Exercising Keeps Your Age Down
Posted on 04.02.2012
By Gillian Scobie
10 ways to boost your immunity Maybe it’s not surprising that something that speeds up the aging process is called AGE, or advanced glycation end-product. The research is ongoing but there is strong evidence that glycation (from the Greek glucos (sugar)) is involved in degenerative diseases and aging.
AGEs are harmful molecules that are created when sugar sticks to a protein molecule. For instance, red blood cells are proteins that have slippery surfaces so they can get into the smallest areas of the body, such as your toes. But when sugar gets stuck to them, the structure of the protein is damaged, forming tissue that’s tough and inflexible and tears easily. Now they can’t move freely anymore and start gumming everything up. And I mean everything—these new toxic proteins end up in your brain, your nervous system, your vascular system and your vital organs.
Think of a rubber mat or hose that hardens when it’s left in the sun. In the same way, if a sugar molecule binds to proteins like collagen and elastin—the skin proteins that keep your skin smooth and young-looking—then your skin will wrinkle. AGEs also contribute to the brain plaque that causes Alzheimer’s; they collect in your eyes and cause cataracts; they also stiffen arteries and make the cells that line your blood vessel walls fragile.
Most of us eat three times more AGEs than our bodies can handle–every day. You probably already know what kinds of foods these are—yup, the barbecued, fried, grilled, and roasted meats you love to eat (glycation is the process that turns a roast turkey brown and causes age spots on skin). Hamburgers, French fries, potato chips. And bread, pastries, cookies. The more sugar you eat, the more AGEs you develop.
But of course you can do something about this.
Change Your Diet: Limit roasted, broiled and fried meats. Instead, cook with water. Boil, steam, stew or poach, stir fry, or even use a slow cooker to cook your foods. These methods cook foods at a lower heat and create more moisture during the cooking process. Water prevents these sugars from binding to the protein and fat molecules. Preparing food at temperatures less than 250° F minimizes the formation of AGEs. Use water when you cook and you eliminate the production of AGEs.
Follow these tips:
Keep blood sugar low with a real foods diet — This will reduce the sugar supplies available for glycation.
Eat vegetables and fruits raw, boiled, or steamed — AGEs cannot form in raw fruits or vegetables, while boiling and steaming introduce water to the cooking process. Water prevents sugars from binding to protein molecules.
Avoid processed carbohydrates and browned foods — Food manufacturers take steps to increase caramelization and browning in their foods to make them tastier, thus increasing the levels of AGEs in the foods.
Cook meats low and slow — Higher temperatures produce more AGEs than lower temperatures with longer cooking times. Rare and medium-rare meats will have fewer AGEs than fully cooked meats, like barbeque or well-done steak.
Drink green tea.
Exercise: Japanese researchers have found that exercise can help to reduce AGEs. Think of exercise as a way of throwing your AGEs in the trash. Exercise burns calories and also lowers your insulin resistance. As a result, it stabilizes your blood sugar.
AGEs reduce muscle mass and because sugar is attached to muscle proteins, their normal muscle function is inhibited. That increases muscle stiffness. So when you exercise you stimulate anti-aging phenomena, such as: increasing the rate of turnover of collagen in muscles and tendons; producing growth hormones; and reducing oxidative damage. Exercise can even reverse glycation.
And remember to wear sunscreen when you’re exercising outside. A lot more AGEs occur with unprotected skin.
Gillian Scobie is an editor and writer as well as an avid cyclist, runner, swimmer and cross-country skier in Perth, Ontario. She has a special interest in nutrition and how diet can help maximize the body’s energy.
Cycling Can Be A Pain In The Neck
Posted on 04.02.2012
Cycling can be a Pain in the Neck – part 1
By Mary Patterson
Cycling is an activity that requires the body to maintain a position of prolonged back flexion, placing greater demands on the neck. As a result, neck pain is one of the most common complaints experienced by cyclists. Does this sound familiar? You are only half way through your ride and your neck and upper trapezius start to tighten up and ache. You shift your position around to provide some relief, but by the end of your ride, your neck is really aching, and you have a hard time shoulder checking.
Many cyclists think this is a normal consequence of cycling, a sacrifice you have to make in order to ride a bike. But neck pain while cycling is not normal. Cycling should be a comfortable and enjoyable activity. Neck pain on your bike, is a warning sign that your position on your bike is creating undue stress on your neck and should be corrected.
Neck pain can lead to an overuse injury. Micro-trauma to tissue, caused by repetitive sub-maximal loading, without adequate rest, can lead to damaging inflammation and a clinical injury. When referring to neck pain in this article, it will include the neck, the upper trapezius and the muscles between the shoulder blades. Cycling-induced neck and shoulder pain can also cause headaches and tingling in the hands.
Here are a number of causes of neck pain, followed by their solutions to eliminate and prevent it.
The main cause of neck pain is poor posture. Sometimes it is simply a bad habit, left over from your day job sitting at your desk, that needs to be corrected. But more often it is the result of a poor position on your bike that is causing poor posture. Your goal on your bike, and anywhere for that matter, is to maintain a good neutral spine posture. This is the position where there is the least strain on your joints and the least amount of muscle work. Poking your chin forwards and hyperextending your neck places uncomfortable stress on the posterior joints in your neck, particularly if sustained for a long period of time. Overusing cervical extensors and upper trapezius muscles will lead to painful fatigue.
Tips for Good Posture
Keep your chest up and your chin down. Think of maintaining as straight a line as possible through your spine.
Shoulders should be relaxed, not hunched up to your ears.
Elbows should be unlocked, not collapsed, allowing a slight bend in your elbows to act as shock absorbers.
Look only a safe distance ahead down the road. You don’t need to see the clouds, only the potholes and other hazards in front of you.
Change your hand position regularly to reduce muscle fatigue.
Regularly stretch your neck during more relaxed parts of your ride.
The body makes contact with the bike at three points: the pedals, the saddle and the handlebars. Improper position of the seat and handlebars can place abnormal stress on the neck and shoulders. When everything on your bike is in the correct position, this neutral spine posture should be more natural and effortless. Here are a number of bike fitting faults that can cause neck pain.
Drop is too Low
The handlebars are set too low, relative to your seat height. In this position, if you need to crane your neck to see down the road, you will be forcing your neck into an overextended position. This can be even more of a problem when riding in lower aerobars. Over time this position will create joint strain from the sustained poor posture. The cervical extensor muscles which hold your head up will fatigue with prolonged use. Over time, this will lead to uncomfortable neck pain.
Raise your stem or change to a steeper angled stem.
As this is one of the most common position faults, many people jump to this conclusion when trying to address neck pain. But there are many more fitting faults that cause neck pain that get overlooked.
Saddle Tilt is too Nose Down
A saddle that is tilted too nose down will cause you to slide off the front of your saddle and you will place more weight on your hands to hold yourself up. Your upper trapezius and shoulder muscles will work unnecessarily hard to support your weight, leading to early fatigue and pain.
The saddle tilt should be either slightly nose down (1 degree) or level for a more upright rider.
Saddle Tilt is too Nose Up
A saddle that is too nose up will cause your pelvis and back to go into a poor slouched posture to avoid discomfort in the crotch area. Poor back posture will continue up the entire spine causing a poking chin, which in turn will strain the neck.
Correct the saddle tilt as described above.
An uncomfortable saddle will cause you to sit in poor posture, resulting in neck pain over time.
Your saddle can affect how the whole bike feels below and above it.
Buy a comfortable saddle that suits YOU.
In our next issue Mary covers how handlebar position, helmets and glasses can contribute to neck problems.
Mary Paterson is a physiotherapist and a certified bike fit professional. An avid road