2007-09-30 00:00:00

Foods that Trigger Migraines

If you suffer from migraine headaches or know someone who does, you are aware of how debilitating they can be.? The severity of these headaches varies immensely.? Some people experience minor symptoms that come and go with little effect on daily life, while others find themselves locked in a quiet, dark room for days.

Many theories have been proposed to explain migraine headache, but the actual cause is not completely understood.? It was once thought that changes in the circulatory system were to blame for headaches, but recent research points the finger at the central nervous system. Even though we don’t know the exact cause of migraines, we do know that migraines can be trigger by environmental agents such as stress and food.

For many people it is a difficult task to narrow down the food that is responsible triggering their migraine. Luckily,?researchers have been able to compile a list of foods that have a higher likelihood of triggering a migraine.

The following is a list of foods that trigger migraines:

  • Cheese
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits
  • Hot dogs
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Aspartame
  • Fatty foods
  • Ice cream
  • Caffeine withdrawal
  • Alcoholic drinks, especially red wine and beer

From the previous list, it seems like one would?have little trouble avoiding the most common triggers, there is one?trigger that is not as hard to avoid.

Monosodium glutamate or MSG is known as a common ingredient in Chinese, but it is also found in other common foods such at commercial soups, soy sauce, salad dressing, frozen dinners, soup mix, croutons, stuffing andsome chips.? It can be disguised on food labels as sodium caseinate, hydrolyzed protein, or autolyzed yeast.

The best way to determine what triggers might be affecting you is to do an elimination diet.? An elimination diet involves removing the majority of foods from your diet except for a few foods that are thought to be non-allergenic.? While on the diet, foods are added periodically and the effect is measured.

Unfortunately migraines are typically multi-factorial and involve many different variables.? A food might be the trigger that is the straw that breaks the camels back, but stress might be the true underlying cause.

It is important to address the foods that trigger migraines, but don’t lose sight of the other environment triggers such as stress and physical pain.

Migraines can also be caused by life threatening conditions such as cancer or stroke, so it is important to speak with a healthcare practitioner to determine the severity of your migraines.

For more information about migraines, you can visit the National Migraine Association.

Filed under: — @ 2007-09-30 00:00:00
2007-09-27 00:00:00

Some Vitamin B Supplements Lack Significant Amounts of Vitamin.

Recently Consumer Labs (a consumer protection organization that tests supplements) released a report that identified as many of 50% of the supplements tested did not contain the amounts of B vitamins that were listed on their labels.

Each B vitamin is associated with a variety of functions. Several (B-6, B-12, and folate) have shown promise for reducing the risk of heart disease, leading to the current popularity of B complex supplements. Folate is also important in reducing birth defects of the spinal cord and is, therefore, a critical ingredient in prenatal vitamins. Niacin, when taken in very high doses, can improve cholesterol levels. Like most vitamins, B vitamins are essential ??? your body cannot make them; you must get them from your diet or from supplements. Vitamin B has also been shown to improve energy which has led to including this vitamin in the increasingly more popular energy drinks. If you are someone who has insufficient absorption in your digestive tract, you are less likely to be able to receive the required doses of vitamin B from your foods.
Due to the research showing the benefits of vitamin B supplements, these supplements have become the most popular supplements purchased by American consumers.

The following vitamin B supplements were not approved by Consumer Labs:Kirkland Signature??? B-50 Formula with 100% Folic Acid (1 tablet per day),Life Time?? Balanced B-100 Vitamin B Complex Capsules Food Allergen Free (1 capsule per day),Thorne Research Basic B Complex (1 capsule per day),Thompson?? Folic Acid 800 mcg (1 tablet per day).

Filed under: — @ 2007-09-27 00:00:00
2007-09-21 00:00:00

Baby Cribs Recalled After Three Deaths

Following article is from the Associated Press.

WASHINGTON (AP) ??? About 1 million Simplicity and Graco cribs are being recalled after three children became entrapped in their cribs and died of suffocation, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said Friday.

Two infants, a 6-month-old and a 9-month-old, died in the recalled cribs, which were sold through May 2007. A 1-year-old child died in a newer model of the cribs, which has not been recalled but is being investigated by the safety agency, CPSC officials said.

Commission spokesman Ed Kang would not comment on when or where the children died. Simplicity spokesman Joe Householder said the company will not release further details about the deaths out of respect for the families.

In all three deaths, the consumer had installed the drop-rail side of the crib upside down, the CPSC said. This creates a gapin the crib that children can slide into and suffocate.

Seven other infants have been entrapped in the cribs, according to the CPSC. There have been 55 reports of the cribs’ drop sides detaching or the hardware failing to hold the side to the crib.

Simplicity Inc., of Reading, Pa., is listed as manufacturer of all the cribs, which were made in China. The recalled cribs were sold nationwide, under the Simplicity or Graco brands, from January 1998 through May 2007. The recall involves multiple models and model numbers.

“Simplicity strives to make safe products, that is our number one priority. That’s why we worked with the CPSC to take this action,” Simplicity president Ken Waldman said in a statement.

In a separate recall in June, the commission recalled about 40,000 Nursery-in-a-Box cribs, manufactured by Simplicity, because the assembly instructions incorrectly explain how to attach the drop side.

None of the cribs that Simplicity currently supplies to stores is included in a recall, the company said in a statement.

The commission, however, cautioned consumers who have the newer versions not covered by the recall to check to make sure the drop side is installed right side up and securely attached. The newer hardware has a flexible tab at the top of the lower track and a permanent stop at the bottom. The older hardware has a flexible tab at the bottom of thelower tracks.

In an earlier Simplicity recall, a 19-month-old child in Myrtle Creek, Ore., died Jan. 6, 2006, in a crib that carried the Graco logo, the CPSC said in February 2006. Mattress support slats came out of the crib, and the child suffocated after getting trapped between the mattress and the footboard. That type of crib had been included in a December 2005 recall of about 104,000 Aspen 3 in 1 Cribs.

The company is offering free repairs for cribs with older hardware. For more information, consumers can contact Simplicity at 888-593-9274.

Filed under: — @ 2007-09-21 00:00:00
2007-08-14 00:00:00

Snacking…it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

The following article is from Cooking Light. There are some great suggestions to keep your snacking in check and options for substitutions.

When you snack, you can fill in nutritional gaps, boost your intake of fruits and vegetables, keep your mood on an even keel, and help with appetite and weight control.

Every diet offers room for treats, and there’s no reason to feel guilty about enjoying one

“There’s even evidence that spreading calories out in frequent mini-meals and snacks requires less insulin, which can reduce your risk of developing diabetes,” says David Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Yale Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Connecticut. “Snacking helps you avoid the waning of energy that comes with consuming large meals.” But when it comes to reaping all of these health benefits, every bite counts.

Snacking’s reputation hasn’t always been so rosy. “Most of the foods that have traditionally dominated as snack foods are not the healthiest choices — they provide a lot of calories without much nutrition,” says Cynthia Sass, R.D., M.P.H., a Tampa, Florida-based spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Unfortunately, many people choose snacks that derail their efforts to enhance their health — by grabbing a handful of candy at a colleague’s desk, a cookie from the coffee shop, or a bag of chips from the vending machine. And that doesn’t include the calories we might drink: People often swig high-calorie beverages with their snacks — and don’t compensate for those calories by eating less later.

Besides failing to make a major nutritional contribution to your diet, sweet or starchy high-calorie snacks are easy to overindulge in because they taste good and are often readily accessible. Eating them is often a mindless transaction; we consume the food simply because it’s there. In a study at Pennsylvania State University, researchers found that when they increased the portion size of packaged potato chips on five separate days, people naturally ate more without realizing it, consuming an additional 143 calories per day. CookingLight.com: Super snacking — your guide to smart noshing

“The danger in snacking is that it can add extra calories to your day,” Katz says. “By consuming 100 calories per day above what your body needs to maintain its weight, you can gain 10 pounds in a year.” That’s why it’s important to budget calories for snacks, perhaps by shaving some calories from your meals. If you normally consume 1,800 calories per day, you might divide that into 500 calories for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, then allow yourself two 150-calorie snacks.

Calorie control is key, particularly because people often overestimate how many calories they need in a snack. “What they eat may be closer to a small meal,” Sass says. For example, 400 calories — the amount in an average single-serving frozen meal — is nearly equal to the number of calories in a candy bar and a cola.

Sensible Snacking

Many food manufacturers have caught on to consumers’ desire for healthful snacks they can grab quickly and have begun to stock grocery-store cases, convenience stores, and airports with precut fruits and veggies, nuts, and calorie-controlled snacks in small, handy packages. You can also pack your own. On any given morning, Katz might pack a zip-top bag with whole-grain cereal, fresh and dried fruits, nonfat yogurt, baby carrots, or a mix of nuts and seeds that he can eat periodically throughout the day. CookingLight.com: Tour the Cooking Light staff’s snack drawers

The timing of your snack can also help keep your diet on a healthful track. “The hungrier you are when you’re snacking, the more likely you are to overeat,” says Catherine Christie, Ph.D., R.D., director of nutrition programs at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. “If you go too long between meals, you can get low on energy and become overly hungry.” Reach for a snack before you become ravenous, and you’re likely to eat less. CookingLight.com: 16 superior snacks

Ultimately, your snacking habits should follow the same formula as your overall diet — all things in moderation. Every diet offers room for treats, and there’s no reason to feel guilty about enjoying one. In fact, Keith Ayoob, Ed.D., R.D., a nutritionist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, recommends saving 10 percent of your daily calories and using them for snacks that you really want. “Sometimes it’s not worth it to fight what you crave,” he says. “Eating well is all about eating the right foods and eating a variety of foods the right way, and that’s where snacking fits in,” Ayoob says.

If your energy levels are flagging…

Solution: Consuming caffeine — in the form of coffee or tea — can help boost energy and alertness. Adding a bit of sugar and low-fat milk — if you prefer — adds only about 50 calories. Eating foods that blend complex carbohydrates and lean protein can also provide energy. Complex carbohydrates provide readily available fuel for your body, while protein increases the brain’s dopamine levels, thereby boosting alertness. Healthful choices include a small handful of dried fruit and nuts, whole-grain crackers with a slice of cheese or a hard-boiled egg, or yogurt topped with a tablespoon of granola.

If mealtime is several hours away, but you’re hungry now…

Solution: For a snack with staying power, eat something that mixes fiber and protein. (This is also a good strategy to tide you over until morning if you become hungry before bedtime.) In a study at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, researchers found that when nighttime snackers developed the habit of eating cereal with milk 90 minutes after dinner, they reduced their total daily calorie intake and increased their chances of losing weight, compared with those who ate whatever they wanted. The cereal’s fiber and protein combination kept them full — and prevented less mindful eating that can accompany evening routines. Other good hunger-curbing pairings include carrot sticks with hummus or black bean dip, or a slice of multigrain bread spread with a tablespoon of reduced-fat peanut butter.

If you need a pre- or post-workout pick-me-up…

Solution: Before a workout, consuming complex carbohydrates — such as fruit or whole-grain cereal — will provide your body energy for exercise. Afterward, eat high-quality protein, such as low-fat yogurt or whole-grain cereal — particularly if you performed resistance exercises. A weight workout will stimulate the growth of muscle cells, which depend on protein. And, as always, consume plenty of fluids before, during, and after exercising.

If a stressful situation makes you feel an irrepressible urge to munch…

Solution: In this instance, your desire for food may be hard-wired: Research from the University of California, San Francisco, found that consuming food — particularly items that contain sugar and fat — appears to calm the body’s hormonal response to stress. But before you head to the vending machine, take a series of deep breaths; delay reaching for food for 15 minutes; drink a hot beverage such as tea, which can be soothing; and distract yourself by calling a friend or taking a walk. If you still feel like eating, then you’re probably hungry. Eat a smart snack that fits your craving — a small piece of chocolate with a glass of skim milk, for example.

What’s Your Snacking Style?

The desire for a snack can involve a hankering for a particular taste (like something sweet) or a yen for a texture (like something crunchy). But don’t put too much stock in the notion that what you crave is something your body truly needs. “That’s just not reliable,” says David Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Yale Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Connecticut. “Very few people these days are sugar or salt deficient, but those remain the things we crave. It’s difficult to separate what’s physiological from what’s psychological, and it’s not all that useful anyway.”

A better strategy: Consider what taste or sensory sensation you really desire before reaching for a snack.

If you crave something sweet

Try: Raisins, dried cherries, or fresh apple slices dipped in melted dark chocolate chips

If you crave something salty

Try: Almonds, whole-grain crackers, brown rice cakes, or a small can of vegetable juice

If you crave something crunchy

Try: A handful of high-fiber cereal, a spoonful of peanut butter on celery or apple slices, pickles, or microwave popcorn

If you crave something creamy

Try: Low-fat pudding, whipped yogurt, or flavored oatmeal E-mail to a friend

Filed under: — @ 2007-08-14 00:00:00
2007-08-08 00:00:00

Recycle Your Old TV.

At first glance, an article about recycling televisions seems out of place on a health related blog. As you dig deeper it is easy to see the connection. Everything we do effects either our health of the health of others. Please take the time to read this article and learn how you can recycle your old TV.

BEAReCycling writes “As large numbers of consumers are starting to shift over to the latest in LCD and plasma screen televisions, the demand for television recycling is growing rapidly. With few options available to the public, Bear eCycling has opened a television recycling depot at their SE Portland facility at 4532 SE 63rd Avenue. “Ever since we got listed on the Metro Recycling Hot-line as a recycler who can handle televisions, the phone has been ringing quite steadily.” says company president Oso Martin, ???As a commercial recycler, our trucks are really too large provide cost effective pick-up from residential customers, so instead we created the public drop off option.”

Staff at the Bear eCycling facility deconstruct the televisions, separating the plastics, the gold and copper bearing materials, and prep the glass tubes for processing at an approved smelter that recovers the leaded glass for use in new televisions and computer monitors. Nearly all the televisions Bear eCycling receives are recycled. ???Unfortunately, with the digital TV transition coming up, there isn???t really a resale market for the good ones???, notes Martin, pointing to a row of working TVs ???nobody???s interested in buying these.???

The increasing demand for TV recycling looks to only get larger as all broadcast television signals will be switched over to Digital Television(DTV) on Feb. 27, 2009, making all non-DTV units obsolete. There are mandated low-cost, set-top converters scheduled to be available during the transition. Each US household will be eligible for up to $80 in coupons towards 2 converters ($40 for each converter) that allow analogue TVs to receive the DTV signal. This will allow the television to work, although without the higher resolution picture. As of March 2007, all TVs sold in the US are DTV capable.

Filed under: — @ 2007-08-08 00:00:00
2007-08-06 00:00:00

Maximizing the Minute

This is the third installment of the four part series from Sean Coster, running coach.

Maximizing the Minute

For runners, minutes come and minutes go. Some feel like hours and others like seconds???reflecting our state of body and mind at that moment in time. Little real benefit is typically attached to any ONE minute of running. When it comes to nurturing racing fitness for the 10K through the half marathon distance, you need to make your minutes count.

Fast one minute runs with a brief, 60-second recovery will turn your strength and endurance into personal bests. The key to these weekly workouts is waiting to invite them into your training regime until a proper foundation of base work and stamina training has been completed (see ???Foundations of Base Training??? and ???Making the Transition??? for details). From this point in training, these 60 second romps will be savored for the speed currency you are earning with each bout. The runs must be no faster than your current 800m to 1600m race pace. Therefore, the most common mistake in this workout is beginning the session by running the first rep too quickly. Adhering to the painfully brief 60 seconds of standing rest between each repetition is the cornerstone to developing the speed-endurance that you will gain from this workout. The repetitions can be continued until a subsequent repetition deviates from the first by more than 2-3 seconds. Beginners will be pleased with the fitness gains that four of these reps can produce, while experienced racers over distances from 5K to the half marathon will likely be able to build up to 8-10 reps in a period of 4 weeks.

The body responds favorably in many ways to this workout. The heart develops a greater efficiency at delivering large volumes of oxygen-rich blood to hypoxic muscles. The 60-second bouts also provide you with improved running economy by requiring less energy to move the body in the running motion over the slower speeds. You???ll also develop an ability to find a use for the misunderstood energetic commodity of lactic acid with these peppy moments of running.

With the spring racing season looming for many with 10K???s, 15K???s and half marathons, anxiety can creep in over how to translate the strength of winter training into racing fitness at these distances. As the saying goes, ???Reputations are created every day and every minute??? so develop the reputation of a runner who challenges himself to continually improve by making the most of your 60 seconds.

Long may you run, Sean Coster

Sean Coster is the founder of Complete Running Programs, a custom running coaching service. To learn more about Sean???s coaching services, visit www.completerunningprograms.com .

Filed under: — @ 2007-08-06 00:00:00
2007-08-01 00:00:00

Muscle Pain Following Whiplash Injuries.

One of the most common symptoms experienced after a motor vehicle accident, is head and neck pain especially when the occupant is struck from behind. Neck injuries associated with auto accidents have been studied for many years, recently a new study published in the prestigious medical journal Spine, was released that helped to explain the cause of this pain.

The impact experienced by an occupant in an auto accident produces a large amount of force over a very short period of time, lasting only milliseconds. A new research study explains that it is may be the short time frame that may play a larger role in neck injuries than once thought. When an occupant is struck from behind, the force travels from the back of the car through the occupant finally exiting through the front. In order to protect the body, the body muscles of the neck contract to prevent injury. The muscles have been shown to fire at 100 milliseconds post impact which is 25 milliseconds after the majority of damage has occurred to the ligaments in the neck. (1)
The conclusion of the study: The muscles of the neck fire to late in a rear end collision to prevent injury to the spine and ligaments.
Ligaments heal very slowly because they lack the blood supply that muscles have. Ligaments in the neck also do not get the rest needed due to the demands on the neck at we go about our daily activities. The muscles of the neck are required to support a greater portion of the weight of the head and therefore become tired and sore while supporting this weight.
When structures of the neck are injured, the once healthy tissue is replaced with scar tissue. This new tissue is not nearly as strong or flexible as its predecessor. Encouraging proper healing of these tissues requires maintaining the mobility through spinal manipulation and stretching. Once the injured areas become less painful, it is imperative to strengthen the supporting muscles that have been injured. These muscles will be responsible for supporting the neck and preventing exacerbations or flare ups.
Injuries in the neck can also produce symptoms of pain in areas other than the location of the injury, this is called referred pain. For example and injury that occurs in the neck from a motor vehicle collision can present at pain in the shoulder blade. Referral pain patterns have been mapped out in the neck by injecting a stimulus to a specific area in the spine with a stimulating agent and the patient is asked to identify any symptoms they are experiencing outside of the location of the injection.
1. Vasavada AN, Brault JR, Siegmund GP. Musculotendon and fascicle strains in anterior and posterior neck muscles during whiplash injury. Spine 2007;32(7):756-765.

Filed under: — @ 2007-08-01 00:00:00
2007-07-28 00:00:00

Making the Transition

The following is part two of a four part series provided by Sean Coster, founder of Complete Running Programs (CRP). For more information about CRP visit www.crpusa.com.
Making the move from base training to faster running for summer 10K ??? Half Marathon???s. Part 2 of a 4 part series on training principles for these distances.

As you page through your training log and enjoy consistent weeks of steadily increasing weekly mileage, a gradual growth in the distance of your long run and a feeling of strength and endurance, you think to your self, ???what next???? in the preparation for a personal best for the 10K to Half Marathon. The answer of course is???faster running.

Faster running that is done with a specific purpose to each workout will enable the athlete who has diligently built a solid foundation to make an effective transition to faster running without injury. If you are unsure if your base building phase was done in a well rounded manner by incorporating a growth in the weekly volume of miles run, running specific strength training and strides then refer to December???s article ???Foundations of Base Training??? for guidance on this topic. If you are ready to make the transition to faster running then follow CRP???s concepts below on how to do so.

Taking the strength and endurance you???ve built during your base training and spinning it into fitness specific to race a 10K to half marathon takes work in a few areas. Improving the pace that you are running when blood lactic acid begins to significantly increase is one of these areas (definition of Lactate/Ventilatory Threshold). A highly effective means on improving your pace at Lactate Threshold is to incorporate a type of Fartlek running. Fartlek running has been used in the United States since the 50???s in various forms. For improvement in distances from 10K to the Half Marathon I suggest the following parameters for your fartlek. Keep the distance run during the ???on??? or fast portion to between 30 seconds and 2 minutes. The intensity of this running should be slightly faster than your current Lactate Threshold pace. Each bout of this faster running should be followed by a float period or ???off??? phase that has you running easy for the same amount of time as the ???on??? period. This can be done on a run of any distance after an appropriate warm up. The total distance of fartlek running with the ???on???s??? and ???off???s??? can range from 4-8 miles depending on the athlete. A coach will be able to incorporate this running into your program with appropriate prescription of the fartlek running made for weekly volume of miles run.

Hill training has long been a means of building strength and endurance for distance runners. Hill running takes many forms, and each offers its own pay off to the runner. For the transition period we are speaking of I recommend incorporating a type of hill running that many find unique. Finding a short and fairly steep (8-12 %) hill that you can run up for 8-10 seconds is all you need. After a good warm up run followed by a dynamic series of running drills make your way to your hill. Running this hill near 100% of your top speed for 10 seconds 6-8 times is all you need. The key to this workout is to take lots of rest between repetitions. I would recommend anywhere from 3-5 minutes rest. This uncommonly long bout of restwill allow your body to go through a refractory period in which you can get more muscle fibers to participate in your all out burst for the top of your short and steep hill. This recruitment of muscle fibers is exactly the ???why??? behind such a short fast workout for 10K to half marathoners. Many benefits are derived from doing such a workout, but one is that you are now bringing more help (in the form of muscle fibers) to the work of running at many different distances. Therefore you are building a foundation for fatigue resistance for future running at race pace. Do to the extremely fast nature of this running a proper warm up is essential to this workout.

Running economy is the amount of energy expended to run at a particular pace. We can all agree that being stingy is a good thing in distance running, and by spending less energy running our race pace we can likely improve our performances. In an effort to stimulate maximum running economy at race pace I recommend another type of shorter distance running for the transition period of 10K to the Half Marathon training. The goal is to find a distance you can run at 90% of your top speed, or roughly your 800m-1600m race pace, at for 60 seconds. For some of the worlds best runners this may be 400m or slightly further, for others it may be 250-300m. Let???s say it???s 300m for you. Head to the track and engage in your dynamic warm up, the one you would do before each workout or race, and get ready to run fast for 60 seconds. Keying on the best form possible and an even distribution of effort for the 60 seconds take one repetition. After this bout of running take 3-4 minutes of rest, until fully recovered then do another. This workout is successful if the runs each consistent in there intensity and excellent form can be maintained. The total number of these repetitions is very relative to your current fitness and ability. It can range from 6-20 depending on the athlete. CRP???s coaching staff can help you work workout???s like this into your overall training program.

Making the transition from base training to faster running can seem like an intimidating task. But when you develop a plan that focuses on key areas of improvement using focused workouts your mind will rest easy knowing your fitness is improving from the base you have built. Keep in mind that these training concepts need to be appropriately incorporated into your overall goals as an athlete by a coach. Self education is an important aspect of each runners training, and so is working with coach in an advisory role.

Long may you run,

Sean Coster
Founder ??? Complete Running Programs

Let Complete Running Programs help you reach your goals in running with our expert coaching staff???s unique approach to developing distance runners of various abilities. Visit www.crpusa.com to learn about our services.

Filed under: — @ 2007-07-28 00:00:00
2007-07-18 00:00:00

Heart-healthy foods keep your ticker in top shape

The following article is from CNN health. I found it to be a very concise and straight forward.

Creating custom food plans for patients isn’t the hard part of Bethany Thayer’s job. For the Michigan-based registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, one of the most difficult aspects of her work is helping patients interpret the often-contradictory health news they hear each day.

“Patients often ask me, ‘Why does nutrition advice flip-flop all the time?’ ” Thayer says. They may have a point. Take the recent dustup over fat recommendations, for example. In 2005, the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended limiting the amount of fat you consume each day to 20 to 35 percent of total calories. But in a year later, the front page of The New York Times declared: “Low-Fat Diet Does Not Cut Health Risks.” No wonder Thayer’s patients — and many others — are confused. What should the average person make of these mixed messages?

Thayer’s answer: Take the long view. “One study isn’t going to determine what we should be eating,” she says. “Nutrition is a complex science — what appears to some as flip-flopping is actually defining and refining some of the recommendations we make.”

The food factor

Nowhere is the evolving nature of nutrition science clearer than in the fight against heart disease, the No. 1 cause of death among Americans. Some foods that were once considered to increase the risk of disease, like fats and alcohol, now don’t seem so bad — in fact, limited amounts may play an active role in helping ward off heart disease. As nutrition knowledge has grown, so has scientific understanding of heart disease, a maze of cholesterol levels, blood pressure, arterial inflammation, and lifestyle factors, such as diet, stress, and fitness levels.

This is why prevention requires a multipronged approach — but what you eat is certainly key. “Just eating certain foods isn’t going to completely prevent heart disease, but they can take the fight to the next level,” says Mikelle McCoin, R.D., M.P.H., senior nutrition educator at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco, California. To identify those foods, we spoke to Thayer, McCoin, and three other leading nutrition researchers. The result is a guide to the nutritional architecture that supports a heart-healthy diet. CookingLight.com: Take our heart-smart quiz

Heart helper: soluble fiber

Soluble fiber acts like a scouring pad for your circulatory system, clearing out harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol before it has a chance to stick to artery walls, where it forms thick, hard deposits that block blood flow. “Soluble fiber is potent in lowering ldl,” says Wahida Karmally, Dr.P.H., M.S., R.D., director of nutrition at the Irving Center for Clinical Research at Columbia University Medical Center. According to a study Karmally co-wrote in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, people who add just 3 grams of soluble fiber to their diets each day (the research team used three-fourths of a cup of whole-grain oat cereal, three times daily) can lower their LDL levels by 5 percent in six weeks. While that might sound small, consider this: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has found that each 1 percent reduction in a person’s LDL cholesterol levels can be expected to reduce his or her overall heart disease risk by 2 percent. The other form of fiber, insoluble, also has a scouring effect, but in a different way; it helps move food through your digestive system.

Find it in: Whole grains, such as oatmeal, bran, and barley, as well as fruits, vegetables, and legumes are great sources. Some of these foods also contain other compounds, such as phytochemicals, vitamins, and trace minerals, that may help fight heart disease — another reason fruits, vegetables, and whole grains frequently top nutritionists’ lists of recommended foods. CookingLight.com: Whole grain pastas

How much you need: Aim for 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day.

Heart helpers: unsaturated fats

Although conventional wisdom once held that the heart-healthiest diets were practically fat-free, that notion has changed in recent years. “You want a diet that’s moderate in fat,” says Alice H. Lichtenstein, D.Sc., chairperson of the American Heart Association’s nutrition committee and director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts. The best way to achieve it: Restrict the two types of fat that don’t benefit your heart — saturated and trans-fatty acids — and substitute two “good” fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

Monounsaturated fats help raise levels of helpful high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. These HDL molecules act like bodyguards, capturing “bad” LDL molecules in the arteries and escorting them to your liver, where they are filtered out of the body. According to the results of a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people who increased their intake of monounsaturated fats in place of saturated fats and high-sugar carbohydrates over three years reduced their risk of heart disease by 20 percent.

Find them in: Vegetable oils, nuts, olives, avocados, and fish are all good sources of mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Just remember that any source of fat — whether it’s olive oil or butter — is calorie dense. “One gram of fat contains nine calories, compared to only four calories for carbohydrates and protein,” Thayer says.That’s why substitution is crucial; you want to add healthful fats to your diet while subtracting not-so-healthful ones to keep daily calorie intake on an even keel.CookingLight.com: Eight surprisingly nutritious foods and how to eat more of them

How much you need: The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that 20 to 35 percent of your total daily calories should come from fat. Of that amount, no more than 10 percent should come from saturated fat. For someone on a 2,000-calorie per day diet, that translates to 65 grams of unsaturated fats.

Heart helpers: omega 3 fatty acids

Polyunsaturated fats are helpful in their own right, but a subset of polys, called omega 3 fatty acids, are amazing multi-taskers, simultaneously combating several heart disease risk factors. Omega 3s permeate the cells that line your circulatory system. They make your arteries more supple, which helps reduce blood pressure and prevent arterial inflammation. They also help regulate the electrical impulses that keep your heart beating steadily, preventing arrhythmia. But omega 3s’ neatest trick is changing the quality of LDL cholesterol molecules. “Omega 3s help reduce the rate of plaque buildup by making LDL cholesterol lighter and fluffier, so blood vessels can’t take it up as easily,” says Marguerite M. Engler, Ph.D., a cardiovascular researcher and professor at the University of California in San Francisco.

Find them in: Fatty cold-water fish such as salmon, pollock, swordfish, tuna, mackerel, and herring are the best sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Fish contain the two types of omega 3s that the body uses most efficiently: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Foods such as soybeans, walnuts, and flaxseed also contain omega 3 fatty acids; however, the type — called alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) — is not as readily available to the body as DHA or EPA. “You’re not going to get high levels of DHA and EPA by eating walnuts or flaxseed because your body can’t metabolize the plant fat as efficiently,” Engler says. CookingLight.com: Food combinations that lower your cholesterol

How much you need: As yet, there is no Food and Drug Administration-approved Reference Daily Intake for omega 3s. However, the FDA and the American Heart Association recommend eating fresh fish at least twice a week. A six-ounce serving of salmon, herring, or tuna provides a gram or more of omega 3s.

Heart Helper: Alcohol

Ifyou enjoy an occasional drink with dinner, you can take comfort in knowing that consuming alcohol in moderation may be good for your heart. First, alcohol makes the blood somewhat less likely to clot. Second, alcohol consumption helps elevate Hal cholesterol levels and reduce C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of arterial inflammation and heart-disease risk. Adults who consume one or two drinks each day can reduce their overall risk of developing heart disease by 30 to 50 percent, according to the American Heart Association. (One serving of alcohol equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1?? ounces of 80-proof spirits.)

You don’t have to start drinking to improve your heart health, however. Plenty of other lifestyle changes can improve your health in a similar manner to alcohol, such as regular exercise and a healthful diet.

Find it in: While red wine has made headlines for the antioxidants it contains, any type of alcohol delivers the same benefits to your heart. The way to obtain them: moderation. How much you need: For women, one serving is best. Men can drink two because enzymes in their stomachs are more effective at metabolizing alcohol. Beyond those amounts, alcohol can cause more harm than help. A study of more than 2,500 people published in Circulation found CRP levels in people who consumed more than the recommended amount of alcohol were higher than in those who drank itin moderation.

Soy story, revised

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Filed under: — @ 2007-07-18 00:00:00
2007-06-29 00:00:00

Low Back Pain Cures by Sylvia Catzen

In less time than it takes to get dressed, I can show you two moves to relieve low back pain and release your upper back. These moves can be done pretty much anywhere, and if you don???t care what your co-workers will think of you, lying on the floor you can do it at work; in fact they just might join you! Did you know the most common job related disability in the U.S. is lowback pain (National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke.)?

Remember to be gentle with your body, bring awareness to the moves you are performing. Consult with your doctor before performing any of these moves. Be mindful, never force.

A carpeted floor or rug will work, if you have a yoga mat or (blanket), all the better.

Extended Pelvic clock (PT speak pelvic tilt/lift) start position, lie on your back with knees bent (no more than fist width apart), feet flat on the floor.

Visualize/mental image a clock face on the front of your belly. Noon is at the base of your ribs (xiphoid process) and six at the tip of your pubic bone. Begin tucking the pelvis up towards noon, stop when you get to the base of ribs. Lower back will be up off the floor (small bridge). Begin lowering the spine back down towards the floor and arching the pelvis into six o clock. There should be a gap about the size of your fist between your low back and the floor, ribs are down. Remember to keep the knees in alignment, feet firm on the floor. We are going for movement in the low back with stability. Repeat 3-5 times or more as necessary.

Can???t lie on the floor at work? No problem, stand with your feet under your hips (again knees are a fist width apart). Bend/Soften the knees, keep the knees in alignment with toes, stand tall through spine as though there was a string from the crown of your head attached to the ceiling. Visualize/mental image your pelvis is a salad bowl, spill your salad to the front of your body, this will cause an arch in your low back, now scoop your salad back up and this will cause your low back to flatten out. If a salad bowl image doesn???t work for you, think of a puppy. Happy puppy sticks his tail out; sad puppy tucks his tail under. If there is music playing at your workspace you could get away with calling this a dance move.

I just gave you two moves for one, now let???s move to the upper back. A chair will give you the most support. Sit almost at the edge of your seat, tall on your sitz bones, crown of head reaches for ceiling. Cross your arms in front of your body as if you were giving yourself a hug, hands are on top of your shoulders, they stay there for the whole move (no death grip or power holds) this is about release. Begin by moving the elbows up towards the ceiling, let your ribcage move naturally and allow your eye gaze to go up the wall and overhead. (As if you were watching a bug crawl up the wall and across the ceiling.) The tips of your elbows will stay just slightly in view (raise your elbows, eyes, neck and head to your comfort level). Slowly bring the elbows back down, (eyes, head and neck) follow to start position. Repeat 3-5 times or as necessary. You can do this standing too, use the above standing position and repeat the steps.

Filed under: — @ 2007-06-29 00:00:00
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