Nutrition

Heart-Healthy Diet: New Studies

Several recent articles provide new data on which foods are associated with both your health and your longevity. The current issue of JAMA (2017;317(9):912-924).contains a major statistical analysis of the association between diet quality and rates of death from the cardiometabolic diseases (heart disease, strokes and type II diabetes). This review of more than 700,000 deaths in 2012 from heart attacks, strokes and diabetes in the U.S. shows that almost half of the deaths were associated with poor dietary habits. The 10 specific dietary factors were:

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High-Carb or High-Fat Diet?

On an endurance ride a roadie is cruising along at a conversational pace, burning fat for fuel. Climbing a fairly steep hill, the roadie also starts burning glucose for fuel. The harder the roadie is going, the greater proportion of the rider’s energy comes from glucose. You can store 1,500 to 2,000 calories of glycogen in your body, which your body metabolizes as glucose to fuel your muscles. On a longer ride with real climbing, on a shorter club ride hammering with your buddies, and during an interval workout, you’re burning lots of glucose. When you run out of glucose — you’ve bonked!

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Convert White Fat Cells into Fat-Burning Brown Fat Cells

In the United States since the end of World War II, there has been an increasing epidemic of obesity and diabetes. This month Dr. Alexander Pfeifer, of the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Bonn in Germany, showed that mice can lose a lot of weight just by converting their harmful white fat cells into energy-consuming brown-fat cells (Cell Reports, January 3, 2017;18:225–236). We will await further research to see if this concept can be applied to humans.

 

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Eat Whole Grains, Not Flour

Whole grains are healthful, while refined grains (foods made from flour) can be harmful, particularly if you are overweight or have high blood sugar levels. A recent review of 20 studies, with 2,282,603 participants and 191,979 deaths during the study periods, found that greater intake of whole grains was significantly associated with lower risk of all-cause mortality (Adv Nutr, November 2016;7:1052-1065). Each additional three servings of whole grains per day was associated with a 25 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Many other studies agree with these findings:

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Aspirin's Benefits from Plants

A few weeks ago I reviewed data explaining why most doctors now recommend that heart attack-susceptible men and women, aged 50 to 69, take a baby aspirin daily or every other day to help prevent heart attacks and colon cancer, prompting more than 50 million Americans to take aspirin regularly. However, people who take low-dose aspirin regularly are at 58 percent increased risk for gastrointestinal bleeding and 27 percent increased risk for hemorrhagic stroke, and these risks increase with aging (Ann Intern Med, June 21, 2016;164(12):826-35).

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Caffeine Boosts Endurance and Strength

A review of 34 recent studies shows that taking caffeine before and during exercise can increase muscle strength and endurance (European Journal of Nutrition, published online October 18, 2016;1-15). Taking 1-2 mg of caffeine per pound of body weight can enhance performance of athletes. A 150-pound athlete will get maximum benefit from two to three cups of strong coffee, which has about 100mg of caffeine per cup.

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Big Sugar Paid Harvard to Say that Sugar is Healthful

My faith in several of my Harvard mentors during the 1950s and 1960s has been shattered by an article that appeared this week in JAMA Internal Medicine (September 12, 2016). Cristin E. Kearns, a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF, discovered letters in the archives at Harvard, the University of Illinois and other libraries showing that from the 1960s onward, the sugar industry paid respected researchers at Harvard to write that sugar is not harmful.

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Nausea: Don’t Let It Be A Showstopper, Part 1

Coach Hughes is doing something a little different this week – offering RBR readers a chance to help diagnose the issues leading to one reader's problems with nausea on rides. The coach presents the dialogue he had with Andy, an accomplished rider, about the various factors that could contribute to the problem (including the weather conditions he rides in, his level of fatigue, his hydration and nutrition, how hard he pushes himself, etc.). Afterward, you can make your own diagnosis, and Coach Hughes will weigh in next week with his own. Let's test your knowledge! 

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Nausea: Don’t Let It Be A Showstopper, Part 2

Coach Hughes is doing something a little different this week – offering RBR readers a chance to help diagnose the issues leading to one reader's problems with nausea on rides. Last week, the coach presented the dialogue he had with Andy, an accomplished rider, about the various factors that could contribute to the problem (including the weather conditions he rides in, his level of fatigue, his hydration and nutrition, how hard he pushes himself, etc.). Afterward, he challenged you to make your own diagnosis. This week, he's checking your work, weighing in with his own diagnosis.

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What Electrolytes Do You Really Need?

NASA announced recently that the first six months of 2016 were the hottest ever recorded. Temperatures were 2.4 degrees Fahrenheit higher than average between January and June this year, compared to the late 19th century. Earth has now had 14 months in a row of the hottest temperatures seen since records began to be kept in 1880, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Of course, we've all continued to ride, haven't we? Outside in the heat, knowing how to properly stay hydrated and replenishing the vital electrolytes you need is growing in importance.

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Eating Like an Olympian, Part 1

What did riders in the pelotons of the Olympic road races eat each day to support their training and racing? Personalized to the individual athlete is the key recommendation. According to British dietitian Gabrielle Maston, “A lot of athletes [at the Olympics] are on stringent nutrition programs and they do have dietitians on board,” to meet this recommendation. (Daily Mail Monday, Aug 8th 2016) Most recreational roadies can improve both your riding, and your health, by following a few simple recommendations. No pills, supplements or sports nutrition are necessary!

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