Jan

7

A study conducted in Spain reported that consumption of both polyunsaturated fatty acids, (found in nuts, seeds, fish, and leafy green vegetables), and monounsaturated fatty acids, (found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts), decreases the risk for depression over time. However, there were clear dose-response relationships between dietary intake of trans fats and depression risk, whereas other data support an association between trans fats and ischemic stroke risk. Trans fats are found extensively in processed foods, including many commercial chocolates, (hence, check that label when considering dietary intake of chocolate. Also, only the highest levels of dark cocoa contain healthy antioxidants, not milk chocolate). A deficiency in polyunsaturated fatty acids has been linked to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children. Thanks to their high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, namely omega-3 fatty acids, fish can help fend off numerous diseases of the brain. A 2010 study correlated fish consumption with a lower risk for psychotic symptoms, and concurrent work suggested that fish oil may help prevent psychosis in high-risk individuals. Although data are conflicting, new research shows that the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid are beneficial in depression and postpartum depression, respectively, and other research suggests that omega-3 deficiency may be a risk factor for suicide. Oily, cold-water fish, such as salmon, herring, and mackerel, have the highest omega-3 levels. Keep in mind that Atlantic fish have elevated levels of mercury and PCB’s compared to Alaskan/Pacific fish, and that farm raised fish contain very little healthy omega 3 fatty acids, due to the confined breeding of farm raised fish.

Aug

6

This week I would like to talk about exercise.  For the most part the word exercise appears to be a foreign word lately. I started exercising when I was 13, and I haven’t stopped since.  At the gym each day I see a myriad of individuals trying to stay fit, but in reality this is only a small minority of the population at large.  Our society has now become so obtuse in their habits that getting an extra fifteen minutes of sleep trumps an exercise regimen.  I hear excuses in my office all day long, from “I have kids”, to “my job doesn’t allow me the time”, and on and on.  I have yet to hear a reason that is not merely an excuse to not have to exercise. Quite simply, these excuses are in reality a way of stating that exercise is just not a priority.  The simple truth is that by not getting needed exercise, in effect, you are pretty much agreeing to a shorter life expectancy, which by the way, is predicted to be shorter for the first time in history with the upcoming generation associated with diabetes, hypertension and all of the syndromes associated with lethargy and poor eating habits.  Humans were not put on this earth to sit and watch television and eat yodels.  Genetically and historically, we essentially were out chasing food, or being chased as food.  Because of technology, it is now quite easy to not have to move much during the day, and even easier to eat pre-made stuff full of preservatives and chemicals with no real nutritional value whatsoever.  If you have already lost your health because of poor eating habits and lack of exercise, you should probably discuss any upcoming exercise plans with your doctor first.  However, if you still have your health, doing anything is better than doing nothing. And the more fit you are, the higher the intensity should be your exercise. As an example of light exercise, when going to the market, rather than driving around stalking that close parking space, take a far one and walk. If you are able, jogging in place for several minutes is great exercise.  Doing so in say 8 intervals of 20s of jogging with 10s of rest is extraordinary.  Just three days per week of this would actually change your health as well as your body. If you do the math, that is 4 minutes, three days per week.  Can you still honestly say that you do not have the time? Not if you are truly honest. For those interested in maximizing their fitness regimens, I have already published several articles on that topic which are readily available, (search word: HIIT), on the fitness page and in the articles section of my website.

Jan

12

For those of you with any kind of history of serious fitness training behind you, a dramatic shift has occurred in the world of fitness with the almost stratospheric rise in ”cross-fit” type workouts, likely because of the combination in time savings and the enormous gain in benefits from daily exercise, both of which occur with these new style workouts. Also coined HIIT, for High Intensity Interval Training, these workouts are super intense, with little to no break time between activities, and incorporating several muscle groups at one time. In the past, fitness regimens were largely bodybuilding based, including several sets of isolated muscle work, for lengthy sessions upwards around an hour. On odd days, the performance of long boring cardio sessions on the aerobic equipment. There are still many who train this way, either out of familiarity or simply because they are not privy to newer information. This premise of fitness, now seemingly antiquated, in spite of its acceptance and benefits, has several drawbacks, the single biggest of which is time commitments. While older protocols of sets and reps can create large muscles, they can also leave aspiring trainees with little athleticism or fitness diversity. If improperly performed, these programs can contribute to notable muscle imbalance, faulty kinetics, (motion patterns), and general dysfunction. In contrast, the cross-fitness movement promotes athleticism and athletic synchrony. By emphasizing compound exercises involving several muscle groups simultaneously, and diversity of routines, fitness “muscle confusion” is produced. By keeping the body physiologically confused, one never fully adapts to a “routine” and will continually improve in fitness and athleticism without plateaus, so common using older standards of training. The cardio benefits associated with HIIT type exercise have been demonstrated to be enormous, as you don’t just burn calories during the activity, you will actually burn calories at a higher rate for the remainder of the day. And most of the routines? About fifteen minutes in total. Thats it.

So whats the down side of these more modern fitness training protocols? Well, for one, most people are following videos on the internet, so there is inherent risk in using improper form which can lead to injury. Because of the intensity level of these new regimens, it is possible for beginners to experience a condition known as “exertional rhabdomyolysis”, or simply stated, overtraining. If you are new to fitness and are using HIIT type training, monitor your body and results carefully and consider starting on a 3 or 4 day per week routine initially. There are also considerable cardiac and respiratory demands associated with this style of working out as your heart rate will quickly elevate to extreme levels as will your breathing, so it is imperative that you know that your heart and lungs are capable of keeping up with you. As with any exercise regimen, you should consult with your family physician prior.

On a personal note, I am a past record holding competitive bodybuilder/powerlifter, and I have never felt as fit as I currently do. I have been doing variations of HIIT for about a year now.  For more information on fitness, refer to my Fitness page.

Jul

25

If you are new to exercise, I think you will find the following information extremely helpful.  Recent studies have demonstrated that the “negative” or “eccentric” movement of an exercise, offers the most beneficial changes to both the muscles being exercised and your overall blood chemistry.  Further, it has been suggested that even doing as little as one 30 minute session per week will make favorable changes in your overall health.

So what exactly is a “negative” or “eccentric” movement?  Any activity requires both a concentric and an eccentric component.  The concentric component is the phase whereby the muscle is shortening while performing the activity.  An example would be curling a dumbbell.  The eccentric phase of the movement would be the phase of movement whereby the muscle is lengthening while still under load.  Using the same example, this would be the lowering of the dumbbell after curling it.  So what does this mean and how can you exploit this information to improve your health?  Well, it means that something as simple as walking down steps, or down a hill, (yes, the easier half!) can be very beneficial with respect to changing your health.  If you are already exercising regularly, you can get more bang for the time expenditure by accentuating the eccentric phase of all of your exercise movements by performing the concentric phase over 1-2 seconds, the eccentric phase for 3-4 seconds.  For example if you are doing a pushup you should lower yourself to the floor slowly, 3-4 seconds.  Push up in 1-2 seconds.  This technique can be applied to most any workout routine.

Studies have shown that exercising in this way actually causes the most desirable changes on blood chemistry in reversing deleterious changes such as all of those associated with the metabolic syndrome, (obesity, hypertension, type II diabetes, etc.).

If you are not already exercising, try and formulate a 30 minute session once per week to perform eccentric activities such as walking down steps or any activity accentuating the eccentric phase.  Naturally it would be better to perform an exercise session at least three times per week, but if you are currently doing nothing, once per week is a major improvement and will evoke desirable changes in your overall health.  As your health improves you will find it easier to invest more time in additional exercise sessions.  There is no one who cannot find thirty minutes per week to exercise.