Wednesday, 31 October 2012

J.E.R.F

J.Stanton struck a great blow against nutritionism (and antinutritionism).  Two lines that resonated in particular with me were listed under the unspoken assumptions of nutritionism,
  • We already know all the important nutrients and their functions.
  • There are no competitive or synergistic effects between the thousands of chemical compounds found in one bite of real food. 
 The BMJ has just published a paper that illustrates these very points  With the objective '[t]o clarify associations of fish consumption and long chain omega 3 fatty acids with risk of cerebrovascular disease for primary and secondary prevention', the paper concluded,
  • Available observational data indicate moderate, inverse associations of fish consumption and long chain omega 3 fatty acids with cerebrovascular risk. Long chain omega 3 fatty acids measured as circulating biomarkers in observational studies or supplements in primary and secondary prevention trials were not associated with cerebrovascular disease. The beneficial effect of fish intake on cerebrovascular risk is likely to be mediated through the interplay of a wide range of nutrients abundant in fish.
Eat a diverse range of nutritious food.  Eating seasonal foods makes this an easier task.  Unless directed by a doctor, get rid of the supplements and buy quality food.  D3, potassium and magnesium are exceptions.

Save money and improve health; JERF!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Gut War

I've posted up loads about gut flora and ecology.  Your inner biome is critical to your health.  Whilst illness, injury and death by 'tooth and claw' has diminished, the threat posed by accident is ever present, and the danger posed by bacteria and virus is ever-changing. 

But with bacterial attack, the BBC reports that we should be equipped to fight back against some of the most lethal strains,
  • The gut infection Clostridium difficile can be defeated by a cocktail of rival good bacteria, experiments in mice show.

    When C. difficile bacteria overwhelm the gut, it can be fatal and difficult to treat with antibiotics.

    A UK team showed a combination of six bacteria could clear the infection.

    The study, published in PLoS Pathogens, builds on faecal transplant procedures - which are used to introduce competing bacteria.

    C. difficile bacteria live in many people's guts alongside hundreds of other species - all fighting for space and food.
Think about that last line!

RPT Wk4 W/O3

I've been thinking of pushing the pistol session (workout 2/3), in to a 5x5 template.  I think I am getting close to being able to work on multiple set of body weight alone.

On a bigger-picture scale, I think I need to think about wrapping up this cycle.  Things seem to be going well and a Wendler cycle will give me chance to recalibrate my maxes.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (35 minutes)
1. Handstand Variations (air squats + side lunges, front lunges + floor touches, front/side/turning kicks + low /reverse/spinning kicks)
2. Manna Progression (three rounds for time)
3. Deadlift (6/4x135/140, 8/6x110/120, 10/8x95/100)
4. Wall Walk (3, 3)
5. Backbridge (15s)

Shoulder Pre-habilitation
6. External Shoulder Rotations (12)
7. Internal Shoulder Rotations (12)

8. 321 (8L, 8L, 8L)/Bouldering

Weight: 80kg

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Guilt Free

'Free From' is a pernicious marketing phrase used to mask highly palatable non-foods as healthy.  'Guilt free' is an equally potent phrase.  I was listening to an interview with Sian Jarvis on Radio 4 the other morning and this latter phrase cropped up again in what is being generally considered a 'gaffe'.

Jarvis used to be a director-general for the Department of Health but recently left to work in PR/spin for Asda.  On the Radio 4 interview Jarvis unwittingly opened the window on commercial exploitation of 'Cash at the Candy Register' (which I tweeted about on 12th October).  The Independent takes up the story,
  • Sian Jarvis inadvertently admitted that two-thirds of the chain's stores are still "guilty," as they say in the trade – guilty of flooding their checkouts with confectionery. Critics say this encourages shoppers to overindulge on sweets and children to wrangle chocolate out of worn-down parents. It was during an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Ms Jarvis proudly announced: "One in three of our checkouts are what we call guilt-free checkouts."
 This comment was seized upon by the interviewer,
  • Spotting the statistic underlying the spin, however, presenter James Naughtie quickly highlighted the rather more embarrassing truth of the statistic. "If you're telling me that one out of three Asda checkouts are guilt-free," he said, "then by your terminology two out of three are guilty. Two out of three are guilt-laden and one is guilt-free."

What followed was an awkward few minutes of back-peddling by Jarvis.  The concept of 'Cash at the Candy Register' hinges on the cognitive burden place upon 'consumers' by careful product placement (for which we should read 'a parent with a bored child stuck in a queue at a cash register surrounded by chocolate bars').  The NEJM article concludes,

  • We need to test new approaches to risk reduction that do not place additional cognitive demands on the population, such as limiting the types of foods that can be displayed in prominent end-of-aisle locations and restricting foods associated with chronic diseases to locations that require a deliberate search to find. Harnessing marketing research to control obesity could help millions of people who desperately want to reduce their risks of chronic diseases.
 Follow the money.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Dose Makes the Poison

In Nature, Dan Fagin asks 'what if the Paracelsian presumption is wrong?',
  • "What if, for a large and potent class of compounds, lower doses pose higher risks? A growing number of academic researchers are making just such a claim for endocrine disrupters, a large group of synthetic chemicals able to interact with cellular hormone receptors. These compounds, which range from the common weed killer atrazine and the plasticizer bisphenol A (BPA) to the antibacterial agent triclosan (used in cleansers) and the vineyard fungicide vinclozolin, don't play by the usual rules of toxicology. On the basis of conventional high-dose testing, regulators have set maximum acceptable levels for each of them that assume all doses below that level are safe. But academic researchers who have studied a wider range of doses, including very low ones found in the everyday environment, say that their experiments usually do not generate the tidy, familiar 'ski-slope' dose-response graphs of classic toxicology. Instead, most endocrine disrupters have 'non-monotonic' dose-response curves, meaning that their slopes change at least once from negative to positive, or vice versa, forming 'U' shapes, inverted 'U's or even stranger shapes that resemble undulating Chinese dragons."
Endocrine disruption is different to conventional toxicology.   The implication of this arouses heated debate.  I will continue to 'live close to the ground' until it is settled.

Prehistoric Autopsy

A great program on Homo Erectus from the BBC!
  • At the Prehistoric Autopsy HQ in Glasgow, anatomist professor Alice Roberts and biologist Dr George McGavin continue their journey back into our evolutionary past.

    They are going back 1.5 million years to meet one of the earliest humans. Once again with the help of a team of international experts, this shows the recreation of one of our most successful prehistoric ancestors from the bones up. They walked the earth far longer than any other human species and were the first ancestors to look a lot like we do today. The species is Homo erectus and the individual being reconstructed is known as Nariokotome Boy.

    To make the reconstructions as accurate as possible, Alice and George have travelled the globe, gathering evidence from the world's leading scientists. In the lab at the Prehistoric Autopsy HQ, scientists put the latest theories to the test to see how similar or different we really are to our ancient ancestors, while experimental archeologists look for clues as to how they lived.

    All the research has been fed to a team of model makers who have spent months painstakingly reconstructing his skeleton, muscles, skin and hair.

    The team reveal the latest research that suggests Homo erectus were good hunters, were skilled at making stone tools and could probably control fire. They also look at evidence that suggests some individuals were helping those who couldn't help themselves. It may be the oldest evidence we have for something we think of as a human trait - compassion.

    And in the end the carefully reconstructed Narikotome Boy will finally be revealed as we come face to face with another of our prehistoric ancestors.
 There was a great analysis of a 1.5 myo burnt bone which it was determined, was burnt in temperatures of at least 350C.  Grassland fires only reach 300C so it suggests that the bone was subject to burning in a controlled environment - cooking!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

RPT Wk4 W/O2

Looking forward to this session!  No sure if I will aim for another OAC rep on the head-set, or extend the negative phase of the exercise.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (35 minutes)
1. Handstand Variation (air squats + side lunges, one legged floor touches + front lunges, front/side/turning kicks + hanging/spinning/back kicks)
2a. Pistols (4x80kg, 6x75kg, 8x70kg)
2b. OACs (4x65kg, 6x55kg, 8x45kg)

Forearm and Wrist Prehabilitation
4. Golfers Elbow Drumstick Rotation (12)
5. Wrist Push Ups (12)
6. Reverse Wrist Curl (12)

Weight : 80kg

Don't Lose Your Head & Stackelberg

I was spooked when I first learnt about acrylamide.  I've blogged about it before a couple of times.  Despite industry assurances, this really is something that you don't want to consume in the doses afforded by modern baked goods and snacks.  One reason for this is that it can, in sufficient doses, affect foetal head development.  And we are not talking implausible doses.  We are talking doses present in a standard Western diet.  From today's Telegraph, "Chips in pregnancy can cause underweight babies",
  • Consuming a vast quantity of chips, crisps and biscuits during pregnancy can lead to babies having a lower than average birth weight, the study found.

    Mothers-to-be who have a high intake of acrylamide - which is found in commonly consumed foods and coffee - are also more likely to have a baby which has a smaller head circumference.

    The size of a child's head has been associated with delayed neurodevelopment while lower birth weights have been associated with adverse health effects in early life and as children grow up.

    Babies born to mothers with a high dietary intake of acrylamide were found to be up to 132 grams lighter than babies born to mothers who had a low intake, researchers said.

Although a food frequency questionnaire has several flaws, these findings were backed up by analysis of the cord blood and the impact with regard to reduced birth weight may be on par with smoking.

Food manufacturers are interested in profits and will 'satisfy' regulation - but as with dopers and testers, the Stackelberg version of game theory shows us that the manufacturers will be one step ahead of what is harmless to our health,
  • "[Stackelberg] requires one entity to establish its defences first whilst the other conducts surveillance to identify weak spots. The notion of a sequential move, with the opposite entity responding to measures established by the first"

Ironically, regulation can help identify areas of legislation to exploit for weakness.  We are edge dwellers.

We've seen quite recently that products like popcorn can cause illness far beyond metabolic syndrome and this is yet another example of modern foods, disarmed of suspicion by their familiarity, posing very real dangers to health.

There is a growing call to advise pregnant women on diet  - but I think we know the answer - just eat real food!  Buy raw ingredients.  (And don't forget exercise).

Sunday, 21 October 2012

RPT Wk4 W/O1

Working the horse-riding stance for Lau Gar is starting to wear me down a bit.  I am aware of residual aching in my thighs.  I will auto regulate my workouts accordingly.

Captain Kid and Flash are still dragging me out every weekend to put some mileage in on the bikes.  This means my wheelies are getting better (the last kid-skill I really want to master apart from spinning a ball on one finger).

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (30 minutes).
1. Stairgators (1)
2. Planche Variations (25s, 25s, 25s)
3. Sprints (15s, 10s, 10s, 10s)
4. Rope Climb (3)
5a. MU to Ring Routine (3, 3).
5b. Scissor Splits (3x '2L, 2R, 2C') 
6. Weighted Barefoot Kill Carry (1)
7. Fingerboard Routine (10min)

Friday, 19 October 2012

RPT Wk3 W/O3

I've spent several nights this week with Captain Kid and Flash observing the International Space Station (ISS) transit overhead.  Transit times have been up to 5 minutes in length.  The ISS travels at 17,500mph at an altitude of 120miles above the earth, and makes for quite a spectactular event, particularly where it suddenly turns orange and disappears as it moves in to the Earth's shadow.  (For those in the UK wishing to get regular updates on ISS transit times and other space-related phenomena, I recommend you follow Virtual Astronomer on Twitter.)

Captain Kid and Flash buzz with excitement and awe each time we've spotted it.  They have both headed to school to spread the news on a daily basis (and to inform their class mates and teachers how they too could spot the ISS).  Times like these are really rewarding as a parent and remind me why I chase health (not youth or performance).

My last DL workout was quite rewarding and so again I am going to work technique.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (35 minutes)
1. Handstand Variations (air squats + side lunges, front lunges + floor touches, front/side/turning kicks + low /reverse/spinning kicks)
2. Manna Progression (three rounds for time)
3. Deadlift (6x135/130, 8x110, 10x95/90)
4. Wall Walk (3, 3)
5. Backbridge (15s)

Shoulder Pre-habilitation
6. External Shoulder Rotations (12)
7. External Shoulder Rotations (12)

8. 321 (8L, 8L, 8L)/Bouldering

Weight: 80kg

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Identically Different (Extra)

In Identically Different Tim Spector (Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King's College London) looks at the 'heritability' of various diseases, illnesses and other physiologic phenomena.  He covers similar ground to Nesse in The Epigenetics Revolution but in a less technical style.

As with all these books, what is of particular interest to me is epigenetics can uncover with regard to obesity, and in this regard, Spector comes down firmly (but not exclusively) on the side of food reward,

  • "...we believed that different metabolic rates and different types of fat were the genetic factors in why people differed.  We now know that the brain may be more important.  The first and strongest gene found so far is called FTO, and is expressed in the brain, especially in the key reward centre of the pypothalamus in the base of the brain (hypothalamus means under-chamber in Greek).  For some rare humans who have two copies of the variant, chances of being obese increase by up to 70 per cent.  Experiments in rats and observations in humans have shown that having different variants of FTO genes directly alter the chosen diet - influencing total calories and fat content of food eaten and man release oxytocin - the cuddle hormone.  Other forms of a newly discovered gene called amylase we helped uncover dramatically alter the wish for starch and fatty foods and influence obesity.

      Most of the other 30 or more genes associated with obesity found to date are actually expressed mainly in the brain, not the fat or intestines or liver, where metabolism mainly occurs."

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Identically Differernt

Tim Spector is Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King's College London and in 'Identically Different' he teases apart how identical genes do not lead to identical outcomes.  We are of course talking about epigenetics.

Much of Spector's work involves looking at the genetics of twins.  Twin can be identical (concordant), or non-identical (discordant).  Identical twins share all their genes while non-identical twins share, on average, about half. Factoring in the likely similar upbringing of twins the heritability of a particular trait or condition can be calculated by analysing that trait of condition amongst the populations of discordant and concordant twins.  The two main epigenetic principles are DNA methylation and Histone modification.

RPT Wk3 W/O2

To quote myself  "So it is time to up the weight and lower the reps for the pistols.  The first set should be free-standing bodyweight!  I also need to add more weight on the OACs particularly for that first set!"

With regard to pistols, as I am greasing the groove with HRSs, I will not add weight or reps this time around.  The OACs look like they are due an extra rep on that first set at least!

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (35 minutes)
1. Handstand Variation (air squats + side lunges, one legged floor touches + front lunges, front/side/turning kicks + hanging/spinning/back kicks)
2a. Pistols (4x80kg, 6x75kg, 8x70kg)
2b. OACs (4/5x65kg, 6x55kg, 8x45kg)

Forearm and Wrist Prehabilitation
4. Golfers Elbow Drumstick Rotation (12)
5. Wrist Push Ups (12)
6. Reverse Wrist Curl (12)

Weight : 80kg

Sunday, 14 October 2012

RPT Wk3 W/O1

I've been working my horse-riding stance for Lau Gar so my legs are feeling generally fatigued at the moment.  I normally brush my teeth in HRS so that is roughly two two-minutes sessions a day.

Captain Kid has also really gotten in to her cycling, and so much of the weekend has been spent exploring the roads and gennils/twitchells/jitties/alleyways of the locale.  We also spent some time riding around the local park where I happened to catch up with a member of the Bar-Zerkez and ended up chatting with him for a while.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (30 minutes).
1. Stairgators (1)
2. Planche Variations (25s, 25s, 25s)
3. Cycling
4. Rope Climb (3)
5a. MU to Ring Routine (3, 3).
5b. Scissor Splits (3x '2L, 2R, 2C') 
6. Weighted Barefoot Kill Carry (1)
7. Fingerboard Routine (10min)

Friday, 12 October 2012

RPT Wk2 W/O3

There is still something bothering me about my DL technique.  I don't think I keep my back straight enough.  I am debating dropping the weight and working my technique for a while.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (35 minutes)
1. Handstand Variations (air squats + side lunges, front lunges + floor touches, front/side/turning kicks, Low Kicks + Reverse Kicks)
2. Manna Progression (three rounds for time)
3. Deadlift (6x130, 8x110, 10x90)
4. Wall Walk (3, 3)
5. Backbridge (15s)

Shoulder Pre-habilitation
6. External Shoulder Rotations (12)
7. External Shoulder Rotations (12)

8. 321 (8L, 8L, 8L)/Bouldering

Weight: 80kg

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Stress. The Roots of Resiliance



Nature on the roots of resiliance.  Or to quote Humbolt again:
  • "I am more and more convinced that our happiness or unhappiness depends far more on the way we meet the events of life, than on the nature of those events themselves."
    Wilhelm von Humboldt

Memory

New Scientist gives some tips on improving memory which include diet and exercise.  There are no surprises with diet:
  • Everyone's memory fades with age, but your diet could help you to keep your faculties for longer. You would do well to avoid high-sugar fast foods, for instance, which seem to encourage the build-up of the protein plaques characteristic of Alzheimer's disease.
    In contrast, diets full of flavonoids, found in blueberries and strawberries, and omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish and olive oil, seem to stave off cognitive decline by a good few years - perhaps because the antioxidants protect brain cells from an early death.
 The impact of exercise, and intense exercise at that, is perhaps less well known:
  • Short, intense bursts of exercise may be the most effective. In a recent experiment, participants learning new vocabulary performed better if their studies came after two 3-minute runs, as opposed to a 40-minute gentle jog. The exercise seemed to encourage the release of neurotransmitters involved in forming new connections between brain cells.
 The abstract from the aforementioned experiment is interesting:
  • We found that vocabulary learning was 20 percent faster after intense physical exercise as compared to the other two conditions. This condition also elicited the strongest increases in BDNF and catecholamine levels. More sustained BDNF levels during learning after intense exercise were related to better short-term learning success, whereas absolute dopamine and epinephrine levels were related to better intermediate (dopamine) and long-term (epinephrine) retentions of the novel vocabulary. Thus, BDNF and two of the catecholamines seem to be mediators by which physical exercise improves learning.
 I'm a big fan of feats of memory.  I myself use the DOMINIC system. Feed your mind, work your body and your sole will grow.

Seizures

Ketogenic diet resolves epilepsy (hat tip to Escape The Herd):


What is frightening is the lack of awareness of the medicinal quality of diet.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Rise of the Machines

Who'd have thought that the motions of the heavens themselves could be captured in the gears of engineering? This is pretty much the coolest frickin' thing I've seen in some time. Hopefully they'll produce a kit for this sometime soon.


The Antikythera Mechanism in Lego from Small Mammal on Vimeo.

If this floats your boat then check out Michael Wright's Antikythera Mechanism.  You might also appreciate Kurt Hertzstark's beautiful Curta, and for fans of Lego, check out this Lego Babbage Difference Engine.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

RPT Wk2 W/O2

So it is time to up the weight and lower the reps for the pistols.  The first set should be free-standing bodyweight!  I also need to add more weight on the OACs particularly for that first set!

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (35 minutes)
1. Handstand Variation (air squats + side lunges, one legged floor touches + front lunges, front/side/turning kicks + hanging kicks)
2a. Pistols (4x80kg, 6x75kg, 8x70kg)
2b. OACs (4x65kg, 6x55kg, 8x45kg)

Forearm and Wrist Prehabilitation
4. Golfers Elbow Drumstick Rotation (12)
5. Wrist Push Ups (12)
6. Reverse Wrist Curl (12)

Weight : 80kg

Monday, 8 October 2012

Stay Curious

I was born curious.  Now I am middle aged, 'curious' is translated by those around me to 'in-crisis'.  If I can sustain my curiousity in to old age, I will be rewarded with a lable of 'eccentric'. Being curious is one of the greatest qualities you can maintain - and an inate quality that I cherish within my children.

You've got to let your kids explore.  They have to test their own boundaries - physical and mental, calibrate their risk taking, their judgement and so forth.  This can only be done by experimentation.  There is no failure, only feedback.  Education should light a fire, not fill a bucket.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

RPT Wk2 W/O1

I was at a wedding last night so the diet has been distinctly non-paleo - although I stuck mostly to red wine (with a G and T thrown in for good measure).  I managed to stay shy of both the Lagavulin (the 16), and Caol Ila.

It is a glorious autumn morning today.  We are blessed with blue skies and bathed in sunshine.  Looking forward with relish to this session.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (30 minutes).
1. Stairgators (1)
2. Planche Variations (25s, 25s, 25s)
3. Barefoot Sprinting (1x15s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
4. Rope Climb (3)
5a. MU to Ring Routine (3, 3).
5b. Scissor Splits (3x '2L, 2R, 2C') 
6. Weighted Barefoot Kill Carry (1)
7. Fingerboard Routine (10min)

Friday, 5 October 2012

RPT Wk1 W/O3

Training is going really well.  I am in and out of the gym quickly, and keep it intense when there.  DL day always sorts me out - and I will be looking to hit my maxes from the previous cycle.

I have some residual soreness from the weeks' activities but generally am in good form.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (35 minutes)
1. Handstand Variations (air squats + side lunges, front lunges + floor touches, front/side/turning kicks, Low Kicks + Reverse Kicks)
2. Manna Progression (three rounds for time)
3. Deadlift (6x130, 8x110, 10x90)
4. Wall Walk (3, 3)
5. Backbridge (15s)

Shoulder Pre-habilitation
6. External Shoulder Rotations (12)
7. External Shoulder Rotations (12)

8. 321 (8L, 8L, 8L)

Weight: 80*

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain

  • "I am more and more convinced that our happiness or unhappiness depends far more on the way we meet the events of life, than on the nature of those events themselves."
    Wilhelm von Humboldt
In Elaine Fox's Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain we get a pop roundup of the mind of the optimist and the pessimist - which reflect 'primal inclinations to seek pleasure or avoid danger'.  We are evolved to tune in to danger but as Fox illustrates, this protection mechanism can come to dominate, yielding a negativity - with detrimental results.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

RPT Wk1 W/O2

Full steam ahead!  The only variation from now onwards is that I will stop handstanding after two quality handstands (and wrap up with a handwalk 'for time').  I will also resist the lower down from a handstand to work my planche muscles.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (35 minutes)
1. Handstand Variation (air squats + side lunges, one legged floor touches + front lunges, front/side/turning kicks + hanging kicks)
2. Pistols (8/6x75kg, 10/8x70kg, 12/10x65kg)
3. OACs (6/5x60kg, 6x55kg, 7/8x45kg)

Forearm and Wrist Prehabilitation
4. Golfers Elbow Drumstick Rotation (12)
5. Wrist Push Ups (12)
6. Reverse Wrist Curl (12)

Weight : 78.5kg