Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fit FactorY: Deep Frying = Deep Trouble

Is there anything more delicious than a golden crispy deep-fried breaded chicken with a side of mashed potatoes?

Probably nothing, but you might wanna consider just how unhealthy that dish can be.

We've all heard this song sung at least once: Deep frying is no good. But do we exactly know why? Is it the oil per se? Because I could use a good bottle of olive oil if that were the case.

Sadly, it's not just the oil. The thing that's unhealthy about deep frying is deep frying itself. When you deep fry, the temperature of your oil skyrockets to over 600 to 700 degress fahrenheit. At this temperature, a lot of chemical changes occur, one to note being that the fatty acids become trans fatty acids - which contributes to the hardening of arteries. Think of your stomach becoming a factory of lead paint. Furthermore, if you re-fry the dish, you produce cancer-causing agents called acrolein.

A bit every now and then won't hurt, though. To lessen the harmful effects of frying, try placing vegetables or water in your pan first before adding the oil to keep the temperature to a lower degree. Furthermore, there is some truth about using the right oil for the job. Consider butter, peanut oil, sesame oil, canola oil, olive oil, and sunflower oil high in oleic, because they are not so damaged by the high temperature.

I say why fry when you can bake? Not only is it easier to bake things (Place inside an oven and leave it there as opposed to minding a hot sizzling pan that can just spray you with oil at any minute), but the flavors are also better retained. You also keep fit when you stick to less oily substitutes.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fit FactorY: The Science of Sleep

I recently watched a 60 Minutes stint featuring "The Science of Sleep". It basically highlights the importance of getting a good night's sleep. Ideally, you should be getting at least 7 hours a sleep every night. Otherwise, you will find your attention span and memory skills deteriorating with every night that you don't get enough Zzz's.

What the show failed to emphasize enough is the quality of sleep. There is a big difference between sleeping 7 hours at night but waking up for a few minutes in 2 hour intervals as opposed to sleeping 7 hours straight. Of course, the latter is preferred if you want to keep fit.

However, not all of us have the fortune of sleeping straight. Most of us suffer from what they scientifically call sleep apnea. This is an extremely frustrating condition to have. I should know, because I am one of the victims of this. I wake up at least twice in the middle of the night, such that when I wake up in the morning, I don't feel as refreshed as I ought to be despite the total hours I put into my snooze.

There are a lot of tips out there that can aid you in your sleep. I find these tips the most helpful (they have not completely eradicated my waking up in the middle of the night, but I am at least having an easier time falling asleep now):

1. Make a complete distinction between your wake up time and sleepy time through light.
When you wake up, make sure you turn on the lights, let the sunlight in, etc. to let your body clock know that it's morning. Conversely, if you're going to bed, make sure
you keep your room as dim as possible.

2. Slather some lavender oil on your body.
The soothing smell of this oil relaxes you and helps you in your sleep.

3. Don't drink too much water an hour before you plan to sleep.
If you drink too much water, you'll end up waking up to go to the toilet frequently.

4. Establish a night routine.
Do the same routine every night before bed time, one that involves relaxing yourself (ex. taking a warm bath, light reading, meditation) so that psychologically, you will start to feel sleepy just by doing your night routine.

5. Bedtime snacks, anyone?
Try taking a glass of warm milk or a cup of hot chamomile tea, or eating a banana. Banana, milk, and tea is a Tryptophan amino acid factory.

Hopefully, these tips can help you too.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Fit FactorY: Healthy "Fast Food"

In this fast-paced world we live in, it's hard not to go inside a fast food restaurant for a quick chow. Here are three simple ways to make sure that it does not go against your desire to stay fit and healthy:

1. Ditch the fancy drink
One of the easiest and most effective ways to cut down on calories and sugar is to drink water with your meal. If you find water too bland, you can improvise by placing a lemon slice inside your water. Or ordering hot tea sans the sugar.

2. Pay careful attention to those "add-ons"
You order your burger, and it usually comes with mayonnaise, ketchup, and/or mustard. Try asking them to lessen the condiments they put into the food, as these add-ons not only add flavor but also add a lot of calories, fat, and sodium.

3. Check the nutrition facts
Did you know that even fast food joint websites show their nutrition facts on the web? You can check out the nutrition facts of Wendy's and McDonald's, for instance, here:

Wendy's Nutrition Facts
McDonald's Nutrition Facts

So you can get a better idea of what to order and what not to order.

~ Fit FactorY

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Fit FactorY: Multivitamins - Are they just a load of crap?

I saw this very catchy, compelling article on yahoo entitled, "Are you Wasting Money on Multivitamins?" And this should compel you too if you're spending X dollars on multivitamins every single day of your life.

You can view it here:

In a nutshell, the article states that:

1. Folic acid supplements are important for pregnancy
2. Vitamin D / Calcium supplements for older people or people with fractures
3. Vitamin C, E, Zinc for people with macular degeneration.
4. Multivitamins for those on a diet, vegans, heavy alcohol drinkers, and the malnourished / (un fit people)

The article goes on to conclude that if you eat healthy, then you don't need to take multivitamins. The question though, is this: How do you know if you're eating healthy? If you're eating enough?

Personally, since this article does not say anything bad about taking multivitamins, I'd continue taking them, just for good measure. It's too difficult to figure out if you're actually taking a proper diet.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Can you really never have enough Vitamin C?

My sister, who has no medical degree whatsoever, espouses the idea that you can never have too much Vitamin C. Any amount you take over the normal recommended dose, she says, will just make its way out of your body.

This isn't actually true.

An overdose of vitamin C, at the very least, may cause stomach problems - diarrhea, gas, stomach cramps. Sometimes, the effects can be a bit more serious - severe cramps, nausea, and risks for kidney stones. Again, a good way to stay fit is to make this line your mantra: "Anything in excess is bad".

What should be the recommended dose (RDA) for Vitamin C?

Here's the tricky part. Some say that the recommended Vitamin C dose on normal days is 200 - 500 mg for healthy people. For pregnant or lactating women, dose should be lowered to 75-95 mg per day. If you're feeling under the weather, upping the dosage to 1000 mg is fine.

Some, on the other hand, say that people can actually drink up to 25,000 mg of Vitamin C a day without any problems.

The Vitamin C foundation recommends taking at least 3 g of Vit. C a day, and then goes on to say that you should take even more Vit C when you're pregnant (up to 6 grams), and take up to 300,000 mg when you're sick.

This other article tried pushing the limit and said overdosing Vitamin C was fine for him.

It's rather perplexing to note that the RDA for Vitamin C is different, depending on the source and the category of people taking it:

60-95 mg = U.S. Recommended Intake
200 mg = Levin/NIH Recommendation
400 mg = Current Linus Pauling Institute Recommendation
2500 mg = Hickey/Roberts minimum
3000 mg = Vitamin C Foundation's daily recommendation
6000-12000 mg = Levy's daily recommendation
6000-18000 mg = Pauling's daily recommendation
6000-9000 mg = Pregnancy
6000-18000 mg = Heart Disease
14000-30000 mg = Cancer
20000-300000 mg = Cathcart/Levy Cure for Infectious Diseases

So while overdosing seems to be something that is generally not accepted, it seems that the real definition of an overdose in Vitamin C seems to be missing.

Unfortunately, I don't have the final answer to this question either. But, my personal preference would be the 200-500mg (healthy days) to 1000mg (under the weather days) dosage. For one thing, if everyone followed the 6000mg a day dosage, I think we'd be needing more than 1 new Vitamin C factory built everywhere.

How about you guys? How much Vitamin C do you take?