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Monday, July 27, 2009

The Top 'Super Foods'


One ounce of walnuts has 2.6 grams of alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid. Other nuts contain only 0.5 grams per ounce, and fortified juices have only 0.1 grams per cup. Walnuts are also packed with antioxidants and amino acids, and they're rich in fibre and protein.


Pucker up: Drinking lemon water first thing in the morning cleanses your liver, giving your body a mini detox by "gently keeping your bowel processes regular," says the Toronto-based naturopathic doctor Cara MacMullin. Squeeze half a lemon into lukewarm water and drink 20 minutes before breakfast. This citrus fruit also boasts vitamin C and potassium.

Green Tea

Consumed for ages in Asia, this brew contains polyphenols, which have strong antioxidant properties. Studies show that drinking green tea may lower your risk of developing certain cancers, and researchers are investigating its role in preventing liver disease, diabetes and high cholesterol. If that's not enough to sway you to sip, green tea may also help with weight loss. All that is enough to convince us that green tea deserves some of our coffee time.

Button mushrooms

These mushrooms may seem like innocuous salad filler, but they're actually gaining notoriety for their healthful properties. This unlikely superfood is a source of B vitamins, which help break down carbs into energy-boosting glucose and aid the normal functioning of the nervous system. They may also offer an immune boost: A recent study at Tufts University in Boston found that common mushrooms may ward off viruses and help fight cancer tumours in mice by increasing the immune system's killer-cell activity. But the best part is that they're high in umami, a savoury flavour that's also abundant in fattening food. When you're craving French fries, cook up some mushrooms instead and see if that doesn't satisfy you.


It doesn't get any juicier - or healthier - than a summerfresh tomato. The red ones are packed with the most lycopene, a fat-soluble antioxidant that may lower your risk of heart disease and cancers of the cervix, breast, bladder, skin and lungs. Add them to omelettes and salads, or chop them up to make a fiery salsa for weekend entertaining.


This curlier cousin of cabbage and broccoli is impressively high in beta carotene and vitamins A and C, not to mention sulforaphane, a compound that researchers suggest can prevent cancer by helping the body eliminate carcinogens. (Mom was right: We shouldn't leave the table before eating our greens.) Try it roasted or steamed with salt and garlic.

Dark Chocolate

Long the cure for a broken heart, dark chocolate may actually help prevent heart disease. New research has found that eating even a small amount every day reduces inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease.

Researchers credit dark chocolate's antioxidant flavonoids. "The higher the cocoa content, the better, says the Toronto-based dietitian Susan Fyshe.


Raspberries, blueberries and strawberries: Take your pick. They're all full of disease-fighting phytochemicals, which can help prevent certain types of cancer. Buy extras - organic is best, because non-organic berries are heavily sprayed with pesticides - and freeze them: Berries frozen at peak ripeness have higher nutritional value than the ones shipped north in the winter.


Make your life sweeter with peppers. Nearly all peppers start out green, ripening on the vine to become red, orange or yellow, depending on the variety. It picked early, peppers will stay green, losing out on some of the nutritional power of their more colourful cousins. A green pepper has more vitamin C than an orange and more than 100 percent of our recommended daily intake. Red and yellow peppers have twice as much vitamin C as that. And red peppers have eight times as much beta carotene as green ones. Grill, stir-fry or dip some for a satisfying snack.


This may be the sweetest thing you hear all winter: A research team at Pennsylvania State University has found that buckwheat honey given to children ages two to 18 before bed was more likely to relieve their coughs and help them sleep than dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant. You'll rest easier knowing that honey is a safe alternative to cough syrups, which Health Canada warns could affect your child's health. (Honey is not safe for children under age one.) Try it for your own coughs, too. Who needs a spoonful of sugar when honey's the remedy of choice?


Want some seasoned advice? Add a quarter of a teaspoon of ground cinnamon to your food to help lower triglyceride and "bad' LDL cholesterol and reduce blood-sugar levels, an especially good result for those with type 2 diabetes. Sprinkle the sweet and spicy condiment into tea or coffee, into cereal and oatmeal or on apple slices for a midday snack.


These buttery fruits contain monounsaturated fats (a good fat) and vitamin E: two ingredients that help keep your skin nourished. But the best part may be that the fat in avocados helps your body absorb carotenoids, such as lycopene and beta carotene, from other foods, which may lower your cancer risk. Pass the guacamole!


Eggnog, pumpkin pie, Grandma's creamed spinach - these festive treats all contain an ingrethent that's good for you during pig-out season: nutmeg. According to Sherry Chen, a Toronto based naturopathic doctor, the spice, traditionally used in Chinese medicine to treat gastrointestinal disorders, helps relax muscles and remove gas from the digestive tract, soothing poor circulation, bloating and diarrhea. If this sounds like your usual holiday hangover, you may want to go easy on the turkey and save room for dishes laced with this savoury spice.

First published in's July 2009 issue.
© Rogers Publishing Ltd.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Injury Prevention

Injuries - Injury Prevention

Like most athletes, you undoubtedly want to lower your chances of incurring an injury while participating in your favourite sport. Injuries decrease the amount of time you can spend in leisure activities, lower your fitness, downgrade competitive performance, and can lead to long term health problems such as arthritis.

There are some general rules for injury avoidance which apply to all sports. Sports scientists suggest that injury rates could be reduced by 25% if athletes took appropriate preventative action.

Common Misconceptions

Coaches and athletes believe that males have higher injury rates than females. Male and female athletes have about the same injury rate per hour of training. Among runners it is considered that training speed is the cause of injuries (Speed Kills) but research indicates that there is no link between speed and injury risk.

Do Not Overdo It

The amount of training you you carry out plays a key role in determining your real injury risk Studies have shown that your best direct injury predictor may be the amount of training you completed last month. Fatigued muscles do a poor job of protecting their associated connective tissues, increasing the risk of damage to bone, cartilage, tendons and ligaments. If you are a runner, the link between training quantity and injury means that the total mileage is an excellent indicator of your injury risk. The more miles you accrue per week, the higher the chances of injury. One recent investigation found a marked upswing in injury risk above 40 miles of running per week.

The Two Best Predictors of Injury

If you have been injured before you are much more likely to get hurt than an athlete who has been injury free. Regular exercises has a way of uncovering the weak areas of the body. If you have knees that are put under heavy stress, because of your unique biomechanics during exercises, your knees are likely to hurt when you engage in your sport for a prolonged time. After recovery you re-establish your desired training load without modification to your biomechanics then your knees are likely to be injured again.

The second predictor of injury is probably the number of consecutive days of training you carry out each week. Scientific studies strongly suggest that reducing the number of consecutive days of training can lower the risk of injury Recovery time reduces injury rates by giving muscles and connective tissues an opportunity to restore and repair themselves between work-outs.

Psychological Factors

Some studies have shown that athletes who are aggressive, tense, and compulsive have a higher risk of injury than their relaxed peers. Tension may make muscles and tendons taughter, increasing the risk that they will be harmed during work-outs.

Weak Muscles

Many injuries are caused by weak muscles which simply are not ready to handle the specific demands of your sport. This is why people who start a running programme for the first time often do well for a few weeks but then, as they add the mileage on, suddenly develop foot or ankle problems, hamstring soreness or perhaps lower back pain. Their bodies simply are not strong enough to cope with the demands of the increased training load. For this reason, it is always wise to couple resistance training with regular training.

Make It Specific

Resistance training can fortify muscles and make them less susceptible to damage, especially if the strength building exercises involve movements that are similar to those associated with the sport. Time should be devoted to developing the muscle groups, strength training, appropriate to the demands of your sport. If you are a thrower then lots of time should be spent developing muscles at the front of the shoulder which increases the force with which you can throw, but you must also work systematically on the muscles at the back of the shoulder which control and stabilize the shoulder joint.

Injury Prevention Tips
Avoid training when you are tired
Increase your consumption of carbohydrate during periods of heavy training
Increase in training should be matched with increases in resting
Any increase in training load should be preceded by an increase in strengthening
Treat even seemingly minor injuries very carefully to prevent them becoming a big problem
If you experience pain when training STOP your training session immediately
Never train hard if you are stiff from the previous effort
Introduce new activities very gradually
Allow lots of time for warming up and cooling off
Check over training and competition courses beforehand
Train on different surfaces, using the right footwear
Shower and change immediately after the cool down
Aim for maximum comfort when travelling
Stay away from infectious areas when training or competing very hard
Be extremely fussy about hygiene in hot weather
Monitor daily for signs of fatigue, if in doubt ease off.


Coaching Focus - No 34 page 3 Peak Performance - February 1994 Peak Performance - Issue 41, 46, 47, 50, 52, 55 and 56 Peak Performance - Issue 65, 66, 71, 84 and 88 Peak Performance - Issue 95, 97, 98 Peak Performance - Issue 99 page 1 & 9 Peak Performance - Issue102, 104