Optimizing the mind body connection-part two

Optimizing the mind body connection

Eating and drinking a healthy diet provides your brain with the necessary nutrients known to be beneficial to your brain health. Foods rich in antioxidants, i.e. the brightly colored fruits and vegetables, foods with omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats like fish and olive oil, are excellent for your brain. The vitamins folate (1) (folic acid is the synthetic version) and vitamin B-12 are sources of brain food, especially if you aren’t already getting enough in your daily diet. Exercise and diet may not be the only issues that are causing a lack of high quality sleep.

Stress management in your daily life is another crucial piece to getting more sleep. Unless you are able to harness the negative stress in your life, you will continue to be sleep deprived. This is not to say that all stress is bad because it’s not. Some stress adds spice to your life.

Too much chronic stress causes a reduction in the part of your brain that creates and stores memories. It can also be a source of mental health problems such as depression or anxiety. Another source of a recurring sleep problem can be physical illness. How you manage, your medical problems may well determine how well your brain functions.

Short-term memory is affected by depression, as well as your ability to focus on daily tasks, decision-making or other day-to-day problems. The side effects of drugs, prescribed or otherwise, can interfere with cognition and memory. Heart disease and stroke may predispose a person to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Included in these medical conditions are likely preventable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels and obesity.

The conclusions a person can make from this is to stay active, eat and drink the right things and manage your stress and medical conditions if you want to keep your brain in peak condition.


(1) http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/folate/

Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin that occurs naturally in food. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate that is found in supplements and added to fortified foods

Leafy green vegetables (like spinach and turnip greens), fruits (like citrus fruits and juices), and dried beans and peas are all natural sources of folate.

(2) http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-QuickFacts/  Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy. It also helps prevent a type of anemia that makes people tired and weak.

One minute movement to a smaller waist line

One minute movement to a smaller waist line

A small study of 169 adults conducted in Australia by researchers at the University of Queensland, Hurston, Queensland, Australia found that just one minute of standing and walking around made a difference in the circumference of the waist over a period.

They found that people who got up regularly to switch the TV channels by hand rather than using the remote had a stomach circumference that was on the average 2 1/2 inches smaller than those who used a remote. This is almost un-American to get up and switch the channel by hand. Perhaps that is why it was conducted in Australia because it is unlikely they would find 169 adults in the United States who would actually get up and manually change channels.

This same study revealed that these small amounts of activity also led to a lower body mass index, lower glucose and triglyceride levels in those who were physically active while watching different stations on their TV. This led the researchers to make further recommendations as to how to control the ever-expanding waistline of native Australians.

They recommended standing up when answering the telephone and walking around while talking. This is much easier to accomplish if you have a portable phone since most phone cords limit your mobility to within five or six feet. Not only can you walk around with your phone at home, you can do the same at your job if you use a speakerphone, which to many people is annoying and crosses the threshold of proper office etiquette.

They also suggested, while at work, taking the long way back to your desk. However, you probably ought to be holding onto some papers so looks like you are busy while wandering around the office, otherwise people may just think that you are lost or don’t have anything to do, which is a possibility.

If you want to look really odd in your office, do a few stretches before you open up and read a new e-mail. All of these suggestions may be fine if you own the business or work with your wife but it’s uncertain whether not most modern business offices would allow such shenanigans to go on.
The thought certainly is nice that small amounts of activity can help shrink your stomach but t

The health problems of too much salt in your diet

Contrary to recent news articles suggesting that the low-salt diets are not helpful studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that one high salt meal of 1500 mg of sodium (this is at the upper end of the recommendations suggested by the US dietary guidelines for a full-day), reduces the ability of the blood vessels to dilate. Even though blood pressure is not affected, this reduction in dilation ability in healthy people was noted within thirty minutes of the meal.

High sodium loads in the body of people with impaired heart functioning can start a heart failure incident, which may lead to death. Not only is excessive salt hard on your blood vessels, it also affects your bones, kidneys, and your stomach.

The system within your body that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance is also involved in bone health. It appears as though a high sodium intake increases the elimination of calcium through the urine. This in turn causes calcium to be leached from the bone with the attending bone loss and increased risk bone fractures. It’s well known that reducing the salt intake has a positive effect on the bodies calcium balance. For this reason, a low-sodium diet may help slow the progression of age-related bone loss. Not only is the skeletal system adversely affected by high sodium, so are your kidneys.

In many people, additional salt contributes to hypertension which is a major cause of kidney dysfunction and even failure. Evidence collected from the studies of animals and humans lead directly to the contention that salt may, in some people, directly impair kidney function. Another side effect of increased calcium in the urine, see the previous paragraph, and high sodium intake is a potentially higher risk of kidney stones. The story doesn’t end there. Some studies have linked higher salt to cancers and ulcers of the stomach.

The stomach isn’t the only soft tissue organ that may be adversely affected by a high sodium diet, others are the colon and the rectum. According to the research, the evidence is not extremely clear but it is thought that the salty foods adversely affect the stomach lining and make it more likely that bacterium H.pylori can affect the tissues of lining. This bacterium is when the major cause of ulcers and stomach cancer something that most of us may want to avoid. Other findings theorize that the salty stomach environment could be altering the structure of the H.pylori and increases its ability to continue to live and do more damage to the stomach.

The causes of muscle loss

The causes of muscle loss

Most researchers believe there are many factors other than age related activity changes that contribute to this condition. Amongst these are the metabolic changes that take place within the muscle tissue itself. Recent research has found that older individuals may not be getting enough protein in their diet and that they do get, may not be efficiently utilized in building muscle tissue. This effect may be caused by an altered response to the available and diminishing hormones. Be this as it may, older muscle still responds well to amino acids particularly to the essential and branched chain amino acids (BCAA) due to their ability to intensely stimulate protein synthesis in older individuals.

Further literature review indicates this is due to leucine [1], an essential amino acid that is not manufactured by the body and has to be obtained from food sources. So if you are considering protein supplementation, then adding in extra branched chain amino acids, essential amino acids with a little bit of extra leucine may be in order.

Is becoming more evident that older people should take in more protein by raising the limit to a least 1.3 g per kilogram. Another aspect of the protein in question is a type of protein that your taking. For example, whey protein is assimilated better than soy protein. Most plant-based proteins are not sufficiently converted; therefore, more is needed to get the minimum amount.

Additionally, before leaving the dietary issue of protein, the timing of the protein intake may make a difference. Most strength research indicates a consuming 25 to 30 grams of protein 10 to 15 minutes before and 10 to 15 minutes after an intense training session is the most beneficial.

Before doing so, check with your doctor or a registered dietitian because many older people may have impaired kidney function and the extra protein can exacerbate this condition.

Along with less protein intake comes a diminishing hormone production.

These lower levels of hormones, combined with some pro-inflammatory compounds and the free radicals, which are known to damage the cells, can also promote the wasting of muscle tissue which affects muscle fibers. Severe dieting, illness and/or extended bed rest also accelerates muscle loss.

A final thought in this matter is to consider taking 800-1000 international units of vitamin D a day or more if your Dr. tells you that your blood tests have indicated that it is low. Studies of various populations have shown a link between low vitamin D levels and increased risk of sarcopenia.

Stay strong, and remain passionately committed to your hearts chosen path.

By Danny M. O’Dell, MA. CSCS*D

[1] Leucine works with the amino acids isoleucine and valine to repair muscles, regulate blood sugar, and provide the body with energy. It also increases production of growth hormones, and helps burn visceral fat, which is located in the deepest layers of the body and the least responsive to dieting and exercise. http://www.vitaminstuff.com/amino-acid-leucine.html

080412 Making your middle more manageable

Making your middle more manageable


Researchers reported in the American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism (1) that doing aerobics increases the loss of visceral fat when compared to strength training.


The study participants consisted of approximately 150 overweight, middle-aged men and women living a sedentary lifestyle with high LDL or low HDL cholesterol. This group was then broken down into three different training activities. One was aerobic, the second strength, and the third combined both aerobic and strength training.


Those in the aerobic training did the equivalent of 12 vigorous miles each week is a treadmill elliptical trainer or stationary bicycle. Evidently, no one thought of doing any of their aerobics outside. Vigorous activity normally means within 60-70% of your target heart rate.


Those doing the strength training performed eight exercises, none of which was listed, for three sets of between 8 to 12 repetitions per set, three times a week. If they were following a normal strength training protocol, these exercises would have been for the large major muscle groups such as the shoulders, chest, back, and legs.


For some unknown reason the study didn’t report what the combination training group did, so we don’t know if they did two days of aerobics and one of strength or two days of strength and one of aerobics or some other scheme.


After eight months, those doing strength training lost only subcutaneous abdominal fat, the fat just below the skin. While those doing the aerobic training, either separately or in combination with strength training, lost the deep belly fat, subcutaneous belly fat and more importantly fat from around the liver. Subsequent testing revealed that the aerobic group was also less insulin resistant. This meant the slender body was producing was more effective at allowing blood sugar into their cells.


This study confirms what other studies have also found that a combination of vigorous aerobic exercise performed on a consistent basis with strength training at least three times a week will help you lose the most fat, decrease your insulin resistance and minimize muscle loss that occurs as we age.
(1) American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2011, doi: 10. 1152/ajpendo. 00291.2011

080412 A guide to determining sets, reps and rest periods for the strength training beginner

A guide to determining sets, reps and rest periods for the strength training beginner

Hypertrophy of the muscle fibers.

The recommendations here are non specific as to sarcoplasmic or myofibril hypertrophy. However, if you want to add strength to your muscles instead of just cosmetic size then stay on the shorter end of the rep ranges for this training cycle.

Due three to four sets of ten to twelve repetitions and rest between each set for approximately one minute. A shorter rest will be more along the lines of the bodybuilding programs, i.e. a 1:1 work to rest ratio. Whereas the longer one will help the muscles recover so more weight can be used thereby increasing the strength and size of the fibers and not the fluids in and around the cells.

For the strength and power training stick with four to five sets of three to five reps with longer rest periods between each set. The rest times during this training phase will be between three and four minutes. This allows the muscles to recover nearly 100% so they can continue putting out the effort necessary to push the weights the next set.

The strength sessions involve three to four sets of between six to eight repetitions with shorter rest periods than the strength and power cycle. Rest for pure strength is between two to three minutes.

A person starting out on a strength program will realize in a short time that these suggestions are the pathways to success.