IS ORGANIC PRODUCE MORE NUTRITIOUS?  (from WHFoods Newsletter August 2014)

As recent literature reported in 2006, “Organic crops contain a significantly higher amount of certain antioxidants (vitamin C, polyphenols and flavonoids) and minerals. Moreover, there is a lower level of pesticide residues, nitrate and some heavy metal contaminations in organic crops compared to conventional ones”

Recent studies, however, are finding even more significant results when measuring nutrients such as beneficial flavonoids in organically grown produce. Such was the case in a recent study by researchers at the University of California-Davis and the University of Minnesota, who analyzed the levels of two highly beneficial flavonoid-type antioxidants – quercetin and kaempferol – in dried tomatoes (Mitchell AE et al 2007). Flavonoids are polyphenols with not only antioxidant, but anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-allergy, anti-anxiety, anti-osteoporotic, and cardioprotective effects . They occur in virtually all plant foods and are associated, as one would expect from all their beneficial actions, with a range of preventive health benefits. Mitchell et al. found that certified organic tomatoes contained 79% more quercitin and 97% morekaempferol, compared with tomatoes grown by conventional methods!

The reasons explaining these results may at first seem counter-intuitive. Conventional farming practices have long used pesticides to protect plants from pests and have heavily doused them with inorganic nitrogen-rich fertilizers to enhance growth. The irony is that over-protection of the plants prevents them from producing their own natural protection against pests and infections, and inorganic fertilizers do not replenish trace minerals, which become depleted in our soils.

Flavonoids are plants’ own internally produced protection system against pests. While we think of them as a healthy addition to our meals to help protect us against disease, we don’t often remember that they actually do the same thing for the plants that supply them for us. Researchers have found that levels of flavonoids in the organically grown plants actually increased over time as soil levels of nitrogen compounds decreased – when they became in a sense, more nutrient-deficient!

Researchers at Kansas State University reported similar results when organic farming produced higher levels of flavonoid antioxidants as a result of the crops increased vulnerability to insect attack.

WHY THE TIME AFTER WE EXERCISE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE WORKOUT ITSELF (excerpted from IDEA Fitness Journal, August 2014)

The fitness paradox – Exercise causes consternation and elation, angst and joy. It can prevent—and lead to—illness and injury. Workouts can keep you out of a hospital and put you into one.

Exercise scientists have investigated this paradox extensively and have concluded that exercise alone is not the problem. The real issue is too much exercise and not enough rest. The science tells us that the quality of rest from a workout is as important as the quality of the workout.

Most fitness professionals agree that training improves health and physical performance. The problem is that improving our physical performance requires us to add new stressors that stimulate the body’s physiology to change. Workouts have to challenge homeostasis—the internal balance of all the physiological processes at the chemical, molecular and tissular levels. Exercise stressors alert the body that more strength, speed and cardiovascular fitness will be needed to survive in a new and challenging environment.

A new workout deliberately damages muscle contractile tissue, causing a short-term reduction in strength, speed and oxygen delivery. Inflammation and immune system hormones and chemicals begin circulating to minimize and repair the damage. Swelling and muscle soreness complete the process (Flores et al. 2011; Tiidus 2008).

An exercise challenge can dramatically alter homeostasis and put the body into allostasis, a disrupted, out-of-balance physiological state. A reasonable workout that matches an exerciser’s condition and ability and that follows specific recovery protocols will trigger an adaptive process that enables the body to heal, rebuild, and achieve a higher level of conditioning.

As fitness increases, new blood vessels and muscle fibers connect to improved neuromuscular pathways. An adapted metabolic chemical-response system is designed to stay in check the next time a similar challenge is attempted. These are the positives of exercise.

If a workout is too strenuous or prolonged for the condition and ability of the exerciser, and no recovery protocols are followed, the body stays allostatic for much longer than it should. That can lead to injuries—the negatives of exercise.

Proper recovery is designed to minimize accumulation of the byproducts of physical stressors from workouts. It also accounts for byproducts from mental, emotional and environmental stressors in the exerciser’s life.  There are several ways to insure proper recovery; two of them are listed below.

Sleep—the Ultimate Recovery

Sleep lets the body recover and repair. Studies say the recommended 7–9 hours of sleep is critical for biochemical balance, raising levels of substances like growth hormone—a primary muscle-repair agent—and reducing inflammatory chemicals like cortisol, IL-6 and TNF-a

Sleep enhances the muscle-building effect of exercise by increasing protein synthesis and helping the nervous system return to a more relaxed, parasympathetic state. Sleep also boosts immune function, which leads to optimal recovery of muscle tissue.

Nutrition: Fueling Recovery

  • Improving strength, speed, endurance and power requires an adequate balance of nutrients from carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Each has a specific role in improving performance, from fueling and recovering from workouts (carbohydrates and fats) to building and rebuilding muscle tissue (proteins).
  • Consuming more vegetables and fruits and other foods like omega-3 fats that can reduce inflammation is important to exercisers who are altering their internal physiology every day.
  • Strenuous workouts create the inflammation known as acidosis, which corrodes muscles. Basic nutrition needs to be adjusted to help balance the body’s internal pH and reduce acidosis inflammation.
  • Eating the foods mentioned in the second bullet point assists in restoring balance because nutrients that contribute to healing tend to be more alkaline in nature and help bring the body’s natural pH to proper levels.
  • Refueling for recovery is complicated by the fact that so many athletes and exercisers are trying to lose or maintain weight. Calorie reduction can become an additional stressor on bodily systems that ends up decreasing exercise performance, disrupting hormone response to nutrition, and slowing metabolic processes.

FREE WALKING CLINIC WILL CONTINUE THROUGH SEPTEMBER – WEDNESDAYS AT 6:00PM – GILLSON PARK – We meet at the west entrance to the tennis courts.