Monthly Archives: July 2012

Western Nutrition

Western nutrition practices reductionism. That is where the scientist break the food down into it’s individual parts such as vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates and proteins. We will discuss this briefly so that we can relate to the way that the western world relates to food. I however prefer to think of food as a whole package. Western nutrition sees food mostly as fuel for the body. We will discuss carbohydrates, protein, fats, water, vitamins, minerals and air. The carbohydrates, protein and fats are macronutrients. Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients. Water and air are self explanatory and essential to our survival.

Terminology

– calorie – measurement of the amount of heat and energy that is produced when a food is burned. macronutrients are measured in calories. Micronutrients are not. Carb/protein have 4 cal/g and fat has 9 cal/g. You’ll often hear about empty calories which are calories found in processed food because there are not any macro/micronutrients left.

– carbohydrate – Most abundantly from plant foods and are typically thought of as grains and starches, but they are found in all foods. Carbohydrates are produced through photosynthesis. They encompass fibers, starches and sugars. The fiber is important for digestion. There is soluble fiber (slows digestion down) which breaks down in digestion and there is insoluble (speeds digestion up) which does not break down. Soluble fiber is good for blood sugar regulation and helps lower blood cholesterol. Insoluble fiber helps with emptying your bowels faster, slows down your blood glucose increases and blood sugar spikes. They are really good at removing toxins and also clears out your colon. The insoluble fibers are the stringy stuff in your foods.

Carbohydrates are good for energy, digestion, your bodies good bacteria are fed by carbohydrates and they help your body to use the proteins and fats you consume.

Refined carbohydrates have the fiber, minerals and vitamins removed. Essentially the only thing that you are left with is the sugar. This leads to disease because the body is unable to process it properly. Refined carbs are the quickest to be digested followed by protein and fat.

– protein – Proteins are often thought of as the building blocks of the human body. They contain amino acids which make up the proteins. Most of these amino acids can be produced by your body, however some can not. The ones that can not are called essential amino acids and you must get them through your diet. You must continuously eat them since they are constantly being replaced in your body. You can find them in several sources such as animal products, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and grains. If you eat a varied diet you will get your proteins pretty easily. Plant proteins are good for maintaining a proper PH balance in your body. Antibodies are made up of proteins and neurotransmitters are made up of amino acids. Proteins take a long time to digest so therefore they help to make you feel full longer. There is a great discrepancy as to how much protein you require. The avg. American consumes 100g/day or about 6.5 oz. Most need approx 75g or 4.5 oz and the recommended daily allowance is 0.8g/kg in the US. The world health organization suggests 0.45 g/kg.

Too much protein may cause the kidneys to work harder with increased urea and may pull out calcium. Poor quality animal proteins may cause disease. Too little protein will cause your body to break down your bodies tissue, weakness, fatigue, weight loss hair loss and decreased immunity.

– fats – term for a food

– fatty acids – structure of fats

Fats were discussed in detail earlier. These are discussed in a couple of different ways in the medical community. There are triglycerides which are approx. 90% of the fats (lipids). High triglycerides have been linked to heart disease in the medical community although there is some debate about this since it has only been shown as a correlation and that has been challenged. In order to help keep these in check you should decrease fatty food intake, decrease smoking, increase your exercise and also manage your weight.

Phospholipids (fats) are supposed to help with angina and cognitive health. Steroids (sterols) include cholesterol. This is found throughout the body. It is produced by the liver. It is only found in animal products. There are two types of cholesterol. High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) and Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL). HDL brings cholesterol from cells to the liver and LDL brings cholesterol from the liver to the cells. The body must have a proper balance of both types in order to maintain proper function. You can maintain a proper balance of these phospholipids by maintain an ideal body weight, decreasing poor quality fats, decrease alcohol consumption. Garlic and fish oil are good for cholesterol.

Fats are necessary in the body. They help with viral infections, maintaining proper cell wall structure, protects heart and organs, they decrease the aging process, increase your energy, assist with your blood pressure regulation and help transport fat soluble vitamins. You must have high quality fatty acids (saturated and unsaturated). Liquid fats are easier to digest than solid fats. Some people take lipase (an enzyme) in order to assist the digestion of fats. In order to determine how much fat you need you must listen to your body. Some of the symptoms of fatty acid deficiency are dry hair, dry skin, brittle nails and thirstiness.

– minerals – Minerals are inorganic compounds which are obtained by eating plants and or animals that have drawn them from the ground or ocean. They are critical for antioxidants, bones, teeth and cells and they work with vitamins. You can not destroy a mineral, but it can be leached out in water or something similar. There are both major and minor (trace) minerals which is determined by how much is needed by the body. The major minerals are Calcium, phosphorous, sodium, chloride, magnesium and potassium and you must have more than 100 mg/day.

Calcium is the most abundant mineral. You can find it in dairy products, leafy greens, nuts, seeds and tofu in particular.

Phosphorous can be found in dairy products, leafy greens, nuts, seeds tofu, animal products eggs, and whole grains in particular.

Magnesium can be found in sea vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes in particular.

Potassium, Sodium and chloride are all important electrolytes that conduct electricity throughout your body. Therefore it is very important that you maintain a proper balance by eating a well rounded diet.

There are many other minerals including Iodine, Selenium, Molybdenum, Silicon, Sulfur, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Zinc and Iron. They all play an important role in the bodies functions.

Sulfur is an amino acid and aids in protein structure and detoxification

Boron maintains calcium balance

Chromium assists with blood sugar regulation.

Copper is good for your hemoglobin and assists with wound healing.

Zinc is taken sometimes when people get sick in order to boost enzyme functions for immunity.

Iron is important for red blood cells.

Iodine was initially added to salt in order to combat goiter production and it also is important in thyroid hormone function.

Selenium works as an antioxidant, is anticancer and is good for fertility.

Molybdenum is good for detoxifying alcoholics.

Silicon hasn’t been researched must be seems to be important for strength of tissues, bone growth, endurance and stamina.

This is a brief snapshot of what they do.

– vitamins – Vitamins are found in plant and animals. Vita means life and min means nitrogen. However not all have nitrogen. They are organic compounds that must be maintained. If you have a decrease in vitamins you will have health problems. They are essential for proper enzyme functions. There are two types. Those types are water and fat soluble. Water soluble vitamins get excreted very quickly while the fat soluble ones will maintain longer. Therefore the water soluble vitamins must be restored regularly and the fat soluble ones can build up to toxic levels. While cooking you should cook lightly in order to not destroy the vitamins and remember that water soluble vitamins will be leached from your food during cooking with wet cooking techniques. The fat soluble vitamins are Vitamin A, D, E and K. All of the other vitamins are water soluble.

– phytochemical – Phytochemicals are what makes plants colorful, tasty and smell good. They have only recently been discovered. They fight disease and act as antioxidants (slow or prevent oxidative damage when the body uses oxygen). The common ones are Vitamin A, C, E, Selenium, flavanoids and caratonoids, polythenol and licopain. There is an ORAC rating for foods with spices, herbs, scented oils, dry fruits, nuts, deeply pigmented fruits and vegetables (artichokes, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, avocado, beet and spinach) being high on the list.

– enzyme – Enzymes are protein based and are required in every chemical reaction in the body. There are hundreds of enzymes and are found in plants and vegetables. They are killed when cooked above 118-112 degrees F. This is why you should eat some raw foods with your meals as well.

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One Month In: RKC program minimum completed

1 month of warmups, swings and getups. That is the program minimum.

After several years of tossing kettlebells around without a real vision I’ve decided to get back to the roots of them. So, I purchased Enter the Kettlebell (Pavel) once again and I found this program guide

(http://thief.mars.ucla.edu/piefiles/AOS%20-%20Enter%20The%20Kettlebell%20Workbook.pdf)

by Anthony DiLuglio, RKC http://www.artofstrength.com and I’ve followed it. Refocusing my energies on the basics, proper body mechanics and form. My body has been rewarded.

The program consists of three parts. A 10 minute warmup at the beginning of each workout, and four days working out. Two days doing swings and two days doing getups. Since I had a significant amount of previous experience I jumped right in with a heavy 24 kg (53lb) kettlebell for 1 month. It is suggested that the average male start with a 16kg (35lb) kettlebell. Several years ago this is what I started with and have since moved to the 20kg (44lb) kettlebell then to my present 24kg (53lb) one.

The goal of the warmup is to prepare the body for the workout, as well as to increase your mobility. It has three exercises. Each performed 10 times in a circuit until 10 minutes has passed.

1. Face-the-Wall squat
2. Halo
3. Pump

The face-the-wall squat is a fantastic exercise for teaching proper squatting technique as well as proper swing movement. This exercise is a must do.

“Modified for our needs, it is an outstanding drill for developing the back and hip flexibility needed for pulling and squatting.”
This quote is from Enter The Kettlebell by Pavel on page 9.

The second exercise is the halo. It is performed 5 times each direction for a total of ten repetitions per set. This is a really good exercises for shoulder mobility.

The third exercise of the warmup is the pump. This exercise is used to stretch your hip flexors and shoulders.

These exercises should not be rushed through. You have ten minutes to perform the sets and to warmup. I would complete three rounds of these exercises. It is important to remember that this is the warmup to the workout. Not the workout itself.

After the warmup you do either swings or getups. 4 workouts per week, 2 swing days and 2 getup days.

On the swing days you perform twelve minutes of swings. Starting with sets of 20 and increasing to sets of 50. After you complete each set you then do a 1 minute active recovery such as jogging, jumping jacks, pushups to squat or mountain climbers. It is very important to do active recovery instead of just stopping.

Physiologically it is easier on your heart to continue moving and perform active recovery or a cool down because the venous system is a passive system and when your muscle contracts it pushes the blood back to your heart. This in turn fills the heart more fully and assists in the next heart beat. By helping the blood return to the heart it actually means that the heart does not have to work as hard.

Twice a week you do swings. They are hard, quick and very intense. They will toughen your mind as well as your body. They will increase your conditioning dramatically and they build your entire posterior chain (back) from head to heel with power, strength and speed. By the time I got near the end of the month I was doing as many as I could, then setting the bell down for a few seconds before finishing out the set. It is always important to remember that while you are working out, during the program minimum you are practicing these exercises and the focus should be on proper form instead of trying to smoke yourself to death.

“I dare you to find a single exercise, kettlebell or not, that delivers more benefits than the kettlebell swing! Senior RKC instructor Steve Maxwell, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Champion, had flat-out stated that doing the perfect kettlebell swing alone is superior to 99 percent of the sophisticated strength and conditioning programs out there.”

An excerpt from “Enter the Kettlebell” by Pavel on page 43.

I love the swing. Plain and simple.

Another exercise that I love is the getup. This is performed twice a week for 5 minutes non stop switching arms on each rep. It requires constant focus and every muscle in your body. 5 minutes might not seem like a longtime, but I can certainly feel it after pressing a 24kg (53 lb) bell five or six times per side.

“The one-arm get-up is a general test of strength which had considerable appeal to most strongmen of yesteryear. Siegmund Klein” (“Enter the Kettlbell” by Pavel on page 61)

The purpose of this exercise is to develop shoulder strength and mobility as well as teaching full body tension. Everything must work together to press a heavy kettlebell from the ground up. It is known to be great for the rehabilitation of shoulders through increased shoulder mobility and stability as well as increased shoulder strength.

Next on my list is the Rite of Passage. I’ll be chronicling this as well when I finish it in a couple of months. The program minimum has been a great refocusing of my kettlebell energies. It has been well worth the effort to take a step back and really focus on performing the exercises correctly and allowing for proper recovery. Historically I always hit the gym as hard as I could and I usually over trained. This led to illness and set backs. It’s time to train smarter.

If you’re interested in this type of training then you should purchase Enter the Kettlebell and/or consult with a RKC instructor.

When I first began this program I was only able to do 1.5 Getups/side. By the end I was doing 6/side. I also started out doing 140 swings in the twelve minutes and my last swing day I did 225. Doing sets of 50 was brutal on my forearms. Sets of 40 was much more manageable, but my grip strength will continue to increase. I also finished with a resting heart rate of 52bpm (resting heart rate is best taken while still in bed in the morning before getting up for the day).

Keep in mind that this is only one month into the program. Also it is only the preparation to the actual program. This intro phase consisted of 40min a week of warm ups and 34 minutes of actual workout time for a total of only 1 hour and 14 mins per week.

While I made improvements in my fitness, and i do feel stronger, this program is more of an opportunity to learn the ropes and practice proper technique rather than the workout itself. I would expect to be comfortable with the kettlebell and prepared for the next phase.

There is room for interpretation in this book. I enjoyed this program as it was laid out in the above PDF. If you’re interested grab yourself a kettlebell and take the challenge with me. We’ll both be better people because of it.

I do not have any affiliation with dragondoor or Pavel.

The Basics of Inflammation

Inflammation has been shown to be the cause of many chronic diseases, if not all of them. So what is it? Inflammation in the medical community is all of the “itis” diseases such as arthritis, gastroenteritis and colitis.

Inflammation is a normal disease/injury fighting bodily process. Pain, redness, swelling and heat are all outward signs of inflammation. It is the macrophages and white blood cells being rushed to the site of inflammation. Inflammation can occur anywhere though.

Chronic low level inflammation keeps the body working constantly. Therefore the chemical messengers are always active when they should not be and this is leading to disease. Some of the causes of this are toxins, injury, stress, not enough sleep, not exercising, emotions, unhealthy food choices and drinking too much alcohol. Food affects everyone differently. You must think about and be conscious of what you are eating and how it makes you feel. You can do this by having a food journal. This way you can figure out your trigger foods. Chronic inflammation has been shown to lead to diabetes, obesity, heart disease, autoimmune disease (AIDS/Lupis), cancer, fatigue, allergies, asthma, stroke, depression, aging, arthritis, alzheimer’s and osteoporosis. Sometimes with the constant assault the bodies defenses fail and the body turns onto itself.

You are able to reduce inflammation through a few simple ways. You can attempt to control environmental toxins as much as possible, get more rest, exercise more, decrease your drinking and work on your mental well being. Mental well being can be enhanced through any sort of meditative practices that you may choose. You can also eat foods that are higher in Omega 3 and decrease the Omega 6’s that you intake. You can eat lots of fruits and vegetables, whole foods, fish, good oils (olive, coconut), decrease your polyunsaturated oils and decrease your grain fed unnatural meat intake. If you do eat red meat you should eat grass fed beef. Due to being properly raised they have a much more favorable Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio.

Top inflammation fighting foods

– bok choy, collards, brussel sprouts, cabbage (cruciferous vegetables)

– Leafy greens such as chard, spinach, lettuce, kale

– Legumes such as beans and peas

– Citrus fruits

– Berries

– Whole grains

– Beta Carotene foods (orange colored) such as carrots, oranges, pumpkin sweet potato

– Spices such as turmeric, ginger and garlic

– onion

– green tea and ginko biloba

– fermented foods

– sea vegetables

– It is also important to get sunlight and to eliminate sugar

Controlling inflammation is very important to your overall health. It is far more than just the food you eat though. You must always treat yourself well through exercise, proper sleep, meditation and recovery. There is extensive research on inflammation and it’s causes and effects. If you’d like to learn more please grab a book and have a good read.