Sunday, 21 September 2008

Obesity 'raises miscarriage risk'

BBC Health (21 Sept 2008) --Women who have had a miscarriage could be at greater risk of miscarrying again if they are obese, research suggests. More...

Friday, 5 September 2008


By: Mujuthaba

This article probably will be the closest article to being negative towards training. Exercise in itself is a type of acute stress on the body. Prolonged stress is known to make ones body prone to diseases. During and a while after exercise the body goes into an immunosuppressive phase. In lay terms, our body's system that fights off germs is suppressed to a degree during the period.

The immunosuppression during and after exercise is blamed on release of stress hormones, changes in body temperature, death of immune cells, increase in blood flow and dehydration. The most vulnerable group of athletes are the ones that continue to stress the body for a longer period, which would be the endurance athletes. We know that stressing our bodies for a longer period causes diseases; this issue is exactly same with exercise.

Immediately after extensive long duration training, an ‘open-window’ period remains for 3 to 72 hours, where bacteria and viruses can easily by-pass our immune system. This length of the ‘open-window’ period depends on the strength of an individual’s immune system. The symptoms of a disease may not be exposed before 1-2 weeks time, although a running nose or sore throat may prevail in some exercisers straight after intense training.

It is known that runners who exceed 96 km/week have twice the chance of getting infected than those that cover 32 km/week. The margin for safety is 5-21 km/week. Hence, moderate level of training is best described friendly to the immune system.

What about training after catching the cold? If the cold doesn’t posses feverish symptoms, low to moderate training can be pursued. As an endurance athlete, it would be worthwhile to stick with moderate training for a few days. If the symptoms include fever, muscle aches, extreme tiredness and swollen glands then 2-4 weeks should be given before resuming intense training.

Loads of studies show that exercise increases the functional ability of the immune system. This happens after the ‘open-window’ period when the body repairs itself. Therefore, to increase our immune strength, there are some measures that we can take. They are:

1- Make sure you get adequate rest

2- Intake a healthy nutritious diet, rich in vegetables and fruits

3- Follow basic hygiene guidelines in the fitness centre and outside

4- Wash hands regularly after training and during the ‘open-window’ period

In conclusion, exercise is the best remedy for frail immune systems. Exercise should be taken up, but careful considerations should be given to personal hygiene, during and immediately after training.

-Niemen, D.C.(2007) Marathon training and immune function. Sports Medicine, 37(4-5), 412-415
-Powers, S.K., & Howley, E.T. (2004) Exercise physiology: theory and application to fitness and performance. McGraw-Hill, Boston

Monday, 1 September 2008


By: Mujuthaba

Let me try and explain carbohydrates in simplest of terms. Carbohydrates are one of the major nutrients which fuel our body, much like a steam engine that runs on coal. Most foods such as flour, rice, potatoes, taro, grains, oats, fruits and vegetables are composed of carbohydrates. One of the simplest functional forms of carbohydrate is glucose.

How is carbohydrate extracted by the body from food?

Well, when you intake a carbohydrate rich meal, we all know it goes straight to the stomach. The stomach churns and grinds the food very finely to expose every bit of the nutrients. Glucose, one of the most important simplest carbohydrates, is exposed during this time. As the now semi-solid meal passes out into the intestines. The nutrients needed by the body, such as glucose, are sucked up by the intestines straight into the blood stream.

How are carbohydrates stored in the body?

The glucose travels through the blood stream in the body. The blood is a transport system which acts like a delivery truck. This truck delivers glucose to all the cells in the body that needs it, particularly the muscles and liver. Inside the liver and muscle cells, the glucose is packed and stored for use, such as exercise and just to keep one self alive and functioning. The packed and stored glucose is now known as glycogen. If stored in the muscles, these are known as muscle glycogen. If in the liver, liver glycogen.

How are carbohydrates used to do work?

Ah, the big question. The stored glycogen is taken off the package, which then would be called glucose again, is ‘burned’ to create energy for functioning. Just picture a steam engine running on coal. The coal is glucose and the engine is the body. The more coal, the better the engine runs; the lesser the coal, the slower it runs. So in daily life, if you feel weak, you can assume your body is low on fuel, which are carbohydrates.

Why do we still keep on moving even if we don’t intake carbohydrates?

The body uses fuel from two other sources of nutrients, they are fats and proteins. None of them are as efficient as carbohydrates in producing energy to do work. To extract energy from proteins and fats, they have to be converted to glucose, the simplest form of functional carbohydrate. If proteins and fats are not converted to glucose (carbohydrate), we cannot get energy from them. This conversion is mainly processed in the liver, only when the body is low on glucose. Since these processes are so slow, the body would not function as fast or quickly. Hence, it is important to take carbohydrates rather than rely on diets comprising proteins or fats.

How important are Carbohydrates for survival?

The most important organ in the body, the brain, functions only on blood glucose. The brain doesn‘t have fat stores around it, or it doesn’t use its own cells to produce energy. If we have low glucose in our blood, we start feeling drowsy and in some instances faint. This is what happens during extremely intense training sessions when you feel like you’ve hit the wall. Most of the glucose is delivered to the exercising muscle cells, and before the truck reaches the brain, there is simply no glucose for the brain.

Even in such case, the brain isn’t starved yet. Our brains are very intelligent on survival. When the brain senses the first sign of low blood glucose in the body, it shuts down the whole body, simply because it has control over them. This will ensure that the brain gets the glucose. At this stage, we would probably have fainted. Drowsiness is the onset of gradual shutting down of the body by the brain.

How does carbohydrates makes us fat?

As stated before, carbohydrates are stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. When these houses are full, the carbohydrates need to be stored in huge warehouses. This is when carbohydrates are converted to fat and stored in the fat stores for future use. If they are not used, they simply bulk up without any limit. Consideration should be taken not to consume carbohydrate in access. They will definitely increase your fat stores.

In conclusion, carbohydrates should be used adequately daily, especially if you are active exercisers. You will feel the difference if you are deprived of carbohydrates.