Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Arsenic & Cheap Wine; The Best Biceps Curl

Arsenic & Cheap Wine?  Here's more detail for the CBS report on excessive levels of arsenic in cheap wines.  The list consists of wines tested by  Kevin Hicks of Beverage Grades.  Beverage Grades offers quality testing to wineries, and guess who stands to benefit if wine has to be tested for arsenic levels?  The website itself was set up by attorneys associated with the lawsuit so take the information on it with a grain of salt.

Some Comparisons  Most people’s first knee jerk reaction is that arsenic in wine has to be bad, but some comparisons need to be made.   
*Canadian standards are 100ppb in wine.
*European International Organization of Vine and wine are 200ppb
*There are no American standards for arsenic in wine; but EPA standards for water set in 2013 are 10ppb for 2 liters of water.  I don’t drink know many people that drink that much wine a day.

Where Does Arsenic Come From?
*Arsenic occurs naturally in the soil.  It can come from soil that’s been under cultivation for awhile due to past pesticide use.
*It can also come from bentonite which is used to filter wines.

Other Facts  Some other niggling facts that the CBS report glossed over:
*Kevin Hicks stands to benefit from the lawsuit and is the one marketing the testing service.  He was turned down by several wineries and went to the lawyers who found 4 “injured” consumers.
*The law suit claims 500% times the level found in water was found.  This is still 50 ppb, which is under the standards in Canada & Europe.  And the 10ppb is for water, not wine.  No one knows if it is valid to apply this standard to wine.
*The results have not been independently verified.  The lawsuit claims it has, but such verification hasn’t been published.

The Aftermath:
*Some testing by independent labs for retailers are coming up with much lower values that Beverage Grades.  Some are below the EPA standards.
*Doing the math, this Forbes article, notes that 2 glasses of wine “might” be the equivalent of drinking 1.5L of water at the maximum amount allowable.
*The story made the headlines due to the size of the retailers being sued.  These are the large volume sellers of less expensive wine, not the winemakers. 
*The grapes for less expensive wines tend to come from the Central Valley of California where land has been in use for decades, and has been exposed to arsenic containing pesticides.

Should We Worry?  Arsenic can cause cancer  as well as damage the nervous system.  It can show up as brownish green spots on the hands, feet & trunk as well as white streaks on the finger nails.  
There are also other foods with comparable arsenic levels – fruit juices, rice products, baby formula, shellfish, dark meat fish..

 For More Information This analysis on Snopes is interesting.  And for another point of view, check out Natural News.  The author has his own ax to grind but comes off as more creditable than Kevin Hicks.

No One Knows the answers yet.   As always, when there is no reliable data or recommendations are in flux, moderation in dietary matters, and a healthy lifestyle are the best we can do.

Footnote:  Experts expect the suit to be thrown out since there are no standards which have been violated.  Stay tuned.

What’s The Best Biceps Curl?  For those trying for bigger “guns”, have better looking arms, or just want to use their time the most efficiently, should take a look at this American Council On Exercise article on a study they commissioned.  The concentration curl beat out 6 other biceps variations.  It isolates the biceps so that there is maximal biceps activation.  To see how to do it properly, click here  And for a Shoulder & Biceps Routine that hits all the muscle groups, try this one.

©Fitness Spark Personal Training, March, 2015

Do You Fear Falling....Thinking About Balance, Preventing Falls & Osteoporosis

May is National Osteoporosis Month…

I recently spent a 3 day weekend at a large fitness conference.  The founder of this conference, recently had a trip and fall accident, fracturing her jaw and losing teeth.  This is a superfit lady in her 50s, so what are the rest of us less fit maturing Baby Boomers to do?  Prevention needs to start early, so the following information really applies to anyone over the age of 30.

What is it?  Osteoporosis literally means “porous bones” and is diagnosed when too much bone structure is loss, or when you make too little bone.  This results in weaker, more brittle bone, which can result in fractures from minor falls, or even sneezing.

Risk Factors  Do you know the risk factors for osteoporosis?  Did you know that over 20 million broken bones occur each year in the US due to osteoporosis? Its not just elderly women who suffer from osteoporosis.  Female athletes who train so hard as to lose their monthly period, and older men are also at risk.  Often fractures will be treated and heal, but the patient does not get screened for osteoporosis.  The National Osteoporosis Foundation would like this to change.

The risk factors  that you cannot influence, according to the National Osteoporosis  Foundation are:
  • Being over age 50
  • Being female
  • Menopause
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Low body weight/being small & thin
  • Broken bones or height loss 

Controllable Factors    These you can influence by your lifestyle choices:
  • Not getting enough calcium & vitamin D
  • Not eating enough fruits & vegetables
  • Getting too much protein, sodium & caffeine
  • Having an inactive lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Losing weight
  • Medications & disease can also cause bone loss, increasing your risk levels. 

Economic Costs – Some Facts & Figures
With 70 million Baby Boomers turning age 65 by 2030, fitness & medical professionals are starting to wake up.   The 85 years & older segment is the fastest growing population segment.  The direct medical costs from older adult falls in 2013, was $34 billion.  One in three adults aged 65 and older fall each year with 20-30% suffering moderate to severe injuries.  Annually there are 2.5 million nonfatal fall injuries necessitating an ER visit.  These numbers are expected to increase as Baby Boomers age. 

Its Not Hopeless!!  While one cannot prevent aging or randomness from happening, there is quite a bit one can do to be proactive.  As always, in an evolving field, the research is incomplete.   A little background first….

Balance – Or equilibrioception  is defined by exercise physiologists as the physiologic ability to keep yourself upright when walking or standing still.  It’s not just one body system that can be labeled “balance”.  Many body systems work together to keep us vertical.

Balance – Or equilibrioception, which is defined by exercise physiologists as the physiologic ability to keep yourself upright when walking or standing still.
It’s not just one body system that can be labeled “balance”.  Many body systems work together to keep us vertical.

First there’s the eyes or visual system.  Then there are the ears or vestibular system.  These two work together to help us keep objects in focus when our head is moving.  If you’ve ever had a problem with your inner ears or vestibular system, you know that you may lose your balance easily. And if you’ve ever walked down a dark hallway, you may have also noticed that your body moves less surely when you aren’t sure what’s ahead.

There’s also proprioception, which is our body’s sense of where we are in space.  Nerve endings in our feet and skin send messages to the brain which work with our muscles and bones, to adjust body position to movement.  These tend to deteriorate as we age but practicing balance has been shown to help.   Brain surgery, Meniere’s disease, an ear infection, blows to the head or a bad head cold can also disrupt one’s sense of balance.  Dizziness, disorientation and nausea can follow, perhaps precipitating a fall.

Adapt a Healthy lifestyle Fall prevention starts with a healthy lifestyle.  Proper diet, avoiding smoking & too much alcohol, and improving muscle strength, endurance, as well as flexibility all can have beneficial effects.  Since fractures are an adverse outcome to falls, maintaining healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis should be a priority for older adults & professionals who work with them. 

Put It In The Bank  We have maximal bone density in our thirties.  After about age 35, we start to lose more bone than we can build.  We start drawing from our calcium bank, so to speak.    By age 60, if we do not exercise and eat calcium rich diets, we can lose up to 30% of our bone mass.  Attention to diet, calcium intake and exercise should start in the early decades.  Since osteoporosis is a silent condition until a fracture occurs, one needs to pay attention to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

A Healthy Diet with adequate levels of calcium, Vitamin D, and other bone building nutrient is important.  Find out what those levels are here in this CDC fact sheet.   

Exercise – it is the pull of muscle against bones that keep the bones strong.  Use it or lose it definitely applies here.  The exercise should be weight bearing & muscle strengthening.  Resistance exercise of any kind – whether the resistance is provided by actual weights such as dumbbells, machines, elastic resistance such as tubing or bands or even body weight work the best to build muscle and therefore bone.  Although it may seem like it's impossible to stem the progress of osteoporosis, I have had clients maintain their bone densities and even improve them slightly with a regular resistance training program.

Weight bearing exercise also includes dancing, hiking, high impact aerobics, jogging, running, jump rope, stair climbing & tennis.  Lower impact exercise would be to use an elliptical trainer, perform low impact aerobics, or fast walking on a treadmill or outdoors.  Swimming & biking don’t quality, I’m afraid, as providing enough resistance.

How Much Exercise Do You Need?  In general, weight bearing exercise should be performed for 30 minutes most days of the week.  Muscle building exercise is recommended 2 or 3 times a week.  Balance, posture & functional exercise can be done every day.  Here are some exercise examples that can be done at home.
Many exercise physiologists are now providing Fall Prevention classes but a class that encompasses all the facets of balance are still difficult to find.   I have taught such a class at senior retirement facilities and locally at  Mission Hills Athletic Club .   My classes contain the following elements to provide a well rounded progressive program.

Posture & Flexibility Development – poor posture and limited range of motion can contribute to falls.  It has been found particularly that maintaining ankle flexibility & hip abductor/adductor is important.

Functional Exercises – help with how you move in every day living.  Can you still stand on one leg to put on your pants?  Can you get up out of chair or climb a set of stairs easily?  Can you lift your knee/leg high enough to avoid tripping?

Balance Exercises – help strengthen leg & core muscles.  These should be both stationary (one leg stances), and moving (we don’t usually fall when standing still).  I like to incorporate various balance challenges (balance pillows, balance beams, BOSU, half foam rollers) on varied equipment and situations (one leg, eyes closed, moving, darkened room, carrying large loads, and so forth).  Over the course of 6 or 8 weeks, I am able to progress the challenges, and the improvement is noticeable both to me & my clients.  Practice is necessary so there’s always “homework” which can be worked into your daily activities with a little planning.

Strength Training  - strong muscles make all of the above easier, and help maintain muscle & bone mass.  We start by following the BEST protocol developed by Arizona State University and which is customized for you.

This is just an overview of a complex topic - several blog posts could be written for more complete coverage.

Better Bones & Balance   For those of you in the Tri City area, a new class will start in May.  For a free consultation, more information, or questions & comments, please contact judy@fitness-spark.biz.  For details on the class, which is open to the community, please call Christina at Mission Hills Athletic Club, at 656-2250.

Statistics  - World Wide                     ©Fitness Spark Personal Training, March, 2015.