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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Why You Must Soak Beans Before Cooking

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

I went on a bean soaking binge this past weekend and the amount of scum that came to the top of the large pot of soaking kidney beans was so huge, I thought it deserved its own blog post.
Soaking beans for many hours before cooking them produces a lot of scum which is course, is rinsed and drained away when the soaking is complete.
What is all that scum anyway?  Anti-nutrients, that’s what!  And those anti-nutrients such as phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors are going to be in your gut causing you gas, heartburn, reflux and whatever other digestive ills beset you when you eat something that isn’t particularly digestible unless you soak your beans before cooking them.  Traditional cultures took great care to prepare their legumes with a long soak before cooking to enhance digestibility and nutrient absorption.
I love Mexican food but really try to avoid Mexican restaurants for this reason .. they don’t soak their beans before cooking them!   After a meal at a Mexican restaurant, I will typically feel very bloated where eating the same meal prepared at home where I soaked the beans properly before cooking results in no digestive upset whatsoever.

Take the Soaked Beans Challenge!

If you think unsoaked beans don’t cause you any trouble .. take this challenge. Soak beans next time before cooking and notice the difference in your stomach after eating.  You may think that the unsoaked beans don’t cause you any trouble, but you just may find that soaked beans are infinitely more filling and that you eat less and enjoy the meal more as a result!
Traditional peoples were very wise in the preparation of their foods.  They not only selected nutritious foods but they prepared them for maximum digestibility and nutrition.   What good is eating nutritious legumes if the body is so whacked by the anti-nutrients that it can’t very easily extract and digest the nutrition?
So, the next time you make your beans, make sure you soak them first!  I soak large pots of various types of beans every month or so and then cook them – freezing for easy, quick meals when beans are required like homemade chili.

How To Soak Beans Properly

If you’ve never soaked beans before, it’s so easy.  Simply take 2 cups of your favorite beans (sources), put them in a pot and cover with filtered water.  Stir in 2 TBL liquid whey, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice, cover and let sit on the counter for 12-24 hours.
I always soak beans for the full 24 hours and sometimes even 36 hours if I get busy and just can’t get to it right when 24 hours is up.
After soaking, drain and rinse the beans until all the scum is washed away.   Fill the pot with fresh filtered water, bring to a boil, and skim away any additional foam that may come to the top at the start of the boil.   Turn down the heat to a simmer, add 4 crushed garlic cloves, and cook until the beans are soft (about 4 hours).
Drain beans and add to your favorite dish or let cool and freeze in large freezer bags for quick meals at a later date!
Bye bye Bean-o!  You won’t be needing it or any other over the counter gas med again after learning to soak beans before cooking!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

10 ways to get a beach body in a month

Planning a holiday but fearful about your figure? Get into shape with these tips from leading personal trainer Graeme Hilditch.
1. Reduce your calorie intake
‘Let’s face it, we all eat too much and often we imbibe too much of the wrong foods. You could easily lose 5-7lbs in a month by simply reducing your calories.’
2. Press-ups
‘Press-ups might be old school, but they are great at toning the upper body and core. Aim to do 30-50 a day for a month and you’ll look nice for the beach.’
3. Run
‘The best exercise to burn calories is running. If you can fit in a 30-45 min run 3-4 times a week you could burn up to 10,000 calories in the month leading up to your holiday.’
4. Limit alcohol
‘A bottle of wine contains just over 600 calories and a pint of beer contains just over 150 calories. Cutting them out for a month before you go on holiday can lead to significant weight loss.’
5. Suck in your stomach
‘By simply sucking in your belly button regularly throughout the day, you can tone the deep stomach muscles which help to flatten your stomach.’
6. Jump squats
Squatting low then bursting up into a jump is a fantastic exercise to burn calories and tone your legs and bottom. For real results, do this exercise for 60 seconds and then follow it with 60 seconds of sit-ups. Repeat five times.’
7. Reduce carbs
We all eat too much carbohydrate. If you love your spuds/pasta/rice/toast, try halving the amount of carbs you eat at every meal or snack.’
8. Drink water
‘Did you know the body often confuses thirst for hunger? Subsequently, drinking plenty of water can quench your hunger and therefore stop you eating as much.’
9. Take the stairs
‘Stairs are great at toning the legs and the bottom, so for the next month make sure you take the stairs whenever you can. If time permits, go up and down them two or three times to make the most of your leg and glute toning opportunity.’
10. Sit-ups
‘I mentioned sit-ups above and it’s time to mention them again. Good old-fashioned sit-ups can help tone your abs if you’re lucky enough to carry very little abdominal fat. Aim to do 50 a day in the run up to your holiday and you’ll look better than Homer Simpson at the end of this video.’

Monday, 28 April 2014

Aerobic exercise can help suppress hunger, study says

by: Sandeep Godiyal

(NaturalNews) In a new study, researchers have made the conclusion that aerobic exercise such as rope jumping, which involves the body's vertical movements, can suppress appetite and cravings for fatty food. Researchers, who published their report in the journal Appetite, sought to find out if exercises that involve up and down bodyweight movements, which lead to "gut disturbance," actually affect hormones such as ghrelin, which our body releases when we are hungry. Moreover, the study compared the level of hunger in men who did rope-skipping to those who did cycling.

Previous studies support a similar claim

Prior to this new study, a number of other studies suggest that running curbs hunger more than cycling and that jumping rope can suppress hunger more than running. Since there is no horizontal movement in jumping rope, it is more of a weight bearing exercise compared to running.

According to researchers, jumping rope leads to more gut disturbance and could stimulate greater appetite suppression.

Comparing vertical and horizontal movement aerobic exercises

To test their idea, researchers tested 15 healthy men who had the average age of 24 years. On non-consecutive days, the men were made to jump rope for 30 minutes, exercise on a stationary bike or rest.

At a number of points during and after their work out, the researchers measured the men's level of appetite hormones. Likewise, researchers also asked the men how hungry they were as well as how much they craved sweet, salty, sour and fatty foods.

The initial results showed that those who skipped rope and cycled in stationary bikes felt less hungry than those men who had controlled resting sessions. They even felt less hungry 15 minutes after their exercise session.

But 25 minutes into their exercise, those who skipped rope felt less hungry than those who were cycling. Likewise, researchers found out that those who exercised had less craving for fatty foods, and this observation was more obvious for those who jumped rope. Furthermore, those who did cycling felt hungrier after their cycling session than when they did rope-skipping sessions.

With such results, the researchers concluded that cycling, and not skipping rope, causes hunger that eventually makes those who skipped rope compensate for the energy they burned through eating.

However, the study determined that there was no clear difference in the level of gut hormones between those who did cycling and skipping rope. As such, there might be another mechanism or explanation why the men who jumped rope felt less hungry than when they exercised on a stationary bike.

In totality, the researchers concluded that aerobic exercise, especially rope-skipping, could regulate a person's cravings for fatty foods. Doing such exercises may improve the dietary behavior of adults, especially when it comes to foods rich in fat.

Sources for this article include:

Saturday, 26 April 2014

All About Your Metabolic Energy Systems

Most of us understand our bodies about as well as we understand our cars. We know we’re supposed to take them out for a spin once in a while, and keep them well fueled. But when it comes to grasping precisely how that fuel gets converted into motion — well, we’re not entirely sure.
So let’s take a look under the hood, shall we? Like a hybrid engine, your body has several ways of turning the stuff youeat into the stuff you do. All of these metabolic energy systems are switched on during physical activity, but each plays a different role depending on available energy and the specific demands of the task. Each burns a particular type of fuel at a particular rate — thereby affecting fat loss and muscle gain in a particular way.
  • The adenosine triphosphate–creatine phosphate (ATP-CP) system, or phosphagen system,supports very brief, high-intensity activities like a single-effort vertical jump.
  • The glycolytic system provides energy for activities of slightly longer duration and lower intensity like strength training.
  • The oxidative system supports long-duration, lower-intensity activities like walking or distance running.
In recent years, exercise physiologists have learned how to target each system with specialized training to better prepare individuals for a specific event or sport.

First Responder: The ATP-CP Energy System

Whether you’re running a 40-meter dash, jumping up to answer the phone, or catching a child falling off the monkey bars, the adenosine triphosphate–creatine phosphate (ATP-CP) system is first to respond. Among your three energy systems, it’s the one most prepared for emergencies. It kicks in whenever the oxidative system, your body’s normal method for providing energy, isn’t up to the demands you’re placing on it.
All three of your energy systems ultimately run on ATP: It’s the fuel source for all your physical functions, from eating to breathing to running hill sprints. Your glycolytic and oxidative systems (which we’ll cover shortly) make most of this ATP to order, cobbling it together from the food you eat and the air you breathe as need arises.
But a small quantity of ATP is socked away in your muscles for when you need to expend a short burst of energy in a hurry. Let’s say you’re doing a single barbell squat with close to max weight. As you power the weight up, the muscles of your hips, thighs and lower back immediately burn through their ATP stores. Once the ATP has done its job, it’s either further broken down or recycled (with the help of another substance, creatine phosphate, or CP), so it can provide more energy to your working muscles.
How fast does the ATP-CP system gear up? Blink and you’ll miss it. “Once you begin hard activity,” says Christopher Scott, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Exercise, Health and Sport Sciences at the University of Southern Maine and an expert in metabolism, “it takes just thousandths of a second for the phosphagen system to kick in.”
There’s a cost for this speed and efficiency, however: You can store only enough ATP and CP in your muscles for about six to 10 seconds of serious effort. Though training the ATP-CP pathway will improve your explosive speed and power (so you can jump higher, sprint faster and throw farther), it won’t increase your storehouses of ATP-CP — or give you the ability to operate at full throttle for longer than a few seconds. That’s why activities like javelin throwing, Olympic weightlifting, and the 100-meter dash are “one-and-done” endeavors, even at the elite level. Most trained athletes need three to five minutes of rest before their ATP is replenished and they can perform near the level of their previous effort.
The “highlight reel” moments in soccer, tennis, basketball, hockey and many other sports are powered in large part by ATP-CP. But it also comes strongly into play whenever you need to move quickly (as when you’re making a dash to catch an elevator or grabbing a vase before it topples off a counter).
“As we age, we lose a lot of our ability to exert strength quickly,” says Scott. “So doing some of this training is important simply for maintaining quality of life.”
ATP-CP training doesn’t typically burn a lot of fat or build a lot of muscle, but that doesn’t mean you should cut it out. For one thing, it can be a lot of fun; and since you’re using lower reps, it probably won’t make you particularly sore. Most important, ATP-CP training is the best way to build serious strength, speed and power.
How do you train the ATP-CP system? “Intermittent training,” says physical therapist Bill Hartman, CSCS, co-owner of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training. This means very brief periods (10 seconds or less) of high effort with lots of rest (two minutes or more) between activities.
Training Your ATP-CP System
Speed: Fast
Primary Fuel: Adenosine triphosphate and creatine phosphate, stored in your muscles
Sample Activities: Swinging a golf club, sprinting to first base, lifting a heavy weight
How to Train It: Heavy strength training, medicine-ball throws, jumps, short sprints, sports-specific drills
  • Three to eight sets
  • Brief, maximum-effort sets lasting eight to 15 seconds; one or two heavy reps in strength-training activities
  • Long rest between sets (up to five minutes); full recovery between efforts
Frequency: Up to three times a week
How fast does the ATP-CP system gear up?Blink and you’ll miss it.
ATP-CP athletes are fast, strong and explosive, specializing in brief, single-effort activities like swinging a golf club or baseball bat, Olympic weightlifting, high-jumping, and shot-putting. Athletes in field and team sports like soccer, lacrosse, tennis, martial arts, basketball and other activities also rely heavily on the ATP-CP system during the highest-effort moments of sprinting, serving, kicking or driving to the hoop.

Fast and Furious: The Glycolytic Energy System

As your ATP-CP system sputters out, your glycolytic system steps in and keeps you moving for about another minute or so before it, too, begins to run out of fuel.
Because glycolysis relies on energy converted from carbohydrate (glucose) into ATP, your glycolytic system is slightly less responsive than your ATP-CP system. But it can still provide as much as half the energy you need in the first few seconds of intense exercise. (See “An Energy Systems Timeline,” below.)
If you’ve ever done an all-out set of max pushups, or a 400-meter sprint, you’re familiar with what it feels like to exercise the glycolytic system at close to its maximum. In a word, it hurts.
Contrary to popular belief, the burning sensation you get when you exercise intensely is caused not by lactic acid (another fuel source) but by a buildup of hydrogen ions, a byproduct of glycolysis, which can inhibit muscle contraction, giving you “wobbly knees” after a minute or so of full-out running or cycling.
The more you train your glycolytic system, however, the better you’re able to buffer these ions and the faster you can recover between sets of medium-to-high-intensity exercise.
The discomfort that comes from glycolytic training is well worth it. Increasingly, fitness pros are recommending this type of training for people who want to gain muscle, lose fat and get the most out of their time at the gym.
“A 200-meter sprinter is a great example of an athlete whose training is mostly glycolytic,” says energy systems researcher and body-transformation expert Mike T. Nelson, MS, PhD candidate, founder of “It’s a nice compromise between strength and endurance work.”
One reason glycolytic training burns fat so effectively is that it creates a significant “metabolic disturbance,” Nelson explains. And recovering from it requires work from all three energy systems. In this way, glycolytic training improves not only the functioning of each individual system, but also your ability to transition smoothly
among them.
Nelson argues that such “metabolic flexibility” is a significant, though little-known, component of long-term health and fitness. “Diabetics and obese people can’t transition well between energy systems — they’re metabolically inflexible,” he says. “Smart training doesn’t just develop the three systems in isolation — it also develops your ability to transition from one fuel source to another so all three metabolic pathways work together effectively.”
The best way to train your glycolytic system is through repeated high-effort activity, with less-than-complete recovery between efforts: 20- to 30-second sprints on foot, in a pool or on a bike, with a minute of rest between them, or strength training in sets lasting 30 seconds to one minute.
Many field and team sports also train the glycolytic pathway.
Training Your Glycolytic System
Speed: Medium-fast
Primary Fuel: Carbohydrate
Sample Activities: Traditional strength training; 200- to 400-meter sprinting; 50-meter freestyle swimming
How to Train It: Medium-intensity strength training; interval training; running stadium stairs or hills; shaking “battling ropes”; jump-rope sprints; kettlebell workouts; swimming repeats
  • Two to four sets
  • High effort for sets lasting 20 to 40 seconds; eight to 12 reps in strength-training activities
  • Short rest between sets (two minutes or less); partial recovery between efforts
Frequency: Twice a week per muscle group or area of the body trained
If you’ve ever done a 400-meter sprint, you’re familiar with what it feels like to exercise the glycolytic system.In a word, it hurts.
Glycolytic athletes specialize in activities lasting 30 seconds to two minutes or so. They’re fast and seemingly tireless — though perhaps not quite as strong as the ATP-CP athlete, nor as enduring as the oxidative athlete — and they tend to be muscular and lean. This type of training is ideal for burning fat (in recovery) and building muscle mass. Strength training using sets of eight to 12 reps and sprinting 400 meters or less typify glycolytic training.

Long, Slow Burn: The Oxidative Energy System

The oxidative (or aerobic) system is your slow-burning furnace, always humming in the background, whether you’re fast asleep or running hard. It’s fueled largely on fat and glucose, and, of the three metabolic pathways that support exercise, it’s the only one that directly requires oxygen to function.
“We’re predominantly aerobic creatures,” says Scott. “We can go weeks without food, days without water, but if we’re deprived of oxygen for more than a few minutes, we’re dead.”
So although it’s last to kick in after you start to exercise, the oxidative system is the most important energy system of all. If it doesn’t work, neither do you.
Athletes in any long-distance endurance sport — cycling, running, triathlon — all need exceptional aerobic capacity, as do athletes in all continuous-action field and team sports, like basketball, lacrosse and soccer.
Fortunately, the aerobic system is very responsive to exercise. “Through training, you can increase the capacity of your aerobic metabolism up to 240 percent,” says Hartman. “And the better it works, the more effectively you burn fat in your workouts.”
Although the oxidative system is continuously active and produces loads of energy, the process of converting fat into usable energy can take a while. Once it gets started, though, it’s your body’s most reliable engine over long periods of time. In a 10-
second sprint, Hartman says, your
aerobic system is able to kick in only about 13 percent of the necessary energy; on an intense four-minute run, however, that figure rises to 80 percent.
Exercise physiologists used to believe that the best way to develop the oxidative system was through long, slow cardio exercise — an hour or more several times a week. Your aerobic system certainly responds well to this type of training, but recent research suggests that the oxidative system also works hard — very hard, in fact — to help you recover after a high-intensity anaerobic effort like a set of squats or a hill sprint.
Do a second, third and fourth set before you’ve fully recovered from the previous one, and the oxidative system ramps up its efforts even higher.
“A strength-training workout resembles a series of escalating waves of effort for the oxidative system,” says Nelson. That’s why you’re winded after high-intensity bouts of strength training and sprinting, even though the activities themselves are technically anaerobic. The oxidative system shifts into overdrive to replenish the depleted ATP-CP stores and clear out the glycolytic byproducts produced by your other two energy systems.
At the conclusion of an intense strength-training or interval-training workout, your oxidative system often continues to work overtime, sometimes for nearly two days. This is a phenomenon known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC, which can burn additional fat and calories long after the workout ends.
Scott and Nelson both concede that some of these processes remain theoretical. The actual effect of EPOC and the true energy demands of anaerobic activity can be hard to measure accurately. For the fitness enthusiast, though, the take-home lesson is that, unless you’re a competitive endurance athlete, lots of long, slow cardio is probably not the best way to exercise your aerobic system. Higher-intensity activities may be a more effective and efficient way to build your cardiovascular system — and to burn fat.
Exercise your oxidative system by jumping rope, training with light weights, or doing standard cardio exercises for periods of one to five minutes, resting one to five minutes between sets, for up to six sets.
If you’re serious about building your aerobic capacity, you can also do one to five high-effort bouts of 10 to 20 minutes long, resting five to 10 minutes between them.
Because low-intensity aerobic activity speeds recovery from the minor damage caused by other forms of exercise, perhaps the best use of oxidative training is as a restorative tool on your off-days.
Training Your Oxidative System
Speed: Slow to medium
Primary Fuel: Fat
Sample Activities: Jogging, slow swimming, cycling, walking, hiking, martial arts, continuous-action team sports (basketball, ultimate Frisbee, soccer)
How to Train It: Light circuit training; running five minutes or more; long-distance cycling; traditional cardio machines; long, slow swimming
  • Either three to six one- to five-minute medium-high efforts with one to five minutes rest between sets, or
  • One to three eight- to 20-minute medium efforts, resting four to 10 minutes between reps
Frequency: One to three times a week
Although it’s last to kick in, the oxidative system is the most important energy system of all.If it doesn’t work, neither do you.
Oxidative athletes are typically leaner and lighter than the other two athletic types. They can go on forever at a slow-to-medium pace, burning mostly fat — the ultimate high-efficiency, slow-burning fuel. Oxidative training is essential for endurance sports, but athletes in field sports shouldn’t neglect this kind of training. Done in moderation, oxidative training is also great for helping you recover from other, more intense forms of exercise.
Andrew Heffernan, CSCS, is a contributing editor at Experience Life. He blogs at


  • I will give a shot at answering your big questions below.
    I will preface this by saying this is NOT an easy topic and textbook and multiple courses are taught on this topic alone.
    “You say a 10 second sprint our aerobic oxidative system accounts for 13% of this energy? How? What happened to it being primarily CP and then glycolytic after that – we just jump to fat burning/”
    The catch is that ALL systems turn on at the SAME time, but each one can only keep up at a certain rate. Yes, that is PRIMARILY a CP event, but the aerobic system is also on, but contributes to a small degree.
    “And in an intense 4 min run it jumps to 80%? The only way that’s possible is if your definition of “intense” is well, not intense. If you’re truly intense and anaerobic then you’re still predominantly using sugars in the glycolytic pathway as well as the Krebs cycle – not oxidative phosphorylation – which is predominately fats as you note. No way is any intense 4 min run going to be 80% fat burning.”
    You are correct that the intensity level will vary quite a bit from one person to the next, but we also need to keep track of the TOTAL amount of energy used.
    “Training your oxidative system by training via an aerobic heart rate (which you never even mention, though you say this system is the most important), is the most efficient way for any person, not just endurance athletes. But you say unless you’re a competitive endurance athlete lots of long cardio is not the best way to build your aerobic system; but if you’re serious about building aerobic capacity you should do high-effort bouts – huh?”
    Of course you use the aerobic system for lower intensity work, but it also works after higher intensity events too; so by training higher intensity work first, you get to hit both systems instead of just one (more time efficient).
    “Sure you’ll increase aerobic somewhat during high intensity training but while you’re doing that you’re increasing stress hormones such as cortisol, and that’s more anaerobic than aerobic – so illness and injury will soon result.”
    I would disagree with that statement. Cortisol is REQUIRED for energy production. If you stop all cortisol production you will soon die, so it is not completely evil. Yes, you can run into issues if you are constantly pushing your cortisol sky high, but I view it as more of a mismatch between cortisol and movement. As cortisol goes up, your body is designed to MOVE. CHRONICALLY high cortisol levels without movement is bad.
    “And if that’s all you do you’ll never develop an optimum aerobic system. You can’t put a bunch of anaerobic exercises together over a prolonged period and call it aerobic – or oxidative. Just because the oxidative system improves with high intensity training doesn’t mean you’re optimally training it.”
    Optimal is a whole different world all together, but I feel that constant isolation of energy systems long term will not be as effective. Can you get better at endurance events by only training at a low HR and low % of VO2 max? Sure! That does not mean that higher intensity training is bad for long distance events.
    “That’s just as incorrect as saying you’re improving anaerobic glycolysis during a long trail run every time you jump over a knee-high log.”
    We also need to keep in mind how long each component is turned on. In the example above you are correct since the jumping over a log is a very very short duration event.
    I hope that helps out a bit!
    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)
  • This article leaves me with a big “huh – what are you talking about”? It’s very confusing and contradicting. You say the CP system is pretty much used up within 10 seconds but then in a 10 second sprint our aerobic oxidative system accounts for 13% of this energy? How? What happened to it being primarily CP and then glycolytic after that – we just jump to fat burning? And in an intense 4 min run it jumps to 80%? The only way that’s possible is if your definition of “intense” is well, not intense. If you’re truly intense and anaerobic then you’re still predominantly using sugars in the glycolytic pathway as well as the Krebs cycle – not oxidative phosphorylation – which is predominately fats as you note. No way is any intense 4 min run going to be 80% fat burning.
    Training your oxidative system by training via an aerobic heart rate (which you never even mention, though you say this system is the most important), is the most efficient way for any person, not just endurance athletes. But you say unless you’re a competitive endurance athlete lots of long cardio is not the best way to build your aerobic system; but if you’re serious about building aerobic capacity you should do high-effort bouts – huh? Sure you’ll increase aerobic somewhat during high intensity training but while you’re doing that you’re increasing stress hormones such as cortisol, and that’s more anaerobic than aerobic – so illness and injury will soon result. And if that’s all you do you’ll never develop an optimum aerobic system. You can’t put a bunch of anaerobic exercises together over a prolonged period and call it aerobic – or oxidative. Just because the oxidative system improves with high intensity training doesn’t mean you’re optimally training it. That’s just as incorrect as saying you’re improving anaerobic glycolysis during a long trail run every time you jump over a knee-high log.
    • Andrew Heffernan says:
      This article was based on the research of three very well-respected and credentialed men in the field, some of whose cutting-edge ideas indeed contradict widely-held beliefs on the inter-workings of the three metabolic energy systems.
      Rather than go point-by-point though your comment, I’d invite you to look further into the fascinating research of Bill Hartman, Mike T. Nelson, and especially Dr. Christopher Scott, on whose ideas the article was based. For other people interested in exercise physiology, there are plenty of more stunners out there on this topic, not all of which I was able to include in the article.
      Andrew Heffernan
      Experience Life contributing editor

Friday, 25 April 2014

Fat Soluble Vitamins: Do They Stand Between Vegans and Health?

By Ginny Messina

This month, I’m working on a couple of responses to recently published criticisms of vegan diets. Among the issues that are frequently raised is one that focuses on fat-soluble vitamins. Some of the concerns are based on legitimate questions about active forms of these vitamins and their absorption from plant foods, and others aren’t. Regardless of those questions, though, plant foods can and do provide enough of the fat soluble vitamins A, D and K. (Vitamin E, which is also fat-soluble, is not involved in the controversy since it’s found in a very wide variety of foods.)
Vitamin A: It’s true that the preformed active type of this vitamin is found only in animal foods. But plants are abundant in vitamin A precursors like beta-carotene. In fact, these provitamin A compounds are important enough that the USDA measures vitamin A content of foods as “retinol activity equivalents (RAE),” which includes both preformed vitamin A and the compounds that the body turns into vitamin A. There is no separate RDA or recommendation for animal-derived pre-formed vitamin A.
You can meet your vitamin A requirement for the day by drinking just one-quarter cup of carrot juice or eating a cup of kale or spinach. Other foods that make significant contributions are sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and dark orange winter squashes, including pumpkin. A word of caution though: Earlier assessments of retinol activity equivalents in plant foods over-estimated amounts. This is because more recent data show that conversion rates of the vitamin A precursors are lower than previously believed. As a result, vitamin A is a nutrient that deserves some attention in vegan diets. This doesn’t mean you can’t get enough; it does mean that it’s a good idea to make sure you eat vitamin A rich foods every day.  
Vitamin D: This vitamin occurs naturally in only a few foods—fatty fish, eggs from chickens who were fed vitamin D, and mushrooms treated with ultraviolet light. With such limited dietary availability, humans wouldn’t have gotten very far if not for the fact that we can make all the vitamin D we need when skin is exposed to sunlight.  As humans have moved farther from equatorial zones—and spend less time outdoors—it’s become harder to make enough, though, so vitamin D-fortified foods have become important.
Although people can get adequate vitamin D from fatty fish, most—omnivore or not—rely on fortified foods and sun exposure, two options that are as easily available to vegans as to omnivores.
The vegan form of vitamin D, which is called ergocalciferol or vitamin D2, has been shown to be as effective in raising blood levels of this nutrient as animal-derived vitamin D3 when it’s taken at a usual daily dose (1) (The RDA is 600 IUs; some experts recommend 1,000.) At megadoses, however, vitamin D2 may need to be taken more often.(2) But no one should be megadosing on vitamin D unless they are working with a doctor to correct a deficiency. And vitamin D2 has been used to effectively raise blood levels in people with deficiencies. (3, 4)
Vitamin K: Best sources of this nutrient are leafy green vegetables and canola, soy and olive oils. One form of vitamin K, called vitamin K2 or menaquinone, is found in animal products but in only one lone plant food—natto, a fermented soy product that isn’t a usual part of most western vegan diets. This isn’t a problem, though, because humans have no requirement for vitamin K2. We also have bacteria in our gut that produce this form of vitamin K—so we’re covered either way. Since vitamin K is essential for blood clotting we’d see some evidence of a deficiency if vegans weren’t getting enough. But a study that compared clotting rates between vegans and meat eaters found no difference. (5)
Getting Enough of the Fat Soluble Vitamins: The best way to make sure you’re getting adequate amounts of the fat soluble vitamins is to eat plenty of leafy green and dark orange vegetables and to take a vitamin D supplement if you don’t get adequate sun exposure. Gentle cooking improves the absorption of some vitamin A precursors, and cooking foods in small amounts of olive or canola oil can give you a vitamin boost while improving absorption of these vitamins.
1.            Holick MF, Biancuzzo RM, Chen TC, et al. Vitamin D2 is as effective as vitamin D3 in maintaining circulating concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2008;93:677-81.
2.            Romagnoli E, Mascia ML, Cipriani C, et al. Short and Long Term Variations in Serum Calciotrophic Hormones after a Single Very Large Dose of Ergocalciferol (Vitamin D2) or Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) in the Elderly. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2008.
3.            Thacher TD, Obadofin MO, O’Brien KO, Abrams SA. The effect of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 on intestinal calcium absorption in Nigerian children with rickets. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2009;94:3314-21.
4.            Gordon CM, Williams AL, Feldman HA, et al. Treatment of Hypovitaminosis D in Infants and Toddlers. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2008.
5.            Sanders TA, Roshanai F. Platelet phospholipid fatty acid composition and function in vegans compared with age- and sex-matched omnivore controls. Eur J Clin Nutr 1992;46:823-31.

Unfortunately, vegan diets do need supplementation to obtain vitamin D if insufficient from sun exposure on skin. A possible solution is to eat vitamin D enriched mushrooms - certain mushrooms produce vitamin D in response to UV light exposure - this is usually in smaller amounts than in good animal sources of vitamin D. Vitamin K2 is present in very small amounts in fermented vegetables - a higher amount can be obtained by specific fermenting with yeasts that produce vitamin K2.

Power Surge: The Hidden Benefits of Exercise

Instant Benefits of Exercise

We've got some happy news that will rev up your workout routine: The moment you head out on your run, launch into your Spinning class, or start your Pilates session, the benefits of exercise kick in. "We see changes in the body within seconds," says FITNESS advisory board member Michele Olson, PhD, professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama. Your heart rate increases, and blood is delivered to your muscles. You start burning calories for fuel. And you get an almost immediate mood boost.
As little as 30 minutes of cardio three to five days a week will add six years to your life, according to research at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas. Do that plus a couple of days of resistance training and you'll not only live longer but also look younger, feel happier, have more energy, and stay slim. Ready for some inspiration for getting your move on? Keep reading for our timeline on the quick and long-lasting benefits of regular exercise.
As You Work Out...
Your lungs are getting stronger. When you do cardio, your brain sends signals to them to help you breathe faster and deeper, delivering extra oxygen to your muscles.
Your motivation is at its peak. Thanks to a flood of endorphins, which trigger the classic runner's high, you feel psyched and energized.
You're fighting flab. "During typical cardio exercise, your body taps mainly fat for fuel," Olson says.
FIT TIP: Push yourself to go harder. The more intensely you do aerobic activity and the longer you do it, the more efficiently your body uses oxygen, and this boosts its fat-blasting power throughout your workout, Olson says.
Within One Hour of Exercise...
You're protecting yourself against colds, flu, you name it. Exercise elevates your level of immunoglobulins, which are proteins that help bolster your immune system and ward off infection. "Every sweat session you do can help strengthen your immune function for about 24 hours," says Cedric Bryant, PhD, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise.
You're feeling zen. Mood-enhancing chemicals, like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, flood your brain for a couple of hours post-exercise and for up to a day if you've competed in an endurance event, like a marathon. Stress? What stress?
FIT TIP: Do intervals, on the elliptical or the treadmill or while running outdoors, and you may feel even happier. Women who did interval training in a recent study by Olson had a bigger boost in mood immediately following their workout than those who worked out at a steady pace.
You're blasting calories, even at rest. "For every 100 calories you burn during your workout, you can expect to burn 15 calories after," Bryant says. If you went on a three-mile run, you would torch about 300 calories, which could mean zapping an extra 45 later.
FIT TIP: To turbo-charge your calorie-incinerating quotient, strength-train at least twice a week. It will charge your metabolism so that you'll continue to burn calories for up to 38 hours, according to a study from Ohio University in Athens.
You're hungry. Now that you've burned through your energy stores, your blood sugar levels are dropping. Just how low they go depends on how much you ate or drank before your workout and how long and intensely you exercised, says Kristine Clark, PhD, RD, director of sports nutrition at Pennsylvania State University in University Park.
FIT TIP: If you exercised on an empty or almost-empty stomach, you're probably feeling light-headed or even nauseated or headachy. Your immediate food fix: A high-carb nosh, like a banana or half a bagel, will refuel you and kick-start your recovery. And don't forget to drink plenty of water with your snack. Intense or long workouts can leave you dehydrated.

Vitamin B12: Critical Nutrient Found Only in Animal Foods

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

Modern dietary propaganda consistently gets it wrong – very very wrong, when it comes to the critical nutrient Vitamin B12.  The false notions pertaining to proper food sources of B12 has resulted in epidemic numbers of people being deficient in this all important nutrient and suffering the sometimes devastating health consequences.
Deficiency of B12 is extremely dangerous to health and can lead to dementia and even death if not rectified. While early symptoms include paleness and overall weakness and fatigue, as the anemia caused by B12 deficiency progresses, symptoms can mimic the signs of aging and so can easily be dismissed as a somehow natural or “normal” occurrence:  shaky hands or spastic movement in general, sleeping disorders, unsteady gait, easy bruising, incontinence, and memory loss.
Nervous system, reproductive, and digestive problems such as depression, tingling hands/feet, stomach upset, constipation (or diarrhea),  and infertility are also warning signs of low B12 status.
Children with B12 deficiency are particularly at risk with permanent damage to development a very real possibility.  Growth retardation, delay in motor skill development, and significantly reduced problem solving, spatial ability, and overall ability to learn are the consequences of low B12 in the developing years.
The real culprit in the B12 deficiency epidemic (by some estimates, about 40% of people are deficient and most are completely unaware of the situation), is the demonization and consequent avoidance of B12 rich foods by a duped public.

B12 Rich Foods ALL of Animal Origin

The very foods highest in B12 – particularly organ meats and eggs, are the very same ones erroneously labeled as unhealthy by conventional nutritional circles.  Ironically, these very same foods were revered and regarded as sacred by Traditional Societies as they imparted vibrant health, vitality, fertility and healthy babies and children to those that consumed them:
  • liver
  • kidney
  • meat (cooking meat only destroys B12 on the surface, not interior of the meat)
  • fish
  • shellfish
  • dairy products (raw dairy has more B12 than pasteurized dairy and the milk proteins that assist with absorbing the B12 are not denatured like happens when milk is pasteurized)
  • egg yolks

Gut Bacteria Do Not Produce a Usable Form of B12

Because the original source of B12 in nature is bacteria, some nutritional sources confuse the issue by maintaining that beneficial B12 is synthesized by gut flora in the colon of humans.
While this may be true, the B12 that is produced this way is not in a usable form as very little if any of this B12 is able to be absorbed across the walls of the large intestine or colon.  The reason is that the bacteria produced B12 in the gut is not attached to the “intrinsic factor” (IF), a special protein that is secreted in the stomach.
B12 must attach to an intrinsic factor protein to be absorbed effectively. This happens when B12 that is consumed binds with the intrinsic factor that has been broken down by pancreatic enzymes in the small intestine.  The tightly bound B12-intrinsic factor complex then moves through the gut to the Ileum or lower portion of the small intestine and attaches to cell receptors for absorption.

B12 Not Available in ANY Plant Foods

Contrary to claims by the vegan community, usable B12 is not available in algae like spirulina or tempeh (a fermented soy product).  The B12 found in these foods is similar to true B12 but not exactly the same thing.   The B12 in Brewer’s yeast is due to factory fortification, in other words, it is not naturally occurring in the food.
Studies have indicated that the B12 analogues in algae and tempeh are not bioavailable to the human body – blood levels of the nutrient did not change even after algae or tempeh were added to the diet.
Even worse, these B12 imposters can actually inhibit the absorption of true vitamin B12 as the result of a competitive situation in the digestive system.  This puts those that avoid animal foods at an even greater risk for deficiency!

What About Hindu Vegans Who Have No B12 Deficiency?

Proponents of the B12 in plant foods myth like to point out that Hindus from India do not seem to suffer from any B12 deficiency despite their diet which includes no animal foods.
However, what is conveniently left out of the discussion is that vegan Hindus that move to England quickly develop B12 deficiency symptoms with no change in diet.
This is because in India, the plant foods consumed by vegans include many insects and insect larvae due to the lack of pesticide use and and inefficient cleaning methods.  In England, insects and their residues are completely removed from plant foods before they are consumed, thus removing the tiny and yet plentiful animal foods that were serving to preserve the Hindu vegans’ health in their homeland.

What About B12 Supplements?

It is always best to seek nutrients from whole food sources first. However, in the case of B12, there are many ways absorption can be inhibited and so sometimes supplementation becomes necessary.
The pathways for uptake of this critical nutrient are very complicated and very common physical issues such as reduced stomach acid, compromised protein digestion, lack of pancreatic enzymes and autoimmune disorders can cause disruption in the absorption process.
Supplementation with either the crystalline form of B12 or even better, plentiful servings of foods rich in B12 such as liver and eggs can typically resolve the situation.