Posts Tagged “health”

10 Top Health & Wellness Trends this 2019

10 Top Health & Wellness Trends this 2019

 

This year has been a year when most of the world focused on health and wellness in a more holistic manner: both physical and mental wellness. And it is beginning to look like 2019 will be a glorious continuation of what we have been opening our minds up to in 2018. So what can we expect to see in the health and wellness sphere in 2019?

1. Ayurveda

The 5,000-year-old health system, Ayurveda (in Sanskrit means “knowledge of life”) is responsible for a lot of health movements in 2018. Perhaps the most familiar of which would be the ketogenic diet. Ayurveda is an old system of medicine that incorporates plants and animal products, particularly fats. The practice of Ayurveda involves using fats both for consumption, meaning eating fats like ghee, and external use, like oils for the skin. The practice connects both mind and body in bringing about wellness.

2. More Plant Based Alternatives

Plant based diet

2018 has seen the rise of plant based food, a whopping 23% rise in sales. Gone are the days when the choices we had regarding plant based food were TVP and tofu. Now it is beginning to look like there will be a huge movement in the plant based fish sector. Expect your local Whole Foods aisles to have more plant based fish meat choices. The plant based fish movement stemmed from the awareness of people of the negative impact of over fishing has on our environment.

3. More Sleep

More Sleep

A lot of people, students and workers alike, are severely lacking in sleep. In the coming year, we will have a better understanding of our circadian rhythm and the effects of melatonin and cortisol on our sleep patterns. If these two hormones get out of whack, our circadian rhythm will be thrown out of its cycle and our sleep gets messed up.

4. CBD Oil

This year has seen a massive rise in popularity of CBD oil. Despite its being taboo in certain circles, Whole Foods Market’s projection predicts that CBD oil will have an even higher spike in popularity in 2019.

 

Expect that in the coming year, we will be learning more about the endocannabinoid system or the ECS. This is a major bodily system which compounds like CBD and other cannabinoids interact with. We have seen how CBD oil has helped manage anxiety and we’ve marvelled at its anti-inflammatory and anti-seizure effects. Cannabis might also help with setting our sleep pattern straight. It most certainly helps with keeping a lid on anxiety and stress.

5. Eco - Consciousness

Eco-consciousness

More and more people are becoming aware of global warming and the dire situation the Earth is currently in. Expect that in 2019, the strong rise of the eco-friendly movement will continue. It is predicted that the use of single use plastics and other single use items will see a further decline and the BYOB (bring your own bag) movement will continue to become more popular.

6. Mental Health

Mental health

This year, mental health continues to be given its due importance. People are now realising that in order to be physically healthy, you need to think about your mental health as well. Hemp based products (like CBD oil) has become a more popular alternative to the usual stress medications. It is predicted that 2019 will see the continuation of this mental health trend.

7. Oat Milk

Oat Milk

Is oat milk the new soy? This year, sales have grown by an impressive 45%. Lactose averse people have found a good alternative to dairy and soy milk and the rise of its popularity does not seem to be ending soon. Grab yourself a bottle of oat milk this 2019 because it looks like they will be flying off the shelves still.

 

8. MCT Oil

MCT Oil

Aside from CBD, 2018 brought MCT (medium chain triglycerides) oil into the spotlight. This oil is odourless and colourless and stays liquid at room temperature. Putting MCT oil into your coffee, making it “bulletproof” is a good way of boosting your energy. Expect to see MCT become even more popular in 2019 as more people become aware of its benefits.

9. Body Positivity

Body positivity

Thanks to Rihanna and her Fenty brand, body positivity moved from the fringes to mainstream. Body positivity saw a rise in popularity in 2018 as more and more people focus on loving their bodies instead of shrinking them to fit into the image that society wanted them to look. As more people shift their focus to mental health, this 2019 will see an even bigger rise in the body positivity movement.

10. Hemp Based Products

Hemp Based Products

Aside from CBD oil, hemp based products have found their way into our lives from our beauty products, to our food. With the 2018 Farm Bill already signed into law, hemp based farming will be legal nationwide. Expect that in 2019, there will be more choices in hemp based products.

This article first appeared on MadebyHemp.com

Popular Weight Loss Supplements Reviewed

Popular Weight Loss Supplements Reviewed

As we train the next generation of of fitness professionals at SFE Academy, we often get emails sent to us with questions posed to us like “how to lose weight fast without exercise” or “how to lose weight fast in 2 weeks”.

 

Our reply is always “A balanced diet with plenty of exercise” you need to get the energy balance equation on your side.

 

The supplement industry is big business, we wanted to scientifically analyse the most popular weight loss or weight gain supplements out there to see if the evidence matched the claim…

Garcinia Cambogia

What is it?

Garcinia gummi -gutta is also more commonly known as Gacinia cambogia. A fruit that has a similar shape to a pumpkin but is much smaller and green or yellow in colour. It is widely used in cooking and the fruit is a native of Indonesia.

The claim: 

It can help weight loss.

How it works: 

(-) – hydroxycitric acid (HCA) is a compound that can be found in Garcinia cambogia and is a derivative of citric acid. Research suggests that (-) – hydroxycitric acid (HCA) inhibits the activity f the enzyme adenosine triphosphatase citrate lyase which plays a role in the synthesis of fatty acids in the body. Furthermore, Garcina cambogia is said to increase serotonin release in the brain leading to suppression of appetite.

What does the evidence say?

One study shows that Garcinia cambogia supplementation led to a small reduction in weight of about 2lbs in a period of between 2-12 weeks compared to the placebo control group.  (1, 234567, 8, 9, 10 )

However…

Studies also suggest that Garcinia cambogia supplementation has no statistically significant effect on weight loss. A large study to examine the effect of taking Garcinia cambogia suggest no effect on weight loss at all; (11, 12)

Summary:

Some studies have shown weight loss through Garcinia cambogia supplementation and other have not. The current optimal does levels are currently unknown. One study has suggested a link between supplementation and a reduction in belly fat.

Pyruvate

What is it?

Pyruvate is a 3-carbon intermediate molecule produced in the last step of anaerobic glycolysis.

The claim: Increased energy and weight loss

How it works:

One of the end products of anaerobic glycolysis that takes place in the cell and responsible for part of our energy production systems carries carbon atoms into the mitochondria for the Krebs cycle and is also responsible for the production of acetyl co-enzyme A (acetyl-CoA). The current theory for supplementation is that by having more pyruvate available for the mitochondria, you are increasing its energy production capacity. There, increasing metabolic rate and acting as a fat burner.

What does the evidence say?

Studies have suggested that pyruvate supplementation does not have any effect of fat loss (16,) one study showed a decrease in body weight and fat mass. However, this result should be interpreted carefully as the study group also participated in a vigorous exercise program along with pyruvate supplementation, so it could be that increased exercise regime that is producing the weight loss. (13, 14, 15, 171819)

Summary:

Pyruvate supplementation does not show any effect on reducing fat mass or promoting weight loss. Nor is there any evidence that total cholesterol, blood pressure, training volume or muscular power out are affected in any way by

Green Tea

What is it?

Green tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. The difference between Green tea and normal black tea is that the green tea leaves have not been processed.

The claim: Reduces body fat helps weight loss

How it works

Green tea contains many antioxidants. One such molecule called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) this has an affect on adipogenesis (fat cell production) and lipolysis (fat burning)

What does the evidence say?

Studies do suggest that Green Tea does increase fat burning and promote fat loss over the long term (12 weeks or more) however, caffeine contained within the Green tea may also play a role in fat loss too. Caffeine sensitive people should avoid excessive caffeine consumption. (20, 212223 )

 

Summary:

Green tea can increase fat burning. People with a caffeine sensitivity should be aware of the risks of a high caffeine intake.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

What is it?

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a fatty acid derived from linoleic acid. Linoleic acid is found in many dairy, animal products and oils.

The claim: Increases fat loss and weight loss

How it works

Thought to have a role in energy production, fat burning, inflammation and fat production.

What does the evidence say?

In short, the results are mixed. Some studies in obese populations suggests that CLA is effective at decreasing body fat mass where as other studies suggest that it s not effective at helping to reduce body fat mass in healthy populations (people not classified as obese) Continued and long term consumption of CLA has been attributed to fatty liver, digestive problems and insulin resistance.   (24, 25, 26, 27)

weight gain.

Summary:

Will only produce modest fat loss in some people and can be dangerous in the long term. Taking CLA long term does not prevent weight gain.

Forskolin

What is it?

Found in the plant Coleus forskohlii.

The claim: Promotes weight loss

How it works

Forskolin increases levels of Cyclic AMP (cAMP) in cells which could stimulate fat burning (28, 29)

What does the evidence say?

One study suggests that Forskolin resulted in a decrease in body fat percentage, body fat and it also showed an increase in bone density. However, the same study also saw a rise in testosterone levels amongst the obese men and women tested. Testosterone has a well-documented fat burning effect as well as muscle and bone building properties. This could have accounted for the fat loss seen.

 

Summary:

No clear evidence of Forskolin as a fat burner.

Bitter Orange / Synephrine

What is it?

The real name for bitter orange is ‘Citrus aurantium’ and contains the active molecule p-synephrine.

The claim: Weight loss, appetite control, increased energy

 

How it works

p-synephrine is similar to ephedrine which is a stimulant but does not affect the cardiovascular system in the same way as ephedrine or norepinephrine. (30) p-synephrine/bitter orange is reported to also increase your metabolic rate.

What does the evidence say?

One study looking at the effects of bitter orange on weight loss and mood suggest that the 20 overweight men and women in the study did lose small amounts of weight, but they were also taking caffeine with the biter orange extract pills. This could have attributed to the weight loss seen as caffeine can have potent fat burning effects. There was an increase metabolism for all the men and women in the study. (31)

 

Summary:

There is too little evidence for its fat burning properties to say that it is likely to lead to weight loss. More evidence is needed to conclude its effectiveness either way.

Raspberry Ketones

What is it?

Raspberry ketones are found in raspberries, cranberries and blackberries.

The claim: Helps you lose weight

How it works

The Raspberry ketones have been shown to down regulate some of proteins essential for fat production, storage and fat burning.

What does the evidence say?

The studies on humans are limited. However, some of the studies on rats show that the raspberry ketones do produce a fat burning effect.

Summary:

No evidence that raspberry ketones have any effect on fat burning or weight loss. (32)

Gene doping – How editing our genes for performance may be about to become mainstream

Gene doping – How editing our genes for performance may be about to become mainstream

Gene Doping

 

 

What is Gene Doping?

 

Gene doping is the use of DNA to alter how a gene works. It involves injecting new DNA into the body directly for the sole purpose of enhancing performance of an athlete.  The world anti-doping agency (WADA) is the international organisation tasked with ensuring sport is free from doping. Its core vision is “A world where all athletes can compete in a doping-free sporting environment.”   

 

WADA has undergone its fair share of criticism of late. The uncovering of systemic doping by athletes of the Russian federation in collusion with the authorities and the unsubstantiated counter claims made by them against other nations has sown discord and doubt in the public mind’s eye about the effectiveness of the international governing body that is supposed to prevent these kinds of abuses. Is a higher game afoot? A kind of 3D chess among competing geopolitical interests, although using the syringe as a chess piece? This article aims to examine the new frontier in performance enhancement, its leaps, its bounds and how we all might have to face its consequences.  

 

A brief history of gene technology and how we got to gene doping 

 

The Human Genome project (HGP) was an international research project to map all of the genes in all Human beings. The HGP project completed the sequencing of all Human genes. The circa 25,500 genes that form the hereditary blueprint for all Humans is now used across the world in research laboratories to try and understand how the genes are expressed. The HGP has had direct and indirect influences in fields as diverse as forensics, agriculture, molecular medicine, microbial genomics, and archaeology and now it seems sport too.  

 

Key Dates in the development of gene therapy and editing. 

 

To understand the role of gene doping in sport and exercise it is necessary to have an overview of the current state of gene technology and from the starting point of the HGP. These are some of the key developments in this field.  

 

  • 2005 – Gene therapy approved and used for the first time by scientists in Japan. In this case, the P53 gene had been delivered to a patient with squamous cell head and neck cancer.  

 

 

  • 2006 – Development of genetically engineered lymphocytes shows promise as a cancer treatment.  

 

  • 2011 – Successful use of gene therapy to treat haemophilia in mice.  

 

  • 2013Studies into the efficacy of using transcription activator like effector nuclease (TALENS) to correct an inherited skin disorder Epidermolysis Bullosa 

 

  • 2015 – Results from a phase 2 trial using Zinc finger nuclease to modify CD4 and CD8 cells to treat HIV patients.  

 

 

 

 

How Gene Expression is Regulated

 

There are two main ways that genes are regulated; control of transcription (DNA converted into its complimentary RNA code – think of a coat zip being undone) and translation (messenger RNA (mRNA) is used to make amino acids that make up proteins in your body) and changes in the structure of DNA.  Your DNA is a blueprint for the production of proteins which make up you. The blueprint is made up of four different bases; Adenine (A), Cytosine (C), Thymine (T) and Guanine (G). In RNA, Thymine is replaced with Uracil (U). The bases link up with specific bases to form base pairs; A&T, C&G 

 

Mutations are ways that the DNA can be altered and in some cases the alteration of DNA has effects on the way a protein is made and the gene is expressed.  One example of this is a point mutation.  Mutations to individual bases can be introduced by either substituting a base with another base or when a base pair is either substituted or deleted. Furthermore, an example of a point mutation is Tay- Sachs disease, Cystic fibrosis and Sickle cell anaemia 

 

There are a number of ways in which gene doping can potentially enhance performance. The up-regulation of some cellular functions in certain organs and tissues that lead to enhancing the capacity of the tissue or organ to deliver increased performance.  There are a number of candidate genes that if tweaked, could lead to performance enhancements.  

 

Endurance – Red Blood Cell Production  

 

Red blood cells (erythrocytes) are cells responsible for the transport of oxygen from the lungs to the cell and carbon dioxide from the cell to the lungs. It is easy to see why this would be a target for genetic manipulation for the purposes of performance enhancement. Erythropoietin is a hormone responsible for the production and maturation of erythrocytes.

 

Gene doping - Altering EPO to increase erythrocyte production

Credit: Human Genome Research Institute

90% of EPO is produced in the kidneys whilst the remaining 10% produced in the Liver.  Furthermore, the production of erythrocytes is regulated by the concentration of oxygen circulating in the body. In normal oxygen concentration conditions (normoxia) of the body, the activation of hypoxia-inducible transcription factor 1 alpha (HIF1α) is curtailed. As a result, the production of red blood cells in the body ameliorated. However, in conditions where oxygen levels are low (hypoxia) HIF1α binds to the Erythropoietin (EPO) gene leading to the gene being up-regulated which leads to increased levels of EPO. Therefore, the production of erythrocytes will increase as will the haemoglobin and haematocrit levels.Furthermore, this leads to an increase oxygen and carbon dioxide carrying capacity of the body. Ergo… increased performance.  

 

Muscle Strength and Endurance – Insulin like Growth Factor type 1 (IGF1)

 

IGF1 is produced in the liver and is controlled by growth hormone. The release of IGF1 stimulated by sleep, low blood glucose levels, hypoglycemia, high intensity exercise and low levels of IGF1 itself. This in turn stimulates the pituitary gland to release growth hormone which then releases IGF1.  

 

IGF1 has a role in muscle building (hypertrophy) this leads to increases in muscle power. Therefore, performance. It has been postulated that copies of the IGF1 gene could be inserted into muscle cells to cause hypertrophy. This could be valuable for strength and power events such as weightlifting and sprinting.  

 

Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) & Fibroblast Growth Factor (FGF) 

 

Oxygen, carbon dioxide, nutrients and metabolic waste are all delivered or extricated by the vascular system. The body has a series of vessels connected to all organs and tissues for this purpose. Also, VEGF promotes the growth of the existing vasculature in a process termed angiogenesis. Whereas, FGF has a role in angiogenesis and tissues repair. The idea is that when copies of the gene coding for VEGF or FGF are introduced into muscle, this then will have the effect of promoting angiogenesis and increase muscles blood supply as a result.  

 

The role in sports performance is that a greater vascular micro structure results in increased oxygen deliver to the muscles and greater energy production for exercise.  

 

Gene doping and VEGF expression

The Vascular System.

Alpha Actinin 3

 

Alpha Actinin 3 (ACTN3) is postulated to play a role in fast twitch muscle contractions. This type of muscle fiber (fast twitch) is different from other fibers primarily by the way in which energy is derived for muscles contractions and how efficient the fiber is at producing energy from that ‘energy system’. ACTN3 has been termed the ‘speed gene’. A recent study suggests that ACTN3 plays an important role in muscle metabolism and the fatigability of the muscle. However, the study does not suggest that it plays a role in muscle hypertrophy.   

 

ACTN3 would be an obvious candidate for genetic manipulation to enhance speed performance in athletes. However,  if ACTN3 were to be down regulated to cause a deficiency, there could be a performance benefit for more endurance trained athletes.  

 

 

Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor – α, β, δ, γ

 

PPAR’s play a role in cell differentiation and metabolism. There actions differ between to the four subsets but their use for the performance enhancement is interesting. They play a role in fat (lipid) metabolism, glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity. All three would be beneficial to an athlete interested in surreptitiously improving performance. Lipid metabolism in the liver and fat cells (adipocytes) is regulated by PPARα as is the breakdown (catabolism) and β oxidation of fatty acids (lipid metabolism). PPARβ, δ and γ on the other hand are responsible for the metabolism of glucose.  

 

The up-regulation of these genes would provide benefits in the increase in uptake of glucose by the cell. Therefore, increasing energy metabolism for exercise. Increased β oxidation would also provide benefits to energy production for exercise but it would also help athletes who need to ensure they are in the right weight category during competition such boxing, MMA and even bodybuilding.  

 

If the PPAR gene expression is exploited, it is also easy to see how this could easily cross into the main stream from elite sport. The proliferation and widespread abuse of anabolic steroids and growth hormone in gyms and health clubs today only reinforces the idea that societal pressure placed upon people to look good can lead people down all sorts of quick fix avenues.  

 

Gene Doping to Increase Psychological Performance.  

 

Several studies have assessed the possible candidates for altering the expression of certain genes that govern emotional control, stress and an athletes outlook during competitions. There are two main gene candidates in this regard; serotonin transporters (5HTT) and Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Altering the expression of these genes could produce improvements in all of the above psychological factors to accompany any physical changes the athlete experiences due to gene doping.  

  

Ethical and Philosophical Considerations

 

Altering the genes to enhance performance, is this cheating? Is this dangerous? Or is it inevitable? Gene doping raises some obvious ethical arguments.  Because the pace of change in the field of genetics means that we are fast approaching the point at which we will be in a world where athletes routinely alter their genes to gain the advantage. However. this has ramifications for us all. The use of anabolic steroids in the competitive bodybuilding in the 60’s and 70’s and the subsequent rise of the health and fitness industry in the intervening time has leached into the mainstream.  

 

Should we expect this to cross over too? Will society deal with it when gene doping does come along and what are the implications for society when we are in the era when gym members start to artificially alter the ways their genes are expressed just to look good? One could also argue that we all inherit  DNA, chromosomes and genes from successive generations with their own unique mutations. Some beneficial, some not so and some fatal.  

 

Why is Usain Bolt so fast? Is it to do with how ACTN3 is expressed and used in his muscles? What if another 100m runner didn’t have the same mutation as Usain Bolt or other runners. Therefore, giving a genetic disadvantage.  

 

By artificially altering our genes aren’t we just introducing mutations in a controlled way and leveling the playing field?  

 

In conclusion, It has only been since 2003 that we managed to map the Human genome. Although the pace of change in the field of gene editing, therapy, molecular medicine and others are increasing exponentially. However,  we are still in its infancy and there is a lot we have yet to learn and the dangers have not yet been fully realised.  

 

 Gene doping - Gene editing

Gene Doping: Editing the your way to performance?
Bogus trainers and a cluttered fitness training market.

Bogus trainers and a cluttered fitness training market.

Bogus trainers and a cluttered fitness training market.

 

 

The health and fitness industry has grown and as a nation we are becoming more interested in alternative health regimes. The fitness industry has grown in popularity around the world and alternative well-being is top of the agenda. Keeping fit and valuing our well-being, is highly recommended by personal trainers, doctors and other health practitioners to their patients. Furthermore, as an industry, we search out an instructor who can introduce us to a safe practice and have the right qualities and competencies to be a trainer.

 

A recent experience rushing from my daily chores to my yoga class, I but found a cover teacher instead. Yes, I was a little disappointed but inside my chattering mind, I thought just ‘give it a go’. As the class went on, I wasn’t assured by her practice. I felt there was no connection between her students and no flow and no adaptation to my needs made in the class. No encouragement and no emotional quotient. Yoga is supposed to be about looking inward and having a mind-body connection, not about posing.

 

What do others in the health and fitness industry say?

Ali Valdez sums up the health and fitness fitness industry and how the lack of knowledge, philosophy or emotional maturity to your practice can be detrimental to clients. “The fitness phenomenon has grown to big business, you can become a yoga instructor doing a 200 hour certificate program! Fantastic article on bogus trainers that don’t reflect the meditative skills, physical and spiritual guidance associated with genuine trainers.”

I’ve recently questioned the fitness industry as a whole and in the UK. There are no official qualifications required to teach yoga, so anyone can technically create a class and charge the “I saw you coming prices” for one to one lessons. Paul Fox from The British Wheel of Yoga (BWY) explains. That the fitness industry has become ‘shorter, less-vigorous, cheaper courses, which are mopping up the increasing appetite for teacher training.’

 

Bogus trainers and a cluttered fitness training market.

The way forward…

So, here’s my conclusion, to all this confusion the fitness industry if you are planning to step into any instruction programme. I would invest in time and money with accredited certification. Surely, there is a ‘duty of care’ as an instructor to provide validity as a qualified trainer. Therefore, protect the consumer. The potential consequences of this lack of regulation are poor competencies, potential injury to the client, and poor public perception of personal trainers. Additionally, it isn’t known whether personal trainers are meeting the needs of their clients. The criteria used in hiring them seems not to be clear.

Finally, I think that with the right tools trainers should project lifelong gains and to deliver the correct training processes. It is in the best interests of the  training establishments that there is available support to deliver high quality, professional and a confident approach.

Bogus trainers? Maybe. A way forward for for the industry? to coin a phrase ” Things can only get better”

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