The health benefits of yogurt have been cited for centuries, but many people still don’t realize just how valuable yogurt can be to living a healthy lifestyle. Yogurt can actually benefit your health in a variety of ways, and it should definitely be added to your shopping list the next time you head out to the grocery store.

The most outstanding benefit of yogurt comes right from the unique way yogurt is made. Yogurt is simply milk or cream that is cultured with active live cultures. These cultures are the key to many of yogurt’s health benefits. Active live cultures are basically good bacteria that are necessary for the body to function at its best. These good bacteria prevent the growth of harmful bacteria that cause bacterial infections and diseases. Healthy levels of good bacteria also promote digestive health and boost the immune system. Good bacteria prevent imbalances in the body’s yeast levels, which can prevent various types of yeast infections. It has been shown that good bacteria can also prevent urinary tract infections. If you are taking antibiotics, they may be destroying the good bacteria present in your body. Eating yogurt regularly can help restore your good bacteria levels. Active live cultures actually reduce yogurt’s level of lactose, making yogurt a delicious dairy alternative for anyone who is lactose intolerant.

Since yogurt is made from dairy products, it is very high in calcium, which is highly beneficial for bone and teeth health. Calcium is especially important for those seeking to prevent bone density loss and osteoporosis. Healthy levels of calcium can also encourage the body to maintain and lose weight.

Yogurt is also a good source of protein, which helps give the body energy to keep you going throughout the day. Protein is an essential building block for many systems in the body, including your muscles. Protein is also good for curbing your appetite and helping you feel full for a longer period of time.

Yogurt can be incorporated into your diet in a variety of ways. By adding fruit, berries, granola, nuts, or chocolate candies to your yogurt, you can turn it into a delicious replacement for your usual dessert. You can also substitute yogurt for milk in many recipes for foods like pancakes, waffles, and even pumpkin pie.

When buying yogurt, the more natural the product is, the more beneficial it will be to your health. Organic yogurt is best. Look for yogurt that is low in sugar and without added trans fat or high fructose corn syrup. If you are on a low-fat diet: many brands of yogurt come in low-fat or no-fat versions. Always check the levels of active live cultures in your yogurt. The more active live cultures there are present in your yogurt, the more benefits you will receive from them. Keep in mind that yogurt should be made with pasteurized milk or cream, but any pasteurizing done after the culturing process can kill the active live cultures and keep you from reaping their benefits.

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Glycogen, the stored form of the carbohydrate-derivative glucose, is an essential aspect of the ability of the body to generate fuel for both athletic and sedentary activities. The main storage centers for glycogen are within the liver and the skeletal muscles; approximately twice as much glycogen is stored in the muscles as is retained in the liver. For an athlete who is placing significant demands upon those energy reserves, the consumption of between 8 and 10 grams of carbohydrate per 2.2 lb (1 kg) of body weight per day will be required to keep the glycogen levels optimum.

Muscles that are supplied with appropriate amounts of glycogen for breakdown into glucose, and the further processes necessary to produce the fuel source, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), will lead inevitably to an increased endurance capacity on the part of the athlete. When glycogen levels in muscles are depleted, there is a resulting muscle fatigue, with a corresponding loss of protection to the joint. Sports such as Alpine skiing illustrate this progression. There is a greater incidence of downhill skiing accidents at the end of the ski workout, versus at the beginning. The repetitions on the hill cause a depletion in muscle glycogen, which presents a greater risk of injury to the athlete.

When the body is at rest, its energy requirements are 80% from fat stores, 15% from carbohydrates, and 5% from proteins. During exercise, the proportionate contribution from the energy sources within the body changes dramatically. Muscle glycogen and blood glucose (the product of the glycogen stored in the liver) become the predominate sources, with plasma fatty acids (the product of converted fat stored in adipose cells when released into the bloodstream) and intro-muscular fat stores playing a secondary role.

The factors that will influence the relative importance of muscle glycogen, blood glucose, and fats during exercise include: the intensity of the activity; the duration of the activity; the level of training previously attained by the athlete; the initial level of muscle glycogen available to the athlete; the amount of carbohydrate supplement consumed, if any, during exercise (providing an additional potential energy source).

The effectiveness of carbohydrate-loaded sports drinks during competition is restricted to a rather narrow window. These fluids contain carbohydrates intended to provide an additional mid-competition energy boost, typically a combination of simple sugars (monosaccharides), such as fructose and glucose, mixed with water and flavoring. When the amount of carbohydrates is greater than 6-8% by volume, the body will have difficulty digesting and processing the carbohydrates during the event.

The type of physical activity dictates which of the body's energy systems will be engaged, and for how long. These engagements will determine what impact is directed to muscle glycogen levels through and at the conclusion of the activity. For those sports that require short, explosive bursts of activity, the anaerobic alactic system is employed. These sports are typically ten seconds or less in the duration of any given interval, and the muscular activity will be fueled by ATP that is present in the muscle. These ATP stores recharge without significant strain on the bodily glycogen reserves.

Activities that are of approximately 90 seconds maximum duration require energy generation from the anaerobic lactic system. Those of greater duration will engage the aerobic system. Both of these energy systems will require supplies of glycogen for both the immediate conversion of glucose into ATP; the demands of the aerobic system are significantly greater due to the duration of the demand. Many athletes, particularly in events such as the marathon, speak of "hitting the wall," a euphemism for the sensation of being without energy and in an extreme state of fatigue. When athletes experience this physical state, they have a significantly reduced supply of glycogen in their muscles, particularly with respect to the muscles actively working and involved in the event.

As a contrast, when the athlete experiences a glycogen depletion in the liver, the athlete will experience the condition known as hypoglycemia, a dangerous reduction in blood sugar, which often causes dizziness and disorientation.

Diet is the most effective tool to maximize muscle glycogen, both pre- and post-competition and training sessions. An athlete in training will require appropriate carbohydrates on a daily basis to ensure glycogen stores for competition; the ingestion of carbohydrate drinks and similar supplements after exercise will tend to speed the return of the glycogen stores to their usual levels. The most difficult of endurance events will not prevent the athlete from returning to an accustomed muscle glycogen level within 24 hours.

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Muscle Fiber Types

There are two types of muscle fibers, fast twitch (FT) and slow twitch (ST). Fast twitch fibers are used for explosive type movements and are easily fatigued. Slow twitch muscle fibers contain more mitochondria than Fast twitch. Mitochondria are cell structures that contain specific enzymes, which are required by the cell in order to use oxygen for energy production.

Fast twitch muscles fibers have less mitochondria and therefore less capacity for oxygen utilization in the production of energy within the muscle. This makes them better suited to anaerobic activities such as weight training, sprinting, jumping and other explosive type activities. FT fibers create energy anaerobically, that is, without oxygen. This system uses glucose as a prime energy source. The byproduct of this anaerobic energy production is heat and lactic acid. Lactic acid accumulation in the muscle causes fatigue and soreness. The anaerobic energy system is a limited system for energy production.

Slow twitch fibers are used for endurance type activities and are particularly suited to aerobic type activities. These type fibers contain an increased number of mitochondria and therefore are capable of utilizing oxygen for the production of energy within the muscle. This system uses glucose or fat in combination with oxygen to produce energy. The by-product of this system is carbon dioxide, water and heat.

Each person has a specific ratio of FT to ST fibers. A person with a high ratio of FT fibers may find it easier to train for specific activities that involve explosive movements. Conversely, a person with a higher ratio of ST fibers might find it easier to train and excel at endurance type activities.

There is a third type of muscle fiber that exists only in humans. It is considered a FT fiber of type IIA. These fibers are less powerful than the type IIAB discussed above. What makes these type IIA FT fibers unique is that they can adapt somewhat to aerobic activities
. These fibers provide the capability to alter our original genetic FT/ST ratio.

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Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids: They are necessary for human health but the body can' t make them -- you have to get them through food. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut, other seafood including algae and krill, some plants, and nut oils. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function as well as normal growth and development. They have also become popular because they may reduce the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon) at least 2 times a week.

Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function. In fact, infants who do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy are at risk for developing vision and nerve problems. Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation.

It is important to have a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 (another essential fatty acid) in the diet. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, and most omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation. The typical American diet tends to contain 14 - 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids.

The Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, has a healthier balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Many studies have shown that people who follow this diet are less likely to develop heart disease. The Mediterranean diet does not include much meat (which is high in omega-6 fatty acids) and emphasizes foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil, garlic, as well as moderate wine consumption.

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Effects of caffeine and aspirin on light resistance training performance, perceived exertion, and pain perception.


This study compared independent effects of caffeine and aspirin on muscular endurance (repetitions), heart rate (HR), perceived exertion (RPE), and perceived pain index (PPI) during light resistance training bouts performed to volitional failure. It was hypothesized that the hypoalgesic properties of these ergogenic aids would decrease pain perception and potentially result in enhanced performance. College-aged men (n = 15) participated in a within-subjects, double-blind study with three independent, counterbalanced sessions wherein aspirin (10 mg x kg(-1)), caffeine (6 mg x kg(-1)), or matched placebo were ingested 1 hour before exercise, and RPE, HR, PPI, and repetitions (per set and total per exercise) were recorded at 100% of individual, predetermined, 12-repetition maximum for leg extensions (LE) and seated arm curls (AC). Repeated-measures analyses of variance were used for between-trial comparisons. Caffeine resulted in significantly greater (p < 0.05) HR (LE and AC), total repetitions (LE), and repetitions in set 1 (LE and AC) compared with aspirin and placebo. Aspirin resulted in significantly higher PPI in set 1 (LE). In LE, 47% of participants' performance exceeded the predetermined effect size (>or= 5 repetitions) for total repetitions, with 53% exceeding the effect size (>or= 2 repetitions) for repetitions in set 1 with caffeine (vs. placebo). In AC, 53% (total repetitions) and 47% (set 1 repetitions) of participants exceeded effect sizes with caffeine (vs. placebo), with only 13% experiencing decrements in performance (total repetitions). Aspirin also produced a higher PPI and RPE overall and in set 1 (vs. placebo). This study demonstrates that caffeine significantly enhanced resistance training performance in LE and AC, whereas aspirin did not. Athletes may improve their resistance training performance by acute ingestion of caffeine. As with most ergogenic aids, our analyses indicate that individual responses vary greatly.

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Benefits of Spouted Grain Bread


Sprouted grain varieties of bread are some of the most nutritious and tasty bread loaves on the shelf. If you haven't tried a slice of flourless sprouted grain bread, it is well worth your effort. And just in case you are wondering what is meant by flourless or sprouted grain bread, here is an explanation.

Flourless bread is made with grains and legumes that are sprouted before grinding into flour. Sprouted grains have increased vitamin and nutrient content because the seed is first sprouted, making it alive and active in its growth process.

Some of these sprouted grain breads take on a very sweet taste because sprouting changes some starches in grains to sugars. In addition, the bread is moist and is made without yeast. The bread can also be made with no or low salt, and it is sometimes flavored with raisin and cinnamon to make the bread almost dessert-like.

Sprouted grain breads incorporate ingredients in the most unrefined stage possible. This is why these sprouted grain breads are often referred to as live food. They do not contain highly processed flours. Nutrients have not been stripped from the grain and then added back into the product later on.

Although not always sold under refrigeration, sprouted grain breads should be refrigerated or frozen until use. Since they are made without preservatives, they have a shorter shelf life. Also, when toasted, the bread may need to be toasted at a lower setting because the bread contain less fat content and has a tendency to burn more quickly.

Sprouted grain breads are very healthy. For the most part, sprouted grain breads use organic ingredients and are grown without pesticides and herbicides. They have a low glycemic index of about 45 and are low in saturated fat.

The sprouted grains used most often for these flourless breads include wheat, millet, and spelt. Some flourless bread varieties also use sprouted lentils and sprouted soybeans, making the bread a complete protein. Ezekiel bread is one that incorporates legumes and also uses a special baking process to preserve even more of the valuable nutrients.

Sprouted grain bread comes in more than just loaf shapes. You can also find sprouted grain dinner rolls, bagels, tortillas and cereals. Usually the flourless bread and cereal products are more costly than more highly
processed breads, and they are sold in health food stores. But if you look, you can sometimes find varieties of sprouted grain bread in larger chain grocery stores in the health food section.

If you are interested in the health benefits of flourless bread - benefits such as low glycemic, low saturated fat, high fiber, and living grains, consider giving nutritious sprouted grain bread a try.

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Whey Protein VS Soy Protein

Athletes and Bodybuilders swear by it, but researchers are concerned about the potential effects of animal protein on the body. As a result, many are turning toward soy protein and whey protein instead. But, what are the benefits, drawbacks, and differences between these different forms of protein? And, how much should you include in your diet in order to garner the benefits you are looking for?
Protein has been garnering extra attention as the health conscious realize the benefits of including protein in their diets. Protein is needed to help rebuild the body’s tissue, which is particularly important to athletes and bodybuilders. In fact, the body is in need of a continual supply of protein in order to repair and to build its tissue. Protein is also essential for producing antibodies, hormones, new muscle tissue, and blood hemoglobin. All protein that is lost within the body must be replaced and protein must be present in order for new tissue to be constructed.

While athletes swear by the ability of animal protein to build muscles, researchers are concerned about the potential effects of animal protein on the liver and the kidneys, as well as the link between animal protein and osteoporosis. As a result, many are turning toward soy protein and whey protein instead. But, what are the benefits, drawbacks, and differences between these different forms of protein? And, how much should you include in your diet in order to garner the benefits you are looking for?

Soy Protein

Soybeans contain high quantities of protein (considered to be of equal quality as animal protein) and also contain substantial amounts of amino acids. In addition, soy has been observed to lower cholesterol. Even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated 25 grams of soy protein per day can reduce the chances of developing heart disease.

Soy protein has also been found to reduce the symptoms of menopause, to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis, and to help prevent a number of diseases related to hormonal issues. These include endometrial cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. Soy protein has also been shown to speed up the metabolism of the thyroid, which can help with obtaining a leaner body. If you are intolerant to soy, however, its specific protein can actually have the opposite effect.

A number of soy protein products can be found at health food stores, including food bars, soy burgers, and even soy-based beverages. Those products containing soy protein isolate generally have the highest saturation. Other products containing soy protein include soy flour, whole soybeans, and tofu. Be sure to check the product label in order to determine the amount of soy protein the product contains.

Remember, however, soy isoflavones, which are sold as supplements in health food stores, are not the same substance as pure soy protein. Nonetheless, soy isoflavones possess a number of beneficial effects, such as improving kidney function and preventing bone loss.

If you are not allergic to soy, there are very few side effects to including soy in your diet. In some people, however, consuming soy on a routine basis can lead to an upset stomach and may even cause diarrhea or constipation.

Whey Protein

Like soy protein, whey protein has been shown to provide a number of benefits. For example, clinical studies have shown whey protein can:

* Act as a natural antibacterial or anti-viral
* Assist in maintaining the proper weight
* Reduce the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
* Reduce liver damage
* Improve the function of the immune system
* Improve blood pressure
* Improve athletic performance
* Improve the function of the digestive system
* Reduce gastric mucosal injury

Whey protein is very high in biological value (BV), which is highly sought by athletes. In short, BV is the amount of protein your body can replace with 100 grams of consumed diet. The only other foods containing high levels of BV are whole eggs and egg whites. Unlike eggs, however, whey protein does not contain high levels of fat.

While soy protein is derived from soybeans, whey protein is derived from milk as a diluted byproduct of the cheese-making process. Fresh liquid whey protein contains only about 1% protein because it is mostly comprised of lactose and water. For this reason, it takes about 229 liters of milk to produce just one kilogram of high quality whey protein isolate.

While in its original form, whey protein affects the digestive tract in much the same way as yogurt. Therefore, it is considered to be a natural remedy for many intestinal issues. In fact, it is often used in Sweden to help prevent bowel problems, gas, and constipation. Nonetheless, it can have the opposite effect and actually lead to constipation for some individuals.

The amount of whey protein recommended in a person’s diet depends on his or her weight, gender, age, level of activity, and overall health. Including both soy and whey protein in your diet can be very beneficial to your health; but, since both can lead to constipation, be sure to follow a high fiber diet to help keep your bowel movements regular. Try one or both of these all-natural health supplements and discover the results for yourself!

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