When it comes to pregnancy, Heidi Klum is the anti-Christ. Not only has she delivered three children in as many years, but her body has rebounded—to Victoria’s Secret’s expectations no less—each and every time. Her secret? A comprehensive fitness routine during pregnancy (and freaky German supermodel genes.)
But even if you don’t plan on strutting down the fashion runway on the way home from the maternity ward, working out while you’re waiting for your little bundle of joy to debut has many benefits. Physically, exercising while pregnant can reduce aches and pains, prevent wear and tear on your joints (which become loosened during pregnancy) and help your body snap back more quickly after delivery (although I can’t promise you’ll ever look like Heidi!). In addition, a good fitness plan can help temper mood swings (not that the hormone-fueled emotional rollercoaster pregnancy invokes isn’t a laugh-a-minute), reduce fatigue and improve sleep. Still need convincing? Women who exercise have shorter and less intense labors.
Lack of sleep, stress, not washing your hands, going out the door with damp hair (according to my Mum at least). The common thread? Things that can make you sick.
Now add working out to that list.
Yep, according to researchers at Australia’s Griffith University, elite athletes may be more susceptible to harmful pathogens than their couch potato counterparts.
Alright students, you’ve made it through biology 101, mastered the life and times of antioxidants and free radicals (and perhaps learned a little about the latest hip hop rivalry), but now its time to talk math, or specifically, how to measure the value of antioxidant-rich foods.
One method of measuring antioxidant capacity is the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). Developed by the Baltimore-based National Institute of Aging, the calculation specifically measures the oxidative degradation of fluorescein (the stuff that the hotties on C.S.I. spray to detect the presence of blood, though not in this case) as it reacts with an agent called peroxyl radical (a free radical). Seem easy enough? Nice try. The reaction between the antioxidant and the free radical is then measured at 35 minute intervals to create a graphic curve that is then used as the basis for trolox equivalents (TE), or, in non-geek terms, the measure of a compounds potential for absorbing free radicals.
While the body’s internal battle between antioxidants and free radicals certainly gets less press coverage than the Kanye vs 50 Cent feud, the war is vital for healthy living (although admittedly, it’s not yet clear how it influences the sale of Cristal!)
In the red corner are free radicals, or molecules with unpaired electrons. Like Renee Zellweger in Jerry Maguire, this little lady is an unstable molecule just looking for someone special—or, in this case, another electron—to complete her. So rather than signing up for an online dating service like all the other lonely 30-somethings, this molecule barges in on other molecules, altering their chemical structure and causing damage to otherwise healthy cells. These free radicals, which in our bodies most frequently appear in the form of oxygen, are a natural by-product of various cell activities, but can also be created through exposure to tobacco smoke, chemicals, UV radiation and other environmental factors.
Raw food has gotten a lot of press lately because a number of studies have suggested cooking depletes vegetables’ key nutrients. As those of you who frequent the MDA community know, we’ve tried to stay out of the fray. In short, we support vegetables—in a pot or not.
Now it’s time for an update—and a little validation. A recent study out of Italy suggests that certain cooking methods may be just fine for our beloved veggies, thank you very much, and may even increase the power of some healthy compounds:
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