Sceptically Fit

16/09/2012

TMI – Typical…

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 14:24

Oh the joys of running.  The half-marathon that gave me a lovely under-the-nail blood blister was in May. The blood blister is long gone, but it lifted my nail off the bed enough that today when I clipped my big toenail – suddenly most of it is no longer attached to my toe. So now I have half a nail – vertically. And not only is painting my nails out and it looks awful, I’m now afraid it going to catch and tear off the part that is still attached.  Maybe I shouldn’t have clipped anything but too late now. Do I wear a bandaid over it?

 

05/09/2012

Lots of Links

Filed under: Exercise, Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 20:52

Lucky men – chocolate reduces the risk of stroke.

Men who ate the most chocolate, a weekly average of 63 grams, had a 17% lower risk of stroke compared with men who ate none. The correlation did not seem to differ depending on different types of stroke.
Meanwhile – creatine supplementation for women increases the effectiveness of antidepressents
the creatine supplementers responded earlier and better than the antidepressant alone group using a couple different scales (HAM-D and MADRS).  The creatine group had higher response and remittance rate and no higher incidence of side effects.
A look at the Gluten Sensitivity – What is it? Is it more common? Why do so many people (including me) feel better giving up wheat when they aren’t celiac?
Testing for gluten sensitivity is tough because there’s no real standard yet. You’ll notice that the recent study didn’t determine gluten sensitivity solely by running patients’ labs and looking for a certain figure; they had to painstakingly and laboriously eliminate confounding variables (like celiac) through extensive lab testing, and then run a double blind wheat challenge to see if symptoms still arose. That grand, single overarching lab test doesn’t exist, not yet anyway.

It’s conceivable that gluten could be doing damage and causing constant, low-grade inflammation without you even knowing it. This is why folks who go Primal and give up wheat and other gluten-containing grains become more “sensitive” to wheat upon reintroduction. It’s not that going Primal has suddenly made them intolerant of gluten; it’s likelier that going Primal has made them more sensitiveto their gluten sensitivity. It was probably always there, but they never knew what they were feeling until they removed it and then tried to reintroduce it.
Dr Cordain outlines the risk of legumes – damn, why must they be so tasty? Here’s hoping I can continue to enjoy them as a sometime food
Most people will probably experience few adverse health effects if these foods are occasionally consumed.  Nevertheless, some people may have immediate gastric and GI tract distress after eating legumes; others may experience transient joint pain and sinus congestion.  All legumes contain a cocktail of anti-nutrients (in addition to lectins) which potentially produce adverse health/nutritional effects.  The most common of these are saponins and phytate.  Pseudograins also are also loaded with a variety of antinutrients whose effects are dose dependent — meaning that the more you ingest, the worse are the health effects.
There is no evidence that yo-yo dieting has any lasting effect on your metabolism.
Although severe weight cyclers were, on average, nearly 20 pounds heavier than non-cyclers at the start of the study, at the end of the study the researchers found no significant differences between those who yo-yo dieted and those who didn’t with regard to the ability to successfully participate in diet and/or exercise programs. The cyclers also did not differ from the non-cyclers with regard to the impact of diet or diet-plus-exercise on weight loss, percentage of body fat and lean muscle mass gained or lost. Other physiological factors such as blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, and blood concentrations of hormones such as leptin (which helps make one feel full) and adiponectin (which helps regulate glucose levels) also did not differ significantly among those whose weight fluctuated and those whose did not.

18/08/2012

Links this Week

Filed under: Exercise, Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 12:42

An in-depth look at Non-Celiac Wheat Sensitivity at Hunter-Gatherer including the envy-inducing standard of care IBS sufferers received in Italy and the quality of controls.

Among those who were wheat sensitive, a high number of them tested positive on the cytomteric basophil activation test, and many also tested positive for serum IgG and IgA AGA tests. Many of these patients suffered from anemia and weight-loss. Biopsies showed eosinophil infiltration of the duodenal and colon mucosa.
, despite not having the type of villous atrophy damage associated with celiac.

There seemed to be two groups of IBS wheat-sensitive patients- those with wheat sensitivity alone and those with wheat sensitivity AND multiple other sensitivities to cow’s milk and other foods. The later group was also more likely to also have other types of allergies (non-food allergies, skin allergies, etc.) and a family history of allergies.

Acetylcholine is responsible for ahem, moving things along, so it might explain why wheat causes diarrhea in some people.

Also, it is notable that this study used wheat rather than gluten, so it might be other components of wheat like fructans that are responsible for the symptoms.

Dr Davis (of Wheat Belly) dismisses the benefit of sprouting grains.

It is folly to believe that such a process as simply allowing the seed to germinate somehow disables all the bad potential of modern wheat. It still contains the gliadin protein that clouds your thinking and stimulates appetite. It still contains glutens that disrupt intestinal health. It still contains amylopectin A that sends your blood sugar through the roof. It still contains lectins that disable the normal intestinal barriers to foreign substances. It still contains apha amylase, peroxidases, lipid-transfer proteins, and thioredoxins responsible for a variety of allergic phenomena.

An infographic on differences in sprinter’s vs marathoner’s bodies over time.

Proof that the plank is better than crunches.

There are two disadvantages to old-fashioned sit-ups and crunches. In the long term they are likely to lead to back problems because of the pressure they create on the discs between the vertebrae, and, more to the point, they are not very effective. The muscles in your midsection area are not so much meant for moving your torso, but above all to keep your torso stable when your spine is subject to tension.

Dr Loren Cordain in a discussion on the range of a paleo diet.

14/08/2012

Comfort Food – Doing it Right

Filed under: Personal, Recipes — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 20:20

Taking time to relax on my approach to food does feel like its working for me. I think my diet is settling into a more natural pattern – being aware of when I’m hungry as opposed to needy. Trying to keep wheat out of my diet as much as possible – my food journalling has made pretty clear that wheat has an unpleasant effect on how I feel physically and has suggested quite strongly a negative effect on how I feel emotionally. It seems there might be something to the intuitive eating theory that becoming aware of how something affects you will change your interest in eating it. I’m not trying to deny myself although I do need to ‘fight’ the urge for some wheat products. And fail at time although I the donut I ate at work was so unsatisfying I don’t think I’ll be tempted again for a while. I’m not trying to ‘diet’ or lose weight, but I am trying to feel good. So that means working towards a healthier diet, one that meets my emotional and physical needs.

A long day at work, and still nursing a badly sprained ankle, I was hungry and in need of something particularly comforting today. Part of me wanted to stop off at the shops and grab something – a big bag of crisps or something else equally snacky, a nice easy fix to the desire. But it wouldn’t really. Somehow, for the first time in a while, I was able to recognise that. Instead, I made myself sweet potato fries. And they were tasty:

Image

Sweet Potato Fries:

  • pre-heat oven to 200C
  • cut up a large sweet potato into sticks
  • melt a tablespoon of coconut oil
    on a tray
  • mix a generous amount of paprika, a little sprinkling of cayenne pepper to taste, and a little ground black pepper into the oil
  • roll the sweet potato in the oil and bake for approx 20min turning once.
  • sit down with a good book and enjoy

12/08/2012

Keep Free-Range Free-Range!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 21:17

Some producers in Australia are trying to change the legal definition of free-range so they can industrially farm chickens for eggs while still benefiting from the label free-range.
If you are in Australia – please sign the petition to keep eggs cruelty free

 

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Lots of Links

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 21:12

Evidence for non-celiac wheat sensitivity

Our data confirm the existence of non-celiac WS as a distinct clinical condition. We also suggest the existence of two distinct populations of subjects with WS: one with characteristics more similar to CD and the other with characteristics pointing to food allergy

Unfortunately not all the olympic coverage has been positive: female olympian fight back against body shaming.

More evidence emerges that meat eating is what allowed modern humans to evolve but of course the article includes unsupported advice not to eat mean…

More reasons to exercise – it causes the body to produce chemicals that prevent cancer.

Interesting developments in the theory of carb-loading. Seems three days of high carb, with high fat on the day offers the best fuelling for endurance exercise.

Another example of how unintuitive the human psyche is – it seems focussing on goals can actually detract from motivation. The key is to focus on enjoying the task at hand.

Fishbach and Choi think that staying focused on our goals detracts from the inherent pleasures of the activities we need to pursue to achieve those goals. Consistent with this, they found that the students at the gym who stayed focused on their goals tended to say afterwards that the exercise felt more of an effort, as compared with the students who were focused on the experience itself.

 

11/08/2012

Should you listen to your body?

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 21:19

Its idea I struggle with as I don’t really believe that I can trust my body.  And maybe its because I had labradors as the family pet, but I don’t really buy the argument that animals naturally know how much to eat either. That said, I’m intrigued and hopeful for the ideas of the paleo diet and intuitive eating. The question is, how to get there?
If I was a more egotistocal sort, I’d be thinking the universe is answering my questions. But for whatever reason, the blogging world has been helpfully dealing with these very questions.

25/07/2012

Jenn Gibbons – Awesome

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Sceptically Me @ 23:30

Read all about it over on Fit and Feminist

I am filled with admiration for Gibbons, not only for the fact that she was even trying to do this in the first place, but for the conviction and strength with which she has handled the aftermath of her assault.  No one could blame her if she decided that she didn’t want to keep on with her journey, and yet she is.  And not only that, but she is choosing to be open about what happened to her, and she is doing so in a culture that still attaches such stigma to victims of sexual assault that most victims never even try to seek redress in the criminal justice system.

 

 

Food is so much more than Nutrition

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , , — Sceptically Me @ 23:20

Food is fuel, but food is so much more. Food is pleasure and comfort, punishment, resignation and despair. Food is sensual and a subsitute. Food is a treat, a gift to oneself and one’s loved ones. Food is a symbol of morality, self-control, indulgence and lack of discipline. Food wears the coat of many many colours.

Are women more likely to take refuge in food as both a pleasure and a punishment? It does seem that way. Is that the manifestation of the specific cultural pressures women face, hormones or a combination of both? Does one play off the other – cultural pressures influence towards dietary restrictions and indulgences that have their own effect on the body’s hormones which then have their own effect again on appetite, weight and mood?

Sometimes it seems that there’s truth in the saying: when the student is ready the teacher will appear.  Paleo for Women’s Stefani Ruper had a very timely post on binging that really resonated with the place that I’ve been for a couple of months now.

The psychological deprivation may be worse. It puts us in a state of hyper-awareness about food.   The decision to restrict induces a constant struggle to eat less and exercise more, and it makes it nearly crucial for a woman to constantly check herself against her desires, lest her stock-piled hunger pick her up and shove her head-first into the overeating rabbit hole.  The more a person thinks about food, the more he doesn’t want to think about food, but the more he ends up emphasizing it in his brain and thinking about it anyway.   Then the more he messes up, and the more guilt he has, and the more negative he feels, the more strongly he needs to eat.    So deprivation is one huge psychological factor.  And so is the need to medicate against negative self-talk.  Food is a powerful, powerful drug.   And this whole process, a vicious, vicious cycle.

I have been very distrustful towards the idea of intuitive eating. Several of the  blogs I read encourage it as a healthy (mind and body) approach to diet. However, I have had a lot of trouble with the idea that we should trust our bodies. Why? Have you looked around, our bodies have no idea what they are doing?  I would be ashamed to let some of my nearest and dearest see how much I can eat in one go. My mind might know its a problem but my body doesn’t. I know that if I eat a certain way – lots of refined carbs – I just get hungrier and hungrier. I always have a dessert stomach! So how can I trust my body?

But maybe my body needs to trust my mind. Pushing your emotional concerns down doesn’t get rid of them. And, maybe there’s a certain pre-deposed aspect to it, eventually there’s an escape. Willpower is a finite resource. In some ways it acts like a muscle – you can develop it – but it also fatigues. If you are using up your willpower on the unaddressed or unadressable emotional issues, you have none left to control your diet. All the comfort that food can offer can no longer be refused. Consuming enough food to cause real physical discomfort can be a manifestation of the emotional turmoil you aren’t ready to deal with. The exhaustion of a busy and stressful situation that doesn’t seem to end can be overcome through high energy foods that offer brief dopamine boosts to help you rise above it temporarily.

Stefani’s comments on the role of food hyper-awareness on over-eating resonated me. I decided that I would no longer track my food. I wouldn’t monitor how many calories or carbs I was eating. I wouldn’t pay attention to how paleo my food is. Instead I would attempt to journal, paying attention to how I felt about my food intake, but really just about how I feel.

Charlotte (thegreatfitnessexperiment.com) has also recently posted on using a food journal to examine the interaction between food and emotions.

In the past when someone has asked me if I am an “emotional eater” my response has always been “Duh, yes! Isn’t everyone?!” I know there are some people out there who see food purely as fuel and nothing more but for the majority of us, food is intimately connected with our emotions. This isn’t a bad thing (survival 101?) but understanding the interaction would be very helpful. So that’s why I’m doing this. And, one of the great things about keeping a mindful journal is that I still get to write other stuff not just about food.

Its far from a success yet. But I’m working on eating what I want – but trying to pay attention to what I actually want – not just eating junk because its comfort food. That’s an important distinction for me. I realise I’ve come to associate certain types of unhealthy food as the tasty food. Even when they often aren’t as tasty as I imagine. I’m working on exercising enough to make me feel good – no half-marathons for a while, and some good solid strength training because I like the way it feels to do, and the way it makes me feel having done it.  Getting enough sleep – definitely still a work in progress. And I’ve managed to resume enough enthusiasm to post again.

Lots of Links

Filed under: Exercise, Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 22:32

Can running help with skin conditions? And more evidence of the less is more approach to running.

The mainstream media is picking up on the increasing evidence that its the increase of sugar in our diet that has caused the obesity crisis. Its been posted everywhere, so I won’t comment much – low-carb diet came out best for longterm weight loss. But before you get too concerned, being skinny is more of a health risk than being moderately overweight.

Keep exercising! The evidence is mounting up that regular intensive exercise can keep your body performing like a much younger person (maybe not the fittest younger person, but still!). And if you’re afraid of the chronic cardio argument (or using it as an excuse) Jason Fitzgerald takes on the arguments against running. If you can – run outside. Running outside offers mental health benefits that running in a gym doesn’t. Don’t forget to strengthen as well as stretch to prevent ITB.

A comprehensive look at the dangers of phytoestrogens and why you should limit your soy intake.

Eating lowfat salad dressing decreases your ability to absorb nutrients from your salad.

It seems getting people to reduce their meat consumptions isn’t the ecological saviour to the planet that some people have (ardently) proposed. On the subject of unverified claims – it seems the danger of drinking while pregnant has been overstated. Fetal alcohol syndrome is real, but there’s no evidence that light or moderate drinking is implicated.

And the biggest news for all those interested in scientifically verified health news – British scientific research is to be made publically available within five years!

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