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Minding Your P’s and Double Q’s

By now, you’ve probably heard of COQ-10 and what the supplement can do- boosting energy, speeding recovery, and helping to reduce the effects of certain medicines on your heart, muscles, and other organs. Well, one of the newer supplements on the block is PQQ-10, which some consider the “fountain of youth” for your cells.

pqqsupplement

PQQ-10 – its scientific name, Pyrroloquinoline quinone – is actually a compound found in plant foods. And, while it’s not currently thought of as a vitamin, some experts believe it could be considered an essential nutrient in the not too distant future.

 

So, what does it do? PQQ helps grow and develop cells and is an extremely powerful

antioxidant. Research shows that it plays a critical role in nutrition. And, when it’s deliberately omitted from diets in mammals, it impairs growth, compromises immune systems and interferes with the ability to reproduce.

 

But, what’s considered the most important function of PQQ is what it does to key enzymes involved in producing energy in our cells – called the mitochondria. PQQ not only improves energy production, it promotes the spontaneous generation of new mitochondria within aging cells – and that’s where it gets credit as being a “fountain of youth” – at least, for your cells.

energy_mitochondria

The benefits of PQQ revolve around what it can potentially do for (or block) what happens to us as we age- Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and many other chronic degenerative illnesses. The current research on PQQ has mostly focused on its ability to protect memory and cognition in both aging animals and humans.

 

In animal studies, PQQ has been shown to:

  • reverse cognitive impairment caused by chronic stress and improve performance on memory tests
  • protect brain cells against damage
  • protect against the likelihood of severe stroke
  • prevent the development of a protein associated with Parkinson’s disease
  • protect nerve cells from a protein linked with Alzheimer’s disease

 

PQQ is sort of anti-aging armor for our most energy-intensive organs – the brain and the heart. And, it’s been shown to optimize health and function of the entire central nervous system.

 

So how much and how often? Well- the current recommendation of 10 to 20 mg of PQQ daily is mostly based on what researchers have seen in animal studies. For humans, studies have shown that 20 mg per day of PQQ resulted in improvements on tests of higher cognitive function in a group of middle-aged and elderly people. But, get this – the effects were even more significant when the test subjects also took 300 mg per day of CoQ10.

 

So, the bottom-line? Minding your P’s and Q’s may just help you (and your cells) have a longer and more productive life.

 

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness

How Jell-O’s Cousin Can Help You Build Muscle

J-E-L-L-O. You probably had it for dessert as a kid or your mom or grandma made Jell-O salads for the holidays. Jell-O is basically, gelatin. And gelatin is packed with protein, which builds muscle. To get the real benefits, though, you need to ditch the artificial coloring and flavors and get down to the basics.

 

The gelatin I’m talking about is pretty much translucent, colorless and flavorless, derived from the collagen found in animal bones, skin and connective tissue. Back a few decades ago, we all had more gelatin in our diet, because we ate more animal parts, not just the pre-packaged meat cuts we do now.

 

We’ve talked before about the benefits of bone broth – gelatin is basically dehydrated broth powder. Great for folks who don’t have time to make homemade bone broth. Gelatin is a good source of amino acids; in fact, it contains half of the 18 essential amino acids needed for survival.

 

With six grams of protein per tablespoon, powered gelatin is an easy way to add more protein to your diet. And, if you use unsweetened gelatin, which has no flavor, you can add it to various foods to boost their protein content. Mix powdered gelatin in yogurt, a smoothie, your hot cereal in the morning. It’s a different kind of protein powder.

 

What’s surprising about gelatin is that we don’t think about it very much, even though it makes up 25 to 35% of the total protein content of the human body. It’s vital for skin elasticity and tone. Gelatin makes up the connective tissues that are responsible for giving skin its strength and firmness.

 

That’s why gelatin supplements are considered anti-aging and recommended by some skin experts. They cite studies that show collagen found in gelatin helps reduce visible signs of wrinkling and aging.

 

Gelatin and the protein it contains provide beneficial minerals that are mostly absent in our modern American diet. Gelatin supplies calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, which build strong bones, nails, teeth and hair.

 

  • Gelatin can also speed up wound healing, improve your quality of sleep and help with weight loss. The protein makes you feel fuller and so you eat less.
  • It’s a so-called “super-food” that can also soothe the aches and pains of arthritis. Gelatin contains Chondroitin, which is used as a supplement for people with arthritis pain and stiffness. Chondroitin supports joints, cartilage and tendons.

 

For a supplement that does all this and more, your next question, might be: how much? It’s recommended that you take 2 – 3 tablespoons of powered gelatin each day. And, it’s not a bad idea to try and get more gelatin in the food you eat.

 

After all – the more protein, the better your chances at being stronger and healthier.

Bryson DeChambeau: the most interesting man in golf

Bryson DeChambeau: Slack lining, but definitely not a slacker

 

He’s a weird mix of throw back (that hat and those pants!) and a kind of new age, scientific thinker (he majored in physics) who’s definitely got the golf world wondering what he’ll do next. Bryson DeChambeau turned pro in mid-April, won $260,000 in his first professional outing and chartered a private jet to get home.

 

That last minute plane ride might seem a bit out of character for a 22-year-old who is a stickler for preparation. He’s obsessed with it. DeChambeau is known for soaking his golf balls in Epsom salt to determine if they’re out of balance. In the lead up to this year’s Masters, he played Augusta 10 times in four and a half months, studying hole locations and putting surfaces. Trying to figure out how he could win the course.

 

At times, he seems like a nerd, but he’s certainly not a stereotype. While he approaches the game scientifically, he’s not afraid to use his inquisitive mind to work out solutions to problems, whether that’s on the course or off. That mind has also pushed him to challenge himself with a fitness routine that’s anything but.

 

You won’t see many other golfers embracing the strange acrobatics of what’s called a “slack line.” It’s like a tightrope, suspended off the ground, but with a wider surface and more loosely strung. DeChambeau has posted videos on his popular Instagram account, showing him walking a slack line and catching balls while trying to keep his balance. It’s an exercise that forces the body to engage several muscle groups at once, but puts much of the focus on the core. A strong core is key to a good golf swing. And, he’s proving that his swing is one of the best and most consistent.

 

DeChambeau stays consistent and produces the same swing over and over again, because his clubs are all the same length. And, that might have the potential to transform the game by putting less stress on the lower back, resulting in fewer injuries and longer careers.

 

Most golfers play with variable-length irons. With each club, your body has to change posture and readjust. It’s only a slight change, but, to complete the swing, your muscles have to move in different ways, putting your body and specifically the lower back, at more risk for injury.

 

In fact, back problems affect a good number of golfers, professional and amateur. This year, back injuries kept both Tiger Woods and Fred Couples out of the Masters.

When he was 19-years-old, Rory McIlroy had back problems, but committed himself to a workout routine that’s made him one of the fittest golfers on the PGA and European Tours.

 

For golf’s new stars – players like McIlroy and DeChambeau, the game has evolved. There is more emphasis on preparation and some of that is a bit unconventional to say the least. But, they’re finding that it pays to keep in shape, both physically and mentally. That’s how you get to the top of the leader board.

 

 

Coconut Oil: The New Superfood

Coconut Oil: The New Super Food?

coconut oil

It’s become one of the most talked about foods on the Internet, with some calling it a “super food.” Coconut oil is said to slow aging, help your heart and thyroid, protect against disease and assist you in losing weight. Still, organizations such as the American Heart Association continue to caution consumers against all tropical oils, including coconut oil. So what’s the real story?

 

For most Americans, coconut oil was something we never heard of. Now, it’s becoming more of a staple cooking oil in many homes. The reason is that its unique combination of fatty acids has been found to have positive effects on health. Plus, coconut oil contains antioxidants, known to protect us from cell damage, aging and disease.

 

This might sound scary – coconut oil is mostly saturated fat. We’ve all been told to avoid saturated fat. However, the saturated fat in coconut oil is not the average run-of-the-mill saturated fat that you would find in cheese or steak. The fat in coconut oil contains Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) – which are fatty acids of a medium length.

 

So, what does that mean? Well, medium-chain fatty acids are metabolized differently. They go straight to the liver from the digestive tract, where they’re used as a quick source of energy.  Which can help you burn fat and lose weight.

 

Of course, it may sound a little strange that weight loss can come from eating something that’s pretty high in calories. One tablespoon of coconut oil contains an average of 117 calories and 13 grams of fat. But, what you weigh is not just a matter of calories; it’s the quality and the source of those calories. It’s a fact that different foods affect our bodies and hormones in different ways. The bottom line- a calorie is not a calorie.

 

And, body fat is not just body fat. Coconut oil appears to be especially effective in reducing abdominal fat, which makes itself at home in the abdominal cavity and crowds around organs. Abdominal fat is thought to be the most dangerous fat of all and is associated with many diseases, like diabetes. Two studies, one with 40 women, another with 20 obese men, found that including an ounce of coconut oil in their diet each day led to a pretty significant reduction in abdominal fat. And the test subjects did not change their eating or exercise habits. They just added in coconut oil.

 

So what about the cautions from the American Heart Association? Well, it’s mostly about moderation; the Association would like you to limit your saturated fat intake to no more than 16 grams a day. And, like any oil, you should use coconut oil in moderation.

 

However, not all coconut oil is created equal. Avoid the refined coconut oil; go for the organic virgin coconut oil. It’s probably sitting right there on your grocery store shelf. There are a variety of brands with a range of prices.

 

And, once you try it, you might want to look into all the other uses for coconut oil. Like, hair conditioner, toothpaste, moisturizer, makeup remover; the list goes on. For some people, coconut oil is a “miracle” they can’t live without.

 

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness

 

You’re Sick – Should You Work Out or Not?

 

We’re smack in the middle of cold and flu season. And one of the questions my clients are asking – should I work out, even though I’m feeling under the weather?

The answer – it depends.

 

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was diagnosed with the flu, and believe me, it hit hard. I was out for a good week and certainly did not feel like doing much. It set me back a bit and I’m just now getting back into my regular workout routine.

 

So if you’re sick and wondering about working out – one of the first things to consider is – what are your symptoms? Most viruses make themselves known with a combination of things – fatigue, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, fever; maybe even nausea and vomiting. Obviously, with the more severe symptoms, you’re not going to feel like doing much. But, with the lesser symptoms, if you have the energy, then go ahead.

 

That being said, keep these things in mind: if your nose and ears are stuffed up, your balance may be off and it will obviously be harder to breathe. If you have a fever, you will be more prone to dehydration.

 

The bottom line – take it easy and rest if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Fever over 99-100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Severe muscle fatigue and extreme tiredness
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Feelings of dizziness or faintness when you stand

 

If you are feeling just a bit off, it’s probably safe to proceed with your workout but it’s a good idea to lower the intensity. This is really a time to listen to what your body is saying.

 

Some trainers suggest that you do what’s called a “neck check.” Basically, are your symptoms above the neck – are you sneezing, do you have a sore throat, a runny nose? If so, then it’s probably okay to work out. Keeping in mind that you probably can’t do your regular workout. Remember – it’s going to be hard to breathe.

 

If your symptoms are below the neck – nausea, vomiting, diarrhea – it would be better to take it easy. Rest. Recuperate. Take a few days off. Get well.

 

Regular exercise can do wonders for your immune system, but, when you’re sick, working out can make you feel worse and slow down your recovery.

 

Just listen to your body and know that if you decide to rest, you can get right back to it when you’re well.

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness