Milk: Raw and Uncut

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

This whole week I am going to put a lot of focus on one of the most controversial topics in the nutrition community: milk and dairy products. Should we consume it at all? Is organic better? Raw or pasteurized? Homegenized or no? There are a ton of questions about dairy, and I am going to provide a lot of info, hopefully answering some questions (though not all, since they can’t all be) and coming to a comfortable resolution. This isn’t really going to be about the nutrients in milk and dairy, just the production and processing of it.

I have always been a big dairy consumer. I was raised on copious amounts of skim milk, non-organic, completely industrialized skim milk and I loved every minute of it. Be honest, who doesn’t still love the idea of a PB & J with a huge glass of milk? Through my evolution in this industry, and the learning process that I am continually undergoing, you read more, you learn more, and you question more. Throughout my college years and a little thereafter I didn’t believe any of the negative info about conventional dairy. Mainstream nutrition experts, the FDA, the ADA, and my professors all brushed any negative info aside, declaring dairy to be A-ok. The only people that seemed to be against it were the hippies. Come to find out, the hippies were right.

Reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma is an eye-opening experience to the scary process we call industrial food production. Unfortunately, it doesn’t produce real food, just items resembling and pretending to be real food. Conventional dairy farms are no exception, seeking to maximize production and minimize cost (makes sense from a pure business perspective, except it destroys the product) are huge, milk the cows nearly non-stop, feed them boatloads of corn to maximize milk yield, may inject hormones to do the same, smash them full of antibiotics to counteract the corn feeding which sickens the animals, and generally doesn’t give two shits about the actual quality of their product, just the quantity. It is a cyclical nightmare, and the biggest companies are the worst offenders (this same statement applies even to organic dairies).

One step in the right direction is organic milk. In order to be certified organic, the cows have to have access to pasture (which doesn’t really mean much), fed organic feed, no hormones, no antibiotics, get milked less, and generally live in more sanitary conditions with more room and better care. If you can find organic milk from a small, preferably local dairy, it is most likely even pastured/grass-fed cows producing the milk, which is even better, and for what is widely available, probably your best option. Huge organic companies, like Horizon, do not meet those requirements though. They are simply industrial organic, bending the rules but not necessarily breaking them, pushing their limits and generally not producing a better product than conventional milk. Last week I actually came across a fantastic resource on organic dairies, milk, cheese, yogurt, etc, that gave them scores based on surveys. It was quite revealing and I suggest you all check it out here. The good news is there are some great companies out there producing good products. If you are afraid of raw milk, and want the best “normal milk” that is widely available, Organic Valley makes some pretty good products and got pretty good ratings in that report.

The deeper you get into how your food was produced, the more you realize that there is a lot of shit you no longer want to eat. Conventional food production no longer seems remotely appealing, large organic corporations are not much better, their only real benefit being that at least they don’t contribute to our pesticide/herbicide/antiobiotic/hormone issues. I haven’t even gotten into the issues around pasteurization, ultra-pasteurization, homogenization, etc. This is a huge issue that I could never cover in its entirety in a few blogs, whole books have been written about it! I just hope to at least give some solid info on the topic and help people make better food choices. To Be Continued…

Posted on March 31st, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre

4 Comments »

Random Friday Thoughts

Filed under: General Health

Sometimes in this profession you get used to being surrounded by people who have a pretty good grasp on training and nutrition, and you sometimes forget how things that seem so easy and obvious to you, aren’t always so to everyone else. I am often reminded of this Curse of Knowledge when I deal with new clients. Things that I think everyone knows and are common knowledge, are completely new and foreign to them. Some examples are what I want to share today.

1. Nutrition Facts do not tell you everything about a food. Prime example – a high qaulity extra virgin olive oil compared to a highly refined canola oil will look similar nutritionally based on their nutrition facts, but are an entirely different animal. One has been gently processed and contains not only undamaged healthy fats, but also a significant amount of antioxidants, including chlorophyll, carotenoids and polyphenols, the other has been refined, damaged and altered until it no longer resembles a food, if it once contained beneficial compounds, they have been processed out. This canola oil is just a transport for calories, and nothing more. The Nutrition Facts do not reflect the differences, but they are there and imperative for optimal health.

2. As some of you may know, I am a huge fan of tea, but not all tea is created equal. A lot of people think green tea tastes terrible, so I make some new suggestions. Tazo Zen Green Tea is quickly becoming one of my favorites. It is absolutely amazing, with a delicate lemon-mint flavor. I am totally dominating a cup as I write this.

3. Fat-free hot dogs are not food. I can’t imagine anything more processed or further from it’s original source(s), whatever that may be. It does not belong in anyone’s diet, nor should it even exist. If you are eating this “food”, we have some work to do. You know who you are.

4. Find small ways to increase your energy output. A client at CP who works a stressful desk job in finance has found a clever way to get in more exercise. Every time he gets up to go to the bathroom, or grab a snack, anytime at all really, he tries to crank out something. He might do some pushups, or some bodyweight squats or lunge variations. He also might do some stretching or mobility work. Not enough to work up a sweat, but enough to burn a few extra calories and keep his energy levels up. It all adds up. Excuse me while I bust out some squat thrusts, no big deal.

5. I am all for people reading and educating themselves, but always have a filter. Keep an open mind, but do realize that many people and sites have agendas and are often manipulating info to push a certain product. A healthy dose of skepticism is probably not a bad idea when reading information that may challenge everything you think you know about fitness, unless I wrote it, because then it is always right!

That’s all I got for this week, enjoy your weekends!

Posted on March 27th, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre

15 Comments »

The Slow Death of Artificial Sweeteners?

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

Recently on the Precision Nutrition blog there was a review of some research on the potentially adverse health effects of consuming artificial sweeteners like Splenda. I am going to give an overview of the study and discussion and give my take, but if you would like a more in depth look strictly at the research, check it out here. I also recently blogged about antibiotics and their effects on intestinal flora, right here.

This research focused on the administration of Splenda to rats to see the effect on their intestinal flora. Though not identical, the human digestive system is not all that dissimilar from rats, so results from this type of work usually translate quite well.

There were several different dosages given along with a control group not receiving any Splenda. The lowest treatment group had an intake below the expected daily intake of a human, based on the rats bodyweight so the percentage of sucralose to bodyweight would be the same. The next lowest group was above expected intake, but still well below acceptable levels for health concerns. The last two treatment groups were above the acceptable intake.

The study lasted 12 weeks and had some scary results. In the lowest treatment group, well below even the expected daily intake let alone levels considered to be the anywhere near the upper limit of safe, the amount of good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tracts had decreased by nearly 50%! Even after a 12 week washout period where no Splenda was consume, that lowest level intake group still had nearly 54% less good bacteria than before they began Splenda consumption. This effect was seen at all dosages and only got worse as the treatment does went up. That is some scary stuff right there, doesn’t make those artificially sweetened yogurts sound so appealing now does it? Talk about self-defeating!

This destruction of intestinal flora can weaken your immune system and cause plenty of digestion issues. There was some other interesting points in the article about weight gain. The lowest treatment group actualy gained weight from the Splenda, as did the third treatment group. The second and highest did not. Odd, but one possible explanation is that the body has what Helen Kollias called “threshold levels of compensation to sucraslose” (the artificially sweet part of Splenda). That is why there was weight gain in the lowest group, but not the next as the higher intake caused a compensation of specific proteins to remove it, the next highest dose didn’t trigger a higher compensation so there was some weight gain seen there, and the highest dose reached a new threshold where the removal proteins were upregulated yet again. This is a double edged sword that Helen goes into more detail about, some interesting stuff.

In conclusion, we need more research, preferably on human subjects, but still I suggest resorting to consuming as little Splenda, or any artificial sweetener at that, as possible. Focus on real whole food, preferably local, seasonal and usually organic. I understand it’s not easy, but your GI tract and your immune system will thank you.

Posted on March 25th, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre

13 Comments »

A Slice of Tropical Heaven

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

After last week’s diversion from the norm, I am back at it again today with a fantastic food that is sure to stir up some controversy. Today I wanted to talk about the delicious, and incredibly healthy coconut oil. The organic extra-virgin variety. Just like with olive oil, or any oil for that matter, the processing makes a huge difference and we want it as unadulterated as possible. You could make that statement for all food, but that is another story for another day.

Some might argue that it is too high in saturated fat, blah blah blah. The fact of the matter is, there is little to no direct evidence showing a cause and effect relationship between saturated fat intake (especially a naturally formed, non-fried or damaged version) and heart disease, despite 30 years of science trying to prove it. Regardless, the saturated fat in coconuts is quite distinct, as it is made up of medium chain triglycerides. These MCT’s are quite unique as they are do not require bile to be digested (if you have had your gallbladder removed, you will appreciate this), they are more readily used for energy rather than stored as energy, and in coconut’s case, are made up of 44% lauric acid. This is significant because lauric acid is one hell of a fatty acid. Lauric acid is converted into monolaurin in the body and it is known to be antiviral and antimicrobial. There have been many studies demonstrating this effect, an example of one from Wikipedia:

“A laboratory study investigated the effect of monolaurin on primary and secondary skin infections compared with six common antibiotics.[14] In culture isolates from the skin infections, monolaurin showed statistically significant broad-spectrum sensitivity to both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial isolates, such as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus spp. and Enterobacter spp.”

Interestingly MCTs are used in the treatment of people suffering from cystic fibrosis, AIDS, cachexia and childhood epilepsy. Not only that, there are many Pacific Island populations who subsisted on a huge intake of coconut, their diets being anywhere from 35-60% of calories from fat (mostly saturated), they were found to be nearly completely free of atherosclerosis, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, etc. For more reading on that topic, I refer you again to the Whole Health Source blog. He covers it in great detail.

Shredded unsweetened coconut is also a fantastic food, high in MCTs, fiber, potassium and more, so eat your coconut! Though some recommed many tablespoons per day, I think adding in 1-2 tbsp is more than sufficient. In conjunction with the extra virgin olive oil, fish oil, flax, nuts and the fat from animal sources, I think your fat intake will be taken care of.

Posted on March 23rd, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre

8 Comments »

The Idiot Doctor

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

My title for this blog may be a little dramatic, but it is well deserved, and you will see that I don’t pull any punches on this one. It is a little long, but bear with me, it is one of the most important discussions I have ever had on this blog, and I feel it is necessary reading for everyone.

At CP we have a ton of high school athletes, most of whom are struggling mightily to pack on size. We encourage some of these clients to have a protein shake either during or after their training, or both, then the rest of the time I highly encourage them to eat real food. Now some parents get a little bent out of shape about the protein shakes, and we don’t make kids take them, it is just a suggestion usually given to kids older than 15 to help them reach their protein and calorie needs. I do explain to the parent, if they are willing to listen, that there is no danger from these shakes. Protein in a powdered form was once protein in a solid food form. Whey protein is merely a dairy protein that has been extracted, dried and powdered. It isn’t some dangerous synthetic concoction made from petroleum and bull testicles. I understand that these parents are just concerned for their kids welfare, and that is all well and good, if they really dont want their child to take it, we don’t force the issue. The problem really arises when the parents claim they heard these shakes are dangerous, from no less authority than their child’s physician. (If their is a pre-existing health condition, obviously that is an entirely different animal). It truly pisses me off like few things can.

We recently had some athletes who have been with us for well over a year see their physician. Well Mr. Doctor who clearly knows nothing about nutrition, and most definitely has no formal education in nutrition, speaks his mind about these “dangerous protein shakes”. This is akin to me telling someone what is wrong with their car just because I can change my own oil. I may know a thing or two about cars, but I sure as shit am not a mechanic. According to the athletes’ mother, “Dr. X was very clear to eat food, not protein drinks.  He explained about the toll it takes on the liver and kidneys which manifests years after the person has ingested the substance.”

Right. Physiologically this makes complete sense. Since we have researchers showing evidence that the body metabolizes high fructose corn syrup (a man made substance) exactly as it does sucrose(since they are off almost identical sugar composition), clearly a dairy based protein like whey would damage the liver and kidneys years after I have a shake in ways that complete dairy protein(whey and casein) does not. Yes sure, that follows. And where might I ask did this doctor find such inscrutable information? What research studies was he referring too? Absolutely none. There is absolutely ZERO research on healthy subjects showing ill effects from a high protein diet, whether from food sources or from protein shakes. If protein shakes actually lead to serious health complications there wouldn’t be hundreds of studies using them to test their efficacy, it would be considered unethical. We don’t do studies on human subjects using known harmful substances. We do know, from real research on human subjects that whey has actual health benefits such as: promoting weight gain (our goal), elevating glutathione levels (which in turn increase superoxide dismutase levels, a powerful antioxidant), and some types of whey, containing lactoferrin, can possess bacteriostatic and bactericidal activity against microorganisms that can cause gastroenteric infections and food poisoning. Not only has whey protein been shown to be safe, they are using specific kinds to prevent infection by food borne pathogens: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17293018?log$=activity.

Quotes like this are more ridiculous bullshit that come from nowhere. I remember in my Nutrition 101 class my ancient professor (I believe she was 88 at the time, no joke) mentioned in a slide that high protein diets can be dangerous. She went on to mention that there actually isn’t any proof for it, but that she kept it in her slide because it had always been there and that’s what she believed (and taught). It’s the same with the general statements about saturated fat and dietary cholesterol causing heart disease, a 70% carbohydrate diet being good for us, and that all vegetable oils are healthy(even the highly refined kind). We wouldn’t want to upset the status quo now would we. The American Dietetic Association is no better at giving information, since they are sponsored by big food industry and they wouldn’t want facts to get in the way of the needs and wants of their sponsors, but I digress.

And there we come to the crux of the problem. People, including doctors, regurgitating false information merely because it is what they had heard or what they had always said, regardless of the actual facts. It has been clearly shown in research and in surveys that physicians do not receive nearly enough training in nutrition to earn their degree, yet people continue to seek their advice, and physicians continue to give it, whether accurate or not. Physicians, by their own admission, are not nearly educated enough in the world of nutrition to give counsel to people, so why do they continue to do it? Who knows, but here are some interesting stats to prove my point:

  • When surveyed 85% of physicians were dissatisfied with the quantity and 60% with the quality of their medical-nutrition education.
  • In 1991 the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reported that of 128 US medical schools, only 23% (29 schools) had a required nutrition course, with an average of <6 h of class time; 25% of schools failed to offer any formal nutrition education.
  • The AAMC raw data for the 1997–1998 academic year reported that 26% of schools had a required nutrition course whereas 25% of schools still did not require or could not quantify nutrition education in their programs.
  • This is sad.

A little more food for thought, the results and discussion from one of the studies given below:

In its 1985 survey, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) found that, overall, an average of 21 h of nutrition instruction was required in medical schools, but only 34 of the surveyed US medical schools (27%) had a separate, required nutrition course (3). The NAS report concluded that “Nutrition education programs in US medical schools are largely inadequate to meet the present and future demands of the medical profession.” This report has been called groundbreaking because it was the first comprehensive and systematic assessment of the status of nutrition education at medical schools that helped to identify the deficiencies. Publication of the report prompted the inclusion of medical education in the National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act of 1990 and emphasized the need for physicians to be educated on nutrition topics. Patients routinely seek physicians’ guidance about diet, and the relation of nutrition to the prevention and treatment of disease is well known. However, practicing physicians continually rate their nutrition knowledge and skills as inadequate (5). It also is no surprise that more than one-half of graduating medical students report that the time dedicated to nutrition instruction is inadequate

According to the 106 respondents of a 2004 survey, the curricula of 99 schools (93%) provided required nutrition instruction. Five schools (5%) offered optional instruction only, and another 2 (2%) reported that they did not offer any nutrition instruction. The schools requiring nutrition instruction provided an average of 23.9 (range: 2–70) contact hours. Remarkably, less than one-half (41%) of the responding schools provided the minimum 25 h or more recommended by the NAS in 1985 (3). Also surprising was the finding that 17 schools (18%) required only ≤10 h of nutrition instruction.

An overwhelming majority (93/106, or 88%) of instructors indicated that students at their medical schools need more nutrition instruction, whereas only 8/106 (8%) said that they did not. Six of these 8 were at schools offering much more than the national average number of nutrition hours. The remaining 4% of schools responded that they did not know whether their students needed more nutrition instruction.

Is the national average of 23.9 h found in our survey adequate to properly train future physicians about nutrition? We realize that the definition of adequate is open to interpretation, but we used 2 major recommendations reported in the literature as a benchmark. The current 23.9 h fall just short of the NAS 1985 minimum recommendation and far short of the American Society for Clinical Nutrition (ASCN) 1989 recommendations. The ASCN recommendations were based on a survey of curriculum administrators and nutrition educators; the former group suggested 37 h (median: 32), whereas the latter suggested 44 h (median: 40) be devoted to nutrition instruction (9).

By either criterion, less than one-half of the surveyed medical schools (41%) provided the minimum of 25 h of medical nutrition education; compared with the later recommendations of 37–44 h, the percentage of schools meeting the recommendation falls below 20%. This means that roughly 60–80% of schools are teaching far less nutrition than is recommended. In addition, nutrition education typically occurs during the first 2 y of medical school when the basic sciences are being emphasized; nutrition does not appear to get much emphasis during the clinical years when nutrition concepts and skills could be applied more directly to clinical problem-solving. Because the number of schools requiring a nutrition course (32 versus 34) and the overall number of hours of nutrition teaching (23.9 versus 21) has changed little over the past 2 decades, it is not surprising that most medical students continue to assess the time devoted to nutrition as inadequate. From our surveys, it seems that instructors are even more dissatisfied with the hours of nutrition in the curriculum than medical students are. Thus, it appears that we are producing a pool of physicians who feel largely unprepared to counsel their patients about nutrition (6, 1012) and to make appropriate clinical decisions on nutrition-related issues. Surveys in the literature show that practicing physicians feel inappropriately prepared to address the growing problem of obesity, particularly in children (13, 14). With the rising epidemic of obesity in the US population and the knowledge that prevention is more likely to be successful than treatment, it is clearly imperative to ensure that medical students are adequately prepared.

There are many famed medical doctors, Dr. Michael Eades comes to mind, who clearly state that classically trained physicians are completely unprepared to offer nutrition advice unless they are willing to seek out nutrition information, attend seminars, and participate in continuing education. So I urge everyone to stop asking their unqualified physician nutrition information, and actually ask someone who may know what they are talking about.

For more info, here are some links to some serious research on the topic.

http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/83/4/941S

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3717071?ordinalpos=9&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/72/3/868S

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15165973?dopt=Abstract

Posted on March 18th, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre

8 Comments »

Required Reading

Filed under: General Health

I know Mondays are normally about a particular food that is awesome and I tell you all about why you should incorporate it more into your diet. Today though, I wanted to talk about a book about food that everyone on planet Earth should read. You might have heard of it, it is kind of a big deal, and it was a best-seller. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. This may be not just the best book about food/nutrition I have ever read, but maybe, just maybe, the single greatest book I have ever read. Period. It is that good, and that important. If you do not have a copy get yourself one immediately and enjoy the utter brilliance of The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

Michael Pollan gives a complete and utterly fascinating review of our dependance on corn, and the negative consequences we suffer from it. Here is one of my favorite excerpts from the book:

Grain is the closest thing in nature to an industrial commodity: storable, portable, fungible, ever the same today as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Since it can be accumulated and traded, grain is a form of wealth. It is a weapon, too, as Earl Butz once had the bad taste to mention in public; the nations with the biggest surpluses of grain have always exerted power over the ones in short supply. Throughout history governments have encouraged their farmers to grow more than enough grain, to protect against famine, to free up labor for other purposes, to improve the trade balance, and generally to augment their own power. George Naylor is not far off when he says the real beneficiary of his crop is not America’s eaters but its military-industrial complex. In an industrial economy, the growing of grain supports the larger economy: the chemical and biotech industries, the oil industry, Detroit, pharmaceuticals (without which they couldn’t keep the animals healthy in CAFOs), agribusiness, and the balance of trade. Growing corn helps drive the very industrial complex that drives it. No wonder the government subsidizes it so lavishly.

You cannot say any of these things about grass. The government writes no subsidy checks to grass farmers. Grass farmers, who buy little in the way of pesticides and fertilizers (none, in the case of Joel Salatin), do little to support agribusiness or the pharmaceutical industry or big oil. A surplus of grass does nothing for a nation’s power or its balance of payments. Grass is not a commodity. What grass farmers grow can’t be easily accumulated, traded, transported, or stored, at least for very long. Its quality is highly variable, different from region to region, season to season, even farm to farm; there is no number 2 hay. Unlike grain, grass can’t be broken down into its constituent molecules and reassembled as value-added processed foods; meat, milk, and fiber is about all you can make out of grass, and the only way to do that is with a living organism, not a machine. Grass farming with skill involves so many variables, and so much local knowledge, that it is difficult to systematize. As faithful to the logic of biology as a carefully grazed pasture is, it meshes poorly with the logic of industry, which has no use for anything it cannot bend to its wheels and bottom line. And, at least for the time being, it is the logic of industry that rules.

I will admit this is a dense read, not for the faint of heart, but not dense in that when will this book end sort of way. Dense in that holy shit, this is amazing, and I have learned more about my food supply in one book than in 4 years of undergrad kind of way. It will mesmerize you and make you really think about what are seemingly simple food choices, and realize that they aren’t so simple after all. Utter brilliance. Honestly, reading this book will make you ten times more informed as a consumer than you ever dreamed possible, and will completely change the way you look at food.

Posted on March 16th, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre

10 Comments »

Friday’s Rant & Rave

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

Yesterday at CP I was speaking to one of our high school athletes who had recently returned to lifting after some extended time off due to illness. This particular client has an auto-immune disease that tends to make his illnesses take a slightly larger toll on him. He mentioned to me that he had been on antibiotics for over 3 weeks now, and his sinus infection still persisted, so his doctor was prescribing him some new antibiotics for another month! By the end of that he will have taken antibiotics for 2 straight months without a break. Over prescription of medications is a huge pet peeve of mine, and I’m not saying he doesn’t need it, but…

He also mentioned how his digestive health has not been tip top as of late (you know what I mean) and I asked if his doctor had mentioned he should increase his yogurt consumption while taking his medication. He said that not only had the yogurt not been mentioned, nutrition and dietary intake wasn’t discussed at all! This boggles my mind. How can a physician prescribe antibiotics, for 2 straight months no less, which utterly destroy all intestinal flora, good or bad, and not mention nutrition!

Intestinal flora is of utmost importance to health as we know it contributes to digestion and absorption of nutrients, prevention of harmful pathogens like E. coli and salmonella taking root, and keeping the immune system in optimal condition. Having that be completely destroyed and not mentioning anything to the patient about what they can do to prevent that really lights a fire under me. Especially a patient who already has an immune deficiency! You don’t need to be a nutrition genius to tell patients to consume more yogurt (at least one per day, preferably two) when on antibiotics. It’s not a cure all, but it will certainly help to try and keep the pathogens from taking root in your intestinal tract.

I have encouraged him to up his yogurt intake, actual yogurt like Greek, not fake Americanized versions, that contain a lot of live and active cultures for that intestinal flora. I also pushed him towards the Friendship Digestive Health cottage cheese for more cultures and for the inulin to give those cultures some food to attempt to solidify their hold on the area. It’s not a perfect solution, but it at least gives him a fighting chance to have normal digestive health while on his antibiotics and I wish more docs would at least attempt to do the same.

Posted on March 13th, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre

6 Comments »

In Support of Team Boston Medical Center

Filed under: General Health

At Cressey Peformance we are probably most known for training a lot of baseball players. And I mean a lot of baseball players. That’s fine, that is our niche, but we train a lot more people than just that sole population. We train football, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, rugby, triathlon and more along with plenty of regular joes who work 9-5. We even train the rarest of all strength and conditioning creatures, the adult female. For those of you who follow Tony’s blog, this may not seem like anything new, but even around the area people always seem surprised to see several women training in our facility.

The recent craze has been the sled relay that I have showed us doing here. The women of CP (or at least some of them) have joined in on the fun.

(That’s me on the floor in the blue pants teaching a new client how to roll with a batting practice ball.)

Anyway, the whole point of this blog is to bring your attention to one particular CP female client who can use your help. Steph Holland-Brodney, who was not in the sled relay but busts her butt every session, is running her 3rd Boston Marathon this year. Steph ran her first Marathon in dedication to her mom, who passed during 9/11. This year she is sponsored by Team Boston Medical Center to help carry on her mom’s dedicated service to others.

This blog isn’t about trying to pull heart strings, and neither is Steph. She wants to make fundraising fun, so in her own words here is how she describes her fundraising efforts. “I’m holding a little contest this year.  Not for how much you donate but for the funniest dedication.  See, if you clink on the link below it will take you to my donation page and when you donate you can write a message on my wall.  Last year I had some real winners but the best one was “In honor of Keanu Reeves.”  The winner of this “Write the funniest message on Steph’s wall” contest will win customized Steph Service.  Maybe babysitting, cleaning your car, vacuuming your office, making you a meal.  You name it.  If you live far away, I will make you a customized gift package.  So go ahead and donate now!  Over the past two years, I have raised over $10,000.  Let’s make my marathon career end at $13,000.”

So if you would like to make a donation to Steph’s cause, no matter how small, click HERE.

And if you would like to learn more about Steph and her crazy life, check out her blog.

Posted on March 11th, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre

2 Comments »

A Rare Gem

Filed under: General Health

A while back I wrote a blog about why I feel that fruit juice as a whole sucks, which you can check out here. I still do believe that fruit juice is garbage for the most part, but there is an exception. One fruit juice with tons of proven benefits and a great scientific track record is the fantastic pomegranate juice.

A ton of research has been done in Israel on the health properties of this interesting juice. Many people are jumping on fruit juice bandwagons, especially it seems acai juice, but pomegranate is one of the few with actual proven evidence. In a recent study of several beverages high in antioxidants, Seeram et al used ORAC values (a measure of antioxidant capacity) along with several other measures of antioxidant content, ability to prevent the oxidation of LDL (which we know from my blog on eggs, oxidized LDL is not a good thing) and total polyphenol content. Numero Uno was Pomegranate Juice, followed by red wine, concord grape juice and blueberry juice (acai juice finished 6th).

Other research has shown that pomegrante juice contains more flavonoids than grape juice, has 2-3x the antioxidant capacity of red wine or green tea, and that pomegranates may actually also have antimicrobial properties. Some more recent research has shown the daily consumption of pomegranate juice can actually significantly slow the progression of prostate cancer in men who already have it, pretty important since prostate cancer is the second most common cancer, to skin cancer, among men.

Daily consumption of pomegranate juice has also been shown to increase blood flow to the heart, reduce arterial plaque, increase blood flow to the genitals (a natural Viagra?) and possibly reduce total cholesterol. Most of these studies actually use POM wonderful as the source of pomegranate juice, a nice little tid bit to know that the most common pomegranate juice in the country is a good one. Another interesting side note, pomegranate wonderful is actually a specific type of pomegranate that grows very well in California and is, obviously enough, the source of POM wonderful juice.

Some of the research mentioned had patients consuming 2oz per day, some up to 8oz per day. Now I am of the mind that it is still a lot of fiber free sugar in any 8oz glass of juice. In my opinion, if you are healthy and already consume a lot of fruits and vegetables, 2oz per day is probably sufficient. If you are older and just joining in on the healthy eating bandwagon and have arterial plaque problems or large concerns over prostate health, 8oz per day is probably a better option. Hope you all enjoyed today’s food installment.

Posted on March 9th, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre

10 Comments »

More Friday Randomness

Filed under: Training

I had quite a few thoughts bouncing around my head that I wanted to share this week, so I am just going to cram them all into one beautiful post.

1. The FitCast host, and renowned misser of bench press attempts, Kevin Larrabee, is currently undergoing an interesting transformation. He is having Leigh Peele (more on her in a minute) be his nutritionist for a while to help him get ripped. After just one week Kevin is down 5.5 lbs and you can follow his fat loss experiment at www.thefitcast.com.

2. The great Leigh Peele, author of the Fat Loss Troubleshoot, has just launched a brand new website, www.FLzine.com, dedicated to providing unparalleled, spin-free fitness information. Along with some top-notch strength coaches, trainers and nutritrionists, yours truly will be writing for the site. I am pumped and look forward to really seeing this thing take off.

3. For those of you who read Eric Cressey’s blog, you may have seen the sled relay that we have had going on recently. Well yesterday I decided to join in on the action for the first time. I knew it was hard, I knew people had puked doing it, but that was simply the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. Seriously. Just watch.

I laid in that spot for 35 minutes and did not move. I have never felt so terrible, it felt like my legs were getting gnawed off by rabid hyenas. I know I looked like a pussy, but in all fairness that was all their 3rd time doing that God-forsaken relay, and my first. It seriously made me question whether I ever wanted to train again.

4. I don’t have anything that can top #3, so I am putting in a video of some of our high school baseball guys getting dominated by 3 plates and a 10. Lucky for them I wasn’t there to ridicule their performance. Just kidding, I am proud of them. Seriously though, weak effort. Alright folks, have a great weekend, enjoy the videos.

Posted on March 6th, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre

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