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
A myriad of dietary supplements make their way to the market labeled as “healthy” for the public. However, many contain dangerous substances, including steroids, and consumers have no idea they are taking harmful substances. Supplement Safety Now, a public protection initiative, was founded by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to make sure over-the-counter supplements are safe for consumers. For more information, read more about this initiative.
Salmon is commonly touted for its omega-3 fatty acids. HPRC recently received a question about what foods other than salmon are the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. For a complete answer, including the recommended intakes from the American Heart Association, please see HPRC’s answer.
Many adverse events associated with dietary supplement use go unreported. HPRC has developed one page information resources on how to report adverse events. Warfighters and their families can follow the directions for reporting adverse events to MedWatch (FDA) and Natural Medicines Watch. In addition to these sites, Health care providers can follow step by step directions for reporting via AHLTA.
Apple juice containing arsenic has been a topic in the news recently. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has put together questions and answers to assist the public in sorting through the information. The FDA’s conclusion is that apple juice is safe to drink. More information is available in FDA: Apple Juice Safe To Drink.
Apidexin is a weight-loss supplement that contains vitamin B12, chromax (a form of chromium), and a proprietary blend of various ingredients. One of the ingredients is guggul, which has been associated with side effects such as headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, skin reactions, and more. Other ingredients in Apidexin with known side effects are Irvingia gabonensis and DiCaffeine Malate. Both been associated with headaches and difficulty sleeping, and the latter also can increase heart rate and raise blood pressure. And keep in mind that there’s no data on how all of these ingredients might act together. For more detailed information, read HPRC’s Answer to a recent question about the side effects of Apidexin.
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.
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: