Archive for January, 2009

 

 

Bacteria is a funny thing.  It makes people ill and yet it exists, in less severe amounts, all over the body: the skin, the intestinal and urinary tracts, and a whole host of other places.  Some of it helps to keep the body safe from serious illnesses – yet too much bacteria causes a person to get sick.  Probiotics are the bacteria which naturally occur naturally in food, or are added to it, and can be beneficial to one’s health and overall wellness . . . particularly when it comes to protecting the body against certain illnesses.

Probiotics vs. Antibiotics
Probiotics are not to be confused with antibiotics.  Antibiotics kill germs and they are great at their job.  However, they do not differentiate between the “good” bacteria – probiotics – and the “bad” bacteria – those things which make people sick.  Thus, antibiotics tend to kill off probiotics as well, never recognizing them as beneficial; in fact, they are never recognized as anything other than another type of bacteria.

The downside is that antibiotics can also kill off the naturally occurring probiotics in the body, thus upsetting their delicate balance.  This can cause a number of things, such as yeast infections, irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, urinary tract infections, and even jock itch.

As such, many people believe that taking probiotics when on antibiotics, that balance can be safely maintained.  Presumably, the antibiotics will not be able to kill off the influx of “good” bacteria at the rate it is introduced into the body.  The probiotics replace what the antibiotics have been eliminating, and the natural balance is restored, thus keeping the body safe against illnesses to which it may be vulnerable.

Additionally, taking probiotics can be a proactive approach to great health.

Where can you find probiotics?
There are a number of probiotic foods out there, many of which you might find surprising.  For instance, yogurt is considered an excellent probiotic food.  It is beneficial to both the intestinal tract and the urinary tract; in women, it is even helpful to the vaginal tract.  In order to be truly helpful, the yogurt must contain lactobacillus or certain other types of bacteria.  Generally, the container will include a note which specifies that there are live cultures in the food.  Notably, some antibiotics cause stomach problems; yogurt as a probiotic may be able to offset the yeast infections and stomach problems frequently caused by antibiotics.

There are also many drinks which contain probiotics.  One of them is called kefir.  Kefir is a drink made out of cultures; it is usually flavored with some kind of fruit.  It can be very helpful in offsetting a number of the things to which antibiotics leave the body vulnerable.

Other helpful foods include cottage cheese, and vegetables which have been preserved or fermented.  Probiotics are also readily available in many dietary supplements.

More to come . . . 
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article in the next issue where I’ll talk about the many specific health benefits you can achieve by taking probiotics.

Get Strong! Stay Strong!
Chris
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The secret to natural medicine for many common health issues is simply . . . honey.  It has many healing properties, as it acts as an anti-viral, anti-antibiotic and anti-fungal.  Honey has been used as an effective treatment for conditions such as burns, and fighting colds and flu. Keep reading for three recipes of honey’s natural medicine, as well as the best honey to use when making your homemade remedy. 

What is the best honey to use? 
The best honey to use is when making your own natural medicine is organic raw honey that is produced by your local beekeepers.  It is much more nutritious and usually tastes better than store-bought honey.  Generally small-scale beekeepers will take better care of their hives than those who deal with large-scale honey production.

Making Medicinal Honey
If you’re interested in making your own medicinal honey, start with one of these three recipes:

  1. Herbal honey with lemon balm and ginger: Heat one cup of raw honey until it is liquefied.  Add in one-quarter cup fresh chopped lemon balm and two tablespoons peeled minced ginger and simmer for 20 minutes.  Put into a glass jar and cap tightly.    This concoction is effective in soothing the stomach and fighting colds.
  2. Try hyssop and thyme, which is good for congestion, lavender, mint, rosemary, sage and rose hips:  For each cup of honey, add in one-quarter cup of fresh herbs or one-eighth cup of dried herbs.  
  3. Garlic honey remedy:  This is excellent at fighting the cold and flu and is great to have around the house, especially during the winter months.  Fill a jar with garlic cloves and pour raw honey over it.  Let the mixture infuse for several days before you use it. 
Storing Medicinal Honey
Store your medicinal honey in the refrigerator or a cool, dry cabinet.  Your honey will last about one year.  Make sure to write the date on the jar so you can keep track of its freshness.

Dosage
When you’re feeling sick, take a teaspoon several times a day.  To fight the flu, you can mix a teaspoon of your honey mixture with raw apple cider vinegar and hot water to make an herbal drink.  Some people also like to add cayenne pepper, which also has amazing healing benefits.  

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It is important to know that although children love the taste of honey, you cannot give honey to infants under the age of one because of the risk of botulism.

Honey Heals
What better way to heal your ailing body than with Nature’s medicine? Keep in mind that honey is still a “sugar.” Just because you are using honey don`t think you can double up on the doseThe key is to get honey from your local area and not from a supermarket. Start with one of the above recipes and you’ll be on your way to wellness in no time.

——-By Sylvia Anderson, AHJ Editor 1/15/2009
Get Strong! Stay Strong! (and be healthy!)
Chris

Exercise to improve your baseball and golf swing, tennis stroke, and hockey slap shot. —Mens Health Magazine

A powerful rotational turn will give you an extra 10 yards off the tee or 10 mph on your fastball. Exercises to boost that strength are overlooked but important. “Most sports require stabilization, strength, and power through some type of rotation,” says Tyler Wallace, NASM-C.P.T., of the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Here are the exercises Wallace recommends for powering up some key sports moves.

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Baseball Swing    Standing cable rotation.     Stand between the weight stacks of a cable station. Grab both ends of a rope handle attached to the midlevel pulley. Keeping your elbows bent, rotate your body to the left. Pause, then return to the starting position. Do three sets of 10 reps on each side.

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Baseball Pitch     Medicine-ball lift.     Lift a medicine ball from your chest to above your shoulder, rotating your hips and pivoting your back foot as you go. Pause when your arms are straight, then lower the ball. Do three sets of 10 reps on both sides.

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Golf Swing          Swiss-ball Russian twist.    Lie with your shoulder blades and head on a Swiss ball and your feet flat on the floor. Hold your arms straight above you and clasp your hands together. Slowly rotate your shoulders to the left until your arms are roughly parallel to the floor. Pause, then rotate to the right. Do two sets of 15 repetitions.

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Tennis Stroke    Standing medicine-ball rotation chop.     Hold a medicine ball overhead with your arms straight. Keeping them straight, swing your arms down as if to throw the ball to the outside of each foot. Do four sets of eight repetitions on each side.

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Hockey Slap Shot    Single-arm Swiss-ball rotation row.    Grab a dumbbell and lie facedown on a Swiss ball. With the weight in your right hand, let your right arm hang down. Place your other hand on your hip. Pull the weight up toward your chest as you rotate your upper body to the right. Pause, then slowly return to the starting position. Do two sets of 15 with each arm.

Great examples of matching an exercise to a specific activity to improve performance!  The same can be done for almost any activity.  Be creative and break out of the body building mentality!

Get Strong! Stay Strong!

Chris

Leg Training Myths Exposed
Quick Answers to Common Idiocy

You know the guy who floats around the gym nit-picking everybody’s technique? The guy who offers constructive criticism without being constructive? Well, we got sick of listening to his pseudo-knowledge about leg training, so we had Alwyn Cosgrove respond to some of the most common “tips” you hear.

The Parallel Universe

Myths:

Real-World Response

Have you ever watched kids learn to stand? They begin in a full squat. In fact, the fetal position is a full squat. That’s how your knee actually developed — in the full squat position.

Deep squatter from day one.

Don’t come back at me saying that a fetal position isn’t loaded. That statement actually proves my point. It’s not the position itself that’s dangerous. If you’re an idiot and don’t know how to load properly, then we have big problems.

Ask any orthopedic surgeon or physical therapist at what degree of knee-bend one performs the “drawer test?” It’s at 90 degrees. In this position, the knee joint is most unstable. If you’re trying to assess the integrity of the ligaments, you want minimal interference from other structures.

The drawer test: If it tickles, you probably aren’t doing it right.

Bend the knee to full flexion and check how much the tibia moves on the femur anteriorly or posteriorly. It’s very little. However, do the same test at 90 degrees of flexion and you’ll get considerably more movement.

You can imagine how much force is on the knee ligaments if the athlete descends with a weight and then at the most unstable point (90 degrees), reverses momentum and accelerates in the opposite direction. Couple this with the fact that nearly everyone is capable of squatting more weight to parallel than to the full squat position, and you set your body up for a problem.

Warning: The following stunt is not to be attempted by anyone wishing to remain bipedal.

Scientific Response

Squatting to parallel with legs bent at 90 degrees not only makes the exercise less effective, but increases the risk of injury. By not squatting through a full range of motion, you can’t maintain proper lumbosacral body mechanics.

When performing the squat, the sacrum undergoes a process known as nutation. It tilts forward relative to the two ilia on either side of it. At approximately 90 degrees of knee bend, the sacrum tilts back in a process known as counternutation. These two functions, nutation and counternutation, basically describe the movement at the sacroiliac (SI) joint.

However, proper SI joint mechanics help to ensure optimal functioning of the rest of the spine. For example, some literature links SI dysfunction with lower back pain in up to 80% of cases.

In order to perform a full squat, flexibility and range of motion must be maintained in the lumbar spine and SI joint, as well as in muscles such as the iliopsoas, hip external rotators, piriformis, and gemelli.

If a client can’t squat past 90 degrees of knee bend without their heels raising or their body bending excessively forward at the waist, but they can squat all the way to the floor while holding onto something, we know there are muscle imbalances and stability issues around the pelvic/lumbosacral region as opposed to a knee or ankle dysfunction.

Great for testing your squat depth and great for keeping out the land shark.

Additionally, improper pelvic, hip, and/or lumbosacral mechanics could manifest down the kinetic chain as recurring knee or ankle problems. Thus, regular performance of the full squat offers a “screen” of the athlete’s pelvic and lumbosacral flexibility. This could prevent injury or muscle imbalances long before they become chronic.

Gray Cook’s Functional Movement Screen is a reference for using the squat as a screening tool.

As far as studies go, Salem and Powers (2001) looked at patellofemoral joint kinetics in female collegiate athletes at three different depths of knee flexion — 70 degrees (above parallel), 90 degrees (at parallel), and 110 degrees (below parallel).

The researchers found that “…peak knee extensor moment, patellofemoral joint reaction force and patellofemoral joint stress did not vary significantly between the three squatting trials…” There was no support for the idea that squatting below parallel increased stress on the patellofemoral joint.

To Boldly Go Where No Knee Has Gone Before

Myth:

Real-World Response

This one is really easy. My answer is, what about the other knee? In a lunge, it’s apparently too dangerous for the knee of the front leg to extend past the toes. Meanwhile the knee of the back leg is past the toes the whole time.

I’ve had people respond by saying that there’s no load on the back leg during a lunge. Okay then, put 135 pounds on your back and go down to the bottom of a lunge. Now lift your back foot off the floor. I rest my case.

The shirt may be optional, but using both feet to lunge is mandatory.

Scientific Response

When talking about knees going forward, one study jumps out. Fry, Smith, and Schilling (2003) examined joint kinetics during back squats under two conditions.

The first condition placed a board in front of the participants’ shins, which restricted forward displacement of the knee. In the second condition, movement wasn’t restricted at all. They squatted normally and the knees were allowed to pass the toes.

The researchers found that restricting the forward excursion of the knees during the squat increased anterior lean of the trunk and promoted an increased “internal angle at the knees and ankles.”

The results showed a 22% decrease in knee torque and a 1070% increase in hip torque! That stress has to go somewhere. Keeping the knees behind the toes definitely reduces the forces on the knee, but those forces were transferred more than tenfold to the hips and lower back.

You can be guy number one or guy number two. Your choice.

Obviously this study was in regard to squatting. However, the knee angle in a lunge would be similar and we could expect similar findings.

Wrap-Up

 

 

All parents are concerned with their children’s health and welfare, and most have their kid’s best interests at heart when it comes to nutrition.  But with increasingly busy schedules and lives, it is becoming harder for families to sit down to the dinner table every night with a wholesome, healthy meal. And it shows in the “obesity epidemic” that’s a rising concern in United States. Beware of six big mistakes parents make with kids and food.

You want your kids to be healthy – and happy — when it comes to nutrition. Don’t fall into these unhealthy traps with your little ones:

1.    Giving in to the temptation of fast food.  It’s so easy when you are running a million miles a minute to make that quick stop through the drive-through so you can ensure everyone gets to the places they need to be, and on-time.  However, fast food is filled with fat, calories and unhealthy preservatives. Stopping at your favorite fast-food joint once in a while can be a treat, but making it a regular habit can lead to obesity and many more health problems down the road.

2.    Not setting good examples.  Children learn behavior from their parents . . . monkey see, monkey do.  Even though it seems like that they are constantly ignoring you, they are watching you very closely most of the time. If you’re an unhealthy eater, they likely will be too. In addition, many adults are trying to lose weight and not always in the safest ways.  If your kids see you obsessed with your body image, they may develop an unhealthy image of their own bodies which could lead to serious diseases like anorexia and bulimia.

3.    Not cooking healthy, well-balanced meals.  Because you are so busy, it is tempting to just throw something in the microwave or whip up a batch of boxed mac-n-cheese instead of providing a healthy meal.  Most microwave and packaged meals are loaded with chemicals and preservatives and don’t provide a well-rounded dinner. It’s amazing how many healthy dishes can be prepared in 10 minutes or less, such as grilled chicken or baked fish fillets. If you must resort to packaged foods, add healthy side dishes such as fresh veggies or fruit.

4.    Not educating your children.  It is essential for children to understand the importance of proper nutrition.  It is not enough for you to tell your kids to eat what’s on the table; you need to tell them why it is good for them.  If they understand that proper nutrition will help them become strong, healthy individuals, they are more likely to develop good eating habits and eat a healthy diet for the rest of their lives.

5.    Not encouraging exercise along with a healthy diet.  Sitting down to watch television or play a video game is acceptable – in moderation.  Oftentimes such activities are accompanied by unhealthy snacks, and replace physical activity. As a parent, you should encourage exercise on a daily basis and limit the amount of time spent in front of the TV or game console. By making exercise an activity the whole family can enjoy (such as going on nightly walks or shooting hoops) you are much more likely to guarantee your kids’ participation. 

6.    Denying your kids the occasional treat. OK, you know that candy and fast-food are bad for your kids. But they are in fact kids, and what would the childhood experience be without an occasional treat? By completely denying your kids the foods they enjoy, you are setting them up for failure. They may resort to sneaking treats or over-indulge when presented with a sugary snack. But by allowing the fun stuff in moderation, you’re teaching them habits they can implement for a lifetime.

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There are so many distractions in your hectic life: jobs to balance, soccer games to attend, and dinner to make on top of it all.  Resist the temptation to take the easy way out when it comes to nutrition and your children will benefit for the rest of their lives.

This is a huge ( no pun intended) problem that everyone needs to address
Get Strong! Stay Strong! (and get our kids fit!)
Chris