Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Juicy News

It seems everyone I know is into juicing these days.The more I learn about juicing fruits and vegetables, the more I think it might be a good way to eat (or drink) more of those key foods, especially for those who fall short of the recommended daily intake. If you’re thinking of giving juicing a try, here are some things to keep in mind.


- Juice can be “a very healthy addition to a healthy diet,” says Jolia Allen, online managing editor for Vegetarian Times. Fresh juice delivers a concentrated dose of vitamins (particularly antioxidants such as Vitamin C), minerals and other nutrients without filling you up. Allen notes that a single glass of carrot juice may contain the nutrients of up to 10 whole carrots.

- You can put whole fruits and vegetables in a juicer, letting the machine do the work of removing the inedible parts.

- If you create the right combination of ingredients, fresh juice is by all accounts
simply delicious.


- “Juicing is processing,” says Manuel Villacorta, a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association. “With any whole food, the more you process it, the less nutrients you’re going to get.” Removing pulp gets rid of a lot of fiber, and without skin you miss out on such “micronutrients” as carotenoids and flavonoids that have the potential to reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

- Cleaning the machine afterward is almost universally regarded as a pain in the neck.

- Juice supplies a lot of sugar at once and adds more calories per ounce than whole fruit or vegetables.


Key nutrients. If you’re looking to boost your intake of certain vitamins and minerals, toss these in your juicer. For Vitamin C: carrots, pineapple, parsley. For calcium: kale, collards. For potassium: oranges, tomatoes, spinach.


Save money. Juicers go through vegetables fast. Allen suggests buying seasonal produce (such as strawberries and spinach) at their peak and freezing them to use during the offseason, when they cost more. Or buy in bulk from a local farm. Better yet: Grow your own.

Chill out. Because friction from the juicer warms up the juice, use frozen produce or toss a couple of ice cubes into the machine to cool things down.

Preserve. If you have a bit left over, add a squeeze of lemon or orange juice to keep your juice from oxidizing (which makes it turn brown) and save it, no longer than overnight, in the fridge.


Your choice of a juicer depends largely on what you intend to juice and how much you want to spend. Here’s a sampling of what’s out there, from low-end to high, including two popular mid-priced models.

Metrokane Mighty OJ. This citrus-only juicer is easy to use and clean. It’s so old-school, I actually own one but never thought of it as a juicer. All-chrome model No. 3506, $50 at

Jack LaLanne’s Power Juicer Express. A “no-drip spout” tilts upward when you’re done, preventing juice from messing up your counter. The recipe book includes more than 100 LaLanne-inspired blends. This is the one my hairdresser uses. $100 at

Juiceman Wide-Mouth Juice Extractor. With a 4-inch tube opening (most others are just 3 inches), this machine can accommodate whole apples and even cuts of pineapple with the rind intact. Model No. JM550S, $100 at

Hurom Slow Juicer. This works by “chewing” the produce instead of chopping and separating juice from solids by centrifugal force. It’s slow-going but can handle tougher items such as nuts and soybeans. Model No. HU-100, $359 at


A main difference between juicing and blending is the thickness of the juice. A blender’s blades mix pulp and juice together, whereas most juicers use centrifugal force to separate juice from solids, producing a thinner liquid. With a juicer, you can use whole fruits and vegetables, including small seeds, skins and rinds. When using a blender, remove peels (though some skins, such as apple and pear, can be left on), rinds and seeds — anything you don’t want to end up in your belly.

Recipes. From “The Everything Juicing Book” by Carole Jacobs, Patrice Johnson and Nicole Cormier (Adams Media, March 2010):

- Popeye’s Secret: 2 kale leaves, 1 beet top and greens, 1 fist of spinach, 1 / 2 cup broccoli florets. All of these vegetables contain Vitamin C, an antioxidant that may help reduce the risk of cancer.

- Salad in a Glass: 1 cup broccoli, 3 butterhead lettuce leaves, 1 carrot, 2 red radishes, 1 green onion. Broccoli is rich in Vitamin K, which helps blood clot normally.

- Garlic Delight: 3 Roma tomatoes, 2 red apples, 1 clove garlic, 1 sprig Italian parsley. Tomatoes and parsley are both good sources of vitamins A, C and K and of potassium, which helps keep blood pressure in check.


Citrus peels. The pungent, bitter oils will overshadow the taste of the juice.

Pits. Remove the hard pits from cherries, peaches and other stone fruits to avoid damaging the blades.

Your fingers. Always use the food pusher to avoid contact with the ultra-sharp blades.

Source: Jennifer LaRue Huget,The Washington Post; 3/30/11

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

 Milk from cows that recently gave birth may benefit athletes

Drinking milk produced by cows in the 48 hours after giving birth could enhance athletic performance, scientists have found.

Athletes given early milk for two weeks before a trial had a big reduction in a rise in "gut leakiness".

The project is the first collaboration of Aberystwyth Department of Sport and Exercise Science, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

The findings could also have implications for heat stroke. "Extremes of temperature and exercise are often suffered by armed forces in desert war scenarios and can result in heat stroke, which is life-threatening” stated Dr.Ray Playford from the London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Also known as bovine colostrum, early milk is abundant in bioactive components, commercially available, and usually obtained from organic dairies.

The project looked at athletes who were asked to run for 20 minutes at 80% of their aerobic maximum.Under standard conditions, gut leakiness had increased by 250% and temperature had risen by up to 2 degrees.

But when the group were given a drink of early milk for two weeks before the trial, the rise in gut leakiness was reduced by about 80 per cent, despite the same effort and temperature rise.

Playford explains: "Athletes' performance can be seriously diminished due to gut symptoms during heavy exercise.We have been looking at natural approaches to reduce this problem as the range of products that athletes can legitimately take is very limited.Our findings suggest colostrum may have real value in helping our athletes perform."

Gut disorders induced by exercise are common in runners.The body's response to increased permeability is to clear the gut contents, giving rise to symptoms such as diarrhea to avoid toxins from gut organisms entering the bloodstream, because these can contribute to symptoms associated with heat stroke and can result in damage to internal organs.

Dr Glen Davison of Aberystwyth University, who coordinated the research at Aberystwyth, said: "The findings show that bovine colostrum supplementation can have beneficial effects on the immune system and illness in athletes as well as helping to protect the gut."

Source: The findings were published in the March 2011 issue of the American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology.
More on This Story

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What Nuts Are The Best For Me?

Walnuts are the healthiest of all the nuts and should be eaten more as part of a healthy diet, US scientists say. Scientists from Pennsylvania told the American Chemical Society that walnuts contain the highest level of antioxidants compared to other nuts. Antioxidants are known to help protect the body against disease.

The scientists said that all nuts have good nutritional qualities but walnuts are healthier than peanuts, almonds, pecans and pistachios.

Dr Joe Vinson, from the University of Scranton, analysed the antioxidant levels of nine different types of nuts and discovered that a handful of walnuts contained twice as many antioxidants as a handful of any other commonly eaten nut. He found that these antioxidants were higher in quality and potency than in any other nut.

Antioxidants are good because they stop the chain reactions that damage cells in the body when oxidation occurs.

Roasted nuts

The antioxidants found in walnuts were also two to 15 times as powerful as vitamin E, which is known to protect the body against damaging natural chemicals involved in causing disease, the study says.

Nuts are known to be healthy and nutritious, containing high-quality protein, lots of vitamins and minerals as well as dietary fibre. They are also dairy and gluten-free.

Previous research has shown that regular consumption of small amounts of nuts can reduce the risk of heart disease, some types of cancer, type two diabetes and other health problems.

Dr Vinson said there was another advantage in choosing walnuts as a source of antioxidants: "The heat from roasting nuts generally reduces the quality of the antioxidants.

"People usually eat walnuts raw or unroasted, and get the full effectiveness of those antioxidants."

Source:BBC News Health, March 27, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Going on a Diet Can Make You Irritable

It may usually be part of an effort to live a better, happier life. But dieting actually makes people more likely to be irritable and angry, according to research.

The effort involved in resisting cravings and being disciplined about eating can provoke aggressive behaviour.

Scientists compared the attitudes of volunteers who were on a diet with those who ate what they wanted. They found that those counting the calories were quicker to express irritation when they were subjected to a hectoring public service advertisement which promoted exercise.

The American researchers behind the study wrote: 'We set out to examine whether exerting self-control can indeed lead to a wide range of angry behaviors and preferences subsequently, even in situations where such behaviors are quite subtle.'

'Research has shown that exerting self-control makes people more likely to behave aggressively toward others and people on diets are known to be irritable and quick to anger.'

David Gal of Northwestern University and Wendy Liu of the University of California found that people who exerted self-control were more likely to prefer anger-themed movies, were more interested in looking at angry facial expressions, were more persuaded by angry arguments, and expressed more irritation at a message that used controlling language to convince them to change their exercise habits.

In one experiment for the study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, people who choose an apple instead of a chocolate bar were more likely to choose movies with anger and revenge themes than milder movies.

In another study, participants who exerted financial restraint by choosing a gift certificate for groceries over one for a spa service showed more interest in looking at angry faces rather than at fearful ones.

In a third experiment, dieters had more favorable opinions toward a public policy message that used an anger-framed appeal (if funds are not increased for police training, more criminals will escape prison) than they did toward a sad message.

Finally, participants who chose a healthy snack over a tastier, less-healthy one were more irritated by a marketer's message that included controlling language (words such as "you ought to," "need to," and "must").

'Public policy makers need to be more aware of the potential negative emotions resulting from encouraging the public to exert more self control in daily choices," the authors write. 'Instead behavioral interventions might rely on a broader range of methods to foster positive behaviors toward long-term goals."


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Make Good Food Choices Before You Exercise

What should you eat before exercise? It depends how much time you have. The goal in selecting the right food is to avoid distracting the body with the job of digestion while you are exercising.

If there's an hour or less between eating and exercise, eat something light-just enough to fuel the workout. Think about eating a small banana, half a cup of yogurt, half a cup of a smoothie or half an energy bar along with water. This works well if you exercise first thing in the morning and don't have much appetite.

If you have at least two hours before exercising, eat a small balanced meal. A bowl of cereal with a piece of fruit or a small lunch are good options.

With three hours or more, you can eat a larger meal. Professional hockey players, for example, eat a well-balanced dinner about four hours before a game and top up with a light snack closer to start time.

During exercise lasting less than about 90 minutes, especially when weight loss is the goal, the only nutritional issue to consider is hydration. Aim to have about one-quarter to one-half cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes. This reduces fatigue and allows you to push harder longer.

For exercise beyond 90 minutes, hydrate and replace carbohydrates. Think of distance runners. They ideally take in about 30 to 60 grams of easy-to-digest carbs per hour.
After exercise, replace lost fluids by drinking water. Maximize food quality after exercise as this is the fuel that helps cells recover from the grind.

If there's only time for a beverage, about one cup of milk or chocolate milk is a logical choice. It hydrates while supplying carbohydrate and protein energy, along with electrolytes lost in sweat such as sodium and calcium.

If you're debating whether to exercise before or after eating a meal, for weight loss, exercise first. Activity boosts metabolism, the body's ability to burn calories. At least in theory, food eaten after exercise is burned more efficiently.

Source:Adapted from article written by Patricia Chuey, March 15, 2011, Edmonton Journal

Is Fitness in the Genes?

Why do some people respond to an aerobic workout routine by becoming incredibly fit, whereas others who exercise just as hard for months end up no fitter than when they began?

That question has bedeviled countless people who’ve started exercise programs. It has also motivated a major new study of the genetics of fitness. Scientists long have known that when any given group of people faithfully follows the same aerobic workout routine, some increase their cardiorespiratory fitness substantially, while an unfortunate few seem to get no benefits at all. But what, beyond the fundamental unfairness of life, makes one person’s body receptive to exercise and another’s resistant? According to the new study, which will soon be published in The Journal of Applied Physiology, part of the answer may depend on the state of specific genes.

For the study, researchers from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., and other institutions examined the genomes of 473 healthy white volunteers. All were part of the Heritage Family Study, an ongoing (and multiethnic) examination of exercise genetics that already has provided reams of epidemiological information about whether various exercise traits tend to run in families. (It turns out that many do, including the basic drive to exercise at all.) But neither the Heritage Study nor any other experiment to date had identified the specific genes that might be associated with a person’s physical response to exercise.

The researchers looked at 324,611 individual snippets over all. Each of the volunteers had already completed a carefully supervised five-month exercise program, during which participants pedaled stationary bicycles three times a week, at controlled and identical intensities. Some wound up much fitter, as determined by the increase in the amount of oxygen their bodies consumed during intense exercise, a measure called maximal oxygen capacity, or VO2 max. In others, VO2 max had barely budged. No obvious, consistent differences in age, gender, body mass or commitment marked those who responded well and those who continued to huff and struggle during their workouts, even after five months.

But there was a divergence in their genomes. The researchers identified 21 specific SNPs, out of the more than 300,000 examined, that differed consistently between the two groups. SNPs come in pairs, since each of us receives one paternal copy and one maternal copy. So there were 42 different individual versions of the 21 SNPs. Those exercisers who had 19 or more of these SNPs improved their cardiorespiratory fitness three times as much as those who had nine or fewer.

One SNP in particular, located on a gene known as ACSL1, seemed especially potent, possibly accounting for as much as 6 percent of the difference in response among people, a high percentage by the standards of genomewide association studies. This gene already has been shown to play a role in how the body metabolizes fats, which might partly explain why it also affects exercise response. But, said Claude Bouchard, who holds the John W. Barton Sr. Endowed Chair in Genetics and Nutrition at Pennington and was lead author of the study, “far more research is needed before we can say” just how any particular gene influences the body’s response to aerobic exercise, let alone what additional genes might be involved in that response.

Still, the findings, preliminary or not, raise several intriguing concerns. How, for one, can any of us tell if we harbor the ideal SNPs for a robust aerobic response to endurance exercise? And if it turns out that we don’t carry those advantageous snippets of genes, can we take to the couch, since our fitness levels won’t budge much even if we dutifully pedal or run?

“It will be years, if ever,” said Dr. Bouchard, before gene tests exist that can reliably separate high and low responders. Even if and when such tests become available, he continued, the results will not constitute an excuse for skipping workouts. “There are countless other benefits provided by exercise,” he said, apart from whether it raises your VO2 max. “Exercise can reduce blood pressure and improve lipid profiles,” he said. It can better your health, even if, by certain measures, it does not render you more aerobically fit.

Source: Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times, March 16, 2011


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fitness Games Burn Calories

"Exergames," interactive digital or video-based games such as Wii Fit and Dance Dance Revolution, are part of today's fitness landscape for children and young adults. But do they really offer a substantial calorie burn? Two studies find that some of the games do, but whether they're fun enough for people to stick with them is another thing.

The first study, published online in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, set out to quantify how many calories children burned while engaging in a number of exergames, and compared those activities with walking on a treadmill at 3 mph.

Researchers analyzed energy expenditure among 39 boys and girls, average age about 11, as they spent time on the games and the treadmill. The participants were also asked to rate how well they enjoyed the games, a mix of commercial and consumer products: Sportwall, the Jackie Chan Alley Run by Xavix, Lightspace Bug Invasion, Cybex Trazer Goalie Wars, Dance Dance Revolution and Nintendo Wii Boxing.

Walking at 3 mph on a treadmill produced a metabolic equivalent, or MET, of 4.9 among the children. MET values approximate how much oxygen the body uses during an activity. Light gardening has a MET of 2, a challenging hike has a MET of 6 to 7, and running at 8 mph has a MET of 13.5.

The Wii game came in at 4.2, Dance Dance Revolution was 5.4, the Lightspace game was 6.4, the Xavix game was 7, the Cybex Trazer was 5.9, and the Sportwall was 7.1. All games were played at a moderate to vigorous intensity, and four of the games surpassed treadmill walking in calorie burn.

The children liked the Sportwall game the most, and the Xavix game the least. Children who were overweight or at risk for becoming overweight enjoyed the games more than kids with lower body mass indexes.

In the study, the authors said that although exergaming may not be the answer to getting sedentary children moving, it does have potential: "It appears to be a potentially innovative strategy that can be used to reduce sedentary time, increase adherence to exercise programs, and promote enjoyment of physical activity," they wrote. "This may be especially important for at-risk populations, specifically children who carry excess body weight.

Source:Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times. March 7,2011

Friday, March 4, 2011

"Stealth veggies" may help cut calorie intake

Don't look now, but invisible cauliflower may be lurking in your chicken casserole -- and helping you lose weight.

Adding hidden pureed vegetables to entrees can reduce the number of calories the meals pack without sacrificing texture or taste, helping to cut the overall calorie intake, a study at Pennsylvania State University found.

Using "stealth vegetables" to pad dishes in the study of unsuspecting adults had an additional benefit, researchers found -- the participants more than doubled their intake of fiber and vitamin-packed veggies without even knowing it.

"The overconsumption of energy-dense foods leads to excessive energy intakes," wrote Alexandria Blatt in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

"The substitution of low-energy-dense vegetables for foods higher in energy density can help decrease energy intakes but may be difficult to implement if individuals dislike the taste of vegetables."

The study included 20 men and 21 women who agreed to eat at a laboratory once a week for three weeks.

Volunteers were served as much as they wanted to eat, along with side dishes such as bread rolls, strawberry yogurt, broccoli and green beans, depending on the meal, and given snacks such as carrot sticks or fig cookies to take home.

The meals were always the same: carrot bread for breakfast, macaroni and cheese for lunch and chicken-and-rice casserole for dinner. Portion sizes were controlled by weight and the researchers kept a close account of the amount of food eaten.

Unknown to the diners, back in the kitchen cooks were slipping in vegetables that had been steamed and then pureed -- cauliflower, squash or carrots, depending on the entree -- to some of the main dishes. The result was a helping of food that was either 15 percent or 25 percent vegetable by weight, although it looked, tasted and otherwise resembled the original.

Some participants got the traditional version of the entree.

The study subjects all ate about the same amount of a given entree regardless of how much puree, if any, it contained. But those who were eating the altered foods saw their calorie intake drop substantially -- as much as 360 calories a day -- at the same time their vegetable intake rose.

Cutting 360 calories a day means a person could lose about half a kilogram (one pound) in about 10 days.

Nearly half the subjects said at the end of the study that they could tell something was different about the altered meals, but only two said they could taste the extra vegetables.

Blatt said that this strategy could led to substantial reductions in energy intake and an increase in vegetable consumption, but others were skeptical, noting that eating more veggies and fruits is "not a panacea" for weight loss.

Richard Mattes, a professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University in Indiana who wasn't involved in the study, added that other studies had shown the big problem was getting people to stick to a new meal plan even if it was effective.

"Many people said they were not going to spend the extra money on fresh fruits and vegetables, or shop more often, or spend more time preparing them," he said.

Noting that U.S. citizens don't seem eager to embrace healthy diets, he added: "It's interesting that we have to go to such extents to get people to consume more vegetables."
Soruce: Reuters 3/3/11

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What is the Caveman Diet?

The Caveman diet shuns any processed food and instead emphasizes a diet of meat, fruits and vegetables. This diet is said to reflect eating habits during the Paleo period where cavemen consumed meat, seafood, vegetables and fruit, but no grains or processed food.

Nutritionally speaking this diet could be high in fat and cholesterol unless lean meats in reasonable size portions are used.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How men and women exercise differently

Men and women appear to approach weight loss and exercise from a different mind-set says the chief scientist for Weight Watchers, Karen Miller-Kovach.

For starters, a much higher percentage of the men surveyed believe that exercise is enough to slim down, whereas the women tend to embrace a smarter combination of eating healthier and moving more. "You rarely hear guys say, 'I'm going on a diet.' Instead it's, 'I need to hit the gym,' " Miller-Kovach notes. (That may also explain why men make up just 10 percent of Weight Watchers' membership.)

But the Weight Watchers surveys show men top women when it comes to actually enjoying exercise. "That doesn't mean women don't know they need to be physically active or don't do it," Miller-Kovach says. But for guys, "to sweat is a badge of honor."

Then, there's the approach: Women are likely to take small steps toward a goal while men are quick to make sweeping changes, according to the research. "It's the Hundred Years' War versus the Battle of Normandy," Miller-Kovach says. And where we choose to have that fight also differs. For men, it's the weight room. For women, it's anywhere else.

These are all generalizations, and, of course, there are plenty of outliers for both sexes. (Weight Watchers' research is proprietary, so exact figures are not available.) But you can witness these opposing strategies - and their accompanying weaknesses - if you look around almost any gym. Women clump by the cardio machines, regularly reading magazines and talking, thus lessening the effectiveness of their workouts. Men congregate around the largest of weights, which they proceed to pick up even if that requires heinous form.

As for Weight Watchers' findings about enjoyment and exercise, Miller-Kovach suspects that has to do with the typical American upbringing. As kids, boys are weaned on such sports as football, soccer, baseball and basketball. "But women are more likely to have been raised in environments where activity wasn't a part of their lives," she says. When you don't have those positive associations from childhood to bolster your interest in staying active, the fun factor plummets.

Source: By Vicky Hallett
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, March 1, 2011; 11:59 AM