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Strong muscles are important for the health of not only one’s body and minds but also the quality of life.  One way to keep muscles in shape is with strength training. When performing muscle-strengthening exercises, it is very important for have the right postures because wrong form can do more harm than good.  Below are some guidelines to help you to avoid injury and keep your program on track.

  • Always warm up and cool down properly.
  • Use proper form to avoid injuries and maximize gains.
  • Breathe out when you are lifting or pushing; breathe in as you slowly release the load or weight. Never hold your breath while straining.
  • Don’t lock your joints; always leave a slight bend in your knees and elbows when straightening out your legs and arms.
  • Don’t be so eager to see results that you risk hurting yourself by exercising too long or choosing too much weight. Remember to rest muscles for at least 48 hours between strength training sessions.
  • If you’ve been sick, give yourself one or two days off after recovering. If you were ill for a while and try to get back to your routine, start with lighter weights or less resistance when you first resume exercising.
  • Strength training exercises should not cause pain while you are doing them. If an exercise or movement causes significant pain, stop doing it! When performing an exercise, stick with a range of motion that feels comfortable. Over time, try to gradually extend that range.
  • Listen to your body and cut back if you aren’t able to finish a series of exercises or an exercise session, can’t talk while exercising, feel faint after a session, feel tired during the day, or suffer joint aches and pains after a session.

 

If you need one more excuse for your cocoa/chocolate addition, here it is: scientists from the University of Cambridge found that higher levels of chocolate consumption have been associated with a 37% reduction in the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, 31% reduction in diabetes and a 29% reduction for stroke.

Previous research has shown that cocoa products appear to have a positive antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect on heart health. A Cambridge study analyzed the results from seven previous studies involving more than 114,000 participants who consumed cocoa products including dark chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate bars, chocolate drinks and chocolate snacks. The Cambridge analysis found a significant association between increased consumption of these cocoa products and reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes.

Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death worldwide and will kill nearly 23.6 million people by 2030 according to World Health Organization.  It is well known that heart diseases are largely preventable through lifestyle changes including diet. Cocoa products, as popular as they already are worldwide, may provide a convenient and popular way of helping prevent these illnesses.

Thanks for reading.

Dr. Connie Wan

Journal Reference: Buitrago-Lopez, A., Sanderson J. et al. Chocolate consumption and cardio metabolic disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis, British Medical Journal 2011; 343 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d4448 (published 29 August 2011)

Push-ups and sit ups could add years to your life according to a study of over a large population led by the University of Sydney.  The research, published in the American Journal of Epidemiologytoday, is based on a pooled population sample of over 80,306 adults with data drawn from the Health Survey for England and Scottish Health Survey, linked with the NHS Central Mortality Register.

This largest study to compare the mortality outcomes of different types of exercise found that exercise promoting muscular strength may be just as important for health as aerobic activities like jogging or cycling.  The data shows that people who did strength-based exercise had a 23 percent reduction in risk of premature death by any means, and a 31 percent reduction in cancer-related death.

The World Health Organization’s Physical Activity Guidelines for adults recommend 150 minutes of aerobic activity, plus two days of muscle strengthening activities each week.  However, the popular message on exercise has been focusing on “get moving.”  This study prompts expanding the kinds of exercise to beyond traditional aerobic activities for long-term health and wellbeing.

The analysis also showed that exercises performed using one’s own body weight — such as triceps dips, sit-ups, push-ups or lunges — without specific equipment were just as effective as gym-based training.   The take home message is that everyone can do classic exercises in their own home or local park and potentially reap the same health benefits as working out in a gym.

The key findings from the study are:

  • participation in any strength-promoting exercise was associated with a 23 percent reduction in all-cause mortality and a 31 percent reduction in cancer mortality.
  • own bodyweight exercises that can be performed in any setting without equipment yielded comparable results to gym-based activities.
  • adherence to WHO’s strength-promoting exercise guideline alone was associated with reduced risk of cancer-related death, but adherence to the WHO’s aerobic physical activity guideline alone was not.
  • adherence to WHO’s strength-promoting exercise and aerobic guidelines combined was associated with a greater risk reduction in mortality than aerobic physical activity alone.

Thanks for reading.

Dr. Connie Wan

Journal Reference: Emmanuel Stamatakis, I-Min Lee, Jason Bennie, Jonathan Freeston, Mark Hamer, Gary O’Donovan, Ding Ding, Adrian Bauman, Yorgi Mavros. Does strength promoting exercise confer unique health benefits? A pooled analysis of eleven population cohorts with all-cause, cancer, and cardiovascular mortality endpointsAmerican Journal of Epidemiology, 2017; DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwx345

A growing body of compelling scientific research has suggested that controlled fasting pattern, named “Intermitted fasting,” could have beneficial health and weight loss effects. There are several forms of intermittent fasting plan, among them 5:2 diet and 16:8 diet are most well-known.

The most popular form of intermittent fasting is the 5:2 diet. This eating strategy involves a normal (albeit still healthy) diet for five days of the week, and extreme calorie restriction for the remaining two days.

Several researches have examined the efficacy of the 5:2 diet. The research results have generally been promising suggesting that 5:2 diet leads to reductions in both body fat and insulin levels. Specifically, researchers have found that volunteers in these studies have, on average, reduced their weight by 4-6% after 12 weeks on the diet.

An alternative model for intermittent fasting emerged over the last few years is 16:8 diet, which many are suggesting is much easier to maintain than the 5:2 diet. The 16:8 diet limits a person’s food intake to an eight-hour stretch of the day. So, ultimately a person is fasting for a minimum of 16 hours every day.

A 2016 study into the effects of a 16:8 diet on young resistance-trained men found that, after just eight weeks, there were improvements in a variety of health-related biomarkers and a decrease in fat mass. To confirm the benefits of 16:8 diet in obese population, researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) examined the diet and have found it to be an effective in weight loss.

UIC study involved 23 obese subjects with an average age of 45. The subjects were compared with a historical control group from a previous weight loss trial by the same research team. The subjects in the study were not given controlled diets but rather told to continue eating as normal but to limit their food intake to between the hours of 10 am and 6 pm. After 12 weeks the results showed that the 16:8 group seemed to instinctively have reduced their overall daily caloric intake by about 300 calories. Their overall body weight had also dropped by around 3%, compared to the historical control group.

UIC data suggested that the 16:8 diet is not as immediately effective for weight loss as 5:2 diet. But, this eating strategy is generally considered more sustainable on a long-term basis. Indeed, the researchers from the study noted that that were fewer people dropping off the study when comparing to other 5:2 diet studies.

More research is obviously necessary before we can have a better scientific perspective on the broader effects that different fasting patterns have on our overall metabolism, but the preliminary evidence is certainly promising.

Thanks for reading.

Journal Reference: Gabel, Kelseya, Hoddy, Kristin K., Haggerty, Nicolea, Song, Jeeheea, Kroeger, Cynthia M.; Trepanowski, John F., Panda, Satchidanandac, Varady, Krista A., Effects of 8-hour time restricted feeding on body weight and metabolic disease risk factors in obese adults: A pilot study, Nutrition and Healthy Aging, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 345-353, 2018, 15 June 2018

We have seen many health benefits of dark chocolate. For example, scientists have found out that dark chocolate can help feed the good bacteria in our gut to produce anti-inflammatory compounds; that the flavonols found in chocolate could ward off age-related memory decline; and that higher consumption of the treat has been linked to lower body fat levels. It has even been shown that dark chocolate plays a role in reducing diabetes as well as reducing cardiovascular disease and lowering the risk of stroke.

Researchers at Brigham Young University (BYU) just gave us one more reason to munch on dark chocolate — epicatechin monomers, a component in cocoa, could help fight type-2 diabetes by pushing certain cells to become insulin powerhouses.  Specifically, BYU researchers discovered that epicatechin monomers can increase the ability of beta cells to secrete insulin.

Inside the pancreas are regions where the body’s beta cells reside. When there is a spike in glucose, beta cells are responsible for secreting insulin directly into the bloodstream reducing glucose level. Beta cells also secrete a hormone called Amylin, which puts the brakes on the amount of glucose entering the bloodstream. In type-2 diabetics, however, the beta cells malfunction and are not able to do their jobs effectively.

In the BYU study, researchers placed mice on a high-fat diet. Then they gave the animals the cocoa compound. They found that the epicatechin monomers not only helped the rodents better deal with elevated blood glucose levels, but also decreased the extent of their obesity. Further investigation revealed that the increased insulin secretion in the presence of monomeric catechin corresponded with enhanced mitochondrial respiration, which suggests that the cocoa compounds improves the fuel utilization inside the β-cell.

Mitochondria are specialized structures inside cells that convert oxygen and nutrients into ATP, a small molecule used to transfer energy throughout the body.  What seem to be happening is that the cocoa compounds protected the beta cells by increasing their ability to deal with oxidative stress.  Essentially, epicatechin monomers are making the mitochondria in the beta cells stronger, which produces more ATP, which then results in more insulin being released.

Thanks for reading.

Dr. Connie Wan

Journal Reference: Rowley T.J.; Bitner, B.F. et al. Monomeric cocoa catechins enhance beta-cell function by increasing mitochondrial respiration, The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 49, pp. 30-41, November 2017

Various studies in North America, Europe, and Asia have shown consistently that coffee drinking reduces mortality, including deaths from cardiovascular disease and some cancers.  However, for some people who are sensitive to caffeine, coffee drinking can cause unpleasant side effects such as jittery, heart palpitation, anxiety and nervousness.  Therefore, there are concerns about coffee’s health benefit, particularly among people with caffeine sensitivity, and among those drinking more than 5 cups per day.

The UK Biobank is a population-based study that invited approximately 9.2 million individuals from across the United Kingdom to participate. The researchers used baseline demographic, lifestyle, and genetic data form the UK Biobank population, with follow-up beginning in 2006 and ending in 2016, to study the relationship between coffee intake and mortality.   As part of this study, the researchers especially noted the potential effect of genes that are known to modify caffeine metabolisms in the body and causes caffeine sensitivities. Of the 502,641 participants who consented with baseline data, the researchers included those who were not pregnant and had complete data on coffee intake and smoking status, which results in 498,134 volunteers to be included in the study.

The mean age of the participants was 57 years (range, 38-73 years); 271,019 (54%) were female, and 387,494 (78%) were coffee drinkers.  Over 10 years of follow-up, 14 225 deaths occurred. Coffee drinking was inversely associated with all-cause mortality. Using non–coffee drinkers as the reference group, Hazardous Ratios (HR, meaning the ratio between drinking and death) for drinking less than 1, 1, 2 to 3, 4 to 5, 6 to 7, and 8 or more cups per day were 0.94 (95% CI, 0.88-1.01), 0.92 (95% CI, 0.87-0.97), 0.88 (95% CI, 0.84-0.93), 0.88 (95% CI, 0.83-0.93), 0.84 (95% CI, 0.77-0.92), and 0.86 (95% CI, 0.77-0.95), respectively – meaning the more coffee you drink, the less likely you will die.

The researchers concluded that coffee drinking reduces mortality, including among participants drinking 1 up to 8 or more cups per day.  The reduction of mortality seems to be proportional to the amount of coffee consumed. In addition, the researchers noted that there were no differences observed in caffeine sensitive population. This study provides further evidence that coffee drinking can be part of a healthy diet and offers reassurance to coffee drinkers.

If carrying cups of coffee around is too troublesome, try Mocca Shots — packing two cups of coffee worth of caffeine in one convenient packet.  Mocca Shots lets you stay alert anytime and GET __ DONE anywhere.

Journal Reference: Erikka Loftfield; Marilyn C. Cornelis; Neil Caporaso, Association of Coffee Drinking With Mortality by Genetic Variation in Caffeine Metabolism, JAMA Intern Med. Published online July 2, 2018. Doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.2425

The core is the mid section of your body including the torso muscles and their corresponding ligaments and tendons.  It is in this section that all sport and functional movements originate.  Core muscles allow you to control your center of gravity, which has a direct impact on balance and posture.  Strong core muscles make it easier to do many physical activities and therefore are important for a healthy living.

Core exercises are sets of exercises designed to strengthen your core muscles, with the focus on building abdominal muscles, back muscles and the muscles around the pelvis.   Core exercise should be an important part of any well-rounded fitness program. Aside from occasional sit-ups and push-ups, however, core exercises are often neglected. It pays to get your core muscles in better shape. Here is why.

Core exercises improve your balance and stability

Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony. This leads to better balance and stability, whether on the playing field or in daily activities.  Most sports and daily physical activities depend on stable core muscles.  Whether you want to perfect your baseball swing or power up your tennis backhand, you need a strong core.

Strong core muscles make it easier to do most physical activities

Strong core muscles make it easier to do many activities, such as swing a golf club, get a glass from the top shelf and bend down to tie your shoes. Strong core muscles are also important for athletes, such as runners, as weak core muscles can lead to more fatigue, less endurance and injuries.

Weak core muscles can leave you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries. Strengthening core muscles may also help improve back pain.

It’s well worth including core work in your exercise plan. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend the following well-rounded plan:

  • At least two-and-a-half hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, or one-and-a-quarter hours (75 minutes) of vigorous activity per week, or an equivalent combination of the two. (During moderate activity, such as a brisk walk, you can talk, but not sing; during vigorous activity, such as running, you can’t say more than a few words without needing to catch your breath.)
  • Strength-training sessions twice a week for all major muscle groups, including your core.
  • Balance exercises.

Core exercise falls under the second and third categories: strength training and enhancing balance. Incorporate yoga practice is a great way to build the core strength.  Effective core building yoga poses include high plank, low plank, side plank, boat, bridge, locust, and superman.  Effective balance poses include dancer, tree, warrior III, half moon, and warrior.  Here are the graphic illustrations, enjoy!

High Plank

Low Plank

Side Plank

Boat

Bridge

Locust

Superman

Dancer

Tree

Warrior III

Half Moon

Warrior

 

SEATTLE, Washington – Chinese Triathlon Team has selected Mocca Shots and Energon Qube (EQ) products as its official energy products during the Fifth Austria eXtreme Triathlon competition.  Breaking from its traditional energy gel based products, Chinese Triathlon Team made the final decision to switch to Seattle Gummy Company (SGC)’s products after trial use of the SGC products before the competition.

The Triathlon team started intensive training for the competition in May following the regime of using: EQ Power Up as a pre-workout product, Mocca Shots during the training, and EQ Recover after the training.  The athletes noted significant differences in endurance and delayed feeling of tiredness. Several athletes commented that Mocca Shots provided quick shots of energy especially in the later phase of the course and really kept them going.  All athletes noted that, unlike energy gel products, Mocca Shots and EQ products did not cause gastric distress.  The team made the final decision of selecting both Mocca Shots and EQ as the team’s official energy products after months-long trial use and seeing the improved team performance.

Thefifth Austria eXtreme Triathlon took place on June 22, 2019.  The race keeps its namesake promise: athletes had to face the extreme challenges of 3.8km of river swimming, 187km of cycling and 44km of running, with a total of 5,800meters in altitude difference.  The challenging track took its toll — only 45 out of 125 registered athletes from 28 nations finished the entire course.   Armed with Mocca Shots and EQ products, most of the Chinese athletes finished race with the team captain commenting that the team was living on Mocca Shots during the competition.

Mocca Shots is acclaimed to be highest caffeine loading product on the market. The caffeine in Mocca Shots™ works 5x faster because ingredients are absorbed through mouth mucosa, by-passing the normal digestive process.  “As a result,” says Dr. Connie Wan, CEO, “next to an IV, Mocca Shots are the fastest way to deliver caffeine directly into the blood stream.” SGC’s Functional Gummy® Delivery System is key to masking caffeine’s unpleasant taste and anxious side-effects while improving absorption and bioavailability. This allows you to feel the caffeine kick within minutes of taking the product.

Energon Qube™ performance gummies take sports nutrition to the next level. Combining advanced carbohydrate formulations with functional compounds, Energon Qub products are designed to fuel the body and the mind for optimum performance.

Both products are available online: https://seattlegummy.com/

About SGC:SGC is an R&D focused developer of nutraceutical and pharmaceutical gummy products. The company specializes in formulating Functional Gummy® products combining the wealth of the in-house knowledge in pharmaceutics, chemistry, western medicine and herbal medicine. The company provides performance gummies® inspired by Traditional Chinese Medicine including MOCCA SHOTS™, ENERGON QUBE™, FUNTIONAL FRUIT®, and SEATTLE BEAUTY®.

To learn more, visit https://seattlegummy.com, [email protected],call 206-257-0464, or join at https://seattlegummy.com/be-an-informed-member/

According to a study conducted by Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center, just one serving of leafy green vegetables per day could help preserve memory and thinking skills as we get older. Specifically, the research seems to suggest that following such a diet may slow brain aging by up to 11 years.

The study involved 960 participants, the average age of whom was 81 years and all were dementia-free at the beginning of the study. Over an average of nearly 5 years, participants underwent an annual set of tests that assessed cognition in five domains including episodic memory, working memory, semantic memory, visuospatial ability, and perceptual speed. Data from food frequency questionnaires administered at the beginning of the study were used to assess how frequently people ate some 144 items over the previous 12 months. Dietary intake levels of the nutrients of interest were estimated from responses to all food items. The three green leafy vegetable items and their serving sizes included in the questionnaire were: spinach (1/2 cup cooked), kale/collards/greens (1/2 cup cooked), and lettuce salad (1 cup raw). Additional diet, health, and demographic information was also collected during annual visits.

In the study, consumption of green leafy vegetables was positively and significantly associated with slower cognitive decline. When comparing the highest daily consumption (median 1.3 servings a day) with the lowest (median 0.09 servings a day), the rate of cognitive decline among those who consumed the most to those who consumed the least was equivalent to being 11 years younger cognitively, based on average global cognitive scores over time. There was no evidence that the association was affected by cardiovascular conditions, depressive symptoms, low weight, or obesity. Other lifestype factors such as alcohol consumption, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, education level and amount of physical and cognitive activities have also been accounted for in the study.

The researchers also examined the relationship between cognitive change and nutrients for which green leafy vegetables are a rich source (folate, phylloquinone, nitrate, α-tocopherol, kaempferol, and lutein). Intake of each of these nutrients was positively and significantly associated with slower rates of cognitive decline and were not due to other underlying health issues.  Further investigation indicated that phylloquinone, lutein and folate likely were the source of the effect seen on cognitive decline.

In summary, this study indicates that consumption of green leafy vegetables is associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline in older adults, possibly due to the neuroprotective actions of specific nutrients.

If you don’t have time cooking leafy green or hate salad, SGC’s all natural vitamin supplements, Functional Fruit, may be a good way to get your vitamins with one serving of fruits. Functional Fruit, fruit and vitamins, nothing else, that’s all. Find it here https://seattlegummy.com/product/functional-fruit-multivitamin/

Thanks for reading.

Dr. Connie Wan

References:

Morris MC, et al. Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive declineNeurology. 2017 90:e214-e222. Research supported by NIA grants R01 AG031553 and R01 AG17917.

Kang JH, et al. Fruit and vegetable consumption and cognitive decline in aging womenAnnals Neurology. 2005 57:713–720.

Morris MC, et al. Associations of vegetable and fruit consumption with age-related cognitive changeNeurology. 2006 67:1370–1376.

We all have the experience of seeing our grandparents, over time, literally shrink in front of our eyes. The shrinking is caused by the loss of muscle mass and bone loss as people age. Most adults achieve their peak muscle mass during their late 30s to early 40s, after which time a gradual loss of muscle mass begins and can continue a steady, downhill course into old age. People who are physically inactive can lose as much as 3 percent to 5 percent of their muscle mass per decade after age 30.

As with loss of muscle mass, bone strength also decline as we age – on average, we could lose 1% of bone density per year after age 40. About 10.2 million Americans have osteoporosis, which is defined by weak and porous bones, and another 43 million are at risk for it.

Numerous studies have shown that weight-bearing exercise can help to slow bone loss, and several show it can even build bone. Activities that put stress on bones stimulate extra deposits of calcium and nudge bone-forming cells into action. The tugging and pushing on bone that occur during strength and power training provide the stress. The result is stronger, denser bones.

Studies support that strength training, as well as aerobic exercise, can help you manage and sometimes prevent conditions as varied as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and osteoporosis. It can also protect vitality, make everyday tasks more manageable, and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Even weight-bearing aerobic exercise, like walking or running, can help your bones, but there are a couple of caveats. Generally, higher-impact activities have a more pronounced effect on bone than lower impact aerobics. Velocity is also a factor; jogging or fast-paced aerobics will do more to strengthen bone than more leisurely movement. And keep in mind that only those bones that bear the load of the exercise will benefit. For example, walking or running protects only the bones in your lower body, including your hips.

Therefore, to benefit all of your bones, you need a well-rounded strength-training program that works on your overall skeletal structure. A quick Internet search will show that are many programs around. The one that you pick should not only provide workout for all the major muscle groups but also targets bones of the hips, spine, and wrists, which, along with the ribs, are the sites most likely to fracture.

Thanks for reading.

Dr. Connie Wan