Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Vitamin Supplements Increase Risk of Prostate Cancer

Click here for a Reuters article on the subject.

Might be a bit of an overreaction.  Reading the article it doesn't appear as though a strong causal link between vitamin E pills and prostate cancer has been confirmed.

My take from this study is that, in combination with other studies showing little to no benefit from daily use of multivitamins that we should at least question whether or not there is any significant value to daily use vitamins an minerals in pill form, especially when compared to the benefits of eating healthy.

 There is good data showing that Canadians should consider taking a vitamin D pill from October through May.  A doctor may prescribe vitamin or mineral supplementation where needed, but overall, my favorite vitamin source is the produce section.

Eat Veggies, Change your Genes

Lot's of news stories covering new research showing that those who have a genetic predisposition to heart disease can reduce their risk of heart disease to equal that of those who don't have the gene.

A gene called 9p21 can make those who carry it more susceptible to heart disease.  Eating as little as two servings of fruit and veggies a day appears to be enough to reduce the ill-health effects of this gene to essentially nullify it's significance.

More research is needed to understand why this works, or why 9p21 can cause health problems, but the bottom line is, you guessed it; eat your fruit and veggies.

Do you have the gene?  An article in WebMD quotes the study author saying 50% of the population carries one copy of the gene, while 20% carry two copies.

Raw fruits and veggies seemed to work better.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Healthy Thanksgiving

Do you look forward to holiday dinners but at the same time have misgivings about the overeating aftermath?

One of the most common strategies to allow for overeating at holiday meals is skipping breakfast or lunch (or both) to allow for a major chow down later on.

Why do it though?  You know you're going to feel crappy about it afterwards.  It takes some doing, but the long term success strategy is to adapt to being satisfied with eating less, or to be more accurate, eating what we need.

at 2000-3000 calories for the average thanksgiving dinner, we're way over the mark.  One plate of piled on turkey, potatoes, gravy, etc is around 1200 -1500 calories, about double what we need for a meal.

Enjoy the meal and the company of friends and family, that's what it's all about.

Include physical activity before and after the T-Day meal.  A side effect of consuming a high fat high calorie meal is "endothelial dysfunction", your arteries stiffen up for about 4 hours or so.  This is thought to be, along with a spike in fats in your blood, part of the cause of the heart attack on plate, where a person has a heart attack shortly after a large meal.

The artery stiffening happens with everyone, even thin, fit, healthy people.  The post meal heart attack risk only occurs in persons in a high risk category, those with existing heart and or cardiovascular disease. 

Still, why eat so much that is causes arteries to stiffen?  Seems a little counter productive.

The best way to avoid this is not to eat the amount of food that causes this response, which is about 1000 calories of a high fat, high sodium meal.

If you do imbibe gargantuan proportions, exercise after the meal (like walking) has been shown to reduce the artery stiffening effect.

Including some kind of family physical activity with holiday meals is a great tradition that can help keep families healthy.  After all the healthier we are the better chance we have of being around to enjoy more family dinners.

I used to pack down two or three plates of food at holiday meals.  Can't do it anymore.  I got tired of the bloated feeling and the regrets of eating too much.  

I'm really looking forward to having thanksgiving dinner with the family; enjoying their company and catching up on things will be great, and so will the meal.  Not overdoing it allows us to enjoy the meal and company without the overeating aftermath so the entire experience is a good one.

Enjoy a healthy Thanksgiving meal, and we can be thankful for our health.

Some healthy eating tips for Thanksgiving dinner:

  • Be happy with one plate of food, or two small plates, the second with more veggies rather than a replay of the first.

  • Having all the food out in the centre of the table stimulates us to keep eating.  Keep the turkey and big bowl of potatoes on a table/ counter away from the place you eat.

  • Take the skin off the turkey you eat and limit the total amount of the poultry serving to about 1/4 of the plate or less.

  • Home made cranberry sauce can be about half the calories per cup than gravy, but sugar laden commercially prepared cranberry sauce can have 3-4 times the calories as gravy.  The remedy?  Use enough gravy and cranberry sauce to provide flavour, but avoid making lake out of it.

  • Make healthy veggie based dishes.  Google pumpkin recipes and other healthy veg dishes, make these the centre piece.  We need more veggies than we do meat or poultry so make a family tradition of a great tasting veggie plate to accompany the old stand by turkey.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Freshman 15

Some new university students turn to food to cope with the stress of the new environment, and some of these students develop eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating.

All universities will have student counselling services that can either refer for proper treatment or have the staff to address help students struggling with eating disorders. 

Not all overeating is considered disordered eating, but all chronic or periodic overeating leads to weight gain.  Sometimes referred to as the "freshman 15",  most students (up to 77%) will overeat in their freshman year and gain between 4 and 15 pounds of body fat, with a weight gain of near 4 pounds being more prevalent. 

Strategies to ovoid the freshman weight gains are the usual.. eat less, stay active, and be mindful of what and when you eat.

I found an interesting study that included blood pressure measurements of first year division one football players in the US.  23.5% had high blood pressure, 54% were prehypertensive, and only 22.4% were considered having normal blood pressure.  Although very muscular and strong, many football players are also clinically obese or overweight with serious health conditions like high blood pressure starting at a very young age.

In my personal observation, and I'm sure I'm not alone here, it's common practice for male athletes to boast about how much they can eat, often using how much one can eat as a display of manly superiority.  I get the socialization of overeating and machismo.. used to do it myself.  I grew tired of battling the annual fat gain, fat loss cycle though and stopped overeating.

I still get cajoled by my peers from time to time for eating healthy, but I'm closing in fast on age 50 and it's more obvious to me now that if I'm going to age well I've got to keep up with taking care of myself.

I didn't think this way when I was in my teens and early 20's, those were the years where nutrition and healthy living advice was overbearing pressure from tee totalling killjoys.  In retrospect though it was never enjoyable to realize I had put on 10-15 pounds of fat from pigging out and that I had to stop it from becoming 20+ pounds.

The trouble with developing overeating habits is that the longer you do it the harder it is to stop, and with population statistics still trending towards increasing obesity amongst the young and previously young, it would appear that the idea of socially celebrating nearly everything we do with overeating is winning out over the message to eat and live healthy.

Staying at a healthy weight has eliminated that stress I used to feel when I overrate my way to weight gain one or two or three chocolate fudge brownies at a time, throwing in a few 2000 - 3000 calorie big plate restaurant meals for good measure.  I have to admit, I feel far more rewarded now eating healthy. Instead of seeming all doom and gloom with the perceived message of needing to stop enjoying food to be healthy I want to pass this along..

It feels better to eat healthy.  No weight gain, better energy, food tastes great.  Never feels like you've got that dark cloud over you, "I'm going to regret I ate this later".

Performance and blood pressure character... [J Strength Cond Res. 2008] - PubMed - NCBI