Monday, August 25, 2008

Thinking 100% Vegan? Think Again...

Strict vegan and raw-food-only diets have gained popularity in recent years for both health-based and ethical reasons.  While there are many health benefits that can be achieved from switching to a vegan or raw food diet for a period of time, there is a strong likelihood that people who remain on a strictly vegan or raw food diet for more than a period of two years can potentially suffer some serious health consequences.
There are a number of nutrients that people on a 100% vegan diet can become deficient in over the long term including vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), vitamin A, cholesterol and saturated fats, zinc, iron, and calcium.
Animal foods contain the most reliable dietary sources of vitamin B12.  While similar compounds, known as vitamin B12 analogues are found in algae, including small amounts of animal foods rich in vitamin B12 in your diet will help ensure optimal levels are delivered to your body.
While your body can convert an omega-3 fatty acid called ALA, which is found in many plant foods to DHA and EPA, the conversion is not efficient in some people.  The only plant food containing actual DHA and EPA is seaweed.
A variety of plant foods contain carotenoids, an antioxidant which can convert to vitamin A in the blood.  Evidence suggests that carotenoids are not always absorbed or converted efficiently, which can lead to a vitamin A deficiency if no foods containing actual vitamin A are ever consumed.
Your body needs undamaged cholesterol and saturated fats for a number of important functions.  A strict vegan diet is typically low in both of these; though there are trace amounts of both in plant foods.  If your intake of saturated fat is TOO low, there is a good risk of developing endocrine dysfunction from low blood cholesterol as well as an underproduction of reproductive and stress-related hormones.
Many strict vegans regularly eat whole grains that haven’t been soaked, sprouted, or fermented.  These processes release phytic acid, but whole grains that haven’t been soaked, sprouted, or fermented retain high levels of it, which binds to minerals like zinc, iron, and calcium in the intestine and prevents their absorption.
If you have chosen a strict vegan diet for a number of years and have developed chronic health problems like low energy, joint pain, low body temperature, skin breakouts, weak teeth, gums, and nails, brittle hair, low libido, and/or emotional instability, consider adding small amounts of clean and minimally processed animal foods like free-range eggs, deep sea salmon, organic, raw milk cheese or yogurt from antibiotic and hormone free, pasture fed cows.  If you are experiencing strong cravings for animal foods, eating small amounts of any of these products, until that feeling goes away, will help ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs to remain optimally healthy.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Jeepers Creepers - Refined Carbs Hurt Your Peepers

If you needed just one more reason to cut the sugar, white flour, and other highly processed grains from your diet – here’s one for ya.  Your Vision.


Turns out that if you cut out (or cut back) your consumption of processed carbohydrates, you can lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  AMD is a leading cause of blindness in people aged 60 and older.  Why is that, you may be wondering?  Well, the high glycemic index in refined carbs increases oxidative stress, inflammation, and blood-fat levels – all linked to AMD.


In addition to replacing those bad carbs with high-fiber whole grains, there are four specific nutrients that help reduce the risk of developing common eye problems by as much as 35 percent – Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta carotene (Vitamin A), and zinc.

In a recent study of people aged 55 and over, those who reported the highest intake of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, and zinc were significantly less likely to develop AMD than those who had the lowest intake. Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes as well as mangoes and strawberries will pump up the vitamin C. Turkey, chicken, and fortified cereals are great sources for zinc. Raw almonds, peanuts, natural peanut butter, or a supplement, can help boost your intake of vitamin E.  And sweet potatoes, apricots, and peaches are all excellent sources of beta carotene.


Other carotenoids (nutrients like beta carotene) that appear to be beneficial for eye health are lutin and zeaxanthin.  You can find them in a variety of fruits and vegetables.  Spinach, peas, and green bell peppers are all good sources of lutein.  You get zeaxanthin from corn, spinach, orange bell peppers, and tangerines.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Tip of the day

I get sent junk e-mails every day but today I received a good one. Don't know who the original author is but the message is simple and perfect. 

Nothing is ever solved, or created, by standing still. Movement is the process of the Universe. So move. Do something. Anything. But do not stand still. Do not remain "on the horns of a dilemma."  Do not fence sit. 
Put your foot down on one side or the other, swing the opposite leg over and start walking. You'll know before you take ten steps if you're going in the right direction. Not to decide is to decide. Try to not make choices by default. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

One More Rep

There are hundreds of ways to learn how to improve your health and fitness. The simple act of spending time with me in a chat room twice a month gives you the opportunity to learn everything I've learned over the years. This blog, my mailbag and the video trainer tips will also help you understand what it takes to stay motivated and improve your overall fitness. Sometimes I get into the details and nuances of a health and/or fitness issue and sometimes the answers are shockingly simple. We're all looking for the latest and greatest concepts and techniques to help us get the most out of our lives. The truth is, the "latest and greatest" is often just "old school" stuff re-packaged. A vast majority of the concepts, programs and equipment you see today are just polished versions of ideas that worked 20, 40 and 60 years ago. 

Most often the bells and whistles of today's fitness world aren't worth the hype they're made of. The stuff that worked for Jack LaLanne at the beginning of the 20th century still applies today. Just like Jack, I've tried to deliver real fitness with minimal equipment mixed with hard work, commitment and a plan that works for all of us. If you've been to one of my fitness camps or purchased the latest One-On-One "Road Warrior" DVD you know that all you need for a full-body ass-whooping, is gravity and a floor mat. P90X is loaded with good old fashion Fitness 101. Versions of the Muscle Confusion concept have been around for decades and all I did was put my twist on it. The sequencing of routines and moves are from a lifetime of experimentation. P90X is the culmination of 25 years of trial & error, my desire to avoid boredom, injuries and plateaus, and the drive for better results in a shorter period of time. 

I fall in love with any maxim, motto, proverb, aphorism or truism that keeps me focused and inspired. Can you say, "Do Your Best And Forget The Rest?" I'm trying to bust through a plateau right now, so I'm adding the "One More Rep" chant to my workouts lately. It's paying off because my strength and power has improved immensely. I've been an 8 or 10 rep guy forever so my body and mind have adapted. I've been in unwanted  maintenance mode. No more! Instead of upping the weight to create more resistance (sometimes causing joint pain and injury) I'm just adding the extra rep whenever I can. Turning 8 reps to 9 and 10 to 11 has been surprisingly hard but the results are undeniable. If you're in a rut then just add a rep whenever and wherever you can. It's that simple. It will help you avoid boredom, injury and plateaus, plus speed up your results.         

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sister Kit on Fire!

This inspirational note came from my bad-ass sister Kit this morning. Got me so pumped that I had to post it here. Enjoy!


I don't know about everyone else, but the Olympics are a favorite time of year around our house. Can you not help but be truly inspired when you watch these amazing athletes!!?? This is the one time I will allow a stretch of 3 hour TV watching for my kids.
Yes, you can sit back and say they are young, devote their whole lives to their training and have lots of money to have multiple trainers, physical therapists, massage therapists, nutritionists and the like around them 24/7. But, all those people don't run the race or swim the laps for them. They are the ones who get in the pool, run on the track, and go to the gym everyday, several hours per day. Their commitment to their sport and determination should be inspirational to us all.
One nuance to this year's games that truly inspires me is the age of many of these athletes. Let's just give a big hurrah for all the "old" (I use this term very loosely) moms in the Olympics this year. 41-year-old Dara Torres began swimming again just to get in shape after having a baby. Now she's making her fifth trip to the Olympics and won a silver medal last night!! 39-year-old Sheila Taormina has become the first person to qualify for the Games in three different sports. And cyclist Jeanne Longo, 49, who has competed in seven Olympic Games, is already talking about the next one. I believe the Romanian female marathoner who won gold yesterday is 38 years old! Gals, NO MORE EXCUSES!!
I just got back from vacation and did my share of indulging. Kept with my workout routine, though, and was so glad I did. Getting right back on it this week with the Olympic inspiration and the picture of my new idol, Dara Torres hanging on my mirror!!

This week's schedule
Today: Conditioning class (strength, slide, kickboxing)
Monday: Spinning-1 hour (9:30 am)
Tuesday: Chest and Back and Ab Ripper (5:00 am)
Wednesday: P90X Plus Intervals (5:00 am)
Thursday: P90X Upper Body Plus and Ab Ripper Plus (5:00 am)
Friday: Spinning-1 hour (10 am)
Saturday: Rest

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The First Meal Of The Day

When it comes to health, fitness, and staying happy, every positive thing you do for yourself helps. So, why not start at breakfast? According to Dr. Kathleen DesMaisons, author of “Potatoes, Not Prozac”, there are four simple rules you can follow at breakfast time to help you shed pounds, fight sugar crazvings, and boost your mood to boot.

1. Get into a daily habit. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Eating a healthy, well-balanced meal in the morning helps you sustain your energy levels and can prevent those late-day sugar/carb snack cravings that are a lot of people’s downfall.

2. Don’t wait. Breakfast packs the most energy sustaining punch if you eat it within an hour or so of waking up. When you first wake up, your brain is still washed with a chemical that masks hunger pangs, but your blood sugar is low. To cut those sugar cravings that will come later, eat early - even if you’re not hungry.

3. Eat complex carbohydrates. Go with things like whole-grain cereals, steel-cut oats and/or high-fiber fruits. The fiber helps your blood sugar stabilize and the bulk helps you feel full longer.

4. Bump it up with protein. Protein in your stomach slows digestion, it acts to keep your blood sugar on an even keel, and protein containing a bit of depression-fighting tryptophan helps your mood. The Doc suggests eating 1/3 of your daily protein at breakfast.

Need more reasons to make a healthy breakfast part of your routine?

Studies show that people who eat breakfast have greater success at weight loss and weight maintenance than those who don’t.

A high fiber breakfast will help you stay more alert than if you start your day with a high-fat meal.

Eating whole rather than refined grain cereal can lower your risk for heart disease.

Are your mornings rushed? If you don’t think you’ve got time for breakfast in the morning, stock your fridge with ready-to-eat goodies for the go. Throw some fruit and veggies in one sandwich bag and a hard-boiled egg in another. Then, grab a yogurt cup (and maybe a napkin while you’re at it) – and you’re off. Eat an early, nutritious to-go meal like that and you won’t be hit with those sudden hunger pangs that make the drive-thru seem tempting later on.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Putting On Healthy Weight

The desire to shed extra baggage and firm up is a goal for lots of folks, but not everyone.  If you’re underweight for

your body structure and have started your program to PUT ON healthy weight, or if your current weight is in good range, but you want to transform it into healthy proportions of skeletal, muscle, and fat; this tip is for you.


In addition to building your major and skeletal muscle groups through your fitness program, developing healthy eating habits (including what you eat and how you eat it) are essential.  Here’s why:


If you’re significantly underweight, chances are you may have a weak digestive system.  A healthy digestive system is what makes absorbing and using the nutrients in the foods you eat possible.  Being at a healthy weight doesn’t guarantee that your major organs are working well, but getting up in the normal range does improve your chances of regulating blood sugar and insulin levels and avoiding osteoporosis – and this means a lot for your overall health and longevity.


Building and maintaining healthy cells (including muscle cells), means supplying them with a steady stream of healthy nutrients. And you need all your organ systems, including your digestive tract and liver to function at a high level in order to achieve this.  Nourishing cells for growth and maintenance begins in the digestive tract.
Here are a few simple things you can do to ensure optimal digestion:

1.       Chew your foods until liquid.

Especially if you are underweight and your digestive system is weak, by chewing your foods until liquid, you take burden off of your digestive organs and increase the likelihood that most of the nutrients in the foods that you eat make their way into your bloodstream.


2.       Eat at rest, not on the go.

Being physically active or emotionally upset while you eat diverts blood away from your digestive organs and to your skeletal muscles and nervous system. Optimal blood supply to your digestive organs is crucial to keep them functioning well.


3.       Ensure regular exposure to friendly bacteria.

Having healthy colonies of friendly bacteria in your digestive tract is critical to optimally break down and extract nutrients from the foods you eat. Easy fix?  Eat yogurt every day.


To keep your liver healthy, avoid regular consumption of alcohol, deep-fried and sugary foods, and acetaminophen (Tylenol).  Regular exposure to these substances can impede liver function and even cause injury to your liver cells over time.
In addition to doing simple things to maximize digestive tract and liver health, gaining healthy weight means getting those extra calories from healthy, nutrient-rich foods. 
Foods like sweet potatoes, organic eggs, avocados, olives, and yummy smoothies made with nut or soy milk are all good choices for promoting growth and providing your cells with health-promoting nutrients. Raw, organic nuts are also good choices, but it's best to eat only about a handful of nuts per day since eating more than that on a regular basis can lead to a decrease in digestive efficiency.
Adding extra protein to your diet does help build skeletal muscle mass, but you don’t want to overdo it.  Aim to consume about half your body weight in grams of protein.  So, that means if you weigh 150 lbs, consuming 75 grams of healthy protein per day is right on track.