In a head-to-head comparison, two popular weight loss methods proved equally effective at helping participants lose significant amounts of weight. But, in a surprising twist, a low-carbohydrate diet proved better at lowering blood pressure than the weight-loss drug orlistat, according to researchers at Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Duke University Medical Center.
The findings send an important message to hypertensive people trying to lose weight, says William S. Yancy, Jr., MD, lead author of the study in the Jan. 25 Archives of Internal Medicine, and an associate professor of medicine at Duke. "If people have high blood pressure and a weight problem, a low-carbohydrate diet might be a better option than a weight loss medication."
Yancy added, "It's important to know you can try a diet instead of medication and get the same weight loss results with fewer costs and potentially fewer side effects."
Studies had already indicated that a low-carbohydrate diet and prescription-strength orlistat combined with a low-fat diet are effective weight loss therapies. But the two common strategies had not been compared to each other, an important omission now that orlistat is available over-the-counter. In addition, few studies provide data on these treatments for overweight patients with chronic health issues.
That's what made these findings particularly interesting, says Yancy, a staff physician at the Durham VA where the research was conducted. The 146 overweight participants in the year-long study had a range of health problems typically associated with obesity -- diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and arthritis.
"Most participants in weight loss studies are healthy and don't have these problems," he said. "In fact they are often excluded if they do."
The average weight loss for both groups was nearly 10 percent of their body weight. "Not many studies are able to achieve that," says Yancy, who attributes the significant weight loss to the group counseling that was offered for 48 weeks. In fact, he says "people tolerated orlistat better than I expected. Orlistat use is often limited by gastro-intestinal side effects, but these can be avoided, or at least lessened, by following a low-fat diet closely. We counseled people on orlistat in our study fairly extensively about the low-fat diet."
In addition to achieving equal success at weight loss, the methods proved equally effective at improving cholesterol and glucose levels.
But Yancy said it was the difference in blood pressure results that was most surprising.
Nearly half (47%) of patients in the low-carbohydrate group had their blood pressure medication decreased or discontinued while only 21 percent of the orlistat plus low-fat diet group experienced a reduction in medication use. Systolic blood pressure dropped considerably in the low-carbohydrate group when compared to the orlistat plus low-fat diet group.
"I expected the weight loss to be considerable with both therapies but we were surprised to see blood pressure improve so much more with the low-carbohydrate diet than with orlistat," says Yancy, who says the mechanism is unclear. "While weight loss typically induces improvements in blood pressure, it may be that the low-carbohydrate diet has an additional effect." That physiologic effect may be the subject of future studies.
he bottom line, says Yancy, is that many diet options are proving effective at weight loss. But it's counseling patients on how to best follow the options that appears to be making the biggest impact. "It is clear now that several diet options can work, so people can be given a choice of different ways to lose weight. But more importantly, we need to find new ways to help people maintain their new lifestyle."
Listening to an iPod, Pandora radio, or any in ear music, while working out feels like second nature to many people, but University of Alberta researcher Bill Hodgetts says we need to consider the volume levels in our earphones while working up a sweat.
Hodgetts, assistant professor in the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, says his research has found that exercising in a gym often prompts people to turn up the volume to potentially unsafe levels for the ear.
The researcher found that the study participants, who were in a gym-like setting, listened at potentially dangerous levels while working out, likely due to the presence of background noise. But he says it isn't the listening level alone that's risky, it's how long a person listens at that level. What Hodgetts found is that almost half of his study participants listened for a length of time during exercise that put them at risk for hearing loss.
The good news? The solution is simple, he says: get better earphones, those that "seal" the ear canal, acting as an earplug and thus reducing background noise.
Hodgetts' mission is to get the message out that proper earphones will make a huge difference in auditory health while allowing people to enjoy music at a lower, and safer volume
Knee osteoarthritis (OA) accounts for more disability in the elderly than any other disease. Running, although it has proven cardiovascular and other health benefits, can increase stresses on the joints of the leg. In a study published in the December 2009 issue of PM&R: The journal of injury, function and rehabilitation
, researchers compared the effects on knee, hip and ankle joint motions of running barefoot versus running in modern running shoes. They concluded that running shoes exerted more stress on these joints compared to running barefoot or walking in high-heeled shoes.
Sixty-eight healthy young adult runners (37 women), who run in typical, currently available running shoes, were selected from the general population. None had any history of musculoskeletal injury and each ran at least 15 miles per week. A running shoe, selected for its neutral classification and design characteristics typical of most running footwear, was provided to all runners. Using a treadmill and a motion analysis system, each subject was observed running barefoot and with shoes. Data were collected at each runner's comfortable running pace after a warm-up period.
The researchers observed increased joint torques at the hip, knee and ankle with running shoes compared with running barefoot. Disproportionately large increases were observed in the hip internal rotation torque and in the knee flexion and knee varus torques. An average 54% increase in the hip internal rotation torque, a 36% increase in knee flexion torque, and a 38% increase in knee varus torque were measured when running in running shoes compared with barefoot.
These findings confirm that while the typical construction of modern-day running shoes provides good support and protection of the foot itself, one negative effect is the increased stress on each of the 3 lower extremity joints. These increases are likely caused in large part by an elevated heel and increased material under the medial arch, both characteristic of today's running shoes.
Writing in the article, lead author D. Casey Kerrigan, MD, JKM Technologies LLC, Charlottesville, VA, and co-investigators state, "Remarkably, the effect of running shoes on knee joint torques during running (36%-38% increase) that the authors observed here is even greater than the effect that was reported earlier of high-heeled shoes during walking (20%-26% increase). Considering that lower extremity joint loading is of a significantly greater magnitude during running than is experienced during walking, the current findings indeed represent substantial biomechanical changes." Dr. Kerrigan concludes, "Reducing joint torques with footwear completely to that of barefoot running, while providing meaningful footwear functions, especially compliance, should be the goal of new footwear designs."
As if we didn't know that watching TV packs on the pounds.... Of course, if you're watching TV, you're probably not being physically active. A new study reveals that, adults who used an electronic lock-out system to reduce their television time by half did not change their calorie intake but did expend more energyover a three-week period, according to a report in the December 14/28 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
I've written a lot about using mental rehearsal in weight control, fitness, etc... (see: www.dietdetective.com/column/lessons-from-olympians.aspx) here is more research based support that simply rehearsing something in your head will help you to get it right!! Tartaglia of the Laboratory of Psychophysics at Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and team show that perceptual learning—learning by repeated exposure to a stimulus—can occur by mental imagery as much as by the real thing. The results, published in Current Biology, suggest that thinking about something over and over again could actually be as good as doing it.
DEVELOPING YOUR OWN MENTAL REHEARSAL
Here is a step-by-step guide to Mental Rehearsal:
1. Identify the occasion: Choose an eating situation you find difficult, whether it's unconscious eating, traveling, special occasions (weddings, family dinners), dining out, a midnight snack attack, etc. Develop a rough sketch of how you'd like to change your behavior in that scenario — include the thoughts, emotions and actions you want in your "ideal" version.
2. Brainstorm: Brainstorming all the negative events that could occur within that situation. For instance, if you have difficulty sticking to your diet when you're going out to dinner at your favorite restaurant, come up with all the possible complications you may encounter: the great bread, the stupendous blue cheese dressing, the fabulous creme brulee or even those pressuring comments from "food pushers." And don't forget to think about all the positive outcomes in which you make choices you are content with — that's the key, reminds Murphy.
3. Add detail: Be specific. Don't spare a thought, no matter how insignificant it might seem. Think how you would act and behave in your ideal scenario — you can even write it down to make it more concrete.
4. Create the script: Now you're ready to come up with a step-by-step description of exactly what your ideal experience would actually be like. Be creative and thoughtful about the process. You must really understand the experience from beginning to end. Consciously visualize what it will take for you to get through this situation, and make sure to think about how you would react to all the possible negative scenarios, creating positive outcomes for each.
5. Give it life: Once you have the general script down, go back to make the experience really come alive. Keep in mind you want to use all your senses — see, feel, hear and smell it. Make it as lifelike as possible — imagine it in 3D. If you're a swimmer, smell the chlorine in the pool. For weight control, apply the same principles, including imagining the smells of the restaurant, who you'll be with, who your server will be and what everyone is going to say.
There are two types of mental practicing: external, in which you watch yourself in a movie, and internal, seeing the event through your own eyes. Some experts recommend the internal approach for greater success, but either will be effective, so use whichever you prefer.
6. Make it automatic: rehearse your imagery often, including the night before the event and even just before it begins, to keep it fresh. What you're doing through mental rehearsal is creating new "automatic" responses to replace your previous patterns — the ones that had been holding you back from your weight loss. Just think about it. If you've always ordered dessert at a restaurant, you do it unconsciously because it's a habit. If you do nothing to change that pattern, you will continue to do the same thing. But if you rehearse a different outcome — for instance, ordering fruit, coffee or no dessert at all — you will have created a new "automatic" response to the dessert menu.
7. Rerun that scenario in your head whenever you find yourself about to live out the situation you've rehearsed. The details should be as familiar to you as the words and notes to your favorite song.
8. After the event, no matter what the outcome, revise your imagery and try to repair any mistakes or setbacks.
You've heard that you should stay away from added sugar -- here's another reason. Researchers reporting in the November issue of Cell Metabolism, say it might also be taking years off your life.
By adding just a small amount of glucose to C. elegans usual fare of straight bacteria, they found the worms lose about 20 percent of their usual life span. They trace the effect to insulin signals, which can block other life-extending molecular players. Although the findings are in worms, Cynthia Kenyon of the University of California, San Francisco, says there are known to be many similarities between worms and people in the insulin signaling pathways. (As an aside, Kenyon says she read up on low-carb diets and changed her eating habits immediately – cutting out essentially all starches and desserts -- after making the initial discovery in worms. The discovery was made several years ago, but had not been reported in a peer-reviewed journal until now.)
There was an article in today's Wall Street Journal that did a review of the Mexican plant that is being touted as the new honey -- Agave Syrup. Sugar has about 45 calories per tablespoon, whereas many of the Agave syrups on the market are 60 calories per tablespoon. The argument is that Agave is sweeter so you use less of it - -if that's the case that's great, but is it? Also, advocates argue that it does not raise blood sugar nearly as much as regular sugar. However, according to this article in the Journal "But the Glycemic Research Institute, a Washington, D.C., laboratory, issued a warning Friday that diabetics experienced "severe and dangerous side effects" during testing of an agave nectar."
Bottom-line: Agave is a sweetener and has real calories. Keep in mind, if you're using Agave -it's not a FREE food, use it sparingly, just like sugar. Read more in the WSJ here. Do you use Agave? What about honey? Do you use less than you would if you were using regular white sugar?
Researchers at the Division of Sports Sciences, at Northumbria Universityin Newcastle, UK reported in the journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism that Milk may help in muscle recovery. According to the journal abstract: "Exercise-induced muscle damage leads to the degradation of protein structures within the muscle. This may subsequently lead to decrements in muscle performance and increases in intramuscular enzymes and delayed-onset muscle soreness . Milk, which provides protein and carbohydrate (CHO), may lead to the attenuation of protein degradation and (or) an increase in protein synthesis that would limit the consequential effects of Exercise-induced muscle damage." You can read more here.
(Source: University of Chicago Press Journals ) Tempting treats are being offered in small package sizes these days, presumably to help consumers reduce portion sizes. Yet new research in the Journal of Consumer Research found that people actually consume more high-calorie snacks when they are in small packages than large ones. And smaller packages make people more likely to give in to temptation in the first place.
Authors Rita Coelho do Vale (Technical University of Lisbon), Rik Pieters, and Marcel Zeelenberg (both Tilburg University, the Netherlands) found that large packages triggered concern of overeating and conscious efforts to avoid doing so, while small packages were perceived as innocent pleasures, leaving the consumers unaware that they were overindulging.
"The increasing availability of single-serve and multi-packs may not serve consumers in the long-run, but-because they are considered to be innocent pleasures-may turn out to be sneaky small sins," write the authors.
One fascinating aspect of the research is the difference between belief and reality. In an initial study, researchers found that consumers believe that small packages help them regulate "hedonistic consumption," where self-restraint is at stake. When participants were asked to choose phone plans, those who thought the plan was for social rather than work purposes tended to choose smaller plans.
The researchers then moved on to food. Participants in one group had their "dietary concerns" activated by completing a "Body Satisfaction scale," a "Drive for Thinness scale," and a "Concern for Dieting scale." They were then weighed and measured, in front of a mirror, to fully activate their awareness. Then those participants (and a control group, which didn't have its "dietary concerns" activated) watched episodes of Friends interspersed with commercials. They believed they were there to evaluate the ads. But researchers were really monitoring their consumption of potato chips. Chips were available to participants in large packages or small ones. The study found that consumption was lowest when dieting concerns were activated and package size was large. People were less likely to open large packages, and participants deliberated longer before consuming from the larger packages.
"Maybe the answer lies in consumers taking responsibility for their consumption and monitoring internal cues of sufficiency, rather than letting package size take control," conclude the authors.
Recipe to recover more quickly from exercise: Finish workout, eat pasta, and wash down with five or six cups of strong coffee.
Glycogen, the muscle's primary fuel source during exercise, is replenished more rapidly when athletes ingest both carbohydrate and caffeine following exhaustive exercise, new research from the online edition of the Journal of Applied Physiology shows. Athletes who ingested caffeine with carbohydrate had 66% more glycogen in their muscles four hours after finishing intense, glycogen-depleting exercise, compared to when they consumed carbohydrate alone, according to the study, published by The American Physiological Society.
The study, "High rates of muscle glycogen resynthesis after exhaustive exercise when carbohydrate is co-ingested with caffeine," is by David J. Pedersen, Sarah J. Lessard, Vernon G. Coffey, Emmanuel G. Churchley, Andrew M. Wootton, They Ng, Matthew J. Watt and John A. Hawley. Dr. Pedersen is with the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia, Dr. Watt is from St. Vincent's Institute of Medical Research, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia. All others are with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University (RMIT) in Bundoora, Victoria, Australia.
A fuller audio interview with Dr. Hawley is available in Episode 11 of the APS podcast, Life Lines, at http://www.lifelines.tv/. The show also includes an interview with Dr. Stanley Schultz, whose physiological discovery of how sugar is transported in the gut led to the development of oral rehydration therapy and sports drinks such as Gatorade.
Caffeine aids carbohydrate uptake
It is already established that consuming carbohydrate and caffeine prior to and during exercise improves a variety of athletic performances. This is the first study to show that caffeine combined with carbohydrates following exercise can help refuel the muscle faster.
"If you have 66% more fuel for the next day's training or competition, there is absolutely no question you will go farther or faster," said Dr. Hawley, the study's senior author. Caffeine is present in common foods and beverages, including coffee, tea, chocolate and cola drinks.
The study was conducted on seven well-trained endurance cyclists who participated in four sessions. The participants first rode a cycle ergometer until exhaustion, and then consumed a low-carbohydrate dinner before going home. This exercise bout was designed to reduce the athletes' muscle glycogen stores prior to the experimental trial the next day.
The athletes did not eat again until they returned to the lab the next day for the second session when they again cycled until exhaustion. They then ingested a drink that contained carbohydrate alone or carbohydrate plus caffeine and rested in the laboratory for four hours. During this post-exercise rest time, the researchers took several muscle biopsies and multiple blood samples to measure the amount of glycogen being replenished in the muscle, along with the concentrations of glucose-regulating metabolites and hormones in the blood, including glucose and insulin.
The entire two-session process was repeated 7-10 days later. The only difference was that this time, the athletes drank the beverage that they had not consumed in the previous trial. (That is, if they drank the carbohydrate alone in the first trial, they drank the carbohydrate plus caffeine in the second trial, and vice versa.)
The drinks looked, smelled and tasted the same and both contained the same amount of carbohydrate. Neither the researchers nor the cyclists knew which regimen they were receiving, making it a double-blind, placebo-controlled experiment.
Glucose and insulin levels higher with caffeine ingestion
The researchers found the following:
one hour after exercise, muscle glycogen levels had replenished to the same extent whether or not the athlete had the drink containing carbohydrate and caffeine or carbohydrate only
four hours after exercise, the drink containing caffeine resulted in 66% higher glycogen levels compared to the carbohydrate-only drink
throughout the four-hour recovery period, the caffeinated drink resulted in higher levels of blood glucose and plasma insulin
several signaling proteins believed to play a role in glucose transport into the muscle were elevated to a greater extent after the athletes ingested the carbohydrate-plus-caffeine drink, compared to the carbohydrate-only drink
Dr. Hawley said it is not yet clear how caffeine aids in facilitating glucose uptake from the blood into the muscles. However, the higher circulating blood glucose and plasma insulin levels were likely to be a factor. In addition, caffeine may increase the activity of several signaling enzymes, including the calcium-dependent protein kinase and protein kinase B (also called Akt), which have roles in muscle glucose uptake during and after exercise.
Lower dose is next step
In this study, the researchers used a high dose of caffeine to establish that it could help the muscles convert ingested carbohydrates to glycogen more rapidly. However, because caffeine can have potentially negative effects, such as disturbing sleep or causing jitteriness, the next step is to determine whether smaller doses could accomplish the same goal.
Hawley pointed out that the responses to caffeine ingestion vary widely between individuals. Indeed, while several of the athletes in the study said they had a difficult time sleeping the night after the trial in which they ingested caffeine (8 mg per kilogram of body weight, the equivalent of drinking 5-6 cups of strong coffee), several others fell asleep during the recovery period and reported no adverse effects.
Athletes who want to incorporate caffeine into their workouts should experiment during training sessions well in advance of an important competition to find out what works for them.
Kathy Kaehler, author, celebrity trainer, spokesperson and mom has devoted her life to helping people live happy, productive and healthy lives. Beyond imparting the latest in fitness workouts, this lifestyle expert has tackled such subjects as multi-tasking, stress management, nutrition, how to get a good night's sleep and how to keep sexy and satisfied. And lately, she has been touting the benefits of proper hydration, including her favorite fitness water, Propel, as well as the benefits of sun protection with the Azur sun care collection.
For thirteen years, she appeared on the Today show as the fitness correspondent while training such celebrities as Julia Roberts, Michelle Pfeiffer, Cindy Crawford, Jennifer Aniston, Denise Richards, Claudia Schiffer and Kim Basinger. Most recently her work with Kim Kardashian has lead to a downloadable workout series entitled, Kim Kardashian Workout Video...Exercises Fit For a Princess, while providing fitness and wellness content as well as a weekly blog as the Fitness Correspondent for Firstwivesworld.com. The fitness industry has also recognized Kathy's contributions and this spring, she will be inducted into the Fitness Hall of Fame.She is currently a Podfitness Premiere Trainer and one of the stars of the Lifetime Television series, My Workout.
Diet Detective: Hello Kathy, thanks again for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us and our readers - we appreciate it. My first question for you is how you get started being a personal trainer?
Kathy: I got started as a personal trainer when I was hired by Jane Fonda to be her personal trainer at her very private spa in Santa Barbara in 1988.
Diet Detective: What do you think is the one most important thing that makes or breaks a diet/fitness program?
Kathy: What makes a diet and fitness program is behavior modification. What breaks it is a program with a focus on getting somewhere for an event or for getting in the skinny jeans.
Diet Detective: What makes it so difficult for moms to keep to a diet and exercise routine?
Kathy: Schedule is why it is so difficult for moms. It is always changing and this puts a tremendous strain on the focus.
Diet Detective: What's your motto?
Kathy: Put it on the daily list and check it off!
Diet Detective: What makes what you do different from other fitness experts and trainers?
Kathy: I am the best there is to creating a fitness program that will leave you wanting more. With 25 years of experience and training I share my secrets with my clients. I have the unique ability to change lives in a positive way through exercise and dietary changes.
Diet Detective: What do you do when you "fall of the wagon?"
Kathy: I never fall off the wagon. Exercise, being active and eating good healthy food is how I lead my life. I make this a choice in how I live and can't imagine it any other way.
Diet Detective: Tell us the biggest secret that trainers typically don't tell their clients, but should?
Kathy: I tell my clients the truth and sometimes that may be something that they would rather have me not tell them. Reality can be hard to swallow sometimes but it is the only way to move forward from where you are. I don't keep any secrets.
Diet Detective: What do you do each day? Do you train at a specific gym? Move around a lot.... What is a "day-in-the life" of a celebrity trainer?
Kathy: I have clients that start at 6am. I teach fitness classes 5 times a week in Los Angeles in a private community. I train in my home gym some of my celebrity clients and I also travel to their homes. I do an extensive pool workout for myself and I spend my afternoons with my three sons doing homework , making dinner, laundry , dishes and walking my two dogs. Red, my English Bulldog puppy and Bull, my big black lab.
Diet Detective: Out of all the celebrities you've trained-who is the hardest working? And why? What can we learn from her/ him?
Kathy: Kim Basinger is the most committed workout gal around. She pushes hard at every workout and when she is not with me she works out on her own. Her drive and focus to keep fitness and nutrition her top priority along with her daughter is truly extraordinary.
Diet Detective: Do you think that women need to exercise and train differently then men? If so, how?
Kathy: It seems that we should but I really don't train men and women any differently. They may be able to lift heavier weights and some exercises may be more geared for one sex or the other but we all need cardio, strength and flexibility.
Diet Detective: How do you get someone motivated to stick to a fitness program?
Kathy: I just tell them the benefits of exercise. Improved quality of life, reduced risks of disease, burn more calories at rest, better attitude, sleep better, clearer skin, eat more and better sex. That's the one that usually gets them.
Diet Detective: In all your years of training what do you consider the best non-weight related exercise (e.g. lunge). Can you also explain how to do the exercise?
Kathy: The pushup. You train shoulders, chest and triceps. You can do it anywhere, it can be modified or a challenge. On the knees with the arms supporting the upper body. Body straight like a board. Lower the chest until it reaches a few inches off the floor. Exhale as you press back up. To make it more difficult extend the legs and hold yourself up with the toes.
Diet Detective: What is the worst strength training exercise for women? Or one that is the most frequently done incorrectly?
Kathy: Upright row. I really am not a fan of this exercise. I don't use it very often and never with a weight infrequently with a band.
Diet Detective: What's your favorite "junk food?"
Kathy: I guess my favorite would be the potato chip.
Diet Detective: What's your favorite healthy lunch?
Kathy: Salmon bowl from Whole Foods or a plate of fresh baby spinach with warm lentils, chopped tomatoes, fresh garlic and some goat cheese with a drizzle of olive oil.
Diet Detective: What do you consider the world's most perfect food?
Kathy: The egg. Any way you make it, it is the most natural and untouched food.
Diet Detective: Who do you respect most, or who motivates you?
Kathy: I have many that fit into this question. I respect Jane Fonda for her work in my field, Jack LaLanne for his endless career and my parents for their continued support. I motivate myself. I am very competitive and this keeps me going forward.
Diet Detective: If you had to choose a specific song or band to get you excited for your workout, what would it be? What other songs are on your iPod?
Kathy: I am inspired by old Janet Jackson, Madonna, Chaka Khan, Donna Summer and most of all the disco favorites.
Diet Detective: What do you do to reduce stress/relax/center your mind? Do you participate in an organized relaxation activity such as yoga, meditation or tai chi?
Kathy: I have just getting involved with meditation. I also have acupuncture weekly and a facial every other week.
Diet Detective: What's the most bodacious chance you've ever taken?
Kathy: I created a workout video program for my client Kim Kardashian just before her scandalous sex video was released. The workouts have sold tremendously and we have shot four brand new ones soon to be released. She has also donated to women's charities with some of the proceeds and continues to inspire women to love their bodies no matter what shape they have. This was a chance that some thought it to be risky for me but it has only created a wonderful relationship that has taken my career to new and exciting places.
Diet Detective: What was your worst summer job?
Kathy: I delivered airline tickets to customers of a travel agency.
I saw this and thought it was worth reading and sharing:
Throughout the world, amateurs, experts and the media agree that prolonged jogging raises people's spirits. And many believe that the body's own opioids, so called endorphins, are the cause of this. But in fact this has never been proved until now. Researchers at the Technische Universität München and the University of Bonn succeeded to demonstrate the existence of an ‘endorphin driven runner's high'. In an imaging study they were able to show, for the first time, increased release of endorphins in certain areas of the athletes' brains during a two-hour jogging session. Their results are also relevant for patients suffering from chronic pain, because the body's own opiates are produced in areas of the brain which are involved in the suppression of pain. The researchers, some of whom are also members of the German Research Network of Neuropathic Pain (Deutscher Forschungsverbund Neuropathischer Schmerz, DFNS), which is also funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF), thereby show that jogging not only makes you high, but can also relieve pain. The results of the study have now been published in the scientific journal 'Cerebral Cortex'.
Endurance sports have long been seen as reducing stress, relieving anxiety, enhancing mood and decreasing the perception of pain. The high that accompanies jogging even led to the creation of its own term, ‘runner's high'. Yet the cause of these positive effects on the senses was not clear until now. The most popular theory was and still is the 'Endorphin Hypothesis', which claimed that there was increased production of the body's own opioids in the brain. However, since until now direct proof of this theory could not be provided; for technical reasons, it was a constant source of controversial discussions in scientific circles. The result was that the myth of 'runner's high through endorphins' lived on.
Scientists confirm the endorphin hypothesis for the first time
Scientists from the fields of Nuclear Medicine, Neurology and Anaesthesia at the Technische Universität München (TUM) and the University of Bonn have now subjected the endorphin theory to closer scrutiny. Ten athletes were scanned before and after a two-hour long-distance run using an imaging technique called positron emission tomography (PET). For this they used the radioactive substance http://community.active.com/blogs/CharlesStuartPlatkin/2008/03/04/the-myth-of-runners-high-revisited-with-brain-imaging/18Fdiprenorphine (http://community.active.com/blogs/CharlesStuartPlatkin/2008/03/04/the-myth-of-runners-high-revisited-with-brain-imaging/18FFDPN), which binds to the opiate receptors in the brain and hence competes with endorphins. 'The more endorphins are produced in the athlete's brain, the more opiate receptors are blocked,' says Professor Henning Boecker, who coordinated the research at TUM and who is now in charge of the ‘Functional Neuroimaging Group' at the Dept. of Radiology, University Hospital Bonn. And further: 'Respectively the opioid receptor binding of the http://community.active.com/blogs/CharlesStuartPlatkin/2008/03/04/the-myth-of-runners-high-revisited-with-brain-imaging/18FFDPN decreases, since there is a direct competition between endorphins in the brain and the injected ligand'. By comparing the images before and after two hours of long distance running the study could demonstrate a significantly decreased binding of the http://community.active.com/blogs/CharlesStuartPlatkin/2008/03/04/the-myth-of-runners-high-revisited-with-brain-imaging/18FFDPN-ligand. This is a strong argument in favour of an increased production of the body's own opioids while doing long-distance running. 'We could validate for the first time an endorphin driven runner's high and identify the affected brain areas', states Boecker. 'It's interesting to see that the affected brain areas were preferentially located in prefrontal and limbic brain regions which are known to play a key role in emotional processing. Moreover, we observed a significant increase of the euphoria and happiness ratings compared to the ratings before the running exercise.' Professor Thomas Tölle, who for several years has been head of a research group called ‘Functional Imaging of Pain' at TU Munich, adds: 'Our evaluations show that the more intensively the high is experienced, the lower the binding of http://community.active.com/blogs/CharlesStuartPlatkin/2008/03/04/the-myth-of-runners-high-revisited-with-brain-imaging/18FFDPN was in the PET scan. And this means that the ratings of euphoria and happiness correlated directly with the release of the endorphins.' In addition, as a spokesman of the ‘German Association of Neuropathic Pain', he feels happy for patients suffering from chronic pain. 'The fact that the endorphins are also released in areas of the brain that are at the centre of the suppression of pain was not quite unexpected, but even this proof was missing. Now we hope that these images will also impress our pain patients and will motivate them to take up sports training within their available limits.'
Running down the pain?
It is well known that endorphins facilitate the body's own pain suppression by influencing the way the body passes on pain and processes it in the nervous system and brain. The increased production of endorphins resulting from long-distance running could also serve as the body's own pain-killer, a therapeutic option which is not only of interest to the German Association of Neuropathic Pain. 'Now we are very curious about the results of an imaging study using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging which we are currently carrying out in Bonn in order to investigate the influence of long-distance running on the processing of pain directly,' Professor Boecker says. Further research is required so as to investigate the exact effects on depression and states of anxiety but also on possible aspects which may promote addiction. That is why the relation between genetic disposition and opiate receptor distribution in the brain is being currently investigated at TU Munich. 'A scary thought,' Thomas Tölle comments, 'if we ran because our genes wanted us to do so.' The first step towards researching these connections has now been made.
The Why: This is a really great idea. You get to build your own energy bar, pick the base, all the ingredients, and you get your very own personalized bar. The company is innovative and smart. We ordered a bar with almond butter, a few nuts, raisins, and cherries. The bar was only 170 calories, which you can control also - and it was delicious. We can't say enough about this fabulous company.
The Health Bonus: All natural ingredients that you choose!!
What We Liked Best: The possibilities are endless, and they guarantee the taste.
What We Liked Least: There are almost too many choices, and it's a bit pricey.
What It Replaces: Power Bar, Cliff Bars, etc.. Basically, all those energy bars with loads of ingredients that you don't need or want.
The Price: 12 regular bars for $40 ($3.33/bar) +$7.99 for shipping and handling
Other Offerings: If you have trouble choosing you can go to their "Popular Bars:" Honey Cashew, Great Date with Chocolate, Breakfast Bar.
1. Dates (Fat-free) or Soynut Butter or Peanut Butter or Almond Butter Cashew Butter or Cashew Macademia Butter or Sesame Butter (tahini)
2. Choose up to 3 different proteins: No Protein or Whey (Milk) Protein or Soy Protein or Egg White Protein or Special Requests (½ Whey & ½ Soy; No Protein).
3. Nuts & seeds: No Nuts or Sesame Seeds or Pecans or Roasted Soynuts (Edamame) or Walnuts or Cashews or Ghirardelli Semisweet Chocolate Chips or Almonds or Peanuts
4. Dried fruits and berries: No Fruits or Berries or Raisins or Sweetened Dried or Cranberries or Dried Pineapple or Prunes or Dried Apple or Dried Banana or Dried Apricots or Dried Cherries or Shredded Coconut
5. Sweeteners: No sweetener or Clover Honey or Organic Molasses or Organic Brown Rice Syrup
6. Seasoning: No Seasoning or Natural Cocoa Powder or Ground Cinnamon or Carob Powder or Peppermint Oil or Coffee Crystals or Splenda
7. Grains/Cereals: No Grains/Cereals or Organic Oat Bran or Granola or Nutty Rice Cereal.
8. Infusions: Vita-Min Infusion or Protein Infusion or Fiber Infusion or No Infusion.