Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Maximimize Metabolism with a Healthy Thyroid

Maximize Metabolism with a Healthy Thyroid So how much do you know about the thyroid gland? Some people have never even heard of it. Thyroid health should definitely be on your radar because its primary function is to release hormones that control your metabolic rate. In other words, a healthy thyroid helps your body utilize energy quickly for cellular activities. And that’s what keeps your body – right down to the individual cells – in motion, using energy efficiently throughout the day (and night) to function properly and stay in good health. The Basics The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front part of the neck, just below the voice box (larynx). Thyroid activity is stimulated by the pituitary gland, which secretes thyroid stimulating hormone(TSH) to signal the production of thyroxine in the thyroid. There are two main thyroid hormones consisting of two aromatic rings of tyrosine linked together with the addition of iodine at select places: T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (tetraiodothyronine). When these hormones are insufficiently produced due to thyroid dysfunction, a condition known as hypothyroidism can occur.When assessing for thyroid function, many doctors will first test TSH levels. As discussed, elevated TSH can be indicative of primary hypothyroidism. Most resources cite 0.4-4.0 mlU/L as normal range. However, many patients express symptoms of hypothyroidism with TSH higher than 2.5 mlU/L. This diagnosis is often referred to as subclinical hypothyroidism. Even in these less severe cases, hypothyroidism can cause many classic symptoms including weight gain, sensitivity to cold, constipation, menstrual problems, fatigue, edema, and dry skin, hair, and nails. Depression is also common in these patients, and many report forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating on Nutritional Factors.

When analyzing thyroid function, three nutrients of concern are iodine, selenium, and the amino acid tyrosine. Remember, thyroxine is synthesized from tyrosine bound to iodine molecules. Selenium acts as a co-factor for enzymes known as deiodinases. These enzymes are the catalysts in the reactions involved in thyroid production and conversion. Patients concerned with thyroid health should work with their doctor to carefully monitor their intake of all three of these essential nutrients.

The most common example of nutrient deficiency causing thyroid disease is iodine deficiency. Prior to the introduction of iodized salt in the 1920s, iodine deficiency was common in the Great Lakes and Appalachian regions of the United States. This region was referred to as the “Goiter Belt” at that time due to the characteristic enlarged thyroid (goiter) seen in people with iodine deficiency.

It is estimated that nearly 40 percent of the world’s population is at risk for iodine deficiency, and outside of the United States, this remains the leading cause of impaired thyroid activity and mental retardation. Even here in the U.S., despite the prevalent use of iodized salt in our food supply, undiagnosed iodine deficiency remains a cause of hypothyroidism. While the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I), conducted from 1971-1974, found that 2.6 percent of U.S. citizens suffered from iodine deficiency, NHANES III [conducted from 1988-1994] saw that percentage rise considerably, up to 11.7 percent suffering from deficiency.

If you find yourself expressing symptoms of low thyroid activity, talk to your doctor, who may run tests to check your TSH and T3/T4 levels. And keep in mind that while less common than hypothyroidism, you can also experience hyperthyroidism: an overactive thyroid that releases too much hormones instead of too little. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism can include weight loss, increased appetite, nervousness, restlessness, weakness, itching, nausea and vomiting, among other unpleasantries.

June 18, 2011 Posted by | Health and Fitness | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Positive Effects of Running

Regular running can add quality years to your life

Running is one of the best forms of aerobic conditioning for your heart and lungs. It can significantly increase your metabolic rate and the amount of calories you burn, leading to loss of excess body fat. Running is also beneficial for slowing down the aging process. Those who run regularly are less likely to experience bone and muscle loss due to the body’s positive response to additional physical demands.

Running can also have many psychological benefits. Most runners typically report being happier and feeling less stressed from the grind of daily life. Why? Because regular exercise has the ability to alter mood, attributable to a surge in hormones called endorphins. These hormones create a sense of euphoria often referred to as a “runner’s high” and can result in an improvement in mood.

Here are some great tips, courtesy of running coach Chipper Robinson from Running on the Edge in Ramsey, N.J., on how to maximize your running experience:

Incorporate cross training into your running routines. Add weight-lifting, bicycling, yoga, elliptical training, or swimming. Why? They make you fitter and less prone to injury.
Exercise your abdominal muscles almost every day. A strong midsection (core) is a key component to running. In fact, it can often be the single most important factor for success in long-distance running.
Change your intensity levels by running faster or farther. Alternate which one you choose to implement in various workouts. It prevents your body from adapting to routines.
Pay attention to your shoes. Most shoes wear out after 300 to 500 miles. You often can’t see the wear, but, your knees, hips, and back will feel it. Visit a running specialty store for quality shoes and talk to your doctor for suggestions on the best shoes to get. Not just any shoe will do.
Run on different surfaces. See how many different surfaces you can run on in a month: asphalt, gravel, trail, grass, track, treadmill, and beach. Each stresses your leg muscles in a slightly different way, helping to prevent overuse injuries. (If possible, avoid concrete, the hardest and most harmful surface for runners.)
Keep a training journal. A journal can be a great way to maintain motivation and consistency. Keep it filled with running times, routines, motivational quotes, and how your body reacts to various routines. You should have a documented road map for reaching your running goals.
Take some time off. You don’t have to run every day, every week, or even every month (as long as you’re performing other cardiovascular activities). For healthy, consistent training, your body needs regular recovery periods. Performance suffers with too much exercise. Start slow and work your way toward higher mileages and/or more frequency.
Introduce high-intensity interval training into your running routine. Alternate, pace, speed, tempo and rest periods during a single running session. For example, keep a steady pace for a mile and then sprint run for 30 seconds. Do this for several cycles and notice how your heart rate and muscle fatigue threshold increase.

Every great journey starts with a single step; now just put one foot in front of the other to see how far this new journey takes you. Welcome to the wonderful world of running.

August 14, 2010 Posted by | Health and Fitness | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Suggestions to Ensure Good Bone Health as We Age

What can we do to ensure good bone health as we age?

What can you do to ensure bone health as you age? Here are a few suggestions:

 Exercise Regularly; Especially the Weight-Bearing Variety.  In the past few decades, mounting evidence suggests that most people do not participate in enough physical exercise to support strong skeletal growth. A research review published in Sports Health emphasizes that weight-bearing exercises, especially those that include higher levels of strain such as running or jumping, can be effective in enhancing bone health and preventing future diseases and injury.

 Eat Right and Take Bone-Building Supplements. Due to the mass consumption of processed, overcooked and nutrient-depleted foods, most people absorb and utilize too little calcium and vitamin D for good bone health – even if they’re eating foods that are high in both. However, eating a diet that consists primarily of fresh organic fruits and vegetables will do the trick, since most contain healthy levels of calcium, vitamin D and many other beneficial vitamins and minerals readily absorbed by the body.

 Dedicating oneself to getting enough calcium and vitamin D through an organic diet can be challenging, so supplementation becomes necessary. Remember that it’s important to get adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D, since the latter improves absorption of the former.

 What about dairy products? Contrary to popular belief and advertising, dairy products, including cow’s milk, while containing high levels of calcium, are in a form that is not compatible with human digestion, assimilation and absorption. Typically, they also are high in saturated fat, can have high levels of pesticides, antibiotics and hormones, and if pasteurized, contain deactivated enzymes caused by high heat. Dairy products contain lactose, which many people have difficulty absorbing due to the lack of the digestive enzyme lactase.

 Many bone diseases such as osteoporosis and osteopenia are preventable and treatable. Since there are no obvious warning signs for many bone ailments, it is important to be aware of the risks and be proactive in being responsible for one’s own health primarily through diet, supplementation and resistance exercise. Talk to your doctor for more information.

February 20, 2010 Posted by | Health and Fitness | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment