Carbohydrates Drive Up Cholesterol

Evil ToastOctober 16th, 2009 – Despite what your doctor and favorite fitness magazine tell you, dietary cholesterol is not the enemy. In fact, our own cells manufacture roughly 80% of the cholesterol in our body (1). Increase your dietary intake, and normally the body will compensate by producing less of its own. Decrease, and your body will make more.

So where do carbohydrates fit in to all of this?

When you ingest carbohydrates, they are broken down into glucose and released into the blood stream. This raises blood sugar levels, and the body releases insulin to deliver the sugar to the various cells in the body for use as fuel. Aside from storing nutrients in the body, insulin also stimulates the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which determines the rate and amount of cholesterol produced by our cells. (2) The more cholesterol our cells produce, the less they remove from the LDL particles in the blood, and the more cholesterol remains in circulation.

Take home message – It’s the toast, not the eggs.

References

1. Protein Power
Dr. Michael Eades
New York, NY: Creative Paradox LLC (2000)

2. Interaction between cholesterol and glucose metabolism during dietarycarbohydrate modification in subjects with the metabolic syndrome
Maarit Hallikainen, et al.
Am. J. Clinical Nutrition, Dec 2006; 84: 1385 – 1392.

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Benefits of Yoga

When guys hear the word yoga they think hippies, tofu, and small muscles.

Contrary to the popular belief that yoga is only for women, it was traditionally practiced by men although it has not maintained its male student population since its arrival in the Western world. Only a small percentage of the 15 million people who practice yoga are men. (1)

What men don’t realize is that most women consider it incredibly sexy when a guy practices yoga. I imagine this probably has something to do with the fact that most males who practice yoga [and lift weights] exude incredible confidence, self-security and a strong posture.

Aside from improving your sex appeal, our primary focus in this article is to show that any guy, whether you may be a bodybuilder, endurance athlete, or strength athlete, can benefit from this ancient practice. You will find that yoga can be an amazingly powerful tool in enhancing fat loss, overall athleticism, and injury prevention and rehabilitation.

Fat loss & Cardiovascular –

One key benefit of yoga over traditional forms of “cardio” or supplemental “calorie burning” exercises is the actual pleasure found in practicing it. Compared to the boring and dreaded treadmill or stair machine, yoga is often considerably more engaging and enjoyable, yet just as beneficial. Plus, yoga is something that can be practiced from home, in the comfort of one’s living room.

Lack of steady commitment is one of the biggest factors in why ‘weight loss’ or ‘fat loss’ programs fail. One following a steady yoga practice may almost feel like they reach their goals faster and easier simply due to the fact that the exercise is enjoyed. It’s interesting to note that the positive physical effects almost start to seem secondary after one realizes the positive psychological effects. Either way, it’s a catalyst for success.

Warrior One

Philosophies on the actual cardiovascular benefits of yoga are vast and vary greatly depending on the type of yoga practiced. Most would agree that more vigorous activity such as running, field sports, or circuit training will provide stronger cardiovascular stimulus. However, research has shown yoga to be beneficial for improving lipid profiles, insulin resistance and cardiovascular risk factors. (5) Part of the benefits can be attributed to the stress and anxiety relief alone, which can reduce heart disease risk and high blood pressure.

Flexibility & Circulatory-

The most commonly known benefit of yoga is increased flexibility, which can offer potential benefits for strengthening and balancing muscle and connective tissue.

Most of us understand that when the muscles are strengthened during weight training they are in turn pulled tighter. However, this ‘tightness’ can disable your muscles and connective tissue from properly relaxing when they should be. This relaxation is especially important for the opposing muscle in any given movement. (eg, the biceps should relax during a bench press) Mechanical musculoskeletal movement can be highly compromised and susceptible to injury by overly tightened muscles.

What about old fashioned stretching?

The most significant benefit you will find with yoga over traditional stretching is the light and progressively increasing warm-up like activity and increased blood circulation. Most other forms of stretching totally neglect a sufficient warm up period and only stretch isolated muscles groups. Poses performed in yoga encourage you to support your own body weight, which engages more muscle groups and promotes rapid engorgement of blood in the muscle belly from the resistance. More blood in the muscle means more effective stretching.

Side Angle Pose

From a recovery standpoint, increased systemic blood flow will promote nutrient delivery and toxin clearance. This of course translates into faster repair and increased muscle hypertrophy when combined with the proper weight training program. The enhanced circulation will also greatly improve injury rehabilitation. Even serious injuries with the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or the rotator cuff can also be improved with physical therapy, supplemented with yoga.

An integral part of yoga is the seamless transition from one pose to the next. For instance, the controlled movement and twisting of the spine provides significant benefit for the smaller stabilizer muscles controlling the vertebrae (eg, rodatores, multifidus, interspinales, and intertransversarii). Typical back extensions, lat pulls and upright rows will help these muscles very little, if at all. A recent ACE study showed that an hour of yoga three times per week increases average trunk flexibility by 13% in only eight weeks.

Remember, flexibility does not happen overnight. If connective tissue is “stretched” it is considered an injury, so be patient. The lengthening of the muscle and fascia must happen together through months of progressive training.

Balance –

When the word “balance” is used there tends to be two thoughts that come to mind, balance in reference to symmetry and balance in reference to being able to stabilize the body. Yoga helps improve both types of balance. This is achieved in yoga because all poses are done on all sides of the body. Poses are done from side to side and front to back. When working the whole body in the equal amounts, the whole body responds as a whole and becomes balanced.

When the body becomes “balanced” it becomes realigned. All of the 200 plus bones in the body are held in alignment by your muscles and connective tissue. As discussed earlier, if one (or a group) of muscles are tighter than the opposing muscle it can cause imbalance and potentially lead to discomfort or injury. With overall enhanced flexibility you will find balance, and the benefits herein will lead to improved posture, movement and flow. Common physiological ailments can often be improved by simply increasing overall flexibility and balance. (Eg, shin splints, plantar fasciaitis, anterior compartment syndrome, meniscus degeneration, and various tendonitis related issues.) In fact, research has shown yoga can improve repetitive-stress related injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, (3) while also helping with inflammation related conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. (2)

Breathing –

Yoga can improve breathing capacity by improving the flexibility of the rib cage, shoulders and diaphragm. (4) Improved flexibility in these areas will aid in the proper involvement of the diaphragm and the abdominal muscles in the act of breathing instead of only using your upper chest. This increases the amount of air taken into the lungs.

Oxygenation efficiency can be improved by focused and controlled breathing. (4) In yoga, each pose is coordinated with your breathing which will improve your mind-to-body awareness, power of concentration, and the body’s ability to replace carbon dioxide with oxygen.

Endurance –

There are two basic types of exercise; isokinetic and isometric. Isokinetic exercise involves strength in a repetitive movement (curls, bench, squats, ect.). Isometric exercise involves the tensile strength without movement (holding a pose under load). A study done at UC Davis demonstrated that isometric exercise increased muscle endurance by as much as 57% while isokinetic exercise increased muscle endurance by only 28%. The same study showed that isometric exercise provided remarkable improvements in flexibility and oxygen intake. This increased endurance is good news for virtually any athlete, minus those exclusive to explosive strength. (Discus thrower, linemen, sprinter, ect) Just be sure to choose the correct style of yoga for your goals.

Lifting the spirit –

During an intense yoga session its often encouraged to find the connection between the instructions of the mind and the order of the body. It is this metaphysical interplay between these elements that keep the individual constantly engaged and challenged.

As you attempt to hold a rigorously demanding pose you may ask yourself –

“Am I consciously in control?”

“Can I consciously work through the uncomfortable burning sensation?”

“Can I strengthen the signal from mind to muscle?”

The act of mindfully focusing on your body and its functions while performing a difficult pose in yoga gives the mind permission to focus on the task at hand, rather than stress inducing factors.

As you practice yoga, you will find that it brings a certain feeling of clarity, order and mindfulness – and an ability to conquer stress. Learning to apply this skill set to everyday tasks will enhance your productivity and overall fulfillment – whether it is a verbal presentation, a cage fight or simply falling asleep. (6-8)

cross legged

References

1. (Seattle times article” Yoga Poises for Chain Pose” Published Tuesday Sept. 21, 2004)

2. Measuring the Effects of Yoga in Rheumatoid Arthritis I. HASLOCK, R. MONRO, R. NAGARATHANA, H. R. NAGENDRA, and N. V. RAGURAM Rheumatology, Aug 1994; 33: 787 – 790.

3. Yoga-Based Intervention for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Randomized Trial Marian S. Garfinkel, Atul Singhal, Warren A. Katz, David A. Allan, Rosemary Reshetar, and H. Ralph Schumacher, Jr JAMA, Nov 1998; 280: 1601.

4. Pattern of breathing and ventilatory response to CO2 in subjects practicing hatha-yoga

D. C. Stanescu, B. Nemery, C. Veriter, and C. Marechal J Appl Physiol, Dec 1981; 51: 1625.

5. Risk Indices Associated with the Insulin Resistance Syndrome, Cardiovascular Disease, and Possible Protection with Yoga: A Systematic Review

Kim E. Innes, Cheryl Bourguignon, and Ann Gill Taylor
J Am Board Fam Pract, Nov 2005; 18: 491 – 519.

6. Sahaja Yoga Meditation as a Family Treatment Programme for Children with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder Linda J. Harrison, Ramesh Manocha, and Katya Rubia Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Oct 2004; 9: 479 – 497.

7. The effects of yoga on the attention and behavior of boys with Attention Deficit/hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Pauline. S. Jensen and Dianna T. Kenny

J Atten Disord, May 2004; 7: 205 – 216.

8. Yoga for anxiety: a systematic review of the research evidence • Commentary

G Kirkwood, H Rampes, V Tuffrey, J Richardson, K Pilkington, and S Ramaratnam
Br. J. Sports Med., Dec 2005; 39: 884 – 891.

Other Primary Resources

Uniting body, mind, spirit: Nicole Joseph AAP News, Dec 2004; 25: 320.

Real Men Do Yoga by John Capouya

Yoga: a Yoga Journal Book.

Resveratrol for prevention in human prostate cancer

Grapes - a greate source of resveratrolOctober 14th, 2009 – With over a decade of test tube and animal research behind resveratrolís anti-cancer benefits, it finally appears that researchers are ready to take the fast track to human clinical trials in cancer prevention and therapy. (1)

Resveratrol is abundantly found in nature in various fruits, nuts and other plants and accounts for 5 to 10% of the biomass in grape skin. (2) Over the years, resveratrol has demonstrated multiple inhibitory actions on the three stages of cancer including initiation, promotion and progression. (1-3) Part of resveratrols action in preventing initiation of cancer is from its potent anti-oxidant effect and ability to scavenge free radicals. Promotion of tumor growth appears to be inhibited by Resveratrol’s ability to exert anti-inflammatory activity through inhibition of cyclooxygenases (COX-1 and COX-2).

Resveratrol also inhibits cancer cell growth by antagonizing the action of androgens at the androgen receptor (AR) in prostate cancer cells. Whether this anti-androgenic effect of resveratrol has effects on AR in muscle, fat or mammary tissue remains to be seen.

-Eric Potratz
Founder & President


References

1. CancerPrevention and Treatment withResveratrol: From Rodent Studies to Clinical Trials
Anupam Bishayee
CancerPrevention Research,May 2009; 2: 409 – 418

2. Resveratrol: A Candidate Nutritional Substance for Prostate
Cancer Prevention
Jubilee R et al.
J Nutr.2003 Jul;133(7 Suppl):2440S-2443S

3. Resveratrol inhibits the expression and function of the androgen receptor in LNCaP prostate cancer cells.
Mitchell, S. H. et al.
Cancer Res. 59: 5892-5895. (1999)

Resveratrol better than Viagra?

Resveratrol Better Than Viagra

October 14th, 2009 – Drugs like Viagra (Sildenafil citrate) and Cialis (Tadalafil) are used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) by increasing blood flow to the erectile tissue in the penis known as the corpus cavernosum.

These drugs increase blood flow to erectile tissue by inhibiting the phosphodiesterase enzymes (PDE5 & 6), which prolongs the action of cGMP in the smooth muscle tissue, increasing the dilation response from nitric oxide (NO) release. However, inhibition of the phosphodiesterase enzyme system has effects across the entire body and can lead to side-effects including headache, skin flushing, nasal congestion and muscle aches. (1) These are very unwelcome side-effects when trying to stimulate sexual arousal.

New research suggests that resveratrol can also trigger erections by promoting blood flow to the erectile tissue in the penis. (2) This vasodilatory effect appears to occur within minutes of resveratrol exposure, suggesting that supplementation may provide a quick temporary boost in sexual performance. (3)

Evidence suggests that resveratrol does not have the side-effects typically associated with popular ED drugs. Resveratrol improves vasodilation by multiple cellular mechanisms, and does not negatively inhibit the phosphodiesterase enzyme system, which can lead to unwanted side-effects. (3) Whether or not resveratrol is a worthy substitute to powerful prescription drugs such as Viagra and Cialis remains to be determined.

-Eric Potratz
Founder & President


References

1. [Sildenafil (Viagra) in erectile dysfunction. Effective treatment with noteworthy side effects]
C Rolf and E Nieschlag
Dtsch Med Wochenschr, Nov 1998; 123(45): 1356-61.

2. trans-Resveratrol relaxes the corpus cavernosum ex vivo and enhances testosterone levels and sperm quality in vivo.
Shin S, Jeon JH, Park D, Jang MJ, Choi JH, Choi BH, Joo SS, Nahm SS, Kim JC, Kim YB.
Arch Pharm Res. 2008 Jan;31(1):83-7.

2. Resveratrol, a component of red wine, elicits dilation of isolated porcine retinal arterioles: role of nitric oxide and potassium channels.
Nagaoka T, Hein TW, Yoshida A, Kuo L.
Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2007 Sep;48(9):4232-9.

Hawthorn Berry in Treating High Blood Pressure

Hawthorn berryOctober 14th, 2009 – Hawthorn berry (Crateagus oxycanthus) is used as an herbal supplement to help improve the functioning of the cardiovascular system, and has shown a unique function in lowering blood pressure in hypertensive subjects.

A collaboration of several different studies involving 855 patients using hawthorn extract, in addition to conventional treatments for chronic heart failure, show increased exercise ability, lower oxygen consumption by the heart, and less fatigue. (1) In another trial, 92 men and women, all with mild hypertension, were given hawthorn extract or a placebo three times a day for three months. The individuals receiving the extract had a significant decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure at the end of the three months when compared to the placebo group. (2)

The active compounds found in hawthorn responsible for this drop in blood pressure are procyanidins and flavonoids (specifically hyperoside). (3) Procyanidins found in hawthorn help increase nitric oxide (NO) release to stimulate NO mediated vaso-relaxation in the endothelial walls of blood vessels. (2) The NO molecules diffuse into vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC), leading to a series of chemical reactions that eventually increase the vasodilation of such cells. (2) Hyperoside is the flavonoid in hawthorn that contributes to the functionality of procyanidins by destroying the free radicals that would otherwise disrupt the activity of NO. (1) Contrary to what might be expected from a supplement used to treat hypertension, hawthorn has actually been observed to have beneficial effects for people with hypotension. (5) One study found that an herbal drug, of which its main component was liquid hawthorn berry extract, actually increased the systolic blood pressure of orthostatic hypotensive patients twice as much as that of the control group. (6)

-Dylan Udy


References

1. Center for the Advancement of Health.
“Herbal Remedy, Hawthorn Extract, Can Help The Heart, Review Finds.”
ScienceDaily 23 January 2008. 11 July 2009

2. Anti-hypertensive Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods
Chen, Zhen-Yu et al.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2009 57 (11), 4485-4499

3. Plants and hypotensive, antiatheromatous and coronarodilatating action
Petkov V.
Am J Chin Med 1979; 7(3): 197

4. Crataegus Special Extract WS 1442 Induces an Endothelium-Dependent, NO-mediated Vasorelaxation via eNOS-Phosphorylation at Serine 1177
Brixius, Klara et al.
Cardiovascular Drugs Therapy (2006) 20: 177-184

5. Ayurvedic & Herbal Health Medicine. ìHawthorn Berry from Bioforce.î
11 July 2009

6. Efficacy and safety of a herbal drug containing hawthorn berries and D-camphor in hypotension and orthostatic circulatory disorders/results of a retrospective epidemiologic cohort study.
Hempel B., et al.
Arzneimittelforschung, 55(8), 443-50. (2005)

Sunlight Increases Testosterone Production

Sunlight Increases Testosterone

October 14th, 2009 – Interested in boosting your testosterone levels? Try Sunlight.

Research shows that testosterone levels are highest in men during the summer months of June though July. (1) In a study involving men between the ages of 19-30, researchers found that only 1 hour of sunlight exposure stimulated luteinizing hormone (LH) production by 69.5% (2) luteinizing hormone is the primary hormone that signals the testes to increase testosterone production.

Sunlight exposure is also the main source of vitamin D production in the body, and low vitamin D levels are a good indicator of insufficient sunlight exposure. Therefore, testing for vitamin D can be an excellent way to ensure you are getting enough sunlight for optimal testosterone levels.

The take home message – Get outside as much as possible!

-Eric Potratz
Founder & President


References

1. Variation in Levels of Serum Inhibin B, Testosterone, Estradiol, Luteinizing Hormone, Follicle-Stimulating Hormone, and Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin in Monthly Samples from Healthy Men during a 17-Month Period: Possible Effects of Seasons
Anna-Maria Andersson, et al
J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab., Feb 2003; 88: 932 – 937.

2. Luteinizing hormone following light exposure in healthy young men
IY Yoon, et al.
Neurosci Lett, April 24, 2003; 341(1): 25-8

7,8-Benzoflavone Carcinogenic?

7,8-benzoflavone October 14th, 2009 – A search on Google for 7,8-benzoflavone yields a link to a blogger who appears to have the opinion that 7,8-benzoflavone is a dangerous carcinogenic substance. They based this opinion on several studies which combined high levels of well known cancer causing substances, with 7,8-benzoflavone. They provided no references showing 7,8-benzoflavone is a carcinogenic substance in and of itself.

The first reference discusses the carcinogenbenzo[a]pyreneas being highly carcinogenic and that when combined with 7,8-benzoflavone, this can increase the rate of tumor formation. While this is true, this particular study foundzero tumor formation when 7,8-benzoflavone was used alone, and it in fact inhibited tumor formation caused by the more potent carcinogen7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene(DMBA), thus offering a net protective effect against tumor formation. (1)

Other studies have also shown 7,8-benzoflavone has protective effects against cancer by inducing 2-hydroxylation of estrogens, thus increasing the clearance of estrogens and reducing cancer risk. (2-4)

Isolating flavonoids and carcinogens together in an in-vitro environment is a popular cancer research practice for studying the metabolism of cancer causing substances. Virtually all natural flavonoids (exp., quercetin, tangeretin, chrysin or nobiletin) have been found to negatively or positively metabolize carcinogenic chemicals in special test tube environments. However the research clearly shows a net anti-cancer effect from naturally occurring flavones. (5-7)

-Eric Potratz
Founder & President


References

1. Hydrocarbon Hydroxylase- and Polycyclic Hydrocarbon Tumorigenesis: Effect of the Enzyme Inhibitor 7,8-Benzoflavone on Tumorigenesis and Macromolecule Binding.
Nadao Kinoshita et al.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1972 April; 69(4): 824-828

2. Modulation of rabbit and human hepatic cytochrome P-450-catalyzed steroid hydroxylations by alpha-naphthoflavone
GE Schwab, JL Raucy and EF Johnson
Volume 33, Issue 5, pp. 493-499, 05/01/1988

3. Regioselective 2-hydroxylation of 17beta-estradiol by rat cytochrome P4501B1.
M Rahman, C Hayes Sutter, GL Emmert, and TR Sutter
Toxicol Appl Pharmacol, November 1, 2006; 216(3): 469-78.

4. Naturally occurring coumarins inhibit 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene DNA adduct formation in mouse mammary gland
Misty Prince, Cheryl T. Campbell, Taylor A. Robertson, Amy J. Wells, and Heather E. Kleiner
Carcinogenesis, Jun 2006; 27: 1204 – 1213.

5. Dietary Flavonoids and the Risk of Colorectal Cancer
Evropi Theodoratou, et al.
Cancer Epidemiol. Biomarkers Prev., Apr 2007; 16: 684 – 693

6. Flavonoids and the Risk of Oral and Pharyngeal Cancer: A
Case-Control Study from Italy
Lagiou, et al.
Cancer Epidemiol. Biomarkers Prev., Aug 2007; 16: 1621 – 1625.

7. A Review of the Epidemiological Evidence on Tea, Flavonoids, and Lung Cancer
Ilja C. W. Arts
J. Nutr., Aug 2008; 138: 1561S – 1566S

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