Monday, February 25, 2008

Going Bananas

A professor at CCNY for a physiological psych class told his class about bananas.   He said that the expression "going bananas" is from the effects of bananas on the brain.
Read on:
After reading this, you'll never look at a banana in the same way again. Bananas contain three natural sugars -  sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world's leading athletes. But energy isn't the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and  generally make you feel happier.
PMS: Forget the pills - eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect  your mood.
Anemia: High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.
Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.
Brain Power: 200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school (England) were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.
Constipation: High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.
Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the  help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.
Heartburn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if  you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.
Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.
Mosquito bites: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.
Nerves: Bananas are high in B-vitamins that help calm the nervous system. Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and chips. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to  keep levels steady.
Ulcers: The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.
Temperature control: Many other cultures see bananas as a "cooling" fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers.  In Thailand, for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.
Smoking &Tobacco Use: Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B-6, B-12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.
Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body's water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.
Strokes: According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!
Warts: Those keen on natural alternatives swear that if you want to kill off a wart, take a  piece of banana skin and place it on the wart , with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical tape!
So, a banana really is a natural remedy  for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It's also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around. So maybe its time to change that well-known old-fashion to "A banana a day keeps the doctor away!"

Control and Balance

I was watching a professional climber make his way up the face of a two thousand foot rock cliff and thought to myself, this guy is nuts! But, as I continued to watch I realized, nothing could be further from the truth. After getting over the thought that he was insane I realized something. To the causal observer it looked as if his body was just hanging in mid air, nothing between him and certain death, two thousand feet below. But the more I watched the more I realized he was experiencing the key to one of the hardest balances to learn in life; the balance between controlling what we can and what we can’t and in the process finding the freedom to accomplish our tasks with the clearest mind possible. 

Control has earned itself a bad name. Control freak is how we describe a person who feels he or she has to have everything just as they like it, everything prepared in their little world, so that nothing goes wrong, no surprises; often in a rather compulsive manner. But think of the climber, if he had not found the balance between what to control and what not to control, even in one small aspect of his journey, he would die. His body has to be tuned, strong, to withstand the forces climbing puts on it. He has to be skilled in how to use his equipment, one misplaced chock or piton, and he falls. He needs to know how to read the rock, where to climb, where not to, how to pick his route up the wall.

We can view life much the same way. When we gain control over our lives, when we learn what we can and cannot control, we free ourselves up to experience the highest highs and the lowest lows. We gain a confidence that most do not find and that’s the balance. Control just for the sake of control makes us a freak; confidence without structure makes us arrogant. The two have to live side by side in a symbiotic dance, one complimenting the other, keeping each other in check, for when we gain control we gain confidence, and the two feed off each other and grow into a tool we can use to climb whatever rock we choose. 

Friday, February 22, 2008

Your Inner Child

Ever watch a child dance, eat, play or do just about anything? Most of the time, in young children, there is a freedom associated with everything they do. They don’t care who’s watching, what people think, or the consequences of any of their actions. They just worry about one thing in life and that is to do whatever it is they are doing right then in that moment without judgments of any kind. What freedom!

But when does that stop? Our first day of school? When we turn 13? Does the process of editing start the first time our parents say “no”? One of the best skiers I know, John Egan, was asked once -- after flying down a mountain like nothing I had ever seen before -- how he’s able to do it? He said, “My parents never said no”. The great painter Pablo Picasso once said, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child”. Michelangelo said in his late years, “I am still learning”. It seems as though there’s a pattern. To succeed, we must find the balance of living our lives in society, conforming to the constraints and responsibilities of life, and yet live it in the most childlike innocence possible. If we would start to look at life through the eyes of a child, nothing would be impossible, we could do anything. There would be no judgment, either of ourselves or from others, and we would enjoy each moment in the present.

I’m telling you it’s possible. It’s a personal decision we can each make.

A centurion woman once said, “Nothing I ever worried about or stressed over, ever amounted to anything”. The test in life is to get to the end and look back and smile and be able to tell ourselves we did it, and we did it right. If we could figure out how to reintegrate a childlike exuberance into our daily life, we would begin to look at problems, not as problems, but as opportunities to become better people. Many of us have lost that child we once were; we call it growing up, becoming adults, but with each day we adhere to that old way of thinking, we become less and less open to the possibilities that lie just outside our own little bubble. What if in one little way, each day, instead of placing judgment on a situation, we opened ourselves up to the possibilities in life like a child? What if we didn’t worry about what others think of us or if we are doing it right? What if we danced like nobody was watching? What if we just focused on the single task of accomplishing the thing we started just for the sake of doing it; no agenda, just to do it? I dare say we might, as adults learn to think more like a child, to see the world for what it is, a place where anything is possible, a place where, in that process, greatness and personal peace is achieved.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Age and Athleticism

New York Times

January 31, 2008


Staying a Step Ahead of Aging


YOU know what is supposed to happen when you grow old. You will slow down, you will grow weak, your steps will become short and mincing, and you will lose your sense of balance. That’s what aging researchers consistently find, and it’s no surprise to most of us.

But it is worth remembering that the people in those studies were sedentary, said Dr. Vonda Wright, a professor of orthopedics at the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Wright, a 40-year-old runner, decided to study people who kept training as they got older or began competing in middle age. She wanted to know what happens to them and at what age does performance start to decline.

Their results are surprising, even to many of the researchers themselves. The investigators find that while you will slow down as you age, you may be able to stave off more of the deterioration than you thought. Researchers also report that people can start later in life — one man took up running at 62 and ran his first marathon, a year later, in 3 hours 25 minutes.

It’s a testament to how adaptable the human body is, researchers said, that people can start serious training at an older age and become highly competitive. It also is testament to their findings that some physiological factors needed for a good performance are not much affected by age.

Researchers say that you should be able to maintain your muscles as you age, including the muscle enzymes needed for good athletic performance, and you should be able to maintain your ability to exercise for long periods near your so-called lactic threshold, meaning you are near maximum effort.

But you have to know how to train, doing the right sort of exercise, and you must keep it up.

“Train hard and train often,” said Hirofumi Tanaka, a 41-year-old soccer player and exercise physiologist at the University of Texas.

Dr. Tanaka said he means doing things like regular interval training, repeatedly going all out, easing up, then going all out again. These workouts train your body to increase its oxygen consumption by allowing you to maintain an intense effort.

“One of the major determinants of endurance performance is oxygen consumption,” Dr. Tanaka said. “You have to make training as intense as you can.”

When you have to choose between hard and often, choose hard, said Steven Hawkins, an exercise physiologist at the University of Southern California.

“High performance is really determined more by intensity than volume,” he added. “Sometimes, when you’re older, something has to give. You can’t have both so you have to cut back on the volume. You need more rest days.”

Dr. Hawkins, who says he no longer runs competitively, adds that he tries to put his findings into practice. “I run a couple of times a week and I try to make it as fast as I can,” he said. “I’m not plodding along.”

He also has been amazed by some people who seem to defy the rules of aging, people he describes as “those rare birds who get faster.” Some subjects in Dr. Hawkins’s research study, which followed runners for nearly two decades, actually had better times when they were 60 than when they were 50.

“We really don’t know why,” Dr. Hawkins confessed. “Maybe they were training harder.”

Then there are people like the 62-year-old man who suddenly took up running and began running fast marathons. That man’s inspiration to become a runner, said James Hagberg, an exercise physiologist at theUniversity of Maryland, was watching a lakefront marathon in Milwaukee. “He got all fired up,” Dr. Hagberg recalled.

And there are people like Imme Dyson, a 71-year-old runner who lives in Princeton, N.J. She took up running when she was 48 and loved it, she says, from the moment she put on a pair of running shoes. Her daughter, who had been a college triathlete, told her how to train.

“She said, ‘Mom, if your workout didn’t hurt, you didn’t work hard enough,’ ” Ms. Dyson said.

“Working consistently really is the recipe,” she said. And it has made a difference for her, allowing her to run races, from 5K to marathons, so fast that she is consistently among the best in the nation in her age group. She has run a 15K cross-country race in 1:19:08, a pace of 8:29 a mile. And she ran a 10K race in 51 minutes 50 seconds, a pace of 8:20 a mile.

Not every aging athlete does so well. But Dr. Hagberg found that studies of aging athletes sometimes were distorted because they included people who had cut back on or stopped training. That’s understandable; there is no reason, researchers say, to exhort everyone to maintain an intense effort decade after decade.

Athletes would tell Dr. Hagberg that they had just lost their motivation. “Some of them would say: ‘Competition just doesn’t motivate me as much at 75. I’ve been doing it for 50 years,’ ” he said. “Others would say, ‘I just can’t keep it up any more.’ ”

But for those who still have the drive, the news that muscle mass and lactic threshold can be maintained is encouraging.

The reason people become slower, though, is that oxygen consumption declines with age.

In large part that is because, as has long been known, the maximum heart rate steadily falls by about seven to eight beats per minute per decade. It happens with or without training, in sedentary and in active people, Dr. Tanaka said, and no one knows why. But as a result, the heart cannot pump as much blood at maximum effort.

Dr. Michael Joyner, a 49-year-old exercise researcher at the Mayo Clinic who also is a competitive swimmer and a runner, added another factor: the lungs of older athletes cannot take in quite as much air.

With a slower heart rate and less oxygen in the lungs, less oxygen-rich blood gets to the muscles. In one study, Dr. Joyner found that highly trained athletes age 55 to 68 had 10 to 20 percent less blood flow to their legs than athletes in their 20s.

The older athletes in his group, though, were edging toward an age that often is a transition time in athletic performances, researchers are finding. For example, Dr. Wright and her colleague Dr. Brett Perricelli found that the performances of track athletes declined almost imperceptibly from year to year until their mid-60s, when the rate of decline picked up. At age 75, though, the athletes’ times fell, on average, by 7 percent.

The study, the results of which will appear in the March issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine, involved track and field athletes age 50 to 85 who were participants in the 2001 Senior Olympics and also examined the times for American record holders in track events.

But older athletes still can have spectacular performances, Dr. Tanaka notes.

For example, the world best marathon time for men 70 or older (2:54:05) was set by a 74-year-old. That is more than four minutes faster than the winning marathon time at the first modern Olympics, the 1896 Games in Athens.

Of course, such statistics are of little comfort to athletes who do not want to slow down at all. Dr. Hawkins said he and Robert A. Wiswell, the senior author on his nearly 20-year study of athletes, used to joke that they needed a sports psychologist rather than a sports physiologist on their study. The athletes, he explained, could not bear to think that they would stop setting personal records.

That’s an issue for Don Truex, a 70-year-old dentist in Santa Barbara, Calif, who can’t understand why he has slowed down in the last year. He just ran a 5K race in 23:45. It was an average pace of 7:38 a mile, 90 seconds slower than he wanted to run.

“I’ve consulted with my doctor and we think I may be overtraining,” Dr. Truex said. He’s going to continue running five days a week but cut back on his five days a week of cycling.

Slower times are even more of a concern for Dr. Truex’s friend Barry Erbsen, a 67-year-old dentist in Los Angeles.

Dr. Erbsen started running seriously around 40. His best time in a 10K race was 38 minutes, a pace of 6 minutes a mile. Next he started running marathons, going faster each time until he had completed several, including the Boston Marathon, in 3:07:00.

Then, Dr. Erbsen started to slow down. He ran a marathon a few years ago in 3:45:00. He completed his next one in 3:58:00.

That nearly four-hour marathon was his last, he said. Instead, Dr. Erbsen took up mountain biking. So far so good, he said. He’s having a lot of fun. And, he added, “I’m not getting too much slower.”

Monday, February 04, 2008

Water vs. Coke


1.  75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. 
(Likely applies to half the world population)

2. In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak 
that it is mistaken for hunger.

3. Even MILD dehydration will slow down one's metabolism as much as 3%.

4. One glass of water will shut down midnight hunger pangs 
for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a University of 

5. Lack of water, the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue. 

6. Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of
water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain 
for up to 80% of sufferers.

7. A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on 
the computer screen or on a printed page.

8. Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of 
colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast 
cancer by 79%, and one is 50% less likely to develop
bladder cancer. 

Are you drinking the amount of water you should every day?


1. In many states the highway patrol carries two gallons of Coke in the trunk to remove blood from the highway after a car accident.

2. You can put a T-bone steak in a bowl of Coke and it will be gone in two days.

3. To clean a toilet: Pour a can of Coca-Cola into the toilet bowl and let the "real thing" sit for one hour, then flush clean. The citric acid in Coke removes 
stains from vitreous China.

4. To remove rust spots from chrome car bumpers, rub the bumper with a rumpled-up piece of aluminum foil dipped in Coca-Cola. 

5. To clean corrosion from car battery terminals, pour a can of Coca-Cola over the terminals to bubble away the corrosion.

6. To loosen a rusted bolt, apply a cloth soaked in Coca-Cola to the rusted bolt for several minutes.

7. To remove grease from clothes, empty a can of Coke 
into the load of greasy clothes, add detergent, and run through a regular cycle. The Coca-Cola will help loosen grease stains. It will also clean road gunk from your windshield.


1. The active ingredient in Coke is phosphoric acid. It will dissolve a nail in about four days. Phosphoric acid also leaches calcium from bones and is a major contributor to the rising increase of osteoporosis. 

2. To carry Coca-Cola syrup, (the concentrate) commercial trucks must use Hazardous Material place cards reserved for highly corrosive materials.

3. The distributors of Coke have been using it to clean engines of delivery trucks for about 20 years!

Now the question is, would you like a glass of water or Coke?