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HPRC Blog

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.

The effect of combat on communication

Combat is stressful. Here are some tips that can help you overcome the impact of combat on your relationships.

Being in combat is physically, emotionally, and mentally stressful. Part of the body's natural stress response is to remain on high alert in order to have a better chance of staying alive. This can lower your tolerance for relationship disagreements and can cause irritability and conflict. The following are some tips to help you overcome the effects of combat on your interactions with loved ones:

  • Practice emotion management strategies prior to and after communicating with your loved ones to help you calm down first.
  • If you are upset, wait to communicate with your loved ones rather than writing or saying something in the heat of the moment.
  • Describe your feelings and thoughts starting with "I.” I-statements are more personal and reduce feelings of blame.
  • Focus on the communication interaction between you and your partner, not just on the way that one or the other of you communicates.
  • Compliment each other!

FDA News Release: Illegal drug claims banned for chelation products

HPRC Fitness Arena: Dietary Supplements, Nutrition
New York dietary supplement manufacturer agrees to remove drug claims from his website.

New York dietary supplement manufacturer Howard Sousa, of Artery Health Institute LLC and DeSousa LLC, has agreed to remove drug claims on his company’s website. Sousa’s Advanced EDTA Oral Chelation capsules were promoted on the website as drugs since the marketing language made disease treatment claims. More information is provided in the FDA News Release.

FDA News Release: Drug residues in veal calves

HPRC Fitness Arena: Dietary Supplements, Nutrition
Veal calves sold as food contain illegal drug residues.

Virtue Calves was cited for selling veal calves that contain illegal drug residues, which is in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The company is now required to keep careful records of which animals have been medicated so that illegal drug residues do not enter the food supply. More information is provided in the FDA News Release.

New report focuses on psychological resilience within the U.S. military

HPRC Fitness Arena: Total Force Fitness
The RAND Corporation has released a report identifying factors that promote mental resilience within the U.S. military.

A new DoD-sponsored report titled Promoting Psychological Resilience in the U.S. Military has been released by RAND Corporation and is available in full-text print and downloadable pdf formats. The RAND National Defense Research Institute (RAND NDRI) conducted a focused literature review to identify individual, family, unit and community-level factors for promoting psychological resilience. The study also included a review of resilience programs.

The full report can be downloaded from the RAND website.

Sleep as a child is linked to body weight as an adult

HPRC Fitness Arena: Family & Relationships
Children under age 11 who don't get enough sleep are more likely to become overweight as adults.

The amount of sleep a person gets prior to the age of 11 has been associated with adult body weight.  A 2008 study in the Journal of Pediatrics of 1037 individuals found that shorter sleep times at age 5, 7, 9, and 11 were associated with higher Body Mass Index (BMI) at age 32. This relationship does not depend on BMI as a child, socioeconomic status, TV watching, adult physical activity and smoking, and BMI of a person’s parents.

Herbal products: Important information to know

HPRC Fitness Arena: Dietary Supplements
Herbal products are advertised as “natural," but are they safe? The American Academy of Family Physicians has some answers to important questions.

There are many herbal products available to consumers, yet it is difficult to determine if they are safe. The American Academy of Family Physicians provides answers to questions about herbal product use, potential dangers with specific health problems, and possible drug interactions. A helpful chart about interactions between herbal products and supplements is also available.

HPRC's year in review

HPRC Fitness Arena: Total Force Fitness
HPRC has had a banner year developing its “one-stop shop” to help our Warfighters achieve Total Force Fitness through Human Performance Optimization.

What has the Human Performance Resource Center (HPRC) been doing this past year to make our Warfighters safer? A lot! HPRC has a number of missions, but the most important one—and the one that all of HPRC’s other tasks support—is to provide evidence-based information on Human Performance Optimization (HPO). HPO involves giving our Warfighters the training and information they need to effectively carry out their missions in any environment, with the resilience to avoid injury and illness and the ability to recover quickly if injured or ill. As it turns out, HPO embodies all the domains of Total Force Fitness (TFF)—physical fitness, nutrition, dietary supplements, extreme environments, family/social issues, and psychological fitness—that ADM Mullen is asking the services to embrace.

Some of the accomplishments of HPRC this year are:

  1. Responding to questions from the field (mostly from Warfighters and providers) at the average rate of one per day and growing. These questions cover topics such as proper hydration, dietary supplement use, sleep requirements, managing altitude sickness, how to beat heat illness, and fitness fueling. Every question answered has the potential of protecting our Warfighters from inaccurate commercial information and harmful practices and of increasing their resilience.
  2. Overseeing a workgroup of subject matter experts (SMEs) who developed a white paper on High-Intensity Training that helps put in perspective the information available on these popular training programs. A scientific paper will be published in the near future.
  3. Overseeing the workgroup of SMEs who are developing the concept of Total Force Fitness for ADM Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  4. Developing and expanding a website that is now servicing more than a thousand people a week by supplying needed information on HPO and TFF.
  5. Supplying “healthy tips” to entities such as the Uniformed Services publication The Pulse and the Military Times.
  6. Partnering with multiple organizations across the services and DoD to help collaborate and coordinate efforts in HPO/TFF.

These examples provide a good snapshot of the activity level at HPRC. The staff and volunteer SMEs are working hard to make our Warfighters safer and more resilient to both physical and mental trauma. Who could ask for a better mission?

Not all sunscreens are created equal

HPRC Fitness Arena: Environment, Total Force Fitness
The FDA is taking steps to protect and educate consumers about sun exposure and sunscreen products. Choose "broad spectrum" products for greatest protection.

Warfighters are deployed to all kinds of environments, including hot and dry conditions where sun exposure is a concern. Choosing a "broad-spectrum" product that protects against sunburn, skin cancer, and premature skin aging is important, but product labeling can be confusing. Now, however, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking steps to regulate the labeling of sunscreen products in order to help consumers choose a product that will protect them from sun damage to the skin.

The new measures include a regulation, effective one year from now, that requires sunscreens to undergo a standard test if they want to be labeled as a “broad spectrum” product. Those that pass the test will be allowed to use “broad spectrum” on their packaging, which indicates a product that provides protection against both ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) and ultraviolet A radiation (UVA). UVB rays are primarily responsible for sunburn, but both UVA and UVB rays are harmful and can cause sunburn, skin cancer, and premature skin aging.

Other provisions in the FDA regulation include:

  • A warning about the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging on the labels of sunscreen products that are not broad spectrum.
  • The amount of time the consumer can expect protection from a product with water resistance claims must be stated on the front label. The FDA, based on standard testing, will allow either a 40-minute or 80-minute timeframe on labels.
  • Products will no longer be allowed make a claim of “waterproof” or “sweatproof” or use the term “sunblock,” nor can they make the claim of immediate or instant protection or protection for more than two hours without reapplication.

Additional measures regarding the labeling of sunscreen products have been proposed. To learn more, view the FDA’s full article.

Do you really need to take a multivitamin?

HPRC Fitness Arena:
Do you really need to take a multivitamin? How can you be sure that you’re taking the right one, or if you even need to take one at all?

A recent Wall Street Journal article reported on multivitamin use, the issue of what one actually needs to take, and understanding what is on the labels. The article asks the basic question: Do you really need a multivitamin? And what exactly should a person be looking for in a multivitmin?

According to the article, there is no generic, one-size-fits-all multivitamin that is capable of meeting every nutritional need, and factors such as age, gender, diet and health determine what vitamins a person should take, if any. Adding to the confusion is inconsistent vitamin labeling for consumers as well as the manufacturers who tailor product brands for different population segments.


How families can benefit from the USDA’s switch to MyPlate

The USDA’s new MyPlate program is designed to make learning about and practicing healthy eating habits more appealing and more fun for all members of the family.

The USDA announced on June 2, 2011, that its classic food guide Pyramid is being replaced with the easy-to-understand and interactive MyPlate. Using a “familiar mealtime visual,” MyPlate is intended to remind Americans about balancing meals with the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. Based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, notable changes to the new guide are the inclusion of more fruits and vegetables, less grains, and the re-categorization of oils as providing “essential nutrients” but not appearing on the plate.

The result is a simple visual graphic of a balanced meal that families can use as a tool to make sure the portions of the major food groups are covered in meals. The simplicity of the graphic helps ALL family members, especially children, become more engaged in what and how much they should be eating. An interactive plate on the MyPlate website allows users to click on each section of the plate, which then displays a page for the selected food group with description, key message, and a list with pictures of single-serving sizes of some common foods in that group. These changes allow families to easily identify what a healthy, balanced meal looks like. Also featured is an Interactive Tools section that enables users to develop personalized plans and learn about specific healthy food choices. When all family members know the basics of healthy eating, mealtime can truly be a shared event.

MyPlate can also encourage family discussions about healthy foods, which can help develop good eating habits by all members of a family. For example, you can find out if there are any particular foods that family members like or dislike, and then find and offer alternatives in the specific food group of a disliked item. This will help eliminate the likelihood that someone will skip the essential healthy components of a meal. Get everyone excited and involved during mealtime! Fun meals shared as a family can promote healthy eating habits for children that they can carry into adulthood and can reinforce family bonding.

Keep in mind that MyPlate isn’t designed as strict rule to be followed—it’s perfectly fine to have dairy products directly on the plate instead of in a cup. Desserts, which are currently placed in the “Empty Calories” section, are okay when consumed in moderation in appropriate portions. You may still have to seek out other sources for how to prepare foods in healthy ways and to determine for the nutrition content of many food items. The information on MyPlate should be used as a tool to build a foundation of knowledge about food choices and help set healthy eating goals for your family. Families should take this change as an opportunity to get the entire family involved in healthy eating.

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