Monday, October 10, 2016

Could Leafy Greens Help with your Sports Performance?

Researchers from the University of Leuven in Belgium experimented with the consumption of nitrate supplements to determine whether nitrate, commonly found in green leafy foods, could enhance sport performance. The experiment included 27 semi-trained participants who consumed nitrate supplements before Sprint Interval Training, which took place in various oxygen conditions. The researchers did find a potential link between nitrate supplementation and enhanced performances in low oxygen conditions, due to a change in muscle fiber composition. However, increased ingestion of nitrate cannot yet be recommended or condoned, as the effects of long-term nitrate intake are not yet clearly known.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Prevalence of Malnutrition

Malnutrition is a physical state of unbalanced nutrition. It can be recognized as both undernutrition and overnutrition.  Undernutrition can be caused by a lack of calories, protein or other nutrients. Overnutrition is caused from eating too many calories. It is possible to have an obese person that is malnourished. He/she may be consuming enough/too many calories, but not eating enough of the calories from nutritious foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy. Estimates of adult malnutrition range from 15% to 60% of hospitalized patients. Reasons for this include the patient needing more nutrition than usual or not being able to absorb the nutrients they eat, depending on what the patient is in at the hospital for.

According to a new study published in PLoS ONE, the U.S. spends among $15.5 billion per year in direct medical costs on malnutrition associated with eight diseases.  California has been found to be paying the highest price, with estimated costs at $1.7 billion. Wyoming spends the least, at $25 million.  It is extremely important that malnutrition be identified and diagnosed in a timely manner. It has been shown that malnutrition increases the risk of death, length of hospital stays and health care costs. Malnutrition can also result in an eating disorder, organ failure or physical trauma. With this being said, it is required for hospitals to screen a patient for malnutrition in the first 24 hours of admission. It is the role of a Registered Dietitian to assess malnutrition using weight history, dietary intake, lab values and a physical exam.   

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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Exercise: Shedding Fat with Hormones

            In 2012 the Harvard Medical School discovered a hormone known as irisin. What was interesting about this hormone is that it released from the muscle tissues during exercise, and can impact genes that convert white fat, which you don’t “burn” it off as well, into more metabolically active brown fat. Irisin production surges when the heart and other muscle tissues are exerted, so essentially any form of exercise can trigger the release of irisin. Additionally fat cell formation, or adipogenesis, is believed to be suppressed by irisin, so this hormone is being looked at for treatment and prevention of diabetes and obesity. You’ve heard that exercise is “good” for you, and that you burn calories and lose fat, but now you understand that irisin is swimming around your blood stream doing the real work for you.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Fidgeting For Your Health

Previous research has lead to the hypothesis that sitting for extended periods of time reduces blood flow to your legs, and therefore can contribute to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. New research coming out of the University of Missouri shows that there could potentially be an easy counterbalance to the ill effects of sitting… Fidgeting. Yes, the habit that many have ingrained in their daily life to help deal with stress or nerves, could help with blood flow to your legs. Researchers tested the hypothesis on healthy young men and women during a sitting time of three hours, while measuring blood flow in an artery of the lower leg. Those that fidgeted showed an increase in blood flow, which could decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease due to sitting. While it is still optimal to stand and walk to break up your sitting time, when you are without that opportunity, fidgeting can be an acceptable alternative.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Who's Calling The Shots?

If you’re ever lonely just remind yourself that you have 40 trillion tiny little friends in low places. The low places I’m speaking of are the intestines. The complex relationship shared between the body and the 40 trillion bacterial cells sheltered in the intestines is of great interest even to psychologists now who speculate that disorders such as autism, depression, memory and obsessive-compulsive disorder may be related the gut microbes. So, it poses the question: who’s really calling the shots, the microbes, or the mind? The brain and microbes cross paths at the brain-gut-enteric microbiota axis, or the microbiome-gut-brain axis. Here microbes are believed to interact with nerves to impact hormones, and the hormones, as you may know, can contribute to a chemical imbalance that result in depression and other hormone-related issues. More research is needed in this topic, but the understanding is that altering the levels of gut microorganisms may alter out mood, behaviors, and memory.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

"Negative Calories " Add Up in the End

Myths are common in the food and nutrition world, and can spread quickly, leading to a misinformed public. One topic of interest within the general public is weight loss, and a long-lasting myth is that of “negative-calories”. Negative calories is an idea that certain foods will help with weight loss, even when consumed in unlimited portions, due to the negligible number of calories (thought to be quickly burned by chewing, digesting and absorbing the nutritional content) while also boosting your metabolism after eating, ultimately causing weight loss. Yes, this for anyone sounds extremely enticing, an idea I for one would love to believe, but there is no evidence of support. Even though some foods, say lettuce or cucumbers, have a low number of calories, they still count towards your daily caloric intake. To challenge the myth, all you need to know are some basic facts about metabolism. Our bodies burn calories at rest, a function called our basal metabolic rate, or BMR, which fluctuates between each person and depends on factors such as height, weight or age. Next is the thermic effect of food, the energy exerted to chew, digest and store nutrients. Our bodies burn the least amount of calories during these two acts, therefore, despite a small rise in our metabolism after eating, even extremely low-calorie foods cannot be expected to cause weight loss. Research has yet to be done specifically on negative calories, but for now, facts of metabolism seem to debunk this myth.

You can find the full article here.