Beetroot juice supplements may help certain heart failure patients

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Beetroot juice supplements may help certain heart failure patients by enhancing their exercise capacity, according to a study. Exercise capacity is a key factor linked to these patients’ quality of life and even survival. The study examined the impact of dietary nitrate in the form of beetroot juice supplements on the exercise capacity of eight heart failure patients with reduced ejection fraction, a condition in which the heart muscle doesn’t contract effectively and can’t get enough oxygen-rich blood to the body. Tens of millions of people suffer from heart failure. In about half of all such people, the ejection fraction of the heart is reduced. Because of their condition, these patients exhibit labored breathing, have diminished peak oxygen uptake and use more energy while exercising than would otherwise be the case.

Researchers found that the beetroot supplement resulted in significant increases in exercise duration, peak power and peak oxygen uptake while exercising. Those improvements were not accompanied by any changes in the breathing responses of the patients, and there was no change in their exercise efficiency, a measure of how much external work a person gets for a certain input of energy.

“Abnormalities in aerobic exercise responses play a major role in the disability, loss of independence and reduced quality of life that accompany heart failure,” said Andrew Coggan, an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology in the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management at IUPUI and one of the researchers who conducted the study.

“Perhaps more importantly, elevations in ventilatory demand and decreases in peak oxygen uptake are highly predictive of mortality in patients with heart failure.”

A second important aspect of the study is there were no untoward side effects from the dietary nitrate, Coggan said: “In this case, lack of any significant changes is good news.”

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Add antioxidants to your protein shake to recover faster

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Tearing up a new workout routine guarantees you’ll be sore tomorrow. But add a few antioxidants to your post-workout drink and you may be back in the gym faster, according to a new study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

When Skidmore College researchers gave 60 guys different recovery drinks after strength-training sessions, those who downed a mix of whey protein plus an antioxidant-rich blend reported less muscle soreness and more muscle function 24 hours later compared to guys who drank just a protein shake or a sugar-water carb drink.

How does the supercharged shake help reduce aches? When you lift weights, the micro-damage you’ve incurred on your muscles sets off a chain reaction including a cascade of inflammation, which helps clear out the biological debris and repair the tissue. Certain antioxidants in berries (called anthocyanins) blunt this inflammatory cascade, and because pain is a result of the inflammation, you’re blessed with less muscle soreness and therefore better muscle function, allowing you to get back into the gym faster, explains lead study author Paul Arciero, Ph.D., director of Skidmore College’s Human Nutrition and Metabolism Laboratory.

In the study, Arciero’s team had the guys focus on eccentric workouts to make their muscles as sore as possible. Even if you don’t do eccentric workouts, Arciero says, the antioxidant aid will probably help reduce the aches that come after any high-intensity, exhausting workout—as long as the workout is difficult enough to cause muscle damage.

Plus, previous research suggests the same supp may help your performance: When trained athletes took 100mg of anthocyanin pills daily for six weeks, their VO2 max improved (though the supplement had no effect on body fat, lean mass, or water retention), according to a 2014 study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Even then, it’s still unclear how long one should take antioxidants—they might hinder long-term muscle adaptation by reducing the inflammatory “cascade”—but Arciero says small antioxidant doses for short periods of time don’t affect your ability to rebuild muscle.

Our recommendation: Add the nutrients to your muscle-building meal plan the week you start a new routine, since that’s when you’ll be the most sore.

In the study, researchers added an anthocyanin-rich powder, OptiBerry, into typical whey protein shakes. (The supplement company had no involvement in the research, which is definitely a mark in the study’s favor.) The study participants said the blend didn’t taste any better or worse than pure protein, so it’s actually drinkable (which is kinda crucial here). read more…

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Is Bad #Nutrition Research Making Us Fat and Sick?

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It seems that nearly every week, a new study on nutrition comes out that contradicts the latest health trend. Eggs are nutritional miracles; eggs are cholesterol-laden artery constrictors. Fat is the number one weight-loss enemy; fat is the key to weight loss.

Why is nutrition advice so contradictory and ever-changing? In a word, research. In theory, good science and research is driven by hypotheses, ideas, and concepts that need to be proven or disproven. It should be simple. But in nutritional science, that is rarely the case.

Here are some reasons why research on nutrition can go so far awry, and how to know what information to trust.

Not All Studies Are Created Equal

The quality of a study is influenced by many factors. Here are some of the big ones:

Good-quality research can be hard to apply to nutrition questions. Unfortunately, the most reliable research methods are difficult to apply to many questions about what constitutes healthy eating.

Randomized controlled trials are considered the most accurate way to gather evidence in medicine. These involve groups of participants who are selected randomly and then divided into two groups: the test group and the placebo (control) group. The idea is that since the participants were randomly selected, any difference in the results will be because of the treatment.

Problems applying information from animal research to human health are inevitable.

However, many such studies are done over a period of only weeks or months, meaning they don’t reflect real life or how a particular dietary choice might impact the body over decades. There will always be a gap when research relies on short-term studies for answers on chronic, long-term issues.

It’s also not practical, and possibly unethical, to do the types of nutrition studies that would lead to the most accurate results—for example, locking people up and observing every meal they eat for 25 years, sequestering newborns for testing, or repeatedly feeding subjects unhealthy food to see how their bodies react. read more…

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