Archive | April, 2011

Low Carbohydrate Diet May Reverse Kidney Failure in People With Diabetes

25 Apr

Low Carbohydrate Diet May Reverse Kidney Failure in People With Diabetes

ScienceDaily (Apr. 21, 2011) – Researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine have for the first time determined that the ketogenic diet, a specialized high-fat, low carbohydrate diet, may reverse impaired kidney function in people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. They also identified a previously unreported panel of genes associated with diabetes-related kidney failure, whose expression was reversed by the diet.

The findings were published in the current issue of PLoS ONE.

Charles Mobbs, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience and Geriatrics and Palliative Care Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and his research team evaluated mice that were genetically predisposed to have Type 1 or 2 diabetes. The mice were allowed to develop diabetic nephropathy, or kidney failure. Half of the mice were put on the ketogenic diet, while the control group maintained a standard high carbohydrate diet. The researcher founds that after eight weeks, kidney failure was reversed in the mice on the ketogenic diet.

“Our study is the first to show that a dietary intervention alone is enough to reverse this serious complication of diabetes,” said Dr. Mobbs. “This finding has significant implications for the tens of thousands of Americans diagnosed with diabetic kidney failure, and possibly other complications, each year.”

The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate, moderate protein, and high-fat diet typically used to control seizures in children with epilepsy. Many cells can get their energy from ketones, which are molecules produced when the blood glucose levels are low and blood fat levels are high. When cells use ketones instead of glucose for fuel, glucose is not metabolized. Since high glucose metabolism causes kidney failure in diabetes, researchers hypothesized that the ketogenic diet would block those toxic effects of glucose.

Considering the extreme requirements of the diet, it is not a long-term solution in adults. However, Dr. Mobbs’ research indicates that exposure to the diet for as little as a month may be sufficient to “reset” the gene expression and pathological process leading to kidney failure.

The researchers also identified a large array of genes expressed during diabetic nephropathy not previously known to play a role in the development of this complication. These genes are associated with kidney failure as a result of the stress on cellular function. The team found that the expression of these genes was also reversed in the mice on the ketogenic diet.

Dr. Mobbs and his team plan to continue to research the impact of the ketogenic diet and the mechanism by which it reverses kidney failure in people with diabetes, and in age-related kidney failure. He believes the ketogenic diet could help treat other neurological diseases and retinopathy, a disease that results in vision loss.

“Knowing how the ketogenic diet reverses nephropathy will help us identify a drug target and subsequent pharmacological interventions that mimic the effect of the diet,” said Dr. Mobbs. “We look forward to studying this promising development further.”

This study was funded partly by the National Institutes of Health and by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Michal M. Poplawski, Jason W. Mastaitis, Fumiko Isoda, Fabrizio Grosjean, Feng Zheng, Charles V. Mobbs. Reversal of Diabetic Nephropathy by a Ketogenic Diet. PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (4): e18604 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018604

Happy Easter

24 Apr

nothing says happy Easter like star wars paleo pancakes … at least as far as this Jewish mom knows:)

paleo pancakes courtesy of:
paleo pancakes and more from rxgirlsmiami:

Be careful because they are SO light and fluffy that they tend to fall apart easily while you flip. Note: The agave is just used as a sweetener and is not a necessary ingredient. If you are strict paleo, you might not want to include it.

Paleo Pancakes


3 eggs
3 tablespoons coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons Agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons coconut flour

Using a wire whisk, mix together eggs, coconut milk, agave nectar, and sea salt. (I used immersion whisk)
Continue to whisk and add in the coconut flour.
Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or pure butter) in a skillet on a medium flame.
Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of batter onto skillet making pancakes about 3-4 inches in diameter.
Serve with either real/raw maple syrup, hot nut butter (like almond butter) or with some strategically placed fruit on top to cover the broken pancake 😉

star wars molds courtesy of Williams-Sonoma


Whole 9

8 Apr

Earlier this month, Matt and I attended a nutrition conference put on by the Whole 9. While I had read some of what they had written, I was having a hard time imagining how there was still more to be said on the topic of paleo nutrition.  I was intrigued when I read the ‘elevator pitch’ that Melissa, one of Whole9’s founders, had written as an explanation:

“I eat “real” food – fresh, natural food like meat, vegetables and fruit.  I choose foods that are nutrient dense, with lots of naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals, over foods that have more calories but less nutrition.  And food quality is important – I’m careful about where my meat comes from, and buy produce locally and organically as often as possible.

It’s not a low calorie “diet” – I eat as much as I need to maintain strength, energy and a healthy weight.  In fact, my diet is probably much higher in fat than you’d imagine.  Fat isn’t the enemy – it’s a great energy source when it comes from high quality foods like avocado, coconut and nuts. And I’m not trying to do a “low carb” thing, but since I’m eating vegetables and fruits instead of bread, cereal and pasta, it just happens to work out that way.

Eating like this is good for maintaining a healthy metabolism, and reducing inflammation within the body.  It’s been doing great things for my energy levels, body composition and performance in the gym.  It also helps to minimize my risk for a whole host of lifestyle diseases and conditions, like diabetes, heart attack and stroke.

The reason I was intrigued is that for some time, but more acutely in the past few months, I have been fielding objections to this way of eating from clients and friends.  One friend has been doing weight watchers on and off for years, eating food substitutes (food that’s so processed that most nutrition has been processed out) and in the past year plus has been training for ultra-distance running races, training at unbelievable volumes.  She’s been plagued by injury and has struggled in all the races she has entered.  She asked for my input because in addition to those challenges, she is lighter than she’s been in the memorable past, yet does not like how she looks naked.  I reviewed a food journal she kept for me for 3 days and found that she was primarily consuming carbs with little to no protein nor fat on any given day.  I suggested she read Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson.  After doing so, she resolved to give it a shot.  Her husband’s response, “You are going to get hurt and you are going to regret doing this.”  My response, “How does one argue that eating unprocessed, high quality proteins and fats with large amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits is bad for you?”

Another friend’s husband was doing a 30 day challenge and my friend seemed completely annoyed by it.  I can understand opting out personally but why be resentful of a partner embarking on this challenge.  I could make the argument that it’s because she does the cooking and the shopping.  Upon review, it wasn’t that much of a burden.

The reservations of loved ones and hesitation from clients caused me to consider what was at the source.  In thinking about my friend’s husband, it seemed that while he might be concerned for her, the irrationality of his objections suggested something else.  My conclusion was that he was actually speaking from a place of fear, worried that he too will be ‘forced’ to buy in and felt his lifestyle might be threatened.  Simultaneously, in speaking to the other friend it became clear that she was responding to the same threat, or at very least felt his choice regarding his diet was a judgment as to what was ‘wrong’ with her own diet.

I attended the Whole 9 seminar in hopes of adding to my resources to better enable me to engage these skeptics and others in a thoughtful dialogue.  What came out of it for me was something altogether different.

I’m a nearly 8 year cancer survivor, which I’m sure I don’t need to say I’m thrilled about. However, I also carry a genetic mutation predisposing me to cancer again in my lifetime.  While the knowledge about my genetics hasn’t caused me to live in fear, it did cast a light of inevitability on my long-term perspective.  I felt like the dye had been cast and although I would continue to train and would continue to be relatively mindful about what I ate, it wouldn’t make a darn bit of difference.  Thom’s been nudging me toward a different conclusion for years but as with most things, I had to come to it myself.

In the weeks since that lecture, I realized that my hesitancy to commit to a ‘paleo’ lifestyle was not at all dissimilar from the hundreds of weight loss clients we’ve worked with over the years.  Ultimately, my thoughts were along the lines of, “why bother if I’m just going to fail”.  While this is difficult to admit, and I’m sure can be stated in a number of ways, those that have battled, be it weight or disease, more often than not have some  degree of self-defeating rationale that justifies their resistance to commit to change.  While one can rationalize however they choose, the fact remains that the primary fear in this case is likely a fear of failure.

I’ve tried to pinpoint the ah-ha moment when the light went on and the revelation occurred so that I could relate it to my friend’s husband, to the wife friend, to our medical advisory board, to whomever.  Alas, there was no moment.  I’ve been well informed for years and still unwilling to eliminate the last of my indulgences.  The justification there was that I eat better than 99% of the American population, how bad could my lattes, wine, and sugar be?  If I’m being honest, I’m not 99% of the American population.  I’m just me and I’m genetically predisposed to a deadly disease.  While some things are out of my control, other things are not.

No doubt, by now you have noticed the FIT Food Pyramid up front.  The reason for its creation was, first and foremost we are here to help you achieve results, but equally important we hope to aid you in the quest for lifelong vitality.  Secondly, we hoped it would inspire you to consider what and how you are eating and to ask questions of yourself and us as to why.  The effects of what you eat every day include, but are not limited to: energy, mood, immunity, performance, recovery, skin and hair health, and  gut health.  And while modern medicine has any number of remedies, what if the solution was as simple as changing what you eat.

If you are intrigued or simply want to learn more, Matt and I are offering a lecture for our members on April 21st in the evening.  Following that, on April 25th we will be kicking of a 30 day nutrition challenge for those wanting to face their ‘fears’ and give this diet a try in good company.  The challenge will include a participant forum, menu recommendations, recipes, and support.  We hope you will join us on the journey toward better health and lifelong vitality.

The Science of Healing

8 Apr

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. – John Muir

Last weekend I watched The Science of Healing a PBS special from 2009 that followed Dr. Esther Sternberg to a tiny village in Greece where she experienced, first hand, the healing power of nature.  This experience had a profound effect on Dr. Sternberg and sparked an exploration into the science behind environment, emotions and healing.

A variety of interesting research was introduced on visual stimuli, built environments, aromas, social connections, exercise, music, and meditation.  Stress was the common characteristic among these studies.  It seems that environments that reduce stress contribute to healing.  One of the benchmark studies presented in this program was from 1984.  The researchers examined the restorative effects of natural views on patient surgery recovery.  Between the years 1972 and 1981 cholecystectomy patients in a Pennsylvania hospital were assigned to either a room with a window over looking a nature scene or a brick wall.  The patients with the tree view had shorter postoperative hospital stays, received fewer negative evaluation comments in the nurses’ notes, took fewer pain relieving medications, and had slightly less minor postoperative complications.  Although the researchers recognized that the results could not be generalized to all surgeries or all built environments (the brick wall was a less than stimulating view) the results implied that hospital design should consider the quality of the patients views for restorative benefits (Ulrich et al., 1984).

Here are some additional research tidbits presented in this program:

  • Good smells. Aromas, such as clean mountain air, are associated with good memories and positive emotions.  This results in a reduced stress response and promotes feelings of calm and relaxation.
  • Become fit. Physically fit individuals have a better stress response. Regular exercise promotes acute stress, which prepares our bodies to handle higher levels of stress more effectively and strengthens the immune system.
  • Feel the beat. Music provides a stress buffer and increases heart rate variability (the beat-to-beat alterations in heart rate).  Low heart rate variability is associated with depression, poor health, and high stress.  High heart rate variability is associated with better emotional and physical health, and reduced risk of stress-related disease.
  • Think yourself well.  The placebo effect is the brains own healing mechanism.  Believing in the positive effects of the treatment produces chemical changes in the brain that allow the body to heal.
  • Take 10. Meditation or breathing awareness produces a reduced stress response and boosts the immune system.  Even as little as 10 minutes a day has positive health benefits.

Dr. Sternberg concluded her exploration with some personal insight into the effects of slowing down and embracing the rhythm of life in the Greek village.  She resolved to include more time in nature and exercise into her daily life and to embrace more stress reducing activities, such as listen to music and socializing with friends.  Sometimes we need to step away from our life to see how we can live more fully.

Ulrich et al., 1984.  View through a window may influence recovery from surgery.  Science, 224. DOI: 10.1126/science.6143402

Little League Baseball – Spring Training

8 Apr

Spring is here and so is beginning of the Little League baseball season, weather permitting!  You’ll be making plenty of trips to the ballpark for practice and games, and often becoming just as much of a coach for your child as you are a proud parent and fan.  Because most youth throwing injuries occur while pitching, I wanted to throw out a few tips and bring to your attention some of the factors that may reduce injury risk for youth pitchers.

How Kids Learn
Whether in practices or games, seek to create an effective learning environment with young players. There are various styles of learning. The three primary modes are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic and an efficient teaching plan includes all three modalities.

Basic Movements
Don’t neglect the basic movement patterns that are involved in pitching and baseball in general.  All too often emphasis is placed on getting players’ arms in shape, but no attention is paid to preparing the rest of their bodies for the sport. Baseball pitching requires fundamental movements such as stepping, lunging, squatting, twisting, and balancing. Most kids are getting enough of these movements just playing at school, but if you feel your child needs more exercise to prepare for the baseball season, get them active with these fundamental movements.

Warming Up
Make sure to engage in a full body warm-up, not just the throwing arm, before throwing or pitching.  A full body warm-up elevates core body temperature, enhances motor unit excitability, helps maximize active Range of Motion (ROM) and is effective for reducing injuries in all sports. Basically, make them break a sweat before throwing!

Pitch Volume
Pitch volume is a significant factor in the injury of youth pitchers. All Little Leagues appropriately have pitch count rules in place, but pitch volume can be defined as the number of pitches thrown in a season, not just games.  This should include games, pre-game warm-up, scheduled practices as well as unorganized practices with friends and even Mom and Dad!  Several studies have confirmed that there was a 35% increase in elbow pain in athletes aged 9-12 years old who are throwing greater than 75 pitches a game and 600 pitches in a season.  I have not come across studies that attempt to count the number of pitches thrown outside of games and organized practices throughout a full year of baseball competition. Keeping tabs on your child’s pitch volume and encouraging him/her to communicate feeling fatigue and/or pain will help reduce overuse injuries.

Pitch Type
Another main contributor to injury is the pitch type. Several studies have recommended youth baseball pitchers not to throw breaking pitches (curveball and slider). This recommendation is based on the fact that throwing breaking pitches requires increased forearm supination and wrist movement when compared with the fastball.  The difference in hand, wrist and forearm positioning may lead to greater elbow stress and potential injury.  Overall, I recommended that youth baseball pitchers focus on the basic fundamental movements and the mechanics of pitching (balance point, stride, throwing elbow height, follow through).   After mastery of these fundamentals, focus on fastball pitching mechanics followed by change-up pitching mechanics. Both pitches should be executed with accuracy before introducing curveballs or sliders.

Resistance Training
Resistance training may reduce the risk of injury in youth sports by changing the size, density and mechanical properties of connective tissue structures.  (Marsh, 2010)  Other benefits of resistance training include recruitment and activation of muscles and enhanced coordination.   Strengthening muscles and connective tissues also allows for increased forces that athletes are capable of sustaining, reducing the risk of injury. The muscles of the trunk are particularly important in pitching. The trunk is where the force generated by the legs is transferred to the throwing arm and ball to maximize pitching efficiency and velocity.
Remember Little Leaguers are just kids.  They need to learn how to play the game and how to interact and work with teammates.  Above all, keep them safe and encourage them to have fun.

Darrin Marsh, PT, ATC, CSCS, Department of Physical Therapy, McCarter Health Center, Parkensburg, West Virginia. “Little League Elbow: Risk Factors and Prevention.” December 2010 Strength and Conditioning Journal

All or Nothing Syndrome

8 Apr

Last month I attended a wonderfully catered company party with a mix of clients and co-workers. It was probably one of the healthiest and tastiest catered events I have ever attended.  There was a full assortment of veggies, nuts, fruits, baked meats and cheeses.  If there was ever an opportunity to maintain healthy eating at a social event, it was certainly this one.

Anybody who knows me also knows that I have a sweet tooth. Growing up in the Midwest, and having a mother who loved to bake for family and strangers alike, I would routinely smell and eat various pies, cookies and cakes for no reason other than my mother liked to make them (homemade doughnuts beat the crap out of Krispie Kremes any day!).

Following the healthy array of food, there was a wonderful assortment of desserts.  There was a large plate of small, assorted baked pastry-like cookies, a triple-layered chocolate mousse, a strawberry mousse, and lemon ice.  All were so delicately presented and eye-appealing that nobody would dare to be the first to destroy such master pieces…but then there is me – the guy who has more child-like patience toward desserts than a five-year-old.  So, I was ready to jump in like Val Kilmer at Hometown Buffet.

Once I had completed my sweet indulgence, I had four to five plates of just dessert under
my belt, I received plenty of comments from those who have not seen me eat like this. Such as: “How can you eat so much of that…?” “Why should I listen to you about nutrition?” and “More!?”

This brings me to the point of this article (anybody hungry now?): eating healthy does not imply  I do not occasionally splurge. I do not adhere to, nor do I advise, an “all or nothing lifestyle” that restricts food.  I do not eat five plates of dessert every night, every weekend, or even every six months.

If an individual eats five to six times per day, 35-42 times per week, one meal of indulging will certainly not destroy an individual’s attempt at maintaining a healthy diet. In fact, because of the psychological release of such an indulgence, I encourage my clients to eat whatever they want for one meal a week, not for one entire day.  For example, the following morning after the party, I was back to eating my normal breakfast of an apple, a scoop of almond butter and a cup of coffee.  It must also be understood that an “indulgence meal” does not have to be a large consumption of calories in one sitting, as my example portrayed.  It may also include eating just one piece of dessert, or eating French fries that would normally be a side salad, or having a milk shake.  It’s not even necessary to eat the entire portion.

It is continuous, daily eating of refined-carbohydrates and processed foods that cause an assortment of diseases.  Just how often is “too much” depends on each individual’s current health, fitness level, and wellness goals.  For example, if a male’s body fat percentage is greater than 26 percent, this is considered above average, he will need to reduce the amount of processed food and refined-carbohydrates in his diet to reduce body fat percent to healthier levels.

Eat to improve your health, and make choices to attain your goals, but don’t fall into the “all or nothing” frame of mind.  This is a formula for failure in the long run.  In case you were wondering, at the time I am writing this article, I weigh less than the day I ate those desserts ☺

From Jen’s Kitchen – Easter Brunch

8 Apr

What’s are the menu?

Mushroom and Shalot Quiche (with or without crust)
Roasted Asparagus with Goat Cheese & Bacon
Strawberry & Walnut Spinach Salad

Drink of Choice: Mimosa with fresh squeezed orange juice
Personal Favorite Easter Candy: Cadbury Royal Dark Mini Chocolate Eggs

Recipe: Mushroom and Shalot Quiche

Serves 8

-1 cup almond flour
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp sea salt

-16 eggs
-6 Shallots – chopped
-3-4 mushrooms – sliced
-2 Tbsp fresh chives – chopped
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-Goat Cheese (optional)

1.  Pre-heat oven to 375
2.  In a small bowl mix together the crust ingredients
3.  Spread the crust in a thin layer over the bottom of the baking dish and bake in the oven for 10 minutes – until crust is brown and hardened.  Remove and set aside.
4.  While crust is baking, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet and add the shalots
5.  Once shalots have softened, add mushrooms and cook through
6.  Add chives for the last 2 minutes of cooking the mushrooms.  Set aside.
7.  In a bowl, whisk together eggs
8.  Pour the mushrooms/shalots into the bowl with the eggs and stir together.
9.  Pour the egg mixture into the baking dish.  If you’re using goat cheese, sprinkle it over the top of the eggs and it will blend in during baking.
10.  Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes – or until the eggs are cooked (stick a fork in and if it comes out fairly dry, it’s finished).

It is great without the crust as well.  I also make mini quiche’s:  pour egg mixture into muffin pan and cook on 375 for 25 minutes.  Great for a quick morning breakfast throughout the week.

April Client of the Month Spotlight

3 Apr

Client Name: Deanna Williams

Age: 31

FIT member since: 07/01/2010 (I think)

Goal starting your fitness program at FIT: When I first started at FIT my goal was to look great in my wedding dress.

Results: I think you will have to ask my husband.

How did you feel about your fitness and physique before starting your exercise program at FIT? I thought was in good shape until I did my physical assessment test with Matt. 

How do you feel about your fitness and physique now? I am really proud of how far I have come in the last ten months. I have not only seen a physical change, my strength training has improved as well.

What would you consider the keys to your fitness success? Crossfit, the trainers, and my commitment to living a healthier life style.

What obstacles, if any, did you have to over come to maintain your commitment to fitness? My alarm clock, 5:30 a.m. Crossfit is early in the morning but worth it.

What motivates you through your workouts? The more

experienced crossfitters and not wanting to finish last.  

What motivates you to come back each day? The people in the Crossfit classes.

Exercise Likes: The crazy named WODs. Nothing is more satisfying then saying I just completed the Filthy Fifty.

Exercise Dislikes: Rowing

Personal Best: in most weight lifting exercises I no longer have to use the training bar. This is a big accomplishment.

PR Deadlift: 60kg

PR Push Press: 30kg

What is your favorite workout music/song? 90s Hip Hop

What is your favorite healthy snack? carrots, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes.

Do you have a favorite recipe? If so, would you like to share it with us? Peasant Stew from Cooking Light

Trainers Comments

Jimmy: The key to Deanna’s success has been her training consistency and more importantly her tenacity.  Her determination to improve, finish workouts, and push herself beyond her comfort zone has not gone unnoticed by any CrossFIT coach or member.  She started completely new to training and in a short period of time has become proficient in all the movements CrossFIT employs, including weightlifting (clean and jerk and snatch).  She is an inspiration to both CrossFIT beginners and veterans alike.  I see a confidence in Deanna that wasn’t there when she first came to FIT and it shows as she flashes her smile more and more!