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For November 14, 2018

  • The anti-aging effects of blueberries
    The anti-aging effects of blueberries

    The secret to eternal youth may already be atop your cereal. A recent study in the Journal of Neuroscience found that eating blueberries can reverse age-related loss of memory and motor skills. Nineteen-month-old rats (equivalent in age to 65-year-old humans) that were fed strawberry or spinach or blueberry extracts -- foods high in antioxidants -- all showed improved memory, but rats that ate the blueberry extract regained balance and coordination as well. This discovery comes on the heels of earlier findings that antioxidant-rich foods can prevent neurological degeneration associated with aging.

    Blueberries, like the other foods tested, contain flavonoids, potent antioxidants which are believed to reduce free-radical damage, but researchers are uncertain of what it is that makes the berries in particular so effective. Regardless, says the study's lead author, Dr. James A. Joseph, "nothing bad has happened from eating blue-berries, and nobody's ever OD'd."

    From Mensjournal.com by Emma Sussman Starr
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  • What Athletes Eat To Win
    What Athletes Eat To Win

    Three top athletes � a professional basketball player, a triathlete and a rodeo clown � reveal the dietary regimens they say help them maintain peak performance.

    Eric Snow
    Professional Basketball Player

    I try to be conscious of my diet � partly because I can�t knock off the pounds as easily as when I was younger and partly because you don�t want to be too full playing in the NBA.

    Some guys eat whatever they want, but I stick to a fairly consistent regimen: On game days, breakfast consists of a bagel or some toast and a piece of fruit; when we don�t have a game, I might have a bigger breakfast such as pancakes. But if I eat a really big breakfast on game days, it throws me off: I might be full until 4 p.m., so I�ll skip lunch and can�t eat because it�s too close to game time.

    Lunch is usually my big meal � some pasta or chicken. On game days, that�s all I have until after the game. Then, I might eat something like a turkey sandwich or a salad � something just to tide me over. I�m usually not hungry after a game and don�t want to eat a heavy meal before going to sleep. I may splurge on ice cream, but that�s pretty much it for junk food. And I never eat pork or beef. Before I was in the NBA, I ate a lot more food and still felt hungry. Now, I feel satisfied.

    My biggest concentration for competing is to drink enough. I drink four 32-ounce glasses of water or Gatorade throughout the day, including one at every meal. That�s the real key � drinking enough. Eric Snow is the starting point guard for the Philadelphia 76ers.


    Doug Stern
    Triathelete

    How and what I eat before exercise depends on many factors � the distance or duration of a race or workout, how long I�ve been training, the weather � but one thing always is constant: fluid intake, which is 8 ounces every hour throughout the day. During intense exercise, you can sweat as much as 8 ounces every 20 minutes.

    When I was competing, I trained about two to three hours a day, and I would lose about 8 ounces of sweat every 20 minutes or so. To keep myself hydrated, I would drink gallons of water mixed with powdered vitamin C and electrolytes throughout the day. But during competition, I, as well as many other triathletes, drank a mixture of water and �flat� cola, which we mixed beforehand. We did this because the cola contains caffeine to keep you up, and it is easily digested.

    My competition diet was high-carb and healthful, but I�ve always focused more on when I eat than what I eat. If a race were on Saturday, I would �carbo-load� from Wednesday on by keeping my meals constant but decreasing my activity level. That means a breakfast of cereal and fruit; lunch consists of pasta or a bagel and vegetables; and dinner contains meat or chicken for protein. The night before a race, I would have a big lunch and a very small dinner, if at all, to keep my bowels fairly empty. The morning of a race, I would only have coffee and cereal at least 1 � hours before the start of the race.

    Doug Stern has competed in nearly 40 triathlons, a race consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 18-mile run and 50-mile bike race. He wrote a training column for Triathlete magazine and currently teaches swimming in New York City.

    Paul Bonds
    Rodeo Bullfighter

    As a rodeo clown, my job is to protect the cowboy � to distract a raging bull long enough for the cowboy to get away. It�s tough and dangerous work, and you have to be in top physical condition. A rodeo cowboy has to last eight seconds on a bull whose mission is to throw him, but I�m out there working for that eight seconds, the next eight seconds, the next eight seconds �one cowboy after another, for the entire night.

    It�s hard to maintain a steady healthful diet because I�m on the road continuously from April to October, and I�m forced to eat a lot of fast food. I do try to eat a high-carbohydrate meal before I work to give me the energy I need. I eat a lot of pasta and beans; it helps keep my legs fresh. But no matter where I am or what food is available, I drink plenty of water � four 32-ounce cups of water each day. No way you can do this work without keeping yourself hydrated.

    Paul Bonds, a member of the International Professional Rodeo Association, spends half the year touring the U.S. rodeo circuit and the other half at home in Oklahoma City.

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  • Great Weight-Loss Expectations
    Great Weight-Loss Expectations

    What�s Realistic?

    (MSNBC News Services, September 10 1999) � �It just isn�t working,� you say, and you give up on an important diet or exercise resolution. It�s tempting to toss in the towel when you don�t get results fast enough. One way to overcome this temptation is to develop healthy habits that don�t feel like torture. Equally important, however, is to have realistic expectations in the first place.

    STUDIES SHOW that exercise is one of the main influences on long-term weight control. But for most people, exercise works slowly. For someone who has been a �couch potato� for a number of years to start a walking program is a big accomplishment. Yet each pound of fat loss requires burning an extra 3,500 calories more than are taken in. Research shows that a person who weighs 180 pounds and walks three days a week for 30 minutes at a medium-paced three miles per hour would take almost four months to lose a pound. Someone hoping to lose a few pounds a week would have given up long before that.

    Exercise can produce greater results. The acronym FIT � for Frequency, Intensity and Time � tells you how to increase the benefits. Instead of walking three days each week, which is considered the minimum for maintaining your current level of fitness, walking five or six days a week will allow the calorie-burning to add up more quickly. Or once you�ve conditioned yourself to walking three miles per hour, you can increase that to a brisk four miles per hour and burn about an extra 50 calories a session. Interval training, in which you periodically push a bit harder, is a great way to burn more calories and increase your level of fitness. Or, if you can manage an hour instead of just a half hour of walking, you double the calories you burn. The hour can be broken up and spread through the day.

    Studies show that even by combining these strategies, it would take you five to six weeks to lose a pound. Your average weight loss would be eight to 10 pounds per year. This is plenty to improve fitness and gradually reduce your weight, but if you feel a need to lose weight a little faster, add some other strategies.

    Weight-training exercise to increase muscle is one way to burn more calories. Muscle tissue burns more calories than does body fat. In studies of weight-training programs, in about 12 weeks people who add three pounds of muscle (while losing fat) can burn an extra 120 to 200 calories per day.

    Look at your eating habits, too. By cutting back on portions or skipping a snack that was purely habit, many people can easily eliminate 200 extra calories a day without going hungry at all. That 200 calories daily can mean loss of almost half a pound a week.

    By combining these strategies, weight loss can proceed at the rate of a half to one pound per week. This is the rate experts recommend to safely lose mainly fat tissue, without loss of muscle tissue or slowing down metabolic rate. A year from now you�ll be a lot better off than the people who spend the year stopping and starting less sensible exercise and diet resolutions.

    These types of exercise and eating changes have been shown in many studies to produce a wide range of other benefits long before weight loss stacks up. You�ll find it easier to carry things and climb stairs. You�ll have more energy and feel less stressed. Notice and celebrate these and other changes in how you feel, and the temptation to forsake your resolutions will simply fade away.

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  • The Supermeal
    The Supermeal

    Remember how Mom always used to warn you "Skip breakfast and you're asking for a tidal wave of neuropeptide Y two hours after lunch"? Okay, maybe she didn't put it so technically. But she undoubtedly said that breakfast is the most critical meal of the day.

    Nutrition researchers, of course, reached the same conclusion long ago. Skipping breakfast, they found, can slow your metabolic rate. In fact, studies from the Mayo Clinic show that breakfast eaters burn up to 150 more calories per day than do those people who don't eat breakfast. Also, "eating breakfast is a good way to short-circuit after-lunch cravings," says Dr. Wayne Callaway, a nutritionist at the Mayo Clinic. Researchers have found that when underfed lab rats are finally given a meal, levels of neuropeptide Y -- the neurotransmitter that triggers the snacking impulse -- skyrocket, causing the animals to binge even though they're full. And studies of schoolkids have shown that skipping breakfast can turn your thinking to mush. Breakfast truly is, as the Zulus call it, indlakusasa, or the "strength meal." Here are some simple ways to maximize its benefits.

    Follow the 25 percent rule. Breakfast should account for at least a quarter of your daily calories, says Callaway. Some men do better by dividing the day's allotment into thirds, while others prefer a breakfast-lunch-dinner ratio of 30-40-30. No matter which pattern works best for you, he says, if you can adhere to it for three weeks, your appetite will naturally "lock on" to the routine. How much food are we talking about? Consider this example: If a 30-year-old man weighs 160 pounds, stands 5 foot 10, and works out regularly, he'll burn about 2,640 calories a day. He could eat 2 pieces of whole-grain toast with a teaspoon of margarine and 2 tablespoons of honey (322 calories); 1 cup of Wheaties with a half-cup of skim milk (144 calories); 5 strips of bacon (163 calories); 1 banana (116 calories); 1 cup of coffee with whole milk (20 calories); and 4 ounces of orange juice (56 calories). The total: 821 calories, or 31 percent of his daily fuel requirement.

    Eat carbs first. When you sleep, your body is in a fasting state; to fuel metabolism and brain function, it uses carbohydrates stored as glycogen. So when you wake up, "your body still has plenty of fat to burn, but what you don't have is very many carbohydrates," explains James Hill, Ph.D., the associate director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado in Denver. Refuel with a breakfast that is high in carbohydrates -- whole-grain cereal and toast or a bagel, plus a piece of fruit. Choose whole grains. High-fiber, whole-grain carbohydrates contain more nutrients than refined, processed ones do, and they'll make you feel fuller for longer periods. Select whole-wheat toast, hot oatmeal, or a cold cereal, such as bran flakes or shredded wheat, with at least five grams of fiber per serving.

    Have some java. Caffeine increases the production of dopamine and norepinephrine, neurotransmitters involved in mental acuity, says Judith Wurtman, Ph.D., a cognitive-science researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Wurtman, the author of Managing Your Mind & Mood Through Food, calls caffeinated beverages "probably the most potent mind-alerting component of breakfast." Just a cup or two should do the trick.

    Catch a protein lift. Wurtman believes that a breakfast delivering at least an ounce of protein can enhance mental function by providing the brain with tyrosine, a chemical necessary for alertness. You can get that from one cup of yogurt or from a two-egg omelet.

    By: Jim Thornton

    Originally featured in Men's Journal

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  • Lighter training regimens best for immune system
    Lighter training regimens best for immune system

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) -- Aerobic exercise three times per week may be of greater benefit to the immune system than heavier regimens of five or more times per week, researchers report.

    "From the viewpoint of immune function, the optimal training regimen is of low volume," reports Dr. Roy Shephard and colleagues at the University of Toronto in Canada. Their findings are published in a recent issue of the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness.

    Previous research has suggested that an excess of athletic activity can actually depress immune function. "According to this viewpoint, light training is supposed to enhance the immune response," the Canadian researchers explain, "but larger volumes of training have a depressant effect, leaving the individual temporarily more vulnerable to viral infections."

    The investigators asked 33 healthy but generally inactive men between 19 to 29 years of age to take part in one of two 12-week exercise programs -- 40 minutes of aerobic exercise (jogging or cycling) performed either 3 or 5 days per week.

    Blood tests taken before, during, and soon after exercise revealed that levels of "killer" CD16 cells rose by 27% in the light training group (3 days/week) compared with just 21% in the moderate-training (5 days/week) group.

    Levels of antibody-producing immune B cells dropped by 33% after moderate training, the researchers add, while light training "had no effect on B cell count."

    The investigators conclude that for "the sedentary young adult, it does appear that any (immune-) protective advantage of physical activity can be obtained from a light training programme."

    Moderate training did have benefits unrelated to immune function, however. The authors note that only those involved in the moderate exercise program lost weight and fat over the 12-week period. Overweight and obesity have long been associated with an increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

    Source: Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 1999;39:1-11.

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  • Hormone Induces Weight Loss
    Hormone Induces Weight Loss

    Injections of Leptin Shown to Curb Appetite in Young Girl

    (MSNBC Health, September 15 1999) � For the first time, injections of the hormone leptin have been shown to curb appetite and induce weight loss in a human, a new study says. Scientists caused a stir four years ago when they announced that leptin could evoke weight loss in mice, but until now, a direct role in human obesity had not been confirmed.

    THE FINDINGS by doctors at Addenbrooke�s Hospital in Cambridge, England, provide important clues as researchers try to decipher the genetic and environmental factors in obesity. The work could lead to medical treatments for some forms of the condition. Leptin is a protein produced by fat cells. It is supposed to signal the brain to stop eating, but the signal does not get through properly in some overweight people.

    The study published in Thursday�s edition of The New England Journal of Medicine involved a severely overweight 9-year-old girl who suffered from a rare genetic defect in which her body produced virtually no leptin. While the girl�s condition is uncommon, the researchers, led by Dr. I Sadaf Farooqi, believe the findings have implications for the general population.

    Obesity is a major source of illness and death, and is the most common nutritional ailment in the United States, according to the Minnesota Obesity Center. The new work involved a girl from a Pakistani family who was born with a leptin deficiency. She was so overweight, she got liposuction at age six to remove fat from her legs and allow her to move around. She was constantly hungry and became disruptive when denied food.

    In 1997, when the girl was 9 and weighed 208 pounds, doctors began administering daily injections of leptin. With the shots, her weight gain stopped abruptly. Her mother and doctor found that the girl began eating far less food than before, and stopped craving between-meal snacks. She began losing 2 to 4 pounds per month. After a year of treatment, she had lost 36 pounds, virtually none of it muscle and all of it fat.

    In addition, her level of physical activity increased 19 percent during the first 12 months of therapy. �Treatment of this 9-year-old patient with congenital leptin deficiency with recombinant leptin led to a sustained reduction in weight, predominantly as a result of a loss of fat,� said Farooqi.

    WON'T BE EASY

    In an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Michael Rosenbaum and Dr. Rudolph Leibel of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons said further research on leptin �may help to move us closer to an effective pharmacologic treatment of obesity.� But many factors besides leptin affect weight, and people should not conclude that leptin injections would make losing weight easy, they added.

    If anything, leptin might help some people stick to a diet by curbing their hunger and aid in keeping the weight off, Rosenbaum said. �The only thing that we know is that it decreases appetite in this child and in a mouse,� Rosenbaum said. �It�s not the be-all and the end-all to promote effortless weight loss.�

    Leptin is being tested in ordinary fat people as an appetite suppressant. Preliminary findings from one study indicate that it isn�t a miracle cure, but shows some promise when combined with diet and exercise. Dr. Richard A. Dickey, President of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, called the study �a great start,� adding that although doctors generally believe many factors are involved in human obesity, leptin is clearly important.

    �It�s very possible that this child is a clue to appetite control and weight gain across a large portion of the population,� he said. �I think that everybody�s excited about the role of leptin.�

    The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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