A new study from UC San Francisco is the first to show that while the impact of life’s stressors accumulate over time and accelerate cellular aging, these negative effects may be reduced by maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, and sleeping well.
Blueberries pack a powerful antioxidant punch, whether eaten fresh or from the freezer, according to South Dakota State University graduate Marin Plumb. Anthocyanins, a group of antioxidant compounds, are responsible for the color in blueberries, she explains. Since most of the color is in the skin, freezing the blueberries actually improves the availability of the antioxidants.
Many teens and adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are great athletes. In elementary school, they may not have been good at sitting quietly, but they certainly could excel at sports. Many found exercise had a calming, centering effect. With maturation, exercise still helps them get through their school/workday.
Athletes with ADHD often have trouble organizing an effective fueling protocol, including the basic tasks of shopping for and preparing food, as well as having the right foods available at the right times. This can create problems with low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and hunger that gets disguised as inability to concentrate, stay focused on a task, edginess, hot temper, and reduced athletic performance. Athletes with ADHD often disregard these symptoms, thinking they relate to their ADHD diagnosis, not hunger and poor diet.
Athletes with ADHD often take appetite-killing meds that easily disrupt normal fueling cycles and contribute to fluctuations in energy. Athletes need steady energy to be able to concentrate and perform at their best. Hence, athletes with ADHD need to vigilantly monitor their bodies for early signs of hunger, including feeling fatigued or moody. Some may seek an energy drink such as Red Bull or some coffee, but the solution is not caffeine. They need fuel!
When athletes with ADHD miss meals due to lack of planning, they often end up craving sweets—a sign the body is too hungry and wants a sugar-fix. They can then easily succumb to overindulging in cookies, candy, and other so-called “junk foods.” This may happen at 10:00 pm, after their appetite-suppressing meds have worn off, and this can disrupt normal sleep patterns, as well as kill their appetite for their breakfast and that perpetuates a bad eating cycle.
What’s an athlete with ADHD to do?
The information below is helpful for any athlete – not just those with ADHD…
- Take mealtimes seriously. If you can find the time to train and compete, you can also find the time to fuel right. In fact, all competitive athletes who don’t show up for meals might as well not show up for events. Everyone loses his or her competitive edge with hit-or-miss fueling.
- Fuel your body on a regular schedule by eating even-sized meals at least every four hours. If meds curb your appetite, plan to eat by the clock, and not by (non-existent) hunger. If necessary, set the alarm on your watch or cell phone. If the sight or small of food makes you nauseous, try cold beverages such as a fruit smoothie with additional protein powder.
- Organize your eating into four “food buckets.” Consume the contents of a bucket every four hours, either as a meal (Breakfast, Early Lunch, Late Lunch, and Dinner) or as smaller mini-meals based on wholesome foods, not sweets.
For most athletes, each meal/food bucket should be the caloric equivalent of two or three slices of pizza. That’s about 500 to 800 calories per bucket (or 2,000 to 3,200 calories per day), depending on your body size, sport, and energy needs. For athletes on appetite-curbing ADHD meds, the breakfast bucket should be the biggest bucket and incorporates some of the lunch calories that will otherwise get left uneaten.
The following sample menu has 4 food buckets that offer a steady supply of energy for an ADHD high school athlete:
|7:00||Breakfast||Bagel + peanut butter + tall glass milk + banana
OR 3-egg omelet (lowfat cheese,veg) + toast + fruit
Better bet if unable to stomach all of lunch:
Bagel & peanut butter + omelet + milk + banana
|11:00*||Lunch #1||Tuna sandwich/whole wheat bread + string cheese + milk|
|3:00*||Lunch #2||Pre-exercise: Energy bar + apple
Recovery: Dried fruit & nuts + pretzels
|7:00||Dinner||Chicken + brown rice + veggies + milk|
* Remember: If you take ADHD meds, you may not feel hungry but your body still needs fuel. Figure out what you can eat, regardless!
• Eat BEFORE your appetite-killing meds kick in. Again, figure out how to front-load your calories. For example, one athlete with ADHD started eating a hearty sandwich for breakfast. Another enjoyed “planned overs” from dinner the night before. By front-loading, they felt calmer during the day, had better workouts in the afternoon, and were better able to focus on the task at hand.
• Plan to fill your food buckets with foods in their natural state, and limit your intake of highly processed foods. Some health professionals believe additives and food coloring in processed foods can trigger hyperactivity in certain people. Plus, highly processed foods often offer less nutritional value and fewer health benefits. Shop for fresh foods along the outside aisles of the grocery store: fresh fruit, vegetables, lean meats, low fat dairy, and whole grain breads.
• Include a protein-rich food in each food bucket, such as eggs, cottage cheese, peanut butter, lowfat cheese, Greek yogurt, turkey/cheese roll-ups. Again, nothing is wrong with having dinner for breakfast; enjoy that cheeseburger and oven-baked “French fries” and then roll the scrambled eggs and cheese into a wrap for lunch. Protein is satiating and helps stabilize blood sugar. A trail mix made with nuts and dried fruit is another option with compact calories for easy nibbling.
• Make a shopping list before you go to the grocery store, and shop after having eaten a meal. That enhances your chances of choosing more of the best sports foods, and less of the rest. Examples include: orange juice rather than sports drink; oranges instead of orange juice; oatmeal (served with a little honey) instead of frosted flakes (with a lot of sugar); whole-wheat bread rather than white bread; scrambled eggs instead of Eggo waffles; baked potatoes in place of French fries; plain yogurt sweetened with maple syrup instead of pre-sweetened yogurt; trail mix rather than M&Ms; protein bars rather than candy bars.
Not only for athletes with ADHD
If you find yourself edgy and unable to focus in the afternoon, experiment with reorganizing your meals and snacks into four (calorically-equal) food buckets and notice the benefits: better focus, fewer cravings for “sweets”—and better performance.
For more information about management of ADHD in kids and adults: http://www.additudemag.com
Reprinted from The Athlete’s Kitchen, August 2014
Copyright: Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD
Boston-area sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD counsels both casual and competitive athletes. Her private practice is in Newton, MA; 617-795-1875). For information about her new Sports Nutrition Guidebook, 5th edition, see nancyclarkrd.com. For online education, also see sportsnutritionworkshop.com.
Unlike most Americans, Karla Hornstein knows her vulnerability to the brain-robbing disease called Alzheimer’s, specifically a rare and early-onset form that runs in families and has haunted her own.
Above: Karla Hornstein (top, center) and family before youngest, Jamie, was born.
Matt Cavallo is one of the top bloggers in the Multiple Sclerosis community. Having been diagnosed in 2005, Matt has worked to turn his disease into an inspirational story for others with MS and other chronic illness. Through his blog, books, and motivational speaking engagements, Matt has not only worked to raise awareness for both patients and providers with his deeply personal journey, but has inspired people to take control of their illness and begin the journey to living well.
The Mayo Clinic defines “Arthritis” as inflammation of one or more joints, whose main symptoms are joint pain and stiffness. The two most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis (OA) is typically caused by wear and tear, and is often termed “degenerative change.” Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder.
Nearly all of us will have OA as we age and wear down our joints. That does not mean, however, that we must have pain. There are plenty of folks who have significant evidence of arthritis but zero to minimal discomfort. If we can avoid aggravating our arthritic joints, (i.e. minimize inflammation), we can often limit our misery.
The goal of arthritis treatment is primarily to reduce symptoms of pain, inflammation, and swelling. Physical therapists accomplish this in various ways, including manual (hands-on) techniques, exercise (painfree gentle movement, often in gravity-reduced or eliminated situations like on a stationary bike or in water), and modalities (ice, heat, electrical stimulation, etc.). PTs also educate patients re: prevention and management of symptoms, joint protection (with splints, braces, etc.), and use of assistive devices (crutches, walkers, canes). Exercise consists of range-of-motion exercise to maintain joint mobility and strengthening exercises to improve joint stability.
Each patient may respond differently, so the key is to find out what works best for each individual and go from there.
References: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
Do you ever get tired of reading yet-another headline about The 10 Best Super Sports Foods, only be instructed to buy exotic fruits, ancient grains, and other unusual items? Do we really need chia, spelt, and quinoa? Is anything wrong with old-fashioned peanut butter, broccoli and brown rice? Doubtful! Powerful nutrients are found in standard foods that are readily available at a reasonable cost. You know, oranges, bananas, berries, oatmeal, almonds, hummus, lowfat yogurt, brown rice, tuna … the basic, wholesome foods recommended by the government’s My Plate (www.ChooseMyPlate.gov). Are those foods exotic? No. But do they still do a great job of offering super nutrition? Yes!
To add to the confusion about exotic sports foods, the sports food industry touts their list of engineered super sports supplements. Ads lead you to believe you really need to buy these products to support your athletic performance. The question arises: Are there really special nutrients or components of food that can help athletes to go faster, higher or stronger? If so, can they be consumed in the form of whole foods or do we actually need special commercial supplements?
At a 2014 meeting of Professionals in Nutrition for Exercise and Sport (PINESNutrition.org), exercise researchers from around the globe discussed that topic and provided the following answers to the following thought-provoking questions.
Is there any difference between consuming pre-exercise caffeine in the form of pills, gels or coffee?
Regardless of the source of caffeine (pill, gel, coffee), it is a popular way to enhance athletic performance. Take note: High doses of caffeine (2.5 to 4 mg/lb body weight; 6 to 9 mg/kg) are no better than the amount athletes typically consume in a cup or two of coffee (1.5 mg/lb; 3 mg/kg). Hence, drinking an extra cup of coffee is unlikely to be advantageous, particularly when consumed later in the day before an afternoon workout and ends up interfering with sleep.
Do tart (Montmorency) cherries offer any benefits to sports performance? If so, what’s the best way to consume them?
Tart cherries (and many other deeply colored fruits and veggies) are rich in health-protective antioxidants and polyphenols. Tart cherries can reduce inflammation, enhance post-exercise recovery, repair muscles, reduce muscle soreness, and improve sleep. Athletes who are training hard, participating in tournaments, or traveling through time zones might be wise to enjoy generous portions. Yet, to get the recommended dose of cherries that researchers use to elicit benefits, you would need to eat 90 to 110 cherries twice a day for seven days pre-event. Most athletes prefer to swig a shot of tart cherry juice concentrate instead!
What about food polyphenols such as quercetin and resveratrol?
Polyphenols are colorful plant compounds that are linked with good health when they are consumed in whole foods. Yet, polyphenol supplements, such as quercetin or resveratrol, do not offer the same positive anti-oxidant or anti-inflammatory benefits. An explanation might be that once in the colon, where most polyphenols go, parts leak into the bloodstream during heavy exercise. These smaller compounds create the anti-inflammatory effect. Athletes who routinely eat colorful fruits during endurance training offer their gut the opportunity to distribute good health!
Does curcumin reduce chronic inflammation?
Curcumin (an active constituent of tumeric, the spice that gives the yellow color to curry and mustard) has beneficial properties that have been shown to help prevent cancer, enhance eye health, and reduce inflammation. Subjects with osteoarthritis (an inflammatory condition) who took curcumin supplements for 8 months reported less pain (due to less inflammation) and better quality of life. Unfortunately, curcumin is rapidly metabolized and therefore has low bioavailability when consumed in the diet. To increase absorption, supplements often contain curcumin combined with piperine (black pepper extract).
Does green tea help improve body composition in athletes? What is the best way to take it?
Green tea reportedly enhances fat oxidation and helps with weight loss, particularly when combined with caffeine. But the amount of additional fat burned is minimal, and the 10 to 12 cups of green tea needed to create any effect is a bit overwhelming. (Hence, most studies use a green tea extract.) Because green tea has not been studied in lean athletes, we can only guess that it is unlikely to offer a significant improvement in body composition.
Is watermelon juice a powerful stimulant for sports performance?
Watermelon juice is a source of L-citrulline, an amino acid that contributes to production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps relax the blood vessels and thus enhances blood flow so more oxygen can get transported to the working muscles. One study with athletes who consumed L-citrulline supplements reports they attained a 7% higher peak power output as compared to when they exercised without L-citrulline.
Yet, when athletes were given watermelon juice (contains L-citrulline) or apple juice (that has no L-citrulline), the peak power was only slightly higher and the L-citrulline gave no significant benefits. The bottom line: Watermelon is a nourishing fruit and a welcome refreshment for thirsty athletes. You would need to eat a lot of watermelon to get the equivalent of L-citrulline found in (expensive) supplements. Your best bet is to enjoy watermelon in standard portions as a tasty addition to your sports diet.
What can be done with pea, hemp, or other plant protein to make them as effective as whey for building muscle?
In general, plants (such as peas, hemp) contain less leucine than found in animal proteins. Leucine helps drive the muscle’s ability to make new protein. Hence, to increase the muscle-building properties of plant proteins, you need to either eat large portions of, let’s say, hemp or pea protein (to get a bigger dose of leucine), or you can combine those plant-foods with leucine-rich proteins, such as soy, egg, or dairy foods.
The bottom line: Your best bet to optimize performance is to optimize your total sports diet. No amount of any supplement will compensate for lousy eating, though a few just might enhance a proper diet.
Boston-area sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD counsels both casual and competitive athletes. Her private practice is in Newton, MA (617-795-1875). For information about her Sports Nutrition Guidebook (new 5th edition) and food guides for runners, cyclists and soccer players, see www.nancyclarkrd.com. For online education, also see www.sportsnutritionworkshop.com.
You may have read Jaclyn’s recent post outlining her thoughts on the television show The Biggest Loser. Here, she follows up and outlines simple steps you can take to become the ‘biggest winner’ the healthy way, not relying on short term rapid weight loss to reach your goals.
Research demonstrates that rapid weight loss programs are not recommended nor do they support any correlation to long-term success. Follow some of these simple steps to maximize your chances for success in achieving your “healthy lifestyle goals.”
STEP 1: Assess your Readiness for Change
Embarking on something that you are not ready to do could be harmful because an unsuccessful program could impair your self-esteem and dampen future efforts to achieve your healthy lifestyle goals. Before setting any short or long-term goals, it is recommended to take some time to reflect on your reasons for wanting to set these goals and initiate this journey.
STEP 2: Realize you are an individual
Just as with success, we define what “healthy” means to us. This is an individual aspiration and although our loved one’s can help to motivate us to want to make changes, we ultimately need to aspire to our own picture of “healthy” in order for us to stick with new lifestyle changes. Define what healthy means to you!
STEP 3: Eat real food
Evaluate where you can make minor changes in your dietary intake. Increase fruits, vegetables and water and decrease your intake of sugar and processed food. Eat close to the earth and prepare as much food as possible on your own. But be realistic – don’t expect perfection! You can start by making small nutritional changes that have a big impact on your health! And remember….FIBER is your FRIEND!
Always remember that a calorie is not just a calorie. Contrary to what we were taught in school many years ago, it is not just as simple as calories in, calories out. Many different factors make up the quality of the calories you take in (or expend). To determine what the best foods are for YOU, it is best to contact a Registered Dietitian or qualified healthcare professional.
STEP 5: Exercise
Choose an activity you enjoy and get some professional advice on the right activities for you and how to do them safely. It should challenge your muscles so you get stronger, but exercise should not hurt. No Pain No Gain does NOT pertain to YOU if exercise is done properly.
STEP 6: Focus on progress
Rid yourself of the All IN or All OUT mentality. Rather than telling yourself “I need to lose X pounds” set small goals toward better health and be proud of your accomplishments in the process. Many times if we set a goal and don’t achieve it, we can give up all together thinking that if we don’t make it to the summit of the mountain, than what’s the point. You still made progress – reward yourself for that and get up tomorrow and do it again. If you fall into old habits, don’t beat yourself up – tomorrow is another day.
STEP 7: Simple Strategies
Switch from drinking soda to seltzer water. Keep raw nuts, carrots and high fiber foods readily available for snacking. Take a therapeutic walk every day. When you’re stronger and ready for something new, challenge yourself a little more with things like roller skating, indoor rock climbing, or setting a goal for a summer hike. If you fall into old habits, don’t beat yourself up – tomorrow is another day.
Everyone has different health goals, and the way we approach them is not a one-size-fits-all process. It’s about more than just numbers on a scale. It’s also about your energy, how you feel, and so many other factors. Health is a journey, and we are all on it together, but in different places. When we understand that, and support ourselves and each other, we all win. And THAT is the message I want my son, and all of America, to hear.
Jaclyn Chadbourne, MA is a Clinical Exercise Physiologist and Co-Owner of the Medically Oriented Gym (M.O.G.) in South Portland, Maine. With a passion for sustainable healthy living and desire to advocate for patient-centered care, Jaclyn works to help the M.O.G. support community resources for all special populations and to implement and oversee clinical protocols. Read more from the MOG on their website, themoggroup.com/blog
Like it or not, every one of us is getting older, day by day. As a fitness exerciser or an athlete, you might wonder how aging impacts performance—and what you can do to retain youthful fitness. The following information is gathered from a workshop (www.sportsnutritionworkshop.com) presented by Dr. William Evans, an exercise physiologist and expert on aging, muscles, and protein. The following information can help you chart a healthy course into your future.