Monday, September 28, 2015

Ice Baths, Stress & Your Body, Cocoa & Your Blood Vessels

Now About Those Ice Baths For Athletes….  A tour of any collegiate training facility will likely reveal a couple of sunken tubs for post training or competition ice baths.  Recent studies corroborate earlier studies that show that those performing an active cool down had a greater gain in muscle strength and mass than those taking a 10 minute ice bath at 50°F.  

In addition, those cells responsible for muscle growth were stunted in their activity for up to two days after the exercise, following an ice bath.  Researchers now need to examine whether these results apply to those performing endurance type exercise.  More information here.

Bottom line:  you no longer have to feel guilty about dunking in a tub of ice "because the athletes do it".

Stress & Your Body A Time graphic

Time  magazine recently printed this graphic summary on the effects of stress on your body.  Stress affects almost every body system.  For example, stress can lead to less self control and poorer food choices.  Breathing rate increases and asthma can be triggered.  Click here.

Stress can cause higher blood pressure & increased cholesterol levels.  You may not be surprised that erectile dysfunction & stress are linked.  Ditto, type 2 diabetes, due to the increased release of glucose from the liver.

Irregular periods can also be the result of stress.  Increased muscle tension can be linked to stress causing neck & shoulder pain as well as headaches .  

Nausea, ulcers and severe GI pain can be a result of too much stress affecting the stomach.

If any of these affect you, its time to learn to relax more - exercise, meditation, hobbies, and deep breathing can help. Likewise, making better dietary choices, getting enough sleep and cutting back on caffeine and alcohol.  For more information, click here

From - cocoa increases blood flow to the brain.  It was a small study, but might be significant for those with cognitive defects.  A high flavanol drink (494 mg) increased blood flow to the brain for two hours after ingestion.  

However, you may recall that there is concern about cadmium being found in all cocoa powders that ConsumerLab tested.  Those that were low in cadmium also were low in flavanols.  Among chocolate bars, Ghirardelli Twilight Delight 72% had the best cost per gm of flavanol ratio. More information.

Bottom line - enjoy your chocolate, but don't expect a huge effect on cognition. The jury is still out & there's the cadmium issue.

No Sugar Brownies from Cheryl’s Cooking Blog
Less than 50 calories per brownie.  Website

¾ c nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
¼ c skim milk
1/2c cocoa powder
½ c old fashioned rolled oats
1 egg
½ c Truvia or another other natural/stevia based sweetener
1/3 c applesauce
1 tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt

Preheat over to 400°.  Grease a square 8x8 baking dish.  Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth – about 1 minute.  Pour into prepared dish & bake for about 15 minutes.  Cool completely before cutting into 9 large squares. 

New Product To Try  Mission San Jose High grad, Jason Chan, has invented a snack "bar" without nuts, diary & wheat. Jason is a high school buddy of my son, Scott Chong.  

The GoGoGoBars are quite tasty at 210 calories each.  The bars are actually packed in a light weight plastic pushup "pop".  They are available in chocolate & non chocolate flavors, and contain 8 superfoods that are loaded with healthy nutrients. 

Check out Jason's website at  He can be reached at  We'll try to get some samples at Mission Hills Athletic Club in the future.  (Full discloser: Jason didn't ask me to mention his snack bars, but did send me samples to try.  The grandkids enjoyed the bars).

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