Friday, December 21, 2012

Bugs, The New Beef??

Would you do it?  Maybe in a smoothy?  "eat them eat them, here they are"

Mealworms: The Next High-Protein Food Source?

While beetle larvae may not seem appetizing, study finds they're more environmentally friendly than livestock

December 21, 2012 RSS Feed Print
FRIDAY, Dec. 21 (HealthDay News) -- They'll never replace the traditional Christmas ham, but mealworms (beetle larvae) may someday offer an environmentally friendly alternative to meat, a new study suggests.

Researchers in the Netherlands used three factors -- land usage, energy needs and greenhouse gas emissions -- to compare the environmental impact of mealworm farms to chicken, pork, beef or milk farms.
Compared to the other types of farming, mealworm farming produced more edible protein using the same amount of land and less energy, according to the study in the journal PLoS One.
The same team of researchers previously found that mealworms produce less greenhouse gases than other meat-producing animals.
"Since the population of our planet keeps growing, and the amount of land on this earth is limited, a more efficient, and more sustainable system of food production is needed," study author Dennis Oonincx, of the University of Wageningen, said in a journal news release.
"Now, for the first time it has been shown that mealworms, and possibly other edible insects, can aid in achieving such a system," he added.
More information
The University of Arizona has more about mealworms.
Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Footwear Trends: Should Sport & Fitness Enthusiasts Embrace the Minimalist Movement?

Link Here:

Footwear Trends: Should Sport & Fitness Enthusiasts Embrace the Minimalist Movement?

ISSN: 1543-9518


The popularity of the barefoot movement in sports and fitness activities has soared within the past few years as evidenced by a growing community of minimalist
footwear enthusiasts wearing the ‘glove’ shoes in their sporting endeavors, fitness workouts, and everyday leisure activities. This emergence
of the minimalist shoes, such as the Nike Free© and Vibram FiveFingers®, has created a wave of intrigue for those sport and fitness enthusiasts wanting
a natural running experience without being subjected to the hazards of the road. Whether running barefoot, in shoes or in minimal footwear, the trends in footwear
preference have caused much debate between researchers as to which form causes more injuries and/or best serves to enhance athletic performance. As sport and
fitness professionals, it is important to thoroughly examine the current footwear trends to develop a ‘best practices’ approach for advising our athletes
and clients.
Click above link for entire article.  It is a great summary of minimalist footwear.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Kentucky cows chow down on candy

Even the tax-payers subsidizing corn isn't a good enough deal for factory farmers.  Since we are what we eat AND we are what we eat eats - what be less nutritional than corn fed cattle?  How about candy-fed cattle?

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Cattle farmers struggling with record corn prices are feeding their cows candy instead.
That's right, candy. Cows are being fed chocolate bars, gummy worms, ice cream sprinkles, marshmallows, bits of hard candy and even powdered hot chocolate mix, according to cattle farmers, bovine nutritionists and commodities dealers.

"It has been a practice going on for decades and is a very good way to for producers to reduce feed cost, and to provide less expensive food for consumers," said Ki Fanning, a livestock nutritionist with Great Plains Livestock Consulting, Inc. in Eagle, Neb.

Feeding candy to cows has become a more popular practice in tandem with the rising price of corn, which has doubled since 2009, fueled by government-subsidized demand for ethanol and this year's drought. Thrifty and resourceful farmers are tapping into the obscure market for cast-off food ingredients. Cut-rate byproducts of dubious value for human consumption seem to make fine fodder for cows. While corn goes for about $315 a ton, ice-cream sprinkles can be had for as little as $160 a ton.

"As the price of corn has climbed, farmers either sold off their pigs and cattle, or they found alternative feeds," said Mike Yoder, a dairy farmer in Middlebury, Ind. He feeds his 400 cows bits of candy, hot chocolate mix, crumbled cookies, breakfast cereal, trail mix, dried cranberries, orange peelings and ice cream sprinkles, which are blended into more traditional forms of feed, like hay.

The farmer said that he goes over the feed menu every couple of weeks with a livestock nutritionist who advised him to cap the candy at 3% of a cow's diet. He said that the sugar in ice cream sprinkles seems to increase milk production by three pounds per cow per day.

Sugar also helps to fatten up beef cattle, according to livestock nutritionist Chuck Hurst, owner of Nutritech, Inc., in Carmen, Idaho, without any ill effects to the cow, or to the person consuming its meat or milk. He said that it's the sugar in the candy that's important, and that it provides "the same kind of energy as corn."

He added that farmers feed their cows a wide assortment of byproducts beyond candy to save money.

"One guy in Montana bought a whole carload of soda crackers as feed," he said. "He had to hire a guy to open all the boxes of soda crackers."

Yoder and other farmers buy their feed from brokers like Midwest Ingredients, Inc., of Princeville, Ill., which offers a wide assortment of byproducts, including cherry juice, fish meal, peanut butter, fruit fillings, tapioca and left-over grain from distilleries.

"The buyers of corn, or feed in general, are paying a lot of money so they're definitely out there shopping around looking for cheaper stuff," said Eric Johnson of Eagan, Minn., who owns MidWest Feed Ingredient Trading. "People are price conscious and they're resourceful. Stuff comes up and they hunt it down and try to save a little bit of money."

But there is a catch -- as the demand for candy-feed goes up, so does the price. Yoder said that he has become "more aggressive in bidding for [candy-feed] because of the high price of corn." But he added that the candy "started getting expensive because other people want it too."

Yoder said he's seen the price of sprinkles rise from $160 per ton -- which was about half the price of corn -- to about $240. But he still buys the candy.

"Any time I can make a change to save two cents or three cents a cow, that makes a difference," said Yoder. "Farming is a game of inches sometimes, or half-inches. Every little penny you can find to save, you do." 
<< no mention of nutritional value for the consumers of the cows>>

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mediterranean and low-carb diets can give lasting health benefits

Mediterranean and low-carb diets can give lasting health benefits
Last Updated: Friday, October 12, 2012,15:21

Mediterranean and low-carb diets can give lasting health benefits
Washington: Mediterranean and low-carbohydrate diets have long-lasting positive effects even with partial weight regain, according to a follow-up study by researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Israel’s Nuclear Research Center.

The results were published as an update to the landmark study, the workplace-based Dietary Intervention Randomized Controlled Trial (DIRECT), a tightly controlled 24-month dietary intervention.

Our follow-up subsequent data shows lasting, positive effects of Mediterranean and low-carbohydrate diets six years later,” said Dr. Dan Schwarzfuchs from the Nuclear Research Center Negev in Dimona, Israel,

The results suggest that the lipid profile (lower cholesterol, triglycerides and arteriosclerosis) improved for the long term, regardless of partial regain.
“Data from trials comparing the effectiveness of weight-loss diets are frequently limited to the intervention period,” explained BGU Prof. Iris Shai.

Overall six-year weight loss was significantly lower from baseline for Mediterranean and low-carbohydrate diets, but not for the low-fat group.

In the four-year post-intervention, participants regained nearly six pounds. Total weight change for the entire six-year period was approximately -7 lbs. for the Mediterranean diet and -3.7 lbs. for the low-carbohydrate diet.

After four years post-intervention, more than two-thirds (67 percent) of the DIRECT participants had continued with their original assigned diet, 11 percent switched to another diet and 22 percent were not dieting at all.
The researchers also found that after six years, the HDL/LDL ratio remained significantly lower only in the low-carbohydrate diet. Triglyceride levels remained significantly lower in the Mediterranean and low-carbohydrate diets. Overall, total cholesterol levels remained persistently and significantly lower in all diet groups as compared to baseline.
In the original study, 322 moderately obese subjects were randomly assigned to one of three diets: low-fat; restricted-calorie; Mediterranean; or low-carbohydrate, non-restricted-calorie, and were provided colour-labelled food per diet daily in the workplace cafeteria.

The two-year adherence rate was 85 percent. The results suggested beneficial metabolic effects to low-carb and Mediterranean diets
. Moreover, the researchers found a significant diet-induced regression in the carotid vessel wall volume across all diet groups. This change was mainly dependent on diet-induced reduction of blood pressure.
“This breakthrough, even years later, continues to yield valuable information that can help every one of us make healthier diet choices,” said Doron Krakow, executive vice president of American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

“It is another example of BGU and Israeli researchers, thanks to generous funding by the Atkins foundation, improving the quality of our lives,” Krakow added.

The results were published in a peer-reviewed letter in the current New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

Monday, October 15, 2012

Improve Your Stride Without Trying

By Matt Fitzgerald
Here are four training methods:
Giant Walking Lunge
Fast running requires good hip mobility. You need to dynamically achieve a high degree of hip flexion and extension to take the large strides that speed requires. The giant walking lunge is an effective exercise to develop hip mobility. To do it, simply walk forward slowly by taking the largest strides you can and lowering the knee of the trailing leg to within an inch of the floor on each stride. Focus on reaching out ahead of your body as far as you can with the striding leg. Complete 10 lunges with each leg, alternating the striding leg as you would with normal walking.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Kneel on your right knee and place your left foot on the floor well in front of your body.  Draw your navel towards your spine and roll your pelvis backward.  Now put your weight forward into the lunge until you feel a good stretch in your right hip flexors (located where your thigh joins your pelvis).  You can enhance the stretch by raising your right arm over your head and actively reaching towards the ceiling.  Hold the stretch for 20 seconds and then repeat on the left side.
Single-Leg Running
Studies have shown that plyometrics training (or jumping drills) improves running economy by reducing ground contact time and increasing the capacity of the legs to capture and reuse energy absorbed through impact. Few runners care to make time to add plyometrics workouts to their training regimen. But you don’t have to. Instead, incorporate some single-leg running into one or two of the runs you’re already doing every week. Start by running on just your right leg for 10 strides and then on just your left leg for 10 strides. Gradually increase the number of strides you do on each leg until you reach 30 strides per leg. You will notice that it gets easier to go longer on one leg, which is a sign that your legs are adapting to the stress and your stride is becoming more efficient.
Steep Hill Sprints
If you have never done a steep hill sprint before, you should not leap into a set of 10 of steep hill sprints the very first time you try them.  These efforts place a tremendous stress on the muscles and connective tissues.  Thus, the careless beginner is at some risk of suffering a muscle or tendon strain or another such acute injury when performing steep hill sprints.  Once your legs have adapted to the stress they impose, steep hill sprints actually protect against injury.  But you must proceed with caution until you get over the hump of those early adaptations.
Your very first session, performed after completion of an easy run, should consist of just one or two 8-second sprints on a steep incline of approximately six percent.  If you don’t know what a six-percent gradient looks or feels like, get on a treadmill and adjust the incline to six percent.  Then find a hill that matches it.
Your first session will stimulate physiological adaptations that serve to better protect your muscles and connective tissues from damage in your next session.  Known to exercise scientists as the “repeated bout effect,” these adaptations occur very quickly.  If you do your first steep hill sprints on a Monday, you will be ready to do another session by Thursday—and you will almost certainly experience less muscle soreness after this second session.
Thanks to the repeated bout effect, you can increase your steep hill sprint training fairly rapidly and thereby develop strength and stride power quickly.  First, increase the number of eight-second sprints you perform by two per session per week.  Once you’re doing eight to 10 sprints, move to 10-second sprints and a steeper, eight-percent hill.  After a few more weeks, advance to 12-second sprints on a 10-percent hill.  Always allow yourself the opportunity to recovery fully between individual sprints within a session.  In other words, rest long enough so that you are able to cover just as much distance in the next sprint as you did in the previous one.  Simply walking back down the hill you just ran up should do the trick, but if you need more time, take it.
Most runners will achieve as much strength and power improvement as they can get by doing 10 to 12 hill sprints of 12 seconds each, twice a week.  Once you have reached this level and have stopped gaining strength and power, you can cut back to one set of 10 to 12 hill sprints per week.  This level of maximum power training will suffice to maintain your gains through the remainder of the training cycle.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Gut Flora and the Modern Western Diet

Easier isn't necessarily better.  I frequently 'dish out' the advice: "I'd avoid that because it's too easy to digest".  I use the analogy would you choose a college based on how easy it is?  Working for things yields better results.  This is true for food selections as well.  All the processing of grains, sugars, and even processed protein sources have smaller surface area and are digested sooner in the gut than nature intended.  

Below is a great technical explanation of this phenomenon Link here

Gut microbiota, immune development and function.


Division of Surgery & Interventional Science, University College London, 4th floor, 74 Huntley Street, London WC1E 6AU, United Kingdom. Electronic address:


The microbiota of Westerners is significantly reduced in comparison to rural individuals living a similar lifestyle to our Paleolithic forefathers but also to that of other free-living primates such as the chimpanzee. The great majority of ingredients in the industrially produced foods consumed in the West are absorbed in the upper part of small intestine and thus of limited benifit to the microbiota. Lack of proper nutrition for microbiota is a major factor under-pinning dysfunctional microbiota, dysbiosis, chronically elevated inflammation, and the production and leakage of endotoxins through the various tissue barriers. Furthermore, the over comsumption of insulinogenic foods and proteotoxins, such as advanced glycation and lipoxidation molecules, gluten and zein, and a reduced intake of fruit and vegetables, are key factors behind the commonly observed elevated inflammation and the endemic of obesity and chronic diseases, factors which are also likely to be detrimental to microbiota. As a consequence of this lifestyle and the associated eating habits, most barriers, including the gut, the airways, the skin, the oral cavity, the vagina, the placenta, the blood-brain barrier, etc., are increasingly permeable. Attempts to recondition these barriers through the use of so called 'probiotics', normally applied to the gut, are rarely successful, and sometimes fail, as they are usually applied as adjunctive treatments, e.g. in parallel with heavy pharmaceutical treatment, not rarely consisting in antibiotics and chemotherapy. It is increasingly observed that the majority of pharmaceutical drugs, even those believed to have minimal adverse effects, such as proton pump inhibitors and anti-hypertensives, in fact adversely affect immune development and functions and are most likely also deleterious to microbiota. Equally, it appears that probiotic treatment is not campatable with pharmacological treatments. Eco-biological treatments, with plant-derived substances, or phytochemicals, e.g. curcumin and resveratrol, and pre-, pro- and syn-biotics offers similar effects as use of biologicals, although milder but also free from adverse effects. Such treatments should be tried as alternative therapies; mainly, to begin with, for disease prevention but also in early cases of chronic diseases. Pharmaceutical treatment has, thus far, failed to inhibit the tsunami of endemic diseases spreading around the world, and no new tools are in sight. Dramatic alterations, in direction of a paleolithic-like lifestyle and food habits, seem to be the only alternatives with the potential to control the present escalating crisis. The present review focuses on human studies, especially those of clinical relevance.
Copyright © 2012. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Running Strong–With Shorter Stride

((We have spoke about cadence before:

Harvard Prof. Dan Lieberman Running Strong–With Shorter Stride

He told me a story about Harvard Business School professor Paul Gompers, who I had written about for Runner's World in early 1988 when Gompers was a physiology student in Oxford, England. That spring, Gompers finished fourth in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in New Jersey, and had a lifetime best of 2:11:38. He quit competitive running four or five years later, and apparently has had knee problems in recent years.
"Paul was a terrible over strider, so I brought him into the lab and showed him how his impact forces changed when he switched to a forefoot strike," said Lieberman. "He made the transition smoothly, and now he's running healthy again."
After three or four years in the middle of the barefoot/minimalist running debate, Lieberman says he’s disgusted with the low quality of the discussion. “I don’t think there's anything wrong or magical about a heel strike or a forefoot strike,” he says. “We’re just trying to gather information, and we’re always careful to explain the limits of the data we have. But others rush in and jump to unsupported conclusions. Everyone wants a simple answer. Sorry, but the answers aren’t simple.”

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Training Volume Is It THAT Simple?

Is it as simple as time training = better performance.  if you're a part time runner, you'll just have to live with part time performance?  

Big races coming in this area and it's got me 'athinking.  'Training volume' is it an aggregate indicator of how you finish in a race?  Picture this: The army 10-mile'r about 20-25,000 finishers.  Imagine the finish in a single file line.  Could you take a picture of them in single file and draw a circle around each group of 100 runners and write the average training miles (or weekly time invested) next to each group and see a definite trend of training volume to finishing times?  Is it as simple as finishers 1-101 trained 'xxhours/week, the next hundred averaged xx-1 hours/week, and so on?  Maybe the 10-miler is too short to see a definite trend, how about a big city marathon, or an ultra (like Comrades)?

This is easily true at the extremes.  Those that plan to walk these races probably have zero to 'a couple miles' a week under their belts - and those finishing at the top logged up to 100s of miles a week.  I'm generalizing here, many athletes have differing histories of volume, better/worse genetics, etc etc.  but could logging miles be the 'key' in endurance sports?  

I found this helpful study on finishers of the Comrades Ultra (Link Here).  Form the piece:
Those with the fastest times (6 to 6.5 hrs) had done 2574km (1600miles) and the 10 to 11 hrs finishers 1030km (640mi) <<miles done in the 6mos leading up to the race>>. The current elite runners claim to run in excess of 3000 to 3500 km (1864-2174mi) in preparation for the marathon, which is similar to what runners were doing twenty years ago.
 …<also note>Despite their high training load the male silver medallists were the least likely to have spent a week off due to injury and illness (28.6%) - but then the corollary is that this would have allowed them to complete a higher total mileage.  The majority of the men who finished in over 10 and over 11 hours (76% and 58% respectively) had been unable to train due to injury or illness.  Likewise, the women who finished in under 9 hrs had the least compromised training (15.1% were unable to train for a week or more) while up to 50% of the women in all the other medal groups had been affected.  Six of the seven women who did not finish had been ill and/or injured and their total training mileage was lower than any other group in the study.
In table form, years of experience running, and training volume in the 6mos leading up until the race.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Training volume equals performance and training volume equals less injury rates.  If you're competitive, it is your job to accept how much time you have to train and that is most likely to determine how you race (or be injured ...more on this later!).  

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Dreaded Side Stitch

Depends largely on intensity of activity, but you've only got so much blood to go around.  If your legs want blood to move, you'll turn off other less important bodily functions. In our ancestral past, running meant surviving, so yeah it's ranked high on the priority list - higher than digestion.  Want a cramp in your side?  Make sure and eat/drink just before running ;).

From Trail Runner Magazine:
GOT CRAMPS?Avoid Painful race- and training-ending muscle spasmsBY Jason R. Karp, Ph.D
In high school, I was leading a cross-country race, with a pack of runners from another school right off my shoulder. I felt confident, and then with 800 meters to go, a cramp seized my calf. I stuttered for a few steps, and the entire pack flew by me as if I were standing still.
Have you ever been running along enjoying a trail’s scenery, the smell of tall pines or eucalyptus and BAM—you get a nasty cramp? Whether it is a sharp stitch in the side of your abdomen or a sudden, piercing tightness in your calf or hamstring, cramps can downright destroy an otherwise great run. But they don’t have to if you understand how to deal with (and avoid) them.
Why Do You Get Cramps?
Side stitches affect nearly 70 percent of runners, typically occur on the right side of the upper abdomen and are less prevalent in both older and fitter runners. Why cramps occur, though, is still somewhat of a mystery to physiologists and doctors. Scientists believe that side stitches, which are given the fancy name of exercise-related transient abdominal pain (ETAP), result from either eating or drinking too close to running, especially food and drink that has a high sugar content, or from the movement of internal organs inside the abdominal walls, causing their connective tissue to pull on the diaphragm, which moves with breathing. 
While many runners believe that muscle cramps are caused by dehydration and/or an electrolyte imbalance, which could theoretically affect a muscle’s ability to contract, research has shown that neither is the cause. Drinking a sports drink on your long trail runs, while helpful to maintain hydration, won’t prevent cramping. … Read More

Saturday, September 22, 2012

What Athletes Need to Consider Before Going Paleo

What Athletes Need to Consider Before Going Paleo

Article By: Rocco Ferraiolo | September 22, 2012
Paleo Diet
Are you eating the way your body was meant to, or scarfing down processed convenience foods? A well-rounded meal plan is crucial for athletic performance enhancement, recovery and regeneration, maintaining proper body composition and preventing disease.
But what is the perfect meal plan?
Recently, the Paleo diet, which mimics how our caveman ancestors ate, has received lots of attention. It consists mainly of fish, grass-fed meats, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots and nuts, and it excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar and processed oils. Some researchers and athletes who have gone Paleo have reported significant results. The problem is that the Paleo diet violates much of the nutrition advice given to athletes today. (See Is the Paleo Diet Right for Athletes?)

Paleo Positives

Eating like a caveman means consuming fewer additives, preservatives and chemicals. Since the diet is big on fruit and vegetables, which are high in alkaline, it helps balance out the body and prevent soft tissue breakdown. This can help athletes reduce inflammation. Another issue athletes often face, iron deficiency, can be prevented with the Paleo's high meat consumption. Plus, a diet low in saturated fats can improve cholesterol levels. While no research results confirmweight loss in athletes, there is evidence of weight control benefits in the general population.

Paleo Negatives

High quality carbohydrates—like legumes, brown rice and sweet potatoes—are not part of the Paleo meal plan. Not taking in enough carbohydrates can have negative effects on performance and recovery, potentially leading to depletion of glycogen stores and low energy levels. And since dairy products are eliminated, calcium intake is reduced, putting athletes at risk for stress fractures. Low calcium levels, combined with the acid load of higher protein intake, can result in calcium loss in the bones. This can be mitigated by consuming foods that contain potassium, but athletes on the Paleo diet must focus daily on taking in potassium-rich foods like peaches, tomatoes, bananas and greens.

Athlete Modifications

Considering the Paleo diet? Ask yourself the following questions before going full caveman:
Why are you considering the Paleo diet?
If it's because you want to eat more natural, unprocessed foods, go right ahead. But if it's to achieve a specific goal related to weight modification, health or performance, work with a sports dietitian to establish guidelines.
Will Paleo eating affect your training?
Athletes have changing nutritional needs during the season and off-season. So there may be times when Paleo eating is more suitable. During intense training, carbohydrate needs are higher. Trial and error can help athletes learn about their diet needs, but be sure it's an appropriate time for experimentation.
Will you get enough carbohydrates?
Athletes on the Paleo diet must still take in carbohydrates before, during and after training sessions, workouts, and competition. For some, that may be enough, but for others it may not be. Don't set yourself up for early fatigue, soreness and/or potential injury. Be sure to include plenty of natural carbohydrate sources.
Will you get enough calcium?
On the Paleo diet, it's possible, but more difficult, to get the recommended daily allowance of calcium. Alternate sources include almond milk, spinach and canned fish, like sardines and salmon. If you cannot meet your calcium needs through diet, take 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium citrate or carbonate per day.
Will you get enough vitamin D?
Most dairy is fortified with vitamin D, so if you are not consuming dairy, this is a concern. Adequate vitamin D levels contribute to normal calcium metabolism and deliver other physical and mental benefits. Good sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, tuna, liver and eggs.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Nutritional Science Initiative - nonprofit group to study diet preventable diseases

This morning, at 9am Eastern Time, we officially launched The Nutrition Science Initiative Details Here.  A non-profit think tank of nutritional experts.  (such as DR Gary Taubes) .   I think this is a good thing as their interests could possibly be aligned with those of us that want to live a long time as healthy as healthy as we can be.  ((example, the difference between meeting our grandchildren and playing with our grandchildren.)) 

From the piece:

NuSI was founded on the premise that the reason we are beset today by epidemics  of obesity and type 2 diabetes, and the reason physicians and researchers think these diseases are so recalcitrant to dietary therapies, is because of our flawed understanding of their causes. We believe that with a concerted effort and the best possible science, this problem can be fixed.  We hope you’ll give your support to NuSi in anyway you can.

"It is in vain to speak of cures, or think of remedies, until such time as we have considered of the causes . . . cures must be imperfect, lame, and to no purpose, wherein the causes have not first been searched.”

-The Anatomy of Melancholy, Robert Burton, 1893 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ticking Time Bomb, How Children's Shoes Cause Problem Later in Life


Ticking Time Bomb, How Children's Shoes Cause Problem Later in Life
What's wrong with this photo? Plenty! The young boy's shoes will screw up his gait and cause muscle imbalance. And he's stretching!
by Dr. Phil Maffetone
Twenty years ago, a review of shoes and gait in the journal Pediatrics outlined some key factors that affect children’s feet. Pediatric orthopedist Lynn Staheli, M.D., from the Children's Hospital and Medical Center, Seattle, Washington, listed these important points:
1.) Optimum foot development occurs in the barefoot environment.
2.) Stiff and compressive footwear may cause deformity, weakness, and loss of mobility.
3.) The term "corrective shoes" is a misnomer.
4.) Shoe selection for children should be based on the barefoot model.
5.) Physicians should avoid and discourage the commercialization and "media" obsession with faddish footwear.
6.) Merchandising of the "corrective shoe" is harmful to the child, expensive for the family, and a discredit to the medical profession.

The Nike V Infant toddler shoe.
Perhaps the most offensive aspect of the footwear industry is the harm it deliberately inflicts upon unsuspecting children by encouraging them to wear bad shoes. Between the twin forces of television and parental encouragement, little Johnny or Jill are defenseless. In particular, there's the potential damage to the young developing body and brain. And, this could be a primary cause of physical imbalances, injury and disability and later as adults.
It was evident from Dr. Staheli’s article that shoe companies in 1991 were already heavily marketing unhealthy children’s shoes, playing on the parent’s emotions and those of older children. Today, shoe companies continue to use clever million-dollar advertising campaigns to encourage kids to ask for, and parents to buy, harmful shoes. And it’s obviously successful. The U.S. children’s footwear industry, which includes shoes for kids up to 16 years of age, generates over $5 billion annually, where products are made for cuteness and style rather than function.
What’s the best shoe for your child? None—barefoot is best and nothing comes close. Children should be barefoot, most, if not all the time. This provides the optimal stimulation of the foot by the ground, which helps train the brain for proper gait and other natural movements that children require from the start.
When a shoe becomes absolutely necessary, Dr. Staheli says it should be lightweight, flexible, shaped more or less quadrangularly, and should not have arch supports and stiff sides. She says that pediatric orthopedists strongly oppose "corrective" or "orthopedic" shoes for straightening foot and leg deformities like flat feet, pigeon toes, knock-knees, or bowlegs, claiming there’s no evidence that these so-called therapeutic shoes are effective. Instead most of the supposed deformities in children naturally correct themselves. How you might ask?
Being barefoot is the best way for that to happen. Most healthcare professionals who properly understand a child’s body mechanics know this. (Yet there are many “experts” who recommend the regular use of shoes for young children, but they are usually aligned with the shoe industry or companies making orthotics and other corrective devices.)
Any shoe has the potential to seriously disturb the gait of a young child. His or her sensitive feet sense footwear much more than the adult foot. Even relatively minor pressure on a child’s foot from a shoe can begin deforming it, leading to a permanent problem.

During the first year following the acquisition of independent walking, most of the child’s gait activity, in particular, the neurological memories—the communication between brain and body—becomes well established.

Barefoot is best for children.
During this time, if the feet are not allowed to develop well, gait and balance disorders begin to occur. In many children, these irregularities are often subtle (the “clumsy kid”) while others more serious such as increased vulnerability to physical injury and various neurological imbalances anywhere in the body, including those associated with eye movement.
The full development of a child’s balance and compensatory mechanisms, and overall gait mechanics, takes years to mature. While the first five years of life are most delicate, neuromuscular interference from footwear can occur at any and every stage along the way into early adulthood. This can lead to more serious and chronic physical imbalances later in life, such as a running injury or back pain, and even amplify the stress caused by imperfect shoes.
Earlier this year, Caleb Wegener, Ph.D., and colleagues from the University of Sydney, Australia, reviewed the problems associated with a variety of different shoes worn by children for walking and running. Their study, published in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, states that, “Shoes affect the gait of children. With shoes, children walk faster by taking longer steps with greater ankle and knee motion and increased tibialis anterior activity. Shoes reduce foot motion and increase the support phases of the gait cycle. During running, shoes reduce swing phase leg speed, attenuate some shock and encourage a rearfoot strike pattern.” In short, these are some of the specific items that are a recipe for physical and neurological disaster, and the start of a process of chronic injury and disability that could last a lifetime.
These researchers noted Dr. Staheli’s 20-year old suggestion that shoe design should be based on the barefoot model. But some of the shoes they tested were designed on these principles and still caused gait irregularities in children. 

The researchers also state that, “Further attention could also be paid to reducing the weight of shoes which may be responsible for some of the [abnormal] changes found in children’s walking and running gait.” (It’s interested that this type of “free” information is available to shoe manufacturers but may never be utilized—instead, they test their shoes on machines, not real people.)
Among the untold problems that wearing shoes can impose in the developing child is the impact on the brain. From a baby’s very first delicate steps, each walking and running gait pattern significantly influences brain development. These actions affect lifelong patterns in the nervous system, even beyond the gait and balance mechanisms—they include postural habits, the ability to compensate to physical stresses, and the growth of muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons and other tissues. Normally, with each muscle contraction and relaxation, and every joint movement, important neurological patterns are created by the brain, just like with any memory. Shoes distort this process, and instead, the brain learns and designs irregular patterns of movement throughout the body.

Most childen's shoes are health hazards. It's like handing them "smokes"-- which is what candy companies did for many years.
In addition, other areas of the brain can be impaired. Normally, during early development in children, all the important neurological input from body movements trigger increased blood flow throughout the brain. This brings in oxygen and many other necessary nutrients to promote growth and development in areas that include learning, speech, and memory. Without the natural muscle contraction in the feet, for example, especially in the very small immature muscles that move the toes, impairment from wearing thick, oversupported modern shoes can reduce the brain maturing process.
In children plagued with posture- and gait-related problems, avoiding wearing shoes is even more important. This can help stimulate the above-mentioned neurological functions, which can, in itself, be very therapeutic. Rather than attempting the use of “corrective” shoes and related devices, such as inserts or braces, finding and correcting the causes, including  neuromuscular imbalance, is important.

Many physical ailments in adults could begin at this young age. Think about all the physical problems you’ve had in your life—it’s possible that many began during development of the important brain-body mechanisms due to significant interference by shoes.
It seems silly to even be discussing the issue of children’s shoes. Most people don’t question the fact that eating junk food is bad for kids, or smoking cigarettes. The level of brain and body stress from wearing bad shoes can be just as damaging. The most logical, effective, and healthiest way for children to develop their whole body is by being barefoot.
This essay originally appeared on Dr. Phil Maffetone's website. For more information on the do's and don'ts of children's shoes, Dr. Mark Cucuzzella has a lot more on the kids page on hisTwo Rivers Tread website. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Quick Guide to the Paleo Diet for Athletes

A Quick Guide to the Paleo Diet for Athletes

© 2005 Loren Cordain, PhD and Joe Friel, MS  (update due this year, patiently waiting) 
The Paleo Diet for Athletes was released in October, 2005 from Rodale Press. Written by Loren Cordain, Ph.D., author of The Paleo Diet, and Joe Friel, M.S., author of numerous bestselling books on training for endurance athletes, the book applies the concept of eating as our Stone Age ancestors ate to the extraordinary demands of training for serious endurance sports. Although it is now the 21 st century, athletes still have Old Stone Age (Paleolithic) bodies. There has been no significant change in the human genome in the past 10,000 years. Physiologically speaking, we are still Paleolithic athletes.

The Paleo Diet

The basic premise of Dr. Cordain’s research on paleolithic nutrition is that certain foods are optimal for humans and others are nonoptimal. The optimal foods are those that we have been eating for most of our time on Earth—more than 4 million years. Only in the last 10,000 years, a mere blink of the eye relative to our species’ existence, have we been eating nonoptimal foods. Unfortunately, these foods comprise the bulk of what western society eats today and include such foods as grains, dairy and legumes. Given that our bodies have not changed, we are simply not welladapted to these nonoptimal foods and they moderate health and peak performance.
On the other hand, we have been eating optimal foods – vegetables, fruits, and lean animal protein – for hundreds of thousands of years and we are fully adapted to them. Science tells us that these foods also best meet our nutritional needs. Eat these and you will thrive. Avoid or strictly limit them and your health and performance will be compromised.

Paleo for Athletes

Serious athletes, however, when it comes to immediately before, during, and directly after workouts, need to bend the rules of the Paleo Diet a bit since we're placing demands on the body that were not normal for our Stone Age ancestors. Hour after hour of sustained high energy output and the need for quick recovery are the serious athlete’s unique demands. This requires some latitude to use nonoptimal foods on a limited basis. The exceptions may best be described by explaining the athlete’s 5 stages of daily eating relative to exercise.

Stage I: Eating Before Exercise

In brief, we recommend that athletes eat low to moderate glycemic index carbohydrates at least two hours prior to a hard or long workout or race. There may also be some fat and protein in this meal. All foods should be low in fiber. Take in 200 to 300 calories for every hour remaining until exercise begins. If eating two hours prior is not possible, then take in 200 or so calories 10 minutes before the workout or race begins.

Stage II: Eating During Exercise

During long or hard workouts and races you will need to take in high glycemic index carbohydrates mostly in the form of fluids. Sports drinks are fine for this. Find one that you like the taste of and will drink willingly. Realize that events lasting less than about an hour (including warmup) don’t require any carbohydrate. Water will suffice for these. A starting point for deciding how much to take in is 200 to 400 calories per hour modified according to body size, experience and the nature of the exercise (longer events require more calories than short).

Stage III: Eating Immediately After

In the first 30 minutes postworkout (but only after long and/or highly intense exercise) and postrace use a recovery drink that contains both carbohydrate and protein in a 4-5:1 ratio. You can buy a commercial product such as Ultrafit Recovery™ ( for this. Or you can make your own by blending 16 ounces of fruit juice with a banana, 3 to 5 tablespoons of glucose (such as CarboPro) depending on body size, about 3 tablespoons of protein powder, especially from egg or whey sources and two pinches of salt. This 30minute window is critical for recovery. It should be your highest priority after a hard workout or race.

Stage IV: Eating for Extended Recovery

For the next few hours (as long as the preceding challenging exercise lasted) continue to focus your diet on carbohydrates, especially moderate to high glycemic load carbohydrates along with protein at a 4-5:1 carbprotein ratio. Now is the time to eat nonoptimal foods such as pasta, bread, bagels, rice, corn and other foods rich in glucose as they contribute to the necessary carbohydrate recovery process. Perhaps the perfect Stage IV foods are raisins, potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams.

Stage V: Eating for LongTerm

Recovery For the remainder of your day, or until your next Stage I, return to eating a Paleo Diet by focusing on optimal foods. For more information on the Paleo Diet go to or read The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain, Ph.D.

How Much Protein, Carbs and Fat Should I Eat?

The macronutrient requirement changes with the demands of the training season and so should be periodized along with training. We recommend that athletes maintain a rather consistent protein intake year round. As a percentage of total calories this will typically be in the range of 20-25% for athletes. This is on the low end of what our Stone Age ancestors ate due to the athlete’s increased intake of carbohydrate in Stages I to IV which dilutes protein as a percentage of daily calories.
On the other hand, periodization of diet produces significant and opposing swings in the athlete’s fat and carbohydrate intake as the training seasons change. During the base (general preparation) period the diet shifts toward an increased intake of fat while carbohydrate intake decreases. At this time in the season when a purpose of training is to promote the body’s use of fat for fuel, more healthy fat is consumed—in the range of 30% of total calories—with carbohydrate intake at around 50%. During the build and peak (specific preparation) periods the intensity of training increases placing greater demands on the body for carbohydrate to fuel exercise. At this latter time of the season Stages III and IV become increasingly critical to the athlete’s recovery. Carbohydrate intake increases accordingly to around 60% of total calories with fat intake dropping to around 20%.
During times of the year when training is greatly reduced (peaking/tapering and transition periods) the athlete must limit caloric intake to prevent unwanted weight gain.

Why is the Paleo Diet Beneficial?

Health and fitness are not synonymous. Unfortunately, many athletes are fit but unhealthy. Frequent illness, injury and overtraining reduce performance potential. The Paleo Diet for Athletes significantly improves health long term. Compared with the commonly accepted athlete’s diet, the Paleo Diet:
  • Increases intake of branched chain amino acids (BCAA). Benefits muscle development and anabolic function. Also counteracts immunosuppression common in endurance athletes following extensive exercise.
  • Decreases omega-6: omega-3 ratio. Reduces tissue inflammations common to athletes while promoting healing. This may include asthmatic conditions common in athletes.
  • Lowers body acidity. Reduces the catabolic effect of acidosis on bone and muscle while stimulating muscle protein synthesis. This is increasingly important with aging.
  • Is high in trace nutrients. Vitamins and minerals are necessary for optimal health and longterm recovery from exercise. The most nutrient dense foods are vegetables and seafood. On average, vegetables have nearly twice the nutrient density of grains.

Excerpt from the Paleo Diet for Athletes

Training for endurance sports such as running, cycling, triathlon, rowing, swimming, and cross country skiing places great demands on the body, and the athlete is in some stage of recovery almost continuously during periods of heavy training. The keys to optimum recovery are sleep and diet. Even though we recommend that everyone eat a diet similar to what our Stone Age ancestors ate, we realize that nutritional concessions must be made for the athlete who is training at a high volume in the range of 10 to 35 or more hours per week of rigorous exercise. Rapid recovery is the biggest issue facing such an athlete. While it’s not impossible to recover from such training loads on a strict Paleo Diet, it is somewhat more difficult to recover quickly. By modifying the diet before, during, and immediately following challenging workouts, the Paleo Diet provides two benefits sought by all athletes: quick recovery for the next workout, and superior health for the rest of your life.
For more information on The Paleo Diet for Athletes go to…