I’m not sure where Quinoa falls on the dietary good-evil spectrum these days. Many value it for its high protein and mineral content. It can be a staple food for the health-minded vegetarian. On the other side of the spectrum, Quinoa has been on the do-not-eat list for followers of the Paleo diet because advocates consider it to be a grain. Paleo dieters have also been concerned that Quinoa contains saponins. Some have proposed that saponins may damage the intestines. However saponins are beneficial anti-oxidants and some are health-protective. For a more general discussion of Quinoa and why it should be an excellent addition to the paleo diet click here.
Quinoa is high in protein, flavonoids and phytoecdysteroids
Analysis of quinoa extract shows that quinoa contains:
2.6% flavonoid glycosides
1% phytoecdysteroids (this is very high compared to other plants)
Protein, as we all know, is important for building strength and muscle mass. Protein is also important in preserving muscle mass and functionality in older people. Protein intake may be important to long-term health. Its not just an issue for athletes and body-builders. Flavonoid glycosides are health protective anti-oxidants. Quinoa contains high amounts of phytoecdysteroids. These are thought to be part of a plants phytoecdysteroids. However, they may be good for people. There are many different phytoecdysteroids. The dominant phytoecdysteroid in quinoa is 20HE.
Beneficial effects of phytoecdysteroids
There have been a number of studies showing different positive effects of phytoecdysteroids or of qunoia extract.
Quinoa extract lowered blood glucose in obese, hyperglycemic mice
Phytoecdysteroids increased protein synthesis in animals with and without exercise
20HE (the predominant phytoecdysteroid in quinoa) has anabolic-like properties that promote protein synthesis
20HE Increased muscle fiber size
Phytoecdysteroids Inhibited tumor growth
Quinoa extract increased metabolic rate and may be an anti-obesogen
How phytoecdysteroids work is not completely understood. They do not seem to act in the same way as anabolic steroids. So far, phytoecdysteroids show very low toxicity in mammals but limited (if any) testing has been done in humans.
Dinan L (2009). The Karlson Lecture. Phytoecdysteroids: what use are they? Archives of insect biochemistry and physiology, 72 (3), 126-41 PMID: 19771554
Báthori M, Tóth N, Hunyadi A, Márki A, & Zádor E (2008). Phytoecdysteroids and anabolic-androgenic steroids–structure and effects on humans. Current medicinal chemistry, 15 (1), 75-91 PMID: 18220764
Foucault AS, Even P, Lafont R, Dioh W, Veillet S, Tomé D, Huneau JF, Hermier D, & Quignard-Boulangé A (2014). Quinoa extract enriched in 20-hydroxyecdysone affects energy homeostasis and intestinal fat absorption in mice fed a high-fat diet. Physiology & behavior, 128, 226-31 PMID: 24534167
Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become progressively thin, brittle and frail. Most of us are probably well aware that osteoporosis can be a debilitating or even crippling. Exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise, builds bone and protects against osteoporosis and frailty later in life. Unfortunately, only bone under stress seems to benefit. For example, runners, who carry their own body weight, tend to have stronger leg bones than cyclists.
Osteoporosis and teeth: keeping teeth strong
Fewer may be aware that osteoporosis can affect the condition of our teeth too. Osteoporosis can cause thinning of the bone material anchoring teeth. Keeping teeth strong may help prevent tooth loss and other dental problems.
Can exercise help in keeping teeth strong and health?
There is some evidence that exercise can improve or protect dental health. The only study found in a literature search of Web Of Knowledge saw less tooth loss among older Japanese men who exercised daily (Yoshida et al. 2001.) This doesn’t quite tell us enough, because of other variables that are also associated with more or less tooth loss such as hygiene, frequency of professional care, dietary habits and smoking. The study did not look at any exercise that might specifically target facial bone or jaw muscles. Few forms of exercise will target the bones or muscles that support our teeth (although some do manage to make an exception here. Look around and check facial expressions during heavy lifts). Still, the study indicates that exercise may help protect against tooth loss or weakness. It is important that jaw and facial bones stay healthy. If they degrade they will not be able to hold onto your teeth. Unfortunately, there has been very little research on exercise and tooth loss.
Is chewing gum good exercise for the bones supporting teeth?
Chewing gum may strengthen jaw bones and could protect chewers from tooth loss or improve the outcome of periodontal disease by providing exercise. Little work has been done in this area. The only chewing gum-specific study I could find was by a research team in Russia who studied the effect of chewing gum on bone density in 93 periodontal patients (Loginova et al. 2006.) Bone density in these patients increased on the active chewing side. For optimal effect make sure to switch your gum from right to left periodically. Goes for the rest of your training too. The full paper is available in Russian.Yoshida Y, Hatanaka Y, Imaki M, Ogawa Y, Miyatani S, & Tanada S (2001). Epidemiological study on improving the QOL and oral conditions of the aged–Part 2: Relationship between tooth loss and lifestyle factors for adults men. Journal of physiological anthropology and applied human science, 20 (6), 369-73 PMID: 11840690Loginova NK, Veĭsgeĭm LD, & Churina SV (2006). [Influence of course use of chewing gum on alveolar bone density]. Stomatologiia, 85 (2), 22-4 PMID: 16710273
So, I’ve been thinking a lot about body image and body acceptance for a while now. It is a tricky thing, figuring out how to get rid of conflicting and sometimes crazy notions of what I “should” look like and come to terms with both reality and how my brain works.
You’d think, after three and a half years of CrossFit, after five or so years of really eating well, after losing about seventy pounds, I’d look like those ab-muscled, sleek women in those fitspo images.
Instead, I look like this:
And I am beginning to finally be okay with it.
I have begun to accept that after years of obesity, producing three kids, and now heading toward menopause (hopefully not for a while yet, but I’m 43 so it’s on the horizon), and also just not having a terribly genetic propensity toward leanness in the first place (definitely an endomorph type), abs just maybe aren’t in the cards. Actually, I have lots of abs, but they (and many other muscles) are “camouflaged.” 🙂
But still, I worry. I worry what people think when they hear I’ve been CrossFitting for so long, because I don’t fit the image. I worry they think I am exaggerating or even flat-out lying when I say that I usually eat really cleanly and am extremely active. I worry nobody will ever want me to coach them because I carry too much body fat. (Too much by whose standards?)
I get irritated at the advice to “just” eat paleo or more carbs or fewer carbs or protein or avoid this or take that supplement. Eat dairy; avoid dairy. Red wine’s fine; avoid all the alcohol. Eat nuts; OMG don’t even. Honey, I’ve tried it all, and still haven’t figured out my ideal combination yet. That’s okay. I’ll keep trying. And yes, I’ve got hypothyroidism and a busy life and an allergy to grocery shopping regularly, so those factors don’t help either. Those aren’t excuses–they are facts about my life right now, things I need to work around. (Context: just like assholes, everyone’s got one.)
I get truly pissed off when I hear people disparage “fatties” for going to the gym or having the nerve to run in a 5K race (overheard a guy complaining about all the fatties once during a race, and for all I know, he was talking about me). You can’t tell what a person can do just by looking at them. Trust me. I’ve been overtaken in 5K races by enough pregnant women and other folks who are probably twenty years older than me. You can’t tell just by looking.
I hate that I really considered not undertaking my new obsession, kettlebell sport (which is so awesome OMG, and you’re going to be hearing a lot about this new sport in the coming years as it becomes more popular, which it surely will, in part because I am writing about it here on my world famous blog)…. Anyway, I almost didn’t even try it because it is a weight-classed sport. It took some nerve to do my first competition, I tell you, but it all worked out fine in the end. Didn’t even faze me in my second competition.
But enough of what I hate and worry about. Here is what I do and here is what I am.
I recently pulled a 265 pound deadlift. Not too shabby.
I can do pull ups, and toes-to-bar, and handstands, and all kinds of badass moves.
I achieved Rank 1 in Kettlebell Sport Long Cycle. I can snatch a 20kg kettlebell and jerk a 24kg bell. (Heh. I said snatch. And jerk. And yes, I’m still 12 in my head and no, I still haven’t stopped laughing at those terms, despite all this time in CF).
I finished my third CrossFit Open and did not suck at all the things. I can do 84 thrusters and 84 bar-facing burpees and not die.
I also do not suck at yoga, being pretty strong and naturally flexible. Speaking of awesome yoga people, this is a great post I recently discovered, and is the inspiration for the title of this post. I second all the things she says.
I generally feel awesome, and last time I had all the basic bloodwork done, the results were in the “pretty much fucking awesome” category. My resting heart rate is usually around 55-60 beats per minute (which that dude complaining about all the fatties in the race would surely never believe).
I can teach people how to move well and make it fun and interesting and motivate them to keep going. I have people, mostly women, ask me for ideas regularly about moving well and getting back on the exercise horse (so to speak, I don’t know nothing ’bout horses). I think I am sought out because they know I know about the struggle to keep doing it, to stay motivated, to keep trying your hardest even though there will not be size zero dresses in the future. How we all know size zero dresses aren’t and shouldn’t be the goal, but that it’s hard to get that idea out of one’s head. How it takes effort to renew your courage and keep walking into the gym when you still are not lean after all this time, even though you know that the only person really even worried about that part is you, that nobody else at the gym cares about that even a little. And how challenging it is, this ever-lasting puzzle, worse than that 2048 game, to figure out how to keep your focus where it needs to be (health and fitness and mobility and strength) and not body fat percentage, and yet try to find a place where it is okay to want to improve one’s appearance.
So those are some things I’ve been wanting to say for a while. And for the record, here is what a real CrossFitter looks like:
Also: KETTLEBELL SPORT. You heard it here first, people (well, many of you). ALL the cool kids will be doing this soon. It’s sweeping the nation. So look out!
Edited to add: Note on the title of the post: Just to get it out of the way…I’m not saying that those folks with all the abs don’t look awesome, because of course they do! This post is just to show what A (one, singular) real-life person who does CF and eats cleanly looks like. A data point, an example among many others, understanding that there is a certain amount of variance within the population. So…not intended to be THE one and only example, etc. etc. etc. I’m not into fat-shaming OR fit-shaming.
Depression may be caused by poor Serotonin handling
Depression stinks. It hurts. And it hurts others too. Taking care of yourself, and your moods, is important. A positive outlook and sense of optimism can carry you a long way. And it will help you bring along those you care about. Its easy to get frustrated with someone who is depressed. “why don’t they snap out of it?” This article reports on some very interesting research on depression and female hormones. It is especially interesting for women whose hormones are shifting. (in peri-menopause or menopause.)
First, a little background:
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter
Serotonin allows neurons to communicate with each other. And sometimes help produce emotions.
Depression in some people may be caused by too little serotonin
Selective Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) work by keeping serotonin active and keeping nerves functioning well.
Prozac, Zoloft, and Citalopram are examples of SSRIs.
There are differences in Serotonin Receptors
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers. They travel from one neuron to another by docking at a receptor. The receptor is a molecule that is designed especially for its transmitter. Serotonin needs a serotonin receptor if it is going to work. The shape of the receptor is very important. But not every person has the same receptor shape. There are some people whose receptors don’t seem to fit as well. And they are more likely to suffer from depression. And anxiety.
Estrogen and Progesterone may be needed for SSRIs to be effective
If you are post-menopausal or hovering around that neighborhood you may not respond well to SSRIs. Especially if you have the short version of the serotonin receptor gene. This is one reason why hormone replacement therapy might make some women less depressed.
Michopoulos V, Berga SL, & Wilson ME (2011). Estradiol and progesterone modify the effects of the serotonin reuptake transporter polymorphism on serotonergic responsivity to citalopram. Experimental and clinical psychopharmacology, 19 (6), 401-8 PMID: 21843009
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