Ahad, 16 Februari 2014

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

Eating right

Posted: 15 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

A doctor offers some pointers to help us maintain a healthier diet.

WE all know that we have to eat right and exercise in order to achieve optimum health and stave off those insidious non-communicable diseases that are becoming increasingly common nowadays.

But really, who has the time for that?

Between job demands, familial commitments and having a little fun (after all, what's life without living?), it's much easier to skip the gym and grab that fast-food burger than it is to wake up extra early for that 30-minute exercise routine and preparing a healthy meal from scratch.

Herbalife World Wide Nutrition Training vice-president Dr Rocio Medina certainly agrees. When asked what she thought was the most challenging aspect of maintaining a balanced and healthy diet, the Mexican medical doctor said: "Actual lifestyle. People don't have time to prepare their meals. They don't have energy to exercise. They are very stressed to make good choices.

"Besides, people don't know what is better for their health, and they are not aware of this nutrition transition and how it is affecting their health."

She was referring to the ironic nutritional situation, particularly prevalent with junk food and fast-foods, where there is too much sugar and fat, and not enough vitamins and minerals.

"There are excesses, such as the excess of sugars – mainly, high fructose corn syrup, excess of saturated fats, and (an excess of) omega-6 fatty acids over omega-3 fatty acids, as well as the excess of sodium.

"But we still can't get rid of deficiencies such as iron, calcium, vitamins and minerals."

She adds that this becomes increasingly visible as we age, with the loss of muscle mass and the gaining of abdominal fat.

Dr Medina was in Kuala Lumpur recently to give a talk on the roles of balanced nutrition and healthy lifestyle in the prevention of obesity-related lifestyle diseases.

Herbalife World Wide Nutrition Training vice-president Dr Rocio Medina giving a talk on the role of balanced nutrition and healthy lifestyle in the prevention of obesity-related lifestyle diseases at Hotel Istana, Kuala Lumpur, on January 13, 2014..

Dr Rocio Medina … 'People don't have time to prepare their meals. They don't have energy to exercise. They are very stressed to make good choices.'

In an email interview after the talk, she shares that the field of nutrition has seen more research backing up the use of meal replacements and supplements as a means to help people lose weight.

She says: "There is scientific evidence of meal replacements and supplements being a perfect tool to help people maintain weight, and even losing weight, with a balanced intake of macronutrients, micronutrients, fibre and water.

"The science has shown that a higher amount of lean protein, less saturated fat, less simple sugars and less sodium, is a good way to get optimal body composition."

The former professor of nutrition and obesity at the Universidad de Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, also shares five important points that she believes people should remember while eating:

> All sugars, regardless of whether they are perceived to be healthy (eg honey and brown sugar) or not, will turn into fat if eaten in excess.

> The modern-day diet has resulted in the consumption of too much omega-6 fatty acids, resulting in an unhealthy proportion of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in our bodies. In order to counteract this, we need to consume more omega-3-rich foods, such as wild-caught fish, almonds, chia seeds, walnuts and supplements.

> The spicier the food you eat, the more hungry you will be. Food intake is regulated in the brain, and those foods will lead to food dependency.

> Skipping breakfast leads to feeling more hungry, and an increased propensity for consuming more fat, sweets and salty food. Muscle mass is also lost every time you do not have a complete meal.

> No nutrition programme is balanced without exercise. Exercise not only helps to maintain muscle mass and an active metabolism, but also promotes positive biochemical reactions within the body.

Surviving a year adrift at sea

Posted: 15 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

The co-author of Essentials Of Sea Survival says the story of fisherman Jose Salvador Alvarenga is physiologically feasible.

FOR all the scepticism cast at the idea that Jose Salvador Alvarenga survived for more than a year drifting on a small boat in the Pacific, such a feat is physiologically feasible, especially for a fisherman experienced in catching his own food, according to an expert on survival at sea.

"I have no idea whether he did this or not, but it's not impossible," said Mike Tipton, professor of physiology at Portsmouth University, United Kingdom, and co-author of the book Essentials of Sea Survival. "The fact that he had a maritime background, and knows how to be at sea and survive, has got to be an enormous behavioural advantage."

While the recommended survival rations for those on life rafts is a litre of water and 1,000 calories of food a day, previous survival stories show it is possible to exist on significantly less.

A study of those stranded on life rafts during the Second World War, cited in Tipton's book, found that even a daily water ration of slightly over 200ml greatly increased survival chances.

Alvarenga has not explained how he maintained his fluid intake, but Tipton said this could be done. "Absolutely, it's possible, if everything goes in your favour and you get periodic supplies of fresh water that you can store, or you're smart enough to use the condensation that appears on the inside of canopies and things like that. It can happen, but it's remarkable if it did."

Tipton's book lists a series of innovative, if grisly ways to obtain fluids, including sucking the moisture from the spinal columns of fish and drinking the blood of turtles, the latter being something Alvarenga says he did.

A 20kg turtle can provide about a litre of blood – a substance described as tasting like "the elixir of life" by a previous castaway, Dougal Robertson, a Scottish man who survived 38 days adrift with his young family after their schooner was sunk by whales in the Pacific.

Tipton said turtles were relatively easy to catch and could be a lifesaver. "There's also quite a good layer of fat on a turtle, just under the shell. That's quite useful. You want to try and preserve your proteins, they're the building blocks of life."

Turtle fat is particularly useful because protein – the main food group available for those adrift, whether through birds or fish – can prove counter-productive as it requires a good amount of fluids for the body to process.

Another unlikely luxury are fish eyes, which are a useful source of liquid and of another vital nutrient.

Maurice and Maralyn Bailey, a British couple who survived 117 days on a rubber life raft in the Pacific in 1973, did not initially understand why they sought them.

Tipton said: "They found they started to crave fish eyes, which is not something one would normally do. It wasn't until after the voyage they realised these are quite rich in vitamin C, which is something you get depleted in when you're adrift, and can, of course, cause scurvy."

Aside from the well-known advice to not drink seawater – the book notes that unlikely survival methods involving seawater enemas also did not prove useful – Tipton said those adrift should resist the temptation to drink anything at all on the first day, not least because much of this fluid would be lost in urine.

"Once you get past day one or day two, the body will switch into conservation mode. As long as you're not swimming about to catch fish or doing lots of exercise, then your metabolism will slow right down. You'll go to a resting metabolic rate, which will require 1,000 to 1,500 calories a day. We know from things like the hunger strikers in the 70s and 80s, just how long the body can survive with very little going into it."

Alvarenga's biggest advantage might simply have been his years of experience at sea.

Tipton said: "One of the things we've learned over the centuries is that people who are regular seafarers are behaviourally adapted to that environment. It's even down to little things. If you or I were stuck in that situation, we'd probably be seasick for the first week, and that would be sufficient to finish us in itself – not only because it's a fairly significant source of dehydration, through vomiting, but also because it destroys your morale." – Guardian News & Media

HIIT (High-intensity interval training) is a hit!

Posted: 15 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) can be done in a measured way that provides big exercise benefits without big injury risks.

NICOLE Lindemann, a business owner, wife and mum, speaks the truth: "Basically, I'm like everyone else in the world – we're not getting any younger or any better in shape."

So, resolutionaries, time to bust a move. But how, exactly?

The 38-year-old Lindemann didn't know that the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) named "high-intensity interval training" as the top global trend for 2014 when she signed up for just such an exercise class a few weeks ago.

That's HIIT, or just say "hit".

If the term brings anything to mind, it's probably the image of those cabals of impossibly fit-looking folks sweating it out on TV commercials. They're hawking such hard-core workouts as CrossFit and P90X, which are types of high-intensity training.

No doubt the popularity of these well-marketed programmes shot HIIT to the top of the ACSM's trend watch, accompanied with warnings from fitness experts that extreme regimens can be injury-inducing and "aren't for everybody".

There's actually nothing new about intense interval training, which goes back at least to the 1930s and Fartlek, the famed Swedish programme. And it can be done in a measured way that provides big exercise benefits without big injury risks, says Kri Chay, a certified trainer and owner of Urban HIIT FITT in Lee's Summit, Missouri, United States.

The latest science backs him up on this. The central idea couldn't be simpler: Go hard. Then go easier or rest. Repeat.

"It's the notion of alternating relatively intense exercise with periods of recovery," said Dr Martin Gibala, a kinesiology professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, who has studied the topic for 10 years. "And it can be properly scaled for different levels of fitness."

The benefits are impressive, Dr Gibala said, and they can be achieved in about half the time of continuous moderate-intensity exercise.

That's a big deal, because lack of time continues to be the No. 1 barrier people cite to getting regular exercise, he says.

Lindemann is a newbie in Chay's first-of-the-year, six-week session. She wasn't interested in becoming an ultra-exerciser. She's busy enough with her seven-year-old daughter and her business, Kidz First Therapy, which provides occupational therapy for children with special needs.

But she does want to be healthier, in better shape, and to look better in her clothes.

At the start of a recent class, Chay pointed to a dry-erase board with the session's 10 exercises, the set on the left for newbies and on the right for veterans.

Participants – 14 women and four men with a range of body shapes – were to hit each exercise for 40 seconds, with a 20-second break to move to the next station.

With music blasting, they were to cycle through the 10-exercise regimen three times. A buzzer marked the end of each 40-second interval and a bell sounded for the start of the next.

"Go hard, baby," Chay yelled.

There were dumbbells, kettlebells, hanging rings and other equipment at the stations, set up for various types of lifting and bodyweight, or calisthenic-style, exercises.

Chay circulated, helping with proper form, and sometimes offering modifications of some exercises. A woman with a bad ankle needed an alternative at one of the stations.

"I like to incorporate upper and lower body, push and pull," he said. "They choose their level, and I modify the programme if someone needs it, even on the fly, in the middle of class."

Jessie Stewart does one-armed kettlebell swings during high-intensity interval training at Kri Chay's Urban HITT FITT gym in Lee's Summit, Mo., on January 20, 2014. The American College of Sports Medicine named high-intensity interval training as the top global trend for 2014. (Susan Pfannmuller/Kansas City Star/MCT)

Jessie Stewart does one-armed kettlebell swings at another station during HIIT. – MCT

Lindemann likes the variety, and she thinks there's a psychic advantage to the intervals.

"It makes me push harder because I know the duration isn't that long," she said.

In fact, that "short-term goal" of the intense interval has been shown to be a plus for exercisers, not to mention that the on-off method, even repeated, helps to fight boredom, said Dr Micah Zuhl, a clinical assistant professor at Central Michigan University's School of Health Sciences, US.

Interval training is being used in rehabilitation clinics, he said, even with cardiac patients, which was unheard of just a few years ago.

Dr Zuhl said intervals can be adapted to many types of full-body workouts, with or without equipment, and is used in swimming, biking and running, including on cardio machines.

"What's really hot right now is sprint training," he said, interspersing sprints, rests and jogs of various lengths.

There are no set guidelines on interval length, Dr Zuhl said, although research is showing the best benefits when the high-intensity portion is set at 30 seconds to two minutes. In studies, the "go easier" or rest period is often twice as long. So, for example, 30 seconds of high-intensity effort would be followed by one minute of recovery.

How intense should the high-intensity be?

"There's no free lunch," Dr Gibala said. "If the time-efficiency aspect is attractive to you, then you're going to have to go hard with these intervals."

One approach, especially when starting out, he said, is to "get out of your comfort zone" for the go-hard interval. If you're running outdoors, for instance, resolve to pick up the pace from one streetlight pole to the next, then back off.

As always, talk to your doctor before trying a new exercise programme. A certified personal trainer can help you determine proper intensity, Dr Gibala said.

Heart-rate targets are a more exact way to determine exertion, but those are also variable from person to person, he said.

First, figure the average maximum heart rate for someone your age – subtract your age from 220. Then shoot for a heart rate about 85% of that number during the high-intense intervals.

If you're 40, the average maximum is 180, so the target would be 153 beats per minute.

Dr Gibala said many of his studies have used exercise bikes with a protocol of one minute of intense effort, followed by one minute of recovery, repeated 10 times per session. Participants performed three of these 20-minute sessions over a week.

"We've shown benefits for people with type 2 diabetes in just two weeks," said he, noting that this was a total commitment of one hour a week. "Their blood-sugar levels are markedly reduced."

Dr Mike Bracko, an exercise physiologist and ACSM programme planner, said it isn't well-understood why HIIT produces such time-efficient results.

Of course, the exerciser is working harder during the intense bursts than in any similar periods of continuous exercise.

But the physiological benefits might also be a result of both ramping up and down the intensity, he said, and from the "after-burn". It's known that people burn calories longer after interval training than after continuous or endurance training.

Some advocates are so sold on interval training they recommend jettisoning continuous styles of exercise. But Dr Gibala and others say that's unnecessary.

They suggest limiting HIIT sessions to two or three a week, alternating on other days with continuous or steady-state exercising, including strength training and cardio.

At the end of his HIIT class recently, during post-workout stretching, Chay talked to members, not about the workout or its intensity, but about ... food.

Chay requires class members to record what they eat and drink in food journals, which he monitors. They must bring their journals to class, or else.

"Last night somebody forgot their food journal, and we all had to run outside," Lindemann said.

The workouts won't matter, Chay told participants, if eating and drinking aren't under control.

"You can't out-train a bad diet."

Go hard, go easy

With high-intensity interval training, the workout possibilities are nearly endless. Here are three samples of how to incorporate HIIT into an exercise session. The times and distances are only suggestions and can be varied for an individual's conditioning level.

The first two are from Kelly Garroutte, an Overland Park personal trainer with a master's in exercise physiology. These simple workouts use full-body exercises – burpees and mountain climbers – that spike the heart rate.

Less-intense exercises, focused on different muscle groups, are used for the recovery periods.

For equipment, the first requires a cable rowing machine, the second a set of dumbbells. (A quick online search will explain how to perform burpees, mountain climbers, dumbbell curls and dumbbell lateral lifts.)

The third sample is from Dr Zuhl. It is a running workout with sprints and a jog.

Sample 1

1. Burpees: 30 seconds

2. Seated cable rows: 60 seconds

Repeat three times.

Sample 2

1. Dumbbell curl: 30 seconds

2. Dumbbell lateral lift: 30 seconds

3. Mountain climbers: 30 seconds

Repeat three times.

Sample 3

1. Sprint: 30m

2. Rest: One to three minutes

Repeat eight to 12 times.

3. Light jog: 5km to 10km. – The Kansas City Star/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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