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Nutrition

November 10, 2013 by  

Welcome to Crossfit Monrovia’s Food page, where we give guidance and recipes for your nutritional needs.

Anxiety and Omega-3 Fatty Acids

February 7, 2012 by  

This is good article from

Dr. Sears’ Latest Blog Posts

“Anxiety is one of most the common neurological disorders, but it also is one of the most difficult to understand. Simply stated, anxiety is an apprehension of the future, especially about an upcoming challenging task. This is normal. What is not normal is when the reaction is significantly out of proportion to what might be expected. Over the years, a number of specific terms, such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobia, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and separation anxiety disorder have emerged in an attempt to better categorize general anxiety. Any way you describe anxiety, it is a big problem with nearly 20% of Americans suffering from it, thus making anxiety the largest neurological disorder in the United States (1).

If anxiety is worrying about the future, then it has a fellow traveler, depression. Depression can be viewed as an over-reaction about regret associated with past events. Not surprisingly, almost an equal number of Americans suffer from this condition. This leads to the question: Is there a linkage between the two conditions? I believe the answer is yes and it may be caused by radical changes in the American diet in the past 40 years. These changes have resulted in what I term the Perfect Nutritional Storm (2). The result is an increase in the levels of inflammation throughout the body and particularly in the brain.

The brain is incredibly sensitive to inflammation, not the type you can feel but the type of inflammation that is below the perception of pain. I term this cellular inflammation. What makes this type of inflammation so disruptive is that it causes a breakdown in signaling between cells. What causes cellular inflammation is an increase in the omega-6 fatty acid known as arachidonic acid (AA). From this fatty acid comes a wide range of inflammatory hormones known as eicosanoids that are the usual suspects when it comes to inflammation. This is why anti-inflammatory drugs (aspirin, non-steroid anti-inflammatories, COX-2 inhibitions and corticosteroids) all have a single mode of action—to inhibit the formation of these inflammatory eicosanoids. These drugs, however, can’t cross the blood-brain barrier that isolates the brain from a lot of noxious materials in the blood stream. So when the brain becomes inflamed, its only protection is adequate levels of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. But what happens when the levels of omega-3 fatty acids are low in the brain? The answer is increased neuro-inflammation and continual disruption of signaling between nerves.

There are two omega-3 fatty acids in the brain. The first is called docosahexaenoic acid or DHA. This is primarily a structural component for the brain. The other is called eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA. This is the primary anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid for the brain. So if the levels of EPA are low in the blood, they are going to be low in the brain. To further complicate the matter, the lifetime of EPA in the brain is very limited (3,4). This means you have to have a constant supply in the blood stream to keep neuro-inflammation under control.

It is known from work with uni-polar and bi-polar depressed patients, that high-dose fish oil rich in EPA has remarkable benefits (5,6). On the other hand, supplementing the diet with oils rich in DHA have virtually no effects (7).

Since anxiety has a significant co-morbidity with depression, the obvious question becomes is it possible that high levels of EPA can reduce anxiety? The answer appears to be yes (8), according to a study conducted in 2008 using substance abusers. It is known that increased anxiety is one of the primary reasons why substance abusers and alcoholics tend to relapse (9,10). When these patients were given a high dose of EPA (greater than 2 grams of EPA per day), there was a statistically significant reduction in anxiety compared to those receiving a placebo. More importantly, the degree of anxiety reduced was highly correlated to the decrease of the ratio of AA to EPA in the blood (8). In other studies with normal individuals without clinical depression or anxiety, increased intake of EPA improved their ability to handle stress and generated significant improvements in mood (11-13). It may be that depression and anxiety are simply two sides of the same coin of increased cellular inflammation in the brain. Even for “normal” individuals, high dose EPA seems to make them happier and better able to handle stress.

So let’s go back to an earlier question and ask about the dietary changes in the American diet that may be factors in the growing prevalence of both depression and anxiety. As I outline in my book Toxic Fat, it is probably due to a growing imbalance of AA and EPA in our diets (2). What causes AA to increase is a combination of increased consumption of vegetable oils rich in omega-6 fatty acids coupled with an increase in the consumption of refined carbohydrates that generate insulin. When excess omega-6 fatty acids interact with increased insulin, you get a surge of AA production. At the same time, our consumption of fish rich in EPA has decreased. The end result is an increasing AA/EPA ratio in the blood, which means a corresponding increase in the same AA/EPA ratio in the brain creating more cellular inflammation.

Cutting back vegetable oil and refined carbohydrate intake is difficult since they are now the most inexpensive source of calories. Not surprisingly, they are key ingredients for virtually every processed food product. So if changing your diet is too hard, then consider eating more fish to get adequate levels of EPA. Of course, the question is how much fish? If we use a daily intake level of 2 grams of EPA per day that was used the successful trials of using omega-3 fatty acids reduce anxiety, then this would translate into consuming 14 pounds of cod per day. If you prefer a more fatty fish like salmon, then you would only need about 2 pounds per day to get 2 grams of EPA. The Japanese are able to reach that level because they are the largest consumers of fish in the world. These are highly unlikely dietary changes for most Americans. However, it has been demonstrated that following a strict anti-inflammatory diet coupled with purified fish oil supplements can generate an AA/EPA ratio similar to that found in the Japanese population (11).

There is simply no easy way out of this problem created by the Perfect Nutritional Storm, which will only intensify with each succeeding generation due to the insidious effect of cellular inflammation on fetal programming in the womb. Unfortunately for most Americans this will require a dietary change of immense proportions. This probably means that Valium and other anti-anxiety medications are here to stay.”

References

  1. Kessler RC, Chiu WT, Demler O, Merikangas KR, and Walters EE. “Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of 12-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication”. Arch Gen Psychiatry 62:617–627 (2005)
  2. Sears B. Toxic Fat. Thomas Nelson. Nashville, TN (2008)
  3. Chen CT, Liu Z, Ouellet M, Calon F, and Bazinet RP. “Rapid beta-oxidation of eicosapentaenoic acid in mouse brain: an in situ study.” Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 80:157-163 (2009)
  4. Chen CT, Liu Z, and Bazinet RP. “Rapid de-esterification and loss of eicosapentaenoic acid from rat brain phospholipids: an intracerebroventricular study.” J Neurochem 116:363-373 (2011)
  5. Nemets B, Stahl Z, and Belmaker RH. “Addition of omega-3 fatty acid to maintenance medication treatment for recurrent unipolar depressive disorder.” Am J Psychiatry 159:477-479 (2002)
  6. Stoll AL, Severus WE, Freeman MP, Rueter S, Zboyan HA, Diamond E, Cress KK, and Marangell LB. “Omega 3 fatty acids in bipolar disorder: a preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.” Arch Gen Psychiatry 56:407-412 (1999)
  7. Marangell LB, Martinez JM, Zboyan HA, Kertz B, Kim HF, and Puryear LJ. “A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid in the treatment of major depression.” Am J Psychiatry 160:996-998 (2003)
  8. Buydens-Branchey L, Branchey M, and Hibbeln JR. “Associations between increases in plasma n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids following supplementation and decreases in anger and anxiety in substance abusers.” Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 32:568-575 (2008)
  9. Willinger U, Lenzinger E, Hornik K, Fischer G, Schonbeck G, Aschauer HN, and Meszaros K. “Anxiety as a predictor of relapse in detoxified alcohol-dependent patients.” Alcohol and Alcoholism 37:609-612 (2002)
  10. Kushner MG, Abrams K, Thuras P, Hanson KL, Brekke M, and Sletten S. “Follow-up study of anxiety disorder and alcohol dependence in comorbid alcoholism treatment patients.” Alcohol Clin Exp Res 29:1432-1443 (2005)
  11. Fontani G, Corradeschi F, Felici A, Alfatti F, Bugarini R, Fiaschi AI, Cerretani D, Montorfano G, Rizzo AM, and Berra B. “Blood profiles, body fat and mood state in healthy subjects on different diets supplemented with Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.” Eur J Clin Invest 35:499-507 (2005)
  12. Fontani G, Corradeschi F, Felici A, Alfatti F, Migliorini S, and Lodi L. “Cognitive and physiological effects of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in healthy subjects. “Eur J Clin Invest 35:691-699 (2005)
  13. Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Belury MA, Andridge R, Malarkey WB, and Glaser R. “Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety in medical students: A randomized controlled trial.” Brain Behav Immun 25:1725-1734 (2011)

If You Are A “Biggest Loser” Fan…

November 21, 2011 by  

A few weeks ago Dr Barry Sears spoke at the American Society of Bariatric Physicians. Later in the day he heard an interesting lecture from the lead dietician for the TV series “The Biggest Loser”. In this lecture, she disclosed all the keys for successful weight loss in the individuals on the show.

The first was incredibly careful screening just like you would do for a clinical trial. This is to make sure you have incredibly motivated people, who aren’t depressed or have other existing medical conditions, such as heart disease. In other words, you stack the deck. Considering that after the first pilot show in 2004, there were 225,000 applications for the 2005 series, there is no problem in recruiting motivated people. Just to make sure the motivation is maintained, the contestants get paid while they are on the show in addition to the big payoff for the winner at the end of the series.

Next contestants are isolated in a “camp”. Consider this to be like a metabolic ward where they only have access to good food for the next 10 to 16 weeks. This means no white carbohydrates and no artificial sweeteners other than stevia and all the meals made for them.

According to the speaker, the real secret is that they are fed a Paleo/Zone like Diet with 45 percent of the calories coming carbohydrates (primarily non-starchy vegetables and fruits), 30 percent of the calories from low-fat protein, and 25 percent from good fats, such as olive oil or nuts. The typical calorie intake for the females is 1,200 to 1,600 and for the males about 1,800-2,400. The typical 300-pound contestant will consume about 1,750 calories per day. Finally, you spread the balanced calories over three meals and two snacks during the day.

Of course, you never see the contestants eating their Paleo/Zone meals and snacks or the dietician discussing nutrition with them because that makes for boring TV. So most of the time you see them being yelled at by their trainers. That makes for exciting TV. In fact. the more tears they shed by being intimidated, the better the ratings.

So what happens to them after they leave the show, no longer get paid, and are surrounded by their favorite foods? About 50 percent regain the lost weight. But the other 50 percent have found out that the Paleo/Zone Diet isn’t that hard, and now they have a clear dietary plan for a lifetime without being yelled at by drill sergeant-like trainers.

Meal Templates

November 11, 2011 by  

Here is a basic template to follow for every day dinning. Most all of this is borrowed form Mark Sisson’s “21 day challenge…” that we carry at the Lab. His recipe book “Quick and Easy Meals” rocks!  Great ideas and quick meal assembly is offered for the newly initiated Paleo-Leaner. We also carry that in house. Each one is $20.
BREAKFAST –  OMELET Breakfast doesn’t need to be any more difficult than frying up a few eggs: melt butter in a pan, add eggs, remove when cooked. Done! If you want a real treat that will kick-start your day and optimize fat metabolism, give a Primal omelet and its many amazing variations a try:
LUNCH –  SALAD You don’t really need a recipe for this one ; just throw whatever greens, raw veggies and cooked meat you have on hand into a big bowl, dress it with olive oil and lemon, sprinkle on some nuts or seeds, and viola! – your Paleo salad is complete. Try the variations to ensure you’ll never grow tired of this fast and healthy lunchtime staple.
• Large handful of salad greens, such as mixed greens, romaine or spinach
• Large handful of chopped-up protein, such as cooked steak, chicken, turkey or wild salmon
• Small handfuls of various vegetables, aiming for 4-6 different types (e.g. – bell peppers, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, jicama, onions, radishes)
• Small handful of nuts and/or seeds
LUNCH –  WRAP
• Large leaf of iceberg lettuce for the wrap
 • Favorite sandwich ingredients
Preparation: Place the lettuce leaf on a plate and top with desired sauces or spreads. Layer fillings, putting the heaviest ingredients in first, such as meat. Stop short of the edges of the leaf to prevent spillage. Try to fold the edges in to form a barrier, then carefully roll the leaf around the fillings.
 Wrap Variations:
Carne asada: Flank steak, hot chiles, onions, salsa, spices, (cayenne pepper, oregano, salt, thyme), and tomatoes.
Chicken or turkey Cobb: Mix with chopped avocado, bacon, bleu cheese, spinach leaves, and tomatoes.
Corned beef and cabbage: Use the cabbage leaf as the wrap. Spread on some mustard and hot corned beef.
LBLT: Add strips of bacon and sliced tomatoes, wrap in lettuce, and hold the bread!
Salmon: Mix with chopped avocado, cucumber, sun-dried tomatoes.
Tuna salad: Mix tuna with chopped avocado, grated carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes.
DINNER – MEAT AND VEGETABLES Why make life complicated after a busy day? Fry or grill a good steak (or lamb, pork, bison, chicken, turkey, or fish) and cook some veggies on the side for a great dinner. Add some flavor with spices and oil for fat…
• 1 rib-eye, porterhouse, t-bone, or flank steak, 4-8 ounces (115-230 g)
• a few shakes of salt, pepper and olive oil
• sliced onions, mushrooms, or asparagus; chopped kale or spinach
• 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
Vegetables: Rotate different types of vegetables throughout the week (bok choy, broccoli, eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers). Serve mashed or grated steamed cauliflower on the side.
SNACKS
1. Berries: Locally-grown, in-season
2. Dark Chocolate: Highest-possible cocoa content
3. Fish: Canned herring, mackerel, sardines, tuna
4. Hard-boiled Eggs: Sprinkle with salt and olive oil
5. Jerky: Homemade or otherwise minimally processed
6. Macadamia nuts: Probably the ultimate healthy, incredibly satisfying between-meal snack.
7. Olives: A great source of monounsaturated fatty acids
8. Vegetables with nut butter spread
Sisson, Mark (2011). The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation (pp. 88-109). Midpoint Trade Books.

Not All Fats Are Created Equal

November 8, 2011 by  

A big new study showed that over four years, increased amounts of different foods led to different outcomes on the scale. A Sample:

 Nuts vs. French Fries

Nuts;

-take longer to chew,

-contain fat and fiber that need more time to digest.

-Your stomach stays fuller, and you feel satisfied longer…

-so you eat less at your next meal.

French Fries;

-cooked starch is quickly broken down

-causes spike in sugar, or glucose, in the blood stream

-The body secretes Insulin leading to hunger signals…

-so you eat more at your next meal.

So, by consuming Nuts you can loose an average of 0.57 lbs. While French Fries help you gain an average of 3.35 lbs.

 

 

Winter Leaning Has Begun… Well, it is a rolling start…

November 3, 2011 by  

Come one, come all. It is time for another nutrition focused 8 week course in Paleo diet to help shed that fall coat of FUR. Starting November 1 st (until ?…) we will be weighing and photoing everyone who wants to play. There will be a $40 buy-in. We will give you guidance and direction on what to eat and how to eat-out for the time crunched. Fish Oil is suggested as the supplement of choice and Food Delivery is offered by Chef-by-Request for those that just cannot do it on their own. You may choose to live on “Love and Fresh Air” or try a nasty “Master Colon Cleanse”, we don’t care,  as long as you document what you choose to do and record your outcomes. The winners take the cash prize.

Every week we will have a little project for you to try and participate at home. It will help for you to record what you eat (or not eat). There will be a forum for questions on this site, to.

At the halfway point (near Thanksgiving) we will weigh-in again to track progress. Then the last week is the week before Christmas for our final weigh-ins and photos.

There is always time for just one more person to join. It is better to start late than not…

Carrot and Tuna Salad

October 13, 2011 by  

By Riki Shore

This simple salad recipe comes from Harumi Kurihara, a popular TV personality and cookbook author in Japan. Harumi is sort of like the Martha Stewart and Ina Garten of Japan, combining good taste with practicality in each and every recipe.

For those of you following a Paleo diet, Japanese cuisine is a natural place to turn for inspiration. Plenty of Japanese dishes are low in carbohydrates and high in vegetables, meaning they pack a punch when it comes to micronutrient and mineral content.

While some Japanese ingredients and cooking techniques may seem daunting – or just plain foreign – to American cooks, this salad is both appealing and doable for any beginning cook. It works well as a weeknight dinner alongside a cup of soup, and as a weekday lunch to take to school or work. You can easily double this recipe to feed a bigger crowd.

3 medium carrots
1/2 cup onion
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 ounces tuna, packed in olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Tamari, or gluten-free soy sauce, to taste

1. Peel the carrots, then grate them or cut them into julienne (thin matchsticks). Finely chop the onion and mince the garlic. Place the vegetables in a medium bowl along with the olive oil. Cover with a dampened paper towel and microwave for 1 – 1 1/2 minutes, until the carrots are tender.
2. Drain the tuna and add it to the bowl, shredding the meat with a fork as you mix it well.
3. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Add to the salad and toss to coat everything well. Add a drizzle of tamari, toss, and adjust seasonings as needed. Enjoy!

For more great Paleo and Gluten-Free recipes, visit Three Squares.

 

September 7, 2011 by  

Puy Lentil Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

By Riki Shore

It takes significant planning and prep time to create Paleo meals every day of the week. If your life is as busy as most, you need a handful of quick recipes that use up leftovers in a creative and delicious way. This one does just that. I’ve written it to use leftover roasted or rotisserie chicken, but this salad combines just as well with leftover lamb or steak.

1 cup Puy (green) lentils
2 cups water
2 sprigs parsley or 1 celery rib with leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons rice wine or champagne vinegar
1 tablespoons dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon capers (optional)
1 tablespoon parsley (optional)
2 cups cold chopped chicken, leftover from roasted or rotisserie chicken

1. Rinse the lentils in a strainer and place in a heavy pot with the parsley or celery rib. Cover with water, bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, 30 – 40 minutes. The lentils should be cooked, but still al dente. Toss the warm lentils with 1 tablespoon of olive oil to moisten.
2. Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Add the remaining olive oil and whisk well to emulsify. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
3. If using the capers, gently mash them with the side of a heavy knife. If using the parsley, chop it finely.
4. In a medium bowl, combine the lentils, chicken, capers and parsley (if using). Stir well, then toss with the vinaigrette. Serve immediately or refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

For more delicious paleo-friendly, gluten-free recipes, see Three Squares.

 

 

Asian Slaw with Grilled Chicken

June 20, 2011 by  

This is an easy, affordable recipe that’s a staple in our house. It doubles easily, so you can serve a crowd, or save leftovers for your lunchbox the next day. It also goes will with steak, charred lamb or sausage if you prefer.

GRILLED CHICKEN

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Pound chicken breasts between two layers of wax paper until 1/4 inch thick.
2. Place chicken in a Ziploc bag with all the remaining ingredients. Close the bag and shake it well until chicken is coated all over with marinade. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight.
3. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to eat, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.
4. Prepare an outdoor grill or preheat a grill pan over med-high heat. Grill chicken about 7 – 8 minutes per side, until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
5. Allow chicken to rest for about 5 minutes, then slice 1/2-inch thick.

ASIAN SLAW

1/2 cup rice vinegar
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 garlic clove
1 small red Thai chile
1 cucumber
2 carrots
1/4 jicama
1/2 lemongrass stalk
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup mint leaves
3 tablespoons nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Mince the garlic and chile. Combine in a small saucepan with the rice vinegar and sugar. Heat the mixture over medium heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Bring just to a boil, remove from the heat and set aside.
2. Prep the vegetables: Seed the cucumber and cut into long, thin strips. Peel the carrots and either grate or “ribbon” it (using the peeler, create long ribbons of carrot). Peel the jicama and cut into thin strips. Slice the cilantro and mint. Toss all these ingredients in a large bowl with the nam pla and the vinegar mixture from the previous step. Mix in the olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more nam pla or salt and pepper to taste.
3. Place the slaw on serving plates, top with strips of grilled chicken. Garnish with slivers of fresh mint or cilantro, or a shake of sesame seeds.

By Riki Shore of Three Squares

For more delicious paleo-friendly, gluten-free recipes, see Three Squares.

 

Brains and Brawn

January 24, 2011 by  

It has long been a cliché that muscle bulk doesn’t equate to intelligence. In fact, most of the science to date about activity and brain health has focused on the role of endurance exercise in improving our brain functioning. Aerobic exercise causes a steep spike in blood movement to the brain, an action that some researchers have speculated might be necessary for the creation of new brain cells, or neurogenesis. Running and other forms of aerobic exercise have been shown, in mice and men, to lead to neurogenesis in those portions of the brain associated with memory and thinking, providing another compelling reason to get out at lunchtime and run.

Since weight training doesn’t cause the same spike, few researchers have thought that it would have a similar effect. But recent studies intimate otherwise. Several studies involve animals. It’s not easy, of course, to induce a mouse or a lab rat to lift weights, so the experimenters have to develop clever approximations of resistance training to see what impact adding muscle and strength has on an animal’s brain. In a study presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in November, researchers from Brazil secured weights to the tails of a group of rats and had them climb a ladder five sessions a week. Other rats on the same schedule ran on a treadmill, and a third group just sat around. After eight weeks, the running rats had much higher levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (B.D.N.F.), a growth factor that is thought to help spark neurogenesis, than the sedentary rats. So did the rats with weights tied to their tails. The weight- bearing rats, like the runners, did well on tests of rodent learning and memory, like rapidly negotiating a water maze. Both endurance and weight training seemed to make the rats smarter.

In somewhat similar fashion, researchers from Japan recently found that loading the running wheels of animals improved their brain functioning. A loaded running wheel is not strictly analogous to weight lifting; it’s more similar in human terms to a stationary bicycle with the resistance dialed high — in this case, quite high, as the resistance equaled 30 percent of the rats’ body weights in the last week of the monthlong study. By then, the rats on the loaded wheels could run barely half as far as a separate group of rats on unloaded wheels, but the rats on the loaded wheels had packed on muscle mass, unlike the other rats. The animals that were assigned to the loaded wheels showed significantly increased levels of gene activity and B.D.N.F. levels within their brains. The higher the workload the animals managed to complete, the greater the genetic activity within their brains.

This “study demonstrates for the first time that voluntary wheel running with a load increases a muscular adaptation and enhances gene expression” in the rat brain, said Min-Chul Lee, a researcher at the University of Tsukuba in Japan and lead author of the study, which was also presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. Even more striking, he added, his findings indicate that “this kind of exercise may have the identical or even more useful effects than endurance training (e.g., treadmill exercise) on the rat brain.”

Whether the same mechanisms occur in humans who undertake resistance training of one kind or another is not yet fully clear, but “the data look promising,” said Teresa Liu-Ambrose, a principal investigator at the Brain Research Center at the University of British Columbia. In results from her lab, older women who lifted weights performed significantly better on various tests of cognitive functioning than women who completed toning classes. Ms. Liu-Ambrose has also done brain scans of people who lifted weights to determine whether neurogenesis is occurring in their brains, and the results, still unpublished, are encouraging, she said.

Just how resistance training initiates changes in cognition remains somewhat mysterious. Ms. Liu-Ambrose said that “we now know that resistance training has significant benefits on cardiovascular health” and reduces “cardiovascular risk factors,” which otherwise would raise “one’s risk of cognitive impairment.” She speculates that resistance training, by strengthening the heart, improves blood flow to the brain generally, which is associated with better cognitive function. Perhaps almost as important, she added, resistance training at first requires an upsurge in brain usage. You have to think about “proper form and learning the technique,” she said, “while there generally is less learning involved in aerobic training,” like running.

The brain benefits from being used, so that, in a neat circle, resistance training may both demand and create additional brain circuitry. Imagine what someone like Einstein might have accomplished if he had occasionally gone to the gym.

see full article at

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/19/phys-ed-brains-and-brawn/

Slowcooker Chicken and Coconut Curry

January 21, 2011 by  

This is a light curry sauce infused with a  creamy coconut milk. You can substitute cauliflower rice instread of the standard white rice. Thai curries pack an abundance of balanced flavors. Here, tender-crips green beans, slivers of red bell pepper, ad fresh basil join tender chicken thighs in an aromatic, LIGHT sauce, infused with creamy coconut milk.

1/2 onion, red, chopped
1 Tablespoon Thai red curry paste
6 cloves garlic
2 Whole Lime juice, and grated zest
1 Tablespoon Asain Fish sauce (plus 1 teaspoon to be added later)
salt and fresh pepper
5 Pound chicken thighs, BONE IN, skinned, trimmed of fat
2+ Tablespoon Oil (plus extra added later)
1 Cup chicken stock
1 3/4 Cup coconut milk
1/2 Pound green beans, trimmed and coarsly chopped
1 Small Bell Pepper, RED, seeded and cut into matchsticks
1/2 Teaspoon Asian Sesame oil
1/2 Cup Basil, chopped (thai basil or mint)
Steamed rice or “cauliflower rice”
1/4 Cup Unsweetened shredded dried cocnut, toasted
Instructions: In a food processor, combine the onion, garlic, curry paste, the lime zest and juice, the 1 Tablespoon fish sauce, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of the pepper mill. Pulse until a chunky puree forms. Set aside.
Pat the chicken thighs dry and season with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy frying pan (or the removable insert of the slow-cooker) over medium-high heat, warm the 2 Tablespoons of oil. When the oil is hot, working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, add the chicken and sear, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the curry mixture, and saute, stirring often, until fragrant, about 4 min. Whisk in the stock and coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Transfer to slow-cooker (or add chicken to  this mixture and place in the warming unit). Cover and cook on low setting 4 hours. The chicken should be very tender.
You may remove bones from thighs once done or leave in.
Meanwhile, cook green beans until just tender then add to slow-cooker and warm 5 min.
In a frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 2 teaspoon oil. Add the red pepper and stir and toss until glossy and beginning to wilt, 1-2 min. Remove from heat, add the remaining 1 teaspoon fish sauce, the sesame oil, and the basil and toss to mix well.
Spoon the rice into warm bowls and top with the curry. Garnish with the red pepper mixture and toasted coconut and serve at once.
Serves: 4-6
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 4 hr
Total Time: 4 hr  20 min
Source:   William Sanoma Slowcook Cook BookWebsite:  Origin:   Category: EntreeType:     PoultryClassifications: Chicken Slow Cook or Crockpot

Happy New Year! and if you’re gonna drink hit the gym…

December 30, 2010 by  

To Heal Hangover, Skip the ‘Hair of the Dog,’ and Hit the Gym

Dec. 31 (Bloomberg) — New Year’s revelers in need of a hangover remedy should skip the conventional wisdom advising they swill coffee or another alcohol drink, and head for the gym.

The body gets rid of alcohol and its toxic by-products four ways: breathing, via the liver or kidney and from sweating, said Aaron Michelfelder, a family physician from Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Illinois. Exercise speeds breathing, increases sweat, and moves alcohol-laden blood to the liver and kidneys more quickly.

“That’s why you should stay hydrated as well,” Michelfelder said in a telephone interview. “It takes a lot of water to process alcohol in your body.”

Drinking plenty of water, especially between every glass of wine, whiskey or beer, has another benefit — it can reduce the amount of alcohol consumed, he said.

Michelfelder has a list of recommendations that New Year’s Eve partygoers should heed tonight to help the body grapple with the tsunami of alcohol ahead. The first is, avoid a hangover altogether, he said.

“A hangover is brain damage,” he said. “Some of it is going to heal, and some will be permanent. Prevention is the best medicine, particularly with hangovers.”

The most important is to drink moderately and slowly, at most five drinks for men and three for women over a three-hour period. Other measures include taking an anti-inflammatory pill such as ibuprofen and eating before any drinking occurs. The medicine may help avoid nerve damage from the alcohol, while the food may slow the absorption of alcohol. B vitamins may also help, he said.

Coffee Doesn’t Work

Michelfelder’s most surprising advice involves what to do after the hangover has set in. Coffee is unlikely to ease the nausea, dizziness, cotton candy head and general malaise that stems from over-imbibing, though it may lift some symptoms of depression that can set in after the warm and pleasant effects of the alcohol wear off, he said.

“Hair of the dog,” the familiar standby of getting down just one more drink in order to stymie the ill-effects of a hangover, is particularly unhelpful, Michelfelder said. It will only make you feel worse, he said.

“A hangover is similar to taking a sledgehammer and hitting your head,” he said. “Do what you need to do not get a hangover. It’s unpleasant and it’s hard on your body.”

End of the Fall Leaning…

December 20, 2010 by  

Our Fall Leaning focus has come to an end with another round of great results.  This focus was a lengthy 9 weeks, taking the participants over 3 holidays: Halloween, Thanks Giving and Holiday parties. The participants learned that you can eat well and still partake in the festivities with the family when you need to. As one of our members said, “CrossFit has been amazing, but changing my diet has made the biggest difference”.

We will be posting a few more of the “before and after” pictures over the next few weeks.

Our member Greg H. tried sending this photo in as his “after” picture, but we knew it wasn’t him as he doesn’t wear Speedo’s that are that big!

Immune Boost Your Life

November 28, 2010 by  

How do we keep ourselves healthy during flu season—and for life? The answer starts with taking a big-picture view of your life and then developing lifestyle habits that support and maintain good health.“If we put our body in the right position and do what it’s meant to do, good things happen—like positive immune systems,” says Dr. Mark Adams, a naturopathic physician and founder of onvo, a whole body health practice based in Bellevue, WA. “Good real food, supplements, sleep, hydration, and physical activity add up over time,” says Dr. Mark. “We don’t have to be perfect,” he adds. “Our bodies are made tough. We’re not delicate flowers.” To find out what we need to know to be healthy, we asked Dr. Mark for some tips and guidance.

Eat real food

Good quality food equals good health. Dr. Mark defines “real food” as the food that’s been around forever: fruits, nuts, legumes, eggs, dairy, poultry, seafood, and meat. “Food without labels is generally better than food with labels,” he says. Real food also hasn’t been processed or refined. Don’t be fooled by items that claim to be “health food”—a lot of it has been processed. Remember: “processed” means something has been added to or taken away from the original food. You want to stay as close to the original state of the food as possible. If you’re on a zone-style plan, you’re eating from what Dr. Mark calls the “real-food category.” This is especially important for diabetics and those with celiac disease—people who need to be diligent about eating real food.

It’s a simple formula: The more real food we take in, the more we improve the quality of our nutrition and build up our immune system.

Add probiotics to your diet

“Helping the digestive system is important to building the immune system,” says Dr. Mark. Incorporating probiotics into our diet keeps us healthy by balancing the microflora in our bacterial ecosystem and regulating our immune system. Probiotics come in a variety of fermented dairy products, such as yogurt, and in supplement form. Dr. Mark recommends consulting a doctor if you’re going to take a probiotic supplement.

Watch the body fat

When you maintain a healthy body fat level—a benefit of the zone-inspired Chef by Request meals–you boost your immune system. Why? Because body fat stores toxins and puts pressure on internal organs.

Take Vitamin D

Think about it. When do we get sick? When we start to get less sun. As it turns out, people who have sufficient levels of vitamin D are healthier and rarely get the flu. Dr. Mark recommends taking the vitamin in the form of vitamin D3 (there’s D, D2 and D3), which he describes as “closest to the end product.” Doses vary for individuals. As a general guideline, try something like: 1,000 to 2,000 IU/day for children and around 5,000 IU/day for adults. If you want the most accurate dosage, get your Vitamin D levels checked by your doctor.

Stay hydrated

“Water is a medium for our body,” Dr. Mark tells us. “It’s one of our primary sources of fuel.” On a desert island, we’d die of dehydration before we’d die of starvation. Also, the body needs about two quarts of water a day, some of which it gets from food—it gets it best from real food. Signs of dehydration include dark or concentrated urine, a chronically dry mouth, and fatigue.

To stay hydrated: Drink 8 to 12 ounces of water upon waking. The conventional wisdom of taking in two quarts (8 glasses) of water a day still holds, although some of that will come from the food you eat, depending on your diet. Also, as you drink water throughout the day, sip your water. If you guzzle it, it goes right through your cells and out of your body.

Author: Chef By Request,,,

Braised Beef Shanks with Coconut Milk, Ginger, and Cumin

October 20, 2010 by  

Source:   Primal Blueprint Cookbook
Website:
Origin:   Paleo
Category: Entree
Type:     Meat
Classifications:
Description: FABULOUS!
Qty Measure Ingredient
————————————————————
5 Tablespoon coconut oil or ghee (divided)
2 Cup onion, chopped
2 Whole carrots, cut into small pieces
2 Whole garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon ginger, fresh, minced
2 Teaspoon sea salt, course. plus more to taste
1 Teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
3 Pounds Beef or Bison shanks cut into 1.5 -2 inch pieces
2 Teaspoon coriander, ground
1 Teaspoon cumin, ground
1/2 Teaspoon turmeric
1/2 Teaspoon Red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups beef stock
1 can (14oz) coconut milk
1 Whole cinnamon stick
3 Whole cardamon pods, lightly smashed
2 Whole bay leaves
1/4 Bunch cilantro, chopped for garnish
Instructions: Preheat oven 325 F (if using an oven not a slow cooker). In a large roasting pan or a dutch oven, melt half the ghee or coconut oil over medium heat.  Add the vegetables, garlic, and ginger. Cook about 10 min, stirring occasionally. Remove vegetables to a bowl.
Add the other half of the oil and heat to medium-high. Brown the meat until all sides are well-browned, about 5-6 min. Sprinkle black pepper over meat during the browning. Remove from pan.
Reduce heat and add coriander, cumin, turmeric, and red pepper flakes, stirring to release the oils and aromas. Add beef broth and coconut milk and bring to a boil.
Wrap the cinnamon stick, cardamon pods and bay leaves in an herb bag or cheese cloth (this makes it easy to remove in the end) and place into boiling liquids. Return vegetables and meat with accumulated juices to pot. Cover and place in preheated over for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours until the meat is tender. (or place into slow cooker for the allotted time)
When cooking is finished, remove meat to a heated platter and keep warm. Reduce the sauce over medium heat to thicken. Remove spice pouch and salt to taste.  You may want to serve over Cauliflower Rice or Sliced Cabbage.
Background: Don’t let the long list of ingredients fool you: this is really simple to put together. If you don’t have the coriander, tumeric, and cumin, substitute curry powder.
This oven braised dish could easily be transformed into a slow cooker recipe! Simply brown the meat first then cook it on low setting for 6-8 hours (4-6 hours on high).
Serves: 4

POM-WOW ;-(

October 14, 2010 by  

This blog entry is courtesy of Fran Mayo who read an article in “Runner’s World” about some of the benefits of drinking pomegranate juice. It was fairly inevitable that I would get around to talking about pomegranate juice. It is, after all, all the rage right now and POM is currently in the media regarding some dubious health claims.

There are lots of reasons to drink pomegranate juice. Personally, when it first came out as a commercial product, I thought it was a pure novelty. I mean, have you ever EATEN a pomegranate? It takes FOREVER. The whole idea of juicing enough fruit to make a whole bottle of pure pomegranate juice was just unfathomable. So from my perspective, one of the reasons to drink pomegranate juice is because you can. All that pomegranate-y taste without the painstaking work.

But apparently, there are other reasons to drink pomegranate juice apart from the pure sensory ones. And apparently, one of them is to possibly decrease muscle soreness. Or so this study claims. Fran did all the work to track it down (would it be so much work for a magazine to actually cite a study instead of saying, “A study from Joe Schmoe University says…”)

To read more about the study go to: Evidence Based Fitness

The Fall Leaning Program- October 11-16th 2010

October 10, 2010 by  

After unprecedented success form our Spring Leaning program we are offering a Fall Leaning. On the Spring Leaning we had 50 members participate during the 7 week program. To see a small sample of the results check out the “Results” section of the “Nutrition” page.  The success they had, measured not only in pounds lost but knowledge gained, lead us to having a Fall Leaning program with great anticipation. This new guided program will last 9 weeks.

Each participant will be asked to log their meals to a special Facebook Group (posts will only be seen by those participating) to discuss/share/support each other through out the 9 weeks.  We found this to be a great success on the last leaning and we all learned a lot from posting our food logs.

At the end of the Leaning, three male and three female winners will be awarded prizes.
Weigh-in, with photos, will begin October 11th-16th.
Rachael, Caesar, Brad and Kate are going to be my helpers in all of this.
Again, if you are interested in this plan please contact Lauren@crossfitmonrovia.com

Meal Delivery To Your Home!

September 30, 2010 by  

We are partnering with Chef By Request to provide our members with Paleo/Zone food delivery. After meeting with the company and realizing that they understand the nutritional needs we are looking for I highly recommend you try them if “cooking time” is difficult to fit into your schedule:

Chef by Request delivers fresh Chef prepared meals, right to your door… no shopping, no chopping, no cooking, we do it all for you. All of our meals are prepared locally using only the finest, freshest ingredients. Organic first and foremost, Grass Fed, Free Range, never frozen and never with any added salt, sugar or preservatives.

And… with Chef by Request you don’t have to sign a contract or order in bulk… you can order one meal, one day, one week, one month… you choose!

How delivery works:

Chef prepared and delivered fresh the night before you are to enjoy them. Your meals for the day arrive at your door in our secured cooler bag, ready to heat and eat in recyclable, BPA free containers.

Delicious, healthy and convenient: Choose from Zone, Paleo, Gluten Free, Vegetarian We work with any allergies or specific restrictions You choose the calorie load that works for you Our Wellness Advisors are here to help you achieve your goals — fitness, weight loss, performance!

Are Superfoods For Real?

September 23, 2010 by  

“SuperFoods: another diet trend or is this for real?

What has become known as “SuperFoods” is very real—as real as blueberries, salmon, garlic, and raw honey. But it’s the term “SuperFoods” that’s become a bit of a trend, after the publication of the blockbuster 2003 book, SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life, by Steven Pratt, M.D., and Kathy Matthews.

The book introduced 14 “SuperFoods”— whole foods that are so densely packed with vital nutrients and antioxidants that they help improve our overall health, fight disease, and slow aging. A couple of years later, Pratt and Matthews wrote a second book, SuperFoods Healthstyle, and nine new foods were added.

These 23 SuperFoods include walnuts, oranges, spinach, broccoli, green and black teas, blueberries, pumpkin, oats, turkey, tomatoes, soy, yogurt, wild salmon, beans, avocados, cinnamon, garlic, onions, kiwi, dates, honey, pomegranates, and dark chocolate.

According to an AOL Health & Fitness interview with co-author Dr. Steven Pratt, all SuperFoods had to stand up to the following three requirementsbefore being included in the list:

  • Easily available in American supermarkets.
  • Part of healthful diets in cuisines around the world.
  • Sufficient scientific research to prove they could contribute to preventing diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer.

These days, you can browse the Web and find articles by nutritionists (like this WebMD article) that expand on the original 23 SuperFoods to include eggs, red meat, dark leafy greens like kale, buckwheat pasta, and goji berries. But there is a common thread: These are foods that have been around for thousands and thousands of years.

A trio of benefits

SuperFoods offer three nutritional benefits: nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants. Here’s a rundown on each one, and which SuperFoods deliver the most (note that most SuperFoods deliver well across all three).

Nutrients: We’re talking vitamins and minerals. Vitamins help our bodies function; minerals are the body’s building blocks. We don’t work without them. Nutrient-rich SuperFoods include kiwis, yogurt, salmon, broccoli, onions, garlic, and sweet potatoes.

Fiber: It’s not just your grandmother’s prunes. Fiber helps the digestive system, improves the absorption of nutrients, gives that long-lasting full feeling after eating, increases insulin effectiveness, and decreases the overall risk of disease. Your grandmother might have called her SuperFoods “roughage.” Fiber-rich SuperFoods include: vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains.

Antioxidants: These nifty molecules repair the body’s wear-and-tear, which comes from eating processed food, getting too much sun exposure, excessive exercising, and taking in environmental chemicals. All produce free radicals in your body. These free radicals are believed to be connected to cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants can reduce free radicals or eliminate them. For that reason, antioxidants have become a vital part of staying healthy in a modern world. SuperFoods rich in antioxidants include: berries, kiwis, apples, cranberries, chocolate, and beans.”

This is borrowed from our friends from Chef by Request

http://www.mychefbyrequest.com/content/Food/8/

Intro to Paleo from Loren Cordain.

September 13, 2010 by  

Here are some general guidelines to consider for starting Paleo:

  1. Eggs are fine, particularly if you purchase omega 3 enriched eggs.
  2. Try to replace your cravings for sweets with fresh fruits and frozen fruit purees.
  3. Grass produced meats are preferable to supermarket feed lot meats.
  4. Pro and Prebiotics (psyllium) are definitely a good idea to get your gastrointestinal tract normalized.
  5. Also recommend: fish oil capsules and vitamin D supplements.

Most people find that after a few weeks on the Paleo Diet they can begin to wean themselves from many of their medications. Work closely with your physician or health care practitioner as you do so.

One of the first health benefits people notice with the Paleo Diet is increased and even energy levels throughout the day. Look upon the Paleo Diet not as a diet, but rather a lifetime way of eating that will improve all aspects of your health and well being. Give it at least 2-4 weeks. Most people who reintroduce non-Paleo comfort foods feel so bad after they eat them that they find going back to Paleo is easy.

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