Your Gut – 10x more cells than your entire body?

Unfortunately, many people think of their gut solely as the mechanism by which your body digests food, which is at best an extreme oversimplification, and at worst an ideology massively contributing to the health problems, weight loss struggles, and auto-immune disorders of millions world-wide.
In reality, your GI tract is MUCH more than a digestion center; in fact, it is quite literally your second brain as well as being “home” to 80% of your immune system.
You see, within your gut reside roughly 100 TRILLION living bacteria…
That’s more than 10 times the number of cells you have in your entire body – and maintaining the ideal ratio of “good bacteria” (known as probiotics) to “bad bacteria” is now gaining recognition as perhaps the single most important step you can take to protect your health and further along your fat loss goals.
In fact, there are more than 200 studies linking inadequate probiotic levels to more than 170 different serious health issues; including obesity and weight gain:
To touch briefly on the weight gain and obesity consequences, virtually every study performed on the obese population analyzing gut bacteria found higher instances of “bad” bacteria and lower levels of probiotics (again, the “good” bacteria) within these individuals.
Perhaps you yourself are already experiencing some of the more advanced signs that your intestinal bacterial balance is beginning to spin out of control, such as:
• Gas and bloating

• Constipation and/or diarrhea

• Skin problems

• Overall sickness

• Headaches

• Urinary tract infections

• Trouble sleeping

• An inability to lose weight

• Sugar cravings, especially for heavily refined carbs
You see, the ideal healthy ratio of “good” to “bad” bacteria is 85% to 15%, or 9 to 1.
Unfortunately, due to lifestyle and environmental factors, the vast majority of the population is severely lacking when it comes to good probiotic bacteria, throwing their gut flora ratio completely out of whack.
These lifestyle and environmental factors include, but are not limited to, exposure to:
• Sugar

• Artificial sweeteners of any kind (found in “diet” beverages and food items, chewing gum, and even toothpaste)

• Processed foods

• Chlorinated water

• Pollution

• Antacids

• Laxatives

• Alcoholic beverages

• Agricultural chemicals and pesticides, and…

• Antibiotics (from medications and/or antibiotics found in meat and dairy products that we ingest).
As you can see, unless you maintain a 100% organic diet, completely avoid all sugar, and lock yourself in the house in an attempt to only consume the purest of air 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it is almost certain that your gut flora balance is suffering, and will continue to suffer, unless you do something to proactively correct it on a daily basis.
Can you really afford to neglect your gastrointestinal health much longer?
If you do, the likely result is dramatically increased risk for health problems and disease, failure to experience relief from any ailments you may be currently suffering from, and an inevitable, continual struggle with your weight.
With that said, it’s no wonder that research is now suggesting that supplementing with probiotics every single day is even MORE important to your health than taking a daily multi-vitamin…

Advertisements

Which Trainers? Running, trail, gym….

We had an interesting little chat in Fitcamp the other morning and few of the gang were talking about changing their trainers. Various reasons and suggestions were put forward – I thought this info graphic would go somewhat to help the decision making process. 
For years now I have worn and recommended New Balance Minimus Vibram trail shoes. They are light weight, very flexible almost flat for a barefoot style and take the stresses of the multi directional training included in my sessions. 

I first swapped after attending a seminar on barefoot running – although I NEVER run – it was an interesting talk and very persuasive. The main takeaway was that high heels hurt your knees and back! What a surprise – we girls have known this for ever – but trainer makers never related that to sports shoe design.  

So here’s bit of history (science) to persuade you too. My occasional knee niggle is long gone, the impact work we do doesn’t present any problem even tho my shoes have very little traditional support. 


Next time you’re thinking of buying new training shoes, consider what you want to do, what you want to achieve. If you are with us and not planning on spending hours on useless cardio machines, intend on mixing your strength and cardio training into,super effective metabolic conditioning sessions you’ll need a flexible, supportive low profile shoe with good grip and adjustable fit. 

To squat you need a flat foot position, to keep your feet healthy you need to ‘feel’ the floor and you need to be able to wash and wear your trainers. These current designs all allow sweat to wick away and cooling mesh panels reduce heat. Many are treated to prevent bacteria too! Here are a few pictures of what I think you should look for


This is very similar to the shoe I use. I searched online for ‘Sports Shoes Direct’ they have good sales – especially once you know your size. These are NOT cheap shoes – but I wear them everyday and they last very well.  Old style shoes with thick soles break down inside – you think you’ve got a supportive shoe but the cushioning structures have crumbled tipping you even further forward than before.

Other makers to look at are Merrel and Sketchers. Sadly, I don’t really like shoes that I’ve seen from Nike and Adidas – they are still built on a wedge sole, even tho’ much lower than in the past, and usually have an unstructured upper that stretches and warps when under strain of multi-directional training. 

I’ve recently done two Active ageing and Functional ageing training courses, the take home from both was that we need to spend time barefoot or as close to it everyday. To keep muscles working and responsive but also to stimulate the feedback mechanisms in our feet – soles, toes and heels. The ‘use it or lose it’ rule applies to this aspect of fitness too.  

I believe you will move better as a result of more feedback from your feet, your muscles will absorb impact rather than your joints and you’ll have less hard skin and callouses too!  These shoes even come in width fittings – so no more bursting out the sides of your running shoes when you train laterally or blisters from your narrow feet moving inside a wide shoe. 

Remember as a species we’ve been moving for thousands of years, no-one needs to run for miles and miles to be healthy and fit. If running is your sport – that’s your choice. But to get the best fitness bang for your buck (time) you’ll be cutting down pure cardio, increasing resistance training and hopefully combining the two, so an adaptable shoe is essential. 

Let me know how you get on.

Jax 

Cardio – a waste of fat burning time!


Did you know that if you perform 30, 40, even 50 minutes of slow and steady cardio day after day that, over time, it can actually make you GAIN fat around your belly, your thighs, and your legs?
It may sound hard to believe, but studies are now proving people who perform long bouts of chronic cardio suffer from decreased thyroid function[1], release more of the stress hormone cortisol[2], and increase their appetite[3] – all at the same exact time.
In fact, research shows people eat at least 100 MORE calories than they burn off after performing cardio.
Now here’s the REAL scary part.
Did you know that chronic cardio and jogging could even damage your heart[4]?
Sounds crazy, but your heart is a muscle and when it’s overworked with old-school cardio it can do more harm than good.
Whether it’s toning classes, yoga , 5k races, Pilates, or “core training” – all these things are “healthy” for you, but they’ll never flatten your belly or release the hormones that keep you young and burn off stubborn fat.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, or what your current condition is, or what limitations you have – unless you learn to apply proper intensity on YOUR body, you’ll NEVER see your belly get flatter or slow the aging process.
We are not saying you should go all-out and risk injury, but learning to push yourself for short, hard bursts is by far the most efficient and effective way to force your body to release fat burning hormones.

Research refs – efficient exercise for Fatloss

1. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2003 Jan; 88(4-5):480-4.

2. Skoluda, N., Dettenborn, L., et al. Elevated Hair Cortisol Concentrations in Endurance Athletes. Psychoneuroendocrinology. September 2011.
3. Sonneville, K.R., et al. (2008) International Journal of Obesity. 32, S19-S27.

 . Cakir-Atabek, H., Demir, S., Pinarbassili, R., Bunduz, N. Effects of Different Resistance Training Intensity on Indices of Oxidative Stress. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. September 2010. 24(9), 2491-2498.
5. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1992 Jul;75(1):157-62. Effect of low and high intensity exercise on circulating growth hormone in men. authors: Felsing NE1, Brasel JA, Cooper DM.
6. R. Bahr and O.M. Sejersted, “Effect of Intensity on Excess Postexercise O2 Consumption,” Metabolism 40.8 (1991) : 836-841.
6. C. Bass, “Forget the Fat-Burn Zone: High Intensity Aerobics Amazingly Effective,” Clarence and Carol Bass, http://www.cbass.com, 1997.
6. J. Smith and L. McNaughton, “The Effects of Intensity of Exercise and Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption and Energy Expenditure in Moderately

Trained Men and Women,” Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 67 (1993) : 420-425..
6. I. Tabata, et al., “Effects of Moderate-Intensity Endurance and High-Intensity Intermittent Training on Anaerobic Capacity and VO2max,” Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 28.10 (1996) : 1327-1330.
6. I. Tabata, et al., “Metabolic Profile of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercises,” Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 29.3 (1997) : 390-395.
6. 2011 study conducted by the American College of Sport Medicine. 

Your Hormones, Your Health


Feeling bloated, irritable, or just not your best? A hormone imbalance could be to blame. Hormones are chemical “messengers” that impact the way your cells and organs function. It’s normal for your levels to shift at different times of your life, such as before and during your period or a pregnancy, or during menopause. But some medications and health issues can cause them to go up or down, too.

Irregular Periods


Most women’s periods come every 21 to 35 days. If yours doesn’t arrive around the same time every month, or you skip some months, it might mean that you have too much or too little of certain hormones (estrogen and progesterone). If you’re in your 40s or early 50s — the reason can be perimenopause — the time before menopause. But irregular periods can be a symptom of health problems like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Talk to your doctor.
Sleep Problems



If you aren’t getting enough shut-eye, or if the sleep you get isn’t good, your hormones could be at play. Progesterone, a hormone released by your ovaries, helps you catch Zzz’s. If your levels are lower than usual, that can make it hard to fall and stay asleep. Low estrogen can trigger hot flashes and night sweats, both of which can make it tough to get the rest you need.

Chronic Acne


A breakout before or during your period is normal. But acne that won’t clear up can be a symptom of hormone problems. An excess of androgens (“male” hormones that both men and women have) can cause your oil glands to overwork. Androgens also affect the skin cells in and around your hair follicles. Both of those things can clog your pores and cause acne.

Memory Fog


Experts aren’t sure exactly how hormones impact your brain. What they do know is that changes in estrogen and progesterone can make your head feel “foggy” and make it harder for you to remember things. Some experts think estrogen might impact brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Attention and memory problems are especially common during perimenopause and menopause. But they can also be a symptom of other hormone-related conditions, like thyroid disease. Let your doctor know if you’re having trouble thinking clearly.

Belly Problems


Your gut is lined with tiny cells called receptors that respond to estrogen and progesterone. When these hormones are higher or lower than usual, you might notice changes in how you’re digesting food. That’s why diarrhea, stomach pain, bloating, and nausea can crop up or get worse before and during your period. If you’re having digestive woes as well as issues like acne and fatigue, your hormone levels might be off.

Ongoing Fatigue



Are you tired all the time? Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of a hormone imbalance. Excess progesterone can make you sleepy. And if your thyroid — the butterfly-shaped gland in your neck — makes too little thyroid hormone, it can sap your energy. A simple blood test called a thyroid panel can tell you if your levels are too low. If they are, you can get treated for that.
chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. But other hormones, that travel the same paths as neurotransmitters, also play a part in how you feel.

Mood Swings and Depression


Researchers think drops in hormones or fast changes in their levels can cause moodiness and the blues. Estrogen affects key brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. But other hormones, that travel the same paths as neurotransmitters, also play a part in how you feel.

Appetite and Weight Gain



When you’re feeling blue or irritated, as you can be when your estrogen levels dip, you may want to eat more. That might be why drops in the hormone are linked to weight gain. The estrogen dip can also impact your body’s levels of leptin, a hunger-revving hormone.

Headaches


Lots of things can trigger these. But for some women, drops in estrogen bring them on. That’s why it’s common for headaches to strike right before or during your period, when estrogen is on the decline. Regular headaches or ones that often surface around the same time each month can be a clue that your levels of this hormone might be shifting.
Caginal Dryness


It’s normal to have this occasionally. But if you often notice that you’re dry or irritated down there, low estrogen may be the reason. The hormone helps vaginal tissue stay moist and comfortable. If your estrogen drops because of an imbalance, it can reduce vaginal fluids and cause tightness.

Loss of Libido


Most people think of testosterone as a male hormone, but women’s bodies make it, too. If your testosterone levels are lower than usual, you might have less of an interest in sex than you usually do.
Breast Changes


A drop in estrogen can make your breast tissue less dense. And an increase in the hormone can thicken this tissue, even causing new lumps or cysts. Talk to your doctor if you notice breast changes, even if you don’t have any other symptoms that concern you.

Your Hormones, Your Health

Feeling bloated, irritable, or just not your best? A hormone imbalance could be to blame. Hormones are chemical “messengers” that impact the way your cells and organs function. It’s normal for your levels to shift at different times of your life, such as before and during your period or a pregnancy, or during menopause. But some medications and health issues can cause them to go up or down, too.
 

Are you deficient in essential nutrients?

1. Are You Deficient?

1. Vitamin D

This vitamin helps regulate calcium absorption in your gut. It also helps maintain bone strength, healthy muscles, a well functioning nervous system, and is important for immune function and cell growth.

You might be deficient if you are experiencing digestive or gut issues, a weakened immune system, or even feeling depressed.

To get more try eating more eggs, milk, cheese and butter. Mushrooms can also be a great source of Vitamin D. Fish such as cod, salmon, mackerel, and tuna. Perhaps the most efficient way to get more Vitamin D is to get out in the sun. Our bodies naturally produce it when exposed to sunlight so try getting at least 10 to 20 minutes a day.

Go for a walk at lunchtime, park further away from work or the shops, expose your skin – you don’t need factor 50 ALL year round – feel healthy and alive! 
P.s. I’m not suggesting you strip off in public tho’, especially this time of year. The UK is at a latitude meaning we don’t get the Suns rays at an angle where we get enough Vitamin D even if we streak around the garden naked in Autumn, Winter and even part of Spring. 
Think about a supplement – you can get soft gels to chew or an under the tongue spray and you’re golden! 

Can You Snack Healthy?

There are more options than you think!!

Sometimes, the whole world of snacking seems to be based on the one thing you’re supposed to limit: refined carbs. Even the “healthier” packaged items, like granola bars, smoothies, and crackers, are full of them. If you look past the vending machine, though, you’ll find plenty of other tasty options, like these smart snacks. The best part? They’re as easy to toss together as they are delicious. 

#1 Low carb snack

Apples and Cheese

  
Sweet and salty flavors add up to a great snack. Pair half a cup of apple slices with string cheese for about 10 grams of carbs. The combination of protein, fat, and fiber makes it a filling and satisfying nosh.
#2 low carb snack

Avocado on a Crisp

  
Avocados have a place in your diet outside the guacamole bowl. Mash one-quarter of a ripe avocado and spread it on two light rye crisps for a crunchy, creamy snack with 18 grams of carbs, plus plenty of fiber and heart-healthy fat. It’s like a mini open-faced sandwich.
#3 low carb snack

Yogurt and Cucumbers
  Take your yogurt in a savory direction. Use a cup of low-fat, plain Greek yogurt as a creamy dip for 1 cup of refreshing cucumber spears. It adds up to12 grams of carbs and a mega dose (20 grams) of appetite-satisfying protein. It’s like a version of the famous Greek dish, tzatziki.

#4 low carb snack

Turkey Roll-Ups

  
Deli turkey has uses beyond a sandwich filling. Lose the bread and roll up 1 ounce of sliced turkey in lettuce leaves with mustard. This light, crisp snack has about 3 grams of carbs and will get you through the afternoon.

#5 low carb snack 

Cottage Cheese With Berries

  
Cheesecake doesn’t make for a healthy snack option, but you can mimic a little of the flavor in a healthier way. Pair a cup of low-fat cottage cheese with half a cup of fresh or frozen blueberries and a little of your favorite no-calorie sweetener. The result? A dessert-like snack with 18 grams of carbs.

#6 low carb snack

Better Beef Jerky

   
Jerky has been going upscale in recent years, and there are better options now than the over-processed mystery-meat versions you’ve had before. Look for jerkies made from grass-fed beef, which have big flavor and just 10 grams of carbs per serving (about 1.5 ounces). 

#7 low carb snack

Celery and Peanut Butter

  
Remember eating this snack with your homework after school? It’s still a good idea! Fill two medium celery stalks with 2 tablespoons of natural-style peanut butter for a nibble that will take you back to your childhood, with only 9 grams of carbs.

#8 low carb snack

Hardboiled Egg With a Kick Nuts

  
Mixed nuts are an all-time snack classic for good reason. They’re just as satisfying at your desk as they are at a party. One ounce of crunchy, salty, mixed nuts will keep your energy up for hours for only 5 grams of carbs per ounce.

Hard-boiled eggs are the original grab-‘n’-go power snack. Cut one in half and spread on a little hot sauce (such as sriracha) to make it as full of flavor as it is of protein. That’s a zesty bite for less than 1 gram of carbs.

#9 low carb snack

Nuts

  
Mixed nuts are an all-time snack classic for good reason. They’re just as satisfying at your desk as they are at a party. One ounce of crunchy, salty, mixed nuts will keep your energy up for hours for only 5 grams of carbs per ounce.

#10 low carb snack
Kale Chips

  
Even kale haters come around when they taste kale chips. Some store-bought varieties have less than 10 grams of carbs. You can cut that number even further by making them at home. Tear the leaves from a bunch of kale. Rinse and dry them. Toss with 1 tablespoon of oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Roast them in your oven at 300 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until the kale is crispy.

#11 low carb snack

  
Edamame

Also called steamed soybeans, edamame taste great, are full of fiber and protein, and have just 8 grams of carbs in a half cup of shelled edamame. They’re easy to make in your microwave, so keep a bag in your freezer.

#12 low carb snack

Hummus and Red Bell Pepper Wedges

  
Though they’re often spotted together, hummus isn’t married to high-carb pita bread. Spread 1/4 cup of hummus onto wedges cut from one red bell pepper for a filling, tasty snack that has 16 grams of carbs.

#13 low carb snack 

  
Stuffed Tomato

Get the health benefits from tuna without all the carbs that come with your typical tuna sandwich. Pack 3 ounces of canned tuna into a ripe tomato half for a hearty snack with only 3.5 grams of carbs.

Strong Legs = Brain Health!

This one of the reasons we have leg week!  
Long legs could be easy on the eye, but how trim a woman’s legs are, in terms of power, could indicate how healthy her brain will be at old age says a study. (The picture above shows Svetlana Pankratova, Guiness World Records holder for the ‘World’s longest female legs’.)Guinness World Records Site

Puzzling as it may seem, fit legs, could mean a healthy brain for older women. According to a study, legs are better brain health indicators than the heart. The study adds to growing evidence that physical activity benefits both body and mind.

The research, spanning a decade, studied 300 twins to arrive at its initial conclusion. The link lay between the exercise a healthy mind gets, according to the King’s College London team. Leg power is an indicator of sufficient exercise that in turn releases brain boosting chemicals in the body of elders.

Leg power in the 150 pairs of twin sisters aged between 43 and 73 years, was measured across the period by both speed and power of leg extension. Brain power was tested by looking at memory and mental processing skills, reports the BBC.

The twin with more leg power at the start of the study showed better cognition and fewer brain changes associated with ageing after 10 years. This was so, even when other risk factors for dementia, were included.

Lead researcher Dr Claire Steves said: “When it came to cognitive ageing, leg strength was the strongest factor that had an impact in our study. Other factors such as heart health were also important, but the link with leg strength remained even after we accounted for these.”

The reason behind the body-brain physical activity is not well understood. It is also to be determined if memory improvements lead to reduced dementia risk. Every four seconds a new case of dementia is detected globally and by 2050 more than 115 million will suffer dementia.

The benefits of exercise to the brain could come from various factors like reduced insulin resistance and inflammation, and brain growth factor stimulation that release chemicals that keep brain cells healthy, help grow new blood vessels in the brain. A UCLA work in fact proved this link between exercise and growth factors enhancing new neuronal connections in the brain.

Meanwhile, a University of British Columbia study found that regular aerobic exercise like walking seems to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain centre for memory and learning. Another Georgia University study claimed that 20 minutes of exercise improves brain information processing and memory. Researchers say an hour of walking twice a week is sufficient to keep the grey cells ticking away.