolling back and forth for 30 to 60 seconds.

(Continue)

http://www.prevention.com/fitness/yoga/stretches-sciatic-nerve-pain?sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiky8zKtOPPAhXIyyYKHU39B8wQ9QEIDjAA

Advertisements

The Physiology of Fat Loss

by: Len Kravitz, PhD , Christine Mermier, PhD and Mike Deyhle

From the fat cell to the fat furnace, find out exactly what causes the body to burn fat.

Fat may seem like the enemy of civilized people—especially sedentary ones. Yet we cannot live without it.Fat plays a key role in the structure and flexibility of cell membranes, and it helps regulate the movement of substances through those membranes. Special types of fat, known as eicosanoids, send hormone-like signals that exert intricate control over many bodily systems, mostly those affecting inflammation or immune function.

Of course, the best-known function of fat is as an energy reserve. Fat has more than twice the energy-storage capacity of carbohydrate (9 calories per gram vs. 4 calories per gram). It has been estimated that lean adult men store about 131,000 calories in fat (Horowitz & Klein 2000), enough energy to keep the average person alive for about 65 days.

For fitness professionals, the prime concern arises when the body’s fat-storage function works too well, hoarding unwanted fat that makes people unhealthy and self-conscious about their appearance. Understanding how fat travels through the body can help personal trainers work with clients to reduce excess body fat and improve athletic performance.

The Journey of a Fatty Acid to Muscle

THE ADIPOCYTE

p38 ImageFat resides primarily in designated fat-storage cells called adipocytes. Most adipocytes are just under the skin (subcutaneous fat) and in regions surrounding (and protecting) vital organs (visceral fat). Nearly all fat in adipocytes exists in the form of triacylglycerols (TAGs or triglycerides). Each TAG consists of a backbone (glycerol) with three fatty-acid tails (see Figure 1).

Depending on energy supply and demand, adipocytes can either store fat from the blood or release fat back to the blood. After we eat, when the energy supply is high, the hormone insulin keeps fatty acids inside the adipocytes (Duncan et al. 2007). After a few hours of fasting or (especially) during exercise, insulin levels tend to drop (see Figure 2), while levels of other hormones—such as epinephrine (adrenaline)—increase.

When epinephrine binds to adipocytes, TAG stores go through a process called lipolysis (Duncan et al. 2007), which separates fatty acids from their glycerol backbone. After lipolysis, fatty acids and glycerol can leave the adipocytes and enter the blood.

p39 ImageFatty Acids in the Blood

Because fat does not easily dissolve in water, it needs a carrier protein to keep it evenly suspended in the water-based environment of the blood. The primary protein carrier for fat in the blood is albumin (Holloway et. al. 2008). One albumin protein can carry multiple fatty acids through the blood to muscle cells (Horowitz & Klein 2000). In the very small blood vessels (capillaries) surrounding the muscle, fatty acids can be removed from albumin and taken into the muscle (Holloway et al. 2008).

Fatty Acids Going From the Blood Into Muscle

Fatty acids must cross two barriers to get from the blood into the muscle. The first is the cell lining of the capillary (called the endothelium), and the second is the muscle-cell membrane (known as the sarcolemma). Fatty-acid movement across these barriers was once thought to be extremely rapid and unregulated (Holloway et al. 2008). More recent research has shown that this process is not nearly as fast as once thought and that the presence of special binding proteins is required at the endothelium and sarcolemma for fatty acids to pass through (Holloway et al. 2008). Two proteins that are important for fatty-acid transport into the muscle cells are FAT/CD36 and FABPpm.

Two Fates of Fat Inside Muscle

Once fat is inside the muscle, a molecule called coenzyme A (CoA) is added to the fatty acids (Holloway et al. 2008). CoA is a transport protein that maintains the inward flow of fatty acids entering the muscle and prepares the fatty acid for one of two fates:

  • oxidation (in which electrons are removed from a molecule) to produce energy or
  • storage within the muscle (Holloway et al. 2008; Shaw, Clark & Wagenmakers 2010)

The majority (80%) of fatty acids entering the muscle during exercise are oxidized for energy, while most fatty acids entering the muscle after a meal are repackaged into TAGs and stored in the muscle in lipid droplets (Shaw, Clark & Wagenmakers, 2010). Fatty acids stored in muscle are called intramyocellular triacylglycerols (IMTAGs) or intramuscular fat.

There are two to three times more IMTAGs stored in slow twitch muscle fibers (the slow oxidative fibers) than there are in fast-twitch muscle fibers (Shaw, Clark & Wagenmakers 2010). Shaw and colleagues note that even though this IMTAG supply makes up only a fraction (1%–2%) of the total fat stores within the body, it is of great interest to exercise physiologists because it is a metabolically active fatty-acid substrate especially used during periods of increased energy expenditure, such as endurance exercise.

Fatty Acids Burned for Energy

Fatty acids burned for energy (oxidized) in the muscle can come either directly from the blood or from IMTAG stores. For fatty acids to be oxidized, they must be transported into the cells’ mitochondria (see Figure 3). A mitochondrion is an organelle that functions like a cellular power plant; it processes fatty acids (and other fuels) to create a readily usable energy currency (ATP) in order to meet the energy needs of a muscle cell.

Most fatty acids are transported into the mitochondria via the carnitine shuttle (Holloway et al. 2008), which uses two enzymes and carnitine (an amino acid-like molecule) to do the transporting. One of these enzymes is called carnitine palmitoyltransferase I (CPT1). CPT1 may work with one of the same proteins (FAT/CD36) used to bring fatty acids into the muscle cells from the blood (Holloway et al. 2008). Once inside the mitochondria, fatty acids are broken down through several enzymatic pathways—including beta-oxidation, the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and the electron transport chain—to produce ATP.

Fatty-Acid Oxidation During a Single Bout of Exercise

At the start of exercise, more blood flows to adipose tissue and muscle (Horowitz & Klein 2000), releasing more fatty acids from adipose tissue and delivering more fatty acids to the muscle.

Exercise intensity has a great impact on fat oxidation.We burn the most fat when exercising at low to moderate intensity—that is, when oxygen consumption is between 25% and 60% of maximum (Horowitz & Klein 2000). At very low exercise intensities (25% VO2max), most of the fatty acids used during exercise come from the blood (Achten & Jeukendrup 2004). As exercise increases to moderate intensity (around 60% of VO2max), most of the fatty acids oxidized appear to come from IMTAG stores (Horowitz & Klein 2000).

p39 ImageAt higher exercise intensities (>70% VO2max), total fat oxidation falls below the levels observed at moderate intensity (Horowitz & Klein 2000). This reduction in fatty-acid oxidation is coupled with an increase in carbohydrate breakdown to meet the energy demands of the exercise (Horowitz & Klein 2000).

We often overemphasize the fatty-acid contribution to calories burned during a bout of exercise. It’s also important to consider recovery from a bout of exercise, as well as training adaptations to repeated bouts, if you’re helping clients meet their fat-loss goals.

(Continue)

Food Frauds That Can Wreck Your Diet

Food Fraud: Caesar Salad

Some foods that we think are healthy can be sneaky little diet wreckers. University of Pittsburgh nutritionist Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, shares a few of these “food frauds,” starting with Caesar salad. Just a small bowl has 300-400 calories and 30 grams of fat, thanks to loads of dressing.

Food Fix: Use only 1 Tbs. dressing and 2 Tbs. tangy, Parmesan cheese.

smoothie

Food Fraud: Fresh Smoothies

That “healthy” berry blend at a smoothie shop can have a whopping 80 grams of sugar, 350 calories or more, little protein, and often no fresh fruit. Fruit “concentrates” are often used instead of fresh fruit. And sorbet, ice cream, and sweeteners can make these no better than a milkshake.

Food Fix: Get the “small” cup. Ask for fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt, milk, or protein powder to blend in protein and good nutrition.

(Read More)

Eating healthy can be harder than you think, thanks to an enterprising food industry that wants us to consume more than we need. That’s because our country’s agricultural system produces twice what most people require, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. This encourages creative marketing to unload the excess, much of it with minimal nutritional value. As a nutrition consultant, I know that words such as “low fat,” “high fiber,” “multigrain” and “natural” can fool even the most sophisticated customers into believing what they’re buying is healthful. So what can you do? First, make a habit of reading the ingredients list, not just the Nutrition Facts panel. And remember the following products worth resisting.

Reduced-fat peanut butter

All fats are not created equal

  

The oil is the healthiest part of a nut, containing most of the nutrients, so there’s no advantage to taking it out. In fact, it’s worse because it robs the peanut butter of its health benefits. “Reduced-fat peanut butter has as many calories and more sugar than the regular,” says Bonnie Liebman, nutrition director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Instead: Buy regular peanut butter. Eating one or two ounces of nuts daily is associated with reductions in heart disease and cancer risk. A recent Harvard Study showed that eating nuts is associated with lower body weights.

Enhanced water

Drinks such as Vitaminwater are essentially sugary drinks with a vitamin pill. They are “unequivocally harmful to health,” says Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health. “Whether vitamins dissolved in water have any benefit will depend on who you are and whether you are already getting enough. . . . Some people may be getting too much of some vitamins and minerals if they add vitamin water on top of fortified foods and other supplements.” A recent Iowa Women’s Health Study found an association between certain commonly used vitamin and mineral supplements and increased death rates.

Instead: Drink water, ideally from the tap (“Eau du Potomac,” as it’s known locally). It’s the best drink for hydrating your body, is naturally calorie-free and contains fluoride to prevent tooth decay. No supplement matches the nutrients in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains.

Energy bars

The reputation of these bars, also known as meal replacement bars, is that they are healthy, aid in weight loss or help build muscle. In fact, they are calorie bombs: candy bars with vitamins, protein or fiber added. For most of them, sugar is either the first (predominant) or second ingredient.

Instead: Snack on fruit or veggies for weight loss and yogurt for muscle gain. If you’re hiking a long distance and want a healthful, nonperishable calorie bomb, try nuts and dried fruit.

Multigrain foods

Multigrain breads, crackers and cereals are often the most confusing foods. People see “multigrain” and think “whole grain.” That’s not necessarily so. This is an important distinction because people who eat whole grains have a lower incidence of diabetes, heart disease and cancers, and are less likely to be overweight compared with those who eat refined grains. Note that when “enriched wheat flour” is listed in the ingredients, that’s refined flour.

Instead: Be sure a whole grain, such as whole wheat, whole oats or brown rice, is the first and preferably the only grain in the ingredient list. A great example is a cereal listing whole rolled oats as the only grain. Alternatively, consider an egg for breakfast. “The huge amounts of refined starch and sugar that many people eat for breakfast, often thinking that this is the healthy choice, does far more damage to their well-being than an egg,” says Harvard’s Willett.

Non-fried chips and crackers

It’s easy to believe these foods are healthful because of labels such as “baked,” “low fat” or “gluten free.” But most are made with refined grain or starch, which provide plenty of calories and few nutrients. Popchips, for example, are a new product marketed as healthful. But the ingredients are highly refined potato flakes, starch, oil, salt and about 14 additional things. Pita chips, made with white flour, oil, salt and several more ingredients, are no better. To boot, research shows that too much refined grains and starches increases the risk for heart disease, cancers, diabetes and weight gain.

Instead: Try Wasa or Finn Crisp Original Rye crackers. They’re 100 percent whole grain and have little sodium. If you’d like a chip, try Terra Chips, made with sliced vegetables, or even a 100 percent whole grain chip fried in a healthy oil, such as olive or canola. Tortilla chips and SunChips are two examples. “Now that trans fats have been removed from most cooking oils, the healthiest part of potato chips is the fat,” Willett says. “And chips made of whole grains rather than potatoes, like Frito-Lay’s SunChips, can legitimately be considered a health food,” so long as you keep to the one-ounce serving size.

Tallmadge is a registered dietitian and the author of “Diet Simple” (LifeLine Press, 2011).

(Read Full Article)

 

 

Nearly everyone has the desire to be more healthy. No big secret that one of the principle elements to this is how you eat. Eat better, and you’ll feel better. Feel better, and you’ll be more on top of it. Be more on top of it, and you’ll perform better at work. Perform better at work, and you’ll succeed more. This isn’t rocket science folks…which leads us to the first point….

1) Don’t treat eating better like it’s rocket science. KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid. Stay away from complex diet plans. Eat simple quality. Avoid elaborate calorie counts, carb counts, special meal timings, etc., as all make staying on course difficult.

2) No Franken-foods. Author Michael Pollan put it best with a few simple adages: “Don’t eat anything that your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food,” and “Is it food, or is it food-like?” Go deeper with Pollan’s easy guide Food Rules http://michaelpollan.com/books/food-rules/

3) Eat Only Ethical Meat, And Eat Less Of It. Corn-fed beef is like “fine Corinthian leather,” in that it’s an attribute manufactured by an ethically-challenged marketer. Corinthian leather, was a term that was both meaningless and harmless. In the case of corn-fed beef, it is neither. Actual cows were designed by mother nature to eat grass, not corn, and have to be pumped full of antibiotics to keep them alive on such an unnatural corn-based diet. The factory-based system of meat production has countless other challenges. Eat only naturally-raised, grass fed/grass finished beef, and other “ethical meats.”

4) Give up soda. Start today. All soda, including energy drinks. Not just that bad HFCS stuff, but also the stuff that contains the ‘natural’ sugars and sweeteners. Diet stuff too. Quick, before you tell yourself you can’t, resolve to chuck it, and chuck it now. Cold turkey. You are stronger than it, and you know it. So prove it. So, now where to get the caffeine? For some, black coffee is love at first sight. For others, it’s an acquired taste. So acquire it already. Or, go for alternatives that many folks feel are superior for you and the environment, specifically teas, or my preference yerba maté. With any of the above, treat yourself to quality. Don’t sweeten it. In just a few days, you’ll acquire the taste and enjoy it for the rest of your (now longer) life. Do NOT replace your soda with nearly-equally-iffy substitutes like flavored waters, and pre-sweetened bottled coffee/teas/mate.

(Read More)

Common health issues that can be positively affected, prevented or controlled by exercise.

People of all ages can improve the quality of their lives and reduce the risks of developing coronary heart disease, hypertension, some cancers and type 2 diabetes with ongoing participation in moderate physical activity and exercise. Daily exercise will also enhance one’s mental well-being and promote healthy musculoskeletal function throughout life. Although habitual physical activity is an attainable goal on the path to a healthier life, more than half of U.S. adults do not get ≥ 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day at least 5 days per week (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] 2007a).

A formidable challenge facing many personal fitness trainers (PFTs) and other health and fitness professionals is finding new ways of motivating people to improve their well-being through consistent participation in physical activity and exercise. As indicated, significant health benefits can be obtained by engaging in moderate amounts of physical activity on most, and preferably all, days of the week (American College of Sports Medicine [ACSM] 2006). Fitness programs involving progressively increasing intensities of exercise will elicit even greater cardioprotective benefits (Swain & Franklin 2006). There is a growing understanding of how certain levels of physical activity may positively affect cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, respiratory and endocrine function, as well as mental health. This article sums up the evidence on 25 significant benefits linking physical activity to health enhancement. Some of the benefits have been grouped together because of their physiological or metabolic associations.

1. Cardiovascular Disease

The leading health-related cause of mortality for men and women in the U.S. is cardiovascular disease (ACSM 2006). Meaningful cardiovascular health benefits may be attained with long-term participation in cardiovascular exercise. How much exercise is enough? ACSM sought to address that question properly last year when it updated its stance on the recommended quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, and flexibility, in healthy adults (ACSM 2006) (see the sidebar “New 2006 ACSM Position Stand on General Exercise Programming” below). Higher levels of cardiovascular fitness are associated with a 50% reduction in CVD risk in men (Myers et al. 2004). Myers and colleagues demonstrated that increasing physical activity to a total of at least 1,000 kilocalories per week is associated with a 20% reduction of mortality in men. Hu and colleagues (2004) showed that physically inactive middle-aged women (engaging in less than 1 hour of exercise per week) doubled their risk of mortality from CVD compared with their physically active female counterparts. It should be emphasized that Haskell (2003) notes that CVD is a multifactor process and that “not smoking, being physically active, eating a heart-healthy diet, staying reasonably lean and avoiding stress and depression are the major components of an effective CVD prevention program.”

2–4. Diabetes, Insulin Sensitivity and Glucose Metabolism

Diabetes has reached endemic proportions, affecting 170 million individuals worldwide (Stumvoll, Goldstein & van Haeften 2005). One unfortunate health consequence of physical inactivity is the weakening of the body’s insulin regulatory mechanisms. Elevated insulin and blood glucose levels are characteristic features involved in the development of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. When insulin function starts breaking down, the body’s blood sugar levels rise, leading eventually to the onset of “prediabetes” and then type 2 diabetes. Diabetes incidence is growing among youth and adults, largely as a result of obesity and inactivity. Regular aerobic exercise meaningfully increases insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, which means the body’s cells can more efficiently transport glucose into the cells of the liver, muscle and adipose tissue (Steyn et al. 2004). Improvements in glucose metabolism with strength training, independent of alterations in aerobic capacity or percent body fat, have also been shown (Pollock et al. 2001). Although the mechanisms for improvement are not fully understood, it appears that both resistance training and aerobic exercise offer a strong protective role in the prevention of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

(Continue)

Committing to living well does cost more money than swooping through the drive-thru for a $1 burger. Nevertheless, when it comes to improving your health, shelling out extra money is worth the long-term benefits–unless you’re paying for healthy benefits that you’re not actually getting. Here are some healthy moves, that while well-intentioned, might be a waste of your money.

Buying Foods Labeled Antibiotic-free

According to the site Greener Choices, the food label “antibiotic-free” is completely meaningless. In fact, the USDA has banned its use on meat and poultry products. While similar labels with terms such as, “no antibiotics administered” or “raised without antibiotics” are allowed, there is no USDA verification system in place to ensure that the claim is valid. A better bet for your budget is to stick to meats labeled as “Certified Organic.” You may pay more for these foods, but producers go through a stringent process to earn the right to use the label.

Splurging on 100% Vegetarian

According to the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), “flexitarians” (consumers who are have not completely resolved to a vegetarian lifestyle, but make an effort to reduce their consumption of animal derived products) make up a quickly growing consumer group.  To target this demographic, mass-market producers such as Kraft, General Mills and ConAgra foods have launched their own vegetarian lines that carry a label indicating as such.

The problem? Vegetarian lifestyles come in many forms: Some avoid meat, fish and poultry, but eat dairy and egg products. Others avoid all animal products, including honey. Furthermore, there is no governing body that regulates the “vegetarian” claim. Unless you buy products labeled “Certified Vegan,” which are verified by Vegan Action (a company that certifies vegan products based on documentation from manufacturers), the “vegetarian” label can mean any number of things.

(Continue)