4 Tips for Preventing Winter Sport Injuries

Comment

4 Tips for Preventing Winter Sport Injuries

4 Tips for Preventing Winter Sport Injuries

Spring is here in the bay area but ski season is still going strong up in the mountains.

Wearing proper protective gear will go a long way in preventing winter sports injuries, especially in the event of a fall.  However, keeping your body in good condition is the best way to not only prevent a fall but to improve your body’s reaction during one.

Here are 4 things you can do to keep your body in top condition and to prevent injury:

1 – Warmup before you hit the slopes

Muscles get tighter when the temperature drops, and your blood vessels contract so you’re more likely to get exhausted or develop muscle cramps. A thorough warm up helps increase the blood flow to the working muscle which results in decreased muscle stiffness, reduced risk of injury and often, improved performance. The warmup also adds psychological preparation for the more extreme exercise ahead. Both skiers and snowboarders should focus on leg and core warmup exercises, and though beneficial for both, skiers especially should add shoulder warmup exercises. Some exercise ideas include

Stretching your arms, legs and back
Arm circles
Twisting your upper body
Squats
Jumping rope or running in place
 

2 - Stay hydrated

Make sure you drink plenty of water before heading out and keep drinking it throughout the day. The cold weather may mask it but your body is still sweating to release the excess heat generated by exercise. It’s also losing more water the faster you breathe. If you’re not replacing all that water you will become dehydrated which can impair neuromuscular coordination, decrease concentration, and slow thinking. Dehydration can also reduce endurance, decrease strength, cause cramping, and slow muscular response.  If the day goes by and you don't feel the need to pee or your pee is much darker in color you may be at risk of dehydration.

3 – Know and respect your limits

If you haven’t developed sufficient lower body strength avoid the steep slopes that demand a lot of power from your legs to maintain control.  Avoid the mogul fields if your agility needs work. Most importantly pay attention to how tired you are before going all out for that last run of the day. Most injuries happen around that time. As the primary muscles you’ve been using all day begin to fatigue your body starts recruiting secondary muscles to help.  This alters your form and puts demands on other muscles that aren’t prepared for it.

3 – Strength Training

Get to the gym on those days in between your trips to the mountains.   Put together a strength training program for the muscles you’ll be using most.  Which, let’s face it, is most of the muscle you have. However, muscles to target include:

Quadriceps

Hamstrings and Glutes

Inner and Outer thighs

Calves

Abs and Back

Arms.

Building up the strength and endurance in these muscle groups will give you more control to enjoy the sport and reduce your risk of injury.

Comment

2016 Resolutionaries

Comment

2016 Resolutionaries

Welcome to 2016!  If you made a New Years Resolution it's more than likely that it was fitness related.  As a personal trainer and a gym owner you might think this is just wishful thinking on my part. However, a 2015 Nielsen Survey found that “staying fit and healthy” was the top 2015 resolution, coming in at 37%, followed closely by “lose weight” (32%). (1)

This means that if this year is anything like last most of you 2016 "Resolutionaries" will be starting anew or reinvigorating an existing (perhaps neglected) fitness routine.  As a personal trainer, massage therapist and reluctant nutritionist it gives me profound satisfaction to see people making improvements to their health, fitness and overall well-being. So, if your resolution does involve a new workout routine, know that I'm in your corner routing for your success.  To support you in that effort let me offer 3 pieces of advice:

1 Plan Ahead

The most important factor in making progress is consistency.  You need to be able to show up for a workout or progress just won't happen.  At a minimum I think you should participate in some form of physical activity for an hour at least 3 to 4 times per week.  Take a look at your calendar and figure out the days and times when you are most likely to show up motivated for those workouts and then build your new schedule around those days. This will involve moving other responsibilities around and a little pre planning will help reduce conflicts that might knock your new fitness routine of track.  Also if you have people that are used to reaching you at your new workout times let them know in advance that your availability will be changing.

2 Make Incremental Changes

You've heard the saying that Rome wasn't built in a day and you're not going reach your fitness goals in a single day either.  Eagerness and motivation are essential to achieving your goals but they need to be managed.  If you push yourself too fast-too far beyond your current level of fitness you'll be at high risk for disappointment and/or injury and either can slow or completely derail your progress. I like the 10% rule. The basic concept behind that rule is to not increase the challenge of your current workout by more than a 10% each time you progress.  For example, if you are strength training with 100lbs of weight in a particular exercise then don't add more than 10 extra lbs to that exercise. Also be aware of other variables such at number of repetitions or sets that you are doing. By increasing those at the same time you are increasing the weight, cumulatively you may be accelerating the challenge of the exercise by a lot more than 10%.  Each increase in difficulty of your workout adds new stress to your body. If these new stresses come in controlled measured amounts your body reacts in beneficial ways, like building new muscle tissue.  If you intensify your workouts too much at one time you run the risk over stressing your body and it can react negatively by becoming fatigued or injured. The 10% rule can be applied no matter what your workout of choice is.  If you are running you can increase distance, speed, uphill grade etc.  Make sure if you increase one of those variables by a full 10% that you leave the others alone until your your level of condition has improved to meet the new demands.

If you are just getting started with a brand new routine get comfortable before you add any challenges.  Go to the gym and start with exercises you know how to do at intensities you KNOW you can handle.  Ask the gym staff for help. Walk before you jog before you run before you sprint.  Etc, etc.  Once you feel comfortable with a core routine of exercises you can start applying the 10% rule.

3 Build a Support Network

Take the team approach.  Involving other supportive individuals can exponentially increase your chances of success:

-Tell the people who want to see you succeed about your goals.  They'll help to keep you motivated.  Just knowing that someone else is watching your progress will inspire you to stick with it.  

-Find a workout buddy and plan your sessions together;  knowing that someone else is counting on you will cut down on letting a workout slide - Don't forget how important consistency is.

-Hire a coach or personal trainer.  Not only will you benefit from their expert guidance but making a financial investment in your goals can add a new level commitment for seeing them through.

-Make sure your doctor is on board with your plans.  This is especially important if you've never worked out before, if you have past or current injuries or if you have any diagnosed or undiagnosed medical conditions.

Kevin McCullough is a certified Personal Trainer, Massage Therapist and Nutrition Educator.

Comment

 #%$& Foam Rolling!

Comment

#%$& Foam Rolling!

So why do trainers keep bugging you to use that $%#@ foam roller?

Your first guess might be that they just want you to suffer. Though there may be an element of truth to that it’s not their primary motivation. Foam Rolling is a form of myofascial release, rather self-myofascial release since you’re doing it to yourself. 

So there is your answer.  Your trainer wants you to release your myofascials.  Wait! What?

You may have heard that term before. Some you actually know what it means and most of you probably have a passing idea of what it might be. So that everyone is on the same page, let’s clarify.  The word is latin in origin.  The first part myo- refers to muscle tissue.  The second part –fascial refers to the fascia or the tough membrane that wraps around individual muscle fibers, muscles and groups of muscles.  Fascia acts to support and connect the muscle tissues (and other types of tissues) together. The theory is that imbalances occur within muscle and fascia leading to pain, tension and restricted movement of the muscles. Though it’s not implied in “myofascial”, nerves and other sensory organs within the muscle also play a role in these imbalances.  Many different metaphors are used to describe imbalances: knots, adhesions, trigger points, etc.  These imbalance vary in degree and can involve a few muscle fibers and their surrounding fascia, several areas within a muscle or even entire muscles or groups of muscles.

The benefits that your trainer wants you to get from foam rolling include(1):

  1. Correction of muscle imbalances
  2. Muscle relaxation
  3. Improved joint range of motion
  4. Improved neuromuscular efficiency
  5. Reduced soreness and improved tissue recovery
  6. Suppression/reduction of trigger point sensitivity and pain
  7. Decreased neuromuscular hypertonicity
  8. Provide optimal length-tension relationships
  9. Decrease the overall effects of stress on the human movement system

If you’ve never used the foam roller it’s best to get some instruction from your personal trainer, though the principle is relatively simple. You will use your own body weight to pin the target muscle onto the foam roller.  Normally this is done with the roller on the floor but walls and other stationary objects can also be used to counter your bodyweight. With the foam roller in place you will follow the direction of the muscle fibers for the full length of the target muscle. Slowly roll the targeted area until the most tender spot is found. Hold on that spot while relaxing the targeted muscle and the discomfort reduces; between 30 seconds and 90 seconds(1). There are many areas of the body you need to exercise caution with, notably the neck, ribs and low back.  You also should be familiar with the attachment points of your target muscle so I’ll reinforce my recommendation to get professional instruction if you’ve never used a foam roller. Further, Foam rolling is not appropriate for people with certain medical conditions including those with congestive heart failure, kidney failure, or any organ failure, bleeding disorders, or contagious skin conditions(1).  So get advice from your doctor prior to foam rolling or starting any fitness routine.

Foam rollers come in a wide variety of densities and texturized surfaces and are one of the more popular tools for self myofascial release. Self myofascial release can be done with a variety of other tools including medicine balls, softballs, golf balls, blocks, etc.  Using different tools will help to reach target muscle in ways that foam rollers can’t so get some suggestion from your trainer on which tools will work best for your situation

 

 

1.       Penney, Stacey (2013, August 21). FOAM ROLLING- APPLYING THE TECHNIQUE OF SELF-MYOFASCIAL RELEASE. Retrieved from http://blog.nasm.org/training-benefits/foam-rolling-applying-the-technique-of-self-myofascial-release/

 

Kevin McCullough is a certified Personal Trainer, Massage Therapist and Nutrition Educator.

Comment

Organic or Not

Comment

Organic or Not

OrGaNiCs

People often wonder if the higher cost of buying organic is justified.  Does an organic apple taste different from a conventional one?   How can organic tomatoes have more nutrients; a tomato is a tomato is a tomato, right?  Is an organic cheese puff really healthier than a conventional cheese puff?

Opinions are diverse, especially now that the big food companies have fully embraced ‘organics’ as a profitable market segment. In this week’s blog I’d like to share my opinions in order to help you decide whether and when eating food that is labeled organic is the right choice for you.

The first, and easiest, question to answer is about the organic cheese puff. 

NO

Now to supplement my knee jerk response with a bit more detail…  An organic cheese puff is what I think of as “Franken-organic”. It is a highly processed product (I have a hard time even referring to it as a food); a bastardized version of what I must believe were constituent ingredients that qualified under USDA regulations to be called organic. The end result of all that processing creates a SUM that is very much LESS THAN ITS PARTS and nutritionally indistinguishable from a cheese puff created with conventional ingredients.  But this blog is not about processed food so I’ll save a deeper discussion of that for another day and get back to the issue of organics.

First a little history.  What today is commonly referred to as the organics movement is the result of a great many influences.  The most significant one, I think, has been the reaction to the industrialization of agricultural methods in the United States.  Industrialization led to the cultivation of vast mono crops which introduced new challenges not readily addressed by traditional farming practices.  Mega-farming operations began planting huge swaths of land with the same crop year after year in the name of efficiency and profit.  These narrowly focused and repetitive practices led to the depletion of soil fertility and created an ideal environment for pests (animals, insects, microorganisms), who had a preference for a particular crop, to flourish beyond control. The new mega-farmers turned away from traditional farming methods of amending soil fertility with animal manure and the composted remains of previous crops believing they could not scale to address the needs of their massive new operations.  Also gone were the natural protections of growing a diversity of crops and rotating them from year to year that did not repetitively burden the soil in the same way or allow for any one group of ‘pests’ to grow out of balance to actually become pests. Industrial agriculture instead turned more to the use of synthetic, chemical and pharmaceutical means to fertilize the soil and to control pests and disease. Concerns were raised about these new farming methods including damage to the environment, loss of crop diversity, threat to human health and, not least of which, the end result of it all was a nutritionally inferior product. Many different farmers and organizations began setting their own standards and practices for preserving the quality of their product, the health of the environment and ultimately the health of the consumer.

Against this backdrop the US Congress passed the 1990 Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) to set the federal standards for what it means for crops or livestock to be organically produced, packaged and marketed.  The US Department of Agriculture was given responsibility for administering and enforcing the regulatory framework and developing the national organic standards. This took them another decade to come out with. The result is a politically influenced and complex set of standards that I can’t fully address in a doctoral dissertation never mind this humble blog post. 

Though the entire regulatory framework is complex the most basic standards for organic production are as follow:

  • Synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers cannot be used
  • Seeds and foods cannot be treated with irradiation
  • Do not contain genetically modified/engineered organisms
  • Are not fertilized with sewage sludge

Since the organic standards are government regulation and politically influenced they are far from perfect; witness the organic cheese puff.  However, at their core I think they set a solid framework for the protection of environmental and human health. And when applied properly I do believe they lead to better tasting apples and to tomatoes with a higher nutritional quality.

We can review just the first bullet point to illustrate my opinion; otherwise I’ll ramble on forever with this topic:

  • Synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers cannot be used

First, Synthetics are manmade chemicals that would otherwise not occur in nature or at least not in an agricultural setting. When we put these chemicals on the food we are growing or in the soil it’s grown in or the animals its fed to that food becomes contaminated with those chemicals.  We subsequently ingest those chemicals (if I want to get sensational about it, many manmade chemicals have been found to cause disease in humans and agricultural chemicals are no exception).  Without getting dramatic, at the very minimum these chemicals, often referred to as toxins once inside our bodies, challenge our normal metabolic functions.  It largely falls to our liver to neutralize and remove toxins from the body. The liver, though an amazing organ, is not invincible and over time can exhaust and succumb to disease from prolonged exposures.  The liver also has a limited capacity to deal with toxins at any given time.  And remember you are breathing in, absorbing and ingesting toxins from many other sources all the time. One of the tricks your liver has when it is overburdened and can’t remove all the toxins on hand is to isolate excess ones in your fat stores. There they will stay until your liver once again has enough capacity to process and remove them from your body. And if your liver never has enough capacity to fully detoxify your body, don’t worry, it will create more fat in order to store.  Keep that in mind if you are struggling with weight gain.

Next, let’s just consider those two words “pesticide” and “herbicide” …. ….  Their root meaning is “to kill”. In their primary application they are designed to kill a “pest” or a “weed” but they can easily do the same to a human if a large enough dose is consumed at once… now think “homicide”.  OK that’s a bit dramatic but not so much if you scan back to my point in the last paragraph and consider what could be happening in your body if your liver is not keeping up with its detoxification responsibilities. You could end up storing, or as the health professionals refer to it, bio-accumulating, these toxins that were developed to kill another organism that is very likely not all that different from you at the cellular level. OK – point made – now on to taste and nutritional quality.

Finally, it’s been argued that the same variety of apple or tomato is still going to be the same whether it’s grown conventionally or organically, after all it’s the same thing, right?  On the surface that makes sense but that logic is only superficial.  An organic tomato is going to have a radically different lifestyle than a conventional one.  Let’s just consider soil conditions. In factory farms the soil is typically used over and over again for the same crop leading to depletion of the same nutrients.  Synthetic fertilizers are then added back to the soil to address that.  On top of that other chemicals are typically added to address the pests associated with mono-cropping.  So the resulting depleted soil conditions contain a mix of manmade chemicals.  These chemicals are added specifically to aid and protect the growth of the tomato and rarely consider the health of the soil itself. Healthy soil is a very complex substance containing a wide variety of microorganisms, minerals, organic matter and all sort of critters that work together in an ecosystem.  This ecosystem creates a variety of vitamins and organic compounds that plants take from the soil for their own growth and health. The soil literally gives nutrients to the plant that it can’t make on its own. In factory farming all those chemicals that are added upsets the biodiversity of the soil throwing off the microorganisms and critters that normally cooperate in adding their own set of nutrients to the soil. As a result the tomato that is grown in it is missing many of those nutrients.  And guess what?  When we eat that tomato and nutrients are missing from it our sense of taste will not perceive it in the same way. A good way to think about this is how you eat.  Suppose all you ate was a cereal that claimed to have more than 100% of the recommended daily allowances of minerals and vitamins? You would not last long until your body started experiencing deficiencies that the cereal manufacturer did not anticipate. “Manmade” has so far fallen short compared to what nature provides in the nutrition department.

I’ll close by pointing out that foods do not have to be labeled organically to be healthy.  As I mentioned the organic regulations are not perfect and there a many farmers that produce their food in a responsible manner but due technicalities in the law are not allowed to use the USDA Organic label.  So don’t just rely on an organic label, get to know the source or your food and how it was produced.

 

Kevin McCullough
Owner, Fitness Urbano

Comment

Paddlers in the Bay

Comment

Paddlers in the Bay

We met Joe in 2014 at the Potrero Hill Festival almost a year before we were opened for business. Immediately Joe's welcoming persona and up lifting attitude made us realize it would be a great opportunity to have him as part of Urbano team...  Fast forward to a few weeks after we opened in July 2015, Joe showed up at our facility and started hosting his training clients with us.

Originally from Ewa Beach, Hawaii on the southwest side of Oahu Joe has been in the bay area for almost 8 years now. As a kid living in Hawaii Joe had a very active set of parents. They loved the sport of paddling and started taking Joe along with them at an early age, later inspiring him to join and compete at the High School level in his home town.

Joe's first sprint race was at the age of 15. Now in 2015 he competed in the world championship for solo paddling, the Kaiwi Solo. Which he considers the hardest race he's been part of. Paddling solo from the island of Molokai to Oahu. A long 32 mile event against the best paddlers in the world in the most unpredictable channel in the world.

When asked if there is an easy race, Joe chuckles and says:  "I can't think of an easy race, I feel like they are all hard.  I do enjoy races that are downwind though, you could say that those types of races are the easiest of conditions because you are traveling with the wind and it's a lot of fun riding swells along the way."

During the race season Joe tries to get on the water 4-5 days a week and mix it up with interval training days and longer 10-15 mile paddles days.

Joe's training philosophy: "keep paddling fun!". Trying to stay consistent and paddle smart.  It's an endurance sport that can be very physically (and mentally) demanding.  Keeping it fun helps with that consistency and continues the love for it.

Even though it's not an official California State placement Joe is currently top 3 in Northern California.

For many athletes being ranked in the top 10 or top 5 of your sport is a huge achievement and goal, and Joe admits that improving his current rank would be nice, but more than anything else he wants to be the best paddler that he knows he can be.
 

Joe has been paddling with the San Francisco Outriggers Canoe Club for about 8 years, and even though you might think that the paddling community in the bay area is small it's actually bigger than most people realize.  There are about 30 canoe clubs that stretch from Monterey up to Lake Tahoe.

Paddling is a great sport for everyone!  Kids from ages 10 and adults in their 70s are paddling these days.  It's excellent cardio and it's also a low impact full body workout that's great for the soul and well-being.

Comment

Comment

Fernando's motivation

Fernando.jpg

This week we'd like to spotlight the incredible progress of gym member Fernando Rangel.  Fernando lives in Sacramento but is temporarily here in San Francisco with his wife Hazel and brand new son Mateo who was born with a rare Diaphragm disorder called CDH (Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia) that causes lung development and sometimes heart development problems during pregnancy. Over the past 6 weeks Mateo has been undergoing treatment at UCSF's Mission Bay campus and has been making great progress.  He is soon expected to be moved out the critical care unit to start making preparations to head back home to Sacramento with Mom and Dad. 

When the Rangel family arrived in SF over 6 weeks ago Fernando decided it was time to make some positive changes in his life and health.  Instead of just sitting around with nothing to do in waiting rooms while his son received his treatments Fernando checked out the gyms local to UCSF. And of course he settled on Fitness Urbano.  The facllity was clean and new, the location was easy to get to and the special introductory price for a gym membership was something he could justify with all the medical expenses his family facing.  

Fernando's motivation for change?   His son Mateo.

The recent pregnancy had been difficult on the entire family and even before that Fernando had been drifting away from regular workouts despite having a gym set up in his garage.

Fernando had reached the point  where he had added too much extra weight and wasn't feeling all that great about the condition of his health.  His dream is to be ready to run and kick the soccer ball around with Mateo.

So for the past 6 weeks Fernando has committed himself to at least 4 or 5 days a week coming to the gym.  His workout of choice has been running on the Woodway Curve treadmill.  Fernando likes the fact that the Curve is self propelled and he can change his pace at anytime between a walk jog or sprint without fumbling with buttons and settings like he was used to doing with the older motorized treadmills.  At first just a 15 minute walk was a challenge but Fernando took the right approach and slowly increased distance and pace with each workout.  Soon he was up to 2 miles a day with a time of around 48 to 50 minutes.  Nowadays he's doing 2 miles in 28 minutes and he's still progressing. 

Besides the improved endurance and cardiovascular condition Fernando has lost 15 lbs.  He has been consistent with his weight loss, losing about 2.5 lbs per week over the 6 weeks.  His results were not achieved through exercise alone.  Fernando dropped the Big Mac's from his diet and replaced them salmon, other types of fish, fresh whole vegetables and lots of water. 

When it's time to go home Fernando doesn't plan to fall back into old habits.  He's been making regular trips back Sacramento to check on Mateo's brothers and sisters and each time he's been getting the gym in his garage back in order so he can start incorporating strength training along with his continued cardio training.

Please join us in congratulating Fernando not only on his impressive results but also on his approach to systematically regaining his fitness and his health.  We wish the whole family the best of luck and look forward to the day when Mateo scores his first soccer goal.

Comment

Whole Fruits

Comment

Whole Fruits

I am once again referring back to my previous blog post for this week’s topic.   If you read it you’ll remember my warning against consuming sugar.  I exempted fruits from my warning despite the fact that they tend to be higher in sugar content. Now I’d like to explain why.

First - ‘fruit’ is a very broad category.  Most dictionaries define fruit along the lines of ‘the edible ripened ovaries of a seed bearing plant’.  Besides sounding somewhat unappetizing that broad definition would include things like corn, avocados, tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers and squashes, which most people normally think of as vegetables.  Nuts also can be included under that definition. 

Now let’s move past the dictionary definition.  I want to discuss what we commonly refer to as fruit. That is the sweet, fleshy produce frequently eaten with breakfast or as a dessert. Oranges, Apples, Berries, Melons, Grapes and so on... Logically the thing that makes them sweet is that they are higher in sugar than other produce items.  A medium sized apple (~182g) for example can have 19 grams of sugar(1).  Compare that to an equal weight of romaine lettuce which has just under 4 grams of sugar(2). That’s almost five times the sugar content!!!  But you really should not be concerned by that because fruits have a lot more to them than an elevated sugar content.

Fruits are packed with many other nutrients that balance the sugar.  Most fruits are naturally high in fiber and water content and individual fruits have unique profiles of minerals, vitamins, enzymes and phytochemicals.  When consumed whole, the sugars in fruits are absorbed at a natural and healthy rate into our bodies.  We start to get into trouble as we process ‘remove’ the accompanying nutrients. Even the simple process of juicing removes most of the fiber and many of the minerals from a fruit which can create a potential challenge in how your body metabolizes it. 

Make sure to add a wide variety of whole fruits to your overall diet to get a full complement of the minerals, vitamins, enzymes and phytochemicals that each provides. 

[NOTE: There are many conditions that can be affected by sugar intake (i.e. diabetes, candidiasis, hypoglycemia, gout, etc). Even the sugars contained in fruits can affect these conditions so if you been diagnosed with any such condition follow the dietary advice of your doctor.  Or if you suspect that you may be sensitive to sugar consult with one.]

I’ll discuss the advantage of organic vs conventionally raised produce in a future blog post so visit the FU Blog on a regular basis.

(1)     USDA (2012, November). Household USDA Foods Fact Sheet. Retrieved from http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/HHFS_APPLES_FRESH_Nov2012.pdf

(2)     USDA (2015, October 16). USDA SNAP-ED Connection. Retrieved from https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/nutrition-through-seasons/seasonal-produce/lettuce

Kevin holds a Nutrition Educator Certification from Bauman College

Comment

Halloween is coming. sugar is the trick not the treat!

Comment

Halloween is coming. sugar is the trick not the treat!

In last weeks blog post I recommended avoiding sugar while you are battling a cold due to its negative effects on your immune system.  This week I’m repeating that advice; even if you aren’t battling a cold.   You’re goal should be to avoid sugar altogether.  To be clear, I am not referring to natural foods like many fruits that are higher in naturally occurring sugars. I’m talking about the refined, highly processed sugars that are distilled from their natural sources and are then re-added to just about everything we consume in our modern processed diets.

Avoiding sugar is not easy and that is the very reason that it gets added to so many processed foods.  It is a dense and quick source of energy for us and our bodies have evolved special sensors in our taste buds to detect it. Our brains even give us a ‘feel good’ release of opiates as an additional reward whenever we consume it.   So you might be wondering why you should to avoid something that our bodies need and are actually set up to crave.  Simply speaking the processes used to refine sugar (as well as other refined sweeteners) removes beneficial nutrients that accompany it in its natural form. What’s left is an ultra concentrate that can behave more like a drug than a food and can cause numerous problems when ingested to excess.

Some of those problems can include(1):

Excessive weight gain and obesity, Diabetes, Crohn’s disease, Arthritis, Tooth decay, Periodontitis, Asthma, Mental illness, Nervous disorders, Low blood sugar, Imbalance in the body’s calcium-phosphorous relationship

 

Sugar and other processed sweeteners are found in a wide array of processed foods that can be sold at your local grocery store or favorite restaurant.  Besides all the usual suspects like sodas, candies, pastries and other ‘sweets’, refined sweeteners are added to a great many sauces, dressing, sports drinks, flavored yogurts, granolas, coffee drinks, ketchup, protein bars, peanut butter and more and more.

Get used to reading ingredient labels on the foods you buy.  Remember the earlier it’s listed in the ingredients list then the higher the concentration in the food you are eating.  Also pay attention to the cumulative effect of multiple refined sweeteners that are added to an item and listed in its list of ingredients. Some other names to look for in that ingredient list include(2):

Brown Rice Syrup (this was by far the most common added sugar I saw at the show – I even saw one booth with a huge graphic, extolling brown rice syrup’s virtues!), Fruit Juice Concentrate, Fruit Juice, Sugar, Invert Sugar, Cane Sugar, Cane Juice, Evaporated Cane Juice, Raw Cane Sugar, Brown Sugar, Beet Sugar, Palm Sugar, Date Sugar, Coconut Sugar, Barley Malt, Malt Syrup, Rice Bran Syrup, Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup Solids, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Dextrose, Maltodextrin, Glucose, Glucose Solids, Fructose, Sucrose, Maltose, Lactose, Galactose, Honey, Maple Syrup, Agave, Sorghum Syrup, Diastatic Malt, Molasses, Caramel, Treacle, Golden Syrup, Panocha, Muscovado Sugar, Turbinado Sugar, Demerara Sugar, Sucanat, Rapadura, Jaggery, Panela

OK so all that said I’ll relent a bit on my initial advice about making your goal to avoid ALL sugar.  One candy bar on Halloween is not going to bring about diabetes.  Moderation is ok but be aware that processed sweeteners are hidden in many foods and their cumulative effect over time can have a significant effect on your health.

To illustrate my point check out this recent post from Holland:    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/food/article-3263390/Man-gives-added-sugar-alcohol-one-month-loses-weight.html

(1)    Kirschmann, John D. (2007) Nutrition Almanac. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

(2)     Wilder, Andrew (2012, March 12). Sugar is sugar is sugar is sugar!. Retrieved from https://eatingrules.com/names-for-sugar/

Kevin holds a Nutrition Educator Certification from Bauman College

Comment

Kevin's Nutrition Tips

Comment

Kevin's Nutrition Tips

We are getting into the season for the common colds and the best course of action is prevention so make sure you are getting adequate sleep and washing your hands frequently with regular soap (antibacterial soaps are ineffective against colds though the mechanical action of washing your hands with it will help with prevention).  If, like me, you have managed to catch a cold then the best courses of action is to increase your fluid intake.  This will help keep your respiratory tract moist and help repel the virus. It will also help improve the action of your white blood cells fighting off the infection.  However, avoid drinks with high concentrations of sugar(this includes using too much honey) as sugars can reduce the activity of the white blood cells. Dilute sugary juices with plenty of water.  Try a tea made with a slice of ginger, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 of a lemon.  Stay healthy.

Kevin holds a Nutrition Educator Certification from Bauman College

Kevin holds a Nutrition Educator Certification from Bauman College

Comment