Archive for May, 2011


Use lentil or sunflower sprouts, which have a peppery flavor, in this well-textured salad. These sprouts are available in many farmers’ markets but very easy to make yourself (see below). I prefer black or red quinoa in this dish because I like the texture, but regular quinoa works as well.

3/4 cup cooked quinoa, preferably the red or black variety

1 cup sprouted lentils or sunflower seeds

3 ounces wild arugula or baby arugula (4 cups tightly packed)

1/4 red bell pepper, sliced thin

1/4 cup broken walnuts (3/4 ounce)

1/4 cup crumbled feta (1 ounce) (optional)

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, like dill, tarragon, chives and parsley

For the dressing:

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 small garlic clove, puréed with a pinch of salt

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or use half olive oil and half grapeseed oil

1. Combine all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl.

2. Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper, mustard and garlic. Whisk in the oil. Toss with the salad, and serve.

To make sprouts: Place 2 to 3 tablespoons lentils or sunflower seeds in a wide-mouthed jar and cover with water. Soak overnight. Place a piece of cheesecloth over the top of the jar, and secure with a rubber band. Drain the lentils and shake them so that they are not in a big pile, but some are adhering to the sides of the jar. Place the jar in a dark place, like underneath the kitchen sink. Water and drain twice a day for two to three days until the lentils have sprouts about 1/2 to 3/4 inch long. Leave in a sunny place for an hour or two, then refrigerate.

Yield: Serves four to six.

Advance preparation: Cooked quinoa will keep for four days in the refrigerator. The dressing can be made several hours ahead of serving.

Nutritional information per serving (four servings): 307 calories; 4 grams saturated fat; 5 grams polyunsaturated fat; 16 grams monounsaturated fat; 6 milligrams cholesterol; 14 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 102 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 6 grams protein

Nutritional information per serving (six servings): 205 calories; 3 grams saturated fat; 3 grams polyunsaturated fat; 10 grams monounsaturated fat; 4 milligrams cholesterol; 10 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 68 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 4 grams protein

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When you work out and the pounds still don’t come off, it can be incredibly frustrating. But what you may not know is that certain habits and physical changes can undermine even the most scientifically proven weight loss strategies, especially after you reach age 40. When Australian and UK researchers reviewed nearly 100 studies on exercise and weight loss, they discovered why those extra pounds won’t budge despite your best efforts. These four targeted fat-fighting tips are the key to turning the tide–so your body will finally shed the weight.

1. Make some extra muscle

Simple Strategies

Lift weights three times a week It’s the fastest way to build muscle and get results when the scale is stuck. “Research shows that regular strength-training can increase your resting metabolic rate by up to 8%,” says Wayne Westcott, PhD, fitness researcher in Quincy, MA, and author of Get Stronger, Feel Younger. In one 8-week study, women and men who did only cardio exercise lost 4 pounds but gained no muscle, while those who did half the amount of cardio and an equal amount of strength-training shed 10 pounds of fat and added 2 pounds of muscle.

Rest less If you already strength-train, shorten the time you linger between sets. “Taking a brief, 20-second break after each set burns extra calories and accelerates metabolism more than waiting the standard 60 to 90 seconds, studies show,” says Westcott.

Do double-duty moves Trade exercises that isolate a single muscle, such as biceps curls, for multijoint, multimuscle moves like chest presses and squats. “The more muscles you engage at once, the more calories you’ll burn,” he says.

Break up your meals If you’re losing weight (and therefore muscle) by cutting calories, eating five small meals instead of three large ones helps keep metabolism high. Spreading calories throughout the day “keeps blood sugar levels even and controls the release of insulin that can cause your body to store more calories as fat,” says Leslie Bonci, RD, MPH, director of sports medicine nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “And every time you eat, your metabolism speeds up to digest the food.”

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2. Outsmart a plateau

It’s a common scenario: The first 10 or 20 pounds come off easily, but then the scale won’t budge. Plateaus can happen in as little as 3 weeks, find Drexel University researchers. As you drop weight, your body doesn’t have to work as hard simply because there’s less of you to move around, says Michele Kettles, MD, medical director of the Cooper Clinic in Dallas. That means your workouts produce a smaller calorie burn For example, if you weigh 180 pounds and lose 35, you’ll melt about 100 fewer calories in an hour-long cardio class–which can slow down further weight loss. And as you get older, injuries or arthritis can make it difficult to do vigorous, high-impact activities that help compensate for this calorie deficit.

Simple Strategies

Get your heart rate up Watching TV or reading while you exercise can lower your workout intensity–and your calorie burn. Instead, pay attention to your pulse, suggests Kettles. For best results, stay between 60 and 80% of your maximum heart rate. To estimate your MHR, subtract your age from 220. Then multiply your MHR by 0.6 for the lower end of your target heart rate zone and by 0.8 for the upper end. For example, if you’re 40, aim for 108 to 144 beats per minute. (For easier tracking, invest in a heart rate monitor.)

Diversify The more comfortable you become with a routine, exercise class, or fitness DVD, the less effective it gets. To continue to lose weight, you need to challenge your body in new ways. “Even replacing one exercise can create enough of a surprise to keep results coming,” says Kettles. Try this: The first week of every month, do a new upper-body exercise; the second week, a new lower-body one; the third, a new abs move; and the fourth, a different type of cardio (cycling instead of walking, for example).

3. Be a stealth calorie burner

It may happen subconsciously, but studies show that some people move less after they begin an exercise regimen. When women and men, average age 59, started to work out twice a week, their everyday activity decreased by 22%, according to research from the Netherlands. The reason for the slowdown, experts speculate, may be postworkout fatigue or the perception that if you exercise, you can afford to skimp on the small stuff. Wrong! Little activities such as standing instead of sitting, fidgeting, and walking more throughout the day can add up to an extra 350 calories burned per day, according to Mayo Clinic studies. Other research shows that a decrease in these everyday actions may shut down an enzyme that controls fat metabolism, making weight loss tougher. And even daily half-hour to hour-long workouts aren’t enough to turn it back on.

Simple Strategies

Track nonexercise activity Record your daily step counts with a pedometer on a couple of days when you don’t work out. Then calculate your average (add up your daily totals and divide by the number of days tracked). If you don’t maintain at least this level of activity every day, your fat-burning ability will decline. For instance, if you normally log 5,000 steps a day but skip half of them on days you work out, it could slow weight loss by up to 50%–even though you’re exercising.

Post reminders One study showed that signs encouraging people to take the stairs increased usage by 200%. To motivate yourself, stick notes on your bathroom mirror, microwave, TV remote, steering wheel, and computer that simply say: Move more!

Set up weekly physical outings You’ll be less likely to blow it off if you make a commitment to someone else. Plan a hike or bike ride with your family, help clean out a friend’s garage, or volunteer to walk your neighbor’s dog.

4. Halt hunger hormones

When 35 overweight women and men started exercising, researchers found that some of them compensated for their workouts by eating as much as 270 extra calories a day–negating more than half of the calories they burned, according to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity. “Some research shows that exercising regularly can trigger the release of ghrelin, an appetite-stimulating hormone meant to protect the body from losing weight too quickly,” says Bonci. To make matters worse, appetite also appears to increase as you approach menopause because of declining estrogen levels, according to animal studies.

Simple Strategies

Snack before you sweat “Exercising on an empty stomach lowers blood sugar, which can increase your appetite and set you up to overeat afterward,” says Bonci. To ward off postexercise hunger, have a light (about 100 calories), carbohydrate-rich snack, such as 4 ounces of yogurt or a banana, 20 to 30 minutes before you work out.

Write before you eat Keeping a food diary is a proven weight loss tool, but don’t wait until after your meal. “When my clients record what they’re going to eat, it puts their dietary habits on pause long enough to decide if their food choices are really worth it,” says Bonci. Time your meals If possible, schedule your workouts before a meal. In studies where meals were served 15 to 30 minutes after exercise, participants ate less than those who had to wait an hour or more to eat.

Sip often People who drink water regularly eat nearly 200 fewer calories daily than those who only consume tea, coffee, or soda, reports a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study. Bonus: Make it ice-cold water. German researchers found that drinking 6 cups of cold water a day raised metabolism by about 50 calories daily–possibly because of the work it takes to warm the fluid up to body temperature. And every little bit helps!

Good luck healthy girl!

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A FRUIT-and-vegetable-based cleansing product Marie Lebair O’Brient uses about every three months makes her feel like she’s getting her eating habits back on track.

After following the vegan, gluten-free Kaeng Raeng cleanse program for three days, her taste for salty foods diminishes. She feels more “regular” and is motivated to eat more healthfully. The regimen replaces all meals with a shake and all snacks with raw fruits and vegetables. It’s worth the $60 investment each time, she says, to detox and lose a little bit of weight.

“It’s a regimen of a few days where I am eating things that are really good for me,” the Moraga resident says. “I am amazed at how good I feel afterward.”

In the past couple of years, cleanse programs — everything from the do-it-yourself lemon juice and maple syrup Master Cleanse to designer cleanses such as Kaeng Raeng developed by a Stanford grad — have become the rage for people who want to lose weight, eliminate toxins from their bodies and gain some oft-needed eating discipline. Hollywood elites such as Beyoncé Knowles and Ryan Seacrest say they’ve lost weight using them, and Gwyneth Paltrow says a 21-day regimen she regularly follows helps give her “mental clarity.”

Depending on the program — and there are hundreds if not thousands on the market — anecdotal reviews are generally shining. But health professionals warn that people are wasting their money on cleanses and, at worst, they are risking their health.

Unlike some cleanses that promise dramatic weight loss in mere days with the help of starvation fasts or added stimulants, there’s nothing sneaky or nefarious about Lindsay Reinsmith’s Kaeng Raeng cleanse or the CAN CAN Cleanse developed by San Francisco’s Teresa Piro.

Reinsmith’s Kaeng Raeng follows the principles of a raw vegan diet. A cleanser uses her powders — which contain more than a full serving of fruit and fiber, lean protein, probiotic cultures, amino acids and vitamins — in shakes, and supplements those shakes with raw fruits and vegetables for three to six days. And that’s it. No coffee, no alcohol, no cupcakes or french fries. A healthy dose of water is also prescribed.

“What Kaeng Raeng does is help people get on the right track for long-term health,” Reinsmith says. “It gives people the chance to experience plant-based living. When you’re going on a detox, when you’re abstaining from meat, you get a glimpse of how your body feels in that lifestyle.”

Reinsmith says most people turn to Kaeng Raeng when they’ve “jumped off the wagon,” meaning they’ve found themselves consuming too much fast food, too much salt or sugar and not enough fruits and vegetables.

Piro says her $175 CAN CAN Cleanse — a three-day liquid cleanse program that includes organic fresh fruit and vegetable juices, soups and teas — is a tool to reset the mind and body.

Prompting change

“People tend to make some realistic and healthy changes to improve their diets after the cleanse,” she says.

And although Piro says the cleanse is not a weight-loss solution, “this is a great way to jump-start (a weight loss program).”

People report their cleanses have made them feel lighter. Users notice changes in their hair and skin. Sugar and salt cravings subside, and energy levels increase.

Providers of cleansing products, including Kaeng Raeng and CAN CAN Cleanse, say the process eliminates toxins from the body. And some cleansing proponents can be pretty convincing.

“We’re starting to understand the impact that toxins are having on our bodies and their contribution to almost every type of illness that we’re seeing, especially obesity and diabetes and cancers and neurological diseases,” says Cory Reddish, a Mill Valley-based licensed naturopathic physician who offers a two-week personalized cleanse for $395. “When I say toxins, we’re talking not only about chemicals, pesticides and PCBs but also things we are eating.”

Toxins abound

Add the chemicals found in the air and water with chemicals used in home cleaning products, for example, and additives and preservatives in our food, Reddish says, and you’ll find your body is full of toxins. Cleanses, she says, help remove some of those toxins. The people who participate in her Essential Cleanse, which includes classes, herbal supplements and a detox diet, lose weight and feel much better, she says.

“People start thinking more clearly, their energy is better, their mood is better after a cleanse,” she says. “It’s a result of decreasing the total toxic load in the body.”

But is it necessary?

Thomas Hargrave, a doctor with Alta Bates Summit Medical Center who specializes in the gastrointestinal tract, is clear about claims of toxin elimination by cleanse proponents.

“It’s ridiculous voodoo. All the people who are pushing this stuff have no medical training, and they are basing their claims in these phony ads where they show toxic stuff building up in colons,” he says. “There are no toxins in colons. There is no health benefit and no cleansing benefit.”

Although she says that eating a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables is great for you, Keri Gans, registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, agrees that cleanses cannot deliver on all the promises their proprietors make.

“Anything will feel better after a couple days of not eating pure junk,” she says. “And I claim that people who feel better do so because of what they’re not eating, and they are not eating food very high in fats and very high in sugar.”

Toxins, she says, are naturally eliminated by bodily functions.

“Our bodies are normally cleansing every day. That’s why we have livers. I encourage people who feel like they need to clean out their system to eat fiber. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and whole grains every day,” says Gans, author of “The Small Change Diet” (Gallery, $15).

As for permanent weight loss, Gans has doubts.

Do it yourself

“Quick weight loss usually means you haven’t changed any of your behaviors,” she says. “You will gain all that weight back and then some because you haven’t learned anything from your actions.”

Save your money and make your own fresh fruit juices and smoothies says Joan Frank, director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics at San Francisco State University.

She warns that cleanses should not be used by children or diabetics, and even healthy people should contact their doctors before they use them.

Frank adds it’s best to avoid toxins rather than relying on a cleanse to flush them out. Buy meat with no antibiotics or hormones added. Use the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program (www.montereybayaquarium.org) to find out which types of seafood have high levels of mercury and other toxins. Eat organic fruits and veggies or visit the Environmental Working Group (www.foodnews.org) to find out which produce has the most and least amount of pesticides used in production.

“The other thing to avoid is processed foods,” Frank says. “There are so many benefits to just eating whole foods, fruits and vegetables, lean meats and poultry. It’s nothing dramatic, but it really works.”

  • To learn more about the Kaeng Raeng Cleanse, call 650-646-5474 or visit www.kaengraeng.com.
  • To learn more about the CAN CAN Cleanse, call 415-439-0035 or visit www.cancancleanse.com
  • Homeopathic doctor Cory Reddish can be reached at 415-383-3716. Her website is www.drcory.com
  • American Dietetic Association spokesman and nutrition expert Keri Gans’ book, “The Small Change Diet,” retails at $15 and can be found at most major bookstores or online.
    Visit the American Dietetic Association at www.eatright.org for information on nutrition and healthy weight loss. The website can also help you find a local nutritionist.

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If you can’t convince them, confuse them.
–Harry Truman

The current media debate about the benefits (or lack of harm) of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in our diet misses the obvious. The average American increased their consumption of HFCS (mostly from sugar sweetened drinks and processed food) from zero to more than 60 pounds per person per year. During that time period, obesity rates have more than tripled and diabetes incidence has increased more than seven-fold. Not perhaps the only cause, but a fact that cannot be ignored.

Doubt and confusion are the currency of deception, and they sow the seeds of complacency. These are used skillfully through massive print and television advertising campaigns by the Corn Refiners Association’s attempt to dispel the “myth” that HFCS is harmful and assert through the opinion of “medical and nutrition experts” that it is no different than cane sugar. It is a “natural” product that is a healthy part of our diet when used in moderation.

Except for one problem. When used in moderation, it is a major cause of heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia, liver failure, tooth decay and more.

The Lengths the Corn Industry Will Go To

The goal of the corn industry is to call into question any claim of harm from consuming high fructose corn syrup, and to confuse and deflect by calling their product natural “corn sugar.” That’s like calling tobacco in cigarettes natural herbal medicine. Watch the slick ad where a caring father walks hand in hand with his four-year-old daughter through a big question mark carved in an idyllic cornfield.

In the ad, the father tells us:

Like any parent, I have questions about the food my daughter eats — like high fructose corn syrup. So I started looking for answers from medical and nutrition experts, and what I discovered whether it’s corn sugar or cane sugar, your body can’t tell the difference. Sugar is sugar. Knowing that makes me feel better about what she eats and that’s one less thing to worry about.

Physicians are also targeted directly. I received a 12-page color glossy monograph from the Corn Refiners Association reviewing the “science” that HFCS was safe and no different than cane sugar. I assume the other 700,000 physicians in America received the same information, at who knows what cost.

In addition to this, I received a special “personal” letter from the Corn Refiner’s Association outlining every mention of the problems with HCFS in our diet — whether in print, blogs, books, radio or television. They warned me of the errors of my ways and put me on “notice.” For what I am not sure. To think they are tracking this (and me) that closely gives me an Orwellian chill.

New websites like www.sweetsurprise.com and www.cornsugar.com help “set us straight” about HFCS with quotes from professors of nutrition and medicine and thought leaders from Harvard and other stellar institutions.

Why is the corn industry spending millions on misinformation campaigns to convince consumers and health care professionals of the safety of their product? Could it be that the food industry comprises 17 percent of our economy?

But are these twisted sweet lies or a sweet surprise, as the Corn Refiners Association websites claim?

What the Science Says about HFCS

Let’s examine the science and insert some common sense into the conversation. These facts may indeed come as a sweet surprise. The ads suggest getting your nutrition advice from your doctor. Having studied this for more than a decade, and having read, interviewed or personally talked with most of the medical and nutrition experts used to bolster the claim that “corn sugar” and cane sugar are essentially the same, quite a different picture emerges and the role of HCFS in promoting obesity, disease and death across the globe becomes clear.

Last week over lunch with Dr. Bruce Ames, one of the foremost nutritional scientists in the world and Dr. Jeffrey Bland, a nutritional biochemist, a student of Linus Pauling and I reviewed the existing science, and Dr. Ames shared shocking new evidence from his research center on how HFCS can trigger body-wide inflammation and obesity.

Here are 5 reasons you should stay way from any product containing high fructose corn syrup.

1. Sugar in any form causes obesity and disease when consumed in pharmacologic doses.

Cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup are indeed both harmful when consumed in pharmacologic doses of 140 pounds per person per year. When one 20-ounce HFCS sweetened soda, sports drink or tea has 17 teaspoons of sugar (and the average teenager often consumes two drinks a day), we are conducting a largely uncontrolled experiment on the human species. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed the equivalent of 20 teaspoons per year, not per day. In this sense, I would agree with the corn industry that sugar is sugar. Quantity matters. But there are some important differences.

2. HFCS and cane sugar are NOT biochemically identical or processed the same way by the body.

High fructose corn syrup is an industrial food product and far from “natural” or a naturally occurring substance. It is extracted from corn stalks through a process so secret that Archer Daniels Midland and Carghill would reportedly not allow the investigative journalist Michael Pollan to observe it for his book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” The sugars are extracted through a chemical enzymatic process resulting in a chemically and biologically novel compound called HFCS.

Some basic biochemistry will help you understand this. Regular cane sugar (sucrose) is made of two-sugar molecules bound tightly together — glucose and fructose in equal amounts. The enzymes in your digestive tract must break down the sucrose into glucose and fructose, which are then absorbed into the body.

HFCS also consists of glucose and fructose, not in a 50-50 ratio, but a 55-45 fructose to glucose ratio in an unbound form. Fructose is sweeter than glucose. And HFCS is cheaper than sugar because of the government farm bill corn subsidies. Products with HFCS are sweeter and cheaper than products made with cane sugar. This allowed for the average soda size to balloon from eight ounces to 20 ounces with little financial costs to manufacturers, but great human costs of increased obesity, diabetes and chronic disease.

Now back to biochemistry. Since there is there is no chemical bond between them, no digestion is required, so they are more rapidly absorbed into your blood stream. Fructose goes right to the liver and triggers lipogenesis (the production of fats like triglycerides and cholesterol) This is why it is the major cause of liver damage in this country and causes a condition called “fatty liver,” which affects 70 million people. The rapidly absorbed glucose triggers big spikes in insulin — our body’s major fat storage hormone. Both of these features of HFCS lead to increased metabolic disturbances that drive increases in appetite, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia and more.

But there was one more thing I learned during lunch with Dr. Bruce Ames. Research done by his group at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute found that free fructose from HFCS requires more energy to be absorbed by the gut and soaks up two phosphorous molecules from ATP (our body’s energy source). This depletes the energy fuel source or ATP in our gut required to maintain the integrity of our intestinal lining. Little “tight junctions” cement each intestinal cell together preventing food and bacteria from “leaking” across the intestinal membrane and triggering an immune reaction and body wide inflammation.

High doses of free fructose have been proven to literally punch holes in the intestinal lining, allowing nasty byproducts of toxic gut bacteria and partially digested food proteins to enter your blood stream and trigger the inflammation that we know is at the root of obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, dementia and accelerated aging. Naturally occurring fructose in fruit is part of a complex of nutrients and fiber that doesn’t exhibit the same biological effects as the free high fructose doses found in “corn sugar.’

The takeaway: Cane sugar and the industrially produced, euphemistically named “corn sugar” are not biochemically or physiologically the same.

3. HFCS contains contaminants including mercury that are not regulated or measured by the FDA.

An FDA researcher asked corn producers to ship a barrel of high fructose corn syrup in order to test for contaminants. Her repeated requests were refused until she claimed she represented a newly created soft drink company. She was then promptly shipped a big vat of HFCS that was used as part of the study that showed that HFCS often contains toxic levels of mercury because of chlor-alkali products used in its manufacturing.(i) Poisoned sugar is certainly not “natural.”

When HFCS is run through a chemical analyzer or a chromatograph, strange chemical peaks show up that are not glucose or fructose. What are they? Who knows? This certainly calls into question the purity of this processed form of super sugar. The exact nature, effects and toxicity of these funny compounds have not been fully explained, but shouldn’t we be protected from the presence of untested chemical compounds in our food supply, especially when the contaminated food product comprises up to 15 to 20 percent of the average American’s daily calorie intake?

4. Many independent medical and nutrition experts DO NOT support the use of HFCS in our diet, despite the assertions of the corn industry.

The corn industry’s happy looking websites www.cornsugar.com and www.sweetsurprise.com bolster their position that cane sugar and corn sugar are the same by quoting experts, or should we say mis-quoting …

Barry M. Popkin, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has published widely on the dangers of sugar-sweetened drinks and their contribution to the obesity epidemic. In a review of HFCS in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,(ii) he explains the mechanism by which the free fructose may contribute to obesity. He states that:

“The digestion, absorption and metabolism of fructose differ from those of glucose. Hepatic metabolism of fructose favors de novo lipogenesis [production of fat in the liver]. In addition, unlike glucose, fructose does not stimulate insulin secretion or enhance leptin production. Because insulin and leptin act as key afferent signals in the regulation of food intake and body weight [to control appetite], this suggests that dietary fructose may contribute to increased energy intake and weight gain. Furthermore, calorically sweetened beverages may enhance caloric overconsumption.”

He states that HFCS is absorbed more rapidly than regular sugar, and that it doesn’t stimulate insulin or leptin production. This prevents you from triggering the body’s signals for being full and may lead to overconsumption of total calories.

He concludes by saying that:

“… the increase in consumption of HFCS has a temporal relation to the epidemic of obesity, and the overconsumption of HFCS in calorically sweetened beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity.”

The corn industry takes his comments out of context to support their position. “All sugar you eat is the same.”

True, pharmacologic doses of any kind of sugar are harmful, but the biochemistry of different kinds of sugar and their respective effects on absorption, appetite and metabolism are different.

David S. Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, and a personal friend has published extensively on the dangers and the obesogenic properties of sugar-sweetened beverages. He was quoted as saying that “high fructose corn syrup is one of the most misunderstood products in the food industry.” When I asked him why he supported the corn industry, he told me he didn’t and that his comments were taken totally out of context.

Misrepresenting science is one thing, misrepresenting scientists who have been at the forefront of the fight against obesity and high fructose sugar sweetened beverages is quite another.

5. HCFS is almost always a marker of poor-quality, nutrient-poor disease creating industrial food products or “food-like substances.”

The last reason to avoid products that contain HFCS is that they are a marker for poor-quality, nutritionally depleted, processed industrial food full of empty calories and artificial ingredients. If you find “high fructose corn syrup” on the label, you can be sure it is not a whole, real, fresh food full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants. Stay away if you want to stay healthy. We still must reduce our overall consumption of sugar, but with this one simple dietary change you can radically reduce your health risks and improve your health.

While debate may rage about the biochemistry and physiology of cane sugar vs. corn sugar, this is, in fact, beside the point (despite the finer points of my scientific analysis above). The conversation has been diverted to a simple assertion that cane sugar and corn sugar are not different.

The real issues are only two.

1. We are consuming HFCS and sugar in pharmacologic quantities never before experienced in human history — 140 pounds a year vs. 20 teaspoons a year 10,000 years ago.

2. High fructose corn syrup is almost always found in very poor quality foods that are nutritionally vacuous and filled with all sorts of other disease-promoting compounds, fats, salt, chemicals and even mercury.

These critical ideas should be the heart of the national conversation, not the meaningless confusing ads and statements by the corn industry in the media and online that attempt to assure the public that the biochemistry of real sugar and industrially produced sugar from corn are the same.

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Lindsay is the founder and CEO of Kaeng Raeng natural detox.

For years I struggled to become a “good” runner.  I felt like no matter how many times I jumped on that treadmill or went for a run, I was breathless after 10 minutes.  I knew my body was so much stronger and I was more capable.  I could easily do hours on a bike – why was running so difficult?  After I was diagnosed with asthma while in college (and again in my mid-20’s after I stubbornly ignored it for 5 years), it became clear that I needed to re-examine my fitness goals.

Today, I’m still not a “good” runner despite trying 4-5 times/week.  I run with my boyfriend and he can literally run laps around me.  Some of us were born to run, others not so much.

If you’re someone with asthma who would still like to enjoy a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, particularly running, there are ways to manage your asthma and still get a great workout.  I have found over time a few simple steps to continue running.  Please do not take my advice if a doctor has not cleared you for exercise – each person’s exercise needs and abilities are different.

What is asthma?

You may hear the term thrown around a lot, or seen advertisements on TV for various asthma-related medications, but perhaps you’re not even sure what it really is.  Asthma  is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and bronchospasm. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.  It is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.  A diagnosis of asthma is common among top athletes. One survey of participants in the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., showed that 15% had been diagnosed with asthma, and that 10% were on asthma medication.

Many people with asthma manage it with a basic non-steroid inhaler which helps to open the lungs before or after an asthma attack trigger.  Avoiding allergens is another way people manage asthma (but may not be practical given normal constraints).

Where to Exercise

One of the best ways to exercise with asthma is indoors in a controlled setting like a gym, on a treadmill.  In the event of an asthma attack or medical emergency, being around other people, fresh water, and an inhaler can help prevent serious injury.  Being in a climate controlled setting (like in air conditioning in a hot climate) also helps your lungs recover after bouts of exertion.  Other great places include the pool (the moisture in the air from swimming is great for the lungs), any moist or humid setting, and places with warm (but not blazing hot) weather.

Types of Exercise

While this article is mostly about running, there are plenty of other great forms of exercise that don’t include running that may be more suitable for people with asthma.  These include swimming, biking or spinning, walking, climbing stairs, elliptical, rowing, pilates, or yoga.   Sports that allow for intervals of rest are also great including volleyball, tennis, softball, and gymnastics.

One of the best ways to run with asthma is with interval trainingInterval training is a type of physical training that involves bursts of high intensity work. This high intensity work is alternated with periods of recovery (which may involve complete rest and/or lower intensity activity).  This type of training is great for people with asthma because it can give you time to catch your breath while keeping your heart rate up.  I typically do interval sprinting 30 seconds running at 8.5 mph or higher and then resting for 30 seconds, on and off for 10-20 minutes.  During the “resting” period, my heart rate typically stays within 10 beats/second from my cardio rate.  I love interval training because of the feeling of accomplishment I get when I’ve finished a set.  It gets your heart rate up, your metabolism boosted, and the time flies by!

Types of Exercise To Avoid

It probably goes without saying, but any long-term endurance cardio can be a challenge for people with asthma.  Avoid cross country running, sports like basketball and soccer, and cold weather activities like skating or skiing.  Don’t feel like you’re out of shape just because you can’t finish a marathon.  Asthma is a serious condition – respect your body’s limitations.  If you have seasonal allergies that exacerbate your asthma, avoid running outdoors altogether.  If you live in a heavily polluted area, you may want to avoid running outdoors.  High altitude areas can also increase the risk of an asthma attack.

Simple Tips for Success

I always take two hits from my inhaler, 10 seconds apart, before I start any cardio.  I notice a difference immediately.  If I’ve forgotten to use my inhaler, I barely can last 5 minutes without getting out of breath.  With my inhaler, I can run for much longer.  Visit a doctor if you feel like you might have exercise-induced asthma.  They will have you blow into a tube that measures your air flow.  Most people with asthma regularly use an HFA inhaler.  Some people with more serious cases use a steroid inhaler – your doctor will know which one is best.

Always have plenty of water readily available.  Oxygen is a key component of water, so drinking it while out of breath can help to improve air flow in your lungs.

Use a heart rate monitor.   Your heart rate is important during exercise.  Most people try to stay within a “target zone” that’s also known as the “fat burning zone,” that’s an efficiency point for burning calories while still having energy for your body to endure.  I regularly check my heart rate to make sure I am within my goal zones so I am less focused on the distance I have gone, but more so how long and how hard my workout has been.

Always warm up and cool down.  Your body is like an instrument that needs a little tuning.  Start with some stretching and walking before running to avoid injury.  Warming up your lungs to exercise will help lower the chances of an asthma attack.  Also remember to cool down.  Jumping off a treadmill with your heart rate at 185 can make you dizzy.  Stay safe by easing out of your workout with walking, light jogging, biking, or using the elliptical.

Have a positive mind frame.  So much of running, I believe, is mental.  As soon as you start to doubt yourself and your body, the running will become a painful chore rather than an enjoyable form of exercise.  Stay positive!  Use upbeat music, run with a friend, or repeat to yourself that you’re doing great while running.  Don’t let having asthma disable you – it’s a manageable condition that does not have to stop you from getting a great sweat!

Good luck, healthy girl.

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Sugar is getting a bad reputation. A cover article in The New York Times Magazine several weeks ago persuasively reported that our national overindulgence in fructose and other sugars is driving the epidemics of obesity, diabetes and other illnesses. But that much-discussed article, by the writer Gary Taubes, focused on how sugars like fructose affect the body in general. It had little opportunity to examine the related issue of how sugar affects the body in motion. Do sweeteners like fructose — the sweetest of the simple sugars, found abundantly in fruits and honey — have the same effect on active people as on the slothful?

A cluster of new studies suggests that people who regularly work out don’t need to worry unduly about consuming fructose or other sugars. In certain circumstances, they may even find the sweet stuff beneficial.

The unique role that the various sugars play in exercise is well illustrated by a new study published in March in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. It involved a group of highly trained cyclists and their livers. For the experiment, Swiss and British researchers directed the cyclists, all men, to ride to exhaustion on several different occasions. After each ride, they swallowed drinks sweetened with fructose or glucose, another simple sugar often identified as dextrose on ingredient labels. (Some also drank a milk-sugar sweetener.)

The liver is often overlooked when we consider organs integral to exercise, but it is an important reservoir of glycogen, the body’s stored form of glucose. All sugars, including sucrose, or table sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup, which usually consists of almost equal portions of glucose and fructose, are converted into glucose, and stored as glycogen, in the body. Strenuous exercise diminishes or exhausts this liver glycogen, and until those stores are replenished, the body isn’t fully ready for another exercise bout.

In this study, the scientists used magnetic resonance imaging to measure the size of each rider’s liver, before and after the rides. All of the cyclists lost liver volume during their workouts, a sign their livers were depleted of glycogen. But those who afterward drank fructose replaced the lost volume rapidly, showing a 9 percent gain in volume after six-and-a-half hours versus a 2 percent gain among the riders drinking glucose-sweetened drinks. Over all, the researchers concluded, fructose-sweetened drinks were twice as effective as the glucose-sweetened drinks in stimulating the liver to recover.

This finding concurs with a large body of earlier research suggesting that fructose is particularly useful for avid athletes. During long, hard workouts, they can burn through almost all of their stored glycogen and fade. But drink or eat something sugary, and the muscles can keep working.

Interestingly, absorption seems to be best if the sweetener contains both glucose and fructose. A 2008 study of cyclists found that if they downed a sports drink sweetened with glucose during a two-hour bout of moderate pedaling, they rode faster during a subsequent time trial than riders who had drunk only water. But if the sports drink contained both glucose and fructose (in a two-to-one ratio), the riders were 8 percent faster in the time trial than those drinking glucose-sweetened fluids alone. (Most bottled sports drinks on the American market are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, so contain glucose and fructose in a closer to one-to-one ratio.)

Does this suggest that those of us who regularly but moderately work out might want to consider sugar loading? Alas, the answer is no. Large amounts of sweetened sports drinks, gels and bars are recommended only for the “serious athlete” who works out for more than two hours at a time, Asker Jeukendrup, director of the human performance lab at the University of Birmingham in England and co-author of both studies, said in an e-mail. “If someone goes for a 30-minute walk, the duration and intensity will be too short” for sugar to make a difference in terms of performance, he said.

But that half-hour stroll could affect how your body responds to sugar, other new science suggests. You may not need Skittles to fuel the walk, but the walk will affect how your body metabolizes the candy, if you do indulge. Activity can “significantly reduce the health risks associated with fructose and other forms of sugar,” said Dr. Robert J. Johnson, a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Denver, who has long studied fructose metabolism and was an author of a review article last year about fructose and exercise.

Consider, again, the liver. In sedentary people, ingesting large amounts of fructose, which is mostly metabolized in the liver, has been associated with the development of a disorder known as fatty liver. That condition can reduce the body’s ability to respond to insulin, the hormone that helps to control blood sugar. A person with a fatty liver often develops resistance to insulin, becomes less able to control levels of glucose in the blood, and drifts almost inexorably toward Type 2 diabetes.

But exercise can derail this process. A review of recent studies, published in December, concluded that beginning an exercise program could significantly lessen the amount of fat in someone’s liver, even if that person didn’t lose weight during the program.

Moderate exercise — about 30 minutes a day five times a week — also aids in the control of blood sugar levels if a person has developed Type 2 diabetes, according to a comprehensive review published this week in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Over all, Dr. Johnson said, the “current science suggests that exercise exerts a positive physiological influence” on some of the same metabolic pathways that sugar harms. “Exercise may make you resistant to the undesirable effects of sugar,” he said.

Not that any of us should live on sweets. “Sugar is not all bad,” Dr. Johnson concluded, “but it’s hardly nutritionally good, either.” The best sweet option, he added, is fruit, which comes prepackaged with a small but satiating dose of all-natural fructose.

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