Archive | December, 2012

How the Trainers Eat, vol. 4

31 Dec

While long overdue, I wanted to share a little dish that is sure to warm the soul and give you the fuel to power through those first few workouts of 2013.  This soup will make a great post-workout dish, as well as something to keep you warm on these cool and damp northern California nights.


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Sweet Potato Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium butternut squash

3.5 lb. sweet potatoes

3 c. chicken or vegetable stock (I used my own homemade pork stock)

1/2 c. half-and-half

1/2 onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 T. coriander

1.5 T. curry powder

1 T. chili powder

Panchetta for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste

Soft goat cheese for garnish

Chives for garnish

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut squash in half and clean out seeds.  Place face down on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Place whole sweet potatoes on the same sheet.  Roast until squash and potatoes are soft, approximately 45 minutes.  Once cool to the touch, remove skin and place the flesh in a large soup pot.  Add stock and half-and-half.  Stir until incorporated.

Add onion, garlic, coriander, curry, and chili powder; bring to a simmer, and maintain for 10-15 minutes, stirring often.

In a small saute pan, cook panchetta over medium-high heat until done, approximately 5 minutes.

Using an immersion or traditional blender, puree soup until smooth.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with soft goat cheese, chives, and cooked panchetta.

Serves 6

 

Cooking note: goes great with grilled meat.

 

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Too Many Sick Bodies

18 Dec

Hello All,

Currently, I have 5 clients that are currently dealing or they have already been infected with the flu. So, because everybody seems to know the “usual prescription” of chicken soup, vitamin C, reduce stress, etc., I did some research and came up with this article from one of my favorite websites, the Vitamin D Council. Here is some advice for you and your family.

http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions/infections-and-autoimmunity/influenza/

Influenza Patient friendly summary

 Artistic rendition of influenza virus.

Influenza is a viral infection of the lungs. There are many symptoms:

  • fever
  • body aches and muscle pain
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • dry cough
  • runny nose
  • dry or sore throat

The lining around the lungs may become inflamed. This can lead to bacterial pneumonia.

Risk factors

Influenza is most common in winter, a time when:

  • Solar ultraviolet-B (UVB) doses are low.
  • The weather is cold. This prevents white blood cells from reaching the lining of the respiratory tract and fighting the virus.
  • The humidity is low. Dry air allows the virus to live longer outside of the body.

Sunlight exposure and influenza risk

 Influenza is more common in winter, when reduced sunlight causes vitamin D levels to fall.

Influenza rates peak in winter. There is less solar UVB light in winter, especially in areas farther from the equator. Thus, vitamin D levels are at their lowest.

Vitamin D and influenza

Vitamin D from sunlight or supplements reduces the risk of influenza.

Two randomized controlled trials found reduced incidence of influenza for those taking higher doses of vitamin D. A study involving African-American postmenopausal women in New York found a 60% reduced risk of colds and influenza for those taking 800 IU/d vitamin D3 and 90% reduced risk for those taking 2000 IU/d.

Another study in Japan, involving school children taking 1200 IU/d vitamin D3 vs. 200 IU/d, found a 67% reduction in Type A influenza, but no effect for Type B influenza. Type A influenza includes H1N1 varieties, which was the type involved in the 1918-19 pandemic influenza and the 2009 “swine flu” infections.

According to an observational study, vitamin D provides protection against influenza. This occurs when vitamin D levels in the blood are more than 38 ng/mL (95 nmol/L).

How vitamin D works

To enhance the body’s immune system, vitamin D:

  • Produces cathelicidin and defensins—These proteins have antiviral effects to combat viruses.
  • Reduces inflammation—As a result, body temperature does not rise as much, and the lining of the lungs is less disturbed. This makes it harder for bacteria to give rise to pneumonia.

Prevention

High levels of vitamin D may prevent or lower the risk of influenza. Vitamin D may also reduce symptoms of influenza and reduce the risk of developing pneumonia following influenza. Vaccines strengthen the body’s ability to fight infection. Therefore, combining high levels of vitamin D and anti-influenza vaccines provide the best protection.

Vitamin D

Based on several studies, raising vitamin D blood levels to 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/l) may reduce the risk of influenza. For most people, this involves taking 1000–5000 international units (IU) (25–125 mcg)/day of vitamin D during the influenza season.

Treatment

On average, 2000-5000 IU/day vitamin D3 may provide protection against influenza. Vitamin D3, the true form of vitamin D, is produced in the skin. Larger doses of vitamin D taken for a short time strengthen the immune system. This allows the body to fight infection.

Need to know more? Read on with our detailed evidence summary on Influenza.

Vitamin D Deficiency and Pregnancy Risks

18 Dec

From the Vitamin D Council:

December 13, 2012 — John Cannell, MD
Professors Carole Wagner and Bruce Hollis and ten of their colleagues at the Medical University of South Carolina recently conducted the largest randomized controlled trial to date using meaningful daily doses (2,000 vs. 4,000 IU) of vitamin D during pregnancy.

Wagner CL, McNeil R, Hamilton SA, Winkler J, Cook CR, Warner G, Bivens B, Davis DJ, Smith PG, Murphy M, Shary J, Hollis BW. A Randomized Trial of Vitamin D Supplementation in Two Community Health Center Networks in South Carolina. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2012 Nov 3.

The ethics committee would not let them use a control group of 400 IU/day, as the committee felt this would endanger the women and their newborns. Sadly, most women in this country only take the 400 IU/day in their prenatal vitamin.

The researchers randomized 256 pregnant women, 160 of whom completed the study. They were separated into two groups, 2,000 or 4,000 IU per day, beginning at 3-4 months of pregnancy. They followed the 160 women through delivery and found the following:

  1. At the beginning of the study, pregnant African American women had a level of 18.5 ng/ml, while Whites had notably higher mean values of 29.5 ng/ml.
  2. Neither group had any side effects; in fact the blood calcium levels of the 4,000 IU group actually went down.
  3. At delivery, the average cord blood vitamin D level was 22 ng/ml in the 2,000 IU/day group and 27 ng/ml in the 4,000 IU/day group, still slightly less than cord levels of hunter gatherers.
  4. Overall, only 37% of the 2,000 IU group and 46% of the 4,000 IU group achieved vitamin D levels of 40 ng/ml by the end of their pregnancies. Furthermore, 40 ng/ml was the threshold level at which conversion of 25(OH)D to activated vitamin D finally flattened out during pregnancy. In other words, the more 25(OH)D the pregnant woman had, the higher the activated vitamin D level, until a 25(OH)D level of 40 ng/ml was reached, and activated vitamin D stopped increasing any more at higher levels.
  5. The 4,000 IU group participants had 2.40 times higher odds of having an infant in the 50th percentile of birth weight, compared to the 2,000 IU group. That is, the 4,000 IU group was more likely to have normal weight babies.
  6. Lower pre‐delivery 25(OH)D was significantly predictive of preterm delivery (p=0.001)
  7. Lower pre‐delivery 25(OH)D was associated with more infection (p=0.026).
  8. Overall, complications of pregnancy were less with the 4,000 IU/day group than with the 2,000 IU/day group, though not statistically significant.

In my opinion, this is once again great research that shows that pregnant women should have levels over 40 ng/ml, and I think it’s preferable to target levels between 50-60 ng/ml.

This is why the Council recommends 6,000 IU/day, to ensure these kinds of levels. We also recommend checking 25(OH)D levels periodically throughout pregnancy to make sure your 25(OH)D levels remain in the natural range, about 50-60 ng/ml. Some women may need more than 6,000 IU/day.