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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

Relaxation beverages: Don’t believe the hype

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A new wave of beverage products is gaining attention, aimed at helping us relax, reducing our anxiety, and helping us sleep.

We’ve seen all the recent news and reports about energy drinks and the concern about the amount of caffeine in these products. Now a new wave of products is gaining attention, aimed at helping us relax, reducing our anxiety, and helping us sleep. These “relaxation beverages,” or “anti-energy drinks,” contain ingredients such as melatonin, valerian root, kava, St. John’s Wort, L-theanine, rose hips, and chamomile. A great number of relaxation beverages have been introduced into the market over the last three years, with names such as “Dream Water,” “iChill,” “Vacation in a Bottle,” and “Unwind.” Consumers of any age can buy these drinks in convenience stores, college campuses, and online.

Part of the problem with these relaxation drinks is that some of their ingredients, particularly melatonin, have not gone through the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval process required for all food ingredients to be designated as safe or GRAS (“generally recognized as safe”). Melatonin is a hormone made by the body, but it is also available as a supplement and is often used to treat sleep disorders and jet lag. The FDA sent a warning letter last year to the manufacturers of the “Drank” beverage saying, “there is no food additive regulation in effect that provides for the safe use of melatonin…Likewise, we are not aware of any basis to conclude that melatonin is GRAS for use in conventional foods.” The manufacturers of “Drank” want their product to be classified as a dietary supplement, not as a beverage, since the FDA scrutinizes foods and beverages much more closely than dietary supplements.

People who have liver problems, liver disease, or are taking prescription drugs should be cautious about using the herb kava, an ingredient found in some of these relaxation drinks. Kava has been linked to severe liver injury, and the FDA issued a consumer advisory in 2002 with a warning that kava-containing dietary supplement products have been associated with liver-related injuries, including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure. Valerian root, a medicinal herb, is used to treat sleep disorders as well as anxiety. Although some research has been conducted on the effects of valerian on insomnia, the data are mixed, and no studies have tested the safety and effectiveness of the combination of ingredients found in relaxation beverages.

The marketing of relaxation drinks is also of concern, as it is geared toward a younger crowd, with bottles resembling the look of popular energy drinks and shots. The concern is that young adults will think nothing of having more than one of these a day. Some of these beverages have warnings on their labels stating that users should not consume them before operating/driving machinery or if pregnant or nursing.

What’s the bottom line? Buyers beware! There’s no magic pill, and there’s no magic beverage. Try to determine the causes of your stress and/or insomnia, address those issues, and then work towards establishing a healthy lifestyle overall.

Are military mess halls hurting our Armed Forces?

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Slate.com has an opinion piece on the Army's "Soldier Athlete" food program that was initiated last fall.

Slate.com has an opinion piece on the Army's "Soldier Athlete" food program that was initiated last fall in cafeterias at Fort Jackson in South Carolina; Fort Sill in Oklahoma; Fort Knox in Kentucky; Fort Benning in Georgia, and Fort Leonard Wood, in Missouri—the five bases where the Army's 10-week basic training sessions take place.

Click below to access the article:

Unhealthy military mess halls are hurting our armed forces.

Consume less salt

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The daily recommended intake has gone down.

The American Heart Association recently reduced the recommended daily intake of sodium, or salt, to 1500 mg or less per day. High salt intake is associated with increased risk of blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease and many Americans are at risk. Read about daily recommendations and the benefits of consuming less salt by clicking here.

2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

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The online version of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is now available.

The online version of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is now available. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans establishes the scientific and policy basis for all Federal nutrition programs, including research, education, nutrition assistance, labeling, and nutrition promotion.

Click on the link below to access the guideline. The guidelines are located on the HPRC Nutrition page and can be found under "The Basics" tab.

2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Choose a variety of foods for adequate calcium intake

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Your body needs calcium for optimal bone health and a number of other functions essential to daily life.

Your body needs calcium for optimal bone health and a number of other functions essential to daily life. Good food sources include: fat-free or low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt; leafy greens such as spinach and kale; and broccoli, and pinto and red beans.  Many other foods such as high fiber cereal, soy beverages, and orange juice are fortified with added calcium.  Adding these foods to your diet will improve not only your calcium intake, but many other nutrients as well!

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Prevent food poisoning

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Foodborne illness, commonly known as food poisoning, can make you feel as if you have the flu! Some tips will help you stay safe.

Foodborne illness, commonly known as food poisoning, can make you feel as if you have the flu! Symptoms often include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or fever. It’s caused by consuming foods or beverages contaminated with bacteria, parasites, or viruses. To prevent, wash your hands and surfaces; cook foods to proper temperatures; and refrigerate cooked foods promptly. For more helpful tips, click here.

First Lady visit to Fort Jackson will highlight the impact of obesity and decreased physical activity on military recruitment

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First lady Michelle Obama will visit South Carolina this week to highlight the impact of childhood obesity and decreased physical activity on military recruitment.



First Lady Michelle Obama will visit South Carolina on January 27 for the first time since moving into the White House when she comes to Fort Jackson to highlight the impact of childhood obesity and decreased physical activity on military recruitment. Ms. Obama will spend a good chunk of the day at Fort Jackson, the Army’s largest training base, where she will discuss the “Let’s Move” campaign she launched two years ago with the aim of eliminating childhood obesity in a generation.

Click below to access the article.

Michelle Obama to visit Fort Jackson

Bad eating habits: Advice to help service members eat healthier

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Bad eating habits affect both civilians and military members.



Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System (DVIDShub.net) has an article on the obesity epidemic - which is a major problem in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The article reports that bad eating habits affect both civilians and military members and provides information on how service members can improve their eating habits.

Click below to access the article.

Bad eating habits: Advice to help service members eat healthier

Read about recent nutrition and health findings

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The USDA publishes a newsletter with their latest nutrition and health information.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrition researchers publish a quarterly online newsletter with reports of discoveries from their laboratories. They also provide information on agricultural issues and health findings important to all of us. Click here to read about these recent nutrition and health findings.

What serving sizes look like

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How to eyeball a serving size for better eating

Do you know what a serving size is for different food groups?  Here are a few helpful tips for standard serving sizes:

A one-cup serving of cereal or other grain is about the size of your fist; one medium fruit is about the size of a baseball; a half-cup serving of ice cream is about half a baseball; three ounces of meat, fish or poultry is the size of a deck of cards.  For more helpful hints on serving sizes click here.

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