Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.

Archive for May, 2010

8 May

Simple Spinach Salad with Grilled Steak and Raspberry Vinaigrette

steakandspinachsaladThe easiest type of salad dressing to make is vinaigrette: shake or whisk together oil and vinegar, add a little salt and pepper and you’ve got yourself some salad dressing. As anyone who eats salad regularly knows, however, dressing your greens in the same basic vinaigrette day after day gets a little boring. The salad recipe submitted by Reni Westmoreland reminded us that drastically changing the flavor is as simple as changing the type of vinegar you use. If you’ve been reaching for the same bottle of balsamic, or rice wine or apple cider vinegar for your dressings, then Reni’s Raspberry Vinaigrette might just be the change you need.

7 May

How to Improve Thoracic Spine Mobility

thoracicspineBy now, you should be convinced that attaining and maintaining mobility in your thoracic spine is a good idea for many reasons. Kyphosis of the thoracic spine is a virtual epidemic (just take a look around at everyone the next time you’re in a coffee shop or classroom – rounded backs abound) and everyone at some time or another has felt a little twinge of shoulder pain when doing a particularly adamant set of pull-ups.

Before you start with the exercises, let’s first figure out the extent of your thoracic immobility. The industry standardized way of determination is a simple one:

  1. Lie down on the floor, back flat against it.
  2. Your knees should be up with your feet and glutes flat on the floor.
  3. Lock your elbows and bring your arms directly overhead, attempting to touch your wrists to the ground above your head.
  4. Make sure to maintain contact between your lower back and the floor; don’t arch your back to get your hands in place.

If you can’t get into this position and touch your wrists to the ground, you have poor thoracic mobility. If you really had to struggle through discomfort or even pain (don’t fight through pain!), you have less than ideal thoracic mobility. And if you were able to breeze through this drill, you should probably still work on more mobility, just to shore up what you already possess.

6 May

The Importance of Thoracic Spine Mobility

spine 1Do your shoulders slump and round when you walk, sit, or stand?

Do you have trouble keeping your chest up when squatting under a bar or lifting heavy things off the ground?

Do you get lower back or neck pain when doing twisting or rotational movements?

Have you resigned yourself to living with that nagging rotator cuff pain that flares up during workouts and in bed?

If you answered “yes” to any of those (and most people will answer yes to at least one), you may have poor thoracic spine mobility. Even if you don’t notice any of the symptoms leaping out at you, it never hurts to get more mobility, especially in the thoracic spine. And establishing good habits by actively maintaining and training mobility, as opposed to being content with what you have (even if it’s not optimum), is always a good move. Scoff at the prospect of thoracic spine mobility all you want; you still gotta have it.

5 May

The Definitive Guide to Sugar

tablesugarYou’d think this post would come with a blaring alarm, flashing strobe light or at least an ominous gong. Sugar, after all, gets little welcome around these parts. It’s on one hand a dastardly devil, shameless snare for many a man, woman and child. Beyond this luring, ignoble reputation, however, you’ll find (as is so often the case in life and biology) the story is a bit more complicated – and compelling – than the proverbial black hat. Sugar comes in many forms of course, and each of these leaves a certain amount of damage and destruction in its path. Yet, what do we do when sugar naturally accompanies some of the healthiest fare out there? Do we forgo it altogether when a touch ties an otherwise good Primal recipe together? Are the typical substitutions any better when we choose to use a sweetener? We’ve covered the artificial options in the past, but today I’ll give several natural varieties of sugar their due – the obligatory facts, the practical details and a final Primal analysis.

4 May

Putting Out the Fire: Gut Flora and the Inflammatory Cycle

intestineIt’s funny. Once you realize the relationship between nutrition, disease, health, and metabolism is complicated, complex, and completely interdependent, things somehow get a bit simpler. Everything is connected to everything else. Chronic stress begets chronic inflammation, which chronically elevates cortisol, which induces insulin resistance and belly fat accumulation. Celiacs are usually intolerant of casein, too. Diabetics get heart disease more and have higher cancer mortality rates. Diabetics are often insulin resistant and usually overweight. Celiacs are often Type 1 diabetics. The overweight sleep less, work more, and get less sun than leaner folks.

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