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Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition

The Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about topics related to sports and sports fitness, general fitness, bodybuilding, nutrition, weight loss, and human health. Here, you'll find everything from nutritional information and advice about healthy eating to training and exercise tips for improving your overall well-being.

A Diet Rich in...Bugs!

Posted June 24, 2017 12:00 AM by M-ReeD
Pathfinder Tags: insects nutrition

If recent research or even common urban legends are to be believed — for every candy bar we consume, we also consume at least eight pieces of insect or that we swallow at least eight spiders in our sleep annually — introducing bugs into our daily diet should not surprise our "delicate" systems at all.

At least, that is what twin brothers who have created a health-food start-up focusing on protein derived from insects is banking on.

Lithic Nutrition offers products ranging from flavored cricket bars to cricket protein powders…without any bug imagery or depictions of insect art on the labels. And although the bars resemble traditional protein bars, the only giveaway is labeling clearing listing "cricket powder" as the main ingredient.

Trying his first "bug" as a marine stationed in Asia, Dave Baugh, likened the experience to eating potato chips.

However, Baugh and his twin brother anticipate having to overcome Western attitudes about bug consumption. While bugs are considered an important food staple and source of protein in most other parts of the world, Westerners in particular cannot seem to get past the feelings associated with eating bugs, which tends to elicit a gagging reaction or mock vomiting.

However, according to research, bug consumption is highly beneficial because bugs are plentiful and rich in protein and other nutrients. According to the research, crickets provide more calcium per gram than milk, more vitamin B12 than salmon, and more iron than spinach.

According to the brothers, cloaking the bugs in a variety of flavors (blueberry, vanilla, banana bread, and dark chocolate brownie) and fashioning them into traditional-looking protein bars may make the idea more...palatable.

Bug consumption has also garnered a lot of attention recently as the latest fad in snacking and for the environmental benefits to be gained from its worldwide consumption (using significantly less resources to produce than the farming methods used to produce cattle — a typical source of protein for westerners).

Would you be willing to incorporate bugs into your diet? Have you eaten bugs before?

Image credit:

Mckay Savage / CC BY 2.0

5 comments; last comment on 06/26/2017
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The Coffee Cure

Posted June 10, 2017 12:00 AM by M-ReeD
Pathfinder Tags: cancer coffee Liver

If you are tired of health experts maligning one of the world’s best-loved beverages, then this may very well be your best week ever. In a recent study from the University of Southampton and the University of Edinburgh, coffee consumption has been linked to a decrease in the risk of developing the most common form of liver cancer: hepatocellular cancer (HCC).

According to the study, drinking one cup of coffee (caffeinated) a day was associated with a possible 20 percent reduction in developing HCC. The likelihood of developing HCC decreased with every additional cup of coffee consumed in a day up to five cups. In fact, if you have up to five cups in one day (mere child’s play for some of us), you might even stand to cut your risk of developing HCC in half. These percentages were determined based on 26 observational studies with over 2.25 million participants.

Already linked to decreasing the risk of developing non-cancer chronic liver disease (cirrhosis), coffee consumption has been tied to a number of other health benefits. Coffee possesses antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties — all of which may explain the lower levels of chronic liver disease and liver cancer in coffee drinkers.

Decaffeinated coffee drinkers were also exposed to some of the same benefits, but to a lesser degree.

However, non-coffee drinkers shouldn’t run over to Starbucks just yet. Pregnant women in particular should continue to avoid caffeine as well as people with any serious heart conditions due to the relationship between consuming too much caffeine and heart damage.

And there are additional questions that linger for avid coffee drinkers: Are the benefits of drinking coffee (particularly for the liver) null and void if alcohol is an ingredient in one’s diet? Or does adding alcohol into your diet upset the percentages? Or, more importantly, if consumed together, say, in Irish coffee, do the benefits persist? I’m asking for a friend.

16 comments; last comment on 06/15/2017
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I Only Drink Water!

Posted June 03, 2017 12:00 AM by M-ReeD
Pathfinder Tags: Bones brain immune system Water weight

If recent research is to be believed, I have been doing it all wrong and maybe you have as well. Have you upped your water intake in the hopes of improving your health or maybe dropping some weight only to be met with little in the way of results?

Now, a group of, let’s call them extremists, are telling us that these benefits are achievable if we only drink water.

So what can we expect to happen if our beverage diet is made up entirely of water? I mean, aside from being completely bored and, likely, ill-tempered? According to a study published in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience, drinking water exclusively may improve mental performance and heart health, promote weight loss, build healthier bones, and create a stronger immune system.

Brains

According to the research, in just 30 days, improved mental activity can be achieved by drinking only water. To perform, the brain needs oxygen, which comes, in part, from water consumption. Replenishing water supplies means more efficient functioning.

Body

Water can help also promote weight loss by acting as both an appetite suppressant and aiding in healthier digestion. Additionally, water helps to remove toxins that inhibit fat burning. In fact, one single glass of water first thing in the morning is thought to boost metabolism by 24%.

Beauty

Want to look ten years younger? According to research, water will help make that dream a reality. Just as you moisturize your exterior, it is necessary to moisturize from within. Consumed in healthy amounts, water can rejuvenate skin, improve muscular condition, and slow down the aging process.

Blood

Water helps achieve better heart health by diluting the blood, thereby making it easier to carry throughout the body and decreasing blood pressure.

A stronger immune system can be achieved by upping your daily water intake as well. Water helps to detoxify your blood and helps to create heathier kidneys and liver. It can also help in fighting chronic pain conditions.

Bones

Because water helps to rebuild cartilage and other tissue, it consequently makes us more flexible, enabling us to move our joints with less required effort.

Are you willing to give up coffee, tea, juice, soda, or booze to become a heathier, thinner, younger, more flexible, clearer headed, and, possibly, angrier version of yourself?

54 comments; last comment on 06/13/2017
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Are You Really Hungry?

Posted April 26, 2017 12:00 AM by Chelsey H

As a baby, when you were full you would stop eating. And you would only eat again when you were hungry. Don’t you wish it was like that again? That you didn’t just crave a donut because that’s what popped up on Facebook or you didn’t eat the bread on the table just because it was there.

Understanding hunger is surprisingly hard in a world full of foodies, Instagram, and too large serving sizes.

Eating should happen when you’re truly hungry which means your stomach starts to growl. You’ll also feel hungrier over time and you’ll be willing to eat anything – ideally something nutritious– rather than a greasy or sweet snack.

When the urge to eat hits, wait about 10 minutes before you eat. If it’s a craving, it will probably pass after a glass of water and some time. But that’s easier said than done because many people have lost the intuitive ability to know when to eat and when to stop.

It is possible to get that intuition back. Here are four things to try the next time you get the urge to eat.

1. Take a quick assessment – Run through a mental checklist to make note of your food triggers. Becoming aware of your habits is a powerful step toward becoming a mindful eater.

2. Grab a glass of water – If you want to eat, but your stomach isn’t rumbling, go get a glass of water first. It’s hydrating and filling without added calories. Water also serves as a pause for you to decide if you’re truly hungry.

3. Log it out – Jot down your hunger level before you start to eat. If you want to get really into it, write down what you’re feeling and what you’re eating. This will help you to understand what triggers different reactions.

4. Change it up – Get outside for some fresh air, do housework, chat with a friend. Do something else besides stand in front of the refrigerator.

Hopefully, these four steps will start to help you think first and eat second. Now I’m going to put down the trail mix and take a walk….What’s your plan?

3 comments; last comment on 04/27/2017
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How Hunger Works

Posted April 19, 2017 12:00 AM by Chelsey H

Today is the first post of a mini-series about hunger. This first post will discuss what hunger is and how it works.

Simply, hunger signals the brain that it’s time to eat with the vagus nerve serving as the communication line between the abdomen and the brain.

When your stomach is empty or your blood sugar dips, the hormone ghrelin in the gut communicates with the hypothalamus in the brain. The hypothalamus regulates basic body functions such as thirst, sleep, sex, and hunger. When the hypothalamus receives the message, it triggers the release of neuropeptide Y, which stimulates your appetite. When you’ve eaten enough, the brain releases leptin, a hormone that signals fullness. Leptin is stored in fat tissues and it works by turning down the production of neuropeptide Y and turning up levels of proopiomelanocortin, an appetite suppressant in our bloodstream. The hypothalamus ensures that our insulin and blood sugar levels are back up to the appropriate levels.

If everything is working correctly then our basic physiological need for food, homeostatic hunger, would be satisfied with exactly the right amount of lean protein and raw veggies at every meal. Unfortunately, several factors can mess with metabolism or throw your hunger and fullness hormones out of whack such as hormone levels, stress, sleep, and a predisposition to obesity.

Moreover, there is another kind of hunger known as “hedonic hunger.” “Hedonic hunger is associated with the way our brains perceive pleasure and reward,” says Dr. Apovian, Director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at the Boston Medical Center. “Certain triggers will cause our brains to crave a snack to soothe or energize us.”

Fatty, sugary food releases chemicals called opioids into the blood stream, giving us a feeling of pleasure.

Understanding the hormonal process of hunger and eating makes eating a little less sexy. At least it makes the second bowl of Fruit Loops I’m eating seem less appealing. Being able to know if you’re hungry is an important next step to taking control of your eating. Keep an eye out for next week’s article.

24 comments; last comment on 04/24/2017
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