Saturday, July 28, 2007


We'll throw anything down our throats if it's marketed well. Take Red Bull for example. This sugar water loaded with caffeine is supposed to "Give You Wings." This sleek can and tons of advertising using cartoons is one part synthetic bull bile. Taurine; one of the main ingredients (also known as 2-aminoethane-sulfonic acid) is supposed to assist your enthusiasm for extreme behavior. This inhibitory neurotransmitter (a mild sedative for some) is a man-made antioxidant. Eat blueberries instead! Our next ingredient is Glucuronolactone. The debate goes on about what this is or does. Most information regarding Glucuronolactone is rumor. It's supposed to increase well-being and fight fatigue. Getting a life and 8 hours of sleep can do that. Next is Inositol. A carbohydrate found in animal muscle. Also known as "Meat Sugar." Early studies are showing that Inositol can help people suffering with depression, panic attacks, agoraphobia and obsessive compulsive disorder. Sounds like liquid therapy in a can. Too bad you'll need 360 cans of the stuff for any benefit. Niacin (vitamin B-3) is in here to increase good cholesterol (HDL) and help with energy, but alas there's not enough to do anything. Lastly there's some Sodium Citrate (a preservative for soda and spreadable cheeses) which helps convert glucose into lactic acid during exercise. Yup, when I'm looking for improved performance, I like to get it from a preservative that helps me spread my cheese.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Your Brain on Exercise

There was an astonishing article in Newsweek a few weeks back that just blew my mind/brain/cranium/noggin. Here's what I've learned from this article and further research. We all known that working out and exercising does amazing things for our bodies, and the benefits other than weight lose and getting fit are endless. Most of us also know that when your heart, legs and lungs get pumping you feel much better than if you did nothing. Turns out that 20 minutes or more of cardiovascular and/or high paced resistant workouts effect every aspect of your life. The great thing about this article is that it really laid out the scientific findings over the last few years. Here's the scope. When you're forced to pull more oxygen into the body through exercise you break what's called "the blood brain barrier." It happens when you climb a long flight of stairs and when you're busting through any kind of workout that gets your heart rate pumping. This oxygen filled blood makes it's way into the temporal lobe of the brain. Inside the temporal lobe is an area called the Hippocampus. Inside the Hippocampus lies this seahorse shaped area known as the Dentate Gyrus. As you exercise these oxygen filled blood cells rush into this area of the brain. A chemical/protein IGF-1 is formed then released inside the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus which ramps up another chemical/molecule called BDNF. IGF -1 & BDNF are "Miracle-grow" for the brain.

Studies with kids right up to seniors have proven that high paced workouts (Power 90, Power Half Hour, Master Series, P90X, Tony & The Kids, etc.) cause the release of these chemicals into the brain. Combine this with even more "brain drugs" like dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine and you've got yourself a feel good party in your head. Aerobic and elevated heart rate activities cause the release of these chemicals, which in turn helps you focus and gives you energy when you need it. They also help you relax, stay calm under pressure and allow the body to rest properly. It's like a home made chemistry set inside your skull that produces a cocktail simulating the effects of Prozac and Ritalin. Children who play outdoors score better on tests than kids who don't. Regular physical activity improves, memory, mood, and problem solving abilities. Consistent exercise raises self-esteem and decreases anxiety. Study after study has proven that people who exercise 5 to 6 days a week greatly decrease their need for psychotherapeutic drugs. If your brain goes without regular bouts of exercise the hippocampus will shrink and erode, which can lead to neurological illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease. When the dentate gryus of the hippocampus is stimulated neuro-genesis or neuro-plasticity occurs. I'm not talking about slowing the aging process, I'm telling you that the brain creates new cells through exercise. Brand new cells that assist in the reversal of aging. If you're looking for the fountain of youth, you can find it inside your head every time you exercise for more than 20 minutes. TMT X 2 anyone?