Weigh Yourself Every Day

A new study published in The Journal of Obesity found that weighing oneself daily and keeping a progress chart seemed to improve weight loss and keep off the weight. The weight loss found in the study was modest,  and frequent weighing was more effective for men that women. The researchers believe that this method works because it forces one to be aware of the link of what you eat and what you weigh. Many experts still believe that you should not weigh yourself every day  since daily weights may not accurately show true weight changes due to hormonal and fluid changes . But the idea behind the frequent weighing is to monitor yourself and to be responsible. Another good idea is to keep a daily food log to make sure that you are cognizant of your eating behaviors.

Glutathione

What is Glutathione and where is it found?
Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant involved in many body processes, including tissue building and repair, the production of chemicals and proteins, and stimulating immune response. In fact, glutathione is used in metabolic and biochemical reactions, such as DNA synthesis and repair, enzyme activation, amino acid transport, and prostaglandin synthesis. Therefore, glutathione affects every system in the body, especially the immune system, nervous system, GI system, and lungs. It protects our cells and supports our metabolism. Glutathione is produced naturally by the liver and can be found in fruits, vegetables, and meats.
What are the benefits?
Glutathione is the master detoxifier and the body’s main antioxidant. Glutathione is used to treat cataracts and glaucoma, and prevent aging. It is also used to treat and prevent alcoholism, cancer, heart disease, liver disease, memory loss, Alzheimer’s Disease, AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, and to control inflammation and to maintain the immune system. Glutathione is also used to treat male infertility and to help alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy.
Are there interactions with food or medications?
None reported.

Are there side effects?
None reported.

Fat is Back

The Federal Guidelines Advisory Board has issued new guidelines about fat consumption. The committee concluded that there is no benefit to limiting total dietary fat, but that saturated fat should be replaced with unsaturated fat. It seems that the type of fat is much more important in a person’s diet. For example, trans fat has been associated with heart disease and weight gain, and the FDA has ordered food manufacturers to stop using in within 3 years. These guidelines will likely affect the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are due out later this year.

It is important to note that the quality of any food or nutrient you eat – not only fat – is extremely important when deciding what to consume. Choose foods that are less processed and high in nutrients and phytochemicals, and don’t eliminate healthy fats from your diet!

Disruptive Sleep May Cause Increased Food Intake

Less sleep, especially disruptive sleep, may be linked to excessive food intake.  And excessive food intake may cause obesity and other potential health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease and other long-term issues. A new study published in The Journal of Health Psychology concluded that sleep affects all the biological, emotional, cognitive and environment factors that influence food intake. Sleep can affect hormones,  mental status, metabolism, etc.When discussing dietary strategies,  problems with sleep are often not addressed, and it is important to consider the link between sleep and eating to modify dietary behavior.

 

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Half of US Adolescents are Dehydrated

A new article published in the Journal of Public Health reported that more than half of US adolescents and teens are dehydrated, most likely because they aren’t drinking enough water. This may pose serious physical  health risks since water is essential for circulation, metabolism, temperature regulation, and waste removal. Dehydration is also associated with reduced cognitive and emotional function. Even mild dehydration affects day to day functioning and may cause headaches, irritability and  reduced physical performance.  There is an easy solution to this potential problem: Children need to drink more water. Water is a readily available and inexpensive beverage in the US and we need to encourage everyone in our society to drink more and to not wait until we are thirsty. Aim for 8 8-oz glasses of water every day, and drink more if you are outside or exercise.

The Importance of Being Flexible

Flexibility is often under-used and under-rated in both the fitness industry and in life in general. Physically, a person’s flexibility refers to the ability of a joint to move through its full range of motion. It is important to attain a full range of motion to perform activities of daily living and to reduce the stress on muscles, which in turn decreases injury rates.

Flexibility is joint-specific, since each joint has a potential range of motion. Static flexibility refers to the range of motion that can be attained while not in motion; dynamic flexibility refers to the range of motion that can be attained during movement. Dynamic flexibility is important to athletes because range of motion is limited by the amount of time it takes for a muscle to lengthen, which affects athletic ability. The more a joint can flex, the better the athlete can improve sport specific skills.

Greater flexibility of the muscle around the joint translates into better posture, reduced risk of injury, and less muscle tension and soreness. We need to be flexible to perform every day activities, from sitting to standing, and from lifting items to turning the body in different directions. Joints become stiffer as people age, and it is crucial to achieve a full range of motion to perform simple tasks, like tying shoelaces. When our muscles are sedentary and inflexible, our bodies create poor posture habits and movements that reduce the mobility of joints and compromise body positions. Flexibility helps prevent this loss of mobility.

Stretching helps to reduce soreness after exercise and gradually elongates the muscle through its full range of motion, which improves muscular balance and resting posture. Additionally, stretching promotes muscular relaxation, which increases flexibility in the hamstrings, hip flexors, and quads. This decreases the likelihood of both sporadic and chronic back pain. Stretching also increases blood flow and nutrients to soft tissue, increasing joint synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints and improves greater range of motion and decreased joint pain and degeneration.

Stretching can be part of a workout or a workout all by itself. As a rule of thumb, before a workout, stretching should be dynamic. Static stretching should be reserved for after a workout. When stretching, always be gentle and never jerk the muscle into position. Instead, smoothly move the muscle into position to safely lengthen the muscle tissue. Mild discomfort is normal during stretching, but there should never be any pain. Pain is an indication that the muscle is being overstretched or has been excessively stretched. Find 5-10 minutes per day to stretch to reduce stress and improve your health. Your body will thank you for it!

Stand Up for Better Health

Most people who work in office jobs spend the majority of their day sitting with few breaks. In fact, a new study in the British Sports Journal found that 65-70% of office working hours are spent sitting at a desk, especially for prolonged periods of time.  The investigators published a consensus statement recommending that desk workers engage in standing and light activity for two hours a day with a goal of reaching four hours per day.  This is because research suggests that prolonged sitting leads to an increased incidence of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cancer, and mental health disorders. It is important to promote more active work environments, where workers can stand while talking with co-workers or on while they are on the phone. One way to do this is to change the layout of offices, as they have done in Scandinavia, where 90% of office workers have sit-stand workstations. Until such stations become widespread in our society, workers should be sure to take breaks to stretch, to correct their posture, and to move around.

Berberine

What is Berberine and where is it found?

Berberine is a naturally occurring alkaloid chemical found in certain plants, such as goldenseal, goldthread, phellodendron, Oregon grape, and tree tumeric. It has frequently been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese herbal medicines for its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and sedative effects plus its beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system.
What are the benefits?

Berberine has been shown to be effective in reducing blood sugar levels with people with diabetes and lowering cholesterol levels for those with hypercholesterolemia. Some people also use berberine to treat burns, obesity, diarrhea, congestive heart failure, and osteoporosis.

Are there interactions with food or medications?
Consult a doctor if you are on diabetic or blood lowering medication and want to take berberine. No interactions with food known.

Are there side effects?
It is not safe for newborns or pregnant women since it might cause brain damage to the baby or fetus.

Dieting Needs to Become a Way of Life

There is a great deal of controversy on the best way for someone to lose weight. According to Today Health, there are 6 signs you may experience which demonstrate that your diet isn’t working: 1) irritability/hangriness 2)lightheadedness/headaches 3) dehydration 4) GI disturbances 5)cravings 6)weight gain. In order to truly lose weight and be healthy, forgo the quick fad diets which promise weight loss in a short period of time and aim for changing your eating patterns and behaviors so that your new eating becomes a way of life. Aim to lose 1-2 pounds per week and remember that plateaus will occur.

Keep On Spinning

Spinning has become all the rage, with spin studios like Soul Cycle and Fly Wheel opening up exponentially. Indoor cycling is a great low impact cardiovascular workout that increases both strength and endurance. However, as with any exercise program, it is important for the cycling enthusiast to make sure she/he is burning calories efficiently while simultaneously decreasing the risk for injury. And, as with many other routines, it can be too much of a good thing.

Proper alignment and biomechanics are the most important part of spinning effectively. Form starts with ensuring that the bike is set up correctly. First, make sure the seat height is correct by clipping your feet into the pedals (or putting your feet in the toe cages) and rotating your feet until one leg reaches the bottom. You should have a 25-35 degree bend in that leg when your foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke.  It is common for people to sit too low, which can be dangerous for ligaments and joints. After adjusting the height of the seat, the seat needs to be adjusted fore-aft. The idea is to have your kneecap directly above the center of the pedal or when both pedals are level with each other, so that the front of your knee is right in line with the ball of your foot when the pedal is farthest forward. Lastly, the handlebars should be set so it is comfortable for your back and neck. A new cyclist should raise the handlebars to take the stress off his/her back or neck. However, those with a stronger core and lower back can lower the handlebars.

Form on the bike is also extremely important to avoid injury. Because cycling is a non-impact exercise, it might take longer for injuries to present themselves, and our goal is to prevent recurrent stress to the body. Make sure the balls of your feet are directly over the pedal and do not lock out your knees. In fact, your knees should be slightly bent towards the center of the bike.  Also, try to pull up with your legs instead of only pushing down.

Keep your head high and look in front of you at the road ahead to keep your neck aligned. Further, if you keep your abs tight, you can strengthen your core and help maintain your hips in proper alignment over the pedals. Additionally, it is important to keep your upper body relaxed; the handlebars are meant for balance and you should not be leaning too far forward or using your upper body to support your weight. You do not want to feel sore or tight in the forearms or triceps. As far as upper body movements on the bike, keep in mind that leaning while clipped in puts a lot of stress on the hip and knee joints and increases the risk for injury.

When biking out of the saddle, be sure to add resistance to the wheel to maintain balance from seated to standing. Also, your hips should be back on the saddle so your butt is only 1-2 inches above the nose of your saddle to ensure you are using your legs. Also, keep your upper body as still as possible with as little swinging or bouncing on the pedal to focus on core and leg muscles. You don’t want to pedal too fast or too slow; if you pedal too fast without the proper resistance, you will start bouncing in your seat and if you pedal too slowly you will be inefficient. It is more important to focus on intensity than on leg speed.

To maximize your workout, what you do off the bike is just as important and what you do on the bike. Resistance training to strengthen your core, hamstrings, quads, glutes, and back is extremely important to maintain proper form on the bike. The goal is to use exercises with a similar motion to cycling with lower and upper body while simultaneously increasing muscular endurance and core strength. Lack of glute strength is a major cause of muscle injury. Planks, lunges, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, and rows are all good exercises to utilize to improve your spinning experience.

Don’t forget to stretch! Don’t rush out of the studio after class; the two to three minutes of stretching is the bare minimum necessary to prevent injury. Spin classes can leave you feeling tight and sore, and stretching helps prevent muscle soreness by increasing blood and nutrient supply to the muscle and improving flexibility. Concentrate on the hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, calves and hips. Spinning  causes a tight psoas, which causes back pain and discomfort.

Moderation and diversity are key to any exercise program. Spinning 5-7 days a week will undoubtedly lead to repetitive stress on the same muscles and joints since your body is in the  same position doing the same motions. Injuries caused from spinning range from lower back pain due to tight hip flexors and knee pain due to imbalances in surrounding muscles.

Spinning can be a fun and effective part of any exercise program. If you do choose to spin, be sure to complement it with other exercises, especially those that strengthen the core and glutes. To be truly fit and functional, remember proper form on the bike, muscle strengthening, stretching, and changing up your exercise routine.