Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric is terrific!

Turmeric is a perennial plant native to southwest India. A member of the ginger family, turmeric is cultivated most commonly for it’s rhizomes. The rhizomes are boiled, dried and ground to produce a fine orange-yellow powder. That powder is how most people consume turmeric, especially in America. The spice is commonly used in Indian cuisine, especially in curries. It is high in vitamin C, vitamin B1, calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and other vital nutrients and minerals.  Aside from it’s culinary applications, turmeric has many holistic health benefits. Turmeric is used heavily in Siddha medicine — a traditional medicine system related to Hinduism.
Let’s explore a few ways that people use turmeric to improve their lives.

Digestive and Respiratory Problems

Turmeric extract has been used to treat digestive tract problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome, for centuries. This long used treatment was proven effective during studies among otherwise healthy results. The turmeric extract improved symptoms. The plant has also been used to treat respiratory issues. The essential oil can relief coughs, reducing wheezing and even treat asthma.

Anti-inflammatory

The most important active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which is what creates the earthy, peppery flavor and smell, as well as it’s yellow color. Under clinical settings, curcumin has been observed to reduce post-surgery inflammation. Turmeric has also been recommended by medical professionals to treat sports injuries. The discomfort of back pain, sports injuries or whiplash is caused by inflammation, which turmeric is known to do.

Totally Topical

Another great benefit of turmeric is it’s ability to reduce wrinkles and fine lines, brighten skin, and treat acne. Turmeric can be applied topically to the face and neck as a mask. It’s anti-inflammatory properties are compounded by it’s anti-bacterial and antioxidant qualities.
These are just a few of the ways people use turmeric to improve their health. With so many applications, it’s no surprise that turmeric has been used medicinally for so long.

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Why Do Some Get Fitter Than Others? Part 2

Continuing from the last post….

Next, the scientists examined the animals’ hearts. Normally the left ventricle of the heart in animals and people becomes larger and thus able to contract more forcefully after endurance training. The high-responding rats showed these structural changes in their left ventricles, evidence that they were developing athletes’ hearts. The other rats showed almost no physiological adaptations; it looked like they had not exercised at all.

Ulrik Wisloff, a professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology explained that this is likely why the animals lost fitness training. If hearts don’t adapt to the demands of exercise, workouts will not strengthen their bodies.

While looking at the gene expression in the animals’ heart cells, scientists found over 360 genes operating differently in the two different groups. These genes direct processes that should increase the size of the heart but were not working as effectively in the animals that were bred to be resistant to exercise.  Humans have the same genes in our heart cells.  It is impossible to know if our genes respond exactly the same as the genes of rats but it’s possible that they may. However, the interplay of genes and exercise is extremely complex. We are still only in the early stages of understanding effects of environment, heredity, nutrition and even psychology on rates of exercise.

We should monitor our body’s response to exercise. If after months of training and someone is still not able to run any farther than he or she could before, it is time to change the workout. It is likely that the genes that control the body’s response to that activity are different than those involved in responses to aerobic exercise.

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Why Do Some Get Fitter Than Others?

Scientists are puzzled as to why some people’s bodies respond better to working out than others. According to some studies, genetics must be involved because response to exercise seems to run in families. But which genes are involved? And how exactly do these genes increase or stunt the body’s response?

The NY Times writes about a recent study in rats. In the study, rats with a certain set of genes responded vigorously to exercise; they became much more fit after a few weeks of running. Rats with other genes gained little cardiovascular benefit from the same exercise program; their heart muscles didn’t react as expected.

People who exercise diligently but see no results should consider revising their workout routine. The range of response to exercise can be extremely large. A study published in March examined overweight men and women who enrolled in five months of endurance or weight training. By the end, the men and women were, on average, 8% stronger or more aerobically fit. But 13% of those in the endurance group lost aerobic capacity and 30% of those in the strength-training group were weaker.

Another rodent study conducted at the University of Michigan and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, scientists created two strains of rats that would or would not respond well to working out. First, they had rats run for several weeks to see how much distance the animals added before tiring out. They also noted how well they were adapting to the workouts. They found that the males who added the most mileage were bred with females who responded similarly. The animals that added the fewest miles to their runs mated to one another.

Several generations later, the scientists had rats that should be significantly high or significantly low responders to exercise. The first part of the experiment supported this. The two different types of rats were set on treadmills with identical workouts. After a two month training program, there was a significant difference with the types of rats. Rats there were bred to respond well to exercise training increased the distance they could run before tiring by 40%. The other rats lost about 2% of their endurance during the training.

To be continued…

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Popular Fruits and Vegetables Ranked by Nutritional Value

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Many fruits and vegetables can help prevent chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancers. Scientists call these kinds of fruits and vegetables “powerhouse fruits and vegetables,” or PFV’s.

Dietary researcher Jennifer Di Noia, Ph.D., of William Paterson University decided to quantify the nutritional benefits of some of the most popular fruits and vegetables. Of the 47 foods she tested, only 41 were good enough for her to deem them “powerhouse” foods. Her findings were then published in Preventing Chronic Disease, a peer-reviewed journal managed by the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

PFV’s have previously been described as green leafy, yellow/orange, citrus, and cruciferous items, so Di Noia decided to look at the densities of key nutrients in these kinds of fruits and vegetables.

The point system she devised is a nutrients-to-calories ratio. Using guidelines provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and Institute of Medicine, she looked at nutrients considered important to public health, including potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, and zinc, as well as vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K. Basically, the higher ranking the food, the more nutrients-per-calories it provides.

A few key foods notably not included in the study were raspberries, tangerines, cranberries, garlic, onions, and blueberries. Though most people would expect to see these somewhere on the list, Di Noia explains that they didn’t make the cut because they were not rich enough sources of the nutrients she was looking at. These popular foods get their health benefits from phytochemicals, which she was not measuring for this study.

The goal of this study is to provide a guide for consumers to make sure they are focusing on the most nutrient rich foods possible when shopping. Here is a complete list of the powerhouse fruits and vegetables in the study with their corresponding scores:

Watercress: 100.00

Chinese cabbage: 91.99

Chard: 89.27

Beet green: 87.08

Spinach: 86.43

Chicory: 73.36

Leaf lettuce: 70.73

Parsley: 65.59

Romaine lettuce: 63.48

Collard green: 62.49

Turnip green: 62.12

Mustard green: 61.39

Endive: 60.44

Chive: 54.80

Kale: 49.07

Dandelion green: 46.34

Red pepper: 41.26

Arugula: 37.65

Broccoli: 34.89

Pumpkin: 33.82

Brussels sprout: 32.23

Scallion: 27.35

Kohlrabi: 25.92

Cauliflower: 25.13

Cabbage: 24.51

Carrot: 22.60

Tomato: 20.37

Lemon: 18.72

Iceberg lettuce: 18.28

Strawberry: 17.59

Radish: 16.91

Winter squash (all varieties): 13.89

Orange: 12.91

Lime: 12.23

Grapefruit (pink and red): 11.64

Rutabaga: 11.58

Turnip: 11.43

Blackberry: 11.39

Leek: 10.69

Sweet potato: 10.51

Grapefruit (white): 10.47

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Walk an Extra Two Minutes each Hour

Most of us have jobs, which require or include sitting for long periods of time. In fact, this is the case for the overwhelmingly large majority of us.  There has been recent discussion of the negative health affects that are correlated to sitting all day.  On the flip side, researchers from the University of Utah Health Sciences have spent time focusing on a way to offset these negative affects from sitting all day. Their study suggests that engaging in low intensity activities such as standing may not be enough to offset health hazards of sitting for long periods of time. (Some say that if you stand every 40 minutes, it offsets these negative affects). But, adding two minutes of walking each hour to your routine might be beneficial.  The findings were published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Many studies say that sitting for extended periods of time each day leads to a plethora of issues like increased risk for early death, heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems. According to another study, 80% of Americans do not achieve the recommended amount of exercise, 2.5 hours of moderate activity each week.  Researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine looked at the possibility of exchanging periods of sitting with periods of lighter activities for short periods of time. They looked at whether longer durations of lower intensity activities (like standing) and light intensity activities (such as casual walking, light gardening, cleaning) could extend the life span of people who are sedentary for most of their waking hours.

They found no benefit to decreasing sitting time by two minutes every hour and spending those two minutes doing low intensity activities. However, there was a 33% lower risk of dying for those that exchanged the two minutes with light intensity activities, again that includes things like casual walking, light gardening, and cleaning.

The current focus is on moderate and vigorous activity. “To see that light activity had an association with lower mortality is intriguing,” said Srinivasan Beddhu, M.D., professor of internal medicine.  Beddhu, still surprised with the results, explains that strolling and lighter activities use energy too.  Short walks can add up when repeated throughout the week. If one is awake for 16 hours and strolls for 2 minutes per hour, they would expend 400 kcal each week.  600 kcal is the recommended weekly goal. 400 kcal is much closer to 600 kcal than to the 50 kcal required to stand for two means per waking hour.

Beddhu recommends that everyone should add two minutes of walking per hour awake in combination of 2.5 hours of moderate exercise each week.  While these findings present a small light, moderate exercise is still great for the heart, muscles, bones, and other health benefits that low and light intensity activities do not provide.

The study looked at 3,243 participants wearing accelerometers to measure the intensity of their activities. They followed the participants for the next three years to collect data. 137 passed away during this time.

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Nourishment from More Than Food

This month I’d like to take a moment to examine a school called Institute for Integrative Nutrition. The school explores over 100 different dietary theories and a huge point of focus is that each individual is an individual. Different methods work for different people and it’s important to examine your own biological and chemical makeup when finding the proper foods for you. The idea is that IIN provides a yearlong health coaching course and at the end the student receives a certificate, in addition to a plethora of information.  To my understanding, the three main sections included in their teachings are: different nutrition and dietary information, the ability to listen to what someone is really saying and identify what they actually need, and then the ability to market themselves as a health coach going forward.

I strongly identify with the idea that each individual has his or her own makeup and it is important to cater to the individual to achieve optimal nutritional health. Another idea they bring up is interesting to me.  This is the idea that nutrition is more than just the food on your plate or the food that enters your body. In order to effectively improve our diets, we have to improve the experiences that feed us on a daily basis and these include interactions with our peers, co-workers or family, exercise experiences, experiences that cause us to challenge ourselves, and then experiences that align with our personal beliefs of our identity.  If we can feel satiated with our relationships, satiated with our cardio and satiated with our spiritual beliefs as well as feeling like we are challenging ourselves and constantly growing, we won’t turn all our energy to food for nourishment.

Joshua Rosenthal, the founder of IIN, recently published a book about this exact topic called “The Power of Primary Food” and I plan to check it out!

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10 biggest lessons I have learned this training cycle.

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IMG 6833My training for the Boston Marathon is coming to an end.  It has gone by way too fast but at the same time I am so ready to keep on tapering and then race as hard as I can.  With each training cycle I always learn a few things and I thought I would share a few today! 1.  To eat more iron.  A few months ago I started eating way more iron.  Maybe it was the placebo effect but […] http://ift.tt/1CZYDWm

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