Welcome to the HPRC Blog. We've got lots of information here, from quick tips to in-depth posts about detailed human performance optimization topics.
HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition
Vitamin C is a nutrient found in citrus fruits, broccoli, strawberries, cantaloupe, tomatoes, other fruits and vegetables, as well as fortified 100% fruit juices. Among other things, it acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, which your body produces as it converts food into energy. How much you need depends on your age. For the average recommended daily amounts and other information about vitamin C, read the Office of Dietary Supplements Quick Fact Sheet.
Looking for programs to help manage your weight? The Human Performance Resource Center just posted its new “Fighting Weight Strategies” page, where we have compiled a list of programs and resources, arranged by service, for maintaining overall health and body weight. You can find these helpful resources by going to the Fighting Weight Strategies page of HPRC’s website.
HPRC recently wrote about “The Lure of Jack3d” and answered a “Question from the Field” about . Jack3d is marketed as a pre-workout supplement and OxyElite Pro is marketed as a fat-burner product. Both contain the ingredient 1,3-dimethylamylamine (DMAA). Since we last wrote about both products, there have been new reports about DMAA.
Makers of Jack3d and OxyElite Pro claim that DMAA is a “natural constituent” of the geranium plant. DMAA was originally patented as a drug in the U.S. by Lilly in the 1940s. Since then, it has been identified on many product labels (especially on sport, energy, and weight-loss products) as being derived from geranium oil, stem, or extract, but review of the scientific literature has not substantiated this claim. To date, there is no credible scientific data that establishes the presence of methylhexanamine in geranium. Recently, the American Herbal Products Association announced that products containing DMAA (which can also be seen on labels as 1,3-dimethlypentlyamine, methylhexaneamine, or MHA, in addition to 1,3-dimethylamylamine) should be labeled as such and not as geranium oil or any part of the geranium plant. Health Canada has clarified that DMAA is a drug and must go through appropriate drug approval processes before it is used in any product. The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has long warned athletes about dietary supplements and more recently about the inclusion of methylhexaneamine in products under the guise of “geranium”; USADA has recently issued an advisory to athletes. There are questions about whether DMAA may be legally included in dietary supplements, since there is no credible evidence that it is present in geranium and it has not gone through the New Dietary Ingredient notification process with the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore, caution is advised when considering whether to use a product that contains this ingredient. Please be aware that such products may be sold in large retail nutrition outlets and on the Internet.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has issued an Athlete Advisory regarding methylhexaneamine, a prohibited stimulant. After reports that many athletes have tested positive for this stimulant, USADA is advising athletes to be cautious about taking supplements with methylhexaneamine, also referred to on labels as 1,3-dimethylamylamine (DMAA), dimethylpentylamine (DMP 4-methylhexan-2-amine), Geranamine, and geranium oil, extract, or stems and leaves. For more information, read the USADA Athletic Advisory.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has published a new study reporting four lifestyle factors that are linked to a healthier and longer life. The CDC suggests that people keep or adopt the following lifestyle behaviors: Don’t smoke, limit daily consumption of alcohol, exercise regularly, and make healthier eating choices. Read more about how these lifestyle factors can lead to a healthier life.
Most people understand what it means to have high blood pressure, excess fat around the middle, a high cholesterol level, and the importance of addressing these health problems. What some may not realize is how serious the situation becomes when a person has been diagnosed with three or more such conditions in conjunction with other health issues.
This occurrence is called metabolic syndrome.
People who suffer from this combination of conditions (a reported one in four—50 million in the United States alone) have a dramatically increased risk for developing heart disease, type-2 diabetes, or a stroke. Individually, these symptoms pose a health risk, but identified together they raise the risk for cardiovascular disease.
Metabolic syndrome is characterized by a cluster of symptoms that include excess fat in the abdominal area (as measured by waist circumference), borderline or high blood pressure, high cholesterol that fosters plaque buildup in arteries, insulin resistance or glucose intolerance indicating the body can’t properly use insulin, raising blood sugar levels, and the presence of a protein in the blood, which can cause inflammation.
People with metabolic syndrome have at least three of the following risk factors:
- Excessive body fat around the waist
- Low levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol
- High levels of triglycerides (a type of blood fat)
- Elevated blood pressure
- Elevated glucose (blood sugar) levels after fasting
The complications of metabolic syndrome are serious and, if not addressed, can cause major health problems. If you are overweight and don't yet have these problems, keep in mind that the older you get, the more likely you are to develop them. Older adults can develop metabolic syndrome without being overweight, so it is important to get annual physical exams.
What can be done to prevent metabolic syndrome? If you are fall into the categories above or are overweight, one way to reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome is to incorporate healthy habits such as starting an exercise regimen. (But be sure to consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have not been active for a while.)
Diet is also key to reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome. By making small changes in your diet—such as decreasing the number of calories you take in per day; eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, and low-fat meals, and avoiding fast/fried/fatty/oily foods—you can reduce your chances of developing metabolic syndrome.
If you would like to know more about metabolic syndrome, we recommend the following resources:
According to an Associated Press article from August 2, 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned the manufacturer of the melatonin-laced brownies known as "Lazy Cakes" that the government considers them unsafe and could seize them from store shelves. The brownies were originally sold under the name Lazy Cakes, but the manufacturer of the product has changed the product name to Lazy Larry.
The FDA said that melatonin has not been found to be safe for use in conventional foods. “On the contrary, reports in the scientific literature have raised safety concerns about the use of melatonin,” said the letter, sent last Thursday by the agency’s acting director for the Office of Compliance. Melatonin is not approved for use in any food, the FDA said.
HBB, LCC, the Memphis-based company that makes Lazy Cakes/Lazy Larry, was given 15 days to respond to the FDA with details on specific steps it would take to correct its violation of the ban against melatonin use in food.
It should be noted that the HPRC has been covering Lazy Cakes since they first became available.
With the rise of obesity among children, restaurants are stepping up to help combat the issue by offering healthier menu items for children. Focusing more on fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and low-fat dairy items, the new initiative “Kids LiveWell” is working with restaurants to offer meals that are lower in unhealthy fats, added sugars, and sodium. Read more about this initiative at Kids LiveWell.
Cytosport, Inc. was cited for having false or misleading label and website claims in violation of several points of federal law for several products, including “Chocolate Muscle Milk Protein Nutrition Shake,” “Vanilla Crème Muscle Milk Light Nutritional Shake,” and “Chocolate Peanut Caramel Muscle Milk.” The company is in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and is required to take specific actions to correct the violations. More information is provided in the FDA Warning Letter.
In a recent Healthy Tip, we briefly described a notable article in the June 2011 New England Journal of Medicine about long-term weight gain. The 20-year study involved more than 120,000 healthy men and woman of normal weight. All were examined at four-year intervals and were found to have gained an average of almost a pound a year. That doesn’t seem like much—unless you consider that if you’re a fit 160 pounds at age 30, you’ll have put on 20 pounds by age 50. At that point your extra weight may be compounded by diabetes, bad joints, heart disease, and perhaps even cancer—all of which are associated with obesity. So now you’re forced to find ways to lose weight.
Wouldn’t it have been better to maintain a healthy weight all along? Some of the study’s observations regarding food choices and exercise might prove helpful in maintaining your weight as you age.
The study found that some foods were significantly associated with weight gain: potato products such as potato chips and French fries, sugary beverages (sodas, for example), red meat, processed meat products, and refined grains. On the other hand, foods associated with no weight gain were vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and yogurt.
Other factors found to be associated with weight were physical activity (increase = no gain in weight); alcohol consumption (increase = weight gain); sleep habits (less than six or more than eight hours per night = weight gain); and TV habits (more TV = weight gain), a correlation that seemed partly due to more snacking (Superbowl, anyone?) and less activity.
A single change in diet or lifestyle had less effect than several together. It makes sense that if you exercise less and eat more foods associated with weight gain, you’ll gain weight more easily than if you exercise less but still eat well.
Why some foods seem to contribute to weight gain more than others is still not fully understood, but it probably has a lot to do with what makes us feel satisfied when we eat. High-calorie food and drink that go down fast and easy and quickly enter our bloodstream may not make us feel full when we consume them, so we tend to eat more of them. High-fiber foods like fruits and vegetables fill us up and are low in calories. Even high-fiber nuts, which tend to have a lot of calories, are associated with no weight gain, perhaps because they satisfy us and keep us from eating candy and cake that do cause weight gain. Yogurt is an interesting case, since there has been a lot of interest lately in probiotics (bacteria felt to contribute positively to our health). Perhaps yogurt changes the bacterial flora in a way that contributes to weight stability and loss.
The reason we discuss this study in more depth is twofold. First, it highlights the fact that Americans have a tendency to gain weight as they get older. Knowing that, we can be vigilant of what we eat and how active we are in order to help prevent this weight gain. Second, it warns us of the most common food offenders to avoid—and those to embrace—and underscores the concept that weight is a balance between the calories we consume (foods and beverages we eat) and the calories we expend (physical activity). Make sure you find the proper balance when you’re young, so you won’t be overweight—and perhaps sick—when you’re older.