Monthly Archives: July 2013

Glued to the Tube?

The average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day. For a 65-year old, that’s nine straight years glued to the tube. That’s a whole lot of telly! says it best- “They are spending all these hours watching a manipulated version of reality instead of living their own”.

What happened to the days of spending your free time on board games with the family, going outdoors with friends, or simply eating meals at the dining room table? It’s a shocker today to go into an American home that doesn’t have a television set; almost 100% of American households have at least one, and almost two-thirds spend their mealtime watching it. TV watching is not a good habit to make.  Not only does pushing the ‘on’ button suddenly cause a distraction from any type of near-future activity, but it can also have lasting effects on your health.

The first two years of a child’s life is considered a critical time for brain development. Many studies link excessive TV viewing at this age with later attention problems. Electronic media can distract from exploring, playing, and interacting with others.

The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study, a large survey of almost 12,000 Australian adults, found that for every hour of television viewed by a person over the age of 25, their lifespan is reduced by 22 minutes. In comparison, smoking one cigarette is said to reduce life expectancy by about 11 minutes.

There is an abundant amount of evidence out there that links the sedentary habit of tv watching to obesity as well as evidence that proves that simply cutting back on even a little bit of tv time has been helpful in weight control.

If that’s not incentive for the big guy on the couch, let’s at least do it for the little guys. A Harvard study released in February of this year found that men who watch 20 or more hours of television a week had a 44 percent reduction in sperm than those who did not clock any television time. It was also found that men who work out at least fifteen hours per week have 73 percent higher sperm counts than those who logged less than 5 hours a week.

There’s no harm in restricticting your telly time to two hours a day…literally. Studies have shown that even those who watch two straight hours of television have significantly lower risks associated with it than those who watched four straight hours. In an analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers combined data from eight different studies and found that for every additional two hours spent glued to the tube, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases by 20% and the risk of heart disease increases by 15%. According to an American Journal of Public Health study, an adult who watches three hours of TV a day is far more likely to be obese than an adult who watches less than one hour. The Nurses’ Health Study, following more than 50,000 middle-age women for six years, found that for every two hours the women spent watching television each day, they had a 23 percent higher risk of becoming obese and a 14 percent higher risk of developing diabetes. “The most striking feature of prolonged sitting is the absence of skeletal muscle contractions, particularly in the very large muscles of the lower limbs,” says David W. Dunstan, a professor at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia. “When muscles don’t contract, they require less fuel, and the surplus, in the form of blood sugar, accumulates in the bloodstream, contributing to diabetes risk and other health concerns”.

So, go ahead and watch your favorite show, but keep in mind that a half-hour show can easily turn into a five-hour boob tube session.  If you refuse to nix it all together, try spending commercial time doing jumping jacks or push-ups.

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Fiber and Exercise

Fiber does all sorts of good things for the body, from preventing disease by cleaning out the GI tract to filling us up faster. But in relation to exercise, there is a better method to take when consuming fiber.

Let’s start off by defining fiber. Fiber is the polysaccharide found in plants that is not digested or absorbed in the small intestine. Overall, the daily intake of fiber should be between 25-35g for adults. However, the daily intake of fiber in the United States is about half that amount. Most nutrition experts agree that consuming too much fiber can result in discomfort and a great change in digestion, but overall is beneficial and rarely has adverse effects.

Before we get in to how fiber and exercise work together, it is important to know the two different kinds of fiber that do very different things. There is insoluble fiber and soluble fiber, referring to its solubility in water. Insoluble fiber stays relatively unchanged when coming in contact with fluids. Soluble fiber will dissolve or enlarge in water. This type of fiber binds to fat and cholesterol in the intestinal tract and delays transit time through the stomach and intestines. It is soluble fiber that helps promote satiety to help you feel full longer. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, does not readily dissolve in water, making it easier to pass through the GI tract intact and quickly, increase in volume and weight as it goes through. This helps to stimulate sliding-like contractions in the colon, helping to alleviate constipation.

The important thing before working out is to fuel up for the energy needed for the activity. Insoluble fiber from whole wheat sources helps give us the healthy carbohydrates our body needs, as well as the energy it needs. This fiber will also help alleviate digestive discomfort and bloat. Soluble fiber is better to take post workout, being that it slows the release of glucose into the system and helps prevent fat storage. When you are consuming soluble fiber post workout, be sure to get it in your diet within an hour of exercising. But when you just finished an extensive workout, a full, hearty meal may not be the best choice. Fiber-rich snacks would be a better grab within that first hour. A medium size apple with peanut butter or some flax and fruit oatmeal will help give you a few grams of soluble fiber along with protein.

Good sources of insoluble fiber include whole grains, bran, nuts, soy, and vegetables. Opt for sources of whole grain instead of refined flour.
Soluble fiber is found in most fruits, beans, flax, and oats.  What’s important is that you spread your fiber intake out throughout the day instead of trying to get most of it in one meal. For example, you could shoot for roughly 8 grams at every meal and easily get a few grams in with every snack.


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