3/6/09

Drugs


(chemical formula for Ibuprofen)

There is a drug for everything. No matter how bad you are feeling, you can go to your doctor and with x-symptoms and x-signs you can get a pill to "make you feel better". Sadly, drugs can be expensive. Also, there are dependency issues. Lastly, there is a lot that goes on in the body in order to recognize the drug and there is no drug to cure you 100% w/o side effects.
I don't believe in drugs. I don't even have a regular doctor. I rarely get sick but if I ever feel under the weather, I don't run to the doctor and ask for a pill to make me feel better. I do believe that some people need drugs. There are clinical reasons for drugs and situations where people need to get better quickly. For example, some people need antibiotics or allergy medicine because symptoms affect normal daily living. When I was Kona I had a bottle of Vicodin with me and I had to take a pill to get me through the race. Wow did I love the medications. Sadly, the drug to mask my pain (which I still felt) allowed me to finish an Ironman and experience 10x worse symptoms for the next 4 months.
I do believe in supplements. If a person has dietary issues (vegetarian, lactose intolerant), ethical/religious issues, an illness/disease or extreme lifestyle habits (ex. triathlete, marathon runner, endurance cyclist, etc.) there is a need to supplement the diet with macro and micronutrients that are not received in the daily diet.
When it comes to alleviating symptoms, I like to take a more natural approach. I like to see what foods can make a person "feel better" rather than popping a pill or taking a supplement. So many athletes take supplements because they read a label and they think that supplement will take their training to the next level. However, it is important to understand the ingredients in the product and to find out if that product is really doing the job you need it to do. HINT-Amino acids are CRITICAL in the diet of athletes!
In my biochem class on Thurs we were talking about drugs such as SSRI's (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and NSAID's (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). We also talked about all the side effects of drugs and the difference between generic and named brand drugs. Because there is no chemical difference between generic and named brands, go for generic for ALL brands unless you are taking the medication for hormonal reasons. We also talked about all the different types of drugs to relieve similar symptoms and that the difference between drugs has to do with manufactures and because some people may be allergic to certain ingredients in the drug.
I wanted to provide everyone with a list of my NATURAL choices instead of drugs. Because I am not a RD the information I am providing is not intended to treat or cure any disease and if you do have serious problems, you should always consult a doctor. However, the following foods are in the average diet and now you can feel better knowing what the food is doing to help your body.

To boost serotonin levels (common drugs include Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil):
1) Exercise
2) Eat protein (lean meat, fish, cottage cheese, nuts, eggs, beans)
3) Combine complex carbs w/ protein (nuts and fruit, beans and rice)
4) Eat good sources of fats (nuts, flaxseed, olive oil, seeds, avocados, wild salmon, tuna)
5) Take fish oil
6) Avoid relying on caffeine, sugar and alcohol for a boost. Limit yourself to 2-3 cups of coffee and avoid sugary foods as much as you can.
7) Get sleep!
8) Surround yourself with people that give you energy and not take it from you.

Too reduce inflammation (common drugs include Ibuprofen and many sport nutrition-related products)
1) Reduce your intake of simple sugars
2) Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil,flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, coldwater fish)
3) Increase your intake of oleic acid (olive oil)
4) Meet protein recommendations for an active athlete (whey protein powder imediately post exercise, lean meat, high biological value proteins such as eggs, milk, cottage cheese)
5) Reduce your intake of red meat which trigger inflammation
6) Eat a high fiber, complex carbohydrate diet
7) Eat lots of colorful fruits and veggies (especially berries, apples, strawberries)
8) Avoid greasy, baked and fried foods
9) Drink plenty of water

To increase blood flow (Nitric oxide products)
*Most people have heard of viagra for men but did you know that viagra is given to women to lower blood pressure? If you haven't heard of NO supplements (nitric oxide supplements) they are very common to cyclists who race in TT's or crits. The same ingredient in viagra is in many sport nutrition products in order to dialate blood vessels to increase blood flow. Nitric Oxide (NO) is biosynthesized from the amino acid L-Arginine.
1) Eat more nuts (walnuts, almonds, seeds, cashews, peanuts, brazilnuts)
2) Eat more non-meat protein (lentils, beans, tofu, chickpeas, eggs, soybeans, milk)
3) Eat plenty of veggies (plant foods)
4) Eat fish (tuna, salmon, shrimp)

Enjoy your new natural diet!

3/5/09

What happened to February??

I can't believe it is the first week of March. Feb just came and went.
This week has been like that as well. The days are just slipping by and I find myself on the computer almost all day. School, nutrition, emails, etc...what would I do without my computer and internet.

The best part about each day is starting off with a good workout. Nothing like getting in a good sweat in the morning. Swimming has been great and I am finally making those 1:20 intervals for my 100's. On wed. we did 8 x 200's and I made the last 3 on the 2:40 interval w/ 5 sec rest. Running is going well and I am looking forward to the half marathon on Sat in Albany. No tapering for the race but I feel good to run. Hopefully I can break 1:40 with a solid week of training but it will be tough. The trainer is now my friend and I have survived several weeks of workouts. On Tues. I had 6 x 5 min. at CP90 w/ 3 min recovery. I didn't think I would make it past 2 but I told myself one more each time and well, I made it to #6.

I am just about to head to biochem. Looks like the studying paid off because I got an A on my first biochem exam. Yippe! I just updated my resume which took almost an entire day. It is so tedious to remember so much from so many months ago. I can't believe we have lived in Jacksonville for almost a year now!

This evening I will be speaking to the Team n' Training group here in Jax. I am talking about pre-race nutrition...one of my FAVORITE topics to speak about. As usual, I am nervous. I don't think I am ever NOT nervous but luckily, it all goes away when I start talking. Hopefully it will go well tonight at 6:30.

So, that was just a little summary of this week but I still don't know what happened to Feb. Before I know it I will be packing my bags and getting ready to race IMKY! Oh my!

3/3/09

Flaxseed and Apple Muffins



There is so much healthy nutrition in this muffin I can't even believe it!
I just bought a box of Flaxseeds and Karel and I have been adding a 1 tbsp to almost all our meals (mostly to our oatmeal and smoothies). Flaxseeds are rich in Omega-3's to help fight inflammation and they are also rich in fiber, B-vitamins, magnesium and phytochemicals. I decided to bump up the nutritional value of these muffins by adding carrots and an apple. The muffins are really moist and delicious and you get a bit of sweetness in every bite! You can't go wrong with one of these muffins with scrambled egg whites in the morning or a muffin w/ yogurt as a well-deserved desert after an evening workout.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup Flax seeds
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup skim milk + 1/4 cup water (optional)
2 large carrots (shredded)
1/2 apple (shredded)
1/8 cup chopped walnuts
1/8 cup raisins (chopped)
1/8 cup chocolate chips (chopped)

*Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
1. Add the flour, oatmeal, flax seeds, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir until all ingredients are combined.
2. In another bowl, mix together egg, milk, vanilla and brown sugar.
3. In another bowl, combine shredded carrots and apples. Add raisins, walnuts and chocolate chips.
4. Add the carrot and nut mixture to the flour bowl. Stir until all ingredients are mixed.
5. Add the egg and milk mixture to the flour and blend/whisk until combined. If mixture is thick, slowly add 1/4 cup water until batter slowly drips from your spoon. You do not want a soupy mixture.
6. Spray a muffin pan w/ butter PAM spray. 1-2 sec. spray for each muffin on the pan. Remember-PAM spray has calories!
7. Fill each muffin space to 2/3rds full.
8. Cook for 15-20 minutes.

YUM!


3/2/09

Must-Have Gadgets for a Healthy Kitchen

Here is my latest article on Irongirl.com
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Must-Have Gadgets for a Healthy Kitchen
By Marni Rakes

According to USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), the average weekly cost of food, in the U.S., in December 2008, for a family of two (ages 19-50), was $131.00. For a family of four (children ages 6-11), the cost increased more than $50, for an average weekly cost of $188.60 for food at home (1). Take into account extra curricular activities, training sessions, races and a little socializing outside the home, and the average person is likely to spend at least $150-$250 a week on food!

Due to busy schedules and improper meal planning, many Americans opt to eat out, as opposed to preparing meals at home. Therefore, in addition to a weekly budget of $131.00 on food consumed at home, Americans also spend money on fast food, take-out meals or food from restaurants. According to the NPD group, in a recent USA Today article, Americans are likely to consume approximately five meals, outside of the home, on a weekly basis (2).

In an effort to eat the same type of foods that you desire from the local deli or restaurant, there are several gadgets I recommend that can help you save time and money, while preparing healthy meals at home. Aside from the common appliances found in most kitchens (oven, stove, toaster, coffee maker, refrigerator and microwave), the following gadgets are worth the cost if you are looking for easy ways to prepare quick, satisfying, healthy and affordable meals.

1) Crock-pot (aka slow cooker)
What a great invention for the "lazy" cook. Plug it in, put your ingredients in a pot, cover the pot and wait a few hours for a delicious meal. From meats to vegetables to bread and stews, the slow cooking crock-pot will maintain a steady temperature, for several hours, to ensure even cooking. Crock-pots come in all sizes, to accommodate the number of people in your family, and the care and clean-up is simple. Entertaining could not be easier. More so, you will save money each week by not eating out. Why eat out when a warm, home-cooked, comfort-style meal is waiting for you at home?
Cost: $30-$130

Recipe:
Vegetarian Chili
1 tbsp. Olive oil
Minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 red and 1 green pepper (largely diced)
1 can crushed tomatoes (low sodium)
1 large onion (diced)
1 can corn (low sodium)
1 can black beans (low sodium)
1 can chickpeas (low sodium)
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. cayenne or chili flakes
1 cup black bean salsa

1) Add onions, garlic, cumin and cayenne to olive oil and sauté in hot skillet until golden brown.
2) Add peppers to onion mixture.
3) Place tomatoes, corn, chickpeas, beans and salsa in crock pot and add onion and pepper mixture.
4) Cook on low heat for about 10 hours.
5) When ready, top with 2-3 tbsp. shredded cheese (per person)

2) Blender
A must-have for the athlete who is looking to recover faster after workouts. Aside from the normal protein and fruit smoothies, use your blender for milkshakes, fresh fruit juices, soups, sauces, purees, salsas and dips. You can even make pancake batter in your blender! Just like the coffee maker, a blender should have a permanent place on your counter. A durable, glass blender, with multiple functions and settings, will be a useful tool in your healthy kitchen. Be sure to spend at least $50 on a blender to ensure that you aren't wasting your money on a blender that doesn't crush ice or mix thoroughly. Many blenders provide a "juicer" option, which is another great way to add vitamins and minerals to your diet.
Cost: $50-$200+

Recipe:
Vanilla Milkshake Smoothie
½ cup low fat vanilla yogurt (Lit n' Fit)
1 cup light vanilla soy milk
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 frozen banana
½ grapefruit (sliced and peeled w/o seeds)
1 scoop vanilla whey protein
Dash of cinnamon
4-5 ice cubes
*may need additional water

1. Add all ingredients to blender except protein powder. Blend for 30-45 seconds. May need to add a little water during blending.
2. Add 1 scoop protein powder and blend for additional 30-60 sec. May need to add a little water.
3. When your mixture is thick and creamy, stop blender and pour 8 ounces into a 12-ounce cup.

3) Panini Maker
Tired of eating the same toasted-bread sandwich every day at work? With a panini maker you can get deli-style sandwiches any time you want! There is little to clean up and you don't make a mess when trying to wrap up your over-stuffed, veggie-filled, lean-meat sandwich. When you start using your panini maker, you will wonder how you ever lived without it!

Depending on the brand of panini maker, you will have the option to use several settings (low, medium, high) or the grill. Most panini makers come with a non-stick surface so cleaning up is a breeze. You can make simple sandwiches of meat, cheese and veggies or you can make gourmet sandwiches with a thick whole grain baguette, roasted chicken (or a veggie burger), cheese and lots of thick-cut veggies. On the grill, you can easily cook chicken in just a few minutes. No matter what type of sandwich you are cooking, you will end up with a nicely grilled panini every time you use it. After preparing your fillings for your sandwich, just close the lid and give yourself a few minutes to prepare the rest of your meal. When you smell your sandwich cooking you know you will have a healthy and satisfying deli-style lunch!
Cost: $40-$60

Recipe:
Pizza Panini
2 slices rye bread
2 thin slices mozzarella cheese
3 thick slices of tomato
3-5 mushroom slices
4 onion rings
1-2 tbsp. Marinara sauce
Italian seasoning

1. Turn on Panini maker to medium heat.
2. Place 1 slice of bread on Panini maker. Cover with 1-2 tbsp. marina sauce. Sprinkle on Italian seasoning.
3. Top with cheese, tomato, onion, mushroom and cheese (in that order), followed by the other slice of bread.
4. Close Panini maker and wait for a few minutes.

References:

1) USDA
http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/FoodPlans/2008/CostofFoodDec08.pdf

2) USA Today
http://content.usatoday.com/topics/post/People/Journalists,+Media,+Academia/Katie+Couric/60951266.blog/1