Archive for the ‘Thyroid, Hormones & Metabolism’ Category
I don’t do well with grains. In fact, because of their effect on my digestion, I don’t eat them very often… (except for my long-standing vice: tortilla chips). The reason for my disharmony with grains could be due to my IBS, celiac disease, or my ancestral ‘O’ blood type. Whatever the cause, over the years I have learned that I feel better if I limit or omit them entirely. For some more information on nutrition-typing, you can take a free test on Dr. Mercola’s website.
These cookies are a recipe that my carb-loving toddler and husband love! I’ve realized that it’s easy for kids to end up with diets heavy in grains, sugar, and carbohydrates if you don’t make conscious choices to add in high quality fats and proteins. To make these cookies specific carbohydrate diet compliant, you can substitute raw honey for the evaporated cane juice and leave out one (or both) of the bananas. I will work on adding more grain-free, SCD, GAPS-friendly and anti-candida (Natalia Rose’s Detox for Women) recipes to this site. I love any excuse to add more coconut oil to my diet. Not only is it delicious and bakes superbly, but the medium chain fatty acids support thyroid function and aid in metabolism. Yummy.
Here is the recipe:
- 1/2 Cup Virgin Coconut Oil (plus more for greasing sheet)
- 1 Cup Coconut Flour
- 1 1/2 Cups Almond Meal or Almond Flour
- 2 Eggs
- 2 Very Ripe Bananas
- 1/2 Cup Evaporated Cane Juice
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2 tsp Vanilla
Combine ingredients in food processor. You may need to warm the coconut oil first if it’s too solid. Process until well combined- you don’t need to worry about over-mixing. Grease baking sheet with extra coconut oil. Drop by the spoonful. Cookies won’t spread while baking, so avoid making them too high or the centers won’t cook all the way. Bake in a 350 oven (325 convection) for 10-12 minutes.
Kale is such a nutritional superstar that it has an ANDI score of 1000, meaning that it contains the highest nutrient content per calorie of any food (along with other leafy greens like collards, mustard greens, and watercress). In addition, it is an excellent source of the often overlooked Vitamin K, which is poised to become the next nutrient media darling, (move over Vitamin D).
Kale is truly a superfood, but it’s a cruciferous vegetable and should be cooked. Like soy, raw cruciferous vegetables contain goitrogens that disrupt thyroid function. While consumption of goitrogens by those with robust thyroids might not pose any harm, a large number of individuals have compromised, undiagnosed, or subclinical thyroid issues. The simple act of cooking lessens the presence of goitrogens, increases the bioavailability of some nutrients, and helps break down the insoluble fiber for easier digestion. This last point is especially helpful if you (like me) have difficulty breaking down roughage. It is also important to remember to consume good quality fats along with vegetables to ensure the absorption of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K).
- 16 oz Kale (frozen or fresh)
- 1/2 cup veg broth
- 1/3 cup raw brazil nuts
- 1 Tbs nutritional yeast
- 1 white or yellow onion
- 3-5 mushrooms*
- dash of granulated garlic
My husband and toddler likes this mixed in with quinoa. I like it thinned out as a base for soup. The possibilities are endless!
*I often use fancy dehydrated mushroom mixes and add them in with fresh mushrooms. Just rehydrate the mushrooms first to use in this recipe. To rehydrate, place mushrooms in a boil and cover with hot water. Let mushrooms sit for a couple hours before use. Alternatively you can cover with room temperature water and let sit overnight in the fridge. I’ve found that they often need a long soak time or they will be a bit rubbery.
The 2011 Sunscreen guide arrived in my inbox this morning thanks to one of my favorite organizations, the Environmental Working Group. If you are at all interested in keeping carcinogens, neurotoxins, endocrine disruptors, etc. off your skin and out of your body, then EWG’s Skin Deep database will be your best friend. Years ago, when I first found Skin Deep I dropped my “natural” Aveeno sunscreen into the trash. Reading the list of potential side effects of these everyday products is gross. And EWG just gets better and better all the time. The number of products they’ve scored in their database has grown exponentially.
Unfortunately, of the 65,000+ products that they review, they don’t have my favorite facial sunscreen: Eminence’s Tropical Vanilla Sun Cream SPF 32. Though the price is a bit prohibitive, it is the best mineral sunscreen that I’ve used. The “cream” part means that it is more moisturizing and it leaves much less of a white mask than the others I’ve tried. It also provides a sort of matte finish that I think looks a bit like wearing powder. Oh, and it smells amazingly edible.
However, I feel like all mineral sunscreens are somewhat terrible for running. Even in the non-warm Oregon spring, they are suffocating and seem to slide off. Oh the irony: Sweating in the sunshine only increases the need for protection, but sunscreens (and mineral ones in particular) don’t work well in a slippery environment. Regular “sport” sunscreens do better, but the chemicals really bother my eczema. The compromise that I’ve come up with is the occasional use of Alba Botanical ‘s SPF 45 Sport. EWG scores it as a 5, which is higher than I normally would consider using, but it seems to be less irritating for my hands and better at staying in place (and actually providing sun protection!).
As for my son… I just love everything California Baby. Maybe being born in the OC makes me biased?
I really never used to wear sunscreen. I told everyone that I drank enough carrot juice to protect my skin! And then one day something clicked… I think it was turning 27 and realizing that I was nearing the down-slide to 30 and middle-adulthood. It was like a hazard light went off in my brain: I AM AGING. Obviously this seems overly dramatic, but I have a mother who has always been obsessed with skincare and it was just a matter of time until I joined in the compulsion.
For me it’s not just about finding the MOST effective products, but also finding the LEAST toxic ones. Many active ingredients (like glycolic & salicylic acids) have been found to be potentially hazardous, but they give great results. Just like any effective medication, there could be some side effects… it’s just a matter of how much you are willing to compromise.
One things that kill me are parabens. These are simply chemical preservatives added to products to make them last longer on the store shelves. They have been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, mutations, and they are an endocrine disruptor (ie. they mess with your thyroid & hormones). So why are cosmetic companies still adding these harmful preservatives to everything from makeup to shampoo to lotions? We know they’re bad and many “natural” companies have abandoned them… there’s really no excuse.
And onto the hottly debated topic of Sunscreen. Studies have linked certain UV filters to the transsexualization of male fish, hormone disrupting activity and low birth weights in infant girls. One of these culprit chemicals is oxybenzone, which is common in many sunscreens. To lower the toxicity of sunscreens look for physical and not chemical blockers (ie. zinc oxide) in their non-nano form. This means that the particles are large enough to sit on the surface of the skin. The downside to this is the dreaded pasty-ghost-white film… but many products are getting better. A way around this is to use a tinted moisturizer with spf on your face.
The cosmetics database from the Environmental Working Group, a DC-based nonprofit, has 1,000′s of products rated on their safety levels. It’s a wonderful resource to lookup your favorite products and see their toxicity level. I used to buy Aveeno’s Positively Radiant facial sunscreen until I looked it up a couple of years ago. Today we are so bombarded with environmental pollutants and toxins from every angle (food, water, air, homes, etc.) that it is no wonder that an alarmingly high number of us have some kind of hormone, auto-immune, endrocrine (thyroid) or adrenal problem! One of the easiest things we can control is what we put onto my body.
Here’s the 2009 Guide to Sunscreens. Now, I’m off to enjoy the nice weather!
Also check out: Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
Let me start by saying, of course this is a complicated issue with no black and white solution. I honestly think it will take me a number of posts to say what I would like to.
Both the pro and anti oral contraception crowds have some data to backup their claims. It’s easy to find female athletes across the spectrum: from those who are able to perform fine on the pill; to those who recognized that they couldn’t achieve their athletic potential while taking the hormones; to women who simply couldn’t function on any form of oral contraception.
The truth is that the studies are extremely limited, and the ones using actual athletes are even more so. Like many issues in women’s health, the lack of data is extremely frustrating.
Though some distance runners begin taking the pill for other reasons – such as acne, birth control, ovarian cysts, etc. – many are urged to start taking it because they are amenorrheic, meaning their menstrual cycles have stopped. There is documented evidence that women who are amenorrheic in young adulthood fail to build the optimal amount of bone and may suffer from low bone density later in life. There is even some data to suggest that a certain extent of this loss may be irreversible.
While the link between estrogen and bone density seems to be established, the logic that birth control pills will protect bone density has not been thoroughly tested. This approach to amenorrhea in young women is actually based on the treatment of post-menopausal women with low bone density using hormone replacement therapy.
There are many reasons that a woman can experience amenorrhea, and by extension thought to be low estrogen. My theory is that our bodies can only handle so much stress and that they need a certain level of homeostasis to function properly. Our stress levels are affected by our diet, activity level, emotional health, and environmental pollutants. Any combination of these assaults can contribute to a stress load that is too much for our system to function normally. When this happens the body goes into crisis mode and decides to stop menstruating.
The reality is that there are a number of highly trained, extremely lean competitive athletes who have normal menstrual cycles. There are also many non-athletic, average weight young women who are amenhorreic. Body-fat and training-level don’t necessarily tell the whole story.
One of the side effects of oral contraceptives that I find very troubling is the increased incidence of depression and mood disorders. The altered brain activity is largely contributed to interference of serotonin uptake and absorption of B-vitamins. This can be extremely detrimental for athletes and anyone suffering from disordered eating. In addition to helping the body handle and process stress, B-vitamins also play an important role in carbohydrate metabolism.
Another consideration is that the hormones in birth control pills, estrogen and progesterone, help feed the overgrowth of yeasts in the female body. Systemic yeast imbalance can result in a variety of very serious conditions including many digestive problems, food sensitivities, allergies, yeast infections, UTIs, skin conditions like acne and eczema, infertility problems, weight gain, and various other ailments.
The latest study about birth control pills reducing a women’s chance of gaining lean muscle mass is really disturbing for athletes. Running, especially, is all about strength to weight ratio.
Again, there isn’t an easy answer to the question of whether birth control pills are good for female distance runners (or athletes in general). There are a number of reasons why I think they aren’t a good idea for everyone. I don’t agree with the blanket prescription policy that is currently in place in most health institutions. Obviously birth control pills can be appropriate for some individuals, but that doesn’t mean that they should be prescribed out so quickly as the solution to every female problem.
I am not a medical doctor, but in my experience, health and athletic performance are best fostered when we look at the whole person. I also feel that a discussion of oral contraceptives in female distance runners or other athletes is incomplete without a further discussion of eating disorders, but I’ll reserve that for another post.
If you are wondering whether you should be taking the birth control pill, I urge you to weigh the positives and negatives and research the subject for yourself. Most doctors see a variety of patients, don’t specialize in treating athletes, and don’t necessarily keep up on the latest research. You have to be your own advocate. If you are you only taking the pill for birth control and are a serious athlete, it might really be worth taking the time to evaluate the trade-offs.
*A side note about Ortho Tricyclen…. My theory is that this company gives a lot free samples and kickbacks to Doctor’s offices because they always prescribe patients on this pill first. According to doctors, they start women on a tri-phasal pill (meaning three different levels of hormones) because it mimics the normal phases of the female’s cycle. The flaw in this logic, as far as I’m concerned, is that when you’re talking about girls who are amenorehic, they don’t have a cycle… so this artificial phasing is very difficult on their systems.
I feel that my situation was pretty typical of what a number of female athletes go through. I was prescribed Ortho Tri Cyclen* when I was 17 because I hadn’t had a period for more than two years. Not wanting to put anything artificial in my body and being scared about the hormones, I didn’t actually start taking the pills until I sustained a stress fracture in my foot during my freshman cross-country season at college.
After the fracture, a doctor convinced me that it occurred because my bone density was low. He said my bones were suffering because I didn’t have periods. This was the case because the absence of menses meant that my body didn’t have enough estrogen… and estrogen was the key to calcium being absorbed by my bones. He told me that my estrogen was low because I ran so much. And he said all this could be corrected by taking the birth control pill because it would supply my body with artificial estrogen that would keep my bones strong.
The Female Athlete Triad- of disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis- was a relatively new buzzword ten years ago and doctors, trainers, and coaches were quick to jump to the conclusion that the birth control pill was the easiest, quickest-fix band-aid solution to the most bothersome part of it. I wish that I could say that as a community, sports medicine has made tremendous progress – that doctors, coaches, and trainers know a great deal more about how to address these situations with their athletes, but I don’t really believe it’s much better. Birth control pills are more than ever being prescribed to young athletes (and non-athletes alike) as a quick-fix solution to problems that require a much deeper and more comprehensive look at the whole system.
When I look back at my own situation, I realize that the Doctor made a lot of assumptions in his hypothesis. First, he assumed that my stress fracture was due to having low bone density, though he never measured the density of my bones. In reality it was my training that changed significantly – I had gone from running maybe 40 miles per week on dirt roads in high school in Colorado to running 70+ miles per week in college mostly on pavement.
The other reality about my situation was that running or body fat percentage wasn’t the cause of my amenorrhea. I was always a very active teenager and a “late bloomer.” I played 3-4 varsity level sports during high school. I only had a couple “regular periods” when I was 15 years old and they ceased when I left to be an exchange student in southern Brazil. In Brazil I wasn’t allowed outside of the house alone. It was, by far, the most sedentary I have ever been at any time in my life. And like all exchange students, I gained a few pounds. And yet this is the time in my life when my periods stopped. When I returned from Brazil, I embarked on a 30-day wilderness education course backpacking across Colorado’s San Juan Range. But still my cycle didn’t return.
Over the years I stopped taking birth control twice for several months at time to see if my period would return on its own. Each time I noticed a marked improvement in my mood and digestion, but each time a friend or doctor encouraged me to go back on the pill because I needed it for my bones. I remained on a mono-phasal birth control pill until the age of 25. At that point, my digestive problems and allergies were so bad that I wanted to try anything to alleviate the situation. I read as much as I could find on the subject, scheduled a bone density scan that came back on the low side of normal, and quit the pill for good. It was a liberating feeling!
Eventually, about 7 months later, my cycle returned naturally for the first time in over 10 years. For the first year or two it was not consistent- some months it wouldn’t come, some months it would only last a day. However, the overall trend was one of progress.
Acupuncture has been the single most helpful tool for me in finding hormonal balance and regulating my periods. I highly recommend it!
Birth control pills have always been a subject of much debate for female athletes. It seems like it is the modern-day doctor’s answer to any irregularity in the menstrual cycle. They want you to go on the pill for everything, you bleed too much, your cycle is too short, too long, non-existent… or hey, you have acne? No problem… take this pill. It only gives you a constant supply of synthetic hormones. (!)
Popping a pill is a much easier solution than trying to look into the root cause of the hormonal problem in the first place. What really upsets me is the lack of studies that have been done on the long term side effects of being on the pill and the real lack of studies actually done on athletes.
This latest study finds that women on the pill are “less likely to build muscle” than those not taking it. “You can still gain muscle on the pill, you just have to work harder.” The reason for this is because the pill drops levels of circulating testosterone. For the collegiate athlete, or the competitive athlete this is a serious issue.
My favorite part is at the end of the video:
Q: Should you reconsider taking the pill in light of this study?
A: Probably not unless you are a competitive athlete or body builder.
I was alarmed to find this article about Stevia on the Vegnews website. I eat a fair amount of stevia… ever since the non-bitter types came out a number of years ago. My favorite brand is NuNaturals out of Eugene, Oregon. It really has the cleanest flavor of any that I’ve tried over the years. The maltodextrin doesn’t seem to have any adverse affects on my stomach at all. The new Truvia, however, doesn’t sit as well. I appreciate them trying to cut stevia with Erythritol to give it that granular sugar-like quality, but my system doesn’t do well with sugar alcohol even though Erythritol is much more gentle on my system than Xylitol.
An aside: Erythritol & xylitol, are natural sugar alcohols so they are digested differently than regular sugar and don’t produce the pronounced blood-sugar spike and insulin response… too much of which is linked with diabetes and weight gain. Erythritol is known for having less gastric side effects than other sugar alcohols because it is absorbed in the small intestine while xylitol is absorbed in the large intestine and larger quanities often lead to gas, bloating and a laxative effect. Erythritol, has 5% of the calories of table sugar (.2calories per gram vs. 4 calories per gram) and 70% of the sweetness. So it is almost calorie-free
But back to the sweet stevia leaf…. after reading this article I want to figure out how it affect fertility in women, not just men. ugh. I really don’t want to give up my little white packets. They make cocoa & tea so much more delightful.
READ THE FULL STORY ON VEG NEWS.COM
Does this sugar stand-in stymie hopes for fertility in the future? VN’s resident nutritionist studies the sweet substitute.
By Ilyse Simon
Confused about whether or not switching from sugar to stevia might hurt your chances at parenthood? Your nutritional debate is understandable. Though the Food and Drug Administration approved stevia in December, there’s still some question about how much is really safe, especially if you’re trying to conceive. The short answer is that adding stevia to a cup of tea or coffee each day won’t compromise your health. However, stevia is worth scrutinizing if you plan to use it often or in large quantities.
Stevia is a shrub native to South America with leaves sweeter than white sugar. It’s calorie-free and one of just a few alternative sweeteners for people with diabetes, and the FDA has designated stevia Generally Recognized as Safe. (This is controversial because there are many products deemed “safe” by the FDA that I would never consider consuming, and the FDA has a history of protecting big agribusiness over human health—but there’s an element of truth to this one.) Stevia has been used in other countries for centuries without ill effects. Used to sweeten yerba mate in Paraguay and in Japan to sweeten pickles since the 1970s, stevia—in small quantities—has not been proven harmful. The main concern is that if we mass-market this plant extract as we have with soy, stevia could become a ubiquitous ingredient in everyday packaged foods. If your energy bar, smoothie, tea, and dairy-free ice cream are all sweetened with stevia, that might be more than is considered healthy.
North Americans, in general, still think more equals better, and tend to go to extremes when we find something we like. Again, it’s similar to the soy story: Asian cultures eat moderate amounts of soy daily in whole-food forms without negative consequences; Western cultures have processed and refined soy into isolated protein components, added it to highly processed energy bars, and continue scarfing them down like health foods. This is where the problems lie. The specifics on stevia show that high amounts affect male reproductive health with reduced sperm counts and possible infertility. In some laboratory studies, stevia acts on a cell’s DNA to cause unwanted mutations and may promote cancer. In other studies, large amounts of stevia interfere with normal carbohydrate metabolism. Recently, the Center for Science in the Public Interest lists stevia as an additive that people should “try to avoid,” but maintains that small amounts are probably safe.
The bottom line is that a little is probably fine, but a lot is not. That’s advice for almost any situation. One or two cups of coffee with stevia is not raising concern amongst researchers. It’s the scenario where stevia sweetens diet soda, fruited waters, and every piece of chewing gum stuck to your shoe that is of concern. Keep your diet clean, eat lots of fruits and veggies, go ahead and ditch the tighty-whiteys, and your fertility will likely be fine.
To go long distances, especially those longer than 10,000m, runners place a premium on relying primarily on aerobic metabolic pathways during the majority of the run. Runners who are capable of doing this rely mainly on fat for the majority of fuel, enabling them to limit the usage of carbohydrate. Carbohydrate storage is finite, but fat storage is, from a practical standpoint, limitless. The higher reliance on fat enables long-distance runners to run very long distances. It also enables them to preserve carbohydrate for moments during the race when they require fast acceleration (e.g., at the end of the race or while passing another runner). According to one study, only 2 to 7 percent of the total energy burned in aerobic activity is derived anaerobically.24 A small amount of carbohydrate is used even when maintaining aerobic activity, so distance runners must develop strategies for delivering carbohydrate during the run. A failure to do so will result in either low blood sugar or low muscle glycogen, both of which impair endurance by leading to premature muscle fatigue.
Keeping this in mind, distance runners must consider the following nutritionally relevant factors for their sport.
Long-distance runners are at risk of amenorrhea, low bone density, and stress fractures. The distances that these athletes run weekly to train may predispose them to stress fractures, despite the potential stimulating impact of running on skeletal mass.25 Although stress fractures occur more frequently in women runners than in men, all runners should ensure that their calcium intake is adequate to reduce the risk of fracture. Female runners are at higher risk of stress fractures because hard endurance training is often associated with cessation of the menstrual cycle. The reduced estrogen associated with amenorrhea is linked to lower bone density. Therefore, runners who experience either primary or secondary amenorrhea should seek appropriate medical advice to determine if rea son able steps can be taken to return to normal menstrual status.26
Female runners should take the following steps to reduce the risk of osteoporosis:
Consume calcium (1,500 milligrams per day) from food or a combination of food and supplements.
Avoid overconsumption of protein because excess protein is associated with higher urinary calcium losses.
Control the production of stress hormones (particularly cortisol) by maintaining hydration and blood sugar during exercise.
Avoid overtraining, which is associated with amenorrhea.
Inadequate energy intake is a red flag that the intake of vitamins and minerals may also be low. A study comparing the nutrient intakes of trained female runners who were amenorrheic, oligomenorrheic, or menstruating normally found clear nutrition differences between these groups, despite being matched on height, weight, training distance, and body fat percentage.27 The runners who were not menstruating had zinc intakes well below the recommended level of intake and lower than those found in the runners who had normal menses. In addition, the runners who had normal menses had higher intakes of fat and a more adequate total energy consumption. This suggests that high-carbohydrate diets, which are preferred for optimal performance, make it more difficult to consume the needed level of energy because carbohydrates have a lower caloric density than high-fat foods. Therefore, athletes should concentrate on consuming more food when carbohydrates constitute the main energy source. A failure to menstruate normally is a strong risk factor in the development of weaker bones and resulting stress fractures. Female runners have good cause to be fully aware of the adequacy of their energy and nutrient intakes because almost no injury is more frustrating or potentially career ending than the development of frequent stress fractures. Endurance runs require enormous amounts of energy (a marathon requires about 2,900 calories); they cannot be adequately trained for or run without an adequate total energy consumption. Food intake strategies, including eating snacks between meals and consuming snacks or sports beverages before, during, and after exercise, are important for ensuring that fuel consumption matches need.
Elite runners depend heavily on both fat and carbohydrate for fuel to accelerate and vary speed over the course of a long-distance race.
Surveys of distance runners confirm that total energy and carbohydrate intakes are below the recommended levels, suggesting that runners must make a concerted effort to consume the recommended amounts before, during, and after exercise.28,29 In a case study assessing the nutrient intake of an ultraendurance runner during a race, it was found that if the pre-event and during-event guidelines for food and beverage are followed, then athletes will have sufficient energy and fluids to successfully complete the event.30
Tapering activity before a competition improves competition performance.31 It does so by increasing glycogen stores, but it also makes the runner calmer, which gives the athlete an improved economy of running motion that enhances endurance. The importance of tapering exercise and of carbohydrate loading before an important event cannot be overemphasized.
Fluids are crucial. Fluid consumption should be on a fixed time schedule (every 10 to 15 minutes) to avoid underhydration and thirst. Perhaps no single factor is more important for ensuring a long-distance runner’s success than maintaining an optimal hydration state. Athletes should drink now, drink again in 10 to 15 minutes, and when they believe they’ve had enough, they should drink
more. Of course, the type of beverage consumed is also important.
A great deal of body heat is generated over the course of an endurance run, and this heat is liberated through sweat evaporation. Studies strongly suggest that a 6 to 7 percent carbohydrate solution with electrolytes is most effective in maintaining exercise endurance.31 It has been firmly concluded that acute heat exposure is detrimental to muscular endurance.32 Therefore, long-distance runners should develop the habit of frequent fluid consumption to maintain body water status, whether they are thirsty or not. A fluid intake of .5 to 1 liter per hour is sufficient to prevent significant dehydration in most athletes in mild environmental conditions, but a greater intake of fluids is needed for athletes running at higher intensities or in more severe environmental conditions in order to avoid heat stress.33
Distance runners typically have relatively low body fat levels. Successful long-distance runners are commonly thin, and this body profile may be advantageous to them in dissipating heat during long runs.34 However, since very low body fat levels are associated with amenorrhea, female athletes should seek a balance between low body fat levels and normal hormone function.
A critical factor in the performance of all endurance athletes is iron status, and evidence exists that endurance runners have reduced hemoglobin, hematocrit, and red blood cell counts when compared with strength and mixed-trained athletes.35 Iron status is sufficiently important that one of the more common illegal ergogenic aids used by endurance runners is erythropoietin (EPO),36 which stimulates the production of red blood cells, thereby enhancing oxygen-carrying capacity.37 Iron is an essential oxygen-carrying component of hemoglobin (red blood cell iron), myoglobin (muscle cell iron), and ferrochromes (oxygen-carrying enzymes essential for making ATP) in the mitochondria. It appears that hemoglobin status is of highest priority, so iron from other cells is cannibalized to support a normal hemoglobin production when iron stores (ferritin) and intake are inadequate. Therefore, a standard blood test measuring hemoglobin may appear normal while other iron-containing cells are depleted. For this reason, it is important that blood tests in endurance athletes always include a measure of ferritin, which should be at the level of a minimum of 20 nanograms per deciliter. Besides having an inadequate dietary intake, which is most common in runners who do not eat red meat or who are vegetarian, there are several other common causes of low iron status in runners:38-40
Excess iron loss in sweat
Excess loss of blood through the GI tract
Excess loss of blood in the urine (hematuria)
Excess menstrual blood loss in female runners
Poor absorption of iron
OK, I admit it…. I watch the Biggest Loser. It is the only reality TV show that I’ve ever really watched and certainly the only the one I’ve been hooked on. And yeah… I’ve been there since the beginning. In all fairness, we cancelled our cable last year- so I had to give up my food network addiction (Alton Brown, I miss you!) and my love for HGTV. I love making fun of the mainstream advice that the trainers give, not to mention the mini-commercials that riddle the episodes.
Like Bob really eats Quaker’s Weight Control Oatmeal EVERY day for breakfast. At least in this week’s pop quiz, all the remaining contestants knew the calorie equivalent of a pound (3500 Kcal). Before this show, I’m sure most of them stayed as far away from that knowledge as possible.
The way the producers have stretched this show into a two-hour infomercial is almost inspirational. And yeah, the writer’s strike probably had something to do with it, but it is definitely the most brilliant marketing move ever made by 24-hour fitness.
The irony of Ian and I watching this is certainly not lost on me… he is pretty scrawny and I am not exactly huge….we’re both underweight according to our BMIs. We joke about him going on a show for Biggest Gainers, where they take skinny guys and see who can gain the most muscle.
But seriously, there is something very inspirational about the positive underlying message. These people are taking their life in their hands. They are doing something, they are motivated, they are making changes. I also can’t believe how hard these obese contestants can push themselves (you know the casting crew must do some serious testing on these people to make sure they can handle that type of physical activity). And I do love the before & afters.
I am addicted to the Biggest Loser the same way I love shows about remodelling and flipping houses. (I would watch Extreme Home Makeover, but Ian won’t have it). In the end there are worse things than being left with a compulsion to do core exercises and scrub the bathtub.