Dr. David Suzuki calls the blueberry “Canada’s national plant.” Wild blueberries have been growing here forever, harvested from Newfoundland to the Yukon these little gems are considered a ‘Super Food’.
A 100g (4 oz) of wild blueberries contain as much antioxidant as five servings of other fruits and vegetables. Along with boasting high antioxidant factors, wild blueberries have also been beneficial in:
· memory loss reversal
· lowering cholesterol
· prevention of urinary tract infections
· promoting healthy aging
· eyestrain reduction & improved night vision
· reducing risk of Type 2 diabetes
· fighting neurological diseases such as Alzheimers
James Joseph, Ph.D., and his team at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston report that a diet of blueberries may improve motor skills and reverse the short-term memory loss that comes with aging and age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. USDA animal trials showed improved navigational skills after a two-month diet of blueberry extract. Although other fruits and vegetables were studied, only blueberries were effective in improving motor skills.
Research around the world has indicated that the anthocyanin content in blueberries may improve night vision and prevent tired eyes. Several European studies documented the relationship between bilberries, a European cousin of blueberries, and improved eyesight. Japanese researchers showed that blueberries helped ease eye fatigue.
A blueberry-enriched diet may protect the heart muscle from damage according to scientists at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and the National Institute on Aging. In this study blueberries appear to act as both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent in animal models.
New research shows that blueberries may support cardiovascular health. A research team at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada led by Wilhelmina Kalt, Ph.D., found that blueberry supplementation reduced plasma cholesterol levels.
Blueberries may reduce the build up of so called “bad” cholesterol that contributes to cardiovascular disease and stroke, according to scientists at the University of California at Davis. Antioxidants are believed to be the active component.
USDA Agricultural Research Service. July 2004; Food Navigator. August 2004
New research by Dorothy Klimis-Zacas, Ph.D., and her team at the University of Maine, Orono, concludes that a diet of Wild Blueberries may reduce risk from cardiovascular disease (CVD). These findings suggest that the consumption of Wild Blueberries could help regulate blood pressure and combat atherosclerosis. Studies show that Wild Blueberries have the potential to decrease the vulnerability of heart blood vessels to oxidative stress and inflammation in animal models. This builds on previous work by the Klimis-Zacas team, which demonstrated the positive effect of a Wild Blueberry-based diet on animal-model blood vessel function.
Total Antioxidant Activity
According to USDA research findings, Wild Blueberries are highest in antioxidant capacity per serving, compared with more than 20 other fruits. Using a lab testing procedure called Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC), USDA researcher Ronald Prior, Ph.D., showed that a one-cup serving of Wild Blueberries had more antioxidant capacity than a serving of cranberries, strawberries, plums, raspberries and even cultivated blueberries. Antioxidants have been linked with anti-aging, anti-cancer and heart-health benefits.
A common question that I come across from my clients’ is ‘what should I eat before I train?’ The core of this question contains two primary parts: What should I consume? And when should I consume it in relation to the workout?’
Let me first establish an important point. The foods you have been consuming for the days before a workout play a role in performance. When looking at the bigger picture the pre-workout meal is essentially fine tuning.
The goals of a pre-workout meal for your typical weekend warrior are:
- To prevent hunger, while avoiding any gastro-intestinal distress that can occur during exercise.
- To a small extent, fuel muscle glycogen stores if they are depleted from heavy amount of intense physical activity. I want to make clear however, that unless these heavy and frequent bouts of physical activity have been occurring (and therefore muscle glycogen stores are depleted), then the carbohydrates (CHO) consumed over the past few days will be used as energy for the workout.
- To a greater extent, especially for early morning workouts to restore liver glycogen stores that are depleted from an overnight fast.
- To ensure good hydration
- To include familiar foods
To fuel both muscle and liver glycogen stores, CHO are required. Your pre-workout meal will contain primarily CHO. This can come in the form of breads, rice, fruits, yams and vegetables. Liquids such as juice, a CHO based sports drink or a juice based smoothie are also good options. Include at a least one to two glasses of water with this meal.
The timing of this meal is crucial. A pre workout meal can be consumed anywhere 30min to 4 hours prior. A simple rule of thumb is, the heavier the meal the longer the gap should be between the meal and the workout.
For example, a heavy (but nutritious) pasta meal with a tomato based sauce may be consumed about 2-3 hours earlier, as would a meal containing a small serving of meat with vegetables, potatoes or yams.
A sandwich, on multi grain bread containing salad, a small amount of meat with a side of soup (non-cream based) could safely be eaten 1-2 hours earlier.
A glass of juice, a juice based smoothie or a nutritious sports drink can be consumed as early as 30 min prior to the session. Milk based smoothies are fine if the individual is conditioned to consuming these.
–Rob Williams is a Vancouver based business owner in the health and fitness industry. He is an entrepreneur, health and fitness columnist, presenter, inventor, prominent downtown vancouver personal trainer, athlete, father, coach and mentor to many young athletes in the North Shore community. www.williamshealthgroup.com
“I’ve been eating well and training regularly, yet I’m not losing any weight!?”
If I had a dollar for every client that has said this to me over the last 20 years, I would be sitting on a beach in the Bahamas! Seriously though, this is a common concern among regular exercisers who notice positive body changes but continue to struggle to lose the excess body fat they carry with them. This mystifies most. To understand the reason for this, let’s consider the energy balance equation:
Changes in Body Weight=Energy in (food you eat) – Energy out (calories burned)
To cause a decrease in body weight one must either decrease the number of calories consumed or increase the number of calories expended. If the exerciser has been eating the same way and training the same amount they are not creating an energy imbalance. To lose weight, a change must be made in the amount of food consumed and/or an increase their current physical activity levels.
During physical activity, select exercises that will burn the most calories in the allotted time. Functional, multi joint exercises should be the emphasis during strength training. When doing cardiovascular training, ensure you are moving at an intensity that exerts your body by does not cause premature fatigue.
Next, consider energy consumed. Addressing the ‘calories in’ is not as confusing as fad diets and gimmicks make it seem. Every food item has a caloric value that is made up of any combination of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat and protein). Each macronutrient has a specific number of kilojoules (metric calories) per gram. The values for the three macronutrients are, per gram:
The only other substance that contains calories is alcohol, at 29kj/gram.
Bassed on the macronutrients’ kilojoules per gram values, you may want to begin by restricting fat and alcohol in your diet. As shown above, carbohydrates have the lowest caloric value per gram. Unrefined, fibrous carbs combined with a moderate amount of protein is therefore essential in a well-balanced, calorie controlled diet. Adjustments to carbohydrate intake should only occur after fat and alcohol intake has been decreased and protein intake closely monitored.
Consider these basic steps in controlling calorie intake and you will be on the right track for weight loss.