Sunday, August 24, 2014

Being Lonely May Make You Drink More Sugary Drinks

The picture of the book on top (The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner by Alan Sillitoe)  has got nothing to do with this post. I just thought it was a good picture to post.

Back to the post.

If you're feeling lonely watch out. According to a group of Norwegian researchers, being lonely may cause you to consume more sugary beverages. And too much sugar in your diet causes diabetes.

The researchers studied more than 90,000 pregnant women on their consumption of sugary drinks (cola, other soda and juices) and their relative feelings of loneliness and relationship satisfaction.

Other factors researched is inclusive of their marital status, other social ties apart from their romantic partner and feelings of group cohesiveness at work.

Subjects who were lonely consumed more sugar in the form of cola, other soda and juices. Those who had high levels of satisfaction in their relationships did not consume as much sugar.

This increase in sugary drinks were significant even after accounting for factors such as weight related self-image, body mass index, depression, physical activity, education level, age and income.

 This same link did not exist between loneliness and drinking artificially sweetened beverages, suggesting that it's the sugar not the sweet taste that people with relatively poorer social connections seek.

The researchers suggested improving the quality of your relationships if you find yourself drinking more sugary drinks than you like.

I'll go running if I'm lonely, hence the picture on top.


Henriksen RE et al (2014). Loneliness, Social Integration And Consumption Of Sugar-containing Beverages: Testing The Social Baseline Theory. PLoS One 9(8): e104421. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0104421.

This should be the picture on top.

Picture by justingreen19 from Flickr

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Big Benefits From Minimal Running

Picture by J White - Fishery Bay, South Australia from Flickr
I wrote briefly last week that moderate exercise boosts immunity and makes you less likely to fall sick. So just how much (or should I say how little) do you need to run before you reap the benefits of running?

Well, you'll be pleasantly surprised to know that running just 5-10 minutes a day at really slow speeds is sufficient to reduce your risk of dying from all causes and cardiovascular disease.

That means you'll just have to run 4-5 miles (or 6-8 km) a week  at 11:00 to 12:00 minutes per mile (or 2:45 to 3:00 min of one round around your local 400m track) to reap significant benefits. In fact, runners who run less than an hour a week gain the same benefits as those who run more than 3 hours a week.

Runners were found to have reduced risks of up to 30 % for all-cause mortality and 45 % for cardiovascular mortality. A group of "persistent runners" who kept running for 6 years enjoyed greater than the above mentioned benefits. Women  appear to get substantially more benefit than men.

The above mentioned results were based on a study of 55, 000 adults (average age 44). They were followed up for an average of 15 years. Key comparisons were runners versus non runners, different speeds of running, weekly mileage and running frequencies.

This study is receiving wide coverage and being hailed as a landmark study on the benefits of running.

This study should motivate all healthy but sedentary individuals to start and continue running.


Lee D, Pate RR et al (2014). Leisure-time Running Reduces All-cause And Cardiovascular Mortality Risk.
J Am Colleage Cardiol. 64(5): 472-481. doi:10.10106/j.jacc.2014.04.058.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ginger Helps You Recover From Hard Training

Picture by Robin from Flickr
You've trained really hard leading up to your goal race. All the intervals your coach made you run (bike or swim), you've managed to go under the target times. You're ready to kick ass in the race. Alas, you catch a cold just before your race. You may not even make it to the starting line let alone clock a personal record. Sounds familiar?

Well, join the club, I've fallen sick more than once just prior to a key race after training real well before the race. All because I'd trained too hard and not recovered sufficiently.

It's been well established that moderate exercise helps your immune system get stronger, making it you less likely to fall sick. Hard exercise (like an interval session or a really long run) compromises your immune system temporarily until you recover. Hence, it's common to come down with a cold or a sore throat when you're training hard.

Now, new published research suggests that ginger helped with lowering inflammation markers in runners. The researchers studied a group of well trained runners for 12 weeks. They were young (average age 23), lean (average 1.72 m and 143 lbs), fit (average Vo2 max 67) and used to training hard.

All the runners did the same hard training in the whole 12 weeks they were studied. After 6 weeks, they did a treadmill run to exhaustion starting at 10 % gradient. Pace and gradient increased every three minutes to they could run no more. Straight after the run, the researchers measured 3 types of cytokines (markers of inflammation).

As expected all the runners had elevated levels since they'd been running hard. Half the group of runners were given 500 mg of powered ginger three times a day (in a pill that didn't taste or smell like ginger) while the other runners were given a placebo.

After another 6 weeks of hard training, the runners did another similar treadmill test to exhaustion. The difference this time between the runners' cytokine levels was striking.

Runners in the placebo group had cytokine levels 32 % higher than their first treadmill test, suggesting that this group of runners' immune system were shot to pieces by the bouts of hard running. This would increase their chances of an upper respiratory tract infection - just as they would be ready for their races (after 3 months of hard training).

The runners who had been ingesting ginger had cytokine levels 18 % lower than their first test, suggesting that their immune systems had actually gotten stronger, lessening their chances of falling ill prior to racing.

The researchers concluded that ginger's anti inflammatory properties had helped the runners. Ginger's effects mirror those of anti inflammatory medications, minus the side effects of course.

If only I had known earlier .....

For those of you still training and racing, a cup of stronger ginger tea contains about 250 mg of ginger, or it is widely available in capsule or powder form.

* The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger has been known, valued and used for centuries. Ginger contains active phenolic compounds (gingerol, paradol, shogoal) that have anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, anti-imflammatory, anti-angiogenesis and anti-atherosclerotic properties.


Zehsaz F et al (2014). The Effect of Zingiber Officinale R. Rhizomes (Ginger) On Plasma Pro-inflammatory Cytokine In Well-trained Male Endurance Runners. Cent Eur J Immunol. 39(2): 174=180. DOI : 10.5114/ceji.2014.43719.

Halia O (or ginger tea without milk)
*Picture by mizie0o0 from Flickr

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Best Way To Use Your Imitation Kinesio Tapes

3 on my R knee
I've got 7 abrasions after falling on Tuesday, yes you read correctly, seven. 3 wounds on my right knee, 2 on my right foot, 1 on my left foot and a tiny one near my right elbow.

Lots of pain when I cleaned the abrasions first time, scrubbed them down and then put both Jelonet (a paraffin gauze dressing) and Melolin (a low adherent absorbent dressing) on the wounds to prevent the gauze from sticking to the wound -  more pain if the wound sticks to the gauze when you try to remove the dressings.

One of the wounds would not stop bleeding as I made my way to work at Physio Solutions (I see patients at PS on Tuesdays and Fridays) so I covered the dressings with Kinesio Tex Tapes. The bleeding leaked through the tapes still (that's how much it was bleeding).

Blood seeping thru the Kinesio tapes
Had to go for dinner after I came home from Physio Solutions so I took off the bloodied Kinesio Tex tapes and just wrapped underwrap over my dressings as I was in a hurry as I had to see a patient (who was gonna fly off later) at Sports Solutions. I realized my right knee felt a lot worse after I removed the Kinesio Tex tapes, especially after seeing the patient. My right shoulder also started hurting soon after my patient left.
Underwrap on my knee to hold the dressings 
After showering and doing the dressings again I put on some more Kinesio Tex Tapes on my knees, and my right shoulder as well (as it was now hurting a bit more). Again, both felt better with the Kinesio Tex Tapes.

Taped my R shoulder too
Not much pain when  got up the next day too. After a fall like that usually everything hurts the next day so I was pleasantly surprised.

I was now reluctant to take off the Kinesio Tex Tapes when I had to shower when  I had a brilliant idea. I should test the many rolls of imitation / copy cat Kinesio tapes I've been asked to try. I used some of the imitation/ copy cat Kinesio tapes which I put over the original Kinesio Tex Tapes.  They seem to keep the water off much better (so I needn't have to redress it).

The imitation Kinesio tapes kept everything dry
So falling wasn't great (because of my 7 abrasions). But in the process I learnt how to use Kinesio Tex Tapes on top of my dressings - who says you cannot use original Kinesio Tex Tapes on an open wound. And in the process found out that you can put your imitation/ copy cat Kinesio tapes to good use as well.

My knee actually feels really good now, a lot less swelling compared to 2 days ago. Hmmmm, think I can try running tomorrow? Perhaps cycling would be gentler on my knee......

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Too Much Sitting Negates The Benefits Of Your Exercise

Picture by Carsten Knoch from Flickr
Since my earlier post on Runners Run A Lot, Also Sit A Lot, I've received quite a few questions on how much does sitting affect us. So here's a follow up post on that article.

Well, to answer your queries, according to research, each hour of sitting negates 8 % of your gain from an hour's worth of running. So if you ran an hour this morning and then sit for 10 hours after that during the day, you lose about 80% of the health benefit you gained from your morning run.

That's rather upsetting isn't it? I've never thought I had to subtract (any health benefit) from my exercise before. Fortunately for me, I don't sit much during the day when I'm treating my patients. I sit most when I'm reading doing research and writing articles for this blog.

Now for the not so good news. If you do an hour's worth of moderate intensity exercise (running is considered vigorous exercise), you lose about 16 % of your workout gains from each hour of sitting.

The above mentioned data were the same for both men and women.

Researchers obtained the results through analysis of objective fitness and exercise data obtained through the National Education and Nutrition Survey (NHANES). This is an annual survey conducted to assess the country's exercise and nutrition habits.

So for office workers and those who work from home and are mostly sitting, you should be walking up stairs rather than using the lifts, stand while talking on your phone, sitting on a gym ball, using a standing desk, walking out during your lunch and use a pedometer to log your dally step count.

As Little Eva (and later Kylie Minogue) sang, "So come on come on, do the loco-motion with me." 


Kulinski JP, Khera A, Ayers CR et al (2014). Association Between Cardiorespiratory Fitness And Acclerometer-derived Physical Activity And Sedentary Time in General Population. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. DOI: 

Surely I can sit now after all that walking ....
Picture by Julio Velasco from Flickr.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Organic Food Has Higher Antioxidants

Picture by Basak Ekinci from Flickr
My wife is a firm believer in eating well. Even before my accident she's been buying organic food for the family. After my accident, eating organic in our household went up a few notches. I've been having green juices, organic cocoa and lots more. If you've been reading some of my older posts, you'd know I basically ate anything and everything, especially junk food and drinking lots of Coke too. I figured that since I exercise (and trained pretty hard before) I could eat anything I wanted.

Guess what, turns out my wife was right all along. According to a paper published in the British Journal of Nutrition (which reviewed 343 studies), you get 20-40 % more antioxidants if you switch from normal conventionally grown (read plenty of pesticides) to organic food. Antioxidants are thought to prevent or delay some types of cell damage and can therefore improve your health and slow the aging process.

Conventionally grown food were 3 to 4 times more likely to have pesticide residues and twice as likely to contain cadmium (a toxic heavy metal contaminant). This study differs differs from previous studies which concluded there were no significant differences in antioxidant content between conventional and organic produce.

This study's authors wrote that their finding is more reliable since more studies were analysed using more sophisticated means of analysis.

One suggested reason by the authors that organic food is higher in antioxidants is that plants produce chemicals that form antioxidants in response to environmental stress like pests, diseases and lack of soil nutrients. Since conventionally grown produce are mostly shielded from these stresses, conventionally grown produce do not produce antioxidants.

The second reason is that conventionally farming uses nitrogen with a much higher nitrogen content leading plants to produce fewer antioxidants.

Well, maybe it's time to look at what you eat.

Baranski M et al (2014). Higher Antioxidant And Lower Cadmium Concentrations And Lower Incidence Of Pesticide Residues In Organically Grown Crops: A Systematic Literature Review And Meta-Analyses. Brit J of Nutrition. FirstView Article pp 1-18. DOI: 10.1017/S000711454001366.

Some of the organic snacks my wife bought for my son

Friday, July 11, 2014

Oakley 30 Years Heritage Radarlock, Frogskins And Oakley Chainlink

What I got today
I received 3 pairs of Oakley sunglasses today. The 30 years Heritage Radarlock and Frogskins and the Oakley Chainlink. A big thank you to Joey.

Here'a a closer look at the Radarlock Path.

"30" etched on the lens
Many thanks to Joey from Oakley.