Archive for March, 2013

Caffeine Myths & Facts

March 31, 2013

Caffeine myth or caffeine fact? It’s not always easy to know. Chances are you have some real misperceptions about caffeine. For starters, do you know the most common sources of caffeine? Well, maybe two of the sources aren’t too hard to name — coffee and tea leaves. But did you know kola nuts and cocoa beans are also included among the most common caffeine sources? And do you know how much caffeine content can vary from food to food? Turns out it’s quite a lot actually, depending on the type and serving size of a food or beverage and how it’s prepared.

Caffeine content can range from as much as 160 milligrams in some energy drinks to as little as 4 milligrams in a 1-ounce serving of chocolate-flavored syrup. Even decaffeinated coffee isn’t completely free of caffeine. Caffeine is also present in some over-the-counter pain relievers, cold medications, and diet pills. These products can contain as little as 16 milligrams or as much as 200 milligrams of caffeine. In fact, caffeine itself is a mild painkiller and increases the effectiveness of other pain relievers.

Want to know more? Read on. WebMD has examined some of the most common myths about caffeine and gathered the facts to shed some light on those myths.

Caffeine Myth No. 1: Caffeine Is Addictive

This one has some truth to it, depending on what you mean by “addictive.” Caffeine is a stimulant to the central nervous system, and regular use of caffeine does cause mild physical dependence. But caffeine doesn’t threaten your physical, social, or economic health the way addictive drugs do. (Although after seeing your monthly spending at the coffee shop, you might disagree!)

If you stop taking caffeine abruptly, you may have symptoms for a day or more, especially if you consume two or more cups of coffee a day. Symptoms of withdrawal from caffeine include:

  • headache
  • fatigue
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • depressed mood
  • difficulty concentrating

No doubt, caffeine withdrawal can make for a few bad days. However, caffeine does not cause the severity of withdrawal or harmful drug-seeking behaviors as street drugs or alcohol. For this reason, most experts don’t consider caffeine dependence a serious  addiction.

Caffeine Myth No. 2: Caffeine Is Likely to Cause Insomnia

Your body quickly absorbs caffeine. But it also gets rid of it quickly. Processed mainly through the liver, caffeine has a relatively short half-life. This means it takes about five to seven hours, on average, to eliminate half of it from your body. After eight to 10 hours, 75% of the caffeine is gone. For most people, a cup of coffee or two in the morning won’t interfere with sleep at night.

Consuming caffeine later in the day, however, can interfere with sleep. If you’re like most people, your sleep won’t be affected if you don’t consume caffeine at least six hours before going to bed. Your sensitivity may vary, though, depending on your metabolism and the amount of caffeine you regularly consume. People who are more sensitive may not only experience insomnia but also have caffeine side effects of nervousness and gastrointestinal upset.

Caffeine Myth No. 3: Caffeine Increases Risk for Conditions Such as Osteoporosis, Heart Disease, and Cancer

Moderate amounts of caffeine — about 300 milligrams, or three cups of coffee — apparently cause no harm in most healthy adults. Some people are more vulnerable to its effects, however. That includes such people as those who have high blood pressure or are older. Here are the facts:

  • Osteoporosis and caffeine. At high levels (more than 744 milligrams/day), caffeine may increase calcium and magnesium loss in urine. But recent studies suggest it does not increase your risk for bone loss, especially if you get enough calcium. You can offset the calcium lost from drinking one cup of coffee by adding just two tablespoons of milk. However, research does show some links between caffeine and hip fracture risk in older adults. Older adults may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine on calcium metabolism. If you’re an older woman, discuss with your doctor whether you should limit your daily caffeine intake to 300 milligrams or less.
  • Cardiovascular disease and caffeine. A slight, temporary rise in heart rate and blood pressure is common in those who are sensitive to caffeine. But several large studies do not link caffeine to higher cholesterol, irregular heartbeats, or an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. If you already have high blood pressure, though, have a discussion with your doctor about your caffeine intake. You may be more sensitive to its effects. Also, more research is needed to tell whether caffeine increases the risk for stroke in people with high blood pressure.
  • Cancer and caffeine. Reviews of 13 studies involving 20,000 people revealed no relationship between cancer and caffeine. In fact, caffeine may even have a protective effect against certain cancers.

Caffeine Myth No. 4: Caffeine Is Harmful for Women Trying to Get Pregnant

Many studies show no links between low amounts of caffeine (a cup of coffee per day) and any of the following:

  • trouble conceiving
  • miscarriage
  • birth defects
  • premature birth
  • low birth rate

At the same time, for pregnant women or those attempting pregnancy, the March of Dimes suggests fewer than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day. That’s largely because in limited studies, women consuming higher amounts of caffeine had an increased risk for miscarriage.

Caffeine Myth No. 5: Caffeine Has a Dehydrating Effect

Caffeine can make you need to urinate. However, the fluid you consume in caffeinated beverages tends to offset the effects of fluid loss when you urinate. The bottom line is that although caffeine does act as a mild diuretic, studies show drinking caffeinated drinks doesn’t actually cause dehydration.

Caffeine Myth No. 6: Caffeine Harms Children, Who, Today, Consume Even More Than Adults

As of 2004, children ages 6 to 9 consumed about 22 milligrams of caffeine per day. However, energy drinks that contain caffeine are becoming increasingly popular.

Studies suggest that up to 300 milligrams of caffeine daily is safe for kids. But is it smart? Many kids are sensitive to caffeine, developing temporary anxiety or irritability, with a “crash” afterwards. Also, most caffeine that kids drink is in sodas, energy drinks, or sweetened teas, all of which have high sugar content. These empty calories put kids at higher risk for obesity.

Even if the caffeine itself isn’t harmful, caffeinated drinks are generally not good for kids.

Caffeine Myth No. 7: Caffeine Can Help You Sober Up

Actually, research suggests that people only think caffeine helps them sober up. For example, people who drink caffeine along with alcohol think they’re OK behind the wheel. But the truth is reaction time and judgment are still impaired. College kids who drink both alcohol and caffeine are actually more likely to have car accidents.

Caffeine Myth No. 8: Caffeine Has No Health Benefits

Caffeine has few proven health benefits. But the list of caffeine’s potential benefits is interesting. Any regular coffee drinker may tell you that caffeine improves alertness, concentration, energy, clear-headedness, and feelings of sociability. You might even be the type who needs that first cup o’ Joe each morning before you say a single word. Scientific studies support these subjective findings. One French study even showed a slower decline in cognitive ability among women who consumed caffeine.

Other possible benefits include improved immune function from caffeine’s anti-inflammatory effects and help with allergic reactions due to caffeine’s ability to reduce concentrations of histamines. Some people’s asthma also appears to benefit from caffeine. These research findings are intriguing, but still need to be proven.

Limited evidence suggests caffeine may also reduce the risk of the following:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • liver disease
  • colorectal cancer
  • type 2 diabetes
  • dementia

Despite its potential benefits, don’t forget that high levels of caffeine may have adverse effects. More studies are needed to confirm both its benefits and potential risks.

Information sourced from:

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Asparagus, Capsicum & Goats Cheese Frittata

March 28, 2013

Healthy Inspirations Coffs Coast

Serves 4


  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 bunches asparagus, sliced into 2cm pieces
  • 8 large eggs
  • ¾ cup roasted red capsicum, diced
  • 60g goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 spring onion, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil


  1. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over moderate heat. Add half the olive oil and the asparagus. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is tender, about 7 – 8 minutes. Uncover to let moisture evaporate, then remove from heat and let asparagus cool.
  2. Lightly beat the eggs in a medium bowl. Add the asparagus, capsicum, cheese, spring onion, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix gently.
  3. Heat the skillet over moderate heat, add remaining oil and heat for 30 seconds. Pour in the egg mixture and cook, stirring gently from the outside edge to the centre until the eggs are set on the sides and soft in the centre, about 6 – 7 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the grill. Place the skillet under the grill and cook until the eggs are set and the top is golden brown. Loosen the frittata from the pan and place a large plate upside-down on the pan and, using both hands and pot holders, invert the frittata. Sprinkle with basil and serve.

The 10 Laws of Injury Prevention for Runners

March 26, 2013

Follow these time-tested principles and you’ll spend more time running—and less in rehab


In the mid-1970s, Runner’s World medical editor George Sheehan, M.D., confirmed that he was hardly the only runner beset by injuries: A poll of the magazine’s readers revealed that 60 percent reported chronic problems. “One person in 100 is a motor genius,” who doesn’t have injuries, concluded the often-sidelined Sheehan. To describe himself and the rest of us, he turned to Ralph Waldo Emerson: “There is a crack in everything God has made.” With all the amazing advancements in sports medicine, you’d think that our rates of shinsplints and stress fractures would have dropped since Sheehan’s era. But 30 years after running’s first Big Boom, we continue to get hurt. A recent poll revealed that 66 percent of respondents had suffered an injury in 2009.

Still, I figured medical science must have uncovered lots of little-known prevention secrets. So I went searching for them. After reviewing hundreds of published papers, I was surprised to find few answers. Most of the studies are retrospective, looking back. A few are prospective, looking forward. Even then, they’re not the gold standard, which are randomized, controlled, double blind experiments. And conflicting results make it difficult to draw meaningful conclusions. I learned, for example, that running injuries can be caused by being female, being male, being old, being young, pronating too much, pronating too little, training too much, and training too little. Studies also indicate that the “wet test” doesn’t help shoe selection, old shoes don’t offer less cushioning than newer shoes, and leg-length discrepancies don’t cause injuries (but too-little sleep does). Oh, here’s good news: To get rid of blisters, you should drink less and smoke more.

Clearly, the medical studies wouldn’t offer much help. So I switched to Plan B: I interviewed nearly a dozen of the best running-injury experts in the world. They come from the fields of biomechanics, sports podiatry, and physical therapy. Like the medical studies, these experts didn’t always agree. But the more I talked with them, the more certain principles began to emerge. From these, I developed the following 10 laws of injury prevention. I can’t guarantee that these rules will prevent you from ever getting hurt. But if you incorporate these guidelines into your training, I’m confident you’ll be more likely to enjoy a long and healthy running life.

Know Your Limits

It’s easy to get injured; anyone can do it. Just run too much. “I firmly believe that every runner has an injury threshold,” says physical therapist and biomechanist Irene Davis, Ph.D., from the University of Delaware’s Running Injury Clinic. “Your threshold could be at 10 miles a week, or 100, but once you exceed it, you get injured.” Various studies have identified injury-thresholds at 11, 25, and 40 miles per week. Your threshold is waiting for you to discover it.

Of course, your goal is to avoid injury. Runner and sports podiatrist Stephen Pribut, D.P.M., warns runners to beware the “terrible toos”—doing too much, too soon, too fast. Every research paper and every expert agrees that this—”training errors”—is the number one cause of self-inflicted running injuries. The body needs time to adapt from training changes and jumps in mileage or intensity. Muscles and joints need recovery time so they can recover and handle more training demands. If you rush that process, you could break down rather than build up.

Running experts have recognized this problem, and long ago devised an easy-to-use 10-percent rule: Build your weekly training mileage by no more than 10 percent per week. If you run 10 miles the first week, do just 11 miles the second week, 12 miles the third week, and so on.

Yet, there may be times when even a modest 10 percent increase proves too much. Biomechanist Reed Ferber, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the faculty of kinesiology and head of the Running Injury Clinic at the University of Calgary says that he sees a lot of newly injured runners during that third month of marathon training, when a popular 16-week Canadian program pushes the mileage hard. Meanwhile, his clinic’s nine-month marathon program for first-timers increases mileage by just three percent per week. “We have a 97 percent success rate getting people through the entire program and to the marathon finish line,” Ferber says.


Be the Tortoise, not the Hare. Increase your weekly and monthly running totals gradually. Use the 10-percent rule as a general guideline, but realize that it might be too aggressive for you—especially if you are injury-prone. A five-percent or three-percent increase might be more appropriate. In addition to following a hard-day/easy-day approach, or more likely a hard/easy/easy pattern, many top runners use a system where they scale back their weekly mileage by 20 to 40 percent on a regular basis, maybe once a month. And remember that mileage isn’t the only issue. Experts point out that an overly aggressive approach to hill running, intervals, trail running—indeed, any change in your training habits—can produce problems. Keeping a detailed training log can help you gauge your personal training threshold. Record your weekly mileage and how you feel after your runs. Look for patterns. For instance, you may notice that your knees ache only when you’re logging more than 40 miles a week.

Another major bugaboo: You used to run 30 miles a week, you got injured, now you want to get back to your old routine as quickly as possible. Don’t. Take your time. The same applies to that upcoming race—if you missed some training time, don’t accelerate the pace and distance of your remaining workouts in an effort to “catch up.” Instead, adjust your goals as needed.

Listen to Your Body

This is perhaps the oldest and most-widely-repeated advice for avoiding injuries, and still the best: If you don’t run through pain, you can nip injuries in the bud. Most running injuries don’t erupt from nowhere and blindside you. They produce signals—aches, soreness, persistent pain—but it’s up to you to not dismiss them and take appropriate (in)action. “Runners can be crazy the way they’ll run through pain,” Ferber says. “They need to pay more attention to pain and get to the root of what’s causing it.”

At the first sign of an atypical pain (discomfort that worsens during a run or causes you to alter your gait), take three days off. Substitute light walking, water training, or bicycling if you want. On the fourth day, run half your normal easy-day amount at a much slower pace than usual. If you typically run four miles at nine minutes per mile, do just two miles at 11-minute pace. Success? Excellent. Reward yourself with another day off, and then run three miles at 10-minute pace. If you’re pain-free, continue easing back into your normal routine. If not, take another three days off, then repeat the process to see if it works the second time around. If not, you’ve got two obvious options: Take more time off, and/or schedule an appointment with a sports-medicine specialist.

Consider Shortening Your Stride

This comes as a bit of a surprise because it’s not discussed much in running circles. Nonetheless, more than half the experts I interviewed mentioned it. And a December 2009 study reports that runners who shorten their stride by 10 percent could reduce risk of tibial stress fracture by three to six percent. The basic idea: Overstriding is a common mistake that can lead to decreased efficiency and increased injury risk. If you shorten your stride, you’ll land “softer” with each footfall, incurring lower impact forces. “A shorter stride will usually lower the impact force, which should reduce injuries,” says biomechanist Alan Hreljac, Ph.D., a retired researcher from California State University-Sacramento.

For the last decade, Davis has been researching runners’ abilities to change their stride. Previously, experts believed that your stride was as immutable as your fingerprint, but Davis has used biofeedback equipment to disprove the old view. “We have shown that running and walking gait can be altered in such a way as to reduce pain, improve function, and reduce injury risk,” she says.

If you’ve had frequent running injuries, you might want to experiment running with your normal stride, just slightly shorter—about 10 percent. “This will help reduce your stride so you have more turnover,” Davis says. “The number of footstrikes or repetitions trumps having a longer stride because it reduces your impact load.” Start with a short distance, like a quarter mile, when making this change. If you have an injury that’s related to your gait, see a physical therapist.

Use Strength Training To Balance Your Body

You need something—and what better than muscle?—to keep your body properly aligned while you’re running down the road at 450 pounds of crunching, twisting-in, and torquing-out force per stride. According to Ferber, it’s particularly important to strengthen the hip muscles. He claims his clinic has cured 92 percent of knee injuries with a hip regimen. “Strengthening the hips is optimal for effective rehabilitation, as opposed to treating the area where the pain is located (e.g., your knee),” he says. “When you strengthen the hips—the abductors, adductors, and gluteus maximus—you increase your leg stability all the way down to the ankle.”

You don’t want to train for bulging muscles. You need just enough core, hip, and lower-leg strength training to keep your pelvis and lower-extremity joints properly positioned. “Healthy running should be as symmetrical and fluid as possible,” says Michael Fredericson, M.D., associate professor of sports medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. “If you don’t have muscle balance, then you lose the symmetry, and that’s when you start having problems.”

RICE Works

When you’ve got muscle aches or joint pains, there’s nothing better than rest, ice, compression, and elevation for immediate treatment. These measures can relieve pain, reduce swelling, and protect damaged tissues, all of which speed healing. The only problem with RICE is that too many runners focus on the “I” while ignoring the “RCE.” Ice reduces inflammation, but to ice-and-run, ice-and-run, without giving the tissues enough time to heal, is a little like dieting every day until 6 p.m. and then pigging out. And so Bruce Wilk, an orthopedic rehabilitation specialist in Miami, has added another letter to the acronym, spelling out PRICE. The P stands for “protection,” which means don’t run until the injury is better.

RICE is most effective when done immediately following an injury. If you twist your ankle or strain your hamstring, plan to take a few days off from running (see Law II). Apply ice—for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, several times a day. A homemade ice pack—a baggie filled with ice cubes and water—is best. A bag of frozen vegetables is also effective. If you can, elevate the area (easy for foot and ankle injuries, not so much for hip or hamstring issues) to limit swelling. Compression can also further reduce inflammation and can provide pain relief, especially when you first return to running. An ACE bandage is the simplest way to wrap a swollen area, but Amol Saxena, a sports podiatrist in Palo Alto, California, uses a compression dressing with 3M Coban, a self-adherent over-the-counter product. He then uses Kinesio Tex Tape or a Darco Body Armor Walker for when the swelling goes down. “The tape pulls up the skin slightly, allowing more blood to flow to the injured area,” he says. He teaches runners, including 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan, how to put it on themselves.

Run on a Level Surface

Here’s another factor that could have a significant impact on running injuries, but has been rarely studied: road camber. No doubt you always run on the left side of the road facing traffic. That’s good for safety reasons. But it also gives you a functional leg-length discrepancy, since your left foot hits the road lower on the slope than your right foot. You’re also placing your left foot on a slant that tends to limit healthy pronation, and your right foot in a position that encourages overpronation. And you’re doing this—running in an unbalanced way—160 to 180 strides a minute for mile after mile, day after day, week after week. Clint Verran, a physical therapist in Lake Orion, Michigan, sees the results of this cambered running in his clinic, where he treats a higher incidence of left-hip injuries in runners than right-hip injuries.

True, it’s not easy to escape cambered asphalt. And safety concerns demand that you run on the left side of the road. So now you’ve already got two strikes against you. To avoid strike three, remember that road camber can cause problems. If you’re increasing your mileage, feel an injury coming on, or are returning from injury, try to do some of your training runs on a level surface like a bike path or dirt trail. The local track also provides a firm, essentially flat surface that’s great for slow-paced running. (When you do faster interval training on a track, you put unequal torque on your feet and legs due to the need to keep turning left, so be careful if you are injury prone.) Also consider the treadmill. It’s hard to imagine a better surface for balanced running. At the very least, a treadmill provides a great surface for beginning runners, runners who are recovering from an injury, and perhaps even marathoners aiming to increase mileage without increasing their injury risk.

Don’t Race Or Do Speedwork Too Often

Researchers have found a correlation between injuries and frequent race efforts. This connection might extend to speedwork since intervals also require a near-maximal effort. So if you train fast once or twice a week and then race on the weekend, that’s a lot of hard efforts without sufficient rest, particularly if you follow this pattern week after week. Some experts are cautious about recommending regular speed training for certain runners, especially those who get hurt easily. It’s fine for those chasing podium placements or age-group awards. But for mid-and back-of-the-packers? “You might get five percent faster, but your injury risk could climb by 25 percent,” Verran says. “That’s a bad risk-benefit ratio. I think most runners can hit their goals without going harder than tempo pace.”

Recognize that races take a heavy toll, so give yourself plenty of recovery time (one day for each mile raced). If you are trying to quicken your pace for a specific goal, add a weekly speedwork session to your training plan, but be judicious about it. Even Olympic gold medalists only do five to 10 percent of their training at 5-K race pace and faster. If you’re coming back from an injury or have chronic issues you’re fearful of aggravating, consider Verran’s advice. Do your faster workouts at tempo pace (5-K pace plus 25 to 35 seconds per mile).
Stretch the Back Of Your Legs

Few running practices are as hallowed as stretching. And none have been debated as much in recent years. Studies have failed to reliably show that the addition of stretching to a warmup before activity reduces overuse injuries. “The jury’s been out on stretching for about a decade,” says Michael Ryan, Ph.D., a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “And as far as I can tell, it hasn’t come in yet.” Yet few experts in the field are ready to abandon stretching. The reasoning: Runners are tight in predictable areas, they get injured in and around these areas, and therefore they should increase flexibility in these areas. The muscle groups at the back of the legs—the hamstrings and calf muscles—stand atop most lists of “best muscles for runners to stretch.” Hamstring and hip-flexor flexibility seems to improve knee function (several reports link poor hamstring and hip-flexor flexibility with “larger knee joint loads”), and calf flexibility may keep the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia healthy.

Little evidence indicates that stretching prevents overuse injuries. That said, knee and Achilles problems are among runners’ most frequent complaints, and so experts recommend increasing the range of motion of muscles that can strain these areas if there is underlying tightness. Just don’t do static stretches (holding an elongated muscle in a fixed position for 30 seconds or longer) before running. However, dynamic stretching can be done as a safe, effective prerun warmup.

Cross-Training Provides Active Rest and Recovery

Running is hard on the body, although claims that it creates impact forces up to seven to eight times body weight are exaggerated, according to the experts I consulted. But they acknowledge the forces can reach two to three times body weight with each stride, and even more on downhills. It’s no surprise that our muscles, joints, and connective tissues get weary from all this shock-absorbing. So experts agree that most runners benefit from at least one nonrunning day a week, and that injury-prone runners should avoid consecutive days of running. Cross-training offers a great alternative.

Use cross-training activities to supplement your running, improve your muscle balance, and keep you injury-free. Swimming, cycling, elliptical training, and rowing will burn a lot of calories and improve your aerobic fitness, but be careful not to aggravate injury-prone areas (see below).

The Laws of Perpetual Motion: Keep it Safe
Cross-training can help you stay fit when you can’t run. But pick wisely, says podiatrist Stephen Pribut. Some activities may exacerbate an injury.

Runner’s Knee
Yes, usually okay: Swimming
Sometimes okay; let pain guide you: Stationary Bike, Elliptical
No, usually not okay: Rowing Machine

Iliotibial-Band Syndrome
Yes, usually okay: Swimming
Sometimes okay; let pain guide you: Stationary Bike, Elliptical, Rowing Machine

Calf Strain, Achilles Pain
Yes, usually okay: Swimming, Stationary Bike, Elliptical, Rowing Machine

Plantar Fasciitis
Yes, usually okay: Swimming, Stationary Bike, Elliptical, Rowing Machine

Yes, usually okay: Swimming
Sometimes okay; let pain guide you: Stationary Bike
No, usually not okay: Elliptical, Rowing Machine

Stress Fracture
Yes, usually okay: Swimming
Sometimes okay; let pain guide you: Stationary Bike
No, usually not okay: Elliptical, Rowing Machine

Get Shoes That Fit

Running shoes have changed a lot over the years. They breathe better, are more likely to come in various widths, and are constructed from superior materials. Most important, there are far more shoes to choose from (racing, training, track, cross-country). There are even minimalist shoes designed to mimic barefoot running (although there’s no scientific evidence that forgoing shoes decreases injury risk). This gives you more options. Of course, you still have to figure out which shoe will work best for you—not an easy task. “There’s no single best shoe for every runner,” says J. D. Denton, who has owned a Fleet Feet running store in Davis, California, for 14 years. Not only that, but it’s impossible to say that shoe ABC will eliminate injury XYZ. Denton and his staff are careful to draw a line between giving medical advice and suggesting a top-notch shoe. “We’re careful not to say, ‘This shoe will cure your plantar fasciitis,'” Denton says. “Shoes aren’t designed to cure injuries. Our goal is to make sure you get the shoe that fits and functions best on your feet.”

Others are less cautious than Denton. They point out that while a given shoe isn’t guaranteed to heal a given injury, the right shoe on the right runner can help. Verran says that he has been able to help patients overcome injuries by suggesting a better fit. “It happens all the time,” Verran says. “It’s a matter of finding the shoe that’s right for a certain foot type.”

Don’t expect shoes to correct an injury resulting from training error or muscular imbalance. However, when you need new shoes (replace them every 300 to 500 miles), go to a specialty store to get expert advice. As a general rule, buy less shoe rather than more shoe (unless you weigh 220 pounds or know you need the Monster Mash model). Studies show that shoes perform best when they fit best. Ask your shoe salesperson: “Why is this the best shoe for me?” If he or she can’t provide a sound answer, find another store.


Information sourced from:

Apple Cider Vinegar Health Benefits

March 24, 2013


What is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is an effective natural bacteria-fighting agent that contains many vital minerals and trace elements such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, chlorine, sodium, sulfur, copper, iron, silicon and fluorine that are vital for a healthy body.

Natural Apple Cider Vinegar is made by crushing fresh, organically grown apples and allowing them to mature in wooden barrels. This boosts the natural fermentation qualities of the crushed apples, which differs from the refined and distilled vinegars found in supermarkets. When the vinegar is mature, it contains a dark, cloudy, web-like bacterial foam called mother, which becomes visible when the rich brownish liquid is held to the light. The mother can be used to add to other vinegar to hasten maturity for making more Apple Cider Vinegar. Natural vinegars that contain the mother have enzymes and minerals that other vinegars in grocery stores may not have due to over-processing, over-heating, and filtration. For this reason, it is recommended that you purchase only Natural Apple Cider Vinegar, with an ideal acidity (pH) level of 5 to 7.

What are the Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar?

Natural Apple Cider Vinegar is a wonderful natural cure for a number of ailments which usually require antibiotics and other medications that have a number of side effects. In particular, Apple Cider Vinegar has been known to:

  • Reduce sinus infections and sore throats
  • Balance high cholesterol
  • Cure skin conditions such as acne
  • Protect against food poisoning
  • Fight allergies in both humans and animals
  • Prevent muscle fatigue after exercise
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Increase stamina
  • Increase metabolism which promotes weight loss
  • Improve digestion and cure constipation
  • Alleviate symptoms of arthritis and gout
  • Prevents bladder stones and urinary tract infections

Uses of Apple Cider Vinegar

Weight Loss

While it is not known why, many people claim that Apple Cider Vinegar promotes weight loss. Some theories suggest that ACV helps to speed up the metabolism, while others suggest that it burns calories. A number of nutritionists also believe that combining Vitamin B6 and Lecithin with Apple Cider Vinegar is highly effective for weight loss. A suggested remedy is to mix 2 teaspoons of ACV mixed with a glass of water and drink this before every meal or sip it slowly throughout the day

Bad Breath

Due to its acidic properties, Apple Cider Vinegar makes a wonderful remedy for bad breath or halitosis. Simply add 1/2 tablespoon of ACV into a cup of water and gargle the mixture in your mouth for 10 seconds at a time until the cup is empty.

Body Odor

Apple Cider Vinegar is an effective body odor remedy, since it can help adjust the skin’s pH level which helps to eliminate odor-causing bacteria. For armpit odor, simply wipe them once each morning with undiluted apple cider vinegar (using a cotton ball). For foot odor, fill a pan with warm water and add 1/3 cup of ACV, then let your feet soak in this mixture for 15 minutes once per week.

Skin Problems and Infections


Apple Cider Vinegar is a natural cure for acne.

Age Spots

Apple Cider Vinegar contains sulfur that fights the effects of aging, which makes it suitable for treating age spots.


Many women have found that Apple Cider Vinegar can help reduce the appearance of cellulite.

Yeast Infection

Apple Cider Vinegar has been found to be an effective treatment for yeast infections.

Stomach Problems


Apple Cider Vinegar is frequently used as a natural cure for constipation.


There are various causes for diarrhea, and although it should not be left untreated, it is often a natural way for the body to rid itself of harmful compounds and ingested materials. Apple Cider Vinegar is a fantastic natural remedy for diarrhea since the high pectin concentration acts as a protective coating which soothes the irritated lining of the colon. A suggestion is to add 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar to a large glass of water, and drink this 3 times daily while the symptoms persist.

What are the Side Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar?

There are no major known side effects of Apple Cider Vinegar when used in moderation. However, drinking vinegars, acids or even lemon juices on a regular basis can lead to a deterioration of dental enamel. This can give your teeth a yellowish look and make them more sensitive to heat and cold. To prevent this, the vinegar should always be diluted with water or a pinch of baking soda should be added in order to reduce the acidity level.

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Mayonnaise

March 20, 2013

Healthy Inspirations


Makes about 3/4 cup


  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/4 tsp pepper (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)


  1. Break the egg into a pint wide-mouth jar. Add the salt, mustard and lemon juice (and the pepper and garlic if using). Pour the oil on top but do not stir.
  2. Immerse a stick blender to the bottom of the jar. Hold on the bottom and blend 5-6 seconds until the bottom starts to look creamy and whitish. Move the blender up and down slowly until the mayonnaise has emulsified. Alternatively, a blender will work in place of a stick mixer: blend all ingredients except the oil and gradually add the oil while blending continuously.

Shaming People in the Name of Weight Loss!

March 19, 2013


When I caught a glimpse of the ‘first look’ at The Biggest Loser on Channel 10, I was horrified.

Because The Biggest Loser is now claiming to ‘break the obesity cycle in families’. Yes, this prime example of reality porn is now performing a community service. The Biggest Loser contestants this year are families. And some of those families include people under 21. The youngest is a fifteen year-old boy.


I despised The Biggest Loser before it brought children into the mix, but this has taken my antipathy to a new low.

Firstly, because no fifteen year-old child can give informed consent to being shamed and bullied on national TV. And secondly, because the disengenuity of TBL propaganda – that it is working to make our population healthier – enrages me. I don’t believe the producers of TBL give a hoot about the obesity crisis Australia.

These are the same producers who bring us Masterchef and Beauty and the Geek – let’s not pretend they are a charitable organisation. They are hosting a game show in which overweight people compete in their underwear to see who has lost the greatest amount of weight.

And it is a disgrace.

Robyn and Katie, mother and daughter team on TBL

Let’s get beyond the myth perpetrated by TBL that a fat person, by definition, cannot be healthy, happy, or have good self esteem. This, of course, is nonsense, but we’ll move on.

Let’s just look at the ways in which TBL ‘trainers’ address the weight issues of their charges.Not every fat person has an eating disorder or eats for emotional reasons. However, the contestants on TBL do have unhealthy relationships with food – relationships which make them unhappy.

Instead of receiving counselling and support, the contestants are placed on severely kilojoule restricted diets, and starved and exercised like pack animals. They are brought consistently to thresholds of extreme physical pain, and, occasionally, unconsciousness.  The trainers bully the contestants and yell at them, conveying that implicit message that fat people aren’t worthy of respect or self-esteem.

Bizarre “exercises” are included, like being buckled into harnesses and pulling a truck behind them. Truly. A truck. This isn’t exercise. This isn’t healthy. This isn’t a way to generate positive changes.

It is cruel and dehumanising and a little perverted. And it is packaged and labelled as entertainment.

TBL trainers

TBL trainers, Shannan Ponton, Michelle Bridges and ” The Commando”

And let’s not forget the weigh-in at the end of the day.

The weigh-in. Where contestants line up in their underwear and step on the scales to be told by the numbers how worthy they are. And why are they weighed in their underwear? Because it is far more titillating for the audience to see fat people in their underwear, true to The Biggest Loser’s theme of reality porn.

I cannot stop The Biggest Loser from being made, but can certainly stop my family from watching.

I strongly urge you to do the same.

The Biggest Loser isn’t going to solve the obesity crisis, but you can stop the cycle of fat shaming in your home by simply pressing a button.

*Kerri is not alone in her dismay at this latest The Biggest Loser.  She asks us to refer you to an online petition addressed to the producers of TBL here.

By Kerri Sackville
March 17, 2013

The Benefits of Exercise for Older Adults – It’s never too late to improve your health

March 17, 2013

Celebrate Seniors Week at Coffs Coast Health Club 17th – 24th March.

Coffs Coast Health Club Senior's Week

The notion that exercise is good for you has been around for quite a while, but until recently seniors have been left out of the picture.

Everyone Benefits from Exercise
Today, new information is emerging from research: people of all ages and physical conditions benefit from exercise and physical activity.

    • Staying physically active and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities, including dementia.
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that even moderate exercise and physical activity can improve the health of seniors who are frail, or who have diseases that accompany aging.

Don’t Be Afraid to Exercise
Exercise and physical activity are among the healthiest things you can do for yourself, but some older adults are reluctant to exercise. They may be afraid that exercise will be too strenuous, or that physical activity will harm them.

Research from the NIH shows that actually the opposite is true:

    • Exercise is safe for people of all age groups.
  • Older adults hurt their health far more by not exercising than by exercising.

An inactive lifestyle can cause older adults to lose ground in four areas that are important for staying healthy and independent: strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance.

It’s Never Too Late to Start Exercising
Even if you have had an inactive lifestyle, there is good news. It’s never too late to improve your health.

Research suggests that exercise and physical activity can help you maintain or partly restore your strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance.

Growing older doesn’t mean you have to lose strength or your ability to do everyday tasks. Exercise can help older adults feel better and enjoy life more, even those who think they’re too old or too out of shape.

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Turmeric Lamb Chops

March 13, 2013


Turmeric Chops
Serves 4


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • big handful basil, chopped
  • 1 small red chilli (or to taste), chopped
  • 3 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 8 small lamb chops


  1. Mix all ingredients except the chops together. Add the chops and marinate in the fridge for at least an hour, turning during that time to make sure chops are well coated and absorbing the flavours.
  2. Bake in moderate oven for 20- 30 minutes or grill or slowly pan fry.
  3. Serve with roasted or steamed vegetables.

Women * Sleep * Hormones

March 12, 2013


Women are much more likely to report sleep problems like not getting enough sleep or being sleepy during the day, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

One possible culprit? Our hormones. Hormonal changes can wreak havoc on sleep. In turn, sleep deprivation can affect hormone levels in a sleepless vicious cycle. So when hormone levels spike or drop — such as during the menstrual cycle, during and after pregnancy, and especially around menopause — women may be more vulnerable to sleep problems.

How Menopause Messes With Sleep

As menopause approaches, hormonal changes can affect sleep more than during any other period in a woman’s life.

“There is a big impact from the loss of hormones, particularly estrogen, and our sleep quality is affected,” says Tristi Muir, MD, director of the Pelvic Health and Continence Center and an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. “There are declining levels of estrogen long before you are in actual menopause.” Hot flashes and irritability can happen off and on throughout the decade before menopause hits, she adds.

Researchers have found that women who have hot flashes during perimenopause (the years preceding menopause, when hormone levels are declining) are also more likely to have sleep disturbances. About 2/3 of perimenopausal women have hot flashes, according to Muir, and many of these women will also have associated sleep problems.

“Sleep studies have shown that women are more prone to having their sleep disturbed in the first half of the night by having a hot flash,” says Sharon Wong, MD, FACOG, chairman of the perinatal department at Adventist Medical Center in Portland. “During REM sleep, in the latter half of the night, women seemed to be more able to suppress their sleep disturbances.”

Once you’ve actually made it into menopause, which doctors usually define as at least a year without a menstrual cycle, your sleep will probably settle down, along with your hot flashes. But perimenopausal women may struggle with sleep disturbances for years.

How to Deal With Sleep Problems During Menopause

What can you do? First, talk to your doctor to try to pinpoint the source of your sleep problems. Lack of sleep and night wakings can be caused by many factors, and hormones are only one of them. If you can’t get to sleep at all, says Ricki Pollycove, MD, FACOG, former chief of the Division of Gynecology at the California Pacific Medical Center and the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Bioidentical Hormones, your sleep problem may not be due to menopause.

One option is to try hormonal support. “This type of sleep disorder is often very well treated with a low dose of estrogen,” says Pollycove. In fact, a large study, presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in May 2010, found that menopausal women with sleep problems due to hot flashes got significant relief from estrogen therapy.

Pollycove also recommends mind-body techniques, such as guided imagery, breathing control, and yoga. “These are very effective, with no side effects, and are good for your brain,” she says.

Also, you can take steps to reduce the effect of hot flashes. “Studies have found that by having room temperatures lower, and by wearing layers to bed that you can take off or put on, women are less disturbed by hot flashes and have more restful sleep patterns,” says Wong.

Pregnant Pauses in Sleep

Women often joke that the sleep problems they have during pregnancy are just preparing them for motherhood, when they’ll be waking up countless times in the night. But sleepless nights during pregnancy, and in the postpartum period, can be very serious. Getting too little sleep can be bad for both mother and baby, leaving you irritable and vulnerable to illness.

It’s hard to tease out exactly how much of pregnancy-related sleep problems are directly due to hormonal changes. Many other things can keep you from a good night’s rest: the constant need to urinate, tender breasts, and a growing belly.

“But one thing we do know,” says Pollycove, “is that women with a lot of sleep disturbances during pregnancy are more vulnerable to postpartum depression.”

Here are some tips for a good night’s sleep during pregnancy:

  • Don’t exercise within an hour or two before going to bed.
  • Drink something soothing in the evening, like warm milk or a calming tea.
  • Keep the bedroom temperature comfortable, perhaps a bit lower than usual (like menopausal women, pregnant women often feel overheated).
  • If you’re congested, which often happens in pregnancy because women produce more mucus, try clearing your nose with a neti pot or nasal rinse to make yourself more comfortable.

Postpartum Sleep and Mental Health

Another huge shift in hormones happens after the baby is born — so this is another time when you may find yourself struggling with sleep.

Postpartum sleep disorders, combined with caring for a newborn and learning new things like breastfeeding, can be a killer,” says Pollycove. “It’s the most demanding job a woman has ever done.”

Because lack of sleep puts you at greater risk for postpartum depression, antidepressant medications can help. Low-dose estrogen may also help, and the hormone doesn’t interfere with lactation and breastfeeding, Pollycove says.

“The low estrogen levels that create sleep disorders in postpartum women are also very much associated with depression. It sometimes takes a very small dose to help with that. It’s an infrequent problem, but one we’re really good at fixing,” says Pollycove.

Menstrual Cycles and Sleep

What about your menstrual cycle itself? Can you have trouble sleeping at “that time of the month?” It’s much less common than in menopause and pregnancy, but it does happen.

“Menstrual cycles for the vast majority of us are regular, in terms of a predictable hormonal sequence of events,” says Pollycove. “In young women, it’s pretty rare that the regular rise and fall of estrogen and progesterone disrupts sleep. But there are women with premenstrual syndrome for whom sleep disruption can be a symptom.”

If you’re one of them, and if sleep issues are really wreaking havoc in your life every 28 days or so, then one possible solution is hormonal birth control.

“If you’re not trying to conceive a baby, birth control pills can put your hormones in more of a steady state,” says Wong. “Most patients aren’t going to want to go on the pill because of a couple of nights of lost sleep, but that’s one way of doing it.”

You can also try the mind-body therapies such as yoga, guided imagery, and breathing techniques, as well as the “good sleep hygiene” strategies recommended for women having sleep problems at other life stages.

If menstrual pain is keeping you up at night, you can try one of the available medications that combines a pain reliever with a sleep aid.

Article sources from

If the Shoe Fits

March 10, 2013


What’s the one piece of workout gear you can’t live without? Your iPod? A good water bottle? A truly supportive sports bra?

Wrong, wrong, and wrong. The single most important piece of equipment to virtually any kind of exercise program — running, aerobics, hiking, tennis, basketball — is the right pair of shoes.

A good pair of shoes can make or break your workout, and it’s easy to go wrong. Here are the five biggest shoe mistakes people make.

1. Grabbing Whatever’s Handy

“The biggest mistake people make when they start running, jogging, or some other exercise program is just reaching into the closet and pulling out an old pair of sneakers,” says Tracie Rodgers, PhD, spokeswoman for the American Council on Exercise. An old pair of shoes may no longer have the support you need. And even more problematic, that pair of shoes might be inappropriate for the activity you choose.

2. Choosing the Right Shoe — for the Wrong Workout

You need to choose the right type of shoe for the kind of workout you’ll be doing. And yes, it does matter.

A shoe made for running is very different in a number of ways from a shoe made for basketball or tennis.

Joe Puleo, the author of Running Anatomy, says, “Running shoes have no lateral stability built into them because you don’t move your feet laterally when you run. You’re only going forward. A running shoe is built to give you support and stability as you move your foot through the running gait cycle.”

Puleo says basketball and tennis shoes both need to be stabilized laterally. That’s because you move your feet side to side a lot when playing these sports. “You can’t build a running shoe that has lateral stability” he says, “and you can’t build a shoe for basketball or tennis that doesn’t have it.”

Even walking shoes differ from running shoes.

Catherine Cheung, DPM, a podiatrist and foot surgeon with the Post Street Surgery Center in San Francisco, says runners land more on their forefoot while walkers have a heavier heel strike. “So for running,” she says, “you want a shoe that has more cushioning on the forefoot, while walking shoes should have stiffer rubber to support the heel.”

Can’t you just get a good cross-trainer and use it for everything? Maybe, maybe not.

“Cross-trainer” shoes never existed before Bo Jackson, who played professional baseball and football (remember the “Bo Knows” ad campaign?).

 “Before Jackson, we just called them sneakers,” Puleo says. “Then, Nike came up with an ad campaign, and now we have cross-trainers. But there’s no specificity to them — you can’t do any one thing well. They have some lateral stability, so you can play a game of basketball with your kids occasionally. You can run a mile or two. But most of them are not very good shoes for any particular activity.”

Then again, some people aren’t heavily into running, hiking, tennis, or any one sport. They go to the gym occasionally, maybe play tennis with a work buddy once in a while, or shoot a few baskets with the kids. For them, a cross-trainer might be the best choice.

“A good cross-trainer will allow you to do the treadmill, some walking on asphalt or on a track, and light jogging,” Kathleen Stone, DPM, president of the American Podiatric Medical Association, says. “Not mileage, of course. But I like them for people who are doing a variety of athletic endeavors casually.”

To choose a good cross-trainer, Stone suggests you look for:

  • A firm heel
  • Good support (you shouldn’t be able to bend the shoe too easily)
  • Light weight (you don’t want to add a lot of pounds to your feet)

But the APMA recommends that if you’re going to participate in a particular sport on a regular basis (two to three times a week or more), you should choose a sport-specific shoe.

3. Loving Them Too Much

“Your workout shoes should be your workout shoes and not your running-around-town shoes,” Rodgers says. “You’ll break down a pair of shoes standing in them or wearing them to the mall and running errands much faster than when you’re running or exercising.”

So buy yourself a pair of casual tennies for running around town, and stow your good workout shoes in the closet as soon as you get home from your run or your tennis game.

“That’s where I buy the shoes I think look nice, but aren’t good for me to work out in,” Rodgers says. “Certain brands, I can’t work out in because they hurt my feet, but I love the way they look, so I wear them with my jeans for just hanging around.”

4. Loving Them Too Long

Another big mistake many people make when buying athletic shoes is not replacing them often enough.

“They think they should replace their workout shoes when they start looking bad,” Rodgers says. “But shoes start to break down while they’re still looking good. The support — the reason you buy the shoe in the first place — is gone, and you’ll start feeling strange aches and pains in your knees, hip, and back.”

Most experts recommend that runners replace their shoes every 300 to 500 miles. If you don’t run enough to have a mile count, or running’s not your sport, you should replace your athletic shoes at least once a year.

“If you’re exercising on a casual basis, you can make your shoes last a year,” Stone says. “But if you’re working out every day, six months is pretty much your limit.”

You should also have your shoe size rechecked every year. Cheung says, “Foot size doesn’t stay the same; our feet tend to grow bigger as we age.”

Do you need orthotics — the specialized, custom-built inserts designed for people with specific gait problems? For most people, the answer is probably no, Puleo says.

“There are certain foot types and injuries that can be corrected with orthotics. But my opinion is they’re dramatically overprescribed. They work well for some patients, but I’ve been wearing the same brand of over-the-counter generic insoles for years, and they’ve worked great as well and are much cheaper,” Puleo says.

5. Doing It Yourself

Unless you’ve been playing your sport for a long time and have learned exactly what shoe is right for you, it’s a bad idea to just walk into a sporting goods store, try on a few pairs of shoes, and walk out with what you think is best.

Instead, go to an athletic shoe specialty store to get an expert insight on the right shoe and the best fit.

“The staff there will do a real fitting, evaluate your foot, and take a history of your athletic activities and what shoes may have worked for you before,” Puleo says. “They’ll watch you walk or run on a treadmill or outside.”

They’ll take three measurements — not just one — on the metal plate known as a Brannock device that we’ve all seen in shoe stores.

“You need to know not just length but also width and arch length,” Puleo says. “All three of those numbers together determine what size you should wear. And each shoe can be cut a little differently — a 10 and a half isn’t a universal 10 and a half in all shoes — so they’ll start with that number and work from there.”

A good athletic shoe specialty store will also have a liberal return policy — so ask. Some may permit you to return shoes if you’ve only worn them indoors, but not outdoors.

The New Jersey running store Puleo founded allowed customers to return a shoe at any time for any reason. “You don’t like ‘em, you bring ‘em back,” he says. “It was on me to make sure you were satisfied before you left. We had a very low rate of return because we spent so much time with every customer; we knew they’d be happy with them. You should never be stuck with a shoe that doesn’t work for you.”

Article written by Gina Shaw for WebMD: