The Skinny on Saturated Fats

 

Everyone knows that there are good & bad fats. How bad are the “bad fats” and how can they be avoided?

Saturated, or “bad,” fats are high in LDL cholesterol. They are simple fat molecules that have no double bonds between carbon molecules because they are saturated with hydrogen molecules. They are also typically solid at room temperature.

Saturated fats can occur naturally in many foods, with the majority coming from animals such as meat & dairy products. Additionally, many baked goods & fried foods contain high levels of saturated fats. The American Heart Association recommends aiming for a diet containing 5-6% saturated fats. This means, if you are consuming 2,000 calories per day 120 will be saturated fats, or 13g.  It is important to choose unsaturated fats rather than saturated fats and trans fats since unsaturated fats can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve “good” (HDL) cholesterol levels.

Focus on a nutrient-dense diet filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, and nuts. Always choose lean meats & poultry without skin. Cut back on foods containing saturated fat including, but not limited to:

  • desserts and baked goods, such as cakes, cookies, donuts, pastries, and croissants
  • many cheeses and foods containing cheese, such as pizza
  • sausages, hot dogs, bacon, and ribs
  • ice cream and other dairy desserts
  • fried potatoes (French fries) – if fried in a saturated fat or hydrogenated oil
  • regular ground beef and cuts of meat with visible fat
  • fried chicken and other chicken dishes with the skin
  • whole milk and full-fat dairy foods

 

Choose foods higher in unsaturated fat and lower in saturated fat as part of your healthy eating style. Here are some tips:

  • Use oil-based dressings and spreads on foods instead of butter, stick margarine, or cream cheese.
  • Drink fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk instead of reduced-fat (2%) or whole milk.
  • Buy lean cuts of meat instead of fatty meats or choose these foods less often.
  • Add low-fat cheese to homemade pizza, pasta, and mixed dishes.
  • In recipes, use low-fat plain yogurt instead of cream or sour cream

 

By Gina Stallone

Resources:

Choosemyplate.gov

Heart.org

In the Zone

We all know by now that exercise is important, regardless of your goal. Whether you are trying to build muscle, lose weight, or just get healthier, exercise is the way to go. How do you know if you’re doing enough…or too much?! Calculate your heart rate!

First, you want to take your resting heart rate. This is the number of times your heart beats per minute while at rest. You can test this out in the morning after you’ve had a good night’s sleep & before you get out of bed. For children 10 & older and adults (including seniors), the average resting heart rate is 60-100 beats per minute. For well-trained athletes, the average is 40-60 beats per minute.

Next, you want to get your maximum heart rate. This is the maximum number of times your heart should beat per minute during exercise. The basic way to calculate your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. For example, if you’re 45 years old, subtract 45 from 220 to get a maximum heart rate of 175.  Heart rate during moderately intense activities is about 50-69% of your maximum heart rate, whereas heart rate during hard physical activity is about 70% to less than 90% of the maximum heart rate. Below is a chart from the American Heart Association:

 

Age Target HR Zone 50-85% Average Maximum Heart Rate, 100%
20 years 100-170 beats per minute 200 beats per minute
30 years 95-162 beats per minute 190 beats per minute
35 years 93-157 beats per minute 185 beats per minute
40 years 90-153 beats per minute 180 beats per minute
45 years 88-149 beats per minute 175 beats per minute
50 years 85-145 beats per minute 170 beats per minute
55 years 83-140 beats per minute 165 beats per minute
60 years 80-136 beats per minute 160 beats per minute
65 years 78-132 beats per minute 155 beats per minute
70 years 75-128 beats per minute 150 beats per minute

 

It’s important to note that there are a few high blood pressure medications that will lower the maximum heart rate and thus, the target zone rate. If you’re taking any such medication, contact your physician to find out if you should aim for a lower target heart rate. During the first few weeks of working out, aim for the lower range of your target zone (50 percent) and gradually build up to the higher range (85 percent). After six months or more, you may be able to exercise comfortably at up to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. If you have a heart condition or you’re in cardiac rehab, talk to a healthcare professional about what exercises you can engage in, what your target heart rate should be, and whether or not you need to be monitored during physical activity.  This will also help you to choose the types of physical activity that are appropriate for your current fitness level and health goals, because some activities are safer than others.

 

by Gina Stallone

What is Leaky Gut?

According to the National Institute of Health, 60-70 million people in the United States are affected by digestive diseases. This includes irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), gallstones, and reflux, among others. The condition and function of the GI tract is important for our overall health and well-being. Research shows that stress, lack of physical activity, processed foods, and chemicals affect the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) and contribute to an increased incidence of disease.

The food we ingest gets broken down, and the nutrients are absorbed in the small intestines before entering the bloodstream. The balance of gut micro-organisms, the mucosal lining, and the integrity of the tight junctions, which are located in the epithelial lining of the small intestines, all contribute to the proper digestion and absorption of food. The lining of the small intestines is semi-permeable and normally allows nutrients to be absorbed, while also acting as a barrier to prevent toxins, microbes, and large food particles from entering our internal system. Additionally, the lining contains a substance called secretory IgA (SIgA), which is an immunoglobulin that binds to bacteria, toxins, viruses, fungal spores and antigens, and it prevents them from crossing the epithelial barrier and entering the bloodstream. Next, the lining is made up of tiny openings called tight junctions, which are responsible for determining what is allowed to pass from the intestine into the bloodstream. They allow vital nutrients into the blood stream while keeping large undigested food particles and disease causing compounds out of the systemic circulation.

Leaky gut, also known as intestinal hyperpermeability, occurs when the toxic byproducts and undigested proteins in the GI tract are absorbed into the bloodstream and cause inflammation. When SIgA is decreased, fewer pathogens are eliminated, and the altered microbiota in the small intestine leads to dysbiosis, which is a change in the balance of the microorganisms. Other causes of dysbiosis are physical stress, mental stress, infections, chemicals, alcohol, antibiotics, corticosteroids, birth control pills, and dietary factors, such as gluten. Additionally, an overgrowth of yeast can also damage the mucosal barrier and increase the permeability of the intestine so that undigested particles are absorbed. Yeast also releases toxins and enzymes which can further increase intestinal permeability.  In summary, any condition that may cause inflammation, such as medications, infections, trauma, or a range of diseases including cancer, may result in hyperpermeability.

As a result of this dysbiosis, there is a malfunction of the tight junctions and a breakdown of the gut barrier. The tight junctions open too wide and become more permeable, allowing unwanted toxins and other particles to “leak” into the bloodstream overwhelming the liver and causing potential allergies.  There is an inflammatory response with toxins moving from inside the gut to outside the gut due to lipopolysaccharides (LPS), which are molecules on the surface of gram negative bacteria. These molecules cause inflammation outside the gut by activating the cytokines, which are substances that signal the activation of the immune system.

Some of the symptoms of leaky gut include fatigue, fevers, poor tolerance to exercise, memory issues, food sensitivities, thyroid dysfunction, inflammatory skin conditions, nutrient malabsorption, bloating, abdominal issues, fevers of unknown origin, and issues with concentration. Very often, leaky gut can lead to diseases and conditions and can be underlying factors in ADD, psoriasis, irritable bowel syndrome, malnutrition, food allergies and intolerances, autism, celiac disease, depression, inflammatory bowel disease, eczema, acne, dermatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

In order to repair leaky gut. A “6R” approach is often used: 1. Remove 2. Reduce 3. Restore 4. Replace 5. Reinoculate 6. Repair.  First, it is important to remove whatever is irritating and damaging the GI tract, such as NSAIDS, alcohol, allergenic foods, and pathogens. After removing these irritants, proper motility needs to be restored. Insoluble fiber can be used to restore the appropriate bowel transit time to make sure food is moving through the GI tract at an acceptable rate. Next, digestive enzymes need to be replaced to aid in digestion and stimulate the body’s own enzyme production. Afterwards, the GI tract needs to be reinoculated with friendly bacteria by taking probiotics to rebalance the microflora. Lastly, the mucosal lining should be repaired with specific supplements, such as L-glutamine, zinc, essential fatty acids, N-acetyl glucosamine, aloe vera, glycerrhiza, beta carotene, vitamins A, C, an E, and others.

Leaky gut is not a disease, but it is a real condition that needs to be addressed. It is a gray area in the medical field because it is result of some other condition rather than a diagnosis by itself. If you are experiencing GI symptoms without an etiology, it is certainly worth investigating. The gut could be your answer to a healthier, happier existence.

by Denise Groothuis MS RD CPT

 

Lower Your Cholesterol to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Your lipid profile includes both cholesterol and triglycerides, and high blood lipid levels put you at risk for cardiovascular disease. In fact, every 1% reduction in cholesterol reduces your cardiovascular disease by 2%. Our bodies make cholesterol, and we consume cholesterol from animal foods.

The goal is to have your total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL, and it is important to remember than anything over 240 mg/dL is considered high. Cholesterol is made up of HDL (high density lipoproteins), also known as “good cholesterol” and LDL (low density lipoproteins), also known as “bad cholesterol.” The goal for optimal heart heath is an HDL higher than 60 mg/dL and an  LDL less than 100 mg/dL. It also is important to make sure your triglycerides are well controlled and strive for less than 150 mg/dL. High triglycerides are often the result of a high carbohydrate diet, physical inactivity, smoking, excess alcohol, and obesity.

Diet and lifestyle change can improve your lipid profile. Regular physical activity has been shown to increase HDL, and weight loss has been linked to a 10% decreased risk of high lipids. Avoid trans fats and reduce saturated fat by limiting red meat, butter, eggs, cream, and tropical oils to further improve your numbers.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

What is CoQ10 and where is it found?

CoQ10 is a compound from the ubiquinone family that is similar to a vitamin found. It is found in every cell of the body. CoQ10 functions as a coenzyme for many steps during aerobic respiration so the body can produce energy for growth and maintenance. It is also a powerful antioxidant. CoQ10 is found in meat, poultry, peanuts, and fish, and it can also be taken as a supplement.

What are the benefits?

CoQ10 can be used orally or topically. Orally, people use CoQ10 to improve heart related conditions such as CHF (congestive heart failure), angina, cardiomyopathy, and hypertension. Some people take it to improve symptoms of diabetes, chemotherapy, breast cancer, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy, Lyme disease, autism, and pre-eclampsia. It is also used to improve exercise tolerance and to reduce chronic fatigue syndrome. Others use CoQ10 to stimulate the immune system in patients with HIV and to treat migraines. It is used topically for periodontal disease.

Are there interactions with food or medications?

People taking antihypertensive drugs, warfarin, and those receiving chemotherapy should consult a doctor before taking CoQ10 because of potential interactions. Also CoQ10 levels appear to be affected by acacia, beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, yeast, and vitamins A, C, E, and K.

Are there side effects?

There are infrequent reports of insomnia, upset stomach, nausea, loss of appetite, and diarrhea.

 

To buy CoQ10,  click here

Get Moving!!

February is Heart Health Awareness Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. While there are many ways you can avoid this disease, staying active is one of the easiest. Studies show that people who don’t exercise are almost twice as likely to get heart disease as people who are active. In fact, regular exercise can help burn calories, lower LDL (bad cholesterol), and boost HDL (good cholesterol).

The American Heart Association recommends approximately 150 minutes of exercise per week. This can be divided into 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise 5 days per week or 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity 3 days per week along with moderate to high intensity strength training 2 days per week. Some of the best types of exercises that you can do are interval training, total-body/nonimpact sports, weight training, core workouts, and yoga. You can also just go for a brisk walk for 30 minutes per day.

In addition to strengthening muscles, exercise has been proven to do wonders for your heart health. For one, it can lower blood pressure. It does this by acting like a beta-blocker medication, which slows the heart rate & lowers blood pressure both at rest & while working out. It also lowers your stress level. Stress hormones can put an extra burden on the heart, but exercise can help you to relax and thus, ease stress. Additionally, it can stop or slow the development of diabetes. When combined with strength training, regular aerobic exercise can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by over 50%! It does this by allowing the muscles to better process glycogen. Next, it is key for weight control. Being overweight can put extra stress on the heart, and it is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Combining a smart diet with physical activity is essential for losing weight and, most importantly, for keeping it off. Lastly, it can help reduce inflammation. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce chronic inflammation as the body adapts to the challenge of exercise within the bodily systems.

Some simple ways to get more exercise into your day include just moving or walking more. Park your car at the far end of the parking lot at your job or choose stairs instead of the elevator. If possible, spend part of your lunch break walking or take a few short walks throughout the day. Break the TV habit in favor of exercise or, if you have the space, exercise in front of the TV. Don’t sit for too long at one time. In recent years, research has suggested that staying seated for long periods of time is bad for your health, no matter how much exercise you get.

Before beginning any new exercise regimen, be sure to speak with your physician. Stop and get immediate medical attention if you have pain or pressure in your chest or the upper part of your body, break out in a cold sweat, have trouble breathing, have a very fast or uneven heart rate, or feel dizzy, lightheaded, and/or very tired.

 

By Gina Stallone

Stay Safe on the Slopes

January is National Sports/Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month. TBI stands for Traumatic Brain Injury. This month is meant to shed light on concussions and other brain injuries sustained during sports, specifically that of winter sports. Traumatic brain injury occurs when a trauma, such as a fall, head injury, or car crash, causes damage to the way the brain functions. According to the American Physical Therapy Association, approximately 1.7 million TBIs occur each year in the US, resulting in 52,000 deaths and 275,000 hospitalizations. TBI is usually misdiagnosed which often causes complications or the death of the patient.

Football & hockey are most commonly associated with these types of injuries however skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and snowmobiling also can cause significant damage. A 10-year study by the International Federation of Skiing documented 320 concussions sustained by athletes in the disciplines of alpine skiing, freestyle skiing, snowboarding, and ski jumping.

The National Ski Areas Association has provided the following tips for staying safe on the slopes this winter:

  • Always wear a helmet! Make sure that the helmet fits properly and that you fasten the chin strap. You want to be sure to have a proper winter activity helmet, not a bicycle helmet. Ski & snowboard helmets have specific features geared towards those activities
  • Wear the proper size skis. Larger skis may be harder to control. Speak to a professional in order to pick the appropriate size skis for your body type
  • Have proper bindings which keep your boots to the skis or snowboard. Binds should be able to release your foot but not too easily & should be adjusted by a professional
  • Boots should fit correctly, not too big or too tight. Your boots should also be warm and should be secured to the skis or snowboard
  • Like skis, poles should be of appropriate length and should have looped straps which go around your wrists

In the event that an injury does occur, be sure to seek medical attention immediately. Do not continue with the sport or activity until cleared by a medical professional. Rest is the best form of treatment when it comes to a concussion. This will allow the brain to better recover and prevent further damage. You may be advised to abstain from physical activity and even activities which require you to focus or learn new concepts. This may involve working less hours or shortening your school days. As symptoms begin to improve, you may gradually increase activity level as advised by your doctor. Keep in mind that repeated blows to the head can lead to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. This is a progressive, degenerative disease that has been linked to memory loss, impaired judgment, insomnia, dementia, and severe depression. Follow the tips above & always err on the side of caution when participating in vigorous winter activities.

As with most sports & activities, you should get yourself in shape prior to hitting the slopes. You can’t ski your way into shape and you will enjoy it much more if you’re physically fit. Come to The Arena & train with our strength & conditioning coaches who can get you in great shape for the slopes & throughout the whole year.

By Gina Stallone CPT

Learn this Simple Lifesaving Technique

 

This is a true story that I hope inspires you to take action.

A few weeks ago I was at a friend’s birthday dinner with my family. A lady sitting at the far end of my table suddenly stood up holding her throat looking in distress. She began walking toward the bar. The lights were dim and the music loud. Most people in the crowded room didn’t seem to notice. Her friends sitting at the table did not follow her. Maybe they thought she wanted privacy? Earlier I had overheard her saying that she had many food allergies and was extremely sensitive. I initially thought she was having an allergic reaction to something she ate.

A member of the waitstaff followed her. I was concerned and followed her as well. My thoughts at that point were to ask her about and look for an EpiPen as she had known allergies. As I got closer she collapsed to her knees still holding her throat. At that point it seemed more like she was choking and all of a sudden those years of CPR training and recertification I had received, that I hoped I never had to use, kicked in. I yelled to the bartender to call 911 (which they were on their way to do anyway). In an emergency, always call 911 to get help on the way as quickly as possible.

I asked her if she was choking and wanted me to help her and she desperately nodded. Strange and obvious as this question may sound, this is part of the protocol. There were some waitstaff and bartenders around us and someone asked if I knew what to do. I said I had training in this, would do all I can to help and then got to work.

After performing two rounds of the abdominal thrust protocol also known as the Heimlich Maneuver, her airway cleared and she started coughing and breathing. I cannot describe the relief and gratitude I felt, and cannot even imagine what she must have felt at that moment.

What was most striking, and almost surreal, to me during this experience was the automatic response and calm control I felt. The reason being, every time I’ve taken CPR classes over the years, I’ve always dreaded actually being in a situation where the training was necessary. My fear was that I wouldn’t act effectively under pressure in the heat of the moment. But I felt surprisingly clear-minded, the procedure seemed to flow and thankfully was successful. The lady, although a little shaken, was ok.

Another thing that struck me was the fact that with so many people around, no one else followed her to see if she needed help as she walked away. Some people may not be able to recognize signs of distress, or maybe want to give privacy and not embarrass someone if they don’t realize the gravity of the situation. If you feel you are in distress, make it known that you need help. This is crucial.

My reason for sharing this story is to encourage you to get training in CPR or CPR/First Aid. You can make a huge difference in, and maybe even save someone’s life. Familiarize yourself with the basics because things really do happen at unexpected times. Then continue to be re-certified/trained as years go by. Practice and brush up on these skills once in a while. Repetition is what creates motor memory and will make a difference when there is real stress involved.

Some of us are required to have this training based on our careers. But even if it’s not a requirement, do it anyway. Sometimes professional help may be too far away when every second counts. So the more prepared we are to respond and take appropriate action when time is of the essence, the better our chances of successful outcomes.

There are lots of resources online for basic information and classes everywhere. Simply Google CPR classes in your area and you’ll easily find one.  Below are some links to help you get started.

 

Links:

http://www.redcross.org/flash/brr/English-html/conscious-choking.asp

http://henryheimlich.com/how-to-perform-the-heimlich-maneuver/

https://www.webmd.com/first-aid/choking-in-children#1

https://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4240175_Pediatric_ready_reference.pdf

https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/lp/cpr-first-aid-aed-certification-new-hero?utm=a&device=d&scode=PSG00000E017&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIyqem79HI2AIVB1gNCh3r8AciEAAYASAAEgLSE_D_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds&dclid=CNOCm5fSyNgCFcQONwodYiUCTA

What Can We Learn from Top Athletes?

One of the quotes that better describes the mindset of successful athletes says, “Top athletes train as if they are the worst, yet compete as if they are the best.” I find it to be a humble, yet a powerful description of how an elite athlete goes about the mental preparation to succeed. Success is not consistently achieved by just showing up to compete and trying your best. Elite athletes clearly understand that the best predictor of success is a well-structured practice that pushes their physical, strategic, and mindset boundaries. Only when practices are used to their fullest potential, ideal performance are achieved.

Here are the best five habits shared by elite athletes that we can also implement:

Goal setting

Elite athletes plan their course of action by specifically setting out their goals under a reasonable time-table. Knowing exactly what they want to achieve pushes them to take action in direction toward constant improvement. Goals are broken down by identifying long-term objectives first and then working backwards by setting short term goals. One way to effectively stay on track on the achievement is by using a SMART chart. Eliud Keichogue, who ran 2nd in the 2016 London Marathon, kept track of all his progress, which helps him to remind himself of all his success and progress he was making to meet his goals.

 

 

Embrace mistakes as a learning experience

Elite athletes compete against themselves. All their focus is on improving their skills, mindset and performance. Missing the achievement of a goal is not a setback, but rather an opportunity to learn and improve for next time. Avoiding mistakes will only limit their achievements. Learning how to cope with setbacks will push them to achieve their goals. They see a big difference between obstacles versus challenges. The former places focus on the negative whereas the latter on the positive. Elite athletes are constantly learning from all their opportunities that are given and use that experience to feed more information and critical thinking to plan better for next time.

 

  • Sleep

Usain Bolt shared that his unnegotiable preparation routine is sleep. Sleeping is a time to recover and re-energize the body and mind. Make sure your room is free from electronics, a bit on the cooler side as it helps to rest the body quicker, and maintain a routine. Equally effective are power-naps. It provides time for the body to heal and, most importantly, for the mind to be fresh and ready to react and respond.

 

  • Imagery

The imagery of attaining goals is a powerful tool that feeds the brain with positive energy, optimism and motivation. Athletes visualize the achievement of their goal prior to starting each of their performances and practices.  There are two ways of doing imagery work: Internal Imagery: the athlete sees him/herself executing the ideal performance by bringing in as vivid an imagery as possible. The athlete “feels” the entire experience of the performance as if he/she is really doing it. The clearer and the more vivid the imagery is, the more the body will remember such an experience. External Imagery: the athlete sees him/herself competing as if he/she was on a canvas or screen of a movie theatre. In this case, there is an imaginary distance where the athlete “sees” him/herself successfully completing the entire performance rather than sensing it in his/her body.

  • Be happy

Katie Ledecky, a multiple time Olympic and World swimming champion, has learned to take competition in a happy, more relaxed manner. She shares that she places anxious moments at an arm’s length by bringing positive thoughts to any negative thoughts that start to creep into her mind. She finds that smiling and laughter brings relaxation and are natural remedies to alleviate stress.

Hope these tips used by elite athletes are equally incorporated in your routines. If it works from them, it can clearly work for us.

Alex Diaz, PhD

Sports Mental Edge