Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Interesting research I found this week

Most pediatricians under-diagnose overweight kids.

A new study published in the January issue of the Journal Pediatrics shows just one-third of children who are overweight or obese actually receive that diagnosis by their pediatrician. Researchers reviewed BMI measurements recorded for 60,711 2-18 year olds which showed that 19% of the children were overweight, 23% obese, and 8% severely obese. While 76% of severely obese children and 54% of obese children were diagnosed – just 10% of the overweight children received a proper diagnosis. “Despite having set pediatric BMI guidelines, this is a bit of a wake-up call to pediatricians that as many as 90% of overweight children are not being properly diagnosed,” said David C. Kaelber, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., lead author of the study. “Better identification of this group of children who have just crossed into the ‘unhealthy’ weight category is essential for early intervention which will hopefully prevent not only a childhood of increased health problems, but also what now often becomes an ongoing battle through adulthood with life-long issues.”

Speed circulation to your brain to fight Alzheimer's

LONDON (Reuters) - A slow, chronic reduction of blood sugar to the brain could trigger some forms of Alzheimer's disease, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.
The study of human and mice brains suggests a reduction of blood flow deprives energy to the brain, setting off a process that ultimately produces the sticky clumps of protein researchers believe is a cause of the disease. Scientists found that a protein called elF2alpha is altered when the brain does not get enough energy. This boosts production of an enzyme that in turn flips a switch to produce the sticky protein clumps. The finding could lead to strategies such as exercise, reducing cholesterol and managing blood pressure to keep Alzheimer's at bay.

Another study shows importance of protein after exercise.

Recovery from exercise is enhanced with carbohydrate-protein drink vs. a carbohydrate only drink. Adding protein to the formula immediately after exercise dramatically increases fat oxidation and speeds recovery. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2008, 5:24doi:10.1186/1550-2783-5-24

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Interesting Research

I found some interesting research this week! I'll talk about a lot of it tonight on the X Gym radio show on KVI AM 570 at 5 pm.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition gave some support to past studies finding that breakfast eaters are less likely to be overweight -- and that eating a high-quality breakfast (especially protein), rather than grabbing a pastry, is the key.

The Food and Drug Administration has finally approved the use of two new zero-calorie sweeteners made from the stevia plant. Coca-Cola and other companies plan to introduce drinks sweetened with stevia-based products. Coca-Cola Co. is expected to launch a drink in the U.S. this week containing a natural, calorie-free sweetener, intensifying a race with PepsiCo Inc. to dominate a new generation of noncarbonated beverages. Stevia has been used in Paraguay for centuries and in Japan for decades, and until now, it has been available in the United States only as a nutritional supplement.

People tend to either love or loathe yoga poses like Pigeon. Regardless of which camp you inhabit, keep in mind that Pigeon can help safeguard your precious knees and low back and make myriad poses infinitely more pleasant. Here's a look at the tremendous benefits of hip openers. Open hips can mean less back pain. Tight hip flexors pull your pelvis forward and exaggerate the curve in your lower back. Picture your entire pelvis as a bowl of water spilling toward your toes, with the back side of the bowl raised up. When your lumbar becomes shortened, you're likely to feel compression and discomfort over time. You'll notice it in your poses, too. If your hip flexors are short in a pose like Warrior I or Camel, your lower back will overdo the arch, and you'll feel pain. Open hip flexors help bring the pelvis back to neutral and mitigate pain.

Exercise only (without dieting) shows fat loss comes mostly from dangerous belly fat. Women who increased their activity by 3,500 steps a day lost five pounds. Men doing the same lost 8 1/2 pounds. Participants who exercised the most decreased their belly fat by 10 percent to 20 percent. The study points up the good news: Belly fat is actually quite sensitive to exercise. “That’s where you’re most likely to lose the weight,” said David Robbins, endocrinologist and professor of medicine at KU Med in Kansas City. “These fat cells shut off very quickly.” But even a small weight loss shuts down some very dangerous signals from belly fat cells, the kind that put people at risk of disease, Robbins said. “So even losing five to 10 pounds can have a disproportionate benefit to your health,” he said.

Phenol Power
Cinnamon and cinnamon sticks were clear standouts for healthy spices in a recent test, not only because of their total antioxidant ranking but also because they scored high marks for phenolics -- health-protective compounds credited with thwarting cell-damaging processes in the body. Cinnamon phenols in particular may also help bring down blood sugar. Ground or stick, sprinkled or stirred -- cinnamon packs an antioxidant wallop. Cinnamon is used in many of the recipes on the X Gym website at www.xgym.com/hardbodcafe.htm so check it out!

High blood levels of vitamin C could cut stroke risk by as much as 42 percent and reduce your odds of developing type 2 diabetes by a whopping 62 percent. That’s exactly what happened in two recent studies involving middle-aged and older adults. As blood levels of C went up, risks went down. Researchers suspect that the vitamin’s strong antioxidant qualities may be the reason for its protective effects. And there’s no better way to raise your blood levels of C than to start filling your body with C-rich winter foods like broccoli and other dark greens!

A new study found that overweight men and women burned more post-meal fat when they ate a high-protein breakfast and lunch than when they had lower-protein meals. The added protein seemed to modify the fat-burning deficit seen in heavy individuals.
This isn't the only study to show the metabolic benefits of high protein. A large number of other studies have also suggested that high-protein diets may help people shed weight more easily. [Nutrition & Dietetics June 5, 2008; 65(4): 246-52]

Turns out people who regularly quench their thirsts with water consume a whopping 9 percent fewer daily calories than non-water drinkers. Not only do water drinkers seem to drink fewer sugary and calorie-heavy beverages (like eggnog, mulled wine, and champagne), but they also have healthier eating habits overall, according to a recent study. [Water and food consumption patterns of U.S. adults from 1999 to 2001. Popkin, B.M., et al., Obesity Research 2005 Dec;13(12):2146-2152]

In a study, people who ate at least 27 grams of fiber per day had better lung capacity than people who got less than 10 grams. The high-fiber eaters were also 15 percent less likely to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, an irreversible lung condition that makes it hard to breathe. Fiber may protect lungs by reducing tissue-damaging inflammation. The antioxidants in fiber probably help protect lung cells, too. [Dietary fiber, lung function, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in the atherosclerosis risk in communities study. Kan, H., et al., American Journal of Epidemiology 2008 Mar 1;167(5):570-578]

Remember to filter your water! Tap water has too much fluoride, and now researchers are finding this chemical may be partly responsible for early onset puberty in girls.
Up until the 1990s, no research had ever been conducted to determine the impact of fluoride on the pineal gland -- a small gland located between the two hemispheres of the brain that regulates the production of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate the onset of puberty and helps protect the body from cell damage caused by free radicals. It is now known -- thanks to the meticulous research of Dr. Jennifer Luke from the University of Surrey in England -- that the pineal gland is the primary target of fluoride accumulation within your body. After finding that the pineal gland is a major target for fluoride accumulation in humans, Dr. Luke conducted animal experiments to determine if the accumulated fluoride could impact the functioning of the gland -- particularly the gland's regulation of melatonin. Luke found that animals treated with fluoride had lower levels of circulating melatonin, as reflected by reduced levels of melatonin metabolites in the animals' urine. This reduced level of circulating melatonin was accompanied -- as might be expected -- by an earlier onset of puberty in the fluoride-treated female animals.

According to neuroscientists, obesity gradually numbs the taste sensation of rats to sweet foods, and drives them to consume larger and sweeter meals. There is apparently a critical link between taste and body weight. The researchers implanted electrodes in the rodents' brains to record the firing of nerve cells when the rats' tongues were exposed to various tastes. The obese rats had about 50 percent fewer neurons firing when their tongues were exposed to sucrose, suggesting that they have become desensitized to sucrose.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Would You Listen To a Chubby Trainer?

One of my pet peeves is seeing an overweight personal trainer or deconditioned aerobics instructor telling other people how to get in shape. Would you take investment advice from someone who is broke, or hire a chain smoker as your running coach?
It makes about as much sense to hire an out of shape fitness expert, but they are everywhere! Educationally deficient trainers abound as well. In this state, a license is required to cut your hair, but to treat your back pain and guide you in correct exercise form, all it takes is the ability to sweet talk you out of your hard-earned money.
Believe it or not, in economic downturns, people turn to exercise and local fitness experts more often than in strong economies. People look to invest their money in themselves instead of an unpredictable market. They also need to burn off the stress that comes with uncertainly and they seem to instinctively know that exercise is the best antidote.
If you are looking for a personal trainer or someone to get fitness advice from, first make sure they walk what they talk. If they can’t convince themselves to follow proper nutrition and exercise habits, they will suck even more at motivating you.
Looking good isn’t enough however. Make sure they have some classroom time in fitness and nutrition and not just a certification. Most “certified” personal trainers just ordered a text book, read it over the weekend, and then showed up in some hotel conference room to sit for the test when that agency happened to be in town.
This is better than nothing, but the next step up is a trade school or an organized program that offers an actual course with hands-on training. These usually take 4 months to a year and include lectures, teachers, videos, and practical experience. The next step up from there is a college degree, but trainers with those are pretty rare.
Most X Gym trainers do in fact have a college degree in an exercise field, so we are a very safe bet. I don’t want to brag or turn this into an infomercial either, but we are also in fantastic shape. We even won 12 of the 14 medals presented at the WAMU tower stair climb for Cystic Fibrosis on December 4th and reset many records that stood for years prior. Our members got in on it too, helping to win some of those medals, and when all was said and done, 14 of our 19 team members placed in their top 10 for their age groups.
If your trainer doesn’t inspire you to do crazy stuff like run up 56 floor buildings in under 8 minutes, or can’t motivate you to just get moving again, you need to find one who does. Look up local trainers and interview them. Get a free workout and try as many as you want before you make your decision, because it’s an important one and it’s your money.
Their personality and teaching style should be a match too. If you don’t like them on your first impression, you probably won’t grow to like them later, and then might be stuck in a “package deal” with a bunch of workouts to finish up. If you find one who you respond to and produces constant results, you have found a gold mine! If you plateau however, or find yourself spinning your wheels, you might as well put that money back into the market. At least there you will have some unpredictability and something positive might happen!