Monday, April 26, 2010

Three's (Fitness) Company

By Michael Contino

Liverpool, N.Y. – How many times have you heard that going to the gym is one thing, but having a trainer makes the experience all the more worthwhile?

In the case of two 47-year old men from Central New York, they may be living proof. Healthier living proof, might I add.

Longtime friends John Last and Kevin Bush had long been going to the gym before deciding they wanted to take their health and fitness regimen to another level.

“We worked out consistently for the past ten years but we’d kind of hit a plateau,” Bush said. “And we thought we’d maybe push it above the limits.”

Already members at Liverpool's North Area YMCA, they got a trainer, Maggie Triolo, and a new program that would push them harder than anything they’d done before.

Something New

The program Maggie has created for her trainees goes against what most men consider to be a viable workout.

In addition to placing a heavy emphasis on circuit training, Maggie’s workout only sparingly uses weights. When she does, they’re often on the lighter side.

By the time the guys get to the weight portion of their session, they’re already pretty tired.

“We’re having a blast here,” Last said. “Maggie’s kicking the crap out of us.”

Of course, this is exactly the type of program John and Kevin signed up for, and it’s one that has given them tremendous results.

Many Happy Returns

For John and Kevin, training with Maggie started around five months ago, or at the beginning of the new-year. Both came in with different strengths and different areas they felt needed improvement.

In Kevin’s case, the goal was to “maybe work on our core and our stamina a little bit more.”

“Kevin’s more the strength guy. John’s more the fast-twitch, like, go-go-go,” Trainer Maggie Triolo said. “So they’ve really complemented each other well with what we’re doing.”

In addition to losing inches off their wastes and pounds off the scale, there have been other intriguing results.

“A lot of employees of mine, because I’m an owner of a company, are seeing this, and now they’re joining the Y as well, and they’re getting on the bandwagon,” Last said.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Meditation Helps Lower Stress

By Michelle Bernard / Good Medicine

Syracuse, N.Y. -- Dr. David Humphrey had back problems, an abnormal heart rate and a sleep disorder-- all symptoms of stress.

To relieve his symptoms Humphrey, a retired doctor from Syracuse, started going to Dr. Bill Cross's conscious stress reduction class which teaches meditation and mindfulness, or a cultivated awareness of your own body and feelings.

By combining mindfulness and western medicine, Humphrey's back pains have gone away and his heart rate has returned to normal.

“I reduced that stress and sleep better now. That's one of the things,” says Cross. “I've become more aware of the tension in my back and able to relax it.”

What is Meditation?
Meditation comes in many forms, but all share the following elements:
•A quiet location
•A specific, comfortable posture
•A Focus of attention (usually on your breath)
• An Open Attitude

Sanghyeon Chun has been practicing meditation for thirteen years and leads a meditation class at Syracuse University.

“Basically I put my awareness on lower abdomen, and breath, sometimes I just observe myself, without specific focal points, if some thought arrives, I just notice it,” he says. “That is meditation practice.”

Sanghyeon says that meditation helps you to be relaxed, and teaches skills to cope with daily stress.

There are many kinds of exercises for relaxation and stress, listening to music, watching TV or movies, but a distinctive point of meditation is that it trains our attention he says.

Put it into Practice

It works for Humphrey and Sanghyeon, but how can others achieve the same results?

Through practice says Sanghyeon, who is also a doctoral student in instructional design at Syracuse University.

“When you go to the gym, you need regular practice to make a good shape of your muscles,” says Sanghyeon. “Meditation is the same thing.”

Most students don't know what to expect when going to the sessions, but are often happy with its results. SU student Morgan Salvan recently attended his first meditation session and would recommend it to others looking for stress relief.

“The experience I had was a relaxing one,” says Salvan. “It made me focus on things that were much more rudimentary than a lot of things that are going on in my everyday life.”

A National Trend
An increasing number of Americans are starting to meditation sessions just like the one offered here at the university.

A recent government survey found that 9.4 percent of U.S. adults had used meditation to treat anxiety, depression and stress in the past 12 months.

Tips for Meditating
If you're one of the many Americans interested in meditation make sure to follow these guidelines from the National Institutes of Health.

•Do not use meditation as a replacement for conventional care or as a reason to postpone seeing a doctor about a medical problem.

•Ask about the training and experience of the meditation instructor you are considering.

•Look for published research studies on meditation for the health condition in which you are interested.

•Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Health reporters: Keep it fresh, accurate

Excerpts from WABC-TV New York medical news producer Graciela Rogerio and Health News Review's Gary Schwitzer on "The Potential Harm of Health News." The two spoke to a crowd of mostly young health journalists in electronic news (radio, TV, digital) settings at the 2010 RTDNA summit in Las Vegas.

The music bed beneath their voices is annoying and too loud, but what they say is valuable for all aspiring journalists, especially those who want to be health reporters.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Diagnosis: Lactose Intolerance -- or is it?

Diagnosis: Lactose Intolerance -- or is it? from CP2E on Vimeo.

Meditation as Medicine

Many of us are facing increasing pressure and stress these days...especially with our busy schedules and heavy workloads. However, as Good Medicine reporter Max Cole tells us, there might be something you can do to help take a load off.

Meditation as medicine from CP2E on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Don’t Ditch the Dairy

By Sarah DiGiulio

Doctors agree dairy is an essential part of a healthy diet – even for the lactose intolerant. Concerns that dairy-free diets increase calcium and vitamin D deficiencies, two essential nutrients for healthy bones, led the the U.S. National Institutes of Health to publish a consensus statement in February recommending most lactose intolerant individuals do not need to eliminate dairy completely and the condition may be incorrectly over-diagnosed.

Lactose intolerant individuals can drink the equivalent of one cup of milk, along with a meal, without noticing symptoms, says Dr. Robert Dracker, Syracuse pediatrician. Taking lactaid pills with dairy and spreading dairy consumption throughout the course of the day also ease the cramping, gas and diarrhea associated with lactose intolerance.

The more dairy you ingest, the better your small intestine can break down the sugars found in dairy, Dracker says. But, dairy-light diets decrease the small intestine’s ability to digest dairy and cause the gastrointestinal discomfort. “If you slowly increase the amount of milk you’re ingesting, you can increase your ability to tolerate milk product,” Dracker says.

Cutting out milk, cheese and yogurt completely could lead to calcium and vitamin D deficiencies because these dairy products are the best food sources of the two nutrients. Some foods, like breads and orange juice, can be calcium-fortified. But, dairy still has the edge, Dracker says. Besides being nutrient-packed, it’s cheap and protein rich.

Erika Mahoney suffered from stomachaches for as long as she can remember, says the junior broadcast journalism major at Syracuse University. “When I was little, I called it the bubble, because I didn’t know what it was,” she says.

Her doctor put Mahoney on a dairy-free diet for two months during the second grade. But, cutting out dairy did not ease her symptoms. Mahoney was later diagnosed with Celiac Disease, a gastrointestinal disorder that prevents the body from digesting gluten, the protein found in grain products.

Health experts worry lactose intolerance is being over-diagnosed because gastrointestinal diseases, like Celiacs and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, share the same symptoms, according to the NIH statement. Doctors often assume lactose intolerance before trying more extensive tests Celiacs and IBS tests, says Dr. Philip Holtzapple, Syracuse gastroenterologist. “It’s easy to tell people to get off dairy and see how you feel,” he says.

After being correctly diagnosed with Celiacs, Mahoney found many other individuals with her disorder who had first been told to go dairy-free. “I started going to support groups – classic story – every single person had been diagnosed with lactose intolerance,” she says.

The body needs calcium for bone development – both in kids as their bones grow, and in adults to maintain bone density, preventing fractures and osteoporosis. The body uses vitamin D to help absorb calcium. “Our bodies are constantly breaking down bone and rebuilding,” Dracker says. “In order to do that, you need an adequate supply of calcium.” And, newer research shows vitamin D may also help protect the body against diseases like multiple sclerosis and immune disorders.

For healthy bones, Holtzapple recommends adults get 1200 to 1500 milligrams of calcium per day, about 4 or 5 servings of milk, cheese or yogurt.

Lactose intolerance - overdiagnosed? from CP2E on Vimeo.

Health Concerns Over Splenda Not So Sweet

By: Dontré Conerly

Syracuse, NY—Now the #1 artificial sweetener on the market, Splenda is advertised as a low-calorie sweetener, perfect for diabetics, dieters, and the health-conscious, but limited human clinical trials reject the claim and recent studies warn of several adverse side effects, including nausea, vomiting, headaches, and gastro-intestinal issues.

To make its claim that it is a no-calorie sweetener, Splenda’s marketing hinges on the fact that in animal trials the sweetener passes through the body undigested; therefore, it adds no calories or carbohydrates. However, in animal trials and the short-term human trials (none longer than six months), the sweetener was absorbed 15% of the time, causing the side effects listed above. This absorption loophole is also the crux upon which the sweetener was approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

First discovered by scientists looking to make a new pesticide, Splenda is a man-made artificial sweetener that starts from sugar, but is altered by the addition of chlorine molecules to its chemical make-up. Its properties are changed from sucrose (a natural sugar) to sucralose, a potentially dangerous substance.

Syracuse University junior, Malisa Gobuty, relies on Spenda to help maintain her weight. She uses the sweetener in her beverage, on many foods, and cooks with it. It’s this long-term, heavy usage that concerns many, who say that extended usage can cause harm. But, for Gobuty, it’s about maintaining her health and figure.

“They say cell phones will kill you,” she quips. “For me, it’s about monitoring my calorie intake

Registered nutritionist and dietitian at Natur-Tyme in East Syracuse, Laurel Sterling Prisco, warns against using Splenda as a weight-loss supplement in one’s diet.

“When something is rejected by the body, like Splenda,” she says, “it can get stored in the fat cells.” This ironic protection by the body can actually work against dieters. “It gunks up fat cells [where we store toxins] and can keep them from shrinking when you’re trying to lose weight,” she says.

There have been many calls for Splenda to be removed from the market. Chief amongst its opponents is Dr. Mercola, who not only believes Splenda should be pulled from the market, but believes the FDA does not take enough of a role in ensuring the safety of food it approves. In his book, Sweet Deception: Why Splenda®, Nutrasweet®, and the FDA May Be Hazardous to Your Health, Mercola claims to have done independent research to prove the dangerous side effects of Splenda and other sweeteners.

If his claims are true, his research would be amongst the longest human trials of the sweetener.

Splenda’s manufacturer, McNeil Nutritionals, denies the allegations that Splenda has any negative side effects and has put up a page on its site to quell the fears. They maintain that Splenda is 100% safe.

Not too sweet from CP2E on Vimeo.