What are strengthening physical exercises?(Part 3)

Muscle groups and their corresponding functions

Calf muscles [1,2]

When you are talking about the calf muscles, you are actually referring to: (1) the gastrocnemius, and (2) the soleus muscles. Both of them are located at the back of your lower legs, and play important role when you walk, run, jump, and stand at the balls of your feet. These two muscles are attached to your heel bone by the so-called Achilles tendon.When you overwork your Achilles tendon, you will have inflammation on it, and this is called tendinitis[1].

Strengthening exercises for the calf muscles using body weight

Toe raises[2]

Face the wall and place one hand against it to support you. Slowly raise your whole body on your toes then slowly return your heel to the floor. Perform two or three sets of 10 to 20 toe raises. In between, you can have a 1-minute rest. As your legs get stronger, you can hold additional weights in your hands or place barbell over your shoulders behind the neck to increase the resistance[2].

Hamstrings[1,2]

The hamstrings are muscles that occupy the back portion of your thigh. One of these is calledthe biceps femoris which is a two-headed muscle. One of its heads is attached to the ischiumwhich is the lower and back part of the hip bone and the other one is attached to the femur which is the main bone of your upper leg. The other hamstring muscles are the semitendinosus and the semimembranosus. Lumping the three muscles togetherinto one, their main actions are to flex the knee and extend the hip. In addition to these main functions, however, the biceps femoris is involved in the internal and external rotation of the legs [1].

Strengthening exercises for the hamstrings using body weight

Hamstring curls[2]

Stand in front of a table or any other object whose height is at the level of your thigh and which could serve as your support. Place your hands on the supporting table and bend backward your one leg at the knee, maintaining that your thigh is still aligned with your upper body. Slowly raise your foot towards your buttocks as far as you can and slowly return to the starting point. Finish two or three sets of 20 with each leg[2].

Back muscles[1,2]

The three muscles at the back are the following: (1) multifidus, (2)longissimus, and (3) spinalis.The multifidus muscle stabilizes and supports the spinal column. Thus, it provides stiffness to it[1].The longissimus muscles, on the other hand, flex the head and neck on the same side, and they extend the vertebral column [3]. Finally, the spinalis muscle extends and laterally bends the neck and the trunk [1].

Strengthening exercises for the back muscles using body weight

Back extensions[2]

Lie flat on yourfront abdomen with your hands under your shoulders as if you are about to do push-ups. Slowly raise your chest up using solely your back muscles and slightly assisted by your arms. As your chest goes up, exhale and pause at the top of the exercise. Go down slowly and inhale as you do it. Complete two or three sets of 10 [2].

Alternate extensions[2]

Lie flat on your front abdomen with your arms extended in front of you. Rest your forehead on a folded towel on the floor. Raise one of your arms simultaneously with the opposite leg. Maintain it for three seconds and then slowly lower it down to the starting position. Complete ten repetitions for each.

(To be continued)

References:

  1. http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/abdomen-muscles#seoBlock
  2. Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Strengthening. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:578-597.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longissimus

What are strengthening physical exercises?(Part 2)

Muscle groups and their corresponding functions

Abdominals[1,2]

The external oblique muscles serve as the cover of the sides of the abdomen. In addition, it helps in the rotation of the trunk and the spine. Serving as further support to the abdominal wall, theinternal oblique muscles are located beneath the external oblique muscles; thus, they also serve as cover of the abdomen at its sides[2].

The internal oblique muscles help in forced respiration, and aid in raising the pressure inside the abdominal cavity. They also rotate and turn the trunk with assistance from other muscles. More importantly, they serve to counteract the actions of the diaphragm[2], resulting in coordinated fashion of regulating the volume of the chest cavity.

The transverse abdominis is the muscle in the side and front of the abdomen. It lies underneath the internal oblique muscles; therefore, it follows that it is the deepest muscle in the front and side of the abdomen. Its main function is to compress the ribs and the abdominal organs. In addition, it stabilizes the thorax and the pelvis. It plays a great role when a pregnant woman delivers her child[3], by pushing the child through and out in the pelvic canal.

Probably unknown to you, there is a back portion of the abdomen, and one of the most prominent muscles in this region is the latissimus dorsi. It is responsible for extending, adducting, and rotating the arms[2]—aside from covering the abdomen at the back.

Strengthening exercises for the abdominals using the body weight

Crunches (Modified sit-ups)[1]

Lie flat on the floor in a supine position, with knees bent and your hands placed over your chest. Slowly raise your head and your shoulders around six inches off the floor. Remain as it is for two seconds then return to the starting point.Exhale as you sit up and inhale as you come down. Do two to three sets of 10 to 20 crunches daily. These exercises are intended and good for your rectus abdominis[1].

Reverse sit-ups[1]

Lie flat on the floor in a supine position, with knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your arms at your side and with the palms down.Keeping your knees still bent, bring your legs up followed by lifting your pelvis towards the chest. Exhale as you gradually lift your pelvis. You can do two to three sets of 10. This exercise is intended for the transverse abdominis muscle[1].

Pelvic tilt[1]

Lie flat on the floor in supine position, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Simultaneously tighten your butt muscles and your abdominals while raising your pelvis fromthe floor. While raising your pelvis, press your lower back towards the floor. Hold contracted muscles for three to ten seconds while exhaling. You can do this for three to five times[1].

Calf muscles [1]

The gastrocnemius muscle is found at the back portion of the lower leg, andit runs overits entire length. It is connected at the back of the knee and to the heel.When this muscle contracts, your lower leg is pulled towards the upper leg, causing bending at your knees. More importantly, this muscle plays an active role when you walk[2].

The other component of the calf muscles is the soleus. It is located at the back of the lower leg, in close proximity with thegastrocnemius. It is primarily used to push the ground when you walk. In addition, it is very important in dancing and running. To prevent you from falling forward, the soleus will contract to pull your feet against the ground, maintaining your upright posture[2].

(To be continued)

References:

  1. Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Strengthening. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:578-597.
  2. http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/abdomen-muscles#seoBlock
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transverse_abdominal_muscle

What are strengthening physical exercises?(Part 1)

Definition

Strengthening physical exercises are movements that you need to do repeatedly in order to develop and improve the strength of a group of muscles. The groups of muscles are abdominals, ankles, arch, back, buttocks, calf muscles, hamstrings, hips/groin, quadriceps, shins, and upper body[1]. As to which group(s) of muscles you would like to develop depends on your purpose. If you would like to be a good runner, then the groups of muscles that you need to strengthen are the calves, hamstrings, and buttocks. If you would like to firm up your abdomen, then you strengthen your abdominals. If you would like to have firm and sturdy shoulders and chest, then strengthen your muscles in your upper body.

Means of doing strengthening exercises

Using body weight[1]

In this method of strengthening exercises, you do not use any gym equipment and gadgets. You use your own body to do them. Examples are modified sit-ups, reverse sit-ups, pelvic tilt, ankle push, towel sweep[1], and many more. This means that you can do these exercises at home, without even going to the gym.

Using free weights [1]

In contrast to the exercises using your body weight, you may need to report to the gym if you will use the free weights. Generally, there are two kinds of free weights that you can use: (1) handheld dumbbells, or (2) the weight plates on barbells[1]. The need for gym in these exercises is not solely due to the availability of these equipment; more importantly, there are personnel in the gym who could guide you on how to properly use these equipment.

Using machines[1]

Using body weight and free weights will not totally strengthen all of your muscles. In addition, you will use some machines which are intended to strengthen other sets of muscles. Examples of these machines are the biceps curl machine, triceps machine, pull-down machine[1], and many others. When you visit the gym for the first time, you can look around and familiarize yourself with these machines. Each machine has its own use and purpose. Use it (them) if it (they) is (are) what you need. Thus, before using any machine in the gym, consult any fitness adviser around so that you could be guided accordingly.

Muscle groups and their corresponding functions

Abdominals[1,2]

The abdominalsare muscles located in the front section of your abdomen. Their function is to provide you with postural support, protect your internal organs located in the abdomen and pelvic area, and to allow you to perform some movements, such as rotating the spine, bending, breathing, and defecating. The most prominent muscles are the rectus abdominis, external oblique muscles, internal oblique musclesand the latissimus dorsi.The rectus abdominis runs downward from the sternumdown to the pelvic bone, and the external oblique muscles are located at its sides, running downward in oblique direction—hence, the word external oblique. Beneath the external oblique muscles are the internal oblique muscles. Covering the back is the latissimus dorsi muscle[2].POWERTEC

Figure 1.0.Diagrammatic illustration showing the major muscles in the front abdomen.

The rectus abdominis is activated when you do crunches because it is responsible for pulling the rib and the pelvis toward each other. In addition, it curves the back. In terms of bodily functions, it is very important during the delivery of your child, for bowel movements, and for coughing. When you have a bulging belly, the accumulated fat is lying over your rectus abdominis. Thus, when you do periodic physical exercises for the abdominals, the fats will be burned, and you will see the exposed rectus abdominis as a six-pack muscle[2].

References:

  1. Glover B, Shepherd J, Glover SF. Strengthening. In: The Runner’s Handbook. 2nd revised ed. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.; 1996:578-597.
  2. http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/abdomen-muscles#seoBlock

Symptoms that could prevent you from doing physical exercises (2)

The Symptoms

Fast heart rate

You will surely know when your heart rate is faster than normal. Others call this sudden increase in heart rate as palpitation, and lately this has been used to refer to this medical situation. If you have palpitation—whether taking place so suddenly or has been there for some time—you need to have medical consultation because, if you do not, your heart will suffer. In some people, palpitation takes place when they have taken a cup—or more—of coffee. When this takes place, all you have to do is wait until the effect of caffeine which is so preponderant in your coffee wanes, and your heart rate returns to normal. However, if your heart rate has been so fast for some time compared to your previous ones, then you need to see a medical doctor because you might have a problem in your thyroid gland, and you will need medication(s) to control it. If your heart rate is fast, refrain from having physical exercises because it will increase all the more if you do. Return to having physical exercises only once your heart rate is restored to normal.

Swelling of the legs

If you have swollen legs, it could mean a lot of things. Foremost, it is possible that you have kidney or heartdisease. Thus, you need to consult a medical doctor who will work you up and find your problem. By doing physical examinations, your medical doctor could immediately determine if you have a heart disease. More often than not, if you have swollen legs and you have a history of high blood pressure, your heart has been enlarged, and it is beginning to fail. In another saying, you are starting to have heart failure. Therefore, you are not allowed to have physical exercises for the moment, and you will need clearance from your medical doctor before you can return to the gym.

The other possibility is you have been suffering from kidney disease. Hence, your medical doctor will request you to undergo a urine test which is popularly known as urinalysis. Urinalysis is a very simple test, and it is very cheap. However, your medical doctor could derive a lot of information from it. If your problem is a simple infection, you will be prescribed with the most appropriate antibiotic(s), and you can return to the gym after controlling the infection. In some instances, however, the problem is irreversible or untreatable. In such case, you will be barred from returning to the gym, especially if there is difficulty in controlling your blood pressure.

Difficulty in sleeping

In some people, difficulty in sleeping is being experienced. Medically, this is known as insomnia. If you are one of them, then you need to consult a medical doctor because lack of sleep could cause accident while you are doing work out in the gym. There are a number of possibilities to consider if you have insomnia. Firstly, you might have anemia—a blood disorder wherein the number of your red blood cells is low. If you have anemia, your heart rate is usually faster than normal; this prevents you from falling asleep. Secondly, you might have a problem in your thyroid gland which could be hyperthyroidism. If you have been suffering from hyperthyroidism, your heart has been being overworked, aside from the fact that you have been experiencing insomnia. Hence, if you have been suffering from insomnia, consult a medical doctor at once so that you could be prescribed with the necessary medication(s). Do not insist on having your physical exercises, lest you will meet accident or aggravate your medical condition.

Definition of, and lifestyle intervention measures for, prediabetes

Definition

Prediabetes is defined as a medical condition wherein your fasting blood sugar is over the normal values, but you are not yetclassified asdiabetic[1]. It is therefore a stage wherein you are about to enter the population of diabetic patients. While it is true that you are not yet adiabetic, this is the right time to implement some intervention measures so that your medical condition will not get worse and will not be transformed into Type 2 diabetes mellitus, when the management is more complicated and more expensive.

To find out if you are a prediabetic or not, you can request your medical doctor to prepare for you a laboratory order for blood chemistry examination, wherein fasting blood sugar (FBS) is one of the tests. If the result of your FBS is between 70-105 mg/dl, then you have normal values. If the value is equal to or greater than 126 mg/dl, then you might have diabetes mellitus. If the value lies between 105 and 125 mg/dl, then you are a prediabetic.If you are a prediabetic, you can do a number of things so that your condition will not get worse—if not lowering your fasting blood sugar to normal level.

Lifestyle intervention measures

Engage in regular physical exercisesand burn your excess abdominal fat[1]

If your waist circumference is 35 inches or longer if you are a woman or 40 inches or longer if you are a man, it is highly probable that you have abdominal fat which needs to be shed off. (Consult Powertec 112, 113, 114, 115). You need to do some abdominal exercises and regular walking. If you would like to do some other forms of physical exercises that you enjoy, then do them! For as long as you can afford to do a particular physical exercise, you are not restricted to do it because as a prediabetic you really need to have regular and periodic physical exercises. By doing this, you will burn your excess abdominal fatand you will increase the competence of your insulin—a substance needed by your cells to pick up your sugar in the blood.

 

 

Reduce your weight if you are overweight[1]

If you are overweight, then you need to do some dietary and physical exercises programs that will lower your weight. Consult Powertec 20, 21, 22on how to implement these programs. Being overweight predisposes you to acquire Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Reduce your fat intake[2]

If you are a prediabetic, you need to have dietary modification which includes reduction in yourfat intake. As much as possible, yourfat intake is composed mainly of the unsaturated fatty acids which include both the monounsaturated and polyunsaturatedones. (Consult Powertec 63). You can take some amount of saturated fatty acids, though, because you also need them to maintain your health.

Increase fiber in your diet[2]

If you are overweightand prediabetic, it is recommended thatyou increase the amount of fibers in your diet. Foods rich in fibers are apples, peaches, plums, prunes, bananas, oats, barley, dried peas, beans, lentils, vegetables, brown rice, nuts, and seeds. (Consult Powertec153). If the amount of fibers in your diet is relatively significant, unknowingly, you will reduce the number of calories that you will take in every meal, thereby helping in your weight reduction.

Avoid simple carbohydrates

You need to avoid simple carbohydrates, such as candies, chocolates, cakes, honey, soft drinks, ice cream, and table sugar. Avoid putting sugar in your coffee. If you are very fond of fruits, avoid the sweet ones, such as grapes, mangoes, and pineapple. If you take a lot of simple carbohydrates, your blood sugar will immediately rise up.

 

References:

  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prediabetes/basics/definition/con-

20024420

  1. Pratley RE, Matfin G. Pre-diabetes: clinical relevance and therapeutic approach. British Journal of Diabetes and Vascular Diseases. 2007;7(3):120-129.

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/562039_8

The relationship between saturated fatty acids and cholesterol

Medical importance of saturated fatty acids and cholesterol

In the development of diseases of the heart and blood vessels, otherwise known as cardiovascularproblems, two substances take the center stage. These are: (1) saturated fatty acids, and (2) cholesterol. Their relationship on how they could possiblywreak havoc toyourcardiovascular system will be examined in this article.

Unhealthy alliance between the saturated fatty acids and cholesterol

Biochemically, saturated fatty acids promote the formation of the so-called very lowdensity lipoproteins (VLDLs) which containrelatively more cholesterol, and they are used by the body at slower rate than the bigger lipoproteins [1]. Since theVLDLsare not immediately used by the body, the cholesterol molecules that they are carrying willbe depositedin the peripheral tissues instead, leading eventually to diseases in the heart and blood vessels.

The strongest link between saturated fatty acid and cholesterol has been established by some epidemiological studies wherein it was found out that high intake of saturated fatty acids led to increased level of the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol[2]which is considered as “bad” because it brings and deposits cholesterol in the peripheral tissues, such as the muscles and blood vessels—among other organs.

To avoid the unhealthy effects of saturated fatty acids, therefore, it is recommended that they should be substituted with unsaturated fatty acids in the diet[1]. In Powertec (63), concreteexamples of the different sources of each type of fatty acid were written; all you have to do is to take more of the foods containingunsaturated fatty acids and less of the saturated ones.

It has to be emphasized, however, that total and absolute removal of saturated fatty acids from the diet is not recommended because if that is resorted to, you may experience some forms of chronic diseases which could be due to lack of intake of saturated fatty acids. There are different kinds of saturated fatty acids, and until now there are still questions on how each one contributes to the maintenance of your health. It is unwise, therefore, that you completely remove them from your diet[2].

 

Recommended apportionment of your food groups

To meet your daily energy and nutritional requirements—and thus reducing your risk of developing chronic deficiency disorders—the National Academies Institute of Medicine recommends the following breakdown of apportioning the different food groups as sources of your energy: 45-65% of your calories must come from carbohydrates, 20-35% from fat, and 10-35% from protein[2].

To give you hint on how you could implement the aforestated recommendation, it is necessary and highly recommended that you undergo blood chemistry examination, complete blood count, and urinalysis. You may consult your medical doctor, and request him to prepare laboratory order for you. Submit this order to any certified medical laboratory so that the tests will be performed. Upon receiving the results, you go back to your medical doctor for his prescriptions and/or advise.

Nutritionally, however, if the level(s) of your cholesterol and/or triglycerides is/are high, then limit your fat intake to 20%, instead of the maximum recommended value of 35%. In addition, as much as possible, that 20% of fat should consist mainly of the unsaturated fats—which could be in the form of monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats {Consult Powertec (63)}.

If the level(s) of your cholesterol and/or triglycerides are normal, your blood pressure is normal, and your liver enzymes (SGPT and SGOT) are normal, you can afford to take dietary fat at a maximum level of 35%.To help you prepare your diet, you can consult a certified nutritionist-dietitian. He/she can help you select the proper kind and quantity of foods that you need to take to meet the 20% or 35% of fat in your diet.

 

References:

  1. Murray, Robert K., Daryl K. Granner, Peter A. Mayes, and Victor W. Rodwell. Harper’s Biochemistry. Appleton and Lange: Stamford, Connecticut, 2000.
  2. Bruce J, Dillard, CJ. Saturated fats: what dietary intake? The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. September 2004;80(3):550-559. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/80/3/550.full#sec-17.

Nutritional guidelines to prevent heart diseases(Part 2)

Limit your intake of salt

As mentioned and discussed in Powertec 152, increased intake of salt during yourelderly life may increase your blood pressure (hypertension) because your kidneys could not eliminate as much salt as they used to be from your body. When you start to experienceit and it remains unchecked and untreated for several number of years, your heart enlarges, and you have what is called in medicine as cardiomegaly. When you have this medical condition and still you refuse to take the necessary medications or fail to take them, your heart will eventually fail, and you have the condition medically known as heart failure. You may die from it.

It is clear from the preceding section that too much intake of salt from your diet could lead to a heart disease; therefore, immediately after knowing that you cannot afford to take excess salt, you need to exert extra caution and effort in determining which food(s) to take and not to take.

Increase your intake of foods rich in fiber

Beneficial effects

Dietary fibers are substances present in foods which are not digested in your gastrointestinal tract (GIT). This means that they stay in, and pass through, your GIT without being digested and transformed into another substance. They remain as they are, without contributing any substance, vitamins, or minerals to your body. However, they have the following important functions:(1) they increase the bulk of your stool, leading to promotion of your bowel movement, and thus preventing constipation and colon cancer, (2) prevent the absorption of cholesterol, which is incriminated as one of the causes of diseases in your heart and blood vessels[1], and (3) lower the total food calories that you will take each daycausing you to lose weight and have lower blood glucose.

Since the fibers remain undigested in your GIT, they form greater portion of your stool; since your GIT is sensitive to the volume of your stool, the bulkier your stool is, the more your GIT will contract, and your stool will be finally squeezed out into the outside. Hence, if you have on and off constipation, taking adequate amount of fibers daily will help you overcome it. When you have regular bowel movement, the time contact between your stool and the inner lining of your intestine is shortened. With this, the chance that your food—which could be an unhealthy food—willinduce the start of cancer in your intestine will be lessened. Hence, you will be protected from it. In addition to your protection from constipation and cancer, fibers will help you avoid being overweight and having high blood glucose. These take place because more fibers in the diet will make you feel full from the food that you have been eating sooner than when there are no adequate fibers.As a result, you will eat less than when your diet is fiber-free.

Types of fibers

Although dietary fibers could not be digested, some of them could be dissolved in water, while others remain undissolved. Hence, there are two types of fibers: (1) water-soluble, and (2) water-insoluble. Examples of each type are listed in Table 1 below:

Food sources of dietary fibers                             (End of a series of 2)

Reference:

  1. Roth, Ruth A. Nutrition and Diet Therapy. Singapore: Delmar Learning, 2007.

Nutritional guidelines to prevent heart diseases(Part 1)

Eat foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol

The quantity and quality of foods that you take play a great role in the development of medical problems, such as heart diseases, andit has been established in several researches that foods rich in fatsand cholesterol are notorious and paramount in doing so. However, only the saturated fatshave been found to contribute in the development of heart diseases—and not all forms of fats. The so-called unsaturated, consisting mainly of themonounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are not incriminated as possible causes of the said diseases; therefore, they can be taken in moderate amounts.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance (lipid) which is either produced in the body or taken from foods. Biochemically, they can be formed in your body from saturated fats that you have previously taken in. This is the reason why you are often advised to limit your intake of red meat, such as beef, pork, and lamb, because they contain a lot of saturated fats. Another way of having increased cholesterol in your body is taking a lot of foods rich in it, such as quail and chicken eggs, animal-derived cooking oil, cookies and butter, and many more.

To help you avoid taking foods rich in saturated fat and cholesterol, every time you buy a packed food from a supermarket or a store, always look at the “Nutrition Facts”, and find out the saturated fat and cholesterol contents of the food stuff. Select the foods that contain the least amount of saturated fat and cholesterol. Therefore, it is not advisable that you go shopping for foods with very limited time to do it! Allot adequate time for your shopping, especially if your intention is to buy foods for yourself and your family members.

Limit your intake of salt

As you grow older, the capacity of your kidneys to eliminate excess salt that you took in from your diet is decreased. For this reason, you will reach a certain age wherein you retain unwanted salt because your kidneys could not eliminate them. When the concentration of salt in your blood is higher than what is normally needed, water which is normally inside your different cells will now enter your blood vessels, and this movement of water will increase your so-called intravascular volume—the blood volume inside your blood vessels—leading to increase in your blood pressure. Thus, when you realize that you cannot afford to take in more salt than what you used to do, limit your salt intake.

There are many ways of avoiding taking in more salt that what you need. Firstly, avoid eating out as much as possible. The reason for this is that you cannot control the amount of salt that is mixed in your meals in the restaurants and other establishments which cater to serving foods to customers, in contrast to what is cooked at home wherein you could instruct your cook to limit the amount of salt admixed in it. Secondly, if you are eating out and find out that the food(s) you ordered is(are) very salty, discontinue taking it (them)! It seems that you would be wasting money when you do it! However, it is good for your health, and it will prevent you from having your blood pressure increased! Thirdly, whenever you buy packed food, always look at the “Nutrition Facts”, and look at the salt or “sodium” content. Select food(s) with the least amount of salt—less than 7% as much as possible. Expect, however, that when you are buying processed food(s), that the salt content is relatively high; thus, as much as possible, resort to buying fresh foods and cook them at home—if needed.

(To be continued)

Health benefits from eating broccoli

Nature of broccoli

Broccoli belongs to the family of cruciferous vegetables. Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage are some of its close relatives in the said family. Although it containslow calories, it is rich in essential vitamins and minerals, aside from having significant quantity of fiber. A cup of the vegetable provides vitamin C equivalent to an amount coming from an orange. It also contains vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc [1].

Health benefits

Fighting cancer

A number of literature have claimed that taking broccoli willprevent the development of cancer. This effect is attributed to the substance sulforaphane which broccoli contains in high quantity. Based on research findings, sulforaphane could inhibit the enzyme histone deacetylase (HDAC) which has been incriminated to promote the progression of cancer cells.Hence, all foods containingsulforaphane could possibly impede the growth of cancer[2].

Based on epidemiological studies, apopulation who has been taking a lot of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, has low incidence of cancer. In addition, based on in-vitro and animal studies, it was found out that phytochemicals, such as sulforaphane, reduce the frequency, size, and number of tumors [3].

Improving bone health

If your intake of calcium is low, you will be prone to suffer from bone fractures. This happens because you at the same time have low intake of vitamin K which promotes the absorption, and reduces the urinary excretion, of calcium. If you take one cup of chopped broccoli, you receive 92 micrograms of vitamin K and 43 milligrams of calcium [2], thereby protecting you from bone fractures.

Looking younger

Frequent intake of broccoli makes you look younger. This is attributed to its high content of vitamin C which is a very essential antioxidant, fighting skin damages caused by too much exposure to the elements, such as the sunray andvarious air pollutants. When you take a lot of vitamin C, wrinkles on your face will be reduced and the overall skin texture will be improvedbecause vitamin C promotes the production of collagen which serves as the supporting structure of your skin. Unknown to most of you, broccoli provides 81 milligrams of vitamin C per one cup of the vegetable. Hence, good source of vitamin C is not solely confined to the citrus fruits[2].

Improving digestion and natural detoxification

Broccoli contains a lot of fibers necessary to provide bulk in your stool. With this condition, your bowel movement becomes regular, and constipation is prevented. Consequently, different kinds of toxins produced in your large intestine—and which could have been absorbed—are regularly eliminated, preventing the development of colon cancer which is attributed to thesetoxins[2].

Preventing the occurrences of chronic diseases

Increased fibers in the diet, brought about by increased intake of broccoli, will also lead to the prevention of coronary heart diseases, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, and gastrointestinal diseases. It will also lower the levels of blood pressure and cholesterol. Since adequate intake of dietary fibers will ultimately lead to decrease in your total caloric intake, your weight may go down as well, helping you to reduce your weight [2].

Cooking broccoli

Cooking broccoli is not that hard and difficult. After cutting off the heads from the main branch, you wash them, and you can start cooking with water steam. In short, the vegetable is not mixed with, and submerged in, water; rather, it is the steam coming from the water that will cook it. However, if you want to improve the taste, you can cook the vegetable with a little water, then add shrimps, or meat, or sliced squid which was previously sautéed.

References:

  1. http://www.healthyeating.org/Healthy-Eating/All-Star-Foods/Vegetables/Article-Viewer/Article/91/health-benefits-of-broccoli.aspx
  2. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266765.php
  3. http://www.phytochemicals.info/phytochemicals/sulforaphane.php

Basic principles in doing physical exercises[1](Part 1)

“Principle 1: Overload Gently[1]

This principle means that you can increase the load of your physical exercises as you progress in your program; however, it should be done gradually. If you have running program, during the first week, the best that you can do is merely to walk for thirty minutes each day or every other day. On the second week, you can maintain the distance and frequency of your running, but this time you can walk alternately with running. Hence, you can walk for a total of 15 minutes and run for another 15 minutes.

There are three factors that will determine the load that you could give to yourself. These are frequency (how often), intensity (how fast), and time (how far). In increasing the load of your physical exercise, you need to alter just one of the factors. As much as possible, do not change more than one of the factors; otherwise, you will be confused as to whether you are increasing your load or not. In the example above, by shifting from total walking to alternating walking with running, in effect, you are only changing the intensity of the exercise. The frequency and time are not changed! They remain constant[1]!

“Principle 2: Progressive Stress – Train, Don’t Strain”[1]

As mentioned in the preceding section, introduction of additional load to your physical exercises should be done gradually. By the same token, when you train yourself to increase your stamina, you should also do it in progressive manner. You may not know it, but your body has great potential to progress in its ability to tackle whatever amount of load that you will introduce for as long as it is done in progressive manner. While it could gradually adapt to higher load, however, it has also limits; hence, do not strain your body.Once it has reached its highest load, stay there for some time. Do not increase it further. You may decrease a little bit, but not so much[1].

“Principle 3: Recovery – The Hard-Easy Method”[1]

There are times when you feel good and strong after doing a certain set of physical exercises. For this reason, you are sometimes tempted to do it again the following day! For your information, that is not the right way to do your physical exercises! Although you feel good, you need to rest the following day and allow your body to recover from the previous workout. There are no hard and fast rule on how many days you should rest before you do your physical exercises again! It depends on what your body can afford to do. Therefore, you need to listen to your body. If you need two days to rest, then do so. Another option that you can do is instead of totally resting on the recovery days, you can do light workouts[1].

“Principle 4: Specificity”

The set of physical exercises that you do depends on your goal. If you want to develop the muscles of your upper extremities, then you do push-ups. If you want to reduce the size of your bulging abdomen, then you do sit-up exercise. If you want to give more endurance to your heart and muscles, then you can do running! For a particular of goal, there is a set of muscles to be developed and strengthened; therefore, it requires a particular type of physical exercise.If you want to join in a running competition, then your training should revolve around running! You cannot do swimming as your daily physical exercise or focus of training, then you will compete in running! Your type of training depends on your goal[1]!

Reference:

Glover, Bob, Shepherd, Jack, and Glover, Shelly-lynn Florence. The Runner’s Handbook. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc., 1996.